Touya hasn’t seen Hawks in days.
They went on their dinner date that night, after Touya told Hawks who he is, and while it was a little awkward, Touya had just chalked it up to first date nerves and enjoyed himself despite it. He thinks Hawks is worth getting past a little awkwardness.
He has two nights off starting the same night as their date, and he spends them not doing much. Dabi is laying low, at the moment. He doesn’t want to be caught right after he’s told Hawks who he is.
When Touya returns for his shift after his days off, he’s more than ready to see Hawks again. He misses talking to Hawks, the banter the two of them exchange that really, if you ask him, is just thinly-veiled flirting.
Touya has gotten used to Hawks showing up at 1 a.m, on the dot.
So, when the clock strikes 2, and Hawks is nowhere to be seen, Touya feels something he doesn’t like twisting in his guts. Where is Hawks? He’s never missed one of Touya’s shifts, never been late.
Touya makes a coffee for himself, anything to keep his hands and mind busy, and downs the drink while it’s still hot enough to burn his taste buds right off.
One hour later, and Touya’s mind is racing thanks to the caffeine. He pulls out his phone, shoots off a text to Hawks. Shoves his phone back in his pocket, mops the floors. Wipes the countertops, and then the tables once the floor has dried. Restocks all the coffee beans at the bar. Counts his till’s float. Pulls his phone out of his pocket.
Hawks has read his text, but not replied. In fact, Hawks read his text only a minute after he sent it.
Touya isn’t going to get a reply back.
A customer walks in, and Touya hurries to shove his phone back in his pocket, smoothing his face from the nervous expression he knows he was wearing, to something more neutral and customer-friendly.
The customer is a man he recognizes. He’s not a regular, per se, only stopping in once or twice a week, but Touya still knows his name and order off the top of his head. Which, really, isn’t saying much, as the man drinks straight black coffee. Just like Touya himself.
Aizawa is a scraggly man, with eye bags darker than Touya’s dyed hair. He doesn’t talk much to Touya, but Hawks has always been friendly when customers enter the shop, and Aizawa has been known to stick around a couple minutes to entertain the man’s excited chattering. So, when he looks at the decidedly empty barstool typically occupied by Hawks, Aizawa raises an eyebrow at Touya.
“Where’s your Boy?”
Touya feels his cheeks flush crimson and is thankful he still has his back to the other man. “He’s not my Boy. And he’s at home, I guess.” He hands Aizawa a steaming cup of coffee, avoiding eye contact.
Aizawa lets out a small chuckle. “If you knew who I was talking about, I think that makes him your Boy. Why isn’t he here?”
Letting out a sigh, Touya slumps in his stool behind the counter. “I don’t know. I texted him and he didn’t reply. I think I scared him away, or something.”
Aizawa frowns at that, placing his cup on the counter in front of him. He reaches a hand out to rest on Touya’s shoulder, and Touya has to resist the urge to shrug it off. He doesn’t want pity.
“What makes you think you scared him off?”
Aizawa is trying hard to keep eye contact, but it’s too much for Touya. He stares at his own hands. “We went out for dinner the other night. I dunno, I- I thought he liked me, but maybe I was reading him wrong. Maybe I was too much. He was quiet at dinner, and then I didn’t hear from him on my days off, either. He usually texts me.” He shakes his head, letting out a small laugh at his own expense. “It’s stupid. I’m being stupid. I think I got attached too quickly, or something. I don’t know. It doesn’t matter anymore, because he’s not here and he’s not replying to my messages, so I should just get over it.”
Aizawa allows Touya to ramble, listening carefully without even a smidge of annoyance on his face. Aizawa waits until he knows Touya is finished talking, when Touya is breathing deeply and willing his hands to stop shaking, before he tries to reply himself.
“He’s probably just nervous, or shy, Touya.” Aizawa’s words are careful, planned. Touya can’t help but think Aizawa sounds like a father, the good kind of father, the kind he never had but always wanted. Aizawa continues, “Between you and I, I think he likes you, too. I can’t imagine you did something so terrible that his opinion of you changed over one dinner. Give him time.”
Touya vaguely recognizes the feeling of Aizawa squeezing his shoulder one last time before he reaches for his quickly cooling coffee and walks out of the shop, leaving Touya alone with his thoughts once again.
Thoughts that, frankly, are racing.
Hawks didn’t seem weird at dinner because of nerves.
Hawks seemed weird at dinner because of Touya. His secret. Because of Dabi.
Touya thought Hawks liked Dabi. He did like Dabi. He said so himself.
But, maybe, Hawks only liked the idea of Dabi. He liked what Dabi was doing, what he stood for, but he didn’t like Dabi himself. He didn’t want to know Dabi.
And Touya had fucked that all up.
It’s Touya’s fault that Hawks is avoiding him. His fault his fault his fault his fault hisfaulthisfaulthisfault.
No, no, Touya can’t blame himself. Dabi is part of him. If Hawks doesn’t like that part of him, that’s his problem. Touya refuses to change himself for one boy.
Knowing that doesn’t make him less sad, though.
Touya doesn’t want to feel the way he does, but he can’t help it. He likes Hawks, he misses Hawks, and as much as he loves being Dabi, he half wishes things were different.
He wishes Hawks could like him as Dabi, too.
The night finishes in a blur. His morning regulars clearly notice the absence of Hawks, but perhaps they can see something on his face, because nobody mentions it to him. Touya has gotten used to hearing Hawks chatting with people every morning, so a lack of that feels strange. The coffee shop feels more empty, the sounds of the coffee being made that much louder without conversation to cover it. Touya tries to make small talk, but it’s not something he’s very good at, not the way Hawks is. His customers don’t expect it from him, anyway, and it feels awkward and forced when he tries.
Jin comes in at 6:30, and Touya slumps with a large exhale.
