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Barely Missing Defeat

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Satou is lying on his back, feet hanging over the edge of his mattress and eyes tracing the cracks in his ceiling, when Kouda slips into his room.

 

Satou removes a fraying ear bud. “You staying over?”

 

Kouda nods and grabs a quilt from a pile by the door. He bends down to get on Satou’s bed and walks on his knees until they are perpendicular. Without a word, Kouda flops down, planting his head in Satou’s gut.

 

The other boy lets out an ‘oof’ and Kouda absently pats his knee while trying to shake out the quilt with one hand. He gives up after a second, annoyed at the blanket’s failure to spread out flat, and sits up to pull it over his legs.

 

When he lays back down, Kouda makes an act of carefully putting his head on Satou’s stomach.

 

Satou snorts and reaches out a hand. Kouda doesn’t hesitate to meet him halfway and their fingers curl together. Satou can feel the ratty cuff of Kouda’s sweatshirt against his fingertips, the drag of callouses against his palm.

 

He taps his thumb against the back of Kouda’s hand. A previously imperceptible weight in his stomach lifts and Satou sighs.

 

They rest like that for a minute. Kouda’s eyes track around the room. Satou has one of those big mattresses, easily queen size, and it lies on his floor with its sheets puddling out around it. There’s a basket of dirty clothes shoved behind the dresser, a discarded jacket that Kouda knows he’s going to take draped over a chair, a pile of books sliding haphazardly out of a worn backpack. It looks like Satou had been trying to work on math but gave up.

 

Kouda twists his head, readjusting until he’s facing Satou. He untangles their fingers to move his arm out from where it’s awkwardly wedged underneath him. After getting comfortable, he taps Satou’s shoulder with his other hand, makes a grabbing gesture for an ear bud.

 

Satou raises his eyebrows. “You’re probably not gonna like it,” he warns.

 

“I’ll be fine.”

 

Satou passes an ear bud over. Kouda rubs it clean on the other boy’s shirt and sticks it in his ear. Satou makes an over exaggerated gagging noise and Kouda snickers.

 

808’s crackle through the speaker, sound distorted by exposed wires. Kouda frowns, lifts the cord up a bit, and holds it there when a voice finally cuts through the white noise.

 

“Rikidou.”

 

“Hm?” He’s grinning, eyes creased and chest trembling as he tries to hold back his giggles.

 

“Why does he keep repeating ‘Gucci Gang’?”

 

Satou laughs. Kouda can feel his head shake up and down from where it rests on the other boy’s ribcage. Satou reaches down, wraps an arm around Kouda’s back and pulls him further up his chest.

 

“It’s art, Kouji. High quality shit. The stuff they put in museums.”

 

“Mm.” Kouda digs his head into Satou’s collarbone. The movement shifts the ear bud cord and the sound fades out to just bass.

 

Kouda brings his knees up to his chest, pulling the quilt with him until the arm Satou has draped across his side is covered. The song changes, the bass line picks up and high hats cut in and out when Satou breathes.

 

Kouda listens to the steady thud of Satou’s heart, warm and regular compared to whatever Satou is playing. He keeps the ear bud in, even if he doesn’t much care for it. It matters to Satou, so Kouda can at least appreciate it for that.

 

They have a thing, the two of them, a relationship that cuts between friendship and something more. They grew up together, back when everyone thought Satou’s quirk was just strength and Kouda cycled between tapping his hands loudly on every surface he could and anxious silence. They have grown into themselves together.

 

They have a thing, the two of them. Something growing up didn’t change, a comfort in each other’s company, an ease of affection. Kouda threads his fingers through Satou’s again and together, they breathe in the stillness of the room.

 

Later, when Satou’s headphones have finally descended into pure static, Kouda will bring up bruises in the shape of palms and burns and nightmares and a desperate need to protect their friend.

 

They—well, they honestly have little power to help. Kouda knows this, but it still makes him sick to think about. Todoroki’s already told a teacher, has already moved into the U.A. dorms, but Kouda feels like there should be more.

 

They were raised with an intrinsic understanding that the bad guys, the villains, go to jail. It was not complicated: commit a crime, get punished for it.

 

Endeavor has done something terrible but look where he is. It burns Kouda, burrows into his heart and fills him with anger that prickles under his skin. It hurts him. Kouda knows he’s going to be a hero, knows he is training to save people and he will.

 

But for the first time in his life, he has discovered that adults are not the infallible paragons of justice he thought they were. Adults, heroes even, are human. And sometimes, humans can’t do anything.

 

And that—that right there—pains him.

--

 

6:45am

Three Tall Boys (and two short ones)

 

Satou Rikidou: who else pulled an all nighter lmaooooooo

Tokoyami Fumikage: Literally no one

Tokoyami Fumikage: What the fuck is wrong with you

Satou Rikidou: idk lol

Shouji Mezou: I’m at a café right now. You want some coffee?

Satou Rikidou: mezou,,,, have i ever told u how much ily

Shouji Mezou: At least four times a week.

Tokoyami Fumikage: He’s being generous. More than seven easily

Shouji Mezou: Be nice. I have a chai for you.

Satou Rikidou: can u get me a skinny latte

Shouji Mezou: Kouji?

Kouda Kouji: green tea (˵ ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°˵)♡

Satou Rikidou: thats a cursed lenny if i ever saw one

Kouda Kouji: (˵ ͡~ ͜ʖ ͡°˵)ノ⌒♡*:・。

Shouji Mezou: Todoroki?

