Atsuhiro ducked through the wreckage, following Himiko as they searched for the others. The former meta liberation army had split off, and didnt appear to be interested in helping the former league in battle. Atsuhiro kept an eye out for Shuichi and Dabi, but Toga was clearly after Hawks.
"That was Dabi's flames for sure, you think he found Hawks before we did?" The girl asked, stopping in a blind spot so they could catch their breaths.
"Not sure." Compress admitted, "Dabi might have stumbled into a fight with someone else. But either way now there's… there's no sign of him."
It made him nervous. The last of Jin's clones had melted away, no more were appearing and from what the one that saved them had said, Twice was either injured or… or worse. Dabi's fire was bursting repeatedly for a while, and Atsuhiro swore he heard him yelling, but after the one side of the manison collapsed they didn't see his fire anymore. They weren't sure if he had gotten out or was somewhere in the ruins, but Atsuhiro was becoming more nervous.
"We need to find Spinner, Dabi, and Giran and get out-"
"And Jin," Toga interrupted sharply, "we'll find Jin too!"
He swallowed the lump in his throat. Let the girl have some hope. Even if only for a little.
"Yes, and Jin," he added, "and we need to leave, head to the hospital, find a getaway car before the numbers increase here. We don't know for sure if they're after Tomura."
"I'm not leaving until i know Hawks is dead." Himiko hissed, the bloodlust in her eyes wasn't the same. The softness in her voice wasn't there. The threat wasn't a playful one. It was vengeance.
"I know, Toga, and we will, but we need to find the others. That's our priority." He said as gently as he could manage as they began walking again.
Turning a corner, Toga nearly slammed into Shuichi, who was out of breath and had some ash and dirt on his clothes and scales from the mess around but otherwise seemed unharmed.
"Oh it's you guys. Gods, I thought you all left without me!" He panted, grabbing the wall to steady himself, "there's heroes everywhere. We need to get out of here, they're literally tearing the place down."
"We wouldn't leave without you." Atsuhiro ensured the younger man.
"Seen Jin or Dabi?"
Himiko shook her head, "we were hoping you had."
"Giran texted me. Said he got out." Shuichi said, "haven't seen Dabi or Twice."
"The two of you go, find a way out, find a car. Send the location to my phone. if i don't come out or respond in five minutes, go to the hospital without me." Atsuhiro told the two, looking down the dark hallway, "ill head that way, you guys go back the way we went, we know its safe that way."
Spinner shook his head, "We won't leave without you guys!"
"I need to end Hawks." Toga added.
"Just go, i will catch up. I promise. You both need to make sure Tomura is okay and the heroes aren't attacking him while he's in operation and vulnerable." He pressed, repeating, "I will catch up."
"But you heard what Jin said. It was Hawks! Hawks did something to him! i need to end -"
"No, Himiko, you need to go, get somewhere safe. If i see Hawks, i will deal with the situation. You need to be safe."
Spinner looked between them, "wait, what did Jin say? What happened to Jin?"
"Toga will fill you in," Compress informed him, "go. I'll catch up."
Atsuhiro found Dabi sitting on the floor in the debris, head down, smoke pouring off him. The smell of burnt flesh hit him in the face as he got closer. Careful not to move too quickly and startle the villain rocking back and forth on the ground.
"Dabi…" Atsuhiro paused when Dabi flinched, jerking his head up. "Are you hurt? Can you walk? We need to go. Its… the building is collapsing. We need to find Twice and-"
"Jin's dead." Dabi blurted out and then he dropped his head into his knees again.
Everything was at a stand still for a moment before Atsuhiro could even find his voice to speak, "you know?"
"I saw. "
He had been hanging onto the hope Jin was unconscious or hurt, that he was simply weakened and that was why the double melted away. Atsuhiro had held onto the hope that they could find him in time, but it slipped through his fingers as Dabi fell into hysterics.
"Hawks… that damn hero … he fuckin killed him… he killed him!"
Atsuhiro took a deep breath, walking closer again. "Are you sure he's…. You're positive? Where did this happen? Are you sure-"
Dabi's head jerked up, an unsettlingly large grin on his face, blood seeping from the scars under his eyes, "I saw it! It happened in front of me! He fuckin' stabbed him, I saw him die! I watched him die!"
The older man's froze, memories flashing behind his eyes as a phantom pain went up his prosthetic arm. He couldn't breathe. That moment when he felt so helpless, helpless to stop it. He tried. He should have.
For a moment, seeing nothing but sunset orange, warm honey, then blood splatter.
"Dabi…" he forced himself out of the nightmares, the painful memories that never really faded, always remained on the surface, coming up as soon as the wire was triggered. "Dabi, are you wounded?"
"I tried to stop him, i did. I really did. The bastard flanked me, i didn't see him in time. I couldn't react fast enough. I was too slow, too weak, Twice was right there and I wasn't able to stop him. It was-"
"It wasn't your fault." Atsuhiro interrupted him, a few more steps closer, now standing only a yard away as Dabi yanked at his own hair, tangled in his fists. "You did what you could. It wasn't your fault."
