Izuku’s pencil tapped a staccato rhythm against his notebook. The clock on the wall ticked quietly, each second matching the tempo of Izuku’s tapping. The classroom was silent for now, but anticipation coated the air. There was a rustle of clothing, a sigh, a yawn, the scrape of a chair. Heavy, punctuated breathing. Izuku’s pencil tapped a little louder before abruptly stopping and scribbling something down. The students were waiting for the final bell. The teacher was strict enough that nobody dared speak. Most were concentrated on actually studying. Izuku wished that he could say the same for himself.
His eyes drifted slowly upwards, but he did not look at the figure directly next to him. This was a disgusting apparition. Its skin was pale white and its figure was horrendously misshapen. One of its eyes was larger than Izuku’s head. What looked to be blood oozed from two orifices in the side of its...body? Something like hair or feathers decorated an appendage that reached out and brushed the edge of Izuku’s desk. Izuku knew better to acknowledge it even as sweat broke out on his skin. He couldn’t focus.
A rasping breath. A mumble too low to understand. Izuku’s hair stood up on his arm. He couldn’t feel the apparition breathing, but he imagined that he did. He just wanted it to move on and leave him alone. He didn’t like it so close to him. He knew it wasn’t real, but that didn’t make it any less terrifying and disgusting.
Hallucinations like this were common in Izuku’s life. He saw terrible things on a daily basis. Figures that almost resembled real life, but were distorted in disturbing ways. If any of Izuku’s hallucinations looked normal, he couldn’t tell them apart from reality. He preferred to think that all of his hallucinations were grotesque, but that was terrifying in its own way. He hated that his mind would do this to him. He didn’t even know what had happened to him as a child to trigger something like this.
Nobody else could see the creature. They couldn’t hear the sliding sound of its skin as it shifted in place, moving around behind Izuku instead. Izuku eyed its other appendage as it came around Izuku’s other side to touch at his chest and neck. Izuku closed his eyes. He still couldn’t feel it, but he wanted to vomit nonetheless.
Please leave. He begged silently. He tried his best not to show his fear on his face. He had been taught to never acknowledge the hallucinations. Acknowledging them only made them act worse. Crazier. On particularly bad days Izuku had learned to run home because it was the safest place he knew. He never saw the hallucinations in his house. Please leave! Please leave! Please leave! Go away!!
The hallucinations never listened to him. His mind hated him like that. It took all of his will not to say it aloud. The results would only end up as disastrous. Izuku felt like he was fighting some hidden part of himself when he didn’t even know what it wanted from him.
He heard the creature’s breathing get closer. The hairs on Izuku’s neck stood on end and his skin prickled. His ear tingled unpleasantly, hyper-sensitive to his surroundings. He couldn’t even pretend to write anymore as his eyes squeezed shut harder. But closing them only made him more aware of the sounds the hallucination was making. His hands shook a little-
The bell chimed, and Izuku’s eyes snapped open at the abrupt rush of noise. Students shifted and gathered their things before the teacher called them to attention. Izuku followed through the motions as he stood with everyone else and then quickly gathered his stuff. He tried not to look too strange as he shoved his stuff into his bag. He was already thinking about returning home.
Before he got too far, though, he heard his nickname barked out, “OI! DEKU!” Izuku froze and spun slowly towards the voice. Katsuki stood beside his desk with two of his friends. The hallucination slinked between Izuku’s vision of the other boys, cutting it off, before moving to Izuku’s other side. Izuku tried desperately not to watch it.
“Um...Y-Yeah, Kacchan?” Izuku asked meekly, his eyes already darting to the ground to avoid eye contact. He didn’t want to start anything with Katsuki and his friends. Katsuki could be kind of mean to Izuku, and he really didn’t want to deal with his old childhood friend’s stupid attitude on top of everything else. He just wanted to go home already like all the other students were doing. Most weren’t even giving them the time of day, too caught up in themselves or too used to the scene.
“Aw look at him!” One of Katsuki’s friends said, his smile splitting across his mouth. He leaned through the side of the hallucination and took no notice to how it grumbled more unintelligible words. It didn’t really pay much attention to him either. “He’s already scared! What’s wrong? Seeing things again?”
