Hello dear readers!
First of all, I wish you all a happy and fruitful new year. Second, I want to apologize for how long it took me to upload this chapter. I don't want to make excuses, but rather explain why: I initially expected this to be about ~5,000 words in length. My first draft was finished at 8,000 instead, the reason being Todoroki. It was hard to quickly make him say and do some things... in short - Shouto was resisting. A lot. After that, the feedback from my beta readers came, one of the critiques being serious enough that I needed to expand on some things, especially with Yaoyorozu. The result is over 11,000 words of a chapter.
But I think it was worth it.
Third, I'll respond to reviews and discuss something after the chapter ends.
And finally, enjoy the read :).
Ps. Sorry for not including a "plot so far" part. This document is long enough at it is... Sorry once again.
Todoroki was looking at the ceiling.
He blinked twice, realizing that he was lying on the floor for some time now. After his disaster of a performance at the training and a solitary dinner, Shouto went straight to his Japanese-style room. He changed to more casual clothes and lied down. Usually, he was able to relax on tatami… not this time though. He was still restless.
And, as he realized, he was also unproductive.
He really needed to get a grip and finally talk to Yaoyorozu properly. It was one thing if Shouto was performing poorly. Him affecting the rich girl's performance was another. Despite having a little to no opportunity, Yaoyorozu made a mistake that resulted in their loss. That never happens. Not with her.
It was his fault.
He will apologize to her for his outburst. He'll approach her when she'll be free today... but he had no idea when that would be! Is she going to tutor someone today? Spend her time at the library? Study alone? Hang out with friends? Any other plans? Shouto didn't know, he really should have talked to her before today's classes started. That would be the easiest solution... If you can consider talking to your crush you have wronged easy...
Todoroki heard the firm knocking on his door. He raised his eyebrow in curiosity, before lazily getting up and approaching the door. He opened it just to face…
Shouto blinked. Kirishima, flashing his toothy grin at him. Midoriya Izuku was standing next to him, looking somewhat nervous and as if lost.
"What?" Todoroki asked exactly what was on his mind.
"Wanna play, Todoroki?" Eijiro said, bringing out the pack of cards.
"No," the half-and-half boy deadpanned with his poker face on. "I'm not in the mood to hang out with people. Sorry," he added after a moment of consideration.
"Well, don't be like that!" Eijiro said, his smile not disappeared as he was scratching the back of his head. "I've already tried Bakugo, but he slammed the door into my face. He's super pissed-off, I tell you! So..."
"So?" Todoroki crossed his arm.
"So I invited Midoriya! Right?" Kirishima tapped Deku's arm and the latter nodded. "Then we were passing through nearby and we thought we invite you too!"
"Passed nearby? Impossible. Midoriya's room is on the second floor. Mine's on the fifth." Todoroki frowned.
"Oh, details!" Kirishima countered and Izuku looked even more nervous. "Come on buddy, don't make us beg!"
"It will be more fun in three and you are the only one we can ask for at the moment," Midoriya said uncertainly. The silence followed until Todoroki sighed.
"Fine." He said finally, yielding. He had a feeling neither of them was here for a card game, though. Being his classmates and friends, they must have noticed his bad mood and most likely wanted to make sure he was okay. He couldn't blame them for that.
Shouto let his classmates in. Come to think of, it would be best to talk to Yaoyorozu when he'll be sure she is free. The card game can keep Shouto distracted for long enough for it to be certain.
Todoroki had some expectations of how the "card game" will go... But so far, his expectations were not met.
He expected his classmates to start asking him questions. Instead, they seemed genuinely interested in playing.
He expected some more complicated card game than Old Maid. But Kirishima insisted on that one. In his words: "coz it's simple and fun!" The name of the game reminded Todoroki of a maid, who retired from serving his household due to back injury.
He expected the game to feel awkward, but he found himself relaxing instead. Soon, he was already bantering with friends. Kirishima was lively talking about his match today, showing the bandage over his right arm.
If there were expectations that have been met, it was that Midoriya would end up losing the most.
"Again!" Deku said, experiencing defeat once more. His expression matched that of a lactose-intolerant individual looking at cheese.
"Too bad, Midoriya! Hope for better luck next time!" Kirishima said, shuffling the deck for another game. Then, another session started.
"Since when are you playing card games, Kirishima?" Shouto asked dryly, analyzing his hand.
"Been a while," was the answer. "You know, I like hanging out with Bakugo and card games are good for that. These don't involve him yelling." Kirishima smirked.
"Doesn't involve him being himself, you mean..."
"Unless Kacchan loses, I bet," Izuku added with a smile, discarding a pair of cards. Both Shouto and Ejiro looked at the greenhead in astonishment. "What? Kacchan is-"
"Well, Midoriya!" Kirishima praised, tapping the boy on his back. "Discarding a pair right away! We need to throw a party for this!" he said, embarrassing Izuku a bit.
"Please don't," Todoroki said. Not having any pair to discard, he took one card from Deku. No luck.
"Anyways..." Kirishima took Shouto's card and then discarded a pair on his own. "How it's going with Yaoyorozu?" the boy asked and Todoroki flinched. White-redhead narrowed his eyes, immediately tensing.
"Not much," he answered and hoped the question was accidental.
"Yaoyorozu-san?" Izuku wondered out loud in clear surprise. "What about her?"
"Nothing, " Shouto responded, looking Deku in the eyes. The boy seemed genuinely confused... The same couldn't be said about Kirishima. That made Todoroki narrow his eyes even more.
"Don't glare like that," Red Riot said nonchalantly. "You're not 'Earlyroki' anymore, bro. Remember?"
"Todoroki-kun, it's your turn again!" Izuku reminded nervously after discarding another pair. Todoroki blinked a few times, his expression returning to his usual poker face. Once again, the son of Endeavor didn't have any cards to discard, so he took another one from Midoriya. He then sighed.
"What's up? No luck, Todoroki?" Kirishima asked, looking at his hand. He took a card from Shouto before discarding a pair.
"As you can see," the boy answered and raised his card-holding hand a bit for emphasis. Deku took one card from Kirishima and discarded the next pair.
"Wow, Midroyia! Your luck has turned!" Eijiro grinned.
"Yeah!" Izuku nodded.
"You are right, Kirishima." Shouto took a card from Midoriya, "This time around, I am apparently out of luck", he then discarded a pair.
"By the way, I wasn't talking about an Old Maid, bro," the spiky-haired teen responded. Todoroki raised his dichromatic brows."Rather than old maids, I'd like to talk about young schoolgirls. Like Yaoyorozu." he said and he took a more stern expression. Izuku looked around confused, while Todoroki didn't react. The silence continued until Shouto sighed and extended his hand towards the red-haired boy.
"Take one. You haven't discarded anything."
"Don't change the subject, Todoroki".
"Keep to your own business, Kirishima." Shouto hissed back, making his friend frown. Red Riot was opening his mouth, but Deku beat him to it.
"Truth to be told, Todoroki-kun, you're been down today... Ever since the morning," the green-haired boy said uncertainly, "and you did poorly during our exercises today... relatively speaking!" Midoriya added hastily. Todoroki wasn't offended. It was a fact. "So when Kirishima-kun invited me to play card games with you, I thought it could help to cheer you up... Spending some time together as friends."
"Yeah," the toothy boy nodded as they kept playing the game. "You aren't at your best today, bro. We just wanna help, if you let us."
"I am not having a good day, that's for sure," Shouto said, looking at his hand. He discarded a pair. Either Deku hasn't drained all of his luck between games or losing more was just straight-up impossible. "I appreciate you being here. But Kirishima, don't assume that Yaoyorozu has anything to do with this."
"I don't think she does. But Mina thinks so," was Red Riot's response. Deku looked between the two boys, visibly confused once again.
"Eh? What does Yaoyorozu-san have to do with anything?"
"She doesn't, leave it." Todoroki countered, before narrowing his eyes at Kirishima. "Why are you so stubborn about this?"
