Izuku’s pencil tapped a staccato rhythm against his notebook. The clock on the wall ticked quietly, each second matching the tempo of Izuku’s tapping. The classroom was silent for now, but anticipation coated the air. There was a rustle of clothing, a sigh, a yawn, the scrape of a chair. Heavy, punctuated breathing. Izuku’s pencil tapped a little louder before abruptly stopping and scribbling something down. The students were waiting for the final bell. The teacher was strict enough that nobody dared speak. Most were concentrated on actually studying. Izuku wished that he could say the same for himself.
His eyes drifted slowly upwards, but he did not look at the figure directly next to him. This was a disgusting apparition. Its skin was pale white and its figure was horrendously misshapen. One of its eyes was larger than Izuku’s head. What looked to be blood oozed from two orifices in the side of its...body? Something like hair or feathers decorated an appendage that reached out and brushed the edge of Izuku’s desk. Izuku knew better to acknowledge it even as sweat broke out on his skin. He couldn’t focus.
A rasping breath. A mumble too low to understand. Izuku’s hair stood up on his arm. He couldn’t feel the apparition breathing, but he imagined that he did. He just wanted it to move on and leave him alone. He didn’t like it so close to him. He knew it wasn’t real, but that didn’t make it any less terrifying and disgusting.
Hallucinations like this were common in Izuku’s life. He saw terrible things on a daily basis. Figures that almost resembled real life, but were distorted in disturbing ways. If any of Izuku’s hallucinations looked normal, he couldn’t tell them apart from reality. He preferred to think that all of his hallucinations were grotesque, but that was terrifying in its own way. He hated that his mind would do this to him. He didn’t even know what had happened to him as a child to trigger something like this.
Nobody else could see the creature. They couldn’t hear the sliding sound of its skin as it shifted in place, moving around behind Izuku instead. Izuku eyed its other appendage as it came around Izuku’s other side to touch at his chest and neck. Izuku closed his eyes. He still couldn’t feel it, but he wanted to vomit nonetheless.
Please leave. He begged silently. He tried his best not to show his fear on his face. He had been taught to never acknowledge the hallucinations. Acknowledging them only made them act worse. Crazier. On particularly bad days Izuku had learned to run home because it was the safest place he knew. He never saw the hallucinations in his house. Please leave! Please leave! Please leave! Go away!!
The hallucinations never listened to him. His mind hated him like that. It took all of his will not to say it aloud. The results would only end up as disastrous. Izuku felt like he was fighting some hidden part of himself when he didn’t even know what it wanted from him.
He heard the creature’s breathing get closer. The hairs on Izuku’s neck stood on end and his skin prickled. His ear tingled unpleasantly, hyper-sensitive to his surroundings. He couldn’t even pretend to write anymore as his eyes squeezed shut harder. But closing them only made him more aware of the sounds the hallucination was making. His hands shook a little-
The bell chimed, and Izuku’s eyes snapped open at the abrupt rush of noise. Students shifted and gathered their things before the teacher called them to attention. Izuku followed through the motions as he stood with everyone else and then quickly gathered his stuff. He tried not to look too strange as he shoved his stuff into his bag. He was already thinking about returning home.
Before he got too far, though, he heard his nickname barked out, “OI! DEKU!” Izuku froze and spun slowly towards the voice. Katsuki stood beside his desk with two of his friends. The hallucination slinked between Izuku’s vision of the other boys, cutting it off, before moving to Izuku’s other side. Izuku tried desperately not to watch it.
“Um...Y-Yeah, Kacchan?” Izuku asked meekly, his eyes already darting to the ground to avoid eye contact. He didn’t want to start anything with Katsuki and his friends. Katsuki could be kind of mean to Izuku, and he really didn’t want to deal with his old childhood friend’s stupid attitude on top of everything else. He just wanted to go home already like all the other students were doing. Most weren’t even giving them the time of day, too caught up in themselves or too used to the scene.
“Aw look at him!” One of Katsuki’s friends said, his smile splitting across his mouth. He leaned through the side of the hallucination and took no notice to how it grumbled more unintelligible words. It didn’t really pay much attention to him either. “He’s already scared! What’s wrong? Seeing things again?”
“I’m not...not seeing things.” Izuku lied and cursed his stuttering. He kept a shaky smile on his face, but he really was uncomfortable and scared. He didn’t want this hallucination near him any longer. If he was bullied enough, though, he would have an excuse for running away. Most of the hallucinations didn’t follow him if he ran...if he didn’t give away he could see them at least.
“What’s the world look like to you, Deku?” Katsuki asked with a sneer and a dark tone as he approached Izuku. He got straight in the boy’s face and grinned before a hand landed on his shoulder. Izuku glanced at it and saw that the hallucination monster was also draped across Izuku’s shoulder. Katsuki’s hand began to burn then with his quirk and Izuku stiffened in fear. His coat sizzled, but it was the scream of the monster that made him really flinch. The monster retracted its appendage and darted in to scream in Katsuki’s ear, furious. Izuku maintained eye contact with Katsuki, terrified for him, but the boy’s smile only seemed to widen.
“Do you see anything that’s real? Dumbass.” Katsuki taunted and squeezed his smoking shoulder again before pushing Izuku backwards. He stumbled on the chair of a desk and toppled over it. The monster remained by Katsuki, attempting to touch him and failing. It seemed to try to attack him, its misshapen teeth biting down on his arm, but it only went through him. He laughed with his friends at Izuku’s fall.
“K-Kacchan, you-!” Izuku began, but he was cut off by Katsuki’s other friend who mocked him and said, “God, what a little freak! What is it? Do we look like monsters?” He waved his fingers around, extending them with his quirk to look spookier. Izuku just thought he looked stupid. Especially compared to the creature who had stopped being furious at Katsuki and who had instead turned its attention back to Izuku. Izuku could see saliva oozing from an orifice as his reflection glanced back at him in the dead dewiness of the creature’s eyeball.
“Shut up!” Katsuki barked at them and slapped one on the shoulder before pushing away from them. “Let’s go already.”
“Seriously?” His friend asked.
“Got better things to do then mess with him.” Katsuki grumbled, but Izuku was only a little surprised. He only said a quiet, “Bye…” as the group of three left. The hallucination slithered after Katsuki instead of Izuku, which was a relief for Izuku at least. Despite still being on the ground, his body relaxed and he collapsed back against the floor and closed his eyes. Other than the chatter of students outside of the classroom and footsteps echoing through the hallways, the classroom was silent. No heavy breathing. No sound of dripping. No ragged words. Just Izuku, breathing easier.
He only gave himself a few seconds before climbed back to his feet and righted the chair he had tripped over. He hadn’t realized that all of his stuff had spilled out of his bag when he had tripped. He sighed and gathered it all up before he left the classroom.
He didn’t like who Katsuki had become over the years. They used to be friends when they had been children running around the neighborhood together and taking over the preschool playground. Katsuki had always been a jerk who had been full of himself, but he hadn’t completely dismissed Izuku’s presence like he did now. He didn’t use to make fun of the creatures that Izuku had seen even though he had known about them. Katsuki actually used to pretend he could see them too, and Izuku had been absolutely convinced that he could. But now he just wondered if Katsuki’s descriptions of the horrible things Izuku could see had only changed how they looked.