Satou Rikidou: u gotta @ him bro

Tokoyami Fumikage: @Todoroki

Shouji Mezou: @Todoroki

Todoroki Shouto: red eye

Kouda Kouji: cryptid

Satou Rikidou: bigfoot is real and he ate my ass

Tokoyami Fumikage: I swear to god if you ask who wants to fuck Mothman again

Shouji Mezou: Do you not want your tea?

Tokoyami Fumikage: …

Kouda Kouji: lol

Kouda Kouji: fumikage and mezou like (。-_-。)/ (`Д´)凸

Todoroki Shouto: i am eternally impressed and terrified by koujis emojis

Satou Rikidou: if that aint me

Satou Rikidou: ily babe

Kouda Kouji: <3

Shouji Mezou: Ordering right now. I’ll be there soon.

Tokoyami Fumikage: Thank you

Todoroki Shouto: thanks

Kouda Kouji: bless

Satou Rikidou: ^^^

Satou Rikidou: hey who wants to hear a cursed thought

Tokoyami Fumikage: If this is about Aizawa-sensei’s sex life again I will throw you into the sun

Satou Rikidou: lmao kinky but imagine this

Tokoyami Fumikage: If there is a god out there, please deliver me from this hell

Satou Rikidou: shouji is a walking cupholder

Satou Rikidou: he got 6 hands

Satou Rikidou: just,,, picture it

Tokoyami Fumikage: I’m trying not to

 

-

 

Shouji meets Todoroki outside the U.A. dorms at eleven a.m. on a Saturday. The other boy thumps down the stairs with sleep-stiff legs and blurry eyes. He’s wearing pilling sweatpants and a t-shirt with a hole in the left sleeve. Todoroki stops in front of Shouji and cranes his head back to blink lazily and hum.

 

“Gym?” He asks, mask shifting as his jaw moves.

 

Shouji has his gym bag in his hand, a weight routine on his mind. Internship selections are coming up soon and even though he made it to the tournament, he was kicked out in the first round. What opportunities he gets, he will have to excel in.

 

But he looks at Todoroki and his messy hair like a violent dandelion bloom and a dark bag under his exposed eye and the paleness to his skin that practically reeks of too much stress. He looks at Todoroki and lies through his teeth. “I just got back from lifting.”

 

It’s a bad lie too, one that Todoroki can see through no matter how little sleep he’s getting. But Shouji, Shouji notices things he believes a lot of other people his age don’t. He’s smart, yes, but this is the kind of knowledge that comes from empathy, from understanding in some sense what Todoroki is feeling at this moment and what he needs.

 

See, Todoroki is doing better. He’s in a much more stable environment in a place where he is not in danger emotionally and physically. He’s safe, but he’s not at his best. Shouji looks at Todoroki and sees exhaustion from pushing himself too hard; because at his most basic form, Todoroki is a study in constantly trying to best yourself. And it’s taking a toll, it’s visible.

 

Todoroki raises a single silver eyebrow. “Okay,” he draws the word out as if he’s unsure how to continue.

 

Before he can try to retreat up the stairwell, Shouji says “Do you want to grab breakfast?”

 

They take the bullet train into Tokyo. The trip is a little under a thirty minute ride and they sit in silence the whole way. It’s an easy sort of quiet, one they’ve cultivated over water after workouts and in between staccato footfalls during runs. These are the types of exchanges Shouji appreciates the most, but also the ones he learns the most from. Somewhere along the way they both got into the habit of pulling off their masks and just breathing. Sometimes Shouji picks up a distant thread of conversation and they start talking just as smoothly as they don’t. Sometimes he doesn’t and just revels in the strange sensation of air on his face. Sometimes they sit at Shouji’s kitchen table in his empty apartment and rest in each other’s company.

 

Shouji leads the way to a hole in the wall ramen shop tucked away between a sprawling grocery store and a swarmed musubi stand. A cloud of steam is billowing out from the kitchen and through the open door and they take a seat at the bar to order. A man with gills and spikey hair tucked back in a bandanna grins with jagged teeth at a waitress while he slices menma. A child changes her father’s chopsticks different colors whenever he looks away. Todoroki pulls the bottom of his mask away from his face and hunches over his bowl to eat.

 

Sometime later, Shouji opens his mouth to break the cocoon of quiet that has wrapped around the two of them in the midst of ambient chatter and the clatter of bowls.

 

“Hagakure told me Midnight-sensei has a shrine for Snipe-sensei’s mother,” Shouji informs Todoroki.

 

“Ah,” Todoroki puts down his phone to look at Shouji, “And this isn’t like the time she told Tokoyami that Present Mic listens exclusively to Wonderwall?”

 

Shouji snorts, “She crossed her heart. Or, I believe she did.”

 

“You have to watch out for that. She once promised me she wouldn’t tell anger-issues where my gym was and the next day he burst through the door at six a.m. on a Tuesday and tried to fight me.”

 

“Is that why he arrived two hours early to class yesterday to ambush you?”

 

“Yup.” Todoroki pauses, “How did you know how long he was there?”

 

“Hagakure.”

 

Todoroki scrawls out his signature on the receipt and stands. “Hagakure?”