"I wouldn't be... but Mina asked me to talk to you about it," Eijiro replied with a grin. "She noticed some things today and-"
"Your girlfriend would do good to stick to her own damn business," Todoroki snarled back and his friend's smile disappeared.
"But...-" Izuku interjected before Kirishima managed to respond. "Isn't getting involved in other people's businesses exactly what heroes are supposed to do? Especially if people need help?" He asked no-one in particular. Todoroki gazed at his green-haired friend, his features softening. True. Midoriya butting into his business was what changed Shouto's life for the better, after all. Kirishima did well to take Deku as his ally, even if the latter was clueless of the whole Yaoyorozu situation. The boy gazed at Eijiro once again.
"We are your friends, Todoroki. We just want to see if we can help," Kirishima said. That was what Shouto had in mind at the time.
"If you don't want to talk about it, then it is fine," Deku said nervously, his hands raised defensively. "Just in case you need it, you can always talk to us," he said, but Shouto reminded unconvinced. "Remember? You and Iida cheering me up? When I had an internship with Sir Nighteye?" he asked and saw recognition in the boy's eyes. "I could count on you back then. You can count on me in return." Deku gave him a small smile.
Shouto sighed and then silence followed. He wrestled with his own thoughts for a bit, before from one of his friends to the other before sighing again. The 'Midoriya Effect' was in place, weakening Shouto's resolve to resist, diminishing his need to stay alone with his problem. Thus, Todoroki's features softened once again.
"Fine. We can talk," he said after a while. He addressed Kirishima. "But let me say this: Ashido would really do great, had she put as much energy and interest into studying. Would be great for her grades."
"Haha, that's true!" Red Riot admitted, "but it's just how she is. Believe me or not, she's really great at noticing and remembering things around her... Also, she gives her all during exercises!" he raised his bandaged arm on emphasis. Shouto nodded in recognition.
"So, what is bothering you, Todoroki-kun?" Izuku inquired.
"It is about Yaoyorozu, after all," Shouto admitted, leaning back and looking at the ceiling. "It's just... that I asked her out," he admitted after a moment.
"R- really? That's so brave, Todoroki-kun!" Midoriya's eyes widened in surprise. Kirishima kept quiet.
"But she rejected me," the half-and-half boy continued gloomily, making Izuku tense. "And I haven't slept well because of it. That's about it, more or less."
"I'm sorry to hear that!" Deku mumbled out swiftly. He then started mumbling some more, but it was barely recognizable.
"Sorry, Todoroki," Kirishima said after a while. "But this is not the end of the world, you know? Just because she rejected you once does not mean you won't have a chance in the future," Red Riot stated matter-of-factly.
"That is not all. I..." Shouto started and hesitated. "I didn't react well to it. I know I shouldn't, but I did it."
"What do you mean?" Izuku inquired slowly.
"I yelled at her," Shouto admitted, looking away a bit.
"Oh, man..." Eijiro summed up with a sigh, while Deku flinched with a troubled expression.
"She went back to her room," Todoroki continued gloomily, "slammed the door behind her. I regretted immediately," Todoroki looked at the ceiling again. "I shouldn't treat her like that... She deserves better, much better..." he paused for a moment. "I had trouble sleeping that night..." both of his friends nodded after another pause. Deku fidgeted in place before speaking up.
"I don't have much experience with girls, Todoroki-kun... none at all," he admitted, blushing slightly. "But you and Yaoyorozu-san were always at good terms, right? I think you should go and apologize to her... I'm sure she'll accept... She's very kind." Izuku said. "I know it's not much... but at least you might still have a chance in the future?" Midoriya was clearly unsure of his own words. Todoroki didn't blame him - after all, by Deku's own admission, he had no experience with girls. Still, he was trying to help and Shouto was grateful for that.
"I was going to do that, Midoriya" the half-and-half boy responded.
"Why did Yaoyorozu reject you, though?" Kirishima suddenly asked, leaning forward and Shouto blinked in confusion.
"Why she rejected me?" he questioned, frowning.
"I think the fact she did means she... isn't interested in me in that way, " Todoroki stated after a while, once again looking at his celling. "I think she might respect me, my merit as the future hero, but nothing more," he said and Deku opened his mouth, but Red Riot raised his hand to silence the greenhead.
"How do you know she doesn't like you?" Kirishima inquired, touching his chin.
"She rejected me," the half-and-half boy said, crossing his arms.
"She did. But that doesn't necessarily means she doesn't like you," Eijiro said, straightening himself. Both of his friends gave him a questioning look. Deku looked as if he was about to say something, but has given up. Todoroki, however, gave Red Riot a response.
"How can you be so sure, Kirishima? You already have Ashido. You weren't rejected." Shouto was surprised at the amount of bitterness in his voice.
"Man, that's not fair, you know?" Kirishima pouted, crossing his arms. "Yeah, Mina and I are dating right now. But that doesn't mean she had never rejected me before!" he exclaimed, both his friends looking at him in askance.
"But... You two started dating at the beginning of this school year, right?" Deku asked and Eijiro nodded. "Right after the principal's speech?" Another nod. "In public!" Yet another nod.
"She said yes, I saw that. Even if I didn't care much, " Todoroki interjected. "So, what's your point?" He asked and Eijiro exhaled.
"You guys, you just assumed it was the first time I asked her out, right? Because it was not!" Kirishima exclaimed.
"It wasn't?" Deku asked, fidgeting, "we haven't seen any other time, though..."
"Precisely," Todoroki nodded.
"Oh yeah, because asking girls out in public is what everyone is doing. Totally normal!" Kirishima responded sarcastically. Izuku widened his eyes, and then scratched the back of his head. He blushed, looking away. Todoroki gazed at the floor, feeling as silly as Deku. Of course, Shouto could tell from his short experience. Asking the girl out in private would be much more preferable than public confession. After all, Endeavor's son himself complained earlier that girls seem to move in herds.
"So... What does that have to do with my situation?" Todoroki inquired after a moment of awkward silence.
"I was getting to it," Kirishima responded, "The first time I asked Mina out was months ago. The beginning of the last semester... I did it in private." Eijiro blushed slightly, scratching his cheek. Still, he has not averted his gaze. "And she rejected me back then..." he told his friends and they haven't responded. "To be honest, I sympathize with you Todoroki. I know how it feels," the bleached redhead scratched the back of his head. Todoroki nodded in direction of his friend. "It hurt, but I decided to do something about it... I asked her why she rejected me."
"What was the reason? I- if we may know, of course!" Izuku said, still fidgeting in place. Shouto looked at Kirishima in askance. Ashido and Yaoyorozu clearly were different people... but still, if there was anything that could help...
"She said to me she still waits for something..." he said and seeing his classmate's clueless expressions, he elaborated: "I need to explain that one... So, Mina and I knew each other since middle school. Before I get into U.A, I went through a lot of preparation. Working on my character... Training my Quirk and body... Image change," he motioned to his spiky red hair. "When I began the first year at U.A, I kinda promised something to her. Kinda... Long story short, I needed to prove to her that I left my old, pathetic, middle-school self behind. That I genuinely live up to my new image. I failed to do it the first time I asked her out... I succeeded in the second time." By now, Eijiro's cheeks were similar in colour to his hair.
"What are you saying?" Todoroki asked, his hand on his chin.
"Mina had a reason why she rejected me. She was waiting for me to deliver what I promised," Kirishima explained, clearly embarrassed. Still, he looked Todoroki directly in the eyes. "And when I learned that reason, I knew what I had to do. It took more work on my part, but all in all, it ended well." Kirishima explained and gave his friend a toothy smile. "You know this already, bro, but approaching the girl and asking her out requires some guts. A specific type of bravery," he said, patting Deku at the back. "I think you have the right to ask the girl for her reasons. Of course, the girl might prefer to keep them for herself but..." Kirishima paused for a brief moment, looking at Shouto's expression. A different kind of expression than the stern one. "We know Yaoyorozu. She was always a very kind person, even in rejecting boys."
