Nocturnal Syndrome - Chapter 6 - dragondrawerip - 僕のヒーローアカデミア | Boku no Hero Academia (2024)

Chapter Text

Izuku was utterly dog-tired, emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausted.

From waking up at some weird, isolated vampire cabin, to finding his father transformed into a shriveled-up form of himself.It was decidedly a little too much for him in one day.

After he forced himself out of his father's room, he clung to the cold, damp walls that ran through the underground labyrinth.

He walked slowly, running his right palm along the intermixed concrete and tightly packed soil, feeling the difference between his fingers. He scoffed his feet as he made his way along the concrete flooring towards his little library, tired to the point that even lifting his feet took an enormous amount of effort.

He was too bothered to want to retreat back to the stuffy confines of his bleak bedroom and knew his little secret haven would help him stabilize better.

It was also closer, so it was the ultimate selling point. He tried to shrink himself against the wall as much as possible, trying not to get caught by anyone on his journey back.

It seemed like it would be too late for people to want to be up, but he's been wrong in the past and that's enough for him to be cautious.

He pauses then, almost letting out a laugh at himself, realization dawning that he's less afraid of Shinsou than some of the humans that live here.

It's enough of a learned fear that every turn is taken slowly, every sound forcing him to freeze and listen as he waits. His exhaustion forcing out a rare strand of apathy to eventually press forward.

Luckily, he rounds the turn leading to the last hallway and his destination is finally within sight. Izuku quickly fishes out his key from beneath his collar, quietly yet briskly striding up to the sealed door.

He just manages to push the key into the lock when he hears -gods help him- a girlish giggle sound off directly behind him.

Because this sound is enough for him to think he's hallucinating, he spins around fast enough to almost give himself whiplash. Plastering himself back flat against the closed door, Izuku splays his arms out wide on either side of him, shoulders hunched up to his ears.

Wide emerald eyes land on what must be the source of the sound, the blonde-haired girl he saw Kirishima talking to earlier, before he whisked him off to his father.

It takes his body a full five seconds of convincing to relax, even as Izuku slowly releases the gasp of air he was holding in.

The girl seems cute up-close, fair skinned with her yellow-blonde strands tied up into two messy buns affixed to the top of her head. She's fidgeting with the hem of her oversized, knitted sweater, tucking her chin into her chest as she stands there seemingly awkwardly.

Feeling like an idiot, Izuku peels himself from the door and smooths out the front of his frumpy clothing. This girl must have traveled so far just to be here, it'd be rude to treat her any differently.

Even though there's this little nagging feeling about something being not quite right, Izuku shakes his head no to physically dispel that idea from surfacing.

He's just tired and people think all sorts of weird things when they're too tired.

"Um, hi. You're new here, right?"

He sends her a small, sheepish smile and takes a hesitant step forward. She's still looking downwards, but he thinks he spots a small smile forming on her features.

After a pause, he continues,"I'm Izuku," he says.

Pausing to swallow down a lump in his throat,"What's your name?"

He asks, taking another micro step from the door and extending out his right hand in the normal greeting fashion. The girl looks up at him then, with a bright blush painted across her cheeks.

She sends him a too-wide smile that forces her eyes to squint. He's taken aback as she then races up to invade his personal space.

Reeling back, Izuku goes to retreat himself about a second too late. The girl is latching onto his right hand with both of hers, tugging his arm up and down like they're hammering an invisible nail between them.

"Oooh, you're so cute! Izuku, was it? I'm To-Taiga!"

The girl, Taiga apparently, exclaims brightly and encroaches his space further.

Like he cast an invisible lure, she reels herself closer by the arm tethering the two. Izuku blanches a moment, completely unsure what to do in this type of situation and tries in vain to reclaim his right hand. He ends up backing up enough to press against the door again.

The dull thunk echoing out into the hallway from the heel of his shoe kicking back against the door.

There's a moment of hesitation because this girl's face is too close to his, and he has to smother the little voice inside that keeps repeating this is weird over and over again.

Someone replaced all of the blood in his veins with ice water and it's making it impossible to think clearly.

The girl tilts her head to the side and raises her eyebrows, expectant of his response.

"N-nice to meet you."Izuku eventually manages to get out, his voice dying in this moment.

He can only focus on addressing her hair because her face is too intense, while the rest of his body is stuck frozen in place.

The girl seems friendly enough, maybe a little too friendly, even. For some reason, he just can't shake that weird feeling that puts all of his hairs on end.

However, as quickly as she's invading his space, she's retreating and taking about two steps back again. It's still far too close, and Izuku chalks it up to her probably not having many people her age to interact with.

Then he feels like an idiot again, because of course she's excited to see people, of course she's happy to see people that are close to her age, too.

The annoying, weird feeling is still gnawing at him, but that must just be from his tired-addled brain and this stressful day.

He repeats this mantra until his heart feels like it's stopped trying to break clean out his ribs.

The girl helps alleviate some of his questions, as she beams at him and exclaims in a too-loud-for-this-hour voice,

"You're so nice! It's so awesome being here, seeing all of these new people. I was so excited that I just couldn't sleep."She pauses to send out another gleeful giggle before continuing,"So, I went for a walk and look - now I found you!"

Izuku runs a sweaty hand along the back of his curls, dipping his face down due to his bashful, awkward nature.

