Dabi has a ritual.
It goes as follows.
Step one: His mind fills with thoughts, feelings, until it’s racing.
Step two: He writes his thoughts on paper. It’s almost always an incoherent mess - not something he would ever want anyone to see. It’s not poetic, it’s not beautiful. It’s usually full of anger, occasionally sadness. Sure, he’s doing better, as of late, but sometimes, he thinks about his life, his past, the hand he’s been dealt, and it makes his blood boil.
Step three: He looks at the paper. Tries to read it. See through the overwhelming emotion that covers the page. He’s never had a day where a page is covered only in happy thoughts. That’s not what the ritual is for.
Step four: He burns the paper.
Dabi is on step three when he has to stop, do a double take.
For the most part, the page is covered in his usual incoherent thoughts. More sad than angry, today.
It’s hard not to be sad when you’re in love with someone, when that someone is amazing, kind, fun. Incredible. Especially when it is someone who doesn’t love you back.
He shakes his head. That’s not what he should be focusing on. That’s what the ritual is for, anyway. To rid his mind of those thoughts for a while.
Dabi forces his attention back to the line that had caught his eye.
‘I need to feel needed. I need it so badly.’
The line continues into a string of words, a run-on sentence that would make any literature teacher cringe.
He likes that line. Likes the idea behind it, the feeling it gives him. It’s not a happy feeling, per se, but it is something.
He pulls out a notebook, different from the one he ripped a page out of earlier. This one is more well kept, with neat pages lacking any doodles of any kind. He doesn’t let people touch this book, even though he has countless others just like it.
If someone did happen to touch his notebook, they would find page after page of song lyrics, ideas, half-finished feelings.
He flips to a fresh page and copies down the line. It’s not right, just yet. It won’t fit in a song the way it is.
But it’s good enough. He can work with this.
Dabi sticks his pencil in the notebook, using it to keep his page as he shuts the book and sets it aside.
Turning back to his ritual, Dabi continues step three, this time paying slightly more attention than he usually would. If he can find one lyric idea, there’s no saying he can’t find any more, even if it’s just the barebones of a feeling.
‘Hawks likes me, somehow, in spite of me.’
Once again, the line continues into rambling. The word platonic is repeated a lot. Dabi ignores it.
He can’t write Hawks’ name in the song. Even just in his lyric notebook would be too obvious. Too real. He doesn’t feel ready to admit that anywhere other than his ritual and his own mind.
He makes do.
‘You like me in spite of me.’
Dabi continues the ritual, still paying closer attention than normal during step three and picking out a couple more lines to scribble in his lyric notebook.
Once he’s sure he’s picked out all he can from his paper, Dabi uses his quirk to light the page on fire, watching as his letters and feelings burn away like nothing.
Weight lifts from his shoulders. His mind feels clear.
Dabi turns his attention once again to his lyric book. With a clear head, he can focus on writing the song that’s been trying so hard to come to life.
The ideas he picked out are unfinished lines, the most basic of ideas, feelings more than they are lyrics. He can’t pretend to be surprised.
He starts with the first line he picked out, perfecting and adding to it, including a couple other ideas he picked off the page until he’s crafted what he thinks has the potential to become a chorus.
“I’d love to be in love with you enough to write a love song / I need to feel needed and I need it more than I let on / I’ll be home just thinking about it, maybe call like I used to / But I’ll just stay alone, because alone is safer than with you.”
He stares at the lyrics, trying to picture a melody. He thinks it will be slower than most of what the League of Villains has released so far. He hopes the others will be alright with it. He doesn’t know what he’d do if they aren’t.
The more he thinks about the song, the more Dabi knows it’s one he has to release. It can’t sit in his notebook for years, the way some others have.
It has to see the light of day.
Dabi doesn’t leave his room until he’s finished the song.
Which, really, isn’t saying much. The song isn’t perfect, yet, but it only took a couple hours to refine the thoughts and words circling his brain into lyrics.
It’s raw. It’s real. It’s honest. It’s not what he’s used to, not what the League of Villains is used to, but it’s good.
It’s a look straight into his brain, and while that would usually scare him, Dabi finds he isn’t frightened, now. He likes to hide his feelings, usually, but this song is different. Maybe he’s tired of hiding.
The song makes it obvious. Dabi thinks that as soon as Hawks hears the lyrics, he’ll be able to read Dabi like a book.
He loves Hawks. He loves everything about Hawks. Hawks is selfless, he cares and he doesn’t have to pretend, doesn’t have to put in any effort in order to do it.
