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if we could always be so new

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His head pounds.

He squints his eyes open, and the light makes the pain in his head throb. He grimaces and waits through a wave of nausea before trying again.

He's in an alley, slumped against a brick wall. The tall walls prevent the sun from hitting him directly, and he's slightly chilled.

There are no other people around, but there are signs of a struggle; trash bag torn open, blood splattered on the asphalt, newly broken glass. His body aches, so he assumes he had a part in this theoretical struggle.

He puts one hand against the wall to push himself into a standing position and boy, those bruises are no joke. One of his ribs might be broken. A few of his feathers are bent awkwardly, others snapped in half. Several litter the ground where he sat, beyond repair.

He doesn't know where he is. He looks to the left and the right of him, trying to decide which direction he should try first—when he realizes he also doesn't know who he is.

That doesn't seem right. He should know who he is, right? He considers the question for a few moments; shouts Who am I? into the void of his own brain, hoping it'll conjure up an answer. It doesn't.

He pats down his various pockets, wincing at a newly discovered bruise on his hip. He finds a wallet. It's black with a red flame holographic design stitched on top, arranged in the shape of a face. The mustache is a nice touch.

If someone beat him up in an alley, why didn't they take his wallet?

He flips the wallet open. It's got just over 30,000 yen, a punch card for 'Torikizoku', a black card with the letters 'KFC', a receipt for some kind of feather oil, and... Oh! An ID.

The card has a picture of a man's dully smiling face and says, 'Professional Hero License'. The 'Full Name' field is empty, as is the birth date, but the 'Address' and 'Hero Name' fields aren't. The blond man in the picture lives in Fukuoka and his hero name is 'Hawks'. He flips the card around to look at the back. There's no additional information.

Is that him? Is he 'Hawks'? He looks at the smiling picture and feels his own face form a grimace. This dude looks like such a faker. Well, if he is Hawks... at least he's hot.

He should probably find a mirror.

To the left is the sound of traffic; to his right is a large, gray structure peeking over the tops of the other buildings. He goes right. The alley twists a bit, finally opening up to a wider street lined with shops.

With the lack of heat emanating from the concrete and asphalt, he'd say it's early midday. Only a few people are out on the sidewalks. Absorbed in their own lives, they pay him no mind as he walks over to a shop window to get a look at himself.

The reflection in the glass confirms that he is, in fact, the hot faker in the photo. Guess that makes him Hawks. His reflection shows a nasty purple bruise on his right cheek, damaged blood vessels spidering up to his eye and temple. So much for his modeling career—no wait, he's a, what was it, hero? He has a 'hero license', anyway.

The tall building in the distance likely holds more people. Someone might be able to... help him? Does he need help? He doesn't think so. Given a hot meal and a nap, he'll probably be fine—but he heads in that direction regardless. As he draws closer, the signs tell him he's approaching the train station. Several shops and restaurants reside the same building. He strolls inside, immediately noticing an advertisement for a KFC on the third floor. A restaurant.

He remembers the black card with the letters 'KFC'.

He is kind of hungry, and he doesn't recall that he has anywhere else to be. He consults a building map and makes his way to the KFC.

Inside, the cashier smiles, scans his black KFC card, and hands him an entire bucket of chicken. Hawks, impressed, figures she must be able to read minds.

He takes the bucket reverently and heads deeper into the restaurant to find a place to sit.

The booth he settles into is relatively isolated. He's excited to enjoy his first meal in who knows how long, but the other restaurant patrons keep throwing glances in his direction and whispering. It puts him off balance mentally, but he decides the attention must be related to the giant red wings on his back. They don't seem to be common to the area.

He's halfway through the chicken bucket when something inside his jacket buzzes. He startles and drops the chicken leg he was holding. He wipes his fingers on a napkin and starts patting himself down.

In a hidden pocket lining the inside of his jacket is a sleek black phone. It unlocks when he puts the pad of his thumb to the small circle on the bottom front of the screen.

He's got one new unread text from someone called 'Crispy Cream'. He opens up the message. It reads, where the hell are you, so Hawks immediately clicks the call button.

Whoever's on the other end doesn't answer on the first call—but Hawks has the time stamps to prove they just messaged him. He calls again.

They pick up.

"What," snaps an angry male voice. Raspy, like he competes in chain smoking competitions.

"Hey," Hawks responds, aiming for casual. "'Sup?"

"Why are you calling me," the person on the other end grits out.

"Well," says Hawks, thinking fast, "we were s'pose to meet, right? Sorry about that! Hit a snag. Where were we meeting again?"

"The same place we always meet, Hawks!" the guy says angrily. "What the hell is wrong with you."

Phew, his name really is Hawks, confirmed. Excellent. Kinda dumb name, though.

"Oh, you know, the usual I'm sure," Hawks says. "Hey listen, I really am sorry about today, I'll make it up to you," probably, "but would you mind doing me a favor? I think I've lost the key to my—" house? apartment? "—place, do you happen to have a spare?"

The man on the other end is quiet for a very long time, and Hawks begins to sweat.

"Who the fuck is this," the man threatens. Hawks jerks the phone away from his ear and hits the 'end call' button. The phone immediately rings again.

'Crispy Cream' is calling.

Hawks presses and holds the power off button. The screen goes dark and the buzzing stops.

So much for that plan. Hawks thinks about his next move and gets back to work on his bucket of chicken.

He's finished the whole bucket, is licking his fingers and considering where he should go—when a tall, intimidating man dressed in all black makes an entrance. The hood on the man's jacket is pulled over his head, and the zipper is done up past his chin. Hawks can see some black hair poking out, a pair of mirrored sunglasses, and no skin whatsoever.

The mind-reading cashier attempts to take the man's order. The man ignores her, craning his head all around. He stops, his hood angled towards Hawks. Hawks looks away quickly and pretends he wasn't staring.

Out of the corner of his eye, Hawks sees the figure in black draw closer. He glances over surreptitiously, only to see the dude marching straight at him.

The guy stands at the end of Hawks' booth silently, effectively trapping Hawks in. Hawks looks down at his empty chicken bucket as though engrossed by its emptiness.

The guy sits down on the other side of the table.

Wincing, Hawks looks up to see the man pull his zipper down to reveal his scowling face; and boy, what a face. Half of it is covered with purple, mottled skin and there are staples in many places staples should not be. Even his ears are purple—are those piercings?

The guy takes off his sunglasses and throws them on the table and jeeeesus. His face physically hurts to look at. Why would you stick metal that close to your eye?

Assuming Hawks' mother warned him about people, this man is definitely one of those people.

"I don't have any money," Hawks explains, "all I've got is this KFC card, and—"

"Someone sure did a number on you," the guy interrupts, not sounding particularly sympathetic.

The statement confuses Hawks. Then he remembers his shiner.

"Yeah," Hawks agrees. "I got mugged."

"You," says the guy, employing strange emphasis, "got mugged."

Hawks shrugs.

The guy looks down at the table, seeming to note Hawks' dead phone and the empty bucket of chicken.

"Was this your snag?" the man asks lightly, before dipping into a menacing growl. "You were hungry? I'm starting to think our little arrangement isn't so important to you after all, hero."

In the middle of the low, gravelly threat, Hawks puts a name to the voice. "Oh!" he says. "Crispy Cream! Good to see you! I presume."

Crispy Cream's snarl freezes in place and droops a little. He leans back in the booth, slowly. Casually.

Hawks feels distinctly uncomfortable.

Crispy Cream raises a single judgmental eyebrow.

"How've you been?" Hawks tries.

Crispy Cream remains silent.

"How are... the kids?" he tries again.

Crispy Cream's expression doesn't change.

Hawks panics. "Okay, alright, jeez, you caught me, I..." Hawks hesitates; gulps; tumbles forward. "Have no idea who you are." The eyebrow is still raised. "...Sorry?"

