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Symbol of Love

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Izuku sat in the waiting room in the hospital. The chair was uncomfortable and no matter how much he wiggled on it he couldn't find a comfortable position. The smell of disinfection was strong in his nose and far too familiar to him at this point. It made him nauseas, thinking about all the time he had spent in hospitals. The flowers were plastic - probably because of allergies - and therefore did nothing to dilute the awful smell. The room was empty except for him and his mom and the only sound was that of the ticking clock. It counted out every insufferable slow second of waiting.  Izuku couldn’t stand the silence but neither did he want to talk to his mom. He had a feeling the only thing that would leave his mouth was nervous word vomit. 

It was time for his first session with the eye therapist that would help him deal with the loss of the sight on one eye. Since it was his first time both him and his mom had been really nervous and had ended up going to the hospital half an hour early. He was beginning to realise that had been a mistake. It left him with far too much time to think.

At least he had brought his notebook with him to keep himself busy. His mom was not as lucky. She sat next to him, reading a magazine about fashion. By the lazy way she turned the pages and how her eyes every now and then swept around the room Izuku could tell she wasn’t really into it. There just wasn’t anything else for her to do. 

It was Monday afternoon and since his meeting with All Might and Nighteye last week he had managed to fill out a bit more in the notebook. At least his basic powers. It took a frustratingly long time with his messed up hand. 

He read through it for what felt like the millionth time in the least quarter hour.

Midoriya Izuku

Quirk: Guardian angel

The quirk have several powers that at first seems like completely different quirks but all combines to fulfil a single goal: to protect the people I love. 

Imprinting :

For the quirk to activate I have to ‘imprint’ on people - this is accomplished by a declaration of love. It appears the declaration does not have to be completely conscious, though a verbal response seems to be needed. This was discovered after I said the words: “He knows how much I love All Might“, which was really about Kacchan but I still ended up teleporting to All Might. This suggests that even indirect declarations of love, as long as they are true, count. 

After the first declaration I teleport to the person it was directed to and as I do a new light appears in my blind eye (I guess that if I'd never been blinded I would only see the lights when I close my eyes). This completes the imprinting process. 

Lights :

So far I have imprinted on three people and I can therefore see three lights. The first person I imprinted on was my mom (Midoriya Inko), and it was at that same moment my quirk manifested (see further down for the full retelling of the event). Mom’s light is orange in colour and the biggest and brightest of the three. All lights also emit feelings that seems to be connected to the person. Mom’s light feels like warmth and comfort. Gentleness and strength. It feels like a warm hug and my favourite meals cooked with love. Mom feels like home. 

The second person I imprinted on was Kacchan (Bakugou Katsuki). Kacchan’s light was at imprinting mostly blue with an aura of yellow. It was a bit smaller than mom’s. Since then the yellow and the blue have ‘battled’ and after a fight between me and Kacchan the light became completely yellow. Kacchan’s light feels like anger and adoration. Insecurity and strength. Protectiveness and competitiveness. It feels like the burn of explosions against my skin and bruises caused by rough play.

The third and last person I have imprinted on is All Might. Strangely enough my quirk registered him as Yagi Toshinori, which I learned actually is his true name. I for sure did not know this before and this suggests my quirk holds some kind of awareness outside of my consciousness. All Might’s light was completely yellow at imprint but has since then gotten a more orange shade. It has also grown somewhat in size. His light feels like adoration and worship. Strength and protectiveness. Determination and stubbornness. It feels like a pat on the back and bright smiles. 

I’m sure the different colours and the size of the lights mean something but since there is so few of them I can’t be sure (I wish I was allowed to imprint on more people but also understands mom's point). Though I do have a few theories. I think the colour signifies the kind of love while the brightness and size signifies how strong my love is. Mom's light is the only one that hasn't changed in colour while both All Might's and Kacchan's have changed as our relationship changed. Based on the fact that All Might's light was yellow before I really knew him and that Kacchan's light have become yellow after our fight I guess yellow is not a good colour. But I think that both blue and orange is good colours.

Teleportation :

After the lights appear I can teleport to any of the people I love by focusing on the right light. While doing so the feelings the light emits begins to fill me and the light grows in both brightness and size until it completely overtakes the darkness and the other lights. At the same time a glowing, green heart appears in the middle of my chest and from it green tendrils spreads until it covers my whole body. When all of me is covered I will teleport to the person I focused on. 

