“Alright! Up and at ‘em!”
“It’s way too early for this,” Katsuki grumbled in response to Burnin’s rousing cry. His Hero costume mask was pushed up against his forehead, showcasing the bags underneath his eyes. Izuku was adjusting his gloves, his hair a bit more unruly than usual.
“Why the long face, Bakugo?!” Burnin’ asked with a sharp toothed grin, stretching. “Have you beat Endeavor’s goal for you yet? No?”
“We were close yesterday!” Katsuki yelled back at her. He tugged the mask over his eyes.
“We were,” Shoto said in agreement, fiddling with the braces around his wrists. “We can’t lose our drive. Today’s the day. The day we surpass Endeavor.”
Izuku and Katsuki wore similar determined expressions.
It was a week into their internship at the now Number One Hero’s agency. As a result of their rigorous training, they had undeniably grown stronger, improving on all fronts. But, they have yet to pass the objective Endeavor set out for them; to prevent an incident before him.
“Midoriya, Bakugo, I have something to tell you before we start,” Shoto said.
“What is it, Todoroki?” Izuku asked.
“My sister invited all of us over for dinner this evening,” Shoto replied. “She wants to meet my friends.”
“For the last time, we’re not friends, Icy Hot!” Katsuki exclaimed.
“Yes, we are.”
“No, we’re not!”
“Yes, you are.”
“Shut up, Deku.”
“Enough chit chat.” Endeavor himself had arrived, already marching for the agency doors. “Let’s go.”
Shoto sent his father one final glare before following after him. Katsuki and Izuku hurried after him.
It was a grueling day of work as the trio did their best to beat Endeavor to resolving an incident. No such opportunity presented itself. Be it stopping a petty thief who stole a businessman’s suitcase, or intercepting two trucks on a collision course, none of them could surpass Endeavor.
“You’d think he’d get tired of showing off,” Katsuki grumbled as they tried to chase after him. He had an angry snarl on his face.
“Well, we are still students-”
“That’s not the point, Deku,” Katsuki shot back. “We’re supposed to grow stronger than our predecessors. Otherwise, what is even the point of all this?”
“Bakugo’s right,” Shoto said, his mouth drawn in a straight, determined grimace. “We can only keep pushing forward.”
They ran, they soared, they pushed ahead. They gave it their all.
And yet, they couldn’t even come close to the Number One.
The afternoon passed them by, and evening arrived. Katsuki, Izuku and Shoto returned to the agency headquarters to change into their school uniforms. After the Todoroki family dinner, they were set to return to campus.
The Todoroki family driver, Kurumada, drove the four of them to their destination. Shoto’s house was large, magnificent. The architecture was modeled after something from traditional Japanese buildings. A stone pathway led from the front gate to the main door. Izuku was captivated. Of course, the Todoroki family was so wealthy, it made sense for their house to be so fancy.
“It’s beautiful, Todoroki,” Izuku told him.
“Why am I here?” Katsuki grumbled.
“I already told you, my sister invited us for dinner and wanted to meet my friends.”
“We’re not friends!”
“Kacchan-” Izuku muttered in exasperation.
Endeavor must have been just as exasperated, because he crossed through the front yard and unlocked the front door. The three teenagers followed after him.
A young woman with white hair streaked red awaited them in the foyer. “Hello!” She said in a cheery voice. “It’s… Midoriya and Bakugo, right? I’m Fuyumi, Shoto’s older sister.”
“It’s very nice to meet you,” Izuku said, smiling ear to ear, trying to prevent Fuyumi from noticing Katsuki’s grumbling. “Thank you for inviting us.”
“Is Natsu here, too?” Shoto asked. “I saw his shoes.”
“Yes,” Fuyumi said, smiling to herself. “The whole family is here.”
Fuyumi led the three of them into the dining room. An older teenage boy was helping set up the table. He kept sending nasty glares towards Endeavor. Natsuo, the third Todoroki child.
“Hey,” he said when he saw Izuku and Katsuki, giving them a half hearted wave. He clearly did not want to be here.