 

“I’m in a group chat with her, Rikidou, Kirishima, Uraraka, and Iida. The buff squad, apparently.”

 

“I don’t know if I should feel left out or abandoned. I can’t believe you’re cheating on our chat, Mezou.”

 

Shouji laughs at Todoroki’s dry tone. “I wouldn’t dream of it. This is for lifting purposes only.”

 

The ride back is interspersed with small exchanges between the silences they both enjoy. For five minutes, they will both stare out the window. Then, Shouji will lean over and say “Did you hear Kouda found his neighbor’s lost dog?” and Todoroki will reply “Satou said something. Did Tokoyami talk his parents out of getting that cat?” And Shouji will reply that hopefully they will come to their senses and then they will both lapse back into quiet.

 

The sun is high in the sky when Shouji drops Todoroki off at U.A. Before he returns to his room, Todoroki looks up at Shouji and tilts his head as if to ask what's on the other boy’s mind.

 

Shouji takes a breath, holds it, blows out slowly through his nose as he tries to frame his question.

 

“Has Endeavor contacted you?”

 

It sits uncomfortably in the air, heavier than it felt in his gut. Something tastes sour in Shouji’s mouth as Todoroki visibly has to think about it, like it somehow isn’t important to remember if the man who abused him had tried to talk to him since he was kicked out. Todoroki blinks and his shoulder twitches up in a small shrug that appears so unaffected and Shouji has no idea if this is another façade, this blatant disregard to fifteen years of abuse. In that second of stillness the distance between them seems to expand immeasurably. Even Shouji and his maturity cannot touch the thick coat of self-assurance that covers Todoroki completely and seems to elevate him even above this.

 

See, Todoroki has something that even adults struggle with. It’s what Bakugou with all his rage and Iida with all his rules and Kaminari with all his lazy tranquility haven’t quite achieved. Will most likely not achieve until they are much older.

 

Todoroki knows himself. He never underestimates his ability and rarely overestimates it. He knows how to plan, to strategize, to complete projects before they are due and steer conversations with the confidence of a politician.

 

There are cracks, or rather aggressively smoothed over irregularities. Todoroki deflects like no one Shouji knows. Every step away from a sensitive topic is done without any hint of an alternative purpose. He redirects without admitting vulnerability, threads questions away from himself without actively shying from them, bypasses emotional vulnerability better than Rikidou’s ironic declarations and Fumikage’s aloof attitude combined.

 

So when Todoroki shrugs and says, “Not yet,” Shouji has no idea if this is hurting his friend or not.

 

And that bothers Shouji. A lot.

 

-

 

Today at 10:58pm

DAY 28 OF NO NUT NOVEMBER: I HAVE LEARNED HOW TO COMMUNE WITH THE BEASTS

 

tape asmr: Real shit tho wld u fuck mothman??

watt the fuck: nah im more of a wendigo guy

90s fashion: truer words have never been spoken

rufftuffboi: fellas,,,,,

90s fashion: I swear to god eijirou if you finish that fucking sentence

tape asmr: fellas,,

watt the fuck: fellas,,,,,

90s fashion: im gonna fuckin come over there if you don't stop

watt the fuck: ;)

BASS BOOST: is it gay to fuck a cryptid? i mean they eat men… that's kinda gay

90s fashion: this is why bakugou doesn't fucking love us

90s fashion: tbh though id bang the jersey devil

minimight: you know, I don't think its Jirou’s fault Kacchan blocked all of us online.

watt the fuck: wait he rly blocked all of us? I thought it was just me and Hanta

tape asmr: same

90s fashion: nah, im pretty sure its everyone

tailman: I don’t think he knows my name and he has me blocked

rufftuffboi: he hasn't blocked me

90s fashion: OwO

tape asmr: owo

watt the fuck: owwo

watt the fuck: owo*

rufftuffboi: what? sometimes I need to ask about homework

invisibait: lmao we all know the real reason

90s fashion: TOORU!!!

BASS BOOST: damn I keep forgetting youre in this chat

invisibait: @BASS BOOST that's nice but ill never forget what you did between second and third period on October eighth

BASS BOOST: you right. my bad hagakure. please don't expose me.

90s fashion: tooru pullin up with RECEIPTS

airbud: I heard receipts

minimight: hey uraraka!!

airbud: Hey Deku!!

chemicals in the water: Is someone being exposed? Im here for this, my twitter needs more drama

tape asmr: damn its always so weird to know tsuyu has more followers than me

invisibait: not a surprise to me

chemicals in the water: Its okay Sero, Tokoyami has at least ten thousand on me

watt the fuck: wait rly?

90s fashion: ya ive been tryin to get him on my youtube channel for ages

invisibait: for some reason I don't think that's going to happen

BASS BOOST: roasted

90s fashion: ok anyways,

tape asmr: ily mina, rise above them honey

90s fashion: anyways,,, @invisibait u got any hot drama?

airbud: I saw kouda wearing satou’s jacket today

rufftuffboi: that's some good shit

watt the fuck: relationship goals tbh

chemicals in the water: What I want to know is if Tokoyami and Shouji are dating

chemicals in the water: Gotta look out for my fellow anthropomophics

tailman: Leave me out of this.

minimight: I feel really bad asking this, but I’ve always wanted to know what Todoroki’s face looks like.

tape asmr: ^^ same

watt the fuck: same lol

90s fashion: ditto

BASS BOOST: literally everyone wants to, there are actual articles online debating it

airbud: link?