All my current explorations points to the same conclusion: when teleporting I will appear in a random, open space within 10 meters of the person. I have no idea what would happen if there is no open space big enough for me within that 10 meters radius and I'm not exactly eager to try. 

Side effects of teleporting are headache and nausea. If I teleport several times in a row these side effects gets gradually worse. 

It also seems I’m able to bring things with me. My clothes always remain on my body as well as any things I’m holding onto. I want to test if there is some kind of limit to how big or heavy the objects can be .

Detection :

Guardian angel can detect when one of the people I have imprinted on are in danger or hurt. It makes me feel a great need to protect them that can be so overwhelming my quirk activates on its own. The greater the danger the greater the need to protect. The pain for ignoring my quirk gets worse depending on how long I ignore it and how great the danger is. 

The pain is like all the molecules in my body are being ripped apart and fused together again and again for all of eternity. I would rather die than feel it again. So if All Might or any of the other people I’ve imprinted on is ever in that kind of danger again I will break my promise to mom without a second notice. Dying to protect the people I love is the better alternative to the torture. 

Shield:

When the people I’ve imprinted on are in danger I can create a shield around them. The shield glows with a green light. So far it doesn't seem to be a limit to how much damage the shield can withstand. It have protected mom from a fire and stopped a skyscraper from crushing All Might. The shield remains even if I fall unconscious but disappear once the danger ends. The backlash seems to be bleeding from my nose, ears and eyes and in more extreme cases even in my lungs. 

I wonder if the strength of the shield can be changed so that I don’t have to use it to the fullest in situations in which it isn’t necessary. I also wonder if I can have multiple shields up at once.

Healing :

The last power is the ability to transfer wounds from one of the persons I’ve imprinted on onto myself.  It is really hard to ignore the urge to take the wounds upon myself. Negative effect on me is of course that I get injured.

Next he would write down all his experiences using his quirk but considering it included both his rescue of mom and All Might it might take a while. Especially with his messed up hand. He was also considering coming up with some kind of code as Nighteye had suggested. After that he would write down all future experimentation and thoughts he had about his quirk. 

Humming while he thought Izuku turned towards his mom. She was still idly looking through the magazine and absentmindedly brushed a green strand of hair behind her ear. “Mom, could I get another notebook soon?”

She blinked down at him, eyes flickering towards the notebook in his hands. Not even a quarter of it was filled yet. “What for?”

“This notebook is for my quirk only; I would like another one to write down my analyses of heroes in.” It felt better to separate the two.

Inko smiled and ruffled his hair. He leaned into the touch and felt an immediate sense of loss when she removed her hand. “Of course, daring, I’ll get you one as soon as I can.”

“Thank you!” He gave her a sideways hug and practically melted into her arms when she returned it. She smelt of laundry detergent and her flowery perfume. It was an achingly familiar and comfortable smell. Few things could make him feel more at peace.

The sound of the door opening made him pull back, cheeks reddening a bit at being caught hugging his mom in public. At almost nine years old Izuku couldn't decide if hugging his mom was embarrassing or not.

First a teenage girl entered. Izuku guessed she was about 15, maybe 16 years old. Her hair immediately caught his interest. It was shoulder length and mostly white but with red patches here and there, like blood splattered in snow. The thought made him shudder. A pair of red glasses rested on her nose and grey eyes glinted behind them. She was dressed in a white blouse and blue jeans. Her movements was timid and there was something skittish in the way her eyes flickered around the room, as if she expected someone to jump out at her at any moment.

Next a boy stepped into the room, of about the same age as Izuku, and he immediately caught – and held – all of Izuku's attention. His back was straight and poised like a king walking down the halls of his castle. The curve of his shoulders was confident and relaxed. His steps were careful and precise as if he stepped on shattered glass, but at the same time with an assurance behind them that suggested he was not afraid of getting cut. The colouring of his hair was the same as the girl's and Izuku guessed they were brother and sister. But instead of her white with flecks of red his colours were separated cleanly down the middle, as sharp as if a blade had cut the hair in two. The right side was white as newly fallen snow, as the clouds up high, and the boy seemed just as cold and unreachable. The left side was red as blood, as fire, and warned of the blistering heat that could lash out if needed. But at the same time the hair seemed soft as silk and Izuku felt a sudden desire to card his fingers through it - no matter how biting cold or searing hot it might be.

