The Class 1-A dorm has a small gym beneath the common room. Tucked behind a laundry room and a closet full of cleaning supplies and extra towels, it looks like a gym that might belong to a regular apartment complex, not to an elite hero school.
Todoroki doesn’t visit often. It’s usually too crowded when he tries, and the noise and sweat-stink is nauseating.
When he heads into the basement level of the dorms, it’s past midnight. At this time, most of his classmates are asleep, but he couldn’t bear to stay in his room any longer, so he gathered up a basket of laundry and made his way down here. Before he can head into the laundry room, he pauses. Someone is panting heavily in the gym. The laboured breathing sounds pained, pushed and pulled through struggling lungs.
He peeks in, and sees Midoriya slumped against the right wall, head tipped back. His chest rises and falls, heaving, tracksuit soaked in sweat, fringe slicked back.
Todoroki abandons his laundry, and joins Midoriya on the floor.
Todoroki isn’t sure Midoriya knows he’s not alone, if he even realises other people exist outside this bubble of space in this moment, but when Todoroki sits down beside him, their shoulders grazing, Midoriya doesn’t startle. He doesn’t even look up.
Todoroki looks out at the row of treadmills. There’s no one on them tonight. Usually, when he comes here before dinner, it’s full, and there’s a queue of people waiting their turn. It feels strange to see it empty. Like they’ve accidentally entered another place, another time.
When Midoriya finally speaks, he sounds hollow. “I’m not finished.”
Todoroki cocks one head to the side. “I think you are.”
“I have more reps to do.”
“If Aizawa caught you down here, he’d suspend you from physical training. We have a rescue exercise coming on Wednesday, and you’re supposed to be in my group. We’re counting on you. Don’t let us down.”
Midoriya’s hands tighten around his calves. There’s a tension about him that can’t be released through exercise, the kind of pressure that won’t go away no matter how beaten your body becomes. This, Todoroki knows.
“I’m sorry,” Todoroki says. “That came out wrong. You’re not letting us down. You won’t. You never have.”
Midoriya squints out at the treadmills. Todoroki wonders if he finds the ghostly emptiness strange, too. Probably not. He doubts this is the first time Midoriya has snuck down here to work out, or even the second, or the third.
“I need to be stronger,” Midoriya says.
“It’s late.” Todoroki peeks at him. Sweat trickles down his strong arms. His eyes are rimmed with dark shadows. “Don’t you want to go to bed?”
“You go to bed, Todoroki. You don’t have to babysit me.”
“I can’t sleep. That’s why I came down here. My room…” Todoroki exhales, the sound barely audible even in the near-silence of the gym. Midoriya has a way of stripping him down to his most honest and vulnerable parts. Todoroki has always admired his earnestness, and the earnestness he inspires in others. He shouldn’t flinch away from it, especially now. “It reminds me of my room back at my house.”
Now, Midoriya looks at him. “I’m sorry.”
“If I asked you to go to sleep, would you?”
Midoriya shrugs. “Probably not.”
At least he’s not putting up a front, Todoroki thinks.
He can’t go back to bed and leave Midoriya like this, sweat-soaked and shaking with overexertion. He isn’t going to last if he keeps this up. He’s a candle burning at both ends.
He won’t accept Todoroki’s help, though. Not directly.
Todoroki wets his lips. “Would you go to bed with me?”
Midoriya drops his towel. His face is blotchy pink, his hands a bloodless white, circulation in disarray after hours of nonstop exercise. He’s too ruined to even blush, but his eyes bulge, and he trips over his tongue, like it’s forgotten how to form syllables, and Todoroki thinks, wryly, I should have phrased that better.
“Go to bed? With—with—with you?”
“I don’t want to be in my room tonight,” Todoroki says, “but yours looks different from mine. Maybe if I were there, somewhere mostly unfamiliar, or at least disconnected from my house, with another person, then … ” Midoriya looks like his brain is shutting down. “Ah. Perhaps that was too presumptuous. Nevermind, then.”
Todoroki looks back out at the treadmills. Maybe he could collect extra bedding from the supply closet and sleep here, on the plastic tread, a sheet pulled over his head to protect his eyes from the glaring lights overhead. He could keep an eye on Midoriya. Even if he couldn’t stop him from blowing out his arms, he could make sure he was drinking water, and taking breaks, and call for Recovery Girl or a teacher if it looked like Midoriya was going too far.
A clammy hand wraps around his forearm. “No,” Midoriya says. The gleam in his eyes has returned, changed, now focused on Todoroki rather than his overwhelming future goals. “You can come. You should. I don’t have a spare futon, though.”
“That’s alright,” Todoroki says. “I can take the floor.”
Midoriya shakes his head, his sweaty curls bouncing around his face. “No, you take the bed! I’ll sleep on the floor.”
“I’m not about to kick you out of your own bed.” Midoriya opens his mouth to protest, so Todoroki cuts him off, “We can share.”
Midoriya’s mouth closes with a click of teeth. He swallows. “Together?”
“If you’re uncomfortable, then don’t worry about it,” Todoroki says, considering the line of treadmills again.
Midoriya grabs his arm again. He must understand the way Todoroki is eyeing the treadmills, because he stands up, bones creaking and clicking, wincing at the pull in his muscles, and gestures for Todoroki to stand, too.
“As long as you’re okay with it, then I’m okay with it,” he says. “We’ll share a bed. Together. Yeah. You and me. Yes.”
“Are you okay?”
Midoriya laughs nervously. “Yes, it’s just… the last time I shared a bed I was a little kid. I haven’t had a sleepover since I was … five?”
“I’ve never had one.”
Midoriya looks at him again, that same light in his eyes. Todoroki doesn’t know how that much determination can live inside of one high school boy. “Let’s go, then.”
“You need to do cool down stretches, and you should probably shower. Have you eaten?”
Midoriya winces. “I ate at dinner?”
“That was hours ago.” Todoroki fetches his laundry. “You finish up and go shower, and I’ll fetch us something to eat so we can meet on the way up.”
Todoroki has been in Midoriya’s room before. He’s studied here with Iida and Uraraka, Midoriya’s hero analysis notes spilled across the floor, marvelling at Midoriya’s dedication and thoroughness. He knows it looks more like an All Might shrine than a dorm room.
