Katsuki’s mind is like a body of water.
It changes sometimes, from things like a swimming pool, to a pond, to a lake, and to an ocean.
It’s usually a pool. Katsuki dips his toes into it. The water is cold and it ripples, the reflection of the artificial lighting glaring at him. He shivers as the feeling of it sinks into his bones. It’s manageable, though, and when he jumps in, he keeps to the shallow end, allows himself to float on his back. It doesn’t take much effort to really control - it’s easy.
Sometimes he gets tired, though, and he can’t help but let the water carry him to the deeper end. When he realises, he jolts each time, sinks into the water, tries to swim back over to where he can sight the shallow end. The lights are dimmer here, going out at times, before stuttering back into life.
Sometimes he succeeds in fighting the tides that don’t even exist, other times he gets pulled down.
The body of water is no longer a pool.
It’s a pond.
There’s weeds sprouting from the bottom Katsuki can’t see to save his life, but he knows they’re rooted from somewhere deep down, because there’s been times where one or two of them have wound themselves around his ankles. Whenever he’s tried to pull himself free, it’s been futile; they’re anchored in the bed of the pond, too firm to be defeated by him.
When he gets dragged down, it’s colder below, and then it’s a lake.
There’s fish in the lake. Katsuki’s scared to touch them. Fish. Katsuki’s scared of fish. But they’re not really fish. They’re something worse. Spools of ink staining clear water, disguised as harmless, serene creatures, but are really something to colour his fingertips, infect him. Hurt him.
If he ever told anyone this is how his brain works, would they call him insane?
They’ve called him worse things before, he supposes.
The air gets thinner the deeper he gets tugged.
It’s not even so forceful at this point. Lazy movements the further he gets, but that’s also because Katsuki himself is weaker, frailer, in this state. It’s embarrassing, shameful, that the water doesn’t even care enough to use a proper fraction of its strength against him.
He remembers the documentaries he’d seen in class when he was younger, of the darkest pits of the ocean, the monstrous creatures it's filled with.
That’s exactly what the final level feels like.
It’s where he wanders as the door opens, the light from inside flooding the hallway. He feels lost in his own body.
He’s forgotten his hearing aids, he realises, when he watches Ears form his name with their lips. They realise the absence of them quickly, and open the door wider, inviting him in.
There’s a moment of hesitation, but then his feet move.
Kyouka’s listening to music.
He can tell without even being able to hear it because it’s two am (he thinks), and Kyouka has their hearing aids in, the Spotify app open on the laptop laid out on their bed.
Kyouka signs, “You okay?”
He closes his eyes. His head is throbbing a little faintly. He’s scared of the ocean’s pit.
He signs a response, and he opens his eyes again.
Katsuki is thankful beyond words at how Kyouka acts without asking a single question, kneeling at their bed and pulling a box out from beneath it. Katsuki can see a hair straightener there, and a hairdryer.
“Bathroom.” Kyouka signs.
Katsuki follows them out of their room, and the both of them head towards the guys’ bathroom. He feels the cold tiles under his feet, although he doesn’t remember being barefoot. The feeling grounds him a little, but it makes him shiver, too, reminds him of the cold water he’s drowning in.
Is it really drowning if he wasn’t breathing to begin with?
Kyouka instructs him to sit in the bathtub so that they can wash his hair for him. He strips to his boxers and sports bra. He trusts Kyouka enough. Hell, he trusts them with his life and perhaps even more, but he’d never tell them that. Maybe because he doesn’t even need to.
Katsuki and Kyouka are all unspoken words.
He’s obsessed with it, the feeling of it running so deeply along gratitude it almost feels selfish.
Maybe it is selfish for Katuski to have such a friend like Jirou Kyouka, and to hang onto them so tightly, but who fucking cares.
Katsuki’s always been fucking selfish and he sure as hell won’t fucking stop now.
He’s already feeling a little better with the feeling of the warm - warm, it’s warm - water. Kyouka uses the showerhead to drench his hair with it, but it’s not alarming, or panic inducing as a part of him feared. Doesn’t feel suffocating, drowning. It’s nice, and Kyouka’s gentle. Their fingers in his hair feel soothing as they rub into his skull, washing his hair.
He doesn’t recall closing his eyes, but apparently he has, because Kyouka has to tap his shoulder lightly for him to open them, look up at them.
“Hairdryer in my room. Okay to stay?”
They’re asking him if he trusts himself alone.
He tries to think of better things while he’s sat in the bathtub. Eijirou. Tanned skin, freckled skin, scarred skin, warm skin. Sharp smile, kind smile, pretty smile, loving smile. Big heart. Big eyes, deep.
It was a good choice to go to Kyouka and not Eijirou.
Not that he doesn’t trust Eijirou.
He loves him more than anything else in the world, to the point where it nearly fills him with terror.
Terror sucks ass.
Ears wouldn’t ask questions. Eijirou might have.
Eijirou has words, but Katsuki, tonight, needs action.
Although, some guilt settles into his gut. He knows it would be worse guilt if he actually burdened his boyfriend instead.
The air is suddenly hot - a little too hot - and he feels his throat make a noise of complaint, and the temperature gets turned down a notch. Then it’s fine.
Kyouka’s fingers thread through his hair, drying it.
When they’re done, they tap his shoulder again.
“Sign it out?”
When the clippers meet with his skull, he can feel the vibrations. His hands form signs, at first firm, sure, determined and driven through spite. The more hair that gets shaved, the more of it that he can feel falling into the tub, tickling his skin, the more aggravated he becomes, signs becoming more aggressive, angry, pain driven, instead.
His eyes begin to glass over, so he shuts them tightly, inhales sharply.
He’s signing anything that comes to mind; doubts, insecurities, fears, angers, dangers.
He has no idea if Kyouka is watching them, taking them in, but he doesn’t care.
It feels sort of freeing, like something is being lifted off his chest.
No, that’s not quite yet.
It’s more like he’s resurfacing from the deep waters. Salty ocean water burning his throat changes to fishy lake water. Lake water turns into pond water, and it smells murky. The chlorine from the pool makes him a little nauseous.
Kyouka takes his hand carefully, and his eyes open, still prickly from tears. They lift it to his head, run it along the scalp.
His hair is shaved, just little fuzz left in its wake.
It feels free.
He’s dripping a little from the shower still when he climbs out of the tub, and Kyouka follows him to the mirror.
He almost can’t recognise himself.
But it feels… good.
Kyouka smiles in the reflection beside him.
“Handsome.” they sign.
Katsuki begins to openly weep.
There’s air in his lungs again.
Kyouka lets him rest his forehead against their shoulder, rubbing soothing shapes into his back as he cries.