FEMALE READER VERSION
Of all Hawks’ secrets, you are the most well-kept.
Version: Female Reader version | Male Reader Version
Links: Gifset (art only) | Mood Music
Rating: Explicit | Word Count: 13k | Art: 14 animations, 2 stills
(Technically no spoilers, but if you aren’t caught up on the events of the manga you’ll be missing important context. The fic takes place after Hawks’ meeting with the commission.)
Synopsis: Casual was the word you used when you first agreed to sleep together. As weeks turned into months turned into a year, those quick and dirty nights blossomed into private moments that earned him little pieces of you.
Warnings: Dom!Hawks, Nurse!Reader, animalistic behavior, rough sex, quirk/feather play, light bondage, biting, praise kink, hurt/comfort, secret relationship, talk of past lovers, mentions of death, panic attacks, PTSD, mention of a past, non-canon event.
Spicy, then bitter, then sweet.
There was nothing exceptional about your life from an outsider’s perspective. You lived in an apartment on the outskirts of Jaku City, unmarried and childless. During the day you attended medical school where you studied for your doctorate. During the evening you worked as a nurse in the intensive care unit. Then, when you were home, you sat alone for dinner at a kitchen table meant for two.
Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
For the past year, however, an occasional tap at your sixteenth-story window would break up the lonely monotony. The tap was quite a scandalous secret, not that anyone would believe you if you let it slip. Even you still had a hard time accepting the bizarre reality of the situation; but it was real. Just as real his voice, which you could hear echoing faintly through your apartment.
You glanced up from your lukewarm dinner and dropped your fork. For a long moment, you sat in silence, listening intently until you heard it again. It was him; it was his voice. Your heart pounded against your ribs as you shoved out of your chair and jogged to the window. The part between your curtains opened, but when you peeked through you saw only the glow of city lights below a blanket of darkness.
A frown found your face, and a sigh spilled past your lips. You heard his voice; you would never mistake it for another. It echoed casually against your dim walls again, and you turned your head towards the sweet sound. The television was on in the living room. Your heart dropped at the realization. The little square thing sat on your end table and taunted you with his image.
There he was. Hawks, the winged hero, being interviewed by a woman in a pantsuit. It wasn’t often he did interviews, so you left your dinner to go cold in favor of watching the program.
He was dressed in his hero costume, his visor lifted to rest atop his blond, wind-whipped hair, and his scarlet wings folded politely against his back. A wide grin graced his face as he exchanged charming banter with the woman. She seemed enamored with his expression, but she didn't know him like you knew him. He was smiling, yes, but the edges of his eyes were crinkled with tension. When he chuckled, his wings folded a little harder against his back. His beats of laughter were calculated. Uncomfortable, that's what he was.
He’d been that way a lot lately.
"So, I'm sorry, I have to ask- Every bachelorette in the country is wondering, is there any special lady in your life?" the interviewer asked. It was airy and friendly in intent, but your lip twitched with faint annoyance anyway. Your face fell slack and you leaned back into your chair.
"Well, I don't know about every bachelorette," he quipped. His face was a little grainy on your old TV screen, but you could see the slight pink in his cheeks. He was cute. So, very cute. It made you miss him that much more. "But my personal life, well, how alluring would I be if I didn't keep a few things a mystery?"
And a mystery it was, to everyone but you.
Thankfully, the woman interviewing him had enough tact to know when to move on. Their conversation mercifully veered away from his sex life—your sex life—and towards his agency. The television was a wondrous thing. His voice rang through your home despite his absence. It brought sadness, but also a bittersweet comfort. Viewing him live stung your soul. You watched until his interview ended with a commercial break, and then decided not to wait up for him again. That would only lead to another sleepless night.
Still, the window remained unlocked for him as you called it a night. The yellow glow of your desk lamp died with a click, and you climbed into your bed. Sleep was always difficult. Many nights you laid awake as you thought about your ICU patients. The things you saw in the ward were enough to scar anyone. But if it wasn’t work that plagued your mind, it was him.
Casual was the word you’d used when you’d first agreed to sleep together. It was easy to swallow when he only snuck into your apartment at night for sex. For the first few months, that was it. He’d steal into your home through the cover of darkness and you’d share a violently passionate night. Then, he would vanish out your window until he craved you again. Which, thankfully, was often.
As weeks turned into months turned into a year, however, those quick and dirty nights blossomed into private moments that earned him little pieces of you. You realized you were in too deep when it became difficult to be unbothered by the casual daydreaming of others. His face was clipped to girls’ backpacks long before you knew him, but others, covered so openly in his merchandise, began to make you a touch bitter. His sex life had been speculated about in tabloids since his debut, but to keep your mouth shut while your friends contemplated the size of his penis became hurtful and emotionally taxing.
The only one you could confide those pains in was the man who unintentionally caused them, but Hawks was too sweet. If he knew just how much it tore you up, he’d surely break things off to spare you the misery.
You cursed yourself for getting lost in thoughts of him. Bemoaning the casual chatter of others as he gracefully balanced the weight of the world on his shoulders made you feel weak. You allowed your eyes to close, your breathing slowed, and your body relaxed into your mattress. By the mercy of whatever god watched over you, sleep slowly overtook all your other thoughts.
At least until a shuffle and a squeak made you toss in your sheets. A faint light spilled into your room from the window, and a coolness settled into your bed. You shivered. It was the fresh winter air from outside. The cold wasn't the only intruder. It was him.
The light was dim, but a dark silhouette of flared wings blocked out the moonbeams. Your heart lurched in your chest at the dominant display. It was a habit of the bird in him to fluff up when his blood was hot. His predatory energy kept you submissively silent rather than greet him.
Floorboards creaked beneath his shoes. The pulls of their zippers clicked with the movement. His breath was heavy as he moved to your bed. You caught a vision of your lover’s face. Little flecks of snow followed in. They danced around the brilliance of his wings and settled into his hair. In the blue light of winter’s night, his gold eyes looked dazzling. They also harbored a glint of violence akin to the blown-out eyes of a predator in pursuit of prey.
It was a familiar look from the strange animal. He’d seemed so open and friendly when he’d first snuck into your hospital room to talk, but he shrugged away at hugs and only laughed awkwardly when you told him he was your best friend. He didn't understand that kind of closeness.
You’d learned how deep his discomfort ran through him when the relationship became sexual. His inept understanding of touch translated to violence in the bedroom. Sex was most comfortable for him when he thought of it as a battle. He'd hold you down and force you open. You'd dig teeth into his arms and rip out feathers with your fists. To submit to his pounding was capture, but to overstimulate him until he was too weak to hold you down was victory. Extreme? Perhaps to those who didn’t understand your trust in one another.
He'd at least offer a sappy hello before he pulled his dick out, though. Not tonight. He eyed you as if expecting you to run, as if he'd give chase if you decided to. Fuck, it caused the warmest tingle between your thighs. You’d missed him too badly to try to put up a fight.
