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Nesting Instinct

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He ends up at yours. Drunk and lurching, fumbling with the spare key he never gave back (you never asked for it). After listening to him paw at the door for a solid minute you give in and open it up.

His smile is languid, divine. “Hey there.”

He’s not exactly handsome in this moment -- shoulders hunched, a fine sheen of oil on his face. His hair is sticking out in all directions. He must have been pulling at it all night. He’s still beautiful, in that familiar, intimate way. Seeing him darken your doorway, even a little fucked up, is like waking up on your side of the bed, like the smell of your favorite soap. It makes you want to grab him, pull him in for a long, slow kiss. 

You’ve done this song and dance enough to have a routine. Mostly it’s about herding Keigo through his pre-bed routine, avoiding casual groping hands and puppy dog pouts. But it’s different, tonight. You’re not supposed to have a routine anymore. 

He squeezes past you, uninvited. He seats himself heavily on your couch, dropping his shoes and coat on the floor. His wings take up the whole space, which has been endearing and inconvenient in turn. But you don’t have time to ruminate as his head lolls, chin dipping.

You come up before him, take his shoulder in your hands and shake. “Hey. You can’t sleep here, dumbass. You’re gonna be sore in the morning.”

He blinks back into lucidity. His hand rises between you, a single finger stroking the bridge of your nose. 

“You’re so pretty,” he murmurs. 

You roll your eyes. You shake him again, just to hide your own nerves. “Up. To the shower with you -- you’re filthy.”

He grins. “ Saucy .” 

“Up. Up . C’mon.” You wrap your arms around his middle and heave, but he still has to do most of the work.

You end up dangling on your toes, held up by his frame. His arms wrap around you in turn, and your utilitarian hold becomes a hug.

“Let’s just go to bed, baby,” he says. His lips are pressed against the spot between your eyebrows. Neither of you are especially tall, but you have just the right height disparity for forehead kisses, as you’ve learned.

You steel yourself against the familiarity, his warmth and his scent all around you like a deep breath. It's been weeks since he last touched you like this. It’s been weeks since he touched you at all. You push him away, toward the bathroom. 

“Shower, snack, bed,” you order.

He pouts. “Join me?”

You don’t. And things happen just as you dictated. He rinses off and the two of you eat junk food on the floor of your room. You tell him about work. He tells you about the hero conference that had driven him to drink.

“Two full days of them talking and saying absolutely nothing.” He throws an arm over his eyes for the drama of it. He spits, “Cookie cutter.”

You reach out to flick a stray crumb off his thigh. “I bet it’s good PR.”

“For them, maybe.” He goes quiet then, looking down at his hands folded in his lap. 

Hawks was trending on socials today. Not for particularly nice reasons. He’d said something that sparked controversy, made the old timers and purists seethe. Endeavor was especially offended by it, and he made his stance very publicly clear. Keigo was forced to very publicly defend himself. 

“I know they all hate me,” he murmurs. “I just can’t seem to help myself.”

The booze is wearing off. He has an incredible metabolism, which is good for snacking, bad for staying buzzed. What’s left is a thin afterglow, a weariness beginning to settle like fog. 

Normally he lets things like this roll right off him. But the separation and the liquor are getting to him. He’s —lonely. He was before you knew him, too. And now you’re something familiar, someplace detached from the firm lines and strict orders of the hero business. 

“Then don’t,” you say, slightly aggrieved. Not at him. Or— maybe? You don’t know. You’re just upset, about a lot of things. Everything, maybe. “Who cares what they think?”

He hums, taking a moment to fold the chip bag closed, reseal the sour gummies. Then his eyes are on you again. “What do you think?”

You shake your head. “Who cares what I think?”

You don’t like the perceptive gleam in his eyes, but he doesn’t push. Instead he reaches into his pocket. It’s a pair of sweats he’d forgotten to take back. He’d swapped his menagerie of items, his phone, a pack of gum, a couple of stray feathers, into them after his shower.

“I got something for you,” he says, pulling it out, presenting it to you. 

It's small, fitting nicely in the palm of his hand. It’s a little crystal statue, a bird, a dove you think. You’re sure it’s real gemstone, which makes your cheeks heat. Expensive . “I can’t take this.”

The little bird hangs in the space between you, a standoff. He’s looking at you, you’re looking at it. It’s beautiful, really. Your favorite color, small enough to not be too gaudy. It would have made you smile so big, just a few weeks ago.

He says, “Why not?”

