"Dabi, look out!"
He was shoved aside, anger (not concern) flooding him as the beam of light hit the hero rather than him. Hawks's entire body shuddered and seized before he collapsed, eyes shut, eerily still.
Dabi turned on the recruit, who was trying to flee, and in seconds there was nothing but ash. Movement in the distance caught his eye and he realized that apparently, this fucker was smarter than the others because he'd brought backup.
He took off after him, both to exact revenge and to try and figure out what the fucker had done to his...whatever the hell Hawks was. Ally? Friend? Pest that he only put up with because he could wear out Twice and Toga? It didn't matter. Either way, he would get vengeance for him. It was only common curtesy.
...or that was the plan, if the fucker didn't actually manage to outrun him.
Steam leaked from every inch of skin, flooding from gaps between his staples and making them itch. Fuck. He hadn't even seen the fucker's face, so tracking him down later would be damn near impossible. For now, he supposed he should check on the hero.
Only when he got back, the hero was gone, with only his clothes remaining.
"Fuck!" he hissed, kicking a can into the air and incinerating it before it touched the ground once more. Fucking hell, he was disintegrated?! Hawks didn't deserve that! No one deserved that! Not to mention how the League would react when they learned that Dabi couldn't keep one of theirs safe.
Not even his favorite of them--
Movement from the puddle of clothes stopped that dangerous train of thought. At first, it was so slight it could have been the wind, but soon, something was floundering under the heavy Kevlar of Hawks's hero suit. Dabi moved closer, curious but cautious, and reached down to uncover it.
Blue eyes met gold, as they had many times before, but this time, those golden eyes were inside a tiny fucking skeleton.
Dabi leapt back with what he would never admit was a screech, flames licking up his arms in alarm as he backed away. He heard a small thump that indicated the skeleton's head hit the pavement, and again it started to wiggle around under Hawks's clothes. A moment or two passed before Dabi snapped out of it to reach down and uncover the thing fully.
It wasn't a skeleton, he realized, but it may as well have been. The tiny child was more bone than skin, naked and shaking and surely, if there was any mercy in this world, about to die. It was littered in bruises and burn marks under layers of dirt, and its face was so swollen one of its eyes was forced shut and the other was barely open. He almost couldn't see the black markings around his eyes through all the damage. Tiny, choppy red wings sprouted from its back and they twitched to try and cover its body, but their weight was too much for its weak little back.
It stared up at him, devoid of emotion, shivering ever so slightly in the cold. Dabi stared back, because what the fuck else was he supposed to do.
"...Hawks?" he tried, but the kid didn't respond. Slowly he walked over and lifted it up. Or him, he quickly learned. Right. Naked. He'd need to clothe him. Or leave him. But he imagined what Twice would say if he found out and immediately wrote that option off. Twice was annoying when mad and he wasn't game for a week long lecture followed by the loudest silent treatment known to man.
So Dabi wrapped the child up in Hawks's fluffy coat, quickly gathered the rest of his uniform (because if this was Hawks he didn't want to hear about losing his clothes later) and started back to base. The kid was still in his arms, stiff but unmoving, and so light that the fucking hero uniform outweighed him by a few pounds at least. No wonder he hadn't been able to escape it.
"So I'm guessing that fucker had a deaging quirk of some kind," he sighed, wishing he had a free hand because he really needed a fucking cigarette. "and I'm guessing it's not just your body but your mind too, because there's no way you'd be this quiet if you remembered anything. So I guess I'll introduce myself. I'm Dabi. What is your name, since you clearly don't go by Hawks yet?"
Those expressionless eyes didn't leave his face and fuck was Hawks a creepy kid. He didn't answer either, just stared. Dabi, of course, remembered his name, remembered their time together before Dabi was born, but it felt wrong to just use it. And it wasn't like he'd known Keigo when he was this tiny anyways, so it would freak him out if he knew it. How old was Keigo right now, anyways? He'd always been small for his age, and it wasn't like Dabi was the best judge of kids' ages anyways.
A loud gurgling noise caught his attention and Keigo's face tensed in pain for a moment before returning to his neutrality. "Bet you're hungry, huh, kiddo? How about this: you tell me your name, and I get you a big bucket of KFC for dinner tonight?"
His tiny brown head (fucking kid needed a bath) with way too much hair tilted ever so slightly before he quickly righted it and his misshapen little talons started to fiddle with the fluff of the jacket momentarily before they too froze. Hmm. Did he think he wasn't allowed to move? "Do you understand what I said?" he asked and the boy ever so slightly bobbed his head, feathers stiffening against his hand. "Then answer me."
He continued to stare, still silent, but completely took Dabi off guard when tears started trickling down his impassive face. He'd never seen a child cry without moving their face at all before. It was...unnerving. Hawks was unnerving like this. At least he made a noise at long last, a little, shuddering gasp for air followed by a series of violent, dry coughs he aimed into the collar of the jacket. One little arm moved up to his head and Dabi recognized a defensive position when he saw one. "Wait, fuck, shit, I'm not fucking mad, kid."
The kid didn't lower his arm. Hmm. He supposed that made sense. Why would he trust someone he'd just met, after all? It was clear he hadn't been treated well, when he was treated at all. He adjusted his grip on the uniform (shit, it was heavier than he realized; Hawks must be stupid fucking fast without it) and dug around the pockets of his jacket. He nearly smirked when he felt the plastic baggie he'd packed before he'd left; Hawks was too fast for his own good and that often meant not stopping for proper meals, so he'd made a point of sneaking snacks into his pockets when he worked with him. Kurogiri had made yakitori, so Dabi snagged some of it to feed their informant.
"Hey, calm down, I'm not going to hurt you. Here, peace offering," he said, handing the little baggie of marinated chicken. Before he could process it, the bag was snatched away and the child was chewing on the plastic. "Wait, fuck, you gotta open it." He reached to take it and the boy let out a distressed clicking noise. His little face had changed, at least; his pupils were so blown out his eyes appeared black, his little fangs bared to...intimidate him? Show him that no one was brushing his teeth? Reveal that his canines were all missing?
"Calm it, birdie. Plastic is bad for you. I'm just gonna open it," he promised and reached for the top of the bag and cracked it open. The smell of tare sauce and green onion floated into the air and Dabi felt a drop of the kid's drool hit his arm. Another desperate chirp rumbled from his chest and he stuffed a tiny hand (wait, why were his fingers crooked?) to snag a piece of meat. He'd taken the meat from the skewers before packing them, so the kid didn't have to worry about getting poked with bamboo as he stuffed bite after bite into his tiny little mouth.
"See, not so bad, huh? I'm not gonna hurt you," Dabi sighed as the (possibly) toddler gobbled down his meal so fast he prepared to do the Heimlich on him. Once it was empty, he tried to push his head in the baggie to lick up the remaining seasoning, but Dabi pushed it inside out so choking was less of a hazard. Once it was clean, he tried again: "Feel like talking yet?"
His head snapped up, meeting Dabi's eye with uncertainty and terror, and when he opened his mouth, another chirp popped out of him. He slapped a dirty hand over his mouth and a wing and his other arm rose in defense.
"Still not gonna hurt ya," he groaned, growing more and more annoyed. This was Hawks, right? What were the odds that an unrelated child with red wings would materialize right where the number two hero disappeared? But this kid was so fucking quiet, it was off-putting. He never thought he'd miss the chatty bird blathering away but here he fucking was. "Whatever. Can you talk?"
The child started to shake his head, then switched to an almost nod, then simply wrapped himself in his wings as if that would make Dabi and his question disappear. One small hand latched to a pencil thin forearm and Dabi sighed as he realized he was stress gripping himself. "Doesn't matter. You can clearly listen, and that's more important anyways. Just need something to call you. Can I give you a nickname?"
His pathetic little wings were so thin and flakey he could see Hawks nod through them. His other hand was starting to squeeze his jaw a little too hard, so Dabi moved his hand just close enough that he triggered the raptor's instincts on his own fingers. It was so pathetically weak he could probably break free if he tried. A far cry from adult Hawks's grip, which had broken his wrist once or twice. "How about I call you Hiyoko?"
"Baby bird" may be a bit direct, but it got the job done. He couldn't call him Keigo, not if the League was going to copy him, and calling him Hawks felt wrong. The child, Hiyoko, nodded again but no longer made eye contact. He was tensed and braced for pain, teeth rattling as he shivered and shook. Dabi shifted the kid closer to his chest and let his quirk ignite just enough to warm the baby. Hiyoko snuggled closer on instinct, then bristled and shuffled away. "No, it's okay, I'm trying to keep you warm, that was on purpose."
He finally made it back to base, an apartment complex that was nice enough and big enough to fit them all while also being just run down and slimy enough not to ask questions. They owned the top and second to top floor, and since the elevator hadn't worked since before most of them were born, Dabi had a bit of time to think about what he was going to say to his teammates about the current problem. Kurogiri had some childcare experience, what with raising Shiggy...that didn't inspire confidence. Twice and Toga adored Hawks but he doubted either would be gentle enough to assist with actually taking care of him. They could do a clothes run, though, and Twice would probably surrender a blanket or two. Spinner was a general jackass and the boss man himself was out of the question. Maybe Compress could help? He seemed like he could manage a small child without killing it.
First things first, though: he wasn't bringing the kid to the League this freaked out. He was already so thin and frail and the panic could kill Hiyoko on the spot. It could wait until after a bath, another meal, and a long, long nap. Fuck, maybe he could tell everyone while he was sleeping. Snap a picture or two and show them what they were dealing with before they pounced on him. So, rather than stopping on the lower of their floors, he headed right for his room on the second.
His place wasn't fancy. Unlike most of the League, he didn't have any need to make it his own, so mostly there was just the basics he needed. A bed, a kitchenette, a laundry basket for his clean clothes and one for the dirty ones, and a couple of newspaper clippings he found relevant to his own personal revenge. Hiyoko's eyes locked on said clippings with interest but he quickly refocused on Dabi once more, his grip tightening fractionally. Right. He'd have to calm him down before a bath.
"Okay, kiddo," he started, tossing the hero uniform into the dirty laundry and sitting criss cross on his bed, "I'm going to need you to let go. I know you can't control it, I'm not mad, but I need you to try and calm down. I'm going to help so that we can get this done faster. Understand?" Hiyoko stared at him and nodded slowly, eyes narrowing in suspicion and that fine quiver returning.
He situated the child in his lap, brought his free hand to those bitty wings, and began to preen them. It was a more delicate process than usual, since most of the feathers were ready to snap in half, but just like with older Hawks, it did the trick. Hiyoko's muscles slowly uncoiled and he let out a shuddering coo, leaning more heavily against Dabi's stomach, eyes closing in pure relaxation. His grip loosened too, but Dabi made sure not to pull away until the hands fell into his lap independently. A small trail of blood oozed from the baby's forearm. He'd have to handle those talons.
"Good little bird," he whispered as he gathered him up again and pulled Hawks's jacket away. Hiyoko shivered and tried to cuddle more, which he allowed after he slipped off his own coat. "Now, before we can nap, we've got to clean you up. After a nice, warm bath, I'm gonna get you some more of that chicken like you had earlier and then we'll lay down for a nap. Sound good, Hiyoko?" The kid barely bobbed his head, and gripped his tattered white tee loosely. Dabi quickly made his way to the bathroom and ran the water, testing it with his fingers to ensure it wouldn't cook the nugget before he slid him in.
Hiyoko jolted awake again, letting out a squawk of alarm, before becoming absolutely entranced with the water surrounding him. He looked at Dabi with astonishment and pointed like somehow that would explain anything, so Dabi simply nodded. "Yeah, a bath. You've had baths before, right? Need help with washing or you got this?" Hiyoko didn't answer, cuz fuck forbid he actually communicate, but proved himself unable when he started rubbing his leg roughly without bothering with soap. Tiny talons almost nicked him several times.
"All rightie, I'll help you," he announced and grabbed his bar of soap and lathered his hands. Hiyoko tensed when he reached for him again, only to quickly relax when he began to wash his arms. What had he been expecting him to do?
Well, he got his answer as he scrubbed the layers and layers of filth away. Cigarette burns all over, finger shaped bruises dotting his limbs and marring his throat, scars and gashes Keigo had attributed to training when Touya had asked years ago, and that wasn't to mention just how starved he was. Kids should have chubby cheeks, but Hiyoko's were sunken in. His ribs jutted out and his belly was concave, and his little arms and legs were sticks without definition. The lack of fat showed just how many of those bones were broken too, and fuck, there were a lot. He was gentle, but Hiyoko still bristled when he moved over them.
