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loving you is a losing game

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For Dabi, it begins with a date.

February thirteenth to be exact - his mother’s birthday. Which Rei is probably spending with her three remaining kids, locked up in her sterile tower of white walls and too-bright lights. She’s probably even glad for the safety inherent in the layers of medication, doctors, and restraining orders that make up her personal castle. That keep her dragon at bay.

Dabi doesn’t begrudge her the safety, even if he doesn’t have a castle of his own. After all, he’s taken the old adage of ‘fighting fire with fire’ to heart, and has trained up his own dragon instead.

But dragons can’t fight memories. His can only curl up and seethe inside his chest while he sits alone in the kitchen of his ratty apartment, watching the sunset through cheap, stained blinds. Dabi raises a bitter glass to the passing of February thirteenth - wishing his mother well and wishing his brain would shut the fuck up. 

No more. Fucking stop.

Still, the memories flow like water, snuffing out all the fire he and his dragon can bring to bear.

....his mother, still kneeling on the floor where she’d fallen, one fragile hand cupping the rapidly swelling bruise blooming across her cheek. Touya stood in the doorway to the living room, uncertain and afraid of making it worse. After all, his red hair was hardly a kind reminder, if his mother’s flinches were anything to go by…

Dabi shakes his head, willing the alcohol to do its damn job in washing away the ache in his chest. But if anything, it’s making the memories harder to stop - letting them erupt behind his eyelids with an almost hateful clarity.

… they had been doing so well, up until that point. Natsuo was two, and already almost twice the size Touya had been at that age. If he turned out to have a fire quirk, or even a strong ice quirk, their father would be satisfied. It was all Enji had been talking about for the past few weeks, leading up to Natsuo’s third birthday. 

Touya couldn’t help but hope that Natsuo’s quirk presented itself early. Father was starting to get more frustrated the longer it took Touya to recover from each training session. Had started being meaner about it and pushing Touya to the point that it hurt and....

Leaning back in his chair, Dabi shoves the sake bottle away violently, disgusted by the thoughts he’d had then. How fucking weak he’d been, to think that Enji would ever change, or that any of his children would ever be enough to satisfy the cavernous greed that made up his soul.

...privately, Touya hoped that father would stop training him if Natsuo showed his quirk early. Besides, his baby brother was already stronger, fitter, and more outgoing than Touya had ever been at that age. He’d be alright. And Touya… Touya and his mother could rest. Father would leave them alone, like he’d always left Fuyumi alone.

They had been doing well.

Father hadn’t hit Touya in over a week.

Touya hadn’t heard his mother cry in almost two.

They had been doing so well....

Shaking fingers press against Dabi’s aching eyelids, trying to blur out the images playing like some kind of fucked up recording against the theater of his brain. Fuck, he hadn’t thought about that day in years, but it’d been his mother’s birthday then too. 

She and Touya had been in the kitchen that morning, sunlight streaming in through the windows as they chatted and laughed and cleaned up all the baking pans from their earlier cake-making escapades. He had even foolishly - naively - mentioned that maybe father might bring her flowers for her special day.

Rei had smiled almost shyly, rays of golden light illuminating her snow white hair, sparkling across her quartz grey eyes. Touya had thought his mother never looked more beautiful, even with flour smudged across her nose and her apron covered in suds.

Then there had been a crash, and the unmistakable cry of a toddler, and Rei had rushed out of the kitchen toward Natsuo’s playroom.

Touya had hurried to follow, hopping down from the stool he’d been standing on. But… but…

… she never made it to Natsuo’s room. Father had gotten there first, apparently having just returned from his patrol. Touya had entered the living room to see Enji towering over his wife, with a red-faced Natsuo in one arm and the other hand raised high over his head.

The blow sent her to her knees, the sound of it reverberating through the suddenly breathless room. Then father had turned on his heel and exited the house, never looking back at his wife, and leaving Touya to pick up the pieces.

Dabi rises from his rickety kitchen chair, fury boiling in his chest at the reminder of his father’s brutality and the callous way he’d broken their family. There had been shouting about Rei’s carelessness and about Natsuo’s safety being key to Enji’s triumph. But none of that should have mattered. Enji had taken a beautiful morning on a special day and used a small accident to butcher it.

Some hero , Dabi thinks viciously, striding out of his apartment and slamming the door behind him. Too caught up in his own plans and schemes to ever give a flying fuck about the people around him.

Dabi stews in his anger, cold winter air whipping at nearly-numb cheeks as he flees his thoughts of white hair, bruises and tears. 

Even after all these years, Enji can still send you running, he thinks viciously to himself, heat simmering just under his skull as rage pounds against his senses.

His feet take him on a well-trodden path, and Dabi almost snorts at the fucking irony. In his determination to drown out his memories, his steps have him heading towards Hawks’ apartment without even thinking about it. Another hero too hung up on his fucking schemes to actually care, no matter how good his acting skills might be. Fuck, it’s no wonder the asshole is such a fan of Endeavor. They are two sides of the same over-ambitious coin.

Except Hawks’ ambition drives him to go higher - to reach for the things he ought not touch. Unlike Enji, who can only tear everyone down to his level, Hawks knows the value of having people to step on in his climb. The golden hero can play nice with others, even as he prepares a knife for their backs.

Well, he can keep on sharpening, the villain thinks. Until he makes his move, he’s still part of the League, and he’s still gotta keep up his little act.

Dabi forces down the fire escape ladder while also forcing down the memories of Hawks that he suspects are genuine. A startled laugh at one of Dabi’s clever remarks; the teasing light in his eyes when he pestered Dabi with his feathers; the way he brought food for the villain when he realized Dabi hadn’t eaten in a while.

Boots hit metal rungs with clattering force, and Dabi shoves his hands into his pockets, burying the uncertain voice that whispers Hawks might not be all fake smiles and pretty lies. That there might be some truth to him deep down. Instead he thinks about the one way Hawks could never manage to lie. The chink in his armor that gives everything else away.

He never complains. 

Hawks the hero shows up on talk shows complaining about the windy weather throwing him off course in all the window-crash compilations of him. He shows up to League meetings and complains jokingly about their general living situation and questionable hygiene. He shows up to fan meets and complains that even with his feathers he doesn’t have enough time to sign every piece of paper, fabric and skin that is shoved his way.

But when he and Dabi are in bed together, moving in time, Hawks never voices a single protest.

If Dabi were a less critical man, he might have taken it as a compliment. So good that even the legendary bellyacher could find no fault in him. But he knows better. He knows he can be too rough, too inconsiderate. Knows that Hawks probably doesn’t like having his wings pulled or his hair twisted or his ass scalded. But the hero took it anyway. He took everything Dabi could think to throw at him, and he didn’t say a fucking word. That’s how Dabi figured him out. 

Because the only other thing Hawks never, ever, complains about, is his job.

The television is on in Hawks’ apartment, but from what Dabi can see, there’s no one in the living room. With the Winged Hero’s predilection toward leaving his window unlocked, Dabi simply pops the latch and lets himself inside, boots sinking into the plush red rug under the sill.

He leaves his shoes on, in a bad enough mood from his earlier thoughts not to give a damn about the mud he’s tracking across Hawks’ floor. After all, why should a liar deserve his consideration?

Dabi doesn’t bother being quiet either. If the hero is sleeping, he can just wake the fuck up. His job is to keep Dabi happy isn’t it? To fuck his way into the League so that he can use them and leave Dabi to pick up the goddamn pieces, right?

He’s just the same as him , Dabi thinks, stalking down the dim hallway to Hawks’ room, heart pounding harshly against his ribs. Still running from the memories biting at his heels.

… “Mom?” Touya had asked, taking a tentative step toward his kneeling mother. Her snowy hair hung around her face like a veil, hiding her expression. But Touya could see the minute tremors shaking her shoulders.

Treading lightly, afraid of making any sudden moves, Touya knelt in front of his mother - his hand reaching out to pull back the curtain of hair.

She flinched, and Touya froze.

But then she looked up, the ugly bruise forming around her eye a gut wrenching reminder that they weren’t doing well, and they never had been. That things hadn’t changed, and they never would.

Touya’s stomach dropped with the realization, and his fingers dropped too. But his mother caught his hand and smiled tremulously at him, her other hand shaking as she reached up to stroke his cheek.

“I’m fine, Touya,” she said. 

“I’m fine,” she lied.

Dabi finds Hawks in his bedroom, head bowed into his hands with his elbows on his knees and his wings laid out in a dejected sort of droop behind him. There’s a weight to his shoulders that Dabi can feel from across the room, and a distinct edge of grief to it that he only recognizes from years of experience.

It stops him in his tracks, and drags out a question he doesn’t mean to ask.

“The fuck’s wrong with you?”

Hawks jolts and his wings flare into blades in less time than it takes to blink. But just as quickly he relaxes, apparently having recognized Dabi’s voice.

The villain notices that Hawks doesn’t raise his head, though he does lower his hands. There’s a beat too long between the startled reaction and the cheery greeting, which is very telling. Even in profile, Dabi can see the gears of Hawks’ mask clicking back into place with sluggish, rusted motions. A stop motion film of a man rebuilding his walls.

