When Todoroki Shouto was younger, his mother liked to say he learned how to dance before he could walk. And honestly speaking, she might’ve been right, because Shouto doesn’t remember a time when he wasn’t dancing—his earliest memories are made of pliés, relevés, sautés; He’s quite sure, in fact, that he knew the five basic positions before he knew how to write his own name.
He loves to dance. He lives to dance, although he doesn’t remember ever falling in love with it like all the other kids seemed to have—there was no monumental instant where he watched someone dance, no Romeo and Juliet or Swan Lake or Sleeping Beauty, and decided I want to be like that. The love he has is something pre-existent, growing there from the beginning. It was instilled into his mind from the moment he could comprehend it in the same way he learned how to talk. To become a danseur: it almost feels written into his fate.
Since his very first official ballet lesson, Shouto’s been pegged as all natural born talent by ostensibly everyone. “A product of lucky genes,” they like to justify, “convenient DNA”. As annoying as it is, he can’t really blame anyone for coming to such a conclusion. His father—Todoroki Enji—is a multi-award winning principal dancer known for his emotional choreography and iconic flying leaps, as well as being the owner of the prestigious ballet company Endeavor Ballet Theatre. His mother—Todoroki Rei—had years of competitive gymnastics under her belt up until she became pregnant with his oldest brother. Lucky genes never seemed too far from it.
(Even his father tended to say that of all his siblings, Shouto got the best of his parents’ traits.)
Countless hours of muscle-numbing practice, ice baths and the bleeding toes—it all seems to fly over the head of the public. His effort has lacked full recognition from the very beginning because he was simply born to be as good as he is. It’s the lucky genes. To be perfect, to be graceful and strong and nimble—that’s expected of Todoroki Enji’s son, and nothing less. It’s a demand that comes with the name.
Shouto knows he’s good. He’s been groomed and conditioned since he could stand to be good. One of these days, though, he’ll be good without standing in his father’s shadow, without it being an expectation. Without it being lucky genes.
And maybe starting with getting into UA Dance Academy—the same school his father excelled in—is a bit redundant in terms of his goals, but he’s got a plan and this is only the first step. He’ll indisputably upstage his shitty dad's achievements, and by the end of it, they'll be completely disconnected—
“Mommy, why is that strange man staring at girl things?”
Shouto rips himself from his inner monologue, face twitching into a scowl. He looks over his shoulder, away from the shelf of tampons he’s been planted in front of—he’s only been standing there for like, ten minutes, anyway—and watches as the owner of the voice gets ushered away (by who he assumes is her mother, or alternatively a witch with the way she seems to be trying to kill Shouto with the strength of her glare) into the Vitamins & Supplements aisle.
“Don’t stare, baby. Just walk away. No eye contact.” Jesus. Shouto almost hates going to the CVS as much as he hates going to shitty Walmart. He tends to space out under all the fluorescent lights and excessive air conditioning.
Resisting the urge to roll his eyes, Shouto turns back to the task at hand. Or in other words: a wall of feminine products.
The things he puts up with for his friends (more like friend, singular, but details), really—Shouto fishes his phone from his coat pocket and rereads Momo’s awfully detailed essay of a text. Painkillers? Check. Sports drinks? Check. Ice cream? Check. He isn’t sure about the next part, though. Pads or tampons? Logically speaking, tampons would probably be more convenient for practice and recitals, but what about during downtime? Were the heavy flow ones more durable? Or would she prefer ultra thin?
Shouto briefly considers shooting a text to Fuyumi, but doesn’t really want to get interrogated over why he’s buying menstrual products. The labels make less and less sense the longer he scrutinizes them and—Shit. With a defeated sigh, he swipes his hand over the shelf and dumps a box of every brand into the basket. There’s bound to be something in there Momo can work with, and if not, maybe the tub of ice cream will distract her long enough for him to book it.
With a decisive nod, Shouto navigates through the maze of aisles and zigzags his way towards the check-out lines. Music fills the relative silence of the CVS—it’s oddly empty, save the occasional customer and the bored cashiers, even for being as late as it is—and the familiar classical tunes trigger a rather impulsive urge to shift into a port de bras.
He makes it to the cash register without putting on an impromptu show for the security cameras, steadily ignoring the look the cashier gives him when he neatly arranges all of the menstrual products on the conveyor belt by brand and type.
