AN: Quick aside, Shoto, Natsuo, Fuyumi, and Touya will not be appearing in this story, it's not a story about them. Also, it's going to be weird writing Enji as the bad guy again.
The words echoed in her mind with the crisp clarity of midwinter snow. The tone was thick, heavy, dry, and cold.
So very cold.
And Rei knew cold. For whatever it was worth, her own quirk was capable of producing the coldest temperatures in all of Japan. Her control over ice should have meant that she could have become a hero, a great one if she put the effort into it. Early on, that was what she had wanted to become.
But that dream had died.
Her condition made itself known in middle school, putting a timer on her life and crushing any dream she had of becoming a hero. Even with Japan's health care system, the treatment was expensive, far outside of the realm that her family could ever hope to achieve, in large part because of how strong her quirk was, as it made operating dangerous. Especially since the elderly couple that adopted her had their own problems to worry about.
In short, she had accepted her fate.
Then, the very thing that had made her condition worse had given her a ray of hope.
"I want your quirk," Endeavour had told her firmly, a serious look in his eyes that was too cold even for her. She had heard about him a lot on the news , how he was the only person trying to surpass All Might. Before she met him, she would have thought that drive a good thing.
But just from a few words with him, it was clear. That drive was all he had.
She remembered staring at him, unsure of what to say, or what to do. This was the number two pro hero talking to her, directly to her, with more knowledge about who she was than she was comfortable with. He even clutched her favorite flower in his hand, bending its stem as he held it in front of her like it was some consolation prize to her life.
It wasn't how her six year old self thought that she would get married.
Rei tapped her fingers on her desk at work, staring at the same screen she had been staring at for the past two hours. No, that wasn't right. She was going to be married to Enji Todoroki on July seventh, even though they were not engaged.
The terms were clear. He would pay for her treatment, make sure that her medical needs would be taken care of, and in exchange, she would marry him a year later. And give him as many children as he wanted.
In order to live, she had to give up her life.
That sounded far more romantic than it was.
The contract was long, thick, and filled to the brim with legal speak that sounded oh so foreign to her. Endeavour's lawyers were some of the most callous men and women she had ever met, but they had been clear, telling her what everything in the contract meant, and how it was legal. That still bothered her, marriage as part of a contract being legal. That felt so barbaric.
But her depression, her desperation, her everything, had forced her hand to sign that paper.
"Hey, Rei," Her floor manager, Mrs. Yoshizawa tapped lightly on her office door and smiled sweetly. The woman's long black hair and blue eyes had made her popular with upper management, and had likely resulted in her promotions, and subsequent marriage to one of the board member's sons.
In Rei's case, they had said that her grey eyes looked dead, and that she always seemed so sad.
Though it could also be that Yoshizawa was stacked.
Rei looked up and forced a slight smile on her face. She could feel that it didn't look genuine, but kept it up by habit. Why was she smiling? She didn't have a reason to smile.
"What can I help you with?" she said in a polite tone that had just been how she talked to everyone since middle school.
Yoshizawa gave a light frown. She always did that whenever Rei wasn't genuine, which was always. People were hard. "Well, it's nothing really, I just wanted to check on , umm, well, you seem,"
"Sadder?" Rei asked for her. Why was everyone so afraid to be direct? It wasn't like honesty was going to break her.
A wince spread across Yoshizawa's face told Rei that she had hit the nail on her head. Oh, she was being too blunt again.
"I mean, yeah, did your surgery not go well?" There was genuine concern in Yoshizawa's voice.
Now Rei felt bad, well, worse. She placed a hand over the ugly jagged scar on her chest. Her blouse was thin enough that she could feel its every bump. "No, it was a success. I'm still recovering, but the doctors said I should be fine now, they even said I can start exercising soon."
"Then why do you act like you—"
Want to die?
Yoshizawa shook her head again and smiled brightly this time. "Well, if that's the case why don't you join—"
"No thank you Mrs. Yoshizawa, I'm not really interested in drinking," Or the socializing that it entailed. "But, I'm happy you asked." Rei put on her best fake smile by closing her eyes and tilting her head to the side. People were exhausting. "Besides I still need to rest a bit."
"Oh, well, I see, I was just wondering because I know a great guy, he's your type, a bit on the quiet side, awkward, but he's really funny and I know that you would absolutely love him," Despite how certain Yoshizawa sounded, Rei was anything but certain. "I mean, well, in the nicest way, you're getting out of the dating age you know, isn't it about time for you to settle down?"
