Chapter 1: Caged
Things happened very quickly after Endeavor left. Two burly nurses and a security guard had ‘escorted’ him to a different room in the ED. This room had dingy beige walls that bled into the dingy beige floor tiles, all covered with black scuffs. There was only a single cot, no chairs or even a curtain like the previous room. The most notable difference though, was the security camera mounted in the ceiling.
A middle aged woman wearing a sweater that looked as worn as she did had come in a few minutes later and asked him a series of questions about his childhood, his current home life, and about his time as Dabi’s captive. She’d jotted notes down on her clipboard, then paused before speaking. “I’m going to recommend that you be admitted to a long term psychiatric facility.”
“Why? Because Endeavor told you to?”
She didn’t look up. “You need time to heal. You’ve been through a traumatic-”
“I don’t think you are capable of making that decision. I recommend-”
“I don’t care what you recommend!” Hawks stormed toward the door, used a hardened feather to slice through the lock and yanked it open. He made it down the short hallway and around the corner before running into two burly security guards and an equally burly nurse who was pushing a chair with a series of thick leather straps dangling from it.
Hawks flexed his wings, he didn’t have enough room to maneuver above them, but with enough force, he could probably barrel right through them. He propelled himself forward, slipping past them toward the entrance and crashing through the double doors that led to the waiting room.
Another, larger, group waited for him on the other side. That was fine, he had more space to move out here-
Someone grabbed him from behind, forcing him to the ground and holding him there with a hand on his neck and their knee in his back. Hawks flapped his wings, trying to dislodge them but they were too heavy. A needle jammed into his thigh and two nurses dragged him back to the chair. He struggled, muscles relaxing as they fastened the straps over his hips, chest and limbs. He shook his head, trying to clear the sudden fog.
He was wheeled down the hall, everything flying past too quickly, making him dizzy and he was suddenly overwhelmingly tired. His eyes fell shut.
Keigo jolted awake. He couldn’t move, held in place by the straps that still crossed his body and limbs. He jerked at the restraints, trying to flex his wings. Some kind of material covered them, secured with thick belts and heavy locks instead of buckles. He hardened a few feathers, trying to slice through it, but whatever it was made of was stronger.
His gaze shot up, meeting that of a petite nurse. She sat in a chair directly across from him, a clipboard balanced on her knees. He shook his head, trying to clear the remaining fog. “Where am I?”
“You’re safe. The villains can’t get to you-.”
“I’m not scared of villains, I’m trying to prove-”
You need to calm down or you’ll have to be sedated aga-”
“No! I have to get out of here-” He cut himself off as another nurse came in, syringe in hand. Keigo’s eyes widened. “No, no, no, you can’t sedate me, you have to listen-”
The nurse pushed up the sleeve of the hospital gown that had been put on him. He pulled away as much as the restraints would allow. “No, please, you have to listen to me! I’m not supposed to be here, please!”
He whined as the needle pierced his arm, the nurse hitting the plunger. He winced, whatever they’d injected him with felt like ice in his veins and made his mouth taste strange in a way he couldn’t describe. He slumped in the restraints as his body went numb, the fog and heaviness returning. His vision blurred the same time as his head dropped forward and he was out.
Keigo groaned. His neck ached, his limbs and wings stiff from being still for so long.
Four times. Four times he’d woken up and begged to be released, only to be drugged yet again. He stared down at his lap, blinking the bleariness from his eyes. He was getting nowhere. He looked up, taking stock of the room for the first time.
The walls were coated in faint yellow paint, and a mattress lay on the floor in a corner. His chair sat in the middle of the room, and directly across from him sat the same nurse. Behind her was a door with a screened window set in its upper half. There were no windows.
The nurse looked up from her clipboard. “Are you feeling calmer now?”
Right. Calm down, play along. That was the best thing to do. He nodded. “Y-yeah. I’m… sorry I… freaked out.”
“It’s okay, you’ve been through some tough things recently. Do you think you can stay calm so we can get you out of that chair?”
He nodded. “‘M okay.”
“Okay.” The nurse pressed a button she wore on a lanyard with her badge. A few minutes later an aid came in, one he hadn’t seen before. The nurse stood, setting her clipboard on her stool. “We’re going to get Keigo here up. Keigo, you need to sit still while we unhook you, okay?”