The cashier is a tired guy that can’t be any older than Shouto. He stares at a pack of Maxi Extra-Heavy Overnight pads as he rings it up like it personally offended him, and for half a second, Shouto almost expects him to argue with a box of pads. Men, honestly.
“So… girlfriend?” he asks tightly, like he needs confirmation that Shouto isn’t buying this stuff for himself.
Had Shouto’s face not have been schooled into a mask of perfect indifference already, he probably would’ve snorted at the idea of him dating Momo—or any girl, for that matter.
“Oh,” the cashier mutters, ringing up the ice cream next, “Sister?”
Shouto pulls out his wallet to pay—exact change down to the cent, just to make the cashier’s life easier—and shrugs. “Something like that.”
Not even an entire fifteen seconds after Shouto slips through the sliding doors of the CVS, plastic bag in hand and receipt in the process of getting shoved into his back pocket (Why did he insist on wearing skinny jeans?), someone runs into him, hard. Shouto has the fifteen consecutive years of strengthening his core muscles to thank when he miraculously doesn’t get knocked over—his bag gets knocked out of his hand, though, and he has to carefully scoop everything back up.
“Oh, my gosh! I’m so sorry!” a girl, all platinum blonde hair and bright blue eyes, apologizes frantically.
Shouto doesn’t bother with a reply because she’s off before she even finishes her sentence, already dashing away without a second glance. He’s more confused than anything—What’s she so in a rush for? Did somebody die?
He really didn’t intend on dwelling on the possibilities, more focused on delivering the contents of his bag to Momo before she sent out a search party, but Shouto can’t help but notice as he dusts himself off that a lot of people are rushing in the same direction that girl is and—
Then he hears it: music. Loud and catchy music, a blend of rhythmic beats and rap, easily overlaps and drowns out the various overplayed pop tunes filtering from the open doors of surrounding shops.
Shouto stares at the gradually forming mass of people on the other side of the pedestrian zone, notes how everyone seems to be bouncing on their feet, bobbing their heads, drawn in like the music is a magnet—and he finds himself inching over, too. He passes all the shopping outlets stacked up against each other and maneuvers through cliques of people until he’s standing at the outskirts of the crowd.
His sufficient height allows him to see over enough heads and determine this is indeed one of those street performances—Something that’s definitely not uncommon around here, but rare to have with such a crowd.
Curiosity getting the better of him, Shouto weaves through the sea of limbs, gracelessly settling near the front where he can see well enough into the eye of the crowd. And there in the middle is a group of buskers—four of them; he spots a flash of rosy cheeks, a glint of glasses, concerningly dark eye bags, and a mess of green curls. Dancers.
They’re an odd bunch but they meld together with envied ease, bursting with chemistry in each step of the choreography. Shouto doesn’t need to have someone tell him to know this was more than some haphazardly put-together group. If anything, he’s brought back to his and Momo’s duets—the ones where they giggle in between mistakes and only worry about having fun.
So engrossed with the buskers’ performance, Shouto hardly notices the song coming to an end and eventually starting from the beginning again. The four dancers come to a stop, but only three of them melt back into the cheering crowd, thanking and greeting fans.
The last member—the curly haired boy with a smattering of freckles across his face—taps on his phone and a new song starts. He returns to the center afterwards, lips curved into a bashful grin while he bounces on his toes.
“Deku! I love you!” a girl all but shatters Shouto’s eardrums when she hollers beside him, prompting him to shoot her a glare like his visual prowess would be enough to reprimand her. He’s briefly shocked to see the same platinum blonde hair and blue eyes from before, and is admittedly not all that surprised.
He turns back just in time to see the busker—Deku (as he was called), a weird ass name if you asked Shouto—wave shyly to the girl beside him, thus bringing upon yet another deafening squeal from his left that nearly sends him leaving the pedestrian zone completely.
(Logically thinking, that wave was completely meant for the girl beside him—so even when Deku’s eyes seem to smile with his lips and Shouto’s heart lurches at the sight, he decides not to think about it too much.)
But then Deku begins to dance, and his presence shifts tangibly; there’s something different in the air. He moves like his body was built to undulate to music. He embodies unhinged grace without delicacy, without the liability of being fragile—he exudes unmatched confidence, oozes with it in every spin and turn, and Shouto can’t fathom walking away from such a sight.
Excitement clenches around his heart like an iron fist. Watching Deku dance on his own is an unfairly different experience from watching him dance with the other buskers.