Izuku missed his friendship with Katsuki. To this day he still didn’t know why Katsuki had abruptly decided he wasn’t worth his time. Izuku suspected it started when Katsuki learned he was Quirkless. But even for a couple of years after that Katsuki had treated him like a friend (if a useless one, hence the cruel nickname) up until he decided it wasn’t worth the time. Izuku didn’t think Katsuki actually hated him. Izuku just thought Katsuki was wrapped up in his own little world with his determination to go to U.A. High School to become a hero, and that anyone who tried to follow him needed to be shown their place. That wouldn’t stop Izuku from trying, though, and that was why Katsuki kept kicking him down.
Izuku opened up his locker and pulled off his indoor shoes. He leaned down to pick them up and when he straightened, he saw that the top half of his locker was completely taken up by another hallucination. It was almost child-shaped, but its limbs were bent at unnatural angles. It groaned as if in pain as its long hair draped over Izuku’s shoes. Its beady eyes watched him. Izuku had to put his shoes on the shelf it was sitting on. But that required reaching through it.
Izuku pretended to look at his phone to buy himself some time and to not look suspicious to the hallucination. If it even got the hint that he was acknowledging it, Izuku ran the risk of it getting angry. And though it couldn’t hurt him anymore than the other one could hurt Katsuki, Izuku could still hear the noises it could make and he didn’t want to make them angry. They looked even worse when they were angry.
He had learned his lesson the last time one of them had gotten angry, although it had been only a dream of sorts. He and Katsuki were hunting the hallucinations when they were seven years old. There was a particularly ugly one that liked to hang out at the park that they liked, so Katsuki had suggested that they fight it. Izuku had been nervous but on board for it because Katsuki was his cool and strong friend, and they were going to be a hero duo together. They could take on the playground monster! At the time Izuku wasn’t sure what he had thought they could do, but it had made sense that they could get rid of the hallucination. He wanted the playground to be fun again.
Something happened that day. Izuku didn’t remember the full details of it. He supposed that his mind got particularly bad when they angered the hallucination by calling it out. He remembered the world distorting. He remembered the hallucination leaping at him and both him and Katsuki screaming. And then he had woken up at home in his bed. He had been told that he had passed out from whatever he had seen, and his mother had begged him to ignore the monsters. There was a crescent shaped scar on his arm now, but the source was something Izuku couldn’t figure out. There hadn’t been anything on the playground that could make that shape. For years he had been convinced it had been the monster itself that had made the scar, but he had grown out of that. They weren’t real. The fact that Katsuki had long since grown up and had mocked Izuku for still pretending to see them proved that he had been the only one to really see them.
Izuku continued to look at his phone and reached in to place his indoor shoes on the shelf where the creature was at. It groaned in agony as he did, although Izuku could not feel it at all. He still felt the hairs on his arms spike and he resisted the urge to vomit. He grabbed his outdoor shoes quickly and threw them to the floor before slamming his locker. He put away his phone and pulled on his shoes before fast-walking away from the locker. A full-bodied shudder went through him.
It was better that nobody else could see what he could see, although Izuku desperately wished that there was medication available that would make them go away. Most of his days were spent without seeing many of the hallucinations. The world was as normal as Izuku could expect it to be. It looked like anime on television and how others saw the world. But if he looked, he would find other creatures around. Some of them were by themselves, and other s traveled in groups. The ones that were grouped up were the worst. The hallucinations seemed cannibalistic and didn’t like each other.
Izuku wondered if when he was really little he had been traumatized by something on television to cause this. Or if his mind really was just that messed up. He didn’t like asking about it because it would just upset his mother.
Izuku kept his head low as he walked. He didn’t really have time to worry about these things. He needed to focus on the fact that the U.A. exam was coming up soon and he would need to prepare for it. As he was at that moment, he didn’t think he was strong enough to pass. But what kind of training could he do to actually pass the exam? He didn’t really have a frame of reference.
He passed under a bridge and sighed before pausing. He reached into his backpack and pulled out the notebook he had been attempting to write in at the end of class. He flipped through a few pages to find his ideas. He had written down some things that he had seen Katsuki do to train on the few days Izuku had caught him training, but would Katsuki only get mad at him for copying him? Probably.
The sewer grate beside Izuku began to bubble with thick green slime. Izuku eyed it and made a face. That was the third time today he was seeing these things. It was bad luck. He took a couple of steps away from it and tried to ignore it. His mother had told him he couldn’t let his life revolve around these things that he saw. He had to focus on the real world and not get lost in his delusions. He wouldn’t let this slime hallucination distract him-
The slime burst upwards from the sewer lid, an eye and teeth bulging from it as a clear voice said, “Well what do we have here? A body in M-size…”
Izuku spun around, mouth opening and eyes widening as the first drop of the slime hit his arm. His stomach churned as the shadow of the slime monster arched over him. Not a hallucination!! His mind screamed as he brought his arms to protect himself when the slime came down onto his body and he was swallowed up.
Colors blurred together as thick slime encompassed and swirled around Izuku. He could feel the pressure on his chest and dragging his limbs down. The creature - or human? - threatened to swallow him completely. Izuku could only flail and kick as he tried desperately to escape and get air. But his body seemed to grow weaker far too quickly. It was like he was trying to fight through tar. He only managed to break through in bits in pieces before he would be swallowed again. Air became scarce as he managed to claw the slime person away from his face enough to see daylight.
But what he saw was not the bridge nor the sky nor the road. Instead it was like the world was distorted and transformed into an alternate vision of itself. The bridge looked to be made of a kaleidoscope of paper, and the road was gunmetal silver that was tarnished. Izuku didn’t have time to wonder about it before he was pulled under again.
He clawed at the slime, but the monster only cackled at him. “I’m amorphous.” It bragged. “You can’t touch me!”
He squeezed his eyes shut as he got his mouth free just briefly and pulled in blessed air. The slime slithered and curled around his limbs. He saw the teeth and eyes of the creature slip past him. Words crooned at him to give in. Izuku felt like his very energy was being taken from his body. The creature only seemed to thrive the longer Izuku struggled, becoming stronger as he became weaker. Tears flooded Izuku’s eyes and he bit back a sob because he was terrified, but the slime forced open his mouth to make him begin to swallow.
Is this where I die? He wondered desperately to himself. He hadn’t done anything with his life. He was still so young and his life had been meaningless. There was still so much he needed to do. So much he wanted to experience and do. He still wanted to become a hero. Fall in love. Have a family, maybe. His mother would be so sad. He didn’t know if she would be able to bear having lost a husband and her son. Izuku didn’t want to die. He screamed mentally with desperation, Someone...save me!! I’m dying…!!
“NEVER FEAR, BOY!” Izuku heard as something went flying and a figure appeared in his vision. It was a mass of a man, but not one that Izuku could see well as slime threatened to overrun his vision again. He was certain he was hallucinating again, though, because he could swear that was- “BECAUSE I AM HERE!”
Suddenly the slime burst from Izuku, fleeing his lungs and mouth as he dropped to the ground. He watched as the creature burst from sheer wind pressure and was thrown from him. Izuku gaped and blinked.
“A-A-A-ALL MIGHT?!” He cried, but black was already attempting to come over his vision. He gasped for air, but the excitement and fear were too much. He blacked out.
