[A Few Hours Later...]
The angry rolling of a wheelie suitcase rumbled behind the woman marching down the crowded street leading up to the train station. Keeping in time as if he was taking a leisurely stroll, Hawks grinned at the growing irritation of the female beside him.
"Ya'know, if you keep scowling like that, you'll never make it into the popularity polls."
Shrugging the strap of her purse and a hold-all up her shoulder and hitching forward every time the wheel of her case caught on a crack in the pavement - which happened to be more often than not - Zero turned her head to glare at the man who had been walking with her for the past thirty minutes.
"How the hell do you even know I'm scowling when I'm wearing sunglasses?"
"I dunno. It may have something to do with the crease between your eyebrows and the fact you've been white-knucklin' it since we met back up after the hotel."
Grinding her teeth for her situation, the feeling of un-well-being, and the remark from the man, Zero snorted a burst of air out of her nose and continued as if she meant to go on. The winds had picked up, the temperatures had dropped and although she didn't mind the cold as much as her body was making out, other civilians had bundled up and were taking up more space than was necessary. Worst of all, it was getting close to Christmas so the narrow city walkways were even more cramped and frantic than usual. Not to mention the rabbles of small children screaming at the top of their lungs about wanting high-end gifts early and the same-old repeating irritating jingles from department stores jibed her the wrong way. That, indeed, did bother her.
"I just want to stuff my face with fatty foods, get out of these clothes and have a bath."
"Nobody's stopping you."
"Because of the expected weather, we have to catch this train or else we'll not be able to get to the inn until the day after tomorrow; I didn't even get a chance to have a shower because of that girl passed out in the hotel tub..."
"You do know I could have just carried us, right?"
"Yeah, and our luggage too? Sorry, but I have my reservations about letting you carry me anywhere in optimal weather five feet off the ground, let alone during an incoming blizzard with extra weight over mountainous land."
"But I was really looking forward to saying 'good evening, this is your pilot speaking' though..."
Zero paused at the top of the escalators which led to their platform to look at the man who had somehow become one of the country's most well-known and loved faces. Blinking twice behind blacked-out shades covering the middle third of her face held up by rims composed of tiny pewter skulls, the woman took a deep breath and stepped into the ebb and flow of foot traffic without a word before she could be caught up in the flurry of commuters.
"Why'd you look at me like that and then not say anything?"
"As I said, how do you even know how I looked at you?"
"I felt it in my heart."
Making it to the platform they needed to be at, the number-two-hero stood his case upright beside his legs in order to use both index fingers to push at the corners of his grin. "I happen to be a highly intelligent fella."
"Nobody who is actually smart boasts about it."
Cocking his brow, Hawks let out a puff of air, his breath instantly becoming condensation in the evening chill of the open platform. "Where's the fun in working so hard if you can't show off every once in a while?"
"It's in the satisfaction of just knowing for yourself."
Hands in his pockets and leaning forward a little to get a better look at his company's face, he hummed in suspicion. "Is that enough for you?"
Corners of her lips twitching, Zero turned her head to face the man. "I think you must be the only person stood in such close proximity that's ever bothered to ask me that. And you're not even in me." Fixing the collar of his jacket up around his neck, the woman gave a small smile.
"I'm a considerate guy like that; I'm always looking out for my buddies."
A slight snort escaped the woman and she turned back to the direction of the tracks a few feet ahead and below. "I, for one, don't mind people underestimating me - it makes things easier in the long run if people think I'm a dolt: minimum input, maximum output. I thought you of all people would appreciate that credo."
"I really can't decide what you're about."
Licking glossy lips, long nails trailed past his lobes and down his chest. "Good; that's the way I like things."
Slinging his bent elbow onto the top of the shoulder closest to him as they lined up to file inside the oncoming train, Hawks beamed up with an eye-smile as he rested his chin atop of his upper arm. "I'm not mad about it."
"That's wonderful for you, Bird-Boy."
Pulling back a little, the younger man puckered his lips and held a thoughtful finger to them. Ignoring the strangers taking their pictures of the pair sharing lax skin-ship while they waited for the train to come to a full-stop, Hawks hummed aloud. "You're acting a little cold. Is it 'cause we didn't do the dirty?"
Head jerking to look him in the eye, Zero's teeth gnashed at the frigid air that was in the closing gap between them. "Are you looking to get on the evening news? If that's your intention, I could oblige you by plucking you like a Christmas turkey in front of all these people."
"I'm just saying. It's not like I didn't try - you were pretty adamant about not doing anything...That's why I was so surprised about going a full-frontal this morni-"
An elbow connected with Hawks' gut and a hard plastic wheel ran over his toe when the woman absconded inside the carriage. "-I get motion sickness." Without looking back to see the damage she'd dealt, Zero nudged her way through the crowd.
Hissing at the sudden assault of the female's attack and then the frantic rush of other commuters trying to fight their way into the correct carriage, Hawks hobbled after his companion. "E-eh...?" Hurrying inside the public transport, Hawks chased after the woman heading for their designated seats in First Class. "But doesn't your quirk work based on transportation? Actually, why didn't you just zap yourself to the inn? We could have made a wager on who got there first."