He’s just as happy, just as energetic, but something more all the same. His curls bounce with his steps, and his smile is persistently blinding—and yet, there’s clear focus written into the features of his face. Everything about him screams watch me, and so Shouto does.
Deku drops onto one hand and seems to throw his lower body from beneath him, and then he’s spinning and his legs are kicked up—The crowd screams over the music—And he looks so—How is he even—
“Windmill flare combo,” a high, cheery voice supplies from his right, and Shouto resists the urge to jump. He glances over to see the busker from earlier, the girl with cropped brown hair and rosy cheeks, at his side.
”Oh.” He turns his body towards her but his eyes stay on Deku, watches the way he springs back up onto his feet with a satisfied grin.
Unfazed by his mask of indifference, the girl simply giggles. “I was just tellin’ you because you looked pretty shocked. Is this your first time watching Deku-kun dance?”
“Not much of a talker, are you?” she giggles again, and Deku forgoes dancing to instead dip into a few thankful bows when the cheers begin to overpower the music. Without the music, he looks shy again, almost overwhelmed—like if he could, he would thank every person in the crowd individually. Something about that thought makes Shouto’s chest tighten; how would he react if Deku was right in front of him, thanking him wholeheartedly?
The girl keeps talking even after Shouto only shrugs.
“Well, I’m Uraraka Ochako! I hope you come by again and watch us dance. We’ll be here next Friday, too, around this time if you’re interested.”
When Deku disappears into the sea of fans (maybe he will greet them all individually), Shouto finally meets the girl’s—Uraraka’s—gaze. She smiles eagerly, but her eyes read him with a look he can’t quite define.
“No problem! I hope to see you around more often!” And with that, she bounds off. Shouto finds himself scanning the heads of hair, waiting for untamed curls to finally show but—
His phone vibrates in his pocket.
Did you find everything?
Shouto’s hand tightens around the grip of the plastic bag, and he turns away. There’s a buzz beneath his skin as he walks in the direction of the train station.
Yeah. Quick question- do we have practice next Friday?
Parallel to Momo’s equally as starfished body, Shouto’s limbs splay out across the floor of the dance studio. The sprung wood is cool beneath his back and through the thin cotton of his t-shirt, and the ceiling seems to go on for miles when he stares up at it.
Technically, the entire building was supposed to be closed and locked up hours ago. Had Momo’s parents not have been the owner of it, both of them would probably have been kicked and banned years back when they first started sneaking in after hours—Even now they could be considered lucky because the security guard still has a soft spot for Momo after all these years. After Shouto dumped everything he scavenged from the CVS into Momo’s lap (she was only slightly confounded with the variety of her options), though, they silently agreed it was one of those nights.
That decision found them on the floor of Studio 8, side by side, illuminated only by the street lights outside filtering in through the windows. During these moments, he can hardly tell whether or not he’s the same reserved thirteen-year-old who had to convince Momo to go through with her own plan (“We’re already here, Yaoyorozu. Might as well do it,” he’d said back then, arms folded over his chest as he watched Momo pace around in front of the backdoor of the building), or turning nineteen and reminding her to lock the door behind her.
“Did something happen while you were out?” Momo’s voice breaks the comfortable silence they fell into earlier, and when Shouto tilts his head to look at her he catches a glimpse of his reflection in the panels of mirrors lined up on the wall.
Briefly, he thinks of the buskers from earlier, of Deku and his bashful grin and freckled cheeks—And then with fervent urgency, averts his focus to the nutrition facts label on the tub of ice cream Momo’s nursing on top of her chest; he has an ongoing theory that she can read minds.
He clears his throat. “What do you mean?”
Momo squints at him suspiciously, has that look she gets when she ‘senses’ something on her face. “You look more emotionally constipated than usual, Shouto. What happened—Wait. Oh, my gosh! Was it a boy?”
Mind reading. There’s no other explanation.
“The cashier thought you were my girlfriend when I came to the check-out line with a basket of the entire feminine hygiene aisle?” he dodges the truth, consciously noting that there are 90 milligrams of sodium in her tub of ice cream.
She snorts around a spoonful of cookies and cream, prompting him to continue with a vague gesture of her free hand. Shouto huffs out a sigh. Damn her intuition.
“Okay… I might’ve made a brief stop at the pedestrian zone to watch a short street performance… and I might’ve seen a particularly attractive individual—”
Momo rolls onto her side and props her head up in the palm of her hand. There’s a lilt to her voice when she speaks and Shouto knows he’s lost. “Oh? Is that so?”