If Rei was spiteful, or even remotely proud of the fact, she would have replied that she was actually going to get married next summer to the number two pro hero. But she did not take pride in any of that. It was private, it wasn't something to talk about. It was just a business deal. Even if in a few more months she would never see Yoshizawa again.
But for now she needed to stay friendly. She still had bills to pay, and she still needed to feed herself, so she still needed a job.
"I'm sorry, but I'm really not interested in dating anyone right now, but when I am you'll be the first to know."
Even if Rei hadn't meant what she said, the excited look on Yoshizawa's face almost made her feel a bit guilty.
The freezing November air put a light smile on Rei's face. The winter months always made her feel just a bit more lively. It could be a side effect of her quirk, given how the cold never really bothered her, or it could just be her personality was the kind that loved nothing more than the peace of a winter day curled up with a blanket and reading a book. Because fuck people.
How the hell was she going to be a mother?
Sure, she read that becoming a mother would change a person.
Everyone said that being married made them happy.
Every book she read had some man showing up and fixing all of her problems.
Her man had shown up in a suit and a contract before he fixed her problem.
Her heart started pounding in her chest.
Her breathing became short.
Her eyes were wide.
What was she going to do?
Why did she sign that contract?
Why did she let herself get trapped like that?
What was she going to do?
There was no escape, was there? She already took the procedure, she already signed her freedom away for the sake of her life. Could she give him what he wanted and then divorce him? Would that work? He didn't seem like the type that would be happy about that, he didn't seem like the type to be happy about anything.
Oh hey, common ground.
But that wasn't a way out.
A way out.
A way out.
Rei started at the spot that she normally stood during the five or so minutes it took for her train to arrive. It was near one of the support columns, close enough to the waiting lines so she wouldn't have to struggle if there was a rush, but far enough away that she didn't have to look at the rails. That spot was her threshold, her limit until the train arrived.
Or, it used to be. Today she stood closer to the tracks.
That was a way out.
She took a step back.
She hadn't been so desperate to live just to throw her life away.
"Outta the damn way!"
A hit to the back.
The tug of her bag.
A choice made for her.
The light of the train.
The pounding of someone's footsteps.
A breath frozen in her chest.
That was it huh?
Given how she never got to choose anything in life before now, why should her own death be any different?
The noise, the screaming, then, silence.
Something warm surrounded her, warm, welcoming, and completely still. She never hit the ground, the train never hit her. She was pulled backward, on to the waiting platform and that was when she saw her savior.
A mop of mossy green hair, a cheerful smile, and an aura of heroism that Endeavour wished he had. An unfamiliar feeling shot through Rei. Her emotions went haywire and she didn't know what to feel, other than gratitude. Gratitude that she was still alive, gratitude that this hero had saved her, and just gratitude in general. She smiled, just a bit, her hand on his chest as he held her close.
"Thank you." She muttered, still trying to find her breath.
Was this what a good mood felt like?
He stared at her, his green eyes going wide, his mouth slightly open in a cute but slightly stupid way. There was something about the freckles on his face that made her want to smile at them, there was something about the way that he hand felt braced against her back. It was strange. Not strange in a bad way, but strange in a good way.
Her feet touched the ground, and time flowed again.
She was safe, the train was coming to a stop, and the large, sticky-fingered villain that had stolen her bag was getting away.
"Uhh," She pushed a loose strand of her hair back and then pointed up the stairs. "Thank you, but, uhh, shouldn't you be going after him?"
"Huh?" He looked genuinely confused.
He had to be new. Was he younger than her?
That felt weird.
He looked towards the runaway villain and his face fell. "Oh crap! Uhh, sorry right! I uhh, stay safe!"
He took off, running up the same stairs the villain took. "Hey wait come back!"
Rei snorted and smiled. Well, that was one goofy hero.
"Oh wow," one of her fellow passengers said. "I can't believe you got saved by Deku, what was it like?"
"Uhh," Rei blinked, "It was like getting rescued by anyone else?"
That apparently didn't please them.
Still, Rei paused and then looked for her phone, only to stop and then remember that her phone was in her bag. Guess she'd have to search for who Deku was when she got home.
At least she already had her ticket.
AN: IZUREI! Don't worry, depressed Rei is temporary! Happy Rei is going to come soon!