Then Hawks looks over at him and smiles that perfect smile, all facets of his mask firmly in place and says, “I’m fine, Dabi. What’s up?”

“I’m fine, Touya.”

Dabi stands rooted to his place by the door, staring at the hero smiling up at him, the glitter of tears still shining across his lashes where he hadn’t been able to wipe them away. He stands there and feels the bottom drop out of his stomach when he realizes that he can’t do this. That for all of Hawks’ lies and deceit, Dabi can’t make himself unsee that moment where his mom’s brave face had overlaid Hawks’ as the hero repeated the same lie that he’d heard so many years ago.

He doesn’t even know why Hawks is crying. But he knows that if he continues what he came here to do, he’ll be no better than Endeavor either.

And suddenly it makes far too much sense - the new perspective clicking into place with the rapidity of a landslide. 

His mother had taken years of abuse - had wiped away her tears and smiled, saying she was fine - because she wanted to protect her children. Because to her, there were things more important to her than her happiness or well being. 

He’s just the same as her, too. 

The unbidden thought breaks something inside him. Turning on his heel, Dabi leaves Hawks’ apartment without another word.

----

For Keigo, it starts with their new alliance.

Or rather, he realizes when they move into the Paranormal Liberation Front Mansion. He suspects that ground zero was the odd confrontation in his bedroom three weeks prior, when Dabi had fled at the sight of his tears. 

He’d thought Dabi was just too emotionally constipated to deal with a feeling that wasn’t either drama or horny. And it wasn’t unusual for a couple weeks to pass between their meetings, though that gap had been getting smaller. But when the Commission asked, Keigo told them that Dabi had been busy preparing for the big battle at Deika, while privately he reasoned that Dabi hadn’t liked Keigo’s weakness and was waiting for it to go away. 

Which is fine... until Dabi sees him from the other end of the hallway and promptly about-faces. Heading back the direction he’d just come and proving that this isn’t something temporary - that it’s something more than emotional constipation. And while Keigo doesn’t need Dabi anymore, exactly, he can’t risk being on bad terms with the new lieutenant.

So he hurries to catch up, propelling himself slightly down the wide hallway just as the tails of Dabi’s duster vanish around the corner.

“Hey, Dabi hold up!” He calls, rounding the corner himself and nearly running smack into Dabi’s broad back. 

“What do you want?” The villain asks without turning around. His voice is as cool and detached as ever, but there’s a line of tension running through his back that actually makes him stand taller. Hell, Keigo had almost forgotten that Dabi had several inches over him.

Too long between meetings. Sloppy, you should have insisted on keeping contact, despite the embarrassment.

“It’s been a while!” Keigo says lightly, ducking around Dabi’s shoulder so he can peer up into the villain’s face. “And I wanted to show you something.”

There’s no curiosity in Dabi’s deadpan face. No hint of the sly smile or bright eyes that Keigo had started seeing in his dreams. Instead, it’s as if Dabi has been restored to factory settings - as dead-eyed and distrustful as he’d been when they first met.

Keigo swallows, suddenly wondering if this is the right approach at all. But it’s too late to back out now.

“I’m busy,” Dabi says, sidestepping Keigo and continuing down the hall. Keigo frowns, heart thumping a jittery rhythm against his ribs. For some reason, he knows that if he lets Dabi walk away now, there will be no getting him back.

“Dabi wait!” He calls again, his tone less false this time - more pleading than he’d like. But the villain slows, and that’s all the opening that Keigo needs. He gets in front of the villain, blocking his way.

“Look, man,” he says in a low voice, hoping not to be overheard. “If it’s about last time - I just… was having a rough day. Sorry for making it weird, I’m usually not -” He trails off at the dark expression that passes over Dabi’s face. Fuck, maybe honesty hadn’t been the best policy.

Trying to wave it off, literally and figuratively, Hawks gestures dismissively at the air between them. “Look, can we just forget it ever happened? I still wanna show you something.”

Dabi stares him down, face expressionless but somehow even colder than before. Keigo can feel desperation dig its little claws into the spaces between his vertebrae, nearly making him twitch with agitation. But he’s not gonna beg. Dabi doesn’t respect assholes who can’t hold their ground, after all.

“Fine,” Dabi says finally. “Show me whatever it is you wanna show me.”

Keigo’s lips twitch up in a small satisfied smile as he takes Dabi by the elbow and leads him back the direction he’d been heading in the first place. Dabi’s arm jerks out of his hold within the first few steps, but Keigo doesn’t comment on it, too nervous of scaring Dabi off now that he has his attention.

Meanwhile, he scrambles for a plan. He’d said he wanted to show Dabi something, and initially that was just a ploy to get him alone. Get him into an empty hallway for a quickie or back to his bedroom for a fuck, whichever felt right in the moment. After all, sex was always a sure fire way to get back in Dabi’s good graces.

But now he’s not so sure. The villain is walking with a wide gap between them when before he’d have been content to bump shoulders. He wasn’t teasing or goading or bitching, which were his three main attitudes when he wasn’t fucking Keigo into the mattress and growling dirty talk into his ear. Instead, he’s silent - only the tread of his boots behind and slightly to the left of Keigo reassuring the hero that Dabi hasn’t fucking disappeared into the night.

Which he might still do, if I don’t think of something to show him, Keigo thinks, on edge enough for his feathers to be half-sharp along his back.

“You’re thinking awful loud,” Dabi comments idly, breaking their silent trek toward the wing of the complex where the apartments are. It has to be apparent to Dabi, by now, where Keigo is taking him. 

“Thinking about you,” Keigo says honestly, glancing back to see blue eyes that won’t meet his own. “Heard you got injured at Deika, and since I haven’t been able to see for myself…” he lets the innuendo hang - sees Dabi’s expression darken, “...well, been wondering how you were doing.”

It’s somewhat lame. They’ve never done small talk, really. No “hey how are you?” and “I’m good, thanks for asking! Yourself?” between them. They’d met with knives out, so to speak, and Keigo’s not sure that they ever put them away.

Except…

“Fully recovered, according to the overpaid coats at this place,” Dabi says, tone still dead. His gaze flicks to Keigo’s, and there’s something searching in that look. Like he wants to ask Keigo a question in turn. Then he shakes his head and shifts his gaze forward again.

“Well? I’m guessing we’re here.”

Keigo’s attention turns to his own room door and he swallows against a suddenly dry throat. They’re here alright, and he still has no clue what to do with a Dabi that apparently wants nothing to do with him.

“We are indeed,” he says with forced brightness, almost reaching to take Dabi’s wrist, but refraining at the last second. Instead, he fishes out his key and opens the door in a grandiose, over-the-top manner.

“Ta-da!” He exclaims, gesturing Dabi into his room. “Welcome to my new villain digs! Grab a pair of slippers, I have spares.”

But Dabi just stands there in the little entryway and glares into the en suite that has been assigned to Keigo.

“What is it that you want to show me?” He repeats, voice low and slow. Dangerous. Keigo’s internal alarms blare, and he drops the goofy act. Instead, he runs a hand over the back of his neck and watches Dabi watching him.

He’s not used to being unsure. Even less used to acting unsure. But he doesn’t have any better ideas at this point, and if he doesn’t try and repair bridges with Dabi now, it will come back to bite him later.

Even if he doesn’t know how those bridges got destroyed in the first place.

“I wanted to show you a good time,” Keigo says in a neutral tone, closing the door behind him and leaning against it for good measure. At least Dabi can’t just walk away now. “But you’ve been avoiding me for weeks and distant the whole way here. What’s up? I thought we had a good thing going?”

It’s as blunt as he’s ever been in his life, and far, far, too truthful for his own peace of mind. Even if he’d been screwing Dabi to get into the League, it didn’t mean he hadn’t had some fun. He’d even admit that he missed the sex when it hadn’t been too rough.

But the villain’s expression is stiff - his whole body is stiff - and Keigo gets the feeling he’s said something wrong. Again.

So much for clearing the air.

“Dabi?” He says quietly, when the villain doesn’t speak for a long, dragged out moment.

The villain releases a deliberate sigh, the tension seeping out of his bones in a way that almost leaves him looking defeated.

“If that’s all you wanted, you can get out of the way,” he says, not meeting Keigo’s eyes. Keigo’s stomach lurches.

“Did I do something wrong?” He asks, uncertainty ringing clear in his tone. He bites his lip.

The Commission hadn’t commanded him to sleep with Dabi, but they’d told him to do “whatever it took” to get on the flame user’s good side. And getting to Dabi had taken sex, in the end. Or at least, it had sped up the trust aspect of things, when he’d exhausted all the information sharing, favors, and bribes he could think of.

If Dabi denies him this, he doesn’t know how to get back in his good graces. And Dabi’s distance is really starting to worry him.

“Do you not… want this anymore?” He asks even more quietly. He’s playing up the jilted lover angle, but the very real zing of pain that shoots through his heart certainly lends authenticity.

“Not like this, no.” Dabi frowns, then shakes his head with finality. “Move, birdie.”