He left his jacket abandoned on the floor, which offered a much better view of his slim body wrapped in his black bodysuit. His canines dug into the leather of his glove before he yanked his hand free with his teeth. You laid silent and already breathless. It'd been far too long since you last felt him. Your body was hot with need at the sight of his rigid wings alone. His eyes swept over you as he toyed with the front of his tan jeans. He didn't come very often in uniform. To watch him fondle himself through his costume was- god, was there a stronger word than ecstasy?
“I want you,” he said from your bedside.
"You can have me..." You breathed out. It was intended to sound sultry, but your tone was more akin to a pleading whisper. Your body ached for him before your heart did, after all. Old habits were hard to break.
"You've been waiting for me, like a good girl, haven’t you?" he cooed. Cooed, quite literally. A low and rumbling song reverberated from somewhere deep in his throat. Not a bit of you was avian, but your body reacted instinctively when you heard your mate's call.
"I should reward you."
His visor glinted in the dim light as he pulled it off his face and let it land on the floor. His earmuffs, too.
You bit down your grin as the weight of your mattress shifted under his knee. His ungloved hand neglected the bulge in his jeans to tend to you instead. Warm fingertips slipped beneath your covers and found the skin of your thigh. A small sigh spilled from his lips, and your body trembled.
"You missed my hands on you, didn't you?"
You only managed a nod as his fingers slid up and beneath your pajama top.
Your body sank deeper into your covers when he moved over you. One knee landed on either side of your hips. His bare hand played with your breast while the still gloved one ran through your hair. The leather of the glove was frigid from the cold, but his body radiated warmth. The sweetness of his cologne mingled with the harsh musk of sweat. The smell of him fogged your mind.
The pads of his fingers pinched and tugged at the pink bud he discovered on your chest, which earned him a harsh gasp.
"That's it. I love it when you sing like that," he chimed. His hot breath ghosted over the shell of your ear. Wefts of his hair brushed against your face as his teeth nibbled at your throat. You were trapped beneath the cage his body made.
"These cute little tits of yours- god."
He wasn't usually so chatty when he was about to mount you, but every grumble that reverberated in his throat added to the tingle between your thighs. He could devour you whole and you would thank him for the honor.
Your hands slid up the sides of his tight bodysuit. The inky black fabric was harsh beneath your fingertips. You traced the patterns of its gold accents around to his back and up towards his wings. He stiffened when he felt you slide nearer to them. Between the plush feathers at the base of a wing, you wiggled a finger until you found the skin beneath. Then you gave the joint a brutal squeeze.
Instinctively, that glorious wing of his outstretched and shivered. The stems of his plumes flexed against your hand as they puffed twice their usual size. The longest of them brushed against the ceiling of your room, dwarfing your bodies beneath it.
You were always in awe of the sheer size and beauty of them.
"F-fuck. Not fair," he growled, and then his teeth sunk hard into your neck in vengeance. The harsh bite only made you desperate for more, so you fisted his feathers in your hand and gave a sharp yank. He gasped a hot breath into the nape of your neck. Fuck. You couldn't take the teasing anymore.
Your hands relieved him of their cruelty to pull off your shirt. He faltered when your bare breasts were exposed. His golden irises became thin rings as the darkness of his pupils devoured them. The tip of his glistening tongue wetted his lips.
It was your turn to stare with sharp desire as you heard the click of his belt, then the pull of a zipper. You pushed yourself up to get a good view of him working his dick out of his bodysuit. The throbbing muscle hit him in the stomach. The sensation made him hiss between his teeth, and you whimpered in reply.
"Hhm, you must be really hungry, the way you're staring at it," he mused before he spat into his palm and ran the wetness along the shaft. He quivered at the sensation. You quivered, too.
"Please." Your cheeks were flushed, and your chest quaked with desire. "I want to feel it, please."
"Oh, don't worry. You’re gonna have all of this. Gotta get that pretty little pussy ready for my cock, though, don't we?" he hummed.
He reached into his plumage and pulled out a long, red feather. The thing wriggled between his pinched fingers as he presented it to you. The way it moved was unnatural, but you timidly took it in your grasp. The look on your face must have been telling of your confusion because he chuckled at your expression. He gave no direction. Instead, he watched with a mischievous curiosity as you turned it in your palm. The barbs vibrated independently of one another against your skin.
Your breath heaved when you realized why he had given it to you. His hands slid down your stomach as a pair of red feathers brushed against your sides. They dipped into the hem of your shorts, then pulled the fabric, sliding them down your legs until you were deprived of them. The cold from the open window seeped into your most sensitive places as his hands caressed your hips.
His fingertips stopped over a series of divots and deformities in your flesh. They were painful mementos of the night you met, and reminders of the sacrifice you had made for him a couple of years prior. He was a stranger when you chose to forgo your own survival to shield him from death. His bottom lip disappeared between his teeth as he relived the agony with you, but placed kisses all over the scars. It felt like a plea for forgiveness, so you ran a loving hand through his hair.
A soft sound spilled from him, and then his head dipped down to drink in the sight of your bare body. You were naked beneath your shorts, so he hummed through gritted teeth when he teased your legs apart. He'd seen it all many, many times before, but the sight of your glistening pink sex brought about his cooing again. The sound was a deep and beautiful melody unlike anything you'd ever heard, but also purely sexual. It was his body's call to yours. It beckoned you like a siren.
“No panties, huh?” he murmured. His breath hitched and vibrated with his lustful song. “You’re already so wet, my god… how about you put that feather of mine to use?”
He sat back on his haunches. Those narrow eyes bore holes into your exposed body as he spat another thick glob of saliva onto his palm. His hand found his cock. His eyelids fluttered at the contact and he groaned softly as he pumped around it. His eyes drank your every movement.
You spread your legs for his gaze and then brought the pulsing feather between your thighs. He could feel through them, in a sense. The thought alone caused you to exhale a soft moan, but it was anything but soft when the vibration teased your sex. He groaned, too, at the contact.
Your body flexed and wiggled when you pressed it hard against your clit. The sensation made your eyes roll back. Your slickness dampened its vanes despite its semi-hard state, and your hips ground into the pleasure. He observed. His hand pumped faster with each desperate whimper his feather worked out of you.
It wasn't long before he couldn't take simply watching anymore.
The roughness of his stubble dragged along your breast as he closed his teeth around one of your pink buds. He suckled, and your fingers tangled in his hair as his feather jolted from your grasp. It worked your clit without your help, and hot air blew from his nose as he jerked himself off. You used the distraction to sneak a hand between your bodies. You wanted the hot skin of his cock against you. You wanted to touch and play; to taste and feel. A thick whimper spilled out of him when you ensnared his throbbing dick in your palm and squeezed.
His feather stopped pleasing you.
"I didn’t give you permission to touch, did I?" His wings flexed. The feathered limbs grew massive as their quills stood on end in a frightening display. They were beautiful and plush, but deadly weapons all the same. “Testing me, huh? You're that desperate for my cock?”
Yes, fuck yes you were. You opened your mouth to reply, but your voice cut out when he grabbed you by the wrist. He jerked your hand away from his sex, and you whined. Usually, you were a bit of a hardass. It wasn’t easy to make you crumble, so he looked so devilishly proud of himself when you’d submit beneath the weight of him.
His teeth bared in a deliciously appealing smirk. "I’m gonna have to do something with these hands of yours if you’re gonna grab at shit without permission, yeah?"
