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i.

Shinsou does not like Shibuya.

 

It’s loud, first of all, and flashy. The advertisements are large and the buildings are even taller. The neon lights, ominous and domineering and bright, force your attention upon them and leave vengeful spots in your vision when you dare look away. People are always talking talking talking and walking walking walking and he’s stuck in the current- getting lost and swallowed whole.

 

So yes, Shinsou hates Shibuya. He squeezes himself out the crowd and slips into a small dingy alleyway. He wraps his blazer around his waist and pulls his sleeves up to his elbow. His skin is burning.

 

Shibuya is hot. Shibuya is loud. Shibuya makes him feel dirty.

 

Shinsou hates Shibuya. And it’s a shame, for Toga loves Shibuya.

 

It’s the epitome of natural pandemonium, so ingrained in the culture that no one pays heed blood curdling shrieks and cries from alleyways. Toga giggles, standing over the boy whose throat she just slit.

 

“You’re so cute.” She croons, watching him grab at the cut. Blood slips through his fingers. He sobs, gurgling, and looks up at her with such wide eyes she can’t help but wipe away a tear with stained hands, leaving behind a red streak. “Utterly adorable. I’m glad I was able to see this side of you.”

 

Toga hugs him, pulling him close. His blood seeps into her clothes.  He weakly bats at her. “Don’t give me that. I’m your senpai. It’s only natural for me to comfort my cute kouhai as he dies. After all, you’re such a good boy. Honor student and star of the kendo team.” She sighs. “It’s such a shame for things to end like this.”

 

There are footsteps approaching. Toga licks the blood, hot and sticky, off her hands.

 

“You don’t mind me borrowing your skin for a bit, do you?” She asks as she pulls away. The metamorphosis is instant. To her surprise, her uniform fits his body just as it fits her own. Toga whistles, spinning around.

 

The boy pounds on the pavement, gasping. It’s a horrid, pathetic sound. The footsteps break into a run.

 

Toga winks. “Don’t reveal me, okay?” And holds her breathe.

 

The intruder has purple hair and eye bags the size of the sun. “Oh my god are you okay? H-hold on.” He fumbles for his phone. “I’ll get help. Hang in there-”

 

Toga pounces. The intruder’s back hits ground, his head collides with the pavement, and his phone goes flying out his hand- out of reach. She pins his wrists above his head, straddling him. “Who might you be?”

 

His eyes, a dull beautiful red, like dried blood, are wide open. Toga wants to pluck them out and hold him as he screams in pain. She wants to slurp the bloody remains and listen to his cries. But most of all, she wants to wear his skin. Toga puts her forehead to his.

 

His breath wash over her lips when he responds, shakily. “Let me go.”

 

She giggles. “No, I don’t think so. You’ve seen too much.”

 

Something comes over her, hijacking limbs and brain, and she releases his wrists. He pushes her off, breaking into a sprint, determined to leave the alleyway.

 

The spell breaks. Unfortunately for him, Toga is faster.

 

She tackles him, punches him in the gut to take his breath away, then wraps her hands around his throat and squeezes. She’s not going to kill him via asphyxiation. That’s boring, though the bruises left behind are pretty. Toga likes pretty things.

 

The intruder falls limp. She uses his tie to bind his wrists and drags his body back back to where her cute little kouhai is so they can die together.

 

Speaking of her kouhai, there’s a nice little puddle of blood forming around him. He look up at her with foggy eyes.

 

“You’re still alive?” She asks, depositing the intruder’s body against the opposite wall. He should wake up soon. Getting choked doesn’t keep you out for long. “Don’t worry, you’ll have a friend to join you in the after life. Maybe you’ll be reincarnated together.”

 

He remains silent. Toga turns her attention to her aching belly. She lifts her shirt up to her ribcage, and discovers a bruise. Huh, where did she get that?

 

Oh well. The intruder is regaining consciousness. Toga drops down to a squat and fiddles with her knife.

 

“That’s a really mean quirk you have there.” She says, smiling. She drags the tip of her blade across his cheekbone, cutting his skin open. “I’d really appreciate if you didn’t use it on me again.”

 

Toga claps her hands. “But I am smart and realize you will not listen to me! So I simply won’t respond to you.”

