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Every night, Takami Keigo has a court trial in his head.


Technically speaking, he’s still a war criminal. He was never prosecuted for the people he killed, the crimes he committed. 


Considering the people he’d betrayed were either dead, by his hand or not, or on the losing side, by way of his triple agent status— for all intents and purposes he got off scot-free. 


Except in his head. Keigo doesn’t think that means much, but there it is.


The judge is his dead father, the jury is the dead commission head and the witness to every single one of his crimes is the dead Touya Todoroki.


They stare at him with hollow faces and crimson feathers sticking out of their bleeding chests.


It goes the same, every time. 


He comes home from his job as magical Japan’s top detective and only Arbiter and he showers in his perfect bathroom and lies in his king sized bed and stares at the ceiling of his comfortable bedroom in his lovely city apartment while the people he betrayed for the sake of the war lie six feet under. 


The high ceiling contorts into a wide hall and he’s slowly condemned and his acts pile up. 


In these dreams, Touya’s face is gleeful, his skin torn and ruined; in these dreams, he wants Keigo to die. 


Scarred hands reach for his neck along with a hundred others and Keigo wakes up before they get to squeeze and he wakes up before his wings get burnt off and he wakes up and burns with the weirdest mixture of relief and all consuming guilt.


He gets up before his alarm and takes another shower, tries to wipe invisible blood off of his torso. 


He’s heard of the saying ‘blood on my hands’ but he never truly understood it. It’s never been just the hands. When his knives twisted into hearts the blood splattered back on his own chest, his arms, his collar, his hands.


(Jin spit the blood back on Keigo’s boots.)


He clamps his eyes shut as showerwater runs through his eyelashes and it’s familiar, like the blood.


There’s been a lot of blood, he reflects. 


Red, red, red. He’s sick of red.


Keigo glances at bright crimson feathers, stacked up on the bench by the bathtub. 


He looks away and rinses shampoo out of his hair.


‘Loosen up, Hawks!’


Keigo stumbles as Miruko claps a hand against his shoulder. He shoots her an annoyed look as he tries to adjust his ruffled wings. 


She cackles at the put on expression and moves forward up gilded steps. He rolls his eyes at her bare, muscled back.


Miruko’s silver, striped suit is open backed like his, though less for convenience and more to show off her impressive musculature. Her tail peeks out at the bottom and, not for the first time, Keigo represses the urge to kick it.


‘Drop the attitude, birdboy,’ she says loudly, and opens the door for him. ‘Tonight I better watch you get fucking trashed, I’m sick of you jabbering about work every time you call.’


‘Maybe you should call, every now and then!’ he says in protest. `It's always me, you’re gonna make me feel lonely, c’mon now!’


‘I tell you to come with me every time we call, ducky,’ she says over her shoulder, hair in a high, classy bun. Keigo gives her an unimpressed look. 


‘Duty to the people,’ he reminds her. ‘Detective for the council, no time to run around playing games—’


She makes a blah blah gesture with her hand and he laughs.


‘Detectives don’t usually sit at a desk,’ she tells him as they walk up to the doors. ‘You get to be in the field, ducky.’


‘Got interns for that,’ he says wistfully. Fumikage in particular had joined up with him a few years back, and was doing excellent work. 


‘I’m sure they wouldn’t mind if their old teacher tagged along,’ Miruko teases.


‘Well,’ Keigo deflects. ‘Maybe next time. For now,’ he spreads his wings grandly, beaming at her, ‘let’s have some fun!’


She laughs and walks backwards to waggle her eyebrows at him. ‘It’s funny seeing someone married to their job say that.’


He sweeps past her, jerking his shoulder against hers. It hurts him more than it does her and he hides his wince as he replies, ‘No rest for the wicked, as they say.’


Miruko snickers as she follows after him. A cleaver shuts the door and they enter the hallway, nodded through by a guard in a black mask. 


‘And you’re meant to be the wicked in this scenario?’ she asks mockingly. ‘Alright, golden boy.’


Keigo kicks her, and she cackles, and they’re glared at by the older guests walking in front of them. Keigo kicks her again once they’ve looked away and they walk on, bickering like children.


The Decennial Requiem Ball is taking place at the Iida mansion this time around, offered by the family generously for the night. Nothing against the Iida’s, but Keigo really hates it because there’s so many stairs going up the front door and he can’t use his wings in a public area where non magicals might see. 


He much preferred last year's Australian hosts— their location was on a mountain. Keigo loves mountains.


They make their way through the hallway to the wide doors leading to the ballroom. Most of the rest of the house is warded off, but Keigo is pretty sure the second Iida son’s room is open to guests under the age of sixty. He wishes he was under the age of sixty.


He sighs as the doors open, and laughs when Miruko nudges him excitedly. 


It’s huge, and despite himself Keigo can’t help staring at the high ceiling as he walks in. The door is at the top of a wide, grand staircase, carpeted in thick, lush red, the flooring polished marble, the walls so glossy he can see his reflection in them. He has the urge to fly up and perch on one of the ornate chandeliers and swing till the attention is on his rioting and the air of the room is all just less


It’s just unbearable in it’s opulence. And Keigo likes shiny things, but this level of extravagance is just annoying.


There’s what feels like a thousand tables and chairs and the wide space in the center of the room is already taken up by bodies dancing in shimmery clothes, pretentious chatter and fake, bubbling laughter. Keigo can feel the headache coming on already. 


‘Well,’ he says, shooting her a dry look, ‘enjoy the walk,’ and spreads his wings and Miruko’s groan is left in the dust as Keigo soars through the room, and he can almost shut out the delighted gasps and shouts when he’s noticed, he’s always noticed.


But he has to come back down soon enough.


Keigo spends the first hour mingling with Grand Mages and government officials, as always, as is his duty. But times have changed and while this is an exhausting routine he’s still forced to endure, it’s not the same old, same old it used to be. 


Call him bitter, weary, but he doesn't like pandering to their old eyes, their invasive questions, the way they think they know .


He doesn’t even have the energy like he used to. Magic keeps you looking young when mortals your age grow up. Keigo has been frozen at twenty two for a hundred and one years. It’s getting exhausting when he’s not really living— he’s surviving. 


Hell, he doesn’t even celebrate his birthday anymore. He’s pretty sure it’s this week though, which is crazy. 


He scrolls down the notification bar, and digits stating 01:34 AM blink up at him. 


27th December, 2021. 


He takes a moment to let it sink in that he turns 124 tomorrow.


‘Where the fuck is he, anyways,’ Miruko says expectantly. ‘I can’t see his edgelord ass.’


(He’s missed her loud voice and perfect hair. Miruko is usually touring some tiny, forgotten part of the world, saving lives and kicking ass. She doesn’t usually come to these things. 


For people like Miruko, moving on is easy. It’s a hop, a skip, and a swim away.


She’s here this time purely because she wants to get in Ryukyu’s tight dragonhide pants, she’d said so when they’d spent Christmas watching bad horror movies on Keigo’s sofa. Keigo had said he doesn’t get the appeal of someone who breathes fire and spends her days living in caves, just to see the funny pinch of Miruko’s eyebrows.)


He pretends his wings don’t twitch and continues scrolling through his Twitter feed, feigns ignorance, saying, ‘Hm? Who?’ 


He gets a kick to the shin for his troubles, and counts himself lucky that his champagne flute is on the table behind him with the gauzy white cloth and not in his hand.


‘Why’re we in this corner, c’mon, Hawks,’ she says, frowning at him with her hands on her hips. ‘Live it up! I don’t even remember the last time I showed up at one of these things.’


‘’cause they suck,’ he tells her boredly, tapping the like button at a funny joke. ‘It’s hours of stupid diplomacy ass-sucking and everyone sitting on the uncomfortable chairs and being jealous of the kids.’


‘The kids?’ Miruko scoffs, disbelieving. ‘Why’re you jealous of a bunch of teens!’


‘Past three times someone’s hotboxed that damn room,’ he says sulkily. ‘It just ain’t fair, Miruko. Fuck the day I turned sixty one.’


She starts laughing again, and he winces at the way the sound garners a few glances towards their corner.


He’s become somewhat of a recluse at these things. 