He was woken up to rapid, soft tapping on his face. He blinked his eyes open blearily, confused on when he had fallen asleep even though he hadn’t felt like he had fallen asleep. His sight was filled with the familiar visage of his favorite hero as the man said, “Thank goodness you’re okay!”
“WHAAAA-?!” Izuku cried out, when a hand quickly covered his mouth and All Might’s smile lessened just a little.
“You’re certainly a lively young man, and that’s wonderful! But I need you to be as quiet as possible right now!” All Might said. Izuku’s head was spinning while trying to wrap his mind around the fact that All Might - The number one Pro Hero ALL MIGHT! - was there with him (another hallucination? A good hallucination??) but he wasn’t stupid enough to let his head take him away when All Might was clearly being serious. That, and he could very clearly feel the man’s hand on his face.
Izuku hummed in understanding behind All Might’s hand. The man released him and looked around them. That was when Izuku really got a look at their surroundings. He reeled from what he saw. The sky was a hazy, horrid green color. Images of figures moved in jerky patterns across it. Shadows bled across the ground from the distorted tree that he had been propped against. The shadows twisted and spiked upwards, going from flat across the ground to entering the air. They were hiding Izuku and All Might for the most part. The world’s colors were shifted. Izuku felt like he was looking at a patchwork of different art styles that were meant to represent the world he was used to...but barely any of it looked normal.
“Wha...What is this place?” Izuku asked. It took him a moment then to wonder if his hallucinations had suddenly taken a turn for the worse with the attack. Had they taken over his entire vision? Was he seeing anything that was real? Was he still even under that bridge? His limbs began to shake at the very thought that maybe he was finally losing his mind-
“Nevermind that now.” All Might said, and he stayed crouching near Izuku. “We must be quick. Can you stand at all?”
“What are we doing?” Izuku asked, showing that he could stand by hefting himself to his feet. He wobbled a little, more disoriented than he thought he would be from passing out, and then held his head. He squeezed his eyes shut, then shook his head to clear the fatigue before he looked to All Might. He would do anything that the man told him to do.
“I needed to pull you away from the possessed.” All Might explained. “Are you able to defend yourself at all? I do not have the ability to defeat the spirit inside of the villain.”
Izuku just gave him a blank look. “Possessed? Spirit?”
All Might returned the confused look. “Do you not-? Oh.” He paused and then asked quickly, “Do you have any idea what I’m referring to?” Izuku just frowned in confusion. He had no idea what All Might was talking about. Was this some kind of term for this type of villain? Izuku had never heard it used before. “You have no idea.” All Might seemed amazed. “But you had called out so powerfully for help-? No. Nevermind. Listen closely, young man!” He grabbed Izuku’s shoulder. “I need to get you away from here as quickly as possible. The villain is still around and in search of you. I had to pull you away from him while he was gathering himself again. I need you to run back towards the tunnel and search for a, uh, white light. It will be glowing. You may need to search a bit. You need to go through it!”
“What about you?” Izuku asked, fully prepared to follow through but utterly baffled on what kind of instructions he was receiving. What kind of white light? Would he even be able to find the tunnel in this kind of place? His mind was going out of control. But if he ran far enough, surely he could get away? He would call his mother then if he could to have her pick him up.
“I will find the villain. I’m sorry I cannot come with you. I will lead him from you.” All Might’s smile widened and he gave Izuku a thumbs up. Izuku’s eyes widened and his heart soared. A fake or not, he was looking at All Might in that moment. His mind could be going crazy, but it was worth it to meet his favorite hero. “You can do it!” He pointed in a direction. “It is not far from here! You will know it when you see it! And do not be afraid of anything you may see! It can’t hurt you. Just keep running!”
Izuku still had no idea what that meant, but he nodded. He would make the hero proud. “Yes, All Might!” He cried. All Might released him then and turned, so Izuku ran as instructed. He wanted to stay and watch the battle, but he was absolutely certain that none of this was even real. He could not stick around. He didn’t know how much time had passed since he had fainted. So he ran.
His footsteps crunched across what sounded like ice as the ground splintered under his feet but never shattered. The shadows seemed to chase him and the figures in the air whispered words in languages he couldn’t understand. His hair stood on end as he realized this world wasn’t just strange - it was scary. He saw eyes appearing in the darkness around him. Nothing came for him, but Izuku felt like he was being watched from every angle. The very air creaked and the trees grumbled with discontent. Izuku only ran faster.
The tunnel was easy to find just as All Might had said, but Izuku skidded to a stop before he got close. There was a chasm that had ripped the ground upwards. It was still freshly crumbling, so Izuku knew it had just opened recently. He had not felt the ground move, though. He froze at the edge of the darkness and saw things moving in the depths below. Shadows moving against slightly darker shadows. A darkness too deep to fathom. Izuku felt dizzy looking into it.
“Oh no…” He whispered, voice trembling. He took two shaky steps backwards. The tunnel was on the other side of the chasm. It was not too wide, but it was too far to jump. Izuku would have to find the end of the crack in the earth to get around to the tunnel. He would have to do that.
But...wasn’t this all in his mind? In the real world he knew that the tunnel had nothing like a hole anywhere near it. Some trees, yes, but it was a simple street. If this was all in his head, he must just be seeing a chasm. He could just walk forward, right?
He looked down into the chasm and gulped. He didn’t know. He could feel wind coming up from it. There was a sugary-sweet scent in the air, but it was thick and syrupy, wrong. It did nothing to whet his appetite and only made his stomach roil. He couldn’t look into the darkness for too long.
What could he do? Should he attempt it anyway? Run and jump and if he failed he would land on his feet? His mother said to ignore the things that he saw. All Might said not to be afraid. He couldn’t be a coward. He couldn’t let his sickness overcome him!
Izuku took a deep breath and stepped back a bunch of paces more. He would make a run for it. He saved up all of his bravery. He would prove to All Might that he could do this. He could do it! Izuku ran as fast as he could and jumped-
An explosion ripped through the air and something rammed into Izuku, throwing him back the way he came. He was slammed into the ground and his eyes popped open from the force to see Katsuki above him with a furious scowl on his face. Smoke billowed around him from the hand on Izuku’s chest as well as his free hand.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing, moron?!” The boy yelled.
“Kacchan?!” Izuku cried. Was this a fake as well? But he could clearly feel Katsuki’s hand on him! And the scent of smoke was as clear as day. That glow in Katsuki’s eyes couldn’t be faked by Izuku’s imagination. “What are you-?”
“You shouldn’t even be in here!” Katsuki snapped at him. He turned his attention away from Izuku to look around them quickly. “Where the fuck is the thing that pulled you here?”
“Here?” Izuku asked, lost.
“The thing! The ugly motherfuckers you see all of the time! Where is it?! One had to have pulled you here!” Katsuki barked at him, impatient on the best of days. He was testy at the moment.
Izuku only gaped at him. “A-A-A villain attacked me-”
“A villain?” Katsuki looked confused for a moment before understanding dawned on his face. “Fuck. A possessed.” He stood up and finally released Izuku. He grabbed Izuku’s forearm and yanked him to his feet. Izuku let out a little yelp. “Where did the villain go?”
“All Might was after him-”
“All Might?!” Now Katsuki looked utterly baffled.
