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Freedom in Fire

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Dabi wheezed and choked, blood spraying out from between his lips. His breathing had taken on a wet and rasping quality. He chuckled harshly to himself, slumped against a half-destroyed wall on the edge of the destruction zone. He could still hear fighting and explosions sounding off in the distance, clouds of dust and smoke being blown around by wind and high-speed movements. Both his legs were broken and he was covered in wounds he could only partially feel due to his fried nerves. Half his ribs were broken and he's pretty sure that one of them had hit a lung and was the cause of his laborious breathing and the blood bubbling through his lips. It was only a matter of time before the heroes found him but he was pretty sure he'd be dead by then.

With that thought Dabi was filled with a sense of peace; he was okay with that, dying here alone, choking on his own blood. It was fitting he supposed and it was as good a way as any other to go out considering he'd managed to do what he always wanted. He'd got his revenge on Endeavor by first exposing him, destroying his reputation and status as a top hero, the only thing he had ever truly loved. Just an hour earlier he had finally finished what he'd started, flash frying the bastard and watching him burn to death. It was satisfying and exhilarating for all of ten minutes, and then he just felt numb. What else was he supposed to do now? What more was left? He joined the league to use them for his revenge and while he was fond of them, he wasn’t devoted to their cause. He had nothing left, the only thing he would have considered living passed this point for was gone, a pile of ashes. Its why he didn’t try fighting too hard and ended up as damaged as he was.

The sound of footsteps and shifting rubble approaching him had him smiling bitterly and closed his eyes, “I’m surprised a hero is on the edges out here and not in the thick of things, doing their righteous hero thing.”

There was silence except for the footsteps, until they were only a foot away and stopped. The silence persisted for several long seconds before the person shifted and slid down against the crumbled wall to sit beside him. “Not exactly a hero anymore hot stuff.”

Dabi's breath hitched, triggering another bout of bloody coughs, before sliding his gaze to the figure beside him. “Hey there birdy. I’m surprised to see you here if you’re not a hero. They usually like to keep civilians out of the way during things like this.”

Hawks hummed thoughtfully, “True, but I was a top hero. I know how to get passed a police perimeter without being seen, even without a pair of wings.”
Dabi's chest filled with a pain that had nothing to do with his injuries. Images of red feathers against white sheets, the sensation of them as they dragged across the parts of his skin that still had feeling, burying his fingers into the red down.

Trying to talk around the lump in his throat was difficult but he finally managed. “Ah. Here to pay me back for that then.” It was a statement, he couldn’t think of any other reason the former hero would be here, not after how things ended. Which is why he was so surprised when the blond let out a subdued, but amused chuckle.
“No hot stuff, revenge was your shtick, I can’t take your thing.” Hawks hadn’t actually looked at him yet, keeping his gaze towards the bright blue sky, but Dabi couldn’t tear his eyes away from the other man. Even without his wings, wings that Dabi missed more than he could admit, and a slew of new scars, he was still the most beautiful man he’d ever seen.
“Then why are you here birdy?” Dabi struggled around another mouthful of blood.

Hawks was quiet for a minute before he finally spoke. “I loved to fly. Open skies, the wind under me, floating amongst clouds, absolutely freeing. Sometimes it was the only thing that kept me going through all the commission did, the training, the punishments, the lies. And then my wings were gone and the commission just dropped me. I miss my wings so fucking much Touya. But out of all this, do you know what hurt the most?” At this Keigo finally turned his head to look right at him. “What hurt the most is realizing that the most real I’ve ever been since my mother sold me to the commission was when I was with you. What hurt the most was realizing that having my wings taken and then being abandoned by them, had me feeling the freest I’ve ever been.”

Two streams of blood dripped from Touya's eyes, welling from burnt tear ducts. The blonde cupped his face with one hand and wiped a bloody tear away with his thumb. Touya couldn’t stop himself from leaning into the contact. ”Kei, I …”

“I’m here to be with you Touya, in the end.” Keigo huffed, tears welling in his own. “I’m pretty smart you know. I knew this would end the moment I realized I was in love with you. I realized how it was going to end the moment I realized you were in love with me. It was easy to find you too in this mess. I can still sense my feathers, and you still have my very last one.”

Touya let out a sob that morphed into wheezing, painful coughs, blood splattering on the former hero’s hands where both now cupped his face.

“I lied a little though. I’m sure you'll be proud of your influence on me, but I did get revenge on the commission. Or I will rather. It doesn’t matter how this battle will end, Hero society will be completely altered, and the commission will fall. Every dirty secret, every training program, blackmail, cover-up, and mission, it’s all going to be released online in 24 hours, and the physical evidence is already hidden in UA. What they did to me, what they did to you… it’s not going to happen to anyone else.”