Jin doesn’t comment as Touya pours himself a large cup of coffee, although he does raise an eyebrow when Touya adds condensed milk to his drink. Touya pretends not to see it.
Leaving his drink on the counter to cool, Touya walks to the back of the shop to change out of his uniform. He takes his time as he does it, not in any mood to rush.
He has nobody to rush for, anymore.
He doesn’t want to go back to his empty apartment to be alone with his thoughts and a text message left on read.
After getting changed, placing his work shoes haphazardly on the shoe rack and hanging his apron on the rack, on a rung labelled “Tenko” just to piss the other man off, Touya walks back into the seating area of the coffee shop. He takes a large sip of his drink, and finds that the sugary sweetness is appealing, this time.
Touya slumps in a barstool, as far from the cash register as he can get, and rests his head on the countertop. There’s still a rush of people coming in and out, 7 a.m workers coming for their morning caffeine fix. Touya watches them, ignoring the occasional suspicious glances he receives. He’s no longer seeing his regulars, but rather Jin’s regulars. They don’t see him as an employee, but instead as a tattooed twenty-something in a baggy hoodie and ripped up jeans. He gets it. He doesn’t care.
Half an hour passes, and Atsuhiro enters the coffee shop, his hair pushed up into a baker’s hat. He spares a confused glance to Touya, still hunched over on his stool. His coffee cup is empty by now, but he doesn’t want to refill it and risk getting caffeine jitters. He’s had enough, by now. Touya doesn’t bother to answer Atsuhiro’s unasked question, at least not while the cafe is still full of customers. He averts his glance, hoping his intentions are clear.
Slowly, the rush becomes a quiet trickle, until finally the cafe is empty aside from the two of them and Atsuhiro in the back.
Pouring himself his first cup of coffee for the day, Jin speaks to Touya. “What’cha still doing here, Touya? Where’s that Hawks guy?”
“I told him about Dabi and he never came back. My bad.”
Jin turns around, steaming cup of decaf in his hand and eyes widened in shock. “You told him?”
Atsuhiro emerges from the back, attempting to wipe flour off of his apron but only succeeding in creating a larger spot. “Touya told what? To who?”
“Hawks. The one who spends - spent all night here? He told me he liked Dabi, he thought Dabi was doing good things. So I told him. And I haven’t heard from him.” Touya drops his head in his hands.
“How long has it been since you saw him?” Atsuhiro asks, brewing a cup of tea. Touya watches him do it, watches the steam rising as the cup is filled with boiling water. Watches Atsuhiro dunk the tea bag in the water. Recalls the familiar sight of colour seeping from the bag, staining the water like paint.
Forcing himself to look away, Touya lets out a sigh. “A couple days ago. We went out for dinner after my shift. He was weird, and I thought it was just because it was the first time we saw each other outside of here, but then I realized it was probably because of what I told him.”
Jin throws one exasperated hand in the air, keeping the hand still holding his drink carefully still. “Only a couple days? He’s probably just busy!”
Atsuhiro nods, pointing to Jin in apparent agreement.
Touya shakes his head. “No. I texted him and he didn’t reply. He read it, though. He’s avoiding me.”
Jin claps a hand on Touya’s shoulder with a light laugh. “Don’t worry, Touya. He probably just fell asleep and forgot to reply. Not everyone can live off four hours of sleep every day the way you do! He’ll be back in no time, I’m sure of it.”
Touya knows Jin is wrong, deep in his gut he just knows, but it’s not an argument he’s going to win. Jin is certain he’s right, just like Touya is certain he’s wrong. It’s not worth fighting.
Standing up with a sigh, Touya stretches his arms above his head. He spares a glance to the clock mounted on the wall. It’s only 15 minutes until 9 a.m, 15 minutes until Tenko comes in for his shift. He doesn’t want to see Tenko. Doesn’t want to deal with the reaction he knows he is going to get from the moody man.
“I’m gonna take my leave. Do me a favour, Twice? Tell Tomura what I told you? I don’t feel like doing it myself.” He gives a lazy two finger salute and makes his way slowly towards the exit.
“No more name drops in the shop!” Jin calls after him.
Touya turns back to his coworker, a sarcastic smile on his face. “Who’s here to hear it? Loosen up, Twice.”
With that, Touya makes his exit.
When Touya returns that night for his shift, he knows the news has been passed around the shop, if the pitying look he receives from Shuichi tells him anything.
Shuichi opens his mouth to say something, and Touya already knows he’s going to offer an apology for something he didn’t do. He doesn’t want to hear that.
“Don’t worry about it,” Touya says, cutting Shuichi off before he can get a sound out. He feels bad for it, Shuichi is a great guy and Touya knows he really cares, he really feels bad, he really thinks Touya deserves an apology. Touya just doesn’t want it.
Shuichi clamps his mouth shut, offering a sympathetic smile instead. Touya smiles politely back, before heading into the back room to change into his uniform.
He smirks when he sees his apron has been moved back to the rung with his own name on it. Touya isn’t sure why, but knowing he has succeeded in annoying Tenko always helps brighten his mood.
Once he’s changed, Touya steps back through the swinging doors and meets Shuichi at the cash register.
“Does everyone know?” He asks, watching Shuichi collect his water bottle and pull his apron off.
Shuichi nods. “Everyone other than Kenji. Even Shirakumo popped in. Tenko told him.”
“Good,” Touya replies, nodding. “That was the plan. Kenji will be here tomorrow night, right?”
“Why do you ask when you know the answer?” Shuichi asks. Touya shrugs, even knowing Shuichi can’t see him.
The swinging doors squeak as Shuichi walks through them, exiting only a moment later with his backpack in hand. He’s the only staff member Touya knows of who doesn’t bother to change before or after his shift. He says it’s because he spends the rest of the day at home playing video games, anyway, so he has no reason to wear other clothes.
