Here's three things Todoroki Hawks did not inherit from his old man: his Quirk, his body type, and his functioning eyesight. Honestly, Hawks is totally okay with the fact he doesn't look like a buffalo on fire, but does he have to be the only one in his family with defective eyeballs? Really, genetics, really? How the fuck did that happen in the first place?
Naturally, Hawks reacts to that blatant unfairness by picking the most obnoxious, tackiest glasses he can find every single time he has to buy new ones. Raiding the local optician for the ugliest pair is his annual pleasure trip. The way Endeavor cringes at his second son's lack of taste may or may not be the prime motivator for this tradition. Who knows.
His current pair has a ridiculously thick frame with actual little wings on the side. The deep orange color clashes horribly with the golden tones of his dyed hair and Hawks loves them to death. He's rarely ever seen without them. Since he's not a complete idiot, he keeps a boring pair of backup glasses, in case he gets so drunk he loses his usual pair or if he needs to Look Dignified.
Or for Bad Days. On Bad Days, Hawks doesn't want to wear flashy clothes. He wants to fade in the background, or even better, his bed.
Today is one of those days.
He woke up feeling like shit, and his mood only got worse as he had to keep going anyway. He spilled his coffee on his shirt. Missed his bus. Had to drag two of his student to the director's office for getting in a fight in the courtyard. Concluded his wonderful work day with a meeting with angry parents.
To be honest, he wasn't expecting anything better from that. It's the anniversary of Touya's disappearance. Nothing good ever happens on this cursed day.
So of course he gets mugged on his way home. Of fucking course. How bold of him to assume he could just go home and curl up in his bed until the day is over.
Three thoughts cross his mind while he stares numbly at the thief running ahead of him in the empty alley.
One: He knew he should have brought a backpack like he wanted instead of a boring suitcase. Natsuo said the flashy yellow backpack he bought made him look like his students, but what does he know, huh? This shit wouldn't happen if he could use his own goddamn backpack. Adulthood can go fuck itself.
Two: What a fucking idiot. Hawks keeps his wallet and phone in his jacket. There is nothing of value in there, except to him and his students. How is he going to explain to the kids their work disappeared now? How?
Three: He could stop the fucker. He could freeze the ground under him and make him fall like the scumbag he is. Sure, that would be illegal, but does Hawks really cares about that petty detail right now? No, he doesn't. His father will get him out of trouble anyway. Not because he cares, mind you, but because a delinquent son would be an intolerable stain on his pristine record.
He's going to do it. It's a terrible idea, but he's still going to do it. The familiar tingle of ice gathers under his feet, the tips of his finger ache as his lungs fill up with biting frost. He feels hot, burning with anger despite the cold sizing him. It's not like it hurts anyway. Not for him.
A gust of wind whistles abruptly above his head, interrupting him before he can send his attack.
White flashes in front of his eyes. For half a second, he's convinced an actual angel dove down from Heaven just to tackle his mugger.
It's a stupid idea of course. But. Just for a second.
Wings as white as pure snow spread open, so large they can't properly unfold in the tiny alley. A figure raises gracefully from the ground, staring down at the mugger squirming against his bindings.
"Please cease moving," a calm but firm voice says. "You will only hurt yourself."
The winged hero turns toward him, feathers twitching softly at the movement. Hawks meets vibrantly turquoise eyes, set in the middle of an unreadable face.
Owl. The Winged Hero. The Number Three Pro-Hero, in person.
Well, that's unexpected. As a rule, Hawks makes a point not to pay attention to hero business, due to spite alone. Owl is a different story. Her extraordinary ascension and enormous popularity are impossible to ignore. Not to mention he would legit kill to have her Quirk. Regardless of what his father thinks, Hawks is just fine and dandy with his own power. But to be able to fly?
She's even prettier in person and Hawks hatesit.