“I hope you enjoy!” Fuyumi said. “It’s mapo tofu. I don’t know if the two of you are allergic to anything, but if there’s anything you can’t eat-”
“No no, it’s delicious!” Izuku exclaimed. “Rich and flavorful on the inside, the crusty outer shell, it might be deceptively simple but it’s a complete banquet for the palette, the coating of spice, not too light not too heavy-”
“Stop analyzing the food,” Katsuki scowled.
“Yeah, it makes sense for sis to be a good cook,” Natsuo said offhandedly. “She’s been cooking for us since our cook retired.”
“Natsu, don’t be shy,” Fuyumi teased him slightly. “You used to cook, too.”
Shoto looked surprised by this fact. “I used to eat your cooking?”
Natsuo scowled. “I doubt it. I wasn’t any good, so I doubt Endeavor let you eat it. It wouldn’t be up to his caliber.”
Endeavor. Not “Father” or “Dad” or even “Enji.” Just Endeavor.
The tension became palpable. Fuyumi sent Natsuo a concerned look and lightly squeezed his leg. Katsuki tried to keep eating, his face screaming, “Not this, not now.” Endeavor looked a bit more sullen.
Natsuo sighed, getting to his feet.
“Thank you for the food, sis,” he murmured. He sounded weary and tired. “I sat at the table, isn’t that enough? This is just… too much for me.”
He left the room, closing the door behind him.
The rest of the dinner passed quietly. Once the food was all gone, Izuku and Katsuki picked up some of the dishes to help tidy up. Endeavor left with them. Shoto and Fuyumi remained to wipe down the table.
“It’s not that I don’t share some of Natsu’s feelings about this,” Fuyumi said. “Dad was neglectful to us, abusive to you and Mom, and Toya-” she fell silent, contemplating it. “But, he’s trying to change, right? It’s like we’re all being given a second chance- What do you think, Shoto?”
Shoto didn’t say anything for a moment. His own feelings were so hard to wrap his head around.
“The burn on my face, I blame my old man for it entirely. Mom endured everything he dished out for so long, to the point that she couldn’t anymore. I can’t just forgive the man who pushed her to the point she’d burn her child at a moment’s notice. Honestly, I’m not sure… how to feel. I feel like I’m… waiting to see something.”
The door slammed open. “Talking like this in front of guests is in bad taste,” Katsuki grumbled. “Any more dishes to clean?”
“Sorry about him,” Izuku murmured. “Todoroki already told us everything, more or less.”
“Not me, I just happened to overhear,” Katsuki clarified, hurrying to gather the remaining dishes and leave the room again.
“Sorry,” Izuku murmured again, “for eavesdropping. But, Todoroki, about what you said. I think - though I might be wrong - but I think you’re getting ready to forgive him. I think you’re waiting for something to truly confirm that he’s changed. You want to forgive him because you are a good person.”
Izuku meant well, but something about that statement didn’t sit right with Shoto. “What does my desire - or lack thereof - to forgive my old man have to do with me being a good person? Fuyumi wants to forgive him and move one, and she’s a good person. Natsuo doesn’t want to forgive him. That doesn’t make him any less of a good person.”
“I’m not sure,” he decided to say instead of voicing all his thoughts. Izuku tried to give him a reassuring smile.
“Your brother left,” Katsuki announced as he reentered. “Any more dishes to clean?”
“No,” Fuyumi said, “Thank you for the help, though.”
The three boys waited around. They needed Endeavor to drive them back to campus.
Fuyumi looked saddened. “Honestly, I can’t blame Natsu for how he feels. He and Toya were the closest, after all.”
“Toya?” Izuku asked in confusion.
“You did tell them about Toya?” Fuyumi turned to Shoto.
“It’s not exactly a conversation starter,” he said, looking a bit uneasy.
Izuku and Katsuki looked curious now. “Well, this was a little bit after Mom… went away,” Fuyumi said. “Anyways, a little after that, Toya… died. And Natsu blames Dad for it.”
Izuku and Katuski felt a jolt of shock run through their systems. “I- I guess that explains the look on his face,” Katsuki said after a moment.
Their conversation was interrupted by Endeavor entering the room. “I’ve got to take you boys back to school,” he said. Shoto, Izuku, and Katsuki quickly put on their costa and grabbed their belongings.
