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Izuku flinched as he pulled his hand back close to his chest, the other children scattering in different directions as they shrieked in fear.

 

“It’s the shark!”

 

“He’s so scary!”

 

“My mom says he shouldn’t exist!”

 

“He wants to eat us! Look at his sharp teeth!”

 

Izuku wrung his hands together, looking down at the coral reef below, “I-I won’t do that! I just want to play…”

 

“He’s lying!”

 

“It’s a trick!”

 

“Swim away!”

 

The small group of children scattered, darting into small crevices as they were out of sight within seconds. Leaving Izuku utterly alone in the open waters as silence surrounded him. He looked at his tail.

 

‘Abomination’ they call him.

 

A shark and a koi, creating his odd mixture of a tail. His father a bull shark, the shape of his tail unmistakable with his smooth looking yet rough scales tinged a dark grey green. If he was ‘normal’, that’s all it would be. A shark tail.

 

But the word abomination came from the glittering green patches of koi scales that covered his tail. In the right light, the scales even gave off a goldish colour to mix with the green. The contradiction of scales made it look like someone glued those patches onto his tail, but a tough enough tug confirmed they were a part of his tail.

 

Being a shark in a colony of more passive species of mer has always been lonely, smooth glittering tails with thin, flowing fins being the common sight. Other kids his age take one look at his tail and swim in the other direction, calling names and insults as they disappear behind massive corals. If it wasn’t his tail, it was his teeth or eyes. He knew that even the adults would complain to his mother about him, whispering about how terrifying it was to see his eyes glowing at night or how close his sharp teeth would get to the other kids. Which never was really close since they always swam away.

 

One kid never swam away though… instead he would attack Izuku.

 

Kacchan…

 

They… were once friends… then Kacchan started hanging out more and more with the other kids… and one day he straight up punched Izuku in the face and started calling him abomination.

 

Like the others.

 

And it never stopped.

 

Kacchan would swim up and attack him, mocking him as he hit and smack him.

 

“You aren’t a shark! And you aren’t a koi! You’re just a mistake!”

 

His words always stung more than his hits.

 

Yet…

 

Kacchan was the only one who ever got close enough to him who wasn’t afraid of his teeth or eyes. And… in a way… Izuku made a game out of it. Sometimes it was a game of tag, see how long he could outswim Kacchan before he caught him or huffed out enough insults that Izuku would slow down and let him catch him. Other times, it was a game of how close Izuku could get to Kacchan before he noticed or turned around to snarl at him. It was the closest thing Izuku would ever get when it came to playing with someone.

 

That’s why Izuku never told his mom about the bruises.

 

It was just a game.

 

 

Until it wasn’t.

 

He spotted the familiar pale yellow tail of Kacchan, his scales tips black as his flowing fins matched black edged pattern of his tail. His scales flashed orange as he turned, and Izuku quickly sped after him. Kacchan didn’t seem to notice Izuku following him at first, so he inched a bit closer as he subtly picked up speed. Izuku barely had time to react as Kacchan suddenly spun around and snapped in his face, “stop following me!” He didn’t make any move to lunge at Izuku, turning back as he started swimming away. Izuku waited a moment before following him again, just moments slower than before. Kacchan spun around once more, barking louder this time, “I said stop following me! Nobody wants you around! Especially me!”

 

Izuku paused, “that’s not true.”

 

Kacchan swan at him faster than Izuku could react, punching him hard in the face and sending him backwards. “What makes you think that?! Everyone swims away when they see your fucked up tail! Nobody talks to you other than to remind you of what a mistake you are! If you were to die, nobody would care! Nothing would change! If anything, everyone would be HAPPIER!”

 

Izuku felt oily tears well up, parts of it breaking away and floating up to the surface, “wh-Why would you say that?”

 

“Because it’s TRUE! ” Kacchan screamed. “ EVERYONE HATES YOU!

 

Izuku looked at his hands, his vision blurry from his tears, “not… not everyone…” he whimpered.

 

“Really? Who the hell likes you?” Kacchan pressed, jabbing a finger into Izuku’s chest hard enough to make Izuku flinch away.

 

“My-my mom doesn’t hate me-!” Izuku cried before Kacchan leaned in close to his face.

 

“You really believe that? That your mom doesn’t believe you as the worst mistake she has ever made?” Kacchan breathed.

 

Izuku’s voice caught in his throat. Kacchan was just a liar. He’s just lying to make Izuku feel bad.

 

“You’re probably thinking I’m lying.”

 

Izuku flinched, Kacchan’s accuracy shocking.

 

“Why in the world would she want you? An abomination? Even your father was ashamed of what he did since he never stuck around!”

 

“St-stop it Kacchan!” Izuku forced out.

 

But Kacchan wasn’t finished as he only got louder, “can she even look you in the eye? How do you know she doesn’t cry every night because she has to live with the fact that she brought you into the world!”

 

“I said stop it, Kacchan!” Izuku’s stuttering suddenly disappeared.

 

“She’s a stupid koi who fucked a shark! Now everyone knows and hates her too! And it’s all your fault!”

 

I said STOP!” Before Izuku could properly register what he was doing, he lashed out.

 

His claws dug into flesh, and then there was a red cloud between him and Kacchan. His hand felt wrong, something caught under the nails as he managed to look past the red cloud. Kacchan had been the one to pull away, hands covering the side of his face as he hissed, his eyes squeezed shut as he shook. Oily tears floated through the water, but this time they weren’t Izuku’s.

 

Kacchan finally opened his eyes, the red irises burning even deeper than Izuku had ever seen before, the glare cold despite the flames in his eyes. His hands balled into fists and he pulled them down to his side, revealing his face.

 

Four long gashes ran down the left side of his face, blood leaking into the water in sickening amounts. “K-Kacchan-...”

 

Kacchan screamed , “ You’re a monster! Nobody will ever love you!”

 

Kacchan quickly turned and fled after that declaration, everything numb as static filled Izuku’s head.

 

He… he hurt…

 

More tears floated in the open water, mixing with the lingering blood.

 

He was a monster.

 

He could have killed Kacchan if his aim was lower.

 

His chest squeezed tight, being the only thing he could feel as he turned away from the colony and swam towards the shallow corals.

 

It was the only place he knew that wasn’t anywhere near anything.

 

His mom will hate him now, for hurting someone else so horribly. The colony with either kill him or throw him out to survive on his own.

 

He couldn’t go back.

 

Nobody liked him.

 

Nobody wanted him.

 

His only option was to run away.

 

Forever.

 

His mom could be happy.

 

And so could the colony.

 

As long as he wasn’t there.

 

He squeezed through the gaps of the rock formations, the water visibly shallow as he weaved his way to his hiding spot. It was one of the most spacious of the rocks, even having formations that acted like shelves for all the things he found when exploring this maze like area. It was his safe spot.