You nodded a little too eagerly. His voice was heavy and deep with a depraved need to dominate you. To sully your skin with his desire. You weren’t going to stop him.
A cluster of feathers gathered in the air around you. You had nothing to fear, but watching them circle like small predators overhead made your heart pound against your ribs like a drum. They swarmed you and ensnared your wrists. The strength of his quirk easily had you overpowered. Your hands slammed into the headboard, pinned down by his feathers which trembled with excitement. You were now at his mercy.
“You’ll get your hands back when you’ve earned them,” he informed you through gritted teeth, but you were so mesmerized by the features of his face you hardly heard his words. Beautiful, that's what he was. You'd never told him how his appearance left you breathless. It could scare him away if you said such sweet things too often, but you’d held your heart back for so long it only felt fair to let it beat this once.
“You’re so gorgeous,” you whispered.
He trembled. His eyes widened in startled confusion, and then his cheeks dusted the faintest shade of red. God, that only made your heart thump harder. His did, too; you could feel it rattle through his chest and against your stomach.
"What was that?"
You bit your lip, embarrassed, but echoed the statement a bit more sheepishly. "I said… you're gorgeous."
Your mattress groaned as he folded back onto his knees. The flaming red limbs on his back lowered until they rested against your sheets. Something about that sweet little compliment tore into him like nothing you had ever said before. That desire that flickered behind his eyes blazed out of control. His kisses landed on your knees before he placed a gentle caress of his lips on the innermost part of your thigh. So close to your pussy that the heat of his breath made you slick.
His other glove was abandoned somewhere on the floor, which rendered both his hands bare. A low groan spilled from him as he pressed his thumbs into either side of your heat. His jaw went slack and his breath erratic as he spread you open.
"So are you," he said, but it was muttered so softly you almost didn't hear.
His head dipped down. The tendrils that framed his forehead fell over your midriff as his tongue caressed your twitching flesh. The hot, wet muscle lapped hungrily between your folds. It flicked at your clit, and your legs trembled on either side of his head. His mouth working you open like that was enough to fog your mind entirely.
“You like that?” he cooed between the slurps of his mouth against you. "Oh, I bet you fucking do."
You replied with only a strangled whimper as you tugged uselessly at the feathers that bound you. You were desperate to comb your fingers through his downy hair, to fist it in your hands and press his face hard into you. A low chuckle flowed from his open mouth and tickled your flinching flesh. Another cry tore from your throat.
“My poor baby, so desperate,” he sighed after placing a kiss against your clit.
His poor baby. He hummed that phrase with such possessive intensity. He was right. Even if it was unspoken, you and your body belonged to him and him alone.
The warmth of his palms traveled back up your stomach and squeezed your breasts roughly. “Forcing you to wait so long for me, did I neglect my sweet little Chickpea? Hmm, I better make up for it, huh?"
God, the way his husky voice reverberated against your flesh was the most delicious form of torture. You bit your lip and nodded, and he rewarded you with a finger. It slid carefully into you, and his hand caressed your insides. You cried a loud, indecipherable string of mangled words. All grasp on language left you as he curled his fingers up and flicked his wrist.
“Aw, what are you trying to say, Sweetheart?” he huffed. All the little nicknames only pushed you further into your need for him. “You wanna feel my fat cock push into that pretty little pussy?”
A sharp inhale burned your throat.
“P-please!” you choked. Your voice was cracked and pitiful when it finally tore from you, and a wonderfully wonton sound fell from him.
“Please what, huh? Please what?” he gasped.
“Fuck me! I want it- I want your cock- PLEASE.”
“Ohhhhh, that sounds so pretty comin’ outta your mouth,” came his long, low growl. As a reward for your begging, he dragged the wetness of his tongue along the length of your little pink slit.
The rough material of his jeans slid down your inner thighs as he mounted you. The shaft of his hot, bare cock pressed flush against your sex. Clusters of his feathers bunched behind the bends in your knees and forced them back, which splayed you helplessly open. You watched as he bit into his lip and rubbed himself against your wetness. You couldn't look away as the most intimate part of his body sheathed itself in yours.
The most delicious pressure overwhelmed your aching senses. Fuck. FUCK. He moved slowly. It may have been meant as mercy, but to your sex-starved body, it felt torturous. The ridges of his dick caught at your swollen walls before the tip of it pressed agonizingly slow into the bottom of you.
“Hawks! Oh my god, I can’t fucking take this!” your throat jerked and trembled just like your aching thighs. Your hips pumped in desperation for friction where your bodies connected. “Give it to me, give it- I swear to god- FUCK!”
Once you gave him control of your body, he lost control of his own. The mattress groaned when he slammed into you. His teeth dug into your throat, laying his claim on you as he panted for breath. His loose belt buckle beat at your outer thighs, and your bed frame groaned in protest with each merciless thrust. His hands dug into your flesh and locked you into his jarring pumps. He pinned you down as if he expected you to play the fighting game, but you didn't resist his cock this time. You didn't want a battle. You wanted your lover. Your moaning whimpers broke and cracked as his jerking hips rocked the wind from you.
He pounded into you too fast for your mind to keep up. Your scarred body buckled and stung under his animalistic need, but the shockwaves of pleasure that rolled through your core kept you begging him for more. More. More.
His mind was so fogged that he lost his focus on his feathers. The clusters binding you down came loose without his influence, and you easily pulled out of them to throw your arms around his neck. His wings spread out and bristled until they were pressed against the walls, puffed and massive. His forehead was against yours. His hot breath puffed in your face, and his beautiful body was pleasured with yours.
"Fuck, fuck! Please- Let me come inside you," he pleaded. His eyes were hazy and fogged, his mouth was slack and face a deep red. His body’s cooing song was so loud you could feel it in your own chest. The familiar smell of his cologne intermingled with the musk of sex and blurred your mind. You wanted every piece of him he'd give you.
"Y-yes, please, please," you begged between the hard smacks of his skin against yours.
Your eyes shot open as his pace quickened. His wings… they were falling apart. Those beautiful eyes of his lulled further into the back of his head with each bone shivering slap of flesh. His teeth bared and his lips twitched as he pressed your bodies roughly together. Shivers rolled through his muscles, and those fierce wings of his were reduced to twitching little nubs on his back as he came.
You ran your hands between his shoulder blades as you marveled at his feathers. They littered the air as they weaved feverishly around one another. The gentle touch of your hands brought Hawks down from his high, and his feathers slowed until they lazily spun like autumn leaves. You pulled him down into a tight embrace and buried your face into his hair. He heaved into your chest, and you watched all the little pieces of him flutter around your room in the light of the moon.
He often lost control of his wings when you made love. They'd fluff up and flap wildly when he came, which often knocked shelves from your walls and your lamp from your bedside table. That was the first time he shed his feathers, and you were in awe.
"Are you okay?" he asked. His voice was gravely and shuttered between labored breaths.
“Yeah, I’m just... admiring," you said as you stared over his shoulder. He glanced behind him, and his cheeks tinted the faintest shade of pink when he realized the pitiful state of his wings. The little red feathers spread all around your room stilled in the air and swarmed to his back, returning his iconic limbs to their full glory.
