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when march brings rain

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Izuku is rather surprised when Katsuki wanders into the refectory looking hopelessly lost. He waits for the blonde to push to the front of the line, or yell something loud before leaving, or to approach Izuku demanding they leave the school full of ‘hopeless extras’, but Katsuki does not do that. Katsuki blinks, his hands hanging by his sides as he simply stands there in the centre of the room.

His face looks so peaceful when it is not scrunched up in a scowl, and when his lips are not pulled down in a snarl Izuku does not miss how smooth his skin is and the sharp edge of his jaw.

He waits a few minutes. Ochako leans next to him, her forehead furrowed in confusion.

“What is he doing?” She hisses, and Izuku shrugs, still completely confused himself.

Ochako makes a ‘hm’ noise. “You should go over to him.”

Izuku turns to her with widened eyes. “What, so he can ignore me again?”

She sighs, putting her juice carton down so she can massage her temples. “Look, he’s your boyfriend - you should at least ask him what’s so wrong that he’s looking like someone’s dropped him in a different country-”

He sighs too, dipping his head in defeat. “I guess you’re right.”

Katsuki still hasn’t moved - he’s not drunk, Izuku thinks as he watches the blonde’s movements. He could be high - but at the same time, Izuku isn’t sure. Katsuki’s dabbled in that stuff before but there’s no way he’d do that in school - right?

If he was intoxicated, he surely wouldn’t have that spark in his eyes that’s so bright Izuku feels like he’s looking at something forbidden. And it’s not that aggressive flame that sometimes springs up when Katsuki looks like he might punch something, sort of like when gasoline is thrown on fire - but it’s delicate, gentle - like a sparkler.

“Hey.” Izuku says, tapping Katsuki on the shoulder.

Katsuki turns around and does not spit some foul response, or curl his lip, or just huff and avert his gaze. Izuku finds his breath escaping him because Katsuki turns, and his shoulders are relaxed - there’s no tension residing in his frame, and perhaps what takes Izuku off guard the most is that his eyes are so full of what seems to be compassion past that cloudy confusion.

“I-Izuku?”

Something must be wrong.

“What happened to the whole Deku thing?” He whispers, looking away because he’s expecting Katsuki to suddenly snap and yell and end up getting himself suspended again -

Katsuki only blinks at him.

This whole thing is so weird Izuku can’t help but feel that any second now he’s going to wake up. This isn’t Katsuki. Katsuki does not behave like this.

But this boy in front of him with his crimson eyes that are unusually soft and his ash blonde hair is undeniably the person Izuku calls his boyfriend. And yet he cannot figure out what on earth Katsuki has taken to make him behave like -

“Uh - God, I’m sorry  - didn’t get much sleep -” Katsuki’s voice is stuttering slightly and he coughs lightly into his hand. Izuku is completely gobsmacked. He feels like a fish just standing there with his jaw flopping open as Katsuki apologises to him for not calling him Deku.

Izuku had honestly thought Katsuki had forgotten his real name from calling him that foul nickname for so long.

He’s silent for a few seconds and is aware that his jaw is still open as Katsuki visibly squirmed, looking very anxious. Anxious and Katsuki did not go together. It was like two of the most opposite things in the world locking horns.

“I can call you that if you’d prefer …” Katsuki trails off and it takes a good few seconds for Izuku to kick his brain back onto a timeline that isn’t lagging behind everyone else’s.

“Um -”

Something flashes in Katsuki’s eyes that he can’t decipher and Izuku instinctively takes a tiny step back because he’s suddenly slightly wary that the blonde might lash out -

“Or do you prefer Izuku?” His boyfriend finishes, and Izuku has to clear his throat because - why is it tightening? Is it the shock at Katsuki’s behaviour finally catching up with him? Or is it -

“Yes. I’d like that.” He says before he can change his mind, and Katsuki smiles.

Katsuki is smiling, and it’s not a grotesque grin or the horrendous teeth-baring snarl that seems to be permanently etched onto his face. It’s soft and beautiful and gentle and he’s showing his teeth slightly but it’s not aggressive at all. It’s warm and his eyes are crinkling slightly at the edges and oh God - Katsuki has dimples.

Not that Izuku has ever seen them before. He finds his breathing escaping him in a rush and his heart takes a giddy twirl in his chest.

Either way, Izuku doesn’t know how long this Katsuki is going to last. He decides to push all of his weirded-out feelings right to the back of his mind because right now, he only cares about one thing.

“Hey, Kacchan.” Izuku grins, grabbing Katsuki’s hand.

He doesn’t miss how Katsuki’s eyes widen ever so slightly, but there’s no sign of a potential lashing out occuring behind those irises. He looks slightly shocked but it’s almost borderline adorable, Izuku realises with another nervous thud from his heart at his ribcage.

“Yeah?”  Katsuki replies, and Izuku has to exhale because this is so strange, yet he doesn’t mind at all. If anything, Izuku decides there and then that he quite likes this new Katsuki, no matter how strangely he is behaving at the moment.

“Let’s go.” Izuku suggests, looking up at him.

He’s almost expecting Katsuki to revert back to his old ways and shake him off, but Katsuki’s warm hand only squeezes his fingers gently.

“But - we’ve still got class -”

“Let’s ditch class.” Izuku begins pleading with him.

It’s usually Katsuki who leaves school when he’s still got classes. He’ll try to persuade Izuku to go with him but Izuku always tries to politely decline - and Katsuki will either curl his lip and leave anyway with a spitting ‘tch’, or start getting slightly rough and try to forcefully get Izuku to bunk off lessons with him.

He’s trying not to let the fact that Katsuki is actually reluctant to leave school invade his thoughts. This has never happened before. Izuku almost wants to panic and demand what drugs he’s taken that’s made him act like this.

But actually...

He’s never stood with Katsuki and felt this calm. Katsuki’s presence is gentle and warm and Izuku wants to be with him. All doubt dissipates at that moment.

He prefers this Katsuki, and Izuku doesn’t know how long it’s going to be here for. So he’d rather make the most of it for however long this new Katsuki is here for.

Izuku smiles at him again and reaches up to brush Katsuki’s bangs from where they’re floating slightly over his left eye. Katsuki’s eyes follow his fingers but he doesn’t react at all, only keeping those soft irises on his face.

“Kacchan, you’ve been waiting months for the day I’ll actually ditch school with you.” He laughs, and Katsuki gazes at him, looking a little dumbfounded before his face breaks out into that soft smile again that sends Izuku’s heart thrumming at his chest like a motor.

“Alright, then.” Katsuki says, and his voice is so smooth and not churned up by that horrible gravelly snarl that must surely tear his throat apart. It’s low and it’s got such a rich, deep vibration that Izuku’s never heard before.

Izuku laughs, pulling Katsuki by the wrist from the building. Katsuki does not resist and follows him, his hand not leaving Izuku’s once. As the two teens run from the school gates, Izuku can’t help laughing in joy as Katsuki smiles too - genuine, wonderful smiles - and their hands stay locked together. It’s beautiful, Izuku thinks. He’s never felt so perfectly happy with Katsuki until today.

But it never stops weighing on his mind that this can’t be permanent. Surely not.

Either way, he’s determined to make the most of today.

They run love-drunk through the slightly overgrown grass and Izuku is laughing and smiling so much his face hurts as Katsuki chases him, his own laughs echoing and resonating through their intertwined fingers.

They roll to the ground, crushing that grass beneath their backs as Katsuki plucks daisies from the grass and drops them on Izuku’s face, who squeals at the tickling of their small petals on his eyelashes.

Katsuki’s the one pulling Izuku along now, his eyes wide with wonder as he grins at Izuku and crinkles his eyes up and shows his dimples and he’s so handsome. Who would have thought that Katsuki’s shoulders relaxed and not rock hard with tension would make him look so beautiful?

He doesn’t have that much time to think about it because Katsuki stops at a flower stall, his eyes wide as he observes the colourful plants on display. He ends up buying five mixed coloured carnations and he tucks them into the crook of his elbow as he nips the stem off one of them and spits it to the ground. Izuku can’t help grinning stupidly and blushing furiously as Katsuki tucks it behind Izuku’s ear with his tongue poking out of his mouth as he concentrates. And then he takes his hand back and smiles at Izuku, that soft, gentle smile again, and Izuku wants to kiss him so badly, but clearly he’s not finished yet as he begins pulling Izuku by the hand down the almost deserted high street.

It’s actually Katsuki who suggests the aquarium. Izuku doesn’t even have much time to be dumbfounded before Katsuki tugs him ever so gently but with joy and amusement flashing in those eyes towards the building. Katsuki pays for the tickets and the assistant initially looks slightly wary at the sight of two teens out of school at this time, but Katsuki puts a finger to his lips to the assistant with a gentle smile, before handing her one of the carnations he’s still holding in one of his hands. The assistant takes the flower, looking slightly shocked, but then she smiles too, seeing those two teens so hopelessly lost in each other, and she lets them through.

Izuku keeps making noises of delight all the way through the tunnel of jellyfish glowing in their iridescent colours under the purple UV light, and Katsuki points at his own shirt, showing Izuku that the white logo on it is glowing too. Izuku giggles and is pointing at all of the areas of Katsuki’s clothing that are bright with the UV light, and when Katsuki gestures to Izuku’s shoe laces, he can’t help gasping in delight at how they’re alight.

Katsuki takes a photo of the two of them, still glowing as the jellyfish swim around their heads like halos.

And all through the various tanks of shining fish and enormous crabs and stingrays, Katsuki doesn’t let go of his hand and listens to Izuku’s non-stop talk of how pretty they all are. Izuku’s heart won’t stop skipping every time Katsuki nods and makes noises of acknowledgement at his words.

“Do you see the shark, Izuku?” Katsuki whispers, pointing up at the top of the tank.

Izuku squints and presses closer to the glass to try and see. “No - wait, where is it?”

“Look closer.” Katsuki smiles, inching his face slightly closer. “Right there. See?”

He’s got his hand on Izuku’s and is pointing them both towards the elusive shark.

Izuku blinks, still squishing his nose to the glass to try and see. “No, I still can’t -”

“Raah!” Katsuki growls gently in his throat, causing Izuku to jump, but there’s playfulness in Katsuki’s eyes and he can’t help squeaking in faux terror and joy.

“Oh my God!” Izuku squeals, shoving Katsuki to the side as he erupts into soft laughter, and running into the next tank room. Katsuki tails him, the two still laughing before their voices trail off at the sight of the massive sheet of glass taking up the entire room.

The lights are dim, and there’s a beautiful, soft blue glow illuminating Katsuki’s features as they stop short of the tank. Izuku slips his hand back into Katsuki’s as they watch the enormous tiger shark swim so lazily through the water, its silver skin shining and glowing.

“I told you there was a shark.” Katsuki whispers in  a low voice in his ear, and Izuku has to suppress a chill running down his spine at the slight touch of Katsuki’s lips on his skin.

“You liar - there was no way they kept the shark in the same tank as those tiny fish.” Izuku breaths back, turning his face back to Katsuki as he gave Izuku that wonderful soft smile again.

Katsuki shrugged, the corners of his mouth perking up slightly as his grip adjusts around Izuku’s hand. “All right, you got me. I do apologise.”

It’s so wonderfully romantic and cheesy but Izuku can’t stop thinking about kissing this beautiful, new Katsuki. But the spell’s broken too quickly and they finally leave the shark room. Katsuki’s hand stays wrapped about his. They don’t kiss, and Izuku can’t help feeling a pang of disappointment in his stomach.

They walk slowly down the promenade, and Izuku smells the salt of the sea and exhales gently. Katsuki’s quiet, but Izuku’s more than content as their joint hands swing gently side by side.

They stop for a few seconds to pluck the petals off the remaining flowers and drop them onto the golden sand.

“How’s your mother, Kacchan?” Izuku asks him to break the silence, and Katsuki turns to face him, his eyes not conveying any emotion in that moment. For a second, it’s the blankest Izuku’s ever seen him today - but finally Katsuki blinks and his irises come back into focus.

“She’s just as well as she can be.” He answers, and Izuku smiles at him, letting go of his hand so he can climb up onto the wall lining the edge of the beach.

Katsuki helps him up and takes his hand to steady him as they continue to walk, Izuku balancing up on the wall and Katsuki still on the path.

“And yours?” Katsuki asks, looking up at him from where Izuku’s still wobbling across the wall.

Izuku can’t help furrowing his eyebrows at that response. “Since when have you ever shown interest in my family, Katsuki?”

Katsuki blinks at him. “I’m sorry for asking -”

“N-no, it’s fine.” Izuku sighs, wobbling slightly on the wall, but Katsuki’s firm grip and strong arm doesn’t let him fall. They keep walking. “Well, y’know, since my dad left, my mom’s not been her best. It sucks but - there’s not much I can do except be there for her and try not to burden her -”

“You’re not a burden, Izuku.” Katsuki says, and it’s so sincere and genuine it strikes chords across Izuku’s heart so suddenly he thinks he might cry.

“But today’s the best day I’ve had in a long time, Kacchan.” Izuku says, reaching the end of the wall and jumping off. “Thank you.”

Katsuki blinks again, before smiling ever so gently. “Me too.”

Izuku goes up to kiss him before he can change his mind. Their lips touch and Izuku wraps his arms around Katsuki’s waist. Katsuki seems slightly stiff but he almost immediately relaxes into it. There’s a warm thrill bolting down Izuku’s spine and eventually they have to break apart for air, despite the fact Izuku never wants it to end.

“Your mouth tastes a lot better when you don’t smoke.” Izuku whispers to him.

Katsuki’s eyes are wide and he gazes at Izuku with such emotion flickering in those crimson irises. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

Their lips connect again and they kiss for a long time, the only thing breaking the silence being their hushed breathing synchronising with the gentle crash of the waves.

 

-

 

He wakes up - slowly lifting each hand, and gently turning each one over. Well - he can’t really call himself ‘he’ at the moment, can he, he thinks with a smile, feeling his long hair falling over his shoulders.

He’s not Katsuki anymore.

He can’t help feeling a pang at that - and he doesn’t think it’s because of the fact that Katsuki’s gone.

He sits up and blinks a few times, picking up the phone on the bedside table and opening up the camera.

“Hello, Momo.” He whispers, watching the girl on the screen move her lips to his words. “I’m Shouto. I won’t be here long - but I promise I’ll make today great.”





Chapter Text

Shouto remembers when he had a choice of how he could act.

It’s one of the few things he can remember.

Stone cold, emotionless, speaking only when spoken to - that was Shouto. And he wouldn’t have had it any other way.

But one day, it just goes away. He goes to sleep as himself, and wakes up someone else.

And from the second he opened his eyes and saw a different ceiling - a different room, a different life - from different eyes, what choice he had left vanished. Shouto - the real Shouto - never came back. He never saw his old life again.

Of course, he panicked the first time he woke up in a different body. But he soon learnt that his actions in other people’s lives caused consequences.

The boy he’d taken over had reacted so strangely for the short time that Shouto had been there, the boy’s family thought he was possessed. An orthodox family, the ones who went to church without fail and tossed salt over the shoulder, saw their youngest son acting like his body wasn’t his own - which it wasn’t, in a way. Shouto had thought that the whole experience was bad enough, but that boy whose life he’d unwillingly stolen for twenty-four hours was obviously religiously cleansed and exorcised long after Shouto had left.

Shouto knows this, because he found that in whatever area he was, his consciousness and thoughts - the raw parts of ‘Shouto’ that still seemed to remain, despite the fact his body was gone - seemed to ping around bodies in a specific place. Shouto never woke up in a different country. Sometimes he’d wake up in a different body that was only mere houses away from the one he’d inhabited the previous night.

And after seeing how much that boy had suffered following brutal exorcisms from his highly superstitious family, Shouto realised he wasn’t allowed to act like himself anymore, if it was to evoke such suspicion in their families and cause inconvenience to the person he was inhabiting once Shouto had left them.

Who even was ‘Shouto’? Really, he was nothing without a body - mere consciousness floating around and simply latching onto the nearest body as they slept.

So there and then, Shouto made a pact. Everything that was his is now gone - his family, his body, his life, his memories of his old life. Shouto knows that he’s come from somewhere - he is missing a large chunk of himself - and try as he might, he can’t remember the faces of his family or even what he used to look like. They are like broken fragments floating in that cloud of his own consciousness that he simply can’t piece together.

When he sits and thinks about it, all he can remember is his age, name and gender.

“My name is Shouto. I am seventeen years old.” He’d find himself whispering, before stopping, because he can’t remember any more than that.

He knew what he used to be like. But he couldn’t be like that anymore, because these people - they weren’t him. This life he was living in for a single day wasn’t his.

So Shouto always promised whoever he was for today that he’d live that day for them the best he possibly could. Because being Shouto when he is not Shouto isn’t an option anymore.

And yes, Shouto hates sometimes acting like someone he isn’t. He hates being extroverted and happy and romantic and funny but he’ll always at least try. Sometimes the Shouto slips out and he hates himself for it, but really, he can’t help it.

But for Shouto, the options are gone. He decides no matter what body he’s in, no matter what personality he has to imitate - it’s only twenty four hours, and he’s going to try his best. And whilst he’s here, he might as well try and leave a positive mark on these people’s lives, if he is going to live those lives for them.

It’s been eleven years. Eleven years of celebrating Christmas with different families; eleven years of celebrating random birthdays that aren’t his when try as he might, he can’t remember his own; eleven years of hugging mothers that aren’t his; eleven years of doing homework that isn’t his and going out with friends that aren’t his and kissing people that aren’t his -

He swallows hard to ease the sudden tightness in his throat.

Shouto can’t call anything his. His only possessions are his name, and the new memories of all those lives that aren’t his that he’ll carry around to the next body.

But actually, there’s only one material object he can always access no matter where he is - as long as he has a rather vital piece of equipment in this day and age.

Momo’s phone is a new model. It’s got a white border surrounding the screen and a ruby red case on it, and luckily, it’s got a fingerprint scanner. Sometimes Shouto’s stuck with a phone that can only be unlocked with a code that, of course, he doesn’t know. He doesn’t get the memories of whoever he’s inhabiting - but even if he did, Shouto doesn’t think he’d want to look at them. He already thinks he’s being invasive enough by stealing a day of someone’s life and having to invade their privacy by washing them and clothing their body, but he gets on with it and just hopes they won’t mind. Nobody remembers him once he’s left, anyway.

He unlocks Momo’s phone. There it is, the pink and yellow icon he’s so used to seeing. Shouto taps on Instagram and it opens the app, showing Momo’s feed full of photos of other people her age and pictures of dogs and beautiful artworks from people she obviously follows. A tiny smile twitches at his lips at the sight, but he doesn’t dwell on it too long. She’s got messages too, but Shouto won’t look at them. They’re not his to open.

He flicks to Momo’s profile and taps on her username at the top in order to log into a new account. He then taps in the details of the one he has used every night for as long as he can remember. There, the newest addition to the ‘record’ of lives he’s lived and people he’s been, is that photo of Katsuki and Izuku in the aquarium with the jellyfish.

Shouto looks at the photo for a long time, and he’s slightly concerned when his heart twirls in his chest. He frowns and kneads at his breastbone with a palm but by the time he’s wondered what on earth has made him react like this, the feeling has subsided and he’s left more confused than ever. He tries not to look at all the other photos he’s posted to that account. Every day, before he goes to bed and he falls asleep, Shouto always posts a photo from that day on his account before logging out so there is no trace on the owner’s phone. The account has got no followers, and he is not following anyone, and it will stay that way.

Shouto knows it’s not good to dwell on the past, but he feels like keeping some sort of memory is necessary. Since he can’t remember anything from before, he at least thinks he should try and remember now. The universe has made his life like this, and he must at least try and live it not only for himself, but for the people he’s living for as well.

But, the universe has already written today out for him - and that, for any teenager, includes school.

“Momo?” A woman pokes her head into the door.

Shouto shoots upright, coughing slightly into his hand and logging out of the account quickly before dropping the phone onto the covers. “Yeah?”

Speaking with a female voice is always slightly foreign to him, but the voice is nothing compared to how much extra weight Momo carries on her chest every day. Shouto’s inhabited so many female bodies that the prospect of having breasts doesn’t bother him anymore, but this girl - how does she not have back problems? - he has to fight back a wince as his spine twinges.

“Hey, sweet.” The woman says, smiling at him. She’s got the same hair as Momo, Shouto notices. “It’s not like you to need me to get you up in the morning -”

“Yeah - my alarm didn’t go off.” Shouto says, faking a yawn and stretching his arms over his head. “I’m fine, though.”

“Okay, then.” Momo’s mom says, coming over and planting a kiss on Shouto’s head. “I’ve got to rush into work, so are you alright walking into school?”

Shouto internally panics -  not knowing where Momo lives means he might not be able to locate her school by himself - but Momo’s mom opens up the curtains to let light streaming in. He recognises the road - he’s been here before for sure. Only a few weeks ago he’d been in the body of another boy who lived not too far away - and now with the light, he notices Momo’s uniform folded neatly on the chair of her desk. He recognises the uniform and swallows hard when he remembers putting on an identical one yesterday.

When he was Katsuki.

“Yes.” He answers, forcing himself to smile at Momo’s mom. “That’s totally fine.”

“Thanks, baby.” Momo’s mom says, smiling and blowing a kiss at Shouto. She’s got some sort of formal work attire on. Shouto assumes she’s some sort of businesswoman from the way she’s dressed, and from the rather expensive looking watch she has on. “If you could feed the cats when you get home that would be great -”

“Don’t worry about it.” Shouto says, throwing back the covers and standing up as he rubbed at his eyes. “You should go before you’re late.”

Momo’s mom smiles at him, before embracing him swiftly and whirling out. “I’m so sorry about this. I’ll see you later, hun.”

“Love you!” Shouto calls, and he doesn’t miss how Momo’s mom’s eyes soften before she’s out of sight.

“Love you too!” Is the last thing he hears before Momo’s mother exits and Shouto hears her car pulling out of the drive.

“Alright.” He whispers to himself, pushing long, dark hair from his eyes.

A quick glance at Momo’s clock shows he has about forty minutes before the first bell goes for school. Shouto knows this because he was late yesterday as Katsuki - he’s a little grateful now that he at least knows his way around the school. Kind of. Momo’s bound to have different lessons to Katsuki -

He shakes his head and decides to cross that bridge once he gets to it. For now, he needs to make sure Momo actually gets to school in an acceptable state. Shouto exhales before he totters over to Momo’s folded uniform, checking through it to see if it was all there. Blazer, shirt, tie, skirt - all check. He turns his attention to her wardrobe and opens it, but there is nothing in there except casual clothing. Finally, Shouto opens up a drawer underneath the wardrobe and locates a bra, some knickers and some socks.

Tucking all the clothes into the crook of his arm, Shouto exits Momo’s room and blinks, looking around to assess his surroundings. The corridor leads away from his room into a circle, where there’s an internal balcony looking downwards into the hallway. There’s a pretty, cream cat perched on the handrail, and she mews at Shouto when he comes into view. He can’t help the corner of his mouth twitching up as he plants a hand into the cat’s fur, petting her gently around the ears. The tag on her collar reveals her name as ‘Lady’.

“You are a beautiful little lady, aren’t you?” Shouto breathes to her, and she meows back at him as if in agreement.

Shouto loves it when he’s in a body of someone who own cats. Sometimes he wishes he could be in a cat body instead of a human one - that way, he wouldn’t have to worry about fulfilling the responsibilities of whoever he’s living as. He gives Lady one more tickle under the chin before resuming his search for the bathroom.

Shouto opens the door next to his room and only finds an airing cupboard, but the next door reveals the bathroom and he shuts the door behind him, dropping Momo’s uniform onto the side and taking off her pyjamas. When it came to undressing, Shouto does not focus on the body of whoever he’s with as he feels like it is taking advantage of them. He showers quickly and carefully, using the hair products on the side to smoothen out Momo’s sleep-tangled hair and make it so silky he can run his fingers right through it. Finally, he shuts the shower off and wraps a towel around his body, before grabbing another to scrub at his damp hair.

Although there seem to be a lot of beauty products on the side, Shouto doesn’t know which ones are Momo’s and which ones are her mother’s. From the lack of men’s products, he comes to the conclusion that Momo’s parents are most likely seperated and she lives alone with her mother.

He pulls on some knickers and hooks up a bra, barely containing a sigh of relief when the weight of Momo’s breasts is lightened slightly. He doesn’t envy her, in all honesty, he thinks as he sprays on some deodorant and puts on her uniform, the skirt sitting comfortably on Momo’s curvy hips.

Shouto’s already noticed that Momo seems to always style her hair in a pigtail from the various framed photographs around the house and the selfies in her phone. He rolls a damp lock of hair between a finger in thumb as he gazes in the mirror, spending a few minutes blowing it dry with a hairdryer left on the side and attempting to gather it all behind his head with a band on his slim, feminine wrist. He attempts to tie it up but to no avail - Momo seems to have such thick hair it can’t possibly be contained into a single band. Shouto huffs, pulling the band out so his hair floats back over his eyes. He just can’t seem to concentrate and he doesn’t know why. After a few more attempts, Shouto gives up and instead manages to braid Momo’s hair down one side of her head, just above her temple, before pulling back the locks that framed her face into a sort of half-up-half down style. He’s done this several time in other female bodies but it seems to work well with Momo’s face shape. He gazes at himself in the mirror and apologizes silently to her for not being able to do her hair in her normal way, before quickly brushing some foundation onto his face and mascara over Momo’s long eyelashes.

Glancing at Momo’s phone, which is now conveniently in the breast pocket of his blazer, Shouto mentally notes that he has about twenty minutes to make sure he’s eaten something and headed off to school. From where he is, he assumes it would take no more than ten minutes to get to UA in a brisk walk. FInally exiting the bathroom, Shouto drops Momo’s night clothing back onto her bed and quickly locates what he assumes is her schoolbag - a quick check inside confirmed it is, from the books inside of it. Momo’s planner is open on her desk alongside several binders that she had left before going to bed. Shouto blinks, flicking through one of the binders. Biology, he reads, skimming his eyes over Momo’s beautifully neat notes on what seemed to be DNA replication.

Not that Shouto knows the first thing about biology - he is never in class long enough to be a long term student. How can he, when he has no permanent identity?

Despite this, Shouto still enjoys going to lessons and always tries to note down what he can. He doesn’t know whether he can replicate the standard of Momo’s notes, however - but  he’ll try, at least.

Turning to the front of Momo’s planner, Shouto finds her timetable and runs his finger across it. Biology, Chemistry, a free period, and then maths. God, Shouto had landed in a person who is way more academically capable than he is. He just hopes that Momo didn’t expect him to do this sheet on - whatever formula that was.

After shoving all of the necessary binders and notes and Momo’s pencil case into her school bag, Shouto rushes downstairs, having enough time to cram half a slice of toast into his mouth and brush his teeth faster than the speed of light, before he hastily puts on some shoes and ran outside, locking the door behind him.

No sooner than he has, a brown cat streaked across his feet and into the cat flap. He makes a noise of surprise, but doesn’t have much time to wonder what’s happened before he’s waved over by a girl just passing Momo’s house.

“Hey.” He says, reaching the girl’s side. Jirou - he recognises her from Momo’s contacts.

“Woody’s as cowardly as ever, huh?” Jirou says, patting Shouto’s shoulder.

“W-w - oh, the cat.” Shouto saves himself, noticing how Jirou’s eyes flick to the catflap at her words, and Momo’s mom’s use of the plural ‘cats’ earlier. Woody must be the other cat that Momo owns. “Yeah. Silly animal.”

“Your hair looks nice.” Jirou says, eyes wide in delight as she paws at Shouto’s loose locks falling over his shoulders. “You should wear it like that more often.”

“Thanks.” Is all Shouto manages to get in edgeways before Jirou begins running ahead.

“C’mon, we’re gonna be late - I was texting you for ages.” Jirou says dramatically, grinning at him as she looks over her shoulder. “Mr Aizawa’s gonna have our heads -”

Shouto politely listens to Jirou’s chatter, and nods every now and then, but really, he can’t stop his thoughts from drifting. He recognises the mention of Mr Aizawa - Katsuki’s homeroom teacher. Momo must be in the same homeroom, and he silently thanks whatever higher power for that. He really doesn’t need to spend another hour aimlessly wandering the corridors looking for homeroom like he did yesterday.

Katsuki was the first time that Shouto had come across the famous UA academy. Now, luck seems to have hit him twice, because he’s headed off to the same school for the second time within two days. He tells himself it’s not because of what he did yesterday as Katsuki.

But he’d be lying to himself.

Jirou and Shouto rush into the homeroom and Shouto saves himself from more embarrassment by suddenly miraculously recalling where Momo sat from when he’d entered this room as Katsuki. Honestly, Shouto isn’t used to the idea of familiarity, since he’s always whisked out into a new life before he can ever settle somewhere.

“All right, so - uh -” Aizawa grunts, finally slouching into the room. “There are a few matters of business to attend to but - uh, I don’t care.”

Shouto raised his eyebrows somewhat, but doesn’t comment on it. He can’t help flicking his eyes to the two empty desks in front of him. There is no Katsuki. There is no Izuku.

“As you guys know, uh -” Aizawa coughs, his eyelids drooping as pure boredom rolls from his hunched gait. “Yaoyorozu’s still relatively new so uh -”

Shouto wasn’t expecting this - he didn’t know that Momo was a new student -

“Anyone in Yaoyorozu’s biology class?” Aizawa monotones, reading off a crumpled sheet of paper. “One of you has to be in her class -”

The door to the room slams open. Shouto’s heart thuds against his ribs.

“S-sorry, sensei -” The curly-haired boy swallows hard, looking rather dishevelled as he runs a shuddering hand through his hair.

“You’re in Yaoyorozu’s biology class, Midoriya?”

“Um-”

“Great. You can escort her.” Aizawa grunts, crumpling up the paper and tossing it over his shoulder.

“Okay, sir.” Izuku whispers, looking thoroughly defeated as he slumps down at his desk with drooping shoulders.

Shouto finds he can’t take his eyes off Izuku.

The bell rings, signalling the end of homeroom, and Shouto hastily gathers Momo’s bag and slings it over his shoulder. Izuku makes no effort to move as the other students begin erupting into chatter and  exiting the classroom to their first lessons. Shouto finally heaves in a breath, forces his shuddering heart rate right down, before leaning over and tapping Izuku on the shoulder.

“H- uh, hey, Yaoyorozu.” Izuku mutters, and Shouto blinks as he doesn’t move again.

“Sorry - I mean, I’ve got a biology class to go to.” He shuffles his feet. “I don’t know where it is.”

“Oh!” Izuku’s eyes widen suddenly and he flushes in embarrassment. “Oh my - I’m so sorry -”

“Hey, don’t worry about it.” Shouto says. “We all have off days, right?”

Izuku smiles back at him, but there’s no emotion behind those irises that Shouto had seen so full of wonder as they reflected the purple light of the jellyfish tank. The smile is forced, and Shouto doesn’t like that.

“Okay. I’ll take you there -” Izuku says, grunting as he stands up and grabs his bag.

Shouto follows him down the corridor, having to swallow every now and then because he doesn’t know how to speak to this boy. With Katsuki, it was different, but even then, Shouto had found that although he is practically a stranger to Izuku, he wants to know more about him.

He is about to open his mouth to say something before Izuku pushes past another crush of students, and indicates to the door. Shouto looks at it.

“Isn’t this your class too?” He asks, and Izuku looks surprised at the question.

“Um - yeah, but -” Izuku coughs again, before averting his gaze and rubbing at the back of his neck. “Not feeling it. Sorry.”

Shouto quirks an eyebrow. He’s about to say something about how Izuku already bunked off lessons yesterday, but Momo isn’t supposed to know that.

“Hey. I know you’re not having a good day, Midoriya.” Shouto says gently to him, Momo’s soft, gentle voice having a soothing effect on both himself and the green-haired boy. Izuku’s formal name feels foreign on his tongue after - He has to clear his throat before continuing. “We can talk about it over DNA helicase.” He offers, recalling one of the highlighted phrases on Momo’s notes.

Izuku lets loose a snort at that, and gives him a watery smile. “Hah - it’s really nothing - but I’ll give the DNA helicase a go.”

