I. The Addams Family
~31 Days Until The End of the World~
"For the last time Kaminari: just because you're failing the class, doesn't mean your French professor is the Harbinger of hell."
White smoke sifted off its course through the air as the blonde breathed out a long sigh. As it filtered up his nostrils, the smell of herbs hot on its heels, Izuku felt his eyes begin to burn. He did little more that flick his eyes towards the burning incense in the corner of the greenhouse.
"Light's out." He said softly. The censer flared once, then died without further complaint. Across the greenhouse table, face framed by the waving fronds of lavender, Kaminari Denki went on and on about how he was sure Professor Polnareff had it in for him. Izuku let his whines fade into the background. Fingers knuckle-deep in soil, he continued the meticulous task of ripping out the chickweed that infiltrated his garden. It was a good thing he caught it before it managed to get into the valerian. He would need it to make Iida's sleeping salve and-maybe if he had a bit extra-he'd be able to use some for that tea Tsuyu liked. If he had the time, he'd go over to greet the lemongrass too. They were a bit snippy with him last Monday, but he was sure he could convince them to mature before the new moon.
"I even checked the prophecy again-!"
His thumb hesitated on a tender root.
"What did it say?"
The blond rolled his eyes.
"Only the usual:
He will come astride a chariot of shadow
Before him, the cosmos will quake and fall
The green maiden shall embrace him beneath the willow
And thus so begins the end of us all
Benediction uttered shrouds a hex merely muttered
The depths of earth will erupt at his call
Look upon death!
The Harbinger of Hell, Heaven's Wrath, Fire and Brimstone
Can only on the promised day atone
When the worlds become one, the night of Harvest's rushed end
Samhain's witching hour, he bleeds alone."
"Why does it have to be 'he', huh?," Ochako's voice rang out from the sapling section. "Last time I checked 'Harbinger of Hell' was a gender-neutral title."
"Nice to see you too ChaCha."
A short harrumph sounded from behind a pine tree. Izuku could feel the beginnings of a migraine creeping into his head. Lemon water would help. What was the incantation for that one clear head spell?
"Honestly the foreign language requirement is just stupid. What does French have to do with Compu-Sci?"
"If it's that bad, just ask Yuga for help."
"The frog? C'mon dude. My midterm is on subjunctives and the supermarket-not the Life and Times of Aoyama Yuga. Hard pass bro."
The hair on Izuku's skin bristled. Just as he opened his mouth to retort, the blonde was already checking his phone. An ungodly squawk sounded out; the pansies curled in on themselves at the sound. Scooping his backpack and skateboard, Denki turned away.
"Shoot, I forgot I have recitation. I've gotta run."
"Go with mischief!" Izuku called after him, but the boy had already disappeared. The slam of the greenhouse door resounded, ringing through his ears, ominous even in the wake of the bright sunlight streaming through the glass. A moment of silence. Another.
"Well shit," said the pine tree.
The chickweed screamed its last regrets as Izuku silently agreed.
IT was shaping up to be a glorious night. The demise of the sun had finally begun in a shock of ominous red sky. Thick, billowing clouds were just visible over the horizon, the sight of them sending a pleased shudder through his spine. Izuku loved a good evening thunderstorm. It was the only time he could tend to the mandrake roots without worrying about waking up the whole house. The others would undoubtedly be rushing their own tasks with the upcoming storm.
So lost in thought, he would've walked past his destination if it weren't for the green and silver flag flickering in the corner of his eye. A banner bearing the letters 'ZKC' hung proud from a window, a mimicry of the same silver wrought letters embossed below the second-story window. There was no mistaking which fraternity you were dealing with as you approached the house.
He took the steps up the porch two at a time, narrowly avoiding the black tail leading into the shadows underneath the old hanging chair.
The darkness didn't stir.
"I'm going to need some help with my mandrake roots."
Not a peep. The smile on Izuku's face turned wry.
"Professor Aizawa seems to have lost his cat again. Wonder what he'll do when I tell him that I saw poor little Bean hanging around the frat houses again?"
