I gotta stop doing this shit.
It’s not the first time the thought crosses Shigaraki’s mind, and it won’t be the last.
After races and jobs, the League pulls up at their bar-turned-hangout to celebrate or commiserate. It’s what they do, and doing it sober leaves something to be desired.
Shigaraki had swiped some random shit off of Giran - the broker owed him anyway - and had already ingested far too much of whatever it was, especially considering that he’s rummaging through an array of booze, looking for something to take the edge off.
His jaw is tight, and it cracks in his ear when he opens his mouth - a consequence of grinding his teeth while he races. Losing doesn’t help his mood. There’s nothing Shigaraki hates more than being humiliated, but his loss was inevitable. No one in the crew can match Toga’s speed, at least not in straight shot races.
Stupid trash Bugatti.
He’s considered arranging an “accident” to total it, but he doesn’t want to deal with the brat if she finds out he’s behind it. So, he takes the L.
But he doesn’t accept it.
Whiskey? No. Vodka? Maybe. Tequila? Might as well.
Ignoring his companions' mindless chatter, Shigaraki fills a pint glass with the pungent spirit and downs it like it’s water. It burns up his airways, smarting in his nose, and scorches a hot path into his stomach. Shots would have been a better choice, but he’s in too foul of a mood to care.
The pills have finally started to kick in, and shit is getting weird. Speech bubbles form above his crew’s heads as they speak. He squints, trying to make out the jumble of words floating around him, but his efforts to read the sounds are in vain.
Shigaraki rocks back on his heels, leaning into the bar counter. Between the booze and the pills, his vision is starting to blur and double. Triple? No, that’s just Twice. Why are there so many Twices? And why are they all so loud? Why is the room overflowing with obnoxious blonds? Wait, that’s just Toga. But since when has Toga been taller than Dabi? Are Dabi’s scars inverted? No, he just looks like shit. Is Spinner…. a lizard?
Rubbing his eyes, Shigaraki tries to refocus himself. Feeling a presence beside him, he whips around to face Kurogiri. Officially, he’s in charge of facilitating the gang’s ventures. Unofficially, he’s in charge of babysitting Shigaraki.
“Tomura,” Kurogiri’s voice is warbled. Static cracks in Shigaraki’s ears, and he misses part of what is being said.
“Please consider it? This can’t continue.”
Oh. It’s just another lecture.
“I know what I’m doing,” Shigaraki slurs, his tone accusatory and bitter.
“Of course, but-” Tiny snails crawl out of Kurogiri’s mouth, and it’s really fucking distracting. Shigaraki can’t be bothered to listen, losing himself in following their slimy procession.
Sighing is a combination of frustration and disappointment, Kurogiri walks away, leaving Shigaraki to his hallucinations. It’s well known that Shigaraki is hard to persuade - even more so when he’s crossed. Kurogiri will have to try again when his charge isn’t tripping.
Coppery thoughts that taste like viscera seep out of Shigaraki’s head and into his blood, filling his mouth with an acrid tang. Everything is too warm, so he takes his hoodie off. But now he’s armorless, so he folds in on himself, hugging his arms into his chest.
His hands burn with memories that hurt the most when he’s drunk. And just like that, another bad trip pulls him back, dragging him through the graveyard in his heart and dropping him off on the front steps of that night.
His skin itches: He can feel the wheel in his hands, sees the crash play on a loop in his head, hears her screams, tastes the blood that washes over him. It’s as unforgiving as ever.
Shigaraki’s hand finds his neck. Scratch. Scratch. Scratch. He needs a release from the buzzing in his blood, so he doesn’t stop until his fingers are slick and his stomach knots with signs of nausea.
Shigaraki lurches forward, head swimming as he makes for the door. His lungs deflate in his chest, and he’s forgotten how to breathe. Did he ever know how? Maybe not.
If he can just get outside, he’ll be able to breathe again. It’s a fact. He knows it.
Stumbling for the door, the voices behind him rise in a swell of alarm. Everything is hazy, though - too hazy. He can’t make out who’s saying what. All he knows is that their concern is fucking irritating.
He rips the door open, feeling cold night air hit his face, biting at the open wounds on his neck.
Cold. Cold. Cold.
Its like ice on his raw nerves.
Shoving his bloodstained hand into his pocket, Shigaraki retrieves his keys, thumbing the start button. The immediate purr of his Aventador soothes a fraction of the itch in his veins.