He nodded. The pair made quick work of the straps holding him in the chair and helped ease him onto his feet. They let him stand by himself for a moment, making sure he was steady on his feet before releasing the restraints on his wings. His wings fluttered, instinctively re-aligning themselves, and both the aid and the nurse quickly stepped back. Keigo backed away from them slowly, hands up in surrender. “It was a reflex, I’m sorry.”
The nurse nodded. “That’s okay, but use of quirks is banned on this ward, alright?”
“Okay. We’re going to let you have some time to yourself for a little bit, but I’ll be back to check on you in a little while.”
Hawks sighed as they left, taking the chair with them. Good riddance to that nightmare thing. He stretched and flexed his wings, partially to work the stiffness from the joints, but also to test them and make sure they could handle flight.
They weren’t in great shape after the two weeks he’d spent locked in a hotel room with-
Locked in a hotel room.
His wings weren’t in the best shape, but they’d carry him, and that’s all he needed.
Some time later, he didn’t know how long, the aid came back, offering to show him around if he felt ready to come out. He’d agreed, following him down the hall. He pretended to pay attention as the aid pointed out the dining room and the nurses station. The aid showed him a cabinet where a few books, puzzles and art supplies were kept, coloring books and crayons mostly. The aid smiled at him. “Do you have any questions?”
A thousand. None he actually dared to ask. “Uh… no.”
“Okay, well if you think of any, just ask any of us aids or nurses okay?”
The aid sat him down at a table in the lounge and introduced him to the other patients sitting there. One of them passed him a few coloring pages and crayons. He accepted them, and the aid walked away, dropping into a chair across from another patient and helping them with a puzzle.
The lounge was situated directly across from the nurses station and had foamy, plastic looking chairs and couches arranged in a semicircle. A long row of windows overlooked the familiar cityscape. At least he was still somewhere he knew .
Hawks waited, absently coloring and chatting with the other patients. An older woman with sad eyes and a gentle smile gestured to the supply cabinet. “There are different pages in there if you want hon.”
He smiled at her. “Thanks.”
He stood, careful to hide his intent and taking note of the staff’s positions under the guise of looking through the cabinet. The nearest was the aid helping with the puzzle, behind him now. Another left the nurses station to walk down a hallway he hadn’t been down, a few others milled about here and there.
His heart pounded as he slipped a sharpened feather into each hand. He had to be fast, and careful not to hurt anyone. They were innocent after all, just patients and people doing their jobs.
He took a steadying breath and launched toward the window, feathers drawn to slice through the glass.
There was shouting, and someone barreled into him from behind. He dropped the feathers, opting for hand to hand so he wouldn’t seriously injure them. A needle jammed into his arm and that all too familiar cold flooded his veins.
He wrestled with the aid who’d shown him around. If he could just get him off, he could get away, find a place to hide before the drugs…
The third time he tried to escape, they’d told him they were leaving the wing restraints on ‘for his safety.’ That hadn’t stopped him from trying to escape though. Any window or door was a potential escape route, and he tried them all.
He tried and tried. For two weeks. Then he lost track of time. He still tried. Every day was the same; wake up in the chair, convince them he was calm, be released, try to escape, be sedated, and repeat.
He’d just been let out of the chair and was sitting on the mattress, leaning into the corner when an aid appeared at his door. He didn’t look up when they spoke.
“If you’re ready, you can come to the lounge.”
He shook his head, pulling himself tighter against the corner. The aid left.
A new, fresh faced nurse came into his room a few days later. She smiled, and her voice was gentle. “Keigo? We’re gonna move you to a different room, okay?”
He didn’t respond, just stood and followed her down the hall, through the lounge and down the opposite hall. She stopped at a door with his name written on a chalkboard and smiled at him. “Here we are!”
She was too cheerful. Thankfully, she left him alone.
It was mostly the same, the differences being an actual bed instead of a mattress and a window with a paper shade rolled up.
He pulled the shade down.
Chapter 2: Bonus Scene
Happened to come up with this after I'd posted the last chapter and didn't want to just tack it on at the end because I really do like how I ended the first chapter.
Time meant nothing to him. There was no clock in his room, no calendar of any kind. It didn’t matter.