Later, Hawks will wallow with shame at his behavior. Later, he will resent himself for letting his own issues cloud his judgement. This has nothing to do with her, after all. She's just doing her job. She's doing him a favor. It's not her fault he's in a sour mood and has been all day.
But this is now, and he's seething with bitterness and her Perfect Hero Composure is pushing all his buttons.
"I believe this is yours." Owl walks to him, handing over his suitcase. "Are you hurt?"
Is he hurt? As if she cares. Pfff. The only thing heroes care about is their own Ranking. Hawks isn't fooled by her apparent concern.
There is another thing Hawks hasn't inherited from his father. His anger. Hawks doesn't get angry the way Endeavor does, the way Natsuo or Shouto do to a lesser extent. The way Touya used to, violently, like a volcano exploding in a summer afternoon. Hawks' anger simpers, crawls, whispers, sneaks, and tugs.
To put it simply: Hawks gets petty when furious. Viciously petty.
He smiles brightly as he grabs his suitcase. "Yes, I'm perfectly fine! Thank you so much! Ahh, what would I have done without a mighty hero to save me, I wonder?"
Owl politely smiles back. Ah, the formal but kind type of hero. How nice. "There is no need to thank me. I was just doing my job. If you're unharmed, I'll escort this gentleman to the nearest police station. Have a nice evening, and please stay safe."
And there Hawks should have let it go. Should have nodded along, gone home and waited until tomorrow for his shitty mood to pass. He knows he's not thinking clearly. But the acidic thoughts twirl and sink in his mind, uncontrollable, unstoppable, leaving a sour taste in the back of his throat.
What right does she have to intervene in his life just because she got a fancy quirk and a shiny licence? Fucking heroes, so entitled, so full of their own importance.
Touya should be the one to show up in dark alleys and dashingly rescue people. It was his dream.
He doesn't let it go. He wants to burst through that perfect facade of goodness and selflessness and shatter it to pieces. He wants to tear her down from the pedestal the masses foolishly put her on.
He wants to make her uncomfortable. Human.
"Eh, I kind of want to thank you though? It's not every day a normal guy like me get rescued by the Number Three Hero, ya know!" He rubs the back of his head sheepishly.
A speck of unease cracks through her impeccable, professional composure. "It's...not necessary, I assure you."
Hawks walks right through there, straight into the tiny crack she exposed. Gleefully. Cruelly. "C'mon, Owl-san, please indulge me. Hmmm, what could I get a lady like yourself?
Her expression remains cordially neutral, but her wings flutter nervously behind her back, feathers shivering like jingles. She'll need to get rid of that if she wants to stay at the top, he thinks mercilessly. The pro-hero world allows no weakness.
"Flowers maybe? Food?" he muses out loud, before clapping his hands together. "A hug?"
She flinches visibly, her eyes widening in surprise. Bingo. If there is one thing Hawks does better than the rest of his family of socially awkward idiots, it's read people. He can tell the legendary Owl is not used to human contact from the way she holds herself, the way her fingers twitch, the way she eyes him warily. And that ugly, festering side of him is not afraid to use that knowledge to hurt a perfect stranger just because he can. Just because he's hurting.
When he leans down, his arms wide open, he honestly expects her to either run away or push him. Or kick him in the groin. In retrospect, he would have deserved that pain.
She does neither of those things. Instead, she just stands there, frozen and stiff. Silently allowing Hawks to passive-aggressively smother her out of nowhere. His arms circle her torso, slides under the beautiful wings and settle on her back. Her shoulder-length white hair grazes his cheek, like a feathery caress.
What the fuck am I doing?
It's a very awkward hug, objectively speaking. Hawks knows what he's talking about; he's more than used to embracing people who have no idea how to respond to physical displays of affection. And it gets even more uncomfortable when she starts shaking.
Tiny shudders, barely noticeable, but Hawks is right there. He cannot not notice. It shakes him like an earthquake. Guilt pours in his ribcage as unsaid apologies bubble in his mouth. He's really a piece of shit, isn't he?
