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“Just the one side?” Hawks confirms, and the guy nods, arms folded over his chest and gaze fixed on the counter. From what he can see, he doesn’t have any other piercings, but scars run the length of his cheeks and Hawks has the sinking feeling that he’s no stranger to pain.

He looks so utterly uncomfortable to be here, hunched over like the black leather jacket he’s wearing might protect him from the onslaught of glittery purples and pinks scattered around the store. Hawks decides to take pity on the guy.

“Okay, normally we’d charge full price regardless, but I’ll give you a discount for the piercing since it’s just the one side and the one earring.” He types everything into the register and rattles off the total, and the guy looks up for the first time since he’s arrived in the store.

“Thanks,” he mutters, blue eyes catching Hawks’ for just a moment before he ducks his head again. His hand digs into the pocket of his jeans and produces a wallet, equally as black and leathery as his jacket. Once again, Hawks is left in mild confusion - why would he choose to come here, of all places, to get a piercing? They’re not exactly the most reputable, and even Hawks isn’t really a big fan of using the piercing guns, but it’s extra money on the side, and he’s good at his job. He’s also far more diligent in cleaning the tools, and he excuses himself to the back to do so before piercing this guy’s ear.

By the time he returns, the guy has meandered over to the chair in the back of the store, positioned next to the big sign advertising their ear piercing deal. He’s staring up at it, like it contains some special information he hadn’t noticed before, and he seems to startle when Hawks approaches.

“Ready?” he asks, and the guy nods, head ducking again. Hawks just gestures to the chair, hoping to get this over quickly - mostly for this guy’s sake, with how uncomfortable he looks.

Per his job description, Hawks produces a placard with an array of earrings and hands it over to the guy to look at.

“Everything’s the same price,” he adds as the guy digs his hand from his pocket to take the display.

“No hoops?” he asks, and Hawks shakes his head absently when he glances up. Hawks is admittedly a bit mesmerized by the slow movement of the guy’s black-painted fingernails as he traces a line down the display beside each option. He’s curious what the guy will choose - he doesn’t seem one for anything flashy or colorful, and Hawks is betting on the steel ball.

“Oh, uh, no - you’ll want to wait til it’s all healed before you put hoops in,” Hawks adds as an afterthought to the guy’s question about hoops. He shakes his head, hoping to clear it, and the guy glances up for a moment. Hawks can see it now, the flash of a silver hoop in his ear. He can see how it would probably fit whatever aesthetic he’s going for. He could see an eyebrow piercing as well, or lip, or maybe a tongue piercing, that’d be-

Nope. No fantasizing about clients, number one rule. Even if they are kind of cute.

“I’ll go with this one,” the guy turns the display and points to the steel ball, and Hawks gives himself an imaginary pat on the back for his correct guess.

“Sure!” he enthuses, fishing into the tiny equipment stand for the right one. The guy settles back in the chair, letting his hands rest on the armrests, and Hawks’s gaze drifts to them as he lets his muscle memory prepare the gun.

His nails are all painted black, and it’s a meticulous job - either he’d had them done or has quite a bit of experience with doing them himself. Hawks is no stranger to how easy it is to make a mess, especially with such a dark color choice.

Surely one compliment won’t hurt, right? He’s just being polite, after all. In fact, now that he’s thinking on it, it’s practically his job to be overly polite, if he wants to leave a good impression. He’s obligated, really, to pay this guy a compliment.

“I like your nails,” he says, picking up his marker. “You wanted it on the left side, right?” Hawks adds a second later, leaving no room for the guy to make any comment, just in case he’s overstepped some boundary. Which he totally hasn’t, because he’s supposed to be nice. Part of his job.

“Right,” the guy says, and Hawks curses himself - he’d sworn the guy said left, but maybe he’d been too distracted. He shifts to the other side of the chair, and the guy looks up at Hawks. “Oh- shit, no I meant left was right, like...correct...” he mumbles, dropping his gaze again, but Hawks just blurts out a laugh.

