Shouto felt the pain like a memory. Sometimes it’s in his wrists. Or maybe his ankles? No, it must be in his stomach. He really couldn't remember.
Well, he thought it was pain. He didn't know what it would be otherwise.
The pain was everywhere, sometimes, like someone was putting his body through a meat grinder. Other times it was in one spot below his ribs. The pain in his wrists and ankles were a constant, though. It's different from the rest, somehow, more like a throbbing ache than a sharp knife.
It’s weird, it’s all so weird.
He didn't know where he was, either, and it’s not as alarming as it should be. He thought it's because he did know where he was, but he just couldn't remember. It's an odd trend, the memory loss.
That thought was forgotten almost as soon as it came.
From what he saw around him, he might be on some sort of campus. Maybe a school. The lawn that he's standing in was neatly trimmed, and when he looked to his left he noticed silhouettes in the windows. Huh, he didn't remember when it started getting dark outside.
He walked to a window, and his breath caught. He saw children— no, teenagers— lounging around eating snacks and playing video games. His chest ached, and this time it wasn't the normal kind. He wondered why the sight of them made him feel this way, when most of what he felt was— well, he really couldn't remember.
He heard voices almost constantly. Sometimes it was murmurs, and other times it was shouting. Angry shouting, like something wasn't happening the way they wanted it to, whoever they are.
The pain was always at its worst when that happened.
Every now and then, he came across a great body of students going somewhere, talking and chatting amongst themselves. If he's feeling more together and less like a scrambled mess, then he’ll sometimes try to talk to them. They always ignored him, though, like he's invisible, and he looked down at himself to realize that he was invisible.
He knew that. He already knew he was invisible, so why did he forget?
He learned that certain people made him feel more together than others. Then he learned it's a certain class. He didn't know what was so special about this group of people, even the teacher, but he felt whole when he’s with them. Like he was a member of their ranks already.
He wanted to talk to them the more he sat in on their lectures, but he didn't feel like he was the kind of person who would talk to them, like when he knew them before he kept his distance.
Odd, he didn't know there was a before to even think about.
What was before this? Who was he before this? For once he’s frustrated that he didn't know, and this new emotion spurred him into something he wouldn't have ordinarily done. He talked to the teenagers.
“Hello.” His voice was scratchy and unused. He tried again, but the pink girl he was addressing never stopped from her excited babbling. “Hey, can you hear me?”
He tried once more, this time to a redhead arguing to a blond guy about who’s quirk was stronger, “Hi, I'm Shouto,” he said, and that attempt failed too.
They're all ignoring him. He’s bothered by it, for some reason. He felt like they should know him, they should remember that he existed. Or did exist? Shouto didn't know if he was even alive right now.
He gave up and walked around the room, just observing the kids and their varying appearances. He saw a giant man with multiple arms, the pink girl from earlier that looked more alien than human, a boy that was made of rock, another kid that looked like a grape, and a boy with the head of a bird. The rest looked normal enough, and with closer inspection he saw a frog-like girl and a boy with a tail talking to each other.
They're all so familiar.
So, so familiar.
Shouto must be some sort of masochist, but he couldn't help following around the students of 1-A. They sparked something within himself that he couldn't help but chase after. It’s confusing, because he didn't actually know what their significance was to him, but he figured if he’s around them enough then it’ll do something. Do what, he didn't know. Hopefully it's good.
There’s a group of them eating lunch together, and by listening in on their conversations he found out their names. Asui, Sero, Mina, Kaminari, and Kirishima. It felt like a missing piece of a puzzle he didn't know he was solving.
He tried to get them to look at him by waving his hand in their face, yelling at them, and then finally picking up one of their lunch trays. The first time he tried his hand passed right through, but he focused on the feeling of being near them and picked it up again. This time it worked, and Kaminari jumped up out of his seat and looked around in alarm. “This isn't funny, Hagakure!”
Said girl turned her head (or he thought she did) at hearing her name from across the cafeteria, and noticed the floating tray. “That’s not me, Kami.”