He's about to break the embrace and release the poor woman of his wickedness when small hands brush over his back. Owl is hugging him back. A sigh escapes her lips when her head nestles on his shoulder. White surrounds him entirely, the white of her hair under his chin and the white of her wings floundering softly around them. Time stops existing in their skin and feather bubble.
And then, it's over. Hawks blinks confusedly at the abrupt return to reality. It feels like he just woke up from a dream.
"I-I apologize." Owl bows to him, shocking. What does she have to apologize for? Hawks is the one who practically aggressed her for no valid reason. "T-Thank you for your time."
The next second, she's gone and so his mugger.
Leaving Hawks with only blurry memories of shy touches and the biting hold of remorse.
"I'm too lazy to cook today," Hawks informs Shouto instead of greeting him when his younger brother walks in the living room. "Take-out?"
His brother's steps are barely audible. Endeavor isn't home today, but being discreet in all circumstances is a deeply rooted habit in the Todoroki household. For anyone who isn't Todoroki Enji at least.
"You say that every two days," Shouto deadpans, casting a skeptical glance at the dumbass TV show Hawks put on.
Hawks likes his dumbass TV shows and nobody ain't stopping him from watching what he wants. "Well, it's true every two days. I'm vetoing soba by the way."
"Then I'm vetoing fried chicken," his little brother snaps back.
Touché, little one. Touché.
"Shouto!" Hawks puts his hand over his heart, sighing dramatically. "Why are you so cruel to your older brother? Don't you love me?"
Shouto doesn't deign to dignify that nonsense with an answer. He sits in a flawless seiza on the floor, his knees tucked under the low table, until he remembers he doesn't need to keep such a stiff position with only Hawks present.
"Pizza?" Hawks says cheerfully.
"Yeah, okay," his brother agrees. "What are you working on?"
His stuff is spread all over the table. Hawks likes to do his school preparations in front of the TV. The background noise helps him relax. He hates when the house is completely silent, which is most of the time. "My class sequence for next week. We're learning about animal classifications."
Shouto hums along non-committedly, his fingers skimming over the animal-shaped stickers Hawks has cut out. "I'm surprised you're not just talking about birds."
"Oi." Hawks pouts. "We've talked about this before. I'm not obsessed with birds okay."
He's not. Not anymore. Sure, his nickname is bird-related, his hair is dyed the same color as a peregrine falcon underwings, he still has pictures of birds of prey hanging on the walls of his room, and he's fascinated with flying, but he's not obsessed with birds.
Silence falls between them, only covered by the mindless chitchat of the TV in the background. Hawks peers at Shouto's blank expression curiously. He's doing that face. The 'I want to ask something but won't dare to' face. It's a classic Todoroki face. "Something the matter?"
"I don't know: is something the matter?" Shouto slowly blinks at him. "You've been...acting strangely."
Ah. To be honest, Hawks didn't expected Shouto to notice. Not that the younger boy is stupid or anything, but he does tend to miss clues sometimes. Not his fault, of course. He has other stuff to think about.
The truth is, Hawks can't get that disastrous hug out of his mind. He can't stop thinking about it, lying awake at night remembering sweet feathers, stiff smiles, and the trace of a single teardrop on his jacket.
The feeling of loneliness creeps on his heart, and guilt eats him away.
"Hm, I kind of...acted like a dick to someone who didn't deserve it because I was having a shitty day," Hawks confesses after a minute of consideration. "And I feel really bad about it."
Shouto doesn't press for details. He's a sweet kid who understands the need for privacy. "I...see. Maybe you should...apologize."
Hawks chuckles at his brother's expression of unease. It's sweet of him to try to give advice despite the fact that he's completely out of his depth.
"Yeeeeah. But I don't know them very well sooo… I guess I could send them a gift and a note or something?"
