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Familia Bonds

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Touya Todoroki hated his hair. Out of all his siblings, he got the short straw when it came to his appearance. Natsuo got their mother's white locks and rocky grey eyes in full while Fuyumi's hair was only laced with spatters of vibrant red. His youngest brother, Shouto, was only half lucky, literally being cut down the middle when it came to genetics. Touya was cursed to be a carbon copy of their father. While he admitted that the luminous blue Todoroki eyes were beautiful, they clashed harshly with the fiery red. His spiky hair was somewhat lighter than his father's but it still remained a bright shade of red. He despised it.

When it came down to it, it was probably the quirk that solidified how cursed he was. The flames burned hotter than any he had ever seen. Not only that, but they blazed a brilliant blue. When his sister had first seen them, she had even called them pretty. Touya used to agree. That is until his father tried to train him. Training the volatile fire was painful and proved that the mixed marriage had left a flaw in his quirk; Touya wasn't fire resistant. When the flames went beyond his palms and fingers, the flesh would blister and darken. It hurt beyond belief.

When Shouto's quirk appeared, Touya worried. He could control his quirk to stay at his hands with few slip ups by then. But that was after grueling hours of training under his father. In fact, a quarter of the burns weren't even from his own slip ups but from the reprimands. Enji had no tolerance for weakness; he wanted constant victories. He would demand those victories until Touya broke and then he would reprimand the failure. Shouto had a quirk more powerful than Touya's quirk. Would their father treat their little brother the same?

One day, Enji replaced Touya. The older brother could return to spending time with the other Todoroki children. Shouto, in turn, was swept away for training. He watched as the younger boy started the grueling training at five years old, and he watched his mother begin to shatter. She had always bandaged Touya up after he finished a rough session. Rei had tried to reason with her husband to no avail then. Now, another one of her little boys was in pain, and she feared once more. Her eldest didn't know what to do.

It wasn't until she complete broke that Touya realized he should have stopped their father long ago. He stumbled in on Shouto wailing, clutching his face. A steaming kettle was gripped in their mother's hand as she stared unseeing at her handiwork. Touya scrambled over to his baby brother, pulling him to his chest. He screamed for his brother or sister as Rei and Shouto cried. It was one of the worst days of his life as he watched his mother and little brother carted away. His mother never came back, locked away in a mental hospital. Shouto returned bandaged up and permanently scarred. The fiery red mark was a reminder to Touya of his negligence. Had he stepped in soon, his baby brother wouldn't have suffered. Had he stepped in sooner, his mother wouldn't be locked away because of his father.

Fuyumi was too much of a pushover when it came to their father, shying away from his fiery wrath. Natsuo reflected Touya's emotions but was still four years younger than the twins and didn't have a powerful quirk to back up his feelings. Shouto was the baby. He could barely control his quirk much less defend himself against the monster that was their father. The last line of defense remained and that was Touya. He would take over the place of their mother in healing Shouto's wounds and standing up to his father. Fuyumi had already taken over the cleaning and cooking, and Natsuo was just struggling to get by in his classes. That left Touya to protect Shouto.

Shouto whined as his older brother wrapped his thin forearm. "It hurts," he whimpered softly.

"Sorry, Little Shouto," murmured Touya, dark lashes flickering as he squinted at the instructions on his phone. "Just give me a moment. I'm making sure I wrap it better this time." He didn't want a repeat of last time where the bandages fell off in one day, and they had to resort to thirteen bandaids.

The small boy sniffled but nodded. His heterochromatic eyes shone with unshed tears. "I thought I did better this time..."

A small frown settled on Touya's lips. "I bet you did better than me at my age. You control your quirk pretty well, ya know."

"Father said I can do better..."

"Bullshit," growled the older, frowning sharply. "You're only eight. I could barely control my quirk at eight. He can't expect so much out of you. It's unfair."

Shouto's lip wobbled. "I-it's fine, Touya..."