“Good choice.” Shouto forces some optimism into Momo’s voice. “Biology awaits.”

Perhaps about twenty minutes into the lesson with Shouto attempting to write down the biology notes with lightning speed, the door to the lab slams open and makes Shouto jump slightly. Izuku flinches, looking up at the door with wide, longing eyes, before turning his face down to his blank page.

Katsuki slouches into the room, shoulders hunched, hands jammed in pockets, lip curled and scowl etched upon his face. Shouto watched with wide eyes as the ash blonde spits something aggressive at one of the other students before plonking himself down on a seat at the back of the class.

“Nice of you to show your face, Bakugou.” The teacher growls, sarcasm dripping off her voice.

“Suck it, bitch.” Katsuki snarls, giving her the finger from the other side of the room.

“And that’s another week of detention, Mr Bakugou.” She shoots back without even flinching, but Katsuki simply scoffs and instead whips his phone out in the middle of the lesson without another word.

Shouto can feel his jaw dropping.

Izuku lets out a shuddering sigh, visibly cringing at Shouto’s shock. “That’s my boyfriend.”

“He’s your -”

“Boyfriend, yeah.” Izuku whispers, sounding like he’s about to cry.

You idiot. Shouto keeps telling himself. You stupid ignoramus, Shouto! What the fuck have you done?

He’s completely fucked this one up. Damn it! Damn it! Katsuki isn’t the wonderful, charming, sweet boyfriend that Shouto assumed to be his persona. Since when has Shouto ever messed up this badly?

The answer is never - at least, not since that first boy that Shouto lived as. He’s been so careful - what’s changed?

As much as he thinks about it, he can’t come up with an answer.

When the lesson ends, with Shouto physically unable to function because damn it - how could he have done this to Izuku? - when Katsuki approaches the desk where he and Izuku are sat packing up their notes.

“Hey, Kacchan.” Izuku says. His smile is forced. It’s making Shouto’s skin crawl.

“Fuckin’ Deku.” Katsuki scowls, his voice scraping at his throat. Izuku makes a noise. Shouto does not miss the tears beading in Izuku’s eyes.

“Hey.” Shouto says before his brain can catch up. “Mind not calling him that?”

Katsuki snaps his head around so fast Shouto can almost hear the bones in Katsuki’s neck click. He does not flinch or break eye contact as Katsuki’s face darkens like storm clouds.

“How about you mind your own fucking business, you bitch?” Katsuki’s voice is dangerously low.

“Don’t call me that.” Shouto growls. “And don’t call him Deku either - you’re making him uncomfortable.”

Izuku’s watching this unfold with horror in his eyes.

“What are you gonna fucking do about it?” Katsuki roars, slamming his hands on the table and towering over Shouto. “Fuckin’ squash me with your massive rack?”

Shouto narrows his eyes, his face set like stone. “Don’t tempt me.”

Katsuki is thunderous. He’s never been spoken to like that before, and Shouto can tell by the almost silent class watching the scene with wide eyes. One of them’s filming it as well, but Shouto couldn’t care less. Katsuki opens his mouth to roar something but Shouto makes a noise to stop him before any words come out, drawing his eyebrows together.

“No. Whatever you have to say is invalid if you treat your boyfriend like that.” Shouto spat, standing up and pushing his stool back from his movement. “He’s kind, intelligent, ambitious - heck, I could go on for hours and I’ve only known him for less than a day.” He jabbed Katsuki on the chest with a finger. “How dare you just say things like that to him when you’re childhood friends?”

“She’s dead. She’s gonna die.” He heard one of the other pupils whisper as Katsuki drew himself back.

“You wouldn’t dare.” Shouto hissed, scowling right back at him. “Try it.”

He is prepared for a fist to collide with his jaw and is silently cursing and praying for Katsuki not to because fuck - he’s done it again and put Momo at risk because of his own selfish desires. God, he should have just stayed quiet -

But somehow, when Shouto saw those events unravel in front of him, with Katsuki swearing and being so vile to an innocent person who didn’t deserve it - he felt like he didn’t have any other option but to say something.

Just like he had that night he’d woken up in an unfamiliar body that wasn’t his own.

Katsuki makes a roaring noise, his fist trembling by his side, before he spits at Shouto’s shoes and left, slamming the door behind him. There’s silence for a few seconds. Shouto exhales shakily, running his hand through Momo’s long hair.

“I thought I was going to witness murder.” Someone says, and Shouto ignores them, turning back to Izuku.

“Sorry about that.” Shouto says to the other, who looks torn, with wide, tearful eyes and emotions battling behind his irises.

“S’kay.” Is all Izuku says before he whirls out of the door.

Shouto does not feel as fulfilled as he thought he would be.

He feels empty, because he has only made things worse.

He exhales again, and goes to his next lesson.

The pit in his stomach yawns wider than the tiger shark’s mouth when he and Izuku had stood in front of that tank, where the two of them had experienced forever in a single moment.

 

-

 

Katsuki is leaning on one of the cars in the car park.

He’s smoking.

Izuku watches him for a few seconds, before whirling around and disappearing without looking back.

Chapter Text

Yesterday

“This fucking sucks - I can’t believe this - stupid bastard.” Katsuki snaps, kicking at the ground again. Ochako is sitting next to Izuku and nudges his foot with hers sympathetically, letting him know that she’s here.

“What?” Izuku says to him, unable to stop his thoughts from whirling back to the biology lesson.

“Coach just fucking yelled at me for skipping practice yesterday.” Comes the short reply as Katsuki glares at him.

“We missed lessons to go to the town centre, remember?” Izuku says, his voice trembling slightly because he knows what the answer is going to be.

“Just - I mean, I don’t know what fucking happened, but -” Katsuki mumbles, glancing down at the ground as a hand flits to his forehead. “I’ve got, like - two fucking papers due tomorrow and I’ve got the bitch-ass six ‘til ten shift tonight - and I can’t fucking remember yesterday -”

Izuku’s heart slowly judders to a stop in his chest.

“What do you mean - you said it was -” His voice is juddering. “You said it was the best day of your life.”

“Did we drink yesterday?” Katsuki grunts, poking his fingers into his temples as if that’ll revive his memories. “I don’t  - fuck, Deku - it’s all hazy, like I’m hungover, or something.”

Are you? Izuku wants to say, but he’s afraid that if he does, then he’ll cry.

“Okay - so you had an amazing day with your wonderful, intelligent boyfriend - and to you, that sucks?” Yaoyorozu shoots across from the other end of the room. Katsuki looks ready to strangle her.

Izuku gazes at her with horror on his face because - shit - why is she defending him? Again? For the second time today?

Katsuki opens his mouth to yell something probably abusive and sexist at her, but she shuts him down again before he can even speak.

“No - I don’t know how many times I need to say this, but why are you bitching and complaining about the only good thing in your life?”

“Yaoyorozu!” Izuku gapes, at her, and she looks at him with her eyebrows drawn together as Katsuki glares and splutters in fury. “Please - just - calm down, it’s fine -”

The whole class has quieted and are watching in awe at the second Yaoyorozu versus Katsuki match of the day and are muttering quietly to each other. Izuku’s shocked when the girl looks at him with wide eyes, before casting her gaze away and focusing on fiddling with something in her pencil case.

“Whore.” Katsuki spits, before turning back to Izuku. “If she shows up at Jirou’s party tomorrow night I’ll fucking mur -”

“What?” Izuku manages to get out, but Katsuki makes another grunting noise before leaving the room as the bell rings, indicating the beginning of the lesson. Katsuki doesn’t take maths, and he lets everyone know it as he spits a couple of ‘fucking nerds’ around the class and kicks over the waste paper bin before vanishing.

“I’m sorry.” Yaoyorozu says to him when Katsuki is out of earshot. “I -” She’s scrambling around for words as an embarrassed flush creeps onto her face. “I’m just - allergic to unappreciative assholes-”

“That’s not who he is!” He growls, fixing his gaze on the desk as his fingers tightening around the papers in his hands cause them to crumple.

“I’m sorry -” She apologises to him, before gazing at him with wide, dark eyes. “You just - you deserve so much better.”

Izuku can only look at her as she gazes at the desk and brushes away a stray lock of hair from her face that’s wandering over her right eye. His heart cracks and he can feel a cry of despair edging up his throat.

“A-actually -” He clears his throat as if that will stop his voice cracking, and begins sweeping all his stuff back into his bag in order to make a hasty exit. “I don’t feel well - Ochako, can you look after Yaoyorozu for the rest of the day -”

“Sure.” Ochako says, concern etching onto her face, but Izuku whirls around and leaves the room before anyone else can get a word in edgeways.

Izuku lies wide awake that night. His thoughts won’t rest, and until they calm down, neither will he. He sighs and rolls over onto his right side, barely staying in that position before rolling onto his front, then onto his back, and then finally settling back on his right side with his legs tucked up against his chest so he is curled up in a fetal position.

He thinks about Katsuki on that evening they had walked down the promenade lining the beach as the sun turned the sand copper and the sea into molten gold. He thinks about how they sat in Katsuki’s car outside Izuku’s house, and how Katsuki had gently hummed the tune of the slow, eighties song playing on the radio of their car as Izuku quietly sang the lyrics, and kissing as the outro of the song faded out.

“See you tomorrow, Katsuki.” He recalls saying to him after their lips had broken apart and their faces were so close together they were barely together.

Izuku remembers how silent Katsuki was after that, averting his gaze as if he was trying to avoid Izuku’s eyes, before he suddenly lifted up his face and gazed at Izuku with wide eyes - and Izuku thinks with a jolt about how torn and suddenly vulnerable Katsuki looked at him.

“You know every day won’t be like this, right?” Katsuki had said.

Now Izuku remembers these words, and the raw emotion in Katsuki’s voice as he said them, and his skin suddenly feels cold. He presses his fingers to his cheeks as he exhales again, feeling his own pulse through his fingertips. He had dismissed those words as Katsuki just being, well - unpredictable and strange and just Katsuki - but the accuracy of Katsuki’s prediction, like he’d known all along that he’d string Izuku along like this and make him fall in love for the second time and then the second Izuku thinks he’s changed - the old Katsuki is back, crushing that beautiful new one underneath his heel.

“I know.” He’d said to Katsuki, and recalling the optimism mixed with slight disbelief that Izuku had said those words in made him sigh again, warm air rushing past his hands. “But maybe today helped you remember that you like spending time with me.”

From the look in Katsuki’s eyes, Izuku had foolishly believed that Katsuki agreed with him. Katsuki had looked so utterly confused and torn and conflicted as he’d opened his mouth and began saying: “Look - what I mean is - today -”

And now Izuku was kicking himself, because he’d interrupted Katsuki before he was finished. So determined was he to stop Katsuki before he ruined the end of such a wonderful day - that Katsuki may have been telling Izuku what was really happening, and now Izuku would never know.

“Today was one of the best days I’ve ever had in a long time.” He’d repeated his words from before on the beach. “Tomorrow is tomorrow. Let’s end today on a nice note.”

And Katsuki was silent again. Now, Izuku wishes that he’d read Katsuki better and listened to him because goddamn it, he knows that the Katsuki he really loves is gone and there’s nothing he can do about it except hope and pray that one day, he’ll come back to him.

“Okay.” Katsuki had said, and then they’d kissed again, and Izuku had gotten out of the car and waved to him before entering his house.

And little had he known that that goodbye, was, in a way, goodbye to something he’d had for such a short time, but now craved for and hoped for and cried for.

“Where are you, Katsuki?” He says to his ceiling, even though deep down he knows the answer.

And the thoughts don’t stop there. Izuku thinks about those soft words they’d exchanged and that emotion and soft, gentle adoration flickering in Katsuki’s eyes only to be replaced with that cold, hard scowl as that foul, choking cancer-smoke leaks from his lips as he takes another drag on those smouldering cigarettes he always carries in the breast pocket of his blazer. Izuku recalls that burrowing pain that curled up in his stomach and scratching at his own insides as he watched that Katsuki puff grey clouds from his lungs and taint the very air with it and blacken his insides with it. And for a second, Izuku despises that old Katsuki for letting him believe all those promises were true - but then he remembers that Katsuki hadn’t promised him anything.

“Every day won’t be like this.” Katsuki whispers to him, his soft voice and wide, pained eyes gazing up at him, and Izuku bites his lip hard enough for it to hurt.

“I hate you.” He whispers, but it’s more of a half-lie. He hates this old Katsuki that smokes and saunters around like he owns the place and swears at teachers and never turns up at detention and threatens the new girl and spits on her shoes when she’s doing what Izuku should have done a long time ago -

He doesn’t dislike Yaoyorozu for what she’s done, but Izuku’s still angry with her, because Katsuki’s his boyfriend, goddamnit, and he should be able to deal with this.

But as tears well up again and begin rolling down his face in tiny jewels, Izuku knows that he can’t deal with anything, just like his father, who ran away from them both because he ‘couldn’t manage’.

A lorry drives past his window and causes the shadows to swim across his ceiling like tiny fish. One of the bigger ones looks like a shark.

Izuku rolls over again, and sobs.

 

-

 

Shouto’s eyes snap open, and even in the reduced light, there’s so much pink it’s blinding him. He inhales and sits up, blinking rapidly as he glances around for a phone. Locating one on the bedside table, he snatches it and unlocks it, opening up the map function, squinting his crusty eyelids as the the light of the screen shoots into his brain.

There’s no UA uniform crumpled in a heap at the end of his bed. He can’t help feeling disappointed, but he’s got something else he needs to focus on first. If Katsuki is going to Jirou’s party, then he knows Izuku will be going too. Hopefully.

He can’t stop thinking about how mortified Izuku was at him. He has to stop - he’s no longer Yaoyorozu. He’s fucked up - twice now, in one day -  but Shouto’s lucky in one aspect - he’s been reincarnated as a new person, and he’s got a fresh start. And he’s going to make the most of it.

Shouto hates parties. But Mina loves them, and he can tell from her room and how crammed her camera roll is.

“Jirou…” He whispers, tapping in the address from Momo’s contacts and praying to above that he’s remembered it right.

The route is calculated by the phone, and Shouto gawks at it. It’ll take at least half an hour to drive to UA from here - and an additional ten minutes to get to Jirou’s address for the party. He just prays that Mina has a car - and that she’s invited to it, as well.

“Okay.” He says to himself, and tells Siri to set an alarm for eleven p.m. and another at eleven-fifty p.m. The swap happens at exactly midnight, and Shouto must make sure he’s got the person he’s inhabiting back home so that they’re safe when he’s gone.

It’s just a party. He’s been to them before, and he’ll be fine.

It’s Saturday. No school. Shouto kicks off Mina’s covers and sits up, turning on the light. The sheer pinkness of Mina’s room increases tenfold and he inhales through his teeth, rubbing at his eyes again.

“Hey, baby!” The door slams open, revealing what Shouto immediately recognises as the man in the photograph on Mina’s desk. The two are obviously shrieking with laughter, with ice cream smeared on their faces as Mina lunges for her father’s face with her ice cream cone. Shouto observies instantly that they’ve got a very close-knit, loud relationship and mess around a lot. He internally sighs, knowing that normally these types of personalities drain him, but he’s going to try anyway.

“Morning, Dad!” Shouto forces excitement into his voice and springs to his feet, wrapping his arms around the larger man as he embraces him in a bear hug and squeezes him tightly. Shouto squeals, Mina’s voice reaching a high pitch as Mina’s father puts him down and plants a kiss on his skull.

“Got any plans tonight?” Mina’s father says to him, ruffling Shouto’s hair.

He scoffs, flapping a hand. “Is that even a question? It's Saturday; of course there's gonna be a party.”

“That’s my girl!” He roars, hugging Shouto again. Shouto hates all this touchy-feely type way that these two seem to communicate with, but he’s just got to live with it. One day. That’s all. “You’re going to worry your father to death with all those parties - I keep telling him that he’ll have absolutely no hair within a day if he keeps obsessing -”

Father? Oh crap - Shouto begins to panic that he’s fucked up - again - is this not Mina’s dad? Maybe a brother - but he’s way too old -  when he finally puts two and two together as he focuses more on the photographs around the room.

Oh. He realises, but he manages to get back into character before Mina’s dad notices.

“He needs to chill. Let the party gal do her thing.” He says with a grin, and Mina’s dad ruffles his hair again as he heads outside and down the stairs.

There’s hot breakfast being cooked downstairs. Shouto reaches for Mina’s dressing gown, which is pink, of course, and puts it on as he follows Mina’s father out of her room. He forces relaxation and annoying joy into his stride, skipping slightly and flops into a chair at the dining table like he owns the place. Which - he adds to himself - seems to be the case with Mina. She rules this house, and everyone knows it.

“Morning, Dad 2.0!” He calls to Mina’s other father, who has his back to him. He’s leaner and shorter than his husband, and obviously has his natural brown colour of hair, as opposed to both Mina and her other father’s bright, dyed hair. Shouto recalls noticing the name of “Dad 2.0” under the dual ‘Dad’ contacts, and kicks himself for not noticing earlier.

“I keep telling you to not call me that.” He groans, dramatically sagging his shoulders as he flips the pancake in the pan over. Shouto internally rejoices for guessing right. Fitting into families with the limited information he has about them is always difficult, but when he’s correct about things, he can’t help feeling good about it. It’s become easier to him as the years of swapping and being a different person every day drag out.

Shouto laughs, Mina’s voice ringing out. He watches as Mina’s father - the one who’d entered her room earlier - approaches his husband and says something Shouto doesn’t catch, before they kiss quickly. Shouto averts his gaze - and not because he feels uncomfortable about it, or that he dislikes it - he certainly didn’t feel that way when he was kissing Izuku. He flushes before he can stop himself, taking a sip of water to cool himself down. He tries to stop thinking about it, and fails miserably.

“Okie dokie - the practice is going to be super busy today, so I’m gonna skedaddle.” Mina’s father at the counter says, dropping the spatula into his husband’s hands. “Sorry I’m not staying for breakfast  - and you -” He jabs a finger into his husband’s chest. “Burn the house down, and you will feel my wrath.”

“Fine! I’ll have cereal!” He says back, brandishing the spatula at him in self defence.

“I’ll keep an eye on him.” Shouto manages to say, winking at him. He blows a kiss at both of them before Shouto hears him shuffling around in the hallway, yelling something about his husband moving the keys from where he normally keeps them, and the door shuts.

Shouto waves him away from the window as his car pulls out, before turning back to Mina’s other father, who’s waving as well. There’s black smoke pouring from the pan, and Shouto’s eyes widen in shock - Mina’s father hasn’t noticed yet.

“Dad! The pan!” Shouto screeches, and he yells too, turning the gas off as the smoke alarms go off.

Shouto honestly finds the whole situation incredibly stupid, but slightly amusing as well. Mina’s extroverted personality is rubbing off on him as laughs bubble in his chest watching Mina’s dad shriek and smother the burning pancake with a tea towel.

They then spend the next few minutes hiding the evidence and flapping all the smoke out of the windows with chopping boards. Mina’s father is sweating and he wipes at his forehead as he looks at the previously edible pancake, which is shrivelled to a black crisp and glued all over the pan.

“Damn it!” He wails dramatically, and Shouto pats him sympathetically on the shoulder.

“Cereal for both of us, huh?” Shouto says.

The day goes by painfully slowly. Shouto is practically on his knees for seven o’clock to roll around so he can get ready for the party, but realises pretty soon that Mina is the type of girl who hoards clothes - and a lot of them - and Shouto’s under a lot of pressure to make sure he gets her outfit right. Luckily, Mina’s father seems to know this, and spends a lot of time rummaging through her wardrobe mumbling to himself about what’s on trend at the moment. Shouto’s slightly skeptical that Mina’s knowledge on fashion is actually accurate - but he’s surprised when he makes several choices and keeps mixing and matching clothes to make sure everything flows.

“This is good.” Mina’s father finally deems her clothes acceptable as he stands back and looks at Shouto.

“Great!” Shouto says, and he agrees with Mina’s father. After dressing in both genders for years, Shouto can do it well, because he knows how important clothes are as a status and personality symbol.

He puts on Mina’s makeup and makes sure he draws flawless wings on her eyes, before glancing at the time. It’s seven thirty, and the party officially starts at eight. He’ll be a little late because of how far away Jirou’s house is, but he isn’t worried.

“If you’re driving there then make sure you ring me so I can pick you up if you’re wasted.” Mina’s dad says from the living room, and he sounds so chilled about it Shouto’s honestly shocked. Most parents never act like this when he goes to parties, but the general rules and concern is there anyway. “Got any condoms?”

“Wasn’t planning on doing that.” Shouto says truthfully, a little bit of mortification edging into his voice.

“Wasn’t planning on marrying your idiot of a father, yet here we are.” Mina’s other dad says from upstairs, and Shouto squeals in horror at that.

“O-kay! I’ll be going then! I’ll be back before midnight.” Shouto squeaks, rushing for the door.

“You sure? Curfew’s 1am on weekends -” Mina’s dad begins saying, but Shouto shakes his head rapidly before he can continue.

“It’s not that great a party anyway -” Lies - Shouto’s heard from his short time at UA that Jirou’s parties are legendary, but legendary parties won’t stop his consciousness from leaving Mina’s body at midnight.

“Don’t take drugs!” Mina’s other father yells from upstairs, and Shouto rolls his eyes before shutting the door.

Thank God, Mina has her own car. At least this way Shouto can control where and when he can go to make the transition smooth for both him and Mina. The car is pink as well. No surprises there. Shouto clicks the keys and unlocks it, and puts the phone with the map on the dashboard so that he can get to Jirou’s house without any problems.

He gets to Jirou’s house fine, and party music and bright lights are already pulsing from inside the house. Shouto swallows hard and tucks the phone back into the pocket of Mina’s jacket. No drinking, no drugs, no fighting, and no sex, and he’ll be absolutely fine.

Keep calm. Keep calm.

He enters the house and takes in his surroundings. The music is loud and thrumming from thousands of enormous stereos and the lights are blinding and sure to induce at least one epileptic fit. There’s a couple snogging on the stairs, and a group of lads playing drinking games with plastic cups and ping pong balls in the kitchen, where every now and then there will be simultaneous roars as a player downs a shot.

There are people dancing in the centre of the room and Jirou is DJing, occasionally whipping out her electric guitar and spitting out freestyle guitar solos, causing people to shriek and whoop in excitement. It’s fun, and Shouto can’t help smiling as he politely holds a plastic red cup to stop people offering him drinks, but a pang of disappointment still runs through him. He can’t see Katsuki here, and he can’t see Izuku here either. He sighs, glancing at his phone. It’s gone ten p.m, and he is absolutely not going to stay longer than eleven.

He lets the music run through Mina’s body and dances, twirling and grinning because he’s certain Mina would be absolutely disappointed to miss this party, so he’s going to enjoy it for her. He finishes his 360 turn and widens his eyes to see Izuku wandering into the house. He’s dressed in ripped skinny jeans and a denim jacket and looks utterly lost. Shouto ignores his heart spluttering in his chest and continues to casually dance but keeping an eye on the green-haired boy.

Izuku watches Katsuki move past him into the room of lads playing beer pong and they all whoop and cheer when he goes in and Katsuki’s grinning and exchanging hand slaps. Shouto does another turn and when he’s facing the other way, Izuku’s gone. He stops, eyes widening in surprise, but when the music changes from pulsing party music to a slower, eighties song, Shouto almost forgets how to breathe.

It’s the song. Their song - the song that had been playing in the car before Shouto had said goodbye to Izuku as Katsuki.

Izuku’s turned around from where he’s stood in front of where Jirou’s DJing, and his eyes are shining - there’s hope in his eyes as he turns back to where Katsuki’s playing beer pong. There’s no response from the Katsuki to the music, and although Shouto knows exactly why, seeing Izuku sag and look on the verge of tears.

There are a few people singing along to the familiar tune, and it hurts seeing Izuku looking so sad and confused when only 48 hours ago, those same eyes had been full of joy as he’d hummed that self-same tune with Shouto.

“‘Mother Nature isn’t in it, three hundred million years,’” Shouto begins singing, Mina’s smooth voice making the words flow like honey. Izuku looks up and looks surprised seeing Shouto dancing and singing to the tune.

He watches Shouto, hands by his side as Shouto keeps singing the verse. “‘Goodbye in just a minute, gone forever, no more tears,’” Shouto sings, edging closer to Izuku. He’s smiling slightly, happiness flickering in his gaze past the grief at seeing someone - even it it’s not Katsuki - responding to a song that Shouto knows means a lot to him.

The lyrics cause a pang in his chest, but Shouto keeps singing despite it. It doesn’t matter if it’s embarrassing - he’s not Shouto, he’s Mina, and Mina adores singing. And it’s catching. Izuku’s lips part and his voice joins Shouto’s.

“‘Pinball man, power glutton, vacuum inside his head,’” Izuku’s voice is slightly quiet, and Shouto’s smiling and singing the same words as Izuku begins dancing slowly. “‘Forefinger on the button, is he blue or is he red?’”

Their voices become louder as Shouto dances with Izuku and Shouto smiles as his heart rams against his ribcage like a bull. Izuku’s finally genuinely smiling, and they’re both erupting into song as they finish the end of the verse. “‘Break your silence if you would, before the sun goes down for good.’”

Shouto hold out a hand and Izuku takes it so he can twirl Shouto around and it’s so stupidly cheesy but Izuku’s finally grinning and laughing as Shouto dances with him on the crammed dance floor and they start singing the chorus together with the rest of the people dancing.

“‘I won’t let the sun go down on me, I won’t let the sun go down!’” Shouto smiles at Izuku and he grins back. “‘I won’t let the sun go down on me, I won’t let the sun go down!’”

“Do I know you?” He asks Shouto with a breathless laugh as the song ends, and he flourishes, holding out his hand for Izuku to shake.

“Mina Ashido, at your service.” Shouto says, and Izuku’s cheeks are flushed from dancing and he looks genuinely happy since - Shouto swallows  - since Katsuki.

“Do you go to UA?” Izuku asks him, and Shouto nods.

“No.” Shouto says, and Izuku looks confused - because the party’s full of UA students - and Shouto internally panicks. In the corner of his eye, Shouto sees Jirou and before he can stop himself, he says “I’m Jirou’s cousin.”

“Really?” Izuku says, and before he can say anything else, Shouto’s skin crawls and he can already feel Katsuki appearing behind Izuku. “I’m Izuku Midoriya.”

“Hey, babe - who’s this?” Katsuki says, and it’s pretty obvious what he’s saying to Shouto.

Keep your hands off. He’s mine.

“Jirou’s cousin.” Izuku says, but Katsuki still looks suspicious and ready to become quite aggressive.

“Jirou’s - uh - lesbian cousin.” Shouto blurts before he can change his mind. Katsuki looks surprised at this information, but more relieved than anything else.

“Uh. Okay.” Katsuki says, and Shouto smiles at him.

“You don’t have anything to worry about.” Shouto says, before pointing to Ochako, who’s cheering and yelling with Katsuki’s friends who are still playing drinking games. “But your cute friend might.” He adds with a wink.

Izuku glances behind him and sees Ochako, and giggles at that. Katsuki looks uncomfortable and squeezes Izuku’s shoulder.

“See you upstairs.” He says to Izuku, before leaving without waiting for a reply. Izuku’s the one who looks uncomfortable now.

Shouto leans in next to Izuku to whisper to him once Katsuki’s out of earshot. “Want to go somewhere that isn’t upstairs?”

Izuku’s face crumples in relief. “Yeah.”

They end up in the treehouse at the end of Jirou’s garden that’s deserted. Shouto draws his knees up to his chest as the two of them sit there and softly laugh, the cold night air causing their breathing to frost and cloud in white puffs. It’s taking all of Shouto’s willpower not to say or do something stupid in front of him. He’s messed this boy’s life up enough.

“Does your boyfriend not like singing?” Shouto asks Izuku, and Izuku looks surprised at the question.

“Not today, apparently.” Izuku says mournfully, and Shouto knows he’s talking about the song, and the two of them gently singing the chorus together in the car before they’d said goodbye.

“And - why did he want you to go upstairs when you didn’t want to?” Shouto asks him, and Izuku sighs again, casting his gaze down to his knees.

“I don’t know.” Izuku whispers at the ground.

“Then -” Shouto pauses, knowing he’s treading on dangerous ground. “Why are you with him?”

Izuku snapped his head up, eyes wide in shock. “Um - uh - b-because we love each other.” He stuttered, and Shouto can see that Izuku’s emotions are battling violently behind his eyes. “And -” Izuku sighs again. “Some days are -” He looks up at the sky mournfully. “Some days are really good with him.”

Shouto raises an eyebrow. Izuku looks back at him, slightly panicked. “I guess - I -I guess - I have a type?”

Shouto can tell Mina loves matchmaking and talking about this kind of stuff, so he leans forward. “What’s your type?” He says in a low voice with mischief on his face.

Izuku’s obviously startled by the question but is smiling now. “U- uh - um - well, uh -” He’s blushing furiously as he scratches at the back of his neck, and Shouto thinks it’s adorable. “Um - tall. Slim. Broad shoulders -”

Shouto can’t help looking at him skeptically. Izuku notices and starts snickering, and Shouto snorts, turning his head around as he laughs. Mina’s laugh is pretty - lots of peals of short giggles until the two of them are laughing loudly.

“W-what’s wrong with shoulders?” Izuku protests, and Shouto covers his mouth as if to stop the laughter coming out.

“I d-dunno - I guess, I’m more of a boobs person myself.” He says with a laugh, remembering his lie earlier. Izuku grins, his hair slightly dishevelled as he runs his hand through it.

There’s silence as their laughs gently fade out, and Shouto watches Izuku with wide eyes and forces himself not to collapse and die as Izuku reaches out and brushes a loose lock of Mina’s pink hair from where it’s fallen over Shouto’s eye. Neither of them are breathing as they gaze at each other.

And then the horrific, jingling, anxiety-inducing chime of Mina’s phone alarm cuts through the air and Shouto feels his heart rate spike, whipping the phone out to see that it’s eleven p.m. Time to go  - now - he should be on the road by now, and he’s never felt so torn - this moment is perfect and he wishes he could stay there forever -

“I - I’m sorry, I’ve got to go.” Shouto stutters, standing up hastily.

Izuku looks up at him in shock. “Wait - can’t you stay?”

“No - no, I’m sorry.” He splurges out, but before he can react, Izuku’s taken his phone and is tapping out a message.

“Let me just text myself your number -” Izuku says, and Shouto begins panicking for real this time because oh God - Izuku wants his number but this isn’t his number this is Mina’s number and fuck - he needs to go -

“Y-you don’t want this number!” He yelps, snatching the phone back from Izuku. “I-I’m changing my number. Like - tomorrow - I’m changing it.”

It’s Izuku’s turn to frown. “You’re changing your -”

And then to make things a million times worse, there’s a yell from an upstairs window and they both turn in horror to see Katsuki leaning out of it and shrieking in fury.

“Jirou doesn’t have a fucking cousin!” He screamed across the garden.

Time to go now - for real - because Katsuki’s had way too much to drink and Shouto knows he’s got to get out of here. He crouches out of the tree house and leaps down, bending his knees to absorb the impact and trying his best to ignore the yells of Izuku asking where he’s going, and legs it. The sound of Katsuki shrieking and fighting his way through the crammed porch is making his heart race and he fumbles around for Mina’s car keys as he runs.

“Katsuki!! Stop!” He hears Izuku shriek and knows the blonde is chasing him down the road, and luckily Shouto manages to get into the car and slam his foot down on the accelerator without doing his seatbelt up and shooting down the road at about fifty miles over the speed limit.

There’s a shattering noise as his back windscreen cracks in a cobweb as Katsuki throws a stone at the car as he drives away, but as soon as he’s well away from the house, he finally breathes and plugs in the seatbelt. He can’t focus on the fact that Mina’s car has been damaged.

It’s eleven forty two p.m.

He’s got less than twenty minutes to make a forty minute journey back to Mina’s house.

 

-

 

“Katsuki! What the fuck is wrong with you?” Izuku demands, whirling around to the ash blonde as he breathes heavily, watching the pink car disappear into the darkness.

