I've always wanted to write one of these stories; the ones where it takes its time getting the characters together, yet slowly, gradually and surely it starts to happen, so by the end you really feel it, and it really means something - and a slow burn makes the feels even deeper.
I wouldn't say Todoroki and Yaoyorozu are an OTP of mine (update 8/8/17: they hella are an OTP now), but man do they look hot together xD I feel like it's a relationship that's lightly hinted at, but it will never be acted upon, simply because that's not what BnHA is about. And that's perfectly fine; what are fanfics for after all?
The story itself I plan to put in three parts; starting off the year (which I feel needs to be slower to build some form of a friendship), summer until winter (hoo boi, please lemme know what you think .), and then the finale arc, if you will.
There aren't any spoilers for the manga/anime, and as I'm an anime only viewer (although I know the happenings of the manga, more or less), I've tried following the canon timeline as much as possible, though I may ask manga viewers questions from time to time, just to have things be as believable as possible.
To new readers: I would suggest sticking around until chapter 4/5, where things really get rolling :P Just a shameless hook. Even when the story is complete, please continue letting me know what you thought about each chapter. That's why I've written this after all - to share interests! The reviews come straight to my email, so I'll always get them, even years from now, and I'll always reply, cuz this story is something I've put countless hours and love into, so it would mean so incredibly much to hear from all of you!
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters, manga, or any related official work. I am but a measly fanfic writer leeching off someone else's hard work. Let this disclaimer work for the entire story, because I do not wish to repeat it every chapter. Cover picture by the talented hinata-ryo on tumblr! Also, I haven't bothered going back and quoting the dialogues word for word (too lazy). So do me a favor and imagine they're exactly the same :D
The First Fault - Jealousy
The crowd cheered, the screams of thousands blurring in her ears, grinding at her brain like white noise.
'No! No! No!'
The match had only just started. There was no way. She was Momo Yaoyorozu, she was levels above the rest, she was a recommendation, people believed in her ability as much as she did herself. This...this reality was... An impossibility.
"Momo Yaoyorozu is out of bounds! Fumikage Tokoyami wins the match!"
Her eyes blinked unseeingly at her shoes, brand new, exhaustively chosen and modified by her, the perfect grip, the perfect pedal arch, the perfect sole. Supreme shoes. For a supreme hero. Shoes that were currently stood hardly an inch behind the line.
Her grip was still tight on her rod, her brain alert, gears still whirring through the different possibilities of winning the match. There was no way it was already over, before she even had a chance to start any of them.
"I hope I didn't hurt you."
Momo looked up. Tokoyami had walked over to offer sportsmanship-ly condolences, hand out for a handshake.
Her mind ground to a halt. 'Hurt me...?'
Incredible. That was how little a threat she had posed to him. 'Winning was in the bag, let's try winning without injuring the poor, helpless girl.' And suddenly, she was filled with rage.
"Barely felt it."
And she left.
The match between Todoroki and Midoriya was the first one that interested her enough to get her to rise out of her depression. Her eyes locked onto the half-and-half redhead and she instantly and unashamedly knew who she was rooting for; Midoriya.
Todoroki was a fellow scholarship student, and as her male counterpart, she felt like the comparison people made between them was only natural. They fell into the same category, so it only made sense to compare the two of them with each other. She'd never really minded this much. She had enough faith in herself and her abilities to know she'd never under-perform to the extent where people would start to doubt why she was there.
So, in a state of blind self-pity, she prayed Todoroki would lose, just as she had, if only to help her save face. And she was fairly confident he would lose as well. From the little she had observed, Midoriya was equipped with a very powerful quirk capable of blowing anything away. Although the repercussion was him breaking a finger, and that would be enough to stop an average person from trying their hardest, she was also fairly confident in her deduction that he cared more about winning than he did his own well-being.
