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Read With Me

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The first time Izuku heard a strange voice inside his head, he thought he had gone crazy. Suddenly hearing a foreign language recited at him in a velvety smooth voice was a bit disarming, to say the least. For one, he could recognise it as English, but at the time Izuku didn’t have a good enough grasp on it to even make sense of half the words, let alone actually remember a seemingly endless stream of them. It was unsettling, maybe even a little scary, and when he stumbled home after school, babbling to his mother about a disembodied voice in his head, she had started weeping.

Granted, that didn’t do anything to ease his worries about his apparently waning mental health, but when she pulled him into a bone-crushing hug, whispering about how happy she was for him, Izuku was just a little confused. For a moment he almost wondered if it might be his quirk, someone in the family who had a similar one that could have influenced his as well. But that doctor had made it very clear he should let go of any sort of hope of ever having one.

“Izuku, dear, that’s your soulmate.” His mother had choked out, sending him for even more of a loop.

He knew of soulmates’ existence, everyone did. Not everyone was lucky enough to have one, much like quirks even if a little less common still, and those who did have soulmates usually shared a common connection like a soul mark. Though that wasn’t always the case, he knew. Some people’s connections were more unique. Izuku remembers hearing about someone in his school who could occasionally see through their soulmate’s eyes, and there was one hero who chose to retire early due to his connection with his soulmate being shared pain.

Being one of the 20% of the population born without a quirk, Izuku had somewhat expected to have gotten the short end of the stick on all accounts. He hadn’t really thought he would have a soulmate, much less a unique connection to them—him? The voice seemed more masculine, lower and deeper, and if they were anywhere near his age, it could be that theirs had dropped already.

Having accepted the possibility though, Izuku tried to figure out what that echo of soft-spoken words meant. Firstly, his alleged soulmate had been speaking in English, which could mean that they weren’t even living in Japan. Although, that theory was quickly thwarted when not another day later, he had heard him again, this time speaking in fluent Japanese.

That time, Izuku was happy to understand everything, but that didn’t bring him any closer to actually figuring out their connection. His soulmate was reciting classic poems. What was that supposed to mean?

It was only when he heard them carefully listing the items of a math problem that it finally clicked. He was reading. His soulmate was reading a math book. Homework. Well that was… curious.

Izuku tried to pay even more attention whenever his soulmate’s voice popped into his head, trying to find a pattern. Technical terms, English, classic literature… It always seemed to be books, and painfully boring ones, at that. For a time, Izuku wondered if their connection had to do with these sorts of books, specifically, but that didn’t make much sense at all. The only logical conclusion was that they could hear each other’s voice whenever they read books—of any kind.

That, in turn, would mean that either his soulmate had really lousy taste in literature or he just… wasn’t allowed to read anything else.

And that… that was just tragic, wasn’t it?

Izuku had always been an avid book reader, but he enjoyed all sorts of genres; from historical drama to crime thrillers, from sci-fi to high fantasy and everything in between. But if his soulmate couldn’t enjoy his own taste of entertainment, then Izuku would just have to make up for that himself. It was only right.

After all, their connection had to have a reason, and Izuku was convinced that theirs was that he was supposed to bring some joy into his soulmate’s seemingly bland life. He took care to pick his books from then on, scouting the web for the best reviews on the most interesting and fantastical stories he could find. Anything that caught his eye as over-the-top fun made it into his list.

He made a plan. His soulmate was clearly busy, if the daily, back-to-back reading was any indication. Every day at the same time and for a specific period, he would be reading those long-winded, dull texts. Izuku took to studying after he finished so that their thoughts wouldn’t clash and distract each other. Then, at night before bed, Izuku would get comfortable under his covers and pick up one of the books he bought just for his soulmate.

Depending on the length, he would read two or three chapters, sometimes a few more when he got a little invested in the narrative himself. But he always made sure to stop at a reasonable time so that he wouldn’t keep his soulmate up.

From the moment he figured it out, Izuku made sure to read for him every single night, no matter what. He could have had a terrible day, curling up in bed and ignoring the world for a while the only thing he wanted to really do, but he would always pick up the book currently on his night stand and read at least one chapter. It was a minor effort he was more than willing to do for his soulmate’s happiness. Well, at least he hoped it made him happy, he hoped his voice was soothing and not grating, that it would maybe help lull him to sleep too.

Izuku couldn’t really know for sure, of course, but deep down, something told him he was doing the right thing.

So, when All Might came into his life and basically handed Izuku all of his dreams on a silver platter and he dived headfirst into the training, he still did his best to keep it up. But his new mentor’s training regimen was already gruelling and Izuku made it even more taxing to get to his goal on time. It was a miracle he wasn’t actually passing out at school, but as soon as he got to bed, his body was just about ready to shut down entirely.

He couldn’t do that though. He had to read to his soulmate like he had been doing every night without fail. It didn’t matter that his brain was slow, that his eyelids were getting heavier by the second he just… had to keep… reading…

Waking up the next morning was a mix of confusion and panic when Izuku saw his book lying open on the floor, pages bent and bookmark nowhere to be found. He realised with a start that he completely blacked out halfway through his third time reading over the first paragraph of the chapter, and guilt gnawed at his insides as he thought of his soulmate. He would have to make up for it that night, read a few more chapters than normal.

But all that was good intentions, and it didn’t change the fact that he got home just as exhausted as the day before, if not more. Izuku still tried, he tried so hard to fight sleep for just a half hour, just fifteen minutes, ten even. All he managed to do was stumble his way through a few sentences that barely made any sense at all in his mind. He wondered if his soulmate even heard any of it clearly, if maybe it was just as jumbled to him as it was to Izuku. Gods, what did he even think? Was he annoyed? Upset?

