When Todoroki Shouto was young, he was just a boy. A boy meant to hold the world in his hands, though of that world he knew few in it. He didn’t have anyone to really call a friend.
But now that he does, said friends don’t seem to get the concept.
To him, it’s normal. He doesn’t even know why they’re are so surprised when he says things like I’ve never hugged anyone besides my mother or I didn’t know any kids my age. He was homeschooled after all.
Most of them awkwardly steer the conversation away, though a few, like Midoriya, continue talking, and say stuff like wow… I’m so sorry.
Whatever, his life goes on, it’s just a little happier now.
Today’s a lazy Saturday. Early in the morning he goes to the train station by himself. Since becoming third years without any recent incidents, they’re allowed to travel alone. He has a nice talk with his mother. He doesn’t exactly want to leave, but 1:00 is when he usually does. So he bids her farewell and goes home, just like any other Saturday.
When he steps through the door, his classmates immediately turn to him, excitedly asking him to join in on whatever game they’re playing. Shouto shakes his head no.
Later, as he’s sitting in his bed studying, he looks around the empty room and thinks about what’s going on five levels below. How many of them are down there? Is it all but him and probably Bakugou that are sticking to themselves ?
Even from up here, he hears the faint sound of music. He wonders what they’re listening to. Is Midoriya dancing, swaying hips like Shouto saw last week when he walked into the class’ dance party while trying to get a cup of tea? A smile gracing a cute face as the movement creates reactions in Shouto that it shouldn’t?
When did he start thinking about Midoriya?
When did this frost appear on his pencil, and a chill permeate the air?
Whatever. Focus. Stop being unproductive.
These are things to wonder another time.
When the moon shines through his window and the presence of night fills the air, Shouto’s phone buzzes in his bed. He closes the book he’s idly reading while his eyes droop. Grabs the phone, slightly annoyed. Checks the caller id.
Abandoning the book despite the interesting scene, he leans back and holds the phone close to his chest. Clicks on the notification, the app opens. He takes care and reads Midoriya’s words slowly.
Hi dya wanna get out of the dorms tomorrow? i was wondering if you’d want to go to the beach with me? Dagobah, it’s close by :)
A little heart pops up next to his smiley face, making Shouto’s own heart jump a little. He maybe ponders tapping the heart on Midoriya’s message, but doesn’t bring himself do it. Instead, he fixes his gaze to it for a few seconds, smiles, and sets the phone down. But he picks it up once more, makes sure the ringer is on, sets it down again, then double checks that it’s on. Just in case Midoriya texted again.
Leading up to noon, Shouto is a little bit confused. He’d reread the text for the, and was dismayed by the place Midoriya picked. Shouto remembers Dagobah beach being an infamous dumping ground with hypodermic needles buried in the sand. Maybe he’s remembering some place else?
He must be, because he arrives, and Dagobah’s beautiful.
Shouto’s not a big fan of beaches in general. He’s only ever been once when his sister took him, and he hadn’t seen the appeal then. It was too crowded, and seaweed flowed against his legs unsettlingly. All he knows now is from his limited media experience. He assumed it wouldn’t live up to the portrayal.
But now he supposes it’s a bit better. February’s rarely this mild, most people wouldn’t dream of going to the beach at this time of year. Today’s a mildish 10 degrees celsius, not usually swimming weather. But at this temperature Shouto can regulate himself just fine. He’s left to look across the glistening blue water in comfort.
The horizon seems so far away. He wonders how far he’d have to build an ice bridge till he reached whatever island was on the other side. How long would it take to freeze the entire ocean? Or to hold a flame over it until it all evaporated? What’d happen then? What would they discover, uncovered from the depths of the blues?
He hears sand shifting, and turns away from the shining sea. He fondly smiles at the approaching figure. Midoriya has hands in jean pockets and is shivering in a thin flannel. Waves a shaky hand. Shouto returns one. Soon they’re side by side.
“It… sure is cold out here,” Midoriya laughs, with a face that certainly does not look amused.
“I can’t tell,” Shouto replies. “My body self regulates.”
“Oh, well, you know…” Midoriya runs a hand through thick green hair and stiffens up. Shouto feels something raw well up, he has to fix it. He pads around to Midoriya’s right side. He brushes fingers against the other’s hand, and the hint is taken after a long shared look. Shouto takes Midoriya’s hand in his left, and gently heats it. Midoriya immediately relaxes, a sigh escaping pale lips.
Midoriya smiles, which makes Shouto smile back. Weird, he didn’t have to tell himself to do that. It just came up. Is that why some people do it so much? Why Midoriya does it all the time?
