Chapter 1: Dabi Catches Tomura Not Sleeping
There was something so irritating about the way he moved. The way he talked. He was so cocky. Perhaps that’s what made him such a charismatic second-in-command, but Tomura Shigaraki would never let him know that. However, with the self-assured swagger that Dabi carried himself, Tomura had a feeling he already knew. That blue flame bastard.
Whenever he entered a room, Tomura wanted to vomit. He could feel the acid in his stomach churning. He was a problem, but he was also the best guy for the job. Tomura tried his best to ignore him, to not look directly at him or acknowledge his presence as he worked on preparing a cup of ramen. He could feel Dabi staring at him and knew he had that conceited look on his face. Tomura grunted and reached a hand up, scratching at his neck. “What do you want,” he asked, finally frustrated enough to say something.
“It’s late, you know.” Dabi shifted, but Tomura didn’t look up.
“You’re eating this late?”
Tomura growled and looked over finally. A toothbrush was hanging out of Dabi’s mouth, and he was already in his pajamas. “What are you? My babysitter?”
Dabi smirked. “No, that job belongs to Kurogiri.” Tomura rolled his eyes and went back to his food. “You’re going to make yourself sick.”
“Yeah? And why is it that you care?”
A silence passed between them as Dabi contemplated his question. He hummed, amused. “I suppose you’re right. I don’t,” he replied and promptly left. Tomura rolled his eyes. Living with people sure was frustrating. It was a lot easier when it was just him and Kurogiri in this place, but now it was alive with tenants. Toga was a nightmare in her own right, but at least she minded her own business. Dabi, on the other hand, was always shoving his nose where it didn’t belong.
Well, Tomura supposed that in the end, it didn’t really matter. He shuffled off into his room and closed the door behind him.
Somewhere around three in the morning, he came out once more. He threw his ramen cup away as he would hear it from Kurogiri if he left food containers in his room. It was annoying, but he supposed being clean like that was just good manners. He shuffled to the kitchen and got a glass of water and looked around the cabinet for something to snack on.
Dabi listened for a moment to the soft shuffle in the room nearby. He was sure that Tomura Shigaraki had not slept so far that night. He had suspected for a while that the younger man was often awake and shuffling around at night, but… well, with a face like that, it was hard to tell if he was sleep deprived or if that was just his usual crusty visage.
Creeping out of bed, Dabi opened his door softly and peeked down the hall just in time to see Tomura shuffling back toward his room with water and a bag of chips. The two locked eyes. Tomura glared, annoyed that he was still awake to infuriate him. “Can I help you?”
Dabi shrugged. “Just wondering if we had a rat. Turns out it’s just you,” he replied and shut the door.
Tomura scoffed and went to his room, shutting the door behind him. “Always shoving your nose where it doesn’t belong,” he muttered.
Chapter 2: Toga Brings Home a New Friend
The rain was making quite a racket as it crashed against the roof, spilling over the edges and onto the flooded pavement below like a thunderous waterfall. In an instant, the world, which had seemed so calm before, had become drenched in a sudden downpour. Luckily, Tomura was inside. He sat at the bar, one leg over the other. Between his hands, he delicately held a cup of steaming tea much too hot to drink. He slowly breathed in, letting the earthy aroma fill his nose.
If there was a cure, a calm in the storm of unending nerves, Tomura was sure that this came close. This type of silence was comfortable. No one was around to harass him, to bother and poke and prod at him. However, the rain drowned out thoughts that otherwise crept up every time he was alone with himself.
He chuckled just barely, amused with himself. “How picturesque,” he mumbled sarcastically.
“You should go outside. You could use the extra moisture.”
Tomura jolted from his trance and looked back. Of course, it was him, standing there looking just as satisfied with himself as he always looked. The rain had drowned out Dabi’s footsteps completely; that or Tomura Shigaraki had finally stopped listening to every sliver of sound around him for five minutes. Either way, Dabi had come to ruin his attempt at serenity.
For a moment, Tomura thought about throwing his cup at him, but the thought of wasting perfectly good tea on him didn’t seem worth it. “That’s not how it works.”
“I’ve told you already,” Tomura muttered. Dabi only watched him with a cocky, knowing smirk. “It’s my quirks fault. It dries up my skin.” Tomura lifted his hand and looked it over miserably. He huffed and turned his annoyed gaze back to Dabi. “More water or lotion or chapstick won’t help. So, stop recommending it.”
“Must have slipped my mind,” Dabi replied half-heartedly. Tomura scowled and followed Dabi with his eyes as he crossed the room and stood with his back to him in front of the window. He fell into silence, taking in the rain for a long time before he finally spoke up again. “Glad I’m not out there.”
“You afraid of a little rain?”
“Fire and water don’t exactly get along, you know- ah, Toga…” Toga threw open the door and ran in. She was dripping wet from head to toe but was grinning as if she had won the lottery. “Toga! You’re letting the rain in,” Dabi complained and slammed the door shut behind her.
“Sorry, sorry,” she said impatiently, “I was just so excited to show you my new friend. Look!”
Sitting, wrapped around Toga’s right hand was a small, spiny looking snake. Tomura had never seen anything like it. It looked almost like a red dragon wyrmling that had just recently hatched. The bright orange and red spines were alluring, and he could see why Toga had been drawn to it. It was beautiful, but likely dangerous. It stared at them with dark, round eyes and flicked its tongue wildly.
“She found one of her own,” Dabi teased.
“Mmhmm! We’re going to be roommates now,” Toga replied happily.
“Where did you find that thing in the first place,” Tomura asked. He stood from his chair and set the cup of tea down firmly. “There’s no way Kurogiri is going to let that thing stay here. It’s probably poisonous.”
Toga looked confused. “But we’re friends?”
“Besides, it’s not poisonous,” Dabi said.
Tomura scoffed. “And how would you know? Are you some sort of snake expert?”
“No. Things that are poisonous hurt you when you eat them. Things that are venomous, however…”
“Venomous, poisonous, what difference does it make?”
“A huge difference. I just told y-“
Kurogiri interrupted his thought as he came into the room. The three suddenly fell into silence as though children who had been caught causing trouble. “What’s going on out here,” he asked, looking at the three suspiciously until his eyes caught sight of the snake. “Toga, what is that?”
“It’s a snake!”
“I see that. Where did it come from?”
“I swiped it from the zoo, naturally. I saw it, I liked it. I wanted it. I took it.” Toga shrugged. “It’s kind of a no brainer.”
“Sorry, but I must ask that you refrain from bringing pets into this space,” he said, opening a warp portal in front of her, “They cause a distracting mess.” Toga pouted and huffed, but threw the snake into the portal nonetheless. She glared at Kurogiri and stormed past him. They could hear her footsteps as she went into her room and slammed the door. Kurogiri sighed. “She’ll get over it eventually…”
Tomura and Dabi sat at the table, each eating breakfast casually as they silently agreed to leave each other alone for the morning. It was too early to deal with each other, after all. The TV was on, as they nonchalantly watched the news together.
“Reports of a snake bite have been confirmed. The strange snake, likely the one taken from the local zoo just days ago, has sent a man to the hospital with severe internal hemorrhaging,” the announcer reported.
Dabi smirked. “Heh, nice.”
Chapter 3: Tomura Meets a Naive Maid
The feeling of being surrounded rushed upon Tomura Shigaraki like a wave. He took a step back to avoid the new serge of people as they exited and entered the train. This was not his preferred method of travel, but if he kept his hands in his pockets, his head down, his hood up and his face mask on, he figured no one would notice him. No one ever really noticed anything. The world was blind with their own ego, and he was sure one day he could open their eyes to a new world.
For now, though, he had to play it smart and linger in the shadows, an unseen monster lurking in the darkness of their minds. Somewhere, everywhere.
As he took another step backwards, he bumped into a girl standing at the side of the train. He glanced over her quickly, judging the bright pink frilly outfit she wore. He decided she was everything he hated about society, everything All Might protected and everything he stood to lose. All these blind sheep following in their happy little flock.
“Sorry,” she said gently.
“Why are you dressed like that,” he asked, unable to help himself. His voice dripped with disgust and annoyance, but she didn’t seem to notice as she smiled in return.
“Ah, this? My uniform! I work at a maid café part time while I go to school,” she replied.
Tomura wanted to melt that smile off her face. It would be so easy, but the uproar wasn’t worth it for one simple minded lamb. If he was going to get caught, he wanted to go after the bigger boss not an NPC. “Hero schools make their students take on part time jobs, huh?”
“Hero school? Oh, do I look like a cool hero?” Rie posed playfully and laughed. “No, no. I just go to regular high school. My brother goes to UA, though.”
“Regular high school?”
“Yep! Just a regular person with a regular quirk, I guess. My brother got the much cooler version of it, but it does come in handy when working.” She gasped suddenly. Tomura was taken aback by her enthusiasm and flinched lightly. “Oh! You should come to my café. I’ll give you free refills when I’m working. They only let me do it if you buy a drink, though. You can bring your friends too!”
“Friends,” Tomura briefly wondered how the others would react if he asked them to go to a maid café. Dabi would no doubt laugh in his face. Toga would potentially be interested. However, she was a loose cannon and there was no telling if she would cause a scene. Tomura wasn’t sure she would be able to handle a room full of cute people and not lose her mind. “I’m not so sure they would be all that interested.” He smirked slowly. “I’m not particularly interested myself.”
“Aww, but everyone loves free refills! Plus, it’s the only time I really get to use my quirk. I mean, other than donating blood, I guess.” She chuckled. “I’m Rie, by the way. Um… oh!” She took out a flier and handed it to him. “Come by any time, okay? I work on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.”
He took the flier from her gingerly and looked over it with disinterest before shoving it into the front pocket of his hoodie. A silence fell between them, but Rie was watching him, smiling as if waiting for him to say something.
He hated her. He hated the way she looked, how she smiled like everyone else. How clueless she seemed. An idiot in a cutesy outfit, oblivious to the pain and suffering of others. She really was everything he hated, everything he wanted to corrupt and let rot away.
“Well,” Tomura asked, staring at her.
“What’s your name?”
“Ah! Nice to meet you, Tomura,” Rie said with a gentle excitement, “We’re friends now!”
“The pact is sealed. We told each other our names. Now, we’re friends,” she explained with an excited giggle for added punctuation. What was wrong with this kid? She really must be clueless to think that it was that easy. Then again, Tomura didn’t really know how friends were made to begin with. Perhaps it was that easy? It seemed foolish to declare it out loud, but he also couldn’t deny her eagerness. Was she always like this? Tomura knew himself well enough to know he wasn’t someone that looked like a new friend.
When the train stopped, she waved happily. “Okay, I’ll see you later,” Rie called to him as she left. Tomura stood, slightly dumbfounded, but mostly annoyed. He reached up and scratched at his neck lightly. For someone so oblivious, he found it strange that of all the people he had bumped into that day, Rie had been the only one that seemed to look up. She was the only one who had ever really acknowledged him. More than that, she didn’t once look at him with a hint of disgust or fear. Tomura scratched harder, feeling the skin becoming raw beneath his nails. “Such an idiot. Kids these days…”
Chapter 4: Tomura Gets a Cellphone
Tomura Shigaraki was sitting on the couch, lounging as he played a video game. It was a blissful afternoon. He had been in there for hours. Alone. Of course, that was when he walked in. Tomura did his best to ignore Dabi, but it was hard when he came up to him and kicked him in the leg.
“What’s your problem?”
“You’ve been hogging it all day,” Dabi replied, “Move it.”
“Why don’t you make me?”
Dabi held out his hand which slowly began to engulf itself in glowing blue flames. “Is that an invitation, crusty?”
Tomura let out a growl. “Like you could beat me, burnt toast. Besides, I was here first.” Letting the fire die down, Dabi plopped down on the couch next to him. He made sure he was irritatingly close, and it was clearly working as Tomura couldn’t help but start rubbing his neck. “You’re so rude,” he muttered and got up.
He went and grabbed some snacks before returning to the couch. Dabi had made himself comfortable with his legs outstretched. He played on his cellphone, tapping at some game. Tomura watched him, annoyed, but with interest. He plopped down next to Dabi, who glanced over at him with an annoyed huff. “You’re still here,” Dabi asked.
“I was here first.”
“You got up.”
“Only because a raisin stole my spot.”
Dabi ignored him and continued to tap at his game. Tomura leaned in just barely so he could get a better view. It looked stupid. “You know, you could just install it on your phone if you’re so interested.” When Dabi was met with silence, he glanced over to Tomura who was very clearly avoiding eye contact. “You still don’t have a phone?” Dabi stood suddenly. “Get on my bike, loser, we’re going shopping.”
“Why does it matter so much?”
“It matters a lot!” Tomura gasped softly, surprised that Dabi was taking this so seriously. It was just a game, wasn’t it? What did it matter if he could play or not? Besides, Tomura wasn’t sure he wanted to play some stupid looking phone game in the first place. It felt like a lot of money for something so unimportant. “You know, during the Stain incide-”
“Stain? Don’t know her,” Tomura said defiantly, looking away.
“Will you just listen to me? Damn, you’re like a child!”
Tomura let out an irritated sigh, reaching his hand up to his neck as he began to scratch at it in irritation. He hated that name. He hated that they brought him up. However, he knew Dabi was right. Reluctantly, he looked back over to him. “What,” he muttered, scratching harder.
Dabi shifted his weight to one hip and sighed. “I heard from one of my informants that the UA student involved used his cellphone to send the location to his fellow classmates. He sent for help using his phone, dumbass. That’s what they’re for. If we need to communicate with you quickly or help you in case something goes wrong, we can do it using the cellphone.” Dabi huffed. “You know, you can’t always rely on Kurogiri to get you out of things. You have to be resourceful, and part of that is having the right tools to help you get yourself out of trouble. It’s bad enough that you walk everywhere without telling anyone where you’re going.”
Is this…worry? Tomura wasn’t entirely sure what Dabi’s motives were. However, he could also see his point. Tomura stood. “Alright,” he replied, “Let’s go shopping.”
The two went outside together. Dabi held a helmet out to Tomura, who took it carefully, unsure of himself as he looked back up to Dabi, who had swung a leg over the motorcycle and was putting on his own helmet. Tomura followed by example and slipped it onto his head. However, when he tried to latch the strap, he found it difficult. The strap was uncomfortably close to his neck, blocked by view, and Tomura was already nervous that he was going to disintegrate the whole thing if he touched it wrong.
He fumbled with it for a while. Dabi watched, amused for a while, but slowly growing bored. He sighed. “Today would be nice,” he said, rolling his eyes, “Just come here.” Tomura glared at him, but went over, knowing he was never going to get the strap himself. Dabi reached up and hooked it for him. “Such a child,” he muttered, “Now get on.”
Tomura rolled his eyes at him. “You’re being rude, you know,” he said as he swung his leg over the motorcycle.
Dabi smirked and started the engine. “Just hold on tight, dry bones.” He revved the engine and took off. Tomura jumped at the sudden forward motion and wrapped his arms around Dabi’s waist. He could swear he could hear Dabi’s laughter over the roar of the engine, but he wasn’t exactly in the position to do anything about it.
When they arrived at the shop, Dabi parked the bike and climbed off. “Let’s go,” he said. Tomura swung his leg over. Dabi motioned for him to follow. “This is where I got mine. I’ll add you to my plan.”
“You have to pay monthly for a phone, idiot.” Dabi looked back to Tomura, who was standing somewhat dumbfounded. He looks almost… well, what did it really matter? He was being a huge pain in the ass as usual. “But don’t worry.” Dabi reached into his pocket and pulled his wallet out. He held it up and smirked. “I got a clueless benefactor who will foot the bill.”
“Oh? And how did you get that lucky?”
“Luck has nothing to do with it. This is the least he can do,” Dabi muttered, “Trust me.”
Tomura raised an eyebrow. “Sounds personal.”
“Just shut up and move it already. I have better things to do than buy your dumbass a cellphone.” Dabi turned abruptly and went into the shop. Tomura followed him. The shop was surprisingly clean and organized and far too bright. Dabi gestured toward a wall of cellphones. “Go pick one you like.”
“How will I know I like one? They’re just phones, right?”
Dabi stared at him for a long time, not understanding why Tomura was so clueless about this. “Seriously?” He sighed and went over to the wall, dragging Tomura with him. He showed him the cellphones on display and described each one casually. He gave them to Tomura Shigaraki to fiddle with until he had it narrowed down to the phone he liked.
“Will this case fit it,” Tomura asked, pointing out a black phone case with white cartoonish looking eyes all over it.
“No, but I think they have one for yours,” Dabi said as he reached across Tomura to grab the case. Tomura stiffened a bit as he did and looked away. “Is there anything else?”
“Alright then, I’ll be right back. Wait here.”
Dabi came back a while later and handed Tomura the phone, complete with its new case. “There. I’ll teach you how to use it when we get back,” he told him, “Everyone will be thrilled we can finally contact our fearless leader.”
With his new phone in hand, Tomura shot him a sideways glance, but replied with a meager, “Thank you.”
Chapter 5: Dabi Makes Pancakes
Tomura sleepily wandered into the kitchen, shuffling his feet and rubbing at his face with a long black sleeve. He yawned and stretched his back by pulling one shoulder up, letting it crackle. Toga watched him with mild curiosity. She sat on a barstool at the counter, swinging her legs to an unheard rhythm. Tomura pulled up a stool and sat, looking up to see the back of… Dabi.