“Yes,” he groans with a half-hearted roll of his eyes, “The whole group was actually decent—I haven’t seen them before, so they’re probably new in the area, but they had a crowd watching them like it wasn’t the first time. I caught the last of their performance and then one of them did a short solo… I was intrigued, is all.”
“They might be big on social media? And yeah, sure, you were ‘intrigued’.” Shouto ignores the air quotes and pockets the social media option somewhere in the back of his mind. Maybe once auditions are over he’ll check them out—Ah, auditions.
“Maybe. It’s no big deal, though—just a few buskers. Besides, we’ve got auditions to worry about.”
Momo gives him a look and he knows the subject will resurface soon enough, but he’s safe for now because auditions. Since both of their pre-audition tapes were accepted, he and Momo will have to go in for the actual live audition at UA where their every move will be scrutinized—in person (a lovely upgrade). The thought only makes him a little sick to his stomach.
“Are you nervous?” she asks, and he shrugs.
“No,” he says truthfully. His whole future rests on him getting in—he’s got a plan—so he will. There was no point in being nervous. “Are you?”
Momo’s hand curls up at her chin and her eyebrows furrow; it’s been a habit of hers since she was little, one that Shouto picked up on far back. He knows what she’s going to say before she even says it.
“Well, I’m a bit nervous—”
“You shouldn’t be,” he cuts in calmly, finally tearing his gaze away from the nutrition label to meet her eyes, “You’ve practiced so much you could probably do your piece in your sleep. You will make it.”
She breaks out into a tiny smile. “Thanks, Shouto.”
“I was just being honest,” he murmurs, because he was—he has complete confidence in Momo. Not only is she more talented than some pros already, but Shouto can count the number of other schools outside of UA she’s been scouted by on two hands. Momo is already getting to her feet, though, empty ice cream tub discarded in the trash.
“Hush. Speaking of practice, though, I should probably do that now. Maybe work off that ice cream,” she announces, stretching her arms. Shouto stands, too, and makes a beeline for the light switch.
“Does your stomach feel better now?” he asks, falling in place beside her to stretch as well—The whole reason he made the trip to the CVS in the first place was that her cramps had been too bad to make the trip herself, but it seems like she was better now.
“Yeah, the painkillers have kicked in.”
When they do begin to dance (after thorough stretching and prep, of course, because Momo is especially anal about not pulling any muscles after a particular mishap when they were nine) he stares at their reflections in the mirror. They dance gracefully and with ease like they always do—high jumps, light feet. He wonders, though, what would it be like to dance like the buskers from earlier? Shouto imagines to be so loose would be liberating, in a way.
Auditions are next Saturday, though—Getting distracted would be bothersome.
Since she eventually learned about the context of the text he sent her before, it shouldn’t come as a surprise when Momo all but forces Shouto to take her to the pedestrian zone the following Friday under the notion of “taking a break from practice”. She slips her arm into the bend of his elbow (his left side, always, something about him running warmer on that side) and drags him around the bustling area with uncanny strength.
“You need to start wearing more layers, Shouto. It’s getting colder,” Momo insists in the same motherly tone she always uses in moments like these. And she’s right; Musutafu is growing colder as August drags on, and more people are giving up shorts for sweats and t-shirts for sweaters. Even now, Momo hugs a coat close around her and lets her hair pool past her shoulders to keep her ears warm.
Shouto glances down at his short sleeved v-neck—he never really had a problem with the weather and she knew that, but old habits die hard. “I’m not that cold.”
“If you insist—Where did you say they performed? On the other side?” she asks as they pass the CVS and endless shopping outlets, eyeing every group of people she sees just in case they might break out into dance.
More than anything, Shouto wants to lock himself up in the studio and practice; he’s itching to run through his piece again, commit each movement to muscle memory more than he already has. Philip Glass’ “Closing” has been on a constant loop in his head for at least a month now, or ever since he got the letter saying his pre-audition tape was accepted, and with auditions literally being tomorrow, he has the burning need to go through it again, and again, and again.
As if hearing his thoughts out loud (she probably did, damned mind reader), Momo’s grip on his arm tightens, like she fears he’ll break out into a run any second now and hole up in the nearest studio. She already successfully tore him away from his binge practice session, though (“Shouto, you’ve been practicing for hours. Take a short break, okay? Don’t overwork yourself before auditions,” Momo had reasoned with him earlier, the look in her eye leaving no room to argue)—he doesn’t intend on pushing it.
