Shoto was five before the mark even started to form. It was early, but not unheard of. Some kids didn’t get their soul marks until their quirks manifested. There were theories it had changed from older generations so that partners would have more compatible quirks. Really, no one truly understood soul marks, they were simply a part of life and always had been.
At some point every child began to grow a soul mark. Some spot on their skin would darken over time until it sported the name of their soul mate. Some marks were large, some were small, some were hidden under clothes, others plainly written on the person’s face. Shoto was one of the latter.
Shoto Todoroki, child of the hero Endeavor, had a soul mark developing on his face. The pale skin over his left eye dark with fuzzy script that was getting a little clearer every day. Fuyumi was the one who noticed it first.
“Hey, Shoto is getting a soul mark,” She exclaimed one day over breakfast, leaning over the table to push her little brothers hair out of his face to see. “You can’t really read it yet but it’s there.”
Enji snorted, busy with his breakfast and the morning paper. “Of course he’s getting a mark, his quirk is going to finish developing soon.”
Rei forced a weak smile at her oldest children. “Yes, well you all got yours pretty young too.” She busied herself with fixing coffee, head down. Quirks and soul marks were both difficult topics in the Todoroki household. Ones Rei normally avoided, especially with her husband within earshot.
Ntasuo stood up from the table and pushed his bowl away. ‘I’m going to head into school now,” he announced. He took a moment to kiss his mother on the cheek as he left. “Bye mom.” He didn’t so much as look at his father as he left the room, but he patted Shoto on the head as he went by.
“Well, we’ll have to just wait and see what name you end up with!” Fuyumi kissed her brother on the forehead and quickly swallowed the last of her toast. “One moment, I’ll walk with you!” She gave her father a small smile, and her mother a hug, before hurrying after her brother.
Shoto quietly waved at his siblings as they left, slightly jealous. He didn’t go to a real school yet, he just stayed home with his mother most days. Now that he was getting bigger, sometimes his father would spend time with him in the training rooms. His quirk hadn’t fully developed, but he knew his father was very eager to see what power he would have.
Enji watched his older children leave and set down the paper. “Shoto, you’re with me today.” He stood and grabbed a mug from the shelf, passing it to his wife to fill. “I’m going to see how your quirk is progressing.”
Rei filled the mug, hands shaking slightly as she lifted the coffee pot. “Oh, today? I was thinking…”
Enji snatched the cup and took a drink, headless of the steam coming off the hot coffee. “You were thinking what? That you would just keep babying him like you did with the others? Shoto is my son, and it’s clear now he’s not a baby anymore if he’s getting his mark. He needs to be training so he can handle his quirk.” He tightened his grip on the mug, and the liquid started to bubble from the heat radiating from his hands.
Rei swallowed whatever else she was going to say, and simply nodded. She hurried to clear the table, her hands leaving little patterns of frost on the juice glasses as she gathered them up. Shoto watched until his father pulled him away, his mother not even looking up as they left the table.
Shoto followed his father into the training room, keeping close behind the large man. He had been in the training room before, but every time he was allowed in he felt overwhelmed. His mother kept most of the estate clean and decorated, but the training room was just his father’s territory. It was a large room, with weights and exercise equipment against the far wall, and a cleared out part for other training. Unlike the rest of the house, the floors here were not regular tatami mats, but stone tiled floors, so that his father could use his quirk without damaging anything.
Enji drained his coffee as he crossed the room to a wooden storage bench on the far wall. Once he was done with his coffee he wordlessly set his mug down, and began to strip out of his casual clothes. He toed off his house slippers and kicked them under the bench, then began undoing the buttons on his shirt.
Shoto pulled himself up onto a stool and watched his father change into his flame retardant workout gear. His father, he knew, was not like other fathers. Other kids had fathers that seemed small and weak and soft compared to Enji. His father was larger than life, like the sun, or All Might. When he saw other kids with their parents, he felt bad for them. Their moms weren’t as pretty, their fathers looked weak. Even the kids of other pro heros were to be pitied because his father was obviously one of the best.
The sound of his father’s voice was enough to snap Shoto out of his thoughts. “Yes father?”
