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The somber atmosphere surrounding Central is more than a little depressing. If Hawks could assign a color to it, he’d give it the muddiest shade of grey imaginable, like dried dirt on boots and cement walls.

Not that there’s anything fun about a hospital – but it’s different, this time. The heroes won, but they didn’t, and everyone feels who and what they lost along the way.

“Should you be walking?” Jeanist asks.

“Should you?” Hawks shoots back, but the lightness of his tone is destroyed by the broken chords in his throat. Jeanist only shrugs, and chooses to walk the hall with him. He doesn’t do something as embarrassing as trying to help – but he ensures that Hawks doesn’t get a mouthful of travertine either.

After a week of all-nighters for Central’s hospital staff, the halls are finally quiet. Besides a baby’s cry or a mother’s soft sobbing, the painful wails of fallen heroes have come to an end. Yeah, super cheerful, Hawks knows.

The breathing machine is loud. It sucks in air and decompresses on a timer, and it sounds lurid in the sterile hall. He can’t make small talk, and that might be the worst part of it.

Jeanist is back in his hero uniform; however, Hawks knows he isn’t in top shape either. No hero came out of the war unscathed. It’s just reality, and at this point, Hawks is happy to be alive.

He doesn’t say where he’s going, but Jeanist gets the idea after they pass a multitude of doors.

“I’ll wait outside,” Jeanist says.

Hawks pulls down the mask, and hurts to say, “Don’t need to.”

Jeanist doesn’t reply — only gazes at him flatly over the top of his denim — so Hawks sighs through his nose and readjusts the mask. The ventilator inhales, exhales, and Hawks waits through another cycle before he’s brave enough to shoulder open the door.

There are two entries; an outside, and an inner doorway with security. It’s similar to Hawks’ room. They call it the VIP suite, but we all know what it really is. A safe place to protect one of Japan’s few and valuable, yet broken defenses.

Hawks waves to the men in suits, and they let him pass.

Ksshhhhhh, breathes the machine. Wooooooshhhhh.

The door handle is squeaky. Hawks shudders out another breath, and wishes he could smile for something. Anything at all.

Enji is awake, which is more than Hawks could’ve hoped for; and yet, the sight of him still drops a stone in his stomach. Jesus Christ, at this point their number one is more life-support than he is man; a mess of tubes and wires and so many needles, it almost hurts to look at him.

Enji is wrapped up like everyone else in this joint (poor Central could barely stock enough bandaids), and he’s staring straight at the wall, without a single emotion expressed on his face. He looks tired, not even a day out of surgery. Hawks should’ve waited, but he couldn’t. He’s tired of waiting.

Hawks shuts the door, and Enji turns his head to look at him. Damn, it is excruciatingly quiet in this room.

How’s that new lung treating you? Hawks would say. Nice room you’ve got. Wow, look at all these flowers – still got a few fans, huh? I love the haircut.

But it’s hard to talk, and Hawks feels frozen to the floor as Enji looks through him.

“Hey,” Hawks croaks.  

It’s like talking at a wall. But the longer he stares, the more he sees cracks in the stone. Enji’s throat bobs once. His blue eyes drop down and up, and then suddenly squint in pain.

“God, what did he do to you?” Enji rasps.

The strain in his tone hurts more than anything. More than the wires up his nose and the burns healing down his spine. Hawks lets the machine breath for him, and narrows his eyes in the worst excuse of a smile.

Hawks’ hands are cold, and they fumble to grab his phone. He types out a response, albeit a little clumsily.

‘Nothing too permanent’.

The text-to-speech sounds all wrong. It doesn’t relay his usual light-hearted tone.

Enji doesn’t flinch, but his eyes wince, and Hawks can see him struggling to stay awake.

“I…went looking for you…”

‘I know, big guy.’ Hawks shouldn’t approach the bed, but he does. Should not, should not – that’s all this world has ever been, and Hawks is tired of bird cages. He grips the bedrail with one hand, and types with the other, ‘You won.’

“I didn’t,” Enji says immediately. He swallows, fighting sleep again. Hawks can tell they’re pumping him with drugs, especially from the way he openly admits, “I failed you.”

Fuck this.

Hawks rips down the mask. Enji’s eyes widen, his hand lifting to stop him, but Hawks grips his wrist instead.

“Sleep,” he grits. “I’ll come back.”

Enji doesn’t rip his hand away. Hawks isn’t sure if he has the motor skills to.

“You should – you should go, while you’re free.”

Hawks knows what he means. He smiles through the bandages, and tucks Enji’s hand back into the shitty hospital sheet.

“Not yet.” 

 

~

 

 

When Hawks exits the room, he hits play on his phone.

‘Can you drive me to my mom’s place?’

Jeanist is already digging into his denim pockets, sliding a key fob around his forefinger.

“You got it, buddy.”

 

~

 

Yeah, the country is on fire, but it could be worse.

Considering what plans Shigaraki fully intended on enacting, uh yeah, this is the better outcome. Funerals are hourly and there’s barely enough pop-up tents to house all the homeless, but international aid got here two days ago, and despite this hell, Hawks tries to hope.

Shit gets busy. He’s got too many doctors to see, too many therapists (horseshit), and a whole PR disaster that Dabi left behind. The world knows his name, and nobody trusts in the heroes anymore, and Hawks’ back still isn’t wide enough to give them peace.

But for now, he’ll do what he can.

“Not leaving yet, huh?”

Hawks sees a familiar face at the door of his doctor’s office. Rumi already looks a hell of a lot better than she did two weeks ago, and she waves her stubby arm at him as she approaches. It’s nice to see her back in shape; all tan muscle to contrast the softness of her bunny ears.

‘Not just yet,’ Hawks types.

“Damn. Still breathing through a tube?”

‘I’m not supposed to talk for another week,’ Hawks rolls his eyes. ‘It’s annoying as fu-ook.’

They both smile as the AI curses strangely. Rumi pats him on the shoulder and peeks a look at his wingless back.

“With the commission dissolved, I thought you might be on the first boat out of here.”

Hawks looks down, and up. His back aches, and his wings still haven’t healed enough to begin regrowing yet, and he wants so badly to reach under those stupid bandages and scratch – but his doctor has six eyes and an eagle’s intuition, so Hawks resists.

Rumi waits for him to type, then for the phone to read aloud. The waiting room is empty, so Hawks can speak honestly.

‘I thought about it. But it’s not who I am.’

Rumi grins at him ear to ear, and punches him so it stings.

“That’s my guy. Right now, we need more of you.” The humor in her eyes dims for a moment, and she bites her lower lip. “I hope you haven’t seen what they’re saying about the big guy.”

Hawks nods a reluctant yes. He continues to text,

‘I’m going to do something about it.’

Rumi raises her eyebrows.

“Can you?”

 

He will.

 

~

 

When Hawks finally gets the time to taxi back to Central hospital, Enji is already well enough to sit up in bed. He looks like all hell, but he’s still breathing. Hey, a bonus is a bonus.

The bruising looks to be at its worst; under his eyes, circling his throat, and beneath the open top of his hospital robe. His hands are still bandaged, but his hair has grown in, and he looks more awake than the last time Hawks saw him. Still doped up like the rest of ‘em, but significantly more cognizant.  

“You did this,” Enji grunts, gesturing to the old box TV mounted on the wall. Hawks glances up at the TV, then back to Enji on the bed. He shrugs once.

The News is on mute, but the closed captions say Winged Hero gives Fallen-From-Grace Number One his official endorsement.

“Why would you do this?” Enji asks. It feels good to hear his natural (pissy) voice again, deep and gritty and home. Hawks closes his eyes briefly, and soaks it in before he sits at one of the guest chairs. “Hawks. You know who Touya is. You know what he said about me. What I’ve done.”

“It’s not who you are now,” Hawks croaks, and Enji meets his eyes. Hawks clears his throat, presses a hand to it ‘cause it fucking hurts, and winces to say, “He’s t-trying to manipulate the. The public. Cause panic.”

“Talk through your phone,” Enji scolds.

Hawks huffs, and rocks off a hip to drag out his phone. The screen got shattered in his fight with Dabi, and he can’t find the time to fix it yet.

‘You’re giving up already?’ his phone reads.

“No,” Enji frowns. He struggles with the strength to squeeze his fingers into a fist. Hawks wonders if it’s the drugs, the broken bones, or the brain injury. “I’ve never been particularly concerned about popularity contests. I’m furious over those cowards shutting down their agencies from a little media heat. I’ve seen fire before, I’ll see it again.” He fights a cough. That transplant lung is giving him a run for his money – but it doesn’t sound pitiful, or sick. Just frustrated. “Everyone is lost. They need direction, even if they don’t like me.”

It’s hard to fight a smile. Hawks feels it crack along his face, pulling tight at the fresh bandages wrapped around his skull, and Enji looks at him bizarrely when he laughs without sound, and shakes his head.

I’m relieved, he wants to say. You’re still cool.

Hawks spins his phone around his fingers, elbows propped on his spread knees, and studies Enji a moment longer before typing.

‘When you’re ready to fight, I’ll be there.’

