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A Crime to Remember

Chapter Text

Honied amber beams of light streamed in through the glass doors of Ace Tattoo Parlor. It was a small little place, located at the end of a long line of stores, standing out form the rest with it’s neon sign of ace cards. A well known establishment with a respect built by the owner after many trials and many tribulations. It was a quiet afternoon, enough into the business day that no one was really wandering the streets, so there was really only one customer in the building. Currently, he was leafing though pages and pages of a sample portfolio, entranced by the work that could be inked into his skin.

“Could you give me flowers?”

Iwaizumi Hajime glanced up from his magazine, a gossip article about the juicy secrets of some random superhero, to look his customer in the eyes. They were a hurricane, full of life and vibrancy, a beautiful doe brown with the tiniest of golden flecks, wide and curious. He was a cute guy, very easy on the eyes, with a certain level of attractiveness that you couldn’t tear your eyes away from. Flowers, huh? Yeah, Iwaizumi could see him with a few flower tattoos, dusts of lavender creeping up his neck, lilies like an angel’s wings spread on his shoulders, or gardenias like little stars scattered across his back.

The customer blinked at him, then cocked his head to the side, trying to capture his attention. His actions broke Iwaizumi of the reverie.

“I can do flowers,” Iwaizumi replied, folding up his magazine and tossing it aside. “Have anything specific in mind, Mr . . . ?”

“Oikawa Tooru, and I’d like a carnation? I thought about stars or you know a storm cloud with lightning, but that last one seemed a bit cartoonish, so I settled on a carnation,” the customer replied. He had a nice voice. It was a little higher than he expected it to be, but it was far from grating. It held an air of thoughtfulness as he continued to skim through Iwaizumi’s portfolios, nimble fingers tracing over the patterns mindlessly.

Iwaizumi nodded. He pulled out a sketchpad and and a set of colored pencils. He motioned for the customer to sit in a small recliner where they both did consultations and actually painted the tattoos. “Have a color in mind? A certain style?”

“Colorless. I don’t want it narrowed down to a single meaning because of the color of the petals.” Oikawa sat in the chair and smiled his feet dangled off the end, so he kicked them merrily like they were conducting an orchestra. “Bold, black edges,” he said, “almost like they’re a barrier.”

Iwaizumi raised an eyebrow as he searched up carnations on his phone. He let Oikawa skim over the various pictures before settling on one. Dual flowers on a single stem, simple but pretty enough. So Iwaizumi got to drawing, this was the easy part because he was allowed to mess up and start over again. He wondered if he should hurry, but he noticed the way Oikawa leaned over the side of the chair, watching with rapt fascination as Iwaizumi drew, shading in the shadows on the petals and leaves. There was a glimmer of a brilliant smile quirking up the sides of his lips, a gentle relaxation that was a stark contrast from when he’d walked in, fluttery and nervous, like he had to prove that he was brave enough to get a tattoo.

“So,” Iwaizumi started. He wasn’t one to normally make small talk while he worked, normally leaving that to one Nishinoya and Tanaka, but they weren’t here and Oikawa was eye candy. “Why do you want to get a tattoo of carnations? Do they mean something to you?”

“They’ve been with me every step of the way, really,” Oikawa admitted. His eyes left Iwaizumi’s hands to take in the sight of the tattoos cascading down the tattoo artist’s impressive arms and the ones barely visible through his tank top. They were swirls and twists like a maze, mesmerizing, and he would’ve liked to know what they meant to the artist. “My mom was given carnations when I was born. My sister made me a flower crown out of carnations from a flower shop when I was five. All of my graduations, I was given bouquets of carnations, pink, red, and purple. I recently started up my first business venture and there were no carnations and it felt so wrong. I thought I would treat myself to a more permanent flower.”

“So, this is your first tattoo?” Iwaizumi asked, his lips quirking up. He glanced at his customer to see him tearing his eyes away from the decorative display of his arms.

“Is it that obvious?” Oikawa chuckled. “Does it hurt as much as people say, Mr. . . ?”

“Iwaizumi Hajime. And, yeah, it can hurt like a bitch depending on the location of the tat,” Iwaizumi replied with a grin, “but I think it’s worth it if the tattoo means something to you and if it’s a design that you really like.” He gingerly brushed aside some stray charcoal dust, careful not to smudge the design. It was coming along quite well, and so far Oikawa had not so much as squeaked out an objection. “What’s your new business?”

“I opened up a bakery,” Oikawa explained, a dazzling smile overcoming his thoughtfulness. “It’s actually just down the street from here.”

“The Blue Bakery?” He’d passed by the establishment a few times and seen some beautiful designs on the cakes, elaborate piping and modeling chocolate patterns.

“Yup, that’s my baby. I worked through culinary school— overworked myself into exhaustion to make myself stand out so high class bakeries would fight over me for internships. I traveled the France, Ireland, Germany, Italy, and even America to learn from the best.” He sounded rather proud about that, a braggart, almost pompous, but hey if you’ve got it, flaunt it. If he really is as accomplished as he’s saying he is, Iwaizumi sees no problem in him being so obviously proud of his talent. “I’m no prodigy but I built up enough of a reputation as hard worker and quick learner that when I officially opened, we had a swarm of customers. It’s just a major relief to know that all my hard work has finally paid off.”

“I know the feeling,” Iwaizumi said. “I studied art and interned all over the world with various artists so that one day I could finally open this little shop. My dad owned a tattoo parlor and I wanted to follow in his footsteps.” That last part was true, but while Iwaizumi was abroad and while his parents fought crime back here in Japan, he was learning to understand and control his powers. It had been hard, but his teachers had been patient with him and his abilities grew faster and stranger than the other students. He stood out as a beacon of sorts, with his glowing tattoos of incredible power, a future, dependable superhero in the making.

“Me too! My mom worked in a small bakery in Izu, and I wanted to make her proud by starting up my own to show her that everything she taught me when I was little is being put to good use, to making myself and others happy. She says that she wants to retire and live out the rest of her days lazy, but I have a feeling that she’ll just come here and work in my bakery. It’ll be nice to bake with her again.” Oikawa smiled at him, warmly and giddily. A kindred spirit. “So both our parents inspired us into the careers we’re taking now? We’re not so different it seems.”

“I guess not,” he shrugged, agreeing.

“You should drop by my bakery sometime. I’ll give you a discount on any treat of your choice. I warn you, one bite of my cream puffs and you’ll be addicted for life.” Oikawa hummed happily, seemingly satisfied now that he’d invited Iwaizumi to his work space, like it was what he’d been gearing himself up for this whole time. The lightest tint of pink colored his soft cheeks, and Iwaizumi found that insanely cute.

“I might take you up on that offer,” Iwaizumi replied. “I’m not usually a sweets guy, but you’re really talking yourself up here. I just might have to find out if you’re as good as you say you are.”

Oikawa chuckled and responded with a flirtatious wink, a tease. “I am,” his voice going from that cute, flighty voice into something low and oh so tempting.

Iwaizumi held up the sketchpad finally done with his design and Oikawa stared at it like it meant the world to him. Something warm fluttered through Iwaizumi, no matter how many clients said they were happy with his designs or squealed when he was done painting them, none of them ever looked at his work the way Oikawa did. It was a simple design but right now Iwaizumi swore by the way Oikawa reached out to touch the sketch, absolute adoration in his eyes, that it was the best work he’d ever done.

“I love it,” Oikawa said almost breathless. “It’s beautiful! It’s almost like I could reach out and I would be holding a real carnation.”

“You really like it that much?” Iwaizumi asked, almost as if he was doubting himself.

“It’s perfect!” Oikawa stared at him, his words clearly insisting. He took the sketchpad from Iwaizumi’s hands and continued to take it all in, a smile that he couldn’t seem to stifle taking over his face and lighting it up. Pretty, Iwaizumi thought to himself, and realizing that he’d nearly said it out loud, did his best to calm himself before he started blushing like an idiot.

“Okay, so, you said when you first came in that you wanted it on the base of your neck, right?” Iwaizumi continued, with an energy he didn’t really remembering ever having with a client before. “That’s easily doable with this design. Is that still what you want?”

“Yes. Does it hurt more on the neck?” Oikawa almost didn’t seem daunted by the idea of pain anymore; he was so distracted by the future design that would be inked into his creamy skin.

“It’s actually one of the easier spots to get inked, a tiny bit less painful,” Iwaizumi eased.

“Promise me you’ll hold my hand?” Oikawa teased with a smirk, giggling.

If Iwaizumi didn’t know any better, he would guess the the two of them were developing relatively innocent crushes on each other. Which, with his line of work as the favorite hero for hire at the Tokyo Police Department, wasn’t really in the cards for him. He was devoted to making this business the best it could be and devoted to help the police department take down violent criminals and villains. It didn’t exactly leave room for a love life, one night stands if he was lucky, but they weren’t really his style. He did want that attachment, that one longing to be with someone, but his life didn’t allow him that luxury, and he lived with it just fine.

The consultation ended with Oikawa paying Iwaizumi for his time and them setting up a date for him come in a get the tattoo inked in. While he was paying, Oikawa got a phone call which he answered in an overly cheery tone that Iwaizumi immediately took disliking to, left a bitter taste in his mouth. It seemed to be an urgent call, Oikawa was left nodding and his eyes darkening into focus. He told the caller that he would be right there before telling Iwaizumi that it wasn’t anything to worry about, just a mix up with deliveries that would be pain to correct. And with that, all paid and date set, Oikawa left happy, almost skipping out the door and heading down the street, presumably towards his bakery.

Iwaizumi was about to make a note to visit the bakery in the future during one of his breaks, but a sudden phone call interrupted that thought. He looked at the caller ID, Matsukawa Issei, a fellow hero, a good guy with the power of plant manipulation. He and Iwaizumi often worked together with the Tokyo Police Department on jobs against villains that the cops couldn’t handle by themselves.

“Yo,” Iwaizumi answered, fishing his hand around in the candy jar on the front counter. He really felt like having some cinnamon gum right now.

“Big job,” Matsukawa announced, instead of returning the greeting. Iwaizumi could feel the power beginning to course through his markings, glowing with phosphorescent, neon lights. Each tattoo stirred with life, ready to prepare him for battle. He nearly grinned. He really did love catching and thrashing some bad guys. “Tokyo PD is calling everyone in. Apparently, Silver Fox has a new buddy in town. Ever heard of Vortex?”

The enjoyment of his powers died away the moment Iwaizumi heard Matsukawa say that name. He seethed through his teeth, sticking a piece of cinnamon gum in his mouth and chewing angrily, glad that Oikawa couldn’t see him like this, absolutely resentful and loathing. “Yeah, I know him,” Iwaizumi answered, his voice low and venomous, “want to kick his stupid ass and rearrange his face so bad doctors won’t know the first step to fixing him.”

There was a pause. “Okay, then. Cool. So, someone has issues,” Matsukawa responded, laughing a little from the sudden anger from Iwaizumi. “Well, chief wants to brief us before we head out. Just get down here as fast as possible, cool?”

“Cool.” It was more of disgruntled grumble than an agreement.

Iwaizumi hung up and started to close up shop, pulling his black leather jacket on to cover his tattoos (no one knew where his powers came form and he wasn’t willing to let that secret out anytime soon). He phoned Tanaka and Nishinoya to come in a little early, telling them the situation. Them, being the amazing, enthusiastic employees that they are, immediately agreed, and Asahi would be coming in to help out as well. So, with that taken care of, Iwaizumi locked up the store, his eyes glancing down the street in the direction Oikawa had ventured. He would stop by and treat himself to Oikawa’s looks and maybe a cream puff or two after he finished with Vortex, this was a five year old rivalry that Iwaizumi was eager to bury in his past.

So, he clambered onto his motorcycle and took off down the street. He knew there was something off about today. Sure, Oikawa and made it a better, but Iwaizumi should’ve known that trouble was coming his way. He’d smelled a storm, a calamity, the minute he woke up that morning, and creaks in his bones from wounds that meant heavy rain was on the horizon.

* * * * * *

When the question came up if anyone had dealt with Vortex before, Matsukawa had grabbed Iwaizumi by the wrist and forced him to raise his hand. The chief motioned for Iwaizumi to stand and give out the information that he was willing to share. He never liked speaking in crowds, being more of a man of action than anything else, but when it came to Vortex, that was a whole other matter. He, Glyph, was willing to do anything that it took to take down the villain. He wasn’t exactly a menace, because he appeared rarely and struck hard, but he was too dangerous to be left to do as he pleased.

Plus, he always managed to get under Iwaizumi’s skin and thoroughly piss him off to the point that Iwaizumi would sometimes lose his temper and fly into a complete fury, becoming nearly as destructive as Vortex himself. He hated it, hated the villain with every fibre of his body.

“Vortex is the strongest villain that I’ve ever come across. I met when I was studying under Ukai at the School of Crows in Ireland. Vortex was barely learning how to control his powers when we were sent in to subdue him, but we didn’t know anything about him. So, stupidly, we attacked and, out of fear, he lashed out. Lightning came down from the to create a sort of protective cage around him but it did more damage to the surrounding property than anything. It nearly set the entire town on fire.” Iwaizumi took a deep breath remembering that day, remembered the hurricane of hatred and fear in the eyes behind the deep blue mask. A boy, a teenager, like Iwaizumi and been. “His powers are weather manipulation and when he’s built up enough anger and energy, it can extend into natural disasters, and he can control each aspect of his powers individually if he wants to.”

“He’s a walking calamity,” the Sawamura murmured, with a feared sort of awe. He didn’t have any powers, but Iwaizumi had never met someone with a sense of justice quite like the chief of police. “He has to go down before he hurts any citizens,” Sawamura continued, speaking to the whole team now. Iwaizumi sat down, happy to be in the leather, swivel chair so he could try and formulate a plan in his head. “At the moment, we know that he’s aligned himself with Silver Fox and we don’t want that partnership to last.”

“Silver Fox,” Suga said, standing up. He was a kind hearted researcher, no powers, with the lightest blond hair any of them had seen, chocolate brown eyes and a beauty mark under his left eye. The Tokyo PD often hired him to study and construct files on the various villains and criminals in the area. “Illusions and harmony manipulation. He can lull you into a state of complete contentment where you essentially become catatonic and useless. Then there’s his illusions, unpredictable and sometimes tangible, and he has no limitation on how many he can summon and they seemingly have no time limit on them.”

“So, this is going to be a pain in the ass, then?” Matsukawa asked, crossing his arms. He kicked his feet up onto the meeting table, Bokuto mimicked the action, trying to look equally as thoughtful. Bokuto wasn’t exactly a thinker, he was a feeler. He went with his gut and it was usually right. Iwaizumi liked him well enough, trusted him to make the right decisions in a fight. “How likely are we to die?”

“If Vortex summons a tornado, very likely,” Iwaizumi replied casually.

“Does he hate you as much as you hate him?” Bokuto, the Horned Owl, asked curiously. He had big, golden eyes that just went right through you like daggers, and they were both trained on Iwaizumi, trying to read him.

“Pretty much. Whenever we run into each other, we try to kill each other. Not your normal, villain laughs as he tries to kill you fight, no, more like straight up brawling until we’re both bloody messes and he runs away if he’s about to lose—or, well, flies away.”

