Author's Note: Yep, got started on another. Title is the same as a song by The Beatles; it's a pretty crazy sounding song actually, like some madness mantra for a love struck psycho. Anyway, enjoy ya'll, beware of possible spoilers for the Internship Arc!
“I’m done. No wait, I still got a little fight left! Um….actually I think I’m going to throw up.”
Twice tapped out, letting his chopsticks drop from his grip as he leaned back in his chair; he wiped his mouth before tugging the bottom half of his mask down with a groan. Toga was still digging in, but she was a few bowls behind Chizue, who was on her tenth serving of fried pork and rice. Mr. Compress was playing the part of referee and had so far booted out Twice, Magne, and Spinner from the impromptu game. Dabi was slumped over in the busted couch with a bowl of his own, but he had declined taking an active role as a competitor.
“Hey Toga, your skirt’s looking a bit tight there.” Chizue said with a teasing smile as she reached to scoop another serving into her empty dish. “At this rate you’ll need to fill out a request for a new uniform. Maybe you should quit before the seams bust.”
“I’m not done yet!” Toga chomped down on a particularly fatty piece of pork, but before she could chew, her face went from red to green. Chizue didn’t bother hiding a smug smile as she practically shoved her own food down with ease just to show off, pausing only to let out an resonant belch as she reached for her beer.
“Nice.” Spinner commented, though he himself wasn’t in the best shape; he had taken a seat on the floor and looked about ready to pass out.
“I try.” Chizue winked as she finished bowl number eleven and beer number eight. “Big sis, you sure you’ll be okay over there?”
“Chi-sweetie, don’t underestimate my stamina!” Magne was stroking her own slightly swollen stomach, willing her guts to not spew over the ground as she lounged on the couch next to Dabi. “I swear, I don’t know where she puts it.”
“I think I have an idea.” Dabi glanced at Chizue pointedly, though if he was honest, he didn’t mean to imply she was fat; though she was only a of couple inches taller than Toga, she was also three times her girth. Chizue’s actual build was comparable to a mix of solid and slight mush, not quite fat but not all hard muscle. Still, the amount Chizue needed to consume in one meal alone would be enough to send even a tank of a person to the hospital or at least have them hurling out the contents of their stomach. But then, Chizue was definitely a unique case as far as binge eating went.
“I win!” Chizue slammed her empty bowl on the table. “Alright, where’s the cake? I think this calls for a treat.”
“Please don’t mention cake right now Chizue-chan.” Toga held her stomach.
“You might want to avoid celebrating with the destruction of our cookware.” Mr. Compress said lightly.
“Whoops. I’ll clean it up.” Chizue laughed as she reached across the table to pluck a slice of cake from the dessert plate, brushing aside the remains of the shattered bowl. “No one want any dessert? I got fresh ingredients to make this.”
“Maybe later.” Magne could hardly stand to look at the platter of admittedly decadent sweets. “I sure hope your gut doesn’t burst on you.”
“Aw, this is hardly anything. You should see me on days I have to really hustle.” Chizue remarked as she stabbed the cake with a fork, impaling a ripe red raspberry with a greedy gleam in her eyes.
Spinner licked his lips. “That cake does look good.”
“You might not want to push it.” Dabi commented carelessly; he had barely eaten anything, the one portion in his bowl not even half of what the others had consumed in one dish.
“Eh...I’m going for it.” Spinner stood up slowly and sat down across from Chizue. “Hey Chizue, you can have my berries; I hate the seeds. Always get caught in my teeth.”
“Sure thing!” Chizue nodded eagerly as Spinner began piling the fruit on her plate. “I guess the sugar cancels it out, but ya know, fruit gives me a great boost.”
“Which was it that makes you stronger? Was it grains?” Mr. Compress asked as he pulled up a chair for himself; he hadn’t actually participated in the eating contest himself, so he had more than enough room for a slice of cake.
“Meat and dairy do the most, but fruit and vegetables are good for longer lasting energy.” Chizue explained. “Things like sweets and bread are still filling, so as long as I eat a lot they help, but they burn out a lot faster. So say, if we were doing a job today, I’d definitely want to pile on the pork.”
“Nooo...don’t say pork!” Toga pleaded softly from her seat as she brought a hand to her mouth.
“And here I assumed that the young were able to eat as much as they liked without consequences. Well, I suppose we all have our limits.” Mr. Compress acknowledged.
“Chi-sweetie, you really don’t mind sharing, right? Have you eaten your intake for the day?” Magne spoke from the couch like she was a few minutes away from sleep.
“I’m good, I had more than enough for now. Man, I love when they have pork on clearance, they’re practically giving it away!” Chizue grinned from ear to ear as she inhaled her cake slice.
“You could always just steal it.” Twice piped up, trying not to doze off from how full his belly felt.
“Too much hassle. Besides, Shigaraki gives me enough to fund my intake needs.” Chizue said dismissively.
“Sounds like you’re just lazy.” Spinner commented.
“Hey Chizue-chan, if you could eat any of us, who would you eat first?” Toga asked curiously.
“Well first off I don’t eat people I like.” Chizue told her. “But I could see myself eating you. Younger flesh tends to be the most tender.”
Toga blushed hard. “H-hey, don’t you think that’s a little too forward?!”
“Chi-sweetie, what about me?” Magne asked excitedly, rising up in her seat as much as her bloated belly would allow without discomfort.
“Your skin is flawless, so I can totally see that.”
“I take very good care of my body.” Magne said proudly.
Chizue flashed a thumbs up and turned to Spinner. “But I’d have to fry you up first.”
“What? And I never asked in the first place.” Spinner looked at her warily.
“It’s just hypothetical.” Chizue waved him off. “Did you know in some places they fry lizard meat for snacking?”
“Do you want me to kill you?”
“Hey, me next!” Twice raised his hand. “What do you think I’d taste like?”
“You look like you might be a little tough, but it’s nothing a good saute couldn’t fix. Now that Muscular guy you used to have, if I ate him, I’d become ten times as strong as I already am, but I’d have to put him in a slow cooker.”
“What if you ate our boss?” Dabi tossed out.
"I think he’d taste too dry. Hm...you know, I don’t think I can actually eat Kurogiri…” Chizue smiled suddenly. “Mr. Compress, you look like you take good care of yourself; I bet you taste great.”
Mr. Compress lowered the brim of his hat over his eyes. “Chizue, be more mindful of your phrasing won’t you?”
Chizue’s laughter boomed and she slammed a fist on the table. “You are a riot!”
“Chi-sweetie be careful, you just broke the corner again.”
“Oops. Sorry.” There was a reason Chizue was only allowed to eat at a specific table for her own use. “Don’t know my own strength. The pork just zipped right through my system.”
“By the way,” Mr. Compress began. “I myself have only seen you eat food since you joined us. Are you abstaining for some reason?”
“What? No way, I’m not a nun.”
Mr. Compress regarded her for a moment. “A nun?”
“You perverted glutton, he’s asking why you haven’t eaten any human flesh since you got here.” Spinner snapped impatiently at Chizue.
“Well why didn’t he say so?”
“He did say so!”
“Oh. Oh yeah.”
Dabi snorted lightly under his breath and Magne turned to give him a suspiciously wide smile, which he pointedly ignored.
“Mr. Compress, you weren’t here when Twice brought Chi-sweetie to the base, weren’t you?”
“I wasn’t. Did I miss something?”
“I wasn’t here either.” Toga reminded Magne. “What happened? Don’t tell me she picked a fight.”
“Well let me fill you in Toga-chan.” Magne offered with a grin. “You see, Chi came here with another guy who ended up bad mouthing the boss because he was rejected. And then-well, you tell them Chi-sweetie, you were there. And don’t miss out on the gory details!”
Chizue chuckled. “We just met that day trying to make contact with the League. Now I had heard Shigaraki was more interested in quality than quantity these days, so I figured what better way to show I was reliable than to kill two birds with one stone?”
“What kind of Quirk did he have? Did you use it?”
Chizue nodded; she was always happy to slam someone’s head into the ground when they started getting too mouthy, especially when it would give her a leg up. Even with the light breakfast she had that morning (five dozen eggs, six pieces of buttered toast, and a gallon of milk) the wannabe thug’s head had smashed open like a melon with one shove onto the concrete floor.
“Beats me, I spat him right out. He tasted like crap.” Chizue made an exaggerated face and Toga and Twice busted into laughter.
“Oh Chi-sweetie, you didn’t do Dabi-kun yet; you wouldn’t want to make him feel left out, would you?”
Dabi gave Magne a look. “You’re really going to push this aren’t you?”
Chizue took the request seriously. “Your Quirk would be really cool, but there’s no point when I’d only get to use like, say a fraction of it. It’s like if I ate Toga: I’d only be able to change for maybe a few minutes, or with Twice I’d probably get to make just one more half assed clone.”
“But how do you think Dabi-kun would taste?”
“Like someone charred a steak too long.”
No one really even attempted to hide their amusement; Mr. Compress actually had to turn around to avoid looking at Dabi’s dead eyed expression and risk bursting into chuckles. Chizue looked around, wondering what she had said that was so funny.
“Just eat around the burned bits.” Twice suggested.
“You are right.” Chizue told him as she helped herself to another slice of cake. “After all, waste not want not.”
“Here, here!” Twice raised a bottle of Chizue’s beer. “I’m completely sober.”
“Tough luck with this one.” Magne patted Dabi’s shoulder briefly.
“I don’t want that cannibal near me; call me nuts, but I’m not in the mood to be literal dead meat.”
“It’s never gets easier you know.” Magne sighed wistfully. “It’s why I like to remain untethered; even when the uncontrollable flames of desire burn so fiercely I feel I might burn alive, I can’t afford to lose myself to the embrace of a lover, no matter how tempting!”
“Too many people here have one track minds.” Dabi muttered under his breath as Magne continued her speech, unhindered by his lack of interest. Half the members seemed obsessed with something; Spinner emulating every aspect of Stain despite his better sense, Toga with her gruesome penchant for blood, Chizue’s fixation with cramming as much food in her mouth as possible instead of coming up with anything constructive to say.
“I feel like she’s got no direction.”
Magne paused and looked down at Dabi. “Who?”
“Chizue doesn’t seem to different from the novice’s that Shigaraki started off with.” Dabi commented as he watched Chizue try to stab Twice’s hand for the last piece of cake. “Someone who takes whatever they want without a thought to anything else.”
“Ah, don’t be so judgemental Dabi-kun.” Magne said cheerfully as she cracked open a beer and held it out to him. “Chi just wants to live her life how we all do.”
“And how’s that?”
“When it comes down to it, we’re all here because we aren’t content with the lot we’ve been given in this life.” Mr. Compress strolled over to them casually, having overheard their conversation; he himself didn’t care much to take part in the more rambunctious free for all at the table across the room. “General discontent is what brought us all here.”
Dabi couldn’t argue with that. “It’s nothing personal, but you realize that woman is eating with only one chopstick, right?”
Magne cocked her head to the side. “When did Chi start doing that?”
“It’s a metaphor to say one is a bit touched in the head.” Mr. Compress explained readily. “You know, someone whose lost their marbles? A few sandwiches short of a picnic? The light’s are on but no one’s upstairs-?”
“She’s an unstable hedonist. And I wasn’t the only one who noticed.”
Dabi could easily recall Shigaraki had looked downright ready to throw up when he saw Chizue pick at the splattered remains of the potential recruit and he himself wasn’t too far behind. But the most vivid memory of their first meeting was how she popped an eyeball into her mouth as easily as a piece of candy.
“Dabi, should I remind you of the pile of bodies burned to less than mounds of flesh when you were done with them? Not that I don’t commend your technique.” Mr. Compress added. “Who are any of us to really say which one of us is more depraved or not in the right?”
Dabi shrugged; he couldn’t quite come up with a counterargument.
“I wonder if Chi wouldn’t mind showing me some of those wrestling moves of hers.” Magne asked aloud. “Dabi-kun, you’re not that used to close combat, right? Maybe you should go request a private lesson.”
Without even looking in her direction, Dabi jammed a large chunk of fried pork into Magne’s open mouth; she swallowed it without pause, following the silent threat with gushing about being hand fed. Unfortunately, this was followed by Magne’s stomach making an abnormally loud gurgling noise and her rushing to the nearest container.
Dabi couldn’t find it in himself to feel the least bit sorry when she went to throw it all back up in the large serving bowl that held the leftovers of Chizue’s feast.
“Big sis, ya need some water?”
“T-that’d be great!”
“No problem. Toga, hold back her hair for me, huh?” Chizue winced as Magne let out a particularly loud and drawn out retching sound; Toga bounced over and did just as she was asked, rubbing a hand between Magne’s shoulders as she tried not to breathe too much for fear of inhaling the ensuing smell.
“I think this is the last time we have any eating competitions.” Spinner had to look away and set down his fork; the cake suddenly didn’t look quite so appetizing anymore. “Let’s leave the bingeing to a professional.”
“Aw shucks, go on.” Chizue fluttered her eyelashes in an exaggerated fashion as she stood on the side with a cup of water.
Spinner stared up at her.
“No really, go on.” Chizue handed Magne the glass as soon as the woman was able to prop her head up. “I enjoy praise when it’s due, especially seeing as how you guys are lightweights. Hey Dabi, can you get Big sis another glass? I’m going to try to clean this up; wish me luck on not spewing!”
Chizue didn’t wait for him to answer before tossing him the glass over her shoulder; with a half grimace she began to carry out the toxic mixture at arm’s length for dumping. Dabi caught the cup easily and got up to fill it from their busted out tap.
“Only her fingers?”
“Yeah, lame right?”
Chizue stuffed a handful of popcorn in her mouth; she tried to imagine what Mr. Compress’ expression was under the mask. She couldn’t always quite tell what he meant just by his tone alone and visual cues were easier for her to follow. From the way Mr. Compress was leaning forward on his perch, he actually seemed invested in the story.
“I can’t see how that could be very useful.” Magne pondered next to Chizue, snatching some of the popcorn.
"That's your fifth bag." Magne said with a teasing smile. "Chi-sweetie, haven't you heard the saying 'no honor among thieves'?"
"Have you heard, 'keep your hands to yourself?'" Chizue shot back with a loud snort. "Besides, I need to watch my figure."
“Hey, so if your friend cuts a finger off by accident, she can grow it right back? I hear it’s hard to hold things with only four fingers.” Toga remarked; they all avoided glancing toward Shigaraki, not sure whether he was lost in thought or actively listening to their conversation, as his face was obscured.
“Now keep in mind, me and this girl are like, what, seven?”
“Wouldn't you know? It's your story.” Shigaraki commented.
Chizue couldn't help smile. “Well anyway, she was actually really jealous of my Quirk since I can basically eat as much as I want; smart kid though.” Chizue added. “But one day me and her got to talking about what human meat might taste like. We had a bet; I said pork, she said beef.”
“Which is it?”
“Pork, mostly.” Chizue told Mr. Compress. “We decided to test it though with her fingers; we didn’t think much of it at the time, but the issue was, we had no idea how to cook them. After a bit we go back to my place and decide it’d be faster to just fry them up in a pan.”
“How is that faster?” Toga inquired curiously.
“It was her idea. Hey, I didn’t say she was that smart; anyhow, it ended up causing a house fire and by the time the firefighters got there my parents were crispier than potato chips and my buddy was dead from smoke inhalation. I couldn’t see the door with all the smoke.” Chizue licked the salt off her fingers. “Long story short, that’s how I discovered fried food was my favorite.”
Toga was riveted. “But how did you get out?”
“I ate until I was strong enough to smash right through a wall. Didn’t I just say fried food was my favorite?”
“As great as story time has been, would you mind holding off on accounts of familial cannibalism until I'm anywhere else?” Shigaraki snapped; his face looked a bit paler than usual.
“Sorry Shigaraki.” Chizue smiled sheepishly and held out her bag. “Want some popcorn?”
“Toss me some! Listening to stories is better with snacks.” Toga raised her hands; nearly a quarter of the popcorn fell out as Chizue threw it.
“Watch it dammit.” Shigaraki stepped on one of the kernels, the sharp crunch echoing in the deserted building; the bag had nearly knocked ‘father’ off his face.
“Mm, it's cheese flavored.” Toga sighed happily as she munched.
Mr. Compress chuckled. “You might want to slow down or you'll spoil your dinner, and you know Chizue is preparing to make a feast fit for a few dozen kings.”
“And queens.” Toga added with a giggle.
“You said it Toga-chan.” Magne turned to Chizue. “Do you need help? It's not as if we currently have much supplies for a proper kitchen.”
“We can't bother with settling in when we need to be on the move.” Shigaraki reminded her with a tired sigh. “Where is Twice? He's late.”
“He should be here shortly.” Mr. Compress updated.
Shigaraki nodded, but it was clear his patience was at odds with his weariness. Their leader had a lot on his mind as of late.
“Hey Shigaraki, did I ever tell you what a dish you are?”
Chizue grinned and Shigaraki stared at her for a long time, caught between irritation and being downright puzzled.
“You know? ‘Cause I eat people.”
Suddenly, Twice came bursting through into to the room with a stranger in tow.
Chizue leaned in close to whisper into Magne’s ear. “Whoa, I wouldn’t mind hitting the mat with bird boy.”
“Wrestling, a pillow fight, whatever, just get me on the ground with him.”
Magne blushed and giggled, slapping a hand over Chizue’s shoulder and trying to regain her composure.
In that moment, Chizue could confidently say she felt almost happy.
But then the man named Chisaki Kai made his intentions known; whatever Chizue had said about her deceased friend, she had no delusions that she herself was a genius. That didn’t mean to say the woman's raw instincts weren’t anything to sniff at; the second the man began to speak, her impression of him went from a casual attraction and curiosity to an odd twisting in her gut.
It must have been the eyes. They were the only feature Chizue could see, but one glance made her teeth on edge. The warmth in her belly quickly changed to something akin to a block of ice lodged in her guts. The apprehension spiked to an intense level the second Magne shot up from her seat to take the offensive.
Chizue’s lips were just barely able to get out a ‘wait’ when with one touch Chisaki had reduced her comrade's upper body little more than a stain on the ground.
The yakuza rubbed at his skin, face alone easily conveying his utmost disgust at being splashed with his opponents blood.
Chizue didn't recall who screamed or even whether it was she or Mr. Compress who leapt to their feet first.
”Mr. Compress, Chizue, stop now!”
Chizue’s speed was half of the other man's; Shigaraki was able to hold out his arm in front of her before Chizue could go any further. She heeded his order on impulse and immediately regretted it when it was Mr. Compress’ arm to be blown off next.
“You rat!” Chizue screeched when at least half a dozen other people busted through the wall directly into the base.
“I said to stop.”
Chizue rounded on Shigaraki, ready to fling curses, but her anger wilted at the odd expression on what she could see of his face. She didn't say another word until Chisaki had left them his card, along with one of their own dead and a one wounded.
“Chizue, help Mr. Compress.”
Chizue ran off at Shigaraki's instruction to her room to fetch something to stop the bleeding. It took a minute to grab a few of her old shirts and some hydrogen peroxide.
“Toga, I need you to go and get supplies for the wound. Twice, contact the others and tell Kurogiri we'll need to get in touch with Giran, he'll know where we can get prosthetics.”
"They killed her. They just busted in here and that yakuza freak killed Big sis Magne like it was nothing."
Chizue was helping Mr. Compress up to sitting position; she tried to mop up the open wound as well as she could without pressing too hard. When the blood started to stop seeping out so much, Chizue tore the shirts into strips.
"I'll rip them open. Rip, tear, kill. Every last one, I'll eat them alive until they really are an extinct species. They can all just die!"
If she hadn't been in such a state, Chizue might have been able to feel more impressed with how Shigaraki was handling the sudden disaster. He was acting like a real leader and taking care of business, yet it was this same calm attitude that somehow made her feel more indignant.
“My apologies Chizue, my recklessness is the reason you have to ruin your shirts.”
“Don't you start that.” Chizue tried not to glance over at what was left of Magne, only casting a brief, hateful glare at the pile of clotted blood and guts of the man Chisaki had used as a human shield.
Shigaraki was staring at the corpse unblinking.
“Chizue, you and Mr. Compress both acted recklessly. You both could have been killed just as easily as Magne.”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?! Big sis isn't weak, that rat planned all this out!”
Mr. Compress placed his remaining hand on Chizue’s arm. “Stop talking now.”
She shook him off, still shooting Shigaraki a dirty look. “Why didn't you let me rip him up? You just let him walk away!”
“Watch what comes out of your mouth next Chizue.”
“Or what, you'll kill me?!”
Shigaraki began to walk toward where she was crouched at Mr. Compress’ side.
“I want you to listen carefully. Do you think this is the end?”
Chizue blinked as Shigaraki bent over to picked up the card with Chisaki’s contact information off the ground; he absently wiped away a bit of dust caused from the wall being sent crashing down.
“What's important now is to help Mr. Compress and plan, not go rushing into a fight that'd get us all killed. Do you think Magne wanted you to end up-?”
Shigaraki looked over his shoulder; Chizue was holding the makeshift bandages tight to the bleeding wound, but her hands shook in place.
“I know. Thank you for stopping me. I just...I’m just sorry.”
“Don't be. Just focus on what needs to be done now.” Shigaraki said as he stuffed the slip of paper into his pocket; his eyes slide over from Magne’s mangled torso to Mr. Compress to Chizue’s wobbling chin. “Once we do that, you can tell us some more nauseating stories.”
“Thank goodness my arm was blown to bits instead of being cut clean off.” Mr. Compress remarked lightly as he patted Chizue’s head. “I don't feel partial to your, ‘waste not, want not’ philosophy.”
Chizue was grateful neither made any comments when she used the leftover strips of cloth to mop her face clean.
Chizue supposed it would have been faster for Shigaraki or Dabi to take care of Magne’s body, or even have Kurogiri transport it out of the way. It wouldn't do to have the torn apart corpse just rot out in the open. At any rate, it was Chizue who volunteered to dig a grave; she was still the strongest when it came to physical strength. The mind numbing, repetitive act of digging a shovel into the dry soil of the nearby clearing was almost soothing.
It wasn't much of a field for someone's final resting place, and it certainly wasn't pretty to look at, with the clumps of dead grass and withering dandelions but it would have to do.
“Is this really where you want to dig?”
Chizue was working at filling the hole back up; every time she had to toss dirt over Magne’s body was like a stab to her stomach. She thought it was fitting.
“It's a good spot. No one will be poking their noses around this place.” Chizue told Dabi as he stood back to avoid her shovel. “Big sis won't feel suffocated in an open area like this.” she smiled at the thought of how easy it would be to see the stars overhead when night fell. “She's got a great view of the sky.”
“You think she'll be able to see it?”
“Probably not.” Chizue wiped the sweat from her forehead as she stabbed the shovel into a patch of leftover dirt. “Oh, hold on,”
Dabi raised an eyebrow as she plucked a few dandelions from the ground and placed them directly on the soil.
“There.” Chizue kept her back turned from him. “So what's up? Does Shigaraki need me inside?”
“No. But he told me you were pretty pissed.”
Chizue nodded. “You know, Magne mentioned to me you were a bit on the fence about me joining the League.”
“Which I thought was a bit dumb, seeing as how you're the one not even going by your real name.”
“It's nothing personal.” Dabi said; despite the subject at hand, he didn't hear any hostility in Chizue’s tone.
“Fair enough. But you see, that was the last real talk we had. No, wait.” Chizue let out a brief chuckle; she leaned on the handle of the shovel and pushed her foot into the ground. “We were goofing off and checking out that yakuza; she stole some of my popcorn and I told her to lay off.”
“Sounds like you.”
“Yeah. It does.”
The hard way Chizue agreed said she wasn't particularly eager to say it was so. Dabi heard a heavy sigh escape her lips and waited.
“Last thing I did was bitch about sharing my popcorn. I was right next to her. I could have yanked her back.”
“There's no reason to feel sorry. No one saw this coming; hell, who even knew there were still yakuza out there?”
“I felt it Dabi. I knew that guy wasn't there to make nice to Shigaraki; his eyes were so cold. I bet if he didn't want to use the League's name, he would have killed us all on the spot. He had no problem using one of his own as a goddamn meat shield. And Bis sis-”
Chizue’s words broke mid sentence; she balanced her weight on the shovel and hung her head.