Enji looks away. Back to the TV, where it shows Hawks speaking in his robotic voice about hope and peace and the strength of their Number One.

Hawks yearns for his attention again. But it’s like Enji can hardly bear to look at him. Hawks knows he isn’t the prettiest right now – but it still stings. He types again.

‘How long are you in here for?’

“At least another three weeks,” Enji says, and doesn’t sound happy about it in the least. “They want to operate on my hands again, but they have to wait for the lung to take.”

It hurts to hear, but everything hurts already. Hawks nods once, and types over the split cracks in his screen.

‘I’ll come back.’

“Don’t bother.”

‘But you’ll miss me,’ the phone reads, in a broken deadpan. ‘Can’t have that’.

Enji gives him a look, and Hawks rises from the chair with the best smile he can manage. Enji is staring at him like he’s missing something, and he is. Hawks feels the absence of his wings every waking second, every time he rolls over at night, each time he breathes.

“You don’t owe us anything,” Enji says finally. “You paid your dues.”

‘Why does everyone think I’m quitting?’ Hawks grins, and pulls at the bandages to croak, “I’m not done until us h-heroes can take it easy. That includes you, big guy.”

He shuts the door behind him, places a hand over his rapidly beating heart, and then nods himself straight. 

 

~

 

Some people hate him. Some people still like him. To Hawks, the polls doesn’t matter anymore. What matters is citizens on the streets; the hungry and the hurt and those still lost in the rubble.

Hawks is forbidden from working, but the foreigners are doing their best, even if they can’t speak a lick of Japanese.

He attends Midnight's funeral. He walks the lines of flowers sent by loved ones, and he stops when he reads the Todoroki name. 

They’re roses; black and white and red. Hawks is tempted to take one, but he doesn’t.

 

~

 

It’s been a month since his surgery.

Hawks tries not to look too closely in the mirror, because there are some things not worth thinking about. He’s a walking medical cocktail, but it’s better to be numb than screaming his guts out in the shower.

He doesn’t like taking off the compresses. There’s skin on him that isn’t his own – chicken wire patterns, puffy and patchy and alien to his body.

 

No. It’s not worth thinking about.

 

 

~

 

Enji is asleep when Hawks visits next. The flowers in the windowsill have been replaced, and a few open cards reside at his side table. It’s pin silent, nothing but a heart monitor and the hum of the air conditioning.

It smells sterile and clean like it always does, yet, the flowers help to liven the place. Hawks knows he should turn around and walk straight out the door, but he does not.

Carefully, he clicks the door shut.

Enji doesn’t snore. He’s actually soundless, prone in the bed, inhaling and exhaling at an even pace. It’s nice not to see him cough.

Hawks keeps his footsteps light on the floor. He avoids squeaking his sneakers, and is weak to resist getting a closer look. Enji looks uncharacteristically peaceful. His eyelashes are long, and Hawks wonders about the texture of his scar. If it’ll feel the same as the new ones Hawks has.

Curiously, Hawks pushes a card open with his finger. It’s a standard get-well note, nothing surprising there — but it’s the signatures that catch him off guard.

“Quit snooping.”

Hawks doesn’t startle. He smiles and flips the card shut slowly.

“Who, me?”

Enji raises his eyebrows at the improved tone of his voice.

“Why are you back?”

“No particular reason. Got a visit from the family, huh?”

“We are working through a few things,” Enji replies evenly. He gives Hawks a strange look, and struggles to shift upwards. “Should you be speaking?”

“I was given the okay,” Hawks thumbs up. “So long as I don’t go yodeling off a rooftop.”

“Hm. Do try to resist.”

Hawks laughs, even if it’s a little painful. He drags out a chair, and Enji’s eyes track him suspiciously.

“I heard you’ve been kicking some asses into shape.”

“I made a few calls,” Enji corrects. “I don’t care if half the city is in disarray. Able heroes have a job to do. Those merely concerned with the commission’s paycheck might as well have quit years ago.”

Hawks hums, and presses his fingers together between his knees. Enji flexes his arm in the bandages, and Hawks has to push away the intrusive desire to take his hand.

“I’ve been out on the field. It’s a mess, but they’re making do. I don’t think the government is going to cut the hero program just yet. They need us.”

Enji mutters something under his breath, and huffs white steam through his nose. Hawks always liked the way he expressed himself through his quirk. It must be tough not to use his fire in here.

“I need to leave this place.”

“Surgery is tomorrow, huh?”

“How do you know that?”

“You know,” Hawks waves his hand. His throat gets a scratch, and he coughs. “The grape vine.”

Enji squints at him. Hawks doesn’t need the ventilator anymore, but he still wears body compresses for the burns. His hair was buzzed for surgery, and it’s shorter now. He wears jewelry to try and feel a semblance of normalcy. 

“Your wings…” Enji starts, then pauses. He swallows, hardens his expression, and tries again. “Are they…”

“They’ll come back,” Hawks assures, and Enji appears to relax. It makes his heart flip circles, and he feels bad for it. “Dabi got me pretty bad. The skin has to heal first, but the docs say I’ll fly again.”

Enji looks away. His jaw is tight, and he grinds his teeth together. It sucks to see him here. It sucks to be on the other side of a hospital bed again, watching their greatest hero struggle to live up to the man before him. He’s killing himself, and Hawks is so terrible as to admire him for it.

“You didn’t give me an answer.”

Hawks tips his head. He can feel a phantom twitch in his back, where he would tug his wings tight against him. Nothing but air, for now.

“Huh?”

“Why are you here?”

Hawks bites his lip. He taps his fingertips, and swallows a few times to coat the dryness in his throat. The flowers sit pretty in the windowsill. It’s good for Hawks to remember his place.

“Because I need to be.”

Enji looks at him, finally.

He loves it. Even if it’s shitty, even if it makes Hawks a bad person – he breathes off of the attention. Enji’s eyes are icy, a contrast to the fire in his skin, and it gives him life. Like attracting the interest of a particularly rare predator.

As dangerous as he is, something in Enji appears to chip away. Be it the morphine, the exhaustion (no one sleeps in hospitals, but the dead), or all the trauma they’ve been through. Enji’s voice rasps at near desperation, a horrid exhaustion that makes him want to steal Enji right from this bed.

“Why don’t you hate me?”

The question hangs in the air. Hawks can hear his own heart in his ears, loud and sudden.

Slowly, Hawks reaches into his puffy coat pocket. He pulls out the old plushie hidden in there, and sets it on Enji’s side table, next to the get-well cards from his family.

“This.”

Enji looks lost. In hindsight, it’s kind of funny.

“What is that?”

“Mine,” Hawks answers. He looks at the doll, in all its worn familiarity. The seams are fraying and the colors are faded and it’s been washed so many times that it’s matted to hell, but the toy is still comforting all the same. “This is the only thing in my life that’s ever really been mine.”

Enji takes in the small Endeavor plushie. His expression is unreadable, and his hands twitch on the bedrest, like he wants to move, but chooses not to.

“I had to learn through my own son…” Enji starts, and then scowls. “I didn’t know I arrested your father.”

“You saved me,” Hawks corrects. “Endeavor was my hero. Fuck, is still my hero now. I killed Twice for the commission, but given a few more years, I don’t know who my parents would’ve made me kill. I really don’t know, man.”

Enji frowns.

“Then the truth should disgust you.”

“That you were a shit dad?” Hawks laughs, then coughs. “No. ‘Cause you’re different now, and none of us are free of sin. I’m a ledger as red as time.”

Enji leans his hand over the bedrail, and Hawks feels his heart skip a dozen beats. Someone as strong and immovable as Enji shouldn’t be in so much pain. It almost feels wrong to see him struggle – but Hawks is frozen to the chair as Enji grabs that old, beloved plushie, and turns it over in his hands.

He’s handsome, in his weakness. Noble, like a soldier that refuses to show pain.

“Shouto says he has to be the one to stop Touya,” Enji says slowly. “That burden should never fall on his shoulders. But if I ever saw him again…” The tightness in his throat is too much. Enji clears it, and starts again with a colder expression. “I couldn’t do it.”

In all their lunch-meetings, in all the times they sat together in debriefs, the fights they shared, the drinks they had – Enji never opened up about his family. Hawks always knew something was wrong at home. But now his supposedly dead son is a psychotic serial killer determined to destroy everything Enji cares for – and maybe that’s Enji’s breaking point. The big tough lion that’s willing to show its belly to someone. Anyone. Hawks.  

He’s touched, and he’s sad, and a sick part of himself is so, so happy.

“That doesn’t make you weak,” Hawks tells. “It makes you human.”

Enji doesn’t reply, and Hawks doesn’t push him to. He sits in the chair long enough for his hands to get cold, and he blows into them a few times to get the circulation back. It’s nothing but sharing the same space. Nothing but keeping someone company; a man that probably doesn’t even want it in the first place.

He doesn’t fuss, doesn’t clean, doesn’t ask if Enji needs help. He just sets the chair back where it was, and rights the Endeavor plushie on the side table.

