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(I Don’t) Wanna Love You

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For all his positivity, and for all his persistence, Midoriya Izuku could not remember a time where he hadn’t felt the tight curl of anxiety, twisted up somewhere in his throat and buzzing throughout his entire body. To him, not having a Quirk meant having no future as a hero—which meant an end to his grand imaginings of being as respectable, as powerful, as confident as All Might. To him, not having a Quirk meant not reaching his goal of being a hero… and unwillingly forgoing the possibility of never, ever having a soulmate in his life for as long as he lived.

It’s not so bad, his mother would say tearfully. You can make yourself happy, just the way you are. You are a perfect boy, Izuku. My perfect boy. But I—I’m so sorry. I’m so, so sorry…

It was often hard to tell whether she was talking about his lack of a Quirk, or his lack of a soulmate. (Though Midoriya, often suspected she was talking about both.)

Still, even if Midoriya hadn’t felt the need to constantly remind himself of what he lacked, the world around him did the job well enough by itself. Heroes, leaping from building to building in pursuit of villains, soulmate pairs dashing side by side, working so closely together and in sync that it was almost as if they could read each other’s minds. The first time Midoriya had seen two partners fight, so obviously tied together by their connection and the intensity of their Quirks, he’d been consumed with dreams of handling an amplified version of either of his parent’s Quirks, alongside a faceless partner.

The dreams were often filled with himself and a stranger, sometimes imagining it to be a classmate, or a pretty looking girl he’d seen on the train the day before. Even as he daydreamed of becoming as great of a hero as All Might, Midoriya couldn’t help but imagine someone else with him, sharing that power too.

So the (quite literal) explosive arrival of Todoroki was, like most happenings in his young student life so far, rather bittersweet.

At least, at first it was. Midoriya wouldn’t doubt that having a soulmate had never been the first thing on Todoroki’s agenda (after all, the himself boy had told Midoriya that it was the exact opposite of everything he had wanted), but the time following their initial connection had been… nice. Very nice.

Warm and cold hands in Midoriya’s own—admittedly clammy—palms, and pretty ice sculptures shining underneath the sun on school grounds. Lunch with friends… abrupt and shy kisses on a bench. It had all been peaceful, and sweet, and everything Midoriya had longed for despite the initial issues and chaos. He’d been happier than ever, and he had liked to think that it had been the same for Todoroki, as well.

In fact, where was Todoroki?

His head felt thick and foggy, weighing down on his neck as if it had been glued to the cement beneath him.

And also—why was he lying on cement?

Sound came back to Midoriya in short, fuzzy bursts of sharp pain, making his ears ring. Trying to open one eye ended up like trying to fight to lift a dumbbell off his eyelid. Midoriya gave up, squeezing his eyes shut as the cacophony of sounds grew louder, and his sense of smell finally returned to his nose. Smoke, sweat, and… something metallic. Midoriya groaned, and heard it echoed by someone next to him. Todoroki?

This time, Midoriya managed to blink both eyes open, already watering from the sting of dust and the harsh glare of a lamppost near him. The rest of his surroundings were still shrouded in shadow, however. When he made out a flash of red, his heart skipped in both fear and exhilaration—before dropping, and leaving a hollow ring of fear in his chest.

Kirishima was laid splayed out next to him, face furrowed in a grimace of pain, but save for a few scorch marks, otherwise uninjured. A quick glance around revealed that they were in an alleyway. Midoriya’s eyes widened when his eyes met Bakugou’s, the latter leaning against a building. He looked horrible—but according to what Midoriya was feeling like, he was sure that he probably looked just the same as Bakugou. At least the other boy still had enough energy to look as pissed as ever.

But when Midoriya moved to call out his name, he found that his mouth wouldn’t follow his wishes. He clenched his jaw, working the muscles, but to no avail. If he was scared before, Midoriya was far more terrified now.

“Looks like I overdid it.”

Midoriya’s eyes flicked up wildly, seeking out the source of the sound. Even as his eyes found Stain, the memories of what had happened moments—hours?—earlier came rushing back. Midoriya found himself involuntarily choking back a gasp of pain, a sound impossible to make as his muscles refused to work with him.