“Here, change into this, and we can get started.” Enji held out a set of athletic shorts and a tank top, both made of a similar material to his own gear. “You can’t work out in that.” He gestured to Shoto’s outfit, picked by his mother. A short sleeve button up shirt in icey blue and navy blue shorts with matching navy knee socks.
“Oh, okay.” Shoto took the clothes and started to strip, heedless of his father watching him. The shorts were shorter than the ones he normally wore, and the shirt tighter, but the material was oddly silky, and he liked the feeling of them on his skin. “Hey now I look just like you!” he beamed up at the older man.
“Hmm.” Enji leaned down and pushed his son’s hair out of his face, briefly exposing the faint lines of the beginning of his soul mark. He stared hard at his son’s face, trying in vain to make out what the name could be. But the mark was still unclear, not even half formed, it would be a little while before it was legible.
He could remember his other children coming into their marks. Each one manifested their quirk around the same time. He had very little interest in his children having soulmates, after all, a soul mark was no guarantee of anything. His own soul mark had been a hazy smudge his whole life, and his wife didn’t have one at all, but they had managed to get married and have a family.
Marriage was for securing family alliances, reproduction was for making strong children. So far, his children had done nothing but let him down. None were a worthy successor, a true hero. Shoto was his last hope. His wife was unwilling to give him more children, so he had to hope his last son would have the powers he had hoped for when he got married.
Matching for the sake of quirk development wasn’t unheard of, but it was frowned upon by society. He had tried, early on, to put on the act of being happy with his wife. But as the years continued and his rank as a pro hero continued to rise, he had realized that no one truly cared. Sure people publicly condemned matches for the sake of creating more powerful children, but really no one cared what heroes did as long as they were good at their job. And he was great at his.
“Father?” Shoto looked up at his dad quizzically. “Is something wrong?” His father wasn’t one for casual touch most of the time. But he had been holding his face for the better part of two minutes It was nice, his father’s hands were warm, unlike his mother’s.
“No, nothing.” Enji let his hands drop. “Now, I want you to come over here with me.” he lead the boy over to the middle of the room, and dropped into a low stance with his fists up.
Shoto bent his knees and raised his tiny fists, frowning as he tried to square up his feet and shoulders like his father had done. He had watched hundreds of his father’s fights on television, and he liked to try and copy the attacks. But doing it in front of Enji instead of his toys was different.
Enji nodded his approval as the boy copied his stance. “Now, I want you to focus as hard as you can, and punch forward. Try and pay attention to your hands, if they feel warmer or cooler. Or if you feel anything change temperature in your stomach.” He activated his quirk, Hellflame flaring up around him. He took a deep breath and did a series of quick, precise punches, each one accompanied by a small burst of flame.
Shoto watched wide eyed, his hands falling to his side. “You want me to do that?” he looked at his own tiny hands uncertainly. He knew some other kids were starting to get their quirks, but he hadn’t really noticed his own yet. “A fire punch?”
Enji dropped down to one knee and grabbed Shoto’s arms, pulling them back up into position. “Just take a deep breath, and punch hard. If you feel something else start to happen, let it.” He let go of his son’s hands and moved back, eyes narrowed intensely. He was sure his son was going to have an amazing quirk. Shoto was going to be great.
Shoto bit his lip and tried his best to copy his father’s moves. His first punch felt weak, shaky. He took a deep breath and tried to breath out at the same time as he punched. It felt better than way. He punched again, and again. He took a step forward, putting more force into it.
“Keep going Shoto!” Enji shouted, slamming his foot on the ground. His flames kicked up as he watched, flame mustache growing as he huffed out a breath. “Yes!”
Shoto glared at the air ahead of him and kept pushing his attack. His father had drilled with him before, but this time it felt different. He punched harder, fists pummeling the air. He kept going, even as his arms began to hurt, and his hair stuck to the sweat on his forehead.
Suddenly, Shoto felt something. It was like his sweat wasn’t keeping up with how hot his body was getting. He flicked his head, trying to keep it out of his eyes, but the air on his feverish skin felt cold. Colder than ice. He ignored it and punched again. Another quick flurry of jabs, and then-
“YES!” Enji jumped up, eyes wide, flames billowing around him. “YES, that’s it Shoto!”
