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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 fromm 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 from 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 from 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 from 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 he 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 from 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, he 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 from 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 from 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.

Chapter Text

“We interrupt your regularly scheduled program to bring you this important news bulletin: Hellhound has resurfaced and is back with a vengeance, currently wreaking havoc, killing who knows how many, at Seibo Hospital. Fires are spreading to the nearby buildings, and police have blocked off the neighboring streets. Police Chief Sawamura and his forces are doing their best to contain the violence—“

Iwaizumi’s head snapped up from texting Hanamaki about the bouquet to the see a video recording of Hellhound smashing different wards of the hospital, barking and snarling loudly as it bit down to tear away chunks of rubble and brick. He could almost hear the screams and panic even though the video wasn’t playing any sound. It was just a shaky shot with the voice over of the reporters filling them in on what was happening, but he could feel the terror. Of course, as he stared at he screen, he was filled with concern and the need to do something to help, but another thought occurred to him . . . What if that was the hospital Oikawa was in?

Without any further thought, fueled by his hero instincts alone, he snatched up his brown jacket, already creating the streak of black across his face, and running out the door, his phone ringing and the ID read Chief Daichi.

“What’s this? Is that a new hero—? No, that’s Vortex! He’s flying in and out of the building, carrying out as many people as he can!”

Iwaizumi spun around to face the TV again. They weren’t lying. It really was Vortex carrying out as many children as his arms allowed him to carry, some were even hanging off his shoulders. He watched as the villain set them down as gently as possible before flashing the camera a stupid peace sign and then flying back into the fires and chaos. A competitive spark arose him in, not wanting to be outdone as a hero, but also that strange stirring of uncertainty in his stomach, as he grappled once again with the uncertainty that Vortex wasn’t as bad as he wanted him to be.

* * * * * *

Holy shit! This cannot be happening to me! Oikawa thought to himself for the first time that day.

Oikawa had been having a good day, and do you want to know why? Because he was a great and responsible person who deserved a nice day, that’s why. All his orders had been filled, and a new shipment of modeling chocolate was due to arrive at noon sharp. Everything was going smoothly. That was when he got a loud, panicked phone call from Yahaba about how he hit some hottie in the street with his vespa and was on his way to the hospital. At first, the Vortex in him thought that was pretty funny because when Yahaba panicked his sweet, calm demeanor fell away to a slew of curse words and anxiety. Then he, Oikawa, joined in on the worrying because Yahaba had just hit some random stranger (who was apparently hot) with his vespa and was on his way to the hospital. The vespa could be heavily damaged and the cost of repairs and a new paint job for those babies wasn’t cheap . . . oh yeah, and then there was that poor sucker in the hospital. He was hurt too, yeah, but the vespa was more important!

So, Oikawa had left Watari, Kindaichi, and Kunimi in charge of the bakery and got on his own lovely, lavender purple vespa to drive to the hospital. Getting there wasn’t the problem, no, the problem literally emerged the moment he arrived.

Hellhound.

Oikawa, holding his chai latte as his sunglasses rested just at the tip of his nose, stared at the giant wolf. He huffed out, ruefully, “Well fuck me.”

He glanced around in the hopes that literally anyone could deal with so he could go home, sleep and pretend this wasn’t happening to him. However, he was surrounded by people who were, smartly, fleeing the scene as quickly their legs could carry them. It must be a pain to not be able to fly when the going gets tough. Oikawa wouldn’t know that plight, though.

The wolf’s head was leering down to look at the hospital like the way a reaper looks down at its victim. Fires were already starting, creating an orange glow in the many windows of the building, and at the sight of it all, the wolf barked like it had already won. Screams were the main sound filling Oikawa’s ears, piercing and frightened. He shivered, trying to bury his fear as far down as he could. Yahaba was in there, dozens of innocent people, sick, injured, or visiting family, were in there too. He wasn’t a superhero, and he didn’t want to be, but he didn’t want people to die as a result of his hesitance.

He needed to stop the outside fires as soon as possible. Looking around, feeling wary with the worry that a hero, i.e. Glyph, could appear out of nowhere and recognize him, he saw no heroes. So, he raised his hands to the sky and waved them. Immediately, the clouds darkened and, with a snap of his fingers, rain began to fall hard and fast.

Oikawa glanced around once again before snatching up his bomber jacket and black mask and racing into the burning building. He abandoned his nice, expensive coat to the flames as he hurriedly put on his disguise. He passed by the term watch wards once he saw that they were emptied, and he headed straight for the maternity ward. He needed to get the newborn babies and their mothers out as fast as possible to save them from inhaling too much smoke. He was happy that no one was calling attention to the fact that he was supposed to be a villain cackling at their misery from a distance, and were perfectly content to let him help and even lead them out. That was an easy enough task, teaming up with the nurses, doctors and significant others to wheel out the women on hospital beds and the babies out into the parking lot.

That was when he left them to get the other kids and more sickly patients out of the building. Oikawa, frankly, hated running, especially when he could fly. So, he headed for the oncology ward next. Once he got there, which resulted in him having to use the wind currents under this control to bat away the ferocious flames. He arrived in the ward after a bit of panicked searching, and found a bunch of kids huddled in a corner, maybe ten-years-old or a little bit older. They stared up at him and went from panicked to unrivaled joy.

“A hero!” the youngest of the group shouted.

“No, no, no,” Oikawa almost stuttered, motioning for them to hang on to him like he was a human jungle gym. He was not going to be called a hero here and now. He was not. “I love attention from the press and, yes, I am here to save you, but I’m not a hero. Get on my back. Let’s get you kids out of here.”

How the ever loving fuck are kids so heavy? They aren’t fully grown but they somehow weigh a ton? Then again, Oikawa was carrying almost ten of them and trying to fly them around the flames, keeping them steady in the air. It was harder than he thought it would be. Still, he did manage to get them out of the burning building and land them a safe distance away. He noticed that a news crew was focusing on him, and he flashed the camera a peace sign and a big smile. Still no sign of Yahaba, though, and that definitely had him fretting.

Oikawa turned around to survey the damage of the hospital. It was still burning with the same intensity as before. It was like the rain he’d summoned hadn’t even dented the spreading of the flames at all. Water on a grease fire, it just helped the fire spread. Fucking fantastic. Oh well, there were still people to get out of there, so Oikawa took off flying once again, but this time for the recovery rooms as he noticed medics carrying out other patients from the other wards. The recovery rooms might be the most precarious to clear out, because that’s where Hellhound had emerged from and still was rampaging.

Oikawa wanted to turn tail and fly away from the demon wolf, but what if Yahaba was there, what if he was unconscious, or worse, dead? He wouldn’t be able to forgive himself if he couldn’t at least try to save him.

It was in the section of the building where the flames were worse. In the other parts of the hospital Oikawa and charged into, yeah, it had been bad enough, but the recovery rooms were much worse. The heat from the fire was oppressive and the smoke of thicker, clogging up his lungs and making breathing almost impossible to get any clean air into his lungs. His eyes burned from behind his mask and keeping his eyes open began to hurt as much as breathing. Seriously, fuck Hellhound. This not the good day Oikawa Tooru rightfully deserved.

Just as Oikawa was about to gingerly land on the precarious floor, a voice flooded his mind, overwhelming, like he was being forcibly pushed under water. He attempted to shove it from his brain but it pushed back, persistent as it always had been. “Little Oikawa Tooru, all grown up into the mistake you were always destined to become.”

So much for catching Fenrir unawares.

Oikawa just needed to find Yahaba and get him out of here as fast as possible then he could leave the heroes to deal with the—Oh, wait, fuck! No, I can’t yet! Dai-chan hasn’t called the meeting for me to give the heroes all my information on Fenrir yet. Oikawa huffed under his breath. All right, so Fenrir knew he was here, probably the whole summoning rain bit tipped him off, but he probably couldn’t pinpoint exactly where Oikawa was at the moment, so that gave him a leg up on the demon wolf.

Oikawa started moving through the recovery rooms as quickly as possible, looking for Yahaba. If only I put some sort of tracking device on that employee of mine, he thought to himself, then this would be a hell of a lot easier.

Eventually, Oikawa was forced to come to the conclusion that he would end up confronting Fenrir because the only room he hadn’t checked was the one the wolf was currently emerged from and using it fangs to eat its way out of. Fun. Maybe if he was quiet he would be okay? So, Oikawa quietly used the wind currents to float himself to the room and silently slid the door open. He was forcing himself not cough, the tickle in his throat becoming almost unbearable, but he couldn’t think about that when he finally caught sight of Yahaba, crushed under rubble from the ceiling, unconscious.

Oikawa didn’t waste a second in darting over and shifting through the rubble. He kept an eye on Hellhound, which towered over him like a goddamn skyscraper. He took a shaky breath as he noticed the giant slab of the ceiling that was trapping Yahaba. He wouldn’t be able to get this off him easily without making some noise. He didn’t have superhuman strength. He would have to force this off Yahaba, grab him, and then fly him out of there as fast as possible before Fenrir could snap at them.