The lights are low and classy at the Iida mansion. Keigo showed up late and said hello to Tensei an hour earlier and he’s been curled up with his phone in a chair at the corner table he began thinking of as his sixty-something years ago.


Fifty years ago Keigo would have been next to whoever was made host, socializing and laughing and trying to make everyone feel comfortable at an event where people tend to feel stiff, on their guard. He hated it entirely but it might’ve been better then. The guests weren’t so peacetime-comfortable.


These days he doesn’t have to do that. Everyone is loose and relaxed half an hour in.


It’s supposed to be a funeral, Keigo thinks, and his mouth twists around the taste of the overdone, sparkling night. Loud voices, people running around and everyone ignoring the subtle politics of it all.


He feels like a downer for it, like he’s ruining it for everyone, but sometimes he still wakes up sweating with his wings steely and ready for something that isn’t there, reaching for people he killed and saw killed.


Forgive him if he can’t quite relax when the mourning event is dressed up as a party.


The good guys won, though, and he should’ve known they’d turn this into an event like this. He should have expected nothing less from people like Nezu, to let the Requiem Ball grow into whatever this is.


(Keigo misses when the people he liked used to show up. Now he’s surrounded by the winners.)


He can’t admit that though, can’t ruin his image, can’t say anything out of character.


He’s sick of playing a character, he’s sick of the charade. He spent way too long deep undercover with the losers to be comfortable in a place like this. 


At least no one asks him to dance, he thinks wryly, then pauses.


No one except him, he corrects himself.


Keigo gets another kick and he makes a grumbly noise of complaint, looking up. ‘How the hell should I know, Miruko,’ he says crossly. ‘Jesus, it’s not like I’m his keeper.’


‘Eh, I’ve heard that’s what it’s like,’ she shrugs. ‘Follows you around like a dog. All loomy and weird.’


He lifts the thin glass to his mouth so he doesn’t have to reply. The champagne leaves a bitter taste in his mouth, like every interaction he’s had tonight.


‘Hawks,’ she says, and stomps her foot. Keigo shakes his head at her lack of decorum. ‘You’re gonna get yourself kicked out,’ he informs her gently.


She scowls down at him. ‘Well if you’re just gonna be a Debby Downer I’m gonna go find Ryukyu and flirt her pants off while you sit here and play ‘online chess’.’


Keigo is most certainly not playing online chess. He’s sick of winning. What the hell is a Debby Downer .


‘Sure, chicklet,’ she says. ‘It’s another word for loser .’ Keigo squints up at her. ‘Bye, Hawks!’


‘Bye, Miruko,’ he grumbles, and goes back to playing online Scrabble.


He gets bored and finds himself mingling.


Keigo may not like these people, but he most certainly likes people, and he’s sure he can find some non-government types even at a place like this.


Every conversation, however, leaves his fucking head aching. 


A hundred years ago, Keigo had found that pretending to be a villain grew easier by the day, by the hour. All he had to do was say everything innocuous that came to his mind. It was less playing a role, in the end, and more— dropping a mask.


He doesn’t like places like this and people like these. It all leaves this bitterness in his mouth that he can’t wash out.


Their priorities aren't in the right place, he thinks. Keigo is too burnt out to do much about it, and too much of a sanctuary government trained employee to not show up and watch and make sure nothing too immoral happens.


Morals, too, are confusing. He can’t act like the perfect hero. Everyone knows who he is, knows what he’s done, and the kids, he thinks, the kids are a little put off by that.


There’s history books now. There’s a school in each magical state where they learn about the war, about him. It's written down like the pages of a story and everyone knows what happened to the Japanese Commission government of the 1920s.


Some part of him, the people pleaser hero, hurts at that. 


He’d rather surround himself with genuine people with real values but he doesn’t deserve that and he knows it.


The last time Keigo spoke to Shigaraki was a few years ago when he was involved in an investigation at his temple.


The necromancer had taken one look at Keigo and asked when he was going to take a fucking vacation.


Keigo had taken in the ever-tight set of his skinny, ex-warlord shoulders and teasingly asked when Tomura was gonna start eating better.


He’d clicked his tongue and turned, long white hair whipping around his head, and led Keigo to the crime scene. 


(The last time Keigo spoke to Toga was on the battlefield, hushed and pathetic. 


The last time Keigo spoke to Twice was impassive, resigned, moments before he sunk a sharpened feather into his chest.


The last time Keigo spoke to Touya was ten years ago exactly, to the very hour.)


It doesn’t bear speaking of. He never made peace with Himiko, he regrets Jin and he wishes he never had to see Dabi again. 


One of those is a lie.


Keigo leans his back against the table he’s standing by, gauzy cloth scratching against his bare skin. Fashion has come a long way and rather than getting a suit custom made by specialist tailors, he’d seen a backless suit during a night of internet prowling and clicked ‘add to cart’ without a second thought.


It’s a tad… more open then he thought it’d be. He’s gotten a few appreciative glances and Miruko had laughed over his flush. They’re matching though, which definitely made it easier.


He likes it though. It’s freeing. The air feels good against his back and his delicate, downy feathers, usually so stifled, feel open and unconfined. 


He flexes his wings and sighs, feeling cramped, then regrets it when the man he’s speaking to starts cooing over his feathers.


He bears it, and glances over at the doors right as they open and in he comes, like it’s fate, like it's meant to be, like he’d been waiting for Keigo to look.


Any polite attention he’d been offering vanishes.


Tall and pale and scarred, posture terrible, he's slouching and dressed in a slinky black suit and a white shirt. 


A hand goes up to ruffle up his hair and Keigo’s hungry eyes hone in on shiny golden cufflinks, identical to his own.


The suit is striped dark blue at a closer look, and has a high collar that Keigo instantly wants to yank him forward with by the talons.


His hair is a spiky horrific jet–black mess as always, hands buried deep in the pockets of his long coat and his face is already bored as his head turns, scanning the hall as he walks down gilded steps.


You would wonder why he even shows up anymore.  


Keigo certainly does. He thinks part of it might just purely be him wanting to piss Keigo off. 


It’s not even vanity speaking there. 


Because just like every single time, his gaze flicks through the hall and he finds what he’s looking for in seconds.


Eyes like chips of ice, brighter than the chandelier overhead land on Keigo and his fucking mouth curves up into that wicked, cocky grin that Keigo tells himself he’s sick to the bones of.


His stomach plummets and his wings turn to steel.


He frowns.


Dabi’s white grin gets wider.


His casual walk remains just as slow, just as unbothered, like black tar, like lava, like oil he flows down the wide staircase, bright eyes set on Keigo like a red laser target.


It’s gravity, plain and simple. Keigo has wings, though, so he defies gravity. 


He makes an excuse to the man and whirls around and catches Miruko, laughing and curving her arm around a rapidly reddening Ryukyu’s waist.


He’s at her side and tapping her arm, ‘Miruko, hey, where’s the kid’s room.’


She tilts her head and says, ‘What, why?’ and catches sight of something over Keigo’s shoulder. Keigo tenses as her smile grows. 


‘Ohhh, there he is. Man, to be honest with ya,’ she confides, head turned to Ryukyu, ‘I was half sure it was a joke. Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?’


Ryukyu rolls her eyes and slaps her shoulder with some low murmur but Keigo doesn’t have time for their flirting and says, ‘Miruko !’


She laughs, and jerks a thumb at a side door, under an archway connected by two of the tall pillars that surround the room’s walls. 


He’s downed his flute in seconds. 


He threads his way through the crowd, hyper aware of eyes on his bare back. Keigo’s intern Fumikage is probably in the room by now, and if they let him or his friends control the music in there it’ll be terrible for his ears but it would be great for his heart. 


His fingers have barely grazed the doorknob when long, unnaturally hot fingers wrap around his wrist.


He’s pulled back almost tenderly and red wings hit a hard chest.


Dabi’s free hand curls around his jaw and tilts his head up, peering at him upside down. 


‘Hello, little bird,’ he whispers, teeth bared in what he probably thinks is an endearing smile, but it’s just tiger fangs.


Keigo sags.


‘Hello, asshole,’ he replies, miserable.


(And there it is.)


‘Why were you running , Hawks?’ he teases, twisting his fingers and spinning Keigo around so they can look at each other right. As always, the name sounds like a goad.