“What are you doing? Where’s Kurogiri?”
“He’s out.” Dabi didn’t turn to look at him as he flipped a pancake over. The loud sizzle of wet batter hitting the hot pan filled the air.
Tomura wrinkled his nose, not caring for the answer. “Out?”
“That’s what I said, isn’t it?” Dabi smirked to himself, not even sparing Tomura a glance. “He had business he needed to attend to. He asked me to make the sire his breakfast.”
“He did not.”
“Why would I lie about this?”
“Because…” Tomura fell silent, unsure of the answer himself. However, he didn’t think Dabi would take up such a task even if he was asked. “It’s unrealistic,” he replied.
Tomura glared at the back of his head. He always did that. His smug little noise that suggested that he knew more than Tomura. “So, fine,” he said, “I accept that Kurogiri asked you to make breakfast, but why would you choose to make pancakes?” Tomura’s shoulders tensed and dropped as he cringed at the idea. “Pancakes are disgusting.”
Silence fell over the room. No one spoke. The only sound in the room was the gentle crackling of the frying pan. Dabi flicked his tongue over his lips, closing his eyes and grinning. He turned toward Tomura and opened his eyes, pointedly staring Tomura Shigaraki dead in the eyes. “What did you just say?” Toga gasped excitedly and leaned forward on her hands, looking between the two.
“I said pancakes are disgusting,” Tomura said, narrowing his eyes, “Revolting, sickening, repulsive. They’re thick and dry.”
Dabi let out an amused chuckle. “Sounds half-assed coming from you, you know.”
“You know, I’m really getting tired of the dry jokes.”
“Well, that’s funny, you know,” Dabi replied, “Because I’m getting tired of the burnt ones. Maybe we can come to some sort of arrangement.”
“Only if you make me waffles instead.”
“Why would I make you waffles? Waffles are awful. You can’t spread anything on it because it gets stuck in those unnecessary holes.”
“Those holes are completely necessary,” Tomura replied with a huff, “They make the waffle crispier instead of doughy and floppy.”
“But you can stack them. Who stacks waffles? No one. It’s stupid. Pancakes are soft for a reason and it’s to make a pile of them ten high so you can stuff your face with buttery goodness.”
“That’s the worst thing I’ve ever heard you say.”
“I assure you, it’s not.”
Tomura glared at him. “I’m not eating pancakes,” he muttered, “It’s the same batter, so what’s the big deal?”
“Waffle irons are a pain in the ass to clean. You can make pancakes while camping, so they’re much more convenient. They don’t need a separate machine like some high maintenance lover. If you think I’m going to go through the extra trouble for you…” Dabi looked Tomura up and down and laughed. “You’re out of your mind.” Dabi turned back to his cooking. “You eat what I make or you’re on your own,” he said.
Tomura stood. Toga watched as he disappeared down the hall. She waited, hearing the footsteps down the stairs and eventually through the main bar and out of the main door. She let out an insane giggle, eyes flashing with interest as she looked back over to Dabi. “You two are sure passionate about the most mundane things.”
“Want to know a secret?” Dabi set a plate in front of her. “Just between you and me, okay?”
“I don’t really care either way. I like both,” Dabi admitted, “But he’s sort of fun to piss off, isn’t he?”
Chapter 6: Tomura Makes a Decision
The bar was surprisingly lackluster that day. Everyone was busy with different missions. Tomura was the only one who seemed to be around. To make it worse, he was drained, dead tired from another sleepless night of wandering the halls like a worn-out ghost. He was bored to death of all his games.
Bored. Alone. Tomura stuffed his hands into his pockets, when he felt something. He pulled it out, perplexed by the paper. “Ah…” He looked over the cutesy pink and white flier for the maid café. Tomura wrinkled his nose, thinking back to his meeting on the train with that girl. What was her name? Did it matter? The useless, disgusting little sheep.
She was a nameless bug that needed to be squished, snuffed out, left to rot in a forgotten grave. Alone. She didn’t deserve to be so happy, so content with life. Tomura balled his hand, wrinkling the paper further. How he longed to gouge her pretty, little eyes out. Perhaps then, the smile pressed onto her soft pink lips would fade.
“Nothing,” Tomura snapped back, stuffing the paper back his pocket, “Mind your own business. You’re so disorderly and rude that it makes me want to vomit.”
“Oh? Who’s being rude now, huh?” Dabi smirked. “I just got back.”
“Nothing really interesting to report. The preparations are on their way. Just as planned, boss.”
Tomura snorted, glaring at him as he approached the bar. Dabi looked just as cocky as ever. It made Tomura’s toes curl, his skin crawl, just to have him around. However, despite all the things he hated about him, Dabi was incredibly useful and a powerful leader. Perhaps that only made it worse that he had to suffer his constant attitude. “Problem?”
“Not really,” Dabi said slowly, watching Tomura closely, “But I am curious what you’re hiding.”
“It’s really none of your business.”
“Most things aren’t my business. But here I am, involving myself in wars that aren’t mine to get what I want.”
“If that’s supposed to be a threat, it’s not a very good one.” Tomura let out of a scoff, reaching his hand up to scratch at the raw spot on his neck in irritation. The sooner Dabi left, the better, but the creep tended to linger when he knew he was being a thorn in Tomura’s side. It was entirely frustrating, and somehow thrilling.
“No threat.” Dabi chuckled.
Tomura looked over to him, narrowing his eyes. “Then get out of my face.”
“You don’t sleep much,” Dabi started. He watched Tomura for a reaction. He seemed pleased when Tomura let out a soft, but surprised gasp. Dabi smirked. “Do you?”
“And what’s it to you?”
“Well, if you’re tired, you won’t be a very good leader, will you? Maybe you should relax. Take a lavender bath.” Dabi let out a slow, taunting chuckle. “Your skin could use all the help it could get.” Tomura tensed. He wanted to reach up and choke him; he wanted to make Dabi disappear into dust, ash. But he was useful. He was observant. Tomura couldn’t deny that Dabi was clever. Dabi looked all too pleased with himself.
Dabi moved away from the bar and crossed the room toward the back. “Or maybe you should go visit your friends. You know, relax a little. If all you do is work, you’ll be a very dull, lifeless boy.” Dabi snickered to himself as he made his way upstairs to his room. Tomura tensed, miserably scratching at his neck long after Dabi had left.
When he finally calmed down, he stuffed his hands into his pocket. Tomura grunted in realization. He pulled the paper back out and looked over it once more. He grinned, his lips cracking as his smile spread wider across his face. “Perhaps it is time to pay her a little visit. She did promise free refills, after all. Who am I to disappoint… a friend?”
Chapter 7: Tomura Visits a Maid Cafe
To say Tomura Shigaraki looked out of place would have been a vast understatement. Not only did he look like a creep, but he moved with the certainty of a stalker. He looked around the room, passing up every frilly nightmare until his eyes fell on the person he was looking for. She was dressed in a brown skirt with suspenders that had frills over her white shirt. Tomura absently wondered how many atrocious dresses she had, and why she put up with such a demeaning job.
She must be either desperate or stupid, he thought, though desperation had only come to his mind just now. Desperation. A job she had to work during high school. Why? Sure, it was societal nature for high school students to get a part time job, but perhaps this was different. Perhaps she needed the job. Her brother was going to UA, after all, and a place like that couldn’t have been cheap.
Though, Tomura wasn’t sure how families paid for it to begin with. Perhaps it was all scholarship, which implied that the working class paid for these children to play superhero. The thought made Tomura’s lip curl. “Welcome,” a cheerful voice said, pulling him out of his musings. “Is there a particular maid you were interested in today?”
“Yes.” Tomura lifted a hand gingerly and pointed to Rie. “That one there. The one in the brown dress.”
“Sure thing,” she replied and led him to a table in Rie’s area, “She’ll be with you soon, so please wait here.”
The maid left, and true to her word, Rie came moments later after quickly visiting and checking on her other customers. She perked up when she saw him. “Oh! Good afternoon, Tomura. It’s nice to see you again.” Tomura wasn’t sure what to think of her, and his face read just as blank as he felt. How could she remember him? He couldn’t remember her name or honestly most things about her except the things he had despised. How was it that she could remember so easily?
He reached a hand up and scratched at his neck. “You must really like people… to remember names like that.”
“I do,” she confirmed happily. Gross. “What would you like today?”
“Why don’t you surprise me?”
Rie thought for a moment. “Well, I assume you want a drink, but what about food?”
“Do you like sweet or savory things?”
“Do you like coffee?”
Rie seemed to think for a moment before smiling and nodding. “Okay, I think I can put together an appropriate meal for you. Please wait here, and if there’s anything else I can get you, please let me know.” She went off to the back, leaving Tomura alone once more.
He glanced around the room. A nightmare, really, in all manner of the word. A pink and white nightmare with girls using fake smiles and voices as if no one noticed. Honestly, it was rightful to assume that no one did. Everyone was happy. Wasn’t that the game they all played? What a happy little world, full of safe, happy little people, floating through a happy little daydream. Tomura tapped his finger on the table, scratching at his neck with his free hand.
Coming here was certainly a mistake, but it made him more aware than ever that what he was doing was right. It disgusted him, watching them. It reconfirmed for him that life and people were just as fake as he thought.
And then there was her. Tomura glanced up to her slowly as she came back to the table and set a coffee cup on the table. She took out a bottle of chocolate syrup and quickly drew a rabbit on the foam with one ear flopped over just so. He watched in deafening silence; his face was blank as he took it in. “One latte for you,” she said happily, “Let me know when you need a refill. I did say they were free, right?”
“Right. I’m most looking forward to free refills, of course. That’s why I came.” 'And to disintegrate your eyes.'
“That’s why everyone comes to see me,” Rie chirped back happily, “But I don’t mind.” 'I could destroy you.' “I’ll be back soon with your meal.” 'Why aren’t you terrified of me?' “Enjoy.” 'Why don’t you run?' Rie waved and headed to other tables to take care of them.
For a long time, Tomura followed her around the room with his eyes. When she left his eyesight, he glanced down at the drink. The little bunny with the hearts floating above its head bore holes in his head with its insufferable stare. He tapped a finger on the table and picked up the drink. If anyone saw him drinking this, he would surely lose all his merit he had painstakingly collected. For all the harsh failures, for all the setbacks, this would be hard to come back from.
He sipped the latte, absently wondering why she could give free refills. Maid cafes in generally were not exactly generous in the way they conducted business. He absently sipped at the drink, looking around at the people enjoying the cutesy atmosphere. He felt like he stood out, and yet, somehow, he seemed to blend in. No one really gave him a second glance; there were sugary sweet maids running around, after all.
“For your meal,” Rie said as she set down the plate in front of Tomura, snapping him out of his thoughts. She giggled to herself. “Sweet Heart Curry!” Tomura looked over the plate, absolutely flabbergasted by what was in front of him. On a pastel pink, heart shaped plate sat a lump of heart shaped rice with heart shaped, pink and white radish slices and some greens for emphasis and likely for color. Rie gently spooned pink curry around the heart with delicate precision. “It’s one of my favorites! So cute,” she said happily. Tomura felt his lip twitch in irritation.
Tomura knew, deep down, that he would never hear the end of this if Dabi were to ever find out. And yet, the smell that came from the curry was enticing, like a long-lost meal from a childhood that time had forgot.
“Oh, you’re finished with your drink,” Rie said excitedly.
Tomura glanced to it absently. “Oh, yeah… I guess that means I get a free refill?”
“Mmhmm,” Rie said, with a cheerful glint in her voice. It almost sounded mischievous, and Tomura felt himself become more curious. She put her hand toward the glass, and it began to refill itself until it was full once more. “There you go!”
“Ah… so, this is what you meant when you said you could use your quirk at work. Charming.”
“But ultimately useless,” Rie teased.
“On the contrary. I can think of several uses for such a quirk. Are you limited to food items? You mentioned blood when we met on the train, isn’t that right?”
“Yep! I refill blood donation bags at the hospital.” 'Why am I not surprised?' “It’s not limited to food, obviously. I can refill any liquid to a varying degree of temperatures. I mean, getting a hot coffee refilled into a lukewarm coffee would be a huge bummer, right?”
“I suppose.” 'She has no idea what sort of possibilities her quirk presents… perhaps not legal ones, however…' “What sort of limitations do you have? Have you tested it?”
“Mm, a little. As long as they’re contained, I can regenerate the last liquid that was in a specific container. Umm… meaning, I can’t make your latte into another drink like a smoothie or water. I can only make more of the same drink. And naturally, I can’t regenerate the toppings,” Rie replied. It was fun to have someone interested in her quirk!
Tomura smirked. “Would you be interested… in a second part time job?”
“A second one,” Rie asked excitedly, “Do you know a place?”
“I know a place…”
Chapter 8: Dabi and Tomura Visit Cafe Quell
Tomura Shigaraki burst through the door, his hands curled and his lips straight and tense. Dabi immediately followed after him, his teeth clutched together and his forehead tight. He reached out and grabbed Tomura by the shoulder and spun him around. “Where the hell do you think you’re going,” Dabi yelled, “You think you can just run and hide in your room? Face up to it!”
Tomura stared at him, shoulders shaking as he held himself back. “Don’t touch me,” he replied, voice low. Kurogiri, who was busy behind the counter, glanced between the two curiously. He suspected that the mission had not gone well.
“What are you going to do about it?”
“Do you really want to lose an arm, Dabi,” Tomura hissed.
“You think you’re fast enough?” Dabi let out a low, dangerous chuckle. “You couldn’t even grab the flashdrive before we left!”
“And whose fault is it that we had to run in the first place?”
“A real leader would take the blame for a failed mission instead of trying to guilt the people around him.”
“What are you trying to say?”
“Oh, I’m sorry. Was it too hard to understand? I can speak slower, if you need me to. Use smaller words.”
“Take it back!” Tomura flexed his fingers, body shaking with rage as he threw his hand forward toward Dabi.
Dabi jumped back, but Shigaraki’s hand had caught the edge of his jacket and left a crumbled mess at the edges. Dabi rolled his shoulders. Blue flames erupted from his skin as he glared across the room at Tomura. “You really want to get into this? Because I’m sick of dancing around it, Shigaraki.” Tomura narrowed his eyes at hearing his name hissed at him. He widened his stance, holding his arms out as he prepared himself for Dabi’s attack.
“That’s enough,” Kurogiri yelled, warping them away with ease to the middle of a calm café.
It looked all together quite ordinary, but as soon as Tomura realized where they were, he stopped dead in his tracks. “Wait,” he told Dabi.
Dabi growled. “I don’t care where he sent us! I’ll destroy this whole block just to watch you burn!” He advanced on Tomura, flames whipping wildly around him as his gaze fixated on him.
“Idiot, I’m telling you to wait before…”
The air filled with a delicate sweet lemon scent as a young man with long, white bunny ears approached them, holding a teapot gracefully in his hands. Tomura and Dabi breathed in, eyes rolling back as they sucked in the aroma. Dabi let out a soft shutter as his flames died down. “So glad you could drop by,” the rabbit said. He motioned toward a table in the corner. “It would be much easier to serve you if you would take a seat.” The two nodded slowly and with their eyes glazed over, went to sit at the table.
The waiter followed them and poured them both cups of tea. “I’ll be back with menus,” he told them and went off to work.
Tomura let out a sigh. When the waiter moved away from them, he regained some of his thoughts. Dabi reached up and touched his head, groaning. “What the hell,” Dabi asked.
“We’re in Café Quell.”
“It’s used as a neutral zone. A place where the creatures of the underground can make deals with those that dwell in All Might’s dazzling light.” Tomura wrinkled his nose, reaching up with both hands to scratch at the sides of his neck. “Among other reasons, the point is… something about this place,” he said, looking around, “It keeps people calm, docile. Violence isn’t allowed inside these walls, and they prevent it using… something.”
“People speculate that it’s the tea…”
“It does smell nice,” Dabi commented. He sighed and took a drink. “I know why I was mad, but it’s like all the rage has been ripped out of me. It feels like it doesn’t matter.”
The waiter returned and set down two menus. “It will likely return if the issues aren’t talked through while you’re here,” he said to Dabi’s unspoken question, “As long as this is a mere spat, of course, and not a full blown rivalry.”
“A spat,” Tomura repeated, “I suppose it can be called that.”
“My name is Toichi. I’m the owner of this café. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” He seemed too young to run a café. Dabi was sure he looked like he should be in high school. “And it’s nice to see you again, Tomura Shigaraki.” He chuckled gently as Tomura glanced over to him, unamused.
Dabi looked over the menu casually, looking up at Tomura briefly. “You want something,” he asked.
“I said,” Dabi repeated, “Do you want something? I’ll uh… buy you something.” Now that he wasn’t filled with rage, he couldn’t help but feel slightly guilty. Tomura had attacked him first, sure, but Dabi had certainly provoked him until he had lost what little composure he had. Tomura gave a small nod in response and looked over the menu. The two ordered light meals and the café owner went off to take care of other customers.
Tomura watched as Toichi trotted over to a student in a UA jacket and talked with him happily. They must have been friends. He briefly wondered if the student understood the workings of the café he was sitting in or if he was just another clueless hopeful. “Hey, uh…” Tomura glanced over to Dabi. “I shouldn’t have… you know,” Dabi said awkwardly, “Said what I said. Pushed you like that.”
