Hawks hadn't known he was pregnant. He'd had no symptoms, not a single sign of his condition up until now - his stomach hadn't even popped out, for goodness' sake. He'd been flat as a board this entire time, had no nausea or exhaustion, no warnings from his body it might be necessary to go pick up a test. Yet after the attack ended and he was rushed to a public hospital with many other heroes, he experienced sharp abdomen pains that the medical staff soon found out were labor pains. Four hours later he was in a completely different ward of the hospital, exhausted, confused, and all stitched up from childbirth.
His son was born at twenty-three weeks along. He was so small, the first and only time Hawks held him he fit in the palms of both his hands. His skin looked thin and sickly, and he was completely bald, lacking even eyebrows and eyelashes because he'd come too early. His wings were practically skeletons, featherless. He had trouble breathing on his own, yet didn't so much as make a sound in Hawks' hands, not a cry, whimper, or gasp. If Hawks didn't know any better, if he couldn't see the troubled rise in his chest and all the tubes already hooked up to him, he would have thought the baby was dead.
It was too soon to tell who the baby would take after one day. Hawks thought he had signs of his eye markings on his face, but his eye color, hair color, and physical features were completely unknown right now. Nevertheless, there was no doubt in Hawks' mind who the other father was. The lucky thing was, no one else knew and wouldn't be able to guess by looking at their kid. When the nurses considered Hawks rested and well enough to fill out the birth certificate, he left the other parent section blank.
The name part for the baby was a tough one. Hawks hadn't been anticipating parenthood being suddenly thrust upon him - he surprised himself by his instant desire to keep it, because he hadn't particularly wanted kids before - so he didn't have any names in mind. After an hour of thinking carefully, he went with Yuto, using the kanji for 'permanence' and 'to soar, fly.' Maybe the baby would live and get to use his wings someday. If not, well - well, Hawks wasn't going to think of that right now. He was still stuck on the fact he'd lost his wings, almost died, and then given birth; he didn't have the head space for anything more, let alone something so negative.
He had a thorough discussion with the doctor in charge of his case once he was done with the birth certificate.
In regards to his own condition, he would be fine. Everything would heal with proper medical care and he could go home in a couple days if he wanted. The burns on his face and left side weren't too serious; they'd leave light pink scars, but it was nothing skin grafts couldn't fix if he preferred it that way instead. His wings, unfortunately, had been burned and cauterized at the joints connecting to his back. Those burns were much more severe than his face and side. The doctor sincerely, regretfully, doubted they would grow back by the end of the week this time.
In regards to Hawks' son, he was born much too early and was far from thriving, but they had the equipment to keep him stable. Care was better than it used to be, so his chances of living were much higher than dying. But the risk was still there, higher than they would have liked for a premature baby due to what seemed like an innate frailty of his body, and he might suffer from long-term complications even if he did live. He would need to stay in the hospital for several months because of this. If he did live, though, he'd begin to thrive on his own. That was the good news.
So in other words, Hawks had come out of the attack with a(n ex-) boyfriend who told him he'd known he was a spy all along and never trusted him, burned away his wings forever, costing him his career as a hero, informed him he didn't care about his life, had tried to kill him, and sent him into premature labor with his innately frail kid who would either die or live a complications-filled life. That was great. But hey, at least Hawks had killed a dangerous (the kindest) League of Villains senior member and learned Dabi's real name. That counted for something, right? He wasn't sure that made up for it all at the end of the day, but it counted for something, right?
Hawks was moved to his own private room at the Hero Commission's request and had another thorough discussion with them about the future moving forward.
They stoically thanked him for his service as a hero underneath them and offered their brisk condolences about his quirk. He was offered a desk job at the Commission, and after he refused, reminded of his countless NDAs as they politely accepted his refusal and hoped for a speedy recovery from his injuries. They would keep in contact from time to time, and would continue to watch over him in case the League targeted him for his betrayal. He would also be compensated financially for his service and losses - as if that made up for anything or was required to keep his mouth shut, as if he wasn't already rich from his places in the top three.
His heart just about stopped when they mentioned his son. Hawks should have expected that, though. Of course they were informed, patient confidentiality be damned. On the bright side, they had no interest in him; even if he lived, his likely complications would prevent him from becoming a hero. Or so Hawks interpreted from behind their thinly veiled remarks about how he was unlikely to follow in Hawks' footsteps. On the not so bright side, they demanded to know why they weren't informed of Hawks' physical state beforehand or why he didn't take care of it before the attack. He sweetly informed them he hadn't been aware of the pregnancy, and would have absolutely taken appropriate measures, whatever they might have been, if he had known, and ended that aspect of the conversation with a bare-toothed smile.