 

The shallow water always discouraged the older mer, and the other kids never swam so far from the colony. Even if they did follow him, it was nearly impossible to navigate the area without experience. They wouldn’t risk getting lost in ‘the sharks maze’.

 

Izuku first took a look at his hand, the one that scratched Kacchan… all the blood was gone, but Izuku could still see and feel the skin under his nails. He worked as quickly as he could, digging out that skin and tossing it outside of his hiding rock. He didn’t want to think about it.

 

But his mind didn’t agree as the scene played over and over in his head. He could still feel the flesh beneath his nails, causing him to scratch at his fingers as if to make the sensation go away. He didn’t mean to hurt Kacchan. He never meant to hurt anyone. He just… he said too much. It made Izuku so mad, from the words Kacchan chose to the way he said it. Why didn’t he just slap him? Hit him?

 

He knew those gashes would leave a lasting scar, Izuku ruined Kacchan’s face. He could have blinded him. The colony was right to hate him, he could easily kill any of the other kids.

 

He… he would cut his nails. He’ll break them off! Wrap them in seaweed! Then he wouldn’t be able to scratch anyone!

 

But that won’t change the fact that he hurt Kacchan… seaweed and clipped nails can’t fix what already was done.

 

He wouldn’t survive in the open waters alone, but… he did have a lot of things he liked here. And he knew this are really well. He could corner the small fish for food, explore even farther out each day and familiarize himself with more and more of the area.

 

Yeah!

 

This could be his home!

 

Still… he… he wants to go back home to his mom…

 

His mind flashed back to Kacchan, his cruel words still echoing in his head, ‘How do you know she doesn’t cry every night because she has to live with the fact that she brought you into the world!’ That wasn’t true. He was just a liar… his mom did love him.

 

She would just be disappointed in him… for hurting Kacchan… and she would be even more upset if he kept hiding from her like this. He did remember her crying once before, but it wasn’t because she hated him. He had disappeared for a few days, the days right after Kacchan hit him for the first time. He was so upset, he hid in the corals until he dragged himself back home hungry and tired. He found her sobbing alone in their cove, and the moment he poked his head through the entrance, she perked up and pulled him into a tight hug and refused to let go for several moments as she sobbed into his back. She was sad because he had left. Not because he existed. 

 

Izuku suddenly perked up, his heart pounding as he realized he just done what he did back then!

 

She was alone!

 

He couldn’t just swim away and leave her all by herself again!

 

He darted out of his hiding rock, weaving through the maze of corals in a blind daze. He would apologize to his mom! And to Kacchan! And he will make sure to never do that ever again!

 

He came to an abrupt stop as he collided into something invisible. His spinning head took a moment to stop before he could figure out what just happened. Izuku tried to pull away, kicking his fin only to realize that he couldn’t move it all that much. It felt like it was restrained. He tried to see what he was stuck in, but he couldn’t pull his head back far enough to get a good look. Panic quickly flooded his system as he began flailing frantically, his inability to move scaring him to the core. The more he struggled the tighter the restraints seem to get, leading to him to start screaming.

 

Mom! Mommy!” His voice shrill as he was finding it harder and harder to move. He couldn’t figure out what was holding him down and his fear only spiked as he was getting to the point where he couldn’t move at all. He tried screaming louder, unable to fight this trap anymore and his only hope being someone coming to find him.

 

But…

 

Nobody came.

 

That didn’t stop him from crying out though, shrieking and screaming until his throat felt like it was tearing itself apart with each noise he made. He tried to cry louder but the pain in his throat made each scream even harsher and harsher until it was barely a whisper. Words failed him, and he switched to clicking as loud as he possibly could. It felt worse than screaming at this point, but it was the only noise he could make that would be loud enough to hear.

 

Click.

 

Click.

 

Click .

 

Click.

 

He was harshly yanked upright and he cried out in alarm, though it was barely a whisper as his throat seemed to tear with the noise. He struggled once again, trying to flail despite his aching fins as he was yanked up towards the surface of the water.

 

His head broke through the surface just as his heart froze in his chest, the warmth of the sun beating down on his face unable to pass into Izuku’s chilling veins.

 

He finally knew what was happening.

 

All the kids always spoke about it, the older mer always telling the same tales to keep them in bed late at night, the horrible rumours when anyone from the colony would disappear without so much as a whisper.

 

Traps. Horrid restraining things called nets.

 

Pirates.

 

Oh Poseidon… he was going to disappear !

 

Warm hands wrapped around his arm and he lashed out, newfound strength coursing through him as he tried yanking his arm out of their grip and flailing against the net. He was only greeting by more hands as they harshly yanked him fully from the water and threw him into a hard surface. Needle-like air pieced his lungs as the sudden shift in environments forced the water in his lungs to fight with the air until he choked it all up in painful gasps.

 

“I can’t believe we caught one. It looks like a pup too.”

 

“A pup? Aren’t the mother’s supposed to stay close to ones as young as this one?”

 

“Who fucking knows. It’s mother could be dead for all we know. If it’s around though we better get back to the main ship.”

 

“Wait, look at its tail.”

 

Holy shit are those koi scales on a shark tail?!”

 

Izuku flinched, and a harsh boot pushed him to the ground and held him still in response as the pirates continued to talk.

 

“A koi fucked a shark!”

 

“This is the funniest fucking thing I’ve ever seen!”

 

“How do you know the koi fucked the shark and not the other way around?”

 

Listen , kois always top.”

 

“Shut up and just get this little fucker to the captain. He’s going to be thrilled we found another pup.”

 

Izuku couldn’t help his tears, he wanted to get off this thing and go back to his mom. He still had to apologize to Kacchan. He couldn’t die here!

 

He flailed again, kicking his tail as hard as he possibly could and knocking the boot off him as the pirate yelped in alarm. He pushed himself away and realized in a panic he couldn’t figure out which way was up from down as his disorientation refused to disperse. Instead, his mother’s words made their way back into his head.

 

‘Remember Izuku, if you ever end up cornered and mommy isn’t around, pump up your chest, thrash your tail and bare your teeth. Scream until I hear you and I’ll be there in an instant!’

 

Izuku pushed up his upper body, thrashed his tail as hard as he could then opened his mouth wide and screamed as loud as he could, the air carrying his cry much farther than he thought possible.

 

“Fuck! Fuck! Shut it up!”

 

Izuku ducked away as one of the pirates made a grab at him, then released another blood curdling shriek. He was harshly cut off as another hard boot slammed into the side of his face and knocked him to the side harshly. His head hit something hard and his vision started swimming as he slid against the wall to the ground. He was barely aware of his own whimpering, his strength seeming to have been drained away.