He kept himself tucked in a corner and refused to leave it. An aid delivered meals to his room three times a day, but he was never hungry. The hospital’s nutritionist complained after a few days of trays being returned untouched. He still didn’t eat. He lost weight. Even the smallest size of pants the hospital provided were loose on his hips. A second complaint came, and a nurse threatened the chair if he didn’t start eating. He ate a few bites each meal, just enough for the aid that now watched him to be satisfied.
A nurse brought him pills twice a day, he took them without question. He didn’t know what they were, he didn’t care. Someone came by a few times a day to ask if he’d like to join the other patients in the lounge or attend the group therapy sessions. He ignored them. A custodian changed his bedding regularly, but he never slept in the bed. Sometimes, someone would roll up the shade on his window.
He closed it.
Chapter 3: Free
Short-ish chapter here, but it's more of a prologue for what's next.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
He shivered, his breath misting on the air when he lifted his head to look around. Frost coated the outside wall and the floor under the window. He stood, carefully padding across the floor, a little unsteady on his feet, and rolled up the shade. Ice crystals spread crept over the window, creating small veins in the glass that spiderwebbed into larger ones. It shattered with a loud crack, ice and glass exploding inward. A larger chunk flew by his head, scratching his cheek.
He didn’t move. He hardly dared to breathe. He stared up at the full moon, shivering as he stepped closer, careless of the shards of glass and ice that glittered in the silver light. He winced as a few splinters pierced the soles of his feet. He clutched the window frame, ignoring the chunks of glass that still clung to it and dug into his palms. A few lights shone amongst the highrises, beckoning him closer.
It was like a dream, one he desperately hoped he’d never wake up from. His wings almost moved in their restraints, the feathers shifting as if to prepare for flight.
His door flew open, breaking his trance. A panicked aid rushed toward him, “Wai-”
He hit the ground hard, remembering to roll a second too late. The breath wooshed from his lungs, sparks of pain crackling through his body where he’d made contact with the pavement. He groaned, forcing himself to his feet. Lights flooded the parking lot. He had to go.
A glimmer of white from below the window he’d escaped from caught his eye, but was gone before he could determine what - or who - it was.
A group of security guards stormed the parking lot.
He ran. As much as he didn’t want to, he had to find To- Dabi.
Keigo rummaged through a donation box behind a thrift store, scavenging a couple mismatched shoes and a threadbare coat to cover his hospital clothes and wings. Things that probably should have been thrown away by the person who donated them and wouldn’t have any value for the shop owners.
A police siren blared a few streets over and Keigo slipped back into the shadows, keeping to the back alleys as much as possible. No doubt local police had been informed of his escape and were looking for him. He’d managed to avoid them so far, and he wasn’t about to get caught now.
He still didn’t know exactly how long he’d been a prisoner in the hospital, but judging from the bone-numbing cold and dirty snow drifts, it was mid-winter. His last fight with the league had been near the beginning of summer.
It took hours for him to find his way back to the old hotel from the street, but he did it. He was exhausted, by the time he found it, the sun had started coming up. His feet hurt, hell, his whole body hurt. But, that’s what you get when you hit the ground from four stories up.
The charred, burned out building had long since been claimed by transients and shady dealers, but it was still his best lead. He questioned anyone who would talk to him, but most quickly scurried away.
Keigo slumped against a wall, defeated and fighting exhaustion. No one wanted to talk to him. He shouldn’t really be surprised, he was asking for information on a known villain.
Finally, an old man, seemingly wearing all his worldly possessions, approached him. He spoke gruffly, with a voice aged by a hard life and too much drinking. “You gonna get yourself killed goin’ ‘round askin’ for Dabi, kid.”
“You ain’t the only one lookin’.”
“I need his help-”
The old man shook his head, flapping his hand dismissively as he walked away. “‘F he wants to be found, he’ll find you .”
I read the first chapter to my mom(a former psych nurse, if you missed that) and she said “you’ve really got your finger on the pulse of mental health care.” That is... heartbreaking.
Chapter 4: Help
Small aside here, if you are struggling with mental health, or you just want someone to talk to I am here for you. My instagram is @alli_of_the_sun
I'm not gonna judge you for anything, chances are I've been through things too, and I'm here to listen if you need someone to talk to.
Dabi strolled down the sidewalk, hood of his sweatshirt drawn up and a mask over his face. He had no business being in this part of town but… certain rumors about a blonde man in a trench coat had to be investigated. He was skeptical, Hawks wasn’t that stupid.