The bathtub had to be drained three times over the course of the bath, but finally, the chicklet was clean. Brown hair was blonde once more, with tiny red feathers woven into his crest that he hadn't noticed until washing them (and adult Hawks and preteen Keigo definitely didn't have) wings a more brilliant red, and those little markings contrasted sharply with his sallow skin. Hiyoko was again half asleep when Dabi scooped him up into a towel and dried him off and he was a little pleased when he nuzzled into his chest.
"Good birdie," he whispered into his damp, feathery hair as he plucked him up and moved him to the main room. "Feeling a bit better now that we're clean?"
Hiyoko bobbed his head and cooed, which snapped him from his loopy state. Instantly he was tense again, wide-eyed and fearful, both hands clapping over his mouth. Dabi had to force himself to stay calm because fuck, kid would panic more if he tensed up too.
"It's okay, I like your little bird noises," he said and gently tugged the hands away from his face. "You can chirp and trill and whatever the fuck else you want and I won't do jack shit about it. Won't let anyone else either."
He ran his fingers through his feathers again and they fluffed up before drooping in relaxation. Hiyoko let out a rumbly chirrup before he could stop himself but quickly snapped his focus back to Dabi, who simply chuckled at just how fucking cute it was. Dabi wasn't prepared for those skeptical eyes to suddenly flood with tears, nor was he ready for the bird to stuff his face into his stomach and wrap all of his limbs around him.
Now, Dabi was a lot of things. He was a murderer, an arsonist, a thief, a liar...but he wasn't heartless enough to not hug him back, to not rub his bony spine as he cried soundlessly into his shirt. Memories of Touya's mother inspired the hushing noises Dabi made, not to silence but to soothe, spurred him to lift the child so he could bury his face in his neck and Dabi could bounce him in his arms. While he'd wanted to feed him again before he slept, he figured it could wait, because when the kid went slack with sleep, there was no way he could wake him.
He settled Hiyoko into bed, swaddling him in the towel, his jacket, Hawks's jacket, and his tattered blanket and still worrying he'd get cold. Cold just didn't bother Dabi, with his ice-ready body and fire quirk, so he never bothered with cozy blankets like the others, but looking down at Hiyoko he knew he'd need to. Once he was situated, he pulled out his phone and snapped a picture of his sleeping face. Even though he didn't want to, he crept out of the room, closing and locking the door.
Time to face the League.
- - -
Himiko was bored, which, honestly, was irresponsible of her cohorts. A bored Himiko was a dangerous Himiko, and they all knew that.
Her fifth dramatic sigh was also ignored as she draped herself over the couch between Shigaraki and Spinner, both of whom were locked in an especially competitive round of Mario Kart. Twice had been arguing with himself over something no one else could keep track of for at least an hour, and Compress and Kurogiri were at the bar chatting over drinks. Himiko wanted to scream; she'd scrolled through TikTok and Instagram so long there wasn't anything good left, sharpened all of her knives, had done and redone her hair over and over, hell, she'd even cleaned her room and now there was nothing!
At least, not until Dabi came in, for once not wearing that stupid awesome jacket, and announced, "I need you all to shut the fuck up and listen, cuz I'm only saying this once."
"What makes you think you're allowed to make announcements?" Shigaraki grumbled, not taking his eyes off the screen. Spinner paused their game, though, and that broke his focus. "Hey!"
"What is it, Dabi?" Kurogiri asked, moving across the room to place a misty hand on Shigaraki's shoulder. Instantly his rage died down, which Himiko always found funny. How could one touch always calm him down? Her parents didn't have that power. Maybe it was a secondary quirk from All for One?
"It's about Hawks," Dabi sighed, pulling a cigarette from his pocket. Both Compress and Kurogiri glared, though, so with a groan he put it back away. "We were out recruiting and Hawks got hit by a quirk. He's not hurt, per say, but...fuck, just take a look." He held up his phone for them all to see. Himiko, being the shortest of them, had to push and elbow her way closer to see what was on it, but when she did, she squealed in delight.
"Is that Hawksie!?" she gasped. The picture was of a sleeping toddler with fluffy golden hair and baby feathers, little taloned fingers peaking curled just under his chin, his mouth slightly agape. Honestly, she wouldn't have recognized him if it weren't for the markings around his eyes that she had been convinced was makeup up until now, because she was sure no baby could pull off. Hell, she was seventeen and she couldn't get it right. She owed Hawks an apology; when she'd asked for his help and he said he didn't know how, she'd assumed he was lying and stabbed his arm.
"Yeah, I'm pretty sure it's him, but he doesn't remember anything and he has a lotta needs," Dabi continued, but cut himself off when Kurogiri plucked his phone from his hand for a closer look. "Hey!"
"This boy is far too thin," he murmured, zooming in on his hand. "and his fingers seem to be broken. Based on how flushed he is, I wouldn't be surprised if he had a fever...where is he now, Dabi?"
"Aww, Giri-chan is going Mama Hen. Why should we care? This seems like Hawks's problem," Twice piped up. Compress leaned over to look at the picture too before turning back to Dabi. "What does he need?"
Dabi snatched his phone back and pocketed it quickly. "He's naked, for starters, so clothes would be nice. I don't know how long he's gonna be like this, but he can't run around naked. And yeah, he's starving and really beaten up, so medical help would be great. Toga, gimme some of your blankets, I only have the one and it's fucking thin."
"Only if I get to play with him," she insisted, because if previous experience taught her anything, it was that Dabi was a selfish jerk who wouldn't share his toys. He hadn't shared Hawks until recently, and even then, he didn't let her go with them on missions.
Case in point, he glared and turned to the others. "He'll need blankets, then. I don't wanna leave him alone for long, since he's so beat up, so I'm cashing in a favor to whoever. How much yakitori do we have left?"
"I polished it off this morning," Spinner explained unapologetically, and Kurogiri shook his head. "With how starved he is, there's a good chance food like that will upset his stomach. He needs something easy to break down. I can make chicken broth for him when he wakes."
"Why do we have to take care of him?" Shigaraki hissed. "Can't we just drop him off at the Commission and let them handle it?"
Something in Dabi darkened like it did when someone brought up Endeavor. "No. We're not sending him there. No one's asking you to help, so fuck off."
"Food, clothes, blankets, toys...what else will our hatchling require?" Compress asked and Himiko realized he was making a list on his phone like she'd taught him. Good. He'd forgotten plenty while relying on his "perfect" memory before, it was about time he made grocery lists like every other normal person.
"Make sure its a plush toy without buttons," Kurogiri requested as he moved to the bar and grabbed a package of apple juice pouches. "We don't want him choking on anything. How old is he precisely? He may require pull ups. Pacifiers wouldn't be remiss either."
"I'm not sure. He won't talk," Dabi responded, and that caused the crowd to pause. Hawks, as they knew him, was always talking, even if no one responded. He could be serious, sure, but most of the time he was chattering away, cracking jokes and telling stories. How was it possible that a younger version of him had more restraint?
"He is terrified, and he won't talk. He's chirped a couple times, but keeps flinching like I'm gonna beat him for it. It's fucked," Dabi continued and ran a hand through his hair. "He doesn't go by Hawks yet and since I can't get him to talk to tell me his name, I'm calling him Hiyoko for now. Shut up, Twice, I know it's not creative, but I had to call him something and I was on the spot. Anyways, he's fucking overwhelmed so we're not gonna all barge in on him at once, and none of you fuckers are gonna meet him unless I'm there."
"How come you get to be in charge? Shiggy, shouldn't you get the bird?" Himiko tried, because knowing the boss, he would take control, get annoyed, and toss the kid to them and she wouldn't be so bored anymore.
"I don't want the bird!" Shigaraki squawked and disappointed her once again. Seriously, he was so controlling sometimes, but now that it would serve her, he didn't care.
"I agree with Dabi. He's very small right now, and we don't want to stress him more than he already is," Kurogiri said, but he rubbed her back to appease her and dammit it worked because her own mom had never been so gentle and he knew it. "Perhaps once he's bandaged and fed, we can introduce our more exuberant members. Toga, would you please assist Compress in shopping? Also, add Pediasure to the list. They are vitamin drinks for children."
"Isn't that shit just dolled up sugar water?" Dabi challenged and crossed his arms. Himiko wondered how he knew that.
"Yes, but sugars and fats aren't going to hurt him if he's as thin as you say," Kurogiri answered but Dabi shook his head.
"Just regular milk is good, then. He'll like his calories to come from food. If we wanna spoil him, get some chocolate syrup for it. Oh, and melonpans. He loves those things."
"Great idea! How do you know he likes melonpan?" Twice piped and Jin asked. Dabi didn't answer but instead spun on his heel and headed to the door.
"He's sleeping in my room right now. Kurogiri, you can come with me, but keep your voice down and no sudden movements. Compress, text me when you have his shit." He left, shadowed by Kurogiri, and Compress squeezed her shoulder.
Well, shopping was something to do, at least.
- - -
"Git outta 'ere, worffless lil shit!" she screamed, and even though he tried to be fast, tried to be good, the heel of the shoe still hit his back hard and sent him sprawling. Her new friend didn't notice him fall over or his squawk of pain, but Mama sure did and she wasn't happy. "Wha werez dat noise!?"
He got back to his feet quickly and scrambled for the window again, but despite wanting him gone, she grabbed him by his wings and yanked him so hard he stopped breathing for a minute. Gold eyes met yellow and before he could read whatever emotion lied within them a hard hand slapped his cheek so hard the world turned black for a couple of seconds.
"Er ya a bird er a man?!" she shrieked and honestly, he was neither but there was no way to communicate that. He felt his talons twitching and knew a stress grip was coming, but with Mama holding him he wouldn't have anything to grab but himself and that hurt. He didn't want to hurt more than he had to.
Apparently that wasn't in the cards for him as Mama shook him by the wings and he couldn't stop the warble from spilling out of his mouth and making her even more mad. Three more blows came faster than he could track but that made sense since he was so hungry and everything was faster when he was hungry.
She let out a shriek of frustration and threw him across the room and luckily he spun so his head took the hit rather than his tender, tender wings. Animalistic noises of her own made his feathers stand on end as her friend joined in and he crawled to the closet and closed the door before they noticed him again and tried to--
Keigo's eyes snapped open and he tried to jolt upright, but was held down by something soft and warm and constricting. He fought and struggled to free himself and the moment he did he hurried to hide in the closet because Mama's friends never bothered him if he was in the closet. It was an unspoken rule that if he was in the closet, he was being good, and if he was good, they didn't need to punish him. His heart raced and his body trembled against the cold, but he didn't dare grab anything to cover himself up with. Where was his shirt? Mama let him have one, and sure, it was smelly and dirty and the holes he'd cut into it weren't quite right so it pulled on his wings, but it was huge and he could hide in until the shaking stopped.
As he tried to calm down, it suddenly hit him that this wasn't Mama's closet. Some things were hung up, firstly, and they smelled strongly of cigarettes and leather and something from the outside he didn't know the name of. Maybe one of Mama's friends was using the closet? Some of them did stay for awhile.
But then he started to remember the weird man with the shiny-sharp things and purple skin and suddenly he had new questions. Who was he? Why did he take him home? He was sure he'd said his name, but Keigo was too scattered to really pay attention. Was he going to do those yucky, painful things Mama's friends kept wanting to do? He'd escaped every time, but it was a close call each time and Mama never liked it that he didn't want to. He was already naked, plus the weird man had cleaned him up and left him in bed. Bed is where the bad things happened.
His breathing picked up as he peeked out of the closet because if that's what he wanted then Keigo was running. Sure, the food he'd shared was super extra yummy and he was promised more if he was good, but he didn't want it if it meant doing that. He'd seen Mama bleed when she did it and she sometimes couldn't walk for days.
He spotted a window, but it was too high up and Keigo knew he didn't have the strength to open it. It looked heavier than the one back home and it took a long time to push it open. He could try the front door, but he was bare and running around without clothes invited more bad men and women and he was too dizzy to outrun a group. His tummy twisted with nausea but he knew better than to throw up, because then he'd have to eat it and eating food never tasted as good the second time.