“Er, you managed to pluck me. How embarrassing,” he quipped. You were so sore and exhausted from his sex all you could manage was a little laugh. You were a gasping mess, though, when he finally pulled out of you. The loss of pressure was a relief, but it also left you feeling empty. You laid quiet and trembling as he leaned back to marvel over the mess he made of you. His thumbs spread you open again, and he let out a breathless moan as you felt his come leak from you. His head dipped between your thighs. That beautiful tongue of his flicked out and lapped at the mess on your pussy. The warm wriggling of the muscle shocked your swollen clit and made you cry out, but you couldn't bear to ask him to stop. It satisfied something in you to watch as he licked you clean of your slick and his own come.
When he was content that he'd cleaned you thoroughly, he laid his body carefully beside you in your bed. His fingers tangled in your hair as he locked you into a kiss. You could taste the sex he licked from you on his tongue.
The sex was always feverish and ravishing, but the afterglow was your addiction. In the beginning, it was rare. To kiss and caress crossed the line into his discomfort, but the more he learned to trust you the more of his affection you earned. The man who feared human touch began to ask for hugs every visit. Kisses became frequent and pleasant the more he let you do it. Then came sex that felt less like vicious wars and more like making love. Yes, after everything you did to earn his intimacy, nothing felt as lovely as lying naked beneath his plush plumage.
His feathers caressed every inch of your aching body. His warm mouth, still wet from the sex, pressed gentle kisses onto your face. Your head rested against his arm as your breath slowly steadied. His wing flexed and rested on your shoulder as if tucking you in beneath a plush comforter.
“Mm. You like that?” he pondered breathlessly. His fingers trailed up your scarred side until they combed through your hair. There was a ginger softness to the touch that made your heart quiver. He smiled at you, those yellow eyes pierced through the dim light and into your soul. as you reached your hand out to run your fingers under his jaw.
“Do you need to ask?” you hummed. Your cheeks were still red and your chest quaked as you slowly came down from the high.
He laughed. What a lovely, airy sound. You hummed in the glory of the moment. And, for the first time in what felt like a lifetime, you could breathe again. Typically, he’d spend his days off kicked back on your living room couch with a tall bottle of something hard in his hand. You’d go a week or so without seeing him when things got tense in the hero world, of course, but in the last two months, you’d had him for only a handful of nights. It was concerning, but you knew better than to ask. No matter how close the two of you had become he would never talk to you about work.
“It's been a while since you last flew in,” you noted as you got comfortable beneath his plumage. His body beside yours was the definition of comfort. Your mind could only be at peace when he was safe in your bed. “It’s nice to see you again, I was worried.”
“I know, it’s been too long. No need to worry, though, Chickpea, I’m right here,” he replied. His slow exhale tangled in your hair, and his hand's gentle touch found your cheek. He offered no explanation for his lengthy absences, but he and his crimson wing caressed you with apologies.
You relaxed to the sound of his steady breath through the dim blue light of your bedroom. The wing he draped over you was so plush and warm you could easily fall asleep. You might have, if not for the fear of waking up without him. You scooted closer to wind your arms around his chest and bury your face in his neck.
"I really wish you could stay," you whispered.
To let your love get in his way was the last thing you wanted, but it was the utterance of a moment of weakness. It was uncharacteristic of you, the pathetic way it sounded, and you felt him stiffen under your arm as he soaked in your request. While there was never a confession of love, you'd tamed the wild bird with years of patience and earnest affection. He was loyal to you. It was cruel of you to ask for something you knew he couldn't give.
“Ah… I would if I could help it, you know that,” he sighed into your forehead, “but I can try to stay until morning.”
“Please. I’d like that.” It came out like the voice of a frightened child, but it was difficult to hide your need for him anymore.
If you dwelled any further on the possibility of him vanishing, your emotions were going to get the better of you. You played with the feathers draped over your shoulder to calm yourself. A small one by your face was pinched between your fingers as you rolled the barbs around.
"Your wings are filthy," you mused. Dirt particles littered the poor things. You were sure, with some rooting, you'd find a few bugs he’d picked up in the air, too. "Actually, all of you is filthy. You got dirt all in my sheets, bird brain."
"Oh. Shit, my bad," he murmured as he sat upright. You shivered when the warmth of his wing left you.
"Hm, it's fine. Throw your clothes in the wash and I'll get a shower ready for you, sound good?"
The bed creaked in relief when he stood. His frame was slender and small, but his wings at least doubled the weight of him. That was evident with how smothering being beneath him could feel. He kicked off his pants, though his body was still covered by the black and gold bodysuit he wore beneath them. It warmed your heart to see him carry his uniform out of your room and hear him tinker with the washer on the other side of the wall. The sound of the cloth being tossed inside followed by the creak of an opening cabinet seeped through the drywall, followed by the pop of the detergent lid coming off.
He was intimately familiar with your tiny abode. You’d made sure things stayed in the same place so he'd know where everything was the next time he'd visit. You'd been especially anal about it since he'd often be gone for such long periods at a time. When he returned, you wanted your home to feel like it belonged to him, too.
A sensation overcame you as you laid alone in your bed. The sheets were warm from the love you’d just made. Despite his tongue cleaning you off, you could still feel the faint warmth of him inside of you. His contented sigh found you through the wall and your heart burst.
To the rest of the world, he was a hero, but he was so much more to you. You'd give anything to have him completely. For his voice to echo, groggy and sheepish, against your walls every morning. To get to kiss him goodbye before the sun rose, and to welcome him home every afternoon with a warm embrace. For a ring on your finger; a crib in the bedroom. That wasn’t the kind of life that was meant for him, though. As long as he was afraid of you being hurt, those secret nights were all you’d ever have. It made sense. He had enemies, and you could only imagine how your quiet life would turn upside down if you ended up in the pages of a tabloid.
You only spent time together in the privacy of your apartment. Even after two years of being close to him, there was so little you knew about his life separate from you. What little you did know only made you
frustrated on his behalf. You held out hope that it could eventually change, for your sake and his.
Preening Hawks was your favorite thing to do with him. There was something special about being across from one another in the shower, naked, warm water rushing over your bodies as your fingers smoothed and placed his dampened feathers. It took the first year of your friendship for him to allow you to touch them at all, so it was an obvious display of his trust in you. Which was understandable. His wings were an integral part of his identity. You watched as he ran his hands over his face and into his hair. His expression was in a relaxed state of bliss as your fingers picked through his plumage.
With his massive wings on either side of you like plush, padded walls, it felt like nothing in the world could get you. His laughter echoed around the small room as he told jokes and stories. It was okay if you didn't have anything to say, or if you just wanted to listen. He would talk for you when you fell short, and that's usually what got you laughing.
Through the gentle moment, though, you couldn't help but let your emotions get the better of you. During times like those, when his visits were few and far between, your mind danced around the question of why. The possibilities bounced between him either being in danger or losing interest in you. Both were scary thoughts since he had become such an integral part of your life.
"Would you mind if I ask something?" you pondered, which accidentally interrupted a story he'd been telling about an intern of his.
