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I'll Take You By The Hand (To A World We Understand)

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The blend of the music is like a symphony to him. The bass beats deep in his chest and his voice comes out raspy as he screams into the microphone. He can barely hear himself over the roar of the crowd. Everything is just loud. Loud and disorganized. Touya Todoroki loves it.

The only thing that guides him is the feeling he had written down on scrap pieces of paper months ago. He knew the lyrics by heart. Had carved them out of his own pain. There was no word that came out of his mouth that he didn’t feel deep in his chest.

Touya opened his eyes and looked out at the crowd. They were just a waving mass of pitch, moving like the ocean does. In almost every seat there was a glow stick shaped like a match on fire. The symbol of his band. They all moved and waved with the bodies and if Touya tried to look at all of it at once he almost got seasick. 

Touya’s note ended and the music replaced it, picking up and building it into a crescendo of guitar rifts and drum beats. Touya got goosebumps as the music filled him from head to toe. He threw one fist in the air and the crowd roared louder than a jet engine. Touya walked with the music, each new note was another step. He started low, catching hands and high fives across the front row. When the music was so loud he thought his ears might burst, even with the plugs in them, he raised one hand and slammed it down with the bass drop.

Microphone still in hand he screamed his last lyrics into a black void. A void that he wrote to everyday in the form of meters and lines on a page. A void that had gathered, right here, in front of him, just to hear him shout his issues out loud.

There was a moment in Touya’s world where all that existed was the sound. Then his voice reached its last breath. The music faded and all Touya knew was a ringing sound. Then, like the concussive force of a bomb the screams of his fans came rushing toward the stage.

Touya felt a smirk lift his lips upwards. He was breathing so hard his lungs felt like they were on fire. His fingers twitched where they held the microphone. He dropped it and let it hang by the cord before it hit the ground.

The moment ended too soon and the stage lights went off. Touya was lost in the darkness again. The only thing left was the chanting of his name in the crowd. His stage name. 

“DA-BI! DA-BI!” That’s right. He wasn’t Touya Todoroki. Not on this stage. He was Dabi. Lead singer of The League, and he liked the sound of them shouting out his name.

Out of the corner of his eye Dabi caught a glimpse of a glowstick backstage. Someone was waving, beckoning him away from his people. Dabi turned his back, clicking the microphone back into its stand, he followed the beckoning glowstick.

It’s time to return to reality.

 


 

 

Hawks is a lot of things. The one thing he was not, is a fool. He knows when he’s being swindled out of a good deal, and this movie with Enji Todoroki was a big deal. If it worked, his fame would skyrocket just standing next to one of the most famous actors and producers alive. So why, oh why did his manager think this would never work out? Rumi had had misgivings even before coming to this meeting with Todoroki and his people. Hawks just hoped she would change her mind after this.

Hawks flung his last piece of scrap paper at the wall and watched it bounce in the empty fish tank, which still had its filter running. He was bored out of his mind in this office, while his manager, Rumi, got to talk to the big kahunas just past an annoyingly locked wooden door. He let out a deep sigh and considered crying out, telling Rumi to hurry up because he’s bored.

Somehow, Hawks managed to behave. He took one last look at the door and let it linger there. The clock ticked away. Any second, Rumi would come out and tell him how she managed to score him that movie deal with Enji Todoroki he’s wanted for forever. 

Even though he was watching the door for a solid five minutes he was still surprised when it creaked open. Lead by Rumi, a team of business people came out with unreadable expressions. Rumi, however, was fuming. Hawks could tell because her nose was twitching in that way it only does if she’d been forced to hold back crude comments for an hour.

The minute Rumi stepped out, Hawks jumped in front of her. All the other business people stuck their noses up and turn away from them as they block half the exit. “Well?” Hawks asked very loudly and with a childlike lilt to his voice.

Rumi just sighed. She side eyed each pencil skirt and too tight black suit until everyone was out of earshot. Then she exploded. “HELL RAISING CHEATS THAT’S WHAT THEY ARE!” Hawks flinched and was suddenly glad there was no one else in the vicinity, they’d definitely think a murder had just taken place.

“Sooo,” Hawks dragged out his words. “No movie deal?”

Rumi threw her hands up in the air, bringing them down to grip the bridge of her nose. “Oh you’ll have it, you just have to sign over your rights to that hero movie you liked so much.” Rumi grumbled under her breath before adding, “And Enji couldn’t even show up himself, like we aren’t worth his time.”

“What?!” Hawks looked at her like she’d grown a third head.