Before he could make a choice, he heard the familiar tumbling sound of a lock being undone and the doorknob jiggled around and oh no he'd waited too long and now he was back! He'd been playing nice, but some of Mama's friends did that, and they were usually the more dangerous ones.
And oh no, he didn't come alone, he brought a friend. He was going to share Keigo, but Keigo wasn't a girl like Mama, so he had no idea what they were going to do with two of them. He moved to hide behind the only thing he could without tugging clothes down from their hangers, a pair of boots with holes in the toes and heels, and stuffed his fist in his mouth to keep from making any noise. No one liked it when he made noise. Noise was bad.
"Shit, Hiyoko? Hiyoko, where'd you fuckin' go?" the shiny man called and every feather straightened and sharpened in anticipation. Two pairs of footsteps wandered around the apartment and Keigo wished he could just disappear.
His heart stopped and his breathing cut when the closet door opened and a man made of darkness loomed over him. Sharp yellow eyes stared him down and suddenly the queasiness was too much and Keigo vomited all over the floor.
Instantly tears rushed to his eyes too fast to stop them and he let out a screech as he tried to scramble backwards and away from the man, wings and arms coming up to protect him as much as they could. His feathers vibrated as more shrieks popped painfully from his lungs and he was shaking so hard his teeth rattled in his skull. He didn't hear the shiny man come over but he heard his voice saying something Keigo knew he should listen to but couldn't.
A gentle hand brushed his hair from his face, stopping to scratch gently at his scalp where his extra feathers grew and wow did that feel so, so good. Keigo stopped his screaming after just a second or two of it; even his feathers drooped in exhausted relaxation and he actually heard not one but two voices and their words.
"Shit, fuck, is he okay? What the fuck happened?"
"Poor child is having a panic attack, Dabi. Please grab the blanket and towel from your bed. You take him to lay down and I'll clean this up."
"You're...oddly calm about this, Kurogiri. Don't tell me Shiggy--"
"We shall not speak of our boss's past unless we are willing to discuss your own. Now, do as I said."
Dabi, the shiny man's name was Dabi, he remembered now, and that meant shadow man must be Kurogiri. The hand left his hair and suddenly he was being picked up. Fear spiked through him again but before he could do anything about it, he was in the crook of Kurogiri's arm and his other hand was itching his head again and he couldn't bring himself to fight.
"Hey, you take him to lay down, I'll get this," Dabi offered and the hand stopped a second time just long enough to wrap him up in a thin, grey blanket. He knew better than to fall asleep with so many threats in the room, but just like after the bath, his eyelids felt so heavy and those fingers felt so good and the adrenaline was leaving way too fast for him to keep up. He yawned and forced himself to look up and meet Kurogiri's eyes once more.
They were yellow, yes, but not sharp and angry like Mama's. Kurogiri's eyes reminded him of flowers that grew in the cracks of the concrete that that girl taught him to weave into crowns, or the light that shone through some of the bottles Mama left around their apartment that he collected in his treasure box. Maybe...this man didn't want to hurt him? To test, he quietly, carefully chittered at him, covering his mouth right after. Kurogiri didn't have a mouth, but his eyes softened even more and he held him closer to his heart.
"It's all right now, little one. You're safe," he whispered and for some reason, Keigo actually believed him. "Take a nap. I'll be here when you wake up."
The fingers rubbed the top of his head again and Keigo let himself slip away.
- - -
"He asleep again?" Dabi asked as he wiped up the vomit with the towel, tossing it in with his dirty laundry. Animal. Kurogiri made a mental note to clean it properly once Hawks was settled.
"Yes, he's asleep. His reaction to being found is concerning, though with this amount of damage, its hardly surprising." Kurogiri kept Hawks against his chest but rather than laying down, he moved to Dabi's kitchenette and fished out a kettle. "When you're finished there, please run downstairs and grab the cubes of bouillon from the main kitchen and a large bowl."
Dabi nodded and left and suddenly, Kurogiri was all alone with a sleeping, wounded little boy. It wasn't his first time, no, but while Tenko had his share of bruises and neglect, it wasn't anywhere to this extent. Kotaro hadn't been a good father, but he hadn't let his children starve. He shared his habit of hiding, though, and seemed to favor the closet as Tenko had.
No matter. He'd managed to help Tenko shed his skin and grow into the considerably louder, less fearful Tomura so surely he could help this Hiyoko morph back into Hawks. Besides, there was something calming about holding a sleeping child. If nothing else, this was good for his own mental health.
Though it seemed he wasn't the only beneficiary, as Hiyoko snuggled closer and rested against his breast. Hot baby breath mingled with the dark fog that covered his physical body and he hadn't felt so content since Tomura stopped letting him rock him to sleep. Little chirps and coos kept burbling from the child as he filled the kettle and put it on the stove to boil.
Dabi needed more furniture, he realized as he settled onto the edge of his bed. No couch, no table, nothing to sit on but the bed and somehow that felt like an invasion of privacy. Then again, despite their pyromaniac claiming he preferred to be alone, he was hardly in his bedroom. Hell, he was sure Dabi had spent more nights sleeping on the couch then he had on the thin mattress.
All of the League was that way, he supposed; each member was a damaged, lost soul desperate for connection while adamantly denying said need. Even his own Tomura never missed a game night, engaged in every silly debate, even joined in their large sleepovers in the living room when they occurred. He supposed it made sense that none of them were particularly well-adjusted, since well-adjusted people didn't need to change the way society functioned. He knew of Tomura's past, of course, Toga and Twice's as well, even Spinner opened up after a long night of drinking. Sako-kun had, but just to him, while the others slept on top of one another like a litter of pups, and had sworn him to secrecy. The only two members he knew very little about were Dabi and Hawks.
Or, well, he was in the dark about Hawks, but this was putting a few pieces together for him. He hadn't heard Hawks make the noises he was making now, nor had he seen that Hawks apparently had talons on his hands and feet. He couldn't actually remember ever seeing his bare hands period, which sent up a few red flags. He knew Hawks wasn't one for physical contact, though he attributed that to mistrust of them specifically, but this made him question it. How long had Hawks lived like this? It was rather heartbreaking. People needed other people.
Looking more closely at the boy, he messaged Sako-kun with the medical supplies they would need, including little splints for his tiny fingers and, based on the flush of his cheeks, some child's fever reducers. Some cuddly toys wouldn't be remiss, and maybe a few plastic ones for more active play. Then again, with how painfully skinny he was, he doubted he would be moving much at all. He had a very comfortable armchair he wouldn't mind lending Dabi, as well as his small personal television he used to converse with All for One before his arrest for some easy, movement-free entertainment.
Dabi returned with a folding chair, a tv tray, a neon green bowl, and the box of bouillon. Kurogiri rose to help, but Dabi shrugged him off. "How's Hiyoko doing?"
"Hasn't stirred," he answered and scratched down the baby's wings, earning a chittery noise that made his chest ache with endearment. "He will need to eat soon, though, especially since he was sick, so we will have to wake him."
"I can take him," Dabi offered and reached for the bundle, but Kurogiri didn't surrender him.
"I promised I'd be here when he wakes, and I want him to trust my word. Trust will be key if we are going to be raising him," Kurogiri explained as he opened two cubes and dropped them into the bowl. Dabi grabbed a slightly bent spoon from a drawer and it rested with the bouillon.
"Who said anything about raising him?" Dabi hissed as he straightened up his apartment, hanging up his and Hawks's jackets and picking up his laundry basket. "We give the quirk a week to wear off, then we track down the son of a bitch who did this and make him reverse it. All we are doing is keeping him alive."
"And if this is permanent?" Kurogiri asked. The pot began to whistle and Hiyoko winced in his sleep. Kurogiri poured the hot water into the bowl and began to stir the soup.
"Then, fuck, I dunno, but we can't raise a fucking kid, Kurogiri. We're the fucking League of Villains."
"True, but if this is permanent, Hawks canno--"
"Hiyoko cannot be expected to survive on his own. He will need a caretaker, and you didn't seem to like the idea of leaving him with the heroes."
Dabi snarled and muttered something under his breath, setting up the table and pulling a package of butter cookies. "For dessert," he explained at Kurogiri's skeptical expression.
Hiyoko shifted in Kurogiri's arms, scrubbing at his eyes as he slowly came to. He bristled when he realized he was being held, but quickly relaxed when Kurogiri looked down at him. While adults struggled to read his face, children never seemed to have such problems; Tomura always knew when he was smiling too, even if his true face was hidden. He made a questioning little chirring noise and Kurogiri sat him upright.
"Good morning, little one. We were just getting your lunch ready," he greeted and showed him the bowl. "It's very hot right now, so if you'd like, you can sleep for another few minutes."
Hiyoko shook his head and smacked his lips. Dabi suddenly returned to his side and took the bundle of babe from his arms. Kurogiri hadn't noticed him grab and open a juice box, but he had and was now offering the straw to the little bird. His pupils dilated and he latched onto it, guzzling it down as fast as he could. Dabi pulled it back and Hiyoko whimpered. "You can have it, but slow down. Don't want you getting sick again."
He obeyed and drank more slowly and Dabi didn't pull it away again. Gold eyes locked on blue, wide and searching, and Dabi easily held the contact. "Did you sleep okay? Why were you in the closet when I got back?"
The child didn't speak, didn't try, and Kurogiri was beginning to worry he couldn't speak at all. Tomura hadn't spoken for a month or two after they'd met, and while the two of them had found work-arounds, Hiyoko wouldn't just be with him. No, he'd have the whole noisy League around him, most of whom wouldn't be willing to piece together what he needed of them. Twice wouldn't have the attention span, Toga the empathy, Tomura the patience...Spinner might be all right at it, if he wasn't cranky, and he could teach Sako-san, but would either of them notice him in a loud environment?
Dabi grabbed the soup and sat down, scooping out a spoonful and blowing on it before offering it to the chick. "Slow bites, and lemme know if it's still too hot. Since you won't talk, squeeze my hand, okay?" Hiyoko nodded shyly and Kurogiri was impressed with the compromise, though perhaps he shouldn't be. It was possible Dabi'd been a traumatic mute as a child, after all, and he was clearly being uncharacteristically gentle with Hiyoko.
The baby slurped each bite of soup eagerly, only slowing when Dabi reminded him to pace himself. Kurogiri brought them another juice box and it was guzzled down too. By the time the bowl was empty, Hiyoko had a tiny pouch of belly on him and a dreamy look on his little face. It wasn't good that they could see the food settling in his stomach, but it was better than being skin and bones.
"Got any room left for a cookie? Squeeze twice for yes, three times for no," he asked but opened the cookies one handed regardless and broke off a bite for him. Hiyoko tilted his head to an almost unnatural angle and squeezed his arm two times, opening his mouth rather than reaching for it. He seemed quite comfortable being hand fed, even though Kurogiri didn't believe he needed it. Then again, with those damaged fingers, it made sense...but he was squeezing his arm? And he'd held the juice box? He remembered seeing a mother bird feed its babies and made a note to research more about avian care. His little eyes became shiny as the taste hit his tongue and he chirped in delight.
Dabi fed him half of a cookie before stopping, in spite of Hiyoko's little whines for more. "Don't wanna overstuff you, kiddo. You're not a turkey, and it'll make you sick to your stomach again. Let's find something else to do while you digest it." He looked around his room and suddenly realized, as Kurogiri had earlier, there wasn't anywhere to sit with the child or anything for him to do. Kurogiri was quick to rise.
"I have a few things in my room I would happily donate to Hiyoko-kun," he announced. "I shall fetch them. Be good, little one, I will be right back." He didn't notice the anxious crease between those feathery eyebrows, but he reached over to rub his head and it morphed into a dopey expression and a happy chirp.
"It's okay, Dabi will stay with you, and I will be back very quickly," he promised. Hiyoko nodded and pressed himself closer to the villain and pawed at his shirt. He shut the door behind him and hurried to grab everything he could to make this place more child friendly.
- - -
Compress fiddled with the marbles in his pocket, careful not to use too much pressure and open the groceries in his pocket. Perhaps a package of pocky wouldn't be so bad, but he was sure that the crib Toga had insisted upon would be a little less fun. He still wasn't sure a crib was needed, the child in the picture seemed a little too old for it, but considering pull ups were on the list it wasn't too far outside the realm of possibility. He was positive no child needed as many stuffed animals as they'd gotten, though.