“No girl touches my boyfriend, lesbian or not.” Katsuki snarls, spitting on the ground before vanishing again.

Izuku sighs, and stares at the space where the pink car had vanished into the night, and wonders why his vision is becoming blurred.

Chapter Text

When Izuku’s in school the next day, he sees Katsuki and his friends huddled around in the corridor, obviously watching something on Katsuki’s phone. Izuku approaches them carefully, peeking over Katsuki’s shoulder to see what he’s looking at.

“What’s this?” He asks, squinting at the news report Katsuki’s scrolling through.

Kirishima shrugs. “Remember that girl you were talking with on Saturday? At Jirou’s party?”

Izuku feels a strange coil in his stomach at the mention of Ashido - mainly because he can’t gather his thoughts about that strange girl in his head together.

“Yeah.” He says, and inhales sharply when Katsuki’s thumb hovers over an image in the article.

The bright, bubblegum pink car pictured is the one that Ashido drove off in - and at first, Izuku wants to pretend it’s completely a coincidence - but the shattered back windscreen eliminates any further doubts.

“‘The girl was found passed out in her car at three a.m. the next morning on the side of the main road, and claims she has no memory of how she got there. The car showed no evidence of a road collision, and the investigation into the girl’s previous disappearance is still being investigated.’” Katsuki reads aloud, his finger hovering above the words. Izuku’s heart stops for a second as Katsuki shrugs, scowling at the screen. “Told you she was a crazy bitch.”

Kirishima exchanges a glance with Kaminari, who’s looking rather uncomfortable about the situation and hasn’t spoken yet.

“I dunno, bro -” Kirishima says. “It was super unmanly of us to chase her out of the house like that - even if we all had had too much to drink.”

“She didn’t seem bad.” Kaminari says, but quickly shuts his mouth when Katsuki’s fingers tighten around his phone and he shoves it back into his pocket with one aggressive move.

“Why were you talking with her?” Katsuki suddenly demands, ignoring Kaminari and Kirishima and turning to glare at Izuku. He takes a step back by default, putting his hands up slightly in defence.

Izuku wants to yell at him that it was because Ashido was showing him more kindness and was actually treating him like he wasn’t invisible, unlike Katsuki - but Katsuki’s already pissed off enough and Izuku really doesn’t want to deal with another bout of angry yelling.

Anyway, the situation’s strange enough already. He can’t shake off the feeling that somehow, Ashido’s completely strange behaviour and the incident in the article are connected. Izuku’s getting a horrible tingle of deja vu down his spine and he doesn’t know why - he wishes Ashido had just let him have her number so he could ask her why - why was she at that party when she wasn’t invited? Why did she lie to him about being Jirou’s cousin? Why did she have an alarm at half eleven last night? Was there somewhere she needed to be? And why didn’t she want Izuku’s number?

“I - don’t know.” Izuku says lamely, and Katsuki snorts.

It’s kind of the truth as well. Izuku doesn’t know why he was drawn to Ashido as she sang that song in her soft voice and smiled softly at Izuku when they sat in that fairy-light decorated treehouse and simply talked. Izuku hadn’t realised how much he missed casual conversation like that.

And yet, there was more… something he can’t put his finger on. Izuku definitely wasn’t physically attracted to Ashido - no way. But there was something underneath that that still - and Izuku can’t find a better name for it than ‘something’. Izuku still doesn’t know what overcame him when he reached up and brushed Ashido’s hair out of her face - it was like he’d been possessed by someone else - and those raw emotions in Ashido’s eyes that he couldn't read haunted him.

Kirishima says something that Izuku doesn’t catch, and it snaps him out of whatever confused haze that’s washed over him.

“Okay - well, as long as it doesn’t fucking happen again.” Katsuki growls, and Izuku simply shrugs in response, not wanting to say anymore.

The bell goes, and the group breaks apart.

Izuku’s going to biology. Kaminari’s going to English. Kirishima’s going to football practice.

Katsuki’s going for a smoke.

Izuku cannot focus on the lesson. He pinches the back of hand as if that will help, and as the teacher tells the students to set up for the practical part of the lesson, he notices Yaoyorozu sifting through a tray of glass flasks. She looks distant; confused - Izuku’s startled by this. She doesn’t look like the same fiery girl who put Katsuki in his place not once, but twice - she looks blank as she wipes a finger around the rim of the flask to clear away dirt that isn’t there.

“Hey, Yaoyorozu?” Izuku starts carefully, approaching her and casually taking some flasks from the tray as she turns to look at him.

“Hm? Yes -  Midoriya, is it?” Yaoyorozu says to him, and Izuku’s slightly shocked by the fact she seems to be struggling to even recall his name. He decides to ignore it - she’s a new student, she won’t know everyone’s name by now.

“Yeah - um - I just wanted to ask you something.” Izuku says, exhaling sharply to calm himself down. “When - when you were standing up to Katsuki - last week, before the weekend - you mentioned that - Katsuki shouldn’t treat me like that because we were ‘childhood friends’.” Izuku looks up at her. “How did you know we were childhood friends?”

Yaoyorozu sighs, averting her gaze as a hand flits to her forehead, like there’s a migraine gathering there. “To be honest, Midoriya - I’d be completely lying if I said I remembered that day.” She swallows, the flasks in her other hand clinking as she adjusts her grip on them. “I mean - people were congratulating me and showing me videos of me being completely - just - completely destroying Bakugou and to be honest -” Yaoyorozu turns to him, her eyes flicking to her shoes. “I never would have done that normally - I’m in a new environment with new people and I’ve been so totally nervous that I wouldn’t have dared to say stuff like that to someone I obviously wouldn’t win in a fight with.”

“I - I guess that makes sense.” Izuku stutters, eyes wide in sudden shock. “Wait - did you say you couldn’t remember it? At all?”

“No - well, I guess I can remember fragments of it - like, um - threatening him to squash him with my boobs, but it’s like someone’s vacuumed my brain and sucked most of that day’s memories out of my head.” Yaoyorozu laughs dryly, looking slightly embarrassed past her obvious confusion. “It’s stupid - usually my memory’s really good -”

“Hey, don’t worry about it.” Izuku says, but in reality he wants to grab her by the shoulders and shake her and yell at her ‘What do you mean?! How have you forgotten it?!’ but Yaoyorozu’s much taller than him and he’s still slightly wary that she could absolutely beat him and his weak, skinny body in a fight if it came to it. “Thanks again for doing it.”

“Sure.” Yaoyorozu says, smiling at him, but it looks physically painful because of how much blankness there is in her irises. Izuku nods back and takes the flasks back to his desk, but if anything, the conversation with her has failed to answer any questions whatsoever - if anything, it’s only made more of them.

When Izuku’s heading down to the cafeteria with Ochako, his phone buzzes and he takes it out to see a text from an unknown number. He raises his eyebrows as he unlocks his phone, and stops in the corridor to read them.

 

>>Unknown: Hey Midoriya, I’m really sorry for running off like that - it took me two days to cough up the courage to message you

>>Unknown:  Can we meet after school?

 

Ochako clicks her tongue as she looks over Izuku’s shoulder. “That’s so freaking creepy - do you know who that is?”

Izuku gazes at the texts, reading them over and over again. “I think I have an idea.”

 

>Me: Is this Ashido?

 

The text is read almost immediately and the owner of the number starts tapping out a reply almost immediately. Izuku finds his breathing coming to him short as he waits for the message to pop up on his screen.

 

>>Unknown: Yes, sort of. Well, this isn’t my phone.

 

Izuku raises his eyebrows at the strange message but replies anyway.

 

>Me: Still waiting on that new number?

>> Unknown: Yeah. Are you up for meeting alone? I’ll tell you everything, I promise

 

Izuku looks up at Ochako. “Should I?”

Ochako grins at him with an excited squeal. “C’mon, this is the coolest, creepiest thing that’s ever happened to you. I’ll be so angry if you don’t -”

Ochako keeps chattering, but Izuku smiles down at the screen and begins typing again. It wouldn’t have mattered what Ochako had said; Izuku knows that regardless of Ochako’s response, he wouldn’t have been able to resist meeting Ashido again, despite how strange the messages are.

 

>Me: Do you know the bookshop on the other side of town? Next to the pet shop?

>>Unknown: Yeah. I think I can get there - is 5p.m. today alright?

>Me: sure, see you then

 

Ochako sighs, patting Izuku on the back. “Good luck - I sure as heck am not going with you.”

Izuku snorts, putting the phone back in his pocket. “You sure? She was hitting on you at that party.”

Ochako gawks. “Oh God, I really hope that was before I destroyed Kaminari at beer pong.”

Izuku laughs at the horrified look on her face and at her further comments on how she thinks that she looks like a troll when she’s drunk, but his thoughts are drifting again. Really, he can’t stop thinking about - well, a lot of things. Katsuki. Yaoyorozu. And now Ashido, who runs away from the party like her life is on the line, and is found unconscious on the side of the road in the early hours of the next day.

And Izuku finds himself feeling anxious as he walks into town instead of back home, observing the lines of shops and eventually pushing open the door of the book store anxiously with a sweaty hand. The bell above the door chimes, soft tinkles echoing across the shop. Izuku likes this shop a lot - it’s a family owned independent business that has a lovely homely feel to it, and the smell of unopened pages is always soothing to Izuku as he wanders up and down the rows of books, gazing at the spines of the objects to try and stop him from obsessively searching for Ashido. He’s nervous, actually, thinking of meeting her again after basically telling her, a stranger, such personal things. Izuku’s worried he’ll make it awkward and Ashido will think he’s strange -

Izuku mentally slaps himself, forces out a fast exhale to try and dissipate some of his anxiety, before plucking a book from the shelf and taking it towards one of the random benches in the shop and flicking it open, pretending he’s a customer interested in buying it. There’s an empty bench opposite him, and he’s in line of the door too, so Izuku keeps his eyes on the book, occasionally checking in his peripheral vision for a mop of pink hair. It’s ten to five, and Izuku somehow doubts Ashido’s here before him, since it’s a small shop and he’s already wandered all the aisles before to look for her.

He sighs and turns his attention back to the book, reading a few sentences before movement in front of him causes him to look up. There’s a girl sitting on the bench opposite him, looking at him with wide eyes, looking slightly nervous - and it’s not ashido. Her long green hair is tied loosely back in a ponytail - and Izuku’s rather surprised to see she’s got UA uniform on - although he doesn’t recognise her - she must be in different classes to him -

“Hey - uh - mind if I sit here?” She asks, and Izuku looks at her, shutting the book slowly.

“Um - actually -” Izuku clears his throat, putting the book on his lap. “I- I’m meeting someone - and, uh  -”

“Oh.” The girl says, but she doesn’t seem upset or offended. Her voice has a kind of twang to it, and croaks occasionally, when she stresses syllables. “You’re alone,right?”

Izuku’s so confused, and he can barely make a coherent response. “I’m sorry - um, do I know you?”

“Uh -” The girl’s eyes widen slightly, like she’s just remembered something. “Um - Ashido sent me.”

Izuku’s eyebrows shoot up in surprise. He certainly wasn’t expecting this - why would Ashido organise to meet him, and then send someone else? It doesn’t make any sense - and he doesn’t know this girl at all -

“Oh.” Is all he manages to say. “Where - uh - where is Ashido?”

The girl looks at him with an expression he can’t read. She takes a deep breath, and Izuku notices how her hands are on her knees and are screwing up in fists. She’s obviously nervous, just like Izuku is, but she seems to be hiding it better that Izuku is hiding his own.

“She’s here.” She says, slightly bluntly, before she quickly adds. “ - in a way. But not here - like in the shop, but -” The girl looks up at him, seeing the confusion on Izuku’s face and averting her gaze so they break eye contact. “She wasn’t here when you, uh - met her at the party, or when you thought you met her-” The girl falters. “You actually didn’t.”

Izuku’s mind has gone blank. He can’t physically process this. What does she mean? What does she mean that Izuku didn’t actually meet Ashido at the party - because unless he imagined the whole thing, Izuku’s pretty much certain he did -

“What?” He splutters out, closing his fingers around the book as he stares at the green-haired girl, who’s now set her shoulders and is staring at Izuku intently.

“Alright.” She says, taking a deep breath and exhaling, before snapping her head up and staring at Izuku with something blazing in her eyes that startles Izuku. “Today, I’m Tsuyu. The day you met Ashido, I was Ashido.”

Izuku’s jaw drops slightly at this crazy information - his brain stutters to a stop for a second, but Tsuyu isn’t finished.

“And the day Yaoyorozu yelled at Katsuki twice, I was Yaoyorozu.” Tsuyu says, her voice trailing off slightly. “And the day you went with Katsuki to the beach, I was Katsuki.”

There’s a pause. Izuku’s silent, looking at her in shock as Tsuyu shifts around, exhales again, before looking at Izuku with a gaze so intense he instinctively wants to look away, but finds he can’t.

“And that’s because I am a person who wakes up in a new body every day.” Tsuyu says, and Izuku’s lost for words and can only stare at her in disbelief. “Always my age, never too far away from the last, and I’m never the same person twice.” She looks up at him, emotion flickering in her irises. “It’s been happening for as long as I can remember, and I have absolutely no control over it.”

Izuku manages to boot his brain back onto a timeline that’s not lagging a few seconds behind everyone else’s. “H-hey - um - are you one of Ochako’s friends? Did she tell you I was gonna be here - b-because she wasn’t supposed to tell anyone -”

“I don’t know why it happens. And I don’t know how it happens.” Tsuyu says, interrupting him suddenly, ignoring Izuku’s sudden discomfort. He’s shocked because isn’t his confusion evident? If this is a joke, it’s not a funny one, and Izuku’s stomach is squirming horribly like there’s a snake inside it. “Nobody knows about it - and you’re the first person I’ve ever -” Tsuyu glances away. “You’re the first person I’ve told about it - and I know I’m not explaining it well, but -”

“O-okay - well, um, this has been great, but -” Izuku splutters, grabbing his bag and standing up hastily, the book falling onto the floor from his lap. He swallows hard and grabs it, dropping it back onto a random shelf without caring which one it is. “But I think I should go -” He whirls around, heading towards the door.

“‘Do you see the shark, Izuku?’”

He stops short, his back to Tsuyu as her words cause his heart to beat nervously at his ribcage, like there’s a bird fluttering inside his chest.

“That was what he said to you in the aquarium, wasn’t it?” Tsuyu says. There’s desperation in her eyes, Izuku sees as he turns around to face her slowly. “A tiger shark.”

“How did you know -” Izuku begins, shock making his voice crack, but Tsuyu keeps talking.

“You told me about how your mom’s health is getting worse, you told me about your dad leaving you both -”

“Just stop!” Izuku suddenly snaps, glaring at her as he whips around. “I told Katsuki those things, not you -”

“Katsuki has nothing to do with this!” Tsuyu shoots back, but Izuku’s had enough at this point.

“No - I spent that day with Katsuki.” Izuku says firmly, pointing an accusing finger at her. “And now you and Ashido and Katsuki are playing some sort of stupid joke on me and honestly - I’m not finding it amusing at all and I really don’t want to know why you’re doing this so - please -” He begins to turn away. “Just stop it.”

“Katsuki never talks to you the way he did that day, does he?” Tsuyu says, and there’s a sudden sympathy mixed with a longing that Izuku’s frankly startled by. “He never spends days like the one we had with you. He doesn’t see you for who you are.”

Izuku’s silent but Tsuyu’s words hurt him, thudding into him like bullets - and it’s mostly because they’re true - as much as he doesn’t want to admit it.

“That wasn’t Katsuki.” Tsuyu says finally, looking at him with wide, desperate eyes. “That was me.”

“No. It’s not possible.” Izuku glares at her, despite the fact he can feel furious tears edging up his throat.

“But it is.” Tsuyu’s voice drops down to a whisper. “If you’re me.”

Izuku barely hears her final words as he whips around and pushes out of the shop.

The next day in school, Izuku’s barely awake because Tsuyu’s words haunt him. He yawns, putting a hand to his mouth as he fiddles around with the things inside his locker before shutting the door and locking it. Katsuki approaches him and leans against the lockers as Izuku puts his keys back into his pocket.

“Hey, Deku.” Katsuki says, leaning over slightly to plant a sloppy kiss on Izuku’s cheek, but Izuku skilfully manages to dodge it by turning away and pretending to look for his phone in his other pocket. “Wanna come over to my place tonight and uh - study?” Katsuki smirks at his choice of words. “‘Study.’” He says again, twitching his fingers to make out invisible quotation marks.

“Um.” Izuku says, deciding to ignore the suggestive question and turning to face him. “Who’s Tsuyu?”

“I don’t know a fucking Tsuyu.” Katsuki says slowly, looking at him with slight suspicion. Izuku’s annoyed that there’s genuine confusion on Katsuki’s face - not even a flicker of recognition at the name.

“Did you tell anyone about - the stuff we talked about? On the beach?” Izuku presses, looking up at Katsuki and trying to read his expression, but there’s only blankness in Katsuki’s eyes.

“Wait - what was it we talked about?” Katsuki says, and Izuku grinds his teeth before turning around and taking his phone out.

There’s another text - from a different unknown number.

 

>> Unknown: Everything I said to you yesterday is the absolute truth.

 

He starts walking away from Katsuki slowly, still gazing at the phone and that single grey message bubble that’s casting all sorts of emotions into his mind. Doubt, complete confusion and disbelief - but there’s also an inkling of hope, as much as he wants to deny it.

As crazy and stupid and fabricated what Tsuyu said to him yesterday seems to be, it would explain it all. Everything - Katsuki’s behaviour - why he was so wonderful that one day and then reverted back to his old ways the day after; Yaoyorozu standing up to Katsuki and knowing stuff she shouldn’t and her failure to remember why; Ashido not being a pupil of UA and going to Jirou’s party when normally she wouldn’t have had any idea about it -

“What the fuck is wrong with you?” Katsuki spits in the background. “Are we meeting up or not?”

Izuku ignores him, still walking away as his trembling fingers type out another message.

 

>Me: I really want to believe you

>Me: I just don’t know how

 

The phone marks the message as ‘Seen’. Izuku’s heart is lodged in his throat because really, if the truth is the truth, then Izuku doesn’t know who this person is at all. Who are they?

 

>> Unknown: I can prove everything to you

>>Unknown: Can we meet again?

 

Izuku should say no. If he says no, then all of this confusion and absolutely crazy shit about body swapping and Katsuki not being Katsuki for 24 hours would be gone and Izuku can pretend it all never happened and his life would be normal again.

He types out the single word, and his thumb hovers over the send button for a few seconds. For a second, it seems like he won’t go through with it.

Izuku exhales, before tapping the button.

 

>Me: okay

Chapter Text

Izuku isn’t sure what to expect when he tentatively opens the door to the cafe. He looks blankly up the rows of booths where there are people eating breakfast. He’s decided to arrange this before school - he’s had enough of having to trek up to town for meeting places where both he and - whoever he’s about to meet - can both get themselves to. Plus, Izuku isn’t sure whether he can stand another day of constantly worrying and thinking about this meeting when he’s supposed to be working in school, so he feels like getting this out of the way early is going to be best for him.

He runs his eyes across the people there. There’s an elderly couple, and some other students that are clearly younger than him. Izuku’s looking for someone his own age - if whatever Tsuyu was saying was true, then that’s his best bet. However, there’s a few people he recognises from school and he’s starting to worry that this whole thing is just an unfunny joke to spite him, before someone on the other side of the shop waves a hand at him. He’s sitting alone, and Izuku feels something jump inside him when he gets this tingling sense of something otherworldly.

“Hey, Midoriya.” The guy says, and Izuku swallows hard, adjusting his sweaty hand around the strap of his backpack before going to sit down opposite him.

The boy is a lot bigger than he is - in terms of height and muscle. He’s got spiky brown hair and - wait, Izuku actually recognises this guy from his maths class.

“Sato?” He asks, eyes widening in sudden disbelief.

Sato looks at him with a soft smile. “Well - he’s Sato.” He points a thumb to his own chest. “But I’m Shouto.”

Izuku finally has a name. But still, this disbelief is making his tongue twist and he’s still highly suspicious that this whole thing is still a joke - but Sato’s literally never spoken to him before, and Izuku thinks he’s nice enough - and he’s got no reason to hold a grudge against Izuku, right?

Anyway, this peaceful and outrageously calm look on Sato’s face is nothing like the loud, cheerful guy that Izuku’s come to associate him to be. It’s like he’s been possessed by something else - something that Izuku can’t disregard as completely untrue, just yet.

He exhales hard. Oh well, this is what he’s here to find out, so he may as well do it before he loses another night of sleep over it.

“Shouto?” He repeats, and Sato - no, Shouto, nods once, tilting his head up and down slightly.

“Yes.” He says, a mournful look edging onto his face. “It’s one of the only things about myself I know. My name, and my age.”

Izuku flicks his gaze away, sighing again. “Listen, uh - Shouto, I’m still not completely convinced that any of this is the truth. There’s - there’s just no way that this can be real -”

“I understand why you feel that way.” Shouto says, and Izuku knows he’s telling the truth when he says that. He just has a feeling.

“Um - okay, then.” Izuku says, weaving his fingers together and resting his hands on the table. “When - when you were Katsuki -” Dear God, I can’t believe I’m falling for this. “-when you were Katsuki, what flower did you buy on the pier?”

“Red and white carnations.” Shouto says, a wistful look entering his eyes. “I gave one to the receptionist at the aquarium.”

Izuku’s heart thuds against his ribs. Okay, just a lucky guess. Yeah, sure - he’ll try another question. There’s no way if this is a prank that Sato can get the next one right.

“What was the last thing I said to you before we left the beach?” He asks, hope daring to flutter in his chest as Shouto flicks Sato’s eyes up to the ceiling, as if in thought.

Katsuki didn’t remember - how could you possibly -

“‘Your mouth tastes a lot better when you don’t smoke.’” Shouto says, his voice dropping down to a whisper as he averts his gaze from Izuku’s.

No - no way, this can’t be true -

“What song were we dancing to when you were Ashido?” Izuku demands, and Shouto answers without hesitation.

“‘I won’t let the sun go down on me’ , by Nik Kershaw.” He says, blinking at Izuku. “The selfsame song playing in Katsuki’s car when we were outside your house.”

Izuku barely finishes listening to this response before shooting another question at him. “And who showed you to your other lessons as Yaoyorozu after I did?”

“Ochako.” Shouto responds, looking slightly amused as he looks at Izuku. “Who I happened to hit on at the party as Ashido to get Katsuki to back off.”

Izuku exhales and tilts his head back, throwing his hands up in the air in a sign of surrender. “You could still be lying - you’ve done your homework, that’s for sure -”

“Or -” Shouto says in a low whisper as he looks at Izuku with that same blazing emotion Izuku realizes with sudden shock that he’s seen in all of them - Katsuki, Yaoyorozu, Ashdio, Tsuyu - “I could be telling you the truth.”

“Or I could be completely imagining this whole thing.” Izuku says, looking at him and folding his arms. “Like - who are you? If you’re not - like, any of those people you claimed you woke up in, then who are you? What are you? Do you have parents? Do they switch bodies too -”

“Um -” Shouto’s eyes dart around and he suddenly looks very forlorn and desperate. “I’d rather not - could we go somewhere where there are -” His voice trails off slightly. “Less people?”

Izuku shakes his head. “Listen, uh - Shouto, you’re a six foot massive guy right now and I’m gonna have to pass on that.” He laughs softly, even though deep down he doesn’t feel threatened at all. “All the people in this cafe are gonna be way more focused on their food than on what two teenage boys have got to say.”

“Alright then, you have a point.” Shouto says with a tiny smile. “The truth is - I think I had parents. I’m not sure. I can’t remember anything. It’s like -” His voice is catching slightly. “I think my life used to be normal. And then -” He unfolds his arms and gestures to himself. “I’m like this. I’ve got no identity or any choice anymore.”

If this is true, then it’s so utterly, devastatingly sad that it strikes painful chords across Izuku’s heart. He clears his throat as if that will clear the sudden tightness collecting there.

“So, just - every day, you’ve woken up to be someone else?” He asks timidly, afraid that he might have asked something personal and potentially hurtful, but Shouto doesn’t seem to mind.

“Yes. And I try to live that day for that person as if I am them.” Shouto says, smiling softly at his hands. “It’s got to be perfect. I can’t mess anything up for them.” Shouto looks up at him again. “Make no mark, and leave no trace.” He suddenly casts his gaze away with a dry laugh. “Although, I seem to have been forgetting that recently -”

“And you’re never the same person twice?” Izuku breathes.

Shouto shakes his head. “Never. But sometimes I encounter them if I’m in the same area.”

Izuku looks at him with wide eyes - honestly, he just wants to force as much information out of this ‘person’ as possible, and see if he slips up and then he’ll be triumphant because he won’t have fallen for this incredibly believable story -

“So when you’re a person - are you them , or are you you?” Izuku asks him.

Shouto shrugs. “I’m me. My memories, my consciousness, my thoughts - but I’m just in their body for a day. Sometimes I can dig through their memories and history if I really concentrate but I prefer not to.” He sighs, sagging his shoulders before looking up. “The longer I’m there, the more I can find out about a person.”

“And you’ve told nobody else about this?” Izuku says, twisting his fingers into knots as he waits for a response.

“I said before.” Shouto says with a glint in his eyes. “You’re the first.”

There’s a pause as the cafe bustles with chatter and the sound of cutlery clinking.

“That must be really lonely.” Izuku whispers, and it’s true.

Shouto shrugs again, looking at him intently. “It sometimes is.”

“And sad.” Izuku says to him, flicking his gaze back to his clasped hands.

“Not really.” Shouto says, a soft smile twitching on his lips. “I’ve seen so much. I know what makes every person completely different.” He runs a finger across the brown surface of the diner table. “I’ve seen the same colour brown in fifty different ways through fifty different pairs of eyes.”

It sounds wonderful, Izuku can’t like, but desperately sad as well.

“But - you can’t stay with anything long enough to see change over time.” He says, and it’s a statement more than a question.

Shouto nods slightly. “That’s true.” He looks up again, and the blazing fire in his eyes alarms Izuku. “But I’d like to, though.”

There’s another pause.

Shouto breaks it by reaching into his pocket and taking out Sato’s phone. “If I show you something, will you promise to show nobody else?”

Izuku simply shrugs in response, and Shouto taps on the phone screen for a few seconds.

“It’s my Instagram.” He says, handing the phone to Izuku.

Izuku takes the device and begins scrolling through it. There’s thousands upon thousands of photos that date back years and years, and his eyes are wide as he takes in all the different faces that are recorded into that page. As he scrolls, Shouto speaks.

“I post on there when I can.” He says. “It’s risky because I have to make sure I don’t leave a trace on their phone, but it’s nice to have a record.”

Izuku’s thumb hovers above the top line. The most recent photo is Sato - then Tsuyu in the bookshop, then some random boy Izuku doesn’t recognise, then Ashido at Jirou’s party, then Yaoyorozu with a creamy-white cat in her arms, then -

There’s that photo of Katsuki and himself in front of the jellyfish tank as the neon light makes their clothes glow. He swallows hard, swiping away before he can decipher the photo too well, and puts the phone face down on the table.

“Still.” He says to Shouto, narrowing his eyes slightly. “This doesn’t prove anything. You could have -” He’s clutching at straws, and they both know it. “You could have taken these images off the internet - and then, made the others send you those most recent ones -”

“But they’re real - please believe me -” Shouto starts saying, but Izuku stands up, glancing at his watch to check the time.

“Listen - uh - I’ve got to get to class -”

“Wait -” Shouto says, and he’s reaching out for Izuku before he’s turned away. “Please - can we meet again?”

Say no, Izuku tells himself. Run away while you still can -

But his brain is whirling and he’s so overwhelmed he really needs to be alone and figure stuff out by himself because this shit is getting way too real and he sure as heck doesn’t like this -

“Just -” He turns around to face Shouto again. “Just - let me process this whole thing for a while, okay?”

Shouto looks at him with an emotion in his eyes that Izuku can’t decipher. “Alright.”

“Bye, Shouto.” Izuku says before he changes his mind, and turns to exit the shop.

“Goodbye, Izuku.”

 

-

 

Izuku’s decided that he’s going to try one more thing before he believes that what’s happening is true. As much as he wants Shouto to be real, something in his mind is preventing him and he needs to convince himself.

He tracks down Ashido on Instagram and manages to find out which school she goes to. It’s quite far away, but Izuku’s not worried. He’s got a free period last so he’ll just drive up and see if he can find her. No problem. Yeah. Okay.

By the time he gets there, Ashido’s school has just finished and people are leaving to go home. Izuku shuts his car door and hovers around the gate, waiting to see if he can find Ashido. She’s not too hard to pick out - he notices her hanging with a few friends. Now’s not the time to be nervous - Izuku breathes to himself as he puts his shoulders back and chin up high, and strolls over to tap her on the shoulder.

“Hey!” He says to her with a grin as she turns around.

The confusion in her eyes startles him. She’s silent as she looks hip up and down.

“It’s me? Remember?” Izuku says, beginning to get desperate, and Ashido glances back at her friends.

“Yet another person decides to pretend I’ve forgotten them.” Ashido scowls at him. “It’s not funny, I swear to God - if you wanted to ask me about what happened then the truth is - I’ve got absolutely no clue -”

“Uh - yeah - do you mind if I ask you a few questions about that?” Izuku says, thinking on the spot and deciding to ignore Ashido’s sudden amnesia. “I just wanna write something for my school newspaper -”

He scrabbles around in his bag and withdraws a notebook and pen he always keeps handy. Izuku often finds that he works best when he writes stuff down that he finds interesting, or that he’d like to explore further. Ashido glances at him again, squinting slightly as she observes Izuku thoroughly.

“Actually - now you mention it -” She says through her teeth, tapping her chin with the corner of her phone. “I do recognise you - “

Izuku’s suddenly elated as he clutches the notebook to his chest. “Really? That’s so great - I knew you’d remember me -”

Ashido puts a hand on his shoulder and ushers him away from her group of friends. “I’ll talk to you - hold up a second -”

Izuku’s consumed by a mixture of feelings. Ashido recognises him - she’s going to tell him that all this is a fabricated lie and he’s not going completely crazy -

Ashido steers him towards a bench and pushes him down onto it by the shoulder. “So - how much do you know?”

Izuku exhales shakily as he flicks the notebook open to a blank page. There’s no point in beating around the bush - he’ll just ask Ashido outright and let all those doubts disappear. He keeps telling himself he’ll feel so much better when this whole thing is proven to be completely stupid.

“Okay.” He begins, pretending to read off the page. “People have been saying - well, there have been rumours of people - I mean, students our age, being possessed by some sort of external force -”

Ashido’s eyes widen so suddenly at his words it shocks Izuku, before her face crumples in relief. “Oh my God - so you do know? I kept saying to everyone it was a demon but nobody believed me -”

Izuku’s heart stops so suddenly his blood begins to run cold. “A demon?” He tells himself it’s all part of the lie.

But deep down, something inside him is indignant and angry at Ashido’s words. Shouto is not a demon, it says, and Izuku swallows hard and forces himself to squash that little, annoying twitch of a voice down under a rock.

“An evil spirit. I swear - I’m not crazy - but I can’t think of anything else that could explain what happened.” Ashido’s voice drops down to a whisper as she flicks her eyes back onto her friends to check they’re out of earshot. “You believe me, right?”

Izuku doesn’t, and he cannot figure out why - but he’s going to pretend he does so Ashido’s more open with him. “Yes, of course I do. I’m investigating it.”

“Really?” Ashido’s voice reaches a high pitch as she visibly sags in relief. “Oh my gosh - then I’d better tell you everything.”

“That would be great.” Izuku says to her, and he knows he should be internally cheering, but there’s a heavy weight on his shoulders that’s beginning to make him very uncomfortable. “So - can you tell me what - what the ‘demon’ was like when he was - when he was -”

“Within me?” Ashido says, tapping on her chin again. “It did something to my memory. It possessed my body and used it for a whole day, and then made it so I couldn’t remember anything.” She shrugs, her eyes glazing over in confusion. “And then it left. And I woke up on the side of the road in my car - which was broken, as well!” She pouts and turned away with a scowl. “My dad was livid -”

“So you couldn’t remember a thing?” Izuku interrupts, writing down the word ‘Memory’ on the notepad and circling it.