Keigo flattens his mouth into a thin line, and crosses his arms. ‘I don’t run.’


‘You run all the time.’


‘I’m never running.’


‘But you just were.’


'No I was not.'


'Yeah you were.'


‘No, you’re mistaken.’


‘I never make mistakes.’ 


‘Alright, I have lists of arguments for that one, hotshot.’


‘Blah, blah, you practically sprinted!’ 


‘I was making a tactical retreat!’ Keigo protests heatedly, and Dabi laughs and pulls him forward.


Keigo swallows, and lets himself be dragged along, into his orbit. 


Because it’s not just his feathers that sharpen, at the sight of his eyes, his mouth. 


The world sharpens, comes back into focus. It’s as if the second Keigo lays eyes on him, everything is new and bright and interesting again. The candlelight was hollow, before. Now it wraps itself around his dark, striped suit, clings to his broad shoulders and long legs, makes his hair look soft and he wants to bury his hands in that mess and tug and twist and— 


Every fucking time , he laments.


He’s led them onto the dancefloor, the subtle bastard, and the murmuring crowd parts for him like water for a knife, and isn’t that a goddamn joke.


Everyone is used to this, himself included. Keigo manages to ignore the whispers and stares because those eyes are on him again. 


‘Were you really trying to avoid me? Oh, birdie,’ he says, all smug and confident and spinning Keigo again, making his head swim.


When he stops spinning Dabi’s nose is pressing into his cheek, they’re that close.


The staples are cold against Keigo’s skin and his breath is hot. 


‘You know that’s impossible with us,’ he murmurs. 


Keigo huffs out a laugh and shoves him off.


Dabi’s lip juts out like a kid that’s been denied his favorite toy, and Keigo feels much the same way but he thinks he hides it better.


I don’t want to dance with you, he thinks, and doesn’t say, because Dabi would call him a liar.


‘You haven’t mingled yet,’ he says instead.


Dabi’s bright eyes roll back and his fingers crook into Keigo’s elbow, yanking him back.


It’s the same, every time. 


‘There is no way,’ Dabi says haughtily, ‘you expect me to mingle with these freaks. C’mon, Kei,’ and Keigo laughs for the first time in several months. 


‘Like, look at ‘em,’ he continues, voice rising in disbelief, hand sliding down to cup Keigo’s hip. ‘Fucking All Might showed up this year. All Might. You want me to go schmooze with All Might, pretty bird? You want me to cultivate my relationship with fucking All Might?’


Keigo is pressed to his side and he sighs, reaching his hand out as a waiter passes by to snatch some little snack thing he never bothered to learn the name of. He bets Dabi knows, because he’s just that kind of guy.


‘I think it’s worth a shot,’ he says. ‘You’d only benefit, wouldn’t you?’


‘Oh yeah? All Might probably wants to have one of his deep talks with me, to be honest,’ he says. His hand is rising up to Keigo’s back, fingers poking into feathers.


‘Tell you all about what matters is what’s inside, give a hug that makes your ribs crack.’ 


‘Hand me a bento to make sure I grow up big and strong, oh man ,’ Dabi sucks in a breath through his teeth. ‘The good stuff.’


‘He calls me ‘my boy’ for some fuckin’ reason,’ Keigo admits, and gets a laugh in response.


‘He’s probably dying for it,’ Dabi decides, and presses in entirely too close.


Keigo lets himself enjoy the heat radiating off his body for a grand total of three seconds before pulling back.


Dabi tugs him back in just as easily.


‘What is he even doing here,’ Dabi says, and looks down at him expectantly. 


‘What makes you think I know?’


‘You know everything,’ and it’s a joke but his eyes are stuck on Keigo.


Deep, deep blue. Pupils dilated. He feels woozy on it, figures he looks much the same.


‘I know that I suddenly need to go talk to the Irish education minister,’ Keigo tries, and Dabi gives him a look and he wilts. 


‘C’mon,’ Dabi says, almost comfortingly. ‘c’mon,’ and adjusts his arm to wrap around Keigo’s waist.


The music changes and Keigo goes, not easily, but something more like tiredly . Resigned in his fate.


‘He’s here ‘cause that finger-breaker vigilante kid came this year,’ Keigo murmurs as he turns his head. ‘He’s still training him, what with all those prophecies I’m sure you’ve heard of.’


He should feel guilty about revealing sensitive information to an ex-con. He should be more cautious. 


But that’s old news— that’s just how it is with him and Dabi. Telling each other shit they both know they shouldn’t.


Dabi only nods once. ‘Makes sense. Shit, we’re old.’


‘Speak for yourself,’ Keigo says instantly. ‘I’m three years younger than you.’


‘It’s more like two, fucking hag,’ he says, and Keigo steps on his toe, relishing in the hiss of pain.


‘Stop it!’ He kicks back. ‘These are new shoes and you’re getting your dirt all over them!’


‘They aren’t even polished, you liar,’ Keigo rolls his eyes, spinning to dodge his kick.


‘I’m gonna bite you,’ he threatens when they’re back, face to face.


‘Kinky,’ Keigo jokes, and doesn’t even have the energy to regret it when Dabi’s warm hand instantly slips lower on his back. 


He tucks his face into Dabi’s scarred neck and inhales his scent. He’s changed his cologne. It’s something more subtle, something woodsy. 


The music changes again, and Keigo is slowly getting more and more relaxed.


Dabi’s mouth presses against Keigo’s ear and he feels his warm lips move as he says, ‘Look at that. It’s our song.’


Keigo is in control, he’s in control and he doesn’t shiver.  


He leans back so he can see his face and accuses, ‘You say that about every damn song.’


‘Because the world is ours,’ Dabi says, like a vow, and laughs loud and carefree when Keigo buries his groan in his neck. 


In his peripheral vision he sees people glance over at them at the sound, so pure and lovely, coming from the mouth of a villain like him. His wings spread to shield them from view.


Ridiculous, Keigo thinks. His throat feels tight. It’s ridiculous. 


It’s an old song, and the lights dim, and everyone is swaying slowly. They’re in a little red cocoon, his wings protecting them from stares and whispers.


Red, red, red. It’s fine if he thinks about his eyes, though.


Dabi’s hot lips brush against his temple.


It’s fine.



An hour later it’s not so fine. 


They’re still dancing, though Keigo’s feet are starting to get tired— and so are his ears. Dabi hasn’t shut up for even a moment. 


He’s also a bit hungry.


‘I’m hungry,’ Keigo tells him.


Dabi hums. 


‘Yeah, same, let's see— oh look,’ he says, gleeful, ‘they’re serving chicken today!’


Keigo rolls his eyes and kicks his shin. Dabi swerves and dodges easily and Keigo grumbles. 


He glances over at the dining table and rolls his eyes.


‘That’s not even chicken, are you blind,’ he says, exasperated. ‘It’s pork, they’ve got the whole— apple in mouth cliche, and everything.’ 


Dabi squints over Keigo’s head and says, ‘Oh yeah. You might be right. So wait— they don’t put apples in chicken-mouths?’


‘No? Wh— they never have! Where would you even get that!’ Keigo stares up at him.


‘Well— like, it’s common with the pig isn’t it,’ he says defensively. ‘I don’t fuckin’ know, I dunno jackshit about white people dishes!’


‘Alright, fine, but still, Jesus,’ Keigo says, rolling his eyes again. ‘fucking— stupid rich kid, you’re probably more likely to know about foreign dishes than me.’


‘You’re stereotyping me when you know exactly how my life has gone. Cunt,’ Dabi says, and spins him. 


Keigo says, ‘I’m starting to think you spin me only when you wanna distract— Dabi!’ He laughs as he’s spun again. 


Dabi is grinning down at him when he comes to a stop. 


They smile at each other. Their noses brush, and Keigo’s eyes slip half-shut.


‘You’d look great with an apple in your mouth, birdie,’ Dabi says sincerely, right against his mouth.


Keigo shuts his eyes. He’s such a moment-ruiner.


‘You’re so fucking annoying,’ he says. ‘God, it’s cold in here.’ There’s gotta be some kind of magic at hand, Keigo can’t see a single air conditioner.