Stain sneered wordlessly at him as he flung himself down from atop a dumpster, the tips of his swords striking the cement with a jarring noise. “Oh no,” he said mockingly, his cruel looking grin twisting into a parody of sympathy. “Are you okay? The young are so fragile. You shouldn’t be heroes. It’s too dangerous.” Stain’s lips turned upwards once more, and he struck the ground in front of him with blades covered in red. “TOO. DANGEROUS.

Midoriya fought back a whimper, instead forcing himself to keep his eyes wide and trained on the villain in front of him. Across the alleyway, Bakugou was practically foaming at the mouth, muscles straining violently as he attempted to, most likely, scream obscenities through closed lips.

“Heroes are a danger to themselves and society. It’s unfair. It’s disgusting. And so is this—“ Stain prodded and Kirishima’s prone form with a foot, and Bakugou let out a wordless shriek of fury through gritted teeth. “And so is this,” he continued, flicking the tip of his sword carelessly across Bakugou’s face, drawing blood once again. Midoriya blanched in disgust as he watched Stain bring the sword tip to his mouth. Now Bakugou was completely immobile—save for the furious red staining his face, you would have thought that Bakugou was a statue. A limp, burnt out, broken statue. Midoriya let out another groan.

“Soulmates,” Stain drawled, looking between Kirishima and Bakugou with contempt. “The worst of all the cheats you fake heroes could use. You’re all a joke. A joke.” Midoriya tensed as Stain spat on the ground between Midoriya’s friends. “And you,” he continued, rounding on Midoriya, who felt the urge to both flee and give the villain a solid punch in his teeth at the same time. “You and your soulmate, making headlines. You’re pretty popular aren’t you? I saw the sports festival—ah, did I say that already?” Stain nudged Midoriya’s hand, and the latter flinched, remembering the pain of his bones being crushed under that same boot.

“To…do…”

“Hnuh?” Stain examined his sword, before wiping it clean on the rags he wore. “Oh. Him.” Stain reached behind him, before pulling out Midoriya’s battered cellphone and tossing it onto the ground next to him. The screen was pitch black, dead and long past acting like a beacon for anyone to reach him. As painful as the sight was, Midoriya was grateful if it meant Todoroki would never be able to come here and suffer like this.

But the others… Midoriya fought back the stinging in his eyes as he looked between Kirishima and Bakugou. They were the only two he could see. If his other friends weren’t in the alleyway, then were they…?

“He’ll come.”

Midoriya looked up to see Stain leaning on one of his blades, the tip gouging into the rock hard cement. The villain had shifted almost immediately from manic to bored, teeth still bared and glinting in the shallow light of the nearby lamppost. Finally Midoriya’s lips parted, dry and cracked. “What?”

“The one your connected to. I’m sure he’ll come.”

What should have been reassuring words sent chills down Midoriya’s spine. The words were laced with impatience and bloodlust. Whatever Stain wanted to do to him, he wouldn’t do it until Todoroki had arrived.

“He won’t. You should let my friends go, if all you want is me. All you’re going to have to deal with is me, anyway.”

Stain snorted. “Bullshit. I know how these things work.” Almost immediately, Stain shifted again, going from languid to tense in half a second. His sword made an arc in the air as he twisted on his feet, turning right back to Kirishima and Bakugou. Midoriya let out a cry when Stain’s leg kicks out to punt Bakugou across the alleyway, and Bakugou lands with an angry snarl, slumped over next to Kirishima.

Kirishima’s eyes are open now, and Midoriya’s heart clenched upon realizing that his eyes were glued fearfully to Bakugou’s face, never leaving. The inexplicable fear and anxiety upon making that first contact, and the unrelenting terror from being immediately thrust into something new afterwards… Midoriya was far too familiar with the feeling. His heart ached for Todoroki.

“Want me to tell you part two of my Quirk?” Stain asked, words becoming slurred. He looked almost drunk. “I know this might be a bit too much exposé, but it’s much too fun to keep it a secret!” Stain pressed the tip of his blade against Kirishima’s heart, and both Bakugou and Midoriya tense.