Yahaba groaned and shifted himself up, looking at Oikawa. Thank the gods, he was definitely still alive. “Hey, Oikawa,” he said weakly. He gave him a wobbly grin. “I tried to help him, but—” He glanced up at Hellhound and he seemed to try and shy away from the towering wolf. “I couldn’t save him.”

Oikawa’s mind raced. If Yahaba was here, and Hellhound was here . . . then that meant that Kyoutani Kentarou was the one Yahaba hit with his vespa? He felt a groan coming on. This day just kept getting more and more messed up by the second. The only thing that could improve this was . . . No, he really couldn’t think of anything that could improve this—Wait, Glyph standing his ground against Hellhound and then getting totally destroyed, ripped into a million, bloody pieces. Delightful. Suddenly, Oikawa felt a whole lot better.

As Oikawa began to push against the slab, the wind currents providing him some excellent support, there was deep, malicious snarl above them. He glanced up for a half second before the vicious, drooling maw nearly trapped him between its teeth. He’d managed to get the ceiling slab high enough for him to grab Yahaba and then use the wind currents to zigzag to the side, just far enough away from Hellhound so that he could avoided the fangs and fire.

“You found me,” he teased lightly. His mouth kept moving, and he unable to hide the sarcasm dripping him his lips like poisoned honey, “Just—Wow, freaking awesome. So good to see you.”

“You’re not hard to sense,” Fenrir growled back, his voice a violent press against Oikawa's skull. “You smell like a storm even amongst all this fire.”

Oikawa’s eyebrow twitched as he thought of Iwaizumi. “I smell like a fresh summer rain and yet he still wasn’t totally interested in me. I’m even more offended now.”

And with that, Oikawa hoisted Yahaba onto his back and flew out pf the building as fast as the winds could carry him before Hellhound could snap at them again. Just as he was leaving the hospital, though, Glyph zipped right past him, firing four blasts in succession at Hellhound. Oikawa stuttered in his flying, narrowly managing to avoid hitting the hero. At any other point, he would’ve loved to crash into Glyph, maybe dislocate a shoulder in the process, but he was too concerned with carrying Yahaba at the moment to really give it that much thought. Another time perhaps.

“Stay out of my way!” Glyph shouted, darting into the building, followed closely behind by Horned Owl and Crossvine.

“How about you learn how to fly properly, show up on time to a crisis, not be a ill-tempered dick all the time and then maybe I’ll leave the saving the world shtick to you? How about that, huh?” Oikawa listed like a bite, all the ire built up from having to dive into fire time after time rushing out of him like a raging river. “Hellhound has been merrily stomping around for who knows how long now. You so-called heroes are late and have the goddamn nerve to tell me to stay out of your way? Heroes are the fucking worst!”

And . . . Glyph wasn’t even listening. Heroes. Go figure.

Oikawa quickly delivered Yahaba’s unconscious body to the doctors on the other side of the police barricade, where ambulances were lined up like a military formation and drawing away to take the wounded to another hospital. Luckily, a doctor was there, short and with a name tag that read Dr. Yaku. He seemed to know Yahaba, so Oikawa felt safe leaving him there. He searched the faces of the crowd around, trying to see is he could catch a glimpse of any silver, but there was no sign of Silver Fox. If his villain bestie wasn’t here, then what was the point, really? This was —had certainly started out as— supposed to be a good day for Oikawa, and here he was stuck dealign with heroes and the demon from his childhood.

He could run. He could head back to the bakery and pretend like this wasn’t happening, that the police had sent him back before he’d gotten to Yahaba, but as Oikawa looked back, a fire engine rushing by, its sirens blaring, he felt a moral tug to go back and help. There were people still in the hospital, burning or frightened beyond all recognition. There heroes were currently acting as the decoys to draw Fenrir’s attention away from the hospital so that the nurses and doctors could get their patents out of the burning building.

The problem was this: Fenrir didn’t give a damn about Glyph, Crossvine or Horned Owl. They had crossed paths only a number of times and had never done anything to leave a lasting impression. The demon wolf was fickle like that. Oikawa, however, from many years ago had made sure that Fenrir would remember him. If there was anyone to distract Fenrir, it was Oikawa. He was scared, almost feeling like the little kid he had been back then, unsure of his newfound superpowers and shaken to the core, but that ten-year-old had found the strength to stand up to Fenrir before. Oikawa could do it again, didn’t have a choice, really. He tried to convince himself that he would be able to live with himself if he left now, but he realistically knew he couldn’t.

“Goddamn it,” Oikawa sighed under his breath, taking off back into the sky, summoning enough lightning that would hurt Hellhound enough to attract attention. “I hate how I’m such a good person.”

Oikawa charged back into in the fray to try and help the heroes in whatever way he could. Sure, he definitely wanted to see the heroes to be crushed, morally, emotionally and physically, yes, but he wanted to be the one that brought them down. It just wouldn’t be as satisfying if they died or were forced to reconsider being a hero because of Fenrir.

Summoning lightning was such an ego boost, really, because, when you think about it, you’re summing fucking beams of electrostatic discharge. Oikawa felt so damn powerful whenever he saw the lightning light up his entirety, making him stand out like a beacon in the stormy skies he created. He liked to think he was like Thor (but he also liked he think he was way hotter than that nordic godling blondie).

Oikawa was fully resolved to blast Hellhound and consequently be chased all over Tokyo by the greatest haunting of his childhood, even though he was shaking like he was made of string. However, even with all the energy built up, he didn’t get to release it as three wisps of white surged past him and exploded against Hellhound, which had been simply snapping at Glyph’s photon blasts like they were nothing more than pesky gnats. The monster let out a snarl as it tumbled down to the ground, effectively crushing a large portion of the hospital. Oikawa actually gasped as he heard people scream in horror at the new development of the scene.

Out of all the many things Oikawa had anticipated to take place during this fight, he had certainly not seen this coming. Target-coordinated missiles, usually fired from and by the Ministry of Defense. Normally, the government, in these kinds of matters, takes a step back and lets whatever happens happen, so they can go on TV and send their “thoughts and prayers” to all those who need them in these “trying times.” It was unusual to see such drastic action taken.

However, when he glanced down, he noticed Sawamura Daichi, the police chief shooting something into his phone. Oh . . . So, that wasn’t a government sanctioned action? That made this whole situation more delicate than it had been before. Fun.

Seizing the opportunity, Oikawa sent he beams of lightning from his fingers to strike at Hellhound, kicking his opponent while he was down. The wolf howled and the city shook. Oikawa, in a often moment of brilliance, clapped his hands together, creating a thunder wave to cancel out the piercing sound of Fenrir. It worked, but it did probably make every piece of glass in Tokyo shatter when the sounds collided.

When the smoke of the explosions faded, all that anyone could see was the heroes, glancing around helplessly, but Hellhound was seemingly long gone. All that was left of him was fire, blood, and a giant crater where he’d last stood. The fire engines moved in and started dousing the fires as quickly as they could, medics moving in to save any people still trapped under the destruction.

Oikawa moved himself to hover just above the three heroes. “Well, thank you all so much for your hard work today,” he drawled sarcastically, essentially lounging in midair, like he was lying back across a couch. “I’m certain the whole of Tokyo is so grateful for your dedication and—oh, wait, the glory goes to me this time, doesn’t it?”

Crossvine glared up at him like a disapproving father.

“I did your work for you,” Oikawa continued, smirking. “The least you three losers could do is thank me. I saved a lot of people, you know. I don’t have to take your thanks, because there’s all those kids that would probably give me their Halloween candy as thanks, but I want to hear you, especially you, Glyph, say it.”

Glyph looked like he was about to haul off and shout at him, maybe blast Oikawa with his photon canons, but Horned Owl flew up between the villain and heroes. He floated in front of Oikawa, his large wings flapping hard enough to create a breeze. “My cousin was in that hospital,” he said, uncharacteristically calm. Then, very much in character, he wrapped Oikawa in crushing hug that was so intense Oikawa was fairly certain his ribs were bruised. “I saw you on TV, Vortex, you saved him. Thank you!”

The hug didn’t last long enough for Oikawa to even pat the hero on the head and say “there, there, child,” because Horned Owl pulled away and gave him a big, toothy, triumphant smile, clapping him on the back with an absurd amount of strength for someone has a bird name.

“You’d make a good hero, Vortex.”

What an unpleasant way to thank me, Oikawa thought to himself, wrinkling his nose in displeasure before flying away with a bad taste in his mouth.

* * * * * *

The room was still, no one daring to speak a word as they watched from the comfort of the various charts and bean bags spread out, but they were all tense with anticipation as they waited for their moment. Up on the TV screen, the team watched as new reporters recounted the events of that morning. When they all saw the missiles appear on screen, they cheered loudly. They watched Hellhound fall and there were high fives all around. On the first try, they were successful. Sure, the monster probably wasn’t dead, but they didn’t care about that as much as proving Ushijima Wakatoshi’s theory to be correct.