“You keep him,” says Hawks. “Right now, you need him more than I do.” Enji doesn’t reply to that either, but that’s enough for Hawks. He goes to slip out the door, but stops part way. “Oh, but don’t lose him. He still means a lot to me.”

Enji looks between Hawks, and the doll. He turns his head away, but does answer at last.

“Go, or I’ll throw it away.”

 

~

 

His mom’s house is large, empty, and paid off by the commission, so it’s a waste not to use it.

Most of the furniture is intact; like Mom grabbed a handful of belongings and just…left. He thinks that’s worse, somehow. Hawks doesn’t know where she has gone or what she’s doing now, and a sick part of himself isn’t ready to find out yet.

His worries are trivial in the grand scheme of things – but they’re his worries, nonetheless.

Hawks is free, and he doesn’t know how to fly.

 

~

 

Life moves on, because it has to. People go back to work, kids go back to school; a cog in the machine that has to keep on turning, else they prove Shigaraki right, in the end.

The League will be licking their wounds for a while – but so will the heroes. If Shigaraki came back tomorrow, they wouldn’t be ready, and that’s the worst part of it.

Hawks never had much time in his double-agent life for karaoke bars and team movie nights – but he finds himself missing the small things, anyways. Crack-ass-of-dawn meetings, ditzy highschool interns scuttling with coffee, free donuts on the committee kitchen counter.

Is it bad to be homesick for your cage bars?

 

~

 

“Oh baby,” Hawks says, shutting the door with his foot. “They are not taking care of you.”

Enji’s recovery room is spotless like always, give or take a stack of papers on his bedside table, and new flowers in the windowsill. Of course, his eyes dart right for the little Endeavor plushie sitting next to his files, unmoved, and not thrown away. Ha.

The look he gets from Enji is incredibly unamused, and Hawks has a feeling that if his hands weren’t braced in casts, he’d flip him off.

“It’s not worth bothering the staff about,” Enji grunts, shifting downwards in bed. Distantly, Hawks wonders how he looks so handsome in black hospital robes.

Although…it’s a little hard not to laugh at the scruffiness of his beard.

“You look like a lumberjack.”  

“Tch. Why are you back?”

“Had physical therapy again,” Hawks jabs behind him, “at the B building. Figured I’d stop by and – Gods, I can’t get over that beard. I wish mine grew in like that.”

Enji scratches his cheek against his shoulder and puffs, “I am not particularly fond of it, but the casts don’t come off for another two days.” 

“Want me to run downstairs? I can grab a razor for you.”  

“No,” Enji delivers bluntly.

“Oh, come on, you don’t trust me?” Hawks rolls his shoulder, and feels the compresses tug and pull at his skin. “It looks itchy. Here, I’ll be right back, don’t move.”

“Hawks do not –

He doesn’t hear the rest of it. The elevator ride is short, and Hawks digs out some spare change for the cashier. Enji is right where he left him when he returns, and he looks red in the face. Oops.

“I can’t believe you’re doing this.”

“To be honest, I just can’t stand looking at you,” Hawks lies, with a grin. Enji squints at him, and Hawks pops open the plastic container on the small pack of razors. “Any cups in here?”

“No.”

Hawks turns on his heel, following Enji’s line of sight.

“Oh, the bathroom! Cool cool, thanks.”

Enji curses under his breath, and Hawks laughs genuinely. It’s the first in a while. He finds a mug sitting by the sink, so he fills it with water and clicks the cap on his newly bought shaving cream.

Hawks enters the room again, somewhat happy for a purpose to be here.

“Ready?”

However, Enji is looking at him oddly.

“Your wings,” he states, out of nowhere. Hawks blinks, and feels back to the nubs under his shirt.

“Oh.” Hawks blinks. “Yeah. They started poking out the other day. They’re not big enough to cut holes in my shirts yet, but it’s something.”

Enji continues to look at him, deep in thought. Hawks uses his silence to drop the bedrail, and shake his hand in a move over motion. To his delight, Enji shifts slightly to the left.

“I thought…” Enji trails.

“That I was lying to you?”

“That you were telling me what I want to hear.”

“I’m done lying,” Hawks says, setting the cup between his thighs. “Mostly.”

Enji raises his eyebrows, and Hawks tries to think of the last time he was this close to Enji. Maybe High-End, back when Endeavor was bleeding out in his arms. It’s a bittersweet thought.

“Does it hurt?”

What, regrowing his wings?

“All the time,” Hawks says easily. He shows the can of shaving cream. “Okay?”

Enji sighs in resignation, and briefly closes his eyes. Hawks takes that as the best confirmation he’ll get. He wills his hands steady, and dips the edge of a rag in the cup. When he looks back up, Enji is staring right at him.

Hawks hesitates. You know, a — did I really think this situation through – kind of thing. But when the water drips to the sheets, he jerks back to reality. He pats Enji’s jaw wet with the cloth, and then spreads shaving cream between his bare fingers.

“Didn’t want to bother the family?” Hawks offers. He tries to distract himself from how warm Enji is under his palm. His hair is coarse and scratchy, and Hawks has to physically force himself not to shiver.

“They haven’t been by,” says Enji. Hawks frowns, but he continues on, “The kids are back in school, and Fuyumi is teaching again.”

“Already? I thought Shouto was pretty banged up?”

“He made a quick recovery. No internal injuries.” Enji adds thank god, under his breath, and Hawks hums his agreement.

“I thought UA didn’t have enough staff to run the dorms right now?”

“They don’t. Rei is taking care of the kids.”

Whatever butterflies Hawks previously had are now gone. Shriveled up and clawing out his insides. Reality is a cruel thing.

Hawks keeps his tone light, and wipes his fingers on the damp rag. He makes his first shave down Enji’s cheek. The sound is sharp and prickly, and even in his own self-wallowing, he’ll remember this moment forever. He rinses the razor off in the mug.

“Oh, good. I’m glad your wife is doing better, at least.”

“Ex,” Enji says.

Hawks pauses, right before he goes for another swipe.

“Huh?”

Enji looks up to the ceiling, and Hawks shaves a careful line from cheek to neck.

“We divorced a year ago. You might as well know.”

Hawks already knows he’s going to hell. His stomach flips in a terrible way. A horrible, no good, very un-hero-like way.

“Oh,” Hawks breathes. He clears his throat, and tries to sit back a hair, so he’s not breathing in Enji’s face. “I’m sorry to hear that.”

“It was the right thing to do.”

Hawks nods. He shaves the next line, washes the razor and does another. Enji is so extremely warm, Hawks isn’t even touching him from where he sits, but he can still feel his body heat radiating like a campfire. It’s hard not to be affected by it — and Hawks has to use all his willpower not to get hard.

Enji is watching him now, and it’s making it worse.

Hawks dips the razor, taps it on the towel and shaves down his neck. Enji swallows, and the bob of his throat is borderline erotic. It’s hard to breathe, suddenly. Like his lungs have been burned again.

“Has anyone…” Enji starts, and stops again. He doesn’t continue.

Hawks shaves carefully above his top lip.

“If it’s the drugs talking, you don’t have to ask me.”

“It’s not.” Enji waits for him to dip the razor again, and then exhales. “Has there been word of Touya?”

The question aches. It hurts. That man burned him down to the bone, made him smell his own flesh melting down his spine and mutilated him forever. But he’s Enji’s first born. Hawks can sympathize with that.

“Nothing yet.” Hawks offers, “I’m sorry, Endeavor.”

“No.” Enji closes his eyes again, and Hawks hurts for him. He does. “I’m sorry.”

Hawks pulls the razor away right before it touches his left cheek.

“What for?”

“For what he did to you. What I created.”

Hawks clicks his tongue, and drags a less impatient swipe on Enji’s jaw.

“Dammit. How many times are we going to have this conversation?”

“Hawks. Seriously.”

“He made his choices,” Hawks grits. “And I’ve made mine. Life hands you cards, and you play your own fuckin’ game. Easy as that.”

Enji sighs. Hawks gets lost in cleaning the razor.

“I can’t figure out why you keep coming back.”

Hawks looks up. The air in the room feels tight, and unsteady. Like the world could fall out from under them at any moment. It’s a tightrope, and Hawks still can’t fly.

He offers a smile, and nods his head towards the Endeavor toy.

“I thought I was obvious.”

For a moment, Enji looks disappointed. Hawks is unsure. He’s still hard to read, after all these years.

“Hero worship.”

Hawks sighs from his nose. His throat is starting to itch, and his back aches from sitting in one position, and he knows his meds are wearing off, and he’s scared of the vulnerability, just as Enji probably is.

Hawks can’t say the full truth, but he won’t lie.

“No.” Hawks shaves the last spot left on his neck, and then clinks the razor in the cup. “We’re both going through a lot. I don’t think we should have to do it alone.”

Enji looks through him. Gods, Hawks would’ve given anything as a kid to sit this close to the great Endeavor. To see all the blue in his eyes.

Enji drops his voice, almost to a whisper, but his voice is so deep, Hawks isn’t sure if he can.

“You’re alone?”

It hurts. Hawks presses his lips together, and twists his fingers in the damp towel.

“You’re all I’ve ever had.”