Midoriya still fidgets, though, glancing from Todoroki to his posters, until Todoroki simply tells him, “It’s fine.”
He climbs into bed first, shuffling to the far side. Midoriya gets in after him. It’s a double-single, big enough for them both, but they’re still pressed up close. He can feel the warmth of another body, the scratchy sheets and the thick duvet. There’s only one pillow, and they share it, staring at each other, inches apart.
“This is … ” Todoroki tries.
Midoriya rolls onto his stomach, hiding his face against the mattress. “It’s awkward! I’m sorry, Todoroki. I should sleep on the floor.”
“I was going to say it’s a tight fit,” Todoroki amends. “Come closer. You’re barely hanging off the pillow. And you’re too stiff—you’ll never fall asleep like that.”
Midoriya peeks up at him, and swallows audibly. Is he afraid? Why?
Ah. Todoroki is probably making him uncomfortable.
But before he can offer to sleep on the floor again and spark another argument, Midoriya shuffles closer until his head is braced on the pillow. Todoroki hooks his hand under Midoriya’s elbow, and drags him closer still. Midoriya squeaks like a caught bird.
His curls brush against Todoroki’s temples, though their bodies aren’t touching. Their faces are so close. Midoriya’s eyes are big, and green, and awed.
The AC hums through the room. Everyone else is asleep, or at least silent, and it makes Todoroki want to hold his breath and maintain this silence. The pillow smells like shampoo. Midoriya’s shampoo. Todoroki pushes his nose into the pillow, and closes his eyes, and inhales, all the energy suddenly leeched from his body.
“Hm?” He asks without opening his eyes.
Todoroki is asleep before he can ask what Midoriya had meant to say. If he hadn’t fallen asleep so quickly, if he had taken a moment to look at him, he would have seen Midoriya holding perfectly still on the other side of the pillow, eyes open, studying the fall of bright hair over pale skin and the peaceful contours of Todoroki’s face, as though this were the first time he had ever seen him.
Todoroki wakes up first. It takes him a moment to remember where he is, but then he looks to his right and sees Midoriya drooling into the pillow, and remembers.
Midoriya’s eyes crack open, as though he’d sensed that Todoroki was awake. Midoriya blinks at him, and Todoroki waits for him to accuse him of staring, but instead, Midoriya scrunches up his face and says, “You tricked me.”
“Last night, when you were trying to get me to stop exercising. You drew attention to yourself so that I’d leave the gym.”
“I won’t apologise for that. It worked, after all.”
“You really were struggling though, weren’t you?”
Midoriya doesn’t sound like he’s doubting him, but rather like he’s just confirming his own suspicions. “I was,” Todoroki admits, “but I probably would have gone and slept on the couch. I only told you because I was worried about you, and wanted to help.”
“Worried,” Midoriya echoes
“Yes. I don’t like seeing you hurt. And I especially don’t like seeing you hurt yourself. You should go to someone if that happens.”
“I’m used to dealing with things on my own,” Midoriya says, curling further into his sheets. “I should be strong enough to handle it at this point. If I can’t manage now, then what about in a year? In two years? In ten? When our schoolwork picks up, and then, when we become pros and start making our way out in the real world with people relying on us? I can’t falter.”
“You’re human,” Todoroki says. “Holding yourself to inhuman standards will lead you nowhere. Or at least nowhere good.”
Todoroki knows this intimately. He grew up beneath Endeavour’s thumb, witness to the obsession rotting him from the inside out. And now he has All Might—in his blood splattered, powerless form—as his teacher.
Midoriya closes his eyes. Todoroki thinks he might have fallen asleep again, but then he curls his hand in a fistful of sheets, and takes a shuddering breath. “I don’t want to hurt anyone. Or worry them. Everyone’s worried enough, aren't they?”
“Would you come to me, then?”
Midoriya’s eyes snap open. “I’m sorry?”
“I already know that you’re struggling. Let me help.”
He’s not the best person for these kinds of things, but if Midoriya trusts him, then he’ll be there for his friend, in whatever way he can.
You saved me once. So please.
“Only if you come to me, as well,” Midoriya says firmly, because of course. But it’s alright—more than alright, even—because Todoroki knows he’s won. Midoriya will never shy away from something if it means helping someone else. “When you’re struggling, when you hate the way your room looks, you can come to mine. My door is always open for you.”
Todoroki looks him over. His curls spring up at gravity-defying angles, and he’s wearing a ratty t-shirt displaying the name of a hero Todoroki doesn’t recognise. His lips are wet, open a hair’s width apart. His eyes are like sea glass, lit by the thin vein of sunlight coming in through the window.
The room behind them is covered in All Might posters and figurines. Todoroki never had anything like this as a child, even though he remembers begging his mum for an All Might action figure for Christmas when he was too young to know better. He wonders if he would have collected his own merchandise, had he been someone else’s son.
Probably not. He can’t imagine this predilection suiting anyone but Midoriya, even though there are thousands of like-minded hero fans in Japan.
“Always open,” Todoroki murmurs to himself.
Midoriya blinks, and seems to realise the situation that they’re in. He lets out a squeak, and flinches backward and off the bed. He lands with a thump.
Todoroki scrambles after him, peeking over the edge of the bed. Midoriya is upside down; his feet are tangled in the sheets beside Todoroki; his head is against the legs of his desk chair.
“Are you okay?”
“So—sorry.” Midoriya flails and tries to pull himself up, but he only manages to further entangle himself. He kicks Todoroki in the shin. “Sorry!”
With Todoroki’s help, Midoriya rights himself. He won’t meet Todoroki’s eyes.
“Thank you for last night,” Midoriya finally says, standing awkwardly in the middle of the room. “For taking care of me.”
They’ll have to get ready for class soon. Todoroki will have to make his way back to his own room, and hope no one sees him and teases him mercilessly on the way.
Even if they did, Todoroki doesn’t think he would care.
“Anytime,” Todoroki says.
Four days later, Todoroki wakes up shivering and covered in sweat. His floor is a mirror of ice.
He picks himself away from his frost-coated blanket, dragging lumps of ice off his pillow, and pushes his damp hair out of his face. He doesn’t pause to get his breathing under control before he gets to work melting the ice spidering across his floor. It’s thickest around the top of his mat, crystalline chunks with jagged edges zigzagging in a semi-circle around where his head had lain. It looks violent, like a deliberate assault against an invisible foe.
