Growing Proximity

by WCLaine
Tags   drama   hurtcomfort   relationships   bnha   hawks   hawksxoc   dabi   | Report Content




Waiting until both the inner glass door and then the one to the hallway had clicked shut, the owner of the building scanned the figure sat comfortably in what most would consider a tense, even awkward setting.

"You two seem very close."

Eyes down on her task of rummaging through her purse, Zero hummed in recollection. "There was an abandoned house between hers and where I used to live. Due to my family's reputation and the imagination of kids, there were rumours that it was haunted. Kids used to bully her all the time; she couldn't even play in her own garden because the local delinquents found her an easy target."

"Lemme guess, you saved her?"

"I made her save herself." Green eyes shot up and locked on his as a white stick danced between full lips. "I don't find there's any point in coddling people if the situation is continuous - it only makes things worse in the long run."

Hawks' brow lowered as he kept watch on the woman filling out an iridium coloured backless top and matching suit trousers. "Is that so?"

"I have five older siblings and several more older cousins who have always lived in close proximity. I was the youngest until twelve years ago and I was no stranger to being bullied, so yeah: I'd certainly say so." Looking up with an unlit cigarette between her lips, she jut her thumb over her shoulder. "I'm going for a smoke-"

"Can you take it on the roof?"

"Ah, yeah, I forgot. You top heroes have an image to uphold." Standing, she nodded upwards in cue for him to direct her to where she should go.

"That's a little presumptuous. I happen to revel in my lack of image."

Holding the length of her bag strap in her left hand, she stood and walked to the directed fire exit at the far end of the room. "Says the man who has made an image out of not upholding the path of the regular do-gooder."

"Oh," holding the heavy-duty door open, his arm outstretched past her cheek, Hawks lowered his head to bring them eye-to-eye, "so you've heard of me?"



"That's really your best line?" Rolling black-slicked eyes, she ducked under his arm and stepped out into the winter chill and up-thrust of inner-city lights from the bustle below.

Cocking his head as he watched the tattooed back make for the far railing, Hawks had to blink thrice to restart his thought process.

"Honestly, I expected much more from you."

"Why's that then?"

Hooking the strap of her bag on her right shoulder in order to fish something out, the woman kept her eyes on the civilians and flashing city lights down below. "There are plenty of fan-sites for you, and forums with you as the topic are updated hourly-"

Grinning at the words, the man ambled to meet the woman at the barrier. "-Have you been stalking me-"

"-You and all the other top fifty." Resting a bottle of Western booze on the frozen ledge, she unscrewed the lid and held it out to her company. However, the look on the man's face was not one of someone about to merry-make.

"That kinda felt like you just kicked me in the nuts."

"I'm not a groupie - I'm trying to decide where I want my life to go."

"I'm sorry, but I won't ever do something so cliché as to ambush-propose to you."

Head falling back and bare shoulder blades shaking against the railing around the perimeter of the roof three floors up, Zero sparked the end of her vice. "I meant whether I should go into teaching, or finally join an association."

"Are you trying to ask me for a job?"

"Depends - will you gimme one?"

"Do you have to word it like that?"

"Does it make you uncomfortable?"

"I'm not used to speaking candidly or informally with people any more."

"Well, I happen to hate pretentious formality: you're the number two hero, but I'm older and have been doing the job longer. Doesn't that kinda make us even?"

"I feel like I've just had déjà vu." Leaning his elbow on the railing, he squinted at the cityscape. "Those words in your voice seem really familiar."

Turning around and leaning backwards, her hair dancing with the smoke from her vice in the wind, the woman kept her eyes on the starless sky above. "It wouldn't surprise me if you did. I was on the news recently."

"Oh-Eugh-Ahhh-You're that one!" He pointed an accusing finger when something physically clicked in his brain. "I knew I heard the name and with your hair back like that-" Brows raising and eyes widening, his posture expanded as he shielded his face with one hand. "You're the one who brought in those guys from Saitama last week."

"Yeah..." her voice trailed off as she turned away and waited for the inevitable.

Closing the gap between them, the man rested folded arms next to the woman's back-bent elbow. Shit-eating grin morphing his features, Hawks rested his left cheek on his forearm and gazed up at the scowl beside him. "They really did you dirty with those pictures in the news. What did you do to piss off practically every news site?"

"The week before I said that all news outlets were fascists who agree on utilitarianism because those at the top are the apparent 'good guys', and that they would change their tune quicker than the pied piper not getting paid if villains took over." Groaning at the recollection, she rolled her right shoulder, the clicking audibly obvious with each rotation. "It was a whole thing and I don't wanna talk about it."

"Despite that scowl and your penchant for eating the gifts you buy for others, you're actually a barrel, aren'tcha?"

"I knew I put weight on, but a bar-"

"-Of laughs. A barrel of laughs."

"You seem to be one of the few who seem to think so."

"People don't like change, 'never had." Shrugging, the man stared off as a strange look overtook his features. "I saw a highlight video of you fight those guys last week. Honestly, I think you did a brilliant job, but I don't think parents would like you teaching their kids with the press you gained."