Crispy Cream doesn't say anything for a long moment. The mental pressure it creates makes Hawks want to babble, but he manages to hold his tongue this time.

"I can't tell if you're screwing with me or what," Crispy Cream drawls.

"It's the 'or what'," Hawks offers.

The man crosses his arms and looks distinctly unimpressed. "Assuming I believe you," he says, sounding like he doesn't believe anything, "what are you doing here?"

Oh good, an easy one. "I was hungry. I have that KFC card."

"Okay. Sure. What were you doing before you were here?"

A little harder, but... "Taking a nap in a back alley." Nailed it.

Crispy Cream makes a face. "God, why? Never mind, before that, then."

"I was... Getting beat up in the alley." Hawks points to exhibit A, his face. "My ribs hurt pretty bad, too."

"Before that!" Crispy Cream snaps.

"Uh," Hawks says. "Uhh," Hawks says again.

Crispy Cream groans and covers his face with his hand. The motion reveals more staples and purple skin littering his wrist and Hawks wonders morbidly, How far do they go?

"Jesus Christ," the man complains, "were you hit with an amnesia quirk?"

Hawks eyes grow wide. "Is that a thing? That would explain the lack of head injuries."

Crispy Cream glares at Hawks for a few silent moments. "...I still can't tell if you're messing with me. Your face is just so..." He trails off, grimacing.

"Enchanting?" Hawks supplies, batting his eyelashes. "Lovable?"

"Insufferable," Crispy Cream corrects. "Punchable. Conceited."

Rude. "Wow, like yours is any better."

Hawks realizes a second too late how bad that sounded.

The man snarls and looks like he's gearing up for a fight—then abruptly relaxes. He looks thoughtful, and Hawks doesn't like it one bit.

"I don't need this today," Crispy Cream muses to himself, then smiles, shark-like. "We can 'catch up' later." He shuffles his way out of the booth.

He looks down at Hawks, amused, as he zips his jacket back up.

"Good luck," Crispy Cream sing-songs as he waves. "Hope you fall in a manhole and die."

"Wait!" says Hawks, and he leaps up to grab the man's wrist before he walks away. "Can't you like, give me any clues?"

Crispy Cream tries to tug his hand away. Hawks holds firm. Crispy Cream huffs. "What kind of clues?"

"Uh." Hawks wracks his brain for things he should want to know about himself. "I'm not sure. You tell me?"

"You're 'not sure'."

"Come on, give me something!" Hawks whines.

Crispy Cream rolls his eyes and shakes his arm vigorously. Hawks leaves the limb loose, lets himself be shaken around, but doesn't let go.

"Go home," Crispy Cream says. "Lay low while you wait for it to wear off. Stop bothering me."

Hawks agrees that this sounds like a very good plan. "Okay, great, just one teeny tiny issue."

Crispy Cream sighs deeply, but his arm hangs limp. "What now."

Hawks takes a breath. "Where is it, exactly, that I live?"

There's a brief, suspicious pause, where Crispy Cream should be saying words. After a beat, he says, "How should I know."

"You texted me! We're—" friends? Hoo boy, that sure seems like the wrong word, too late, "—friends?"


Hawks' palms start to sweat and he redoubles his grip on Crispy Cream's wrist.

"Okay, but all I have is this KFC black card and my hero license, and—"

"Your hero license?" Crispy Cream's eyes glint. He angles his body back towards Hawks slowly. "Well, why didn't you say so," he says, on the edge of too-pleased.

Crispy Cream sits back down in the booth, malicious grin not quite concealed. "Come on now," he cajoles, "let's see it."

This appears suddenly to be a very bad idea, but Hawks doesn't have any others. He pulls out his wallet (Crispy Cream makes a face at the design, but that's obviously because he has no taste) and fishes out the card in question.

He considers the license for a moment. The picture on the ID isn't great, but he's sure he's had worse photos. When he looks up, Crispy Cream's expression is reminiscent of a piranha.

Grimacing, Hawks hands the square of plastic over. Crispy Cream receives it greedily. He grins as he skims over the text on the card. His eyes stop and expression dies.

"Where the fuck is your name." Crispy Cream flips the card over, then back again. He frowns. "Where the fuck is your date of birth."

Crispy Cream throws the card down on the table in disgust.

"What kind of fucking bullshit ID is this," he gripes bitterly. Hawks shrugs, then leans forward.

He points at the address printed on the front of the card and looks up at Crispy Cream. "How about this? Do you know where this is?"

Crispy Cream grunts unhappily but digs around in his pocket and pulls out a phone. He flips it open, grunts, then pulls out another phone.

Crispy Cream looks up the address printed on Hawks' hero card on one of his many phones. ("Why do you have three phones?" "Shut up." "Wait, is that a fourth phone?" "...") The address apparently belongs to his hero agency.

"No," says Crispy Cream, "your hero agency."

Hawks looks at him. "Uh, yeah. Kinda figured I'd work there, given it's the address on my work card."

"You're not getting it," Crispy Cream says. "It's your—you know what, I don't care."

"Do you think I live there?" Hawks asks. "That seems kinda... Sad."

"You don't live there," Crispy Cream tells him.

"But how do you know?" Hawks insists.

"Fucking Christ, fine, maybe you live there, whatever, none of my business." Crispy Cream shoves his phones back inside his coat. "We good now?"

Hawks blinks at him, bewildered. Crispy Cream looks back, lips pursed. Hawks watches as he slides out of the booth and stands up.

He says, "You know where it is now, so just go. Fly there, or whatever."

Hawks balks at the idea. "Uh, no, terrible plan. I'm going to, what, fly a hundred kilometers, hopefully in the right direction?" He doesn't mention that he's not sure he or his wings are physically up to the task. The prolonged sitting has turned the dull throbbing in his chest to sharp and angry.

"So take the train."

"Great idea!" Hawks enthuses. "How do I do that?"

"Is it even possible to forget how to use the train?" Crispy Cream grouches; but he motions for Hawks to follow. Hawks gets up eagerly.

Crispy Cream sighs a long-suffering, dramatic sigh. "I'll get you to the right gate and get you a ticket but that's it, you hear me? Also, you're paying me back and don't you dare forget it."

Hawks again makes the conscious decision to neglect mentioning the money still in his wallet. He figures he can use all the charity he can get.

Crispy Cream zips his coat back up and dons his sunglasses. They head out. A lot of people stare at them as they make their way through the station mall, and Crispy Cream seems to care for this not at all. His posture is distinctly displeased.

Hawks finds this extremely curious, but strongly suspects asking will do him no good. Inspiration hits, and Hawks realizes Crispy Cream isn't the only one with a phone and searching capabilities. He powers his phone back on.

Crispy Cream forges ahead, shoulders hunched and aura menacing. Hawks trails behind, googling 'purple skin staples on face who'. He doesn't really expect anything. He gets precisely the opposite.

Hawks' eyes widen at the tens of thousands of results and in particular on the Villainpedia fan article.

"Holy crap dude, you're a wanted criminal?" Crispy Cream freezes mid-step and Hawks nearly crashes into him. Hawks narrowly avoids the collision and takes a second to digest what he's uncovered. He realizes, "Wait, no, that doesn't surprise me at all, actually."

Crispy Cream (Dabi, incinerator of buildings, apparent murderer of small-time criminals) whirls around, snarling, "Speak a little louder, why don't you."

Hawks' eyes widen and he holds up his hands in surrender.

Crispy Cream (Dabi, high-ranking member of an active terrorist group and most recent contact on Hawks' phone) glances around to see if anyone is paying them undo attention. He must decide the coast is clear, because his face turns a little feral as he turns his attention back on Hawks.

"So what if I am?" Dabi says sweetly, smiling like he's going to rip Hawks' throat out with his teeth. "What do you think that says about you?"

Hawks thinks about this for barely a second. "I have a piercings kink?" he guesses.