 

It felt like he was underwater again, noise muffled and everything seemed to move in almost slow motion. He could barely focus on the pirates, but managed to make out three of them. One had very yellow hair, tied up in pigtails like some of the girls in his colony. Another had dark hair and smelled heavily of squid ink and something gross that hurt his throat. The third guy had yellow hair as well, but not as yellow as the other. His face was mostly covered with some sort of fabric. They all seemed to be somewhat panicked, the boat lurching to the side before he felt it jolt and move up instead of forward.

 

Then he heard the sound of something scratching against the boat, and even more tears streamed down his face as he heard her voice.

 

“IZUKU!”

 

He tried to push himself up again, but his arms refused to work and he could only force out a muffled, “ mommy…”

 

His chest felt like it was tearing itself apart as he heard her continue to scream and cry, followed by scratching or strong hits against a solid surface. It didn’t stop as the pirates picked him up and carried him farther away from her voice. He tried pulling away from them and towards her, hands reaching out for her voice as he whimpered, the only warmth he felt coming from the tears on his face.

 

“Tell the captain we got one and should set sail.”

 

“What about that koi mer that nearly flipped our boat?”

 

“We’ll lose it eventually. Either that or you and Toga can kill it.”

 

Izuku shrieked, causing the pirate to drop him painfully as he quickly covered his own ears in pain.

 

“Dammit, I thought you kicked this things lungs out already!”

 

“Maybe if I kill that mer it’ll stop?”

 

Izuku screamed even louder.

 

“WRONG DIRECTION YOU FUCKING MORON!”

 

Another kick landed hard against his stomach, knocking the wind out of his lungs as he skidded back against the hard ground. He took a few short breathes.

 

Then wailed once more.

 

Another kick landed on his jaw and he felt something crack. He struggled to push himself back up once more, but his arms wobbled and he fell back to the floor.

 

“Dabiiii! I managed to harpoon it’s shoulder but the mer is too far behind to kill now! Can you tell the captain to slow down so I can throw another harpoon at it?”

 

Izuku let out a small hiss, which only seemed to be acknowledged by Dabi.

 

“No. We have places to be. You can kill other things later. Now go out that pup in one of the tanks under deck. The captain will want to see it moving in water. See how well it swims. Who knows, maybe that fucked up tail also fucked up it’s swimming.”

 

The bright blonde pirate reached for Izuku, and he did the only thing he could think of doing next. He bit her outstretched hand.

 

Only… she didn’t pull away and scream.

 

She paused, looking at Izuku biting her hand, and grinned, “Do you like making things bleed? I do too!”

 

Izuku quickly pulled back as fast as he could, her words disturbing . That didn’t stop her from picking him up despite him trying to weakly push her away. The worst thing was she kept nudging her bleeding hand towards his face, as if trying to get him to bite it again.

 

He tried fighting her the entire walk as she carried him away from the sky and into darkness, a wide grin spread across her face as if she found this all amusing.

 

He couldn’t do anything.

 

He was… useless.

 

(Here is a little picture of Izuku I drew because I really wanted to see how the scales would look and I am NOT disappointed.)

 

Chapter Text

“Now attack!”

 

Izuku sat very still, a bit disoriented from being yanked from his cage and plopped in the middle of the ground with another kid. It took him a moment to realize that there was another mer just across from him, one somehow smaller than him and bearing a sparkling, purple tail to match his hair. His tail was covered in delicate looking fins, which Izuku could only imagine looked stunning in the water. The tail didn’t resemble any fish Izuku had ever seen, which meant that it was very likely he was a siren. He didn’t know a whole lot about sirens, only stories his mom would tell him. She said they were a very elusive group that preferred to keep to themselves rather than mingling with other types of mer, and they were the only species that could use actual magic instead of just making potions. One story that stood out was one that she said the humans had, about how they lured humans to the water with their stunning beauty and magical abilities.

 

His mom also said never to judge someone based on old stories.

 

The dark haired pirate, Dabi, nudged him harshly forward with his boot, “attack the other mer!”

 

Izuku frowned, carefully looking over at the siren who refused to meet his eyes, his head low as if waiting for Izuku to hurt him. Izuku already hurt Kacchan by accident , he wasn’t going to hurt someone else on purpose .

 

Dabi once again pushed him forward, a bit harsher as he snapped, “bite or scratch! Do what you did to Toga!” Izuku dug in his nails to stop Dabi from pushing him forward any more.

 

“Stupid fish!” The other blonde pirate hissed, stepping forward as he aimed a kick. Izuku instinctively curled his tail over his head as he tried hiding. The painful kick landed hard against his tail and sent him skidding sideways, but he only curled tighter in a ball and refused to move. “We may have caught a shark but all we got was a stupid koi! It won’t even try attacking my foot!”

 

“I don’t see why we should bother with this one, that little purple guy is much more aggressive anyway.”

 

“Toga, in case you forgot, sirens were banned from shark fights years ago. Even if we trained it, it wouldn’t matter since no ring will allow one to fight,” Dabi explained.

 

“Then lets go catch another one, a more aggressive one,” the third pirate suggested.

 

“It took us weeks to catch this one, and it was a miracle it was a shark pup. Look, we will just need to figure out ways to make it fight then condition it.”

 

“I can try agitating it again! Poke and annoy it until it lashes out again!” Toga chirped and clapped her hands together excitedly.

 

“From the looks of it, that pup is not going to uncurl for anything, not even to attack.” The pirate sighed heavily, and Izuku peaked out from behind his tail to watch Dabi drag a hand through his hair. Those cold, blue eyes suddenly darted back over to a Izuku, causing him to squeak in alarm and pull his tail tight over his head again. “...Curious.”

 

“What’s curious?” Toga asked.

 

Izuku tried holding himself completely still as uneasy silence filled the area, he didn’t like how still everything felt. He missed the water, he could always figure out how others where feeling based on their movement. The water was especially helpful in indicating any small movements his eyes may have missed. Air was… suffocating .

 

Then Dabi spoke again, “hit the siren. Hard.”

 

Izuku jerked, lifting his tail again to spot the blonde pirate shrug, then step towards the other kid who was pulling himself into his own defensive curl. Izuku didn’t have time to think as he flung himself forward, digging his teeth and claws into the pirates leg before he could even pull back to kick the other mer. He didn’t know what he was doing as his tore through the fabric and left a nasty gash before pulling backwards off the pirates leg and taking a defensive stance in front of the other mer. He hissed as the pirate screamed and swore, stumbling back as he clutched his bleeding leg. “That! Little! Fucker!”

 

A small voice whispered behind Izuku, “what are you doing? Now they’ll just hit you even harder.”

 

Izuku glared at the pirate, holding his ground as the pirate swung around and stalked towards him at alarming speeds. He managed to whisper back, “I couldn’t just do nothing,” before a harsh kick connected to his chest and flung him back, hitting the wall behind them before he slid to the ground. The siren stared at him with wide eyes, which Izuku responded with a soft, reassuring smile. Ignoring the stinging pain in his chest, he then pulled himself closer to the other boy, and whispered low enough so that only the siren could hear him, “My name is Izuku. What’s yours?”