Fingers balling into useless fists of aggravation, Keigo holds his ground for one last salvo.

Any means necessary, Hawks. Think of the lives at stake.

“Is it because you found out I’m not perfect?” He asks, tone sharper, pushing Dabi to confrontation, hoping he’ll bite. “You think I can’t cut it just because I still cry?”

A spasm of anger flits across Dabi’s face, and for a second Keigo thinks he’s gone too far, making his wings sharpen in anticipated defense. 

It’s subtle, but Dabi catches Keigo’s reaction and his expression shifts again into what could almost be described as guilt. Carved in between furrowed eyebrows and an unhappy frown. Finally, he replies.

“Move, Hawks. Don’t make me ask you again.”

Keigo sighs in defeat and steps aside, allowing the villain to exit without another word.

And he stands there for a long time afterwards, wondering where he went wrong.

----

Dabi thinks that will be the end of their illicit meetings. Thinks he’s finally shaken off Hawks and all the complicated feelings of guilt and hatred he brings with him as both a traitor and a martyr.

But he should have known that Hawks didn’t make it to the number two spot by being anything less than entirely relentless.

It starts with a rumor that Twice tells him about - one that’s making the rounds within the liberation army. A rumor that anyone messing with Dabi or the rest of the League, questioning their new leadership, will answer to Hawks. The rumor purports that those who have disparaged the League, and been met with the Winged Hero’s wrath, have come out the other side thoroughly regretting their actions and singing the League’s praises.

It’s kind of funny, until Hawks gets into it with Geten and makes a spectacle.

Dabi arrives as the fight is ending, winding through spectators in order to see what all the fucking fuss is about. Really the feathers and ice should have been a clue.

But seeing Hawks leave the makeshift arena with blood pouring from a gash over his eyebrow and eyes so fierce that he’s given a ten foot berth is… something else. The hero’s wings are depleted, his jacket is torn, and he looks pissed. And when his gaze meets Dabi’s in the crowd, it feels like time slows down.

Glittering, dangerous, golden eyes bore into his, and Hawks’ expression goes tight with something that almost looks like pain. Dabi takes a step in his direction before he even registers that he doesn’t want Hawks to be hurt. But then the crowds shift again, and the hero makes his escape in amongst the bodies.

It’s after that incident that Dabi realizes he’s now the one being avoided.

But not forgotten, oh no. It seems like the hero is everywhere, trying to get his attention. A day later and Spinner laughs over their dinner of rice and miso, saying that Dabi’s “boyfriend” sure had put the fear of god into the cooks, asking for lighter meals. Then two days after that, Toga comes in looking positively rejuvenated and tells Dabi he really should try the new cryotherapy machine that Hawks had gotten installed in the spa. After all, it’s supposed to help with scar treatment.

It goes on like this for another week with Dabi only seeing Hawks at meetings with the new Paranormal Liberation Front, and he’s not even ashamed to admit he spends half the time glaring at the side of Hawks’ fluffy head.

But the hero won’t meet his eyes.

He’s just trying to get back on your good side, a part of Dabi thinks. The other part of him notes the gardeners adding bird of paradise flowers to the landscaping and recalls mentioning one time that he thought the flowers were way prettier than any real birds he knew.

It’d been an insult, and here Hawks was turning it into a gesture. 

All the little things the hero remembered or guessed that Dabi would like. It’s… it’s…

Too much for Dabi to deal with. So he leaves.

It’s not the first time he’s gone off on his own while part of the League, but it is the first time he’s left the PLF headquarters. He hadn’t had much desire to explore the city he’d had a fiery hand in destroying, a bit too canny to think entering that lion’s den is a particularly good idea.

But it’s better than the kind of warfare Hawks is conducting around the mansion, so Dabi finds himself strolling through the remains of the city with no particular destination in mind. Stopping by a vending machine and picking up a hot tea. Sipping on it as puffed-up birds chirp on the power lines overhead. There’s a small river that cuts across his path, and Dabi diverts to walk along its side, knowing that it curves along the northern border of the city.

Houses pass on one side while the water rushes quietly on the other, and Dabi ducks his chin into the hoodie he’d donned for his escape, breath frosting the air over his chest. 

Time passes as he tries not to think about Hawks and what he’s doing, but the truth is he’s never been one to let things go.

So he walks and he contemplates Hawks. Who’s going to betray them - betray him - because that’s what he’s been trained to do. Because he believes in the system, apparently. 

Dabi wants to be mad about it - truly he does - but then he remembers why Hawks had been crying all those weeks ago. He’d looked it up the very next day, when he’d gotten over the shock of comparing the hero to his mother of all people.

Hawks had been in an altercation with a handful of villains earlier in the day, and had been called in to fight. In the fray though, he’d been hit with some sort of quirk suppressant - probably leftover stock from Overhaul’s gang - and had lost the ability to control his feathers. Ten minutes later, he’d been called in to help with a sinking ship in the bay. Bunch of kids on a marine biology field trip. According to all the news sources, Hawks had gotten there as fast as he could, but there hadn’t been anything he could do. Other heroes had arrived on the scene too, and pulled as many people from the water as they were able.

Japan’s fastest hero had been relegated to the sidelines, watching as bodies were pulled from the water with no amount of resuscitation being able to bring them back.

Hawks had apparently stuck around for hours after his shift, talking with bereaved families and with traumatized survivors. Had punished himself by taking full responsibility for the lives lost due to his “carelessness in a previous fight”. Then, when the drug had finally worn off, Hawks had flown home alone and broken down into tears.

That last part wasn’t reported, of course. But Dabi had seen it for himself.

Dabi kicks a rock in front of him, listening to it bounce across the sidewalk. Given the chill, there aren’t many people out, but he’s fine with that. Lets him run a weary hand over his stapled face without any askance looks.

Because… he’d been wrong. 

Whenever Endeavor had failed to save people - when he’d actually bothered to take a rescue case - he’d left the scene immediately, writing it off as a bad job. Never once had he stuck around to see a grieving family member or offer them a word of comfort. It was something beneath him. Or, in his words, “not his responsibility to coddle criers.”

Used that line on me, too, Dabi muses, remembering Hawks’ accusation that Dabi couldn’t stand his tears. If only the bird knew what a hypocrite that would make me, if I got mad over crying.

So yeah, Hawks is going to betray them, but not because he’s a terrible person like Endeavor. He’s going to betray them because he’s a good hero. And he thinks he’s saving people. 

Or he’s been told he’s saving people, when really all he’s doing is saving the system, Dabi thinks grimly, kicking the rock again now that he’s caught up with it. 

After all, he doesn’t believe that Hawks came up with this whole infiltration idea on his own. Hawks is smart, perhaps too smart, but he wouldn’t go into this without backing from his higher ups. Someone had to know that Hawks wasn’t truly trying to become a villain.

Call it instinct, but Dabi’s pretty sure Hawks didn’t come up with the job at all - he was just the poor bastard that got assigned it.

Assigned me , he reminds himself bitterly.

Dabi’s not one for self pity, or pity in general, really. He doesn’t feel bad for Hawks getting assigned this task anymore than he feels bad for the dumb kids who died in the bay. Shit happened - life happened - and sometimes it fucking sucked.

But still, he remembers the image of his mom, lying about how she was okay with a fractured cheekbone and a black eye, and he thinks maybe, just this once, he can allow himself a little bit of sympathy. 

We’re all going to die trying to do what we think is right anyway, he acknowledges. It’s something he’s made some kind of peace with - that he’ll likely fall trying to kill his father. Before, he hadn’t thought of what would happen to Hawks, but now that he is… he knows that the hero will put every last feather on the line to see his mission complete. Hawks is going to go down fighting just as hard as Dabi is, probably.

One of the things I actually like about him…

It’s a wistful thought. The kind of thought he doesn’t entertain too often, in a bid to maintain whatever sanity he has left.

But there’s no denying that Dabi enjoyed their trysts together, back when he thought the bird might actually be considering switching sides. Before he’d found out that their fucks were just another bullet point on the job description to Hawks.

That had hurt, too. He might as well admit it while he’s being honest with himself. Dabi had let himself fall for the hero, had enjoyed spending nights and early mornings taking pleasure in Hawks’ body and re-learning what it meant to be wanted. Only when he’d come to suspect Hawks of being false had those times together turned sour - angry.

Still. Hawks’ advances over the past week, even from a distance, revealed that the hero had been paying attention in a way that went above and beyond a mere chore. Fucking was one thing - remembering Dabi’s most offhand comments was another.

So, are you going to cave? A snide voice in his mind asks cruelly. Going to go crawling back to your future backstabber just because he makes you feel noticed?

Dabi pauses in his tracks, troubled eyes peering out over the river that stretches before him, almost unseeing until the first flurry catches his eye. After one, comes another - big white snowflakes cascading from the clouds like ash.

No. No, it’s not that, he thinks, an almost disbelieving smile pulling on his lips. F uck, that’s not what I want to do at all.  

He tilts his head back, letting fresh snow flutter down to hit his overheated, half-destroyed skin. It feels nice. Makes him wonder if that cryotherapy thing is worth a shot.

