Someone is banging on his front door. Natsuo groans and turns his head to his nightstand, where his alarm clock displays an unforgiving figure of 3:36 a.m. Honestly, at this point, Natsuo should just give up sleep entirely, but he can still hope, right?
Wrong. Natsuo just can’t have nice things after midnight.
He opens his front door angrily, almost ripping them off their hinges.
“I gave you a fucking key for a reason-” he cuts off abruptly, seeing a winged hero on his doorstep. “You’re not Dabi”.
Hawks, in turn, looks very confused and bloody.
“What are you doing here?” Hawks asks, like an asshole.
“I fucking live here. What are you doing here?” if Natsuo raises his eyebrows any higher they’ll fly off his face.
“Dabi told me this was a safe house”.
“Dabi told you- son of a bitch” Natsuo groans. “Fine, get in, you’re bleeding on my porch”.
He locks the door behind the hero.
“Cozy” Hawks smirks, looking around the apartment.
“Watch yourself, pigeon boy” Natsuo threatens, letting out a light coat of ice spread from beneath his bare feet over the apartment floor. “Last time I checked pro heroes weren’t getting friendly with borderline terrorists” he baits, disappearing into his bathroom for a first aid kit.
“Last time I checked, villains didn’t have safe houses in civilians’ apartments” Hawks snorts.
Natsuo inclines his head. “Strip”.
“You’re bleeding through your coat”.
Hawks scrambles to get out of his clothes, wings bobbing behind his back. There’s a gash in his side.
“I can sew that” Natsuo cleans the wound and examines it. “Just gotta pretend you’re a pair of pants or something”.
He ducks his head to hide a grin. It’s almost four a.m, he’s allowed to be a piece of shit.
“I’m going to sleep” he announces, tossing the first aid kit back to the bathroom when he finishes stitching Hawks up. “You can crash on the couch, and if you’re not out of here by ten a.m I will fillet the shit out of your chicken ass”.
“Funny way to treat a hero” Hawks raises an eyebrow.
Natsuo grins, teeth and exhaustion. “I’m letting you sleep in my apartment after sewing your chicken ass back together at the asscrack of dawn. I’ll treat you how I see fit”.
He closes his bedroom door and screams into his pillow.
He hates Dabi so much.
“How was the safe house?” Dabi grins the next time he sees Hawks, cigarette hanging from his lips.
The hero raises a pointed eyebrow.
Dabi cackles. “He’s a real treat when you wake him up, ain’t he?”.
“How did you even end up with a civilian’s apartment as a safe house?” Hawks shakes out his wings absentmindedly.
“None a’ your business, pigeon boy” Dabi sing songs. “One thing though” he leans over Hawks, using is impressive height to keep the hero boxed in. “Natsu is a good one, yeah? Doesn’t need any trouble, so keep it on the down-low”.
Hawks puffs up his wings defensively. “Shouldn’t you be taking your own advice? You’re a high profile criminal. I’m a pro hero”.
Dabi blows smoke into the hero’s face, with a grin. It stretches the staples aking his cheeks grotesquely. “I’m used to low-key. I can do stealth. You hero types? All fanfare. All for show” he flicks off excess ash. “I’m not the one with paparazzi coming out of my ass. So keep that in mind”.
“Is there a threat somewhere in there?” Hawks huffs, half amused.
“No threats chicken boy, just promises”.
Natsuo just can’t catch a break. That’s some shit karma he's got going on, and he doesn’t even know what he did. Is it because he ate Fuyumi’s gummy bears when he was eight and blamed it on Shouto? Because he’d do it again.
He opens the door. It’s Dabi.
“Go fuck yourself, I hate you”.
Dabi brandishes a bag of take-out.
“You’re the best brother I’ve ever had, please come in”.
Natsuo is halfway through a box of dumplings when he remembers he was pissed.
“Why the fuck did you tell Hawks to come to my house?” he points his chopsticks at Dabi accusingly, cheeks puffed.
Dabi grins, like an asshole. “You’re more upset about helping out a pro hero than a wanted criminal? Sort out your priorities”.
Natsuo glares, chewing his food. “Whatever. Just tell him to not make it a regular thing”.
“I’m not responsible for him”.
Natsuo rolls his eyes. “Oh, I know. You’re barely responsible for yourself” he stuffs another dumpling into his mouth. “Still”.
Dabi kicks out his leg, jostling the box in Natsuo’s hands, making him cry out and swing his hand down seeking retribution, burying his chopsticks in the meat of Dabi’s thigh.
They both stare flabbergasted at two wooden sticks lodged snugly in Dabi’s leg.
“Well, shit” Dabi raises his eyebrows. “These guns ain’t just for show, huh?”.
Natsuo covers his face with his hands and groans.