“Like Crazy Ex-Boyfriend levels of hatred or You Stole My Sunfire Autograph kind of hatred?” Bokuto inquired, leaning forward, blinking owlishly. He had no concept of personal space but it was all friendly and it didn’t phase Iwaizumi, having grown used to it n their time as teammates. “Both are insanely extreme levels of loathing by the way.”

“Speaking from personal experience, Bokuto?” Iwaizumi asked, with a deadpan expression, staring right back at his friend.

Bokuto huffed and sunk lower in his seat, pouting like a child. “Sunfire doesn’t give out autographs often because he’s such a fucking hot head. What kind of monster do you have to be to steal that from someone? It was my most prized possession and he just took it!”

“And on that note!” Sawamura said loudly, breaking up the conversation. “You should head to the Taitō ward and wait it out. Silver Fox is lying low now, but our mole says he wants to hit Okachimachi before the day is out. You know how he likes to rob jewelry stores, and now that he’s got a friend, I have no doubt that he’ll want to hit Tokyo’s Jewelry District.”

The three heroes nodded and stood up. Sugawara sorted his papers back into his folder and nodded to them all with a wonderful, warm smile. “And I have a lecture to attend. I’ll see you guys on the news when you save Tokyo. Again.” He smiled shyly at Daichi who gave an awkward wave before walking out the door, wishing them all good luck.

“Chief, you have it so bad,” Matsukawa snickered. “Hurry up and ask him out on a date. He’s waiting for you to make the first move. He wants your dick as badly as you want his.” All he got was a leveled glared from Sawamura in response.

Iwaizumi reached across his face and summoned a streak of black to stretch from eye to eye, effectively working as his mask. Bokuto pulled on his mask that looked like black and white feathers, matching his salt and pepper spiked updo, that made his golden eyes pop. Matsukawa reached out the potted plant in the corner of the room and vines, like snakes, slithered out towards him. They vines broke away from the plant and hovered in his hand, molding and crackling with energy until it formed the shape of a mask. He fit it onto his face and the plants seemed to mold and stick to his skin.

“How do I look?” Bokuto asked, motioning to himself. He must’ve brushed the feathers on his mask or something because he looked just like an owl puffing out his feathers to show off.

“Like a zoology nerd gone wild,” Iwaizumi and Matsukawa replied in unison like they did every time they put on their masks.

Bokuto huffed. “I look cooler when I have my wings!” he insisted. He did just that, groaning as the muscles and bones in his back rearranged to allow him to summon the long, graceful wings, the feathers mirroring the colors of Bokuto’s hair, black, white, and grey. One of the wings, as they finally stretched out, accidentally smacked Sawamura across the face. “Ah! Daichi, I’m sorry! I hit you again, but I didn’t mean to—”

“I’m used to it by now, Bokuto, don’t worry,” Sawamura mumbled, defeated. “Good luck, you three. Take ‘em down.”

* * * * * *

Okachimachi, the Jewelry District. Tall buildings stretched onward, bleeding neon blurs onto the asphalt streets. There were a few people standing here and there, doing last minute browsing as the stores were beginning to close, or standing around to wait for their ride. There was the gentle hum of white noise coming from idling cars or ones ignoring the speed limit. Signs of the older stores flickered off and on while the newer stores had blaring light shining down on them as they gently drove up and down the streets, watching and waiting for something big to happen. The skies, like Iwaizumi had thought they would be, were terribly overcast and the occasional threats of lightning flashed overhead, almost like omens of the oncoming fight.

“Where are they?” Bokuto asked for the fifteenth time that hour. Fidgety and impatient, two of Bokuto’s well known traits. Nothing wrong with that, though, it just meant that he was anxious to do good. “If they’re not here can I at least listen to some music, Iwaizumi?”

“I’m down for music,” Matsukawa replied, before any objections could be raised. Music wouldn’t deter Iwaizumi anyway, his eyes were glued to the streets in front of them and scanning over every face that walked past them. It occurred to him that he had never seen Vortex as civilian before, but given how many times they had clashed, Iwaizumi was certain that he could pick out his nemesis from a tightly packed crowd.

The iconic strums of an electric guitar and the heavy percussion of Battle Without Honor Or Humanity by Tomoyasu Hotei filled their car. The beat stirred up the tension building within them, and Iwaizumi was beginning to see the scene of O-Ren Ishii walking down the hallway with her Crazy 88 at her side from Kill Bill in his head. A calm before the storm.

“What does Vortex normally do, crime wise?” Matsukawa asked conversationally. He was texting someone, the faintest smile on his face. Probably that flower store owner he’d been going on and on about for a couple weeks now. “Pink hair, golden brown eyes, and an ass that won’t quit,” is the description he’d given them of Hanamaki Takahiro.

“Vortex normally goes for the big fish, usually,” Iwaizumi replied. “Most villains go for robberies, maybe murdering politicians, hostage situations for ransom money, stuff like that, but Vortex goes after heroes. He has a huge grudge against us. I have a feeling it has to do with when School of Crows attacked him in Ireland.”

“Has he killed any heroes?” Bokuto asked apprehensively. He sprawled across the backseat, his wings tucked in enough so he could lie down comfortably.

“I’ve only heard rumors that he’s killed. Nothing certain. Every time that I’ve run into him, though, I’ve manage to stop him, and he hates my fucking guts for it. Mostly, from what I’ve seen myself and the others with me when I’ve faced him, he just scares them out of hero business. You know my friend Asahi?” Matsukawa and Bokuto nodded, listening intently. Iwaizumi really did appreciate how well they were understanding the gravity of Vortex’s appearance. “Yeah, he and Noya used to be a team. Asahi had incredible strength and could swing Noya around who turned into an electrified hammer. One fight with Vortex, and they were out of the business for good. Asahi starts to shake every time you mention the name to him.”

Outside, Iwaizumi noticed, the wind was picking up. He searched the skies to see a violent swirl of storm clouds overheard, swirling like a cyclone was on the verge of coming down on them. While he was talking, he hadn’t noticed that the rain was starting to come down, light at the moment, but it wouldn’t be long before it was like a typhoon. Vortex was near, very close, and Iwaizumi’s fingers twitched with the itch to fight at the thought of him appearing at any second.

“Anything else you warn us about?” Matsukawa asked, breaking Iwaizumi’s concentration once again. “Like does he do the typical villain monologue to the hero about his evil plan? Have an evil laugh? A henchman?”

“He has a terrible personality, a total asshole,” Iwaizumi finished, sighing. “And he’s got this stupid, shit-eating grin on his stupid while he blasts me with lightning and rain.”

“Sounds unpleasant.”

“The grin or the lightning?”

“I’d say the lightning but that glare of yours tells me that you somehow hate the grin more,” Matsukawa replied. Iwaizumi gave him a hardened look while his best friend blinked back blankly. “Why would you hate the grin more, Iwaizumi? I think you’re just being petty now.”

A clap of thunder resonated around them, louder and far more piercing than any gunshot. Bokuto, covered his sensitive ears with a squeak, closing his eyes. Meanwhile, Iwaizumi’s eyes tore away from Matsukawa and watched a surge of white blast into a nearby tree. Lightning. Fire sprang up, licking at the bark until the whole thing was consumed in flames. Iwaizumi stepped out of the car to see a man in a silver suit and flowing white cape— actually, multiple copies of the same man— appearing and disappearing from various stores, expensive jewelry twinkling like stars in his hands. The copies all waved at him, a gleeful giggle filling the empty air.

“It’s Silver Fox!” Iwaizumi shouted.

Matsukawa, from the safety of the car, extended his hands. Vines broke through the asphalt road and started chasing after every multiple of Silver Fox. A bell-like laugh rippled through the air around them, and Silver Fox vanished from sight, another one suddenly appearing from a store at a corner. Still laughing. He was the most difficult villain for them to pin down, with his illusions and voice, he was almost untouchable, and the three heroes could already feel the effects of his voice taking a toll on them. At the moment, with so many duplicates of Silver Fox running around, they couldn’t pin down the real one, and that was the only one that mattered.

“Vortex, could you deal with these little pests, please?” Silver Fox’s voice carried over the sound of the storm, punching them all right in the gut with it’s sweetness. Iwaizumi’s eyes darted around finally settling on a revolving set of clouds, whipping up faster winds, not too far from where they were. Something, an instinct, told him that Vortex was there, waiting for his opportunity to strike and hit harder than a freight train.

Bokuto exited the car with a determined expression. “Matsukawa and I will handle Silver Fox. You can take Vortex—” Bokuto searched the skies and ground “—wherever he is.”

There was loud CRACK! and lightning blasted right into Iwaizumi, sending him flying into a nearby store, crashing through the glass which cut through his costume and into him like thorns. He stayed on the ground a for a few seconds, the electricity making his body seize and convulse, crackling up his skin. He managed to stand, finally. The familiar warm, sticky trickle of blood stream down his back. He swore under his breath and stood, unsteadily to his feet. He flexed his shoulders, testing the points where he felt the most pain. Good, the tattoos for his wings hadn’t been damaged, he could still summon them if he wanted to. He didn’t get time to assess the rest of his wounds because, hovering about twenty feet off the ground, arms crossed and lightning flickering across his form, there was Vortex.

Tall, with wisps of brown hair whipping around from the wind and cold, steeled eyes locked onto Iwaizumi from behind the ostentatious mask that looked something that came from a masquerade ball. Iwaizumi always thought that he stood out from most villains because he didn’t dress like the rest of them did. He was clad in sleek, well-fitted jeans, a black tank top, sturdy work boots that didn’t let him slip whenever he was forced to land on wet asphalt, and a turquoise, mint green, and white bomber jacket.

“Glyph!” Vortex greeted far too cheerily, crossing his arms over his chest, his voice grating to Iwaizumi’s ears. There was another crack of thunder. The fire from the nearby tree cast an eerie dance of shadows across his face, made him seem all the more dangerous and menacing as he grinned, a vicious slice of white teeth revealed, like he might bite Iwaizumi. “Always nice to see your ugly, brutish face! How’s the world been treating you? Terribly, I hope!”

Chapter Text

There are rivalries between heroes and their villains that have gone down in history as some of the greatest conflicts between good and evil. The Batman and the Joker, Superman and Lex Luthor, Wonder Woman and Cheetah, Captain America and Red Skull, Spiderman and Green Goblin. Well, the rivalry between Vortex and Glyph was one of these legendary rivalries that people would talk about for years to come. In fact, their clashes were already popular over in Europe since that was the place of their first encounter and destructive fight. Whenever the two clashed, it was like a flurry of cyclones ripped through whatever city they fought in.

Oikawa Tooru thought to himself how he would’ve like nothing more than to blast Glyph off the face of the earth as he stared down at the hero recovering from his first attack. He was just so fucking infuriating, so strong. He was literally the perfect hero, steadfast, unyielding in his “sense of justice,” and honorable, or what passed as honorable these days. It made the electricity sparking between Oikawa’s fingers crackle with ire. He knew better, though. All heroes were exactly the same, greedy show offs that take bribes from villains and criminals when no one is looking. Symbols. Hypocritical symbols, that’s all they were, lies and cheats.

It just made that first hit on Glyph feel that much more satisfying, and Oikawa had a great view of him now from hovering above to look down and smirk at the damaged hero. There was that stupid brown coat of his that he always wore, looked like leather and shined like it in the rain, and under that was his water and fire resistant sleek, black pants and maroon shirt (under which glowed a small sphere of power) that looked like a second skin, and also made it hard to see him bleed. Oikawa liked to see the heroes bleed.

Oikawa hated him, loathed his undying existence.

“Silver Fox said I might run into you, and here I was expecting a fight, but it was far easier to land a strike on you than usual, Glyph. What’s wrong? Too weak to stand a chance against me now?” Oikawa mocked, safely floating on the air currents circling around them. As long as he was in the air, he was safer than he would be on the ground. Glyph excelled on the ground, but he could fly. From what Oikawa had learned from their fights, though, was that he was a clumsier in the air. It was his last ditch effort in catching a villain.

Glyph snarled at him, almost animalistic and it made the hairs on the back of Oikawa’s neck stick up in excitement. “Some things just never change, do they? Glad to know you’re still one hell of an asshole,” Glyph growled out, “makes beating the shit out of you so much more fun.”

Such a brute.

Glyph’s hands glowed and the skin molded and hardened into metal, his forearms forming the barrel and his hands the muzzle of the cannons. He immediately fired two shots of golden photons at Oikawa, who directed the wind currents to carry him out of the way.

Hovering as safely and lithely as ever, Oikawa tsked disapprovingly, shaking his head like he was disappointed. “No wonder no one likes you, Glyph,” he teased. “Such a crude vocabulary.”

He raised his hands and summoned all the lightning he could at one time. Thunder roared overhead like a pride of lions, and the lightning slithered around him like snakes as he grinned down at Glyph. The hero glowered at him, daring him to hit him with his best shot. There was a certain type of excitement that came with fighting Glyph, but Oikawa liked to win, liked to crush heroes that thought they were so good, and it lit a fire of absolute loathing in his veins, because, for some fucking reason, he couldn’t crush Glyph.

Oikawa thrust his hands forward, the lightning snaking around his wrists and charging down, while Glyph fired another four shots from his photon cannon arms. Golden power met sparks of blue and white, creating an impressive explosion that created a strong gust of wind. Oikawa didn’t waste any time in sending more lightning as he flew down to try and catch Glyph by surprise, using the explosion as a smokescreen.

Glyph was waiting for him, though, and fired two shots as soon as Oikawa appeared from the smoke and fire. He barely had time to evade the attack.

“Fuck you,” Oikawa seethed venomously, nearly hitting the ground, but the wind caught him and lifted him back into the air, cradling him. He whirled to find Glyph readying for another blast, that infuriating, steely gaze of virescent eyes that was never rattled in the slightest stared him down. “Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, Glyph!”

“Sorry, but you’re really not my type!” Glyph yelled in return, blasting at him again, but Oikawa clapped his hands together once, summoning thunder from his fingertips and using the abrupt sound as a barrier to keep the photon blasts form getting through. The lights of the photons dimmed away into nothing and Oikawa was left staring at Glyph as the sound resonated throughout the district, shattering glass and breaking the concrete under their feet. Somewhere behind Oikawa, he could hear and feel the tremor of a building that had probably already been unstable collapse from his power.

“I am everyone’s type!” Oikawa countered, offended.

Glyph wasn’t fazed by the huge explosion or by the fact that Oikawa had managed to get in so close. There was no shaking this guy, no surprising him, and it infuriated Oikawa even more. Glyph was iron, unmoving and sturdy, almost unbreakable. He commanded a respect that Oikawa never would’ve thought to give to any hero, but if he wasn’t who he was, believed what he believed, then he might’ve been willing to trust Glyph as a hero. But he was Oikawa Tooru, he was Vortex, and he hated heroes to his core.

Oikawa gritted his teeth and looked to the side. Silver Fox was running circles around Horned Owl and Crossvine, like Oikawa expected him to. However, he only had a limited amount of time before Silver Fox started singing the signal that they needed to leave.

“So, Glyph, I really do have a busy day tomorrow so if you wouldn’t mind dying now, that would be great!”

