It starts —like all ideas that inevitably lead to one’s downfall do— akin to something like this: Midoriya Izuku. Midoriya Izuku and a biomed textbook moving closer and closer to his face before Todoroki realises Deku’s falling.
“I think I’m dying.” Midoriya says, to no one in particular —at this stage it's practically guaranteed that finals week is synonymous with hell, the revelation isn't anything especially noteworthy. There isn’t even anyone in the room to say it to save for the empty shell of Todoroki, grunting to show he’s listening while finishing off another question and trying not to worry too much about how all the letters seem to be blurring together. There’s a brochure in Midoriya’s left hand and an empty coffee cup in the other, and Shouto watches him as he picks the polystyrene container up, sips it, blinks once, twice; all before realising there’s nothing in there. Truly amazing.
“Hey,” Todoroki says, to no avail. “Midoriya… Izuku…” Nothing. "Deku.” Deku looks up. Unbelievable. “What’s going on?” It’s clearly not just the finals that’ve got him like this, all spaced-out and deep in thought. Sure, his eyes have bags underneath them, and his hair is sticking up in ways that defy gravity but… no more so than usual; it seems like a different kind of stress to normal. Midoriya is good at hiding things that he doesn’t want other people to notice when he really needs to; and the fact that Todoroki has noticed only makes him all the more suspicious.
“Well…” Deku starts, tracing the rim of his empty cup. He scratches the top of his bad hand.
“What?” Shouto asks, eyes narrowing with a mix of worry and skepticism.
“A friend has got his parents’ beach house for the summer break after finals and…” Midoriya chews on the words in his mouth, rolls them around on his tongue. “… He invited me."
“And you’re not going?” Todoroki asks, no longer worried but confused. Even the word beach --which automatically ties into relaxation-- makes his body feel fuzzy. The part of him that’s depraved --which is just about all of him-- lets his mouth water a little, but only kind of.
Midoriya winces. “I want to go but...” At least he’s still human enough to consider what appears to be the all-paid vacation of anyone's dreams --although it seems finals have left him not human enough to accept immediately. He taps his fingers against the desk in thought. “It’s kind of… awkward--" Todoroki frowns, Midoriya continues without having noticed a thing. “--’Cause he’s dating my ex.”
Shouto’s wordless for approximately half a second before frowning further. “So you’re not going to go because…” He looks for the correct word. “You're... single..." He finishes lamely.
“That’s not it,” Midoriya explains hurriedly, nearly falling off his chair in a rush clear the misunderstanding. “It’s just a bit awkward between us, that’s all. I think they feel guilty about me being single and them..." He swallows. “Not so single.”
Todoroki bites his cheek. “Why not get someone to go with you?” He offers. “Even it out. Pretend to be taken or--” The words are out of his mouth before he’s even registered them and Midoriya just stops; his fingers against the tabletop stilling.
Todoroki looks at him. Deku looks back.
Midoriya smiles a big, sheepish grin.
Shouto had come up with reasons to turn Deku down --he swears-- he’d even counted how many he'd come up with, but eventually he'd hit the double digits and ran out of fingers to count on.
But it’s not as if Midoriya had pushed him or anything; Todoroki would be lying if he said he hadn’t thought Midoriya had worked hard this last semester, pressing himself further than he should be able to go --who is Todoroki to deny him his rest? Besides, neither of them are exactly rolling around in money --what with being students and all, regardless of Enji’s existence-- they don’t really have the funds to do these sorts of things.
(So what if all it takes is a quick google search and a few pictures of some sandy beaches and a blue sky before Shouto and Midoriya consider selling questionable body parts on the black market just to go somewhere that has fresh air and doesn't smell like the stench of rotting dreams; it doesn’t necessarily mean being someone’s fake boyfriend makes it worth it.)
(Looking at it now, though, the pros really are beginning to outweigh the cons.)
“ So…” Midoriya starts, fingers tapping against his thighs --it’s never been this awkward between them. It’s as if every day they’d spent together, every moment of acquaintances to friends has just been for nothing, and Todoroki’s never wanted to physically punch the static of silence so much. (He also wants to shove his forehead into the car horn to blur out the sound of his embarrassment, but that’s another story entirely.)
“So.” Todoroki agrees, straightening his shoulders out so he doesn’t look as awkward and out-of-place as he feels. It gives him a very sharp sense of deja vu. “Uraraka, right?” Deku nods. Todoroki’s never officially met Midoriya’s high school friends, although he knows them by mention, but he remembers seeing them with Deku in public once or twice, but only just. An… interesting bunch --not that Todoroki’s circle of friends is any better though, considering it’s about two people.
Midoriya bites his lip, his face warping into an unreadable thing, eyes focused on the road. It’s so impossible to tell what he’s thinking, Shouto’s almost too afraid to ask.
