Shouto saw hands over the edge of the kotatsu. Gripping the wooden surface with manicured nails. He could see the knuckles arching over the edge and under like someone was gripping it from below.
He didn’t think anyone would be under the table, hidden in the folds of the blanket. He saw the hand clearly from the corner of his eye- freezing him instantly. It was pale and small, not like the scarred thick calloused hands of his father. He didn’t think his father could fit under the table to begin with.
It didn’t move, and Shouto was overcome with the chilling realization that someone had come to kill him. Someone had slipped into his house, and was waiting to assassinate him. Endeavor was a big name, he had countless enemies. Shouto was going to die.
With a shaky breath and a slightly spinning vision, he turned to look at the table directly. Maybe if he had enough time, he could use his ice to-.
Shouto stopped and blinked quickly.
There was no hand on the table.
Shouto couldn’t see out of his one eye, hidden behind the thick cotton of his bandage. It smelled like something sharp and fragrant, gels and creams to try and reduce the swelling and the pinching of the skin. He heard whispers behind doors about how his eye could heal wrong; although the surface itself wasn’t damaged the lid and loose tissue had shriveled. Maybe he wouldn’t be able to blink again, and the constant air exposure would leave his eye to shrivel like a raisin and fall out from his socket.
He could hear the doctors behind the closed door of his bedroom, sometimes accompanied by his father’s low rumble of a voice. He could see the flicker of shadows moving at the crease of his door, pausing slightly before moving on further.
Sometimes Shouto woke up in the middle of the night, staring blindly at the ceiling of his room. He could still hear the small murmurs, the doctors whispering worriedly over his condition. They must have talked all night long, deliberating just outside his door even at four in the morning. Shouto wondered how many doctors there were, other than the one who fixed his bandage twice a day. He wondered when they slept.
There was always someone watching him, especially now that his mother had been removed. He understood it, but on a smaller note he didn’t. Obviously it was his fault, he had done something to make her so upset with him. He was the reason she hurt him, why the kettle started boiling and then was poured over his face.
Maybe if he was better she wouldn’t have done that? Maybe if he was better Touya wouldn’t have vanished? Shouto knew it was because he was happy three days before Touya vanished. Because he was happy or because of him Touya left. His father was upset, but he trained Shouto and made him use his ice over and over and he knew that people were watching. Maybe his father’s friends or coworkers were watching him. Shouto didn’t remember when his father had installed the new walls, where people could see through and watch but Shouto couldn’t see out. He didn’t remember them ever being replaced but he could feel the dozens of eyes watching his every movement as he hit the floor again and again, skin prickling in burning and the rough grip of a dozen hands clutching at his shoulders and face and pulling on his lips until the corner of his mouth tore.
Sometimes he thought he was hurt worse than he was, but when he checked his skin was only slightly red and not blistering like how he thought he could feel. He summoned ice and fought back, ignoring the insults his father threw at him, because his father insulted him always. He didn’t mind it because he could wake up at any point in the night and his father would be screaming at him through the walls. He wondered how his father ever got any sleep.
If Shouto walked on the floor just right, hopping and stepping on particular tatami squares, his mother would get better. He didn’t know when, or how many times he needed to do it but he knew that walking on the certain squares would make her much better. He did it six times every day, back and forth just to be sure.
Shouto woke up when he was thirteen, staring in the darkness of the ceiling above him.
The house was quiet, but he could hear the breathing ever so slightly from under his bed. He didn’t dare move, he didn’t dare look. He knew there was something there, and it sent adrenaline and terror spiking through his body until he twitched with it ever so slightly.
“Don’t worry,” it said to him, clearly but very calmly. Comforting Shouto- it too knew that it was very intimidating. “I won’t kill your sister.”
Shouto breathed shakily, and tried to go back to sleep. It said it wouldn’t hurt her, so he didn’t have any reason to panic.
There was a hand dancing across the counter top, running on its fingertips quickly out of sight. A flash of pale flesh, like a rat running through a back alley. Shouto tensed but tried not to look at it. He didn’t want to draw attention to it. It was out of sight anyways, so it was unlikely his father would see it.
