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Preen to stay clean

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Fuyumi tried to keep her eyes on the TV directly across from her, but they kept wandering to the side to stare at the house guest. Hawks came over unannounced, as he always does, and sat himself on the loveseat in the living room waiting for Endeavor.

She didn't understand why the winged hero wouldn't just go to her father’s agency whenever he had a whim to discuss something. Endeavor wasn't very tech savvy so that ruled out texting or emailing, but the younger hero could still try calling instead of  dropping by Todoroki manor.

Fuyumi found Hawks insufferable at first, and while she's still not his biggest fan, he's a lot easier to deal with when in a quieter, more private setting. Sometimes. He still talked far too much and spoke arrogantly, but at least he was consistent and honest.

She fidgeted, trying to focus on whatever show was playing, but her eyes kept straying to the side. Hawks was sitting with his legs crossed propped up on the coffee table (Fuyumi has given up telling him to stop putting his feet on the furniture) while methodically running a brush through his wings. He was working small sections at a time, adjusting the dark red feathers to precise angles and picking tiny specs of dirt or dust out, dropping them in a small pile in his lap.

“Y’know, instead of staring you could just ask what I'm doing.” He didn't look up, focus still on his wings, but a smirk appeared on his face. “I know I'm handsome, but I thought you Todoroki kids were raised with better manners than this.”

Fuyumi would've rolled her eyes at his self-praise but was too startled from being caught staring and then called out on it. “My apologies, I didn't mean to stare.” She fixed her gaze on her feet right when he glanced up.

“Nah, I don't mind, especially when it's a lovely lady like yourself doing it.” He started chuckling as Fuyumi’s face flushed from the compliment. This time she did roll her eyes.

“Nevermind, I’m not sorry.”

He laughed louder. “Ooh, so cold! I didn't know your quirk could reach your words.” Hawks continued laughing, thoroughly enjoying making his unwilling host suffer.

“...You still haven't asked.” He reminded her in a low voice when his laughter finally ceased.

Fuyumi pursed her lips and examined her slippers as she weighed her opinions. If she engaged further, there would be no going back to quietly pretending to watch the news, however...she was very curious.

Silence settled between them, Fuyumi still pointedly staring down and Hawks still watching her waiting patiently. She heaved a long sigh. “Fine, what are you doing?”

Her eyes finally darted up and locked on him, regret sinking into her stomach as a shit eating grin broke on Hawks’ face. “Preening.”

Fuyumi blinked. He said it so casually as if to say what else could I be doing? ‘Preening’?”

“Yeah, like a bird.” He answered easily, turning his attention back to where he was previously working on his left wing. “Preen to stay clean!”

She gave him a flat look at his dumb joke, knowing full well he was acting as if he didn't notice while he brushed away. “I suppose that makes sense...” Fuyumi titled her head as she continued staring. “Is it difficult to preen? Your wings are rather large.”

Hawks shrugged slightly, running his fingers over the smooth feathers. “Not really, it's definitely time-consuming though. I have to preen at least three times a day, and it's only a pain if I got dirty while doing hero work.”

“One time I caught someone who fell from a construction site and got COVERED in paint. That was a pain in the ass to clean.” He grimaced slightly mentioning that story, personally Fuyumi would've paid money to see it.

Hawks moved to the larger feathers on the base of his wing, brushing long strokes through them. “At this point though I'm so used to the routine of preening I can do it while still waking up in the morning. It helps me relax and I feel energized afterwards.”

It wasn't a surprise the process felt relaxing, since it was relaxing just to watch. The way he was knowingly adjusting the feathers, gently brushing away any filth until they were fluffy and soft looking was almost hypnotic.

Fuyumi had a overwhelming desire for the hero to brush her hair.

Immediately after that thought popped up she turned her face away quickly, embarrassment washing over her as warmth crept up her cheeks. The sudden movement wouldn't go unnoticed, but Fuyumi prayed Hawks wouldn't comment.

“You ok?” He asked, confusion and slight concern evident in his voice.

Fuyumi cursed her luck, wishing he just feigned not to notice. “Nothing...I just…” She now cursed how awkward her voice sounded and cleared her throat before continuing. “Your wings look nice, you’re clearly very diligent about preening them.”

There was a small pause before he snorted. “You're such a liar.”

Fuyumi whipped her head back to glare at the winged hero, who merely grinned in response. “Excuse me?!”

“I said you're a liar. You might really think my wings look nice, but that isn't why you suddenly turned away blushing.” Hawks leaned forward slightly as he spoke, sharp eyes searching Fuyumi’s soft gray ones. She gulped, feeling very exposed all of a sudden.

He raised an unruly eyebrow as he murmured in a sultry tone. “Maybe perhaps it's because you were thinking…dirty thoughts?”

Fuyumi threw the closest decorative pillow she could grab at his face, unfortunately he caught it right in time even as he howled with laughter. She scowled and crossed her arms, trying not to think about how red her face must be or how stupid attractive his voice sounded just then.

“Ok, ok, I'm sorry, sorry!” He apologized in between laughs.

He pushed his blue tinted visor up to wipe at tears that formed, taking a few deep breaths to calm down. “But really, what made you freak out just now?”

The glint in his eyes told Fuyumi he wasn't going to drop it anytime soon. She would never hear the end of it if she confessed (even if she did get what she very briefly wanted), so she blurted out the best sounding lie she could think of.