“No one's ever been so nice to me. God, can't I even protect one friend?”
Dabi looked on as her body shook, the sweat soaked top sticking to her broad shoulders as she tried to hold in her tears.
“She wanted freedom and now she's stuck six feet under in a trench. What kinda sick joke is that?”
“It's not. It just happened and letting yourself feel guilty over it won't change anything, just like charging in to kill Overhaul would have just winded up killing you. Mr. Compress is lucky he only lost an arm.”
Chizue sniffed and used her sleeve to wipe her nose. “I know that. But...I don't know what to do about this. Toga and Twice are actually making themselves useful but I'm stuck here.”
“Is that a bad thing?”
“I...I don't know! I'm pissed and I feel like I might throw up and it’s-it’s like someone's sitting on my chest.” Chizue gripped the front of her stained shirt with a trembling fist. “I wanna do something, but I can't. All I can do is wait on Shigaraki’s say so and try not to lose it.”
Dabi took a couple of steps forward. “Have you tried ice cream?”
Chizue felt twice as confused. “The hell will that do?”
He shrugged. “It might help. You like it, right? Eating and stuff.”
Dabi’s head cocked to the side as he heard a sound between a sob and a strangled chuckle.
“You don't do this a lot huh?”
“Sure I do. I mean, it's not my favorite, but I'll eat ice cream if it's there.”
“What do you-AH!”
Chizue jumped a few feet in the air, scrambling to get away from the freezing sensation on the back of her neck. When she turned around, Dabi was still holding up the pint of ice cream with a faint smirk; Chizue grinned and took the container.
“Don't thank me.” Dabi held out a plastic spoon. “Toga told me to bring it to you; she went out to get more stuff for Mister. She thought you could use something cold.”
“Aw, what a sweet kid.” Chizue didn't miss the disbelieving look Dabi gave her. “I said sweet, not sane. Big difference.”
Dabi watched as Chizue’s hungry grin began to falter.
“Dabi, are you sure Shigaraki won't change his mind about letting me go with the Vanguard?”
“Look, he gets it and all, but we can't have you losing your temper. Besides, we need you free to meet up with Toga and Twice in case they need you for backup.”
Dabi sighed. “You forgot that already?”
“I haven't been eating much.” Chizue countered his dull stare with a shrug. “Well, not much for what I need to function normally.” she spooned a generous glop of ice cream into her mouth and sighed happily; it was rocky road.
“Then start stuffing yourself again before you lose what brain cells you got.”
Chizue laughed; she knew Dabi was only trying to lighten the mood.
“I'm gonna just stay here and finish my ice cream.”
The next day, things went even better than Shigaraki had anticipated. Toga and Twice had played their roles perfectly and by the time the heroes had him strapped up and incapacitated, Chisaki fell right into the League's hands.
Dabi had to admit, he hadn't foreseen how well Shigaraki’s scheme would go for them, but he knew however it happened, the yakuza would have to be taken down. It was a matter of both pride and a stepping stone for their future.
The last thing they needed was someone trying to get in the way, not when the heroes already were firmly established thorns in their sides. The quicker they shut down any extra potential obstacles, the better. The only good thing to come out of the whole Overhaul fiasco was the serum, the bullets, and the satisfaction of dishing out some well deserved revenge for his attack.
“Hold on a sec.”
Shigaraki and Mr. Compress were walking ahead of him to the truck where Spinner was waiting behind the wheel. Dabi stood over Chisaki with an oddly reflective look. This man was completely at their mercy; he had taken Magne’s coveted freedom and one of Mr. Compress' limbs. Now he was bleeding, helpless, and hopeless; everything he had was gone.
How the mighty had fallen.
“I don't see it. You look like any asshole off the street to me.”
Dabi felt a familiar heat grow in the palm of his hand; he held it above Chisaki, directly by the side of his face. The man hardly stirred; what more could they do without putting him out of his misery? As nice as it was to break the yakuza's spirit, it was a bit disappointing for what Dabi had in mind; he wanted to see the fear.
“Hey, hurry it up back there!” Spinner banged on the outside of the truck’s door.
“Dabi, we need to leave.” Mr. Compress said as he rotated his shoulder.
Dabi nodded curtly before turning back to Chisaki; the man looked worse than dead. He looked utterly defeated.
But it wasn't enough.
“I wonder how she'd think you look after this.”
Dabi smirked at the sight of Chisaki’s face being ravaged by his flames.
“So then she gets the idea to start baking the people he gets to shave into her pies.” Chizue explained to Toga. “It’s a pretty dramatic story, but every time I see it all I can think about is how people would taste as meat pies.”
“Do you think I’d make a good pie?” Toga asked.
“I don’t see why not.”
They were lounging together on a thin mat; Chizue had laid it out on the concrete floor so they could have some semblance of comfort while she showed the younger woman some self defense moves, though she knew it wasn’t really necessary. Chizue had a feeling Toga really only asked because she was worried to leave her alone.
“Oh Toga, I forgot to say thank you for the ice cream.”
Toga turned her head and lowered her phone. “What ice cream?”
“The one you gave me.” Chizue replied.
Chizue didn’t say anything for a moment. “I’ve been really forgetful lately; I could have sworn you bought it.”
“Have you been able to eat like usual?”
Chizue frowned; when did Toga get so cheeky?
“I really am, but it’s hard. It’s...it’s just weird. She’ll never call me Chi-sweetie again.”
“Yeah.” Toga agreed softly as she stretched out. “It is weird. It’s like Big sis Magne just vanished; I keep expecting her to just come bursting in and telling you how awful your fashion sense is.”
“Thanks for the pep talk.”
“Well, these aren’t exactly what I’d choose to wear.” Toga picked at the collar of her loose, plain grey tshirt.
“A skirt and cardigan isn’t exactly the best thing to wear when learning wrestling.” Chizue reminded her with a pout; that morning Toga was the one who insisted on joining her training session, but Chizue only let her on the condition she wear something more fitting for the exercises.
“Where did you even get these?”
“Oh. Well, they fit you just fine.”
“That doesn’t sound better.” Chizue mumbled, though Toga did have a point; the sweats she had lent Toga were at least two sized too big. “So did you get to talk to Deku?”
“Sort of.” Toga was the one pouting now, something that mad Chizue laugh lightly. “It’s not funny. I wish we could have talked at least a little more, but duty called. You should have seen him Chizue-chan, he’s super strong.”
“Deku huh? Weird name.”
“It’s his codename.” Toga relaxed and began scrolling through the articles she had saved in her drive; all of the mentioned Deku in some way, or had a picture of his face. “I hope I can see him again soon.”
Chizue’s smile fell; she sat up to look at Toga directly. “I don’t mean to put a damper on your Romeo and Juliet thing, but you realize we’re probably gonna have to kill him at some point?”
“No, if anyone’s going to kill him, it’s going to be me!” Toga got up and folded her arms crossly. “Chizue-chan, don’t get in my way.”
While the teenager’s words were meant to be threatening, the childish quality of her face threw off the demand.
Chizue nodded and tried not to laugh. “Don’t worry, he’s all yours.”
Toga grinned again happily and resumed a more relaxed posture. “Chizue-chan, can I ask some advice? You like boys don’t you?”
“Sure I do.”
“Have you ever been in love?”
Chizue shook her head. “I can’t say I have. To be fair, I’m not sure I’d know if I had. I guess it’s one of those things you just have to experience to get it, so I’m not sure if I should be telling you how to deal with this Deku guy.”
“I just have to see him again.” Toga declared. “I wonder if there’s any way I can make contact again.”
“Toga, I wouldn’t push it.” Chizue warned. “If you go off on your own now with everything that’s happened...well, I just don’t think it’s a good idea.”
“I was able to infiltrate the Yuuei class licensing thing all on my own.” Toga said lightly. “No one suspected a thing.”
“Fine. Go off on your own when everyone’s alert.” Chizue told her stiffly. “What could possibly go wrong?”
Chizue’s glare fell once Toga looked at her with slightly wary confusion.
“Oh...Toga I’m sorry. Shit, I...I’m still kind of wound up.” Chizue drew her knees to her chest and exhaled heavily. “I know we’re doing things that could get us killed. I’m dumb, but I’m not naive. But I don’t want to risk anyone dying if it can be prevented; this is the first place I haven’t felt unwanted.”
Toga scooted over and took Chizue’s hand from her knee. “I’ll try not to make you worry.”
“Thanks. Sorry again.”
Toga leaned into her hard shoulder. “Me too. I miss Big sis Magne. But at least we got ‘em back for her.”
“Yeah, but it didn’t bring her back. She’s gone.”
Toga nodded. “Chizue-chan, can you show me how to knee pick?”
“Ankle pick.” Chizue smiled. “And sure, no problem. I think we’ve rested long enough.”
“I’m all set!”
“Wait a sec, we still need to stretch.” Chizue cautioned. “You should always try to warm up and end exercise with some stretches.”
“You’ll thank me when you aren’t getting cramps afterward. Besides, it helps flexibility; wrestling isn’t all about who has the bigger muscles. If you knew the right moves, you could take me down no problem.”
“Yeah, okay.” Toga conceded.
But before they could get down to their warm up, the steel door opened with a loud squeaking, it’s weight only being supported by rusted hinges. Dabi walked in and left it open, his eyes sliding from Toga’s face to Chizue’s idly.
“Dabi’s skin reminds me of rust.” Chizue thought absently.
“Hey Chizu, I just got back and saw those flowers are wilting.”
Last week Chizue had been able to purchase a small bouquet of lilies for Magne’s grave; she thought they would look much better than the browning dandelions, and she had heard those were the kind typically used for gravesites.
“Already? Oh no, I forgot to water them yesterday.” Chizue recalled with a light smack to her forehead. “Dammit, that’s what I get for skipping my second breakfast. Hey Toga, just get started without me, I’ll be back in a bit. And don’t forget, continuous stretches, but not to the point of tearing anything.”
“Okay, okay.” Toga said with a playful salute as Chizue left to go take care of the lilies.
“Did you ask her to teach you some moves or something?”
“Yep! Deku’s really good at hand-to-hand combat ya know, so I want to impress him next time we meet.”
Dabi made a sound of disapproval in his throat.
“What?” Toga was smiling, but on the inside she was getting ready to go on the defensive.
“Chizu hasn’t been in the best shape lately; give her some space.”
Toga put her hands on her hips. “I’m not bugging her, Chizue-chan wanted to teach me. She even gave me spare clothes to train in.”
Dabi’s brow furrowed. “Her clothes?”
“Now I won’t mess up my uniform. Chizue-chan is feeling lonely anyway; us girls have to help each other out, right?” Toga giggled.
“Whatever.” Dabi stuffed his hands in his jean pockets. “No point trying to make a psycho see reason.”
“Huh?! I’m not doing anything!”
Dabi ignored her and continued on his way back to his own room; he knew that Chizue was likely spending time with Toga in order to have some sort of distraction. It was easier for her to only deal with so many complex emotions a bit at a time; unlike the others in the League, Toga was more than open to talking things out, even though her thought process wasn’t exactly fit for rational sense and reason.
Still, it was obvious to anyone that Chizue was still feeling vulnerable from the incident with the Eight Precepts, Magne’s death in particular. She of course wouldn’t feel as comfortable showing these emotions to the other members. If Dabi hadn’t overheard her and Toga talking, and if he was less perceptive, he might not have been able to tell how Chizue was still out of sorts.
Dabi thought of how she curled up in a little ball, as if to shield herself, and then how Toga had so casually leaned up against her despite her body language saying the last thing she wanted was close contact.
And on that note, why was Toga wearing her clothes? A teenage girl who was fashion conscious surely had at least one tshirt of her own lying around somewhere.
Dabi’s stare dulled as he stopped to look outside the busted window; he was in the middle of a long hallway leading to the room he tended to retreat to if he needed space. The only window nearby was large and dusty and cracked; it faced the field that now contained Magne’s corpse under the dry soil and dying grass. The only speck of bright color was the white lilies Chizue had dug into the spot above the grave.
Dabi looked closer; Chizue was on her knees and trying to fluff up the petals, as though that would return some of their vitality. He chuckled under his breath, doubting whether she even knew the first thing about taking care of plant life despite how much she shoved into her mouth on a daily basis. Still, she did manage to keep them alive and pretty for a bit; the flowers were the only thing even worth looking at outside the barren landscape and crumbling architecture surrounding their own building.
Dabi looked on as Chizue brought her hand to her forehead harshly; it appeared she had ripped off one of the flower buds by accident.
“Well, maybe not the only thing worth looking at.”
Nothing really surprised Dabi anymore; that being said, he had not expected Chizue capable of showing such emotion, even if she was struggling to identify and sort out just what she was feeling. It was like watching a child have to handle anger or disappointment for the first time; she was maturing right in front of his eyes, and Chizue didn’t even seem to be aware of it. Or maybe she did, but was confused over it.
It was actually almost pathetic, watching someone so assured and stunted trying to figure out their own mind. Dabi might have laughed, but then he remembered how Chizue hadn’t actually shown any of this to him.
It was Toga who she spoke to and became somewhat protective over, and it was her Chizue had allowed to see as vulnerable and overwhelmed. Chizue had hardly even spoken to Dabi since he had brought her ice cream at Magne’s grave. She hadn’t thought twice about Toga denying it had been her to bring the snack; either she couldn’t care less or she didn’t think anything suspicious of the fact Dabi had lied.
Chizue might have assumed he just didn’t want her thinking he was doing her any favors, seeing as how he didn’t quite trust her. Even now she could be thinking that Dabi only felt sorry for her and decided to do something to cheer her up with no ulterior motivations to speak of. It made him smile, just a bit; for all her wrath and skewed morality, Chizue was pretty innocent. It’d make things more fun, if nothing else.
“Now if only certain people would just stay out of my way...”
“Dammit. Sorry Yuudai, I’m just not feeling it.”
Chizue let out a soft, exasperated sigh, flopping her head back on the bed in defeat; the man who went by Yuudai stopped and raised his head from in between her thighs. Chizue wasn’t sure if that name was actually legitimate or one he went by during work hours, but it was all she knew him as.
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, I’m sure.” Chizue grumbled tiredly as she pulled her legs from his hands.
Yuudai brushed back his bangs and scooted up to where she was on the bed; the single mattress was only meant for one person at a time, but that never stopped them before. Now that Yuudai thought about it, he couldn’t ever remember a time Chizue had cut their session short in the past.
“If you don’t mind waiting a bit, I can get you off like usual.” Yuudai looked down at her with a half sly smile, his hand already going to pump his member back to life. “Come on, you already paid for a full night and all you’ve done is suck me off.”
“I’m just not in the mood. I’ve been feeling pretty out of it in general lately.” Chizue sighed once more and batted his hand away from her breast. “I think I’ll just call it a night and get some sleep.”
“Nah. Besides, don’t you have any other customers today?”
Chizue didn’t want to draw attention to the fact she was pretty much residing with wanted criminals; she wasn’t quite sure how Yuudai would take the news she was a recent member of a organization made up of notorious villains, but she didn’t want to chance it.
But then again, her meal preferences never bothered him; with this line of reasoning, Chizue could guess that the news she had become a part of the League would sound tame in comparison.
Yuudai had gone so far as to tell Chizue how it was the ultimate turn on to push himself past her lips with the knowledge of what else her mouth was capable of doing to human flesh; Chizue thought he was a bit touched in the head. It was certainly ironic how many times she had to be the one to tell Yuudai to watch how he used his teeth half the time; some nights he practically gnawed at her skin until it was all she could do to not smack him over the head like a rabid dog. Still, Chizue wasn’t about to throw around judgements; if the man got his kicks from playing with fire, it was still hardly anything compared to things she had done.
“I don’t have any sure plans going on later.” Yuudai stretched out on the left side of the bed, not bothering to grab even his boxers from the floor. Chizue had to keep from rolling her eyes; no doubt he was certain that if he showed his body off long enough it would get her back in the mood.
Not that it hadn’t worked before, but Yuudai was so blatantly obvious, despite being under the impression he was being subtle. Chizue sometimes wondered whether he was that confident or if displaying seductive body language was just second nature to the man.
“Have you been eating like normal?”
“I have.” Chizue chuckled as she reached for her sweatshirt hanging over the bed post; she had already managed to locate her crumpled jeans. After a moment of thinking, Chizue decided to just stuff her thin cotton bra into the back pocket of her pants than deal with clasping the hooks behind her or asking Yuudai to help; the cloth for her sweater was thick enough not to make her lack of one apparent and she knew the man would just try to convince her to go braless.
“You sure about that?”
“Sure I’m sure. Why do you ask?”
“Things slip your mind when you don’t eat enough. Like forgetting to put your panties on before your jeans.”
“Huh?” Chizue had just gotten done slipping the sweatshirt over her head in time to see Yuudai dangling her underwear by his pointer finger. She sent him a half hearted glare and lunged to grab it back.
“Come on, do you even need panties? There’s no point in wearing them here.”
“I’m going out now though, so give them back.”
Yuudai just smirked teasingly and held the garment out of her reach. “You can get them next time.”
Chizue lowered her arm in defeat. “Whatever, it’s not like anyone can tell. So how much do I owe you?”
“Nothing.” Yuudai looked perplexed. “You didn’t even get off.”
“Eh, it still felt good.” Chizue told him as she sat criss cross on the edge of the bed. “If you won’t take the usual payment, how about next time you just buy the pizza?”
As expected, Yuudai’s cheeks went from possessing a clear, healthy glow to pale as a ghost.
“No way, I’ll go broke!”
Yuudai didn’t bother to bring up that Chizue was the one who ate the majority of the food she had delivered on the nights she spent with him; not that he was complaining, not as long as she was buying her own sustenance. Depending on what and how much she ate, Chizue’s stamina was unmatched.
“Then just take the usual. Besides, I hope I didn’t make you feel weird.” Chizue smiled bashfully as she handed over few notes of yen.
Yuudai took them with a shrug. “I should be saying that; it feels like you’re paying me for getting off on your mouth. Don’t tell me I’m losing my edge? Unless you’ve gotten some other guy on the side to take care of you now.”
“Oh sure, you know me; every day I have to beat them off with a stick.” Chizue joked but Yuudai’s expression was skeptical. “Really, it’s nothing. I haven’t been myself, that’s all.”
“Well don’t get stuck in a rut forever; you’re probably my favorite customer.” Yuudai said as he shoved the money under his pillow for the time being.
Chizue laughed sincerely. “‘Probably?’ Do I get a ribbon for participation or something?”
Her laughter didn’t cease when Yuudai pounced; he was pressing himself against her with a cocky grin, stifling a moan at the painful pleasure he got off rubbing himself against the rough fabric of her jeans.
“I’ll give you something better if you stick around a bit longer; forget going home, you won’t be able to walk across the room.”
Chizue looked up at him, not feeling intimidated in the least despite the way he had shoved her on her back with ease; they both knew if she really wanted to, it wouldn’t be her who left the room limping.
“Sorry, no dice.” she tapped his cheek and slid out from under him, narrowly missing bumping her head on his chin.
“Okay, okay, have it your way.”
Yuudai exhaled dramatically and rolled over to let her up. He knew Chizue hadn’t meant anything by it, but the fact he couldn’t even make her lose control with his tongue was a bit of a sting; especially considering how long it had been since he had gotten a good lay and how hot and heavy she had been not minutes before while seeing to his arousal.
“I’ll come around when I get the chance.” Chizue waved as she slipped on her sneakers.
“You sure you’re not sick?”
“I sure hope not.” Chizue said vaguely as she bent down to tie the laces loose on her right shoe. “Don’t worry Yuudai, I wouldn’t give you a cold if I could help it.”
“True; idiots aren’t supposed to be able to get sick anyway.”
“Exactly, so don’t-hey!”
Chizue flipped him off before shutting the door behind her, but not before hearing him snickering at his own joke.
“Well, he had a point. I have been an idiot. I need to snap out of this; my body feels so sluggish.”
The first thing she would do once arriving at the base would be to make a nice, hearty meal, with plenty of meat. Chizue tried to remember if there was anything she would need to pick up, but her mind was a blank, though she hoped it was because there was really not due to her fogged up brain.
“Lots of beef; maybe I’ll spring for steak with eggs.”
Chizue felt her optimism get chipped at when she passed the flowers in the patch of soil for the grave site.
“No, no, no. I have to get it together. Bis sis would never want this; I’m sure she’d have smacked me over the head with that giant magnet if she knew I blew off a hot guy like Yuudai before we even got to the good part.”
Chizue couldn’t help chuckling aloud at her own awkward phrasing; no doubt the older woman would have found it amusing as well.
“That’s right. Magne was someone who wanted to enjoy life and be herself, no matter what. I’d just be even more stupid to spend my time moping. The League needs me in good shape; I won’t help anyone acting this way.”
If there was one thing Chizue could easily understand, it was that no matter what happened in one individual’s life, time just didn’t stop to let them drag their feet and wallow in their own misery.
“You’re looking chipper.”
“Oh hey.” Chizue walked past Dabi with a brief smile; she almost hadn’t seen him in the dimmed hallway. The building’s lights just barely worked and most rooms weren’t lit at all.
“What, can’t stop to chat?”
Chizue paused. “What did you want to talk about?”
Dabi was leaning up against the wall; the thought that he might have been waiting for her to return crossed her mind. What other reason would he have to be hanging around the dingy hallway? It was surely not for the scenery.
“Did something happen?” Chizue felt anxiety well up in her stomach. “Don’t tell me someone else came up in here to cause trouble?”
“Relax.” Dabi tilted his head just so as Chizue sighed in relief. “Had a fun night?”
Chizue’s expression went from confusion to sudden comprehension when Dabi lightly tapped the side of his own neck.
“Heh, you could say that.” Chizue put a hand to her neck with a sheepish grin, internally wishing she had been paying more attention during her brief time with Yuudai. She was positive if she had a mirror to look in right now she would see a darkened spot not too different than a bruise on the otherwise unmarked skin of her neck. “Dammit, I bet that asshole made sure it’d be hard to hide too. Man, does he ever get sick of messing with me?”
“Didn’t peg you as the type to get serious.”
“Oh no, it’s nothing like that.” Chizue laughed somewhat nervously; it felt out of place speaking to Dabi about such a subject, even vaguely. Actually, it was a bit unnerving to have a conversation with him at all; Dabi was probably one of more reserved, if not the most reserved, members of the League.
“I get it. But ya know, trying to distract yourself from your thoughts will only put a band aid on the problem; you’d be better off just dealing with them head on.”
Chizue was dumbstruck; was it really so obvious, all the things weighing on her mind or was Dabi just that observant?
“Oh right, he doesn’t trust me much yet, does he? Dabi would be wanting to make sure I wasn’t cracking up; he has his own reasons for being here. I’m sure the last thing he wants is for one weak link to screw us all up when it counts.”
Chizue made a note to be more vigilant from then on. “Yeah, you’re probably right. Still, it doesn’t hurt to have a little fun now and then.” she laughed and began to walk away to where they stored their food. “I’m gonna make myself something to eat before I waste away.”
“How much fun can you have if you catch something from a person you hardly know?”
Dabi didn’t look the least bit abashed at Chizue’s affronted glare. “I’m just sayin’, if you’re gonna mess around, you might want to play it safe.”
Chizue wasn’t sure how to take his statement; this was the most she had heard out of Dabi’s mouth since she joined the League.
“Just ‘cause I’m not dating the asshole, doesn’t mean I throw caution to the wind. I’m not that stupid and neither is he. He does it for a living, if anyone knows about using caution it’s him.”
“That’s not what I mean.”
Chizue couldn’t see all of Dabi’s features too well in the dark; now that the sun was disappearing over the horizon. She could only just make out the slight quirk of his lips from how his stitches glinted in the faint light.
“Maybe you’d have an easier time using a distraction that’s closer to home. If that’s-” Dabi nodded to the spot where Chizue assumed she was marked. “What it takes to get your mind off things, I think I got a way to give you better results.”
“Huh, maybe you’re right. There are other ways.” Chizue frowned and scratched her head. “I could always just go bar hopping...but I’d rather spend the money on sex right off the bat instead of getting drinks and only maybe having a chance to leave with someone.”