The boy's skin was pale and unscathed except for a deep red scar around his left eye. His face was expressionless and Izuku was unable to read any emotion from it. But when Izuku looked into his eyes - one grey like a great storm with winds strong enough to tear roofs from houses and carry men high into the air, the other a blue turquoise of warm waters hiding dangerous currents that could drag a man to sea and drown him, if not the sharks ate him first - he saw a profound sadness of the like he had never seen before. It made his heart ache and tears springing to his own eyes as if some echo of that same sadness had lodged itself into Izuku. In that moment Izuku wanted nothing more than to lend a helping hand and lift some of the sadness. If he could lighten the boy’s burden only a smidge it would have made him the happiest person in the world. Struck with this sudden desire Izuku knew what he had to do.

He waited until the siblings sat down in a pair of chairs and made themselves comfortable before rising to his feet. When his mom made a questioning noise he turned slightly to give her a reassuring smile, but otherwise didn't stop. He was on a mission.

Izuku approached the siblings the same way you approach a wild rabbit; slowly and carefully but with a certain amount of confidence; since wild things could smell fear it was not an emotion you should allow to linger even a second in your heart. He stopped a few steps from them, as you never force your presence directly upon a wild creature.

The girl glanced at him and offered up a small smile but otherwise didn't pay him any attention. The boy looked up as Izuku stopped in front of him and met his eyes, one storm grey and one sapphire blue. It was then Izuku realised his mistake; this boy was no skittish rabbit. He was a proud wolf, though one wounded too many times to be trustful of others. Still it was far too late for Izuku to back down, and neither did he want to. That profound sadness still sat deeply in the boy's heart and the thin sheet of dangerous steel covering it could not sway Izuku’s desire to help.

“Hello”, Izuku said, his voice soft, a small smile on his lips; though he wisely showed no teeth, as that could be taken wrongly. “My name is Midoriya Izuku. What is your name?”

Those eyes scanned him from the top of his curly, green hair to the bottom of his red sneakers. Nothing about his face revealed what he thought of the sight before him. He shifted slightly in his seat, almost like the wolf does before pouncing, but Izuku still felt no fear. “I am Todoroki Shouto”, he said and though his voice was as devoid of emotions as his face it sounded like the most beautiful of songs to Izuku’s ears. He tilted his head slightly to one side and Izuku fought back the smile that wanted to burst through. Todoroki might be a wolf, but when he tilted his head like that he looked more like a puppy than anything else. “Pleased to meet you.”

“The pleasure is all mine, Todoroki-kun”, Izuku said and allowed his smile to become wider, to show some teeth. (If he could have seen his face he would have noticed the way his emerald green eyes crinkled and shone like they indeed were some precious gemstone). “I was wondering if you wanted to be my friend.”

For the first time since Todoroki entered the room some emotion entered his face. His eyes widened slightly and his lips slackened the tiniest bit. A bit of red appeared on his cheeks. The change was so minuscule that Izuku never would have noticed if he wasn't studying the boy’s face so closely. But to him Todoroki's surprise was as obvious as if he had shouted it out loud. During the next second a number of other emotions flickered over his face; surprise, hope, happiness and then disbelief and distrusts before that deep sadness settled into his eyes once again. Oh how it hurt to see it return. At least the expressionless mask had cracked enough for him to see the emotions beneath.

“Why would you like to be my friend?” Todoroki asked, eyes slightly narrowed as if he suspected some ulterior motive to Izuku's request. As if he was used to being used and then discarded when he had fulfilled his purpose. Like a wolf trapped in a cage and only brought out to do cheap circus tricks before he was imprisoned again. It made anger burn inside of Izuku and it burned hot and sharp enough that it probably could have cut through steel. But this cage was much harder to crack than any made of such a mundane thing as steel. A cage of the mind could not be cut through without hurting what lies inside. The only way to free the wolf was to find the key and unlock the door. 