BASS BOOST: https://www.herofeed.com/here-are-ten-possible-renderings-of-todoroki-shoutos-face

rufftuffboi: damn

90s fashion: these are actually rly fucking attractive??

watt the fuck: im kinda gay

tape asmr: we know babe

chemicals in the water: But are these close to the real thing?

invisibait: you know guys, I got a pretty easy solution to answer all these questions

tailman: Oh God.

invisibait: why don't you just ask them yourselves :^)

tape asmr: wait how do u have their discord usernames?

90s fashion: tooru no

watt the fuck: TOORU YES

minimight: oh no.

airbud: Yall done fucked up

BASS BOOSTED: ironic how we started this convo with cryptids and now we are meeting some

rufftuffboi: why are we even still surprised hagakure knows everything??

chemicals in the water: ^^^

invisibait has invited thot lips, Body Horror McGee, im not emo, Dwayne the rock Johnson, and cotton eye joe to the chat

minimight: nope.

minimight has left the chat

thot lips: yooooooooooo

thot lips: what the fuck is this

90s fashion: holy fuck

watt the fuck: satou???

thot lips: holy shit is this the class chat?

thot lips: lemme scroll tf up

airbud: Please don't

rufftuffboi: im so sorry

chemicals in the water: Live tweeting this

thot lips: damn yall have been holding out on me

thot lips: @Dwayne the rock Johnson babe look at them meme

90s fashion: OwO

watt the fuck: owo

Dwayne the rock Johnson: yikes lol

tape asmr: is that kouda??

im not emo: What is this?

BASS BOOST: is that tokoyami??? Holy shit

airbud: who are body horror mcgee and cotton eye joe?

thot lips: guess lol

invisibait: let me introduce everyone

tailman: Please don’t

im not emo: Don't

invisibait:

90s fashion – mina

watt the fuck – kaminari

tape asmr – sero

rufftuffboi – kirishima

minimight – midoriya

airbud – uraraka

chemicals in the water – tsuyu

BASS BOOST – jirou

tailman – ojirou

 

and

 

thot lips - satou

Body Horror McGee – shouji

im not emo – tokoyami

Dwayne the rock Johnson – kouda

cotton eye joe – todoroki

Body Horror McGee: What is this?

thot lips: this is the best day of my fucking life

im not emo: That's what you said yesterday when Kouda stole your jacket

thot lips: damn u right

thot lips: sry babe ily

watt the fuck: oh my god

Dwayne the rock Johnson: <3

90s fashion: !!!!!

chemicals in the water: I’m here for this

tape asmr: are you guys dating???

im not emo: This conversation is interesting and everything but why were we invited here?

thot lips: for my winning personality obvs

im not emo: Hm

im not emo: I thinkith the fuck not

BASS BOOST: wtf is even happening

watt the fuck: am I dreaming?

watt the fuck: did tokoyami just???

Body Horror McGee: Be nice.

Dwayne the rock Johnson: lmao

im not emo: Fine

90s fashion: im hallucinating, im dead, tell my mother I loved her

airbud: this is so pure

invisibait: @im not emo we had questions

im not emo: Oh no

thot lips: im game

watt the fuck: @Body Horror McGee r u and tokoyami dating?

tape asmr: no shame

im not emo: I don't know Kaminari, have you told those three people in this chat about your crush yet?

chemicals in the water: Damn.

thot lips: lmaoooooo

BASS BOOSTED: roasted lol

inivisibait: cool cool, Kaminari is lame. lets get back to something actually interesting

tailman: Please leave me out of this.

watt the fuck: u guys know what todoroki’s face looks like?

Dwayne the rock Johnson: lmao nope

thot lips: idk man

Body Horror McGee: Like a face.

thot lips: wait what

im not emo: Shouji

im not emo: How have you never managed to mention this?

Body Horror Mcgee: It didn’t feel like a dramatic event.

Dwayne the rock Johnson: ?

tape asmr: no one has ever seen his face before? hes like a fucking ninja

airbud: But what did it look like?

BASS BOOST: can you point to the face on the chart it most resembles

im not emo: Again I must ask, how have you not told me this?

Body Horror McGee: Well, it all started during one of our runs.

thot lips: u guys go on runs? 

watt the fuck: how did the cryptid crew not know this? i thought u guys were in sync

watt the fuck: telepathically linked or smth 

Body Horror McGee: Does no one else do this with Todoroki?

invisibait: I mean one time he helped me

invisibait: actually I shouldn't finish that sentence, but we hang out 

90s fashion: I rly want you to finish that sentence

tailman: Every once and a while we get together to spar. I think he has been working with Midoriya on something too

airbud: @minimight Why didn't you tell me this?

minimight is offline

watt the fuck: okay so what happened?

Body Horror McGee: It was raining so we took off our masks.