“Got it,” he says, and in spite of the way the guy’s tucked his chin into his chest, Hawks can see the corner of his lip has lifted up. His cheeks are dusted a pale pink as well, and his ear is warm to Hawks’ touch when he reaches a hand up to tuck the strands of black hair behind it.

Hawks crouches just enough to get a good angle for placing some marks, doing his best to concentrate exclusively on which locations would look best for this piercing while still taking into account the probability that the guy will change it to a hoop.

He is also very much not concentrating on the guy’s eyes flicking over to him every couple of seconds, then quickly returning to a sort of disinterested stare at his lap. Hawks places a final dot, then steps in front of the guy.

“Okay, look straight ahead?” Hawks says - he usually tells clients to look at him, but he’s already complimented this guy, he can’t also tell him to stare into his eyes or whatever. He exhales a sigh - no being attracted to customers.

“Is something wrong?” the guy asks, and his brows scrunch together. Hawks’ eyes widen, and he plasters a smile on his face.

“No! No, just, here-” he lifts his hand to the guy’s chin, tilting it up just a bit further. “No, it’s good,” he reassures him, “just take a look and let me know where you want it.” He steps aside and hands over a mirror, and only once he’s sure the guy’s focused on his reflection does Hawks allow himself a moment to stare up at the ceiling and pray to whatever gods exist that he can get this over with quickly and move on.

He can tell already that he’ll be thinking about this guy for the rest of the afternoon, lost in daydreams just to pass the rest of his shift, but the less time he has to memorize the line of this guy’s jaw, the way his hand grips the mirror, the-

Right, don’t look, don’t focus on him, Hawks reminds himself again. It’s just the boredom talking, begging him to fill the dull hours of helping kids and their overbearing and irritating parents.

“Let’s go with this one,” the guy says, startling Hawks from his thoughts, and he looks over to find the guy indicating the one highest on his cartilage. Hawks nods and accepts the mirror the guy hands back, and he swaps it with the piercing gun.

The guy barely flinches when he pierces his ear, and Hawks thinks again of the scars leading up to his cheekbones. He wishes every piercing was this simple - he’s already dreading the next kid that comes in and freaks out halfway through their piercing, and the irate parent that insists Hawks has done something wrong. As if sticking a literal hole in a kid’s ear isn’t going to be a little painful…

“Is it done?” the guy asks, and Hawks blinks as he realizes he’s just been standing here, holding onto this random person’s ear for an extended period of time.

He does his best not to stumble as he rushes to step back, offering an awkward chuckle and a ‘yeah!’ that sounds a little more high-pitched than his normal voice. After a few uncomfortable seconds of the guy staring at him, Hawks holds up a finger and swaps the gun for the mirror again.

“Here, what do you think?” he asks, and his fingers brush the guy’s as he takes the handle. He must not notice the way Hawks does, though - he doesn’t show any indication of it, anyway.

Hawks watches the guy look at himself. This is perhaps one of the most interesting parts of his job, watching the way people react to their reflections. Some are so obviously narcissistic that Hawks feels like he’s intruding on a private moment, others so quick and dismissive that he wonders if they don’t really like what they see. The kids are the best, though - the ones who don’t bail out halfway through - because they just show this unbridled joy at adorning themselves with something new and shiny, and it never fails to make Hawks smile.

This guy’s expression is hard to read, but Hawks doesn’t mind the excuse to stare - it’s only once the guy’s eyes flick up to meet Hawks’ that he realizes what he’s been doing. He scolds his brain, then gives the guy his best customer service smile.

“How do you like it?”

“It’s good,” the guy says, void of any particular emotion, and he hands over the mirror. Hawks steps back, giving him space to stand, and he allows himself one moment of mourning before he refocuses his thoughts. He will not spend the day thinking about this guy, he will not spend the day thinking about this guy, he will not-

“Thanks,” the guy says as he walks past Hawks, close enough that his jacket brushes the skin of Hawks’ arm. Goosebumps raise in its wake, and Hawks just tilts his head back and stares up at the ceiling - yeah, he’ll be replaying that whole interaction on a loop in his mind for the rest of the day.

What did he do to deserve this kind of self-imposed torment?