“Do you want to sit down, or walk?” Shouto asks.
“I think walk?” Midoriya says. “Or… maybe if my legs get a little less frozen.”
“Sit down then,” Shouto says. He’s perfectly capable of fixing Midoriya’s plight.
They sit on the bare sand, and Shouto knows he’s going to regret this later when there’s sand in his underwear. But right now it’s fine.
Gently and slowly, kind of afraid to do so, he extracates his arm from Midoriya’s hand, and swings it over the other’s shoulders. With a bit of thought, he bravely lifts his leg over Midoriya’s too. At the same time, he heats both of them, along with his side. Midoriya sighs, and snuggles into it.
It’s the closest he’s been physically with someone since he was a toddler. Well… discounting sparring and grappling. Though it’s a little bit numbed by the warmth, cuddling is still a foreign sensation that seems too real. Too grounded, too there.
He’s not sure how he feels about it, but Midoriya seems happy so it’s fine.
They fall into silence, but it seems comfortable. He stares off into the distance and goes back to his thoughts from before, thinking of little questions he’s never really thought of. He goes into his own little world. That means that it’s a little while until he realizes Midoriya is crying.
The sniffling is what alerts him, and then he notices the dampness of his shirt. He picks up his arm and sort of tries to move his leg, but Midoriya just snuggles in closer and sniffs louder.
Is it something I did? Is Midoriya ok? What happened?
“Stay…” Midoriya mumbles.
Shouto puts his arm back, and Midoriya relaxes just a bit. Making a bold move, he starts to card his fingers through Midoriya’s hair. Midoriya whimpers, but then relaxes into it.
“What’s wrong?” Shouto asks, quietly.
“I shouldn’t say,” Midoriya answers. Shouto can feel his friend blink, through the shirt, with long eyelashes. It feels weird, but he isn’t about to say that right now.
“Are you sure?”
“It’s embarrassing,” his friend mutters. Shouto’s shirt grows wetter. As they’ve hung out, Shouto kept learning just how intensely Midoriya cries. Sometimes Shouto gets worried. Like now.
“It’s just, it’s trivial,” Midoriya starts as Shouto works through a tangle with his fingers. “And like, compared to what we’ve all gone through, what you’ve gone through, it’s really freaking stupid. It shouldn’t-” Midoriya chokes up. “It shouldn’t make me cry like this.”
“I think it’s good to cry though,” he counters. He’s not even sure about this, he’s never thought about it before. But he heard it once before, and anything to help Midoriya. “Just let it all out. I’m all ears.”
“Ok…” Midoriya sniffs. “Are you sure? It’s… heavy.”
“Well I… I want to start with… I don’t like how I look.”
It’s spat out quickly, almost too fast for him to process.
“You look good though,” Shouto says. But apparently it was the wrong thing to say because Midoriya pulls away just a little. He has to stop petting Midoriya’s soft, nice hair.
“I know, I know objectively I look nice, but…” Midoriya wipes away a tear. “I’ll never look like you. Or… some of the other people I find… nice looking.”
Shouto’s brows furrow. “I don’t look good though?”
Midoriya straightens up and stares at him. “If you don’t look good then I’m blind.”
“But like, my scar, and my hair, and stuff…”
“Those are what makes you beautiful,” Midoriya says bluntly, before eyes widen and a hand is slapped over mouth. When Midoriya shrinks away, he frowns.
“Come back. It’s cold over there.”
Reluctantly, Midoriya slinks back into Shouto’s arms.
They lapse into silence again, before Shouto prompts Midoriya to continue.
“Well, regardless of what I actually look like, I don’t like it. But today, I was really excited. And I wanted to have a fun time with you- still do. So I wanted to dress up. Not like fancy or anything, but I just wanted to look good. Outfit wise.”
Shouto holds back from saying that Midoriya looks great in cuffed jeans and a green flannel, with an All Might graphic t underneath. He doesn’t describe how he wants to keep looking at his friend in a way he shouldn’t be looking at his friends.
But Midoriya doesn’t continue, so Shouto asks, “um, I don’t know if this is worth anything, but you look nice.”
“Nice?” Midoriya laughs. “This is what I wear on Saturday afternoons. Not for having fun. I… didn’t have the clothes to look how I wanted to.”
“How did you want to look?”
“Um, well… kind of… a little bit like…” Midoriya pauses, which turns into such a long pause that Shouto wonders if the train of thought is gone. But Midoriya continues, “for lack of a better word, gayer? Like, tight jeans, a blouse, maybe even nail polish?”
“More feminine?” Shouto suggests.
Midoriya goes completely silent, before weakly nodding.