Dabi chokes on his own spit. In the few moments it takes Dabi to compose himself, any remaining fear Hawks had of Dabi evaporates.

Dabi glares and looks like he's got more he'd like to say on the issue but eventually gives up. He turns back around and starts walking, apparently dropping the conversation. Hawks figures he can drop it, too. A few short minutes later and Dabi has successfully led Hawks to the gate.

"There," he says, pointing to a mass of people exchanging sides of the turnstile. "Go."

"But the train fare?" Hawks says innocently.

Dabi curses under his breath and sulks over to a machine against the wall. He pushes a few buttons, feeds it some coins, and it spits out a small square of paper. Hawks, who had trailed after to observe the process, summarily has the square of paper thrust in his face.

"Here," Dabi grouses. "Happy? Now go. Away. Don't call me until you've worked out this whole..." He gestures vaguely at Hawks head and torso, "Thing."

Dabi turns his body towards the exit.

Hawks thinks, Okay, yeah, I can do this, just. Get on the train. Go to Fukuoka. Find his hero agency, which is. Somewhere. In a town he doesn't remember. Filled with people who will stare and whisper but won't step forward to help.

Dabi walks away.

Step one is to get on the train. Get on the train, and... Wait, which train is he getting on?

Hawks thinks, Oh crap I can't do this.

In his panic, he conceives of a singular, solitary, and extremely terrible idea. In the absence of past experience telling him that actions have consequences, he acts on it immediately.

"Hey!" Hawks yells, at no one in particular. Dabi glances over but doesn't stop walking. Hawks runs after him, still yelling. "Hey, everyone, this guy is a wanted criminal! He's got a Wikipedia article! I think he kidnapped a child once! Hey everybody, look over—" A hand shoves over his mouth in an attempt to smother him. Hawks grabs onto the offending arm, more to stop Dabi from walking away again than anything else.

"What the hell do you think you're doing," Dabi hisses. Hawks licks his palm; Dabi recoils and rubs his palm roughly against his jacket. "What the fuck, are you a child?!" Hawks' lip stings where a staple caught on skin.

"You're a villain, right? And I'm a hero. Seems to me, I should be turning you in. Unless..." Hawks draws the word out.

Dabi's upper lip curls into a snarl. "Unless what?"

"Unless we're friends. Obviously."

Dabi growls and his hands twitch like they'd like to make a grab for Hawks' throat. Hawks smiles beatifically.

"So, Dabi," Hawks leans in close, "are we friends?"

Dabi grimaces, and it's a concession.

Dabi buys himself a train ticket. He says, "I regret having met you," as they feed their tickets to the electronic gate keepers and make their way towards the trains. Hawks decides it might be best to try and stay on Dabi's good side from this point forward, lest Dabi decide to try and ditch him, or push him in front of an oncoming train.

Dabi moves through the crowd with an ease Hawks finds impossible, given his wings. The issue is compounded because damaged as they are, he can't tuck them against his back correctly. Try as he might, he keeps whacking strangers in the face. He throws rapid fire "Sorry!"s in their direction every time it happens.

His unintentional victim's annoyance always bleeds away once they see his face. They all look bewildered or awed. It makes Hawks nervous.

Dabi darts around a corner and Hawks nearly panics and takes flight to try and find him again, but a second later a hand darts out and grabs his own. Dabi tugs him through the crowd grouchily; not as rough as he could be. As he's being led up a flight of stairs, Hawks' palm slips from Dabi's grip. Hawks' heart rate sky rockets. He shoots his hand back out, tangles their fingers together so it's harder to separate them. At the top of the stairs, Dabi's fingers close in around Hawks' own.

They make it to their platform, Dabi's hand still wrapped absentmindedly around his—and though less than ten minutes have passed, Hawks forgets entirely the resolution he made to himself to stop pissing off Dabi.

"That kind of friend, huh?" Hawks teases, meaningfully squeezing their linked hands. "Why didn't you just say so?"

Dabi jerks away like Hawks is on fire; backs up a few paces, defensive and irate. "We're not friends, asshole!" Dabi spits out.

Hawks wishes he could see Dabi's expression, but it's still funny and Hawks laughs.

Their train arrives. Hawks can tell Dabi is plotting to abandon him, but for some reason Dabi changes his mind at the last second. They board the train onto a mostly empty car. Lightly patterned blue cushions line the sides and black hand holds dangle from the ceiling. Dabi wanders to the end of the car and takes a seat as the doors close.

After a moment, Hawks trails over to where Dabi is and sits down, leaving a slight space between them. He has to lean forward pretty far so his wings don't get smashed against the back of the seats and the train's windows.

Dabi busies himself in a phone. Hawks looks around the car at the advertisements, at the safety notifications. At the train's timetable.

"This train is outbound from Fukuoka," Hawks says incredulously. Dabi grunts, half paying attention.

"Yeah. You're an idiot if you think I'm going to show up in front of a hero agency with you, of all people."

"Oh. Okay," Hawks says agreeably. He'd never had his heart set on going to his hero agency, he just needed to be... doing something. This is still something. "Where are we going?"

"You'll find out when we get there," snarks Dabi. He goes back to ignoring Hawks.

Seems like they're in it for the long haul. Hawks can't think of anything better to do and takes out his own phone.

Hawks first checks his call history. Crispy Cream, Crispy Cream, HPSC (sounds boring), Crispy Cream, The Office (ick, even more boring), Crispy Cream, Crispy Cream...

"What's 'HPSC'?" Hawks asks.

Dabi looks at him, sidelong. "...They callin' you?"

"Yeah," Hawks says, scrolling through the list. "Always inbound, a few times a week..."

Dabi shuffles. This close, Hawks can see part of his face between the gaps of jacket and sunglasses and Dabi looks awkward; uncomfortable. It's a super weird look on him. "I dunno. It's probably work related." Dabi turns away. Hawks turns back to his phone.

After a few more seconds of scrolling and Hawks groans, puts his head on his hands. 'HSPC' sends him times and dates for meetings. 'The office' tells him he's late on paperwork. 'Crispy Cream' is the only person he seems to have any regular contact with, the only one who seems to have approximations of actual conversations with him. (The conversations consist primarily of 'where are you', 'change of plans', various times, cryptic numbers, and a lot of insults.)

The only person to send him a non-work-related text in months doesn't even seem to like him all that much. Hawks shoves his phone in his pocket and tries not to think about the kind of person who has no friends. Maybe he has a second phone somewhere, like Dabi. Maybe this is just his work phone.

Hawks can tell from Dabi's body language that he's caught his attention, but Dabi doesn't say anything and Hawks doesn't either.

Hawks spends some time watching out the window, at the trees and buildings passing by. Morbid curiosity about himself continues to nag in the back of his mind, much as he tries to will it away.

He eventually caves, pulls his phone back out of his pocket to continue snooping through it.

Hawks glances at his frankly impressive contacts list and wonders why he never talks to any of them. Maybe he deletes texts? Seems like a lot of work, and he doesn't delete texts from 'Crispy Cream' even if they're mostly boring.

He goes back to the phone call history and scrolls and scrolls and scrolls.

"Who's 'Denim Daddy'?" Hawks asks, and hears Dabi choke on his next breath.


"Denim Daddy," Hawks says again, just for the pleasure of watching Dabi's eyes bulge out of his head.

Dabi goes quiet for a moment and then gets a scary look on his face.

"You've been talking to him?" Dabi asks dangerously. Hawks narrows his eyes at the change.

"I don't see how that's any of your business."

Dabi pulls off his sunglasses so he can look properly murderous. Hawks, belatedly, remembers the plan to not piss off Dabi.

"When did you fucking talk to him, Hawks?" Dabi demands in a low, dangerous tone.

Hawks considers how they're stuck in a train together, in a place Hawks doesn't know, and how willing Dabi was to ditch him. All added together, the impending fight isn't worth it.

"Months ago, okay?" Hawks says. "Jesus. What's the big deal?"