“You know why.” You stand, collecting the remnants of your feast and returning them to the kitchen, just to get away. 

You join Kiego in the bathroom to clean up before bed. His toothbrush is still here, you haven’t even thought about tossing it. When you return to the bedroom, you notice the little bird is on your nightstand. 

Hawks brushes past you and climbs into the bed. “Keep it,” he says, following your gaze. “Please? I’ve had a bad day.”

You sigh, acquiescing for now. You’ll have to return it eventually. You’ll have to return everything. There was a bit of moving out that occurred after the initial conversation, but it was mostly superficial. He took a few of his shirts, a book, the frozen pizza you guys were going to make for dinner that night. Most of his stuff stayed. 

You still have a dresser drawer full of his clothes. His body wash and shampoo are on the shelf in your shower. The bed you two are sharing tonight was a gift from him, big enough to fit both of you comfortably, unlike your old one. 

You’d kept the trinkets he’d given you as well, little shiny things that he brought to you at random. There were so many of them they’ve become decoration at this point, precious jewelry hung throughout your apartment like garland. Silks and wool draped over your desk chair. You don’t know what to do about the clothes he bought, so ingrained in your weekly rotation that you can’t remember what you wore before.

He did it on purpose, you think. It’s a bird thing. A nesting thing. When it’s all gone the space will feel less like his, less like home. You’ll get around to it. Eventually.

You crawl into bed as well. His arms instantly go around you, and he wiggles between your thighs. His face rests against your lower belly. He noses up your top to press a kiss to your bare skin.

“Aren’t you forgetting something?” you ask. You shouldn’t be doing this. It oversteps so many boundaries. Still, you make no effort to move him. His weight is too good, too solid. You feel tethered for the first time in days. 

“Hawks mate for life,” he mumbles against you.

Your thumbnail traces his hairline, gently parting through the soft strands. “You’re a person,” you say. “Not a bird.”

Though you’re not really sure how deep the divide is. He certainly has bird-like qualities. The wings, the eyes, the soft cooing in the back of his throat when the two of you are bundled up tight and completely at ease. 

He’s said it enough times for the words to stick in your mind like a song, like a mantra. Hawks mate for life . But you could never tell if he’s joking, if it’s just one of those buttery nothings he whispers to you the morning after. He’s good at that, softening you. He likes superlatives; you’re the best , the most beautiful , the only one . It’s easy to get swallowed up by, that fluffy, facile affection. 

It was never that deep, you and him. He was away a lot, and you had friends to keep you busy.  It was just fun, something nice and decent and good. Someone to text after long days, or to fall asleep with when it’s cold. But… that could be anyone, right?

You looked it up once. You came across a NatGeo article about redtail hawks, a two page spread with massive birds filling up the sky. They are, in fact, monogamous. Most of the time.

When one of a pair dies, or they get irreparably separated, they’ll move on, find another. Like every creature, they don’t extend themselves past the impossible. 

Keigo could find someone else. Someone better suited to everything he has to be. It wouldn’t even be hard -- he’s so, so easy to love.

But nothing is dead. And you’re both right here. 


He wakes before you, as is typical. His body clock is so precise he never sleeps in, even when he’s exhausted. It breaks your heart, a little.

You find him in the kitchen. He’s leaned against the counter. He comes to you immediately, passing a mug into your hands. You take a sip. You’re a little frustrated that he still knows how you take your coffee. Of course, it hasn’t been that long, and his memory is incredibly sharp. But you wish he’d make this easier for you. 

He’s ready to leave, already in his boots and off-duty jacket. You reach out with your free hand to smooth out the collar.

“Thanks, angel,” he says.

“Don’t call me that.” You press your fist against his sternum, not pushing or pulling, not quite sure what you want. 

He looks at your hand on him. He looks at you. “I have to go away for a while.”

You release him. You take a long sip of your coffee, it’s perfect. Your smile is meant to be off-handed and droll, but you’re pretty sure it comes out as more of a grimace. “Yeah,” you say. “You always do.”


A while is a month and four days. Not that you’re keeping track. 

You do manage to pack up some of the things he left at your place, in that time. They fill the box your modem came in, just a bit smaller than a shoebox -- but at least its something. It sits by the door, waiting for Keigo. 

Your life is simple during that time. Work is going well. You fought with your mom but made up almost instantly. You try online dating. It’s okay. You meet a nice man with the same taste in movies as you. You agree to go for coffee, next weekend. But he’s the last thing on your mind when you get Keigo’s texts.

Birdie: hey can you come over?