Or a desperate defence.
Steam swells in his cramped dorm room, and he uses a towel to mop up the excess water. His temperature rights itself without any conscious effort on his part, though Todoroki almost wishes it wouldn’t. He doesn’t mind being cold, sometimes. It grounds him.
In the dark, his room is formless and unidentifiable. Todoroki climbs to his feet, and, almost without thinking, manages the short walk to Midoriya’s.
He has to set an example, he tells himself. That’s why he’s doing this. If Midoriya doesn’t think Todoroki needs him, if he thinks the deal isn’t helping Todoroki, then he won’t reciprocate when he’s in a bad place.
Midoriya opens the door at his knock. His hair is even messier then it was that quiet, sunlit morning a few days ago, adding an additional inch or two to his height.
Midoriya squints at him. “Todoroki? It’s 1am … ”
“Yes,” Todoroki says. “Have you changed your mind?”
“Changed my—” Midoriya comes to life, then. He rubs grit out of his eyes, and stands a bit taller. “No, no. Come in.”
Todoroki follows Midoriya back into his room, shutting the door and standing awkwardly in front of it. He still doesn’t feel right in his own skin. Maybe he’s still half-asleep. Maybe he’s still there, in his dream, in that room, bent over his knees and clinging to his consciousness, trying to right his swimming vision, rather than here, with Midoriya standing a mere meter away.
“You’re shaking,” Midoriya says. He gets back into bed, pushing up against the wall, and lifts the blanket. “Come on. You need to warm up.”
Todoroki climbs into bed without arguing. Only after he’s under the duvet, sheets clinging to his clammy skin, does he remind him, “I have a temperature-regulating quirk.”
“Oh. Right.” There’s a moment of fragile quiet, before Midoriya clears his throat. “Do you want to talk about it?”
Todoroki expects Midoriya to push, but he doesn’t. They lie together, not quite touching but close enough to sense each other’s presence, until they fall asleep.
His pillow is crusted with a thin layer of frost. Todoroki shifts experimentally, and ice crunches under his legs. The blankets and mattress are frosted over, too. It’s not uncommon for him to wake up like this, especially after a nightmare, so he doesn’t panic.
He’s not used to this happening around other people, however.
Midoriya looks like a winter sprite. His dark hair is near-white with powdery ice. It clings to his eyelashes and his freckles. Like this, he looks ethereal, almost delicate.
Thankfully, his lips aren’t blue. Todoroki curses himself. It’s only the second time they’ve shared a bed, and he just had to do this to Midoriya.
He prods Midoriya until he wakes up. He blinks, sleep dazed, and then seems to realise who is in his bed, and what they’re covered in.
“Todoroki?” Midoriya sits up. Fractured ice showers his lap. “What happened?”
“I accidentally frosted over your bed.”
Midoriya brings a hand up to his hair, feeling the hardened curls, and Todoroki bites back a smile. His bed-head has been preserved in ice, frozen in its wild state. It will be even harder to run a comb through it now.
“I can unfreeze everything,” Todoroki adds. “I’m sorry. I know this must be uncomfortable.”
But Midoriya isn’t pulling himself out of bed and demanding that Todoroki get rid of the ice. He’s staring at Todoroki like he’s never seen him before, something disturbingly like awe in his eyes.
“You did this? In your sleep?” Todoroki nods. Midoriya flails a hand over his bedside table until he finds a notebook and pen. He flips it open, turning back to Todoroki. “Your quirk can activate while you’re unconscious? That’s fascinating. Can I assume it only works enough to be an inconvenience, not to actually hurt you? Have you ever used your fire side accidentally while you’re asleep?
Todoroki blinks at him. “You’re not mad?”
“Mad? Why would I be mad?”
Todoroki gestures at the two of them, at their pillow and blanket, frosted over with ice. It would look like it had snowed inside Midoriya’s room, except the rest of it is untouched, save for the bed. “I froze your bed. With you in it.”
Midoriya waves a hand in the air. “It’s fine. You can unfreeze it, right? And besides, this is amazing! I assume it’s triggered by your nightmares? Do you think your quirk is acting as some kind of defence mechanism, trying to protect you from a perceived threat, even if you’re unconscious and the threat itself doesn’t exist?”
Midoriya never fails to baffle him. Anyone else would be shouting and running for a hot shower after waking up in their own dorm room coated in ice, but Midoriya is taking notes.
“I woke up to some of my ice earlier, but after I came here, I didn’t have any more nightmares. It’s almost like you chased them away.”
Midoriya’s pen lowers. He stares at Todoroki over his notebook. “Oh.”
Todoroki climbs over Midoriya to get out of bed, and starts evaporating the ice. He works slowly, making sure most of the ice fizzes out into steam, rather than melting and soaking Midoriya’s bed.
Midoriya sits on the desk chair, watching Todoroki work, squirming. He reminds Todoroki of a kid trying his best to be patient. He must be bursting with questions about Todoroki’s quirk.
Once the bed is dry, Todoroki sits on the edge of it, facing Midoriya, whose hair is still ice-kissed.
He doesn’t look bothered by it.
He looks otherworldly.
“Okay,” Todoroki says, getting comfortable in the bed once more. “Ask away.”
Over two weeks pass.
Todoroki keeps an eye on Midoriya to see if he goes to the gym to overexert himself, but he doesn’t. He doesn’t think Midoriya is avoiding him—they have lunch together, and they study together, and sometimes, they’ll catch each other’s eye across the classroom or the common area, and they’ll smile, a moment of acknowledgement passing between them—but they haven’t been near each other’s room since they woke up tangled together and covered in frost.
When a knock comes not long after dinner, Todoroki is expecting Iida or Yaoyorozu, inviting him to study for Friday’s test. He doesn’t find studying in groups too helpful, but he never turns their invitations down.
It’s not either of them. Todoroki opens the door and finds Midoriya, standing stiffly, shaking hands balled into tight fists. His eyes are incredibly focused, the way they get during training exercises, when all thought is leeched from his mind, all the room taken up by battle analysis and searing determination.
“I am very close,” Midoriya says through his teeth, “to doing something I will regret.”
Todoroki quickly goes over a list of places they can go. They can’t leave campus without prior notice and decent reason, but UA itself is huge. “Do you want to say here?”