Dabi doesn't answer and looks out the window. Hawks honestly doesn't know what could garner such a reaction, except...

"...What, is he, like... my ex?" Dabi still doesn't respond. Hawks groans. "Why do all my exes have such weird names?"

Dabi looks like he's deciding which question to ask first and also like he hates his life. "'Weird names'," he finally says, flatly.

"Well, yeah," Hawks says. He switches tabs on his phone to scroll through his contacts. He lists them off: "'Bigfoot', 'Flame Tiddies', 'Thumper's Mom', 'Don't answer, you owe her money', 'Cri—oh wait. Your name isn't even Crispy Cream, is it? Are all of these nicknames?"

"That," Dabi growls, "is not. My nickname."

"...So I don't affectionately call you 'Crispy Cream'...?"

"Not if you want to live past this train ride, you don't."

Hawks lets silence fall between them for a few moments. He thinks firmly, 'Stop pissing off Dabi.'

The problem is, he can't stop thinking about it.

"It's not your secret identity or something, is it?" Hawks asks, concerned.

Dabi looks at Hawks like he's crazy. "Why, for the love. Of god. Would my name. Be 'Crispy Cream'. What kind of stupid name 'Crispy Cream'."

"What kind of stupid name is 'Hawks'," Hawks counters.

Dabi's answering grunt almost sounds like a laugh.

Hawks decides that's quite enough of his phone, and upon leaning back in his seat rediscovers his disheveled wings, feathers still crumpled and out of place from an encounter he can't remember. He wants to preen them, wants to run his fingers through and straighten out the pins, but the train feels too open, too public.

He ruffles then flattens his feathers against each other as best he can without using his hands. He does this a few times and a few feathers fall off onto the seat cushion, to the floor of the train car. He's not sure what to do with them and ends up just leaving them where they are.

In total, the ride takes over an hour. Dabi doesn't tell him it's their stop, but he stands up and Hawks follows suit.

Hawks feels almost anxious, being so far away from where he'd started. Then again, there's not really a difference, is there? Every place is the same if he doesn't know it. Dabi knows this place and Hawks knows Dabi, and that's really all he's got to work with.

Dabi glides through the crowd and exits this new train station with little care for Hawks' ability to follow. Hawks manages, if only because Dabi is so tall and so conspicuously dressed. They emerge from the station, the crowd thinning and Dabi taking a hard left. Hawks pushes past some excitedly whispering onlookers and jogs to catch up.

They more or less walk side by side despite Dabi's unnecessarily brisk pace, and despite how out of breath Hawks finds himself. Is he always this weak? Hawks walks as fast as he can but occasionally is forced to beat his wings and jump forward a few meters to keep up. Every time he does so, the deep bruises on his chest burn with discomfort and Hawks has to remind himself not to say anything aggravating.

Dabi takes them down a side alley, then a back alley, then some very sketchy looking streets, before arriving at a dilapidated building. Hawks looks at the building skeptically, concerned for its structural integrity. Dabi pulls on the door handle and slips inside. Without a second thought, Hawks follows.

The inside is not an improvement on the outside, but for some reason contains very expensive furniture, a fully stocked bar, and a ridiculously large TV. Two people lounge on the couch, faced away from the entrance. Hawks hovers in the poorly lit entryway, hoping they won't be able to see him. Dabi meanders through the main room, unzipping his jacket and slipping his sunglasses in his pocket.

One of the people on the couch, a younger girl, blonde, turns to stare at Dabi. He ignores her. She doesn't say anything. Her eyes slide past Dabi and keep sliding until she looks at the entryway. Hawks heart rate kicks up and his ears flood with white noise.

"Hawksie!" the blond girl yells enthusiastically. At the tone, or maybe the sharp grin on her face, Hawks tenses up further.

He steels himself and strides into the room.

"Uh, yep!" says Hawks, angling for where Dabi's standing. "That's me! Hi."

In front of him, Dabi snorts. Hawks tries not to make it obvious that he's putting Dabi between himself and the two strangers. According to Dabi's cocked eyebrow, he is not entirely successful.

As he comes into the light, the girl gasps. "What happened to your pretty face?" Hawks isn't sure how to respond, given Dabi's reaction to his 'mugged' story. Her piercing eyes rake over his face, his jaw, his wings—every part of him, he realizes, with a visible injury. His wings tense at the scrutiny, and when the look on her face softens to something manic and euphoric, a cold shiver runs up his spine.

"It's gorgeous," she coos, and nope, no way, not going there. "Did Dabi beat you up?"

"Hitting people is too much effort," Dabi says by way of denial. The girl hums as if to say, 'that's fair.'

There's a man sitting next to the girl. He's wearing a mostly black spandex suit that covers his entire body. He waves. "Hey Hawks! What've you been up to? I don't care!"

The dissonant yell startles Hawks, and he shuffles a little further behind Dabi. Dabi huffs like he finds this ridiculous, but doesn't call Hawks on his cowardice.

"Oh, you know," says Hawks, smiling to hide his nerves and unsure if he's supposed to answer, "the usual."

The man nods somberly as if this makes sense. The blond girl crawls over her fellow couch sitter to make faces at Dabi, then smiles at Hawks. She perches her head on her hands and her elbows on the arm of the couch, torso draped over spandex man. Spandex man doesn't react, as though this is commonplace.

"We never get to see you," gushes the girl, pumping her feet behind her and almost smacking the man in the face. "I was afraid you and Dabi broke up!"

"We're not dating," grouses Dabi. He doesn't act like the assumption is novel.

The girl ignores Dabi. "Shiggy's not even awake, and there's no League business." She gives the pair of them a suspicious look. "The hideout is a pretty terrible place for a date, Dabi."

The hideout. They're in a 'hideout'. Are Dabi's friends criminals? Dear lord, Hawks should have expected this. What was he thinking? 'Let's follow Dabi, it'll be fine,' what a terrible idea.

"Idiot got hit with an amnesia quirk." Dabi jerks a thumb in Hawks' direction. "Can't remember anything."

Even though it's true, Hawks is offended. He can't deny that he's an idiot for following a villain to his lair, and he doesn't remember anything about himself. Did Dabi seriously have to tell them? Hawks thinks about denying it, but there's probably no point.

The blonde gasps theatrically. "Oh no! How awful!" She doesn't look as though she thinks this is awful. Her face is an exaggerated expression of shock, a poorly covered grin twisting at the corners of her mouth.

"How hilarious, you mean! Let us know if there's anything we can do to help!" spandex guy says, sounding congenial.

"I'm Himiko," says 'Himiko'. She points to the man she's laying on top of. "This is Jin-kun!"

Spandex man waves again. "Nice to, uh, meet you! We've already met, stupid!"

Himiko rearranges her face into a pout. "I'm so sad you don't remember me! We're, like, best friends!"

Jin turns his head towards the girl. "You are? What a liar!"

She rolls over and sits up so she can smack him on the arm.

"Hush, Jin-kun! Of course we are. Who do you think tells Hawks every time his nail polish clashes with his outfit!"

Hawks looks down at his hands. They're covered, because he put his gloves back on after eating. He doesn't want to take them off now and draw attention. He's pretty sure they weren't painted when he saw them this afternoon. But.

A new noise from the other side of the room distracts him from the question, and he looks up.

A lizard man walks into the living room.

Hawks is pretty sure this is the setup for a terrible joke.

The lizard man spots them and pauses. He seems to narrow his eyes at the sight of them all clumped together, or maybe he's just narrowing his eyes at Hawks.

"...What are you doing?" lizard guy asks, approaching slowly. Then he must get a better look at Hawks, because he does a double take. "What happened to you?" Hawks' wings shift at the undue attention.

Himiko grins. "We're telling Hawksie aaaall about his life!"

"Yeah! He went and forgot it all! What an idiot!"

The humanoid lizard looks at Dabi. Dabi doesn't deign to comment.

