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(I Don’t) Wanna Love You

Chapter Text

Graduating from junior high didn’t only mean entering U.A., high school for the elite. For many of the young freshmen, it meant another Quirk-related significant event in their lives, aside from the initial manifestation of their powers. Reaching high school meant they were of the age where they were finally ready to find their soulmates and amplify each other’s Quirks.
For many, it meant happiness and endless possibilities. For two of the newest junior high graduates, it was a living nightmare.

-

Midoriya Izuku had the experience of being ridiculed not only for being Quirkless, but also for the fact that he may never even find his soulmate.

Stupid,” Bakugou spat, kicking dust into Midoriya’s face. “Stupid Deku. Quirkless and alone! Even if you did find the one person in the entire world who’d ever like you, d’you think they’d stay with you?”

“Soulmates are supposed to be like a team,” chimed in one of Bakugou’s lackeys. “Without a Quirk, you’d be practically useless to them!”

“You mean more useless than he is now? If that’s even possible.” Bakugou let out a hearty laugh at this, letting sparks pop from his fingertips as if to emphasize his point. Useless useless useless.

“Kacchan…” Midoriya looked down at his own fingers, incapable directing even the smallest of objects into the air and into his hands. He let out a shaky breath with a mouth that couldn’t even breathe out a lick of fire. Midoriya would have been grateful with just one of his parent’s Quirks, and here he was with neither.

The gritty dirt of the park dug into his back as he lay there long after Bakugou and his lackeys had left, letting the sun shine into his eyes and the word useless run through his head.
“I’m going to be a hero,” Midoriya hissed tearfully through gritted teeth, blinking his eyes against the sun’s glare. “I’m going to be a hero.” And I’m not going to be alone.

-

Todoroki’s parents aren’t soulmates.

He knows his father would have enjoyed the excess of power that came through a relationship with the person you’re meant to be with, but he also knows his father preferred the thought of combining the power of fire and ice into his offspring. The result? Todoroki Shouto.

Todoroki loathes his left side.

“With both my and your mother’s Quirks at your disposal, you are already stronger than a majority of the class you’ll be entering with.” Endeavor fixes his son with a scalding glare, and Todoroki feels his scar throb. An old ache. “You are the one to pass All Might as the top hero. And once you find your soulmate… You will be unstoppable.”

Todoroki vows never to go anywhere near his soulmate.

-

They don’t meet, but they come dangerously close to it.

Before Midoriya’s acceptance of One for All, but well into his training with All Might, the two of them decide that it is the perfect time for individual morning training at the beach.

Midoriya’s lungs burned as he heaved yet another piece of junk to the pick up truck, grateful when the sea breeze cooled his heated skin.

Todoroki’s everything burned. And froze. And burned.

He let out a snarl and slowed from a near sprint into a walk, wiping his neck with his shirt as he stared down into the beach. Off to the side, Todoroki saw a dark haired boy lifting pile of trash after trash, and silently gave a nod to the person willing enough to do community service this early in the morning. Maybe he would have helped out too, if everything wasn’t so—so—

Todoroki didn’t have a word for it. All he knew was that with every step of his left foot, his whole body went numb with cold, and with every step of his right, his world became an inferno.

What… Todoroki paused mid stride to press his palms against his eyes, rubbing angrily. He was off his game. There were only very few months until the entrance exam, and here he might be coming down with a cold. Of all the times.

With a sigh, Todoroki perched on the low wall separating sidewalk from sand, watching the other boy in the distance. Oddly enough, he does feel an urge to help out. One hop, and he’s off the wall and letting his running shoes awkwardly dig into the sand. It’s quite out of character for him to want to do something like this, to want to talk to a stranger when there is nothing requiring him to do so. Part of him acknowledged this with an inward shrug, and even though he was still quite far, Todoroki opened his mouth to call out a greeting—

His left side erupted into an explosion of fire. Distantly, Todoroki felt a stream of frost violently erupt from his fingertips, icicles shooting into the sand and encasing his entire right side in ice.

Soulmate. The word raced through his mind like its own internal wildfire, even as the pain from both his Quirks drove him to his knees. Who is it? Who are they? Where are they?

Todoroki’s eyes flew up to stare at the boy hauling trash in the distance. He’s close enough to make out wild strands of hair and a sturdy back. They haven’t turned around at all, too distracted by their trash heap efforts. They’re seemingly unaffected by their own quirk, so it isn’t them. Todoroki scrambled to his feet and willed the flames to dissipate. His head swung from side to side, wildly trying to discern where his soulmate was.

There isn’t anyone—but there has to be someone! I want to meet them. No. I don’t want to meet them. I want to—I don’t—

Todoroki let out a snarl and forced himself to turn away and leap over the wall. Just run away. Just run!

With every step, the fire died down and Todoroki’s right side defrosted. It’s the first time he has ever felt so unsteady, and his heartbeat is loud in his ears.

He had never been so eager yet frightened in his entire life.

-

Something pulled at Midoriya, part of him willing him to turn around. Confused, he gently set down the broken TV and shook the sweat from his hair. It almost felt as if his heart was beating in an uneven rhythm in his chest, and he felt jittery yet steadier than he’d felt in years.

So Midoriya turned around, heart in his throat and expecting something amazing yet not knowing what exactly…

And found nothing.

Oddly enough, in the distance, Midoriya could see that there were parts of the beach where ice had formed, glinting in the sunlight. Near it, the wall was charred where it hadn’t been before, smoke gently rising into the early morning sky.

Chapter Text

There were moments when Todoroki felt stronger than usual.

After the beach incident some months ago, it was as if there was an undercurrent of energy running through him, prompting tiny sparks of fire and ice at different intervals. Other than that, his Quirk remained largely unchanged without his soulmate nearby.

Aside from training and studying for the entrance exam, Todoroki made an effort to look up articles on soulmates that he had previously disregarded. He knew that it was only the first time meeting your soulmate that Quirks reacted in such a violent manner. A soulmate, he found out, could also be someone you see everyday. Most connections weren’t presented until, for whatever reason, they were triggered. Todoroki wondered if it had been someone he knew, but dismissed it. No one he knew would have had any reason to be at that beach that early in the morning.

His mind had continued to wander back to that one boy on the beach. He’d seemed unaffected, and from what Todoroki had read, the beginning of a connection meant that both soulmates experienced a significant and visible amplification of their Quirks. And yet… the community service boy had been the only other person on the beach. Todoroki was sure of it.

He didn’t want to meet them, but at the same time, it was all he could think about. If it was somehow that boy on the beach, what was he like? Would they have a lot in common with each other? What would he think of his scar?

Almost embarrassed with himself for thinking that last part, Todoroki lightly pressed his hand over his left eye. That in itself brought up the reason he had never wanted a soulmate in the first place. A person who’s very existence amplified a power he didn’t even want? No thanks.

But if he could learn to control it… Carefully, Todoroki raised his left hand and willed his fingertips to light up into tiny flames. Their tiny lights trembled in the wind from his open window. He imagined them as large as the fire on the beach…

No. Todoroki clenched his fist, extinguishing the little lights. He’d refused to use his left side in any sort of situation besides melting ice he’d created himself, and that was at its lowest setting. Irritated, he promised himself he would never go anywhere near that beach—for the rest of his life if he had to. No soulmate for him.

-

Todoroki went back. Several times.

Stubbornly, he would tell himself that he only went by the beach because it was the best running route. The toughest hills were there, the air from the sea was prime for lung capacity… his excuses became more and more ridiculous until he finally admitted to himself that he was just there to see if his soulmate was around (obviously).

Every single time, Todoroki’s eyes would strain to see past piles to junk as he looked for the boy with the weird hair. Not that his hair mattered—Todoroki would like them no matter what. Todoroki would not like them, he amended hastily, because I do not want a soulmate.

Either way, it seemed that it didn’t matter. Somehow, he never saw the community service boy again, even as the incredibly large expanse of trash diminished day by day.

By the time the entrance exam had come and gone, Todoroki had vowed to never become distracted from his goal of being number one—without the use of his left side. Reminders were there, of course. Whispered stories of soulmates were exchanged between students, the girls in particular the most vocal about connecting with their partners. It wasn’t too often, but every once in a while, chaos would erupt as students’ Quirks were amplified one after another after a few of them connected with their soulmates, in school or from other facilities. They were all still pretty young. To have already connected with his soulmate was an incredible feat, Todoroki figured. Too bad he didn’t want it. (Too bad he didn’t know who it was.)

As time passed, his resolve remained unwavering, tamping down the random sparks of fire and shards of ice that seemed to burst out at the most random of times. Oddly enough, he would even feel a distinct change in his temperature on either side of his body even during something as mundane as history class or the like. However, he put it down to his renewed resolve, and as his focus neared tunnel vision towards his goal, the image of what happened at the beach became a blur at the back of his mind.

Todoroki’s current freshmen classmates didn’t seem so threatening to his position. Yaoyorozu and Bakugou seemed like they would present a challenge, but Todoroki wasn’t worried. A little competition was healthy enough.

The only unforeseen obstacle came from an unexpected place.

Midoriya Izuku…? Todoroki’s eyes trained onto Midoriya as he stepped into the classroom, the same hesitant-yet-mild look plastered onto his face as always. He’d overheard the gravity girl and the class president talking about him and his connection to All Might. He’d seen him in action when the villains invaded. And it was true that the number one hero’s and “Deku”’s Quirks were very similar.

Illegitimate child? Todoroki wondered, watching Midoriya greet his friends cheerfully. Whatever it was, if Midoriya thought he’d be succeeding All Might as the top hero so easily, he was dead wrong.

Todoroki’s left side grew uncomfortably warm.

-

Midoriya had felt a stare boring holes into his back ever since he had returned from his talk with All Might.

He knew who it was. Meeting eyes with Todoroki Shouto, who gave him the blandest you-aren’t-worth-my-time stares before turning away, coupled with the I Am Here promise to All Might, and the enormous pressure brought on by not only his classmates but the other classes clamoring for a spot in the Hero course…

To say Midoriya was stressed was an understatement. And what did one of class 1-A’s top students want with him? As far as he knew, he had yet to speak even two words to someone like Torodoki Shouto. Man, the guy even seemed like he had to be called by his full name, he was that imposing. But Midoriya was determined enough to keep his focus centered on the upcoming sports festival, keeping his mind set on putting himself out there. Getting himself known! That was what it meant to be All Might’s successor.

But really, he felt like he should have expected to be called out by Todoroki Shouto. But it still came as a surprise to him, hearing his name called by a low voice he had barely even heard in class.

“Midoriya.”

Startled, Midoriya’s heart leapfrogged into his throat (or should he say leap-Tsuyu? Tsuyu-hopped? Ha-ha) as he turned to face class 1-A’s strongest.

“Todoroki.” Midoriya’s grateful he was able to get that out steadily enough. Todoroki is all seriousness, eyes narrowed and looking as intense as ever. Huh, he’s got one different colored eye… It’s kind of pretty. Wow, and his hair color is almost split straight down the middle! Uh. Ahem. Wait, Izuku. Don’t get distracted. He’s talking. He’s saying something!

“Ah… Could you repeat that please?” Midoriya said sheepishly. Near him, Uraraka covered her face with her hands.

He flinched back when Todoroki gritted his teeth, right hand twitching and letting a sheen of ice cover the patch of floor next to him. He’d never seen Todoroki so irritated—or with any emotion really, even during the botched rescue training at the USJ.

“I said, I’m going to defeat you, Midoriya Izuku.” Todoroki’s words are as tense sounding as he looked, obviously fighting to regain composure. “I don’t care what your connection to All Might is, but no matter what, I’m going to be the one who wins in the end.”

Todoroki settled back on his heels, obviously finished and ready to turn away, when Midoriya swung his gaze back up from where it had been nervously fixated on the icy floor.

“Look, you—you, uh… Todoroki Shouto!” Midoriya’s voice cracked, and he fought down a blush that already colored the tips of his ears pink. “I already know that you’re incredibly strong. The strongest out of all of us even. But even so… I’m not just going to let you say you’ll beat me and let you leave it at that. Everyone will be giving their all during the competition… And so will I!”

Midoriya forced himself to meet Todoroki’s stare head on, willing himself to stay firm. “If you think you’re going to beat me so easily, you’re dead wrong!”
Todoroki’s eyes widened to betray more surprise than he’d probably meant to, making Midoriya pause himself. What, did he say too much…?

Before either of them can say anything else, Bakugou is there like a whirlwind, hands already ablaze. Of course, Midoriya groaned inwardly.

“Kacchan—“

“Are you assholes seriously talking about this between yourselves? As if you two idiots are the only ones in the entire world,” Bakugou snarled, fingers crackling. Literally everything about him was a firecracker. Or a large stick of dynamite, which was probably more accurate.

“N-no, Kacchan, everyone is giving out their best effort, of course we’re including you and everyone into—“

“I don’t give a shit.” Oddly enough, Bakugou’s voice becomes lowered, and Midoriya’s just thankful he’s no longer screaming. “Hey halfy. If you think Deku’s your only problem here, then the look on your face will be ten times more satisfying when I leave you choking on my dust.” Sparks are still flying from his fingertips, Bakugou’s characteristic snarl-smirk affixed on his face, when Midoriya became aware of how hot it’s become. That, and the fact their classmates backed away into a semi-circle, leaving a huge distance between the three of them.

Ah, I see why, Midoriya though faintly, catching sight of both Bakugou and Todoroki’s hands alight, one snapping out uneven explosions and the other burning with a steady, angry-looking flame.

Todoroki himself seemed perplexed, looking down at his left hand as if it had betrayed him somehow. Looking suspicious, he raised his head to stare at Bakugou apprehensively.

“You…”

“Yeah?” Bakugou’s voice is once again a snarl.

“Do you do community service?” Todoroki asked, his own voice sounding almost bleak.

There is absolute dead silence, and Bakugou’s hands even stop crackling in his own surprise.

No! Are you stupid?” And with another violent mini-explosion, Bakugou turned on his heel and was out the door in an instant, muttering about Quirkless pebbles and idiotic half and halves.

Todoroki himself provides no explanation, and glanced at the door where Bakugou so violently exited and back at Midoriya.

“Both of you… have weird hair,” Todoroki muttered, sounding uncharacteristically helpless. “Then again, so do a lot of people… nevermind.”

Weird… hair? Midoriya thought, dumbfounded. Have you seen yours lately?

Todoroki clicked his tongue, looking irritable at himself for losing his composure. “We’re about to go on. See to it that your declaration doesn’t go unfounded, Midoriya.”

And then he was out the door too.

“Deku… what…?” Uraraka stammered, nervously stepping forward to check and see if Midoriya was left unscathed by the entire ordeal.

“I… I have no idea,” Midoriya replied, glancing around at his classmates. “But I… Uraraka, is there something wrong with my hair?”

Chapter Text

-

Midoriya’s heartbeat was loud in his ears, and he swore he could feel it thudding in every single part of his body. He’d won the first competition of the sports festival, placing him on the radar of every single person watching the events, just as he had promised All Might.

And now Midoriya sat on the shoulders of his team for the cavalry battle, visibly trembling from the stress and adrenaline that had been pumping through him since the cavalry battle started.

By winning the first round, he had also automatically placed himself as the target of every other team. Being the center of attention for once and sitting on the shoulders of his teammates had, oddly enough, made him wonder if this was what it felt like to be a king.

And as the king, everyone had been eyeing his crown.

Ten million points?

Which made it so much worse to have it snatched from his head as Midoriya stared into Todoroki’s eyes, feeling as if the world was moving in slow motion. Is his left eye blue? Green? Midoriya thought almost distractedly, before his gaze was torn from Todoroki to the hand that gripped the ten million point headband.

“Give it back!” Midoriya screamed, and the world sped up again. Iida let out a triumphant yell as he and his team quickly darted away, and Todoroki kept his eyes on Midoriya as if to say I told you I’d win.

Fear, determination, and anger welled up inside him like a tidal wave, and Midoriya suddenly felt the same buzzing in his body as he did whenever he called up One For All. No—!

Midoriya shook his head violently, trying to dissipate the sudden energy. He would get through the battle without breaking his body. He had to.

“Tokoyami, I need an opening!” Thirty seconds left.

“Got it,” Tokoyami replied darkly, beak snapping. Uraraka let out a scream of exhilaration as their team sped forward, and Midoriya could feel her fingernails digging in where she held him firmly onto his position.

Todoroki’s face shifted into intense determination, eyes flaring as if to goad Midoriya on. Almost reflexively, his right arm flew up, shining with the use of One for All, and Midoriya could feel—something was very different—

Ten seconds.

Todoroki let out a snarl and raised his own fist, face morphing into shock when he realized it was his left arm, blazing up into its own tornado of fire. Midoriya faltered as well—there was too much power being siphoned into his own right arm, and he had to control it before it splintered his arm into nothingness. Or worse, he let the power out and it killed someone.

Midoriya and Todoroki’s eyes met with twin expressions of astonishment. Almost on instinct, Midoriya’s hands flew up as if to shake off the effects of One for All, feeling even more stunned when it went out like a light.

Todoroki yelled and clutched at his left arm, steam billowing into the air as he attempted to extinguish the flames of his own making.

Startled and unbalanced, there was no way for either team to be prepared when both boys tipped off their axis and slammed headfirst into one another. An airhorn ripped through the stunned silence of both teams and the cries of the other competitors.

The Cavalry Battle is over!

-

Todoroki was furious. Infuriated, irate, fuming, literally heated…

He paused, realizing the shoulder of his uniform was beginning to smoke. Todoroki inhaled deeply, letting cold air infuse his exhale as he fought to regulate his temper.

Calm yourself, Todoroki thought. It had been two rounds into the sports festival, and through his efforts, he’d been able to best Midoriya and his team in the cavalry competition. He had won.

His win felt soured, however. Again and again, Todoroki played back the very last few seconds of the cavalry battle, seeing Midoriya’s own startled expression clear in his mind. What had caused him to invoke his Quirk, only to cancel it out? On top of that, why had Todoroki’s fire Quirk started up on its own again?

Not to mention basically slamming into each other. That was horrifyingly embarassing.

It had to be something about Midoriya. By openly declaring himself as Midoriya’s rival for the top, it was as if Todoroki had suddenly become attuned to every action the other boy made. Watching Midoriya take the lead in the last few seconds of the race had made his blood boil. He hadn’t even used his Quirk, as far as Todoroki had seen. With such a violent blowback as he’d seen Midoriya suffer during battle training, it was no wonder he hadn’t made use of it just yet. But to be bested by someone who hadn’t made use of their Quirk even once during the race… Almost wryly, Todoroki felt like he sort of understood why Bakugou had it out so bad for small, shy Midoriya.

Speaking of which—he’d made sure to stay away from the both of them after what happened during his confrontation with Midoriya. Just thinking about what had taken place made Todoroki almost flush with embarrassment. Do you do community service? Seriously? And to Bakugou of all people. If volatile, furiously angry Bakugou was somehow his soulmate, Todoroki would be the first person to find a way to bring the connection into tangible form and then rip it into ten thousand pieces.

But that spike in energy…

Todoroki couldn’t deny that there was energy that felt like it was simmering just underneath his skin. He had felt restless and on edge the entire time, ever since that day on the beach, and no amount of denial was going to make that go away.

How can I fix this…? Frustrated, Todoroki rested a hand on the cement wall of the stadium hall, letting a thin coating of ice form beneath his palm. No matter whatever excess energy he’d gained from the beach, he’d been able to exercise more control over his ice Quirk than the flames. It’s because I told myself I’d never use it, Todoroki realized bitterly. I’ve never practiced with it, so my control is weak. Incompetent!

Feeling more exasperated than ever, Todoroki crushed the thin layer of frost underneath his palm. “I’m going to find them,” he growled underneath his breath. “As soon as this stupid festival is over, I’m going to find who ever started this connection, and I am going to find a way to sever it.”

-

“Well done, Midoriya. Once again, you have proven your mettle out there on the battlefield!”

Midoriya reared back, surprised out of his own reverie. The competitors had been given an hour of recuperation time before the one-on-one battles began, and Midoriya had moved back into to the competitors’ waiting room.

“Thank you, Iida!” Midoriya replied, feeling slightly nervous. “You guys, um, fought well as… well. You did a really good job. Ah… Congratulations!” He flushed, feeling as if he were tripping over his own tongue.

“Truly, thank you very much,” Iida said, sounding grateful. Nevertheless, he waved it aside with his usual gusto filled knife hands. “It was a win for you and then a win for me. Though I do still wish to test myself directly against you. Soon, perhaps.”

“You both did wonderfully!” Uraraka exclaimed cheerfully, flinging herself through the doorway. Immediately, both boys were reduced to blubbering messes, blushing and filling the room with bashful muttering.

“Don’t be shy about it,” she continued. “We all came to put out our best efforts, and that’s exactly what we did. Right, Deku?”

“R-right!” Midoriya replied, beaming. His expression fell as he remembered the odd feeling he had when he inadvertently called up One for All.

“Is something wrong?” Iida asked worriedly.

“It’s just… near the end, I almost used my Quirk without meaning to. And when it happened, it didn’t feel like it was… working like usual. It almost felt like too much.” Midoriya sheepishly rubbed the back of his head, unsure of how to put it into words. “Something felt wrong about it. I’m just worried that it’ll happen again, especially with the matches coming up.”

“It’s true that you’ve yet to use your Quirk without bodily injuring yourself,” Iida murmured thoughtfully, propping his chin with a hand. “‘Too much’ could mean an even greater excess of injury. Has anything changed lately for you to feel this way?”

“Well… no,” Midoriya said. “I used it during our first battle training, then against villains for the first time… honestly I’ve been at school for the most part. I haven’t changed anything else, not even what I eat or how much I sleep!”

“You could be close to finding your soulmate!” Uraraka squealed. She blushed deeply when both boys wheeled around to look at her. “I—I mean… the signs are all there right? “Too much” as in too much of your power… It could all be leading up to the first connection!”

“I don’t know…” Midoriya trailed off. How could he explain that he might not even have a soulmate? Being Quirkless might have meant that he was never born with any connection to anyone. But… if he did have a soulmate, then Midoriya had a Quirk now! He could protect them now! Midoriya stared at his hands, eyes shining with the realization. What if Uraraka was right…? If his Quirk was acting up because it was ready to connect with his soulmate, then he could actually, finally have someone all of his own!

“First connection, which alerts you to their presence, then second connection—through touch!” Uraraka said excitedly, counting both off on two fingers.

“T-touch?!” Iida squeaked, sounding almost scandalized. Uraraka’s face blossomed into another blush, waving her arms wildly.

“N-nothing like—no! It just means any physical touch. I—I mean… After the first connection is made, its sealed through first contact… like holding hands, or even just a high five!” Uraraka covered her face with her hands, and even Midoriya could feel the tips of his ears turning red. “All innocent, really!”

“You’re very well read on this!” Iida said stoutly, trying to regain his composure. “It’s very impressive! I myself have only read up on that first part so far. Soulmate connections have always seemed like such an… intimate topic.” And he was blushing again.

“It does seem that way, doesn’t it!” Uraraka laughed sheepishly. “I’ve just always been so excited about finding my soulmate… I can’t wait for it to happen!”

“And I as well. In fact, I… do have some hopes as to who it could be—“

“You guys are still here?” The three of them turned as one as Kirishima ran through, looking incredibly excited. “The one-on-one match-ups are posted up already! I’d get there before the crowd thickens if I were you!”

Midoroya was out the door in an instant, heartbeat loud in his chest once again. He skid to a halt in front of the billboard, almost colliding with Iida and Uraraka who had been following right behind him, all eyes automatically scanning for names.

Uraraka let out a strangled gasp, whispering, “Bakugou…?”

Midoriya would have been right there with her, joining in her apprehension if he hadn’t been completely scared witless himself.

Midoriya Izuku v. Todoroki Shouto

Midoriya knew without turning around that Todoroki’s eyes were already burning holes in the back of his head.

Chapter Text

Midoriya pressed a clammy hand to his forehead and let out a ragged breath. Beside him, Iida stood ramrod straight, determinedly drinking can after can of juice. Midoriya watched him almost absently as he settled back against the wall, letting the constant sounds of the snap and click of each can opening settle his anxiety.

“Iida… won’t you need to go to the bathroom if you drink that many?” Midoriya asked. He didn’t really think it was a big deal, but if he didn’t focus on something else in the meantime, Midoriya felt like he was going to go insane with nerves.

“Indeed not,” Iida replied solemnly, and allowed another snap of the can to punctuate his sentence. “Fueling myself is just as important as taking this time to focus. In fact, do you not feel the need to eat something? Maybe an energy bar?”

“No, I’m good,” Midoriya said shakily. “I don’t think I’m up for eating anything right now.”

Snap-click. Then the sound of Iida chugging another juice.

“You and Todoroki are the first match,” Iida stated after he’d tidily dabbed at his mouth with a handkerchief. It wasn’t a question, merely an acknowledgement. “I am going up against Hatsume Mei… judging from her performance on your team, she could be a worthy opponent. Her inventions are rather extraordinary.”

“They are,” Midoriya agreed, once again sounding absentminded. There were only a few minutes left until the call for the first competitors. He hadn’t seen Todoroki since seeing their names next to each other on the board, and even then Midoriya had been too nervous to look Todoroki in the eyes.