A street light flickered to life above him, then died, leaving behind an irritating buzz.
Apparently , he was that stupid. The bird was currently asleep at the dead end of an alley, his head propped against the slimy brick of an abandoned shop. A series of cartoonish traps lined the alley, rigged to make noise. Dabi rolled his eyes, picking his way through the maze of junk. Damn idiot could fly , what the hell was he doing taking a nap on the ground?
He kicked a can, sending it flying toward the wall beside Hawks’s head. Hawks jolted awake, scrambling to his feet and lunging toward Dabi, sharpened feather in hand.
Dabi easily sidestepped the attack, grabbing Hawks by the wrist and twisting sharply as he pulled the bird tight against his chest. He glanced down to see where the feather had fallen, surprised to see it was actually a battered knife. Whatever.
Hawks struggled in his grip. “Lemme go!”
Dabi pulled him tighter, unsure whether Hawks would keep attacking. “Easy, Pretty Bird, it’s me-”
“I know ! Let go!”
Dabi noticed the tremor in Hawks’ voice and released him. “You’re the one going around asking for my help . What, you couldn’t get Endeavor to-”
“ He’s the reason I need help in the first place!” Hawks stumbled forward, snatching up the knife and wielding it more like a shield than a weapon. Dabi raised an eyebrow. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Hawks’s eyes were hard, but afraid and he snapped. “Are you Todoroki Toya?”
A chill went up his spine, but he scoffed. “Who?”
“ Are you? ” Hawks’ eyes were desperate. Dabi narrowed his own, watching Hawks suspiciously. There was something off about the bird, though he couldn’t say what. “Who’s asking? You or the commission?”
“Answer me!” Hawks’ voice wavered, as if he might break if he didn’t get an answer. Dabi sighed. “Why is it so important to you?”
Hawks hesitated, voice almost inaudible when he finally spoke. “I… I have to know if it was worth it…”
Dabi rolled his eyes. “If what was worth it? You want information, you gotta be willing to give it.”
“Dammit, Dabi, I know the answer, I just need to know if I can trust you! Are you Todo-”
“Quit yelling! For fuck’s sake…” Dabi trailed off, turning his back on Hawks and running his fingers through his hair. He huffed loudly. “Fucking. I used to be.”
A shuddering sigh echoed behind him, knife clattering to the ground. “I was right…”
Dabi whirled back around, stomping toward Hawks. The bird backed up, retreating into a corner, his eyes wide with fear. Dabi didn’t care. He grabbed Hawks by the shoulders, ignoring his flinch. “Oh were you? And what of it?”
Hawks’ took a shaking gulp of air. “L-let go. P-please…”
Dabi glared at him. He let go, sighing. “Why’d you come back, Keigo?”
“...I need help.”
Toya led the way to his current hideout, Keigo trailing behind him silently. He’d taken care of some ‘loose ends’ for a well to do type a while back, so the guy’d arranged this glitzy apartment for him as payment. It’d look more than suspicious to the doorman if he brought some ragamuffin in through the front door, so fire escape it was. He huffed. “Be a hell of a lot easier if you’d fly us up.”
Silence. Toya sighed, climbing through the window that led to his apartment. “Home sweet home.”
Keigo climbed in after him and Toya flicked on the lights. He turned to look at Keigo and froze, fully taking in his appearance now that they were in better light. He wore what could barely be considered shoes and the tattered coat barely concealed the hospital gown and scrub pants beneath it. His face was thin and pale, eyes a dull brown instead of shining gold. “What…”
Keigo’s face reddened and he cast his eyes at the floor as he shrugged off the coat. “Endeavor had me locked up…”
“In a hospital?”
Keigo hugged his arms to his chest, like he was ashamed of what he was about to say. “K-kinda…”
He turned. Toya stared at the bindings in disbelief, rage boiling inside him. His hands shook with it. They’d made a damn straight jacket for his wings.
Dabi reached for the buckles, anger rising as he realized they were locks . They evaporated under his touch. He took a deep breath, trying to calm the fire. He eased the remains of the straps through their loops and the fabric fell away. He incinerated all of it.
Keigo’s wings hung limply against his back, the feathers dull and crumpled. Toya reached out, hesitantly brushing his fingertips against them and yanking his hand back when Keigo whined. “Did that hurt you?”