They didn't ask who the other father was, thank goodness, but Hawks threw in that Yuto was the result of a one night fling several months ago, and laughed about how he should have been more careful. He let them assume for themselves it was while off-duty. He wasn't out to make himself look suspicious. The last thing he wanted was them performing a DNA test on his kid. Maybe he was being paranoid there, but hey, he didn't even have plans to let the Todorokis know they had a new member of the family, let alone the Commission. He didn't know what would happen if it was found out he had been sleeping with the enemy - and didn't report so, because clearly, it was solely for the infiltration, yeah? Yuto's parentage was none of their business as far as Hawks was concerned.
He did give over everything else, though, including his salvaged recorder. He answered every question, promised one last detailed report to send to their desks, and let them know the previously unknown senior member of the League of Villains, Dabi, was in fact Todoroki Touya, who had his own agenda outside the League that likely included the death of his father and the number one hero, Endeavor.
As long as his son was safe from both sides here on, and more lives were saved as the League and their allies were taken out, Hawks didn't really care what happened to Dabi next.
Hawks was given the choice to be discharged from the hospital two days after his arrival, but chose to wait it out another few days to let the doctors continue monitoring him. Mostly, he just didn't feel like getting out of bed yet. His career was over and he had a potentially dying baby he'd never known about up on the next floor of the hospital. In his mind, there wasn't much point in leaving yet. Nothing was waiting for him at home.
When he did leave his bed, Hawks went upstairs to visit Yuto in his incubator. He was hooked up to so many tubes and machines it was crazy. His eyes were always closed when he came up, as if he were sleeping (or dead), and wouldn't even blink them open when the nurses helped him out of there for Hawks to hold.
Skin contact was good for newborns, especially preemies, the nurses cheerily told him. It helped them thrive. If he wanted to take off his shirt and hold him against his chest for more contact, he could. They would help him. Hawks had initially thought they were odd fangirls looking to get a peak and touch of his chest, but no; they were serious. Huh. He settled for keeping his shirt on and simply rubbing his fingers over every inch of Yuto the tubes would allow. If it helped Yuto at all or made him feel better, he gave Hawks no signal of such.
"Are you sure his chances of living are better than dying?" he asked one time. "He doesn't look so good to me."
"Actually, he's doing well for what we expected," one of the nurses, an elderly one who was the head of this ward to his knowledge, replied. "He'll still need to be here for quite some time, but his body has reacted more or less positively to every treatment. I believe he'll come out of this safely and healthy."
More or less, huh. That didn't sound like he'd 'come out of this safely and healthy' to Hawks. But hey, she was the expert here, not him.
"He's extra frail, though, ain't he?" Hawks asked. He waved a hand. "Not just because he's premature; his body is, like, weaker than average, isn't it?"
She nodded. "Yes. Which is why it's wonderful he's taking to the treatments so well. We thought he'd have a tougher time adjusting and were prepared to administer heavier measures. Luckily, he's doing just fine."
That was good, Hawks supposed.
"He might be frail," the nurse added admiringly, "but he's a little fighter. He must get it from his heroic father."
Hawks hummed noncommittedly. Not so heroic anymore without his quirk. He might as well go back to being Takami Keigo for as much he could fight for the world now.
The name would go well with frail, little Takami Yuto's.
The truth was Hawks didn't know what to do with his son yet. He was kind of just...there. Upstairs on the next floor, laying in an incubator. Hawks didn't think it had sunk in for him yet that this was his child, that Yuto belonged to him. He asked himself if he loved him, and all he could say was...there was something inside of Hawks when he thought of the baby, yeah, but he couldn't say for sure it was love. Might have simply been responsibility. Even if it hadn't sunk in yet, Yuto was still his to take care of.
Maybe it was a blessing in disguise Yuto would be in the hospital for his first couple months of life. Hawks had just turned twenty-three not that relatively long ago. He knew nothing about kids, other than to smile big at them and that they liked to play. The most he knew about babies was what to do when rescuing one from a number of situations. Not how to raise one. He had never really conclusively thought about if he wanted kids of his own someday. He'd decided it wasn't worth thinking about unless a serious partner came along, which wasn't likely to happen with his intense focus on his job. (Dabi was not a serious partner. He was a villain-turned-boyfriend whose Hawks' exact feelings for were murky right now.) As long as Yuto was on track to survive, he could take this time to learn what the hell he was going to do.
