Fire in the Blood by EllaBesmirched (El_Bell)
Fandom: Boku no Hero Academia/My Hero Academia
Main relationships: Bakugou Katsuki/Midoriya Izuku/Todoroki Shouto; Katsuki and his harem of spouses
For the first time in his life, Shouto Todoroki thinks he might be happy. Freed from his father’s rule by the hand of his husband and now king, Shouto finds himself swept up in his lovers’ embrace, the impending threat of a powerful necromancer and his undead pet with a grudge little more than a distant anxiety easily ignored for the miracle that is being loved by Katsuki and Izuku, and watching them love each other. But, as he feared, such happiness can’t last.
The Todoroki kingdom has fallen, sending its monarchs retreating to the mountains for shelter and aid. With the Todorokis unseated, Katsuki finds the threat of war on his eastern border more dangerous than ever before. A mad man has taken the Todoroki kingdom and he won’t rest until the whole world lies broken at his feet. Tomura Shigaraki must be stopped, but the new alliance forged between the barbarian conqueror and the disgraced flatland king is tenuous at best. As tensions mount, Shouto finds himself trapped between two levees– on one side, his kingdom, his blood, and his legacy, on the other, his lovers, his home, and the family that made him theirs. And he has no idea where he will be standing when the floodwaters break.
Hello kids, today’s review is another fanfic by EllaBesmirched. (I need to figure out another name for my readers but that’s a problem for another day LOL) Fire In The Blood, also known as ‘Todoroki Shouto Can’t Catch a Damn Break’ or ‘Welcome to the Fucked-up Todoroki Show’, is the sequel to Elle’s other work Fire in the Mountains. Check out my review of that fic if you haven’t read it before or need a refresher.
Let me start by saying that I have no idea what it is about Ella’s writing but EVERY TIME I sit down to review her stuff I end up with pages and pages of notes. I have 8 damn pages of notes in my notebook for this review alone. Insanity. LOL
The story opens on a beautiful Spring day where Katsuki and his extended family are enjoying a picnic. It’s peaceful, it’s fun, and then Shouto gets the surprise of his life when his birth family appears. The Todoroki Kingdom has fallen and the Todoroki family, along with Hawks and the Iida siblings, have fled for their lives. When your birth family unexpectedly shows up on your doorstep you know there’s a shitstorm brewing.
I drew this polycule diagram so I could explain this story to my husband. The look of confusion on his face tickled me so much and I knew I had to keep it and add it to my review.
As the story starts it’s been about a month since Katsuki and Shouto’s joining ceremony. About a month since Shouto started being intimate with Katsuki and Izuku. Touching is still a big thing for Shouto and he probably would have burned Hawks when he touched his shoulder in chapter 1 had others not been around. He almost freaked out when Mina, Kiri, and Denki wanted to more intimately touch him in chapter 2 but he seemed to be more open to platonic touching.
Like I mentioned in my review of FitM, between Shouto’s upbringing and his demisexuality, he’s still working on wanting to be intimate and accepting that it’s okay. And that there are different levels of intimacy that he’s learning with Mina in chapter 1, Denki in chapter 9, Kiri in chapter 5.
Chapter 5 was all-encompassing in my brain. I’m overwhelmed (in a good way) about Todoroki and Kiri connecting. Kiri helped Shouto open himself to other types of love. Like Katsuki said in a previous chapter, Shouto was caged in his upbringing. He wasn’t given the room to learn human interaction. So when Shouto finds Kiri in their room, they have a mutual understanding. They both have broken familial relationships and a mutual connection with family members hating Katsuki. Shouto let Kiri in and learned more about himself and Kiri helped him see that it’s okay to want sexual pleasure and not just “need” it. And Kiri was able to receive pleasure and not be treated like a sex toy in the way that others have treated him. It was beautiful how they connected and I loved that Kiri called Shouto his “soulmate’s soulmate.” They strengthened and developed another bond and that’s especially needed in a poly family.
Shouto had so much growth in chapter 9. The fact that he finally feels like he belongs and he was able to act on more of his desires. Being able to indulge in a dominant role with Katsuki, sexual activity with Denki, and acknowledge that he sees something in Mina and Ochako. His younger self would never have seen 21-year-old Shouto this way LOL. I read Shouto as having a “power” kink. He was always under Enji’s thumb but taking everything he learned from his experiences with Denki, Kiri, Katsuki, and Izuku, and even listening to Ochako were power-ups for him. Baby Dom in the making! Speaking of experiences, shoutout to Izuku for topping from the bottom. Whoo.