“Stop. Stop.” Midoriya had never felt so furious and afraid, all at the same time. “What are you doing?”

“I could show you?” offered Stain, and faux lilt of innocence in his voice. “Part two comes in handy, especially with my cause. Do you know how surprised I was the first time I killed off soulmates? I was astounded. It was shocking.” Stain’s breath comes out in a gravelly cough. “I played around with them, just to get my message across. And do you know what I found?”

Stain pressed the blade a little closer, and Kirishima let out a low growl of anger, echoed by Bakugou. “I won’t kill you. But I can do even better. If pro heroes insist on continuing this corrupted system of becoming heroes for fame and money, I’ll just kill as many as I can. If pro heroes in partnerships insist on using their unfair soul connections for the same system, I’ll just have to end those connections as well!”

Stain snorted, breaking off suddenly. “But it was supposed to be with you and that boy with the weird double colored hair. I needed to send the world a message. It isn’t common that a connection manifests at an age like yours, and to have it happen on television… well, it’s not the whole world, but quite a number of people know who you two are.”

Explain.” Bakugou expelled the word through gritted teeth, sounding incredibly pained.

Stain looked down at him, blatantly unimpressed.

“You can’t do that,” Midoriya cut in, stricken whisper falling through the smoky air. “Killing heroes… innocent people… you ruined Ingenium’s life! And—and you can’t just kill soulmates!”

“Were you listening to anything I was saying? I won’t kill them.” Stain lifted his sword for a fraction of a second, and Midoriya’s breath caught painfully in his throat. “Sure, I’ve dispatched one half of a pair of soulmates once or twice, but that never has the same impact as what I’d like. Now breaking the connection of a well known, young pair of soulmates? Especially when one of them is the second hero’s son… That might just send the exact message I want.”

Stain’s eyes fixed onto the point where metal touched exactly where Kirishima’s heart lay, and Midoriya could see the latter’s chest rapidly rise and fall in a mixture of fear and fury. Bakugou, for all his immobility, was doing his very best to move, and his fingers popped threateningly with bright but helpless bursts of fire.

“Please.” Midoriya’s voice was a mere whisper, and his muscles strained with effort. “Stop.

Stain’s eyes were bright and feverish, and he smiled maniacally. “You won’t die. You won’t. But this might hurt enough for you to want to.”

Stop! Bakugou shrieked just as Stain lifted the blade high above him, and his cry was overshadowed by the sound of an unearthly scream, followed by the crash of a large body slamming into the brick of the building behind them.

“What—“

Iida snarled, merely a blur as he rocketed straight for Stain, hurtling them both into the recesses of the alleyway. One of Stain’s swords flipped into the air, one of them landing onto the concrete with a clatter. Behind him, an exhausted looking Uraraka gingerly stepped over the limp body of a Nomu, eyes fixed fearfully on Midoriya and the others. And behind her…

Midoriya’s sob caught in his throat, a sound derived from both relief and a new wave of fear. Todoroki was here—eyes and left hand ablaze, his right palm freezing the wall next to him where he’d had to lean against it for support at the sight of Midoriya.

“To… Shouto,” Midoriya said, and it came out in more of a panicked groan. No, he wanted to say, but the urge was washed away when Todoroki joined Uraraka at Midoriya’s side, eyes worriedly looking over his soulmate.

“Can… Can you move?” Todoroki asked, looking over Midoriya’s burnt out form as if it had already given him his answer.

“Almost,” Midoriya croaked, and Uraraka pressed a hand against her mouth so stifle a sob. Todoroki’s brow furrowed, and his mouth twisted almost bemusedly.

“You’ve proved yourself enough,” Todoroki said quietly. “You did your best. It’s enough now.”

Midoriya opened his mouth to protest, only to be cut off by the sound of Iida careening past them, cursing all the while. Near them, Stain wiped at his mouth with a bloody cuff, looking incredibly furious. Todoroki let out a near animalistic snarl, before launching himself at the villain, hands alight. Through the ensuing dust from the repeated crashes, Midoriya saw Uraraka steel herself, pressing a gentle hand against Midoriya before all but stumbling over to the dumpster and placing her palms against it.

