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it starts with pain, followed by hate (fueled by the endless questions no one can answer)

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Dabi hasn’t really been a social, friendly person, even when he was young.

That didn’t really help him to fit in with his new family.

His half-siblings had looked at him with curiosity, the youngest one peering at him with a look of fascination. He’s half of Dabi’s father, and half of his mother, Dabi sees, having noticed the kind-looking woman earlier in the hallway.

(He doesn’t miss the way she seems to flinch away from his father.)

His dad, gruff as always, had told him to pack his things up, that they were going to a different place - and he wasn’t going to see his mother as far as he was concerned.

Dabi tries hard not to stare back, shuffling his feet and staring at the ground as his father introduces him to his new family.

 

For the first few days, Dabi notices a lot of things.

For one, the siblings are alike in personality, and in looks, and they usually just steer clear of him - Dabi knows it’s because of his sneer; his own mother had told him that many times while fondly ruffling his hair.

The youngest one - Shouto - hasn’t developed a Quirk yet, Dabi notices, as he spots him playing by himself as his father drags him to the training room for more exercises.

And - the one that hurts most - is that his new mother doesn’t even look at him.

She takes care of him, cooks him food and does all the things somebody should do, but it’s heartless, more like a chore than anything - she hasn’t even looked him in the eye once.

Dabi pastes a smile and says that he’s fine when Shouto hesitantly asks him if he’s alright.

 

A year passes.

Dabi doesn’t know how, but it does. During that time, Shouto develops a Quirk, and their father’s attention shifts onto him as Shouto, now instead of Dabi, is dragged into the training room. They’ve also gotten along more, albeit awkwardly and hesitantly, and now Dabi’s pretty sure he can say they’re on relatively good terms. Dabi still gets sent to school, though nobody there likes him anyways.

But, the relationship between Shouto and his dad is worsening.

Dabi watches from the shadows.

Even though they’re some years apart, Dabi can sympathize with Shouto over how their father treats him.

‘You have to work harder,’ Dabi can hear his father growling at a most likely cowering Shouto, ‘or else you’ll never beat me.’

But I don’t want to beat you, goes unsaid, and Dabi knows, because he’s always said that every time.

Shouto’s either smarter or not for keeping his mouth shut, and Dabi can hear the shuffling as the kid tries to get up onto his feet.

As he turns away to walk down the hall, he makes eye contact with his mother.

They both look away.

 

‘I don’t want to be like him,’ Shouto cries, holding onto his mother’s shirt - and Dabi can hear the sobs even if they’re largely muffled.

‘You don’t have to be,’ his mother soothes him, fingers lightly caressing his hair. ‘You can be your own hero, Shouto.’

Shouto sniffs, and Dabi turns away, walking back to his room.

 

Just a few moments later, there’s a knock on his door.

Dabi looks up from his book, waiting for his mother to say something or his father to barge in, but neither of these things happen, and he waits for a few seconds before saying, ‘Yes?’

‘Can I come in?’ a small voice asks, and Dabi’s surprised to hear that it’s Shouto.

Shaking himself out of his thoughts, Dabi answers, ‘The door’s unlocked.’

There isn’t a reply, but the door opens slowly, and Shouto’s small head peeks in, eyes wide and red - and he seems so small and hesitant standing in the doorway of Dabi’s room.

‘What did you want, squirt?’

Shouto’s eyes widen, before he hangs his head and hooks his hands together, nervously fiddling with his fingers before he clears his throat, ‘I felt lonely.’

Dabi wants to snort.

Lonely, huh?

‘Okay,’ he says instead, swallowing the sudden lump in his throat.

When Shouto raises his head, question clear in his multi-colored eyes, Dabi shuffles a bit on his bed, marking the page with his finger and gesturing at Shouto with another hand to stay beside him on the bed.

Shouto understands him, climbing up on the bed, staying a bit closer to Dabi than is really necessary. Actually, Dabi doesn’t mind, as Shouto’s pressed his colder side against him.

It looks like the kid’s not going to talk, so Dabi continues reading, eyes roaming over the words until a small hand grabs his side, and he looks to his side to see that Shouto’s almost snuggling with him at this point.

