It was nearly three in the morning, and Shigaraki Tomura could not sleep.
Not that Tomura not being able to sleep was a new thing. Usually, the light-haired man would busy himself. Whether it was going over and reviewing every possible fault in his planning, analyzing and planning around every weak link in his chain of command, or losing himself for hours on a video game system, Tomura knew how to keep himself productive when his body decided it didn’t need rest.
What was new though, was realizing someone else was awake other than him.
Typically, if one of the others was awake, they were well on their way to sleep. Toga would stay the night at times, watching television until she passed out or rather surprisingly, read. At times Kurogiri would be reading as well or scribbling something into a journal he’d shut when Tomura would catch him. In rarer instances, other members would hang around, up late and dreary-eyed as they fought off their nightmares or insomnia.
However, this person was secluded in their bathroom, door locked. As Tomura neared it, he heard a buzzing sound. He knocked once on the door.
“Busy, leave.” Dabi’s muffled voice said.
Dabi, of all people, was not one to stay for long periods of time at their hideout. The man, whom nearly the entire league had bet and guessed on whether or not he actually had a home until Tomura told them to quit it, was not one to stay the night. In fact, Tomura hadn’t seen him for nearly a week.
“What the hell is that sound?” Tomura said.
He knocked again, and the sound continued. Tomura felt the back of his neck itch.
“I asked you a question.”
“And I told you to leave, creep.”
God, he was so fucking annoying. Tomura had half a mind to just press his hand against the door and have it decay, but he knew Kurogiri would scold him for that. Still, he knew the threat would stick.
“You have five seconds before I get rid of the door.”
“Relax you brat, okay. I’ll let you in. But you can’t say shit.”
“What would I say shit abo-“
The door opened quickly, and Tomura took a moment to unfold the scene laid out in front of him. First, there was a now shut off electric clipper and fluffs of black hair in the sink, as well as scattered on the counter. Second, there was a tired as fuck looking Dabi with half his hair now buzzed to nearly an undercut glaring at him. And third, there was a small gash in his right ear that was trickling blood down onto his neck.
“What the fuck do you want?”
His voice was straight venom, and part of Tomura felt almost guilty for invading a seemingly private moment.
“Did you cut your ear?” Tomura said.
“Did you,” he repeated, pausing in between each word, “cut your ear?”
Dabi turned away from him then, glancing at himself in the mirror. He raised his hands to his ear, pressing a finger onto the gash and pulling it away to look. Red stained his finger, and Dabi stared at it.
“I guess I did.”
Something was off about him, and it bothered Tomura. He watched as Dabi rubbed two of his fingers together to smear the blood before switching on the buzzer and rearing it to his hair again. Tomura watched the black bits of hair fall onto his shoulder and tumble into the sink. Dabi seemed to not care about the cut, Tomura frowning when he saw the other wince as the clipper grazed it, but continue to go on despite the new trail of crimson that dripped to his neck.
“Hey, idiot, let me help you.”
Dabi ignored him, tapping the clipper against the sink’s edge to dust off bits of stuck hair before continuing. He returned the vibrating blade to his head, moving towards his nape. Part of his raven hair was tucked messily into a clip at the top of his head, Dabi shearing away at whatever was loose underneath the split carelessly. Tomura saw jagged pieces of hair jutting out from the side that seemed to be done, and watched as Dabi buzzed off another small section of hair without actually looking at the mirror. The buzzing continued, and Tomura’s neck fucking begged for his nails.
“You look stupid. Let me help you.”
“Why the fuck would you want to help me?” Dabi said. He stilled the hand holding onto the buzzer as he watched Tomura through the mirror, the scent of soot slowly infiltrating the space. Rage was a silent thing.