“N-not exactly… ‘s too much right now... “
Keigo turned to face him again, but refused to meet his eyes. “It’s like… being in a dark room and suddenly turning on the lights.”
Toya narrowed his eyes. “Why did Endeavor do this to you?”
“I don’t… remember, exactly-”
“You don’t remember?”
Keigo glared at him, eyes shining and wet. “Look, I don’t even know what month it is, okay? It’s been a long damn time and I’m tired and I hurt and-”
“You’re hurt? Show me.”
Keigo blushed, “I can take care of it-”
Keigo sighed, holding out his palms to reveal a few deep cuts and scratches hidden under dried blood. “The window broke and I cut my hands and feet on the glass climbing through. And I hit the ground pretty hard when I jumped, but I don’t know-”
“You jumped out a window and you can’t fly ? Are you stupid ?” He pointed to the couch. “Sit. Now .”
Keigo obeyed meekly. Toya shook his head. “You really do need help.”
Chapter 5: Silence
I'm gonna be honest, this chapter has been a b* to write. For a number of reasons. But it is finally done, and I have a decent idea of where the next one is going to go, so still a win I guess?
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Toya rummaged around in the bathroom cabinet, searching for the first aid kit he’d noticed when he first started living in the apartment. He finally found the damn thing and tucked it under his arm, grabbing a handful of clean washcloths before returning to the living room. He dropped them on the couch beside Keigo and went to the kitchen to fill a bowl with hot water.
He set the bowl on the coffee table and dipped a washcloth into it. “Lemme see your hands.”
Keigo held them out and Toya took one, turning it palm up and cradling it in his fingers, noting how cold the skin was. He gently cleaned the wounds, careful to check the deeper ones for bits of glass and used the tweezers from the first aid kit to remove them and drop on a square of gauze on his thigh. New blood oozed from the reopened wounds, but Toya left them unbandaged for the time being and lowered himself to the floor to work on Keigo’s feet.
His feet were much worse, the inside of the ‘shoes’ saturated with blood. The cuts were deeper, and so were the shards of glass Keigo had been walking on. Toya cleaned away the blood and was working on a particularly deep splinter when Keigo yelped, instinctively yanking his foot back. Toya grabbed for it, locking his long fingers around Keigo’s heel. “Don’t do that, I almost had the damn thing.”
“Well it hurts.”
Toya scoffed. “You’re the one who broke a window and decided to prance around on broken glass.”
“I didn’t break it, it broke.”
“All by itself? How?”
Keigo looked away, laughing softly. He spoke hesitantly, like he wasn’t sure he could tell Toya about it. “Maybe I did break it... It was… cold. And the window was covered with ice and it just… shattered.”
Toya raised an eyebrow. “Ice?”
Keigo shrugged and said nothing. Toya sighed. “Let’s get you cleaned up, Pretty Bird.”
He carried Keigo down the hall, not wanting to clean up a trail of bloody footprints. He tried to ignore how light Keigo was, how stiffly he held himself. Toya set him down in the bathroom. He automatically reached for the ties of Keigo’s hospital gown, pulling the knots out. The dingy fabric fell loose around bony shoulders. His jaw tightened, seeing exactly how thin Keigo had gotten. “Fuck, you’re skinny. What’d they do, lock you in a room and not feed you?”
Keigo stiffened, reflexively tugging the gown back into place as he stepped away from Toya. His eyes were uneasy and cast at the floor, his features tight. “Don’t… ask that. I don’t...“
Toya sighed. “Okay.”
Keigo looked up, surprised. “Okay?”
He shrugged. “Yeah.”
“You… don’t wanna know?”
He did. Oh, he did. But his questions could wait. This wasn’t the Keigo he knew. This was a scared, half broken shadow of his Keigo and he didn’t want to be the one that broke him completely.
There was one question, though, that he needed answered. It would keep. At least until after he got the bird cleaned up and a little more relaxed.
Toya made sure Keigo hadn’t suffered any other injuries from his fall and once he was satisfied that he hadn’t, he left him alone. He waited until he heard the shower turn on before making his way to the master bedroom. He dug around in the dresser for a minute before finding an oversize t-shirt and a pair of shorts that might fit Keigo. He cut a long slit up the back of the shirt to make space for his wings, then knocked on the door. “Keigo? I brought you some clothes.”