Midoriya opens his mouth. A shallow explosion echoes from above, along with the faint sounds of indignant yelling. He closes his mouth, jaw clicking.
“Let me get us jackets,” Todoroki says.
He ducks back into his room, grabs his black peacoat, and throws it over his arm. His hoodie is folded on his desk. He probably shouldn’t give Midoriya something that isn’t impeccably clean, but he’s only slept in it twice, and it’s the softest thing he owns.
“Okay, let’s go.”
They walk stiffly downstairs, and through the common room. It’s quiet, considering most of their classmates don’t go to bed until late. The few people in the kitchen hardly take notice of them.
Todoroki leads them away from the dorm building. He doesn’t have a destination in mind—getting out of sight of the dorms and staying away from training complexes that might tempt Midoriya is his only goal.
He likes sparring with Midoriya, but when Midoriya is like this, shaking with excess energy, tight-lipped and serious, he pushes himself in dangerous ways. If either of them used their quirk without supervision in one of the larger training complexes and injured themselves, they would be harshly reprimanded, maybe even placed on temporary probation, which would only increase Midoriya’s anxiety about being static, about not doing enough, about not being enough.
Todoroki wonders when Midoriya started making so much sense to him. Did that blinding moment they shared at the sports festival bring them this close, or do you come to know someone better while sharing space with them, by sleeping beside them?
“What are you thinking about?” Midoriya asks, staring up at him, bottom lip caught between his teeth. He looks like a loud noise could set him off.
“Sharing a bed,” Todoroki says.
Midoriya is so startled that he trips and almost face-plants. Todoroki grabs his arm and pulls him back up in one smooth motion. Midoriya sways under his grip, shaking his head like a dog with water in its ears.
“Do you think sharing a bed with someone helps you to get to know them better?”
Midoriya straightens up, and Todoroki waits a moment before letting his hand drop. “Maybe? You would learn more about their sleeping habits, and maybe about their pyjama preferences, and maybe more if they talked in their sleep and revealed personal information.”
“That’s not what I meant.” They start a slow amble around the main building. It’s dark, but there are lights embedded into the path, and above them, various windows are lit up with staff working late in their offices or classrooms. “Do you learn more about someone’s thoughts and fears by proxy?”
“Like osmosis?” Midoriya squints up at the starless sky. “I don’t know. It’s probably more likely that spending time with someone affords you a better understanding of their thought pattern.”
Todoroki nods along to Midoriya’s rationale, and notes, quietly, that he’s stopped shaking. Some of the tightness around his eyes and mouth is gone.
Todoroki realises he’s still cradling their jackets. He holds out the hoodie to Midoriya. “Here.”
“Oh! I couldn’t—”
“I brought it out here for you to wear. If you don’t, I’ll just be carrying it around.”
Midoriya reaches for the hoodie and slips it on. It’s long in the sleeves, reaching down to his fingertips, but it fits perfectly in the shoulders and upper arms. A little too perfectly, really. Todoroki finds himself wondering if, in a few years’ time, his clothes will be too tight for Midoriya, straining across his muscles.
Midoriya is built sturdier than him. His quirk relies on strength, so it would make sense.
Midoriya peeks up at him from beneath his fringe, fidgeting with the hoodie’s long sleeves. He brings the hem up to his nose. “It’s soft. And it smells nice.”
Todoroki swallows. Suddenly, he feels dehydrated. Did he forget to drink water today? Did he forget to drink water all week?
“Are you feeling okay, Todoroki?”
“What happened earlier?” he asks hoarsely, ignoring the strange static feeling crawling across his skin. It must be the peacoat. He hasn’t worn it in a while.
Midoriya drops his arms, his expression hardening. “Kacchan happened.”
Todoroki stops, and directs them to the dry area beneath a cropping of trees, dimly lit by the nearby path’s light. He sits against the trunk, and Midoriya joins him. Their shoulders brush.
“Tell me more,” Todoroki says.
Midoriya balls his hands back into fists, and starts explaining. It’s nothing new—micro-aggressions, and moments exchanged in training that are more brutal than any student sparring should be, the history between them simmering on a low boil—but that, if anything, has set Midoriya off.
He grits his teeth. “He’s working to be better, to move past this, I know he is, but some days— some days, he just … ”
“I understand,” Todoroki says. Midoriya exhales, shoulders slumping. “I’m glad you didn’t go straight for the gym.”
“I almost did. I wanted to work out some of this energy, but I was worried I would run into Kacchan, and I’d do something I’d regret, and then I remembered my promise to you.”
Midoriya leans more heavily against him. Todoroki goes still. It reminds him of having a cat curl up in his lap, and sitting motionless, afraid of moving and spooking the creature.
“Being around you is calming,” Midoriya admits.
“Do you feel better now? Do you think Bakugou will be an issue tomorrow?”
“Probably not. It’s hit and miss with him. Some days are better than others, some days are worse, and there’s no way of guessing which will be when.”
They sit shoulder to shoulder and talk. The temperature of the air dropping as night advances, and Midoriya shivers and presses up against Todoroki’s warm side. He puts his arm around Midoriya’s shoulder, so that the warmth can trickle from him to his friend.
Midoriya falls asleep like that. Todoroki watches him. Almost without realising it, he falls asleep, too.
A hand shakes him awake. Todoroki’s face is pressed into something soft, tickling his nose. He blinks, shifts, and realises his cheek has sunk into Midoriya’s wild hair.
Aizawa crouches patiently in front of them. “You two should be in the dorms.”
Todoroki gently shakes Midoriya awake. He takes a moment to look up at Todoroki, their sides still pressed up together, Todoroki’s arm still around him, before registering Aizawa. He jumps away from Todoroki with a shout.
Aizawa sighs. “Curfew was ten minutes ago. Don’t go on any more romantic strolls at night; I don’t want to have to track you down again. Find better ways to spoon on your own time.”
Midoriya blushes, and Todoroki finds the grass beneath his feet suddenly fascinating.
“We weren’t—we were just—” Midoriya tries to explain, before giving up.
Aizawa sighs through his nose. “Come on, I’ll walk you back.”
The next time Todoroki opens his door to Midoriya, he’s not surprised to see him. He’s not shaking this time, though he is bouncing from foot to foot, looking everywhere but at Todoroki.