"She always seemed to respect you, Todoroki-kun," Izuku interjected, leaning towards Shouto a bit. "I'm... I'm sure that once you talk it out with her, things will get better..."
"And what if she just doesn't like me?" Shouto asked, his poker face on. But deep inside, he felt better.
"Well, maybe she doesn't. But maybe one day she will. Who knows," Ejiro said with a smile, leaning back. "But dude, you won't find out about that with doing nothing... And it is always better to act than regret things later... After all, chivalry...-"
"-is a life led without regrets! A quote from Crimson Riot!" Deku, the local superhero fanboy finished with a spark in his eyes.
"Exactly, Midoriya!" Red Riot praised his classmate. He then turned to Shouto. "So, Todoroki? What are you going to do?"
The half-and-half boy looked down, contemplating. As he already planned, he will talk to Yaoyorozu and apologize to her... But this time around, he definitely is going to go to the bottom of things. Find out her reasons - she certainly has some. Yaoyorozu was kind - even when rejecting him, she apologized. This angered Todoroki at first, but now it was obvious to him that it was an act of kindness. If the class vice-president was kind enough to consider his feelings and apologize, then she'll likely find kindness to explain her reasons to him. Even if she simply doesn't return his feelings, Kirishima had a point - it doesn't mean it will neccesarily last forever.
Only one way to find out...
"I planned to apologize to her in the first place," Shouto responded after a while. "But now, I'll try to find out her reasons as well. And do something about them, if possible. Thank you," he said, bowing his head to them. "You helped me a lot".
"No problem bro, no need to bow!" Ejiro said, raising his hands a bit.
"B- but I didn't do anything!" Midoriya scratched his head nervously.
"No," the multi-colored hair boy straightened himself. "Without you, Midoriya, there wouldn't be this conversation in the first place..." he looked at his other friend. "Someone clearly had a reason to bring you here."
"If you say so..." Izuku said and Ejiro smiled brightly.
"Can I ask you two for this talk to remain between us?" Shouto asked.
"Of course!" Midoriya responded.
"Sure. Don't worry about it." Kirishima said with a thumb up. "I don't have to tell Mina all the details".
"You don't have to tell her anything... Although she'll pester you about it, I assume," Shouto exhaled.
"I'll just tell her I talked with you about it. Should be enough for the time being," Kirishima assured the boy. "But anyway, let's return to the game... By the looks of it, you're going to have your butt kicked this time around, Todoroki!" he smirked.
"No kidding," Todoroki nodded his head.
They continued to play the Old Maid and as expected, this time around Shouto has lost. Then a few more games followed until both of Todoroki's classmates have left. Not before hearing thanks from Todoroki once more. Being left alone with his own thoughts, Shouto smiled slightly. Ejiro's advice might be simple and obvious, but not to people like Endeavor's son. It was good that he received it. But that was not important. The important thing is, Shouto still had some hope in his heart.
Come to think of it, his classmates are future heroes. Giving people hope is what heroes do.
The time has come.
Todoroki closed the door to his dorm, being restless. He had planned to wait until late afternoon to approach Yaoyorozu, but he couldn't prolong it any longer. The corridor was silent, which indicated most of his classmates were probably hanging out in the common room. He'll start from there. No matter how many people would be there, he'll ask Yaoyorozu to talk face-to-face. If others have enough courage to confess in public, then Todoroki was sure he could handle asking for a conversation. The boy had half of mind to use an escalator, but he rejected the idea.
What if Yaoyorozu was walking up to the staircase right now?
As unlikely as the scenario would be, Shouto decided to use stairs instead. Just in case. Also, it would give him more time to think...
Without any new and groundbreaking thoughts, he arrived in the common room. It was just as expected. There were a lot of people hanging in there. Some were watching the news on TV. Some were busy with small talks and gossips. Some were interested in an arm-wrestling match between the Dark Shadow and Sado. The competition was so conspicuous that nobody minded Todoroki's arrival.
Some of his female classmates were hanging out here as well. Hagakure, Tsuyu, and Uraraka. Yaoyorozu, on the other hand, was nowhere near in sight. That was not a problem. If she was not in the common room, she could be found either in her dorm or maybe in the U.A. library. Shouto decided to bet on the first option. After a slight hesitation, he walked past the common room, directing himself towards the right side of their Height Alliance building. Exactly where girls' dorms were located. He didn't get to go far, as two people arrived from the nearest corner. One was Kyoka Jiro.
The other was Momo Yaoyorozu.
Both parties halted instantly, gazing at each other. Momo wore casual clothes, mainly consisting of a t-shirt and shorts. Her dark, beautiful hair was currently down, free from being restrained by the usual ponytail. All of that gave her a very approachable look. Good. Shouto needed any small help he could get. Todoroki's heartbeat hastened as he opened his mouth.
"Todoroki-san...-" Momo said at the same time. Both ace students briefly traded gazes and then looked away. Moment of uncomfortable silence followed before Shouto made himself look at his crush again. He raised his brows. She was still gazing away and she looked visibly tense. It was until Jiro tapped her arm and gave her best friend a look. Todoroki couldn't tell what that look was supposed to mean, but Kyoka didn't give him the time to figure it out. She walked past them and headed to the common room.
They were left alone. Do it, Todoroki!
"Yaoyorozu... I would like to talk. In private," he added, eyeing her face. To his relief, the girl looked at him and nodded. Shouto took the opportunity to try gaze in her pretty black orbs... But the girl averted them. Todoroki swallowed. "Where would you like to...?"
"Actually, Todoroki-san..." Momo cut him off. "I was actually thinking... we could talk on campus..." she suggested. Todoroki raised his brow in a question and Yaoyorozu's hand went up, her finger playing with a lock of her own hair. "There would be... more peace around," she added. Shouto turned his head towards the common (and loud) room before nodding. That was not a bad idea. On the one hand, he would like to speak with her in a more private setting than campus, but on the other hand, it would be more awkward than necessary to invite her to his room. Or vice versa. Talking on campus was also definitely better than doing so in the common areas.
"Yes, we can do that," he agreed with a nod. The rich girl exhaled silently and returned the gesture. Todoroki was the first to make a move and as soon as he did, Yaoyorozu followed him.
Both attempted to appear invisible to their classmates when heading towards the main exit.
They were walking in silence.
The hour was not so young anymore and the sun was slowly but surely ending its journey for the day. The sporadic and weak breeze provided favourable conditions for an aimless walk. It was well and good because that was what Shouto and Momo were doing at the moment - wandering at the U.A campus without any specific destination.
Not that Todoroki didn't have a goal in mind. He just wondered if his classmate did as well. He gazed at her and let himself be distracted with the wind dancing on her black locks. The boy blinked, before directing his interest at her profile. Yaoyorozu looked as if she was lost in thoughts of her own. The two of them didn't share a single word once they walked out of Height Alliance and Todoroki decided it can't stay this way. Things needed to be done. He halted his walk. Yaoyorozu reacted quickly, stopping as well, before facing him.
"Todoroki-san?" the schoolgirl asked quietly. She was looking rather troubled at the moment. Todoroki swallowed, before gathering his resolve once again and bowing before her.
"Please, accept my apologies, Yaoyorozu," he said earnestly. "Yesterday, I disrespected you and I am truly sorry for that. I shouldn't have done that. Please, forgive me," he continued in one breath. He didn't move, his heart beating fast, not even daring to twitch before hearing a response.
"Um... you really don't have to..." Momo said softly and the boy straightened himself. The girl's eyes were widened in surprise, her hands placed before her. "You don't need to go that far... In fact, you don't need to apologize in the first place, Todoroki-san!" Yaoyorozu said in a slight panic, her cheeks slightly pink.
"I... disrespected you yesterday," Todoroki said firmly, looking at Momo's face. The girl's black orbs avoided his gaze. "I regret that... You deserve... to be treated much better..." Shouto said and exhaled. The girl shifted in place, before her gaze stopped at Todoroki's feet.