The puff of flame had been small, but it was there. Shoto stared at his hand in surprise. He flexed his fingers, then gave another couple of careful punches. Again, another little puff of flame. But only from one of his hands. He held up his right hand and wiggled the fingers. While his left hand felt hot, the palm sweaty, his other hand felt cool, and there was no hint of fire there.
“There’s nothing on this side.” Shoto waved his little hand in the air at his father. Without thinking, he reached out and grabbed at the man, catching hold of flame engulfed hand. He opened his mouth to yell, ready for searing pain. But there was nothing. His hand was fine.
Enji dulled his flames and reached out, grabbing Shoto’s right hand. His skin was still overheated form using his own quirk, but he could tell, Shoto’s skin felt just like his mother’s did. He wrapped one massive hand around Shoto’s wrist and massaged the skin of his palm, then his wrist, then the rest of his arm. Shoto was cool to the touch until Enji reached his chest, where the temperature seemed to be neutral.
“Rei’s quirk, ice.” Enji muttered, running his hands all over his son. “You have her ice on this side, and my fire on the other.”
“So...I’m like Mommy and Daddy?” Shoto asked, voice low. He hadn’t heard of a quirk like that before. His mother’s ice quirk was a strong one. She couldn’t fight, but she was all but impervious to being burned. She joked sometimes that was the only reason she was any good at cooking. His siblings certainly didn’t have a mix of powers. In fact, his father had even asked doctors if the combination of his and his wife’s quirks were causing their quirks to be weak, the opposing nature of the powers canceling each other out.
“You are Daddy’s perfect boy,” Enji siad, scooping up his son and holding him close. He wasn’t normally so affectionate, but in that moment all he could focus on was that he had succeeded, finally. He had a child who would carry on his legacy, who would be the ultimate hero.”I am very proud of you.”
Shoto flushed. His father was never so affectionate. In fact, some of the time his father could be downright scary. He was big and had a harsh way of speaking and didn’t smile much. But somehow that just made this moment even better, because it meant it was worth more. He wrapped his tiny arms around his father, wlel as much of his father as he could reach, and squeezed.
They trained for a few more hours. In that time Shoto managed to produce flames a few more times, and once managed to coat his other hand in ice. Each time he succeeded, his father would cheer him on more and more, praising him and showing him new moves. His older siblings were so busy with school and other things, it felt nice to have so much attention for himself. At the end of their training Enji helped Shoto trip out of the training clothes and wiped him down with a damp cloth he warmed in his hands. Then they took a bath together, something Shoto normally only did with his mother or sister.
As they soaked in the water, Shoto shifted over until he was perched on his father’s lap, leaning his head back against the muscled pillow of his fathers pecs. It was nice, Enji could radiate heat into the bathwater, keeping it the perfect temperature for his sore muscles.
“I’ll have your mother make whatever you want for dinner tonight Shoto,” Enji said, carding a hand through his son’s damp hair.
“Soba?” Shoto asked excitedly, turning and smiling brightly. Soba was his favorite food in the world.
Enji nodded and then laughed as Shoto grabbed him by the neck and planted a rather wet kiss on his cheek. “Okay, enough, let’s get dressed.”
Shoto pouted, but allowed himself to be removed from the tub and dressed in his normal clothes. He spent the rest of the afternoon with his father. He was allowed to bring some crayons and paper into the study and lay on the floor and color while his father did paperwork and made phone calls. A lot of the work of being a hero was boring, but he knew his father was only busy because he was one of the best.
At dinner Shoto squirmed in his seat, anxious for the meal to be served so he could give the rest of the family his big news. He remembered it being a big deal when his siblings first showed quirk signs. Some of the other kids in the neighborhood even got cake or presents when theirs appeared.
As his mom served the food, he finally couldn’t wait any longer and simply blurted it out. “I used my quirk today!”
His mother and siblings froze, suddenly going totally silent. His mother’s grip on the serving bowl tightened, little crystalline patterns of frost spreading out from her fingers as the food inside rapidly cooled. Natsuo opened his mouth to say something and the room had gotten so cold, his breath was visible in the air. Fuyumi shivered in her seat.