He knows how to make Dabi laugh, how to make him smile, how to make him feel like the best man in the world, even when Dabi knows that’s far from the truth.
He loves Hawks. Hawks deserves to know what Dabi thinks, how his mind works. He’s too nervous to use his words to explain it, though.
If talking through song is what Dabi needs to do, then he will do it. For Hawks, and for himself.
He presents the song to the band the next day.
“It’s going to be different from our usual sound, I think.” He says as the small group reads the page of lyrics he dropped on the table.
Nobody replies, and Dabi continues. “I’m thinking something more on the acoustic-but-not-really alt-pop-rock kind of synth-y side of things. Just feels right.”
“You should tell him, Dabi.” Is what Spinner says instead.
Dabi shakes his head, taking a seat on their ratty couch and resting his head in his hands. “I don’t want to talk about that. The music, guys.”
“You said like six genres!” Twice replies, staring at him. “I agree with Spinner! You should tell him! But only if you want to.”
“Fuck off,” Dabi replies with a glare.
Toga stands up from the table, walking over and patting his head in a way only she could get away with. “It’s okay, Dabi. I think I know what you mean about the sound.”
“Oh, thank God-” He begins, only to be interrupted by Toga speaking once again.
“You should tell him though! I think it will go differently than you’re imagining. Or maybe not! You said it yourself, in the lyrics, that he likes you!”
Dabi shakes his head. He knows when he’s lost his control of a conversation, and this is one of those times. He’s going to have to talk about Hawks whether he wants to or not. “Yeah, like a friend. Besides, they’re just song lyrics. Not everything about them is the literal and exact truth.”
He ignores the fact that, in this case, the lyrics are all the truth. They’re just not all the truth he wants.
The band looks at Shigaraki, waiting for him to voice his opinion.
Instead of speaking, however, Shigaraki turns to the side, pulling his beat up acoustic into his lap and staring at Dabi.
“What kind of melody are you thinking?”
We have something pretty different coming soon for you guys...watch out for High Definition, tomorrow, 15:00.
I loooooove love songs 💕💕😉
(not) Shigaraki ✓@LOVdecay
Our new song will be your favourite acoustic-but-not-really alt-pop-rock kind of synth-y song ever.
@LOVdecay I hate you
Debuted 48 hours ago
Dabi, that song…
Are you going to leave me on read?
[Instagram video: Todoroki Shouto and Todoroki Fuyumi are squished together in front of the family’s desktop computer. League of Villain’s ‘High Definition’ can be heard playing on the computer’s speakers. Quiet footsteps are just barely heard as the person filming sneaks closer to the siblings. The green hues of the LOV’s most recent music video can be seen reflecting off the white hair of the Todoroki siblings.]
[Instagram video 2: Todoroki Natsuo speaks loudly, “What’s up, guys?” Todoroki Fuyumi jumps in her seat, and Todoroki Shouto flinches, just slightly.
Fuyumi turns to the camera, looking above it at her brother filming. “Natsuo! Stop it!”
Shouto pauses the song, and the video ends.]
In this house, we stan the League of Villains! I swear, we’ve been supporting them forever. Check them out if you haven’t yet! High Definition is awesome!
Why are you ignoring Hawks?
Why do you care?
Because he’s my best friend?
You didn’t answer my question.
Looks like someone isn’t afraid
to double text.
How do you even know about that?
He won’t stop talking about it.
He thinks he did something to upset you.
Which, as we both know,
Is not the truth.
Okay, now you’re just doing it
to get on my nerves.
Reply to Hawks!!
Like, yesterday, Dabi!!!
Hawks has been texting him almost nonstop, but Dabi is too afraid to answer. He knew this was going to happen, but coming face-to-face with reality is different than imagining outcomes.
He thought he was ready for this, ready to be honest with Hawks.
He most certainly is not.
Dabi has been spending most of his time in his bedroom, only leaving to get food and shower.
He thanks any God who is listening for his choice to keep up with showering (it’s something he has to admit he typically doesn’t do in his more severe depressive episodes), when his daily mope-and-listen-to-sad-music session is interrupted by Hawks barging through his bedroom door.
Dabi stares at the (now former) Pro Hero standing in his doorway. Slowly, he removes his headphones from his ears.
It’s silent, an awkward tension hangs in the air. Hawks raises a hand.
Dabi nods. “Hi.”