"Thanks for the update. Private tutoring was more of the option to begin with; I'm not great with crowds or public speaking."

"I can't see why. You're really fuckin' charmin'."

Head slowly turning to the side, she glared down on the man leaning over the barrier. "Are you taking the piss outta me?"

Hands shooting up in defence, Hawks shook his head. "I'm being deadly serious."

"Oh God, the rumours are true."


Cocking her head, something between a gawp and a grin stretched her lips. "You really do try to pick up anything with a pulse and a pair of tits."

"That's really unfair."

"Oh, yeah?"

"If it was like that, I would have sent you out the back door."

She stared at him for a few seconds and the stoic expression which drove everyone away crumbled. "You're one cheeky little twat."

"Please don't attack my height like that."

"Honestly, people made out like you were four foot tall from their personal meetings with you. I guess it just goes to show you can't trust everything you read."

"There's plenty about me you shouldn't believe."

"'You sure, 'cause I haven't found any grievances about you. How do I say this without offending your delicate sensibilities-"

"-I don't have any-"

"-You have a helluva lot of people claiming to have been one of your conquests and none of them have had any complaints."

"Exactly, don't believe that - I make them all sign non-disclosures."

"I dunno whether to laugh or take you seriously."

Shrugging himself around, Hawks mirrored the woman's lounge of having his back against the support, his elbows resting on the railing by his ribs. "Like anyone in the public eye, lies and rumours are spread. I work more than eighteen hours a day most days, and when I'm not doing that, I sleep, do laundry and watch TV like any other normal person. There's not much time for me to get into trysts."

"Are you calling me not normal?"

"W-what did I say this time?"

"I don't watch TV."

"Bullshit. Everyone watches TV."

"Not me."

"Fuck, you must be the weirdest chick I've met."

"Yeah, 'cause not watching television is so strange." Glancing up as she puffed smoke-rings from her vice, Zero quirked her right brow. "Hell, it's not even my weirdest trait."

"What is?" He asked but held up a lax hand with a smirk when she sent him a look. "More people take part in cosplaying furries and executing mass-executions than those who don't watch TV."

"I'd much rather listen to music than see what people deem 'important' these days. Of course, I get told what is going on in the world by associates, and I actively search through independent news outlets, but television is horrendous for its repetition of non-issues and reality shows'; nobody lives like that."

"You have clearly never seen 'Say Yes To The Dress'."

"Nah, I haven't - I can think of at least ten things off the top of my head to do in my free time rather than watch someone pick out dresses I'm never going to wear - which I assume is the case, given the name of the program - picking dresses."

"It's pretty popular amongst women your age. Apparently."

"Lemme guess, it's about a woman with a man in her life with way too much money trying to force her into marriage as the other women in her life are all fake friends...."

"I-uh-yeah...pretty much..."

"Lived it; I don't need to watch it second-hand another go 'round."

"I thought you said you were proposed to - you didn't say you were married."

"I'm not, any more."

"Did the spark run out after the honeymoon phase?"

"There was no 'honeymoon phase'. It was just seven years of out-right venomous hatred." Taking a long drag on her vice, the woman glanced to her company sipping from the bottle she offered. "And then I killed him."

Almost gagging the liquid back up, Hawks' eyes squeezed shut at the burn in the back of his throat. "Whut?"

"I'm jus' playin'. About the killing him part - he's still alive...unfortunately."

Wiping his mouth with the back of his wrist, he handed the bottle back. "Fuck, that got real dark, real quick."

"It's not dark for me. My family doesn't believe in divorce, but I couldn't give him a child, and that was part of the contract, so-"

"-A contract?"

"Really, that's what you took from that conversation?" Turning around, her bust brushed past his shoulder and knocked him on the side of the face from the proximity which had diminished, "is this the kind of conversation two people who just met should be having? It's ruining my mood."

"I actually just want to hold you and pat your back."

"You do such a thing and I'll snap your wings like I'm cleaning my KFC order; I don't want your sympathy, nor do I need it. You asked me a question and I answered you - it's not your problem - nor mine, any more."

"So, you're one of them?"

Almost frazzling at the phrase, Zero's eyes shot wide as her jaw clenched. "One of what?"

"An emotionally stunted adult-child who can't own up to your feelings?"

Opening her mouth to rebuke, she sucked nicotine into her lungs and forced herself to lean back. He had practically used one of the exact same lines one of her older brothers used to goad her with on the regular. She learnt to hold back from her siblings' teasing; she certainly wouldn't give in to the 'fuqboi' hero's weak prodding.

"Actually..." Sniffling her nose clear of the putrid city air, she turned away and stubbed her vice out. Forearms plastered on the metal railing, she licked her teeth when her brows narrowed in remembrance. "I did come here for a reason other than some good ol' catch-up with an old friend."

"That was a very shitty segue, y'know?"

"Well, I certainly didn't come here because I heard of your unbound wisdom and degree in psychology."

"Fair enough. Why are you here?"

