Promise rings were more than an object.
At least, that’s what hero-in-training, Izuku Midoriya, believed with his whole heart.
Words were fragile. They were simple syllables that rested on lips, easily unheard or forgotten. He was only a human. He could only memorize so much before things began to slip his mind, no matter how important they were to him.
It took Izuku weeks to come up with an idea to solve that problem.
He could remember the day he, Katsuki, and All Might had stirred up ideas together.
“So you want our help to come up with something to romance Young Todoroki with?” All Might sounded puzzled but intrigued at the same time.
“Yes, sir,” Izuku responded. “I trust your input, All Might.” He trusted All Might with every subject. “Plus, Kacchan has been dating Kirishima for a few months longer than Shouto and I have been together. I figured he might be more well-versed than me on this subject.” Not that Katsuki was particularly romantic. “I can ask Uraraka-san later, too, but this is much more private. Shouto knows that these meetings are confidential and would never disturb or listen in.”
“I know what a nerd like you could do,” Katsuki offered, kicking his feet up and propping them on the table. “Make one of your stupid notebooks again, but this time about all those ridiculous quirks that he has that you find endearing for some reason.”
Izuku brightened, sitting up abruptly and smiling radiantly at the ash blond. “That’s actually brilliant, Kacchan! Thank you!”
Katsuki scoffed and tilted his head away from the other boy, as if annoyed. Izuku knew he was trying to hide his happiness about the praise, but decided not to mention it. Their relationship was improving by the day and he didn’t want to harm it by poking fun at the other boy.
Not yet, anyway.
“I have an idea to build on that, Young Bakugou.” All Might added, smiling at Izuku, making the boy perk up even more. “Young Todoroki cherishes actions far more than words. I believe if you find a gesture to solidify the promises you make him, he will almost definitely enjoy it.”
“Have you ever heard of a promise ring?”
That’s why promise rings were important. It was a solid way to remind himself of the promises he made to Shouto and a way to bring daily comfort to Shouto. One ring of the pair was already snug on his finger. The other? In a tiny black box, nestled within his pocket and awaiting its wearer.
Now, Izuku was terrified. He knew Shouto loved him. Although he often struggled to believe it was true or that he deserved it, it was a fact. There was no way Shouto would reject the ring. But what if it overwhelmed Shouto? His boyfriend was much more simplistic when it came to showing love. He avoided the large gestures of romance Izuku often craved and frankly, Izuku was alright with that. He did never seem to mind when Izuku went over the top with romance, but this wasn’t Shouto’s usual thing.
Despite all this, it wasn’t until Izuku entered school grounds, though, that unrealistic fears and doubts flooded his mind. What if Shouto hated the idea? What if he was allergic to metals? What if he hated wearing jewelry? What if he hated the design? What if that level of commitment scared Shouto, despite all of his easy talk about growing old with Izuku? The future Symbol of Peace cringed at the thought. He had spent a fair amount of time planning this. He was worried his uneasy heart would throw the entire idea aside and the ring would sit in his desk for the next year, collecting dust and going unworn.
As if sensing his doubt from across the common room, Uraraka came over, offering a bright smile, small dimples denting her rosy cheeks and her brown eyes sparkling with excitement. “Hey, Deku-kun!” She greeted, her voice cheerfully calling his childhood nickname. His heart softened at the sound. It sounded much better now that the definition was more optimistic. Instead of flinching in fear, he could feel safe and loved when he heard it.
She was a wonderful best friend and he already felt much more relaxed, his mind letting go to his anxiety to focus on her.
“Hey, Uraraka-san,” He greeted, smiling at her warmly in greeting. He knew exactly why she was gazing at him expectantly. He displayed the ring for her, nervously averting his gaze and waiting for her reaction. The ring was small and silver with three small crystals. A bright green one nestled between a red one and a white one. It was lovely and simplistic and he, despite his fear, felt a spark of pride in his heart. He felt like it was appropriate and his heart was soaring despite his anxieties when Uraraka’s eyes widened in delight and awe.
“It looks amazing, Deku-kun!” She gushed, lighting up and bouncing on her heels. “Todoroki-kun is so lucky.” She took the ring and angled it towards the light more, openly admiring it. He couldn’t help but puff up at the praise. He was trying his best every day to prove his worth not only as a hero and as a student of All Might, but also as a boyfriend.
Izuku flushed, glancing at the ring, almost skeptically. It was beautiful, but… “Are you sure? Mom helped me pick it out.”
She nodded, almost fervently. “Yes! You both found the perfect ring!” She gave him a light shove towards the elevator. “Now go confess your love to that adorable boy!”
Izuku rolled his eyes. “I already did that to him in the second year.”
Uraraka huffed at him in annoyance and he shot her a grin, stepping into the elevator and pressing the button that would take him to Shouto’s floor. He was pretty lucky to have her as a best friend. A warm content feeling wrapped around him and he sank into it. Maybe he could do this.
It was still a maybe, but at least that was something.
Shouto’s room was very much a shared space between the pair of them. Weighted blankets to soothe anxiety, hero analysis notebooks, All Might merch and more were speckled around the traditional-style bedroom. It was also speckled with gifts they had gotten for the other, tokens of thoughts and love. He would have taken a moment to admire their combined mess had Shouto not immediately pulled him into the bed. Warm arms wrapped around him and he snuggled into them. “Cuddles?” Izuku guessed knowingly, enjoying how he could feel the hum of affirmation.
He considered offering the ring now, but the warmth and weight was too tempting. He sank into it and snuggled closer to Shouto. “Were you working with Aizawa again?”