Touya gets it, really. He changes because he hates his uniform, but he knows if it were the slightest bit more comfortable, he probably wouldn’t even bother changing before bed. Maybe that was why Shirakumo chose such an uncomfortable fabric in the first place. Touya wouldn’t put it past him.
“Have a good night, Touya!” Shuichi calls out as he exits the shop, bell jingling delicately behind him.
Left alone with his racing thoughts, Touya doesn’t know what to do. He doesn’t want to think about Hawks, knows deep in his heart that he’s not going to see the student tonight, either. He can’t stop himself from hoping, though.
It’s painful, almost, how badly he just wants to see the other man. They don’t even have to speak, Hawks can show up and get a coffee to go and leave again and it would be enough for Touya’s aching heart.
It’s pathetic, how quickly Touya found himself attached to Hawks. He knows, oh, God does he know, but he can’t help it. Half of his mind is begging to see Hawks, and the other half is screaming at itself for caring so much.
Touya wonders if this is what it feels like to experience unrequited love. Does he love Hawks? He doesn’t know. He’s never loved someone, at least not romantically. He loves his friends, he thinks. It’s different, though. The way he feels for Hawks is different than the way he feels for his friends.
He knows he likes Hawks. But when does like become love? How is Touya supposed to figure out the difference?
Touya can’t ask his friends, because as much as he loves them, he also knows them, and he knows they will make fun of him for asking. Besides, how are they supposed to know whether or not he’s in love? Himiko would insist he’s in love before the words even leave his mouth, and Tenko would insist it’s just infatuation without hearing the whole story. Shuichi would probably be the best person to ask, but Shuichi would also have a face full of worry, words full of pity, apologies on repeat, and that isn’t what Touya wants to hear.
He shakes his head. He needs to stop thinking about it. Stop thinking about Hawks. Stop thinking, stop thinking, stop thinking.
The bell on the door jingles, and Touya looks up just a tad too quickly.
It’s not Hawks, though.
Touya tries to bite back his disappointment.
The customer, a woman with her hair piled high on her head in an intricate updo, walks up to the counter, remarking as she does how odd it is that a coffee shop is open at midnight. Touya bites back a sarcastic reply, one he would have gleefully said if the person speaking was Hawks, and takes the woman’s order with a practiced cool.
Growing up in the house he did, Touya quickly learned to hide his emotions behind a neutral mask. Pretending like nothing is wrong comes as second nature as him, almost as automatic as breathing.
Touya hands the woman her steaming hot mocha, and she thanks him with a wink.
Nights were never slow, before Hawks. Touya can think of his time at the coffee shop in three distinct parts: Before Hawks, With Hawks, and now, After Hawks.
Before Hawks, Touya had nothing to compare the passing of time with. Time moved like normal, every night was pretty much the same. He had a schedule he set for himself, specific times to do specific things, and that was it. He brought his phone charger to work, because he knew he would have to plug his phone in at two in the morning when the battery fell below twenty percent. He turned on music and swept and mopped the floor while it charged. He restocked the front at three.
With Hawks was brief. It ruined his self-assigned schedule, and often left him unable to play his music.
Despite all of that, With Hawks is Touya’s favourite time period. It’s easy to understand why, he thinks. He might be in love with Hawks, after all.
Hawks made the time pass so quickly, Touya lost track a couple times in the beginning. He found himself trying to restock and deal with his morning rush at the same time, returning home from a long shift only to realize he forgot to mop the floors.
Eventually, he found a rhythm, he got his work finished and conversed with Hawks at the same time. They listened to music together, Hawks occasionally asking Touya to turn on whatever K-Pop song he was obsessed with that day, but mostly being content to listen to whatever Touya played.
Having Hawks around made work fun, for the first time.
Touya doesn’t hate his job, not by a long shot, but he’s just a barista. A barista who works the quietest shift, a shift that most customers don’t quite realize actually exists. Hawks brought life to his job.
Which brings Touya to his least favourite period: After Hawks.
Time drags by as if it is made of molasses now. Touya can’t get back to his old schedule. He can’t re-adjust. Hawks brought life to the shop at night, and now it feels like a cemetery. Hawks isn’t dead, but his presence is gone, his light and life has left the cafe and it’s just Touya left to take care of the graveyard.
Touya understands, now, After Hawks, why it’s called the Graveyard Shift.
Touya sends Hawks another text message at 2 a.m, not quite sure why he’s doing it even while he types. He presses send before he can talk himself out of it.
Touya shoves his phone in his pocket, looks up, and startles back at the sight of Aizawa.
“How did you get in here without the bell jingling?”
Aizawa has the faintest hint of a grin. “That’s for me to know. Who were you texting?”
Touya sighs, hands on the back counter and shoulders slumped forward. “Who do you think?”
“Your Boy ever reply yesterday?” Aizawa drops a couple bucks on the counter, taking a seat on a barstool.
Touya shakes his head as he moves to pour Aizawa’s coffee. “No,” He replies, not bothering to hide the disappointment in his voice. “My coworkers agree with what you said, but I don’t know. I know him - at least I think I do. He would reply, if it were anything else.”
Counting the change, Touya realizes Aizawa paid for two coffee’s. He wants one to go, then, for when he finishes the cup he’s currently polishing off.
“What’s got you coming back a second night in a row?” Touya asks, preparing a cup for Aizawa’s second drink. “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen you two nights in a row before.”
“Mmm,” Aizawa hums. “Just work stuff. Hours are weird, in my profession. Don’t worry too much about it, just expect to see me more often. Maybe I can be your replacement Boy.” Aizawa huffs out a laugh at his own joke. Touya hands the man his second drink, shaking his head in mock disapproval.
Aizawa grins at him. “Take it easy, Touya. Don’t worry too much about your Boy. Your real Boy, that is. Don’t worry about me, either, though. Ah, I’ve made it confusing now.” Touya allows a small laugh.