-------------

“Hawksy!” Toga sing-songs as he walks in. He’s got the closing shift today, a deal he’s worked out with the manager for his weekend shifts - he’s at the tattoo shop most weekday evenings til midnight and has no interest in getting up early on a Saturday for an opening shift. And, just his luck, he’s stuck working with the overly bubbly pint-sized blonde bouncing behind the register.

He lifts his hand in his best attempt at a friendly wave, a smile to match, but he freezes the moment the person opposite Toga turns.

His brain hadn’t processed the guy until just now, until each of the individual pieces had lined up and fallen into place: the spiky black hair, the all-black attire, the leather jacket, the black nails on the hand resting on the counter.

“Oh, yeah, this guy said he was here to see you?” Toga points a french-manicured nail at him, and Hawks can see the blood rushing to the guy’s cheeks. He ducks his head, and his hand finds its way back into the pocket of his jeans.

Concern flashes through Hawks, then - had he fucked up with the piercing last week, somehow? It’s not exceptionally common, but if the guy had tried to take it out or pulled it out my mistake, he might’ve had an issue putting it back in. Hawks takes a few long strides, brows scrunched.

“Sure, did something happen with the piercing?” He’s already staring at the side of the guy’s head, as if he can magically see through the strands of black hair to the little ball of steel he knows he put there. The guy opens his mouth, then closes it, then opens it again.

“No, uh- I actually wanted another?” he says, and Hawks exhales a breath. He lets himself look at the guy’s face, then, and those blue eyes hit him just as hard as they had the first time.

“Oh, the other side?” he asks - perhaps he’d changed his mind from his initial request. Hawks leans against the counter, letting his concern ebb.

“Uh, same side, actually,” he lifts a hand to point, tilting his head, and Hawks does his damnedest not to let his gaze trail down the length of his neck. He swallows, then lifts his brows.

“Right, we can do that,” he says. “Did Toga ring you up already?” He points at her, trying to focus on anything but staring at this guy for five seconds. Five damn seconds, he says to himself - that’s all he needs to get his thoughts under control. He will not be spending another day losing himself in what he could’ve said differently, how he could’ve made the guy laugh, the millions of pickup lines he could’ve tried…

“I didn’t, Hawksy, I thought he might want you to do it instead.” Her tone gets all...cutesy, like she’s implying something, and Hawks squints at her for a moment. But she just smiles wide at him, those silly fake vampire teeth poking out, and Hawks blows out a breath.

“Sure,” he says, attempting to give his voice the same chipper tone - he suspects there’s something going on that he’s not being told, but it hasn’t hit yet, so he’ll just stay aware and act normally in the meantime.

Toga shuffles out and drags him by the arm to the spot behind the register, positioning his shoulders until he’s facing directly at the guy. “Hecameinyesterdaylookingforyou,” she whispers at breakneck speed in his ear, then leans away and grins. “Hawksy here will get you all checked out,” she announces at a more normal volume. “And what did you say your name was again?”

Hawks is still reeling - this guy asked for him specifically? He throws out all his plans to be anything other than mildly obsessed with this guy for the rest of the day. Hell, the guy had actually remembered him? Hawks will most likely end up pining over him for the rest of the week at an absolute minimum.

“I didn’t,” he says, and Hawks remembers that Toga asked a question - briefly, he mourns the loss of this guy’s name. It’s much easier to play out fantasies in his head when the other party’s got an actual name.

Toga chirps something Hawks doesn’t hear and her presence disappears from the corner of his vision, but he’s too distracted to pay her much mind. He’s instead focused on the way the guy’s fingers drum on the counter, once again freed from his pocket, and the subtle movement of his shoulders as he shifts his stance. Hawks doesn’t dare look up to the guy’s face, although, if he remembers correctly - and he probably does - the guy wasn’t big on eye contact anyway.

“It’s Dabi.” The voice startles him, and he glances up to find blue eyes watching him. “My name,” he clarifies, and Hawks sucks in a breath. It takes him several seconds to process the words, to lock ‘Dabi’ into his head, and he offers his best smile back. And tries desperately to ignore the way his heart races, hammering against his ribcage like it intends to break free.