Walking back toward the mansion, he hopes Rei can see the snow where she is, too.

----

Keigo is putting the finishing touches on the little gift basket of balms and scar creams that he’s cobbled together, and is about to ring for one of the lesser PLF members to drop it off at Dabi’s room, when there’s a knock at his door. He blinks, wondering who it could be, and sends a tiny feather out to investigate - feeling its report from where it lingers at the bottom gap of the door.

Someone with overly hot skin and a penchant for leather. Three guesses who.

“Dabi?” He asks, opening the door. Sure enough, the man stands in his doorway - dressed down in a black hoodie, but looking as edgy and blank as ever, aside from the snow dusting his hair and shoulders. In his own sweats and t-shirt, Keigo is still the more casual of the two.

“You - uh,” he hesitates, wondering if Dabi will take this the wrong way now, before deciding it’s just fucking manners. “You wanna come in?”

Dabi nods, stepping inside and kicking off his heavy boots. Keigo notes that he does, in fact, slide on the spare set of slippers stowed by the door. Huh. 

“You want a fresh jacket? Yours looks soaked,” he asks, leading the way into his three-room suite and gesturing for Dabi to take the couch. Nervous energy has his wings fluttering as Dabi ignores the unspoken invitation and just stands there instead, contemplating him.

“Uh,” Keigo hedges, searching Dabi’s face for some clue of what the villain wants. Had the flowers in the garden area been too much? Probably pretty obvious in the middle of a cold snap, now that he thinks about it - no wonder the gardeners had looked at him so strangely. “Dabi, what’s -?”

“You’ve been doing nice things for me around the complex all week,” Dabi interrupts, tilting his head like a cat. Curious, rather than predatory, though.

Keigo’s guts jolt at the accusation, but he manages an almost amused smile, as if he’s not quite sure what Dabi’s talking about.

“If you’re talking about the cryochamber, that was purely selfish,” he corrects. “Does wonders for the muscles after a long day of flying or fuc-” Keigo cuts himself off, remembering that he can’t play that game with Dabi anymore. 

“...or fighting,” he finishes lamely, raking a hand down the back of his neck. Dabi arches an eyebrow.

“Might have to give it a go,” the villain murmurs, taking a step closer to Hawks. If the hero didn’t know better, he’d almost say the villain was hesitant. 

“But I can’t fly,” Dabi continues lowly. “And I don’t feel like fighting.”

The implication is clear as day, and Keigo can feel his own heart tripping over itself at the realization. 

“Is that so?” He asks cautiously, taking a step closer himself, testing the waters. Dabi’s bangs hang heavy with melted snow over his hooded eyes, which watch him with a mix of emotions Keigo can’t put a name to. He doesn’t seem angry or cold anymore though - not by a long shot.

The hero wonders what happened to make Dabi change his mind, but pushes the thought away. Right now there’s only the olive branch Dabi seems to be extending, and how Keigo can use it to secure the villain’s trust once more.

Keigo takes another, more casual, step forward, letting the tension seep out of his muscles when Dabi doesn’t retreat. By the time there’s barely a foot between them, the hero’s pretty sure he can see where this is going.

“I would hate for you not to have a reason to use my fancy new therapy machine,” he says softly, seductively, while reaching up to the zipper of Dabi’s hoodie. The villain surprises him, however, by catching his wrist in a tender hold.

Dabi doesn’t say a word, but places a gentle kiss to the center of Keigo’s palm. The hero’s pulse leaps under his skin in surprise. It’s been… months since Dabi touched him with so much care.

The villain doesn’t stop there, either. He eases Keigo’s hand over and places a kiss to each knuckle, slowly, methodically, his wind-chilled lips sending shivers up Keigo’s spine.

“Dabi?” he whispers, unsure what’s provoked such odd behavior in the villain. In lieu of an answer though, Dabi just tugs on his wrist, drawing him across that small gap in between them and meeting his lips halfway.

I was wrong, Keigo thinks hazily. It’s not that it’s been a while. He’s never been this…

Gentle lips warm against his own, and Dabi tilts his head so that their noses brush. Keigo almost jolts at how cold the three nose studs are when they bump into him, but maybe that’s just because the contrast is so jarring compared to Dabi’s hot tongue. 

Dabi is kissing him in a slow and languid way that reminds Keigo of the first few weeks of their meetings. Specifically, the mornings after, when Dabi would lean over him and grin into his mouth as they fucked the early hours of dawn away. 

When did that stop? He wonders for the first time, Dabi’s tongue tasting the roof of his mouth in a way that makes him feel warm with need. When did sex with Dabi become something to endure? Did I ignore the shift because a more violent Dabi was easier to betray? 

Dabi’s fingers trail down his sides, gently gripping his hips to draw him nearer.

Fuck, I missed this though, Keigo thinks, letting his eyes flutter closed.

The villain makes a soft noise at the back of his throat as Keigo finally responds in kind, his own tongue tracing alongside Dabi’s, tasting tea and a familiar smokey heat that he’d never realized he craved so badly. Without any real thought on his part, Keigo lifts his arms to drape around Dabi’s neck, feeling the snow-damp hoodie press shockingly cold against his own warm skin.

Still, it takes him several long, leisurely moments before he pulls back for a breath.

“Let’s get you outta this thing, yeah?” He asks, plucking at the hoodie and feeling excitement stir inside him. First the hoodie, then Dabi’s ridiculous leather pants, then -

Dabi clears his throat. “Only if you want, pretty bird.”

The words are breathed against Keigo’s lips, and the hero blinks when he realizes Dabi’s intense blue eyes are peering into his, searching for something. Asking for permission.

He’s never needed it before, I always made it clear it was fine. I was fine…

Keigo wants to ask what’s brought on this new and considerate Dabi, but fuck, between not wanting to break the fragile peace between them and having Dabi’s body pressed up against his own after so long, he’s willing to let it wait. Dabi’s asking for permission, and Keigo’s got a very clear answer for him.

Dragging his arms from around Dabi’s neck, Keigo takes hold of the zipper tab and draws it down, the sound of metal parting loud in the suddenly still room. Keigo’s face flames with the intimacy of undressing the villain, despite it being just a jacket and despite how many times they’ve done this before. Maybe… maybe it’s because this time feels different. Like it means something to the villain that it didn’t before.

But what? Keigo thinks when the fabric finally parts, revealing Dabi’s thin white shirt underneath. Trust the flame villain to wear something so flimsy when the brittle winds of winter were still rattling the gates of spring.

“Think it’s about time we got you warmed up, eh hot stuff?” Keigo mutters softly, letting his fingertips press against Dabi’s ribs. The villain’s heart beats fast under his hands, and Keigo watches in fascination as the white shirt fabric bunches and falls while he slides his hands up Dabi’s chest, over his pectorals, and onto his shoulders, underneath the weight of his sodden jacket. Dabi’s breath catches as Keigo strokes his thumbs over the villain’s prominent, scarred collarbones.

Then Hawks shoves the jacket, gently but firmly, off of Dabi’s shoulders, letting it slip down his lean arms to fall with a wet smack to the ground.

Again, Keigo glances up to find blue eyes watching him. But this time, there’s a slight flush to Dabi’s cheeks. 

And I know that’s not from being too warm, Keigo thinks, his own blood rushing loudly against his eardrums. Behind him, his wings flutter with anticipation. 

His next target is the t-shirt, and he lifts an eyebrow at Dabi even as he lifts the hem, questioning whether or not Dabi will allow it.

But the villain simply slips the shirt up and over his head and lets it fall to the ground alongside his jacket. There’s something almost docile about the way Dabi does it too. As if only Keigo’s prompting made him go ahead.

Is he… letting me take the lead? Keigo wonders, trailing fingers over goosebump-ridden skin. Dabi’s chest is cool to the touch, and his staples pull at the contracting flesh. Keigo thinks he might know a couple ways to get the villain warmed up, but this accepting Dabi is making him question himself - the hero in him wondering if Dabi might feel obligated or something.

For what? He wonders, smoothing his palms against the villain’s sides and hearing Dabi’s almost inaudible sigh. What could he feel guilty to me for? For turning me down before?

“You just gonna let me do all the hard work here?” Keigo teases, while simultaneously sweeping his thumbs across Dabi’s pebbled nipples. The villain sucks in a sharp breath before chuckling quietly, blue eyes watching him with those roiling emotions again.

“You’re the one who was trying to get my attention,” Dabi points out, his own hands moving to hold Keigo’s hips again. “You got it. Up to you what you do with it.”

He is letting me take the lead, the hero realizes, pulse quickening. 

It’s not as if he was ever passive in their previous arrangement. He’d had a say in what he wanted or would allow. He’d just… never used it. First, because he hadn’t thought he’d need to, with Dabi being so enthusiastic and mindful. Later, because he’d gotten attached and hadn’t wanted to lose their connection, despite Dabi’s increasing aggressiveness.

Now, though? With full reign to do as he pleases?

Keigo swallows dryly, wondering if he even dares to ask for what he wants. If he dares to acknowledge that he wants it in the first place.

Easier when it’s the villain making all the calls, huh? Some snide part of his brain points out. Then you’re just a victim, instead of a participant.