He slides into the driverside with a distressed whine, running his fingers over the steering wheel and appreciating the texture of leather under his fingertips.
“Tempest,” he hums the name under his breath.
Just sitting in the car is almost enough to bring him out of his spiral, but before Shigaraki can let go of the weight on his chest, he hears the bar’s door slam open. Adrenaline sparks in his heart.
They’ll pull him out of the car, drag him inside, and make him drink water or something stupid. Twice will talk his ear off asking if he’s okay. Toga will prod him and take super unflattering Snapchats to send to her friends. Dabi will be an entire fucking asshole about the whole thing.
Spinner… lizard… Kurogiri? Mmm, no. Magne? Whatever happened to-
I’m not going back in.
Kurogiri is approaching the car. “Approaching.” He’s racing to rip open Shigaraki’s door.
Ha… losers. I don’t need this shit.
Shigaraki slams into reverse, smoke and exhaust filling the air as he burns rubber, skidding around until he can floor it away from the bar and his underlings.
His heart hums unevenly as a mix of adrenaline and euphoria spike through him, granting him an unprecedented high that even pills can’t accomplish.
But as fast as his glee comes, it’s gone, ripped from him by intrusive thoughts. He watches in horror as his steering wheel decays beneath his fingertips. A sharp inhalation steadies him, and he loosens his grip on the wheel, hovering the pads of his fingers against the leather.
It’s there. It’s there. It’s there.
Shigaraki reaches to scratch his neck again, finding a patch of dry skin to dig his nails into, but his hand falls away as images of his neck crumbling beneath his fingers explode behind his eyes.
Returning his hands to the wheel, Shigaraki blows through a red light, chanting in his head to drown out the poisonous thoughts.
You’re whole. Safe. Whole. Safe. Whole. Whole. Whole.
But he’s not safe.
He takes a corner wide, almost clipping a pedestrian as he tears down the road. Before him, street lights swim across his vision like shooting stars. He feels dizzy, drowsy, sick - nothing.
Everything and nothing. Overwhelmed and apathetic.
Shigaraki’s eyelids are slipping.
I’m not even tired.
He isn’t sure. They’re heavy, though, and he can feel his body betraying him. Blinking hard, he stretches his eyes wide, careening through several more lights, weaving in and out of traffic.
By now, Shigaraki has caused quite the commotion: cars honk as he cuts them off, several large trucks slam on their breaks to avoid crushing him as he zips through traffic, and flashing lights appear behind him, materializing out of the night to give chase.
Spying the police, Shigaraki shifts gears, pushing his baby as fast as she’ll take him. He snickers to himself, drunkenly muttering as he plots his getaway.
Bots. I’ll outplay you.
If he can make it to the expressway, he can outrun the bastards. Legally, the cops will have to drop their pursuit once he maxes out, and unable to match his speed, the convenient regulation doesn’t matter much anyway.
Lurching through a drift, Shigaraki accelerates, watching the road fall away beneath his car as he launches himself forward into abyssal nothingness. Bright colors flicker on the backs of his eyelids, and he can taste the pixels of the map as he reaches its border, bracing to hit the invisible wall at the world’s end.
No more map. No more road.
The expressway onramp looms up before him as he skids over the asphalt, flashing police lights biting at his exhaust.
> Enter the Expressway: Yes? No?
> Select mode...
Shigaraki cackles to himself, finger hovering over the start screen before making his selection.
> Casual. Normal. Zealot. Death March.
One shot. No respawns.
He hits the ramp, slowing to forty over the suggested limit and drifting around the curve before punching the gas to the floor, speed building as he nears the gore point.
And it would be fine. Really it would. If it wasn’t for the eighteen-wheeler that’s coming up to meet him in a deadly kiss.
A boss battle.
> You cannot save right now.
Fine. Tempest can beat a bot like you. Her stats are maxed.
Shigaraki chews his lip, threatening to split it as he shifts into seventh gear.
Adrenaline continues to flood his veins, and for a fraction of a second, he almost feels sober. Pixels sharpen, and his double vision disappears.
This is what he needed. Not the booze. Not the pills. Just speed and stakes higher than his impending overdose.
He pushes Tempest to her limit, and his heart flies into his throat as they dart in front of the eighteen-wheeler, which hits its brakes, weight shifting as it jackknifes across several lanes.