With a defeated sigh, he nods towards the slowly accumulating crowd on the other side of the pedestrian zone. There’s no music playing yet—which makes sense, they came a lot earlier than he did before—but it’s doubtlessly the same spot as last Friday (and if he squints, Shouto thinks he can spot familiar platinum blonde hair pushing through the throng).
Momo perks up visibly and is soon back to dragging him around, barely pausing to exclaim out a cheery Excuse me! when she (somehow politely) shoves past other people, and Shouto just lets her.
The closer they get, the more his stomach churns—Why is he even anxious? It’s not like he isn’t allowed to watch them, they’re street performers. Hell, he was even invited to come by one of their own—Yet still, once Momo manages to force them both to the very front, he has the growing urge to hide behind her so he isn’t seen.
But by who? Deku? Shouto doubts he even noticed him the last time he was here, up front or not—
“Shouto, stop thinking so loud. They’re about to start!” Momo squeezes his arm and Shouto’s attention zeroes in on the music he didn’t realize was playing. He doesn’t recognize the song but he can’t deny it makes him want to dance, full of Jamaican influences and an easy-to-follow beat. Everyone around them seems to move to it’s rhythm almost subconsciously.
And there at the center of the circle of people is the same four from last time—Uraraka briefly meets his eye and sends him a toothy grin before falling in place beside the one with glasses, and beside him is Deku with the eye-bags guy not too far behind.
Eye-bags guy seems to be the one leading this dance, actually—and for someone who looks like he doesn’t get more than twenty minutes of sleep every night, he has energy strong enough to get the entire crowd cheering in seconds. Momo even cheers beside Shouto, clapping her hands excitedly.
But Shouto’s attention stays on Deku the entire time. His presence commands regard no matter what position he plays, supporting role or not. Shouto’s eyes follow the fluid rolls of his body the entire time, never straying, even when—no, especially when they sink onto the floor and—wow, who would’ve guessed he could move his hips like that—
“Shouto!” Momo’s voice sounds far away and it’s only when she shakes his shoulder does he manage to look away from the buskers.
He hums in acknowledgment, softening at the sight of Momo’s enlivened smile. He’s glad she’s enjoying this, even if it is at the cost of valuable practice time.
“Which one did the solo last time you were here? The ‘particularly attractive individual’?” she questions, and Shouto pales—Nevermind, maybe he isn’t so happy she’s enjoying this—
“Oh! It’s the guy with the green hair, right? At the back?” she continues innocently.
What the hell, how does she do that? Shouto keeps his face carefully still, determined to not give himself away when he replies.
“Actually, I don’t remember—”
“Figures, you always had a thing for freckles.”
Shouto’s eye twitches. “I do not have a thing for freckles—”
“Hey, you came!” Another voice jumps into his and Momo’s conversation and he comes extremely close to elbowing the stranger—Uraraka, he realizes when he turns around—in the throat out of pure instinct. He instead chokes a little on his words. When did the music change? When did they even stop dancing?
“Hello! You all danced very well out there!” Momo detaches herself from Shouto to offer Uraraka a kind smile in greeting. He makes a noise of agreement.
“I’m glad you enjoyed it! I’m Uraraka, I saw your friend here last Friday. And, not gonna lie, I’m kinda surprised to see him come back,” the busker giggles, and Momo does too.
“Yaoyorozu. I forced Shouto to come, actually, even though I know he secretly really wanted to come so he could see the dancer with the curly hair—”
“Momo—” he cuts in with growing panic, but she just smiles away.
“You mean Deku? That makes sense! I thought he looked a little captivated by his solo last time.”
Shouto stares at the ground and desperately wills it to open up and swallow him whole.
“Deku? That’s his name?” Momo asks curiously.
“Well, we all have our stage names that the fans usually call us. Deku’s actual name is Midoriya Izuku! My stage name is Uravity, and—” Uraraka points towards the circle where Eye-bags and Glasses are performing a duet (Shouto won’t say it out loud, but he’s disappointed to see that Deku, or Midoriya, doesn’t have another solo) “—over there is Ingenium and Brainwash respectively. Or, Iida Tenya and Shinsou Hitoshi. Together we make the Hero Squad!”
“That’s so unique! I love it. I’m guessing your stage names relate to your style of dance?”