Enji frowned and took the bowl form his wife, heating his hands with a blast of hellfire to warm the food back up. “It’s good news. Shoto managed to show a lot of potential with his quirk.”
Fuyumi tried to smile. “Good job Shoto.” She reached over and ruffled the white side of Shotos hair. “I’m glad you had a good day.”
Shoto beamed. “It was the best! I made some fire and some ice! I can do both! And I got to practice punches and-” he stumbled over his words, too excited to continue. “It was great!”
Enji gave his youngest a quick smile, and then picked up his chopsticks and took a massive bite of food. It was late in the day bt he had plenty of things he had to do besides sit around all night with his family. A hero's work was never really done.
Natsuo made a frustrated sound in the back of his throat and stood abruptly, his chair scraping across the floorboards loudly. “I-I just-”
Enji looked up from his food. “Sit down.” His tone left little room for argument.
Natsuo shook his head. “I can’t just sit here and smile when you plan on using Shoto like this! He’s my brother and-”
“No! He’s my son!” Enji slammed his hand on the tabletop, the flames of his mustache flaring out in annoyance. “Now, your mother made a meal, sit and eat or leave.”
Rei looked between her husband and son, eyes wide and watery. “Please, can’t we just…” She wrang her hands.
Natsuo shook his head. “No, no we can’t.” He grabbed Shoto by the shoulder and squeezed tightly enough the younger boy flinched. “Don’t buy into his bullshit Shoto.” He huffed a breath out of his noise and turned to leave.
Enji was on his feet so fast his chair toppled to the floor. He grabbed his son by the shirt and lifted him off the ground, pulling him up so they were nose to nose. Natsuo’s feet couldn’t even touch the ground. “Don’t you ever lay a hand on Shoto like that again.” Enji growled. “Got that?”
Nastuo kicked his feet, trying to get his toes on the ground. “Y-yes sir.”
Enji narrowed his eyes, but dropped his son, letting the teen crumple to the ground. “Good.”
The rest of the meal passed quickly and in relative silence. Fuyumi and Rei kept their heads down and ate quietly. Once they were done they hurried to clear the table and escaped into the kitchen, leaving Shoto behind with his father.
Shoto didn’t mind though, he finished his food and then followed his father back to his stud. When they walked past the kitchen, he could hear his mother and sister whispering, but he didn’t stop to listen, just followed after Enji. In the office he crawled into an oversized chair and looked at one of the many hero magazines that his father kept around. Many of them contained pictures of his father in battle, flames swirling around his impressive figure. Shoto fell asleep there in the chair, day dreaming about his own future as a hero as great as Endeavor.
Shoto woke the next morning in his own bed. He could vaguely remember his father lifting him from the chair he had fallen asleep in and carrying him into his bedroom. Enji wasn’t normally the one to take care of Shoto at night, but he had stripped him out of his regular clothes and put him in a comfy t shirt and cotton boxers.
Shoto blinked sleepily and looked up at the window. The sun was up, and it was fully bright outside. He had no idea what time it was, but it seemed late in the morning. Normally his mother came and woke him early so he could be dressed and gotten ready for breakfast with the family. His father liked an early start to the day and expected everyone in the household to follow suit, even on their days off.
He got himself out of bed and did his best to get himself dressed and ready. He couldn’t reach any of the things hanging in the closet, but he took some clothes out of the drawers in his dresser. He pulled out a pair of dark red shorts and a long sleeve white shirt with the word “bunny” printed across the front. He pulled on a pair of high white socks and then went into the bathroom. There was a small stool in the corner he dragged over to the mirror so he could comb his hair and brush his teeth. He squeezed the toothpaste a bit hard and made too many bubbles in his mouth, but he managed well enough. When he was done he left his room and headed out towards the kitchen.
Rei was in the kitchen, alone. She had her head down, and was busy cleaning up after breakfast, a small stack of plates and bowls next to her. Her hair was loose, hanging down around her face so she couldn’t see Shoto behind her, and she was humming tunelessly under her breath. The kettle on the stove was already beginning to whistle weakly.
