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Hunger

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“You’re late.”

 

Hawks rolls his eyes as he pulls the lock-up door down behind him, throwing the small room back into relative darkness. There’s a single bulb hanging from the ceiling, enough to cast a dim light over the villain sprawled out in the dilapidated old armchair in the centre of the room. There’s another opposite him which Hawks drops down into with a huff.

 

“You sent me a message twenty minutes ago, asshole. It was a bit damn sudden,” Hawks pouts, pushing his goggles up onto the top of his head. “I was getting takeout.” He raises the half-eaten foil wrapped burger in his hand and purses his lips. “Which I’m gonna finish eating if you don’t fucking mind, I’m starved.”

 

Dabi shrugs and continues puffing away on the cigarette lolling out of the side of his mouth. He watches Hawks closely as the hero unwraps the foil and continues eating the burger and eventually he gets sick of being stared at.

 

“What?”

 

“What?”

 

Hawks scowls at the villain and wipes his greasy lips with the back of his hand. “What the fuck are you looking at?”

 

For once Dabi actually appears caught off guard, lips curving down into a dissatisfied frown as he eyes the burger that was now resting in Hawks’ lap. He glances up at the hero momentarily, then away, off into the darkness of the small room. There’s something odd in the look, something akin to jealousy, want, maybe?

“Nothin’ special,” Dabi retorts. “Anyway, you get me any intel on that upcoming prisoner move?”

 

“Mmph,” Hawks replies, halfway through a bite of the burger. Dabi wrinkles his nose in disgust as he swallows the mouthful down so he can speak. Looks like it’s one of Dabi’s bad days where he’s a moody little fuck - Hawks can’t stand him like this, he’s like a bratty child. “Yeah. They’re planning to move Chisaki Kai in a month on uh- on the eighteenth of November. He’s going from the hospital in Musutafu to the max-security prison Tartarus, so it’ll take a couple of days. He was in pretty bad shape last I heard. That your doing?”

 

Dabi shrugs again and keeps his eyes trained on Hawks as he continues eating his food. “The guy’s a grade A dickhead, who cares?”

 

The hero hums and takes another bite of the burger before wiping crumbs from his lips and licking his fingers. When the villain scoffs quietly, Hawks pauses and frowns. “Seriously, what the fuck dude? ‘Scuse me for needing to eat.”

 

He crumples up the paper with a few bites still remaining inside, intending to throw it away. He’s annoyed by all the staring, plus he’s already full and it’s uncomfortable to fly when he’s stuffed. Before he can chuck it into the bin by the door, Dabi clicks his tongue.

 

“Don’t waste food,” he snaps, narrowing his eyes at the startled-looking hero.

 

It is only then that Hawks recognises the odd expression on Dabi’s face, that strange sheen to his gaze - he’s hungry. Now that it’s been brought to his attention Hawks finds himself tracing the villain’s wiry limbs, his sharp cheek and collar bones, the way his baggy clothes make him seem more imposing on first glance. And then, as if on cue, Dabi’s stomach growls. Loudly. Hawks raises a brow and jerks his head toward the remains of the burger.

 

“Do you want it?”

 

Dabi narrows his eyes, a scowl spreading across his face. “You think I want your scraps? I ain’t a fucking charity case, asshole.”

 

“I didn-“

 

“Look, just shut the fuck up,” he snaps, flicking the butt of his cigarette forward Hawks. “We’re here to talk about Overhaul, not your fucking burger.”

 

Hawks purses his lips in annoyance and sighs, setting the wrapper down on the arm of the chair. He doesn’t pry any further despite wanting to. Their conversation turns back to Overhaul, to vague, shady plans the League has surrounding the move to Tartarus. Hawks gets little back from Dabi, no new information to pass back to the higher-ups, just an indication that they’re not after Overhaul to kill him. That seems odd, considering the less than friendly relationship between the Precepts and the League and try as Hawks might to get more information out of Dabi, he’s giving nothing back.