“Nothing,” And oh, oh no, that’s a smile. He’s smiling. Todoroki would recognise that look with his eyes closed. “This is just really… It’s funny.”
Todoroki smiles minutely despite himself. “It is.”
“But worth it.”
Todoroki thinks on this for a moment, looking at Midoriya from the corner of his eye. “Definitely.” He agrees. Deku smiles, and it’s relieving, because with this, somehow, their relationship is no longer regressing but is instead back to some semblance of normalcy, and the stupidity of the whole thing catches Shouto off-guard. As long as they both acknowledge the ridiculousness of their situation, it should be fine -- they would be fine.
(The relief he feels at Midoriya’s smile catches him off-guard too, but that’s something to examine later.)
The silence that wedges between them is comfortable now, at least, settles softly like dust through cracks of sunlight. Midoriya starts laughing, and before he can catch himself, Todoroki starts laughing too, and for the first time all day, all week, all month, maybe, just maybe, he finds himself able to look a little forward to this. To all of it.
“We should establish some ground rules.” Midoriya says assertively, after telling Todoroki to make a left turn and the giggling dying down.
“Ground rules?" Shouto asks.
Sheepish is an awful look on Midoriya. Well, every look on Midoriya is awful since it still looks good regardless, but. “Well, we’re supposed to be dating right? We can’t just act like friends.”
If Midoriya is looking for a reaction, Todoroki doesn’t give one. “Okay.” He prompts, waiting for Deku to continue.
“We should preferably keep it PG,” He mumbles, more to himself than Todoroki.
Deku continues without having heard a thing, “No aggressive PDA, that’s unlike you anyway, hand-holding if in an emergency..."
A beat of silence, then another. “What about kissing?"
“Kissing?” Midoriya’s cheeks tinge red. “Why would we ever need to do that?” In front of other people, Shouto wants him to say but he doesn’t. Todoroki shrugs.
“I--” Midoriya stumbles. “I don’t think it’ll ever get to that.”
It wasn’t a no.
Fortunately, the tyres scratch along gravel as Midoriya directs them up a pathway clearing in the forest, ending their train of conversation --and Todoroki’s thoughts for that matter-- before they could crash and burn.
Regardless, Shouto has to rub his eyes to make sure he’s seeing the real thing, because it can’t be —real, that is. Isn’t there a legal limit on how many floors a house can have? Not to mention rooms. The whole thing seems like a giant shard of glass, naked spots painted in a shade of white that just reeks of money, with a beach on the right and a forest to the left; Todoroki’s family is wealthy, but they've never been one to be so… Extravagant.
“Huh.” Eloquence never has particularly been his forte.
Midoriya’s jaw is wide open, so Shouto bumps their shoulders together to stop him from swallowing bugs. It snaps shut.
“It’ll be fine.” Todoroki says. Deku nods --more for Shouto than for himself, he suspects, but leaves it be.
They pull their bags from the trunk with such subdued eagerness and nervousness they’d put a freshman on their first day of school to shame; Midoriya only looks at him for a few too many seconds too long before Todoroki manages to turn his discomfort into words.
"Nothing," Midoriya shakes his head, looking towards the house, taking in a deep breath of sweet air. "Ready?”
As I’ll ever be, Shouto thinks, steeling himself, but saying nothing. He can’t quite place the well of emotions that pool in his gut, but he’s not sure all of them are particularly good ones.
"So it's true then," Uraraka starts, barging into Todoroki’s --ahem, their-- room that she had directed them up to, all before either of them had even gotten their suitcases down. "Izuku finally managed to get over himself and--"
"Nice to see you too, Ochako." Midoriya says, with a smile that screams please shut up. Shouto’s almost proud of him for that.
“I’m glad you could make it.” She says, teasing tone having dissipated after squeezing Midoriya in such a tight hug Todoroki was worried he’d suffocate.
“Me too.” He replies. It’s quiet enough to not be meant for anyone but Uraraka, yet Shouto still hears it.
“And you must be Todoroki,” She says, smiling. She forks out her hand, which he accepts half-awkwardly. “It’s nice to finally meet you.”
“You too.” He says, stumbling over his words a little bit too much for comfort. Midoriya is smiling at the exchange encouragingly, but Shouto doesn’t miss the little crease of worry forming in his forehead --at being found out, presumably.
“The others are arriving at six.” Uraraka says, tucking a lock of hair behind her ear. “Try not to be too affectionate or Kaminari won’t stop complaining.” She prods Midoriya in the side and he flinches at the gesture. He thanks her, but as she turns to leave, she stops, hand freezing by the frame. Uraraka smiles for a split second and it’s... it’s so happy, the sort of happy-for-you happy that Todoroki realises there’s a chunk of detail about this situation he’s going to need if he wants to be able to thread all the hidden meanings together.