“…I know you are nervous,” Iida said suddenly, breaking through Midoriya’s reverie, “but continue to push through and give it your all.” He looked at Midoriya steadily, eyes glinting beneath his glasses.

“Bakugou and Todoroki aren’t the only ones who see you as a rival. I do as well. Do not forget that I have challenged you. And continue to do your absolute best out there, Midoriya.”

Midoriya gaped at him, taken off guard, before a smile split his face at the declaration. “Yeah,” he replied, resolution and determination settling steady in his chest. “You’ve got it, Iida.”

With a solid clap on the back, Iida strode away, the click of another can sounding throughout the hall along with his footsteps.

Will Midoriya Izuku and Todoroki Shouto please step into their respective gates. Once again, will Midoriya Izuku…”

Midoriya gulped, nerves thundering back into full force. This was it. He was giving his all, and this time, it would be his win.

-

“Your blatant disregard for the power you wield is atrocious.”

Todoroki tugged at the collar of his uniform, feeling distinctly warm and irritated.

This time, it wasn’t even due to his left side acting up. Behind him, Endeavor was a constant furnace, and the only thing burning brighter than his stupid fire “facial hair” was his ego (in Todoroki’s very strong opinion).

“You could finish off your opponents more effectively and efficiently with the use of your fire Quirk.” Endeavor snorted derisively, letting tiny sparks of flame strike the air. “But you don’t, due to a childish ideal. Grow up.”

Todoroki gritted his teeth and focused all of his attention on the large square of sunlight that shone through the open gateway. Beyond that, the arena. And Midoriya Izuku.

His left side tingled unexpectedly, and Todoroki tamped it down almost viciously. He was going to win without even the slightest lick of fire.

“I don’t need it to win.” Todoroki willed his voice to remain steady, even as he felt Endeavor’s glare become even more furious. “I don’t need any power from you to attain victory. Even if it is a Quirk from the number two hero.”

Endeavor visibly bristled, and Todoroki wondered if he had taken it too far, before promptly deciding that he didn’t care.

Almost as soon as his temper flared, it cooled, and Endeavor was once again smiling and self-confident. “As you say for now. But it is only a matter of time. One cannot deny who they truly are.”

“And I present to you the first matchup of the day…! Class 1-A’s Midoriya Izuku and Todoroki Shouto!” Present Mic’s voice boomed throughout the venue, and Todoroki felt the hair at the back of his neck stand up.

“If you’ll excuse me,” Todoroki said stiffly, and stepped forward. “But I have a match to win.”

Even as he walked forward into the sunlight, Todoroki was focused on the sound of his father’s footsteps, loud and concise as Endeavor left without another word to go wait and watch in the stands.

Todoroki covered the tips of his knuckles with ice, watching them glint in the sun out of the corner of his eye. I’m going to win.

Instantly, his eyes zeroed in on Midoriya’s shaky but determined expression, and all at once his temper rose once again. I’m. Going. To win.

“Midoriya,” Todoroki said almost lazily, the glare in his eyes belying his true temper. Midoriya stared back stolidly, fixing his mouth into a thin line. “Should I give you more insight as to why I’m going to be the one winning today, and every match we could possibly ever have?”

Midoriya’s eyes flicked up into the stands, landing on Present Mic and then on, Todoroki expected, All Might. The number one hero wasn’t seated in any place of honor, and despite his unusual bulk, Todoroki hadn’t seen him in the crowd. Only fitting that Midoriya knew where the ultimate hero sat.

Todoroki continued on, ignoring the brief distraction. “My father is the second greatest hero. But you know that.”

“Endeavor,” Midoriya said, finally fixing his eyes back to Todoroki.

“That’s right. But I’m sure you didn’t know that the only reason I was born was to take All Might’s place as number one.”

Midoriya’s mouth parted, eyes widened in shock, before his gaze flicked back up into the stands, looking at the arena’s large screens. Todoroki shook his head unconcernedly. The arena’s screens are still focused on Present Mic, who was enthusiastically stating the rules of the fight. It was all for the audience—the competitors themselves had been informed of the rules soon after the match ups had been assigned. Now, the arena’s attention is on them and Present Mic, sure, but there are no microphones close enough to catch their conversation and the cameras bounce back and forth between him, Midoriya, and the announcer. No one is paying attention to a quick pre-match conversation.

Todoroki didn’t know why he was telling Midoriya all of this, so suddenly, before their match. To catch him off guard? But part of Todoroki knew that he had to tell Midoriya why winning was so important to him. Why victory was as essential to him as breathing.

“To keep it short and simple, my parents aren’t soulmates. Who cares about true love or even extra power when you can make your kids even greater than the current number one hero?” Todoroki’s voice was low enough that Midoriya had to lean forward almost unconsciously in order to hear him over the roar of the audience.

“My mother loathed my left side.” Now Todoroki’s voice was almost at a low rumble, but Midoriya is too horrified and too riveted to hear anything else but what Todoroki was saying. “You remind me of your father, is what she said to me before throwing boiling water at my face.”

Midoriya blanched, and Todoroki could tell he was making a conscious effort not to step back or cover his mouth with his hands out of shock.

“So you see,” Todoroki said steadily, part of him noting that Present Mic’s speech was winding down to a close, “I’m going to defeat you without the use of my father’s Quirk. I’m going to rise to the top without his help. So I’m sorry…”

“Ready, boys? Annnnnnd…. START!”

“…but you’re going to have to step aside, Midoriya.” With a sudden twist of his arm, Todoroki sent a colossal wall of ice straight for Midoriya. It’s over.

Too soon. With a sound like crashing thunder, the ice splintered and split almost as soon as it had formed, and Todoroki snarled and covered his eyes to avoid being blinded by shards of flying ice. He was infuriated to be greeted with the sight of Midoriya doubled over and clutching an index finger, face already red with pain and exertion. The audience screamed excitedly.

I’m not… going down so easily, Todoroki!” Midoriya howled, voice cracking just as badly as the ice surrounding him. Todoroki’s mouth twisted uncharacteristically, moved to sudden and irrational fury.

“You. Always you. What is it about you that always gets on my last nerve?” Todoroki hissed, and sent another, smaller wall of ice at Midoriya.

Midoriya yelped and scrambled away, narrowly avoiding having his foot smashed in between blocks of ice. “I don’t know,” he gasped, “but I guess it’s just something about me. Trust me, Kacchan feels the same way.”

Todoroki scowled and ran forward, hardening his right fist with ice. Midoriya scrambled in vain for purchase on the already icy arena floor, barely moving back in time to avoid being sucker punched in the face. Todoroki snarled as he landed lightly on his feet, resting a hand for balance on one of the remaining ice walls.

He’d barely turned in time to face a shockwave, only having time to register that Midoriya had sent it with a flick of a single finger, before he was sent flying. Todoroki had the sense to flick up another layer of ice behind him, and his back slammed into it painfully, just inches from the edge of the circle.

Todoroki’s eyes flew open, rage building. His left side burned as if clamoring for the use of his father’s power, and he paused to press it down, suffocate it. Not now. Not ever.

Midoriya was doubled over once again, clutching at two fingers this time, face twisted into an expression of pain.

“You can’t even use your Quirk without violent repercussions,” Todoroki rasped disdainfully. “What kind of hero can’t even use his Quirk properly?”

“I could say the same for you!” Midoriya cried out, forcing himself to stand straight and meet Todoroki’s eyes. Todoroki flinched, startled into silence. “At least I’m giving 100% of what I’m capable of. You’re the one coming at me all half-assed!”

Todoroki’s eyes blazed. His side burned—it was an internal inferno. His right was a frozen wasteland. He was burning. He was frozen. “How dare you—“

“It’s true!” Midoriya screamed, sounding desperate to be heard over the thundering of the crowd and Todoroki himself. “I’m sorry that happened to you. I’m sorry you feel that way. But what else do you want me to say?

Another shockwave. Todoroki stifled a gasp before launching himself to his right, erecting another wall just in time to prevent flinging himself out of the circle and into failure.

“I’m sorry that you went through all of that. I can’t begin to even understand what you went through. I… I had help to get to where I am now.” Midoriya’s voice is strained and laced with pain, and Todoroki is bent over, winded from his collision with his ice wall. His eyes train on Midoriya’s hands to see that three of his fingers are burnt and bent. Ow, Todoroki thought, feeling almost sympathetic. But then again, anything for victory.

Todoroki launched himself at Midoriya, raising another fist of ice and letting out a frustrated yell when it connects with the ground, Midoriya having dodged last second. Todoroki registers a kick to his side that sends him colliding with another wall, and he’s furious to note that Midoriya hadn’t used any of his power in that blow.

“My motivation may seem weak in comparison to yours,” Midoriya continued, sounding just as winded as Todoroki. How many minutes had it been since the fight had started? It feels like ages—Todoroki’s eyes flew up to the clock. Eight. Eight damn minutes had passed. “But the feelings of the people who have helped me and my own goal are what drive me towards victory.”

Are those tears in Midoriya’s eyes? Todoroki is furious. A wildfire.

So I can’t lose!” Another shockwave. Todoroki has to brace himself for this one, trusting the ice behind him not to shatter and send him flying to his defeat.

Neither can I.

Shut up shut up shut up!” Todoroki howled, temper finally rising past the breaking point. He felt like he was being tugged in two different directions. Determined not to stay leaning against his wall for any longer, Todoroki pushed himself upright and stepped forward to meet Midoriya. With every step of his left foot, his body went numb with cold, and with every step of his right, his world became an inferno.

Wrong. Feeling almost betrayed, Shouto lifted his right hand, willing the fire underneath to die down and for the ice to resurface. This is wrong. His right side wasn’t supposed to feel as warm as it is—the side he wasn’t supposed to trust, to use, was his left side. His father’s Quirk.

“Your father’s Quirk?”

Todoroki’s head snapped up, eyes widening. He hadn’t realized that he had said the last part aloud, and Midoriya’s expression was a mixture of anger and confusion.

“Your father’s Quirk,” Midoriya repeated, tucking his injured hand against his side, “is the one he has, the one he uses. Your Quirk is your own!”

“Shut up. What would you know?” Todoroki snapped, dismissive. He raised a hand, ready to send a final colossal wall of ice, to finally end the battle. He only hoped he had enough energy to do it once again.

“I know what it’s like to feel powerless. And you, you have two amazing Quirks! Just because one Quirk is inherited from your father doesn’t make you him. You are two totally different people. Why can’t you see that?

Todoroki reeled back, shaken. He had to retaliate—he had to win—

“You aren’t your father, Todoroki Shouto. You have a choice!

“That’s enough!” Todoroki screamed. He let his rage feed into his right side, the tidal wave of ice shooting forward and gathering together until it seemed that he would cover the arena—and Midoriya—with a glacier.

It was deja vu. Another sound of thunder, another instant of covering his face so as not to be stabbed in the eyes with his own ice, and there was Midoriya yet again. This time, he was almost to the ground, face twisted in nearly unbearable pain. Midoriya’s entire right arm was bent and broken this time, and Todoroki’s stomach twisted.

“If you won’t give your 100%,” Midoriya hissed, visibly trying to keep the pain at bay, “then you aren’t going to win.”

“I—I—“ Todoroki stammered, and stepped backwards. Every step, blizzard, inferno, blizzard, inferno. The roar of the audience was white noise in the background, but he could make out the hum of what sounded like Present Mic nervously asking Midnight if Cementoss should step in and stop the fight.

“Come on, Todoroki,” Midoriya coaxed, staggering upright once again. Todoroki stared at him, then at his left hand.

A flame flickered to life.

“That’s it,” Midoriya said, sounding encouraging even with what had to be an unbearable injury. “Now I’m going to have to end this as fast as I can,” he continued, sounding a little rueful with himself, and Todoroki, hysterically, almost felt like laughing.

Why would you help me?

“Fine, Midoriya,” Todoroki said, feeling numb. He couldn't tear his eyes from the flame in his palm, and Midoriya. “It’s mine. It is mine. This Quirk… is under my control.”

His left side burst into a whirlwind of flame, even as ice crackled from his right.

“Ah man,” Midoriya said, and leaped forward, keeping low to the ground to avoid the sudden onslaught of both elements. Todoroki leapt back as well and saw Midoriya grit his teeth and spring up from the ground at inhuman speed. Time seemed to slow, and Todoroki noted that Midoriya had focused his Quirk on one leg, launching himself at Todoroki with an upraised fist.

He intends to blow me out of the ring, Todoroki realized, and raised his left arm. Todoroki ducked as soon as Midoriya was close enough for Midoriya to land a blow, grabbing him by the shoulder to stop his advances. Immediately, Midoriya’s Quirk dissipated from his one good arm as he faltered, hand flying up to find purchase and balance. Instinctively, Todoroki extinguished the flames for fear of burning Midoriya’s face

And as Midoriya’s hand grasped the bare skin of Todoroki’s wrist, Todoroki had the unexplainable feeling of something latching into place. The final piece of a puzzle, it felt like, and Todoroki felt like the world was turning in on itself.

And then they collided, again, and fell to the ground together, again.

“God dammit,” Todoroki gasped, attempting to sit up. His senses suddenly felt overloaded—too much was happening all at once, and to make things worse, he suddenly felt ten times worse than he did on the beach.

The beach. Todoroki’s head whipped around to find Midoriya shuddering, seeming to glow as his Quirk overloaded. His grip was still tight on Todoroki’s wrist, and out of the corner of his eye Todoroki saw Cementoss hovering right outside the boundary line, hands up and ready to intervene. The audience was loud and restless, suddenly aware that something was happening, and no one sure what it was.

“You… were you at the beach, cleaning up the huge junk pile by yourself?” Todoroki croaked out. He wasn’t stupid, just in denial. But no amount of denial could prevent him from understanding when all the facts, the feelings, were right in front of his face.

He couldn’t explain it. Even as Todoroki felt like he was being pulled in twenty different directions by his Quirk, he finally felt whole… as if he’d finally found where he was meant to be.

Midoriya looked up at him, and Todoroki could tell that he was feeling every single thing Todoroki was. Even through the pain and sweat and tears, Todoroki could see Midoriya’s happiness, and the confusion at that happiness.

So he couldn’t help himself when he blurted out, “We’re soulmates.” The second connection.

Todoroki couldn’t help but notice the chain reaction he’d caused. Cementoss stepped back from the ring, astounded. The expressions on Midnight and Present Mic’s faces showed loud and clear that, while they couldn’t hear him from where they stood, they could definitely read lips. Almost a hundred cameras were pointed at the two of them, and Todoroki’s face was broadcasted in high definition, for everyone to see. The audience hummed with confusion, punctuated with exclamations of delight as the realization was passed from person to person.

Todoroki’s sides thrummed in contentment, and as ridiculous as it was, he felt like he could have stayed there forever.

“I didn’t… I didn’t know I had one…” Midoriya said, sounding dumfounded. “I can’t believe it. I’ve always wanted someone, all for myself!”

“I…” Todoroki began, automatically willing to echo Midoriya’s sentiment, to melt into his soul mate’s side and never let go. Suddenly, he felt a pinprick of unease, and his gaze is drawn to the stands.

His father stands against the railing, teeth bared in triumph and glee.

Fear makes his tongue stumble, and the words halt in his mouth. Midoriya’s eyes moved to his face, wide and trusting, and all Todoroki can think about is the pain and confusion he experienced at the beach. He remembered the lack of control he’d had, and while his ice side was under his control, he had little to no training with his left.

Amplified and uncontrolled, his fire Quirk could easily injure an entire stadium full of people. Burn down the entire school. He could hurt Midoriya.

Todoroki ripped his arm from Midoriya’s grasp, and both their Quirks died down at once, the happy thrum of power dwindling down to nothing. The glow from Midoriya’s Quirk diminished as well, and both of them flinched at the sudden disconnection.

“Todoroki…?” Midoriya asked, and without the connection, Todoroki could tell that the pain from his broken arm and leg were beginning to rush back all at once.

Even so, Todoroki resisted the urge to gather Midoriya up and into his arms, and desperately forced himself to remember why he had been so against having a soul mate. Why he’d resolved himself to find them, and sever the connection.

“I’m sorry Midoriya. I…” Todoroki’s stomach plummeted when Midoriya’s face twisted at his words. At first, in confusion, then horror as he realized what Todoroki was beginning to say.

“I never wanted… I don’t want this,” Todoroki continued helplessly. “I don’t want you.”

In the next second, Todoroki found himself regretting as soon as Midoriya staggered to his feet, hurt and betrayal scrawled across his features.

“You don’t… want me?” Midoriya repeated, and Todoroki realizes he’d just put his own foot in his mouth.

“No—I mean, I can’t—“

Midoriya scrambled back the best he can with one mangled leg, tears gathered in his eyes, and Todoroki is no longer close enough to catch him when Midoriya’s one good leg gives out, sending him stumbling over the edge and out of the ring.

Todoroki’s win.

Damn you, Todoroki silently told himself, and watched stricken as med bots and teachers swarmed the both of them, as the audience cried out for answers in the background. Damn you.

Chapter Text

Useless… Quirkless…

I’m so sorry, but becoming a hero just isn’t possible.

What can you even do?!

I’m afraid there’s no hope for him.

I’m sorry Izuku… I’m so sorry!

Quirkless and alone! No one would ever want you—

“…suffering from several broken limbs, not to mention… hands… taxing on such a young…”

Like an out of range radio, words filtered brokenly through Midoriya’s ears and mind, leaving him unsure of the difference between reality and memory.

“To have such a reaction… delayed…”

All Might’s voice. Midoriya stirred, feeling the light sting of pain remaining from his wounds beginning to drag him back to full wakefulness. His head felt heavy on his neck, and proved near impossible to move. Midoriya was able to slightly move his eyelids, and shuddered inwardly at the harsh fluorescent light that peeked through the slits.

“He couldn’t have… there… Shouto.”

Todoroki. Now there was a pain deep in his chest too.

“Aizawa is attempting to find him,” came the soft voice of Recovery Girl, and Midoriya heard the worry in her voice, loud and clear. She sounded much more concerned than many of the other times he had come to the infirmary, and that was saying something. “To find out so early, and in front of so many people… not to mention it’s one of the biggest trending topics aside from the win of that crazy one. Endeavor’s son finding his soulmate during a competition…” She clicked her tongue loudly, and Midoriya heard the squeak of her swivel chair as she agitatedly turned this way and that.

Endeavor’s son… Todoroki. My soulmate. Midoriya’s thoughts blurred, and he blearily attempted to open his eyes once more.

I don’t want you.

As if he had been jolted by Kaminari, Midoriya let out a strangled gasp as his eyes snapped open, finally fully alert. There was a rustle of clothing and the swish of the bed’s privacy curtain being quickly pushed aside. Midoriya calmed a little at the sight of All Might, and the man’s sunken eyes still conveyed relief and worry.

“Midoriya, my boy,” All Might said, and paused as if lost for words. Recovery Girl’s own face was set into a small frown, and the old lady turned away to check the casts covering Midoriya’s arm and leg.

“All… Mi—“ Midoriya stopped himself hastily, eyes darting around the infirmary. All Might shook his head and raised a hand as if to pat Midoriya.

“No one here but Recovery Girl and I, Midoriya my boy. All is well.” All Might stopped himself once more, and Midoriya noted he seemed stilted and hesitant.

“It’s okay, All Might,” Midoriya said, fighting through the lump forming in his throat. “I’m feeling a lot better thanks to Recovery Girl. And I’m not bothered by… I-I’m not bothered by what happened during the fight. Honest.”

All Might didn’t respond, instead choosing to finally rest his hand gently on Midoriya’s head. The boy couldn’t help but wonder if All Might had a soulmate, and if he did, what had happened to them. Or if… or if, like Midoriya, he’d been rejected as well. Midoriya couldn’t meet his hero’s eyes any longer, and let his eyes find their way down to the cast on his arm. During any other occasion, All Might would have had an encouraging smile on his face, assuring Midoriya that he would heal up in no time and be stronger than ever. As it was, even All Might knew the seriousness of the rejection—and the should-be impossibility of it. Not so impossible after all, Midoriya supposed.

“Your classmates have been eager to see you,” All Might said then, lifting his hand off of Midoriya’s hair. Midoriya felt himself missing the touch, and had to physically freeze in order to stop himself from leaning against his hero. He wasn’t weak. He could not show weakness. He was All Might’s chosen successor. That didn’t stop the pinpricks of tears beginning to sting the corners of his eyes.

“If… if it’s alright with you, All Might, a-and Recovery Girl… I think I would prefer to go home instead.” Midoriya’s eyes burned with unshed tears, and even as he spoke his throat tightened.

“…indeed, my boy,” All Might said, and a tone of resolution shone through as he continued to speak. “We will depart immediately for home—I do believe your mother would want you by her side as soon as possible… But I must say, there are still some reporters lingering outside.”

Midoriya’s heart thundered once again in his chest. To be questioned about what happened, when he was still processing the events himself… He couldn’t even face his classmates like this, much less any sized group of invasive strangers.

“Not to worry,” All Might said, breaking through Midoriya’s silent panic. “I will be the one to take you home.” And when Midoriya looked up again, the All Might of his childhood stood proud and tall, strong arms already coming down to pick up his tiny student.

“Careful with his casts,” Recovery Girl’s tiny voice piped up from where she had just finished entering text into her computer, the squeak of her chair sounding throughout the infirmary as she turned to contemplate them with a stern eye. “I would say I hope to see you again, Midoriya, but not in the infirmary. Rest up, do you hear me?”

Midoriya agreed softly, and in the next moment, too fast for him to comprehend, they were up and out the door. Soon, All Might had leaped up into the evening air, and Midoriya was reminded of the last time when he had clung to All Might’s leg for dear life.

Receiving One for All was a dream come true, Midoriya thought, aimlessly watching the building tops as they sped by. I could finally be there hero I’ve always dreamed about. It should be enough for me. The only thing that could have made this better would have been…

“Do not think too hard on it, kid,” All Might rumbled, and Midoriya was startled to find that they had landed in front of Midoriya’s home. Such a quick trip—only to be expected of All Might. “You are still both so young. Having a soulmate is something yet to be fully understood, but one thing is for certain—it is not something that defines who you are, Midoriya my boy.”

Midoriya looked up at All Might with wide eyes and couldn’t help but smile a little as he fought down the urge to hug his hero.

Izukuuuuuuuuuuu!

“Ah, Mom—“ Midoriya stifled a yelp as his mother all but flung herself at him, jostling his cast. His mother’s head swung as she took in All Might and her son, as if unsure where to focus her attention on first.

“Oh, my! All Might, sir, how can I ever thank you? Bringing my little Izuku home—oh Izuku! Your arm! Your leg! How will you ever get around?”

“Ah,” Midoriya and All Might said in unison, both looking at the other somewhat sheepishly.

“Fear not,” All Might said boisterously, recovering quickly. “I will ensure that that someone will be by with a pair of crutches well before your return to school. Rest well, my boy… I will see you in class.”

“Thank you, All Might,” Midoriya replied amongst the barrage of gratitude his mother spluttered at All Might. And then his hero was gone into the distance, long before Midoriya had even settled himself into the nearest armchair available.

“Oh, Izuku,” his mother sighed again as she fretted over him, and Midoriya suddenly found himself unable to meet her eyes. “Izuku….”

“Mom…” Midoriya paused, thinking back on his childhood. The overwhelming sadness, the disappointment… if his mother said the same thing she did then, Midoriya was sure he would break.

“Izuku…” His mother was crying again, and bent down to gently wrap her arms around his neck. “Izuku… my strong, strong boy. You were so amazing today. I am so, so proud of you.”

Midoriya froze in near disbelief, before the feelings from today’s rejection washed over him once more and he crumpled into his mother’s side, muffling quiet sobs.

-

Todoroki stood in front of class 1-A, stalling until the last possible minute. Quite literally—it was less than a minute until the bell rang through the already empty hallways, and even Aizawa had entered the classroom.

He had almost convinced himself not to come. Then he had internally and angrily berated himself for being such a coward. Heroes weren’t cowards. Heroes faced whatever consequences their actions brought, even if those consequences entailed breaking the heart of the only one meant for you and possibly turning the public against you. Which, by the way, his father was furious about. (Not that Todoroki cared about his opinion though, even now.)

Todoroki steeled himself, calling up his best poker face as he slid the door open in one precise motion and stepped inside. All chatter ceased, and as the bell rang, Todoroki’s eyes fell upon Midoriya’s empty seat.

Aizawa’s face was unreadable behind the bandages that still covered his wounds from the battle at the USJ, merely waving Todoroki in and impatiently motioning him to take a seat. As Todoroki walked past his classmates to his seat in the back of the class, he couldn’t help but notice the varying reactions that stemmed from them. Iida Tenya was stony faced, not bothering to stand and obnoxiously lecture him on coming in and being in his seat on time and well before the bell. Uraraka Ochako, usually so sweet tempered, looked distinctly uncomfortable and kept her eyes fixed on her clasped hands. Bakugou was the most animated out of all their classmates, openly glaring at Todoroki and practically foaming at the mouth.

Dammit, half-and-half! Did you even try at all during our fight, or did that stupid thing with Deku completely distract you?!

“He’s at the nurse’s clinic.”