‘Can’t tell,’ Dabi says, flashing him a smirk, as he pulls Keigo closer to his body heat.


They continue dancing, and his stomach continues to grumble.


‘Hey— get me one of those thingies,’ Keigo requests, pointing a wingtip in the direction of a passing waiter holding a tray.


Dabi tilts his head and grins down at him. ‘Thingies?’


‘You know,’ Keigo complains. ‘I don’t know what they are—’


‘They serve them every fucking time!’


‘So what! Sorry I never learnt the names of some,’ he flaps his hand carelessly, ‘niche weirdass Italian—’


‘They’re so popular and it’s not even Italian it’s French—’


‘I super don’t care, Touya, just get me one of those little fuckin’ whatevers.’


‘They’re called hors d'oeuvres,’ Dabi informs him, and Keigo says, ‘Well I want to fucking devour them so go get me some.’


Dabi is still laughing as he walks off towards the waiter.


Keigo finds himself hounded by nosey government types the second he’s gone.


‘Hawks! Was that Dabi?’


‘Hawks what do you have to say about the new treaty between Japan and magical Australia—’


‘Hi, Hawks, I was hoping you had a moment to catch up—!’


They’re relentless, but he’s trained for this, after all. 


Keigo answers all their questions carefully, easily, a warm smile on his face, but they keep coming. He was fine in his corner of the room, out of sight under the archways, but the moment he’s stranded in the middle of the floor they pounce.


He’s in the middle of a particularly uncomfortable conversation with a blonde teacher from the new school in Ireland, who clearly doesn’t know what he’s doing here because he keeps shooting admiring glances at Keigo’s talons, when Dabi’s hand wraps around his elbow.


‘I’m stealing him,’ Dabi informs the blonde guy, who is wide eyed and squeaks, ‘Yes sir, sorry sir!’ 


Keigo laughs as he’s steered away, and Dabi says, ‘Who the hell even was that.’


‘I think he introduced himself, had one of those funny cute little white people names,’ Keigo says. He takes a long sip of his glass, and Dabi laughs and stops them near Keigo’s table where he’s already gotten ready plates of food.


‘Stop drinking ,’ Dabi says, and steals Keigo’s beloved glass of champagne.


‘What is your problem? Give it back—’ Keigo tries to take it back but Dabi is taller, and holds it up aloft.


Dabi laughs incredulously as Keigo flies up into the air to try and grab the glass, and drops his arm down to hold it below and away from him.


‘You’re gonna get fuckin’ drunk—’


‘I’m not a goddamn lightweight,’ Keigo informs him, and flaps a wing angrily into Dabi’s face.


‘Yes you are, you’re a bigger lightweight than me and that’s saying something,’ he says, pushing feathers out of his hair and giving Keigo a disparaging look.


‘No way am I a bigger lightweight than— than you ,’ Keigo scoffs. ‘Do you remember last ball—’


‘Yes I do, shut up,’ Dabi interrupts coolly. ‘And I haven’t drank a drop since then.’


Keigo starts giggling, and Dabi groans. ‘You’re already wasted—’


‘No,’ Keigo says, straightening his face, ‘’m fine, we’re all good, just— get me some water.’


‘It’s on the table,’ he says exasperatedly, ‘just sit down .’


Keigo sits down, and blinks at the plates of food. 


‘Huh,’ he says, ‘so there was chicken.’


Dabi sits next to him and kicks him once, before hooking their ankles together. Keigo ignores this and digs in delightedly.


Of course he doesn’t shut up though.


Keigo tunes him out for most of it, practiced. He’s been dealing with it since he was twelve, after all.


He tunes back in when he’s nearly done with his plate.


‘—the Decennial Requiem Ball,’ Dabi is saying thoughtfully, ‘I like to think of it more as… Dabi’s Decennial Drug Intake .’ He gestures wildly to emphasize, what exactly, Keigo can’t be sure. He mispronounces decennial


Keigo snorts into his drink anyways. ‘What’s the drug? Rich people and high fashion?’


Dabi shoots him a wide smirk. ‘Sure,’ he agrees. ‘Rich people and high fashion.’ He shakes his head, like he’s laughing at a joke only he understands.


Keigo is too relaxed to overthink it, though.


‘And aren’t you supposed to wean yourself off of drugs?’ Keigo wonders. ‘Shouldn’t it happen less and less over time? Why would you make it a decennial thing even..’ He trails off, sucking at a bone carefully before tossing it onto an extra plate, already forming a small pile of chicken bones and the vegetables neither of them eat.


Dabi tilts his head to the side as he leans back in his seat. His arm is outstretched over the back of Keigo’s chair. ‘What makes you think I don’t love this particular vice,’ he says. 


His sharp blue eyes meet Keigo’s. Dark bangs fall into his eyes, and feeling a bit stuck on the contrast of his pale skin and black hair, Keigo sucks at his soft drink straw loudly in an attempt to make him snort.


It works but Dabi leans in even further.


‘Gimme some of that,’ he mutters, and Keigo complains about how he needs to stop being a lazy cuck and go get his own drinks, but Dabi’s already tipped the glass back entirely.


Keigo scowls at the cut of his mottled purple jaw, the way medical stables glint under the bright lights.


He looks like such a rebel, such an outlier from every prettied up and clean cut asshole at this convention. He’s the black sheep, a bad egg, a scapegrace. He’s a scab you keep picking it, trying to make it fuck off but it just grows back.


Keigo wants to say he makes it worse, that he makes things complicated. 


He’s self aware though, and it’s like this— there’s a mess of wires in his brain, and he feels like an overheated machine, whirring and wound up but when Dabi presses his hand to Keigo’s, every knot undoes itself. He’s like a soother, the balm to Keigo’s ‘wound up’.




He’s too much, Keigo thinks.


Dabi wipes his mouth then stands up abruptly. ‘C’mon, baby, break time’s over, we’re dancing the night away. The doctor said if my feet die he’s not fixing them but he was probably lying so get the fuck up, on your bird-feet. Off topic but do you have bird feet?’


Keigo is still laughing as he’s guided back to the dance floor. 


Yeah, he never stood a chance.


‘Fix your tie,’ Keigo says, instead of telling him no, I don’t have bird feet, but you already knew that.


‘No. Does your suit have to be so open ,’ Dabi says irritably, his hand large and hot and spread wide against Keigo’s lower back. 


He feels guilty just reveling in the touch, but he’s so cold, and so greedy. 


‘Yes, because I have wings , Dabi,’ he says, hoping his voice doesn’t shake.


‘Unbelievable,’ he says. His hand spreads wider, like he’s trying to touch as much skin as he can without being told to fuck off. ‘Who told you to grow wings.’


‘Your mom,’ Keigo says succinctly. 


Dabi mimics him under his breath, because he’s an actual child .


‘And besides, don’t act like you’re complaining,’ he says with a wide smile up at Dabi, basking in the faint flush over healthy white skin. He’s been staring all night and Keigo loves calling him out when he slips up.


Dabi blinks down at him and then curses under his breath. His ears are pink as he turns his head away


‘Tch. You’re crazy. Shut the hell up and dance,’ he mutters, and Keigo laughs. 


‘Whatever you say,’ he beams.




They’re on the third song after their dinner when Dabi’s hand tightens on Keigo’s fingers. 


‘Oh my god,’ he murmurs. ‘I can’t believe it.’


‘What,’ Keigo says.


‘Fuckin’ Compress is here.’


‘Not him,’ Keigo groans even as he glances to where Dabi’s eyes are trained. 


His own eyes widen in disbelief. ‘Is that—?’


‘He brought his fuckin’ magic stick,’ Dabi says, with acute disgust.


‘Holy shit— and he’s wearing a top hat. Oh my god, here we go—’ He rolls his eyes.


‘Why is his tie like that what are those— are those cats? Are those tiny cat faces?’


‘I think so. Shit, who even invited him,’ Keigo whines.


‘Probably fucked someone in charge of the guest list,’ Dabi reasons and Keigo turns his head to hide his laugh. ‘I’m right and you know it!’


‘Yeah,’ he agrees. ‘You’re right.’


‘He’s a fuckin’ rake,’ Dabi mutters.


‘Says you,’ Keigo tells him, and Dabi gives him this aghast, offended look that makes Keigo throw his head back delightedly.


