Follows immediately after “Peace Offering”. Shigaraki POV. WARNINGS for disturbing thoughts and anxiety. It’s Shigaraki, folks. Comes with the territory.
opened a crack, Tomura peeked out into the hallway. Not a soul. He cocked his
head, listening. Not a whisper or peep. Mindful of every creaky floorboard, he
crept out. Slunk upstairs like a thief in his own base of operations. Hardly
dared to breathe until he’d shut and locked the door to his room behind him.
still crawling beneath his skin, Tomura glanced over at the laptop sitting on
the small desk against one wall. To the TV mounted on the other, framed by shelves
of games to various consoles. He would’ve liked nothing more than to have a
glowing screen absorb his attention, but he knew his focus was too scattered to
play anything. Scanning the online news feeds would yield nothing but chatter
about Stain or All Might—his fingers latched back onto his neck just thinking about
it. He couldn’t wear himself out with training since that meant going back
downstairs to use the mats and equipment in the basement. No fucking way was he
setting foot in the bar for the next few days. Maybe not for years.
He knew he
shouldn’t have let anyone stay here. Now he was trapped, a prisoner in his
own goddamned room, all because he’d let an overcooked piece of human yakitori
put his soft, stapled hands on him, and—
swells of panic dropped and went utterly still as Tomura’s eyes darted to his
closet. Of course. Such an obvious answer. He should’ve known what to do
from the beginning.
you poor thing. What are you so afraid of? All you have to do is follow your
Sensei had provided for him.
one side of the closet open, Tomura picked up a long wooden box from its
resting place beneath his neatly hung clothing. He gently set it in the middle
of the room before retrieving a cloth from his desk. Sitting on his heels in
front of the box, he wiped a few stray specks of dust from its lacquered surface.
Though his memory of receiving it (not to mention its contents) remained lost
somewhere in the murky haze of his childhood, the familiar action alone
reassured him. Sensei had instructed him to care for it and he had, polishing
it every week without fail for fifteen years.
over the heels of his palms to prevent smudges, Tomura carefully lifted the
of formaldehyde sprang out immediately. It reached straight down his throat and
clenched his guts with corrosive fingers. Despite the urge to vomit everything
in his body cavity up, a mantle of calm settled over Tomura’s shoulders. As
wretched, as vile, as stomach-wringing as they were, the sensations were familiar.
They’d woven themselves into his makeup as tightly as his DNA. The same
could be said for what lay inside the box.
than him against their nest of black coffin velvet, fourteen human hands lay in
two neat rows. Well, thirteen—one was merely a replica, a replacement. The
metal caps on the wrists gleamed sallow gold under the room’s light. Poised on
the razor’s edge between sickened and serene, Tomura reached for them in the
smallest ones, curled around his wrists. A larger pair with aged, wrinkled skin
and knobby knuckles clamped to his biceps next. A similar but slimmer version
of those followed on his forearms. The hands with the longest, loveliest
fingers encircled his neck in fourth place. Two sets of brutish, blocky ones
latched onto his shoulders, then his sides just beneath his arms.
the best he saved for last.
the replica to the back of his head almost absently. His attention was reserved
for its partner: a left, the largest hand, the father of its macabre little family.
He lifted it with the same care a collector would a preserved butterfly. With a
fingertip he mapped out the valleys and ridges of bones and strong sinew along
the back. Turning it over, he traced the lifeline etched across its palm that
had most definitely lied. The way the scar cleaving his lips tingled and burned
had nothing to do with the savage grin that split Tomura’s face. He rubbed his
chin to be sure the feeling of blood drooling down it was only a phantom from
his buried past.
He didn’t need
to know its origins to realize how special Father was.
and exhilaration surged up from his center as he pressed the precious memento
mori over his face like a mask. His roiling emotions alchemized into something
he had yet to name, its crystallized shape strange but stable. At last, the
feel of cold, waxen flesh molded to his cheeks, of stiff, dead fingers in his
hair, chased away the fantasy of hot, living ones. At last, he could think.
relieved sigh, Tomura replaced the box’s lid and stood. After feeling trapped,
he needed the reassurance of space. He went to his room’s narrow window, pushed
aside the curtains, disarmed the little tripwire surprise he’d rigged, and
pushed the bottom pane up so he could slither out onto the fire escape.
air reeked of the refuse piled in the alley below. This definitely wasn’t high
on his list of favored spots, but it was better than nothing. At least the
temperature was being kind to his skin, not too warm or humid, not to cool or
dry. The rusty skeleton of the fire escape squeaked as he settled himself on
the mesh bottom, hugging his knees. Staring up at the void of the sky, a few
stars visible through Father’s embalmed fingers, wasn’t so bad either.
Everything he could see was warped, discarded, halfway down the path to total
ruin. It almost made him feel at home.
A home with
dynamics that had changed overnight. But…like it or not he had two new roommates—with
more to come, according to Giran. Tomura didn’t have the kind of power to
reduce hero society to rubble and ash on his own. Not yet. In the meantime, he
had to make do with the next best thing: strength in numbers. It was just…he
got so anxious. The concept of living with anyone aside from Kurogiri was
bizarre, the thought of having to interact daily with strangers unsettling.
someone as powerful, as feared and dreaded as Sensei didn’t work alone. If his
mentor hadn’t turned his nose up to cooperating with select people, who was
Tomura to? He grimaced behind Father, but he could already feel resolve seeping
between the seams in his thoughts. One way or another, he’d learn to tolerate
his houseguests and how best to use their skills for the greater goal.
was his years martial arts training that picked up on some subtle shift in the
air. Déjà vu prickled along the back of Tomura’s neck. His head snapped
toward the perceived threat on his right.
a flash of a blonde-haired head just before it ducked back inside the next
Toga! Toga Himiko! It’s hard to live!
“Wait,” came from Tomura’s
mouth before his conscious mind registered the action. “I’m sorry. About how I
acted earlier.” The surprise of those words, in that order, coming from him
fell flat compared to the shock of realizing he wasn’t lying.