“That wasn’t awkward.” Shouto says, trying to prod at the little holes Uraraka had uncovered. Todoroki trusts Midoriya --always-- but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve a few answers --if he’s comfortable enough to give them. He knows that his reasons for being here aren’t petty ones --Deku would never, could never-- but he still regrets not having asked a little bit earlier.
Midoriya digs his thumb into the palm of his bad hand subconsciously, as if searching for shards of glass stuck beneath the skin. “Only because you’re here.” He says, still staring at the door as if he could still see Uraraka closing it behind her. The words shouldn’t be causing Todoroki to feel so… warm, but they do.
“Which friend is she dating?” Shouto asks, if only to change topics. “You haven’t mentioned it.” On purpose, he guesses, gathering by the sheepish look on Deku’s face. Midoriya swallows behind it, the silence thick enough that the sound seems to echo around the room.
“Tenya.” He says slowly, as if pulling a rubber band outwards to see how far it takes until it snaps.
Todoroki freezes, blinking. He knows Deku can hear the gears in his head clicking together. “As in..." He says slowly. "...Your other ex…?”
Midoriya nods. “Yeah.”
Deku pauses. “...Yeah.”
“I can imagine that could be…” Todoroki searches for the word. “Awkward.”
“That’s a um. Understatement.” Midoriya looks like he wants to melt into the floor.
“Why didn’t you all… date… each other…” Shouto tries, the conversation slowing down to a snail’s pace. He doesn’t want to be intrusive but, if he wants to survive the rest of the week without seeming like a fraud, he might as well gauge as much of the situation as possible. (The problems that could’ve been solved by good old fashioned polyamory, honestly.)
“It’s um. Complicated?” Midoriya says. Todoroki expects him to leave it at that, but he continues. “I mean, Ochako and I had already um. Broken up. So...” He swallows. “Tenya was... Not as long of a relationship.” Todoroki looks at him, encouraging him to continue. “And it’s not like they got together as soon as that was over too!” Midoriya blurts. “They didn’t start until a few years after it all, and we had all remained on good terms but as soon as they were official it got… weird.” He sits onto the bed, looking at anywhere but Shouto. “I was fine about it, really, I was happy for them but they felt, I don’t know, guilty? I guess?” He frowns. “I couldn’t stand it, I didn’t want them to hold themselves back because of me.”
Todoroki honestly doesn’t know how to react to that.
His silence must be telling though, since Midoriya seems unnerved. “I’m sorry.” He blurts, drumming his fingertips over his knees nervously from where he sits on the edge of the bed. “I shouldn’t have brought you into this. I’m not trying to make them jealous or anything, I just wanted us to be friends again and I know they wanted to spend time with me but maybe they thought I was left out or--”
“It’s fine,” Todoroki manages before Midoriya can apologise for any longer. “Thank you for telling me.”
Midoriya looks at him.
Todoroki looks back.
“We should head down soon.” Shouto says, turning his head away before Midoriya sees more than he needs to. It’s so typical Deku to put other’s needs before his own that it makes Shouto’s stomach twist at the uncomfortable familiarity of it all, and he doesn’t want Midoriya to see it plain in his face. He reaches for his duffel bag to claim a bed, all before realising that there’s only one to begin with.
“I’ll take the floor.” Midoriya prompts after seeing whatever look must’ve passed over Shouto’s face. Something agonising, he imagines, but for different reasons than one would expect.
“You’re injured,” Shouto blurts, although it’s not really what he wants to say, not at all, but Midoriya just smiles softly at him.
“I’m always injured.”
“That’s not the point.” Todoroki says, even though it kind of had been. “The floor isn’t that bad, I’ll be fine.”
“I made you come down here in the first place.” Midoriya wrings his hands together. He swallows. A little hesitantly, he jokes, “Besides, what kind of boyfriend do you take me for?”
Todoroki says nothing, if only to let the word boyfriend seep into the air as the full weight of it hits him in the chest, disgustingly light and, for some reason, hopeful . “A fake one?” He finally says, when it becomes too much.
Midoriya laughs, it’s as weightless as the tinny sound of Shouto’s heartbeat echoing in his ear. “We can share it,” He conciles. “There’s enough room for both of us and this way we both win.” Midoriya’s smile is a little hesitant, a little shaky, but it’s there nonetheless.
“Okay.” Todoroki finally gives in. He has the distinct feeling that sleeping next to Midoriya for the next five nights probably isn’t exactly categorised as a win --not for him, at least-- but the thought dissipates before he can think on it too much.