“I-I-I might have imagined him…” Izuku clarified, wincing and waiting for judgement.
“You’re not imagining anything!” Katsuki snapped at him. “If you saw All Might, then he’s actually here!” He looked around them trying to find the man. “He can take care of the villain-” He muttered to himself, but didn’t get to finish as a low chuckle filled the air. The whisperings got louder and the wind hissed with giddiness. Izuku and Katsuki both tensed. Katsuki yanked Izuku a little closer and released him so his hands were free. His hands crackled with his explosion quirk, clearly preparing to attack.
Izuku looked warily towards the chasm, but the rush of wind didn’t come from it. Slime exploded from the spiked shadows of the ground and arched upwards with grinning, huge teeth and wide eyes. “Found you!” The villain cried. Katsuki spun and shoved Izuku out of the way before the slime villain could get Izuku, his free hand shooting off an explosion that the villain curved around. It screamed from the attack, though, blood flying and splattering the air before abruptly disappearing. That didn’t stop the slime from covering Katsuki, though.
“Kacchan!” Izuku cried from the ground and scrambled back to his feet. He ran to go help - he had to be able to help somehow! - but then he heard All Might again yell,
“Stay back, young boy!” Izuku came to a stop and turned to see All Might dart in close using the speed he got from his quirk. He pulled back a fist and called, “DETROIT SMASH!” before punching through the slime villain. The air pressure once again shoved the villain off of Katsuki this time, but not all of it left. Even as the slime was blown backwards, launching the now-unconscious villain towards the road behind it, the foot seemed to catch. Another figure was clinging to Katsuki instead.
The figure was taller than a normal human with a twisted, broken-toothed smile stretching across its face. Splatter covered its face like stars and wisps of hair covered the top of its head, neck and arms. Its eyes came out of its head in three places on stalks like a snail. Its mouth hung open and drooled as its long arms snaked around Katsuki’s waist and between his legs and back up again. The foot of the villain seemed still attached to the horrible monster.
Izuku blanched at the sight. It was sickening enough to see such a vile creature, but it was worse because it was actually touching Katsuki . They had never been able to touch Katsuki before. Izuku’s body froze up with fear as Katsuki let out an angry scream and launched and explosion with his hand, but the monster wrapped its leg up and over his arm to pin it. The monster’s body moved unnaturally against its own joints. Katsuki’s explosion hit the ground instead
“A-All Might…!” Izuku turned to his hero. All Might was already charging to help. However, his hands went through the monster with every attempt to grab it. He tried to pull Katsuki away, but the monster clung to him as if it was also a part of Katsuki. All Might had to pull his hand back before the creature swiped out at him. Katsuki attempted another explosion and got his other arm caught by the leg of the monster for his attempt, causing the explosion to hit the ground.
“I cannot touch the spirit.” All Might lamented with frustration as he backed towards Izuku. Izuku gave him a horrified look.
“GET THE HUMAN!” Katsuki yelled at him instead, struggling but not scared despite his circumstances. He seemed to be glowing with an orange light that cast no light onto anything. It was like he was surrounded with the aura. “I can take care of this bastard!”
“Right!” All Might called, and ran for the unconscious villain. He began to gather him up, pulling the villain from where Katsuki was struggling with the monster, but the slime person’s leg was still attached. Katsuki tilted his head away from the teeth of the monster attempting to bite him, but it seemed unable to break through the orange aura around the boy. He twisted his hand a little and let off another explosion aimed towards the foot of the person. The explosion burned the monster and made it scream an ear-splitting shriek. The aura around Katsuki shot out from his hand and sliced through the foot, cutting some kind of connection that had been keeping the human and the monster combined. All Might was able to yank the human away then.
Izuku didn’t know what to make of what he was seeing. His ears were ringing from the scream. Katsuki seemed more angry than scared as the light around him expanded and pushed the monster back further. But it didn’t get far before its fingers seemed to break through the barrier. Katsuki physically buckled a little at the crack that ripped through the air. Izuku flinched from the sound of it.
“Young boy!” All Might cried, stopping what he was doing. The concern in his voice had Izuku understanding that this - whatever the hell he was seeing - was not good.
Katsuki looked to be sweating. His struggles were lessening as his focus seemed to be on maintaining whatever this light was. His hands were pinned so he could not hurt the monster anymore, and it began to attack him now with its teeth. Bits of the orange-gold aura turned smokey and entered its mouth. Katsuki let out a curse and fear crossed his face as the sharp fingers of the monster punctured skin.
Izuku couldn’t sit still. All Might said he couldn’t do anything to the monster. He didn’t know what that meant, but if All Might wasn’t already helping it meant that he couldn’t. Izuku couldn’t leave him alone.
He darted forward, his feet carrying him before his mind was fully made up. He threw off his backpack and spun around before launching it at the creature. It did nothing but sail through it, untouched. Izuku screamed and launched himself onto the back of the monster instead. He heard All Might call out for him. Izuku was stunned when he actually did land on the monster.
It yelled and arched back, tearing a hand away from Katsuki to go for Izuku. Izuku was desperate and grabbed the monster. He didn’t pay attention to the electricity that seemed to spark around his body, glowing with green energy as he yanked the arm hard and fell backwards. The monster howled as its arm broke from its body, sinew tearing with a wet sound that had Izuku gaping. He screamed and threw the arm. His body still crackled with energy. The lightning zipped out from him without permission and lashed at the monster. Izuku felt like the very air was torn from his body as slashes appeared across the monster’s back and oozed plasma.
Katsuki’s arm was freed and he let out a triumphant noise. His hand pressed to the face of the monster as it glowed viciously bright with energy. “Die.” Katsuki growled before an explosion destroyed the monster’s head. The body of the creature went lax and dropped away from Katsuki where the boy aimed his hands again and let another explosion rip. Violent orange energy wrapped around the explosion and left only a splatter on the ground. He repeated the action with the arm Izuku had ripped off.
Izuku stared with wide eyes as his body wavered. The lightning that had wrapped around him faded, leaving him drained and light-headed. He saw Katsuki turn to regard him, panting as well and holding his side where the monster’s fingers had pierced him. Red coated his hand. Izuku’s ears were ringing as All Might came up to them and said something to Katsuki that Izuku couldn’t hear. He felt vomit in his throat, but he felt more exhausted than anything. Try as he might, he couldn’t stay awake.
All Might pointed towards Izuku and said something. Katsuki spoke as well and came over to Izuku and snapped in his face. Izuku’s visions went black on the edges.
“I-I’m gonna…” Izuku tried to warn them, but didn’t finish before he blacked out once more.
“Hey. Wake up already!” Izuku stirred, but it was like there was a thick blanket pressing down on him on all sides that was keeping his eyes closed. He could feel his limbs, but he couldn’t really get them to respond to him. His mind drifted a little and attempted to doze off again when there was a sharp pain to his face. Izuku yelped and his eyes snapped open, hand coming to cover his head. He opened his slightly-watering eyes to see Katsuki glaring at him. “Don’t just fucking lay around all day! I’m not carrying your dumb ass!”
“Kacchan?” Izuku asked and his words slurred. His head was throbbing like it did when he squinted at his notebooks for too long when it was a little too dark to read. He rubbed at the soreness and pushed himself to sit up with shaking arms. He looked at his hands in surprise to see them trembling. He was...he was exhausted . He felt like he had run for half the day and hadn’t had a chance to sit down. Was this an adrenaline crash? Some kind of side effect to passing out twice?
