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Soulmates were meant to be your better half. A piece of you that would complete you. Make you whole.

Mashirao had heard that as often as anyone else growing up. He had bought into it too. He wanted to. Wanted a soulmate, a partner to work with him who he could love and be happy with.

What he got, however, left him feeling fractured at first.

Some people had their soulmates words scrawled across their skin, others knew from touch alone. He'd seen the colors bloom across Uraraka's wrist when Ashido had grabbed it absently in class, had seen kanji peaking out beneath the collar of Kaminari's blazer one day after training.

Even Mineta had a soulmate somewhere out there, as proven by one of his eyes being significantly lighter than the other.

Mashirao knew who his mate was when they'd locked eyes though. After he'd broken the trance, and everyone was announcing things, he'd been in a daze, but he'd caught Shinsho Hitoshi's eyes, and felt it strike down through to his very bones, something deep inside him that marked the other teen as his soulmate.

And then he felt betrayed.

He'd been used. A pawn in the other boy's scheme to get noticed. The feeling lingered when he gave Midoriya the key to avoiding the lilac haired boy's quirk, and again as Midoriya got snared, and then broke free.

He didn't seek Shinsho out after the event. There was a lot going on, after all, with the summer camp coming up and whatever the fuck had happened at the mall.

The night they were moving into the dorms though, Shinsho showed up on class 1-A's building's doorstep. He looked tired, and stressed.

Mashirao tried to ignore the stress he felt over the other teen's haphazard appearance. The bags under his eyes, the way his skin looked somehow even paler.

Everyone thought he was there to see Midoriya. In fact, Mashirao wouldn't have been surprised- Midoriya drew people in like honey. But when Yaomomo answered the door, it wasn't Midoriya she'd called out for.

Instead, her pretty dark eyes had skimmed over everyone stretched out on the couches, and locked onto Mashirao. One elegant eyebrow was arched, and an unsure smile twitched at her lips, "It's for you, Ojiro-san."

Everyone went quiet for a moment, as he got up and stared at the open doorway. Midoriya was the first to give him a pat on the shoulder, and a soft, "If you need us, we're all here."

He left his classmates sitting together, going back to their debates about who's bedroom was the best, and Yaomomo left him at the door with only a few quick glances before she was returning to the others.

Not wanting to be entirely alone with Shinsho, but not wanting to deal with eavesdroppers, he stepped out onto the front step and left the door just a little open. Just a quick push and it would fall open for him. He pressed his lips into a tight line and narrowed his eyes, speaking first so as not to be drawn in, "What do you want, Shinsho?"

The tone came out harsh, maybe harsher than he'd intended. He had to take a second, upon seeing Shinsho flinch, to remind himself that there had been a lot going on at the festival and if Midoriya could forgive Shinsho, he should technically strive to do the same. It was harder to put into action, though, as he stood in front of his soulmate, a piece of who he was, and all he could think of was the haze falling over his mind as soon as he'd spoken to the smug looking boy back in the arena.

Shinsho rubbed at the back of his neck, and licked his lips, looking down for a moment. He shoved his hands into his pockets, and shifted his weight, shoulders pulling down as he closed into himself. Somehow the image hurt nearly as much as the ache in Mashirao's chest did.

"I wanted to talk, about what happened between us. Given, ya know, who we are."

Mashirao's lips parted as if to respond, words on the very tip of his tongue. But he snapped his jaw shut, instinct telling him to be wary. Don't be stupid and don't lose the upper hand. Not yet, not until he was sure.

Shinsho glanced at him, then gave a slow, sad nod. He pulled a card from out of his pocket, and held it out for Mashirao to take, "My cell. I can't do anything if you don't speak to me verbally."

The words sounded bitter as they spilled from Shinsho's lips, and settled over Mashirao's skin like poison. With guilt making his chest tight, and air locked in his lungs, Mashirao took the card, stared at it for a long time before he pulled his phone out and typed it in. He didn't make a contact list yet, just sent a quick text.

Even just sending the text made him feel worse, but knowing that written word wouldn't be able to give Shinsho the ability to do anything eased the anxiety that pulled at him.

You:

Why now? You could have found me earlier.

Shinsho had pulled his own phone out while Mashirao texted, and he read over the words quickly before looking back up at Mashirao, lavender eyes somehow guarded as they tried to read Mashirao. “You could have come found me too, ya know.”

There was no need to text back to that, or even think about a verbal response. All it took was an arched brow and crossing his arms around his chest to get his meaning through. The attitude drew a chuckle out of Shinsho- a low husky sound that Mashirao knew he could get used to hearing when they were on better terms.

“Fair.” Shinsho nodded, and after a moment gave a long sigh. He looked Mashirao up and down, left the blond feeling slightly on display, before continuing to speak, “First, I suppose. I'm not sorry for what I did.”