Dabi’s mouth opened and closed for the briefest of moments; he was staring at her like it was all he could do to not just walk away from the conversation entirely. Luckily, Chizue was already strolling down the hall, saving him the hassle.
“I’m hungry now though. Night, I’m going to make some steaks.”
Dabi grunted noncommentedly in response as Chizue rounded the corner and vanished out of his sight. But then, it was probably for the best. If he had to look at that mark for one more second, he was pretty sure someone would have to bear the brunt of his irritation.
“Pain in the ass. I gotta do something to get rid of this tension.”
Dabi propped himself up from his slump to head for the entrance of the base to retrace his steps. From what he had overheard, Yuudai should still be at his apartment.
He decided to take his own advice; after all, what better way to handle stress than to go right to the source?
On the second or so day of Chizue’s recruitment, Magne had noticed Dabi’s wariness and decided it might be fun to break the ice with a little prank.
That day she had used her Quirk to stick Spinner and Chizue and Twice and Toga together at the sides for a three legged race; it was just a fun, harmless activity to pass the time while they waited for Shigaraki to make his next move. They were bored and the five of them were definitely the most socially forward of the League, so they all agreed to have a friendly competition to see who was the fastest pair. Dabi had stumbled on them right in the middle of their game; it was an odd sight to be sure, but he really couldn’t care less what his comrades did in their spare time. He just wanted to get some peace and quiet.
Magne was having none of his distant attitude that day though; after Toga and Twice were declared the winners, she had separated them all and said they could have a two out of three match. With a grin, she offered Dabi a chance to join in, but he flatly refused, to which Magne responded by magnetizing him and Chizue. In seconds they were flying toward each other none too gently, Chizue’s cheek colliding with his chest, front stuck to his own, and Dabi sending Magne a withering look that said if she was smart she would cut it out.
But it wasn’t Toga and Magne’s giggle fit, Spinner’s secondhand embarrassment, or Twice’s wisecracks that got to him.
Before Dabi could tell Magne off, Chizue herself was staring the woman down and demanding she release them before she woke up with her limbs fried and served for Chizue’s lunch. Magne obliged, shrugging off the out of character reaction and attempting to diffuse the situation by making a joke that Chizue wasn’t the first to think she looked good enough to eat.
But Dabi had noticed the look that passed through Chizue’s eyes the second her gaze properly landed on him; he had heard the shrill note of panic and anxiety laced with the burst of anger. Since then, Dabi had made note that Chizue couldn’t seem to stand looking at him for more than a few seconds at a time. Dabi was no stranger to the reaction, but not so used to it that he wasn’t able to immediately catch on.
Chizue was frightened of him, or more accurately, she was disgusted.
The night was still young when Dabi returned to Yuudai’s out of the way apartment complex; the building was located in a questionable area, so it wasn’t hard for Dabi to go about and not have anyone scrutinize him too closely; if anyone did recognize him, they didn’t care, though it might have just been the air about him. People knew better than to approach.
With how oddly Chizue had been acting, Dabi knew he wouldn’t be disappointed in what he would find out by tailing her on her nighty excursions. Typically Chizue seemed to just wander about, going to some restaurant or a run down food stand; lately it was mainly aimless strolls in condensed areas, which were ideal for him to not be noticed in the crowd that surrounded her. And then that very evening Chizue had switched gears and headed to a whole other area; Dabi did nothing as she was buzzed into the apartment complex, or when he climbed the fire escape stairs to peer into each window before seeing her profile through broken blinds.
Even then, despite the stab of pure hate that made his vision almost blur, Dabi still didn’t do a thing; he only stayed hidden, watching Chizue use her so often preoccupied mouth to pleasure another man. He didn't come out, not even when she allowed her clothes to be practically yanked off in the man’s frenzy to obtain access to her most sensitive areas. Dabi kept silent and looked on as the man’s slender, unblemished hands parted her thighs and his teeth and lips proceeded to mark up Chizue like he was staking a claim.
It had in fact occurred to Dabi that this was exactly what Yuudai had in mind and why he was trying so adamantly to get Chizue to stay despite her having already handed over the money without any fuss.
Dabi knew how to observe the little things, but then, maybe he could see it because he and Yuudai had a common desire. He could see it in the way the man was prolonging Chizue’s departure, the way he was taking his time and trying so hard to coax her body to submit even though his own urges were satisfied, in the way his teeth practically tore at her skin.
Dabi almost thought he would have to step in himself when Yuudai had tried to cage Chizue to the mattress; the only reason he refrained from smashing in the window was because he didn’t want Chizue there for what retribution he had in store for the man's offense. It would just make her that much more fearful and how would that help him?
But whatever his feelings, Dabi couldn’t look away either; the intense waves of irritation and envy were no match for the simple fact he wanted to take this chance to see Chizue turned on. It was actually surprisingly easy to reign in his wrath through imagining himself in Yuudai’s spot.
Dabi preoccupied himself by wondering if she was soft inside. Chizue’s solid build had a surprising amount of give, as he had found out during that dumb prank; her cheeks alone looked squishy, even when she sucked hard and made them hollow out while she bobbed her head back and forth on her partner's length. It was impossible not to notice and even more impossible not to envision Chizue trapped in his arms, squirming under his body instead of some host club reject pushover who was willing to let her walk out.
Dabi wouldn’t be as lenient. The night wouldn’t be over until she was a shaking, sobbing mess who could only cling to him as he had his way with her. If all else failed, maybe he’d just make her touch him; in the event Chizue really was as scared of him as Dabi assumed, then she might end up crying in his arms either way. If she didn’t fight too much, he’d even go slow for the first few minutes; at any rate, it wasn’t like Chizue would be able to see his face if it was buried between her thighs.
“First things first.”
Dabi looked down at Yuudai as he slept without a care in the world; he was in more modest state, but that wasn’t saying much. The blankets were halfway off the bed, doing nothing to hide the fact the man was only wearing a pair of boxers; on the bed next to him was a few rolled up tissues and a bit of cloth balled up in his grip.
Without bothering with any intention to keep Yuudai from waking up, Dabi pulled the now wrinkled pair of panties from the loosened fingers.
“Looks like she forgot these.” Dabi said absently as he felt the soft, almost silky texture with his own hand; there was a slightly damp spot from when she had been rubbed through the cotton. “Ya know, you really shouldn’t take what isn’t yours.”
In ten minutes Dabi was a few blocks away from the chaos without anyone so much as getting a glimpse of his face; later reports in the news would talk about the mysterious fire breaking out in an apartment building in the middle of the night for no foreseeable reason. The residents would all be taken safely from the burning wreckage, excluding one unidentified man whose body was missing some parts.
Chizue jumped at the small package tossed in her lap; Dabi stood at the entrance to the kitchen with a dull, but expectant stare,
“What is it?”
“A snack. I got these dried meat strips, but the flavors off to me. Thought a bottomless pit like you could get rid of it for me.
“Waste not want not.” Chizue smiled and made brief eye contact. “Thanks, I was craving jerky.”
Dried meat was simple enough for anyone to make, even someone not well versed in cooking like Dabi was; it had been a bit annoying, but when all was said and done, it had been worth the trouble.
“Yeah, it is!” Chizue finished the strips in less than a minute. “Is this pork? Tastes like pork.”
Dabi’s eyes followed the tip of her tongue that darted out to lick the spices from her lips and understood what real hunger was when she was able to look at him for longer than five seconds.
When Dabi said he wanted to turn Chizue into a sobbing wreck, walking in on her crying over a cardboard box while Toga comforted her with a half hug wasn’t what he had in mind.
“Dabi-kun, stop sneaking around, I’m trying to talk to Chizue-chan.” Toga had on her ever present smile, but it was considerably mask like once she caught sight of him coming around the corner.
“I’m not. I was just coming in and I heard noises.”
Dabi zoned in on the delicate arm placed tight around Chizue’s meaty shoulders and took pleasure in imagining throttling Toga until she was a pretty little bloodstain on the ground.
“What’s up with her?” Dabi asked, giving every impression he was only inquiring out of a flimsy sense of obligation for stumbling on the two.
“Chizue-chan’s friend died. If you’re going to be mean, then buzz off.”
“It-it’s okay Toga. I shouldn’t even be acting like this.” Chizue was desperately trying to wipe her dripping nose before it could leak out; she was holding a now tear stained pink handkerchief that Dabi suspected she didn’t own.
“You’re not acting. You’re sad.”
Chizue managed a half smile. “And it’s not helping.”
Dabi’s tore his eyes from her face to give the box in her lap a once over; Chizue didn’t notice. She had barely looked at him.
“Is that their’s?”
Chizue sniffed. “You remember the other night when I came in late? The guy, Yuudai, his landlord said there was a fire. They don’t know if it was a gas leak or what, the building’s a piece of shit and...well, I went by today and heard he died in his room. This is some of what wasn’t burned.”
Chizue gestured to the cardboard box; it was singed at the top flaps, but otherwise it looked in decent shape. Inside was a notebook, some papers, change, and a photograph bent at one of the corners.
Toga looked inside with a curious look. “Hey, is that you?”
They both looked at Dabi, but he didn’t pay attention to their odd stares at his sudden inquiry; he was studying the photograph closely and it was just as Toga said. Right there in color was Chizue’s smiling face, her grin cheeky as ever as she flipped off the camera; there was an odd red stain on the side of her mouth, like sauce.
“Oh yeah.” Chizue nodded as she picked up the picture. “Yuudai was messing around with this disposable camera thing. He said he didn’t like taking photos on his phone, that he rather have them on paper. I...I thought he threw this out. It was such a dumb picture, and-”
Another sudden, but brief sob left Chizue lips; she covered her face with her hands in shame and turned away. Toga looked almost alarmed.
“I-I shouldn’t have looked, but I didn’t know it was his journal,” Chizue stammered and sputtered weakly as she curled in on herself. “He asked me not to go that night; if I stayed maybe...I could have...”
Toga opened her mouth to say something, but nothing came out; all she could do was watch blankly as Chizue used her already soaked handkerchief to wipe her stinging eyes.
“I’m so stupid. I don’t even know his real name; I never bothered to ask, I treated him like he-he-”
“He only did it for money in the first place.” Dabi pointed out blandly. “And you didn’t care about him, so what does it matter?”
“What does it matter? He burned alive; how can I not be upset?!” Chizue let the box fall on the ground with a loud bang.
Dabi stared at her ominously and frowned; why was she getting mad at him?
Toga was beginning to look upset herself, her smile long gone from her face. “Dabi-kun, go away, you’re making Chizue-chan feel worse. It doesn’t matter how it happened, he loved her, and now he’s dead. Of course she’d feel bad.”
Dabi held back a sneer; what was Toga even talking about? She didn’t know a thing about the situation. Why was little miss murder suspect acting so compassionate anyway? Her idea of a relationship was draining the other person dry like a vampire and becoming their doppleganger.
On that note, he couldn’t understand why Chizue was getting this way over someone she basically used like a glorified sex toy. Or was it possible she felt bad because of it?
Was it even possible she had feelings but never acted on them due to the nature of their ‘relationship’? Sure, Chizue seemed friendly enough with Yuudai, but it wasn’t as if he was someone important to her, like how Magne had been a trusted comrade.
Yuudai was nothing, even less than that; whatever his feelings had been, how were they any of Chizue’s concern? Dabi couldn’t understand it; it was just nonsense, but apparently Toga was able to, at least enough where she could lend Chizue a comforting ear and a shoulder to cry on.
“I guess she’s like this ‘cause of me.”
Dabi didn’t feel guilty in the slightest; in his opinion, Chizue’s behavior was irrational and unwarranted. If anything, he felt annoyed. Dabi thought he had taken care of the problem, but it seemed he might have only created another obstacle.
Chizue barely spared him a glance; Dabi wondered whether he could pass off incinerating the box as an accident.
“Why not get in contact with his family? If that’s all was left, they might want it.” Dabi suggested; it would at least get the trash out of his sight.
“The landlord told me he didn’t know who else to give the stuff to; he said Yuudai never mentioned family, the only person he ever mentioned was…”
Chizue held the photograph in both hands; the tears had ceased, but her eyes had taken on a dull sort of quality, as if she had cried out all the life from them.
“He said in the journal he hated me ‘cause I never stayed longer. He said...he wished we could have met some other way, because I only saw him as a prostitute. All this time and I never even asked his real name. It never even crossed my mind and now he’s six feet under.”
“But Yuudai-kun never told you, right? And it’s not like you set his building on fire.” Toga pointed out cheerfully. “I think it’s pretty sweet, like something out of a romance novel.”
Chizue couldn’t help the laugh that escaped her; the attempts to cheer her up were well meaning, if not strange. “Toga, I’m pretty sure most of those kind of stories don’t end like this. I swear, I really am dumb. And I know, it’s not my fault, but...it’s just shit timing.”
Chizue leaned back on her hands and exhaled like she had been holding her breath; Toga moved away to give her a little space.
“You mean after Big sis Magne…?”
Chizue nodded. “Maybe I’m jinxed. I ate the wrong person and their family put a curse on me so people I like get killed. Or maybe…”
Before she could finish, Chizue clicked her tongue and stood up, taking the bent box with her.
“Thanks Toga, Dabi. I’m okay. I’m still in shock honestly.” Chizue flashed them a smile. “I should go eat something; starving myself isn’t going to make me feel any better.”
Toga returned the smile but Dabi didn’t bother even making eye contact; he knew she wasn’t, and he honestly couldn’t stand to see anymore of her tears. It was little more than a slap in the face for her to be mourning Yuudai’s death.
“Huh, that’s funny. This is the fourth person Chizue-chan knows that’s burned alive.” Toga said absently. “Wow, maybe she is cursed. I didn’t think that stuff was even real.”
Dabi blinked. “What are you talking about?”
“Chizue-chan’s told me her parents and friend died in a house fire accident; she said she only got out ‘cause she ate them to get strong enough to bust out on her own.” Toga relayed the story to him like it was a particularly interesting piece of gossip. “Crazy, right?”
“Yeah.” Dabi turned away and continued to walk in the direction he was before getting distracted. “Or enough to drive someone crazy. Now wonder that woman’s a freak.”
Toga giggled. “I like Chizue-chan, but that’s pretty wild; I wonder if she ever took a bite out of that Yuudai-kun? If I ate people, I’d only eat someone like Mr. Stainy or Deku-kun.”
“No surprise there.”
But secretly, Dabi was a bit impressed; Chizue was cut throat and determined enough to survive that she’d devour the flesh of her own family to make it out of a tight spot.
On the other hand, he had an idea just why it was so hard for her to look at him; if she harbored any guilt for her past actions, it could be likely his face reminded her of the ones of her deceased family and friend, and not because she was inherently disgusted with his features.
“If that’s it, would Chizu even be able to make the connection? Probably not, and even if she did, it wouldn’t change things.”
The real irony was that while Chizue had no way of knowing it was Dabi who had disposed of Yuudai in the first place, her discomfort with him would only be cemented and his face would serve an awful reminder of yet another painful event in her life.
“In short, I mighta just screwed myself over.”
There was a bit of a silver lining though; it would seem killing Yuudai had served a purpose if what Chizue had read was true. Dabi wasn’t an expert, but he was pretty sure sex workers didn’t usually hide away pictures of their clients or practically beg them to stay the night. Whatever the result, he knew he had taken the right course of action.
“But what now? What’s stopping her from just going to someone else?”
Dabi didn’t have the time or energy to just continuously be picking off every threat; there had to be a more straightforward way to resolve this issue.
“What a hassle. I didn’t ask for this shit.”
None of this was meant to be happening in the first place; part of Dabi was even hoping he was going insane himself. But the fact was he knew denial and feigned ignorance would only make things that harder. It wouldn’t solve his dilemma or make the thoughts in his head go away, no matter what his actions or words.
“It won’t change the way I feel about her.”
Telling himself Chizue was just another comrade, and a loony one at that, wouldn’t make him feel less angry or envious of how she conversed with Toga or really just anyone in the League who wasn’t him. It wouldn’t change how he had clenched his fists hard enough to make his nails dig into his palms to the point of drawing blood when he saw another man pin her down. Pretending that he didn’t want to be in the same place wouldn’t make the desire fade and ignoring Chizue wouldn’t make it so she wasn’t clouding his thoughts when she was absent.
It would be more efficient to actually do something about it though; the sooner Dabi did, the sooner he could regain his focus and not waste precious time.
“Chizu isn’t going to respond to something subtle; if she’s under stress and angry, chances are she’ll miss it completely.”
The only good news was that despite his cold front, Chizue didn’t seem to dislike him personally, whether or not she was able to stand the sight of him. Dabi knew he only had himself to blame for seeming unapproachable; no doubt she was under the impression he didn’t want to be bothered. Chizue may not be the brightest of bulbs when it came to reading between the lines or having a poor memory, but she did have enough sense and instinct to read a room and the moods of the people there.
Dabi cursed under his breath; in the end, it just couldn’t be helped.
“It’s pretty dull, but I guess I have to take a more direct route.”
Despite Chizue’s brave face, the ensuing days made it plain that her attitude was just that; a mask she plastered onto herself in a vain attempt to make herself seem like she was perfectly fine and would get over her mourning phase without any fussle.
But this phase only seemed to go on and on. Each morning Chizue would eat half the portions she typically would, gain back some of her energy and stamina, and then proceed to reluctantly throw it all back up within the next few hours. This pattern would repeat itself during the day and in retaliation Chizue would just eat more to gain back what was lost; unfortunately, this would only result in more nausea and whatever she managed to eat would end up coming right back up on her.
Chizue assumed the source of her ailment must have been due to some sort of stomach flu; she found herself plagued with headaches and exhaustion, though she really couldn’t tell if these symptoms were the result of her loss of appetite. Eventually it got to the point Chizue decided the best and only thing she could do was eat the plainest foods possible in little amounts throughout the day; rice, bread, boiled chicken, water, repeat.
Shigaraki oddly enough didn’t make any comment on this development; every now and then he would fix her with a strange look in passing, but Chizue supposed he didn’t see much point in giving her grief for something she couldn’t actually control. If she was sick and her Quirk was suffering for it, there wasn’t a lot to be done, at least nothing that could be solved by scolding her. All he did was tell her to make sure to not put herself in a spot where she’d be vulnerable and Chizue couldn’t agree more; at this rate she was just able to pin Toga in their wrestling spars.
She couldn’t shake it, no matter what she tried; with each passing day, her condition seemed to just get worse and worse. A little less food here and there, headaches lasting a little longer than the one before, a few more minutes less of sleep each night.
Chizue spent the majority of her time holed up a room she had claimed as a sort of bedroom; she would try to get some rest and remember that she couldn’t even ease herself with a drink. Alcohol churned her stomach up faster than anything else. Her muscles were beginning to turn soft and the fat she did have was near nonexistent; the glow in her complexion was pretty much gone and replaced with light shadows under her eyes.
Perhaps this was because even when Chizue did succeed in getting a few hours of sleep, her mind was conjuring up the smell of burning fat and ashes; after these dreams, the first thing she would do is throw up in the trash can set right next to her futon and she couldn’t go back to sleep.
And while Chizue had no idea why this was happening to her, Dabi knew.
Dabi looked to the side discreetly as he got himself a cup of water from the busted water tap; he had walked in on Chizue midway through puking up her guts, bent over on her knees on the floor by the corner. Apparently she wasn’t even able to make it to one of the bathrooms.
There were a number of reasons why Chizue was in her current state, but it didn’t take Dabi having a genius intellect to connect the dots. After all, the beginning of Chizue’s morose behavior and change in diet had first been altered by Magne’s untimely death, and just when she was seeing progress, Yuudai met a similarly gruesome end and it all went steadily went downhill.
“You’re an idiot. You’re letting yourself get weak over this? You’re killing yourself over nothing.”
With one last wretch, the remains of Chizue’s meager breakfast were gone; Dabi said nothing in the ensuing silence, listening to her harsh pants.
Then a soft sob escaped her lips and she doubled over farther until her forehead was almost touching the ground. Chizue’s body looked to be giving out on her. She was barely able to contain her frustration as she smacked a hand on the ground and cursed herself; even her voice was failing her, the sounds of pain coming out faint. It was hardly recognizable from her usual boisterous tone.
At least now he wasn’t the only one being avoided; Chizue kept to herself for the most part nowadays, or when she did leave her room, it was to go off on her own somewhere without even telling anyone.
Dabi froze; Chizue was still bent over and shaking like a leaf. She hadn’t registered anyone else was in the room.
“Why...it hurts…it hurts...”
Suddenly, Chizue felt herself being lifted up to a stand position; when the hands under her arms let go, she wobbled and fell into the wall, sliding down it, but managing to only slump instead of falling right on her face. She looked up, but her gaze was glazed and unfocused; Dabi wondered if she even realized who was standing in front of her.
“I...tired I need sleep.”
Chizue slid down the rest of the way, but Dabi pulled her back up before she could collapse; as he drew her against him, her head lolled onto his chest. He didn’t realize how much shorter she was compared to him. She wasn’t even two inches taller than Toga, a teenager. Her build was so solid, but now she almost looked fragile.
“I don’t know how good an idea passing out is right now.”
“I can’t eat. My head...it’s throbbing. I can’t…” Chizue brought a hand to her mouth weakly. “Shit, I don’t have anything left in the tank, but my body...it doesn’t seem to get that.”
Dabi was mulling over what to do next; he hadn’t been this close to Chizue since Magne’s childish prank. Judging from her slurring and disorientation, she wasn’t aware she was hanging all over the same person she couldn’t bear to look at without fixing her eyes elsewhere. Now she was looking up at him blindly, yet with a sort of grateful warmth; she knew someone was there and trying to aid her.
“I’ll let her break before I let her go.”
Dabi didn’t regret a single thing; Chizue would find with time that any pain she was feeling was temporary and shallow. It was all leading up to a resolution they would both be happy with.
Chizue couldn’t even begin to comprehend how angry it made him to see her converse, even brodeline flirt, with someone who looked like Shigaraki but look away from him like he was a monster. She had no idea what he was actually capable of, so who was she to judge when she didn’t actually know the truth?
“You really need to get over this not looking at me thing. It’s pretty hurtful to act so cold to a guy trying to help you out.” Dabi muttered as he made her leaned against him; with little shuffled steps, he began to help her walk to her room. Chizue didn’t reply. It would seem she was torn between lucidness and falling unconscious right there in his arms.
“I’m so tired. I just want...I can’t-”
“Go ahead and sleep for a bit. I won’t drop you.”
“Thank you...I’m sorry.”
“Stop saying that. It’s weird coming from you.”
The corners of Chizue’s lips lifted for a fraction of a moment; if Dabi’s gaze wasn’t fixed to her face, he would have never seen it. He mostly carried her back to his room, the toes of her feet dragging lightly on the ground; she was breathing in and out shallowly. Her stomach let out a loud, long groan and Chizue’s body shook violently once before stilling again. There was nothing left in her system for her body to purge.
Dabi laid her down on her side in his bed; if there even was anything left to throw up, she’d choke on it lying face up.
“I’ll get some water. Don’t die while I’m gone.”
Dabi got up, but didn’t leave the room; a thought had crossed his mind. This building was really not a good place for someone as sick as Chizue. It was cold, drafty, the water was barely fit to drink. He himself came and went as he pleased, preferring his own run down hovel of a room in comparison.
“It’ll be a bother... but then this is pretty good timing for what I’ve been planning. I should be able to manage to get her there in one piece.”
Dabi found himself smirking as his eyes raked over her, limp and pliant as she dozed away in his bed.
“You’re lucky I’m not such a bad guy I’d take advantage of this.”
Chizue didn’t hear a word; she was dead to the world and it was no less appealing. Dabi chuckled, maneuvering her over his back piggyback style as he hooked his arms under her knees and propped her up. Her weight was only a slight hindrance now; compared to her regular size, Chizue was nearly a wisp of her former self. Or maybe a husk would have been more a more fitting term; it was too bad. She didn’t feel as soft as before.
But that made sense; Chizue didn’t eat as much as before. She didn’t talk or burp or joke as much anymore either. She didn’t smile as much.
She didn’t smile much at all.
Dabi turned his head slightly. “How you doin’ back there?”
No response. Chizue’s bare foot had knocked into a corner when Dabi made a turn out of the building.