His giggles are cut short when he looks back down. ‘Holy shit, no—’


‘What’s he—?’


Keigo glares over Dabi’s shoulder. ‘Is he trying to talk to Lady Nagant ?’


Dabi starts laughing, and Keigo says, horrified, ‘Holy fucking shit, Touya, he’s waving at her. She isn’t even looking at him and he’s just— Touya ,’ and Dabi laughs harder. 


‘Holy—’ he wheezes, ‘holy shit, holy fuck, Kei, he’s tryn’a fuck Lady Nagant.’


‘Not on my watch, he isn’t.’


 Dabi hiccups, and Keigo says, ‘I’m gonna kill him,’ and that sets Dabi off again.


‘He’s trying t’a,’ Dabi chokes, ‘he wants to fuck Lady Nagant —’


‘Does he think he has a chance ?’ Keigo asks, disbelieving, and Dabi grabs his shoulder for support, going, ‘ Keigo!’ while laughing.


‘Unbelieva— he’s coming this way,’ and Dabi sobers up.


‘No,’ he says, distressed. He shakes Keigo’s shoulder and says again, ‘No.’


‘Yes, he is coming this way,’ Keigo grimaces. ‘Act casual.’


Dabi turns to Keigo and says quickly, ‘Did you watch the Captain America movie.’


‘Excuse me,’ Keigo says, eyeing Compress’s shoes. They clack with every step, are they tap shoes ?


‘Did you watch it?’


‘Aren’t they like five of them,’ he says dully. Compress’s magic stick taps one second after his shoes and the dissonance is pissing off Keigo’s more baseline instincts.


‘I don’t know, maybe, but did you watch it?’


‘Which one are you referring to, I might’ve caught it, I don’t fuckin’ know—’


‘Did you watch the one where he and Black Widow had to kiss to act casual,’ Dabi says, and Keigo says, ‘Literally shut the fuck up, I am not gonna kiss yo— hiii , Sako-san, what’s up!’


Keigo beams dazzlingly.


Dabi stares at Compress with the most disappointed look Keigo has ever seen on his face.


Compress bows. 


Dabi’s expression deepens.


‘Hello, young hawk! You’re looking splendid,’ he says cheerily, and then adds stiffly, ‘Salutations Dabi.’


‘What the fuck is a salutation,’ Dabi says.


‘It’s like hello for nice people,’ Keigo says steadily. ‘How’re you doing these days, Sako-san?’


Compress smiles wider. At least Keigo thinks he does. He’s still in that funky mask of his, even though everyone knows who he is.


‘Thankyou for asking, I’m doing great! I recently started a tailor’s business, it’s going quite well, I have excellent sponsors,’ he starts rambling, and Dabi glares over his head while Keigo nods and smiles.


He gets bored of that though, so he interrupts, ‘I saw you waving at Lady Nagant.’


Dabi’s attention snaps back.


‘Ah yes,’ Compress falters, staring wistfully into the distance. ‘My— my lady, she seems angry with me.’


Keigo smiles. ‘Does she?’


‘Yes,’ he confesses. ‘She didn’t wave back. And it had been going so well…’ He trails off, looking downright mournful.


‘What was going so well,’ Keigo says, his smile turning frosty.


Dabi sniggers, next to him. Keigo steps on his toes and looks at Compress expectantly.


‘I— we had been in conference,’ he explains, ‘over text messages, you understand. A few days earlier, I sent her a nice cat GIF—’ he pronounces it jif , and Keigo’s eye twitches.


‘It encompassed my feelings, you know. Confession via GIF! I thought it— revolutionary. Special. Maybe even tender. And she left me on ‘seen’, as the kids say,’ he finishes tragically, sweeping his top hat off and pressing it to his chest. 


He shrugs, like ‘what can you do’.


There’s a pause, then Dabi starts clapping, loud and slow and vigorous, and Keigo pinches his side. He stops, but is undoubtedly beaming like an asshole.


‘That’s horrible,’ he says sympathetically. ‘Too bad.’


‘Well,’ he says miserably, ‘what should I expect? A guy like me… a— a beautiful, strong, powerful woman like her… she’s— out of my league.’


‘Sako,’ says a clear, crisp voice from behind him. 


 Keigo’s head turns slowly.


Compress perks up like a 90’s cartoon dog, eyes probably going wide under his mask. Keigo’s brain conjures up heart-pupils.


 ‘M-my— my lady?’ 


‘Come make me a dinner plate, babe,’ Lady Nagant says, and then her sharp eyes land on Keigo and Dabi. ‘Ah. Evening, replacement. And—’ Her lip curls. ‘Dabi.’


Dabi says fervently, ‘You are so fucking cool,’ and Keigo stammers, ‘Why are— why would— Compress??’


Lady Nagant says, ‘I don’t understand, kid. And okay,’ she tells Dabi, smiling uncaringly. ‘Whatever.’


She leaves and Compress trails after her like a puppy. Keigo is aghast.


‘She—’ he says helplessly, and Dabi pets his hair, slow and soothing. Keigo would’ve slapped his hand off if he wasn’t feeling so betrayed right now.


‘It’s okay, birdie,’ he says comfortingly. ‘She likes her men pathetic, or whatever that meme thing is.’ His arms are around Keigo. Distantly, he thinks people might be looking, but he’s a little preoccupied.


‘Jesus,’ Keigo says. ‘That’s horrible, don’t explain it.’


‘Okay,’ he says agreeably.


Keigo pauses.


‘Actually, I’m curious now, tell me.’


Dabi laughs.


‘Let’s getchu a drink, pretty bird,’ he says bracingly. ‘You’ll need one for this little niche.’


His hand is on Keigo’s shoulder, and Keigo lets him lead. It’s easier, that way. 




Dabi’s face is streaked with pink glitter and Keigo laughs out loud.


He shushes him, free hand in Keigo’s back pocket as he shuts the side door carefully. 


There’s a window, half open and stained glass and there’s only the moon and glinting stars lighting the hallway. Keigo thinks the carpet is probably red like it is everywhere else but in this light it looks purple, royal and secret.


‘Gotta be real slow with these things,’ he says under his breath, a grin in his voice.


‘Oh, don’t be so dramatic, there’s like a billion people and music, no one will hear you closing a goddamn door,’ Keigo says. He’s pressing his face to Dabi’s scarred skin, nosing at his jaw.


Dabi laughs and Keigo feels it against his whole soul. 


‘Old habits die hard,’ his round chin digs into Keigo’s head as they move, pressed together. Keigo doesn’t ever want to not be touching him. He goes years without seeing him, and he finds himself clinging, now. 


‘You wanna keep dancin’, firecracker?’ Keigo asks, tilting his head up to catch that intense gaze and it’s on him already.


Dabi nods slowly, and his fingers slip into Keigo’s, chipped black nail tapping out a gentle rhythm on his knuckles only he can hear, but Keigo thinks there’s something about being close enough to know there is a rhythm at all, that must matter. It must.


They’re barely even dancing, just swaying and pressed close, not like how they were inside the ballroom. In the ballroom it was classy waltz after classy tango and they weren’t pressed flush like this


This is intimate and quiet and Keigo likes the cool moonlight flooding the hallway and he likes drowning in the hot gleam in his eyes. 


He starts humming, like he can read Keigo’s mind. 


Dabi presses his forehead to Keigo’s, and Keigo’s eyelids slip shut.


Their feet bump and they both let out quiet laughs at the fumble. Neither of them are particularly good dancers. For him, Keigo would certainly try, though.


God, he’s having dangerous thoughts tonight.


‘Touya,’ he says after an age, and Dabi says lowly, ‘Run away with me.’


Keigo’s shoulders drop.


He says, ‘Don’t answer,’ and Keigo opens his eyes and catches him red handed, staring at Keigo with a look of such desperate, infinitesimal longing on his face that Keigo feels goosebumps rise all over his skin.


His dyed eyebrows are furrowed and the set of his scarred mouth is lined with love. This is criminal, somehow. 


Keigo’s lips part. He feels overly warm, like he always has in Dabi’s presence. 


‘Touya,’ he says again.


Dabi says, rougher, ‘Just— don’t fucking answer.’


