The muted television throws Dabi's room into a soft blue light as he lies in his bed, watching the smoke from his cigarette curl and twist up into the air before fading. He raises the cigarette before his face and turns it this way and that, silently studying the small ember eating away the cigarette- leaving only ash in its wake. A small part of the cherry falls against his bare chest and with a sigh, he wipes it away. A long time ago, he became desensitized to the bite of heat. He snuffs it out against the ash tray next to him before he accidentally starts a fire. Shigaraki made it pretty clear that the next time he falls asleep with a lit cigarette, the expenses are coming out of his pay check.
Dabi didn't bother to remind Shigaraki that he doesn't even get paid. Instead, he did his normal eye roll and snide comment before stalking into the dark confines of his room.
He turns his head lazily to the side and blearily looks for the blinking clock that sits on top of his television. It takes a moment or two for his tired and strained eyes to focus and read the time, of course it's only half past midnight. He feels like it's been eighty-four years since he's tried to get some shut eye but in reality, it's only been an hour and a half.
A flash of red on his television draws his attention from his clock and his hand itches to find a lost remote to turn up the volume. With no luck, Dabi shrugs and just lies in silence while watching footage of an all too familiar hero soar through the sky.
It turns out it must be some sort of documentary on heroes because for the next half hour, he stays still- transfixed by the short snippets of a much younger Hawks. His brain slowly processes the fact that Hawks was just a teenager when he started rising ranks like a sky rocket and seeing him without his stubble is rather amusing to him. In almost all videos shown of him, he's always smiling or laughing, Dabi can't help but to feel the curving of his own smile.
His smile falls with the next shift of footage and taking up his whole television screen is the stern face of his father staring back at him with disapproval.
Dabi turns his back to the television and closes his eyes.
His dreams are nothing but petite flowers with soft purple veins that run up delicate snow white petals. Slowly, the flowers start to wilt before him and in their place is nothing but a raging and ravenous sea of orange fire.
A raven crows and hops around the quiet street, Dabi observes as it pecks curiously at a discarded bag of chips before it hops off around the corner. He shifts his weight to his left leg and checks the time on his burner phone, he can't arrive on time; he's started a game of how late he can arrive to his meetings with Hawks.
It's the little things in life that keep him amused and an overly huffy Hawks is always the best remedy for his boredom.
"Y'know, one of these days," Hawks pauses- taking a bite out of his burger, "I'm just gonna up and fly away. Making me wait an hour, really? Didn't your mother teach you basic manners?"
"Clearly yours never taught you to not speak with your mouth full of food." A gloved hand wipes at the mess around his mouth and waves the burger around with his other hand.
"Well, excuse me Your Royal Highness." Hawks snorts at Dabi's middle finger given in reply and rolls back his shoulders, giving his large wings a few flaps to work out the cramped muscles.
"Let's get this show on the road! I got places to be and people to see, whatcha need?" Somewhere deep down, there's a twinge in Dabi's heart at that. He tries not to dwell on this new surfacing feeling and instead takes his time to respond, only to waste more of Hawks' time. Dabi takes out a crumpled piece of paper that Shigaraki gave to him earlier and tries to decipher the barely legible scrawl. He closes his eyes and tries to remember what they went over at their meeting prior but as usual, Dabi couldn't be bothered to pay attention. Now he's standing here in a dark alley, trying to decipher writing that could easily be mistaken for an entire different language.
Dabi crumples the paper further and wills his fire to ignite, he glances up from the flaming ball of paper to see Hawks finishing the last of his burger- not taking his gaze from the fire in Dabi's hand. Azure fire is mirrored in Hawks' bright golden eyes and Dabi swallows thickly before dropping the paper to the ground. Thankfully, remembering the reason why he called Hawks out on such short notice.
"We got a deal coming in and we need to make sure that you keep your hero friends outta the way."
"I've been working with you guys for how long now? Why do I get all these boring lookout jobs. I'm the Number Two! I got connections and skills that probably half of your League don't even got, use me to your advantage." Dabi doesn't dwell on Hawks' choice of words and merely shakes his head.