Tomura relaxed a bit at the gesture. “You were right, though,” he replied, “I’m the leader and if my team fails, it means I’ve failed them.”
A silence passed between them. Dabi was grateful when Toichi came back and sat their food in front of them. At least the silence could be filled with eating. He picked up his sandwich and took a bite, chancing a glance to Tomura who seemed lost in thought. “Don’t beat yourself up about it,” Dabi said, feeling his stomach drop.
“I know I keep failing you,” Tomura mumbled. He didn’t dare to look Dabi in the eyes and kept them fixated on the sugar packets off to the side of the table. “I know,” he continued, “I know that I’m not what you’d picture as your ideal leader, but I… I’ll keep trying. Over and over. Until I become your ideal. No matter how many times it takes.”
Dabi looked taken aback by the gesture. He nodded slowly and looked away from him. “I’ll,” he started, “I’ll try to be more patient. I just… have something that I need done. I’ve waited so long. It’s hard to wait anymore.”
“I know,” Tomura replied, “Me too.”
Chapter 9: Tomura and Dabi Go to the Convenience Store
Dabi adjusted his leather jacket as he looked over himself in the mirror. Well, at least he looked halfway decent. His eyes moved over the burns on his face as he tilted his neck this way and that to get a good look at them. He rolls his eyes at himself, annoyed that he cared so much about his outward appearance.
He knew that, for now, it made him look tough and therefore cool because of his age, but over time, that image wouldn’t last. He would only look more and more like a criminal. A monster. A stain on an otherwise spotless and beautiful society.
Scoffing to himself, Dabi left his room and went out to the main lounge area where Tomura sat, curled up on the couch playing some online game. He had his headset on and was currently trash-talking what was likely some punk preteen. He leaned in the doorway, watching him as he played through his match. Tomura glanced over a few times, but Dabi made no effort to move or explain himself.
When the match ended, Tomura threw off his headset and growled. “Stupid brat,” he spat.
“Fighting with little kids again, boss?”
Tomura shot him a glance but made no effort to fire back as he stood up and turned off the system. “I’m sick of this game anyway.”
“How about something a little different than your usual routine than?”
“You sound like you have something in mind,” Tomura replied as he glanced over to Dabi with interest.
“Yeah, it’s called a movie.”
“Sure, we can pirate a couple. Buy some snacks? I’m bored, throw me a bone here.”
Tomura seemed to hesitate as he thought it over. Was it a trap? A trick? Was it Toga pretending to be Dabi? She wouldn’t dare. “Why me,” he asked finally, “And why don’t you just go out like you normally do. Do the whole bar thing.”
“I’m sick of going out.”
“I mean it,” Dabi replied, “Besides, why not you? You think I want to sit and watch a movie with any of the others? I doubt they could even keep quiet long enough to watch an entire movie.” Tomura let out a soft chuckle as he glanced away, thinking it over for a little longer before he finally nodded.
First, they needed to buy snacks. So, they left to go to the convenience store down the street which was, admittedly, frequented by Tomura Shigaraki. The door chimed as they entered in the door and the teenager behind the counter greeted them before returning to his customer. Dabi immediately headed toward the coffee machine while Tomura stood, lazily blocking the door as he glanced around the shop. He knew they would be watching movies together, but what were appropriate movie snacks? Coffee seemed to be one. He supposed, finally, that it really didn’t mattered. Tomura wasn’t really sure why he was overthinking it in the first place.
The two went around the store, each picking out things they liked or sounded good. At one point Dabi held up a bag so Tomura could see it above the isle divide. “Do you like these,” he asked.
“Never had ‘em.”
“Seriously,” Dabi asked, sounding shocked, “I used to eat these all the time as a kid. I’m going to get them so you can try.” Tomura let out a soft snort, chuckling to himself as he went back to picking things out.
By the end of their mini adventure, each boy had an entire bag of snacks at their disposal. So, they decide to head back. When they got to the bar, they went upstairs and paused. Tomura started toward the main lounge area.
“Hey,” Dabi called out to him, “Do you want to watch in my room? We won’t get bothered by anyone.” Tomura shrugged in response and went down the hall instead, but immediately paused as he came face to face with Dabi’s bedroom door. He stared at it, gripping the bag that hung in his hand as he hesitated. Dabi stood behind him. “Go ahead,” Dabi told him, sounding mildly amused, “I’m giving you my permission.”
Glancing back to Dabi, Tomura briefly wondered if it was Toga playing a prank on him after all. Dabi’s bedroom was like a myth. No one had ever been allowed into it. Still, maybe this was an opportunity to snoop around and see what the mysterious Dabi was really into. A room was a window into someone’s personality, and Tomura did wonder, much to his annoyance, what Dabi was really like when he wasn’t putting on his carefully controlled façade.
He reached up with his free hand and opened the door, letting the door swing open before he stepped inside. Dabi followed, chuckling to himself as he reached up to turn on the lights. “Just put your bags wherever,” he said, setting his bags at the foot of the bed before shrugging off his jacket.
Tomura followed his lead and set the bag down near his before he looked around. Perhaps disappointingly, the room was perfectly ordinary. He glanced around at the laundry thrown haphazardly on the floor, lotions and various face masks, a sketchbook laying on its face so prying eyes couldn’t peek and band posters. ‘Wait…’ Tomura pointed to the poster. “You like them,” he questioned.
“Yeah? What about it?”
“I like them,” Tomura said, sounding mildly offended.
Dabi scoffed. “Great, time to burn everything I own from them,” he teased.
Tomura was silent, smirking to himself, as he took off his own jacket and threw it down near his bag on the floor. “Did you… hear they were having a concert nearby,” he asked tentatively, not daring to look over at Dabi. He shifted his weight to one foot, rolling his shoulder as he looked over the clutter on the floor.
“Of course,” Dabi replied, “Row one.”
Dabi laughed. “Where are you?”
“Row five,” Tomura muttered.
“Aww didn’t get them fast enough, huh?”
Dabi hummed thoughtfully. “Maybe we can convince whoever’s next to me to trade spots,” he said with a mischievous gleam in his eye. He pulled over his laptop, sat on the bed and pulled up a random movie. Tomura looked at the random assortment of stuff on Dabi’s dresser absently. He was waiting for permission, he supposed, to join him.
It felt strange somehow. He wasn’t really sure what he should do in a situation like this. Although everything was perfectly casual, Tomura felt out of place; maybe it was because he had always been more or less alone. He did like hanging around with Dabi. Despite how hard he tried to resist, Tomura knew that Dabi could understand, even empathize, with him. There was comfort and reassurance in that.
“Are you going to just stare at my knickknacks all night… or?”
Tomura glanced over at him. “Of course not,” he replied as he walked toward the bed and sat down, “They aren’t even that interesting anyway.”
Chapter 10: Tomura and Dabi Go to a Convention (Part One)
There was an excited buzz in the air that day as hundreds of people descended upon the convention center. Tomura Shigaraki was part of that crowd, along with Dabi who stood next to him with eyes glazed over in disinterest. The two moved with the flowing crowd like fish following a stream. “Just keep your hands in your pockets,” Dabi muttered, “We don’t need any accidents before the real fireworks show.”
“I know how to handle myself in crowds,” Tomura shot back, glancing at him from the corner of his eyes.
“Yeah, well, you just seem so giddy and distracted that I couldn’t help but wonder if you forgot the reason we’re here.”
Tomura rolled his eyes at him and continued to look at the schedule as they went upstairs. He skimmed it quickly, noting a few different things that sounded interesting, but if he was really going to sell Dabi, he knew he needed to start with something a little more in his comfort zone. “Look, they have an area to play games. We should go check it out.”
“We have business.”
“What are we going to do? Stand awkwardly in the parking garage for a few hours.” Tomura asked, “Surely that won’t seem suspicious at all.”
Dabi supposed that his leader was right. It would look strange if two punks were just standing around where they shouldn’t be. Blending into the crowd was a better strategy, and one that might also be a good cover for later. Though, as Dabi glanced over to Tomura, he wondered if he was thinking about strategy at all. “You just want to play games.”
“You’re not wrong…”
He sighed, rolling his eyes. “Fine. Where is it?”
“It’s on the top floor. Room 6A,” Tomura replied. The two eventually found their way to a large open room with computers, TVs and large screens set up. He was all at once impressed and overwhelmed by just how many people were inside playing games. Dabi could almost taste his excitement. “Whoa, look,” Tomura said, motioning toward a contest sign up, “A fighting game tournament. We should enter.”
“Hmm.” Dabi took a moment to think it over. “Well, it would be fun to kick your ass in front of a large crowd.”
Tomura smirked and glared playfully. “You’re on.”
The two signed up for the contest, but still had plenty of time before the initial matches were held. Tomura lowered his face mask and took a swig of water as Dabi looked around at the crowd. He hit Tomura in the arm to get his attention and motioned toward a group of idol cosplayers. “You think they’d be creeped out if we asked them for a picture,” Dabi asked, “You know… for Toga. She’d think they were cute.”
“They’re dressed up at a convention for a reason,” Tomura replied, “They probably want the attention.”
Dabi nodded. Mostly, he had wanted to make sure Tomura wouldn’t think he was weird for asking for one. He went over to the group and smiled casually as he took out his phone. “Do you mind if I take a photo of you?”
“Of course,” they said excitedly and got together in a planned formation. Dabi nodded his thanks and took a few pictures. “Thank you,” they said as he left, which he returned casually.
He went back over to Tomura who was leaning over a ledge that looked over a large room. “They have food down there,” he said as Dabi walked up and leaned next to him, “You hungry?”
“It’s probably going to be overpriced.”
“Yeah, probably.” Tomura shrugged. The two made their way downstairs and looked the food over. It was all perfectly ordinary stuff. In fact, it was mostly stuff that would be available at any convenience store. However, this came with the added bonus of not walking down the street. Nothing particularly looked good, and Tomura was sure convenience store food would have been much more appealing. “I guess this looks okay,” he muttered, picking one of the sandwiches from the case.
Dabi motioned toward the glass case near the counter. “Look, they have stupid anime girl cupcakes.” Tomura looked them over. They were ultimately completely ordinary with only one real exception: on top of the mound of frosting sat a cardboard cutout of an anime girl. Dabi couldn’t help but chuckle. “You want one? I’m buying one.”
“You can’t be serious.”
“I’m incredibly serious.”
“It looks stupid.”
Laughing, Dabi nodded. “I know.” After picking through the items, the two eventually hobbled together something that could be considered a small meal. Of course, there was no place to sit. Hundreds of people and only three tables. Tomura started walking toward the staircase, but before they could approach, the staff was already migrating people away from the area.
Dabi looked around. “Where to now?”
“It’s like they don’t expect people to need to sit to eat…”
“Maybe we’re just weird.”
Tomura smirked. “We’re more than weird. We’re freaks, remember?”
“Maybe one of us,” Dabi shot back lightheartedly as he began to walk away. They eventually found an area with a small water feature which had places to sit around it. They sat down and ate their medley of food, devouring the cupcakes between small fits of shared laughter.
After they finished, Tomura looked over the guidebook. Dabi, who tried not to look interested, glanced over his shoulder at the schedule. “Cosplay contest,” he asked.
“Yeah,” Tomura said with a little too much excitement in his voice, “People build and make pretty cool stuff.”
“You want to go,” Dabi asked with a twinkle of amusement in his voice.
“I mean, if you do.” Dabi shrugged with a smirk in response. “Hmm, but it’s not for a couple hours,” Tomura continued, “So… do you want to go to the merch hall and check some stuff out? They usually have artists and stuff too.”
“You’re pretty well-versed in all this stuff.”
“What,” Tomura shot back, “No, I… I read about it online.”
“Let’s just go,” Tomura muttered and stood up, quickly making his way toward the merch hall. Dabi laughed and followed him.
Chapter 11: Tomura and Dabi Go to a Convention (Part Two)
Tomura and Dabi made their way through the crowds as they were herded into the main area of the merchandise hall. Booths lined the room, making perfect isles of all sorts of stuff to buy. There was a bit of everything. From the entrance, they could already see posters, figures, books, stuffed animals and large mystery bags, which was likely full of things the shop couldn’t get rid of otherwise.
“Oh hey, look at these,” Dabi said as he went over to a display full of scale figures.
Tomura followed him over with a confident smirk. “I have a few of these in my room.”
Dabi glanced over to him. “I’m surprised you don’t have dozens of them lining your bed, creep,” he said with a flash of playful sarcasm in his eyes.
Returning a half-assed glare, Tomura rolled his eyes as he motioned to one from the fighting game that they would be playing later. “I have that one there.”
“You would,” Dabi teased, but he had to admit that the figure was incredibly detailed with a dynamic pose.
They wandered off to another booth, distracted by cosplayers, people, music and several interesting items. Dabi smirked as he put on a black catpaw glove and took a picture of himself. Tomura, who had been looking at character keychains, glanced over and let out a soft, surprised grunt. “What are you doing,” Tomura demanded.
Dabi hummed. “Don’t judge me because you’re jealous,” he said as he took another picture, “I think Toga would like these. We should buy her some.”
“You…” Tomura sighed. “She would, yeah. What color should we get her?”
“Well, there’s pink ones, but that feels obvious. I like the calico ones better.”
“It’d match her uniform she always wears too,” Tomura mumbled, looking away. Dabi laughed, secretly admiring the attention to detail. He nodded in agreement. Dabi pulled out cash and paid for a box of cat paws for Toga. “Hey, we’re going to miss the contest if we hang out any longer,” Tomura said as he showed the time on his phone for emphasis.
“Okay, okay.” Dabi paid quickly and left with Tomura to head back to the gaming hall.
The two entered the tournament. For a while, they were able to watch each other play their match. However, there came a point where they had to go against each other. Tomura was straight faced and dead serious as he sat down next to Dabi, who was laughing at the level of focus he had. “You’re really serious about this, huh,” Dabi teased.
“If I lose to a mobile game player, I’ll never live it down.”
“Oh? My, my, and you call me rude.”
“Make all the jokes you want.” Tomura Shigaraki looked over with a look of confident determination that Dabi had never seen before. This, Dabi thought, was the look of a fearless leader. One that would rebuild society and lead them into the future. A glimmer of what could be. Dabi watched him in awe. “You won’t break my focus,” Tomura continued.
Dabi smirked. “We’ll see.”
Although they were evenly matched for a moment or two, it was clear that Tomura had the advantage. He had more time into the game, and although Dabi had a fair few tricks up his sleeve, Tomura had seen them from previous game sessions and had learned how to counter them. Although Dabi lost, he couldn’t help but feel flattered. Tomura had clearly been practicing to specifically go against him.
“While you were out partying, I was mastering my skills,” Tomura said, standing. Dabi glanced up at him, seeing the flash of a playful smirk as Tomura looked away from him.
Dabi hummed. “I suppose I’ll just have to spend the rest of the tournament cheering you on, huh?”
It was no surprise to Dabi that Tomura had won the entire tournament despite the loud cheering from Dabi that threatened to distract him. He clapped, chuckling to himself as he looked over Tomura who was clearly embarrassed by the amount of attention. Yet, Dabi could tell it excited him. He let Tomura have his moment in the spotlight as he looked over the schedule absently.
Tomura eventually made his way back over to him. “Lipsync battle,” Dabi read out loud. Tomura peeked over at the schedule curiously.
“It sounds interesting. You wan’na go?”
The two went over to the room only to find a tremendous line extending down the hall, around the corner, up the stairs, around another corner, up more stairs and across the balcony overlooking the room. “It just keeps going,” Tomura said, amazed at how many people were even in the building, let alone in this line.
“I didn’t even know there were this many people in the city.”
“Right? Where did they all come from?”
Dabi smirked. “Maybe they just hide in their room all day like you,” he taunted.
“Shut up,” Tomura muttered.
When they reached the end of the line, Dabi leaned over the railing to look at the people below. “Look at that,” he said. Tomura hesitated and leaned over the railing to see where Dabi was pointing. Below them was someone in large, heavy armor. “That must be a pain to walk around in.”
“I bet they don’t get very far, though,” Tomura replied as he noticed them getting stopped for pictures. The two stood in line, people watching until it finally began to move. When they got inside the large room with rows of chairs, they went over to sit near the isle on the far side. After another wait, the show started.
Tomura found himself laughing at the song choice for the character. It was strangely perfect and yet not the first song that would ever come to mind. Dabi glanced over to him and smirked at the reaction. There was something cute about the light wheeze in Tomura’s laugh. There was always a dry rasp to his voice. Dabi imagined that, like his skin, that too was his quirks fault. He couldn’t help but find it endearing.
There were many different acts, each one with their own charm. Some were dramatic and emotional and others were more comedic. Dabi and Tomura found themselves enthralled by the whole thing, amazed that people were brave enough to get on stage in front of people in the first place.
A group of girls, each in a different pastel colored, frilly dress, came on stage. Tomura was briefly reminded of the Wild Wild Pussycats. He could have sworn he saw Dabi sit up taller in his chair. They introduced themselves to the audience and began their bubbly pop song complete with an elaborate choreographed dance.
“You should do that,” Dabi commented.
“Get up on stage in an idol outfit.”
Tomura glanced over to him, narrowing his eyes in confusion and disgust. “What? No way.”
“Because idols are obnoxious smiley balls of sunshine and I’m me.”