The slight bump didn’t make Chizue stir, although her body slumped over further on his shoulders. Her breath was passed over his cheek in shallow puffs; she cried out feebly in her sleep, but only once and then she was as silent as the grave again. Dabi looked forward and shifted to make sure her feet weren’t swinging around too much; he was careful going around corners.
“I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
“Yeah, she’s gonna hang out here for a while until her stomach gets back to normal.” Dabi double checked his door to make sure it was locked tight; he held the phone against his ear tightly by the elbow, as he fiddled with the latch. Security in this building was a joke, but the other tenants who took one look at him didn’t give a thought to breaking in.
Mr. Compress didn’t reply right off the bat and Dabi matched his silence, waiting for his response.
“Dabi, do you think that’s a wise idea?”
“If someone comes to the base to start trouble, she’s not in any state to fight; she’d be dead weight at this point.” Dabi said.
“Yes, that’s true. You could have mentioned it beforehand.”
“What, I gotta let Shigaraki know every time I take a piss?”
“You should give a little notice before making off with poor Chizue.”
“She agreed to it.”
“I never said she didn’t. We were just under the impression Chizue did a disappearing act on us, that’s all.”
Dabi kepot his voice level. “Anything else? I gotta check up on her soon, she’s been asleep all day.”
“No, there’s nothing else. Keep in touch.”
Dabi frowned as Mr. Compress hung up; he glanced down at Chizue’s unconscious body.
“Look at all the people worrying over you. Makes you want to stop being difficult, right?” Dabi waited a moment before nudging her side. “Hey, this isn’t a rest home. Wake up already.”
Chizue didn’t stir; her breathing was just as shallow as it had been, but at least she had been able to sleep longer for a few hours. Dabi didn’t know what it was about his room that might have made it easier for her to remain asleep on his worn mattress; it was cramped and consisted of one large room.
The kitchen was just in another corner with a small gas oven with a cracked sink installed to the left. Hanging over the oven was a cabinet with the doors yanked off it’s hinges long before Dabi even took up residence there. He had to be careful putting away his dishes; if he put too much weight on one side, the whole structure would crash. It wasn’t hard though; he had a dish that was too flat to be a bowl, but not deep enough to be a plate and one cup. All his utensils were disposable.
Across from the singular enclosed space was a bathroom; it was a bit larger than a closet. The stained sink settled between the standing shower and toilet was dirtier than the one in the kitchen, but the general interior matched; grimey but functional.
“It’s nicer than lover boy’s place. Well, at least after I got through with it.” Dabi muttered under his breath; he took a seat on the edge of the bed. “Compared to what him, I’m not looking so bad now, huh?”
A finger went to prod lightly at Chizue’s cheek; the tip sunk in, like he was poking a marshmallow.
“You haven’t lost all your muscle, but at the rate you’ve been going, it’s only a matter of time. How crazy are you to let yourself waste away?”
He wondered why he cared.
Truthfully, Dabi wasn’t quite sure how any of this had happened. Did he still think Chizue was unstable and less than moral? Certainly. Whatever her capability for empathy and sadness, it didn’t erase the fact she had no problem taking the life of anyone she saw as a threat to her peace without remorse. The fact that she freely consumed their flesh, leaving their own loved ones with the grisly remains to bury. It was childish.
On second thought, maybe it was more animalistic. Animals reacted to threats with no thought to repercussions or anyone else’s feelings. The objective was simply to make it stop; Dabi had heard Chizue relay enough stories about such encounters to see a pattern.
Someone was bothering her? Punch them in the face to knock them out. Problem solved.
Someone was attacking her? Go for the kill. Now they won’t do it again.
An obstacle in her way? Get rid of it in the most direct way possible, plain and simple. No more obstacle and Chizue could go on her merry way.
Parents and friend already dead and there’s no way to escape the same fate? Eat them and bust out; they won’t need their bodies anymore anyway. Chizue’s and Dabi’s overall goals just weren’t compatible, even on a fundamental level. Someone impulsive and averse to reason wasn’t the type of person who could do much to contribute to a plan for societal change.
Dabi’s may have shared her penchant for taking down anything in his way, but he had goals and plans. He had standards and ideas, not just for his own primal urges, but for a dream he believed could become a reality with Stain’s ideology at the heart of it all.
Every issue had it’s pros and cons, every problem could be approached with logic and forward thinking; Dabi would rise above it all to see his efforts come to fruition.
But Chizue’s mindset had no thought or reflection; she lived in the here and now. Dabi was reminded of his own flames; Chizue could be warm, useful, destructive, easy to lose control of, and able to consume everything without thought for what was being destroyed. For all Chizue’s admittedly pleasant demeanor and easy smile, she was little more than a ticking time bomb.
“You’re more brutal than you let on.”
Dabi’s hand moved to her head. He let mostly untangled hair slip past his fingers; Chizue looked so tame this way. If she was plumper with less hard muscle, she could have passed for someone’s mother. She was probably not much older though; she just had that kind of face. No one would have ever guessed from her first impression or her looks just what kind of person she actually was. Dabi was certain no one could guess a cannibal at the very least.
“You’re a real freak, aren’t ya?”
A lock of hair got caught momentarily in the stitches digging into the skin of his wrist; a couple of strands were stuck. Chizue flinched in her sleep at the sharp prick of pain. Dabi let his lips quirk upward.
“I like it.”
He didn’t really care to wonder why; besides, Dabi had always heard that the reasons didn’t matter when it came to stuff like this. And sure, she exasperated him, and that wasn’t even mentioning his initial wariness. On first impressions, Chizue reminded him a bit of Toga: a little too unhinged for his liking, unpredictable and volatile. On that note, Dabi didn’t exactly have a plethora of experience dealing with women, especially ones who found themselves preoccupied with things he couldn’t care less about.
Yet even then, Dabi hadn’t openly criticized Shigaraki’s decision to allow Chizue to join them; it really wasn’t up to him and there wasn’t any need to cause a fuss.
And then there was the way Chizue had looked at him when Magne had pulled that childish prank. Dabi didn’t know she was capable of making such a face. It’d be a bold faced lie to say her panicked stare and trembling didn’t do something for him, not when that soft firmness was pressed so close to his own body.
Dabi found himself going back to the memory frequently, even while he still had his misgivings. Before he knew it, involuntary musings turned into detailed, drawn out fantasies as he pleasured himself to the idea of Chizue giving him that same wide eyed look in a different context. He had resolved that the next time they were that close, it would be somewhere preferably secluded and with a lot less fabric to block his lingering gazes.
Then came the anger, which was honestly even more unexpected.
Every interaction between Chizue and the League;s members set his teeth on edge. Magne’s doting, Toga’s casual touching, Twice’s endless chatter, Mr. Compress wowing her with his intellect, Spinner’s bashful grins when she admired his custom weapons: even Chizue’s borderline flirty, teasing comments to Shigaraki made him irritated, despite the fact most of them completely went over the man’s head or were brushed off.
They were all so casual about having Chizue’s attention.
“Chizu, wake up.” Dabi shook her shoulder lightly, watching her face for any signs of her rising. “Come on, you’ve been sleeping long enough.”
He tried to shake her harder, but Chizue’s eyelids didn’t even flutter.
“I know you’re tired, but you have to get up now.”
Her stomach grumbled loudly, but even her hunger wasn’t enough; Dabi frowned. She’d need to eat something soon.
“I said come on.”
Dabi rolled Chizue over so she was on her back and shook her harder; pure relief washed over him to see her eyes were beginning to crack open and her chest was rising and falling steadily, if not faintly. He could see slits of dark brown peering out from under her lashes.
For a moment, Chizue’s stare was soft and fuzzy as she looked up at Dabi through her haze. Maybe it was due to the weight off his shoulders from her awakening or due to the fact he himself had no rested for a second since bringing her to his room.
Whatever the reason, Dabi couldn’t help the slow, pleased grin that made the skin of his cheeks grow taut against his stitches.
The screams were immediate and unintelligible.
In seconds Chizue was curled into a tight ball and the image of a terrorized animal came to Dabi’s mind. Before he could react, she was scrambling out from under him, desperate to create as much distance as possible, and Dabi felt something inside him shatter.
He tried to take her hand, but she yanked it away and only curled up tighter.
He tried to scoot forward to comfort her, but was met with weak, flailing blows to his face.
He tried to take her in his arms and whisper reassurances, but she cried garbled nonsense and scratched at the wall behind her like a dying rat trapped in a cage.
And so Dabi sat there, watching as Chizue looked at him like he was a stranger, trapped in her own mind, perhaps delirious from the hunger and stress.
He slapped her, hard, and the screaming stopped abruptly as soon as his palm made contact with her cheek. Chizue froze, but for the first time since awakening she was staring at him with, eyes slowly growing clarity; the mark on her cheek burned a bright, angry shade of red.
“It doesn’t matter. Sick or not, it’s entirely possible she can’t hate me anymore than she must.”
“About time you woke up.”
Without warning, the tears started falling again.
“I...I was-I didn’t recognize you Dabi, and-and Big sis and Yuudai, they were…” Chizue looked around wildly, as if the visions left traces in the dingy apartment, but all she could see were shadows and unfamiliar surroundings. “They...and my house was burning...it was all burning and I couldn’t breathe. They were already dead, I was choking on the smoke, I had to-!”
Her words died as she struggled to breathe; Dabi said nothing. What was there to say?
“She woke up thinking I was a burnt corpse come to life from a nightmare.”
“How long was I…?”
“Almost twenty four hours.”
Chizue nodded absently, wiping the left over wetness at the corners of her eyes. “I...I never thought it would end.”
Dabi sat back on the bed. “Well, it’s over now.”
Chizue nodded once, looking down at the faded surface of the mattress. Dabi sighed and started to rise.
“I’ll get you some water.”
It wasn’t the same as before, but he found that Chizue felt just as soft as she had the day they ended up stuck together. The main difference was how much more fragile her body seemed as she launched himself into his chest, one of her hands coming to grip his shoulder.
“Wait, don’t-! I don’t want-what if I fall asleep again?!”
Chizue held Dabi there like he was a lifeline, head buried into the fabric of his shirt, her fresh tears already making a wet spot he could feel on his skin.
“You gotta calm down. You need to at least drink some water; you were probably having such a rough time in your sleep ‘cause you’re dehydrated and stressed.”
Despite his words, Dabi didn’t move a muscle to dislodge her, keeping his hands to himself; he knew if he even reached out to pat her back, it would just end with him bringing her closer.
But right now he couldn’t let his urges get the best of him.
“She can’t be mine if she’s dead after all.”
“Shit, I...sorry.” Chizue lifted her head away from his shirt and used her own sleeve to clean off her face, desperately hoping the waterworks were over with, at least for the time being. “Dabi, where are we?”
“My place. Shigaraki asked me to get you somewhere safe so you could recover. Too risky keeping you around the base.”
“Now I feel really sorry.” Chizue chuckled wetly, letting her grip fall from Dabi’s arm. “You know, I haven’t cried like this since I saw that movie-the one with the couple and they both die at the end over something stupid. It was so stupid, I was laughing right there in the theater and got kicked out.”
“I thought you said you were crying?”
“I was, but then I realized how dumb I was getting so upset over a dumber movie. Now I’m crying over a nightmare.”
Dabi got up reluctantly to get the one cup and fill it up in the tap. “This will taste like crap, but it’s better than nothing. I’ll go out later and get stuff for you to eat.”
Chizue took the cup gratefully and took a small sip. “How long were you watching over me?”
“The whole time. Can’t risk you dying, can I?”
“Thank you. I appreciate this.”
“If you mean that, stop calling yourself dumb. It’s not doing any more to help than crying.”
“Man, you’re something else.” Chizue grinned faintly. “But I can’t help it. I feel like a kid, getting upset over nothing, and then you having to look after me doesn’t help.”
“Getting worked up over a movie is one thing, but your nightmare wasn’t something you fabricated. You were remembering something painful.” Dabi leaned back on the oven. “Not that feeling sorry for yourself will make it better; the good thing is you realize that.”
Chizue took another sip; the water tasted borderline polluted. “...It’s been years. I thought I forgot, but then out of the blue, two people I care about end up dead. Two deaths that could have been avoided if I-”
“And blaming yourself is a cop out too. Dammit Chizu, will you just shut up and drink?”
He could hardly admit it to himself, but Dabi had feared for an instant Chizue had been driven to insanity, or perhaps more accurately, whatever sanity she did possess had disappeared entirely. Even now her voice remained somewhat shaky and cracked in between syllables; parts of her clothes were clinging to her from sweat. No matter how many hours she had been sleeping, Chizue looked no more well rested than she had before.
Dabi picked up a torn wicker basket from the side of his bed; inside was a clean shirt and a pair of shorts. He waited until Chizue dutifully finished her water before he handed them to her.
“The shower works fine. Clean up and change into these; I’ll go get us some food.”
Chizue took the basket tentatively and scratched her head. “Are you sure about this? Me staying here? I mean, don’t you…?”
Dabi raised an eyebrow. “What?”
“I mean, I’m sure Shigaraki doesn’t care too much exactly where I stay; I can go somewhere else.”
“My place is the most inconspicuous; besides, I don’t mind. We’re comrades, aren’t we?”
“Does this mean you trust me?”
Chizue gave him the first sincere smile she had been able to muster in weeks; Dabi had to look away. He had his own doubts that needed to be absolved.
“Does it bug you? I mean, not knowing my real name?”
Chizue was thrown off momentarily. “I guess not. I am curious, but...a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet, right?”
Now Dabi was confused. “You’re even more out of it than I thought. Did you just compare me to a flower?”
“No, it’s from that movie I saw.” Chizue stood up as if she was just learning how, holding the empty cup firmly in hand. The sink seemed so much farther away than she realized. “It means a rose could be called something else, but it doesn’t change how it smells. So it doesn’t really bother me if you don’t want to tell me your real name when I know I can count on you-whoa!”
Chizue’s left knee gave out on her just as she was halfway to the sink; the cup fell from her hand as she reached out instinctively. The space was so small, Dabi barely had to move forward two steps to give her something to grab onto. Chizue’s fingers dug into the front of his jacket; she couldn’t help laugh.
“See?” she gingerly stood up straight, testing out one foot and then the other; she couldn’t tell if her lapse of coordination was from being in a motionless state for so long or whether she really was that weakened. “I really should eat something. At this point I’ll trip in the shower and die from the fall. Talk about a slip up.”
Dabi chanced letting a half smile appear on his face, hoping Chizue didn’t see how elated he really was. If he let himself go too much, it would impossible to allow her to go one step further.
It was so surreal, so alien; it was as if there was this bubble, this light, soft thing threatening to burst forth like a rose from the ground, and all it took was one word of reassurance.
“Clean your teeth while you’re in the bathroom. There should be a spare brush in the medicine cabinet.” Dabi propped her up carefully. “Your breath stinks.”
“It’s not like I can brush them in my sleep.” Chizue reminded him, but the shadow of her familiar teasing grin was still etched on her lips. “Why do you have a spare brush?”
“It was a sale. Why do you ask?”
“I thought for a second you had a girlfriend.” Chizue looked around once more. “This place could use a woman’s touch, that’s for sure. Or a bucket of bleach.”
“I’m not in the habit of entertaining guests.” Dabi shot back dully. “Just go wash up and change. I’ll lock the door behind me, and I’ll knock before coming back inside.”
Chizue raised a hand to her forehead in a mock salute as he made his way out to get them something for a late dinner; she didn’t seem to be the least bit concerned about the possible consequences of being naked and physically impaired at a strange man’s apartment.
“Well, not that we’re strangers. Chizu knows she can rely on me.”
If nothing else it was a good sign that at least Chizue was getting some of her energy back if she was able to expend effort goofing around and cracking jokes.
“Or she’s still delirious.Why did she ask if I had a girlfriend? Was it because she was surprised or-?”
It was more likely Chizue wouldn’t have wanted to intrude on a shared space, seeing as how she felt guilty enough over him needing to monitor her. A small part of Dabi was allowing himself to presume Chizue’s more relaxed state was because he was there providing her with a pillar of stability when she was at her most vulnerable. It was like he was seeing a whole other side to her; Dabi definitely wouldn’t have pegged Chizue as someone who went to see sad romance films unless she had a voucher for all the popcorn she could eat.
“A rose huh? Even if she’s sick, who just says sappy stuff like that?”
Maybe it was more wishful thinking, but Dabi sincerely hoped movies and reality weren’t too likely to mirror each other.
Part of what might have drawn Dabi in right off the bat place was just the contrasts.
Soft, yet hard in other places was the best his mind could scratch up to describe Chizue as a whole; her body was gifted with solid muscles, but other parts held traces of plumpness that made her look oddly child like. Her face was that of a woman’s but her stare and smile were innocent and bright, almost uncomprehending; yet the fact remained Chizue was able to kill other living things in one of the most stomach churning ways someone could do. The worst part of it was how she did it without cruel intent; Chizue genuinely saw nothing really wrong with the act. Perhaps deep down there was some bit of her that simply wasn’t human.
And then there was the eyes; in theory they wasn’t anything remarkable about them in shape or color. They were brown, albeit a more rusted kind of shade of brown in a certain light. Dabi supposed it was more his own perspective that made them pop; every time he caught them in his own gaze, he was reminded of dried blood.
Right now those eyes were closed shut and had been so for a few hours; Chizue seemed to have fallen back asleep just after freshening up, but unlike before, this period of rest was devoid of twitching, moaning, and general, light expressions of discomfort. Dabi didn’t know how she could stand to sleep so peacefully, even if she was feeling a bit better; the air in his apartment was muggy and musty, the only source of ventilation being a half open window, stuck that way for who knows how long, and the night air was still and humid outside. If not used to the feeling of intense heat, Dabi himself would be a lot more uncomfortable, but as it were, he only needed to shed his jacket.
His extra shirt fit Chizue too well; before it would have been somewhat tight around her middle and her arms, but there was only a slight strain. The collar was swooping and dipping dangerously low as she shifted on her right side, but it would have likely done that even without Chizue’s sudden weight loss.
Dabi cursed inwardly; this whole time he had not noticed just how much her illness, or whatever it had been, was effecting Chizue’s body. He figured she definitely lost some of her muscle and fat, but this was too much too fast. Dabi blamed it on her clothes; the outfits she normally wore on her down time were already somewhat baggy and it was hard to tell her exact shape underneath. But now clad in only his own ratty t shirt and a pair of boxers, Dabi could see the extreme change and had to keep himself from shaking her awake to eat the food he had just purchased.
In truth, he hadn’t meant to buy all that much on his excursion, especially considering the only place open at the hour was a convenience store. Dabi ended up walking home with a bag full of disposable bowls, plates, cups, and utensils, and a few other bags filled to the point of bursting with snacks, bottles and cans of assorted drinks, instant meals, and even a few frozen meals he figured he could pop into the oven if he needed.
As an afterthought, Dabi grabbed peace scented shampoo and soap just before hustiling to the cashier counter; the employee in attendance hadn’t given him an odd look exactly, but knew better than to say anything other than what Dabi’s bill came to and ‘have a nice night’. That, or he just really didn’t care, no doubt seeing some strange sights on his graveyard shift.
Chizue had already of course used the products Dabi used for himself; these cost significantly less than the stuff he had gotten for her, and they smelled like a cheap chemical mix dyed blue for some visual appeal, but they got the job done. As Chizue sweated lightly in her sleep, Dabi could smell his own scent on her if he inhaled the stagnant air deeply enough. He wanted to wake her up as soon as possible, but something was stalling his hand from making contact with her arm.
“What if she screams?”
Dabi was saved the trouble of making a decision when Chizue’s eyes slowly pried open, dazed, but lucid. Almost immediately they met his, but she didn’t go into hysterics; she blinked once in confusion and as if realizing something, her eyes traveled away from him and onto the half open window.
“Dabi, how long was I asleep?”
“A few hours. I got back a while ago, but you looked like you could use more rest.”
“How long were you watching me?”
Dabi didn’t answer right away; her voice was mild, not accusing or fearful, but that didn’t make the question any less awkward to answer.
“Thanks.” Chizue smiled as well as she could despite the stiffness in her cheeks. “I hope I didn’t worry you. Can I help put away that stuff?”
Dabi looked at the foot of the mattress where Chizue was pointing; all the bags were still gathered up in a pile. He had forgotten to put them away.
Chizue scooted over the the edge and tried to stand, but fell right back down like a sack of potatoes, making the floor under the thin excuse of a bed creak and his furniture tremble with the impact. Dabi blamed it on the near suffocating humidity that made him conjure up the image of tossing her on her back and ripping off her clothes so they could really make the room shake.
“Whoa, I just got real dizzy.” Chizue brought a hand to run fingers through her half matted hair, unsure if it was from the slight perspiration or the shower. Her stomach growled and her face pinched at the ache it produced.
“You shouldn’t get up unless you have to. Unless you want to break something.”
Chizue shook her head, as if not processing the jibe under Dabi’s stern words. “Dabi, can I get some more water?”
“I got something you might like better.” Dabi made sure to hand the bottle of flavored water to her carefully. “You like melon don’t ya?”
“I do!” Chizue’s face lit up as if in recognition as she took the drink; she uncapped it and drank in slow, generous gulps before Dabi took the bottle away. “Hey!”
“Don’t just chug it down, you’ll throw it right back up.”
“Oh right.” Chizue took only half gulps and Dabi let out a heavy breath; she wiped her mouth and smiled. “Thanks.”
Dabi shrugged. “If you’re so grateful, don’t keep looking over my shoulder.”
It didn’t take long to put away the food, though it was a bit of a stretch; Dabi never saw his broken down cabinet so full, and the rest of the packages of noodles and soup cans were shoved in one corner of the counter due to the limited space. The miniature refrigerator was just able to hold the rest; it almost felt homey if the rest of the place didn’t look like a shit hole.
Chizue lifted the hem of her borrowed shirt and fanned it to circulate air to her torso; Dabi’s narrowed gaze took in the sunken in quality of her stomach.
“Chizu, what can you eat now?”
Chizue stopped her vain attempts to cool off. “Chizu?”
Dabi swallowed. “What? You want me to call you Chi-sweetie?”
“No. How long have you been calling me that?”
“Dammit, will you just tell me what you can eat right now? I know you’re out of it, but before you pass out again, you need to get something in your stomach.”
“Um...I think crackers would be okay.”
Dabi looked over the snacks he had perched on the shelves. “I got rice crackers.”
“Hey, those are my favorite kind!”
Dabi held up a hand to halt Chizue as she began to move forward. “Just keep sitting down. I’m right here, I’ll just hand you whatever you need. And eat slow.”
“Alright, alright.” Chizue sighed as he gave her one packet of the crackers and another bottle of melon flavored water. “This sucks. Oh hey, where am I going to sleep?”
“You’re staying here.”
“Yeah, but we only have this one bed.”
“I’ll sleep on the floor.”
Chizue looked around; the mattress itself took up the majority of the space in the single room and the rest of it was blocked up by the oven, refrigerator, and small dresser.
“I’ll go in the other room.” Dabi frowned slightly at Chizue’s laugh, punctuated by slamming her fists to her chest as cracker crumbs spewed out on her front.
“What, are you going to sleep standing up like a horse?!” Chizue sputtered. “I mean, it’s a tight fit, but I think we can share the bed. Which side do you usually sleep on?”
Dabi managed to reply. “I don’t care.”
It was long past midnight, but not so late the sun was ready to rise and outshine the stars. The window lacked curtains or blinds, and the overall neighborhood was poorly lit and a bit secluded from the city lights. The last thing Chizue saw before falling back into another hopefully dreamless sleep was the dark sky. A tiny breeze picking up and sneaking into the room; there were wisps of clouds beginning to move in and she guessed rain would be coming before she woke up once again; with her stomach a bit less empty and her mind a bit more at ease, Chizue seemed to have no problem at all resting, even with in the company of a man who was still something of a stranger to her. Today was the most either had spoken to each other.
Dabi guessed she was used to sharing a bed with men she didn’t know too personally, but it was just a guess. Chizue had fallen asleep facing him, another sincere thank you on her lips before she closed her eyes and settled in; the last thing she saw was his face. Maybe it was easier looking at him when Chizue knew she wouldn’t have to again for a while.