Todoroki looked up from his desk at Yaoyorozu. Aizawa had begun to lecture, unenthusiastically waving at a board full of English grammar, and Yaoyorozu wasn’t even looking at him as she scribbled furiously at her notebook.

“Midoriya. He’s at the nurse’s clinic being treated by Recovery Girl one last time before he comes back to class. He should be back by next period, I think,” Yaoyorozu clarified, her voice low.

“I…” Todoroki was unsure of what to say in reply, but… he had been wondering. “Um. Thank you.”

Yaoyorozu looked at him askance, pencil pausing over paper. “You know… a lot of people are upset with you. But I respect you… and I’m not one to judge other people’s personal matters. It’s just that a lot of us haven’t even had soulmate connections yet, so I suppose that the shock plays a big part of it too.” She bit her lip, looking unsure. “Whatever it is, I’m sure you had your reasons for… for doing what you did. But Midoriya doesn’t…” She blushed, looking highly embarrassed.

“What?” Todoroki whispered, feeling almost impatient.

“Nothing.”

“I’m sure I don’t hear talking while I’m lecturing,” came Aizawa’s deadpan voice. “One more time, and you’ll be facing the consequences and all that, blah blah blah. Just shut up and pay attention.”

Chastised, Yaoyorozu turned fully toward the board, the picture of the perfect student. Todoroki was left feeling restless and uneasy, and was unable to pay even the slightest attention to the notes on the board. Instead, he stubbornly repeated I don’t care I don’t care I don’t care like a mantra in his head, and avoided looking at the classroom’s door.

He shouldn’t even have bothered trying, Todoroki realized wryly as he felt his fingertips begin to tingle. Soon, the same low thrum of power resounded throughout his body, and Todoroki fought down a blush as he felt the connection strengthen, still fresh from their contact during the competition. Todoroki ignored the urge to bend low in his desk and cover his face as the classroom door slid open once again, revealing Midoriya Izuku standing cast-free and looking terribly pained and nervous. The look on his face was exactly how Todoroki felt on the inside, except with a lot more of that awkward twisty mouth thing that Midoriya had going on for some reason.

“Midoriya,” Aizawa grumbled, and no one could miss the minute flick of his eyes towards Todoroki’s desk, “hurry up and take a seat.”

“R-right!” Midoriya said quickly, already nervously stumbling towards his desk. Uraraka beamed at him in relief, and several of their classmates reached out to gently clap Midoriya on the back as he passed, silent in their support. Of course, Todoroki acknowledged, because Midoriya was the jilted soulmate after all. Which left Todoroki as the heartless one.

Nothing new, Todoroki sighed inwardly. If popularity is so important as the top hero, I’ll just gain it through the peoples’ sheer admiration of my skill. Something like this will be long forgotten after we’ve all graduated U.A.

Even so, Todoroki couldn’t help but stare at the back of Midoriya’s head, watching as the boy hastily tugged out his writing utensils and flipped to a clean page in an attempt to catch up with the notes. Shy, bushy haired, hesitant Midoriya. What made him worthy at all to be Todoroki’s soulmate anyway? Wimpy, unsure Midoriya, who gave up the class president position at a moment’s notice.

Todoroki recalled intense dark eyes that conveyed anger and determination even through the pain of several broken limbs. Your Quirk is your own, Todoroki remembered. You aren’t your father, Todoroki Shouto. You have a choice!

Todoroki’s ears burned, and his left side prickled uneasily. Strong, determined, freckled Midoriya, who had almost convinced him to use his fire Quirk of his own free will. It’s my… my power. My Quirk. Frustrated, Todoroki pressed the tip of his pencil into the paper, aimlessly drawing a line in one corner. I’m going to talk to him, Todoroki resolved, glaring holes into the back of Midoriya’s neck. Oddly enough, it seemed as if his neck was turning redder the longer Todoroki stared. I’m going to talk to him and explain exactly why having each other as soulmates absolutely cannot happen. I need to get this over and done with, and have him as far away as possible.

The tip of his pencil snapped off, the small cracking sound of wood bringing about the attention of those seated around him. Yaoyorozu coughed delicately, glancing at Todoroki out of the corner of her eye as she quietly extended a hand out to him and produced a sharpener from the palm of her hand. Todoroki felt his left side heat up slightly in embarrassment, knee-jerk reaction causing him to glance up to see if Midoriya had noticed anything. Another click of a tongue notified Todoroki that Yaoyorozu had seen where he was looking, and he hastily swung his head back down to his notebook, quickly reaching for the sharpener.

What the hell am I doing.

-

What the hell is he doing.

Midoriya had nearly been bent over and into his notebook as he scribbled, all too aware of the glares Todoroki was sending his way. For literally of the morning classes, Midoriya had attempted to focus while also attempting to mentally ward off Todoroki’s absolute hatred, because why else would he be staring at Midoriya?

He supposed that the stares he had been feeling could have been coming from an angry Bakugou, as per usual, but some part of Midoriya knew that it was Todoroki. An angry, resentful Todoroki.

By the time the bell rang as a signal for lunchtime, Midoriya’s stomach was twisted in anxious knots. Eager to be out the door for a stress free lunch with Uraraka and Iida, Midoriya stood quickly and winced at the harsh drag of chair against linoleum floor.

“Deku!” Uraraka cried out, instantly appearing at Midoriya’s side. Iida wasn’t far behind, weaving through desks to tower above his friends, mouth set into a thin, worried line.

“Guys!” Midoriya said, relieved to finally be able to speak with the both of them. He was surprised to notice that a group had begun to form around them, some of his classmates looking him over curiously. Midoriya absolutely refused to let his eyes wander towards the door to see if Todoroki was on his way out. Even so, a flash of red and white out of the corner of his eye let Midoriya know that Todoroki had exited. Part of him deflated—out of disappointment? No, relief. It was relief.

“Good to see you well again, Midoriya,” Asui warbled, reaching out to prod at Midoriya’s arm. “You had us worried there for a little while.”

“Are you completely cleared by Recovery Girl?” fretted Uraraka, as she too gently grasped Midoriya’s wrist to turn his hand this way and that. Midoriya’s face burned, the touch rendering him temporarily speechless.

“Ah—I—ye—o—“

“Yeo? Who?” Kirishima interjected. “Anyway, look, Bakugou! Your childhood friend’s back, aren’t you even kinda relieved?”

Midoriya looked up in time to catch Kacchan’s sneer before he stomped out of the classroom. Kirishima winced. “Ah, well, I thought I’d try. I mean, everyone was shocked with what happened. Did anyone tell you, Midoriya? The fights still went on, and the final round was between Bakugou and Todoroki.”

“Is your brain as dense as your Quirk? Isn’t that kind of insensitive?” Asui piped up, and punched Kirishima in the side.

“Um, no—it’s okay,” Midoriya said hastily. “I want to know what happened… after.”

“Er, well, Bakugou won,” Kirishima said quickly, rubbing at his side, and their classmates shifted uneasily. “And, um, that’s it.”

“Okay…?” Midoriya replied, waiting for more. “But what else—?”

“Midoriya,” Iida said suddenly, “might we begin walking to the cafeteria? I know you are healed up, but maintaining your stamina with proper nutrition is a must. The same goes for all of us.”

“Hear, hear, class prez!” Ashido piped up from where she’d been standing, and barreled past Aoyama to be the first one out the door. The others followed, amiably talking amongst themselves.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea for Deku to hear about the rest of the competition,” Uraraka whispered to Iida, the boy bending down slightly to hear her better.

“I agree, of course.” Iida folded his arms contemplatively. “The whole ordeal itself was emotionally distressing to him, without him being reminded constantly of it. I will have to speak with our class to be sure no one brings it up just yet.”

“I don’t even want to think what would happen if he and Todoroki get anywhere near each other.” Uraraka shuddered, a deep frown settling on her face. “What he did to Deku was absolutely horrible! First Bakugou’s nasty attitude, and now Todoroki! Deku deserves way better than this!”

“Speaking of Bakugou,” Iida said, and Uraraka quieted immediately, looking down at her shoes. “Uraraka… I believe Midoriya would want to know of the outcome of your fight with Bakugou, at least.”

“You’re right,” she said quietly, looking up. “I want Midoriya to know that I... lost.” Uraraka turned, looking for Midoriya at the back of their small group. She froze mid step.

“Um. Iida?”

“Yes?”

“Where is Deku?”

Chapter Text

One moment, Midoriya was listening to Asui and Ashido cheerfully argue on what they thought Lunch Rush had cooked for lunch today. The next thing he knew, Midoriya felt a tiny current run through his body and toppled over when a hand suddenly reached out and grasped his wrist, quickly tugging him around and behind a corner.

“One thing’s for sure, there’ll be a steaming pile of fresh white rice!” Ashido’s voice floated through the hallway as the group quickly stepped further and further away, unknowingly leaving Midoriya looking into serious, mismatched colored eyes.

“T-todo—Todo—T—dodo—“

“Dodo?” Todoroki repeated, frowning in consternation.

“I mean—Todoroki! What—what are—“

“Oh. I… I just needed to talk to you.” It took them both a moment to realize they were nearly cross eyed with the effort of looking at each other, and Todoroki hastily stepped back from where he had crowded Midoriya against the wall. “Ah, sorry—“

“No, no, it’s okay!” chattered Midoriya, the red on his face darkening almost violently. Todoroki looked away, rubbing the back of his neck. “W-what did you…?”

“…It’s about what happened during the fight,” Todoroki said, and immediately the mood darkened. Midoriya’s embarrassment tapered off into the same sadness he had been feeling since the sports festival.

“Oh.” The fight. Obviously.

“Right.” Todoroki cleared his throat, uncharacteristically hesitant, and Midoriya resisted the urge to dart away while he wasn’t looking. “It wasn’t the best moment to find out that we were… what we are.”

“Soulmates. Soulmates, right?” Midoriya looked up, suddenly emboldened. “You made it pretty clear that I wasn’t your first choice. At all. Ever. I… I didn’t think you would want to talk to me after that.” Midoriya had to clench his hand into a fist to stop his fingers from visibly trembling. Man, he hated confrontation.

“…you’re right. I still stand by what I said.” Todoroki winced as Midoriya glared at him, and Midoriya cursed himself for tearing up again at a time like this. “But it came out wrong—listen, Midoriya, there’s a lot more at stake here than having a soulmate, and it’s something you have to understand.”

“I get it,” Midoriya said exasperatedly. “There’s no way you would ever want someone so closely connected to All Might as your soulmate, right?”

“That’s not—“

“No, you listen!” Midoriya stepped forward until Todoroki was the one stepping away. The half-cold half-hot user looked startled, and Midoriya himself couldn’t help but wonder where his own confidence was coming from. “The second I thought I had a soulmate, I was so, so excited! Here, I thought, was someone just for me. Even though people always told me I’d never have one, there you were!”

Todoroki blanched, eyes riveted on Midoriya’s own teary ones.

“And to think that my soulmate was Todoroki Shouto. Todoroki Shouto! Everyone thinks of you as the strongest in class, and I couldn’t believe you were mine.” Midoriya blushed at the admission, and his eyes dropped to stare at his shoes rather than see Todoroki’s reaction. “So for a second, I really thought that we could get to know each other, a-and have all of high school to grow together and we’d become so strong…”

“Midoriya…”

“And—no, never mind! Forget it!” Midoriya’s face felt as if were on fire once more, and he moved as if to step away. Ahh, I’m panicking again! It would be better to just leave already—stop talking, me! “It just sucks that you hate me, I guess—“

Again, Todoroki grabbed for Midoriya, firmly wrapping a hand around both arms and tugging him close until Midoriya had to lean back and tilt his head in order to see Todoroki properly.

Midoriya. I don’t hate you.”

“Oh,” Midoriya replied weakly.

“But, I… I still can’t… accept being soulmates—damn, wait, I’m saying it all wrong again.” Frustrated, Todoroki leaned back against the wall, which meant Midoriya had to lean with him, ultimately ending up with his cheek resting against Todoroki’s chest.

Eep—!!!” squeaked Midoriya. Todoroki seemed to come to a realization at the sound, face turning cherry red as he became fully aware of what he was doing.

“Woah, wha—“ Midoriya experienced a moment of vertigo as he was once again manhandled into standing a safe arm’s distance away from Todoroki, whose hands rested heavily on Midoriya’s shoulders. Keeping away but preventing him from leaving, Midoriya supposed dizzily.

“I don’t know why—Sorry, I have no idea—“

“It’s okay,” Midoriya mumbled, and absently wondered if his face was redder than Todoroki’s. “Er, I think it’s ‘cause of the connection.”

“You’re right,” Todoroki admitted, still looking anywhere but at Midoriya. “Just being close to you… I feel stronger somehow. Even when we’re in the same room. Being this close just makes it more… But, um, that’s just how it’s meant to be, I guess.”

“You too?” Midoriya said, looking up at him in surprise. “I’d heard about what the effects of having a soul mate would be on a person’s Quirk, but I’d never realized it would feel… this good…” Wow, way to go Izuku, Midoriya berated himself as both boys glanced away again, too embarrassed to look at each other. “G-good as in, the feeling! Feeling, as in, like, strength! Strength is what I meant!” Oh my god.

“I—I know,” Todoroki replied, visibly struggling to maintain an air of dignity. “But that’s exactly what I had to talk to you about. Look, I—“

The sound of students coming down the other hallway reached their ears, distracting them both. Midoriya ducked further away from the main hallway, looking around for a place to hide. Irrationally, he didn’t want to be seen with Todoroki—but after the spectacle they’d made of themselves during the competition, there was no doubt that they were a topic of gossip among the rest of the school. Apparently, Todoroki felt the same way, eyes flicking around for somewhere out of sight.

“Damn it, I can’t stop thinking about that fight! I swear, I was this close to winning!”

“If I recall, it was a solid tie, Tetsutetsu. You were both out cold. Anyway, didn’t the arm wrestling match decide that the true winner was—“

“But that’s that and this is that!”

“…Alright then.”

Class B, Midoriya thought, panicked. Of all the classes, of course it had to be them! Without thinking, Midoriya reached up and grabbed the back of Todoroki’s head, bringing his head down to shield him with Midoriya’s back facing the hallway entrance. Which would have been better, of course, had Todoroki not been taller than him. As it was, Todoroki was bent over at an awkward angle, hands now gripping Midoriya’s forearms for balance.

“Mmph—“ Todoroki protested.

“Midoriya?”

Both boys froze, and Midoriya attempted to turn his head as far back as he could, peeking behind himself with one eye.

“Oh, H-Hatsume!” Midoriya could make out three of the students from class B loitering behind them, looking at him curiously.

“I thought it was you! Say, who’s that?” The inventor girl’s eyes flashed as she no doubt attempted to zoom in on Midoriya’s companion. Fortunately, with Todoroki’s eye-catching hair covered by Midoriya, his uniform was just as generic as any other male student.

“Um. It’s… no one. It’s no one.”

“Yeah, right,” an angry looking boy said, and Midoriya recognized him as Tetsutetsu. “It’s gotta be Todoroki Shouto.”

“Why would they be together?” Hatsume hissed, obviously trying to go unheard by Midoriya—in vain, of course, and Midoriya’s ears burned with embarrassment.

“Who else would it be?”

“It’s not! It’s not him,” Midoriya said hastily, and Todoroki’s grip tightened. Was Todoroki mad? Was Midoriya suffocating him? Todoroki was probably mad. Oh, man, Midoriya thought despairingly.

“So it… isn’t?” Shiozaki piped up, and her vines seemed to move in surprise. “Oh, goodness…”

Only then did Midoriya realize what he had implied. “Er…”

“We’re intruding on an obviously emotionally distressing moment,” Shiozaki said, graciously ushering her classmates down the other hallway and away from Midoriya and his rapidly rising dread. “I’m so sorry for intruding, I hope everything turns out well.” And with a last mournful glance at Midoriya and his supposedly devastated lover, she walked away and out of sight. Midoriya could hear the three whispering among themselves, and he was already imagining what the rumors would sound like.

“Midoriya Izuku has had a secret boyfriend all this time, who is now heartbroken by the appearance of Midoriya’s true soulmate,” came Todoroki’s deadpan voice, muffled by the fabric of Midoriya’s uniform. There was a snort, and Midoriya’s eyes widened in surprise.

“Did you just… Are you… laughing?”

“No. Now let go of me.”

Midoriya hastily released his hold on Todoroki’s head, and the other boy straightened up, hair distressingly mussed. “What made you think that that was a good idea?”

“I don’t know!” Midoriya replied, covering his face with his hands. “I just thought that we shouldn’t be seen so that we didn’t add more for people to talk about, and now I made it worse!”

Todoroki looked torn between irritation and bemusement, ending up looking away and attempting to smooth his hair back to normal. “Well either way, who knows what the rumor mill’s going to come up with this time. I don’t even know what they were saying about us being soulmates in the first place—“

Both he and Midoriya stilled, once again sobered by the topic. It’s always when us being soulmates comes up, Midoriya thought bitterly. If he says he doesn’t hate me because of All Might, then why…?

Todoroki sighed, seemingly frustrated. With Midoriya or himself, Midoriya wasn’t sure. “What you said about strength earlier… it’s true. Especially when we have contact, it’s as if there’s this influx of power, and I feel like I can call up twice as much of my Quirk than usual.”

Midoriya nodded. “It’s the same for me. I never knew how much stronger I would feel afterwards… and it took me until our fight to realize exactly why.”

“For me, the first instance was on the beach,” Todoroki said, staring speculatively at him. “That’s why I asked you if you were there doing community service. It was early morning, and I was going for a jog when the first connection hit.”

“I remember!” Midoriya gasped. “I turned around, and there was ice! You even burnt the wall a bit!”

“Well,” Todoroki said, looking slightly embarrassed, “no one can really expect what the repercussions of the first connection will be. How did it affect you? When I was looking at you, I couldn’t really see anything.”

Midoriya blanched as he realized that when the first connection had appeared, he had most likely still been Quirkless at the time. “I… um. It was bad. Yeah.”

Todoroki stared at him expectantly.

“Very… bad. But that doesn’t explain why you’re so against being soulmates if you don’t hate me!” Midoriya said, countering Todoroki’s questioning look with a glare of his own.

“Ah.” Todoroki frowned. “You see, I don’t mind that it’s you. I would have been against having anyone at all as a soulmate.”

“What? Why?”

“You already know my history with my father.” Todoroki scowled, a hand coming up to tap at the edge of his scar. “Like I said, I was only ever born to fulfill his twisted idea of being number one through his son—“

“But I told you! Your father—“

“Isn’t me, my Quirk isn’t his,” Todoroki interjected. “I remember what you said very well. And I know it’s true.” Todoroki lifted his left hand, and Midoriya could already feel heat radiating from his palm. “But up until now, I’ve never used my left side in battle. In other words, I have next to no control over the fire, and to have it suddenly amplified by so much…”

Midoriya’s eyes were wide as he realized exactly what Todoroki was saying. “You can’t control it, so you’re afraid of what it could do…”

“Basically, yeah.” Todoroki reached forward to gently place a hand against Midoriya’s, both of them watching as Todoroki’s grew red with warmth from his Quirk. “It’s as if it’s already fighting to explode, just being here with you. Imagine if we were to fight together— it feels like I could burn down an entire city.” His face darkened, and Todoroki moved to pull his hand away.

Suddenly, Midoriya’s hands came up to grab at Todoroki’s, preventing any distance. “It’s alright to be afraid! Don’t you think I’ve thought about that? I can’t even use my Quirk without breaking my bones, and I don’t even wanna think about what would happen if it was amplified.”

Todoroki paled as he thought over it too. “Then don’t you realize why we can’t be soulmates?”

“Newsflash, Todoroki! It already happened! And don’t you know of how many other powerful heroes work with their soulmates? This has been around for so long. We can learn to control our Quirks, even when we’re together!” Midoriya was almost breathless, and looked at Todoroki imploringly. “Isn’t it scarier to deal with it alone? We could learn to control our Quirks together. And g-get to know each other too.”

As Todoroki opened his mouth to reply, the bell signaling the end for lunch rang, and they could already hear the murmur of voices as students made their way back to their classes from the cafeteria. Midoriya frowned, disappointed when Todoroki looked away. But just as he was about to turn and leave, a cool hand against his cheek made him pause. Midoriya blushed, hardly able to meet Todoroki’s eyes.

“Maybe… maybe you’re right. About this, too.” Now it was Todoroki whose cheeks were quickly turning pink. “I haven’t—this doesn’t resolve my concern, but maybe we… can work to address it. Together.”

Midoriya could only continue to stare at him in shock, and Todoroki ducked away, hands falling at his sides.

“Maybe. So… yeah. Maybe. I’m, um, going to go ahead.”

Todoroki was around the corner and out of sight before Midoriya came to his senses. He pressed his hands to his face, feeling his earlier hopelessness fade away to be replaced growing delight. I could have—we could still be—!

His stomach growled. “Ah, I didn’t get to eat lunch…” Midoriya noted absently, still staring after Todoroki. “Oh well.”

Chapter Text

Midoriya beamed at him, and for a second Todoroki was left feeling dumbstruck. He felt a light squeeze around his hand and gave a small one in return, letting himself enjoy the warm feeling of Midoriya’s palm against his own. It’s almost a shock to for Todoroki to realize that he was smiling as well, a slight upturn of the lips that belied his true happiness at just being there with Midoriya. He wasn’t exactly sure where, however… Todoroki tried to pull his eyes away from Midoriya’s in order to look around and remember where exactly they were again.

“Shouto?” Midoriya asked questioningly, and Todoroki’s smile grew as he melted a little on the inside.

“Yes?” Todoroki said almost dreamily, left hand sluggishly coming up to cradle Midoriya’s cheek, much like he did yesterday in the hallway. “What is it?”

“You would never hurt me… right?”

The question had Todoroki nearly rearing back in surprise, but now Midoriya had a hand over Todoroki’s, keeping him in place. Midoriya tilted his head against Todoroki’s palm, eyes staring at him questioningly. Todoroki felt a prickle of unease, leaving him suddenly feeling much too close for comfort.

“I would never,” he replied adamantly, making at effort to push aside his foreboding. “That’s the last thing I would ever do.”

“Then why?” Midoriya began to tear up, and Todoroki was yet again frozen in confusion.

“…Why what?”

“Why did you do this to me?”

The near whisper was lost in the ensuing roar of fire that erupted from Todoroki’s hand. Horrified, he tried to pull back and away, panicking when it proved to be in vain. His hand was stuck to Midoriya’s face as if cemented there, and Todoroki could only watch, aghast, as Midoriya was consumed by bright, angry flames.

Midoriya!

“Shouto!” Midoriya cried, clutching at his face. His nails dug into Todoroki’s wrist, and Todoroki screamed, trying to press his right hand against his left in an attempt to negate the heat violently burning them both.

No no no no no!

Shouto!

Todoroki wheezed as his back hit the floor beside his bed, bright lights twinkling at the edge of his vision. “Shit…”

Disoriented, Todoroki sat up as he rubbed his now-sore neck, glaring reproachfully at his bed. The wrinkled sheets stared back at him innocently, the blanket steadily sliding off until it pooled into a lumpy heap on his lap.

“Damn,” he said, rubbing the last dregs of sleep from his eyes. The dream still sat fresh in his mind, and he fought off the remaining feeling of panic still lingering at the edges of his consciousness. It didn’t happen. It didn’t happen. Midoriya is safe.

Todoroki stood shakily, allowing the blanket to fall away to the floor. The digital clock next to his bed told him it was barely five in the morning, and the harsh light of the illuminated numbers stung his eyes. “We can learn to control our Quirks, even when we’re together,” Todoroki mumbled as his hands flexed agitatedly at his sides. He thought back to steady green eyes and warm hands. “We can control it.”

-

Midoriya bounced on the heels of his feet, craning his neck to look over the crowd of students sleepily ambling towards their classrooms. After his talk with Todoroki during lunch, Midoriya had been incredibly eager to see and talk to his soulmate again—but the other had left immediately at the sound of the last bell, leaving Midoriya agitatedly wondering if Todoroki was talking himself out of giving the soulmate thing a try again. Midoriya chirped out a cheerful hello to some of his classmates as they walked past him into their classroom, waving off their quizzical looks. He wasn’t sure if he was going to be able to explain, and he didn’t want to fuel anymore rumors. First period hadn’t even started, and Midoriya had gotten more than one concerned or sly look from another student from a different class. Midoriya had a hunch that it either had to do with a) Todoroki, or b) Todoroki and Midoriya’s supposed secret (and heartbroken) boyfriend. Either way, he was doing his best to ignore it all.

“Move, Deku.”

Bakugou’s snide voice caught Midoriya’s attention, and he flinched like usual when he turned to meet Kacchan’s surly glare.

“G-good morning, Kacchan,” Midoriya said, quickly stepping aside to make space for his volatile childhood friend. Bakugou gave a loud harrumph in response, shouldering Midoriya aside even with the extra room. Near him, Midoriya heard a frantic explosion of hissed whispering, and met eyes with an unfamiliar group of first years gawking at him and Kacchan’s retreating back.

“Nice to see he’s as friendly as usual,” came a cool voice from Midoriya’s right, and he turned to meet Todoroki’s careful stare.

“Todoroki!” Midoriya said, pleased that his soulmate (soulmate!) had finally shown up. “Good morning!”