Then he remembered everything that he had seen before he had passed out and looked around him. He was back under the same tunnel where he had been attacked, but nothing was strange. The air was clear, the sky outside of the tunnel was the right color, and everything was...normal. It was as if Izuku had just gotten knocked out or something. Even the sewer lid where Izuku had seen the slime monster (villain?) come out was back where it had been. Izuku suddenly wasn’t sure anything that he had seen had occurred.
He laughed a little to himself, distraught. He brought a hand to his mouth. He could still imagine the taste of the slime in his mouth and down his throat. The sensations still lingered in his skin. Had all of that been another hallucination? Was he really losing his mind? Tears sprang to his eyes at the thought.
“I’m going insane…” Izuku mumbled behind his hand, eyes squeezing to resist crying in front of Katsuki even though he just wanted to break down.
“You’re not.” Katsuki said gruffly. Izuku’s head shot up to look at him and he gasped at what he saw. Katsuki was holding his side that still had blood on it. His hand was stained with red, but Katsuki didn’t seem to be struggling. He only glared at Izuku, ignoring his own wound. His breathing was heavier and there was a layer of sweat on his face that Izuku knew couldn’t be from heat.
“You’re injured!” Izuku cried. He wanted to help him, but he knew Katsuki would just swat away his efforts. “You...Wait. Wait, was it- Was that-?”
“Yes, all of that was real. No, you’re not fucking insane. Yes, this hurts like a bitch. Get your ass up and let’s go already! We need to get to the road so my folks can pick us up!” Katsuki pushed himself to his feet. He winced a little, but he was overall fine. Izuku didn’t really understand what was happening, but he listened and tried to climb to his feet too. His legs buckled under him and a rush of exhaustion ran over Izuku again. He blinked a few times. Katsuki grabbed his arm and yanked him up and held him so he would stay standing. Izuku wobbled and felt lightheaded again, but he regained his bearings after a moment.
“Thanks.” He said with confusion in his voice. “I don’t know what-”
“Overused your energy.” Katsuki said, after if that explained everything. He continued to hold onto Izuku’s arm as he moved forward, limping very slightly from the pain.
“But I didn’t really do anything.” Izuku said.
“No, but the fucking spirit probably zapped you without you noticing. You never fucking notice.”
“Huh?” Now he was completely lost.
Katsuki gnashed his teeth together and didn’t respond for a moment before finally snapping and yelling at him, “Look, just shut the hell up for now! You want answers? Fucking wait for them!”
Izuku winced and lowered his gaze automatically like he did whenever Katsuki shouted at him. “S-Sorry.”
Katsuki watched him for a moment longer before turning his gaze back ahead of them. He released Izuku once he saw that Izuku was walking well enough on his own. Silence surrounded them. Izuku had so many questions he wanted to ask. The first and foremost was: what the heck had that been?! Had he really seen All Might in the flesh? Had they both been able to see those hallucinations? What had happened to the world? Why had Katsuki been so calm during it? Some of it had to have been real considering Katsuki’s injury, but maybe Izuku had seen differently than what had occurred? He just didn’t know. And he knew Katsuki wouldn’t tell him.
“Stop muttering so much!” Katsuki told him.
“Sorry.” Izuku responded, also automatically. He couldn’t help his muttering habit. He hadn’t even realized that he had been doing it. “But…”
“What?” He demanded.
“Did we...really see All Might?” Izuku asked hopefully, glancing at his childhood friend. Katsuki didn’t look to him, but his face had softened just a tiny bit.
“...Yeah. That was All Might.”
A slow smile began to spread across Izuku’s lips before a grin broke out. “We met All Might! Kacchan, I can’t believe it! Can you-?! AAAHH!!” Izuku suddenly screamed, and Katsuki started before looking at him sharply. Izuku’s hands flew to his hair. “I DIDN’T GET HIS AUTOGRAPH!!”
“ That’s what you’re freaking out about?!” Katsuki snapped.
“That was like a once in a lifetime chance!” Izuku lamented, dropping his hands and head so he was a little slumped as he walked. “When am I ever gonna meet All Might again…?”
Katsuki didn’t respond. Izuku was left mourning his own faults. He couldn’t get too upset with himself considering everything that had happened...but it was still a huge loss on his part. An actual autograph just for Izuku would’ve been an amazing addition to his collection of merchandise. It was an opportunity that he would not come by easily.
“Check your bag.” Katsuki finally said after a few minutes. The sounds of cars were getting louder. They were approaching an intersection where Izuku knew there were a number of stores nearby. Would Katsuki’s parents be picking them up from there?
“My bag?” Izuku asked.
“There they are.” Katsuki said instead, nodding ahead of them. Izuku looked as well and saw uncle Masaru and aunt Mitsuki both standing by a car Izuku recognized as the Bakugou’s car. Uncle spotted Katsuki first and closed his car door quickly before rushing over to them. Mitsuki followed soon after.
“Katsuki!” Uncle breathed and looked his son over with horror. His face darkened with worry as he got closer to Katsuki’s height. He had a first-aid kit on him. “Oh dear, it got you badly.”
“It’s not that bad.” Katsuki denied, but he hissed when his father touched the wound.
“Shit, how did it get you?” Auntie asked, looking her son over as well. They had yet to acknowledge Izuku.
“Dammit, I told you that it was jacked up on his-” Katsuki shot a hand out to point at Izuku, who flinched, “-energy!”
Finally, uncle and auntie actually looked towards Izuku. Izuku gave a small, nervous smile. “H...Hi.”
Uncle let out a sigh through his nose. “I guess the cat’s out of the bag, huh?”
“What do you mean?” Izuku asked.
“You haven’t told him anything?” He asked his son instead with surprise.
“‘Course not! It’s Auntie’s fuckin’ job to tell him!” Katsuki sneered.
“Mom? My mom?” Izuku asked, now looking between all of them with even more anxiety. What did his mother have to do with this? Did she somehow know something about what had happened? Oh god, did anyone even tell his mom where he was? Izuku wasn’t exactly late, but he was sure she would want to know what had happened. He could just tell her he was with auntie and uncle, though. They visited the Bakugous often enough that his mom wouldn’t have any problem coming to visit them again. It sounded like she would be coming over anyway.
“It really is Inko’s decision.” Mitsuki said, crossing her arms. Uncle ushered all of them into a vacant alleyway and away from prying eyes before he motioned for his son to pull off his jacket. Katsuki did so, exposing his white undershirt that was bleeding into red. He peeled it away from his wound and lifted his shirt to expose it. Izuku blanched at the sight of the puncture wounds. He could still see the fingers of the monster that had gone into him. Izuku glanced around them to see if he could spy anymore at the moment, but it was clear.
“I know.” Uncle said as he began to pull out supplies to clean Katsuki’s wounds. Katsuki held surprisingly still, scowling at nothing and yet still accepting his father’s assistance in bandaging him up. Izuku wasn’t sure he had seen Katsuki actually sit still enough for his parents to bandage him since they had been little kids.
“She needs to fucking tell him.” Katsuki added.
“I know .”