Keigo swallows, and Dabi’s fingers flex against his bare back.


‘I’ve asked you before,’ he says, and his thumb dips into the dimple in Keigo’s back, and he’s a criminal for stealing Keigo’s breath.


He remembers. 


‘We were kids,’ he continues, ‘but I meant it. Still do. I,’ he breaks off, wets his mouth. ‘I—’


He looks helpless.


Keigo wants to lean in. 


‘You what?’ His voice comes out a rasp.


‘I want—’ He pauses again, like it physically hurts to admit it. 


The crazy thing is that Keigo isn’t forcing him, he’s just staring at him and he’s saying it, saying it in stutters like there’s a gun to his head. Keigo wonders if he wants to say it. 


‘I want you,’ he finally says, and his eyes shut like he’s been through hell to get here. Keigo thinks he has.


His hands are shaking on Keigo’s skin. Keigo’s hands are shaking too.


‘Touya,’ he says.


‘Shut the fuck up and dance with me.’


Keigo is terrible at staying quiet when it’s him though.


You don’t want that,’ Keigo says. He doesn’t mean the dance.


Dabi’s fingers tighten in his own.’Fuck you,’ he says. ‘I want you.’


‘I asked you,’ Keigo whispers harshly. ‘After the war, when it was over—’


‘Yeah, you did.’


‘They asked everyone,’ because they had. They’d asked each and every member of the League, because the Commission was gone and the new, unsteady governors knew they had to compensate. They’d asked everyone if they had any requests, any particular changes they wanted to see, anything personal even, but—  


‘But you, you said you couldn’t think of anything.’ 


He’d stayed quiet, his eyes bright and on Keigo, and he’d said nothing.


And Keigo had thought about that, for a long, long time.


‘I knew Shigaraki would say the important stuff. We had lists , before. Whole discussions on it. But I didn’t ask for anything because I’d already done what I wanted,’ Dabi tells him. ‘I’d finished Endeavor. And that was it. No more glorious purpose.’


‘He’s— he’s in jail, you wanted him dead,’ Keigo says desperately. ‘You— you wanted him dead.’


And Keigo had never wanted him dead. But he’d been willing. At some point, he’d realized that, because he wants Dabi to have what he wants, because— Keigo never went with him, like he’d asked. He wonders if Dabi can tell.


‘I did,’ he agrees. ‘And then— I realized. He’d— it’s better. He’s locked up for life on that prison island and he thinks his morals are above them and he’s gonna go fuckin’ crazy in there, I know he is, because before they locked him up he was trying to—’ Dabi laughs, a little manic. ‘Like Fuyumi wanted. He was tryin’ to fix things. ‘Cause he’d gotten what he wanted, by then. The glory— the purpose was gone, ‘cause he’d won over All Might.


‘And it’s better like this, y’see. ‘Cause— it’s, I wanted him dead, alright, I did. But it is infinitely better to see him suffer once he’s realized. Once he knows, that he was fucking horrible. So once everyone knew, and his career was over, and they locked his ass up, I realized that I didn’t want anything more from them.’


Keigo’s father is also locked up. Endeavor had put him away. He watches Dabi’s face, and he exhales.


‘So— fuck, Touya, so why are you saying this now,’ Keigo says tiredly. ‘Why now.’


Dabi’s eyes roll skyward.


‘Fucking— Because ,’ he spits. ‘Don’t you see, because I’m selfish, okay. Because I’m— you know me. I take what I want , Keigo,’ and his eyes are dark and he can see the want in them but he refuses, he—


‘I want you, don’t deny that,’ he says. ‘I’ve wanted you. And I take what I want. And I’m a selfish bastard. But you—’ he breaks off, eyes shutting. ‘You.’


Keigo stares at him.


‘You don’t do that, alright. You and your— fuckin’ complex, you stupid goddamn hero , you and your self sacrificing ass— you never take what you want,’ Dabi says frustratedly. ‘You never even go so far as to admit — you just. Just, I want you, and I’m sick of you never being selfish, and I’m,’ he swallows.


‘I’m gonna be selfish for you, then.’


Keigo’s breathless, and this is criminal.


‘Because you— you always stay quiet, and you leave off and you’re so far above me, it’s sick,’ Dabi says, voice gone hoarse. ‘It’s fuckin’ sick, birdie. So I stayed quiet, and I figured, I’d give you your time, you’d— you’d figure it out at your own pace but Jesus, it’s been a hundred fucking years and everybody moved on , Keigo.’




He’s heard enough.


Keigo slams him against the wall and Dabi’s head jerks forward at the last minute, instincts sharp as the feather blade in Keigo’s right hand.


And he’s laughing again, a choked, wheezing sound that hurts to hear but Keigo is steel, and the sound of his back hitting the wall echoes in his mind.


‘Ohhh, man. Was that too much? Oh, or are we at that point in the night already?’ he taunts, his words coming out in clouds of smoke, the air hot and emitting sparks. ‘Is that what you want? I’ll give it to you. You never say it, just say you want it, I always know you do—’


He’s sick of Dabi’s intimidation tactics, he’s sick of it all. He’s sick of the innuendo. Dabi is never fucking straightforward.


Dabi twists words and monologues and talks his way out of it. Keigo stays quiet, tosses careful barbs and half truths. They’re both secretive, but Keigo hates secrets when they’re not his, and especially when they’re Dabi’s. He thinks it goes the other way around too.


Keigo’s hands are fisted in his collar the way he’d wanted to when he saw him walk in and he hates his secrets so he says, ‘What.’


‘C’mon,’ Dabi says. ‘Don’t play dumb. You know.’


‘What are you on about.’


‘I guess you always were a bit dim,’ he says, faux thoughtful, and Keigo says evenly, ‘I have a knife to your throat. I’d keep the sass to a minimum if I were you.’


Dabi swallows and Keigo feels his throat bob even as he watches it, the feather pressed to his ruined skin.


‘That point in the night,’ he says softly, ‘when you try to get me to fight you, because you miss fighting people, because you’re stuck at a desk all day, because you miss being out on the field, but you won’t get out of the fucking Sanctuary because you think you need to be punished for your crimes even though literally fuckin’ no one else thinks that way.’


He’s not even out of breath when he’s done talking. He just looks down at Keigo impassively. 


Keigo’s breath comes out in shallow exhales.


He hates when Dabi looks down at him. It makes him feel small.


‘Admit it.’


He doesn’t say anything. It’s all over his face.


'You miss the war,' Dabi spits.


Keigo inhales, a long, shuddering thing. 


'That is such a fucking horrible thing to say.'


‘I don’t care. If I don’t tell you nobody else will.’


‘I don’t—’


‘You can’t lie to me,’ and his eyes are boring into Keigo’s. Keigo feels like he’s never gonna be able to breathe again.


He tries again, louder, ‘I don’t miss—’ 


‘You miss the war,’ Dabi says darkly, ‘because even though you hated the death and the fighting it’s the only time you ever felt useful because it’s what the fucking Commission trained you for and you think you can’t be more than a weapon.’


He pauses.


‘And you miss me,’ Dabi says, an edge of something longing in his voice. It makes his voice go lower in pitch.


Keigo is silent and he can’t cry because he doesn’t have tear ducts. 


And Dabi was doing that thing he does where he tells himself to go cold and uncaring but his mask cracks, now.


‘You can be whatever you fucking want,’ he whispers, and his hand comes up and holds Keigo’s jaw like it’s something fragile.’You can do whatever you fucking want.’


‘It’s impossible to get out of there,’ Keigo tells him. ‘It’s impossible.’


‘How the hell would you know when you’ve never tried ,’ he whispers, frustrated. 


Keigo’s feathers are down, and Dabi’s eyes are bright like chips of ice, like the stars, like the future.


‘Times have changed,’ he says passionately. ‘Times have actually, really fucking changed and things are genuinely better now—’


‘No they haven’t, Touya, you just think they have because you’re not in the fucking midst of it all like I am, I see it every day around me,’ Keigo blurts out wildly, feeling unhinged. ‘It’s fucking— every goddamn day there’s these cold, douchey people and none of them fucking care, man, they don’t give a shit—’


‘And then there’s you,’ Dabi says, and his hands are unbelievably warm. ‘You, and people like you. Look at the council, this isn’t the Commission government we’d been looking at during the war. Times have changed , Keigo,’ he repeats, so steadily that Keigo wants to believe him so fucking badly. ‘You don’t have to work so hard, anymore. There’s more people siding with us. There’s more people working for us, they consult Shigaraki. It’s alright.’ 