"We were just about to tell him all about his engagement to the queen of Canada," Himiko says.

He's engaged?

"Uh," says lizard guy, "that never happened."

"Booo," says Himiko. "He doesn't know that! Don't ruin this for me!"

"Maybe we shouldn't," says Jin. "It's kinda mean. Let's tell him he eats flies!"

"Good one, Jin-kun!" Himiko cheers. "Come on, Spinner, tell Hawks something about himself! Don't you feel baaaad? He can't remember anything!"

"Uh..." Spinner pauses to think about it. Hawks isn't sure if he's about to hear a lie or a truth. "Last year, you posed shirtless for a top ranked heroes calendar."

Hawks doesn't know how he feels about that.

"That's true!" says Jin. "I keep a copy in my bedroom!"

Hawks really doesn't know how he feels about that.

"The proceeds went to some charity," Spinner adds, and Hawks wonders if that makes it better. He decides that it does. He gets shirtless for charities, that's pretty cool. Extremely narcissistic, sure, but cool.

Himiko hums. "I guess that's fine." She winks at Hawks. "Gotta keep you on your toes!"

Hawks thinks that is extremely unnecessary and a very inappropriate way to treat someone with a memory handicap. He should have expected as much from people Dabi considers friends.

"Oh!" says Jin, snapping his fingers. "You really like chicken. You filthy cannibal!"

Hawks snaps his own fingers back and points. "Oh yeah! I figured that one out. Chicken is delicious." Jin gives him double thumbs up.

"Jiiinn-kuuunnn," Himiko wines, "try again! That one's so boorrriing!"

"Uhh," says Jin, "You eat... flies? You said that one already, dumbass!" He looks at Himiko apologetically.

"Ugh," groans Himiko. She flops down on the couch to pout.

Spinner looks at Hawks. "Amnesia quirk?" he asks.

"Seems like," Hawks confirms.

"That's rough." Spinner sounds genuinely sympathetic, and that might bump him up to Hawks' favorite.

"Dabi says it'll wear off," Hawks explains, hoping it's true.

"They usually do," agrees Jin, "There's usually, like, a time limit involved. Too bad you're just as dumb either way!"

Spinner nods. Hawks isn't sure which part he's agreeing to.

Himiko abruptly sits up.

"COMPRESS!" Himiko screams at the ceiling. "GET DOWN HERE! YOU'RE MISSING IT!" She looks back at Hawks and Dabi. "These guys are useless," she says apologetically. (Jin nods happily in agreement. Spinner looks offended and says 'Hey!') "Mr. Compress will be much better at this game."

In short order, a tall man in a mask, top hat, and tan trench coat appears from the same hallway lizard guy came from. He pauses briefly at the sight of the group, then bows with a flourish.

"To what do I owe the honor of such an audience!" he announces, rather than asks. He straightens without waiting for an answer and waltzes into the room.

Hawks is suddenly 100% sure he's reached his limit with Dabi's 'friends'.

"Hawksie has amnesia!" Himiko explains promptly, and Hawks really wishes everyone would just stop talking about it. If they would just treat him like normal, he could fill in the gaps and get through this just fine.

Mr. Compress dons an air of amusement Hawks can feel even through the mask. "Does he now? Facinat—I mean, tragic! Don't tell me he's forgotten all about himself? All of the marvelous feats he's accomplished?"

Hawks tries not to puff up his wings in pride, but it's very difficult. Dabi notices, of course, and shakes his head in disgust.

"He absolutely has! Doesn't remember a single one," Himiko confirms.

"Oh deary me," Mr. Compress says woefully, "how utterly dreadful!"

"You've never done a single thing worth mentioning," Dabi informs Hawks.

Hawks is pretty sure that isn't true and rolls his eyes. "Now you're just being rude."

"Indelibly so!" agrees Mr. Compress. "Even Dabi would be hard pressed to forget when you gave birth to a live chicken! Truly, a sight to behold."

"I did what," Hawks whispers, horrified. He looks quickly to Dabi, who's giving them all a Look. Hawks breathes out a sigh of relief.

"BOOO!" Himiko shouts again. "Using your love connection to communicate telepathically is illegal!!"

"We don't have a 'love connection'," Dabi insists, glaring.

Himiko looks between Hawks and Dabi disdainfully. "Suuuure."

"You do seem to share a certain... bond," Mr. Compress says thoughtfully. Spinner snickers and Himiko throws a remote at him. "It became impossible to notice after that horrible chainsaw accident!"

Dabi snorts and Hawks is able to stop wondering how, exactly, an accident with a chainsaw would have gone down.

Himiko groans and glares at Dabi; turns back to Hawks and brightens. "That's right! Do you know about your gills?"

Hawks looks at her reproachfully.

"Oh don't look at me like that. I'm telling you, you can breathe underwater! You're not just part bird, you're part fish, too." She hops over the couch to stand before them. "Let me show you!"

Hawks shuffles further behind Dabi.

"Don't be like that," Himiko whines, reaching around Dabi to get at Hawks. Dabi snarls. Hawks dodges. "C'mooonn, just let me show you!"

"Keep me out of it!" Dabi warns.

"Then stay out of my way!" Himiko says sharply. She charges forward again.

In her enthusiasm, Himiko tumbles into Dabi who stumbles into Hawks and Hawks—cuts off a high-pitched yelp of pain and flaps his wings reflexively to hop back.

The room goes still. Himiko stops reaching for his shirt. The group, sans Dabi, stares at Hawks, shocked.

Dabi turns around, sneering. He seems to pause and reconsider his course of action when he sees Hawks' face. Hawks thinks with alarm, No, definitely make fun of me, call attention to how ridiculous I'm being and then move on.

"Hawks," says Dabi, "what the hell."

"Uhh," says Hawks, "it's nothing."

"That didn't sound like nothing? You scream like a little girl!" Jin pipes in, unhelpfully.

"No, seriously, it's nothing, I'm fine," Hawks reassures the room at large, smiling.

Dabi moves towards him, lifts his hand like he's going to touch—and Hawks leaps back again, arms wrapping protectively around his upper torso.

"'Nothing'," Dabi mocks, but his hand drops back down to his side.

"Oohh," Himiko sings melodically. "Does someone get to play nurse?" Her hand shoots in the air. "I'll do it! I'd looove to take care of Hawksie..." She trails off dreamily.

"I must admit," Mr. Compress says silkily, "I wouldn't mind helping so much myself..."

"I think we have a first aid kit around here somewhere..." muses Jin. "Not that we know how to use it!"

"Bird bones are so brittle," Spinner complains. "You'd probably just break them if you tried to help."

Hawks forces a laugh and steps forward to snatch one of Dabi's hands. He doesn't look directly at Dabi, but can tell Dabi is staring at him incredulously. Dabi tugs away weakly, and Hawks tightens his grip. Dabi frowns.

"No, uh, that's okay! Dabi, can you, um, show me where the bathroom is?" He tugs Dabi towards the nearest hallway, the one furthest away from all the people, but Dabi won't budge.

"OOOHH," squeals Himiko, eyes locked on their linked hands, (Jin wolf-whistles in the background and Spinner rolls his eyes,) "Dabi gets to play nurse, then?" She smiles wide, puts her hands on her cheeks to frame her face, and looks like she zones out.

Hawks feels distinctly like he's bleeding out in a tank full of sharks. "Uh, that's right! So, come on, Dabi!" Hawks pulls on Dabi's arm again, a little more insistent.

Dabi sighs and lets himself be dragged out of the room.

Once the others are out of sight and Hawks can breathe, Dabi takes the lead.

"This way," Dabi says, and doesn't immediately ditch Hawks, so Hawks considers it a net win.

They round a corner, go up some stairs, and walk past several closed doors. Hawks laces their fingers again.

Dabi shakes him off and glares. "Cut that out."

