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Gently at Twilight

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The thing about being an intangible ghost is that you can’t actually touch anything or move anything without channeling your actual energy into it. And even then, if you do that the thing just goes flying across the room and really, Izuku doesn't need to do that. He’s broken a few too many nice vases that he actually really liked to even want to attempt to try to move things anymore.

Luckily, though, he has a vampire boyfriend who can actually touch things.

Shouto, the aforementioned vampire boyfriend, wrinkles his nose in that barely there way that he does when his boot makes a particularly loud squelch in the mud and promptly sinks down three more inches than normal. From passive observation, one could instantly recognize that he’d hit a particularly wet patch and was now stuck, the poor thing. Izuku glides over to him and hovers in front of him, smiling faintly in a way that says he would help but he won’t because this is far too entertaining, and he only gets a wrinkled nose in return as Shouto gives him about as much of a Look as he can muster before he starts pulling his boot out of the mud. After a few moments and a whispered string of curses that Shouto spits under his breath, his boot comes free of the mud with an equally loud squelch.

Then they resume their search, the abandoned pumpkin patch spreading out around them. It’s all shrouded in darkness, the two there only under the cover of nightfall, and the moonlight makes Shouto’s ivory skin glisten faintly. He’s pale, pale as a bloodless corpse. Partly because that is what he is, a bloodless corpse with an infected soul placed inside of it. But he’s beautiful all the same, ethereal in the moonlight, and Izuku can’t help but stop and admire him for a moment. His eyes roam the various pumpkins and Izuku watches the way the moonlight catches on them like they’re crystals set in pearls. Momentarily, silently, Izuku wonders how in the name of the heavens he got so very lucky. Not just anyone would fall in love with someone that lacks any sort of physical form.

Shouto catches him staring, must have felt eyes on his back, and he turns to face Izuku fully, long cloak ruffling in the cool night air. After a moment, he looks down and off to the side before softly muttering, “You could have offered to help me.”

The smile on Izuku’s face shifts to something more playful. “I wouldn’t have been able to help even if I wanted to.”

“So you admit that you did not want to help me in my peril?” Shouto fixes his gaze back on Izuku and raises an eyebrow at him, as if in challenge.

“Getting your boot stuck in mud isn’t ‘peril,’ Shouto.” Izuku smiles wider.

Shouto gives him a look and gestures down to his now very muddy boot. “I beg to differ.”

Izuku just laughs and sticks his tongue out at the vampire before he hovers off to find the perfect pumpkin. He senses more than hears Shouto’s slight huff of what could only be counted as laughter and it makes something warm curl in his chest. Well, it would be there if he had a chest, but the sense that it would happen is more than enough to convince him.

After a few moments, the two decided that it would be far more efficient if they split up to cover more ground. So Izuku floats left while Shouto walks right, all the while grumbling about the mud and the disgusting squelch sounds every step of his makes.

And so Izuku goes in search of the perfect pumpkin. He’s got an idea in mind, something round and cute and perfectly orange but, as he keeps floating along to look, he’s beginning to realize that this patch has been relatively picked clean by other pumpkin hunters and eager families. Of course, he isn’t mad that some kids left this pumpkin patch with mad all over them, a big round pumpkin in their arms, and a huge smile on their faces, but he had hoped to find a good pumpkin.

After all, he’d wanted to Shouto how to carve one! Despite being a vampire that is literally hundreds of years old and has no concept of time anymore, Shouto has never carved a pumpkin. When he was human, it had been before the time of jack o’ lanterns and, of course, being locked up in a castle for the past several centuries hadn’t exactly let his eyes be opened to the world outside. It had only been when Izuku stumbled upon him that he’d expressed a wish to explore and learn and all that stuff.

Izuku has a feeling that it’s only so Shouto has an excuse to spend more time with him outside of ‘you are my boyfriend and I love you’ because Hades knows that Shouto is just a little bit too proud to ever say that outright. Izuku doesn’t mind though.

He can babble enough for the both of them.

And, of course, it isn’t like he hasn’t babbled about his affections for Shouto before, making the vampire curl into himself and hide his face in his hands as he desperately tried to maintain some level of dignity. It had been most entertaining just after Shouto had fed, when there was ample blood flowing through his veins. Then, when Izuku had babbled, Shouto had actually blushed, heat flooding his cheeks in a way that couldn’t normally happen simply because of his nature. It had been purely adorable in a way that Shouto rarely could be because he’s a freaking vampire for Hades’ sake and Izuku definitely cherished the memory.