“If you look bad, the league looks bad,” Tomura said as he stepped closer to Dabi, reaching for the buzzer with four, outstretched fingers. Dabi reluctantly let him, dropping his hands to his sides and clenching them into fists. The smoky smell lingered, but Tomura knew Dabi wouldn’t do anything. Their arguments were a cycle, the two taking turns on spinning their wheel depending on their moods. Still, Dabi moving to slam down the toilet lid to sit on it, face towards the wall so Tomura could start was strange. In truth, Tomura couldn’t figure out why he wanted this. Why he didn’t just leave the scarred man to his own business and try his hand at sleep again.
His cautious grip on the clipper tightened for a moment before he pushed the jagged ends of Dabi’s botched hair job upwards between two fingers, dragging the clipper across them. He could feel the warmth of Dabi’s skin, and for a brief moment, Tomura thought about pushing his hand through the last bit of long strands. Instead, he fixed another ragged piece before moving onto the side Dabi had yet to touch.
“Why are you doing this?” Tomura asked, pulling his hand away when shredded strands stuck to the between of his fingers, shaking them out before continuing.
“I don’t know,” Dabi said, and Tomura felt that same strange feeling crawl into his throat.
“That’s a stupid reason.”
A chuckle blended into the buzzing sound, and the strange feeling grew heavy, stagnant in Tomura’s chest.
“Yeah, it is stupid.” Dabi said, “All of it is stupid, but I needed to change something about this,” Tomura saw that Dabi had raised a hand to motion towards his face, “I was reminded I look like someone, and I can’t. I can’t fucking do that.”
Tomura buzzed off the final piece of hair, letting it tumble away before he reached over and placed the clipper back in the sink. He took a step back as Dabi stood up, moving to look at himself in the mirror. The ear with the gash had finally stopped bleeding, Dabi’s fingers gingerly pushing into the evened out undercut. It was short enough that the staples leading up his cheeks to the edge of his ear were perfectly clear but long enough for his true roots not to show.
“You hate him,” Tomura said, noting the way the other’s shoulders went rigid, “You hate Endeavor.”
“I hate all heroes.”
“You don’t sort of look like all heroes.”
Dabi turned then, heat radiating from him. His turquoise eyes were hard, narrowed onto Tomura.
“Watch it,” he said.
“Or what?” Tomura asked, moving a hand closer to Dabi, his fingers nearly touching his chest, “You’ll be dust before you could burn me.”
“You need me, you wouldn’t.”
“And you need me. It seems we’re at an impasse.” Tomura said.
He pressed two fingers against the thin, white fabric of Dabi’s shirt, and watched the way the other’s chest rose as he took an audible breath.
“What do you want, Shigaraki?”
“The truth. Why do you hate Endeavor?”
“He’s a piece of shit,” Dabi said, and Tomura felt the way the other’s skin grew warmer underneath his fingertips, “just another fake in this twisted society obsessed with fame, claiming the title ‘hero’ as if it means anything. When in reality it’s just a label you can slap onto yourself and use to defend and hide your shitty actions. I want him to burn. I want to ruin him.”
Silence. Dabi staring at Tomura and Tomura staring back, waiting to say something, waiting to step on a land-mine and see who survived.
“So you cut your hair.” Tomura finally said.
Dabi huffed and took a step closer to him.
“Well, technically you cut my hair since I was doing such a shit job.”
It was three something in the morning, and the two of them should have been asleep, away from one another without the heavy, vulnerable words Dabi had just spilled lingering in the air between them.
“I’m not stupid. Why did you really help me?” Dabi said.
Tomura moved his hand away from Dabi, glancing down at it instead. His palm felt dry again, and the urge to scratch the ever living shit out of his neck was inching up his arms.
“I don’t know,” he confessed, and the words tasted bitter in his mouth. Shigaraki Tomura always had a reason, always had the next step in mind.
Yet here he was, lost in his uncertainty.
He felt fingers on his chin, fought the urge to grab onto burnt skin and turn it into ash, and allowed Dabi to tilt his head upwards to meet his gaze. It was too much, too fast, and Tomura’s eyes flickered elsewhere.
He glanced at Dabi’s lips, at the rugged way scarred skin spanned his lower lip and blended into his neck, all part of the visual trauma the dissonant flame user bore daily.