Oikawa sent another wave of thunder, this time concentrated directly at Glyph. Even the hero couldn’t withstand this, and he was knocked back and off his feet. Oikawa took the opportunity to send, what he called, a thunder shock right at the hero. He stomped his foot onto the asphalt, touching the ground for the first time during this fight, sending shocks of lightning under the ground towards Glyph. Just as the hero was about to stand, the lightning burst from the ground like tentacles and wrapped themselves around Glyph, lifting him into the air and sending violent surges of electricity into his body.

Glyph cried out in pain, writhing and struggling like a trapped animal, the vice grips of lighting searing into his skin though his costume. His hands lost their weaponized form, turning back into the weak, flimsy fingers that were just so human and so breakable.

Oikawa felt downright victorious watching Glyph in such a helpless position, and he let a grin split across his face. “I’m gonna fucking win this time,” he murmured to himself, in awe. Then he couldn’t help himself, felt downright joy from his victory, he grinned so wide and uncontrolled.

Suddenly something hit him, a brief, sharp pain, and Oikawa clutched the back of his head and he whirled around, furious, expecting to see Horned Owl or Crossvines making some feeble attempt to save Glyph. Instead, there was a teenage civilian, tall, a haircut that reminded Oikawa of an unfashionable bumblebee, with a glare that could kill, dressed in tattered jeans and a paint stained shirt. His first thought is a relatively obvious one: Who the fuck is this and why do they think they can get away with throwing rocks at me? He would never hurt a civilian, not in a million years, but he suddenly had the urge to use the wind to pick up the runt and fling him across the city because he just threw a rock at Oikawa and it fucking hurt.

“Get the fuck away from him!” the kid yelled, picking up another rock, throwing it towards him. He kept glancing at Glyph like he was going to make a run for it and save the hero. Oikawa raised a finger and used the wind to deflect the rock, giving the kid the most bored expression he could muster. The kid just gave him a vicious snarl in reply.

Cute, Oikawa thought to himself, he’s almost like an angry puppy.

“Kid, you do not get what this is about,” Oikawa sighed. Please, don’t try to be the hero, kid. They’re not all that great. “Just run on home to mommy and daddy or you might get hurt.” He increased the power in the lighting surrounding Glyph, earning another violent scream from the hero, who kicked out and thrashed.

Furious glare still in place, the kid picked up another rock, not backing down.

“Shit,” Oikawa cursed under his breath. “I really don’t wanna hurt a kid.” He made a decision and raised his voice, “Silver Fox! We got a problem!”

“Vortex,” Silver Fox addressed, suddenly appearing at his side. “I have maybe a minute before Crossvine and Horned Owl figure out that I’m the real one and the one they’re chasing now is a fake.” He turned his head to where Oikawa was pointing and tilted his head to the side, eyes glistening with mirth. His lips spread into a big grin and he said, “Kyoutani Kentarou? Glyph’s number one fan. How lucky.”

“Aww, Glyph, it seems like you’ve got a not-so-secret admirer,” Oikawa teased, making a crushing motion with his hands. The hero tensed as another violent burst of electricity ran through him. “Die now and maybe I’ll let the kid live.” An empty threat, really. Oikawa was going to let the kid live no matter what happened. He’d been a kid himself once, hopeful and loved heroes, but then everything in the world was turned upside down when one day the heroes didn’t come to the rescue. His life had been ruined by heroes.

“Let him go, you fucking villain!” the kid, Kyoutani, shouted at the top of his lungs. “Or I’ll—”

“Or you’ll what, kid?” Oikawa snarled. “If you had any powers, you would’ve used them by now. Just run home before you get hurt—” he extended his other hand, fingers lightning up and humming with power “—or worse.”

Most of Oikawa’s powers were based on concentration, so with Kyoutani Kentarou’s sudden and hostile approach, he was having to strain himself to keep the lightning surrounding and shocking Glyph at full power. However, it wasn’t enough and Glyph broke free, making their problem go from bad to worse. His entire body was glowing with a golden aura, something godlike, surging through him like fire. He was a beacon, a lighthouse, in Oikawa’s storm. He hadn’t gotten any weaker since the last time they’d met, like Oikawa would’ve liked, but it seemed like he’d only gotten stronger. The very sight of him with such power made Oikawa take a step back, eyes widening, in apprehension and then he cursed to himself for feeling suddenly timid. Silver Fox, upon seeing Glyph with newfound power, took the opportunity to split himself into more duplicates of himself and dart away from the scene.

“How do you like me now, Vortex?” Glyph challenged, grinning. Excitement coursed through Oikawa like a raging river. Taking down Glyph at the height of his power? Talk about a dream come true, the most delicious victory he could’ve ever imagined.

The hero summoned his cannons once again and fired six photon blasts in immedaite succession of each other, this time each blast was surrounded by electricity. Oikawa dodged them, left and right as they followed him like heat seeking missiles, also trying to steer the blasts away from Kyoutani. He chuckled to himself, “You clever bastard.” Whatever Glyph’s exact powers were, which Oikawa didn’t know, the hero was able to adapt them to absorb and then return powers that he was attacked by. Smart and fucking vexing, but it made for a more exciting battle.

However, Oikawa had some tricks up his sleeve as well. He no longer had to rely on the end of his strength and the rise of his anger to summon cyclones and tsunamis. He could create natural disasters with just the snap of his fingers. So, he did just that. He snapped his fingers, single, sharp sound that floated through the air, and the wind picked up violently. He could see, for the first time in what felt like a forever, a flicker of fear in Glyph’s eyes and Oikawa drank it in like fine wine. He flattened his palm against the pavement and watched it crack under his power. Simultaneously, an earthquake erupted under their feet and a tornado spiraled down, tugging and pulling on the buildings and trees surrounding them, like they were pieces of fabric.

“How do you like me now, Glyph?” Oikawa returned, mimicking the hero’s earlier jab.

“You’re going to wipe out the whole city!” Glyph shouted desperately, looking around and trying to formulate a plan.

“Not the whole city,” Oikawa defended with a saccharine smile, “just you and your two hero buddies.” He was about to do it too. He was going to use everything he had to finish off Glyph, but as he raised his hands power surging within him, a soft voice carried on the wind whispered in his ears. It made him stand still, horror freezing him in place like he his entire body had been turned to stone. He hadn’t heard that voice in years, not since he was a child.

Use me, child,” it hissed, like a serpent, trickery and malicious joy. “Use me and you can be what you’ve always wanted to be, Kyoutani. Use me.

Oikawa whirled around, only to get three bursts of photons slamming into him, blazing and burning into his jacket and back, searing into his skin, but he could only look at Kyoutani. He collapsed onto the ground, the shuddering of the earth ceasing and the tornado dissipating into dust, as he tried to get air back into his lungs. He saw black smoke unfurling like silk and hovering, its two eyes, burning red like embers were staring down at Kyoutani, who was trying to step back but was glancing at the hero and villain, conflicted.

“Kid, don’t do it!” Oikawa shouted at the top of his lungs. He coughed, the feeling wracking through him, like something was raking claws down his throat. He could feel Glyph’s piercing green eyes on him, shocked at what was happening, but at least he wasn’t firing anymore photon blasts. “Nothing good will come of listening to him! I’ve seen how it can ruin lives—” my family “—He wants you to trust him but you can’t, he’ll betray you no matter what he promises!”

Kyoutani looked at him and then the smoke shifted to block his view. “Don’t listen to them,” it murmured, soft as a song. “Don’t you want to show Glyph how capable you are? You want him to teach you to be as good a hero as he is, don’t you? You need to be powerful to do that, you know this. I can help you be great, just trust me and use me, Kyoutani.

“NO!” Oikawa sent a sudden current of lightning at the smoke. Bursts of blue and purple separated the smoke, keeping the head of the creature from getting into Kyoutani’s face. Oikawa was breathing heavily now, the pain rom Glyph’s attacks almost becoming too much to bear. “Get away from the kid!” he snarled at the monster.

You,” it mused. It left Kyoutani and surrounded Oikawa, the smoke filling his lungs, burning him into another fit of coughing and as he fought for clean air. “I remember you. A scared little boy with no control. You’ve grown into something fierce, but I have no use for someone who already knows my tricks. So, stay down, you little brat.” The smoke, which should hold no weight to it, slammed down onto Oikawa, knocking what little air he had out of him, the asphalt denting from the blow. He screamed and writhed to get out form under the crushing blow. He was shaking, knowing fully well that he was this close to having his ribs broken if they weren’t already.

There was a soft whirring in the distance and photon blasts managed to force the smoke off him. He looked up to see Glyph, body glowing with power, hair damp from the rain, the cannons lit up like he was a machine. “Why?” he asked, breathlessly, demanding. “You fucking hate me. I fucking hate you. You want me dead. I want you dead. So, why?”

“I don’t know what the fuck is going on,” Glyph replied, walking forward carefully and never taking his eyes off the coiling smoke and red eyes, “but I do know that I don’t want that thing anywhere near Kyoutani. He’s a good kid.” He raised his voice, directed at Kyoutani now, “Don’t make deals that sacrifice your morals, Kyoutani! If a fucking horrible villain like Vortex is scared—”

“I’m not scared! You’re scared!” Oikawa bit out venomously, very offended for the second time that night. Glyph really was detrimental to Oikawa’s ego.

“—of something like that thing, whatever it is! You shouldn’t listen to it, okay? Come over here and I’ll get you a ride with Horned Owl home!”

“I can help you, though, Glyph!” Kyoutani called out, his glare never faltered but Oikawa could see the faintest glimmer of admiration as Glyph approached him. “You know I want to be a hero and you keep saying I’m not ready! This is my chance! I can prove to you that I can help you defeat Vortex and other villains if I do this!”

The smoke swirled into nothing and then appeared as a wolf beside Kyoutani, matted black fur that shined like it was wet with blood and the hellish red eyes burned with hellish triumph, like it had won. “Yes, Kyoutani,” it growled, encouraging. “You can help him. Just trust in me.”

Kyoutani stared down at the wolf and then kept glancing back at Glyph, like he was having second thoughts. There was a determination there, something unyielding and steadfast, just like Glyph. The sight of it made Oikawa groan, and not just from the excruciating pain in his back. Fucking heroes, leading kids on. This is what happens when you give kids false hope that they can be just like you!

“Okay,” Kyoutani finally agreed, nodding his head, balling his fists. He looked like he was preparing to experience a whole new world of pain and he could only brace himself for it. “Do it.”

The smokey wold flicked its tail in annoyance. “I need to hear you say it. Say you trust me, Kyoutani.

With a final glance to Glyph, who was firing up more blasts after hearing his words a few seconds ago, Kyoutani said, “I trust you.”

DON'T!

The scream was ripped from Oikawa’s throat, raw and desperate. He scrambled to his feet and took off running towards Kyoutani, but he was too late. A red glow, volcanically hot and dim as an ember, overtook their vision. Strange symbols, like ancient runes, floated in the air and caged Kyoutani in as a raucous, psychotic laughter silenced everything. A fiery wolf head rearing its ugly head, soaring high into the air and nose diving and swallowing Kyoutani whole. Glyph fired his shots but they weren’t fast enough or powerful enough to pierce the red veil now surrounding Kyoutani.

They were too late.

“Why didn’t you shoot earlier?” Oikawa demanded fiercely. He could tell by sight and feel that there was no way he or Glyph could get close enough to help Kyoutani. All they could do was wait and hope they could help him once the possession over. He faced Glyph with the most terrifying glare he could conjure up through the pain. Why didn’t you save him? Why didn’t you try? If I had to trust a hero to save someone, it would be you, so why didn’t you do something? “You could’ve saved him and you didn’t—”

“I would’ve hit Kyoutani if I fired earlier!” Glyph snapped back, narrowing his eyes dangerously but, surprisingly, letting Oikawa get back on his feet. He looked like he wanted to help but was letting his hatred win out, Oikawa didn’t blame him. He didn’t want Glyph’s help, especially when the hero’s hands were literally canons that were used time and time again to blast him into smithereens. “And shut the fuck up with that whole I suddenly have a moral backbone shit. You don’t give a damn about that kid, just like you don’t give a damn about anyone in this city and that’s why you nearly blew it away!”

“Oh, that’s fucking rich coming from a hero that can’t even save one kid. One shot and you could’ve delayed this from happening. Do you even care about the kid?” Oikawa fired back, getting right in Glyph’s face despite his bones screaming at him to stay down rather than start another fight. The hero looked completely taken aback, like Oikawa had slapped him across the face. “Don’t pretend you know my motives, hero. Don’t pretend you know me! You could’ve saved him, you didn’t, and now you have to deal with something ten times worse than myself and Silver Fox. How ready are you to face those consequences, Glyph?”

Glyph pushed him away, looking very much like he wished he was pushing Oikawa off a cliff. “Shut the fuck up, Vortex! Don’t you think you can lecture me, you hurt people for a living!” He was then promptly shoved to the ground as well, as a pulse of red emanated from Kyoutani, hitting Glyph square in the chest. He fell right next to Oikawa, which was too close for comfort, so Oikawa kicked him until Glyph rolled away, equally disgusted by their proximity.

“Are you two confused here or something?” Silver Fox reappeared at Oikawa’s side, hands on his hips and leaning down to smile at the both, so very crooked. “Kyoutani’s new demon-loving-phase doesn’t change anything. Go back to trying to kill each other. That was so much more entertaining than watching you two argue like a couple about to file for a divorce.”

Oikawa wasn’t listening, though, his attention drawn back to where Kyoutani was being engulfed by a tall, wide tower of inky smoke. It constricted around him, like a python, growing tighter and tighter until they couldn’t hear Kyoutani shouting against the force. Then suddenly the smoke melted away, and there was no Kyoutani anymore, only a wolf the size of a building. Black fur, matted, and tufts of grey swirled around him like decay, and his raging, red eyes were locked onto Oikawa and Glyph, the buildings nearby catching fire by simply being in proximity. Slowly, ears down, he began to stalk towards them, like a predator on the hunt. His maw was open in a hungry snarl, revealing large, vicious canines, dripping saliva like venom from a snake’s fangs.

“Well, fuck me, I was not expecting this,” Silver Fox muttered under his breath. He clapped his hands together and the similarly mischievous duplicates of himself vanished in an instant, sucked back into the original. “Well, I suppose we have to deal with this now, don’t we? Who is this newer friend, Vortex?”

“Fenrir,” Oikawa breathed out, hands trembling. He clenched them into fists, his nails digging into the soft skin of his palms until he felt a warm trickle of blood running down the side of his hands. “The wolf demon. His form depends on who he possesses. I’ve only seen him possess a person once and it didn’t turn out like this. The person was more—” a face he thought he could trust flashed before his eyes, a bad memory “—human, not full on wolfy.”

“Figures someone like you would have devil like this as your buddy,” Glyph snipped.

“Excuse you, Glyph. I am not affiliated with that monster!” Oikawa gestured wildly to the approaching wolf. Honestly, it was a sight of nightmares. Smog rolling off the fur and making the air harder to breath, the giant footsteps leaving dents in the pavement. It was huge and would probably eat them, if they weren’t lucky. “Who in their right mind would be? I’m not stupid and I certainly don’t have a fucking death wish! If I’m not mistaken, that kid was calling after you, not me!”

The other two heroes arrived, flanking either side of Glyph. Crossvine and Horned Owl. They looked to him, waiting for orders. It made Oikawa want to roll his eyes. Could most heroes just not think for themselves? Seriously, individuality, people.