Izuku really wanted to apologise, to ask him to please wait until he could get used to this new routine. He wanted to tell him it would just be a few weeks at most, or maybe ask him if there was a time slot he could change the reading to without bothering him. But they had no real way to communicate. Izuku had tried to read specific words off of a book to spell out his name or phone number, but his soulmate had never made contact. That could very well mean that he just didn’t want to actually talk to Izuku, but part of him held on to the hope that it just didn’t work that way. He had to be reading a book continuously, scattered words didn’t go through.

How the connection even made the distinction, Izuku didn’t really know. But then again, soulmates in and of themselves were already something pretty inexplicable. Even so, Izuku wished there was a way for him to tell his soulmate he didn’t just stop bothering.

Then one night, when Izuku barely had the will to lift his arm towards his night stand, his face buried in his pillow as he told himself over and over that he would get to it in a second, something unexpected happened.

“It had all started with one look across a crowded room…”

His soulmate’s voice crept into his fading consciousness, soft and steady. It was a story he didn’t recognise, but it was nothing like what he had ever heard his soulmate read. The longer it went on, Izuku started believing it might be a romance novel. It wasn’t something Izuku pegged him for enjoying but he wasn’t complaining. It was actually quite sweet, from what he could gather of the beginning.

His lips pulled into a gentle smile as he kept listening for as long as it took for exhaustion to take him over.

It warmed Izuku’s heart, filled it with such unbridled joy he felt ready to burst, tears streaming freely down his cheeks and pleasant flutters taking over his stomach as he curled in bed surrounded by fluffy covers. Perhaps he was a little vulnerable from the exertion he had been put through the past days, but Izuku couldn’t stop from crying if he wanted to. This meant that his soulmate had listened all those days, that he cherished those moments Izuku had created for them and was now returning the gesture when he was too tired to keep it up.

For as long as he had done this, Izuku only wanted to help make his soulmate’s life a little better, and it meant the world to him that he cared for him too. At least enough to put in that effort, that little bit of time every night.

Once Izuku finally adjusted to his training regimen—after All Might had scolded him for pushing himself too hard—, Izuku started reading just a little earlier than usual so that his soulmate would know he was back in shape to keep up their nightly readings. But something had changed, it seemed.

The next day, his soulmate started reading once again, and the one after that, Izuku waited for him. Twenty minutes passed from their usual time, then half an hour, and Izuku started worrying that something may have happened when his gaze fell on the young adult novel on his nightstand. A curious thought took shape and Izuku opened the book where he had left off. Here’s hoping this is what he wants.

Izuku read a couple more chapters before turning in, a hint of excitement bubbling up in his chest as he waited for the following night to come. Punctual as ever, his soulmate’s voice sounded inside his head, calm and soothing, just when he was getting ready for bed. Once more, a smile made its home on his lips and Izuku sunk into the mattress with a sigh of contentment, listening to the love story his soulmate read just for him.

Night in and night out, they read for each other, alternating between them at the time they had wordlessly agreed upon. Izuku still kept reading the books on his ever-growing list while his soulmate moved from one romance to another. Izuku really wanted to ask him why he chose that particular genre. Maybe one day, when they finally met. If they finally met.

Izuku had so much to tell him too, about his life, his aspirations. About how hard he worked to get into the high school of his dreams with the help of his favourite hero of all time, and how he actually made it there, and how his childhood friend was there with him and likely ready to give him hell. He wanted to tell his soulmate about how the scary-looking person from the entrance exam was also in his class and charging towards him with an aggressively loud introduction the moment he noticed him at the threshold. But alas…

“Oh, um… I heard! I’m Midoriya. Nice to meet you, Iida-kun.”

Suddenly, a chair dragged loudly on the floor and every students’ attention was off him once again. Izuku couldn’t help but follow their gazes though, his eyes locking with those of a stormy summer sky, clear blue and cloudy grey staring widely at him. Something in his soul lurched at the sight of those mismatched eyes and it only took one word for him to know exactly why.

“Midoriya.” That voice…

As if his legs had a mind of their own, Izuku pushed his way past Iida and into the classroom, ignoring all the confused stares, the girl he had saved making her way in right after him, everything that wasn’t the boy with half red and half white hair, with the blue and grey eyes and the deep, low voice he had been hearing every day for years on end.

Throwing all sense of reason to the wind, Izuku took his hands, noticing how one was beyond warm and the other just a little chilly, both callused and a little rough from what could only be a lifetime of training to get here. His heart skipped several beats when he said his name once again, voice trembling slightly with a hint of disbelief and a rush of raw emotion Izuku felt in his very core as well.

“It’s you!” He beamed, his vision blurring with joyous tears. “I can’t believe it!”

Whispers sounded all around them along with a few explosions and a loud and angry grumble from his childhood friend. But none of it mattered at all when he was looking right at the brand-new face that matched the voice he had grown so familiar with. A light flush crawled up to his cheeks at the fleeting thought of how beautiful his soulmate was, even more than he may have imagined.

His smile faltered when a gruff and exhausted voice rung from the door, what turned out to be their homeroom teacher wrapped in a yellow sleeping bag demanding they all get changed into their gym uniforms. Izuku exchanged another look with his soulmate, his jaw going a little slack as their hands slipped from each other’s grip.

“Todoroki. My name is Todoroki.” He finally said, his gaze drifting to the floor before he quietly made his way to retrieve his own uniform.

Once again, Izuku’s heart leapt in his chest. There was so much Izuku wanted to talk about… And now… well, now he finally could.