 

The siren hesitated, glancing at the pirates worriedly, then whispered back as quiet as he possibly could whisper, “Hitoshi.”

 

Izuku reached over and grabbed Hitoshi’s hand, giving a comforting squeeze, “we- we will find a way back to the ocean. Until then, I’ll protect you! Okay?”

 

Hitoshi shook his head, eyes focused on the floor as he seemed to mildly panic, “You shouldn’t-...”

 

Izuku squeezed his hand even tighter, “I don’t care. We are in this together, and we will get out together.”

 

As Hitoshi was about to reply, Dabi was suddenly behind them and picking Izuku up and away from Hitoshi. Izuku hissed and turned to try and shove himself away from Dabi when he was dropped roughly on the ground once more. “Alright shark,” he kicked over an odd floppy object, “scratch this sack.” Izuku tried backing away again, but Dabi stomped his foot behind him to keep him from doing so. He didn’t want to do what these pirates wanted, even if it seemed harmless. “I said, scratch the sack. Unless you want Twice to hurt the siren?”

 

Izuku quickly glanced over, noticing now how the blonde pirate, Twice, was leaning over Hitoshi. It seemed like he was itching to hurt something as he glared at Izuku, and Hitoshi was way too close to his feet. His own chest throbbed as a reminder of just how hard the pirate can kick something when angered. Izuku flashed a glare at Dabi, but dragged himself to the sack and scratched it without breaking eye contact. He wasn’t doing this for the pirates, he was doing this for Hitoshi.

 

A cold grin spread on Dabi’s lips, “just as I thought.” Dabi dropped to a crouch and Izuku hissed in response when the pirate leaned too close to his face, “listen close, little pup. You are going to be our shark fighter. You win fights and we get rich. To win fights, you need to know how to fight. I’ll train you to listen to me, and only me, so you will win those fights.” Izuku hissed again, baring his teeth in response. Like he would fight for these people! They took him from his home! And they threatened him and Hitoshi!

 

Dabi tilted his head slightly, as if he was amused, “You are the first shark I’ll have trained, but I’ve seen others do training. Most would punish you for disobeying any orders or showing any signs of rebellious nature, but that won’t work with you, will it? You’ve already shown you refuse to listen even if we tried beating the order into you, torturous means to gain obedience will take up so much time. But you showed your weakness so easily, throwing yourself in front of the siren…” Izuku suddenly felt sick, connecting the dots as he realized what Dabi was implying. “I’ll spell it out for you, since you are still just a pup. Do what I tell you to do, or your new little friend will take the punishment for disobedience, got it?”

 

Izuku kept staring at Dabi, completely still, afraid that if he broke eye contact or even moved too soon, Dabi would take that as an indication to prove his threat was not a bluff. He didn’t want to have someone else take the hits for his mistakes, and he also didn’t want to do anything for these horrible people. He just wanted to go home. Where he could hide among the rocks and his mom would scare away anything that threatened their home.

 

Bright blue flames suddenly snapped to life in front of him, causing him to flinch away from the sudden heat. He’d heard of fire from his mom, while he never saw it before it was unmistakable from all the stories his mom spoke of. Like hot waves of water that rose into the sky, the brightness of it a warning of the heat it threatened. It caused burns instead of cuts or bruises, wounds that hurt as much as jellyfish stings and would continue to hurt if you didn’t cool it off fast enough. The colour was the only thing that didn’t match the stories, his mom always telling him that these destructive forces glowed orange and red. The blue of these flames only made them much more terrifying. “Don’t worry, you get to share any punishment your friend bears, only I will be the one to dish it out. You better grow familiar to these flames, because you will want to see as little as them as possible.” Izuku wanted to pull away as Dabi carefully pushed his fire close to Izuku’s face, “don’t look so sad. This fire will be used exclusively for you, your friend won’t have to worry about any burns. Just internal bleeding.” Izuku closed his eyes, the heat too much for him as he slightly ducked away.

 

Dabi’s hand shot out and grabbed his arm, still coated in blue flames that dug into his flesh like hungry piranhas. Izuku wailed as the pain immediately shot up his arm and spread throughout his body, his small hands trying to pry the pirates off his arm in a blind act of desperation. Just as soon as he grabbed him, he let go, even pushing him back as Izuku landed on his back, clutching his arm in an attempt to ease the pain. He screamed as the pain refused to ease away, curled up on the floor as it was the only place that seemed cool enough to cause any relief. He gasped as he was suddenly drenched in water, his arm still throbbing but not in as horrible, stinging pain as before. Izuku barely noticed himself shaking as Dabi came into his voice once more, his expression… almost amused. “I will let you off easy, use this as a warning, or a reminder of what will happen if you ever decide to step out of line. Do everything I say. Do it perfectly or my flames will be used to encourage you to do better. Do you understand?”

 

Izuku lay on the ground, still unable to stop his own shaking. His voice refused to work, but he didn’t want the pirates to know about ability to speak anyhow. Instead, he shakily nodded his head in response, his muscles feeling stiff as he did so. Izuku couldn’t look at Hitoshi, not wanting him to see the pain he felt.

 

He was fine.

 

He was fine.

 

“Good. Now follow my commands exactly…”

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

Hitoshi was frozen in his spot the entire session, still trying to fully understand why this complete stranger would go through this just to help him. He had always been left to fend for himself, his tribe casting him out because of the colour of his tail. His mother was the only person who cared for him, then she got sick. And one day… she didn’t wake up. He didn’t know magic because the tribe never taught him, and his mother was too busy caring for both of them to try and teach him anything. He didn’t know how to hunt for himself, the fish too fast for him to catch and anything slow enough being difficult to crack open or too painful to try and eat. He had grown so desperate that he didn’t think twice about the fresh fish carcass lying on the ocean floor. The pirates dragged him up, and he did everything he could to fight back, biting and scratching and screaming until they bound and gagged him. They were upset about catching him.

 

Everyone was always upset upon seeing him.

 

He should’ve just starved.

 

Then they caught him. Izuku.

 

Hitoshi has already given up when they dragged Izuku on board. A shark. Just what they wanted.

 

He heard them talk about these shark fights, and he knew a useless creature like him would be the perfect punching bag. It wasn’t like he could do anything about it either, so he might as well just accept his fate. Then the shark surprised him, ignoring the pirates as he chose instead to just observe Hitoshi. Then he surprised Hitoshi again as he prevented the pirate from kicking him in the ribs, taking the hit from the pirates anger instead of moving out of the way, then casually asking for his name like he wasn’t some deformed creature that didn’t deserve any mercy. He treated him like another mer, an equal, maybe Hitoshi could go as far as saying he was looking for a friend . Imagine that.