“She ain’t got a choice now.” Auntie said with a grim air of satisfaction around her. “Izuku’s finally been exposed to everything. Can’t play it off as trauma this time.”
Izuku only stared at the three of them, glancing back and forth between three people he thought he knew but was quickly coming to learn that maybe he didn’t. Katsuki’s parents didn’t even look too surprised to see his son injured by...what? What did Katsuki even say to them? And when had he contacted them? What did his mother have to do with any of this? Izuku was too tired to really comprehend it. A nap and some food and something to drink was what he wanted most of all. But he also just wanted his head to stop spinning like it was.
“What are you guys talking about?” He asked, a little desperately. He just wanted some kind of answers.
Auntie gave Izuku almost a pitying look, but she didn’t tell him. Uncle looked concentrated, but there was a twisted frown on his face almost like he was in pain. Katsuki just continued to glare at the wall and only occasionally winced or hissed from what his father was doing. None of them seemed to have any plans to speak up.
Finally, uncle seemed to grant Izuku actual pity as he passed Katsuki the bandages to wrap himself up in. He stood up as Katsuki began to patch himself up and sighed as he looked at Izuku. “I’m sorry, Izuku-kun. I know this is...a lot. And I know you have a lot of questions. But...out of respect for your mother, we can’t tell you anything. Not yet. So please wait a little bit longer. We’ll take you back to our house. Inko will be meeting us there.”
“What have you told my mom?” Izuku looked between his auntie and uncle again. He trusted them, but there was fear in his heart. It was a deep-seated kind of fear that made Izuku feel like his world was going to be up-ended soon. That kind of pain he had experienced in the past where everyone but him had been in on a joke. And Izuku had been the butt of that joke. He was very scared of whatever was going to be told to him when his mother joined them.
“She...She knows you were attacked.” Uncle said.
“So that’s why we need to wait for her to join us before we start talking.”
“He needs food. Chocolate or something.” Katsuki added, distracted by his bandaging. He used his teeth to rip the wrap and then tied it off. His mother smacked him over the head for that when he could’ve used scissors. He snarled at her.
“That too.” Uncle agreed with a nod. “We have plenty at home. And water in the car for you. Juice would be better, though.”
“Because I passed out?” Izuku asked as the four of them began to move back towards the car. Katsuki put his jacket back on but didn’t bother buttoning it back up. It hid most of the damage to his clothes anyway and they were going into the car.
“That’s part of the reason, yes. But you’re probably starving, right? Thirsty?” Izuku nodded. His uncle gave him a sympathetic smile. “I thought as much. Usually you would feel that way after everything you had gone through.”
“I want food too, old man.” Katsuki demanded.
“I know you do.”
“Guess I should start making dinner or something when we get back.” Auntie sighed as she took her seat in the passenger side of the car. Katsuki threw open the door and tossed himself into the back, dropping his bag between him and Izuku. Izuku climbed into the back and held his backpack instead after he had buckled up. Uncle climbed into the front seat and started the car up. “I don’t think Inko will be taking Izuku home right away.”
“Probably not. Besides, it’ll be easier if one of us is there.”
“You mean you . The only shit I know about this is through you, after all.”
“You know plenty at this point, dear.”
“So fucking stupid.” Katsuki grumbled to himself. Izuku glanced at him, but Katsuki was glaring out of the window and ignoring everyone and everything as his father drove off. “Should’a fucking told him years ago. Stupid parents.”
Told me what ?! Izuku wanted to just scream out, but he knew he wouldn’t get any answers. He just wanted to know. It was something that Katsuki knew and his parents knew and, apparently Izuku’s mother knew. And it was related to...whatever Izuku had seen before he had passed out. Something All Might had seen as well. And Katsuki had been there. Izuku had a sinking feeling he knew what it might be but...it was impossible. It was all impossible.
But then again, Izuku had seen impossible things that day. Maybe the impossible wasn’t so unlikely after all.
Izuku desperately wished that it was in this case, though.
Izuku usually felt sick whenever he looked out of the window of a moving vehicle. It was an experience that was difficult to explain to anybody, and so he had stopped trying even as his vocabulary had increased as he got older. Looking out of the window was an almost normal experience. He would see the figures of people passing by. Strangers whose faces and clothing meant nothing to him. Blips on the radar of his life. And those were fine to see.
It was the stuff that was mixed in with the people that disturbed him and made him sick. The oozing skin and hair and liquid of the monsters. The way they would sit next to unsuspecting people in their cars and whisper horrid little things. The fights that would break out right in front of the bus with monsters that towered over some of the houses and buildings as they cannibalized each other. The whimpers of tiny creatures as they crawled over the legs of people. It all made Izuku’s stomach churn both with fear and revulsion. He wanted to stare at them but knew better than to do so.
The trains were worse. The monsters liked to share the vehicles with people who were stuck in the cars. They would walk amongst the passengers reading or staring out of the windows. They would lean into faces and touch and climb on top of school bags and baby carriages. Unfortunate people had the monsters riding on their heads or shoulders. Izuku tried to move train cars if he was in the same one as one of the monsters. He didn’t know what it was about the trains that the creatures liked.
He could recall one instance when he had stared for too long and an almost-humanoid monster had caught his eye. It had transformed immediately, its appendages extending while it let out a shriek that had seemed to echo through the air. It had charged at him on legs that had jerked and had moved in a way that should not have been possible. And Izuku, only eight years old at the time, had screamed and cried. He had cowered in the seat as his mother had been calling his name before the car had started to move. It had driven and driven with Izuku begging his mom not to stop. He had still been able to hear the monster screaming as it had gotten closer every time his mother had slowed down. And then the noise had faded away. And Izuku hadn’t stopped crying and shaking until he had been home. His mother had carried him inside and had held him through his terror. The monster never found him.
Izuku tried not to look out of windows after that. It made for boring trips, but at least they were safer. He kept his gaze in his lap or on his phone. Sometimes he brought a book to read. If he couldn’t leave a train car when a monster was in it, he would keep his head down and try his best to ignore them. He would put headphones in so that he couldn’t hear them. He was too scared to close his eyes with them around, unfortunately, but he could at least keep himself distracted. Sometimes counting train stops and hoping that the monster would get off at the next one was all he could do.
In a way, riding with the Bakugous followed similar procedures. Izuku kept his head down and only glanced up on occasion to look at his Auntie and Uncle, as if they were monsters themselves. He kept his eyes on his phone. He was hyper aware of every shift Katsuki made next to him. The scent of blood was still lingering in the small quarters. Katsuki didn’t have any problem with staring out of the window. None of them talked with each other. It was eerily silent, and Izuku felt like he would explode from his own anxiety.
His mother was already at the Bakugou house when they arrived. She took one look at Izuku, pale with his own confusion, and Katsuki, whose shirt was still covered with blood, and rushed over to Izuku. “Izuku! A-Are you alright?!”
“I’m fine, mom.” He said, his eyes sliding to Katsuki. Katsuki didn’t pay Inko any mind and just walked past them with a grumble of, “I’m gonna change.”
“Inko-” Uncle Masaru began, but Izuku’s mom shook her head.
“I know. I know, Masaru-kun, but-”
“What is going on?!” Izuku cut both of them off, unable to wait any longer. He pushed away from his mother as the front door closed. A familiar, comforting warmth gently brushed over Izuku’s skin then. It always did in the Bakugou house. It came with the understanding that there wouldn’t be any monsters in there. His mind never hallucinated monsters in the Bakugou house or his own house. It was a small blessing.