He hopes to see Hawks again never. But Todoroki Natsuo cannot have nice things by the universe laws, so of course Hawks is there at the next family dinner Natsuo doesn’t want to be at.
“Oh hey, you know Hawks?” Fuyumi guides him to the dining room with a firm hand on his back. He’s not ashamed to say he’s a hell of a sprinter when he wants to be. She has a reason for this precaution. “He’s dad’s friend from work”.
Natsuo scoffs. “Dad has friends?”.
“Don’t be a shithead” Fuyumi pinches him with the hand she has on his back. She’s full of shit too, he can see she’s laughing at what he said.
“Don’t be a shithead” Hawks echoes, grinning widely, like an asshole.
Natsuo sits down, face to face with Hawks, and ponders how to strangle himself with a napkin.
Unfortunately, Hawks excuses himself the same time Natsuo does, so he has to endure the hero’s company longer than he’d ever want to.
“You have wings for a reason” he glares at Hawks walks leisurely right next to him. “Can’t you take to the skies and take your pigeon ass somewhere else?”.
“Rude” the man grins, eyes scrunching into crescents. “Also, you’re a shit seamstress, my stitches came apart two days later”.
“I do have a stapler” Natsuo huffs. “We can do that next time”.
Hawks bats his wings, offended. “Do I look like-”.
“Oh my God, is that Hawks?”.
Natsuo grins and slips away, unnoticed in the crowd of fans quickly surrounding the hero.
Maybe his karma is turning around.
His karma is not turning around.
“When I said we can try a stapler next time” he wheezes, carrying the bloodied heap of a hero to his couch. “I didn’t mean it as an invitation” he dumps the man onto the cushions. “Aren’t birds supposed to have hollow bones? Take some notes”.
“You callin’ me fat?”.
“You’re like, Fuyumi’s age” Natsuo snorts, disappearing into the bathroom. He emerges with a surgical stapler. “I’m not impressed”.
Hawks eyes the stapler with a healthy dose of apprehension.
“Is that really necessary?”.
“I mean you did insult my sewing skills” Natsuo clacks the stapler threateningly “and it really hurt my feelings. Besides you’re bleeding on my couch and that’s not ideal. Couches are stupid expensive”.
“It’s leather, it’ll wash off” Hawks complains, but lets Natsuo staple his side.
“Cute” Natsuo snorts, examining the row of staples. “Now you and Dabi can match”.
“Oh yeah,” Hawks deadpans. “Real BFF shit”.
When Hawks gets out of the shower he’s surprised to see Natsuo still in the living room.
“Sit down, bird brain” he kicks his feet up onto the coffee table. “We’re gonna have a talk”.
“You’re breaking up with me?” Hawks grins crookedly, shaking out his wings.
“You wish you were dating all of this” Natsuo motions lazily to himself. “But no, Pidgeotto” his eyes turn serious. “We’re gonna have a talk about what exactly are you doing with the League”.
Hawks lowers himself stiffly to the couch. “That’s really not your concern”.
Natsuo side-eyes him. “Really? Because this is the second time I stitched you back together. You know where I live. You work with Endeavor. I think I deserve to know why a pro hangs out with a borderline terrorist organization” Natsuo folds his arm over his chest.
“You wanna play it like that?” Hawks raises his eyebrows. “Then why you, as a civilian, offer your apartment as a safe house for the League, should they require medical attention?”.
Natsuo scoffs. “I don’t give a shit about the League”.
“Just Dabi then?”.
“Nu-uh” Natsuo smirks. “I answered your question now you answer mine”.
Hawks purses his lips in thought, smoothing a hand over his feathers absentmindedly. “I- do not exactly agree with the way our system is working currently”.
“You benefit from it though”.
Hawks shrugs. “So do many other heroes. Endeavor, for example”.
It’s fascinating to watch Natsuo’s face shutter closed. His gray eyes turn dark and thunderous, frost climbing up his arms.
“So what, you’re getting all friendly with the League passing them relevant information from the Commission so they can dismantle the system effectively?”.
Hawks is impressed with how Natsuo’s mind works.
“Kind of” Natsuo echoes, smiling crookedly. “We’ll see what it’s worth I guess”.
He sounds suspiciously like Dabi. Which reminds him-
“So” Hawks grins “my question now. How did you end up with Dabi using your house as a safe house?”.
Natsuo mulls the question over for a while. He has a weirdly good poker face.
“We go way back” is what he finally settles on.
Hawks blinks. “Way back?”.
“Mhm,” Natsuo smirks. He gets off the couch and stretches. “Good talk, I’m going to sleep. Be gone before ten or your ass is grass”.
Todoroki Natsuo makes no sense.
Hawks always liked a good puzzle though.
“So, what’s the deal with Hawks? He’s with you guys now, or what?” Natsuo scoops out a heaping spoonful of peanut butter and crosses his legs on the kitchen counter.