Hawks takes a couple steps into Dabi’s bedroom, pulling out a rolling chair from his desk and sitting lightly on it. His fingers fiddle nervously. It’s a habit Dabi noticed ages ago, one he secretly finds adorable.
“You’ve been ignoring me,” Hawks says, searching Dabi’s face. “Why?”
Dabi avoids eye contact. “Ah,” He rubs his neck awkwardly as he replies. “I just… You know…”
Hawks huffs out a sigh at Dabi’s lack of an answer. Dabi knows the hero is used to this from him by now, but that doesn’t mean he likes it.
“Listen… I’m sorry if I’ve been too obvious about liking you… and I’ve made you uncomfortable. I- I’ll get over it, eventually. It won’t happen overnight but, if you don’t like me that way, I would at least like to remain friends with you. If that’s okay with you, I mean.”
Dabi stares. Hawks looks down to his own hands, making an obvious effort to stop them moving.
Hawks...Hawks thinks he has been making him uncomfortable? Hawks doesn’t know Dabi loves him? Hawks likes him, too?
“Hawks, that- That’s not it. At all.”
Hawks eyes fly back up to meet Dabi’s, and this time, Dabi doesn’t avoid eye contact.
“What is it, then? What have I done to make you avoid talking to me? Did I upset you?”
Dabi shakes his head. “No. You didn’t do anything. I- Fuck, I don’t usually do this. I’m sorry that I made you think so, or something. And I’m sorry that my apology sucks. You didn’t do anything wrong, Hawks. I was just… I was just being a pussy, I guess.” He lets out a small laugh at himself.
“What do you mean?” Hawks asks, brows furrowed.
A small smile crosses Dabi’s face. Hawks likes him, too. He doesn’t need to be afraid.
“I wrote that song about you.” Dabi replies, and then pauses. “Well, no, I wrote it about myself. I wrote it about my feelings about you.”
“Your feelings for me?”
“Yes,” Dabi confirms.
Hawks squints his eyes. “You like me?”
“I thought you knew, and you wanted a chance to talk to me so you could let me down gently.”
Hawks scoffs. “You’re a dumbass. I was so obviously pining over you! Everyone was teasing me for it.”
Dabi barks out a surprised laugh. “I’m a dumbass? I literally wrote a song about being afraid to be in love with you, and you came in here apologizing for making me uncomfortable!”
Hawks takes a moment to process what Dabi said, standing from the rolling chair and taking a seat at the corner of Dabi’s bed. Dabi doesn’t mind the closeness, not in the slightest, not when it’s Hawks.
“What are you afraid of?”
Dabi focuses his gaze on the wall beside Hawks, analyzing the posters as if he hadn’t hung them up himself, as if he doesn’t know them like the back of his hand.
“That,” He begins with a small chuckle. “Is a very long story. One that I’m not sure I’m ready to get into, just yet.”
Hawks looks at him with pitying eyes, and Dabi breathes a deep sigh.
He looks back to Hawks, searching his face before he speaks once again. “Let’s just say, Pretty Bird, that when you’ve had the life I have, a fear of commitment is basically a given.”
“Dabi,” Hawks’ voice is soft and he leans closer, placing a hand on top of Dabi’s own. “I like you. You like me. I understand that you’re afraid, but I never want to hurt you. If you’re okay with it, I think… I would like to try this. To be with you.”
Dabi’s heart beats wildly in his chest. He looks at Hawks’ eyes, soft yet hopeful. Waiting patiently for Dabi to reply.
Dabi looks down to where Hawks’ hand still rests atop his. He takes a deep breath. He can’t stand to make eye contact with Hawks as he replies.
“Okay. Yes. I would like that. Being with you, I mean.” He nods, searches deep within himself and finds the courage to look back up to Hawks’ face. “I promise, I’ll explain more about my past… eventually. Soon. I just- I need a little bit of time.”
Hawks nods, a happy smile on his face. Dabi loves the way it looks on him. “It’s okay, Dabi. Take your time. Please don’t feel pressured to tell me anything.”
Dabi can’t help the smile from spreading across his own face. He doesn’t know how he managed to get so lucky, how someone as good as Hawks could possibly fall for him. He tries not to question it.
[Instagram photo: Two hands, fingers interlocked. One hand is heavily scarred, half the skin is purple and leathery, held onto the healthy skin with staples. The other hand looks like any other person’s, save for the filed down talons that make it clear to anyone who knows them just whose hands these are.]
I got lucky.