“I’m Hawks,” he says, sticking a hand out across the counter, “pleasure!” Dabi huffs out a breath that sounds like it might be a laugh, and Hawks is torn between pride at the hint of a smile on his lips and a streak of embarrassment at being the butt of some joke he’s not privy to. His own grin falters.

“I know,” Dabi says, and his finger flicks up from the counter to point vaguely towards Hawks’ chest. “It’s on the nametag,” he clarifies. Hawks’ entire body flushes with heat, and he pulls his hand back.

“Right, right,” right, this guy had asked for him by name - he assumes - and he’s required to wear a nametag, so of course Dabi would know his name. He pulls his hand back and taps away at the register to hide his sudden rush of nerves, coughing out something like a laugh. “I’ll give you the same discount as last time.” He pushes through his sudden self-consciousness to focus on the task at hand, and to hopefully focus Dabi as well.

As it stands, every time Hawks glances over, Dabi’s watching him, but he tells himself it’s only to do with him waiting for Hawks to remind him of the price, take his card, and swipe it. Absolutely no other reason.

“Right, receipt,” Hawks extends the receipt toward him, “and you can go ahead and wait over-” Dabi hikes a thumb over his shoulder as he takes the paper, and Hawks nods. “Yeah, right over there, you know the drill,” he jokes, offering another smile. Dabi’s lip curls up just a bit, and Hawks has to turn away to hide the way his face flushes with warmth. The last thing he wants to do is scare Dabi off by being too-

No, the last thing he needs is to be attracted to one of his clients. He spends the entire time it takes to clean the piercing gun reminding himself of this, running it through his head on repeat until he’s sure he’s calmed down, he’s sure he’s scrubbed his mind of any thoughts of pursuing Dabi with any kind of seriousness.

His resolve lasts right up until he steps back out into the storefront, and Dabi’s gaze catches his; he’s relaxed in the chair, one leg stretched out and the other propped up on the rung a few inches off the ground, and those long fingers tap distractedly on the armrest. He’s got his head tilted, brow quirked in Hawks’ direction, and Hawks forgets how his legs work for a solid few seconds.

“Y’alright there, Hawksy?” Toga says from where she’s taken up his mantle at the register, and he startles, breaking eye contact with Dabi. His cheeks warm under her knowing grin, and he mumbles out something that might be a ‘yeah, fine’ before rushing past the display stands to the other side of the store.

“Same earring?” Hawks asks Dabi, intent on staying focused on the task at hand. He refuses to look up unless it’s absolutely necessary - he doesn’t need a repeat of a moment ago, when he’d been frozen under Dabi’s stare. And he most certainly does not let himself think about that stare, what it could’ve meant. He was probably just waiting for Hawks to emerge from the back room, that’s all.

“Same one,” Dabi agrees, and Hawks prepares the gun. Now the challenging part - newly challenging, anyway, challenging since he’d fallen under whatever spell Dabi had cast a minute ago. He holds the marker in his hand, warring internally on whether he should be the one to brush Dabi’s hair behind his ear or suggest that Dabi do it himself.

But Hawks had been the one to do it last time, so Dabi would assume it’s normal, wouldn’t he?

That’s all the reasoning he needs, and he gathers up all his remaining confidence as he tucks the wayward black strands behind Dabi’s ear. The first piercing stares back at him, perfectly well-cared-for and no sign of infection, and Hawks allows himself a small smile. It’s always nice to work with clients who actually take care of themselves.

“Did you want this one above or below?” Hawks asks, focused steadfastly on Dabi’s ear. He can do this, he thinks, if he doesn’t have to look at Dabi. Or, more accurately, look at Dabi looking back at him.

Then Dabi walk out of here, likely to never return, and Hawks will think about him for a day or two before moving on with his life.

“Either one,” Dabi says, and his shrug lifts his shoulder enough to brush against Hawks’ arm. Okay, maybe three or four days. A week, tops. Then some hot dad or some kid’s older brother will come in and he’ll have someone else to think about, Dabi relegated to a distant memory of a half-forgotten face somewhere in the back of his head.

