Shoto Todoroki was supposed to be born an alpha – but at his birth, the doctors had checked him thoroughly for the trademark of the Todoroki alphas, and it was not there. A few families of strong alpha lineage had developed birthmarks such as these, in order to indicate at birth if the child was an alpha (that way, heirs to kingdoms and fortune could be announced at birth). But no matter how hard they looked, or how many doctors and nurses double-checked, they could not find that triangle of flesh that looked like a burn. Shoto simply wasn’t an alpha. The last of King Enji Todoroki’s children was a failure, and the king found himself wishing he had stopped at three children, because then he could declare that he had an all-alpha brood. But now, there was a non-alpha, and there was no denying it. Although the doctor’s said there could be a chance he would still present as an alpha when the time came, Enji knew better. But his wife, Rei, held their son to her breast, and he could tell she was desperate for that bit of hope that she had not failed her husband. But he did not care, in his eyes, Shoto was already a failure, and was doomed to disappoint him.
Shoto grew up in the shadow of his family. As the youngest child of King Enji and Queen Rei (for they would have no more children after him), and the only non-alpha of the children, he was set apart. Or rather, set aside. Shoto attended lessons, as his siblings did, and learned about politics, war, and diplomacy alongside regular studies – as his siblings did. But where they learned to take charge, to lead, to inspire the masses, and eventually rule in Touya’s case – he learned how to support them, to maneuver the court without being seen, and to handle all of that which happened behind the curtains. He was tended for, as in fed and housed, and the servants still cleaned his room for him and made sure he had a closet filled with clothing, but he was largely ignored by both servants, staff, court, and family. His mother, though perhaps still wishing he would still present as an alpha, had gotten over it. She followed his father’s example of looking at Shoto with disdain and disappointment, no matter how well he did in his studies. His parents had not tended to him as an infant, instead hiring a nanny who would only offer him the bare minimum of care, and only when absolutely necessary. His siblings, all older than him and busy enough as it is, did not have the time, or the desire, to play and care for him.
When Shoto was finally old enough to take lessons at the age of five, Natsuo was nine and was already becoming an elite socialite among his friends, Fuyumi was twelve and had just fully presented as an alpha and was starting to take her role as princess and right-hand to Touya seriously. Touya himself was fifteen, an alpha going through puberty and crown prince to the kingdom. None of them could spare the time and effort to tutor and coach a young child. It is not that they looked at Shoto the same way their parents looked at him, but they had grown accustomed to ignoring him, not that it took much effort. Shoto was always a quiet child, even his monochromatic eyes betrayed nothing but stillness within him. So, no one minded him, and Shoto grew on his own. He tended his own scrapes and bruises, refusing to cry or call out for help. He studied on his own, not willing to ask anyone for additional tutoring. He played on his own, often choosing to hike and explore the extensive palace and grounds, finding places that had long since been forgotten.
As he grew older, the court and press started to whisper about him, wondering what his dynamic was. Following the Todoroki lineage, most assumed he would be alpha or beta. With his quiet determination and intelligence, as well as his speed and surprising strength, some thought he would be alpha. When he failed to present by the age of thirteen, most assumed he would be beta as all of his siblings and his father had presented as alpha by that age. The rest were convinced by his demeanor. As always, even going into puberty, Shoto was calm, indifferent almost. His eyes continued to be blank, as if bored by the world and its happenings. He was even able to de-escalate situations, whether it was two alphas fighting due to hormones, or a dispute over who was right in a case of wrong-doing. These traits led everyone to believe he was beta, but it would not be confirmed until his eighteenth birthday, unless he happened to present beforehand.
When he was fourteen, he was able to convince his father to allow him to use and renovate the abandoned north tower in a home for himself, and for his future family – should he have one. Enji agreed, as it would mean Shoto would stay in the palace and work for the family as intended, but would also make sure he was away from the main family. Therefore, he would be out of site and out of mind but still usable. Within a year, Shoto had it renovated into a three-story home that housed a large living space on the main floor, with a guest bath, dining room, entertainment room, and a large kitchen. The second floor held additional bedrooms, to be used for guests or children. Four rooms total, each with a walk-in closet and attached bathroom. The third and final floor held Shoto’s quarters. A large master bedroom with an almost equally large walk-in closet, and a huge master bath with a bathtub big enough for four people and a detached walk-in shower that was also just as monstrous. Next to the bedroom was an additional room, Shoto’s study. It contained his desk and additional chairs on one side, with bookshelves lining the wall behind his office chair. To the other side were two couches in the corner closest to the door, one on each wall with a coffee table centered in front of them. In the center of the room was grand piano, behind it was a large window. The piano was faced so the pianist would sit with his back to the window, allowing him to see the rest of the room.
Shoto was proud of his home, and spent many hours in his study. He would read and study his subjects there, and would practice his piano. No one had bothered to teach him, but he had learned regardless and thought he was quite good for being self-taught. The servants only came to clean his home, for he tended to do most things for himself – including cook. He found early on that requesting food from the kitchens resulted in one of two things. They would either forget his request and he would go hungry, or he would get his food at a late hour and it would be cold and bland. So, he learned to cook for himself, which led to him requesting specific groceries. When he realized the servants would not actually grant his requests, he started going on his own, hiding beneath the hood of his jacket and going by public transportation to get the things he wanted. It seemed no one in the palace knew, or if they did – they didn’t care. And apparently the masses did not keep tabs on the youngest prince’s features, as no one ever recognized him, even when he let his hood down. Shoto shopped for himself, cooked for himself, and ate all his meals in his tower that was placed far away from anyone else in the palace. He found himself alone, firmly encased in solitude by the age of fifteen. He didn’t mind, really. He knew he was just a beta, just a stepping stone for the alpha’s in his family. Just a tool to make sure the royal family stayed in power and that the kingdom remained the way it was. His life had been this way since the beginning, and he knew it would never change.