"Depends what it is.”
"Well… there are a million girls out there who'd gladly do this with you," you mused, and it was true, even if it stung a little to remember. "Did you decide to do this with me because it was convenient?"
That had been your reason, initially. Hawks spent a lot of time hanging around your apartment and he just happened to be wildly attractive. There were no feelings when he’d first asked if he could fuck you. That didn't come until later.
He laughed, and you glared at him.
“Self-doubt, huh? That isn’t like you. Me being away a lot’s really shaken you up, huh?”
"It's not self-doubt, I'm just genuinely curious," you quipped as you pulled a feather from his wing. They'd moult if they hung around too long, so pulling out the loose ones was a help to him.
"Well… what we have going on is far from convenient," he said. "If that's what I was going for, I'd go after a pro that could keep a secret. It ain't easy to sneak away like this, you know."
So even a pro hero would have to be a secret for him? Did Hawks have any chance at all for a normal life?
“I wanted you, and if I want something, I go for it.”
You swallowed down a breath you’d been holding, but you didn’t say anything else as you watched his eyes dance around the bathroom in thought.
"And I wanted you because… well, there were a lot of reasons. The night we met was a big one, I guess.”
You looked away. That night felt taboo to mention, considering all the guilt you knew he harbored. Your scars weren’t his fault. Several villains were on a rampage, and your hospital was in the destructive path. You were just another civilian, caught in the crossfire. His feathers tried, but they couldn’t get you out of the building. You’d been partially crushed beneath the rubble.
“I was sure it was the end of the road for me. It would have been if you and your quirk hadn’t been trapped inside with me. You have a forcefield. You could have used it to protect yourself, but you bubbled me instead. You were gonna die. I was so sure you were gonna die and there wasn't a damn thing I could do about it.”
Still, your lips wouldn’t move. You’d spent ten months in an ICU after you were crushed beneath the weight of two stories of concrete. If not for the healing quirks of EMTs, you wouldn’t have survived at all. If not for your sacrifice, Hawks wouldn’t have, either. Still, it wasn’t his fault.
“Still hurts to know I couldn’t help you when you needed me most, but when I looked in your eyes, there wasn't a hint of fear. All I saw was determination. I never met someone who was so sure of their choices, even in the face of death," he recalled. Your emotions skirted between sadness and flattery as you heard his thoughts. If only you could live up to that selfless picture of you, now. “I know a lot of pros who could only hope to have that kind of resolve.”
“Damn, when you tell it you make me sound like a badass,” you quipped, and your laughter bounced around the shower stall.
“I mean, what are the requirements to be donned with the title of badass? I’m sure you’re overqualified. Either that or you’re fucking crazy, which is also a possibility.”
“I'm not crazy. My job is to help people after they've been hurt. If I bubbled you instead, I’d be saving every person you’d live to protect. Before they would need a nurse like me. It’s just what made sense.”
He was silent for a moment as he absorbed your reasoning. You tended to be rational, even in the most emotional of situations. But that borderline-robotic way of thinking was a by-product of your own miseries.
You were a nurse in a world overcome by demigods and treachery. Some of the things you'd seen in the OR would haunt you for the rest of your life. And, sometimes, those ghosts came to torment you in your dreams. That made it hard the first time Hawks slept in your bed. You would sometimes wake with tears in your eyes as your voice quivered out sobs. Your past lovers didn't understand that part of you. The broken part. The part that had been poisoned by the darker side of this superpowered world.
That's what fostered your love for Hawks. When he had awoken early that morning to you crying beside him, he’d only reacted with a patient embrace. He adored the bright parts of you, but he also had a solemn understanding and respect for your darkness. Having that connection through your mutual suffering was a kind of bond you’d never had before him. And now that you had it, you couldn't imagine life without.
You went back to preening. You pressed up on your knees to reach a bit higher on his wing, and he watched intently. His voice died into silence as his gaze swept over your naked form, which dripped from the steam of the shower. It wasn't a surprise. Often, he would get lost in himself as he observed you, like a curious bird. It felt like a wordless compliment, so you silently allowed his eyes to explore you. Not that his hands and mouth and cock hadn't already drawn a map of you in his mind.
"Whatcha thinking about?" you teased playfully, and he hummed in response.
"How you look at my wings… I like it."
"Everybody looks at your wings," you said dismissively. A half-smile graced your face.
"You’re right. They do. People admire me because of what they’re capable of. It's what people think of first when they think of me, and rightfully so. They're hard to ignore. But when you look at me, you look at my face first, my wings second. It's like you admire them because they're a part of me, not because of what they can do. I appreciate that."
Your fingers in said feathers slowed to a stop as he spoke. You smiled a little to yourself as you brushed them against a feather. He shivered. "Your quirk is a part of who you are. That's why I like cleaning them for you. It feels like I get to give you something special, but wings or not, I'd still want you."
Falling in love with Hawks was the best and worst thing you’d ever experienced. The pleasure of those beautiful moments seeped into your soul like a warm cup of tea. But the anguish that followed after he flew out your window… there wasn't a simile that could correctly describe the immeasurable pain.
Your response must have triggered a long series of difficult thoughts for the bird. His head tilted slightly, his eyes hardened in expression and his brows furrowed as he soaked in your confession.
"In the year we've been doing this… has there ever been another man?" he pondered. The question jarred you. Occasionally, he'd get a touch possessive of his time with you. He’d asked a time or two who you were texting. You knew him well enough to pick up the hint of jealousy despite his light tone, but he never asked anything so outright.
“Well, look who's got self-doubt now. You sure are eager for a lot of questions and confessions tonight. What’s gotten into you?” you asked.
He shrugged. “You asked a question, so it's my turn now. Besides, we’ve been close for a couple of years. We've been intimate for half of that. just seems a little silly to keep up the fuck buddies act. Or is it just me?”
Fuck buddies act? You bit your lip. Hard. When he was with you he was so relaxed. This seriousness was unusual, and it made your wet skin rough with goosebumps.
"It's not just you," you confessed.
For a short while, the bathroom was filled with only the sound of the running shower as you collected your confession.
"There hasn't been another man since you. I mean… I've gone on dates a few times, but it never got that far," you replied. The moment another man kissed you… Well, kisses felt dirty if they were with anyone other than Hawks. "I know this thing you and I have going on was meant to be a no strings attached kind of affair, but… Well, if I’m being honest with you, it feels wrong trying to sleep with anyone but you. I like what we have, and I've always got the impression that you really do, too."
He didn't say anything. You weren't sure whether or not that was what he wanted to hear.
"Have you?" you asked. "Been with anyone else?"
You’d never asked before. At first, it was because it didn't feel like your business. Then, when the thought eventually made your heart ache, you didn't ask because you didn't want to know. But now that you had come clean, it only felt fair that he did, too.
Air left his nose and his head bobbed back until his wet hair pressed against the shower stall.
"Once,” he confessed, and he sounded ashamed now that he knew you never did. “I used to have this on again, off again thing, before I knew you. I messed with her a few weeks after you and I first… well, you know. But only once, then never again.”
