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look at you, strawberry blond

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☆☆☆

Love, for Todoroki Shouto, starts with a storm.

He didn't know it at the time. Kaminari hadn’t known it either, that him trailing after a stranger to warn them his quirk is hinting at a bad storm—he should consider staying inside—would be their prelude to something they might one day call love.

 

Shouto walks with no destination in mind.

He had walked out of the 3A dorm building, flouncing about wanting some space, some fresh air after being told the news of them not being allowed to leave the school grounds this weekend.

It’s a cold night. The wind nips at his exposed skin, and for a second he thinks about just going back and locking himself up in his dorm room until the sun breaks again. But, the annoyance hasn’t yet died down enough for that.

Shouto gnaws on his bottom lip, using his quirk to warm himself up as he carried on walking.

He’s meant to be leaving the dorms early Saturday morning and come back in time for classes on Monday morning. It wouldn’t be an issue if it weren’t for the fact that his the hospital has given permission for his mother to stay out of the hospital over the weekend.

He’s going to miss it, he thinks, gnawing at his lip roughier. He’s going to miss seeing his mother anywhere but between four white walls after ten years, because of some villains. Of course, it’d be him out of Fuyumi and Natsuo to miss it.

Shouto’s family relationships are already a tentative, uncertain thing, hanging by the thread over falling apart or rekindling. He doesn’t want to be the one to snap it, again, he thinks.

By the time he pulls himself out of his thoughts and blinks, looking around to work out how far he’s walked from the dorm buildings, he realises he’s in the courtyard located between the first and second year dorm buildings.

The wind is picking up again but he ignores it and silently heads towards the next bench he can see. It’s tucked away along the path, but not too far that the lights in the middle of the courtyard don’t reach it.

“Hey,” a voice calls from somewhere to the right of him. It doesn’t sound like a teacher — more someone around his age, another student, maybe and so he keeps silent. He manages to reach the bench before the voice picks up again. “You really shouldn’t be outside right now, dude.”

“Huh?”

“It’s going to start raining soon and it’s probably gonna be thunder and lightning.”

“Oh.” Shouto shrugs, he doesn’t feel adept enough to ask how he knows.“It’s fine.”

Skeptical eyes catch his as he dares to glance in his direction, “I think you’ll regret saying that but alright, man,”

“It’s fine,” Shouto says again, firmer this time. But he instantly feels some shame settle in the pit of his stomach, the other is just trying to help him, he thinks wincing.

It makes it worse that Shouto knows who he is when they walk closer to where he’s tucked into the corner of the bench. It’s kind of hard not to know who he is when his name has been thrown around conversations on who’ll be apart of the next big three when they graduate.

Kaminari Denki. The name rolls around his mind a few times.

Without saying another word Shouto slides along the bench to allow Kaminari space to sit down if he wished to.

He does sit, after a lob-sided sort of smile, but all the way on the opposite end of the bench. Shouto pretends that it doesn’t bother him. He should appreciate the fact he has the space he originally came outside for, he tells himself when Kaminari pushes himself further into the corner.

“I don’t know if you’ve seen me in the sports festivals but I’m Kaminari Denki!” he introduces himself, and Shouto tries to not to watch the static that rolls over his shoulders as the first pelts of rain discolour the wood of the bench.

“I have,” Shouto says, and stops, and then continues. “I know who you are.”

“I don’t know why but I feel like I should thank you for that.” says Kaminari, a laugh following shortly after.

There is a shakiness to the other boys' breath when his laughter dies down to match the silence of the rest of the courtyard. His voice is strained, raw, like he’s struggling to get the words out. Shouto glances in his direction and then at the drifting clouds.

“What were you doing outside before—” Shouto coughs as his eyes shift between where Kaminari sits on the other end of the bench and where he’s sitting. “Before you came to warn me?”

“Oh, man, don’t even ask.” he sighs. “I’ve been reading tons of books about electricity and things related to my quirk to help me, well, some of my classmates think it will help but my brain is about to explode.”

“You’re—” already strong, he wants to say, but decides at the last second that he wouldn’t know what to say after that. “Not bad?”

“Wow…” Kaminari drags out, eyes widening, and for a second Shouto wants to take back his words and just stay quiet. But before he can, Kaminari chuckles, gives him a playful eye roll and continues, “What a half hearted compliment from a senpai like you, my pride is a little wounded.”

He’s joking, Shouto tells himself when the guilt begins to trickle back in. He’s joking, he tells himself when Kaminari slides out of his corner of the bench and into the middle, close enough for Shouto to feel the unsettled humming of energy coiling around him.

He doesn’t point it out, and Kaminari doesn’t move.

Shouto clears his throat, “You’re joking?” he asks, just to be safe and lets out a soft hum of acknowledgement and relief when Kaminari nods easily. Shouto swallows and tries to feel better about not actually — wounding his pride, as he said — as he says, “And can you please not call me that?”

Kaminari frowns, confusions obvious over his features. “What?”

“Please, if you would.”

“Right...of course, no problem!” Kaminari knocks his knee into Shouto’s. “Todoroki, then?”

Shouto considers this for a second, before nodding slowly.“Yeah, um, I’ll just call you Kaminari, if we ever talk again.”

Despite the cold, Shouto’s palms are growing clammy. There’s a hitch in his heartbeat that he can’t quite understand the cause of.

“Great!” Kaminari says, unfazed. “But most people just call me Kami.”

Kami. He doesn’t mind it, maybe. But, he feels like he shouldn’t be using nicknames for someone he’s only just met.

And, yet, he says: “Can I call you that?”

Because apparently what he wants to say and what he actually says are going to be two different things.

Kaminari’s lips twitch, and he looks far too happy when he winks at Shouto. “You can call me anything you want.”

Shouto averts his eyes, kicking at the leaves on the floor.

“Oh...well,” He says in the absence of anything else to say, his words lost and his mind misinterpreting. “Kaminari for now, but, Kami, maybe.”

It feels nice, natural on his tongue.

He doesn’t say that aloud.

“Maybe? I’ll take it!” is Kaminari rely, another wink and another smile and he’s about to ask him why he keeps winking when a drop of rain lands on his cheek, and then another and another and then it’s getting heavier as it starts to bounce off the floor.

The longer Kaminari stays, the less sane Shouto feels until finally, he holds up on biting his tongue and says, “Thank you for coming after me, but we should really get inside now,”

“Really, because I—” Kaminari pauses in his next kick and glances towards Shouto. “No problem, anytime!”

Shouto gives him a final curt nod. He tries to offer his thanks to Kaminari one more time, but by the time he catches the movement in the corner of his eye Kaminari has already walked away in the direction of the second year dorms.

“Todoroki!”

It’s not often that Shouto stops for anyone on his morning runs, he purposefully kicks up the pace when Bakugou or Midoriya joins him, avoids running into Iida on days they haven’t planned it and silently skirts around younger students. It’s not that he doesn’t appreciate Iida as a friend, but he’s happy to miss out on his intensity as a running partner.

But, without a second thought, or without even a first thought his body turns instinctively towards the voice. And then he’s slowing down, to a walk in the direction of a smiling Kaminari standing idle in the middle of the rain, backpack over the front of his chest again, and Shouto can see the corner of more books.

