It was a Sunday, the day the article was published.
Shouto was tired — a perpetual state he was always in. As incredible as UA was, it was also incredibly intense, and the workload and training kept getting tougher and tougher. His whole class cherished their days off dearly, and he was looking forward to staying in bed until at least 11.
Unfortunately, the world had other plans.
Shouto was startled awake by his phone’s incessant buzzing and an insistent knocking on his door. His clock read 9:00.
“It’s me!” Izuku’s voice called out, muffled by the door.
If it had been anyone else (and not an emergency), he probably would have just stayed in bed, but he would do anything for his boyfriend. Shouto rubbed the sleep from his eyes and slumped out of bed. He eyed his phone warily, before deciding to answer the door instead.
His boyfriend was already dressed for the day in a comfortable looking grey hoodie and some black joggers, but he didn’t look fully awake yet. There were bags under his eyes and his hair resembled a bird’s nest.
“Morning! Ah, I’m sorry. I know you like to sleep in on Sundays, but the article is out. It’s been trending on Twitter for thirty minutes! Y’know, breaking news and everything and um, I read it already and so did Iida and Uraraka and Kacchan. Maybe some of the others too, but those three messaged me about it.” Izuku rushed out.
Oh. Okay. He could deal with this; he had been expecting it.
They both sat down on the edge of Shouto’s bed. Izuku’s nervous energy was rubbing off on him, because he couldn’t stop wringing his hands.
His phone buzzed again, but for some reason, Shouto couldn’t bring himself to answer it.
Izuku grabbed the phone instead.
“Okay. From our class, Yaomomo, Iida, and Uraraka have all messaged you. Your sister too. Do you want to read them now or later?”
He didn’t answer for a moment, and then Shouto shrugged and took a deep breath. His brain was foggy and his chest hurt. It probably wasn’t Izuku’s nervous energy at all. “Sorry. I don’t know why I’m being so spacey.”
Izuku looked at him, perplexed. “Shouto, it’s okay. It’s completely understandable. This is… a lot.”
He’s right, it was a lot. The only people at school who knew what was actually going on were Izuku and Aizawa-sensei. While the rest of the class knew by now that Shouto’s relationship with his father was strained, they had no idea the extent of his family’s issues.
And of course, they didn’t know that Dabi was his brother.
So, he was nervous. Anxious. He wasn’t sure how the rest of his friends and peers would react to the news. He had read the article, Hana had sent the final draft to him, Fuyumi, Natsuo, Dabi and his mom, to get feedback and approval before she published it.
There was a lot of news for them to react to, that’s for sure.
It was a tell-all. Every nitty gritty detail of his family life there for the world to read, to dissect.
“I’ll read them now,”
Izuku handed Shouto his phone and kissed him on the cheek.
“Everything’s gonna be okay, Shou.”
“I know.” Did he know? He didn’t think so, but he hoped it would be.
9:01 AM defying gravity: please take care today! i will always have your back and i know the rest of the class will too! you and your family are so strong, if there’s anything you need please let me know!
8:54 AM Iida Tenya: I would like you to know that if you ever need to talk, you can come to me. You’re one of my closest friends and I care about you a lot. It brings me great sadness that you were suffering and I was completely unaware. I hope you know that I’m here for you, always.
His heart felt funny in his chest. He didn’t think he could respond to any of them yet, but he would thank them soon. It was still a strange sensation, the fact that he had friends that cared about his well being, that liked him, that wanted to be there for him. It was nice.
8:52 AM momo: morning, shouto. i just saw the article. i wanted to let you know that if there’s anything i can do, or my family can do to help… anything at all, please don’t hesitate to ask.
The rest of the texts were from his sister, and he couldn’t avoid answering those for too long. She worried, and she was probably feeling similar to him right now.
The first message was from an hour ago, and the latest had been sent just ten minutes ago. He typed out a response.
8:00 AM best big sis ever!!!: it’s out. please message or call if you need to talk! i think i’m going to visit d and hawks w natsuo later today, before going to to see mom. if you want me to pick you up, let me know!
8:24 AM best big sis ever!!!: i just finished reading it again. to be honest i’m a bit nervous. how do you think people will take it?
8:55 AM best big sis ever!!!: okay don’t watch channel 7 news whatever you do!