He was glad to get back though, and especially glad that Toga removed her quirk disguise because it was so weird seeing an overweight, balding businessman squealing over cute plushies and ogling every cute teenager they passed. Everyone in the base dutifully looked away as she pulled her school uniform back on and spun around on Compress.
"Okay, I did the shopping, so I get to see the baby, right?" she begged for what had to have been the hundredth time. He pinched the bridge of his nose and exhaled sharply.
"While I do believe you'd be a great playmate for the lad, Dabi would surely disagree. We may be criminals, but even we can respect the universal law of dibs," he explained again, hoping the new wording would click at long last. Toga still seemed upset, but Twice perked up and threw in his four cents.
"Of course we respect dibs! What are we, animals?" Twice agreed, mask crinkling in the way it did when he smiled. "Nah, dibs is for children, and this is way too serious for it," Jin huffed, crossing his arms and rolling his eyes under said mask. It was interesting to watch them on a bad day, when both names were to be used and neither could keep their mouth shut. Only Toga had ever managed to avoid calling one side the wrong name, and thus she was far and away both sides' favorites. Twice, who was apparently fifteen, even wanted to marry her, though luckily Jin, who was his biological age of thirty one, didn't let Twice go too far with his little crush.
"Besides, who'd want to deal with some whiny little brat?" Spinner asked from the kitchen, rooting around in the cupboards for some snack or other. "Anyone seen the butter cookies? I swear I just got some..."
"But it's baby Hawksie, guys," Toga clarified, "he's such a little goodie-goodie I bet he'd lemme dress him up in all the cute dresses we got him! And with that long hair, I could braid it, or put it in buns like mine, ooo, or maybe pigtails..."
"He's not a toy," the boss snarled, but kept his eyes on whatever game he was playing now. It was a one player game, thank goodness, since he and Spinner were about ready to go for one another's throats when they'd left. "but I'm sure Dabi will get bored of him eventually and you can do what you want."
Compress frowned under his mask; even if Dabi did get bored with childcare, he doubted Kurogiri would let the tot get swept up in Toga's whims. She didn't necessarily have malicious intentions, but she often weighed others' needs below her own flighty wishes and would probably treat the child poorly on her own. Plus, while the others may not have noticed, Compress remembered how stiff adult Hawks had become when Toga'd eaten a bird in front of him. He wouldn't subject a child to that.
Speaking of Kurogiri, the man entered the main space and moved to the League's DVD collection and Compress snapped to attention. "Hello! We come bearing gifts!"
"Thank you very much," Kurogiri answered as he plucked several animated flicks from the stand, reading the backs and putting some back. Once he had a decent assortment, he turned to face him directly. "Please follow me, and remember, he is very fragile right now."
"When do I get to meet him?" Toga demanded and Kurogiri reached over to pat her head. It always amazed him how such a simple act quelled all of the younger member's tantrums so effortlessly. How each one seemed to crave it.
"He is too frightened to meet many new people right now, Toga," he told her as he continued to pet her, "but as soon as he is able, I will introduce you. You will have to be calm, though, and give him plenty of space and choices. Whoever he lived with before was not kind and he needs us to be very patient."
"Can he talk?" the boss inquired and that was a strange question, because surely a child that size could at least somewhat? However, he was apparently worse at guessing ages than he'd thought because Kurogiri shook his head. "See, I told you he'd need a crib!" Toga cheered and again Kurogiri disagreed.
"He is not an infant but is rather...temporarily mute. He understands every word we've spoken and can follow directions given, and perhaps after he becomes accustomed to us he will have the confidence to speak for himself. The pull ups may not be needed either, but considering how neglected he has been, they cannot hurt."
With one final tussle of Toga's hair, Kurogiri headed out, gesturing for Compress to follow. He heard Toga huff but she quickly settled in with Twice to play announcer over Shigaraki's shoulder. He heard them laughing and the boss shouting as he walked away.
"Let me enter first," Kurogiri requested. "He may possibly be asleep, and if so, then you'll have to wait until he wakes. We don't want to scare him."
"He's with Dabi," Compress reminded him, raising an eyebrow despite knowing the other couldn't see through his masks. "I'm sure the child is tougher than you give him credit for."
"Actually, Dabi has been quite gentle with him. He seems to have a natural knack with children, or perhaps some prior experience," Kurogiri corrected and knocked on the door to his room. Compress then realized it would be his first time in Dabi's private quarters and wasn't that strange, since he was sure he'd been in everyone else's? There was a pause before Dabi called, "C'm'in."
Kurogiri gestured for him to wait as he entered, and from what he could see before the door closed the elder's living room set was now in Dabi's room which was odd. Did Dabi not have anything of his own? He did seem like a minimalist...
Compress stood outside for another fifteen minutes before the door opened again, and despite the forced cheeriness of his voice Compress picked up on his friend's stress. "Mr. Compress, the amazing magician! Our little friend is ready to meet you now!"
Based on the trembling blanket burrito in Dabi's arms, though, it was clear that their little friend was not ready to meet him. Dabi kept his arms wrapped around him securely and whispered something into his covered hair that Compress would have paid good money to hear because somehow he doubted it would match Dabi's reputation.
"Hiyoko-kun, this is Compress-chan. Can you look at him and wave hello?" Kurogiri requested as he started to pet the blanket's back. If it weren't Kurogiri and Dabi showing him, he would think there was no child and this was all some elaborate prank because the lump didn't make a single sound, not even breathing.
"Or we could just have Compress-chan drop the shit he brought him and get the fuck out," Dabi hissed at Kurogiri, but quickly regretted it as he softened once more and turned his attention back to the little one. "But I heard he brought a lot of cool things just for you, so maybe you want to meet him?"
Kurogiri tried to take him but Dabi stepped back. "He's stress gripping. Don't tug on him."
"Stress gripping?" Compress asked and both of his cohorts shot their attention to him like they'd forgotten he was in the room. Well, that wouldn't do. He was a performer, after all; fading into the background wasn't his style. Before Dabi could clarify, he stepped closer and into the child's field of vision before producing three shiny marbles.
He'd seen the picture, but somehow, even though he was technically seeing less of him, the damage looked far more grisly in person. Only one honey eye could fully open, his mouth hung open to reveal too many missing teeth, his skin was so thin he could see the outline of his skull, and his talons were as jagged and broken as his fingers themselves. He was glad for the mask hiding his face because he was certain he couldn't hide his disgust.
"Hello, little Hiyoko!" he greeted in his performer voice, but that caused the kid to flinch and bury his face into Dabi's neck and his fingers to tighten around his shirt. Kurogiri shot him a look, but it paled in comparison to the homicidal rage Dabi leveled him with. He dropped his voice an octive or two. "I heard you've been a good little boy for Dabi-san and Kurogiri-san, so I decided you deserved a little show."
Rather than back at Compress, like he wanted, Hiyoko looked up at Dabi with the biggest, most heartbroken eyes he'd ever seen. Dabi shook his head and leaned in closer to his face. "No, this wasn't the show we were gonna watch, this sprung up on me too, but it's okay. You might like it, and I won't let him touch you, and after, we can watch the show I was planning on."
"Most children enjoy magic shows," Compress pointed out, more than slightly insulted. He was far cooler than whatever meme-inspired films the League owned, thank you very much. The tiny head looked up at Dabi, then Kurogiri, back to Dabi for a considerable time, then finally met Compress once more. A small, fractured wing pulled up from the blankets to cover the more wounded half of his face.
With the proper amount of attention on him, Compress began to juggle the marbles, stepping back to make bigger and bigger loops as he slipped more of them into the routine. Haw--Hiyoko watched them with circle the air, little mouth hanging open with awe as he tried to piece together where they were all coming from. "Pick a marble, any marble!" he crowed, and all that fascination went away with the volume and Dabi's glare returned. Crap.
Kurogiri was his saving grace, as he pointed to one of the spinning balls and whispered, "Let's pick that one" to the little boy, who bobbed his head in response. Instantly he made the other marbles "disappear" and held out the chosen one, letting Hiyoko examine it up close.
"It appears to be a normal marble, yes?" he asked, and while his tone kept its jovial flare, his volume didn't rise above a whisper. Hiyoko nodded again and leaned away from it like it was a bomb. "Now, marbles are fun, but what if I told you that this marble was going to be your new best friend?" He didn't react at all, no wonder, no astonishment, just bone quaking terror.
"Well, my boy, on the count of three, this simple marble will show us its true form!" Usually, he would demand that the audience count with him, loudly, but it was clear that wasn't going to happen, which was fine. It meant they were listening to only him. "One...two...three!"
He triggered squeezed the wrist with marble to trigger a puff of smoke, simultaneously squeezing the marble with enough pressure to release the black cat plush from it. The child flinched back at the sound but kept his eyes on his hand, which sparkled when he saw the stuffed toy. Toga said it was from some famous animated movie about a young witch who worked for a bakery, so maybe he recognized it?
"Hey, its Gigi," Dabi whispered to the boy. "Do you want Gigi? Compress-chan brought him here just for you."
The blanket fell back (at last) from his little tawny head as it tilted, attention back to Dabi. They stared at one another until Dabi figured out the child's silent message. "Oh, shit, do you know who Gigi is? Have you seen Kiki's Delivery Service?" A small, disappointed shake of his head, one that highlighted those little bitty red feathers. Kurogiri flipped through the movies he'd brought and, lucky, produced a box with a little girl flying on a broomstick, surrounded by seagulls, that same black cat perched on her bag.
"Perhaps we could watch it?" he offered and the child's face lit up for a moment before falling again as he looked back at Compress. Dabi seemed to catch on and adjusted his grip on the boy so he had a free hand, which reached out and snatched the toy.
"This is yours," he told him and, since the boy still hadn't let go, pressed the toy gently between them. "He can watch with us. Maybe Compress-san could too, if you don't mind?"
Hiyoko's jaw dropped again, this time dumbfounded rather than entertained, and Compress understood Kurogiri's early comment about the importance of choices. Hiyoko slowly looked from adult to adult skeptically, tucking his head under Dabi's chin when he looked at Compress again, and debated. After a painfully long time, he nodded and Compress was genuinely touched.
"Thank you very much for allowing me to join you, Hiyoko-kun," he said with a dramatic bow. "I will be quiet as a mouse, for I too have not seen this particular flick."
"You haven't?" Dabi questioned and moved to take the one good seat in the room. "It's been out forever. No way you're so old you haven't seen it?"
"Dabi," Kurogiri lectured, and again his magic with the younger generation rivaled Compress's own because the arsonist had the decency to look apologetic for a fraction of a second. Kurogiri opened a portal and his loveseat slid in front of the television a good distance away from the armchair. Compress quickly took one side of it and Kurogiri took the other.
The movie started and immediately Compress realized this film was not for more mature audiences. The better show was watching Hiyoko's reactions. When the little girl, Kiki, shot into the air for the first time, Hiyoko gasped and his little wings flared and he bounced to his unsteady feet. When she soared through the air with her cat, Hiyoko tilted along with her, like he was flying too. He settled down into the gap of Dabi's lap when she settled for bed, but was completely confused when the cow licked her feet and she woke up laughing. He was quickly engaged again when she took back off, though, so it didn't matter long.
He was just as engaged the entire movie, his new doll clutched to his chest once he finally released Dabi. It ended eventually, and while he couldn't name a single thing that happened past the beginning, he was sure Hiyoko could retell every scene if he would only speak. Well, maybe he wouldn't talk, but maybe he could teach the boy a little something about showsmanship. Pantomime was a fine way to act.
"Did you like it?" Kurogiri asked, reaching over to pet his head. Hiyoko warbled happily before suddenly tensing and looking to Compress. Dabi scooped him up and subtly put himself between him and the chick. Rude.
"I think you did, since you couldn't sit still the whole time. Who knew you had so much energy?" he teased and when he rose Hiyoko lost his grip on his doll. Dabi caught it before it hit the ground and handed it back.
"Who was your favorite character?" Compress asked and for a moment the boy looked ready to answer before remembering he was the new guy and getting shy again. Dabi nudged him gently and gestured.
"He hasn't done shit so far, so don't worry about him. Just tell him who your favorite was. Or...shit, try and show em."
The child was still nervous, but with Dabi holding him, he found the confidence to detach his feathers to create a fake bow in his hair and hold out his Gigi doll. "Kiki and Gigi?" Dabi guessed and Hiyoko nodded enthusiastically.