You’d thought it would crush you to learn he’d been with someone else, but it didn’t sting like you thought it would. Probably because you didn't know specifics. If you knew what woman had her hands on him, if you could see it, it probably would destroy you. But the apologetic way he said it put your heart at ease. He mumbled like he knew it would hurt you, and he didn’t want it to. But you weren’t wounded, and your feelings weren’t perturbed. He never promised you anything, just as you’d never made promises to him.
“Why’d you stop seeing her?” you asked as you scooted closer to smooth shampoo suds down in his hair. He only shrugged at first, then sighed in contemplation when your fingers combed along his scalp.
“I’ve never had a place I could go to, you know?” he said. “I’ve never had somewhere like this, where I can lay my head for a little while and just be…”
“Pampered?” you suggested as your hands moved to massage his shoulder blades between his wings.
He breathed out a little laugh, but shook his head. “Yeah, but that’s not what I was thinkin’.”
“Out with it then,” you teased.
“Well… I’ve never had somewhere I’ve felt safe and... cared about?” he said, though his eyes were distant and lost when he said it, as if he wasn’t sure he should have.
“I gotta always be looking over my shoulder. Gotta always have a mask on and hope no one ever sees through it. But here, everything’s relaxed. You couldn’t care less what my ranking on some chart is or how much money is in my pocket. You don't give a shit about heroing or the tabloids. You’re the only person in my life who asks for nothing other than my company. I feel human here. I didn’t want to jeopardize that, or what I had with you. That’s why I stopped seeing her.”
Your mouth went dry. While your nights were long and passionate, you’d never whispered sweet nothings. You’d never told him how much he and his company meant to you because you felt he wouldn’t want to hear it, but he kept coming back. For a year he had clung wordlessly to what little affection you gave him. If he’d told you this a year prior, you would have given him so much more love.
“So you do have deeper feelings for me. Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”
He was silent, as you’d expected him to be. He both craved and feared the closeness he’d formed with you. At times he’d drown you in sweet little bits of affection, but, when things got too deep, he would shut down. Through the last couple of years, you’d broken through a lot of his walls, but the cold influence of the commission would always be with him. Even if he was in love with you, he’d never understand how to tell you.
"Because of who I am when I fly out your window,” he began. The reverb of his voice against the shower stall took you off guard. You didn’t expect him to answer. "There are things I know you want from me… things that I can’t give you right now, and you deserve more than that. That’s why I never planned on telling you… Fuck. It was never supposed to be like this…”
He spoke more to himself than he did to you at that moment. There was an internal battle going on in his mind; one you'd never really be able to understand, but you wanted to try.
"You mean you never meant to get attached?"
His silence was telling.
"It's okay," you said. "We don't have to talk about anything you don't want to." You took a hold of his hand, but he flinched away from you. He was regressing back into old habits. It had been months since he’d last recoiled to your affection. Something was terribly wrong. The recoil was fine. It was okay. Whatever he needed to feel comfortable. "I'm sorry-"
"No, I'm sorry," he interrupted. He rubbed the wrist you had touched as if you'd burned him. His brow was knit and his mouth became a harsh line. "Sometimes it feels easy and other times it doesn't, but I'm trying."
"I know you are. Like I said, we don't have to talk about feelings."
He stared at you, and the longer his gaze rested on your face, the softer it became, "I want to try."
You nodded and wrapped your arms around your naked knees. The shower had been turned off long ago by a cluster of his feathers, but the soothing steam still lingered around you.
“It's just… this is difficult. One day someone may shoot me out of the sky. The thought of you still being right here, waiting for me, when I can never come back… It... kills me." He paused, his eyes hazed over as he swallowed his emotion down. The rawness in his voice struck such an unpleasant chord that your own eyes pricked with bitter water. "That's why I didn’t want attachments like this. But I didn't mean for all this between you and me. You snuck into me slowly, I didn't even notice until it was too late."
"Is this supposed to be flattering? It sounds like you're likening me to a parasite or something- heartworm," you quipped in an effort to dispel the heavy tension. He smiled, but only for a moment before he rolled his eyes at you.
"Just… listen to me," he said, and your eyes trained on his as your mouth closed. "If that ever happens… If there comes a day you've been waiting for me, only to find out I'm never coming back, please know that I cared for you."
He didn't use the word love, but that's very much what he was trying to convey. In a way, you’d kind of always knew. It was why he’d said it, how he’d said it, that made your eyes prick with tears at their corners. The thought of what he was implying petrified you. Hawks was so skilled, so powerful, so almighty. Despite all his power, though, he was human, just like you. The night you’d met proved how possible death was for him. Nothing could keep him safe forever, not even your forcefields.
But he’d never talked like this before. He was always so light-hearted and relaxed. His work and the dangers associated with it was off the menu of conversion topics. What had happened to bring all this darkness up now?
"You talk like you’re preparing for death."
Again, he didn’t reply. His silence was more terrifying than anything he could have said, but trying to pry him open would only break him, it seemed. So you didn’t.
“May I kiss you?” you asked instead.
You leaned forward and breathed into his ear. He shivered when you placed a gentle kiss on the shell of it. His earring pressed against your lip was a gentle and familiar feeling, but after you heard all he had to say it also felt fleeting. He always had some ulterior motive or hidden reason for every little thing he did. It's as if he said all this because tomorrow would be the day he was gone.
“I’m not preparing to die.” Your kiss gave him the courage to speak. "I have too much to live for. It’s just always a possibility- for anybody, really. But heroes especially. I just wanted it off my chest is all."
He smiled at you, but you’d seen every smile in his repertoire, and this one was faker than your stick-on-backsplash. The air never felt so tense between you. Not even the night you met, dying feet away from each other. It all felt so… heavy. The weight of it pressed hard into your chest.
“Er, this reminds me, while we're on topic, I got some things going on at the agency. I hate to say it, but you won't see me again for a little while. I don’t know how long. It could be a couple of months.” His disposition remained fake casual. His shoulders and face were relaxed as he enjoyed the steam of the shower, but his wings tensed. You felt it in your palms as you preened him.
"You're in trouble," you said. Your mouth went dry as the realization drained the color from your face.
"Trouble? Me? Nah. Just work stuff."
He spoke with a relaxed air about him, but he couldn’t lie to you.
"No. You've been acting off all night. You’ve been making all these confessions. Talking about death, telling me you're going away for a while. I know you better than you think I do; something big happened and you're trying to tie up loose ends in case you don't get out of it okay," you rambled, and the more you talked the higher your voice became. It trembled and wavered with building fear.
He stared at you. That silly face of his melted into a thin line and sharp, angular eyes. Those tricks worked when no one was close enough to see through them, but you knew his genuine smile like the back of your hand. You saw right through his facade, and he was annoyed by the very determination he just prided you for.
"Can't get anything past you, can I?"
You didn't whimper, but your eyes became glossy with emotion. It was a strange mixture of panic, sorrow, and rage. You had no idea what he'd gotten into, but you also knew he would never tell. He placed preserving missions above all else, which made sense but was frustrating.
"I don't know what's going on, but you need to get out of it if you're thinking it's something you may not come back from."
"Things aren't that simple. I chose this life, I gotta follow through."