Rumi raised an eyebrow. “My Hero Academia is produced by Yagi Toshinori. Apparently Mr. Todoroki doesn’t like Toshinori. So it’s Toshinori, or Todoroki.”

Hawks let a curse slip out through closed lips. He ran his hands through his blond locks and began to pace. My Hero Academia was one of the biggest superhero movies of this year. It was anticipated for three and planned for ten. Hawks was supposed to play a minor character, but it would still be a huge pay bonus for him, which, at the amateur level he is at right now he could honestly use.

Hawks wasn’t poor necessarily, but he wasn’t rolling in it either, and he had a lot of debt to pay off from the agency where he’d studied acting. He was well-enough that he could pay the bills, but Hawks still craved something more. He always did. My Hero Academia was supposed to be something more.

“Shit-Rumi,” Hawks began. “How am I supposed to choose?”

Rumi shrugged her shoulders. “Listen, Kei-”

“Don’t call me that,” Hawks interrupted.

Rumi sighed and corrected herself. “Hawks, it’s your career. I’m going to advise you to stick with Yagi Toshinori, mostly because those -” She jabbed a thumb at the door where the business people had exited, her forehead pulsated a bit. “-cash-grabbing assholes aren’t going to give you what you deserve.” Hawks leveled a look at Rumi that she knew all too well. Rolling her eyes Rumi went on, “but when do you ever listen to me.”

“Its Enji Todoroki, ” Hawks explained with a so-so expression.

Rumi let out a long groan. “We’re going to miss your photoshoot,” she said and began to stalk away, expecting Hawks to follow. “Think about it,” Rumi said without looking back. They reached the end of the hallway and as Rumi hit the elevator button she spun around. “Then give me your answer.”

Hawks let them sit in silence as the elevator hummed its way up five stories. By the time it dinged he hadn’t broken eye contact. “Fine,” Hawks submitted. This time he’d like to think he would actually listen to Rumi, but there was something in the back of his mind that said this was important. 

This was everything he had worked for his whole life. Every dream he’d ever had lead here. So what if it wasn’t perfect, nothing ever was. Hawks yearned for that accomplishment, for that kind of fulfillment. He’d be damned if Enji Todoroki wasn’t where he could find it.

Chapter Text

Welcome to the Fire by Willyecho

So welcome to the fire

I’m the one who lit the night up

 

Fame. 

Money.

Celebrities.

Rooftop parties often had it all. For Touya, the only thing they had were a lot of anxious stares and senseless reputation building that Kurogiri, their manager, insisted they have. Touya really only went to follow along with what Kurogiri said. He had made a pact a long time ago that he would outperform anyone and make enough money to repay Kurogiri for all that he’s done for The League, and Touya personally. 

Unfortunately, making enough money consisted of putting himself out there. That was something Himiko and Jin found no problem in doing. Evidenced by the fact that as soon as Tenko opened the doors to the rooftop, they were both harboring wicked smiles. An instant blast of sound and flashing lights filled the narrow stairwell. Himiko bounced on her toes, flashing a sickly grin back at the others. Jin, meanwhile tried to push Himiko forward and get out, alternating between his fear of people and his love of parties. Himiko in her small stature was surprisingly hard to move and Jin, despite being twice her size, was practically piggybacking on her to get to where the people were.

Touya stuffed his hands in his pants. Tenko was nearly pushed aside as the other members of the band skipped to the dance floor. Touya gave Tenko a knowing look. Judging by the look on Tenko’s face he didn’t want to be here either. Touya looked behind him to see Shuichi begrudgingly bringing up the rear. Shuichi looked to the side when Touya met his gaze. His scaly-like skin shone like a pristine apple in the light from the party, but Touya couldn’t see his eyes well underneath that ninja style mask he rarely went anywhere without.

Touya stopped before he followed the first two. “Just a little branding talk here and there, some meeting people, then we’ll leave.”

Tenko looked cross at him for a bit before he lowered his head, his shaggy blue dyed hair covering his eyes. “Whatever. You do the talking, I’m tired of people already,” he said and began slumping away toward some corner somewhere that the jarring strobe lights didn’t touch. 

Touya pocketed away a mental note that Tenko needed reminding of how to behave, then again it seemed he almost always needed that. Shuichi didn’t say much, choosing to follow after Tenko with a side glance as he passed by Touya.

Touya watched them go before he turned his attention back to the party. The flashing lights and glow sticks made sharp outlines in the night sky. There was a DJ stage setup, in front of which, Himiko was trying to teach Jin how to dance. Right beside it many of the younger patrons of the night were jumping into a built in pool. Touya had to wonder where that kind of money came from, to have a ground pool twenty stories above the surface of the earth. 