Dabi imagined Chizue lazily slipping on a faceless man’s shirts to sleep in while she spent the night, though it was more likely she left right after. Something told him she love anyone. Chizue was too stunted emotionally. And besides, admitting it was a possibility would send his mind reeling and his temper flaring over nothing but musings, something Dabi felt a bit ridiculous for. He was the level headed one out of the two of them and he intended to play it close to the vest; it wouldn’t do to get worked up about imaginary lovers.
“Why did she ask if I had a girlfriend anyway? Maybe she just figured I’d have one if I had two toothbrushes; she would jump to that since she knows I’m not all that buddy buddy with anyone in the League, so a woman might be the next best guess. If she thought that, maybe she doesn’t think I’m that hard to look at. She did assume I was seeing someone. I mean, she could have just thought-”
Dabi stared at the trail of drool seeping out of the corner of Chizue’s lips; she was muttering in her sleep.
“Extra sauce….set the bacon trap.”
“Or I’m giving her too much credit.”
It was possible Chizue might have felt some jealousy at the idea of another woman in his apartment, but Dabi thought that was a being a bit full of himself.
“Okay, so what’s her deal? Isn’t she bothered by this at all?”
The room was already far too warm despite the merciful breeze blowing in with the deep grey clouds; Dabi didn’t own any blankets or pillows. He decided tomorrow he would go get a couple; Chizue would do better propping her head up in case she felt the urge to get sick in the middle of her naps. Dabi wondered how much longer it would take to get her back to full strength and how long could he keep playing the part of caregiver.
It hadn’t even been more than a few days, but the apartment was quickly becoming something of a world in and of itself in Dabi’s mind; secluded, quiet, away from all the chaos and complexities of the outside. Ever since he had brought Chizue there, the only thing Dabi could think of was the tasks that needed to be done to aid her, about her health, about how she must feel being there with him as her temporary provider.
A hazy blanket was enveloping his mind as he laid on his side and used his thumb to wipe off her spit. Her lips gave under his light touch as he brushed it over them. Dabi watched her face closely for any signs of returning to the world of the living; his ear was pressed into the dingy mattress and the sound of blood pumping through his muddled mind was amplified by it. He chanced shifting closer to Chizue to try to block out the noise with her steady breathing, puffs of hot air hitting his nose. She’d need to brush her teeth again soon.
“I bet I could smell blood on them if I got closer.”
Rust, blinking back at him. Chizue licked her chapped lips and yawned like a kitten.
“Is it morning yet?”
“No.” Dabi didn’t even notice her eyes opening.
Her still sleepy gaze flitted down to his chest and Dabi had to keep his hand from grabbing her face and forcing her to look up. Her cheeks weren’t squishy enough yet anyway; if he touched them now, he’d just be reminded of her condition and how little he could do to speed up the healing process.
“Chizu, why’d you get upset over that Yuudai guy?”
Dabi was taken aback by his own bold inquiry, but Chizue didn’t bat an eyelash.
Chizue frowned. “I didn’t want him to die, especially not like...like that.”
Dabi tried not to keep focus on how close their faces were. “Guess he was really special to you.”
“Not really. I just liked him. It’s hard thinking that I’ll never see him again.”
Chizue seemed to be in a pleasant enough mood from her nap; her words were slightly slurred, but Dabi chalked it up to grogginess. He decided to throw caution to the wind and do a little more prying; he could pass it off as concern at this point.
“Have you ever been...that way with anyone you really liked?”
“Really liked? Like, like-like?”
“What are you, ten?”
Dabi peered into her eyes that were fixed on the side of his face; it was an improvement. She probably couldn’t see him as well in the dark.
“Where’d you pick him up from anyway? A website?”
“Yeah, he had an ad online; after that, I met others through Yuudai. Why do you ask? Do you want me to introduce you to someone?”
Chizue was taken off guard by how quick his response was. “Why not? It feels good.”
A wave of understanding swept over Dabi’s growing frustration at what he assumed was Chizue playing dumb or teasing him; she would jump to finding the most direct route to sate her urges. No fuss or thoughts about what it would mean. To Chizue it was as simple as eating when she was hungry. It really didn’t mean a thing to her, but even this only offered a bare minimum of assurance.
“How many others?”
“I don’t get why I’m thinking of my folks and that girl though. I can’t even remember her name.” Chizue sunk her cheek deeper into the bed with a heavy sigh. “I mean, it made sense to eat them, so why am I feeling so bad about it now? I...I can’t even really remember what they looked like before the fire. All I can see is their burns-”
Dabi wasn’t prepared when Chizue’s lost stare locked onto his; she looked guilty, like a little kid who got caught using a swear word.
“What happened after?”
Dabi nodded slowly. “Who saved you?”
Chizue looked disconcerted. “I ate bits of them so I could get enough strength to escape.”
“So no one came to help?”
“I remember sirens. I think a couple of pros probably helped cause the fire went out pretty quick once people came.
Dabi sneered. “Some pro heroes. Can’t even take care of a house fire.”
Chizue shrugged. “I just don’t get why people always got so upset when they heard what I did. I’m alive, isn’t that what matters? They were already dead anyhow. They didn’t even taste good.”
Her teeth caught on her bottom lip; they were dull and straight. It must have been tough to chew half raw, half burnt meat without enough canines. Chizue had once joked that Dabi’s flesh would taste like over charred meat; she would know. Apparently she was at least be able to stand the taste of similarly warped flesh.
A wild thought crossed Dabi’s mind; if Chizue was still in her delirious, starving, stress induced state, she might have tried to take a bite out of him. He involuntarily imagined the agonizing pain of those blunt teeth sinking in over and over again, tearing at his skin and muscles until they snapped against bone. Dabi’s already ruined skin would be in bloody tatters when Chizue was through; instead of the faint smell of morning breath, her teeth would smell like copper and the stink of meat.
“They wanted me to live. I want to live.” Chizue’s hand curled up in front of her face, as though she were surveying the state of her body to reassure herself she was indeed still alive. “I guess Big sis and Yuudai dying made me remember, but they wouldn’t want me sick.” she sighed through her nose and her mouth formed a thin line of disapproval at her own conflicted thoughts. “What can I do to feel good again?”
Her eyes were shining and alive in the half darkness, the color of fresh, warm blood.
“Look at me.”
Chizue didn’t seem to have heard him; Dabi wasn’t going to back down. Not now when she looked so alive.
“Look at me. I’m not one of those corpses.”
“I know that.” Grudgingly, Chizue raised her face; her body was trembling slightly as Dabi put his hand to her cheek, the cold metal of his stitches just grazing her heated skin.
“That wasn’t too hard, was it?”
Chizue flinched and closed her eyes tightly. “I can’t.”
Dabi wasn’t expecting that. “Weird how?”
“It’s just weird. You’ve been so nice to me lately.”
“You’re no use to us if you’re half dead.”
“You got me all my favorites.”
Chizue ate a variety of foods, but there were some consistencies, especially when it came to the snacks she chose to much on absently throughout the day. The flavors she preferred to drink, the brands of sweets she favored: it was all easy to notice if someone was paying enough attention.
“Everything is your favorite.”
“Your hands still on my cheek.”
“Gotta check that your temperature is back to normal.”
Chizue’s lips formed the beginnings of a smile. “I feel really dumb now.”
Dabi didn’t speak as a bashful sort of half grin wormed its way onto Chizue’s pale, exhausted face. The circles around her eyes were still dark; the cheek under his palm didn’t feel as soft, but it was warm.
“I was kinda scared of you for no reason. I’m sorry.”
“It’s fine. Focus on feeling better.”
“I need you to be okay.”
Chizue nodded earnestly. “Sure thing. I think my appetite is coming back.”
“Just don’t go thinking you can snack on me, alright? I got you enough to eat, so eat it.”
“Or I might just give you something to stuff that pretty mouth with.”
“I wouldn’t kill you, just so you know. I don’t eat people I like.” Chizue said. “Well, not unless I have to.”
Dabi pulled away and settled back into a somewhat comfortable position. “Don’t worry about it. You can fry your brain thinking about all that other stuff later.”
“I do like fried things.”
“I can tell.”
Dabi cracked a smile as her eyes locked on his.
“Chizu, I think I know a way I can make you feel good again.”
“Oh it broke.”
Dabi dipped a french fry in his chocolate shake somewhat begrudgingly; he had sworn up and down it would taste freakish, but Chizue had pleaded for him to give the combination a spin before he knocked it. Now every time he did it Chizue would grin out of the side of her mouth knowingly and he'd struggle with the impulse to both frown and smile back. It was cruel irony that someone so simple could make Dabi feel unnecessarily conflicted.
“You know those things are shoddy as hell.”
Chizue looked forlornly at the plastic contraption in her hand. “But I barely touched it…”
“Hey it’s a Happy Meal, what’d you expect?”
“I don’t feel very happy.”
Dabi let out a deep sigh. The feeling was mutual.
“I can’t even eat this.” Chizue pushed the box of hot food away from her. “Just the smell is making me queasy.”
“Sorry, I’m just being honest.”
Dabi couldn’t fault Chizue there; the truth was, despite her stomach being to handle broth, plain noodles by the strand, and tea, it was hardly enough to give her an energy boost. Besides, Chizue was still making daily trips the toilet to hack up what little she could get in her system, though Dabi supposed it was something of an improvement, even if Chizue’s overall demeanor was still somewhat pale in comparison to the boisterous woman she had been not so long ago.
The fast food was sort of an ill advised attempt to give her some pep in her step. And it failed miserably.
Dabi hated to admit it, but he had no clue what he was supposed to do to help Chizue. Of course he didn’t like the fact she still had somber subjects on her mind that she was trying to sort through, but the most he could bring himself to do was give straightforward statements that probably sounded more patronizing and chiding than anything else.
Chizue leaned back, head tilted against the window sill so she could feel some of the light breeze trailing in slowly; the stifling weather had yet to falter in the slightest and the smell of grease wasn’t helping her stomach settle. The heat certainly wasn’t aiding her thought process.
“I thought I was happy.”
“Huh?” Dabi swallowed the rest of his overly salted fries with a generous glop of the sweet shake.
“I...well, I’m not so sure what to think anymore about some things.”
Chizue shrugged and placed her chin on her knees; it felt more constricting and warm being curled up in on herself, but it was the position she felt most secure when she felt confused and threatened. That, or having her fists raised, but the problems Chizue was facing couldn’t be choke holded into submission.
“About what happened with your parents and your friend?”
“Yeah, and a few other things. It all used to make sense, but...if I wasn’t confused, why am I feeling bad now? Maybe I need to just eat more; my mind still feels all fuzzy.”
“Something tells me that will work about as well as moping.”
Chizue leaned back and looked above her; she could only see so much outside. The storm was over, but there were still large, slate grey clouds hovering over the majority of the sky.
“I don’t know what to do now….what to feel. I hate it. It’s so confusing.”
“So I’ve heard.”
Dabi tried not to sound bitter; after all, even if it was just a small cause of her pain, the fact was Yuudai’s death was partially responsible for the sudden changes in her.
“This damn weather isn’t helping things.” Chizue pulled her hair to the side of her neck and fanned the damp skin of her nape. “Don’t you have air conditioning?”
“No. It’s not that hot.”
“Are you kidding me? It’s boiling!” Chizue flopped down on her side and sprawled out on the mattress, trying to get her limbs as isolated as possible so none of her skin was touching the rest. Dabi’s boxers and shirt were made of pretty light material, but they still weren’t enough to give her proper ventilation, no matter how much the shorts rode up on her thighs or how loose the shirt was. Dabi noted it didn’t seem as billowy as before though; the stomach and chest area were a bit more filled out, at least by a fraction.
“Dabi, can’t you get one of those little fans? I feel like I’m getting a fever all over again.”
“Stick your head in the fridge or something.”
Dabi perched on the edge of the mattress; the night before Chizue had sweated so much she left a small dmap sort of imprint where her head was, where the aroma of artificial peaches clung to the mattress along with something that had to be her body’s natural scent..
That morning she had taken a cold shower and had to wait for her clothes to dry on a line she had hung above the bed; Dabi told her earlier someone had stolen her clothes out of the complexes public dryer. For now all Chizue had to wear was his hand me downs.
It was making his own mind fog up a bit.
“I hate it. It reminds me of fire, like I’m stuck in a damn chimney.” Chizue muttered to the ceiling as she exhaled slowly; she could see over her stomach easily, a fact that made her mood fall to a new level of disheartened.
All the muscle Chizue had been able to keep up, the extra insulation of fat, it was nearly all gone; both her body and her mind were failing her. It occurred to Chizue she might get kicked out of the League if this kept up much longer, but Dabi had not even brought them up since telling her he had been requested to look over her in her time of need.
It’s not as if she enjoyed throwing up pretty much anything she was able to consume or the headaches or the dizziness, but it wasn’t like she could make it stop on command either or even go to a hospital; the life of a villain definitely had its drawbacks here and there. Chizue patted her warm cheek and sighed loudly, closing her eyes against the dim light bulb hanging overhead.
“Am not. I’m burning up in here.”
Dabi sighed and stood up lazily.
“Listen up close Chizu.”
The faint light behind her eyelids was replaced with a shadow and the bed sank under her with the added weight of Dabi; his knees were on either sides of her hips and his forearms were placed so they caged her head. The position prevented her being able to see anything other than the dark fabric of the sleeves of Dabi’s worn jacket from the corners of her eyes.
The eyes above her glowed despite the lack of light from the window and the dimly lit room; Chizu noted that the shade of his eyes almost matched the flames of Dabi’s power perfectly. It didn’t cross her mind this was an odd thought to initially have when being pressed into a bed by another person, but Chizue was never one for the finer details.
“If you say one more word about how hot it is, then I’ll give you a reason to sweat.”
The extra heat coming off Dabi’s body was already in fact making Chizue feel warmer; she blinked up at him slowly and found herself struggling to respond. Dabi chuckled shortly and lowered himself down until his front was barely pressing against hers.
“You look even more out of it than usual.” Dabi leaned in close and his nostrils were filled with the scent of perspiration mixed with peaches as he murmured directly into Chizue’s ear. “Do you have any idea what I’m thinking of doing to you right now?”
Dabi could feel her body trembling against his and rose himself up so he could look at her face.
“I’m sorry, okay? I didn’t mean to piss you off.”
It was just like that day. The panic, the urgency as she tried to contain a voice threatening to let out a scream instead of a coherent sentence. Chizue was looking back at him in fear as she tried to keep still and not make any sudden moves.
“Who said I was pissed?”
Chizue’s voice was quivering as hard as her bottom lip, but she looked a little less anxious at his own apparent puzzlement. “You said...didn’t you mean you were going to use your Quirk on me?”
Dabi’s laughter was cold. “Wow, you’re a tough nut to crack, aren’t ya? I mean, how many guys have been on top of you like this? Would you assume they were trying to attack you? Or am I just special?”
Chizue flinched at the force used to spit out the last question; she could at least understand it was not meant to be answered and that she had insulted Dabi, even if she was not correct in assuming why exactly.
“I wasn’t thinking. I don’t think you’d hurt me, not really, I just...I was-” Chizue faltered as she felt her eyes begin to sting.
Dabi looked away as he sat up next to her on the bed. “Well you’re wrong.”
Chizue was mortified; she had no idea where that reaction was coming from. Maybe it was the intense humidity or her addled mind and near empty stomach, but for a second she was under the impression Dabi was going to harm her out of irritation. Not that he hadn’t killed people for less from what Chizue had heard, but when she did stop to think, there was no reason at all to suggest he would do such a thing. After all, he was the one assigned to keep an eye on her progress, so why on earth would he attack her over something so minor? Chizue could honestly not remember the last time she felt so stupid.
“That wasn’t what I meant at all.”
“I know...that was really dumb.”
“You’re minds been on some heavy shit lately. I get it, you might be on the defensive. It’s not like I’m a stranger to people looking at me the way you do.”
Chizue’s embarrassment was forgotten at these words; she sat up and moved so she was sitting next to Dabi. His expression was as impassive and casual as ever, but his slight smile was crooked and sullen.
“I get it. It must not be easy looking at me with all this-” Dabi absently tapped a finger to the stitches on his right cheek. “But it ain’t like I’m trying to freak you out.”
“You don’t freak me out.”
Dabi looked at her meaningfully but Chizue was staring at him almost determinedly.
“I mean, your Quirk sort of does and at first I...well, I was thinking you didn’t look to different than how my folks looked when the fire got through with them. But it’s not the exact same anymore.”
“What do you mean, not the same’?” Dabi questioned skeptically; last time he checked, Chizue still averted her eyes on instinct whenever he entered the room or they made eye contact by accident.
“You’ve been so nice to me about this whole mess.” Chizue told him with about as much hesitation as she had when she was met with an all you can eat buffet. “I can think about good things, like how you brought me food, and you let me borrow your stuff and stay here even if I’ve been complaining.” she looked mildly abashed, but continued. “It’s nice because it feels like all I’ve been able to think about is...well, sad crap.”
“Seeing me makes you happy?”
Chizue nodded and snapped her fingers like Dabi had taken the words out of her mouth. “Exactly! It’s like, when I think of fire, I think of death, but when I see you-what?”
“Do you even hear yourself?”
“Right.” Dabi smiled blandly and scratched the back of his head, peering outside the window. The sun was peeking out vaguely from the haze of clouds. If the weather would hold up, he could venture out again and get an ice tray and a small fan for the room. “How are you feeling right now? Need any medicine?”
“Maybe something for my headache, but I don’t feel too nauseous. I was going to make more soup after a nap.”
“Are you tired?”
“Alright. In that case, you can just lie back; I’ll take care of you.”
Dabi cupped the back of Chizue’s head and pressed his lips to hers for a moment; before he could pull back to assess her reaction, she was pressing her lips to his own, not even bothering to be mindful of the stitches that were grazing her own skin and making barely there marks. But before he could do anything else, Chizue was backing off.
“I got another way to make you feel good. You want to feel good, right Chizu?”
He watched his own shirt pull up slowly to reveal her bare breasts, Chizue exposing herself like he wasn’t even in the room. She gave him a light grin as she shed the boxers and tossed them to the side carelessly.
“Sick or not, don’t throw my stuff around.”
Chizue smiled cheekily as Dabi unzipped his pants and wasted no time taking his place between her legs. He stroked himself feverishly; Chizue looked just like she had before this whole mess had taken away her peace of mind. Dabi’s eyes trailed down and he couldn’t stop himself from reaching down to caress her tentatively, prodding and massaging her inside until she was completely, not even bothering to lower his boxers past his knees.
“Good...take it just like that. Don’t get all quiet now.”
Chizue was hardly holding back her cries or pleas, but it wasn’t enough. Dabi had to be the one to get the biggest reaction. She had to ache for him. It was definitely moving faster than he would have liked, but a man could only take so much waiting. Dabi swore next time he’d take it slower and be more thorough as he held open her thighs; even taking the time to strip himself down seemed frivolous and unnecessary.
“Did those second rate pieces of trash make you feel like this?” A bruising slam of his hips, a shriek of pleasure and shock. “That’s it baby. Scream for me.”
The only thing that mattered was that she wanted him, had confessed to him. It was his name being spoken breathlessly, her hands grabbing for his shoulders and twisting in the fabric of his jacket until it was stretching from the strain, their hips slapping, their slick bodies generating more heat as the smell of sex and sweat and peaches filled the small room.
Dabi could have gotten drunk off the scent, the haze of the muggy room; Chizue herself was barely conscious by the time he was riding out his long awaited release, but whether it was from his unrelenting thrusts to drive himself as deep as he could or her still half dazed mind was anyone’s guess.
At any rate, Chizue was passed out and limp as soon as Dabi felt his stamina finally give out; he stayed hunched over her for a few minutes before pulling away and using a corner of the thin blanket to wipe them both down with minimal effort. Dabi was feeling pretty boneless himself and decided another shopping excursion could wait; he made it so they were both laying on their sides across from each other. The adrenaline and unexpectedness of the whole thing had left him both weary and incredibly satisfied.
After all, he was pretty sure she would want to wake up to his face.
The next day the sunshine was coming in from the open window and the clouds were gone to reveal a clear, crisp blue summer sky; a cool morning breeze was coming in and bringing Dabi some relief, but he still felt unreasonably warm with half of Chizue’s body draped over him like a thick blanket.
Reluctantly, Dabi pried open his eyes halfway, letting out a brief yawn as he inhaled the lingering hint of peach shampoo under the more potent scents of cooled sweat and sex. Chizue’s arm was flopped over his chest, leg wrapped over his waist; at the right angle, her thigh would have been prodded by his morning wood, but Dabi didn’t really feel like moving from their position at the moment. Waking up was a slow, begrudging process as it was, and today even more so; after allowing himself a few more minutes of listening to soft breathing, Dabi forced his eyes open all the way and turned to look at her face. Chizue’s head was hogging most of the flat pillow, lips barely an inch from the side of his cheek. It gave the appearance that she had fallen asleep meaning to give him a goodnight kiss, but that couldn’t have been so; Dabi was certain she had been knocked out the whole night.
Actually, if Dabi didn’t trust his senses, he might think he was still asleep himself.
As he studied her lips, the slope of her nose, the way her eyes moves under her eyelids, Dabi swallowed, feeling a hot twitch make his body recoil and his lower regions stir; for a fletting second, Dabi reasoned with that if Chizue had wanted to get rest, she wouldn’t have draped herself over him. He let one of his fingers brush just over where her hairline met her smoothed brow.
“Always testing me...I guess I can let you snooze, what with your condition.”
Dabi looked over to the side, glancing at the time on his phone as it sat charging on edge of the bed. Chizue had been dead to the world for hours and even now she showed no signs of waking up anytime soon despite his moving and the fact he was speaking right in her ear. Maybe it wasn’t disturbing her because she was dreaming of him.
“Took it so hard last night. For a second I was worried I’d break you.” Dabi crooned with a less than innocent half grin as he held in wicked laughter.
They had come so far in such a short amount of time, but then, Chizue was incredibly easy to please. If all one had to do to be considered her friend was show her basic kindness, then someone like him who had gone above and beyond for her sake would have more than earned her affection.
Chizue’s confession was so predictable of her; a bit cobbled together like a child trying to describe something they didn’t quite grasp, but honest and to the point all the same. The only thing that had actually caught Dabi off guard was the fact she had been so quick to tell him. He swore that she was still somewhat off put by him, or more accurately, what he was capable of.
“So she’s got a thing about fire. Whatever, it’s not like I’m gonna do anything; she trusts me. Chizu’s just feeling skittish because of all the shit that’s been happening and it’s brought up bad memories. It has nothing to do with anything I’ve done.”
Still, Dabi supposed he could at least get a mini fan for the room; he was fine, but if Chizue got heatstroke on top of everything else, it’d just be more problems. He wouldn’t be doing it for nothing of course; if Chizue wanted something, some sort of gesture of appreciation would be very much appreciated in return.
Dabi felt said woman shifting over his chest, morning breath hitting him right in the face as Chizue scooted up closer to his side. Someone must have switched lives with him in the dead of night, because waking up to a woman snuggling into him like a kitten was certainly not part of his daily regimen. The two of them had already slept in long enough, but Dabi wasn’t in any big hurry to rise.
“Well, not all of me.” Dabi glanced downward and shook his head to get rid of the cobwebs in his brain from oversleeping. He turned over so he was completely facing Chizue, but even this wasn’t enough to make her stir; all he got for his subtle effort was a snort.
“Come on, you’ve been passed out long enough sleepyhead.” Dabi winced inwardly as he patted Chizue’s cheek. The teasing endearment just sort of slipped. “Where’d that come from?”
Chizue moaned and pressed her lips together. “Thirsty. I want water.”
“If you want a drink, you need to get up.”
With another light groan, Chizue finally managed to open her eyes, bringing up her other hand to pick out the crust at the corners. Chizue yawned and blinked before her bleary gaze settled on Dabi’s face, and it stayed there for a few seconds, unblinking and searching. Dabi looked back, wondering what had gotten her to look so alert suddenly.
“Wow. Your eyes are pretty.” Chizue blinked the remaining blurriness from her vision and gave him a lopsided smile. “They’re like those marbles in fish tanks.”
Dabi shifted in the bed and tried to move her arm. “Yeah, yeah, just let me up, I need to-”
“Oh you’re hard.” Chizue was staring point blank at his lap.