 

Making friends in a place as horrible as this.

 

Now he was tool for Izuku’s loyalty. Threats made towards him instead to make Izuku do what the pirates wanted.

 

And all it did was confuse Hitoshi to the point where he couldn’t think properly.

 

Why?

 

Izuku just met Hitoshi and he suddenly was putting everything on the line for his safety. Why did it matter to him if Hitoshi got a few bruises? He didn’t know Hitoshi other than his name, he didn’t know anything about his life, about his curse. So why?

 

It didn’t help when Izuku would cast a small glance over to him every so often, his eyes quickly scanning over him before a small smile escaped him and relief filled his eyes. As if he was glad Hitoshi was still uninjured, even though he had just endured a horrible burn and was taking any hits with no protest. He didn’t understand why his chest squeezed every time the dark haired pirate growled at Izuku or brought out those dreaded blue flames. Or why his breath would catch when Izuku squeaked in pain when the flames got too close. Hitoshi didn’t know this other mer all that well either. Just his name.

 

So what was this sudden feeling? This sudden urge to go to him and comfort him, protect him like he did for Hitoshi?

 

He never had these feelings before.

 

And he couldn’t make any sense of them.

 

Even when the pirates declared the session over, he was still lost in his thoughts, his confusion still lingering over unanswered questions he didn’t know how to put into words. He barely moved as he was carried out of the room and dropped into the glass box filled with stale water. He nearly darted into the glass wall in front of him when he heard distinct tapping noises come from beside him that finally snapped him out of his dazed state.

 

Was that horrid pirate lady back to talk about those horrible desires she had?

 

But… she always tried aiming for Hitoshi’s face, and as he looked up, he saw nobody was in front of him.

 

The tapping came again, and he flinched before turning his head towards the source of the sound. He almost shrieked when he saw those iridescent green eyes staring back at him in the dark of the room. As he willed his eyes to adjust to the dark for once, he realized it was Izuku, in a tank similar to his next to him. He had pressed his hands against the glass, giving a small wave to match his small smile. Pained smile. Even in the dark, Hitoshi could see small burns covering Izuku’s upper body, the one on his arm being the worst as it blazed an angry red. It seemed his tail was unaffected though, either not as sustainable to burns or Izuku managed to keep it out of the line of fire whenever Dabi grew slightly impatient.

 

“Can you hear me?” Izuku’s voice was quiet, any pain he may be feeling kept well out of the tone of his voice. Almost like he had practiced doing so before.

 

Hitoshi looked away, it was his fault Izuku had those burns. He didn’t deserve to talk to him like a friend.

 

“Are you okay?”

 

Hitoshi flinched, ducking his head even though Izuku couldn’t see his face from his angle, “why are you asking me that? You’re the one who got hurt.”

 

“You’ve been here longer, and you look like you haven’t slept in days. And… I’m just worried.”

 

“Why worry about me? You barely know me.”

 

“We are both in the same boat, aren’t we?”

 

“So? Doesn’t that mean you should just defend yourself?”

 

Izuku fell silent for a moment, and Hitoshi wondered if Izuku never thought of doing something like that. Maybe now he would just look out for himself-?

 

“It’s very lonely only caring about yourself… I… don’t like being alone.” Hitoshi spun around, landing his gaze on Izuku and noticing just how quickly his expression changed from soft encouragement to knowing sadness. “It’s not like I thought about it either… I just… don’t like seeing others get hurt either. Especially if I can do something about it.”

 

“But it just causes more problems. I cause more problems for you!”

 

Izuku looked up at him, his smile suddenly blinding, “no you don’t.”

 

Hitoshi was taken aback, “of course I do! You are only fighting because if you don’t, they will hurt me ! That just puts all the pressure on me and that makes me the source of your problems!”

 

“It would be much worse if you weren’t here at all.”

 

Hitoshi froze.

 

“If you weren’t here, they would just hurt me. More and more until I did what they wanted. I would be much sadder because… I would be alone. But with you here, I’m not alone. And I can fight for more than just your safety, but also for our freedom. It would be harder to fight to escape alone, when there’s nobody to talk to or to listen to. It gives me… hope, that you’re here.”

 

Hitoshi shook his head, “but- I’m-!”

 

“It’d be nice… if we could be friends…” Izuku cut him off, a hopeful glimmer in his eye. Hitoshi saw his own reflection in the glass, merging with that of Izuku on the other side. Glittering eyes that watched others in his tribe work together and the smiles they brought to each other's faces. The same eyes he bore as he hoped that someone would reach out a hand and let him join their game. He couldn’t stop himself from reaching back, inching towards the glass until he was right in front of it, his palm against the glass and matching Izuku’s hand.

 

“I guess… it could be the one good thing about this place…” Hitoshi whispered, a smile creeping onto his face for the first time in what felt like ages.

 

“So… do you remember where you are from?” Izuku asked.

 

Hitoshi nodded, remembering the chilly water that sparkled a bright blue on especially cold days, “closer to the North Star… the water is pretty cold, and much bigger mer live in the waters. Especially beluga and salmon shark tribes.”

 

“Salmon sharks?” Izuku pondered.

 

“They are very common up north, they look scary but some can be really big softies.”

 

“Wow, I wish I knew of nearby shark tribes…”

 

Hitoshi was now growing somewhat curious by the comment, “didn’t… you grow up in one?”

 

Izuku looked down, almost like he was embarrassed, “didn’t… you notice my tail?”

 

Hitoshi frowned in response, tilting his head, “what about it?”

 

“It has two different types of scales… a shark tail with patches of koi scales… an… abomination…”

 

Hitoshi tried to peer closer, the glass not making it easy to really get a good look at it though, “why call it that? You can swim with it, can’t you?”

 

Izuku jerked, “I can… but I’m a mix of two totally different species-!”

 

“It makes you something new, right? Something nobody has ever seen before. Unlike me… my tail is an omen of curses and bad things.”

 

Izuku copied Hitoshi in trying to peer through the glass to look at the other’s tail, “because it’s purple?”

 

“Purple sirens are cursed. And that curse drags down the tribe. They have evil magic and are destined to cause trouble…”

 

“How do they know all that?” Izuku presses his face against the glass.

 

“Because it happens every time a purple siren is born. Either it’s evil magic or bad luck.”

 

“That doesn’t mean it’ll happen to you.”

 

“It already has… I no longer have a family, no way to ever learn magic, and now I’m trapped here. I’m cursed .”

 

“What about… meeting me?”

 

Hitoshi looked over.

 

“Was that bad luck?”

 

Hitoshi looked down at his tail once more, “no… no it wasn’t.”

 

“Maybe the bad luck… was that we didn’t meet sooner . We may have became friends sooner too.”

 

Hitoshi flashed a smile once again, “yeah… maybe my luck is turning around… even just a little.”