Using Tendou’s tricky divination and Ushijima’s planning, they could hack in and take control of weapons. They could definitely use this for their cause. The only issue was that they were noticed, and now the entire government plus the police were notified that someone was after the weapons. It would prove to be another puzzle to figure out, but they had Tendou, so all would proceed accordingly.

“That was the most opportune moment for a test run. Good work, Tendou,” Ushijima praised, wooden.

Tendou Satori beamed under the praise and he sent a knowing grin to Semi, as he kicked his feet up to rest on another chair. The other made a face at him but nods nonetheless. Meanwhile, Shirabu bristled with annoyance but then took breath to compose himself. The rest of the team returned their attention to their leader. Thanks to Tendou’s lucky guess and Ushijima’s resolve as a leader, the first attempt at taking over and firing the defense missiles from the Japanese Ministry of Defense had been a complete success. Now, it was time to take on the big fish.

Ushijima stood up straight and typed a few things on his computer and pulled up a few images to project onto the drawing board. Power plants releasing smog came up and everyone flinched. Everyone waited patiently for their leader to get his notes together, except for Tendou who happily beat out a nonsensical rhythm against his thighs, even reaching over to slap Ushijima’s to get a different sound in. His leader had no comment onto action but let it happen because, as usual, there was no stopping Tendou when he was having fun.

“The Qiángdà power plants in China are one of the leading coal manufacturers that are releasing well over thirty million metric tons, in American terms, of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. They have been told that they are damaging our planet, but like many other manufacturers and power plants, they are more focused on the money than the damage they cause,” Ushijima explained professionally.

“I think that’s the most I’ve ever heard Ushijima say about anything,” Goshiki murmured in awe, leaning forward as if he might learn more from their leader if he was closer.

“Lil’ Bowl Cut here is impressed by anything Ushijima does,” Shirabu snickered to himself, but loud enough to vex the other. “How cute.”

Which resulted in Goshiki sending him the nastiest glare he could manage. Goshiki kicked his leg out and managed to trip up Shirabu’s chair enough to knock him flat on his ass. “Are you really going to talk about my hair when you look like you just walked out of an ONE OK ROCK music video?”

“Stop bickering, you two, and listen to Ushijima,” Ohira Reon scolded from the corner of the small room.

The two fell silent and turned back to their leader who had been waiting patiently for their arguing to come to a close. He clicked something on his laptop and a map popped up with various locations spread across what was the country of China. These had to be their targets in China that they would be disposing of.

“First, we’ll go after the plants of the Qiángdà Company that produce more carbon dioxide than the others and move on from there. No point in going overboard,” Ushijima continued. There was the slightest hint of victory in his voice, like he was looking forward to the challenge of taking down these big corporations, but his expression did nothing to prove that. Just as much a statue as ever. “Next, we’ll topple the various gas companies in America. China and America are the top two worries at the moment. Once we’ve made ourselves heard in those locations, we can hope that companies will begin to change their ways of creating powers and electricity out of fear of our display.”

“Break the hearts of the rich, heartless bastards and then victory for us!” Tendou sang, raising his arms to create a V shape and doing some sort of wiggle dance in his chair. “We’ll win and save the day!”

Ushijima nodded and he almost smiled at Tendou. Oh well, Tendou would definitely get him to smile next time. “We’ve known for a long time now, all of us here, that it was up to us to do something. We have to act and be the strongest force or there will be no change.”

* * * * * *

“So, you’re telling me,” Yahaba started, his voice clouded with static over FaceTime, “that the hot boy, Kyoutani Kentarou, is the same boy who made a pact with the demon wolf Fenrir that haunted your childhood and resulted in trauma for your entire family.”

“You got it,” Oikawa smiled, looking down at his phone. He was glad Yahaba knew his secret. It gave him someone other than Silver Fox to talk to about his problems, or straight up complain about Glyph. Oikawa and a lot to complain about when it came to Glyph. “Glad to know you’re doing okay, though, Yahaba. Can’t have that pretty face of yours messed up, can we?”

Yahaba huffed. He looked uncomfortable in the hospital bed, even though everyone from the Blue Bakery had sent him their coziest blankets and pillows to make his overnight stay more easier to take. “I’m fucking confused is what I am, Oikawa. He didn’t say anything about it.”

“Yahaba, would saying that you’re possessed by a demon wolf spirit be the first thing out of your mouth when introducing yourself?” Oikawa chuckled.

“Well, no, but some warning would be nice, you know? A typical “stay away from me I’m too dangerous” sort deal, you know? Maybe even lie to get me away, like say that he’s got illegal drugs on him and the police were after him. I would’ve definitely left his ass on street then and driven off. Simple as that.”

“No, you wouldn’t,” Oikawa reminded him.

“No, you’re right. I wouldn’t have. He was too hot for me to pass up, even with that mean glare of his.”

Not long after that, Yahaba hung up because the pain meds were beginning to kick in and he was drowsy to the point of incoherency. Oikawa stretched his arms and back, glancing out the front door of his bakery to admire the setting sun.

For such a hectic day of smoke and fire that had dusted the skies a charcoal grey, it surprised everyone in Tokyo that such a lovely evening sky followed not long afterwards. With the sky such a lovely swirl of tangerine, honey, lilac, and rose, you’d think this would’ve been the perfect opportunity for Oikawa to kick back and finally enjoy what was left of the day, take the goddamn break he was fairly certain he deserved after all his hard work, but here he was, still at the Blue Bakery.

It wasn’t a difficult order to fill. It would just require him to pull an all nighter to put together an amazing cake for a spontaneous couple. White cake, white buttercream, no fondant, dark chocolate ganache filling and finally edible pearls and white piping dusted with silver luster dust to mimic the bride’s bling on her dress. Oikawa loved baking wedding cakes, the elegance and celebration the they represented, so he was more than happy to stay up all night to make sure every decoration and flavor was the best it could be.

With soft jazz playing in the background, Oikawa spun the six-tier monster on the cake stand then pulled up the reference photo on his computer, while spooning royal icing into a pastry bag. He took a deep breath and started piping Fleur De Lis on all the borders on of the tiers with a steady hand, trying to reference the almost catholic veil. He wasn’t afraid of messing up because it was white on white, but he still had to be cautious due to the lack of fondant. It meant wiping away a mistake might be a dent in the flawless buttercream coating. Personally, he would’ve chosen a rose border to tie in to the bouquet of roses that would crown the top tier.

But what the bride wants, the bride gets, that was the first and foremost rule in making wedding cakes.

So, Oikawa started the long and arduous task of piping the three upside down tear drops using the star nozzle to create the Fleur De Lis. Short, swift movements, matching the rhythm of the jazz playing in the background. Songs passed by as he worked and worked. From Autumn Nocturne by Lou Donaldson to Nature Boy by Jan Johansson to Sunset Glow by Lemongrass and finally to I Got It Bad And That Ain’t Good by the Oscar Peterson Trio. He nearly jerked in surprise when Bullwinkle Pt. II by the Centurians came on, but eventually a smile lit up his face and he started working faster to keep with the more upbeat tempo, adding flourishes to his movements to match the strum of the guitar strings.

Oikawa was swaying and nodding his head to the beat, molding wine red modeling chocolate in his hands to resemble rose petals, when he abruptly stolen from his zone of contentment and heard the bell above the door to the front of the shop ding, signaling that someone had just walked into the bakery even with the closed sign front and center.

“Sorry,” Oikawa said, distractedly, raising his voice over the music as he went to lower the sound. He turned around to look at and address the customer, wiping his hands clean of the sticky royal icing that had already started to harden on the soft skin of his palms. “We’re closed for today, but—”

Holy shit! This cannot be happening to me! he thought to himself for the second time that day.

It was Glyph, and Oikawa was caught between two different trains of thought. Do I flirt with him to throw him off whatever trail he was on, or should Oikawa make a break for it?

There was no denying, though, that . . . there he was! His arch-nemesis, his sworn rival, standing right in front of him with his arms ever so casually crossed over his chest, glancing around with the faintest of smiles as he took in the turquoise decor of the Blue Bakery. What’s more, more disturbing, was the bouquet of carnations that caught Oikawa’s eyes. Some were a lovely, snow white, the majority were a rich, violet purple, a few dark pink carnations were scattered here and there so bright that they resembled freshly pulled saltwater taffy in color, and the others were a wine red that reminded Oikawa of roses. Naturally, they were beautiful, but 1) how the fuck did Glyph know his favorite type of flower, and 2) why was he here with a bouquet of them?