“Pretty much all of that day was gone. I remember a few things, but they’re like - loose fragments with no context.” Ashido says, looking at him with wide, confused eyes. “I remember being with my dad and picking out clothes, and dancing - and there was a small, wooden house with pretty fairy lights all over it -” Her eyes suddenly snap onto him. “And I remember you.”

“Me?” Izuku suddenly locks his eyes on her, and Ashido nods.

“Now I think about it, there’s more.” Ashido taps on her temple. “It was hiding its intentions from me and tried to erase my memory too, but its emotions were so strong - I don’t know what emotions they were, but still, it must have left a trace..” Ashido unlocks her phone. “And it almost did. It logged into Instagram on my phone.”

Izuku’s stomach drops at this information. “Can -” He has to clear his throat before he can continue. “Can you remember anything about the account? The username, any of the photos -”

“Yes - you were in one of them.” Ashido whispers, her fingers twitching in sudden nervousness. “With a blonde guy, in front of some bright lights - I’m not sure what, though -”

And that was the confirmation. Izuku tries and begs those fizzing sparklers that have suddenly ignited in his blood to quell, but they burn and heat up his insides to the point he is almost watering at the eyes. He exhales suddenly and looks up at Ashido.

“One more question. So when he - I mean, the ‘demon’ - was within you, it did things you’d normally do?” Izuku queries, feeling a weird feeling in his stomach as he corrects his previous slip of the tongue.

“My parents said that they didn’t pick up that anything was different.” Ashido visibly shudders. “It pretended to be me. It did things that I would do - in order to pass off as me.”

“I try to live that day for that person as if I am them.” Shouto says to him, and for a fleeting second, Izuku can almost visualise a puff of red and white smoke hovering in Sato’s head as he remembers those words.

“Thank you, Ashido - that’s all I wanted to know.” He says suddenly, his voice catching slightly as he shuts the notebook with a little more force than necessary.

As he turns to leave the school grounds, Ashido reaches out and grabs him by the forearm, stopping him in his tracks.

“Just - be careful.” She says, concern on her face. “I think - I think it - the evil spirit - knows you. It recognised you that night it was within me.” Ashido’s whispering again, as if she’s afraid that she’s going to be overheard. “It might not want you to investigate it.”

Izuku raises his eyebrows at that information. “And you remember that?”

She shrugs slightly, but still looks afraid. “It tried its best to hide its feelings from me but -” She visibly trembles again in disgust. “When it felt strong ones, they didn’t quite leave my head? You know - it didn’t erase them from my memory as well as it did with the others.”

“And aside from those - ‘strong emotions’ -” Izuku pauses slightly, trying to gather his thoughts together. “It left no trace?”

“No. No trace.” Ashido shakes her head, before looking at him as she lets go of his arm.

“Make no mark, leave no trace -”

“I don’t know what it wants with you, but don’t get hurt.”

“- which I seem to be forgetting lately...”

“Thanks. I’ll remember that.” Izuku says, before turning and leaving the school and Ashido behind.

As he sits in his stationary car, reading through his rushed notes, he realises he knows a lot more about Shouto than he thought.

Evil spirit? Izuku reads through his notes, before crossing through it with a trembling line.

Izuku truly thinks that if Shouto is real, his intentions aren’t bad. In fact, Izuku realises, he’s good. Shouto is good. He lives every single unique life for the person, and tries to make it as good as he possibly can for all of them. And Izuku knows it hurts him; he can tell from how much pain and sorrow Shouto carries around to each body he inhabits.

He swallows hard, shutting the book and tossing it onto the passenger seat. Something in him still doesn’t want him to believe in Shouto, to believe that this is real.

Perhaps, his brain thinks before he can cut off its train of thought, it’s because he’s too good to be true.

Izuku exhales hard and focuses on driving, but his thoughts can’t help landing on two silhouettes standing in front of a wall of glass as the massive sharp-toothed fish swims lazily across their vision, and he finds his breathing coming to him slightly faster than usual.

Chapter Text

Izuku’s hurrying down the stairs to his next lesson and the shoulder to shoulder formation of the crush of people attempting to do the same thing is making him more than slightly anxious. Katsuki’s on his left, and he’s saying something, but Izuku isn’t listening and is letting Katsuki’s voice wash out like a river through his head.

“Bro, you cannot go and threaten that poor girl.” Kirishima, who’s on Izuku’s other side, says to Katsuki.

Kirishima’s hands are tightening around the straps of his backpack as they go down the stairs. Izuku can see because his knuckles are turning white. Kirishima’s always been the peacekeeper and seems to be the only one who can read Katsuki right, Izuku hates to admit. However, Izuku knows that Kirishima still feels wretchedly guilty about the whole incident with them all chasing Ashido - no, Shouto - out of the house with drunken yells of aggression.

“It’s not a threat!” Katsuki protests, glaring at the ground and curling his lip which suggest that, yes, it is a threat, but he’d rather not admit it to his red-haired friend. “It’s not a fucking threat! I’ll just go and tell her -”

Kirishima says something right back to him and he’s slightly indignant now, but Izuku doesn’t hear the rest of the conversation. His ears are making a rushing noise, and he’s letting the imaginary current of cold water simply whisk Katsuki’s and Kirishima’s voices away downstream as his heart makes echoing thuds against his ribs and echoing all the way into his skull.

Izuku’s eyes flick to a group of people hovering around the lockers as they reach the bottom of the stairs and begin pushing through the corridor. It’s only when he begins reading the other students’ faces and how they look back at him once they notice Izuku watching them does he realise that he’s looking for Shouto.

Kirishima and Katsuki are still talking but Izuku can barely hear the words as he turns his head subtly to run his eyes over the rest of the people in the crowd. Some are rummaging through lockers and taking binders out. Izuku watches Kaminari slam his locker door shut and the movement almost seems to be in slow motion. His heart is resting on his tongue as he watches the blonde turn.

But the recognition in Kaminari’s eyes is not for Izuku. Kaminari raises a hand at Kirishima and waves at him before he disappears into the crowds of pupils heading towards their lessons. Kirishima grins in acknowledgement at the blonde in between the quick-fire exchange between Katsuki and himself, and a small sigh escapes Izuku’s lips.

Why is he feeling disappointment? Izuku’s never really looked at Kaminari in that way before at all - mainly because he’s so constantly worried that if he so much at looks at another guy or girl Katsuki will hear about it and he’ll be pissed. And anyway, Izuku thinks as he swallows hard and focuses on putting one foot in front of the other and weaving around other students, if he hit on one of Katsuki’s friends, shit would go down. He flinches as he remembers how Katsuki had reacted when he’d seen Izuku and Ashido together, and she - he - had been a stranger.

Katsuki makes a growling noise in the background as he stops short to glare at Kirishima, who, as Izuku hastily cuts that train of thought mainly out of the irrational fear that Katsuki could have heard his conflicted thoughts, seems to have won that argument.

There’s a few more exchanged words, mainly Kirishima trying to keep the peace as Katsuki only responds in grunts and snarls as the ash blonde opens his locker with a lot more force than needed and begins rummaging in its messy contents.

He’s probably looking for a cigarette, Izuku realises miserably as he hovers next to the arguing pair and continues to run his eyes over the people rushing past in the corridor.

And then suddenly, there’s a red hot prick trained on the small of his back that causes him to shoot up straight, which is immediately followed by icy chills right down his spine, like cold claws scraping on his skin. Izuku whips around, eyes wide as his breathing comes to him fast because he’s being watched, he’s certain of it, and his heart is beating with hope and a slight fear that’s causing it to flutter like a hummingbird.

Izuku’s desperately scanning the hoards of heads as people chatter and laugh and swarm through the corridor, before his eye catches a flash of black as someone, simply standing still in the centre of the heaving corridor, notices his movement and disappears into a side corridor.

Although Izuku doesn’t get a good look, he knows it’s Shouto, and he begins fighting desperately through the crowds to follow him.

The heaving crush and sweltering heat of people falls away as Izuku wriggles through the gap between a  group of people and gasps, falling into the side corridor, which is empty, thank goodness, and finds his stride speeding up as he trails the other student.

“Wait.” He calls, sudden anxiety running through him because, heck, this other student is a complete stranger and what if he’s gotten this wrong? What if it isn’t -

The student stops short at his words before turning around slowly. Dark hair, narrow, crimson eyes - but they’re full of that flickering flame that makes Izuku’s breathing hitch and his heart stutter slightly.

“How did you know?” The boy says, and Izuku blinks, relief flowing over his muscles and making his fingers tremble.

Izuku’s never spoken to this other student before, but he goes to UA - Izuku can tell, because he’s wearing the uniform. There is no way this student would ever respond to him normally - Izuku doesn’t even know his name. But they’ve met before. In a way.

Shouto’s hand tightens around the strap of the bag he’s got over one shoulder and for the first time Izuku notices that he’s nervous, although he’s trying to hide it, but he’s not doing a good job of it and Izuku doesn’t know why. Shouto was a lot harder to read in the cafe -

“I felt you looking at me.” Izuku says, flicking his gaze to the floor. “Sixth sense.”

“I could have been any of those people.” Shouto says, indicating with his head towards the corridor which is beginning to filter out now.

“Yes, but, there’s no way he would have a reason to run away from me.” Izuku replies, eyes on Shouto’s borrowed body as the effects of Shouto’s anxiety begin to rub off on him.

“‘They’.” Shouto corrects suddenly, his blazing irises now on Izuku. “There’s no way they would have a reason to run away.”

Izuku blinks at him at the sudden correction, but doesn’t comment on it. He’s slightly startled by how little he knows about this other student.

“Don’t you have a lesson to go to?” Izuku asks them, and Shouto shrugs.

“Maybe.” They reply, and Izuku’s slightly annoyed at how blunt the response is.

The bell rings suddenly and Shouto glances at the people entering the side corridor to get to their classrooms. Izuku notices he’s got flawless eyeliner on and is in awe for a few seconds at how attractive it looks, before looking at his feet, suddenly embarrassed.

People push in between them to get past and Izuku lets out a breath he didn’t know he’d been holding.

“In here.” He says, weaving past Shouto into an empty classroom that’s got the lights off. He flicks them on as Shouto moves past him and shuts the door. The room lights up, and Izuku glances around quickly to check they’re alone. There’s no teachers or students; they’ll be okay for a while in here.

Shouto hovers by the door as Izuku suddenly turns to face them.

“I thought you said you weren’t going to make any more mistakes in people’s lives - speaking of which -” Izuku can’t help a slight anger edging into his voice as he remembers yesterday afternoon when he’d gone to Ashido’s school. “What happened with Ashido?”

Shouto’s eyes are blazing as they tighten a hand around the strap again, just like Kirishima earlier. “I had to see you.”

Izuku barely has time to react to that before Shouto looks suddenly becomes forlorn and dips their head. “I went to the party to try and find you but - I just - lost track of time and tried to get her home.”

Izuku remembers the article showing Ashido’s smashed up car on the side of the road. Shouto makes a soft, barely audible sigh as the memory clouds their eyes. “I pulled over at eleven fifty-nine p.m. and passed out.”

“She remembered you.” Izuku interrupts, trying to ignore the giddying beating of his heart ramming against his chest like a bull. “You said you left no traces, but she remembered the Instagram account.”

“I panicked. I -” Shouto flicks their eyes away. “I just - didn’t want that day to end. I didn’t manage to scrub her memory clean before I left.”

“Ashido thought you were a demon.” Izuku says suddenly, pinching the bridge of his nose as if to dispel the confusing thoughts whirling in a storm around his head. There are butterflies in his stomach, and Izuku swallows hard to try and quell them.

“If I’m a demon then humanity’s got nothing to worry about.” Shouto says, and there’s a flickering amusement in his eyes that Izuku can’t help trying to feel annoyed at.

Izuku exhales. All the emotions are so confusing and he just wants one to take over this mess of a conversation and he sure as heck isn’t going to be able to do this with - whatever his heart and stomach seems to be doing. He lets the annoyance at the situation take the controls.

“Just - why are you doing all this?” He blurts, turning his head to the ceiling because he can’t meet Shouto’s fierce gaze. “Why are you here? Why are you following me and trying to see me -”

“Because -” Shouto says, and their words are careful - they’re obviously running them through their head several times before daring to speak them. Izuku narrows his eyes in suspicion as Shouto averts his gaze, before snapping it back onto Izuku so fast it startled him. “Because that day we met, something happened. I don’t know what it was, but -” Shouto shrugs their shoulders almost dismissively. “I don’t want to let it go.”

“About that day - why did you possibly think it was okay?” Izuku suddenly snaps, glaring at Shouto as all the whirling emotions condense into a ball which then stretches out and severs down the middle. “I let you kiss me because I thought you were Katsuki -” He’s getting so angry and he hates it; Izuku is close to crying now because he hates it - “I told you some incredibly personal things -” His throat is tightening horribly thinking about his mom looking so gaunt and losing all that weight and being so constantly tired and distant -

“Katsuki wouldn’t have understood, Izuku.” Shouto says, their blazing red eyes so fiery they burn Izuku from the inside out. “I was in his mind. I read his emotions like a book.”

“Are you crazy?” Izuku snarls, glaring at him. “I know him better than you do. We’ve been friends since we were kids and you -” He’s suddenly lost for words and exhales hard, and takes another breath before continuing. “And he’s my boyfriend so -”

“But he’s not a good one, is he?” Shouto says, and Izuku’s suddenly furious because how dare they -

“Oh, shut it.” Izuku snaps. “Who are you to give me dating advice?”

Shouto shrugs in surrender. “I’m just saying you deserve better.”

Izuku sags, exhaling again and wiping at his face to get rid of the tears pricking at his eyes. “This is so fucking stupid - I hate it - just - everything’s so weird - I mean, the other days I could kind of get my head around but today you’re a - you’re -”

He’s run out of words again and he’s just gesturing lamely at the student that Shouto’s borrowing for today. Something new flickers in Shouto’s eyes and it suddenly makes Izuku feel really strange and uncomfortable.

“Not everyone’s bodies align with their minds.” Shouto’s voice drops to a whisper, and they fixes their gaze on Izuku again that burns right through him and for a fleeting second Izuku’s certain that they’re reading him - just like they did with Katsuki and Yaoyorozu -

“But I’m not asking you to give Fumikage a chance.” Shouto says suddenly, looking up as they head towards the door and open it.

Izuku glares at him, but his heart betrays him as it takes a nervous twirl in his chest.

“I’m asking you to give me a chance.” Shouto says, and Izuku stands there numbly as Shouto vanishes from sight and the door drops shut with a dull thud.

Chapter Text

In spite of every attempt to get out of it, the following day Izuku finds himself at Katsuki’s house despite the fact he’d rather be anywhere else. His encounter with Shouto yesterday is making his thoughts so loud they are almost deafening. He finds his knee jerking up and down where he’s sat on the end of the bed and making the binder on his lap judder as Katsuki splays out on the rest of the bed behind him. Katsuki’s on his phone, despite the whole ‘study’ thing he originally wanted to do. Izuku knows deep down Katsuki’s most likely going to ask for something else but he hasn’t yet, and he’s relieved he’s left Izuku alone so far.

Katsuki’s engrossed in his phone, and Izuku clearly isn’t going to be able to do any homework with his thoughts in this state, so he huffs, shutting the binder and putting it to the side. Katsuki notices the movement out of the corner of his eye and starts watching Izuku with his phone still over his face.

“What do you remember? About that day on the beach?” The words fly out of Izuku’s mouth before he can stop them.

Katsuki props himself up on his elbow. He looks so stupidly taken by surprise at the question that it was pissing Izuku off, despite the fact he knows deep down that he already knows why Katsuki can’t remember anything.

“I remember that - it was good?” Katsuki tries, and Izuku scoffs, scowling and turning away.

“Okay - fine - I’m going to ask you something else then.” Izuku says, putting his most sincere look on his face as he turns back to Katsuki. “Are you okay with that?”

Katsuki shrugs and flops back into his lazed position with a huff. “‘Kay.”

Izuku knows he’s not going to like the answer, but he’s still allowing that tiny bloom of hope in his stomach. “What do you like about us?”

Katsuki’s face takes on an expression Izuku cannot read for the life of him, and suddenly wishes Kirishima was here to translate - or at least diffuse the situation. He starts hastily trying to find a way to back-track before Katsuki answers, the blonde sitting up slowly to look at Izuku.

“Us?” He echoes, a layer of scorn and confusion on his voice.

“Yeah - as a couple. Our connection?” Izuku says, still ever-hopeful. “What’s special about that to you?”

“Um -”

The hesitation only confirms it for Izuku and he sighs again, brushing his hair out of his face as Katsuki, for possibly the first time in his life, is spluttering and scrabbling around for an answer. He makes to get up and Katsuki pulls him back by the shirt.

“We are very - um - connected? Right? Because - uh - we make a great team.” Katsuki manages to say, and Izuku looks at him with a blank gaze, but Katsuki seems utterly relieved he’s finally got an answer. “Yeah - like  - how you wouldn’t let me drive drunk after Jirou’s party? I was so fucked - but anyway - we’ve got each other’s backs.”

Izuku was silent. Katsuki kept talking, making a grunting noise as he pulled himself upright to sit next to Izuku.

“And - and that night? With that fucking weird bitch -” Katsuki continued. “It reminded me - that - that - I don’t want to fucking lose you to anyone.”

Izuku forces a smile, and Katsuki interprets that as evidence that his answer had satisfied Izuku, and promptly goes back on his phone again.

The next few days, Izuku finds himself magnetised to his phone. Katsuki disintegrates into a background character in his life - the type that says stuff but the words are always fuzzy and incoherent - because Izuku’s suddenly realised that the only words that seem to matter to him anymore are the ones that appear on his lock screen from unknown numbers.

Every day, a new unknown number.

He’s gotten to the point that he’s taking his phone out of his pocket in the middle of class to check for any messages. Shouto doesn’t message in the day, Izuku knows, because he’ll be in school somewhere else, but that same flicker of hope is still there.

He finds his heart jumping every time his phone vibrates. Shouto texts him, saying that he’s got a free period, and Izuku visibly beams as a smile breaks out across his face, despite the fact he’s in biology at the moment.

His texting whilst looking at the board and keeping his hands under the table is getting a lot better, but Izuku honestly for the first time doesn’t care that his notes are suffering. The only thing that sparks joy in him at the moment is those messages, and he’ll reply to them at risk of being caught if it means he can talk to someone who seems to understand him.

 

>>Unknown - Sorry i’ve been quiet for a while.

>>Unknown - going to random schools takes a lot out of me

>Me -  dony be sorry

>Me - if anygking i sjould be sorru for ym tyhpn g

>>Unknown - are you in class?

>Me: ..

>Me: no

>>Unknown - you are!! Stop lying to me!

 

He can’t help a soft laugh escaping himself and Ochako notices, leaning over to try and see what he’s doing. On instinct he turns the screen away and she looks up at him, raising her eyebrows.

“Who could possibly be more important than protein synthesis, Izuku?” She says, a mixture of sarcasm and amusement falling from her voice.

“Internet friend.” Izuku says, flushing slightly at the attention.

Ochako clicks her tongue, putting the lid of her pen in her mouth as she turns back to the board. “Okay, whatever you say.”

Izuku’s absolutely desperate to get home so he can lie in bed and just talk to Shouto with no interruptions. No Ochako leaning over his shoulder, no teachers prowling around the room and confiscating phones, no Katsuki demanding who he’s talking to -

But there’s one more obstacle that he isn’t quite sure how to overcome.

“Hello, Izuku, darling.” His mom says as he comes in the door, fussing over him and taking his bag off him and starting to pull his jacket off. “Let me hang that up for you -”

“Mom, it’s okay. I’ve got it.” He says gently, but his mom isn’t taking no for an answer.

“I missed you.” His mom says, embracing him hard.

Izuku’s silent. His mom is a lot shorter than he is now Izuku’s grown, and her arms only go around the middle of her torso, but even though her grip is firm, her breathing is shaking, and her ribs and frame feel so fragile. He wraps his arms around her, almost afraid that if he hugs her too hard she’ll shatter and crumble into dust.

“I was only at the chemistry study session.” He tries explaining to her, but his mom looks up at him with confusion in her eyes and he exhales, tearing his gaze away from hers and quickly wriggling out of her grip because he can’t face her.

He fucking hates it. Having to see her like that.

“Izuku?” Her voice follows him, a timid, frail noise, but he ignores it, storming up the stairs and disappearing into his room, shutting the door and bolting it hard.

Finally flopping down onto his bed, he exhales hard, putting both hands over his face and pulling them down so the skin stretches, and letting go, his arms falling to his sides. He could have lain there for hours, hearing his mom tinker around downstairs even though he knows she’s not doing anything other than tidying things up so that they’re in the wrong places -

His phone buzzes, pulling him out of that train of thought, and he looks at it with slightly bleary eyes. Shouto’s messaging him again, so he sighs, and allows a small smile to break on his face.

 

>> Unknown - just got a few seconds alone. This kid’s got six siblings, what the heck

 

Izuku lets out a soft snort, which is watery from his tears. He wipes his face hastily before tapping out a reply.

 

>Me: Can’t imagine that

>Me - I’m an only child, how are you still alive??

>>Unknown - I was just thinking the same thing - but actually, it’s weirdly comforting. I like being around so many people. Can’t think why

>Me - really? Is it like deja vu?

>>Unknown - it could be

>>Unknown - it makes me think that maybe i had a lot of siblings before

>>Unknown - but i wouldn’t remember, so i guess there’s no point in wondering

 

That message saddens him greatly, and Izuku’s suddenly forlorn as he types out a response.

 

>Me - There’s always a point in wondering, right? If there wasn’t wonder, there wouldn’t be any point in dreaming.

>>Unknown - Dreams?

>Me - I mean, like

>Me - dreams are like conjured up wonders that our brain puts into a form we can experience

>Me - and then we can make dreams into realities, right?

>Me - are you able to dream, shouto?

>>Unknown - maybe. I can’t remember dreaming at night. Could be due to the transfer at midnight

>>Unknown - but I have dreams

>>Unknown - maybe not ones that can become reality, but yes, i have dreams

>Me - you should follow them, shouto

>Me - often our subconsciousness knows more than we realise

 

Shouto starts typing, and then the typing icon would stop, and then it would start again. Izuku watches it with a mixture of emotions. Shouto was obviously struggling with what to say to that, and he cursed himself for getting stupidly philosophical.

 

>>Unknown - that is incredibly wise, izuku

 

He found his cheeks heating up and he had to exhale sharply, squeezing his fingers around his phone as Shouto kept typing.

 

>>Unknown - thank you

>Me: no problem! :D

 

Izuku takes a stupid selfie with a filter that put a bunny nose and ears on his face and sends it to him, and suddenly his thoughts catch up with his body and he starts panicking.

Idiot! Idiot! He curses, tapping the photo and trying to figure out a way to unsend it, but Shouto responds, sending an image of himself too. He’s in a female body with long blonde hair and blue eyes, and he is giving the camera a completely blank look but is holding up his two fingers in a peace sign. He lets out a soft laugh at that.

 

>>Unknown - still don’t understand ‘selfies’

>Me: it’s okay!!! But usually people smile in them

 

The tension seems to have alleviated there, and he exhales hard, finally managing to calm down.

 

>>Unknown - please forgive me. I don’t usually smile that much

>Me - you smiled a lot that day as kacchan

 

Tears were welling up and Izuku had to choke back a sob, suddenly throwing a hand over his mouth to try and muffle them.

 

>>Unknown - being me, i have to fake smiles a lot

>>Unknown - but those smiles as katsuki

>>Unknown - those were real

 

He’s crying now, but he decides to blame it on the fact it’s getting late.


>Me  -I’m happy to hear that

>>Unknown - I have to go, sorry

 

Izuku glances at the clock, and it was just coming up eleven. He sighs, trying to expel some of his confusing feelings that way.

 

>Me - it’s okay, you’re leaving that girl at midnight, right?

>>Unknown - that’s right

>Me - I wish we could talk late into the morning

>>Unknown - me too

>Me - goodnight!

>>Unknown - goodnight, izuku

>>Unknown - sweet dreams

 

Izuku could see crimson, fiery reds and pure icy whites all night.

The next day, he’s absolutely itching to take his phone out of his pocket. It’s like an uncomfortable stare in between his shoulder blades all day, which kind of reminds him of that day Shouto had dared trying to find Izuku in the corridor when he was with Katsuki.

He notices that student later. It looks like Katsuki was going to pick on the dark-haired kid and try and get an easy kill, but Izuku isn’t going to have it.

“Katsuki.” He says smoothly, pulling Katsuki’s hand off Fumikage’s tie and dragging him away. “Let’s go somewhere for lunch.”

Katsuki seems ready to object, but after noticing Izuku flagging down Kirishima and Kaminari, he obviously decides he isn’t going to visibly bully a younger student in front of his friends. As Izuku yanks Katsuki away from Fumikage with his hand, he doesn’t miss how they glance at him, obviously confused but there’s gratitude in their eyes.

The older students are allowed to go off site for lunch, but Izuku doesn’t like doing this often because it’s a hassle getting back for afternoon lessons. However, this is his one day when he has the rest of the school day off due to his free periods collating after lunch.

Katsuki quickly forgets about him once they reach the local takeaways and is instead growling and snarling what sounded like abuse at Kirishima as the red-head chatters about what he’s going to eat. The corner of Izuku’s mouth twitches at the sight of it, seeing how immune Kirishima is to his insults, still daring to lean on Katsuki’s shoulder with an elbow as he laughs and Katsuki shoots death threats at him.

And just then, he gets a message from Shouto.

 

>>Unknown - can you get to the library just outside of town?

 

Izuku can’t help a sharp inhale entering his lungs. Shouto hasn’t asked to meet up since the awkward exchange he’d had as Fumikage.

 

>Me - sure. I’ll be there in twenty - i’ve got a free period

>>Unknown - okay

 

He manages to slip away from Katsuki and his friends and get in the car, driving off before Katsuki even notices he’s gone. He isn’t worried though - Katsuki will see he’s gone and just assume he’s gone back to school because Izuku is ‘such a fucking nerd’.

As Izuku drives, he finds himself getting increasingly nervous so his fingers are tapping on the steering wheel as he waits at a red light. He wants to stick his head out of the window and yell at the elderly lady trying to cross to hurry the hell up, but he’s way too polite for that (and too afraid of the consequences too).

He pulls into the library car park and goes up the steps through the library doors. It’s super quiet, considering how it’s technically still the school day, but there are a few university students studying and a librarian rearranging a shelf in the corner. Izuku swallows hard, deciding not to hesitate and wanders up and down the shelves, looking for someone his age -

Wandering past the computers, he finally sees someone sat on his own in the areas where people usually sit and read. He’s a lot taller than Izuku is, and he’s got glasses on. He’s quietly reading the book on his lap. Izuku inhales with a smile and goes to sit opposite him.

“Hey!” He says with a grin, putting his bag down as he’s talking. The boy looks up at him. “Heck - at least you’re easy to find; you’re the only person my age here -”

The boy glances at him blankly, and it’s making the smile fall off Izuku’s face very slowly.

“Do I know you?” He asks, and Izuku’s stomach drops so suddenly he thinks he might be sick.

“Oh my - jeez, I’m so sorry.” Izuku begins spluttering , flushing wildly as he grabs his bag with fumbling hands and slings it over his shoulder. “I mistook you for someone else - God, it’s a long story - um - sorry for bothering you -”

The boy looks at him with blank eyes for a second longer before a soft laugh escapes his lips. “I’m joking. It’s me, Shouto -  I promise -”

Izuku’s stood there looking like a fish with his jaw hanging open before his brain catches up with his words as Shouto snorts, his eyes sparkling with amusement.

“Oh my God - that was not funny.” Izuku gasps, glaring at him as he dumps the bag back down and sits down with a lot more force than necessary. “You almost gave me a heart attack -”

“It was just a joke -” Shouto protests, and Izuku shushes him with a glare.

“I can’t believe you just did that! Not funny - I almost died of embarrassment -” Izuku hisses, and Shouto begins to protest, before the librarian shoots a ‘shush’ at both of them, causing them both to glance at her and shut up very promptly.

“It was a little funny, right?” Shouto asks in a low voice as they turn their chairs away from the librarian.

“No.” Izuku says firmly.

“I’ve never had a chance to joke with someone before. Sorry.” Shouto says, looking slightly forlorn as he averts his gaze from behind his glasses.

Izuku sighs, running a hand through his hair. “I guess I’m not the only one suffering from public humiliation. That shirt is -”

He gestures at it, and Shouto glances down with a snort, pulling at it with the forefinger and thumb of one hand. It’s a very ugly navy polo shirt - not something anyone would willingly wear -

“I think its a hand-me-down from his brother.” Shouto says, with a soft laugh.

“I kinda like it. It matches his hair.” Izuku points out, and Shouto snorts, averting his gaze again.

“I know he hates it.” Shouto says, before glancing over his shoulder and leaning in, like he’s afraid he’s going to be overheard. “Okay - but, I’ve been in homeschool situations before - and this one sucks. A lot.”

“What’s wrong with it?” Izuku begins asking, a little curious at the answer because he’s never met someone who hasn’t gone to a public school before.

“He’s got a really successful older brother to live up to. His mom really wants him to do well but she’s not doing it the right way.” Shouto says, looking slightly forlorn. “He’s under a lot of pressure.”

“If his mom’s strict, then how did you manage to get to the library?” Izuku asks, feeling a little sorry for the guy Shouto’s inhabiting. He can’t help wondering if this boy wasn’t homeschooled whether he’d be friends with him.

“She said I could have an hour.” Shouto says, before sighing again. “As long as I have fifty quotes from Romeo and Juliet memorised by the time she picks me up.”

“Wow.” Izuku says, feeling an innate sense of ‘glad it’s him, not me’, before shaking it off and standing up to begin looking through the shelves. “Let’s go find the Shakespeare section then -”

“It can wait.” Shouto says, taking him by the wrist and slowly sitting him back down. Heat begins spreading where his skin touches, and Izuku has to keep telling himself this isn’t Shouto - it’s a random homeschooled guy - “Tell me about your day.”

“It was normal.” Izuku shrugs, finally finding himself lost for words. “I was thinking about you. Wondering why you weren’t messaging me in the day.”

“You were?” Shouto’s voice heightens in surprise, and the librarian promptly shushes him again.

Izuku giggles softly as Shouto glares at her, before they turn the chairs away again and Shouto tries again. “You were?” He asks in a softer voice.

“I was thinking about you when you were younger. What it was like being you.” He whispered in a soft voice, and a solemn look edges onto Shouto’s face.

“Well, as far as I can remember, the first boy I remember being was awful. I panicked - and his family were so superstitious they exorcised him. Several times.” Shouto whispered, grief in his eyes. “I think I might have lived near here once upon a time. But one day, this girl I was in - her family left the state to go to a wedding. And of course, weddings don’t last for 24 hours. So when I left her - I was stuck there and bounced about bodies in an unfamiliar place since I was maybe about seven -”

“And you couldn’t get back here?” Izuku breathes.

“No.” Shouto shakes his head. “I was waking up in seven year old bodies. I couldn’t control where I could go, and I can’t choose who I wake up in.” He sighed, turning his head away. “Until one day, I was lucky and the family I was with were moving here. And I started latching onto people here - in the original place it all started.”

“I know - but - I asked what it was like for you. How did it feel?” Izuku says in a soft voice, and Shouto shrugs, seemingly unable to look Izuku in the eye.

“I asked for help. But people think when a seven year old is talking about the things I was experiencing it’s just pretend. They’re playing; they have big imaginations. But I had a normal life. I knew what it was like, and then suddenly, it was all gone. And I think what made me realise I was so different from other children was how people would talk about tomorrow.” Shouto says, emotion causing his voice to tremor, and Izuku finds himself reaching for Shouto’s hand as his eyes glaze over with memories. “The things people would do tomorrow, the places people would go tomorrow. As if everyone would be together - but I just knew that wouldn’t happen for me. And I said that, but when kids say things like that, parents just think it’s a joke or a game. So after a while -”

Shouto swallows hard, his grip tightening around Izuku’s. “After a while, I just realised my ‘tomorrows’ are very different from everyone else’s.”