Izuku tasted the words Todoroki had spit out. Why did he want to be friends? Well the obvious answer was that he wanted to free him, to take some of the sadness away. But there was no way Izuku could say that out loud. It would only make him more distrustful. If the wolf saw him as a threat unlocking the door would do no good as it would not trust him enough to dare step outside. So what could he say instead? The obvious answer seemed to be to make himself appear weak and the one in need of saving. So he decided to show his belly.

“W-well this is my f-first time here and I’m really nervous.” It was the truth, Izuku was actually really nervous about being here. And telling a falsehood would only make the boy more distrustful in the long shot. “And I c-could really use someone to t-talk to. Besides … I would really like a friend.”

The pause was long and pregnant. Silence, heavy and choking spread through the room. Except for the sound of the clock and Inko turning a page in her magazine nothing disturbed it. Izuku had never really liked silence. Especially not this kind if silence that seemed to swallow up everyone around it and stop their hearts in their chests. But somehow Izuku also knew not to be the one to break the silence. He didn't dare look away from the other's eyes.

"I …" Todoroki eventually said, splintering the silence into sharp edges that bore the threat of cutting the careless. Hope fluttered in his heterochromatic eyes again for a moment and the sharp edges softened. "I would like that."

This time Izuku smile was no small, nervous thing. It resembled the sun rising from the horizon. It was nothing bashful about it. Lips spread wide in a huge, overjoyed grin that shoved of many white teeth and made dimples play on his freckled cheeks. Emerald eyes glittered and shone. Everything about it spoke of happiness.

"I'm glad!" Izuku exclaimed and sat down in the chair next to Todoroki. His legs swung back and forth and a happy little hum escaped his lips. Todoroki sat tense next to him but after a few seconds the rise of his shoulders relaxed slightly and the furling of his brow smoothed out. 

“So … what do friends usually talk about?” Todoroki asked and averted his gaze. Those intense eyes were suddenly bashful and shy. His fingers fidgeted subtly but soon stilled as if he had forced them to stop. A smidge of red rose upon his high cheekbones, like the first red light of the sunrise. It made the stony planes of his face soften into something vulnerable. Izuku realised that he probably was embarrassed. His words sent a pang right to Izuku’s heart. The implication was almost too much. Izuku was not the best on these sort of things either, considering Kacchan was his only friend, but something about what Todoroki said made Izuku sure he had no friends at all.

“All sorts of things”, he hummed in thought. Absentmindedly one hand reached up to play with his bottom lip “What to you want to be when you're grown up?”

“I’m going to be a hero”, Todoroki said with a strange kind of exhausted certainty. Normally Izuku would have felt exhilarated about meeting someone else that wanted to be a hero. But the wording … it implied Todoroki had no other choice, no other option, than to be a hero. As if he didn’t actually want to be one but was forced into the role nonetheless. Sure, Todoroki could just have an overwhelming confidence - Kacchan was always so sure that he would be a hero - but something felt wrong about it. It left Izuku’s heart heavy, but he still mustered up an exited response.

“I want to be a hero too! All Might is my favourite. He is just so strong and fearless, always saving people with a smile. And he doesn't only save people physically, he saves them mentally too! Thanks to him ordinary citizens can feel safe at night, knowing there is a hero out there that can overcome anything! I want to be just like him!” Izuku suddenly realised he was rambling and cut himself off with a blush. It rose up his neck up to his cheeks and to the tips of his ears until his whole face felt red like a strawberry - fitting with his green hair. 

“I like All Might too”, Todoroki said and there was a faint glimmer in his eyes that almost could be called joy. It made the grey seem less a chaotic, deadly storm and more the gentle grey of clouds that only brought a soft drizzle and doused the world in droplets that made everything glitter and shine when the sun finally peaked out from behind the clouds. The blue eye seemed less a deadly stream threatening to drag you out in shark infested water and more the warm turquoise of a tropical ocean, in which you bath to cool yourself from the sun and play with your friends. If Izuku had found Todoroki’s eyes beautiful before now they were so breathtaking he had to look away out of fear that he would otherwise faint.