It was at this point that Oikawa’s playlist decided to switch on him and make the situation all the more awkward by suddenly blaring out Great Balls of Fire by Jerry Lee Lewis. Fortunately, Oikawa managed to slide over and mute his phone before it got too far into the song, his cheeks aflame with chagrin. He considered himself lucky, though. At least, Get Some hadn’t been what started playing.

With his back turned to the hero, Oikawa allowed the slightly gather composure to slip just a little. He was beginning to panic. What could he do to get out of this, to fool the hero? In any case, how had Glyph figured out that Oikawa was Vortex? Who tipped him off? It couldn’t have been Silver Fox, they were besties. He shook his head and made a decision. How could he spin this to his favor?

Oikawa turned around with a big, fake smile and tried a, “Hello?” He kept smiling because he was internally screaming because of course his voice would crack now of all times. It was due to his uncertainty of the whole situation but still.

The hero smiled at him, something so honest and kind, that Oikawa’s stomach didn’t know whether to be sick or be filled with butterflies because wow that was cute but eww that was cute. Meeting the hero’s eyes, he noticed that they weren’t quite the piercing virescent he’d always seen them as, but something softer as he looked at Oikawa, a lively, green forest. They stood out so brilliantly from that black streak that looked like it was coal across his eyes. Wait a fucking minute. No, no, no, no! That was too much of a compliment, more than Glyph deserved.

It made him seem . . . attractive? Which he definitely, totally isn’t, Oikawa lied to himself, almost in a panic to feel sane again.

“Oikawa Tooru, right?” Glyph asked. He held out the bouquet to Oikawa. “These are for you.”

Oh, fuck me! He does have a crush on me, doesn’t he?! This is my curse for being too beautiful too handle, Oikawa lamented, stifling a groan of anxiety, as he tried to smile at the hero again. He should known this was the case. Of course Glyph couldn’t have actually made the connection that Oikawa was Vortex, he was too simple-minded to be that smart. It was actually way worse because if Oikawa didn’t play this right he would have a goddamn hero attempting to sort of court him. Question is this: Do I use it to my advantage or do I let him down harshly to crush him like I’ve always wanted to?

“I—Thank you,” Oikawa chuckled nervously, accepting the gift. He inconspicuously checked for some sort of bomb as he continued, “I didn’t know you heroes were downgraded to delivery boys. Is the pay that bad?” Why are you making a joke? Hurt him. No! Wait! If I hurt him too much he might genuinely make the connection that I’m Vortex! Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place.

He decided that he would play it cool for now until things got out of hand like if, gods forbid, Glyph asked him out on a date.

“Do you like it?” Glyph asked, motioning to the bouquet.

“I love it,” Oikawa lied, his cheeks starting hurt from smiling for so long. “Really, thank you, but what are these for exactly? I don’t think we’ve met.” Just tried to kill each other a couple times.

“Got a friend in the area so I’ve seen you around a bit,” the hero replied, rocking back and forth on his heels after shoving his hands into the pockets of his long, brown coat. “So, let’s just say that you really caught my eye and I wanted to talk to you.”

Please don’t say that, Oikawa pleaded. “Who’s your friend?” he asked, genuinely curious. A link to possibly learning Glyph’s identity. “Do I know them?”

“Uh,” Glyph hesitated, probably taking the time of the pause to look for an excuse. “He wants his name to be a bit of a secret, you know? Wouldn’t want any villains to figure out that he knew me, then he would become a target.”

“No, we certainly wouldn’t want that to happen,” Oikawa smiled, trying his best not to sound sarcastic. It was painful, being this fake, but it seemed to be working because, from the looks of it, Glyph didn’t suspect a damn thing. He played with the petals of the carnations, saving the butter soft texture.

“Well, um, you look like you’re kind busy tonight,” Glyph said, looking past Oikawa to glance at the cake. His eyes widened in awe, and Oikawa let a swell of pride move through him. That’s right, Oikawa was damn good at what he did. “You’re really talented. That cake is beautiful. Is it for a wedding?”

I’m actually begging you, please go away! “Yes, I actually need to have it finished by tomorrow,” Oikawa replied.

“Oh, well, I guess I should let your get back to work then. It was good to finally talk to you. I’ll leave you to it.” Glyph made his way to the door, with a timorous wave of his hand and a small smile. “If it’s okay, I might drop in when you’re open and buy some of your stuff.”

Oikawa actually felt his skin crawl. “That would be . . . amazing, thank you,” he huffed out and disguising it as a sigh of anticipation, trying to appear excited when he was more in a state of pure dread. “I’m always happy to be able to give treats to our great heroes.” Oh gods, he hated saying that sentence so damn much.

And then the hero was gone, disappearing into the late evening. Meanwhile, Oikawa walked back over to his phone, picked a random song and playing it a full volume so he could scream like a maniac in an asylum. First Hellhound/Fenrir makes an appearance and nearly kills Yahaba, next Horned Owl insults Oikawa by saying Vortex would be a great hero, and then Glyph decides to waltz right into Oikawa’s life in a new way and take a romantic interest in him?

This really was a horrible day to be Oikawa Tooru.

Chapter Text

Akaashi Keiji had reached that horrible state of exhaustion in which he had stopped giving a single fuck. You know, a normal feeling.

Working at Fukurodani, the Japanese Branch for the Worldwide Hero Agency, was one of the most stressful jobs any one person could apply for. Sure, you get paid quite a good sum of money (and who doesn’t like that?) but you have to deal with heroes. Like how technicians and stage managers always get pissed off at actors, the agents of the the Hero Agency wanted to sometimes murder the heroes they worked with. Paperwork was a goddamn nightmare, setting up meetings and making sure the heroes showed up was a hassle, and then there was the rock-paper-scissors competition to see who would have to send certain types of warnings to areas in Japan where a huge fight might break out between heroes and a powerful villain or two.

In university, they say it’s quite like being an insurance agent, so Akaashi had thought to himself, Hmm, okay, I can definitely handle that. How bad could working with heroes be? This led to predicament of Present Day Akaashi Keiji wanting to go back in time and strangle University Days Akaashi Keiji. Maybe he could sort through his files to find a hero with the Timeskip ability so he could actually accomplish that . . .

There was a knock at his door, and Akaashi Keiji lifted his tired eyes to the door to find Bokuto Koutarou a.k.a Horned Owl standing there with an obnoxiously bright smile that had the effect of going outside with a hangover on Akaashi. Don’t get him wrong, of the many heroes he had to deal with, Bokuto was one of the best. Impatient and emotional, yes, but hardworking and kindhearted in every way. It was just that Akaashi was so fucking tired, too tired to even deal with the most attractive hero with muscles to die for that Akaashi knew.

But Bokuto was Bokuto . . . He would always be an exception because he managed brighten every dark day for Akaashi.

“Akaashi! It’s so good to see you! How’ve you been? I can see you’re really busy!” Bokuto proceeded to practically bounce into his office. “I’m here to pick up my check! Sawamura said there should be a bonus for me because, just the other day, I covered a patrol shift for Glyph! Did you know that he has a crush on a baker near him? I think it’s really funny because he’s going about everything so backwards! I’m no master of romance but I really feel like I’d still do a better job than him!”

“I’m sure you would, Bokuto-san,” Akaashi nodded, standing up and heading over to his cabinet. Horned Owl. Okay, so H . . . Wait, or did he have it under Owl, Horned? He was so tired. “I’ve been well enough, thank you for asking. Yourself?”

“I’m doing great!” Bokuto exclaimed, happily plopping down in one of the chairs in front of Akaashi’s desk while he waited. “I’m glad to hear that you’re doing so well. I always get so worried that you’re not happy with your career—” Really, what gave it away? “—because you always look like you’re about to drop dead or tell someone they’re too much of an idiot.”

“I don’t think everyone is an idiot, Bokuto-san,” Akaashi sighed in reply, “just people who prove themselves to be an idiot.”

“Am I an idiot?” Bokuto asked curiously. It didn’t sound like he was asking because he was suspicious of Akaashi.

“No, you’re not, Bokuto-san.”

Horned Owl. There it is and the check should be just after his the letters from the Tokyo PD concerning all the jobs he’d completed . . . There it is! Akaashi took a few seconds to smile at all the letters sent in by citizens, thanking the hero for all his good work. Bokuto Koutarou truly was amazing.

“I so want you to call Kuroo and tell him that for me! He calls me an idiot all the time! Well, he calls me his idiot, but he’s just so hard to read sometimes. Like, Akaashi, he’s tall, mischievous and can be really, you know, nice? But then he can also be a bit of a dick, a calculated dick, but not so mean that it’s a turn off. You know?”

“Bokuto-san,” Akaashi managed to get out, feeling the world give out from under him, not not just because he was tired. He felt a tight restriction in his chest, like something, some feeling, was trying to crush him. Hurt. He squashed it down so he couldn’t feel it anymore and move on. Acceptance. “I believe he is using “idiot” as a term of endearment. I think he likes you.”