Had he been able to hold a camera and had Shouto been able to show up in photos, he would have taken as many photos as Shouto would have allowed him to take before realizing what he was doing and snatching the camera from his hands. He isn’t sure what he would have done with the photos afterward (perhaps turn them into wallpaper to plaster the castle walls with?) but no matter.

“Pumpkins.” Izuku whispers to himself, shaking himself back to reality, “I’m looking for pumpkins, not fantasizing about Shouto’s cheeks.”

And so, pumpkin hunting he goes.

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By the time the moon had sunk low in the sky and the sun paints the horizon in soft pinks and corals, neither Shouto nor Izuku have found a suitable pumpkin. Much to Izuku’s dismay (and Shouto’s confuddlement), there isn’t a single good pumpkin to be found. The patch is rather sizable, all things considered, and Izuku had been genuinely surprised to find it completely picked clean of any good pumpkins.

Shouto’s hand laced in his helped, in spite of the fact that they both have to concentrate rather hard to keep their hands at matching levels of solidity, but Izuku is still relatively unsuccessful in hiding all of his disappointment.

“It’s just a pumpkin, darling.” Shouto says for the thousandth time in the past ten minutes, “It’s alright. We can try again next year.”

“I know, I know.” Izuku squeezes his hand just a little tighter, the physical contact a tad odd, “But I wanted to show you how fun it can be.”

Shouto hums thoughtfully as Izuku stares wistfully at a pumpkin at his feet. This one had almost been perfect, had had so very much potential, but then he’d gotten Shouto to turn it over and found a massive rotting hole in the back. It was the perfect size and shape and would have been the perfect one to turn into a jack o’ lantern, had it not been for that hole.

“Izuku,” Shouto drags him out of his sulking, “The stores are still open on halloween, correct?”

“Well… yes.” Izuku nods, “For the most part.”

“Big businesses with, say, halloween decorations would definitely still be open?” Shouto asks.

Izuku nods slowly. “Yes?”

“And carved pumpkins are considered halloween decorations?” Shouto asks.

“Shouto, what are you getting at h- oh.” Izuku looks up at him and smiles, “We can get a fake one! Good idea!”

“I hadn’t known fake ones would truly be a ‘thing,’ but yes.” Shouto nods a little, shoulders relaxing a tad, “We can get a fake one.”

Izuku wishes he could hug Shouto without going right through him because he absolutely would have in that moment. But he satiates that craving by squeezing Shouto’s hand before floating off, running in the direction of the village. He senses more than sees Shotuo’s miniscule smile, the kind that curls his lips into the tiniest smile known to man (and, simultaneously, the sweetest), as he drags Shouto toward the village.

They’ll get their pumpkin yet.

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They end up having to wait several hours because, like they should have realized, Spirit of Halloween doesn’t open at the crack of dawn. It’s a normal store with normal hours in a normal mall with normal hours.

So, they go to a breakfast place and get a few side dishes to split between the two of them. Two breakfast sausages, some scrambled eggs, a few pieces of toast and jam, the works. Izuku manages to gather enough energy to become at least seventy five percent solid and manages to eat some of the food. Shouto eats as well, though he doesn’t eat much. For vampires, food is less of a necessity and more of an occasional thing to spice up their lives. Literally.

“One gets tired of tasting nothing but blood after a few centuries,” Shouto tells him as the waitress places down their order, “Occasionally, we need something different to cleanse our palette.”

“Like white sourdough with strawberry jam?” Izuku asks, fighting a smile unsuccessfully.

“Like white sourdough with strawberry jam.” Shouto nods sagely before licking at the jam on his fingers as Izuku giggles to himself.

It’s only by years of practice that Shouto doesn’t cut his fingers on his fangs (centuries’ worth of experience) and, once they’ve paid for their meal and their waitress has taken away their dishes, Izuku’s form ripples back to being completely intangible once more and he stands up. Shouto does the same, wiping his mouth and adjusting his collar as he does. Izuku doesn’t know why he insists upon popping the collar of his button down shirt but he doesn’t ask. He’d always assumed it was because of the strange collars that vampires used to wear back in the day.

Shouto had never confirmed nor denied this.

Speaking of what vampires wore back in the day, Shouto couldn’t look more modern right now. He’s wearing a collared shirt with a crewneck sweater over top with a pair of jeans and boots. He looked like an average college student (which isn’t uncommon because this village is essentially a college town) and, unless you looked at his mouth in depth, you wouldn’t know he was anything but. Izuku had always found this fascinating.