“Mom! I got up and got dressed by myself!” Shoto pulled on the edge of his mother’s shirt. “Can I have breakfast now so I can go and train after? Father said it was important to keep working on my quirk, and eat plenty of protein, so I want two eggs today!”
Rei turned around, face even paler than usual. There were dark circles under her eyes as though she hadn’t slept at all. She looked down at Shoto and went perfectly still.
“Mom?” Shoto yanked on her shirt again, smile fading. “Mom did you hear me?”
Rein silently reached out and dug her fingers into Shoto’s hair, pushing it out of his face. Her gaze was locked on his forehead. “Oh no. Oh no oh no oh no oh no. No, not this, not him, anything else, but not this...I can’t...He can’t, no, I won’t let him, not my baby, not my son, no no no…” Her grip tightened, her nails digging painfully into the boy’s scalp.
“Ow! Mom!” Shoto yelped in pain and tried to jerk backwards, wanting to get away from his mother. He wasn’t sure what was wrong, but his mother was acting strange, her eyes were unfocused, and her voice sounded tight and high. His stomach twisted up, and all he wanted was to run away. “Let me go! I want to go and find Father!”
Rei cried out at that and pulled roughly on Shoto’s hair, yanking his head back further. “NO! NO NO NO SHOTO! NOT HIM, NO no no no NO!” She reached out with her free hand and grabbed the kettle, which was now whistling it’s shrill whistle at full volume. Shr grabbed it and pressed her thumb down on the handle so the spout opened, stopping the sound. Then, with shaking hands, she upended it onto her son’s face, tears running down her own as she did. “I’m sorry Shoto! I’m so sorry but I had to, I had to, I had to save you!” She screamed as Shoto yelled and thrashed in her grip. The hot water splashed on her own hand, making a crackling sizzling sound as it reacted to her abnormally cold skin.
Shoto wailed in blinding pain as his mother finally released him. He collapsed to the ground and tried to touch his face, but the pain was too much. He opened his mouth and a flood of bile poured out, choking him as he continued to cry. He wanted to dull the pain somehow, but his quirk was too new, he couldn’t cool his skin down at all. It felt like his bones were going to melt. His mother reached out, hands full of ice to try and help, but he pulled away, scared and in so much pain he couldn’t think straight.
“GET AWAY FROM HIM!”
Shoto looked up with his undamaged eye to see his father grab his mother by her shoulder and toss her aside. She hit the wall and collapsed, head hanging down as she continued to cry. “No no, don’t touch him, get away, you can’t, he’s my baby and you can’t, you can’t ruin him, I’m sorry but I had to, you made me…” She sobbed loudly, tears and snot running down her face.
Enji paid no attention to her as he turned his attention to his son. “Shit.” he carefully picked Shoto up, cradling him in one massive arm and quickly pulling out his phone. He pressed and held the button on the home screen to summon an ambulance, and then focused all his attention on his son. He had first aid kits in the house, including salve for burns, but this was beyond anything he could treat at home. He held Shoto close and carefully pushed his hair away from his face. That was when he saw it.
Overnight, Shoto’s soul mark had gone from a vague blur, to a clear name. Now it was half covered by blisters, but Enji could still make it out in the mess of ruined flesh. How could he not, when it was his own name. He glanced at Rei. She was still on the floor, her face buried in her hands, sobbing as she rocked back and forth. Now, he knew why she had done it. She had tried to burn his name off of their child, to purify Shoto of his mark.
“It’s okay Shoto, I’m here, I’m going to take care of you.” Enji carefully pet the uninjured side of Shoto’s face. “I love you Shoto, my perfect boy.” He lifted him and pressed a quick kiss to the crown of his head. If his flames hadn’t been licking his own face, he was sure the tears in his eyes would have fallen. But he didn’t have time to be weak or distracted. He had his boy to take care of. He didn’t look back at his wife as he left the kitchen, just stepped over the puddle of cooling water and headed towards the door. He could hear the sirens in the distance, getting closer. He would get his son the best care possible, and then he would keep him close, and safe, and loved. Forever. His perfect boy. The love of his life.