Mashirao felt every muscle in his body tense. His tail had swayed behind him before, twitched with his anxiety, and now it was still, partially coiled behind him, as if ready to strike out at the other teen.

“I did what I thought I needed to to get through. As someone in the hero course, I'd hope you would understand how competitive it is.” Shinsho spoke with the same bitterness that had bled into his fight with Midoriya for all of Japan to witness. His hands balled into tight fists at his sides, and his gaze had dropped down to his sneakers. “I plan to be a hero, but I have long way to go with... this.”

He motioned to his throat, and Mashirao was painfully aware of what he meant.

Villain had been what his mind had originally tied to the General Education student before they'd locked eyes. That quirk could be used for a lot of really horrible things. Mashirao had felt it first hand. It could be used for a lot of good too. He was loathe to admit it, but working with someone like Midoriya had taught him that being versatile was important. Being someone with a strictly physical and not at all flashy quirk himself had taught him how hard it could be to get by in just the Entrance Exams of U.A. with a quirk that wasn't openly destructive in some way.

It wasn't easy.

“I hadn't realized you were my.. soulmate,” Shinsho tasted the word, seeming unsure of it, maybe not yet comfortable with the intimacy of what that word meant, “If I had... I. I don't know. I probably would have still done it. But I would have... tried, just asking, first.”

Would have still done it.

Mashirao could have easily let himself get pissed at that. The idea that the guy before him, his soulmate would have willingly used him like that to meet the end of goal. Not exactly heroic.

But also, he couldn't tear his eyes away from the whiteness spreading over Shinsho's knuckles, or the way he'd steeled himself. He was waiting for something. Maybe to get yelled at. Maybe to get hit. Mashirao didn't know, he didn't know the teen before him well enough to predict him or know what he might be expecting.

He wanted to though.

Beneath the rage, the hurt, the distrust. He still wanted to at least try with Shinso. He had to give him a chance at the very least. A chance to do better, be better.

He went to unlock his phone so he could send another message, then stopped, staring at the lockscreen for a long moment, before he tucked it away into his pocket.

“Just ask me.” Mashirao told him, upfront, unflinching. He didn't shy away when Shinsho looked up at him, surprise written all over those pretty lilac eyes. “I get it. It's hard working with a quirk that's not... great.”

Behind him, Mashirao's tail relaxed, then it curled around his front. As if to shield him. “If you wanna be a hero, whatever. But this... whatever this is, whatever we're gonna be... Just ask, yeah?”

For a moment, Shinsho's expression was almost neutral. He licked over his lips, and after what felt like ages of silence between them, nodded, “Yeah. 'Course. I wouldn't do it again without permission. Promise.”

There was something almost practiced in the way he said that promise, but Mashirao would take it and hold him to it. At least for now.

“Good.” The blond shifted his weight, tail swooshing to sway at his feet instead, and reached out to hold his hand to Shinsho, “It's a start, at least.”

Hesitantly, Shinsho took the offered hand. His hand was bigger than Mashirao's, just a bit, but it was also softer. He'd known just from watching the other teen fight against Midoriya that he had no combat training. He didn't know how to fight, not like Mashirao did, not like class 1-A had been learning to do.

Mashirao gave Shinsho's hand a squeeze, “We should meet up then... figure this out.”

“Yeah... Lunch? Or?” Shinsho's tone had changed, he had his lips quirked up in the slightest of... smirks? Grin? Mashirao wasn't sure, but it was a bit awkward, a little unsure, like Shinsho wasn't certain what he was supposed to feel.

“Lunch.” Mashirao agreed, “Tomorrow?”

“Okay.” Shinsho took a step back, retracting his hand and taking with it a bit of warmth that something in Mashirao immediately missed. “Text me.”

“I will.”

And like that, Shinsho turned around, hands in his pockets, and back straight, leaving the building and heading off towards the dorms for General Studies. Mashirao stood at the door, watching him go until he was lost in the dim light of the lamp posts. Only when he couldn't make out the lavender of his soulmate's hair anymore, or the grey of his blazer, did Mashirao pull his phone back out.

He stared at the open message, and added Shinsho to his contacts.

Shinsho Hitoshi

He stared down at the details to fill out for it. All he had was a phone number, and when he pulled out the card Shinsho had given him, that was all there was as well. His name scrawled out in Kanji, his phone number beneath it clearly.

For a second he contemplated leaving it without anything else. Just a name and number tucked into the contacts on his phone, to be lost among family, classmates and the few old friends he'd stayed in contact with from Middle school.

Then he thought of lilac eyes, of white knuckled fists and the bitter twist to Shinsho's voice when he talked about what he'd done. The conflicting emotions of betrayal and uncertainty and the promise that Mashirao wanted to put faith in so badly.

And set Shinsho's contact info to the family category, and tucked his phone away, so he could go inside without risk of getting bombarded by the classmates he could still hear talking even through the door.