This was supposed to be a professional interview. Emphasis on the ‘professional’ part.
And despite that, Hawks leisurely sat across from her with a wide smirk spread across his face and light brown locked on her own, his whole expression and attitude telling her exactly where his mind was. Certainly not with her and her questions.Tap, tap, tap went her pen every time she hit it against her notepad. Louder the last few times to finally get the winged hero’s attention back.
“I’m sorry, angel, I was just lost in your eyes.”
“Need a map out of there?” she offered, raising an eyebrow.
“Only if you guide me through every step of the way.”
Heaving a deep sigh, the tapping stopped as she straightened in her chair. “Hawks—”
“Yes?” he replied smugly.
“You promised to take this seriously.”
“And I am!” he called out somewhat offended, his wings spreading a little bit behind him to stress his words. “But I can’t help getting lost in those lovely eyes of yours. More beautiful than any sunset I’ve seen for sure.”
“Flattery’s never gotten you anywhere—”
He swooned, one wing sweeping across exaggerated. “A guy can dream.”
“Then be ready to slip into a coma, pidge, because it’s not going to work today either.” Especially while I’m working.
That mere fact crawling back into her head almost caused a migraine. How had she gotten into this mess again? Oh, yeah. Her publication wanted a piece on the new No.2 hero and knowing the kind of bias there’d be if she took on the job, she let it be so others could take it. But according to their editor, no one could take it seriously enough to made a proper article. Especially her other female coworkers. And because her boss knew that she wrote that article a couple of years ago on Hawks when he barely started rising into the limelight of hero society, he made the brilliant decision to put her on the job. Of course, the fact that Hawks had long ago sought her out to learn more about the then 'newbie journalist’ that skyrocketed his reputation as 'the man who goes to fast for his own good’ was still very much unknown to those she worked with. Mostly her choice since she didn’t want the hassle of dealing with the media; though not part of the frenzy that was the paparazzi, she knew very well how journalism’s nasty counterpart twisted facts to please a fictitious narrative of their making.
She liked her life how it was, thank you very much. But ever since Hawks found her out, he’d been a constant in her life. Random encounters at first then finding one another at certain events. At times even during altercations with villains. Then what could’ve possibly been the worst—or best—decision of her life: giving him her number.
Their relationship barely bordered friends, honestly. More like mutual business acquaintances. At least that’s what they agreed it’d be like whenever she would meet him as the journalist after a story from the No.2 hero. But Hawks tended to slip more often than she’d like him to. Sure, he was charismatic and she’d even admit that some of his modeling spreads did get her mind wondering about…certain things—but things weren’t that easy. They never were. So she spared herself both the head- and heartache and not involve herself any further than she already was.
Besides, she would hold herself steadfast to her policy even if it killed her: no dating heroes.
She tapped the her pen against her notepad and clicked it twice to get his attention back. “Focus, bird brain. I’m here on business.”
“You always are,” he said with a childish pout. Leaning back against his chair, he let his head hand over the back of it to stare at the ceiling. His voice then turned a slight pitch higher that sounded vaguely nasally. “ 'No small talk, no dancing, no dinner, no zoo trips—’ ”
“I’m allergic to most damn animals, Hawks.”
“But you’re fine right now, aren’t you?!” His hands shot out in the air before pointing back at her. “You’re usually all sniveling and sneezing around me.”
Yeah, and she utterly hated how her birds allergies instantly flared up whenever he came too close. Which is why it became routine to take some allergy pills every morning and keep some handy just in case. “I learned my lesson." Her eyes blinked a couple of times and she sighed, frustrated more with herself that he’d once more diverged the conversation elsewhere. "Can we please focus? I still have the damn article to write.”
“Not much of a task, really, considering your work.”
That caught her by surprise. “My what?”
“Your work,” he repeated, instantly perking up.
“You read my articles?”
“Why, of course I do! They’re pretty interesting if I do say so myself, and that’s saying a lot when I don’t read often. I see why you’re treasured so much at your publication too. You have a way with words, angel.” Tilting his head slightly down, Hawks lowered his visor and looked at her through thick eyelashes. “Very enticing one could even say.”
Heart fluttering at his words—no, don’t!—her head suddenly had little to no control over her composure. All at once, the stoicism she fought to maintain in front of him fell at those few words and warmth crept onto her cheeks and ears. Even turning away and trying not to look at him was pretty useless when she could still feel his gaze bearing onto her. Always on her.
Willing her heart to start up again and get her blood flowing properly—and please, away from my goddamn face—she cleared her throat and tapped harder on her notepad, this time to distract herself from his searing gaze and words that still swirled ceaselessly in her brain.
“C-Can we please?”
“Can we please what?”
This time it was her time to pout as she muttered, utterly defeated and resorting to her options for dire measures. Doing as he did and like she often did to get her way, she tilted her head slightly and batted her eyes. “C'mon, pigeon.”
Hawks kept eye contact and despite how unnerving it was, and how warm her cheeks were getting again, she didn’t deter either. Two could play that game. In the end, he caved—though, had it lasted much longer, she easily would’ve lost first.