The thought appeals to him. He can do that. It won't be weird at all. Nope. Just a little something to ease his conscience, and then he'll able to go on with his life.
Yeah. Seems like a good plan.
Owl's Hero Agency looks very different from what Hawks is used to. Where are the expensive marbles, he wonders as he casts a glance at the entrance hall. The golden chandeliers? The giant pictures of the owner? This place is neat, very professional, decorated in subtle shades of cream and blue. Not ostentatious at all.
"Can I help you, sir?" the receptionist asks, looking up questioningly at him from behind her counter.
Hawks grins widely when he reaches the counter, resting his chin over his palm. "I sure hope you can! See, I have a little gift for Owl-san. She rescued my suitcase a few days ago and I wanted to thank her properly!"
The receptionist smiles when she catches sight of the bag dangling between his fingers. "I understand. Unfortunately, it's against our Agency's policy to accept gifts from citizens, for security reasons. I can convey your message to Owl if you wish."
Hawks grimaces dejectedly. Of course, what an idiot. He already knew that. Tame rule applied to his old man's agency, but he completely forgot with his enthusiasm.
"Or," the woman adds, glancing suggestively over his shoulder. "You could tell her yourself. Owl-san never minds talking to her fans."
Ah. Hm. Hawks was hoping he could avoid any actual confrontation, just drop his gift and guilt and be on his merry way. Tough luck there. "She's just behind me, right?"
Hawks turns on his heels. "Ah, err. Hello."
Owl smiles back, hesitantly. She seems more embarrassed than furious, which is...good? Hawks honestly doesn't know anymore. He remembers he's wearing his orange glasses today instead of the boring ones and briefly wonders if dying of shame is possible.
"This young man has a present for you," the receptionist chirps, sounding extremely amused by the awkwardness of the situation. At least someone is having fun. "I told him we had to decline, sadly."
"A present?" Owl echoes, looking genuinely taken aback. "For me?"
All Todorokis have their own coping mechanisms to protect their fragile little hearts in uncomfortable social confrontations with Non-Todoroki people. Natsuo laughs everything off, Shouto clams up like an oyster, and Hawks? Hawks flirts. Aggressively so. It's a terrible habit and he has yet to manage to break it.
"Well, I'm afraid I don't know any other other charming hero who rescued me recently." He has the nerve to wink. Who even winks in real life?
Red erupts all over her face. "I-I...I hardly rescued you."
"Dashingly rescued me." Hawks cheerfully ignores her denial. In the privacy of his mind, he waves goodbye at his self-preservation instincts. He's truly out of control today. "My students would have murdered me if I lost their homework, you know. I'm a elementary school teacher, and believe me, those gremlins are wild."
Hawks wishes it was socially appropriate to slap one's self in public. Why the hell is he spilling his backstory to the poor woman? It's another of his coping habits. Hawks babbles when he's nervous.
"Anyway, I brought an apology gift for...You know. There is a note." Sadly, there is indeed a note. A Sorry I was such a dick note. Hawks is regretting everything. "But since I can't give it to you…"
"I'll take it," Owl cuts in. She looks surprised at her own outburst. "We can make an exception. Just for this once."
"Oh. Okay? Great!" Hawks hands over the beg dumbly. "I hope you like chocolate?"
At the time, buying the little bird-shaped chocolates in his favorite bakery seemed like a good plan. This is actually why Hawks needs to stop thinking his ideas are good. He's pretty sure the receptionist is dying of laughter behind his back. Honestly, he can't blame her.
"I do!" the pro-hero beams, and wow. Her teeth shine as brightly as the wings fluttering on her back. Where did she come from, a toothpaste commercial? "Thank you."
"No, thank you." He laughs nervously. "Well, I'll be on my way. Have a nice day rescuing puppies or...I don't know, whatever you pro-heroes do."
It's not running away if it's a tactical retreat. At least that's Hawks' story and he's sticking to it.