“Fuyumi said to avoid Channel 7 news. And just all news and social media in general.” Shouto frowned down at his phone.
9:05 AM Me:morning yumi. i’d really like to visit them, so text me when you get here later. idk how ppl will take it … i’m nervous too. what’s channel 7 saying?
9:06 AM best big sister ever!!!: they’re taking a pro-endeavor stance. rumi almost threw the remote at the tv. it’s… not good. i would just try not to watch any news and stay off social media for now. take care of yourself pls!
9:06 AM Me: okay, that’s probably a good idea. thanks. love you
9:07 AM best big sister ever!!!: love you too! i’ll see you later ❤️
“It’s probably for the best.” Izuku said.
“Yeah. I don’t think I want to know what people have to say yet...”
They sat in silence for a few minutes, Izuku idly playing with Shouto’s fingers in his lap as Shouto focused on his breathing.
He had said he was ready, over and over again, when the idea was first brought up, when Hana had triple checked, when Aizawa had questioned. In a way, that was the truth. He was ready for justice, ready for the world to see what a monster his father had been, ready to move forward.
But it was also a lie.
The niggling fear that nobody would believe them, believe him, that they would scoff and sneer and laugh incredulously at the mere suggestion that Endeavor could have abused his family, still persisted. The fear that his father would win, would convince everyone that his crazy children and his crazier wife were lying, persisted.
He knew it had to be done, though. That this needed to happen for anything to really change. That Touya’s identity would be a slap to the face to the world, that it would — hopefully — make them think and consider the accusations seriously.
This article would change everything.
Maybe he wasn’t fully ready, but that didn’t matter. It needed to be done, and he was okay.
He would be okay.
Izuku squeezed his hand. “Do you want me to tell the class to leave you alone for today?”
Shouto thought for a moment. A few months ago, he might have said yes, that he simply wanted to be alone, but he found more and more that in times of emotional stress, he felt better if he was surrounded by people he trusted. If he isolated himself too much, he tended to spiral.
Even though he was scared about how his classmates might perceive him now, he wanted to be with them.
“No. I… I’ll come down and we can all just go on with our Sunday as usual. I’ll be fine,” he gave Izuku a small smile. “I’m gonna get dressed,”
“Okay. Oh, you’ll actually be able to eat breakfast with us today! Kacchan’s making pancakes.”
There were a few of his classmate’s who liked to get an earlier start on the weekend, to fully take advantage of the days off. Izuku, Iida, Uraraka, Momo and Bakugou usually got up at around 8:00 (which was absolutely insane to Shouto, it was Sunday) and they ate breakfast together every week. The only reason Shouto knew this was because Izuku had mentioned it a couple times (he often talked about how he and Bakugou were working on their relationship, and he’d mentioned conversations they’d had as they made breakfast together on more than one occasion). The rest of the class usually surfaced between 9 and 11. Though, Shouto, Kaminari, Ashido and Jirou had been known to slump down to the common room as late as noon sometimes.
Shouto’s eyes widened slightly as he pulled on a pair of joggers. “Japanese style?” He loved fluffy pancakes. He loved fluffy pancakes a lot, but they weren’t an everyday breakfast food by a long shot. They weren’t easy to make, either.
“Is there a special occasion I don’t know about?”
Izuku bit his lip and sighed. “Well. Kacchan might have asked me what some of your favourite foods were. You know he’s not great with words, so I think he wanted to make you something to help you feel better. He was going to save some for you to eat whenever you came down.” Izuku explained. “Don’t tell him I said anything!”
Shouto zipped up his hoodie and looked down at the floor, a smile twitching at his lips. Bakugou and him had bonded over the provisional license remedial course, and had somewhat of a tentative friendship going. Shouto never would’ve thought they’d be anything close to friends at the beginning of the year, but Bakugou was changing. He was still temperamental and loud, but he was… Kind, sometimes, in his own Bakugou way.
Ten minutes later, Shouto was seated at the kitchen table with Izuku. Bakugou was just finishing up the batch of pancakes, and everyone was eagerly awaiting the meal (everyone meaning Uraraka, Iida, Momo and Bakugou).