Hawks holds his hands up, open palms facing Dabi in a 'not looking for trouble' sort of gesture. He smiles amicably. "Can do!"

Dabi throws Hawks one more suspicious glare before pushing one of the doors open. Hawks trails in after.

He expects to enter a bathroom. Instead, they're in a sparsely decorated bedroom. There's a bed, a rug, a side table, and not much else. A small window looks out to the brick wall of the building next door.

"Take off your shirt," Dabi orders, shrugging off his jacket and tossing it onto the bed.

"You don't have to help me," Hawks tells him, "I can handle it."

"You lost that privilege when you drug me up here with you," Dabi says in a monotone. "Take off the shirt."

Hawks winces. "Are you mad because I held your hand in front of your friends?"

"Not my friends," Dabi says.

"Okay, okay."

Dabi doubles back and walks to a closed room near the entrance to the room. Hawks watches as the door opens and Dabi flicks on the light to reveal a bathroom.

Dabi rummages through drawers and Hawks tears his eyes away and shoulders his flight jacket off and onto the floor. He discovers that was the easy part when he gingerly peels off his black compression shirt, the muscles in his chest and back protesting as he maneuvers the fabric over his head. He clumps his wings together as thin as they'll go, then uses a feather to push the shirt the rest of the way off.

Before it's even hit the floor, Hawks' fingers are at his neck. He trails them up and down the sides, feeling for suspicious bumps or lines.

"You don't have gills."

Hawks jumps and drops his hands away, feels a heat creep up his face. He laughs, too bright, too fast. "Oh, no, of course not! I know that."

Dabi shakes his head and gestures at the rug. "Sit down."

Hawks is glad he's not getting treated for a cut. There's ash scattered everywhere and enough dirt that a weed grows out of the wall. Seems like a good way to get an infection. He gingerly plops down to the floor. Dabi crouches before him, between his legs.

Dabi doesn't strike Hawks as the sort who willingly enters another person's space, and the thought makes him nervous. He tries not to breathe on Dabi as he leans in and presses the pads of his fingers to Hawks' bare skin, ends of his hair tickling Hawks' jaw. He feels dizzy.

He breathes at an angle but on his inhale still catches Dabi's scent—he smells like a forest fire. Hawks wonders if his brain got knocked around, too, because it's kind of... soothing.

Then Dabi brushes against a tender knot of pain and the breath whooshes from Hawks' lungs and he doesn't have to worry about it anymore.

"Is this broken?" Dabi demands, harsh tone undercut by the way his fingers prod lightly at the deep purple bruise.

"I told you my ribs hurt," Hawks grits out, teeth clenched to prevent betraying the amount of pain he feels.

Dabi grabs Hawks' left side to hold him in place and uses his other hand to feel around the circumference of the worst of it. Every touch is a blinding spark of pain. Hawks holds his breath and tries not to move.

"Just a fracture," Dabi announces, hands trailing away from the bruise.

"'Just a fracture'," Hawks mutters in a mocking, high-pitched tone, trying to mask his shaky exhale. Dabi rifles through the contents of the first-aid kit and, if he hears, doesn't respond.

Dabi's right—it could have been a lot worse. The area throbs distractingly, but only really hurts when there's any pressure involved.

Dabi pulls out a thin plastic wrapper and tears it open. He pulls out a white square of fabric and stretches it sideways, then peels off an outer covering. The smell of menthol fills the air, abrupt and overwhelming. When Dabi slaps the large white square over the fracture Hawks forgets himself and winces. His wings shudder in momentary protest, but the fabric is cool to the touch and almost immediately cuts through the worst of the dull throbbing.

By the time he's come back to himself, Dabi is holding a fist in front of him and saying, "Here."

Hawks holds up his hand and Dabi deposits three pills. Hawks briefly considers the potential ramifications of consuming mystery medication given to him by a villain. Then again, at this point, what's the harm? He pops them in his mouth and swallows all three dry.

Dabi looks at Hawks' chest intently runs his fingers along the edges of the patch. Hawks watches his face as Dabi catalogues the rest of the bruises littering his torso, writing off one by one as inconsequential.

Before, Hawks couldn't understand how he'd be friends (or anything, really,) with someone like Dabi. He'd been half convinced he was just a pathetic loner desperate for attention, but he feels like he has more self-respect than that. Their relationship made no sense. Hawks didn't think he'd stick around just to be a verbal punching bag.

Somewhere between Dabi's quiet attention and the hands ghosting against his skin, it clicks together and Hawks feels a surge of affection.

Just a few hours ago, he'd found Dabi's face to be at worst, hideous, and at best, painful to look at. Somehow, he now finds Dabi's face to hold a certain appeal. The sharp angles of bone, piercing icy blue eyes; even the staples and damaged skin seem sort of aesthetic now that he's over the shock factor. Hawks wants to trail over the line of staples on Dabi's cheek, so he lifts his hand to do just that.

Dabi glances up to make wary eye contact, but lets him. "What are you doing," he asks, shoulders hunched and eyes dangerous.

Hawks' fingers reach the corner of Dabi's mouth. He trails them back to Dabi's jaw again, curls loosely under the sharp bone and rubs his thumb along the same line, sweeping back then dragging forward again. Dabi holds perfectly still.

"Yeah," Hawks confesses to himself, "I get it now."

"The hell are you talking about," Dabi grouses, and still, he doesn't move away.

Hawks smiles and pulls his hand back. "Nothing."

Dabi gives him a final look before rocking to his feet. He stoops to pick up Hawks' discarded shirt and throws it at Hawks' face. Hawks instinctually snags it out of the air before it gets the chance to hit him.

Dabi eyes him skeptically. "Put your shirt back on, you harlot."

Hawks does, marveling at how much less it hurts to put his arms above his head now.

Dabi glances at the window and Hawks follows his gaze. From the way the light bounces off the brick wall outside, the sun must be setting.

Dabi humms. "You hungry?"

Hawks is surprised to find that even after having consumed an entire bucket of chicken this afternoon, he is, in fact, hungry. The problem being, leaving this room he's liable to cross paths with any of the people who had been downstairs. Hawks' nerves are akin to settled for the first time in known memory and he's not keen to revisit anxiety.

"No," Hawks decides, "I'm good."

"You're 'good'," Dabi says cynically, like he knows Hawks is lying but hasn't figured out why.

"Yeah," says Hawks.

Dabi stares him down, willing him to break. The process takes about thirty seconds.

"Can't I just," Hawks says, feeling preemptively embarrassed, "stay here?"

Dabi sort of squints at him. "...Why, so you can snoop?"

Hawks shakes his head frantically, "No, no! I won't look through your stuff if you don't want me to, I swear, I just. It's just." Hawks tries to think of a way to convey what he's feeling without sounding pathetic, and sighs. "Your friends are. A lot."

Dabi snorts but stops looking suspicious.

"Well," Dabi runs a hand through his hair. "Whatever. Not like there's anything here, anyway. I'll be back."

Hawks waves; Dabi doesn't. When the door shuts, Hawks is alone.

By himself in the closed room, Hawks finds his shoulders relaxing for the first time all day. He glances around and considers snooping, but like Dabi said, there's nothing there.

His wings twinge to remind him how neglected they've been and now seems like a good opportunity to address the damage. He spreads them out as far as they'll go, gives them a good shake. Only a few feathers dislodge and flutter to the ground, the worst of them having come off in the train. He pulls his wings in front of himself for better access.

Hawks starts from the bend, works his way down into the secondaries and primaries, straightening and smoothing as he goes. More feathers come loose, snapped or twisted but trapped between layers. He loses himself in the process, in the mindless repetition of self-soothing. He doesn't know how long he spends sorting himself out, only stopping when his wings pick up vibrations from the hallway.

Hawks shakes himself out, stacking his wings neatly on his back and playing innocent. It's only when Dabi opens the door and pauses at the sight of him that Hawks realizes he's sitting in a pile of his own broken feathers. He feels distinctly like he's been caught doing something he shouldn't.