“That’s what he says” Natsuo hears the shrug in Dabi’s voice.
“And is that the truth?”.
“Who the fuck knows with these hero-types” a loud honk on Dabi’s side makes Natsuo jump. “I wouldn’t bank on it though, we’re not excluding the possibility he’s double-crossing us” .
“I mean, he’s fucking working with Endeavor. That doesn’t really convince me”.
“True. He was at the family dinner” Natsuo squints into the jar of peanut butter. He’s running out.
“No shit?” Dabi laughs. “Jesus, what is your life”.
“‘S what I said” he lisps around the spoon in his mouth.
“Be careful with him Natsu” Dabi murmurs quietly. “I don’t like how close he is to you and Endeavor. Just keep him at arm’s length, yeah?”.
“Mm, yeah” Natsuo hops off the counter, wincing at the prickly static in his legs. “You too, yeah? And tell him to fucking take it easy, he’s using up all the staples”.
“Ya, you match now”.
“Real BFF shit” Dabi snorts.
Natsuo cackles into the receiver.
“Take care, kid. I’ll drop by when I can” .
“You too. I’ll try not to stab you this time”.
The line clicks.
This sibling shit easy.
When Hawks and Dabi arrive at his door at the same time, equally bloody, it’s like reality folds in on itself.
“Son of a bitch” Natsuo gasps softly, unsure which man needs his help more. “Dick eating cock whore cunt”.
“Sorry ‘bout that” Dabi slurs, grinning with bloody teeth. “We won, though”.
“Good, great” Natsuo wheezes, ushering both men into the bathroom. “You, shower” he watches Dabi leave a smeared red handprint on the glass wall of the shower as he struggles to sit down. “You, over there” he pushes Hawks onto the toilet lid, where he can sit without his wings getting in the way. “Now I need an honest answer” he glares down two men sternly “who needs help more urgently”.
“Him,” Dabi and Hawks say in unison, unsurprisingly, because of course.
Natsuo screams, a short, shrill burst of noise that startles everyone. “Bleed out then, fucking see if I care”.
“Your entire fucking side is peeling off” Hawks complains. “Half his staples popped off”.
“What the fuck” Natsuo descends on Dabi like a bat out of hell. “Are you an idiot? Don’t answer that, yes you are”.
Hawks watches the younger man help Dabi out of his bloodied coat and winces when he reaches for the first aid kit with bloodied hands, leaving handprints on the cabinets.
Natsuo works with steady hands, despite feeling like he’s about to throw up his heart. He checks the staples for any issues and nods satisfied.
“I think that was the worst of it”.
“Sure” Dabi wheezes a laugh. “Now Pidgeotto”.
Natsuo looks at Hawks sharply.
“His whole back” Dabi grins, like a snitch.
“Coat off. Then turn around”.
Natsuo could be one hell of a doctor.
Later, when they’re all showered and the bathroom is clean, Natsuo slumps against Dabi’s uninjured side in an exhausted heap.
“Alright, Pidgeotto” Dabi side-eyes Hawks. “Order some food with that hero money”.
Natsuo inhales his food in record time, and knocks out just as quickly, curled next to Dabi, sapping away his body heat.
Hawks watches Dabi’s scarred hand comb through the messy white bedhead.
“How many times has this happened?” he glances at the villain tiredly.
“Too many” Dabi chuckles.
“Wouldn’t it be easier” Hawks fights down a yawn “to stop coming here?”.
Dabi smiles mischievously. Like he knows something Hawks doesn’t.
“Natsu’s hell of a firecracker. He can handle my bullshit. He’s been through worse”.
Hawks stares, brimming with curiosity. It’s the most he’s ever gotten Dabi to say about something personal.
He doesn’t ask any more questions, despite how much he wants to.
“Alright, that’s enough fucking emotions” Dabi gets up with a groan. He scoops Natsuo up with a wheeze, cursing up a storm. Hawks winces sympathetically. Natsuo and Dabi are almost the same height, and the kid is decently built. “Take the couch, chickadee”.
Hawks watches Dabi disappear in what he assumes is Natsuo’s bedroom. He doesn’t reappear.
Hawks sighs and gets comfortable on the couch.
He wonders at which point Endeavor’s son harboring a high profile criminal becomes his business.
It becomes a sort of an unhealthy fixation to figure out where exactly Dabi and Natsuo could’ve met. He can’t picture Natsuo harboring the kind of extreme anti-hero sentiments that could lead him to the League. Granted, Natsuo did say he doesn’t particularly care about the League itself. He doesn’t seem to be impressed with heroics, as a whole, but not to the degree of seeking out to dismantle the whole system.