Aizawa waves as he exits the shop, the bells silent above him.
Touya doesn’t know what Aizawa does for a living, doesn’t understand what kind of profession would have him working all night but still able to come in for coffee at two in the morning. He’s not going to question it, though. If Aizawa wanted him to know, he would have offered the information already.
Touya plugs his phone in, turns on a K-Pop playlist, and tries not to think about Hawks as he sweeps and mops the floor.
(He’s not particularly successful).
Hawks hasn’t texted back by the time Touya’s shift ends. He’s been left on read once more.
In a move that has Touya’s brain screaming at him, Touya texts Hawks again.
He’s sitting on the train home as he does it, not wanting to stay for extra time with Jin a second day in a row. All he wants is to go home and pass out in his jeans.
All he sends Hawks is a meme, something stupid that he could try to make a conversation out of, if Hawks would just reply.
When he gets home later, Touya checks his phone to make sure his alarm is set.
Hawks has left him on read once again.
Touya tries to ignore the sadness that flares in his chest.
By the time Friday night rolls around, Touya has sent Hawks ten messages and received zero replies. Hawks hasn’t shown up once to the shop.
Touya decides it’s time to give up. It’s almost been a week. They went out for dinner on Saturday night. Hawks isn’t coming back, he wants nothing to do with Touya.
Or, more likely, Hawks wants nothing to do with Dabi.
And really, Touya can’t blame him for it. He’s not going to change it, he never wants to stop being Dabi, but he gets why Hawks doesn’t want to be involved with it. Dabi is dangerous. Not that Dabi would ever hurt Hawks, at least not intentionally, but even just knowing his identity puts Hawks at risk.
Hawks could be arrested or worse, just for knowing who Dabi is. For keeping the secret Touya forced upon him.
He will leave Hawks alone, now. That’s what it seems like Hawks wants, and Touya will respect that. He has to.
He can get used to his Before Hawks work schedule again. Can go out as Dabi every weekend, rather than staying in at night to text Hawks. Can attend League of Vigilantes meetings and can actually pay attention, rather than wonder what Hawks is doing all the time.
Touya thinks he remembers Hawks saying his major in school is crime scene analysis, and that he also takes courses relating to criminology. Who knows, maybe one day, they’ll meet again.
In the meantime, Touya can talk to Aizawa. It’s not as fun, and the man doesn’t stay nearly as long as Hawks ever did, but it’s something to pass the time. Aizawa is a curious man, but Touya is happy to answer his questions. It’s not like he has anything better to do.
The League of Vigilantes meet at 11:30 on Saturday night, and they talk about Hawks.
“I don’t know why you thought it would be a good idea to tell him,” Shigaraki says, glaring at Dabi with no heat behind it. It’s less of a glare and more of his default look, Dabi thinks.
Dabi shakes his head. “Clearly I wasn’t thinking. It doesn’t matter. I don’t think it should be a problem, I don’t think he’s going to tell anyone. If he was going to say anything, he would have done it already, and I would be in jail. Calm down.”
The rest of the League members stare at him, expressions varying greatly. Spinner still looks like he pities Dabi, although there’s a degree of disappointment to it, too. As if he is upset for Dabi for the situation he is in, but he’s also upset with Dabi for putting himself in the situation in the first place.
If he’s honest, Dabi agrees, although his upset feeling is less on the sad side of the scale and more on the fucking-pissed-off side.
Twice looks like he wants to speak, but he’s holding himself back. Clearly, he still thinks Hawks is going to come back around. The others have finally come to admit that Dabi is probably right, Hawks coming back is unlikely.
Dabi doesn’t bother with the others. He reaches into his pocket, grabbing a partially squished pack of cigarettes out of his pocket and lighting one with a practiced ease. Toga coughs pointedly as he does so, but he ignores her. The window is open beside him, she’ll be fine.
“Is anything else going to happen in this meeting, or can I leave now?” Dabi asks, smoke whisping out of his mouth along with his words.
Shigaraki looks around to the rest of the members, and when nobody brings up a new topic, he waves a casual hand to Dabi. “Do what you want, Dabi. Let me know if you need Kurogiri to get you anything again.”
Dabi sends Shigaraki a two-finger salute. “Will do, boss.”
Pulling a scarred mask over his face, Dabi puts his cigarette out on the windowsill and crawls onto the fire escape.
He’s got a target to find.
Dabi is on the news again, and Hawks doesn’t know how to feel.
Is it more brutal than usual? Has Dabi been thinking about this person for a while, or was it random? Did Dabi kill someone because he’s upset about Hawks avoiding him? Is this Hawks’ fault?
No matter why Dabi did what he did, it’s not Hawks’ fault. He can’t sit here and blame himself for another adult’s actions.
When Hawks checks the website he’s come to trust, the one he knows to be honest about Dabi’s victims, he finds that this cop is just like all the others. That makes him feel better, at least. It wasn’t just a random officer, an innocent man paying for the crimes of his less innocent coworkers. Dabi always knows what he’s doing. He’s making a difference, Hawks thinks.
That’s what he tells himself, anyway. Telling himself that Dabi is doing the right thing makes it easier for Hawks to justify not telling the police what he knows.
He doesn’t want to see Touya going to jail. Touya doesn’t deserve jail. Hawks knows most people wouldn’t agree, but that’s what he thinks. Dabi is doing good, he’s eradicating evil.
Hawks changes the channel. He can’t think about this anymore.
Touya isn’t messaging him anymore. He hasn’t received a single text message since early Friday morning.
He hasn’t slept since then, either.
It’s early afternoon on Sunday, Hawks most certainly could sleep right now, if he wanted to.
He doesn’t want to.