The nearly avoided collision opens up enough of a gap for the cops to skirt through the paved gore, tearing after Shigaraki despite knowing that they’d already lost him. The second his tires had hit the expressway he was home free.
Or so he might have been.
As the cop cars begin to fall away in Shigaraki’s rearview mirror, a familiar black car rockets past them, hurdling down the road after him. Rage explodes under his skin.
Fuck off, pawn.
Shigaraki, not willing to be wrangled, fights to keep his wheel straight as he speeds across the asphalt. But his brief sobriety is a fading memory, and his haze retakes him. He growls, hissing in irritation as Dabi’s GT-R gains on him.
Nearly side-by-side, the supercars continue to tear down the road, engines growling as the flashing lights of the cop cars finally disappear from view. Hoping to lose Dabi, Shigaraki makes a knee jerk decision to pull off of the expressway, but to his chagrin, the GT-R cuts a sharp line after him, never leaving his sight.
Before Shigaraki can do much of anything, the jet-black car passes him, slipping in front to block his path. Ready to risk it all, Dabi brake checks Shigaraki, an action that very nearly costs them both greatly as Shigaraki’s brain, still foggy with inebriation, lags.
Shigaraki watches their cars collide - sees the spray of glass as he begins to fly forward through his windshield - but the vision is fleeting. He’s dropping frames faster than he can count them, and before his heart can explode in his chest, he’s rubber-banded back to his last point of connection.
Tires scream against the asphalt as both cars swerve to a stop: Dabi still attempting to prevent Shigaraki from making further escape attempts, drifting just out of reach of the other but close enough to be a nuisance, and Shigaraki merely trying not to crash his coveted Aventador.
When all that’s left spinning is his vision, Shigaraki rests his forehead on the steering wheel, wrapping his arms around his head. It doesn’t help. He feels sick.
Pounding on Shigaraki’s window shakes him out of his spiraling descent. Dabi, who’s somehow materialized beside the car, continues to rap his knuckles against the tinted glass until Shigaraki rolls the window down.
“What?” Shigaraki glowers, furrowing his brow as he eyes Dabi in contempt.
“You tryin’ to fucking kill me?” Dabi growls, reaching in through the window to unlock the car. He wrenches the door open and rips Shigaraki out of the driver’s seat.
“You wish,” Shigaraki spits back, heat simmering in his slurred words. “You cut me off. I wasn’t doing anything.” He stares at his shoes, watching them as they float around the floor. Maybe, he has four feet. No, six.
“Hey,” Dabi snaps his fingers in front of Shigaraki’s face, trying to get his attention. When he’s ignored, Dabi fists a hand in Shigaraki’s hair, pulling his face up. “What the fuck is wrong with you?”
Hissing in displeasure, Shigaraki claws at Dabi, elbowing him in the ribs and making him let go. “Don’t touch me.” Red eyes narrow - petulant and defensive.
Dabi’s face is nigh unreadable. His usual smirk and cultivated boredness are absent. The dangerous fire in his eyes is tempered, and the only tell of emotion is in the twinge of his lips, the tautness of his shoulders, and the way he’s unconsciously leaning into Shigaraki’s space.
“Tomura.” Dabi’s tone is flat, and the uncharacteristic use of Shigaraki’s first name drops his heart into his stomach. “Look at me.”
Shigaraki obliges, too lethargic to make threats or be his usual level of obstinate. Dabi waves a finger in front of Shigaraki’s face - back and forth - continuing until the bloodshot crimson eyes begin to track the motion.
Satisfied with whatever he’d been checking, Dabi drops his hand. “Give me your keys.” It’s not a question.
As Shigaraki begins to protest, he has the sudden realization that Twice is leaning against Dabi’s car, arms folded, features twisted into a concerned grimace. His silence is atypical, screaming in Shigaraki’s ear, “You fucked up bad this time.”
“Give them to me, or we’ll remove them from you by force.” Dabi’s eyes narrow, and Shigaraki can tell he means it. Twice shifts, pushing off of the GT-R to make his way over.
Scratch. Scratch. Scratch. Shigaraki’s nails find his inner wrist, digging into his damaged skin. Pale flesh turns pink then crimson, but before Shigaraki can tear into himself further, Dabi grabs his wrist with crushing force.
Twice is hovering over his shoulder, and Dabi steps in closer. Trapped between the two, Shigaraki’s fists clench. He hates being pushed around, but he’s severely disadvantaged in his drugged-out state.
Could just kill them...