Enji doesn’t respond. Hawks wipes the last dredges of shaving cream and loose hair from his face, and when he’s all clean, Hawks tries for a weak smile and says, “There you are.”

Enji raises one of his wrapped arms, but abandons the movement. He decides on,

“Thanks.”

Hawks gathers up his supplies and tries to lighten the mood,

“Can’t have you a mess for the reporters, I know they’re just dying to get in here.”

“A few have already snuck in.”

“No shit?”

“I’ve made my statement,” Enji says, shifting so his back pops, and something about that is sexy – ugh, stop. “The heroes aren’t done.”

Hawks attempts a smile. For a second, he considers taking off the compresses around his cheeks so he can smile freely, but decides against it.

“What’s the wait time?”

“A week of bedrest and another week of physical therapy.”

“Then I’ll be back,” Hawks says, and Enji doesn’t fight him on it. Hawks points to the toy sitting on his side table, “You keep that guy. He’s a good listener.”

Enji rolls his eyes, but doesn’t argue with that either. Hawks is tired of false hope – but he leaves the hospital in a shaky fit of adrenaline. He keeps the razor, because at his very core, he’s still a freak.  

 

~

 

Now that Hawks knows that the Todoroki family is too busy to visit, Hawks tries to stop by the hospital more often.

He reads Enji his paperwork for a couple days, and once Enji can use his hands again, Hawks sits and watches him read. Enji’s assistants stop by once in a while to give reports and say their hellos – and besides the occasional nurse, Enji’s room is rather quiet.

He doesn’t ask Hawks to leave, and he doesn’t ask why Hawks continues to stay.

 

~

 

“That was fast,” Enji mumbles.

It’s midday. The hospital windows are open, and Enji is sitting up in bed and scrolling through a report on his tablet. Now that he’s through with the surgeries, Enji has been seeing quirk healers every day, and it’s more than a relief to see Endeavor looking more like himself again.

“The takeout lady recognized me,” Hawks gives a peace sign. “Let me cut to the front of the line – which I totally do not condone, by the way. I would never take advantage of my celebrity status.”

“People still like you?” Enji asks flatly, and Hawks knows he means it in a genuine way, and it makes him laugh so hard it hurts. He ends up coughing, and Enji reaches over to stiffly snatch the takeout bag from his hands. “You know what, shut up.”

“No no, I was surprised too,” Hawks grins. “I think...there are understanding people out there. Not all, but some.”

Enji takes that in. He breaks his chopsticks and passes Hawks his takeout box, and Hawks drags his usual chair over by the ankle.   

“When do the bandages come off?”

Hawks freezes. Enji’s eyes laser right through him, and Hawks sits very slowly, taking care of his newly protruding wings.

“Um…” Technically, his burns have healed. He’s just not sure if he’s ready for Enji to see the damages, just yet. “Soon.”

Enji takes that answer at face value, and Hawks tries to enjoy what little company he can get.

Is it so terrible that he enjoys this? Is it so bad that Hawks looks forward to seeing Enji in a space where he can’t run away from him? That he’s happy they can coexist in the same room without worrying for housefires or pagers or villains bursting through their window?

Probably. But for now, in this moment, it’s someone else’s job.

“These reports are a disaster,” Enji grumbles. He flips through a manilla folder with one hand and eats noodles with the other. How he manages to make it look so graceful – Hawks has no clue. “People think it’s free reign out there just because we’re on house arrest.”

“Poor Jeanist has his hands full,” Hawks agrees. “They won’t let me have my hero license back until I’m proven fit for duty. Is it the same for you?”

“Unfortunately.”

“Did they give you a recovery estimate?”

“I’m surprised you don’t know it already.”

“Hey,” Hawks laughs hoarsely. “It’s not like I go around bullying your doctors.”

“Eighty percent,” Enji answers. “At the best. They say I’ll never be able to push my fire to what it was before.”

“You’ll burn out the lung,” Hawks frowns.

Enji scowls.

“So they say.”

Hawks hums, and pets over his bandaged chin.

“Well, it’s not like numbers have stopped you before. You didn’t choose the name Endeavor because you like to give up, now did you?”

“Who said anything about giving up,” Enji mumbles. “It’s only a matter of if we can stop Shigaraki when he pulls another stunt again.”

Hawks plays with the gold chain around his neck, twists it around his finger and stares at the familiar tiled floor in thought.

“He’s like a loaded gun,” Hawks frowns. “Pointed right at us. We never know when he’ll pull the trigger.”

“If push comes to shove, I’ll make eighty enough,” Enji grits, and it’s hard not to smile in the face of a pro, like this. “Ugh, I need my gym.”

“Just another week, good buddy,” Hawks kicks his feet up on the edge of Enji’s hospital bed and slides down in his chair, nosing into one of the reports Burnin’ dropped by. “You’re on the home stretch.”

“Knock it off,” Enji grunts, but doesn’t push his feet away. “What about you? What happened to your hero agency?”

Hawks’ mouth twitches into a frown, and he rubs over it with his sleeve.

“Tanked right with the commission. It wasn’t really mine, you know. Not my name on the papers.”

“Do you want it back?”

“I don’t think so,” Hawks strokes his chin. “Running an agency was never what I really wanted in the first place.”

Enji raises an eyebrow at him, and sets his half-cup of noodles aside.

“What did you want?”

To be right here, Hawks thinks. To work for you.

“Freedom, I guess,” Hawks mulls. “To choose who I bow to. Who I fight for.”

Enji studies him. It’s a gross feeling, only because it turns him on, and it’s wrong, no matter how much he can’t help it. He spent so many years wondering what it would be like to have Endeavor look at him, and even now, he’s still not used to it.

“You don’t have to stay.”

Here, in the hospital? In hero society? Or in Japan? No, he doesn’t.

“I said choose, ” Hawks grins. “Not that I never wanted to be on my knees.”

Enji’s eyes widen fractionally, then glare in fury, and it’s nice to see him flare up again, even if they get chewed out for tipping off the fire alarm.

 

~

 

When he returns to his mom’s old house, Hawks unwraps the bandages one by one.

He isn’t ashamed. It’s not like he’s hiding. It’s not like people haven’t seen him without the bandages already.

It’s just that…Enji shouldn’t know yet. Not when they’ve been – God, what have they been doing? Getting along? They did that before. Hawks thought he had it all, back when Enji would meet him for beef bowls and talk business over the phone. But Enji is looking at him now. Not like an annoying kid, not as a coworker or a hero. But like a person. Like a friend.

He’s unstable. Hawks knows he’s unstable – he knows pain, fuck so much of it, every fucking day – his back and his arms and his throat, they burn night and day, a nagging pain that haunts him like the nightmares he wakes up sweating in.

Hawks is alone in this house. No job, no parents, not even the commission to point him in the wrong direction. Half of his friends are dead. The other half are working through their own trauma. And here he is, taking advantage of his hero’s hospitalization to spend time with Todoroki Enji.

 

Hell, he thinks. I’m going to hell.

 

You are in love, the rest of him says. And you know it.

 

 

~

 

Enji will be leaving the hospital soon. He can move, twist and bend his hands like he could before, and the doctors are happy with the progress of his transplanted lung (or so Hawks has heard), and it’s all very good news.

Hawks’ wings have grown enough that he now has to cut holes in his shirts again. Enji will be sent home to rest and recover, and soon(ish) society will have their top two heroes back in the field. Hawks feels bittersweet about it.

He has  regained enough feathers to know that Enji is asleep before he even opens the door. Hawks can feel his steady breathing. Nothing but vibrations that disturb the air.

Hawks is so terrible as to enter, and close the door as quietly as he can. He brought takeout again (something that Enji does not complain about, seeing as hospital food isn’t unlike gutter slop) and he sets it on his usual chair.

It looks like Burnin’ brought more paperwork. Hawks can see two piles; one that Enji has sorted through, and a messier one behind it. That’s not what grabs his attention. 

With Enji’s body now in remission, Hawks isn’t used to seeing the newly acquired scars on his arms. The stitches from his surgery have been cut, and Hawks can now see the puffy red lines where they were stitched. His bruising is mostly gone; just a few splotches of brownish-purple under his sleeve hems. Hawks can see another surgery scar driving down between his pecs, and more under the cross of his robe. That scar is healed considerably more, but it’s still painful to look at.

The worst scars always lie under your skin. Hawks feels his own failures weighing on his shoulders.  

 

I should’ve been the one to bring Dabi to you.

 

Enji’s sleeping face is something he will never forget. His facial hair is back to its stubbly nature, prickly above his top lip and fading into the old scar that runs down the side of his face. Hawks wishes his own wounds looked as pretty as Enji’s does.

“Handsome,” Hawks mumbles. Enji doesn’t stir. Last he heard, Enji was pushing himself hard in physical therapy. He looks tired, just like everyone else these days.

 His heart squeezes, like a tight fist grabbing him around the chest.

This man is so different from the hero he idolized growing up. He wonders if it’s fucked up that he likes this Endeavor more than some fictional hero. Maybe it’s the daddy issues, maybe it’s the savior complex, maybe it’s none of that. He doesn’t care. 