He's not used to people giving him random compliments, so even if this interaction is a tad strange, it's not horrible. His social meter for the day is pretty tapped out though.

As much as he would like to give this girl a tour because he knows where all the good spots are, his eyes are starting to hurt from staying open for so long.

He nods in response,"It's great to have you with us, and you'll be safer here -"

Izuku starts to say and is interrupted by an impossibly large yawn that squeezes his eyes closed for a second.

"- for sure."He finishes, blinking rapidly to help dispel the black dots that have started invading his vision.

Wiping away the threads of tired beading in his eyes with the back of his knuckles,

"Sorry, I'm about to fall asleep standing here. If you want, I could give you a tour sometime?"Izuku continues, laughing a little while apologizing for being tired, and in his mind, rude.

Taiga seems extremely excited for this idea, clapping her hands as she nearly squeals from delight.

"Yes, yes, yes! Please, Izuku!"She lets out, bouncing up and down with so much more energy than Izuku currently has for this interaction.

It also helps to disquiet the alarm bells his sleepy brain is trying to send off.

Yawning again, Izuku just manages to slap a hand to his mouth to try and muffle it while he nods back in response.

"Mhmm, so I'll see you later, okay?"

Izuku offers as a lifeline out of this conversation, his body quick to say that he better get to laying down or he'll be sleeping in this dirty hallway. He doesn't want to show this girl that this door is locked for whatever reason, and something in his lizard brain is telling him not to turn his back on her.

Which he thinks is ridiculous, she's just a young girl in a new environment that needs safety and help.

She's quick to help fill that issue too, though.

Grinning furiously, she hollers out a "Thank you!"

Her voice bouncing off the man-made tunnels.

She then turns and literally skips away, down the hall where she continues around the corner and out of sight. Izuku slumps forward then, dipping his head down as he waits another safe thirty seconds before turning to push the key into the slot once more.

When he's finally able to settle into the ancient loveseat that came with the room, he only manages to pull a book to cuddle snugly against his chest.

Wrapped in a scratchy, muted olive-green blanket, he finds his respite from the outside world. Izuku curls-up on the floral printed loveseat that has its yellowed stuffing poking out in a few spots here and there.

It's definitely not as comfortable as he would like it to be but damn it all to hell if it isn't better than the roll-out futon in his bedroom.

The strange girl, his father, and finally Shinsou, are the filtered images that trickle down into his sleep-deprived brain as he's succumbed to that long-awaited, quiet slumber.

The smell of dust and parchment lull him into that place he was aiming for.

Although, after seeing what he deems a proper library, he briefly wonders if it smells a little stale down here now.

He mutters an answer, but his lips and mouth and voice belong to someone else at this point of almost sleep. His ears can't quite make out the words, either. He feels his body shake slightly with a chuckle to his own satisfaction all the same.

Until he's finally, gratefully, blurring the line between dozing and fully asleep.

-*-

Like he was pulled underwater by the surging strength of an incredibly enticing novel, Izuku found himself rocked by a dream of searing clarity that swept over him like a tidal wave.

It held the same sense of waking consciousness, a dream of such visceral details that it may have been more likely he was pulled into another world entirely.

He wasn't sure how long he'd been asleep before he was plopped into this strange dream. He was strapped to some sort of machine, one that he quickly realized he had absolutely zero control over.

He could feel something whirring behind him, tethering him to the strange item with the same faded yellow straps as his own backpack. It suddenly pulls him a tight right turn, where he hazily noted that it's the same room he had fallen asleep in.

Taking in the sight of his most treasured place, he closes his eyes for a second as he takes a cleansing inhale while he's spun slowly around the room. Just as he's taking in the familiar scent of cotton balls and the never-ceasing dust bunnies, he catches something moving out of the corner of his eye.

Opening his mouth in a silent gasp, he was then looking down at himself out of body.

Staring down at his own sleeping form bundled up in sleep released a unique feeling of instability, a chilling type of fear that he was unfamiliar with before.

Before he could put together what exactly he was seeing here, he felt his consciousness slowly rising upward towards the ceiling, ascending like an untethered balloon.

Bracing his hands over his head for the inevitable impact, Izuku squeezed his eyes tightly shut.

After a moment when nothing happened, he hesitantly squinted an eye open. He was passing soundlessly through the layers of concrete and wood and earth, noting the pass through the next hallway made it seem as though the world was still sleeping in this strange dream.

That's right, this is all just a dream, Izuku thought to himself.

Gripping the straps over his shoulders so tight they squeaked in his hands. He knew this was a dream, but when he passed through the layer of the common hall that still had a few people milling around, the smell of food cooking somewhere, it made it feel terrifyingly real. He sucked in an unsteady breath when someone walked by him, holding it in as he continued to float by unnoticed.

Continuing to travel up, up, up, the strange contraption he was stuck to came to a slow halt a few feet above the metal slatted rooftop of the compound. It was absolutely stunning way up here. For a moment, he had to really remind himself that this was still just a dream.

As he sits prone in the retreating twilight, he's able to take a calming moment to check out his surroundings.

He doesn't think he's ever been this high up before, the slanted metal roof proves to be quite dangerous. He hasn't thought to try either, as the slick metal is sure to slough him off just as quickly and easily as it does the accumulating ice and snow.