Another reason she was so confident was because Todoroki was so adamant on not using the other half of his quirk. She'd asked him, once, that if he shot ice out of his white half, did he ooze magma or something from his red one? Of course, she'd received a frosty glare (a look that could freeze hell itself over, so to speak), which was answer enough. But just to make sure, she brought it up again during the tag team round, where she suggested using heat and ice to create several advantages, fog screens and the like.
"I only use ice. I leave the minor details to you."
And although she could have taken that as a compliment, she knew what he'd meant to say was 'Don't ask me again.' The message got through to her loud and clear; Shouto Todoroki didn't use his left side. A massive handicap she was sure would be his downfall.
Five minutes into the match, and on the edge of her seat, things were progressing as she had anticipated. Although Midoriya had taken far more damage than she'd calculated, Mr Ice-Only wasn't doing any better. He was holding his dominant hand too stiff, and a cloud of hot condensation formed whenever he exhaled; the cold was getting to him. But every time she was sure Midoriya had him flying off stage, Todoroki would throw up a frozen wall, catching himself just in time.
Still. Momo slumped back in her seat and turned her eyes skyward. He was good. Too good. He had sharp instincts and thought on his feet. Even if he lost, he'd put on an incredibly good appeal, flashy and powerful. And it was only half his strength. He could lose and still hold his head high.
'Dammit.' She cursed internally. 'I guess that's what you get for praying for another's failure.'
A roar of flaming intensity drew her vision back to the battlefield. 'Wha-?!'
Flames had erupted over half of Todoroki's body. Her jaw dropped. How...how could this be? She had him pegged! She was certain he'd never use his fire side, she was counting on it! What had happened?
And then the air within the stadium exploded.
She felt sick.
Maybe it was the sudden changing of extreme temperatures, or the hot winds or the eruptive noises. But whatever it was, Momo suddenly felt suffocated, trapped between her classmates in the bleachers, a massive headache building in the back of her brain. She needed space.
And so it was as she was walking around the inner hallways of the stadium that she saw Todoroki. He looked like the worse side of exhausted, his walk hardly better than a tired shuffle, the left side of his shirt burnt through, mouth pulled in a tight frown, eyes half-lidded and weary as he stared at the ground. She watched him for a while.
He really was incredible. The air around him smelt of ash and mist, like flavored, minty oxygen. It was neither good nor bad; it just smelt like power. He was grades above impressive just using his ice quirk. Add to that fire? It made him… She looked at him, hard, studying his eyes especially, the heterochromia of his irises unnervingly sharp and vivid. He was unique in every possible way.
It made him powerful.
It made him stand out.
It made her jealous.
"Congrats on the win," Momo heard herself say. He gave a slight jerk at the sudden interruption of his thoughts, still a few meters away. He looked up.
"Yaoyorozu." And then he nodded in acknowledgment.
That was it. His footsteps never faltered.
"How does it feel to win?" she asked, voice quiet.
Todoroki answered without stopping. "…Exhilerating."
It was the way he said it. It was like someone had clenched an iron fist around her heart. Losing hurt. She felt lower now; inadequate. Before, there was a mutual level of respect between them. An understanding she had always held sacred, a feeling she had tucked away in her private little corner. But now…now he didn't even deem her worthy to stop for. Momo grit her teeth.
She'd get that back.
It wasn't fair. That should have been her, mentally exhausted yet thoroughly satisfied with a victory. Why was she not still competing? How could she have let this happen? And suddenly, whatever emotion was bubbling in the pit of her stomach roared to life.
"I wasn't expecting you to win."
Todoroki stopped, and Momo's heart gave a joyous beat at the minuscule victory.
He arched a silver eyebrow at her. "No?"
"No. Ice was never enough against Midoriya."
To her surprise, he let out a breath of laughter. She didn't think she'd ever seen him smile, let alone laugh, short though it was. If it could be called that. Must be the adrenaline. 'What winning a difficult match does to you…' she thought wryly.
"I suppose the only fool here was me."
What was he talking about? Playing it humble? He should be arrogant. He should be flaunting his strength, and talking up his power. She would've been. Maybe he didn't find her worth opening up to. Maybe he'd never deemed her a worthy rival, or his caliber. Maybe it was only ever her… maybe he'd never even noticed her...