Shouto hurriedly tried to finish his food, ignoring the way he was now fairly sure the hand was gripping the back of his chair.
There were tests for Shouto to take, to get in on recommendations. Various exams he had to sit still for and take. Hours of studying, hours of ignoring the doctors that still talked about how his face was wrong and unsightly. He was very good at the tests, and he was very good when they asked him to show his quirk. Passing everything, never hesitating. He wondered if he should tell the staff how in the waiting room, you could hear everything they were saying. It seemed like a confidentiality breach, or a way to lose secrecy over sensitive topics. Or maybe it was intentional with how they were tossing around how much of a failure he was, how Todoroki Shouto barely scraped by and was on par of idiocy with an infant. How his quirk was so poorly handled and how it was a failure to his father’s legacy and everything in it. Shouto wondered how he ever got into UA, or maybe it was just a pity passing.
He didn’t ask his father about it. He didn’t like to talk to his father about much.
There was a camera in the vents, where Shouto couldn’t unscrew the bolts with his nails. He had to smuggle a screwdriver to open it, but his father or whoever put it there always knew. The moment Shouto managed to find a screwdriver, they hid the camera. Every time he opened the vent to look, it wasn’t there. It moved to somewhere else, but in a few hours it would return from its hiding spot and Shouto knew it was watching him.
Shouto started changing in the closet, ignoring how he could see the shadows of mice scurrying between his shoes.
Aizawa-Sensei didn’t say it to Todoroki’s face, but he could hear it all the same. Sitting in his chair at the back of the room; ignoring the birds which were smashed against the windows and stuck there from the force of their impact alone.
“Todoroki Shouto is performing pathetically. Such a waste of any potential. Truly, if only his abilities were in anyone else. I hate the investment of my time and resources into such a dead end.”
There was a hand on the corner of Shoji’s desk, resting there unassumingly. Todoroki tried not to stare at it, he tried to ignore the dozens of cameras the size of spiders crawling throughout the classroom to watch him. The cameras the press hid in the walls, the microphones above the ceiling tiles waiting to capture his mistakes the moment he spoke. Todoroki didn’t speak then, he remained quiet and stared forward and tried to ignore the blisters that bubbled on the back of his neck.
You’re an utter disgrace.
You can’t even answer this question right.
You’re the reason why mother is in the hospital. You were too happy and she went to the hospital.
You’re going to die, Shouto.
Todoroki stared forward, reading the lines of Kanji. He knew that if he walked forwards towards the blackboard, the little symbols would divide and divide until they were too small to read anymore. He was better off in the back anyways, that ways when someone came into the room to murder him people would be between the door, and himself. He could always jump out of the window, if he didn’t smash and stick like the dozens of birds adhered to the glass.
He could do this, he had to make his father proud.
On the trains home, he could see men pushing shopping carts besides the tracks. So close the train nearly bent the metal and mauled their skin.
He didn’t think the trains really cared much, that’s why they didn’t do anything about the child stuck halfway in the doors with the little poodle purse filled with mochi. She blinked, or at least Todoroki thought she did. Her other eye was on the outside of the train; the doors cut her in half cleanly. Todoroki liked her pigtails.
When he did homework, one of his siblings kept opening and closing the fridge. He could hear the suction, the whirring as the motor worked to maintain temperature. It would open again, then close. Todoroki was nearly ready to stomp over, spit out that if they wanted food, just pick something already. It continued for a little while, eventually a faucet turning on.
A TV had been buzzing somewhere for hours. Todoroki didn’t know that they had a TV, or at least, not one out in open.
He squinted and focused on his algebraic equations. He wasn’t doing as wonderful as he wanted to, he was a bit worried for the upcoming test.
Someone was going to kill him. Someone or something was on its way and it was going to kill him. His breathing was shaky, far too loud. He could hear muffled laughter from the doctors, they were at least trying to hide it. To disguise it politely. Something was going to kill him and Shouto couldn’t do anything to stop it. He was going to die, something was going to kill him.
It’s okay. The thing told him gently, watching him from the cameras in the vent and the microphones in the door frames. I won’t kill you tonight.