When Izuku finally looked back the glimmer of joy was long gone. For just a second he glimpsed a profound pain in Todoroki as heat burned behind his eyes. It reminded Izuku of being surrounded by fire with no way to escape. Of the feeling of his skin melting and smoke making his lungs burn. For the first time since laying eyes on the other boy's fear permeated Izuku's heart. Then as he watched the heat cooled down and ice began to replace it. Eventually nothing but icy coldness and that seemingly permanent sadness returned. Izuku's heart slowly calmed down. The fear was beaten back and drowned by his great desire to help.

The glimmer of joy had only fluttered in those eyes for less than a second and when it disappeared the sadness seemed even more profound. But it had been there and that gave Izuku hope. Izuku wowed that he would do everything in his power to bring it out again. 

“Did you see the fight between All Might and Toxic Chainsaw? It was so cool!!” And so Izuku began his quest to make Todoroki Shouto his friend. To make the sadness in his eyes lessen and to free him from his cage. Because that’s what heroes do. 

 

💚💚💚

 

Shouto did not know what to think of Midoriya Izuku.

It had been four years since his quirk manifested and four years since his training started. Endless, painful training that tore his body, mind and quirk into pieces only to be forced back together in a form his father desired. The training usually left him lying in a pile of his own stinking vomit, more burning in his throat and with unbearable pain all over his body. But there were no tears. Never any tears. That was a lesson Shouto had learned early on. 

I had been three years since his mother looked at him like he was a monster and poured boiling water over his left side. His father’s training had been nothing compared to the pain he had felt then, as the skin around his eye melted and burned and then even the eye itself seemed to boil in its socket. But the physical pain was nothing compared to the pain of losing his mother. It was like his heart had been torn from his chest and magma had been poured into the gaping wound. No matter how much ice he tried to enclose his heart in to numb the pain the searing heat always managed to melt them down. So he continued to build thicker and thicker walls to hide the weak and vulnerable hole where his heart should have been. Eventually his whole body felt numb with cold, but still that core of magma remained, refusing to cool down into stone. 

That day Shouto had sworn that he would do everything in his power to resist his father and fight to not end up like him. Even if that meant he one day might have to kill himself to stop the venom to flood into him and poison everything he held dearly. 

In the three years that had passed since his mother burned him he had only ever had one sanctuary. One place safe from his father and the long shadow he cast over Shouto. Home had become a cage, a golden one, but still nothing more than a prison. School was no better. His father might not be there but all of the children and the teachers knew who he was, who his father was. His father held the teachers in the palm of his hand and they were eager to lick it in hope of getting any kind of scraps. That meant everything he did in school was reported to his father. And it meant that there was no way telling a teacher about what happened in his father's dojo would end well. The children were not better. They too knew who he was and the only reason any of them ever tried to befriend him was out of the hope of gaining something in return. It was better to be friendless than to be surrounded by those that would only use him and then cast him away the moment he was no longer useful to them. 

Neither home nor school was safe for him. Only the hospital was. 

In some ways he was thankful that the water his mother had poured over him damaged his eye and left him mostly blind. Otherwise his sister - and he was eternally grateful towards her, despite his … lacklustre ability to convey this - would never have been able to persuade their father to allow Shouto to attend physical therapy for his eye. She had argued that his perfect creation couldn’t have a damaged eye if he were to overthrow All Might. That he would need every advantage he could get. Father had agreed to that startlingly easy, but on the other hand Shouto had many times heard him curse his mother about damaging his successor. Though Shouto hated that he was only allowed to the hospital because his father couldn’t accept a damaged tool, he was still grateful. It was the only place in which he was truly out of his father’s control.

And that was part of why he found Midoriya so puzzling. 

In the years he'd gone to his physics no one except for Fuyumi had ever bothered to speak with him while he waited. At first he had found the place mind numbingly boring, a useless waste of space, a parenthesis in his life. But soon he had begun to appreciate the quiet. Especially since it was a quiet unlike the one always penetrating his house (it was not his home and hadn't been since his mother was sent away). The silence in his house was heavy and suffocating as he and his siblings tiptoed around in the hope that their father wouldn't notice their presence. He had memorised every loose floorboard, every safe step. He moved like a ghost from room to room. The silence in the Todoroki house was sharp as a knife and always held the threat of violence.