Hawks sits on the corner of his bed, by Enji’s hip. The sheets rustle, and Hawks holds his breath to see if he’ll wake. Enji does not stir.

Against all common sense, Hawks reaches out to touch the top of the scar on his hand. Just one finger. He’s warm, and alive, and once upon a month ago, that’s all Hawks prayed for.

“They still say terrible things about you,” Hawks whispers. “I don’t want you to see it. I wish they would let you grieve in peace.” He lightly drags his forefinger up the scar, and along the vein on his hand. His arm is dusted in light red hair, and it’s still as strong and muscular as ever. “I spent so long in a cage. Now I want to keep you in one. Am I terrible?”

Enji’s heart monitor stays the same. Hawks flexes the few feathers he has. If he closes his eyes, he can feel the blood in Enji’s veins. The pumping of his heart, the expansion of his lungs.

In an awful impulse, Hawks leans forwards.

If everything goes back to normal tomorrow – if Enji regains his title as Number One and leads them into a new era of war – Hawks wants to at least keep this memory. He’ll gladly die with it.

Hawks presses his lips to the side of Enji’s temple. His skin is firm under his lips. He naturally inhales, and Enji smells so good. Deep and masculine and real.

Hawks kisses him only the once; but as he leans back, Enji’s hand darts out to grab the back of his neck. Hawks squeaks in surprise as Enji’s eyes fly open.

His body spikes with adrenaline, and Hawks freezes in horror. Enji looks just as shocked. His hand burns through the bandages on his neck – it hurts, but it doesn’t – and Hawks shakes with too many emotions.

He might really die.

“I.” Hawks breathes. “I’m so sorry.”

Enji’s expression is entirely unreadable. He stares forwards in a silent shock, inches away from his face, puffing breath that might be hot enough to steam. Hawks feels like the world is ending, and he can’t even run.

It’s over.

But it’s not. Enji gets his fingers between the bandages on his neck; and when Hawks feels skin on skin, he shivers violently.

Enji hauls him in. Yanks hard with the regained strength in his hands and directs Hawks right to his open mouth. Hawks gasps into him, his short feathers rising straight off his back, tugging at scar tissue in a way that he can’t even register as painful. It’s just numb, now.

Enji’s hand is so big, he can cup half of his face in his palm. Hawks tugs some of the bandages out of the way so he can kiss him better, and Enji does. He is actively, physically, for-fucking-real kissing Hawks like he’s sixteen and under the school bleachers. His mouth is hot, steady and methodical, and Hawks now mourns the damn bandages, mourns the loss of Enji’s facial hair rubbing against his own.

Hawks doesn’t know what kind of sound he makes. It’s a pathetic one, weak and rushed through his nose. He braces his hand on the bed railing and tips his head to fix the angle, and his stomach rolls out when Enji’s tongue meets his cupid’s brow.

What is happening? What the hell is happening? What the hell –

“You’re insane,” Enji mutters.

“I know,” Hawks rasps back.

His heart is beating so fast he can barely hear, and his hand is rattling on the railing, shaking uncontrollably – and Hawks has to rely on reflex alone, because his brain sure as hell isn’t there.  He didn’t know Enji could kiss so fully.

“You –” Hawks starts, but his soul rockets out of his body when he hears knocking on the door. Enji stiffens, and Hawks flies off the bed, scrambling to pull the food off the chair and sit before the doctor walks in.

“Todoroki-sama,” the doctor greets, waving a clipboard. “Are you ready for your last healing session?”

Enji looks between Hawks, and the doctor. Hawks can thank his lucky stars that half of his face is covered, because it is utterly on fire.

“Sorry, I’ll go.” Hawks sets the food next to little plushie Endeavor. “Um, there’s soup in there if you’re interested. Though, it might be cold…”

“Come back tomorrow,” Enji says. Hawks nods, waves casually to the doctor, and books it before Enji can swing his feet off the side of the bed and stand.

Hawks strolls through the hall very cool and normal-like until he reaches the back of the parking lot. Then he hides his head in his arms, and silently screams.

 

~

 

It takes an entire day to process what happened. Both Jeanist and Rumi leave voice messages on his phone, and he can’t find the energy to listen to them.

The food mom left untouched in her fridge has finally gone bad, but it’s too much of a chore to throw it away. He barely summons the will to have dinner delivered.

He eats at the kotatsu, and listens to his own brain fight amongst itself.

Why the fuck did you do that, and you’re making it up, this isn’t real and no, no, he KISSED you –

His heart flutters up to his throat. Hawks slaps a hand over his mouth, and laughs incredulously. The sound echoes off the tall ceilings.

That night, the only comfort he has is the knowledge that Enji didn’t push him away.

 

~

 

It’s easier not to hope for things. To look at the cup half empty and be perfectly fine living that way.

Things are going to be different from here on out. No matter what, society is going to change. Be it for the better, or worse.

Hawks hesitates to put on his bandages. He looks at his reflection in the mirror – his half-grown wings and his ill-fitting clothes – and he decides to leave the house without wrapping up.

He has the taxi ride to the hospital memorized by now. Three lights up, a left, a right, and a handful of stop signs. Hawks flicks his thumbnail over the clasp on his watch, clicking it back and forth to fill the silence. 

 

This is the first time Enji has ever asked him to come back.

 

Hawks pays the taxi driver, and breathes out forcefully.

Cool, cool, cool. Play it cool.

Hawks starts his usual route to Enji’s room. He waves to the receptionist and takes the elevator to the fifth floor. It stops on the third, and the fourth, and when he finally makes it to Enji’s floor, it feels like he’s about to die from the anxiety.

He stops before the end of the hall. His stubby wings shake against his back, and Hawks presses them in tight. He can feel Enji’s breathing.

He’s outside his room already.

Hawks speed-walks around the corner, and sees Enji’s large silhouette checking out with the nurse at the counter. Hawks feels irrefutably happy to see Endeavor in civilian clothes again. He opens his mouth to call to him, and then nearly bites his tongue in two.

Rei is with him.

She has a small hand at his arm. She looks tired, but she’s as beautiful as Hawks remembers her being. Rei looks between Enji and the nurse, and speaks in a lowered voice. Hawks feels his stomach burn holes when he sees Enji’s hand resting gently at her back.

He speaks to her softly. He says something to the nurse, and then looks at Rei again – and she smiles towards him. Even if Enji called her his ex, they still look like husband and wife, standing side by side like that.

 

I’m an idiot, Hawks thinks. I’m such a fucking idiot.

 

Enji turns around, and Hawks is gone. Booking it down the hall and out the emergency stairs. He goes up to the roof, shoulders open the door with his good arm and gasps in air as he reaches the outside.

It’s overcast. The grey light hurts his eyes, and Hawks stumbles towards the roof’s edge, gripping the railing and moving instinctually to hop over the side–

But his short wings twitch as a wakeup call, and Hawks freezes with one foot over the rail.

The ground stares at him, six floors down. And um, the worst part is, it doesn’t look all that bad.

Hawks scrambles back over the edge and chokes on a dry sob. He sits with his back to the rail, and counts his breathing until he can see straight. When his heart stops shaking and his hands go still, he takes the stairs, and waves a pleasant goodbye to the receptionist.

 

~

 

“Yep, I got it,” Hawks says, phone wedged between his shoulder and his ear. He slaps the manilla folder against his mom’s kitchen table with a loud fwap!   “Thanks for the follow up. I’ll uh…try to take a look at it.”

“It’s really just busywork,” Jeanist says. “Figured you were bored, sitting around all day.”

“Oh, I’m living a very exciting life right now. Eat, sleep, and pray for my neighborhood’s cable to come back on.”

“Forgive us if we’re preoccupied with more important matters.”

“That was a joke, man.”

“I know,” Jeanist teases. “Did you hear that Endeavor-san is out of the hospital?”

Hawks rubs over his mouth with his fingers.

“Issat right?”

“Mmm. Strange you didn’t hear, since you were spotted exiting a taxi on the day he was discharged.”

Fuck.

“Um. You don’t happen to know anyone that can cover those photos, do you?”

“It’s already been done.”

“I owe you, BJ.” Hawks taps his chin. “Or maybe a BJ.”

“Tempting offer, but I don’t think I’m the one you should be saying that to.”

Hawks sits at the kitchen table and sighs. He hasn’t opened any of the windows today – not for a couple days, actually – and it makes the room feel dark and gloomy.

“It’s complicated. I’ll be over it soon. I’m going to start training for my physical exam next week.”

Jeanist makes a skeptical sound on the other side of the phone.

“Are you recovered?”

“I’m off the drugs. Just a few aches and pains, nothing crazy.”

“Take it easy. We’re holding down the fort just fine.”

“Heroes shouldn’t lie,” Hawks grins, and he can almost hear Jeanist’s eyeroll. They say their goodbyes, and Jeanist tells him to be careful, for denim can only stretch so far – and Hawks hangs up before he can go off on a tangent.

He sets his phone on the table, and sighs. He traces the cracked screen with his finger, and ignores a call from an unknown number.

