"Yet," Kirishima was blustering, just loud enough as he and Bakugou strolled into the common room that Todoroki couldn't quite tune them out. "I haven't beaten you YET, but I'm telling you, I have this killer new move that'll make you go WAPOW WHAAAAT."
"I will not ever do that," Bakugou replied.
"Also that's kind of Kacchan's power in the first place?" Midoriya asked. The sound of his voice made Todoroki's head pop up from his homework; he hadn't seen Midoriya behind his taller dorm mates. "You know, WAPOW and BLAM and KWERPAAAA and stuff."
"I do NOT go KWERPAAA," Bakugou snapped, giving Midoriya a shove. Todoroki frowned, then tried to focus back on his work. He only had two more physics problems and he didn't want to interrupt his flow.
"Bro, you totally do," Kirishima said. "Like, all the time. And when you sneeze sometimes it's a tiny kwerpaaa. OW! Relax man, it's cute! Just own it."
"It is pretty cute," Midoriya said, earning himself another punch to the shoulder. Midoriya caught Todoroki looking and his smile widened. "Todoroki-kun thinks so too, right? Back us up."
"It's not cute when he goes kwerpaaa," Todoroki deadpanned, sending Kirishima and Midoriya both into a fit of laughter. Todoroki kept his own face neutral as he looked back at his homework, despite the warm curl of satisfaction in his stomach. He didn't even realize that Midoriya was approaching him until Kirishima's whoop of "Get it, Deku!" made him jerk his head up.
A sharp pain jolted up the cold side of his neck, setting his teeth on edge. He wasn't fast enough at smoothing out his expression by the time Midoriya turned back to him, and his mild annoyance at Kirishima melted into concern.
"You all right?" Midoriya asked. He stopped just at the edge of the table, not quite in Todoroki's personal bubble but closer than most people tended to stand to him. "Is that from sparring?"
"No, it's just stiff," Todoroki tried to shrug him off but that made another sharp line of pain clench his jaw. "It's fine. It's nothing."
"Because you've been doing that for three days at least," Midoriya continued. "Shouldn't you maybe go to the nurse?"
Todoroki blinked, wondering whether he should be flattered or creeped out that Midoriya was watching him that closely, but then he brushed it off. Probably just stuff for his notebooks. "I said it's fine. It's not impeding my range of motion or my training."
Midoriya chewed on that for a second. Just when Todoroki assumed he'd drop it, Midoriya said, "I could maybe fix it? If you wanted, because it's probably like a muscle knot, so it'll just get tighter if you leave it alone. I'd have to, you know, touch you."
"It's—" Todoroki was about to say it was fine, nothing, whatever, but just then a loud yelp from Kirishima and a WAPOW that was not at all cute from Bakugou set his teeth on edge. "Let's go somewhere that isn't here."
"Oh!" Midoriya said, clearly expecting another no. "My room's free?"
That was how Todoroki ended up sitting stiffly on the edge of Midoriya's bed in his T-shirt, Midoriya kneeling behind him, things a bit awkward as Midoriya asked again if it was all right for him to touch Todoroki.
"That's what I'm sitting here for, isn't it?" Todoroki asked, then pressed his lips into a thin line because truthfully he appreciated how Midoriya always asked or warned Todoroki first. "Sorry. I meant, it's fine."
"Tell me if I hurt you," Midoriya said, and Todoroki would have rolled his eyes if they weren't already closed. Midoriya's first touch was hesitant, tracing the tendon up the back of Todoroki's neck. "It's this side, right?"
"Yes." Midoriya prodded a little more and then his fingers trailed down along the side of Todoroki's spine. Todoroki frowned, about to ask was Midoriya was doing back there, when suddenly Midoriya pressed his fingers in against the edge of his shoulder blade, sending a jagged bolt of pain up into his neck. His breath caught.
"Yeah," Midoriya muttered, as if he'd been expecting that. "The knot's down here, but it pulls your neck tight." His other hand appeared on Todoroki's other shoulder blade, pressing down in the symmetrical spot on his warm side. "Does this one hurt?"
"No," Todoroki said. Midoriya dug his fingers in deeper. "Still no. That side's fine."
"All right. I'll try to help, but it's really tight, so tell me if you want me to stop."
"Whatever, it's fi—HAH," Todoroki interrupted himself with an undignified noise as Midoriya dug his fingers in much harder, because it was definitely not fine. It felt like a live coal was under Todoroki's skin as Midoriya leaned into it, having to use practically his entire bodyweight before finally there was a merciful, grinding crunch of the knot giving way.
"Sorry," Midoriya apologized, still rubbing firmly. "Flex your shoulder back so I can…yeah." Midoriya was working his fingertips under the edge of Todoroki's shoulder blade, the muscles barely loosening up enough to let him reach the actual problem. After another minute, he stopped, his hand flat against Todoroki's back so that the heat of his palm was sinking into the area. "That should help some, but you're pretty jacked up back here. You should put a heating pad on it."