 

She licks his cheek, tongue gliding over her incision. Flavor, sharp and metallic, hits her taste buds.

 

He struggles against her, craning his neck away. Mixed into his glare is disgust. How cute. “Get away from me!”

 

Toga smiles and leans back, admiring her handiwork. He’s scared, so so scared, and his eyes, his red red eyes, are just perfect! Something wet slides down her cheek. She wipes it away with the back of her hand. Blood.

 

She eyes the cut on the intruder’s cheek and squeals. Soulmate! She met her soulmate! She envelops him in a hug and nuzzles the crook of his neck. Oh, physical contact. How great it feels to press yourself against another person! Toga’s hand slides over his stomach.

 

“What the hell are you doing! Don’t touch me!”

 

Hm. Not bad. There’s room for improvement of course. She squeezes his biceps and thighs, ignoring his incessant squawks, and decides the best part of her new love are his hands and neck. And eyes of course. Can’t forget the eyes.

 

She’s just going to have to whip the rest of him into shape.

 

Toga pecks his cheek and steals his blazer. So her soulmate is from U.A. and wants to become a hero. What a shame their career choices are on opposite ends of the spectrum. She’ll just have to ban work-related topics at home.

 

She giggles again. Her blush is hot on her face. Speaking of face, she’s still wearing her kouhai’s! Her soulmate won’t know what a cutie she is! He probably thinks she’s just a crossdressing pervert.

 

She’ll surprise him later.

 

Toga grabs his phone and sets it on his lap. His wrists are still bound. He’ll find a way to call the police, she’s sure. But for now, she needs to bounce.

 

“Goodbye, my dear!” Toga cries, sliding the blazer on. She scales the wall, undoubtedly flashing him in the process, and hops onto the roof. “Until we meet again!”

 

He shouts after her. Her grin widens.


ii.

His name is Shinsou Hitoshi. He was born July 1st and is 177 centimeters tall. His shoe size is 26 centimeters and went to Nabu Middle School. He lives in Saitama Prefecture.

 

Hitoshi lives in a two story lifeless house with a calico cat named Texas. He likes to watch T.V., play video games, and dick around on Sims. Hitoshi starts doing his homework at 7:30 pm and showers at 12 am. He scrubs his hair with generic shampoo and, and cleans his body with equally generic soap. He wraps his hair in a towel, then uses another to dry his body and slings it around his waist. Before he changes, Hitoshi checks his phone.

 

Every 3rd night he goes to bed, intent on sleeping, but wakes up 2 hours later in cold sweat, pale and shaky. He wears a t-shirt and boxers, which range from a spicy purple to a passionate red, with plain black occasionally sprinkled in. On bad days, he wears cat patterned boxers.

 

Hitoshi is a restless sleeper. He flips and flops, and groans and moans. Toga runs her fingers through his damp hair, and smoothens the crease between his eyebrows with her thumb. He turns his head away. Toga settles on holding his hand.

 

It’s a nice hand. Larger than hers and warm, with calluses on his palm and fingertips. His nails are neatly trimmed, and Toga imagines painting them purple to match his hair. His ring finger, however, would be yellow to honor their bond, or red for his eyes.  Red. Red is better. Numerous scars are littered across the back, all small and inconsequential. She brings his hand to her face and softly presses her lips against his knuckles.

 

Leaning back, Toga traces the scab on his cheek with reverence.

 

One more hour until he wakes up. Toga grabs the towel hanging off of the chair and brings it up to her face, inhaling the scent. Her blood runs hot through her veins. It thrums in her ears.

 

Hitoshi. Hitoshi.

 

Toga rummages through his closet, quietly of course because she has manners, and pulls out a plain black hoodie triumphantly. She’s going to send him more fashionable clothes when she gets her next cut of money.

 

As it turns out, being a villain is damn profitable. All she has to do is poke some people with her knife and impersonate them for a day or two to write checks and boom- she's rolling in cash. The downside is that being a villain means all she has left are the clothes on her back, and now she needs to replenish her supplies and rent a room from Giran. And her poor soulmate… Her unfashionable, unmoisturized, unconditioned soulmate…

 

She, despite being a beginner terrorist, manages to look presentable and great. Hitoshi has no excuse, and thus, needs more help than her.