 

~

 

Hawks doesn’t like to go in his mom’s room, so he decided to shut the door and wall it off completely, preserving it like a time capsule. He hasn’t gone looking for her yet, and he’s not quite ready to.

It’s been easier to sleep on the couch, or under the kotatsu. Most of his stuff is set up there anyways (the papers from Jeanist, his coffee mug, meds, a messy pile of clothes), so he hardly goes upstairs anymore.

The scar tissue is itching like all hell today. Hawks has gotten very little done because of it. He presses his cheek to the kotatsu table and just rides out the discomfort.

The cable is back on, but he muted it already. It’s just more downer crap – more death, more robberies, more skeptics trying to rip the heroes a new one. In some sense, they deserve it. But in another, his friends died to protect those same skeptics.

He has nightmares of Dabi. Of the hands around his throat, and the smell of his own skin. It’s like another CD in the record player, another memory to hit shuffle on. Twice, his father, and now this. 

Except, last night it was a dream of the hospital. Sitting sideways in Enji’s bed and kissing him over and over. It’s worse than a nightmare. The embarrassment could eat him whole.

Hawks lifts his head when he hears knocking.

It’s not very loud. The mailman doesn’t usually come until Tuesday; and it couldn’t be Rumi, either – she’s on patrol again. Hawks grabs his hoodie off the couch and throws it over his head, before he stands on his toes to look in the peephole. It’s – oh, no.

Hawks yanks the hood up in a panic. He tugs the oversized sleeves down his hands and pops the lock, jerking it open only for it to hit the chain.

“What are – fuck,” Hawks closes the door, tugs the chain off and reopens it fully. “What are you doing here?”

Enji is in street clothes; a normal button-down, dark slacks, and a long coat. He looks handsome — almost normal, again. You’d hardly know he fought for his life a few weeks ago.

Hawks feels his heart drop to his feet.

“I…” Enji starts. It’s startling to see him be at a loss for words. He stands on the welcome mat for a moment, and then fishes into his pocket. “I thought you were coming back, so…”

He pulls the plushie out of his pocket. Hawks had forgotten entirely that he was missing it. 

Enji came all the way here, just to return a stupid toy. His eyes burn for a moment, but he blinks it away quickly.

“Ah…” Hawks clears his throat. “Um. Thanks man. I appreciate you bringing him back.”

Enji doesn’t hand it over right away, like he has something else to say.                 

“You didn’t answer your phone.”

“I didn’t know you called.”

“Jeanist gave me your address.”

“I can see that.”

Gods this is awkward. Enji finally sets the plushie in his open palm. Hawks grabs it, and keeps his head ducked away, so Enji can’t see him. It’s a moot point; Hawks knows he can see part of his face. The scar that now runs up his chin and littered on the right side of his cheek. Hawks tries to hide it anyways.  

Enji still doesn’t move. He looks once around Hawks’ home (his mom’s home), and turns back to him.

“You live alone here?”

“Yeah.”

“Do you want to–”

Hawks audibly groans. He rubs his arm across his face and sighs harshly.

“I – okay. I can’t take this. Look, I – I shouldn’t have kissed you, and I’m really sorry. But I just – don’t, stop, don’t look at me like that.”

Enji frowns. He’s a solid wall of a man at his doorstep. Intimidating as always, but different now. 

“Is that why you didn’t come back?”

“It’s why I did,” Hawks snaps back, and then bites his lip. Enji raises his eyebrows, and Hawks tugs the plushie tight to his chest, like it’ll protect him. “Look, I don’t know if you’re the densest person on planet earth, or if I’ve been speaking in tongues this whole time, but I think I’ve been painfully and embarrassingly obvious about my feelings towards you.”

Enji looks down at the toy, then back up to Hawks.

“Did you happen to forget that I kissed you back? Or is your memory selective?”

Hawks flares up with a cocktail of emotions. He bares his teeth and snaps, pointing,

“Stop that! Stop – giving me hope. I saw you with Rei, I saw the way you looked at her –”

Enji rears back in surprise.

“Rei? What does she have to do with –”

“I don’t know what’s going on in your home life, but I think if you have the chance to be happy with the mother of your kids, then you should – you should take it,” Hawks states.

Enji stares into him. He blinks once, and then steps forwards. Hawks scrambles back, and Enji shuts the door behind him.

“Dammit, Hawks. Do you even hear yourself?”

“Loud and clear, buddy. Get out before I make you.”

Enji pinches the bridge of his nose and sighs. It ticks Hawks off even more, and he puffs up his wings to look big.

“Oh, quit that. I love Rei, but not in the way you’re thinking.”

Hawks pauses. He deflates a little, and droops his wings back down.

“What?”

Enji drops his voice, too. “It… well. It took us both a while to figure it out. She had to sign my discharge papers at the hospital, that’s why she was there.” Enji looks down to the floor like – like he’s, wow, embarrassed? “I wanted to bring you home with me…”

Well, fuck.

“Me?” Hawks repeats in disbelief.

Enji sighs, but he doesn’t sound angry anymore. He steps out of his shoes, and then walks right up to Hawks, plucking the hood from the top of his head. It falls down around his neck, and Hawks’ wings shake as Enji pets to the back of his head.

“Yes. I am not dense, and you are not subtle.” Pause. “You cut your hair.”

Hawks clears his throat, and goes a little hot. Enji’s fingers are wide and clumsy, and they drag across his undercut.

“Y-yeah. ‘Cause of, um. The surgery.”

Enji breathes through his nose, and then nods his head.

“Come here.”

Hawks drops the Endeavor toy, and walks right into his arms. Enji squeezes him so tight, he could cry. He’s strong – even through his surgeries, and the weeks spent recovering in bed. He’s still strong, and alive. Fuck, he smells so good.

“It’s been hard,” Hawks croaks.

“I know.”

“You gotta’ know it’s – it’s more than hero worship. Endeavor I – I would follow you until there’s no road left.”

Enji pushes his cheek into Hawks’ short, fluffy hair, and it might as well squeeze into his heart too.

“You shouldn’t say things like that. They will hate you for it, and I don’t need my mistakes to affect anyone else.”

“I’m tired of caring what other people think,” Hawks muffles against his chest. “Aren’t you?”

Enji lifts him up by the waist. He’s surprisingly gentle, but it might have to do with his own injuries. Hawks holds on long enough for Enji to cross the distance to the couch, and sit down.

He used to daydream of Enji carrying him, just like that. When he was half-stupid and chasing a dream that wasn’t quite his own. 

“I am,” Enji agrees. “I am tired of it.”

Hawks wiggles up in his lap (oh, he’s so delightfully big) to get his hands on the back of Enji’s neck, but he’s already being kissed. Hawks cups his face fully, feels across scar tissue and stubble, and groans from it. He’s real. He’s real.

Enji hugs him around his middle – and it’s cute. Even if it’s hard to breathe, its still unquestionably cute, and Hawks tips his nose the other way to kiss him again.

It doesn’t stop. Enji lets him hold his face still so Hawks can work at his mouth, over and over. Pull back and press again – it gets sticky fast. Hawks can feel where his scar lines against his lip. He hasn’t stopped thinking about it for days.

When Enji’s patience runs thin, he pulls a hand up to cup the back of his neck and tug him closer, and Hawks’ stomach drops out when his tongue meets the seam of his lips. If Enji can feel the scar texture on the back of his neck, then he doesn’t mention it.

Hawks pushes at his coat and Enji shrugs out of it.                      

“What do you want,” Hawks breathes. “What do you want from me.”

Enji kisses the corner of his lips. Hawks thinks he missed his mouth, until he does it again a little lower. Hawks closes his eyes briefly when Enji kisses his jaw. His chest knots from it.

“A couple things.”

“Name it, big guy.”

“I want you to use my name.”

Hawks peeks open an eye. It’s not what he expected, but it fills him with butterflies anyways.

“Easy.”

“I want you to work with me.”

There goes the other eye. Hawks peers down at him, and scowls.

“If you’re doing this so I’ll join your agency, you really are undermining how easy I am.”

Enji rolls his eyes and slides his hand down to cup him at the waist, squeezing in reprimand. His hands are so big, his fingertips almost meet.

“As my partner, not as a sidekick. Seriously, Hawks. Respect yourself.”

“I’m just saying!” Hawks pauses. “Wait, really?”

“I can’t do this alone.” Enji rubs lightly under his rib, and it makes his insides shake. “You showed me that.”

Hawks smiles unevenly, and thumbs at the edge of his scar, right beneath his lip.

“I already told you I’d fight for you. Do you need it in writing?”

“Yes,” Enji says, and it takes Hawks a moment too long to realize he’s joking. It takes him even longer to realize that Enji has been slowly snaking his hand under his hoodie. There’s too much fabric for Enji to see his throat, but his nose tips there anyways. Nerves hike into his mouth, and Hawks braces a hand on his shoulder in warning. Enji doesn’t go any further. “I want you to leave this house. Come home with me.”

Hawks stretches his wings and tucks them back in, overstimulated from this, alone.

“I can’t sell it.”

“You don’t have to sell it. But this place is ruining you.”