“Morning.” Midoriya liked to imagine that Todoroki looked a tiny bit pleased too, as much as he could with the dark circles under his eyes. In fact, Todoroki looked pretty exhausted, Midoriya noted with dismay.

“Did you get enough sleep?” Midoriya asked worriedly, a hand automatically coming up to rub at one of the rings under Todoroki’s eyes. Todoroki stood still, allowing it for a moment, before his hand came up to gently tug Midoriya’s wrist away.

“Ye… no. No, I didn’t.” Todoroki cleared his throat, and it felt to Midoriya like his mind was a thousand miles away. “I had a bad dream.”

“Oh? What was it?”

Now Todoroki looked extra pained, and Midoriya’s concern skyrocketed.

“I’d really rather not talk about it,” Todoroki admitted, and Midoriya nodded frantically in understanding.

“Of course, of course, sorry,” he replied hastily. There was a sudden awkward tension between the two of them, and Midoriya casted his eyes around for anything else to focus on. “Um…”

“Did… did you sleep alright?” Todoroki said hesitantly, and Midoriya perked up. He was a little touched to see the tips of Todoroki’s ears turning red, and that he was at least making some effort to speak with Midoriya too.

“Yes! I—I mean, I was a little excited to come to school today, but I did get a good amount of sleep,” Midoroya answered, beaming. Todoroki seemed to blink as if adjusting to harsh light, and Midoriya looked at him quizzically.

“That’s good,” Todoroki said, finally choosing to look away. “We… we should probably get into class.”

“O-oh! Right!” Midoroya turned to slide the door open for the both of them, before suddenly wheeling around. He found himself suddenly nose to nose with Todoroki, somewhat pinned between him and the door.

“Oh!” they said in unison, and Todoroki took a step back. “Sorry, I thought you were—“

“Oh, yeah, no, I’ll go inside in a second!” Midoriya chattered. “I was just wondering if you’d eat lunch with me today!”

“Lunch?” Todoroki parroted, looking confused, then apprehensive. “With. You.”

“Yeah! Well, I mean, not just me. I eat with Uraraka and Iida, and they’re great! It would really mean a lot to me if you’d come…”

Todoroki seemed to waver, the unsure look on his face melting under Midoriya’s hopeful stare. “Yes. Alright, I’ll have lunch with you.”

“Great!” Satisfied, Midoriya turned and slid the door open, blatantly choosing to ignore the curious looks they drew from some of their classmates as they entered. “Did you happen to have the first part of your notes from first period yesterday? I’m missing some information…”

-

Eating lunch with Midoriya and the others felt surreal. The first time it happened, Todoroki sat ill at ease and ramrod straight with posture rivaling the class president’s—who, by the way, seemed just as unsure as Todoroki when it came to dealing with the entire thing. Uraraka looked dubious at first, eyeing Todoroki with a mixture of confusion and unease, until her bubbly attitude got the best of her. Soon enough, she and Midoriya were beacons of shining, innocent light, cheerfully talking about the latest assignment, or the newest episode of some new show they were following, or even some of the heroes. It was then that Midoriya stopped being self-conscious, and it became apparent to Todoroki that Midoriya was an actual chatterbox when it came to fanboying about all the superheroes ever known to man. Sometimes, he would even turn to Todoroki for a second opinion as well, nodding eagerly at Todoroki’s curt answers as if he’d just presented them an entirely new tidbit of information.

Iida even thawed out as well, dutifully chattering on about some issue or another, drawing Todoroki in with pointed but well-meaning questions, sagely leaning back to digest whatever input Todoroki was able to give that day. (Which wasn’t usually much, but then again, Todoroki was never one to just talk on.)

Midoriya was clearly making an effort to get to know Todoroki better, calling out greetings at the beginning and the end of school days, or attempting to draw Todoroki into a conversation. Todoroki couldn’t help but appreciate the chance to get to know a Midoriya in his comfort zone, and even looked forward to times when he could listen to Midoriya guilelessly chatter about heroes, or even better, All Might (which was endless).

He would even talk to Todoroki about his Quirk, no matter how adverse Todoroki initially felt regarding the topic.

“There aren’t any other recordings of people with half-and-half Quirks, as far as I know!” Midoriya had said, leaning forward interestedly and propping up a notebook between them. “But it isn’t as if you’ve gotten just half of each power. You could say that you’re twice as powerful as any one of us!”

“I know,” Todoroki replied bluntly. Midoriya paused, looking up at Todoroki thoughtfully.

“I know you’re still worried about it being amplified…” Midoriya began meekly. “But like I said, we’ll learn to control it. Together, right?”

In lieu of a response, Todoroki had looked down, trying to stave off the blush he knew was oncoming. It was then that he saw Midoriya’s notes meticulously scribbled onto the notebook before them, detailing information of Todoroki’s Quirk that he’d probably gathered from school exercises and the sports festival (something inside Todoroki flinched guiltily), and beside them was a (slightly rough) drawing of Todoroki himself.

It was Midoriya’s turn to become flustered then, quickly attempting to cover his notebook. “Sorry, wait—I changed my mind, don’t look at that!”

(Now Todoroki was left feeling much too curious than was necessary—he still wanted to know what else Midoriya had written about him.)

More often than not, Todoroki found his hand twitching toward Midoriya, but to do what, Todoroki wasn’t sure. The itch to touch Midoriya was always there, lying underneath his skin, almost in tune with the hum of power Todoroki felt anytime he was anywhere near Midoriya. The other boy had to be feeling it too, as Todoroki would sometimes catch him reaching over to link their hands, only to reel back, looking confused for a second. Sometimes, it seemed as if Midoriya brushed hands with him unintentionally, almost unconsciously drawn to the same pull that tugged Todoroki towards Midoriya as well.

Power. Strength, the connection seemed to say. Home. Comfort.

Despite himself, Todoroki really did find himself sinking into a sense of comfort, as seeing Midoriya slowly became an everyday occurrence that he truly began to look forward to.

After a few lunchtimes spent with their new addition, the group settled into an easy rapport. If Iida and Uraraka still had doubts about Todoroki, they were well hidden, and while Todoroki was still stiff with his interactions, he felt that it wasn’t something that bothered the others much.

“Aw man,” Uraraka groaned, as she plopped down onto the cafeteria bench and set her tray down with a clatter. “I got my essay back, and this time I barely passed! Normally I do fine with these kinds of things, but the topic this time around was just too tough!”

“Agreed,” Iida said. “It took me many hours of revision to get the message I wanted to convey exactly the way I wanted it.”

Todoroki raised his eyebrows at Midorya when he didn’t pitch in, and Midoriya merely shook his head almost embarrassedly. “I haven’t even looked at mine yet. Present Mic is pretty… flamboyant, but it turns out he grades pretty hard, huh?”

Todoroki opened his mouth to respond when someone bumped into his back, startling him into dropping his spoon onto the counter.

“Kacchan!” Midoriya said in surprise, a little bit of reproach creeping into his voice. Todoroki turned to see that it was the wild haired boy, looking just as surprised as the rest of them. It was short lived—Bakugou’s face twisted from slight surprise to distaste in a heartbeat.

“Can it, Deku. I didn’t bump into your girlfriend on purpose,” Bakugou sneered, attempting to rebalance his tray on one hand. “Raccoon eyes got in my way. Don’t think I’d go out of my way just for you.”

“What did you call me?” Todoroki said, voice low. Uraraka and Midoriya seemed to lean back a little, eyes bouncing between both boys apprehensively.

Iida sat even straighter (was that even possible?), his lips beginning to turn down sternly. “Hey, you two—“

“Girlfriend. That’s what you are, right?” Bakugou’s voice simmered, low and angry.

Todoroki thought he heard someone in the table next to them whisper “The love triangle!”

“Do you have a problem?” Todoroki asked, choosing to keep his full focus on Bakugou.

“Only with your shitty performance during the sports festival,” Bakugou replied through clenched teeth. Todoroki was surprised that Bakugou hadn’t resorted to yelling—yet. “I know it’s cause you were distracted, thanks to Deku. I want a rematch.”

“Then you’ll have to wait until the next sports festival for me to kick your ass.” Todoroki’s eyes were steely, and he stood so that he and Bakugou were eye to eye.

“Todoroki,” Midoriya whispered, looking around the cafeteria nervously. Todoroki felt a hand latch on to the back of his uniform and tug gently, coaxing him back into sitting down. “Don’t let him get to you, Kacchan’s just like this all the time. Sit down again before one of the teachers catches you guys!”

“Stuff it, idiot,” Bakugou snapped.

“Don’t talk to him like that.” Todoroki ignored the hand and struggled to maintain his poker face. “Your problem is with me, I don’t see why you have to keep dragging Midoriya into this.” He felt more irritated that he would usually be. Who the hell did Bakugou think he was? Who cares if Todoroki botched up one fight? He had other things to think about back then. And what the heck was ’Kacchan’ all about? Todoroki scowled, becoming more irate.

“Wouldn’t you like to know,” Bakugou growled. An apple fell from his tray. They ignored it. (Iida seemed vexed at the blatant waste of perfectly good food.)

“Kacchan!” Midoriya snapped, and Bakugou wheeled on him, teeth bared.

What, Deku—“

Todoroki leaned to intercept him, both boys nearly bumping heads. Bakugou snarled, his one free hand beginning to raise into a fist.

“Alright, that is enough.”

The entire cafeteria seemed to freeze, everyone’s eyes flicking over to Aizawa, who stood imperiously over Midoriya’s table.

“I hope you aren’t going to be making me use my Quirk to stop some stupid spat, are you?” their homeroom teacher grumbled. His bloodshot eyes were narrowed in warning.

“No,” Bakugou said, surly. His hand came down to rest against his tray again, and Midoriya sighed audibly.

“Whatever this is, I don’t want it happening anywhere inside this school again, is that understood?” Aizawa scowled mightily. “Don’t be so childish. If you need to blow off some steam, then wait until afternoon classes. We’re having another practical Quirk skills sparring session. So wait until then. That means you, Bakugou.”

Bakugou let out a low grumble that might have been an affirmation, and Todoroki sat back down, his entire body simmering with his Quirk. Midoriya placed a soothing hand on his wrist under the table, and Todoroki resisted the urge to pull away. Physical contact just made the flare of power even worse.

The crowd that Todoroki hadn’t even realized gathered around them dispersed, people murmuring to themselves.

“I know that this couldn’t possibly be true because I know what Bakugou is like,” Uraraka piped up suddenly, “but people are talking about how he’s angry at you because you’re Midoriya’s soulmate.”

“What?” Todoroki said, confused. Midoriya echoed it, frowning in consternation.

“Kacchan wouldn’t care. The only reason he might be mad is because he always thought I’d never get a soulmate…” Midoriya paused, looking down thoughtfully. “Maybe he thought he’d get one first?”

“That’s exactly it!” Uraraka said, pointing a finger. “You call him Kacchan and stuff! I never like to listen to rumors, but like… they’re saying they saw you hugging some boy in the hallway a while ago!” Uraraka looked deflated now, and almost disappointed. “I was kinda waiting for you to tell us about it…”

Todoroki and Midoriya blushed.

“That’s not… we were just talking,” Todoroki said, rubbing the back of his neck. “Class B came down the hall, and we thought we shouldn’t feed rumors. If someone saw us by ourselves, we weren’t sure what they’d think, especially with what happened after the sports festival.”

“I tried to hide him…” Midoriya mumbled sheepishly. Uraraka reached forward to pat his hand sympathetically.

“Well, I myself try to avoid the grapevine,” Iida said, dabbing at his lips neatly. “But even I know that people are speculating that the boy Midoriya was with was Bakugou, considering that they were childhood friends… I mean, as unbelievable as that may be, with how Bakugou is like.” Iida frowned again in disapproval.

Midoriya groaned, and Todoroki felt some part of him echo the sound.

“Ridiculous,” he muttered.

“Yeah, well, that’s just what people are saying,” Uraraka sighed over the sound of the warning lunch bell ringing. “It’s best to ignore it, and it’ll go away.” She beamed at the both of them as they all stood, gathering their lunch trays together. “But I am so glad that everything ended up working out just fine!”

“Yes!” Midoriya said cheerfully. Todoroki nodded in agreement, trying to ignore the part of him that still twinged uncertainly.

As they began to leave the cafeteria, Todoroki felt warm fingers entwine with his and looked down to see unruly hair and ears red with embarrassment.

“You don’t have to worry about Kacchan. It doesn’t bother me. I am sorry that he acted that way towards you though,” Midoriya said, still looking down at his shoes shyly.

Why are you the one apologizing? Todoroki wanted to ask, feeling unsettled. You shouldn’t even bother with him anymore. The childhood friends thing is over. Stupid rumor.

Then, Why am I so bugged about this?

-

“Alright, then!” All Might boomed, standing proudly with his hands on his hips. Beside him, Aizawa slouched carelessly, a clipboard hanging loosely from his hands. “I do believe it is time for you to test your skills against one another! Unlike the one-on-one during the sports festival, this will have a few more limitations. But much like your first battle training, you’ll be pitted against one another in pairs once again!”

“This will test your teamwork and ability to think under pressure,” Aizawa drawled. “As per usual. It’s two on two this time, so we’ll be drawing lots to see which team goes against which team again.”

Todoroki glanced around as his classmates murmured amongst themselves. He’d already noticed that the teachers were taking no chances with security—Thirteen was there like before, standing off to the side with Present Mic. Todoroki was sure that there were others outside the practice hall as well. Everyone was still antsy about the attack at the USJ. Midoriya looked both excited and nervous at once, looking to All Might for reassurance.

Speaking of Midoriya… Todoroki wasn’t surprised when he and Midoriya weren’t paired up together.

“It’s no wonder,” Midoriya said resignedly. He’d been paired up with Yaoyorozu for Team A, who had looked less than thrilled. Todoroki was teamed with Tokoyami (Team B). “I still have to get used to my own Quirk without breaking any bones, so…”

“The same goes for me,” Todoroki replied, looking down at his left hand. Allowing Midoriya to entwine their hands was almost second nature to them both, and Todoroki relished in the coolness of Midoriya’s palm against his left hand. He should probably be worried about what… this all meant. After all, they hadn’t even established what they really were to each other yet. Well… besides soulmates. Was there a system to this? Shouldn’t they go on their first date to break the ice, or did being soulmates negate that kind of stuff? Todoroki winced inwardly. He was crap at talking things out, especially when it came to intimate feelings.

“And the first sparring match up of the day! Team B versus Team D!”

“Good luck,” Midoriya said, giving his hand one last squeeze.

As he walked up to the sparring circle, Todoroki had a flashback of the one-on-one matches and shuddered.

“What’s the matter, half-and-half? Off your game already?”

Todoroki sighed and resisted the urge to glance at Midoriya, who he knew was already blanching with apprehension. Bakugou. Of course.

“Team D?” Todoroki asked aimlessly, more to just say something than get an actual answer.

Bakugou let out a growl, glaring across at Todoroki with fiery eyes. “We’re getting our rematch after all.”

“Yay.”

“Aw, quit acting like a tough guy, Bakugou!” Kirishima said as he eagerly stepped in. “This is just a friendly match. Good luck, you two! But watch out, cause we’re in it to win it!”

Todoroki nodded a greeting as Tokoyami took his place next to him. His classmate’s beak struck an imposing figure, and it bobbed as Tokoyami acknowledged him. The shadow waved.

“Be fair boys!” All Might thundered cheerily, ever-present smile plastered on his face. Though no one could really see All Might’s eyes, Todoroki had the feeling that he was looking right at Bakugou as he spoke. “You’ve got two minutes. A hit is a point for the team. Excessive violence will not be tolerated! Really take this time to quickly assess your ally and learn how their strengths could complement yours. And without further ado… begin!”

Barely a second had passed before Todoroki heard a roar, and Bakugou launched himself across the ring, explosions lighting up behind him.

“Way to work as a team!” Todoroki heard Kirishima say irritably, coughing from the dust left in Bakugou’s wake. And then Todoroki leapt aside, narrowly avoiding being socked in the face by a literal rocket punch.

Bakugou tsked loudly, attempting to twist in Todoroki’s direction for another go. There was a blur of black, and Tokoyami sent Bakugou flying in the opposite direction, where he collided painfully with Kirishima. Both boys cursed loudly, Bakugou injecting a surprising combination of colorful words.

“Language!” hollered All Might.

Todoroki glanced at Tokoyami thoughtfully as he crouched low in preparation, trying to think of the best way to utilize their Quirks together.

“Just a thought,” Tokoyami said, voice low, “but with Bakugou’s explosions, my shadow Quirk is rendered useless. If you can neutralize him, I can follow up—and I can block Kirishima.”

“Right,” Todoroki said. He lifted both hands up, and his Quirk manifested immediately. The same tingling he associated with his connection with Midoriya was still there too—but not so apparent since Midoriya wasn’t right next to him.

“And,” continued Tokoyami, glancing at Todoroki’s left hand, “the light from your fire could affect my Quirk as well. Just so you know.”

“Ah.” Todoroki extinguished his flame sheepishly. I’ll have another chance to practice with it again soon, Todoroki thought. But for now…

“He—lo!” Kirishima called out gaily. “It isn’t very nice to ignore your opponents!”

“DIE!”

“Aw, Bakugou, I told you to wait, dammit—!”

Bakugou let out a string of explosions, and their light and the blowback of smoke and dust stung Todoroki and Tokoyami’s eyes. Todoroki hissed, temporarily blinded.

Go go go go!” Bakugou screamed, and Tokoyami cried out as Kirishima leapt out of the smoke, arm raised.

Todoroki only had time to erect a wall of ice between them, and there was a loud crack as Kirishima’s hand struck straight through the barrier. Kirishima yelped and braced his feet against the ice to tug his hand back. “C-cold!”

“Outta the way!” Bakugou yelled, leaping forward. Tokoyami darted behind him, and with another sweep of his shadow, sent Bakugou flying right into Kirishima and the ice wall.

“Not-fucking-again!” Bakugou cursed, demolishing what was left of the ice with an explosion. Kirishima wobbled to stand next to him, rubbing at his head.

“Damn, these guys have the advantage of long range Quirks!”

“So do I,” Bakugou snarled, and Todoroki remembered the horrific cannon weapons at the ends of his arms.

“Duck!” Todoroki yelled.

“How rude, I’m not a—oh, wait. Right.” Tokoyami swiftly crouched low as Bakugou let loose a an explosion. Thankfully, this time it wasn’t as large as the one Bakugou had sent Midoriya’s way during their first battle training, but it was enough to leave a sizable hole in the cement of the ring.

“Bakugou…” All Might’s voice boomed warningly.

“Yeah, okay, fine!”

Kirishima took the distraction as a chance to leap forward and swing at Tokoyami, the solid knife hand swiping a nick into Tokoyami’s shoulder. The shadow moved forward, claws extended, and Kirishima darted under, ready to execute another punch.

Halfy!

Todoroki paid for his own momentary distraction by receiving a face full of Bakugou’s stupid explodo-fist, and he cursed himself inwardly for slipping up.

“One point!” Bakugou crowed.

Todoroki immediately attempted to raise another wall of ice, which Bakugou merely destroyed with a burst from his hand. Todoroki clicked his tongue. His left hand came up to strike Bakugou across the jaw with an ordinary punch. Nevertheless, it sent Bakugou stumbling off to the side, and both boys winced.

If I want to win, I’m going to have to use it. Tokoyami is busy with Kirishima, so I can utilize both Quirks against Bakugou right now.

He centered himself, trying to draw in the firepower he knew was simmering just under his skin. The tingling was there again, and it was growing at an alarming rate—but Todoroki attempted to ignore it as Bakugou turned for another swing, face contorted into a snarl.

Todoroki’s fiery left fist came up before he knew it, and connected with Bakugou’s in a violent explosion that sent both boys tumbling backwards.

Again! Todoroki scrambled up, letting the flames lick at his left arm, eyes narrowed in concentration. Another hit!

Bakugou let out an unintelligible howl in his rage, already pushing himself back upright.

“Bakugou!” Kirishima called, before twisting again to avoid Tokoyami’s shadow claws. “Ah, crap.”

“Twenty seconds!” boomed All Might, and the air between Bakugou and Todoroki was static with tension.

“Bye,” Bakugou said, snide, before he launched himself at Todoroki once again.

Todoroki snarled, allowing the flames on his left side to continue to grow until they had almost engulfed his entire arm, trying to draw out more and more power. His eyes were alight and his breath came out in puffs of smoke. More. More fire!

The inferno seemed to rage wildly in him, and Todoroki raised a fist in preparation, feeling as if lava was coursing through his veins.

Todoroki!” screamed a voice that definitely was not Bakugou’s.

Both boys stalled, startled, and Todoroki’s head swung to take in Midoriya, doubled over and shining with the light of his own Quirk. He was near the ring itself, probably having scrambled over at the first sign of their connection, and Thirteen was already striding towards him, arms raised to pick him up and away from the fighting area.

“Too much—!” Midoriya choked out, eyes panicked, and Todoroki felt the same fear echoed deep inside himself.

“Ah,” he yelped, alarmed, and attempted to rein in the fire—in vain. His Quirk seemed to act as if it had a mind of its own, steadily flowing from his arm to grow and rage around the ring. The harsh light from the flames cast flickering shadows onto Bakugou’s perplexed face, fists raised in defense and still popping with explosions.

“Get out of here!” Todoroki cried. As if in response to his distress, Todoroki’s fire raged upward, exploding, and the cries of the surrounding students scraped across his ears. He watched in horror as many of them were thrown backward—he couldn’t even see Bakugou anymore—and then, through the flames, Todoroki saw wide, green eyes.

Midoriya.

You would never hurt me, the Midoriya from his dream whispered in his ear, right?

Todoroki watched in muted horror as Midoriya was sent flying backwards, his hands coming up to shield his face. The fear felt like he had been dunked straight into a bucket full of ice and, as if placed in a sudden vacuum, the fire receded almost as quickly as it had been born, icicles quickly forming from Todoroki’s panicked breaths. The ring was scorched—but Todoroki could see Bakugou, Kirishima, and Tokoyami away from the ring, standing next to other students who had been pulled to safety by Aizawa.

His classmates were already standing, coughing and brushing dirt off of their hero uniforms, uninjured. But Todoroki’s heart wouldn’t settle until he found Midoriya, lying prone and unmoving some ways away from the ring. Thirteen had stood again, and had already resumed his course straight to Midoriya, white eyes wide.

“I burned him,” Todoroki whispered, stricken. “I hurt him. Again. I—Midoriya!” The name came out in a near scream, and Todoroki was scrambling to a hasty stop next to Midoriya’s side. His hand was there to lift Midoriya’s arm away from his face, and Todoroki nearly broke in relief when he saw that Midoriya’s face was dusty, but unscathed. He wouldn’t rest until he had checked Midoriya thoroughly for burns, turning the boy this way and that.

“Todoroki,” came Thirteen’s muffled voice, and the rescue hero placed a soothing hand on top of Todoroki’s head. “It’s alright. Look, he’s waking up.”

Todoroki looked to see that it was true. Midoriya was blinking blearily, already rubbing at his face as if wiping off sleep. “Gah.”

“Midoriya,” Todoroki breathed, and he bent down to wrap Midoriya in an uncharacteristic hug. He didn’t care—Midoriya wasn’t hurt. Todoroki hadn’t burned him.

Midoriya’s jaw dropped, and then he was warm for an entirely different reason. A blush scalded his face, and Midoriya looked around at their classmates and teachers embarrassedly.

Todoroki tightened his grip, uncaring. “Shit. I could have killed you—“

“What?” Midoriya leaned back, frowning. “No, you couldn’t have. I don’t know how weak you think I am, but I’ve survived worse things! Are you doing that blaming-doubting-can’t-use-my-Quirk-can’t-be-soulmates thing again?

“That was very long. And specific,” All Might rumbled.

It was then that Todoroki looked up right into All Might’s confident (but slightly concerned) face. Irrationally, his mind jumped back to the time he’d wondered if Midoriya was All Might’s illegitimate child.

Father-in-law, Todoroki thought blearily, then had to prevent himself from delivering a punch right to his own face. The relief was making him delirious.

“Whatever it is, be at ease, Todoroki. Practice battle sessions have seen worse days, and this little ordeal has ended up with…” All Might paused to dramatically count off his fingers. “Zero. Zero injuries. I got a little teary eyed from all the smoke, though, if you would like to count that one.” He laughed, mightily.

Todoroki breathed a little easier, letting a little bit of heat seep back into his icy breath.

“The risk is all apart of training. This is what it is to be a hero!” All Might beamed down at him, nodding sagely. “And while your overall control does need quite a bit of work, you were able to reign it in at the end. You are in the best place to learn and grow, Todoroki, my boy. Don’t let fear stunt your growth.”

-

Midoriya sat stiffly on a bench outside of the school, watching nervously as one or two leaves floated down from the tree above him.

Next to him, Todoroki sighed and leaned even closer—an amazing feat, really, as the boy had already been literally glued to Midoriya’s side before then.

Todoroki hadn’t left Midoriya’s side even once after they had changed back into their uniforms and left the classroom at the signal of the final bell. He hadn’t even reached out to link hands with Midoriya or anything. Todoroki had just been there, walking next to Midoriya wordlessly and settling down next to him when Midoriya had chosen to sit and figure what the heck was happening before he accidentally led Todoroki back to his house.

