It’s a fair response.
“And you found him because…?”
An even better response. Hawks isn’t in the mood to answer it though; nor does he have one that won’t compromise the state of his mission so instead he shrugs and says, “I heard a cry; I was first on scene.”
Naomasa nods and everyone else buys the tale - which is relief because how Hawks was going to explain trudging through back alleys with a villain, he doesn’t know. There’s a mixed bunch of people in the room - Naomasa, Sansa, Toshinori, Aizawa, Yamada - but they’re all looking at one thing only. Specifically, the A-Rank villain known as Dabi who is, for all intents and purposes, currently five years old.
Hawks is supposed to not know what it happened but he does. A simple accident, a young girl with a quirk she couldn’t control, and suddenly they’re here.
Here could be worse, Hawks reasons. At least, at five years of age, Dabi hasn’t tried to murder him yet. Well, to be honest, that probably comes down to the fact that once the quirk had taken effect, Dabi had seemingly lost all memory up until that point and his mental age seems to have regressed as well. He’d come with Hawks only after he’d flashed his hero license and was confident they were going to the police. He’d fallen asleep on the way over which leads them to where they are now: Dabi asleep on Detective Naomasa’s office couch.
The change is startling, Hawks knows. He can see it on everyone’s faces too. The scars are gone, and with it the accompanying staples. Dabi’s tiny for his age, barely reaching even Hawks’ waist. There are no piercings on his face but perhaps his most defining feature is his red hair. It’s such a difference from the usual black.
“What are we going to do with him?” Toshinori asks, coming to crouch beside the sofa and watching Dabi as he sleeps on.
“We’ll have to question him, of course,” Naomasa sighs, running a hand through his hair. “But besides from that…” His gaze flicks to Aizawa. “You have experience with this sort of-”
“No.” Aizawa’s voice is painfully firm. “This isn’t like Shinsou or Eri. This is a villain.”
“He’s a child,” Naomasa stresses.
“He tried to kill my husband!” Yamada screeches.
Dabi flinches in his sleep, a frightened whimper escaping and despite his talk, Aizawa’s hand is the first to land on his shoulder, shushing the boy and coaxing him back to sleep. Dabi settles with a deep exhale, slipping under once more.
“I can’t,” Aizawa says quietly and Hawks knows that’s that even without having to look at Naomasa’s face.
“I could try,” Toshinori offers. “Although I’ll admit to having never cared for a child before.”
“Who’s to say you even have to?” Hawks asks, giving one of his wings a shake as it starts to itch. “This quirk could wear off any second. You’re almost better off keeping him here.”
“He’s right,” Sansa agrees, gaze watchful.
No one gets to say anymore there though because it seems Aizawa wasn’t as successful as they’d thought. Dabi stirs and slowly opens his eyes. He blinks at being surrounded before scrambling up. He nearly falls off the couch, Yamada supporting him with a hand.
“Easy there, little listener. You’re alright, you’re with the police.”
Naomasa hands over his badge, Dabi rolling it over in his tiny hands before giving it back. His voice, when he speaks, is so, so quiet. It’s barely above a whisper and Hawks feels his heart break because somehow he can tell that this is his regular volume. “Am I going home now? Did you call my mother?”
“Not yet,” Naomasa says gently, taking a seat on the coffee table as Toshinori backs away.
To their shock, Dabi’s eyes fly to the window before widening. “I have to go!” he says suddenly, trying to get to his feet only to be sat back down by Aizawa. “P-please! I have to go!”
“Go where?” Aizawa drawls.
“Home,” he stammers, squirming harder. “If I’m not home before dark then Mother will get in trouble and Father will...will…” Dabi can’t seem to continue, dissolving into tears.
Aizawa hisses and all his words are suddenly out the window. He’s rounding the couch faster than even Hawks could, drawing Dabi to his chest and smoothing his hair down. “It’s fine kid. They know, okay? They know you’re here.”
Dabi pauses, pulling away with a sniff. “Father too?” Aizawa nods, Dabi shying away. “Was he...angry?”
There’s a pause before Naomasa answers. “He...understood.”
Dabi’s expression flattens. “Father doesn’t…” He then stares at his lap glumly. “Of course; you’re the police. Father can’t be angry at you.”
“Wherever your father is, I’m sure he isn’t angry,” Toshinori tries.