“I’m not...not seeing things.” Izuku lied and cursed his stuttering. He kept a shaky smile on his face, but he really was uncomfortable and scared. He didn’t want this hallucination near him any longer. If he was bullied enough, though, he would have an excuse for running away. Most of the hallucinations didn’t follow him if he ran...if he didn’t give away he could see them at least.
“What’s the world look like to you, Deku?” Katsuki asked with a sneer and a dark tone as he approached Izuku. He got straight in the boy’s face and grinned before a hand landed on his shoulder. Izuku glanced at it and saw that the hallucination monster was also draped across Izuku’s shoulder. Katsuki’s hand began to burn then with his quirk and Izuku stiffened in fear. His coat sizzled, but it was the scream of the monster that made him really flinch. The monster retracted its appendage and darted in to scream in Katsuki’s ear, furious. Izuku maintained eye contact with Katsuki, terrified for him, but the boy’s smile only seemed to widen.
“Do you see anything that’s real? Dumbass.” Katsuki taunted and squeezed his smoking shoulder again before pushing Izuku backwards. He stumbled on the chair of a desk and toppled over it. The monster remained by Katsuki, attempting to touch him and failing. It seemed to try to attack him, its misshapen teeth biting down on his arm, but it only went through him. He laughed with his friends at Izuku’s fall.
“K-Kacchan, you-!” Izuku began, but he was cut off by Katsuki’s other friend who mocked him and said, “God, what a little freak! What is it? Do we look like monsters?” He waved his fingers around, extending them with his quirk to look spookier. Izuku just thought he looked stupid. Especially compared to the creature who had stopped being furious at Katsuki and who had instead turned its attention back to Izuku. Izuku could see saliva oozing from an orifice as his reflection glanced back at him in the dead dewiness of the creature’s eyeball.
“Shut up!” Katsuki barked at them and slapped one on the shoulder before pushing away from them. “Let’s go already.”
“Seriously?” His friend asked.
“Got better things to do then mess with him.” Katsuki grumbled, but Izuku was only a little surprised. He only said a quiet, “Bye…” as the group of three left. The hallucination slithered after Katsuki instead of Izuku, which was a relief for Izuku at least. Despite still being on the ground, his body relaxed and he collapsed back against the floor and closed his eyes. Other than the chatter of students outside of the classroom and footsteps echoing through the hallways, the classroom was silent. No heavy breathing. No sound of dripping. No ragged words. Just Izuku, breathing easier.
He only gave himself a few seconds before climbed back to his feet and righted the chair he had tripped over. He hadn’t realized that all of his stuff had spilled out of his bag when he had tripped. He sighed and gathered it all up before he left the classroom.
He didn’t like who Katsuki had become over the years. They used to be friends when they had been children running around the neighborhood together and taking over the preschool playground. Katsuki had always been a jerk who had been full of himself, but he hadn’t completely dismissed Izuku’s presence like he did now. He didn’t use to make fun of the creatures that Izuku had seen even though he had known about them. Katsuki actually used to pretend he could see them too, and Izuku had been absolutely convinced that he could. But now he just wondered if Katsuki’s descriptions of the horrible things Izuku could see had only changed how they looked.
Izuku missed his friendship with Katsuki. To this day he still didn’t know why Katsuki had abruptly decided he wasn’t worth his time. Izuku suspected it started when Katsuki learned he was Quirkless. But even for a couple of years after that Katsuki had treated him like a friend (if a useless one, hence the cruel nickname) up until he decided it wasn’t worth the time. Izuku didn’t think Katsuki actually hated him. Izuku just thought Katsuki was wrapped up in his own little world with his determination to go to U.A. High School to become a hero, and that anyone who tried to follow him needed to be shown their place. That wouldn’t stop Izuku from trying, though, and that was why Katsuki kept kicking him down.
Izuku opened up his locker and pulled off his indoor shoes. He leaned down to pick them up and when he straightened, he saw that the top half of his locker was completely taken up by another hallucination. It was almost child-shaped, but its limbs were bent at unnatural angles. It groaned as if in pain as its long hair draped over Izuku’s shoes. Its beady eyes watched him. Izuku had to put his shoes on the shelf it was sitting on. But that required reaching through it.