Dabi smirked. “They aren’t always that, you know. Sometimes they’re suave gentleman or punk bitches.” He laughed and reached over to play with the frayed bits in the hole of Tomura’s black jeans. Tomura gasped gently in surprise but didn’t pull away. He glanced down Dabi’s hand and back up at him. The two stared, silently as time seemed to stand still.
As the idols finished their performance, the rush of clapping filled the room. Tomura and Dabi turned away from each other. Dabi removed his hand from Tomura’s thigh. The spot, which had been warmed under his body heat, suddenly felt a rush of cold that caused a shiver to run up Tomura’s spine. They both clapped along lazily with the crowd.
When the contest ended, Dabi stood. “We should get back. It’s getting late.”
Tomura looked up at him, his heart skipping in his chest as he hesitated. He wasn’t sure what had happened. It all felt like a surreal blur, and now Dabi was acting as if nothing had happened at all. Perhaps Tomura had been reading into it. Dabi always teased him, after all, and so it was easily just one more attempt to throw him off.
Standing, Tomura followed Dabi out of the convention center and down the street. Neither spoke for a long time. As they approached the bar, Dabi glanced over to Tomura. With a soft chuckle, he leaned over and nudged Tomura with his shoulder.
“Watch it,” Tomura muttered.
Dabi laughed. He ran a hand through his hair and looked away. “By the way,” he started, “I like those jeans on you… they look cool.”
Tomura felt a strange flutter in his chest, but he quickly pushed the feeling down. The two returned to the bar. As they came inside, Toga happily bounded up to them. “Well? Well,” she asked, a glint of murderous glee in her eyes, “How did it go? Were the screams like music?”
The two boys exchanged glances. “Shit,” Dabi muttered.
Chapter 12: Tomura and Dabi Share an Umbrella
At some point during their time inside the store and now, it had begun to rain. Dabi stared out from under the cover at the bleak, grey sky in disgust. Tomura seemed amused as he looked him over and stepped out into the pouring rain. “Don’t tell me you’re afraid of a little rain,” he taunted, “Someone as high level as you?”
Dabi sneered at him, stealing an umbrella from the stand. “You’ll get sick.” He opened the umbrella and went on his way. “Don’t whine to me when you do.”
There was a light, mischievous bounce in Tomura Shigaraki’s step as he followed him. Dabi motioned for him to catch up and held his umbrella in a way they could both walk together under it. Although, with the size of the umbrella, they were close together. They fell into silence as they walked and listened to the sound of the rain pattering on the sidewalk.
In a lot of ways, it was more comfortable than Tomura cared to admit. Dabi’s body temperature was higher than average. Being so close to him, Tomura could feel it radiating off him. He longed to wrap his arms around him, to lean into him and capture it for himself. Tomura blushed and looked away, trying to avoid eye contact with Dabi.
Of course, Dabi noticed him acting weird, but decided to say nothing. It was a strange feeling, after all, and neither wanted to talk about it. This deal they were under, this partnership, was simply a mutually beneficially business exchange. There was no use getting feelings involved. At least, that’s what they both tried to convince themselves.
Tomura looked around absently, but the more he did, the more suspicious he looked. Tomura knew it. His eyes fell on a television screen playing the local news. “Stupid heroes,” he muttered, trying to focus the attention on something other than himself.
“It doesn’t really matter what they do. Soon, they’ll be bowing at our feet,” Dabi said playfully.
“You think so?”
Letting out a surprised noise, Tomura glanced over to Dabi for the first time since they had started walking. He relaxed into a smirk after a moment of thought. “Of course, I do,” he said confidently, “After all, we’re determined to make this world better. They’re determined to look good for the flashing cameras and blind, adoring fans.”
Dabi couldn’t help but laugh. “Yeah,” he replied.
“It’ll start here, but eventually, our fire will catch on to others and ignite all over the world,” Tomura continued as a flash of excitement went through his eyes. Dabi felt his heart skip in his chest; he could see the leader in him coming out more and more frequently. Soon, Dabi was sure that it would overtake him completely. “We’ll rule the world,” Tomura continued, “You and me. Our world.” Dabi felt his heart jolt again, but this time for a much different reason.
The implications of what Tomura had said had made a wave of emotion run down Dabi’s spine. Did Tomura even notice it? It didn’t seem like it. Dabi couldn’t tell if he was disappointed or relieved, but he knew that he felt overwhelmed. Something had snapped within him as if lightning had struck him. Dabi felt as if the air had left his lungs.
Dabi tensed and suddenly tilted the umbrella toward his leader. The water that had been pooling on the umbrella was dropped unceremoniously onto Tomura. Dabi looked away, trying to act as if the whole thing had been a simple accident. A deafening silence of pure shock surrounded them. Tomura sucked in a breath as the cold water soaked his clothes and made his skin quiver at the sudden temperature change. “You did that on purpose!”
“Don’t act,” Tomura jeered, “You’re bad at it.”
“It’s just a little rain, right? Surely someone as ‘high level’ as you wouldn’t be afraid of a little rain.”
Tomura shuttered with irritation and, without a second thought, reached up to the umbrella and let it crumble apart. He glared at Dabi, who instantly turned on him. “Really,” he yelled, “You’re a child! I hope you die.” Dabi ran for cover under a building, leaving Tomura standing in the pouring rain watching after him.
He hesitated for a moment. In the time they had spent together, Tomura had only made Dabi truly angry a handful of times despite all the times they had fought. To him, it was nothing but a little rain. It seemed to matter much more to Dabi, though, and Tomura couldn’t help but feel a little guilty for not taking his feelings more seriously. He let out a struggled gasp and ran after him, his shoes becoming soaked as he leapt through puddles to catch up.
“Leave me the hell alone,” Dabi replied, walking quickly as he lifted his jacket awkwardly over his head to shield himself from the rain.
Tomura reached out and grabbed the bottom of his jacket. Dabi wiped around, hand extended to blast him with fire, but quickly noted how docile Tomura looked. He wasn’t even looking at him. His eyes were fixated off toward the side, unmoving and apologetic. He relaxed as he watched him. “What do you want now? Are you scared or something?”
“Just hold on, okay?”
Dabi thought for a moment but nodded as he stepped under the shelter of a storefront. Tomura ran off down the street and into the pouring rain. Dabi sighed, wondering if the other had simply tricked him. Though, he didn’t really know what the point of this particular trick would be. He checked his phone after a while of waiting and decided that he would wait for ten minutes before ditching the dry boy.
Exactly ten minutes later, Dabi rolled his eyes and started to walk away once more. He paused when he heard Tomura’s heavy splashing as he ran up to him. In his hand was a large black umbrella with blue polka dots. He stopped in front of Dabi, panting for air as he held the umbrella out to him. Dabi looked over it and then Tomura and smiled faintly.
He took the umbrella and opened it, putting it over Tomura as he caught his breath. “You’re a complete idiot,” Dabi muttered, “But thanks and…and I’m sorry about before.” He rolled his eyes and looked away. “Can we go home now or are we going to keep wasting time?”
Tomura laughed, relaxing his shoulders as he replied with a small, “Home.”
Chapter 13: Dabi Can't Focus
The stilted air of the club hung in the room, trapped like smoke in a glass bulb. Dabi sat at the bar, a woman casually in his lap. His arm sat lifelessly draped around her hip. He made no effort to interact with her and instead looked off toward the back of the bar as she talked happily with her friend sitting in the next seat over. He took a swig of beer to avoid the conversation.
After so many nights out, it all suddenly felt hollow and lifeless. Dabi thought maybe he was spending too much time in the house lately, but this didn’t feel any better. In fact, if anything, it felt worse. All he could seem to think about was settling in with a cup of ramen and playing a few video games. The thought surprised himself. Who had he become? “Tomura’s turning me into a shut in,” he muttered, taking another drink.
The girl glanced back to him. “Hm?”
“My friends want to go to another club. You’ll come with us, right?”
“I think I’m better off just heading home.”
The woman looked confused, wrinkling her nose at the thought. “Home?” She glanced over to her friend before she seemed to realize something. She gasped gently, her face lighting up as she looked back to Dabi. “Home,” she repeated, this time with a more seductive twist to her voice.
Dabi stood, forcing her to get off his lap. “Yeah,” he said, lowering his voice as he leaned down to her, “Home.” The word, which had been so foreign to him up until this point, had become so easy to say. He reveled in the sound of it as if it had forced him to realize something of his own. “I’m going to head home,” he said, “But you have fun with your friends, okay?”
Once more, the woman’s face fell. Dabi threw money on the bar and went to head out. She followed him and grabbed his arm. “Wait… you’re just going to walk away from me?”
“Don’t worry,” Dabi said, not looking back at her, “A pretty girl like you? You can find someone better in a heartbeat. I’m a deadbeat, trust me. I can’t even remember your name.” She released his arm, surprised at the gentle and genuine statement. Dabi glanced back and gave her one last weary smile before he left the bar.
Shoving his hands into his pockets, Dabi let out a soft sigh. The air had shifted from the warm, stifling air of summer into the bitter chill of fall seemingly overnight. On those nights, Dabi could remember how his mother used to give him hot portage and bundle up with him in a blanket on the couch. They’d watch movies or game shows together. During those days, Dabi was sure that everything would be like that forever.
He reached a hand up to wipe the mist from his eyes, chuckling to cover it up despite no one being around to see it. “Stupid,” Dabi scolded himself.
Dabi walked slowly toward home, taking his time to kick rocks and get a water from the vending machine. When he finally reached the bar, he took too long getting his keys out to unlock the door. When he was inside, Dabi breathed a sigh of relief. He went upstairs.
He passed the sitting room, where Tomura sat, bundled up in a blanket on the couch. Dabi’s steps faltered; he hesitated as he passed. Tomura glanced over to him. “Why are you home,” he asked, “Did you strike out?”
“Shut up.” The statement came out half-assed at best, and Dabi couldn’t seem to muster any more energy to make a decent comeback. Maybe it wasn’t the video games that brought him home in the first place. He glanced up to Tomura, acting far more careful than his usual demeanor.
Curiously, Tomura watched him, unsure what to do. Something was wrong, but he wasn’t sure why he really cared at all. Did it matter? Without realizing it, maybe it had started to matter more to Tomura than he cared to admit. He reached out of his blanket and touched the spot beside him absently. “I can restart the movie, if you want,” Tomura muttered. Dabi gasped softly at the offer; he stared for a long time, causing Tomura to let out an annoyed huff. “Look, either leave or sit.”
Dabi smirked slowly, trying his best to cover any emotion he felt. “How about I make some popcorn first?”
Tomura nodded. “Yeah, that sounds nice…”
Chapter 14: Dabi Gets a Free Tank of Gas
Hello everyone! I'm posting this chapter a little earlier because I'm going to be doing holiday stuff tomorrow.
I also wanted to let you know that I love and appreciate the comments I receive! Thank you so much for the support, and I hope everyone has a good weekend!
Dabi stood in the doorway, eyeing Rie who sat on the opposite side of the bar talking to Kurogiri. He had a look of disbelief. He glanced over to Tomura, who seemed quite pleased with himself which didn’t help settle his confusion. “Okay, you need to fill me in because I’m not getting it at all,” Dabi finally said, throwing his hands up in exasperation.
A low chuckle escaped Tomura’s dry lips as he rounded the corner into the hallway. Dabi followed him. “She’s the perfect cover,” Tomura replied, “And she has an interesting quirk that we may be able to use.”
Dabi stood there in silence, staring at Tomura with a blank face. “Okay,” he said after a while, “I have a few questions.”
“First: what the hell? She’s obviously not a villain, right?”
“No, she’s just a civilian.”
“Okay, great,” Dabi replied, clearly annoyed that Tomura didn’t seem to share his concern, “That’s great! Except she’s going to find out that we are and call the cops on us. I wouldn’t exactly call that a good cover.”
Tomura smirked. “She won’t.”
“Why won’t she?!”
“She’s completely gullible. I don’t think she believes bad people exist in the world.”
“What? No one is that naive.”
“Talk to her for five minutes,” Tomura replied, “I assure you… she is.”
Dabi glanced around the corner and into the other room. Rie was talking to Kurogiri happily. She didn’t seem to realize that anything was amiss, but that didn’t really mean that she wouldn’t eventually realize what was going on. What were they supposed to do about Toga? She was a blood soaked mess in a schoolgirl outfit. There was no chance in hell that Rie wouldn’t catch on just by seeing her alone.
He huffed and turned his attention back to Tomura. “What are we going to do about Toga? She’s going to devour that girl!”
“Yeah, that one is a little more problematic,” Tomura admitted, “But if she works part-time than we can control her schedule and make sure that Toga is never in the building when she’s here.” He chuckled. “Alternatively, we don’t have her necessarily work in this building. I’ve already talked to Kurogiri about this, so I’m not sure why you’re so worried.”
“Because we can easily be found out and lose everything! And what’s the benefit?”
“Her quirk is refilling liquids. I’ve thought of a few uses already… including helping Toga’s collection.” Tomura smirked, eyes glinting dangerously. “Rie said she donated blood, after all. How is this any different? We just tell her we use the blood for transfusions, and she’ll believe it.”
Dabi thought for a moment. “Liquids? Any liquid?” Tomura nodded. “Hm, so theoretically, if I had a low gas tank…”
“She could refill it for free, and I’m willing to bet that she would just to help out a friend.”
“Hmm…” Dabi tapped his lip with his finger. He supposed Tomura had an interesting point, but he still didn’t think anyone could be so naïve that they wouldn’t realize these were clearly bad people around her. Using her. He decided to put it to the test and waltzed around the corner to where Kurogiri and Rie were chatting.
Rie smiled gently from behind her coffee cup as Dabi approached. “Hello,” she said happily, “I’m Rie! Do you work here too?”
Her friendliness caused him to hesitate, but he quickly regained himself. “Something like that,” he mumbled, “I’m Dabi.”
“It’s so nice to meet you, Dabi,” Rie said happily, “I really like your jacket!”
Was that flattery? Dabi looked her over, but there she sat, her eyes beaming with sincerity. There was a strange sense that filled him; he wasn’t sure what it was exactly. However, as Dabi noticed, she hadn’t once glanced over his scars. She wasn’t struggled to keep herself from looking either. It surprised him in a way that Dabi didn’t think he could be surprised. “Oh? This,” he asked, tugging at the jacket, “Thanks.”
Kurogiri glanced over to him. “Did you need something?”
“I was just curious is all,” Dabi replied, “Do you think I could get a quirk demonstration?” He smirked. “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.”
Rie gasped excitedly and stood up. “Okay,” she said, “That sounds fun!”
“Great. Come this way.” Dabi smirked and started leading her outside. Rie happily followed him. His curiosity piqued, Tomura began to follow them as well.
“Dabi,” Kurogiri warned.
“I’m just gonna have her fill up my tank is all,” he said, not looking back, “Relax.”
The three went outside to where Dabi kept his bike. He tapped the fuel gauge absently, which currently resided on E. “Think you can do it?”
“Of course, I can,” Rie replied enthusiastically, “Easy.” She smirked and stretched, trying to be a cocky badass but she came off more like a precious sugar cookie than she probably intended. Dabi and Tomura exchanged glances. Rie put her hand on the motorcycle and waited. Nothing happened. After a moment, she pulled back and smiled. “Done!”
“Not a very flashy quirk, is it,” Dabi teased. He leaned forward to inspect the dial and grinned when it was full. “Hey, not bad, though.” He pulled back and realized that Rie was watching him expectantly. With a soft chuckle, Dabi moved to a place with a little more clearance and erupted in blue flames.
Rie squeaked. “That’s your quirk,” she exclaimed, “It’s amazing! It’s like a real hero quirk!”
Dabi smirked at the implication. She really had no idea; perfect for a hero, maybe, or perfect for an arsonist with a nefarious goal in mind. He flicked his hand, lighting the boxes sitting off to the side on fire. Tomura glared. “Watch it,” Tomura muttered.
But Rie clapped in response, laughing gently. “So cool.”
Rolling his eyes, Tomura Shigaraki carefully stomped out the fire. Dabi laughed, letting the flames on his body settle once more. “You’ve had your fun,” Tomura mumbled, “Let’s get back inside.
He started to head inside when Rie stepped in front of him. Tomura’s eyes went wide as he reached out toward her in defense but recoiled his hand. Rie didn’t seem to notice. “You didn’t show me your quirk, though,” she said. Tomura watched her, a look of disgust washing over his face as Dabi laughed somewhere behind him.
Slowly, a creepy smile spread across his face. “Oh,” he asked, “Alright.” Tomura moved over to the side of the building and ran his hand gingerly across it. The simple stroke had caused the building splinter and seemingly melt away, exposing the brick beneath the façade as dust crumbled to the ground.
Rie gasped softly. Dabi expected her to realize, expected her to scream, but she didn’t. “Wow! That would be really useful in rescue missions,” she said, encouraging him, “You could get to people under debris without hurting them!” Tomura and Dabi stared, bewildered. Neither knew what to say. Rie laughed. “That was fun,” she said, “So, do I get the job?”
“Y-yeah,” Dabi replied.
“Awesome!” Rie went back inside, but the two made no effort to follow her. They didn’t speak, didn’t make a sound or a joke. They just stared, completely lost in what had just happened. Was this girl for real? It was so plainly in her face, and yet she carried on as if nothing had happened. She hadn’t flinched, not even for a moment. Even Tomura, who had already known the depths of her naivety, was shocked.