 

That denim jacket she found the day before was simply horrendous. She showed it to Dabi and him, being the good partner he is, promptly set it in fire. Toga suspects he was raised in a rich household. Only constant exposure can allow one to spot the difference between Dior and Chanel from a mile away, as well as determine whether an article of clothing was made in a sweatshop or factory by its stitching. What a freak.

 

Toga slides the hoodie on, over the the white collared shirt of her school uniform, and hums as it falls over her thighs, past the edges of her miniskirt. The sleeves completely cover her hands. She flaps them around and ends up smacking a shirt. The hangers clang, noise reverberating throughout the entire house. Toga winces and checks Hitoshi. He doesn't stir.

 

She returns the U.A. blazer from their first meeting to its rightful place in the closet. Green is so lame. So tacky. U.A. should take a leaf from Shibuya and make the uniforms cuter. They should use yellow, a majestic and cheerful color to contrast the inevitable demise that await all heroes.

 

Toga finds two more denim jackets and nearly tears up. She’ll get Hitoshi all the jackets and crop jackets in the world as long as they aren't denim- though sweaters and vests look much much better. They'll be chic and cool, and they'll be matching. She and Hitoshi will be one of those couples who go out in Shibuya to assert their dominance over others and be asked by foreigners to have their picture taken for instagram.

 

Hitoshi’s shirts are okay. Boring, but passable, and his pants fall under the same category. She’ll recheck them after fixing his jacket selections.

 

Toga closes the closet and ambles to the kitchen to make herself some instant ramen. Hitoshi’s cat, Texas, purrs and rubs itself on her legs. What a friendly cat. It only took two weeks for it to stop hissing at her.

 

She watches the television on mute, scarfing down the noodles with Texas curled up on her side, before cleaning up after herself and hopping out the window, landing on her feet, to return to the hideout to check for more jobs. What a busy day she has ahead!


iii.

Hitoshi lays on his side, staring at the television blankly. The darkness beneath the stove stares back at him, before a girl with glass for teeth leaps out. A jumpscare. How scary.

 

Rubbing his eyes, he shuffles outside to get the mail. Coupons, ads, colleges, oh- an envelope addressed specifically to him? He opens it.

 

Enclosed are flower seeds (yellow peonies) and a photo of him in his school uniform unlocking the door from yesterday, or perhaps the day before. It’s hard to remember. Everything starts blurring together after nearly getting shanked in an alleyway.

 

Plant them , the letter reads, in bubbly cute handwriting that sends shivers down his spine.

 

His phone vibrates. Hesitantly, he checks the message. It’s another photo. This time, it’s as he’s  reading the letter, barefoot and in his boxers. His hair is mussed up from lounging around, and his shirt is slightly raised, showing a sliver of his stomach.

 

Hitoshi hears a giggle, the shutters of a camera, and walks back inside.

 

His phone receives another photo, this time while he's putting on pants. Plant them.

 

A photo of his cat, while he's in the bathroom, hunched over the toilet, retching. Plant them.

 

A photo of him hopping on his bike, pale and sick. Plant them.

 

A photo of him buying fertilizer, shifty eyed and jittery, hands shaking as he gives the cashier the appropriate amount of yen. A photo of him picked said yen off the ground. Plant them .

 

He returns home and finds a white bag with sunflowers splayed across hanging off his doorknob. Inside is a straw hat and Shinsou recalls seeing in Shibuya two weeks ago when he got swept by crowd. He shudders.

 

There’s also a small spade and gardening gloves. To his horror, the gloves fit perfectly.

 

There is a little island of dirt in front of his home, besides the walkway. In past, it might’ve contained lavenders or roses, or even a small hedge. But years of neglect have allowed weeds to sprout, ruining the dirt and appearance of the home. Hitoshi sneers.

 

He read up on peonies while waiting in line. Flowers are, as it turns out, complicated. The dirt needs to be nice and moist with organic material. Too much water the plant dies, too little water and it also dies. The hole must be a certain depth, then backfilled. What the hell does backfill mean?

 

Huffing, Hitoshi slaps the straw hat on and crouches in front of the island. The sun beats down on his back, and the wind gives rise of goosebumps. He begins stabbing at the roots of the crabgrass and dandelions with the spade, swearing at their unnatural resistance. Persistent little shits.