“I’ll probably get both at some point,” Dabi continues after a pause, startling Hawks from his thoughts - he sets to work, placing a couple marks on either side of the current piercing. He’s at work, he’s meant to be actually working.

“You don’t do nose piercings here, do you?” Dabi adds, and Hawks quirks a brow as he steps back.

Yeah, Hawks can picture it, and it does absolutely nothing to help him forget the lines of Dabi’s face, the slope of his jaw and the shape of his eyes and the fullness of his lips and-

“We don’t, but Hawksy can do it!” Toga shouts across the store, and Hawks curses her - clearly, she can not only hear them from the register, but she’s making a very concerted effort to ensure Dabi continues to be in Hawks’ life. Hawks shoots her a glare before turning back to Dabi.

“You do them?” he asks, tone laced with confusion. “What, out of your garage or something?” Hawks blows out a breath of nervous laughter at the way Dabi’s eyes sweep across his body, like he’s sizing him up.

He really isn’t supposed to mention his other job while he’s working here, conflict of interest and all that, but Toga was right - at this place, they don’t do any other body parts aside from ears, while the tattoo shop he works at on weekdays will pierce just about anything.

“It’s a tattoo parlor on the north side of town,” he clarifies, and Dabi nods. But he doesn’t say anything else, not for a solid few seconds, and Hawks is a second away from launching back into his standard ‘tilt your head up, how does this look, which mark do you want me to pierce’ spiel when Dabi lifts his brows even higher.

“Well, do I get to know which shop?” he asks, and Hawks mumbles out a soft ‘oh’ and glances around - but it’s only him and Toga here, and she’d been the one to bring it up, so it can’t really hurt, right?

“The Warp Gate? It’s on the corner of twelfth and Cypress, right across from-”

“Across from that Korean place? Yeah, I’ve seen it before, didn’t know they did piercings,” Dabi interrupts, and Hawks gives him a genuine grin.

“It’s pretty recent that I started working there, they didn’t have a piercer before.” He’d sought them out for that precise reason, and it’d been fairly easy to get them to agree to give him a space, especially once he’d mentioned he’d be bringing all his own equipment.

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Dabi says, and his eyes trail down Hawks’ body again - this time seems far less like a measuring-up kind of stare, though, and Hawks swallows thickly.

“Right, uh, anyway, did you, uh- the mirror, did you want to pick where to get this next piercing?” He fumbles with the mirror as he pulls it from the equipment stand, but Dabi takes it without comment. Again, his expression stays relatively unchanging as he looks at his reflection, and Hawks wonders if it’s a practiced caution or just truly how he reacts to seeing himself.

“The top,” Dabi says, extending the mirror back out for Hawks to take, and he nods. He can focus, this is a simple task. He doesn’t need to think about the implication that Dabi might stop by the tattoo shop, that he might seek Hawks out again.

No, not Hawks - his skills. He just wants a piercing, and clearly trusts Hawks to do it. It’s a job, a transaction, nothing more. Again, Dabi stays almost perfectly still as Hawks pierces over the mark Dabi had chosen.

“Alright, take a look,” Hawks says, handing over the mirror once again. Dabi barely glances at it before nodding and glancing up at Hawks.

“When do you work at the other shop?” he asks, and Hawks fumbles with the mirror as he replaces it on the equipment stand.

“Uh, weekdays, two til midnight,” he says to the piercing gun, very pointedly avoiding Dabi’s gaze - he can feel the way his cheeks have flushed with warmth, and he needs a moment to regain his composure. There’s nothing unusual about someone wanting to know when he works, if he’s the only piercer and Dabi’s looking for a piercing. Perfectly normal, in fact.

“Good to know,” Dabi says, and he stands without another word. Hawks turns back to offer him a smile, but he’s left holding his breath as Dabi brushes past him, even closer than the last time. “Thanks again,” he says as he passes, a hint of a smile on the corner of his lip, and Hawks hums out a sort of ‘you’re welcome’ that doesn’t quite turn into words.