Hawks swallows thickly. He won’t cry, but his throat hurts again.

“Ha. You’re right. Smarter than you look, yanno’.”

“Mmm.”

“Any more terms?”

“Go on a date with me.”

Hawks laughs outright. He tips his head to pull Enji out of his neck, and looks through the blue in his eyes. Not icy, anymore.

“I’m amenable.”

Enji drops his eyes downwards. Hawks can’t tell what he’s thinking, until he feels a hand tugging at the edge of his hoodie again.

“Can I see you?”

Hawks licks across the back of his canines. He presses his lips together, and sticks his fingers between Enji’s collar and his neck.

“Don’t get upset.”

“I can’t promise.”

Hawks clears his throat. Okay, okay.

He lifts his arms up. Enji looks at him a moment further, waiting to see if he’ll change his mind – but Hawks only matches his stare. He nods, so Enji rolls the hoodie up his torso. His undershirt tugs up with it. The air is cold, and it gives him goosebumps. 

The worst of it is on his back, he tells himself. It’s okay, it’s fine –

“Oh my god,” Enji mutters in horror.

Okay, not what he was hoping for.

“Sorry, it’s kind of – still healing. I can have plastic surgery for some of the lighter ones but –”

“He grabbed you,” Enji interrupts. His voice is hoarse, and he lifts a hand to trace the scar on his neck. “They’re…”

Handprints. Yeah, he knows. There’s a burn around his throat, and up the edges of his chin, running in lines where Dabi’s hands were. You can see another one lower on his neck, and jagged splotches that burned down the back of his arms, all the way to his elbows. Most of his back is a skin-grafted mess, but you can still see a few boot prints. He uh, he thinks. He doesn’t look too hard.

“I’m weak to fire,” Hawks apologizes. “It’s all I could do.”

Most of his face healed okay, at least. It’s a small win.

Enji looks to get his surprise under control, but Hawks can still see raw fury, and distilled pain.

“These aren’t just injuries. This was…torture.”

“Try not to think too hard on it,” Hawks offers. “I’m a big boy. I’ll be okay.” Enji is looking at his arms now, feeling over the scar tissue with his thumbs. Hawks sniffs, and feels hot when Enji’s gaze rolls down to his belt. “Um. Is it a turn off?”

“No,” Enji says. His quick response helps Hawks with his anxiety, some. “I had prepared myself…I knew you were hesitant about showing me.” He pets carefully over the handprint scar on his throat, and Hawks has to do his best not to shake out of his own skin. “This is just…my own consequences, staring me in the eye.”

Hawks had torture training just like everyone else. He won’t sit here and pretend it was a freak accident. His choice, his cards. Enji trying to take the blame is the worst kind of insult. 

“Don’t feel bad for me,” Hawks demands. “Whatever you do, just don’t – fucking pity me.”

Enji takes his wrist in his hand, and his fingers wrap around the bone entirely. Hawks watches him pop a handful of buttons on his own shirt, before pressing Hawks’ palm to the largest scar on his chest.

“I won’t.”

Hawks smiles partway. Enji presses his mouth under his ear, and Hawks leans into it, blindly feeling over the scar with his fingers. It runs so deep; it’s hard to imagine his heart exposed on the operating table, opened up for any doctor to see.

“What a pair we make.”

 Enji kisses the side of his neck, then lower. His mouth is hot, and it makes Hawks nervous in an exciting way. He doesn’t want to worry about the world anymore, he just wants Enji’s mouth on him.

Enji’s hand finds his lower back, and his heart jerks. Enji kisses again over his bare shoulder, and Hawks can feel himself growing stiff from it. It’s the perfect storm; the heat of Enji’s thighs under his own, his half-unbuttoned shirt and the deep groove of his collarbones and – fuck, he sucks down on a soft spot, between the fingers of his scar, and it’s hot.

“You okay?” Enji asks. His voice is deep, and lost in the tall ceilings of his mother’s living room.

“Yeah.” Hawks runs his hand down flat between Enji’s pecs. He’s all muscle and healthy fat – thick and barrel chested, genuinely strong, unlike those kids that spend half their life flexing in a mirror. Hawks isn’t even sure if he could straddle his chest if he wanted to, he’s so broad. “Is there a uh, a plan here? Cause uh, I could sit and make out with you all day – just don’t get weirded out if I get hard.”

Enji doesn’t answer at first. However, he tugs Hawks closer by the lower back, fitting him snug into his hips, and Hawks grunts from the sudden pressure. The other hand slides up his thigh, calluses scratching on his jeans. It’s shiver-inducing.

“Sorry,” Enji mutters. “I’ve wanted to get my hands on you for a while.” He presses his face into Hawks’ shoulder and just breathes there for a second, and Hawks feels his heart shatter into a thousand pieces.

A while, he thinks. A while, a while.

Hawks dips his fingers around the back of Enji’s shirt collar, and scratches over his shoulders. He’s close enough that he can feel Enji’s stomach clench, and that, that is what gets him hot.

He nudges Enji’s head back so he can kiss him again, and he breathes a relieved sigh when Enji kisses back even stronger. His wings stretch when Enji pets up between them, and he can’t even be worried about the scars anymore; it feels so good. Hawks begs him to take off his shirt, and he does, and the first time Hawks rocks forwards and feels him hard in his slacks, it’s like a full shot of adrenaline.

Fuck it, they’re doing this here.

“Lay down,” Hawks urges.

Enji does, but not without taking him along. The couch pillows get knocked away and Enji braces his back against the armrest and it’s so much better, because Hawks can lay across him and kiss slow, pressed together entirely– somehow even closer. His bare chest rubs against Enji’s, and the skin to skin is erotic. He’s warm, but he gets a chill anyways.

Enji shamelessly squeezes his ass, and Hawks moans so loud he laughs, and it breaks the tension partway, just enough so Hawks feels like he can breathe again. At least, until Enji lifts a thigh and rubs it between his legs, and Hawks’ vision goes blotchy.

“Oh, fuck. I wanna’ ride you so bad.”

Enji’s grip on him tightens, then lets go in a show of self-control.

“Not now.” He feels down the middle seam of his pants, and Hawks gets so hard it hurts. “But when you’re better, I won’t hold back.”

Hawks rolls his head along his shoulders and groans. He’s throbbing against the zipper on his pants, and feeling the heat of Enji’s erection through their clothes is like, a very specific kind of torture. Hawks rocks forwards, Enji bites at his mouth, and they kiss like that until Hawks reaches the edges of his sanity. 

He’s desperately trying to soak it all in. Every short, suppressed reaction from Enji – all the twitches, the hard breathing, the blind possessiveness. If it disappeared tomorrow, if the clock struck midnight – it would be okay. Hawks would have this memory burned into him like a brand, and that would be enough.

It’s Enji that grabs his belt loop and tugs, growling off in a rumble so deep, Hawks feels it vibrate into his chest. Hawks is soo over obeying orders, but fuck if he won’t bow for that one.  

He wiggles out of his pants, lets Enji yank them the rest of the way off and blindly pats for Enji’s belt as large hands go straight for his ass again. Gods, his grip is big enough to almost wrap around his thigh entirely, and Hawks gasps shallowly when he finds his tailbone and rubs downwards, just once.

Hawks feels his cock snap up against his navel, and he can’t even find the piece of mind to be embarrassed about it. Enji is looking at him. Like a meal – like, like he’s still something desirable. A part of Hawks will always want to impress him, so it’s especially wet-dream inducing when Enji looks him over and hums his approval.

More, please – look at me more.

“Pretty,” Enji mutters, and Hawks’ whole world explodes.

The weather is cold outside but it’s hot in here, and Hawks could melt off of Enji’s body heat alone. Being naked in his lap like this, shit — Enji’s gaze is hot and his skin tastes good, and Hawks can’t help but think of all the years he spent in bed, wondering what Enji’s throat tasted like. Well, now he knows.

“Fuck this belt,” Hawks curses, finally giving up. Enji breathes hard, and it takes too long for Hawks to register it as a laugh. He sits back on Enji’s thighs to watch him undo the buckle himself, and that might actually be ten times sexier.

“Don’t over exert yourself,” Enji warns.

“You’re the one with a plastic lung,” Hawks shoots back, but licks across his bottom lip when Enji pulls himself out of his underwear. Wow. “My god.”

He’s larger than Hawks in every way, so he can’t even be mad about it. His cock is downright beautiful, and Hawks reaches for it instinctually, wrapping his fingers around the base and watching them not even meet. Hawks pets up to the stubbly hair over his navel, the deep V of his hip and back to his cock, and Enji watches him with an eyebrow raised.

“You done?”

“Oh baby, I just got started,” Hawks whispers. He pumps him once and rocks closer to press his own cock against him, and the size difference turns him on more than anything. Enji digs his fingers into his thighs and tugs again, and Hawks full body throbs. “Oh, actually, on second thought – I might be.”

“Come here.”

Hawks crawls up on his elbows to loop his arms around Enji’s neck, and it presses them together tightly. He can feel Enji slip up wetly against his hip, and when Enji rocks him down it’s so good, it’s all the friction he’s been dying for.