“It’ll go away. Now let me-”
“Don’t you want me to take care of it?”
Dabi was halfway to assuming he was indeed still sleeping in some bizarre dream of his own imagination as Chizue moved so her head between his legs and undid his pants. Before Dabi could say his opinion one way or the other, his underwear was yanked away and a hot mouth was slicking him up with every time Chizue bobbed her head. Dabi leaned back against the wall, fisting the sheets and feeling his ass and thighs clench as she alternated between deep throating and massaging the underside with her tongue; just as he was about to go along with it all and grab her head to keep her in place, Chizue was up and laying next to him with an almost coy smile.
Dabi felt an irrational spike of hate rush through him; was taking care of morning wood something another man had taught her to do?
“That should be wet enough.” Chizue parted her legs and tugged on his sleeve. “Come on.”
No one had to ask him again. Dabi settled in between her thighs, forcing them apart as far as they could go; Chizue’s smile was wiped off her face as Dabi began to push the tip in.
“Just remember you asked for this.”
The frequency of her little gasps of pleasure only increased with Dabi’s pace as he took her with shallow thrusts; he had really meant to indulge her more, but at this point taking his time wasn’t an option.
It was beyond sweet. No hesitation, not even a mention of her own needs; Chizue was allowing him this with the sole intention of getting him off, even though Dabi was sure she must have still been in some pain from the night before. Chizue was too tight and he could only get himself halfway. It was as if her body was instinctively trying to keep him out and prevent causing any more soreness.
“Hurts.” she gasped and Dabi felt her nails dig into the sides of his arms through the fabric of his jacket.
“Hang on baby. Don’t squirm around too much yet.”
Dabi shoved himself inside as far as he could go, heedless as to whether her shrill scream was from being forced open again so soon with little prep or not.
He didn’t want to hurt her. Really.
Dabi had slowed down for only a moment when Chizue’s hand came up, fingers trembling against his cheek and thumb running down the border of stitches. She smiled encouragingly before yanking him down for air depriving kiss while he fucked her like a man possessed.
He just wanted to mark her in ways that would scar her inside and out.
There were already actual bruises where his hands had grabbed at her legs and hips, and that wasn’t even mentioning the light welts from the places his stitches had scraped her skin. Dabi currently was in control enough to make sure he wasn’t holding on to the same spots now, but her reactions weren’t helping. Chizue’s words were spoken in a dazed sort of way, pleading with him for more and more without any filter or thought to just what she was asking of him.
“Fuck, just can’t get enough can you?”
One of these days Dabi was going to make it so she couldn’t even speak or think. All Chizue would be able to do was look at him as she struggled to keep her eyes open and her mouth closed to keep the people outside from assuming someone was getting murdered instead of wrecked.
After riding out his release for as long as he could, Dabi collapsed the second he couldn’t hold himself up any longer. Chizue caught him, fingers running through his hair and trailing the back of his scalp so gently it almost tickled.
“Hey, you fell for me!”
Chizue was giggling like a little kid. “Get it? ‘Cause you fell on top of me.”
Dabi rested his forehead on her shoulder, too wrapped up in enjoying the afterglow to make a snarky remark.
“Also you’re heavy.”
With a tired groan Dabi pulled out. “Killing the mood here.”
Dabi satisfaction gave way to concern. Chizue made an unambiguous hiss of pain, her body drawing into itself involuntarily; he looked down and there was the faintest streak of blood on his softening length.
“Ow. I was not expecting that.” Chizue looked at him almost sheepishly. “Got any tissues?”
Dabi rose up to fetch something to clean up with, eyes glancing over and surveying his handiwork as he searched. He made a mental note to get her something for the bruises on his shopping trip, among other necessities.
“Damn, I’m gonna have to find you something else to wear.” Dabi wrinkled his nose at the now stained shirt in his hand.
“Can’t I just stay like this? It’s way too hot.” Chizue lounged on her side, head propped up by the hand under her chin. “Dabi, can I see you naked?”
“Trust me, if you couldn’t handle seeing my face, you don’t need the rest.”
Dabi regretted the words as soon as they came out of his mouth; Chizue’s easy smile changed to an apologetic grimace as she tried to find a comfortable position. An ugly thought surfaced; Chizue was probably used to her and her partner being naked.
“And to partners who actually know what the hell they’re doing.”
But still, if just seeing his face had brought up painful memories, seeing everything might just make things more awkward.
“But I’m not thinking about it that way anymore.” Chizue argued as she sat up, promptly falling right back down with a wince. “My thighs hurt.”
Dabi wanted to shoot back a retort, but the look on her face caused his sharp tongue to falter.
“I’ll get you something to drink. Just let me go to the bathroom real quick.”
Dabi shut the door behind him and let out a deep breath before turning on the sink to splash some water on his face. It wouldn’t do much to wash off, but it would refresh him enough. As Dabi ran wet hands through his hair, he took a moment to really look at himself in the mirror; his clothes were rumpled and his hair mussed, but the undamaged bits of his skin positively glowed.
Dabi pressed a finger to his cheek and leaned over to peer into his own eyes; they were shining lucidly. Compared to how his eyes typically stared back at him dully and his body slumped as though it were being dragged around, right now he was feeling downright perky.
“Screw coffee.” Dabi mentally resolved to start every morning in a similar matter if he could, but as soon as that thought was filed away, he felt a bit like scolding himself. “Come on, let’s not get crazy.”
“Dabi, are you done in there?”
“Yeah, hold on.”
Dabi stopped himself last minute from filling up his rinsing cup with the water from the tap, remembering the significantly more drinkable beverages in his fridge. Chizue must have been in pain if she couldn’t even managed to walk the incredibly short distance from the bed to the sort of kitchen.
“Thanks.” Chizue took the bottle of water he handed to her, a bit surprised he hadn’t tossed it. “Whoa, raspberry flavored! Man, what will they think of next?”
“Human flesh flavored?”
“Ew.” Chizue chuckled as she struggled to undo the top of the bottle; it was a sight that was one part funny and another part sad. “I really do need to eat something soon.”
Dabi rubbed the back of his neck as Chizue finally twisted off the cap and drank from it slowly so to not upset her stomach; the last time she had chugged even a bottle of water, it hadn’t ended so well. She found that she could consume most of the blander additions of her diet; Chizue looked forlornly at the sugar filled cans of soda and the cold beer Dabi was currently drinking, but it just wasn’t the right time.
Still, Chizue had to say, being with Dabi was definitely calming and took her mind off her less than healthy condition; he spoke languidly, yet assuredly, and even his barbs and remarks were never spoken with real hostility. It was almost affectionate, at least in a way that said, ‘alright, you’re okay with me, just don’t act too stupid’. Chizue could appreciate that.
“Can I go with you today? I think I can walk okay if I just take it slow.”
“No. You don’t even have anything to wear.”
“Oh yeah. Well, how about afterward? I was thinking of going to visit Magne.”
“I wouldn’t do that. You’re still not very strong and it seems like you won’t be able to ingest much other than broth and noodles.” Dabi reminded her. “Chizu, if someone recognizes us and or picks a fight...well, I’d like to avoid a confrontation while you’re still in this shape.”
“Oh….I guess that makes sense.” Chizue admitted; if she was having trouble even uncapping a bottle of water, she wouldn’t be any use in a scenario where heroes or even other villains were gunning for them. Dabi was strong, but she’d be a sitting duck or weighing him down.
“Maybe I could just go down to the convenience store and-”
“I said no, you idiot.”
Chizue started at his abrupt tone; she had never heard Dabi speak so sharply; she felt both hurt and indignant.
“What’s your problem?”
Dabi exhaled through his nose and sat down in front of her; as hard as it was to take a naked, pouting woman seriously, he knew he needed to choose his next words carefully.
“Do you remember when you passed out on me and I had to carry you here?”
“Well, yeah, what does that have to do with-?”
“And how you were asleep for hours and barely breathing. And then before that you were throwing up constantly and your headaches were so bad you cried?”
“What?!” Chizue gaped. “I never-I mean, I didn’t-”
“You went off on your own when you thought none of the others would notice. I thought it’d be better to leave you to it though, ‘cause I knew you were ashamed.”
Dabi spoke evenly, each word said in a way that conveyed Chizue was fooling no one, especially him. But Chizue still had some defiance left in her.
“I just want to go outside.”
“So now that you’re finally feeling better, you want to screw that up? I haven’t spent the last few days playing nurse for kicks.”
The smidgen of guilt Chizue felt could be seen increasing with the slump of her shoulders and the teeth worrying her bottom lip.
“I wasn’t thinking-”
“That’s because you don’t think.”
Chizue didn’t argue, but she couldn’t help giving Dabi a tiny smile. “Were you really that worried about me?”
“No one wants to see you dead if we can help it; Shigaraki’s finally got plans in mind, and he’ll need all of us to carry them out. You have a responsibility as a member.” Dabi finished off his beer, tossing the empty can into the trash next to the sink. “You have to start thinking about what that means to you and how your actions are going to be affecting the League.”
“I should have asked for help sooner. I’m sorry.”
Dabi didn’t move away as Chizue leaned into his chest, arms wrapped around his nape and nose nuzzling into the crook of his neck; the dead, withered bits of skin felt soft, if not uneven with the ridges and wrinkles. “But you know, I feel lucky to have you looking out for me.”
Dabi gripped her chin lightly to make her look at him. “If that’s how you really feel, don’t leave the apartment without me giving you the okay. Let’s try getting you on eating solids before we do anything major.”
“Alright, alright.” Chizue giggled again at how serious he was being.
“I mean it Chizu. Don’t put me through that hell again.”
The sun was up high in the clear sky now; the way the bright light hit the back of Chizue’s hair made the strands of copper in her hair stand out. It seemed the longer Dabi spent time around her, the more he noticed; details of her features, a suggestion of brains behind the brawn, even traces of deep thought despite her immature outlook on most subjects. Dabi was even beginning to become more aware of the differences in her smiles; pleased, triumphant, teasing, amused, confident, reassuring, bracing, weak, pained.
But the grin that took up the width of Chizue’s face at this moment was new, one that slipped out as soon as Dabi’s statement left his mouth.
“I guess you have a good point. Seems like you know my limits better than I do. But you promise you won’t be gone too long?”
Chizue beamed as if him caring about her was the most wonderful thing she had ever heard.
“Don’t tell me you’re scared to be here alone?” Dabi raised an eyebrow and reigned in himself from throwing her back on the bed for quick last round.
“No way! I’ll miss you though, especially when I don’t have-oh no where’s my phone?! Shit, I don’t think I even remembered to charge it when I-”
“Your phone fell out of your pocket and broke when I was carrying you. Was there anyone outside of the League you need to keep in contact with?”
“Not really.” Chizue looked relieved. “It’ll be a pain getting down all the numbers from places I order food though. Dabi?”
Chizue looked at him questioningly as he gently pushed her away.
“I’m gonna get going now. Just stay put and relax. Drink more water, take a shower, but whatever you do, don’t overexert yourself.”
Dabi paused a moment before bending down to peck her cheek. “And if you’re good, I’ll bring you a treat or something.”
Chizue nodded eagerly before taking the initiative to press her lips to his; he could feel her grinning against his mouth that was pulled tight by the metal stitching. Smiling was actually a bit painful if he did it too suddenly, but Dabi couldn’t help the half grin that broke out and made his lips feel even stiffer.
She was too easy, or more accurately, she trusted him completely. To be fair to Chizue, it wasn’t like Dabi was lying; at worst, he was just withholding a few tidbits. When it dropped, Chizue’s cell phone screen actually had cracked pretty badly, but not beyond repair. As Dabi went through her contact list, he found a big chunk of her saved numbers were from places that delivered and that the majority of her downloaded images were menus from said places. And just as Dabi assumed, Chizue had all the League’s numbers saved, though their names weren’t typed out and were abbreviated so no one else could tell who was who. Dabi thought it was smart of her to think to do that.
But then Dabi’s mood plummeted when he saw that the other half of contacts were names he was not familiar with. They were all men’s names from what Dabi could tell, and Chizue’s history showed a few had tried to contact her recently. Just as Dabi was wondering just what kind of people were the owners of these numbers, a text had popped up on the screen from someone named Kosuke.
Dabi opened the message. The first thing to pop up was the actual text; whoever Kosuke was, he was asking why he hadn’t seen Chizue around in a while and whether they were still on to meet up that night at the usual place.
So in reality, Dabi hadn’t actually been dishonest, because after he was done melting the phone in his hand, smashing it to the ground, grinding the heel of his boot down on the screen until it was dust and had kicked the remains into a sewer drain, the cell phone wasn’t in any shape to be used.
Dabi could at least admit that it was a bit cruel.
A part of him honestly didn’t want to harm a head on Chizue’s head, but another, more bitter part was wanting to exact a little taste of punishment for her earlier transgressions. Dabi just couldn’t shake the thought Chizue comparing him to them and their more refined techniques with undoubtedly healthy and whole bodies that were free from any disfigurements.
If left to his own devices, Dabi would track down each name on the list of people Chizue had associated with so he could slaughter them without batting an eye and take immense satisfaction in doing so while he was at it.
But he couldn’t. His Chizue, his poor, lost, trusting, ignorant Chizue needed him now.
“I’ll take care of them later if the timing’s right.” Dabi told himself as he waved at Chizue from the sidewalk; she was nearly hanging out the window, sticking out her tongue playfully like a child and not a fully grown naked woman leaning out the window to tease a notorious villain like they were high school sweethearts.
“We’re villains. Is what I’m doing so out of place?”
Granted, it was strange, all these things Chizue was dragging to the surface; Dabi’s emotions ran more passionate than some might assume, but they certainly weren’t so turbulent. If there was one thing he was proud of, it was that he knew exactly what he wanted and what he believed in, and no one was going to tell him one way or the other how to live his life, no matter who they were or what his feelings were for them personally.
Hate, anger, jealousy, bitterness, worry, frustration, lust, affection, admiration, love.
Dabi’s hand paused mid wave as Chizue disappeared back into the apartment with that same happy grin she had sported not a few minutes before.
It was within the realm of possibilities everyday could in fact start off the same as it had that morning. Chizue could just be a part of his life from now on. True, nothing was really guaranteed; being villains, they were both wanted criminals who committed acts most people only heard of in horror stories. And besides that, Dabi hadn’t really given much thought to more than what would happen once Chizue was back in good health, or to put a definite label to go with just what his intentions toward her were. It was all secondary to his real goals and he knew they weren’t exactly able to have what would be considered a conventional life with each other.
But even so, they would still be together.
Dabi grimaced to himself. Whenever the thought of the word, he thought of people like Toga. People who were obsessed with the concept or had a warped idea of all the emotion entailed.
“And what about Chizu? All that stuff she was saying...is that how she feels?”
The stitches in his cheeks were pulling his skin so tightly, but Dabi couldn’t bring himself to care about the dull ache. Fake heroes, bullshit perspectives on what constituted justice and order, potential obstacles, even the soon to come dangers he’d have to face; none of it crossed his mind and nothing could wipe the twisted, crooked grin off his face right now.
He was in love.
Most of the women Dabi had the privilege of coming across in his life were incurably insane, or at the least were regretfully driven to the brink at some point or other. Dabi was self aware and sensible enough to admit his own actions and ideas may be what the public at large deemed as ‘wrong’ or ‘extreme’ or ‘sociopathic’. Granted, Dabi didn’t agree, but he also wasn’t naive enough to think his ideals wouldn’t be met with challenges; at least the things he did weren’t justified with the flippant explanation ‘I just want to’ or ‘it seemed like a good idea at the time’. Now those kind of people were the real freaks.
With this in mind, Dabi figured Chizue’s parents must have been a bit scared of their daughter before they died. What kind of little kid, even a weird kid, thinks it’s okay to fry up their friend’s disembodied fingers? Of course, Chizue probably wasn’t the variant of psycho toddler who tortured little animals in her backyard kind of crazy. That was just senseless cruelty.
If Dabi had to take a stab at it, Chizue would be caught somewhere between the ‘accidentally cuddling a puppy so hard it suffocated’ and ‘strangling the puppy to death if it attacked her’ type. When someone’s impulsiveness and lack of foresight rivaled Shigaraki and Toga’s, Dabi knew the best idea probably would have been to avoid Chizue at all costs.
One time as Chizue was trying to fall asleep snuggled into his chest, cheek pressing against the cold metal of his stitches, she took it upon herself to relay to Dabi one of her trips to the movies. Story time was one of the many occurrences that were becoming a part of their time together; not one for talking, Dabi didn’t really mind listening on as Chizue rambled on this and that while she used him for a pillow. Dabi even managed to see the humor of the situation when a few strands of Chizue’s hair had become caught in one of his staples; she had leaned in to blow a raspberry on his scarred cheek when she thought he wasn’t paying attention.
During her latest tale, Chizue was watching a suspenseful mystery thriller, and during one of the films more tense, quiet scenes, someone had taken a call on their cell phone; if Dabi ever bothered to go to movies, and if he wanted to keep a low profile, his course of action would have been to either approach (wordlessly intimidate) the man himself or alerted a staff member. It just made sense.
Chizue had taken the phone, hung it up, and threw it outside the theater before returning to her popcorn; when the other movie goer confronted her, she punched him in the face hard enough to knock him out. And then Chizue kept eating, not sparing a second glance at the man slumped over in his seat with a nosebleed; no one there dared say a word. After a few seconds of silence excluding the dialogue on the screen, a young thuggish looking man sitting next to her had burst into hysterical laughing and clapped her on the back for a ‘showing that asshole what for’. Chizue shared one of her boxes of candy; when the movie was over and the lights had dimmed, they made plans to go to another upcoming superhero flick they had both been dying to see. Chizue didn’t know if anyone ever bothered to carry out the man she had struck.
Dabi didn’t comment on the irony of a villain going out to a theater to watch a movie about superheroes; the voice in the back of his mind was too preoccupied trying to figure out if the man had been in her contact list while he fucked her into the mattress and scratched red lines onto her skin from the edges of the staples on his hands.
So, with his history of meeting insane people, Dabi certainly never expected to fall in love with anyone period.
“Where’s my underwear?”
It must have been because she was cute. If Chizue was ugly, surely he wouldn’t be so willing to handle all the insanity.
The hem of Chizue’s new nightgown fluttered down to the tops of her knee caps as she spun in it; it wasn’t strictly new, being from the same second hand shop Dabi had purchased the miniature rotating fan, but it was new to her. It was made of light pink cotton and sleeveless; Dabi had taken to heart her complaints to the at times sweltering summer heat that always made its way into his apartment. After all, Chizue recuperation would be hindered if she did indeed end up passing out from the heat and she really couldn’t walk around the place in the nude, no matter how convenient it was.
They were getting to a point where Chizue was sleeping more regular hours, and even her appetite was showing signs of returning after a week straight of flavored water, soup, and nibbling on pieces of bread and crackers and asking for seconds. Chizue’s muscles were still on the small side, but she had been thankfully able to put on weight due to not throwing up any of the food she consumed.
The most promising sign Chizue’s overall health was showing improvement was the fact her attitude had been on a steady incline from occasional grins and jibes to making Dabi want to clamp a hand over her mouth to get a break from her chortling and snorting at every little thing.
But then, Dabi also couldn’t help the smugness that leaked into his own crooked grins as Chizue smiled and joked and blustered. He knew a big factor in this development was because of his influence; Chizue had even said so.
Of course, right now she looked more confused, pulling up the skirt of her night dress and frowning as she glanced up at Dabi expectantly.
“What? You were the one wanting to go around naked before, what’s the big deal?”
“I don’t get it though; why buy me pjs without underwear?”
Chizue either didn’t notice or didn’t care how her pebbling nipples stood out, dark in comparison to the pastel pink and just visible through the thin cloth. She had been gaining back some of her weight, but the dress still managed to hang a bit on her frame; the straps were loose and threatening to slide down her shoulders.
Strike that. It had to be because she was adorable.
"An adorable cannibal. I sure know how to pick 'em.” Dabi inwardly drawled as Chizue waited for an explanation. “Without panties I can just flip up your skirt for easy access. It takes less time.”
“Hey you’re right!” Chizue clapped her hands together. “Okay, then I guess there’s no real need for it until I leave. Dabi, did you get any of my clothes from my room in the base?”
“No time, had to be in and out.”
“Oh okay. What’s happening over there? I hope Shigaraki isn’t mad I’m still not feel so great. Does he know I can keep down bread now?”
‘Who gives a shit what he thinks’ was on the tip of his tongue, but Dabi cleared his throat and opted to answer her questions.
“He understands you’d be more of a liability at this point if you stuck around there. Don’t sweat it, they’re fine.”
Actually, the second Dabi stepped inside the decrepit building, all hell broke loose. Toga and Twice were pestering him with questions about her well being, Spinner was bugging him as to why he hadn’t gotten Chizue a new phone if hers was broken or at least a walkie talkie, and then Mr. Compress had mentioned how Shigaraki was actually trying to reach her through her cell phone and was pissed he only heard of the sudden arrangements through Mr. Compress instead of Dabi himself. In fact, according to Shigaraki, Dabi should have gone to him directly before taking Chizue off on his own. Mr. Compress was devoid of any witty remarks for once, but Dabi could have sworn he was being studied behind that black and white mask as he went to talk with Shigaraki on what had happened.
It wasn’t really anything that personal, but at the end of the day, Dabi had only so much loyalty to their new leader, and that didn’t include making him informed on what Dabi considered his own private business. Why the hell did Shigaraki need to know where Chizue was exactly or the specifics of how she was doing? There was no practical reason for Dabi to give out his apartments location and no need for Shigaraki to be so concerned, for any of them to be so quick to question why he hadn’t been keeping in touch or at least why he hadn’t allowed Chizue to.
They were acting as if Dabi was personally seeing that they didn’t have contact with her and that simply wasn’t so. He was busy taking care of her and making sure their newest member was back to her full strength. Besides, they were all being so damn loud and he already had to stop by on another errands run for Chizue before returning to their apartment.
Dabi chuckled and allowed Chizue to hog the blanket to cocoon herself for a nap.
“What’s mine is ours. But she knows it goes both ways.”
“Are you just gonna laze around all day?”
Chizue nodded her head eagerly. “I did stretches while you were gone though and they didn’t upset my stomach.”
“Well that’s good, no need to make yourself sick.”
Before he knew it, Chizue would be well enough to stick close to their base once more, which is what Dabi wanted. He didn’t want her to be sick and miserable and he knew she needed to regain her prior strength to stay part of the League.
Earlier at the convenience store, Dabi had noticed a bottle labeled syrup of ipecac that induced vomiting while he browsed the shelves for aspirin; this particular medicine was meant to be used when someone had ingested poison or the like. Just a dose of it in someone’s food or drink might be enough to cause said individual to throw up like they had the stomach flu. If one wanted to really be sneaky, they could use cherry flavoring and disguise it as cold medicine.
“What are you thinking about?” Chizue turned her face upward; she was lying halfway on his chest. Dabi thought it was odd that despite how often she complained about overheating, she would not hesitate to jump into bed with him and his body that was perpetually warm.
Chizue beamed wordlessly and Dabi brushed her hair back from her face; the fan was on her side (she claimed the spot next to the window) and the artificial breeze was making the ends up her hair tangle a bit.
“Wait, good or bad?”
“A little of both, I guess.”
“Oh okay.” Chizue’s smile fell. “Um, hey…”
Dabi blinked; it was not often Chizue actually stopped to consider her words before speaking.
“I just...well, I was actually wondering lately if…”
Suddenly, Chizue was sitting up straight as Dabi lay back. The view was nice to be sure, though it was somewhat diminished by the nervousness Chizue was emitting as she grasped the hem of her night gown, compulsively twisting the fabric a she struggled to express herself.
“I like your eyes.”
“But sometimes they...you look tired and like you’re thinking of something. Something sad.” Chizue frowned. “Something sad.”
“That’s an odd observation.” Dabi didn’t deny or confirm her words, but he did allow her to take one of his hands in hers.
“And I know I’m not very smart but, even someone like me can...well, have you heard of magic conch shells?”
Dabi stared; for once, he was the one not really following the conversation. “Magic...shells?”
“Yeah!” Chizue nodded earnestly. “You get a shell and you tell it a secret or a wish or something, and then you throw it into the ocean so it never gets out.”