I feel bad for our poor baby Shouto. He’s still burdened with feeling ashamed about his scars. And he realized that he never asked Izuku about his scars because he assumed that Izuku had the same shame. Forgetting that scars are celebrated in the Outlands. Someone help the baby’s self-esteem!
I related to how Shouto reacted the first time he spoke with Hitoshi. After growing up in a cage and never having anything that was just HIS (not his feelings, not his thoughts) I’d feel violated and freak out, too. I don’t like people in my head and I’d never want someone in my head uninvited. Thankfully, Hitoshi’s interaction with Denki put Shouto a little more at ease. I like Elle’s interpretation of Hitoshi as a mystic and his quirk as the magical ability to read thoughts/see emotions.
I found the references to Katsuki periodically taking a submissive role very interesting. While he’s comfortable during the act, Katsuki wasn’t so comfortable letting other people know. In chapter 1 he was uneasy when he, Shouto, and Izuku were talking about it out at the picnic and again in chapter 9 when Denki barged in on him and Shouto. Ochako’s "domineering” qualities were referenced a few times and I love it. It’s a recurring theme we also see in FitM and in the side story where Katsuki seems afraid of her and yet intrigued and turned on.
Shouto is learning, growing, and trying to balance his newfound family with what he feels he ‘owes’ to his birth family. At first, he didn’t want to ‘traumatize’, his sister and brother about his family situation, but then he said, ‘fuck it’ LOL. He “realized politics and formality could take a flying leap for all he cared.” These are his loves and everyone will have to accept it. (Note that I DO include Izuku as one of Katsuki’s spouses. I know that he technically isn’t but he’s Katsuki’s first love so that counts for me. LOL) Shouto’s wedded family were very welcoming and looked to include Shouto’s birth family. Katsuki, in a totally Katsuki way, set the tone by telling Shouto’s siblings they shouldn’t refer to him by title. “Nah, fuck that shit. Don’t highness me, I don’t play that bullshit with family.” And of course, Denki runs with it to flirt with Natsuo. I cackled when Shouto threatened him to behave, “I will freeze you to your seat, Denki, I swear it.” Katsuki, again, showed how much of a sweetheart he is when he made sure that Rei had her favorite foods during the Equinox celebration.
The burial ritual was beautifully described and I was so tickled by the narrator’s voice, “it was not, in fact, mostly the same” Shouto was exposed once again to a different tradition that he ended up liking better than the one he was raised on. There was such a sense of warmth with the spouses and extended family. And we got some introspection with Katsuki thinking on how he’d like to die.
I love Shouto’s little trio with Izuku and Katsuki. Their interactions tend to be a combo of chaos and insanity LOL. When Katsuki wants Shouto’s attention he has no problem bumping Izuku out of his way. “Katsuki reached back and shoved Izuku with his palm across Izuku’s face without moving away from Shouto at all” Like, sir, what?! LOL In pairs they like to tease the other and Izuku is a little shit cause he repeatedly teased Katsuki for liking to be dominated. And bless their hearts when they get into an argument. “We shouldn’t yell at each other.” Katsuki and Izuku’s baggage makes Izuku nervous but they’re going to have arguments. Katsuki has admitted to trying to be a better man so they’ll get through it. They can be serious and protective like when Katsuki and Isuku stood up to Natsuo because he was being very ‘Enji-like” in criticizing Shouto. And when it comes to Enji’s ass Katsuki comes at him with bite and Izuku meets him with his head raised like an equal.
Shouto’s relationship with his birth family is complicated as hell. Shouto swings from confusion about being relieved that his father was alive and Enji apologizing for not believing their warning about Touya to being pissed at his father for being an ass and asking why Shoto didn’t fulfill his spy mission.
Shouto’s birth family members’ responses to his family situation were interesting. Fuyumi being “scandalized” but wanting more details, Natsuo being completely shocked and wary, his mother giggling, and even Enji’s utter disgust. Not like Enji has any room for judgment since he’s having an affair with Hawks. Hypocrite.
Shoto is in such a hard place of wanting to save and return the Flatlands to his family but being loyal to and choosing to follow Katsuki’s decisions.
