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The neighbor

Chapter Text

It was raining, which wasn’t too surprising this time of the year. The wind was cold too, blowing through the streets, making anyone wandering across them shiver with cold, tugging their clothes firmer around themselves. He walks slowly, shielded from the downpour by a simple, black umbrella. The long leather coat helped to ward off the chilly winds, not that he cared if he was hot or cold.

 

Soon, the complex comes into sight.

Slipping through the gate silently like a ghost, his gaze drifts across the yard, spotting something on the side alley beside the building. Something he'd half-expected to find, and the world did not disappoint him; some souls were all too predictable with their actions. 

He paces there, noting the rain was getting heavier. It could even become a full-blown storm if the darker clouds ahead were anything to go by. Not a good weather to be sitting on an alley, seemingly drunken.

 

That was exactly what one of his neighbors was doing.

It wasn’t the first time either.

He’d seen the young man wander home late, often drunk. Sometimes with a woman, or a man.

Mostly, he was alone.

 

Now he just sat there, staring into thin air with an empty gaze.

The pale figure shifts and paces to his field of vision, making the blue eyes drift up towards him. They didn’t focus properly, perhaps he was under the influence of worse substances than alcohol.

The tattoos under his eyes worsened the worn out look, and some might've questioned the man’s strange fashion choices. He understood their meaning better, though he'd rarely seen so many. One did not often need this much protection from spirits. They clearly did not work like they should, either. 

 

The pale young man did not in particular care for this neighbor of his, but the sight was too pitiful to ignore.

”Can you get up?”

His low, raspy voice barely broke through the thrumming of the rain, hitting the ground, the roof, the walls. He seems to have been heard anyway, as the young man shifts, scrambling to get up slowly. He almost topples over however, forcing the pale figure to bring out an arm, keeping him upright with a sigh.

 

”You’re pathetic.”

 

His neighbor doesn’t respond, and he doubted he could even hear those words. This wasn’t the first time they’d done this song and dance either. He’d helped him back home before, few weeks ago, two weeks ago, a week ago. He’d been equally silent each time it happened.

 

 

The soaked man allows him to bring him inside, escorting him to his door.

There was no name-plate, just a number.

He’d never asked his name. Neither had he asked for his.

 

That was fine, Tomura had no interest in getting too personal with anyone. Even if he knew he was being watched by the person. Digging out the man’s keys from his pocket, Tomura opens the door, bringing him inside to the plain, near empty apartment. It looked more like a shelter than home.

It probably was.

 

He lies the man down to the couch, propping his head up with the pillows. Blue eyes kept following his every move, but he pays it no mind. Tomura slips to the kitchen, getting water and painkillers ready for the morning. The fool would be hangover and need those.

 

Placing them to the old, stained coffee table, he finally let’s his red eyes focus on the pair watching him.

 

”I’ll be going now. Preferably you’ll be still alive in the morning.”

 

With that, he straightens himself, slipping out of the room, closing the door behind him.

The man listens to his footsteps grow distant, and eventually, door opens further back the corridor.

As it closes again, he closes his eyes too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He wasn’t sure where it started.

Perhaps in the midst of the silent chaos in his head, one slight anomaly, slight difference in the dullness surrounding him was enough to give him a bit of a fixation.

He had not paid his neighbor much attention at first, just another face in the sea of faces.

A flower shop worker, he did not speak much outside his job, mostly staying in his apartment. You could almost never hear anything from there, but if the window was cracked open, you could smell the scent of a lot of flowers.

 

He kept plenty even inside his own home.

It wasn’t that strange, some people did that.

He just didn’t look like the kind of person who would.

 

Maybe that was it.

His mind had hard time connecting these things together.

 

Flowers represented life, and warmth.

When Dabi had first locked eyes with him properly, he’d seen death.

He wasn’t even sure why he’d thought that; perhaps it had been the alcohol in his system, perhaps he just had one of those faces that made you think he was willing to murder you for bothering you with your gaze alone.