Eyelidss shot open, revealing sleepy amethyst irises that seemed to glow in the shadows. A tiny black paw shot out; then the black expanse of fur regressed into pale skin, and claws shrank blunt fingernails. A man crawled out from where the cat once basked, stretching out his lanky pale limbs without concern for his nudity.
"Your ancestors should've burned in Salem." Hitoshi muttered.
"And yours should've drowned."
His friend rolled his eyes, running a hand through mussed hair as violet as those irises.
The two crossed their arms over their chests, snapped twice, and the door sprung open to greet them. The house was as quiet as it could get. He could hear the gentle gurgle of Tsuyu's cauldron from the basement, and Momo animatedly going over plans with Tenya in the kitchen. When the skeleton in the closet reached out to hold his flannel, he saw Fumikage's cloak draped over its humerus so he supposed the warlock was skulking somewhere.
At his side, the shapeshifter kept muttering. His eyes hadn't quite turned back to normal, narrowing into feline slits as he followed Izuku up the steps.
"I don't know what it is but they've been a real pain lately. We just had a whole huge fight about me wanting to know who my birth parents are, so Grimy Dad isn't speaking to me. I slept at their place a few nights ago and Blonde Dad walked in on me in the shower-."
"And he just took a piss! While I was in the shower! I was so shocked I swear he knocked down two of my lives. Is there a spell for helicopter guardians?"
"Not that I can think of."
"Bummerrrrr," He grinned, perfectly straight teeth gleaming as mischief shone in his eye. "Maybe emo-lord can make me a hex."
They slipped off their shoes before entering Izuku's room. The mandrakes stood on the windowsill in the back. Their leaves were deep, healthy viridian, telltale streaks of white showing that they were ripe for the picking. The plants looked innocent enough, but after three attempts at harvesting, Izuku knew better.
Outside, the clouds had finally rolled in, and the steady patter of rain had begun.
It was time. Izuku pressed a dagger and gloves into the shapeshifter's hands. There was a sinister twinkle in the man's eyes as he turned to the plants, flexing his fingers with an almost manic glee.
"Rock on," he commanded his record player, making the appropriate symbol with his hands. The shriek of an electric guitar filled the room. He flicked his index finger, turning the volume up as high as it would go despite inwardly cringing at the thought of bothering the neighbors. Hopefully the roots would like some of the The Killers old stuff. (Elton John only made them scream louder)
A grimace settled onto his face. Taking a deep breath, he lunged.
The next hour or two was spent chasing screaming, plant-babies around the room as they leapt from wall to shelf to light fixture. They were hideous little creatures, with surprising agility for their stumpy arms and legs. Their expressions never changed. Their lips froze in a wide 'O', screams erupting from the pit of their being as they scrunched their tiny, beady eyes together. More than once, Izuku felt a wave of gratitude to Hitoshi for locking the door. When they plastered themselves against the doorknob, it made it easier to drive the dagger into their tiny chests.
But for each gain came a sacrifice. If the young men hadn't locked themselves away, they might've heard the commotion coming from the front door as their resident cosmologist flew in, an unconscious man with a scar over his left eye hanging off the end of her broomstick.
SHOTO watched as the sky turned into an expanse of vermillion and violets, streaks of gray clouds heavy with unshed rain.
"Interestingly enough," The podcast in his ear crooned. "It is the chimpanzee of the subgroup Pan that has the closest format of social organization to the human race. Like us, our ape cousins live in large multi-sex groups following a fission-fusion association pattern. They have recognized that need for others in order to survive."
He was struck with the urge to laugh. Then to cry. He settled for rubbing his thumbs together at an agitated pace, fingers interlocked with one another.
He sat alone in the cool autumn breeze. A lunch box sat at his right side, sushi half-eaten. Fuyumi had made it so meticulously that morning but it was way too much for one person. He didn't have to look about to know that there was no one about that he could pawn it off to. Not that they'd take it from him anyway. He wasn't the best at appearing friendly.