“That’s cool. Guys can be feminine.”
Midoriya completely stiffens, and looks like maybe bolting away. Shouto pulls back for the other’s own comfort, and gains an idea of maybe, just maybe, what the problem with that sentence was. Either that or Midoriya has some issues.
“Midoriya, what pronouns do you want to use?”
The that dawns Midoriya’s face is taken aback, but at the same time, not surprised. Midoriya sighs, and softly says “She. And her.”
Shouto’s eyes widen. He had the suspicion, but it’s strange to hear it come out of his best friend’s mouth. Her mouth. Midoriya’s always been… so strong. She fit in with the guys. He never thought she was uncomfortable in her skin. But she must’ve been, maybe that’s why she’s unafraid to break it.
Still, he shouldn’t be so surprised. He sees how her heart falls, and now he tries desperately to put on a more compassionate expression. To show how he feels, not his shock. He runs a hand over hers.
Then Midoriya actually breaks away, and she scampers back. Then she starts to ramble.
“Wait um… I think she/her? I don’t even really know. But it feels better than… feels better than he right now.”
Silence falls, and Shouto knows he has to make this better. But he doesn’t really know what to say. He goes for what he knows, what he’s read, what he thinks should help.
“Would you prefer they/them?”
“Maybe…” she seems to think. “Maybe sometimes, but right now…”
“Right now you’re a girl?”
Midoriya starts to slowly crawl back towards him. Shouto cringes at how much sand must be getting in her clothes right now. She sits down, and slowly leans back into him with a shiver. Immediately the heat turns on.
“Yeah.” She’s not crying anymore, though her eyes are still puffy and red. “That’s why, I wanted it to be perfect, but it’s not and I don’t own anything feminine, and I would ask Uraraka but that would involve asking…”
“I get it,” Shouto says. Well, he doesn’t understand, not really, but he gets why it hurts her, even if it’s something that could never bother him. All he needs to know is that it’s causing her pain. That’s what matters.
Silence falls as neither of the teens know what to say. Well, Shouto knows what he wants to say. But he knows he’ll sadly never find the right words to sing right to Midoriya’s ears. She deserves just the best, and Shouto doesn’t think he can give it.
“I’m sorry,” she says.
She blinks slowly, but ignores him. “I’m not usually like this. I can handle this most days - Or even like it.”
“Like it?” He ruffles his brows, wanting desperately to understand more but not quite there. It’s times like this where he envies those with empathy or mind reading quirks. They must be much better at relationships than him. He doesn’t understand how something that makes her cry can sometimes be something she likes?
“Like… I have muscles! I’m strong, scarred, I have eyes, I look in the mirror, and see why some may possibly find me… hot. Like if they ignore this,” she gestures to her face. Shouto’s instinct is immediately to disagree - her face is a soft, beautiful part of her. But he’s learned that his instinct sucks. His instinct gets him hit and hurt.
“Sometimes, I can like those parts of me. That’s when I don’t mind being called a boy. So, I’m sorry that I can’t just be normal today.”
“Like I said, don’t be. I don’t really know much about this type of stuff, but I know you can’t change it.”
She bites her lip. “Thank you.”
They lapse into silence, but Shouto can’t just let this dig at him. He has to help her, some way, somehow.
“If you could get some feminine clothing, you would, right?”
“Of course.” Midoriya sighs, face falling.
“Do you want to go get some?”
“Eh, I don’t think I could just waltz into the women’s section,” Midoriya says, half laughing. “I’d probably die from all the stranger’s weird looks.”
“What about online shopping?”
She sighs. “I don’t have my own credit card. I don’t want to ask my mom, while I think she’ll be supportive, I’m not exactly ready to tell her about all of this.”
Shouto’s hand moves to his pocket, and he sees Midoriya’s eyes curiously tracking it. He pulls out a small, simple wallet. It only has a couple of bills, library card and student id, and a credit card.
Not his credit card mind you.
Her hands shoot up and eyes become saucers. “No no no, I couldn’t use your money- I-!”
Shouto pulls the card out to her, and puts his finger under the name it’s made out to. He sees confusion, recognition, and shock flash across her face in quick succession.
“No, Todoroki-kun! You’ll get in trouble!”
“I’ve used it before,” Shouto shrugs.
“But not for something like this!”
“Just a second.”
Shouto pulls out his phone, and goes to his pictures and videos. He scrolls through, until he finds the right one. He holds it out to Midoriya, and lets her watch.
It’s a screen recording, where he goes on Amazon and shows his shopping list, a long line of All Might products totalling out to 37,897 yen. He sees Midoriya’s eyes bug out at the total, even more when the buy button is clicked. He smirks as she starts to stammer.
