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How Could I Hate You When You're You?

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The days that followed All For One’s arrest were weird for everyone. The very first night was maybe the worst in Shigaraki Tomura’s life, although he didn’t like to think of it as such. It had also been a decisive night after all, because in a matter of hours his safety net had been ripped from under his feet, dropping him into … well, the real world. He told himself it was good. He always knew that one he’d have to step out of Sensei’s shadow because at the end of all things, he’d had to take his place. He’d had to carry on his ambitions and become the man he always wanted him to be. He just didn’t expect it to be so soon.

 

I couldn’t even say goodbye.

 

There was no need for goodbyes you idiot, he’s in jail and you’ll break him out soon!

 

I’m … I’m not sure I can do it …

 

You don’t have a choice, that’s what he wants from you! You need to be stronger … You have to make him proud when you see him again …

 

Fear. Sadness. Anger. All these emotions were battling in his heart during that very first night, as he stood in a corner of his room, surrounded by all these people who were looking at him with expecting eyes. What now boss? Months ago, these eyes would have suffocated him and made him feel all itchy inside, but not anymore. That night, the member of the league’s made him stronger. Because Tomura knew he couldn’t afford to collapse and panic. Because these people, who had put their lives on the line for him, were looking up to him for answers and directions and he couldn’t let them down.

 

That first night was their starting line.

 

 

*

 

Their two priorities were obvious: grow and stay low. They had to recruit new members and stay out of the heroes’ radar for a while, and the best way to achieve both was to have the league spread out for a while. They would each travel around the city to share their cause, hopefully meeting up with some thugs with interesting quirk, and report every development to Shigaraki himself or Kurogiri. Tomura knew it was a good plan and the best thing they could do right now. Kurogiri himself, who was usually a little doubtful of the boy’s initiatives, wholeheartedly agreed to it and even congratulated him for his maturity. But … it still felt a little odd.

 

These past few months had been the more active and unusual of Tomura’s life. During the days that led up to the attack of the camp, he had been surrounded by more people than he had been during his previous twenty years of existence. He’d be lying if he said that it had not been quite irritating at times, especially with so many colourful personalities. But now … he kind of missed the beautiful chaotic mess that use to be the League Of Villains. He would see them every once in a while when they came home to report their work, or simply when they needed some money, food or rest. But he would rarely see everyone at once. Toga and Compress would often visit together, considering that Tomura had given these two a specific mission, so that was always fun … but that wasn’t really enough.

 

He missed them. He would have probably rather died than admit it, but he truly did. He missed Toga’s screeches mixed with Twice’s weird rambling, he missed Magne’s interminable stories and compressed weird theatrical laugh, he even missed Spinner’s rambling about Stain. Just a little bit. He would still get those things separately, but he missed the beautiful mess it created when all these people spent days together in the same room.

 

And there was also something else.

 

There was one member that he hadn’t seen once since the night that followed Sensei’s arrest. One that had not come by once since he left for recruiting, or if he did, he made sure to do so when Tomura was out or locked in his room.

 

I wonder what Dabi is doing right now …

 

To say that Tomura and Dabi had started on the wrong foot would be quite the understatement. They had literally tried to kill each other after all. And even after that, their first few days together didn’t exactly went smoothly, they kept snapping at each other for the stupidest reasons, just as if the mere presence of the other irritated them. Back then Tomura hadn’t even tried to understand why, deciding that Dabi was an idiot and that was it. But looking back on it now, with everything that had happened, Tomura had realised that it was all because Dabi and he were extremely alike and yet complete opposites.

 

First of all, Dabi was the only member in the league to be close to his age. It might seem stupid, but Tomura had never hung out with people of his age before, and he just didn’t really know how to behave. It had been really unnerving at first because everything that Dabi said or did was actually hitting really close to home and Tomura … just really wasn’t used to that. There was almost an uncanny phenomenon at play … looking at Dabi was like looking at his reflection in the mirror: same but opposite. A young man wrecked and wronged by hero society, desperately trying to regain some agency in his life despite the nightmares that woke him in the middle of the night; but when one expressed his malaise and pain through scratching and oversensitivity, the other did over silence and empty eyes. And as soon as they both understood this, communication became a little easier somehow.

 

The other members probably saw it happen before they ever did themselves, but they progressively stopped screaming and began speaking. The snappiness and insults remained a little longer, because it made things easier for a while, like a transition. Thus, the nicknamed Dabi gave gradually went from offensive to … kind of endearing. “Whatever you fucking creep!” he used to snarl with a venomous voice. But before Tomura knew it, he was chuckling and muttering under his breath “Nice one mopehead …” It was during this period that Tomura pined Dabi as the most capable in the group. Looking him back on it now he knew he was a fool and that the most competent member was actually Magne, but back then, he let himself fooled by Dabi’s flashy quirk and cool attitude.