They had all greeted him with smiles and a kind chorus of “good mornings”, except for Bakugou, who barely even glanced his way and had grunted and nodded his head in Shouto’s direction. The five of them seated at the table talked amongst themselves as Bakugou finished cooking, and nobody brought up the article. They all seemed to get the memo that he didn’t want to discuss it, and for that he was grateful.
“Okay losers, you better fuckin’ enjoy this.” Bakugou said, placing a platter of soufflé pancakes in the center of the table before taking a seat. He had even artfully places sliced strawberries around the perimeter of the platter. Everyone thanked him for the food and began to serve themselves.
Shouto was sandwiched between Bakugou and Izuku and directly across from Momo. Izuku was engaged in an intense discussion with Iida and Momo regarding the history essay that was due on Tuesday, and Uraraka was begging Bakugou for cooking lessons.
Shouto let the familiar sound of his friend’s conversation envelop him as he ate his food (which was really, really good).
“Um,” he blurted, and felt their attention swivel to him.
“Thank you.” He said, looking down at his plate. “For the messages. I… I really appreciate it. And for the food, Bakugou. It was good.”
“Of course it was good,” Bakugou grumbled, but his tone was softer than usual. “You’re welcome, Icy Hot.”
“We’re all here for you, Shouto-kun.” Uraraka said, smiling at him softly from across the table. Her eyes looked suspiciously wet.
“We just want to support you however we can,” Momo added.
“That’s what friends do! It’s our duty to be there for you, because we care about you.” Iida said firmly.
He couldn’t bring himself to say anything more, so he just nodded at the table and swallowed past the lump in his throat. What did he do to deserve such good friends?
Eventually, it was just Bakugou and Izuku in the kitchen with him. The other three had gone to shower off; they’d all been jogging before breakfast.
The kitchen was quiet except for the sounds of washing up. Izuku and Bakugou were both at the sink, and while they normally would be bickering, they were quiet today.
Kirishima had popped into the kitchen to kiss Bakugou good morning, and a few others had come in to make quick stops in the kitchen to grab bowls of cereal to take to eat in the common room. The dorms were waking up, coming to life. He could hear laughter filtering in from the common room and what sounded like an action anime on TV.
“I overheard.” Bakugou said abruptly. Shouto’s eyes flicked to him. He was scrubbing a mixing bowl very roughly.
“What? What do you mean?” Shouto asked.
“At the sports festival. I overheard what you said to Izuku.”
Izuku stilled beside him and rested the drying towel on the counter.
“Oh.” Shouto said dumbly. “Okay.”
Bakugou sighed harshly and turned around to face Shouto.
“I didn’t say shit ‘cause I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t care at first, to be honest. That’s changed.”
“Why bother telling us now?” Izuku asked.
“I dunno. Just didn’t feel right to keep keeping it to myself.” He shrugged. “So… I knew about that shit, about your asshole of a father, but I didn’t know about —” he paused and looked up at the ceiling, scowling deeply. “I didn’t know about your brother. Obviously.”
Dabi. Touya. Touya, Dabi. His brother. Who kidnapped Bakugou.
He had been trying not to think about it too much.
“Are you mad?” Shouto asked carefully.
“I’m fucking pissed at Endeavor. And Dabi, for being a fuckhead. Not at you.”
Shouto didn’t really know what to say. “I’m sorry,”
“Don’t apologize, dumbass. Not your fault your brother kidnapped me.” Bakugou snapped.
A heavy silence fell over the room.
“I’m on your side.” Bakugou muttered. “But I think Dabi’s sentence is bullshit.”
Bakugou turned back around and resumed his scrubbing. Izuku resumed his drying.
“Your old man deserves to rot, though,”
Shouto smiled sharply. “That we can definitely agree on.”
“— is under fire for abuse allegations coming from his family. What do you make of this situation, Kimigawa-san?”
“I think it’s ludicrous. Endeavor is a hard-working and respectable hero. He’s saved countless lives, and continues to do great work every day. This whole thing is being blown out of proportion. He said himself that the only time that he might ever have hurt his sons was in training. I believe him.”
“You sound like an Endeavor fan.”
“Well, I admit, I have always liked him.”
“Same here. He has denied everything, and explained that his wife is severely mentally ill. He insinuated that she’s delusional and his kids are going along with her.”