Shut up, he tells himself. This is your chance to get back on his good side. Besides, I’m pretty sure what he wants isn’t going to be a hardship.

Keigo smirks at the thought and meets those gorgeous blue eyes.

“You say I have your attention?” He asks, letting his nails rake down Dabi’s chest, his abdomen, until they catch at the band of his leather pants. “Care to prove it?”

Dabi’s eyes watch him steadily, before he repeats, “If that’s what you want.”

Man, he really is forcing him to say it, huh?

“It is,” Keigo says, heart hammering against his ribs as two little words ring more true than anything he’s said in months.

Dabi watches him for a moment longer, as if trying to verify his words, before his expression relaxes somewhat and he nods.

“Okay,” he says, before leaning in to capture Keigo’s mouth with his own once more.

----

Dabi thinks that Hawks might actually not be bullshitting for once. There’s an obvious flush to his cheeks and his pupils are enormous in his glittering golden eyes. Dabi can even feel something needy in the way the hero presses their lips together harder, almost bruisingly. It’s enough that Dabi thinks maybe some part of the hero did want this.

Which was what he’d realized on his walk out by the river. That Hawks might have had ulterior motives in going after Dabi, but that the hero still hadn’t been totally detached. The past week of Hawks unerringly hitting on the things that made Dabi tick had shown that clearly enough.

Funny, Dabi thinks as the hero begins guiding them backward, toward his bed. Funny how I’m not doing this because Hawks might actually care, somewhere deep down in his little soldier heart.

They hit the edge of the bed, and Hawks falls back into it with a breathless laugh, tugging Dabi along with him. The villain curls his fingers into the fluffy down comforter, dipping his head to kiss the hero again.

Realizing Hawks might not have been strictly business about their late night activities had given Dabi pause, sure. Realizing that it wouldn’t matter anyway, and that Hawks would complete his mission regardless, had made him push play again. His life was a series of tragedies anyway - he might as well let the show go on.

If we’re going to kill each other, Dabi thinks, inhaling sharply as Hawks drags his nails down his back. If he’s going to be the martyr until the end, throwing himself between the League and those he’s trying to protect…

He thinks about Hawks’ tears, glittering across golden eyelashes. His mom’s, pouring over a bruised cheek.

Not going to punish him for trying to save people anymore, at least. Not for that. We’ll kill each other for being on opposite sides. I’ll kill him for trying to kill me and mine.

His own fingers tug at Hawks’ shirt, and the hero leans up into him, whipping the fabric over his head and wings before tossing it across the room. Baring tan skin for Dabi’s perusal. 

Fuck me, we’ll see if I can kill him at all, he thinks, leaning down to press his lips against the tender spot under Hawks’ left ear. The gasp that jolts through the hero’s chest is music to Dabi’s ears.

But he wants a symphony - one that’s made up of Hawks’ utmost pleasure. 

(Recompense for the times Dabi had come to the hero in anger and made him pay for doing his job. An apology for forgetting that he’s the villain of the story - that he isn’t one of the ones Hawks is trying to save.)

Good thing I’ve been paying attention too, he thinks, kissing his way up and down Hawks’ throat, feeling the hero sigh and shiver, but content not to take it further until the hero asks for it. No longer wanting to take a bite out of him, but trying to savor him instead.

He feels Hawks bring his legs up around his waist, feels him tugging their bodies together, and he obliges, resting his elbows on either side of Hawks’ pretty golden hair, and letting their hips slot together. Hawks is already half hard through his sweatpants, and Dabi smiles against the hero’s throat, pressing a kiss into the underside of his jaw before trailing his lips back up to Hawks’ for an open-mouthed kiss.

The hero makes a noise in the back of his throat, and cants his head so that his tongue can trace along the inside of Dabi’s cheek, following the scar tissue that mirrors the external seam. Dabi groans at the pressure against his staples, sparks flickering behind lids he hadn’t even realized he closed. 

In response, he shifts his hips back, then brushes their cocks together with just the barest, maddeningly unsatisfying pressure. Cotton barely wrinkles as he rocks with deliberate distance.

Hawks pulls back with a groan, spit trailing his lips from where he’d been tonguing Dabi’s molars. “Shit, hot stuff, I thought I was the guy with the feather light touches.” He opens his eyes and doesn’t quite glare up at Dabi. “You can go harder than that. I know you can.”

Dabi stops moving, letting their bodies touch in only the barest of caresses. Even now, holding back. 

I know I can go harder, Dabi thinks painfully. I don’t know how not to, I think.

“Tell me what you want, and you’ve got it, pretty bird,” he whispers into the close air between them, unable to resist running a thumb over Hawks’ temple gingerly, brushing back a wild lock of blond hair.

Hawks searches him, his expression questioning and maybe just a touch worried. Dabi relents, on the shallowest of levels.

“Figured if you’re willing to go to bat for me against that bastard Geten, I owe you one,” he forces out, knowing it’s so much more than that. “One night. Your calls.”

One night before it all comes crashing down around us. This fucking house of cards we’ve built up and lived in for so many goddamned months.

Hawks is still watching him, though he looks less concerned now, the hero side of him calmed enough for his gaze to be contemplative.

“Anything I want?” the hero asks, running his warm hands down Dabi’s patchwork back until his thumbs hook into the waistband of Dabi’s pants. “And if I want these gone?”

Obediently, Dabi levers himself up and unbuckles the white belt at his waist, then unbuttons and unzips his pants. All while Hawks watches him with wide, honey-dark eyes.

Dabi intentionally doesn’t drag the boxers down with the pants. He leaves those in place while he kicks the wad of leather and slippers away. 

“If…” Hawks starts with a gruff voice, before trying again. “If I want you, all of you, to myself for the rest of the day?”

Dabi blinks. That, he hadn’t quite expected. Not the phrasing, anyway.

To yourself , huh? Wonder if you mean it.

But Hawks is gazing up at him from where he sits on the bed, his hair disheveled and his face and chest flushed with a deep blush, with defiance etched into his features. 

And why would he be defiant, unless he had someone he was trying to defy?

“If that’s what you want,” Dabi repeats for a third time, some part of him aching at being so fucking unsure. He wants to rid himself of the cruelties he’d visited on Hawks. He doesn’t want to be the Endeavor of this story. But if Hawks is only going along because he feels like he has to, then this whole plan will have backfired just like everything else in Dabi’s life.

“I want this,” Hawks says earnestly, “I want you.”

Fuck, Dabi thinks, some soft corner of his heart breaking with an almost audible crack, fuck, please don’t be lying to me.

----

Dabi looks shaken by Keigo’s answer, and it pulls at his heartstrings until they thrum right alongside his pulse. The villain stands there and looks like he’s trying to search Keigo’s very soul.

He wants this to be real, Keigo realizes, the thought making his heart clench. The very next thought shakes him too, though.

But it is.

It is?

Keigo’s breath leaves his body, but he can’t afford to let his shock show. He’ll have time for self reflection later. Later, later, later, never.  

It’s real, it’s real, shit, I do care for him, what the fuck do I do -? 

You show him.

“C’mere,” he breathes, his hand shaky as he reaches for Dabi’s hand. The villain doesn’t resist as Keigo laces their fingers together, and draws Dabi down to hover over him again. Pulls him into his arms, then tugging him into an embrace. The kind they’ve never shared before, even after their most mind blowing nights together. Keigo holds Dabi tight to his chest and rubs his cheek into spiky black hair as Dabi’s stiff muscles finally, finally release all their tension.

“You don’t have to do this, Dabi,” Keigo finally whispers. 

“Neither do you,” Dabi murmurs back, his voice sounding pained.

Keigo’s brows furrow up in his own pain. A realization of why Dabi keeps asking him if he actually wants to be with him becoming clearer. Again, he pushes that thought aside. He can deal with it later.

“Can I show you something?” He asks instead, echoing the question he’d voiced over a week prior, but with so much more real intention behind it. Dabi huffs against his chest, obviously recognizing the opening. 

“Sure, pretty bird.”

Gently, with tells at every point of what he’s doing, Hawks sits up and rolls them, so that it’s Dabi who’s pressed into the soft downy comforter, gazing up at him with eyes too old for his body. Keigo tries on a smile.

“You asked what I wanted,” he says. “And I, Takami Keigo, want you.”

Dabi’s eyes go satisfyingly wide at that, and Keigo’s smile turns into a grin.

“Bet you weren’t expecting that , huh, hot stuff?”

“You just -” Dabi makes a face, and closes his eyes in sheer exasperation. Then he snorts, and Keigo know’s he has him. Really has him, this time.

“You gotta admit, it’s gonna be more fun to scream than ‘Hawks’,” he continues in mock contemplation. “No one needs to know about your bird fetishes, Dabi.”

“So you admit you’re a bird,” Dabi jibes back, not opening his eyes.

“Funny how that’s the thing you contest, and not the ‘screaming my name’ bit,” Keigo prods, leaning the weight of his hips into Dabi’s to remind him that they’re still very much here for a reason. 