Keigo stares up at him. ‘Since when are you the optimist,’ is all he can manage.


Dabi’s eyes are soft. ‘Eh, we switch roles. It’s like flipping the coin.’


‘Are you calling us a coin? Not very romantic of you.’


Dabi kisses his forehead.


‘You can take a break,’ he says, mouth against skin.


Dabi’s calloused thumb strokes along Keigo’s cheekbone, just once, his eyes looking sharp and steady into Keigo’s. He feels like he’s on fire.


‘The war is over, Keigo,’ he says. 


‘I know.’


‘Do you?’ he presses. ‘Because you don’t act like it. Always so fucking stiff, always coiled like a goddamn whip. You need to chill the fuck out, birdie.’


His hand slips down and Keigo tenses instantly.


Dabi’s sigh is hot against his mouth, billowing from his lips, black like steam. ‘See? You’re proving my point, dumbass.’


His voice is gentle and so is his hand as it cups Keigo’s throat in a way that should be terrifying, but feels almost— reverent. 


Keigo’s pulse speeds up beneath his long fingers. Dabi’s gaze grows heavy and low lidded.


‘Well what the fuck do you expect me to do ,’ he says sharply, suddenly seething. ‘I’m— I can’t change it overnight, it’s fucking impossible, everything is too goddamn much and you’re right, okay, you’re fucking right about all of it, I‘m tired, I’m so tired and I don’t know what to do, I can’t get out of this fucking mindset, I’m terrified they’ll come back and it’s so irrational, I don’t know shit—’


‘Keigo,’ he interrupts, and he snaps, ‘What ,’ and Dabi leans in and kisses him quiet.


He goes still.


Dabi’s mouth is unnaturally hot. It’s achingly familiar. His tongue is quick to lick over Keigo’s bottom lip, his thumb strokes at Keigo’s neck once, before guiding his face to tilt so their lips slot together and he’s kissing him, really, truly kissing him hard and deep and his lips are every sensation Keigo deprives himself of.


Dabi pulls back and looks down at him, panting.


His eyes are blown wide, rings of pale blue around black and his pale forehead glistens with sweat, tinted purple in the moonlight. Outside the window, Keigo hears the oceanside.


‘Say something,’ he demands, and Keigo surges forward to kiss him back.


He melts into it, hands sliding up to cradle Keigo’s jaw and he feels so, so taken care of as Dabi’s tongue licks into his mouth hotly.


It’s hard and passionate and furious and Keigo hears a small, weak noise that might’ve been him and feels him moan in response.


When they pull apart, they don’t go far. Their foreheads are pressed together again. 


Keigo’s hands unclench from fabric he hadn’t even realized he was still clinging to.


Dabi laughs softly, and Keigo steals another kiss to shut him up.


‘So?’ he says, eyes dazed and blown and hazy when they pull apart next.


‘So what?’ 


Dabi’s smile is slow, taunting, lovely. ‘Will you run away with me?’


Keigo shuts his eyes.


‘I dunno,’ he says, voice light, ‘what can you offer me?’


Dabi buries his hand in his downy feathers and Keigo lets out an embarrassing noise as he goes boneless.


‘Massage,’ Dabi deadpans, and Keigo laughs helplessly and slaps at his back from where he’s practically hanging off of him now. He’s clinging right back.


‘That’s not a massage!’


‘But you still went all fuzzy and cute ,’ he croons.


‘Fuck you,’ Keigo grumbles, and adjusts his arms so they’re wrapped firmer around Dabi’s shoulders. He takes that as permission to keep stroking at Keigo’s feathers. Slow, tender pets, it’s an intimate gesture. 


He used to do this in the afterglow, Keigo remembers, face warm.


‘It’s pretty easy to make you relax,’ Dabi murmurs, fingers scratching lightly at the base of Keigo’s wings. He nearly moans. ‘Anybody with a brain could figure it out, birdie.’


‘You’re the only one I let near my wings, though,’ Keigo tells him, eyes half shut.


His hand stutters, just for a second. Then it curls, closer and firmer than before.


‘Guess you’ll have to keep me around then.’


Keigo laughs, almost delirious on how good it feels. ‘God, please.’


‘Yeah? You— wanna keep me around?’


‘You’re like if a stray cat could talk,’ Keigo laments, muffled into his jacket collar. ‘Was that big sexy dramatic kiss not enough—’


‘Fuck you, you’re the worst partner ever.’


‘Oooh, is that the label you wanna go with?’


‘I was just testing, I don’t fuckin’ know! Last time it was, what, enemies with benefits?’


Keigo kicks his shin and Dabi lets out a loud, rather fake squeal of pain. ‘Shut up,’ he says sulkily. ‘There were no benefits to being enemies with you.’


‘Kei, that is the sweetest thing you’ve ever said to me but how can you erase our passionate fiery lovemaking—’


‘Lovemaking,’ Keigo marvels. ‘God, you are so disgusting—’


‘What’s wrong with that!’


‘It’s such a creepy word to say, only absolute weirdos say words like lovemaking.’


‘I want to quote Riverdale but you definitely haven’t seen that show.’


‘Hey!’ Keigo protests. ‘I know what it is!’


‘Yeah,’ Dabi scoffs, ‘I bet you watched two episodes and then it started buffering and you stopped.’


Keigo bites his cheek and Dabi buries his giggles in Keigo’s jugular.


‘You’re a freak.’


‘You’re a loser.’ He punctuates it with a kiss, and Keigo sighs contentedly.


The door opens and light floods in on them. 


Miruko calls out, ‘Hey, if you lovebirds are done kissing, we’re playin’ cards, like a group of us— I made sure it’s no one boring— you guys wanna come join?’


Keigo stares at her over Dabi’s shoulder, mortified at being caught in this position.


Dabi has no such problems, and lifts his head to holler, ‘Yeah, give us a mo’,’ before going back to mouthing at Keigo’s neck.


Keigo’s flush deepens and Miruko’s head tips back as she laughs and shuts the door.


‘That was horrible,’ he mutters, and Dabi is busy pressing open mouthed kisses to his skin but still replies, ‘You’re horrible.’


‘Your face,’ Keigo starts, and then feels bad.


Dabi laughs, and Keigo tugs his face out of his neck with a fist in his hair, ‘ Dabi ,’ he complains.


‘Yes, baby,’ Dabi says indulgently. He’s such a faker, doing that sweet, velvet voice when he’s never done anything for Keigo, never so much as gotten up to get a cup of water. Keigo loves him so much.


Keigo kisses him in apology, even though he knows Dabi doesn’t care anymore.


When they pull apart, Dabi kisses the corner of his mouth. ‘C’mon, sweetheart,’ and his voice is gentle and Keigo thinks he wants to listen to it forever, and he might even get a chance now, how fucking crazy is that.


‘Touya,’ he says.




And he’s gonna try that ‘being selfish’ thing, now.


Keigo stares up at him, lips pursed. ‘Do you really wanna go play cards?’ he asks him seriously.


Dabi stares back down at him and says, ‘Fuck no.’


‘Oh thank god,’ Keigo says, relieved, and leans in.




Keigo tilts his head up and laughs as rain pours down his face and form, soaking his wings and his stupid expensive suit in seconds.


It’s cold, so cold, and Keigo hasn’t felt winter rain in years. 


His jacket was over his shoulder when they’d snuck out of the building, but now he tosses it at Dabi’s chest, stepping forward into the downpour.


The whole sidewalk is wet, his shoes making wet noises, slushing against the concrete. The riviera is gorgeous, even at night, sparse lights making the water gleam. Keigo still dislikes the size of the mansion, and while he still prefers the open skies to the sea, he admits can understand the location. It’s gorgeous, all rain soaked and pretty.


When he turns his head to see how Dabi’s faring, he groans.


Dabi smirks, wide and smug.


Stray drops hitting his shoulders turn to steam from how high his body heat is. 


