It starts with fury and pain and fear, Hawks slumped over his bathroom floor when Dabi breaks into his apartment again. The wind quirk user Hawks fought today broke all of his feathers, and considering the amount of pain he's in he doubts a single one is left intact. He had to keep fighting though. And now he needs to figure out which ones can be saved, if any, or if he needs to call out of work the next day. Fuck that.
He spots Dabi in the mirror. Hawks' eyes narrow, pupils reducing to pinpoints as they focus on the other man. He's furious from the pain and ready to unleash his feathers, still sharp even when torn. Dabi isn't looking at his face though, he's frowning and looking at the sorry state of Hawks' wings and his hand is already up and getting closer to a particularly fucked up primary.
"Don't," Hawks grits out.
And then... Dabi doesn't. He glances at Hawks in the mirror and pulls his hand away; turns his back and leaves the room. Hawks is frozen in place. Soon, he hears noises in the kitchen. Just the sound of someone making coffee, hardly the battle-hardened preparations of a Villain ready to take advantage of his weakened state. Dabi acting like he owns the place fucking pisses him off but that's been a losing battle ever since the Villain found out where he lived.
Hawks blinks a few times and goes back to prodding and plucking and preening. He can't remember the last time he asked someone not to touch his wings and the person just backing off. The Commission doctors had to check them anyway. Children looked heartbroken when denied. His colleagues and side-kicks and interns and fans always asked, "why not?"
Maybe it was Hawks' own fault for not bothering to ask them not to touch, not anymore.
Two painful hours later, when he steps into the living room with pathetically small wings, Dabi is in there with the TV on. They stare at each other.
"You okay?" Dabi asks.
"...Yeah," Hawks answers, wary. What comes now?
Dabi nods. Then he turns off the TV and leaves.
Hawks nearly forgets about it. It didn't make any sense, but then again that is par for the course with Dabi. Keeping everyone on edge by showing new depths or inexplicable behaviour when no one expects it. Scoffing about white truffles being overrated. Nearly melting Shigaraki's face off when their leader mentions Eri wouldn't be so hard to kidnap nowadays. Comforting Toga and patiently untangling her hair after a group of kids threw chewing gum into it. (Nobody asked what happened to the kids after that.)
Then it happens again. Despite the killer headache that's blinding him after a long day, Hawks still shows up at the League meeting, ready to smile and charm and speak half-truths like a good little spy. Dabi taunts and goads and throws rolled up pieces of dirty napkin at his face the whole time, even when it's Hawks' turn to speak. When the others leave, Dabi extends a hand toward his wing.
Maybe Hawks has let him get away with brushing against them lately. Sometimes. Pretending not to notice. Pretending not to enjoy.
Today, he's not in the fucking mood, especially not after the shit Dabi pulled during the meeting. Hawks knows acting pissy will only make things worse, but his head fucking hurts and he is so done with this day.
"No," he hisses.
Dabi retracts his hand. Hawks' face goes slack with shock. It takes him a moment to comprehend.
But this time, he's noticed. A second later, a paperball gets him in the eye and his mood sours back immediately, but he won't forget. This could be the start of a pattern.
"Damn," Dabi regrets. "I was aiming at your dumb fucking mouth."
Hawks tests his theory after that. He's careful about it because he actually enjoys it when Dabi tugs at a feather, or runs his fingers through Hawks' wings under the pretence of pushing them away to make space, even though they're sitting so close Hawks can feel his warmth through their clothes.
Hawks doesn't want to discourage any of that, but saying no and having someone listen is nothing like Hawks could ever have imagined. It's kind of addictive. His parents never listened. His handlers only thought about his training. His doctors only care about improving his performance, then or now. His fans feel owed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to touch. Whether Hawks wants it or not never mattered. It's just the way it is, the way it's always been as far back as his memory goes.
"Don't," he says when Dabi pretends to sink his hand into the slit at the back of Hawks' jacket to find out if his wings are fake.
"No," he tries when Dabi turns on the TV but Hawks needs silence, head pounding after another long day.
"Stop!" he orders, trying to stay serious when Dabi keeps tugging on his chin stubble to see if it'll come off.
When Dabi leans in for a kiss one day, Hawks doesn't say anything. Instead he smiles and tilts his head, his hand in Dabi's hair to bring him closer.