The plumes of white smoke billowing out and sailing above him with each exhale, the sting from the chill in the air upon each inhale feels so crisp and fresh. The scent is almost metallic, accompanied by the spice wafting over from the pine forest, wet earth, and just a hint of freshy cut wood from the stacks gathered down below.

Looking down, he watches as his legs kick back and forth while he awaits whatever was next on this strange nocturnal ride. Everything looked exactly the same as it did in the waking world. It was even starting to snow, the lazy specks of white floating aimlessly around him.

He spotted the moon hung low in the sky against the very edge of daybreak that hadn't quite started to peek through the dark, sparsely clouded sky.

He had to write down whatever it was that he had eaten before bed, as this was undoubtedly the most detailed dream he'd ever had.

Everything aside from the chill that this height undoubtedly housed, he felt oddly warm and cozy like he was still sleeping on that lumpy little sofa in the cellar.

It felt like an invisible lever was pushed just then, the dream machine jerking slightly before slowly turning Izuku left until he was facing the ancient trees lining the barrier of the forest. It gave him a weird, prickly feeling in his stomach when he realized he could see over the tops of the trees.

Meaning he was higher up than these immaculately tall sentinels that have guarded the forest for hundreds of years.

The thought made Izuku curl-up on himself, crossing his ankles and tucking his legs up in an effort to feel a little bit more secure right now. It worked for a whopping two seconds before his flying machine proceeded to lurch him forward, propelling him at the forest line with ridiculous speed.

Izuku screamed out, but it was as if the wind slashed right through the sound the moment it left his mouth.

He clamped his mouth shut in fear he'd accidentally bite his tongue off as he zipped through the forest at breakneck speed.

He didn't even think any of their vehicles could travel this fast. He could feel the wind whipping his pajama bottoms, shirt, and hair, but none of the cold bit at his skin nor made his eyes tear up as it should.

The world flew past him in a dizzying display of blues and purples above, with the sky slowly opening up to the morning light of dawn. It was easier to stay looking forward and up, with Izuku focusing resolutely on the horizon swallowing up the starry night sky.

He was innately worried he would get consumed in the immense void passing below, the dark trees creating shadows that seemed to race alongside him.

The trees at the forest edge weren't actually the tallest, and he held on for dear life as he was bobbed and weaved past taller, larger trees and around their frosty limbs. Glancing down when the forest opened up for a brief second, he passed over what could only be Shinsou's cabin.

He's forced to close his eyes then, as he's blasted in the face with their fireplace smoke, the hot scent of burning wood filling up the air.

The dream then steered him in a slow, curving arch to the right, slipping much too quickly through a vast forested landscape. Izuku hadn't yet ventured out this far, the dense woodlands difficult and dangerous to traverse alone.

And as quickly as he entered the forest, he found it was thinning out until he broke through to the other side. The dream decided to slow down now, granting him a chance to suck in a few shaky gasps of relief.

Izuku caught bright, colorful lights in his peripheral off to the left, thinking that might be where this dream is headed. Before he could fully turn his head to get a look at the sight, however, his body was being turned in the opposite direction.

He was tilted forward, forcing his vision to scan along the expanse of rolling fields blanketed in white below him. Tuffs of pale-yellow, hibernating grasses poked out of the snow like long spindly fingers reaching for him.

He wasn't sure why, but he felt strangely compelled to scan the area. He had no clue what he should be looking for until he saw it, a glint of something silver hidden below. His flying transport descended him slowly, forcing Izuku to squint as he could start to discern what it was he was actually looking at.

He was peering at long, silver bars that crisscrossed in a latticed pattern over a deep pit.

It looked like some sort of drainage area, or perhaps an abandoned sewage location. As he continued to steadily drift downwards, he thought he could almost see something down there.

A dark, amorphous shape started to form at the bottom of the hole. Izuku's dream machine didn't cease until he had passed silently through those bars and was stuck staring at what had miraculously appeared before him.

With stunning clarity, a shock of purple hair filled his vision. Connecting to a scared, withered looking Shinsou sitting right underneath him. He was curled into a tight, sad ball against the bricks that lined this treacherous little hole.

He looked to be shivering, dirty with what Izuku sincerely hoped was only mud.

Shinsou looked as if he was slowly sinking into the soddened ground beneath his feet. Izuku gasped when he noticed Shinsou's shoes were missing, along with a sensible coat he undoubtedly would've been wearing in this weather.

Vampire or not, the beast of winter harms everyone equally with its cold bite.

"Shinsou?" Izuku asked,but his words dissipated into nothingness, barely forming a whisper from his lips.

If it was Shinsou, he didn't seem to notice nor hear him in the slightest.

Of course, this is just a dream. It's not real.Izuku had to keep reminding himself, the visceral realism of the dream was really starting to mess with his head.

Izuku wished he could somehow reach out and comfort this visage of his sort-of-friend his stupid head decided to dream up. It seemed pretty unfair that his subconscious would do this to him.

Dream Shinsou straightened his back against the slick bricks behind him, tilting his head up and seemingly looking directly at Izuku right then. Izuku was close enough that he could see Shinsou's face clearly.

Could see his eyes only reflecting the shape of the bricks and metal bars that were glinting slightly, illuminated with a soft pink.

Izuku then realized Shinsou wasn't actually looking at him, he was looking past him. Izuku was a ghost right then, just a floating stream of consciousness strung along in a weirdly, annoyingly realistic dream.