Stain only noticed the dumpster as its shadow fell over him, and Todoroki let out a triumphant yell as he slammed his right hand into the ground, encasing Stain’s feet in ice. The villain screeched, his obscenities cut short by the slam of the dumpster against concrete.

Uraraka’s cry of relief was cut short when they saw Stain atop the building, having cut himself free from Todoroki’s trap.

“Uraraka!” Midoriya screamed, watching in horror as Stain made a beeline for his friend, nicking her almost minutely with the edge of his blade. Barely half a second later, Uraraka was on the floor, eyes widened in horror. Todoroki let out another aggravated yell, launching himself forward.

“Behind you!” Iida bellowed, engines alight at max capacity, flinging himself towards the fray once more. Stain scowled at the sight, and darted between both boys to fling himself at his other fallen blade.

Midoriya felt life coming back into his limbs, and he scrambled, slowly but steadily, towards Uraraka, whose breaths were coming out in panicked gasps.

“Tsuyu—“ Midoriya choked out by way of question, “Mineta—“

“Hurt,” Uraraka whispered, seemingly grateful that she could still speak. “Hurt, but safe. They got out of the way. When we lost you three, I thought—“

“We’re fine,” Midoriya said, and repeated it like a prayer. “We’re alright. Especially thanks to you guys.”

Uraraka smiled, before her face fell into a look of horror. “Deku!

Midoriya turned just in time to see a blade shining in his face, before Todoroki appeared in a flash of flame and ice, right hand angrily knocking the blade away. Stain hissed, thwarted, and leaped backwards, right into Iida’s flying kick. The sound he made against brick was sickening, and Midoriya stumbled upwards even as his stomach roiled painfully in both disgust and pain.

Todoroki came over to support his weight, hand still warm against Midoriya’s side.

“Get her out of here,” Todoroki said sharply, eyes finding Uraraka. “And Midoriya too. Come back for the rest of us.”

Iida nodded, shrewd eyes never leaving Stain’s prone form. “We should tie him—“

“He’s not moving,” Todoroki cut in bluntly. Midoriya could feel his heart thumping erratically as he pressed Midoriya’s back to his chest. “First we need to get them out of here.”

“Uraraka, Kirishima, and Kacchan first,” Midoriya said stubbornly, looking over at his friends worriedly. “They still can’t move. Stain drew—and ate—a lot of Kacchan and Kirishima’s blood, especially.”

“Ate—?” Todoroki said, before breaking off. “I… fine. I’ve got Midoriya.” At Iida’s worried look, he waved him off. “Midoriya doesn’t leave my side.”

Iida nodded, before glancing over at Stain, rage overtaking his features. “No,” Todoroki said, placing a palm against Iida’s chest. “You wouldn’t be happy if you did it.”

Iida stared him down, fury roiling in his eyes, and Midoriya placed a palm on his best friend’s arm worriedly. Beside them, Uraraka’s hand trembled as she tried to move, eyes watering as she watched Iida.

With a sigh, Iida broke it off, leaning down to swiftly and gently pick up Uraraka. “Come, we’re leaving as well.”

“I… can… fight,” Bakugou hissed, veins popping. Beside him, Kirishima’s hand inched toward Bakugou, as if desperate for even the slightest of contact. Midoriya watched them closely, empathy strong in his mind.

With a shake of his head, Iida picked up the two soulmates, clumsily but carefully balancing all three of his friends tightly in his arms. “You can barely move. We need to leave—the Nomu are converging on this area. If you can recover before then, we can help the pro heroes fend them off.”

Bakugou let out a weak snarl, before letting his eyes fall shut in angry resignation.

“We’re off,” Iida said shortly, eyes flicking to Stain. “I will alert a pro of Stain’s location. Keep an eye out.” Iida paused to give Midoriya a hesitant look. When the boy shook his head and buried his fingers tighter in Todoroki’s shirt, Iida sighed again, engines already firing up.

“Please be cautious,” was all he said, and they were gone, careening quickly out of the alleyway. Midoriya tensed at the sound of Nomu’s scream as they were spotted, and fervently hoped that they wouldn’t be caught.