‘Fucking elementals,’ Keigo says, mouth twisting in fake disdain, and Dabi says reasonably, ‘Well with a body like mine it’s not like I can safely enjoy luxuries like rain, Kei.’


Keigo frowns. ‘There’s runes advanced enough to protect your grafts, these days,’ he tells him. ‘There’s surgeries, there’s healers and spells and—’


‘They’re all above my range of price,’ Dabi cuts in, his eyes steady, looking into Keigo’s. ‘And nobody wants to help me, Keigo. They all know what I did. I was on the wrong side of the war.’


‘That’s—’ Keigo stops, biting his lip. He gets it. ‘That’s not how it should be.’


‘It’s how it is,’ he replies, like he’s made his bitter peace with it all, like he doesn’t care. ‘Besides. I can’t complain, it’s better that I suffer as long as other kids don’t have to go through what I did. And they don’t much, it’s way better now, they keep an eye out these days.’


‘You’re crazy,’ Keigo decides. ‘Off your rocker. I’m gonna find someone who’ll help you.’


Dabi stares down at him, speechless.


‘If I don’t get to suffer in silence, neither do you,’ he says defiantly. ‘Fuck you, Touya, I’m gonna get you the best goddamn doctor in the world, I’ll get a whole team of healers, I’ll pay for it myself, if I can’t I’ll— I’ll rob a fucking bank, just watch m—!’ 


Dabi’s mouth is on his.


‘I love you,’ he says against his lips.


Keigo smiles.


‘You’re ruining the kiss,’ he murmurs, and Keigo leans back to kiss his cheek. 


‘I love you too,’ he says sweetly.


‘Stupid blondie,’ Dabi says tenderly. ‘Fucking idiot bird, can’t go one kiss without shitting out a love confession, absolute loser—’


Keigo’s body dips forward and he yanks Dabi in by the collar. 


When they pull apart, Dabi’s eyes are dazed.


‘You talk so much,’ Keigo says, and Dabi dips his head down, half acquiescence and half to kiss Keigo’s jaw. 


‘Your skin is all wet,’ Dabi says quietly, and kisses the dip under his jaw. His hand runs through Keigo’s soaked hair, tucking bangs behind his ear tenderly.


Keigo shivers, feeling the cold hit him now that he’s mentioned it. He feels himself move closer.


Dabi scrapes his teeth against Keigo’s jaw, and he shivers again, but not from the cold.


‘Touya,’ he whispers, and Dabi leans back and runs his hands up and down Keigo’s arms.


He’s dry in seconds.


Keigo plucks at his shirt collar, delighted. ‘That never gets old.’


Dabi bats his hand away and loosens his tie, undoes his top button. ‘You never get old,’ he shoots back, and Keigo feels his ears pinken.


‘I actually haven’t seen you use anything other than fire magic— ever,’ he says, deflecting. ‘Are you even an elemental?’


Dabi shrugs, and twists a finger, making flames dance around his hand. ‘Some moron once told me it’s all the same, that it’s just molecules, but— I’ve tried, actually, and I just can’t do anything other than fire. Never could.’


Keigo pinches his side and says, ‘I told you that when we were sixteen,’ and Dabi laughs. 


‘I was checking to see if you remembered!’ he claims, his grin wide and Keigo rolls his eyes and says, ‘Where the hell did they put your ride.’


‘Oh?’ Dabi says loudly. ‘Why are you asking about my ride, Hawks? What’s that? ‘Please drive me home’? And you wanna do what on the way? Wow! That’s so nasty and—’


‘Shut the hell up, asshole,’ Keigo says, kicking his shin as he leads them to where he thinks the carpark is. The Iida mansion is ridiculously huge.


He finds the carpark, and also discovers why Dabi had deflected with that stupid, terrible impression of him.


Keigo stares.


‘What is this,’ he says, lost.


Dabi opens the door for him and jerks his chin at the inside. ‘Get in, loser, we’re going to get ice cream.’


The reworked Mean Girls reference shakes Keigo out of his disbelief and he says, a tad plaintive, ‘Where’s the bike?’


‘You mean Johnny?’ Dabi asks.


He’d forgotten Dabi named his bike Johnny.


‘I still don’t know why you named it that,’ he says.


Dabi smiles. ‘Aw, you miss it?’


Keigo frowns. ‘It was cool.’


‘It was pretty cool.’


‘It was more than cool.’


‘It was my baby.’


‘It was fast and sexy and all black and blue and dope and nice and— it was so cool,’ Keigo stresses. ‘Where the hell is it!’


‘Crashed,’ Dabi says, looking a bit heartbroken. 


Keigo feels much the same.


They both stare at the car.


Then he shakes his head and says, ‘Doesn’t matter. I have a car now, I’m a real man.’


‘But it was sexy,’ Keigo complains.


‘Just get inside, brat.’


Keigo gets inside. 


‘Windows stay open—’ Dabi starts, and Keigo waves a hand at him as he pulls his knees up to his chest, ‘Yeah, yeah, I know, you and your motion sickness.’


Dabi looks at him, head tilted. ‘Why do you know that, what are you, obsessed?’


‘Something like that,’ Keigo says languidly. ‘Start driving.’


Dabi starts driving.


‘Touya,’ he says, after a moment.




‘Do you even know where I live?’


‘That’d be a no,’ he says. Raindrops flit through the window, hitting Keigo's face.


‘Hm,’ Keigo says. ‘Then where the hell are you taking me.’


Dabi laughs, flashing a grin. ‘I was serious about the ice cream.’


‘Oh yeah? I want chocolate then,’ Keigo says. He holds up a peace sign, smiling at him cutely. ‘Two scoops one cup.’


‘A cup,’ Dabi scoffs, and Keigo watches him with low lidded eyes as he turns the steering wheel, practiced and careful. ‘Only assholes get cups.’


‘Shut up, it’s easier than cones! I don’t have to eat non-ice cream then.’


‘That's— a good point,’ Dabi admits grudgingly. ‘But still. How’re you gonna lick it properly then?’


‘I’ll figure it out,’ he says easily. ‘Is this place far?’


‘Pretty far. Can’t take you back to your place, I’m sure it’s in the city and several train rides away, but I have a.. let’s call it a hideout,’ he says. His fingers tap at the steering wheel, and the first car besides their own zooms past them, illuminating his face for a moment. Keigo commits it to memory. ‘It’s a small place, in the closest town. They’ve got a tiny ice cream hut.’


‘Home by the sea, huh,’ Keigo says warmly. ‘That’s nice, Touya.’


He can’t see that well in this lighting but his cheeks are pink, Keigo is sure of it. ‘Yeah, yeah. We eat at home.’


‘Noooo, Touya,’ he protests instantly. ‘C’mon, eating in the car!’


‘You’ll spill vanilla all over my leather,’ he says, eyes glinting. ‘Hell no, Kei.’


‘Touya, please,’ Keigo says, frowning. ‘It’ll be great, I’m never messy, you’re the one that drops crumbs everywhere—’


‘Fuck you, I have amazing table manners.’


‘You don’t have manners full-stop.’


‘Now I’m definitely not letting you eat in my car.’




He laughs, rich and sweet and Keigo can’t help smiling softly. 


‘I’m kidding, alright, fine, whatever. But you’re dead on your feet, birdie,’ he says, glancing over at him. His eyes are steady and bright. ‘You can nap, for a while.’


‘Can I trust you not to throw up on the dash?’ Keigo teases. 


‘I’ll turn towards you,’ he beams, and ducks when Keigo swipes a hand at him half-heartedly. 


‘Dickhead,’ he mumbles. The steady hum of the engine and the easy way Dabi drives over open road is lulling him to sleep already. Keigo takes off his shoes and curls up on the passenger seat, looking over at him across the gear shift once more. 


Dabi is already looking, just like he knew he would be.


‘Eyes on the road,’ Keigo orders, and yawns right after.


‘Go to sleep, little bird,’ Dabi says softly. ‘You’re alright.’


‘Okay,’ Keigo says, after a moment. ‘I trust you,’ and shuts his eyes.


Dabi’s fingers brush against his, and Keigo turns his palm up to intertwine them together. 


He falls asleep with his smile buried in his jacket collar.