Todoroki watched the hands crawl across the ground, skittering quickly before vanishing out of sight. He saw the shadows flicker, moving in basic shapes. There was a man pushing a shopping cart.
“Move!” Someone screamed at him, and he moved. The man pushing the shopping cart changed, and then Bakugou was pinning him to the ground. Hand on the metal collar the shopping card used to be made out of.
He could hear talking, whispers and giggling behind his back. He knew it was dangerous to have an enemy behind him, but the large creature attacking All Might was too dangerous to let go. He stared at it, icing and focusing and trying to ignore the way he could feel the eyes watching him. USJ had a lot of cameras.
The man screeched, scratching at his neck. There were hands all over him, covering his with pale fleshy fingers. Todoroki wondered how he could see, and then thought with a horrified realization, that it seemed very odd to have hands crawling around. Hands couldn’t crawl around on their own, a hand on your face would block your eyesight. It was something you’d notice.
There’s something wrong with me, he realized coldly. Shivering from something. Dozens of voices laughed at him, jeering at the idea that only now he figured that out? God, he really was a waste of space. He really was a pathetic abomination with an unsightly face-.
When the police came, they asked Todoroki if he could hear anything unusual from Kurogiri.
“Kurogiri.” The police officer kindly pointed out, placing a picture on the table. Shadows and mist and shadows which weren’t real and-
“His quirk is warp gate,” the police officer continued very calmly, “he resembles black shadows and is able to change his shape.”
Todoroki’s heart froze, and shattered like diamond dust.
“Shadows?” He echoed, trying to ignore the screams over how stupid he was.
“Yes,” The police officer sighed, “what about Shigaraki? He was the one with hands all over his body.”
“You saw the hands?” Todoroki asked, ignoring the sound of someone opening and closing the door. He didn’t look.
“...yes?” The police officer looked startled, “they were quite the look.”
Todoroki held himself together and answered the questions. There wasn’t anything wrong with him after all. They could see them too. Todoroki was just making too big a deal out of things again, he was messing up again.
Todoroki got back to class; Aizawa had a knife in his left shoulder. Todoroki watched as his teacher continued to teach, unable to write due to the slings and bandages. Todoroki watched the blood spread, seeping out from the knife in his shoulder. It dripped loudly, echoing around the room.
Todoroki blinked; he ignored it and took notes.
“It’s your power! Use it!”
Todoroki lit himself on fire, burning through the air to accept the smoke and haze that clouded his skull. He let it burn, a warped grin twisting his face. He was on display, the world watching him as his flesh burned and pulled back to expose slick muscle and blood and-
Someone from the audience screamed over the swooshing burn of the fire. “Todoroki! Burn yourself alive!”
Midnight didn’t intervene, and Todoroki considered it quite clearly.
He took second place, accepting the metal. Bakugou thrashed next to him, confined in a metal cage. The cameras flashed and Todoroki’s skin itched and crawled as he started to burn.
“Hey, Shouto.” Someone spoke when he was doing homework in his living room. “You should take a knife and go kill your old man.”
Todoroki set his pencil down. He peered around the room. There was nobody there.
You’re going to die. It told him gently, hands and long fingers curling over the edge of his footboard. “You’re going to die.” Shouto heard.
Shouto stared for a moment before he rolled over and tried to go back to sleep.
Stain was arrested and Midoriya was heaving breaths, Shouto’s head burned and blood trickled down his arm.
He heard someone scream, so he spun to look.
“What’s wrong?” Midoriya panted, leaning against him heavily.
“I- someone screamed.” Todoroki informed him, trying to ignore just how tired he felt.
“Heroes are here.” Midoriya slurred, bone weary and slumping. “They can handle it.”
They were putting toxins and poisons in his IV. It was clear fluid but it was going to boil him alive. If he was in a room alone, without Midoriya and Iida, he would have ripped it out. It was another assassination attempt, another one to try and kill him off. The League of Villains were getting desperate, to try and poison him in a hospital.