Their hands ran together, the fingers intertwining as Izuku gazed up at Shouto. “And you’ve never found anyone else like you?” He breathes.

“No.” Shouto whispers. “I had a look online. All I could find was a subreddit which I think ninety percent of the posts on there were caused by me -”

The librarian shushed them again, and Shouto lets out a laugh as he recalls the subreddit. Izuku smiles softly, despite the fact his heart is crying at how sad Shouto’s devastating story is.

“Shall we find Romeo and Juliet then?” Izuku asks with a smile, and only when Shouto nods and lets go of his hand as Izuku stands up does Izuku realise that Shouto hasn’t let go of his hand the entire time.

The hour rushes by, and Izuku finds his chair inching closer to Shouto’s as he rests the book open on his lap and he recites a line, followed by Shouto recalling the next one from memory as they try to keep their voices quiet.

“Juliet - ‘I have no joy of this contract to-night -” Izuku whispers, running his finger across the page.

“‘It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden;

Too like the lightning, which doth cease to be-” Shouto replies, his voice low as he keeps his intense gaze on Izuku’s face.

“‘Ere one can say -’” Izuku starts saying, but Shouto quickly jumps in and finishes the rest of the line.

“‘It lightens.' Sweet, good night!

This bud of love, by summer's ripening breath -’” Shouto breathes, and Izuku can feel himself inching ever so slowly closer.

“‘May prove a beauteous flower -’” Izuku finds his heart jumping as his finger stops on the line and his breathing comes to him in a hushed gasp.

“‘ - when we next meet.’” Shouto finishes, and there’s a glimmer of amusement in those eyes which always transcend the same thoughtful intelligence and passionate, pure emotion Izuku’s seen in Shouto every time. “How did I do?” There’s a hint of mischief in his voice and Izuku looks up from the book and should be startled at how close Shouto’s edged to him, but only finds his heart stuttering at his ribcage.

“Passable.” Izuku says in a low voice with a soft smile, and Shouto laughs.

“I think I did okay.” Shouto’s eyes are so intense and Izuku’s staring right into them with a heart that’s too loud and cheeks that are too hot -

“If you say so.” Izuku whispers and they’ve edged so close that their noses are almost touching.

“What’s my reward?” Shouto begins asking, but Izuku grabs him by the collar of his ugly polo shirt so their lips touch and they’re kissing - oh God - they’re kissing -

Heat explodes all over his cheeks at the feeling and his pulse thrums under his skin as Shouto lets out a small gasp against his lips. They way they’re kissing is almost desperate because Izuku’s feeling so many emotions but the feeling of ‘finally’ is so overwhelming he’s almost hungry for it -

“TENYA!” A female shrieks across the library and they break apart suddenly, Shouto’s eyes widening in shock as they look up in horror.

“Time for you to go.” Shouto snorts and Izuku stands up, grabbing his bag as the furious woman begins fighting past the librarian with barely contained screeches of shock.

“Get away from my son!” Tenya’s mom screams, and Izuku laughs, waving at Shouto before legging it from the library towards the car.

He’s buzzing, adrenaline making everything numb as he climbs into the car with a barely contained grin on his face and as he’s driving out, he sees Shouto running out of the library with a screaming woman chasing after him. Izuku’s laughing but he’s so breathless that he can hardly drive straight.

Shouto waves at him as he’s running away from Tenya’s furious mom, and Izuku waves back with a barely contained smile of joy and laughter.

That night, he’s lying awake at night because Izuku’s so full of joy and it’s like a curling coiled snake of heat inside his stomach. He wants to text Shouto so badly, to let him know that Izuku’s staying up with him and he’s thinking of Shouto, but he can’t text Tenya’s phone in case the boy sees them once Shouto’s left.

So Izuku opens Instagram, and types in Shouto’s account, before sending him a direct message.

 

@small.might - goodnight, shouto

@small.might - actually, you won’t see this until tomorrow

@small.might - so, good morning, shouto

 

Izuku puts the phone down and glances at the clock on the other side of his bedroom, where it’s eleven fifty-nine p.m., and wonders where Shouto is right now before he falls into the deepest and most comfortable sleep he’s had in a long time.

He doesn’t even dream of tiger sharks.

Chapter Text

Shouto’s alarm goes off and he gasps, snapping his eyes open.

And before he can even breathe, he instantly knows what’s happened.

“Holy shit!” It escapes him in a whisper as he sits bolt upright, suddenly fighting for air as he glances down at his hands, which are trembling like crazy.

He has to inhale, and exhale again, darting his eyes around the room as he swallows hard. Reaching over to flick on the bedside lamp, he recognises the comic book hero All Might everywhere. Shouto breathes, suddenly hit by a memory that leaves him struggling for air again.

I used to love All Might, he remembers, and his eyes are wide in shock as he gets a fleeting glimpse of reading a comic - and it’s not a memory where he was in someone else’s body.

The memory fades and Shouto’s left breathing heavily and trying not to panic.

“Did I just remember? Did I just remember something from before?” He asks himself, and suddenly squeaks and throws his hands over his mouth when he realises whose voice he just spoke in.

He untangles himself from his covers and inhales hard when he catches his reflection in the window, and he’s frozen as he recognises Izuku.

“Don’t panic. Don’t panic.” He has to say to himself, but deep down, he is panicking, because he’s Izuku. He’s Izuku.

He tilts his head to the ceiling and makes a wailing noise. Why has the universe decided to dump him in Izuku’s body? After yesterday?

Either he’s got incredibly bad luck, or maybe he should make the most of today, and try not to mess up Izuku’s life up more than he has already. Maybe, the universe has actually given him a chance.

A chance for what? He can’t help wondering, and pushes the thought of breaking up with Katsuki for Izuku out of his mind. It’s tempting, but Shouto decides to ignore those thoughts until later today. At the moment, Izuku is late for school.

He skitters across the room, still trying to reign in the mixture of panic and a slight inkling of joy in his heart as he snatches up Izuku’s folded uniform, and is then stood there idiotically with it in his hands.

“What do I do now?” He winces, gazing down at the uniform in horror, although he already knows it has to be done, and he can’t avoid it any longer.

He timidly opens the door to Izuku’s room and glances around. Unlike Momo’s house, this one is small. It looks like an apartment, he realises, although he would never have guessed it from inside Izuku’s bedroom. Shouto gulps, seeing how the door to the bathroom is open, and darts into it.

The showering process is the most painful thing Shouto has ever experienced in his life, because this time he’s not showering in some random kid’s body. He has to clench his jaw and just keep his eyes on the ceiling and try not to panic and die.

He dresses, finally relieved it’s over, and goes back into Izuku’s room to get his bag and school things. As he packs Izuku’s bag with shaking hands, Shouto suddenly realises he hasn’t been greeted by a parent or a sibling yet.

He recalls his conversation with Izuku, suddenly standing still. He’s an only child, Shouto remembers, before suddenly remembering the conversation on the beach.

“His mom’s unwell.” He whispers, and feels himself feeling incredibly upset as he looks on Izuku’s desk, where there’s a photo frame that’s been put face down.

He props it upright, and it’s a  photo of Izuku at maybe four or five hugging and laughing at his mom as the summer sun beats down on them both. Shouto picks it up, looking at it mournfully. His mom looks healthy there. He can’t help wondering what’s gone wrong.

As Shouto puts the photo back down, he wonders who took the photo, and then remembers Izuku saying how his dad left, and he can’t help feeling irrationally angry. How could a man leave such a beautiful family behind? It was horrible. It was disgusting. How could someone not realise how many blessings they had?

If Izuku’s mom was ill, then she might still be sleeping. Shouto left the room, Izuku’s bag slung over his shoulder, and went into the other rooms in the apartment. In the kitchen, he saw all the pills and medication on the side in tens of boxes and bottles, and he clenched his jaw.

He wanted to go and check on Izuku’s mom, but worried that he might make her worse by waking her up, so he quickly grabbed an apple from the side and began eating it as he left Izuku’s apartment and tapped out the route to UA on Izuku’s phone.

Ten minutes. That’s nearer than what Shouto was expecting. He recognises Izuku’s car outside, and gets in, driving to UA slowly, but his thoughts are incredibly loud as he grips at the steering wheel.

“I’m sorry if I mess this up.” He whispers to himself, before pulling into UA and getting out, slamming the door shut and entering the school.

He remembers where Izuku’s locker is, because he’s seen Izuku opening it before as Fumikage. He fumbles around for Izuku’s keys and opens it up, putting a few folders in there and glancing around at what else is hidden behind the metal door.

Shouto looks at the photos blu-tacked on the inside of the door and he can’t help his mouth perking up at the corner slightly as he interprets them. They’re a mixture of things - Izuku as a kid playing with an All Might figure, and there’s one of him and Katsuki together as young children as well. His heart thuds when he recognises the ticket to the aquarium there as well, and the photo of Izuku and Katsuki in front of the jellyfish tank.

As Shouto glances at it, he can’t help noticing how there’s no pictures of his mom. He swallows, remembering how the photograph in Izuku’s room was face down, like he couldn’t bear to look at it.

He turns his attention back to what else is in the locker, and begins fiddling through it, ghosting his fingers over these precious things Izuku’s decided he needs to have in school. He opens a calculator and runs his fingertips over the biro doodles Izuku’s put on the plastic ridges, and flicks through some paper, and holds a very well-loved stuffed grey and white kitten stuffed toy in his hands, brushing his hands through the fur.

He sighs, putting the kitten back in the locker and shutting it slowly, before Shouto immediately senses someone behind him and tenses up on instinct. Katsuki grabs him by the collar and kisses him hard, pressing his back against the lockers. He chokes and tries to pull away, but Katsuki’s being incredibly pushy and isn’t looking like he’s gonna stop any time soon, so all he can do is take it and try not to gag.

Shouto finally realises how much of this Izuku has endured and now he’s on the receiving end of it, he’s incredibly angry.

He finally manages to pull away from Katsuki, who’s smirking down at him as he towers over him, one hand on the lockers just over Shouto’s shoulder.

“You look hot.” Katsuki comments, and Shouto makes an ‘um’ noise, turning away and locking up the locker, feeling Katsuki’s presence burning into his back.

“Okay.” He mutters, and Katsuki leans against the locker.

“Wanna go back to my place?” Katsuki asks, obviously very suggestively, and Shouto scowls, turning back at him.

“No.” He says firmly, putting the keys back in his pocket and making to leave. “I have lessons.”

“I thought you liked it.” Katsuki growls, and suddenly Shouto stiffens, spinning around and glaring at him.

“Like it? Like it? Are you fucking joking?” He spits, jabbing a finger into Katsuki’s shoulder. “If you mean going back to your gross room and sitting around while you play stupid video games - then you’re wrong. If that’s your idea of a good time, then I want nothing to do with it.”

“Jeez, what the hell is wrong with you? What about that day on the beach?” Katsuki scowls, and Shouto’s anger increases tenfold.

“Oh - so now you remember it? Oh - wait, you don’t. You weren’t really there, were you?” Shouto snaps, stalking up to him and glaring right up at the taller boy. “We have never had a good day since then.”

Katsuki’s a mixture of fury and shock as Shouto makes a growling noise, turning away.

“Do me a favour, and don’t talk to me for the rest of the day.” Shouto spits, before storming off down the corridor.

“You’re acting like a girl on her fucking period!” Katsuki bellows down the corridor.

“Congratulations, you’re not a father!” Shouto roars back, before disappearing around the corner, still breathing heavily as his fingers tighten around the straps of his backpack.

He can’t help feeling incredibly lonely as he goes to Izuku’s lessons. Normally, when he feels like this, he’d just message Izuku - but he couldn’t do that, could he? He sighed, barely listening to the biology teacher as he tapped his fingers repetitively on the table.

Ochako pokes him on the shoulder and he grunts, flicking his eyes onto her without moving.

“Did you fall out with Katsuki?” She asks sympathetically, and Shouto doesn’t answer, only shrugging as he turns back to tapping his fingers on the table.

He feels awful for losing his temper with Katsuki. To be fair, Shouto hasn’t had a chance to give the ash blonde a piece of his mind since Momo, and even now he has, he doesn’t feel very good about it. It’s only made him feel more like shit, because Izuku’s going to be so angry with him for losing it.

If anything, Shouto takes slight relief for not getting so mad he broke up with Katsuki. That would make Izuku furious with him. Shouto knew Izuku wasn’t a coward, and decided that Izuku would decide what would happen. That wasn’t something Shouto was allowed to meddle in. This was Izuku’s life, not his.

He goes back to his locker after lessons before he goes home and starts reorganising the stuff in there, but really he just wants to touch the stuffed kitten again because Shouto feels like he’s holding a piece of Izuku’s soul when he’s got that tiny animal in his hands. Katsuki looks absolutely livid from where he’s on the opposite side of the corridor with Kirishima and Kaminari, but doesn’t attempt to approach him. He puts the kitten back in the locker and shuts it.

He sits in Izuku’s car after school on the way home at a red light.

“I’m sorry.” He says to Izuku, sighing and sagging his head. “I lost control. I hope you understand.”

He pulls in and goes back into the apartment, shutting the door quietly when he hears quiet tinkering from inside.

“Izuku?” He hears a female voice, very frail, trembling slightly.

“Hello, Mom.” He replies, kicking off his shoes and dropping his bag in the hallway.

Izuku’s mom starts fussing around him and taking his coat off, and he blinks, but doesn’t struggle, letting her take it off him and she almost looks shocked when he stands there and lets her pull it off his arms.

“Aren’t you going to make me stop?” She asks, looking genuinely surprised, and Shouto’s heart pangs seeing her like that.

“No, Mom.” He replies, taking a few steps and embracing the smaller woman carefully.

She gasps, and it’s not with pain or anything, but with shocked tears. The coat drops to the floor as she hugs him back tightly, her arms barely going around Izuku’s torso. As Shouto hugs her, he can’t help tears welling in his eyes, because Izuku isn’t hugging his mom. Why is he avoiding her? Why is he turning all those photos of her away?

And then he feels Izuku’s mom’s frail breathing, and how her ribs and hips are sticking out where she’s pressed against him, and Shouto knows.

He’s been with many families before. He was a young girl when her father took her to the hospital and her mom was dying.

Shouto had never wanted to not be in someone’s body as much as he had with that girl.

Because in that moment, he’d frozen, seeing this woman riddled with cancer that was invading her bones and blood and making her body deteriorate, and she was heaving for air, the noise rattling in her chest. It was a horrific sound, and Shouto had only gazed in complete horror, clasping at the girl’s father’s hand.

But the worst sound was when the rattling stopped, because that meant she had gone.

Shouto had howled and screamed for that woman like she was his own mother. And it wasn’t just the fact that he’d seen her die - but the fact that he wasn’t meant to be here. This wasn’t his mom, this was the girl’s mom. And he’d stolen her last moments with her mom from her.

Tears began running down his face and he sobs , and Izuku’s mom reaches up to wipe his eyes.

“Why are you crying?” Izuku’s mom asks him, and Shouto looks at her, still choking back sobs.

“I love you, Mom.” He says, and he said it for Izuku, because Izuku needed to say it, and Izuku’s mom needed to hear it.

Izuku’s mom sobs, and they embrace, and Shouto is almost sure he is never going to let go.

And that night, when Shouto goes back upstairs into Izuku’s room, he knows the other deserves an explanation. So he grabs one of Izuku’s notebooks, and begins writing.

He writes late into the night, props up the page on Izuku’s desk against the photo of his mom, and rolls over in bed, and his last thoughts before he drops off were whether he’d done everything right.

 

-

 

Izuku sits up slowly, and he can’t explain why he feels so strange, but he does. He fumbles aroound for his phone and flicks it on, blinking rapidly as he realises it’s the twenty-seventh, not the twenty-sixth. It’s Saturday - and yet, he was certain today was Friday -

He inhales, shock suddenly rushing through his body as he thinks back to yesterday, and the memories all hit him at the same time.

He remembers! He remembers - even though this isn’t him.

He remembers panicking in the shower. He remembers yelling at Katsuki in the corridor. He remembers Ochako tapping him on the shoulder in biology and talking to himself as he sits at the red light and hugging his mom so hard and telling her he loves him -

Izuku chokes back a sob, throwing a hand over his mouth to muffle them as he sits up out of bed. He’s just wondering whether he’s imagined all these memories because that wasn’t him hugging his mom - right?

And then he notices the paper propped up on his desk, and his hand flies towards it as he picks it up, his throat tightening further as he reads it.

 

Hello, Izuku.

So, I was you yesterday. And I tried to leave every memory there for you, because you deserve to have them. Trying to change things as little as possible was difficult - but I did do a week of your homework for you, so, you’re welcome. Might want to recheck those questions on genetics, though.

He smiles through his tears, before continuing to read.

I just want you to know that I didn’t choose to be you. And I wouldn’t choose that, even if I could - because I’ve never woken up in the body of someone I care so much about. It was the best and the most terrifying day of my life so far. But, as I write this, I’m just wondering to myself why? What was the reason? What made me so afraid? And then I realised that -

Izuku has to look up from the paper as tears fall down his face, and he whispers the last words out loud.

“‘You are the reason.’” He breathes, running his fingertips over Shouto’s handwriting. “‘My only reason.’”

There’s silence for a few seconds as Izuku sobs, the last words leaving his mouth in a whisper. “‘Yours, Shouto.’”

Chapter Text

Izuku knows what he has to do. So he runs his fingers over the biro pressed letters in the paper, trying to draw some of Shouto’s essence out of it because this is his handwriting. It’s pure, undiluted Shouto - he’s not trying to replicate anyone’s scrawl here. It’s like he’s physically holding a part of Shouto’s voice in his hands that’s not hidden behind the bodies of random people.

So he exhales shakily, and puts the paper back down on the desk, and quickly gets ready so he can drive to the twenty-four hour waffle house Katsuki works in.

Katsuki’s not doing his job anyway, Izuku correctly predicts, seeing him obviously avoiding his co-workers in the corner of the room and pretending to mop the floor even though it’s pretty obvious he’s on his phone.

He obviously sees Izuku getting out of his car and the blonde drops the mop, going outside. Izuku stands there firmly in the middle of the car park as Katsuki slouches out of the restaurant and his manager yells at him to ask where he’s going.

“I’m going for a fucking smoke!” He roars back, and Izuku flinches, but it’s so early in the morning there’s barely anyone there. The breakfast rush would come later.

Honestly, it’s a shock to Izuku that Katsuki’s managed to keep this job.

“Hey, Deku.” Katsuki says, and Izuku ignores him, going around the corner of the building so they’re out of eye-shot from Katsuki’s manager.

He’s slightly nervous, but the gently weight of the paper in his pocket gives him the courage he needs to cough the words he’s needed to say for so long out.

“I think we need to take a break.” Izuku blurts, his arms folded and his hands under his armpits.

Katsuki’s eyes widen. This is obviously not what he was expecting.

“What?” He manages to say, and Izuku shakes his head, interrupting him before he can get a full sentence out.

“This isn’t working. You and I both know that.” He says firmly but truthfully.

“If this is about yesterday - I - I’m - I’m sorry, I guess -” Katsuki mutters, averting his gaze, but Izuku sighs, turning away slightly.

“Kacchan, it’s not about yesterday. It never was about yesterday. It’s about tomorrow.” Izuku says, and Katsuki flicks his eyes onto him again.

“Tomorrow?”

“Yeah. Like - is tomorrow going to be the same? Just - you shouting and me being quiet and that ‘connection’ that I thought we had and that you think we have just not being there.” Izuku explains, and Katsuki looks a mixture of shocked and furious. “We’re not meant for each other.”

“But - we were friends as kids -”

“Were we, though?” Izuku presses. “Or was it you and your friends constantly picking on me and bullying me and anyone you thought would be an easy kill?”

Katsuki’s silent, and Izuku sighs, turning away again.

“Listen, Kacchan. The truth is - I’ve had enough. I’m sorry.” Izuku says, looking at him because he hates doing this and his heart is racing.

“What are you saying?” Katsuki says in a low voice.

“He’s breaking up with you, idiot.” Kirishima says from the window inside the waffle house, and Katsuki makes a snarling noise, banging a fist on the glass as his breathing becomes louder and more ragged.

Izuku blinks at the window with a tiny smile of amusement. Kirishima works here too, he already knows that, but finds it amusing that the red-head was eavesdropping on them anyway. Katsuki’s shoulders are shaking slightly, but he isn’t crying.

“Kacchan -” Izuku says, reaching for his shoulder, but Katsuki moves away and stalks off around the corner.

“Whatever.” He hears the blonde say before he vanishes back into the waffle house and Izuku’s left alone in the car park.

But despite the fact that the morning air is cold, Izuku is so light and warm he could fly. He darts back into his car, shutting the door and putting both hands on the steering wheel, before exhaling so his lungs completely empty.

He’s there for a few seconds, waiting for regret or sadness or something to suddenly edge in, but it doesn’t. Izuku whips out his phone, seeing that Shouto’s messaged him another apology, and he calls him, tapping a fingernail on the steering wheel as the dialing tone rings in his ear.

“Hello?”

“Hey.” Izuku replies, still breathless.

“Are you okay? You sound out of breath.” Shouto says, and his voice is male, but Izuku doesn’t recognise it immediately, although it does ignite a hint of recognition in his stomach.

“I’m fine!” Izuku smiles, and Shouto makes a noise.

“Did you get my message? I’m sorry if I made everything so much worse for you -”

“Are you kidding me? I woke up this morning feeling clearer than I ever have before.” Izuku replies, smiling into the phone.

“Really?” And Shouto sounds so relieved Izuku’s almost annoyed at him, because he knows that Shouto would never have anything other than Izuku’s best interests at mind.

And really, Shouto’s got a lot more right in one day than Izuku has in five years. Maybe travelling around and seeing so many lives and experiencing so much and seeing everything through thousands of different pairs of eyes has filled Shouto with wisdom that Izuku cannot possibly begin to imagine.

“Yes, really.” Izuku says, feeling the note crinkle in his pocket. “Thank you.”

There’s silence on the other end of the line but Izuku can hear Shouto’s breathing hitch slightly.

“Can we meet?” Shouto says, and there’s a desperation in his voice that makes Izuku blink.

“Do you have anyplace in mind?” Izuku begins saying, before his eyes widen as a thought enters his brain. “Actually - wait. I have an idea. My mom’s got a hospital appointment today so we can go somewhere. Just us.”

“Just us?” Shouto echoes, and Izuku suddenly starts getting a little excited.

“Yes. My uncle owns a cabin way out of town. He never uses it at this time of year - we can go there?” Izuku asks, and he can almost hear Shouto smiling on the other end of the line. “A whole weekend with no interruptions.”

“Okay.” Shouto says, and Izuku’s stomach jolts when he finally recognises the voice.

“You’re joking.” He whispers, and Shouto smirks, obviously just realising that Izuku’s noticed.

“You better believe it.” Shouto says back in that uncanny voice, and Izuku manages to squeak out something along the lines of ‘Kacchan’s gonna murder me.’

He drives home, grabbing his schoolbag and emptying it onto the floor before stuffing random stuff in there that he might need for a two day trip - a book, his notebook, a single pen and pencil, a few toiletries and his toothbrush, and a clothing change. By the time he’s written a quick note to his mom on the table and grabbed his jacket, Shouto’s pulled up outside the apartment in a blue truck, and Izuku darts outside, running his hand shakily through his hair as he goes down the stairs.

Tossing his bag into the back and hopping into the passenger seat, the truck’s engine rumbles again, and Shouto begins driving again.

There’s silence as they drive through town and out of the suburbs into the winding country roads. It’s only then that Izuku finally moves, taking the hand that’s rested on the gear stick as Shouto leans back and moves the steering wheel with the other.

Shouto’s eyebrows raise up slightly but he doesn’t take his eyes off the road as he obliges and wraps his fingers around Izuku’s.

“Thanks for not breaking up with Kacchan.” Izuku finally says, and Shouto snorts, mischief entering his eyes which Izuku is very, very used to seeing in that particular person.

“Not going to lie - it was one of the hardest things I had to do in my life.” Shouto replies, brushing a thumb over the back of Izuku’s hand.

Izuku laughs softly, unravelling Shouto’s fingers and running his own down the creases in his hands and interweaving his own with them to make a criss cross pattern. He snorts softly, and Shouto gives him a side glance.

“What?”

“Nothing.” Izuku replies, still engrossed in holding Shouto’s hand.

“Seriously, what?” Shouto smiles softly, and Izuku finally looks up at him, where he’s gazing at him with bright golden eyes.

“Your hand feels different.” Izuku says in reply, and Shouto smiles, tightening his fingers around Izuku’s.

“Yours feels the same.” Shouto responds, and Izuku smiles, not letting go of his han.

Shouto keeps driving, and doesn’t let go of his either.

Being sat in a truck with someone Izuku sees every day but doesn’t really know that well is very strange, especially when holding hands in shared silence seems incredibly intimate. But Izuku’s learnt to see past the body Shouto’s in and recognises that flame in his eyes that seems to transcend every single body he’s ever seen Shouto in.

They pull up the country track deep into the woods and the truck parks outside the wooden cabin. Izuku jumps out and inhales the forest air while Shouto’s scrabbling around for his and Izuku’s bags.

“Will your uncle be okay with us being here?” Shouto asks as Izuku runs up the wooden deck surrounding it and leans on the balcony out into the trees.

“It’s two days - he’s out of the state too. He won’t even know.” Izuku says, turning to Shouto as he comes up the stairs looking perfectly stupid and adorable with a backpack over each shoulder.

He smiles softly and begins unlocking the front door because his mom has a spare key for the cabin - not that Izuku thinks she can remember. He found the key behind a photo frame on a bookshelf in the living room. She must have moved it without realising it.

“So this is our weekend?” Shouto asks, and Izuku turns from where he’s unlocking the door and sees him leaning on the back of the railing looking so oblivious to how adorable he looks.

“Yeah.” Izuku replies, before walking up to him and grabbing him by the collar so their lips touch. “It’s our weekend.”

Shouto seems shocked at the sudden movement but quickly responds, pushing into the kiss. Finally, they break apart, with Izuku smiling and going back to finish unlocking the door. Shouto’s eyes are wide and his cheeks are slightly flushed.

“Did you do that because Kaminari’s hot?” He said in a soft voice, still looking very surprised, and Izuku snorted, brushing him on the nose with a fingertip.

“No. I did that because you’re Shouto.” He replied honestly, before smirking as he broke away and continued unlocking the door. “And maybe ten percent because Kaminari’s hot.” Izuku added cheekily before disappearing inside.

Shouto snorts with laughter before following him inside, where Izuku’s dumped their bags on the side and is beginning to tinker around the kitchen, stacking up some plates by the sink.

“So - yesterday.” Shouto starts, standing there and leaning on the counter as Izuku clinks some ceramic together. “You really remember everything?”

“Yeah. It was like I went to bed Thursday night and woke up Saturday, but with all these memories.” Izuku says, glancing up at Shouto with a plate in his hand. “But you were in them.”

Shouto glances at him and it’s incredibly strange seeing Kaminari stood there in this private place with him, but it doesn’t take Izuku longer than a second to read deeper into the eyes that belong to one person and the mind that belongs to someone else. Someone who Izuku finds he cares about more than anything.

And Izuku’s finding out a lot about Shouto’s personality from how different he’s behaving from the personality of the person he’s inhabiting. Kaminari is loud, joyful, always smiling and beaming and joking around and just being an idiot - a hellishly likeable idiot - Izuku doesn’t know for the life of him why he chooses to be friends with Katsuki, and why Katsuki hasn’t murdered him yet.

But Shouto is soft, draws himself upright but his shoulders are relaxed, and he gives off such a calm aura it’s so refreshing for Izuku to bask in. He smiles at Shouto, who coughs slightly and averts his gaze.

“Was it weird?” Shouto asks, and Izuku stops for a second, having to think about it.

“No.” Izuku says, turning back to face him. “It was - amazing.”

Shouto looks genuinely surprised at this, and Izuku turns, heading into the next room, which is a mixture of the bedroom and the living room. Shouto follows him, still silent as Izuku continues to speak.

“Shouto, I really think you should let more people remember you.” Izuku says. “I think you should leave more memories behind for people, instead of just wiping them away before you go - because what you do for them is beautiful. You should leave more of a mark - because you’re such a bright, beautiful, kind -”

“Thing.” Shouto interrupts, a sombre look edging onto Kaminari’s face as Izuku turns around, and he can’t help slight shock and sadness entering his voice.

“I was going to say ‘person’.” Izuku says to him, turning to face him. “Because that’s what you think you were, right?”

“But I’m not now -”

“Yes, you are.” Izuku insists, getting a little indignant. “You don’t need a permanent body to be a person, Shouto.”

Shouto sighs, suddenly turning away and walking towards the window. “You’re not freaked out and angry that when we first met I kissed you and you told me all that personal stuff?  Without knowing I was there?”

Izuku blinks at him as he sits down on the couch, and he walks over to sit next to him.

“You must kiss a lot of people.” He says in a low voice, inching in a little closer.

Shouto’s eyes are wide but they suddenly fall shut as Izuku closes the gap.

They suddenly break apart, and Shouto sighs, flicking his gaze away. “Yeah. I’ve been a lot of boyfriends and a lot of girlfriends. But how does that not sound terrible to you? Everything about it is wrong -”

Izuku shushes him quietly, putting a finger on his lips. “I think it sounds amazing.”

They later head off down to the lake where there’s a dock, and as they walk down it, Shouto’s slung his jumper over his shoulder and they’re both carrying their shoes so they’re barefoot.

“So, why midnight?” Izuku asks him, referring to the change. He’s been curious about this for a while but there’s been no good time to ask Shouto about this. But they’re here, and they’re alone, and there are no walls between them.

“I get 24 hours exactly in each body. And after that -” Shouto replies, shrugging his shoulders as they keep walking. “I get pushed out.”

“Pushed out?”

“By the person who’s place I’m taking.” Shouto explains, as they reach the end of the dock and sit down, letting their feet dangle in the cold water. “I don’t know. They return - and that’s just what it feels like. I’m forced out - there isn’t enough room for two people in one body.”

“But…” Izuku trails off, glancing at the ripples his feet are making in the water. “What happens if you push back?”

“I don’t.” Shouto replies, sighing and looking at his knees. “When it’s time to go, I go. It’s not my body, and it’s not my life.”

Izuku nods at that response, because it makes sense, and they link hands and sit there for several hours until the setting sun turns the lake into molten gold.

And then, as it gets late, Shouto has to get Kaminari back home for the exchange. He promises Izuku faithfully that the second he wakes up, he’ll come back for the next day.

“See you tomorrow.” Izuku says, because he means it, and Shouto looks startled at the words, because really, Izuku knows this is the first time anyone has ever said this to him and meant it.

And for a second, Shouto’s eyes are full of an emotion that Izuku can’t put a name on for the life of him, but it’s filled with such promise and love and something else he can’t interpret, but it makes his heart speed and his knees weak and for a second as he watches Kaminari’s truck pull out of sight all he can think about is how much he misses Shouto.

But he’ll come back tomorrow.

 

-

 

Shouto does not come back tomorrow.

Chapter Text

As Izuku watches Kaminari’s truck pull out, he stands there for almost ten minutes in the cold evening air, even when Shouto’s long gone and the truck is well out of sight by now. He sighs, rubbing at his arms and trying to ignore the crushing sadness, but he forces himself to stand up straight and go back into the cabin to escape the cold and the mosquitos.

He lights the wood-fire and busies himself by moving stuff around the kitchen and generally tidying things up. It’s a habit he’s definitely gotten from cleaning up after his mom. She’s not in the right frame of mind, and she’s always incredibly confused, so she ends up ‘tidying’ and just moving things into the wrong places. One time Izuku found his toothbrush in the washing machine, so when he’s at home he just moves everything back without complaining.

But here, everything’s in order, and everything’s just how it should be. There’s nothing for Izuku to tidy, which is definitely strange for him because he always sets the apartment straight when his thoughts are loud or when his emotions are too strong.