“Go to the living room first.” Auntie Mitsuki suggested, her voice brokering no argument even as her gaze was gentler than usual. “I’ll get started on dinner.”
“It’s really not necessary!” Inko tried to protest nonetheless.
“This is going to take a while, Inko.” Auntie said, her voice still stern. “There’s a lot that needs to be explained to Izuku-kun. You’ve put it off long enough.”
Izuku looked towards his mother and saw her face twist with both distraught and guilt. She met her son’s eyes and then looked towards Masaru as if he would help. But he only looked grimly determined as well.
“...Okay.” Inko finally said with a soft, defeated voice. “Let’s move to the living room, then.”
“I’ll get some drinks.” Masaru suggested, following his wife to the kitchen. The Midoriyas were left alone to travel into the living room to sit down. Izuku rested his school bag on the floor and didn’t stop staring at his mother. He didn’t like this atmosphere. He could feel himself teetering on the edge of something dangerous.
“Mom, what’s going on?” He tried again, softer this time. A little more pleading and less frantic.
His mother met his eyes and her lip trembled a little. Izuku fretted as he waited for the tears, but they never came. She took a deep breath and then said, “Izuku...I’m so...I’m so sorry. I’ve been... We’ve been...You’ve been lied to. And I’m so sorry for hiding this from you.”
“What are you talking about?” He asked, feeling his stomach drop to his feet.
“Please just...Let me explain. I’ll try my best, but please ...I’ve only done this because I was scared for you.” Inko took her son’s hands and held them. They squeezed a little, although if it was to reassure him or herself, Izuku didn’t know. His mother soldiered on after a moment when Izuku let her talk, “The...monsters you’ve seen your entire life? They’re not...They’re not hallucinations.”
“What?” Izuku breathed as his heart dipped with his stomach. Even as she said it, a part of him had expected it. Had known ever since he had seen Katsuki’s wound. Ever since Katsuki had told him he wasn’t crazy. That didn’t make it any easier to hear.
“They’re real.” She said, squeezing his hands again. “They’ve always been real.”
“Th-Those monsters ?!” He cried.
“Spirits.” She said. “They’re called spirits. Although...we’re not completely sure what kind of spirits. They’re more like the spirits from folklores. Human spirits are...less common.” She paused and let Izuku take it in before saying, “I didn’t want to tell you the truth. The spirits...they’re dangerous , Izuku. You’ve seen it. You know what I mean, right?”
“Of course I do!” Izuku said, somewhat hysterically. Suddenly nothing made as much sense as he had thought. All those horrible things were real? It wasn’t just in his mind? He wasn’t sick? Or masochistic? They were real ?! “They…” His voice was a little thin as his worldview began to slowly slide into place, “They attack if they notice me watching. And they...it...They attacked me today. And Kacchan-” He looked back towards the stairs where Katsuki had gone upstairs to change, “one hurt Kacchan!”
“Yes.” Inko nodded and pulled her son’s arms to coax him back to looking at her. She looked like she was in pain. “I know.”
“How?” He asked. “How are those...things real?! How do you know?! Why-”
“I’ll explain.” Masaru said as he re-entered the room while carrying a tray of drinks and some snacks. They looked to be just some chips he had poured into a bowl as well as some grapes. He placed the food in front of Izuku on the tea table as well as a cup of juice. “Eat and drink something first, Izuku-kun. I don’t want you to pass out.”
“KATSUKI!” Mitsuki called loudly from the kitchen, making Inko and Izuku flinch from the sudden loud noise when they were both already on edge, “COME DOWN AND EAT SOMETHING!”
“SHUT UP, OLD HAG, I’M COMING!!” Katsuki shouted back. His stomping footsteps could already be heard echoing from the hallway upstairs. It actually helped to release a little bit of Izuku’s tension. He reached forward and began to drink his juice hoping it would calm the swirling in his stomach. To his shock, he found that the moment the liquid touched his stomach, he was ravenous. The first swallow was godly, but the moment he began to eat Izuku already felt a little better. He had become used to his exhaustion during the car ride. Its presence became forefront in his mind once more, but the sustenance helped to fight off the bitter edge of it. The fruit was even better than the chips. He gave it a curious look, confused as to what was so good about the food and drink. Were they special in some way?
“Katsuki was right, then.” Masaru said, catching Izuku’s attention once more. “You really did lose a lot of energy. Eat up. This should hold you over until a proper meal at least.”
“What exactly happened?” Inko asked worriedly.
“Move over, shit-ku.” Katsuki grumbled as he came into the living room. He was dressed in clean clothes now. There was still a pale tone to his skin though that wasn’t normally there. A waneness to his body like he was tired as well. Izuku scooted over and Katsuki took the seat next to him, reaching over to begin eating as well. He ate with the same urgency as Izuku did.
“Katsuki will tell us what happened, but I think Izuku-kun still needs to understand.” Masaru’s eyes met Inko’s. Inko gave a small nod, shrinking under some thought. Izuku swallowed his next gulp of juice with more difficulty. Masaru turned back to Izuku and said, “The monsters you see are called spirits. At least, that’s what we refer to them as. And unfortunately for us they are as real as you or I are. They just...live differently.”
“If you can even freaking call that living.” Katsuki muttered while crunching on some chips.
“You guys can see them too?” Izuku asked, looking between the two. There was a sting of betrayal. “But...But I thought that I was...You guys never saw them!”
“Like hell!” Katsuki said back. “I’ve always been able to see them. How the fuck do you think I knew what they looked like when we were kids, Deku?” He glared at Inko. “What kind of lies were made up to convince you of that?”
“ Your lies!” Izuku cried. He pointed at Katsuki, “You always pretended that you didn’t see them! You made fun of me!”
“That’s our fault, Izuku!” Inko interrupted. “Don’t blame Katsuki-kun!”
“Why not?!” Izuku demanded. He suddenly felt very alone in the room. His mother’s words were finally sinking in: he had been lied to his entire life. The things he’s seen...they were real. Somehow they were real and everyone had pretended that they weren’t. His mother had convinced him he had been hallucinating. He could feel himself shrink away a little from everyone else.
“Because we asked him to lie to you. To protect you.” Inko said, her voice apologetic as she clearly saw her son’s hurt. “We...No, I asked all of the Bakugous to lie to you. If you should be mad at anyone, it’s me.”
“What? Why?” He asked, his voice strained with disbelief.
“I told you it was to protect you. I didn’t...Izuku, I can’t see them. I can’t see the spirits like you can.” She said. “Your father was the one who could see them. I can only sense them a little bit. And only when they’re nearby. I wasn’t...I’ve never been the one who could explain this to you. And your father died because of the spirits. I didn’t want you to suffer the same fate. Especially because you were so young and seeing all of these horrible things…”
“My dad?” Izuku was so confused. He had too many questions.
“Let’s start from the beginning.” Masaru suggested, placing a hand on Inko’s arm. “I think we’re only making things worse.”
“You’re right.” Inko said. “Can you-?”