Even with the handprints, the bootmarks, and the burns scorched down his back, Enji is still hard for him, and that’s all the validation Hawks ever needed.

And so it goes. Hawks grinds down with all the energy he can spare, and Enji grips up into his short wings and tugs him closer, and Hawks opens up like a dam. He sucks in air through his nose and Enji kisses him hard, and Hawks forgets the world.

They never get past this. Hawks can’t give up kissing him, and Enji frots them together through firm, steady nudging, and Hawks’ own orgasm catches him by surprise. He chokes off a shout, braces himself and shakes, and it almost feels like a dream when Enji jerks his own hand between them, and rubs himself off quick and sudden. Hawks feels high when Enji comes too, and he blindly pats to feel across the tip of his cock with his fingers, focusing more on how Enji stiffens, holds his breath and turns his head away. It's hotter than hell — it boils him inside and out.

Hawks mumbles obscenities into his neck – kisses into him as he wipes his fingers off against his chest, effectively pissing him off. Enji huffs angrily at him. Hawks only laughs as he digs a hand into his short hair and pulls; he’s sticky and overheated, but it’s the best feeling. Probably ever.

“Partners, huh?” Hawks mulls, as Enji licks down his jaw like a possessive dog. “I think I’m okay with that.”

 

~

 

Hawks is the one that gets stuck tip-toeing around the living room butt-naked to look for a tissue, all while Enji ends up with the easy job of stretching his back and buckling up his pants. Ugh. 

He wipes himself down and tosses the box across the room, and then shouts in horror. 

“Noooo! Endeavor!” 

Enji jerks to look up at him, the tissue box still in hand. 

“What?” 

“He saw everything!” Hawks gasps. He waddles to the door and picks up the worn plushie. “Oh my god I’m so embarrassed.” 

Enji’s concerned expression immediately falls flat. He drops the tissue box to the floor and sorely shrugs his arm through a sleeve. 

“Hawks, it’s a toy.” 

“First he protects you during surgery and now you can’t even respect his boundaries?” 

“It’s me.” 

“You wish,” Hawks grins, and plants a fat kiss on the plushie’s face. Enji narrows his eyes and stands, and Hawks is smart enough to start scrambling around the living room to find his clothes. 

 

~

 

Enji owns what has to be the world’s most comfortable tatami bed, and the moment Hawks lays on it, he sleeps like the dead. 

Enji was nice enough to help him bring over a few of his belongings, but even then, Hawks is pretty sure he fell asleep in his jeans. 

He wakes up in a yukata. The fabric is soft, and it smells like foreign fabric softener. Two holes have been cut in the back, and Hawks kind of falls in love all over again. 

The memories are few and short in between, but Hawks has them. Fuzzily, an arm over his side, braced up between his wings. No snoring, just deep breathing and natural heat. Fuck, it’s cute. 

To be honest, the decision to stay here was kind of impulsive. Enji isn’t in the room, so Hawks takes the opportunity to snoop through his room, and nose around the bathroom while he’s brushing his teeth. The traditional style of his house is sweet in one sense, but Hawks can tell that it holds a deeper meaning than tradition. 

The fact that Enji asked him to be here means more than anything. 

He fumbles his way into the kitchen when he smells coffee. The windows are all open, the room full of sunlight on soft wood floor and green houseplants. 

Enji is half-dressed in a sleeping yukata; Hawks can see the fuzzy nape of his neck, and the few scars that roll over his shoulders, and it tugs on his heartstrings. 

“Coffee?” 

“Nah. But I’ll take tea.” 

Enji opens a top cabinet, and Hawks takes a seat at the island barstool. The tension breaks when Enji turns around to look at him, and Hawks gives him a reflexive wink. 

“Hm. You slept well.” 

“Your bed is comfortable,” Hawks replies. Then, “ You’re comfortable.” Hawks scratches over the stubble on his jaw and frowns, “Although, I have been sleeping on my mom’s couch for a month.” 

Enji shakes his head, and sets a kettle on the stove. 

“I can’t...promise that things will be better here.” 

Hawks picks at his nails, from the lack of anything better to fiddle with — but he stops and smiles when he sees the Endeavor plushie sitting on the adjacent barstool. Ah, so that’s where he ended up. 

“It doesn’t have to be better,” Hawks says, plucking the plushie off the stool and back into his hands. “It just has to be enough.” 

Enji holds his coffee, but doesn't drink. He watches Hawks play with the little arms on the toy, and frowns. 

“I can’t believe you brought that here.” 

“He’s one of the few things that made it out of my destroyed apartment.”

Enji takes that in. Hawks flips the toy in his fingers, and Enji clears his throat. 

“How long have you had that?” 

“Hmm. Twenty years, maybe?” 

Enji’s expression tightens. He takes a short sip, and Hawks enjoys watching his throat bob. 

“I’m not…” he starts, but Hawks cuts him off. 

“I know. Endeavor and Enji are two entirely different people.” Hawks props his head in his hand, and looks at Enji over the counter, through his eyelashes. “But I think I fell in love with both in their own ways.” 

Enji sets down his cup. It clicks against the counter. 

“And you?” 

“There’s only Hawks,” he laughs. “I never wanted anything to do with who I was. I think that’s why I’m struggling to find where I fit in all this. A bird with no cage but - where do I even go?” 

Enji comes around the counter. Hawks turns the stool to meet him, and Enji reaches right for him. Hawks silently preens, welcoming the hand at his neck like a boat coming home. 

“I guess it’s just one day at a time.” 

“I think that’s okay,” Hawks grins. “Our book isn’t written yet.” 

Enji bends down to kiss him, and Hawks rakes his nails through the buzzed hair on his nape. He tastes like coffee and smells like cologne and the scars on their lips meet equally, like a lock and key. 

The kettle whistles. Hawks sends a feather to scoop it off the stove, and Enji raises his eyebrows. 

“Convenient.” 

“Don’t get used to it. I’m still going to annoy the hell out of you.” 

“I’ll keep that in mind.” 

 

The Endeavor toy gets put high on a closet shelf. Not forgotten, but rehomed for now. 

 

~

 

Enji’s house is big, but it’s not lonely. Staff keep the property spit clean, and the kids visit often, and - well, Enji is there, and that’s enough for him. 

It’s home, in its own way. The gym is convenient, and Hawks is given a room to spare, but Enji lets him sleep in his anyway (good).

Hawks doesn’t have to be alone. He doesn’t have to keep secrets. The world knows his deadname and they know his sins and they know Enji’s to match. It’s out there, and Hawks can’t worry about it anymore. There’s only tomorrow. 

If his family has any questions as to why Hawks is living there, they don’t prod to find out. They’re going through so much drama as it is, Hawks gets the idea that they’re tired of fighting each other anyways. 

When Shouto does bring it up, it’s short and to the point. 

“Dad is kinda’ fucked up right now,” Shouto says, pointing to his own head. “I don’t know if this is a phase or not.” 

It stings, but Hawks can appreciate the concern. He looks to Enji, who’s chopping vegetables with Fuyumi and Natsuo. 

“I know.” 

“Just don’t get hurt.” 

“I won’t let him,” Hawks says, and Shouto physically relaxes. 

There’s no stamp of approval, but there’s no disgust, either. These days, Hawks will take what he can get. 

 

~

 

“Well?” Hawks stretches his wings, and they skim the ceiling. “What do you think?” 

Enji runs his hand into one, threading the feathers between his fingers like hair, and Hawks shivers from it, not unlike a chill. 

“They look good as new. Sensitive?” 

“Yes.” 

Enji circles behind him, out of Hawks’ field of vision. His fingers run up the primaries, like petting over an impressive animal. 

“I don’t see any reason for them to deny you your license.” 

“I can name a few. One of them rhyming with Thrice.” 

“You were pardoned for that,” Enji reminds. Hawks feels his palm dip between his wings and press to his back, and his breath goes whoosh as Enji steps closer, circling his arms around his waist. “Did you see your new office?” 

Hawks grins, and drops his wings so Enji can step closer. He lifts a hand to blindly cup his jaw. 

“I did. It’s next to yours.” 

“Merely coincidence.” 

Hawks laughs, and he’s stopped feeling guilty for doing it. He wants happiness. He wants this. 

He can feel Enji’s heartbeat, and the stutter of that new lung. It’s a relief to have the full range of his quirk back. As silly as it is, Hawks is tempted to sew a feather to the back of Enji’s uniform, so he’ll never be out of his sight. 

There’s a possessive side of him that he’ll never quite be able to quench, a deep instinct that repeats mine, mine on a record scratch. 

From the way Enji holds him, Hawks has a feeling it might be mutual. 

Enji presses his mouth to the scarred side of his neck, and the possessive itch goes away, for now. Hawks can feel the flames on Enji’s skin. The fire beard that licks just close enough to burn, but doesn’t. 

He’s covered in handprints; old, new, and ones yet to happen. No more shackles, no more cage bars, no more lies. Just Enji, and these new wings of his. 

“You’re late,” Enji says, and Hawks can spare to be a minute later.  

He’s free.