“What’s the priority, Glyph?” Crossvine asked, rising a hand as vines started to crawl their way out from the cracks in the asphalt, wiggling their way towards the villains’ legs to snag them up when Glyph gave the order. “The big, evil puppy or two of the most wanted villains in the world?” He was giving them a very good unimpressed look that nearly got Oikawa’s appreciation with how unamused it was, but Crossvine was a hero so fuck him.

“I want to fight the wolf,” Horned Owl put in his two cents. “It looks very punchable! Plus, it’s the bigger threat here and is crushing buildings as it’s walking towards us—Hold on, why are we all standing in its path anyway? This doesn’t seem smart.”

Because your leader here has to do his epic hero stand off with the wolf-boy before he goes into action, Oikawa thought to himself. It’s a very movie hero thing to do.

“Kyoutani’s the wolf. He’s a civilian and a kid, we help him before we deal with those two,” Glyph replied, assuming role as their leader. His voice was lower, thoughtful and yet controlled. If he were anybody else, Oikawa would’ve asked if he was into dirty talking because he would be insanely good at it. “We gotta find a way to change Kyoutani back now before this gets out of hand.”

“So nice of you to sacrifice yourself,” Silver fox cooed, giving the heroes a slow clap. He gave them a low bow before turning his heels to his best friend, asking, “Shall we make our timely exit, Vortex?”

Oikawa nodded, looking past him to wink at Glyph who returned the sentiment by flipping him off. After taking Silver Fox by the hand, he summoned the wind currents to sweep them into the air, safely out of the reach of Crossvine’s grasping vines. He felt safer up in the air, the farther from that wolf and that ragtag pack of heroes the better.

With his other hand he sent a small burst of lightning to zap Glyph’s ass, catching him off guard and making him shout.

“Later, losers! Have fun dying the worst kind of death!” Oikawa shouted gleefully, when the hero turned to shoot at him again after that little jab. However, he didn’t get a chance to enjoy the hero’s anger directed towards him because a blast of fire knocked him and Silver Fox out of the sky, coming from the wolf still leisurely, menacingly making its way towards them. Now, as it was moving, nearby building were crumbling from the shaking or being set on fire as its fur brushed against them.

Crossvine and Horned Owl dissolved into fits of laughter, pointing at them like five-year-olds at the sight of Silver Fox and Vortex crashed back down to earth.

“Oh, for fucks sake, really?” Oikawa shouted accusingly at Kyoutani.

“Ha!” Glyph laughed in his face, leaning down to get in his face since Oikawa had fallen right on his ass. “Looks like you’re not going anywhere.”

“You’re so mean to me, Glyph,” Oikawa whined, getting back onto his feet with no help, but stumbling like he might fall over at any moment. “That hottie Iwaizumi wouldn’t treat me like this,” he added mostly to himself, badly audible.

“What was that?” Glyph demanded.

“I said your face makes me wanna throw up!” Oikawa screeched right back at him.

It’s not like it really mattered if they heard him talking about the fine as hell, buff tattoo artist just down the street from his bakery. Odds are, none of them knew who he was, but discretion was still something to keep up. He still needed to tell Silver Fox everything he knew about the dreamy guy, and complain about how he was probably only going to be able to miserably drool over him from afar. Those arms . . . so taut with muscle, covered in so many tattoos that he was like a masterpiece.

Another burst of flame from the wolf’s maw broke him from his reverie of making out with Iwaizumi just in time for him to raise his hands and form a field of circulating winds strong enough to douse the fire. Glyph looked on, a tad impressed, given that Oikawa had done that with just one hand, throughly drained and damaged.

“I thought I outran this,” Oikawa said, back in the present and looking at the wolf. His feet felt like they were rooted to the spot, fear being the only thing he could feel now. He honestly thought he had left the remnants of his childhood far behind him, but it seemed that his demons liked to try and catch up with him. He wanted to run again, run until his legs gave out from under him.

“What are you scared?” Crossvine asked teasingly.

“Yeah,” Oikawa immediately replied without thinking. He then avoided all the eyes suddenly on him. Only Silver Fox seemed to understand, giving him a sympathetic nod. Oikawa did not want to seem this weak, especially in front of Glyph of all people. Heroes don’t get to see him weak, they only get to see him as something that could crush them into dust.

“Oh,” Glyph said intelligently.

“Oh shit,” Horned Owl agreed, big eyes wide in surprise. He nodded at nothing in particular, trying to take in Oikawa’s response. “Well that’s not a good sign that any of this is going to end in our favor. The villain that gives our top hero here the biggest problems is scared of that thing?” He pointed at the wolf, “Are we gonna die today because a kid transformed into the scariest guard dog of all time?”

“Not me, thankfully,” Silver Fox cut in before anyone else could reply. “Vortex, we’re leaving. Now, please.”

“You got it,” Oikawa replied, “but I’ll leave it something to play with first.” He wanted to run, but he also wanted to stay and . . . do something, anything, but he didn’t know what. The only reason Fenrir died the last time Oikawa encountered him was because of an accident.

So, he snapped his fingers again, for the last time this fight, and a roaring thunder shook the sky above them. Oikawa might’ve been heavily damaged from that single blast of Glyph’s but he was far from being tapped out of power. A tornado, similar to one from earlier, descended and attacked the wolf. The wolf snapped angrily at the storm, and that’s when the heroes charged in. Glyph summoned his flimsy, golden, celestial wings, blasting away with his cannons, Crossvine used the various trees around the buildings to wrap around the wolf’s feet to try and hold it in place, and Horned Owl swooped in, shooting beams of sunlight into the red eyes.

And with the wolf distracted by the heroes and the tornado, the two villains made their escape, making sure to collect the stolen jewelry to so the night wasn’t a total disaster.

* * * * * *

“Last night, reports flooded in of a terrifying wolf creature terrorizing the streets of Taitō. No one knows where it came from or why it’s here. The well known heroes Glyph, Crossvine, and Horned Owl managed to fight and force the creature into retreat but its current whereabouts are unknown to heroes and authorities alike. The two villains by the names of Vortex and Silver Fox were reported to have fled the scene when the monster appeared, seemingly abandoning our beloved heroes to certain death. So, it begs the question, Tokyo, were supervillains only the beginning evils in our strange world? And is this the beginning of a bigger fight between the forces of good and evil?”

“Scary, isn’t it?” Iwaizumi jolted and nearly lost his footing at the sound of Sugawara’s voice in his ear.

He had been so busy staring down at his phone while he waited in line at Blue Bakery. Last night had been one hell of a night, and not in a good way, so he figured he could treat himself to Oikawa’s generous offer of discounted cream puffs. So, here he was, waiting behind a line of excited girls and hungry guys all hoping to get a peek at the attractive owner making sweets before their very eyes. He expected to see maybe Hanamaki, Matsukawa’s flowery boyfriend, here given that the florist’s shop was nearby, but Iwaizumi had not expected to see Sugawara here. It was a major detour from the university.

“Yeah,” Iwaizumi agreed, finally agreeing with Sugawara once he recognized him. “Scary. How’s Sawamura handling the press?”

“He’s doing the best he can, given the circumstances,” Suga replied, letting a small, humorless laugh slip. “I worry I won’t get that date as soon as I was hoping.” He peeked over Iwaizumi’s shoulder to see a clip of Sawamura giving a public statement as to how civilians should remain safe and smiled softly. “Anyway, what are you doing here? You don’t like sweets.”

“No, but I’m giving the owner of the place a tattoo. He promised me discounted cream puffs and after last night, I have a craving to eat my stress away,” Iwaizumi replied, pocketing his phone so Suga wouldn’t keep checking out of worry. Sure, he should be eating healthy with how many fights were just around the corner, but there was no harm in one or two cheat days after a night like that. “What about you? This is a long way from your lectures.”

“I know the owner too,” he nodded. He smiled and laughed to himself like he was remembering a better time. “Oikawa and I go way back, grew up together in Izu. My schedule’s finally cleared up enough so I can officially congratulate him on opening Blue Bakery. It’s been his dream ever since he baked his first cake for my birthday in our third year of high school. It was a mess but tasted like you wouldn’t believe. Chocolate cake with a honey and habanero frosting, sweet and super spicy, just how I like it.”

“Honey, habanero, and chocolate?” Iwaizumi asked, raising an eyebrow in disbelief. “Sounds like something contestants on an insane baking show come up with when they’re force to pair ingredients.”

“It was literally orgasmic, and I will fight anyone who says anything bad about it,” Suga snapped back, very defensive.

Iwaizumi held up his hands in surrender, chuckling lowly. Suga and his temper were not a couple to be trifled with. “Sorry,” he said, “but I’m kind picky when it comes to sweet things.“

“And what about me?” a lilting voice suddenly whispered in his ear. “Am I the right kind of sweet you like, Iwaizumi?”

Iwaizumi jumped for the second time today. Legendary hero, right here, getting scared of abrupt voices. He whirled around to see Oikawa Tooru, dressed in jeans, a pastel blue shirt that read Alter Ego, a turquoise apron, and comfortable sandals. His maple eyes swirled with delightful mischief and his smirk sent a chill up Iwaizumi’s spine. Part of him felt like punching Oikawa in the face, solely because it seemed like Oikawa knew exactly how to push his buttons and make him stumble. They hardly knew each other, this being only their second meeting, but Oikawa had an effect on him, something very real, and something that Iwaizumi didn’t really want to say no to.

“Hey,” he managed to say, trying to keep the flush from crawling up his neck. Oikawa’s eyes twinkled, and he exchanged a knowing look with Suga just behind Iwaizumi. Gods, his eyes were so pretty, swirls of a deep brown with flecks of soft gold like stray stars in a galaxy. “Uh, so I’m here to collect those discounted cream puffs you promised me. Your offer still stand?”

“Naturally,” Oikawa replied, turning around and walking behind the counter, tapping the cashier on the back, and sending him to another part of the counters to continue filling cream puffs and cakes. The kid’s name tag read Yahaba. “I always keep my promises, especially to hot tattoo artists.”

“So, you think I’m hot?” Iwaizumi attempted to tease, his lips quirking up ever so slightly but Oikawa definitely caught it. He could vaguely see Suga out of the corner of his eye, grinning wildly as he watched their exchange. Knowing the researcher, he was probably already planning their wedding in his head.

“I’m sorry, did I stutter?” Oikawa asked innocently, leaning over the counter and batting his long, coppery lashes flirtatiously. His face was flushed red but he was still maintaining his composure, but, on the inside, he must be freaking out as much as Iwaizumi is. “I think you’re really fucking really hot. Hear me better that time, Iwa-chan?”

Oh fuck, Iwaizumi thought delightfully miserable.

He was weak at the knees, attempting to keep a straight face and not grab that attractive face and seal their lips together. Oikawa had taken a deep breath, face flushed a whole new shade of red and then turning away to hurriedly gather some cream puffs in a to-go box for Iwaizumi, smiling stupidly cute. It was . . . endearing and it was, somehow, insanely comforting to know Oikawa was just as much of a mess around Iwaizumi as he felt around the baker. Iwaizumi could barely manage to get a full sentence out, didn’t even dare to flirt because what can you say to someone that cute? Part of him knew that this was just part of what Bokuto and Matsukawa liked to call the Attractive Stranger Phenomenon.

A stranger is much more alluring because they’re a stranger, there’s no messy emotions, it’s just simple attraction, being drawn to how handsome or beautiful they are, no disagreements and only fantasies. Nothing more, nothing less. Oikawa was a someone he would see maybe one more time, when he gave him the tattoo, before they essentially forgot about each other and they faded into daydreams about each other.

The Attractive Stranger Phenomenon.

Chapter Text

Say, for example, that one of the greatest kaiju of all time, Godzilla, was a real beast and that you somehow acquired it as your new pet. As most things start off, it’s a little rocky because, well, it’s Godzilla and you have no idea how to take care of such a legendary, destructive creature. What do you feed it? Cars? People need those. Puppies and kitties? No, because people love those. Babies? Well, now you’re just a murderer and you’re wanted by the authorities. So, because you don’t know how to handle this whole weird situation, it spirals out of control, naturally. Now, there’s a giant kaiju running amok Tokyo, burning and blasting everything to the ground because you don’t know what to do, and all you can do now is plug in your headphones and listen to the Blue Oyster Cult because their music has never been more fitting.

This is, somehow, a fitting analogy of how Iwaizumi saw this whole Kyoutani/Hell-Wolf-Thing situation. There had been no progress, the press finally seeing it timely to nickname Kyoutani as Hellhound (“Why couldn’t Thanos snap this thing away too?” had become a popular post online). Heroes had arrived from all over, trying their hand at taking down the wolf, but so far none had succeeded and even lead to some tragic deaths. Mostly, they were all doing their best to keep civilian casualties at a low number, but this meant an exchange. Crime rates were were through the roof.

More armed robberies were occurring while the Hellhound wrought destruction in a certain part of Tokyo, and thus since all attention was diverted into trying to tie the beast down, villains and petty criminals were taking the opportunity to take what they could.

This had all started out as one problem: Silver Fox and Vortex teaming up to stir up and now it was out of control. There was hardly one place to find peace aside from sleep, but even that was rare. Iwaizumi was on his feet almost twenty-four seven, helping citizens evacuate from areas the Hellhound was appearing and tearing into, or he was stopping villains. He could count his luck, though, as both Vortex and Silver Fox had yet to make another appearance. There was that reassurance anyway.

Still, Iwaizumi was tired now, after a solid, long month of work and hero duties

Oikawa Tooru had come in and gotten his tattoo done, making short, sweet conversation that Iwaizumi hadn’t exactly known how to interpret. Was it just playfully flirty? Was he actually looking for a date with Iwaizumi? Iwaizumi didn’t know, so he’d just done his job and been done with it, he was too busy for a love life anyway. The cream puffs were long gone too, and there had been no reappearance of Oikawa Tooru since, aside from when Iwaizumi would be riding his motorcycle home and glimpsed the baker cleaning the counters of his bakery or finishing up a big project, molding modeling chocolate like clay under his fingers and into beautiful creations.

Iwaizumi was resting his chin in his hands, leaning against the front counter, barely listening to the Nujabes playing off his the computer from Spotify. His eyes were heavy with sleepiness. Last night had been another late night. He and Matsukawa had fought until they collapsed, holding back Hellhound from gaining more ground while Bokuto put of the fires that sprang up from the very presence of the wolf. However, they couldn’t stop it from latching its teeth into a glass building and flinging it around like a toy and bounding after it, trampling trees and houses underfoot like ants.

Iwaizumi and the others had reached a horrible conclusion: that they couldn’t save Kyoutani, that he had been lost since the wolf took over his body. So, since that decision, the military had been called in, along with some big name heroes. Still no dent in taking down Hellhound, and the frustration was taking its toll on everyone. Matsukawa was getting nasty from getting no time to see his boyfriend, Bokuto hated feeling like they were failing so his mood swings were more lasting than usual, and Iwaizumi was perpetually ill-tempered, but for the others’ sake he was trying to maintain control. . .

But every time he closed his eyes, he could hear Vortex’s broken scream and see how hopelessly he’d shaken when Kyoutani had been claimed by the wolf. It plagued him with unwanted thoughts. There was a sort of moral glass wall that Iwaizumi put up so he could fight villains, so he wouldn’t ever feel bad about causing drastic, physical damage to another human. Villains cackled when someone was hurt, reveled in chaos and the destruction of others, not like Iwaizumi, where on his side, they cried and fell into despair when someone was hurt. However, Vortex had just smashed that glass wall into shards and stepped into where the wall used to be. Nothing was simply black and white anymore, it was grey, and Iwaizumi was having trouble regaining his unwavering, moral stance.