He understood what was happening, but it still made him angry. Not little-kid-tantrum angry, but the type of anger that comes from being stuck, completely powerless.

"sh*t."Dream Shinsou muttered, squinting his very-red eyes at a sight up above.

Izuku followed his line of vision, turning to look past the silver bars to see daybreak announcing its imminent arrival. It was beginning to dab the sky with soft pinks, oranges, and golds that heralded the blazing light of day.

"I don't want to die."Dream Shinsou choked out quietly, dipping his head down and lacing his fingers together across the back of his neck.

Izuku whipped his head back around to take in the vision of this man looking utterly defeated in every sense.

What kind of a dream was this, where his friend was in need of his help and Izuku couldn't even reach him?

Izuku grit his teeth as he tried leaning forward, kicking his legs against the wall behind him without producing the slightest budge.

Sighing, he found himself at a complete loss as to what he was supposed to do now.

Why did his dream bring him here anyway? This whole setup didn't make any sense aside from tormenting his psyche.

The frustration simmering in his core was nearly a physical thing, causing him to clench his fists as he was trapped there, incapable of doing anything.

"I really wish I could help you."Izuku said aloud, seemingly casting a magic spell.

There was a tangible pause before the dream abruptly lurched his consciousness backwards and up, flying out of that lonely little hole.

-*-

Izuku awoke with start, his limbs spasming in frantic jerks as he fell from the couch and came crashing hard onto the floor. Panting as if he'd just ran a marathon, Izuku ran his hands in a panicked motion over himself.

Relieved to feel that he had no physical pain of any kind, he pulled himself from the cool concrete to sit up on the sofa again. Aside from the mental gymnastics he just went through, he seemed completely fine.

Pushing a shaky hand through his sweat-damped curls, he leaned back heavily against the spongy backing of the couch. He felt his skin prickle from the slowly cooling sweat covering his body from head to toe. A glance down at himself is enough to coerce his limbs into motion, pushing from the floral sofa that releases a low groan in his absence.

While he changes from his soaked shirt, he tries to clear the persistent idea that what he saw was actually real.

It felt so real, the sounds, the scents, the feeling of the air rushing past his skin and hair and clothes like he was actually flying.

The cool light in the pre-dawn atmosphere as he flew above snow-capped evergreens is still vividly tattooed in his brain.

"You're thinking crazy."He tells himself, just to hear it out loud.

Izuku knows that's the correct response, as these are the kinds of wrong thoughts people have that are spending too much time alone. They start unpacking vast cosmic bullsh*t from silvery gum wrappers. They work themselves into a frenzy to chew it all up, blow a bubble, and ride that bubble up into some even stupider place.

It was just a dream,Izuku thinks again, repeating it as many times as it takes to convince himself.

Because his hands just wouldn't stop shaking, it was slow going to change from his sweat-soaked clothing and into starchy, dry fabric that rubbed at his overly sensitive skin.

That little voice that kept telling him something was off, something was wrong, wouldn't stop needling at his brain. It gained momentum as he continued on his tasks as if this were any other day, as if he hadn't just awoken from such a ridiculous dream for the clock to say he'd actually slept the past four hours.

He had the deep-in-his-bones feeling that he just didn't have a clue about what was really happening anymore.

The image of Shinsou in that hole, that cell, wore away at his resolve the longer he tried to deny it.

The nagging feeling was the same as when his dad left for the vampiric council meeting, and he had to struggle around the thought that something like that could be happening again.

But then again, what were the odds of that, really? The odds that he'd suddenly had some type of what, clairvoyancy all of a sudden?

Izuku couldn't help but let out a small chuckle at himself, his fantasy books were really beginning to warp his brain.

He quickly set to his tasks for the day and quietly slipped from his library enclave, creeping out into the empty hall. As he made his way through the compound, only the sparse early risers greeted him throughout the halls leading him upstairs.

Immediately, the warm, sticky scent of something greasy flooded his nostrils. Taking a happy inhale of the simmering bacon, Izuku smiled as he weaved his way to the small side entrance where they kept the firewood.

It was his job to bring it inside, help get the fires going so that people could perform their tasks for the day. From baking bread to brewing coffee, it was paramount he was helpful and prompt with his job.

At least that's what he told himself, and tried not to think about having the lousiest, least useful job of all time.

Izuku pulled his worn, thick gloves onto his hands, the leather on the fingertips still cold from sitting in his coat pocket all night. Flexing and clenching his fingers to help loosen up the stiff material, he pulled his hat out of the other side pocket to stuff over his head.

Brushing his unruly curls from his face, Izuku then pushed open the small metal door that led outside. The crisp, nearly dawn light was so cold it almost hurt to breathe, yet he reflexively inhaled a refreshing gasp when the wind flew up to greet him.

It's so cool out here, so perfect. The snow crunching under his feet is best thing ever.

Coming to an abrupt halt, his boots creaking in the pristine layer of white below him.

It smelled just as it had in his dream. Turning his head to the right, he could tell exactly where he was hovering last night from precisely where he was standing. The forest edge loomed in shadows a few hundred yards to the side, the pinks and oranges and golds of dawn not yet penetrating through the dense layers.

What if it was real?Izuku thought, swallowing hard around the idea.

Because, of course, he could easily be wrong.

But then he thought, what was the harm in checking anyway?

I can just check out Shinsou's cabin, if the lights are on then I just turn right around.