Looks can be deceiving though. Dabi and Natsuo are clearly very close. Close enough for Natsuo to let this man into his house no matter the time. Close enough for Natsuo to stitch Dabi back together with near medical accuracy.
Close enough to fall asleep on him and be okay with sharing a bed, apparently.
Shit. He can’t go there. It’s none of his business anyway.
Next time he crashes at Natsuo’s place he’s noticeably less bloody.
“Why are you even here?” Natsuo complains, but clutches the bag of take-out to his chest like a goblin. “You’re not on the verge of bleeding out. You have your own house. Nest. Wait-” he squints at Hawks. “Do you lay eggs?”.
“What?” Hawks puffs up, offended. “No”.
Natsuo side-eyes him and slurps his noodles. “Weird”.
Hawks bats a wing at him, jostling him hard.
“Hey, hey, Pidgeotto, don’t get too comfortable” Natsuo bats at the offensive appendage, frosting the tips of the feathers he manages to hit. “We’re not friends”.
“We’re not?” Hawks tilts his head, eyes wide with faux innocence.
“I don’t make friends with people bleeding out on my porch” Natsuo smiles wryly.
“I’m just that special” Hawks tosses imaginary hair over his shoulder, wings fluttering coyly.
“Yeah” Natsuo murmurs into his food. “Special needs”.
Hawks let him have it. It was funny.
“So” Hawks drawls obnoxiously, laying the intent in his voice ridiculously thick “what’s with you and Dabi?”.
Natsuo raises an unimpressed eyebrow and slurps his noodles noisily. “Why are you asking like we’re twelve-year-old girls having a sleepover?”.
Hawks raises an eyebrow and looks around pointedly at the food containers and Natsuo’s loungewear. Natsuo flips him off.
“Just curious” he shrugs. “You said you don’t make friends with people bleeding out on your doorstep. I don’t know how else you could’ve met Dabi”.
Natsuo smirks, crooked with a hint of teeth. It’s infuriating and familiar. “Shows what you know, mister pro hero”.
Hawks hates how competitive this makes him. “I mean, why the secrecy? We’re all friends, no?”.
Natsuo stuffs his mouth with more food, shoulders shaking like Hawks said something funny.
“Are we friends, Pidgeotto?” Natsuo chortles, puffy cheeked. “Just because you bled on my couch twice doesn’t mean anything”.
“Look at us, already at nicknames stage” Hawks grins. “Should I come up with one for you?”.
“Don’t you dare” Natsuo narrows his eyes.
“I feel like Snow White is obvious, but it is lazy” Hawks uses a feather to bat away the plastic fork Natsuo throws at him. “But blizzard sounds too much like a dog name. Or a hero name, actually”.
“One and the same, really” Natsuo murmurs.
“I am no dog” Hawks shakes out his wings with an offended sniff.
“Then how about a parcel pigeon?” Natsuo grins. “If this hero gig becomes boring you’d be one hell of a delivery boy”.
Hawks flicks a feather at him. Natsuo covers his face, palm facing Hawks, and freezes the feather mid-air. It falls to the cushions with a dull thunk, encased in crystal clear ice.
“Neat” Hawks says, staring at his feather popsicle. “You must be a riot at parties. Neverending ice and your booze never gets warm”.
He gets a sprinkle of snow in the face for that.
“You do that to me again and I’ll shit on your windshield”.
“Okay, pigeon boy”.
“I’m serious though” Hawks wipes the remnants of snow off his face. “How did that happen?”.
Natsuo stares at him. “Why do you wanna know so badly? Got a crush or something?”.
Natsuo bursts out laughing in delighted shock. “That’s harsh”.
Hawks shrugs, wings bobbing up and down.
“Anyway” Natsuo shakes his head, remnants of a smile still curling the corners of his lips. “Still doesn’t explain why you wanna know so badly. You said you’re all BFF with the League, so what’s the issue?”
“And you said you don’t care about the League” Hawks points out.
“I don’t” Natsuo gets up with a sigh and starts tidying up the food boxes. “I’m not into all that overthrowing the government shit. I just wanna get my degree”.
“Fair. Dabi seems pretty deep into that anarchy shit though” Hawks arches his eyebrow.
Natsuo purses his lips like he’s thinking something over. “What do you know about Stain?”.
“The blood dude?” Hawks tilts his head. “Not too much, to be honest. He had some vendetta against heroes though, right?”.
“He talked about fake heroes” Natsuo speaks softly, avoiding eye contact. “That in this society there are too many heroes who use their powers just to gain fame and money. That protecting people is secondary for them” he looks up at Hawks, grey eyes solemn. “Dabi was in it because of Stain first, not the League”.
Hawks takes a moment to process the information. It’s hard to imagine Dabi aligning himself with an ideology other than wreaking havoc.
“Do you agree?” he asks, suddenly desperate to know “That it’s all just shit and glitter? That it’s all money and no morals?”.