Realizing his brother's discomfort, Touya's face softened. "Ah... Sorry, Little Shouto. I was just upset. Here ya go," he comforted as he finished his work. If the article was correct, the bandages wouldn't come undone so fast this time. "I'll wrap it again after your bath tonight, okay?"

The younger flexed his fingers, winced a bit, and nodded. "Alright..."

A soft smile graced the older boy's face. "Let's go see what Big Sis made for dinner, hm?" He rose into a crouched position. "Piggyback ride?"

A grin appeared as Shouto bounced up and onto his brother's back. "I hope it's cold soba!"

"You always want cold soba."

"Because it's the best!"

+++

A hiss slipped between his teeth as he dabbed a wet, soapy cloth on his jaw. Touya despised the sting of soap against freshly burned skin, especially on his face. But he needed to clean the skin before bandaging it up or else it could get infected. 'Still, I could do without the soap's bite,' he affirmed silently. 'At least the burn cream is nice.'

Tension fell from his shoulders as he smeared a splotch of aloe burn cream on his face. It soothed the heat that radiated from the burn. The injury started at the tip of his chin and swept up half his jaw. It wasn't the first time he had gotten a facial burn but it was the first time he had to fix it without his mother's guiding hands. She could cool his skin with gentle brushes of her icy fingertips. He missed her cold hands that soothed the blazing heat of his quirk.

Touya placed a few large bandaids along the burn, covering it. Hopefully it would heal without scarring. He didn't need another scar to lie about to his teachers. They at least believed the fifteen year old when be claimed that his quirk had accidentally gone off during the night last time he was burned on his shoulder. Truth was most of his injuries came from confrontations with his father. His quirk would flare up a bit too much, and he wouldn't suppress it. This led to fire spontaneously bursting up in random patches. Unfortunately, it had chosen his face this time.

He had been arguing with the old man over his baby brother's training again. Shouto had passed out during their most resent session, and Touya was furious at Enji for pushing the youngest boy to the point of fainting. He had felt the fire alighting inside himself but ignored it. That happened to be a mistake. When his father had lashed out, flames blazed across his jaw as panic seized his heart. It startled both of them enough for Enji to back off. The man had huffed and left Touya to lick his wounds and Shouto to rest.

Staring at himself in the mirror, Touya thought about his hair. It honestly looked more like a light scarlet than dark crimson. He hated it. He wished he was graced with some bit of white, one reminder of his mother. Sadly, he had to be a carbon copy of his father. At least, he knew he'd never have to copy the bastard's beard. Touya ran a hand through the bright locks. He could dye it some time. Bleaching it would look horrible but maybe a shade of brown or even black. Anything was better than some form of red.

A knock made the teen jump. Natsuo was watching him with an unreadable expression. "Fuyumi is done with dinner," he spoke up. "You good?"

He huffed. "When are any of us good?" Touya asked, smiling bitterly. He watched his younger brother frown deeply. "I'll survive."

"I know, I just..." Natsuo stopped himself, averting his eyes. "I wish I could stand up to him too..."

"You have a simple steam quirk, Natsuo. He wouldn't treat your words as serious unless you were an actual threat..."

"And I hate that. If I do something, I'll get hurt. If I don't, it's like I'm useless."

Touya put a hand on the boy's shoulder. His brother was only twelve and yet his anxiety shone bright as day. "Leave it to me. I'm your older brother, and it is my job to protect you," he reasoned. He gave a smile that turned into an awkward grimace as his injured skin stretched.

Smiling sadly, Natsuo sighed. "I wish things were different."

"We all do. But this is how things are. When I get older, I promise that things will change."

"I'll hold you to it."

"Natsuo! Touya! Fuyumi said you need to eat!" Shouto called, bouncing up the stairs.

Touya chuckled softly. "You dork. Shouldn't you be resting?" He asked. "Fuyumi wouldn't ask you to come get us."

"She was complainin' so I came and gotchu!" The smaller boy announced. "Come on!"

The two older boys looked at one another and laughed before following the youngest member of their family down the stairs.