 

“Keep your eyes and ears peeled for any more info on the move,” Dabi sighs, running a hand through his hair. He purses his lips and looks across at Hawks with narrowed eyes. “Got it, Birdy?”

 

“Yeah, yeah, I get it,” Hawks replies, with a frown. “So, anything else? Or can I go now?”

 

The villain scowls at him and dismisses him with a wave of his hand. “Go.”

 

He leaves with little fanfare, slightly annoyed by Dabi’s attitude tonight. Dabi’s been more bearable in the past few months. He’s quite a quiet man - brooding, Hawks likes to say - but on the odd occasions when he does speak he’s less snide, sometimes quick-witted and often smarter than the hero gives him credit for. He may even like Dabi in those moments when his eyes are softer and his words are less venomous and the fragility he’s worked hard to cover up seeps out between the seams of his patchwork body. Sometimes Hawks has to remind himself that this is a man he will likely arrest or kill one day, a murderer, a villain - he can’t get too attached, nor can he start thinking of Dabi as someone he can save. The difference between that Dabi and this Dabi is palpable, it makes the hero wonder if there is a reason for his sour mood.

 

Perhaps the League is giving him grief, or maybe he’s got other personal issues on his mind.

 

Perhaps, Hawks thinks, spreading his wings out before he launches into the sky, perhaps he’s just hungry.

 


 

 

It’s ten o’clock and Hawks is freezing his ass off. The abandoned apartment block Dabi wanted to meet in is drafty and the weather outside is grim, even the thick coat Hawks has pulled tight around him doesn’t seem to keep out the cold. They’ve been there for hours, taking turns to watch from the window at the building across the street. Inside are a few lingering members of the Shie Hassaikai that the League want questioned and ‘dealt with’ - Hawks only hopes he can convince Dabi to let him arrest them rather than have them be reduced to a pile of ash. There’s been no sign of movement from inside for a while but they continue to wait, a decision made by Dabi. He doesn’t want to go in gung-ho in case there are more of them than initially thought. It’s a smart move, one Hawks understands, but it doesn’t stop him from complaining about the conditions of their watch-tower.

 

“How the fuck are you not freezing?” Hawks mutters, glancing away from the window to the man sprawled out on a dilapidated sofa a few feet away. He’s dressed in a light, tatty jacket and a goddamn t-shirt, it’s ridiculous.

 

Dabi doesn’t bother looking up from the book he’s reading and shrugs, looking rather bored. He looks tired too, more so than usual. “Could you be quiet? I’m reading.”

 

The hero scowls and unfolds his arms. “C’mon man. I’m bored and fucking cold, you could at least talk to me.”

 

“Stop squawking.”

 

Hawks pushes away from the wall and fixes the other man with a sharp glare. He’s still not looking at him, he’s so focused on that small paperback in his hand that Hawks wonders whether or not he actually heard what he said or if it was just noise. His ignorance aggravates Hawks to no end - he bothered to come here, in the middle of the night, and take watch just for the slim possibility that Dabi might introduce him to the rest of the League. Hawks knows he needs to stay for the sake of his mission and he knows Dabi is a fucking asshole but he could at least provide some sort of conversation.

 

“Dabi. Dabi.

 

The only reply is the howl of the wind through the paneless windows. Then Dabi licks his forefinger and turns another page. Hawks puffs out his cheeks in annoyance and stomps across the room, thoroughly pissed off and completely done with Dabi’s shitty attitude. He snatches the small book out of the villain’s hands and crosses his arms over his chest when tired blue eyes roll up to meet his. Dabi doesn’t move, he doesn’t look the least bit surprised and Hawks can’t help wonder if he’s high or so exhausted he can’t think straight.

 

“Will you listen to me?” Hawks snaps, frustrated with the lack of response. He flutters the book in Dabi’s direction before bringing it closer to read it. “What the hell’s got you so engrossed anyw- dude!