It wasn't like Hawks had great examples of parenting in his life to reflect on. His father had been a neglectful thief who got himself arrested by Endeavor and his mother had been a neglectful addict who was more than happy to sign away her parental rights when Hawks asked her to let him become a hero. He hadn't seen either of them since he was seven. As for the Commission, well, they had kept him physically healthy and gave him access to therapy growing up, but he wouldn't call people whose first priority was child soldiers parents, much less a good example of parenting to look back on.
Now would probably be the best time to buy some parenting books. And diapers. And a crib. He was going to have to babyproof his whole apartment. Wait, what size clothes would Yuto be when he got out of the hospital? What if Hawks bought the wrong sized diapers for him? No point in stocking up what he couldn't use.
He sighed to himself, reaching behind to scratch where his wings used to be. At least parenting would give him something to do in his newfound free time. When Yuto got out of the hospital, Hawks bet he'd be too busy and too close to falling dead asleep every day to mourn the loss of his wings and career anymore. Until then...
He threw himself back on his pillow with a groan. Parenthood was not what he wanted. He wanted to save people. He wanted to keep them safe - everyone the villains would harm, everyone the Commission was willing to sacrifice. He still had nightmares about Best Jeanist. The world needed him. He was supposed to get his lazy days out of a lack of crime, not because Dabi had burned away his wing joints. Yuto wasn't a replacement for all that. He didn't make up for it.
Hawks turned on his side on the bed, curling muscles that wouldn't move the wings that were no longer there to get in his way.
Maybe it would better to give Yuto up for adoption instead. He had no idea how to be a parent, couldn't say for sure he loved his kid, and didn't want to turn on him as a scapegoat for all of Hawks' resentment for this situation. Yuto wasn't to blame for anything that went on. He didn't want to turn into his own parents.
He didn't know. He'd think about it. See if he lived first.
Hawks hoped he'd live. He was just a baby, totally innocent. He didn't know if he loved his son, but he definitely wanted him safe. He ought to have a normal life. He ought to be able to fly. He ought to have parents who weren't wrapped up on opposite sides of a war and out to kill each other in the end. It wasn't fair to him to be born into this and then die.
Hawks really didn't know what to do.
On the day Hawks finally allowed himself to be discharged, a week after he was first admitted, Endeavor suddenly barged into his room, flames alight on his face.
"YOU ARE A LIAR!" he howled.
Hawks, who had just finished changing into his jeans, T-shirt, and jacket, and was still holding his hospital garb, tilted his head. Well, Endeavor wasn't wrong. "About what?"
"Touya!" he spat. "You are a liar! My son is dead!"
Hawks cooled his expression into a neutral one. Ah. "That was the name Dabi gave me. The Commission has the recorder."
Endeavor swept his arm out. "I don't care about the Commission or your recorder! My son is not alive! He is not a villain!"
Dabi had begged to differ.
Hawks kept his face carefully neutral. "Then we'll find out soon enough. Or, rather, you will; I'm off-duty from now on. So you don't have to worry about me poking into your personal life again."
Endeavor growled. "He lied to you! He isn't my son! Touya died over ten years ago!"
It slowly dawned on Hawks what was happening. Ahh. Someone had just now informed Endeavor of what happened, of who Dabi was, and he'd raced to the hospital to tell the original messenger off in a fit of denial.
Aren't you such the carrier pigeon? he heard Dabi's voice sneer in his head. He could hear the smirk in it.
Not anymore, he answered back. "I'm sorry for your loss either way, Endeavor. Regardless of who Dabi is, losing a child is hard." I might know what it's like soon. "I can't imagine how devastating this news is, whether he was lying to me or not. It's salt in the wound."
Endeavor snarled. "Don't you tell me what's difficult! Touya is - He's - ! He was my - !" His arms shook with what was either fury or grief. Probably both. "YOU ARE A DAMN LIAR!"
I want to go visit my son before I leave. Your grandchild. Dabi's not coming back to either of us. He wants to kill us. Especially you.
Hawks opened his mouth in an attempt to defuse the situation before it got worse.
Endeavor beat him to the punch. "SAVE IT! I don't want to hear more of your lies! Touya - Touya couldn't even be a hero! His body was too weak! That's what got him killed, that's how I damn near killed him myself! He was a human match stick and I made him light the fuse! It's my fault! If he somehow survived, he - he can't be a villain, he couldn't even be a hero!"