Birdie: no pressure or anything haha

Biride: but…

Then, a minute later--

Birdie: nevermind.

Birdie: i’m sorry angel

You’re there within the hour. 

And thank god, because… he looks like absolute shit. He’s been beaten to a pulp, his face bruised in multiple places, his ankle busted. Some of his hair has been torn out at the temple. There are scratch marks all over his body, from the terrain and someone’s nails. 

His eyes are glassy when he answers the door. “I didn’t know if you’d wanna come.”

You drop the bags of groceries you’re holding and pull him down to you. You squeeze him so tight you must be aggravating his wounds, but he holds you even tighter. 

He wants to help you make dinner. When you firmly deny him he insists on monitoring, being just a foot behind you at all times in case you need something from the top shelf, or if your arm gets tired from stirring. 

When there’s nothing left for him to do, he hovers. You’re bent over the stove, watching the food sear. He’s at your back, his fingers trailing up and down your bare arm, his touch barely there, as light as a wraith. 

“I almost didn’t make it in time,” he says.

You never ask about his missions. You’re not supposed to. It’s all need to know, very secret. You try not to let yourself tense up as you keep cooking. 

“It was a girl. A young woman. Frail looking thing, just…” His hand moves to grip your arm, his fingers digging into the soft fat there. “She reminded me of you.”

Your meal is starting to burn. You can’t move. You can’t look at him as you say, “I’m right here.”

“Are you?” 

You start to turn. His grip goes slack. He pulls away.

“Sorry,” he says. “Fuck. Please don’t be mad.”

You grab him before he can get too far. Your hold is gentle on his wrist. “I’m not mad.” 

“I--” he huffs, the words not coming to them as easily as usual. “I wanted something nice. After all of it. Wanted to feel good for a minute.”

And you understand. You’re familiar. Safe. And you’re willing to be that for him because he needs it.

“I can give you more than a minute,” you tell him.

After dinner you fill the tub. It’s huge, made special to fit his wings, and it takes a while to get the water level to where you want it. You and Keigo perch on the rim, silent, stewing in the burgeoning steam. 

You drop a bath bomb in, one of the special glittery ones you bought together last year. You gesture for him to stand so you can help him out of his clothes. 

You don’t protest as he starts to strip you as well, or when he pulls you down into the water with him. His chest is firm against your back. He runs hotter than the average person, and it’s a pleasant extension of the warm of the bath. His hands find your hair, teasing it into curls, untangling the knots. 

It’s another one of his bird habits. Preening. He’s fastidious about the way he looks, and by extension you. Not that he wanted you to look conventionally attractive at all times, he just wanted to see himself in your appearance. 

You feel a gentle tugging at the hair at the base of your neck. He’s braiding it, thin and hidden. No one would know it’s there but you and him, and when he let’s it drop onto your shoulder your hand goes to it instantly. You’re going to take it out, undo his work. You’re going to keep your boundaries. 

But your fingers don’t dismantle. Instead they run over the small grooves of the braid, over and over. 

Keigo leans forward to rest his chin on your shoulder, letting out a long sigh. His fingers stroke the soft skin of your stomach, not with any purpose, just to feel. He murmurs,“Thank you.”


You forgot you put the reminder in your calendar. Tomorrow. Heat .

You’d started dating just after his last one -- you’re pretty sure it was part of the catalyst for you getting together to begin with, but you never asked. He told you, fairly recently. You lay together on his massive couch, eating ice cream while some fantastically trashy romcom played in the background. You were, frankly, fascinated by the concept. You maybe asked a few too many questions, but he was so relieved you weren’t freaking out he was happy to indulge you.

You’d been -- looking forward to it, actually. You stare at the notification on your lock screen for the entire train ride home after work.

You wonder -- is someone else going to help him through it?

The thought actually brings you to tears, for the first time since you had the conversation. The next day you can’t stop thinking about it. In a moment of weakness, you text him: Are you okay?

It’s the first time you’ve messaged him in a week. The last time was to ask him to come pick up another box of items. You ended up eating take out on the floor instead. He left his coat behind, on purpose, you think.

The answer: No. But he doesn’t want to pressure you into taking care of him, not for this. Your text honestly makes things worse, reminds him that you’re out there, away from him. He can’t help it. He knows it will make you come to him, but that’s it’s own sick pleasure.

Birdie: i feel like im dying.

So you go. 

Keigo told you, back on the couch, that he would get a little crazy, a little bit feral. You knew what to expect when you stepped out of the elevator and onto the floor of his highrise.