Dabi snorts, and it’s the first time Hawks sees him looking like his future self. “Father’s always angry,” he spits. “That’s why he hits us. That’s why he hurts Mother. That’s why she cries all the time.”
Hawks winces, as do a few others in the room. Naomasa suddenly has a pen and paper in his hands, leaning forward ever so slightly. “What’s your father’s name?”
“Naomasa,” Aizawa warns quietly. “Don’t. You can’t stop this.”
The detective swears but Hawks knows Aizawa’s right. All of this happened a long time ago. They can’t stop it now. Dabi looks between them in confusion but he never answers the question. Interesting. Hawks gives him a nudge but Dabi shakes his head furiously. Somehow though, the switch has been flipped and from that point on, Dabi won’t talk to them at all. Clearly he’s more terrified of his father than he is of them.
“I hate this,” Aizawa says once they’ve left the room and Dabi is alone with Sansa, drawing with some pencils they found in a storeroom. “I don’t want…”
Yamada pulls him into his arms. “You don’t want to feel sorry for him. I get it Shouta.”
“Life gets rough for the kid,” Hawks sighs, peering in the window. “I mean, I don’t feel like I’m looking at a villain right now.”
“No one is born a villain,” Toshinori says, and there’s something painful in there that Hawks doesn’t understand. “They’re made them by circumstances. I only wish we could stop those circumstances sooner. Not just for Dabi, but for all villains.”
“You’ve been the number one hero for too long,” Aizawa grouses, removing himself from Yamada’s embrace. “You can’t save everyone.”
Toshinori glares at him but Naomasa comes between them, shaking his head. “This is no place for such an argument. And really, you two shouldn’t be having it at all. You’re adults and heroes for your own reasons. Keep it that way.”
Toshinori looks suitably scolded, Aizawa merely defensive. Before anything else can be said though, Sansa is gesturing through the window silently and that’s enough to grab their attention. It’s for good reason too because Dabi has since shifted and is leaning over the table to draw. Which gives them a wonderful view of his back...and the plethora of bruises that cover it. He may have been changed into clothes roughly his size, but shirts ride up and what was hidden underneath this one is enough to make Hawks’ stomach turn.
“I didn’t do that to him on the way over,” is the first thing he says.
“I’m sure not,” Naomasa murmurs even as Toshinori goes pale and Aizawa’s jaw clenches.
“If his father did that to him,” Aizawa hisses, Yamada placing a hand on his arm even as he’s on the phone. Hawks wonders who he’s calling but Yamada answers that himself soon enough.
“Recovery Girl’s on her way. If nothing else, she can make him feel a little better.”
There’s nothing they can do except wait for Chiyo to arrive. She bustles her way in a good half an hour later. Dabi has since grown bored of drawing but is still locked in the detective’s office - not that he knows it. He’s taken to asking Sansa about his quirk or at least, the cat related aspects of it. The first thing Chiyo does is dismiss Sansa before ushering Dabi back onto the sofa he’d occupied previously. Dabi’s apprehensive, that much is obvious, but it’s obvious Chiyo has done this before.
“I’ve been asked to check over you,” she says, placing a hand on his knee. “My name’s Chiyo. My quirk can heal people.”
Dabi’s interest is gained there, feet swinging. “Can you heal everything?”
“Most things,” Chiyo replies with a hum, going through the whole rigmarole of checking his reflexes and shining lights in his eyes. “And what about you? Do you have a quirk?”
Dabi freezes. Chiyo doesn’t push him though and eventually he whispers, “I have one. I don’t use it though. It hurts people. I don’t want to hurt people.”
Chiyo frowns, as do Aizawa and Naomasa. “Quirks don’t hurt people unless we want them to,” she scolds. “And if you don’t use it, how will you learn to control it?”
“If I don’t use it, I don’t need to control it,” Dabi argues back, though his shoulders are hunched over, showing how unconfident he really is.
“I see,” is all Chiyo says. “I can’t help but notice your shoulders look stiff. Does your back hurt?”
Dabi reels back, shaking his head furiously. One look from Chiyo has him wilting though. With great, great reluctance he turns around, lifting his shirt. Hawks’ stomach drops to the floor and Aizawa swears. Because Dabi looks terrible. His skin is mottled because of how extensive the marks are and, with a shiver, Hawks notes how similar he looks to his adult state.
“This looks bad,” Chiyo tuts, looking but not touching. “Can you tell me what happened?”