Maybe he was a subgroup of human unto himself. Maybe he was more ape than man. If he were to take a semester abroad in Tanzania, and he just so happened to come across a troop, would one of the females take a glance at his despondent form and think 'kin'?
He'd love it there. Living in trees. Running from predators. Anything was better than here, living under the reign of his father. He couldn't do so much as grab a coffee without seeing the man's face slapped on the front of the UA Herald.
The skin of his thumbs had begun to turn red. The nape of his neck itched. Just as he sat up to slick his hair back, something smacked him in the head.
Right on his left side.
Pain burst in his skull. There was a distant yelling, murky-as if he were underwater- before he came to the surface and it all became clear.
"-SO SORRY! I totally lost control of her during takeoff! Oh Hecate you're bleeding! Anastasia's ghost, what do I do?"
A student crouched before him, concern clear in her wide brown eyes as she wrung the ends of her sweater. She wore riding boots, and Shoto distantly thought that there were no horse tracks nearby. Her hair, a rich burgundy, flew every which way as a sudden burst of wind came crashing down on them.
Then he saw what hit him. Long and sleek, a black broomstick with primly tied straws, hung over her shoulder. He took one look from her, to the broom, to her boots, and immediately began to smell burnt toast.
"Witch," he tried to say, but it came out as a gargled "Hnnfefe."
And he had a brief second to realize that he was probably concussed.
HE woke up to the overwhelming smell of mint and the greenest eyes he had ever seen. They blinked at him from above, before turning away to reveal an expanse of rolling, dark jade curls and an adorable shell of an ear.
"Chacha," the angel spoke. "You owe me. I've been cultivating those mandrakes since August. They were supposed to go into the Hellish Hangover Brew, not a Meddling Migraine Mixture. I barely have enough left to store for winter."
"The park was empty!" The woman from earlier stood closest to him out of the entire crowd. "I wouldn't have gone flying if it were full."
"Darling, you shouldn't have been flying at all." A stern looking man stood next to her in full business attire, glasses flashing in the light. Despite his expression, there was something soft to the line of his lips when he looked her. "What if someone saw you? That wasn't one of our own?"
"Say, speaking of which," A tall, long-legged woman with a spiky ponytail spoke up. "I don't believe we've seen another one of us around these parts before. Welcome to our hearth and our home. My name's Momo Yaoyorozu. Who might you be?"
"Shoto T-," His last name caught in his throat. "Shoto Taramin."
But he would be surprised if the others caught onto his slip because a lightning bolt seemed to fly through the room, blonde hair sticking out as he flew forward to shake his hand.
"Denki Kaminari! Nice to meet ya! What do you do? College wise and magic-wise I guess! I'm a Compu-Sci major but I'm also like a pro at Divination! Oh, I'm in a band too! It's called 'The Black Parade'! You should totally check out our upcoming album! And-hey, that'd a pretty nasty hex on your eye! How'd you get that?"
A united groan flew through the room. The stern looking man from before physically caught the energetic blond by the shoulders, and dragged him away from Shoto's space. Above, the green-haired angel shot him an apologetic smile.
(Did his heart just stop? Was this...death?)
"Don't mind him." He said sweetly. "I'm Izuku. That's Ochako-,"
He pointed to the brunette from earlier. Shoto had to sit up to see her properly, just as she gave a sheepish wave.
The man didn't even glance up, speaking to his girlfriend in low tones.
"And this here is Hitoshi."
He didn't notice the weight on his thighs until the other gestured to the cat curled up on his sweater. Its claws were playing with loose strings that certainly weren't there before he was knocked out.
"The others are somewhere around the house, brewing and working on hexes. They don't mean to be rude, but you know how it is when you're mid-spellwork. Like Momo said: Welcome to our hearth and home. You had a pretty bad run in with 'Uravity' here."
Izuku brandished the broomstick he was draped across. " I patched you up with a couple herbs. You're in the ZKC house and you're safe with our coven. But, is there anyone you want us to call? Sorry to snoop, but you didn't have your witchcraft license on you so we're not really sure which coven you belong to."