"Todoroki-san, it was my fault as well..." Yaoyorozu uttered silently and the boy disagreed... His behaviour was not acceptable. It was something his old man would do, though that was not a thing he could just say to her... She wasn't privy to his family circumstances, almost no one was. Even if he decided to explain it to her, right there and right now, he wouldn't even know where to start. What would be an excuse for his action? That his father's treatment left him a mess? That his circumstances made him express anger and frustration easier than anything else? No. His behaviour was his own responsibility now. No excuses. The lack of respect he had shown to her yesterday didn't sit well with him.
"Todoroki-san?" the boy heard Momo's voice, silent but filled with concern. Shouto blinked twice before perking up a bit.
"Sorry," he apologized once again, exhaling. "I was thinking and-..."
"It's okay," Momo cut him off, raising her gaze a bit to meet Todoroki's. It was either Todoroki's imagination or the girl swallowed before taking a deeper breath to speak. "The truth is... If only I handled... the situation from yesterday a bit better... Everything would be..." she halted and averted her gaze. She clenched the fabric of her shirt before speaking again. "Normal..."
"No," Todoroki denied. "What I said yesterday was... my responsibility." He raised his dichromatic brows when the girl shook her head.
"N- no!" Momo protested raising her hands. "If I was more... considerate, you wouldn't do that, Todoroki-san!" she said. It was either a shade of pink on her cheeks or the light was tricking Todoroki's eyes. Quite possible: the sun was already pretty low, giving the sky orange-pinkish look. "You're a kind person..." she added before Shouto could disagree. The girl placed her hands behind her back. "I apologize, Todoroki-san..." she said, bowing her head.
"You don't have to, Yaoyorozu..." Todoroki swallowed, this time he raised his hands in front of him.
"I think I do, Todoroki-san..." Yaoyorozu straightened herself.
"If it wasn't for me..."
"If I acted properly..."
It took them a minute or two before something obvious occurred to them. They were bargaining. They were actually bargaining over which one of them deserved the apology. As soon as the pair realized this, they stopped. Todoroki gazed slightly to the side, scratching his head. Momo fidgeted in place, shifting her center of balance between two legs, unable to stay in place. She then exhaled.
"Um... I'll accept your apology, Todoroki-san, but only if you accept mine," she said to him, looking in his direction.
"Deal," he responded, gazing back at her. He noticed her pretty lips curving up in a small smile. He attempted to respond with a smile on his own. The girl raised her brows before swiftly looking away. Huh? A silence fell afterwards, unless you count the wind dancing on the air and on branches of one sakura tree. There were also footsteps of some people passing by. There weren't many of them, but they weren't unexpected either - they were in public space, after all. Passers-by still threw curious glances at the two 2-A aces, though. Todoroki shifted uncomfortably and Momo distracted herself with a falling sakura petal, when...
"Hello there, Yaoyorozu!" Itsuka Kendo appeared out of nowhere, tapping the girl on her arm. Momo flinched, her head immediately turned to her redhead friend. With a slight annoyance, Shouto looked in the same direction as well and noticed that Kendo arrived in a company of her friend, Setsuna Tokage. They had to butt in just now, out of all times.
"Kendo-san!" Momo exhaled.
"What are you two doing right there, standing in the middle of the walkway?" the redhead asked and continued before her friendly rival could reply. "You two better move away, people are staring at you weirdly. Just take Tokage for example!" she pointed at her green-haired friend with her thumb.
"What'cha mean, Kendo?" the lizard lover countered, arms on her chest. "It is you who noticed them," she shrugged.
"Party pooper," Kendo replied. "Anyway, my advice still stands, you know?" she said to Yaoyorozu once again.
"Maybe you're right, Kendo-san..." Momo admitted, looking away. Itsuka took advantage of that and gazed in the direction of an annoyed Todoroki. The Endeavor's son established brief eye contact with the tomboy for a brief moment. Then something happened.
Itsuka winked at him.
Shouto was never great at reading social clues. He knew that. But, he also knew that Itsuka wasn't exactly neutral here. She could - or at least she thought so - tell what the boy was trying to accomplish here. He talked to her about it before, after all. Todoroki realized that she was not there to annoy or disturb neither him nor Yaoyorozu - though she probably considers embarrassing the latter as a bonus.
No, she was there for a message. And that message was: "move somewhere more private".
Todoroki gave Itsuka a barely noticeable nod. She smirked and let go of Yaoyorozu.
"We'll be off, then. Tokage wants to rant to me about dinosaurs, scales, and feathers!" she said cheerfully.
"You asked for it yourself. Take some responsibility, class rep!" Setsuna grinned back. "Till later, Todoroki, Yaoyorozu!" the fellow recommended student said, as they walked away."
"See ya!" Kendo said. Todoroki only nodded in response and Momo wished her friends a good day. It was back to her and Shouto standing in the same spot once again. This time, however, the atmosphere seemed more relaxed. Whether it was because of Itsuka butting-in or them apologizing to each other, Shouto didn't know. However, he knew that making a suggestion was easier now.
"I think we should really move somewhere, Yaoyorozu... I want to ask you something," he said. Momo looked at him and nodded twice.
"Y- yes," she said quietly, "after you, Todoroki-san".
Todoroki was not sure of his destination. All he really needed was a place protected from the prying eyes. He wouldn't have thought that the park near the campus would do, but the place was large and - at this hour - with very few people. It was almost good enough. The boy looked around.
Some benches here, some benches there. And a lot of sakura trees, with their petals dancing in the wind. Todoroki gazed in Yaoyorozu's direction... Previously she seemed interested in falling petals, so the boy hoped she'll be enjoying the scenery. But it was not the case. The girl was lost in her own thoughts at the moment. The Endeavor's son suppressed the sigh before looking around and noticing something.
One spot, little off the main park area. Protected with shadows cast from the sakura trees. Two figures standing in such a place, Todoroki imagined, would be protected well enough from unwanted attention. This spot will do.
Todoroki swallowed. He'll need to ask Yaoyorozu question or two. He coughed and got the girl's attention. The boy motioned to the spot he had in mind and Yaoyorozu's eye's widened. It seemed as if the girl noticed her surroundings for the first time. Her shoulders stiffened as she closed her eyes and gave the boy a nod. In no time at all, Todoroki's back hit the bark of the tree and Momo did the same next to him. For a brief moment, Shouto wondered on how to formulate his question, but Yaoyorozu didn't give him the luxury of time. She exhaled, shifting in place before speaking.
"Um... What it is, Todoroki-san?" she breathed, not looking at his direction. It was pretty dark, anyways...
"It's..." Todoroki started before halting. The small wave of heat threatened to invade his face, as his heart hastened its pace. He refused to use his Quirk to correct that, however. He wanted to be as honest and open with the girl as possible. "I... understand the decision you made yesterday, Yaoyorozu..." he said, as she shifted in place once again. "But... I want to understand why you did it," he elaborated. "I would like to know why you rejected me," Todoroki finished. For some time, the only sound he could hear was his own heartbeat and the wind. Finally, his crush has spoken.
"I think... I owe you that explanation, Todoroki-san..." Momo said to the boy. He turned into her direction and was surprised that the girl looked in his. "You know... I could clearly see you haven't slept well that night..." she whispered. "Your scar might mask those bags really well... but not the ones under your right eye..." Momo said, before shifting nervously. Todoroki couldn't find any proper words to respond with, so he just nodded.
"It would be good to start from the beginning, I guess..." Yaoyorozu said quietly. "I... am not oblivious to advances from boys, Todoroki-san... I never was..." she paused, giving Todoroki a look, but he didn't react in any visible way. She took a breath and continued. "Most of the time, acting oblivious serves to protect both me and... boys who approach me... sometimes, I had to be more blunt and direct about rejecting some more... open, brave souls," she shifted once again against the tree. "Still, I've always made sure to be as considerate as I could... and I think I failed at it yesterday..." she added with a hint of guilt in her voice. Todoroki, yet again confirmed he understood her with a nod.