“Thank you for inviting us!” Izuku told Fuyumi on the way out.
“And send me that mapo tofu recipe,” Katsuki said. “It was delicious,” he added after a moment.
This made Fuyumi beam. “And thank you, to both of you. For being Shoto’s friend!”
This time, Katsuki didn’t bother saying that “he and Icy Hot weren’t friends.”
The three boys got into the backseat of the car, while Endeavor rode in the front seat. Kurumada pulled out of the driveway and onto the road.
“You boys need to get stronger, and fast,” Endeavor said. Dinner was over, and so were the pleasantries. “In addition to weekends, I want you to come to the agency at least two times during the school week. Make adjustments to your schedule as necessary.”
“Finals are coming up, too,” Izuku muttered. “Todoroki, I can help you study for English.”
“Kacchan, and what about y-”
“I’m good on my own!” Katsuki said, sticking his head out the window. “Why does the Number One have such a tiny car?!”
“If you have a problem, get to school by yourself, you slacker!” Kurumada retorted.
Something came into view, illuminated by the headlights. It was… a man, standing in the middle of the street. He was hoisting another person into the air, wrapped up like a mummy.
The car skidded to avoid the man. “He’s got Natsu!” Shoto yelled, realizing that the hostage was his big brother.
The passenger side door slammed open, and Endeavor leaped out, the standard business suit burning away to reveal the Hero costume underneath. Just as he leapt out, the bandages wrapped around the car, keeping the others trapped inside.
“Do you remember me, Endeavor?!” The man yelled. The mummy bandages, now revealed to be white road paint, kept yanking Natsuo around. It was as if this guy didn’t care about the condition of his hostage.
“That violent offender, from seven years ago-”
“You do remember! I’m flattered! You can call me Ending!” The paint came to life, writhing like snakes and coiling around Natsuo.
“Let him go!” Endeavor roared.
“You gotta do your job properly this time, Endeavor!” Ending jeered. “I’m going to kill your kid, so do it right this time and kill me!”
The lines of paint were now flying at Endeavor at a breakneck speed. He prepared a blast of fire to take out the paint and the villain, but he caught a glimpse of Natsuo’s utterly terrified expression.
The paint got slashed to pieces. With an explosion, Katsuki blasted apart the pain covering the car, allowing him, Izuku, and Shoto to break out.
“You…” Endeavor growled at the new arrival. The trio of students momentarily faltered from the shock of a new player. He was the same height as Shoto, with short black hair. He was wearing some sort of green and yellow coat. A traditional haori? He held a blue tinted katana in his hands.
“No, not you!” Ending said angrily, more paint rising around him. “Only Endeavor can kill me!”
“Stand back,” the stranger simply said, raising his sword. He had a look of serenity on his face. As the paint lines flew towards him, they suddenly dissipated into dust.
“Hesitating when your own son is on the line? You’re a disgrace, Endeavor!”
The new voice sounded very angry and brash. Another figure zoomed past them, heading straight for Ending. With a slash of his own katana, the wrappings binding Natsuo fell away. The figure grabbed the hostage and dashed away.
Getting over their momentary shock, Katsuki and Shoto darted forward. Katsuki used an explosion to knock Ending’s wrappings away, while Shoto froze him in place.
They quickly rushed back to where Endeavor and Izuku were. The second stranger had taken Natsuo back there. Now, they could get a clear look at him. The newcomer had white hair and his body was covered in scars. He was wearing a similar uniform to the first man.
Endeavor tried to reach out and hug his son. Natsuo stumbled back with a harsh, “Don’t touch me.”
Endeavor grimaced and instead turned to the two strangers. “I suppose I should… thank you-”
“Just do your job next time, Endeavor,” said the white haired man. His voice had a harsh undertone to it. “People like you in a position of power is the thing that really pisses me off.”
The black haired man turned to look towards Shoto and Katsuki while his companion kept rattling off Endeavor’s flaws one by one. “Is the villain secure? You two alright?”
“We were doing just fine!” Katsuki yelled. “We could have handled it ourselves!”
The white haired man froze and did a double take.
“Bakugo, don’t yell-” Shoto started to say, but he was cut off.