Bokuto’s golden eyes widened to the size of marbles. His mouth dropped open, dumbstruck and then he broken into fit of gleeful laughter. Bokuto shone so brightly when he was happy. You couldn’t but feel the warmth and comfort and liveliness he emanated and when it came to Akaashi, he was weak whenever Bokuto smiled, when he laughed, in the same way that he felt whenever Bokuto was vexed, melancholic. It was impossible to feel nothing when you’re around Bokuto.

“You really think Kuroo likes me, Akaashi?”

“I think he does, Bokuto-san.”

“That’s awesome! Ooh, I should ask him out! Maybe the movies, or karaoke! Kuroo has a really cool voice, and I bet he’s a great singer, since he plays guitar so well.”

Of course this Kuroo plays guitar. I never stood a chance, Akaashi thought bitterly to himself.

Right now, he could convince himself that he was happy for the hero. Bokuto deserved someone who made him happy. Akaashi was just saddened that it wasn’t him.

Luckily, he didn’t get time to dwell on his feelings (not only because he didn’t want to) because Kageyama burst into his office. Akaashi was in the middle of giving Bokuto his check, shaking his hand and thanking him for all his dedication, when he saw the newest employee nearly rip the door off its hinges.

“Kageyama,” Akaashi addressed calmly, blinking in surprise. “Ever heard of knocking?”

“Yes, sir! I have!” Kageyama replied, standing up straight and adjusting his work clothes. “There’s something you have to see right now!”

“I don’t want to hear you complain about Fire Flash’s collateral damage reports again.”

“No, sir. I mean, sure, he could stand to be way more careful. We had to replace over twenty lamp posts just last week, and he leaves skid marks every time he comes to a stop, sometimes even denting pavement, which means which means we have to go in and lay a new—”

“Kageyama.” Akaashi sighed, hanging his head to hide his amusement, because it was always so funny to watch Kageyama flail with his violent crush on the ginger, speedy hero, who already had a boyfriend, his complete opposite. He felt sorry for his underling, mainly because he knew how he felt now. “What’s going on, really?”

“Yeah, what’s up?” Bokuto asked, cocking his head to the side. “Is it Hellhound again?”

“Worse!” Kageyama exclaimed. “Japanese Ministry of Defense reworked their security of the missiles, but they’ve been hacked again. Five power plants belonging to the Qiángdà Company have been targeted and hit. Both of the ministries of Japan and China are calling us, demanding to know what the Hero Agency is going to do about the situation.”

Akaashi really would’ve appreciated a long nap before having to deal with this shit.

* * * * * *

“Devastation rips through China as five power plants Qiángdà Company were utterly destroy due to several rogue missiles were fired from Japan’s Ministry of Defense. Reports say that there were little to no survivors from the tragic event. Our Ministry of Defense. The Japanese government denies any involvement in setting off the weapons, stating that they were fired by hackers that have been a current menace. Ensuring the security of the weapons is now the top priority of the government at this time. We send thoughts and prayers to every family impacted by this tragedy.”

“According to the Ministry of Defense, the Japanese branch of the Hero Agency, and Police Chief Sawamura Daichi, it is currently unknown as to how these hackers are infiltrating our system, and due to this, every hero in Japan and China is out on patrol more than ever. The two countries are on high alert since the event and since a video having to do with the current attack. It has reached over ten million views from all over the world. In the video, it shows the hackers in masks resembling white eagles, making several intense threats concerning the environment and all companies to be more careful in their ways. They encourage the companies to start lowering the amount of pollution they release or that their plants will be “reduced to rubble.” Here’s a clip of the video now:”

Across the screen came a white flash. A group of men stood in front of the camera dressed in maroon suits, and masks indeed resembled white eagles. The masks were pure paper white with silhouettes of wings at the tips of the white, plastic edges. One of them stepped forward, with a voice like stone being crushed into gravel. “We don’t wish to harm anyone, but if we don’t work to save our oceans, our land and our atmosphere, then it won’t matter in the end. Big money companies care only for the money they pull in, and care nothing for the people and land they hurt. We advise companies like Qiángdà to re-examine their ways or they will be reduced to rubble.” There was another final flash and reporters were back onscreen.

“Grim words, indeed. Hopefully, our government officials and heroes can stop these hackers before anyone else can be hurt.”

* * * * * *

“So . . . Did you happen to catch the news this morning?”

“I would have to be blind to not see that bullshit, Matsukawa,” Iwaizumi grumbled, kicking open the door to his shop, while juggling multiple bags and his phone crushed between his shoulder and cheek. “I get wanting to protect the environment, I do, I have a recycling bin, but is terrorism really the way to go about it? Scientists and politicians already discount environmental studies, this will only make everything harder for those that are actually doing the research.”

“I get you, but that’s probably why they’ve resorted to this. No one listened to them and they took matters into their own hands.”

Iwaizumi made his way back to his station after setting down his bags so he could begin to sort through his paints. He had a customer coming in way later today to get his tattoo sleeve colored in and Iwaizumi wanted to have everything ready specially for him. If all went well, this guy could be a new regular. So, he wanted everything in order so he could impress the customer with how efficient he was.

“It’s still an act of terrorism, blowing up power plants,” Iwaizumi replied. “They killed well over a thousand people.”

“I know. Sawamura already sent out a text saying he wants to see us as soon as possible. Lunch meeting work for you? I know you have an appointment later today.”

“Yeah, much later,” Iwaizumi mumbled, distracted, as he had to suddenly church down to catch a bottle of paint before it hit the floor. “Are they going to be there?” It was going to be a pretty hectic day already, what with incoming customers, going to to talk to Oikawa again, the meeting, and then that customer later today. The last thing he needed was a pair of villains coming in and ruining their productivity.

“Silver Fox and Vortex will be there, yeah,” Matsukawa answered, as casually as he could. Iwaizumi groaned and kicked at a nearby stool. “I know, I know! I don’t want them there either, but you have to admit . . . Vortex saved a lot of people, kids especially. He didn’t have to do that, but he did.”

Iwaizumi didn’t say anything. Instead, he clenched his fists so hard he could feel his nails break the soft skin of his palms.

Matsukawa broke it to him, “Look, he’s a hero in the eyes of those people, Iwaizumi. Maybe we just need to give him a chance. Maybe he isn’t as bad as he used to be.”

“From the way he fought the first night Hellhound appeared, he hasn’t changed,” Iwaizumi growled. “Years ago, he attacked Asahi and Nishinoya, forcing them to retire early, and they’re not the only ones. He’s attacked heroes before, countless times. He’s a villain, trough and through.”

“Yeah, heroes, though, Iwaizumi. Not innocent civilians. Do you know his motives?”

“Matsukawa, he—”

“I’m not defending him, Iwaizumi. I just want to understand him. If we can get him to stop targeting heroes, then maybe he could become a respectable hero.”

“So, Sawamura wants to see us around lunch?” Iwaizumi changed the subject as quickly as he could. He didn’t think he could continue this conversation for much longer before eventually blowing up at his best friend, and Matsukawa did not deserve to be yelled for simply bringing up valuable points, no matter how much Iwaizumi hated it. “I’ll fly over there in an hour or so. There’s something I have to take care of first.”

“Hmm, I do wonder what that could be, Iwaizumi. Does this something have to do with the cute baker you keep daydreaming about?”

“How did you—?”

“Tanaka and Nishinoya. They say you won’t shut up about him. So, are you gonna confess your undying love to him or—”

Iwaizumi hung up instead of replying to any of that. Really, though, it was because he didn’t have a plan as to what he was going to do when he saw Oikawa other than Step 1) begin an interesting conversation that will make Oikawa happy, and Step 2) find a time to invite him to get coffee. It shouldn’t be that difficult to accomplish, especially as Glyph.

All things considered, Iwaizumi thought the night he visited Oikawa in the Blue Bakery to be a huge success. Sure, he hadn’t actually gotten around to apologizing outright for “Iwaizumi’s mistake,” but he couldn’t help it. He’d gotten lost track of what he’d been there to do once he saw Oikawa smile at the bouquet of carnations and then how he’d stared at Iwaizumi. Given his reaction to the flowers and Glyph being there, did that mean Oikawa was a fan of Glyph’s hero work? The very thought had him sillily giddy, more validated than when he’d received his first ever love letter during his third year of high school.

Oikawa had a hero crush on Glyph. This might work out even better than Iwaizumi could’ve hoped for.

It had been a few days now since that night and Iwaizumi judged that he’d waited to appropriate amount of time. He could visit Oikawa as Glyph again, maybe buy a few snacks before the meeting at the Tokyo Police Department. Undoubtedly, Vortex would be giving them all the information he had on Hellhound/Fenrir. So, desperate to have something t=nice to think about, Iwaizumi changed into his Glyph attire and walked to the Blue Bakery as quickly as he could.