 

Yet....it wasn’t that kind of death.

It wasn’t a sense of danger, your instincts alarming you of a potential hazard.

The sensation he got when those red eyes looked at him was more akin to certain kind of emptiness.

A silent finality no one would escape.

 

It was such a strange feeling to have about a person’s eyes, so perhaps that’s why he kept looking.

 

Sometimes he wondered, if it was his ’gift’ letting him see things others didn’t. He saw it more as a curse though. Being able to tell when something wasn’t fully human was sometimes tiring.

Especially because the ability left his mind vulnerable, and he was already fucked in the head.

Last thing he needed was some being trying to possess him or something.

 

The first time the mysterious florist had helped him into his house had been a surprise, but he’d been too out of it to question it or anything. He never really said much, never told him off like you’d expect. He just dropped him there and left, sometimes leaving him with treatment for morning hangovers.

 

Dabi didn’t even know his name.

Just like his, the door next to him had no name-plate on it.

 

Sometimes, if he could, he’d sit by the park bench near the flower shop and just observe. He didn’t know why exactly he did so, it was probably coming off creepy. The same time though, the florist seemed to be the kind of person who’d tell him off if it bothered him, and so far he hadn’t.

Lot of people visited the shop, mostly women and children, or young teens.

He’d picked up on some regulars by now.

 

There was this kid, a teenager with green hair.

He was a peculiar one, given he tended to leave the shop with flowers in his hair. Either a few, or a full crown. Dabi had once caught a glimpse of the pale florist making him one.

Maybe they were related, or at least friends of sorts?

 

Another common sight was an old, kind of skeletal looking blond man. The kid from before seemed to know him as they often chatted happily if they happened to be around the same time. The old man usually bought the same kind of flowers. Sometimes, the red eyes would look out of the window and see him there. His expression wouldn’t change, and he’d look back long enough for Dabi to avert his gaze.

Once he looked back, the florist would be gone.

 

He clearly knew he was watching, but didn’t react to it.

Or maybe those long stares were him trying to tell Dabi to knock it off.

It didn’t feel like it though, he’d caught him smiling at times.

An amused little turn of lips, barely noticeable, but enough to make him shift and leave.

 

 

 

 

The weather wasn’t as bad as last time, it wasn’t pouring with rain.

Still, his head was too dizzy to make it to the door; alcohol was racing in his veins, making his mind fuzzy and lightheaded. The few friends he’d made here would likely worry in the morning, provided he’d make it that far.

Dabi closes his eyes as he leans against the wall, wondering if he was ever gonna get up again.

 

The door opens, and there were footsteps nearby.

Cracking his eye open, he was not surprised to see his pale neighbor standing there. The spot he’d sat down on was near his window, so he’d likely seen him slump down.

Red eyes examine him closely, and Dabi notes there was a peculiar glow to them he’d not noticed before. Perhaps his mind was doing tricks on him, that wouldn’t have been the first time.

 

His neighbor eventually sighs and crouches down, helping him up.

Dabi doesn’t resist, allowing him to drag his useless ass indoors.

Might as well, if he was gonna drop dead due to alcohol poisoning, better do it in your own house than outside where you’ll spook the kids.

The complex had families living in it after all.

 

He’s placed on the couch as usual, but this time his neighbor does something peculiar.

Instead of getting up and leaving, the pale figure leans closer, hand resting against his chest as half-lidded red eyes examine him closely.

 

Was this payback for all the staring?

 

Something uneasy tugged in his gut, something he vaguely recognized his spiritual sixth sense picking up for some reason. Maybe there was one of those bothersome nightmare spirits nearby. It wouldn’t be surprising, he tended to attract those a lot; they couldn't quite do as severe damage to him as some others due to his protective tattoos, but they were still annoying.

 

 

”....No, not yet.”

He mutters out with his low voice suddenly, making Dabi feel a little confused. It was hard to focus on that confusion though, given his head was still spinning.

”.....I probably shouldn’t either way. It’s bad for me.”