Izuku nodded to himself in agreement, that nagging feeling turning into a stirring that zapped throughout his limbs.

He could be wrong, he was probably wrong. But that voice insisted he go.

Right now.

Slipping back into the compound was easy, and he didn't even have to be sneaky about it. He just nabbed a lanyard from one of the hooks on the wall of snowmobile keys and tried not to second-guess himself on the way back out.

The keys are color-coded to match the snowmobiles, the one he had grabbed displayed a faded dot of red that matched a snowmobile with a bleeding stripe of crimson going down its side.

Swinging his left leg over the machine, he hovered the key above the slot. The metal of the key caught the ever-rising glare of the morning sunlight, and Izuku took a stuttering inhale, calming himself enough to pull it together.

He lit up the snowmobile and revved a little too hard that he bolted towards the forest. Pushing himself forward, Izuku leaned into the speed so he could get this over with as fast as possible, hopefully laughing it off as just his intrusive thoughts winning.

Recalling the path he took in his dream, he tried to follow along as best as he could from the ground level. Sticking to the easier to maneuver spots as much as possible, the heavy snowfall keeping the more annoying obstacles out of his way.

He kept his head low, but he could only avoid so many needle-coated branches hung heavily with snow.

This time, the wind stung his cheeks and nose as he sped through the frozen forest. Squinting his eyes from the sudden gust sending a flurry of glittering snow at him, he saw the skin on his cheeks already tinted a bright pink from the cold.

Hunching his shoulders, Izuku pressed forward, his heart racing from the spike of adrenaline this journey rocked through his system.

He could start to make out a thin trail of smoke billowing above the trees just up ahead. Izuku wove left and right through the thick underbrush until he saw the outline of a cabin approaching.

He didn't slow until the cabin filled his field of vision, the roar from the snowmobile dwindling to a putting hum.

As he approached, he noticed the thick smoke from the fireplace in his dream had depleted to a barely-there whisper of simmering heat.

Izuku glanced from the nearly invisible, shimmery waves above the chimney and took in the windows along the ground level.

Everything was dark, the cabin seemed quiet and alarmingly empty.

It wasn't a tell-tale sign that neither of them were home, but that prickly feeling of wrongness edged him on.

If what he saw was actually true, then Shinsou really needed his help. There wasn't time to stop.

Revving the engine to race off past the cabin, sending a slurry of snow spraying behind him. Izuku clenches his teeth as the swell of fear sends his head spinning with alarm bells.

He's been told dreams are visions of our memories, thoughts, and fears as seen by our inner eye. Is that what Hell is then, a world shaped by nightmares?

These thoughts plagued his mind until he broke through to the other side of the forest.

The abrupt change from the dark, looming trees, to suddenly open up upon rolling white hills caused him to slow down again. Sitting at a rumbling stop, Izuku looked from left to right.

Spotting the glowing lights, barely visible to his left, he turns and banks right just as he did in his dream.

He couldn't recall how far exactly it was from here he needed to go, the blazing red from the sun creeping over the horizon had panic seizing his senses.

Was he closer to the lights or further away when he turned?

Had he already gone past the hole and didn't realize?

The wind was starting to pick up now, sending dancing sprays of white that made it difficult to see anything through them.

"Oh gods. Come on, please."Izuku pleaded aloud, moisture beading at the creases of his squinted eyes.

Searching up and down methodically, frantically, he finally saw it. Just a glint of something shiny reflecting the angry red sun and dove for the source.

He jumped from the snowmobile before it even came to a complete stop, where it continued to slide a few feet past him.

Izuku ran, and when he tripped because his legs had turned to Jello from that intense ride, he scrabbled on all fours until he finally reached the grate. Crawling tentatively up to the pit, he took in the thick, metal bars that were set in an interlaced pattern.

There was a locked deadbolt on one side keeping the gate tightly sealed.

sh*t sh*t sh*t,Izuku cursed inwardly, pulling himself up so he could peer down and through the wide bars.

They were lined with spikes, making Izuku think they were some form of monstrous teeth that snatched up people unlucky enough to step across them. Cupping his hands around his eyes, he was able to make out the rough outline of something large, curled-up at the bottom of the long tunnel.

"Shinsou?"Izuku called out, voice coming out dry and he winced at the squeak it emitted down the dim hole.

There was nothing for about five whole seconds that felt more like hours had passed before Izuku heard something, or someone, shifting around in the pit's dark belly.

"Izuku, is that you?"Shinsou rasped out, sounding worse than he had in Izuku's dream.

This was beyond explanation, because something was happening here. Something unbelievable and extraordinary.

The synchronicities were stacking up to paint a veil of perfectly perplexing paradoxes. None of this made any sense to him, it seemed as though the past handful of days purely existed beyond all logic.

"Why... how are you down there?"Izuku gasped out, choosing to push those strange thoughts aside in favor of helping Shinsou right this moment.

Shinsou let out something reminiscent to a snicker, the damp brick walls absorbing any humor from the sound and turning it into a dull, empty note.

"Oh, you know. Gravity."Shinsou hollered up to him, tipping his head back and meeting Izuku's gaze with a small grin playing on his face.

-*-

Call him what you'd like, but Izuku made quick work of that pesky grate.

After a flurry of hammering bangs, the latticed metal cover yawned wide with a shuddering groan to reveal a circle of ombré-blue sky. Before he knew it, Shinsou was scraping his knees on the brick walls as the slipped and climbed a rope for all he was worth.

