In the Shadow.
Chapter 19 Sing for the Moment and the Beautiful Monochrome.
Waking up with Momo on my chest was nice. But then seeing everyone running outside I just rolled her off. She moaned a little and opened her eyes, yawning.
"Why… why did you…" she yawned, shoving herself back on me. I shoved her off again and she whined a little.
"Momo, I know I'm warm, but come on… we can cuddle later." I sighed, it was so hard not to feel bad but she had to learn that not every day is Momo day.
"Why not now?" she whined, 'I wanna cuddle! You're so warm and cute in the mornings!" I squeaked and covered my rapidly heating up face.
"What? Cute? No, no no! I'm not cute! I'm a powerful hero to be! Ya know! Woosh and Fwish! Ice and… and fire…"
"Not to me~!" Momo said with a sing-song tone. I smiled and kissed her on the forehead.
"We gotta go before he drills us into the ground," I sighed, grabbing her hand, but then she went…
"Ah! So naughty~!" She moaned overdramatically. I flinched but sighed, knowing she was just acting. All I wanted to do was train and do what I needed to do. I was just frustrated. Angered by just being compared to Endeavor.
I didn't want to be around him. One half of me was him, the other was Mother. My flames were my brother Touya's. My ice was wild and my fire even hotter. I didn't bother eating with the others. I just focused on my quirks. Everyone got done eating, and I did too. I got up and stretched. My eyes set on my hands. I planted my feet, gritted my teeth, my hair streaks flared and my eyes glew a bright azure. My arms mirrored the glow and I blasted into the air.
My wings spread and I flew further, faster, my body hotter than ever, but I wouldn't hold back. Dad wouldn't. He never would. My body rapidly cooled and I hit the water hard with a shell of Ice around me. It hit the bottom of the lake. My shell broke, and I swam to the surface, my clothes soaked but I still got out. My clothes were fine, fireproof and all. I just dried off with a little heating, but I noticed Momo wiping her nose.
Did she get a nosebleed? Anyway! I took a deep breath and smirked. Instead of heating up and doing a fire dance, I cooled down. At the point I was going full tilt with my ice, it was spreading a lot, and my body froze.
I couldn't use my ice for long… but I kept going, I slowly froze, trying to make my fire stoke. Trying to free myself. I shut my eyes and suddenly flames burst out of me, melting down the ice and I stood back up. I let out too much energy. I know I could do as much as I could, but that wasn't good enough. I flared up again, this time I would catch my fire up to my ice. I gritted my teeth and tensed, my hair and eyes glowing, my neck, veins, and back glew too.
'I had to! I had to! I'll never be good enough! Just… just a little more!' I felt tears sting my eyes, I had to get stronger, otherwise the people I need to protect the most get hurt! I was shoving myself past my limits. I had to. The stronger I get the further I get to my goal. Which was a good life away from all the shit with my adorable wife. Again and again I went at it. Freezing, thawing, freezing, thawing. Over and over, going through the motions.
I just kept slamming into the same wall over and over. Over and over I remembered the same roadblock. A natural half-asser. I just went overboard, slinging fire and ice. Just doing what I always did.I stopped the moment I felt like I was burning. When I did, haziness overtook my vision and I shook my head harshly. I needed to keep going. I was close! For a second there I was wielding both my fire and my ice.
"Hold it! Hold it hold it hold it!" one pussycat yelled. I looked around the cooling ravine around me. I didn't see her, but I had a feeling that whoever called out to me knew I was here. Out from the corner of my eye came the red-suited one. She crossed her arms.
"It's just like him to teach one of his sons to be just as stubborn as him," she sighed, I blinked and crossed my arms.
"Oh, and there's the pose, arms crossed, face dour. But there's something else about you, Koyurei-kun," She sighed, reaching up and batting at my face.
"You have a good heart, and you're softer than him. You might look like him, but the reason why your quirk is as unwieldy as it is… is because of your inner expectations. I have a habit of reading the minds of… traumatized individuals, and yours is different," she said.
"What did it sound like?" I asked.
"Like a scared little boy, he referred to your quirk as Daddy and Mommy, or at least reminding him of them. He always said Daddy was mad at him for not being as strong as him. Maybe gently go at it. Strength isn't gained by force. What did you feel when you flew earlier?" she asked.
I smiled and clenched my fists, "I… I felt awesome! No one else in my family… well… my grandfather could fly with his quirk, and my Dad used to… but then my Grandmother grounded him from flying, so now I'm the only Todoroki who can rule the skies! And thanks to my wings being flame, I can't get cold!" I exclaimed, grinning.