 

So one night, when they were still establishing the very bases of their plan, he walked to Dabi at the bar. It wasn’t rare for the two of them to meet there, as the insomniacs of the group. It used to be something they both dreaded and avoided because, for a while, it always ended with broken bottled and the two of them at each other’s throat. But more recently, those nights had been …easy. For the lack of a better word.

 

“Insomnia?” Dabi had asked as Tomura sat next to him. “Wanna chat?”

 

They both had trouble sleeping, which was the main reason they often found each other in the middle of the night like this. Lying in bed alone, eyes wide open, in complete silence, was unbearable. It wasn’t something one gets used too no matter how many times it happens and they both knew it, which was one they were always ready to offer their company to each other. But tonight, Tomura had something specific to talk about.

 

“I want you to lead the operation in the forest next week.”

 

He had said that with some odd nervousness, almost as if he had feared Dabi’s rejection somehow. The later had looked at him with an almost dumbfounded look in his eyes.

 

“Why?” he had simply asked, sounding genuinely surprised that Tomura would give him such an important task. His question had sounded like a “are you sure about this?” But Tomura was sure. He had been thinking about this for months now, and every time, Dabi’s name and faced had appeared to him like evidence. So his voice had been confident when he had given his answer.

 

“Because I trust you. You’re strong, smart and competent. I want you to lead them.”

 

Dabi had kept looking at him with a focused expression as if he was desperately trying to find a flaw in his reasoning. But Tomura’s tone and eyes left no room for argument or hesitation. So in the end, Dabi had just smiled and said “Yeah … okay. I’d like that.”

 

*

As he sat at his computer alone in his room in the middle of the night, Tomura thought back over all of this. He couldn’t help wondering if their failure had made Dabi reconsider his allegiance to them if Sensei’s defeat had made him realise how immature and incompetent Tomura was. Maybe he didn’t want anything to do with him anymore … with them, with the league. Of course, there was an even worst possibility, one he couldn’t think about without starting to scream and bit his lips to death. But it was too late, the words dead and arrested were now floating in his head, taunting and hurting him …Tomura felt something warm on his neck, and suddenly realised he had been scratching his neck for a good minute and was now bleeding. He cursed under his breath, grabbing a tissue to try to fix the mess. I can’t put blood on the laptop … it was Sensei’s gift. The desk and computer were safe, but his black t-shirt was stained on the collar. Tomura didn’t want Kurogiri to see the blood on his clothes because he’d worry, so his only option was to try to clean it discreetly by himself. Starting a laundry in the middle of the night probably wasn’t a good idea, but he could try to rub some soap on it …

 

It was a little chillier outside of his room in the deserted corridor. Tomura was only wearing a t-shirt and his boxers, so he felt a shiver go through him. Walking toward the bathroom, his mind automatically went back to Dabi, and he thought about how he always felt a little warmer when the young men stood next to him. He missed that … he just … he missed him. I hope he is okay … I wonder where he is sleeping … what he is eating … Kurogiri said he passed by last week when I was sleeping but I … He was snapped out of his thoughts by some sound coming from down the stairs. It was smooth and pleasant, like a soft melody, surely on of Kurogiri’s old jazz disc. Was Kurogiri still awake? Or was it someone else? Tomura cracked his fingers and immediately went downstairs; ready to grab some faces with his dangerous hands if they had an intruder.

 

But it actually was a very familiar face sitting on the couch.

 

Dabi was completely slouched on the cushions, head thrown back and eyes closed, with a bottle of beer in one hand and a cigarette between his lips. He had thrown off his iconic long coat to the side, only resting in a t-shirt that surely used to be white. It was quite chilly, but Dabi’s body had always run hotter than everyone else’s. Tomura was not ready for all the emotions that ran through and for how overwhelming it felt to see him again after all these weeks. He seemed relatively healthy, he didn’t look hurt nor famished, just extremely tired. His eyes were closed so he didn’t see Tomura right away, and the boy could just … take everything in. The long spread legs, the patchwork of tanned and burned skin, the sharp jawline … Eventually, he felt his legs weather under his weight and had to take a step back to lean against the wall. The wooden floor creaked and Dabi’s eyes shot open. The young men practically jump off the couch, almost tripping on his own legs.

 

“M-mopehead,” he stuttered, immediately biting his lips as if he regretted letting the nickname slip. But Tomura felt his stomach filling up with thousands of butterflies and his heart beating like a drum. It felt good, hearing this after so long.

 

“H-hey!” Tomura stuttered back with an awkward smile.