It turns out that "No" works in bed as well. With full, absolute confidence that Dabi will listen when he tells him to stop, Hawks finds himself a lot more open - and a lot more interested - in trying out new things. No need to be forceful when something isn't working for him. No need to think of a joke to lighten up the atmosphere after. They just move on to the next thing, or revert to the more traditional and time-honoured practices when too desperate to wait any longer.
And boy, does Dabi know a lot of interesting tricks.
The sex is not just good. It's also a lot of fun.
The next time it happens is nowhere as fun, and it isn't Hawks who gets to say 'no.' He thought being on the other side of the word would be easy. After all, he understands firsthand the high of having one's personal boundaries respected. When Hawks arrives at their meeting point and finds Dabi bleeding in the warehouse with a nasty gash on his side though, it's hard to accept it when Dabi growls at him to back off before Hawks can even fly to him.
Hawks closes his fists, shaking. He wants. He wants to get closer, he wants to check how bad the wound is, he wants to fucking help! But Dabi said no. Ignoring his wishes because Hawks thinks he knows better feels wrong.
Making him repeat himself also does. Hawks grinds his teeth and turns on his heels, leaving five feathers in the room. The second Dabi passes out, Hawks will be back inside.
If he's too late, he'll never forgive himself. But he doesn't know what else he can do beside listening.
Hawks patrols around the warehouse, feathers hovering all around the building. He chases drunkards away, forces addicts to find another spot to shoot, grits his teeth when Dabi screams as he cauterises his own wound.
Dabi doesn't pass out.
Hawks stays outside.
When Dabi finally emerges, sweating profusely, Hawks is immediately at his side, desperate to touch but careful not to.
"You okay?" he asks, an echo of a past conversation.
"Yeah," Dabi replies, an echo of a past answer. Hawks wonders if he should leave now, just like the last time they had this exchange but Dabi keeps speaking. "Think you can bring me home?"
Relief washes over Hawks, tempered with worry. If Dabi is feeling bad enough to ask him for a ride regardless of motion sickness, it means nothing good. But Hawks has permission to touch now, and so he does, careful as he lifts Dabi up and takes off. It's not long before they get to Hawks' place. It's not long before Hawks gently lays him on the bed. Not much longer until he removes Dabi's clothes attentively, wanting to check for himself the seriousness of the wound.
It doesn't look as bad as Hawks feared.
He goes to the bathroom and brings back water and a towel to clean Dabi up. He doesn't ask for permission with words, but before touching a new place he makes sure to pause and meet Dabi's gaze, and he waits for the answering nod before pressing down the towel to meticulously wash off the grime and blood. The new burn he leaves alone, only making sure it stays dry. There are no other injuries or grazes to worry about, so he doesn't go back for the first aid kit. Instead he helps Dabi into a comfortable pyjama bottom, and changes into one as well.
Then he lies on the bed and drapes an arm around Dabi and a wing around them both, mindful of the wound but needing to be close. Hawks' fingers rub gently against the scarred skin of Dabi's neck despite knowing the other man can't feel it. Dabi's hand comes up to interlace their fingers anyway. Wide-eyed, Hawks breathes against his shoulder to take in Dabi's scent. It's rougher than usual, drowned by the coppery smell of the new injury but under his elbow, Dabi's chest rises and falls, again and again. He's safe. He brings Dabi's hand closer to kiss it and moves his lips up to brush against his chin, his eye, his temple.
"What happened," he whispers.
There is a moment of silence.
"Nothing for you to worry about," Dabi eventually whispers back. His grip on Hawks' fingers tightens, forceful, as if to prevent him from leaving.
Hawks isn't going anywhere. He crosses their legs together and scoots closer - careful - but closer, as close as he can. Dabi's spiky hair tickles his nose for a moment and Hawks nuzzles it before closing his eyes and focusing on the sensations. Dabi's chest moving under his arm. The cold staples of Dabi's hand against his palm. Dabi's rough scars pressed against his forehead. His wing comes up, cutting off the light and cocooning them even deeper. He kisses the corner of Dabi's lips, and enjoys it when Dabi shuffles to intertwine their legs further.
"Is this okay?"
Dabi turns his head, and their lips meet in a kiss, chaste and a bit too dry, warm as life.
They don't move for a long time after that.