He stood just outside, his heart thudding wildly in his chest like a stampede. He just couldn’t calm down. He would be fine once he took the first step inside, once he inhaled the amazingly sweet scent of Oikawa’s pastries. He wanted to take that first, he did, but what if he screwed up? What if he somehow managed to make Oikawa hate Glyph too? Then he didn’t have a chance in hell at getting a second chance with the baker.

Iwaizumi wasn’t always the best with words, but he liked to think that he was often stable enough to get his point across, but with Oikawa, he always managed to slip up somehow, his mind went completely blank to the point where he couldn’t remember who he was supposed to be, Iwaizumi or Glyph. Oikawa left him speechless, tore down his walls and disguises with his bog, doe brown eyes, his soft, genuine smiles, and his little teases. This time, Iwaizumi was really going to try and give Oikawa the compliments he deserved.

However, as he reached to pull the door open, the baker he was just thinking about came bursting out of the bakery, tripping over his own feet, haphazardly slinging on his jacket. He managed to stumble right into Iwaizumi’s arms which had gone out to catch him or keep him steady and now . . . Holy shit, he was holding Oikawa. From the way he’d fallen against the hero, their chests were pressed flushed against one another, Oikawa’s hands resting on Iwaizumi’s shoulders, and their noses inches apart so they had no choice but to stare into each other’s eyes.

Oh,” Oikawa squeaked, his cheeks flushing a cute shade of carmine as he looked at Iwaizumi. Quickly, he righted himself and put some space between him and the hero, brushing imaginary dust to give himself a second to breathe. Iwaizumi just smiled at him, though. He looked really good, well put together. Comfortable, khaki pants, a grey shirt that read HURRICANE, a pair of good tennis shoes, and a navy blue coat.

“Glyph, um, wow. I really wasn’t expecting to see you back here so soon.” He was fussing with his hair now, like he was trying to make himself presentable to the hero.

“Well,” Iwaizumi started, clearing his throat and scratching the back of his neck. “I mean I did say that I wanted to try some of your treats last time, so . . . here I am.”

“Here you are,” Oikawa repeated, giggling nervously, seemingly dumbstruck. “Help yourself. I heartily recommend my cream puffs, but my strawberry shortcake is to die for, I will say.” He motioned for Iwaizumi to go ahead and enter the bakery, but it was clear that he wouldn’t be following.

But Iwaizumi wasn’t only here for some treats, he was here to talk to Oikawa. “I actually wanted to talk to you too, get to know you a little,” Iwaizumi admitted bashfully, feeling his heart in his throat. Mentally, he gave himself a good slap in the face and asked the question: “We could maybe grab some coffee on your way out?”

“Uh—”

“Or maybe some other time, if this doesn’t work for you. Whatever does, works for me. My schedule is flexible,” Iwaizumi backtracked quickly.

Oikawa blinked at him owlishly, oh those eyes were so fucking pretty, like the question had broken him. Then his expression drooped into something apologetic as he offered Iwaizumi a half-hearted smile. “Um, raincheck? I really need to go now if I want to make it on time to meet up with Suga, and I don’t know when I’ll be back.”

“Where are you going?” Iwaizumi asked curiously, stuffing his hands his his pockets. “I could fly you there, if you’d like.”

“Oh, no thanks, Glyph, but I wouldn’t want to trouble you, and I bet your schedule isn’t all that flexible.” Oikawa glanced to the side as Iwaizumi raised an eyebrow at him, still demanding answer for where he was going. He was definitely not giving the whole story. “And I’m leaving to um, . . . Milk almonds?” 

That was a new one. Iwaizumi had been told and given a lot of excuses in his time, but he’d to hear this. Before he and Matsukawa knew each other’s identities but had met before, Iwaizumi had been on a call with him and said that he too busy falling out a window to come over. It hadn’t taken long after that for them to figure out that they were both heroes.

“You’re leaving . . . to milk almonds?”

“Someone’s gotta do it?” Oikawa tried pathetically. He rocked back and forth on the back of his heels. He must be so nervous to talk to a hero, especially if he’s a fan, Iwaizumi wondered to himself. That’s fucking adorable. He didn’t get voice that thought, though, because Oikawa began to babble, “How else are we supposed to get almond milk? Our lactose intolerant citizens deserve milk too. Milk is great, you know. Keeps us normal, innocent citizens, who haven’t done anything wrong, strong, just like you heroes.”

“Oikawa,” Iwaizumi laughed. Flustered Oikawa was too adorable to handle. Confidence gone and now he was just a guy with a crush on a hero. “I don’t think that’s how we get almond milk, if you just don’t want to—”

Oikawa’s phone started ringing, the sound of Lady gaga’s Applause rang out in the space between them, effectively interrupting Iwaizumi before he could see anything else. The baker tittered nervous before glancing down at his phone, holding up a finger to let Iwaizumi know that he would be just a second.

“Oh, would you look at the time? My friend Suga is calling me. He’s probably wondering where I am and where the almonds are.” Yes, Iwaizumi thought in his head, deadpan response he didn’t dare to voice yet. Suga, a researcher of heroes and their superpowers, is wanting to know where the almonds are so he could help you milk them. Cause that seems totally probable. “I guess I gotta go now if I don’t want to be any later. Nice talking to you, okay? Cool, have a great day, Glyph?”

Oikawa offered Iwaizumi a big smile before leaving to hop onto a nearby bus stopped at the bus station just on the corner of the the block, and riding away. Iwaizumi hadn’t even had time to get another word in, not even a See you later, Oikawa! or a I’ll drop by later and ask about that coffee date again! Anything! He felt hurt, rejected really, because a small part of him worried that Oikawa was running away to get get away from him, not really to meet up with Suga. It hurt, but he was determined to clear the air with Oikawa and try again for a coffee date.

Admittedly, it was also a little suspicious, but this was Oikawa Tooru. The cute baker down the street, all flashy smiles and dazzling eyes, a broadway production of flair. He was cute, and far from vicious. Iwaizumi was more than certain that he wasn’t doing anything considered unlawful.

Something to look forward to while he suffered through another meeting with Vortex and Silver Fox. So, with a deep breath, Iwaizumi summoned the wings from the large tattoos on his back. Two parallel wings that looked like a mechanical angel’s wings, his skin making them appear like they were metallic, copper. It was painful to summon them, but once he had them out, he felt as light as air. They didn’t appear like the pattern on his back, but shimmering and clear, like they were made of glass. He considered himself lucky that they weren’t like his photon canons, breaking and forming through his skin, but he just summoned them and they appeared.

Flying over Tokyo was nice because there was no traffic to hold him up. He could fly as fast or as leisurely as he desired. He might or might not have kept an eye on the bus that Oikawa was riding on, but it eventually veered off in the opposite direction of the police station so he had no choice but to tear his eyes away and fly on. It was difficult to leave Oikawa to go off on his own, the worry he’d felt from he saw the wreckage of the Seibo Hospital coming back at full force. He’d been such a mess when he’d seen the footage, thinking that he never got the opportunity for hurting Oikawa’s feelings, for not getting to apologize and make things right.

He shook his head, rubbing his eyes, righting himself to continue flying.

When you picture a superhero flying, what do you see? Ironman with his little jets? Superman with his classic Superman pose? Thor with his hammer?

All pretty heroic looking, right? Well, unless Iwaizumi was out fighting crime, he did not fly around like any of your classic heroes. His wings carried him without flapping or wind currents, they were magical, you could say. So, Iwaizumi could literally lie down, arms crossed behind his head as a makeshift pillow, in midair and his wings could carry him wherever he wanted them to. Sometimes he would do puzzle games on his phone or even get some shut eye a little as he flew. So, currently, Iwaizumi was daydreaming like an idiot with stupidly happy grin that he had to slap away so his cheeks would stop hurting.

He made it to the Tokyo Police Department in about fifteen minutes, as he paced himself. He walked in, past Kageyama Tobio arguing with Hinata, who looked like he was ready to square up. Meanwhile, Kenma was huddled behind his desk, playing a game on his phone. Probably Pokémon Go, the station was a pokestop, after all. Before he disappeared around the corner, he saw Kageyama casting a small glance at Kenma, who picked it up on it immediately and shrank away from the gaze, pulling his hoodie closer around himself. Hinata stood on his toes and got right in Kageyama’s face, his nose scrunched up as he shouted something about how Kageyama scared Kenma.

Iwaizumi raised an eyebrow when he thought he saw the faintest of blushes dust across his cheeks. Does Kageyama have a crush on Hinata . . . or Kenma? Or does he have a crush on both fo them?

Iwaizumi shrugged and made his way into the briefing room. That was for them to sort out. It wasn’t his place to be nosy. Undoubtedly, though, Vortex and Silver Fox would take an annoying amount of interest and try to get themselves involved in that drama.

“Glyph,” Sawamura greeted as Iwaizumi entered the room. “Glad you could make it. Have a seat.” The chief of police looked tired, dark circles under his eyes, and his tie was undone, simply resting on his shoulder. Knowing him, he hadn’t gone home in two days yet, being stuck between the Japanese government and the Hero Agency. So much was on his back, keeping the heroes in the know and then also making sure the streets of Tokyo are safe for innocent people.