As the two of them walk/float down the street, the sky slowly begins to turn bluer and bluer. When Shouto checks his watch, it’s about 8:30am. The mall will be open soon but the two of them still have about half an hour to kill. Izuku has no idea what to do, now that they’ve already gotten breakfast. It isn’t quite enough time to go back to the castle and do nothing because as soona s they get there they’ll have to leave again. But it’s too much time to wait outside of the store.

So they end up deciding to wander the town for a little while because what else is there to do at this time of day? Neither of them drink coffee so Starbucks (or any other coffee shop) would be a pointless venture, so they end up just wandering aimlessly around the town, hand in hand.

After the food, Izuku’s got a little more energy and uses it to keep his hand solid enough for Shouto to hold. Shouto’s hand is cold, because of the lack of blood, but Izuku’s is frigid too for an entirely different reason. Neither of them mind much. It isn’t something that either of them are shocked by anymore.

What does shock Izuku, though, is how firmly Shouto is holding his hand. Usually the way their hands link is just a little, affectionate, gentle hold but now? Now, Shouto is holding Izuku’s hand securely in his, fingers pressed into the back of Izuku’s hand, and he even gives Izuku the occasional squeeze. He isn’t sure why Shouto is doing it but it isn’t like he’s about to complain about something so cute and sweet that makes his nonexistent heart flutter just a little.

It’s a nice distraction from everything, honestly, and wandering aimlessly becomes a whole lot more entertaining because of it.

It’s nice to know you’re comfortable with me, Izuku thinks to himself, looking at Shouto with a softness in his eyes only reserved for him.

When they’d met, Shouto had been closed off and silent and touch repulsed (all while being touch starved) and Izuku had been just a little afraid of him. But now, after a few months of getting to know each other and then a few more months of being just a little more than friends, Shouto was slowly beginning to relinquish his cold, hard exterior every once in a while, letting Izuku so the softness and warmth just beneath.

Finally, it’s ten and the mall opens. Izuku leads Shouto down the street and toward the building, slipping through the doors with Shouto in tow. After a grumble when the automatic doors don’t open for him and Izuku has to activate them through a momentary possession, they’re both safely inside the mall and Izuku can lead Shouto to where they’re going.

“You seem rather excited about a false pumpkin.” Shouto muses, entirely deadpan as Izuku tugs him along.

“You could say that.” Izuku shoots him a smile over his shoulder before turning to face forward again.

This wasn’t entirely correct nor was it entirely incorrect. Sure, Izuku’s excited about the pumpkin, but there’s something else entirely that he’s immensely more excited about. Something far too sappy to say aloud where other shoppers could potentially hear.

So he keeps his mouth shut and enters the halloween store with Shouto in tow.

The store has been almost entirely picked clean, like a corpse after a flock of vultures have gotten to it, and the employee looks a little groggy. She’d probably just woken up. But she gives Izuku and Shouto a smile and chimes a cheerful ‘hello!’ Izuku smiles back and returns the greeting before tugging Shouto along toward where the decorations are.

Izuku hunts around like a predator hunting for prey, searching every nook and cranny (with help from his ability to float) for the perfect fake pumpkin. It’s a decently difficult search simply because very few actual decorations remain in the store among the clearance signs and such. All things considered, they should have anticipated this judging by how picked clean the pumpkin patch was, but Izuku is still attempting to remain positive. He’s determined to find something that could act as a halloween decoration.

But as the search goes on and all he comes up with are a few strands of cheap pumpkin lights and about thirty different mugs that all say various things like ‘spooktacular’ and such, Izuku is beginning to wonder if this was not as good of an idea as he’d thought.

His disappointment must be clear in his features as Shouto takes one look at his face and says, “Izuku, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing!” Izuku blurts, “I just… I had hoped there’d be something here but there isn’t.”

“You know that a pumpkin won’t determine a good halloween or not, right?” Shouto raises an eyebrow just a titch.

Izuku sighs, “Yes, I know. But you’d never done this before and so I thought it would be fun if we decorated the castle.”

“Well.” Shouto says, “Hunting around in that pumpkin patch and then going to breakfast with you was fun.”

“Shouto, you hate mud and plants and bugs.” Izuku deadpans, “How was that fun?”

Shouto purses his lips and pauses for a moment, eyeing Izuku’s face.

Then, quietly, he murmurs, “I got to spend some time with you, didn’t I?”

Izuku chokes as heat rushes into his cheeks and he looks up at Shouto with wide eyes. Then he grins bashfully and looks down, avoiding Shouto’s intense gaze.