Natsuo looks at him like he’s missing a crucial point.
“I have an early lecture tomorrow” he smiles, tired. “Do you mind?” he glances around the mess on the couch.
“It’s fine” Hawks swallows down disappointment. “Go ahead”.
Natsuo smiles gratefully and turns towards the little hallway that leads to his bedroom.
That night, when Hawks stares at the ceiling of Natsuo’s apartment, he thinks of tired grey eyes, solemn smiles, and snow on his face.
Dabi is on the roof again. He doesn’t even flinch when a pair of wings flutters and beats the air next to him when Hawks lands.
“Are you still a Stain fan?” Hawks crouches on the ledge, not looking at him, wings extending behind him to counterbalance.
“You talked to Natsuo?”.
“Yes. Answer the question”.
“He had good points. He’s what got me started” Dabi shrugs. “There are fake heroes all around. Just take a look”.
“Like who?” Hawks goads. “We’re all friends, no?”.
Dabi grins. It promises destruction. “I’m not friends with heroes”.
Hawks grins wryly. Message received. He changes the subject.
“Did you know Natsuo before all this?” he motions widely to Dabi’s entire body.
The man smirks, amused. “Yes. We go way back”.
Hawks harrumphs. He’s tired of hearing that.
Dabi grins, wide and toothy. Hawks hates this smile, hates seeing how it pulls on the staples, like they will pop off any second and all that would be left of Dabi’s face would be just loose skin and insanity.
“Stop asking, man” Dabi lights a cigarette “I won’t tell you. Neither will Natsu”.
Hawks wonders how can Dabi be so sure.
“Wanna know how I know?” Dabi grins all nasty and mean. “I know him down to his soul, Hawks. Everything there is to him, I’ve seen. And he’s seen me too” he fishes out a box of cigarettes from his coat pocket. “This is some profound shit. It doesn’t go away. I know him down to his bones, man, and vice versa. You don’t stand a chance”.
Hawks grits his teeth.
“You think Natsuo is clueless” Dabi watches him with cold eyes and a wide grin. “That he doesn’t know what he’s up against. That’s fine. Your mistake. But if you wanna hear about the fakest hero of them all, ask him”. He expels a plume of cigarette smoke mixed with the bitter black byproduct of his quirk. “Just make sure you’re ready to believe him”.
He leaves Hawks alone on the roof.
Hawks is sitting in Natsuo’s living room. He tilts his head back and to the side, and meets Natsuo’s eyes.
Natsuo smiles, slow and sweet like a rising sun, like a flower blooming.
“Do you believe in fake heroes?” he asks, voice hushed.
“Do you think I’m one?” Hawks asks in return.
He moves to straddle Hawks, long legs folded on both sides of his hips. “I think you’re the fakest of them all”.
His eyes are bright blue. When he grins it’s strained, as if the skin around his mouth is about to peel away. He wraps a cold palm around Hawks’ throat, not squeezing, but putting enough weight behind it that Hawks’ wings flutter restlessly.
Hawks can’t move. He’s not sure he wants to, despite what’s happening.
“Can you save me?” he asks, leaning close to Hawks’ face. His breath smells like smoke and death. “Can you save me from the fakest hero of them all?”.
“Thought I was the fakest one” Hawks whispers.
“Shows what you know, hero” Natsuo’s voice shifts to a raspy baritone. Black smoke pours from between his teeth in a putrid cloud. “Why are you here?”.
Hawks tries to answer. His voice doesn’t come out.
“Why are you here?” frost climbs down Natsuo’s arms and down Hawks’ neck where their skin meets. “Save me”.
Hawks can only watch when Natsuo goes in flames right on top of him. They’re bright blue.
Hawks can’t move. The frost from Natsuo’s arms keeps him in place. His wings are gone.
He bolts upright in his bed, chest heaving. He’s dripping with sweat. His wings are puffed up, some feathers spread around him, poised to fight off a nonexistent threat.
It takes longer than he’d like to compose himself. He throws off the covers and climbs out of bed. No use in pretending he’s go back to sleep. He gets dressed and flies up to the roof of his apartment building.
Looking at the nightclub neons he keeps replaying the dream in his head. He stubbornly grinds to the halt at the moment Natsuo swings his legs over his waist.
He rubs his face and groans.
This can only end in disaster.
Natsuo is going insane. Whenever Hawks crashes in his apartment he tiptoes around Natsuo, acting vague and coy in a way that doesn’t make any sense. It’s infuriating.
He looks Natsuo in the eyes like he’s surprised to see them every time. Like he expected something else than what he finds.
Natsuo doesn’t like being unsure. He doesn’t like not knowing where he stands with anyone. Growing up with Endeavor will do that to you.
So next time Hawks shows up at his porch, bloodied, he decides enough is enough.