Sliding narrowed eyes to meet his, Zero rested her chin on her arms with a 'whatever' flutter of her lashes. "I didn't want to tell Hana, but there is a group of four who are follow young women home from traditional places like Rakugo theatres and Onsen near cities."

"You're here for a job? I thought that guy was just a weirdo tailing women on day-trips." Counting off his fingers, Hawks recalled the case from a few days ago. "I heard another company were looking into it and the ranking was pretty low, so I took care of some other stuff."

"It was the same in Tokyo a couple of weeks back, but if you track the pattern of the coach trips, you can see they're clearly targeting women taking part in traditional activities - which started on the first day of winter."

"So you're here to catch a peeping Tom who acts on his desires?"

"Toms - there's four of them; UA lent out some of their recently-graduated to track the prints which followed the girls on their hot spring vacations, traditional theatre, and temples usually visited during winter. Or at least, the start of it until they were ogled and ran for their goddamn lives."

"Why didn't my little raven call me to tell me?"

"Because he was here with you when I got news of it..."

"That would explain it."

"Call the teacher's lounge at UA if you're worried about it."

"They'll probably be shut by now."

Taking out her cell phone, the stranger scrolled through the numbers. After a few rings, a grunt signalled she had gotten through. "Sorry for calling you so late, Sho, but I'm in Fukuoka right now and the number two hero wants to know some details."

"Who's calling?"

The woman shot to her feet and gnashed at the bitter air. Chewing the scenery, the force she exuded caused Hawks to take two steps back. "I dunno if I should be more annoyed you didn't see my name come up, or that you don't know my voice!"

"Ah, Zero Chan?"

"Yes. I'm glad you can finally recall."

"You're the only person who would scream at someone down the phone at this time of the night that has my number. Wait," there was a brief pause, "how do you have my number?"

"I'm going to kick you in the neck next time we meet."

"I'd rather you didn't."

"I'm going to-"

"-What did you need?"

"I just really wanted to hear your voice, Senpai~"

"I'm going to hang up..."

"So rude." Switching her weight from one foot from another, the woman dropped the faux-cute act. "Can you ask Tokoyami if he wants to come down here for the weekend to work on his placement? I have a job that will be good for him."

"That's why you're calling me at this time?"

Instead of ranting her personal discrepancies, Zero refreshed the teacher's memory of the creepers who had been making their way up the country.

"Also, I would like it if you could print out a waiver and hand it to that gloomy-looking kid from 1C; I'll take him, too." Tweaking the end of a fresh cigarette, the woman cracked the knuckles of her free hand by extending her fingers. "Tell them both not to worry about expenses 'cause I'll cover it."

"I guess your type hasn't changed."

"Don't say things like that - someone will definitely get the wrong idea."

"Tokoyami and Hitoshi, I got it. I'll meet with them first thing in the morning and let you know what's going on before nine. Anything else I can do for you?"



"What are you wearing right now?"

"Goodnight, Zero Chan."

Snort-chucking at the same-old flat voice and then the abrupt dial tone, the woman shoved her cell into the pocket of her slacks. Licking her lips becoming dry with the harsher winter weather of the North, the blonde looked to her company. "Well, you heard it. We got all of our team bar one or two, depending on if Hana's busy tomorrow."

"Yeah, I got it - you're into Eraserhead."

Pulling back to get a good look at her company's face, Zero tilted her head. "I had a crush on him in high school and I admire him still, but into him? Ah, I'm not sure if that's the case. We're good friends even though he pretends to not know who I am most of the time."

"Isn't that just you being delusional?"

"That's what he wants people to think but he, Hizashi and I were close during high school. Even though I'm always changing where I use as a base, we meet up regularly."

"Like, 'casual friends'?"

"No, like actual friends. The kind that grabs dinner and drinks too much, unintentionally end up making idiots of ourselves at karaoke at 3am, and rip each other the following day when we check our camera rolls."

"The following day, eh? I take it you're in close proximity then."

"Yeah, we share hotel floors and bar booths when we're not kicked out."

"Sharing sleeping space is pretty intimate."

"You're starting to sound kinda concerned, ya'know?"

Taking the bottle out of a loose grip, Hawks chugged two full shots before straightening his head. Eyes landing on the woman's, he sucked in a deep breath of what he planned to be fresh air, but all he got was perfume and a tinge of nicotine. "Lots of things can happen when people are drunk."

"It's difficult for me to get drunk and I'm not the type to take advantage of a man when they trust me enough to get in that state around me."

"That's a shame." Keeping his eyes on the woman, Hawks held a pause, for effect, she was sure. "'Cause I know a great place near that hotel you were talking about earlier."

"How convenient. I happened to have brought along some traditional-wear."

"Don't tell me that; I love a chick in a kimono."

"Maybe Hana was right," straightening up and taking the bottle back, she made for the emergency exit. Waving the bottle at shoulder height in a wagging motion, Zero grooved to an upbeat tune coming from a club on the street behind the building. "Perhaps her leaving us unsupervised was not for the best."



Updated: 9th July 2020 - 17:23



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