Or maybe it wasn’t a hospital at all. Maybe it was all a big cover story and the entire operation was fake. Maybe the nurses weren’t nurses, they were minions who were going to come in and steal his blood or his corpse after he died and-.
Todoroki showered after a training exercise. He closed his eyes, rinsing soap and sweat.
“You’re dead.” Someone told him, very convincingly.
‘That makes sense’ he thought, and rinsed off soap. He turned off the water, and walked to his towel to dry.
He was dead, he must have died in the training exercise. He got changed, in the locker room. Nobody acknowledged him, joking with one another. That once again, made sense; he was dead so nobody would talk to him.
He went back to class because his books were there. He should at least take them away since there was no point leaving his things around. He bundled up his things, stared at his desk contently, then waited. It would be rude to leave in the middle of class.
Todoroki went home once school ended, and wondered curiously about who would go to his funeral. He wondered if his mother would, he hadn’t seen her in such a long time.
He woke up the next morning shaken, and knowing he was very much alive.
Aizawa strung him up on a lamppost for the final exam. Dropping throwing stars below so Todoroki couldn’t use his quirk to escape.
“Stay there.” Aizawa told him, already running out of sight. “I’ll come back to hang you later.”
‘Right’ Todoroki realized distantly. He was going to die.
He started to squirm, fighting against the bindings.
“Todoroki!” Midoriya shouted.
He looked up quickly; there was nobody there.
Momo came to get him later, after he was sure Midoriya, Iida, and Cementoss had broken in to kill him themselves.
Todoroki did not like being in a pot. The idea was ingenious, sure, but he did not like training by standing in a pot. He didn’t like it at all- where was he supposed to put his hands? Why was he using his quirk when they were obviously trying to boil him for dinner?
He iced, then burned and boiled. How much longer until someone would slit his throat and eat him already? His toes were turning into prunes and his sweat would sour the soup.
“A while longer.” Aoyama confirmed for him from behind his back. Shouto didn’t look, if they wanted sweat in the dinner then okay. He iced again, then fired. Again and again. He was a failure, he was an absolute disgrace. There were hawks in the trees with cameras in their eyes and he was going to boil and boil until meat pulled away from his bones.
“You should never have been born.” Aizawa sighed out disappointingly, walking just behind his back. Todoroki didn’t look over his shoulder, not sure what he’d do with the visual confirmation.
Bakugou vanished, and Todoroki wondered why he should keep fighting when he would be better off dead.
They took Bakugou back. Todoroki ran with Momo through the streets. Careful to hop over the cracks of the sidewalk. He couldn’t ever step on a crack, or someone would stab his mother. Even when running for his life and disguised, he could never step on a crack in the sidewalk.
“You should kill her!” Someone shouted at him from across the street. Todoroki didn’t let go of Momo’s hand.
They moved into the dorms and Shouto smiled. He nodded along and showed everyone his room. He knew they planted bugs then, microphones and wires to watch him sleep. To judge him and to figure out the best way to use him before they finished the job.
Paranoia prickled on his skin, at night when he lay on the floor without a mattress. Never again, he wouldn’t give the monster a space to hide under.
It took to his closet now, so he kept his door closed always. He knew it could look out from between the slats, staring at him at night.
Someone had a faucet running, but UA would pay the water bills. He ignored it, staring at the closet.
“You should kill them.” It told him plainly, a gentle soothing voice. “There are knives in the kitchen. You should stab someone.”
Todoroki listened to the faucet and tried to ignore how he could see the hands gripping the closet door motionlessly- hanging there like a statue.
“Hey Todoroki!” Uraraka chirped in the morning, wearing a plush robe and fluffy slippers. “I made tea! Would you like some? Can you slit my throat?”
Todoroki’s eyes flashed up, Uraraka kept grinning at him happily.
Midoriya and Bakugou were grounded for fighting. They were fighting over who would have the honor of choking Shouto to death in the night.
“You need to kill them. You need to kill them, Shouto.”
“I don’t want to.” Shouto sobbed back, voice cracking brokenly. Hands fisting his hair, twining and tugging the strands.
“You need to.” It urged him gently. “You need to kill them, Shouto!”