 

Dirt flies into his eyes. Time for a break.


iv.

Against his better judgement, Hitoshi gets used to being stalked. The police do nothing, having prioritized rounding up the rest of the filthy villain wannabes from the Stain debacle. Naturally, he takes matters into his own hands.

 

Hitoshi litters thumb tacks beneath the windows, changes the locks on all his doors, and hangs wind chimes. He faithfully tends to the peonies, and only changes with the lights off in the bathroom. He takes new routes to and fro school, and alternates the time he arrives home. He spends more days awake, and feigns sleep. When he feigns sleeps, he holds a knife to his chest, and when he’s actually sleeping, keeps the knife beneath his pillow. He dreams of accidentally tearing his throat open with it and wakes up disappointed on many occasions.

 

Hitoshi returns to freshly washed clothes, already hung up in his closet, and mismatched socks rolled up in a drawer. To his dismay, his underwear is also folded.

 

His shampoo is changed to Shiseido Tsubaki, bar soap to body wash, and his denim jackets have mysteriously been replaced with clothes that reek of Shibuya. Besides every sink is foaming hand soap that gently annihilates 99.99% of bacteria while leaving behind the faint aroma of sunshine.

 

His manga collection grows, more shows are recorded on television, and his Playstation has another account, which he takes great pleasure in deleting until his own data is erased.

 

It’s like living behind a one way mirror.

 

11 p.m and a week without sleep, and Hitoshi finds himself sitting on the couch scribbling in answers to his history worksheet. A magic girl anime illuminates the room, alternating between swatches of yellows, blues, and pink. The air is thin, and he’s running out.

 

“Number two is wrong.” Someone breathes, lips brushing against the shell of his ear. The cushion sinks, and a warm body leans into him.  “Quirk marriage laws were abolished only 40 years ago, after the case of Fortune v. Okinawa.”

 

Hitoshi fumbles for an eraser. “Thanks.”

 

“No problem.” The voice croons, high and sweet. She wraps a hand around his shoulder and pulls him in.  “I took this class in my first year of high school. What else are you having trouble on?”

 

The walls close in on him, squeezing out the remaining air, and red shrieks emanate from the television. A head crawls out, and maggots plop onto the floor from the melting skin. They inch towards him before being picked off by a crow and swallowed whole. Hitoshi rubs his eyes. His burning, aching eyes, and the room is whole once more. His chest aches. “I have a stalker.”

 

“How does that make you feel?” She tuck his head beneath her chin.

 

“Scared.” Hitoshi admits. “I saw him kill someone in Shibuya. I don’t like Shibuya y’know. It’s big and loud, the people are everywhere.” His breath hitches.  “When I was 5, there was a villain attack. Disrupted gravity. All these buildings fell and crushed people and I remember getting separated from my parents. It took hours for the heroes to get everything back into order.”

 

“I couldn’t breathe.” Hitoshi mumbles, head pressed against her chest, listening to the rhythmic beats of her heart. They’re synchronized, he realizes belatedly. Beating at the same time, one and whole. Stealing his blood and his air and existence. “I can’t breathe here either.”

 

“She won’t hurt you.” The girl smiles into his hairline. “She’ll never hurt you. You two are soulmates after all.”

 

“How do you know that?”

 

“Because,” She grabs Hitoshi’s chin and tilts it so they’re face to face, eye to eye. She traces a line against his cheek with the back of her nail. It hurts. “When I cut you in that alleyway, I bled.” Her hand slides onto his stomach. “When I punched you, I received the same bruise.”

 

“Now get rest.” She says. “You’ve been wearing yourself out thin trying to protect yourself from her.  It’s my turn to watch over you.”

 

Hitoshi closes his eyes.


v.

The boy from the alleyway squeezes his shoulders, straddling his lap, as blood drips from his open neck. Pale skin hangs loosely, covering the extent of the damage. With trembling fingers, Hitoshi pinches it with his fingers and pulls it up.

 

The cut is serrated and raw. Yellow globules of fat stick to the underside of the skin and the muscle is an angry vivacious red with blood vessels spidering across. Underlying everything is an untouched, light pink tube.

 

The boy reaches for Hitoshi’s throat. “Soulmates.” He croaks.