“Iida is fast,” Todoroki murmured, bracing Midoriya and leading him over to the lip of the alleyway. “I need you to keep an eye out. If you see an enemy, call out. If you see another hero, call out. I’ll be right here, keeping an eye on Stain.”

Midoriya watched him closely, allowing himself to be settled into a slumped position against the wall. His limbs were beginning to numb, uneven pinpricks of pain still stinging at his flesh and bones. Without another word, Todoroki pressed his forehead to Midoriya’s, before letting his lips land on Midoriya’s temple. With a sigh, he kissed downwards, finally landing one last kiss on the corner of Midoriya’s mouth.

“Don’t ever go off on your own again. Ever,” Todoroki said shortly, the beginnings of a scowl on his face.

“I won’t,” Midoriya said weakly, pressing a hand against the spot sheepishly, despite the pain it caused his arm. He turned his head to the alleyway, eyes attempting to adjust through the gloom. “Todoroki?”

“Yeah.”

“Thank you for coming.”

Behind him, Todoroki’s shoes scuffed gravel as he moved. “You ever think I wouldn’t come when you need help?”

“I just… I almost didn’t want you to,” Midoriya said softly. “What Stain had planned… it was worse than anything I could have imagined. And I’m not even sure what…”

Both boys tensed again at the sound of something crashing in the near distance, close enough to hear, but too far to see through the nighttime gloom. Even the lamppost felt like a beacon, and Midoriya was wary of it.

“I would have come to help no matter what,” Todoroki said, and his tone was so final that it almost made Midoriya laugh.

“Me too.” Midoriya’s vision wavers a little, and he takes the smallest of chances to draw strength from Todoroki’s presence. Their connection hummed—as it had been the minute Todoroki had stepped into the alleyway, Quirk alight with more power than usual.

“You were able to control it this time,” Midoriya murmurs. At Todoroki’s silence, he continues. “I mean… you’ve always been pretty good at handling your Quirk. But I know that your ice powers have always been a challenge. I-I’m really… proud of you. And grateful.” Midoriya turned, a smile on his lips. “So thank you—“

His jaw dropped the same second Todoroki’s body did, his senses coming alight at the sight of Stain standing over Todoroki, sword coming towards his mouth. Midoriya screamed, and the connection between them pulsed violently. In barely a moment later, Midoriya found enough strength to launch himself at Stain, violently knocking the hilt out of Stain’s hand. The blade with Todoroki’s blood on it careened to the back of the alleyway, and Stain was left with a single sword once again.

So close,” Stain drawled, before launching himself backwards as Todoroki’s ice spike rose violently from the cement beneath him.

“Bastard,” Todoroki cursed, unsteadily bringing himself to his feet and pressing a hand against a new cut on his arm. “You’re disgusting.”

“‘So thank you,” Stain sang mockingly, “‘for saving my life, my love! My soulmate!’ Spoke a little too soon, didn’t you? You might as well lose it all in the next few seconds! Hero lesson 101, check and restrain your villain before making googly eyes at your little boyfriend.”

The connection hummed between them, and Todoroki’s flame burned a little more fervently. Midoriya could feel One For All coming to life inside of him, his destroyed arms regaining more than a little of their former strength. The strain was beginning to take a toll on both of them, no doubt—they were young, and already so worn out.

“Leave it to me,” Todoroki hissed. “We got him down before, and we’ll take him out again.”

“We’re a team,” Midoriya retorted, all bluntness refuting any argument that Todoroki could throw his way. “I can do this. I’m not letting you face him alone.”

Todoroki spared him one glance—fond and exasperated—before launching himself at Stain, whose sword was already raised and flashing in the moonlight. Midoriya followed soon after, fists readied. The punch he connected on Stain’s torso was satisfying, and the villain let out a frustrated howl, before bringing down the blade seconds after Midoriya had darted out of the way.

Todoroki drew strength from the connection once more, sending walls of ice at Stain in an attempt to limit his movement, just as he had done to Midoriya right before they had made their second connection on the battle arena.

Stain leaped over the barriers, as agile as ever—but even the prior battle had taken its toll on the villain. With a grunt, he landed on his side. Midoriya closed in on him, hand raised, and Todoroki cried out a warning.