"Did you ste--find any other shit from that movie for Hiyoto?" Dabi asked and readjusted the blanket wrapped around the boy's waist. "Like maybe some underpants or a tee shirt?"
"Well, why don't we look?" he offered exuberantly and tossed a handful of marbles to the ground. When they landed they exploded into dozens of toys, books, clothes, blankets, packaged foods (oops) and Hiyoko's eyes widened in shock. He almost squirmed in Dabi's grasp but quickly settled back down, looking up for permission and approval, and Dabi groaned and sat criss cross in front of it all.
"Go ahead, nugget. It's all yours," he permitted and the little boy crawled to explore. Kurogiri moved to the kitchenette and Compress chose to follow him, since after all, he couldn't outshine the stars in that child's eyes.
- - -
Keigo had never seen so many toys in his entire life! He was thrilled with his new Gigi, and he still was, but now he had all of this too?! What was it all? Would Mama let him keep it? She usually sold things people gave him, except his Endeavor, because no one wanted a smelly old Endeavor, but now he had all these amazing things! Were they really all his? Was this a joke? Grown ups did like to play jokes on him, but Dabi-san and Kurogiri-san hadn't so far and he didn't think they would let Compress-chan. Dabi-san didn't even let him yell, which was so nice of him because yelling hurt his feathers extra bad and reminded him too much of Mama.
"Well? See anything good?" Dabi-san asked as Keigo searched through the goods. The first thing he found was a package of bundled cloth in five different colors: red, blue, green, orange, and yellow. He spun around and crawled back to show it off and find out what it was, and Dabi-san opened it up for him like that baggie of chicken from before. He unrolled the cloth and oh, it was underwear! Mama never bought him underwear, said he'd outgrow it before it paid itself off.
"Let's put some on, all right, chicken butt? Which color do you like?" he asked. Keigo thought really, really hard. After all, he got a whole pair of underwear all to himself, so he had to pick the best color. Red was nice, like his wings, but also Pop's wings and that made it bad. Green was boring, and yellow was too much like Mama's eyes, so that left blue or orange. Blue for Endeavor's costume, orange for his flames...he looked up at Dabi-san and his decision was made.
Blue had more good things than orange.
Dabi-san's eyes were blue, after all.
Dabi-san helped him pull them on, and while they were really loose, he loved them all the same and went back to find more treasures. A soft blanket caught his attention next, covered with images of foods he'd never tried, and then there was a stuffed chicken with big funny eyes. A weird thing called a bandana ended up wrapped around his forehead, and Dabi-san put the rocket ship shirt on him the minute he brought it back and wow it had wing holes. A pair of pink overalls were cast aside, and he was thankful, because they looked like they'd be hard to wiggle out of, but the black jeans ended up on and pinned with little wooden clasps so they'd stop falling down. He practically had a stuffed zoo of animals and he worried he didn't know enough names for them all, but he'd work on it so that each one felt special, and wow, there were so many clothes and there was no way they could all be for him could they?
Honestly, Keigo couldn't figure out these people, because they were so nice even when Keigo was bad. Mama hated his chirping, he wasn't allowed to sleep all day, and he'd even made a big, yucky mess and none of them punished him even a little or make him eat the food back up. They scratched his itchy wings and not in the mean way some of Mama's friends did. In the nice way, like Pop did when he was bottled and found Keigo cute rather than disgusting.
"You happy, little guy?" he asked and Keigo grabbed a couple more blankets before plopping into the middle of his lap. It was so nice, enclosed, safe...Keigo wanted to take another nap on him, and he somehow doubted he would mind. Dabi-san was like bottled Pop all the time except he didn't get mad and scream at anyone.
Or hadn't so far. He couldn't be too careful.
"Guess that's a lot to go through at once, huh? You've earned a break," Dabi-san chuckled and oh he was scratching the spot between his wings and Keigo was in heaven. He cooed and again, Dabi-san didn't get mad but laughed and not in a teasing way, but like he liked the noise. Mama didn't like the noise. She didn't like most of what Keigo did, really, so he tried not to do much. Dabi-san and Kurogiri-san didn't seem to think that way...and since they gave him pants, they clearly didn't want to do what Mama's friends did with her.
It was so warm in Dabi-san's lap, and safer than he'd ever felt before, but he even though his body wanted yet another nap, his brain warned him not to. What if they were like Pop and, when morning came, they didn't like him anymore?
Pop was gone now, taken away by Endeavor because of all the things he took that weren't his, but Keigo still remembered how hard it was to track his mood. Pop would come home bottled and it was so nice; he would crow and coo and chirp with Keigo and when Keigo would answer his eyes would light up and he would bring him in close and wrap his soft wings around them both and sometimes preen Keigo's wings until they both fell asleep. If Mama tried to grab him or be mean, Pop would tell her to "bad word" off and she never tried again if Pop was there. Then, the next morning, even though he didn't do anything different, his dad would throw him off of him and his talons would scratch Keigo's arms if he tried to get back in his lap and he would hiss about how disgusting he was and how he was why he didn't come home anymore.
He'd fallen asleep twice, but then, he wasn't hero enough to fight it. He was now, so he would, because he wanted to soak up every second of niceness he could.
Dabi-san covered him up with another blanket over his body and that made it even warmer so Keigo wiggled a little to make sure he didn't doze off. Dabi-san kept on petting him and even started singing, but when Keigo looked up his mouth was still closed so was it really singing? He looked so fond of Keigo that really, he didn't know what to do because no one had ever liked him so much before.
"So...I wanna know what you're thinking," Dabi-san requested, and it made Keigo scared because he didn't know if he could answer him, even now. He wanted to, but... "Enough of that face, I'm not mad, I just wanna find a solution. Can you read or write?" He shook his head and felt stupid. Most other kids his age could at least a little but Mama didn't enroll him in school like everyone else.
"That's okay. Don't worry about it. We just need a system. Like the squeezing from earlier, remember? Twice for yes, three times for no? But with your fingers all broken that can't be comfy, so we need something else." His hand moved from Keigo's wings to the feathers in his hair. "Your wings aren't in good shape either, so I don't want to make you use your feathers..."
Dabi-san kept thinking, but Keigo came up with a way to say yes or no that wouldn't hurt so bad. Grown ups usually didn't like his input (he hadn't spoken in so long he knew that for a fact), but Dabi-san was trying, so he decided to risk making him mad. He wiggled his foot from under him, since Mama didn't usually hurt his feet, and stamped on the ground twice. Dabi-san noticed and smirked.
"Okay, good thinking, nugget," he praised and Keigo's soul felt warm and fluffy. Dabi-san was so nice. He had to find a way to say thank you before Mama came and got him.
"If you're hungry," he continued, "do this." Dabi-san ran his hand over his belly in a circle, over and over, and Keigo mimicked him. "Good. Now, if you get thirsty, do this." He ran two of his fingers down his throat, starting right under his chin and going to the pokey bones where his neck stopped. Keigo copied once more and Dabi-san, and again for his signs for cold, scared, want, and confusion. Keigo memorized them all, even though he knew he'd never use them, because after all, his Mama always told him to take care of himself and he didn't want to make Dabi-san do anything.
"Okay, I think that's...wait, are you potty trained?" he asked, and Keigo's wings puffed in annoyance because of course he was potty trained. Mama didn't let him make messes, and even if he had another scary dream and was bad, he knew how to clean up after himself so that no grown up would get mad. "Then I guess we'll need one for that too. Tap your wings to your booty and I'll take you to the bathroom."
Again, he nodded, but had extra super no plan to do that. Most bathrooms didn't have ways to try and get away if a grown up got mad. When Mama got mad in there he couldn't get away fast enough. He wasn't giving anyone else the chance.
...but he'd let Dabi-san give him a bath...
It didn't matter. He wouldn't be that dumb again. He was a smart boy, even if Mama and Pop and everyone else said he wasn't. All Might said on one of his tv shows that the smart thing is learning from your mistakes, so he'd do that and not let anyone in with him again.
"You look a little sleepy. Wanna take a nap?" Dabi-san offered and Keigo shook his head. Dabi-san didn't look like he believed him (which made Keigo's heart race because what if he got mad!?) but before he could say anything, Kurogiri-san and Compress-chan came back. Kurogiri-san bent down to meet his eye and again Keigo was amazed how he and Mama had the same color of eyes but Kurogiri-san's were somehow nicer.
"I see you've begun to dig through it all. I like your clothes. Do you like rocket ships?" Kurogiri-san asked, and Keigo nodded, even though he didn't really care about rocket ships one way or the other. He'd seen them on tv a couple of times, that was all. He held out his chicken (he'd named it Hiyoko in his head, not that the grown ups would ever know that) for Kurogiri-san to look at because he was his second favorite to Gigi and he'd already seen Gigi. Compress-chan reached into the pile to pluck out a frilly lavander dress that Keigo moved out of the way in his exploration because that surely wasn't for him.
"Why was that in his things?" Dabi-san asked, lifting the pink overalls from earlier. "Some of this seems a little...girlie. He doesn't like it." How did Dabi-san know that? Was he a mind reader?
"Toga-chan was rather...insistent we get him some things for when they meet," Compress-chan explained and Hawks chewed his lip. Who was Toga-chan? Why did she want him to be a girl?
Dabi-san's face seemed scarier but it relaxed when he looked down at Keigo. "You don't have to do anything that little psycho tells you. Okay?"
Keigo nodded, even though he didn't know who Toga-chan was and would probably do what he was told regardless because people were mean when he didn't listen. His wings moved to wrap around his shoulders and he flinched when one rubbed one of his burns.
That caught Kurogiri-san's attention. "Hiyoko-kun, we need to treat your injuries," he said, and Keigo tilted his head curiously, because what was an "injury?" He scooted closer to Dabi-san when Compress-chan came closer and Dabi-san bared his teeth to make the other go away. It was so cool, but Keigo knew better than to do that again. Pop ripped out his teeth last time he did.
"We're gonna make your owies go away," Dabi-san clarified when he caught Keigo staring. "Good job using the sign."
Oh. Right. The sign for being confused was tilting his head. That was silly, because his head did that all on its own. Keigo felt guilty that Dabi-san said he'd done good when he hadn't even thought about it. Kurogiri-san's face lit up in interest.
"You two came up with signs? That's very good. Hiyoko-kun, would you mind teaching me them?" he requested. Keigo heart raced. He knew something a grown up didn't? He had to teach him? That never happened! What if he was bad at it? What if Kurogiri-san didn't understand? What if he got mad that Keigo wasn't a good teacher? His fingers started to ache with the need to grip and that wasn't good--
"Sure, he can, and I'm right here if he forgets one. Go ahead, nugget," Dabi-san answered for him and gave him a gentle nudge. Keigo scanned his face to make sure this wasn't any kind of trick, but Dabi-san smiled warmly and that settled him down just enough that he wasn't going to grip. Slowly, Keigo ran his flat palm over his tummy in small circles, then pretended to hold something big in his hands and take a bite, trying to see if Kurogiri-san understood.
"So that means hungry," he confirmed, and Dabi-san itched his head again and he cooed. "Good birdie. Keep going."
Keigo ran his fingers down his neck and pretended to drink, and Kurogiri got it right again. He hugged himself and ran his hands up and down his arms for cold, covered his face for scared, pointed then curled his pointy finger for want, and tilted his head for confused. He tapped his butt with his wings when prompted and turned bright red when Dabi-san had to explain it to the other grown ups.
"That's precious! I shall let the other League members know before they meet our little mime," Compress-chan declared in a big, loud voice that made Keigo flinch and curl up into Dabi-san. Dabi-san was so warm, and if Keigo listened really close, he could hear his heart beating. It was calming, and even though he didn't know why, he liked it.
"Fucking volume," Dabi-san reminded in a scary voice, and even though the arm that wrapped around Keigo was gentle, it pressed a little too hard on his tummy bones and Keigo couldn't hold back the loud screech of pain and his vision whited out for a second. Dabi-san froze and loosened immediately. "Fuck, shit, kid, fuck, did I hurt you?"
"Is it his ribs?" Kurogiri-san asked and reached down for him while Keigo tried to catch his breath. Compress-chan was on his feet and stepping around them strangely, like he didn't know what to do with himself. "Come on; we've cleared your counter to work on. We've got to patch up your injur...owies." His voice was soft and sweet and Keigo let him pick him off of Dabi-san's lap. Kurogiri-san was colder than Dabi-san, and he couldn't hear his heart no matter how hard he listened, but he was still nice to cuddle with.