"All the more reason not to trust you. I can't just have the Number Two waltz in like it's not big deal. You gotta convince me before you get to meet the rest of us and work with us on missions. So, for now." Dabi pauses and peers down at Hawks- a frown is tugging down at a corner of the winged hero's mouth, creating a dimple. "Just be thankful that we're even letting you work with us." Dabi tastefully leaves out the part that they actually need all the help that they can get.
Best not to look desperate when trying to impress.
Hawks does not look impressed.
"Fine," Hawks relents with a groan and looks up at him expectantly waving a hand as if to tell him to continue, "Gimme the rundown so I can figure something out."
Of course the deal goes without a hitch, as Hawks said- he's got connections and he knows how to use them to his advantage. Within a ten mile radius, the whole area was like a ghost town: void of nearly everything and everyone.
It seems that Dabi is the one to be impressed.
Of course he doesn't voice that, what kind of smooth criminal would he be if he were to tell Hawks that? Instead, he nods and tells the winged hero that he did "a satisfactory job."
"Only satisfactory? You're killin' me here, smalls." Hawks complains, throwing his arms over the railing and letting them dangle listlessly. Dabi cracks a smile down at Hawks, who doesn't catch on to his smile because he's pouting at the bustling nighttime life of the city below them.
"I suppose there's always next time that you can do a better job." That only earns him a golden glare before Hawks sighs with an air of dramatics, running a hand through his windblown hair.
"Or maybe," There's a pause and Hawks grins up at him, "You just miss my handsome face and that's why you always call me out here."
"As if." Dabi scoffs.
"It's alright, your secret is safe with me." Hawks finishes with a wink. Dabi chuckles darkly, shaking his head.
"You're pretty delusional."
"See? You just called me pretty."
"Now you're just sounding desperate. I said that you're delusional, all that flying must be ruining your hearing."
"Psh, you're only jealous because my quirk is way more kick ass than yours. I have total freedom up there; nothing but me, the clouds and an occasional airplane." Dabi leans against the railing, his arms folded up and he tuts.
"Yeah. Sure. You must have a whole bunch of freedom being the dog for the government."
"Wow. Low blow." Hawks' phone pings and with a deft movement, he checks it- clicking his tongue, "As much as I like to shoot the shit with you, I gotta bounce." With that, Hawks unfurls his massive red wings- giving them a few warm up flaps before launching himself up into the night sky with ease. He shoots Dabi a quick peace sign before flying away.
Dabi watches as a single downy carmine feather floats down almost lazily in front of him. He doesn't know what drives him to do it, but he reaches out to it and grasps it between his fingers. It's soft and flutters against the wind as he turns it this way and that, inspecting it.
Before he realizes what he's doing, he gently puts the feather into his pocket and slinks off towards the fire escape. An itching cough makes its way up through his throat and he reminds himself to cut back on the cigarettes.
It's only when he's back at the hideout that he even remembers about the feather in his pocket. Dabi takes a look around the barren bar and takes it back out, it seems to glow in the dim lights of the bar.
"Oh, what's that?" Toga leans over Dabi's shoulder and contently studies the feather like a cat observing a mouse.
"Found it on the ground." There was no way in hell that Dabi was going to admit to Toga where he really got it from.
"Can I have it?"
"It's my favorite color! Please?" He quickly puts the feather away before she can try to take it and shakes her off, standing up- towering over her.
"Find your own feather, girl."
Even in the darkness of his room, he still can't take his mind off of the feather and he feels like he's starting to go crazy. His irritated thoughts are cut short when there's another itch in his throat. Dabi feels like he's coughing up a lung.
"Either die already or shut the fuck up, I'm trying to sleep." Shigaraki bangs on the wall, his muffled complain makes Dabi flip off the wall. Thankfully, the itching settles and he feels like he can breathe again. He lies back down on his mattress and closes his eyes.