He feels abit stupid, strange may be a better word, about the fact that they don’t really know each other.

Still.

“Hey! What are you doing running in the rain?” Kaminari levels, smile still on his face as he slips the hand not holding onto his umbrella around Shouto’s elbow and tugs him towards him, umbrella now tipped forward over them both. “You’re gonna get ill.”

It’s a cold morning, but not the kind that leaves him red cheeked or numbed, but the kind of cold that soothes against the left side of his body—makes it bearable just for a second. Shouto had wanted more fresh air again, and the last dwelling remnants of the storm hadn’t deterred that.

“I was just getting some fresh air,” Shouto says, and although Kaminari still has a pinch in his eyebrows he smiles. It’s straight at Shouto, just for him, like he gets it. And, he probably does with what his quirk is.

While there isn’t anybody hovering around in the courtyard, not while the rain is bouncing off the floor around them and with more truthfulness than he intends, he says. “It’s calming, I’ve been thinking about being in my third year,”

“Oh, am I interrupting? I’m so sorry, dude!” Kaminari stumbles, laugh catching in his throat as his cheeks redden slightly. “And, you should be excited about it being your last year! You get to do even more hero things after this, that’s a hundred times better than having to study.

Kaminari’s hand is shaking where it grips the umbrellas handle. It’s a stray observation, but one that leaves him feeling guilty for keeping him hung up in the cold, while he has the ability to keep them both warm.

Shouto covers Kaminari’s hand with his left one, warmth simmering under his skin. “Here, let me hold it, you’re cold.”

“I’m good.” Kaminari insists, waving his free hand around in front of him, dismissing Shouto’s worry.

“You’re not. Just let me hold it.” Shouto starts, pulling the handle out of Kaminari’s hand. Kaminari tugs his bottom lip between his teeth as he does, moving to pull at the handles of his backpack.

Shouto speaks when Kaminari doesn’t, the umbrella covering the both of them again. “It seems we only meet when it’s bad weather.”

Kaminari chuckles at that. “Bad luck bros!”

“Hmm,” Shouto hums in agreement. Then, as they start to walk in the direction of the dorm buildings, he swallows around the works stuck in his throat. “I’ll walk you back, if it’s okay with you...”

It comes out awkward, he can tell that much.

But Kaminari doesn’t seem to care. “Sure! actually, this way I’ll know you aren't being insane and running round in the rain—”

“It’s not a big deal.” Shouto cuts him off, unready to hear this conversation. “I only like to do it sometimes.”

Kaminari tries to whisper under his breath, or maybe it’s just a stay observation Shouto isn’t really mean to hear when he whispers, “Seriously, you pretty boy types are on a different level.” because then, he continues louder, “I could walk you to yours if that’s easier for you.”

Shouto shrugs. “Maybe, but I don’t have an umbrella and you do.”

“Ah!” Kaminari says loftily, and Shouto can’t quite catch the slight cough before it comes out, “What would you do without me then?”

Shouto pauses, then continues, “Get wet in the rain?”

Kaminari nudges his elbow against Shouto, winking once as he does, “Exactly, I guess i’ll just have to keep coming to your rescue when you need me.”

“I guess so,” Shouto hums, heart beating a little bit faster in his chest for a reason he doesn’t know. He catches the smile trying to show on his lips before Kaminari can and strains it back into a thin line.

They fall into silence after that and their steps fall in tandem with each other.

It’s embarrassing, and if Shouto’s being honest with himself, a bit lame too. They barely know each other, and the only two interactions they’ve had Shouto has been a mess. He’s been mostly a mess lately, in general.

“I walked past the gym while you and your friend were sparing — you have good reflexes.” Shouto scrunches his nose, it still feels weird talking about the skills of those that aren’t in his class or that aren’t already pro heroes they’re meant to be learning from. But, he continues grasping for a new topic.

He’s still learning. His friends always seem to be much better at this sort of thing than him.

Kaminari snorts loudly.“Is this you trying to make up for the half-hearted compliment you gave me the other day?”

Distracted from laughing, Shouto slips a hand around Kaminari’s wrist and pulls him around the puddle formed in the middle of the pathway, knocking Kaminari into his side. Kaminari steps on his foot as he tries to steady himself again, peering up at him apologetically when Shouto winces.

Shouto steps back when he realises how close they are, dropping his hand from Kaminari’s wrist as he goes. But Kaminari is quick to follow him in his step and grasp his wrist with gentle hold.

Kaminari averts his eyes. “There’s a puddle.”

Shouto wrinkles his nose, looking behind him quickly to see the big puddle that’s accumulated in the misshapen dip of the path. “Thank you,” he says, scratching the back of his neck when Kaminari pulls his hand away and into his chest.

“About before...not really, I mean it.” Shouto offers with uncertainty as Kaminari looks a mix between flustered and amused. It’s not that he doesn’t mean it, it’s just, he doesn’t know how to tell him without sounding like the words are being forced out. “You were quick to react whenever he reached out for you, and the way he uses his tape would make it harder for anyone to move around as freely as you did. You’re good.”

“Thanks, man,” he replies, sounding like he doesn’t believe anything Shouto is saying about him is true and reaching to knock his hair away from his eye.

Okay, Shouto really needs to stop being a mess lately because when Kaminari loosely runs his hand through his slightly damped hair, his breath catches in the back of his throat. Nothing is normal about the way Shouto wants to card his fingers through Kaminari’s hair when they barely know each other.

But still, the motion makes Shouto draw in a breath, suddenly aware of the raindrops running over Kaminari’s lips. It’s another stray observation, one he isn’t sure he should be making in the first place.

When he doesn’t say anything in reply, Kaminari speaks again, “Sorry for acting dumb the other day as well.”

Not dumb, Shouto thinks. He was the only reason he went back to the dorm as soon as he did. “You were, fine, helpful.”

They’re close to the 2A dorm building now, Shouto sighs, then clears his throat, making Kaminari look up at him curiously.

“This is yours,” he says, letting Kaminari take the umbrella again and letting go when he knows he’s holding onto it properly. He steps back from underneath it and tries to shiver from the new feeling of rain against his skin.“You can take it back now. I’ll be fine.”

Kaminari’s eyes widen slightly, head shaking as he tries to tip the umbrella back over Shouto’s head. “No, no, you can—”

He manages to avoid it, “It’s fine, really.” Shouto says, starting to put some distance between him and Kaminari.

He doesn’t turn back to make sure Kaminari walks into the dorms. One, because he’s cold and two, because he’s a little dumb.

“Oh, Todoroki!” he hears Yaoyorozu saying when he walks into the classroom the next day, nose slightly stuffy and a headache sitting heavy at the front of his head. “Someone left something for you on your desk.”

He’s convinced the cold has developed into a fever when he finds a canned coffee and a bag of sweets, and a brand new umbrella — the packaging still wrapped around it — on his desk.

There’s a post-it note too, it’s small and has a little Pikachu in the bottom left corner that reads: ‘from your not so hero’ with a winking face at the end.