Thunder rumbles, and he flinches, suddenly wishing Shouto was here with him and that he’d forced him to stay. But that would have caused a lot more problems than Izuku would have been able to fix. If Shouto had stayed, and midnight the real Kaminari would have come back and probably started freaking out at how he’s suddenly in a wooden cabin with his friend’s ex-boyfriend with no recollection of how he got there.

So Izuku decides that he’ll sleep out the thunderstorm and the sadness that Shouto has had to go, and can look forward to the fact that when he wakes up he’ll be back.

The thunder is loud and the rain is even louder on the wooden cabin, and Izuku tosses and turns all night, and the fear and sadness is so overwhelming, knowing that he’ll probably never be able to go to sleep with Shouto’s arm over his side and waking up to see him again.

He manages to sleep a few hours, but his dreams are troubled, so when he rolls over and paws around for his phone, he squints at the bright screen and sees that it’s 2am.

Shouto will have switched by now, he realises, and opens up Instagram to try and DM him. Maybe he’ll hear and he’ll reply - there’s no way Izuku can possibly text or call Shouto first, so maybe if he tries to let him know then he’ll call Izuku -

There’s no internet, and Izuku curses, sitting up and kicking the covers off to go near the fire with a blanket around his shoulders. He’ll wait the storm out and distract himself until Shouto gets back.

So Izuku sits in front of the fire and reads his book, and he can’t help jumping and looking up as every lighning bolt flashes in the stormy sky, mistaking the light for headlights, and always feeling incredibly disappointed and slightly more afraid than before as he glances out of the window, before returning to his book.

The book isn’t enough of a distraction from the storm. He forces himself to keep reading, page after page, before finally he’s turned the last page and finished the book. The storm thrashes and howls outside, and Izuku swallows, glancing at his phone and seeing it’s 7am. Shouto still isn’t here, and it’s still dark because of the storm clouds.

He shivers, and pulls the blanket tighter around his shoulders and waits, finding another random book on the shelves and beginning to read that one too.

By 10am, he’s beginning to feel sick with fear and worry. Shouto still isn’t here. Shouto still hasn’t contacted him.

He opens the door and goes out onto the balcony, flinching with the blanket around himself as the thunder rumbles and the rain lashes down, but he stays relatively dry under the sheltered roof. There are no headlights. There is no Shouto.

He glances at his phone again, beginning to tremble with fear, and there are no messages or calls from anyone.

The storm is still howling and rumbling at 1pm, and Izuku’s so afraid he can’t take it anymore being alone. He hasn’t eaten, and he’s feeling physically sick with worry and terror as the wind screeches again.

He cracks. Izuku takes out his phone, and dials a number.

The drive back is incredibly awkward. Izuku’s limp in the passenger seat, completely numb as he leans on his elbow and glances out at the window. Ochako isn’t smiling, and although Izuku knows she’s trying to remain calm, she isn’t happy about this. Her knuckles are turning white around the steering wheel.

Izuku hears her fingernails tapping on the wheel.

“Ochako, I’m sorry -” He finally begins to say in a cracking voice, and Ochako’s face steels.

“Listen - any other day, I would have been happy to save your ass - but ringing me in the middle of my family lunch isn’t okay, and asking me to drive three hours in dangerous weather to pick you up?” Ochako says, bringing her eyebrows together. “I literally stole my dad’s car. He’s going to ground me for months -”

“I’m sorry - I was just alone and I had no way of getting home -” Izuku whispers, and Ochako’s face is set, and she doesn’t take her eyes off the road to look at him. “I didn’t have anyone to turn to.”

Ochako flinches slightly at those words, because she knows that. Izuku’s mom is in hospital, and even if she wasn’t, she is in no condition to drive. Izuku’s dad is out of the question, and he couldn’t have rung Katsuki after their messy breakup. Ochako really was his lifeline in this situation, and Izuku felt wretchedly guilty at practically forcing her to pick him up.

“Just - next time you decide to randomly take a vacation on your own, be a little more considerate of other people.” Ochako says in a flat voice as she drives, and Izuku sighs, turning away to look out of the window again.

They don’t speak for the rest of the journey.

Izuku stumbles into the dark, empty apartment, and finally begins crying, glancing at his phone. There’s still nothing from Shouto. He goes onto his DMs with Shouto and his shaking hands can barely type any words.

 

@smallmight - shoiuto where were you

@smallmight - hsjouto

@smallmight - shaouto pleadese

@smallmight - im not angry please i jsut need to knwo youer ok

@smallmight - PLEASE SHOUTO

@smallmight - SHOITO PLEASE INM ALONE AND SCARED AND I DNOT KNOW IF YOURE OK

 

Izuku’s tears are falling on the screen and he yells, trying to wipe them off but all he manages to do is accidentally exit out of the app and he sobs, tossing the phone aside and rushing back up to his room and opening up his laptop.

r/possessedbyother is still open from the last time Izuku was looking through it and wondering how many of them were Shouto, and he begins typing again.

 

SHOUTO COME BACK

SHOUTO COME BACK

SHOUTO COME BACK

SHOUTO COME BACK

SHOUTO COME BACK

SHOUTO COME BACK

 

He gets blocked from the subreddit for spamming, and Izuku sobs loudly, slamming the lid of the laptop shut before throwing himself onto his bed and curling up.

He’s forgotten about you. He doesn’t like you. He hates you. The voices say to Izuku, and he swats them away with a screech, covering his ears with his pillow.

No, he’s dead. He’s died. He didn’t pass onto the next body. He’s gone forever. They mock and spit at him, and Izuku’s crying and screaming as he tries to block them out.

What if this whole thing still is a joke? Stupid, gullible Izuku kissing any person he wants and believing it’s someone who doesn’t exist. Who never existed.

“Stop it!” Izuku wails into his pillow, but they don’t stop.

He’s left you just like everyone else.

The last thing he hears before he goes to sleep is his own ragged breathing.

 

-

 

Shouto wakes up with a gasp and sits up. He’s sweating heavily, like he’s been having awful dreams, but Shouto doesn’t dream. He can’t have dreams because of the exchange.

But he knows his nightmare was real.

“Izuku.” He whispers, fear and horror suddenly washing over him when he remembers yesterday.

He didn’t go back. He hadn’t gone back for Izuku. And now Izuku probably hates him. He’s done it now. Shouto’s a failure. He didn’t fulfil the one promise he’s ever made to someone and now he’s probably lost the only person he’s cared about forever.

“I need to find him.” He breathes, glancing around his surroundings and looking for a phone. “I have to tell him why I wasn’t there yesterday -”

“Hanta! I thought you were already up and showered -” A woman yells from outside, and Shouto flinches, gasping and looking dead ahead as the woman rushes past with a suitcase. “For God’s sake - we’re going to miss our flight -”

A cold shock jolts through him so fast he think he might projectile vomit.

“Flight?” Shouto’s eyes widen and he suddenly can’t breathe.

No. No. NO. NONONONONO -

This cannot be happening. Shouto cannot get on that flight.

“I’m sorry, Hanta.” Shouto gasps, scrambling so fast out of bed and grabbing Hanta’s phone that he think he might faint from being so light-headed.

Hanta’s mom and dad are rushing around with their suitcases and Shouto know he can’t run out of the front door. He’ll get stopped right away.

So he turns his attention to the window and he’s so overwhelmed with panic he doesn’t even care that he’s literally clambering out of a second floor window in his pyjamas. He squeezes Hanta’s skinny body through and there’s a second where he’s hanging from the windowsill for a few seconds. It starts splintering under his fingertips.

Shouto’s eyes widen in horror.

It shatters and Shouto falls to the floor with a grunt, landing in a bush that cushions his fall but it still knocks the wind out of him. As he sits up with his vision swimming and his eyes rolling around in his skull, he begins typing in Izuku’s number with one hand as he wobbles to his feet.

“Hanta? What are you -” Hanta’s dad begins saying, obviously putting suitcases in the car as he turns to see his son sat in a bush under his window.

Shouto panics, and runs.

“Hanta? Hanta?!” Shouto hears the boy’s mom screech as he’s running down the road in his slippers with Hanta’s phone to his ear as it calls Izuku’s number.

The dialling tone cuts and Shouto almost cries out in relief as he hears Izuku’s voice cut through. “Hello?”

“Izuku! Thank God.” He gasps, still focusing on sprinting away from Hanta’s furious and panicking parents. “Can you pick me up -”

Izuku’s voice was previously flat and full of no emotion, but he suddenly picks up on the panic in Shouto’s voice. “Are - are you running?”

“This kid’s family’s flying somewhere else - and if I go, I’ll wake up as a kid in a different state who’s not flying back here -” Shouto gasps, still forcing himself to keep running and talking through his heavy breathing as Hanta’s mom screeches in the background, still chasing him down the road.

“Where are you?” Izuku gasps, and Shouto hears him shuffling and panicking on the other end of the line.

Shouto knows there’s a shopping centre near here and tells Izuku to meet him in the parking lot before having to gasp for air.

“Jesus Christ, this kid does not exercise -” He manages to choke out, feeling his lungs tightening up. despite Hanta’s build, his stamina isn’t great and Shouto’s definitely struggling to outrun Hanta’s furious parents.

He makes it to the car park and is sat on a kerb numbly, running a hand through Hanta’s sleep-tangled hair as he taps through the stuff on Hanta’s phone to pass the time and to stop his hands from shaking in fear.

A car pulls up on the other side of the lot and as Shouto turns to face it, his eyes widen in horror when he recognises the car.

“Hanta?!” Hanta’s mom screeches, getting out of the car and running towards him.

“Shit!” Shouto gasps, scrambling to his feet and feeling his lungs complain at the prospect of having to run again.

Hanta’s mom speeds up, still yelling his name as Shouto flags down Izuku’s car, which is screeching into the parking lot.

“Don’t stop! Keep going!” He yells at Izuku through his window as he’s running past a row of cars.

Izuku’s driving parallel to him with the row of parked cars in between them, and Shouto’s still yelling at him to keep driving as Hanta’s mom shoots after him.

“What? I can’t hear you!” Izuku’s yelling out of his window, still driving and trying to look at Shouto.

Shouto can’t catch up, and curses Hanta’s stamina, knowing he’s not going to be able to leap in the moving car without dying of an asthma attack. He waves his arms.

“Stop! Stop!” Shouto shrieks, and Izuku manages to yell out a ‘What?!’ before slamming on the brakes.

The tires squeak and Shouto hears Izuku yelling ‘Shit! Shit! Shit!’ as his car scrapes a lamp post and takes off one of the wing mirrors.

“Hanta!” Hanta’s mom howls, still chasing after him, and Shouto skids around, grabbing the broken wing mirror off the ground. “Get back here!”

“I got it!” Shouto puffs with a gasp, tossing the wing mirror into Izuku’s car before leaping into the passenger seat. “GO! GO!”

Izuku changes the gears with a crunch, still cursing as the tires squeal and they shoot out of the parking lot at over double the speed limit, still with Hanta’s mom chasing after them with loud screams of ‘Where are you taking my son?!’

Izuku is silent and furious as he drives back to his apartment. Shouto internally panics, worrying that them being seen by someone would instil a lot of questions, but remembers Izuku’s mom is still in hospital and they’ll be alone.  Shouto flinches, and he only speaks when they get out of the car.

“Listen - I’m sorry -” Shouto begins saying, handing him the broken wing mirror, but Izuku glares at him, snatching it off him roughly.

“It had to be done!” Izuku snaps, tossing the broken piece back on the seat. “You could have ended up in Hawaii.” He slams the car door hard, before stalking up to him, still furious. “Where were you, anyway?!”

“I couldn’t get there.” Shouto says with distress on his voice because he hates seeing Izuku like this.

“I was alone! And cold and afraid and all I wanted was to be with you!” Izuku cries out, his voice cracking as he pushes past Shouto and begins opening the door of the apartment with shaking hands. “And I don’t know what I would have done if Ochako hadn’t picked me up - I was stranded and could barely contact anyone -”

“Ochako?” He whispers, trailing him as Izuku pushes into the empty apartment.

“And she’s pissed at me too - where the hell were you, Shouto?” Izuku spits at him over his shoulder, and Shouto flinches, turning his face away.

“They gave me a lung transplant.”

“Shut up.” Izuku scoffs, tossing his schoolbag onto the floor with a lot more force than necessary. Shouto feels guilt wrap him up again, because Izuku’s probably shot out of lessons just to come and pick him up -

“I was a girl. She was in hospital after a transplant. I woke up in the evening from the anesthetic.” Shout begins pleading with him, his voice trailing off as Izuku seethes. “I had no way to contact you - they wouldn’t give me a phone -”

Izuku’s fury suddenly falls off his face as he turns around, looking at him with wide, horrified eyes. “Are you serious?”

“Yes.” Shouto whispers, and Izuku suddenly sighs, sagging his shoulders as he sits down hard on the sofa.

“I’m sorry, this is all my fault.” Izuku mumbles into his hands, and Shouto blinks at him. “The weekend was my terrible idea -”

“I don’t think it was a terrible idea.” Shouto whispers, and Izuku looks up at him with tearful eyes.

“No - I  - I just - I guess what I mean to say is that we need to be more careful.” Izuku says back, snuffling and wiping at his eyes as Shouto sits down next to him.

There’s silence for a few seconds, and Shouto gently takes Izuku’s limp hand, weaving his fingers with his own. Izuku looks up in surprise, before relaxing into it.

“I thought you’d left.” Izuku whispers, and Shouto looks at him with a slightly tight throat.

“I’d never leave.” He breathes back, and Izuku lets out a watery laugh, leaning his head on Shouto’s shoulder.

“I mean - except for every day.” Izuku laughs softly, and Shouto silently agrees as he leans back into it and tightens his grip around Izuku’s hand, feeling the other’s pulse through his fingertips.

There’s silence again and Shouto finally speaks, feeling his voice crack slightly.

“Do you think we can keep doing this?” He asks Izuku, who looks up at him with an emotion in his eyes that Shouto can’t read. “I mean - despite not knowing who I’ll be or where I’m going to show up next?”

“We’ll figure this out. I promise.” Izuku breathes to him, inching his face slightly closer, and Shouto closes the gap.

They sit there for a long time, but Shouto feels like it’s passed in front of his eyes faster than a butterfly’s wing beat.

Chapter Text

Shouto wakes up slowly, and immediately realises something isn’t right. He blinks hard, trying to adjust his eyes to the dim light and coughs, putting a fist to his mouth as he sits upright. It’s only then that he looks down at his hands for the first time and his eyes widen in horror.

“Oh, God.” He breathes, tearing his eyes from his hands to look for a phone.

For the first time probably ever in Shouto’s life, he’s so afraid of being in someone else’s body that he can’t deal with it. He inhales slowly, thinking about his options. He doesn’t want to bother Izuku again. He’s already promised himself not to cause another repeat of yesterday.

But Shouto feels more alone than he ever has in his life. He’s afraid, and for a fleeting second he knows how Izuku felt that night he’d failed to return to the cabin.

Shouto doesn’t know what to do. He can’t deal with this on his own.

He holds the phone in his hands for a few seconds, and dials before he can change his mind.

 

-

 

“You’re incredibly lucky Aizawa isn’t here.” The substitute homeroom teacher says, frowning at the register as Izuku stands there nervously at the desk. “Because I’m stupidly nice, I’m going to excuse you for yesterday’s absence - but that doesn’t mean Aizawa won’t punish you when he gets back, okay?”

Aizawa’s off for medical reasons, although Izuku doesn’t know specifics.

“Yes, sir.” Izuku says, bowing respectfully, and the teacher sighs, waving him off as the bell goes.

“You can’t let it happen again.” The teacher calls as Izuku leaves the empty classroom.

“It won’t.” Izuku says over his shoulder.

Ochako’s waiting for him in the corridor. He forces a smile at her as she takes his other side and they begin going down the stairs to go to their lesson. Izuku swallows, feeling slightly uncomfortable as he runs his hand down the bannister of the staircase.

“Where were you yesterday?” Ochako asks him, and Izuku shrugs, averting his gaze.

“I was on my way to school and just decided I didn’t want to go. Y’know, with mom being in hospital and all.” He lies on the spot, and it’s only slightly untrue.

When Izuku had received Shout’s panicked call he’d been at a red light, already late for school and feeling incredibly depressed and tired at all the events that have been happening lately, so he did an illegal u-turn to drive away from school to rescue Shouto’s sorry ass from getting beaten by his host body’s furious mom.

But really, Izuku doesn’t regret it much. Yeah, he was angry at first, and his car got damaged in the process, but those few hours together afterwards were desperately needed by both of them. At least both Shouto and Izuku are on the same page now.

“And why the heck did you hook up with Kaminari?” Ochako suddenly demands, and Izuku flinches internally as his blood runs cold, but miraculously manages to keep a blank look on his face.

“I didn’t.” He says to her, his face steely as he turns to her.

“Kirishima says he finished his shift at the waffle house and on his way home he swears he saw you and Kaminari in his truck -”

Izuku cuts in, slightly indignant now. “And I’m saying we didn’t. Since when has Kaminari ever showed any romantic interest in me? Do you think he’d risk that only hours after I broke up with Kacchan?”

Ochako’s eyes are slightly wide. “Um -”

“This is all complete bullshit. Did you maybe ask Kaminari about that day? What does he have to say about it?” Izuku demands, knowing what the answer is going to be.

“He insists he didn’t -” Ochako begins.

“Then there’s your answer! I didn’t hook up with Kaminari. Mystery solved.” Izuku says, trying not to sound too exasperated but Ochako looks incredibly embarrassed and annoyed now.

“But - it doesn’t make any sense - Deku - this random holiday you took on your own is nothing you’d normally do -”

“Why is this suddenly everyone’s business?” Izuku mutters, scowling at her. “Listen, I’m sorry I had to call you but -” He lies again. “The bus I took there switched routes because of the storm. And the reason for the vacation is because nobody is getting off my back for breaking up with an idiot boyfriend, no dad because he walked out, and having a dying mom.” He spits the last words, glaring at her with ragged breaths.

He’s left out Shouto in that sentence because Ochako wouldn’t understand. She couldn’t possibly comprehend it.

I’m in love with someone who changes bodies every day. Always our age, never too far away from the last, and never the same person twice.

He could say it. But he doesn’t.

Ochako flinches physically, and she looks up at him slightly tearfully. “I’m sorry. I know it’s not anyone’s business - but I thought it might be mine because you’re my friend -”

“Well - it’s not!” Izuku scowls, and Ochako takes a step back in shock.

“I know you’re going through a hard time, but pushing me away isn’t going to help, Deku -” Ochako whispers, and they’re stood there in the corridor as other students weave around them to get to their lessons.

“A hard time?” Izuku scoffs, glaring at her again as he throws his hands into the air. “You have never had to worry about anything - except maybe your stupid fucking family dinners - well, news flash! I don’t have a family -”

Ochako suddenly snaps, tears running down her face as she shrieks.

“I worry about those family dinners because most of the time we can’t fucking afford food!” She screams, pushing him back so he steps backwards sharply into the lockers. “You’re ungrateful and insensitive. All you complain about is me me me and you’ve never once considered my problems once!”

Izuku glares at her, and she shoots a murderous gaze back as she breathes heavily and wipes tears from her face. Ochako’s fury remains on her face for a second longer before her face crumples and she sobs, wiping her face rapidly as she turns away.

Izuku blinks, reaching out for her, but she slaps his hand away hard.

“Leave me the fuck alone.” Ochako spits, before stalking away down the corridor away from him.

He watches her go numbly for a few seconds, before his phone begins vibrating and he sighs, reaching for it and glancing at the caller screen. His eyes widen when it’s an unknown number.

Yesterday, Shouto and Izuku agreed that Shouto would not ring first unless it was an absolute emergency. Anything else would come through text during school hours, and after school ringing was okay.

But Shouto was ringing him now, and Izuku suddenly wonders whether Shouto’s already broken the rule for the sake of it. But he doesn’t think Shouto is one who breaks promises a day after making them, so he answers the phone, walking the opposite way down the corridor.

“Hello?”

“Is it you?” He asks, and Shouto sighs in relief on the other end of the line before answering with a quick ‘yeah’. His voice is male and he sounds utterly terrified, and Izuku’s heart suddenly speeds up. “Are you okay?”

“No - well, I am. He isn’t.” Shouto’s voice drops down to a whisper. “I don’t know what to do -”

“Wait - what’s wrong with him?” Izuku demands, suddenly forgetting school in an instant and beginning to speed up in a run to get to his car.

“His thoughts. They’re so -” He can hear Shouto shudder as his voice catches. “In all my time in different bodies - I’ve never felt thoughts this awful.”

Izuku’s had his share of dark thoughts, but from the way Shouto’s voice is quavering, things must be pretty bad.

“Hold on. I’m on my way.” Izuku says breathlessly, jumping into the car and tossing his bag onto the passenger seat.

“No - don’t - you’ll miss school again -”

“I’m not doing biology when you need help. Or if he needs help.” Izuku says, and he drives to the address Shouto gives him.

Shouto opens the door for him, and it looks like he’s been crying. Izuku’s never seen a boy look so physically tired before. The canyons under his eyes betray the dark cloud hovering in his brain that Shouto’s already described to him.

The house is dark. There are no lights on. Shouto goes to sit on the couch, sagging his head as Izuku sits next to him. The extreme fatigue that must be in that boy’s body is probably affecting Shouto too.

Izuku swallows hard as Shouto’s fingers flit to his own forearms, where scar tissue cuts the skin in parallel lines. Shouto sees Izuku watching him and tries to cover the scars. One of them looks fresh, like it was done the night before.

“It’s that bad?” Izuku whispers, and Shouto nods weakly.

“I knew his thoughts were bad. Everything is so wrong. He can’t sleep. He can’t eat. I think that last night was the first time in a week he’s actually slept.” Shouto says in a low voice, pulling his sleeves down. “Maybe about an hour ago I got one of his notebooks to try and draw something cheerful but -”

“But?” Izuku whispers, and Shouto’s face crumples and he tries to brush stray locks of purple hair from his face as he reaches over and passes Izuku one of the notebooks that he must have brought down from upstairs.

“That’s where he’s got it all down.” Shouto whispers, and Izuku swallows hard, glancing at the front of the book.

Hitoshi. He sees the name written on the top corner, and he opens it, expecting it to be full of notes or a diary or something, but his heart suddenly judders to a stop and his blood runs cold.

The notebook is full of artwork. But it’s not artwork Izuku ever wants to see again. It’s all drawn in pure black ink. Pure dark emotion pouring onto the page in the shapes of broken, twisted trees with ropes hanging from them. A pill bottle with the tablets spilling out. A bathtub with water spilling from it, except it’s full of words. They’re dark and horrific, and they’re everything that this boy must be feeling and it’s full of despair and this crushing defeat and hatred for himself that Izuku can’t read them past his blurring vision. He shuts the book, unable to look at them any longer.

“Do you know when?” He asks, but his mouth is dry and his voice keeps catching. “Do you know when he’s going - he’s going to try?”

Shouto hangs his head, and there are slight tears in his eyes. “No. But he’s got it all planned out. If his father finds his pills he’s going to drive his car off a bridge.”

Izuku stands up, and his knees and hands are shaking as he turns to face Shouto.

“Where is his dad?” He asks in a low voice, seeing how the house is completely empty aside from this lone boy and his demons that are obviously locking their black claws deep into his mind.

“He’s in surgery until five a.m. He’s not getting out of hospital until tomorrow morning.” Shouto’s voice is trembling a lot now.

“You’ve got to stop him.” Izuku says, moving over closer to him and weaving his fingers around Shouto’s.

“There’s nothing I can do.” Shouto whispers, and Izuku’s suddenly angry.

“You don’t believe that. Call his father? Call a counselor or something?” Izuku demands, suddenly wanting to cry in frustration and panic.

Shouto shakes his head slowly again, casting his gaze on the floor. “It’s Hitoshi’s life, not mine.”

“How is that right?” Izuku whispers, squeezing his hand tightly. “If Hitoshi was going to kill someone, what would you do?”

“I’d turn him in -” Shouto begins, but Izuku cuts him off.

“Then how is this different? You have to stop him before he goes through with it!” Izuku’s on the verge of shouting through his furious tears and he stands up, having to pace a little and fold his arms in anxiety.

“It -” Shouto trails off, silent tears running down his own face. “It’s not fair of me to do something that makes up his mind for him.”

“You say you never get involved in people’s lives.” Izuku says, sitting down again. “What about Katsuki, and going to the beach, and kissing me? What about Yaoyorozu and standing up to Katsuki? What about Mina and leaving her by the side of the road?” He’s not stopping now, spitting them out before his brain can fully process them. “What about Tenya and Hanta and probably getting them grounded for years? What made all of them so different?” His voice drops to a whisper as he looks at Shouto.

Shouto lifts his head up, and his eyes are blazing. “You.”

Izuku sighs, and there’s silence for a second before he finally breaks it. “You know if you leave Hitoshi at midnight he’s going to go through with it, right?”

“What can I do, Izuku?” Shouto’s voice cracks. “There isn’t anything -”

Izuku has to think for a second.

“But what if you stayed?” Izuku whispers, taking his hand gently. “If you stayed for another day, his dad would come home and you can help him.”

“I can’t do that.” Shouto shakes his head, but Izuku tightens his grip around his hand.

“I believe you can do it.” He breathes, looking into his eyes. “And you need to believe it too.”

“How?” Shouto says in such a desperate voice, and Izuku’s mind goes blank because for a second he doesn’t know.

And then he remembers the conversation they had at the dock in the countryside.

“Push back.” He breathes, and Shouto’s eyes widen slightly, before he turns away, wiping his face suddenly.

“Can you stay with me, please?” He whispers in the most pathetic voice Izuku has ever heard him speak in.

Izuku’s heart squeezes, and he holds tightly onto Shouto’s hand. That silent confirmation is all Shouto needs, and he flops down onto Izuku’s shoulder, and he begins to cry silently.

Never has Izuku ever seen Shouto like this. But it seems like this is the first time Shouto’s been totally broken.

Izuku wonders whether something in Shouto’s old life is what has affected him so awfully now he’s in Hitoshi’s body. Some subconscious memory is making his emotions run wild and he cannot physically deal with being alone in this situation.

So Izuku presses up to Shouto, and strokes his hair slowly and soothingly, and their hands do not break apart once.

And later, as Shouto sits on the couch with his hands tightening over his knees, Izuku glances down at his phone and sees it is eleven fifty nine p.m.

Shouto begins to shudder and his eyes unfocus as his breathing becomes ragged and heavy. Izuku puts the phone down and grabs him by both hands, looking deep into his eyes.

“Fight him. Push him away.” Izuku orders him, still holding tightly onto his hands.

He does not flinch and keeps holding those scarred hands tightly as Shouto cries out and his breathing becomes more laboured. His shoulders shake rapidly.

And then, it is one minute past midnight. Shouto’s breathing regulates, and Izuku lets go of his hands hesitantly, unsure if the real Hitoshi has returned and would freak out at a stranger sat in his living room and holding his hands.

But the purple haired boy blinks, and his eyes refocus on him. “Izuku?”

Izuku’s eyes well up and he’s filled with utmost joy and excitement. “Shouto?”

Shouto exhales hard and swallows, lifting his hands and gazing at them like he can’t believe he can still move them. “I did it.” He breathes, and Izuku throws his hands around his shoulders and embraces him hard.

At around six a.m, Izuku sits on the top of the stairs as Hitoshi’s dad comes back home and enters the back door. Shouto’s sat at the kitchen table and is stone still as his father enters the room. Izuku suddenly forgets how to breathe when he realises it’s Aizawa - Hitoshi’s father his his homeroom teacher - but he doesn’t have much time to be panicked and shocked before he speaks.

“Hitoshi, did you not sleep again?” Aizawa says - Izuku is shocked to hear sympathy and concern in his normally monotone teacher -  and he puts his bag down as Shouto doesn’t answer.

“No. And it’s been like this for months.” Izuku hears Shouto say softly as Aizawa kneels down next to him. “I can’t sleep. I can’t eat.” He pushes forward one of the notebooks and hands it to Aizawa, who seemingly for the first time notices the scars on his son’s forearms and is shocked.

Aizawa doesn’t move for a second. Izuku watches through the bannister as his teacher is silent with pure horror and shock. He opens the book and begins flicking through the pages.

“You need to get me help, Dad.” Shouto whispers, and Aizawa swallows hard, putting down the book and embracing Shouto hard.

Izuku hears him promising that everything is going to be okay, and things will get better. Aizawa’s voice cracks as he chokes out an ‘I love you. So much.’ Izuku smiles softly, before silently disappearing down the stairs and out the front door.

He walks home exhausted, and still in his school uniform as the morning sun rises. He’s bleary eyed and barely awake as he manages to sneak into the apartment from his bedroom window, knowing his mom will be back from hospital by now.

No sooner has he got into bed and thrown the covers over himself, his alarm for school goes off and he groans loudly, pushing the stupid alarm clock off the bedside table as he sits up.

But he feels fulfilled and full of warmth, because Shouto stayed. He stayed.

And for the first time, honestly and truthfully, Izuku thinks things might be okay.

Chapter Text

Izuku’s walking through the gym, trying to ignore everyone as he forces down another yawn and pushes past a group of guys playing around with a basketball. Katsuki’s slouching on the wall on his phone nearby as Kaminari and Kirishima talk. Izuku recognises some of the boys with the basketball but chooses to not speak. They notice him, still bouncing the ball off the walls. The blonde haired one catches the ball and immediately turns his attention to Izuku.

“Hey, how’s it going, slut?” Monoma sneers at Izuku, but he ignores him.

“Still sleeping around? C’mon, save some guys and girls for us -” One of Monoma’s friends continues, and Izuku suddenly turns around when he sees Katsuki stiffen.

“Shut the fuck up, bastard.” Katsuki spits, smacking the ball out of Monoma’s hand viciously.

Izuku’s genuinely surprised at Katsuki’s behaviour - even if he’s defending him, because Izuku seriously didn’t think that Katsuki would have done anything like that. Honestly, Izuku would have thought that he would have joined in with slut-shaming Izuku, even if that wasn’t the case. Maybe it was down to the fact that Kirishima and Kaminari were there, and Katsuki was trying to get in their good books. Or maybe it was because Katsuki absolutely cannot stand Monoma.

But as Izuku turns away and heads back towards the changing rooms, he ends up deciding that maybe there is some good left in Katsuki. Maybe Shouto subconsciously helped Katsuki draw it up to the surface. That feels like a much better explanation for it, Izuku smiles softly, glancing out of the corner of his eye to see Kirishima throwing an arm around Katsuki’s shoulder. Katsuki does not shrug it off.

As he’s about to go into the male changing rooms, he sees Ochako standing outside the female ones. He blinks, suddenly apprehensive, because all the things he’d said to her before comes rushing back and guilt immediately makes his stomach lurch and his throat tighten. But Ochako doesn’t look upset at all, and Izuku suddenly realises what’s happened and breaks into a smile, albeit slightly bittersweet.

“She regrets it too, Izuku.” Shouto says, and Izuku sighs, suddenly feeling incredibly upset.

“I miss her, Shouto.” He whispers, moving away from the changing rooms and standing next to him, where he’s stood in Ochako’s body.

“I know you don’t think it, but she misses you too.” Shouto says. “Those emotions. She regrets shouting at you more than anything.”

“But she was right, Shouto. I really have only been thinking of myself and wallowing in my own pity. I didn’t think about her or her problems at all.” Izuku breathes, his voice quavering. “I didn’t know - she never told me that her family can’t afford to eat -”

“Do you know why she didn’t tell you, Izuku?” Shouto asks, and Izuku shakes his head, so he continues. “It’s because she’s so worried about you. And your mom. She thinks her problems aren’t anything as serious as your mom’s.”

“But that’s wrong! I should have listened to her - we’ve all got our own problems, and she’s constantly supported me through mine.” Izuku begins tearing up, because it’s so difficult talking about Ochako to Ochako even though technically it’s not her, it’s only Shouto. “And I didn’t help her through hers.”