‘You look a lot like dad,’ Shouto mumbles, words half-lost in the way he smushes his face against Dabi’s side.

Dabi stills, but Shouto continues, ‘You’re the most similar to him too, mom says.’

Then, he goes silent, and Dabi realizes that the kid’s fallen asleep.

Dabi sighs, returning to his book, eyes trailing over words, but they escape him, filtering through the words that keep repeating themselves in Dabi’s head.

You look a lot like dad.

He doesn’t move from that page for some time.

 

There’s a scream.

And, as much as Dabi hates to admit it, his heart chills when he registers it to be Shouto.

He runs, from his room, to where Shouto is - the kitchen - and his eyes widen in horror.

Shouto’s on the floor, his mother a few feet away, at the still-burning stove, trembling and seeming to be frozen.

But that’s not the worst.

There’s an overturned kettle, just beside of his mother, and Shouto’s clutching his left eye.

There’s a puddle of steaming water by his feet.

Dabi immediately kneels down, trying to get Shouto to remove his hands so that he can survey the damage, but before the younger boy can do anything, Dabi’s being forcefully pushed back.

‘Stay away,’ his mother says, eyes wild and ferocious, ‘Stay away from my son!’

This is the first time she’s looked him in the eye intentionally. And Dabi can only see one thing - hate.

Blinding, raging, crimson, blood-red hate.

He just stays there, frozen for a second, as his mother shouts, ‘Don’t touch him! He’s not - he’s not your puppet!’

You look a lot like dad.

Dabi can feel his expression hardening, as he stands up, whipping his phone out of his pocket and dialing the hospital. ‘I’ll call you an ambulance.’

Shouto’s started crying by them, looking at Dabi with his wide uncovered eye. Dabi refuses to let himself feel sad.

(His heart wrenches.)

By the time the ambulance arrives, Dabi’s long gone.

 

His mother gets sent away to a mental institute.

Dabi avoids Shouto’s eyes, lock himself in his room, doesn’t answer when his father tells him to come out.

It’s not worth it, anyways.

He traipses outside, at night, when no one else is awake, to get his food. But - he can sometimes hear Shouto crying when he passes his room, and his sister’s comforting voice as she tries to lull him to sleep.

He ignores the feelings in his chest.

Dabi goes out using his window during the day.

He wanders around.

He takes the time and opportunity to do things he wants - with his allowance from his dad - and, he visits his mother.

She’s glad to have him back, but nods when he explains that his father doesn’t know. She understands - and Dabi sometimes spends several hours just staying in her company. (His father doesn’t care.)

But - the truth still hurts.

The way she sometimes looks at him when she thinks he doesn’t know is similar to the one Shouto’s mother had given him in her frenzy - hate, of the man that had wronged her, of the way he’d treated her with cruelty - and Dabi knows.

You look a lot like your dad, Shouto had said.

Dabi hates himself.

The months pass anyways.

 

‘Thank you for your purchase,’ the store clerk says cheerfully as he hands over the plastic bag.

Dabi nods mutely, and exits the store.

Back home - at Shouto’s - he silently walks into the bathroom, locking the door after him behind him.

He takes out a small bottle of black hair dye.

Dabi carefully follows the instructions on the packet as he changes his hair color, step by step, waiting for his hair to turn darker.

Finally, it’s done.

Drying his hair off with a towel, Dabi looks at himself in the mirror. He certainly looks different - dark hair contrasting his blue eyes - but there’s another idea that comes into his mind.

It’s so fucking morbid, so bad and dark that Dabi shudders, yet - it doesn’t leave his head.

It’d be so easy, though - just to use his Quirk to make himself different.

He shakes his head, trying to get the thoughts to leave his head.

But - he wants to do it.

He wants people to stop looking at him like he’s his father, he wants people to not flinch away from him every time he makes a sudden move, he wants it all to just stop.

His fingers are twitching.

Dabi stare at himself in the mirror - and he decides.

 

The first touch is like hell. It’s so fucking hot, almost fucking unbearable as Dabi struggles to keep his hand keep on producing the blue flames.

The only good thing is that his fire is hotter than others, so that means it’s quicker than what would usually take to burn a person.