Body Horror McGee: Look, if you want to ask him you can. There’s a 50% chance he’ll answer.

thot lips: u gotta @ him tho

thot lips: hes a real cryptid who needs to be summoned with a blood sacrifice

watt the fuck: @cotton eye joe

90s fashion: @cotton eye joe

rufftuffboi: @cotton eye joe

tape asmr: @cotton eye joe

invisibait: if it requires a virgin we can always use kaminari

BASS BOOST: lol 

im not emo: I like her. We should invite her to our chat

watt the fuck: okay hagakure im gonna ignore that in favor of the cryptid crew mystery chat

rufftuffboi: whats it called?

thot lips: three tall boys (and two short ones)

thot lips: which reminds me, whats the deal with ur chat name

90s fashion: lmao u never heard of no nut november?

thot lips: I have. im a cultured swine, thank u very much

Dwayne the rock Johnson: lol

thot lips: I was just wondering y u chose koujis quirk

watt the fuck: oh shit u right

im not emo: Huh. For some reason I don't like this conversation

tailman: You and me both

chemicals in the water: I would join you in anthropomorphic solidarity but my timeline is on fire rn.

tailman: Please stop trying to make that a thing. It’s not a thing

watt the fuck: wait does this mean

watt the fuck: that kouda is the king of no nut november? 

Dwayne the rock Johnson: no 

airbud: Please don't destroy my entire life guys

im not emo: This is worse than anything the dark shade lurking in my heart could imagine

rufftuffboi: Kaminari, 

90s fashion: damn I dunno what to ask, you guys just seem so 

90s fashion: cryptid-like?

BASS BOOST: distant compared to the rest of us meme loving fucks

im not emo: God I wish

thot lips: lmao am I cool now?

Dwayne the rock Johnson: rikidou once got into a fistfight with someone over a yugioh match

90s fashion: WHAT

thot lips: betrayed

airbud: that's the most ive ever heard kouda speak

invisibait: I don't know, that sounds pretty cool to me

cotton eye joe: well you once got arrested so I don't think your judgment should be trusted

90s fashion: WHAT???

watt the fuck: holy shit

tape asmr: rly??

rufftuffboi: wait is this real

chemicals in the water: Screenshotted.

BASS BOOST: fucking exposed holy shit

thot lips: my man todobro out here breaking ankles

invisibait: I wasn't arrested, it was just questioning

invisibait: also you said you wouldn’t mention that again

cotton eye joe: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

90s fashion: wait aren’t u gonna drag him back??

invisibait: im above that

cotton eye joe: she doesn't have any blackmail on me

invisibait: yes I do you fucker

invisibait: todoroki has a box of American erotica under his bed

inivisibait: but the vanilla kind, not normal porn like the rest of us

cotton eye joe: where else would I put it?

Body Horror McGee: Did anyone not know that?

thot lips: yeah todobro reads porn in class

tape asmr: did u never know that? Midnight-sensei complimented him

watt the fuck: he doesn't even hide it? where have u been??

90s fashion: its prob bc hes in the back of the room

thot lips: im actually shocked u wld insult a mans taste in porn like that

invisibait: at least I didn't get into a fight over yugioh

thot lips: the fucker tried to activate his trap card the same turn he set it then had the AUDACITY to argue abt it

watt the fuck: things r getting heated in the yugioh fandom

tape asmr: @Dwayne the rock Johnson do u have video??

Dwayne the Rock Johnson: no ಥ_ಥ

tape asmr: aw

airbud: I just saw aizawa-sensei through the window

rufftuffboi: time to pack it up fellas

thot lips: its been an honor

90s fashion: this isn’t over!!

im not emo: Yes it is. Farewell and hopefully we will never do this again

watt the fuck: we r gonna continue this convo i

watt the fuck: o shit aizawa saw me

BASS BOOST: rip lmao

tape asmr: press f to pay respects

 

-

 

Shinsou is eating in a corner of the lunchroom with his head bent over his meal when a tray slams down across from him. He jumps, chopsticks flicking a stand of udon out of his bowl, and looks up with a flash of irritation.

 

He pauses when he sees who is there. Or rather, who isn’t.

 

A rumpled uniform missing its jacket greets him. The skirt has been obviously rolled up so it barely passes upper thigh and the tie has been loosened for the top two buttons of the person’s shirt to be opened. Shinsou blinks slowly before he realizes that this is the girl from 1A. Hoshikage? Hagakage? He forgets.

 

“Hey fuckface,” Haga-something say jovially, “we are having a get together thing this weekend. You know Todoroki, yeah? He wanted me to invite you.”

 

“Um-” Shinsou starts but is interrupted.

 

“See me,” the girl states as she sits with a thump against the vinyl booth. “I got no fucking clue why he wants to hang out with you. No problem for me, you’re pretty hot despite the whole ‘I’ll destroy everything you love if you try to talk to me’ vibe. 

 

She jabs a spoon through the cover of her yogurt cup with a loud pop. Shinsou twitches again then watches with strange fascination as the tinfoil seems to unpeel itself.

 

“Thanks?” He tries. It sounds more like a question then a reply.

 

“But it’s still strange. I would assume Todoroki is doing this out of misplaced guilt or something, but I know him better.” She pauses for a second, mutters,” I think so at least,” then shrugs emphatically with her uniformed shoulders. “He’s probably doing it because he thinks you’re useful.”

 

“Useful?” Shinsou repeats. The spoon Haga-something is holding is partially invisible where it’s surrounded by her fist, but the yogurt cup she shifts across her tray never disappears with her touch.

 

“Yeah,” she scoops some yogurt up and into her mouth. It vanishes. “He’s smart. Like disgustingly smart, on some genius level shit. He definitely thinks you’re gonna transfer up next year and is looking to make connections or whatever.”