In the end, so that he won’t have to share them with anyone — and so they don’t ask about the redness of his cheeks — Shouto hides them in his bag while his classmates' backs are turned.

Shouto and Kaminari fall into a pattern shortly after that, and with them so does class 3A and class 2A much to the teachers' amusement and annoyance when they have to sweep each of the dorms to make sure everyone is in their representative dorm buildings.

It’s simple, and nice, and it eases the pressures of the third year to have meeting up with Kaminari — each weekend he doesn’t have internships under his father — to look forward to.

It isn’t what Shouto was expecting of his last days in high school, but it’s what he’s left with until the inevitable happens.

And sure enough, graduation comes as inevitably as autumn rolls into spring.

Though the school has taken weeks to put together graduation parties, he’s still mentally and emotionally unprepared to say goodbye to the place he was finally able to live as himself, rather than a weapon for his father. If he were to be honest with himself, he still feels somewhat detached from the entire scene.

He wipes his sweaty palms on his graduation gown for the nth time today.

He is graduating, the tears building up in the corner of Natsuo’s eyes and the papers with his name on in his hand are telling him that it’s all real. But it doesn’t feel real, not at all. He’s going to be a hero, and in some ways, he’s been one for at least two years now.

In this specific moment, thinks Shouto, this time and place, he’s hardly fit to be a character in any kind of hero story. But, it’s happening one way or another, the next chapter of his life is starting, as they say. He’s made it and if he can be the hero in even one person’s story. He’ll more than be satisfied with that.

Natsuo smiles, finally whipping at the corners of his eyes.“I don’t even believe you’ve started junior high.”

Shouto raises one of his eyebrows. “What? I’m not a child anymore.”

“You’ll always be our little baby brother though!” Natsuo tuts, waving the camera he’d brought along to document everything around in the air. “Just because you graduated now doesn’t mean you’re a big adult, you still barely know how to cook without calling one of us”

Shouto restrains himself from huffing out a ‘I can cook some things fine on my own.’ and instead settles for airily laughing along with his family as they all fail to hold back their amusement from Natsuo’s only half at the truest call out.

When they’ve all finally regained their composure, Shouto gives Natsuo a flat look. “You’re the worst.”

“Awww,” he reaches over to roughly throw an arm over his shoulders, “Don’t be like that.”

He’s laughing properly now, and it’s easy to around his family despite the disconnect from the scene throughout the entire ceremony. Shouto starts to settle into the fact he’s growing up, he’s going to have his own apartment, even if it’s a shared one with Midoriya and Bakugou for convenience.

But then, his mother’s voice picks up to say:

“Touya would be proud of you too.”

That catches Shouto’s attention.

She says it in a soft firm voice, and leaves no room for any disagreement. Touya would be proud of him, she says, as if she knows, and he feels it shake through his heart. For the second, he’s frozen in place: hand midway from knocking Natsuo’s arm off his shoulders and his mouth stuck between a smile and a wince.

When his body finally catches up with the moment again his hand drops back down to his side, his grip tight around the heroics graduation certificate and he exhales. Then, he inhales sharply, blinking back the sudden pressure behind his eyes and regains his composure.

“Yeah. Okay,” he says, because he’s not sure what else he can say. And it must be sufficient enough because his mother smiles at him, soft around the edges and for a second Shouto convinces himself that it doesn’t feel like ten years between them were lost.

Fuyumi speaks first to avoid them slipping into silence. “Are you going to greet your friends as well?”

“Oh,” he mutters, turning to look around the field of people. “I don’t know where they are.”

But then, there are hands on his shoulders and a loud, “We’ll stay right here, so come find us after talking to them!” from Fuyumi and he’s being pushed forward in the direction of who he guesses either Midoiya or Bakugou.

It’s only after walking for a few minutes, nudging his way through crowds of people he vaguely recalls the faces off and people he doesn’t know at all, does he spot Yaoyorozu and Bakugou.

His lips tug at the corners into the briefest smile when he’s close enough to watch Bakugou restraining himself from rolling his eyes as his parents both fuss around him over retaking a better picture in more flattering lighting.

Everybody begins to breathe easier, laughing and mingling as the excitement of their futures starts settling easily over the last three years of work they’ve all put into becoming a hero. It’s not like they haven’t imagined this day for weeks, months and maybe even years.

In the distance, behind them, he can see Kaminari smile — the kind that Shouto knows many people would consider pretty, he doesn’t really know goes into a smile to make it pretty or ugly but he does know that like most things about Kaminari, there is something incredibly honest about the way it shifts his expression to vibrant and free.

Within the next few seconds, Shouto is moving through the crowd of classmates, and classmates families and friends, mumbling out ‘thank you’s’ and ‘congratulations’ where he's meant to until he’s standing in front of Kaminari. And only then does he notice the flowers in his arms.

Shouto is slow to speak. He’s slow to do anything but flit his eyes over Kaminari’s face and the flowers resting in his arms. They’re pretty, he thinks.

They’re pretty, he thinks again.

Pretty, the word seems to fit so easily in his vocabulary whenever he’s thinking about Kaminari.

He’s pretty, he thinks and the words get lost in between his mind and the connection to his mouth

Kaminari stares for a moment, then breaks into a smile that crinkles the apple of his cheeks as he offers the bouquet over to him. "Congrats!"

Shouto pointedly looks down at the flowers again, cheeks warming. "Thank you."

“These are for you!” Kaminari follows his words with a nervous chuckle, to hide his wavering voice, or his embarrassment, probably, Shouto thinks.

A smile tugs at his lips, and he lets it, welcomes it even — one of the rare ones, Kaminari had described it as all bright once, had told him his cheeks squish and the different colours of his eyes catch the rays of sunshine. Shouto’s heart had never nearly given up on itself so fast.

Kaminari smiles back, gently pushing the flowers into Shouto’s arms.

He has to avert his eyes in an attempt to ignore the starting prick of stinging in the corners. “Are you going to keep studying even when I’m not here?”

“I can’t promise you anything,” Kaminari laughs with his head thrown back, and it lets the sun make the dry tear tracks running over his cheeks too obvious for Shouto to pretend he can’t see them anymore and his cheeks strain against his wobbly smile, but he manages to keep it up. “But I do have something I want to give you when I graduate. So, you better come to mine!”

“I will,” says Shouto, and stops again, shy under the unexpected promise.

Before Kaminari can open his mouth to speak again, Bakugou is turning around from his conversation with his parents and speaking over him. “Psst, that’s if you’re dumbass manages to graduate without us being here to kick your ass every time you start slacking off.”

Kaminari gives Bakugou an exasperated look, which Shouto feels is a fair and justified response to what he said.

But then, Kaminari’s expressions shifts back into that smile Shouto can somehow always hear in his voice; in the way, he swings his arms when he’d drop him off at his classroom door; in the way he’s shown up to Shouto’s graduation with tear-stained cheeks, flowers in his arms and a congratulations on his lips.

That returning smile, Shouto’s heart regrettably discovers at that moment, is another thing he doesn’t think he wants to leave behind.

Despite panicking in circles for a month after graduation before his brain forcibly shut itself off, finally accepting he might want to spend more time with Kaminari. He might even actually like him—maybe, probably will never admit that—Shouto wakes up feeling less like the world is going to end on Thursday.