“How’s life, Daichi?” Iwaizumi asked, settling into his chair.

“I’m just really tired, and I miss Su—my home—Home, yes, home. Miss my home. Akaashi Keiji and I have been up for almost three days now, nonstop. He’s just as much a mess as I am.”

Bokuto, with the biggest knowing smile known to mankind, slapped Sawamura on the back encouragingly. “It’s okay, Daichi! Suga will be here soon and then you’ll feel better.”

“I never said that I miss Suga.”

“No, you started saying his name and then said something else instead, but we all know what you meant.” Bokuto laughed, “Face it, Daichi. You miss Suga so much that he’s the first thing you think about. He’s like your battery, he recharges you because you like him so much.”

Sawamura groaned. “Someone’s in a good mood today.”

Bokuto puffed out his chest with pride. “Of course I am. Akaashi helped me understand that Kuroo likes me. Which is awesome, because I really like Kuroo too . . . but—”

“I thought you had a thing for Akaashi?” Matsukawa asked, raising a very important point. He sat up a little, moving his chair over so Iwaizumi could scoot closer to the table to rest his arms on the surface. “I mean, I saw that you had a connection with Kuroo, but I definitely knew that you were head over heels for Akaashi Keiji.”

“Well, yeah?” Bokuto confirmed, like it was obvious. He blinked at them with almost an amused expression. “Can’t I like both of them equally as much?”

No one got the opportunity to reply, to tell him that, yeah, it’s perfectly normal to like two people, even want a relationship with two people, because the door to the briefing room slammed open and Vortex and Silver Fox were standing around an awkward Sugawara Koushi, grinning like twin Cheshire Cats. Vortex was gleefully twirling a bright, blond strand between his fingers, the sight of which making Sawamura’s hands curl in fists, while Silver Fox poked the researcher’s cheek like a tease. Suga saw the police chief, smiled, and immediately fled towards the empty chair beside Sawamura, but the two villains merrily made their way to the last chairs available.

Vortex sat directly across from him, and the moment he laid eyes on the hero, his expression of glee turned to one of murder. Iwaizumi, nettled, kicked his feet up onto the table and grunted out a simple, “Can’t stand to see your ugly face anymore than I have to.” 

“Is it because my face is leagues prettier than yours?” Vortex snarked, putting on a smile so sweet it hurt Iwaizumi’s teeth. It was so false, a mask, hiding how desperately he wanted to electrocute him on the spot. “Believe me, Glyph, even with your disgustingly brutish face, you’ll find love someday. I hear the gorillas in the zoo are looking for mates, try there, one of them is bound to like you if you put out enough.”

“Fuck you,” Glyph snarled.

“I wish someone would, just not you.”

“No, you deserve someone better, Vortex,” Silver Fox agreed, nodding.

“Thanks, babe.”

“I will always support you.”

“Are you two ready to finally shut up?” Suga snipped, looking up from sorting through his bag and laying out papers. Research, Iwaizumi saw. Suga must’ve been working hard to get every scrap of information he could. They probably put him front and center to help see if any powers had a hand in the hacking. “We don’t have time for rivalry banter and . . . what ever you two have going on.”

“Aw, little researcher is all bark and no bite,” Silver Fox mused, leisure leaning back in his seat. “What’re you gonna do if we don’t shut up?” He leaned over to Sawamura and grinned, his eyes glancing downwards,“I bet you know a way to shut me up, chief. Want to give it a try, big boy?”

“I just want to go home,” Sawamura groaned, running his hands over his face, thoroughly stressed. 

“What a coincidence, Sawamura, I want to go home with you for some explicitly sexual fun. Shall we?”

Iwaizumi saw utter hatred flash through Sugawara’s eyes, like he had just been deeply offended. Without another word, he stood up and stalked around the table to deliver a brutal slap to the villain’s pale face. The sound, fateful and sharp resonated in the empty space. Vortex moved to stand to defend his friend, and the heroes stood to defend theirs, but with a wave of his hand, Silver Fox assured them that he was fine. Vortex sat back down, eyeing Sugawara with something he couldn’t decipher. They would catch the villains for now, but if either of them tried to lay a finger on Sugawara, someone with no powers, Iwaizumi knew that himself and Matsukawa and Bokuto wouldn’t hesitate to begin beating the heroes into dirt.

“Stop hitting on Daichi,” Sugawara spoke slowly, with finality.

“Why should I?” Silver Fox chuckled lazily, rolling his eyes. He was completely unaffected by Sugawara’s stand against him, slowly there was a dust of spreading across his cheeks from where he’d been brutally slapped. “I don’t see you making any moves on him. Staring at him with cartoon-y heart eyes won’t get you anywhere. I’m going for what I want.”

“All right!” Sawamura announced, standing up. He reached over and pulled Sugawara back to his side as gingerly as possible. “You have nothing to worry about, Suga,” he whispered, his voice slightly shaky as he stared admiringly at the researcher. “Not in a million years would I ever choose someone like him over you.”

Suga smiled, something so soft and kind, and reached forward. He tugged Sawamura’s tie down and began tying it loosely so the chief of police could feel less uptight but still look presentable.

Iwaizumi looked at Bokuto who clearly agreed, then at Matsukawa was inconspicuously taking a photo that would no doubt appear on their private group chat with some ridiculous caption. It was certainly odd to see Sawamura so flustered. He was a brick wall, strong and protective, his resolve immovable. It seemed that Sugawara was the one that was able to break him down and reveal his softer sides. It was just so freaking cute. Two morally upright individuals finding each other like that.

“Now,” Sawamura continued, clearing his throat and straightening his suit. “We have a lot to discuss today, gentlemen, so let’s table any arguments you might with one another and save them for a later date. Why don’t we start with you, Vortex? Tell us everything you know about Hellhound and why he might be possessing Kyoutani.”

All eyes turned to Vortex now, who had been casually leaning back in his seat and playing with paperclips. Once he realized that everyone would be listening intently to him, he preened under the attention, a big smile grown on his face. He folded his hands together, and took a deep breath before speaking. 

“Fenrir, who you all know as Hellhound, is a demon. I know you all call him the “demon wolf” because you hate him, but he really is a demon.”

“Demons don’t exist,” Matsukawa interrupted, raising a hand like he was in class. “They’re folklore.”

Vortex huffed. “Please save all questions and comments until the end of my Ted Talk, thank you.” That response seemed to satisfy Matsukawa, and Bokuto found it extremely funny, snickering under his breath, behind his hand.

“Not many of the demons you’ve heard about actually exist,” Vortex continued, “but Fenrir does. He doesn’t have one form. It changes with every host he claims or hovers over until they accept him. Once he takes over, according to history and personal experience, there’s no way get force him out of the bay without killing the host. He’s the worst kind of parasite.”

“So, there’s no way for to save Kyoutani?” Iwaizumi asked. “We can’t just beat the demon out of him.”

Annoyance flashed in Vortex’s eyes, and Iwaizumi raised his eyebrows as a challenge. “I’m going to ignore that I was just interrupted for a second time and move on. Obviously, we don’t want to kill Kyoutani Kentarou so we need to come up with a different solution to the problem. Ever since I first ran into him, I did research on him. There’s a way to silence him, make his hold on Kyoutani not so strong. It’s not permanent, but it’s doable through strenuous circumstances. Here’s the first option: we find someone with the Decipher power and use him to save Kyoutani.”

“Deciphering Eyes?” Sugawara asked, his breath short with disbelief as a hollow laugh escaped him. He picked his journal and started leafing through it, hazel brown eyes quickly scanning over the words. “Vortex, really, all offense intended, but are you fucking stupid? That power hasn’t resurfaced in over a hundred years and counting, if it ever existed in the first place. There was no real proof it existed to begin with. It could be nothing more than a myth.”

“What’s the Decipher power?” Bokuto asked, cocking his head to the side curiously.

“The Decipher,” Sugawara began to explain as calmly as he could, “is the ability to see things, symbols, even monsters and locks that the regular human eye couldn’t begin to comprehend. The Decipher, also known as the Decipher Eyes, are supposedly able to peel back thick or see through thin layers of reality to see what no one else can.” The researcher turned to Vortex with a grim expression. “You’re saying that some with the Decipher can unlock Fenrir’s hold on Kyoutani and then lock the demon somewhere else? Where did you have in mind?”

“You have a wonderful choice of words. The only place we can put him is in the furthest corners of Kyoutani’s mind,” Vortex shrugged. At first glance, seemed to be taking this masterly as lightly as he could, almost with an air of indifference, but Iwaizumi could see that there was a seriousness, a determination, about him that he’d never seen in the villain before. Vortex genuinely wanted to help Kyoutani. “Fenrir is attached to Kyoutani. Fenrir can’t ever leave Kyoutani unless he wants to leave, which is unlikely. However, if we lock him away in the kid’s mind, it’ll take a long time for Fenrir to crawl out. Then, it’s a simple click game of the person with the Decipher going in and strengthening the locks every now and then to make sure Fenrir can’t ever escape.”