"Owl?" Shitty Old Man repeats, perplexed by his son's line of inquiry. "Why the sudden curiosity?"
Hawks is already cursing himself for daring to express an interest. Endeavor is a relatively good mood, such a good mood he offered to drive Hawks to his school. That happens approximately once every six months, if the stars are in the right alignment. As a result, Hawks felt compelled to fill the tense silence in the car and the question spilled out on its own. He should have taken a leaf out Shouto's book and behaved like his father did not exist at all.
"Just like that." He shrugs it off. "You know. Making conversation. It's a thing people do."
Old Man briefly glares sideway at him, but doesn't comment on his snappish behavior. Wow, he's in a really good mood. Did All Might kick the bucket when Hawks wasn't watching or something?
"I don't know much about her. I don't pay attention to gossip." Yeah sure, but he does pay attention to competition, doesn't he? "Her Quirk is certainly interesting, I suppose. She has a decent control of it. And her record speaks for itself."
Which, in Endeavor speech, means Owl is kicking ass and taking names like a true mofo. Hawks already knows that though. What he wants to know is where she came from. There is no intel available about her past. Her family. Anything that isn't directly related to her hero persona.
"That's to be expected from a hero raised in the Program," the old man adds casually.
Hawks' blood freezes in his veins. He has heard of the Program, if only through whispers and rumors. Children with exceptional Quirks taken in and educated by the Government to become the best pro-heroes. Groomed to do their bidding. The simple thought disgusts him. Hawks had a shitty childhood, but at least he had a childhood. Growing up with handlers whose only job is to make heroes can hardly be considered as such.
That...would explain so much. The lack of personal information about Owl. Her incredibly fast ascension. Her awkwardness at every situation deviating from usual Hero duty.
The way she melted in his arms. As if she had never known the kindness of human touch.
Hawks feels sick.
"Her Quirk is hardly compatible with yours," Endeavors starts again, after a moment of silence. "But I suppose she's strong enough…"
"Don't. Even," Hawks hisses between gritted teeth.
It wouldn't be the first time his father brings up arranged marriages. So that his failure of a son could make himself useful by spawning potential heirs. Hawks would stab his own kidney before he even considers the absurd notion.
"Fine." Endeavor scoffs. "We're here."
Indeed they are. A few parents bringing their kids stare in confusion at the obnoxious and ridiculously expensive car. Hawks is so angry; he almost slam the door shut.
"Takahiro." His father says at the last minute, without looking at him. "...See you tonight."
Hawks blinks dumbly. Wow. That's...a normal sentence. Something a normal father would say to their kid. Endeavor doesn't do that sort of plain mundanity. Ever.
"Err yeah. Same. See ya."
What the hell.
The UA stadium is already full when Hawks arrives. For once in his life, he's grateful to be the Old Bastard's son. A humble elementary teacher like himself wouldn't have gotten access to the privileged Pro-Hero tribunes otherwise. It's a pain to surround himself with condescending assholes, but he wants to cheer on Shouto from up close. Hawks isn't exactly all on board with this hero thingie, especially with the recent villain attacks within UA itself, but he'll support his brother nonetheless. The kid deserves to have at least one person on his side.
God knows Endeavor isn't. Hawks would bet his glasses the old man will manage to embarrass himself before the Tournament is over. Probably by setting himself on fire and screaming at Shouto to USE YOUR POWER ALREADY BOY. Man, he can't wait to pick up the pieces of their respective egos when those two inevitably clash.
Ain't it fun being the useless Todoroki.
"Oh, it's you again!" a now familiar voice speaks up.
He closes briefly his eyes, resisting the urge to facepalm. Why is Hawks is even surprised? Of course the cream of the Pro-hero world would be there to evaluate potential recruits. "Yep, it's me again. I promise I'm not stalking you. Which is exactly what a stalker would say, I guess?"