The shower cut off. “I’m done.”
Toya pushed the door open, finding Keigo with a towel wrapped around him, leaning against the edge of the sink. “You alright?”
The bird nodded. “Just… tired.”
Toya nodded, passing the clothes to him. “Get dressed. I’ll grab the first aid kit and let you sleep after we get your hands and feet wrapped up.”
He grabbed the kit off the couch and returned to the bathroom. “Hop up on the counter, I’ll do your feet first.”
Keigo complied and Toya got to work, smearing squares of gauze with antiseptic and tapping them over the worst of the cuts, saving the single roll of gauze for his hands. He dabbed more antiseptic on the wounds, covering them with smaller squares of gauze before wrapping half the roll around each hand. Toya taped the ends in place. “Want me to carry you?”
Keigo shook his head, easing himself off the counter and wincing when his feet hit the floor. He stumbled, and Toya automatically reached out to support him. Keigo pushed him away, voice sharp with panic. “I’m fine!”
Toya backed off, holding his hands up. “Okay, sorry. No touching.”
“Whichever. Bedroom’s this way.” Toya led the way out of the bathroom, showing Keigo to the bedroom. He watched as the former hero climbed into bed, then closed the door.
The quiet rage that had been burning since he saw that damn contraption on Keigo’s wings bubbled up again. What the hell had Endeavor done to him?
Toya shook his head. He needed to get out for a while, walk it off before he did something stupid.
Toya flipped the lights on, the apartment eerily quiet. He lowered his bags to the floor, toeing off his shoes to creep down the hallway. He eased the bedroom door open, eyes darting to the bed where he’d left Keigo.
His guard went up immediately. Of course this was a set up. Get injured on purpose, then pretend to be all helpless and-
Dabi ducked out of the way as Keigo came flying at him with a knife from the kitchen. He spun, jerking Keigo against him in a firm hold and forcing him to drop the knife. He let the bird struggle for a minute, dragging him along as he checked the apartment.
It was empty.
Keigo broke out of his hold, scrabbling back toward the bedroom, and potentially, the knife. Dabi grabbed him again. “Stop, it’s me!”
“I fucking know, let go of me!”
“If you knew it was me, why’d you attack me?”
“Cuz I thought you were somebody else at first! Fucking let go!”
“Are you gonna attack me again if I do?”
“No! Let go already!”
Toya released him and Keigo staggered away, dropping to the floor and huddling against the wall with his knees drawn up and his head down. Toya sighed, every instinct telling him to get angry or scoff and walk away, let Keigo deal with his problems on his own, exactly the way he was raised.
He did the opposite, dropping onto the floor in front of him. Toya brushed his fingers against Keigo’s arm. Keigo jerked away, a small whine forcing its way out.
Toya edged closer, not touching Keigo, but nearly. He kept his voice low, calm. That was how to do this. Like his mother had. “You came to me for help, let me help.”
Toya sighed again. “Talk to me, Kei. At least tell me what you want me to do?”
He was begging at this point. “Come on .Yell at me, this is my fault anyway, right?”
So this chapter was kinda triggering for me to write, which may have contributed to why it took me so long… I’ve tagged it as best as I can, but I am open to suggestions cuz I really don’t know what I’m doing when it comes to tags.
Chapter 6: Paranoia
I’ve been trying to think of some witty comment to explain away the beginning of this chapter, but… I got nothing.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
~Four Hours Earlier~
Keigo jolted awake, the shadow hovering over him slipping quickly away. He sat up, frantically casting his eyes around the room. His voice froze, forming a knot in his throat he couldn’t speak around. Someone was here . He could hear them walking around, their footsteps creaking, fabric rustling.
His hands trembled as he pushed the blankets back, his movements slow and stiff. He lowered one foot to the floor, slowly easing his weight off the bed and wincing when it creaked. He crept his way to the door, keeping his back to the wall as he worked his way down the hall. He stopped at each door, slowly opening them to scan for whoever had been looming over him. A second bedroom, the bathroom and a utility closet. All empty.
He reached the end of the hall, freezing a few feet from the open space that made up the rest of the apartment. His heart hammered against his ribs, but he took the last few steps forward, scanning the apartment.
Not even a sign of Toya.