The counters were covered in plastic, there were bottles and rolls of cloth (more underwear?), tubes, and other things he didn't recognize at all. He was sat down on the counter and ordered to raise his hands over his head, which was really disappointing for two reasons. Firstly, it hurt to get his arms that high and second, it meant the clothes really weren't his. Sure enough, Kurogiri-san took his shirt off, then his pants, and grabbed one of the rolls and a couple of stiff sticks. The cloth was weird and stuck to itself as he unrolled it.
"Dabi, please come hold his hand in place. Hiyoko-kun, this might hurt a little, so please tap your feet if it does and I can try and be more gentle," Kurogiri-san ordered and instantly he was worried. They were going to hurt him? Why? What had he done wrong?
Dabi-san pet his head to get his attention. "Don't worry, chickadee, we don't want to hurt you. We want to make your owies stop hurting, but that means touching them and that's probably going to hurt. If he hurts you too bad, we'll stop. Compress, did you get kiddie pain medicine?"
Compress-chan nodded and tossed him an orange box with some fruits on it. Dabi-san read the writing on it, opened it, and grabbed a weird empty tube that came with it. He opened the bottle of reddish-pink stuff and stuck the tube inside, and to Keigo's amazement, the tube sucked it up. Dabi-san held it out to him and told him to "Open up. This is gonna make it hurt less but will taste like crap."
Keigo listened and the tube was stuck into his mouth. Dabi-san squeezed the black end and he was right, it was gross, but Keigo'd had much, much worse. He swallowed it all up and Dabi-san handed him a juice right after, which tasted much nicer. "Now, remember, tell us if it's too much. We're all here to help, birdie."
Kurogiri-san took his hand back and stuck the sticks between his fingers, then pressed them flat and Keigo shrieked and tried to pull back. He was overpowered by the grown ups, of course, and Kurogiri-san used that sticky cloth to wrap them together. He tried not to, he tried, but he couldn't stop himself from crying. Dabi-san shushed him like he did when he'd cried when he said he could make his stupid bad noises and even though it shouldn't have it made it hurt just a little less. Once each finger was bound, he wrapped his entire hand up and Keigo realized he couldn't move it.
"I'm so sorry," Kurogiri-san murmured and ran a hand along his head, "I'm sorry, little one, but we have to fix your little fingers. I know it hurts; you've been so brave."
"Can we take a break before we do the next one?" Dabi-san asked. Kurogiri-san sighed.
"I'd like to get this over with quickly rather than draw it out. The longer we wait, the longer it hurts, and if we do it all now it will be less painful in the long run. Hiyoko-kun, can you keep going?"
Keigo trembled and pushed himself into Dabi-san. He didn't want to. He wanted to cry and run and curl up somewhere small and soft with Gigi and cry and cry and cry. But Kurogiri-san wanted him to, and he didn't want him to hate him, so slowly, he held out his other shaky hand. He moved to stuff his bound hand in his mouth to stop him from making a noise, but Dabi-san stopped him.
"No, don't hurt yourself worse," he scolded and Keigo whimpered. "Hang on, Kuro. Lemme just..." He rushed back to where he and Keigo were before and grabbed a couple of things, including Gigi, a rubber toy on a rope, and the box of cookies from before. Then he plucked up Keigo and sat on the counter with him in his lap. He put the rope around his neck and stuck the rubber thing in his mouth, then wrapped him up in the blanket.
"Okay, bite down on that thing if it hurts. Gigi and I will try and make you as comfy as we can, and when we're done, you get two cookies. Compress-chan will get you as many juice boxes as you want and we can take breaks to drink them. Okay?" he offered, and Keigo was honestly touched. Mama never tried to make him feel better like this. He nodded a little, and it began again.
It wasn't just his fingers they fixed, but his ankle, the spot where his belly and his hip and his tummy bones and even his wings. He tried to stay quiet, he did, but he ended up wailing and even pulling away but none of them got mad at him. When it finally, finally ended, he was curled into a ball and shook. Dabi-san was petting his hair and saying something to Kurogiri-san that Keigo knew, knew he should be listening to but he couldn't hear around the pounding in his ears.
He felt them moving him again, every muscle in his body tensing and trying to resist, and even though he was stressed and needed to his hands couldn't curl enough to grip and that made it worse. He was laid on Dabi-san's bed and this time, he didn't feel like he needed to stay awake.
- - -
"He passed out," Dabi snarled, and when Kurogiri reached to comfort him as he would the others, Dabi reeled back. "Don't. I said we should go slower. He passed out."
"This was necessary," Kurogiri insisted as he grabbed more bandages and the burn cream. After all, even though he'd agreed to a break, he planned to finish with all of his wounds. It pained him, yes, pained him more than he'd thought it would, but if he didn't finish now he wasn't sure he would be able. If he wasn't, they'd have to call someone else, and the only person they knew was the Doctor and...well. That wasn't an option.
Dabi stormed out of the room, and truthfully, he was glad. He didn't want him waking Hiyoko, after all.
"...do you two remember that this is, indeed, Hawks you're arguing over?" Sako-kun asked once he knew Dabi was out of hearing range. Kurogiri almost snorted. Coward. He never did know how to handle the emotional outbursts of others. To be fair, Sako-kun never had any of his own. The masks he wore were only one way he hid himself from the world.
"Yes, this is Hawks, our ally," he sighed and went to Dabi's cupboards. He needed a drink. Unsurprisingly, he found a stash of booze that had gone missing from the communal bar downstairs stashed neatly in his counter drawers. "And beyond that, he is a child, and a sweet one at that. I'm not surprise Dabi has bonded with him."
"You aren't?" Sako-kun laughed as he produced another glass. Kurogiri dutifully filled it. "Dabi hasn't bonded with any of us and we've been living together for months. Not even twenty four hours and that child has him wrapped around his broken fingers."
While most adults couldn't read most of his facial expressions, all of them understood when he was angry. Sako-kun quickly backpedaled. "Okay, sorry, low blow. But you understand my meaning, yes?"
"Yes and no," he answered honestly and let his anger melt away. Mostly. He didn't pour Sako-kun's next drink nor planned to for at least a week. "Dabi is...like a cat, in his affection. He scratches and hisses, yes, but chooses to spend his time in common spaces. He attends many of our bonding sessions, and even if he doesn't play he stays in the room. He brings home things we all like and leaves them for us to find, and he fixes problems as best he can without garnering too much attention."
"Bullshit on the last two," Sako-kun challenged.
"Well, don't let him know I told you, but I caught him leaving batteries in the box where Tomura and Shuichi leave their xbox controllers," he admitted. "He claimed he was actually stealing them for himself, but they weren't there before. I know because Tomura told me to get more right before this and I hadn't yet. Also, have you noticed that he always has things we need? Whenever Toga needs a hair tie, Dabi has one. When you need something to fiddle with, Dabi has cards. Twice ripped his mask and panicked and now Dabi carries handkerchiefs like Toga does."
Sako-kun thought about it for a moment and the quiet was strange on the man. He was seldom openly reflective. "So why has he opened so quickly to Hiyoko, especially when he isn't so warm towards his elder equivalent?"
Kurogiri spared a glance for the child, still shaking in his sleep, who he really needed to finish fixing up. He set his half empty glass down and got to work rubbing the cream into the burns. "We must consider where Dabi's potential history. Perhaps Hiyoko's situation is not completely alien to him."
Two silences from Sako in one day had to be a record. He even slipped off his mask to stare more clearly at the child's face, swollen and blotchy, still wet from his tears. "...I hadn't considered that."
"We must be delicate with Hiyoko and Dabi alike," Kurogiri continued, "because we do not know for sure. Some of us are forthcoming with our pain, but others struggle through it in silence. For instance, I had no idea Hawks had suffered so."
"Wonder why he chose to be a hero," Sako spat, eyes bitter, and sat on the edge of the bed. It bounced a little, and Kurogiri had to settle his hands before continuing. "No hero bothered to save him."
"Perhaps that is not true. Perhaps a hero saved him later down the line. Besides, we know that he wants to change the world now, so it could be that he took the only route he saw as viable." He could imagine that, with how ambitious the young man was. This explained a lot about him, actually. Like how he hadn't flinched after Toga stabbed him when she'd asked him to help with her makeup, or how he would come in after an eighteen hour shift acting as if he wasn't dead on his feet.
Kurogiri wasn't going to let him get away with that anymore.
"True...but alas, I doubt he will ever tell us his origin story in its entirety." Sako-kun threw himself back too hard and was going to jostle the baby, so Kurogiri opened a portal to send him to the couch. The man made a noise not unlike Hiyoko's squawking and he found himself chuckling. "You fiend!"
"League of Villains, Sako-kun, not League of Gentlemen," he teased as he finished with the burns. Bruises were next, then he'd leave the child to his nap. It was getting late, after all. "Now, why don't you work on straightening up while I finish here? We don't want to leave Dabi a mess."
Sako groaned dramatically but set to work, starting with all of Hiyoko's new things. "He didn't even get through it all. Look, we got him a miniature version of his hero costume to wear. And I liked these silk pajamas in particular."
"Silk pajamas for a toddler?" Kurogiri questioned, but caught the garments when they were thrown. He did need sleepwear for the night, but he planned to put a pull up on him first.
"Of course. Age does not exclude one from the laws of fashion," Sako declared with a sweep of his arms. By the time he was done, Kurogiri was changing him into those pajamas and tucking a couple of the warmer blankets around him. As an afterthought, he placed Gigi in his arms.
"He does look cute in them. Now, did you happen to get a night light?" Kurogiri requested and Sako-kun grabbed one shaped like a pair of red wings.
"Hawks has a lot of merch," he explained and Kurogiri wordlessly plugged it in. After an extra moment of watching the child, he rose and left Dabi's apartment, Sako-kun on his heels. He needed a drink.
As they walked away, neither of them saw the two figures slip in behind them.
- - -
Okay, Twice wasn't an idiot. Yes, he was. No, he wasn't. Yes, he was. No, he wasn't. Yes, he was. No, he wasn't. Yes he...Okay, so Twice may be an idiot, but even he knew this was a bad idea. When Toga-chan told him she wanted to play with the bird, he'd sympathized, he really had. Hawks had promised to let her do his hair and makeup, after all, and promises counted even if you were turned into a baby. However, getting to him was made a million times harder because he was being guarded by Dabi. Dabi, who put up with no bullshit, who torched first and asked questions later. Sure, he probably wouldn't burn any of his teammates, but Twice wasn't about to put that to the test.
When they'd seen him storm out of his room for a cigarette, however, Toga-chan had seen her chance. They'd been quiet as mice, laying in wait for Kurogiri and Compress to leave, and when they did they moved fast as the hero they were after.
But now that they were in Dabi's room, Jin was hissing about how stupid Twice had been to go along with her plan. After all, the child before him clearly wasn't strong enough to move on its own, and everyone would suspect Toga-chan first and she would rat on him too.
She let out a delighted squeal, though, and Twice decided it was worth it.
"Aww, he's adorable~!" she cooed and lifted him up under the arms. Golden eyes snapped open and his unbandaged feathers stood on end and the kid let out an awful noise that made Twice cover his ears. Toga-chan made a face. "Ewww, don't do that again. Twice, grab some of those clothes! Make sure they're the cute ones!"
He hurried over to where the clothes were neatly arranged, gathering the pile of dresses and skirts someone had set to the side. He grabbed the Mary Janes and ballet slippers too, but somehow he didn't think they would fit over those ugly little feet. He also snatched up a baby bottle and a handful of the diapers just in case.
Toga-chan had Hawks cradled against her chest and was babbling at him and bouncing him when Twice was ready. The brat didn't even have the curtesy to enjoy it, when Twice himself would love being that close to Toga-chan's chest. No, he wouldn't. Yes, he would. No, he wouldn't. Yes, he would.
"Hi, sweetie! You're so cute! I'm your Auntie Himi, and that's Uncle Twice," she cooed and Twice was on Cloud Nine. "C'mon, this room is boring. Let's go play in mine!"
Twice peeked out to make sure that no one was coming before they ran across the hall to Toga's place. He was glad the kid was so quiet, but even gladder that he didn't look so horrified now. No, now he looked like a doll, which was creepy but made him feel way less guilty.
They'd set up the crib they'd stolen after Compress had tossed it into the hall and Toga-chan laid the child inside it. He fit, though not comfortably, but to be fair it was designed actual infants, not toddlers.