 

“Soulmates.” Hitoshi confirms, and allows the boy to tear his own throat open. He allows the boy to pinch and prod and pull until he’s equally torn and equally ruined. He allows the boy to shove pieces of soft flesh into his mouth. Iron explodes on his taste buds.  “We’re soulmates.”

 

The boy stills, then melts. Skin to fat to muscle, to organs and other tissue that seeps into Hitoshi’s clothes, down to his skin. It’s warm. He shivers.

 

From the boy emerges a blonde woman with yellow eyes and twin buns. She puts her lips against his open throat. Her tongue darts out, and she tastes his flesh. “Soulmates.” She whispers, and the flesh knits back together.


vi.

Hitoshi awakens with his head in someone’s lap, face sticky and hot. Sunlight filters through the room, providing a mysterious morning glow with untold and unwanted promises. The television hums softly.

 

Against his cheek is soft smooth flesh. Thigh , his mind supplies, that smells of faintly of vanilla and predominantly of saliva. Saliva? Oh, he’s been drooling.

 

Fingers are weaving through his hair and massaging his scalp. Suddenly, Hitoshi is five and in his mother’s lap, watching the debut of Eraserhead. He’s elated, excitement rattling his bones and unscrewing his head, allowing it to fly off into the sky to burst like a watermelon, splashing brain matter onto the unfortunate few beneath him and painting the pavement red.

 

There is no pavement today. Today, there is wood flooring that has been swept and mopped three days ago. Today Hitoshi is 16 and slowly reaching between the couch cushions, eyes closed and breathing steady, searching for the knife. Close. His fingers brush against the handle. Close.

 

His stomach growls. Her hand glides from the back of his head to his neck, sending shivers down his spine. She looks down. Hair brushes against Hitoshi’s face, and he doesn't need to open his eyes to see bright yellow eyes staring at him in excitement.

 

“Good morning!” She says, and Hitoshi wishes he was dead.


vii.

Hitoshi is good. He removes his arm from the cushion (silly boy, thinking that she wouldn't have found the knife first and relocated it) and stumbles to the bathroom. He washes his face, then hands her a wet towel.

 

He goes to the kitchen and begins to make breakfast. As he pulls out tray of eggs and a bowl, Toga wipes her thighs.

 

“My name is Toga Himiko.” She says. “I went to Shibuya high school and was in class 3-B. I was the star of the track team and won gold in the intramural competition. I’m 162 centimeters tall.”

 

“My best class, besides P.E. was literature, but I’m not too shabby at history either. I’ve received a total of 3 love confessions since my high school debut.” She continues. “And rejected all of them. My ideal guy is tattered and reeks of blood!”

 

The egg in Hitoshi’s hand breaks. Yolk, viscous and slimey, slides down his arm. He discards the shell and washes his hands.

 

“I’m the perpetrator of the Shibuya Blood Draining murders,” Toga watches Hitoshi crack an egg on the edge of the bowl. “And a member of the Villain Alliance. Recently we kidnapped this Baku guy, but Izuku rescued him.”

 

He frowns.

 

“Don’t worry though! I may call other guys by their first name, but you’re number one in my heart!”  She grins. “You can call me by my first name too. It’s Himiko, in case you forgot.”

 

Hitoshi whisks the eggs, remaining silent.

 

Toga deflates. “I’ll get you to say it eventually. But your scowling face is pretty cute too! Oh, was that too forward of me? I’m sorry, I’m just-”


viii.

Toga blathers and Hitoshi listens, then makes more eggs when Toga eats his share.

 

Hitoshi washes the dishes with her hugging him from behind, on her tippy toes to place her chin on the junction between his neck and shoulders, watching the bubbles form. The bubbles slide down the drain and hot water, borderline scalding, splash onto his hands and arms, and onto his apron.

 

His skin burns.


ix.

Things simultaneously get worse and better. The stalker is no longer an abstract entity lacking feeling or sense. She is an 18 year old girl with a penchant for murder who pretends to be scared watching horror movies to cuddle up next to him, fully aware that he’s the one freaked out of his mind. Toga steals his clothes and wanders around in a towel after showering, claiming that the bathroom is too humid, and likes to read magazines such as Cosmo and Vogue. Toga repaints her nails a bright yellow every week.

