Izuku can't remember the first time he could see ghosts. The ghosts were always the first things that he saw in the morning, they always seem so real and then the sun rays peek through.
Izuku is four and he is touched aversed. He flinches every time his mom touches him and he always seems to sink into himself anytime the kids brush against him in the park. The doctors say it’s because Izuku is an empath and hasn't managed to separate his emotions from the people he touches.
Izuku knows better.
The howls of the ghosts are loudest at night, their screams make something in Izuku ache . He pretends to not hear the faint howling coming from next room and he whimpers into his bed and sometimes, if he feels brave enough, he lets himself cry.
Inko gets weaker by the day until she becomes a mess of skin and bones and she lies. She lies about her dwindling health, her doctor appointments, and her not being tired; she lies the most when she tucks him into bed and tells him how she’s always going to be there for him.
Izuku is okay with his mother’s lies because he lies to himself when he chooses to believe his mother’s words.
The howls get louder.
Izuku is five and his mother is dead. She is buried in the corner of the cemetery with a tiny tombstone and an empty funeral. Izuku is in an oversized tuxedo and he’s numb. He’s had a year to cope with his mother’s death and he still feels overwhelmed.
He sits at her grave and he tells her about his real quirk and how it hurts , Izuku mumbles everything he knows and can think about until his lips are chapped and his throat is raw.
He walks home and lays in his bed and he feels comforted by the screams that match the ones that echo in his head.
Izuku is always in the park, he stinks and looks like crap but he wants to feel something other than the crushing grief that’s mirrored by all the ghosts in his apartment. The ghosts gnaw at his worries and sometimes they try to touch him. Izuku is five and has a pain tolerance of a soldier; he is intimately familiar with death and all the ugly facets of human nature.
He meets a boy with two-toned hair who’s intense sad gaze makes Izuku flush in anger. Izuku sits next to him and draws heroes on the sand and asks him about his favorites; he softly whispers, Izuku smiles and draws a disfigured All Might flashing a brilliant smile.
His name is Shoto and his arms are always in splotches of purple and greens. Izuku doesn’t pry, he draws for Shoto and gives him lemon flavored lollipops and sings pop songs that make Shoto heart a bit less heavy.
Shoto holds his hand on days where he wears long sleeve shirts and if he’s a little bit more distant the days that follow, Izuku doesn’t comment. His hands are calloused and his fingers are scarred; Izuku feels everything from an abusive father to the oppressive, suffocating silence that lingers in his house.
Izuku stops drawing All Might and instead draws Shoto and him smiling in ridiculous hero outfits where they hold hands in green and red markers.
Shoto stops coming after that.
Izuku is not sure of anything anymore. He still shows up in the park with the drawing in hand, extra lemon popsicles and a pack of first aid. Izuku cries for his first friend, and he lets the ghosts give him his well-deserved punishment.
Izuku thinks of his mother, The ghosts drown his cries out.
Shoto is in the park a week later with a bag full of watermelon candy and Izuku is touched because he listens to his rambling and he doesn't care he’s intruding on Shoto’s personal space and his emotions when he hugs him. Shoto cries and whispers in his ear about his distant mother, cruel father and how scared he is that he'll end up just like him. Izuku hugs him until his whimpers subdue and when Shoto’s embarrassment flares and tries to yank his hand out of his grip, Izuku doesn't let go.
Izuku leads him to his empty house and gives his favorite pair of pajamas; he puts bandages on every glimpse of a bruise he sees on Shoto. After getting dressed, they watch pro heroes videos on the computer and suck on watermelon and lemon candies. They share a bed, Izuku dreams of a different world where boys with white and red hair can smile.