Midoriya caught the flash of steel a mere second before it sliced by him, as he twisted his body enough to avoid the full attack. Still, the sharp sting against his neck was unmistakeable, and Midoriya let out a cry of frustration as Stain leaped to safety, tongue sliding along the sword. His body would no longer listen to him—again. Todoroki snarled, flinging himself at Midoriya’s side and sending a wall of flames between them and Stain. From atop of the building, Stain studied them both.

“Blood,” he said suddenly.

“What?” Todoroki snarled, hands bright with both hot and cold fury. “What the hell are you saying now?”

“Blood. My Quirk deals with blood.” Stain lifted his sword into the night sky, the dim moonlight glinting off its surface, illuminating spots of blood. “While connections are still extensively studied even today, it is undeniable that it stems from a certain part of us… for those who are unfair enough to manifest a connection. Who knows? DNA? Something as fantastical as a feeling from the heart?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Todoroki hissed. “Just get down here so I can kill you.”

“Kill me? You’re kidding.” Stain jerked abruptly, shaking his sword free of residue. “That wouldn’t make you any better than myself. Right?”

“You’re spouting bullshit. Come here and fight!

“I will. Just a sec.” Stain’s eyes gleamed nearly as bright as his sword. “I have to ask you first. Do you not think that your connection is an unfair advantage by far?”

“It’s natural,” Midoriya said suddenly, voice steely. Beside him, Todoroki tensed, carefully angling his body even further between Midoriya and Stain. “There isn’t anything unfair about it.”

“What about those who don’t have any? Who can’t have any?” Stain cocked his head to the side. “What about them?”

Midoriya froze, at a loss for words.

“Could you even understand that pain?”

“I…” Midoriya fell silent, falling just as immobile as the rest of his body. Todoroki looked back at him worriedly. Yes, Midoriya thought weakly. Of course I could imagine it.

“Don’t you ever think of using each other to your advantage? Of utilizing the connection just to empower yourself?”

Todoroki’s flame had gone out to almost nothing, and Midoriya glanced between his soulmate and the villain worriedly, tense with fear and worry. The ice had nearly overtaken Todoroki’s entire right side.

“Because you look like you would just be a hazard, judging from your fighting earlier,” Stain sneered, staring straight at Midoriya. “It wouldn’t surprise me if that soulmate of yours just chose to let you waste away, while utilizing the strength for himself. Aren’t I right, weird-hairstyle-kun?”

In front of him, Todoroki was silent. Midoriya stared at the back of his head, before his eyes flew back to Stain, enraged. “Shut up! You don’t know him! Todoroki would never just use me. He’d never.

Todoroki seemed to finally move at that, just the barest of trembles. “My… my father said…”

“What…?” Midoriya stared at him, taking in the ice slowly encasing the entirety of his shoulder.

“Earlier today, he…”

“You would never,” Midoriya cut in fervently, and their connection hummed between them. His finger twitched, and Midoriya called for more strength. “You would never. We work together, now.”

“You would use him,” Stain drawled, “just like your father would.”

“Shut up!” Todoroki bellowed.

“Distracted!” Stain screeched. In another flash, Stain landed lightly on the concrete next to them both, blade glistening once more after having barely grazed Todoroki’s arm again.

Todoroki fell to the ground next to Midoriya, eyes glued to the latter, seeking out his soulmate. Midoriya—Midoriya had no idea how to feel. Fear. Fear was currently taking precedence over any other feeling, especially as Stain stood over them both, mirroring what had happened to Kirishima and Bakugou only a little while ago.

“Don’t you dare hurt him,” Todoroki croaked. “Don’t touch him.”

Stain had finally fallen silent, examining his blade before lifting it up into the air once again. “Whatever the cause of a soulmate connection, it’s there, and it exists. But that doesn’t mean that it should. The eradication of something so unfair, so deceitful, it yet another one of my goals.” Stain looked down at the both of them shrewdly. “Whatever it is, there’s a reason for everything. And there’s a reason why by ingesting a pair of soulmate’s blood at the same time, I can manifest the connection… and break it.”