His thoughts were broken by the ringing of his cell phone, which he barely registered. It wasn’t until Nishinoya threw an empty cup at him that he “woke up” and answered his phone, not even looking to see who it was. He mumbled an incoherent hello into the speaker.

“Iwaizumi!” Bokuto’s loud, cheerful voice blasted into his ear drums, and probably deafened him. In all honesty, Bokuto had a deep voice but he was often so boisterous and confident that you didn’t have a chance to register it. “Sawamura wants to see us at the station immediately! He says that he’s found a good lead on how to defeat and save Hellhound—I mean, Kyoutani!”

“Can’t it wait?” Iwaizumi asked rhetorically, his words slurring like he was drunk but really he was just tired. “I’m working.” And that wasn’t a total lie. If working meant dosing off in awkward places or staring down at a simple drawing of a carnation that Oikawa had looked at like it was the Mona Lisa, all while having a moral breakdown. So, yeah . . . “working.”

“Sawamura says it’s urgent, so if you can, you should try and show up. Plus, it’s good news, don’t you think we deserve to hear some after all this time?” Bokuto replied. He sounded excited, which he should be. If there was really a breakthrough, they needed to follow through on it. “If you want, I can pick you up and you can sleep in the backseat?”

“No, no,” Iwaizumi sighed, righting himself to stand up straight. He felt the cracks of his muscles popping back into alignment as he stretched out of his slouch. “My parlor is too far out of the way from your route to the station. I’ll get there myself.”

“What if you’re too tired?” Bokuto pressed urgently. “What if you die because you fall asleep on your motorcycle, Iwaizumi?”

“That was never a worry . . . until now, but I’ll be fine, Bokuto. Thanks,” he reassured. He could practically feel his employees staring at him, concern from Asahi and disbelief from Tanaka and Nishinoya. “Drive safely yourself. You’re just as tired as I am, okay?”

“You got it, boss!” He could almost see Bokuto saluting and he smiled, hanging up.

“You’re seriously heading out again?” Tanaka asked as Iwaizumi, stiffly, moved to put on his leather jacket and gather his helmet. “What is it this time? Hospital? Orphanage? What did Hellhound hit this time?”

“Or is it Vortex?” Asahi asked in a small voice. He was a big tall, tall with broad shoulders. He hadn’t let himself get out of shape even after he left hero work, so he was still in shape. If you didn’t know him, he could look big and intimidating to people who didn’t know him, but really he was a big softie and kind hearted.

Nishinoya, his boyfriend, on the other hand, was short, thin and full of energy. He stared at Iwaizumi, big eyes readied to narrow if Iwaizumi so much as confirmed Asahi’s guess. He rose to his feet and crossed his arms over his chest. “If it is, I’ll be ready to knock him into a another dimension for that he did!” he practically shouted, as if Vortex was here and he was challenging him. “Ryuu and I will make the fucker pay someday!”

Tanaka shouted and jumped to his feet. “I’ll always have your back, Noya!”

“Thank you, Ryuu!” Nishinoya turned to his boyfriend and rested a hand on Asahi’s shoulders, firmly, and gave it a reassuring squeeze. “Don’t worry, Asahi, I’ll always protect you!”

“It’s not Vortex,” Iwaizumi said, raising his hands in an attempt to placate them. “Captain Sawamura is just calling me in to go over some new information about how we could defeat Kyoutani’s wolf form. So, don’t worry, Asahi, and you two—” he looked at Tanaka and Nishinoya “—you both know I would have already killed Vortex by the time you got there.”

“Hey! Don’t underestimate me, Iwaizumi!” Tanaka objected in his ever loud manner. He did not like his toughness being questioned, which Iwaizumi wasn’t, not exactly anyway. “I may be rusty but I can still kick twice as much as ass as any hero here in Tokyo! I was called The Beast for a reason!”

“And I was Rolling Thunder!” Noya exclaimed, doing a somersault for emphasis, his body crackling with energy. That would’ve started Iwaizumi, but he had seen the former hero do it so many times now that it had become a normal occurrence.

“Well, there’s no need for either of you to come out of retirement, so chill,” Iwaizumi said, raising his voice just a notch. He sent a sympathetic glance to Asahi who was glancing nervously at Nishinoya. He was the only one who could wield Nishinoya, so without him, the rambunctious weapon wouldn’t be fighting anything. And Asahi was not anywhere close to fighting condition. Vortex had messed him up bad. “I have a feeling, based off something Vortex said in our last encounter, that he’s going to lie low while Kyoutani is in that monster’s clutches. He’s not reappearing for a long time again, I think,” he continued, an attempt to reassure his employee.

And after that, it wasn’t that long before Iwaizumi was driving down the street on his motorcycle. He spared a glimpse at the Blue Bakery. There was a long line, as usual, people bouncing anxiously on the balls of their feet, trying to get a glimpse inside. Oikawa walked out holding stray filled with goodies covered in powdered sugar, giving his apologies to those that had been waiting for a long time and started handing out a few treats with a big smile. He was leaving for his lunch break, he was always took this time to grab a smoothie at the froyo shop just down the street, but he was promising them all that they would be taken care of. Iwaizumi was (nearly) distracted by him, nearly hit a parked car as he stared. That guy was too attractive for anyone’s safety, especially in the bright sunlight that made his maple hair shine.

Attractive Stranger Phenomenon. Nothing more, but Iwaizumi had to constantly remind himself of that. Oikawa was attractive because Iwaizumi knew nothing about him yet, didn’t know his faults and bad traits, only saw his shiny, perfect exterior.

The drive to the Tokyo Police Station wasn’t that bad. For the time of day, the traffic was slow, which allowed Iwaizumi the time to think. Tokyo was a good place, and he wanted to protect it. The city where you could enjoy a faded pink sunset on the roof of an apartment building, a world of neon lights at night, and it seemed to breathe with life all on its own. However, with recent times, with the appearance of Hellhound, most of the city was on the verge of crumbling like it was ancient. Towering structures were like dominoes, falling easily to the slightest push from the monster, and the little shops that people had gone tp since they were little, little konbinis that had only held on by customer loyalty, were crushed and gone.

It meant change, unwanted and forced. Iwaizumi didn’t like change, prided himself often being the one to push back against it. He knew what he knew, and he didn’t like it when it came into question. This is what bothered him about Vortex. He thought he’d had Vortex all figured out, but maybe he didn’t and that was unsettling in the worst way possible. Maybe he had to change his perception of the villain. . . ? Oh no. No, no, no, nope. That wasn’t happening. Vortex was still bastard, an asshole through and through.

Right?

In any case, it was back to things that were more familiar to him, the small bump into the police department parking lot, turning easily into his favorite parking space. He happened to spare a glance to the side, mildly surprised to see that Suga wasn’t here. That was definitely odd, given how stressed yet excited the researcher had been over the appearance and powers of Kyoutani’s wolf state. If there was new information found, he would’ve guessed it came from Suga, or that if it wasn’t, that Suga would do everything thing in his power to be here.

Huh. Maybe he was on his way, or being held up by faculty meetings.

Iwaizumi walked inside, determined to head straight to the hero briefing room, but he was waved over by an excitable ginger. Hinata Shouyou was new around here, still in training to become a hero but had the determination to complete just about any task given to him. Now, if only he wasn’t so impulsive, then he’d be golden.

“Glyph! Captain Sawamura wants you in your hero costume for the briefing!” Hinata essentially shouted, eyes overwhelmingly glistening with delight.

He was sitting over by the department analyst, Kozume Kenma, who also happened to be dating the hero-in-training. Iwaizumi had been surprised by the reveal that they were together, but he never saw someone Kenma was more comfortable being around than Hinata. So, they fit and they were cute together. Opposites attract.

“You’re not gonna like it in there,” Kenma murmured softly as Iwaizumi passed them by, waving to them. The hero raised an eyebrow at him, but the analyst just shrugged in reply, giving him a blank expression. Kenma had always been a good at controlling his expressions so as to never give anything away, which was not helpful in this situation.

Alright, so two weird things already. 1) Suga’s not here, and 2) Kenma being cryptic. Once he became Glyph, everything would be fine. Once he put on his brown coat, his tattoos hidden from view, and that black streak across his eyes, he would feel invincible. Iwaizumi loved being Glyph. He wasn’t a hugely popular hero, but he still did good and that was all that mattered to him. He was never after glory, he just wanted to help people. Iwaizumi made his way to the briefing room, passing by the call center, seeing several cops and detectives alike, panicking and sending out cars as fast as they could. Tokyo was a mess right now and that just had his determination to save all the more stronger.

The very minute Iwaizumi walked into the briefing room, halfway through an informal greeting his fellow heroes might’ve found funny, he was hit with an overwhelming sense of apprehension. When he lifted his eyes, he found a storm, a distant scent of rainfall and calamity, a hurricane. Every nerve within him began to sizzle with his power like he was a furnace running on pure, unadulterated loathing. The tattoos running up his arm in a machinery like pattern of wires and cogs burned him, and he could feel the bones of his arms just under the smooth, breakable surface of his skin rearranging in a painful hurry to create the heated steel of his cannons. As soon as they they were formed, he immediately pointed them at his enemy. Pressing the muzzles against the head, the blasts building up and giving off a faint whirring sound like they was powering up as he prepared to fire.

Unable to contain himself, Iwaizumi shouted, at the top of his lungs, “What the hell are you doing here?!”

Vortex glanced over his shoulder, smirking lazily and batting his eyelashes oh so innocently, like he didn’t have deadly weaponry shoved against him at that moment. Dressed in his usual attire and that damned bomber jacket, he was sitting back and making himself perfectly comfortable in Iwaizumi’s usual seat, his feet propped up on and table and arms folded behind his head as a makeshift cushion (but it just made him look like more of an asshole, really).

“I’m the answer to your little prayers,” he drawled out, almost seductively, purely to mock him. He might’ve been smiling but Iwaizumi could clearly see murder in his eyes, a desire to rip Iwaizumi apart until he was nothing but a shell. “Aren’t I everything you want and more, Glyph?”

“I would rather cut off my own dick.”

“I can help with that,” Vortex promised, all false cheer and mockery aside, raising an eyebrow behind his mask. “I love a good comedy, and watching you chop off your own limbs and muscles would be hilarious.”

In a last ditch effort to understand the situation, Iwaizumi turned to look for his fellow heroes. He found them, sitting in their usual seats, glaring daggers and shouting accusations at . . . Silver Fox? Okay, what was happening here. He glanced at Sawamura who was saying something, but Iwaizumi was barely registering it, too blinded by his own confusion. Villains? In a police department? That weren’t under arrest? Iwaizumi knew that Tokyo had essentially turned upside down because of the appearance of Hellhound but this was fucking ridiculous.

“Daichi!” Iwaizumi snarled, effectively silencing the room. Matsukawa and Bokuto turned to see him and both looked relieved by his presence and concerned, seeing as how he was currently pointing his extremely powerful photon cannon arms at Vortex, in the room they were all in, which meant they would all probably die if Iwaizumi let any blasts of light fly. “You have three minutes to explain to what the fuck is going and why the fuck it’s going on, starting now.”

“We have information,” Silver Fox said before Daichi could even get a word in. He stood up from his chair and walked forward, all confidence and calculation. “More specifically, your mortal enemy and my good friend here has vital information that could help you with your stray puppy troubles.”

Silver Fox, much like Vortex but also very different from Vortex, didn’t dress like your typical villain. While Vortex dressed almost casually stylish, Silver Fox dressed all in fancy silver clothes, like he was going to the richest dinner party in the world. A unblemished white dress shirt that looked like it had actual diamonds for buttons (they were probably diamonds he stole), a long, silver overcoat, a silver bowtie made of satin, fancy shoes that looked like they were made for tap dancing, not robbing banks and jewelry stores on a daily basis, and finally an ostentatious silver butterfly mask. If you didn’t no any better and looked at him, you might just think he was a very modern angel, but he had a wickedly sharp tongue and a temper to match.

Iwaizumi didn’t trust him one bit, and one look at Matsukawa and Bokuto made it clear that they didn’t trust him either. This was obviously a ploy, a way tot get what they wanted by clearly lying.

“Daichi,” Iwaizumi said, finally, lowering his hands, powering down his cannons and and letting his hands return to normal. “You can’t seriously believe them, can you? We’ve been chasing Silver Fox for two years now and he’s proven that he’s nothing but crafty and manipulative, and then there’s this son of a bitch—” he pointed at Vortex accusingly, who gave friendly wave to the police chief “—he’s leveled city’s, destroyed heroes, homes, and innocents. What makes you think we can trust them?”

“You take that back!” Vortex snarled, head-butting Iwaizumi and sending harsh vibrations of pain throughout the hero’s skull. “I have never hurt civilians! That’s all on you heroes! I have never and will never raise a hand against an innocent. They haven’t fucked up like you heroes do on a regular basis! You cause more damage than people you save!”

Now that was a slap to the face. Iwaizumi gritted his teeth and raised his hand to use the cannons the hit Vortex, but—

“Now, now,” Sawamura started authoritatively, giving Iwaizumi a stern look. Iwaizumi stepped away from from Vortex, holding his hands up as if in a begrudging surrender. Whether he liked it or not, Sawamura was in charge of him and Iwaizumi was hired to follow the chief’s orders. “We all want the same thing here: for Hellhound to go away and for Kyoutani to be safe, right? If there’s a compromise we need to make to ensure his safety and the safety of Tokyo, I’m prepared to make it.”

“They’re villains,” Bokuto insisted persistently, stomping his foot down with a powerful thump. “You know, bad guys? Worst of the worst and all that jazz?” He did jazz hands for emphasis, his golden eyes big and eyeing Sawamura with frustration.

“Villains with the information you need,” Vortex smiled smugly, crossing his arms over his chest. He looked them all over with that disgusting, superior grin on his face that made Iwaizumi want to punch him square in the jaw, and maybe permanently disassemble his face. “I am going to savor this for years to come. Just how does it feel to be so hopeless and clueless that you have to rely on a villain for help?”

“For a while, I’ve wondered what poor soul was stuck with you in a relationship, but I’m willing to bet so much that you’re desperately single,” Iwaizumi shot back venomously. “I bet under that mask your face is just as ugly as your shitty personality.”

“I am beautiful!” Vortex exclaimed.

“He is!” Silver Fox defended. He looked at Sawamura and winked, ”And so am I.”

“Glyph, Horned Owl, Silver Fox, Vortex, all of you please sit down so we can talk this out as peacefully as possible,” Sawamura interrupted abruptly, his impatience flaring up and face flushing red. He slammed his hand down on the wooden meeting table and gave them a glare that commanded respect. “That was the agreement, that this was going to be as peaceful as possible and I’m not going to let this turn bloody. Understand?”

Silver Fox gave a nod of his head, smiling softer than any of the heroes thought was possible . . . which was so unsettling. What kind of nightmare did Iwaizumi walk into? He sat down and Vortex took the seat next to him, roughly bumping his shoulder into Iwaizumi’s as he passed him. And thus, this is how Iwaizumi got stuck with the squeaky chair that no one except Bokuto liked to sit in. It was hard on his ass, squealed at the slightest of movements, and had no arms to rest against. Seriously, fuck villains, even when it’s just petty gestures, it feels like a major crime targeted against Iwaizumi.