 

Shinsou’s face must show what he thinks about that, because Haga-something gestures violently with her spoon. “In a polite way, obviously. It’s scheming, but it’s the nice kind? The not malevolent kind. Like he wants to be friends because you’re cool but he’s really shit at it. He’s so emotionally constipated.”

 

A drop of pink yogurt lands on the udon noodle that recently vacated Shinsou’s bowl. He grimaces slightly. “Is that why you’re here? Or is he too busy to come talk to me himself?”

 

Shinsou’s not still bitter about the sports festival, he promises himself. This isn’t him being salty. Of course not. He’s more mature than that. It’s just a normal reaction to the fact that the Todoroki Shouto is interested in him but is too preoccupied to come talk to Shinsou himself.

 

He’s not bitter, just reasonably defensive. Shinsou still remembers the sharp pain of his arm folded against his back, a cold hand on his wrist, his spine arching back involuntarily to try to twist out of the hold. Todoroki had callouses, rough hands and fingers like iron bands keeping him down. Shinsou remembers sweat dripping into his eyes and hitting the hot concrete, remembers scornful words caught in his throat and the eyes of hundreds of people staring down at him.

 

He was full of rage back then, pissed off at being so easily countered and even angrier when the flames died, when Todoroki faced him without his quirk like Shinsou wasn’t worth it. And Todoroki took him out like it was nothing.

 

Shinsou remembers losing, but he also remembers Todoroki’s words, cold fingers releasing his wrist and something like a consolation in his ear. “You would have won if I wasn’t tipped off. Don’t put yourself down too much.”

 

Yielding, that was horrible. Shinsou would have preferred to have been knocked out than to actually give up. But what came after, a soft voice and a calloused palm reaching down to him, helping him up, it didn’t fit the personality Shinsou had built for the other boy.

 

In his head, Shinsou had seen Todoroki as someone too privileged to have actually worked for anything. It didn’t make sense then; of course he would work, everyone has to no matter where they came from. However, Shinsou’s image of Todoroki was born skilled already, came out of the womb with Endeavor’s power and complete confidence in his Quirk. Every time the Number Two hero sneered at the T.V., every time a kid who could crush rocks or breathe paralytics ignored Shinsou, every single robot that Shinsou could not take down in the entrance exam, that was all incorporated into the Todoroki that Shinsou created in his head to hate.

 

Todoroki was the epitome of everything Shinsou despised. But those words, the hand that helped him up, they shattered the image Shinsou had so carefully cultivated.

 

Since then, Shinsou has had no idea how to proceed. Does he forget that moment and just train harder? Does he talk with his now somewhat-friendly class and pretend the past few months never happened? Does he seek out Todoroki to talk to him more? Does he apologize for what he screamed across the cement field?

 

Haga-something finishes her yogurt and licks the inside of the cup. “To be honest, yeah. He’s busy all the time, but recently it’s amped up. I haven’t even seen him read his gross, super vanilla porn in a while. Can you believe that? Reading porn? I used go to his dorm to talk about important shit and he always pulled out one of those self-published novels written by horny moms in America. You know, with the cliché plots and muscly dudes?”

 

Shinsou fights a blush and tries not to think too much about Todoroki reading porn. He ignores the wave of heat down his neck as Haga-something’s voice climbs higher in indignation about sex scenes that are obnoxiously sweet and not even close to anatomically possible. Shinsou can feel the people from the table behind him staring.

 

“Fine, I’ll come to your thing. Just please, please stop talking.” He finally interrupts her.

 

“Great!” Haga-something’s sleeves move toward him and an invisible hand slaps against the plastic table. “Give me your phone.”

 

“What?”

 

“To put in my number, dumbass. I’m not taking your lunch money, I promise.”

 

He passes his phone over and watches as it appears to float by itself. There’s the sound of fingernails tapping on the glass screen and the shutter click of the camera. Haga-something passes the phone back over to him and stretches before standing up.

 

Shinsou looks at his phone. “Hagakure Tooru ;)” Her birthday is listed along with her number and a selfie showing just her uniformed shoulders is the contact picture.

 

He looks up to ask her what time and where the get together is, but Hagakure has already vanished into the lunchroom crowd. The bell rings and Shinsou sighs as he sees Hagakure left her tray for him to clean up.

 

He throws both his and her trash away and heads to class.

 

-

 

“Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty” @Tsukuyomi • Oct 27

Even the strongest of men are fated to join the ever-wandering souls of the forgotten, long deceased but still perishing

 

“Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty” @Tsukuyomi • Oct 30

I swear to God if Satou tweets about me one more time I will not be responsible for my actions

 

“Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty” @Tsukuyomi • Nov 14

This is what I’m talking about

            sugar daddy @SatouRikidou

            @Tsukuyomi ur literally the reincarnation of that fucko bird edgar allen poe talked to

 

“Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty” @Tsukuyomi • Nov 20

No

            Alien Queen is a perfectly good name @OfficialMina

            @Tsukuyomi pls come on my youtube channel I promise it will be super cool

            <3 <3 <3

 

“Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty” Retweeted

gf stands for good frog @Froppy • Nov 22

Here’s a video of a baby toad I found in my back yard.

bb_toad.mov

 

“Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty” @Tsukuyomi • Nov 26

What the absolute fuck

 

“Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty” @Tsukuyomi • Nov 26

I am so pissed off. I’m fucking furious

 

“Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty” @Tsukuyomi • Nov 26

Hey, any of my followers know what is the closest thing to launching someone into the fucking

sun that you can do without getting kicked out of U.A.?