"Sorry for the mess," he blurts out. "I'll clean it up."

After a moment, Dabi grunts. "Whatever. Can't get much worse in here." Hawks relaxes.

Dabi is carrying two plates, and Hawks first thought is Wow, he must be really hungry, but then Dabi places one of the plates down in front of him. Hawks watches Dabi push a pile of feathers away from the rug with his boot and sit down before his brain finally catches up.


"Thanks," Hawks says belatedly, and picks up the sandwich in front of him. He's struck again by just how hungry he is. He opens his mouth to take a bite, but Dabi interrupts him.

"Might wanna check it for razor blades."

Hawks almost tells Dabi his joke isn't funny. Then he thinks about where he is, and peels back the layers of bread and cheese and meat to look for anything out of place. Dabi inspects his own sandwich and doesn't laugh.

Hawks eats quickly, finishing significantly faster than Dabi. He tries not to stare at the small, careful bites Dabi takes, at the delicate way he chews. Hawks desperately wants to keep this quiet peace that they've somehow managed to acquire, but he has several very inappropriate questions about staples and mouths that his tongue is straining to ask.

His impropriety is saved by a knock at the door.

Dabi pauses to swallow then calls out, "Go away!"

The knob twists and the door swings open. Himiko poses on the other side of the threshold: lower lip stuck out and both hands on her hips to maximize her show of dismay.

"You didn't come down for dinner!" Himiko pouts at Hawks.

Hawks smiles reflexively. "Sorry! Wasn't feeling too hot, y'know?"

Dabi says, "What part of 'go away' is it that you fail to understand."

Himiko harrumphs and steps inside the room. She sniffs disdainfully as she looks around. "Drab as ever. Like, seriously, get some chairs." She turns to Hawks and speaks in a low tone that in no way keeps Dabi from hearing her next words. "So? Was Dabi a good nurse?"

Hawks doesn't want to know what that means. "Uh, yeah! The best." He glances at Dabi, hoping the man will take pity and rescue him from this conversation.

Honestly, even though he's technically only known Dabi for a day, he should have known better.

Himiko wanders over to the bed and hops up to sit on the edge.

Dabi glares at her. "Get off my bed."

Himiko smiles angelically. "Nah." She rests her elbows on her knees and props her head up with her hands and gazes thoughtfully at Hawks. Hawks' skin crawls.

"If you think this won't come back to haunt you," Dabi growls, "think again."

Himiko giggles. "Awww, how sweet! You gonna haunt me when I put you out of your misery, Dabikins?"

Dabi smiles, wide and terrifying, staples wrinkling skin unpleasantly. "Just you wait."

"Waiting~!" Himiko sing-songs.

Himiko stays right where she is, staring, unblinking, at Hawks' face, while Dabi finishes his sandwich.

Dabi stands and Hawks thinks nervously, Where do you think you're going?? Hawks stands as well.

"I've gotta," Dabi gestures at the door and doesn't finish his sentence like that's an acceptable thing to do.

Himiko smiles, hops off the bed and skips to Hawks' side. "Go right ahead! Hawksie and I will be juuuust fine." She loops her arm around his and hangs. "After all, we are besties!"

Eyes wide and darting between the two, Hawks screams telepathically, Don't leave me alone with her!

Dabi smirks, which tells Hawks that he absolutely understood, and then he strides out the door. Hawks despairs.

"So," Himiko says meaningfully, waggling her eyebrows. "You weren't 'feeling so hot'. Not even a... little bit hot?"

Hawks isn't sure how to respond. "...No?"

Himiko sighs and drops his arm. "Figures. I guess that'd be too much to ask, even with such a perfect scenario. This is Dabi we're talking about."

She slides a bag off her arm and holds it up proudly. "I brought nail polish! We're going to have a girls' night!"

She pulls Hawks back down to the rug with her.

"Dabi might actually kill me if I made a mess on his bed," she confesses. "So, Dabi's nasty floor it is!"

So now Hawks is sitting back on the hard floor covered by a thin rug, one hand in the vice grip of Dabi's terrifying blonde friend.

Himiko had emptied the contents of the bag onto the floor, an assortment of files and clippers tumbling out, along with a single bottle of polish—red.

"Red my faaaavorite color," she tells him, running oven the tops of his nails with a triangle buffing tool. "And it'll look so good on you, Hawksie! It'll match your pretty wings!"

He doesn't ask her why red is her favorite color. He has a feeling he wouldn't much like the answer.

Himiko finishes primping his nails, then twists the red bottle open. Hawks wrinkles his nose at the sharp smell of polish.

She sticks her tongue between her teeth in concentration as she carefully paints small red lines on the nail of his thumb. Hawks waits, tense but resigned, convinced on some primal level she's going to bite him, or pull out a knife and start taking swipes. It's a ridiculous thought to have. She's a child. ...Well, a teenager.

A teenage member of some sort of criminal organization; God, he's going to die here, isn't he? He sighs and wishes Dabi would come back already. Dabi probably wouldn't let him get murdered, not after he put in actual effort to patch Hawks up.

After the nail has been outlined, Himiko starts to chatter. She talks about her weekend plans, which sound not only ill advised but also extremely illegal; talks about how she could marry Jin-kun but he's kinda old and she wants to keep her options open. She talks about a number of people Hawks doesn't know and doesn't bother to explain who they are, but he gets the feeling Izuku-kun might want to file a restraining order.

By the time Dabi reappears, Himiko is halfway done with Hawks' left hand. He has seven shiny red nails and he's not entirely sure how to feel about it. He wonders if he's ever had his nails painted before.

Himiko beams at Dabi. "Look, look!" She takes one of Hawks' hands and thrusts it in his direction so he can better see. "See how well it suits him! I knew red was the right choice."

Dabi smirks. "Very... pretty."

Hawks knows he's being made fun of, but the praise still goes to his head and tints his cheeks pink and pleased.

Dabi collapses bonelessly on top of his bed and pulls out his phone to ignore them. Himiko goes back to chattering about increasingly concerning things and painting Hawks' nails. Hawks makes agreeing and sympathetic noises at what he hopes are appropriate times, and prays that he will continue to not get stabbed.

Just when Hawks thinks Himiko is done, she declares the need for a 'top coat'. Dabi doesn't look up from his phone, telling Hawks he knew this was going to happen. Himiko keeps getting wrapped up in the telling of her own stories, and the process takes her longer than Hawks thinks it should.

Finally, she declares him beautiful. Dabi sits up on the bed.

"Good," he says. "Now go away, I'm tired."

Himiko gasps, scandalized. "It's barely 10PM, you old man!"

Dabi doesn't take the bait. "Then go find someone else to bother."

Himiko dons a cute pout. The sight of it sets Hawks' nerves on edge. Dabi stares at her, unimpressed. Eventually she sighs and puts her manicure tools back in her bag.

"My room is riiiight next door," she tells Hawks cheerfully, snapping her bag shut. "So let me know if you need help finding anything!" Hawks shudders involuntarily as he smiles at her offer, waving as she skips out of the room.

When she's gone and the door is shut, Dabi huffs in amusement.

"She really freaks you out, doesn't she?"

"I don't know what it is," Hawks admits, looking over at Dabi, "I feel like she's going to snap me in half and eat me alive."

Dabi has a strange look on his face. After a moment, he asks, "And I don't make you feel like that?"

"No," says Hawks, confused. "Why would you?"

Dabi grumbles something and turns away. Hawks catches a splash of pink on the white patch of skin beneath his eye.

It turns out Dabi cares about dental hygiene, which is weirdly surprising. He gives Hawks a new toothbrush, still in the packaging, and lets him use his toothpaste. Hawks isn't a fan of the flavor, but he's not about to complain. He almost makes a joke about how he thought they'd just share a toothbrush, then thinks better of it.