He didn’t want to, he didn’t want to, he didn’t want to-
“Take a knife and go stab someone!” It was getting snappish, getting mad. They were all watching him, spitting insults over how pathetic he was, over how useless and what a waste of space and Shouto wanted it to stop.
“Kill them.” It demanded. Authority, like his father and like his sensei.
Todoroki grabbed a knife, the closest one on the block. A steak knife with small serrations, he gripped the handle in a shaking sweating hand.
“You have to be good, Shouto.” His father told him.
He could feel the hand on his shoulder, hair brushing his jaw. “I love you Shouto,” his mother whispered.
Todoroki felt tears trace over his cheeks, his grip was shaking.
“Kill them.” his mother whispered.
Todoroki nodded jerkily, and walked out of the kitchen.
Kirishima was sitting on the couch, working on homework Todoroki had already finished. He had his hair up in a bandanna, keeping it away from his face. Todoroki could hear people in the stairwell, peeking out from the crack of the door frame to watch him. They were whispering over how much of a mistake he was.
“Hey man!” Kirishima grinned, hearing Todoroki walk closer. Kirishima’s expression faltered, eyebrows raising in alarm, “Whoa, Todoroki? Are you okay? Bro, you’re crying what’s-.”
Todoroki jerked his hand forward, because his father told him to. He missed, aim too far to the side. It sunk into soft skin, before meeting harsh resistance and stopping instantly.
Kirshima screamed out a curse, rolling backwards away over the coffee table. His hardened skin tore up his notebook, scratching the glass. The knife stuck out like a coat hanger, sticking from the soft skin above his collarbone.
“Holy shit dude!” Kirishima gaped, hands coming up to hold the knife. His jaw dropped in horror, looking at Torodoki terrified. “You- you just stabbed me?”
“You piece of shit.” His father hissed, heavy hands grabbing the back of Todoroki’s neck to squeeze. Harder and harder, spiders were crawling up his leg. “I’m going to kill you.”
Todoroki choked and sobbed. Kirishima slammed his fist against the panic alarm on the first floor of the Dorms. The building entered lock down and instantly, a siren began wailing.
“You’re pathetic!” His father screamed at him.
“I should have killed you!” His mother wailed, loud and shaking in his ears. He could hear other people shouting at him, the grip around his throat tighter and tighter.
“Whoa whoa,” Kirishima wheezed out, more alarmed than hurt. “Todoroki? Todoroki breathe, what’s going on-.”
“I’m sorry.” Todoroki choked out, shaking hands covering his ears although it didn’t lower the volume in the slightest. “ Shut up!”
Kirishima took two steps backwards, keeping a safe distance. The door burst open, and Aizawa slid into the room.
Todoroki stared at his arms, trying to understand where the leather of the restraining cuff ended and where his hand began.
His hand and arm was made out of skin, which was just leather wasn’t it? That meant that the cuff went over his entire body, he was the cuff now. Or maybe his skin now branched out to the bedpost and latched around it. Maybe the leather and skin fused into a single thing. He had a new limb then, the cuff was now him.
“Are you doing okay, dearie?” Recovery Girl asked him gently, soothing voice as she looked at him worriedly.
Her words were slurred and distorted, speeding up and slowing down oddly.
Todoroki jingled the cuffs helplessly. “I don’t want new limbs.”
He came to a horrifying realization, “you’re going to have to amputate me to get me off the bed.”
Maybe that meant he was now the bed. He wasn’t Todoroki he was the bed and he was a part of it and where did he end and the bed begin because the bed was clearly not made out of leather.
Todoroki felt tears over his face, his chest jerking with sobs. He didn’t want his limbs to be cut off.
Recovery Girl watched in agony.
They called it Paranoid Schizophrenia. Apparently his mother had something similar, and now he had it too.
“They’re going to lock you up forever,” someone sighed from behind his bed, just far enough away he couldn't look to see who it was. “You’re never going to be a hero.”
“Don’t be mean, he never had a chance at all.”
“Failure, useless waste-.”
“You should never have been born.”
“Your own parents-.”
“You’re going to die.”
Todoroki, was going to die.