Hawks dresses casually, shoves a couple textbooks as well as his laptop into his backpack, and makes the familiar walk to the coffee shop where Touya works.
Touya won’t be there, of course, he will be asleep right now. Even if Touya isn’t asleep, it’s his day off, he has no reason to be at work right now.
Hawks doesn’t even want to pretend like he isn’t avoiding Touya. That’s exactly what he’s doing. He’s only going to the coffee shop because he knows Touya won’t be there, and Jin won’t be there to tell Touya that Hawks was there.
Hawks doesn’t know the name or appearance of the person who works before Touya, but they shouldn’t be working now, either. It’s too early for the evening worker to be there. It’s the perfect time for Hawks to visit.
Imagine Hawks’ surprise when he enters the otherwise empty coffee shop, only to hear a man yell his name as if speaking it burns his tongue.
A white haired man approaches Hawks quickly. His skin is dry, lips cracked. He has a scar on his mouth, but he isn’t unattractive despite all that.
Hawks shouldn’t be thinking about this. This is, quite honestly, the least important part of what’s happening.
A tall woman behind the cash register glares daggers at Hawks. He doesn’t understand what he’s done to piss these people off so badly.
The white haired man grabs Hawks’ chin, forcing him to meet his eyes once again. They are bright, blood red. Hawks has never seen anything like them; they’re so bright, they almost glow.
“Why are you avoiding Touya?”
Ah. These people know Touya, too, despite working shifts opposite to his. Hawks wonders just how close everyone at the cafe truly is.
Raising his hands, Hawks tries to take a step back but feels his backpack collide with the door. “I don’t think I can really talk about that. I think he knows why, though. Maybe he’ll tell you.”
This is not the answer the man was looking for. Hawks looks down to read the name tag on his shirt. Tenko.
Tenko glares harder than before as he speaks, voice hushed only slightly. “I swear to God, if you’re avoiding Touya because he told you about Dabi, I will kill you myself.”
Hawks has never been a particularly good actor, and this time is no exception. He can't hide his surprise.“I gotta be honest, Tenko, I didn’t expect you to know about that.”
Tenko steps back, letting out a small laugh as he shakes his head. “Of course I know. We work together. Why wouldn’t I know?”
Hawks steps around Tenko, making his way to the cash register calmly. “I dunno. I never told any of my classmates that I was blowing all my money at a twenty-four hour coffee shop. I don’t think, if I were a vigilante who regularly broke the law, I would tell all my barista friends about that, either.” He shrugs, turning his attention to the woman still standing behind the register. “Any chance he told you my coffee order when he was telling you about his criminal activities?”
The woman, Kenji, according to her name tag, has a small smile on her face as she shakes her head no. Hawks sighs.
“Of course he wouldn’t. Twelve ounce with sweetened condensed milk, please.”
She makes a face at his order, and he pretends not to see it. He knows, okay? It’s too sweet for most people. It’s not Hawks’ fault he has a more refined palate that happens to hate the flavour of coffee.
Tenko hasn’t stopped staring at the door, where Hawks stood only a moment before. Finally, he turns on his heel to glare at Hawks. “He said you talk a lot, but I didn’t expect you to jump subject so quickly like that. Jesus.”
Hawks flashes an award-winning smile. “It’s part of my charm,” He says, shooting finger guns at the man.
Shaking his head, Tenko runs a hand down his face. “I don’t know what he sees in you. When I said we work together, I meant outside of here. Are you thick skulled? Let me spell it out for you. If I see anything about Dabi’s identity, or the existence of the League of Vigilantes at all, in the media? We all know who we’re looking for.”
That one makes Hawks pause. “...What? The League of...Huh?”
Kenji freezes where she’s pouring Hawks’ coffee, watching Tenko for a reaction.
Tenko raises an eyebrow. “Did he not tell you?”
Tilting his head to the side, Tenko’s eyes examine Hawks. “Interesting. My mistake, I guess. But since you know now, consider the threat unchanging. We will know.”
Hawks nods. “I hear ya, loud and clear.”
Kenji hands him his drink and his change, and Hawks, moving on autopilot and not thinking straight without Touya there, pockets the change.
Hawks makes his way towards the exit, when a voice calls out behind him.
“Talk to Touya,” Kenji says with a wave of her hand. “He misses you.”
Monday morning, Hawks walks into his criminology lesson to see a surprise guest.
His classmates whisper amongst themselves until finally, the classroom has filled, and their professor calls their attention. She introduces the man beside her as Detective Todoroki, from the local police force.
Hawks isn’t sure why, but something about the officer in front of him feels familiar. It’s something in his eyes, Hawks thinks.
Shaking the thoughts from his head, Hawks tries to concentrate on what the officer has to tell them about police work. If Hawks is honest with himself, he doesn’t really care. He doesn’t want to become a police officer, especially not after what he’s learned through Dabi.
He studies crime scene analysis, he will become a crime scene analyst. He will have to work alongside the cops, but he will not be one of them. He refuses. Not until there’s a change in the system.
Hawks is only half-paying attention to what Detective Todoroki tells his class about tracking and catching criminals. He informs them that he has the highest arrest record in his force. Hawks isn’t too sure that’s a good thing, but he keeps his mouth shut. He’s not going to question that in a room full of future police officers.
Finally, Detective Todoroki asks the students if they have any questions for him. A few students ask questions about detective work, what they should focus on and what they should forget.
Hawks raises a tentative hand. He’s got a question, but he’s not sure if he should really ask it or not.
“You,” Detective Todoroki says, pointing to Hawks.
Hawks stands up, shoves his hands in his pockets. “What are you doing about the vigilante, Dabi?”
Mutters erupt throughout the room. Everyone has heard the name, of course. Even if Dabi weren’t in the news as often as he is, he kills police officers in their town. Criminology students are bound to recognize his name.