"As you surely know, Todoroki-san, I come from an influential hero family..." she continued, raising her head and gazing at the petals above. "And while it is not a law set in stone... I am fairly certain my family would frown upon me if my..." she started playing with one of her locks in the dark, searching for the proper word. "...Partner... would end up not living to my family's standards..."
"So..." Todoroki said after a while, his fingers clenching the bark behind him. "You rejected me because of your family?" he asked, but before Momo could answer, a wave of panic hit him. "Does your family arrange marriages? Quirk marriages?" he asked with anxiety.
"W-what? No!" Momo protested waving her hands. "Nothing of the sort! Where did that idea come from?" she asked, but Shouto flinched and looked away. He wasn't exactly eager to explain that. He remained silent, the girl took a breath before speaking. "As I said, it is not something set in stone... It is just my family would be much more likely approve of someone with... similar status as myself..." she explained, observing the falling petals. "Or at least... someone with the potential to reach status comparable to my family. Family of heroes. In other words..." she looked at him. "Someone who could become a splendid hero in the future. Or someone who already has a high enough status..." she paused as her hands were tracing the tree bark, her body shifting in place ever so slightly. "Like... you, Todoroki-san. Or like Iida-san..." she uttered quietly and Todoroki's heartbeat skyrocketed.
He resolved to calm himself, however. Yaoyorozu has still rejected him, even if by her own admission, her family would be okay with him. If you think about it, that kind of approval wouldn't be surprising. Shouto was the son of Endeavor, the number 1 hero. He was also the ace student in U.A. hero course. And he was admitted through official recommendation, same as Yaoyorozu. It made sense. She also mentioned Iida, who's also from a famous hero family. Don't get over your head, Todoroki.
Besides, you still haven't got your answer. And the thought of Iida made you feel unpleasant.
"You have rejected me, though," Shouto said after a long pause. He turned to face the girl before adding: "Sorry, but I'd like to know the reason..." he asked her and the girl shifted in place once again. She gave him a quick look, before gazing away. Todoroki waited for an answer, but Momo was not giving him any. "Yaoyorozu..." he spoke and she flinched. She took a deep breath.
"It's..." the girl paused and hesitated. "It's just that I... Wanted to..." she looked away, apparently trying to find proper words. When she did, she gazed in Todoroki's direction once again. "I just wanted to keep... the status quo..." Momo whispered.
"The status quo?" Todoroki repeated, his heart beating fast in anxiety. "You mean... You have rejected me because you wanted us to stay..."
"Classmates... A-and friends..." the schoolgirl finished, looking at her feet in relative darkness. "I'm sorry... " she added. Her apology did nothing to calm Shouto's heart; contrary, the young aspiring hero felt even more chaos than before. His back hit the bark once again, as he stared down at the grass... Was this it? The end? Is there nothing to be done...? Todoroki's mind trailed off in different directions - it lasted a while before the boy calmed down a bit... Once he did, he gazed in the girl's direction and realized that his eyes have gotten used to the darkness.
He could see her more clearly... her hands in front of her torso, her fingers moving from time to time... her posture stiff. Her gaze directed at the ground, but not focused at all... Her lips curved down... Her expression... Well... Todoroki blinked.
Whatever she was feeling at the moment, it was nothing positive. The boy's palm rose to meet his chin. It was a moment or two later that something occurred to him. She told him why she decided to reject him, but something was off. She said she wants to keep the status quo. Her family status or approval was not the issue here, apparently. She certainly didn't mind his company before. And there was something she did not say. Todoroki swallowed and took a step toward the girl. Momo looked at him immediately... and he noticed it.
Her gaze was focused somewhere around his shoulder. Not his face, not his eyes. Todoroki took a deep breath before uttering his question.
"How do you feel about me, Yaoyorozu?" he whispered. The girl visibly flinched, before relaxing and slowly facing the boy. She was still gazing at the ground, as she shifted in place. The girl appeared as if she was gathering her resolve before she looked up. Her black orbs found Todoroki's dichromatic ones. And Shouto recognized something in them, something he found for a brief moment yesterday. This moment was brief as well: whatever resolve the girl gathered it was not enough to keep the eye contact for long.
"It's..." she started, as she grabbed the fabric of her shirt. "I..." she tried once more, before failing yet again. She looked away with a look of guilt on her face.
"I..." Todoroki said out loud, surprising the girl. "I like you, Yaoyorozu... I'm sorry if it makes you uncomfortable, but I really do..." he continued, hiding his hands behind his back. He was not going to fight the heat invading his face, nor he was going to control his heavy beating heart. He also couldn't control his hands shaking, hence he hid them from her view. If him stating his feelings first would help her, he'll gladly do so.
The girl didn't look very surprised at his confession... She had heard it already. That fact did nothing to protect her face from getting visibly red, even in the shadows. The girl gathered her resolve once again, her shirt-clenching palms let go of the fabric and joined together in front of her body. Yaoyorozu took a deep breath, looking the boy in his eyes.
That look again...
If the girl was about to say something right now, then she didn't get to do that immediately. Todoroki still hasn't finished.
"Remember how I was at first, Yaoyorozu?" He asked quietly and the girl managed to nod. "At the beginning of our first year, I didn't want to be anyone's friend. I thought it was a waste of time... But even then, I noticed your merit and respected you for it," he went on and Yaoyorozu fidgeted slightly. "You are from an official recommendation, just like me. During our very first test, you scored the best, surpassing me... You were smarter and more resourceful than me and I thought you would make a good class president... Hence I voted for you..." he went on and took a deep breath. "Then the Sports Festival happened... You have lost your confidence, but you recovered from that..." at that, the girl slowly shook her head, before looking in his eyes again.
"It was thanks to your help, Todoroki-san..." she whispered.
"Then months followed..." Shouto continued, not wanting to argue. The moment was as nerve-wracking as it could be already. "And I still respected you greatly... And then... Somewhere along the way... I realized that..." he took a deep breath, hesitating a moment. Making sure he still looks in her twin black orbs, he continued. "That I like you... The way a boy likes a girl..." he said, shifting in place, his hands clenching into fists in desperate attempt to prevent trembling. "I respect and appreciate you, Yaoyorozu... But I... Also, think that you are... really beautiful..." he added with a whisper and the girl shifted in place.
"Todoroki-san..." Momo gasped... Her hand clenched the fabric of her shirt once again, in the middle of her chest. She looked away from the boy's face. "I... I never told you..." she started slowly. Todoroki raised his brows, trying to ignore his hastily beating heart. "I never told you I don't like you back..." the girl took a deep breath and looked into the boy's eyes once again, "because... that is not... true..." she confessed and Todoroki saw it. Her palm was pressed to her chest where her heart was. Her trembling lips. Her gaze... he was certain now what that gaze was.
But besides that gaze, there was also sadness...
"You mean... Yaoyorozu, you...?"
"I... I like you, Todoroki-san..." she confessed quietly. "I apologize... for being unable to say it properly..." at this Momo stepped back a bit. Meanwhile, Todoroki was speechless. Yaoyorozu liked him. Momo Yaoyorozu actually has feelings for him! But the joy of the revelation was swiftly replaced by confusion. She might like you, Shouto, but she still decided to reject you. There is more to this situation than meets the eye...
Luckily, Yaoyorozu wasn't finished yet.
"At the beginning, I was kind of... similar to you..." she said after a long pause. "I... wasn't as cold as you but I... let myself get carried away with my ego..." Momo admitted, before looking away. "However, at the Sports Festival, Tokoyami-san taught me some humility... and you..." her fingers went to play with her dark locks. "You, Todoroki-san... you helped me afterward," she smiled. But that was a weak smile, not directed towards anyone in particular. She took a deep breath. "I felt similar to you... Eventually, I realized... that I have feelings for you..." Momo confessed, once again fidgeting, "I have always... thought of you as the most capable person in our class... You are also kind..." she continued, before giving him a quick look. "But I also can't disagree with some... general opinion."