 

Correction: She makes Hitoshi paint her nails every week. Apparently, he has a gift and should consider dropping out of U.A. to start his own business. Except- one high school dropout is enough for the both of him. He should just transfer to a different school, like Shibuya.

 

Hitoshi eyes the new uniform hanging in his closet in suspicion.

 

Toga corrects his homework and laughs at his answers, then laughs harder at his red ears and neck. She plops onto his lap, turning him into an extension of the cushion, when she wants to watch television or play video games, and Hitoshi is 99% sure it’s to be an annoyance rather than comfort. Her elbows dig into his thighs and her knees hang off his neck. She contorts and twists around him, melding, fitting herself wherever she pleases.

 

It’s distracting.

 

Sometimes she comes home bloody, sometimes she doesn’t. Sometimes she’s herself, and sometimes she’s not.

 

He prefers it when she’s herself. It’s weird having a stranger drape themselves on you and compliment your eyes. It’s weird being the bigger person one day, and then only being able to reach her shoulders the next. It’s weird touching soft smooth flesh one day, then prickly hairs the next.

 

Hitoshi feels stubble rubbing against his cheek and pushes her off.


x.

“Do you like me?” She asks, licking a spoon. They’re in an ice cream parlor, somewhere in Shibuya. Goddamn Shibuya. Red eyes stare back at him, purple hair concealed with a cap. Of course, ever so loyal to her high school, she wears the male version of the uniform. “Because I like you. A lot.”

 

Hitoshi pokes at the banana split sitting between them. The ice cream is halfway melted and the whipped cream slides down. The colors, pink, brown, and white, all mesh together into a horrible amalgam of despair. Hitoshi feels depressed just looking at it.

 

Himiko offers him a spoonful of ice cream. He accepts and wonders how incestual they look.

 

Very incestual, Hitoshi decides, eyeing the horrified looks of the cashier. He only feels a little bit bad for them.

 

Hitoshi wipes a smidgen of ice cream off her face with his thumb and licks it off, stomach twisting at the sight of her blush.

 

The lights flash all around them, music screaming into their ears. Outside, the people bustle and boom, and the freaks from Harajuku parade in their spiked platform shoes. There is chatter, mindless chatter, that drowns the screams of the murdered and their murderers. People move without destination, and at the heart of the pandemonium, there is nothing but an eerie silence that allows him to hear all.

 

His skin is burning, his chest is aching.

 

Hitoshi digs his nails into his palm, watches thin rivulets of blood trail down Himiko’s hand and onto their ice cream, and decides that he will kill her one day.

 

Himiko grins. Her face is flushed, and she grabs a fistful of his hair, pulling him in for a searing, bruising kiss. Their teeth clash together. Saliva dribbles down the corner of his mouth.

 

Bloodlust dances in her red red eyes, excitement thrumming through her veins.

 

The peonies are blooming and the aphids are singing. What beauty their existence contains. Rays of light shine down on the world below, illuminating paths not taken and the ones that never should have been taken.

 

Hitoshi bites her tongue and copper explodes in their mouths. Blood and saliva mix, potentially clotting and potentially not, and his teeth are red when he pulls back, baring them for the world to see.

 

They get kicked out and are told never to return.

 

Something bubbles in his chest and they both stumble out the parlor, hand in hand, leaning against each other. Sweat makes the cuts on his palm sting. He squeezes her hand tighter.

 

There is mania, there is hysteria. Hitoshi pulls her through the crowd, against the tides. His chest is aching and the air is escaping. The lights are bright, the music loud, and no one pays attention to two teenagers slipping into a dark alleyway.

 

It’s as dingy as he remembered. And smaller. Gravel crunches beneath his feet and he drags her deeper before pushing her against the wall. He kisses her, besides the flowers and photos, and wonders how much blood the floor beneath them soaked.

 

Her hands snake to the back of his head and pulls his hair. Himiko wraps her legs around his waist.

 

His chest is aching, his skin is burning, and he grinds into her. Crows circle overhead and their cries are washed away by the pandemonium of Shibuya. The floor is damp and someone died. The peonies are in full bloom and his grades are good. Someone died. The streets are loud and bright.

 

Someday he will die. And someday she will too.

 

Hitoshi grinds into her

 

Today is not that day.