Dabi exhales sharply, and his pretty blue eyes snap open. He looks fearsome, with his halo of pitch black hair and darkened scars against the pure white of the comforter. A stain on silk, a blight on snow.

Keigo curves his wings up around them, casting a shadow of blood red across both of them while he leans down to catch Dabi’s mouth in a fierce kiss that the villain answers in kind.

Between the crimson pall and the blackened skin, they certainly make quite a pair.

----

Dabi can’t breathe. Hawks’ tongue is hot against his own, and the hero’s weight crushes him, bearing down on him as he tugs on Dabi’s boxers, pulling them down his thighs to join the rest of his clothing on the floor.

Finally the hero draws back for a quick breath and Dabi’s ribs heave against hot skin, dark spots dancing across his vision.

“This okay?” Hawks asks, his hands cupping Dabi’s bare hips, his thumbs dipping down to trail through the soft trail of red hair that runs low on Dabi’s abdomen. The villain nods.

Yeah, that’s fucking good, he thinks headily. Don’t fucking stop.

The hero grins down at him, “Good! Then you’re okay if I do this…?”

He takes Dabi’s semi in hand, letting the weight of it rest in his palm for a moment before he wraps his fingers around the shaft and gives it a long, slow pull.

“Hawks,” Dabi chokes out, his spine arching with the bolt of electric pleasure that shoots through him. The hero frowns.

“Keigo,” he corrects. “Please, just Keigo.”

Dabi blinks, that same fluttery pain hitting him that had earlier when he realized Hawks might not be bullshitting him. That the hero might give an actual damn, after all.

Remember, none of this matters in the long run, he reminds himself. Hawks or Keigo, he’s still got a job to do.

But Dabi thinks, maybe this time, this isn’t part of the job. And he can live with that.

“Keigo,” Dabi repeats. Then he reaches up and tugs at the drawstrings of Keigo’s sweatpants experimentally. “Care to join me?”

The hero’s eyes light up, and he gives Dabi’s cock another long, slow pull - damn near making Dabi moan in pleasure - before he lets it rest against the villain’s thigh. Then he’s reaching for his own waistband.

“Don’t mind if I do,” he says, stripping quickly and kicking his sweats aside, before reaching for Dabi again. But the villain catches his hand. 

The unspoken, let me, passes between them, and Keigo’s bushy eyebrows rise. They rise even higher when Dabi sits upright on the edge of the bed and catches the hero’s hips in a gentle grip, pulling them closer to his face.

“Won’t your staples…?” Keigo questions in a slightly strangled voice, obviously catching where Dabi is going with their new positions. The villain shakes his head. 

“You let me worry about that,” he says, licking his lips. Then he takes Keigo’s cock in hand, and guides it into his mouth.

Dabi had given blow jobs before. It wasn’t a common thing for him, mostly because of his staples, actually, and the risk he ran of infections. But for Keigo…?

He lets the warm, heavy head of Keigo’s cock brush against the roof of his mouth, making sure to drag his tongue along the bottom of it, pressing up under the head to hit that little bundle of nerves, and dragging a gasp from Keigo. Fingers find their way into his hair, and Dabi smiles around the cock in his mouth, getting a better grip on Keigo’s hips to pull him closer.

“Oh, fuck, Dabi,” the hero hisses as Dabi swallows around him. The villain glances up through his lashes to see Keigo staring down at him with wide eyes, flushed cheeks, and a positively hungry expression.

In response, Dabi bobs his head, keeping eye contact as Keigo’s cock slips past the back of his tongue and down into his throat. His gag reflex triggers, but Dabi fights it down, bobbing again more shallowly and swirling his tongue along the underside of Keigo’s cock. 

“Oh,” Keigo gasps, while Dabi bobs again and again, taking the hero a little deeper each time, his throat adjusting to the feeling of the intrusion as he pursues the ruination of the hero as slowly as he can.

Keigo groans in pleasure, and the accumulation of spit in Dabi’s mouth eventually makes for a backdrop of slick, pornographic noises of flesh pumping into a wet hole. He moans when Keigo pulls on his hair, and the hero’s dick twitches inside his mouth at the sound.

Dabi usually tries not to be too vocal. It’s a display of pleasure - a baring of weaknesses that he usually can’t fucking afford.

He growls for Keigo, timing the vibrations to the next time he pulls Keigo’s cock down his throat.

“Ooohhhh, oh, oh, fuck,” Keigo moans, bucking his hips harder into Dabi’s face, seemingly unable to help himself. Dabi hollows out his cheeks, sucking the hero down hard, his mouth full, his throat closed, and his vision spinning from the lack of oxygen.

But fuck if it’s not worth it to feel Keigo shaking in his grasp, curses and praises falling from his lips like an erotic mantra.

“Shit! Fuck, fuck, Dabi, Dabi, oh my god your mouth. I fucking - ahhhh - just like like that!”

He sucks him just like that, his nose pressed firmly against Keigo’s abs as he swallows and groans and feels Keigo’s pleasure like it’s his own. Feels his own cock throb between his thighs in time with his pounding pulse.

Then Dabi reaches between Keigo’s trembling thighs and cradles his balls, and the hero’s whole body jerks , almost gagging Dabi with the reaction.

“Fuck, wait, wait, - ah ah ah - Dabi, wait!

Reluctantly, chest heaving with the need to breathe, Dabi pulls back, letting the hero’s cock go with an explicit slurp. It stands, reddened and slick, against the hero’s chiseled abs, and Dabi smirks at the sight.

Keigo sags against his shoulders, and Dabi glances up proudly, only to see the hero glaring down at him.

“Who gave you the right to be so fucking good at this?”

Dabi chuckles hoarsely. “Wait ‘til you see my next trick, pretty bird.”

Keigo’s eyes flash. “Oh? And what trick would that be?”

“I call it ‘putting the cock in cock atiel’.” 

The hero’s eyes widen, and then he sputters out a genuine, loud laugh, so hard that Dabi shakes along with his mirth. He can’t help the smile that tugs at his sore cheeks.

It feels good to make Keigo laugh. Feels good to make him feel good. Like Dabi’s flipping Endeavor the bird, and showing him that they’re nothing alike.

You just like the sound of Keigo’s laugh, some part of him points out, and Dabi’s far enough gone at this point to admit that, yeah, he does.

“Do you accept volunteers for this trick, magic man?” Keigo asks lightly, flopping down onto the bed next to Dabi, resting his cheek on his palm in a show of supreme confidence. Dabi arches an eyebrow.

“Depends if the volunteer is prepared for the trick, ya know?”

Keigo grins back.

“You’re not the only one with a few things up your sleeve, Dabi dear,” he says conspiratorially as a handful of feathers swoop in, carrying with them a bottle of lube, but no condoms. Dabi looks at Keigo quizzically.

“Your uhh, little helpers missed something, pretty bird.”

Keigo’s gaze is steady as he accepts the bottle of lube without looking at it. “Did they?”

Dabi swallows at the additional show of trust that Keigo had never allowed before. Sure, rough treatment, burns, pulled feathers - he’d been good with all those. But condoms had been non-negotiable from the start. Dabi hadn’t argued, since he typically ran on a ‘the less chance of infection, the better’ kind of mindset.

Still. Still, for Keigo to choose now of all times.

The humor fades away as Dabi resists the urge to ask once more, are you sure?

Instead, he reaches out and trails his knuckles up Keigo’s bare thigh. Wishing… wishing…

But his isn’t a life where wishes come true, is it?

Keigo shivers at the light touches, and Dabi feels the corners of his mouth twitch, breaking him from his spell of melancholy.

“Pick a position,” he says. Then gestures for the bottle in Keigo’s hand. “And give me the lube.”

Keigo licks his lips and forks over the bottle without protest before rolling onto his stomach. Then he snags a pillow to help prop up his hips.

“This way’s easier on my wings,” he says lightly, looking at Dabi over his shoulder. There’s excitement in his voice, and his wings are quivering in a way that indicates he isn’t faking it. Dabi forcefully ignores the fact that he’d never realized - never been told - which position Keigo prefers. Never thought to ask.

You’re asking now. Stop fucking moping, he tells himself heatedly. Besides, he’s got Keigo’s ass on full display in front of him - presented with a fucking wink and a wiggle - and he’s not going to just sit there and take that.

Repositioning himself so that he’s kneeling behind the hero, Dabi pours a generous portion of lube into his palm and rubs it between both hands, warming it up. Keigo shifts one of his wings so he can see what Dabi is doing behind him, and Dabi can’t help but smirk at the flush on the hero’s cheeks.

But those ain’t the cheeks I’m worried about just now, he thinks, dropping his gaze to the perfectly tanned, unfairly toned, hero ass that is mere inches from his very hard dick. 

Biting the inside of his cheek, Dabi starts by running his slick hands up the outsides of Keigo’s thighs until he reaches the top of his ass, then trailing his fingertips down - barely dipping into the crack - so that his fingers can trail along the insides of Keigo’s thighs as well. Teasing him, he repeats the same route, listening to the hero’s breath hitch until the thighs he’s stroking are quivering with need.