You don’t even get the chance to knock before he’s yanking you inside, pressing you up against the door, slotting his entire body against yours. 

“Can I fuck you?” he asks, straight to the point. He’s already grinding against your thigh. His body is like a furnace. He’s naked. 

Your answer is to start stripping.

He’s gentler than you expect, even as he grabs and drags you into the position he wants, simply picking you up and carrying you to his bed. 

The apartment is chaos, but not particularly dirty. He’s got bags and bags filled with new, clean sheets, and ready to eat food. Stuff for after, too, warming lotions and drinks full of electrolytes. And there’s stuff he wouldn’t admit he bought on the slim hope you would end up here, fuzzy socks with your favorite animal on them, the brand of face masks you like, your comfort candy.

You take this all in negligibly. You’re focused on Keigo, the wild, blown out look in his eyes. His normally sharp pupils are now perfectly round, and a little hazy. He catches you staring. He doesn’t grin, like he would have before.

“You’re staying?” 

It’s more of a demand than anything, but you nod. “As long as you need me to.”

That does something to him. His expression goes a little bit mean, brows drawn, mouth a firm line. He tosses you onto the mattress without fanfare, naked and small in the enormous bed. 

His touch is firm, but not painful as he pries your legs apart. He buries his face there. He spends an embarrassingly long time just breathing , lips parted, cheeks flushed. 

“Missed this,” he murmurs, and his lips are so close to your sex that you can feel the words as they’re formed, can feel his long, shuddering sigh. When his tongue teases against his teeth, you feel that too. 

Then you feel a lot more. 

He’s gone down on you many ( many ) times, but never like this. There’s no art to it, no seduction. It’s all spit and tongue and wide open mouth, trying to get at as much as he can, trying to take in as much of you as possible. His nose bumps your clit as his tongue trips along your opening, licking and licking and licking.

You can’t keep up. Keigo is just something that’s happening to you at this point, and you’re swept away with it without any control, a simple conduit for all of the sloppy pleasure he can dish out. 

Drool is pooling in the bed beneath you. The air is humid with both of your sweat. His hands are like brands on your inner thighs, so, so hot. 

Your peak comes fast and hard, a full bodied thing that leaves your limbs trembling, your legs squeezing around his temples as he groans . “Fuck. Yes , give it to me baby.”

When you’re all wrung out he pulls back just a hair. He meets your eyes over the hills of your body, but his expression isn’t the self-satisfied grin you’re used to. His face is glassy with your slick and his own spit, his eyes still wide, pupils blown. His mouth is just slightly parted, canines peeking out. He must be uncomfortable. He was grinding against the bed but he still hasn’t gotten off yet. His grip on you is a little too tight, his hands digging into your waist. 

He looks -- anxious. Incredibly aroused, yes, but there’s something fragile about him too. 

You raise a shaky hand to smooth back his bangs. He leans into the touch, softening. Coping. It’s been so long since you’ve heard that soft, silken noise. 

“Missed it too,” you say.

He freezes. He takes a long, slow breath. Then he lowers his head again, even more ravenous, even less restrained. 

He brings you off twice more. By then your body is pure mush, and you let him maneuver you, simply pick you up and turn you as he pleases. You end up on top of him, sitting in his lap on his cock, his strong arms the only thing keeping you from collapsing, his hips rolling against your own. 

You think it must be hard for him, not to just pound into you. You try to rise on quivering legs to give him the room to do just that, but his arms lock around you, keeping your hips flush. 

Stay ,” he hisses.

So you do.

It becomes a mutual grind, his cock barely leaving you with every roll of his hips. Still, he manages to come twice, and then again, as you lay repose against his massive amount of pillows, just rubbing against your folds, holding onto your hand so tight, looking at your flush face as you stare back. 

He’s beautiful, wild. His wings arc so high they graze the ceiling, twitching in time with his length. His gooey expression so fiercely fond, so incredibly tender as he loses himself against you again. 

You take the next day off of work, to see him through the rest of his rut. Then the next, as well, when he tells you pampering is mandatory. 

He hardly lets you do anything. He washes you thoroughly until every inch of skin is soft and clean and smells like lavender. He even feeds you, insisting you let him hand choice bits of food directly to your mouth. He watches you chew, eyes riveted to your mouth. He swipes away stray crumbs from your lips with his thumb.

The intimacy disturbs you. It feels so good to be like this with him, and it shouldn’t. It isn’t supposed to anymore.