"No, I chose to be a nurse when I was sixteen and understood the implications of what I'd have to go through. You were fucking six when the commission took you, and they spent all that time gaslighting and taking advantage of you-"
"We aren’t talking about that right now, don't use it against me.”
"Use it- what? I'm not using anything against you! You’re the one alluding to death! There’s nothing wrong at the agency, there’s something else- something terrible-"
“How can I?!”
"Because I said so." His eyes were narrow and mouth a tight, thin line. You could read him so well. He was regretting this. All of this, because now you were onto whatever suicide mission he was embarking on. But, as his lover, how could you just sit back and silently watch him throw himself into a danger that had even him shaken?
You got louder, and he got louder. You tossed bitter, confused words back and forth until he was screaming. Until you were screaming back at him. Your calm, laid back demeanor slipped through your fingers the moment you realized he could be in over his head. That, if you let him leave, this could be the last night you’d ever spend with him. Your anger was driven by your fear for his life, and his was driven by your inability to let it go.
He was still screaming. You were still screaming. You were fighting him. He just told you you were the most important person in his life, and you were spitting venom.
Your hand came to your bare chest as it heaved in an attempt to steady your breath. The other came up to wipe the tears budding in your eyes. He looked away from you, his brow tugged heavily downward, his jaw clenched together in shame.
"Let’s just breathe, okay?" you pleaded.
"Don't apologize," you whimpered into your hand. "Out of everyone in the world, you're the last who needs to say sorry, so don't. It's just- it's not right, okay? You're too… I don't know, selfless? I watch all the time as that gets taken advantage of. Doesn’t it get tiring? Even your name is some dirty secret. I've been sleeping with you for a year and I don't even know what it is-"
"Yes, you do," he argued, his lip wavered with weakness for one vulnerable moment. "You know me- you know my name."
Desperation laced between his words and strung the sentence together. It wasn't easy to see your lover look at you that way, just begging for you to let pieces of him go. It was hard to accept it, but whatever name he went by prior to heroism didn't exist anymore. Neither did the once innocent child it belonged to. You tried to respect that, but it was unfair he was denied a basic human right: to have a name.
"You're Hawks, I know, I'm sorry… it's just… how much is left of yourself that actually belongs to you? How long until there’s nothing left to give? People have taken so much from you that you’ve become numb to it; do you even know what you're missing out on? Do you even know how lonely you are? When’s the last time anybody even asked if you were okay?"
He realized, then, that you weren't angry at him.
You were angry for him.
His eyes shifted to yours, and he nibbled at his bottom lip before he muttered with the quirk of his mouth: “Well, you ask me that pretty much every time you see me.”
There it was. The crack in your voice. The crinkle of your nose and the tremble of your lip. You cried, and he sat there across from you, still bare as his wings lowered to either side of you. His expression didn't change, and, for once, you couldn't read it. You didn't want to be so upset, but knowing he was in some kind of dangerous trouble that shook even him was too much for you to bear.
"I’m sorry I jumped to conclusions. It’s just… Do you have any idea how many heroes I've wheeled into the morgue? People die on my table all of the time. Every time is just as hard as the last, but the heroes- those are the ones that destroy me. Because every time someone in a cape lands on the table I know their families are waiting for them at home, just like I wait here for you.
"I saved you once, but you're so far away from me, too far for my forcefields to reach you. Hearing you say you’re going away- all I can think of is coming into work one day and finding you c-... covered in a sheet."
His wings moved up from the shower floor. The feathers were dark with dampness as their joints pressed into your back. You sat there like that as he let you cry. Really, what else could he have done? What else could you have done? Of course you were angry. You would be for the rest of your life over how his panned out. His childhood was taken from him, his understanding of human affection was still stunted, even after all the time you spent gently undoing what damage had been done. Now he talked like one wrong move would end it all.
"It's… difficult," he began, though he couldn't make eye contact with you. He usually couldn't when you had discussions like this. "Being a hero isn’t what I imagined I would be when I was a kid. And sometimes I do ask myself: 'what is this all for? There's always going to be a new bad guy. Why does it matter?' And then I think about you…"
He went silent for a moment; you could see the little battle behind his eyes. The battle between his affection deprived confusion and his need to be closer to you. To explain himself.
"I think about you and it reminds me there are good people who are worth fighting for. As long as you are here and there are bad people out there that could hurt you, I have to be out there, too. And, yeah, sometimes I get afraid. But as long as I have these wings, I'm going to use them to keep this world safe for you."
He’d never felt so close to you, and yet so far away. He thought even more of you than you anticipated. A part of you felt touched you'd become a cornerstone for his sanity in such a hostile world, but the other part felt sick. If he wanted to fight for you, that was fine.
But to die for you; that would be unforgivable.
The urge to argue the worth of his life weighed heavy on your heart. If you did, he would call you hypocritical, considering your own history of self-sacrifice. It wasn’t the same, though. His self-worth depended on his usefulness to others and little else, and you feared the day that usefulness ran out. What would Hawks be, if not a hero? It should have such a simple answer, like what you would be if not a nurse. But it didn't. It never would.
You leaned forward to pull him into a tight hug. Perhaps when he was anywhere else you were unable to protect him, but right there, in your arms, you'd use whatever you could to keep him safe. Your bubbles, your kind words, anything.
"I understand," you said, because you knew there were no words that could keep him away from the hero path. It wasn't just a part of his identity; it was all he'd ever known. "Just… don't forget when the heroing is said and done, you'll always have a place here if you need it."
He hummed a small, contented coo at your kindness. Of course, you didn't have to tell him that. He already knew. Why else would he spend so much of his precious little free time cuddled up to you?
"I'll remember," he promised as his arms and damp wings curled in to squeeze you against him.
You and Hawks bathed in the comforting darkness of your bedroom. Your window was frosted from the bitter cold outside, but his body heat kept you warm in the safety of your bed. Or nest, rather, as Hawks tended to construct mounds of tangled comforters and wadded up bedsheets to hide in as he got comfortable. You were buried beneath the mass of cloth and the cocoon of his wings as you tried to fall asleep. It was a difficult undertaking since you didn’t know when you’d see him again. You were so tired, but you wanted to be awake to hold him for what little time you had left.
You wouldn’t have gotten any sleep, anyway.
Often when Hawks slept in your bed you'd awaken at strange hours. Sometimes this was due to your own nightmares. The subject bounced between the traumatic things you’d seen at the hospital and the night you’d met. You'd wake to find that you’d encased your bed in your protective bubble during your sleep, and Hawks' wings squeezed you gently against his chest. Other nights, it was Hawks' anxiety that would keep you awake.
During the day, his guard was discreetly up. He carried carefree conversations as if unbothered, but those well-trained feathers of his were on constant guard. Really, he never had a moment to breathe. This was something you never would have understood the depths of if you weren't woken by his anxiety in the midst of the night. The anxiety he kept bottled during the day often let itself out in the form of night terrors. He'd mumble. Roll. His wings would twitch over you. His face would morph into an agonized expression, and he chirped in distress. A good, gentle shake was usually all it took to pull him out of the bad dream.