Momo paused, letting the ridiculously false doubts plague her mind, long enough for him to notice her silence. He said nothing, but she could feel his calculating gaze pass over her.
"What did he say to you?" she finally asked, voice soft.
His gaze hardened for a fraction of a second. "Who?"
And just like that, his relaxed, emotionless stare was back. Her mind wasn't in a state to notice or process his strange transition of expression. She didn't even know why she was having this conversation in the first place, but she elaborated. "Did he say something to get you to use your left side?"
Perhaps it was her subconscious wanting to know what she'd done wrong. Maybe she wanted to know what it took to get Todoroki to open up- But no, that wasn't it. She didn't care about Todoroki opening up to her. Hadn't her entire issue been her feeling jealous of him winning, not him opening up to Midoriya? Momo shoved that confusion aside.
This was all because she wanted to see if there was any saving grace in this for her. Perhaps Todoroki had a fault. Perhaps he'd been tricked. Maybe he was weak willed, or simple-minded or even brainwashed. And she'd be the one to figure it out. She mentally laughed at her far-fetched ideas.
His eyes left hers in thought. "I suppose he did. But he didn't really." Momo resisted rolling her eyes at the cryptic words. "It was something I already knew, but forgot. Like I said, I was being a fool." Todoroki looked back at her to see an unimpressed expression dawning her face. His mouth gave an upwards twitch, like it was trying to smile but didn't know how.
"'Was a fool'," Momo repeated. "But you no longer are. More like the double-quirk prodigy." His eyebrows furrowed, not really sure what to make of her contradicting words and tone. "How wonderful for you. Truly. Your future is practically guaranteed."
The crease between Todoroki's eyebrows deepened at this, mouth pulled in a tiny frown.
"Investors will be clamoring at your door now, mark my words," she carried on. "Requests for ads, for sponsors, openings for being a sidekick,-"
"You're making fun of me," he commented.
"Au contraire. I'm stating facts. Agencies will be mailing you forms for months in hopes that you'll join. The son of Endeavor! The double quirk prodigy! The best of the recommended students of U.A. High! No one else came close! In a class of such potential, there was but one!"
"So that's what this is about," his dry statement cut her short. Momo blinked.
"Your match. You losing." She stared at him, quite honestly shocked. But he wasn't done. "I have to say, I definitely wasn't expecting that. Someone like you should have made it a battle of the mind. It should have lasted at the very least 10 minutes."
Momo inwardly cursed and roughly folded her arms, looking anywhere but at the two-toned boy in front of her. "High praise," she scoffed.
"13 faults. That's how many I counted."
Momo raised her head to lock eyes with him. His unique eyes swirled with sharp intensity, which were, for the first time since this conversation began, alert. He had been watching. He had not only watched her match, but he had analyzed it. Her heart lightened.
"And what does that mean?" she asked.
"You were recommended into U.A. for your brains. Try figuring it out." Todoroki turned to leave before she could say anything. "I'll talk to you later Yaoyorozu. It's uncomfortable talking to someone with half a shirt on."
And that's how he left her, face burning, like he'd set it on fire.
Momo didn't get the opportunity to press him further anytime soon. When she cornered him next, it was days later, back in the classroom at U.A.
She slammed a pile of papers onto his desk. He blinked at them in surprise, then turned his bewildered gaze up at her.
"I've spent days on this Todoroki," she said, almost breathless, with a touch of insanity in her voice. "So far, though, I've only counted four, and even then, they're long-shots. For example, if I had attached springs here, maybe I could have jumped high enough to avoid that first shove. But then, Tokoyami's Shadow Beast is quick enough to have reacted almost instantly and still landed a hit.
"And here, I suppose instead of creating a shield, I could have gone with an arm guard instead. It would have been faster to create, and the surface area would have been far less and probably wouldn't have pushed me back as far since the force would have been much less. Honestly, this one irks me the most; I can't believe I didn't do that.