“What a freak,” Dabi said, breaking the silence. Tomura snorted in response.
Chapter 15: The League of Villains Celebrate Christmas (Part One)
Tomura Shigaraki could hear shuffled footsteps out in the hall, mixed with Toga’s excited laughter, Twice’s rambling and Mr. Compress’ extravagant showboating. Tomura pressed his ear gently on the door, listening to them as he tried to figure out what everyone was doing. He heard slow, deliberate footsteps approach his door. They paused just outside. Tomura held his breath, waited. A knock at the door caused him to jump. He glared at the door and opened it, glaring at Dabi who smugly stood outside. Tomura huffed. “What?”
“We decided we’re going to celerbrate Christmas western style,” Dabi explained, “So we’re going to get a tree. C’mon.”
Tomura looked over Dabi, then the others and back to Dabi. “Why?”
There was a part of Tomura Shigaraki that wanted to snap back, but he realized that there was no real point or reason to. It sounded interesting, and comically wholesome. He hummed in thought. “Let me get my shoes on,” Tomura replied and shut the door. Tomura changed into more suitable clothes and put on shoes and a jacket. He opened the door and found Dabi standing there, smirking and waiting. “What?”
“You finally ready, my sovereign?”
“Yeah,” Tomura muttered, pushing past Dabi and elbowing him in the side. Dabi laughed and followed him as the others also began to fall in line.
“First, we’re going to go get a Christmas tree,” Toga said happily, “And we’re going to make ornaments too!”
“Make them,” Tomura asked.
“We looked online and it turns out you can make ornaments out of this salt dough,” Mr. Compress replied, “Than you paint them after baking. We can also make strings of popcorn and cranberries in order to decorate it more fully.”
“And we can make paper chains too,” Twice added excitedly, “Sounds childish to me.”
“It’s going to be incredibly festive,” Dabi teased.
“Sounds like it,” Tomura replied, “And time consuming.”
The group left together, happily talking to each other. Tomura smiled to himself. It was a strange group, sure, but one that he finally felt he belonged in; a glimmer of a world he could thrive in. Perhaps he was being too sentimental, though.
Toga suddenly stopped and pointed across the way. She gasped loudly. When Twice looked up, he too, gasped with glee. Tomura and the others looked over. The park trees had been covered in lights. There were many people wandering around them, taking pictures; it was, for a lack of better words, packed. Toga didn’t seem to care as she looked to the group. “We have to walk through there,” she said, “We should take pictures!”
“Pictures,” Dabi asked with a warning in his voice.
“Don’t worry! I know the rules,” Toga replied, “We can, right? It’s Christmas-y!”
Dabi looked at Tomura, who nodded slowly. “We’re celebrating Christmas, aren’t we,” Tomura asked with a smirk. Dabi chuckled and started to walk the group over to the park so they could enjoy the lights. It all felt strangely normal, and Tomura was against surprised by the ease at which everyone walked around and enjoyed the lights like common people. With his hands tucked into his pockets, Tomura looked around at the lights absently, unsure what he should be doing.
He felt Dabi bump into him; Tomura glanced over and saw him smirking at him. “Take a picture with me,” Dabi asked.
“Hm?” Tomura glanced at the phone in Dabi’s hand, “Oh. Sure.”
Tomura leaned in closer to Dabi and looked up the camera. Dabi snapped a photo of the two of them together and laughed, nudging him with his elbow. “Try to look like you’re having fun, won’t you?” Tomura chuckled just barely in response. Dabi took another picture and looked it over. “There we go. Perfect.” Tomura absently wondered how it could be since he was in it but didn’t say anything. Dabi glanced over to him out of the corner of his eyes. “So, what’s gotten under your skin?”
“I don’t know,” Tomura admitted, “Doesn’t it feel weird?”
“What? Being outside?”
Tomura glared at him. “No,” he mumbled as Dabi chuckled. Tomura sighed. “I mean, being all cozy like this.”
“It almost feels like a family, doesn’t it,” Dabi mused.
“Yeah…” A silence fell between them as they avoided eye contact with one another. Dabi hummed after a moment and bumped into him. Tomura glanced over, wondering if this was going to become an annoying habit. “You know, this kind of thing,” Dabi continued, “It’s better than family because we got to pick each other.”
“Well, that’s how I feel, anyway. We’re all a bunch of outcasts, and I guess that’s what makes us stick together like this.”
“It sounds cliché.”
“Hey, c’mon,” Toga yelled over to them, motioning them over.
“Settle down, crazy, we’re coming,” Dabi yelled in response. She laughed as they headed over to the rest of the group, which had reformed for one last picture. The five of them all gathered other for a group photo before continuing toward their destination.
When they made it to the lot, the group immediately disappeared to investigate trees. Tomura sighed to himself, left alone as the others went and looked a wreaths, trees, ornaments, lights and other little odds and ends that they sold there. Tomura rolled his eyes and went to absently look at things as well.
As the night continued, the wind began to pick up. Tomura shuttered, huddling into his jacket as a shiver ran up his spine. He regretted not dressing more warmly, but he supposed it didn’t matter. He’d be home soon and could take a hot bath and forget he was ever cold. Tomura closed his eyes as he tried to will the feeling away with only minimal luck as he did start to feel somewhat warmer. Though, he wasn’t sure how long he had been standing there. “Hey,” he heard Dabi call and opened his eyes. He was surprised to find him standing so close.
“I bought you this,” Dabi said as he lifted a red and black checkered scarf up and around Tomura’s neck. He flipped the ends over and gently tied it on him. He smirked, admiring the scarf. “It reminded me of your shoes,” he commented, looking away, “But don’t get used to it. I just didn’t want our fearless leader to die of pneumonia.”
Tomura rolled his eyes, turning away from him. He reached a hand gingerly up and touched the scarf. “Thanks,” he muttered.
Twice rounded the corner. “We found it! We found the perfect tree. It’s too full, in my opinion. You guys should come take a look.” He stopped and looked at Tomura thoughtfully. “Huh. Where’d you get the scarf? He probably stole it, right?” Tomura froze, beginning to blush as he shrugged his shoulders to try and buy time.
Toga hopped around the corner with Mr. Compress, both carrying the tree with them. Dabi hummed. “Wow, that really is a perfect tree,” he said.
“Isn’t it,” Twice replied, his attention shifting onto the tree as he continued to show it off.
“I think it’ll work quite nicely,” Mr. Compress added.
Tomura relaxed, sneaking a glance to Dabi when everyone else’s attention was diverted. They walked off the lot, stealing the tree, and went back home to get everything set up. After all, there was still a lot of decorating that needed to be done.
Chapter 16: The League of Villains Celebrate Christmas (Part Two)
The Christmas tree was put up in the main room upstairs. Tomura often referred to it as the lounge room as it had a large couch and television, which was hooked up to gaming consoles. Otherwise, it was a relatively empty room, perfect for a tree. Tomura glanced over the room with slow, glazed over eyes. Toga, with the help of Dabi, had made salt dough ornaments and were currently working on setting up a makeshift painting station with a folding table. Mr. Compress was leading the stringing of popcorn and cranberries to act as garland, which was keeping Twice busy.
It looked like a wholesome family gathering.
Tomura couldn’t help but feel unsure of himself. He glanced down, inspecting his own hands; something had felt off all day. He wasn’t sure if he could put the feeling into words. It was as if he didn’t know where he was. Of course, Tomura knew he was currently back at the bar. He knew he was upstairs. He knew he was standing in the doorway of the lounge. He knew he was here with the other villains in his league.
Those were all facts, and yet Tomura Shigaraki felt like he was floating, unattached to his skin. He felt like it wasn’t him who was experiencing these things, and he was losing time in small chunks. Tomura couldn’t remember getting the tree to the bar or up the stairs. How it had gotten set up. He felt zoned out, as if he were lost in himself. He took a ragged breath, flexing his fingers slowly to see if they were still under his control.
“Hey,” Dabi called out to him, “Boss.” Tomura gasped softly, realizing Dabi was trying to get his attention and looked over to him. Dabi was standing near him, lowering himself down to inspect Tomura’s eyes.
Tomura glared weakly at him. “What?”
“What’s going on with you today?”
“What’s it to you?”
Dabi sighed and took Tomura’s hand, leading him out into the hall and down into the kitchen. Tomura followed him, not saying anything. He hated when Dabi worried about him; he felt guilty for always being such a pain.
When they made it to the kitchen, Dabi turned around and grabbed Tomura gently by the shoulders. “Tell me what’s going on,” he said, “You seem really out of it. Are you freaked out by the idea of family?”
Tomura couldn’t force himself to look at him, and instead opted to look at the holes in his white shirt. “I don’t know if I really know either,” he mumbled, “I don’t feel like I’m me.”
Dabi seemed surprised, but not confused; he seemed like he understood. Tomura glanced up at him, sort of shocked he wasn't asking him follow up questions or insisting that that sounded stupid since he was clearly himself. He shifted, pulling back from Dabi as he rubbed his arm. “You’re dissociating,” Dabi said finally.
“Dissociating,” Dabi repeated, “It’s that feeling that you’re not in your body, more or less. Some people experience it differently, but that’s the general gist. You feel detached, right? Like you’re somewhere else even though you’re standing here. Your mind is somewhere else and you sort of just checked out.”
Tomura looked at Dabi, eyes wide before looking back down at his hands. “Is that what this is?”
“You know, my,” Dabi hesitated, “My mom used to do this. I mean, we all do it to an extent, but there’s a point where it becomes…” Dabi didn’t want to finish. He didn’t want to say it wasn’t normal or that it was a problem, but it wasn’t necessarily healthy either. He shook his head. “Here,” he said, taking Tomura’s hand again and leading him over to the fridge.
Grabbing some ice from the freezer, Dabi sandwiched it between his hand and Tomura’s. He held it there until their hands began to feel cold. “What do you feel,” he asked, his voice low and soothing. Tomura glanced down at their hands and focused on the feeling of the ice on his skin: slippery, wet and…
“Cold,” he said, sounding unsure.
“Alright,” Dabi replied, warming their hands with his quirk. The ice melted between their hands as water dripped from between their fingers and pooled onto the floor between them. Tomura breathed in slowly, once more focusing on what he physically felt.
“You’re always so warm,” Tomura mumbled.
Dabi chuckled gently. “Alright, I want you to name five things you see around you right now. Anything you see.”
“I see,” Tomura started, looking around, “A toaster.” He saw many things, but he couldn’t seem to focus on them. He looked to Dabi and gasped softly. “Um,” he hesitated, “I see you.”
“Um… the dishes in the sink.”
“That only counts as one.”
“There’s a vile of blood on the fridge and a knife on the counter.”
Dabi smirked. He hummed. “Alright, now tell me four things you can feel.”
Tomura tensed slightly at the thought but continued to go along with whatever Dabi was doing, since whatever it was, it seemed to be helping to focus his mind and bring him back to reality. “I can feel your hand and the water. The floor…my heartbeat.”
“Good,” Dabi replied, “What are three things you can hear.”
Pausing to listen, Tomura let out a slow breath. “I can hear the others laughing down the hall. The fridge running and…” He paused, listening for a long time. “I can hear your breathing,” he mumbled, “It’s soft, but, I…”
Dabi gave his hand a squeeze. “No, that’s good,” Dabi reassured him, “Tell me two things you can smell.”
“Those salt dough ornaments,” Tomura said immediately. He hummed. “This whole kitchen smells like them. It’s really salty.” Dabi chuckled with Tomura, but he knew that was only one. Tomura looked up to Tomura slowly. “You… smell like smoke and lavender lotion.”
Dabi felt himself blush, but he looked away quickly. “Alright, and one thing you can taste.”
“Yeah,” Dabi replied, “I mean, this is probably the hardest one, but this is a kitchen and all. We could eat some chips or chocolate? Or you can just say your favorite taste. There’s no wrong answer to this since that’s not exactly the point of it.” Dabi gave his hand another squeeze.
“My favorite taste,” Tomura said thoughtfully, “I like foods that are quick and easy. Chips, those are salty.” He thought. “But I really like hot pot too.”
“Hot pot, huh?”
“Yeah, it’s nice because you can put in a bunch of different things, whatever you like. It’s easy.” Dabi gave a thoughtful hum in reply. “Anyway, I… um,” Tomura said as he slowly pulled his hand away from Dabi, missing the warmth of his hand almost instantly, “Thank you. I do feel more like me.”
“You said that your mom used to do this?”
“Yeah,” Dabi replied sadly.
Tomura reached over and put his hand on Dabi’s shoulder. The two exchanged glances for a moment before they were interrupted. Mr. Compress cleared his throat. “Sorry for interrupting this heart-warming moment, but Toga insists that we exchange gifts.”
“It’s too early,” Dabi replied.
“Yes, well, I assure you that I’ve already told her that numerous times.”
Tomura chuckled. “Do we have gifts to exchange?”
“Apparently, she has gifts for us all. However, the rest of us will need to catch up at a later date.”
The three of them returned to the main room where Toga was busy handing out perfectly wrapped boxes to everyone. She came over and handed one to each of them. “Everyone should open them at the same time, okay?” Once everyone had settled, Toga counted down from three and everyone unwrapped their gifts with mild hesitation. However, the boxes were completely empty. Toga pouted. “Aww man, and I went through all the effort to steal them too!”
“Steal them,” Dabi asked, “From where?”
“The store display windows!”
“Toga, they don’t actually put gifts in the displays.”
“Well, I know that now,” she mumbled with irritation.
Tomura laughed and pretended to take something out of the box. “How did you know? I’ve always wanted one of these.” Dabi looked surprised, but grinned. Toga laughed, lightening up as the others began to do the same, pulling fake gifts from thin air and holding them up to show them off. The rest of the night, the group had fun together as they painted ornaments, decorated the tree and ate hot pot for dinner.
Later that night, when the others had left to go to bed, Tomura and Dabi sat up and finished the last bit of ornaments. “Tomura,” Dabi said as he pulled a wrapped box out from behind his back, “I don’t know if you’ll like it, but I thought it might be useful?” He held it to him. “If you hate it, then I’ll at least have time to get you something else, though.”
Tomura took the box, surprised. “I don’t have anything for you yet… I mean, I didn’t even know we were doing the Christmas thing until this morning.”
“I know, and that really doesn’t matter.”
Tomura shrugged and opened the box. Inside, was a pair of gloves that were unlike anything Tomura had seen. The gloves covered only three fingers, the thumb, index and middle finger, and had a Velcro clasp which helped it be tightened around the wrist. Tomura took out the gloves carefully and put them on. He felt his chest swell, knowing what it meant. For once, he could be free of fear; for once, he could touch things. “Do… you hate it,” Dabi asked.
“No, I…” Tomura wasn’t sure what to say. He glanced up to Dabi. “Thank you."
Chapter 17: Dabi Reminisces
On the day Touya was born, he was sure his mom looked down on him with affection and despair in her eyes. He wanted to believe that his mom loved him more than air and felt tremendous pity that she had brought him into such a cruel world. He wanted to believe she knew it was his fate to be a punching bag for his old man and wanted to smother him in her arms. He wanted to believe it.
Touya lay against his mother, watching a movie on tv as she stroked his hair absently. It had been another long day of training, and he still lacked control over his quirk. His skin was red and irritated across his chin, neck and arms, but none of that mattered to his father. He kept pushing him, telling him not to be a quitter, telling him he had to be the best. Touya gripped his mother’s shirt, burying his face into her side.
“Touya, my darling,” she asked in a gentle whisper. Rei always spoke with a light voice, as if terrified of being heard. “What is it? Is this movie too scary?”
“It’s not that.”
Rei pulled the boy into her lap and held him. She poked him in the nose causing him to smile weakly. “You’re a strong boy, Touya,” she whispered, “Papa just wants you to be strong.”
She hesitated, unsure what to say. She reached down and ran her hand across his cheek and through his hair. Rei opened her mouth to say something, but paused, glancing over to the doorway. “What’s he still doing up,” Enji asked, eyeing the two of them. Rei felt her heart jump in her chest as Touya scrambled to get up.
“He wanted to watch the end of the movie, so I…”
“We have a lot to do tomorrow, Touya. You can watch the movie another time,” Enji replied, his eyes flashing with annoyance. Touya kissed his mom on the cheek and quickly ran to his room. Enji watched after him before looking back to Rei. “You spoil him.”
The next day, Touya trained with Enji, better known to the rest of the world as Endeavor. Touya didn’t think of his as a hero, though; he barely thought of him as a father. If anything, he was a source of unyielding fear and anger. Even though he was young, Touya hated the man.
“You’re not trying hard enough,” Enji yelled. Touya balled his hands into fists. Of course, Enji noticed and slyly smirked. “Or maybe you just don’t have the right motivation.” Touya’s breath grew ragged, frustrated as he followed Enji with his eyes. “So? What are you going to do? Burn your own father?” He laughed.
Touya let out a scream as blue flames engulfed him. Enji gasped, amazed at his potential. The fire burned furious and hot, but Touya was unable to handle the blaze. He unleashed it at Enji, but only managed to explode the area next to him. Touya let out a pained scream, dropping to his knees and lurching forward. He dug at the ground with his hands, fire licking at his skin which blistered.