"General... opinion?" Todoroki repeated, tense with anxiety.
"Yes..." Yaoyorozu continued, "That you... are the most handsome boy in our class..." at this point Yaoyorozu definitely was not eager to look into his eyes again. Todoroki understood that. Hearing compliments was usually nice, but right now, in this situation, things still required sufficient explanation. So, despite his beating heart and trembling body, he waited patiently for the girl to go on. "When I realized... how I feel... I did not know what to do..." Momo confessed, looking at the ground. "Jiro-san offered to be my sympathetic ear when I needed it... Including today..."
"So...she knows about your...?" that made sense.
"Yes... I was torn of what to do about it..." the girl continued. "I didn't know if you could... like me back... you seemed always focused on your hero training, after all..." she sent Todoroki a small smile. "Then, you started approaching me... and I... was still unsure what I wanted to do about it," Momo confessed. "It was obvious for me that you were making a move... and for the time being, it was fine and without consequences..."
Todoroki swallowed audibly.
"Until yesterday... You have confessed and I was all but ready... I panicked... and today..." she added and looked at Shouto's face. "I would be okay with waiting, with that status quo... until I was sure..." She let out a sad sigh. "But our feelings resulted in us...performing poorly..." she whispered and Todoroki felt his heart sinking. "It was an exercise, but still, it was serious!" Momo raised her voice a bit. "In a real-life situation as heroes, we won't lose points for bad performance. Lives will be lost! Ours, or worse, civilians! That is unacceptable..." her voice broke, as she once again touched the middle of her chest. "I deeply apologize, Todoroki-san... I regret it as well, but... We cannot date..." Yaoyorozu Momo said in regret and stepped back a bit. Todoroki's heart clenched at the revelation. He swallowed, trying and failing to control his trembling limbs.
"Do you really mean that?" Shouto asked in an empty voice. He noticed the girl nodded slowly.
"Please understand, Todoroki-san... I like you as well..." she whispered, "but we are future heroes. We mustn't let our feelings interfere with our training and then work... We are responsible for the lives out there!" the rich girl proclaimed. Todoroki could understand that... He performed badly, miserably even, for his own standards. Even if he himself was his own worst critic, that was undeniable. But still, something felt off.
"Wait a minute..." Todoroki spoke up after a while. "It was I that made a lot of mistakes, not you... And for me, those failures change little in the long run..." he admitted, and the girl looked at him with a question. The question was not verbal in nature, so the boy continued. "Being raised the way... I was... did things for me..." He confessed." I did a lot of mistakes, with consequences... And I still have some things to overcome... I will keep having those things to work on. And today, those were just another one of those things... Isn't that just part of the growth to become someone better?" Todoroki asked.
"Indeed... but contrary to what you said, I made serious mistakes as well." Momo countered and Shouto shifted in place. He raised his brows, scrutinizing the girl. If she was talking about the last moments of the match... she might be right... But otherwise...
"You were acting as a civilian, Yaoyorozu," he said dryly. "There was barely anything for you to do."
"Yet I failed!" Momo cried out, her palms clenching into fists. "I choose the plan! It was a poor, sub-optimal one!
"Aren't you going too hard on yourself?" the boy asked, genuinely concerned. "It was mine and Bakugo's idea to ask you for a plan... If anything, it was our failure that we didn't manage to agreed or anything..." he explained. "You actually saved us right there!" he argued. "Besides, not even Aizawa was criticizing the plan!"
"Even so, it doesn't change the fact that I did poorly..." Momo countered, looking at her feet, "Usually, I was able to work my plan around enemy's plan... and predict the unfortunate circumstances..." she sniffed, making Todoroki's heart clench. "This time around I could not predict anything..." she said with shame in her voice... Shouto took a step in her direction, but the girl flinched and stepped back..."Pathetic... and my emotions... Lead to such weak formation choice..."
"But our formation was not bad," Todoroki argued. "As you said, Bakugo, with his reflexes was a great choice for the rear guard. You had to be in the middle. That leaves me on the front..."
"Wrong..." the girl said, little more harshly than Shouto could have anticipated. "Due to Bakugo-san's reflexes, he should be in front...! He could react in time to everything, from any direction... You, Todoroki-san should be in the back... Your ice could be used to slow down any pursuit... which was exactly the thing we needed against Iida-san!" Momo explained. "Besides... after yesterday, I thought it would be awkward for you to stare at my back..."
"Worst of all, my emotions! They led me to sabotage our mission!" the girl exclaimed.
"You moved to protect me... Like a hero, right?" Todoroki asked. "I understand that it failed our team, but in real life, protecting others is-..."
"If it was because of my heroic resolve, it would be acceptable... But...!" Yaoyorozu confessed, her voice breaking. "I... I did it because I like you...!" She confessed, trembling and making Todoroki root in the spot. She sniffed, but before the boy could react she wiped her tear. "And I... should be better than this..." Momo said quietly. "My future... lives... and Yaoyorozu name is at stake..." she whispered, her entire body trembling.
Todoroki couldn't take this anymore. Every inch of his being ached as he stepped in Yaoyorozu's direction. He wanted to do something, anything, to make her feel better. However, he halted as the girl raised her small palm.
"I- it's okay..." she said quietly. She looked at him and send the boy a small, sad smile. "I am feeling better now... Just please understand... The way we are now... we cannot date... Or else our emotions will lead to failure..." her eyes were filled with sadness. "And that in the field will be unacceptable..." she exhaled, and then went on. "We are both in this elite school thanks to official recommendations. We both come from influential families, with heavy expectations on ourselves... We cannot afford ourselves to fail them..." she ended and went silent. Only the wind and rustling of the tree branches gave her any response.
Todoroki was lost in his thoughts.
Despite how he felt, a part of him agreed with Yaoyorozu. They certainly had a lot of expectations and burdens on their shoulders... She also told him things he actually knew... His own father often told him during his internship that failing in the field results in loss of life, instead of points in school... Yaoyorozu wasn't wrong here. She wasn't wrong in implying that as future heroes, they have a responsibility they cannot get away from. Yaoyorozu wasn't wrong in implying that they need to work on themselves. Just, something didn't sit well with Shouto still. And it wasn't just his desire to form a more meaningful relationship with that girl. That desire was there. It came from his feelings. But there was something other, that resulted in Todoroki's analytical mind.
True, heroes were responsible for lives. True, it came with a lot of pressure. True, both he and Yaoyorozu might be held to higher standards than average students... But still...
"Yaoyorozu..." Shouto started once again, his mind a bit clearer than before. He knew what he wanted to do, and even if that fails, it would be something worth trying. Better that than being regretful later. "You were observing the matches that followed after ours, right?" the girl nodded uncertainly and looked with a question in her gaze. Todoroki took a deep breath. "You must have noticed Kirishima and Ashido there..."
"Yes... I did..." Yaoyorozu admitted, her palm on her chin."Just what... do you want to say, Todoroki-san?" the girl questioned slowly.
"You know that Kirishima and Ashido are dating, right...?" he asked the girl after taking a deep breath.
"I am aware of that..." Momo said. "What...-"
"They can do it," Todoroki cut in and swallowed. "They can date each other, and still do their job as future heroes well... Even when facing against each other..." he said, when Yaoyorozu was opening her mouth. She raised her brows, before looking away. She saw it today, just as well as Todoroki did. These two going against each other, neither of them were holding back. A clash that resulted in a bandage on Kirishima's arm...
"What... are you trying to say, Todoroki-san?" the girl has questioned, her hands once again placed before her.
"If they can do it... Then surely we can as well..." he explained, taking a step forward. Yaoyorozu hasn't moved, her thin brows were raised. "As you said... we enrolled here due to official recommendations... we have many expectations on our shoulders... So, shouldn't we excel at this as well?" He questioned and it took Yaoyorozu a moment of silence before she managed to respond.
