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i'm afraid (of the things in my brain)

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The first time Katsuki sees him is from a crowd of other patients, huddling together in their off-white gowns and slippers and whispering.

His eyes are glassy. His arms are covered in white bandages, or what should be white bandages. They’re stained red from his wrists to his bicep, rivulets of blood dripping onto the floor.

He looks euphoric.

---

It’s midnight, probably later, actually, when they meet the first time. Katsuki can’t play the piano- he spent a decade of his childhood refusing to learn, and he regrets it now.

He sits at the old, out of tune piano that’s provided for entertainment; he lets his fingertips brush over the keys and closes his eyes. If he concentrates he can hear his father’s playing- soft melodies that lulled him to sleep on the worse nights, and the even softer ones his father would play when he thought Katsuki was asleep.

He meets Todoroki Shouto as he’s imagining listening to his father play the piano.

---

Shouto is ethereal.

He looks like an angel when he sits next to Katsuki, at the piano, bathed in moonlight.

His scars stand out like this, as do the needle marks. Katsuki wants to listen, he tries as hard as he can, but sitting next to him is an otherworldly being who he wants to unravel.

He’s gorgeous but it’s more than that. He smiles brokenly, with the knowledge of someone decades older. His eyes glow, heterochromatic colors contrasting and catching the attention of anyone who cares to look. They tell a story, one that so far eludes Katsuki.

Katsuki falls in love, and he doesn’t look back.

--- 

Shouto comes to share his stories, in time. He has so many, from his first memory of burning to the day Katsuki saw him, and each one opens something else in Katsuki. 

Sometimes Shouto still plays the piano- slow and soft and just for Katsuki, but they lay in Katsuki’s bed, most nights. The moonlight illuminates Shouto there, too, but in a different way. It’s sadder, perhaps.

Katsuki doesn’t have the words to describe the purity of emotion that Shouto expresses.

Shouto loves being intertwined like this, he tells Katsuki.

Katsuki loves it, too, the feeling of being unsure of where he ends and Shouto begins.

He thinks one day they’ll leave this place behind, and move into a little house with windows in the bedroom that face the sun, so Katsuki can watch the sunrise paint Shouto each morning. 

---

Shouto is the one who has bad days now, when he can’t complete a thought or regulate his breathing, and on the absolute worst nights, form syllables that roll off his tongue in a way anyone understands.

He cries, on those days, and Katsuki holds him through it. 

The first time Katsuki prays is when he’s holding Shouto, chest heaving and breath shaky as he comes back from the deep dark of his own mind.

---

Shouto grabs his face one night, and he looks at Katsuki with nothing but pure adoration in his odd eyes.

He asks if Katsuki will drink all his thoughts, because they scare him and he wants to rest.

His eyes brim with tears after that, soft little hiccupping sobs that shatter Katsuki’s heart.

He wishes he could take Shouto’s thoughts, so maybe he wouldn’t suffer so much.

---

Time slows, where they are, or maybe it speeds up. Katsuki isn’t sure, not when the days and nights blend together in a haze of sleep and Shouto.

Shouto has become his world, and Katsuki wants to pull the stars down from the sky so he can dance in them. 

His mother doesn’t understand, when he tries to explain how important and absolutely necessary it is that he has Shouto with him. She doesn’t meet his gaze until they move on, and talk about something else.

He watches Shouto across the room at the piano, hands drifting in that lackadaisical way of his and playing the scene as it unfolds before him.

Katsuki thinks he’s fallen in love with a god.

--- 

Shouto is scary, sometimes.

He’s not trying, really, and Katsuki will never hold it against him, but he says things in his sleep, and when he’s awake, too.

Katsuki stops listening, after that, when he can’t fall asleep because Shouto has pulled him into a world of darkness.

They don’t talk for a while, though Katsuki has no way of knowing how long it’s been when Shouto sneaks back into his bed and sings him the lullabies his father used to. 

He doesn’t remember telling Shouto about those songs. He falls asleep.

---

Katsuki is released, some finite amount of time later.

He thinks it’s funny that being able to say the right words will let him go home. 

Shouto has to stay. He cries, every second leading up to Katsuki’s departure, clinging to him until Katsuki’s parents physically move him outside.

He thinks his heart breaks, when they do. He hears Shouto, sobbing still, but there’s an edge to it.

He looks for the house with the windows in the bedroom, so he can move in and find Shouto as soon as he can.

--- 

Katsuki finds an apartment, because he’s still just 18, but the windows face the right way. He gets a job, and he exists, waiting and waiting and waiting.

There’s a balcony in the apartment, which Katsuki sits on every night and watches the sky. 

He waits, waits for years, until one night when he’s 23 and doesn’t remember what it’s like not to feel this way, he sees the streak across the sky.

He goes down to buzz Shouto in, and there he is.

He looks the same as he did when they were kids, sixteen going on seventeen and broken.

He’s cold, shivering, but he insists on joining Katsuki on the balcony.

They dance, even though there’s no music and the city below is still bustling with people, but Katsuki lets his eyes drift shut and when he opens them, he thinks he sees stars surrounding them.

He lets Shouto lead him into bed, and they’re intertwined again, like teenagers dreaming of a life they’ll never have.

Katsuki gets to watch the sun splash its colors onto Shouto as it rises. He falls asleep, eventually.

---

The bed is cold, when Katsuki wakes up.

He pulls the blankets around himself and prays again, and though it’s been years he doesn’t really think anyway has changed. 

That night he sits on the balcony again, searching for a shoot star.