Dabi fights to drag the flame over his whole arm, leaving only his palm, stopping every few seconds to let himself have a tiny window of recovery.

Even though it hurts - so fucking much - and it feels so fucking bad and Dabi almost can’t bear it, in a way, he finally feels free.

After he’s done with his right arm, he moves onto his left, dragging his shaking hand over the skin, gritting his teeth so hard and ignoring the tears dripping out of his eyes.

It hurts, it hurts so fucking much, but finally - he feels so fucking happy about himself.

Once he’s moved past both his arms, Dabi takes a deep breath, his arms shaking so fucking badly, smoke rising off them as he raises his finger to his face.

This one, he can’t contain the whimpers and hisses and slight shouts that leave his mouth, as he carefully carves flames into the lower half of his face. Tears are now flowing from his eyes, dripping and evaporating as they get to close to his flames.

Dabi stops - he’s nearly going to pass out from the pain and heat and it’s a wonder he hasn’t set fire to anything yet - but, he decides on one last thing.

Bringing the flames down to his neck, Dabi stifles a shout, as his hands work around his collarbones.

He can’t see, can’t breathe, can’t feel anything else other than the heat enveloping his skin, and it’s already long past the point he’s telling - begging - himself to stop, but he doesn’t.

He doesn’t want to be like his father anymore.

The last thing his mind registers is someone pounding furiously on the door.

 

When Dabi wakes up, Shouto’s by his side.

He doesn’t move at first, and he can’t feel anything either - like all his skin’s been burnt off.

Oh wait, he thinks dazedly, that actually happened.

Dabi turns his head, and his eyes widen in surprise as he spots the bi-colored head of hair beside his arm.

‘Shouto?’

The boy raises his head, and Dabi sees that his eyes are red - he can’t imagine it’s because of him.

‘Nii-san,’ Shouto quietly says, not looking him in the eyes, ‘Why did you do it?’

Dabi doesn’t answer at first, but after Shouto looks at him with wide, earnest eyes, he gives in and says, ‘I didn’t like how I looked.’

Shouto frowns, but doesn’t say anything more.

There’s a knock on the door, and both of them turn their head to the door to see Fuyumi walk in with a tray of food and some medical supplies.

‘Are you feeling better? Can you sit up?’ she asks gently, setting the tray onto the bedside table.

Dabi nods, but Shouto helps him sit up anyway, Dabi winces as the bandages shift across his oversensitive skin.

‘Here,’ Fuyumi says, voice kind, as she hands him a bowl of soup and a spoon. ‘Try eating a little.’

‘Thank you,’ Dabi mutters, taking it carefully and drinking it slowly. It’s not too hot, thankfully.

Fuyumi waits silently until he finishes - it’s not that much anyways - before taking the bowl, setting it on the table and picking up the medical supplies.

‘I’ll redress your wounds,’ she tells him, soothingly, and asks Shouto, ‘Shouto, do you want to stay?’

Shouto shakes his head, and Dabi understands why, but the kid tells him, ‘Get better soon, okay?’ as he closes the door behind him, and Dabi lets a slight smile creep up onto his face.

‘Can you turn around a bit?’

Dabi complies, and Fuyumi peels the bandages off his arms and chest, working silently and efficiently as a heavy tension overtakes the room.

Finally, Dabi gives in and asks, ‘What happened?’

Fuyumi replies, working on applying some salves to his skin, ‘Shouto was banging on the bathroom door because he could feel too much fire in there - I didn’t know what he was trying to say then - but I managed to calm him a bit and he told me what he thought was going on.

‘We managed to break the lock, but by the time we got in, you had already passed out.’

Dabi nods, turning his head up so that Fuyumi can treat his lower face.

‘I - I didn’t want anything like last time to happen, so I took care of you as much as I can. I had to stitch up your skin in some parts.’

By the time she’s done, Fuyumi’s hands are shaking. Dabi swallows down the sudden lump in his throat, and takes her hands, enveloping them in his own. ‘I’m sorry.’

Fuyumi shakes her head. ‘No, don’t be,’ she says, smiling slightly, ‘I understand.’