“I want you to use me that way. Except for the throwing me in the ocean part. I can’t swim.” Chizue added. “You’ve been so good to me and I feel better because of you. I just really hope you can trust me to help you when the time comes, or you can even just tell me things or really anything you want. If you’re mad, or upset, or frustrated, it’s fine by me. I want to hear it all.”
“Because I just want to.”
“Is that really a good reason?”
Chizue shrugged. “Works for me.”
Dabi patted the space next to him and Chizue immediately laid back down; her eyes had never wavered once from his face.
“You’ll accpet anything I say?”
Dabi chuckled. “Alright then. Fine.”
Chizue’s eyes went wide as Dabi pulled his shirt over his head and let it fall to the side of the bed; with a brief glance in her direction, he shimmied out of his pants, but kept on his boxers. He settled down next to her, hand holding up his head, heart hammering away deafeningly loud in his own ears.
Chizue began slipping out of her dress, but Dabi grabbed her hand to make her stop.
“Hey, why’d ya do that?” Chizue pouted.
“Don’t ignore me. You said anything, so own up to-”
“Oh!” Chizue lightly smacked her hand to her forehead. “I thought we were going to do it. You don’t want to?”
“I-” Dabi paused and thought for a moment, hand still holding her wrist. After some thinking, he made her pull her dress back down. “No. Not yet anyway.”
“Okey dokey.” Chizue didn’t look the least bit disappointed, but Dabi knew it wasn’t out of relief. She was just generally okay with basically whatever he wanted to do.
“Now I mean it, don’t throw me in the ocean.” Chizue reminded him.
“I’m not done yet.”
Chizue was at attention. “What else? Is there something wrong?”
“What if I never told you my real name? What if you didn’t know anything about me from before we met? Does it really not bug you?” Dabi looked down at her seriously. “I don’t need you pestering me about it in the future, you ask enough questions as it is.”
“Well, I want to know, but that’s okay. Heck, I don’t know all that much about the other members lives before I joined either. And besides, as long as you don’t mind it, I don’t either. What matters is right now and right now, I like you.” Chizue grinned cheekily. “And I really like seeing you naked, so that’s pretty awesome too.”
Dabi didn’t say anything and Chizue’s smile fell slowly.
How could she? How could Chizue tell him this now of all times? Wasn’t it enough he was dreading the day they’d have to return to the real world together? Wasn’t it already bad enough he’d have to go back to sharing her? And sure, it’s not like with their duties Dabi would be able to spend as much time with her as he was now when his duty was to oversee her condition. He had his own plans and dreams he wanted to see come to fruition more than anything else.
At least, that was how it used to be. All Dabi’s concentration and effort, the thing keeping him moving forward was this drive of his to change the world and make people see things the way they actually were.
But now there was this annoying, nagging little itch that kept reminding him that in a week or so Chizue would probably be all better and then she’d have to return to her own life as opposed to being holed up in his crap apartment and waiting for him and talking only to him and only touching him.
“No. You’re fine Chizu.”
Dabi made up his mind. Everything would be just fine. Now that they were together, nothing would keep them separate. Chizue wanted to be with him and was no longer fearful or anxious; in fact, Dabi felt it safe to say she was happy, even if she did want to go back to the League and go to movies and be able to stuff her face again.
As long as Chizue returned to him at the end of the day and kept him in her fondest thoughts, Dabi could handle that. Besides, he wanted to avoid doing anything to make her health or her peace of mind around him waver.
Chizue really could be cute when she was in her element, even when she was yammering away and hacking up water when she laughed or giving him grief for being so warm, despite it being she who refused to move from his side in bed; Dabi knew if she still felt the same way about him as before, she would have never felt so comfortable interacting with him as she did now.
When Chizue looked at him now, there were no far off memories of gore and fire or lingering bad dreams in her eyes. All she saw was him, just as he was, and for some inane reason it made her radiate happiness. Dabi already knew she was crazy, but he supposed she was his kind of crazy.
With a faint smile, Dabi gathered Chizue in his arms, giving her a light squeeze before telling her to take a nap with him before dinner, a silent thank you he hoped she could hear over the whir of the electric fan and the throbbing in his chest.
Of course. Of- fucking -course it couldn’t last.
Dabi had come back from the store hoping to have a small celebration; for the last three days, Chizue had been eating meat. Dabi had actually gone to the trouble of cutting up pieces of chicken breast into smaller bite sized pieces, seasoning them lightly, and baking them as directed. He fed them to Chizue himself, albeit very slowly, and by the end of the meal Chizue was happy to report she didn’t even feel the slightest bit nauseous. They stuck to the same recipe Dabi had found online, with the addition of soup and some rolls, and the day before Chizue even requested seconds.
They still had leftover, breaded pieces of chicken actually, but Dabi thought her progress called for something special. He went out and purchased a personal sized rotisserie chicken with crackling skin and a heady aroma that he could smell even through the plastic covering. Dabi almost bought a bottle of sweet plum wine, but decided alcohol might not be so willingly digested yet, no matter how much Chizue begged to let her have some.
Now he was having second thoughts. A drunk, vomiting Chizue might have detracted from the current shit he was in.
“Dabi...why do you have these?”
Chizue was sitting in the middle of the bed, cross legged and holding up a pair of panties.
“Chizu, it’s not what you think. I swear, those aren’t from someone else.” Dabi set down the container of steaming chicken on the counter by the sink. “You believe me right?”
“I do. I know these aren’t someone else’s.”
Dabi felt instant relief.
For two seconds.
“These are mine.”
Suddenly, it all made sense; in truth, Dabi really had been completely surprised when Chizue presented the unfamiliar pair of underwear to him. Dabi had meant to purchase her some of her own at some point, and for a wild second he had wondered if he already had and simply forgotten. In his grappling for an answer to why Chizue was holding a pair of panties in her hands with a pensive look on her face, Dabi had not recognized the silky fabric as the cloth he had torn from Yuudai’s hand moments before he set him and his room ablaze.
But Chizue had.
“Dabi...how did you get these?”
Dabi switched gears. “I wanted to surprise you. I bought them earlier. Remember you said you wanted some underwear?”
“These are mine.”
“Yeah, I went to the base and picked them up for you.”
“You just said you bought them.”
“My mistake.” Dabi shrugged and went over to uncover the chicken and serve dinner. “You hungry Chizu? I got you something nice, real high end spot downtown-”
“How did you get these?”
Dabi slammed the chicken down on the counter. “Why the fuck are you hung up on the goddamn underwear? I just spent an hour, sneaking around so no one would recognize me to get you something to eat. A thank you would be nice.”
Chizue didn’t look the least bit perturbed. In fact, there was an odd sort of vacantness to her stare.
“I was cleaning up to thank you. I found these in the space between the wall and the bed.” Chizue held the cloth a bit closer to her eyes with a shaking hand. “There’s a stain on the waistband. I was eating barbecue, and a little fell. The last time I saw these they were-”
Chizue felt the panties yanked from her loose grip; Dabi was chuckling, skin taut around the staples in his cheeks. He tossed aside the panties in the trash bin and pulled Chizue close.
“Baby, come on, I wanted to spend a nice night with you.”
Dabi trailed a hand up and down her bare arm; there were goosebumps popping up where his fingers trailed patterns. How he loved her soft, soft skin that she let him mark and make so pretty.
“I’m real happy you’re feeling better after I’ve been taking care of you all this time. It wasn’t easy, but I did it for you. Ya know, I’d do anything for you Chizu. You know that, don’t you?”
Dabi leaned in to press a kiss to her neck in the exact spot he had bitten and sucked at last night; she had tilted her head back with the sweetest moan, desperate for him, needing him.
Chizue didn’t slap him, didn’t even try to punch him, but it was a blow all the same when she practically leapt away from him like she was about to be bitten by a rabid dog.
“Or a grotesque, patched up freak.” Dabi thought with savage bitterness.
Despite her abrupt retreat, Chizue did not look afraid. She had the same look on her face; it was as if she couldn’t comprehend what was happening, her body only running on instinct.
It was entirely possible she was having difficulty comprehending what was happening; Dabi didn’t know. Had Chizue ever had to face such a betrayal?
“No. Not a betrayal. I did it for her. For us.”
Dabi stayed where he was as Chizue muttered to herself; her knees were drawn up, her hands clinging to the window sill for purchase as if to keep herself from collapsing.
“Yuudai...the fire...no, but…he took them and...” Chizue blinked, her eyes rising up to lock on his. “You knew.”
Dabi shrugged his shoulders a fraction. “I knew.”
“It was you. But...no, no,” Chizue’s face cracked into a smile, a desperate, pleading smile. “No, you couldn’t have. You wouldn’t, you didn’t, Dabi-”
“I was thinking of you. I made it quick. I bet he barely felt it.”
Chizue’s smile was wiped away, her face stricken with shock despite it being terribly obvious. Of course Chizue, who never paid attention to details, who put absolute faith in the ones she assumed were worthy of her trust, would be the last to figure it out. Dabi felt a surge of affection well up in his hollowed out heart; it was just so like her.
“You lied...to me.” Chizue put emphasize on the last word, as though it was the worst part of his crime. “I was...I wanted to die.”
The affection was replaced with hate. “Over him?”
“Yes-no. It was everything.” Chizue decided, almost speaking as if to herself. “But he was my friend...you were my friend...but you lied to me.”
“I didn’t lie.”
“I. Didn’t. Lie.” Dabi said each word with finality. “I never said I didn’t kill him.”
Chizue let out a half sob at the confession; hearing it from his lips was different than thinking it.
“Oh my god…”
“So?” Dabi managed a half smile. “Chizu, we’re villains. I mean, come on, remember how you wasted that guy when you joined? And you did it because he was being obnoxious and wouldn’t leave.”
“He wasn’t my friend.” Chizue reminded him. Her voice was barely a whisper, her expression still pained, yet confused. Maybe she didn’t want to believe it, but how could she deny it at this point? Ignorant as she was, Chizue was not truly stupid enough to refuse to see the truth when it was staring her in the face.
“You killed him because he was in your way. How is what I did any different?”
Chizue gazed at him with glistening eyes. “Killing him didn’t almost kill someone I cared about.”
Dabi ran a hand through his hair as Chizue bent her head and wept silently into her open palm.
“Chizu, don’t cry. I didn’t mean to upset you.”
“Yuudai…” Chizue whimpered pitifully, looking very much like a child in her rumpled night dress, her hair falling into her tear stained face as she struggled to breathe. “You killed Yuudai, you lied to me-”
“He was going to come between us.”
“Yuudai didn’t care how many friends I had!” Chizue said wretchedly, eyes clenched closed against the tears, as if doing so would make them cease and keeping herself from seeing Dabi would make the pain go away with them.
Dabi frowned. “Friends? Newsflash, that guy wanted a lot more than friendship.”
“So what?! Why do you care?”
Dabi drew himself up indignantly. “I care because-!”
The wind was knocked out of him. Dabi shut his mouth and looked on as Chizue shook violently in her corner, blind to it all as he became consumed in his realization.
Not once had Chizue ever said she loved him; Dabi recalled her use of a term in some previous, long forgotten conversation about Yuudai and her past partners. She had used the phrase, ‘like-like’ to describe romantic feelings. At the time Dabi had thought it immature, perhaps endearingly silly even. It was befitting of her innocent view on what sex was for. Chizue saw sexual intercourse as something to do to fulfill her desires, an act to satisfy her physical needs, almost like masturbation. But instead of a toy or her fingers, Chizue used an actual person; no intention of harm or foul. Just release.
For her, it was as natural as eating when she was hungry. And if that wasn’t enough to make drill the reality of it all into Dabi’s head, Chizue had never repeated the childish words to him in all of the times she paid him compliments or cuddled up to him or let him fuck her. Dabi recalled vaguely her interactions with Yuudai on the night of his death; had she not been just as friendly, as playful and casual as she was with him?
At the most, Dabi was just a bit closer to her than all the others. Chizue saw him as a dear, friend, a trusted comrade, a fun lover.
And that was it.
Dabi wanted to throw up.
“How could you? You knew, all this time…”
A choked sob brought Dabi from his musings. Chizue was still there; she did care for him, and a lot if the fact she was feeling so utterly destroyed by his perceived betrayal was anything to go by.
Dabi smiled as kindly as he could attempt. He could fix this.
“I didn’t lie Chizu. I just didn’t tell you how it happened; I didn’t want to confuse you, not when we were having such a good time. Remember that? I took care of you through it all, didn’t I baby? It’s me, you know I wouldn’t hurt you on purpose.”
Chizue raised her red, wet face. “But-but you lied to me.”
“No, no, I never lied.”
“It was better this way. You wouldn’t have understood back then, but now-”
“-you killed my friend. And Magne just died...you...you had to have known how I-”
“It’s not the same as Magne. He was just after your money anyway, he didn’t really care, he-”
“I cared about him. I never would have wanted it that way.” Chizue told him softly, head hung and eyes unseeing. “He was still my friend. I liked him-!”
“And I love you!”
Chizue’s body was as limp as a ragdoll; she allowed Dabi to pull her to him, to cradle her head to his chest, to run his fingers through her hair.
“Don’t you get it?” Dabi held her tightly as though she’d just vanish the second he let his arms go slack. Yet, maybe his fear had some basis at this point. “I’d be twice what he was. Would he have looked after you like I have? Would he have done what I’ve done or made you feel as good?”
Dabi slowly pressed hungry kisses to the side of her neck, brushing her hair off her shoulder to get access to as much skin as possible. Chizue leaned forward until her chin was resting against his shoulder; Dabi smirked and licked a long stripe up to her ear, teeth sinking into the rim lightly.
“My Chizu…I know I can make you feel so good...”
Chizue’s thoughts mirrored his own. Almost.
Dabi started as he felt her teeth sink into the burnt skin of his neck just deep enough to draw blood; with a frustrated snarl he forced down Chizue with one hand on her shoulder and another raised above his head, smoking and crackling embers. All forms of struggling ceased and Dabi looked down at Chizue’s petrified look of fear.
“So it’s come to this? Not that eating even a little of me would do you much good. My flames would be still be stronger and you’ve still barely eaten at all today. Besides, brawn doesn’t beat being scorched to a crisp.”
Her whole body broke out into a cold sweat. “Stop it, please!”
“I’m not doing nothing.” Dabi let the small flames dance in his palm as he held it closer to her face. “But you aren’t being very nice Chizu. After everything I’ve done for you too…oh, going to sleep again?”
Not seconds after Dabi had brought his burning hand closer to her had Chizue fainted, passed out from sheer terror at what he looked ready to do. It might have hurt how she looked at him, but Dabi was numbed. He knew dwelling on the pain wouldn’t solve anything and he only had so much time until Chizue woke up. Dabi kissed her deeply to bring himself some comfort despite him tasting his own blood on her tongue. It wasn’t half bad, but it wasn’t half as good as she tasted either.
“Gonna have to watch that pretty mouth of yours.”
When Chizue did finally awake, her mouth was stretched out wide around a gag; her ankles and wrists felt just as stiff. She would have dozed longer were it not for the banging noise pulling her out of her fear induced fainting spell; through bleary eyes, Chizue spotted Dabi kneeling on the edge of the mattress. At first she thought her eyes were playing tricks on her, but even in the dim moonlight streaming in from the window Chizue could see he was hammering at something. Still praying she was half asleep, Chizue looked around her; at the corners of each mattress stood metal poles that almost touched the low ceiling.
“Don’t roll around, you’ll fall off the side.” Dabi warned her casually, thought Chizue had no idea how he knew she had regained consciousness when he was still facing away from her.
“I can see your reflection in the metal. I finally sprung for a bedframe and posts; not too shabby for second hand either.” Dabi told her conversationally enough. “We’ll be snoozing like royalty.”
Chizue tried to speak, but the gag muffled all sounds.
“Chizu, didn’t your folks teach you not to talk with your mouth full before-well, you know, your mouth was full of them?” Dabi looked over his shoulder and gave her an almost apologetic half smile. “Sorry, that was pretty bad. Looks like your twisted sense of humor has rubbed off on me.”
Dabi spent another minute hammering in the last post through the metal loop that was welded to the bed frame supporting the new mattress.
“Since you’ll be spending more time here, I thought I might as well just buy the set and get a new bed. Beats laying on that old lumpy mess, right Chizu?” Dabi waited, but received no answer. “Oh yeah, the gag. I only put that on you to avoid more sneak attacks. If you tried to scream for help, no one would hear. Or care. Sad, huh? That’s why this world needs a change.”
Chizue turned on her side just enough so she didn’t have to see him; Dabi sighed and packed up his few tools, stowing them in the sink cabinet. Then he heard her stomach rumble.
“Oh, and before I give you any food, we need to establish some new ground rules.”
Dabi rolled Chizue over so she was facing him, even if she refused to look right at him; her eyelids were red and puffy. Chizue didn’t look angry or like she was going to attack him. It was as if all the fight had been zapped out, either from the sudden turn of events or a lack of food, Dabi could only guess.
“I’m going to secure your hands and feet to each post. I mean, I could just kill you with my Quirk whenever I wanted, but I’d like to avoid that. Buy I don’t want to deal with you kicking and hitting me.” Dabi explained to her with no trace of humor. “I’ll only give you as much as you need to keep from starving; I know by now how much you can handle. Chizu, can I take off the gag?”
Chizue’s eyes slid over to look at him wearily; she nodded once before switching her gaze back to the wall. Dabi petted her hair before undoing the strap around her head; she didn’t scream or curse. She didn’t say a word.
“Chizu, we don’t have to be this way. If you’re good, I’ll start giving you more to eat. Once I know you’ve come around, I’ll let you go and we can go back to the base together.”
Chizue stared at him, searching his face for answers. “Wait, the others, do they-?”
“They think you’re still sick. I told them you might be here a while longer; Shigaraki complained a bit, but he’s fine.” Dabi’s face broke out in a tight smile. “I’m glad you’re talking to me again.”
Chizue frowned and turned her face away. “I’m not surprised they believed you. You’re a good liar. Had me fooled anyway.”
Dabi brought his hand to her face. “Chizu, I meant everything I said.”
“No you didn’t. You’re so good at lying, you believe your own lies.”
Now Dabi was both puzzled and irritated, even if her voice pleased him. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
“Maybe you’re right Dabi. I never thought about it, not surprisingly,” Chizue laughed hollowly at her own jibe at herself. “But you were right. I’m a hypocrite. I killed people as easily and as thoughtlessly as how you killed Yuudai.”
Dabi’s grin only grew; he propped her up and made to loosen her bonds. “Exactly. Chizu, we’re more alike than we think. It’s just more proof we-”
“I’m not done Dabi.”
“Chizu, wait a sec. Look, I know you’ve been through a lot. I don’t even blame you for being mad at me. We can work through it Chizu...I’ll make you happy again.” Dabi caressed her cheek, loving the softness under his fingers. “I know it’s hard, but I’m still the same person who’s been looking after you. I still love you. Anything you need to say, I’ll listen.”
“Alright, here it goes. Everything coming out of your mouth is bullshit.”
Chizue words took him aback; any force behind the statement was absent; she spoke in a dull, defeated matter. In truth, she wasn’t trying to sound brave or biting; Chizue was not able to muster the strength to put on a show when she was so emotionally and mentally drained. All she could really feel now was hopelessness, hurt, and disappointment.
“I may be stupid, but even I know when you love people you don’t want to hurt them.”
“I never wanted to hurt you.”
“Then why did you? Why did you kill my friend when you knew I was already upset about Big sis? Why put me through that all over again?” Chizue demanded to know, though she didn’t really expect an answer, or at least not one that would satisfy her.
“You saw the notebook. He wanted you.”
“Then you did it for yourself. Don’t lie to me anymore than you already have Dabi.” Chizue bit her lip to keep it from trembling. “I may be a villain, I may be screwed up, but I wouldn’t have ever put you through that.”
“Don’t you get it? I trusted you!”
Dabi let his hand still as Chizue wormed out of his arms; she flung herself on her side with a wail of frustration at her bound arms and legs. With nothing else to do, she buried her face in the pillow and cried out in sobs that hurt her already raw throat.
“I trusted you, I-I-just leave me alone! I ain’t running, I want to go back to the League. It’s the only place I have to go and Shigaraki wouldn’t let someone who knows inside info just walk away from the League of Villains in the first place.” Chizue spat out, face still halfway in the pillow.
“Then you’ll give me a second chance?”
“Didn’t you hear me? I said I was going back to the League; if I got to work with you, fine, but that’s it.” Chizue stared at him from the corner of her bloodshot eye. “And that’s all. I just hope you die in a fight with one of those pro heroes so you can burn in hell!”
Before Dabi could make a sound, his felt a buzzing in his pocket; Mr. Compress’ was requesting a video chat. He accepted the call.
“I wanted to know how our Chizue is doing. I heard from Shigaraki that she might be staying with you longer and-”
“No, she’s not. She’s fine to go.”
“Oh? Well, when should we be expecting you? We have a lot to discuss, Shigaraki’s wants everyone at the base if possible.”
Mr. Compress cocked his head so his mask looked askew. “Is there something the matter? Don’t tell me Chizue is ill again?”
“Oh...then make sure to arrive within three hours and make sure you’re not followed.”
“Yeah. We’ll be there.”
Dabi hung up and stuffed his phone back into his pocket. “Duty calls.”
“Then let me loose already. My hands are gonna fall asleep.”
Dabi looked down at her for a full minute.
“Is it really so black and white for you? One fuck up and you’re all set to hate my guts?”
Dabi crawled over her and cautiously placed his hand over the ropes binding her legs; the knot was burned and it snapped with little resistance. Once again, Dabi was surprised when Chizue didn’t make a move to kick him. Maybe she was smarter than he gave her credit for; after all, it wouldn’t do to anger him when she was still in a position where he had the advantage.
Chizue did try to sit up, but then Dabi gently made her lay back.
“We still have three hours to kill.”
“Don’t touch me.”
“But you liked it.”
Dabi parted her legs; she was still wearing the night gown.The clothes he had brought Chizue from the base were in his cramped bathroom. They were folded on the sink for after her shower.
“Do you have a heart at all Chizu? You said you liked me, that you’d accept everything I had to confess.” Dabi pulled her dress up to her waist. Chizue was still as a statue and eyeing him warily. “I won’t hurt you baby. I just-I just want us to go back. I can make you feel good again, like before. Don’t you want to feel good? Don’t you want to come? I love making you feel good. I love-”
Dabi swallowed and shut himself up.
“Fine then.” Chizue just glared coldly. “Seems to me it’s all you’re actually good for.”
“Let’s make a deal. I’m a reasonable guy.” Dabi nuzzled her thigh, struggling not to dig his fingers in and trap her there. “You only let me touch you like this. Whenever you need to come, you go straight to me and I won’t kill anyone else-that you care about.” he corrected and smirked up at her hungrily, hoping she saw all the lust and love he had for her in his eyes alone. “How’s that sound Chizu?”
“I don’t want to see your face.”
Dabi buried his head between her spread thighs, tongue lapping and swirling around her folds just the way she liked; in no time Chizue was soaking, but not a sound came from her lips. Dabi sucked and licked and even pumped a couple of fingers inside to rub her clenching pussy, but it was no good. Even the taste of her coming on his mouth didn’t bring a sound past her lips; she would not allow it.
“She said she loved how the stitches felt cold.”
When Dabi looked up, chin and mouth wet from her climax, Chizue was already worming her chafed wrists from the ropes, gaze almost bored as she managed to wriggle her hands free.
Chizue undressed right there and tossed the night dress into the trash bin before making her way to the bathroom for her clothes.
“We should get going. I need a shower.”
“It’s fine. I’m the only one from now on. We have time. I can fix this.”
“Are you coming or what?”
Chizue stood at the door, waiting for him by the door frame with a look that said she couldn’t care less what he did. Perhaps she had no room to feel angry or vengeful when she had spent her life committing crimes just as heinous, but then, she always was childish. Dabi thought of a child who spurned and ignored the things they didn’t like without knowing the definition of compromise or forgiveness.
Dabi supposed she could be cruel when pushed.
“I’m gonna clean up first.”
“Whatever.” Chizue turned on her heel, heart devoid of guilt or empathy for the man she once considered a friend.