Aizawa had grown far more attached to the class, at least more openly. He was now willing to train the class one-on-one and it was often the most vigorous training they experienced in their - admittedly short - hero careers. They left the sessions with sore muscles and dark bruises, minds filled with a pile of critiques and hard-earned compliments.
Izuku never minded. He never minded the critiques or the pain, knowing that being aware of them only helped him become a better hero. He clung to the praise, knowing it was an improvement from being useless and quirkless when he was a kid. He overall enjoyed training with Aizawa, even if the rest of the class seemed to dread it.
“He deactivated my quirk and made me face him in hand-to-hand combat,” Shouto explained, voice low and heavy with sleep. He nuzzled his face into Izuku’s curls and breathed deeply. “He said I needed to work on that more. I’m too dependent on my Quirk.” He grunted in annoyance at himself and Izuku felt a burst of fond pride towards Shouto.
Izuku rolled over, resting his palm on Shouto’s cheek and pressing a light kiss to his lips. “You’re doing wonderful, Shou. You’re working really hard right now. You’ll be the second best hero in no time.”
Shouto leaned into Izuku’s touch, letting his eyes fall shut and smiling gently. “Only second? Who’s gonna be first, then?”
Izuku grins and leans closer, brushing their noses together and chuckling. “I heard it’s some guy named Deku.”
“Hmm, sounds like someone special,” Shouto offers, his expression melting into something full of warmth and adoration. “Do you think I can work with him some day?’
Izuku couldn’t help it; he laughed softly. “Oh, I promise you’ll work together. Maybe you’ll even own an agency together.”
That’s a good segue into the ring. It’s now or never, I guess.
“Speaking of promises, I, uh, wanted to share something with you.” He propped himself up on his elbow and gazed at Shouto attentively. “Do you remember what you told me at the Training Camp? When I was confused about what to do with Kota?”
Shouto nodded. “Words have to be backed up with actions.”
Izuku hummed in confirmation. “I wanted to find a way to solidify a reminder of my promises. So I got myself this.” Izuku held up his hand held up his hand. “It’s going to remind me of everything I promise you.”
Shouto softened completely, gently taking Izuku’s hand and tracing his fingers over the ring. “Izuku...” He said, almost under his breath.
“I’m not done yet, love,” Izuku said, smiling playfully.
Shouto quirked his eyebrow, silently inviting his boyfriend to continue.
Izuku drew in a deep breath and reached into his pocket, pulling out the box containing the matching ring. “I wanted to find a way to remind you of it, too. Maybe on days I’m working late, it’s a reminder that I love you. Or days where you’re afraid to tell me something, it’ll show you that I support you. It’s just a way to silently express I love you whenever you wear it.”
“Izuku,” Shouto smiled and took the box to examine the ring. He looked like he was fighting tears, his eyes misty and his cheeks flushed a deep red. “It’s beautiful. Like you.”
Izuku squeaks in alarm and glares at his boyfriend, the familiar feeling of a blush dusting his cheeks. “I’m supposed to be spoiling you.”
“Love is a two-way street,” Todoroki reminds him and quickly pecks his nose. “Now, would you put the ring on me?”
Izuku could feel the intense heat in his cheeks spread to his neck as he delicately took Shouto’s hand and slipped the ring on his finger, softly sealing it with a light kiss.
Shouto watched in awe before offering a slightly playful smile. “Shouldn’t you be making promises?”
“I have my entire life to make promises to you,” Izuku assured him with a grin. “But since you’re so needy..” He pretended to ponder for a moment, stroking his chin before feigning delight as he pretended to think of the perfect promise. As if it wasn’t a promise he had made to himself a long time ago. “How about this? I promise to love you for as long as you’ll have me.”
“I’ll have you forever,” Todoroki responded immediately. He paused and raised his eyebrow again. “That’s a pretty big commitment, Izuku. Are you sure you want it?" Despite the semi-playful tone, he could sense an undercurrent of uncertainty radiating from Shouto, a hesitancy that involved considering whether or not he was worthy of it.
Izuku squeezed his hand reassuringly. “There are two things in my life I’m certain of, Shouto.” The heterochromatic boy tilted his head curiously and Izuku nearly melted at the cuteness. “Firstly, I want to be a hero who smiles at the face of danger more than anything. Preferably the future Symbol of Peace.”
Shouto’s lips quirked upwards, bemused. “Okay, unsurprising. The other thing?”
“That I want to spend the rest of my life loving you and fighting by your side.”
Shouto paused, scanning Izuku’s face and then smiled softly. He knew Shouto could see his sincerity and love. He knew his boyfriend was craving affirmation because the ring left him feeling vulnerable and he was certain he wouldn't mind reassuring Shouto for the rest of his life.
Shouto leaned forward placed a gentle, but firm kiss on Izuku’s lips, pouring his adoration and affection into it. He pulled away and began to peck kisses all over Izuku’s face. On his button nose, his freckled cheeks, his smiling lips, and above his sparkling eyes. Izuku was laughing and trying to nudge his boyfriend off, despite soaking the attention up like a sponge. “Okay, Shou! I get it! You love me! Now get off!”
Shouto reluctantly obeyed and propped his head on Izuku’s chest, sulking in an almost puppy-like fashion. His lips curled into a pout and his beautiful eyes were drooping. It was undeniably cute.
“Okay, one more kiss. And then you’re going to bed, sleepyhead.”
“Do you promise to stay and cuddle me?”
“I promise on the rings.”
And Izuku confirmed it with one last goodnight kiss to satisfy his pouting boyfriend, wrapping his arms around Shouto and holding him close.
He could save showing Shouto the notebook for another time. This was more than enough for him.