Hawks listened to his confession with a slowly nodding head. Okay, that gave him a better idea of why Dabi hated his father and heroes so much. Endeavor pushed him too hard and he got hurt, all in the name of becoming a hero. Interesting. Endeavor would have to tell the Hero Commission that, because Hawks had no inclination to. He was sure the number one would, if he hadn't already.
"Look, I'm sorry," he told him. "Dabi never told me about his family or why he became a vil- "
"NO MORE LIES!" Endeavor shouted. "You were a double agent! You were working with him this whole time! You never knew Touya, but you knew Dabi! Tell me he's not him!"
Hawks lifted his chin. Now Endeavor was just being irrational.
Endeavor waited. When Hawks didn't answer, he appeared to deflate.
"He's not Touya," he insisted, though it sounded more like begging. "My son - if he wanted to hurt me, fine, but Touya loved his mother. He loved his siblings. Dabi attacked Shoto at the training camp! Touya wouldn't do that!"
"From what I gathered," Hawks started slowly, "he shot fire at a group of students. Shoto was simply part of that group, not the target, and got out unscathed. Dabi didn't hurt him otherwise."
"He's my son," Endeavor sounded dangerously close to crying, which unnerved Hawks. "He could never do the things Dabi's done. He was too fragile, body and heart."
Hawks shrugged. Dabi's heart had never seemed fragile to him. But he thought he might have seen slivers of what Endeavor meant when they were alone. When Yuto was being conceived and Dabi showed some ability to open up and be vulnerable. He didn't think it mattered, though. At the end of the day, Dabi was a brutal sociopath who only had sympathy for himself. Twice's death only bothered him, broke his heart, because it put a huge dent in his plans. He hadn't cared for the person himself.
"I don't know what you want me to tell you. It'll just be another lie," Hawks told him flatly. "I'm sorry, Endeavor. That's all I can say. This is painful for you and I don't want to make it worse."
Endeavor's flames wavered. His shoulders slumped. With one last half-hearted snarl, he turned on his heel for the doorway.
Except Hawks couldn't help himself. "You said Touya's body was fragile - was he born that way?"
Endeavor paused. He threw a curious scowl over his shoulder. "What?"
"It's something Dabi said once." Now Hawks was being manipulative. "It's nothing important. I think he said something about being weak at birth is all."
Endeavor's eyebrows furrowed, as if he were trying to silently analyze Hawks.
Eventually, he said, "Touya was healthy when he was born. He inherited his mother's weak constitution is it. My wife is...not a sickly woman, but not a strong one either." His face slipped some. "Touya's body was easy to tax out. ...What did he say exactly, Hawks?"
"Ah, I was trying to get some background information about him," Hawks lied with a small smile. "I told him my birthday, favorite childhood memories, how my parents were shit, and all he made was a scoffing remark about...something or other being weak when he was born. That's it."
It almost made Hawks feel bad, the look of guilt that crossed Endeavor's face upon hearing that. His lie had fit too well, it appeared.
Endeavor marched out without further word.
Hawks plopped down on the bed, tossing the hospital garb aside. Well, Yuto, now I know where you got your frailty. Suspected as much since it's not from my side, but wasn't really expecting it.
Dabi was weak to the affect of his quirk and therefore careful about it, careful about getting into fights in general, but Hawks wouldn't have called him frail. He had the scars on his face, left side, and back to prove it.
"I'm going home today, baby bird," Hawks let Yuto know, the phrase 'baby bird' awkward on his lips. "Don't worry, I'll come back to see you. My apartment's pretty boring, so I won't have much else to do."
Yuto gave no sign he heard Hawks. He was cradled to his clothed chest in both palms, the tubes and wires spilling down Hawks' hands. His eyes remained closed, scrunched shut actually, the little, black markings wrinkled in his uncomfortable expression. One of the tubes was taped inside his tiny nostril, yet he sucked in breaths through his mouth like it was hard to breathe. His skin hadn't improved at all over his first week of life, and he was still completely bald. His wing bones looked as though the tiniest poke would snap them. If he did hear him, Hawks doubted it mattered much more to him than the pain he was surely in.
His heart ached at the sight.
"The doctors and nurses will take good care of you, just as they have been all week," he assured him.
Yuto didn't cry, whine, or twitch in reponse.
Hawks rubbed his thumb and index finger down one of his legs. "I bet you won't even know I'm gone."
The only sign he had that Yuto hadn't died in his hands at some unknown point was the hard breaths the newborn sucked in.