Touya drifted sideways and Keigo caught him, easy his head down to rest in his lap. “Proud of you pretty bird.” The edges of Touya's vision was getting dark, but Keigo's face was staring down at him and that was all he wanted to look at anyways. “What are you going to do after this Keigo, now that you’re free?”

“What are you talking about hot stuff? I’m going to be with you of course. Remember what I said? I’m only myself when I’m with you. The only bit of freedom I have left, is being with you.” Keigo choked, tears dropping down onto Touya's face.

Touya grinned faintly, “I should probably tell you to keep on living, to find someone who loves you the way you deserve, but I’m too selfish. I don’t want anyone to love you the way I do and I don’t want you to love anyone the way you love me.”

“Yeah, you’re kind of an asshole like that.” The former Wing Hero laughed wetly, sharing a soft smile with the other man.

“Yeah, I really am.” Breathing was getting more and more difficult and his consciousness was fading. “Send me off with a kiss baby bird, and then come join me. Love you Kei.”

“I love you too Touya.” A soft gentle press of lips and then Todoroki Touya breathed his last breath, a smile on his bloody lips.

Keigo leaned back and looked at the sky, tears running down his face. A brave bird flew overhead even though the sound of fighting had only just died down. He couldn’t stop a happy smile as he watched the crow fly, an odd refraction of light had its wings gaining a blue shimmer. A second crow joined it seeming to have a red shine. They flew in concentric spirals with each other, circling down and perching right above him and Touya’s body on the broken wall.

“Guess our escort’s here, huh baby.” Keigo stroked his hands through white strands of hair and had one last long look to memorize Touya's face, to take the image of it with him. Closing his eyes Keigo leaned back against the wall. A chain around Touya's next moved and twitched before a red feather worked its way out from under the blood-soaked shirt trapping it. The feather moved until it was right in front of the former Hero, suddenly growing sharp and edged.

“Goodbye.” And the feather shot forward.

 

…….

 

“We still haven’t found Dabi, but we think he's in this sector. He was too injured to get far, but we need find him to make sure. You probably shouldn’t be here Todoroki, Problem Child. You’re both heavily injured from the fight still.” Aizawa looked at his two students, covered in dust, bandages and splashes of blood, looking exhausted but stubborn.

“You don’t have much room to lecture sensei, you’re still not used to that prosthetic leg but it didn’t stop you from doing what you had to do.” Todoroki stated, his usual monotone was absent and his eyes were fever bright with emotion.

“I won’t let Shouto do this alone. Sorry sensei but you’re not stopping us.” Midoriya looked stubborn and there was no negotiating when he had that look on his face.
A shout nearby caught their attention and they immediately made their way towards it.

“We have a blood trail, and it’s a lot of blood.” Hizashi's usually friendly and upbeat demeanor was absent, replaced by exhaustion and sadness.

The four of them grouped up with a few other nearby heroes and followed the trail in silence. It was only a couple minutes before they came around yet another half destroyed wall and ground to a halt. All of them stood there in silence for several long minutes.

“…What?”

Crumpled against the wall was the former pro hero Hawks, his missing wings making him seem small and diminished. They were confused on why was even there, but that took a backseat to everything else happening in the scene. The villain Dabi was laying still on the ground, his head resting in the lap of the man who's wings he had burned off, dried blood trailing down from his eyes and the corner of his mouth. For some reason it looked as if his once victim had been cradling him gently. A bright red, blood-stained feather was pierced through the former hero's heart, pinning him to the broken wall they were slumped against. It was like a tragic love scene from a movie or painting. The most notable thing, was the soft, heartbreaking smiles their still faces were frozen in.

Aizawa heard his student dropping to the ground beside him but couldn’t look away. It wasn’t until two unnoticed crows that had been perched on the wall released harsh caws and took off into the air, black feathers drifting to the ground behind them, that he managed to pull his gaze away.

 

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Breaking News: Former Pro Hero Hawks Found Dead with Villain Dabi at Ground Zero of the League War Zone

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Breaking News: Mass Online Release of Incriminating Documents About the Hero Commission

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Breaking News: Commission Leak Linked Back to Deceased Former Pro-Hero Hawks

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Headline: Child Soldier Training Camps, Abuse and Infanticide Cover-ups: How the Commission Created the Villain Dabi and Killed the Hero Hawks

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Breaking News: Japanese Government Denounces and Dissolves the Public Hero Safety Commission

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Headline: UA to Release the Written Testimony of Former Hero Hawks that was Left in Their Custody

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Headline: Ten Year Anniversary: How Hero Society Has Changed Since the League War and HawksLeaks

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Opinion Piece: The Tragic Romance of Takami Keigo and Todoroki Touya