"And your Ice, what about that?" she asked.
"I get really mad. My flames are external rage and freedom, and my ice is more internal rage and stasis. Since I can make walls and barriers with it that Dad can't even melt without some serious oomph, but I can overheat and freeze faster than my brother," I said.
Mandalay smiled, but then got a little confused look on her face.
"What about that volcano thing?" she wondered.
"That, Miss Mandalay, is a family secret!" I exclaimed. She just smirked and I just tried again,
"Wait, wait, you pushed yourself too hard," she said, "Just… try to focus. You're focusing too much on your anger, try to mete it out like… like almost you don't have anything really fueling it."
I closed my eyes, relaxing and feeling the cold on my left and the fire on my right. Everything is blurring together. Then I opened my eyes, seeing the ice spreading around me, breathing out. In. Out. In. Out.
Gentle, feeling my back flare, my ice spreading from my feet. Remembering the first ignition of my fire, my rage set it alight, but now the tingling feeling of warmth was on my shoulders. I held it there for a bit before cooling down, and the ice rose slowly around me. Ignite. Freeze. Ignite. Freeze. Easy breathing and staying calm. Remembering all the good things, all the times Mom would watch TV with us or all those times Grandmother would teach me the breathing technique I used so forcefully.
Slowly, I raised my hand, and burning there gently was my flames, and on my other hand was frost, billowing gently in the air. Mandalay smiled and I looked at her.
"You… might wanna step back," I said, closing my eyes and breathing out and in again, taking it all in. Deep down I remembered the Gungnir attack, spreading my right hand and clapping it into my left, forming it.
Both my flames and ice working together. Two destructive forces working together. I hefted the spear and I chucked it into the sky, it burst into water and fell right on me, I shuddered and smiled.
"Still needs work! Haha!" I declared. I just stretched and yawned, my body slowing down and my eyes slowly closing. I felt so tired, everything I did was done in one go. Determined to be better, to be perfect.
But… maybe, just maybe… that wasn't the way to get stronger. Training was the way, but the journey was just beginning. I just needed to be calm and rational instead of crazy. I felt like training until I puked so I started, ice building up at my feet and fire shooting out of my arms and shoulders, gently and slowly going at it.
This time I didn't wanna puke. This time I wanted to take my time. There was no pressure. So I calmed down and continued on, calming down and focusing, my heat and cold building up pressure in me, before I blasted into the air, ice sending me skyward, fire carrying me way higher than ever.
I felt faster, calmer, more in control than I've ever been. Until… my flames went out, and my ice melted, "h-huh! NO! AAAAAHHHHHHH!" I screamed, landing in the water and surfacing, coughing and heaving.
"Haah… aahh… hoo…" my entire body felt like I bathed it in lava and frigid water I doubled over, my hands scraping the mud and then I forced out more vomit than I've ever done before.
I didn't feel good, I just wanted to go home. I laid there shivering and shaking, my entire body couldn't take the strain of using both my ice and my fire at the same time. I curled into a tiny ball, breathing hard. Islands Fire drains my stamina, but this… this hurts. I turned over and stared up at the slowly setting sky. Meeting me there was Shoto.
"Hey, it's almost time to eat. It's curry, and…"
"YOU BASTARDS DONT KNOW HOW TO FUCKING COOK!" Bakugo screamed, seconds away from blasting the shit outta something, I sighed and walked towards the others. They all saw the rapidly healing burns on my back.
"Bakugo, scooch," I said. He smirked and looked at me with a cocky ass glint in his eyes. I didn't suffer fools lightly, thanks to Grandmother and Dad. I also knew a really exceptional curry recipe from Grandpa's book.
"Oh? And you know how?" he asked. I smirked and got out the small book. It was a Super Sentai notebook that was older than my entire existence. Shoto backed off, and he KNEW which curry I wanted to make.
"Shoto! Get me the hottest shit in the cabinets! And make it fast! We got people to feed!" I commanded, Shoto nodded, suddenly in an apron and ready to go. Momo smiled and waved at me. I took an apron from her and tied it around my waist. If this was a movie, there'd be a montage. I owned the notebook and got out the pot, flicking my fingers and bringing the water and other ingredients to a boil.
"Okay, so… jalapenos, habanero, and… Shoto, produce the test…" I muttered. He paled and gulped.
"Koyurei… you madman, Mom told us she needed five gallons of milk and Dad on standby with emergency services! Don't use Grandmother's secret!" He hissed. I smirked and remembered him sitting with Shiozaki this past week at lunch, talking to her.