Owl chuckles at his nonsense, her turquoise eyes glistening with amusement. "I never meant to imply such a thing. Would you...like to sit?"
She taps the empty sit next to hers. Well. It would be rude to just refuse.
Owl smiles shyly at him when he hops by. Her wings are folded neatly on her back. Looks annoying to be honest. Hawks never considered the potential everyday drawbacks of having giant wings. Joke's on him.
"The chocolates were very good," she says, after a minute of uncomfortable silence. "I do not understand why you felt the need to apologize though."
Ah. Well. Exactly the topic Hawks would have rather not talk about. "Hm. It's - not an excuse, but I was having a very bad day. I was mean."
She frowns. "Were you?"
"Yeah, I was," he admits easily. "I'm glad you liked the chocolates though. They come from my favorite bakery."
"I see. I forgive you then? May I...know your name?"
Hawks laughs. It didn't cross his mind that he never introduced himself. Usually people already knew who he was, especially in her line of work. "Yeah, sure. I'm Hawks. Nice to meet you."
Owl doesn't question his strange name. He's very grateful for that. Instead, she grins teasingly, a dimple crooked in her cheek. "We're birds of a feather, then?"
Wow. A joke. It's terrible. Hawks has a thing for people who makes lame jokes. Pretty people with beautiful wings and gentle smiles making lame jokes are even worse for his heart. "Eh, guess so!"
"I'm quite curious to know how you managed to get a ticket here Hawks-san." She tilts her head to the side.
Hawks doesn't want to lie. He hates deception as a rule while recognizing the necessity of hiding things sometimes. But he also doesn't want to be the Useless Todoroki in her eyes. He likes being that Weirdo Hawks.
Ah well. It can't be helped. He points down at the arena where the kids are stretching in preparation. "See that kid with the white and red hair?"
"Todoroki Shouto?" Owl replies immediately. Of course she would know who Shouto is. Everyone does.
"Yep. That's my brother."
She blinks. Hawks waits for the understanding to set in. "Oh. Oh, I see. You're Endeavor-san's son? I did not make the connection."
No shit. "Haha, not blaming you there! We don't really look like each other, my old man and I."
And ain't that the truth. Hawks is slender where the old geezer is buff, laid back in contrast to his father's intensity. His hair, back when it wasn't dyed, was the color of snow specked with the tiniest drops of blood. He inherited the bland brown of his eyes from his maternal grandmother. If anything, Hawks takes from his mother.
Also, Endeavor wouldn't be caught dead wearing eyeliner, while Hawks delights in painting the most eccentric features at the edge of his eyes. He has to get his fun somehow, and his students think it's the coolest thing ever.
"I suppose you don't," Owl eventually says. "You do look like Shouto-san."
"I do?" Hawks echoes, taken aback, before he regains his ground. "Ehe, Shouchan wishes he was as pretty as me."
She outright rolls her eyes at his boyish bragging. "I'm sure. It's sweet though."
"That you came to encourage him," Owl explains, staring at her lap. "It's sweet."
Hawks looks down at the arena, smiling fondly. "He's my baby brother. I have to be there to make fun of him."
"I wouldn't know." Her voice sounds distant. "Oh, it's starting."
In the end, time proved him right. His father does embarrass himself before the tournament is over. Dinner is going to be a festival of fun and giggles tonight.
"Something good happen lately?" his mother asks, smiling softly at him.
Hawks pours water in the vase, then places the flowers he brought in it. Sunflowers, bright and colorful just like his mom likes it. "Hmm, I'm not sure what you mean? Natsuo is having a blast at uni. And I think Shouto is making friends. Friends with the kid who broke all his fingers just to prove a point, but that's still something."
Rei chuckles behind her hand. Her laughter sounds like tinkling bells. Hawks likes hearing it. He wonders if he perhaps didn't pick up the role of the local clown for that reason. Someone had to do it - that person wasn't going to be Touya- but to be fair, Hawks never had to endure 'private training sessions' with Father. His meek ice Quirk never interested him.