He does manage to wake on time for his last alarm. Shouto has never been a morning person but when you’re a new hero you have less—close to no—say in when you are shifted into work, no matter if it’s patrolling or office work.

Midoriya has already left for work by the time Shouto is stumbling into their shared kitchen, eyes still weighted with sleep and chest still contracting over the dream he had, at 7:35 am.

Thursdays are when he is scheduled to patrol in the afternoon. And so, by the time he's walking out of his father’s agency building, it’s early into the evening but he already feels dead on his feet after his patrol earlier on in the day had turned into an on-foot chase with someone who tried to pull a hit and run. And, he wasn’t just going to stand by, he couldn’t.

It’s worth it, of course.

Shouto’s phone rings as he walks down the street towards the train station.

After he manages to find the pocket that his phone is ringing from he is greeted with Kaminari’s voice. “Todo!”

“Hello?” he says, “What are you calling for?”

“No reason, no reason. It’s just,” Shouto can practically hear the smile making its way onto Kaminari’s face. All bright, sincere and familiar, and something Shouto has been lucky enough to have directed at him more times than he can count.“You look like you could do with some good old company. And that hero Creati merch looks good on you!”

Shouto freezes into his next step, looks down at the very obvious hero Creati hoodie he’s sporting today and then snaps his head up in realisation. And, there he was, leaning against one of the street lights like he’d been waiting for Shouto to come out for a while now.

Kaminari stares at him when he’s halfway across the road, dressed in a pair of tight, washed-out jeans with the cuffs rolled up messily, and the jacket Shouto had sent to him for his birthday when he was in his second year. He catches his eye when he gets close enough, and Kaminari’s mouth twists into a grin — bright, fresh and it washes over Shouto like a wave of comfort — as he always seems to do when they see each other.

Only when Shouto stops in front of him, close enough to notice the windswept colour of his cheeks, does he notice Kaminari carrying two large milkshakes in a cardboard tray in one hand and his phone in the other.

“What are you doing here?” Shouto asks quickly, he doesn’t even try to hide the giddiness that’s clinging to his every word.

“I missed you, duh?!” Kaminari replies, voice laced with enough sincerity to make the insides of Shouto’s stomach twist, and when he levels him with a look mixed between obviousness and eagerness, Shouto’s heart twists too.

“Oh,” Shouto mutters, “I...missed you too.”

It comes out of Shouto like he has no choice but to say it, like his body forces the words out of him before he can think to swallow them back down.

If Kaminari notices, he doesn’t say anything about it.

Silently, Kaminari offers him the milkshake in his hand and Shouto hesitates to take it, making him sigh heavily. “Todo, come on! just take the shake, I got your favourite.”

Instead of replying, Shouto grabs it and brings it to his lips. It is his favourite, and the fact the other remembers that means more to him than he’d like to admit.

Kaminari is really pretty.

This is an obvious thing to think, he’s well-aware, but it’s sat heavily at the very forefront of his mind ever since the day he met him. But Shouto tucks that thought away, as he leads them down the streets in the direction of the train station.

“Isn’t the sports festival on Friday?” Shouto asks him as they walk, “Should you be drinking...that?”

It really might be one of the largest milkshakes Shouto has ever seen.

Kaminari squints his eyes at him, eyebrows pinching together.

Then, “Everywhere hurts! I, one hundred per cent deserve this shake!” he yells, like they aren’t walking close for their shoulders to knock together. “Training for the sports festival always kills me, I thought my body would be used to it by now!?”

Shouto lets his lips twitch into a smile at the corners. “I thought that too.”

They reach a cross-work, and he pauses to press the button as Kaminari watches the cars go past them on the street. He’s smiling still, humming along to the tune of a song Shouto vaguely thinks he can recognize but not enough to name it.

There’s something fragile about the way he smiles, something watery building up in the corners of his eyes. It’s probably nerves, Shouto decides. The sports festival in his third year had been the most nerve-wracking one out of the three — people expect more and more each year, naturally.

“I’ll watch you while it’s being broadcasted if I can,” Shouto promises, and as gently as he’s learnt how to, he reaches out and squeezes his hand. “But if not I’ll check the news after my shift ends.”

As if on cue, Kaminari reaches his free hand up to rub roughly over his eyes, laugh working its way into the space between them and when he pulls back they’re glistening for a different reason this time.

Kaminari squeezes his hand once, and Shouto lets himself enjoy the comfortable weight of fingers laced between his own before the lights change to red, and the green for them to walk appears a second later.

They both drop their hands, eyes averted and steps falling out of tandem as Shouto speeds up: one, two, steps ahead of Kaminari. There’s a tremor in his pulse that won’t settle.

It doesn’t settle when they’re saying goodbye to each other at the train station, empty milkshakes in the bin and the faces of people blurring around them. It doesn’t settle when he finally manages to get home either.

It’s not settled right in a long time.

Kaminari comes third in the sports festival.

He doesn’t actually know this until hours after the sports festival had been wrapped up and everyone has received their medals because like he’d suspected, he was out with Bakugou on patrol. Although, each time either of them walks past a shop or radio broadcasting updates, they listen out for them.

“How did those dumbasses do again?” Bakugou asks when they’re finally back in the agency, two hours after their scheduled time. They won’t get in trouble for it, not when the reason was a villain attack that meant they had to spend extra time updating the police on what had happened. “I know Kirishima came first.”

Shouto snorts, there is no way Bakugou would know what. “You just want that to happen.”

Bakugou glares at him and tries to kick his shin from where he sits in the medical ward of the agency. Now that they’re back, they have to get checked for injuries or over-exhaustion of their quirks. Even after months of working the same routine, neither he or Bakugou care much about this particular rule and so often try and skip out of it and detour straight to their desks.

“That’s because I know a strong dumbass when I see one.” Bakugou says with all the certainty in the world. “He came out on top.”

“Biased.” Shouto hums, as the doctor walks into the room. “Although, Kirishima did come second, Tokoyami came first and Kaminari was third.”

“Second?”

Shouto unbuttons his shirt when the doctor waves a hand around, at the patches of blood over his shoulder. It’s not anything but a few scratches from where he landed wrong, he sighs, following the instructions anyway. “I placed second.”

“Yeah, and look at you now.”

Shouto chuckles.“Asshole.”

“Bastard.”

The doctor laughs at that, fingers prodding around the damaged area of skin. “You two are always a delight to have in here.”

“Sor—”

“Damn straight,” interjects a voice from beside them. Shouto rolls his eyes as Bakugou shifts around from where he’s made himself comfortable on one of the empty hospitals like beds. “Why is it that you always check up on icy hot before me?”

“Oh, well, you are a lot better at telling me you got banged about while fighting.” is their instant reply, to which, after knowing Bakugou for all three years of UA, would disagree. “But, I’ve known Young Todoroki for a lot longer than just a few months and I think he would honestly hide the fact he got shot if he could and just go home.”

He would also disagree with that.

To some extent. He’s not that reckless when it comes to his health — not if you compare him to someone like Midoriya, who risks his life when it’s not completely necessary.