“So, the agreement,” Sawamura started, holding up and two files and two pieces of paper. Two of them were labeled with the villain’s names across the front and a third, which presumably was a contract to be signed in the near future. Paperwork. How fun. “This is all the information gathered by Sugawara Koushi on you two, and these—” he held up the last two papers “—are the Immunity Contracts.”

“What?! You can’t be serious!” Iwaizumi’s eyes darted around the room, seeing Silver Fox and Vortex smirking triumphantly and his fellow heroes looking just as lost as he felt. He felt like he’d just been dealt and unfair hand in a game of poker. There was no way eh could win, but part of him just wasn’t willing to accept that he’d lost like this. Not after all his won and lost battles against Silver Fox, all the times he’d felt dumb and broken after fighting Vortex only for it to end like this. He’d never gotten a solid win against his nemesis, and he couldn’t stand the thought of never fighting him again and seizing the opportunity to win.

“Sawamura, you can’t grant them Immunity!”

“Yes, I can, actually, Glyph. I’m the police chief. In exchange for their information, aid in battle against the Hellhound, and their retirement from villainy, Silver Fox and Vortex have both requested Immunity Contracts,” Sawamura explained as calmly as possible. He clearly didn’t like this either, have more than one unpleasant run-ins with Silver Fox. However, as the leader int he room, he couldn’t let Iwaizumi continue with his outraged outbursts. So with a frightening look the villains knew all too well (and Silver Fox seemed to grow excited at the sight of), he quieted Iwaizumi down.

He continued on, “They will no longer be pursued by heroes and law enforcement, their red ledgers completely wiped clean and green, as long as they vow to hang up their masks for the rest of their lives. A return to villainy will result in immediate extermination, no trial, just an execution on sight. These contracts will go into effect the minute Hellhound is defeated and Kyoutani is safely out of harms way. You, Glyph, are not to disobey the contracts, because if you do, it will result in your hero license being revoked and you will become a vigilante, i.e. I will have to bring you in and arrest you. I don’t want to do that because you’re a good hero. So, I know none of you like this, but this is what’s going to happen.”

Iwaizumi fell back in his seat, hollow, as he ground his teeth and gun his nails into his forearm, drawing just the finest dots of blood. He had to control himself, but he kept thinking of Asahi and Nishinoya when they returned from their fight against Vortex, battered and in a coma that no one had know if they would wake up from. He glanced up to see Vortex slip in a grin, victorious, as his eyes hurricane eyes sparkled with mirth, enjoying and saving Iwaizumi’s defeat.

“But we don’t have to reveal our identities, right?” Silver Fox asked, he motioned for Sawamura to hand him one of the contracts. He sped read through out and tapped at one section in particular. “‘To avoid precarious encounters with heroes, villains are given the freedom to reveal their citizen identities or keep them a secret. This also bars heroes from following them home to discover their identities, the privacy of former villains will be respected, no matter how bad a deed they have committed in the past.’”

“So, yes, your alter egos will remain a secret since they were never known in the first place, and our three heroes here will respect that. If you wish to reveal your identity, you may, but do not feel like you are expected to,” Sawamura confirmed with a nod of his head. “The two of you will be able to go about the rest of your lives with no opportunities for the law or heroes to take action against, all files and information burned like they never existed. You will become a normal, innocent civilians with no records of villainy.”

“If I may,” Matsukawa said, raising his hand like he has a question. He was usually quite the reserved guy who was quick with witty replies and smart ass comments, but Iwaizumi could see the vexation bubbling just underneath his vine mask. “They’re fucking villains! They’ve committed countless crimes. We know that the Immunity Contracts have never kept villains from crime for long and they always come back. Sure, they’re killed but then new villains emerge form their ashes. These two especially don’t deserve to get away from punishment, at least a few years in jail or something.”

“No thank you,” Vortex piped up. “I’ll just take the Immunity Contract and be on my merry way.”

“Sawamura, Vortex has taken heroes out of commission according to Glyph!” Bokuto continued on, agreeing with Matsukawa. Bokuto was very emotional, his mood swings being his main weakness, but Iwaizumi had never once seem him mad. His fists now glowed with the eternal fires that were his powers, golden flames surging up the folded wings against his back. “It’s not fair to those former heroes that Vortex gets off scotch free! And Silver Fox has robbed numerous banks, jewelry stores, and even governments! While he was in America, where we couldn’t touch him and nothing is really known about him, he robbed the Pentagon!”

“I understand what you’re saying, Horned Owl, but—”

“That was you that robbed Pentagon? I’m impressed!” Vortex interrupted, delighted and amused. When Silver Fox nodded, grinning like the Cheshire Cat, Vortex fell into a fit of uncontrollable laughter. “I had no idea that was you! I knew we were best friends for a reason!”

“You know I was going to keep it a secret for you birthday, but since Horned Owl had to go and ruin the surprise, I’ll tell you that I actually got you real alien technology that was going to be moved to Area 51. Naturally, nothing can power it up so it’ll be nothing more than decoration, but—”

Vortex squealed, his face lighting up even more if that was possible, and he wrapped his best friend in a tight hug, rocking them back and forth. “I love you I love you I love you!” When he let go of Silver Fox he went on to say, “You know I got you a few trinkets just as amazing for your birthday too!”

“Is it what I think it is. . . ?”

“You know it,” Vortex winked.

“The Cullinan Blue Diamond necklace?!” Silver Fox shot out of his chair and bounced on his heels.

“And the Hope Diamond for our friendship anniversary!” Vortex exclaimed.

“They’re here now, can we arrest them for that?! They just admitted to a crime in police station, that has to count for something and they haven’t signed the contracts yet!” Iwaizumi asked, motioning wildly to the giddy villains fangirling over their future birthday presents for each other. He and Matsukawa exchanged a nauseous expressions. Seeing them like this was unnatural, it was too innocent for Iwaizumi to handle.

“Do that, and there’s no hope in saving Kyoutani,” Vortex replied smugly, hands on his hips. “We’re free men, Glyph, Silver Fox and I. Get used to it. You can’t chase me now.”

Iwaizumi’s hands balled into fists and he leaned back in his chair, staring down at the table as Vortex and Silver Fox signed the Immunity Contracts. They had just put themselves out of any heroes reach, made themselves untouchable, intangible. Iwaizumi hated this, with every fibre of his being. He could feel the sympathetic glances from his friends and Sawamura and he played with the fraying strings on his brown coat.

His parents would not be proud of him if they saw him now. He was a failure. What kind of hero was he if he couldn’t stop two villains?

* * * * * *

Iwaizumi felt exactly if he was going down a dark staircase, thinking that he’d reached the bottom but there was more step and suddenly he was tumbling, spiraling down until he crashed.

The night sky just outside his shop was a midnight blue, an oddly clear night for such a shitty day before it. The sun had set hours ago, so now the only thing lighting up Tokyo were the street signs of businesses that had yet to close for the night. Iwaizumi had shut his doors, not locked them, but definitely flipped the sign over to tell everyone that he was closed for the night. So, now, he was sitting on top of his front counter, not caring about appearances, wrapped in his baggy hoodie and proud of his snap back. He was comfortable, safe in his work environment, where he had to focus intently instead of letting his self-destructive thoughts.

Asahi had recommended that he go home, so had Tanaka and Nishinoya, but he hadn’t listened. He didn’t feel like going home and sleeping. He was restless, wanted to go out and patrol, but Matsukawa and Bokuto had told him to go home. He had been the one to go out for the past four nights without sleep.

He was listening to Nujabes again because they were relaxing, put his mind a numbing ease. The music helped him not feel so helpless, and that he wasn’t totally alone. He was also doing what he did best, even in comparison to his hero work: creating designs. Someone wanted a sleeve tattoo in a landscape sort of style, so Iwaizumi drew rushing rivers, snowcapped mountains in the distance, sakura petals turning pink and fluttering in a soft breeze. He hadn’t exactly come to terms with what had just happened today, but it was slowly sinking in. However, that wasn’t a good thing.

He was about to finally call it quits and pack it up when he heard the bell above his front door ring. He whirled around to see Oikawa Tooru, beautiful as ever, hair windswept and cheeks colored a faint blush, holding out a box.

“Hi,” he said, after taking a deep breath. “After you, uh, did my tattoo—thank you for that by the way, I love it so much—we sort of parted awkwardly? I thought we had a good start but maybe I misinterpreted it? I was going to ask you out, but when you didn’t really wanna talk before or after giving me my tattoo, I let it drop.” Oikawa shifted uncomfortably. “Someone said recently—today, actually— that I don’t have a really good personality, and I’m worried that maybe that’s what scared you off, that I came on too fast, or something. So, here.” He lifted the box up for emphasis and Iwaizumi eyed it with an owlish expression. What the hell was Oikawa even talking about?

Oikawa quickly made his way over and placed the box on the counter. It was tied in a pretty, sky blue ribbon. “Cream puffs and a few slices of vanilla cake with raspberry frosting. I know you said you didn’t really like sweet things. So, this is my peace offering. I’m really sorry if I freaked you out, Iwaizumi. The nickname was probably too much too soon, wasn’t it?”

“Wait, hold on,” Iwaizumi said, holding his hands up to placate Oikawa’s frantic worry. He slid off the counter and walked over. He glanced and saw that his name was written in chocolate on top of the slices of cakes as well. “Peace offering? No, Oikawa, I don’t want that.”

“Oh . . . o-okay,” Oikawa’s voice cracked as he lifted the gift off the counter. He let out a breathy, humorless chuckle like he might cry, before moving to go out the door again. “Sorry, this was too much too, wasn’t it? I’m really sorry. I’ll leave.”

“No. What I meant was this, you don’t need to give it to me because you didn’t do anything wrong, Oikawa. I—” Iwaizumi didn’t know how to phrase this. With everything wrong he didn’t really know if he had time to try for a date with Oikawa. “I’m really sorry. It’s my fault. I led you on and I was having fun, but I don’t have time for a relationship.”

“Not even to try?” Oikawa bit his lip and god Iwaizumi felt terrible. He looked so fucking hopeful as he smiled at Iwaizumi, sticking his hands in his pockets and rocking back and forth on his heels. “I really liked you.”

“We don’t know each other, and—”

“Well, that’s what dates are for.”

“—The Attractive Stranger Phenomenon.”

“Hold on. The what?” Oikawa asked, narrowing his eyes, clearly befuddled by what Iwaizumi was inciting. He seemed to be getting impatient, but he really was trying to hear Iwaizumi out. “What does that even mean?”

“It means I only like you for your looks,” Iwaizumi waved him off absentmindedly. “But the really reason—”

“You what?” Oikawa blinked, taken aback. He took a step back and ran his fingers through his hair. “You don’t like me? You just like how hot I am?”

“Well, that’s what the Attractive Stranger Phenomenon means, really.” Iwaizumi was scrambling now. He needed a way to tell Oikawa that he was interested in him, very interested in him, but he just couldn’t handle a relationship right now. Or he might never be able to, most heroes never could. Something about Oikawa made him want to try, but Iwaizumi was a realist, it would probably never work.

“Well, here I am!” Oikawa exclaimed sarcastically, spreading his arms out. His tone went from confused to a vicious in a matter of seconds. “In all my attractive glory, Iwa-chan! Admire my looks for all they are and don’t pay attention to the fact that we have something in common, like how we both were inspired by our parents! No! Ignore that! Look at how pretty I am! Look at how kissable my lips are, how easy it would be to grab my hips and I would let you, look how fluffy my hair is, just run your fingers right through it, because that’s all you’re interested in, right? My looks?”

Oh, he fucked up. He really, really fucked up. Iwaizumi really hadn’t meant to hurt Oikawa, but as he looked back, he probably wasn’t saying what he should’ve been saying. He raised his hands again, “Oikawa, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that—”

Oikawa thrust the box of treats into his hands with a brusque, “Good-bye, Iwaizumi Hajime,” and then he was gone, stomping out the door so fast Iwaizumi didn’t even have time to react.

All alone to himself, Iwaizumi slumped to the floor. “I fucked up,” he grumbled, running his hands through his hair and tugging. “I really shouldn’t have listened to Matsukawa about his stupid phenomenon. I should’ve just said what I know, and my fucking concerns!” Honest, he should’ve been honest and not taken. Page out of his friends’ books. Oikawa didn’t know them, so the whole thing didn’t come across right. Iwaizumi shouldn’t have looked for a crutch. He should’ve said what he would’ve said to anyone else.

Then a thought occurred to him, as he watched Oikawa disappear from his sight. Iwaizumi had fucked up, but Glyph still had a fighting chance to make things right with Oikawa.

Chapter Text

“WATCH OUT!”

“OW—FUCK!”

If you’ve never been hit by vespa in your life, you should count yourself extremely lucky.

Kyoutani Kentarou, however, seemed to be anything but lucky. His whole life had become a complicated gymnastics routine that made his stomach sick with how many flips he was suffering through. First, he was once again rejected to become an apprentice hero (his dream was to train under Glyph but that clearly wasn’t going to happen). Next, he meets his hero and offers to help him win a fight against a villain, to prove himself as worthy of an apprenticeship, but then he’s turned down because it’s “too dangerous.” And lastly, he was possessed by a demon wolf by the name of Fenrir that took over his body whenever he felt like it, and this caused Kyoutani to start living on the run, to avoid heroes and law enforcement. He didn’t want to hurt anyone anymore, so he was avoiding public places at all costs, to keep Fenrir’s interests from spiking.

And now came the newest flip in his routine, getting rammed in the side by a vespa going way faster than the speed limit allowed.

Kyoutani was knocked clean off his feet and flung quite a surprising distance further down the street as the vehicle knocked into him like a ton of bricks. Sliding and collapsing against the pavement, he landed at an angle that he really shouldn’t be in. Was his arm supposed to bend that way? Fuck it, best to just get up and leave. However, when he tried to move to stand, his limbs screamed in agony and he ended up falling back on his ass.

Can you really not take care of yourself, you pathetic scum? I am kind enough to allow you this time to be yourself and out from under my control, and you squander to needlessly it by getting yourself injured like this . . . ? Whatever. It’ll make it easier to take over you next time, just more painful for you.

“Hey! Are you okay?” Kyoutani huffed a flew of curse words and rolled onto his side, away from the the stranger. He heard the vespa come to a screech halt right next to him and the sound of feet hitting the pavement, coming his way. “Are you dead? Oh my god, did I kill you? Fuck, I’m too young to go to jail! Don’t be dead, please?”

Kyoutani felt someone prod his shoulder. “Fuck off,” he grumbled.

“I don’t really feel like getting sued.”

“I’m not gonna sue you, unless you don’t fuck off like I just told you to,” he grunted, managing to right himself in a sitting potion. He attempted to massage his arm but he flinched back, the forearm flaring in pain and throbbing. He was barely containing a scream, a combination of rage and agony.

“Hey, is your arm broken?”