That night his nerves reared their head, though in an unorthodox way. Apparently, you did fall asleep, because you awoke with a small grumble when you felt the mattress groan, followed by a heavy weight draping over your body. You let out a long whine of displeasure, but the weight just got heavier. You turned your head and opened your eyes to find Hawks, but he wasn't gasping in his sleep. He laid over you, wings puffed but flat on either side of your bed as he stared at the bedroom door.
"Hawks? You're squishing me."
He didn't answer or turn to look at you. Those sharp eyes of his danced around in panic, his feathers raised as they sensed every small movement in your apartment. You dropped your head back onto your pillow with a sigh.
"What's the matter?" you pondered.
"Shh," he hummed. "I felt something…"
You laid and listened for a short while, but all you could hear was the lady in the apartment above you walking across her floor.
"It's my neighbor."
"What if it's not?"
Whether the display was the primal instruction from the bird in him to protect his mate or if it was a by-product of the harsh reality of the life he lived, you weren't sure. Either way, his calm and almost lazy facade cracked. When the world was quiet and his feathers could sense every mundane movement in your apartment, his anxiety that those small bumps in the night might be something that could hurt you overwhelmed him.
The little display was an annoyance to your sleep-deprived brain, but his first thought in the midst of his worry was to protect you. That spared him from your groggy wrath.
"Lay down, McNugget. There's no one there," you grumbled, but he didn't turn his head away from the door.
Feeling your hand on his face seemed to snap him back into the moment, even if just a little. He leaned into you and encased you in his wings. It felt like a protective gesture, but the warmth you found beneath them made you hum pleasantly. The fluffy white cloth of his hoodie rubbed your cheeks as he cuddled into you. Well, actually, it was your hoodie.
At one time it was just some old thing you'd snagged from a thrift store on a chilly day. It was much too large for you, though. When Hawks came into your life later on, you'd cut holes out of the back and hemmed it up. That way he'd have a little something to throw on when it got chilly at your place. He never said it out loud, but he loved the thing. He'd go looking for it if you didn't leave it laying out in the living room.
"I know you usually have a lot to be afraid of, but you don't have to worry about protecting me. I'm a badass, remember?" you whispered into the shell of his ear. His shoulders relaxed just a bit, and he puffed out a little chuckle.
"Yeah, I know. I just… I want you to be safe. That's all."
Your gaze softened, though he couldn't see it in the darkness. You didn't need Hawks to protect you. You didn't need a hero. You needed a best friend; a lover. Between the both of you, he was the one in most need of saving.
"Shh," you hummed gently. Your hair lifted from your pillow and danced slowly around your face as if gravity was lost to you. He scrunched his nose as your locks brushed his cheeks, and his wings settled flat as a ring rose from the floor around your bed. The translucent wall came together above your bodies to form a hard, bubble shell.
"You've been the hero long enough. Let me be the protector tonight,” you said. His throat bobbed against your shoulder as his arms wound around you. He settled, but you still felt his unease.
“What’s got your feathers ruffled?”
“You shouldn’t have to protect me,” he said. His voice was muffled since his mouth was pressed into your skin, but you still heard the sadness in it. “I should be taking care of you.”
You blinked as you soaked in his words. For a year you pined for such romantic things to come out of his mouth. Of course he’d wait for a night like that night to say such sickeningly sweet things. The future that used to feel so full of mystery and excitement had become dangerous, uncertain, and disappointing.
“You don’t have to be the hero every time,” you replied.
“But if I’m not a hero, what am I?”
His question was an echo of your fears. The ambient light from your window filtered dimly into your forcefield, but your eyes couldn’t adjust with tears in them.
“I don't know if I have the answer you're looking for, but... Do you remember when I was in the hospital?" you asked. "When you first came to see me you brought a twenty-piece box of chicken nuggets, and while I was trying to eat one you laughed until you were crying because it looked vaguely like a penis.”
“Vaguely? It had balls and everything,” he recalled, and you rolled your watering eyes.
“Whatever. It was stupid, but it was the first time I laughed since I was trapped in that hospital. And, well… when they said I’d never walk again you helped me out of bed. I cried myself to sleep some nights, but you were there, still trying to save me. You were trying to be a hero then, too, but you became my best friend. If nothing else, that's what you’ll always be to me.”
A sound came out of him akin to laughter. You shot him a look, then hooked your finger under his chin. You wanted to see his dumb grin when you berated him for poking fun at you. When his eyes met yours, though, they weren’t crinkled with laughter. They were red and watering.
“Oh, Hawks,” you breathed, and he tucked his face back into your arm to hide his vulnerability. He never cried before. At least not in front of you. He was always the immovable one, virtuous and strong. Moments like this reminded you just how human he was beneath it all.
“I’m right here. I’ve got you,” you assured him in a whisper. Gentle promises spilled from your lips like lullabies, and he clung to every word with heart-breaking desperation. You whispered every sweet nothing you could think of to ease his pain, but you didn’t have that kind of power.
You had no power at all.
His world always seemed scary to you. You feared for his life every day, but the thought of him being ripped from your arms overwhelmed you that night more than it ever had before. The protective bubble that encased your bed would keep him safe for as long as you could fight sleep, but what of the morning? You’d be safe at home, and he’d be lost somewhere in the dangerous fray of his duties. Far away from your warmth and the apartment he found so much comfort in.
This would not be the last time you held him. You had to believe that, but what if it was? What if this sleepless night was your last together?
Tell him you love him, you thought to yourself. Tell him before you never get the chance again.
You bit your lip as you felt his trembling breaths on your collar. You prepared your lips for the taste of the confession, but he was so vulnerable, more so than he may have ever been before. He didn’t need you to tell him about your affections, he needed you to use them.
You placed a reassuring crown of kisses along his forehead, and he gripped you so hard his knuckles were surely white.
When you’d cried as a child, your mother would lay in your bed and sing lullabies until you fell asleep. Your voice was untrained and awkward compared to hers, but you tried your best to use it. Your off-key tune echoed back to you in the dome of your forcefield, and your cheeks pinkened with how childlike it sounded. Your embarrassment interrupted your lullaby. He stirred against your chest.
“Don’t stop,” he said. “Please, sing to me.”
You cleared your throat as you gathered the courage to start again. His eyes fell closed as your song settled into the safety of your shield. His feathers relaxed, and his face went slack as sleep slowly overtook him. You sang until his tears stopped flowing. You sang until he was asleep in your arms. For as long as you could, you laid awake. If you succumbed to sleep, so would your forcefield. So would your promise to keep him protected through the night. As time moved slowly forward, sleep inevitably began to settle into you, too. It was as terrifying and as peaceful as death.
“I love you,” you whimpered as you felt your eyes grow too heavy to fight back open. “Please… stay safe.”
A massive thank you to my wonderful friend and editor, @fuwafuwagem! If you thought the fic looked especially polished, it’s thanks to her efforts!
Also a big thank you to my buddies and beta readers: @dendriticheep and @narcolepticroses! Thanks you guys for being such sweet friends to me ;u;
And a huge thanks to YOU, for reading !
I’d love to do a lot more fanfictions like these! If you have any suggestions or requests for animations or animated stories like this one feel free to submit it to me!
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