He’s fixing a row of stitches on Hawks' shoulder, familiar enough with the procedure he can allow his hands to work on autopilot when he asks.
“Why are you weird recently?”. He has the hero cornered in his bathroom, literally back to the wall. “You’ve been acting like I’m going to stab you at any given moment”.
“Well, are you?” Hawks snorts.
“If you don’t give me a proper answer I just might” he pulls the thread particularly viciously to steer Hawks back to the conversation at hand.
“Okay, you’ve made your point” Hawks hisses. “Don’t make it any more painful than it already is”.
Natsuo huffs an amused exhale but compiles. Silence settles in between them, but when Natsuo risks a glance at Hawks, the other man’s brows are scrunched in thought.
“When you talked about the fake heroes” the man starts “am I on the list?”.
Natsuo blinks and chuckles. “You’re the fakest one of them all, pigeon boy”.
He cuts the thread and ties it off. He leans back to examine his work and catches Hawks’ eyes, dark despite the bright light of the bathroom.
“Why do you hate heroes?” Hawks asks quietly. Seriously.
Natsuo takes a while to answer.
“Why do you need to know?”.
“I want to know if you’d let me save you”.
“You think you can?” Natsuo drops his voice to a hush to match Hawks. This conversation feels too big to be having it in a room this small, almost nose to nose with Hawks.
“I think you can save yourself” Hawks drops his eyes to trace Natsuo’s throat as he swallows nervously. “I want to, though”.
“Well then,” Natsuo quirks his lips in a half-smile, but it’s strained at the edges. “Save me”.
Hawks kisses him.
Natsuo gasps, and Hawks uses it to deepen the kiss. Natsuo grabs his face in both hands turning his head, letting their lips slot together more naturally.
Hawks’ ungloved hands come to wrap around Natsuo’s wrists in a warm calloused grip
They part when their lungs ache to protest the lack of air.
“Cold” Hawks murmurs, lips and tongue numb. “Didn’t think it’d be that cold”.
“You thought about it?” Natsuo huffs, surprised.
Hawks smiles, subdued but honest. “Too many times”.
Natsuo shakes his head. “Is that why you were so pressed to figure out where I met Dabi?”.
“Asshole” Natsuo scoffs but smiles anyway. “Get out of my bathroom, chicken little”.
“Nothing for free” Hawks raises his eyebrows. “Payment for services required”.
“Oh?” Natsuo smirks. “What about my services? How are you paying for these?”.
Hawks stands up and forces himself into Natsuo’s space.
“Pretty sure we can figure something out”.
Hawks is doing pretty well. He got to find out how does it feel to have Natsuo’s long legs wrapped around his hips and realizes his dream didn’t do it any justice.
He also got to find out Natsuo overheats easily. And that the rosy flush of his cheeks compliments the deep grey of his eyes particularly well.
Dabi eyes him curiously. “You’re too happy. It disgusts me”.
Hawks scoffs. “Some of us allow ourselves to feel things”.
“Rancid” Dabi grins. “Don’t come near me”.
Natsuo is doing pretty well. Turns out that Hawks’ wings puff up when he’s flustered. It would take a lesser man to admit he might have climbed onto the hero’s lap on purpose just to see it.
Apparently Hawks really likes his legs.
Natsuo could be doing better if he wasn’t twenty minutes early to the family dinner he never wanted to be at, but beggars can’t be choosers.
He opens the front door quietly, hoping to loiter in the entryway unnoticed but-
“-and they have no reason to suspect anything?” Endeavor’s voice carries through the house.
“None at all” Hawks replies blandly. “The vanguard, Dabi, wasn’t too convinced by my sudden compliance to League’s ideals, but he seems convinced now”.
Natsuo purses his lips, heart hammering. No need to get paranoid so far. Hawks has to play it up for his superiors, right?
“Good” Natsuo flinches at Endeavor’s curt tone. Even when receiving good news he manages to sound displeased. It always tripped Natsuo up more than anything. “Anything else we should be aware of?”.
Hawks launches into an explanation. Natsuo tunes it out halfway. He isn’t interested in the League’s plans, but he can hear the amount of detail Hawks is providing. That’s not a ploy to cover his ass.
That’s just straight-up double-crossing.
He opens the door and slams it as loud as possible. He’s heard enough.
“Oh, Natsuo” Endeavor looks at him surprised. “You’re early”.
“Yeah” he looks right at Hawks. “The traffic wasn’t as bad as I thought”.
Hawks’ face shutters closed. Natsuo is sure he’s doing the same.
“On second thought” he grits out. “I don’t think I can do it today. I’m not feeling too hot. I’ll go”.
Endeavor frowns. “Alright. Feel better”.
Natsuo waves the useless platitude away and turns around.