"If I had created a blade instead, that could have helped. I admit I need more long range weapons in my arsenal, but most are too complicated to create on the spot-"
She looked over at him for the first time since starting her tirade. He was staring at her like he'd never seen her before. It could only be described as shock, but Shouto Todoroki wasn't really the 'shocked expression' type. His brows didn't rise up, but his eyes widened. His jaw didn't gape open, but his lips parted ever so slightly to show off a glint of white teeth – the Todoroki Shouto version of a jawdrop, she assumed. All this made for quite an intense look.
"What?" she asked hesitantly.
"Intense," Todoroki mumbled under his breath. Momo almost scoffed at the hypocrisy, but he added, "None of this is what I was talking about."
"But," he ran his thumb over the side of the modestly sized pile. "If you've come up with this many mistakes, then I don't see the problem." Todoroki flipped through the pages before letting out a snort. "Complete with diagrams," he added quietly to himself.
Momo snatched her project away from his unappreciative, judgmental hands.
"I don't fully understand the roots of your power, and the extent of it," Todoroki clarified. "I assumed you'd understand the weaknesses and areas of improvements of your quirk yourself. Better than anybody else could."
She crossed her arms defensively, papers hugged tightly to her chest. "Still you counted 13 mistakes?" Momo felt her heart drop. She was so sure he'd been talking about her choice of weaponry. "What were you talking about then?"
"Faults, not mistakes," he stated. "Faults are what one describes an error in form or stance. What astounded me was how you couldn't manage even a basic stance. Of course, faults are common, and anyone can make them."
Momo's brows furrowed at the stab at her abilities. She opened her mouth to remind him she was, indeed, 'anyone', but he continued.
"And anyone can afford to make a fault from time to time, but as scholarship students, we can't. Even if the rest of the class doesn't really perform, they've still proven themselves at the entrance exam. We have to grab whatever opportunity we get. They have a head start. And still, hardly anyone at U.A. makes faults like this."
Momo felt her throat tighten at this, and heart quiver in shame. So not only was she not the level at which a recommendation student should be performing, but she was below the average U.A. teen as well. Why had she ever been chosen in the first place?
"But I have a feeling the reason why you have never really taken this into account is because you rely so heavily on your quirk," Todoroki leaned back in thought, and was talking as if to himself. His thumb drummed aimlessly against the surface of his desk. "I mean, to see you improve and dissect on only your quirk where other areas are so clearly at fault – class example of tunnel vision."
"Everyone's like that," she interjected. He gave her a sidelong look. "Everyone focuses only on their quirk."
"They don't," he said bluntly, and Momo's teeth grit at his rebuttal. "Most people's abilities rely on their body able to physically support or compensate for their quirk. The only exceptions are probably you and Uraraka. Possibly Tokoyami. You all could use your quirks regardless of the weakness of your body. My tolerance ability would be very much lower if I didn't follow strict protocol. In hindsight, Tokoyami was a very bad matchup for you, someone so slow to act."
Momo glared at him. Why had she even bothered coming to him of all people? She was pulled back to attention as Todoroki motioned for her to give him her wad of notes. Her arms tightened her grip around them possessively, narrowing her eyes at him suspiciously.
He gave her a deadpanned stare.
She sighed and handed them over. After shooting her an irately quizzical look, he pointed to a diagram on the first page and she leaned forward to better see. It was a bird's eye view of the first action, Tokoyami's Beast slamming into her.
"Here," he said. "Anyone's natural instinct would be to jump. But instead, you defended."
"Well of course! If I'd jumped, the beast would have just swatted me out of bounds midair."
"Then mid-air you would design something to help you. To fall slower, or to angle the way you were thrown. Just suggestions. I don't know exactly how your quirk works or its limitations. Dodging to the side would have worked too."
Momo didn't hear anything beyond 'fall slower.' That could have actually worked… a parachute's molecular composition was easy to produce as well. She leaned closer, one hand on Todoroki's desk, another gripping the back of his seat.