+++

Touya shuddered at the scene before him. Their father stood over the prone form of his baby brother. The mats were smoking around him, and a thick coating of ice covered the far wall. A section of white hair was tinged black. He had just come back to check on his baby brother. Fuyumi had given him a sad look when he said he was worried about Shouto and admitted that he was motherhenning a bit often. He had scowled when Natsuo had agreed with her. Now he, walking upon this, was glad for his nervousness.

"What the hell are you doing?!" Touya practically roared. He slammed into Enji, shoving him away. Scooping the little Todoroki into his arms, he assessed the damage. 

Shouto was wheezing and crying. Soot stained his shirt and cheeks, and he smelt of smoke. Other than some tinged hair and a few bruises, the boy looked free of injury. That being said, the oldest Todoroki boy burned inside. From the looks of it, Enji had pushed him too far again, and Shouto's ice had lashed out. This lash out must have angered the man, like every other little upset, and he chose to lash out in turn.

"The brat almost hit me with his ice. We aren't training ice today, he knew that," growled the fiery man. "So I reminded him what we were training."

Touya snarled. "How does attacking him help? Leave the kid alone!"

"Shut up! Don't talk back to me!”

"I'll talk however I want, old man!" Touya felt the blue flames churning inside him, clawing to get out.

Enji sneered, his flame beard flickering. "You're nothing bit a failure! A mistake! Get away from him. He can handle it."

"He's a child!"

"He's not a failure!"

Touya flinched and rose to his feet. He stood between the cowering form of his baby brother and the monster before him. "Little Shouto..." He kept his turquoise eyes locked with the man's before him. "Go to your Big Sis..."

"T-touya...?" Shouto wheezed out.

"Go. Now."

He didn't wait another second and scrambled out of the training room. When Enji tried to follow, the older brother stepped in front of the door. They glared at one another. "Move," Enji stated, breaking the tense silence.

"Over my dead body," retorted Touya, his rebellious streak rearing up. His father was absolutely fuming, and he would relish in it as long as he could.

"I said move!" Enji bellowed, stomping forwards. Fire roared to life across the man's skin.

Blue flames danced across Touya's fingertips in response, prepared for his father's attack. The man lashed out with the golden red light and anger in his eyes.  Thankful for his smaller form and lean muscles, the boy dodged out of the way, slicing through an flames in his path with his own. He attempted to punch at his attacker only to receive a hit to the gut. White pain flashed across his vision, and he gagged.

Touya stumbled back and remained hunched for a second. Inhaling, he bounded forwards, lashing out with his quirk. Cyan sparks glowed as the fire met hellfire. He got in a hit as the man prepared for another burst of blue fire, slugging him across the face. The boy cheered internally at the successful hit as the man clutched his jaw. His joy was cut short as his father bounced back, grabbing him by the collar of his t-shirt.

He gagged again as he was lifted into the air. While he may be sixteen, the eldest Todoroki son had yet to be graced with height or ample weight. Enji easily held the teen in the air with one muscular arm. As much as he thrashed or kicked, his father's grip remained solid.

"You stupid child," Enji snapped. "Stop getting in my way, pest."

"M-make me, dumbass,” Touya wheezed out.

The man's eyes hardened, and the boy realized he wasn't in the right place to retort.

"Then I'll make you shut up."

Flames licked their way up Enji's towards Touya's neck. Horror gripped his heart. His father was going to kill him! If not kill, he would at least make sure the teen couldn't talk again. Both outcomes would not end well, and Touya thrashed harder.

As heat began closing in on him, Touya panicked worse. His flames blazed within him, trying to tear out of him. He didn't want to die. He wanted to live! He needed to protect his family! He needed to get his mother out of the hospital! He was...

Blue fire burst from his body. It blazed across his flesh and spewed out. The wooden walls and the mats of the dojo room were set alight. It burned at Enji's hand, and he dropped the boy. Everything was ablaze with Touya's fire, and all he could do was scream as it blistered his skin. It hurt, it hurt, it hurt... All he could hear was the roar of the fire around him until darkness enveloped him.