“Izuku. I’ll be gone by tomorrow. You have another tomorrow with Ochako - I don’t. I know you can talk this through with her.” Shouto says. “I know it’s difficult. But trust me when I say that I can feel her emotions and she honestly wants to fix this. She’ll forgive you, I promise - but you have to do it yourself.”

Izuku suddenly sighs, his voice shaking as he looks up at Shouto. “I really missed you yesterday.”

Shouto’s eyes flicker. “Me too.”

They end up skipping the class, wandering down the corridors and into the car park as the school drops into silence aside from the hushed rumbling of chatter within classrooms. Izuku breathes in the fresh march air, and he can almost taste the oncoming spring showers on the breeze.

“So what happened with Hitoshi?” Izuku asks him, and Shouto’s hands tighten slightly at Ochako’s backpack straps.

“He’s got appointments. Doctors, therapists - maybe even an overnight stay at hospital.” Shouto says, and they lean back on Izuku’s car as the wind tousles his hair. “He’s going on medication too. Proper medication - not those painkillers he was going to use before.” Shouto sighs, suddenly glancing away. “I hope it turns out okay. It could, but it’s his life. Hitoshi can choose what he does with it.”

“But you saved Hitoshi’s life. There’s always another option, and you helped him see that by staying.” Izuku says, and Shouto looks at him.

“I stayed. You’re right.” Shouto breathes, his eyes glazing over slightly with some kind of strong emotion that Izuku cannot decipher.

Izuku bites his lip, suddenly feeling apprehensive. “Do you think - do you think you could stay in someone else? Maybe not Ochako, because I need to fix stuff with her - but - but -” He trails off slightly. “I really liked the familiarity, I guess. Not seeing you disappear out of my reach.”

“I guess I could.” Shouto says, but he still seems a little uncomfortable at the idea.

“Listen, it couldn’t hurt. You managed it with Hitoshi, right?” Izuku asks him. “It’s not like you’d do it forever.”

“You’re right. A little longer wouldn’t do any damage.” Shouto says, and he’s suddenly more confident at the idea now. “Maybe tomorrow? After school?”

“That sounds great. I can’t wait.” Izuku starts saying breathlessly, but Shouto immediately stops him, putting a finger on his lips.

“Only if you make sure you fix things with Ochako, Izuku.” Shouto says. “The truth, Izuku.”

“What truth, Shouto?” He says, his throat dry, and Shouto’s eyes flicker.

“That’s up to you. But I think things between you will get easier if you tell her the truth, Izuku.” Shouto says, his eyes blazing. “I don’t need to read your emotions to know that the truth scares you, Izuku. And I know it is - I’m scared too.” He grabs Izuku’s hands, brushing his thumbs over his skin. “I’m afraid of finding out the truth about myself. I can’t fix that at the moment, but I’m not going to let this separate you and Ochako when you can fix it.”

“You want me to tell her about you? But Shouto - that’s crazy -” Izuku begins, and Shouto shakes his head, stopping him in his tracks.

“I don’t care whether you tell her about me - I’m not what’s keeping you two apart. The truth is, Izuku.” Shouto says, and Izuku looks up with wide eyes. “So promise me that you’ll fix things, Izuku.”

Izuku nods, holding out his pinkie.

Shouto wraps his own pinkie around Izuku’s, and Izuku smiles, glancing up at Shouto. It’s incredibly strange seeing Ochako so calm and composed, because this is the absolute opposite to how she normally acts. Plus, it’s two of the people Izuku cares so much about merged into one. It’s very unsettling, but Izuku doesn’t mind at all.

“I promise, I’ll fix things with Ochako. I’ll tell the truth.” Izuku says, determination on his voice, and Shouto’s eyes flicker as he smiles softly.

Those words are enough.

 

-

 

“Ochako.”

She whips around, a slight fury on her gaze, but Izuku knows that there’s a slight vulnerability in her gaze. She almost looks like she’s pleading with him, but she’s so determined to remain strong and defiant that it’s only making things worse for Izuku.

He swallows. Because Shouto is right - the truth is making him afraid. But he’s got to face it, because he’s already promised Shouto.

“Ochako. I’m so sorry.” He whispers, and her eyes widen as she looks at him. “You were right. Right the whole goddamn time - I’m so selfish. I only focused on myself and not you. You were struggling, and you stayed strong for me when I wasn’t. And I didn’t do the same for you.”

Ochako’s face has softened as she looks up at him. Izuku’s trembling, trying not to cry now.

“So the truth is - the truth is -”

I’m in love with someone who changes bodies every day. Always our age, never too far away from the last, and never the same person twice.

He could say it. But he doesn’t. Because Shouto’s right. The truth really does scare him.

“I really care about you. You’re my best friend. I don’t know what I’d do without you.” He breathes, tearing up. “So please believe me when I say that’s the complete, undying truth.”

She sobs, and throws her arms around his shoulders, and they embrace for a long time - long after the bells for their first class have gone.

Chapter Text

The sun’s beating through the blinds onto Shouto’s face, and he screws his eyes shut, slowly sitting up as he does his daily routine of observing the hands of whoever’s body he’s in. His hands are calloused, strong, the nails look like they’ve been bitten down, leaving rough edges. Shouto blinks, opening his eyes again as he clicks his spine and glances down, widening his eyes when he glances down at the sculpted muscle flexing when he breathes. He has no top on, just a pair of pyjama shorts.

He ghosts his fingertips over it, feeling unused to being in a body in such peak condition, before he glances around at his surroundings.

A punching bag, Shouto realises in surprise, before putting his hand in a fist and clenching it, feeling all the enhanced muscles in his arm flex. He runs the fingers of the other hand over his knuckles, feeling how the skin is roughened and tough from hitting the punching bag so many times. He looks around a bit more, squinting to read the titles of the books on the shelves, which mostly seem to be books on fitness and martial arts magazines. There’s a football uniform on the side, with the helmet on the desk amongst an incredibly messy pile of notes that the owner seems to have abandoned in favour of sleeping. There are motivational posters tacked all over the walls. Shouto unravels himself from the covers and stands up, eyes wide in wonder as he reads them and glances over the print of the Great Wave that is above the desk.

He brushes his bangs out of his eyes and looks around a little more, opening the cupboard to be faced with more sports clothes, and to his surprise, a UA uniform. He takes off the uniform and puts it on the bed after making it, before Shouto pulls on a t-shirt with a grinning dog on it that’s been left over the end of the bed to cover his bare torso.

But as Shouto explores his surroundings more, he notices things that seem to be well hidden. On the inside of this boy’s cupboard door, he’s pinned and tacked post it notes with handwritten things on it. The owner’s scrawl is messy, but Shouto can’t help poring over them.

‘It is easy to be brave from a safe distance.’

‘Constant kindness can accomplish much.’

‘If you wish to experience peace, provide peace for another.’

They’re so calm and wise compared to the screaming motivational posters all over the walls, but Shouto prefers these. They’re showing another side to the owner that is otherwise hidden.

He shuts the door, picking up a photograph on the desk, but doesn’t react when he recognises Kirishima, grinning from ear to ear as he cuddles a dog that’s licking his face and its tail is moving so fast it’s a blur on the printed and framed image. Deep down, Shouto knows that from the second he woke up he knew he was Kirishima. But now he’s here, it feels rude and impersonal to refer to him like this.

“Eijiro.” He tries, the word slipping from his tongue as he reads it off the exercise book in front of him, and it feels okay, so Shouto tries again. “Eijiro.”

The paper waste bin is filled with screwed up paper. Shouto grabs one from the top and unravels it, seeing how Eijiro seems to be incredibly conflicted with something. He can’t help feeling a little skeptical at that, seeing a team photo of his football team all crouched in rows with their padded uniform and helmets on as they beam at the camera. Eijiro is popular. He’s fit. He’s got lots of friends, and he is on the football team and is good at martial arts and swimming, and from the new model of phone on the bedside table, he doesn’t seem to be short of money either. Shouto finds out that Eijiro works at the same waffle house as Katsuki, finding the uniform in the wardrobe too.

But as Shouto pries more, he’s finding more. As he opens the drawer, he sees medication. He blinks, withdrawing the box, and is surprised to recognise anxiety medication. He swallows, flipping the box over, and it’s definitely prescribed to Eijiro.

But as he sits there, putting the box back and shutting the drawer, Shouto realises he cannot judge anyone like this. Although he may never have known from observing Eijiro before from the many times he’s attended UA now that he suffers from a severe mental illness, he knows that only he ever sees this side of people that they choose not to reveal to others.

Eijiro obviously does not respond to pressure well. Shouto looks at the school notes that he’s left. He can tell Eijiro is incredibly stressed. He does not have enough time for schoolwork because he is training so much for his football matches. He hasn’t finished this essay yet, and it’s due today.

So Shouto looks up, seeing that it’s early, and from the calendar, Eijiro must have decided to use this morning for a run before school. But Shouto immediately overrules it, and sits down and finishes the essay for him. Shouto may not know much on this subject, but he sure knows how to write a good essay in short time.

Someone enters the door, and Shouto turns to see a dark haired woman already in her running clothing. She looks shocked to see her son sat at his desk in his night clothes still writing.

“Woah - Eiji, we’re going to run - for God’s sake, I thought you were more responsible than this -” Eijiro’s mom frets, flapping around as she fumbles around for Eijiro’s running clothes. “What would Coach say if he knew you were slacking like this - right before your big match too -”

Shouto’s eyes are wide, and he looks up at the calendar to see the match is in seven days. It’s circled in red marker.

“I had to write this essay.” Shouto says, and his mom looks up from where she’s bent over a drawer.

“The - the essay? The essay doesn’t matter, hun.” She says, a pair of shorts and a tank top over her arm. “Need I remind you that all you need to do is impress the scouts this weekend at the match? I’ll write a note to the teacher if you’d like -”

The scouts, Shouto realises. Eijiro loves football, but from looking at these notes, he wants to do well in his other subjects. He likes them. He likes English, but his grades are suffering. All of his grades except in physical education are dropping, and he can’t stop them.

Now Shouto understands what the anxiety medication in the drawer is there for. Eijiro’s heart immediately starts whirring at the tone of his mom’s voice. It’s reacting on its own to the situation that’s unfolding in front of it.

Enough, I’m in control. Shouto orders, forcing the anxiety right back down and swallowing hard.

“Sorry. I want to do the essay instead of running.” Shouto says, and Eijiro’s mom looks incredibly shocked at that response.

“Absolutely not - missing it could jeopardize the entire workout and nutrition plan I’ve written -” Eijiro’s mom starts saying, but Shouto knows one thing about being firm, and keeps his foot down.

“I’m sorry, mom. I really need to do this essay - you’ll have to go without me.” Shouto insists, and Eijiro’s mom huffs loudly before leaving.

There’s some kind of gross protein shake on the side that Shouto knows is breakfast, but he ignores it, pouring it down the sink and washing out the glass before he settles for toast instead. Eijiro’s stomach growls, reacting positively to the non-liquid food that it seems to have consumed a lot recently.

He goes back upstairs to clean his teeth and pack up Eijiro’s bag, and snatches up his phone, opening it and scrolling through the contacts. Izuku’s there - and Shouto isn’t used to going into a phone and seeing Izuku’s number already there for him, and not having to type it in from memory.

He calls it, seeing that it’s before the ‘no-call hours’ that he and Izuku had previously agreed on unless it was an emergency. Izuku picks up, sounding tired, like he’s just woken up.

“Hey, Kirishim -”

“Izuku.”

Izuku chokes. “Wait, is it you?”

“Yes, it’s me.” Shouto says, and he can’t help smiling slightly. “Did you fix things with Ochako?”

“Yes. It went great.” Izuku replies, still sounding slightly shocked, but there’s something else he isn’t telling Shouto.

“Sorry I couldn’t see you yesterday like we agreed. Another homeschooler.” Shouto explains.

“Hey, that’s okay. I was a little busy helping Ochako out that day anyway.” Izuku says, and excitement creeps into his voice. “But you’re Kirishima, right? We can hang out today -”

“Okay, then. I’ll see you in school.” Shouto says, and he hangs up, getting dressed and following some failed attempts to replicate Eijiro’s hair and instead settling for wrapping a bandanna around his loose hair and letting his bangs fall over it before heading towards UA on foot.

“Bro!” Kaminari jumps him from behind when he’s halfway there to school.

Shouto manages to not react by screeching and punching him in the face, and instead complies to Kaminari’s demands of a piggyback, letting Kaminari wrap his arms around Eijiro’s neck.

“Shit, you’re heavy.” He jokes, and Kaminari playfully slaps him on the back of the head.

“Shut it! You can bench press twice my weight.” Kaminari says, faux dismay on his voice as he pretends to be offended.

Eijiro’s muscles definitely can bear Kaminari’s weight with no trouble and as they reach the school, Shouto drops him back on his feet as he opens Eijiro’s locker and starts rummaging through it for his calculator. As he shuts the door, he’s surprised to see Katsuki there. And he doesn’t look aggressive. Shouto has to keep telling himself that this is Eijiro’s friend, and isn’t going to do the same aggressive kissing that he did to Shouto when he was Izuku that day.

“Hey, bro.” He says, remembering Eijiro’s speech patterns and forcing a grin on his face. “What’s up?”

“What? Nothing - nothing’s up. Why the fuck would you assume anything was up?” Katsuki prickles, immediately getting defensive, and Shouto pauses, not sure how to respond properly.

“Okay. Sorry.” is all he manages to say before he sees Izuku at his own locker and weaves around Katsuki to reach Izuku.

Izuku notices him and starts beaming in delight. They talk for a few seconds before the bell rings and they agree to meet up after their lessons for lunch. After, Shouto leaves Eijiro’s English class and sees that Katsuki and Kaminari are heading out to obviously go off site for food. As they walk away, he stops next to Izuku, who’s waiting for him.

Kaminari looks back at him expectantly. “You coming?”

“Um - can’t today, sorry.” Shouto says, smiling again.

Kaminari looks hurt. “But -”

“Leave him.” Katsuki says, and Shouto can tell he’s hurt too as the two guys leave through the door. He can’t help feeling immensely guilty.

Izuku whistles. “Ouch - you know Kirishima virtually never says no to them?”

Shouto’s eyes widen. “Oh - damn. Should I go and catch up? They both looked really shocked I wasn’t going with them -”

“Hey, it’s okay. They can survive one day without their redhead.” Izuku says, sitting down on one of the window ridges lining the corridor and leaning back adjacent to Shouto as he too sits down and leans back lazily.

People heading out for lunch and down the corridors from lessons obviously recognise Eijiro a lot. He’s getting multiple greetings and bro-fists and grins from passing people. He has a lot of friends, and it’s definitely incredibly weird for such a popular football player to be sat on the edge of the corridor practically alone when he’s so constantly surrounded by other humans.

“Your hair looks sick, bro.” Another guy says as he passes by.

“Thanks, bro.” Shouto responds with a smile, which, he notices, causes almost every girl (and potentially a few guys) in the corridor to start drooling.

Eventually the corridor filters out and as Izuku slowly picks at his sandwich, Shouto begins telling Izuku about this morning.

“You know - even though he’s obviously so good at football and so physically strong, he’s really thoughtful and intelligent.” Shouto says, putting his hands behind his head and leaning back on the window. “He had all these beautiful little queries and quotations just hidden in his room. It’s like there’s a second side to him away from all his loud, cheerful extroverted parts.”

“Really? I’ve known him for so long but actually I don’t know that much about him.” Izuku says, leaning on his hand which is propped up on his elbow.

“He really suffers sometimes though.” Shouto lowers his voice. “I don’t think anybody knows aside from him. He doesn’t respond well under pressure. I think his anxiety causes him to be sick before and after every single football match he does.”

“But on the pitch he’s so confident -” Izuku says, obviously remembering all the time he’s seen Eijiro playing, and Shouto shakes his head.

“But that’s only when he’s completely pumped up with anxiety meds.” Shouto sighs, drawing his knees to his chest and waving half-heartedly at the people who passed him again. “It’s so sad. His mind is so full of beautiful things that don’t even get a second thought because his body is his temple.”

“It is sad.” Izuku says, and they’re silent for a little longer before the bell rings.

Izuku makes to get up, and Shouto quickly stops him by flitting an arm out.

“Wait. What do you want to do after school?” He asks, and Izuku’s eyes light up.

“Why should we wait until after school?” Izuku says, hopping to his feet, and Shouto blinks.

“But we still have class -”

“Don’t worry - it’s one lesson. Plus -” Izuku’s voice drops off as he gently takes Shouto’s hands. “I really want to spend as much time with you as possible.

Shouto finds he cannot disagree with that.

 

-

 

The football pitch is absolutely deserted and they end up running up and down it with their arms open and spinning and just generally behaving like fools until Izuku badly tackles Shouto and they both tumble down to the ground, rolling in the freshly cut and painted grass with squeaks of laughter.

Kirishima’s house is nearby and after a quick visit to grab some things they immediately return back to the pitch. It’s incredibly childish as Izuku grabs a pot of bubbles and begins blowing them into the March wind but Shouto loves seeing Izuku so happy at even the smallest thing, even if it’s just a bubble - because Shouto finds that with Izuku, everything that seems small is amplified when it’s in his presence.

They’re absolutely filling the air with bubbles and Shouto is sometimes darting in front of Izuku to put his hand in front of the wand as he blows them out, popping the stream of bubbles immediately, and Izuku always gives him an annoyed look but as Shouto smirks, Izuku can’t help but smile at it too, before immediately attacking him with the water pistols they’d brought too.

They’ve been there for hours, and as it drops into night, they light the sparklers Shouto had found hidden in Eijiro’s garage, and they’re running and twirling with them as they leave their golden trails behind. Izuku keeps waving his and saying to Shouto how as a kid he used to try and write his own name with sparklers in the air but it always disappears too quickly before he managed to write more than a letter.

So Shouto tries, and Izuku’s right, which makes him laugh, but shows Izuku that if he moves quick enough, he can just about draw a heart with the sparkler before it disappears, which Izuku seems to find amusing as he immediately tries it out for himself.

Izuku waves his sparkler again, but finds he’s very lost for words (and short of breath) when Shouto’s free hand, as his other hand holds his sparkler, flits under Izuku’s chin. His face hears up, and Shouto looks so incredibly handsome with his stupid lopsided bandana and the sparkler’s light illuminating the features of Kirishima’s face.

The truth scares him. Shouto is right. But Izuku remembers what he’s said before, and knows that by telling the truth, it’s going to prepare him for what happens next. It’s going to prepare them both, because deep down, Izuku knows that this isn’t going to be easy at all.

Izuku inches closer, still holding the sparkler tightly in his other hand as Shouto looks at him in surprise. Izuku swallows, feeling his heart trembling and beating rapidly in anticipation.

“I think I - I -” Izuku shuts his eyes, before managing to open them again, and turns his face skyward before forcing himself to look right into Shouto’s blazing gaze.

“Yes?” Shouto breathes, and Izuku’s heart stops in his chest.

“I think I’m in love with you, Shouto.” Izuku whispers, his voice catching as the March wind whisks it away, and Shouto’s eyes flicker, but his hand does not leave where it’s on Izuku’s cheek.

“What brought that on, Izuku?” Shouto asks, and there’s a hint of mischief in his voice.

Izuku looks up at him, smiling softly as his cheeks heat up almost to the intensity of the sparkler in his other hand. “Just the truth. I don’t want it separating us either.”

Shouto’s eyes are wide, and he moves slightly closer so their noses are almost touching and his breath is mingling with Izuku’s.

“Me neither.” Shouto breathes, and his hand slides to the back of Izuku’s neck, closing the gap so their lips touch and they’re stood there in the middle of the dark football pitch kissing.

The sparklers fizzle out, but the fire in Izuku’s stomach burns and flickers.

“I love you too.”

 

-

 

Later, it’s gotten very dark, but they’re sat on one of the benches looking over the pitches. The floodlights are off. Shouto knows there is no football practice tonight because he can remember Eijiro’s calendar very easily, since it doesn’t consist of anything more than his practice and match dates. Izuku’s hand worms into his and Shouto takes it, brushing his thumb over Izuku’s skin as the wind tousles his hair. Shouto pushes the bandanna up so Eijiro’s loose bangs are out of his eyes.

“Do you think you could stay in Kirishima for one more day?” Izuku asks, and it’s quite timid, and he’s avoiding Shouto’s gaze as he turns to look at him.

“I don’t know.” Shouto answers truthfully, suddenly feeling a little uncomfortable again. “Why are you asking?”

Izuku shrugs. “I guess - I guess this all felt so easy. Meeting you in school - knowing exactly what you’d look like and where you’d be -” Izuku turns away again. “I liked it. This evening reminded me of how happy I was when you took me to the aquarium as Katsuki.”

“I liked it too - but I don’t know if I can do it again -” Shouto begins saying, slightly apprehensive and nervous at the thought of doing it again.

“You managed it with Hitoshi.” Izuku says, finally looking at him, and Shouto sighs, sagging his shoulders and looking down at his knees.

“With Hitoshi it was easier - because - because -” He swallows, still looking down at his knees. “Because of how much he didn’t want to be there anymore.”

“It’s fine - I understand.” Izuku says, glancing away and letting go of his hand, but Shouto knows how disappointed he is.

Shouto takes his hand again, weaving his fingers inbetween Izuku’s. “Would make things a lot easier, wouldn’t it?”

Izuku cracks a smile, and Shouto can’t help smiling softly back. But as Shouto sits there, he sees movement in the stands of the pitch and tenses, because he does recognise the silhouette. Shouto swallows, trying not to let his sudden worry become detectable, and begins praying for some kind of excuse to separate himself from Izuku. Like his prayers have been answered, Izuku’s phone rings, and he looks at the caller ID, seeing it’s his mom.

“Oh. She’s probably out of hospital now.” Izuku says, letting it ring through as the phone vibrates in his hands.

Shouto lets go of his hand. “You should go home. I have something I - um - need to do.”

Izuku looks at him, and Shouto tears his eyes away from the person waiting behind the stands from him and tries to put a reassuring smile on his face.

“Okay then. Let me know what happens tomorrow, okay?” Izuku asks, standing up with his phone in his hands.

“Sure. I’ll see you later.” Shouto says, staying seated and carefully watching as Izuku leaves out of the main exit of the pitch, well away from whoever’s hiding in the stands.

Shouto finally stands, seeing how the loiterer hasn’t left yet. Shouto checks over his shoulder and sees Izuku is well gone by now, and starts heading over to them, seeing how now they’ve noticed Izuku has left, they’re moving and stepping out from behind the stands as Shouto approaches them.

Shouto pulls to a stop as Katsuki reveals himself. His face is so dark with fury that Shouto can’t help flinching slightly - but he’s confused, because from where Katsuki was hiding behind the stands, there is no way he could have possibly seen the two holding hands from the other side of the pitch. He draw himself upright, and doesn’t smile, because he doesn’t think even Eijiro’s charm can get him out of this.

“Hey, B-” He begins saying, but Katsuki cuts him short.

His hands are in his pocket, and his scarf is around his neck, but the pure fury rolling off him is making Shouto incredibly comfortable.

“Don’t you fucking dare call me Blasty.” Katsuki spits, and Shouto blinks, taken aback.

Okay, so Eijiro had a nickname for Katsuki. Lucky he’d been cut short or he’d have called Katsuki ‘Bakugo’ and that would have made Katsuki sniff a rat.

“I can explain -” He begins saying, feeling Eijiro’s body respond to Katsuki’s voice of its own accord. His heart is racing and his face is warm, but it’s not with anxiety this time.

“Explain this, you bastard!” Katsuki shrieks, his fist colliding with Shouto’s jaw so his head snaps back with a gasp.

As he doubles over, spitting a mouthful of blood on the floor as his jaw throbs under his hands, Katsuki’s breathing is heavy and ragged. As Shouto wipes his mouth with noises of agony, Katsuki speaks, still trembling in anger and fury.

“Why the fuck did you not turn up?” Katsuki roars, finally snapping and grabbing Shouto by the hair and slamming him up against the wall of the stands, pinning him with a forearm across Shouto’s throat. “You asshole. Sticking my neck out for you and defending you from the fucking manager because you fucking think you have better things to do -”

Shouto internally shrieks, guilt making his breathing catch in his throat as his stomach drops. The waffle house - Katsuki’s in his uniform, and Shouto curses. Eijiro was working - and Shouto forgot - he forgot to go because he was with Izuku -

“Who the fuck even was that? Who’s worth me risking losing my job for you, you asswipe? I had to lie to her - I said you had a fucking family emergency -” Katsuki spits, pushing down on Shouto’s throat so he chokes. “No warning, no calls, no nothing. You’re a selfish piece of shit - you deserve more than a fucking punch -” Shouto’s eyes widen in shock as Katsuki starts crying, his face crumpling as furious tears roll down his face. “Stop - just say something, you bastard - say something - anything -”

And then Katsuki’s eyes widen when he finally looks up at Shouto, who’s gritting his teeth in terror and pain as he’s grappling at Katsuki’s pin on his throat. Blood runs down from Shouto’s teeth and tracks down onto Katsuki’s sleeve, and he lets go. Shouto gasps for air, collapsing to his knees as he chokes, and Katsuki suddenly looks horrified at what he’s done. Seeing Eijiro - his friend - so afraid - and he’s hurt him -

“I didn’t -” Katsuki’s voice is suddenly raw as he takes a step back, horror on his face at seeing his friend bleeding and afraid because of him. “I didn’t - I’m - I’m -”

Katsuki whips around and vanishes into the dark, and Shouto doesn’t miss how his shoulders are shaking with furious sobs as he disappears from sight.

Shouto stays there for a few seconds longer before he gets up, still wiping and spitting blood from his mouth. Goddamn it - damn it! He begins rushing home, ignoring Eijiro’s mom as she calls after him and immediately going upstairs to see the furious emails from Eijiro’s manager asking where the hell he was. He doesn’t know what to do - but he knows one thing - he has to fix this before the real Eijiro wakes up to this shit storm that Shouto’s responsible for.

So he types out a reply to the emails and goes with Katsuki’s lie. He pleads with the manager and says that it was in fact a family emergency and that his uncle (Shouto doesn’t know whether Eijiro even has an uncle, but it’ll have to do for now) was suddenly admitted into hospital. He mentions that this imaginary uncle is sick - incredibly sick - and he might not have survived the night. He apologises for not telling any of them beforehand, because it was so sudden he didn’t have a chance to do so.

The lie makes Shouto’s stomach crawl, but he’s determined to save Eijiro’s job by any means necessary. Even if it means having to stay another day to fix it, he realises, looking up at Eijiro’s clock and seeing it’s half past eleven. Cutting it close, for sure.

The manager hasn’t answered and Shouto swears, flopping back on Eijiro’s bed and throwing his hands over his face. Feeling dried up blood on his skin, Shouto gets up, heading into the bathroom to start washing Eijiro’s face. His jaw is bruising already, and he runs his fingers over it, before finally pulling off the bandana and sitting on the edge of the bath.

He can feel the clock beginning to move towards midnight, because his own essence is tugging away from Eijiro’s body slightly. Shouto puts a hand on his chest and pushes in, like that’ll make a difference, but he can feel his breathing escalate as Eijiro’s soul starts forcibly pushing him out.

He’s strong. Incredibly strong, just like he is in real life, and Shouto strains, making a noise of agony as he immediately locks heads with Eijiro’s soul. He pushes hard, but Eijiro seems determined to be back - and this isn’t Hitoshi at all. Hitoshi was weak, hesitant - and it didn’t take much of Shouto pushing back against his soul to stop him from getting back, because Hitoshi seemed to give up once Shouto had put up a bit of a fight. But Eijiro wasn’t having it, and Shouto had to throw a hand over his mouth to stop himself from crying out as Eijiro strained against him again.

NO! Go away. Go away! I’m in control! I’m in control - I’m in control -

But Shouto has the upper hand. He latches hard onto Eijiro’s body, and he’s been outside of one for so long that it’s going to be incredibly difficult for any other soul to try and fight him with no body of its own. So he pushes, and he strains, and he can feel Eijiro beginning to stutter against him.

Please, Eijiro. I just want to help. Tomorrow, I promise.

He pleads with Eijiro, and Eijiro’s soul seems to hesitate a little longer, for a split second, and Shouto pounces. He rams his soul into Eijiro’s and pushes it clear, and he gasps, suddenly shooting upright as he gains full control of Eijiro’s body again. He’s trembling and shaking and sweating and gasping for air, but as he lifts a hand hesitantly, and wiggles the fingers, he relaxes, still trying to catch his breath as he realises he’s still here, and he managed to fight Eijiro off for another day.

Finally exiting the bathroom, Shouto pulls off his blazer and tie and falls onto Eijiro’s bed in exhaustion, and he’s asleep within seconds. Eijiro does not try to push him out while he’s asleep. When Shouto wakes up the next morning, he’s confused about this, because as Hitoshi, he hadn’t slept after pushing Hitoshi out. But he’s slept in Eijiro after the attempted exchange, and he is still here. Maybe there is something significant about the midnight hour. Perhaps that is when the movement of souls is amplified, and after that, it ceases?

Shouto doesn’t think about it for too long as he needs to get ready for school. When he checks Eijiro’s emails, he almost collapses with relief when he sees that the manager has decided to let Eijiro keep his job, because he’s never missed a shift before, but warns him not to do it again. She’s attached a document of the shifts again to ‘remind’ him not to miss any more shifts, but Shouto’s relieved at this, printing it out and putting it on the desk to remind him he’s got to do Eijiro’s shift after school again today.

Eijiro’s mom shoves into the room, and she’s in her running gear again. Eijiro turns to her, and she looks angry again.

“Don’t try and get out of it again - oh, what happened herer?” She suddenly asked, concern on her face as she notices the bruise on Shouto’s face.

“Football hit me in the face. I was practicing passes with a friend.” Shouto lies, and this seems to excite his mom as she smiles.

“That’s my son. Okay, then, I’m sure I can let you off this morning since you were practicing off schedule yesterday - but tomorrow you must, Eiji - all right?” Eijiro’s mom says, and Shouto nods, because by then he’ll be gone and Eijiro will be back.

She leaves, and Shouto heads to school having got Eijiro ready and deciding against attempting to replicate Eijiro’s hair again. He decides he likes Eijiro’s hair down and over his bandanna; it’s certainly a change from all the times he’s seen Eijiro around before.

Izuku sees him approaching him, and his face lights up with delight as he realises what has happened straight away. They link hands and rush into the school.

The lessons are slow but Shouto makes sure they pass quickly. He delves deeply into each lesson, making sure he writes all the notes and contributes by putting his hand up. He gives Eijiro a workout to remember in his football practice at lunch by completing all his circuits and warm ups, thanking the heavens that he hasn’t been asked to actually play a football match yet because he doubts he’ll be as good as Eijiro actually is.

After school, Shouto and Izuku are heading outside. He waits as Izuku gets into his car, and Izuku looks up at him expectantly.

“Want to do something tonight?” He asks, and Shouto shakes his head slowly, as much as he wants to.

“I can’t, he’s got work tonight.” Shouto says, before smiling slightly. “What about tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow?” Izuku’s eyes light up as he beams. “Yeah, I think I can do tomorrow.”

But as Shouto enters the waffle house to do Eijiro’s shift, Katsuki is ignoring him. He doesn’t even react as Eijiro passes him, but Shouto can feel the hurt rolling off the ash blond. He swallows, because actually, he’s beginning to feel uncomfortable about this whole thing again when he remembers how difficult it was to fight Eijiro off the first night.

Another day, another fight against Eijiro.

He’s getting weaker, like his attempts to get his body back are taxing. Either that, or he’s giving up.

But after the fourth night, Eijiro’s fight against Shouto is barely there.

On the fifth night, Eijiro doesn’t even try at all.

Chapter Text

Izuku’s waiting outside the hospital room, pretending to look on his phone but in reality all he’s doing is gazing blankly at the phone screen and tapping the side of it with a nail fast and sharp and uncontrollably. The corridor in the hospital is empty aside from the hushed mutter of patients and doctors in rooms and occasionally passing by. One of the doctors smiles at Izuku and he doesn’t respond, because he knows exactly what that doctor is thinking. He can almost hear it.

Poor boy.