“I wouldn’t do that…” Shouto adds petulantly when the pair of them let out a shared laugh and shake of their heads.

“Don’t worry, you’ve gotten better since you were a child.” the doctor hums and once again turns to focus on cleaning the cuts before covering them up and moving over the Bakugou.

Shouto rolls his shoulder a few times, in an attempt to ease some of the tension that has built up in it. As he does, the TV in the corner of the medical room begins to play repeats of the sports festival, he shifts from where he’s perched on the end of the bed to catch a glimpse of Kaminari receiving the bronze medal.

He’s smiling at least, Shouto thinks, as he blocks out the voices of the news reporter talking over the video clips. His heart should know better than to speed up over something as simple as a smile, especially one that’s through a tv screen, but there’s too much longing repressed in him to care to control the mess behind his ribcage.

The three fall into silence, it’s not uncomfortable. Bakugou is too tired to complain about the time the doctor is taking, and he wouldn't anyway, he knows how important their job is, even if he hates it. And, Shouto is too busy trying to catch up on each of the fights during the sports festival to care about speaking, or anything else.

There’s a tight knot of pride forming in his chest whenever he reads about how well Kaminari did, and of course, how well his other friends did too. But, you know, he sighs, not letting himself think about why as he moves onto the next web page.

“Oi,” is the thing that breaks the silence after ten minutes. “Have you heard about the international offers Kaminari might be getting?”

Shouto freezes in his reading of the final fight between Kirishima and Tokoyami. The words ‘international offers’ roll around in his mind, taking longer for him to process than he’d care to admit.

“What?” Shouto asks, carefully. “From who?”

“It’s an extended branch of some big elementary kind of quirks agency that’s based in England,” Bakugou says, like he’s not in the middle of getting medical attention for the cuts on his forearms. “They have quite a few electric-based quirk users there and have their eye on him as well. It’d be a good experience if that lucky asshole can get it.”
Oh. He’s never heard of them.

“Umm…” Shouto pauses and chews his lower lip. “I didn’t know.”

“Heard it from mind fucker.” Bakugou hums, he doesn’t seem to notice that Shouto has barely breathed in the last minutes. For that, he’s both a little grateful and dejected. “Y’know how he’s working underground in England for a while and then coming back to Japan when he has more experience or whatever.”

Shouto nods as a reply, he’s not sure if his mouth and his brain are connected enough to form a proper sentence right now — not one that Bakugou won’t see through within second, anyway.

He continues, still unfazed. “Yeah, that dumbass is probably gonna be popular as shit, the public will eat that shit up and electric quirks are always useful anywhere. Too bad he’s dumb as shit and hasn’t realised that yet.”

“He has,” Shouto says, quickly, too quick maybe, but it irritates him when people view Kaminari as stupid. He’s not. “He wants to help a lot of people with his quirk, he knows how useful it is.”

Kaminari is going to outgrow here, is what Bakugou is saying. Shouto should have known that already, Kaminari is the type to get bored of being in one place for too long, pack up his things, and move to a different town, city, or country within a week.

Kaminari is going to outgrow Shouto, really. That’s not something he would be able to do and he should have known that.

Somewhere in the back of his mind, he always has.

Shouto’s smile falters, but he’s quick to fix it into a neutral expression. “I’ll tell him that they’ve got their eye on him.”

On a Saturday, a week later, somewhere in the weird limbo of afternoon and evening—between the days of the sports festival ending and Shouto being given the job of looking for potential first-years to offer internship opportunities to—Kaminari tells him, “I think I’m going to go on the heroics exchange to England.”

Shouto grimaces before he can stop himself. Are you thinking of moving there after graduation? gets caught in the tightening of Shouto’s lungs and the dropping of his stomach.

The words won’t come out, and he doesn’t try to force them to because he won't force something that shouldn’t be said. Not if he doesn’t want to upset Kaminari — he doesn’t want to, and he hopes he never does.

So, instead, he says, “Good luck, If anyone deserves to do something like this, it’s you.” and hopes he’ll be able to breathe again by the time his night shift starts in a few hours.

Shouto is a mess. If anyone were to ask him about it, Shouto would blame the fact that he’s been forced to get up at 4 am. It wouldn’t be a lie, but it wouldn’t by any means be the whole truth either.

It’s the fact that Kaminari is leaving for the next two months, you see, that is making Shouto wake up at 4 am, let his sister dress him up like he’s going to one of his father forced charity events and force his third cup of coffee down his throat by the time it’s 6:30 am.

But since no one asks, Shouto stays silent and lingers on the outside of the circle crowding Kaminari in the airport.

After he had told Shouto a few weeks ago about accepting the heroics exchange placement, it hadn’t taken long for the plans to be set in motion. Something aches in his chest when he thinks about how fast Kaminari had fulfilled the inevitable of outgrowing Japan, and wanting the world.

The energy of Kaminari’s family and their shared friends fills the air with a buzz of energy, and not one that’s all sad, even though inevitably there are a few anxious tears in the corner of his parents' eyes.

Shouto thinks he could cry too, probably, but probably not for the same reasons. He isn’t, though, although his stomach drops every time there is a new call for boarding over the intercom of the airport speakers. He doesn’t let it show.

Instead, he is trying very hard not to let anyone realise that each time Kaminari’s gaze flits to his he can’t help but smile — so uncontrolled by his body, it’s like he has no choice.

It’s simultaneously a long and short ten minutes of hugs and honest expressions of love and worry before Kaminari escapes the circle and stops in front of Shouto. His hair is pulled back into a messy ponytail and there are clips along the front of his hair to hold back his fringe.

He looks good with them, Shouto thinks.

When Shouto says nothing. Kaminari takes in a heavy breath, and says before he can begin to think of what to say, “Everyone is acting like I'll get lost and die the second I land.”

It’s said like a whine, like he’s tired of everyone worrying about him, tired of the way his older brother had been clinging to him. Shouto could probably understand that, he can remember when Natsuo wouldn’t leave him alone during his graduation day, but it’s so far from what Shouto thought he would say, that, he can’t help but laugh — but only slightly.

“You do get lost pretty easy,” he says, just to watch the fake offence flash across Kaminari’s face. “Haven’t you gotten lost in your hometown a few times?”

Kaminari nudges him, “That’s besides the point! you‘re meant to side with me, dude!”

Shouto hums, nudging Kaminari back.

I like you, a voice Shouto barely recognises as his own echoes into the back of his mind.

The thought is so unexpected, it leaves Shouto with no other words to say. He won’t say them — he can’t — it wouldn’t be fair to say them to Kaminari right now, in the middle of an airport, 6:30 in the morning and probably from a shameful place of anxiousness.

Shouto wishes he wasn’t here, he wishes he was at home with his only worry being the fact Bakugou is probably going to walk around the house in only boxers because he has no shame and that he might burn his breakfast again.

But, he’s not, and right now his worry is the shining wetness lining the rim of Kaminari’s eyes. “I’m just thinking, I’m happy you have this opportunity,” he confesses, and means it. “You deserve recognition, you’re really strong.”

“Don’t you mean I’m not bad?” Kaminari laughs, voice coming a little breathy and raw, and Shouto finds himself following along with the sound of it. He gives him a lazy, small smile, but as genuine as he means it all the same.