“It’s nothing,” Dabi murmurs, tugging his shirt back down and wrapping his arms around his chest vulnerably. “It’s just training. I...Father says I have a good quirk. That I...I can be better than All Might and I...I need to train. It’s just training,” he repeats hoarsely. “Training to be the best.”
There’s a sob from his left, Hawks’ eyes flying over to see Toshinori hiding his face in a hand as his shoulders shake. “That isn’t…” he chokes on his next words. “I...That isn’t what being the number one hero is about. To do that...to your child…”
The once Symbol of Peace breaks down further, Naomasa sighing and rubbing his back soothingly. “This isn’t your fault,” he murmurs but all Toshinori does is shake his head. Hawks agrees.
Their attention is ripped away though when Chiyo flips open a file, tapping at something at the top. “Oh dear, look at this. They didn’t even write your name down! How silly.”
Dabi giggles there. The villain fucking giggles.
But then the weight of that sentence slams into them all. Because no one knows Dabi’s identity. They hadn’t, in all honesty, even thought to ask. If Hawks had to guess, it’s because they all simply assumed Dabi was Dabi. They hadn’t thought to look at that deeper level.
“Touya,” Dabi supplies - or Touya, Hawks supposes, although that feels wrong.
“Touya,” Chiyo parrots, writing that down. “What a lovely name.”
Dabi blushes and dammit, villains aren’t meant to be cute, even in child form! Hawks pushes that thought aside even as Naomasa is hastily scribbling down the name. He knows that before the day is out, Dabi’s real identity will be known by everyone in the hero community.
“And here?” Chiyo asks, indicating a different empty box; Touya’s family name, if Hawks had to guess.
Dabi leans over to see better, all too chipper when he answers. “Todoroki!”
The whole room stills. It’s like the air gets sucked out of the office. Hawks thinks every inch of body heat has left him. Toshinori is paler than Hawks has ever seen, while Aizawa looks ready to murder. Even Recovery Girl looks thrown, so much so that Dabi’s head cocks to the side, all five-year-old innocence.
“Do you want me to write it?” he asks, all politeness. “I can!”
He takes the pen and writes the kanji and even as slow and wobbling as he is, Hawks knows what Dabi’s writing. He isn’t lying. Todoroki Touya, aka Dabi. It’s at this point Chiyo regains her wits even if Dabi seems bored now, comfortable enough around her to climb all over the couch. Complimenting him, it seems, did wonders.
“Can you tell me who’s in your family?” Chiyo asks, just to dig the hole deeper, to confirm what they already know.
Dabi shrugs and nods all at the same time. “There’s Father and Mother. Father has a fire quirk and I don’t like him. Mother has an ice quirk but she’s nice.” He grins there before bouncing up and down a few times. “And there’s Fuyumi; she’s three, I’m five! And Natsuo too but he’s only a baby. I don’t know his quirk yet. But we don’t have the perfect quirk,” Dabi babbles on. “Father says even though I’m strong, I can’t really beat All Might so Mother has to have more babies.”
Toshinori drops into a chair then and Hawks would have thought he’d fainted if not for the fact that his eyes are very much open and tears are streaming down his cheeks.
“And so he makes Shouto,” Aizawa growls, Yamada grabbing him before he can punch something. “Like his wife and children are nothing more than mere tools.”
Hawks can’t wrap his head around the concept itself. Even as more and more of Dabi’s traits and frivolous throw away lines start to fall into place, Hawks still struggles to believe it because it’s Endeavour. And Endeavour is everything he’s ever wanted to be but he can’t be if he’s like this.
Naomasa stopped writing long ago. He looks like he doesn’t know what to do. Hawks doesn’t blame him.
“-nd here, I’m on a rainbow,” Dabi is explaining to Chiyo, pointing at his drawing like he hasn’t just potentially torn the station and the current hero rankings apart.
“And where are you going?” Chiyo prods, barely holding herself together from what Hawks can tell.
“Away,” is all Dabi says, Hawks swearing.
Chiyo ruffles his hair, handing him some gummies. “Well, you seem alright to me now Touya. I’ll show the detective back in, alright?”
Dabi shrugs, unconcerned. Chiyo makes it as far as the door before turning around, asking one last question. “When you grow up young Touya, what do you want to be? What do you want to do?”
“What do I want to do?” Dabi repeats. He frowns for a moment before grinning and it looks so, so wrong. “When I grow up, I’m going to kill my father.”