“It doesn’t have to mean anything,” Dabi said.
Tomura’s eyes met with Dabi’s again. His tongue slithered out to trace the shape of his own, chapped bottom lip. He’s right, he told himself, leaning in before he could convince himself otherwise. It doesn’t mean anything.
They kissed when Dabi leaned in to meet him.
Tomura found his mind drifting. He thought of the man’s quirk, of blue fire enveloping him whole almost as smoothly as the way Dabi’s lips felt on his. His hands twitched, the urge to touch and finally be able to hold onto something, pressing him forward. It doesn’t mean anything, he reminded himself as he felt hands settle on his sides, a warm palm pressing against his right as another inched towards his lower back, dipping into the slight curve. It doesn’t mean anything, he repeated when he felt Dabi shift to sit directly onto the counter, pulling Tomura along with him as he made a space for him between his thighs.
He pulled away from Tomura for a second, a sigh escaping him as Tomura pressed against him, his hands balled into fists by Dabi’s sides on the counter. Touch him, they screamed, touch him, touch him.
“Hey,” Dabi said.
He pushed himself further back on the bathroom counter before reaching for Tomura’s wrists. The sensation of his warm hands encircling Tomura’s lethal skin so carelessly made him take a shaky breath. Ironically, he felt chills spread up his arms from where their skin made contact.
“Do you think you’d fuck up?” Dabi asked, squeezing once.
Tomura understood the underlying question perfectly: do you think you’d forget and kill me?
Tomura had placed dozens of self-restraints on himself for years. He’d undergone and passed the majority of tests and twisted training All for One had pushed him through from the moment he became his mentor. He handled and repressed the struggle of watching favored belongings he’d care about crumble to dust in his hands, the sight slowly evolving into small, living animals. He’d cradle them for hours, testing to see if his hands would forget the extent of their mortal capability if his mind was distracted.
It was never really horrific to him when he slipped up. A mask of apathy shrouded his conscience when another bird tried to flap its wings only to have the wind under them blow the rest of its decayed body away. Now, he pictured burnt skin under his hand, five fingertips gently caressing its purple hues as it began to decay, and Tomura found that mask cracking.
Truly, idle hands were the devil’s workshop after-all.
“No,” Tomura answered. He uncurled his hands and placed one on the fabric covering Dabi’s stomach, two fingers turned up as his other hand reached into short, dark hair and tugged once.
“Good,” Dabi smirked. He curved one of his legs behind Tomura, pushing him closer as he tilted his head up to nip at Tomura’s lower lip, “I don’t necessarily want this to be the way I go out.”
Tomura tugged on Dabi’s hair again, leaning into the man but refusing to kiss him. He felt his lips brush against the other’s as he spoke, “It might just be if you keep talking.”
They kissed again when Dabi surged forward, a groan twisting its way out of the both of them. Hunger met hunger, and rage met rage. This was as far as either would go, cautious and reckless hands foiling one another as they explored skin and tugged on fabric, chapped lips meeting burnt over and over as they shared desperate breaths. Dabi tasted of smoke and something almost medicinal, and Tomura wanted to swallow him whole. He swayed his hips once towards the other, groaning when Dabi pressed his hand against his crotch, palming him.
“Fuck,” Dabi exhaled, placing his other hand on Tomura’s chest and pushing him away. He leaned his head back to rest against the mirror behind him, and Tomura placed his hands back on the counter, tempted to just decay the whole piece of furniture away.
It didn’t mean anything, he thought yet again when Dabi’s eyes met with his. A smug smile curled the man’s lips, a playful look bouncing in his eyes that Tomura had never seen before.
“Never thought you’d be a good kisser, creep.”
“Fuck you,” Tomura spat, angry at the mild embarrassment the disgusting man in front of him managed to conjure with just a sentence.
“Maybe another time, boss.”