Momo and Uraraka continue to talk animatedly amongst one another with Shouto rooted silently at their sides. He gives up on getting eaten alive by the ground after Uraraka goes on a tangent about their stage names—and boy, could she talk—and instead looks back to the two buskers dancing.
He pauses—If they’re over there and Uraraka’s here, then where is—
“Ochako! There you are—Oh, hello!”
Shouto’s not a dramatic guy, no, not at all. He likes to think he’s very calm and collected, in fact, and prides himself for being not dramatic. But right now? He feels like he’s been momentarily inserted into some cheesy coming-of-age teenage drama where he’s the protagonist in the midst of meeting the dashing second-lead and potential love interest.
(Shouto immediately cringes at his own over-active train of thought.)
Because there he is—Deku, Midoriya, him—slow-jogging over in what Shouto’s convinced is slow motion (or maybe his brain is just buffering too much to keep up with regular speed, who knows at this point). He comes to a stop beside Uraraka and Shouto’s mouth runs dry because he’s frustratingly stunning.
Midoriya is all sun-kissed skin and freckled cheeks (god, his freckles). He smiles with his entire body—his whole aura seems to lighten up—starting with impossibly green eyes, and Shouto is half-convinced he’s drowning in the sight. Boyish features are sharpened with maturity (like full cheeks and a cutting jawline—how?) and his body is so obviously ripped beneath his long-sleeved shirt (that says tank top, ironically) it’s a little overwhelming. Shouto notes that despite the atrociously red platform shoes he has on, Midoriya’s shorter than him by an inch or so, but still carries himself with an air that almost makes it unnoticeable—quiet yet impactful self-assurance.
Momo nudges Shouto with her elbow and it finally occurs to him that Midoriya is talking and shit, he didn’t catch any of that—
“I’m sorry, what did you say?” he asks, feeling grossly flustered when Midoriya chuckles and waves a dismissive, scarred hand.
Admittedly, Shouto should not be having such a difficult time with talking to Midoriya face-to-face considering this isn’t even the first time he’s seen him. Without a crowd of people to mask himself within, though, it’s proving to be difficult. There’s no dancing to justify his undivided staring, and to have eyes on him in return is different and exhilarating in a way he can’t plainly explain.
“No problem! I, uhm— I asked if you’re enjoying the show?” His voice is so sweet.
Shouto nods dumbly, looking anywhere but at Midoriya because holding eye-contact feels like being lit on fire. “Oh, yeah, definitely. You have a—You all have a very strong presence.”
“This is the guy I was telling you about last time! He came last Friday and watched your solo,” Uraraka adds, and something about being outed for watching Midoriya dance has him flushing—which is stupid because everyone watched him dance.
“Oh!” Midoriya at least looks flustered as well, which is an act of a double-sided knife because it’s adorable, “I—Well, I hope you enjoyed that, too!”
“Yeah…” Shouto decides to study the cracks in the pavement.
Beside him, Momo clutches his arm again.
“It was really nice meeting you two, Uraraka-kun, Midoriya-kun—We’ll definitely come back and watch you again, but we’ve got to get going now. Big day ahead of us tomorrow!” she says kindly, bless her soul.
“Oh, totally! Deku and I are up next, anyway,” Uraraka chirps, “Until next time!”
Shouto offers a short nod of acknowledgment, ready to eject himself from this exchange as soon as possible. He’s already in the process of turning around when a hand—large, scarred, rough, somehow comforting—grabs onto his wrist. He has half the mind to rip it away, but finds himself looking up and meeting Midoriya’s sea-green gaze instead.
“Ah, sorry, I just—” His ears tinge red and he let’s go of Shouto’s wrist, but his warmth lingers. He offers an expectant smile. “I didn’t get your name?”
“Shouto... Todoroki Shouto.”
He watches Midorya’s lips move silently around the syllables—he might be saying them out loud, but Shouto can’t hear (probably for the better, too) over the crowd’s cheers as Shinsou and Iida’s performance ends—like he’s memorizing the way it feels.
“I hope to see you again, Todoroki-kun.”
Momo tugs gently on his arm, and they’re off. His eyes linger on Midoriya’s retreating form as they head towards the train station, on the bounce of his green curls, and stay there until he’s out of sight—blended back into the crowd. His wrist still tingles where Midoriya wrapped his fingers around it, all crooked fingers and scarred palmed, and Shouto wonders how a hand like that could be so gentle.
(He makes a point of ignoring the knowing look Momo bores into his skull the entire train ride home.)