“Fuck,” Keigo hisses, when Dabi drops his lips to join the lazy path of his palms, planting kisses and light bites against warm skin and tasting both lube and sweat. “Dabi, oh my god, that - ahh - that feels incredible.”

Dabi smiles against the hero’s flesh, then taps the inside of Keigo’s thigh.

“Wider.”

He hears Keigo mutter, “oh my god,” but the hero complies, shuffling his knees apart a few inches more to allow better access.

Dabi makes a meal out of kissing and laving his tongue anywhere and everywhere from the backs of Keigo’s bent knees, to the arch of his ass - even angling his head to get a taste of his taint. All throughout, Keigo’s breath stutters and he claws at the bedspread, cursing and praising and begging for more.

“Please, Dabi, please,” Keigo keens, his wings jerking erratically as Dabi’s hot tongue sweeps within an inch to his entrance. “God, your tongue, your fingers, your dick, all three at once, I don’t care. Just -”

Dabi passes his tongue directly over Keigo’s hole, and the hero breaks off with a curse. 

“Not all of us are quite that flexible,” Dabi snorts. “But you asked, so I’ll do my best.”

“Fucking, yes, please,” Keigo groans, his knees shaking and his voice thick. Dabi hums in acknowledgement.

Pouring more lube into his hands, Dabi slicks up and places his pointer finger at the base of Keigo’s spine, watching the hero arch as he drags the digit down until it catches on the rim of his entrance.

“You ready?” he can’t help but tease, circling his fingertip around the tight ring of muscles. 

Keigo makes a noise that doesn’t sound quite human, and snarls, “Yes.”

Dabi sinks in. 

His finger slides past the entrance with ease, all the way to the knuckle. Keigo jerks at the intrusion, but then grinds back against it like his life depends on it. For his part, Dabi works his finger around, bending and circling until he finds the hero’s prostate.

If I don’t make him come at least twice, he thinks, gently stroking against the round bundle of nerves. I haven’t done this right.

Keigo makes a noise like a whimper at the light caresses, and when he looks back over his shoulder at Dabi, his expression is half bliss and half irritation, with eyebrows knotted down in a glare but mouth dropped open around a moan.

“Dabi,” he chokes out. “Fuck, please. Need more than tha-”

The villain presses harder into Keigo’s prostate, and the hero’s eyes widen as his whole back bows like a ruler about to snap.

“Sorry,” Dabi breathes, his own pulse spiking against the inside of his skull as he watches Keigo gasp for air. “You were asking for more. Think I can manage that.” 

He draws out his index finger, then presses back in with the middle finger accompanying. Keigo squirms against his pillow, making lewd noises of pleasure as Dabi pumps in and out, making sure to bump his prostate on every pass.

“That alright for you?” the villain asks, using his other hand to hold the hero still as Keigo tries to meet him thrust for thrust. A thought occurs to him and he bites his lip, wondering if it’ll ruin the moment before deciding: fuck it.

“Keigo is a nice name, you know,” he compliments. Under his hands the hero’s attempts at grinding stutter, and again Dabi finds himself on the receiving end of a wide, golden gaze.

“It’s strong,” Dabi says, still pumping his fingers into the hero, still holding eye contact, but dropping his lips to kiss the base of Kiego’s wings. Smooth feathers tickle his lips as he continues. “Decisive. The kind of name that means business.”

“Yeah?” the hero asks, his face bright red under the weight of Dabi’s assault. The villain just smiles and nips at the juncture where wing meets shoulder blade.

“Yeah. I like it, that’s all.”

Keigo grins up at him, and for once it looks truly genuine. Almost boyish, actually.

“I don’t use it much,” he confesses, accent thicker than usual. “You ain’t gonna wear it out any time soon.”

Dabi’s heart pounds against his ribs. He slips his fingers out. Lines up the third.

“Okay, Keigo,” he whispers, before pressing back in.

The hero moans so loudly that Dabi half-thinks they’ll alert the other Liberation members. Then he realizes: he doesn’t give a damn.

Pulling out slowly, the ring of muscles pressing tight against his bony fingers, he slides back in again. And again. And again. Building up a tempo that has Keigo twitching and writhing and cursing into the heat of the room.

“Shit, shit, shit, Dabi, fuck, that’s - haaahhhh, right there. Yes, yes, fuck!”

Dabi feels sweat trailing down his temple as he watches the hero grind back onto his hand with abandon, can feel his dick as hard as a fucking rock between his thighs, begging to replace his fingers. Fuck, he can feel Keigo’s inner walls flexing around him like he’s about to - 

“Oh, oh, oh - yes, Dabi, Dabi !” Keigo cries, his ass clenching down so hard that the bones in Dabi’s fingers creak. The hero continues rocking into his pillow, his back spasming and his wings razor sharp with how hard he’s orgasming. Dabi watches it all with his breath caught in his throat, mesmerized by the fucking sight.

Oh fuck, I want to see that again, he thinks headily. 

“Keigo,” he rasps, when the hero collapses bonelessly across the pillow, and his ass finally loosens enough to let Dabi slide his fingers out. “Pretty bird?”

With a groan, the hero rolls over onto his side, providing a clear view of the mess of cum spread across his thighs and stomach. His eyes are half-open, and the smile he gives is blissful.

“If that’s what your fingers are like today, can’t wait to get to your dick,” the hero gets out, sounding thoroughly wrecked. “Holy shit, Dabi, that was awesome.”

The villain snorts, standing up to get some tissues from the hero’s bedside and wiping his fingers off. Keigo just lays there, looking debauched within an inch of his life. Watching him.

“Were you always this good in bed?” he asks thoughtfully. “Or has it just been too long?”

Dabi’s throat tightens unexpectedly, and he returns to Keigo’s side, sitting down hard and wincing at how his dick throbs. As much as his brain is definitely in primal mode, his heart is a riot of poorly-dealt-with emotions.

“Just wanted to try something different today,” he murmurs, turning so he can gaze down at Keigo’s sprawled form. “Wanted…

To prove I’m not the same kind of monster that Endeavor is; to treat you well for being the kind of hero I could have respected; to show you how much I -

“... to have a good time,” he finishes lamely. And before Keigo can probe any further, he dips his head to press their lips together, pouring into him all the things he can’t say aloud.

I want you, he thinks, tugging on Keigo’s bottom lip with his teeth, and pulling a moan from the hero. 

I want this to be real, he acknowledges, following Keigo as the hero rolls onto his back. Chasing his mouth, his taste, his laughter, as the hero wraps red wings around them both.

“Thought you didn’t like being on your back,” Dabi rasps, his throat tight. Keigo smiles up at him, lines of light cutting across his cheeks from the gaps in his feathers.

“It’s not as comfortable for my wings,” he admits, “but this is more comfortable for my poor, worn out dick. ‘Specially if we’re going for round two.” 

The final bit is said questioningly, with a pointed glance down at Dabi’s cock. The villain almost laughs at Keigo’s one-track mind.

“If you want to,” he repeats once more. “Can get off in the shower if you’re done.”

Keigo blinks, like he hadn’t expected that as Dabi’s answer. Then he reaches up and cups the villain’s cheeks with both hands.

“Are you okay?” he asks, genuine concern knitting his eyebrows together. Dabi’s lips quirk painfully, and he reaches up a thumb to smooth the wrinkled skin between Keigo’s brows.

“I’m fine, Keigo.”

It’s the same lie his mom had told him at six years old. The same lie that Keigo told him weeks ago. But Dabi can’t tell Keigo the truth. That the hero thinking there’s something wrong when Dabi offers to back off... kind of makes him want to cry.

Keigo continues to trail his fingers over Dabi’s face, the pads of his thumbs bumping over staples in a show of intimate curiosity that neither of them have indulged in for a long time. Even in his self-hatred, Dabi leans into the touch, craving it, despite knowing he doesn’t deserve it.

Without a word, Keigo pulls him down into another kiss, burying his fingers in Dabi’s hair and scraping his fingernails along his scalp. Dabi shivers at the sensation, then shivers harder when Keigo sucks on his lower lip hard enough to feel.

The hero’s calves press into the back of his thighs, drawing him nearer, while Keigo bites at his lips, his chin, his throat. Their cocks brush, and both of them suck in sharp breaths - Keigo from overstimulation, and Dabi from any fucking stimulation at all.

“Dabi,” Keigo whispers, teeth nipping over his collarbone. “Please, Dabi, I want you.”

The sound of a bottle cap being popped is almost inaudible. But the villain definitely feels the hand questing between their bodies - feels the cold slick of lube brush his abdomen before Keigo takes him in hand and makes sure he is thoroughly wet. The sensation of hot skin and cool fluid alone is enough to make his vision narrow and his legs tremble.

Usually there’s the barrier of a condom in the way, but this? This is intensity taken to another level.

“Fuck,” he grits out as Keigo tightens his grip just the slightest bit to really get him going. “Keigo, damn, that’s - hnnggg.” His voice trails off into a growl, and his hips jerk almost painfully as the hero palms the head of his cock, mixing precum with the generous amounts of lube.

“Feels nice, yeah?” Keigo grins mischievously. “Bet it’d feel nicer inside me.”