"Ooo, this is gonna be so much fun! I've got ribbons, and dresses, and we can give you big, kissable lips...what color?" Toga-chan asked as she pushed several lipsticks under Twice's nose. They were all varying shades of red, but still he struggled to make the choice.
Pick the darkest one. No, the lightest! Choose the one she uses the least, so she doesn't have to go get more. Pick none of them and bring him back to Dabi's room before he fucking kills us.
Twice closed his eyes and picked. She wouldn't know. He was wearing a mask.
"That's my favorite one!" she squealed and threw her arms around him. Twice reveled in it while Jin lectured him about appropriate conduct. Toga-chan grabbed Hawks again and sat him on floor, then sat across from him. "Now, Hawksie, say 'aaaah!'"
Hawks didn't make a noise, but he obediently opened his mouth. He wasn't a very expressive kid...weird. Sure, Dabi and Kurogiri said he didn't talk, but Twice kind of thought they meant...in comparison to normal? Or maybe it was just too weird to see any version of Hawks so stoic. Toga smeared the stuff around his lips, then giggled at the result. It wasn't bad, but it was clear she could have done a better job.
"Now for the blush! Twice-kun, do you wanna help?"
"Nah, I'm good just watching," he answered because for once every part of him agreed. Makeup wasn't his thing, and something about doing it to something as dead looking as baby Hawks just felt...wrong. He kind of wanted to lay the kid back down to sleep.
Toga added blush, eye liner, and eye shadow before she was done with the makeup and moved on to his hair. It was longer than Hawks normally wore it, coming down to his shoulders, so she was able to do some cute things with it. First a ponytail, then pigtails, then buns, and finally braids. She had to pluck a few of the feathers that wouldn't sit right, but Hawks didn't resist so it must be okay. Hawks didn't resist any of it, not even when she painted his freaky fingernails bubblegum pink or his even freakier toenails rainbow. He didn't fight her when she pulled his shirt over his head or his pants off his bottom, but when she did Jin couldn't help but gag.
He'd seen the commercials, the sad, sappy ones where some done-up lady plead for money while showing pictures of starved children in third world countries. He'd seen them, and while his heart twisted in sympathy, he'd always suspected they were edited to make the kids look more destitute than they really were. After all, how could something live if it was really that malnourished?
Looking at Hawks, he promised to donate ten thousand yen to the next one he saw.
That wasn't even considering how mummified Hawks was, and what wasn't mummified wasn't pleasant to look at. He could only imagine how bad it was when Dabi first brought him home.
No wonder he hadn't wanted them to see him.
Toga-chan paused too, taking it in. Hawks was still as lifeless as a rock and for a second, before he blinked, Twice was worried he'd actually died. They weren't all frozen long, though, before Toga-chan sprung back to life.
"Okay, you definitely deserve a makeover. First, though, we should check your diapy." She grabbed the hem of the pull up and Hawks actually flinched. She shot up to meet his eye, but he stared blankly at the ceiling still. "Hawksie?"
Before he could answer, a loud slam caused both Twice and Toga-chan to shriek and bounce back. Dabi stood where the door had been, and fuck he was mad. Smoke billowed from him like a chimney, small blue flames flickering across his body, teeth bared and hands clawed like some kind of mythical beast come to rip their hearts from their chests.
I told you, Jin mocked. Twice had had about enough of him.
"What the fuck are you doing!?" Dabi roared as he stomped closer. Chivalry was dead and criminals were bastards, so it was totally expected and not cowardly that Twice hid behind Toga-chan. She wasn't as scared anyways, now that she saw the threat, and started to explain.
"He's fine! We were just--"
"I told you to leave him alone!"
"You're not the boss of me! Besides, kids love dress up!"
"I'm going to fucking--"
They heard a door slam and Dabi spun around to see Hawks was gone and Toga's bathroom door was shut. The lock clicked, Dabi's attention was back on them, and Twice realized a couple of things all at once.
Firstly, fifteen was too young to die. So was thirty one, but that was Jin.
Two, Dabi smelled under all that smoke and his hair was filthy.
And lastly, he was, indeed, an idiot.
- - -
Keigo was sorry. He was sorry, he was so, so sorry, he was the sorriest sorry he'd ever sorried, he was sorry, he was sorry, he was sorry! The bathroom door wouldn't hold long; Dabi-san had kicked through the other one like it was nothing, but it was all he could think to do. He ducked behind the piping under the sink and stuffed his hand against his mouth to muffle his rapid breathing, his feathers sharpened through all of Kurogiri-san's hard work, and his ribs ached as he tried to curl up smaller so that somehow, Dabi-san wouldn't see him. He hadn't meant to be bad, honest, but he didn't know what to do and he was scared and that mean girl had the same eyes as Mama and--
Knocking brought his attention back to his right-now problem, and while he knew he needed to listen, he couldn't wrap his stupid, ugly, mistake, I wish you were never born head around what the voice was saying. He knew this only made it worse, hiding only made grown ups mad, and if he was smart, he would stop being a baby and take it like a man. Like Pop always said. Keigo wanted to be smart, but as his legs locked up and he huddled further against the back of the cupboard, he realized everyone else was probably right.
He really wasn't sure how long passed, but he heard more yelling, more screaming, then a long, long silence before the door opened. Every bone in his body stilled as he waited for the inevitable.
Heavy boots moved across the room to where the bathtub was, then behind the toilet, then finally, the cupboard opened. Dabi-san pushed aside the bottles and boxes between them and Keigo shut his eyes tight. Just because he had to feel it didn't mean he had to see it.
"Hiyoko?" Dabi-san called, but he didn't sound mad anymore. No, he sounded like he had when Keigo was stress gripping but needed to let go for the bath. He sounded like he had when he told Keigo he could make his stupid, bad little bird noises, or when he'd held him while Kurogiri-san hurt-helped him and that was confusing and scary. Was he mad then? He had to be mad now; he'd seen his face and heard his voice, there was no way he wasn't mad. Had he been mad this whole time and Keigo was just too stupid to notice?
"Baby, baby, c'mere, it's okay. I'm not mad at you. It's okay," Dabi-san tried and suddenly he felt a hand brush his leg. Keigo scrambled to get away. His feet talons got caught on something and pulled and hurt, but he stayed quiet because right now, cawing would get him killed and he didn't wanna die. Not even if Mama and Pop wanted him to.
Dabi-san sighed, Keigo heard things clatter on the bathroom tiles, then suddenly two strong hands were under his arms and pulling him out of his hiding spot. He tried, really he did, but he couldn't stop the warbling that time and that probably only made him even madder! The bright bathroom lights stung his eyes and his heart was racing so hard he felt it was going to break out of his chest and everything hurt and--
Suddenly, something big and thick and heavy fell over his head. The world went dark around him, and for a moment, he could just think. It took him a moment, but piece by piece he took in what was happening around him.
He was warm. All warm, nothing cold. His body ached, but the hands holding him didn't hurt even a little. They'd moved to under his legs and around his back, and one of them was straightening the feathers on his back. The thing over him was soft, but not soft like his blankets. It was a grown up soft, and it there were pockets inside he didn't dare explore. His ear was pressed against Dabi-san's chest and he heard his heart thumping, slow and rhythmic. He smelled cigarettes and leather and that same outdoorsy smell he'd only smelled once, back when it was cold and people were bringing needle trees into their houses for some reason and Pop had thrown him out so he'd wandered around and someone had seen him and given him his Endeavor and a cookie like the one Dabi-san gave him and slowly, his breathing slowed back down and his body relaxed and he decided that if this was it, that was okay. This was the best day of his life, so it was okay to die today.
"You back with me, pretty bird?" Dabi-san's voice rumbled his chest when he spoke but Keigo couldn't bring himself to be scared. It wasn't rumbly like a growl, so that was okay. He was lifted a little higher, still cradled carefully, and he felt someone's breath against his cheek. "You're okay, pretty bird. I've got you. It's okay."
Keigo felt Dabi-san press their foreheads together, and when he opened his eyes, all he could see was blue. Nice, soft, gentle blue, blue like pictures of the Earth on that show with the rocket ship, blue like the light on Mama's phone when someone needed her, blue like Endeavor's when he'd bent down and told Keigo his Pop wouldn't hurt him anymore.
Even though he knew he was bad, that he deserved whatever Dabi-san was going to do to him after this, he rubbed his nose into Dabi's like he'd seen a mom do to her baby one time. Dabi-san smiled and brought him to rest against his pokey neck bones.
"It's okay, it's okay," he repeated and rose and their barrier fell away. Keigo braced for lights, but apparently someone had turned them all off and Dabi-san quickly covered him back up in what was apparently his jacket. He laid his chin in the crook of Dabi-san's neck and let himself loosen, let his eyes close because it wasn't like he could see where they were going anyways and he was sleepy again.
He heard doors open and close, heard water running, then Dabi-san was wiping his face with a warm towel and freeing his hair from those painful weird sticks the lady put them in. He felt his underwear come off then back on again, along with those nice pants he'd woken up in and the matching shirt was tugged over his head before they were on the move once more.
Dabi-san laid down with Keigo on top of him. When he tried to run his fingers through his hair, though, Keigo flinched at the fresh, horrible sting. His feathers weren't so small as his hair, so when the lady yanked them out they left little gashes on his head. Dabi-san quickly realized and switched to petting his wings and that did the trick. He fell asleep within minutes
- - -
Dabi was livid. He'd asked so very little of them, literally to simply not do something they otherwise wouldn't have even fucking thought to. None of them came into his room, much less took something. Much less took someone. Keigo had been sleeping after they broke his bones back into shape and splinted them, and Toga'd broken in, stripped him, and played house. And yes, he entirely blamed Toga, because Twice was an idiot who did what he was asked because he trusted everyone blindly. That'd get him killed one day.
It had been years since he lost his shit like that, and lose his shit he did. Everyone had walked away burned, even those who had come to the rescue, and he made sure some of it would scar the brat and her lackey because they deserved it.
Fuck them. Fuck everything.
Everything but Hiyoko, who slept soundly on his chest. Hiyoko, whose hair was red with blood from where Toga had plucked his feathers, who'd sobbed and screamed and wailed for a solid two hours before he figured out how to settle him, who hid in the bathroom because he was certain that somehow he was to blame for all the shit that went down.
Hiyoko, despite being mute the entire time he'd known him, had screamed "sorry" no less than one hundred times before Dabi stopped counting.
He took a deep breath and looked down at the bird again. He was fine, he was safe, he hadn't done too much extra damage and he wasn't crying anymore. Light leaked in from the window, but the gold of the sun paled in comparison to the cherub who used him as a nest. Something warm filled him, something that couldn't burn him, something pure and sweet and good and Touya that he hadn't felt for a long, long time.
Dabi readjusted the blanket around Keigo's shoulders, laid back, and fell asleep too.
- - -
The first thing he noticed, as he came too, was that he was comfortable. It wasn't too hot, it wasn't too cold, he wasn't hunched over or upright and his cheek wasn't balanced in his palm. He was actually laying down, which, hell, he couldn't remember the last time he slept laying down.
The next thing he noticed was that he wasn't alone, and while that should have been alarming, he couldn't seem to get worked up about it. Despite his reputation as an easy lay, he'd actually never done the dirty before, and something in him told him that hadn't changed.
That something, though, was followed up by the knowledge that he was, indeed, very, very naked.
Hawks leapt from the bed with a squawk, nearly stumbling over himself and the children's toys (!?) scattered across the floor. He kept the blanket (it was covered in American breakfast foods like waffles and bacon and eggs, all with faces and who would even own this thing?!) wrapped around his waist with one hand while the other plucked his largest feather and hardened it into a weapon.
"...wh' t' fuck, birdie," a familiar voice grumbled, and again he was thrown into panic when Dabi of the League of Villains sat up on his elbow and rubbed his eyes with his fist. Hawks's mind spiraled as he tried to imagine what scenario had to take place to get him in Dabi's bed, nude, with no recollection of the last...however long it had been. Last thing he remembered, he'd tagged along with the villain to meet some LoV recruit, some guy with a camouflague quirk who'd sassed off during the interview. Dabi'd been mad, but Hawks had seen something shiny heading their way and it was aimed for the villain and--
--and now he was in his bed naked.
"Right back at'cha, what the fuck!" Hawks shouted and that got Dabi upright real fast.