On the outskirts sat the less social members of high society, Tenko being one of them, occupying a space by the drink table, and looking too gloomy for his own good. Shuichi wasn’t with him, but that didn’t surprise Touya. Shuichi out of all of them had a habit of disappearing, even more so than Touya did. 

Touya definitely wasn’t one to swim, and while music filled his soul he usually had to have some drinks in him first before he could enjoy it in a crowd like this. For now, he settled on joining Tenko, and getting a boost to his happiness tonight.

Kurogiri, in addition to building their reputation, told them to have fun and make friends tonight. Touya wasn’t much help in the “friend” area, but he’s sure Himiko and Jin have that handled. Currently they were convincing Chiyo Shuuzenji, an 80-something year old cult movie actress, to do the limbo right next to the bass speakers using Himiko’s planking body on top of Jin’s and another man’s muscular arms as the bar. To Touya’s surprise, the old lady was actually good at it.

“It all seems like pointless mind numbing to me,” Tenko remarked beside Touya as he grabs a cold beer.

“Which part, the drinking and drugs, or losing yourself to rooftop pool water and second rate pop funk?”

Tenko made a face as he brought his cup up to his lips. “All of it,” he muttered. He took a sip and managed to look like the sip was more foul than the drunken celebrities, young and old, in front of them. 

“Surprised you’re not in there, honestly,” Tenko commented and Touya shot him a confused look. Tenko didn’t return his gaze, but he shrugged and went on. “Manager wanted you to find “a man” didn’t he? No better picks than this cesspool of twenty-somethings drunk on their own fame.”

Touya snorted. He took a deep swig from his own drink, swallowing the bitter taste with a dour look. “Not my scene,” he replied.

Tenko scoffed. “Nothing is with you.”

“The stage,” Touya says just as Tenko started to get that bored look on his face. “The stage is my scene. It’s where I live.”

The night is dark and the strobe lights don’t make it easy to see, but Touya was pretty sure Tenko rolled his eyes. “Seriously though,” Tenko continued. “What are you going to do about it? All those commenters online say you’re a phony, hoping on the cool gay bandwagon because it’s June or whatever crap they spew.”

Touya sneered, but not at Tenko. He turned his gaze to the mass of people in front of them both. “They can suck my dick. I’m not planning on doing anything about it.”

“You’d risk Manager’s trust in you just to avoid something you don’t want to do?”

“Don’t phrase it like that, you make me sound like the bad guy,” Touya said. Before he knew it he was pouring himself another drink as Tenko went off.

“Maybe we are, Dabi. Maybe The League doesn’t fit in with all these do gooders.”

Touya turned his gaze to him, but Tenko was already walking away. Weirdo , Touya thought. Out of all his band members Tenko was the one who had the most issues. Sure they all had...strange things about them. Tenko, as far as Touya had seen, just seemed off. Though most of the time he blamed that on him joining the band on the recommendation of Kurogiri’s close friend. He wasn’t really a good fit for this kind of life, but someone above them all wanted to see Tenko blend into the musician life like a puzzle piece. 

Apparently, Tenko was the son of some washed up celebrity raised in poverty after his father’s burn out. Touya didn’t trust it, but Tenko was good at what he did, even if he lacked people skills, so Touya tolerated him for now.

He was already on his second drink and the buzz hadn’t even hit him yet, when a stranger came over. A stranger that made Touya double-take. He was about Touya’s height, but with a leaner build, one that suggested he keeps in shape. A smouldering grin was already plastered to his face by the time he approached Touya. He had swept back blond hair that somehow looked like he’d just gone windsurfing and came back, hair still untamed. It went well with his strong jawline and those pretty sparkling eyes- Touya had to stop himself. Before too long he’d start imagining the red glow of the lights behind him were an aura like wings on his back.

At first, Touya thought he was just giving a friendly smile, but then he stopped by the table, holding two drinks in his hands, and kept staring at Touya. For a moment Touya just stared back, blinking. 

Without really thinking he blurted out, “Who the hell are you?” his voice grumbled a bit and he silently cursed himself out.

To his surprise, the man just laughed. He threw his head back and Touya noticed that his nose is long in an elegant way like an exotic bird. “Call me Hawks,” he said, tossing a hand out in greeting.

Touya raised an eyebrow. “I’m Dabi then,” he replied. 

Hawks shrugged the name off with a smile. “Giving a fake name for a fake name, that’s fair.”

Touya snorted. “Do you always introduce yourself like that?”

“Yes, it’s my name of course.”