The announcement for Kamianri’s flight cuts through their conversations, before Shouto can answer. Kaminari turns around to check on the television screens placed around the airport, probably for the time.

When he turns back to Shouto he’s smiling big enough for the apple of his cheeks to squish and Shouto’s struggles to get his next words out from the sight of it, “Yeah, not bad. Be safe.”

“I promise I’ll call you when I get everything sorted out, ‘m’kay?” is his quick quip.

Shouto sighs. “Okay.” Is the last thing he manages to say before Kaminari’s mother is pulling him in for one last hug and then pushing him towards the gates.

They all watch him go. Its only then does Shouto realise it’s probably a lot more dramatic than it needs to be but two months, two months can feel long — it will feel long and the time difference in time zones won’t help ease the wait.

People start to leave. Shouto stays frozen in the place Kaminari had left him. He replays the way Kaminari’s lips curved around the word promise in his mind, turns on his heels, and walks slowly after them, the back of his neck burning up with a burn his right side can’t quite soothe.

A call doesn’t come from Kaminari until four days later at 3 am in the morning.

The sound of his phone ring tone is enough to wake him up, it’s buried in the tangled mess of his blankets somewhere but he’s opening his eyes by the time it rings for the third time. He’s sensitive to sound some night, and it’s a fact he refuses to think about why.

Without sitting up, Shouto reaches his arm around aimlessly in the direction of the sound until he feels his phone. He brings it up to his ear without checking the caller ID, “Hello?”

“Hi, Todoroki!?” Kaminari’s voice comes through the phone, sounding much more awake than Shouto. “Todoroki?”

Kaminari repeats his name again, confused, until Shouto manages to shake the sleep clouding his mind enough for him to make sense of the fact Kaminari sounds more awake because it’s probably around late evening for him in England.

“No. It’s, me,” Shouto stumbles over his words.

God, Stupid—of course, it’s him. Shouto’s face is undoubtedly red but Kaminari’s laugh carries clear through the phone and eases the embarrassment.

Still, he needs to get a grip of himself.

“It better be or you gave me a fake number all that time ago and you wouldn’t get to hear about what I’ve been doing.”

Before he replies he shifts, so that he’s sat up against the backboard of his bed. There are the sounds of cars and people talking on the other side of the phone and he wonders Kaminari called him to talk to him as he walks home.

The part of his brain Shouto doesn’t quite seem to have control over when it comes to Kaminari lets him wonder if he was thinking about him — missing him — walking home and so. He cuts that thought off before he can leave the silence hanging any longer, definitely, not because the tips of his ears are starting to burn.

“Sorry,” he says, yawning. “I was sleeping.”

There is a shuffling sound and then a loud, “Shit!”

Shouto pulls the phone away from his ear quickly, wincing at the volume.

“I forgot about the time difference…” Kaminari continues, Shouto catches the end of it when he puts his phone back against his ear. “It’s probably like, um, 3? 4? in the morning for you, right?”

He really doesn’t mind, in fact, he doesn’t care at all. He’s been waiting for this phone call for days.

“It's okay,” he confesses, “I want to hear about what you’ve been doing, I’m more interested in you than sleeping.”

The sharp intake of air and whispered ‘oh my god’ is the thing that makes Shouto realise what he’d just said, what he kind of implied. He feels sick and stupid at the same time, his stomach twisting into some pathetic mix of both.

The implication isn’t wrong but, still.

I’m more interested in you than sleeping.

“Who knew you would be a secret sweet talker?!” comes Kaminari’s wavering voice. “I thought I'd pass out. Whoever you end updating is going to need a strong heart, oh my god,”

Shouto refuses to acknowledge how much he blushes.

Kaminari continues, voice dipping into something Shouto thinks might be apologetic, “But that’s all boring stuff I don’t wanna bother you with, you should get back to sleep, I’m sorry for waking you.”

“I’m not bored,” Shouto says around another yawn, he’s tired but not bored. There’s a difference. “I only answered the phone because it was you.” he won’t admit it, but he finds it a little endearing.

He tries to swallow around what feels like his heart in his throat.

“If I’m annoying you, you can just tell me to shut up y’know. No hard feelings everyone thinks so.”

Not annoying, Shouto thinks. Not annoying at all. Kaminari was one of the few people Shouto didn’t take as long to warm up to the idea of having around when they first met.

Shouto doesn’t know if this is obvious to Kaminari, that he’s important to him, but he wishes he was better at making it so it was.

“No.” Todoroki interrupts before Kaminari can spiral into the darker side of his thoughts — thoughts he’s let Shouto help him through a few times during high school. “Never.”

“Thank you…”

“It’s,” Shouto stumbles, maybe from nervousness or tiredness, he doesn’t know. “It’s the truth, I’ve never thought that.”

Kaminari makes a strangled sound deep in his throat. “Todoroki, man, you’re killing me. How about we just talk earlier tomorrow?”

Shouto sucks his bottom lip between his teeth. “Are you sure? I’m sorry.”

“Yeah! You probably have to patrol tomorrow as well, so, don’t feel bad.” Kaminari laughs, and it sounds pretty through the phone. Not as nice as it does in real life, but Shouto hums along with it. “I’ll call you tomorrow okay?”

“Okay.”

They do call again.

This time it’s planned and it’s set at a time that’s better for both of them. Kaminari talks for most of the conversation but he doesn’t seem to notice, and Shouto is content with listening to what it’s been like for him so far.

It’s calming. It’s almost a little domestic, and Shouto heart stirs because of it when he realises as he moves around the bathroom, going through his nightly routine as Kaminari’s voice carried through his phone speakers.

“This is nice,” he says without meaning to, Kaminari probably wouldn’t have heard through his babbling — would he?

He’s been wanting to say it for a while.

Then, Kaminari pauses, there’s a beat of stillness before a soft giggle comes through. “Yeah, we should do this again, we could face time too.”

Shouto considers this for a long moment. “I’d like that.”

Kaminari snorts. “Don’t sound so nervous! “You’re nice to be around, or well, talk to,” Kaminari confesses, loud and unashamed of who’s going to hear him. Shouto is embarrassing for him and anyone around him.

“Oh,” he says, suddenly feeling a little breathless. “I think you’re nice to be around too…” Shouto repeats back, and means it completely.

The conversation moves on after that. They talk until it’s midnight for Shouto and he is forced to face the fact that he has an early patrol the next day with Uraraka and so, he has to go.

“I’ll text you!” Kaminari says, “Bye, dude!”

Shouto nods, never truly satisfied with the short phone calls and texts, but content for today. “Okay, good luck.”

“Thanks, Todo! I’m feeling like I’m gonna kill it out there today!”

And then, Kaminari has to hang up, and Shouto tries not to send a text telling him to just call again anyway.

Shouto chews and pushes the straw of his milkshake around his mouth, a habit he picked up from Kaminari after he had picked up the habit of showing up outside Endeavor’s agency with one for him.

He’s not been scheduled for patrol today and neither has Midoriya, although he is on hand for emergency calls, in case anything comes up. And, so, they’re relaxing, kind of.