“Okay, okay.” Gloved hands went up in surrender, his wings following suit and extending skyward. Eyeing them as the office light hit them and made them gleam a faint ruby, her attention followed the extravagant line of his wings as they folded back towards his back. “I can’t ever say no to that look and sweet words from you, can I?”
Thank goodness for that.
Taking a deep breath and clearing her throat once more to refocus on the work at hand took a moment too long and have him enough time to jut a finger up to stop her from even starting. Noticing that, she raised an eyebrow and dreaded asking, “What now?”
“I’ll answer your questions if you promise to go out with me.”
“Really?” she asked, all of the previous sentimentality he’d managed out of her gone into thin air. He’d hit her with that tons of times before and her answer always remained the same. By this point, it just astounded her how he kept trying despite always getting the same result. Guess what they say about insanity’s true after all. “Hawks, I’ve told you already, I don’t date he—”
“Nuh-uh, I never said anything about a date.”
That blatant contradiction knitted her brow together. “But you said to go out with you?” Why am I even debating this with him?
“Exactly. Go out as in accompany me. Not as my date but just as, well, friends.” He gave a languid shrug of his shoulders as he said this, his wings shifting a bit and the crimson feathers quivering in anticipation. “We are friends, right?”
“Mm…” It took her a moment to think over how long they’ve known each to shrug and nod. “Yeah, I guess so.”
“…you guess…” His wings fell a little at hearing that but instantly came back up as he shook himself and continued where he left off. “And since we’re friends—well, friends can go on a leisure trip together, can’t they?”
So much preamble from him never ended well for her. “Where are you going with this, Hawks?”
“Well, I just happen to have gotten my hands on a couple of tickets to a very magical place that’s holding a very special event for its 60th anniversary next week. And I was told by a very reliable, little birdie that you’re just dying to go.”
Her pen almost broke from how hard she gripped it at simply hearing 'magical place’. No way. “Makoto told you?”
“You’re pulling my leg.”
Hawks let out a chuckle before standing from his chair to make his way behind his desk, her attention rapped on his every step after the bomb he dropped on her. Deft hands then took the pair of tickets from the drawer and flaunted them to her from across the desk. The loud gasp she gave didn’t compare in volume to the ruckus of her chair screeching when she shot out of her chair and smacked her hands against the sleek top. Warm and bright sunset-colored eyes stared in absolute awe at what he held in his hands.
“I’ve got my ways,” he assured her, parading the tickets this way and that and getting her to follow them like a hungry dog starved for its meal. “So, what do you say? You say yes, and you get your interview and a trip to TDL’s 60th Anniversary Spectacular this weekend, and I get to spend time with my favorite, lovely lady. It’s win-win.”
It took every ounce of restraint to not say 'yes’ immediately. A part of her hated that Makoto was cohorts with the over-sized Thanksgiving dinner-to-be against her, but then seeing those priceless tickets to an event that she’d missed buying months ago, made her love her best friend all the more.
Say yes. For goodness sake, say yes!
No. Instantly, to restrain herself from giving in so easily, she bent over and sunk her face into her hands, smacking her forehead against the desk.
“You alright there?”
She didn’t answer. Instead she let out a groan as she seriously thought things through. Hawks wasn’t wrong. Not in the least. If she said yes, she’d get two birds with one stone. Three, I guess. The moment that thought struck her, she almost forgot to breathe. For as much as Hawks kidded about this being just 'an outing between friends,’ she knew better than to believe him. But then again, the mere thought of going out with him—regardless of the fact that it was something she desperately wanted to go to—did sound nice. For the past few months, she’d desperately tried to bury the feeling that had been growing and growing with each passing day for the sake of her livelihood but now when the chance showed itself, it didn’t sound half-bad.
It actually sounded like it’d be a delightful time.
Things won’t go anywhere you don’t want them to go, she reminded herself. So long as you go as friends, things won’t change between you. Right?
Taking a deep breath, she stood up straight and looked at Hawks expectant gaze and dashing grin before saying, “Okay, I’ll do it.”
Hawks blinked a couple of times before the grin broadened from cheek to cheek and the feathers on his wings bristled eagerly. A boisterous laughter escaped him as she stepped onto his desk, wings flapping fervently behind him which burst him over the desk. Startled by the sudden rush of loose feathers, she stepped back only to get scooped into Hawks arms. The giddiness overtook him and he lifted her a bit over the floor with a spin before landing them both back on the floor.
Chuckling through the storm of red he let loose in his office, he called them back to his wings when he noticed her waving any of the falling feathers from coming near her nose. “My bad,” he said, the feathers bristling and preening themselves back into their rightful place. “Got carried away there.”
“Never would’ve noticed,” she replied with a teasing scoff of her own.
Grin wide still, Hawks shoved his hands into his pockets to keep from holding her again. “So, what time do you want me to pick you up on Saturday?”
This time it was her turn to chuckle at his eagerness. “How about we get through this interview first and then talk about that?”