Izuku pretended to look at his phone to buy himself some time and to not look suspicious to the hallucination. If it even got the hint that he was acknowledging it, Izuku ran the risk of it getting angry. And though it couldn’t hurt him anymore than the other one could hurt Katsuki, Izuku could still hear the noises it could make and he didn’t want to make them angry. They looked even worse when they were angry.
He had learned his lesson the last time one of them had gotten angry, although it had been only a dream of sorts. He and Katsuki were hunting the hallucinations when they were seven years old. There was a particularly ugly one that liked to hang out at the park that they liked, so Katsuki had suggested that they fight it. Izuku had been nervous but on board for it because Katsuki was his cool and strong friend, and they were going to be a hero duo together. They could take on the playground monster! At the time Izuku wasn’t sure what he had thought they could do, but it had made sense that they could get rid of the hallucination. He wanted the playground to be fun again.
Something happened that day. Izuku didn’t remember the full details of it. He supposed that his mind got particularly bad when they angered the hallucination by calling it out. He remembered the world distorting. He remembered the hallucination leaping at him and both him and Katsuki screaming. And then he had woken up at home in his bed. He had been told that he had passed out from whatever he had seen, and his mother had begged him to ignore the monsters. There was a crescent shaped scar on his arm now, but the source was something Izuku couldn’t figure out. There hadn’t been anything on the playground that could make that shape. For years he had been convinced it had been the monster itself that had made the scar, but he had grown out of that. They weren’t real. The fact that Katsuki had long since grown up and had mocked Izuku for still pretending to see them proved that he had been the only one to really see them.
Izuku continued to look at his phone and reached in to place his indoor shoes on the shelf where the creature was at. It groaned in agony as he did, although Izuku could not feel it at all. He still felt the hairs on his arms spike and he resisted the urge to vomit. He grabbed his outdoor shoes quickly and threw them to the floor before slamming his locker. He put away his phone and pulled on his shoes before fast-walking away from the locker. A full-bodied shudder went through him.
It was better that nobody else could see what he could see, although Izuku desperately wished that there was medication available that would make them go away. Most of his days were spent without seeing many of the hallucinations. The world was as normal as Izuku could expect it to be. It looked like anime on television and how others saw the world. But if he looked, he would find other creatures around. Some of them were by themselves, and other s traveled in groups. The ones that were grouped up were the worst. The hallucinations seemed cannibalistic and didn’t like each other.
Izuku wondered if when he was really little he had been traumatized by something on television to cause this. Or if his mind really was just that messed up. He didn’t like asking about it because it would just upset his mother.
Izuku kept his head low as he walked. He didn’t really have time to worry about these things. He needed to focus on the fact that the U.A. exam was coming up soon and he would need to prepare for it. As he was at that moment, he didn’t think he was strong enough to pass. But what kind of training could he do to actually pass the exam? He didn’t really have a frame of reference.
He passed under a bridge and sighed before pausing. He reached into his backpack and pulled out the notebook he had been attempting to write in at the end of class. He flipped through a few pages to find his ideas. He had written down some things that he had seen Katsuki do to train on the few days Izuku had caught him training, but would Katsuki only get mad at him for copying him? Probably.
The sewer grate beside Izuku began to bubble with thick green slime. Izuku eyed it and made a face. That was the third time today he was seeing these things. It was bad luck. He took a couple of steps away from it and tried to ignore it. His mother had told him he couldn’t let his life revolve around these things that he saw. He had to focus on the real world and not get lost in his delusions. He wouldn’t let this slime hallucination distract him-
The slime burst upwards from the sewer lid, an eye and teeth bulging from it as a clear voice said, “Well what do we have here? A body in M-size…”
Izuku spun around, mouth opening and eyes widening as the first drop of the slime hit his arm. His stomach churned as the shadow of the slime monster arched over him. Not a hallucination!! His mind screamed as he brought his arms to protect himself when the slime came down onto his body and he was swallowed up.