“They’re coming some time next week. I was planning to give some of it to you, if you want.”
“Of- of course! But, he didn’t notice?”
“His pockets are so deep, that’s like giving a nickle to a homeless person. I can buy you some stuff, he won’t notice.”
The tears have started up again at this point, and Shouto shoves down the gut feeling because by now he knows that sometimes Midoriya cries tears of joy. He wipes away some of the salty water, and her face falls into his hand. She closes her eyes and smiles, red also comes to her cheeks. They sit there like that, her head a comfortable, warm weight. But then her eyes snap open, and she whips her head away.
“I’m, I’m sorry, I don’t know what I just did there…” she rubs sheepishly at the back of her head.
“No, it’s fine.”
Midoriya gulps. He gazes as silence falls, and once she notices, her cheeks flush redder. Slowly she reaches out to hold his hand, and he raises its temperature just a bit. She sighs contentedly, eyes closing once again. But they open soon enough, along with her mouth. Granted it does sit there open for a few seconds as the gears of her head turn, but sounds come out eventually.
“Todoroki-kun, you’re amazing.”
His breath catches in his throat. Time slows down, and he catches every little subtlety of her voice as she continues. The flowery pitch and tone, how she’s talking a little higher than usual, how it’s muffled though by her downcast face. He’s enamored, as fantasies pop into his head about what she’ll say next, even if he doubts them.
“I… I was so scared. So reveal all of this stuff to you, and well… you make me feel like I’m ok. You made it ok for me to feel this way.” She takes a deep breath. “And I wanted to look nice and feel good today cause I kind of had a plan… and now I’m throwing all that out the window.”
Midoriya’s almost more red than green now. He thinks he might look the same. His breath doesn’t come, until Midoriya speaks and her sentence is done.
“Todoroki-kun… I like you, and- and will you be my boyfriend?!”
Her hand is squeezing his so tightly it hurts, but he can’t care less. Through all the thoughts and emotions running through his head, he finds some sort of clarity. And that thread pulls on his other hand, bringing it to his left and Midoriya’s. He heats up his left to compensate for the hold from his other hand, and grasps Midoriya’s with both. He looks up and sees a nervous, optimistic smile. He nods, and has an odd feeling. A smile of his own, one he didn’t have to prompt onto his face.
“Thank you. But I think you’re better.” He rubs circles into Midoriya’s hand. “You’ve done so much for me, all I did was show the same kindness. Of course.”
“Of course I’ll be your boyfriend.”
The smile that he thought would never be directed to him, always to someone better, blooms on her face. The happy tears come back, making her eyes glisten. As they fall they paint her face like a watercolor picture. She’s more beautiful than ever.
As she leans forward his arms shoot out to catch her. She falls into his arms, onto his chest, and he lays in the sand to let her curl up around him. She buries her head in his neck in a way that her curls reach up and tickle his chin; now he can tell that the pine scent that always seems to follow her is from her shampoo.
With arms wrapped firmly around, he can feel the movement of her chest as she breaths, for a second he ponders the idea of what it’d be like for there to be something more there in between them. It makes him feel like a pervert, but with no other thoughts than I bet she’d like that better he doesn’t think he’s much of one. Plus, if she ever wants to go that route, then those feelings would be justified if he ever had them.
It all feels so surreal. Like at any moment she’s gonna break away, or he’s gonna wake up. But as she grips him tighter, it doesn’t stop, and it’s not gonna anytime soon. Even as the tides lap up, and he notices the sun has taken a dip from how he remembered it last being, and their shadows face a different way.
He didn’t realize he could feel this way. That there was still someone who could make the sun shine again. He thought he lost it forever when his mother got locked away. But here is is right now.
“You’re so warm,” Midoriya mumbles, softly, sleepily. He laughs.
His right side is getting a bit wet as the occasional wave comes up far enough, but he doesn’t care when Midoriya is on his left, sheltered from the waves with access to the heat.
Why’d he ever hate that side?
Oh, right, it’s because his father would never think to use his power this way. But Shouto’s not his father. Midoriya herself told him this is his to use. And if he wants to, if and when Midoriya needs it, he’ll be a fireplace, not a forest fire.
The waves roll and rumble, a calming sound to distract him from how everything else is way too much. The sun shines bright, akin to a hot day in July instead of a mid February day. The blue sky fades into the shining sea, a blurry line that’s almost non-existent. In the distance he can see the mountains of the next island over.
It’s stunning and beautiful.
But not as stunning and beautiful as the girl in his arms.