 

Well, that was rather unexpected. If Hawks had to pick Dabi’s choice of reading material it would have been some horror novel or miserable philosophy or even a puzzle book. What he did not picture Dabi, edgy villain extraordinaire, reading in the middle of an abandoned flat in the middle of the night was this x-rated comic of two men aggressively going at it on a kitchen countertop. It’s goddamn graphic, there’s so many sound effect words peppered over the images and far, far too much cum splattered across the characters’ bodies. Hawks immediately throws the book back onto Dabi’s lap, cheeks heating up to a violent shade of crimson. His feathers flutter behind him and the surprised squawk he makes gets the first real reaction from Dabi all night - a small smirk, a slightly raised brow.

 

“What the hell is that?” Hawks asks. How the fuck has Dabi been reading that with such a straight face - and why?

 

“Toga lent it to me. I said we’d be waiting a while and I’d probably be pretty bored, so she gave me it. I presume it was some sort of prank,” the villain explains, offhanded and casual, as if he hasn’t just been caught ogling an erotic manga. He picks the book that is sitting haphazardly on his lap and lays it flat across his stomach. “But I thought to read it anyway. I am pretty bored.”

 

Hawks wrinkles his nose. “You’re so fucking weird, dude. Who just reads porn casually like that?”

 

“The story is pretty good.”

 

“Oh right - sure it is.”

 

Dabi rolls his eyes and picks the book back up, flicking through to find the page he was at before it had been rudely snatched from him. “Chill, Birdy. I’m not sat here with a boner if that’s what you’re worried about.”

 

“Fuck off.”

 

The villain shrugs and looks back to the book, promptly ignoring the sullen look on Hawks’ face. There’s silence for a little while, punctuated only by the howl of the wind and the crinkle of paper as Dabi continues to read. Hawks flits between watching the building outside and observing Dabi, for once taking the time to really look at him as he’s absorbed in the book. One wouldn’t guess he’s reading filth, his expression is placid and peaceful - the face of someone who is reading a classic novel on a slow Sunday, rather than a villain looking at guys railing in an abandoned shithole. In the low light from the lamp-posts outside, Dabi looks rather attractive - well, perhaps that isn’t the right word. Striking might be more fitting. Those violent purple burns and harsh staples are grim but he can’t imagine Dabi without them.

 

In the position Dabi’s in, sprawled out on his back with his dirty boots hanging off the end of the sofa, Hawks can make out the length of his body even beneath the coat. As he noticed last time they met, Dabi is slim, scrawny even, the figure of a man who hasn’t known the luxury of three balanced meals a day in quite some time. Perhaps he’s just naturally lean, perhaps he’s on some sort of drug. Perhaps he’s sick.

 

His thoughts drift to the book in Dabi’s hands, to the rather lewd content he got an eyeful of. Is that the sort of thing he’s into? It didn’t seem likely but then again Hawks doesn’t really know all that much about him. Every detail he has about Dabi is an assumption from observation - he burned himself, he’s using an alias, he can’t control his own quirk for long. He’s always hungry. He’s been homeless. He’s twenty six. He hates his father. He likes-

 

Suddenly Dabi looks up and meets his eye. “What is it?”

 

“What?”

 

“You keep staring at me. I know you wanna say something, so what is it?”

 

The hero hesitates for a moment. He’s curious enough to ask and to see whether or not Dabi will answer but it feels intrusive, a little too personal for most. Hawks asks anyway because he doesn’t lump Dabi in with normal people.

 

“Are you- like that book ‘n shit, y’know-“

 

“Spit it out.”

 

Hawks furrows his brows. “Are you into guys?”

 

Dabi blinks slowly, as unsurprised by the question as Hawks predicted. He turns over the page of the book and settles it on his chest before continuing. “Sort of.”

 

“Sort of,” Hawks repeats, wrinkling his nose in confusion. “What the heck does that mean?”