Touya held back a smile as he replied, “Likewise.” He looked away and almost thought the birdboy would walk away. Instead, Hawks was still standing there, staring. “Can I help you?”

Hawks somehow managed to look nonchalant as he held out the second drink in his hand. It was unopened, one he’d probably picked up from the table behind them. “Just wanted to get you a drink.”

Touya found it hard to hold back his snort. “Pretty sure the gesture loses it’s point if you’re not paying for the drink,” he came back with.

Hawks just smiled prettily. “You can still share it with me, right?”

Touya had to mentally stop himself. Here was a man his age, maybe a year or two younger, offering him a drink at a crowded party full of well known celebrities. Touya looked around. This rooftop was full of young famous people probably just looking for a quick hookup. Yet, this model struts up to the man with scars all over his face and neck, piercings across his cheeks and under his eyes, and decides to get that guy a drink. He almost found it laughable. Touya had half a mind to ask Hawks who dared him to get up close and personal with the scariest punk rocker at he party.

“Do I know you from somewhere?” Touya asked as he hesitantly accepted the drink. It was more a way to break the ice than anything.

Hawks smiled again and there was something about it that seemed to light up his entire face. “Probably. I do a lot of modeling when I’m not on the screen.”

Touya nodded. Actor...of course...

Touya took a sip of his drink as he surveyed Hawks. “Interesting. I’m a musician, if you cared to know,” he said.

Hawks beamed at him and something about the way he leaned into Touya’s space made him think this wasn’t Hawks’ first drink tonight. “I care deeply. You can’t get to know someone without knowing what they do for a living.” Hawks took a moment to lift up his drink and act like he was making a toast, to what Touya didn’t know, but he followed suit anyway. 

“What do you want out of this exchange, birdie?” Touya mustered up his nerve and asked. Hawks didn’t come talk to him for no reason. He didn’t recognize Touya or even his stage name so he’s not a fan, and Touya doesn’t do hookups.

Hawks gave a shrug. For the first time he cast his gaze back out at the dance floor. He eyes each lemming in the crowd with a tactful gaze that seemed more sober than he had been before. “Maybe I’m just trusting my gut. It’s not everyday I meet someone as unforgettable as you.”

Unforgettable… Touya had to look away. Hawks was definitely searching for compliments at this point. It’s fine by him. He didn’t get these piercings or tattoos over his scars that make him look dead and decaying so that people would approach him. In fact, it was most of the opposite. Touya found he often liked the treatment he got from people when they saw him. Hawks, for some reason, wasn’t fazed by that.

“You seem like a bigshot?” Touya asked, trying to divert the subject.

Hawks looked back at him as he leaned his elbows on the table and laughed. “I get that a lot. You gotta look the part to play the part amirite?”

Touya shrugged then suddenly Hawks leaned back into his space with that lopsided smirk. He was close enough now that Touya could see the slight stubble he had under his chin and the way his eyes sparkled like lanterns underneath the strobe lights. “So tell me what kinda music you do?”

Touya wanted terribly to push Hawks out of his space. He wanted to tell Hawks to fuck off and find someone else to harrass, but the smell of his beer ladden breath and that unwavering smirk made him think twice. Then again, maybe it was the three drinks Touya had in him thus far. Still, he didn’t pull apart or look away from Hawks. The birdie was almost captivating in that way.

“Nothin’ you’d enjoy,” Touya replied on instinct. His words came out whispered, hanging like the bated breath between them. A pretty boy like him would be better suited for a pop idol or a rock band, not Touya’s kind.

“Try me,” Hawks cooed and again his eyes went fluttering like they were meant to make Touya’s head spin. Whatever it was, it was working.

“Punk rock mostly. We dabble in metal though.”

Surprising him once more this night, Hawks lit up. “ We, ” he asked. Hawks was still leaning on the table, his elbows supporting him, but now his shoulder was brushed up against Touya’s and their hot breaths mingled with each other.

Touya cleared his throat, making a show of bringing a fist to his mouth as he coughed away from Hawks. When he looked back, Hawks’ expression hasn’t changed. “My- uh, my band,” he rasped out.

A light went on in Hawks’ eyes, his mouth opened with a wide grin, but they were interrupted before he could say anything. “Dabiii-” Touya rolls his eyes at the sound of his name. If he knew that voice he knew that Jin, their drummer, had that dumb sobbing expression on his face as he careened toward Touya for whatever reason Touya couldn’t fathom this time.

Before they could react, Jin was throwing himself over Touya. Hawks recoiled, but he didn’t look offended. If anything, the birdie looked amused. Touya shoved Jin off as he went on rambling.