Pulling himself free with the sorriest excuse of a push-up, Shinsou's jittery limbs managed to pull him a safe distance from the pit of despair.

As he dipped his head down, swallowing down gulps of breath on his hands and knees, he felt like he'd just been spat from themouth of that foul pit-beast.

A gloved hand materialized in front of him then, glancing up revealed it to be attached to a just as winded looking Izuku. Gratefully taking his hand, Shinsou hoisted himself up from the cold windswept plains.

"Are you okay?"Izuku asked, worry painted across his features.

Shinsou nodded, not wanting to divulge his horrible night right now, and possibly ever again.

Shinsou tenses when he's unexpectedly wrapped in a brief, yet warm hug. He tried to say something, but his tear ducts still felt red and swollen, and his dried throat was like a clenched fist.

Relieved might not have been the right word, but he was grateful, overjoyed for sure.

And maybe just a smidge lucky there too.

Before he can dwell on the correct word to use, Izuku whirls him around by the wrist and directs him to his sled-looking-machine-thing. Shinsou almost managed to forget that he was down to his socks, jeans, and a thin long-sleeved shirt now.

The chill has long since seeped into his soaked and muddied socks, and he shifts uncomfortably on the numbed limbs.

Shinsou jumps when Izuku leans across the machine and it roars to life, warily watching him remove his coat and hat. Izuku looks up at him with a smile that's suddenly fading, panic flashing across the whites of his eyes.

He knows what Izuku is looking at right now, over Shinsou's left shoulder.

He can feel the heat, a looming, oppressive presence.

And he swallows knowing they're too late.

"Quick,"Izuku gasps out,"Put these on!"

Shoving the coat and hat into Shinsou's hands, breaking him from his stupor.

Izuku's forcefulness makes him stumble backwards a few steps, the coat tugged up against his chest. Shinsou's shoulders feel like they're filled with lead as he pulls on the shorter sleeves of the thick fabric.

Barely managing to get the second sleeve on, he skates across the thick sheets of ice until he reaches the loud machine.

Izuku's already sitting on the long, black leather seat, and Shinsou hesitates. Izuku's the only one that's capable of driving this whatever-you-call-it, and Shinsou doesn't trust himself to sit behind him. Not with that stripe of pale skin that's now catching the angry, red light of the sun rising behind them.

I am normal and can be trusted around exposed neck skin,Shinsou winces at the thought, not quite believing himself.

The under voice has been alarmingly quiet for the time being, but he knows it'll resurface any moment now. He must have been standing there frozen for too long, because Izuku whips his head over to send a frustrated glare his way.

"What're you waiting for?"Izuku huffs at him, and it's enough to coerce his legs to plunge forwards.

Copying Izuku's posture on the machine, Shinsou physically cringes at the uncomfortable feeling of his mud-slimed jeans sticking to both him and the warming leather seat.

Trying not to stare at Izuku's hair and back and neck, Shinsou has absolutely no idea where he's supposed to put his hands.

There's the smell of something burning, like when you snuff out a candle and that wet burning floods your nostrils.

Except, it's him.

He's burning.

His f*cking right hand has a drop-sized spot that's rapidly blistering and blooming across his flesh.

"Damn it!"Shinsou hisses out, reeling his hand back into his chest.

The red-hot poker of pain delaying a millisecond before it stabs in behind his eyeballs.

The pain is so intense that it fills his ears with a high-pitched ringing. He knows he'd be reduced to harsh tears if he were capable of producing any from his stinging, irritated eyes.

Between the ringing in his ears and the loud purr of the motor, he almost doesn't catch Izuku twisting to shout over his shoulder,

"Hold on!"

With his good hand, Shinsou snags onto the side of Izuku's slate-grey knitted sweater, the sides baggy and loose around his frame.

He doesn't anticipate the machine lurching forward though and has to pull himself close in fear that he'll be whisked straight off the back end of it. Favoring safety in reprieve of comfort, Shinsou does his best to push his feelings aside as he curls face-first into the soft confines of that sweater.

Shinsou soaks in the enchanting scent that wraps around him like a hug. Izuku smells sharp, vibrant, full of life.

He doesn't even mean to, but his consciousness seems content to lull him into the confines of a false, exhausted sleep.

Shinsou feels his legs shuffle uncoordinatedly through the snow and slush before he's fully cognizant again, stumbling a little as he's ushered inside of the cabin. He hears voices, one deeper than the other but he can't seem to make out what they're saying.

Oh, they're talking about him.

They must be, because he feels hands on his arms, his back, tugging him deeper into the dark cave of his home. The air isn't even all that warm, but compared to how he spent his night, it feels like blankets on his skin, stuffy and heavy.

It's hard to think straight at the moment, with all the hands and heat and sound everywhere suffocating him.

Squinting his eyes open halfway, he can start to make out two blurry shapes hovering over him. He can't be sure if he imagines it or not, but he swears two blazing carmine eyes gleamed down at him with a vicious, searing gaze.

Panic seizes his senses for an agonizing second, his mind reeling from the nightmare he was sure to be over.

"Get away from me!" Shinsou cries out as he recoils into himself, hissing at the looming threat.

He never escaped, those two must have found him. Or even worse, he died alone in that rotten little hole, and he's plagued to relive that nightmare endlessly.