“Is this okay?” Midoriya wonders, and it sounds more like he’s directing the question towards himself. “I should have texted you first, at least. You might have been busy, and this can seem pretty presumptuous, now that I think about it. What if you stop wanting to do this, but you’re too polite to say something, and you keep doing this because you feel like you don’t have a choice—?”
Todoroki grabs a fistful of his sweatshirt and drags him into his dorm. Midoriya stumbles in and the door clicks closed. He jumps at the sound.
Todoroki studies him. Midoriya’s eyes are trained on the ground, and he’s playing with his hands, knotting his fingers together. “Do you think I could make those thoughts stop?”
Midoriya looks from the floor to Todoroki’s face, before his gaze darts to the side, like he’s afraid of making eye contact. “What?”
“Your anxiety. That second-guessing that you’re doing. Your brain running at full speed. It can’t be comfortable for you, can it?” Todoroki steps closer. “Do you think that I could help?”
For a moment, Midoriya stops breathing. Then, he exhales noisily. “You already do. My mind gets quiet around you.”
“Like when you’re soaking in the bath, and all your thoughts fall away, and all you can think about is how nice it feels, and how you never want to move again.” Midoriya scrubs a hand through his hair. “Except my brain never really shuts up, not even when I’m in the bath, so when I’m around you, it’s even quieter than that.” He makes a face at his collapsing metaphor. “I said too much, didn’t I?”
“Do you want to sleep?” Todoroki asks, unperturbed.
Midoriya nods. Todoroki changes into his pyjamas with his back to Midoriya, and puts his dirty uniform in the fabric bag hanging by his door. When he turns back around, Midoriya is curled into the futon, eyes on the ceiling, face beet-red.
“It’ll be a tight squeeze in my room,” Todoroki realises. “Sorry.”
Midoriya shakes his head, still not quite meeting Todoroki’s eyes. “There’s not that much of a difference in size. It just looks that way since my bed is elevated.”
“You seem uncomfortable. You don’t have to stay here if you prefer your room.”
“No,” Midoriya says, too quickly. If possible, his face heats up even more. “I like it here. I’ve just—I’ve never been in your room before, and I’m—I’m—I’m adjusting!”
Todoroki slides into his futon. Their legs brush up against each other. Midoriya is wearing shorts, and Todoroki’s sweatpants cut off after the knee. Midoriya’s legs are warm and hairy, and the contact sends a jolt up Todoroki’s spine, like an electric shock.
“Are you okay?” Todoroki asks. Midoriya stares at him, frozen. Todoroki frowns. “Did you come here because you were feeling overwrought again? Do you want to go to the gym?”
That shakes Midoriya out of his reverie. He settles into the futon, trying to get comfortable, and Todoroki mimics him. Their legs don’t brush again, but Todoroki feels hyper-aware of the distance between them.
“Overwrought,” Midoriya says with a smile. Is he mocking Todoroki’s word choice? “No. I’m feeling a little anxious tonight, but I’m anxious a lot of nights, and it’s not something that can really be fixed by another person’s presence. It’s just—I wanted—I wanted to see you.”
“Oh,” Todoroki says.
Midoriya chews on the inside of his cheek. “Is that—should I not have come?”
“No,” Todoroki says. “I’m glad you came. You’re like a heating pad.”
Midoriya snorts into his half of the pillow. “Your quirk is probably better at keeping you warm than I am.”
Todoroki almost says I prefer you, but the shared quiet of their dorm room, the few centimetres between their bare legs, the soft shifting of the blankets as they settle into the futon, makes him hold his tongue. It would be too honest to say. He’s not entirely sure why, or what that means.
“Is it too warm?” Todoroki says, instead. “If you feel overheated—”
“No, it’s okay.”
“Tell me if my quirk is bothering you.”
“You don’t bother me, Todoroki.” Midoriya smiles at him, but there’s something about his eyes, the way his mouth is tilted up, that Todoroki can’t quite understand.
Todoroki doesn’t realise he’s clutching at the back of Midoriya’s pyjama shirt until he shifts his arm, and the shirt moves with him. He freezes, looks down. Midoriya is still asleep, though it’s hard to tell at this angle; his face is tucked into Todoroki’s chest. He can feel Midoriya’s nose through his shirt. The pinched skin between his eyebrows. The warm puffs of air leaving his mouth as he sleeps. His curls brush against Todoroki’s chin.
Todoroki has his arms curled around him, holding him there. They must have moved in their sleep. Did Todoroki manoeuvre Midoriya in his sleep, his hand tangling in his shirt and tugging him close to him? Did Midoriya shift on his own? Or was it a mutual thing, the two of them edging closer together like magnets, seeking the warmth of each other’s skin even while asleep?
For some reason, Todoroki is fascinated by that. His mind winds around in circles. He doesn’t even think about moving, until Midoriya’s breathing changes, and he wakes up, peeking up at Todoroki. He goes red.
“Sorry,” blurts Midoriya.
“I don’t mind.” Todoroki realises his hand is still bunched in Midoriya’s shirt. He lets go abruptly. “I kind of like—I mean. I’m sorry, too.”
Midoriya’s eyes are wide, but he doesn’t immediately scramble off of Todoroki’s chest. “I—I kind of. I kind of don’t mind this,” he manages after a moment, the words coming out half-strangled.
“I don’t mind it, either,” Todoroki says quickly. Too quickly. He sounds embarrassingly eager.
Midoriya stays against his chest. For a few minutes, it’s awkward. They’re both stiff, like they’re afraid of moving and disturbing the other, but they relax, bit by bit, until Todoroki is afraid he’ll fall asleep again.
He’ll miss class if that happens, but that’s not what he’s scared of; he’s scared of missing this shared moment with Midoriya.
“You’re comfy,” Midoriya mumbles into his shirt. “It’s quiet.”
It’s not quiet. There are people bustling around in the neighbouring dorms. The boys downstairs are shouting, and Bakugou is setting off explosions that make people shriek and run around, their footsteps echoing up the stairwell. Midoriya must sense his confusion, because he bites at the inside of his cheek, then taps a finger against his temple.
“Here,” he says. “It’s quiet in here.”
Todoroki can’t help the small smile that pulls at his lips. “That’s what I’m here for.”
Todoroki has a rough training session. His flames won’t listen to him. It’s like they’re an angry spirit he can’t tame, rather than a product of his own body. He almost burns Hagakure, and Aizawa dresses him down in front of the entire class for his sloppy work.