Chapter Text

Katsuki looked over at the Midoriya cove, the echoing cries he’s been hearing for days fallen silent for the past week. Seaweed still covered his face from Izuku’s scratch, a scar in the making underneath the vegetation. 

 

Izuku.

 

He went missing two weeks ago. 

 

But he wasn’t missing entirely. Everyone knew what actually happened. His location though was a mystery.

 

Two weeks ago, when he decided to say something stupid enough to actually make meek, little Izuku snap. It was so bad, that it left them both speechless before Katsuki said even more horrible and harmful things and swam away in a huff. He tried pretending the scratch didn’t hurt, but everyone noticed the blood and dragged him back to his hag mother. Not like he would tell anyone that the wimpy shark did this to him, so he made up the story that instead he fought a lone mer. 

 

Then the wimps mom showed up to ask if he’d seen Izuku, and noticed the seaweed. Then she was darting off into open waters and leaving Katsuki behind in dazed confusion. 

 

She showed up several hours later with a metal stick stabbed right through her shoulder, tears basically bubbling around her as she wailed not from pain, but from her lost son. Even as the tribe healers took out the stick and patched up the hole, she continued crying for days, calling out Izuku’s name whenever she took a breath until she fell into a deafening silence. 

 

This was all his fault.

 

He told that idiot that nobody loved him, that he was better off dead. 

 

But Katsuki was wrong. 

 

Everyone around him seemed to be much gloomier, the normal cheerfulness that came from the Midoriya family now vanished. Mrs Midoriya barely left her cove, deep in grief for her lost son. Who knows what those humans were doing to Izuku, things that hurt to think about too much. Katsuki managed to hear the now quiet sobs she lets escape at night. He hated Izuku. 

 

He hated him because everyone else hated him. 

 

He hated him because he knew that everyone else had been slowly warming up to him. Even if they were hostile he noticed how the other kids slowly started getting closer each day. How the adults would not watch every movement Izuku made but instead every second movement. 

 

And he hated him because Katsuki pushed him to be the thing he worked so hard not to be.

 

He was stupid. 

 

Getting caught in pirate nets. 

 

He was going to die on that ship. 

 

Like every mer before him.

 

Or he wouldn’t.

 

Izuku was a stubborn idiot. The only reason he would die was because he gave up.

 

And that dumbass never gave up.

 

He tapped on the seaweed covering his face, swarming, angry thoughts darting around his head like a swarm of panicking minnows.

 

He hated Izuku. 

 

But he didn’t hate Mrs. Midoriya.

 

Mrs. Midoriya gave him warm treats on cold days. She gently tapped his head instead of forcibly ruffling it like those other hags. She smiled even when he scowled at her. She was nice.

 

It pissed him off to hear her crying every. Single. Day.

 

And it pissed him off even more now that she was quiet .

 

He needed to do something. 

 

What the hell was he doing?

 

Why was he at the cove entrance? Leaning in and looking for her?

 

Why did he swim inside, checking each nook and cranny until he saw her sitting alone in the dark?

 

What the hell was wrong with him?!

 

“Mrs. Midoriya.”

 

She jerked, then looked over and quickly plastered on a fake smile, “oh, little Katsuki, what are you doing here today?”

 

He didn’t have to look up to notice the oily tears gathering in the highest cranny. 

 

He balled his hands into fists, shaking in anger, “he’s not dead.”

 

Mrs. Midoriya froze, “Pardon?”

 

I said he’s not dead!” Katsuki screamed. “ He’s stupid and stubborn and wouldn’t die because of some stupid pirates!”

 

Mrs. Midoriya let a real smile break free, almost hidden behind the fake one, “he is stubborn… isn’t he.”

 

“If he doesn’t come back by the time I go up to the surface, then I’ll find him and drag him and his stupid tail back here! Then he can be stuck down here for once instead of following me around like a stupid guppy!”

 

Katsuki quickly turned tail and fled before Mrs. Midoriya could reply, darting out of the cove and as far away as he could swim.

 

He’d always wanted to go to the surface, he knew some mer in the colony knew enough magic to at least tell him how to switch his tail for legs and walk on the surface. His mother always droned on about how odd those surface dwellers were, which led to her aggressively raving about how horrible humans were. Lots of stories came from her, talk of selling other creatures like animals, things called black markets where parts and slaves were sold, humans who hurt magical beings so they could make their own magic more powerful. 

 

They weren’t all terribly though.

 

There were also places she could never describe because they were indescribable. Events she couldn’t fully understand but were interesting enough to urge her to join. Strong fighters.

 

People called knights who used sharp sticks. Centaurs who towered as tall as trees and ran faster than the wind. People who could change the shape of their body on a whim. Giant creatures with wings that could control a powerful thing called fire.

 

There were so many, he couldn’t remember them all.

 

But he was going to fight them all.

 

He was going to prove he was the strongest both in water and land! 

 

He couldn’t do that with this horrible nagging in the back of his head. 

 

The idea that Izuku beat him.

 

He should have swam back and fought Izuku to prove that a little scratch was nothing compared to what he could do.

 

He was going to find Izuku.

 

He was going to drag him back.

 

And he was going to fight him!

 

So what if it made his mother happy again. 

 

He was going to do this to prove he was better than him. 

 

That’s it!

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

Hitoshi leaned against the glass, unable to take his eyes off the new burns spotting Izuku’s arms and back. It was hard watching the sessions, since that was the only thing he could do during those times.

 

Watch .

 

He couldn’t get close to Izuku, he couldn’t pick him up when he fell, and he couldn’t utter a word to him. 

 

He just had to watch.

 

They were lucky that Dabi hadn’t burned Izuku as bad as the first session, but that didn’t mean he didn’t see Izuku flinch each time he noticed even a flicker of light. It didn’t have to be blue either, normal red flames brought out the same reaction. Dabi’s fear tactics were working like a charm.

 

The part that hurt Hitoshi the most was how positive Izuku remained, how after each session he would smile like the burns didn’t continue to sting. His voice wouldn’t wobble when he talked to Hitoshi either, clear as day as he told him the same stories Izuku’s mother told him beforehand. Almost like… he pushed everything to the back of his mind, into the corner where he didn’t have to ever look. 

 

They have had seven training sessions so far, but that wasn’t a session per day. It was difficult to figure out time when he hasn’t seen the sky in weeks, but sometimes he would see light filter through the cracks of the boat. It would move across the room until it disappeared, and Hitoshi managed to count that happening three times between two sessions. Three days between each session… including the sessions that added up to twenty-eight days. 

 

He missed the full moon again.

 

How many more would he miss?

 

Izuku tapped on his side of the glass, catching Hitoshi’s attention, “What do you miss the most?”

 

Hitoshi looked at his hands, “you mean… before we were left down here in the dark?”