“Todoroki,” Midoriya said slowly, and the other boy let out a hum to show that he was listening. “What are you doing?”

There was a long silence, and Midoriya wondered if Todoroki had just chosen to ignore him.

“You scared me, you know.”

Midoriya jumped, startled. When he turned, his eyes met Todoroki’s steely ones, and he gulped.

“Did I? I-I’m sorry. I wasn’t playing possum or anything—“

“I know. I just mean… I was worried for you. I think I’ll always be worried for you. I hated myself for doing what I did during the sports festival.” Todoroki closed his eyes.

“Really?”

“Yeah, of course. I should have just realized that it was something we could work out… But today, I thought my greatest fear was coming true. That I’d hurt someone else with my Quirk.”

“But you didn’t! You controlled it!” Midoriya protested heatedly. “That’s the only reason why I’m fine. You need to give yourself a lot more credit, Todoroki.”

“Mm. Yeah, I see that.” Todoroki’s eyes opened to determinedly look over Midoriya as if to reaffirm that he really was still uninjured. Reassured, Todoroki leaned even further into Midoriya’s space, looking relaxed. Midoriya’s ears burned.

“I didn’t know the connection worked like that,” Midoriya mumbled, allowing himself to lean against Todoroki too. All this time forcing the courage to constantly grab Todoroki’s hand, and here he was, just flustered by being near him again.

“There’s a lot we still need to learn about the connection. And our Quirks.” Todoroki looked down thoughtfully. “All Might was right. This is the best place to do exactly that.”

Midoriya’s heart soared. “So you’re definitely okay with being soulmates then? You’re sticking with me?”

“Mhm.” Todoroki ducked his head to nose at Midoriya’s wild strands of hair, and Midoriya beamed, elated. “There’s still one thing I haven’t figured out, though.”

“What is it?” Midoriya asked, glancing up quizzically.

“Well… We’re soulmates. That in itself already says a lot. Spending time with you has been… really nice, actually. And I’m pretty sure we’re sticking together for all of time. Which means no secret boyfriends, or anything.”

“Todoroki!” Midoriya admonished, trying not to let his smile overtake his frown. “Don’t joke about that. I hope that rumor dies down soon.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Todoroki said almost airily, a smile already quirking up the corners of his mouth. “Another thing I was thinking about was what you said, about getting to know each other better. You’ve already done a lot to do that so…” Now Todoroki seemed uncertain, and Midoriya nodded encouragingly. “I mean, I’ve got to, too. So… like… a date…”

“Are you asking me out on a date?” Midoriya said, his usual flustered self rising up full force. He had to physically clutch at his arms to stop himself from covering his face in bashful glee.

“Ye—ahem. Yes,” Todoroki admitted.

“Oh. Well. Then. Yes. Yes, we should… do that,” Midoriya said stiltedly, looking down at his feet.

“Okay then.”

(Midoriya thought he saw a tumbleweed moving in the ensuing silence, but it was just Mineta’s head moving in the far distance as he was slapped across the courtyard by an angry girl.)

“We-ell!” Midoriya said desperately, reaching around for something to follow up that awkward conversation (that he had actually been dying to have for forever). “Time to go?”

“Yeah… Hey, Midoriya? Look at me.”

“Yeah, what is it?” Midoriya said, looking up. Two eyes, one dark and one light, filled his vision, before they closed, and Midoriya felt a soft press of lips against his own. Midoriya’s eyes widened, hands flying up to clutch at the sleeves of Todoroki’s uniform as Todoroki pressed one, two, three light kisses against Midoriya’s mouth.

“Um,” Todoroki said as he finally leaned back, face bright red. “Yeah. So that’s how it is. I’m… I’m going home now. See you.”

And he stood, leaving Midoriya staring at him wide eyed and stunned. Todoroki had taken two strides forward before he suddenly stopped. With a click of his tongue, Todoroki turned on his heel and was leaning down again to kiss Midoriya one more time, before he backed away again.

“Um. Goodbye for real, this time. See you tomorrow.”

“See… you…” Midoriya mumbled. Which went unheard, as Todoroki was already long past the school gate by then.

“He… k-kiss… k-k-k—!” Midoriya squeaked, pressing his fingers against his mouth. “Kissed—!“

Midoriya froze for a second, before he toppled over, straight off the bench and into the grass.

-

“You fought quite well today!” Iida said proudly, nodding down at Uraraka. She beamed at him excitedly.

“Thank you! You were amazing today, too!” She laced her fingers together and stretched her arms out in front of her. “I’m so glad we got to be partners this time. Imagine if we got to form a team with Deku during one of these exercises!”

Iida was still blushing and trying to recover from her earlier comment, and he cleared his throat noisily as he attempted to gather himself together. “I daresay we’d make an imposing team.”

“Right? I—“ Uraraka was cut off by the loud ring of Iida’s cell phone, and the bespectacled boy fished it out.

“Sorry,” he said apologetically, “but it’s my mother. You can go ahead if you’d like—I will see you tomorrow.”

“Alright! I wish I could wait and stay actually, but I really do need to get home.” Uraraka smiled at him as she turned to walk away, waving goodbye. “See you tomorrow!”

Iida smiled after her, letting the phone ring noisily in the empty hallway before he dutifully clicked answer.

“Hello?”

Anyone watching Iida’s face would have said his amiable calm expression raced off his face almost as fast as he did after listening to his mother’s strained voice over the line.

Chapter Text

Midoriya watched, transfixed as the flame flickered and danced on Todoroki’s palm. “Do you think you might be able to make shapes with it?”

The two were seated cross legged on the floor of one of the school’s practice gyms, relaxing in the patch of sunlight coming through the wide gap of the gymnasium’s open doors. Thirteen bustled around somewhere behind them in the gloom, having allowed them to stay and practice as the hero set up for the next day.

“I’m not sure,” Todoroki said contemplatively. “I haven’t tried yet. I’d like for it to just stay one size when I want it to.”

“That’s true.” Midoriya lifted a tentative finger to gauge the heat coming off of it. Todoroki frowned and gently nudged Midoriya’s hand away.

“Careful.”

“I know, I know,” Midoriya said, abashed. “Sorry. It’s just really amazing. Did you know my dad breathes fire?”

“Your… dad?” Todoroki echoed, and Midoriya thought for a second that Todoroki seemed a little too surprised.

“Yeah?”

“Oh.” Todoroki fidgeted, closing his hand and letting the fire wink out of existence. “I just… I know that this is going to sound ridiculous, but before we became soulmates, I thought that maybe you were All Might’s illegitimate child or something.” Todoroki winced at Midoriya’s widened eyes, and laughed sheepishly. “Told you it was ridiculous.”

Midoriya paused, floored. What the heck was he supposed to say to that? And how could he have forgotten that Quirks were, usually, passed generation to generation? To someone looking into his background, it would become quite obvious that he hadn’t inherited his Quirk from either of his parents. “Uh…”

“Sorry if I made you uncomfortable.” Todoroki leaned forward, eyes raking over Midoriya’s face worriedly. “All Might is your idol—mine too—and I shouldn’t have thought about him doing something like that.”

“Yeah—no, All Might wouldn’t,” Midoriya said, voice trailing off. He glanced at Thirteen, who was checking off something on a clipboard he was holding. The hero looked up and met his eyes for a quick second, white eyes blinking knowingly.

Todoroki frowned, still looking worried, and Midoriya beamed reassuringly at him. Appeased, Todoroki reached over with his left hand to pick up Midoriya’s, cradling it gently.

“Anyway, I can’t make shapes with fire—“

“Yet!” Midoriya piped up encouragingly.

“Yet,” Todoroki amended. “But I’ve had quite a lot of practice with my other side.” His other hand crackled as he lifted it between them, a tiny little swan freezing into existence in the palm of his hand.

Midoriya gasped in delight, oblivious to the pleased glance Todoroki threw at him at his outcry. “What the—wait! That is so cool!”

“Detail is a little hard to do… the best I can do are general shapes. I’ve never tried bigger ones. You know, like ones you might find at a party.”

“Ice sculptures? With the size of the ice you’ve been creating, I bet you totally could. But man, look at this! Amazing!” Midoriya scrambled for his backpack, tugging the zipper open blindly as he kept his eyes fixated on the ice swan.

“Thank you,” Todoroki mumbled, seemingly bashful. “But you don’t have to write about it…”

“What?” Midoriya replied absently, already scribbling into his notebook.

“Nevermind.”

Midoriya felt Todoroki shift beside him as he leaned into Midoriya’s space, peering at the page. Midoriya’s face flushed, and he looked up then, leaning away and snapping the notebook shut. “Nuh-uh.”

“What? Why can’t I see?” Todoroki asked, sounding disgruntled.

“Because… it’s embarrassing? I don’t know. Maybe I’ll show you soon, when I’ve… edited it,” Midoriya added hastily, trying to alleviate Todoroki’s grumpy frown. “It really is nothing.”

“Hmph.” Todoroki set the ice swan onto the floor next to them. “As far as I know, you could be writing some pretty terrible things,” he added, but the small upturn of his lips let Midoriya know he was joking. With his hands free, Todoroki was able to take Midoriya’s other hand as well. Midoriya saw him glance quickly at Thirteen, before he leaned forward, an expectant look in his eyes.

Midoriya’s blush deepened. Ever since that moment after school, Todoroki had seemed to become more relaxed around Midoriya, and more willing to invade his personal space. Thanks to that, Midoriya felt stronger than ever, constantly feeling the thrum of his Quirk underneath his skin whenever he was at school. And not to mention… Midoriya resisted the urge to duck his head when Todoroki inched forward even more, looking at Midoriya entreatingly.

They’d kissed again after that day, twice. The first happened when Midoriya had, by chance, run into Todoroki at the school gate the very next day. He’d barely been able to stammer out a greeting to a groggy looking Todoroki before the other boy sleepily grumbled something in return, quickly leaning down to peck Midoriya’s on the lips. It was fleeting, a quick touch of lips that was more of a simple hello than anything (albeit much more intimate), and hardly anyone had seen… But Midoriya had been stunned, and had needed to be tugged to class by Todoroki, their hands entwined.

The second had been after lunch. Uraraka had left before them, amusedly saying that she’d let them have a moment alone. Since Iida had been taking another sick day, she didn’t want to be a third wheel, Uraraka had told them jokingly. So she hadn’t been there to see when Midoriya had been in the middle of laughing as he recounted a story (what was the story he’d been telling anyway? He coudn’t remember anymore) and Todoroki had cupped Midoriya’s chin and delivered a swift kiss that left the table next to them gawking quite rudely.

That made six kisses total. (Midoriya told himself he needed to stop counting them.)

Midoriya was brought back to earth when Todoroki cleared his throat quietly, and refocused to find him already nose to nose with the other boy.

“Why… why do you like kissing me?” Midoriya said as he leaned back, instead of closing that last few centimeters like he really wanted to.

Todoroki’s face was blank, and he let out a sigh as he leaned back as well, keeping his grip steady on both of Midoriya’s hands. Behind Todoroki, Midoriya saw Thirteen turn away and cover the bottom of his mask with a gloved hand as if to stifle his chuckles. Midoriya saw the hero’s shoulders shake with mirth anyway, and Midoriya flushed again, embarrassed.

“I don’t know. I mean, I do, but I don’t know how to say it. Shouldn’t it be obvious?” Frustrated, Todoroki shook his fringe away from his face. “You don’t like it?”

“No! I do!” Midoriya said hastily, letting his body tip forward again. Midoriya tried to ignore the fact that Thirteen was holding his clipboard in front of his helmeted head, seeming unwilling to move from his spot as he continued to eavesdrop. He hoped that the rescue hero didn’t tell All Might. Todoroki looked at him from the corner of his eyes.

“I do,” Midoriya repeated quietly, because he really did like it. “I was just wondering…”

Todoroki exhaled through his nose, looking nervous again. “Well… Remember how you said you were excited to have a soulmate? It’s amazing enough that we found each other, especially at this age. I’ve read—heard that it’s not wholly uncommon, but it’s amazing enough to bring people to talk.”

Todoroki absently played with Midoriya’s fingers as he spoke, hands gently running over the scars left behind by One for All. “While you knew that it was something amazing, all my life I’d been left thinking that I would be better without someone to make the Quirk I got from my father even stronger. But after that day on the beach, even when I didn’t know it was you, I couldn’t stop thinking about having a soulmate. Someone who was… just…”

“Someone who was meant just for you,” Midoriya finished tentatively, feeling something twinge in his chest. “Me.. me too.”

“Exactly. I couldn’t help wondering if they were the exact person I needed, someone who was meant to understand and stand by me. I even wondered if my soulmate would accept my scar.” Todoroki smiled wryly at his own words, and Midoriya heard an undercurrent of bitterness in his tone.

“I like you,” Midoriya said stoutly, “scar and bad attitude and all.” He frowned as if challenging Todoroki to say something else.

And of course Todoroki rose to the bait. “Bad attitude?” he echoed, beginning to grin.

“Duh!” Midoriya gently tugged his hands away from Todoroki’s, choosing instead to cross them and feign being irate. “Who was the cranky pants constantly challenging me about being number one? We hadn’t even had one normal conversation before you insisted on becoming my lifelong rival!”

“Wha—“ Todoroki said, truly looking flabbergasted. “I had—there was—reason—“

“I’m just kidding,” Midoriya said quickly, trying (and failing) to fight back a grin. “It was intense, sure, but if we hadn’t ended up fighting at that one-on-one tournament together, we wouldn’t have experienced the second connection!”

“But I hurt you—“

“Oh please, I hurt myself!” Midoriya winced, thinking back. “My Quirk is still a little harder to handle, after all. But it’s work in progress! Honestly, even with everything that happened, I’m glad that we’re where we are now.”

Todoroki smiled in bemusement, reaching forward to try and tug at Midoriya’s arms to uncross them. “Me too.”

“They aren’t coming uncrossed until you finish answering my question,” Midoriya said. He was thankful to notice then that Thirteen had gotten his fill of eavesdropping and had moved further away to continue taking counts of school equipment.

Todoroki rolled his eyes and leaned back to support himself on the heels of his palms. “What else is there to say? Spending time with you has made U.A. an even better place than I’d ever imagined. And it was already my top—and only—choice for school, so you should be proud. Anyway, like I said before, we’re together whether we like it or not. And I like it quite a lot. So I’d say I’m entitled to as many kisses as I want.” Todoroki blushed, scowling. “I mean—of course, only if it’s okay with you.”

Midoriya blanked out and was unable to answer, seeing as he had keeled over on the gymnasium floor and curled into a ball, covering his face with both hands to hide how red he’d gotten. Man, was being with Todoroki constantly going to turn him into mush?

“Midoriya?”

“Midoriya isn’t here right now.”

Todoroki groaned in exasperation. Midoriya felt him pause and look down at him contemplatively, and Midoriya waited to hear what he’d say next.

“Then… is Izuku there?”

Midoriya bolted upright back into his sitting position, hands flying because he had absolutely no idea where to put them and had Todoroki just used his first name and why did he like the way his own name sounded in Todoroki’s voice so much? “I-I-Izu-Iz—He isn’t here either!” Midoriya screeched, and Todoroki sighed, rolling his eyes so hard that Midoriya was afraid they’d pop out.

“Izuku, come on—“

“Stop that! Stop doing that!” Midoriya was torn between embarrassment and delight, because as bashful as this was making him, his insides turned to goo at the uncharacteristic way Todoroki suddenly laughed, mirth making his eyes crinkle. Jeez, I’ve never even seen that many of Todoroki’s teeth before. Then, nice teeth too. As expected of one of the class’s best students… Um. Why am I admiring his teeth?

“Uh, hello? Earth to Izuku?”

“I told you to stop,” Midoriya grumbled, unwilling to admit that he’d just spent a good few seconds thinking about Todoroki’s teeth.

Todoroki grinned then, and Midoriya had to turn away for fear of launching himself at Todoroki and settling in his lap, or something. He couldn’t help but feel truly happy at the realization that Todoroki had finally become comfortable enough around him to let his guard down and relax that poker face he constantly had on.

To have felt so intensely about his circumstances that he’d fought tooth and nail to be the best, never being able to relax or let his guard down… Midoriya’s eyes flicked up to Todoroki’s scar as something inside him twisted sadly, and he ended up flopping against Todoroki’s side, head lolling against his shoulder.

“Huh? Am I forgiven?” Todoroki joked mildly, eyes soft.

“Maybe.”

“Hmph. Well as much as I like cuddling with you like this, I think we’re here because we wanted to practice?”

“You started it,” Midoriya grumbled, sitting back up. Todoroki stood and stretched, pretending to ignore him.

“What? Did you say something?”

“Ha ha,” Midoriya replied dryly, hopping up to stand next to his soulmate.

“Now, it’s your turn.” Todoroki turned to him, eyes serious. “Ready to try your Quirk? Regulate it so that you’re using even less than what you usually do. We’ve gotten the go ahead from Thirteen, but don’t do what you do in a fight. Not even that single finger explosion. With me here, it’s best to just assess how much of your Quirk you can call up while it’s being amplified. I don’t want you getting hurt.”

Midoriya froze mid-stretch, unease suddenly rising in his gut like bile. “I… My turn?” he asked, trying to inject mirth he didn’t feel into his words. “What about you? You made one flame and a swan—I think you should go ahead again.”

“We’ll take turns,” Todoroki said amusedly, and Midoriya desperately wished he felt the same way about the entire situation.

“Um…”

“Midoriya?” Todoroki’s face turned questioning, worried. “Is something wrong?”

“No! Of course not! I’m just… a little hungry… so I don’t know how much of…”

Midoriya exhaled shakily as the ring of a cell phone cut through the still air of the training area, and Todoroki fished out his phone quickly. Midoriya’s relief quickly morphed into concern at the almost violent scowl that quickly replaced Todoroki’s relaxed features, the cold-hot user stabbing the screen of his phone with rigid fingers as he typed out a reply to the text he’d received.

“Todoroki? Is something wrong?” Midoriya said, worry washing away the fear he’d felt.

“My dad,” Todoroki said shortly, and Midoriya cringed inwardly at his soulmate’s harsh tone, so reminiscent of the angry, hurtful Todoroki he’d first come into contact with. “He just wants me home cause he thinks I’ve been out too long.” Todoroki’s mouth twisted viciously as he stuffed his phone back into his pocket. “I’ve got to help my sister prepare for dinner. I’m sorry, Midoriya, but I have to go.”

“I-it’s okay! I understand,” Midoriya said. “Thanks for staying with me this long.”

Todoroki’s eyes cleared then, refocusing on Midoriya as if coming out of a haze. There was a sigh, and Midoriya had an armful of Todoroki Shouto, the cold-hot user burying his face in crook of Midoriya’s neck and shoulder. Midoriya paused for merely a second before his arms came around to squeeze Todoroki closer, letting his cheek rest against his soulmate as he silently tried to convey his support.

“He pisses me off,” Todoroki murmured, lips warm against Midoriya’s skin. He blushed, distracted.

“I—I know,” Midoriya said soothingly. He clutched at the fabric of Todoroki’s uniform, wondering if he could just keep Todoroki trapped there for the rest of their lives.

“And we’re picking our mentors for field training tomorrow, and it’s obvious enough that I’m going to have to be working with him. Which irritates me, but that’s it,” Todoroki said, gently pulling away. Midoriya allowed his arms to unwind reluctantly as Todoroki stepped back. “He’s just a nuisance. Or, at least I keep telling myself. Nothing he can say or do will ever affect me as badly as I’ve let him in the past. I can rise to the top without letting his shadow drag me down.”

“That’s the spirit,” Midoriya said weakly, worry still clawing at his chest. Todoroki’s eyes softened at this, and his lips turned up slightly in another small smile.

“He’s irrelevant. I’m going to be a better hero than he ever was.” Todoroki shook out his arms, face serious. “Anyway. I’m going home, but we’re doing this again. Even if it is just to hang out. And besides, I owe you a date.” Todoroki smiled then, and Midoriya felt relieved, even as guilt began to gnaw at him.

“I’ll text you. You have my number, right?” Todoroki continued, looking at Midoriya questioningly as he reached down to pick up his bag. At Midoriya’s nod, he slung it over his shoulder and clicked his phone on to check the time. “Alright. Then we’ll plan something. Just let me know whatever you’d like to do.”

He leaned down then, and this time, Midoriya was ready for the swift kiss that followed. Seven, Midoriya thought hazily. Todoroki’s poker face was offset by the soft pink warming his cheeks, and he bid his soulmate goodbye with a wave as he headed out the gymnasium doors.

There was a glint out of the corner of his eye, and Midoriya turned to find the tiny ice swan sitting exactly where it had been left. He picked it up gently and cradled it in his palm, regretfully noting the puddle it had left as it had already started to melt. He wished he could preserve it.

The worry and guilt were still there, twisting together violently in his chest. Not for the first time, Midoriya wished he could speak to his friends about it, but Uraraka was with her class project group and had seemed too busy to bother. And Iida… Something inside Midoriya twinged again as another worry added itself to the pile. His friend had taken sick days, and while that seemed normal enough in itself—you had to take time to recuperate after all—Iida hadn’t answered a single one of his texts, each message reading seen but left unanswered.

“He messaged me, but just once,” Uraraka had told Midoriya earlier during the day. “He said he was sorry for not replying to all our messages, but that he hasn’t been feeling very well at all. But he’s in my group, and said he was feeling better enough to meet with us for a little while to contribute. I mean, I told him it was alright, but he insisted.” Uraraka shrugged. “Do you want to come with us, Deku?”

“No, it’s alright,” Midoriya had said, even as he wanted to meet with just Uraraka and Iida, and not the rest of their classmates. “I promised Todoroki I’d train with him after school.”

Todoroki,” Uraraka cooed jokingly, and Midoriya smiled bashfully. “I’m so glad… so happy, really, that things worked out.” Her smile had been sunshine, and Midoriya felt his nerves warm up at the sight of it. “Okay then, Deku! I’ll see you later!”

Even now, part of him had wished he’d been there with them. Even if Midoriya wouldn’t have been able to confide in them with the rest of their classmates around, he at least would have been able to feel more at ease just being with them. He liked Todoroki… truly, seriously, liked Todoroki, very much, but…

Midoriya wiped his suddenly clammy palms on the sides of his uniform pants, gut twisting with nerves and anger at himself.

How could he tell his own soulmate that after what had happened at the two-on-two sparring match, Midoriya had begun feeling almost cripplingly afraid of what his Quirk might be like amplified?

Just even thinking it made Midoriya want to punch himself. I told Todoroki it didn’t matter, Midoriya thought heatedly, furious with himself, that we’d work on this together! Telling him that and then feeling like this just makes me a hypocrite.

But the bone rattling sensation of his Quirk being inadvertently called up to the surface against his own will had yet to leave him, and Midoriya shuddered. What if Todoroki had been right? Midoriya still couldn’t utilize his own Quirk without facing a backlash that broke his bones and rendered him useless…

Tears began to sting at his eyes, and Midoriya passed a clenched fist across them, silently willing himself not to cry. What if he used an amplified One for All… and just splintered into pieces? That was what would have happened with a vessel that wasn’t ready to take on the usual amount of One for All. And to have it amplified…?

Midoriya loathed what he was feeling even as he cringed from the possibility. He had to get over this fear. Todoroki had done it for him. Now, when he imagined himself as the number one hero, he saw Todoroki there too, standing by his side.

Midoriya started, surprised when a gloved hand landed lightly on his shoulder.

“Everything okay?” Thirteen’s muffled voice was laced with concern, and Midoriya hastily faked a yawn.

“Just a little tired is all! Thank you for letting us use the area as you worked. We really appreciate it.”

“It’s no problem,” Thirteen replied amicably, gloved hand giving Midoriya a good natured pat. “I’m almost done counting up the equipment. If you really aren’t feeling well, I can walk you to the nurse’s office in just a bit?”

“No, but thank you. I really am fine!” Midoriya smiled. “Really, just a little tired. I’d like to go home, though, and I’ll be sure to eat something then head off right to bed.”

“Aizawa would reprimand me if I didn’t say, ‘do some homework!’. But since he isn’t here, I believe you should rest.” Thirteen’s eyes were kind white crescents in his mask, and Midoriya beamed back at him.

“I’ll take it easy,” Midoriya promised. “Maybe I’ll stop by the park on my way home and relax for a bit there too, since the sun’s still out, you know?” he added contemplatively.

“While working towards the future is undeniably important,” Thirteen said, “so is rest. I think that’s a wonderful idea. Just be sure to head home before it gets to dark, Midoriya. Goodness, I’m sure you need whatever rest you can get after that heady dose of young love.” Thirteen’s sigh was static as he exhaled through his mask. “Oh, to be young again.”

“You’re not old!” Midoriya piped up, doing his best to ignore the ‘young love’ bit.

“You’re very kind. But I was speaking of being your age,” Thirteen replied amusedly. And he turned and ambled away, waving a hand in farewell.

As soon as he exited the wide, open doors of the gymnasium, Midoriya inhaled, reveling in the sun. Everything seemed better, more positive in the daylight. “It will be fine,” he murmured to himself. “Just fine.”

-

What was that saying again? The tension in the air was thick enough that you could cut it with a knife. Or something.