"How can you guarantee that we can succeed?" she whispered, looking up at the sakura petals above. "We have failed at it already..." the girl said in a small voice.
"I can't guarantee anything..." Todoroki answered honestly, before something occurred to him," except... The return to status quo is impossible now..." he said, making the girl flinch and look at him with anxiety. And maybe something more. Shouto took a deep breath. "Can you say with conviction, that we can go back to the way we were...?" he questioned and Momo hesitated with her answer…
"I..." she started, shifting her balance from one of her legs to another. "It… would be manageable… but you, Todoroki-san… And I..."
"We confessed..." Todoroki said, his heart beating fast. Yaoyorozu exhaled loudly before nodding nervously. "Yaoyorozu..." the boy continued in a whisper. "Before I approached you yesterday… I thought about a lot of things... About possible outcomes..." he looked at some pink petals above. "And I decided to act..." he gazed at the girl directly. "I thought that things could get worse if I was rejected… But I also thought it would be just another thing… to overcome..." he took a deep breath and continued. "But at the same time… nothing could guarantee things would stay well if I haven't acted at all..."
"Todoroki-san… I..." Momo said, her palm touching her warm face. "I... don't know..." she admitted. "I don't know what to do... neither I knew back then... nor I know right now..." she whispered.
"I am not sure either..." the boy answered honestly and made a step in her direction. The girl looked at him. "But... I thought that the best way to proceed was to... act on my feelings..." scratched his chin, looking slightly to the side. "It appeared as the best option for me... An option that can result in something good, even if the risk was there... then again..." he continued. "Can anything be achieved without a risk?" he wondered and was responded with silence. It lasted until Momo Yaoyorozu took a deep breath.
She surprised the boy, as she made a step in his direction. Her hands behind her back, her gaze slightly averted.
"Risk... there is much at stake, though ..." the girl said slowly before sighing. "I don't know... I don't know if I should take such a risk... What I want to do... and what I should do... are two different things..." Momo confessed, this time looking at the boy.
"Yaoyorozu..." Todoroki said looking the girl directly in the eyes. "I will support you... And help you in overcoming your obstacles... regardless of your decision..." He continued, taking another step towards the girl. "I am sure you would as well... you're that kind of person..." he added, but the girl didn't deny. They were looking each other in the eyes, standing face-to-face. "But, if I won't ask you this now... I know I would have regrets..." he whispered and stepped even closer to her, but he girl didn't answer - at least not verbally. But her dark eyes, her pretty face and trembling lips were saying a lot. Her hand went up, touching her heated cheek. Todoroki could swear that from this distance, this very close distance, he could hear her frantic heartbeat.
Or maybe it was Shouto's own.
Regardless, the brave boy made his move. He took Momo's small palm into his own. He realized she was trembling. Or maybe he was... It was impossible to tell. He still needed to tell her what he wanted. His anxiety, nerves, fears, and doubts be damned.
"I like you, Yao-momo," Todoroki confessed, and the girl's eyes widened. It was the first time he actually used her nickname. Their eyes were saying what their lips couldn't at the moment. "Please go out with me," Todoroki whispered, still looking deep into her eyes. Shouto's face was all in heat and he could have sworn his face was all covered in red... But looking at Yaoyorozu, he was sure his flush was nowhere near hers. Seconds have passed, seconds that required the boy to display a very specific type of courage. Courage that made him lost in her eyes. The look in her black orbs changed several times as if reflecting the struggle inside the girl. But finally, Momo Yaoyorozu moved. Her cheek-holding palm fell slightly, as she raised one finger before Todoroki's face. The boy raised his dichromatic brows.
"I... have conditions..." she said and her disposition changed. Her black, beautiful eyes now meant business.
"I am listening," Todoroki responded.
"First of all, Todoroki-san... If we are to date each other, we cannot keep it a secret..." Momo said with surprising confidence.
Todoroki cursed inwardly. He would very much like to keep it a secret. At least for some time - he wasn't very eager to experience the annoying reactions of his classmates. Not to mention some other things... But apparently, all of that was visible on his face.
"If we are to be an example for others, then we cannot hide it, Todoroki-kun," the girl said earnestly. "Also, I want to be honest with my family at all times..." she explained and Todoroki nodded.
"I can promise you that..." the Shouto answered and then added: "I would rather wait with telling my family about it... especially my father. But if this is a condition then I-..."
"I can give you a week of secrecy. But I'll let my family know right away." Momo suggested after a slight sigh. "Also, for clarity... I do think we should inform our classmates soon... It would be better that way, instead of letting them come up with... overblown rumors..." once again she blushed brightly. In an adorable way.
"I understand... And agree." Todoroki said, briefly wondering what kind of rumors could possibly embarrass her so much. Shouto himself would most likely consider them an annoyance at worst... But speaking about not keeping their relationship a secret, Shouto actually promised Kendo to let her know, so... the secrecy was never much of a choice.
Momo gave him a smile. And his heart melt.
"Another condition..." she said in serious tone again. "No displays of affection during school time. Or patrols. Or internships..."
"Understandable," was Todoroki's response. "And I agree."
"Third condition..." Momo continued and took a deep breath. "If things won't improve regarding our performance... If we won't overcome the challenges ahead... I'm sorry, but we'll need to end this," she stated and Todoroki frowned. Momo sighed. "Maybe not once and for all... I am not sure about the future..." Momo admitted. "But... You know what I mean, Todoroki-kun... We will be responsible for people's lives..."
"I agree..." Todoroki and then added: "though... wouldn't you say our problem... was yesterday?" the boy asked Yaoyorozu, and she frowned, before answering.
"Come to think of it Todoroki-kun..." she started, this time her voice was small, more unsure. "We felt... a certain way... about each other for a while... and most of the time..."
"There were no problems like today..." Shouto finished for her. "It appeared when our..."
"...Feelings were disturbed..." Yaoyorozu whispered, before shaking her head a bit. She was once again in earnest mode. "We can work on it... But once again, do you accept this condition, Todoroki-kun?"
"I am..." Todoroki answered.
"Final condition," Yaoyorozu's lips curved in a kind of smile the boy didn't expect. A feisty kind of smile. "The U.A. Sports Festival... Don't you dare to go easy on me there...Or anywhere else for that matter!"
"Easy?" Todoroki repeated, "I'll destroy the competition. Don't worry about it," he added.
"You will try, Todoroki-kun. You will try..." Momo said and her lips curved in a smile. The kind of that made Todoroki's heart dance.
"Will you go out with me, Yao-momo?" the boy repeated his question. It was hard to tell which of them trembled more, as their fingers intertwined.
"Yes, Todoroki-kun," the girl whispered shyly. "Please take good care of me..." she added.
Yaoyorozu hasn't predicted his next action. Todoroki failed this prediction as well. He couldn't predict something inside of him breaking. Or maybe fixing? Regardless, he was surprised by his own move. Their fingers separated, only for Shouto to embrace the girl, swiftly and tightly, his face landing next to hers... Their cheeks were touching, their bodies were pressing together and Momo flinched in shock. But after her initial surprise, the young girl has relaxed and returned the embrace, bringing her boyfriend even closer.
Shouto found himself surprisingly light as if a heavy burden was taken off his shoulders. He embraced the girl tighter, closing his eyes, his head leaning into her. Momo accepted him, letting them melt into one being, one soul. The young, newly formed couple stopped trembling in as the time passed and begun enjoying their closeness and warmth instead. Momo Yaoyorozu couldn't for the life of hers predict Shouto Todoroki to be the cuddly type, but she was certainly surprised. She didn't mind.
And neither did Shouto. They were unaware of the passing time... but eventually, they leaned back a bit, just enough to look into each other's eyes.
"I-i... never told you this, Todoroki-kun..." Momo whispered, "but you really have a beautiful smile..."
"I do?" Todoroki raised his brows. Was he letting out a smile at the moment?
"Yes..." Momo said, sending him a smile of her own. Todoroki thought no smile could rival hers, but he was no there to argue...