The silence in the waiting room was difference. It was not nearly as heavy and though it wasn't really comfortable nor gentle, it was the silence between words, between sound. In fact some might say the waiting room wasn't silent at all considering you could hear the sound of distant activity in the hospital. There was a ticking clock on the wall that loudly counted out every second of silence. Some days, when other people than the two of them were present, the room was filled with the sound of silent conversation or the turning of blades in the magazines. Though despite these sounds silence always surrounded Shouto. He and his sister never talked - or at least very rarely. Their father had forced them apart at a young age and the chasm between them had only grown bigger since then. Despite the fact that his sister had accompanied him here every Monday for many years the silence between them had never been broken.

Therefore the sudden sound of a voice breaking through his silence had been shocking. And what a wonderful voice it was! It was soft, as if afraid of breaking the fragile silence and filled with much more care than he'd ever heard from a stranger. But at the same time the voice resonated through his body, deep down to his bones. It was a pleasant feeling. Shouto looked up at the person that had addressed him. He had of course noticed the boy and woman - he guessed they were mother and son - sitting in the room when he entered, but had not paid them any attention besides that. The boy had at a glance been utterly plain and, frankly, kind of boring. But looking up at him now Shouto was forced to admit he had been wrong.

The first thing he noticed were the eyes. Big and round and dominating in his round face. One was a deep emerald green, the green of forests and things alive, it reminded him of rare days out in the garden when he was still allowed to do such things. From before his quirk came in. The other eye was a milky green, jade rather than emerald. At first he thought the boy might be heterochromatic like himself but the truth was quick to reveal itself as his eyes trailed downward slightly and he caught sight of the red scar trailing down like a tear track from the milky eye down to the boys rounded chin. The boy - who introduced himself as Midoriya Izuku, and what a fitting, lovely name! - was blind on one eye. Well of course he was! Shouto almost felt stupid for not realizing sooner. You only went to an ophthalmologist if you had a problem with your eyes. 

Midoriya's injury mirrored his own in an almost disturbingly familiar manner. The red scar was mangled and bumpy like the skin around his own eye. It covered a bunch of the freckles covering Midoriya's round cheeks. Though there were still thousands of them left. Shouto felt a fleeting but strange urge to count the freckles, the same way you might want to count the stars in the midnight sky. Maybe if he looked long enough he would begin to see constellations. His trailing eyes soon landed on the other boy's mouth and the small smile that quirked it. It was as soft as his eyes and clearly pointed at him. It made him feel strange, to have such softness directed at him. It made him feel …. seen, and appreciated. Those brightly shining eyes - even the blind one was somehow filled with so much light - combined with that smile made him feel like something precious. 

At the same time he couldn't help but be wary. Far too many people had only approached him because of the Todoroki name. He did not dare lower his shields for even one second. So when he was asked for his name he almost wanted to lie. If he lied then maybe this boy would treat him like anyone else - that was the only thing he wanted. But he was quick to dismiss the idea. Better to get it over with. Besides, his sister was sure to react if he lied. 

But then… Midoriya didn't react at all to his name. Of all reactions he had expected this was not on the list. Shouto was used to either boot licking or scorn depending on what people thought of his father. Never before had he met indifference. Or not exactly indifference. Midoriya seemed quite happy to know his name, judging by the way his smile widened and his eyes sparkled. Rather it was like he was ignorant of the fact that there was more to the name than it being just a name. Shouto would not be the one to correct him. 

And then … then Midoriya had asked to be his friend. No one had ever asked him that before. Especially not with such sincerity. After a youth filled with people that licked his boots in the hope to win Endeavour’s favour, it was refreshing. Tentative warmth filled him and began to melt the thick layers of glacier ice inside of him. As the ice thawed feelings that had been frozen solid for years began to surface. First he felt surprise bubble up. It had always been buried near the surface and had a relatively easy time breaking free. Next came hope. Hope was a weak and fleeting emotion that he had early learned not to trust, but it was still far too eager to break free from its icy prison. With hope awakened the ice thawed even faster and from its frozen depths came happiness. When was the last time he had felt happy? Shouto honestly couldn’t remember. The last time was probably the day his quirk manifested, since his training started the day after. 