"It already feels like it's on fire," Todoroki grumbled. Midoriya laughed, sliding out from behind Todoroki to sit next to him, cross-legged. "What?"
"You're the fire guy, so it's funny?" Midoriya chuckled. "But it's probably not comfortable for you to get your fire hand on your shoulder and stay like that, so looks like you'll need a heating pad like the rest of us, this time."
"Why do you know so much about this, anyway?" Todoroki asked, eyeing Midoriya as Midoriya picked at his bedspread.
"When I was training for the entrance exam, trying to make my body strong enough for my quirk, everything hurt all the time," Midoriya explained. "I'd stare at my ceiling at night because I couldn't even sleep. So my mom got a book about sports massage so she could help me. We learned a ton of stuff about how your muscles go and where they connect to your bones and tendons. Useful, right?"
"Sounds like it," Todoroki agreed. The awkwardness was returning, urging Todoroki's spine gradually more stiff. "Thank you."
"I probably didn't fix it the whole way," Midoriya warned. "I think your other side is warm enough to keep the muscles relaxed, but then you're carrying yourself unevenly since one side is so much tenser, and that's putting strain on other muscles in your back and neck. But if it's still bothering you, I'm happy to help."
"I don't want to trouble you," Todoroki said, but Midoriya smiled at him and said it was no trouble, so long as Todoroki didn't mind helping him out once in a while too.
"It's not like I can massage myself," Midoriya pointed out.
Todoroki wasn't entirely successful at keeping the a small smile from sneaking out. "I suppose not."
He held out for almost two weeks before the next time Midoriya helped him out, stoically ignoring the way his shoulder wound tighter and tighter. Finally he reached for a dropped pencil during morning class, only to let out a pained hiss at the familiar white-hot stab along the back of his neck.
He was barely even surprised when there was a knock on his dorm room door after dinner, and he opened it to find Midoriya on the other side.
"It only gets worse if you don't take care of it," Midoriya informed him. "So can I come in?"
It was a semi-regular occurrence after that for Todoroki to show up at Midoriya's room, or Midoriya at Todoroki's. The awkwardness of it faded into familiarity, and Todoroki had to admit that it did help ease the persistent ache and stiffness in his neck and shoulder. But there was one side effect: the divide between the two halves of his body, usually a border so sharp it might as well have been drawn with a ruler, blurred under Midoriya's hands. the heat of his left side seeping further and further into his right.
Todoroki wasn't thrilled about that; he breathed a sigh of relief every time it gradually crept back to normal. But each time it took a little longer to wear off, until Todoroki started to wonder if it was something about Midoriya himself. It wasn't like any of them fully understood Midoriya's quirk; hell, even Midoriya didn't seem to understand it himself half the time. And of course, being the jerk that he often was, the next time Todoroki felt it starting to happen, he went ahead and blurted it out right in the middle of Midoriya helping him out.
"Are you doing that on purpose?" Todoroki asked.
Midoriya's hands stilled on Todoroki's back. "Doing what?"
"When I'm with you the fire starts spreading underneath my cold side too. It's annoying." Todoroki tried to keep his voice from being too brusque, but he probably failed. "If it's part of your quirk, can you stop it? Quirk enhancement or whatever."
"That's not me." Midoriya looked Todoroki in the face for a long second; Todoroki fought the urge to look away. Then Midoriya nodded as if he'd made a decision. "Have you ever liked someone before?"
"I…don't hate everyone," Todoroki answered, frowning.
"No," Midoriya chuckled. "I mean, have you ever liked someone. Like a crush." Todoroki just stared at him, and Midoriya carried on by himself. "Because that's what it feels like, you know. You get too warm, all over. Like under your skin. Or at least that it's what it feels like to me."
"You?" Todoroki eyes Midoriya as closely as Midoriya was looking him over a minute ago. This conversation was making him uncomfortable, but it didn't stop him asking, "Do you like someone?"
"Uh-huh," Midoriya answered, and he didn't sound embarrassed, but pink dusted over his nose, under his freckles. "There's other signs, too. Like, I'm happy when that person notices me or pays attention to me. You?"
Todoroki felt like he was undergoing a surprise medical exam, but he nodded.
"I like training or studying with them," Midoriya kept going. "I feel good when it seems like I'm helping them. But mostly I just like the excuse to be alone together. I get annoyed when other people interrupt. You?"
"Y-es," Todoroki answered slowly, realizing with a sinking feeling exactly where this was going. Asking if Midoriya minded studying in his room instead of the common room. The flare of annoyance in his chest when Uraraka stuck her head in to remind them it was dinner time. "Who is it? The person you like."
"Ah, that's another symptom. Jealousy." Midoriya offered Todoroki a sympathetic smile. "That one sucks. So do you want the good news or the bad news first?" Before Todoroki could even open his mouth, Midoriya continued, "The good news is that the person I have a crush on is you. But the bad news is that I think you might have one on me, too."