Todoroki doesn’t mind the criticism or how public it is, but the feeling of fire under his skin, the uncontrollable fluctuation of his temperature when his quirk gets like this, leaves him unbalanced. It reminds him of long training sessions with Endeavour, pushing his body past its breaking point, until it gives up and refuses to listen to him.
His friends shoot him commiserating glances as they file off towards the showers after the run-down of their training session is over. Midoriya comes up to him, sweaty and streaked with soot from where he was caught up in one of Bakugou’s explosions, and says, “I’ll see you tonight?”
“Your room?” Todoroki asks.
Midoriya nods, offers him a blinding smile, then follows after his classmates towards the showers.
Yaoyorozu lingers after everyone else is gone. She was probably planning on seeing if he was alright, but now all she does is stare at Midoriya’s retreating back. “What was that?”
“What was what?”
She looks at him, then smiles. “Congratulations, Todoroki.”
She laughs behind her hand. “I guess it’s a little premature. Well, congratulations on your future happiness, then.”
She heads to the changing rooms, and Todoroki is left staring after her, confused.
That night, Todoroki knocks, and Midoriya calls, “It’s open!”
Midoriya is already in bed, his laptop open on his knees. He pats the space next to him, and Todoroki climbs in. Midoriya inches closer to him, until they're just barely touching, angling the laptop so that Todoroki can see.
“You said you hadn’t seen any of the All Might movies, so I thought I’d introduce you to my favourite one. It’s not the most popular one—that’s the 2XXX one—but that was 90 minutes of action for the sake of action, and it’s overinflated budget was used to cast famous actors so they could sell more tickets.”
Todoroki settles more firmly against his pillow. Both of their beds have an extra pillow in them now, for nights like this. “And your favourite?”
“The 2XXX one! Technically it’s an off-shoot of My Hero Adventures, an anime that explored real life pros and their motivations for being a hero, but when they came around to featuring All Might, they gave him his own movie-length segment. It’s animated so you don’t have to adjust to seeing a different person dressed up as All Might—which I can never really get over, honestly; other people just don’t live up to his … well, everything, really. Oh, and the film also goes into detail about All Might’s brand of heroism, and how important having a Symbol of Peace is.”
It’s warm here. Rather than the stippling flames hiding under his ribs, he feels Midoriya’s body heat and the warmth of the laptop. He thinks about Midoriya’s metaphor from last time they had done this.
When you’re having a warm bath, and all you can think about is how nice it feels, and how you never want to move again.
He had been right. The tension in his body is leaving, bit by bit, and all Todoroki can think about, beside the movie and the informative comments coming from Midoriya every few moments, is that he never wants to leave.
This time, Todoroki wakes up to his nose tucked against Midoriya’s collarbone, his arm wrapped around his stomach. Their legs are twisted together. Todoroki’s brain is too sleep-soft for that burst of electricity at the contact to manifest itself and fully pull him back into reality.
Midoriya makes a noise in the back of his throat, and then arches his back, pushing his chest further into Todoroki’s face. He can feel the planes of Midoriya’s stomach like this, he realises. The outline of his abs. The hardness of ribs beneath muscle.
“Todoroki … ”
He squints through his fringe, taking in Midoriya’s droopy face and his mussed bed-head. “Good morning,” he manages. His brain doesn’t want to start. Everything feels so calm. “Should I move?”
Midoriya’s face reddens, but he shakes his head. “You’re fine.”
“Okay.” Todoroki lays his head back down on Midoriya’s chest. A part of him thinks he should be embarrassed, but they’ve woken up like this before. It’s nothing new.
“Don’t go back to sleep. We have to get up soon.”
Todoroki hums, but doesn’t open his eyes. “Tell me about more about the All Might movies. What are the others like?”
“You liked that one last night?”
Midoriya talks about the All Might movies in descending levels of fondness. When he loops back around to the mainstream one, there’s a bitterness in his voice Todoroki hasn’t ever heard before. Midoriya isn’t one to hold grudges unless, it seems, it’s about film franchises about All Might.
When he feels awake enough, he rolls off of Midoriya and stretches out. Midoriya props himself up beside him. “How are you feeling?”
“Better, today. How are you? Did you sleep okay?”
Midoriya is still a little red. He blushes so easily. “You’re very warm. I don’t know if I’ve ever slept that well before.”
“I’m happy to be your hot water bottle,” Todoroki says.
Midoriya hides his face in the mattress. At this point, Todoroki is so used to this that he laughs. Midoriya peeks up at him. The expression on his face—Todoroki stops laughing. “What is it?”
“You don’t laugh often,” Midoriya says quietly. He swallows. “It’s … really nice.”
Another smile tugs at his lips. “I’ll do it more, then.”
Midoriya nods, oddly subdued. “Please do.”
Todoroki doesn’t have a reason for heading to Midoriya’s room. He spends most nights in his own, but after two months of this, it feels natural to wonder to Midoriya’s, knock once, and let himself in.
Midoriya holds his laptop up long enough for Todoroki to climb over him to the other side of the bed, settling in between Midoriya and the wall.
“What are we watching?”
Midoriya props his laptop between them. He has a journal open, and a pen in hand, ink blots running down one palm. “Hero analysis. My favourite YouTuber just uploaded a new one about Best Jeanist. Do you mind?”
“No. Go ahead.”
Midoriya presses play again. Without thinking, Todoroki uses his quirk to heat up his half of the bed. Warmth spreads through white linen, and Midoriya sighs, sinking deeper into his pillow, and edges closer to Todoroki. “I’m going to fall asleep if you keep that up.”
“Isn’t that the point of our arrangement?”
“This video is half an hour long, and they haven’t even started the analysis on fighting techniques yet.”
Todoroki stays quiet, and heats up the bed a little more. Midoriya throws his pen at him.
A fist pounds on the door.
Midoriya jolts awake, and Todoroki tightens his hold on him, stopping him from getting out of bed. Todoroki doesn’t want Midoriya to move, unless it’s to get even closer.
Voices can be heard from outside the room. Todoroki blearily recognises them as Iida, Uraraka, and Kirishima.
“This isn’t polite. We should wait until Midoriya opens the door, and then—”
“There’s no time for politeness, Iida! Aizawa is handing out detentions left and right. Deku’s freedom is at stake here.”