I can’t speak about family relations without touching on the sadness of chapter 5. In which both Kiri and Shouto felt like they were on the outside. Upon the arrival of the other tribes, Kiri’s facing heartbreak that he’s shunned by his birth family, and Shouto is feeling distant from his. And can we take a moment to address the fact that after all of the spouses grow old and die, Kiri will have to return home? 😞
On a lighter note, is Ochako pregnant with the first baby of the extended family?! 🤔
This is such an ouch section. From Shouto’s POV, he’s always felt that Touya was unfairly treated. From the moment he learned that Dabi was really Touya he just knew that Dabi was a twisted version of his brother. But maybe as the youngest, his brotherly image was skewed and he didn’t see the real things that happened.
“And he died before you were. Old enough to figure out if he was worth it.”
Shouto learns from multiple people that Touya was cruel and cared little for other people. Natuso told him that Touya had kidnapped him and took him to a dangerous place an hour away. Not the garden where his 5-year-old mind remembered playing and learning fun magic.
“He took you to the labyrinth,” Natsuo said again. “He didn’t tell anyone. You were gone for almost a day.”
And his mother, OH MY! To learn that his mother’s mental state was so wrecked that she confused him for his dead older brother and burned him. Heartbreaking. Something that I’ve been wondering, I don’t think that Shigaraki just randomly picked Touya. I’m starting to think that when Touya started dabbling in necromancy they knew each other before his execution
“They didn’t believe me when I said he had evil in his heart. Not all the time, of course. Loved his mother, loved his brothers, loved his sister. But. Sometimes. Enough. Set a servant girl’s skirts on fire once, when she moved… something of his. Poor girl had a burn on her leg the size of my hand and I. Well. A mother does what she must. I didn’t want to, but he needed to know. Know it’s not nice to burn someone. Know what it felt like. Before he really hurt someone, you see. Your father was so angry he took my tea kettle away.”
Perceptions of Katsuki as King
There are conflicting views of Katsuki as king. Shouto, from an inside perspective, says that Katsuki is a good man and a great king. (I find it interesting that Hawks says that good men can’t be kings.)
Lady Ashido and the Kaminaris raised a fuss about their kids not being at the meetings assuming that Katsuki thinks they are too weak and he’s been tricked by Shoto the “doxy” (a new word for my commonplace book) and Izuku the usurper. In truth, Katsuki just worries about keeping his spouses safe and happy because he loves them. I cheered Shouto on when he snapped at Lady Ashido.
Izuku warns Shouto that the generals don’t have undying loyalty to Katsuki because he conquered the other chiefs and collected the chiefdoms. And that there are snide remarks that he didn’t take the chiefdom from Izuku. Tarloh acknowledges that he does have talent, “Man’s a tactical fucking genius. Brain of a king. Heart of a warrior.” They just think that he’s young and idealistic. For Katsuki, though, he’d rather be that than anything else.
“We’re all fucking naive idealist bastards and I’d rather be a fool on a throne with my family beside me than wise and alone and powerless.”
What can I say about Hawks really?! There were so many allusions Elle left throughout the whole story that there is more to Hawks than anyone knows. In Chapter 2, Shouto notices that it is very odd that somehow Hawks hid behind Enji’s bulk when there should not have been a way for that to happen.
What is it about Hawks that really sets Shouto off but no one else?? Shouto is so disturbed by him but no one else sees it and they think Shouto just finds him attractive which he does but there’s just something about Hawks that unnerves him. Hawks does a lot of things that don’t seem to make sense. He’s more open with Shouto and seems to hide less of himself when they’re one-on-one but he speaks in riddles. Shouto is the only one who ever sees Hawks’ slight facial or body twitches.
The quote “he’d seen exactly what Hawks had wanted him to see” says a lot about him. Hawks only does things that benefit Hawks and I sort of wonder if he was so purposely so loud while having sex with Enji. Shouto remembers in the past that Hawks appeared out of nowhere or was more visible in places than you would think a spymaster wouldn’t.
At the same time, the one person who SHOULD get a read on him can’t. His mind is completely blank to Shinsou and he tries multiple times. All of the sneakiness comes to a head in chapter 11. I won’t give that away because it deserves to be experienced in writing.
I will end this by saying that chapter 11 left me screaming. I felt like this is why we can’t have nice things! LOL (If you’ve already read the chapter and want to talk about it PLEASE hit me up. I need to scream with others! LOL) Shouto’s gonna be a badass ruler when this is all over. If they all make it through the coming storm.