The dry lips turn into a slight amused smile, and his neighbor pats his chest, before getting up.

”Still though; try to do something about that will you? It’s getting tiring living next to you, makes me hungry.”

 

What...the…fuck?

He couldn’t really ask anything, as the pale figure disappears through the door, leaving him with those bizarre, cryptic words.

 

 

 

 

 

That night, he dreamed of being surrounded by butterflies, moths to be exact.

 

 

 

 

 

Jin wasn’t surprised to see him hangover that morning; Dabi often was after weekends. Sometimes during the week.

 

“Dude, you gotta stop doing this, the boss will fire you otherwise.”

“Yeah yeah, don’t worry about it.”

Dabi mutters out rubbing his eyes, as the light hurt his eyes. Working on a grocery store wasn’t exactly interesting, but it paid the bills. At least his co-worker was a cool dude, if a bit of a mother-hen sometimes. Jin sighs and puts the stuff he’d been carrying away into the nearby shelf, turning to look at him with crossed arms.

Dabi could feel the parenty tone coming up, which was funny given Jin was maybe like….five years older than him or so, and could barely take care of himself too if his messy place was anything to go by.

 

“If you absolutely need to drink every weekend, you should at least then come and hang out with me. You’ll end up passing out in the middle of the street and get mugged or something."

“Now wouldn’t that be a riot. The fuck they’re gonna steal from poor ol’ me? My socks?”

 

Dabi mumbles out, slipping on his work-clothes.

Jin shakes his head, scratching it for a bit before heading back to work. He knew It wasn’t the easiest to reason with Dabi when he was hangover; the young man tended to stonewall everyone when he was like this.

He did stonewall people a lot in general, being a loner.

 

 

Later that day, as the two head to the back for a smoke-break, Jin tries his luck again, hoping Dabi was in a bit more reasonable state.

“For real; you can come and hang out anytime. You don’t have to hole up alone in your place.”

The blond places a hand on his shoulder, squeezing it encouragingly.

“I know you got your issues man; you don’t have to face them alone.

Dabi hums, blowing a cloud of smoke out from his lungs, watching it disappear into the air.

“We both know I got issues you normies can’t help me with.”

Jin sighs and shakes his head, shoving him lightly with a shabby but well-meaning grin.

“Not everything’s about your ghost-vision, buddy. There are things others can help with, like loneliness.”

 

“You know all about that, don’t you?”

 

The blond goes quiet, caught off-guard by that comment. he then averts his gaze, taking a drag from his cigarette. After the silence had mounted long enough, Dabi began to feel bad about that comment, so he apologizes, rubbing his eyes with a sigh.

 

“It’s alright. I’m just trying to say, I’m here for you if you need to talk. I can’t advice with spirit-stuff as I can’t sense shit, but anything else, I’m free game.”

“Except with scoring dates.”

Jin chuckles at that, blowing out another cloud of smoke.

“I doubt you need help with that one.”

 

After a full minute of the pair just standing there, Dabi breaks the silence again.

 

“My neighbor brought me home again.”

“That weird florist you mentioned a few times?”

“Yeah, t’s weird, t’s like he’s got some sixth sense too; he knows when I’m sitting outside too wasted to get in.”

“Well, that’s nice of him, making sure you make it home.”

 

Blue eyes turn to look at Jin, a bit clearer from this morning, indicating his hangover was easing bit by bit.

 

“He said something hella weird to me, or maybe I was just too drunk n’ imagined it.”

Jin blinks, turning to look at him curiously now. Dabi inhales rest of his cigarette, before throwing it to the ground, turning it off with his foot.

“never-mind. I definitely imagined it. T’s too weird even for someone like him.”

Jin watches him head back inside, still curious. He knew not to push however, Dabi didn’t like it when you did, and that would result in awkward silence for the next week or so.

 

 

 

He did not let people in easily.

 

 

 

 

Later that day, as he was stacking up some magazines, a presence appears nearby, and Dabi glances down, finding a short old lady looking up at him.