They sit in silence for a few minutes before Katsuki is narrowing his eyes at them, “You, stop babyin’ the hell out of his bratty young master ass.” he says, pointing a finger in Midoriya’s direction, before he turns to point the finger directly at him. “And you need to stop acting like you’re never gonna see him again, seeing you all mopey is weird as fuck.”

Todoroki groans and tips his head back onto Midoriya’s shoulder to avoid making any further eye contact with Bakugou, but Midoriya betrays him and knocks his head back up each time he lets it flop limply.

The world isn’t about to end, and yet it is.

“Do you have to be here?” Shouto sighs, glaring over at Bakugou when he turns to glare at him.

“Yes, Kacchan, I thought we became a team to support each in our times of need.” Midoriya hums. “Todoroki needs us now.”

“You should have given him your second button or some sappy shit like that if you were going to end up like this.” Bakugou huffs, and it is the last thing he says before he walks out of the room in the direction of the kitchen.

Shouto sits up, confused, eyes turning towards Midoriya. His second button? “Why would I do that?”

“Because it’s romantic, of course!” Midoriya tells him, locking his phone and putting it down in order to turn his attention to Shouto.

That causes him to sit up properly, looking between two pairs of expectant eyes. “What—Why would that be romantic?”

Stories of love and honestly have always been novelties to him. Honesty doesn’t always lead to good results, or returning love, or the overture mapping out a happy ending.

“Have you never heard of it before?” Midoriya asks, eyebrows pushed up in shock when Shouto shakes his head slowly, thinking, he doesn’t think he’s heard of it. “Wow, okay, so. The second button is close to a person’s heart, right?”

“...Sure?”

“And so, when you give someone else your second button it kind of means they’re very precious to you.” he listens to Midoriya explain, watching when he taps a hand around the area a second button would sit against his chest. “It’s a way for people to confess!”

“Oh,” he says when Midoriya is done and looking at him expectantly. “So, do you think I should...give my button to Kaminari?”

Midoriya seems to consider it for a moment, and that moment leaves Shouto tapping his foot against the floor anxiously. “That’s for you to decide, if you like him then why not?” he tells him. “I’m sure he would say yes to it.”

Shouto doesn’t ask on what bases he can assume that so confidently. He’s too scared to hear the answer. He feels suddenly feverish, seized with trembling from head to toe. “...Is it too late?”

“As if,” Bakugou’s voice cuts in as he walks back into the room, “He’s been waiting on your ass to make a move.”

Shouto doesn’t ask on what bases he can assume that so confidently, either.

A month later, Kaminari comes back to Japan. His plane lands at 10 pm and Shouto is still in his hero gear when Bakugou pulls their car up to the airport at 9:45 pm.

If Shouto was a dishonest person he would say he had easily walked up to the gates without needing Bakugou threatening him along the way and Kirishima’s loud voice blocking out most of Shouto’s worst thoughts.

He’s not ready for Kaminari, ever really. But, he’s definitely not ready for Kaminari after not seeing him in person for so long. Phone calls, texts and even facetime aren't the same.

Shouto’s throat goes dry the moment he sees him, but Kirishima is the first to move, the first to get to him and hug him with enough strength that they almost fall over. He continues watching as they pull apart, matching smiles on their faces and Shouto can barely breathe.

It’s only been two months. He’s dumb, he knows it, but he can’t help but let out the trapped air inside his lungs. It’s been trapped for two months, probably, and his chest feels lighter again.

Kaminari is quick to rush over to him next, and he has arms thrown around him before he can even register it — it’s just for a second, a short, tight, desperate sort of squeeze that Shouto feels himself fall into with the same sort of rapture.

“There are so many people here.” Kaminari’s voice is low, as though they’re trading secrets, and it’s cute. It’s a lot so quickly and all at once, but it’s cute and Shouto’s missed him.

“I missed you,” he says, like Kaminari had all those months ago outside of his father’s agency with his favourite milkshake in his hands and Shouto’s unrecognised feelings humming in the space between their joined hands.

There’s no going back now. The words sound awkward on his tongue, and he has to resist the urge to screw his eyes shut to will away the uneasiness he feels under his skin.

Kaminari’s cheeks are coloured red, it’s obvious and Shouto tries not to reveal in it too much. “I missed you too!”

His face probably matches by now. They step back from each other awkwardly and Kaminari is the first to speak again, like he usually is (not that Shouto ever minds). “Whew, it feels like we’ve been in a long-distance relationship.”

Oh.

Shouto doesn’t say anything, and neither of them mentions anything about it after either. Then, two months later, Kaminari graduates.

That night, Shouto texts Fuyumi about her second button.

‘Did you give your second button to anyone when you graduated?’ he sends, unprompted and out of context. The last conversation they had been having was about a new show she’s been watching that she’s trying to get him and Natsuo hooked on so she can rant to them about it.

‘Oh, well, yes I did but we didn’t date or anything…’ comes back as a reply twenty minutes later, followed shortly after by another text. ‘Why? This is a random topic for you, Shou’

Shouto considers how to answer for a second, not sure how much he wants to give away yet. ‘Did you decide to keep my uniform for mother, or did she not want to keep it?’

The reply is instant. ‘It’s at my house, in the boxes for her. Do you want me to get it out for you?’

‘Please’ he sends before he can regret this whole conversation. ‘Just the second button from my shirt. Don’t tell anyone else.’

He doesn’t get a reply to that. The message stays on 'read' at the bottom of his screen for long enough for him to get tired of waiting and turn his attention to the paperwork he has to catch up on.

Then, after thirty minutes of working, his phone dings with a message and then another.

He opens the chat with Fuyumi to a picture, it’s of his button on the small shelf by her front door. ‘I won't. But here you go!’

He smiles, his fingers already moving across the screen. ‘Thank you, I’ll come get it tomorrow.’

Shouto’s about to lock his phone and turn back to his work when it dings again.

‘So…...Should I pretend I don't know who this is for or……?’

Shouto refuses to bless that with an answer, face red, cheeks warm, and chewing on his lower lip, he turns back to the work.

As promised, Shouto is there just barely on the day of the new third years graduation, and the small piece of plastic he has weighing barely anything, and yet everything in his pocket is with him.

On the morning of the graduation, he manages to convince both Midoriya and Bakugou to come with him as well. With what he might consider doing today it will be comforting to have them there — is what he tries to convince himself when Midoriya tells him they’re both here for moral support on the car ride at the same time Bakugou purposely plays dramatic rejection and one-sided love songs.

“Did he steal your jacket again?” Midoriya whispers, eyebrows raising when he sees the blush that forms on Shouto’s cheeks.“He was always doing that when we were third years, it was very endearing watching him show up to the dorms to return it after like two weeks.”

“Endearing?”

“Yeah! You never stopped him from doing it so,” Midoriya explains, laughing under his breath and knocking his elbow into Shouto’s side. “Wait where did Kacchan go?” he asks looking around to his left, and when Shouto looks around he can’t spot Bakugou either.

The principal's speech has finished now and the next senior staff is stepping up to say their own few pieces of advice. Shouto sighs, shrugging. “He probably left us here and took the car like he always does.”