He feels a cold hand touch his cheek and he looks up just in time to see the tiniest of smiles flit across Shouto’s face. “There’s that smile.”

Izuku’s face burns and he so wishes that he could bury it in Shouto’s chest because goddamnit, whenever Shouto says something sweet it just sends his cheeks ablaze. He huffs and crosses his arms against his chest, form flickering violently between barely there and completely transparent in his flusterment. He bites his bottom lip for a moment before muttering, “You don’t have to worry about me, you know.”

“Yes I do.” Shouto says, “I’m your boyfriend, aren’t I?”

This just makes Izuku squeak in embarrassment and cover his face with his hands, much to Shouto’s delight.

“Izuku, I love you,” Izuku feels like he might just pass out as Shouto keeps talking, “Your happiness is my priority and, if all else fails, we could just steal a pumpkin from someone else.”

Izuku blinks. Then he looks up at Shouto, aghast. “Are you serious?”

“No, I’m kidding.” Shouto shakes his head, “But it is a possibility.”

“You, Todoroki Shouto, the vampire who abides by every law he’s ever encountered in his hundreds of years, wants to steal something.” Izuku stares at Shouto in utter disbelief.

“All things considered, a pumpkin is hardly anything coincidental or immensely important.” Shouto shrugs lightly, “Besides, I haven’t abided by every law I’ve encountered. There was one time where I went after a murderer with an old friend and we both nearly got arrested and sent to jail.”

Izuku balks, gaping at him.

“I’m not kidding, if that’s what you’re about to ask.” Shouto says simply, “Now, shall we?”

“You’re seriously serious about going to steal a pumpkin from someone?!” Izuku demands in a whisper.

“If you’re not opposed.” Shouto says, almost as if it’s a proposition.

“Well,” Izuku swallows hard, “Um… I don’t…”

“Izuku, you can’t be arrested.” Shouto sighs, “You’re dead.”

“I know, I know!” Izuku groans, “But you can be!”

“What are they going to do, give me a life sentence?” Shouto raises an eyebrow.

Izuku blinks. Then he says, “That would take a while.”

“It certainly would,” Shouto nods, “But I hardly think anyone would get a life sentence for stealing a pumpkin.”

Izuku hums in thought, brows furrowing together. On the one hand, they would get a pumpkin. On the other hand, they’d be stealing a pumpkin from someone that could potentially be a child and though taking candy from a baby may mean something is easy, Izuku doesn’t think that it would go over well no matter how easy it may be.

So he stutters, “Let’s look for a few more minutes and then we can- um, we can…”

“Alright.” Shouto nods.

And with that, they continue to scour the store for anything that could serve as a pumpkin.

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Luckily, for the sake of Izuku’s conscience, they find a false jack o’ lantern in just enough time. It smells of cheaply made plastic and potentially toxic paint and it’s the size of Shouto’s head, but it’s still a jack o’ lantern and it comes with a little switch on the bottom that changes the colour of the light from inside. Izuku isn’t sure why the light colour changes when the outside is orange, but he won’t question cheaply made cash-grab decorations that are designed to be thrown out within the month.

They pay for it and quickly leave the mall, Shouto being tasked the official Pumpkin Carrier as Izuku was having some trouble with it. It tended to slip right through his intangible hands so he pouted until Shouto rolled his eyes and promised he’d carry it safely back to the castle.

As they were leaving the store, Izuku realizes that they were still the only ones there.

Perhaps it’s too early for last minute halloween shopping?

Whatever the reason, Izuku doesn’t think about it too much and just follows Shouto back to the castle, unable to stop grinning like an absolute loon as they walk. It’s honestly really cute how Shouto is so determined to carry the pumpkin. Granted, he doesn’t have much experience with cheaply made, mass produced plastic, so Izuku can’t really blame him for thinking it might shatter upon first contact with the ground.

In spite of all the concerns Shouto may have, the castle entranceway does indeed look a little more colourful with the addition of the pumpkin. Of course, it looks positively miniscule beside the absolutely massive front doors and Izuku can’t help but stifle a giggle at just how ridiculous it looks.

But of course, it’s still a Halloween decoration and Izuku could hardly be happier with it.

“It isn’t about the pumpkin, Shouto,” He’d kept repeating, “It’s about the spirit of it all!”

And to Izuku’s immense delight (and to Shouto’s immense but pleased confusion), something wonderful happened later that evening.

 

A few little trick-or-treaters knocked on the doors of the castle.

Seems the false jack o’ lantern served its purpose well.