Toga’s incessant teasing becomes a sort of background noise for the remainder of his shift, leaving his cheeks in a permanent state of warmth and his thoughts focused solely on Dabi.

----------

The bell at the door rings, and Hawks tosses out a ‘just a sec!’ before pushing out through the curtain separating his piercing station from the rest of the shop. When he peeks around the corner, he has half a mind to go back into his little office and hide until someone else comes along to talk to the man instead. Black hair, black leather jacket, head tilted, brow quirked, and bright blue eyes.

“Hawks?” Dabi asks, and Hawks offers a shaky smile - it’s too late to run, apparently, so he steps out and plasters on his best ‘calm, confident employee’ facade.

“Dabi!” He waves, pleased that Dabi remembered his name and much less uncomfortable at having remembered his - they’re on somewhat even footing, although Dabi’s relaxed expression doesn’t match the way Hawks’ insides are fluttering. He suspects Dabi might have the upper hand here.

Hawks is pleased to see that he does look far more comfortable in this environment - the softer lighting, classic style tattoo art lining the brick walls, the heavy rock music playing in the background, it all seems to suit his aesthetic far better than the stark, bright atmosphere of the shop he’d met Hawks in.

“Here for that nose piercing?” Hawks adds, leaning against the display counter housing the variety of piercing options and doing his best to remain nonchalant. Dabi’s just another client, just here for a piercing, and Hawks can treat him as such. Without any wayward drifting into ‘god he looks good in all black’ or ‘wonder what he tastes like’ or-

“Sure, that or another earring, or whatever.” Dabi waves a hand, and Hawks quirks a brow.

“‘Whatever’ is a pretty wide range...” Hawks tilts his head. “Nose, ear, eyebrow, belly button…” he trails off, watching Dabi’s brows lift higher, amused with each additional suggestion. “Lip, tongue,” Hawks adds, his own body flushing with warmth. He’s pleased at the way Dabi’s cheeks turn pink, the way he dips his head - it’s not the same kind of uncomfortable, anxious, hiding kind of ducking he’d had while at the other shop, it’s darker. His eyes stay fixed steadfastly on Hawks’, like he’s daring him to come up with an even more intimate suggestion.

Hawks has half a mind to do just that.

“I’ll take whatever you’re willing to give me,” Dabi says, and Hawks’ chest just about explodes - if he’d ever even thought he had a chance of considering Dabi as nothing more than a client, he was sorely, sorely mistaken.

“How about my number?” he suggests, forcing the words out in place of anything more risque he’d been tempted to say. He’s on the clock, now really isn’t the time.

Dabi grins, tilting his chin up and letting his gaze drag down the length of Hawks’ body. Hawks is pretty sure he’s burning up from the inside.

“You asking me out?” he says after several torturously long moments, and Hawks sucks in a breath. Would Dabi even believe him if he said ‘no’? Based on the smirk Dabi’s got pointed at Hawks, he highly doubts it.

He blows out a nervous breath and shakes his head.

“I am, but don’t think that’s getting you another discount.” He breaks eye contact with Dabi and meanders his way behind the counter, tapping absently at the tablet used to book his orders. He needs to refocus his own thoughts, and hopefully Dabi’s as well - they’re in the middle of the tattoo shop, not tucked away in the corner of some crowded club, and anyone could overhear their blatant flirting.

It sends a shiver up his spine, a little thrilled at the idea.

“I’ll keep that in mind, but I am seriously considering the tongue piercing now.” Dabi leans against the counter across from Hawks, and his tongue flicks out over his lips. Hawks can’t tell if it’s intentional or not, but it makes his knees weak all the same.

“Maybe start with the piercing you initially wanted,” Hawks suggests on a laugh - he desperately hopes it doesn’t come out sounding as nervous to Dabi as it does to him. Dabi coughs out a laugh as well, and it sets Hawks at ease. He doesn’t seem to be picking up on Hawks’ emotions, but Hawks keeps his gaze on his tablet just in case.

“If you insist,” Dabi says, “nose it is.” Hawks rings him up, then gestures to the display case for Dabi to choose a piercing. He’s far from shocked when he decides on yet another steel ball, and Hawks pulls it out and gestures to the hall leading to his office.