The rest of the guests arrive around six, just as Uraraka had said, one of them animatedly going off about how they’d nearly driven into a ditch thanks to someone else’s awful direction giving. Todoroki doesn’t recognise their names or faces, but they greet Midoriya as if he’s the missing puzzle piece to their rag-tag team with friendly back-slaps and warm smiles.
“This is Todoroki.” Deku explains to the group once they’re done hugging him --save for a few who hang back from the rest-- swallowing. “My boyfriend.”
There’s a collection of oh’s and aw’s and ugh’s from the multitude of the group. Kaminari and Kirishima congratulate them, Jirou makes a quiet, lewd remark, while Tokoyami and Asui express mild pleasantries. But Bakugou --Shouto thinks that’s his name, anyway; the pointed fingers and introductions Midoriya had given had been very brief-- doesn’t say anything, merely regards to two of them coolly before Kirishima nudges him in the side and he blabbers out a muttered ‘hey’. Todoroki nods to him in response.
“Momo’s here.” Jirou begins, thinning the tension that had arisen in the air and pocketing her phone. “I’ll help her bring the food in.”
Momo is a common name, as far as Todoroki knows, so he hadn’t thought it would be the Yaoyorozu Momo. She nearly drops the plastic bags in her hand when she sees him, and after setting the take-away down, hugs him. His hands slowly come to rest on the small of her back once he’s done being startled, and he allows himself to enjoy the contact --just a little.
“What are you doing here?” He asks, glad to see a familiar face in an unfamiliar crowd, if only one. Theirs is the sort of friendship that’s long and drawn out, occasional, but enjoyed all the more thoroughly when they haven’t seen each other in a long time. It runs deeper than most people tend to think.
“I’m Jirou’s girlfriend,” Momo says, smiling. Todoroki hadn’t thought it was that Jirou, but he doesn’t let the surprise show on his face. “And Iida goes to the same university as me. What about you?”
“Midoriya invited me down. We’re... uh…” He falters. Something about Momo’s observant look always seems to bring that out of him --he doesn’t think he could lie to her even if he wanted to.
“Together.” She offers, smirking. A little quieter, she adds, “I’m glad you’ve found someone you like.”
“You too.” He says, lamely. His throat feels too tight. Momo gives him a reassuring pat and leads him back to the table where a convenient place has been left right next to Midoriya, so lacking in subtlety they might as well have written Shouto’s name on it. Midoriya smiles at him as if to say sorry, but Todoroki shrugs.
“I didn’t realise you and Yaoyorozu knew each other.” Deku says with a mouthful as he passes a container of fried rice down the table.
“High school.” Shouto says by way of explanation, and Midoriya knows enough to nod but not push it.
The night continues near morning, even when every single plastic container of noodles and rice have been emptied to mere scraps at the bottom. Todoroki doesn’t talk unless someone prompts him to, but there’s enough going on that his absence goes unnoticed. Kirishima is loud and boisterous, with Bakugou quiet but seethingly sour by his side on the end of the table. Jirou takes every opportunity to tease Kaminari, while Momo looks on in fond exasperation, and Deku chats somewhat polite smalltalk with Tokoyami and Asui --Tsuyu, she’d said to call her-- while Uraraka and Iida do the same to Shouto --at least until they realise he’s content enough to just listen to everyone else. It’s not spectacular by any means, but it’s warm, it’s familiar, and Todoroki feels relaxed already merely absorbing the atmosphere, the ragged cuts of cloth that have been stitched together at the Iida family’s beach house.
“By the way,” Jirou says at one stage, cutting across the dining table. “I thought your family was frugal, how’d you score a house like this?”
Iida, slightly flustered, pushes his glasses up the bridge of his nose. “They uh. Ahem. Are.” He replies. “My mother, however, comes from outside the family.”
Jirou smirks a little at that, while Uraraka pats Iida’s back to calm his embarrassment. Jirou mutters, “Whipped.” Beneath her breath, but Shouto’s not sure if that’s at Iida’s father or Iida.
Eventually, one by one, people begin filtering off after cleaning-up, expressing their exhaustion and excitement for the following days. Midoriya and Todoroki spend far too long staring at the bed, mentally willing the other to pick a side.
“You weren’t uncomfortable then, were you?” Midoriya near-whispers after Todoroki falls onto the left side of the bed and turns out the lights, staring at the shape shadowed shape of Deku.
“No.” Todoroki replies, shaking his head. It makes the pillows rustle. “Your friends are… Nice.”
Deku makes a strangled noise between a hum and a yawn --which Todoroki assumes is in agreement-- before quietly dozing off to sleep, lying face-to-face with Shouto.
For some reason that he can’t place, sleep doesn’t come easy to Todoroki, alight with contagious excitement for the following days. Instead of thinking about it too hard however, Shouto just enjoys the quiet, and accidentally commits himself to learning the shape Midoriya’s face makes in the darkness.