Hawks doesn’t follow him.
He sees the hero two days later, when he shows up on his porch, very much in perfect health.
Natsuo stares at him for a long moment. He then moves out of the way to let him in.
“Are you okay now?” Hawks asks, all pleasant.
Natsuo narrows his eyes. “Cut the shit” he folds his arms over his chest. “When exactly was I supposed to learn you’re double-crossing the League?”.
Hawks shrugs. “Preferably never”.
Natsuo scoffs. “You really are the fakest of them all. Pity that your supervisor doesn’t give a shit about whoever you think you’re protecting”.
Hawks tilts his head. “I know Dabi has a grudge against Endeavor. Why would you have one?”.
Natsuo grins, all teeth and malice. A trick of the light turns his eyes bright blue for a second.
“You asked me why do I hate heroes. Are you ready to hear my answer?”.
Hawks purses his lips. “I’ll listen to whatever you tell me”.
“But will you believe it?” Natsuo arches his eyebrow.
“Just as I thought” Natsuo scoffs. “Tell me, Hawks” he glares the hero down, frost spreading beneath his feet, “how am I supposed to believe in heroes when the one living in my house made me regret every second of being born?”.
Hawks inhales sharply.
“How am I supposed to believe the myth of Endeavor when I watched him burn my brother alive? How am I supposed to trust heroes to protect me when the one they claim is the best of them ruined half of my life? I’m still picking up the pieces of everything he broke in me”.
Hawks clenches his fists.
“You wanna know how I feel about heroes?” Natsuo grins, strained at the corners. Like his face is about to break open, revealing rows and rows of teeth made of jagged ice. “Every day I wish Stain gutted my father like a fucking pig. Because he doesn’t deserve to die like a man”.
Frost spreads across the floor locking Hawks in place.
“You know, I thought you might’ve been the one to figure it out” he looks at Hawks, all traces of passion forgotten, leaving behind nothing but the emptiness in his grey gaze. “I thought that after everything the Commission put you through, you’d understand”.
Hawks narrows his eyes, torn between anger and panic. His wings flex restlessly.
“I know what grooming looks like” Natsuo cocks his head, gaze unnervingly steady. “I saw Endeavor put my brothers through something worse than hell to make them accomplish what he never could. He never managed to indoctrinate them with his convictions, though” he smirks. “Seems like he should compare notes with the Commission”.
Natsuo shakes his head and sighs. “Fucking shame, Pidgeotto. I really thought you could’ve been something more than the Commission made you be”.
“That how it will be now?” Hawks twirls a feather between his fingers. “You’re gonna tell Dabi what you just heard?”.
“Why? You think just because you didn’t rat me out I’ll grant you the same courtesy?”.
Hawks sighs. “I didn’t want it to escalate to this point. You have to believe me”.
“Don’t have to believe nothing” Natsuo raises his eyebrows. “You don’t seem eager to stop working for a man who murdered my brother. I don’t see how you plan to turn it around”.
The frost recedes. Natsuo looks at him and softens for a second.
“Fucking shame, Pidgeotto” he sighs, lips creased with regret. “You kiss like a dream. I would’ve let you save me. Now Dabi has to pick up the slack”.
“You wanna know how we met?” Natsuo baits “Ask him about Touya”.
He takes a step towards Hawks then another one, until the shorter man is backed against the door. He cages the hero between himself and the door, rising to his full height. Hawks feels ice climb up his legs and the tips of his wings but doesn’t dare to take his eyes away from Natsuo’s. They blaze with a frigid kind of anger, fitting for an ice wielder.
There’s a lethal kind of beauty in a snowstorm and Hawks feels glad to stand right in the middle of it.
“You betrayed me” he whispers, glacial breath washing over Hawks’ lips, coating them in a faint sheen of frost. “Was this what you wanted from the beginning? When you said you thought about kissing me, was that what you pictured?”.
Hawks exhales shakily. “No. Never”. He brushes his lips over Natsuo’s jaw. “Kissing you was everything I never thought I’d get to have”.
“You can still have it” Natsuo whispers, pained. “It’s not too late”.
Hawks closes his eyes, and when they open, all Natsuo can see is pain and conviction.
“I see. You’ve made your choice”.
Hawks raises his hands and guides Natsuo’s face even closer, until their lips are barely an inch apart.
“I’m sorry. I never wanted to cause you pain”.
“It doesn’t matter. You’re not the first one to do so”.
Natsuo lets him guide their lips together. Hawks wants to remember this. Wants to remember the only good thing in his life, before he ruined it.
They break apart slowly.
“Leave” Natsuo steps back, making the ice recede. “I’m not going to stop Dabi if he decides to kill you once he knows what you did”.
Hawks smiles bitterly. “Your loyalty to Dabi is admirable, but it will doom you. You think he will save you?”.