Dabi settles himself on the chair without being asked, leaned back in an approximation of the casual demeanor he’d had the last time he came for a piercing. Hawks only lets himself appreciate the view for a moment, then he focuses on the task at hand. He busies himself opening all the requisite utensils, laying them out on his table.

“So you pierce anything, then?” Dabi asks, startling Hawks just as he’s about to turn.

“Anything,” Hawks says, and he turns to find Dabi’s brow quirked. “Yes,” Hawks emphasizes, “anything.” It’s not an uncommon question, and Dabi tilts his head, then nods, like he’s satisfied with that answer. Hawks wishes he could read minds, just to know what’s going on in Dabi’s right now.

But wishing for the ability doesn’t suddenly make it manifest, so he lifts his hand - and the marker it’s holding - and points it at Dabi.

“Ready for round three?” he asks, mostly a reference to both previous piercings, but Dabi smirks at him and it puts him off balance.

“Whenever you are.” His words cut off sharply, like he’d meant to say something else after, and he ducks his head for a moment before looking back up. Hawks steps forward and lifts Dabi’s chin, letting his hand rest there to hold him still as his other hand rests against Dabi’s cheek.

“Right side?” he asks, and Dabi hums out an agreement. Hawks takes his time placing a mark, a little disappointed when he has to lean back and release his grip on Dabi. He provides a handheld mirror without a word - surely Dabi’s aware what it’s for, by this point.

“Looks good,” he says, handing it back. Hawks may make an effort to let his fingers brush against Dabi’s as he takes it, and his heart races at the way Dabi’s lip ticks up at the corner. Hawks turns, begging his blood to quit racing through his veins - he needs to actually do his job, and he can’t do it with shaky hands.

When he turns back, Dabi hasn’t moved an inch, head still positioned exactly as Hawks had left it. On a whim, he brushes Dabi’s hair from his face - it’s not particularly in the way, but it almost feels like a necessary action, given the fact that he’s had reasons to do it both times before.

But this isn’t the time for his facade of reasoning, he needs to actually be professional. He needs to focus, he needs to pretend Dabi’s a normal client. He inhales, then exhales, hoping to clear his head. He lets cold steel in his hands center him, and he does his best to emulate its emotionless exterior.

He attaches the clamp to Dabi’s nose, then pierces it without a word. Again, Dabi hardly flinches, and Hawks quirks a brow - he wonders how much pain tolerance he has, if this barely affects him.

“Hold still,” he says - there’s a needle in his face right now, and Hawks has to turn away to get the nose ring from where he’d set it on the table. The last thing he needs is Dabi making a sudden movement, or giving into an instinctive urge to rub at his nose.

“Didn’t plan on going anywhere,” Dabi quips back, and Hawks huffs out a breath of laughter. The swap from needle to nose ring goes smoothly, and he undoes the clamp and sets it and the needle aside.

When he turns back, Dabi’s got his nose scrunched - it’s a pretty normal reaction, to test how it feels, but it softens his whole face and Hawks forgets what he’s been doing. He looks adorable, for lack of a better word, probably as far from the aesthetic Dabi’s going for as he could possibly be, but Hawks kind of likes it. He wonders what else he could do to get that look from Dabi, maybe even on purpose - he’d like to see Dabi intentionally soft, gentle.

“One last look?” he suggests, holding up the mirror again - in part, it’s a joke to himself, the idea that Dabi won’t be finding his way back to the tattoo parlor again for another piercing. But he does want to make sure Dabi’s satisfied with it as well.

Hawks watches Dabi stare at himself, intrigued by the way he quirks a brow, and Hawks has half a mind to tell Dabi how good he’d look in all other sorts of piercings. He seems pretty inclined to get them, anyway.

“Did you want anything else?” he asks, and Dabi blows out a breath as he looks away from his reflection and over at Hawks. His lip curls up in a smirk, and Hawks has to lean back against his table, suddenly at risk of his legs collapsing beneath him.

“I believe your number was mentioned?”