They won’t respawn.
Press X to confirm?
Shigaraki shakes his head to dispel his itchy thoughts. He feels a hand snake into his pocket from behind, retrieving his key without his permission.
“Trade.” Twice jerks his chin at Dabi, and the pair toss their keys through the air - Dabi catching Shigaraki’s and Twice accepting the GT-R’s.
“Gimme a hand,” Dabi grunts, and Shigaraki becomes faintly aware that his pawns are ignoring him, acting as if he’s lost consciousness or some shit. Maybe, he already has. Maybe, this is an unskippable cutscene, and as soon as it’s over, he can get back to whatever it was that he’d been doing - not that he can remember what that was.
Firm hands steer him towards the passenger side of his Aventador. Twice holds Shigaraki’s head down as they deposit their leader into the front seat, leaning in to buckle Shigaraki in after Dabi has pulled back. And then, the door is slammed shut, and he’s alone again.
It’s just Shigaraki for a moment, pouting in the roaring silence that presses into him with staggering force. Outside, Twice and Dabi are bickering - or maybe just talking casually. Are Dabi and Twice friends? Shigaraki doesn’t know nor does he care.
Five Twices flip Dabi off. Then, Twice gets in the GT-R, and Dabi slides into the driver’s seat of the Aventador, letting the car’s engine growl to life.
At first, Dabi doesn’t speak - doesn’t even turn to look at Shigaraki. He stares at the dash for an uncomfortable expanse of seconds that count down in Shigaraki’s mind like a New Year’s eve timer. A fragment of a sigh slips out of Dabi, and he shakes his head as he pulls the car back onto the road.
Annoyed? Frustrated? Disgusted? Get in line.
After ten minutes, Shigaraki deduces that they are headed back to the bar, and after five more, Dabi breaks the silence.
“You want the kid to think shit like this is okay?” He’s talking about Toga, but it’s hypocritical at best. Not only has Dabi gotten into his fair share of bullshit, but he’s also the last to care about the other members of the gang. Since when does Dabi care about the brat?
“If you're just gonna lecture me, don’t bother,” Shigaraki grumbles into a fistful of hair that he’s drawn across his face, nose scrunched into his tangled locks. “Kurogiri is my babysitter.” The words taste worse than the booze had. “Not you.”
Dabi snorts, a sliver of amusement wriggling into the sound. “I couldn’t be paid to babysit your busted ass. Sorry, boss.” There’s no heat in his words, and for maybe the first time ever, there’s no sarcasm in the way he says “boss.”
Confusion swells in Shigaraki’s addled mind.
What are you playing at? He brings his hand to his mouth, chewing on his knuckles in thought.
You can’t win anything from this. Frustrated, Shigaraki drops his hand, flesh now raw with little bite marks, and turns to face Dabi in full.
“So, you’re gonna pretend like we’re friends now? That you care about me?” Shigaraki sneers, his slurred words slithering through the cabin and deepening the itch under his skin.
“I don’t have friends.” Dabi doesn’t take his eyes from the road, cold irises burning through Shigaraki’s windshield. There’s a swell in his chest as if he has more to say, and he does. “I have family.” Dabi’s words creep across Shigaraki, halting his itch and painting a faint blush across his pale cheeks.
Dabi shoots a glance at Shigaraki, and this time, his eyes aren’t cold. There’s a thin crack in his mask, and through it, shards of genuine concern filter into the musky cabin air, settling over Shigaraki, reminding him of a time he wasn’t so alone, making him miss h-
“Yeah, whatever,” Shigaraki mutters, turning his head towards the passenger window as if he cared what lay beyond rather than as a means to hide his faltering expression from Dabi.
They drive the rest of the way without speaking. Unable to bear the silence, Shigaraki turns the stereo on, allowing his usual mix of bassy chiptune beats to drown out his thoughts. And for what must have been charitable reasons, Dabi doesn’t change it or give him shit.
When they arrive back at the League’s hangout, Toga all but rips Shigaraki’s door off, pulling him out and climbing him like a tree, wrapping her arms and legs tightly around his torso.
“Tomu!” She wails, burying her face in his hair. “We were so worried.” Shigiaraki teeters, thrown off by the teen's weight and still feeling the effects of the poison in his blood.
“Hey, brat!” Dabi barks with less bite than usual. “He’s still fucked up. Leave him alone.” Toga pouts but dismounts Shigaraki, patting his shoulder before sulking back into the bar.