Detective Todoroki clears his throat. “We are doing everything in our best efforts to find this illegal vigilante and take him down. Because this is still an open case, I cannot discuss specific details in this class. However, I can say, I am personally leading a team dedicated to finding him. We have many leads, and even some outside assistance, so please do not worry. I probably shouldn’t say this, but - we have a suspect in mind. We will catch him soon, I assure you.”
Hawks nods. “Thank you,” He says, before sitting back down at his desk.
An uncomfortable silence blankets the classroom. Dabi has been at large for well over a year now, and the police needing to call in outside help isn’t common, at least not that they know of.
Hawks files the information away.
Maybe, he thinks, it’s time for another late-night stop at the coffee shop.
Touya can’t hide his surprise when Hawks enters the coffee shop Tuesday night.
He’s talking to Aizawa when the bell above the door jingles. He looks over, and sees a familiar blond-haired man with a heavy backpack, one which Touya knows is holding a laptop and at least one textbook.
Hawks doesn’t speak as he drops his usual bill on the cash register, simply taking a seat at the bar, in the stool farthest away from where Aizawa sits.
Touya watches as Hawks pulls out his laptop and textbook, powering on the computer and searching through his book for the proper page.
His brain catches up to him, and Touya grabs the bill from off the register, inputting Hawks’ order and dropping the change into the tip jar. He works on autopilot as he prepares the coffee.
“I’ll leave you two,” Aizawa says with a chuckle. “Good to see you again,” He says with a salute to Hawks.
Hawks nods, small smile on his face. “Nice to see you too, Aizawa.”
“Oh!” Touya calls, before Aizawa can sneak out the door. “Will I see you again tomorrow?”
“Ah, yeah,” Aizawa replies. “You probably will!”
Touya waves at the quickly retreating man, watches to try and see what Aizawa does to stop the bell from jingling. It’s probably pointless, by now. He’s been trying to figure it every day since Aizawa became a regular, but he just can’t see anything different.
Hawks’ voice draws Touya from his thoughts.
“He’s been coming here often?”
Touya nods, mixing the sweetened condensed milk into Hawks’ drink and placing it beside his computer. “He’s here every day. He calls himself my replacement Boy.”
Hawks snorts. “What Boy is he here to replace?”
Touya raises an eyebrow in disbelief. “You, obviously. He called you my Boy the first night he came in and you weren’t here.”
It feels awkward, talking about it. Joking about it, as if they’re just regular friends who haven’t seen each other in a hot minute. Touya feels sadness tugging at his gut, but he tries to ignore it. He just wants to go back to normal with Hawks, even if normal isn’t really normal anymore, if it has to be a new, weird, sad normal. If it’s with Hawks, Touya is okay with it.
“Oh,” Hawks says, rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly. “Sorry.”
Touya shrugs. “Whatever. I shouldn’t have told you all that shit. I should have waited until I knew you actually wanted to know it, until I knew you were ready. I was just being selfish? Maybe? I was excited to have someone new to share it with, and I didn’t think about if you actually wanted to share it with me. I’m sorry for putting that burden on you.”
Hawks shakes his head. “No, no, Touya. I’m glad you told me. I really am. It was just a lot. And then, on Sunday, someone named Tenko mentioned something about a League? League of Vigilantes? It’s a lot to take in all at once, but still, I’m sorry. I could have at least replied to your text messages. I was just being a dick.”
Touya nearly drops the cup of coffee he’s been pouring for himself. “Tenko told you about that? Really? Tenko?”
“Uh, yeah? I think that was his name. White hair, dry skin, scar?”
Touya, unexpectedly, barks out a laugh. “I can’t believe Tenko of all people spilled the beans. Ha!”
Hawks chuckles nervously. “He, uh. Seemed surprised that you hadn’t told me already. He thought I knew.”
“Of course he did.”
Hawks nods, confused. “Right. Well, I would like to know. All of it. If you don’t mind?” He phrases it as a question, even though it’s not, really. If Hawks already knows the basics, there’s no reason for Touya to hold back. Of course he isn’t going to mind.
And so, Touya tells Hawks.
It takes a while, to explain the League of Vigilantes, the members, the way that the coffee shop is just a front.
Or, it started as a front. The graveyard shift was supposed to be used for meetings with the members, but when Kurogiri, the owner of the shop, noticed that customers actually occasionally came in in the middle of the night, he made it a real shop, with the money it brings it being used for whatever the League members required.
Hawks, for all that he likes to talk, is a good listener. He doesn’t interrupt once with his own comments, simply nodding along to the things Touya says. He doesn’t complain when Touya sweeps the floor and talks at the same time, simply turns to face the man so he can hear a little better.
When Touya finishes explaining, it’s almost time for the morning rush. He only has about fifteen minutes left before his first regular should be walking through the front door.
“A cop came to my class the other day. I told you that I study crime scene analysis, right?” Touya nods, he remembers Hawks complaining about his courses before. “It was in my criminology class. A detective came in, Detective Todoroki?”
Touya wishes he could say he was prepared to hear his father’s name, but that would be a lie. It hits him in the chest like a bullet.
Touya’s mouth is dry when he replies. “What did he say?”
“Not much,” Hawks says with a shake of his head. “He’s got the highest arrest record or some shit. Sounded real proud of himself. That stuff doesn’t really matter, though. I asked him about you - about Dabi.”
Of course, Todoroki Enji would be proud of his high arrest record. Of course. Touya expected nothing less.
“Is that right?”
“Yeah,” Hawks says, and if he notices a change in Touya’s voice, he doesn’t bring it up. Touya is thankful. He does not want to explain his family history tonight.
Hawks continues, “He said that he can’t tell us much because it’s an open investigation, but he’s leading a team who is looking for Dabi, and they’ve brought some outside help. Apparently they have a lot of leads. They think they might have a suspect in mind.”