 

Dabi looked at him from head to toes with something weird in his eyes, an expression Tomura didn’t know. But that’s when the boy remembered he was only wearing a t-shirt and his boxers and he felt his entire body flushed. He nervously grabbed the hem of the shirt and tried to pull it down to cover his lower body. It, unfortunately, backfired because that shirt was too big for him and pulling it down meant revealing almost his entire chest. But in front of him, Dabi seemed to feel just as awkward and panicked as him. He looked away from Tomura, something pink on his cheekbones. He had dropped the empty bottle of beer on the couch while jumping up, and now he was looking for a way to put out his cigarette. After some hesitation, he eventually crashed it in his palm.

 

“You’re really here …” Tomura whispered, more to himself than to the man in front of him.

 

“Yeah, I …” Dabi was trying to smoothen his clothes, and he ran his hands in his hair quite a few time as if to fix them. “I thought you were sleeping. It’s late.”

 

“Yeah no, I was …” Tomura was trying to make his hair fall in front of his face to hide the blush. “I was working. I’m … glad to see you.”

 

“I’m glad to see you too.” A sad but amused smile passed on Dabi’s face. He probably wasn’t that surprised, considering the number of times Tomura and him had met in the middle of the night. But for all the tenderness on Dabi’s face right now, actually thought about what Dabi had said. And something clicked.

 

“Wait, is this … is this what you’ve been doing?” He let go of the hem of his shirt and took a step forward. Dabi suddenly looked quite panicked. Not afraid, just panicked. He moved as if he was going to back off but eventually stood still. Tomura walked a little closer. But not too close. “Is this why I haven’t seen you in weeks? Have you been … purposely coming late or when I was away? Have you been avoiding me?”

 

“No!” Dabi looked completely flustered. It was hard to tell with the dead skin on his face, but he might have been blushing. “No, I didn’t … I … I wouldn’t … well … maybe?”

 

Tomura swallowed, taking the hit. It felt like all of his suspicions had been true. Dabi was avoiding him. Dabi was mad at him, disgusted with him, and didn’t want to see him. It was all real. His neck began to hitch and he remembered why he had come out of his room in the first place. He was probably looking like even more of a freak right now, with his fresh wounds and the blood on his shirt. Instinctively, he brought both of his hands over his neck, not scratching, just covering it from Dabi’s eyes.

 

“I … I see …” he whispered softly, looking away, “I guess I’ll just …”

 

“Wait!”

 

Dabi practically leaped forward. He reached out as if he wanted to grab both of Tomura’s shoulders, but stopped himself at the last second. They were a lot closer now. Tomura was quite startled to suddenly have Dabi in his personal space, and he didn’t know if he wanted to run or not. Dabi didn’t seem to know what to do either. He probably hadn’t think beyond “stopping Tomura from leaving.” He wasn’t the best planner.

 

“Wait please,” Dabi continued nonetheless, “it’s not what you think.” He looked incredibly soft and vulnerable right now, Tomura had never seen him like this. They were both breathing quite hard and fast as if whatever they were doing right now required a tremendous effort from both of them. But Dabi was strong enough to keep talking. “Yeah it’s true I was avoiding you these past few weeks, but it was because … I was afraid.”

 

Tomura’s eyes went wide and his mouth fell open.

 

“Afraid?” he repeated, confused.

 

“Afraid and guilty,” Dabi said looking down. He looked very small right now as if Tomura’s ruby eyes were too much for him to bear. “I was afraid that you wouldn’t want me here anymore. Afraid that you’d hate me.”

 

Tomura didn’t understand a word of what Dabi was saying. He frowned slightly and let go of his neck. “Afraid that I would … what? Dabi what are you talking about?”

 

“I fucked it up okay?” he suddenly yelled, not really directed at Tomura but more at himself. “You trusted me and I fucked everything up! I heard the police report! I know they found the hideout because of me!”

 

Slowly, the wheels in Tomura’s head began to turn. He also remembered reading the police report the day that followed the accident, and he had learned that they had discovered the bar because someone had seen “a man with a patchwork face” walking in.

 

“And then,” Dabi continued eyes still glued on the ground, “then I got knocked out as soon as the heroes attacked and couldn’t do shit to protect you, I’m … I …” Now it looked like the words were slipping out of his mouth without his control. He ran both of his hands over his face and up to his hair, distress all in his eyes.

 

But Tomura on the other hand suddenly felt weirdly calm. Relieved even, because suddenly, after weeks of turmoil and agony, everything was finally making sense. Of course, it didn’t make sense that Dabi would blame himself for all of this, and he was about to tell him as much. But Dabi … didn’t hate him. Dabi felt like he had failed him and … and maybe even … cared for him, the same way Tomura cared for him in return.

 

“Dabi,” Tomura said with a softness he didn’t know he had in him, “I could never hate you.”

 

Dabi’s looked up from under his dark bangs, eyes wide and confused. Tomura felt his skin turn even redder. This wasn’t exactly what he had planned to say, but he realised that it was true.

 

“I-I mean,” Tomura continued, “nothing that happened that day was your fault okay?”