"Oh yeah? Well, then… HEY! SHIOZAKI!" I yelled, the vine haired girl turned and smiled, and Shoto looked like he was gonna throttle me.
"Yes, Koyurei," she asked.
"I just wanna say…"
Shoto got in front of me, "I wanted to say that someone, not naming any names, likes you," he said, glaring at me and turning back to the curry. I smiled and pointed at him. Shiozaki's hand flew to her mouth, cheeks crimson.
"Boom! Now kiss!" I exclaimed.
"What! Koyurei, I'm not like you who got it arranged!" he hissed, "Besides! I… I dunno…"
"Aww! You're nervous!" I cooed, She's cute, so… go on and do it! Shoto hesitated some more, his eyes wide before calming down.
"I'm not nervous," he said. I snickered, and he scoffed.
"Dude, you're gonna be fine! Now help me plate all this curry," I said. He grumbled and started passing it out, with him hesitating a little to give Shiozaki hers.
"If the camp brings in a milk truck… wait, that's granddad's notebook," he realized.
"Yeah, which one did you think… oh no…" I breathed, "Who got the… something tells me we need to keep Natsuo away from the kitchen at all costs," I took a plate to Momo and carried my own, seeing Shoto shuffling nervously next to Shiozaki.
He looked up at me, teeth gritted, and I smiled, giving him a thumbs up. He took a deep breath and seemed to gather his courage. I just left him to it. Momo seemed to scarf it down but, everyone was going crazy about it.
"Mm! Koyurei! Where'd you learn this?!" She asked.
"Uhm… from an old notebook my granddad had tucked away for me before… ya know… he died. Me and Shoto… we were little, and my Dad suddenly cut off contact with my grandparents, but that didn't stop our granddad or our grandmother!" I laughed, thinking back to that day.
"Then Flaming Arachnoid just pierces the hull of the Mecha Force Five and rends it! But the Verdant Ranger saved everyone with his cool telekinesis!" I yelled, spreading my hand, Just like you do sometimes, Granddad!
Granddad grinned, his gray hair shining in the sunlight, wrinkles and smile lines stretched along with it, "Really? Well then, I'm glad you found my old acting career entertaining, Kokun!" He exclaimed.
"Wait… you were Verdant Ranger?! So cool!"
"Yeah! I was, but… here," he held out his notebook to me, all full of advice and notes and all that. Of course, I never knew this but… Granddad died soon after, and… his last words to me were…
Never let your past define your future, Koyurei. The past leaves scars, yes, but… I know you and Shoto can do so many things, and I'll always be there, cheering you two on, even if I'm not around to actually be there,
My sticks clanked on the side of the bowl, tears stinging my eyes. I did it… I got it right. For the first time, I got it exactly the way he'd make it! I flared up and stood, my hands out to the sides with fists clenched, tears streaming down my face.
"YESSSSSSSSSS! FINALLY! I DID YOUR LEGACY PROUD, GRANDDAD!" I yelled, crying. Momo just rubbed my back and smiled.
"Why don't we just calm down? It's delicious, honey!" She assured me.
"Yeah! I know!" I exclaimed, "It makes me happy!" I lifted her up and spun her around, holding her tight, and she just laughed. I felt like it freed me from something a long time seeing into everything. Like the shadows were far away. Everyone gathered up and the pussycats all stood with Mr. Kan and Mr. Aizawa. They looked kinda excited and I was too. Ragdoll grinned.
"Oookay! Now that everyone's tum tums are full, It's time to test your courage and take the leap into the WOODS OF TERROR, arr… wait, did you misspell Terror intentionally, Bobby?" she asked Pixie Bob, she nodded.
"Anyway! Class 1A will walk through the woods, and 1B will try to scare them!" she explained. I had an oddly sinking feeling in my chest that something was about to go horribly wrong… Still, we needed some sleep and Momo looked exhausted. I hoisted her into my arms and loosened her hair, carrying her into our room.
I had a terrible feeling about this.
High above the cam stood a veritable menagerie of people but leading them was a man with spiky black hair and dulled blue eyes, staring out through a burnt face, he grinned. Coat billowing and his eyes glaring down at it like an eyesore.
I'll be back when you least expect it, and hell's coming with me.
So, the deal is we get in, get our guy, get the fuck out. But… anyone who gets the chance to do their work and any of them get in our way… well, nobody ever said anything about not killing them, the man named Dabi reasoned, grinning even wider.
"So sleep tight, everyone… you're going to need it." he muttered almost lovingly, but that was gone in seconds.