He should have known it wouldn't work. Shouto drops the tray back on the table. He's mad at himself for thinking that it would. They couldn't see him, they don't know he’s there trying to communicate to them, to get them to notice him.
He just wanted them to notice him.
The class was gathered in the common room of the dorms, laughing at a story Kirishima was reenacting. Shouto sat there between Yaoyorozu and Shouji, pretending he’s another student like them. Every now and then Shouji would shiver violently, and Shouto thought that might be his doing.
Yaoyorozu noticed his discomfort. “Are you alright, Shouji?” she asked.
“I don't know, I'm getting cold flashes.”
“You might be getting sick, maybe you should visit Recovery Girl.” This was said by a green haired boy Shouto hadn't learned the name of yet. He looked awfully familiar, more so than the others, and Shouto got up to look more closely at him.
He was very plain in comparison to everyone else, except for his green eyes that were so piercing and so gentle. The boy shivered too, and narrowed his eyes at the area around him.
“Thanks, Midoriya, I’ll do that.” Shouji replied, and got up to leave the room.
Everybody told him to get better soon, and then turned their attention back to Kirishima who resumed his story. The boy— Midoriya —was still uneasy, and had this calculating look on his face that gave stupid hope to Shouto. Maybe he could see what’s going on that the others couldn’t, maybe he could help Shouto. He could help him... help him…. it’s lost again, it was on the tip of his tongue, and it fell through his grasp like sand. He couldn't remember what the boy could help him with, but it was important.
Why couldn't he just remember?
He tried over and over to get their attention. Some noticed, others didn't. They chalked it up to a ghost when all other options failed them.
A ghost. He's dead, isn't he? There's a weight on his wrists, crushing his chest, and no amount of searching will help him remember who he was, what he's doing here, how he died, who killed him--
The voice is back. Indistinct. Murmuring, yelling, throwing things around, saying it's not working it's not working make it WORK--
Shouto is in an empty training ground, class 1-A gone. He's out of breath like he just ran a marathon, but he doesn't remember anything between morning and now. The school day is over.
Shouto’s sitting in an empty desk near the back of the classroom, next to Tokoyami, Sato, and Yaoyorozu. He found these three the most pleasant to be around, Tokoyami and Yaoyorozu specifically.
Right now, though, Tokoyami was conversing with dark shadow, and Yaoyorozu was doing homework, so in boredom he walked around the room to see what everyone else was talking about.
He passed by Bakugou and Midoriya arguing— more like Bakugou yelling and Midoriya staring off into space— and noticed Midoriya’s right hand. It caught Shouto’s eye, and when he looked at it more he saw deep scarring running along the back of his hand and fingers.
It looked painful, and that thought brought to mind images of ice and fire and a determined gaze. The sting millions of concrete flying in all directions. The weight of second place. They flashed before his eyes in a second, and the unexpectedness of them made him gasp and take a step back. He knocked into the desk and topled a pile of books over, sending the entire room into silence as they looked to see what the commotion was about.
“Did that desk fall over by itself?” Midoriya asked, and Bakugou scoffed.
“Of course not, Deku. Desks don't just do that.”
“He has a point, Bakugou. No one was around to push it over,” Asui said.
“Ooh, maybe it was the ghost!” proclaimed Mina, and that made everyone start up new conversations talking about all the ghost’s latest deeds, which range from floating soda cans to flying papers. All the things Shouto had done to get people’s attention.
A ghost. That’s an interesting theory. Was he dead? He took inventory of his body and found that he was indeed breathing, and he had a heartbeat, too. Maybe he was alive, but how else would he describe his state of being, if not a ghost?
If he was dead, then he didn't belong with these people, depressing as that thought was. Maybe that’s why they couldn't see him, because he's dead and they’re alive, living, laughing. All the things he’s not.
He started to leave the classroom, but not before looking back at Midoriya, who evoked such strange images from Shouto, only to find that he was staring at the toppled desk and strewn books with a strange look on his face.
It didn't matter, Shouto was dead and living people shouldn’t matter to him. It didn't matter.
It didn't matter.