Masaru nodded and turned back to Izuku. “In this world the spirits live alongside us humans. They’re from...well, we’re not sure. There’s a lot of theory, but we can’t exactly do experiments to find out. We just know the spirits seem to live in some kind of parallel world to ours. They might or might not see the world differently from ours. All we really know is that they’re extremely dangerous to humans. But most of the time they can’t touch us and we can’t touch them. A majority of people in the world don’t even know they exist, which is for the best because you’ve seen that they attack if they realize we can see them.”
He motioned with his hand before he ran it over his neck. “There are different levels of being able to see these creatures. A lot of people refer to us as psychics and whatnot. You’ve seen those types of stores too - the psychic shops. It’s easier to use terms that have kind of already developed. Basically, some of us can see spirits like you or Katsuki can. You see them in their entirety, hear them, sense them. And, if you wanted to, you can touch them. You have the energy and the ability to do so.”
“Who would want to touch them?” Izuku asked, horrified at the thought. He was reeling with the understanding that Katsuki could see everything just like he could. “They...they try to touch me and-”
“Because you were never freaking taught how to keep them off of you.” Katsuki said.
“Katsuki, please.” Masaru begged his son, half-reprimanding him. “We’ll get there.”
Katsuki gnashed his teeth and crossed his arms before sitting back on the couch. He continued to glare at the parents. Something about this Katsuki clearly didn’t like. Judging by his mother’s guilty face, Izuku had a feeling they were on opposing sides of whatever this argument was.
“There are others, though,” Masaru continued, “whose energy is not strong enough for any of that. And who cannot sense as well as you do. For example, I cannot see the spirits well, but I can sense them and sometimes see vague shadows of them. Inko can only sense them when they’re nearby. And Mitsuki is completely blind to them like most of the population is. Those who actually know of the spirits are very, very small in number. And we keep it like that on purpose.”
“Why?” Izuku asked.
“Because it’s dangerous. If people knew about their existence, the spirits would start attacking. At least, that’s the theory.” Masaru’s gaze turned a little dark. “This secret is...somewhat like an underground system. It’s passed by word of mouth. There are probably those who have tried in the past to tell others and have seen people attacked because of it. Then there are those who had been attacked at random and had to live with the encounter and such.” He shook his head. “Wait, I’m going off track.”
“The spirits attack anyone who knows of their existence if they become aware that you know.” Katsuki summarized instead of waiting for his father, “That’s why if they catch you looking at them or realize you can tell they’re there, you get attacked. Like today.”
“Or when you were children.” Inko added quietly.
Izuku froze as understanding bloomed on him. “The park.” He whispered. “You mean that-”
Inko nodded solemnly, “That was real.”
Izuku’s head whipped to Katsuki, “Then we really did...we went…”
“We went hunting for the spirit,” Katsuki said, his voice less angry as he looked to Izuku, “and we got whipped to one of their liminal spaces. We were damn lucky it was weak and I could fight it off.”
“Liminal space? Like...that creepy world we were at today?”
“Katsuki?” Masaru asked.
Katsuki sighed and sat forward, grabbing his own juice and drinking some more of it, “Deku got attacked by a possessed person. Some villain with a slime quirk. Probably just hunting for another body to possess and came across jackpot dipshit here.” He pointed his thumb at Izuku.
“What?!” Izuku and Inko both squeaked.
“Language, please!” Masaru sighed.
Katsuki ignored all of them, “The spirits take victims to ‘their world’ or whatever the fuc- heck you wanna call it. We call them liminal spaces because they look like they change the world but it’s only a bubble of it. Maybe it’s what those things live in and maybe it’s not. They don’t all look alike so who freaking knows. Either way, the spirits basically become real and tangible there. They can hurt any human that enters it. Even if we can’t hurt them back.”
“But you did.” Izuku said.
“Because if you’re strong enough, then you can use your own energy to hurt them. That’s the only thing that hurts them - energy. Or aura. Or psychic power. Whatever you want to fucking call it.”
“The orange glowing.” Izuku whispered, awed. He finally understood. “A-And the lightning from me?”
“Lightning?” Inko asked.
“Yeah, that’s your energy.” Katsuki said. “You can hurt them just like me. Most people who can see as well as we do are strong enough to hurt them.”
“But not everyone!” Masaru hurried to say. “Izuku-kun, you were able to hurt a spirit?”
Izuku nodded hesitantly. “Y-Yeah. It was attacking Kacchan and I just...I just charged in. And there was...green lightning coming off of me. It was nothing like Kacchan’s energy.”
“It was probably a self-preservation activation. Like desperation.” Masaru said. “You couldn’t do it now, right?”
Izuku shook his head. “I don’t know how I did it…”
“That’s why you’re so tired, then. You must have given one large burst.”
“He got drained by the fucking thing too.” Katsuki added. “Got some energy taken at school as well.”
“What?!” Izuku cried.
“Wait, stop.” Inko held up her hands. She looked exhausted and terrified at the same time. “There’s...There’s a lot happening here. Katsuki, what happened today?”
Katsuki tilted his head back and closed his eyes, gritting his teeth in frustration. He looked tired. Izuku felt like he could use a nap too. A proper one. Food had helped, but he was still tired. “I want to nap!” Katsuki said instead. There was a petulance to his tone that said he wasn’t going to continue yet. There was some spite too. He looked to Izuku, his eyes speaking something that Izuku couldn’t quite read. “You are too, right?”
“Yeah.” Izuku said quietly.
“A nap would help you two…” Masaru murmured.
“But-!” Inko tried, but Katsuki was already standing and grabbing Izuku’s arm.
“Good. Wake us up when dinner is done then.”
“Katsuki-kun!” She tried again, but Katsuki was already pulling Izuku along behind him. Izuku followed after him feeling overwhelmed and also very lost as to why Katsuki was even touching him. This change in behavior was...startling. He wasn’t going to argue against it, but it did unnerve him. However, Katsuki seemed to be on his side and wanting to help him. At least, Izuku thought he did. So he let him lead the way. He was led to Katsuki’s bedroom where there was already a futon laid down. Katsuki’s bloodied uniform was tossed over the chair by his desk. Izuku took in how different his childhood friend’s room was from when they were little.
Katsuki pointed at the futon. “Lay down, idiot.”
“O-Okay.” Izuku agreed with some confusion. He crawled onto the futon and laid down and felt the rough day dragging down on his limbs. The evening sun trickled in through Katsuki’s blinds. The room was comfortably cool as Izuku laid the blanket over himself and stared at the ceiling. Katsuki crawled onto the bed and let out a huff of air as he settled. Silence overtook them.
Izuku’s head was filled with his thoughts, but one came to the forefront for him: Katsuki was giving him time to process. Somehow he had known that this was overwhelming in general, but he had managed to get them away from the parents. Izuku glanced at his friend curiously, “Kacchan?”
He hesitated, then said, “Thank you.”
“Don’t fucking thank me.” Katsuki said, rolling over so Izuku could only see his back. “Be pissed off. It was a shitty thing that was done to you.”
“You didn’t want to lie to me?” He asked, honestly surprised.
Katsuki didn’t respond.
“Fucking nap already. Tired of this twenty questions shit. You’ve got a lot to catch up on. Sleep while you can because it will only get worse from here.”
Izuku didn’t respond to that. His body agreed with Katsuki. His head hurt. The room spun a little where he was laying down. Izuku closed his eyes. He was asleep before he knew it.