"In the flesh! Little more flesh than I'd like, actually."
Dabi raised the blankets and while Hawks was sure he was about to learn if the man really was burned down there, he was undeniably relieved to see he was in his usual villain attire, sans the boots and jacket. There were shredded pieces of cloth stuck to his shirt, but with how sloppy the man was, that wasn't anything too eye catching. Hawks released a few feathers to search for danger and was alarmed at just how much kid stuff was in the room. Did Dabi have a child? It didn't seem like his style, but Hawks wasn't exactly in a position to judge what was normal.
Dabi was silent for a long moment, looking him up and down with an unreadable look that set Hawks's nerves on edge. "What?" he snapped, but Dabi didn't rise to the bait and he was forced to deal with the quiet.
"...what happened to your talons?"
Okay, that wasn't what he was expecting, and it sent him back into freak-out mode. He tucked his fingers into the folds of the blanket, but the hand holding his weapon was still exposed and that didn't even begin to cover his feet. His feathers finally brought his Kevlar body suit back to him, but it smelled like vomit. Why did it smell like vomit? How did it smell like vomit? Hawks hadn't eaten since he'd gone out on that mission with Dabi; he hadn't had time to eat, and he knew what Wax Coffee puke smelled like and this wasn't it.
"What the hell happened?" Hawks demanded. Dabi got up and stepped closer, and a familiar but long repressed spike of anxiety made his grip on his feather tighten. He didn't let his face change, his posture, anything else, because he was better than that.
"I asked you a question, Hawks. Where the fuck are your talons?" Dabi repeated. Hawks swallowed.
"I don't have talons, Dabi," he spat as if somehow the villain didn't see the hideous scarring and stitching holding his toes and fingers together, even all these years later. Dabi came even closer, they were almost nose to nose, and ran his fingers through Hawks's hair and oh no did he almost chirp? What the hell was wrong with him?
"Your feathers are gone too..." the villain mumbled and his fingers traced the places the bad feathers used to grow against his scalp. Hawks couldn't seem to convince himself to pull away and that was stupid and Kontorora-sama would be so disappointed in him if she knew.
"Feathers don't grow there, Bunson, that's where hair grows," he tried, softening his sword and brushing it along Dabi's side. "Wings are where feathers grow, and look, mine are all here. Now can you please tell me why I woke up naked in your bed?"
He should've been annoyed when he was ignored, but he wasn't as Dabi's fingers moved from his head to his cheek, down his jaw, to the scar on his throat from way back before he was anyone worth remembering. "What happened here, Hawks?"
The story was so ingrained in his memory he didn't even pause. "A villain with a shuriken quirk cut me when I was doing my first internship. Cut pretty deep, but not deep enough to need a hospital. Learned to pay attention when in a high speed pursuit."
Hawks stiffened and his neck wanted to do that stupid thing it did where he tilted his head and looked like a moron. "What do you mean?"
"You're lying, and I know you're lying, because you were hit with a deaging quirk."
Hawks felt the air leave his lungs. Fuck. Fuck. What had he said? How old had he been? He couldn't think of any age that wouldn't be incriminating. It explained all the toys and crap at least. What had he said? Had he told him about the Commission? About Endeavor-san? He didn't have his bad feathers, so he couldn't have said anything about Tou--
"You didn't say anything, birdie, stop thinking so loud," Dabi scolded and brought his hand to run through Hawks's hair again. Hawks had to pull back fast to stop the stupid, ugly, bad bird noise, no one will love you if you make bird noises, Hawks, not even your own mother could--
Okay. Deep breaths. He couldn't spiral. Not yet. He could wait until his next day off, like he always did. Add another hour in the closet. It's fine.
"How old was I?" he asked, because he had to say something. Dabi shrugged slightly.
"You were really fuckin' small's all I know. Three, maybe four? But with how malnourished you were, I would bet you were smaller than your actual age. Actually, here, you tell me."
Dabi pulled his phone out and suddenly Hawks was looking at his own sleeping face, decades younger. He wasn't three, because he'd gotten his scar from that time his mom followed through on her threat and tried to stab him while he slept when he was five, but Dabi didn't need to know that.
"O...kay. So why's my shit...did I puke?" he asked and held up his uniform. Dabi snatched it and tossed it back into his dirty laundry pile. "Hey! I need to wear that!"
"Not until it's clean you don't." Dabi fished through another basket and pulled out a pair of black sweat pants he threw Hawks's way. He caught them, of course, and quickly slid them on.
Another long silence passed and Hawks's feathers finally found his gloves. A quick sniff told him they were clean enough though even if they weren't there was no way he was letting anyone else see the ugliest parts of him. His boots came back too and that was even better.
"Where's your washing machine? Can I use it?" Hawks asked and plucked up the basket. It stank and his nose crinkled but it was clearly his fault, and he cleaned his own messes. Dabi, however, stood in his way.
"Drop it and go sit down. Don't make me make you."
Hawks huffed and did as told, because honestly he wasn't ready for a fight right now. He was sore, his head felt like Mirko had used it as her personal kicking bag, and even though he was sure he'd gotten more sleep last night than he'd gotten all of last week, he was suddenly horribly tired. Two of those things could be fixed at once, he realized, and rose back up from the out of place couch. "Can I get a coffee? Twice keeps some in the kitchen for me."
"No. No coffee. If you're tired, you're sleeping," Dabi hissed. Like hell he was. One of his feathers slipped free from his wing and slid across the ground and under the door. He'd find his own damn coffee.
"Look, Dabs, while it's nice you're worried and all that, I'm a big boy now. I can take care of myself," he laughed and it was nice that he'd worried. He wouldn't have blamed Dabi for leaving his deaged ass out on the streets, but he hadn't and that was nice. He should add that to his records; maybe Twice wasn't the only one of them worth trying to save.
Dabi came over to sit next to him and sighed. "Haw...Birdie, what you...that wasn't normal. What the fuck happened to you?"
Despite everything, all of the years, all of the training, Hawks felt his lip quiver because no one had ever asked that before. Or, well, no one who was still alive, and Touya hadn't even known about anything before the Commission. He had no idea what to say, what he could say, because this had never been part of the plan. He'd rehearsed stories about each mark the Commission couldn't erase, but all of those relied on the person not actually seeing what a pathetic little thing he had been. He couldn't hold eye contact long before he had to turn just long enough to blink the wetness out of his eyes and gather himself back up.
"I...I was...it doesn't matter, does it? It was years ago!" he laughed, because Hawks wasn't that useless little gutter rat, he could charm his way out of this conversation.
Dabi didn't agree. He leveled Hawks with a glare that would put the likes of Eraserhead to shame, then sighed and reached for his wing.
"Fine, don't tell me today. But you will fuckin' tell me." Holy crap, how did Dabi know how to preen? It was gentle, it was perfect, it was just the right amount of fingernail and pressure to feel good but not hurt and Hawks had to clamp a hand over his mouth to stop the ugly bird noises he thought he'd outgrown again. He'd have to ask Kontorora-sama to help with that, though he really didn't want to.
Dabi grabbed his wrist and firmly but gently pulled his hand back. "It's okay. I don't mind your coos or chirps. None of us here would."
Wait, he'd cooed as a kid?! He didn't think he he'd ever cooed, except those few times with Touya and maybe once or twice when he was learning to preen. He was sure he wasn't still cooing at five because why the hell would he?
Hawks met Dabi's eye and tried to find what he was missing, why he was being so nice, why it mattered that he'd been some scared, hungry little brat way back when because honestly, he didn't understand and this all felt too much. He came up blank, over and over, so he did the only thing his dumb bird brain could think to. He asked. "Why are you being so nice to me?"
Dabi thought on it, his hand traveling further into Hawks's wing, from his primary to secondary coverts, and Hawks's brain turned to mush. It felt so good, better than anything he'd ever felt in his life, and he couldn't stop the horrible sounds even though he tried. "Someone has to be, right?" Dabi whispered and Hawks wasn't slow but he couldn't keep up.
"Wh-ooo-at?" he babbled around pleased chitters that he'd spent years having programmed out of him, how was it this easy to slip!?
"People have been cruel to you since you were born. Your parents, the Commission, Endeavor...someone had to be nice eventually."
He couldn't choke it out, and Dabi didn't make him. "Yes, Endeavor and the Commission. You were just a kid, Keigo, and they treated you like a soldier. Not even, they treated you like a weapon."
Instantly the trance was broken and he hopped away from those horribly kind hands. "What did you just call me?"
Dabi followed him, reaching out, but Hawks shied away. "How did you know--who are--?" he gasped, but suddenly, he knew. He knew, because there were only a handful of people who knew that name, and of them, only one who actually loved him. "T-Touya-nii...?"
It wasn't quite how he remembered, but that definitely wasn't Dabi's smile directed at him. "Hey, Keigo-ototo."
There was no hiding the tears that time, nor did he want to as he threw himself into Dabi--no Touya's--arms.
"I'm so--Touya, I'm sorr--it's all my--they told me you were dead!" he wailed and for once it didn't feel so bad because Touya was safe and good and never cared when he was Keigo and not Hawks. Touya ran his hand up and down his back, the other holding the back of his head as he hushed him and whispered apologies of his own which made no sense because it was all his fault so why was Touya sorry?
"I know, I know," he murmured as he settled them back on the couch and hiccups began to puncuate Keigo's sobs. "It's all gonna be okay, Keigo. I promise."
And for the first time since Kontoroa-sama offered to make him a hero, Keigo dared to have hope.
- - -
It took eight hours, a change in location, two pizzas, and seventeen breakdowns for Touya to wade through all of the trauma that was Keigo's life story. His last ten years were also examined, and though he couldn't cry anymore, Keigo had held him all the same. By the end of it they were exhausted, mentally and physically, but things felt...lighter. Uncertain, yes, but lighter.
"What are we gonna do, Touya-nii?" Keigo asked as he dragged his fingers through his (white again) hair. Hawks's phone buzzed again, but neither of them spared it a glance.
"I don't know. I mean, I'm not giving up until the bastard and his--the bastard is dead," he sighed, because over the course of their conversation they'd agreed that targeting Shoto was misplaced at the very least, "and you love being a hero too much to actually come to the dark side."
"But I don't want to fight you."
"I don't want to fight you either. This is fucked. But Kei, c'mon, you can't let things keep going the way they are. You can't keep working for them."
Keigo picked at his sleeve with his talonless, nailless fingers. "I...I know, but I don't know how to...I don't want to give up being a hero."
Touya didn't want that either, because in all his life, being a hero was the only choice Keigo had ever been allowed to make. "You won't have to. Just...lemme think."
They laid together, the silence comfortable as they pondered, but eventually Keigo sat up and met his eye. "Does Endeavor-san have to die?"
"Depends on what you're suggesting, little bird."
"What if...we exposed them instead?"
That was interesting. "Exposed them?"
"I mean, you could tell the world what Endeavor-san did to you, his own son. Do it publicly, on national television or something. I could get some of his hair for a DNA test to prove your his son, and maybe I could find some pictures from your school files. He'd lose his license for sure, probably even go to jail."
"What about you?" Touya asked as he began to run his fingers through Hawks's locks and again traced where there should be feathers. Commission bastards.
"I'd do the same, but unlike you, there are files detailing every little thing they ever did to me," he answered around chirps and warbles as his head thumped back onto his chest. "Or maybe just threaten to, since I don't wanna take down the whole thing when its already so hard for heroes right now."
Honestly? It didn't sound so bad. Not perfect, of course, since at the end of the day Endeavor and Kontorora would still be breathing, but not so bad. However, he was too tired to make any firm decisions, and based on Hawks's drooping eyes, he was no better off.
"That could work. Let's talk about it tomorrow, yeah? I wanna watch a movie." He grabbed the remote from off Hawks's (now broken, don't ask) coffee table and turned the tv on. He was amused to see the bird already had a subscription to Disney Plus...or not, since the account was under Mirko's name. Eh, he had access, and it wasn't like companies like Disney needed more money.
"Mmm hmm. You pick," Keigo slurred as his wings cocooned them both. Dabi flipped through the selection, landing on a familiar movie. He nudged Keigo. "Seen this one?"
"Nope," the bird mumbled as he read the description. "Doesn't seem like your kind of movie, though?"
"Eh, I like it well enough," he answered and pressed play.
Neither one was awake by the time Kiki took her first flight.
But, just like Kiki, they were about to soar to freedom.