“For how long?” Matsukawa inquired with concern. “How long does the person with the Decipher have to keep Fenrir locked away in Kyoutani’s mind?”

The hero was summoning little flowers in his hands and letting them fall carelessly onto the table. Carnations. Iwaizumi smiled at the sight of them, his thoughts turning warm and fuzzy as Oikawa came to mind. His attention was brought back to reality when he saw the venomous glare Vortex was sending his way. 

“Until Kyoutani dies,” Vortex finally replied, as evenly as he could. He played with a stray string hanging off the sleeve of his bomber jacket. “When he dies, he takes his demons with him.”

“And we just have to keep Kyoutani locked up so we keep Fenrir locked up?” Matsukawa asked, more of a vexed demand for answers. “Keep him away from the world, from people, maybe put him on an abandoned island?”

“That’s . . . not a way for a kid to live,” Bokuto interjected in a small voice. He as probably thinking of his youngest cousin, the one Oikawa had saved from Seibo Hospital. Iwaizumi reached over and put a hand on his friend’s shoulder, giving him a reassuring squeeze. “That’s like being in remission and knowing that you could contract cancer again at any moment. There has to be another way to save him from Fenrir.”

“Second option, which I don’t like: we kill Kyoutani and then find a way to bring him back from the dead,” Vortex suggested. He looked around at all the unamused faces surrounding him.

“We’re superheroes, not necromancers,” Matsukawa deadpanned, the flowers on the table suddenly wilting as he waved a hand over them. “We only have control over elements, physic powers, and other shit like that. We don’t toy with life and death.”

“It’s been done before,” Silver Fox piped up cheerily. “It’s risky but it’s been done before. Your friend Akaashi Keiji knows all about it.”

“Akaashi . . . ?” Bokuto wondered to himself. “Why would we . . . “”

“This isn’t even an option, so we should just drop it,” Iwaizumi growled dangerously. He could the heat of his tattoos as they glowed with his rising ire. “We can’t kill Kyoutani, he’s a good kid.”

“Like I said, I don’t like that one either, but it’s a way. There is no easy way to get rid of Fenrir,” Vortex said, rising to his feet. He clenched his fists so are his knuckles turned white. “If you think this is going to be a huge, badass fight where suddenly with the power of teamwork, we win, it’s not. He isn’t the Joker, he isn’t Thanos, he isn’t another villain. Fenrir is a demon, crafty and manipulative. You haven’t even seen him at his full power. Neither have I. We aren’t the Avengers, nor are we the Justice League.”

“How do you know that Akaashi knows about that kind of stuff?” Bokuto asked, his golden eyes wide with worry. “The Hero Agency wouldn’t put something that heavy on his shoulders, would they?”

“He was there when it went down,” Silver Fox replied, grabbing a piece of paper and doodling away without a care in the world. “Vortex was there, and so was I. Granted, the three of us were too young to know what the hell was going on, but we remember it. I will promise you know that he does not know our identities. I see you, Glyph. You’re not finding out who Vortex is through Akaashi. In any case, we could call on the Yahaba family to help bring him back.”

“I know a Yahaba. Yahaba Shigeru. He works for Oikawa Tooru,” Iwaizumi added in, proudly squaring his shoulders. “I could maybe talk to him and see if he would be willing to help us. Not with killing Kyoutani, just in general. It wouldn’t hurt to have someone on our side that can heal any type of wound.”

“You just want another excuse to talk to Oikawa Tooru,” Matsukawa teased with a lazy shit-eating grin.

Out of the corner of his eye, he watched Vortex take sip of water to hide his laughter. “So what if I do?” Iwaizumi asked. “He’s cute, he’s smart, he’s talented, and you know what? I think he has a crush on me.”

Vortex let out a string of violent coughs, a spray of water falling from his mouth and landing all over Iwaizumi like mist. The hero blinked a few times before fixing the villain with an unrelenting glare. “Fucking hell—Really, Vortex, really?”

“I’m not sorry,” Vortex coughed out, another one of his unbearably false smiles lightning up his face. “Just—Give me a moment to process your desperate attempt at sounding cool and respected.”

“He likes me!”

“Wanna bet?”

“Vortex, are there any other options?” Sawamura asked, breaking up the fight before it could really start.

“Call in a priest and let’s rid of this Pazuzu,” Vortex replied sarcastically. The Exorcist? Okay. There was certainly no better movie reference that moment. Iwaizumi could that Bokuto respected that. “No, there is no other way, or none that I know of.”

“Well, if you could keep digging and maybe find something else, I would greatly appreciate it, Vortex.” The villain nodded gently in response. “All right, then, moving on. The group of hackers targeting power plants. We have to find them before they strike again.”

Suga held up a piece of paper and started summering what was on it. He was shifting nervously as he read, his eyes glancing up to Vortex, almost . . . worried? “We can assume that someone on their team as a power, but we don’t know what exactly, and without that exact knowledge, we don’t know weakness or how to counteract them. We want to put you heroes on patrols around the Ministry of Defense headquarters, the Hero Agency will be giving you a few apprentices to help keep the numbers up to cover more ground.”

“Flash Fire too?” Bokuto asked, his eyes brightening with glee. Bokuto and Hinata always got along so well, they were a perfect fit as hero and apprentice. They both had big personalities, unwavering positivity and devotion to their jobs. “He’s been doing really well, I think along side me. He could really be of use to this mission.”

“Yes, Flash Fire will be amongst you, because he can cover ground faster than any of you,” Suga replied with a smile which then dropped as he continued, “and they want to extend this call to Vortex as well.”

“Say what?” Vortex asked, arching an eyebrow. “You’re just messing with me.”

Iwaizumi blinked, unable to form words. His tongue was numb. There was so much he wanted to say, that it was a bad idea, that Vortex couldn’t be trusted around heroes, that they would all be safer dead than working together with the villain. A cocktail of rage and utter doubt swirled in his stomach. He wanted to hit something, maybe his own head agains the table, maybe Vortex’s until the villain died. What the hell was going on? What was the Hero Agency thinking?

Suga continued on as Iwaizumi stared uselessly down at the table, defeated. “They saw your work at Seibo Hospital. You saved a lot of people. They want you to assist them in this, given that you can summon storms that cause interferences for communications a electricity. Plus, since the powers in the group are unknown, it’s best to have all the fire power we can get.”

Understandable. Iwaizumi didn’t like it, but it was understandable. It made him want to walk up the Hero Agency and scream his lungs out about how stupid they were, maybe punch through a couple hundred walls or so, but, yeah, okay, understandable. Totally understandable. Vortex had signed the Immunity Contracts so the Hero Agency could technically call on him in times of emergency. As long as Iwaizumi didn’t have to deal with his unpleasant, holier than thou ass then . . .

“It’s a great idea!” Bokuto exclaimed, standing up as well. He circled around onto the other side of the table and wrapped an arm around Vortex’s neck and pulled him in for an extremely awkward side hug. The villain tried to pry himself free at first, but Bokuto was just too strong. “I call Vortex and Flash Fire as my partners! You all can suck it! I’ve got the best team out of all of us!”

Suga wars chuckled nervously, being his lip. “It says here that they want Vortex and Glyph to be paired up.”

“You see, I was totally on board until you said that bit!” Vortex objected.

“You want me to work with this evil brute?” Iwaizumi demanded, pointing an accusing finer at Vortex, who stared at it with distaste.

“Boy, that’s the pot calling the kettle black,” Vortex grumbled with a breathy chuckle, sticking his tongue out at Iwaizumi. “I would be a much better fit with Horned Owl. He already thinks I’m great, and I think he’s got drool worthy muscles. Perfect harmony.”

“Well, I don’t think you’re great but . . . you saved my cousin so . . .” Bokuto trailed off, scratching the back of his neck. Iwaizumi was surprised at Bokuto, just as he’d been with Matsukawa earlier, someone who stood up for what was right above the rest of them. “But your powers are really cool! We’ll definitely kick some major ass together!”

Vortex slapped a hand to his heart, betrayed. “Liked only for my looks and now only for my powers. Does no one love me for my mind?” he asked theatrically to no one in particular.

“No one will ever love you, because you’ve got the shittiest personality in the whole world,” Iwaizumi snapped, kicking the table out of frustration.

“Go fuck a gorilla already,” Vortex snapped like a snake, all venom and sharp teeth.

Glyph flipped him off with unsympathetic eyes. “I told you already, Vortex, you’re not my type.”

Matsukawa sputtered into an uncontrollable spiel of laughter as Vortex’s fingers crackled with electricity, and the dead flowers around Matsukawa’s hands bloomed to life again.