“Yeah, dude, it’s our responsibility to fetch our friend before he gets in trouble.”
“Maybe, but we shouldn’t just barge into his room—”
The knob turns, and the three of them—all dressed in their pyjamas with their hair in various states of disarray—tumble through the doorway and land face first on the floor. They look up, see Midoriya staring back at them with huge eyes, see a sleepy Todoroki nosing into his collarbone, and then scramble back to their feet.
“Dude,” Kirishima says, grinning.
“Deku!” Uraraka bounces on the tips of her toes. “I can’t believe you didn’t tell me that you’re dating Todoroki. We’re your best friends!”
“You didn’t tell either of us?” Iida says, echoing Uraraka.
“What?” Midoriya squeaks.
Iida sighs while Uraraka laughs, their frustration with Midoriya fading away immediately. “Congratulations, regardless. You two are good together.”
Midoriya’s voice is strangled. “This isn’t—it isn’t what it looks like, I swear.”
It is far too early for this. Todoroki makes a disgruntled noise in the back of his throat, and pulls Midoriya closer to him, rubbing his cool nose against the soft skin of Midoriya’s throat, trying to get comfortable again. He can’t see Midoriya’s face from his angle, but he feels the way he relaxes under Todoroki, melting like ice left out in the sun.
“Man,” Kirishima complains, “now I just feel jealous.”
“There’s nothing to be jealous of,” Midoriya says.
“Except for the seventy kilos of pretty boy on top of you.”
Uraraka snickers. “Get it, Midoriya.”
Todoroki takes his head off of Midoriya’s chest long enough to watch Uraraka and Kirishima high-five, and then turn to Midoriya, their hands up, expecting a high-five from him, too. Beside them, Iida opens and closes his mouth, like he’s not sure if he should scold them or join them in their teasing. Midoriya’s blush creeps down his neck and spreads across his collarbone.
“It’s really not like that,” Midoriya says again.
Someone that sounds suspiciously like Hagakure shouts down the hallway, “Todoroki and Midoriya are boning!”
Todoroki hadn’t even noticed her poking her head through the doorway.
Midoriya rips himself away from Todoroki, and stumbles getting out of bed, legs tangled in the sheets. He manages to stay upright through sheer force of will. He flails his hands around. “We’re not sleeping together! I mean, technically we are sleeping together, but it’s not like that! We’re friends. Friends who sleep together. Lying next to each other and just sleeping.”
Kirishima just keeps smiling that overjoyed, toothy smile. “There’s no need to hide it, dude. Joking aside, your love is incredibly inspiring and manly, and I’m sure everyone will be supportive, or at least very jealous.”
Todoroki watches from the bed, still swathed in blankets, blinking his eyes slowly like a cat.
“We’re happy for you,” Iida agrees, and Uraraka nods, her unbrushed hair bouncing around her face.
At that moment, a group of people fall into Midoriya’s room, almost bowling over the three of them. Todoroki stares down at the pile of pyjama clad classmates. He really wants to go back to sleep—Midoriya is comfortable and warm, though that last part might be due to his darkening blush—but that doesn’t look like it’ll be happening anytime soon.
It’s way, way too early for this.
Aizawa stands in the common room, scowling at his congregated students. His arms are crossed over his fleece pyjamas. His eyes are more bloodshot than usual.
“This was a drill. If this was a real emergency, you’d all be dead.”
Yaoyorozu raises a hand in the air. “Sir, no alarms went off.”
“Villains might switch off the power in the case of an infiltration. UA has backup generators, but they are not faultless, especially considering power-centred quirks.” His eyes dart briefly to Kaminari, who has tripped the main power for the dorms more than once. “If it’s possible, alarms will be set off, but you need to know how to evacuate yourself and your classmates without them.”
The class shuffles in place. Not only had they failed to evacuate quickly, they had spent almost twenty minutes running around the dorms and yelling about how early it was, trying to work out what was happening, and why Todoroki was in Midoriya’s room.
Aizawa looks at Midoriya and Todoroki. Midoriya gulps audibly.
“And normally, students are supposed to be in their own dorm rooms.”
“Sir,” Todoroki says, ready to argue.
Aizawa raises a hand to stop him. “Everyone else go and get ready for class. You’re all expected to be in homeroom at the normal time. Midoriya and Todoroki, stay behind.”
The class filters out, shooting them conspicuous glances. Jirou might have attempted to eavesdrop if Aizawa hadn’t been there, more than ready to dish out detentions.
When the common room is empty, Aizawa sighs and pushes his hair out of his eyes. “It’s always you, isn’t it, Midoriya?”
“That’s not true,” Midoriya says. “Sometimes it’s Kacchan.”
Aizawa ignores him. “Students living in the dorm are generally expected to sleep in their own rooms. It isn’t an official rule, but it is an established part of dorm etiquette.”
Midoriya looks down at his bare feet, but Todoroki squares his shoulders. “Are you going to make us stop?”
“No,” Aizawa says. “Is this arrangement sexual?”
Midoriya’s face is bright pink. Todoroki thinks his might be, too. This is not a conversation he ever wanted to have, especially not this early.
“It’s not,” Todoroki says, making sure to meet Aizawa’s gaze, even if his face is burning.
“Okay,” Aizawa says. “I believe you, and I trust both of you to be safe and smart if anything like that does occur, later on. If you need a refresher on sex ed, you can go to Recovery Girl or Midnight or, if it makes you more comfortable, you can talk to me if you need.” They both nod, their eyes on their feet. “Now. What happened?”
“What do you mean?” Midoriya asks.
“You were both coming to class exhausted a few months ago. You’re not, now.”
Todoroki considers telling Aizawa that he had found Midoriya in the gym, shaking from overexertion, pushing himself far past his limits, but that’s not his story to tell. It’s up to Midoriya whether or not he’ll share his troubles with Aizawa.
“I have nightmares,” Todoroki says instead. “It’s hard to be in my room after them. It brings up memories. And Midoriya has his own reasons for struggling with sleep.”
Aizawa looks to Midoriya, who smiles sheepishly. “Todoroki found me in the dorm gym a few months ago, and managed to shake some sense into me.”
“We have an arrangement,” Todoroki says. “A platonic arrangement.”