Touya wonders if it’s him.
Does his father have to think of him every day? Does he feel shame for what he did? Do all his cop buddies know, do they know why Detective Todoroki’s own son would be a suspect in a cop-killing vigilante case?
Touya hopes Todoroki Enji is hating his life, right about now.
“That’s pretty interesting, Pretty Bird. Thanks for letting me know.”
Hawks raises his eyebrows. “You don’t think it’s suspicious? That they’ve called in outside help and suddenly have a suspect in mind? At the same time that Aizawa is spending more time in the cafe? Do you know what Aizawa does for a living? Because I sure as Hell don’t.”
Touya’s stomach swoops.
Hawks is right - Touya has no idea what Aizawa does for a living. The man has always been shady about his private life, and Touya has been happy to roll with that, talking about his own private life and days off instead.
Someone who knows Touya’s schedule, who knows when he’s at home and when he’s awake and when his days off are, would have far too easy a time putting two and two together.
Aizawa is a smart man, and he’s sneaky.
Touya might be caught.
“I’m going to call a League meeting. Tonight. I want you to join, tell them what you told me.” Touya speaks fast. He doesn’t have much time now. People will walk in any second. “I’ll text you the details, okay?”
Hawks nods, packing up his stuff and moving his bag to the floor to clear off the bar space for the incoming rush. The way he always did, during the With Hawks period. Touya tries not to focus on it as the bell above the door jingles, and he greets his first regular with a smile on his face.
That night, at midnight, Hawks enters the coffee shop once again. Touya doesn’t think he’ll ever tire of the sight of Hawks.
Kenji, who stayed behind after her shift ended and Touya’s began, greets him with a smile.
“Dabi, look! It’s your Boy!”
Hawks’ cheeks colour, and Dabi pinches Kenji’s arm from over the counter. He prepares a drink for Hawks, handing it to him and waving away Hawks’ money.
“Drinks are free at official League meetings.”
Kurogiri appears through the swinging doors. “That’s right,” He says to Dabi.
Then, he turns to Hawks. “My name is Shirakumo, although you may have heard of me as Kurogiri.”
Hawks shakes Kurogiri’s hand with a smile. “Nice to meet you!”
Pretty soon, the rest of the League has entered the cafe, and the open sign has been turned off. Toga openly stares at Hawks, and despite not saying anything, Dabi knows Hawks is uncomfortable under the girl’s searching eyes.
Toga means no harm, though, so Dabi doesn’t tell her to stop. Instead, he walks from behind the counter and pulls Hawks over to a booth to sit down.
The rest of the League follow them to the table, the only one large enough to seat everyone, and sit down with steaming mugs in front of them.
Silence envelopes them, and Hawks fidgets beside him.
Shigaraki clears his throat, drawing the attention of everyone. “Why are we here?”
Dabi nudges Hawks’ arm with his elbow. “Tell them what you told me.”
With a sigh, Hawks begins to explain. He tells the others his major, his class, the mystery guest.
When Hawks says the name of the officer, a couple League members shoot glances at Dabi. He glares back at them in a silent command to keep their mouths shut. They don’t seem to like it, but nothing about Dabi’s family is brought up.
Finally, Hawks tells them about Aizawa. How he’s probably suspecting Touya.
“That’s it.” Hawks finished with a deep breath out.
Dabi nods, looking around at the other League members before settling his glance on Shigaraki.
It’s Kurogiri who speaks first, though.
“So, we need a way for this Mr.Aizawa to believe it is impossible for Touya to be Dabi?”
Dabi nods once again, bringing his gaze down to his hands.
“I have an idea,” Dabi says, “But I’m not sure if it will work.”
Nobody speaks, and Kurogiri gestures for Dabi to continue.
“If one of you goes out while I’m here, and while Aizawa is here with me, that should be enough. We might have to do it a couple weeks in a row. But it should make him stop suspecting me.”
Dabi looks at the others. Most of them don’t actually kill, haven’t made a name for themselves the way Dabi has. Don’t put themselves at risk the way Dabi does.
Toga doesn’t mind killing, but she’s a girl, and she’s far too short to ever pass as Dabi. Spinner and Twice don’t kill, and Mister Compress only does as a last resort.
Shigaraki is the best option, and Dabi settles his gaze on him.
Red eyes meet blue, and Shigaraki sighs. “Fine.”
“Thanks,” Dabi breathes. “You’re a lifesaver.”
Shigaraki shakes his head, small smile on his face. “Whatever. Just text me the details.”
The meeting becomes less of a meeting and more of a hangout after that, with Jin leaving early to catch some sleep before his shift and Himiko leaving with him because he’s her ride home. Kenji doesn’t stay long, either, and she claps a hand on Hawks’ shoulder as she goes, whispering something in his ear that has him blushing right up to his ears.
Shirakumo turns the open sign back on as he goes, and Shuichi and Tenko follow quickly behind him.
Atsuhiro heads to the back, saying something about baking that Touya doesn’t listen to, and then five minutes later he’s gone too, and it’s just Touya and Hawks in the coffee shop.
Touya searches Hawks’ face. His blush is calming down, only a faint pink tinge left on his cheeks.
“What did you think?” Touya asks softly.
“Huh?” Hawks startles. “Think about what?”
Touya grabs a mug, pouring himself a cup of coffee just so he has something to do with his hands. “What did you think about the meeting? About the League?”
Hawks watches as Touya pours a second cup of coffee, making Hawks’ favourite drink on autopilot.
“I thought it was...cool. It’s really cool. It’s incredible that you guys are this little group who help each other out and nobody outside knows about it.”
Touya places the drink in front of Hawks, eyebrow raised. “Yeah? It’s cool?”
Hawks nods, reaching for his wallet in an attempt to pay for the drink, but Touya waves his money away once again.