The happiness was so warm the ice melted faster than ever before and the more it melted the stronger the happiness became. And the stronger the happiness became …

The warmth felt pleasant after the years of bone aching coldness. Shouto revelled in it. In the warm water he was suddenly floating in. But then other emotions began to rise to the surface as the ice melted. Emotions he had tried to lock away deep down in his frozen body. The heat became scorching. As his anger was finally freed from the glazier the water became so hot it boiled. It hurt . It was like the time his mother had poured boiling water on him all over again. And suddenly he remembered why he had frozen his body over and over again so many times. He remembered what lies beneath the layers of cold. But it was far too late. The boiling water melted away the last of the layers of ice and suddenly the burning core of magma that rested in the place of his heart broke free. All the emotions hidden in that searing heat was released as well. Burning rage. Searing pain. An inferno of hatred . All of it rose through the water and began to vaporise it. In that moment Shouto knew that if all the water vaporized fire would replace it in his body. The same fire that had driven his mother to madness and that had burned him so many times. The fire he feared over all else. 

In a bout of panic he used his sadness, cold as absolute zero, to begin covering his heart of magma in layer after layer of ice. At first it melted faster than he could layer it but as the water began to cool he managed to keep the ice from melting. More and more ice he poured into himself until he could no longer feel his burning core through it. Until his emotions once again became trapped in it and numbness spread through his mind and body. Until nothing but ice remained. Ice and the sadness it originated from.

During all of this his conversation with Midoriya had continued. It had taken far longer than Shouto liked to freeze his core over again. How he had managed to keep up with the conversation and keep a (mostly) neutral face while battling the fire deep inside was beyond him. A voice in the back of his head that sounded uncomfortable similar to his father’s told him that being friends with Midoriya would only make him weak. Hadn’t the last couple of minutes been proof enough? The boy had somehow managed to melt in seconds what had taken Shouto years to build. If they kept talking there was no way of knowing when it might melt again. The thought was frightening.

On the other hand … This was Shouto’s sanctuary. The only place where he was free from his father’s influence and the only place he could truly be himself. This was the one place in which his decisions was truly his own. And Shouto decided then and there that he wanted to be friends with Midoriya, no matter the risks. 

It was only one thing he needed to make sure of before he dared to jump into a friendship. 

Ten minutes later Midoriya and his mom were called into one of the ophthalmologist's offices, breaking of his conversation with Midoriya about heroes and leaving him alone with his sister. 

When he looked up at Fuyumi she was already studying him. Her grey eyes and mostly white her reminded him so much of their mother it made the constant pain of loss that was hidden deep in his core ache. How many times hadn't he wished he could have looked more like her? Then maybe mother wouldn't have grown to hate him.

Sometimes, late at night, Shouto dared to admit to himself that in many of his memories of his mother, Fuyumi's face had begun to replace that of mother's. Without any pictures of her in the house his exact remembrance of her face was slipping away from his mind. The realisation always left him crying into his pillow.

Shouto almost ducked his head and swallowed his words, but he needed to do this. Squaring his shoulders he forced himself to continue on forward. “Please don’t tell father about Midoriya”, he said, or rather, pleaded. 

He knew without a doubt that if their father heard about him interacting with someone he hadn't approved of that the trips here would immediately end. And Shouto couldn’t lose his sanctuary. He ... he just couldn't.

Fuyumi’s grey eyes looked so sad when she responded. Even her voice sounded like their mother's. They both had the same musical lilt to their words and spoke with such gentleness – or at least his mother had used to speak to him with gentleness until that fateful day she burned him. “Of course I won't tell him.”

That was not good enough for Shouto. He had to - no he needed to be absolutely sure. “Promise me.”

“I promise”, Fuyumi immediately said. She laid one delicate hand - it was the hand of an artist, the same their mother had, the one Shouto himself had - on her chest. “I promise on my love for mother that I will never tell father about this.”

The promise had to be enough. In those precious few moments Shouto allowed himself to feel anything the love for his mother always remained strong. It didn't matter that she had burned him and then abandoned him to his monster of a father (though somewhere deep inside a smudge of hatred for what she had done boiled and festered). If he could still love her so much then Fuyumi that had both known her longer and never been hurt by her must love her even more. Shouto had to believe his secret was safe with her.