Behind them, Twice pulls up, parking the GT-R and tossing the keys back to Dabi.
Brow pinched, Twice wrings his hands together as he approaches. “You good, bossman?” He pauses, running a hand down the back of his head. “If you need anything-” Twice cuts off, eyes softening, finishing his sentiment with wordless warmth, “I’m here for you.”
There it is again, that rush of warmth Shigaraki had felt in the car with Dabi - had felt a moment ago when Toga was clinging to him.
“Why wouldn’t I be?” is all that comes out, but the lack of heat in his words is enough to say what he can’t.
A small smile wrinkles the edge of Twice’s mouth, and he nods in understanding. He makes his way inside, bumping shoulders with Shigaraki as he passes, leaving the ghost of subtle affection in his wake.
Dabi and Shigaraki stand alone by the cars, streetlights painting their faces with ghastly shadows.
Shigaraki should say something - should thank Dabi. But why would he? Should. Could. He won’t.
Red eyes meet blue. In the shadows cast by the streetlamps, the ghost of honesty flickers across Dabi’s scarred face, and in return, understanding sparks in Shigaraki’s chest.
“I’m glad you’re okay.”
“Yeah, me too.”
Dabi absently toys with a staple on the back of his wrist, and Shigaraki gets sucked into watching, the realization that he’s not the only one with unconscious fixations dawning on him.
“I’m giving your keys to Kurogiri,” Dabi breaks the silence. “Bug him about them, but don’t whine to me.” He stops tugging at the staple, chest drawing in half of a breath.
Shigaraki’s eyes scrunch in annoyance, but he nods. As Dabi turns to head inside, panic swells in Shigaraki.
“Freak,” he calls out. Dabi turns, expression unamused but tolerant. “I don’t- I don’t hate you.” It’s hard to be so lovey-dovey, but Shigaraki has to say the words now or he never will.
Dabi chuckles, eyes losing their sharpness. “You’re not the worst yourself.” Dabi shrugs, giving Shigaraki a slight nod before pushing through the bar door.
Before the door can swing shut, Kurogiri catches it, joining Shigaraki outside. He approaches with calm, even paces - a stark contrast to what couldn’t have been more than an hour ago.
“Shigaraki Tomura,” Kurogiri stops a few paces away and lets the name hang in the air above them. A shudder ripples across Shigaraki’s skin as he waits to be told off.
“I wish you’d open up to us.”
The words spear through Shigaraki - splinters of ice piercing his heart. All at once, he becomes painfully grounded to his surroundings: the feeling of concrete firm and cold beneath him, the texture and taste of the air, the temperature in the space between their bodies, the dryness of his tongue, the way the night breeze kisses his torn neck. His hair raises on his arms as tension builds in his chest. A cold knife presses between his ribs, and he’s afraid that breathing too deeply will allow the tip to pierce his lungs - allow his sudden grasp on reality to slip through his fingers.
“I-” Shigaraki opens his mouth, but his retorts won’t come. Tremors shake his hands, and he can’t meet Kurogiri’s eyes.
Instead, he chokes out, “Why?”
“Because we are a family, Tomura.” Kurogiri’s voice is gentle but firm.
Warm tendrils of forgotten emotions snake across Shigaraki’s chest, burrowing under his skin and licking at his heart.
“I don’t need a family. This is my gang. You’re all just pawns.” It’s a lie, but Shigaraki would sooner die than cease his stubbornness.
“Maybe so,” Kurogiri sighs, stepping closer, “But we need you.” His eyes are luminous in the dark, and Shigaraki still can’t meet them for more than a second. But when he does, he sees the intentional openness in Kurogiri’s gaze.
“Come here, Tomura.” Kurogiri won’t try to force a hug onto Shigaraki - won’t try to collar his feral gremlin charge. All he can do is coax the young man forward, hoping his honesty is enough to bring Shigaraki into his arms.
And maybe, it’s the booze. Maybe, it’s the pills. Maybe, it’s the way the stars feel oppressive in the way they’re watching with unwavering attention.
Maybe, it’s what Dabi said in the car.
Maybe, it’s weakness.
A glitch. A bug. A bad line of code.
But Shigaraki allows himself to crumble into Kurogiri and doesn’t protest when arms wrap around his back, pulling him in tighter.
Safe. Whole. Safe. Whole. Safe. Whole.
And this time, he is.