“Y’know,” Touya begins cautiously, leaning against the counter behind him. “If you think it’s so cool, we could always use your help. Behind the scenes, of course.”
Hawks looks like he is about to spit out his coffee at Touya’s suggestion. “What? Me?”
Touya nods. “Yeah, you. I mean, you don’t have to, if you don’t want to. It’s fine. But, the knowledge you get with your major would be seriously helpful to us. If you wanted it to be.”
Hawks opens his mouth to reply, but turns to look at the front door instead.
Aizawa stands, the door closing silently behind him.
“Hawks!” He greets. “How did you know I was here? I was going to eavesdrop and see if Touya finally got the guts to ask you out again.”
Hawks’ face colours once again, and Touya rubs a hand down his face.
“Oh my God,” Touya groans. “I can’t believe you just said that. You’re like the nice but embarrassing father I never had.”
Aizawa lets out a chuckle. “Don’t get along with your dad?”
Touya knows Hawks is listening, but can’t find it in him to care.
“Nah,” He replies. “He’s a cop. He was always a real hard-ass growing up. I ran away from him when I was 16, started living with Shirakumo. That’s how I got this job. You know how it is.”
Aizawa nods, face contemplative. Touya knows, now, that Hawks was right. Aizawa knows who his father is, he knows Touya’s full name, and the only way he could know that is if Touya is under investigation.
Touya shares a quick look with Hawks before he moves to make Aizawa’s coffee. “Here or to-go tonight?”
Aizawa startles, apparently being drawn out of thought from Touya.
“I’ll get it to-go, tonight. Let you and your Boy over there talk.”
Touya lets out a laugh as he quickly pours coffee into a to-go cup. He accepts Aizawa’s money and hands the man his drink.
“Don’t let me down, you two!” Aizawa says as he heads for the door. “If I come back tomorrow and don’t hear that you two made up, I’ll be upset!”
The door closes behind Aizawa, and Touya turns to look at Hawks, unsurprised to see the other man already staring at him.
Touya nods. “Detective Todoroki. Ha! I hope he’s humiliated to have his own son as the lead suspect in a cop-killing case.”
Hawks stares at him. “Is he-”
“Yes,” Touya cuts him off. “Whatever you were going to say, yes. He’s terrible. I don’t want to talk about it. I just wanted to see Aizawa’s reaction, and I got what I wanted. I think you were right, Pretty Bird.”
Hawks nods. “Yeah,” He mutters in a far-away voice. “I think so too.”
Touya sighs. “Listen, Hawks. About what he said. About you and I - I’m sorry if it made you uncomfortable.”
Hawks eyes widen. “No!” He exclaims. “Not at all!” He seems to realize his voice is far too loud for a coffee shop at two in the morning, and he quiets as he continues to speak. “No, Touya, listen. I really - Oh, God, this is sort of embarrassing. I really like you, okay? I never stopped liking you and honestly? You telling me everything, about Dabi and about the League, it just made me like you more.”
Hawks laughs, shaking his head as if Touya said something ridiculous. “I know, it might not seem like it with the way I ignored you after. That was just...me being stupid. I mean it. The fact that you feel you can trust me with this means the world to me.”
Touya feels a genuine smile creep up on his face. “Well, I don’t think I need to tell you that I really like you, too, Birdie. Seems like everyone’s already told you that themselves.”
Hawks nods, and Touya can see he’s working hard to hide his own excited smile.
“So what do you think?” Touya asks. “You wanna try this out? For real this time?”
“If you’re asking me to go out with you in this weird, convoluted and cryptic way, then the answer is yes.”
Touya can’t hold back his laughter. He doesn’t reply, but he doesn’t think he needs to. Hawks just gets him.
It’s a Thursday, when the plan goes down.
Well, technically, it’s early Friday morning. 2 a.m on Friday morning, to be exact. Aizawa is sitting at the bar in the coffee shop, chatting with Hawks while Touya stocks the front with extra supplies for the Friday morning rush.
Aizawa’s phone rings, loud in the otherwise quiet cafe, interrupting a conversation that Touya hasn’t been bothering to listen in to.
“Aw, shit,” Aizawa mutters. “Sorry, gotta take this, it’s work.”
He walks to the far corner of the shop. Brings the phone to his ear and whispers harshly. Touya struggles to try and hear what’s happening, but years of listening to music far too loud has destroyed his hearing.
He knows Hawks can hear, though, and settles with waiting until Aizawa leaves to be filled in.
It’s only a couple minutes later that Aizawa returns, finishing off his drink with a heavy sigh. “I’ve got to get going, sorry Hawks. Talk to you another time.”
Hawks nods, and Touya waves goodbye as Aizawa exits through the front door.
As soon as the door is closed, Touya turns to Hawks.
“What did he say on the phone?”
“He was definitely talking about you,” Hawks replies. “He said that you were right in front of him. He said something was impossible. That was about it. I think your plan worked.”
Touya smiles. “Good,” He says, pulling out his phone and shooting a text to Tenko. Mission success.
“Thank you for your help, Hawks, seriously.”
Hawks shrugs. “Don’t worry about it. I couldn’t let you get caught. Even just the thought of it was terrible enough.”
“What’s this?” Touya feigns surprise. “Does Hawks care about me? I can’t believe it.”
Hawks shoves Touya’s shoulder with a smile. “Shut up! Of course I care. I like you, remember?”
“I remember,” Touya says. He grabs Hawks’ hand, a gentle move that should feel out of character for him, but in the moment, it doesn’t. “I like you too, remember?”
“Yeah,” Hawks replies with a smile. “I remember.”
Hawks pulls his hand out of Touya’s grip. “Your rush is going to start soon. But, just so you know, I would love to be the League’s behind-the-scenes guy. Thanks, Touya.”
Touya winks just as the bell above the door jingles. “Any time, Pretty Bird.”