 

“Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty” @Tsukuyomi • Nov 26

What do Endeavor and a flaming trash can have in common? Everything

 

“Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty” Retweeted

discount jaws @sharkfuckah • Nov 19

wish I was brave enough to glue my pubes on my face like @Endeavor

 

“Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty” Retweeted

Don't be gross @MountLadyFC • Nov 21

Sometimes I forget that Endeavor exists. He’s like a wasp you trapped under a Tupperware

that you really don’t want to deal with but you know isn’t going away.

 

“Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty” Retweeted

Big Money @ESalvia • Nov 15

Reminder that all people deserve happiness. Please be kind and respectful to everyone

           

Except to @Endeavor fuck u dude lol

 

“Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty” Retweeted

Honcho @irunacult • Nov 23

Not gonna lie, endeavor constantly looks like he’s watching a dog take a shit in his shoes

 

“Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty” @Tsukuyomi • Nov 26

The phrase Hell on Earth was coined when someone looked at Endeavor’s prematurely aged,

“nonstop anger is a great look for a hero”, arrogant, disgusting face.

 

“Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty” Retweeted

King of the Abyss @shihaikuroiro • Nov 26

@Tsukuyomi Endeavor probably spends 30 a gram on mid and listens to russ

 

“Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty” @Tsukuyomi • Nov 27

I will exorcize someone’s soul from their body, leaving them a lifeless husk, for my friends

 

“Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty” Retweeted

Eternal Darkness for Life! @TsukuyomiStan4Ever • Nov 27

@Tsukuyomi I don’t know what this is about king, but I’m here for it

 

“Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty” @Tsukuyomi • Dec 4

Thank you

            gf stands for good frog @Froppy • Dec 4

            Good job at our first Sports Festival everyone! Congratulations Todokori on your win.

            Shout outs to Bakugou on his second place medal, @Tsukuyomi and @Uravity on

            their third place tie, and all the other students who competed.

 

-

 

“A DNA analysis for the Noumu?” Toshinori asks.

 

Tsukauchi sits across from him, cup of tea steaming in his hands. He looks tired.

 

“I’m not asking for your help in the investigation, nor am I asking you to tell the public which student killed him.” Tsukauchi holds up a hand when Toshinori tries to protest. “We know it was Todoroki, but for both of our sakes we cannot let that get out.”

 

Toshinori buries his fingers in his shaggy hair. Blonde stands fall in front of his eyes and he sighs. “If we need to release more information, just say I did it.”

 

“He died from having his head frozen off and the stump burned. If this investigation is leaked, everyone will know who did it.”

 

“Please, Naomasa. It was my fault, I should not have used my hours up and-”

 

“Toshinori,” Tsukauchi interrupts. “You cannot blame yourself for that. You had no idea-”

 

“But I should have-”

 

“You cannot save everyone. You know this.” Tsukauchi puts his cup down and looks Toshinori in the eyes. “I do need the school to deal Todoroki. He has to understand that what he did was beyond illegal. Even if he was worried about you, that is no excuse for him to murder a villain without a hero license.”

 

Toshinori nods. “I have no idea why he decided to do that. I thought it was the shock, but-”

 

“But we both read the report he gave the officers. No anxiety or agitation. Every sentence short and to the point, like this was routine.”

 

“And the paramedics tests,” Toshinori continues. “Nothing outside of normal.”

 

He drops his hands into his lap and tilts his head back. Could it have been Endeavor’s training? Toshinori knows that neither he nor any of the other teachers have noticed any changes in behavior. After he as All Might accidently killed a villain for the first time, he was wracked with guilt for months. Todoroki displays none of this.

 

“Just make sure he understands,” Tsukauchi says. “And these DNA results are technically leaking information, but I figured you needed to know.”

 

Toshinori looks up at his friend. “We are on the ringleader’s trail,” Tsukauchi tells him. “The autopsy was strange, but nothing you would not expect from a mutant type quirk. Some points stood out, enlarged kidneys and a couple cancerous growths around the liver, but not anything else.

 

“We ran a DNA test to try to find his origins, and it turns out he was just some petty criminal. But we also learned he had the DNA of at least four completely different people in him.”

 

Toshinori pauses. He had been reaching for his tea (plain, no milk or sugar) and his hand hovers over the cup. “Was he even human?” He asks.

 

“It seemed his whole body was altered by drugs and chemicals. Put simply, he was bioengineered to tolerate multiple quirks. We have a lot of missing information as his body lacks a head, but from the accounts of your students, he appeared to only follow orders. That possible indication of lowered intelligence might reveal a fault in his creation.”

 

Tsukauchi scratches the back of his neck. Toshinori wraps his spidery hands around his cup and listens with rapidly mounting horror.

 

“Well,” Tsukauchi continues, “the real issue is that the different DNA somehow lead to multiple quirks. Taking in additional DNA alone would not result in multiple quirks, unless there were some other transference factor at play.

 

“And that could be, a quirk that bestows quirks.”