“You should find someone to help you through it,” you tell him. “I know it’s painful.”

You try to make your voice flippant, casual. But even you can hear the tremor of your tone, the nagging of doubt. 

His smile doesn’t reach his eyes. “There’s no one else,” he says. 


It happens after a night out with your friends. You’re on the pleasant side of drunk, not nauseous or dizzy, but warm and spacey. It’s why you don’t notice the man who’s been trailing you.

You left your group a few blocks ago, turning towards home. To get there you have to walk for a few minutes through the shopping district, which is abandoned and dark at this hour. It’s easy enough for the man to grab you, haul you into a dank alley.

Keigo is there in under a minute. You don’t ask him how, or how he knew, just cling to him as he flies you to his apartment, let him take care of you as you come down from the adrenaline.

Later, in the morning, when you feel less like a ghost of yourself, he tells you. He’d heard your scream through the feather tucked in your purse. 

One of the things you never got around to giving back.


The coffee shop is nice, the same way all coffee shops are.

It’s incredibly rude of you, but you keep checking your phone. Keigo and you have been bantering all day. 

He texts you more now, even more than he did when you were together. On days when he’ll be too busy to talk, he lets you know. He never did that before, just let your texts sit unopened for days straight. 

Your date doesn’t seem to mind. You’ve been out a couple of times, but he hasn’t tried to get into your pants. He hasn’t even tried to kiss you. You don’t want him to.

He’s kind and smart. Funny, too. You think you could love him, the way you could love anyone. Simply and honestly, without much passion. Not like Keigo. 

You bring him back to yours. He knows not to go to the bedroom, but sits with you on the couch. He listens while you vent about your ex. He sympathizes, he passes you a tissue, when you get a little teary eyed. 

You’re interrupted by the slam of your front door. Keigo appears in your living room, weighed down by the bags of takeout he was going to surprise you with. He already knows someone else is here with you -- his feathers picked up the noises. 

He’s already prepared for your dumbstruck look. 

Hawks ,” you say. Just that. An exclamation of surprise.

It makes his bones feel like lead. It makes him want to scream. He knows why -- you’re protecting him, his identity. But you haven’t called him that in the longest time. He can’t even remember it.

“You’ve been seeing someone else ?” he hisses.

Your date perks up from behind you. “I’m sorry, are you in a relationship?”

“No,” you say, at the same time Keigo says, “Yes.”

“We’re broken up,” you assure him.

“Whose decision was that?” Keigo snaps. “Not mine .”

Your date excuses himself quietly. Neither you or Keigo notice. 

“I don’t want to do this,” you say. You fold your arms over your stomach. “I can’t fight with you. I hate it.”

“Too bad,” he returns. “We’re going to fucking talk about this and we’re going to do it now.”

“Talk about what?” You rise up off the couch. You’re yelling. “You agreed to this! You said it made sense.”

He follows you as you pace, but you don’t have a destination in mind. There’s nowhere to go. 

“You were crying,” he says. “What was I supposed to do?”

You gape. “Take me seriously, maybe?”

“I did! I do. But, fuck,” he reaches out for you, then thinks better of it. “You’re the love of my life, what am I supposed to do?” 

“Keigo, what am I supposed to do. You always leave.” 

But I always come back.” He’s yelling now, too. “That’s what we do, that’s how it works.”

You can’t come up with a response, too shocked by the truth in his words. You cut things off because you were always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Every moment together was just a precursor to time spent apart. Just biding time until the next wait. 

But—it hasn’t been like that. Not recently. You talk all the time. It feels like you’re hardly apart. The natural state of things is your togetherness, not the loneliness. He always comes back.

He’s still talking. “We’re basically still together anyway. I fucking drove you to the airport last week—wait, don’t cry. Fuck. I’m sorry. Don’t cry baby, I’ll make it better, I swear.”

He does grab you, then. Wrapping you up in his arms, his wings cocooning you both. You always loved this, with him. The curtain of feathers keeping the whole world out, just the two of you, alone. 

“Why are you crying?” he murmurs. His hand cups your nape, keeping your cheek against his collar bone. 

Your hands fist in his shirt. “I just missed you,” you say. 

You don’t have to elaborate. He gets it, he always gets it. He gets you. 

“You really want to try again?” your voice is muffled against his skin. 

His hand threads through your hair, stroking, pulling gently, the way you like. His fingers snag on something—the little braid he left, weeks ago. You never took it out. 

“Angel,” he says. “I never stopped trying.”