Keigo darted to the kitchen, snatching a knife from the block on the counter. He scrambled toward the window that led to the fire escape, locked. No one on the stairs either. He checked the front door next. Also locked.
That… didn’t make any sense.
A whisper of sound came from the stillness behind him, a shadow flickering at the edge of his vision. Keigo whirled around, putting his back to the door. A chill crawled up his spine.
There was no one.
He had to get back to the bedroom. He was vulnerable, exposed. He eyed the expanse he’d have to cross to even get back to the hallway and whined, pressing himself harder against the door. He closed his eyes, taking a deep, shaking breath, and ran.
The shadows chased him down the hall, oozing over the walls and ceiling, whispering things he couldn’t understand. He slammed the bedroom door shut, tripping and scraping his knees on the carpet as he scrambled to the nearest corner.
The shadows followed, a whispering horde shuffling around him, closing in. He clutched the knife like a lifeline. His breath shuddered in his chest, the walls themselves breathed, the floor warped and dipped to let more shadows seep under the door. He choked on a sob, tears burning in his eyes. He shouldn’t have left the bedroom.
Toya sat on the floor with Keigo for a long time, just...waiting. He’d given up trying to get him to say anything, hoping he’d talk when he was ready.
He shuffled around to lean against the wall next to Keigo, still careful not to touch him. He closed his eyes and sighed. What the hell was he supposed to do?
Time ticked by agonizingly slow. He scrubbed a hand over his face, drowsy. A weight slumped against his left side.
Toya opened his eyes and glanced down, finding Keigo leaning against him. “Kei?”
“I… thought somebody was here… I thought they were gonna make me go back…” Keigo’s voice tightened on the last few words. Toya frowned. “Take you back where?”
Keigo shook his head, whining a little bit as he buried his face in Toya’s shoulder.
He sighed. “I wanna help, Keigo. But it makes it kinda hard when I don’t know what happened.”
“Tol’ ya already. Endeavor had me locked up.”
“Locked up where ?” He had his suspicions, but he desperately hoped he was wrong. Keigo let out a breath like he’d been holding it for a long time. “Hospital… a mental hospital…”
Fuck. He was right. His voice was thick when he spoke. “Tell me.”
Keigo did. Reluctantly at first, then a dam burst, words rushing to form sentences like a flood. Keigo told him about the drugs, the chair, the attempted escapes. About giving up.
Toya held his tongue, hatred for his father burning hotter with every word.
Toya sighed, returning to the front door to gather up the bags he’d left there. With the apartment had come a black credit card, and he’d used it to get more bandages and some clothes for Keigo that would actually accommodate his wings. He’d also picked up some frozen food and takeout that he hoped was still edible.
The cardboard of the frozen stuff was damp, but still felt pretty solid, so he chucked it in the freezer and popped the takeout containers in the microwave. He divided them onto plates and carried them down the hallway, where Keigo was still crouched on the floor. He passed one to him, then dropped back on the floor on the opposite side of the hall.
Keigo picked at his food, swallowing a few mouthfuls of stir fried vegetables before setting his plate aside. Toya narrowed his eyes at him. “You can’t possibly be done. You haven’t eaten since god knows when.”
Keigo shrugged, staring down at his lap. “I just… don’t have much of an appetite.”
“Eat some chicken at least. You need the protein.”
Keigo sighed, picking the plate back up and taking two more bites, although it was clearly an effort for him. He said nothing when Keigo put his plate aside again, setting his own down and leaning forward. “What do you want to do, Keigo?”
The bird looked up at him, startled. “Huh?”
“About everything Endeavor did. Or are you just looking for a place to hide?”
Keigo stared down at his lap, speaking with more certainty than he had since Toya found him. “I want to expose him for what he is. The abuse, the lies, the cover ups. And…”
He hesitated. “I want him to die with nothing .”
Toya raised an eyebrow. “You wanna kill him? Didn’t think that was your… style.”
Keigo looked away. “I want him to die. Not the same thing as wanting to kill him.”
“Right. So how do you plan to bring about this great downfall?”
He was met with a blank stare.
Toya sighed. “Great plan, Kei.”
So. Head injuries will fuck ya right up. For a long long time sometimes, and not always right away. People have been known to completely change personalities after a serious head injury. AND. Quitting psych meds cold turkey will ALSO do shitty things to your brain. Hawks has both those things happening at once.