Izuku swallows again and goes back to tapping on the side of his phone with a nail. He keeps telling himself that since his mom’s new treatment, everything would be okay. Of course it would - there would be things they could do to help her.

Another image of his mom collapsed over the toilet and puking and retching so loudly despite her withered body flies in front of his eyes again and he stiffens, clearing his throat and averting his gaze. No matter how much he tries, he still can feel the way his hand was soothingly rubbing over her back where her spine and ribs were sticking out as she continued to be sick.

The nurse opens the door and Izuku jumps, but quickly composes himself as she beckons in. Izuku goes to move, and is surprised when she remains outside.

“Aren’t you -”

“No, that’s okay. You go in.” The nurse says with a gentle smile, but Izuku decides not to look at it, because he knows that smiles can betray what the owner is really thinking and feeling.

There’s a sick feeling in his stomach as he goes in, and he’s so afraid at what he might find when he looks up from the floor. A billion thoughts run though his mind, and he immediately ignores them.

For a second, his heart leaps when he sees his mom there, sitting up and she’s smiling too. Izuku’s suddenly filled with joy because the new treatment must be working - she’s going to be okay - 

But then he sees that her smile does not match her eyes. She’s filled with happiness that he’s here with her, but there’s fear and sadness all over her gaunt face. And she looks tired. More tired than Izuku has ever seen her before.

“Hey, sweetie.” His mom says, and her voice is low and thick and her eyes suddenly fill up with tears, and Izuku suddenly freezes where he is. She pats on the bedcovers next to her. “Come here.”

Izuku goes over, but does not sit on the bed. He sits on the chair next to the bed instead.

“Why did you ask me to see you when I was in school?” He asks, and he hates how his tone of voice makes it into a demand.

“I wanted to see you.” His mom answers, and she does not flinch at his choice of words. “Before I fell asleep or the morphine makes me too sluggish.”

“But you’re usually awake in the evenings - why couldn’t you wait, mom?” Izuku presses, and his mom’s eyes flicker faintly and weakly because he knows she’s about to answer that second underlying question that he hasn’t dared ask yet.

“I wanted to see you now, Izuku.” His mom says, and her eyes are welling up.

Izuku can barely look at her because his heart is shattering in his chest. “Is this - is this -”

“Darling.” His mom says, and her hair is falling in front of her face and her fingers twitch like she wants to wipe his face gently but she doesn’t have the strength to do so. She’s leaning back into her pillows - Izuku suddenly notices, and for the first time he sees she can barely lift her head. “Izuku, look at me.”

He doesn’t look, because he hates seeing her like that. His mom takes a deep breath and it only makes her break into hacking coughs that make it sound like her lungs are cracking and flaking. He waits, and the coughing fit passes, and she collapses back into her pillows with a ragged breath.

“The doctor said the new treatment isn't working, Izuku.” His mom’s voice is trying to be brave but Izuku screws his eyes up and shakes his head short and hard.

“How can it not be working?” Izuku says, and his voice is curt, and sharp, and his mom only smiles at him sadly again.

“I know. But it’s not. I’ve got an infection in my lungs now and everything’s moving too fast -”

“But you said it would work. You believed it would work!” Izuku’s voice finally cracks. “I believed it would work.”

“I know, I know.” Izuku’s mom is on the verge of crying, but she’s trying to smile as Izuku stares at his lap and lets his tears run down his nose and drip onto his hands, which are tightening around his knees. “I think part of what let me stay so long was because of your belief in me, Izuku.”

Izuku doesn’t respond, and his mom holds out her hand, and it looks like it’s taking all of her strength to just do that, so he takes it, but her grip is so weak around his fingers. Her hand is withered and her skin is like paper, so fragile he’s afraid he might break it just by curling his fingers around it.

“Your soul is so bright, my darling.” His mom says, and Izuku can hear the tubes going into her nose brushing against the covers as she winces, trying to adjust her position before she keeps going.

“How can you tell?” Izuku asks in a quiet voice, and his mom laughs gently.

“Sometimes, when you look at the people you love -” His mom sighs, her tearful eyes looking up at the ceiling. “You just can. And that’s why I think that you’re drawn to those you’re meant to be with.”

Izuku is silent, because her words ring something in him. He thinks about Shouto. How bright his soul is, despite everything. Izuku can see his true essence without Shouto having a body to contain it in. Just like how his mom can see everything about him without trying. She can tell exactly what he’s thinking without his physical body betraying it.

But he swallows nervously, because there’s one thing she doesn’t know for sure. No matter how much she thinks she knows - and it’s not about Shouto. 

“Yours is too.” He replies, and his mom’s eyes are shining.

It’s a lie. They both know it. Because his mom is flickering and fading before his eyes, like a dying star. 

He thinks about Shouto, and how brightly Shouto’s spirit shines through the eyes of whoever he’s inhabiting for the day. He wonders whether Shouto can see his own soul in the way that Izuku’s mom sees him. His mom watches him carefully, and Izuku looks up.

His mom finally speaks, and there’s a slight amusement on her frail voice. “You’re thinking about someone else.”

His eyes widen in surprise. “How did you know?”

“Moms know all.” His mom answers with a soft smile, and she’s not crying anymore. “Who is it?”

Izuku snorts gently, suddenly embarrassed as his mom suddenly grins mischievously at him. “No one.”

“I can tell they’re your everything, Izuku.” His mom answers, her hand adjusting in his.

“He is.” Izuku answers, and his mom’s eyes are shining, but not with sadness anymore. 

“Who is he?” His mom asks, and Izuku takes a deep breath, because he needs to say something. He needs to tell the truth. 

So he tells her.

“His name is Shouto.” Izuku says. “He doesn’t know his last name - because - because -”

“Yes?” His mom breathes, and Izuku holds onto her hand tight before squeezing his eyes shut.

“I’m in love with someone who changes bodies every day. Always my age, never too far away from the last, and never the same person twice.” He whispers, and feels his mom’s fingers twitch around his hand slightly, betraying her shock. “He’s been living different lives for as long as he can remember. And because he’s got no life of his own -” He’s crying again as his mom is silent. “He lives other people’s lives the best he can, even if it’s only for a day.” His mom is still silent, and Izuku squeezes his eyes shut even further, not able to look at her. “I know it’s crazy - I know it sounds stupid and made up but -”

“No, it doesn’t.” His mom says, and he looks up in shock with tearful eyes and she’s looking at him with such a blazing fire in her eyes that Izuku hasn’t seen in her since before - before she got sick - “I of all people know that it’s possible to fall in love with someone in less than a day.”

“What? Dad?” Izuku asks shakily, and his mom shakes her head.

“No. Not your father.” His mom says, before putting her other hand on Izuku’s chest. “With my son. The second I held that little bundle in my hands for the first time, you became my everything.”

Izuku blinks, fresh tears running down his face. “It’s so hard - some days I can’t deal with it - I just want to be with him without worrying where he is or who he is or -

“The fact that you and Shouto have to fight so hard to reach each other says enough, Izuku.” His mom whispers, and she’s welling up too. “I wish I had a million years to give to you.”

Izuku sobs, letting go of her hand to embrace her gently as they both cry. 

“You gave me enough.” He whispers, trying to inhale her scent but only getting the smell of anesthetic and disinfectant that burns his nose and throat.

But as they sit there for a long time hugging each other, Izuku knows that’s wrong. His mom feels she hasn’t given him enough, but that’s so wrong. Because it’s Izuku. It’s Izuku who hasn’t given her enough.

It’s not just that.

Even after telling her about Shouto, that knot in his stomach is still there.

Because Izuku still hasn’t given her the truth.

 

-

 

Shouto doesn’t like this. Not one bit. He sits on the bed and waits for Eijiro to come back. He doesn’t. He doesn’t even try. Shouto glances up at the clock and watches as the hand ticks. One minute past midnight. Two minutes past midnight.

He waits for another five minutes. Still, Eijiro doesn’t try to push him out. 

Maybe he’s given up. Maybe he’s just let Shouto stay - for whatever reason. But Shouto finds himself incredibly uncomfortable at what’s just happened. This has taken on a whole new meaning. He’s been in Eijiro’s body for five days, and maybe Eijiro has completely lost hope of getting his body back because the truth is, Shouto’s a lot stronger that he’s realised he was. Floating between so many bodies means he’s found it so easy to stay in them. Other souls have no chance against him.

He doesn’t get a wink of sleep that night. As he goes in school the next day, he sees Katsuki immediately ignore him and shove past him. This has got to stop. Shouto cannot let Katsuki stay hurt any longer, because from his time here, he’s learnt how much Eijiro means to Katsuki, and vice versa.

“Blasty - wait -” He says, beginning to trail Katsuki and reaching out, but Katsuki harshly slaps his hand away.

“Get the fuck away from me.” Katsuki spits, but Shouto’s face sets, and he immediately grabs Katsuki by his hood and begins dragging him out of the corridor and around the back of the building so they’re outside and hidden from view.

Katsuki swears and spits and tries to fight against him, but Shouto remains firm, finally letting go of Katsuki’s hoodie and glaring at him as he rubs at his neck and twists his face up in a scowl.

“What the fuck was that for?” Katsuki roars, looking utterly furious, but Shouto shushed him, a very firm and serious look on his face.

“You and I need to talk.” Shouto says, and his face is cold, but definitely authentic and that seems to make Katsuki stop swearing for a second. Katsuki’s hand falls from his own neck and he looks at Eijiro with an expression Shouto cannot decipher.

“We have nothing to talk about.” Katsuki spits, and Shouto cuts him short immediately.

“Yes, we do.” Shouto says, and Katsuki looks thunderous.

“What, that you’re a fucking snake and after everything we’ve been through - everything we’ve ever done - you just leave me hanging like that? Fuck - Eijiro, I was worried about you.” Katsuki’s voice starts off furious before it begins cracking. “You didn’t answer any of my calls and I fucking thought something had gone wrong - I thought you could be having a fucking panic attack somewhere and I didn’t know where you were or if you were in danger -”

Shouto blinks as Katsuki’s voice quavers again, before his face hardens and fury edges back onto the other’s face as he bares his teeth in darkening anger.

“And then I find out you’re sleeping with my ex. You fucker - how long has it been going on for?” Katsuki raises his voice, and when Shouto doesn’t answer right away, he grabs Shouto by the collar hard. “How fucking long?!” He roars, shaking Shouto a bit and Katsuki’s crying, he’s actually so angry he’s barely able to hold in his tears of fury.

“We’re not sleeping together, Katsuki. I promise.” Shouto says, and it’s a raw, painful truth because he knows how much this is hurting him. Katsuki’s eyes widen, and his grip loosens around Shouto’s collar.

“You didn’t call me Blasty.” Katsuki says in a low voice, and Shouto manages to pull out of Katsuki’s grip as his fingers loosen slightly more.

“I - I’m sorry - I can call you Blasty if you’d prefer -” Shouto begins saying hastily, and he’s suddenly shocked to the core when he realises what he’s just repeated. He’s said this before already - but to someone else.

“I can call you Deku if you’d prefer …”

That was the first time he’d met Izuku.

Katsuki’s looking at him with such emotion and conflicted fires burning in his eyes that it’s making Shouto’s - no, it’s Eijiro’s - heart react on its own. It’s beating and stuttering and ramming against his ribs like a mad bull against its cage bars. And Shouto knows it’s not him. This is Eijiro reacting to Katsuki by himself - he’s not here to experience it, but Shouto is.

It reminds him of how he feels whenever he’s with Izuku.

And in that second, Shouto realises. He realises it all.

“I think you already know that Midoriya and I aren’t sleeping together, Katsuki.” Shouto says quietly, and Katsuki’s eyes suddenly flash. “We were never dating. And you knew that, didn’t you?”

“Deku and I aren’t dating - I don’t give a crap -” Katsuki spits, and his voice crack and the way he’s averting his gaze betray him.

“But it’s not about Midoriya, is it? It never was.” Shouto asks, and sees how Katsuki visibly flinches. 

“I - I had to fucking ring Sparky to ask him if he’d seen you. You know that he was literally driving around town looking for you? You know how scared he was that he couldn’t find you?” Katsuki says, and his voice trembles again as his shoulders shake. “How could you fucking forget your job? That was a fucking shitty selfish thing you did.” Katsuki takes a step forward, a shaking hand suddenly pressed over his heart. “You have friends who love you.” 

Katsuki’s eyes flick away and he’s suddenly very quiet as his words drop down to a whisper. “Don’t take that for granted.”

Shouto swallows hard, because Katsuki’s words suddenly make his blood run cold. “Tell me what’s really going on, Katsuki -”

“Don’t - fucking - call me Katsuki…” Katsuki’s voice is trembling and cracking and for a second he looks so pathetic and afraid that Shouto can’t believe he’s looking at the same person.

“Tell me!” Shouto suddenly yells, slamming a hand over Katsuki’s shoulder so he’s got his back against the wall. Fury and a mixture of raw, incredibly emotions begin flashing and burning in Katsuki’s eyes as Shouto glares at him, fuming and furious.

And then Katsuki stiffens, and grabs Shouto by the collar, and tells him in a way Shouto would have never expected in a million years.

Eijiro’s heart is screaming and pounding and his body is reacting to it in a way that Shouto reacted to Izuku - but this is Eijiro’s body reacting to Katsuki by itself. He’s full of heat and a sudden, giddying rush that is making his skin burn and his knees go weak. And it’s just like Shouto predicted. Even though he does not feel anything more for Katsuki other than a sudden pity and realisation, Eijiro certainly does.

It all comes to Shouto in a massive, cold jolt down in his stomach. He can’t stay in Eijiro any longer. He can’t.

But he definitely won’t be able to go until the end of today. So Shouto does the best thing for Eijiro - the thing Eijiro would want most in the world.

His eyes slid shut as he kisses back, Katsuki’s hand still tight at his collar.

Later on in the day, Shouto’s hiding in the library, and he begins immediately writing. Because he needs to explain everything to Eijiro. He doesn’t care what consequences will happen. Eijiro deserves that much at least.

 

Dear Eijiro,

Looking at the date on this note, you’ll probably realise something is very wrong. The truth is, I’ve been here for a while. I’ve just been borrowing your body for a bit, and now, I realise that ‘just a little bit’ was more than ‘just a little bit’. It was too long. Far too long. I’m so sorry. I can’t even begin to express how sorry I am.

 

Shouto taps the pen on his chin, thinking about what memories he’s going to erase before midnight. A part of him is tempted to just get rid of it all. But that emotion Eijiro was obviously feeling earlier with Katsuki still remains in Shouto’s mind. 

So he settles for deciding to just remove everything with Izuku in it. Anything to save Eijiro from all that incredible confusion. Shouto burrows into Eijiro’s head and starts sorting through memories, grabbing ones that he could afford to get rid of. The night with the sparklers and bubbles and Izuku smiling and laughing in joy disintegrates under Shouto’s touch. He removes the moment when Katsuki punches him. He removes it all.

But he leaves that silent confession behind. He doesn’t have the heart to remove it. It’s not Shouto’s memory. It belongs to Eijiro, and he deserves to have it.

 

You’re probably confused. But although I did mess stuff up for you, I managed to fix some of it for you as well. I took the leap for you, and I really hope that it’s everything you wanted. I’m just sorry you didn’t experience it yourself. I left some memories behind, and I hope it’s enough. All of that was for you, not for me.

I’ve stolen lots of moments from people that I didn’t deserve. That I never deserved. They don’t belong to me, but I don’t have a choice. All I can do just remove them so that the record is broken. But I didn’t want to do that for you, because you and Katsuki both deserve to remember it.

Good luck on your football match tomorrow. I can’t afford to ruin that for you - but I know how strong you are. Being you for six days has really shown me a lot more than I could have possibly learnt in millions of years.

So, I thank you for that.

Goodbye, Eijiro. I’ll move on, and you’ll never see me again. I’m sorry. I just hope I managed to do everything right.

Yours, S -

 

“Oh, here you are, Shouto.” Izuku chirps, entering the library. 

Shouto shoves the note into the book and tucks it into his bag as Izuku approaches him. Izuku hasn’t been here yet today and he’s only mentioned that he’s got something to do and he’ll be back later, and this is the first time Shouto has seen him today. Izuku smiles, and Shouto tries to smile back, but it ends up looking painful. Izuku suddenly looks worried.

“Hey, are you all right?” Izuku asks him, and Shouto looks up at him with a smile.

“Wanna have a date tonight?” He asks, and Izuku’s eyes light up, despite the fact the sadness in Shouto’s heart is weighing him down.

“Sure! Okay - can I meet you at Kirishima’s? I really need a distraction.” Izuku asks breathlessly, and Shouto nods.

“Yeah, his parents are out this evening. What about seven?” Shouto asks, and they agree, heading home from school after their afternoon classes.

So when Shouto gets back to Eijiro’s house, he quickly gets everything ready, because he knows what’s going to happen after this evening. He can’t stay here any longer. He’s got to go - and not just leaving Eijiro. He has to go for good. He can’t invade anymore lives. He can’t ruin Izuku’s and everybody elses lives just by being here.

But in truth, Shouto doesn’t know what he’s going to do. Can he leave a body forcefully? Can he survive out of one? But if he can’t, then surely it’s for the best. Because all Shouto is is a floating soul. He’s the ghost of what he used to be, although he doesn’t know what that is. He’s got no body anymore, even if he’d had one before.

The thought of leaving Izuku is making his heart shatter, so he quickly gets to work to distract himself. He takes out Eijiro’s letter and puts it on the desk in his room. He sees how he hasn’t signed it off completely because Izuku interrupted him, but actually Shouto likes more of the anonymity of just ‘S’, so he leaves it that way.

The truth is, Shouto doesn’t want anyone but Izuku to know who he truly is. To know as much about Shouto as he knows about himself.

But the truth hurts so desperately, and it’s making Shouto want to collapse to his knees and cry his eyes out.

He sets out fairy lights and candles all over the table and after getting into some casual but slightly smart wear, he summons all of Eijiro’s cooking skills from working at the waffle house to begin cooking onions in oil, and the smell is divine. Shouto concentrates on what he’s doing, cutting up vegetables and preparing everything for Izuku to arrive. He doesn’t know whether Eijiro’s the one who’s good at cooking or whether it’s his own knowledge, but he simply goes into autopilot and lets his hands do the work and numb everything around him until it’s rushing past his ears like water in a river.

The sound of the doorbell breaks him out of it and Shouto looks up to see it’s five to seven. Izuku must be eager.

Shouto is not.

Izuku’s smiling as Shouto opens the door, but Shouto immediately notices something is wrong.

“What’s wrong?” He asks, and Izuku’s eyes flicker.

“It’s okay. My mom was just being sick. A lot. She went back to hospital this morning.” Izuku says, and Shouto’s fingers tighten around the door frame. So this is why Izuku wasn’t here for this morning’s lessons, and suddenly he’s filled with dread.

“How is she? Should we go and check she’s okay -” Shouto began saying, but Izuku shakes his head.

“It’s always the first weeks after treatment that it’s the worst. It’s normal. And she keeps saying she’s used to it, but -” Izuku suddenly swallows. “But I don’t like how I’m used to it too. She always wakes up in the evening or in the middle of the night and pukes and I hate how I’m adjusted to that - and now she’s got this infection in her lungs and I - just - I-I just -”

“Hey, it’s okay.” Shouto says, wrapping his arms around Izuku’s shoulders. “It’s okay. It’s okay.”

Izuku immediately falls into his embrace and they wrap their arms around each other tightly, almost like they’re binding their life force tightly together. Shouto feels how fragile Izuku seems, and his pulse seems to be quickened where he’s rested against Shouto’s chest.

“It’s not working, Shouto. Everything they’ve used isn’t working.” Izuku breathes, and his voice is cracking violently as Shouto hugs him hard.

For a second, Shouto doesn’t want to let go. Because after all this - after all with Izuku’s mom - Shouto’s going to abandon Izuku. He’s going to be abandoned again and Shouto doesn’t want to do this because he loves him - he can’t - he just can’t - 

But he has to. He must tell the truth before it’s too late.

“Hey - this is all so pretty. All the lights.” Izuku breathes, pulling away to run his tearful eyes wide in wonder as he looks over them all. “Like the jellyfish. Or the lights in Jirou’s treehouse.”

“Or the sparklers.” Shouto adds, flicking on another strand of lights that run across all the table.

“Yeah. They’re so beautiful. Thank you.” Izuku whispers, looking up at him with some kind of bittersweet joy on his face.

“What can I say, Eijiro’s a great guy.” Shouto says, turning around to put something in the pot that was boiling currently.

“Yeah, but - so are you.” Izuku says, perching up on the counter as Shouto turns back and begins chopping up carrots again slowly - very slowly - because he’s so carefully considering what to say next.

“Eijiro has friends and family and a sports team that love him, Izuku.” Shouto says, indicating to where there are so many pictures on the wall of the opposite room. His parents, his old dog, his football team - there’s even pictures of Eijiro taking a selfie with Katsuki and Kaminari in the background of it. “And that he loves too.” He swallows hard, still looking down at his strokes with the knife. “It’s everything I’ve wanted. Craved for. Missed.”

“I guess..?” Izuku says, unsure where he’s going with this, and Shouto finally stops chopping as he sighs and sags his shoulders in grief.

“But - it’s not mine.” Shouto whispers, avoiding Izuku’s intense green gaze as he cups the chopped carrots and turns away to face the cooker, dropping them in there as Izuku is silent. “And the longer I stay, the longer I’m damaging him. He didn’t even try to fight me last night.” His voice quavers, betraying his emotions as Izuku watches him.

“We could go back to how it was? It was fine - inconvenient, but we can make it work -” Izuku begins saying, and there’s a slight panic in his voice as he hops off the counter and tries to turn Shouto so he looks at his face, but Shouto can’t bear to, because he knows how much hurt is going to be present on Izuku.

“I can’t do it to anyone, Izuku.” Shouto’s voice is trembling as his fingers tighten around the edge of the counter. “Not to Eijiro, not to anyone. I’m sick of blocking people from being with people they deserve - I don’t know how long Eijiro’s been in love with Katsuki for but it’s my fault that everything’s gone wrong -”

“Eijiro’s in love with Katsuki?” Izuku whispers, and Shouto swallows, looking away again.

“And I can’t do it to you as well.” Shouto’s welling up again as he looks up and sees tears collecting in Izuku’s eyes as they reflect the soft yellow glow of the fairy lights and candles.

“What are you saying?” Izuku’s voice is trembling greatly too, and Shouto inhales and exhales hard, feeling his diaphragm and his throat constrict.

“I’ve been thinking about this for a long time - and I can’t let myself ruin your life too.” Shouto whispers, and Izuku suddenly shakes his head in defiance, grief and shock edging onto his face as he suddenly moves around him.

“How can you say that?” Izuku says in frustration as tears finally fall down his face. Shouto immediately follows him, his own tears falling down as he grabs Izuku by the wrist and whips him around to look at each other in the eyes.

“Do you think I want to live without you, Izuku?” Shouto breathes, his voice cracking as he grabs Izuku’s hands. “Do you think I want to live in a place where you’re not?”

“No!” Izuku sobs, his face finally crumpling as he gives into tears. “We can make it work -”

“I want to believe that. You know I want to believe that.” Shouto breathes, tears rolling down his face as Izuku sobs. “But what will happen to your life if I’m the person you love? How alone is that going to make you? If you can’t tell anyone about me, then how much is that going to cut you off from your family?”

“It won’t.” Izuku says, but it’s so small and pathetic that Shouto can tell he’s as torn and broken as Shouto is.

“Think about what happens if, really and truly, we stay together for life. What happens if I start waking up as someone who’s married? Who has kids? What if we want kids?”

“But you’re -”

“But I’m not male fifty percent of the time, Izuku. Is that kid I might end up carrying mine, or hers? Am I going to force some poor woman that you’ve never met to have the baby of someone she doesn’t know? But what if I stay for nine months in that woman to have that child. How much of her life will I take away? How will her life ever get back to normal? How will you be able to raise a kid by yourself and be unable to tell anyone who the mother is or why you made that decision? Is that kid going to be normal? Is that kid ever going to know their parents?” Shouto suddenly falters as he swallows and his voice cracks. “And what if that baby ends up having a life like mine -”

“Stop.” Izuku whispers, and he’s turned away from Shouto, arms folded as he’s barely muffling his sobs.

There’s silence for a few seconds, and Shouto slowly approaches him, 

“Most people know that their first love won’t be their only love.” Shouto whispers in a trembling voice as he turns Izuku to face him. “But for me you were both. And that’s the truth. The full, undying truth.”

Izuku’s silent for a second aside from the tears rolling down his face.

“Say something.” Shouto says desperately, still crying himself, and Izuku finally looks up at him.

“I -” Izuku’s got so much pain on his face as he finally looks up at Shouto. “If you go - I’ll be alone - I’ll be alone in this world, Shouto - you can’t go - You can’t - I need you, Shouto -”

Shouto opens his mouth to ask him what he means by that as Izuku sobs, but is interrupted all of a sudden.

Izuku’s phone on the counter suddenly erupts into vibration, buzzing violently with loud rumbles as it almost drops off the edge. Izuku widens his eyes when he reaches over for it and he sounds suddenly afraid as his breathing catches when he looks at the missed caller ID. There are ten missed calls from the same number.

“My uncle - he doesn’t ever call me -” Izuku’s voice is small, afraid, and when his phone erupts into vibrations again, from his uncle again, Shouto’s heart stutters, and dread edges into his stomach because he knows something is horrifically wrong. “Was he calling the entire time..?”

Izuku’s breathing is heavy as he answers it and hold the phone to his ear. Shouto can see how much his fingers are shaking. “Oji-chan?”

“Izuku - thank God! Thank GOD!” Shouto’s never heard this man’s voice before, but he knows true panic and terror in someone’s voice when he hears it.

Izuku begins shaking. “Oji-chan? What’s wrong?!”

“Where are you, Izuku? I went over to your apartment and then your school and -”

“I’m at a friend’s house - but what’s happened? What’s going on?!” Izuku begins getting hysterical.

“It - it’s your mother -”

The phone falls from Izuku’s fingers and shatters on the floor. Izuku looks paralysed, and then he starts shaking and hyperventilating as Shouto is also stood there frozen. Izuku makes a whimpering noise as the panic properly grips him, and Shouto immediately grabs him by the wrist and starts pulling him from the house, turning the hob off and snatching Izuku’s phone from the floor.

“No - no - no - no - this isn’t happening - no! No!” Izuku’s screaming and wailing as Shouto slams the door behind him, not bothering to lock it because there’s no time, and forcefully puts Izuku in the passenger seat of Eijiro’s car before rushing over to the driver’s seat.

Izuku’s looking like he’s having some kind of panic attack but there’s not enough time for Shouto to wait for it to pass if they’re going to make it in time. Shouto doesn’t do up his seatbelt and starts pulling the car out of the drive, slamming his foot down on the accelerator so the tires squeal and holding the broken phone to his ear, not caring that he could get pulled over for it.

“Izuku? Izuku?” Izuku’s uncle is yelling down the line, and Shouto answers it.

“I’m Izuku’s friend - we’re on our way now.” Shouto says, trying to force down the dread and panic in his own voice as Izuku continues to cry and wail loudly in the passenger seat.

“You’ll have to hurry; there’s not much time left.” Izuku’s uncle says, and Shouto can hear the man crying on the other end of the line.

Izuku’s uncle fills him in as Shouto very illegally undertakes several vehicles and jumps a red light, but he’s determined. So determined to get Izuku there in time. He remembers that woman; the mother of the girl he was inhabiting. Her breathing faltering and then fading, and Shouto had stolen that last moment of a daughter and her mother from them both.

He was not going to let it happen to Izuku.

They get to the room, where the nurses and Izuku’s uncle are standing outside, and Izuku practically falls through the door, still sobbing and crying as he collapses to his knees by his mother’s bedside. Shouto’s stood there, frozen - because it suddenly all hits him again. The reek of disinfectant; the stench of hospitals, and that lingering scent of death hovering over him.

Izuku’s mom’s breathing rattles, and she’s so white and frail. Izuku fumbles for her paper-like hand, clawing at it and holding so tightly onto it despite the fact he’s so obviously afraid she might shatter if his grip is too tight. Shouto swallows hard, still paralysed in the entrance of the door.

“Mom! Mom!” Izuku yells in terror, and his mom moves - just a tiny bit, but it’s enough to show she’s there.

“I’m here.” It escapes her lips in a rattling breath, and Shouto tries not to flinch as his heart thrashes against his chest at the horrific sight. He can’t watch - he just can’t see this happening to Izuku, the person he’s loved more than anything in his life, and a kind woman, a sweet wonderful mother who had so much more to give.

But would never be given.

“Don’t cry. Don’t cry.” His mom whispers, and Izuku sobs, a low, mournful sound as he clutches on tighter. “It’s okay, my darling. It’s all right.”

“It’s not all right, mommy.” Izuku whimpers, his voice cracking horrifically. “I don’t want you to go.”

Those six words are out in the open. It strikes Shouto in the chest so hard he thinks he might pass out, and he’s left short for air as he watches, and finally tears escape his own eyelids and start falling down his face.

I don’t want you to go.

And that was the truth Izuku needed to say. The full, undying truth.

Those six words, always unspoken between Izuku and Shouto, but constant. Daily. Every time they kiss each other goodnight, those six words linger, but have never actually left their lips before. And Shouto’s hearing them for the first time - but they’re not directed at him. 

Because at least with Shouto, he’ll fight to get back to Izuku the next day. This isn’t going to happen here.

Izuku’s mom flicks her eyes up, and they’re drooping and look so heavy, but she fights to look at Shouto. He’s frozen again as her gaze is on him, and she silently asks him to come over to her. Shouto forces himself to move, kneeling down next to Izuku as he continues to sob.

“Shouto.” Izuku’s mom rasps, and he’s so taken by alarm it’s a wonder he doesn’t fall backwards, but he keeps his gaze firmly on her, waiting for her next words as her sentence is broken by her shuddering breaths. “I’m glad to have met you.” Her eyes suddenly glint. “Or have we met before already?”

Shouto smiles softly, a tear running down his cheek and dropping off his chin as he averts his gaze. “We have. I’m sorry about possessing your son.”

It looks like she wants to laugh, but she’s too weak for it, so she only smiles gently. “Your mother told me all about you.”

That definitely makes both of them gasp and actually fall back that time. The words plunge into Shouto’s chest and he’s suddenly scrabbling around for air as his jaw drops, and Izuku suddenly stops crying, the words shock him so much. They’re both frozen for a second before Izuku tugs at his mom’s hand, trying to get her attention back onto him.

“M-Mom? Did you say - Shouto’s mother?” Izuku urgently asks his mom as she tilts her head back into the cushion. “Mom - please, you have to tell us - did you see her? Where is she -”

“She’s there.” Izuku’s mom whispers, and suddenly they snap their heads to the side to follow where Izuku’s mom is looking, and she’s looking into the corner of the room where there’s a single chair by the window. “That was her favourite spot. She liked to look out of the window.”

There’s nobody sat in the seat and Izuku can tell they’re running out of time as his mom’s breathing slows again. Izuku shakes her urgently by the hand again, beginning to cry so his words distort. “M-Mom! Mom! There’s nobody there -”

She’s seeing things because of the painkillers. She’s seeing things. Shouto keeps telling himself that but somehow his heart is daring to hope despite the looming aura of death hovering above them. Izuku tries again, his voice going shrill with urgency.

“Mom! MOM!!” Izuku screams, and Izuku’s mother leans back, her thin fingers beginning to loosen in Izuku’s hand.

“I love you. I love you.” His mom whispers, before her eyes focus on the empty chair by the window again. “Okay, Rei. I’m ready. I’m - I’m -”

Shouto freezes, the word slipping from the dying woman’s lips and latching itself onto Shouto’s brain.

Rei. My mom’s name is Rei.

How tragic it is that a boy who’s had his mom by his side his entire life loses her at the exact same moment that another boy who’s been alone for his entire life finds his own mom.

00:01 a.m.

He’s stolen Eijiro’s body again, but Shouto doesn’t care.

He holds on tightly to Izuku’s other hand as his raw, animal-like scream of grief echoes for a long, long time.