 

“But I …” Dabi began slowly lifting his head, but Tomura raised his index and pressed it against the scarred lips to gently shush him.

 

“Please listen to me Dabi. There was no other way for you to enter the bar that day, you just had to go through the main door. If anything, it’s my fault for not thinking of a more discreet way to let everyone in … hey, let me finish!” Dabi was already trying to protest, but he immediately obeyed Tomura and went quiet. “It was you, but it could have been anyone … It could have been Spinner or Moonfish … we just should have been prepared. And then, you got knocked out, because your first reflex was to set those branches on fire to free everyone. You reacted perfectly and immediately, it’s not your fault we were surrounded by pros.” Dabi was completely quiet now, looking at Tomura with the softest most affectionate eyes the boy had ever seen, and it was making him shiver all over. But he still kept going. “The only thing you were responsible for that night, was the successful capture of the kid and the success of the operation. You’re strong, competent, and a quick thinker. How could I hate you for that? How could I hate you when you're ... you?”

 

Tomura dropped his hands off Dabi’s lips, but the young man still stayed quiet for a few seconds as if he was processing everything and putting the pieces together. “So … you don’t hate me, mopehead?”

 

“What did I just say you dumbass?” Tomura smiled. “I don’t think I could ever hate you. Not anymore. I fact I …” Tomura hesitated, his cheeks, neck and, chest on fire. “In fact, I thought … I thought you were the one who hated me .”

 

“What???” Dabi looked like he was about to fall backward in shock. “No! No no no no! Of course not! I mean how could I? How could I even hate you if tried you’re … god, you’re just so … so exceptional! So smart, so strong, so brave …so … so … you.”

 

It looked like words were failing him now. He was panting again, eyes completely focused on Tomura looking him from head to toe again and again. Weirdly enough, it didn’t feel so bad anymore. Tomura no longer felt judged, he felt … admired. Dabi’s gaze was like a burning wave crashing over him again and again. They had been apart for too long.

 

“I missed you …” Tomura practically gasped, as if the words were drawn out of him by Dabi’s mere presence.

 

“Fuck I missed you too …” For Dabi, it was more of a growl, something coming from deep inside of his chest, something he had kept buried for weeks, months even maybe.

 

They both reached out at the same time, Tomura’s hands carefully grabbing the hem of Dabi’s shirt and Dabi’s hands gently holding Tomura’s precious face. They laughed, bodies pressed together. Dabi was so warm and Tomura had been cold for so long, he already felt like melting.

 

“Please let me kiss you mopehead …” Dabi whispered hungrily, practically already against his lips, “please let me, I’ve been … I’ve been wanting to do so for months, every time we met at the bar in the middle of the night, and then all the nights when I was here and I knew you were sleeping upstairs and I …”

 

Dabi couldn’t finish his sentence, because Tomura got on his tiptoes and messily crashed his lips onto Dabi’s. “I wanted you to kiss me,” he whispered barely pulling away, “but you never did.” It didn’t matter if he was going to add something or not, because Dabi’s response was immediate, sucking at his boy’s lips, licking the little scar in the corner and humming in pleasure when Tomura opened his mouth for him. Dabi’s tongue was as hot as him and Tomura moaned in pleasure, opening his mouth wider to give his partner better access. It all felt so fucking good and right, like something they should have done from the very beginning, like something they were just meant to do.

 

They were now completely wrapped around each other, Tomura’s arms thrown around Dabi’s shoulders, and Dabi firmly holding the slender waist. The scarred lips were slowly moving down the scarred neck, stopping to kiss and lick every wound. He just wanted to bury his face deep inside Tomura’s neck and stay there forever.

 

“Love, you’re bleeding …” Dabi murmured tenderly against the skin.

 

“I’m sorry …” Tomura said heart beating, both because of the shame and because of the affectionate nickname. “I … I was … I made a mess … I was so worried.”

 

Dabi’s held got tighter. He slid both of his hands under Tomura’s shirt, running them across the smooth skin of his stomach. “I’m so sorry baby … fuck and you’re so cold too …”

 

“I missed you …”

 

“I know fuck, I’m sorry … if I had known … fuck I would have been back in your bed every night.”

 

Dabi slightly pulled away to look at Tomura in the eyes. They both looked like hot messes, blushing, panting and dishevelled. Dabi gently traced Tomura’s glossy lips with his fingers, and that was enough to make Tomura whine and shudder.

 

“I’m sooooo going to make it up to you though …” Dabi smiled.

 

“Y-you better …” Tomura smiled in return, shivering with anticipation. “But … but tonight I’m tired … can we just sleep?”

 

“Yeah I’m tired too,” Dabi agreed. “However!” He suddenly picked Tomura off the ground, carrying him to the bedroom. “Tomorrow morning I’m going to wake you up in the most delicious way …”