Because the gods were angry at him and turned him into a monster.

The thought makes Shinsou pull up his lip in that uncomfortable, fang-showing sneer like a dog waiting to get hit with a rolled-up magazine.

A gentle pat on his shoulder makes him tense, but there's a warmth to it that's beyond soothing.

The warmth spreads along his skin until it's seeping deeper into his bones, coercing his body to calm down. While his heartrate and breathing approach something moderately more human, he's drawn back into himself. Straining against the bit of black spots that have blurred the edges of his vision, Shinsou furrows his brows in his acute confusion.

He's not in that stupid little hole, he's sitting on the sofa in his living room.

At home.

Those men aren't here, they've been replaced with his dad and Izuku, who are now looking at him with matching expressions of worry.

When the blinks, he realizes he's had his eyes open to a nearly painful extent of time. His fear acting as a spotlight searching for answers, pushing his mind to a numbing degree of madness.

"Do you know where you are?" His father's voice, low and quiet, grounds him to reality.

Shinsou nodded in response, uncurling himself from the defensive perch his body had taken on the couch.

"Are you alright?" His father asks then, and there's a tell-tale lilt to his voice as if the words carry a hidden weight to them.

The question startles Shinsou, and he wasn't ready for the rush of emotions that came with it. It all crashed in on him at once, and he felt the unwelcome ache of tears at the back of his throat. His understanding of his own lack of consequence had been both slow and sudden in its cruelty.

Shinsou looks down at his lap, sliding his palms along his dirtied jeans to see if he can quell the tremors vibrating his fingers. Glancing back up at Shouta, he takes in the way his father stands there in his well-worn black t-shirt and matching black sweats.

He has his hair up in a messy bun, the black strands escaping randomly suggest he was hurriedly awoken.

He looks tired, like the rush of cold air that brought Izuku and Shinsou into the cabin was enough to disrupt his sleep. Like it carried the stench of what he was up to last night, what he did.

Swallowing down his nerves, Shinsou shakes his head no in a slow, unsure gesture. Shouta crosses his arms then, tilting his head to look at him with hard, don't f*ck with me eyes.

They flash an incredulous red for the briefest second, acting like coins catching the light as they're shifted.

Shinsou straightens his spine, staring up at Shouta while he's silently assessed. He doesn't dare glance away, even if he can see Izuku fidgeting uncomfortably in his peripheral. He's not sure he can tell him, but he has the feeling Shouta already knows.

Growling a little in his throat and speaking slowly, "Are you hungry?" His father asks.

And oh, f*ck. He knows.

It's always bad when he talks slowly like that.

Nobody said anything for about five seconds, with Shinsou slowly curling his hands into tight fists in his lap. The sting of his nails biting into his palms was a welcomed distraction against the stifling silence. He wasn't ready to rip open that wound, it was still far too fresh and painful to poke at yet.

Shouta eventually stepped back, but he did that slowly, too. It was deliberate, like, okay, but we'll f*cking discuss this later.

Shinsou doesn't look away until after Shouta does, releasing the breath he didn't realize he was holding in.

"Is it alright if I stay for a little bit?" Izuku asks then, picking at the hem of his oversized sweatshirt.

Seemingly oblivious to the rising tension settling thickly in the air, Izuku aims a hopeful glance between Shouta and Shinsou.

His father seems to consider Izuku a moment before exhaling a drawn-out sigh, "Alright."

He responds quietly, much kinder with his words than the ones aimed at Shinsou.

When Shouta steps to turn, Izuku follows along, like an awfully uncoordinated dance.

"I also had a couple of questions for you, if-if you don't mind?" Izuku asks, holding out his hands as if presenting the idea on his palms. His nerves were visible on his face as he tried to make a tentative little smile appear.

Shouta runs a hand along his jaw, scratching at his ever-present stubble. Surprisingly, Izuku doesn't waver under his direct stare this time. If anything, it seems to bolster him. As if what he has to say is incredibly important and he has to say it, no matter what.

"Sure," His father nods back at Izuku, "Just a moment while I go and change."

Shouta plucked the front of his shirt between a thumb and forefinger, grimacing down as if he had developed a sudden repulsion for his own clothing.

"It reeks of death in here." He adds with an anxiety-inducing glance over to Shinsou.

Shouta promptly shut himself off in his room, leaving the two of them to fend for themselves.

It could've already been ten minutes or even an hour, and Shinsou is having an absurdly difficult time keeping track. He spends that time fretfully pacing back and forth, wearing out the hard wood flooring in his wake.

The soft repetition of his heels padding along helps to keep a steady rhythm while his head spins out of control.

He keeps mumbling, gesticulating, orchestrating to himself. Working and framing his scattered thoughts between his splayed-out hands as his mind refuses to settle. Izuku has since claimed his own spot on the couch, solidifying his resolve to wait out Shouta for whatever reason.

Shinsou glances over to him then, briefly enthralled by the colors illuminated on Izuku's face and hair and everything. Looking at him makes his eyes hurt, becoming almost hypnotized by the quivering of his bottom lip.

Shinsou squeezes his eyes tightly shut and forces himself to turn around, accidentally biting the inside of his cheek as he scolds himself.

"Are you sure you're okay?" Izuku asks again, quietly murmuring past those wind-chapped lips.