+++

The next time he awoke, he felt like he wanted to scream. He would have, in fact, if it wasn't for his lacking voice. Pain coursed through his body with each wheezing breath. Where was he? He was so disoriented right now. It was still dim but he could make out.... The sky? It sure looked like the sky with darkening hues of blues and purples. When did he get outside?

Shifting, he felt the ground around him shift as well. Now that he thought about it, he wasn't on level ground. Sharp objects poked at his charred flesh, and lumpy forms cushioned his shoulders. Beyond the gut churning smell of burning and smoke wafted a faint scent of mold and rot. Squinting and turning his head, he found himself staring at the grimy inside wall of a dumpster. His lips curled in disgust, sending a stinging pain through his face.

How much of himself was burnt? He remembered loosing hold on his quirk and then pain and darkness. But he and his father were in the dojo... Bile rose in his raw throat. His father was the last person with him. He was the only one who had been there when his quirk exploded. Had he thought the teen was dead and dumped the body? Or did he leave Touya to die in a dumpster? Either thought sickened the heavily injured boy.

Then his mind wandered to his siblings. What did they think? They knew his quirk could be dangerous and could believe that he lost control. Did his quirk even burn hot enough to cremate bodies? He shuddered at the thought and promised himself never to test it. That is, if he even survived. Touya could faintly see the darkness swarming at the edge of his vision, inviting him to just close his eyes and rest.

The thoughts of his family burned a resolve in him. He had to make sure that they were safe, even if it meant watching from the sidelines so they wouldn't get hurt. There was no question that their father would react badly to him returning. He was only a sixteen year old, and Endeavor was a pro-hero with more talent and expertise on his side. The man could wipe the floor with his face and then burn him to a crisp. 'Though I'm pretty sure I can't get more burnt than I am now,' the teen thought bitterly.

A searing heat pasted through him as he attempted to sit up. He pushed through it as black dots swirled in his sight. He would get out of the dumpster and then figure out what to do next. Using his unburned palms, Touya clawed himself up. He was panting like a marathon runner as he paused. Raspy breaths whisped past his lips into the chilled November air. The cold helped with the unsettling warmth across his skin. He enjoyed the relief for a moment before getting back to business.

Painstakingly, Touya pulled himself upright. His legs ached and burned. Wetness dripped down his body, and he couldn't tell of it was blood or sweat. All he knew was it stung like hell. Trying to push through the stinging, he pushed himself to move. His body didn't get the memo as he tumbled forwards, crashing into the alleyway below. Cans and bottles skittered away as he hit the ground with a painful crunch. Shards of glass dug into his cheek and arms. He doubted he could stand up without dicing his palms and knees. His body trembled as the cold air seeped into his bones after a few minutes. What once was a blessing was now becoming a curse.

His chest hurt. He was certain there were no burns there and yet it hurt. Maybe he inhaled too much smoke. The teen remembered when he was a child when something similar had occurred. It was after a rough training session. His father had forced him to over use his quirk, and it left his palms smoking. To avoid looking weak, he covered his mouth to stifle any sobs. Later, his lungs had hurt immensely. His mother had taken him to a doctor who explained that it was probably inhaling the smoke of his quirk and was given told to drink lots of water and use a humidifier in his bedroom to clear his lungs.

His throat constricted as he tried to swallow. He was thirsty, and his tongue tasted as though it was coated in ash. If he didn’t die from his burns, he'd probably die from smoke inhalation. Maybe he would he lucky and someone who walk down the alley he was in. He could at least hope, right? That person would take him to a doctor, and he would heal up. Then he'd watch over his siblings somehow. Touya wouldn't just die here... Right?

And as time past, his hope started to wane. Darkness clawed at the corners of his vision, seeping inwards. No one was coming. Enji must have dumped his body in some far part of town. If anyone did find his body, the people would probably leave it. That had to be the reason no person was helping.

Touya blinked slowly. Shadows danced before him. Giving in to the sleep gnawing at his mind sounded nice. A few seconds of shut eye couldn't hurt. As he closed his eyes, something shifted. He drifted off as footsteps came rushing towards him. He didn't even wake when his body was moved.