“Alright, but what about Todoroki Touya? Kimigawa, Yamaguchi, as much as I don’t want to believe it, if Endeavor is as good a parent as he is a hero, there’s no way one of his children could end up a villain. I think there’s some weight to these claims —”
“Change the channel!”
“If you were paying attention you would know why!”
“What? Oh. Oh shit.”
Shouto was frozen in place where he stood at the entrance to the common room. He vaguely registered Kirishima’s voice from beside him, and Kaminari quickly grabbing the remote from the coffee table and changing the channel.
His chest was on fire and his breaths were hitching. Training. It was only training, he was just pathetic and weak. Too weak to handle it.
(A backhanded slap to the face. “What did I say last time about vomiting on the training mats?” His father was furious.
“N-not to do it again. I’m sorry.”
He was only eight. His stomach was churning, his lungs were burning, and his face was stinging. He felt like he would never feel okay again.
“Now get up! We’re not finished. You’re clearly still too weak.”
He stood on shaky legs and felt nausea ripple through him as he took his fighting stance. He was fighting back tears. If he cried, his father would definitely hit him again. He just needed to get stronger.
He missed his mom.)
“Breathe in. Good, now exhale. Breathe in, hold. Exhale. That’s it. Okay, Todoroki-kun. You’re good. It’s all good. Keep breathing,”
He blinked sluggishly and took a shuddering breath. There was a warm hand on his shoulder, and he was sitting down. It took him a moment to catch his bearings. He was seated in the main couch in the common room, and Kirishima was next to him. Kaminari, Ashido and Jirou stood in a semicircle around them.
“Sorry,” he muttered.
“No, I’m sorry! I should’ve been more careful.” Kaminari said, looking guilty.
“Are you alright? Do you want some water or something? Midoriya is on his way.” Kirishima said, hand still pressing down on Shouto’s shoulder. It was grounding, comforting.
It was early afternoon, and Izuku had gone to work out with Bakugou and Uraraka. Shouto usually tagged along, but he hadn’t been in the mood. He’d wanted to relax and read his book.
“I’m fine. Why aren’t you with them?” Shouto said, closing his eyes. He was embarrassed, and a hot pool of shame settled in his gut. His therapist told him that he shouldn’t feel shame for his panic attacks, that many others struggled with them as well, but it was still embarrassing.
(He was so weak.)
He could imagine the worried gazes of his friends, and he felt guilty for burdening them with this. He curled his hands into fists and kept trying to steady his breathing.
“I decided to work in this history paper instead.” Kirishima explained. “Hey, it’s okay. You know that was all complete bull, right? Those guys were assholes.”
“I can’t believe their nerve.” Jirou hissed.
“If Bakugou was here, he would have blown up the TV.” Ashido said (kind of sounding like she wished it had indeed happened).
Shouto opened his eyes. “Would you have stopped him?”
All four of them said no.
He smiled, a tight small thing, and shook his head, hoping that would clear the last of the fog that coated his brain. “Thanks,” he told Kirishima.
“It’s no problem at all, man.”
An angry and unmistakable voice filtered into the common room.
“Those motherfuckers! The media are such goddamn tools. I swear if I have to hear that kinda shit again I will hunt them the fuck down!”
“I couldn’t agree more, Bakugou-kun,” Uraraka chirped venomously, in that way that only she could pull off.
“Shouto, are you okay?” Izuku said as the three of them walked into the common room.
“I’m okay,” he said, and he really was feeling a bit better. He felt even better still, when Izuku sat next to him on the couch. “So. Fuyumi was right about Channel 7, huh?”
Izuku laughed shakily. “Oh, definitely. It was on in the gym. Bakugou blew up the TV.”
“Yeah I fuckin’ did.”
Shouto smiled and tried not to laugh as Ashido let out a cheer.
He rested his head onto Izuku’s shoulder and wrapped his arms around his waist, soaking in his warmth.
The others took that as their sign to go on and do whatever it was they were doing, and Izuku and Shouto had the couch to themselves.
“Are you sure you’re okay?”
“Yeah. It just… took me by surprise.”
The reporters had been wrong, he knew. But hearing them say exactly what he feared had been like a punch to the gut.
“Most people are showing their support, you know. Most people believe you.” Izuku whispered, carding a hand through Shouto’s hair. “All of us believe you,”
Shouto just nodded and curled up into his boyfriend’s side more.