It's astonishing how many times he can ask that, like he's simply passing the time with the repetition of the syllables.

He's also not sure how much longer he'll be able to sound convincing saying, "I'm fine."

And he's horrified these emotions will pour out in an uproar on Izuku.

Shinsou can feel them stockpiling the longer he remains here.

Turning again on his jittery stride, Shinsou pushes his hands through his messy, violet hair as he tries to think. First the left, then the right, like he can't find the best way to do it. Like he can't figure out what to do with his hands at the moment, or this weird energy he has thrumming through his veins.

The right side of his neck still feels like it's burning, even after the ugly puncture holes have long since closed up.

It feels like they've stained him, tainted him with a searing, invisible brand.

The phantom presence that he'll never be able to scrub off, a constant reminder that something cruel and vile touched him there.

That he let it.

He can't help but dwell on the words necessary to articulate the weight of it, of how quickly and assuredly he's been altered.

One word to sum up and classify the unfathomable, an empty word like transition. Change, transformation, shift, they're all synonyms that appear to mean the same thing. But the choice of one over another speaks to a distinct outlook of his new reality.

These are the words that accumulate in his brain, causing damage in their wake.

He hated that he couldn't fully put into words the feeling gnawing at his guts, the grinding, burning pain in his stomach. Like a great whirlpool has opened up, churning his insides into themselves.

It feels like the words are there, encapsulated somewhere past the madness that's started to settle inside of his skull.

He just has to figure out how to phrase it, the right way he can say it to suppress both his father's and Izuku's concerns. He can feel the under voice stirring within now, too. Circling and closing the distance with whispered threats spilled into the back of his mind.

The longer Izuku remains in the same room, within an arm's length from him, the louder it gets. An ever-growing crescendo with the momentum of a freight train.

And he's no match for a f*cking train, it'll plow right over top of him.

This was a safe place, somewhere people never ventured, purposely isolated to keep them separated. But now, one had come. Izuku had wandered ever-so-innocently into this dangerous place. This ancient forest filled with creatures that called the darkness home, silent and deadly.

The darkness does not bargain, it does not reason. It yearns for life, hungers for it like a pack of wolves on a hunt.

And yet he comes, time and time again to return to this place filled with rot and madness.

Predators will always seek out their prey, stalking and waiting for the perfect opportunity to hunt. Those cycles never change, it never ends. It always just starts over at the beginning again, circling around and around as it exchanges through the hands of species.

How is he not afraid of all this darkness, building onto itself until it's towering over him?

Why would Izuku want to come here, to be around them? Why would he ask for the natural order of things to be questioned?

To make you do what you did, Shinsou hears in his head.

A colder voice than his own, crawling into his soul so it can rot him further from the inside.

He pauses then, an abrupt halt in his stressful march. Rubbing the heels of his palms against his sore eye sockets, he tries to physically push that harsh voice away.

When he pulls his hands from his face again, he sways slightly as the world spins around him in a nauseating circle. Hugging the goose flesh along his arms, he can't seem to find a balance between freezing and feverish.

His body was feeling tingly and itchy all over too, like he was being swarmed by a million little fire ants.

Inhaling deeply, Shinsou takes in the medley of scents in the cabin to try and get himself to relax. The light, sappy scent from the pine in the fire adds a swirl of pleasantly earthly aromas. The warm smoke mixing with the fire tastes of the trees and cold of his home, soothing his nerves like a caressing balm.

It's interlaced with the smell of salty sweat, stale dust, and the sun-dried cotton that Izuku carries with him.

The undercut layer he picks up on is immediately mouth-watering, warm and metallic and sweet.

Shinsou snaps his mouth shut to grind his teeth harshly together, forcing himself to look away from where he's inexplicably turned and started watching Izuku.

Shinsou quickly averted his eyes, trying to breathe slowly through his mouth as his stomach roiled. Overcome with revulsion at himself, he bites harshly into the hollow of his cheek. Swallowing down the coppery saliva flooding his mouth before the wound could heal, it makes him feel frustratingly weak.

Just a taste, just a taste, just a taste,the words carousel around his head, howling and growing more demanding.

I can't stand it, this is driving me insane,Shinsou grips his strands hard enough to rip some free from his scalp. Growling at himself, he has to force himself to take each agonizing step towards the staircase. He hopes that if he can make it to his room, he can lock the door and keep Izuku away from him.

Scraping gouges into the wooden banister as Shinsou struggles to battle these emotions, leaving thin ribbons of coiled wood in his wake. It makes him feel unhinged and feverish, the sharp acidic taste of nausea threatening expulsion.

Writhing within, barely contained, is the desire that he wants so bad, wants him so bad.

He wants him drained and gone and consumed even worse.

Gods, he wanted to lurch into that source and sink his jaw in deeply rooted. He was overly salivating now, having to raise a hand to wipe away the stray threads of it that were already dribbling down his chin.

Just one little taste, that'll be more than enough, the under voice booms again, so loud within him that it's making his head throb.

No no no, Shinsou shakes his head, clawing his away from the overwhelming reality he was presented with. He leans against the wall upstairs, breathing hard, practically panting as he shakes his head furiously no.

But he's not meat, he's my friend, Shinsou says inside, screams inside, can't stop screaming about inside.

Nocturnal Syndrome - Chapter 6 - dragondrawerip - 僕のヒーローアカデミア | Boku no Hero Academia (2024)
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