The way she was staring was a bit unnerving, and he turns his gaze away, trying to ignore her presence.

 

“I see death has marked you as his, boy. I hope for your own sake you can better your situation.”

Dabi glances at her, snorting lightly; what the hell?

“S’my existential crisis and depression that obviously visible?”

It was said with sarcasm, but as usual, the words had a seed of truth in them. The old lady just shakes her head with a light chuckle, though it had a sad quality to it.

 

“Spirits are fickle creatures. At least you did not attract something worse.”

Dabi frowns at that, turning to look at the tiny grandma confused; could she sense spirits too? Wouldn’t be a surprise, it seemed to be more common with older generations or those close to death. Most of them wouldn't go and comment about it so casually though. Then again, he was covered in tattoos meant to ward off spirits, most old folk would recognize them. 

 

“Still though; guard your soul, boy. Life is worth living.”

“Rude.”

 

Both turn to look towards the voice, and Dabi is admittedly taken aback, finding his pale neighbor standing there, frowning down at the old lady with weirdly peeved expression. He was wearing the same thick leather-coat he often wore, which made sense around this time given the weather was rather chilly outside. The lady turns to look at him with a smile, and her response indicated she knew the florist.

 

“Tomura-kun, it is rare to see you outside your chambers or the shop.”

The young man snorts and picks up a magazine, still looking peeved.

“Kurogiri forgot his crosswords this morning. All the old ones are filled.”

“That is kind of you.”

 

The pale figure just rolls his eyes, then looks up at Dabi, who again had that strange sense of…something unnerving hit him, when their eyes met.

 

“For the record, I tend to avoid junk-food. We both know what that does to me.”

The comment was weird.

Sure, junk food was generally bad for you, but why was he bringing it up now while glaring at him?

The old lady laughs at the comment, indicating she understood what it meant, and was therefore meant for her.

Why was the florist staring at him then?

 

“I certainly hope so. You get so awfully moody when you consume it.”

Tomura – that was his name, right? – snorts, walking past them.

“Understatement of the century.”

 

He comments over his shoulder, plopping the magazines to the counter, snapping Jin out of his slight sleepy daze. It was slow right now, so it wasn’t a surprise the blond nearly ended up falling asleep again. He had sleeping issues.

“The fuck was all that?”

Dabi couldn’t stop but ask, but the lady just shakes her head, patting his leg – that was the only thing she could reach given how short she was – telling him to keep his head up.

“Butterflies only feast at the end of the day.”

 

Dabi was pretty sure that wasn’t true.

He was also sure what she said was a metaphor.

A metaphor he had no clue what the fuck it meant, and he didn’t wanna ask.

 

Going back to his job, Dabi slips into the snack isle now, to put the few more things he’d carried in their rightful place. A quiet laugh catches his ear, and blue eyes turn, finding the florist standing there again, likely heading out because the door was just across from there; you had to go past the snack isle if you wanted the shortest route outside after all.

 

“What’s so funny?”

“You’re right at home here.”

Dabi blinks, then turns his gaze away, slipping some of the chocolate bars in place.

“Aww, you think I’m a snack? That’s a new pick-up line if I’ve ever heard any.”

Tomura snorts at that, pacing to head out of the door. He does stop behind him briefly however, and somehow Dabi knew he was smirking just from his voice.

 

“More literally than you might think.”

 

 

Blue eyes watch him disappear out of the door, honestly a little spooked now. If that was flirting, it sure as hell was a weird way of doing it. Dabi shakes his head, figuring he needed to focus back on his job for now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dropping the magazines onto the table in front of Kurogiri, Tomura shrugs off his coat, glancing around the greenhouse portion of the shop. He preferred to be there over the front, not being much of a people person, but there were some customers he did not mind. Including the one currently looking through the plants in the greenhouse.