"Then here," he continued, her attention and curiosity at what he was saying increasing with each word. He flipped to the third page smoothly, as if he himself had designed them. "You had an opening here. The objective was to get away from the boundary line, but you were dazed-"
"I was not dazed," she snapped. "I was thinking of what I could create which could blow him away."
"There is no time for thought on the battlefield."
"Well my quirk needs thinking for it to work."
"I don't understand your quirk," he said indignantly, as if not knowing insulted him as a person.
He really was curious wasn't he? Momo sighed. "The objects I create don't just appear. I have to create them from the molecular level. So if my concentration level breaks and the molecules don't form properly at any one point, the object will come out crooked or faulty."
Todoroki gave the papers a hard look. "Your quirk is too much of a hassle."
"Well I'm sorry for being born with such a hassle." She huffed.
"Don't apologize. It's you that suffers," he said stoically. "Unless you find a way to make your creations instinctual. How can you not have done this already?"
"I create at least 50 different weapons regularly."
He was getting frustrated. She just rolled her eyes. "I'm glad you're getting some insight as to how difficult it is being me."
"I'm amazed people even deemed you U.A. level." It was one thing for her to think it, but to hear it from someone else just irked her to no end.
"If we were actual friends, I'd so have smacked you for that," she snapped, wondering for a split second if she'd crossed a line.
"With your physical ability, I probably wouldn't have felt it," Todoroki said without missing a beat. She resumed fuming. He turned to the next page. "And here. Why wouldn't you take this opportunity to blindside him? For a while, you were out of his line of vision, not only could you have leapt out of the way, you could have thrown something at him."
"What do you mean 'his blind side?'"
He turned instantly at this, two-foot gap between them forgotten, locking incredulous, mismatched eyes with hers. "When his shadow beast swoops away, it can't immediately turn. It's like a yo-yo. It has to take an arc, or else shrink back to make a sharp tu-"
"I know that. I'm not an idiot." Now he was just completely ignoring any mental prowess she had. "I meant that he doesn't have a blind side. Even when facing away, if Tokoyami is looking at you, the Beast can see everything through him."
They stared at each other a bit, neither wanting to back down, although Momo knew she was right this time. Momo – 1, Shoto – ….probably 4.
Todoroki gave in first, turning to look back down at the papers, hand raised to his mouth in thought. They stayed like that for a while, him glaring so hard at the notes she was scared he'd burn a hole through them; staring for so long she forgot what it was he was even contemplating.
Momo had gotten distracted by the border of the two colors on the top of his head. His white side was a stark, crisp white, and in the sunlight pouring in through the windows, it seemed to give off an almost ethereal glow, and looked feather soft. In harsh contrast was the deep red of his fiery side; a brilliant, piercing crimson. A few strands would blow over to the snowy side every now and then, making the white seem softer and the red seem brighter.
"Midoriya has notes as well."
She barely contained her jump at Todoroki's voice cutting through her distracted thoughts.
"Are you saying you give up?" she smirked down at him.
"No," wrinkles formed at the bridge of his nose and he scoffed, as if the mere thought of him giving up was repulsive. "I'm merely saying seeing things from a different angle may help. I heard from Iida his notes are quite detailed."
She smiled. "You're really impressed by him aren't you."
Todoroki raised his chin ever so slightly. "I'm just speaking fact."
Momo let out a snort of laughter, straightening up from his desk, and picking up her papers. Classic Todoroki, unable to acknowledge anyone.
"But yes, I am."
She froze, staring at him in complete shock as he looked absently ahead. He had changed. The difference was ever so subtle, but he had. Before he had been aloof, a lone wolf, rarely acknowledging another's existence, let alone praising them. He seemed more…open now. Or as open as he could be, she supposed.
"There's more to you than one would think, isn't there?" He looked up at her from between his bangs. She bopped him over the top of his head with her rolled-up notes. "Thank you, Todoroki."
And then she left, off to find Midoriya, with Todoroki staring confusedly after her.
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