"That's nice, sweetheart, but I was wondering about you."
"Me?" Hawks says. "I'm okay? Class is going well. The kids like me. And the old man has been less of a dick lately. Just a little bit. I don't know."
Rei hums along. She grabs a strand of his hair, making it roll between her thin fingers. Under the light of late afternoon, it gleams like wash-out crimson. "You seem...happier. So I thought maybe... It doesn't matter."
Something good, eh? "I don't know yet."
Her fingers skims over his skin, cupping his cheek tenderly. "Don't know what?"
He thinks of snow white feathers, of secretive smiles, of soulful blue eyes. Warmth glows in his belly. He isn't sure what to do of it."If it's something good. Could be good. Could be bad. Could be nothing."
"Ah, I see. You won't know until you try."
It's not love - it's not even affection yet -but it could be, if given enough time and incentive. That tiny spark of interest and kinship has the potential to grow into a forest fire, and it scares the shit out of him.
Love destroys. He's seen it first hand.
"Be careful, Takahiro." Her smile is wistful, sharp as winter wind.
He doesn't mind when his mother calls him by his given name. She was the one to give it to him, after all. It's fine if it's her. But no one else can. As far as he's concerned, he's just Hawks and has been for years.
The name Takahiro disappeared the same day Touya did, and Hawks wants nothing to do with it.
"You don't have to worry about me. I always am."
"Eh, You're not Miruko." Hawks says rather stupidly when he opens the door of the classroom.
Owl bites her bottom lip nervously. "Ah no, I'm afraid I am not. Miruko-san had an emergency. She sends her apologies and asked me to replace her. I hope it's alright?"
Huh. An emergency that requires the presence of the Number Six, but not Number Three. Sounds fake to him. Miruko loves doing the Hero presentation at schools. She wouldn't miss the occasion to brag about her catches and show off her muscles to the kiddos unless something really big came up.
Owl is not a very good liar. That's kinda cute.
"It's totally fine!" he chirps. "How familiar are you with kids?"
Her face loses the little of color she actually has. "Not...very?"
He had an inkling. This is gonna be fun. Nothing like unprepared confrontation to a class of wild gremlins to know a man's strength of heart. "Maaa, I'm sure you'll do brilliantly!" Then, louder, "Class! Guess who's coming to visit us?"
The presence of the Number Three Hero is acknowledged properly by absolute chaos. The girls in particular are over the roof with excitement, unsurprisingly. Owl is an icon for them. Pretty, strong, kind, determinated, fighting on equal terms with men.
To her credit, Owl handles her baptism of fire with perfect gusto. She sticks to her Power Point, speaks in simple terms without sounding condescending, and doesn't falter at the kids' questions. Not even when Takashi asks her if she lays eggs like his parents' chicken.
Not so unprepared as he boldly assumed. Worse, she actually seems to be enjoying herself. She's practically glowing when she explains how her Quirk works, allowing the kids to pet her wings. This is bad. If he has a thing for pretty people doing lame jokes, he's fucking weak to people who like children.
This is bad, bad, really bad. He can't stop smiling at the sight of her.
"You did great," he says once he's hushed the gremlins to the courtyard.
"Thanks." She beams. "Did I do well enough I'm deserving of a hug?"
He freezes. Damn, ain't she full of surprises today.
"I-I'm sorry… I was just joking…"
"Sure. Come here." He doesn't allow himself a moment of hesitation, opening his arms and swallowing her whole.
She settles against his chest easily, melting under his chin without a protest. It's still slightly awkward, but Hawks can't be bothered to mind.
"There, there." He smirks, patting the top of her head. "You did good."
"You're mocking me," Owl mumbles against his collarbone.
"Me? I would never!"
Bliss purs under his skin. The feeling of sheer proximity is scaring him, but enough for him to break the embrace. What is he doing? What are they doing?