Natsuo smiles back, teeth on display. “He will. My brother can be the hero my father failed to be”.
Hawks opens the front door and launches himself into the sky. The last thing he sees is Natsuo pulling his phone out, the white glow of the screen illuminating a blank look in his eyes.
“You were right. He’ll ask about Touya. Do whatever you want”.
Dabi smiles grimly and puts his phone back in his pocket, and watches Hawks descent from the sky like an angel of death.
“What did I say about causing Natsu trouble, huh?” he shoots a gust of fire at the hero the moment he hits the ground. “You had to go and fuck it up”.
“Who is Touya?” Hawks asks, dispersing the fire with a powerful bat of his wings. “What does he have to do with how you and Natsuo know each other?”.
Dabi grins, teeth and poison. “How many Todoroki kids are there, mister hero?”.
“Three. Cut the shit” Hawks glares.
“Used to be four though” Dabi chuckles. “Until Endeavor went and set his oldest son on fire. Right in front of Natsuo”.
Hawks feels his stomach drop.
“Kid was burned beyond recognition. Needed skin grafts and shit. Didn’t have enough of undamaged surface to cover it all” Dabi shrugs and lets his palm ignite pale blue where they hang at his sides. “Went and stapled himself together as best as he could” Dabi’s grin grows the more blood drains from Hawks’ face.
He walks up to the hero slowly, leisurely, the thick soles of his boots the only thing making noise in the quiet stillness of the rooftop. He towers over Hawks, just a little more than Natsuo.
“It’s easier to pretend you never had a kid at all than take responsibility for almost killing him, ain’t it?”.
Hawks stares open-mouthed. “You-”.
Dabi’s eyes crinkle at the corners like he’s not a dead man walking. “Me”.
Suddenly every pointed look Natsuo gave him falls into place. He curses.
It’s so easy to see the similarities now. Between Dabi and Endeavor, but mostly between Dabi and Natsuo. They’re of similar stature, near-identical height. The smile is what stops Hawks’ heart dead. The same curve of the corners of their lips.
The same feral glee when they reveal the ace in their sleeve.
“Mhm,” Dabi rocks on his heels gleefully. “That’s who you work for, hero. Now, I know Natsu gave you a choice. The fact that you’re here means you chose wrong”. He stretches his arms over his head and shakes out his wrists. “So let’s settle it quickly. Thanks to you I have to comfort a heartbroken brother tonight”.
The fight ends quicker than Hawks expected. He saw Dabi fight before, but he’s never seen this level of viciousness.
He finds himself pinned to the ground with Dabi clutching his wings in his hands, one foot in the middle of his back and the other on the side of his head, pressing him to the pavement.
“I should kill you,” he says matter-of-factly. “Natsu wouldn’t care. But there’s something else I can do”.
Hawks sees his palms go blue and then searing pain floods his wings. He screams, writhing and squirming.
“See how much you’re worth to the Commission like that” Dabi drawls, but Hawks can’t focus on anything other than the pain shooting up and down his spine and the stench of burned feathers.
Natsuo doesn’t flinch at the sound of his front door creaking open.
“Oh, kid” Dabi murmurs, scooping Natsuo into a side hug, letting the younger man curl into him for comfort.
“I should be used to it by now” Natsuo mutters matter-of-factly. “They’re all the same”.
Dabi cards his hand through Natsuo’s hair.
Later, when Dabi managed to drag Natsuo to bed and soothed away another fit of anger, Natsuo stirs for just a moment.
“Did you kill him?”.
Dabi looks down at Natsuo, but the younger man still has his eyes closed.
“But I might’ve as well had” he murmurs. “He won’t be taking to the skies any time soon”.
Natsuo chuckles. “Dramatic”.
Dabi grins. “You’re the one to talk”.
Natsuo falls asleep comforted. He wakes up, shakes off residual aches and pains, and moves on. It’s what he’s always done. Today is not different.
He walks into the living room and sees a single red feather on the floor. He picks it up and twirls it between his fingers, watching how it reflects light.
He walks up to the stove and turns on a burner.
Hawks stands in front of the Commission. His wings are gone. There might not be a way to regrow them.
“You said they trusted you. What changed?”.
“I don’t know”.
Endeavor raises his eyebrow. “You told me Dabi was warming up to you”.
Hawks stares at the man who burned his son alive.
He thinks of grey eyes, cold lips, long legs around his waist. Snow on his face, ice on his tongue. Gentle hands, rosy flush, toothy smirks.
He thinks of the dull pulsating ache between his ribs that has nothing to do with the burning pain between his shoulder blades Dabi left him as a parting gift.
“He doesn’t trust fake heroes” is what he settles on. “And I’m the fakest of them all”.
Being away from Natsuo is just another ache he’ll have to learn to live with.