Which probably wasn’t far off the mark, considering Hero Killer Stain had already tried.

“Not interested,” Stain said blithely, shaking off the last remnants of the disintegrated knife from his hands. How many times was he going to have to repeat himself? He was getting the feeling that behind the wrinkled hand covering Tomura’s face, the villain’s expression was twisted with hate as he pressed a hand—the one actually naturally attached to him, thank goodness—against his wound. Not the first time someone had looked at Stain like that. Though Stain supposed he deserved it, after cutting that deep into Tomura’s shoulder.

“Our objectives are the same.” Tomura’s voice was twisted, its pitched quality reminding Stain of a vocalized version of claws on a chalkboard. Stain licked his lips to hide the irritated quirk it was forming itself into.

“As I said before, they are not. I don’t know where you’re getting this idea.”

“You are the Hero. Killer. Hero Killer! Murderer, slaughterer, hitman—“

“Hey now,” Stain said, temper rising. “Quit pulling random synonyms out of who knows where. I object to at least two of those. I kill for a reason. It isn’t for power or anything you people stand for.”

“Then what, may I ask, is your stupid, shitty reason?” Tomura questioned, voice low and deadly.

“Justice,” hissed Stain, letting the word, and his vision, settle around the room like a heavy blanket. It wasn’t long before some of their listeners snorted derisively, elbowing each other in cruel mirth.

“Justice,” Kurogiri echoed, a mass of swampy dark matter that managed to express the heaviest amount of disdain out of every villain in the room. “You believe you are exacting justice with every hero you kill. How ironic.”

“Much better than your aim for chaos and disorder. How barbaric. And don’t think your attack on All Might has gone unnoticed by me. The greatest hero? Really now, you all should have known better.”

“We almost had him!” Tomura screeched, and Stain winced. Nails on a chalkboard. Nails on a chalkboard mixed with the vocal version of an oil slick… if that made any sense. Stain decided to set that train of thought aside for later.

“‘Almost’ wasn’t good enough. And there he still stands, the greatest hero.” Stain’s voice took on a note of admiration despite himself, and though slight, it was enough to send all the villains in the room bristling with anger.

“Pro heroes are filled with greed and lust for fame… All it is about is making it big for themselves, without any thought to the world. Would a rising pro hero deign to look at even the smallest of villainous cases? Not unless it would send them skyrocketing into the top tier of heroes.” Stain sneered at this, mouth twisting. “The world would be better off without them.”

“Killing a different pro hero at least every other day… not the most structured plan, don’t you think?” Kurogiri rumbled, eyes narrowed as his tendrils of inky darkness turned and spread in agitation. “There’s one of you, and many of us. While we’re killing the same kind of people for different reasons, why not work with us to speed up your goal?”

“Do you think I’m stupid enough to join a league of villains when I work towards justice?” Stain scoffed. “No, I’ll leave well enough alone, thank you. I will proudly tell you that I do have a plan to spread my message across.”

“And…?” Tomura snapped. His hands came up to claw at his neck, gouging deep into skin. “Tell us. Tell me!

“Calm down. I’m sure you’re familiar with U.A.’s newest soulmates. Famous too, which is only to be expected when half of a pair is the spawn of the second ranked hero.” Stain’s hand came to rest almost lovingly at the sword settled against his side.

Kurogiri’s eyes narrowed. “You aim to kill them? You do realize that with the attack on U.A., security is tighter than ever.”

“And whose fault is that? I wonder. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t be stupid enough to even get close to U.A. Even with Ingenium crippled by my hands, that news has yet to become completely public in this area. Security’s tight, but not as much as it should be, and you just have to know where to strike.” Stain allowed the blade to slide out of its scabbard and gently pressed the pad of his palm along its sharp edge. “So if you’ll excuse me, I believe it’s about time for one of my targets to be walking home from school.”

“Wait,” Tomura said quickly. “We’ll send out hordes of our own—if you don’t want our aid, fine. But they’re there, and you’ll soon see how much easier it is when you have a whole group keeping the higher tier heroes off your back.”

“Suit yourself,” Stain sneered flippantly, and Tomura’s hand flew back up to scratch at his neck angrily. “Either way, I’ll get the job done. Pro heroes? Soulmates? What a corrupt, manipulative lie.”

His blade slid back into place with an audible snick that echoed throughout the room as he turned to leave, confident in the knowledge that no one would be stupid enough to try taking him down with his back turned.

“This whole system deserves to die.”

-

Midoriya cheerfully whistled the opening tune of a show that had just been released as he flipped the pages of his worn out hero notebook. He paused, smiling as he flipped to Todoroki’s pages, filled with notes upon notes of Todoroki’s Quirk… and his mannerisms. In fact, if he wasn’t careful, quite a few of his notebook’s pages would become much too centered around his soulmate. Midoriya blushed when he landed on the latest page, its only feature a black and white clipping out of a newspaper featuring a close up of Todoroki standing on the podium in second place. (There had been one of Kacchan in the newspaper too. That one he left intact, but in a rare show of mild aggression, Midoriya had drawn a mustache and devil horns on Kacchan’s furious looking head. Then he felt bad immediately afterwards.) Midoriya constantly flipped to this page in his notebook after looking over his hero notes, admiring Todoroki’s serious profile.

A gust of wind blew gently across the leaves of the tree he was leaning against, its sounds coupled with the cheerful cries of kids playing in the playground in the near distance, accentuated by the thumping of a runner’s feet as he neared. The runner’s head was ducked low, shoulders swinging as he pumped his arms and breathed, and everything about that seemed incredibly familiar…

The realization came to Midoriya suddenly. “Kacchan!” he called out without actually meaning to.

The boy looked up, startled, and upon seeing that it was Midoriya, Bakugou became vexed.

“Fucking Deku,” Bakugou cursed in between pants, slowing to a stop. “What? What do you want? You interrupted my training, and it better be for a good reason.”

Midoriya paused, nervously looking at his childhood friend. He hadn’t meant to call out to him, and he certainly hadn’t expected for Bakugou to actually stop running.

This only made Bakugou angrier, and the explosive boy violently tugged a small gym towel from around his neck to furiously wipe away sweat.

“Don’t have anything to say? Then fine. I have a lot to say, actually. Deku.” Bakugou clenched the towel, wringing it, and Midoriya bet Kacchan was pretending it was Midoriya’s neck.

“Man,” Bakugou continued, glaring at Midoriya’s carefully blank face, “I seriously fuckin’ hate you.”

His hands popped menacingly, singeing the white fabric of the towel.

Chapter Text

Todoroki fought the urge to roll his eyes, setting the ceramic plate down onto the table with much more force than necessary. His father loomed in the doorway, arms crossed as he surveyed the kitchen setting, watching as if Todoroki and his sister were preparing for battle rather than setting up for dinner.

Todoroki wasn’t sure why his father was even here anyway. Normally, Endeavor would demand his dinner be brought to his study by either his daughter or an unwilling Todoroki. He still doubted that his father was here to suddenly change his habits and start dining with his family like a father was probably supposed to. Well—a father was supposed to do a great and many things, probably, but Todoroki wouldn’t know. He considered himself unlucky to have ’Endeavor’ instead.

God, he couldn’t even bring himself to call the man father.

“Shouto,” intoned Endeavor suddenly, and both he and his sister paused in the middle of putting the food down. Fuyumi looked apprehensive, as if she already knew what their father was going to say. “I have some concerns about that soulmate of yours.”

Fuyumi was out the door like a rocket, giving Todoroki the impression that their father had already expressed his intentions (and displeasure) to Fuyumi regarding the topic of her brother and his soulmate.

Todoroki tensed, thinking of the possibilities. Same sex soulmates weren’t uncommon, and his father should at least understand that much. Did he have a problem with Midoriya? Something inside him made Todoroki’s lips begin to twist in anger, the thrum of the connection strengthening beneath his skin as if protesting against the mere idea of it. It’s not like he could change soulmates. And even if that were possible in some obscure universe, Todoroki admitted to himself that he would rather suffer anything else than the prospect of losing Midoriya.

Again, the thought made his stomach curdle unpleasantly. It was uncomfortable to the point of almost being painful—Todoroki set down the last utensil in his hand in its place, free to rub at his chest, where the connection seemed to shiver brutally.

“Yes?” Todoroki finally replied, stubbornly keeping his eyes fixed on the dinner table, hand gripping his shirt. Damn, he’d placed a fork down crookedly. It would bug him until he got to fix it. “What is it?”

“What is his Quirk?”

Todoroki twisted around then to look at his father quizzically. Hadn’t he been there for Todoroki’s fight against Midoriya?

“It’s… some strengthening Quirk.” Todoroki stared at Endeavor, gauging his reaction.

“A strengthening Quirk.” Endeavor matched Todoroki’s poker face with one of his own, and Todoroki fought against another frown. “And he cannot control it.” Now Todoroki could hear the contempt in his father’s voice, and he bristled defensively. The fire in his chest seemed to grow unpleasant, and he began to sweat.

“It’s just because it’s being amplified,” Todoroki lied, “but he’s plenty strong either way.”

“Still,” Endeavor said dismissively, “a top hero cannot be one who breaks his own limbs with every random swing of his arms and legs. Your position as the eventual number one is still assured.”

Why are you still so obsessed with that? “Why couldn’t we be number one together?” Todoroki snapped instead. “There are soulmates who work as partners. Midoriya works hard to improve each and every day. We could be a formidable team together.”

“How… sweet.” Endeavor’s fiery mustache twitched, and Todoroki realized that his father was laughing at him, eyes sly. “Sentiment is getting to your head.” Todoroki’s father scowled then, his voice regaining its usual harsh indifference. “And so naive. Do you really not know of the possibilities? A boy like that will only hinder your progress towards being the top hero. It is best to utilize him in a way that benefits you, and tolerate him only until you’ve become the best of the best yourself.”

Todoroki felt something snap inside him, his face blanking with shock as he realized what Endeavor was saying. “You… you want me to use Midoriya?” Todoroki snarled, and the kitchen was suddenly a myriad of warm and cool air fighting against his father’s flames. “Use him to amplify my Quirk? Then toss him aside?

“It isn’t as if he could get any use out of amplifying his own Quirk,” Endeavor snorted. “He’d more than likely blast himself into tiny little pieces.”

Don’t talk about him like that!” Todoroki growled. His skin prickled painfully as his Quirk clamored to be brought to the surface.

“Don’t take that tone of voice with me, boy,” warned Endeavor, eyes narrowed. “If you’re so against it, then hopefully that soulmate of yours will come to his senses sooner than you will.”

“Don’t you dare touch Izuku,” Todoroki snarled, eyes blazing. Endeavor laughed, a mighty sound that shook the walls around them and made the tiny, scar-free boy inside himself tremble.

I have no intention of even speaking to the boy,” Endeavor rumbled, his face filled with a twisted sort of mirth. “After all, he is your soulmate, is he not? He should understand the differences between both your capabilities soon enough. You saw what you could do when you finally let loose with my Quirk. Do you not want to know how effective that power would be, amplified to such an extent?”

“It’s not just your Quirk,” Todoroki mumbled, cursing the part of him that reduced his voice to a near whisper. “It’s mine.”

“Oh, is that so? Tell me, where exactly did you get half of that Quirk from? Who was the one who gave it to you? Without me, you would never have existed. You were created for one purpose and one purpose only.”

“I-I’m not you—“

“Is that what that child told you? You are nothing without my power. It drives you, as my ambition drives me. We both aspire to be the best. You and I are much more alike than you think, Shouto.”

Todoroki reeled back, blanching. His nerves were alight with confusion and childhood insecurities, all clamoring and colliding together in his head.

“I—“ Todoroki froze as he felt the coil of power streaming from the connection nearly burst forth. His skin was beaded with sweat, and Todoroki doubled over as he gasped for air. “What—“

Father!” Fuyumi screamed, careening back into the kitchen like a whirlwind. Her fingers dug into the side of the entryway, leaving pinpricks of ice underneath her palm. “Attacks—there are attacks happening within the city! Civilians are being torn apart by monsters!” Her voice broke, eyes wide with horror.

“Where did you see this?” Endeavor said, voice sharp.

“On the news. It’s on nearly every channel, it just started, and I don’t—“

“Enough. Come, Shouto. We have work to do.” Endeavor swept out of the room without even sparing another glance at his children, and Fuyumi’s panicked eyes teared up when she saw her brother nearly kneeling on the floor.

“Oh, Shouto,” she gasped, scrambling towards him. “What—what’s wrong—“

“Don’t know,” Todoroki wheezed, even as the connection flared again. It was wrong—it didn’t feel like the normal thrum of strength and energy he naturally felt coming from Midoriya, no matter how far away his soulmate was. It felt… urgent. Terrified. Was it possible? “It’s… It’s Izuku—“

Both siblings looked up at the chime of Todoroki’s phone, the cheery notification a stark difference against the stifled atmosphere. More out of reflex than anything, Todoroki’s eyes snapped to the screen of his phone, laying upright on the dinner table.

Midoriya Izuku - 1 new message.

Fuyumi gave an aborted yelp of surprise when Todoroki violently scrambled to his feet, his fingers flailing for the phone. One slide of finger against screen, and Todoroki’s eyes met with a single red location pin on a small map, no other text accompanying it.

“W-what is it?” Fuyumi asked shakily, visibly struggling to become calm.

“Izuku,” Todoroki said blankly.

Fuyumi cried out when her brother raced out of the room and slammed his way out of the house through the back door, leaving singed wood and patches of ice in his wake.

-

Earlier

“I fucking hate you.”

Midoriya met eyes narrowed with fury and filled with all the hatred in the world, and all he could say in reply was “I already knew that though?”

He kind of regretted it when Kacchan’s face reddened to the point where Midoriya began to feel slightly worried for his health. His childhood friend had so many veins popping out of his forehead—wasn’t that bad?

And then he felt even more regret when Bakugou darted forward to pin Midoriya against the tree, Bakugou’s fist bunching up the fabric of Midoriya’s uniform.

“K-Kacchan—“

“Shut up! How many times have I told you not to call me that?” Bakugou hissed, teeth bared. Out of the corner of his eye, Midoriya could see people in the distance, faces turned towards the both of them.

I wonder if they’d actually come to help or something, Midoriya wondered absently, only to be distracted by Bakugou’s grip tightening even further.

“Eyes on me, dipshit.” Bakugou’s mouth was twisted into its usual snarl, and Midoriya felt only a small echo of the fear he’d felt when Bakugou had threatened him in junior high. Something was off, Midoriya realized, there was something different about Kacchan’s anger. He seemed a bit more… melancholy?

“Uh, hello? I said eyes on me!

Okay, maybe not, Midoriya thought wryly. “Kacchan, I am looking at you. I promise I wasn’t trying to pick a fight or anything! I don’t even know why I called your name!”

“Probably to gloat, that’s what I’m thinking,” Bakugou snapped, his voice blessedly lower than a scream for once.

“G-gloat?” Midoriya stammered, incredulous. “About what?”

“About your stupid Quirk that you thought you were so smart to hide all these years? About fucking chasing me into U.A. and making a fool out of me? About your stupid, idiot soulmate?”

“Kacchan…” Midoriya trembled, but he forced himself to reach up and grab at Bakugou’s wrist, gripping hard. “I wouldn’t do that. I would never do that!”

“Yeah, right—“ Bakugou began, ready to continue his tirade, but Midoriya cut him off sharply.

“Kacchan! I… every single time, I try and try to tell you… all this time, I’ve admired you! Didn’t I tell you before? During our first training exercise?”

“Bullshit.” But Bakugou released him, shaking off Midoriya’s grip on his own wrist. He angrily pulled his running towel over his head, tugging it down until he could harshly scrub the sweat from his face.

“…you… are you jealous of me?” Midoriya asked suddenly, feeling as if there were gears in his mind, clicking into place. He wondered again if he had gone too far when Bakugou’s eyes flashed furiously at him from beneath the towel, half expecting the other boy to pin him again, or throw one of his explosive punches.

Instead, Bakugou stepped away, scowling hard. “Like hell I would. Don’t ever think that for one second I’d want anything you have. I already have it all.” His voice turned into a hiss. “It’s just disgusting, seeing someone who was supposed to be lower than me suddenly enter my top choice school with some secret Quirk of his. And now you’re at an advantage with that fucking soulmate connection thing.” Bakugou’s idle hand swung at his side, snapping and popping with little explosions.

“You can’t look at it that way,” Midoriya objected in a small voice. “They just… happen. And the connection isn’t a tool to be used, I don’t see it as an advantage…” Weak—his voice sounded weak, as did his argument, and they both knew it. “I… I see it as a blessing. Or something.”

“Amplified power, and you don’t see it as an advantage.” Bakugou snorted, rolling his eyes. “Right.”

“You’ll find one of your own—“ Midoriya began, voice gentle.

“I don’t want one of my own!” Bakugou yelled, and Midoriya flinched. “I can very well reach the rank of top hero without anyone’s help. I’ll show you that I can beat you and half-and-half combined, amplified Quirks or not!”

“Kacchan—“

“Well said.”

Both boys froze at the sound of an unfamiliar voice, and Midoriya wheeled around to look for the source. Not a soul in sight—the park had been emptied, the people from before no doubt scared off by Bakugou’s outbursts. It was dim, too—the sun was still there, but the sky filled with the oranges and soft reds of sunset, and he had to squint around to see if he had missed anyone somehow hiding in the shadows.

“Up here,” the voice said, and Midoriya’s head swung up to make out slitted eyes peering at him from the shadowed branches of the tree he’d been leaning against. “Midoriya Izuku, am I right?”

“You… who are you?” Midoriya asked instead, and beside him, Bakugou tensed warily.

“Before I answer that, I believe I asked you first. But I guess it doesn’t really matter—I’ve seen your face too many times to count. But the one next to you…” The eyes narrowed even further, and Bakugou bared his teeth in challenge. “I don’t believe I’ve ever seen you before.”

The leaves rustled as the shadowed figure sighed and shifted, the odd eyes closing for a second. “There were kids here earlier talking about you guys—kids with your uniform. Suppose they mistook Sweaty over here for your soulmate, what with the towel covering his face and all. Should’ve known better than to listen to a bunch of children.”

“Who. Are. You.” Bakugou’s voice was a low growl, and Midoriya was suddenly grateful for his presence, as volatile as the other boy could be.

“Stain,” came the voice pleasantly, “nice to meet you. I suppose you haven’t heard of me before? No? Judging by those blank faces, I guess they’re stifling the news over here. Way to report the truth, right?”

“What are you talking about?” Midoriya asked, thoroughly confused. He took a step back, nerves alight with foreboding.

“Hero Killer Stain, at your service.” Another rustle, and a body was swinging down from the branches. The dying light of the sun revealed ghastly grinning teeth, a wrinkled and scarred face, and terrifyingly wide and bloodshot eyes that flickered between him and Bakugou. Half of his face was covered with a bandage-like mask, obscuring most of his features. “If you haven’t realized already, let me enlighten you. Hero Killer, killer of heroes, purger of heroes who hero for the sake of money and fame and not for the true sake of heroing—“

“So you’re here to kill us?” Bakugou interrupted, and Midoriya could see his eyes alight with the same bloodthirstiness he’d seen whenever Bakugou was vying for a fight. Bakugou’s mouth curled into a vicious snarl. “I’d like to see you try.”

“Kill you? My goodness, no,” Stain rasped, leaning back languidly against the tree. His tapered fingers rested gently on the hilt of a sword that Midoriya had just realized was sitting against his hip. “You’re just children. I do, however, have some business with the green one over here—“ he motioned to Midoriya, eyes unblinkingly fixed on his face “—and someone else. But not you. So if you know what’s best for you, you’d run inside and hunker down, cause I’m not the only scary thing out here tonight.”

“Like hell I’d be afraid of you,” Bakugou exploded, even as the hairs at the nape of Midoriya’s neck rose uneasily.

“Kacchan—stop.” Midoriya ignored Bakugou as the other boy wheeled on him, spitting angrily, choosing instead to keep his eyes locked with the man in front of them. The Hero Killer. “What did you mean when you said that you aren’t ‘the only scary thing out here’?”

“Well, look at that! How keen of you, kid!” Stain’s lips pulled back, stretching scarred skin even further. “I could have just been referring to all the miscellaneous things that go bump in the night, but in this case, I suppose I may have prompted the League of Villains to send some of their creations frolicking into the city. But on all of their own accord, I promise ya! It’s not like I asked them for any help that I seriously don’t need.”

A siren wailed in the distance and Midoriya’s blood ran cold. “You mean like—from the USJ—“

“Maybe yes, maybe no,” Stain interjected, waving a hand impatiently. Bakugou tracked it with wary eyes, finally having fallen silent. “The point is, I came out to find my targets, and I do have to admit that with all the heroes being distracted, it shouldn’t be too hard to deal with a few kids.” His bloodshot eyes focused on Bakugou. “But like I said, I really don’t need you in the picture.”

There was a gust of violent air, and Midoriya found himself staring blankly at the empty spot where Stain had been standing. With a wild, panicked cry, Midoriya whirled to the side to see Kacchan doubled over and gripping at a bleeding cut on his arm. Midoriya scrambled to take a look, pushing Bakugou’s hand away, and exhaled a relieved breath when he saw that it was rather shallow.

“You bastard,” Bakugou hissed, shoving Midoriya away and turning to glare at Stain. The Hero Killer lounged against a lamppost, serenely staring at the blood sliding down his sword blade. “How weak do you think I am if you expect me to go down from a little tiny nick like that?

“Oh, I told you, my quarrel is with full fledged heroes,” drawled Stain exasperatedly. “Not children, even if you are a wannabe hero. No, I think it should be fine just to immobilize you for now.” And with that, his tongue snaked out to lick at the blood, much to Midoriya’s horror. What shocked him even further was the strangled yell that came from a suddenly crumpled Bakugou, whose feet had buckled from underneath him. Bakugou’s head met the ground with a heavy thump, and Midoriya fell on his knees to pull at Bakugou’s shoulder.

“What—what did you do?!” His mouth fell open when he realized that Kacchan was fully awake and aware, eyes wide with surprise and fury. And yet, the other boy couldn’t seem to be able to move even a single muscle.

“Immobilized. Told you.” Stain flicked the rest of the blood off his blade with one efficient twist of his wrist. “Not that I’m going to explain it to you and give it away, but all you really need to know is that if I ingest your blood, you’re done. Immobilized. Ripe for the picking.” He grinned maliciously, eyeing Midoriya. “Ready for an instant skewering.”

Midoriya stood shakily, his heart thrumming at a rapid, fearful pace. In response, he felt anger steadily seep into his core, warming up his bones and prompting his Quirk to begin to burn at his fingertips. “I won’t let you kill anyone else.”

“Do you even know how many times I’ve heard that line? And its many variations? Listen, kid, I don’t always need to kill to get my point across.” Stain’s smile took on a sly look, and he stabbed his sword into the grass, leaning on it carelessly. “In fact, I’m surprised you haven’t heard already. Far as I know, his kid brother’s in your school, and maybe even in your class, and I’m surprised he hasn’t let word slip out already! Even if the news won’t spread it, I sure as hell thought that he would’ve. But whatever, I guess.” Stain sighed, waving a hand into the air.

“Ever heard of Ingenium?”

“Ingenium?” Midoriya parroted, eyebrows furrowed. “Of course I have. You—“ His words caught in his throat as the hero Ingenium’s image popped up into his mind. In fact, he had a page dedicated to the hero in his notebook. The Turbo Hero Ingenium, birth name—

“Iida,” Midoriya whispered, stricken. Beside him, Bakugou let out a raspy cough of surprise, eyes flicking back and forth in an attempt to keep the Hero Killer in his sights. “Iida. Iida!

“And it clicks!” Stain crowed, ripping his sword out of the earth and pointing it triumphantly in front of himself. “Amazing! So you do know the kid!”

What did you do to Iida?” Midoriya screamed, knees bending as he crouched into an offensive stance. “You were the reason why Iida hasn’t been coming to school!” Just one flick of his fingertip, and he could send Stain flying—

“You mean the hero, right? I didn’t do anything to his kid brother,” Stain said. “Now Ingenium himself… Well, it doesn’t seem like he can be called by that name anymore.”

“What did you do?” whispered Midoriya, apprehension seeping into his bones like a chill.

Stain paused, and the careless facade he’d been putting up seeped away like blood from a wound. “I crushed his engines,” Stain answered icily. His gruesome smile was gone, tucked away in favor of a twisted snarl. “I crippled his legs and destroyed the very thing that gave him any possibility of being a fake hero. I could have killed him, sure, but I was looking forward to the publicity of breaking the spirit of a ‘great hero’. Why the media chose to hush that up goes beyond me, but I’m sure news will break any day now.”

A scream sounded off in the distance, followed by the crunch of metal, and Stain’s smile returned. “Especially after this.”

Midoriya’s knees threatened to buckle from underneath him, and Bakugou foamed at the mouth, eyes wild. “That… that’s terrible…” he choked out, voice high with horror. “You’re a monster.”

“I’ve got plans for you,” Stain continued, speaking as if Midoriya hadn’t said a word. “You and that soulmate of yours. Where is he?”

“Even if I knew, I wouldn’t tell you.” Midoriya’s anger returned slowly but surely, bubbling underneath the current of fear. “I’ll never let you lay a hand on him.”