"I think you might have those backwards," Todoroki muttered, wrinkling his nose as he tried to process this whole thing. It was a lot. He wanted to argue, to say that crushes were for kids on the playground and certainly not for people like him, but Midoriya's simple logic was somehow sound. Also the spreading warmth had been getting worse the entire time they'd been talking, warm enough now that Todoroki barely felt like he had a cold side.
"You know you only blush on your warm side?" Midoriya asked, biting his lip like he was trying to keep down a smile. "It's cute, but it always makes me wonder what I'd have to do to make it spread to the other side."
"Stop it," Todoroki ordered. Midoriya didn't look offended, though. He looked pretty pleased with himself, even if he was blushing too. Actually that was pretty cute, with his freckles and all. Shit. Todoroki had no idea what to do about any of it. "I want to think about it. If that's okay."
"Of course it is. Midoriya nodded. "That's fine. It's a lot, huh. And most people don't…"
"Don't what?" Todoroki demanded when Midoriya trailed off.
"Most people," Midoriya continued gently, "don't need to be told they have a crush by the person that they have the crush on. A fresh wave of embarrassment and confusion crashed over Todoroki, making all of his skin, both sides, go hot and then cold. Midoriya's breath caught. "Oh! Oops. I made it happen after all."
His hand was halfway to Todoroki's cheek before he caught himself and dropped it. There was a few seconds of awkward silence.
"You can call me Izuku," Midoriya interrupted. "Or Deku."
"I'd never call you that," Todoroki said, voice flat. Midoriya's eyebrows went up in surprise. "Even if you say you don't mind it. Because you can do anything, even make the ice guy blush."
Midoriya started to laugh, causing another unpleasant mix of warmth and embarrassment in Todoroki's chest. "Sorry. You say stuff like that with such a serious face. And here I was gonna say that it's fine to not act on a crush, even if we both know it's there. But you know, I actually don't think I'd be fine with it at all."
"Because you have a crush, too?" Todoroki asked, testing out the words. Midoriya nodded. "Because you really like me."
"Don't say it so bluntly," Midoriya muttered, although it seemed more to himself than to Todoroki. "It's, uh. Kind of big and messy, and I've had it for a pretty long while and pretty much the entire class except for you knows and they tease me a lot. But it's not mean or anything, well, except Kacchan but he's mean about everything and—"
He just kept going, which was fine because Todoroki was watching him talk without really listening, busy thinking. Think about liking Midoriya and Midoriya liking him. Thinking about getting to train and work and do homework together, and having an excuse to keep others from interrupting. Thinking about how having Midoriya's hands on his skin hadn't been scary or awkward, and about how if Midoriya could go this long talking without breathing in any new air, he'd probably be really good at kissing.
"I've thought about it," Todoroki interrupted Midoriya froze, mouth still shaped around the word he'd been saying. "Liking you."
"Yeah?" he asked cautiously, shoulders tense. "Because you said you needed some time before."
"You don't have any idea how long you've been talking, do you?" Todoroki asked; Midoriya's mouth closed with a snap, looking embarrassed. Todoroki tried to get his thoughts out without sounding as nervous as he felt. "But I thought about it. I do like you. I think I'm okay with that. But I'm not very good with people or making friends, so it's unlikely I'll be good at dating either, and I'm not unconcerned that if you try to kiss me, your lips might get stuck like licking a frozen pole. So are you sure you want to like me? There must be easier things."
"You can't just choose to like someone else, you idiot," Midoriya said, and Todoroki might have been insulted except that Midoriya was beaming at him like the sun. "And I'm not afraid of hard things, either. So I'm definitely gonna kiss you now, if that's all right."
"Um," Todoroki hedged as Midoriya shifted closer, basically into his lap. "I was pretty serious about that frozen pole thing—"
Midoriya's lips pressed against his, cutting off the rest of his protests. It was warm and weird but nice, like when Midoriya rubbed the ache out of his shoulder blade, and their mouths didn't get stuck together. Although Todoroki wished just a little that they would have been stuck together when Midoriya pulled back just enough to whisper, "Close your eyes? You're freaking me out a little."
"S-sorry." Todoroki swallowed. "I told you I don't know what I'm doing."
"Good," Midoriya said firmly, making Todoroki blink. "I don't want to think about you practicing with anyone else. And it's not like I know what I'm doing either, so it's better if your expectations aren't that high, probably. But you'll practice with me, right? Until we get it right?"
"I guess," Todoroki muttered, flushed and going hot-cold up his back as Midoriya slid his hands up and down over his T-shirt. He wished his body would pull its shit together.
"Like right now?" Midoriya coaxed, edging in even closer.
"Overachiever," Todoroki grumbled, mostly to himself. Not that he expected any different from this guy.
next up is aleena_mokoia!