“Ah! One of us should learn to drive and also get another car.” Midoriya huffs, checking his phone for texts to no avail. “Anyway!” he smiles, “Your jacket!”

“I’m used to it,” Shouto says. He’s kind of in love with it, he doesn’t say. “He can borrow it whenever he wants too.”

“Ohhhh, of course, of course.” Midoriya whistles as the speeches stop and the first student's name is called up onto the stage. “You would love that.”

“Don’t say embarrassing things.” Shouto huffs, and he ignores the double up of warmth and ache in his chest from how easy it is for him to picture Kaminari padding into his bedroom to rob some of his clothes, and him padding into Kaminari’s room to take one of those ridiculous oversized hoodies he’s seen him walking around the UA grounds drowning in.

The next name is called and Shouto starts listening again, waiting.

Falling in love with Kaminari, Shouto has discovered, is easy. It’s easy, it’s too easy. It’s as easy as breathing for Shouto smiles back at the way Kaminari wears his honesty on his face, the way it softens, scrunches, or lights up.

That’s why it’s as easy as breathing to let Kaminari pull him away from the crowd of students, families, friends, partners and along the pathway to a bench tucked away to the side of the courtyard.

After what feels like a lifetime of ceremony and walking, Shouto is finally alone with Kaminari.

Kaminari glances around, gives a hum of approval and settles his gaze back on Shouto. He’s fidgeting with his hands, his fingers and it takes everything in Shouto not to pull them into his own.

“What are we doing here?” he asks, reverently.

“Here,” Kaminari says with his palm outstretched in front of him.

A small plastic button in the middle of his palm is the only sight he’s met with. And, for a second he’s confused as to why Kaminari is giving him a broken button but then, he’s back to the overly enthusiastic explanation Midoriya had given him in their apartment months ago and he isn’t sure if this is real anymore.

His second button. Kaminari’s second button, and when he looks up to his shirt, the jacket he stole from Shouto is unzipped and sure enough, the second button of his shirt is pulled off.

“Ah,” he feels a little silly, but he can’t quite manage to form any useful words when he lets Kaminari slide it into his palm.

His lacklustre response must start up a panic in the other boy because he shifts, giving Shouto more space to just stand, just be and look at the edges of the small button catch the sunlight. “You—you don’t have to be nice to make me feel better if you’re worried about rejecting me, I just—I wanted to give you this last year but Hanta and Mina told me that’s not the proper way because you were the one graduating not me so I waited, and well, here we are, and I’m sorry for doing this to you.”

It takes a second, and then another, and then another until Shouto processes the words.

There’s a spring breeze carrying through the air and it steals Shouto’s words from his lips as it blows the cherry blossoms around them up off the ground, some landing in Kaminari’s hair.

“I like you too.” he confesses, gently, fondly — he doesn’t even recognise his own voice.

He wants to pull the blossoms from his hair, and also, preserve this scene in his mind for as long as he can.

And then, “I like you too.” he repeats, reaching into the side pocket of his jacket. After this, when he gets home, he’s going to make sure to properly thank his family for being overly sentimental and saving his UA uniform instead of throwing it away like he had been planning to.

“I like you too.” He says one more time when he finally feels the small piece of plastic curl tightly between his fingers, he offers his own palm this time, flat up and outstretched in front of Kaminari. “I’m sorry for not giving this to you last year. I wasn’t aware this was a common act that was done.”

“You like me?” Kaminari repeats, stuck on that one sentence.

Kaminari pauses, and Shouto is left to anxiously watch his mouth open and close again and again while he carefully thinks of how to respond. And then, all at once as he lets out a deep breath: “I felt really dumb for most of last year...it’s not your fault and I’m not blaming you but it just felt like I’d never get to the point of confessing.”

Shouto opens his mouth, Kaminari hasn’t taken his button from his hand yet so he leaves it outstretched.“I’m sorry for—” is as far as he gets before Kaminari cuts him off with a rushed “Don’t apologise!” and then, “You helped me study and train my quirk a lot. We spent a lot of time together and you’re really, really pretty, dude. You’re also funny, just amazing in general, there was no way I wasn't going to end up with at least a little crush on you.”

There’s an obvious blush making itself known on Shouto’s cheeks, he can tell, and the burning of the back of his neck and ears isn’t helping him either but he through the embarrassment he can’t fight the small smile that tugs against the corners of his lips.

He’s never been ready for Kaminari.

“Denki,” he says, after a pause. The use of his first name slips out without his noticing, and he finally closes some of the gap Kaminari had created between them and settles the button into his hand.

For a second, he’s worried about how cold his right hand must be right now, but Kaminari doesn’t seem to mind if it is because he lets out a low hum and curls his fingers around the button when Shouto takes his hand back. “Can I kiss you?”

“Please,” slips between Kaminari’s lips before Shouto’s heart even manages to land its next beat. “Shouto.”

His face bursts into colour a second later, because if anything, Kaminari is good at speaking honestly, genuinely, even if it leads him to be considered embarrassing. Shouto finds it more endearing and the sound of his own name on Kaminari’s tongue — fond — like it was made to be there in the first place.

Shouto’s heart stops for a moment when Kaminari crosses further into his space, so close — too close — that he can feel the tingle of static against his skin. He doesn’t know who leans in the rest of the way but Kaminari is smiling into the kiss, just slightly.

His lips are slightly chapped, but warm and welcoming enough that when they pull away — just barely — for a second he leans back in once, and then twice. They’re swift and short but they settle the trembling of his pulse into a steady, content pounding.

“I’m really happy right now, really!” Kaminari assures him, when they pull away properly. Then, he slips his hand into Shouto’s and tugs him towards the direction they’d come from, before frowning, squeezing Shouto’s hand between his once. “But I don’t believe that nobody in the whole school tried to give you their second button, everyone was like in love with you, dude!”

Shouto almost laughs at that, both amused and confused. “I wouldn’t have accepted any of them anyway?”

He watches as the pout forms on Kaminari’s lips, knocking his elbow into his as they walk. “But, still, come on,”

“Shouldn’t you be happy?” he asks, shouldn’t Kaminari be happy nobody else thought the was worth giving their buttons to?

There is a short pause where Kaminari considers his answer, gnawing on his bottom lip as he falls into step with Shouto. “I don’t know? It doesn’t really matter because universally everyone was in love with you, you get what I mean?”

Not really. “No...” Shouto confesses honestly.

“Like,” Kaminari pauses again, musing. In front of them, Shouto can see, for the most part, all of class 2A, Kaminari must notice too because he slows down their speed by purposefully walking slower. “Like, even if other people like you, even if everyone likes you it wouldn’t have stopped me from trying, y’know? I just really like you that much.”

He’s blushing again.

"Me too," Shouto says quietly, thinking of how often he’s laughed or even cracked a smile in the time they’ve known each other. He reaches his free hand into his pocket, and lets the button roll around between his fingers as they walk.

Shouto bites his lip. "Me too." And with that, his heart is in his throat, and in the small plastic button tucked into Kaminari’s pocket.

Love, for Todoroki Shouto, starts with a storm and continues with lightning.

☆☆☆