Shoto had few friends, well, one friend. A young lord named Izuku Midoriya. He sometimes stayed at the palace, as a ward of sorts, since his father, the late Lord Midoriya, had been a loyal vassal and military commander to the king. The late lord had perished in the last war, before Izuku had been born, and so the king permitted his widow, Inko Midoriya, to bring the boy to the palace on occasion in order to learn the ways of the court. Inko herself was not permitted to stay, as she was an omega, and the only omega permitted in the castle overnight was the queen herself (and Enji was loathe to even allow that at times). So Izuku spent his time with the closest in age of the Todoroki’s – Shoto. Since they were about four years old, Izuku would come by for a week or two at a time once or twice a year. Shoto would sit in silence as the young boy rambled on and on about various subjects. As they grew older, Izuku started to change. Shoto didn’t realize when it started, but Izuku was never outright aggressive, and was actually more submissive than anything. Even as young as eight years old, Izuku showed signs of submissiveness, and he always seemed frailer than the other boys their age.
When Izuku turned ten, Shoto was allowed to visit the Midoriya mansion in the town over to celebrate the boy’s birthday. There were other boys there, some more important the others. Shoto remembers the crown prince of Baku being there, one Katsuki Bakugou. An aggressive, volatile little shit. The Queen of Baku, Mitsuki Bakugou, was there as well, both the royals bearing blonde hair and aggressive red eyes. The queen was an alpha, and her son probably was too. Shoto was surprised the queen was here in this mansion and not at his father’s palace, but he knew it was not his place to question such things. Additionally, there was another adult alpha there, a man by the name of Yagi Toshinori. Izuku introduced the man to Shoto, calling him his dad, at which the older, emaciated, blonde man started to tear up. Shoto did not understand why this was significant, for in his short experience of ten years, fathers did not care about their sons enough to cry at their sweet words.
The boys all had fun throughout the night, and most (including Shoto for once) had been permitted to stay the night for a sleepover. After all the boys fell asleep in random places in one of the Midoriya’s entertainment rooms, Shoto lay awake. As always, he found it hard to sleep, but tried to let the soft breaths and loud snores of the young boys lull him into sleep. He then heard a quiet whimper to his right, where Izuku was curled in on himself, supposedly asleep. When his friend whimpered again, Shoto got up and checked on him. What he found was a very sweaty, hot-to-the-touch boy, who was grasping his stomach, clearly in pain. Shoto panicked, not sure what to do, and looked around the room, seeing red eyes peering at him from one very awake Katsuki Bakugou. Without a word, the other prince rose and quickly left, coming back not two minutes later with Inko and Yagi on his heels. The rest of the night was a blur, with all the kids being woken up and picked up by parents or other chaperones. In the morning, only Katsuki and Shoto were left. Katsuki because his mother was friends with Inko and was staying for a few weeks. Shoto was there because the palace had declined to pick him up in the middle of the night, and there was no one at the Midoriya’s who could take him the two-hour drive back.
When Shoto suggested he could take a cab or train, even Katsuki looked at him like he had three heads. There was no way they were going to let a young prince take a cab or a train. Shoto didn’t argue with them after that, and just waited in the entry way while Katsuki played video games in one of the other rooms. The other prince clearly thought Shoto was a waste of space as well, and even the adults seemed to ignore him. Finally, at noon, a driver from the palace appeared. Yagi came down, and whispered a few words to the driver, who nodded and turned to go back to the waiting car, not even motioning to Shoto. Shoto stood, picked up his bag, gave a curt nod to the alpha who eyed him sadly (as to why, Shoto did not know), and then left the Midoriya mansion. He climbed into the backseat of the plain, white sedan his family always used to transport him, and headed home.
Weeks turned into months as Shoto waited for Izuku to call him, text him, anything. Shoto held his phone is his ten-year-old hands, wondering if his friend had finally discovered the truth about him. That Shoto was a waste of space, an inherent failure and disappointment to all who would ever know him. Eventually, a letter came. Explaining that Izuku was an omega, and could not longer come to visit Shoto, and that Shoto could no longer visit Izuku. Izuku apologized, saying that his family was also going to move to Baku at the end of the year, as the climate was better for Yagi, who suffered from an old lung injury. Izuku promised to write him more, and that they could at least exchange letters, as he did not think King Enji would like it if Shoto was using his cell phone to speak with an omega every day.
They wrote, exchanging a letter every month or two. Izuku filled his letters to Shoto with details about his days and his life, like he would if he were sitting next to him. Over the next six years, Shoto found it increasingly hard to find things to write back to Izuku and his own letters grew shorter and shorter. Without the other boy in his life, Shoto was alone and things continued as they had been. Since Shoto did not want to make Izuku sad by telling him this, but could not find himself to lie, he started sending recipes with instructions instead, or bits of piano music he had written. He was desperately trying to share the small amounts of happiness he had with Izuku, in the only way he could, but Shoto still felt – or rather he knew that Izuku would grow tired of him someday.