 

“Yeah… I miss my mom…” Izuku sighed, a hint of sadness creeping in his voice for the first time. “She was always there when I was scared or sad, and she always sang to me when I had trouble sleeping.” Hitoshi noticed Izuku was wringing his own hands, eyes low as he thought before he spoke. “When I got stuck in that net. I called for her. I knew she was trying to find me, and I knew she didn’t know about my secret spot. But when she found me, I was already in that boat…” Hitoshi then noticed him slightly shaking, not as bad as the day his arm got burned but enough to be noticeable from the corner of his eye. “The pirates said they ‘harpooned’ her. Mom once told me a harpoon was a big stick humans used to kill whales… so did they kill her with that horrible stick? Did I-... did I kill her?”

 

Hitoshi saw the tears floating to the surface of Izuku’s tank, almost like a slap to the face as he watched each one gently float until it made a noticeable bubble. How long had he been wondering this? How many nights did he lay there with this question running through his head over and over? He wanted nothing more than to swim through these glass walls and comfort his friend… but he couldn’t do that. 

 

Instead he replied, “did the pirates say they killed her?”

 

Izuku paused, taking a moment to think. To remember. Then he shook his head, “they… said they got her shoulder…”

 

Hitoshi tapped his side of the glass to catch Izuku’s attention, “then she is alive. You lived with a colony, right? That means you have healers and scouts. They would have helped her.”

 

“They… never liked me…” Izuku whispered.

 

“Did they like your mom?”

 

“They… they did. She had lots of friends even if they didn’t like me that much…”

 

“Moms don’t die easily. I’m sure she’s alive,” Hitoshi nodded.

 

“She’s all alone though… last time I went missing she broke down… I thought I would never see her smile again… what if I really broke her this time?”

 

Hitoshi couldn’t help but admire Izuku, even if he was at his lowest. He wasn’t crying because of his burns or his own situation at all.

 

He was crying because he was worried about others.

 

“You said she had friends, they will help her through it. Instead of thinking how she feels now, why not think about how she will feel when you swim home? How happy she will be when she sees you swimming into her arms?”

 

Izuku hiccuped, and Hitoshi spotted a smile in his reflection, “she… will have the biggest smile. It will be bigger and brighter than the sun. Especially when she sees me come home with a friend.”

 

It was Hitoshi’s turn to pause, “what are you talking about?”

 

Izuku suddenly turned from sad to flustered, “Well-... I was hoping… I was hoping you might want to come back to my colony with me? Once we got out of here, of course.” Hitoshi was left speechless, he didn’t actually think that much about his own fate. He just had been hoping that Izuku could escape and go back to his colony. If he escaped with him… then he would just… wander, he guessed. “People in my colony don’t know a lot about Sirens so you don’t have to worry about them knowing about that silly curse or anything. In fact, you would be the most popular mer around since Sirens are famously elusive!” Izuku then started to excitedly wave his hands around, “you don’t have to of course! If you have somewhere else you want to go, then that is totally understandable!” He paused again, “It just… would be nice… you know? I could show you everything! But it’s totally up to you-!”

 

“Stars.”

 

“... what?”

 

“You asked me what I missed the most. I miss the stars.”

 

“The… stars… what are they like?”

 

Hitoshi sputtered, “Haven’t you seen them before?”

 

Izuku twitched slightly, “Well… I’ve heard about them… I know they are like the sun, but much smaller. I just… never really saw them myself.”

 

“Why not?”

 

“I was always told the surface was dangerous at night. That’s when the pirates are most active. Especially in the coral area.”

 

“Why not during the day? From those patches on your tail, wouldn’t the shininess of it be especially noticeable during the day?”

 

Izuku shook his head, “the mer in my colony can’t see that well in the dark. And their scales match the glittering of the surface of the water from the sunlight. At night, any moonlight that causes glittering is a dead giveaway.”

 

Hitoshi crossed his arms as he thought more about it, “that’s so odd. It’s the opposite for us. The dark hides the Sirens fins and various colouring at night while the daylight lights up the water and gives away our colours and fins. Most of what I know about my tribe revolves around stars, so it’s always been a constant in my life…”

 

“Can… you tell me more? About the stars?” Izuku asked, sounding almost embarrassed about his own question.

 

“I don’t see why not…” Hitoshi hummed. “On clear nights, it’s one of the most incredible things you could ever witness. Especially up north, where humans are rarely seen. When you look at the sky, there are hundreds- no, thousands- hundreds of thousands of stars! There are so many, it makes it seem like the sky is another sea that you can reach out and touch. Some shine much brighter than others, some even twinkle, but together it’s… it’s breathtaking.”

 

Hitoshi nearly swam out of his skin when he turned and saw Izuku’s face pressed against the glass excitedly, “don’t stop!”

 

Hitoshi let out a giggle, “Well, there are a lot of legends and tales about stars from my tribe. The ancient Sirens used to map them out and use them to travel without ever getting lost.” 

 

“Map the stars? But didn’t you say there was more that hundreds and thousands of them?”

 

“They found patterns, and followed how each pattern would move each day and used that to figure out directions. Those patterns eventually built up stories and legends! There is the star mermaid who was the first to swim in the sky and make all the star patterns, the first siren to ever discover magic, the shark army that defended the queen of the Atlantic, even stories that described how different species of mer got their patterns!”

 

“Is… there one about koi?” Izuku asked.

 

“I think I remember one… there’s a star pattern that resembles a koi and has more glittering stars than any other star pattern. They say that there used to be more glittering stars in the sky, but the sun was very jealous of how pretty they all were. The sun started to shine at night just to prove they were better, but the constant daytime started to heat up the sea and hurt the mer living there. The glittering stars hated seeing the mer be forced out of the ocean from the constant heat, and decided to descend from the sky to the ocean. Each star dropped into the ocean, and became koi mer, each pattern on their tail unique and sparkling. When the sun saw all the koi, they realized they could only glitter when the sun chose to shine, so the sun retreated back to just being out during the daytime. With night coming back to cool the seas, the mer returned to their homes and rejoiced. The koi star pattern is said to be the last one that never descended into the ocean, up there to negotiate with the sun whenever they got jealous and threatened to take over night again.”

 

Izuku’s eyes were wide and sparkling, “w-wow…” he wagged his tail as he swayed back and forth, “so there’s a story like that for every pattern?? That’s so cool! I want to see the stars! And the koi star pattern! Oooo, is there a bull shark as well? Or a fighting fish?”

 

“I’m sure if I saw them again, I could remember their stories…”

 

“Then we will see the stars!”

 

Hitoshi jolted, “What?”

 

Izuku smooshed his face even more against the glass, “I have a plan. Didn’t you notice how these things are not all glass?”

 

“So what?”

 

“There’s wood holding it all together! We both have claws, we can tear apart the wood from this side and open up the top of these tanks!”