A flood of hate rushed through Hawks' body. Yuto had needed more time in the womb. He didn't know if he was more angry with himself for not knowing he was pregnant and unwittingly carrying his son into battle or Dabi for kicking him around and burning him enough to send him into premature labor.
Dabi hadn't known either. He couldn't have, not if Hawks hadn't known. If he had, would things have ended differently?
In the middle of a bleak alleyway, Dabi sauntered too close and pushed a loose lock of windswept hair back on Hawks' head. "You know, you're a pretty bird."
On top of a four story building's roof at half past midnight, Dabi lay nonchalantly on the concrete, smirking up at Hawks' hunched over form. "Gonna kiss me? Go on, I know you've been wanting to for a good while. I have been, too."
Dabi's black hair tickled Hawk's naked chest on the bed of a remote motel. "I haven't loved anyone in a long time. Don't fuck this up for me."
In the scorched mansion, Dabi's eyes were blown wide with smug glee. "I never believed anything from the start."
The grin Dabi wore was manic and murderous. He pressed his boot down harder on Hawks. "I don't care whether you live or die. Your life is another thing that doesn't matter to me. See ya, Hawks."
Hawks frowned deeply. No. No, he didn't think so. Although he had assured Endeavor Dabi likely wasn't interested in hurting Shoto, the truth was Hawks had no idea where he stood in regards to his family, aside from his father. Dabi had told Hawks in strict confidence that he loved him only to turn around and reveal he'd known Hawks was a spy all along and it was just a game. Dabi played with lives as if they were toys to be waved around and tossed away at will. When he burned the last of Hawks' wings in revenge for Twice's life, it hadn't been the man he was mourning, only the role Dabi had set for him in his plans. What would an unborn baby have meant to him?
He can never find out about you, Hawks thought, rubbing light circles against Yuto's stomach.
That was another reason he ought to give his son up. Frankly, it was likely the League would target Hawks for his betrayal. He had spied on them undercover and killed Twice. He could imagine Toga taking extra joy in slicing up his throat. Yuto would be in extra danger living with him. Hell, even if he gave him up, all the League had to do was find out that he existed and Hawks cared about him for them to kill him. He couldn't imagine appealing to Dabi that Yuto was his son as well would spare him. Hawks could only see Dabi grinning at his desperation and lighting up his hand.
It was another thing to think about on top of everything else.
Hawks looked down at Yuto. Just being alive was a struggle for him right now. He didn't want his son to get hurt. He didn't want him to die because of his father's actions. It wasn't fair to him. It wasn't right.
Maybe they could move. The Winged Hero Hawks was no more, so they could change their names and move far, far away. They could leave Japan. They could go to the other side of the world. They could hide in the most remote location they could find. Whatever got them as far from the League and Dabi as possible, until it was safe to return. As long as Yuto was safe and Hawks could keep him that way, he'd be happy to go.
- and Hawks could keep him that way, he'd be happy to go.
Huh. Perhaps he did love Yuto after all; it wasn't simply responsibility.
Whatever the case, Hawks still had a lot of thinking to do. His life was going to be so different from now on. He'd never been without his wings for more than a handful of days before. He'd never been jobless. He'd never been a father. He had a lot of decisions to make and learning to do. It wasn't going to be easy on him, he knew that. It was going to rough. But whatever happened, he was willing to give it a shot. It wasn't like he had anything else left to him now.
You poor thing, Dabi crooned his in head. Hey, at least remember the kid ain't guaranteed to make it. He might never leave this hospital. Who are you, to lose everything you had, and go looking towards a future with MY dying kid? You enjoy setting yourself up for heartbreak, don't you, birdie?
Hawk scowled at the internal mockery.
"You'll live," he told Yuto defiantly. "I know you will. The nurse was right, you are a little fighter. You get that from me. Don't give up yet, baby bird."
Isn't that adorable. If he's anything like ME, I'm sure he won't, Dabi laughed.
Hawks bit his lip.
He signaled to a nurse to come put Yuto back in his incubator, and once she was gone, kneeled down and pressed a finger on the glass. Yuto was as unresponsive as ever.
"We'll be okay," he murmured. "I promise."
When Hawks got home that afternoon, there was no one waiting for him.
No friends, no family, no welcome home from the hospital surprise party.
Only dust on the furniture, a bucket of week old, left over chicken that should have been thrown out six days ago in the fridge, and a balcony that stung to look at right off his living room.
He closed the door with a sigh and hand through his hair, and slumped to the floor.
He had never felt so empty.