Dabi was not the kind of scum who would force a woman into a relationship with him, despite being the kind who would do anything to keep them from being with anyone else. Besides, what was the point? Dabi knew exactly how Chizue’s mind worked by now; caging her would only make her hate him and as much as she surely did now, he didn’t think he could handle it if he had to wake up to her loathing him every morning.
But this Dabi could get by on, at least for now when their time would soon be spent fulfilling the wishes of a madman they called their leader. And then, with a lot of patience and hard work, Chizue would understand and then she would regret leaving as she did.
And she would love him.
"I suppose it can't be helped..."
Dabi licked his lips and took her night dress out of the otherwise empty bin. It smelled just like peaches.
“I think it’s called Stockholm Syndrome.”
“Actually Toga, the term you’re thinking of is called Lima Syndrome.”
Mr. Compress spoke low and gestured to the couch occupied by Dabi and Chizue, who had only just come into the room; she sat at one end and Dabi settled in right next to her with a bag of chips, arm slung over the back rest and hand hanging close to her shoulder. With a sly half smile he pulled out a perfectly round chip and brought it to her lips; Chizue shook her head and looked down at her lap. After a few seconds, she stood up and walked away.
“You see, Lima Syndrome is the phenomenon when the abductor develops feelings for their captive.” Mr. Compress told Toga. “Notice how Chizue is the one rebuffing his advances.”
In the two weeks of Chizue’s return to the League, the changes in her had been evident; in almost no time at all she was joking and telling stories and was even gaining strength by sparring with Toga during their wrestling lessons. It was almost as if Chizue was making up for the lost time she had spent sick.
Every time she smiled and teased another member or laughed, Dabi felt it was a sort of consolation prize; after all was said and done, it had still been him who had practically nursed her back to health.
“Hey, hey, did you know Dabi tried to give her chocolate candied roses?” Toga leaned in to speak in Mr. Compress’ ear. “Chizue-chan said she wasn’t hungry and let me have them. At first I thought she was trying to make a pass at me!”
“I don’t know what’s odder,” Mr. Compress was able to discreetly study Dabi as he glumly popped a chip into his mouth. “Dabi courting Chizue or Chizue turning down food.”
“I wish someone would give me a dozen candied roses. Or at least let me have a few vials of their blood; I could wear one like a good luck charm.”
“It would be useful to have another’s blood on your person in case of emergency.”
“You two know I can hear everything you’re saying right?”
Toga cupped her hand around her ear. “Mr. Compress, I think I’m hearing a voice. It’s saying, ‘alone forever’.”
Dabi gave her an unimpressed look. “I hear someone asking to get themselves killed.”
Mr. Compress decided to cut his losses and approach Dabi. “All banter aside, there is something I’ve been wanting to discuss with you Dabi.”
“Well, I couldn’t help notice how unhappy you became when Shigaraki insisted on discussing why you took Chizue off to your apartment without telling any of us.”
“Chizu was in critical condition. There wasn’t any time to waste.”
“And about you telling her that Shigaraki had specifically asked you to look over her health?”
Dabi didn’t so much as hesitate. “What’s your point?”
Toga cocked her head curiously. “Oh so it is Stockholm.”
Dabi shot her a look. “I didn’t kidnap Chizu; I was worried about her, okay? And it all worked out. She got better, we became friends-”
“Then why has she been avoiding you?”
“She isn’t avoiding me.”
There was technically some truth to Dabi’s claim. Nearly every night he approached Chizue with the offer to relieve any urges she might have pent up, and almost every night she had accepted and they would either go back to his apartment or her room.
Albeit, Dabi supposed he couldn’t say things were exactly how they were per say. On one hand, Chizue was always left satisfied and noticeably relaxed afterward to the point she would allow Dabi to pull her in to fall asleep together, her head lolling on his chest and her body limp from hours of passionate love making.
On the other hand, while Chizue didn’t actually discourage Dabi’s visits, but she didn’t do much to make it out like she was all that happy with their arrangement. Her untrackable new phone didn’t have any numbers from her former partners, but Dabi couldn’t shake the feeling when he was with her that her mind was a million miles away. Chizue would hardly even touch him, let alone look at him; in the morning Dabi always woke up the sight of her back as she got dressed.
It seemed like years ago when she had told him he had pretty eyes.
Dabi wasn’t one to just be satisfied with less than what he wanted, but he knew he couldn’t just demand anything of Chizue while she was still resentful. That being said, all of his attempts to get back on her good side had fallen flat.
“Why is Chizue-chan so mad at you?” Toga asked. “Did you steal her popcorn?”
“I killed this guy she was seeing casually and she just found out.” Dabi felt odd saying the word prostitute in front of the younger girl, despite the fact she had probably killed about as much people as he had by now.
“Oh that’s all?”
“Toga?” Mr. Compress turned to stare at the girl; she looked completely nonplussed.
“All’s fair in love and war. That one jerk with all the arms was getting in the way of me talking to Deku that one time, and I would have killed him if those other brats didn’t get in my way.” Toga looked venomous at the mere memory of her and Izuku’s first meeting being interrupted so rudely and Mr. Compress decided not to pursue the subject.
“Anyway, Chizu may be pissed now, but all she needs is some time to cool off.” Dabi frowned. “What?”
Mr. Compress shrugged. “Nothing. It just struck me how people will allow their minds to jump through hoops in their reasoning to come to the conclusion they desire.”
Dabi flung the bag of chips down on the couch and brushed past them both roughly on his way out.
What were they even doing, offering their two cents to an issue that wasn’t any of their business? It was between him and Chizue. And besides that, there was no issue. All Dabi needed to do was have patience and show through his actions that Chizue had no reason to think him her enemy.
From what Dabi could tell, a big part of the reason Chizue was so upset with him wasn’t even so much killing Yuudai, seeing as how she was willing to admit she wasn’t exactly free of blood on her hands. But the fact remained that Dabi had taken a course of action he must have known would cause her serious pain.
In Chizue’s mind, there were perhaps three types of people; people she considered allie, those who served as threats, and all the rest. From her reaction, Dabi surmised that Chizue had been having a hard time coming to grips with the fact he, a dear friend and a trusted ally, had done something to hurt her. Chizue’s mind ran too much on a black and white view of people; she was not the type of person who looked at a stranger and wondered what their lives must be like or what they might be thinking. Everything was based on action and obvious cues.
“That’s not necessarily true…” Dabi corrected himself. “Without me even saying anything, Chizu got the feeling from me that I had shit on my mind. She was thinking about me.”
There was that past tense again. Chizue was thinking about him, she was enjoying his company, she was opening up to him in ways she might not have done so for anyone else.
Just the other night Dabi had spent over an hour after sex trying to get Chizue to recant one of her stories or a joke; Dabi ran his fingers through her hair in what was meant to be a soothing gesture, but had ceased doing so when he noticed every time he made contact her body stiffened up.
Dabi tried to think of what he could do to get her to open up again. Food obviously wasn’t helping; if anything, Chizue’s appetite was still diminished, even though her health was perfectly fine.
“Or she’s just refusing to eat anything I give her.”
He tried to stick close by her whenever he could, but Chizue would either barely acknowledge his presence or she would tolerate it for a few minutes before sighing and just walking off without so much as a word. The only time Dabi could get close to her was when they shared a bed, but even that felt so mechanical no matter how much time he spent trying to convey his passion in every caress and touch. There was no afterglow, just an ache and an empty gut feeling that made Dabi want to leave as soon as Chizue fell asleep. And he would, if it wasn’t for the fact that was the only opportunity he could get to hold her without being given the cold shoulder.
The most Dabi ever received for his efforts were a small, bland word of thanks and he was lucky to even get that. It might have been easier of Chizue was acting like he had expected her to. The spiteful wish for him to burn in hell was not repeated. None of the hurt or anger Chizue had expressed had made a second appearance. Rage and tears and curses Dabi could handle; at least then he would have some idea of what was going through Chizue’s mind. But now when he initiated contact, it was only met with silence, shrugs, and vague mutterings, not even so much as an attempt at a friendly hello or a smile.
“I’m not even at the same level as her fuck buddies. She actually talked to them and they ordered in pizza.”
Dabi tried to resist the urge to smash his fist through Chizue’s door at the thought of pizza and opted to rap his knuckles lightly against the wood.
For a brief, wonderful second Chizue had smiled before realizing who he was. Dabi took a deep breath; he couldn’t let frustration get the better of him.
“Hey Chizu, thought you, uh, could use some company.”
Instead of the now customary shrug or vague murmur, Chizue looked down at her lap.
Dabi closed the door behind him and saw a flicker or nervousness pass over her face; he didn’t step forward.
“Did you not like the flavor of chips I got you? How’s your stomach?”
Chizue gave a light grimace. “Dabi, I’m kind of busy right now.”
“Can’t I just be alone?”
“You mean can’t I just leave you alone.”
Chizue huffed. “Dabi, I am not in the mood.”
Dabi leaned back on the door, shifting his shoes against the cracked ground. “You know what I’m talkin’ about. Ever since you got back here, you’ve been acting like I’m some pest.”
Chizue remained silent and Dabi felt himself irritated; who was she to avoid him after everything he had done?
“Chizu, tell me something.”
“When you said that you liked me, the me that I am right now, was it just empty words?”
Chizue brought her knees to her chest. “No. It wasn’t.”
The ache was throbbing. Dabi carefully advanced forward to the bed, but to his joy Chizue wasn’t making any moves to stop him. He sat down next to her, keeping a respectable distance, but close enough where his hand was a few inches away from her.
“You know, no one’s ever said that to me before.”
“Yeah.” Dabi turned so he could look at her. “Listen, I’m willing to apologize. I never wanted to hurt you. I’m sorry for that at least, but you need to look at things from my point of view.”
Chizue finally looked up; she had a hard stare, as if daring him to keep talking, but Dabi spoke before she come up with a petty retort.
“Do you want an explanation or not?”
Chizue seemed to actually mull it over.
“Yeah. I do.”
Dabi gathered his thoughts, but it wasn’t all that necessary. He knew exactly what he wanted to tell Chizue; he exhaled and steadied his nerves.
“Wait, why the hell am I nervous?”
Chizue waited, arms crossed over the tops of her knees and hair disheveled around her shoulders; Dabi noted that she still didn’t look quite as rotund as she did before all this mess happened. At the end of the day, maybe Dabi wasn’t the best when it came to expressing himself or even being able to say everything he wanted to.
But he did know there wasn’t another person alive who would look at her as he did, who would notice every little change in her mood or expressions or thoughts.
“Fair warning, don’t expect me to feel bad about killing him.”
Dabi exhaled slowly.
“Bottom line, I was pissed seeing you with another guy. Chizu, if you can, imagine if...if the person you liked didn’t like you. If you knew they were nervous around you and then you see them happy with someone else, and you were the one who would have killed to be the one making them that way. There was no other option in my mind. I had to make him go away.” Dabi told her with a perfectly level tone. “And yeah, guess I wasn’t thinking how you’d take it. But that was before I realized I loved you. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fine killing for you, but this time around I’m willing to get your input first.”
Dabi frowned; this wasn’t Chizue. Chizue wasn’t somber and dry and toneless.
“Aren’t you the one who said what matters right now is right now? I can’t bring back that guy, but you can let me make it up-”
“You know what sucks? I mean, aside from what you killing one of my friends and then me almost dying from dealing with the strain of it all?”
Dabi wanted to reach out and take her hand, but thought better.
“I’m….I have no idea what I want.” Chizue told him softly as she curled in tighter and pressed her face into her arms. “I want to hate you, but that makes it hurt more. I want to like you, but that makes me confused too.”
Dabi moved closer just an inch. “Wait, is that why you’ve been avoiding me? You don’t-”
“Dabi, why did you have to make things hard?!”
Chizue shot up, legs unfolding and fists clenched as she glared at him through wet lashes; Dabi recoiled the hand he was about to put on her head, but it was too late. Chizue looked at the palm raised halfway to her hair and burst into another crying jag.
“Shit, come on, I wasn’t-”
“You know something? You know wh-what’s the worst?” Chizue wiped at her eyes blindly, chin wobbling and face red; she was struggling to speak through the sharp, jerky inhales that were threatening to cut off her speech entirely. “I can’t eat hardly, I can’t sleep….and I keep wanting to talk about it to someone, but now I can’t talk to you anymore!”
Dabi drew her into his shoulder with one arm and before he could utter a word, Chizue was curling her hands into the fabric of his shirt and crying openly into the crook of his neck. He let her stain his collar and used his other hand to run his fingers through her tangled mess like he’d been wanting to for days.
He wanted to smile, even if the timing was inappropriate. Chizue still cared.
“Why, huh? Why do you have to keep being nice and coming here and confusing me?”
“I think the real question is how you’d ever think I could stay away from you.”
But Dabi let her hurl question after question while he wrapped his mind around the revelation that she didn’t want him dead, not yet at least. But with the new information, another question still remained.
“What happens now?”
“Why’d you have to fuck it all up for?” Chizue asked through her sobs, hot tears pouring down her cheeks only to be soaked up by his t shirt. “Why did you have to be so stupid Dabi?!”
“I know, I know. I never said I was good at this shit...cut a guy some slack...”
Dabi let her pound a fist weakly into his chest; the ache was beginning to subside.
Chizue had never felt so weak in her life; the will to fight him was fading more and more with each day as she remembered how things used to be. Dabi constantly trying to reach her didn’t help a thing of course, but even so, she didn’t want this. Chizue didn’t want to care; she didn’t even understand why she still cared about him.
“Stupid patchwork bastard…”
Chizue sagged against Dabi, exhausted as she let his arms envelope her and found reluctant comfort in the familiar embrace.
“I know...I know…”
“Wait, I’ve definitely heard of this before.” Twice said suddenly.
“What the hell are you talking about now? And don’t drop those” Dabi looked over his shoulder at Twice pointedly, balancing five bags on each of his arms.
“No problem. I’m going to drop everything!”
“I swear to god-”
“What were you talking about Twice?” Spinner cut them off before another argument could ensue. “I didn’t know you knew anything about psychology.”
“I don’t. It’s called the Florence Nightingale effect. Dabi’s got it bad. He’s totally sane.”
“Can you move your ass? I had enough of your rambling and crap at the last place.” Spinner rolled his eyes as he shifted the bags in his hands; running errands wasn’t a favored task of his, but having to babysit Twice while he had his breakdowns did not help hurry things along.
The only reason he and Twice had agreed to go out were because in their civilian wear they stood out less; Dabi had given them a list as long as his arm with five different places that offered carry out. He met them at his apartment building and gave Spinner and Twice a little something from his wallet for delivering the food.
“Geez, are you even sure Chizue can eat all this right now?” Spinner remarked.
“These are all her favorites.”
Twice hefted the last bags to the door leading to the inside of the building. “That’s no real answer. Spinner, you’re so nosey.”
“Shut it, both of you. Get your asses out of here.” Dabi nodded his head to the street.
“That’s cold. Aren’t you even going to invite us in for tea?” Twice asked. “I take my coffee black by the way.”
The other reason they had agreed to help out, aside from the bribe, was because Dabi had mentioned this was a gift for Chizue, though Spinner personally doubted how good an idea it was. Chizue seemed well enough, but her current intake wasn’t anything close to what she consumed when she first joined. Still, Spinner wasn’t about to stick around to argue; Dabi had already been on their case earlier, triple checking they knew exactly what places he was requesting from and exactly what dishes he wanted them to order, and besides that, Twice was getting on his last nerve. Spinner reminded himself to charge Dabi for the ski mask he had to purchase later.
Chizue arrived at Dabi’s apartment just a few minutes shy of the time he had told her, but he had already set everything up a while before expected anyway. He glanced over his room once before opening the door just to make sure nothing was amiss.
Dabi sucked in a short breath, smoothed down his new shirt, and unlocked the bolt.
“Sorry I cut it so close. Toga...well, she sort of dragged me out shopping.” Chizue said with a slight grimace as she ducked inside; Dabi locked the door behind her, hoping the bolt sliding into place didn’t sound too noticeable. Chizue didn’t turn around in alarm or at least if she did, Dabi didn’t see it. His eyes did a double take and stayed on her while Chizue stood awkwardly in front of the foot of the bed, looking ready to curl in on herself like a nervous turtle.
“I’m guessing that was her idea.”
Chizue nodded and glanced down at herself. “I actually kind of like it; Toga insisted getting it for me, but I think this was meant for someone a bit...less. This was the biggest size they had, but Toga wouldn’t let me go until I bought something…” she shrugged and fell silent once more.
“Make yourself comfortable.” Dabi gestured to the bed. “You act like you’ve never been here before.”
Chizue’s blank expression didn’t change as she sat down; the bed Dabi had gotten was probably a hundred times more comfortable than his old one, but he supposed that was the last thing on her mind; no doubt Chizue was recalling how he had tied her up and threatened to keep her there.
“What’s all that for?” Chizue asked suddenly, pointing to the counter laden with food; the surface was completely covered by containers of sauteed beef, fried pork, rice, rolls, dumplings, noodles, and a platter of mini cakes Dabi had pre ordered from a bakery. Each dish was something Chizue had eaten before in generous amounts; Dabi remembered how he had watched her consume her meals so robustly, not a care in the world.
“It’s for you. Thought you might have not had dinner yet.”
Dabi stood on the opposite side of the bed, feeling his skin buzz as he took in Chizue’s somewhat reluctantly worn outfit. Her skirt was clinging to her thighs along with the thigh high stockings stretched around the skin just a few inches above her knees. Her top was a bit better, but not by much; one or two big meals would make the buttons of her thin sleeveless blouse pop right off. Dabi wondered if she had worn it for him or if Toga just had amazing timing.
Chizue tried to smile, which was more than she had done since their talk; after her outburst, she had been avoiding him completely, going out for hours at a time. It had been days since Dabi had even looked been able to touch her.
Dabi couldn’t quite decide what was worse, being able to have her but get the cold shoulder or be completely deprived cold turkey?
“It’s an apology.”
Not that he felt sorry in the least; if he could do it all over, Dabi would have done everything exactly the same, minus the getting caught part. But that being said, he was genuinely regretful to see that Chizue had lost trust in him.
It was funny. Before just monopolizing her body would have been satisfying; hell, Dabi had been okay with outright taking her by force in the beginning. It just wasn’t enough anymore.
Dabi had already made up his mind. He was going to get Chizue back no matter what.
Chizue fiddled with the hem of her skirt and kept her eyes glued to her lap. “Dabi, I know this may be a shock, but food isn’t going to make everything alright for me.”
“I know. This is just the tip of the iceberg.” Dabi smiled and slowly got into the bed, not too close, but close enough to grab her hand and cease her fidgeting. “Chizu, why so stiff? Come on, we had good times here, didn’t we?”
“I don’t want those memories anymore.”
“We can start over and make new ones. Just you and me.”
Chizue took her hand back, gently. “I don’t want to be here.”
“Then why’d you come?”
Dabi’s heart sank as Chizue tried to come up with a satisfactory answer.
“I wanted to.”
“But you just said-”
“That’s the problem!” Chizue cut him off, sounding more distressed than angry; she closed her eyes tight and looked away from him. “It’s not fair...what am I supposed to do?”
“What do you do when you find out something that you really didn’t want to know? I wish...I wish I can forget what happened, just erase it completely and not just with that day…”
This room had too many memories; at first, Chizue wasn’t going to come, because the last thing she wanted to see was Dabi’s face, especially not after spending the last few days trying to have nothing to do with him. She had decided that maybe that was the answer; when she had agreed to Dabi’s offer that he would keep out of her personal life if she only allowed him to be with her, she had thought she could handle it. Chizue knew how he felt and while she may not be the most apt to understanding emotions, but even she realized this would be the best revenge. Dabi’s feelings came through to her loud and clear in the end.
Chizue wanted to get him back for it all.
She needed Dabi to feel just a little of what he had put her through, even if it wasn’t intentional. Being so near to him while keeping her distance, a relationship that was close, yet so so far from what he truly wanted. Chizue knew for her to deny Dabi that was what would hit him where it counted; it was a satisfying thought, to know every time she turned from him and rejected his feelings but not his touch, was hurting Dabi in a way her fists never could.
At least it felt good at first.
Chizue’s arms came up and she held her own trembling body; Dabi didn’t bother trying to embrace her.
“I don’t want them…”
Her heart squeezed painfully every time Dabi’s gaze found hers; she saw the way his chin lifted up at the sight of her entering the room and a trace of a smile would begin to just appear as he tried to greet her.
Dabi would think for a split second Chizue was going to show him a little bit of honest affection; Chizue would catch a glimpse of the miniscule light that shone in his gaze, only for his eyes to grow duller than before when she wordlessly rejected him.
Then Dabi would try to start a conversation, each word coming out with less enthusiasm than the last as Chizue replied with silence or shrugs at best until he just stopped talking altogether.
When they laid together, sweaty and tired, but no more than close than before, Chizue could feel his fingers trembling against her skin. During these moments, it was as if Dabi was trying to keep from grabbing onto her for something she couldn’t give. Maybe he was just fighting the impulse to dig his fingers in and refuse to let go because she was less than halfway there in his arms. He might as well have been making love to air.
And Chizue knew that was what he was trying to do, even now. Dabi was trying to fix it, trying to have her reciprocate his affection with her own and it would make her remember those weeks she had spent under his care and the memories would come crashing down on her until she thought she would be suffocated.
“It hurts. I just wish these past few months never happened, every last memory that has to do with you, everything nice you’ve ever said or done for me. I wish I never knew a thing.”
Chizue felt the tears burn behind her eyes and she gave in to them, clutching herself tight, as if she could just make her body, her heart, her mind, every last piece of her disappear into nothing.
“Dabi, I can’t handle this pain whenever I think about how we were before, about those memories...I don’t want them anymore.”
“Then why are you even here...with me?”
Dabi moved so he was sitting behind Chizue; he positioned himself so she was nestled in between his legs, his arms. Chizue’s now rigid back was pressed against his chest as Dabi held her.
“I can’t forgive you and I can’t keep doing this either...it just hurts too much.”
“Chizu, I know this is going to sound messed up, but you have no idea how happy I am to hear that.”
“Dabi, fuck off.”
“Come on, we both know you’re way smarter than you give yourself credit for.” Dabi chuckled and she felt his weight lean up against her. “Thing is...I thought, ya know, you stopped caring. But the fact that you’re missing me, that you’re actually hurting enough to feel this way means you still give a shit about me.”
“Of course I do.”
Dabi’s chuckling tapered off softly and his arms were wound tight around her middle and trapping her arms to her sides.
“I couldn’t bring myself to forgive you...but that didn’t mean I could just stop caring about you either. I mean, how the heck can I?”
Chizue turned her head to give Dabi a look, but his face was buried in the back of her neck; she smiled ruefully and leaned back and tilting her head so it would rest on his chest. Dabi had caged Chizue in and she hadn’t seen it coming. At the end of the day, it was entirely possible they deserved each other being two people who really couldn’t understand what it meant to love someone, not in the way story books and movies and psychologists said love was supposed to be like.
“Hey, you’re still going to have to do a lot more than fatten me up to try to make up for this roller coaster of bullshit.”
“I’ll butcher someone if you want. I’ll roast them right up for ya.”
Chizue smiled grimly. “You realize that’s what got us in this mess in the first place, right? You really are bad at trying to be comforting…”
“I would though, if you asked me.” he told her without any humor. “I should tell you now while we’re doing all this confessing; if I saw you fooling around with anyone else, I’d either have to kill them or you.”
“You sure know how to kill the mood.”
“I mean it.” Dabi murmured against her hair. “I think it might drive me insane if I ever saw-”
“Well, to be honest, I don’t feel happy when I hurt you. So, I won’t do it.”
“Okay. I’ll hold you to that.” Dabi let out a long, shuddering breath into her nape. “I’m so fucking happy baby…let’s pick up where we left off okay? I even got all your favorites.”
Chizue nodded; the tone of his voice was paralyzing her to the spot. It was like he was planning to eat her alive.
“Oh man, maybe we really do deserve each other.”
Chizue tensed up involuntarily at Dabi’s chin resting on her shoulder; she could see his wolfish grin communicating a silent promise as he bared his teeth dangerously close to her jugular.
“How about I feed you?”