“I can’t find Himiko, Dabi we lost her. It’s all my fault! The bitch shouldn’t have walked away when my favorite song started!” Jin went back and forth with himself, hands nervously tugging at the little hair he had. For a grown man Touya sometimes wondered about Jin’s sanity. Then again that had probably been lost a long time ago.

Touya had to keep holding Jin at an arm’s length. He looked absolutely distraught in more ways than one. “What the hell do you mean you lost her? She’s a grown woman she’s probably hitting on some poor celebrity.”

Jin sniffled and wiped at his eyes with the whole of his sleeve. “I just...She’s so young, what if she gets hurt?” Jin began muttering to himself, mostly contradictions of his own words. It was a nervous tick he’d had since Touya met him. From what Jin revealed to the band about his background, childhood trauma had beat it into him. Touya almost felt bad whenever it surfaced. Almost.

“Then go find her, dipshit. I’m not her babysitter.”

Jin nodded, his gaze finally traveling to Hawks who stood right next to Touya. His eyes opened wide as Hawks gave him a friendly smile and wave. Jin looked back to Touya, then again at Hawks. He cleared his throat and straightened up. “I can tell I’ve interrupted something,” he said. “I’ll go find Himiko.”

Jin spun on a heel. Before he got out of earshot Touya called after him, “Text me when you do.” Jin gave no indication he had heard Touya so he’d just have to settle for now and check back in on them later.

Hawks began chuckling beside him and Touya turned. “Band members?” Touya nodded. “Seem pretty lively for punk rockers.” Touya resisted the urge to roll his eyes again and just gave Hawks an affirmative grunt.

There was a moment of silence in which Touya itched to get out of talking before Hawks pressed on more personal topics. Instead, the bird asked, “I’ll have to go to one of your shows some time. Assuming you tour?”

Touya raised an eyebrow. “We do,” his words trailed off. There was something Touya was unsure about in Hawks, but he couldn’t put his finger on it. He wanted to ask what it meant to Hawks and why he seemed so eager to go watch a punk rock band he knew nothing about. A cloud of vague anxiety held him back, though, and his words hung in the air again. He was starting to hate the fact that Hawks could take his words away from him.

Hawks smiled at him and there was something so intoxicating about it Touya was sure he wouldn’t need anything else to drink tonight. That look was enough for him to blackout. Touya opened his mouth slightly. He was starting to feel numb and he was pretty sure that was the alcohol taking affect. If Hawks wasn’t careful he could do dangerous things to Touya with that look in his eye.

Suddenly, Tenko’s words rambled around in Touya’s brain. No better picks than this cesspool of twenty-somethings drunk on their own fame. ..Touya weighed the chances that what he said could have applied directly to Hawks. The bird certainly seemed drunk on fame to Touya, dressing like he was ready for a fashion shoot with the open fur jacket and tight fitting black tank. Touya cursed his luck. If Hawks kept this up he might find himself taking Kurogiri’s advice to find a man and “officially” prove to the public he was gay.

Touya didn’t have a chance to think anymore on it before Hawks shifted and phished his phone out of his pocket. He looked at the screen for a second before he rolled his eyes. He had the phone lifted up to his ear already, accepting the call as he turned to Touya and said. “Sorry, hotstuff, we’ll have to continue this another time. It was nice meeting you, I’ll keep in touch about those concert tickets. No I don’t mean you, calm down.”

Touya opened his mouth, but Hawks was already walking away, talking loudly into his phone. Touya narrowed his eyes. He felt an itch deep in his gut and it made his fingers twitch. Whatever happened for the rest of the night, Touya would consider this the strangest meeting of all. He didn’t miss the way Hawks had casually dropped a nickname like that. Damn flirtatious drunks ...he thought. 

Touya took a deep breath and tuned back into the music and the people partying. He should probably go find the rest of his band to make sure they weren’t setting anything on fire. Usually that was Touya’s job, but lately Jin seemed to be taking on his habits. Touya couldn’t decide if that would lead to bonding moments or bad PR for the band. He also found he didn’t care as much.

Just as Touya turned, his fears were realized. The music paused and Touya just noticed Himiko in the DJ’s stand, pushing the other two guys out. She flashed a pretty smile towards the crowd, her eyes crinkling wickedly. Himiko didn’t say anything, only held a victory sign in the air.

The crowd was more than a bit stunned to see her, but none of them were prepared for when she blasted one of their newest songs. A plucky piece that started out with a loud bassy rift, one melody Himiko had been particularly proud of herself for. Touya couldn’t help a smile. For now at least, he could start enjoying this crowded rooftop.