"You literally just stripped my ability down to the most basic level possible in a single sentence. It really is not that simple." Putting her largest case on the railing above her seat by the window, Zero dropped down onto the surprisingly comfortable upholstery, although the curve of it was a little too narrow for her hips. "And besides, I always make sure I arrive first. In all cases."
"Tell me about it."
"Now why would I do that?"
"Do you not trust me?"
"I would say 'I trust you about as far as I could throw you', but I reckon I'd hit a pretty good distance."
"Is that a no?"
"Don't take it personally. I don't trust anyone, as cliche as it sounds."
"Not even Hana Chan?" Leaning over the female, Hawks tiptoed to stow his luggage on the same rack while his travelling companion's knees and hold-all were in the way.
Eyes level with the defined V of his hips peeking from under his raised t-shirt, Zero itched the outer corner of her brow with twisted lips. Turning her face away to provoke any unnecessary cues, she leaned into the frame as not to be in direct contact with his crotch. "Didn't I just say anyone?" The last thing either of them needed was being photographed from a bad angle. Or her hair getting caught in his zipper...like had happened previously with a man of lesser standing. A couple of fan-sites were already abuzz with last night's pictures that had somehow been leaked, and neither of their management teams had figured out the IP address. Hah, that was a joke alone: her having a management team. She couldn't even keep her personal cleaner after her last outburst.
Dropping down on the seat beside the woman, Hawks put his arms behind his head and wriggled to get his wings comfortable before lounging back. "I'm sure she'd love to hear that."
"I told her that a long time ago and she understands why, so we left it at that. I guess that's part of why we've been friends for so long."
"Aahhh~ it must be real nice to be so close to somebody."
"If you didn't pretend to be such a lout and played with people for the 'lulz', I'm sure you'd have people lining up in earnest to be your bestie."
"Who said I was pretending?"
"You're doing it right now. I only met you yesterday but even I can see right through that bullshit act you put on."
"Is that so?"
"All I needed was a little common sense and a short time just watching you to work out you're not the persona you like to use in order to rile people."
"Are you psychoanalyzing me?"
"It's a long train ride: it's either me telling you this right-off so you don't get any funny ideas, or we play cards for two hours and I have to warn you, I cheat."
"I never put it past you." Twisting in his seat, Hawks set his sights on his company, his back to the only other three people in the First Class cart. Much unlike the playful flirting and boyish grins he gave out in abundance, his eyes had sharpened and the corners of his lips were on the verge of pinching. "So, go on. Tell me what you saw while you were watching me, you little stalker."
"Tch, rude." Scratching the side of the mass of silver hair, Zero crossed her right leg over the left, her right flank almost shielding him as she counted off her fingers. "For a start, you're certainly not as ditzy as you make out to be and you're most definitely not lazy. There's no way in hell a slacker would make it into the top fifty, let alone become the number two hero in the country before reaching twenty five. You created your own agency at eighteen and you've consistently been highly ranked in popularity since your debut - and all that without even attending UA and getting the exposure that affords students. Honestly, I think you're a brilliant hero with solid morals and a fan-base strong enough to take you to where even Endeavor couldn't go without somebody elses' accident. The fact you have good looks and don't take yourself too seriously won't hurt your standing either."
"Wow, I was starting to think you didn't like me too much but hell," returning to leaning back in his seat and resting his head back on his arms behind his neck, Hawks grinned at the praise, "keep the compliments a'coming."
"But as a man, a person, I think there's something seriously off with you." The joy on Hawk's face faded as she made her continuation. "Everyone, even the worst liars, have the ability to play a part. Sometimes it's a Community College production, sometimes Opera House - regardless, there's always a little bit of an actor in each person. What I'm trying to work out is which part you're playing, Primo."
"Are you always this suspicious? Of course, I act up to a persona, I'm a public figure. I don't want people knowing about my personal life."
"That's quite the thing though, isn't it?" Pulling her hold-all up onto her lap, her expression was completely neutral. "You don't have a personal life, do you, Number Two Hero: the man who's just a little bit too fast, Hawks San? You rarely make public appearances for the media circuit, you mostly keep to yourself out of work hours, and your past is a complete mystery to even the most severe fans." Pulling her lips into a weird shape as she rooted through the bag almost going over to her company's personal space, Zero sniffled her nose sharply. "I mean fuck, when was the last time somebody called you by the name you were given by your parents?"
Jaw muscle pulsing, the man quirked his brow. "I'm not going to lie, if that was only from twenty four hours of simply being aware of your surroundings, it's not too shabby. However, you've been friends with Hana Chan for longer than she's been working for me, and that's been years. There's lots of information on the internet, and even more videos of me."
"Of course, but there are 'plenty of things I shouldn't believe', remember?"
Hawks' shoulder hitched and he exhaled a dismayed sigh at the fact she'd used his own words against him. He was so used to people pandering to him because of his fame that the left brow raised past her morbid skull shade-frames and the cat-like smirk on full lips felt like a breath of clean air in a world polluted with insincerity and corruption rather than a dangerously sharp read on the cards he'd been killing to keep tight to his chest. He should have felt jilted but it loosened the tension which had been tightening around his muscles and poisoning his veins for longer than he cared to recall.
Still, he couldn't let her have all of the fun.
Updated: 22nd August 2020 - 16:22
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