They say nothing more, but when Fuyumi finishes, she sits beside him. ‘If you want, we could take you to a hospital,’ she suggests, ‘I’m not - ‘

‘No,’ Dabi immediately denies, ‘I’m fine with this. This’ll heal.’

Fuyumi nods in understanding, but as she’s standing up, she says, ‘Shouto was worried about you. He insisted to stay beside you when you were asleep.’

Dabi nods. ‘How long has it been?’

‘A few hours,’ she tells him, cleaning up the supplies neatly, and adds, ‘Dad’s not home yet.’

Dabi nods, and Fuyumi tells him to get some more rest before leaving the room.

 

His father takes one look at him, and says, ‘You look terrible.’

Dabi laughs in his face.

 

He’s sixteen when he runs away.

It hurts more than he thinks it would - leaving Shouto, and Fuyumi, who have grown closer to him during the years - but Dabi takes care to leave notes in places he knows his father won’t find.

The note to Shouto is carefully placed inside his dresser, between the first and second layer of shirts.

 

Shouto, I’ll miss you, but I have to leave. I hope you’ll be your own person in the future.

Regards, your brother.

 

And the other one is hidden in Fuyumi’s pillowcase, where she can easily find it and it’s also easily hidden.

 

Fuyumi, thank you for all of your care and being a sister to me. I hope you’ll still be happy.

Regards, your brother.

 

Dabi doesn’t leave notes for the other two, since they’re barely home and Dabi doesn’t really know them anyways.

He escapes during the night, having put the notes in their places the day before. He’s already packed his bag, and though he doesn’t now where he’s going to stay, he walks off anyways, after sparing a last glance at his house.

Dabi’s first thought is that he should find a safe place to sleep, as he’d packed a sleeping bag and a blanket - and he does know a place where it’s safer than the city, but it’s a long way away from where he is.

What the hell.

He’ll do it.

Dabi changes his direction first.

 

‘You’re sure he won’t look for you?’

‘Of course. He could care less about me if I don’t make a public scene.’

His mother sighs, coming over to ruffle his hair. ‘I worry, you know?’

Dabi rolls his eyes, though it’s with fondness, and says, ‘I know, mom. I can take care of myself.’

His mother smiles then, and Dabi returns it, ‘I’ll stay undercover for a while, okay? Just to be safe.’

 

Then - it’s just like that.

Dabi spends his days in boredom.

It’s not like he needs to go into the city much - he’d taken enough supplies from his house and, plus, his mother had insisted on giving him some boxes of food.

So nothing really happens.

Dabi, with the savings he’d collected over the years, buys a new phone, chucking the other in a ditch somewhere. It’s mostly to keep up with the social media, and what’s happening in the city, so there’s not really a problem.

There’s only a problem when he runs out.

He’d made a promise to himself - he wouldn’t depend on anyone else. So that leaves - stealing.

Honestly, Dabi couldn’t care less.

He’ll do something to live, so long as it isn’t under his father’s - Endeavor, number one hero - shadow.

And, if he embarrasses his father, that’s just a plus.

Dabi’s first steal is nothing big.

One of the times he’s in the city - it’s crowded, so he doesn’t like it very much, but it does provide a great cover - there’s a fat guy, talking - most likely showing off - to someone else, and, behind him on the table, there’s a wallet, almost bursting with money.

In the thick of the crowd, Dabi swipes it.

The guy doesn’t notice until Dabi’s far out of sight.

 

Dabi takes the money, stuffs it in his own wallet as soon as he gets back to his makeshift home under some trees in the countryside. He burns the guy’s wallet and everything in it, making sure to let the wind scatter away the pile of ash that forms in it’s place.

He’s not going to have to worry about food for a month at least.

 

Dabi visits his mother on occasion, where she tells him about her life when he’s been away.

Dabi steals, taking money - from rich people, mostly - to buy food and clothes.

Dabi commits his first murder when a drunk guy tries to wrestle him after attempting to rape a young girl - who then thanks him profusely, but Dabi shakes his head and tells her to be safe and that men are shitbags anyways.

Dabi’s doing nothing, on a regular basis.

Despite all that, Dabi’s happy.

 

Years pass.

His father doesn’t make a fuss about it, not even bothering to search for Dabi - and, he’s actually really glad about it.