“Even at the expense of all these people?” Stain asked. The cacophony of sounds was growing louder, and Midoriya trembled at the sound of growls cutting through the gloomy evening. It was getting harder to see, but there were dark movements flitting from building top to building, passing the structures that encircled the city park.

Midoriya blanched. “The heroes will protect everyone,” he said stubbornly.

“Whatever.” Stain looked away to study his blade, admiring the reflection of the lamp light against its surface. “Anyway, they’d just continue on either way. I don’t control them, so it wouldn’t matter. But it was worth a shot.” He sighed again, his grip tightening on the handle. “Now we’ve got to—pardon the cliche—do it the hard way.”

It was pure instinct that prevented Midoriya from meeting the blade head on, and he dodged enough that he could almost feel the cold bite of the metal—but thankfully, no blood. Midoriya gasped raggedly, and his arm came up of its own volition, power coalescing to the tip of his index finger and releasing with the power of a cannon at close range.

Stain yelled in shock as Midoriya’s Quirk sent him colliding hard enough into the tree that the impact created a slight crack in the bark. But he stood almost instantly, and fear and disappointment made Midoriya take a step back. His finger throbbed violently, and near him, Bakugou groaned in frustration. Bakugou was sweating, Midoriya noticed, and looked sick to his stomach. It was probably because he was fighting the control—but Midoriya had no more time to contemplate as the handle of the blade connected with his stomach, sending him sprawling backwards.

Guh—!

“Shit,” Stain said, spitting a wad of blood onto the ground. “Careless.” Stain raised his sword arm in preparation, and Midoriya twisted from the ground, another finger aimed straight at his assailant.

With a snarl, Stain flung himself out of range as the blast gouged out the ground he’d previously been standing on and dug his sword into the soil to anchor himself against the shockwaves. Midoriya brought his arm up again for another attempt, only to buckle and keel over from the onslaught of fresh pain. It’s getting worse, he thought in anguish, feeling the thrum of the connection beginning to grow. Todoroki, don’t come—

The handle met with Midoriya’s face in a violent blow that crumpled him over on his side, feeling a fresh bruise blossoming near his eye. Midoriya fell with a wild cry, collapsing near Bakugou who looked near rabid with wild fury.

“You’re strong,” Stain rasped contemplatively, “but still unpolished.” He raised his blade above Midoriya’s collarbone. “Your Quirk reminds me… ah, but, nevermind.”

“Why… are you…”

“Why? Didn’t I just say? Heroes who work for fame and money are no better than those villains wreaking havoc out over there.” Stain’s eyes shone with a manic gleam. “Or do you mean why I’m targeting you…? Ah, bingo, right? I guess I owe you an explanation.” He grinned again, running his grotesque tongue along his teeth in glee. “But I’ll save that explanation for when I finally get to meet your soulmate. You can feel the connection between you boys, right?”

Stain’s foot came down to grind Midoriya’s injured hand into the dirt, and the boy let out a howl of pain.

“I know how these things work. Never had one myself, if you were wondering—never wanted one. For valid reasons. But I know that the more you’re injured, the more you’ll call on the amplification aspect of your connection…” Stain increased the pressure, and Midoriya grit his teeth against the scream fighting to rip out of his throat. The pain was excruciating. Midoriya squeezed his eyes shut in an attempt to center himself and fight off the pain, as well as subdue the part him screaming out through the feeling that tied him to Todoroki. Don’t. Come. Here.

“And the more you call on the amplification…” Stain continued, “the more the need for your soulmate grows, prompting them to rush to your aid. Sweet, isn’t it?”

Midoriya sobbed in relief when Stain lifted his boot from Midoriya’s crushed fingers and stepped away. His breath came in ragged gasps, and he eyed Stain through eyes blurred with tears. Stain sighed.

“I hate doing this to kids, I really do—but this is for the good of the world. For the public to understand just what it means to have greedy, self-centered heroes running the whole damn show.” Stain’s voice took on a malicious twist, and he raised his foot again. “So for your sake, kid, just call your soulmate already—“

He paused suddenly, and Midoriya trembled at the sight of Kacchan’s hand weakly gripping at the fabric of Stain’s pants. “Bas…tard…”

Stain looked down at him, unimpressed, and scowled. “Looks like it’s wearing off. What damn blood type are you, kid? Ah, whatever.” He brought his boot down to kick at Bakugou’s face, and the hand fell away, limp. Bakugou snarled wordlessly, already struggling to stand. Stain clicked his tongue, flicking his blade up into the air.

“Looks like I have to do it again. Or should I do something more permanent? You’re really driving me up a wall, kid.” Stain’s mouth twisted as he brought the blade low in preparation for another cut. “You—“

Midoriya growled and launched himself off the ground, injured hand curling into a fist and swinging at Stain’s face. “Back off!”

The Hero Killer narrowly dodged the blow again, tutting when the resulting flare of Midoriya’s Quirk ripped the tree from its roots and toppled it over onto its side. “Damn, kid, that would have ripped my head off!” he snapped amongst Midoriya’s pained cries. “And look what you did to yourself.” He paused then, looking down at Midoriya almost admiringly.

“All for, what, explodo-brain over here? You’ve got guts,” he continued appreciatively, and Midoriya snarled at him through the fresh wave of tears stinging at his eyes.

“Shut… up.

“Your soulmate better get here soon, before you wreck yourself.” Stain frowned, rocking back on his heels. “It wouldn’t do have you kill yourself before he even got here…”

The three of them froze as a figure hurtled from the darkness and crashed into the swingset in the near distance, the groan of crumpling metal accompanied by an animal-like snarl that sent chills down Midoriya’s spine.

“What?” Stain tsked as Midoriya’s eyes made out the broken figure of a Nomu, beak lolling open as blood dripped from its teeth. “Useless things—“

There was another blur as something careened at them with inhuman speed, and Midoriya saw a knee connect with Stain’s face as the lamplight glinted off a pair of twin engines. Another wave of tears filled Midoriya’s eyes, the relief tempered by the fear for his friend.

“Iida!”

“Midoriya,” Iida said briskly, the fury in his face belying the calm in his voice. “I am… I am sorry, this…” He risked a moment to glance at Midoriya, and his face twisted in anguish. “I am sorry.”

“Not your fault,” Midoriya rasped, and Bakugou hissed next to him, fingers flexing.

“I’ll kill him,” the explosive boy spat through gritted teeth, shoulders already twitching through sheer force of will. Midoriya dragged himself over to his childhood friend’s side, worriedly taking in his pale face and clammy skin. Iida, standing tall, shook his head stubbornly.

“This is my fight. Bakugou, when you’ve recovered, take Midoriya to safety. Find All Might or another Pro Hero, if possible.” The class president’s voice was steely, and his glasses glinted in the soft light.

“Iida, the Hero Killer—he can—“ Midoriya protested, and Iida cut him off with a sharp, “I know.”

“I know well what he can do,” Iida continued grimly, and Midoriya froze. Ingenium.

“‘Iida’,” echoed Stain, staggering upright. Even with all the blows he had taken, the Hero Killer’s sword remained pristine, not even a single drop of Bakugou’s blood or dirt from the soil left on the blade. “Iida, brother of Ingenium.”

“You would do well to remember my brother’s name,” Iida said, voice tight. “It’s under his name that I invoke my revenge on you, Hero Killer.” He snarled wordlessly, engines picking up as he prepared himself for an attack. ”My brother didn’t deserve what you did to him, you monster!”

“He was just another one of those greedy heroes,” retorted Stain furiously. “He didn’t deserve to be called a hero!”

“Shut up!” Iida roared, launching himself at the Hero Killer, and Stain raised his blade in retaliation.

Midoriya’s heart broke at the pain laced in Iida’s voice, and a part of him twinged in response. No, Todoroki, he thought desperately, willing himself to calm down, for the connection not to pick up his distress. You can’t come here.

Beside him, Kacchan’s groan cut through the sounds of battle, and Midoriya tore his eyes away from Iida to look at Bakugou’s sickly face.

“Kacchan? Are you okay? Can you move?”

“Shut—up—stupid Deku.” Bakugou cursed, begin to convulse. “F-fuck, is this another part of his fucking Quirk? I-I feel—“

“Kacchan?” Midoriya repeated, worry spiking. He ignored the twinge of his hand as he moved to tug Bakugou upright. “Hey, Kacchan!”

“I’m going to be sick,” Bakugou groaned, and his hands popped from where they had come up to clutch at the neck of his own shirt, singeing the neckline.

“Kacchan, stop, you’re going to hurt yourself—“

“Iida! Deku!” someone screamed, and Midoriya nearly cracked his neck to look.

“Uraraka?” he gasped, hardly believing his eyes. Uraraka ran towards him, tears in her eyes and uniform slightly torn, followed by a disconcerted Tsuyu and Mineta supporting a third person.

“How did you—?”

“We were trying to follow Iida,” Uraraka said tearfully, skidding to a halt next to Bakugou and Midoriya. “We were coming from the school, after w-working on the project together—we—there were so many of those monsters!” Her voice turned tight with anger, eyes flashing. “One of them tried to take a boy from his mom, and we had to stop it.”

“So much destruction,” Tsuyu warbled as they hobbled up next to them, and Midoriya made out the near unconscious form of Kirishima.

“What happened to him?” Midoriya asked, grip tightening on Bakugou. Bakugou looked up at that, eyes widening as he took in Kirishima’s bowed head.

Mineta was babbling, already crying. “One of them with wings grabbed Kirishima and dropped him from high up! He was able to use his Quirk, but it w-was so high up—“

“He’s injured,” Uraraka whispered fiercely, “but he can be healed. We—watch out!” Her voice turned into a scream as Iida careened into them out of nowhere, and Midoriya lost his grip on Bakugou. Iida’s engines were spent and smoking, but thankfully still intact, and Midoriya let out a shaky breath. He was limp, however, and Midoriya faltered when he saw Stain leisurely licking blood off his lower lip.

“Great. More children.” Stain’s near-white eyes seemed to roll from behind his bandages, and the sword clinked in his hand. “Are the league of villains really doing their damn job? How hard is it to distract the entire city with stupid monsters on a rampage?”

“Who are you?” Uraraka whispered, and Stain waved a hand impatiently.

“Yes, nice to meet you, girl, frog, lumpy-thing, and dead person. Hero Killer Stain. And you’re kind of getting in my way of business with that kid,” he motioned to Midoriya, “and his soulmate, who needs to be coming here right about yesterday.”

Midoriya’s heart was in his throat—looking at his friends, he knew that none of them could take Stain head on, even altogether. And he was already rendered useless in one arm… Midoriya inched back until his body was partially hidden behind Tsuyu’s crouched form, and scrambled for his phone, tugging it out and pulling up a blank message from memory.

Click.
[Send location]

Click.
[Send to all addresses? [Y/N] ]

Click.
[yes.]

As much as Midoriya wanted to close his eyes in pain and apprehension, he forced himself to track Stain, who was watching Iida as the class president staggered upright once more. He hadn’t wanted to send out an S.O.S.—but with the Nomu around causing havoc, who knew who would even see his message. Even more so, Midoriya didn’t know who would even understand and come to help.

He knew Todoroki would understand the message.

He desperately hoped Todoroki wouldn’t see it.

With that done, he stumbled upright to stand next to Iida, resolutely glaring at the Hero Killer as they shielded their classmates together.

“Something’s wrong with Kirishima!” Mineta wailed, fearfully gripping his classmate’s arm. He seemed to be torn between watching Stain fearfully and looking down at Kirishima—whose arm fluctuated with his Quirk. They all watched, transfixed, as Kirishima switched forms repeatedly, faster than any of them could blink. The hardening Quirk user whimpered, eyes fluttering as his Quirk wavered, his hands digging into soil beneath him.

“What—“ Midoriya began, and looked at Kirishima apprehensively even as he worked to keep a wary eye on the Hero Killer. Even the Hero Killer seemed interested—and when his eyes swung to Bakugou, Midoriya realized why.

Bakugou convulsed on the ground near Midoriya, sweating profusely as he stared at Kirishima with no little amount of absolute horror in his eyes.

“Of all the times,” Stain said shrewdly, and Midoriya couldn’t even find the words to respond.

And Bakugou released an explosion that lit up the night sky and sent Midoriya flying headfirst into the cold, unforgiving metal of the nearby lamppost.

Chapter Text

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.

Chapter Text

The first thought that entered Midoriya’s mind was a groggy desire for water. And immediately after that: Todoroki?

Midoriya let out a small whimper at the cramping pain that shot up his neck the second he attempted to turn his head. Wrenching his eyes open was no small feat either, and Midoriya let out a frustrated groan from between chapped lips. A startled gasp sounded somewhere over to his right, and he tensed before feeling a cool, gentle hand press against his forehead.

“Izuku,” his mother whispered, and finally Midoriya’s eyes inched open. He could feel them stinging with unshed tears at the sight of his mother, hovering fretfully over him and obviously distraught.

“Mom…”

Izuku.

Izuku winced at the pain in her voice, and Inko nervously waved her hands, palms skating over his cast but not quite touching. “Oh—oh! What’s wrong, what hurts?”

“No, no, I’m fine,” Midoriya quickly said, reaching out a free hand to pass over his mother’s in hopes of calming her. Instead, the sight of his arm (his only free arm, as the other was wrapped in a cast) made them both pause.

New scars littered Midoriya’s skin, ragged and a sharp contrast to the training scars he had received before.

“Recovery Girl did the best she could,” Inko whispered, finally taking Izuku’s free hand and squeezing as gently as possible. “But you know there had to be consequences…”

“I know,” Midoriya replied, watching as his mother traced over the newly healed skin. All at once, a new wave of panic overtook him, and he clutched at his mother’s hand as if it were a life support. “My friends? Where is everyone? Where is Shouto? I want to see him. Where is he?”

His voice cracked on the name, and his mother placed a placating hand on his forehead. “Sweetheart, they’re alright, I promise. Look, your friend Iida is right there, in that bed. See?” With a turn of his head, Midoriya could see Iida laid out on a bed not far from his own, the rise and fall of the covers taking the edge off of some of his own worry. “And Todoroki… he’s fine. I heard he’s up and walking around, but I’m sure he’ll be by to see you soon. And everyone else is either at home, or in different rooms.” Now her own voice seemed to shatter, and Midoriya’s mother placed her son’s hand on her cheek, tears wetting the back of his hand. “What you did was incredibly dangerous. Do you understand me?”

“Yes,” Midoriya said, chastened. “But mom… that villain. What happened to him?”

Inko opened her mouth to reply, but before she could, a rumbling voice sounded from the doorway. “We’ve recovered him from the rubble. Alive.”

Midoriya turned to see All Might in full form, even as his edges seemed to shake with the effort.

“Mom,” Midoriya said quickly, “may I please have a moment with my teacher?”

Inko pursed her lips, but without another word, she pressed a kiss to Midoriya’s cheek and passed All Might with a respectful nod.

The second that the door closed behind her, All Might cast a wary glance about the room before stepping towards Midoriya’s bed and sliding the privacy curtains shut. With a weary wheeze, the man literally deflated, looking even more frail and worn than the last time that Midoriya had seen him.

“Alive?” Midoriya asked softly as his mentor gently lowered himself onto the seat the Inko had previously occupied. “So, he’s not…”

“No,” All Might replied gravely, and coughed quietly into the back of his hand before continuing. “I trust that you… aren’t disappointed by that, are you?”

“No,” Midoriya echoed after a moment’s pause. “I would never… I could never kill someone.”

All Might looked down wordlessly at his hands, and Midoriya blinked at him, wondering if he had said the right thing. Wasn’t that what being a hero was all about?

“The authorities have already come by and spoken to many of the teachers, myself included. Your classmates have already been informed as well. In order to spare you kids the repercussions of the law—because as you know, we cannot have under aged students running about and apprehending villains—we have had to, unfortunately, tweak the narrative.”

“You didn’t tell them about us fighting Stain,” Midoriya said slowly, the realization dawning on him quickly. “You didn’t tell them how we…”

“How could I?” All Might replied, spreading his hands. “I think poorly of the fact that we cannot give you kids the recognition you deserve. But,” he continued, eyeing Midoriya seriously, “you must to understand, my boy. In order for you to be able to continue your education—in order for you to be allowed to continue your training—this cannot be public knowledge.”

All Might leaned back in his hair, a small sigh escaping him as his back met the seat rest. “I would very much like you to return to your schooling unhindered, young Midoriya.”

Midoriya glanced away, down at his scarred hand. “I… I know.”

All Might was silent for another moment, before he cleared his throat. “And there is another matter I’d like to discuss with you.”

“Yes?” Midoriya said, looking back up at his mentor.

All Might matched his gaze evenly, even as the corners of his mouth turned down in a severe looking frown. “At the end of the battle… you… what are you feeling now?”

“Sore?” Midoriya replied, glancing at his battered form.

“No, no,” All Might said, looking suddenly far more tired than usual. Pained, even. “My boy… Young Todoroki was awake when we got to you both. He was almost incoherent. Now—“ All Might stopped himself and passed a hand through his hair. “Now, I am not telling you this to make you distraught. I am telling you this because I need to know what happened. You were the last to wake up, so we’ve spoken to all the other students, young Iida included. However, Todoroki has not said a word beyond the time we found you and your friends, but I have heard about Stain’s notoriety. All of what he is capable of.”

Midoriya seemed to freeze as the severity of All Might’s words kick started the last of his memories from the end of the battle. The crumbling building, the flash of a sword, Todoroki’s eyes boring holes into his—

Midoriya pressed a hand against his mouth as he doubled over, desperately attempting not to retch. All Might was at his side in an instant, a wide hand pressed against the his back. From across the room, Midoriya heard Iida splutter into wakefulness, before thundering footsteps sounded. Not a second later, Iida flung back the curtain, violently rubbing sleep from his eyes and fumbling for his glasses.

“Midoriya!” he belted out, looking worried. He eyed All Might standing at the side of Midoriya’s bed warily, and recognizing All Might, turned back to his friend. “What is the matter?”

Midoriya squeezed his eyes shut, feeling the last of the spasms leave his body. In lieu of an answer, he clutched at the front of his hospital gown, desperately searching for any sign of Todoroki.

Where are you.

“I didn’t realize at first,” Midoriya began, feeling himself begin to babble. “I didn’t realize the empty feeling because I’ve felt it for most of my life—I’ve only had it a short while, how could I lose it? How could I lose him?

“You have not lost him,” All Might interrupted sharply, cutting across the beginnings of Midoriya’s panicked monologue. Iida seemed to blanch at the sight of the tip of a chest scar, peeking through the top of Midoriya’s hospital gown. “Has he passed? No. No, he has not. A connection is what it says on the tin, but it does not define your relationship with young Todoroki. Isn’t that right?”

“R-right,” Midoriya echoed, consciously loosening his grip on the front of his clothing.

“Do you care for him any less, now that you no longer have it?”

“Of course not!” Midoriya shouted, before immediately cowing down. “I—I mean, I’m sorry, All Might, but I—“

“That’s right!” All Might continued insistently as if Midoriya hadn’t said anything else. In front of them, Iida began to nod emphatically, seeming quick to agree with the “stranger’s” words. “I would never discount the importance of being soulmates, but I do not doubt your importance to each other, either.”

After letting out a shuddering gasp, Midoriya seemed to feel more grounded. The anxious pulsing at his temples had soothed, and he unclenched his hand to carefully cradle his cast. “That’s right,” he repeated softly, feeling the pounding of his heart settle in his chest. “He’s still important to me, and that would never change.”

“Midoriya,” Iida began, sounding so grave that Midoriya and All Might turned to him immediately. “Had I gotten there sooner… had I been able to find him before…”

“It’s not your fault,” Midoriya cut in, blinking up at his friend. “You couldn’t have known.”

“I wanted to seek him out myself,” Iida protested, the corners of his lips turning up in an uncharacteristic snarl. Beside him, Midoriya felt All Might tense.

“But—“ Iida’s face smoothed out, and he reached up to rub at his eyes behind his glasses. “I know. I know now—had I stayed, lingered any longer, our friends would have been in incredible danger. I only wish I had made it back in time with pro heroes before… before Stain had woken up.”

“You didn’t know,” Midoriya repeated weakly, pressing his good hand to his chest again. “And I’m fine. Todoroki is fine.”

“You knew to leave for help, and that could arguably be one of the more important qualities of a hero,” All Might interjected, punctuating his sentence with a weak cough. “There isn’t anything to be gained by seeking revenge.”

Iida was silent for another moment, before settling his glasses back into place with a solemn nod. He looked up again to eye All Might’s frail form curiously. “Who are you, sir?”

All Might spluttered. “I am—I am a family friend of Midoriya, here.”

Midoriya’s mouth quirked up in a nervous smile of relief when Iida accepted this with a shrug. The relief at waking up safe and sound, with everyone well, was an incredible relief. Still, there was at least one person he needed to see with his own eyes before his nerves could be soothed.

Midoriya looked up stonily, gulping. “Where is he? I want to see him.”

All Might let out a long sigh. “Young Todoroki? Now that, I don’t know. He took off a little while ago, it seems. He was awake for quite a while.”

“Oh,” Midoriya said, voice small. “He’s gone?”

Part of him—no, all of him—had desperately wished that he would have woken up to Todoroki sitting at his bedside as well. And Midoriya was worried about him as well. Why didn’t he stay?

“Well, we can help you find him… after the necessities have been completed. You’re going to have to speak with the authorities, but fear not! I will come with you!” All Might coughed self-consciously into a fist when Iida seemed to perk up at the familiar intonation, looking curiously at the withered looking man.

“All Might. I’m a big fan of him,” said All Might.

“Okay,” Midoriya said reluctantly, over Iida’s hum of understanding. “I’m sure I’ll see him soon.”

As Midoriya waited for All Might to bring the investigators, he glanced over at a nearby tabletop, where he found his battered cellphone lying broken and useless. There was no chance of contacting Todoroki… and even if he could, would Todoroki have even picked up?

“Interesting. My teacher came in a while ago—All Might, Midoriya, I’m sure he will return to check on you—and he was wearing the same suit. Though yours is a little… bigger…” Iida coughed. “Nevertheless, it is a fine suit. You and our teacher have good taste.”

“Indeed we do,” All Might replied faintly, and Midoriya couldn’t help but smile in amusement.

 

 

--- --- ---

 

 

 

“Where are you?”

Todoroki ground the words out like they pained him. It wasn’t far from the truth—those had been the first words he’d spoken ever since Stain had happened, and ever since, he hadn’t allowed himself even a single drop of water from the moment he’d woken up. All of him had been too preoccupied with the aching, gaping feeling in his chest. Not again.

The first thing he’d done upon waking up in the hospital room was detach himself from whatever they’d hooked him up to, his head swiveling to catch sight of his soulmate. A nurse, who had happened to be in the room at the time, screamed as he’d violently tore himself up and away from his bed.

But she couldn’t have stopped him anyway. The moment he’d seen Midoriya lying across the room in a hospital bed, Todoroki had all but stormed over to his soulmate’s side, chest heaving with anxiety.

Midoriya had merely been asleep, a newly scarred hand resting on his stomach, and a white casted arm propped up by a pillow. His brow was furrowed even in rest, and his mouth seemed to move in a wordless mumble. Todoroki snorted—no doubt his soulmate was dreaming of analytics of different heroes. (Part of him hoped if he had to dream about any hero’s statistics, it would be Todoroki’s. He even found the idea kind of romantic.) Todoroki had let out a sigh before slouching down to press a kiss to Midoriya’s forehead (and the nurse had let out a tiny squeak behind him).

He had spent much of his time by Midoriya, even as the investigators came in to gather him and his classmates together for questioning. Even before that, All Might had come to their room personally with words of warning, to which Todoroki and Iida—temporarily wakened by the anxious fussing of the nurse—had taken seriously.

Now though, Todoroki was storming the halls in new clothes that his sister had brought from home. And, according to her, his father was there as well. Not that Todoroki had been granted the honor of his presence, no. But even so, Todoroki was intent on finding his father.

He’d been on multiple floors already, and Todoroki could feel himself begin to burn/ice his clothes out of sheer irritation. Not wanting to find himself stuffed into yet another ill-fitting hospital gown, Todoroki paused before another corner of the hallway to will his temper down and quell the stinging he was feeling at his sides. He tried, hard, not to think about how dull even those sensations had become without the thrum of his connection to Midoriya. With a low huff, Todoroki moved to round the corner.

Not a second later, he heard the familiar rumble of a voice used to being listened to, and he backtracked immediately, honing in on the source like a missile. Endeavor was in the middle of speaking to one of the people Todoroki recognized as one of the authorities. Not that it mattered to him. With a final, definite sounding crash of the sound of Todoroki bumping, and knocking over a thankfully empty trash can (unintentional—Todoroki was a lot dizzier than he had let on to the doctor and nurses), he got Endeavor’s attention with a bang.

“What are you doing?” his father said sharply, already sounding both dismissive and resentful of his son’s presence. “Shouldn’t you be in bed?”

“Got treatment,” Todoroki said bluntly. “I need to speak to you.”

Endeavor’s faced remained carefully neutral, even though his eye seemed to twitch. “It can wait.”