Hearing her son’s scream echoing through the house, Rei ran toward the noise. As she rounded the corner, she slid to a stop, eyeing the grotesque, twisted mass of blue flames on the ground as Touya struggled and rolled, holding his burning flesh.
Rei let out a cry as she ran toward Touya, but Enji caught her around the waist and stopped her. “I knew he was a quitter,” Enji muttered despite Touya’s pained screams. He glanced to Rei, who struggled against him, trying to get to her son as the flames engulfed him. “We need to try again,” Enji continued, “This one is a failure.”
And so, they tried again and again until Enji finally got what he wanted: Shoto. How he doted on him; Touya had never seen his father’s face light up like it did when he looked over Shoto. He held him closely as if he were a real father, a proud dad who couldn’t stop beaming at his own creation while the rest were cast to the side. There was a sense of freedom in that, sure, but Touya couldn’t help but be bitter at the attention.
Peeking over Shoto’s crib, Touya wrinkled his nose in annoyance. “You’re not that special,” he muttered. Shoto kicked happily, holding his arms out to Touya as he looked on him with curiosity. “I mean…” Touya’s face softened. He looked around to make sure no one was there and picked Shoto out of the crib. He held him silently, unsure what he was doing. The squirming infant in his arms mewed and gurgled, blowing little bubbles with his nose as he kicked and flipped his feet.
Touya pouted. “I guess it’s not your fault, though,” he mumbled, “Welcome to our shitty family.” He sighed. “As bad as it was for us…” He reached over and brushed Shoto’s hair gently. “I can only imagine it’s going to be a lot worse for you. If your hair is an indication, then you are father’s wild dream come true, and I’m sorry that it ended up this way.” He frowned. “In a lot of ways, it’s my fault,” Touya continued, “If I had been stronger…”
He jumped, hearing a noise in the other room. Touya quickly laid Shoto back into the crib and hid in the closet. Enji came to collect his perfect son, cooing tenderly to the baby before taking him off somewhere.
In time, it had become so common; none of the siblings really saw Shoto as he grew. Their father kept him close like a tightly guarded secret. Not close enough, though, as there came a time when Shoto learned what being a Todoroki meant. The burns on his face, though, were different than Touya’s, and perhaps more significant. They had lost their own mother, their own sense of peace; Enji had gotten what he wanted and sent her away. Touya couldn’t stand it any longer; he couldn’t stay in this house. If he did, he knew he would burn it to the ground and take everyone inside of it with him. His brothers, his sister, they didn’t deserve such a cruel destiny.
Touya grabbed the duffel bag from his bed and threw it over his shoulder. “Can I come with you?” When he turned around, he saw little Shoto standing in the doorframe. He gasped softly, looking over his bandages with guilt. Shoto shifted, tearing up as he watched Touya. “Can I?”
An uncomfortable silence passed between them. “No, Shoto,” he mumbled.
“If I take you with me, father will hunt us down with every resource he has,” Touya replied, kneeling down in front of Shoto. He took the child in his arms and hugged him. “I know it seems cruel,” he whispered, “But I hope one day you can forgive me.” He felt himself hesitate. Leaving wasn’t exactly the bravest choice, but he knew if he could get away from his father’s shadow, he could one day pay him back for everything he had done to him, his siblings and his mom.
Touya kissed Shoto on the forehead and stood. “Things will be different someday, Shoto,” he said gently. Shoto teared up, rubbing at his eyes before he ran off down the hall. Touya let out a sigh and went out toward the gate.
“Touya,” Fuyumi called after him. Touya paused, not turning to face her. She clutched her hand to her chest, letting out a shaky breath. “Do something good,” she begged. Touya glanced over his shoulder briefly and left.
The clanking of dishes startled Dabi out of his daydream. He glanced around slowly at Café Quell. It was a rather quiet day at the shop. Tomura sat across from him, quietly eating his lemon tart. Tomura looked up to him. “You okay,” he asked, “You’ve been pretty spaced out lately.”
Dabi smiled wryly and nodded. “I was just thinking of something funny,” he replied.
Chapter 18: Tomura and Dabi Go to a Concert
Dabi entered the room and flashed to ticket stubs with a cocky, obnoxious smirk. Tomura Shigaragi spared a glance away from his game. He huffed. “What now,” Tomura asked, “I’m in the middle of something.”
“It can’t be better than what I have in my hand.”
Tomura rolled his eyes. “You have tickets and you want to brag,” he muttered, “Big deal.”
“Well, Boss, I was thinking about taking you since it’s for a Fatal Believer secret show, but I guess you’re not all that interested in them.”
Tomura’s breath hitched in his throat as he threw the remote onto the floor and got up to take a look at the tickets. He went over and grabbed them, inspecting them closely. The large, glossy letters on the ticket read ‘Fatal Believer.’ Tomura could hardly believe it; the ticket looked real enough. There was no way Dabi was that good at faking it. After a moment, Tomura looked back up to him. “How did you get these?”
“Wouldn’t you like to know,” Dabi teased.
“Should I rephrase it? Who did you sleep with to get these?”
Dabi laughed. “My, you’re pretty jealous for someone who ‘hates basically everyone,’ aren’t you?” Tomura glared up at him, but he simply laughed it off. “So, you wan’na go or not?”
“Is it really a question?”
“It’s decided then.” Dabi hummed. “I’m sort of relieved. I didn’t really want to find someone else.”
They took the motorcycle to the venue. From the outside, it was hard to tell anything was going on. It was an unassuming building with a staircase down to a brick entrance.
Dabi showed the tickets to the man outside and led Tomura inside through the narrow hallway until it opened into a large, open room with a bar off to the left and a small stage at the back. There were no chairs to speak of, expect around the bar area. There was already a small crowd starting to gather near the stage. The music was loud, and it was hard to hear anything among the eager chatter of the room.
Tomura couldn’t believe how small the venue was, and bit back his excitement. Dabi leaned toward him. “We’re going to be really close,” he said. Tomura nodded. Dabi smirked. “You want a drink?”
“Who else would I be talking to?”
“I don’t know,” Tomura muttered as he shifted his weight.
Dabi seemed to notice his hesitation. “What? You never had a drink before?”
“It’s not that!” It was exactly that, but Tomura didn’t want the other to know that. He wasn’t sure he fooled him, though, as Dabi stood and appraised him for a long time before he let out a chuckle, shaking his head.
“Alright, so than what’s the answer? Yes or no?”
“Fair enough,” Dabi said and motioned to the stage, “Let’s go find a good spot than?” Tomura nodded and the two headed up to join the small crowd. Tomura was mildly glad he wore the gloves Dabi had bought him as the crowd was not exactly afraid to crowd around them. Dabi stepped closer to him. “Just stay near me, okay?”
Tomura was startled by the care in his voice. He realized that Dabi knew that Tomura was feeling worked up; the crowd was closing in on him, and it was making him feel somewhat claustrophobic. However, with the gloves and mask on and the promise of his favorite band, Tomura felt okay. With Dabi, he felt okay. Tomura glared at him. “I’m not a kid,” he muttered.
“Suit yourself,” Dabi said with a laugh.
It really was incredible to see them so close. Tomura thought he was going to explode when they came on the stage. They were so close, he almost felt as if he were standing on the stage with them. Tomura glanced over to Dabi. He hated to admit it, but he was touched that Dabi had asked him to come. He hated to admit it, but Dabi looked striking in the red and blue stage lights that lit his sharp features.
At the end of the show, the two stopped by the merch both. Each held out t-shirt to one another, trying to figure out which design they liked the best. In the end, with the power of Dabi’s secret credit card, the two ended up buying a few shirts each and a couple posters.
As Dabi and Tomura walked back to the bike, Dabi glanced over to him. “Hey, thanks,” he said.
“Thanks? I should be the one thanking you! That was incredible!”
Dabi let out a laugh, but it was different from his usual cocky one that dripped with sarcasm. It felt more affectionate. “I wanted to go with you,” Dabi admitted, “I asked for two tickets for a reason. Sure beat going by myself, anyway.”
Tomura smiled to himself as the two fell into a comfortable silence. Of course, it didn’t take very long for that silence to turn into animated conversation about the show and everything that had happened that night.
Chapter 19: Tomura and Dabi Go to a Club
Dabi was getting ready to go out for the night, but something just didn’t feel right. For a while now, his usual routine felt stale and lackluster. He wanted to blow off his past and dive headfirst into self-destruction, but it didn’t hold the same feeling it once had. Dabi felt as if he was constantly running away. Maybe it was time to stop running.
He went to Tomura’s room and knocked on the door. After a moment, the one and only Tomura Shigaraki opened the door and looked, mildly disgusted, up at him. Dabi smirked, enthralled by their little game. “I’m feeling generous,” Dabi said, shifting his weight to one foot, “You want to come out with me tonight?”
“You’re asking me out,” Tomura asked.
“When you word it like that…”
“It’s not how I meant it,” Tomura quickly replied with an annoyed scowl, “You’re going to a club or bar, right? Why are you asking me?”
“Haven’t you ever wanted to get drunk and dance?”
Tomura stared at him with a vacant expression. “No.”
“Oh, c’mon,” Dabi teased, “Just once, act like a twenty-year-old.”
“Wow, your peer pressure is really getting to me,” Tomura muttered, unenthused.
Dabi laughed. He knew Tomura was right, but that still didn’t change his mind. If he was going out at all, he was going to get the hand-bastard out with him. Otherwise, he was going to stay in and harass him all night. Either way, Dabi knew he would win, but he had already gotten dressed for the occasion. It would be a shame to waste an outfit. “Okay, okay,” he replied, “You’re right. I’m being pushy, but… you really don’t want to go out?”
Tomura eased up in response, relaxing his shoulders. “Won’t I ruin your vibe?”
“You know, you’re…” Tomura hesitated. He didn’t exactly want to compliment Dabi, but he felt like there was no other way to explain it. “Aren’t you afraid of what people might think of you if they saw you with me? Wouldn’t they… think less of you?”
Dabi looked taken back, but as realization dawned on him, he slipped into his cocky smirk. “You think I’m cool,” he said with a confident hum.
“I do not.”
“You do. Admit it.”
Tomura looked away as if he were about to slam the door in his face, but instead he snorted. “Whatever, just let me get dressed,” he muttered and gently closed the door. Dabi smirked and went out in the main room to wait for him.
The wait was worth it, as Tomura didn’t disappoint. Although he wasn’t wearing the ripped jeans that Dabi was so fond of, he still looked good; he was surprised that Tomura even had clothes like this. The clean white t-shirt looked good on him, and even better paired with the grey patterned cardigan that hung long and loose. Tomura seemed self-conscious and Dabi briefly wondered if the clothes were new. He hummed. “You look good,” he commented.
“Don’t tease me,” Tomura replied with an exasperated huff, but Dabi could tell he was pleased. Tomura walked past him, heading out of the door, and Dabi happily followed him.
When they got to the club, the two went to the bar to get a drink. Dabi led him through the crowd, and Tomura tried his best not to look uncomfortable. The two stood at the bar. Tomura looked around at the back shelf of the bar, seemingly out of his element as he wasn’t sure what to order. He didn’t really have any drinks in mind. All he really knew about alcohol were there were different types. Wine probably wasn’t right in this context. A beer seemed to light and casual for the more vibrant atmosphere.
“What do you want? I’m buying.”
“Um…” Tomura hesitated, his eyes shifting from one bottle to another.
Dabi couldn’t help but slip into a smug smirk, his comfortably reaction. And how couldn’t he when Tomura looked so out of his element; it was cute. “You really have never drank before, huh,” he asked with a song in his voice.
“I have!” Of course, it was still a blatant lie.
“Oh? Pardon me.” Dabi reached over and pulled a menu out of the stack and handed it over to Tomura. He winked. “I’m sure you can find something that sounds good.”
Tomura snatched the menu from him and made a show of rolling his eyes before he looked over the menu. “What about a black russian?” It was supposed to taste like coffee, so Tomura figured it would at least taste decent.
“You got it.”
Three drinks later, and Tomura was really feeling good. He felt somewhat invincible. Maybe even cool. He glanced out to the dance floor, wondering what it would be like to dance. Dabi caught him. He leaned over. “You didn’t get dressed up just to sit at a bar, did you,” he asked. Dabi stood and offered Tomura his hand.
“I don’t know how.”
“You just sway your hips to the beat. No one is looking at you,” Dabi replied. Tomura wavered, but Dabi smiled. “What will one night hurt?” What could it hurt? Tomura supposed he had nothing much to lose. Dabi could see he was still hesitant, though. “I can keep a secret,” he added with a light chuckle.
“You know that implies you can’t, right?”
Despite saying it, Tomura still took his hand and let Dabi lead him out into the crowd of people. Tomura looked around, unsure as he watched what they were doing. Dabi nudged his chin back toward him. “Hey,” he said, “Don’t look at them. Look at me.”
Tomura felt his heart skip in his as his eyes locked onto Dabi’s burning blue eyes. He felt Dabi take his hips with his hands. He felt Dabi shifting his weight from side to side with the beat. Tomura swore he could hear his heartbeat as the two moved together, slow at first but speeding up as Tomura lost himself with the rhythm. “Fuck it,” he whispered.
The two danced, drank and chatted for the rest of the night. Though, Dabi made sure to keep his drinking more under control so Tomura could have a good time getting lost. Dabi wanted to make sure he could take care of him, after all, as promised.
Tomura felt disgustingly happy, and although he realized he felt relaxed because of the alcohol, he couldn’t help but settle into the feeling. He felt heavy, as if his limbs were suddenly dipped in lead and everything was just a little bit funnier. Dabi glanced over to him as Tomura went to lift his head, only to lull back over onto Dabi’s arm. His head felt so heavy. He sucked in a slow breath, trying to steady himself.
Dabi couldn’t help but smile fondly at him. There was something enduring about how Tomura was clearly trying to seem in line with Dabi’s usual company. What Tomura didn’t know, though, was that he was infinitely better than anyone he could be with at that very moment. Dabi let him relax there for the moment, trying not to move so he wouldn’t bother him as he motioned the bartender over. “Can we get some nachos,” he asked, receiving a nod in return.
“Nachos,” Tomura’s timid voice came, muffled by Dabi’s sleeve.
“Yeah. They’ll make that heavy head of yours a little lighter.”
Tomura let out a soft chuckle and hummed as he relaxed against him. “I’m sorry I’m like this,” he whispered.
“I don’t mind it,” Dabi replied, “It’s fine to be like this. I’m going to take care of you, so you don’t need to worry about a thing.”
Tomura let out an uncharacteristic laugh. “It sounds really cheesy,” he said.
When the nachos were delivered, Tomura picked at them absently. He felt less heavy after a while of letting them settle, but the blurry-eyed, happy feeling was lingering. “You ready to get back home,” Dabi asked as he paid the bill.
“Yeah, I think so.” Tomura sat up and stood from the bar stool. All at once, he felt a rush, a surge go up his spine causing him to grab the bar with a shocked gasp. “Oh fuck,” he muttered. Tomura had never felt this unsteady. It was as though his head wanted to go forward to the floor in an attempt to stop the room from spinning. Tomura closed his eyes and breathed slowly.
“Ah, I guess I should have warned you,” Dabi said as he quickly signed the check and grabbed his things before he helped steady Tomura, “Once you get moving and get into the cold air, you’ll start feeling better.”
Tomura leaned against Dabi, using him as a crutch to walk down the street. They joked and laughed together about the most mundane things, but it didn’t matter. For once, they felt happy. They felt normal. Tomura briefly wondered if this was what his life could have been like. Unknowingly, Dabi wondered it too.
When they got home, Dabi made Tomura drink a glass of water and take a few aspirin. He helped him get comfortable and get into bed. Dabi said on the edge of his bed as the two talked, though Dabi wasn’t paying much attention to the words. He glanced down to the floor as Tomura gulped down more water. He wiped the water that dripped from the corner of his lips with the back of his hand.
Wordlessly, Tomura leaned toward and wrapped his arms around Dabi’s shoulders. He hung on him, hiding his head in his shoulder. Dabi glanced over to him and chuckled. “You’re drunk,” he teased, “You’re going to be hurting in the morning.”
“Maybe,” Tomura whispered, “But I’m glad you’re here to take care of me.”
Dabi felt his heart skip a beat, but before he could say anything, Tomura had already leaned up and pressed his lips against his. They were dry, but strangely soft and equally nervous. Dabi’s eyes widened, unsure of what to do. Tomura pulled back and watched him. He sighed. “Sorry,” he mumbled as he laid down on the bed and shut his eyes, “I’m just sick of pretending.”
Again, Dabi’s heart lurched in his chest. He reached down and stroked the hair from Tomura’s face. He stood and pulled the blanket over him as Tomura Shigaraki relaxed, breathing slowly as he started to drift to sleep. Dabi hesitated but leaned over and kissed his forehead. “Me too,” he whispered.
Chapter 20: Dabi Buys Motorcycle Parts
“Of course.” Tomura didn’t remember. Dabi should have realized, at the time, that he wouldn’t. The dry bastard had been slamming drinks like it was water. Though, that was thanks to Dabi’s encouragement and reassurance that things would be fine. The night had been fine; it had been the most fun likely either of them had had in a very long time, if ever. Perhaps that was Dabi putting more importance on the moment than it had deserved, but there was no way that Tomura Shigaraki had kissed him without feeling something much deeper than either realized they were capable of feeling.