When Hawks comes out of the bathroom, Dabi announces, "I'm taking the bed," like the terrible host he is.

"I'm not sleeping on the floor," Hawks returns.

"I don't fuckin' care where you sleep, but I'm taking the bed," Dabi says again.

Hawks grins and feels the bad decision milliseconds before he makes it; has enough time to stop it, and then masochistically chooses not to. "Good, 'cuz we can just share, right?"

Dabi freezes, and god damn it. Hawks and his goddamn runaway mouth. He was doing so well.

Dabi turns slowly to face him. "What did you just say."

Well. No sense in backing down now. "We can share," Hawks says again, like it's obvious. It's not such a bad proposal. The mattress isn't huge, but it could fit two fully grown people comfortably enough.

Hawks expects Dabi to be mad, to lash out. Instead, he balks.

"You don't understand. This isn't," Dabi licks his lips in a gesture that speaks of unseen nerves. "That's not what we are."

"Okay. So explain it to me."

"There's nothing to explain."

"Then," and Hawks means this, "I don't see the problem."

Hawks waits quietly while Dabi struggles with his response. Dabi must come up empty because he sighs angrily.

"You know what? Fine. I don't care. I'm going to bed, do whatever you want."

"What I want is to sleep with you," Hawks warns, then blushes furiously as he realizes what he's said. "In the bed with you," he corrects an awkward second later.

Dabi ignores both Hawks' blunder and his intentions, stripping off his clothes. Hawks politely averts his eyes as Dabi changes into a faded gray t-shirt and throws open the covers on the bed.

Hawks doesn't figure he'll find any shirts that would fit his wings around here so he just keeps his on. He kicks off his boots and takes off his pants and throws them both on the rug by his jacket.

He hesitates at the edge of the bed, Dabi's tense, prone form faced away from him.

Hawks thinks about offering to sleep on the couch, then thinks about being in his underwear in an open room anyone could walk into. He crawls into bed next to Dabi, lays facing him so he can drape one wing over the edge of the bed instead of sleeping on top of it. A sense of relief, of security, washes over him. The sheets smell faintly of cigarettes and cinnamon and Dabi.

Dabi is quiet for a long time. Finally, he mumbles, "You'll regret this in the morning." Hawks watches the line of him relax, listens to his breathing even out.

Already drifting off himself, Hawks thinks fondly, No, I won't.

Takami Keigo, 23 years old, double agent for the HPSC and current No. 2 Pro Hero on the billboard charts, wakes up with his face smooshed against a warm plane of muscle and his arms wrapped around another body. The air is dusty with a hint of mold and the light filtering in is coming through the window at the wrong angle and brightness to be his own apartment.

He tenses and thinks Where the hell am I, at the same time Dabi says dryly, "Finally awake?"

Dabi, Keigo's primary League contact and the guy who's basically convinced Keigo is planning to double-cross the villains and sell them out to the heroes. That alone would be dangerous enough, even if he wasn't right. Even if he weren't the worst match up for Keigo in a fight.

Why, Keigo wonders, on the edge of full-blown panic, is he in a bed with Dabi?

Dabi laughs, hard and humorless. "Looks like those memories of yours found their way back."

At Dabi's mention, memories from the previous day start flooding back. Getting ambushed in an alleyway; doing pretty well for himself, but getting hit by a mystery quirk as the thugs retreated. The wave of dizziness, thinking, I'll just sit down for a minute, and then waking up propped against cold brick. Going to KFC. Calling Dabi.

His own feathers still litter the floor of Dabi's bedroom. Dabi's. Bedroom.

"Oh god," he chokes out.

"I tried to tell you," Dabi mocks sharply and Hawks can hear the mean, empty grin.

Keigo extracts himself from Dabi; sits up. Tries to get a handle on the situation; can't. He turns on Dabi.

"Why were you so nice to me?" he demands.

Dabi grin falters, and he seems confused. "I wasn't nice!"

"Were to!" Keigo shoots back like an actual child. "You took me home! You literally held my hand! You gave me an ice pack for my ribs! You let me—" Keigo remembers the way he'd smiled like an idiot and traced the line of staples on Dabi's face. He thinks he might scream. "—Oh god."

"That's not 'nice'," Dabi denies angrily, and Keigo can tell he's ramping up for a rant, but Keigo is busy burying his head in his hands and not paying attention. He sees his own bright red fingernails and nearly loses it.

He tries to think about the situation rationally, but he's so embarrassed he could die. He did so many incredibly stupid things. He pulled what was, in hindsight, a lot of dumb shit—and not once did Dabi incinerate him. Keigo barely even got threatened. He had absolutely been pushing his luck without realizing, and Dabi had just let him keep on pushing.

He thinks again about how yeah, he's stroked Dabi's face; but Dabi had let him.

There are too many variables, too much new information, and his head aches at the mere concept of sorting it all through. Discombobulated, painful thoughts whirl around his brain unhelpfully; his mind races with possibilities. Keigo shuts it all down, funnels it into just one thought, just one terrible idea.

Yesterday, he'd thought he made bad decisions because he didn't know any better. Today, he knows he just makes bad decisions because he's an idiot.

And so, pulse racing, Keigo thinks, What's one more push?

"...It's too early for this," Keigo declares, and collapses back onto the bed. He rolls to his side and snakes his arms around Dabi's torso.

"What the fuck," Dabi wheezes.

Keigo's heart attempts to beat out of his chest. Even with the precedent he'd somehow set yesterday, he's sure he's about to get burned alive. He squeezes his eyes shut and buries his face in the side of Dabi's bony ribs.

After a tense moment, Dabi sighs and Keigo can feel him moving his arms around. There's a click fwoom of a lighter and then the distinctive smell of the off-brand cigarette he associates with Dabi.

Dabi smokes. Keigo fights off a panic attack. After a few minutes, Dabi puts a hand on his head and tangles his fingers into Keigo's hair.

If Keigo had thought his heart was beating fast before, it's nothing compared to now.

"...Can I have some more painkillers?" Keigo mumbles into Dabi's shirt, and Dabi snorts.

"They're in the bathroom. Get 'em yourself."

That would mean Keigo would have to move, and that's the last thing he wants right now. He stays put. He'll take some later.

Dabi runs fingers lightly through Keigo's hair and slowly, Keigo relaxes. They bask in the quiet of an early morning as Dabi puffs languidly on his cigarette.

"You," says Dabi lightly sometime later, light enough that Keigo doesn't spiral back into panic, "owe me 400 yen."

Keigo snorts. "Don't lie—I had temporary amnesia, not terminal stupidity. I only owe you 370."

"That was before inflation," Dabi explains, shifting position to tilt his head away from Keigo; Keigo hears him blow out a puff of smoke. "It's 400 now."

Keigo thinks they could lounge there all morning, in the smoke and the dust and bickering about inflation versus extortion. The thought tugs at the corners of his mouth.

Dabi has just raised his debt to 500 yen when the bedroom door slams open. Keigo startles, twists to see if the noise indicates a threat. Toga stands in the doorway, mouth ajar.

"Get out," Dabi threatens, fingers tightening in Keigo's hair, inadvertently pressing Keigo more snuggly against his chest. Keigo feels his face go pink.

"I knew it!" Toga screams, delighted.

"Get," Dabi grabs a pillow and chucks it, "out!"

His aim is true, but Toga dodges, darting into the hallway. She peeks her head back in, grinning lecherously. "I'll just let everyone know you're busy." Her voice oozes false sympathy.

"Don't you dare!" Dabi yells, but Toga laughs and shuts the door.

Face still red, Keigo says, "The League will definitely think we're dating now."

Dabi sighs, and Keigo feels him shrug.

"Nothing new there."

Hawks snickers into Dabi's stomach, pressing his face into soft fabric and warm skin. His heart skips a beat when he thinks, dizzily, I'm allowed to do this now.

He says, "Nothing new to them, maybe."