"Coven?" Shoto repeated dumbly. ZKC. Zoi Kai Chara. He knew them. They were a fraternity on campus. Quiet and didn't cause trouble with campus police for the most part until...
Until Halloween came around.
"You're all witches," He said numbly, looking around the group.
The girl from earlier-Ochako-interrupted. "We're a gender neutral frat actually so we prefer the term 'wiccans' when you refer to the group."
"...Magic is real?"
Silence. There was a faint gurgling noise in the backdrop. No one did so much as move and Shoto felt the itching sensation that he got whenever he attempted at socializing. The angel-Izuku, even his name sounded like a song-had turned a deathly pale. His freckles stood out stark, like an inverted night sky of black stars against a blank canvas. He scooped the cat up and floated away slowly. The cat bounded up his arm, settling around Izuku's shoulders as they all simply stared at him.
"Fuck," the angel cursed. In the distance, the gurgling paused. A tiny explosion. Maniacal laughter. No one moved.
"Ten, please call Professor Yagi."
THE purr of his engine was like a moan in his ear as he ripped down the I-95. His ass was sore and his stomach had been bitching at him for the better part of the ride but he was almost there. The town was only an exit away and he definitely wasn't gonna let the sun set before he came strolling home. At his back, the last of his stuff shook as he revved his bike, weaving through traffic with a middle finger held high for whoever had the balls to honk at him.
One last trip, and he'd be saying sayonara to his hometown for good. Goodbye Jeanist Community College. Hello Yuu-fucking Ei University. The two years he spent grinding out shift after gig after class after band sesh paid off. He always had the grades. He just needed the money.
And if the old hag wasn't going to help him get this degree, then he'd just have to help himself.
The sight of his mother's smug smirk falling as he told her the news flashed through his mind, and he couldn't help but grin.
She didn't think he could do it, but he got in. Double Major in Chem and Percussion with scholarship covering a good half. Fuck, he was good. His life was changing. Everything was gonna be so much easier. He wouldn't have to drive an hour and half for practice anymore. All of the band was in one place. They could start getting a move on with their career, and maybe book some real gigs after this album hit the ground.
God, he earned this. He deserved this. This was everything he wanted and he was finally at the point where nothing could go wrong.
Faster, Katsuki urged his bike on, C'mon you sack of shit.
He felt it before it happened. He knew the signs by then. It was like a fire lit him up from the inside. It felt like a free-fall. Like the guitar riff at the end of November Rain. It was quick. It was epic. It was terrifying. His chest would begin to burn, then the heat would spread to his hands until he was too pent up to keep it all in and-.
He bit back a yell as flames burst from his bike, whipping him through the exit for Yuuei far faster than he'd thought of. The trees-once blurs-became nonexistent as he seemed to rip through the fabric of space-time straight into the college town.
Deep Breath. What was that yoga fuckery Cammie was on talking about? Count to ten and think of some peaceful shit.
But there was no peace to be had as the flames drove him deep into the town center.
"Fucking move!" He screamed. Students, gaunt with sunken eyes, merely blinked as he maneuvered through them. The turn for the apartment building was coming up. Sticking his right hand out, Katsuki grit his teeth and pushed.
The blast nearly knocked him off his bike. Careening through the air, he gripped the handlebars let the force lift him off the seat. The ground rushed up to meet the tires. The jolt of it shot daggers through his arms, as he leapt away from the bike, rolling onto thick grass and dried leaves.
It wasn't the first time that power burst from him, and he was certain it wasn't going to be the last. Rubbing his mouth with the back of his hand, Katsuki caught sight of the smears of blood then scowled.
Whatever these flames were, they were only getting stronger. When he was 16, they would only show up in a pinch but lately it seemed that the slightest thing would set it off. His fist tightened. Around him, the sun was swallowed into the night.
He was a normal guy with weird fire powers. Was that unusual? Yeah, but it wasn't abnormal. He was fine. He could put all this shit behind him. He could be a normal rockstar if he just fucking focused.
He'd come way too far to back down.
Grabbing his knapsack from the ground, Katsuki took the first steps towards his new beginning.