Aizawa snorts like he doesn’t believe them, but doesn’t ban them from going anywhere near each other, which Todoroki had feared, almost irrationally.
“It’s logical that you deal with this similar issue together. If you have further issues with insomnia and nightmares, there are on-campus counsellors you can talk to, not to mention a host of other resources. You can also talk to me. Or All Might.”
Midoriya looks at the floor, and mumbles, “I didn’t really want him to know.”
“If something is bothering you, especially if it concerns him, you should talk to him,” Aizawa says.
Aizawa walks a fine line between giving them space and not talking down to them, and giving them the support and discipline they need. Todoroki, who has lived in a chokehold most of his life, is continually left unbalanced by it.
“I’ll think about it,” Midoriya says.
Aizawa waves a hand to dismiss them. “Good. Now go get ready for class.”
Kirishima stops them on their way back to their dorm rooms. He’s wearing his collared shirt and tie over a pair of pyjama pants.
“I just wanted to say I’m sorry,” Kirishima says, scrubbing a hand through his loose hair. “Iida was right—we shouldn’t have barged into your room like that. Or teased you like that and made you uncomfortable.”
“No, no,” Midoriya says, waving his hands around. “It’s okay. I’m okay. Todoroki?”
“I think you made Midoriya uncomfortable,” Todoroki says, and ignores the way Midoriya opens his mouth to try and argue. “You should probably be careful with that in the future. But otherwise, I didn’t have a problem with it.”
Kirishima nods, looking far too determined for someone still half in their pyjamas. “Got it. I’ll tell our classmates to back off a little, too.”
Todoroki still has to get ready for class, but he follows Midoriya back to his dorm room. A part of him wants nothing more than to climb back into Midoriya’s bed, chasing the cooling body heat left behind on his crumpled sheets, and go back to sleep, preferably while curled around Midoriya. But they have class in less than an hour, and Todoroki doesn’t think Midoriya can sleep, given how nervous he looks, glancing between the closed door and Todoroki.
Todoroki takes a seat on the bed. Midoriya joins him. Their knees bump.
“I’m sorry about that,” Midoriya blurts, pulling at his fingers. “I’m really not sure how everyone came to that conclusion, that we aren’t friends. Are more than friends. Are dating. I mean, you’re clearly out of my league, and I’m me, so I really don’t—”
Todoroki has no idea how he somehow got himself into a cuddle-buddy arrangement with Midoriya but he's not questioning it. In fact, he quite likes it.
Except that’s not true. He knows how he got to this point. And yet, he’s baffled by the ease with which they’ve fallen into a routine, the unobtrusive way they fall against each other when they crawl into bed, the way smiles come to him without effort when they’re like this, alone together. The way he knows instinctively that Midoriya is judging himself against Todoroki and finding himself wanting.
He doesn’t know how Midoriya can think like that—he’s amazing—but he understands how Midoriya views the world and his place in it. He knows how Midoriya views himself, as plain and easily overlooked, and it’s so beyond anything that Todoroki knows about him that he can’t let that sit.
“You don’t have to apologise,” Todoroki says. “Kirishima already did that. And … and you’re not out of my league. I’d be honoured to be in a relationship with you. You’re—”
Todoroki closes his mouth, and turns away. That’s too much. Midoriya is a friend, and Todoroki may be a little awkward when it comes to social interactions, but he knows he probably shouldn’t tell a friend how strong, and intelligent, and kind, and attractive you find them. That seems invasive.
Invasive. As though they haven’t been sharing a bed for weeks.
“Todoroki,” Midoriya says quietly.
“Maybe I’m the one that’s been taking advantage of your kindness, all this time. Maybe this is a burden on you—”
“I don’t want this to stop,” Midoriya blurts, and then colours. He sucks in a breath, steadying himself, before continuing, “I’ve really enjoyed spending time with you. I’ve even found it difficult to sleep sometimes, when I’m alone. Is that weird?”
“No,” Todoroki says, thinking about the nights he’s spent in his own room, sliding a hand over the cold side of his futon, disorientated at finding it empty, Midoriya out of reach. “I feel the same way.”
They stare at each other for a moment. The sound of their classmates moving around the neighbouring dorm rooms remind them that they need to get ready for class soon. The AC whirs overhead. Todoroki’s heart is racing in his chest, and he wonders, irrationally, if Midoriya can hear it.
“We don’t have to correct anyone if they assume we’re together—” Midoriya says, at the same time that Todoroki says, “Would you go on a date with me?”
They both freeze. Midoriya’s eyes are wide.
“Sorry,” Todoroki says quickly. If possible, his heart speeds up. It’s going to beat right out of his chest.
“No!” Midoriya waves his hands around in the air. “I mean, yes! A date would be—I would like to go on a date. As long as you want to, that is. That would be, uh. That would be really nice.”
A knot of tension unwinds in Todoroki’s chest. “You’re saying yes?”
“I’m saying yes.”
“We’re dating, then,” Todoroki says.
They stare at each other again. Midoriya’s cheeks are still pink, but he’s smiling, and Todoroki realises that he’s smiling too. He’s not sure how long they sit there, smiling at each other. Someone bangs at the door, and they startle.
“Come on, guys,” Kirishima says from the other side of the door. “You’re going to miss class, and Aizawa is already mad enough.”
“Don’t rush them,” Jirou says. “They need time to cover up their hickies.”
Midoriya jumps to his feet. “There are no hickies!”
“That’s what everyone with hickies says,” Ashido says, laughing.
“I told you guys not to tease them!” Kirishima says.
“Sorry,” Ashido and Jirou chorus.
“We should confirm with them that we are dating,” Todoroki says. “I’m sure they’re all curious, now. Would you be okay with that?”
Midoriya goes pink and shy at the reminder that they’re dating. Todoroki has already begun to brainstorm date ideas.
The sun has only just risen outside, but already, Todoroki is looking forward to going to bed tonight. To seeing, again, what Midoriya looks like when he sleeps, what his curls feel like pressed up against his cheek, what it’s like to dream next to him. To waking up beside him.
Midoriya reaches out and takes his hand. After months of sleeping beside one another, of leg brushes that cause electricity to race down his spine, of waking up tangled together in the mornings, of breathing each other’s air, the feel of their fingers threading together shouldn’t make Todoroki’s heart race. It shouldn’t make him feel dizzy with happiness.
But it does.