They were drawn to each other; it was as simple as moths to flame. Dabi couldn’t deny it, and so he knew that there would come a time when they would come back around once more. Besides, he knew how Tomura felt, knew he liked him, but was still keeping his mouth shut. He was just as guilty as the alcohol that took a very precious memory.
Dabi let out an irritated huff as he stormed down the street, his hands in his pockets and his mind somewhere else. He waited at stop lights with irrational annoyance. Those who passed him on the street steered clear, wondering to themselves if he was on something.
He needed to pick up a part for his motorcycle, which was currently refusing to run. Though, perhaps that was for the best too, as he was likely to get in a nasty wreck with his mind drawing blanks like this. Still, Dabi thought, working with his hands might help alleviate his bitter disappointment, and it would certainly keep him from snapping at Tomura while was hung over.
Dabi willed himself to relax, knowing it wasn’t Tomura’s fault. He sighed, knowing he could push the feelings down if he just forced it hard enough.
Coming his way, he noticed a man on his cellphone. The man was staring at it intently and dressed in the most typical of business attire. He glanced up to Dabi only as they came closer with a clearly superior glint in his eyes. As they passed, the man threw his shoulder into Dabi, unmoving from his forward direction. Dabi turned on his heels. “Hey,” he screamed after the man.
The man turned, seemingly disinterested in what a punk like Dabi had to say. He looked Dabi up and down, disgusted. “What,” he asked with a snide hiss in his voice.
“You should apologize for running into me.”
He scoffed. “And why should I? You ran into me.”
“That’s not how it happened, and you know it,” Dabi replied irritably.
“So,” the man replied, “You’re just a punk. No one will believe you over me.” He turned and began to walk. “You’re just wasting my time.”
Dabi clenched his teeth together with so much force his temples began to burn. “Guys like you,” he muttered with a deadly gleam in his voice, “Don’t deserve to be in our world.” Dabi erupted in blue flame, letting it spiral and dance around him as people on the streets screamed in terror and ran from him, the monster, the villain.
The man turned back to him, just in time to see the rush of flames engulf him. Dabi watched him burn and scream in agony for a moment before he laughed and turned. He couldn’t stop himself. Dabi grabbed onto the wall for support as he laughed, doubling over from the pleasure of it.
It was only when Dabi heard the call of sirens in the distance that he snapped out of his good humor. He took off running down the street, hopped a fence into an alley and put as much distance between him and the scene of the crime that he could. Taking the long way around, he eventually made it to the shop he had originally been aiming for to pick up his part.
As he waltzed in, the person behind the counter turned from the television in the corner to glance at him. The man gasped. “Y-you’re on the TV! You’re the one they’re looking for,” he sputtered.
Dabi grinned slowly, slowing his pace as he moved toward the counter. He glanced over at the TV set and noticed the cellphone video of him burning the man playing on the news. Dabi laughed with a low, dark chuckle as he turned slowly back toward the man behind the counter. “Oh?” Dabi’s eyes flashed with excitement, he could feel his pulse rushing. “So, are you going to do something about it or are you just stating facts,” he asked. He stopped at the counter. “Because I’m here to pick up a part and I don’t have a lot of time right now.” He motioned to the television smugly.
“Y-yes,” the man stuttered, “Right away!”
It took a moment due to the man’s shaking hands, but Dabi finally had the parts he needed in hand. He smirked and thanked him quickly, turning on his heels only to see a fleet of cars outside. “Ah shit,” Dabi mumbled as he raised his hands and exposed his lower abdomen. He walked outside, the red and blue lights flashing as he casually made his way out of the store with the bag still in his hands.
“Drop the bag,” the police called as they kept their guns trained on him.
Dabi glanced around but didn’t see any Pro Heroes. He has made a mistake in coming here, sure, but they had made one too by underestimating his abilities. “I guess we’re even,” he commented. The police exchanged confused glances as Dabi once again filled the area with a giant mass of blue flames, masking his disappearance as he ducked into an alley and took off running. By the time the flames had died down, he was gone.
However, much to Dabi’s annoyance, the place was crawling with police. He could see, as he peeked around corners and ducked into dark alleys, that pros were starting to appear on the scene as well. They were determined to catch him, as they knew he was part of the League of Villains. Dabi laughed, flattered by the thought, though he did consider himself more of a free spirit. He glanced around and realized where he was in the city; smirking to himself, Dabi slowly began retracing his steps to head back toward a certain café he was starting to grow fond of.
“Stop right there,” a voice called out.
“Sorry, but I’m kind of busy,” Dabi yelled as he retreated into a run. Police caught him off at the other end of the alley, but a quick blast of fire sent them scattering. Dabi laughed. “Do you people always fall for the same tricks,” he taunted.
He gasped, suddenly slammed against the wall. He felt his vision blur around the edges as blood started to ooze slowly from his head. Dabi grunted, glancing over the branches that held him in place. He laughed gently, still shaking off the pain from his head. “Kamui Woods, huh,” he asked, staring at him with amusement, “Is this the best they can do?”
“You’re caught. It’s over,” he replied.
Dabi laughed, raising his hand up to hold the wood that surrounded him. “You brought tinder to a fight with me, and you think it’s over?” Dabi blasted the wood with fire, causing Kamui Woods to recoil. “You heroes are really stupid,” he muttered darkly before taking off once more, ducking into an alleyway as Kamui Woods attempted to get ahold of him again. Dabi ran, a twisting and turning path through the area as he made his way toward one building.
As he rounded the corner, there it stood: Café Quell. Dabi knew if he could just make it inside, he would be home free. He weaved through an alley and jumped over a fence to gain some distance and quickly bolted for the café. He heard yelling in the distance, but he couldn’t focus on it, not when he was so close.
Dabi slipped into the café quickly, followed by the so-called hero and a number of police officers. He laughed as they surrounded him, unaffected as they threatened him. It only took a moment, but a familiar bunny-eared young man came out to greet them. They seemed to fall into a trance as they relaxed their arms. “Now,” Toichi said, his voice just as relaxed and mildly whimsical as usual, “How about you sit and order some tea.”
Dabi smirked and took a seat at one of the round tables at the center of the cafe. The others, though mildly irritated, also sat around the table. Dabi glanced outside. The police outside seemed to realize where he had slipped into and were trying to make plans to get him out. However, if what Tomura had said was true about this place, there was really nothing they could do while he was safe behind its walls.
“You have to leave sometime,” one of the officers said under his voice, sounding more relaxed than he probably meant to.
“You’re not wrong,” Dabi replied as he casually sent a text message under the table.
Dabi sipped tea as they glared at him, unable to do anything about it. He felt his phone buzz in his pocket after a tense few minutes. He finished off the tea with a lighthearted glance to the Pro Hero at the table. He chuckled, standing. The rest of them quickly stood as well. Dabi held up his hands defensively. “Can’t a guy take a piss?”
They looked at each other, but when Toichi came over to see what the commotion was about, they sat down. “Bathroom is that way, sir,” Toichi said as he motioned toward the back hall. Dabi turned and left, one hand tucked into his pocket and the other swinging the bag with his part as he strutted away with arrogant confidence.
He slipped into the bathroom and walked into the portal waiting for him, returning home for the day. He thanked Kurogiri, who gave him a warning glance. “Oh! Are you okay,” Rie asked as she went over to him. She reached up to check on his bleeding head with a look of pure concern.
Dabi looked surprised and took a step back from her, recoiling from her touch. “Yeah,” he said, “Don’t worry about me.” He hummed in thought as he went into the garage.
Chapter 21: Tomura and Dabi Visit the Beach
If you're interested, I'm on twitter now @screaming_lotus! Please enjoy :)
Tomura wasn’t a stupid person. When Dabi shuffled by him quickly in the halls and slipped into his room, he noticed. When Dabi came home far too late for anyone to be awake or around, he noticed. When Dabi deliberately woke up early to leave before he had the chance of waking up, he noticed. That well-done bastard was avoiding him, and it was starting to make Tomura question himself.
He had been an embarrassing drunk, sure, but he didn’t think he had been any worse than any other person Dabi has ever known. Unless…
Tomura touched his lips absently. Maybe he had done it after all; he could remember thinking about it for the majority of the night. Had he really done it? Was he really that brave? Tomura didn’t think so, and he certainly didn’t remember it. Then again, the whole drunken experience was like a long blur, and the day after was a waking nightmare. Despite that, Tomura would do it again if Dabi was there to keep him levelheaded.
But maybe things had gotten out of hand. Tomura felt his heart sink into his stomach; what if he had somehow creeped Dabi out?
When he was just about to feel sorry for himself, Tomura heard a knock at his door. He went over and opened it; much to his surprised, Dabi was standing in front of him, though he didn’t meet his gaze. “What is it? I’m very busy,” Tomura spat in irritation.
“I was wondering if you wanted to go to the beach or whatever.”
“The beach? Why?”
Dabi shrugged. “I have some business to take care of up there and figured you could tag along if you wanted. You’ve never been up there, right?”
Tomura’s heart gave a surprised jolt. He almost took a step back by the impact but tried to look calm and collected on the outside. Dabi had remembered that? “Right,” he mumbled, “But isn’t it a pain?” Now Tomura was just fishing for information. “I mean, you’ve been avoiding me lately.”
“Avoiding you?” Dabi looked up at the ceiling, trying to keep his eyes away from Tomura’s face.
Tomura glared at him. “You’re doing it right now.”
Surprised, and annoyed at being called out, Dabi looked down at him. “I am not. I’ve just been busy with your little plan, you know.” He huffed and ran a hand through his hair. “You know, you should really be thanking me. Besides, with Rie giving me free gas, it’s not like I have to worry about the cost, right?” Tomura wanted to remind Dabi that he never worried about cost but didn’t want to push his luck. Dabi started walking down the hall. “You coming?”
In their usual method, the two went out and climbed onto Dabi’s bike and left without another word. It was surreal to Tomura, the way he felt comfortable like this. Dabi had a strong, muscular back, and he didn’t mind being pressed against it. He glanced around, enjoying the scenery as they rode. Dabi seemed to relax as well, and by the time they had gotten to the beach, the tension between them had seemed to lift significantly.
The beach was, admittedly, nothing special. The town was small and not very crowded, but it had good seafood and little tourist shops. Dabi took Tomura for a walk on the beach and up along the pier but kept an obvious distance from the water. “Are you really scared of water?”
“I told you,” Dabi replied, “Water and fire don’t mix.”
Dabi took care of his business, which ended up being a rather petty trade of cash for supplies. Easy enough. Tomura sat on the concrete wall as he waited for him, and Dabi brought him ice cream when he came back to make up for his side trip. The two sat in silence, watching the waters gently wash across the shore until it started to get later.
“We should head back,” Dabi said as he stood up. He gasped, though, feeling a drop of rain hit his hand. Then more. Tomura looked up at the sky, not really minding the rain. “Shit, shit,” Dabi said as he quickly dug around in the side bags of his bike for his umbrella. He held it out to Tomura. “Hold this!” Tomura stood and held the umbrella over Dabi as he quickly covered his bike. He gave any annoyed groan. “We can’t drive back like this.”
“Oh…” Tomura looked around and noticed a small inn a little way down the street. “How about we just stay the night then? What can it hurt?”
Turns out, it could hurt a lot. Despite the empty feeling of the town, an entire family had booked the inn and only one room remained: a singular bed in a small, cramped room. Tomura and Dabi stood in the doorway, silence washing over them. “It’s either this or the rain, so…”
Dabi huffed and rolled his shoulders back, acting as if he didn’t care. “Fine,” he said, “It doesn’t matter. I’m going to take a shower.”
Tomura watched him disappear into the bathroom. Maybe Dabi really was disgusted by him; something had changed between them, and it was creeping back in. The day had been nice, almost too pleasant, and something so simple had completely derailed it. Tomura frowned.
When Dabi got out of the shower, Tomura took one as well. Though, he did more staring at the wall than actual washing. When he got out, Tomura went out to find Dabi in his boxers and t-shirt from the day, drying his hair with the dingy hotel drier.
Tomura reached up with one hand to rub at his head, sloppily, with a towel to dry it as he turned on the janky television set in the corner. He flipped a few times as Dabi pulled back the covers on the bed and sat down on the edge. Tomura didn’t need to look back to see him, though, as Dabi’s face was plastered all over the news. He looked back to him as he gestured to the screen.
“What,” Dabi remarked with a snide bend in his voice, “You don’t own me. He pissed me off.”
“No, but drawing unwanted attention isn’t going to help either of our causes.”
“My cause? You don’t even know what my cause is.” He smirked, eyes narrowing as he challenged Tomura to disagree with him. He was trying to start something, trying to fight with him to sabotage whatever he thought they had. Dabi knew he was doing it, but he couldn’t seem to stop himself; there was a sick joy in destroying something comfortable. It meant that they couldn’t hurt you. And they would, eventually.
Tomura rolled his eyes in annoyance and threw the remote on the bed as he went back into the bathroom. “I hate when you do this,” he muttered bitterly as he closed the door behind him.
A look of shock came over Dabi’s face as he stared blankly at the door. He had expected Tomura to fight back. He had expected him to get mad, to knock him down. What the hell was happening? Dabi looked around the room for an answer, but found not one: nothing on the walls, nothing on the carpet and nothing in the flashing of the tv screen. He sighed and shut off the news before crawling into bed and rolling to one side, facing away from the bathroom door.
He could see the light as the door opened. A moment later, he felt the dip in the mattress as it creaked under Tomura’s thin frame; a testament of a really shitty mattress. Dabi felt as the bed moved and shifted until everything finally settled in and everything went silence once more. Dabi could feel his heart racing, but the more he tried to silence it, the more it threatened to leap from his chest.
Dabi had spent many nights with Tomura before, but this one suddenly felt so different than all the others. Worse, he knew Tomura Shigaraki was angry with him, and he cared. Angry? They were villains. Tomura should have been excited to see his name pop up on the news. It meant they were getting attention, right? Maybe Dabi was missing the point.
The two laid there in a sleepless silence for what seemed like hours until Dabi finally turned onto his back. He sighed. “I feel like an old married couple.”
“Is that what we are?”
“Hmm,” Dabi asked, glancing over to Tomura’s back.
“The others all say the same thing.” Tomura sighed and turned to lay on his back as well. He didn’t look over to Dabi and, instead, stared straight upward toward the ceiling. “An old married couple.” Dabi wasn’t sure what to say, but luckily, he didn’t need to come up with anything. “You know, I don’t really care that you killed that suit. I probably would have done the same thing.”
“Well, we are the villains, right?” Dabi asked.
Tomura sighed and reached up to hide his face with his hands. “It’s stupid, but I’m worried,” he mumbled, “I’m worried you’ll do something stupid and get caught. You’re such a hot head.”
“And you’re the king of calm, are you?”
“No, but…” Tomura relaxed his arms, slowly uncovering his face. “I don’t really want to be alone again, you know?”
Dabi sat up, surprised by the sudden confession. He watched Tomura for a moment before he smirked, giving a breathy laugh. “You’re never alone,” he told him gently, “Hey.” Dabi nudged him in the side; Tomura finally looked over to him. “We’re family,” Dabi continued, “You’re stuck with me, dry bones. Sorry about it. For what it’s worth, I’ll try to keep a low profile for a while.”
Tomura smirked, laughing softly despite himself. “I told you not to call me that.”
Dabi flopped back into the bed and grinned. “Yeah? And what are you going to do about it?”
“I’m much too tired to get you back now! I need to recover my HP and spells with a long rest,” Tomura replied with a lightness in his voice that Dabi had grown fond of.
“You’re such a damn nerd.” Dabi laughed to himself. “Just get some sleep before you say anything else embarrassing.”
Chapter 22: Guest Chapter: Tomura and Dabi go to WcDonalds
Please enjoy this guest chapter written by my girlfriend!
Dabi pushed into Tomura's room, finding Tomura laying across his bed messing around on his phone.
"Ever heard of knocking? What if I had been doing something?"
"Something naughty? I would have stayed and watched. But your not, so."
"Gross." Tomura sat up. "What do you want, it's like midnight."
"I'm hungry. Come get WcDonalds with me"
"Why should I? Go yourself."
"I want company and I'll buy you a coffee float."
Tomura narrowed his eyes. "Its midnight and you're buying me coffee with icecream? Doesn't that seem wrong?"
"What, like you're going to sleep anyways? I mean, I'll buy you something else instead…"
Tomura sighed and got up. "Buy me the coffee float."
Dabi smirked and turned on his heels, heading out. Tomura threw on a jacket and rushed to catch up with him.
"What will you get?"
"A Big Wac with a large fry. Probably a milkshake"
"Are you sure you want that many calories late at night?"
"Are you calling me fat?"
"Just saying you can't be too careful"
Dabi looked at Tomura and saw the hints of a mischievous smile playing at Tomura's lips despite his best efforts to keep a straight face.
"Awww, Leader is looking out for my health~"
"Shut it, dumb ass." Tomura elbowed Dabi and Dabi elbowed him back a little harder, only to be met with another blow from Tomura's elbow. The two went at it until their elbows collided, sending tingles up their arms as they held their funny bones.
"Fuuuuckkk" moaned Dabi. "I call a truce"
"Deal…" Said Tomura, wincing.
The two made it to the store and Dabi ordered for them. They sat down at a booth table by the window, and suddenly became awkward sitting face to face.