The stranger knelt down beside him, setting his lavender helmet off to the side. He was . . . pretty? Kyoutani wasn’t all that interested in people, didn’t really take them time to make them in and see if they were someone interesting, but, well, this guy was kinda cute. Fluffy, silvery hair that wasn’t as quite as metallic in sheen as Suga’s, fair skin that bordered on pale, and hazel eyes that were trained on his uniquely bent arm. It was odd, given how the whole incident was Kyoutani’s fault, he expected the driver to continue on like the accident never happened.

“You’re going to burn a hole in the side of my head if you keep staring like that,” he said, grinning a tad mischievously, his eyes flickering over Kyoutani’s face for a split second. “You don’t have to stop, though, I don’t mind. I like it.”

“Are you flirting with me—?” Kyoutani snapped, bewildered.

“Yahaba Shigeru,” the stranger introduced, smoothly.

Kyoutani’s eyes that were usually stuck in a permanent glare were now they were blown wide with surprise. It isn’t much of a surprise to everyone that he isn’t that good with flirting or, you know, human interaction. Kyoutani had a natural affinity for losing his temper or looking like he was perpetually ill-tempered. This resulted in many people not really taking a interest in him, romantic or otherwise, brief or long-term.

“You hit me with your vespa and my arm is broken,” he said, stating the obvious, like this guy didn’t know what he was doing.

“And you walked out in front of me without looking both ways. I’ll say our meet-cute isn’t exactly typical, but who knows what it could blossom into?” Yahaba teased. He stuck his tongue out at Kyoutani. “I’m just kidding, but seriously, I’m glad you seem coherent, however, your arm is broken, head is bleeding, and you need to go to a hospital immediately. Here, I’ll help you up.”

Kyoutani wormed his way out of Yahaba’s grip, writhing and twisting like a snake, and fell back. “No!” he objected, firmly as his glare was set in place once more. He pushed Yahaba away and moved to stand on his feet again, and this time he was successful with only a minimal amount of awkward staggering. “I can’t go to the hospital!”

A hospital? Sounds like fun, Fenrir whispered into the dark crevices of his mind. So many people, perfect for crushing and eating . . . Kyoutani suppressed the cold shiver of fear running through his blood. Now that Fenrir was a part of him, he almost had no control of when the wolf took over, warping him into a monster. The best thing he could do to keep everyone safe was to distance himself from largely populated areas. If he was in a hospital where there were sick, wounded, and dying people—

Kyoutani shook his head vigorously. No way in hell was he putting more lives at risk because of his fuck up. He wouldn’t be able to live with himself. Contrary to popular belief, Kyoutani did in fact have a working heart and did care for people, just not in an obvious way.

“And why can’t you go to a hospital?” Yahaba demanded, standing to put his hands on his hips. He clearly wasn’t backing down, a defiant glint in his eyes that showed he certainly didn’t fear Kyoutani at all. “Your arm is broken, you might have a concussion, and those are injuries that demand medical attention! Is it because you don’t have a ride? I can drive you. The bill? I hit you with my vespa so I’ll help pay. Got it?”

Fuck, this guy was really stubborn, so obstinate he rivaled Kyoutani.

“It’s none of your business, so fuck off and leave me alone already!” Kyoutani barked, trying his very best to ward him off.

“Wow,” Yahaba sighed, shoving his hands into his jean pockets and shaking his head in mocking disapproval. “You really are a fucking rude dude, you know that, right?”

“Oh, look at this. Pretty boy thinks he’s got a mouth?” Kyoutani snarled, putting more distance between himself and Yahaba. I’m being rude for a good reason that you can’t know about, so shut up and go away before you and others get hurt.

“Oh, I do have a mouth,” Yahaba drawled, closing the distance as soon as Kyoutani created it. Kyoutani didn’t like this proximity at all, too close for comfort in any other situation. He wasn’t someone who thrived on attention and being close to someone, preferring a well kept distance, but Yahaba was. . . enticing, to say the least. He didn’t back down and clearly wasn’t just a pretty face, tough and strong-willed. “And from what I’ve been told told, I can work miracles with my cute mouth, but with your horrible manners, you wouldn’t get so much as a tease from me.”

He then stepped back and smiled, motioning for Kyoutani to follow him. He swung his leg up and over, sitting down comfortably back on his vespa and revved the engine, as he played with the snap on his pastel yellow helmet. “So, come on, loser. We’re going to the hospital.”

Kyoutani snapped out of his staring., lips curling back into a snarl. “You can’t fucking tell me what to do—”

Another rev of the engine. Yahaba’s eyes narrowed as he leaned forward and rested his arms on the steering handles, a smile just there but hidden underneath a threat. “Oh, yes, I can actually. You’re the one with a broken arm. Meanwhile, I’m in perfect condition to walk right over there and give you my vices right hook to knock you out so I can drag your stupidly hot body to hospital. You really want to test me, Grumpy?”

“You wouldn’t.”

“You really feel like finding out?”

Fuck, Kyoutani thought to himself. He’s pretty fucking hot when he’s authoritative like this. Then he did a double take, feeling the snarl emanating from Fenrir. He didn’t need this. This wasn’t a good position to be in.

Taking another step back, he said, decidedly, “The answer is still no. I can’t go to the hospital.”

“You need help,” Yahaba insisted.

“I don’t need help from you.”

“Well, you’re going to have my help whether you like it or not—” a third engine rev and his eyebrow quirked up, challenging “—last chance, stranger. You’re either coming to the hospital willingly or unconscious. It’s up to you.”

Kyoutani just turned and started limping away as fast as possible. He probably looked ridiculous, broken as he tried to walk as normally as possible. Each movement produced a new spark of pain to flare up, making him wince and pause. He clearly didn’t get very far because there was Yahaba, true to his word, barreling after him. He was swinging his helmet menacingly, giving Kyoutani the stink eye. He tried to dodge the vespa, but when he dove to the side, the plastic cracked against his skull, really sending him down. He collapsed against the pavement and fell into a abrupt, excruciating unconsciousness.

“OH SHIT—FUCK! I WAS JUST TRYING TO SCARE YOU! I’M SO SORRY! I DIDN’T MEAN TO ACTUALLY HIT YOU . . . AGAIN!”

Right before he blacked out, he could feel Fenrir chuckling, with a low, menacing anticipation, in the back of his head. He felt cold like a ghost had just moved through him.

This is going to be so much fun, Kyoutani. Trust me.

* * * * * *

It was . . . quiet? Too quiet for comfort, really. There had been no signs of Hellhound or Kyoutani Kentarou in almost a week and a half, and with the disappearance of the wolf, criminal activity was decreasing. So, the heroes were taking a bit of a break and letting the police handle the robberies in the area. Really, it was just the calm before the storm, and they all knew, but they took the time to simply breathe and get up to full strength so they would be ready for the next attack. In all honesty, Matsukawa was ecstatic over the lack of action because it mean that he finally had time to pay his boyfriend a surprise visit at work. He’d been dying to Hanamaki for over a month now, having only text messages and phone calls to tide them over. Matsukawa had dated before, sure, every superhero did despite the danger, but no one had quite understood him like Hanamaki did. He smelled like flowers, soil and sweat after long hours of work, an amazing sense of humor, and a contagious laughter that made Matsukawa’s heart do somersaults.

Hanamaki owned a quaint flower shop called Wild Flowers, which was located just across the street from a place called the Blue Bakery and a little ways further than the Ace tattoo Parlor, Iwaizumi’s pride and joy. Wild Flowers had a reputation of being able to respond to all sorts of “emergencies,” romantic or last minute events. Reliable was a good way to describe them, and their latest partnership with Blue Bakery was already well-known (according to Hanamaki). A huge floral display of daisies to create a beautiful, almost snowy backdrop for a seven-tiered wedding cake.

“He’s really great,” Matsukawa promised Bokuto as they walked down the sidewalk of the shopping center.

“Matsukawa, you’ve said that for the umpteenth time today,” Bokuto laughed, loudly. “Besides, you’ve proven time and time again that you don’t have bad taste in guys, so I’m sure he’s great.”

As they were about to pass the Blue Bakery, they noticed Iwaizumi . . . dressed entirely in his superhero costume, passing just a little ways down from the view of the glass doors of the bakery. He was raking his nails through his hair nervously and came to sudden stop when he realized he was being watched. Matsukawa and Bokuto just smiled smugly at him when he ducked his head away to hide his embarrassment, attempting to formulate an excuse.

“I know this seems kind of stupid,” Iwaizumi started, “but hear me out.”

“Who’re you trying to impress, Glyph?” Matsukawa asked, almost conversationally, but his grin gave away the fact that he was totally teasing his best friend. “A little bit of gel in your hair,—” he stepped closer “—cologne, and you washed your jacket? Who is worth Glyph dressing to the nines, he must be quite a looker.”

“It’s not like that, but it is—It’s complicated,” Iwaizumi insisted. He shoved his hands into his jacket pocket. “I messed up as, you know, me. So, I’m trying to fix it as Glyph.”

“Well, I don’t see how this could possibly fail!” Bokuto exclaimed with delighted sarcasm. “You messed up and you want to fix it with a lack of honesty? Glyph, really?”

“He won’t want to talk to me. So, maybe Glyph,—” Iwaizumi motioned to himself “—a trustworthy superhero, can convince Oikawa to give to Iwaizumi a chance to explain things and make it right.”

At that moment, humming to himself a pleasant little tune, Sugawara emerged from the bakery. He was dressed in a nice pair of pants, a white button down with sleeves rolled up to his elbows to let his arms breathe, a silver handkerchief rested in the chest pocket, and shined, black shoes. He was mid-sip on a mug of fresh coffee when he stopped abruptly and looked Iwaizumi up and down, his lips curling into a smile. “Well, well, well, if it isn’t—”

“Hello . . . random citizen?” Iwaizumi interrupted. No one was supposed to know that Sugawara was working with heroes and the police, in order to protect him from villains and other criminals, so discretion was key. “I need to talk to the owner of the Blue Bakery, Oikawa Tooru.”

“Well, Glyph,” Sugawara started, trying to contain his fits of laughter by biting his lips, but his shoulders were still shaking. “Oikawa isn’t in right now, and neither is Yahaba. Watari, Kindaichi, and Kunimi are currently watching the store. I think Oikawa’s on his way to the hospital because Yahaba got into some sort of accident. Better luck next time, lover boy.” And with that, Sugawara hurried down the street to catch his bus back to the university to be on time for his next lecture, switching to a leisurely whistle instead of humming.

Iwaizumi visibly deflated, which made Matsukawa do a double take because Iwaizumi was usually more reserved in nature than allowing himself to get his hopes to meet someone. “So, I’m guessing the boy you like isn’t here?” he asked, quirking an eyebrow up. “Is he that cute?”

“None of your business, random citizens,” Iwaizumi grumbled, stomping back to his tattoo parlor. There had been the slightest tint of pinks dusting his cheeks when he left them. Matsukawa couldn’t wait to meet this Oikawa Tooru someday when Iwaizumi figured out a better way to communicate his feelings instead of hiding behind his mask.

“Well, that was fun!” Bokuto clapped his hands together loudly. “Now, let’s go meet your boyfriend! With how much you’ve been talking about him, I’m dying to finally meet the guy!” He looked at Matsukawa like an excited puppy, gold eyes big and dancing with happiness.

They crossed the street as Iwaizumi dejectedly disappeared into his tattoo parlor. Wild Flowers wasn’t a small building but it was quite quaint, the pale, beige bricks were draped in the pretty, green vines with little white flowers scattered across the green that reminded Matsukawa of a spider’s web, but a nice one. A wonderful, flowery scent filled the air as they stepped through the glass doors, only for Matsukawa to suddenly be drenched from head-to-toe. So much for looking nice for his reunion with his boyfriend.

“Hey, sexy, haven’t seen you in a while.”

Hanamaki was standing on the very top of a ladder situated right next to the door, in Matsukawa’s blind spot, holding a now empty bucket. He grinning from ear-to-ear as Bokuto burst out laughing behind Matsukawa. Hanamaki was tall and surprisingly well built from carrying around trees and clay pots all day. His hair was strawberry blond, but more strawberry than blond, with pale skin and light brown eyes that danced with playfulness as he grinned down at Matsukawa. He was dressed in light blue jeans, a rosy pink shirt, and regular tennis shoes. He had a little soil caked around the edges of his clothes and skin but Matsukawa could feel the butterflies fluttering in his stomach just by looking at him.

“Oop, it seems there’s still a little more water left,” Hanamaki said. He pulled out another bucket of water and proceeded to dump that on Matsukawa as well. And he was once again soaked, warm water seeping into him like he’d just taken a long shower. “Grow, Plant Boy, grow.”

Bokuto burst out laughing, holding his stomach. “I like him already!” He waved to Hanamaki gleefully. “Hi, I’m Bokuto Koutarou, a friend from work!”

Hanamaki waved to him in return with a smile but his eyes were trained on his boyfriend.

Matsukawa chuckled as he wrung out his shirt a little and shook his head like a wet dog, sending stray droplets of water from his hair everywhere. “Okay, okay. I definitely deserved that. I’m sorry I haven’t called you recently, babe, but I really did miss you.”

“Of course you did,” Hanamaki said, stepped down from the ladder. Once at the second to last step, he reached forward and pulled Matsukawa in for a chaste, teasing kiss. “You have a lot of time you need to make up for, sexy.”

“Oh, don’t worry, babe, I plan on it,” Matsukawa grinned coyly, pulling Hanamaki in for a longer, much more satisfying kiss. His boyfriend melted under his lips and hands, letting out an impatient groan as he gripped Matsukawa’s sleeve and pulled him closer.

Bokuto rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet as he began to gaze around helplessly, looking anywhere but at Matsukawa and Hanamaki sucking each other’s faces off. He assumed they would want a bit of privacy as they “reunited,” but now he really didn’t know what to do with himself now that he was here. He didn’t have to wait long for something new and interesting to happen, because the door was slammed open and in stumbled a handsome devil that immediately caught the eye. He was tall and lanky but still appeared muscled, with an inky mess of hair and kaleidoscope eyes. He wasn’t dressed like he worked for a florist. He wore ratted black jeans, a grey shirt that read All the Best Science Jokes Argon, red flannel with the sleeves rolled up, and finally a pair of untied, red and black converse sneakers.

As he walked in, he locked eyes with Bokuto who swore he suddenly saw patterns wrap around himself like DNA. Just a mirage, though, just how captivatingly cool this new guy seemed to be. He eyed Bokuto and his lips spread into a lazy smirk as he regarded the hero with a relaxed calculation. He then whistled appreciatively before moving to drop his bag and guitar case on the front counter.

“Ooh, Matsukawa! Glad to see you could finally make time to drop in and make us all feel uncomfortably single as you literally devour your boyfriend’s face,” he drawled, sitting on the stool and propping his feet up on the wooden counter. “And you brought a friend this time too? Must be awkward for you, my dude.” He held out his hand and grinned, a slice of white teeth perfect for biting sarcasm, “Kuroo Tetsurou, part-time worker at Wild Flowers, full-time hottie musician. So, Owl Hair, you’re a hero too?”

Bokuto gaped at him in surprise and turned to Matsukawa for help, who parted from Hanamaki and just shrugged, saying, “He found out by accident. You can trust him.”

“Yeah, don’t worry. I know all about Bouquet Boy over there,” Kuroo continued, still flashing Bokuto that contagious grin. “I found out by accident, really. I saw him conjuring up flowers in his bare hands before picking up Hanamaki for a date, and I flipped out loud enough for Hanamaki to hear me. Not my most tactful moment, I’ll admit, but it was good for them I think.”