With that, Dabi pushed himself off the counter and maneuvered himself around Tomura to leave the bathroom. Tomura stayed behind, stunted. He raised a hand to his face, a single finger pressing onto his lips. His eyes drifted to the mirror in front of him. His reflection stared back, judgmental eyes used to criticize others focusing solely on himself now.
The next day, Tomura was awake begrudgingly at nine when the league had arranged for a meeting days before. It was nothing urgent, just a recap of what each member was up to and any progress they had made on the plan Tomura had been slowly but surely directing. Dabi was nowhere to be seen, and Tomura tried to not fidget more than he usually would at the realization.
Twice was energetically explaining some ridiculous situation he found himself in to Toga and Compress when the door to the warehouse they agreed to meet at opened.
“Dabi!” Toga announced, blissfully ignoring the way Twice’s shoulders slumped when her attention completely shifted onto the other man.
“What happened to your hair?” Twice said, the initial disgust in his voice quickly changing to admiration in a split, “I like it, new style!”
“Length was getting annoying,” Dabi said.
Tomura glanced at him, watching as Dabi walked past all of them to lean against one of the furthest walls, an elbow propped onto a pile of boxes beside him. Blue eyes finally looked at him, and Tomura’s hands twitched. God damn it, Tomura thought, annoyed at the fact he was distracted because of the idiot.
“What were you saying, Twice?” Toga asked, moving to hop onto a pile of boxes herself. She began to swing her legs as Twice jumped into another completely different story, Spinner interrupting him with a comment on how it reminded him of a game he had played recently.
Tomura moved a hand to his neck and began to scratch, trying to listen to Twice’s and Spinner’s spiraling argument on whether or not the story he was spewing was real or not, but failing to as he felt eyes bore into him.
It didn’t mean anything, he told himself, feeling a nail dig into his skin a bit too hard. Twice and Spinner were still talking, and now Compress had joined in an attempt to change the subject. Toga seemed amused, resting her chin on one of her hands as she listened. If Tomura was honest with himself, most of these meetings were just accounts of the villains catching up with one another. Occasionally a fight with a hero would be mentioned, or a possible new recruit, but the important gatherings were far in between ever since that yakuza brat Chisaki had been handled. Overhaul, Tomura mocked, what an overzealous name.
“Did you cut it yourself?”
Toga’s question sliced through Tomura’s convoluted thoughts, and his scratching stopped. He stared at Dabi, watched the way his face remained as aloof as ever as he replied.
“You went into a salon with that face?” Spinner asked.
Dabi shifted his weight, leaning away from the boxes and putting a foot against the wall, “Nope.”
“Did a friend help you?” Toga asked.
“We’re the only friends he has,” Twice announced, followed up by a quick, “He has no friends.”
“Why is the topic of Dabi’s hair so important to you all?” Tomura asked. He hadn’t meant for his voice to sound so irked, but it came out laced in acid. The others shifted as if scolded, and changed the conversation. Dabi pushed himself off the wall and walked over to Tomura, standing in front of him.
“What?” Tomura asked.
“Someone’s in a bad mood.”
He should have fucking killed him last night.
“The haircut makes you look uglier,” Tomura said.
Dabi shoved his hands into his pockets and grinned at him, “Well, maybe next time my freak of a hair-stylist will know what he’s doing.”
Tomura didn’t respond but shoved his shoulder harshly against Dabi’s as he walked past him.
“No point in this meeting today,” he said loudly enough for all of them to hear as he headed towards the door, “Do whatever you want. Keep contact.”
He heard some of them address him as he left the warehouse, pulling up the hood to the black hoodie he was wearing to cover his face. The worst part of it all was not the nuisance Dabi continued to prove himself to be, nor the fact that he was truthfully one of their most valuable members, but the fact that beyond it all, Tomura could still hear the sound of buzzing rattling in his skull as the reality of what they did, of what they could have done, and of what they could still do, weighed down on him like all the hands that typically clung to him, reminding him of his purpose—of his meaning.
It was nearly ten in the morning, and Shigaraki Tomura wished nothing more than it hadn’t meant anything.