"Tell me," Hawks' voice is like honey- smooth and almost sickly sweet, "What do you like about me the most?" Dabi can see that shit eating grin, even if he wasn't looking at the hero- the smugness dripping off of that question is nearly enough to make him drown. For a fleeting heartbeat, Dabi mulls over how it would feel to drown in a vat of honey. He concludes that it couldn't be the worst way to go.
Seconds seem to slip away from betwixt Dabi's fingers and he fights to keep an unassuming expression as he watches, in internal horror, Hawks' sporting grin beings to slyly curve upwards in amusement. A small voice in the back of Dabi's mind tells him to just punch the hero and abscond- a dramatic escape from the conversation yes, but at what cost? Retorts the slightly smaller voice of reason.
Possibly for the first time in his life, he decides to listen to his, albeit small, form of conscience.
He supposes that he can thank himself later for not giving Hawks a black eye.
Dabi pushes down the second urge to bolt and instead fishes through his jacket for a crumpled and nearly empty pack of Camel Crush. If Dabi wants to play this right, he'll have to be a pain in the ass. Which, by all means, isn't that hard for him to achieve anyway. He takes a quick side glance at his winged companion before igniting his cigarette and using his other hand to brush his hair from his face. He makes a mental note to have Toga trim his hair later, it's starting to get too long for his liking. If he continues to let it grow, Shigaraki will probably antagonize him later for trying to copy him.
"Well?" There's a playful lilt in Hawks' question and Dabi exhales a puff of smoke before giving the hero his own wry smirk.
"I guess I'll have to say it's when you actually shut the fuck up." He snorts as Hawks' amber eyes narrow and his cheeks puff out in what he can only assume is in offense? Defiance? Annoyance? Really, the possibilities are endless. Before he can really pinpoint Hawks' mannerisms, he watches as Hawks regains composure with an easy smile.
"Y'know," Hawks begins- eyeing Dabi's cigarette, "Being so salty must be bad for your health."
"What are you? My mom?"
"Well that would be a bit awkward, dontcha think? Seeing as you're older than me an' everything."
"Is that the one thing that would make things awkward. Not the fact that you're a man?"
"I mean," There's a lazy wave of Hawks' hand as he runs his fingers through his feathers with his other hand, "Who has time for technicalities? Besides, who knows. I could be like part, I dunno, seahorse and spewed you from my belly button or something." Dabi makes a face and takes another drag from his cigarette as he watches with disgust when Hawks pretends to shoot his hands from his stomach- waggling his fingers and of course accompanying it with sound effects.
Of all heroes to reach out to him for a good dose of double crossing, it had to be this bird brained idiot.
"You're fuckin' weird." Hawks rests his hands on his hips and tuts, Dabi is beginning to wonder if this man can ever keep his hands still for more than a few seconds at a time.
"That's no way to speak to your mother." Hawks scolds him sternly. It's at a time like this, Dabi is grateful at the fact that he's not obligated to actually stick around and deal with conversations like this.
"Yeah," Dabi drawls out- stamping his cigarette out on the gravel with the heel of his boot, "I got better things to do. Later, loser." He ignores Hawks' not so flattering squawk and continues down the littered alley.
"Wait! Why did you even call me out here if you're just gonna leave so soon? You didn't even give me a mission!" Dabi doesn't bother to look behind him and simply shrugs.
"What can I say, little bird. I just like wasting your time."
When he's far enough from the hero, another coughing fit racks through his thin body. He rests a hand against a wall of a building while his other hand beats at his chest, hoping to quell down his coughing. He feels tears start to prick at the corner of his eyes and he tries to gasp for breath between hacks.
To his complete horror, he feels something move up slowly through his throat. His panic only makes the coughing worse and he shifts to fully lean against the building as the object in his throat works its way up towards his mouth.
With one last heaving cough, it lodges itself free from his mouth and in his hand is a small white flower that's encased in a thick layer of spittle. He feels his brain start to short circuit the longer he stares at the flower.
He whips his head back in the direction that he came from, from where he had his meeting with Hawks. A sinking feeling nestles down in the pit of his stomach and he wipes any remaining spit from his mouth before igniting the flower in his hand.