 

“What you think it means, Birdy?” Dabi snorts, drumming his fingers against the cover of the book. A lazy grin spreads across his face as he takes in the irritable look the hero is giving him. “I don’t really mind, y’know? With a face like mine you can’t afford to be fussy.”

 

The blush on Hawks’ cheeks only gets warmer at that drawled proclamation. He really shouldn’t be having this sort of conversation with Dabi of all people, but his desire to learn more about the mysterious villain keeps winning out over his embarrassed rationale. The villain is staring straight at him now, pretty blues shining with amusement. He stretches out on the sofa and slips one arm beneath his head, elbow raised to the ceiling. If Hawks didn’t feel so tongue-tied he might have commented on the sleazy pose but as it stands all he could do was bite the inside of his cheek and stay silent.

 

“Why? You interested?” Dabi asks, a teasing lilt to his voice.

 

Hawks’ mouth falls open for a second but he quickly snaps it shut, teeth clicking loudly together. He’s being taunted, he can tell from the way Dabi smiles and the stitches at the side of his mouth creak as the strain against the grin.

 

No, I’m not interested,” Hawks exclaims, turning his nose up. The villain chuckles under his breath and offers a careless shrug as if to say ‘what a shame’, then makes to pick the book back up. Hawks quickly speaks again, unwilling to let go of the conversation now he’s finally got him talking. “So what’s it about? That book.”

 

Dabi shrugs again. “Not sure.”

 

There is no-one on Earth this infuriating, Hawks thinks to himself. He growls in irritation and pushes a hand through his hair, tugging on the strands lightly to distract himself from sending one of his primaries straight into Dabi’s forehead. “You said the story was good. Fucking hell.”

 

“I think it is, from the art. I can’t really tell you much more than that,” Dabi says, lips curving down. He hesitates and looks Hawks up and down before continuing, voice quieter than before. “The words are….confusing.”

 

It takes Hawks a few seconds to realise what Dabi is trying to say. When the penny finally drops, he gives an understated ‘oh’ and looks to the ground, a little embarrassed. “You- you can’t read?”

 

“I can read, you ass,” the villain replies, snarkily. “I just- it takes me a bit longer. The words look wrong in this font. So I was just looking at the art.”

 

Hawks doesn’t really understand him but he accepts what Dabi says nonetheless. “Right.”

 

Clearly it comes out more sarcastic than intended because a harsh grimace crosses Dabi’s face and he flips Hawks off. “Fuck off man, we can’t all be perfect.”

 

The hero scowls at him and steps forward to tell him to go fuck himself but he’s interrupted by a low, loud gurgle coming from Dabi’s guts. The sound makes him pause and has Dabi glancing down at his own stomach with annoyance.

 

“When was the last time you ate?”

 

“Hawks-”

 

“Dabi,” the hero folds his arms across his chest and fixes the villain with a stony look. “It’s hardly a difficult question. Your stomach was growling like that the last time we met too. Do you not have the time or money or whatever? Or are you just a moron who forgets they need to eat to stay alive?”

 

His words come out a little stronger than he anticipated due to the frustrations of the evening wearing his patience thin. Dabi frowns and pushes himself up to swing his legs off the sofa and onto the floor. He seems to be contemplating whether or not Hawks will back down so the hero increases the intensity of his stubborn gaze and eventually Dabi relents and flops against the frayed backrest. He stares pointedly at his own knees and his expression falls into one of worn-out irritation.

 

“Fuck you, Hawks. Not all of us get paid a shit load to prance around the streets playing hero,” Dabi sighs. He’s angry but he seems to lack the will or the strength to do anything about it. There’s no fire in him, bizarrely. “Just leave it, would you?”

 

Hawks’ immediate reaction is the want to fly out and get them both something to eat but the look in Dabi’s eyes tells him that he wouldn’t accept it. So he remains silent, turns to look back out of the window and listens unhappily to the constant rumbling of the other man’s empty stomach.