“I wondered what it would be like to brush your wings. There, happy?” Her arms pulled a little tighter around herself as they stared at each other.

Hawks blinked once, twice, then quickly peered down at his neglected brush. “No.”

The silence that followed was awkward. Fuyumi watched wide-eyed as Hawks’ face flushed slightly and he pouted.

She snorted, quickly covering her mouth as he threw a glare her way. “Sorry, I didn't expect you to be so protective of your precise preening time.”

His eyes narrowed. “No one else can do it right.” The hero turned back to his wing and resumed brushing. “I hate when interviewers or fans ask if they can play with my wings and I have to chuckle and say 'Sure!’, because then I just get stuck fixing it later.”

His cheeks were tinged pink, and it was clear by his tone he intended to end the conversation there. Normally Fuyumi would be relieved when Hawks would finally shut up, but right now it left a sour taste in her mouth.

She toyed with her hair, a nervous habit of hers, before apologizing again. “I’m sorry, I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable. Although…”

Fuyumi glanced at him and waited until he finally shifted his gaze back on her. “...if you're willing to explain how, I wouldn't mind trying to properly preen your wings.”

Hawks’ eyes widened at her request, clearly thrown by the forwardness. Fuyumi herself was surprised she offered to learn, but the idea people thoughtlessly make a mess of his wings on TV or in public for entertainment genuinely angered her.

He cleared his throat after a long pause. “...ok, sure. It’ll, uh, work best if I sat in a chair backwards. Or if you sat in between my legs but um...yeah I can get a chair---”

Fuyumi patted the coffee table directly in front of her. “You put your feet on it all the time as it is, what more is you sitting on it?” She chuckled under her breath as he pouted again. “Don’t worry, my father has stood on this table before, it's very sturdy.”

Hawks eyed the spot warily, before pushing himself up and gently floating over to sit cross-legged directly in front of Fuyumi facing her, the small pile of dust still in his lap. He silently held out of the brush for her, which she delicately accepted.

It was clearly a specialty brush, with long, strong, sharp bristles and a curved shaped to it. Fuyumi was equal parts irritated people either misused this nice brush or used a low quality one on his wings, and touched he trusted her enough to actually learn his process.

He spread his right wing out, and guided her hand to the top where it arched. “Brush in small downwards strokes, similar to how you would with hair, until the feathers look smoother and soft. Don't worry about dust or dirt, or adjusting the feathers individually, it uh, won’t really make sense the first time.”

“‘First time’?” She raised a neat eyebrow, and smirked slightly.

“Well...I suppose if you do well enough just brushing...I can let you preen them again some time.” He said quietly.

A small part of her hoped she lived up to his expectations.

She started brushing the striking colored feathers softly, not wanting to tug or damage them. It was a little awkward, especially with how tense Hawks was seated in front of her, but after a few minutes working down the length of his right wing, his posture visibly relaxed.

His eyes fluttered closed, and he rested his chin on his left hand. Aside from the occasional gentle instructions, his body language was so loose he could've easily been mistaken for being asleep. If he were a cat, Fuyumi is sure he'd be purring loudly.

Eventually Fuyumi finished brushing the feathers, and had to resist the urge to run her hands over the soft looking tendrils. Hawks slowly blinked his eyes open, glanced over her work, and gently fluttered his crimson wings until they poofed out a small amount.

It was adorable. Fuyumi tried to keep her expression neutral looking, but it was difficult after the little display.

“You actually did pretty well, considering you didn't even know what I was doing 15 minutes ago.” His voice was missing the snarky edge it usually carried, coming out more timid than he probably meant. “... thanks, that uh...it was nice.”

Fuyumi would never admit out loud she vaguely thought Hawks blushing or being awkward was cute, but she could admit it was refreshing to see the smug hero shelf his arrogance every once in a while.

“You're welcome, it was kind of fun. Perhaps I can learn more about your preening techniques next time.” Fuyumi said with a small smile.

“'Next time’, huh?” He leaned forward, too close that Fuyumi backed up further into the cushions behind her. “Now, Todoroki-san, if I didn't know any better I'd say you were flirting.

His smirk was confident, but there was this delicate emotion in his eyes she couldn't quite decipher. Fuyumi’s heart was beating so loud she's sure he could hear from where he was leaning not even a foot away. “I…---”

The resounding noise of the front door opening and firmly closing in such a quintessential Endeavor way was enough to dispel any further teasing.

Hawks jumped so hard he used the momentum to hop off the coffee table and fly a few feet away onto his feet, barely collecting the small dust pile into his hands before it could spill. His face was as red as the ruffled feathers on his back however Fuyumi couldn't fault him. After all, if her father walked in on their little scene there she would be shocked if it didn't result in someone being set on fire.

Endeavor must've heard the small commotion because he was now in the doorway, scrutinizing eyes darting between his daughter and begrudged colleague. “What are you doing here?” His tone as harsh and fiery as always.

Hawks took a small breath, before suddenly tossing the dust in his hand at Endeavor's chest, right into one of the open patches of flames his costume produced. The dust immediately singed. “Just looking for the trash.”

Endeavor blinked at his chest, then looked up and blinked at Hawks. The winged hero wore his best sassy grin proudly on his face.

Fuyumi supposed she'd never be able to learn Hawks’ proper preening techniques, because if the face her father was pinning the younger hero with said anything, it was that he was going to be charred alive in a few moments.