Dabi continued to rock back and forth, smoke still pouring out of the torn areas of his patchwork. "Am i fucked? I'm fucked up, right? I'm… I'm crazy. Am I… am I broken, Atsuhiro? What's wrong with me? Why am I like this?"
"You are not broken."
"My arm, its gone! Its--"
"Mister! Calm down!"
"How am i supposed to even- its- I'm… I'm broken now! Magne, magne! Where is she!"
"You're not broken." Atsuhiro repeated, his prosthetic fingers twitching. Tingling sensations ghost up his arm like pinpricks. He reached out, hand resting carefully on the back Dabi's shoulders, feeling the heat burning even through his jacket. "Breathe, okay. In through your nose, out through your mouth. Like you told me all that time ago… calm down."
Dabi shook his head furiously, trembling under Atsuhiro's hand but didn't quite pull away from the touch, "You don't understand. You don't understand. You don't-"
"You love him." He said, "you do. He loves you. You both knew it, showed it, but living this kind of life were afraid to say it. That would have made it too real, made it hurt more in the end. Now you wish you had said it, but you can't because he's gone now…" sunset orange. Warm honey. "I do understand. Of all people, I understand."
"I wasn't… we weren't supposed to… it wasn't supposed to be him…" Dabi buried his teeth into the flesh of his hand, drawing blood, eyes screwed shut as his shoulders shook. He pulled away only to drop his head on his knees again, "it shoulda been me. Of all of us, it should have been me… Not Jin."
Tears welled up in Atsuhiro's eyes, his mask feeling moist with his urge to cry. Too much to process hitting him at once when realizing it was true, another one of them really was gone. He didn't know how bad Dabi would be after this, how he and the others could keep him from falling apart.
He pulled it up monetarily to wipe the tears from his eyes, looking down at Dabi as he tried to control his breathing. He continued to rub circles into the younger's back, trying to soothe him somehow, even if only a little bit, for only a little while.
"Dabi, how badly are you hurt?" Atsuhiro asked again, voice shaking slightly as another crash sounded around them. He checked the cell phone.
Toga: got it, Dad. We're waiting by the back entrance…
Toga: well what used to be the back entrance.
He took a hold of Dabi's arm carefully, the scars there blistered and tender. "Come on, we need to go."
Dabi tore his arm away, "Leave me."
"Atsuhiro, we need to move. We can't be in one place for too long."
Rushed voices. Bloody sheets. Soft shakes to his shoulder, the one with an arm still attached.
Pain. A hollow ache. Hopelessness. Something missing, not gone but not returning.
"C'mon, Compress, we ain't leaving anyone."
Pained sets of eyes. Chapped lips. Bleeding staples. Switching voices.
"Let me die. I wanna be with her. Let me be with her."
"I'm not leaving you like this." Atsuhiro insisted, "those heroes find you, they will kill you or they'll take you alive, and they'll… I do not want them getting a hold of you. I'm not leaving you here like this for them to find and hurt."
The fire user didn't move from his spot on the floor, didn't look up, "My leg is fucked. Overused my quirk and my ankle is broken. I fell from the staircase when it caved in, ripped open my side… i can't even walk, okay? Just go. Don't worry, I won't tell the heroes shit when they find me."
So that was what the burnt smell was and why there was blood all over his shirt. Atsuhiro frowned, heart pounding in his chest as he looked him over.
He didn't want to check how bad the wounds were, didn't need to. Dabi's body was fragile, malnourished, and too delicate for how he lived. His body could barely withstand daily life, let alone battle. Atsuhiro didn't need to see the damage to know it was bad, and he had to get him out.
"Let's go." He said again.
"Leave me behind. I'll slow you down."
"I'll slow you all down. Just go without me. I cant keep up."
Body shutting down. Fever. He felt sick, vomiting constantly. Constant moving. They couldn't stay for long. He was risking them. Would be better to stay behind, not slow them down, and maybe soon be with her.
"Up we go, come on." The older man bent down, careful as he pulled Dabi's arm over his shoulder, placing his own arm around the younger villain's waist and hauled him up. "You're coming along. I'm not leaving you here to die."
Dabi's legs buckled when he stood, leaning against Mr. Compress with a grimace on his face as blood drooled from his mouth, dripping onto the ground, "fuck you, old man. I said leave me."
"Language." Atsuhiro scolded, typing in a quick text with one hand while trying to keep the other upright, "and i said you're coming along."
"I can't leave… I can't leave his body, I…"
"Dabi, if you do not come with me and let me help you, you're going to die. Do you understand? If the heroes don't find and kill or capture you, you'll die from your injuries."
Dabi shook his head again, "i can't leave him here! I can't! I failed to save him, and i can't just leave-"
"Look at me." He pulled him up, holding his arms to try to catch the others eyes. They were bloodshot, vessels popped, blood steady trickling from the scars under them, "He isn't here anymore, Dabi… He's with Magne, now."
Dabi made a sound that was an awful lot like a sob, but bit into his hand to muffle it. "I want him here. " He mumbled.
"And I want her here too, but they'll have to wait on us for a little while longer. I don't think they will mind."