Dabi snorts, “Don’t have to convince me, pretty bird.”

“Then what are you waiting for?”

For you.

Swallowing, Dabi presses closer, letting Keigo line him up. Aching to fuck into that tight, slick hole, but waiting until Keigo sighs out one more, “please.”

Dabi moves, canting his hips into a gentle roll that presses the tip of his cock into Keigo’s heat. The hero groans beneath him, clinging one hand into Dabi’s hair and guiding his hot length between them. Letting the villain focus on thrusting into him slowly, shallowly, with care.

“Keigo,” Dabi breathes, pressing their lips together once more as heat builds between them. The hero is panting against his mouth, his eyes clenched shut and his brow sweaty. Dabi bites his lip, wondering if he should give the hero another few minutes to come down from his post-orgasm sensitivity. 

But then Keigo lifts his hips to meet Dabi’s thrust, and the villain’s world narrows down to the point where their bodies are joined. 

“Deeper, Dabi, please,” Keigo begs hoarsely. “I’m dying here, man. Please.”

Dabi doesn’t have the breath left to speak, so he just does as he’s told. The next buck of his hips sinks inches deeper, and Keigo throws his head back against the comforter, moaning high and long, voice breaking with each thrust that comes after.

“Fuck!” he curses, picking up his hips again to drive Dabi deeper. “Yes, yes, just like that, oh shit!” 

The villain’s body thrums with desire, spurred on by Keigo’s encouragement as the hero locks powerful thighs around him and yanks on his hair. A groan builds up in the back of his own throat as the hero’s silky, warm walls clench around his cock.

“Feel so good,” he rasps, wanting Keigo to know just how much he wrecks him. “You’re goddamn perfect, fuck.”

Keigo’s eyes fly open, and he stares up at Dabi like he wants to say something - like he wants to deny it - but Dabi doesn’t let him. Instead, he lifts Keigo’s hips and drives in to the hilt, his balls slapping against the hero’s in a way that jolts his entire core. 

Then he does it again.

“Ohh, ohhh, fuck,” Keigo moans, his back bouncing against the mattress as Dabi fucks down into him. “Yes, yes, YES!!”

Dabi shifts himself, pulling his knees under him and dragging Keigo’s legs tighter around his waist, dipping his head to place sloppy kisses on the hero’s chest while his hips buck forward in a mindless, carnal rhythm. The sound of wet lube, pounding flesh, and Keigo’s moans fill the room - fill Dabi’s mind in a way that he never wants to end.

Mouthing his lips against the side of the hero’s sweaty neck, he can feel Keigo’s dick pressing into his abdomen, fully erect once more.

Smiling against hot flesh, Dabi lets go of Keigo’s leg and reaches in between their bodies, hearing Keigo’s gasp a split second before he takes hold of the hero’s reddened cock. 

“SHIT!” Keigo yells, his eyes rolling back in his head while his chest heaves, like he’s desperate for air. Dabi doesn’t let up, though, stroking the hero in time with his own thrusts, and watching the hero writhe.

“You’re so fucking beautiful, Keigo,” Dabi pants into the side of his neck. Then, so quietly he knows the hero won’t hear, he whispers, “‘M sorry it had to be me.”

And I hope this makes up for it.

“Da~ bi!” Keigo cries, his body taut as a bow, his thighs shaking and his voice cracking. Dabi picks up the pace, feeling himself getting closer and knowing he can get Keigo there too.

“C’mon, pretty bird,” he gasps, pumping the hero’s cock with warm fingers and fucking into him so hard that the bed shakes and creaks under them. Keigo’s face is wet with tears and sweat as he pants and curses, his fingers now fisted into the comforter.

“Please, please, please, Dabi!” he sobs. “Ahhh, nnnnnngggg, ah, ah, ah, yes, there, HARDER!”

The headboard slams into the wall with the force of Dabi’s next thrust. Then it does again, and again, and again, while their pace reaches a fever pitch, and Keigo screams Dabi’s name.

“FUCK, DABI!!”

Keigo comes hard into Dabi’s hand, his whole body curved in and clenching while his wings fling out wide in ecstasy. Dabi is fucking lightheaded, between the sudden rush of fresh air and Keigo clamping down on his dick so hard it almost hurts. Fuck, it’s all he can do to push in deeper and come with an almost crippling level of pleasure. His whole body shakes with the force of his orgasm - painting the hero’s insides, chanting his name like a prayer - until he collapses, barely catching himself on one elbow.

“Keigo,” he gasps once more, barely coherent enough to keep pumping the hero’s cock until there’s no cum left. When he’s sure pleasure is about to give way to pain, Dabi breathes out a sigh of satisfaction and stops moving, while Keigo gasps underneath him. 

Holy shit.

The hero’s walls spasm around Dabi’s cock, and with the rush of warmth that slides past Dabi’s softening dick, he’s pretty sure he’s spent too. Fuck, but they’ve never gone this hard before.

They lay there for a couple of minutes, breathing in sync, coming down from their highs. Dabi releases Keigo’s dick, and the hero sucks in a sharp breath. Not that the villain can blame him, as he trails his fingers up through the mess across Keigo’s abdomen. Two orgasms like that would leave anyone sensitive. 

Normally, he’d be fucking smug about that accomplishment. Normally, he’d want to rub it in the bird’s face - tell him that he sure is eager for villain dick.

Now though? Now, he just wishes he could do more. Say more. Be more.

But again, his isn’t a life where wishes come true, is it? 

“Dabi,” Keigo croaks, still sounding winded. Sounding… vulnerable - choked up. Dabi grits his teeth and sits up enough to pull out, and whatever the hero wants to say is cut off with a gasp. Keigo’s back arches at the loss, and Dabi can see his hole clenching around nothing. The animal part of his brain wants to refill that space with his fingers, his tongue, a plug, something, until he’s recovered. 

Instead, he pulls back to sit on the edge of the bed, watching as Keigo’s dilated eyes track his movements.

The hero is too smart not to know that something has changed. Dabi just hopes that he’s done a good enough job that he won’t ask. Won’t dig down, and turn up the loose dirt where Dabi has buried his anger and hurt and rage and… everything else he feels about the person who’s going to stab him in the back.

Just take the sex, Dabi thinks at him. Turn that calculating brain off for a few more damn minutes, and just enjoy this.

Keigo sits up too, so that they’re barely a foot from each other, both covered in each other’s desires, their bodies worn from taking pleasure in one another. He sits there, studying Dabi’s face.

And he reaches out.

----

He looks tired, Keigo thinks, fingers moving without a thought on his part, wanting only to comfort and smooth away the pain he sees writ across Dabi’s brow. 

For a moment, Dabi allows it, closing his eyes with a sigh as Keigo’s fingers card through his sweaty bangs while his thumb smooths out the lines on his forehead.

Then the villain pulls away, apparently done with letting Keigo have his way, though there’s still no agitation in his movements. In fact, Dabi moves like his bones are made of shattered glass, and he’s trying not to cut himself.

“Think that’s all I got in me for today,” the villain murmurs, making to stand up. Keigo catches his hand.

“Wait,” he says thickly, unsure all over again what he can say to make Dabi stay. Like it’s the week prior, and Dabi was looking at him with cool contempt once more - his walls too high even to fly over.

Dabi doesn’t look contemptuous now, but the hurricane of emotion going on in his bright blue eyes is still daunting. Still something that Keigo has no idea how to deal with, especially because, if he didn’t know any better…

It feels like he’s saying goodbye, Keigo thinks, heart beating so hard against his throat that he barely gets the next words out.

“Stay,” he whispers. “You said I could have you to myself for the rest of the day, right?” 

This is dangerous, Hawks.

His fingers press into Dabi’s wrist as he shoves the voice of his handler away, feeling kind of sick that their influence had led him to this point to begin with.

It’s not just for the mission anymore, he thinks, despair and desire slamming against each other with each ba-dum of his heart. 

Dabi gazes down at him, half risen from the bed and looking as torn as Keigo feels. In the end though, he drops his eyes to Keigo’s hand on his wrist, staring at it until the hero’s hand falls away. 

“You could have me,” Dabi says, voice softer than Keigo’s ever heard it. “If you wanted me.”

'Not just my body, or the connections I can give you,' he seems to say. ' All of me.'

I do, Keigo thinks bleakly. Fuck me, but I really do.

“Please,” he tries once more, this time knowing he can’t say what he wants aloud. Knowing that to speak those words into existence would be to hurt them both more than he can bear.

The villain just smiles at him, a tragic, broken thing that pulls at his staples.

“It’s alright, Keigo,” he says, pressing his own palm against Keigo’s cheek. “You’ll be fine.”

The hero leans his cheek into Dabi’s hand, holding him there for just a little bit longer, and fighting the heat the presses against the backs of his eyes.

I won’t be, though, he thinks, trying not to chase the villain when he draws his hand away. Instead, he watches as Dabi cleans himself up and gets dressed again. Watches as the villain gives him one last look and a crooked smile that could mean anything.

Watches as Dabi walks out his door with a soft click that sounds as final as a gun being cocked.

He barely even notices the tears when they start to fall.