"So Yao-momo... how does that bowling club sounds?" Shouto asked and the girl raised her brows. "Or maybe you would prefer...-"
"Just... Tell me where and when, Todoroki-kun," the girl responded before their embrace tightened once again. Apparently, they won't let go of each other so soon...
They were standing right there, under a sakura tree. The sun has nearly finished its traverse on the sky, resulting in long shadows that covered the newly formed couple from the prying eyes. Sakura petals were dancing on the wind, stealing most of the attention of potential witnesses. All of that allowed Shouto Todoroki and Momo Yaoyorozu some privacy, much required to satisfy their newly awakened need of closeness. If someone was about to look in their general direction, all he or she would see was a figure of two young students, embracing each other. Such a person wouldn't be able to work out any details, however.
And it was good. The details would only be known to the young couple alone.
This is it. It lasted longer than I have anticipated, but it is finished. I don't mean only this chapter, but a story as a whole. Initially, it was supposed to be a simple, 2-3 chapters story, but of course, it had to escalate from that... Overall, I am satisfied with what I wrote, even if there were some things I would like to elaborate on... Also, the story is from Shouto's perspective (mostly), which was good decision, but which also makes writing about how Momo feels and why she acts like she does more difficult...
Things to elaborate on, Momo's perspective... This is the part I want to say the following: I plan to make an epilogue omake to this story. That's one. Two, make a one-shot sequel to this story, from Yaoyorozu's POV. I will be able to elaborate on some things and also do something more Momo-focused. I hope you'll be interested, dear readers.
Now, responses to some reviews:
fencer29 - I can totally see Aizawa thinking like that... had All Might not remind his pupils that following the rules here was also important. Overall, I think Aizawa is the type that would not make unnecessary sacrifices, but still makes sacrifices when needed.
The Last Cowboy - Thank you for your review and I am glad that you not only see Todoroki is flawed in the story, but that you also appreciate that. I don't know if the conclusion is epic enough for your expectations, but I hope I was able to get at least one "awww" out of it :)
Xellos540 - With the possibility of Momo being on the other team, I am leaving it to the trivia section :). Bakugo... Oh Bakugo. He is a very angry frog... I mean person, but he is all but stupid. He knows that he isn't the best at anything - as much as he would like to be, he is aware that Momo is better at planning and a better leader than him. As for Momo and Todoroki being professional... I disagree and they both stand with me on that :p.
Finally, for most enduring readers, some trivia.
- The game 2-A class is playing is based on Blazblue. It is rather obvious to anyone who has played it, still, I decided to not drop a title. I imagined the MHA universe has its own variants of Arc System Networks games. In which, for example, the characters did not have "Drives", but rather... "Quirks" :p. Also, Momo chose Tsubaki as her character, and Todoroki chose Jin. Not only these two are as close to the official couple as possible without being one, but also Jin uses Ice which goes well with Todoroki. Also, their vs theme song is awesome.
- The fic is rated T, so I decided to include only one F-bomb. In this chapter, with Midoriya's clueless interruption :)
- This fic made me learn how to write "Yaoyorozu" swiftly and without mistakes.
- I totally forgot about something important here. Todoroki used an MHA-variation of Skype to call his sister for the advice... But I forgot the freaking cellphones existed! When I realized that, I facepalmed hard... This was something so obvious and story-changing, yet I missed that! Shouto could easily text his sister, instead of making a call via his laptop. He could easily text one of his classmates with a question, or at least to make an appointment. That would make "girl moving in herds" bit non-existent.
- Of course, I based "girls moving in herds" thing on Harry Potter. Thank you, J.K Rowling.
- Itsuka Kendo. At first, I wanted to include her here just because I like the character, but in canon, she is kinda hanging out with Momo (in the manga, they are officially friendly rivals) so it makes her knowing something about Yaoyorozu more plausible. Plus, she has more reasons to help out Todoroki than just a teasing material against Momo. Also, about Kendo, she claims Shouto isn't really her type. I imagine her type is straight-up, manly and honest individuals, even to a fault... With a body of steel.
- Kirishima and Mina. One of the pairing I shipped for some time in MHA. I included these two for a reason, which is actually important in the last chapter. Also, from all A-class pairings I ship, KiriMina is more likely to happen anytime soon... Simply because Kirishima does not suffer from a heart attack when speaking to girls and Mina does not sing "I won't say I'm in love" song. Plus, Mina is a romantic soul of sorts and a straight-up shipper.
- Todoroki and Momo are playing MHA version of Trine games. I have not any particular Trine game in mind, except it needed to be 2D. So Trine 3 was out of a question. Anyways, as I was writing it I found it interesting that characters from MHA universe might find lack of Quirks interesting, especially someone who's as uncultured and out of the loop as Todoroki.
- Jiro and Tsu-chan are watching the game for a reason. Maybe you'll learn of that reason sometime in the future.
- I've thought about several variations on how I was supposed to do Aizawa's special test/exercise/training. First I thought of Momo and Todoroki going up against each other, but it didn't fit the story at all. Then I came up with the team vs team idea, with a tension between Todoroki and Yaoyorozu disturbing the teamwork and latter leading them to failure. I initially wanted Todoroki to be a civilian, but him breaking the rules and using his Quirk to save Momo from trouble would only reinforce what the reader already knows - he cares about her. But when we reverse the roles, then some questions can arise from that. I found the latter variant more interesting and contributing more to the story. I only regretted not trolling Todoroki more.
- I enjoyed writing the action scenes the most and I think the way I wrote that was very MHA-like.
- Since our class A dorks are in their second year now, I took some liberty on how they can improve their Quirk or prowess in general. In Mineta's case, he could bounce off out of his orbs with notable speed... So I thought that adding heavy gauntlets to his arsenal could be useful for him. Speed + weight = power. I think I kinda made Mineta not-so-useless and I feel quite good about that.
- Shouji... I imagined his quirk improving in a certain direction, to be more octopus-like in addition to straight-up improvements. Not only being able to replicate some of his organs and limbs, but creating a copy of itself. He already can detach those additional limbs from his body. Add some of octopi abilities, like changing color and texture to their skin and we have what I came up with. I am quite satisfied with the idea.
- Todoroki is being Todoroki, so he had no idea what Mineta meant by "that was smooth". Of course, Minoru would be jealous of Todoroki not only carrying Momo for a while but also having her land on top of him. The laws of anime need to apply, no exceptions.
- Believe me or not, I never played Old Maid and so I apologize if the description of the game is off. I played our Polish variant of the game, though.
- Why Old Maid? Well, my initial ideas were either Poker or Uno. I choose not to go with Uno because that game can make people go after each other's throat sometimes :p. As for Poker, I would wish to go with it, but I couldn't justify in-story reasons why Todoroki would agree to bother learning how to play it.
- Remember kids, always have in mind things while writing. I wanted Kirishima to give Todoroki a pep talk, since 1) Kiri is a good boi. 2) He has experience with a girlfriend. 3) Even Horikoshi-sensei created Kirishima as one of the characters to "bring the class together". He fir. But then again, I decided Todoroki would need to be convinced first, so I added Izuku as well... Shouto trusts him the most, but I haven't given Deku much of screentime in this story. It was a mistake.
- Jiro is included for a reason to be possibly learned in a future.
- On the other hand, the inclusion of Setsuna Tokage was unnecessary. I included her as a joke I alone can laugh at. I was disappointed by her in the manga, so I decided she will be as useful in this story as she is in the canon :p. You can say in this story she is "inside joke meme cameo".
- The entire talk between Momo and Shouto. Goddamn, that required many rewrites but overall, I think it came up quite good. I really hope both of their thoughts, reasons, and feelings are good enough. If not, please let me know, even the harshest feedback will do.
That being said, what exactly occurred between the two in an embrace is left to the interpretation for a reason.
That would be it. If you managed to read to the end, know I send you my thanks. I hope you enjoyed the story and you'll also enjoy what's more to come.
Happy New Year, once again!