Dabi finds what he wants: to eliminate fake heroes, to erase people like his father from the world. He can’t do anything much, but he finds other people like him, people - not really with the same belief, but with enough conviction that Dabi grows to somehow trust them anyways.

 

Toga Himiko’s one of them.

She’s insane, but Dabi’s insane for trusting her, so they kinda cancel each other out in a weird roundabout way.

(They’d met after killing a person at the same time when the woman had tried to report the police. Toga’s whining had pissed him off, so he had let her have the satisfaction of the first stab.)

‘Dabi!’ she squeals as soon as he sets foot into her apartment. ‘What do you think is nicer on me?’

There’s a good thing about her, though, and it’s that she doesn’t really ask questions about him and just makes him annoyed with her blabbering on a daily basis. And the fact that she somehow lives on her own and still somehow manages to survive. She had kept telling him to stay sth her, and Dabi had given in due to her incessant begging.

Toga steps out of the living room, holding up a sailor uniform and a skirt-version of one of her favorite heroes. Dabi forgot their name but whatever.

‘The sailor one,’ Dabi decides, shucking off his jacket and heading to the bathroom to shower.

‘Thanks!’ Toga shouts after him.

Dabi rolls his eyes in fond exasperation.

 

Despite how she looks, Toga is actually a good cook - ‘Hey!’ - and Dabi tells her so over a bowl of home-made noodles.

Toga doesn’t reply, but he can feel her smug look radiating off in waves.

‘Dabi,’ she coos, a few minutes later, ‘what do you think about gay people?’

Dabi doesn’t really think before he replies, so the first thing that slips out of his mouth is, ‘I’m gay.’

Toga stares at him for a second, eyes wide, but then giggles, hands coming up to hold her cheeks. ‘You should’ve told me earlier. We could’ve talked about boys together, Dabi!’

‘I’ll pass.’

Dabi chuckles at the ‘Why are you so mean to me?!’

 

Later, when he’s said goodnight to her and is going to walk out of the room, she says, ‘I’m pansexual.’

‘Good to know,’ Dabi replies with his usual dead voice.

Toga giggles after him.

 

‘I found a place you can live.’

Dabi raises an eyebrow, setting the plastic bag onto the nearby table, ‘What?’

His mother looks at him impatiently, and says, ‘One of my relatives died, and he left me one of his houses. It’s not known by most people, so that won’t be a problem to you. I already managed to persuade the lawyer to hand it over to you.’

‘Thanks, mom,’ Dabi says, but his mother grins, and he can’t help but reply with one of his own.

Taking a sheaf of paper from a drawer, his mother tells him, ‘Go live your life.’

Dabi hugs her.

 

It’s not bad, really. It’s not as modern or fancy as Toga’s, but it works really nicely for him.

So he settles in. Dabi ignores Toga whining as he collects his things and moves out, waving his hand as she tells him to visit often.

He’s happy.

 

Of course, he’s not happy for long.

It’s in the morning, in broad daylight, but -

But it still happens.

As he nears the building his mother lives in, he sees a figure at the very top. And the figure jumps.

Dabi doesn’t make it there in time.

A crowd of people are there, but they’re all ghosts, all shadows to him as he takes his mother’s lifeless body in his arms. No one could’ve survived a fall that far.

Dabi lashes out, against the arms that are trying to pull him back, against the tears that treated to spill out over over the chaos and confusion.

He doesn’t know what’s going on, but suddenly he’s alone.

There’s no one there, ad he’s just sitting in front of an apartment building as the crowd disperses.

Dabi gets up. And he runs.

He runs, to get all the pent up frustration out of him. He runs, knowing in his mind that his father was the one who caused all this, and how he’s so fucking angry at Endeavor for ruining so many people’s lives.

He fucking hates it.

Dabi doesn’t know how fast he runs, where he goes, but soon he’s tiring out and he slowly lightens his pace into a walk.

There’s a school building in the area, he notes dully, exhausted and feeling empty.

‘Someone’s going to fall!’

Dabi’s eyes snap upwards.

As far as he can see, it’s a boy.

A boy who’s about to - already jumping of the school building.

Despite his fatigue, Dabi finds the strength to run again.