"There was no emergency," she admits. "I asked Miruko to exchange her place with me."
"I gathered!" Hawks laughs. "What did you have to sacrifice for that?"
"I don't know yet. Only that I owe her favor. It seemed worth the risk. I wanted to see you again. Is that weird?"
Her candid confession shakes him the core. Hawks is used to a world of deception. Weaknesses and wishes are to be hidden, not exposed so bravely. Maybe he needs to learn to be brave as well.
He's falling hard and fast, and there is nothing he can do to stop it.
"No, I wanted to see you too."
Her wings spread around them. Hawks is cocooned in a blanket of white. It feels nice. Safe.
"My name is Fuyumi."
Fuyumi. A graceful, pretty, strong name. It suits her. "Hello, Fuyumi, I'm Hawks."
"Nice to meet you. Would you consider going on a date with me, Hawks?"
He laughs against her temple. "I like the way you think, Fuyumi. I'm a guy with fancy tastes though. Are you sure you can keep up?"
"That's not what the box of fried chicken in your bin says."
Ouch. Called the hell out.
"What the fuck are you doing, Hawks?" Natsuo growls through the line when Hawks picks up.
"Hello to you too, dear brother," he singsongs. "I'm doing fine. Thanks for asking!"
This conversation is going to take a while. Hawks settles athward on his bed, his legs stretched out against the wall. It's a childish position. He doesn't give a flying fuck.
"Are you even…? Hawks, seriously," his brother bemoans. "Why am I reading in the papers about the 'epic love-story of a Todoroki and Number Three Pro-Hero'?
"You read that kind of trash?" Hawks says, playing idelessly with his necklace. "Do I look good on the picture? Of course I do. I always look good on pictures."
"My roommate threw it to my face. You looked like your usual insufferable self. Can you stop evading the question already?"
That's the thing with brothers. They don't let your bullshit fly. "Not sure what you expect of me. I went on one date. No big deal."
And firmly intends to go on others. But what Natsuo doesn't know can't hurt Hawks.
"There is no such a such as just a date with you."
"Oi, what's that supposed to mean? I've dated casually before!" Not recently but he was busy with work. He can totally do casual dates.
"Not with a goddamn pro-hero," Natsuo argues back, snarling the word like it's an insult.
Accurate enough. If there is one thing Natsuo and him have in common, it's a healthy fear of commitment and a reluctance to interact with their father's kind. "She's not like him, Natsuo."
"Not saying she is," his brother replies, softer than before, "but you know how they are. What their lifestyle and their ambition do to the people around them."
Hawks does know. Doesn't he know. "Yeah, I do. And I like her enough to try anyway."
"My point exactly," Natsuo flatly declares. "You're an idiot."
He smiles to himself. "But you love me anyway, right, little bro?"
"Ready?" she breathes into his ear playfully.
Is he ready? He's almost shaking with excitement, his inner temperature fluctuating like crazy. He's so thrilled he can't stop his Quirk from freezing the end of his hair. That's how hyped he is, and if Fuyumi doesn't do the thing right, he might self-combust.
He has never been more ready in his entire life. "Hell yeah! C'mon, let's do it already!"
Fuyumi tightens her hold around his chest. He hears the sounds of wings fluttering on his back. His feet slowly lift off the ground.
Oh. Oh he's flying. He's fucking flying. Flying, motherfucker. His heart beats madly in his ribcage, butterflies shiver in his belly. This is the best feeling in the world and he never wants to come down.
"I'm flying, Fuyumi!" He cackles like a lunatic. "Do you see? Do you see?"
"Yes." She kisses the back of his neck. "I see."
Maybe Touya, wherever the fuck he is, is seeing too. The thought makes him hopeful and nostalgic instead of just painfully sad. They used to dream of it, when they were foolish children. That they could fly away from the hell they had to call a house, and never come back.
Hawks is flying, and he's not coming down anytime soon.