“Oh, so you’re that meddler Matsukawa’s always complains about?” Bokuto asked excitedly, practically bouncing now.

“At your service.” Kuroo gave him a theatrical bow.

“Dude, I’ve been wanting to meet you for a long time now! Anyone who’s game for messing with Matsukawa and Iwaizumi is a future friend in my book! Iwaizumi says your pranks are the worst.”

“He’s just says that. He secretly loves them.”

“That’s what I always say!” Bokuto exclaimed. He raced around the counter and plopped himself down on the spare stool next to Kuroo, kicking his feet out in a nonsensical rhythm. “We should definitely team up for a prank someday!”

“Oh, I like you even more now,” Kuroo smirked. He leaned in close and asked, “What’re you thinking?”

“Baseball launcher,” Bokuto replied with a mischievous quirk of his brows. “Cover the balls in something tacky or sticky so they stick to our victims.” He held out his hand, “Bokuto Koutarou, by the way, and since Matsukawa trusts you. I’m the Horned Owl.”

“No fucking way!” Kuroo shouted, nearly falling off his seat. “You’re Horned Owl? As in the Horned Owl in that gladiator armor who can fly with those big ass wings and shoot eternal fire?” Okay, so maybe he wasn’t all cool and collected. Kuroo was a little bit of a nerdy dork, but that just made him even better, and easier for Bokuto to make a connection with.

“That’s me!” Bokuto puffed out his chest, smiling victoriously. “The golden armor brings out my eyes, doesn’t it?”

“I bet it does!” Kuroo sighed, pleasantly surprised, giving him a smile that wasn’t lazy or analytical, but fun. “You have to come over to plan pranks with me. A superhero like you on my side? Iwaizumi and Matsukawa don’t stand a chance!” He stood and pulled on a pair of gloves, also gathering up a small tool belt with gardening tools shoved into the pockets. “Plus, I have this epic Sunfire autograph I bought off a dude named Komi Haruki.”

“That’s my Sunfire autograph! He stole it from me when we were in college together! He sold it to you?” Bokuto flopped back, resting his against the counter to balance himself as he laughed. “This is the highest form of betrayal.”

Kuroo stared at him and spread his arms, like he was going to hug Bokuto, which Bokuto really wouldn’t have minded, getting a hug from an attractive new friend, that is. “Bro, it just means fate brought us together.”

“We’re bros?” Bokuto asked, big, golden eyes shimmering.

“Of course we are, bro! Wanna go see some flowers?”

“Hell yeah! I fucking love flowers!”

Matsukawa and Hanamaki had watched the whole exchange, mouths slightly agape and wondering when they could cut into the conversation, but Bokuto and Kuroo disappeared behind the sunflowers display without a word to either of them. Both of them felt a slight trickle of concern for their own well-beings because Bokuto, a troublemaker, paired with Kuroo, the man who wrote the book on troublemaking? They were definitely in trouble.

“What have we done?” Matsukawa asked dramatically, which sent Hanamaki into a fit of laughter.

“Speak for yourself, I didn’t invite the catalyst!” Hanamaki replied. “This is all on you. You have to pay double now to make up for it.”

“Ice cream at my place after you get off from work?” Matsukawa offered, with a causal shrug so as not to appear too excited about but excited enough. Keep it light and breezy.

Hanamaki laughed and gave Matsukawa a long stare while waggling his eyebrows suggestively. “As long as the ice cream is on me and you’re licking it off, I’m so down.”

* * * * * *

When Kyoutani was younger, he remembered the time his parents had taken him on a trip on a vintage train he couldn’t remember the name of. It had looked old and rusted but rolled across the tracks like a dream. They sat in a boxcar filled with people who eventually took a nap to the gentle sway of the train, like the soothing rock of a boat on a calm sea, but Kyoutani had been on his feet, exploring every inch of the train. He had even caught the eyes of the conductor who showed him the engine room. Sure, the equipment had been slightly updated, but the interior looked like something out of a train from the American Prohibition Era. He loved it and he was given a hat to commemorate the occasion. It was a happy memory, before there were problems and fights. He liked to hold onto that one family trip on a train.

Since then there was no train that Kyoutani could bring himself to hate . . . until now.

There was the faint whistle of a train in the distance when Kyoutani opened his heavy eyes. He blinked a couple of times to adjust them to the new, harsh lighting, and rubbed the sleep away, trying to focus on the blurred silhouette sitting in front of him. A shadow of black smoke and an ember-like aura, with two eerie eyes like furnaces burning through him like he was made of nothing but string.

“Sleep well, Kyoutani? I bet you did since that stupid kid gave you quite a whack.”

His mind was still fuzzy from sleep, like cotton balls had replaced his brain. “Wha—?” Oh, yeah, . . . uh, who was that fucker—? Oh yeah! Yahaba, right?

Kyoutani still couldn’t really focus, but he was able to understand that he was on some sort of the train. He recognized the slight shake of the boxcar, the sound of an engine chugging, and the whistle was just a dead giveaway at this point. The air carrie the scent of rusted metal and burning charcoal, and it made breathing harder like he was slowly being suffocated. The car he was sitting in could be described as lavish. Midnight black walls with ornate, golden carvings and patterns and soft, wine brown carpeting. Above their heads were crystal chandeliers that made Kyoutani want to draw himself in, you never know when one of those fucking things is going to fall and pierce your eye. Better safe than sorry.

“Kyoutani, focus,” the man across him from him growled impatiently, thrumming his fingers against the cane he held in his hands. A long, obsidian stick with a ruby encased in simmering flame was the handle. “You and I have to talk, just to cross some t’s and dot some i’s, you know?”

“Fenrir,” Kyoutani recognized, furrowing his brows. He had never seen Fenrir before, not in dreams or even as visions in his head while the wolf was nothing more than an inner demon haunting his every step. Apparently, Fenrir was a man of medium build with pitch black hair slicked back like he was a greaser, ghostly pale skin, and eyes redder than blood. He was dressed, like he was the ring master of hell or some shit like that, in a crimson tailcoat, a traditional black top hat, black pants, and high boots that were crusted in dried and new blood.

“What the fuck do you want?” Kyoutani sneered, completely unfriendly but the fucker deserved it after everything he’d put Kyoutani through so far. He never wanted to kill people, he never wanted to topple cities. He’d just wanted to prove himself, but it seemed like he couldn’t even do that now. Would Glyph even give him a chance after this? Did he even deserve a second chance, a second shot at becoming hero one day?

“You have the worst manners, even for a teenager,” Fenrir sighed, kicking one leg up to cross over the other, hauling off to give Kyoutani a fierce glare that made shivers of fear run up his spine. “Didn’t your mother ever teach you better? Oh, that’s right, she didn’t because she up and left you and your alcoholic fa—”

“SHUT THE FUCK UP!” Kyoutani exploded, springing from his seat. He raised his fist and let it fly right into the bastard wolf’s face. “SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP!”

Fenrir made a shooing motion with his hand and Kyoutani was pinned down on his seat. Invisible restraints held him down as he thrashed violently around like a trapped animal as they constricted around him, like they were trying to break his bones. He grinned maliciously at him, his teeth colored red like they were stained from biting into someone. “Kyoutani, you act as though we’re on the same level, so let me assure you. We are not. I could break you from the inside out and go to the trouble of finding a new vessel, but I chose you. Do you know why that is?”

Kyoutani managed to kick his leg out and hit Fenrir’s to send it flying off to the side. His lips curled back into a snarl. “I don’t know and I don’t care. I want you to leave me alone. I made the deal with you because I thought you were going to help me show Glyph I could help him. You lied to me!”

“I chose you, Kyoutani, because you’re the perfect combination of unbridled anger and loss,” Fenrir smiled, leaning closer. “The devil preys on the weak of heart, and you were desperate enough to be someone that you let me in. You’re only the second one to do that.” He motioned for Kyoutani to look outside the boxcar window on their right. They passed by a break in the trees to see a limp figure hung by their neck off a dying, burning bridge. Kyoutani recoiled, stifling a quiet gasp of shock. “That man over there is Oikawa Eiyuu, a good man who just wanted to protect his wife and son, and he couldn’t because he was too weak, so he made a deal with me. He was the perfect vessel for my needs.”

Kyoutani stared at Fenrir. He could feel the fire of hatred and desire licking at him, emanating from Fenrir. Kyoutani never considered himself a coward, in fact, eh considered himself quite the opposite, but there was something about the entity in front of him that made him want to run for cover. He couldn’t control the way his eyes shook in horror, the way his pulse spiked as the adrenaline to stay alive flooded through him like a wave.

“There’s the fear I love,” Fenrir chuckled, heartily amused. “He was powerful too. I could take many forms with him as my vessel. If you think the wolf form is destructive and terrifying, just wait until I can crush the towns with just the flick of my wrist.” He sighed and looked out just as the trees overtook the window yet again. “Aside from you, there’s only one person who’s fit to be my vessel now, but sine he’s the one who ruined everything I built while I controlled Oikawa Eiyuu, I will only take his body and soul for my own when he’s cold and dead at your hands.”

He turned again to look at Kyoutani. He tightly gripped the teenager’s chin and forced him to meet the burning eyes. “And you’re going to help me kill him, Kyoutani.”

* * * * * *

Kyoutani felt like he’d just been jerked awake from a dream where he’d been falling to his death. As he bolted up into a sitting position, he screamed in pain as his side, right arm and head throbbed in excruciating pain like they were being hit with a hammer over and over again. He was sent into a coughing fit that had him gasping for air, the adrenaline of the dream rushing through him like a river, making his heart pound like a drum. The heavy scent of menthol and antibacterial cleaning products hit him like a freight train, nearly sending him back reeling into unconsciousness. He finally managed to catch his breath and open his eyes to only be assaulted with fluorescent lights, but soon enough to adjusted to his new surroundings. At least it wasn’t a train on the railroads of Hell.

Standing just to the right of his bed stood a doctor short enough to make Kyoutani do a double take to make sure he wasn’t looking at a kid in a doctor’s costume. No, he was an adult medical official all right, dressed in scrubs and in a long, white overcoat with a chest pocket filled to the brim with pens of all colors. His hair was very light brown with reddish tint to it, and his eyes reminded Kyoutani of the type of sand you see in an hourglass. Beside him was a giraffe of a man with silver hair with a sheen that almost seemed metallic and emerald eyes almost slitted like a cat’s, also dressed in red scrubs, and he was smiling down big and overly friendly at Kyoutani.

“You’re finally awake,” the doctor sighed, making a note on his clipboard after checking the time on his watch. “Sever concussion, broken ribs and arm. Patient: Kyoutani Kentarou, nineteen years old with no emergency contacts. You were quite the mystery coming in. No form of ID on you. We had to run your dental through the system here to get your name.” He held out his hand for Kyoutani to shake, which he didn’t because he didn’t know this guy, didn’t know if he could trust him. “Unfriendly too.”

“I told you that much already,” a voice piped up form the back. Kyoutani, wincing, craned his neck to see Yahaba lounging in one of the spare chairs in his room. “He has abhorrent manners, like he was raised by wolves or something.”

“Well, the good thing is that it doesn’t matter your manners, I still get paid for treating you, even if you are a pain in the ass,” the doctor continued. “I’m Doctor Yaku Morisuke, and the skyscraper next to me is Haiba Lev, your nurse for your stay here. Good luck.”

“Thank you, Yaku! I’ll do my best!” Haiba Lev practically announced with a scary amount of enthusiasm that even made Yahaba raise an eyebrow.

“I was talking to Kyoutani here, not you, Lev. Anyone who’s unfortunate enough to be a patient under your care needs all the luck they can get.”

“You actually took me to a hospital?” Kyoutani demanded, practically shouted at Yahaba.

“Yeah, that’s what you do when people are hurt,” Yahaba deadpanned. He smiled dangerously at Kyoutani. “I said you were getting medical attention whether you liked it or not, didn’t I?”

“Shut the fuck up already,” he huffed, looking anywhere but at the soft brown eyes.

“Or what? Like you can actually do anything with your arm in a sling.”

Kyoutani tried to frighten the other with his fiercest glare, but Yahaba just smiled sunnily at him like he was posing for a yearbook photo. People didn’t like Kyoutani, liked to think that just because he had a resting bitch face that he was a bad person or someone to be avoided, thought he might hurt them, but Yahaba had no fear of him whatsoever. He just saw a nasty personality but didn’t say away from it like others did, and while Kyoutani would begrudgingly appreciate that in literally any other scenario, Fenrir was clawing in the back of his mind, filling his head with smoke and trying to transform him into the wolf. He had to resist with everything he had, even if it meant hurting himself again, and to get out of this hospital before he hurt people.

“It was very interesting working with you, Yahaba,” Yaku admitted, writing some notes down on his clipboard. “I’ve never worked with someone who had healing superpowers before. Very educational.”

“It was so cool!” Lev said, turning to Kyoutani. “You should’ve seen it! He burst into lobby, half carrying you but almost dragging you, and collapsed while trying to keep you from crumbling! You were in major trouble, a lung was punctured according to Yaku and you were this close from bleeding out. Yahaba put his hand on you and healed you right in front of us, only enough to stabilize you, though.”

“You have superpowers?” Kyoutani questioned, raising an eyebrow.

“Yeah, I can’t fight worth shit, but I’m good support, I guess. I don’t really wanna be a hero, though, I might become a doctor like Yaku.”

“We could definitely use a hand like yours here, Yahaba,” Yaku praised.

A healer . . . Interesting, Fenrir mused inside Kyoutani’s head. He could definitely pose a problem if he ever decides to become a hero. People like him, they’re a beacon. I don’t need others like him causing trouble and giving people hope. I want complete destruction—

Kyoutani tried to shut him out, he really did, but Fenrir loathed being ignored. Suddenly, his whole body began to seize, violently, and he felt his threat close up. Yaku and Lev leaned forward and began checking his vitals as they saw his and heart the beeping of his heart monitor speed up. There was that familiar explosion in his chest, like he was being broken from the inside out, as he felt invisible claws wrap around him, sinking into his skin. He hugged his torso, like that would ease the pain, and fell back as the pain rippled through him like a stone tossed into a still lake. Out of the corner of his eyes, which had red overtaking his vision, he could see strings of black smoke emanating form the tips of his fingers.

Smartly, Yaku and Lev backed away out of apprehension. Yaku ordered Lev to go call for the police to send heroes, just in case. Meanwhile, Yahaba with an unshakable determined expression surged out of his chair was at Kyoutani’s side in seconds. His hands glowed as he pressed them gently to Kyoutani’s temples, giving them a gentle massage. It was like Yahaba’s light was battling the darkness of Fenrir inside him, a cool wash of water attempting to quell the fire. However, Fenrir loathed this and sent a violent burst of flame from Kyoutani’s mouth, directed at the healer.

Yahaba ducked out of the way, just in time. “What’s happening to you?” he demanded, racing back to Kyoutani’s side. “Is this normal? Talk to me!”

Kyoutani could only snarl out a single word in response, “Run!” as the horrible mockery of Fenrir laughing in the back of his head grew into a horrible cacophony. Fenrir, took advantage of his current state of weakness and forced Kyoutani to sleep, finally taking over and forcing him to shift into Hellhound.