Midoriya gasped audibly at the sight and sound of the blade bearing down upon them, and Todoroki yelled out his name. There was a burning sensation at his chest, and almost fearfully, Midoriya looked down, taking in the sight of fresh blood beading from a shallow, but very fine, cut.

“That’s not the part that hurts,” Stain said, sounding almost sympathetic. “Make sure to tell everyone the exact details when the most popular soulmate pair goes up on national television again, okay?”

The air between Midoriya and Todoroki shimmered, and the blade in Stain’s hand seemed to twist in on itself. Their connection burned more harshly than it ever had before, and Midoriya began to whimper. The air seemed to solidify, burning a harsh red into their retinas, convulsing and twisting, and finally forming into a line of shifting red light, pulsing in between the two boys. Todoroki’s eyes shone as he took in the sight, following the line of red to lock eyes with a starstruck Midoriya.

“Such a pretty sight… It never gets old no matter how many times I see it. What do they call it in some stories? The red string of fate?” Stain bounced the hilt of his now gleaming sword, clean of blood, in his hand. “Somehow I doubt my Quirk is an anomaly if it’s already called the “red string”—but I digress.”

The light shifted and twirled in the dying light of the sun, looking ethereal and fragile all at once. It was as Stain said; the soft red of their visible connection was truly a manifestation of their connection as soulmates.

“Don’t,” Todoroki whispered, eyes glued to both Midoriya and the manifestation of their connection. “Don’t do it.”

“Shouto,” Midoriya murmured, and the line between them pulsed once. “Shouto.

“Don’t cut it,” Todoroki repeated, voice beginning to rise into a snarl. “Don’t you dare.”

Midoriya felt One For All coursing through his veins, and his eyes never left the light, dancing in between their hearts. “Shouto.”

“‘Don’t’,” Stain echoed mockingly, teasingly bouncing the sword in the air. “Listen to you.”

Shouto,” Midoriya hissed, attempting to keep his eyes trained on his soulmate through the stinging in his eyes. Todoroki looked back at him, finally, eyes connecting with a sense of finality. “We’re connected.”

Todoroki looked at him, face nearly falling into an almost comical expression of confusion, despite their circumstances. His eyes followed Midoriya’s, training on the hazy form of their connection, beginning to gleam from Midoriya’s strength.

Todoroki’s eyes flicked up to fix with Midoriya’s once more, looking resigned. “We will always have a bond,” he said, a near promise.

“No matter what,” Midoriya said, fulfilling his end of the unspoken pact. The red string of fate gleamed brighter, and Todoroki stared across it towards Midoriya, both boys tense with fear and resolve.

“How romantic,” Stain said blithely. “Brace yourselves, brats. This is really going to hurt.”

Todoroki and Midoriya let out twin screams of defiance as the blade swung down, glinting minutely in the yellow light of the lamppost and the soft glow of the moon. The second the blade made contact with the red string, Midoriya felt it. He felt it, and pushed back with all of the power One For All had given him, and pushed back with the power Todoroki had supplied as well. For the first time, Midoriya felt the chill and burning sting of ice and fire, mixing in with his Quirk and combining into once explosive force that sent them all flying in different directions.

Stain screamed as he landed violently against concrete, and the structure around them crumbled loudly and destructively, collapsing inward on the alleyway. Midoriya gathered the last of his remaining strength, seeking out Todoroki’s hand, and upon finding it, flung them both out into into open space, just as the alleyway collapsed in on itself. A nearby Nomu, having sought out the source of all the noise, shrieked as it was taken in by the collapsing buildings, before disappearing beneath the rubble.

Midoriya’s vision swam in and out, and all the while, he focused on a head of red and white, close by. Had he not seen Todoroki, and not felt Todoroki’s hand in his, he would not have felt his soulmate’s presence.

He was hollow, and felt no thrum of a connection. One For All was still there, if he dug around for it, but Todoroki—

Todoroki was no longer connected.

“Midoriya, my boy!” someone bellowed, just as Midoriya let his head fall to rest next to Todoroki’s on the pavement. The last thing he saw before allowing himself to sink into darkness was the sight of mismatched eyes, staring back at him.