 

“Th-that would take forever though!”

 

“Not if we aim for those latches! If we can break those off, the lid will pop open and we can sneak our way out of the dark and back into the sea!”

 

Hitoshi squirmed slightly, “what if the pirates notice the holes?”

 

“We will only work on the latch, right in the center. They can’t see it from where they stand. As long as we do it when they aren’t in this room, we can dig it out until it gives!”

 

Hitoshi failed to suppress his rising hope, “it… could work…”

 

Izuku smiled big, “we will see the stars faster than you can say ‘star pattern’!”

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

Izuku hit the water hard, his face stinging as he sank to the bottom of his tank. Everything was sore or stinging, but that didn’t matter in comparison to the overall experience. He was shaking again, so much that he managed to push himself into a corner as he curled up as tight as he could. There was another mer. 

 

Another shark mer. 

 

Izuku didn’t fully understand why he was there, all he had known before that moment was that he was getting dragged out of his tank on a day he was normally left alone and Hitoshi was left behind and watching him with wild eyes. They put something over his eyes, and when they took it off he couldn’t recognize anything. Only that he was in a round, empty tank and humans, more than he could count, circled above him. Dabi’s warning glare kept him quiet, but he couldn’t help his shout of shock when they dropped the other mer in front of him.

 

The image was ingrained in his mind, the mer’s eyes wide and bloodshot, his rib cage showing and his teeth bared as he was nearly foaming at the mouth. 

 

He was only a little older than Izuku.

 

Izuku wanted to ask him who he was, why were they there; when the other mer spun around at the sound of his voice and lunged without missing a beat. Izuku only dodged on pure instinct, trying to spit out any form of reason as he kept diving out of the way of the mer’s claws. The humans screamed and yelled, distracting him for a moment too long…

 

And the mer tore a double gash across his face that sent him falling backwards. Grit fell into the wounds, making each one sting even more, and making it harder and harder to try and talk as he failed to move fast enough to avoid the onslaught of slashing. Ringing drowned out any other sound, his head feeling stuffy as he tried to keep moving .

 

His back hit the wall at some point, his eyes filled with tears as he watched the mer shark lunge for his throat. At the last second, Izuku threw up his arms and sent out his own counter slash. He only felt his claws connect with the other mer for a second, feeling his own claws tear through the skin so easily, his eyes squeezed shut in terror. 

 

His hand felt sticky.

 

He cracked open an eye on when he no longer felt the frantic presence of the other mer, then choked on his gasp.

 

The mer lay in front of him, mouth gaping wide open as his head was twisted to the side with wide, glassy eyes staring up at the blocked out sky. Blood poured out of his neck like a draining bowl, heavy and pooling fast until it was nothing more than the odd drip adding to the pool. 

 

Izuku’s hearing returned, and the cheering of the humans around him crushed him like a boulder. Chanting and laughing as others threw fits of rage and hissed in annoyance. 

 

He tore his gaze away from the mer, Kacchan’s face suddenly replacing the mer’s in a split second. He pressed his palms hard against his eyes, wanting to wipe away the horrible image. 

 

He killed him.

 

He tore out his throat.

 

What could he do? The mer was trying to kill him first!

 

That didn’t make this right! It made it even more wrong!

 

It was self defence. He didn’t actively go for the throat, he just lashed out on instinct.

 

He was still dead.

 

His eyes already showed he had been long dead. There was no hint of anything alive in those eyes.

 

He could have recovered.

 

How? He could have never helped him, and even if he had the opportunity to try, it was too late. He was feral.

 

Was… was he going to become feral? Like the shark mer?

 

Was he going to die desperate and afraid?

 

This… wasn’t the end of it either… was it?

 

He was going to have to do this again.

 

And again.

 

And again .

 

Unless he could escape before that.

 

He made the mistake of glancing at the dead mer, and then everything went black as his mind shut down.

 

The water woke him up, but that didn’t keep the images from flooding his mind all over again as he huddled in the corner.

 

He wanted to go home.

 

He just wanted to go home .

 

“Izuku.”

 

Izuku whimpered, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry Kacchan!”

 

“Izuku!” 

 

Izuku jolted, looking up and spotting Hitoshi worriedly pressed against the glass. He gasped and Izuku flinched. Did… he know what Izuku did?

 

“Does it hurt?”

 

Izuku paused, then continued to try and process what Hitoshi just asked. “H-hurt?” Did it hurt when Izuku tore out that mer’s throat? Or was it quick?

 

“Your face… you have two gashes running across it… did they force you to fight someone else ?” 

 

Izuku burst into tears, scaring Hitoshi as he dug his face in his arms. He whimpered and wailed with each breath as everything crashed down on him. The images didn’t go away. They just got bigger and louder and brighter. He cried until his voice was hoarse and he was reduced to hiccuping, his eyes hurting as he continued to rub them. He didn’t know when Hitoshi moved to try and sit beside him despite the glass barrier, but when he finally looked up, he stopped. Hitoshi was pressed as far as possible against the glass, not looking away as he watched Izuku with only worry in his eyes.

 

“You don’t have to tell me… it’s okay…” Hitoshi whispered, his voice calm. Solid. A constant. Izuku immediately latched onto it.

 

“I-I ki-killed h-h-him…” Izuku gasped. “I di-didn’t want to-to ki-kill hi-him! B-bu-but he tri-tried to k-k-kill me and-! And I-!” Izuku couldn’t continue as everything replayed in his head, over and over going so fast yet also slowing down so he could see every detail. He didn’t care about his hoarse throat as he screamed again, his claws digging into his own head. It hurt so much.

 

It hurt to breathe.

 

It all hurt so, so much.

 

“Izuku!”

 

“Izuku look at me!” 

 

Please! You’re hurting yourself!”

 

Izuku gasped once more, pulling his claws out of his head. The water around him was tinged red with blood. 

 

His own blood.

 

He looked back over to Hitoshi.

 

Who was crying . His fists were balled against the glass and his face scrunched in desperation. “Please… it’s bad enough they hurt you. Don’t hurt yourself. Please .”

 

Izuku pulled his hands close, “I-I’m …” he looked at his shaking hands, the blood washing away into the water. “Hitoshi… I’m sorry…”

 

“Promise me you will never do that again!”

 

Izuku looked over.

 

“Promise! Promise to never hurt yourself like that again!”

 

Izuku stared, wide eyed, then nodded. “I-... I promise.”

 

Hitoshi let out a breath he must have been holding, “thank you…” then floated as close as he possibly could to Izuku. He pressed a hand against the glass, and Izuku slowly copied him, matching their hands against the barrier. 

 

They sat like that for the rest of the night, Izuku slowly pressing his head against the glass as he did his best to forget. To push it all down. Just like the sessions.

 

Only this time he locked the memories away with a lock and key.