“Why did Bakugou and Uraraka come with you?” Shouto asked after a moment.
“They wanted to make sure you were okay,” Izuku said.
He felt a rush of contentment, of affection, for his friends. They had all been through a lot together, so most of them had bonded quickly. Shouto had still felt disconnected and awkward around most of his peers, though, until the dorms were implemented. He knew he came across as cold and distant, that he wasn’t great at keeping a conversation going, that he was clueless when it came to social interactions and how to form friendships, and it had been hard. There were times when he felt stupid and awkward and completely abnormal, all thanks to the way he had been raised.
Izuku had helped him. So, so much. After the Sports Festival, he’d made sure Shouto ate lunch with him, Iida, Uraraka and Tsuyu every single day. Made an effort to text him outside of school hours, made an effort to try and get to know him better, to bring him out of his shell. Izuku was a great friend (and now, he was an incredible boyfriend) all bright smiles and cheerful disposition and kindness and determination.
He had helped.
The dorms, though, had been the catalyst that truly brought Shouto closer to his other peers. Iida and Momo had implemented movie nights and game nights, so the class as a whole could bond. They weren’t strictly mandatory, and Shouto had been hesitant to go at first, but Izuku had pulled him along with a smile.
By that point, most of the class realized that Shouto wasn’t actually mean or cold at all. He was just very, very awkward.
After the first two months in the dorms, he could safely say that he was friendly with every single classmate, and he was close friends with a good group. They knew a lot about him, and knew how he ticked, and he knew them as well.
Now, they knew everything — well, if they’d all been on their phones at all that day — and everyone he’d seen so far had treated him with their usual kindness, their usual familiarity.
He couldn’t have asked for better friends and classmates, and Shouto felt a lot better knowing that they all supported him.
When he returned to the dorms that evening, he had about ten minutes to spare until curfew. He had visited Hawks and Dabi with Fuyumi, and then he and his sister picked up Natsuo to head to the hospital to see their mom. They spent a couple hours visiting and eating with her. It was nice (and just what he’d needed really), but time had gotten away from them.
The common room was quiet when he shuffled in from the cold, but someone was there to greet him.
Ever since Dabi’s identity was revealed and his father’s abuse exposed to the teachers of UA, Aizawa had been even more protective than usual. He always made sure Shouto knew he was in his corner, and he was working hard with Hawks to make sure his father faced consequences for his actions.
Now he sat on the couch closest to the door, a pile of papers in his lap and a pen in his hand. His head had whipped up as soon as Shouto had opened the door.
Aizawa raised a brow. “Cutting it close, kid.”
“Sorry, sensei. I was with my mother.” Shouto said, shrugging out of his coat.
“I know, it’s fine. You could’ve stayed with Fuyumi tonight, if you asked.” Aizawa said, and then he set his papers aside on the coffee table. “Come and sit for a minute.”
Shouto complied, and sat next to his teacher on the couch. Aizawa’s gaze was soft, concerned, and he very rarely displayed this side of himself to his students. Shouto had been on the receiving end of his kindness quite a few times in the past weeks, and he would be lying if he said it hadn’t unsettled him at first, but he was used to it now, and found Aizawa’s care comforting.
“How are you holding up?”
Shouto’s chest warmed at the words. He was… okay. Honestly, truly, okay. The support from his classmates, and spending time with his family, had been good for him, he thinks. He still felt anxious, he was still a bit upset about what those reporters had said, but those feelings weren’t overwhelming him. He was coping. He was surrounded by support, and although he couldn’t say with any certainty what the near future would bring, he knew that he would face it all and be alright.
“I’m fine,” he said. It was a phrase he used a lot, usually when he wasn’t fine at all, and Aizawa knew this. Before he could call him out on it, Shouto continued. “Really, sensei. I’m… okay. Thank you for asking.”
Aizawa nodded once, but the worry didn’t fade from his eyes. “If you need the day off tomorrow, if you want to rest or see your family again, you have my permission.”
“Thank you, but I think I’d like to go to class, actually.” As tiring as school was, he still loved it, and he was excited for their upcoming hero training.
His teacher looked him over once more, gaze carefully assessing, and then smiled crookedly. “Alright. Still, if you need anything, let me know.”
“I will,” Shouto said, and he meant it.