 

-

 

[Thumbnail: Three teenagers sit facing the camera. The walls around them are painted purple and are covered with posters of heroes and fanart. Most of the fanart depicts Mina, the teenager in the middle, in different styles with varying artistic ability. Visible between the three’s shoulders, a teenager with red hair is lying on the ground with a pen in his hand. Bright yellow text stating ‘Q&A’ is overlaid on the thumbnail, accompanied with the ‘triumph’ and ‘ok hand’ emoji.]

 

Q&A ABOUT GOING TO U.A. – THREE OTHER STUDENTS AND I TALK ABOUT ALL MIGHT AND BECOMING HEROES

153,849 views

 

OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT

[…]

MINA: Hey, what’s up guys! It’s ya girl, the best alien queen on this side of the universe.

[SERO laughs]

KAMINARI: Wow, that sounds even worse in person.

[MINA sticks her tongue out at KAMINARI]

MINA: Anyway, I just wanted to introduce some friends who will be helping me with this Q&A.

KIRISHIMA [in the distance]: You’re one of my bros Mina, but I gotta finish this essay.

KAMINARI: Oh shit, what essay?

SERO: The one for All Might’s class, about the-

MINA [pointing at SERO]: This is Sero! Say hi.

SERO: Oh, hi?

MINA [pointing at KAMINARI and then KIRISHIMA]: This loser is Kaminari, and Kirishima is the one on the ground who looks like a nerd.

KAMINARI: And the one who sounds like my mom.

[All four laugh]

MINA: Okay, we have a lot of questions.

SERO: Having All Might as a teacher is really cool and I feel like I’m learning a lot.

KAMINARI: …And that answers about a third of them.

[KAMINARI, SERO, and MINA laugh. KIRISHIMA keeps working on his essay.]

MINA: Alright, first question guys. Is Midnight hot?

SERO: Yes.

KAMINARI: Can we talk about our teachers like that?

KIRISHIMA [in the distance]: Gross.

MINA: Yeah, she’s attractive, but that’s her brand. She’s just our teacher in school. Also, I know she owns it, but her hero costume is so sheer because of her quirk. You know, the thing she uses to save people?

SERO: Still hot.

[MINA smacks his arm]

SERO: I mean, I admire Midnight-sensei as a teacher and as a hero.

[KAMINARI laughs]

MINA: Question two, what is your schedule like?

KAMINARI: It’s so hard. It’s just like regular high school but we also have to work out all the time.

SERO: We have the core classes everyone else has, but then we get classes like Modern Hero Art History, which is about creating a public image, and Foundational Hero Studies, which is all about strategy.

MINA: We joke all the time about Kaminari being dumb, but most of the lessons are harder than what’s taught in regular high school. The written entrance exam is super hard. That’s why people with strong quirks sometimes don’t even get into general studies.

KIRISHIMA [in the distance]: Maybe if you guys started your essays on the day they were assigned-

MINA: Question, um, some number.

[KAMINARI, SERO, and MINA laugh]

MINA: What is Todoroki like?

SERO: Oh, good one.

MINA: I had to smoosh all of Todoroki questions into one. We got a lot of ‘What does his face look like?’ and ‘Is he hot?’ and ‘Does he talk about his dad?’ And I don’t really know for most of them. I tried texting him-

[MINA stands up from the bench she, KAMINARI, and SERO are sitting on. She jumps over KIRISHIMA and digs through her bag. MINA returns with her phone and shows it to the camera. The only thing that can be seen under the glare is the word ‘Yo’ in reply to a message from MINA.]

MINA: I texted him two months ago asking him if he wanted to hang out and he just replied.

[KAMINARI looks at her phone and starts laughing. SERO has to clap KAMINARI on the back when he starts choking on his spit.]

MINA: I asked him what took so long and he said that he was in the shower.

[KIRISHIMA laughs]

SERO: Todoroki’s a weird dude. He’s really funny, though. One time Bakugou tried to tell him something and he just ignored him. It was hilarious, Bakugou was yelling and Todoroki just said-

[SERO mimics a serious expression and makes his voice deeper.]

SERO: “I’m sorry, did you say something?”

[All four laugh]

KAMINARI: I thought Bakugou was going to have a heart attack.

MINA: Todoroki’s really smart. I think he’s in the top three of our class. In English he doesn’t even have an accent.

KAMINARI: He destroys everyone else in Hero Studies. I hope I get paired up with him next time; I need to get a good grade in that class.

SERO: We don’t know what his face looks like.

KIRISHIMA [in the distance]: He is super yoked, though.

[KAMINARI, SERO, and MINA laugh]

KAMINARI: Yeah, like he, Midoriya, and Shouji could probably bench press me.

MINA: Everyone could bench press you, Kaminari. You’re like a twig.

KAMINARI: Hey-

SERO: Todoroki doesn’t talk about his dad. He probably does with his friends, but we don’t know.

MINA: Tokoyami, if you’re listening, please come on my channel. It will be fun, I promise.

SERO: He’s not listening.

MINA: I can hope!

KAMINARI: Wait, isn’t he twitter-famous?

MINA: Yeah! He has almost three hundred thousand followers.

SERO: Damn.

KAMINARI: Wow.

KIRISHIMA [in the distance]: That’s so cool!

MINA: Sorry, we went off on a tangent. That’s pretty much all we know about Todoroki. Next question!

SERO: Wait, how did you get his number?

MINA: Hagakure.

KAMINARI: When in doubt, Hagakure.

MINA: Did you see her phone case, by the way? It was so cute.

[…]