 

The green haired teen looks up and waves at him enthusiastically, making Tomura pace there. He was with someone, probably a classmate of his or so. A blond who’d dyed a black lighting shaped streak into his hair. He looked rather intimidated as he approached, which wasn’t surprising; Tomura knew he had a very intimidating aura to himself. Mostly he enjoyed it, but sometimes it could be annoying.

 

“Morning Tomura-san!”

“You’re here surprisingly early.”

“Our lessons today got cancelled because Mic-Sensei who was supposed to oversee a field-trip managed to get himself stuck in a pasta machine and refused to come to school.”

“He ain’t your teacher though, is he?”

“No, but Aizawa-Sensei was so amused by the situation that he decided to give us a free day. He did give us extra homework though.”

The boy sighs, his companion looking equally defeated over the said homework, making Tomura chuckle for a bit. 

“Sounds like the Aizawa Shouta I know. So what brought you here?”

“Yes, well…”

 

The boy glances at his companion, who was trying to sort of hide his face into the collar of his over sized sweater.

 

“Kaminari’s …….mum has a birthday soon, and he wanted to get her some flowers, but he knows nothing about them and needs help choosing.”

Tomura lifts eyebrow amused, noting how much the kid was fuming now.

“Mum you say?”

Both boys nod, not at all convincingly.

Midoriya wasn’t the type to make such obvious lies, so likely his classmate was the one who didn’t want to admit what the flowers were actually for. He let it slide for now, glancing around.

 

“She got a favorite color?”

“…Purple.”

The boy mutters out from under his hiding, and Tomura tries to keep his amusement to a minimum.

Crushes seemed to be such a big deal to teens, they could get really awkward and embarrassed over it.

 

Tomura looks through the purple flower selection, sensing the two fidgets behind him.

He picks out a few, making a bouquet out of them, then also adds few yellow ones into it, making the blond look at him curiously.

“Yellow and Purple are complementary colors.”

Tomura explains simply, picking up one of the daisies nearby and slipping it into Izuku’s hair. The boy blushes for a bit but then laughs, picking it up from his hair.

 

“Mum was wondering why we haven’t had any new daisies back home. You always give me one or two."

Kaminari glances between them confused, but Tomura says nothing, offering the bouquet to the boy.

 

“I’m pretty sure your “mum” will appreciate the gesture even if “she” doesn’t care for flowers.”

“H-huh?”

“I think I know your mum, and I’m pretty sure “she” came in the other day asking about flower meanings, because “she” wanted to give someone a bouquet too.”

Tomura flashes the now blushing boy a slight grin, ruffling his hair.

 

“Good luck with your date, kid.”

 

 

Kaminari had gone completely red, handing Izuku the bouquet while he hides completely into his sweater, letting out a high-pitched whine.

 

 

 

 

 

After the two leave, Tomura focuses on some of the hanging flowers near the window; Kurogiri was whistling a tune behind him, likely another one of those older songs he didn’t know.

“You seem pale today.”

He suddenly comments, and Tomura hums, glancing outside. His neighbor wasn’t there, in the bench right now. It wasn’t surprising, he was at work around this time, unless he skipped it. Given he’d seen him in the store today, he wasn’t skipping despite his hangover.

 

“Not-enough-sun pale or not-enough-food pale?”

Kurogiri was now standing beside him, frowning slightly as he brushes some of his hair aside.

“Your hair is changing color again.”

 

“Well, that is concerning.”

 

Tomura mutters out, adjusting the flowers.

He understood why Kurogiri was worried about that.

His skin going paler wasn’t that much of an issue.

When his hair began to bleach, that usually meant he was having cravings again, that could go out of control.

His red gaze drifts back towards the empty bench.

 

He knew full well who the source of the craving was.

 

“He really needs to get his shit together.”

Tomura muses out, satisfied with the flowers, walking back towards the greenhouse portion.

Kurogiri watches him go, releasing a slow sigh. It had been a while since young Tomura had had this problem.

Sure, he’d learned to control it, but still….

 

Last time he’d devoured a soul, a city had been destroyed.