Ignoring this, Todoroki stepped forward and jabbed himself in the chest with a thumb. He glared back at his father’s face, constantly aflame just like his goddamned ego. “I don’t have it anymore.”

Endeavor’s eyes widened. “What?”

“I don’t have the soulmate connection anymore,” Todoroki said, each syllable dragging against his throat. Every word was emphasized with a sharp jab to his own chest, almost as if he were drilling a hole into where his connection used to be, a new scar in its place. It was so, so worth the pain of hearing the words out loud when he saw the shock displayed on his father’s face. The investigator beside him looked stunned as well.

“I don’t have it,” Todoroki repeated, knowing the heat he was feeling was probably making his throat and face red, turning him harassed and wild looking. “Stain took it, and destroyed it. But I still love Midoriya.

Endeavor’s face went from carefully molded disdain to disgust in a second. “Pathetic.”

“This changes nothing,” Todoroki continued as if the man hadn’t even spoken. “I’m going to stay with him, grow old with him, and fight all the villains in the world with him. And if you can’t get that, then that’s too bad. There isn’t any more of a connection for you to threaten to make me use.” And with that, Todoroki spun on his heel, righted the trash can, and left.

 

 

--- --- ---

 

 

Where are you?

Upon returning after his search for his father, Todoroki did not find Midoriya back in the same hospital room that he had left him and Iida in. The sheets were neatly folded, and the nurse had carefully told him that his friends had been discharged. In the time that it had taken Todoroki to find his father, Midoriya had been taken home by his mother—or so an odd looking, skinny man passing by the door of the hospital room had informed him. Todoroki had eyed him with distrust until the nurse had nodded her head in confirmation, and Todoroki had let out an almost silent sigh of frustration.

Wouldn’t have Midoriya chosen to wait for him? He was almost sure he’d told someone to tell Midoriya that he would be back soon… “Almost” being the keyword.

Todoroki cursed in a low undertone, mentally berating himself for not having stayed by Midoriya’s bedside until the boy had woken up. What if Midoriya took it as yet another sign of being jilted, especially now that they technically no longer had a connection?

‘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?’ A trust placed there by his time with Midoriya, a seed of hesitance planted by a conversation with his father, and words that had snaked around and further weakened Todoroki’s own shakily built confidence.

‘Shut up! You don’t know him! Todoroki would never just use me.’ Midoriya, wholeheartedly believing in the kind of person Todoroki was.

‘My… my father said…’ Todoroki, still not even knowing for sure what kind of person he wanted to be.

Todoroki had frozen the door he’d leaned up against, and both the skinny looking man and harried nurse had let out twin yelps of shock.

His sister came by to collect him not long after that, warning him in undertone that their father seemed in a particularly bad mood “for some reason”.

Now he was in his room, the day after waking at the hospital, silently berating himself over the fact that he had absolutely no way of contacting Midoriya. Both of their phones had either been lost or smashed in the ensuing rubble after the fight with Stain. Stain, goddamn him. Todoroki gritted his teeth as he inspected the scar, laid out in a diagonal direction across his chest. The radio silence from Midoriya had drove him to roll out of bed and grab at a slightly wrinkled UA uniform set.

Todoroki passed a hand over the newly formed scar, and the corners of his lips curved downwards. With a steady sigh, he pulled on his uniform shirt, watching until the cloth was buttoned and covered the last of his reminder of what he’d lost. The heat and anger had dwindled into a low simmer, and rather than anything else, Todoroki knew all he wanted was to see Midoriya.

As far as he knew, the knowledge of what had happened between him, his friends, and Stain had stayed hushed information between those who had been directly involved, as well as the authorities. But there was no way someone like grape-head (Mineta?) could have kept their mouth shut, despite not having been there the entire time. Rumors were bound to fly—but just how many of them were in regards to his connection with Midoriya?

His severed connection. Todoroki scowled slightly, watching his brows furrow in the mirror. Just the thought of entering school again while so many questions were left unanswered (the villains, the nomu, how Stain was able to cut the connection as if it were ribbon), Todoroki wanted, desperately, to see his soulmate.

And he’s still my soulmate, Todoroki thought resolutely, unconsciously tapping one finger on the knot of his tie in an anxious rhythm. Nothing changes that.

I just need to know if he knows that.

But with no phone and no soulmate connection, Todoroki knew his only way to see Midoriya as soon as possible was to go to school and fend off any rumors that might have started to spread.

His spirit wavered, however, when he found himself stepping into class with barely a minute before the bell, only to see Midoriya’s seat empty.

With only the slightest downturn of his lips to belie his dismay, Todoroki slid into his seat, acknowledging Yaoyorozu’s wave of concerned questions about his whereabouts during the attack with mumbled excuses. Most of his classmates seemed to leap from the same two topics and back, chattering excitedly about their upcoming hero internships, and lowering their voices nervously over what they’d seen in the news.

Todoroki could see Uraraka slumped over her desk, head down and most likely asleep. Iida looked even more composed than he usually did, nothing but the fists on top of his desk proving just how rattled he still was. In fact, most of the students that had been present when Stain attacked had shown up for class attendance (and Asui kept discreetly slapping Mineta the second the boy even tried to open his mouth).

They were all here, but Midoriya wasn’t.

Todoroki turned his head away, scanning one last hopeful time for the chance that Midoriya was just tucked away in another corner of the classroom, when he locked eyes with Bakugou.

With a start, he realized that the boy was fuming—and in reality, was not even looking at Todoroki in the first place. Todoroki realized that Bakugou was glaring daggers at Kirishima, who had wandered over to speak with Yaoyorozu. Todoroki could see a bandage discreetly peeking out of former’s uniform sleeve.

Raising his eyebrows, he turned back to shoot Bakugou a curious glance, which the boy returned with a snarl once he noticed Todoroki looking at him. Whatever was going on with those two, Todoroki couldn’t have cared less. Especially not when he saw a flash of green appear at the front of the classroom.

With a loud scrape against linoleum, Todoroki pushed back his chair at the sight of Midoriya nervously grimacing at the ground, one of his arms bandaged up in a clean, white cast. Before he could open his mouth to say something, Aizawa cleared his throat, loudly.

“Class,” he said slowly, enunciating every word, “is in session.”

Todoroki carefully sat himself back in his seat, going completely silent when he realized that Midoriya wouldn’t even look at him.

His soulmate’s eyes were fixed on his shoes as he walked over to his desk, only responding to Uraraka with a smile when she reached out to give his uninjured arm a comforting pat. Soon, most of his classmates were alive with anxious chatter, loudly and worriedly questioning Midoriya if he had been attacked by one of the creatures they’d seen onscreen.

“I said class is in session,” Aizawa echoed sternly, but Todoroki caught the cut of his eyes towards Midoriya, belying his concern. Aizawa’s gaze even found Todoroki’s, which the boy returned steadily, acknowledging that his teacher was aware of what had taken place.

Then his eyes found the back of Midoriya’s head, silently determined to watch the latter right up until the bell, and feeling déjà vu to when he’d been trying to deal with the beginnings of their connection in the first place.

 

 

---- -----

 

Midoriya had heard everything.

When he’d been fully discharged from the hospital, Midoriya had given his mother some sort of harried excuse and detached himself from his company. He hadn’t been ready to leave, not without Todoroki.

In reality, it wasn’t even too hard to find him.

Todoroki had been mid-shout when Midoriya had been about to round the corner, and if it weren’t for the content of his words, Midoriya would have darted out immediately to stand by his side. As it was, it seemed he’d caught the tail end of a confession that left his ears burning.

“I don’t have it,” Todoroki had said, heat suffusing his words. “Stain took it, and destroyed it. But I still love Midoriya.

Midoriya squeaked, and was grateful that Todoroki and Endeavor (Midoriya’s eyes narrowed in concern from where he peeked nosily around the corner) were too concentrated on each other to pay anything else any mind. “I’m going to stay with him, grow old with him, and fight all the villains in the world with him. And if you can’t get that, then that’s too bad. There isn’t any more of a connection for you to threaten to make me use.”

When Todoroki had spun around, looking furious, Midoriya backpedaled and hastily flung himself through the nearest doorway. Peeking through the glass panel, he watched nervously as Todoroki’s head passed by in a rush, his heart thrumming in his chest. He’d turned around then to lean nervously against the hospital door, only to come face to face with a concerned looking old man, leaning against a headboard.

“He loves me,” was all Midoriya had said weakly, before turning back to wrench the door open again. (Faintly, as he left, Midoriya thought he could hear a soft, “the youth is so lively these days.”)

Now, sitting in his desk chair and feeling the heat of Todoroki’s stare on his neck (déjà vu, much?) Midoriya sorely wish he had stayed, lingered long enough for Todoroki to see him as he came around the corner.

It would have been so much easier than waiting for one whole near-sleepless night, wondering just how to eloquently pass his own feelings to Todoroki.

He felt shy--more shy and awkward than he’d ever felt in his life, all because Todoroki said he loved him. Midoriya shuffled in his seat, torn between nerves and excitement. What would he do now? Wait for his soulmate by the doorway and declare his love, right where everyone could see? Bakugou would probably die from laughing at him. Although—Midoriya clicked a mental pause button on his happiness, remembering the explosion during the Stain fight. It hadn’t been hard to put two and two together, but now, with everything calm, Midoriya wondered just how Bakugou would react to having an actual soulmate. Midoriya couldn’t imagine Bakugou being “loveydovey” with anyone.

A harsh kick to the back of his chair shook him from his thoughts, and Midoriya turned hastily in his seat, automatically guilty at the idea that Bakugou had sensed the direction his thoughts had taken him.

“You’re muttering again, idiot,” Bakugou ground out, and Midoriya blinked at him. The tone of his voice lacked the usual bite, and the boy seemed weary, despite lacking any visible signs of a wound. Midoriya frowned in sympathy at the memory of how his first connection with Todoroki had left him completely drained, despite him not having known who his soulmate was at the time. Not to mention that Bakugou and Kirishima hadn’t even yet had their second contact, and his and Todoroki’s had left him completely shattered, in more ways than one.

Speaking of which… Midoriya’s eyes drifted from Bakugou’s irritable expression to Todoroki, seated in the back row. When their stares connected, Todoroki leaned forward a little further across his desk, his frown deepening. With a squeak, Midoriya wheeled back around in his chair. His ears were burning. Did Todoroki notice? Todoroki could probably see. Midoriya ducked his head lower, bringing his shoulders up, and Bakugou let out an annoyed snort from behind him. Faintly, he heard something snap in the back row, and Midoriya heard Momo softly offer someone a fresh pencil.

Midoriya felt that just going, I feel the same way! was too… bland. Or something. Todoroki deserved so much better. His soulmate had stood up against his father, again, all in the name of defending Midoriya. He’d instantly felt ashamed of himself for even thinking that the lack of a soulmate bond meant anything—Todoroki was still important to him. Midoriya felt the blush on his cheeks return full force, and he pressed his good hand against his face.

The rest of the class periods seemed to pass by in a blur, and Midoriya watched almost fearfully as the clock in front of the classroom ticked down to the last five minutes before the lunch break. It was now or never—well, not never, but Midoriya refused to wait any longer to speak to his soulmate. It was stupid of him to have just let Todoroki pass by like that, without showing himself and revealing to the other boy just how much he knew. And how happy that had made him. Midoriya tensed when the bell rang, and stood up so fast his chair clipped the edge of Bakugou’s desk (which was met with a low snarl).

 

---- ---- ----

 

Midoriya was crying. He was sure of it. Todoroki blanched when Midoriya had promptly turned in his seat after they’d locked eyes, only to hunch over and pass a hand across his cheek a moment later.

Todoroki was horrified. Just how much had he led Midoriya into thinking that Todoroki didn’t want him anymore? He blinked a pencil that Yaoyorozu offered him, confused for a split second until he saw the remains of his previous writing utensil, sitting half destroyed in his hand. Not taking his eyes off of Midoriya, Todoroki accepted the pencil with a murmured thanks, and didn’t even use it for the following class periods.

The second the bell rang for lunch, and Todoroki stood just as Midoriya did. There was no way he was letting there be any chance that Midoriya would avoid him, whether it be out of a sense of self-preservation, or out of some misplaced respect for what he might have assumed Todoroki’s wishes were. That maybe, possibly, Midoriya had concluded that Todoroki had returned to his initial opinion—distaste and disregard—of soulmates.

No way in hell was Todoroki going to risk that.

Midoriya,” Todoroki said abruptly, and he winced a little when the word carried across the room like a whip lash. More than half the class paused their own conversations to wheel around at Todoroki, who was too worried about Midoriya to care what anyone else thought at that point.

He stepped deliberately towards his soulmate’s desk, and Midoriya looked positively terrified. And tear-free, confusingly enough. When he finally stood in front of Midoriya, Todoroki paused, taking in wide green eyes and ruffled hair. He… actually hadn’t thought this far. It had been so much easier to convey his thoughts to his father. Todoroki couldn’t even remember what he’d said, aside from the obvious. An impromptu ‘I love you’ would probably scare Midoriya shitless, despite Todoroki being unable to think of any other three words aside from the phrase.

For the lack of anything better to think of, Todoroki ground out a pained, “Izuku”, before grabbing his soulmate’s chin and leaning in for a kiss.

It seemed like a good idea… for all of three seconds. Their lips parted with a wet pop as Midoriya shoved him forcefully away, and the sound was punctuated by loud squeals from the girls and horrified groans from the boys.

“Shouto!” Midoriya said, and even though his tone was a mixture of horrified and reprimanding, Todoroki felt gratified to hear that they were still on a first name basis. The relief was probably why he didn’t stop himself from reaching forward and tugging Midoriya into a hug, which set off yet another round of surprised squealing from the girls.

Todoroki had a distinct feeling that he was definitely not supposed to be acting like this, but… He pressed his cheek against Midoriya’s, part of him flashing back to the sight of his soulmate lying unmoving next to him, bleeding out from the cut on his chest, and Todoroki found that he didn’t really care whether or not he was judged for this.

“I love you,” and well, those weren’t the words Todoroki had meant to say. Still, he gritted his teeth and plowed on. “Being bonded to you was the best thing that ever happened to me—but all it did was show me something that I would have realized at some point in the future. Whether or not we’re connected by some sort of mythical tie, I don’t think I’ll ever want to end what we have.

I love you,” Todoroki continued, feeling his left side start to burn with embarrassment, especially when he realized Midoriya was still rigid in his arms, “whether we have a soulmate connection, or… or not.”

“What the fuck,” Bakugou said emphatically. Somewhere to his right, Todoroki thought he heard Kirishima sigh wistfully.

“Shouto,” Midoriya said, and Todoroki tensed.

“Even if you don’t believe me, I’ll prove it to you,” Todoroki interrupted solemnly, squeezing Midoriya tighter. “I…”

“You’re going to stay with me, grow old with me, and fight all the villains in the world with me, right?”

Todoroki froze as he registered what Midoriya was saying, and why, exactly, it sounded so familiar.

Midoriya leaned back a little in their embrace, a nervous smile on his face. “I, um… I overheard what you said to Endeavor in the hospital,” he mumbled, too low for their classmates to hear. “I was actually going to talk to you about that now, but you, um. You beat me to it.” Their faces flamed up at the same time, and Todoroki had the distinct feeling that he should let Midoriya go immediately, if the smoking on his left sleeve was any indication.

“Alright, alright,” came a bored voice, and Todoroki felt the budding flames on his arm extinguish immediately. Aizawa was glaring at them both, looking pained to have to waste his energy on something like this. “Whatever is going on here needs to be happening somewhere else. That is not here. Privacy,” their teacher continued, “which is something you should have thought of before starting a soap opera in the middle of my classroom.”

Todoroki schooled his expression into his usual poker face, but even he knew it was too late. Uraraka had covered her face in secondhand embarrassment, and Bakugou was scowling furiously, as if the whole ordeal had caused him extreme pain. Todoroki didn’t even bother looking at the rest of his classmates as Midoriya extracted himself from the hug and grabbed at Todoroki’s hand to lead them out of the classroom at a near run.

“Midoriya,” Todoroki said as they came to a stop in a deserted hallway, thankfully free of students who had already left to seek lunch. “Listen, I’m sorry if I—“

I’m sorry!” Midoriya interrupted, wheeling back around to stare at up at his soulmate. “I heard you yesterday, and you said all those things, and I just got nervous! I didn’t mean to make you think that you had to do… all of that…” Midoriya trailed off with a blush before letting go of Todoroki’s hand to cover his face. “Not—not that I care what anyone thinks, but that was…”

“Sorry,” Todoroki repeated, feeling chagrined.

“No, no,” Midoriya said vehemently, removing his hand from his face and reaching for Todoroki again. “I… it was nice, hearing it all again.” He ducked his head away in embarrassment.

“I already know,” Midoriya continued, “that we don’t need the connection to be together. It was nice for a time. But now that I have you here, I don’t think… I don’t think I need much else.”

Todoroki absently noted that the tips of Midoriya’s ears were beginning to turn violently red. Cute.

“A-and I already know we’re going to be great heroes, with or without an amplification. You know? I have a goal,” Midoriya’s face turned extremely serious, “and a mission. I want to be the best.” He looked up at Todoroki, finally. “And it’d be nice if I could reach that goal with you.”

Todoroki passed a hand through his hair, exhaling. “You know… it’s going to be a little tough for you to be the best if I’m the best.”

Midoriya’s mouth fell open for a second, before happiness lit up his face, and he lightly smacked Todoroki on the arm. “You—that was a joke! You’re making jokes now!”

“Trying, at least,” Todoroki replied, letting a soft smile overtake his face. He grabbed for Midoriya’s hand again, entwining their fingers and pressing their hands against his chest. “It’s a weird feeling, and it’s definitely going to take some getting used to, not being able to feel you right here. But still…” Todoroki let his other hand come up to cradle Midoriya’s chin. “I guess I could just make up for it.”

“Wha—“ Now Midoriya’s face was a full on red, and Todoroki would have laughed (maybe, possibly) if he hadn’t been aware that his face was probably the same exact shade, despite his efforts to stay composed.

“Isn’t it your turn?” Todoroki murmured, and even though he felt like something out of one of those cheesy romcoms his sister couldn’t stop watching, it seemed to have the right effect. Midoriya stuttered out a set of incoherent phrases before squeezing his eyes shut and leaning forward.

Todoroki’s eyes were already half lidded, ready to lean down the rest of the way to meet his soulmate—

—when Midoriya pushed away, blubbering nervously. Todoroki’s eyes flew open in consternation, and he stared down at his soulmate in confusion.

“By the way, I wanted to ask before, but then everything happened and it seemed like there was never a good time to ask something like this, but I still wanted to ask if the option was still out there, and—“

“Izuku,” Todoroki interjected, squeezing his soulmates cheeks together. “Stop. What?”

“A date,” Midoriya said breathlessly. “Would you like to go on a date with me?”

 

 

 

 

--- ---- ---

 

 

 

Todoroki uneasily smoothed down the front of his dress shirt, patting down at a stubborn wrinkle as if he had the power to smooth it out himself.

Actually… Todoroki paused for a moment before letting his hand hover tentatively over the fabric.

Half a second and one moment of misjudged power later found Todoroki hastily extinguishing his own fire with his other hand, effectively icing his own shirt and rendering the clothing useless and unwearable.

“Ah…” Embarrassed, Todoroki immediately shucked it off, tossing it into the trash can next to his desk. Luckily no one had been around to see that, and aside from the acrid smell of burnt fabric, there was no other sign that Todoroki had essentially set himself on fire. Number one heroes definitely did not misjudge their own power so embarrassingly like that, and Todoroki spent a good few seconds silently chastising himself, before the chime of his cellphone alerted him to two things.

One, he had a text message from Midoriya.

Two, he was about to be late to their very first date, if the numbers gleaming above the text message notification were any indication.

Startled into action, Todoroki wheeled around. With uncharacteristic franticness, he flipped through the shirts hanging neatly in a row in his closet. Every single one of them were alright for public appearances next to his overbearing father, or important interviews with academic hero officials, but—a date? What did people even wear on dates these days? He had half a mind to ask his sister (god forbid he ask his father), or even resort to searching up images of stills from famous romance dramas (there had to be a perfect example in that drama his sister had mentioned once, right?).

The chime of another text alerted Todoroki to the fact that he had time for absolutely none of those things, and he let out a tiny sigh before grabbing at an unassuming plain tee hanging off to the side of his closet, and throwing on an open button up on top of it. One pat of his pocket to check if his wallet was still there, and Todoroki was out the door, pausing to roll up his sleeves before sliding his phone unlocked to check his messages.

Todoroki, the first one read, I’m about to leave my house! I’ll text you when I’m a few minutes away. And then, a smiley emoticon. Todoroki was sure he hadn’t seen Midoriya use one of those before, and he had to fight back a tiny smile himself.

I told him to call me ‘Shouto’, Todoroki thought, beginning to jog.

Ah! I forgot my wallet! the second message read. I’m sorry, I might be a little late. But I promise I’ll hurry!

Relieved that he wouldn’t be keeping Midoriya waiting, Todoroki tapped in a quick response, balancing his attention between the screen and the sidewalk before him. If Midoriya had to double back home, Todoroki certainly had enough time to make it. Take your time, Todoroki tapped into the message box, there’s no rush.

Midoriya’s delay brought him enough time to make the next train and arrive at their meeting spot, and looking around, Todoroki couldn’t see a bushy head of dark hair in the crowd anywhere. Feeling slightly relieved, Todoroki plopped down onto a bench, content to wait and people watch.

Ever since Midoriya had assured him that he still liked Todoroki, connection or not (Todoroki began to blush a little at the thought), Todoroki had been determined to prove just how much he liked Midoriya too.

He studied one couple, standing close together by a fountain, shoulders touching and hands entwined, and he imagined doing that with Midoriya. His blush became more pronounced, and he had to focus not to set himself on fire once again. Even so, Todoroki did his best to curb any secondhand embarrassment at the thought—he wanted to show his affection in a casual manner (the spectacle he hadn’t meant to put on in the classroom was horrifying to look back on), and if it meant doing things like… that… Todoroki was willing to give it a try. Kind of.

“Todoroki!”

He glanced up at the sound of Midoriya’s voice, feeling the involuntary blush on his face coming back full force. His soulmate looked flushed too, though that might have been from the running. Midoriya looked chastened and nervous, and he spewed out apologies between gasps of air, even has he braced his hands on his knees.

“I hope you didn’t wait long, I—I totally forgot that I left my wallet in my backpack, and when I was leaving my mom was even like ‘don’t forget your money!’ But even so, I completely blanked out, just because I was kind of nervous, and I’m really sorry, y-you don’t want to hear about all that—but again, I’m just really sorry I’m late, and—“

“Izuku,” Todoroki said, and the stress of calling his soulmate by his first name in a relaxed public setting made it come out sharper than Todoroki had intended. Midoriya froze, looking terrified, and this was not how Todoroki wanted their first date to start out.

“Uh… It’s fine,” Todoroki said, clumsily slipping an arm around Midoriya’s shoulders. They stood there in silence, side by side and staring off into the distance like a pair of dumbstruck tourists. Todoroki spared the couple by the fountain a quick glance—he thought, maybe, that he might have done it wrong.

“Um…” Midoriya mumbled, ears bright red.

Yup. Definitely wrong. Todoroki gave a tiny unintelligible mumble before extracting his arm from around Midoriya’s shoulders. A hand stopped him before he could move too far away though, and Todoroki looked over in surprise, only to find himself face to face with the reddened tip of Midoriya’s ear.

“Can—can we stay like this?” Midoriya asked sheepishly, ducking his chin closer to his chest. Midoriya’s hand left his wrist to twine their fingers together, and Todoroki felt a blush heating his cheeks.

“I… yes,” Todoroki said, bringing his free hand up to scratch nervously at the back of his neck. Midoriya’s palm was warm in his, and it was all he could seem to focus on.

“So… where did you want to go first?” Todoroki asked, silently applauding himself for getting a coherent sentence out. Midoroya pursed his lips, looking genuinely thoughtful at the question.

“Have you eaten yet?” Midoriya said after a moment. “I’m not too hungry yet, but we can grab something if you want to.”

“Maybe coffee?” Todoroki suggested. Making plans was easy. Being with Midoriya was easy. Maybe he wouldn’t be so bad at being a normal boyfriend after all.

“Sure!” Midoriya replied, smiling eagerly. “And then after that, there’s a new All Might exhibition that’s just been constructed, so it might be fun to look around there too! I heard they’re showcasing a lot of pro heroes with amazing quirks, not just All Might—“

Todoroki smiled back, giving the hand in his a gentle squeeze. More than easy, he amended. Natural, just like breathing.

“Oh!”

Todoroki glanced back down at Midoriya questioningly, and the boy beamed back at him. “I forgot to… to give a greeting,” he said shyly. “And it was my turn anyway, right?”

Todoroki only had a split second to form his mouth around the beginnings of a question before Midoriya’s lips were on his. The other boy lingered for a moment before leaning back, an embarrassed flush suffusing his face again.

“S-so,” Midoriya said hastily, averting his eyes shyly to his feet. “Coffee, right?”

It was kind of a shame that Midoriya wasn’t looking at him, really, because Todoroki couldn’t stop smiling at his soulmate.

“Yeah,” he replied softly, squeezing their hands together again. “Let’s go.”