Dabi tapped his fingers on the table absent-mindedly. "So…"
Tomura looked up from the spot he was staring at on the table. "Yeah?"
"I don't know. Thanks for keeping me company….want a fry?" Dabi held up a fry. Tomura reached out to take it but Dabi pulled his hand away. "Say 'ah~'"
Tomura glared at him. "Never mind. I don't want it."
"Aw~ Don't be such a dry stick in the mud, take it~" Dabi held it up and stared at Tomura.
"You can't pressure me into eating from your hand"
Tomura sighed, giving up. He opened his mouth and waited. Dabi hesitated, in shock that he gave in so easily. Tomura narrowed his eyes, daring him silently to do it. Dabi pushed the fry into Tomura's mouth tentatively. Tomura ate it.
"As punishment…" Tomura grabbed his spoon and held up a spoonful of his ice cream from his coffee float. "Say ah~" Tomura's eyes narrowed gleefully, happy to be subjecting Dabi to the other end of the game.
Dabi opened his mouth and let Tomura feed him, licking his lips after as he stared Tomura in the eyes.
"....Why do I feel like I lost again" Tomura questioned himself aloud.
"Maybe because you lost again" Dabi chuckled.
The two bantered as they ate their food, occasionally feeding each other as ways to make the other shut up when they said something stupid.
A little while later when they were finishing up and getting ready to leave, another customer walked up to their table. "Sorry to bother you, but I have an extra coupon for a desert that expires tomorrow that I won't be able to use. I was wondering if you'd like to have the coupon and split it, as a bonus treat for your date"
Tomura's face heated up and he immediately rasped out "We're not on a date"
The person looked slightly taken aback, but before they could say anything, Dabi interjected. "He's just shy~ We'd gladly accept your coupon, right, Hun?" He shot Tomura a smile as he said it 'hun' and then looked back at the kind stranger. "Thank you very much"
They smiled and handed the coupon to Dabi, and waived goodbye, wishing them a good night as Tomura just stared in shock at Dabi.
"Why did you say that?"
"And have her walk away with the coupon? Besides, we have been acting datey, why not go along with it"
Dabi stood up, held out his last french fry and said, "Eat this, babe, I'll be back with the dessert to go" and then winked as he walked by, going to the counter.
Tomura chewed slowly, staring into space.
He considered what happened and knew the person's assumption made perfect sense. But still...dating Dabi?
The idea didn't seem as bad as it should have and that alone irritated him. He did have fun with him on this "date." And they got free stuff out of it. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad to just go along with it at least…
Tomura was startled out of his thoughts by Dabi tapping his head lightly with the To-Go bad. "Yo, I got the food. Let's eat it at home."
Tomura looked up at him. Dabi looked cool from this angle...Tomura blushed at his stupid thoughts that were too much like a person with a crush. He tried to force it down and keep a straight face. "Okay, lets go"
Dabi smirked. "Yes, your highness"
Chapter 23: Dabi Gets Sick
Happy Valentine's Day!
There was a tug on Tomura’s heart that felt somehow all too familiar. Their fates were intertwined, and it was impossible to deny it anymore. As much as he had been avoiding it, as much as he wanted to pretend they were above such petty things – the truth was, Tomura was in love with the pyromaniac named Dabi. Thinking of it in that way, though, Tomura couldn’t help but be a little disgusted with himself.
Why did it have to be like this? The question stung in his mind, and he felt his knees shake under the weight of it.
Tomura jumped, hearing the sound of coughing from down the hall. He had heard Dabi cough before, as if his own body was giving in to his quirk, but this seemed different. It wasn’t the dry, soft cough of a smoker. It was heavy and pained.
Without thinking, Tomura shot up from his bed and threw open the bedroom door. He went to Dabi’s room and didn’t knock. Instead, he opened the door with a worried flourish. “Hey,” he said, looking over him. Dabi was slumped on his bed, still in his clothes from the night before, which were still damp from last night’s rain. Dabi had his head half buried in his pillow, holding onto it desperately as he coughed and sneezed. “Ew,” Tomura mumbled.
“Ever heard of knocking,” Dabi mumbled into his pillow, “I could have been doing something naughty.”
Tomura ignored him, sighed and went over to him, “You idiot. You slept in your wet clothes.”
“I got caught in the rain. I didn’t have any energy to change,” Dabi mumbled, not even bothering fighting the other being in his room without permission. He breathed in a ragged breath and let out a soft groan. “My throat feels like I’m swallowing needles.”
Tomura let out a sigh. “Alright,” he replied, “Well, I can’t just let you suffer like this, and it’s not like I have anything better to do today, so…”
Dabi smirked lazily at him, watching as Tomura went to his closet to grab fresh clothes. “You gonna play nurse?”
“Would you rather someone else take care of you?”
“Then shut it.”
Tomura grabbed a simple tshirt and some comfortable looking pants and a fresh pair of boxers and socks to go with it. He started to head into the bathroom when Dabi sat up a bit, watching him with a frown. “Where are you going,” he asked.
“You need to warm up first, so you need to take a bath.”
“Yeah. Don’t complain. You need to warm up,” Tomura said.
Dabi flopped back into his pillow, closing his eyes and relaxing for what felt like only a moment. Tomura moved over to him and gently touched him on the shoulder, startling him awake. He grunted, shifting as Tomura pulled back. “Get up. You can fall asleep when you’re warm and you get something in your stomach,” Tomura scolded him, “Oh, and don’t think you’re going to get out of taking medicine either.”
“Do I have to get up?”
“If you want to get better, than yes.” Tomura shifted his weight to one hip as he crossed his arms. “C’mon, don’t be a big baby now,” he muttered, “I know you’re just doing it to be a pain in the ass. You know it’s bad for you.”
“I already told you,” Dabi hummed, “I don’t have the energy to get up.”
“Then I’ll help support you, but you have to do some of the work.”
Dabi let out a gruff scoff which pulled another pained cough from him. He rolled over and sat up, hanging his head in his hands as the room spun around him. Tomura went to his side and reached out to lightly stroke his back.
Eventually, Dabi stood and with Tomura’s help steading him as he walked, undressed and rinsed, got into the fairly large shared bath. He leaned back against the edge, relaxing into the warmth of the hot water, peeking up to Tomura with a coy grin. “You going to join me?”
“Not this time,” Tomura said snidely, picking the dirty clothes off the floor. He went off to Dabi’s room to put the laundry in the basket and, realizing that there was laundry all over the floor, decided that he may as well pick that up too. He sighed and rolled his eyes. “What am I,” he complained, “His mom?” Despite that, Tomura continued to pick up his room, stopping when he noticed the sketchbook on his floor.
He was unsure, partially because he didn’t want to invade Dabi’s privacy that much, but also because he was curious and wanted to peek. What sort of things did the arsonist draw? What caught his attention? The allure made it hard for Tomura to resist and he carefully picked up the sketchbook and flipped it over.
Tomura felt his heart skip in his chest as he looked over the sketches of him. One of Tomura playing his game with his headset on, one of Tomura burning dinner, one of him with his hoodie, mask and hands shoved into his pocket. The confusion alone was enough to send him off balance and he fell backward onto his ass. He sat there a moment, unsure what to do with the new information.
“Hey, did you ditch me or what,” Dabi called down the hall, immediately followed by a coughing fit.
Startled, Tomura quickly replaced the notebook and clumsily picked himself off the floor. “Relax, you brat, I wasn’t gone more than a couple minutes,” he called back as he headed back into the bathroom, “What do you need me for anyway?”
“Will you wash my hair?”
Tomura raised an eyebrow at him. “Really?”
“You said you were going to take care of me,” Dabi replied slowly, flashing a smirk, “Nurse.”
“I hate you so much.” Despite his words, though, Tomura went over to the edge of the tub and squatted down beside it. “Come here.” Dabi hummed and moved over to him. Tomura washed his hair in silence, blushing slightly at how Dabi relaxed into his hands. He really did trust him, didn’t he? He didn’t worry or jump. He didn’t seem the least bit concerned with the possibility of destruction. Tomura couldn’t help but smile to himself.
He rinsed his hair, careful not to get anything in his eyes. As he reached over him, Dabi caught him by the wrist and pulled him into the tub. Tomura blushed, realizing he was now on top of him. His heart skipped as he made a move to get out. “What the hell,” Tomura shrieked.
“I can’t,” Dabi started, looking away from him.
“I can’t hold back anymore,” he said, looking up to Tomura. Freezing in place, Tomura swallowed and watched as Dabi leaned into him and pressed his lips against his. His body gave way and he melted into Dabi, feeling a part of himself that he had been holding back finally release as if a valve had been suddenly opened. It was frantic, animalistic and somehow perfectly fitting as they struggled to contain the passion that they had both held back for so long.
Eventually, they pulled back with open, panting mouths as if the air had been pulled from their bodies. They stared at each other, neither looking away from the other. Dabi leaned in, giving Tomura a weak peck on the lips before tugging gently with his teeth with a sly smile as he drew a weak whimper from Tomura when he pulled back.
“Aren’t you sick of pretending, Tomura,” Dabi whispered, “Somehow, we work together, right? You and I both know it’s probably stupid, but who cares? We’re villains. We can do whatever we damn well please. Can’t that mean we can be together if we want to be?”
Tomura tensed a moment, startled by the confession. He tried, for a moment, to justify it somehow. To tell himself that Dabi was only saying it because he had a fever or that it was simply another way to tease him. However, nothing he thought of made any sense. Dabi really meant it, didn’t he? Tomura knew Dabi was really putting his heart on the line, and Tomura would have to do the same. He would have to trust someone without hesitation.
Although it scared him more than anything and his body felt like it was revolting at the idea, Tomura leaned forward and kissed Dabi on the cheek shyly. “I don’t want to pretend anymore,” he whispered, “And I don’t know what I’m doing.”
Dabi wrapped his arms around Tomura and held him close, closing his eyes as he buried his head into his shoulder. “Then we’ll figure it out together. Right?”
“Together,” Tomura repeated softly.
The two remained in each other’s arms for a little longer until Tomura had a sudden realization. “Great,” he muttered, “Now I’m going to get sick.”
Dabi laughed and apologized, but Tomura wasn’t sure he believed him. The two got out of the water and got changed into dry clothes. Together, they sat on Dabi’s bed as Tomura dried his hair. They both took medicine, just in case, and Tomura made sure that Dabi got something hot to eat before putting him to bed. He leaned over and stroked his hair. “You’re an idiot for falling for someone like me, you know,” Tomura whispered to him.
“I could say the same about you,” Dabi replied lethargically, not opening his eyes.
Tomura smirked. “Maybe.”
It was a particularly hot day. The kind of day where you wanted nothing more than to strip down to nothing and lay in front of a fan. The kind of day where the air was as dry as your throat, and the only thing that could tame the wild flame was some form of iced drink. The kind of day where even having even just a simple touch from another felt even more sweltering as their body heat radiated from them.
Despite that, Tomura and Dabi sat, facing each other, leaning into each other so that each could play around on their phone behind the others back. Tomura rest his chin on Dabi’s shoulder, adamantly playing a game as Dabi carelessly checked his phone. The low hum of the fan droned on in the comfortable silence of the room, only interrupted by occasional curses from Tomura Shigaraki when something in his game didn’t go the way he had wanted.
“Hey, fire breath,” Tomura mumbled.
Dabi raised an eyebrow. “Hmm?” He smirked. “What is it, Sahara?”
“You ever think about the future?”
“Y-yes, and… and the future in general,” Tomura replied sheepishly, “Where… do we go from here? I mean, it feels like the ending to something, and yet… it’s only just begun, hasn’t it?” Dabi had heard uncertainty in Tomura’s voice before, but this felt more unfamiliar. There was a strange vulnerability in his voice, causing it to shake just barely.
He thought about it a moment before tossing his phone down onto the bed. He wrapped his arms around Tomura and relaxed. “So what if it is? It sounds so profound when you put it like that, but all I want is to be right here with you,” Dabi replied, “Isn’t that enough?”
“Of course, that’s enough.” Tomura sighed and dropped his phone. “That’s not-”
“I know what you meant.” Leaning back, Dabi took Tomura’s chin in his hands and smiled. “I mean, you’re overthinking things again. It’s good to think about the future, but you’re obviously worrying about things that haven’t happened yet.” He moved his hand, shaking Tomura’s head playfully.
Tomura smirked and knocked his hand away. “This is just all new for me, I guess.”
“Hey, same here.”
“But you’ve been with lots of people.”
“Heh, yeah,” Dabi reminisced, drawing a jealous heat to Tomura’s cheeks, “But I’ve never been in a relationship before. Not a real one, anyway. So, it’s all sort of new to me too.”
“Why do I get the feeling you’re avoiding the subject?”
“I’m not,” Dabi replied with a light chuckle, “Look, we’re together.” He leaned in close, smirking as Tomura sucked in a breath and held it as if he expected something. “I’m yours,” Dabi whispered with a hoarse rasp, “Is that what you want to hear? An official declaration?”
Tomura shuttered at the thought. “Not necessarily,” he muttered, though it came out weaker than he had intended.
“So, then what?”
“I guess I don’t know either.”
The two fell silent for a while as Tomura tried to figure it out. He had asked the question, sure, but he wasn’t sure what he had been expecting as an answer. Would they be together forever? Until the cops came? Would they be willing to throw away everything for each other? Was it only convenience? He supposed Dabi was right, Tomura was overthinking things. After all, they had only officially started dating. For now, Tomura was comfortable like this, but it felt too easy and almost unearned.
Everything about their relationship had been easy. Sure, they bickered and fought, even struggled to understand each other, but it had never felt like a burden to Tomura. It had always just felt like a natural step forward, as normal and relaxed as breathing.
Dabi rolled his shoulders back, cracking his back as he pushed his chest forward. “Anyway, I had a stupid idea today,” he started.
“How is that different than any other day?”
Smirking, Dabi grabbed his phone and started messing around on it as if to avoid eye contact. “You know Rie?”
“I brought her here, didn’t I?”
“She…” Dabi seemed to struggle. “She doesn’t really fit in here, huh?”
“She was never meant to.”
“I know, I know, but…”
“She sort of,” Tomura tried, “Fits into our new world, right? So, we should keep her away from Toga and any potential police and hero involvement?” It sounded unsure, but they both knew they were just trying to skirt the subject.
“I mean, we don’t really need her help around here. She’s more like an extra expense than anything else.”
“So, you should fire her,” Dabi said firmly.
“Why not you?”
Tomura groaned. “Because it’s hot.”
Despite his protesting, though, Tomura knew the other was right. She didn’t suit their image, and although she had helped, unknowingly, in their crimes, it really wasn’t worth it. He went to Rie and let her know that they didn’t need the extra help since the place was so slow. Naturally, she took it extremely well. Tomura wasn’t surprised. He got her the rest of her paycheck from the cash register and slipped a little extra in as well.
He handed her the envelope carefully. Tomura seemed to hesitate as Rie thanked him and put the envelope in her bag. “Is it okay if I walk you,” he asked.
“Hm?” Rie chuckled gently. “Of course!”
The two walked in silence. Tomura kept his hands tucked into his pockets, unsure of what he really wanted to say. There were a few things on his mind, but he didn’t really feel like letting them escape. Rie had been kind to them in ways that they weren’t used to, and that alone was too strange to process. Maybe she just really was that stupid.
“Oh! Hey,” Rie said happily, pulling Tomura out of his thoughts. However, she wasn’t talking to him. She waved to a boy standing across the bridge near the station. He was distinct, to say the least, with purple skin, large bat ears that flicked when they heard her call and large wings. When he turned, Tomura could see his pure black eyes and could just barely make out the little fangs sticking out of his smile. Rie waved. “Ekihiko,” she called.
“My boyfriend,” she replied shyly, “He’s going to hero school. Isn’t that cool?”
Tomura tensed momentarily, slowly his steps until he stopped at the edge of the bridge. “Oh, yeah.”
“Well, thanks for walking me to the station.” Rie happily trotted over to Ekihiko and threw her arms around his midsection. She grinned up at him. He smiled, pat her head and looked over to Tomura, who avoided eye contact by pretending to adjust his shoes. The two started to walk toward the station.
“Rie,” Tomura called after her.
Rie paused and turned. “Yeah?”
Tomura looked up to her, meeting her eyes. “Did you know?”
There was a moment that she looked shocked, but it slowly melted into a knowing smile. “Know what? That Dabi was using me for free gas?” She chuckled. “I knew…” Ekihiko seemed annoyed, but he didn’t fully grasp what she had meant.
“So then… why?”
“There’s good in everyone. I truly believe that,” Rie replied, “If it helped him, then I was happy to do it. I never felt used if that’s what you’re worried about.” As the train drew closer, Ekihiko motioned to Rie. She nodded and looked back to Tomura. She smiled and gave him a gentle wave. “I’ll see you around, Tomura.” Tomura stood, eyes wide as he watched after her. He watched the two board the train and disappear off into the distance.
Good? In everyone? Tomura wasn’t sure he believed her, but perhaps people were more than just their outer husks that they pretended to be. Maybe Tomura didn’t need the world to believe he was the true heir of justice. Maybe he only needed one person. And maybe that one person and him could simply learn and grow together. Maybe Tomura didn’t need to worry about the future. He was having a nice time in the present anyway.
Tomura returned home and slipped into Dabi’s room, gently closing the door behind him.
Please look forward to the sequel, Fully Submerged, coming soon!