Growing up on Kyushu didn't mean that one's life was automatically perfect. Truth be told, there probably wasn't any island (or city) that existed without any kind of poverty at all.
For Keigo it was a life full of misery and there had already been many times when he'd just wanted to vanish. To just disappear because maybe life would've been easier then.
Though he knew it wasn't really his fault that the life he led was miserable (or at least he hoped it wasn't his fault).
It wasn't that he didn't like Kyushu - the island was nice -, it was just that he didn't like living on Kyushu. Though, truth be told, it wasn't the island's fault. It wasn't even his family's fault, not really. So maybe - just maybe - it really was Keigo's fault after all.
In the end it was him who was to blame for how little money his parents still had left - raising a child wasn't exactly cheap, you see. So maybe it was him who drove his father to rob the bank and murder the employees. Who knew?
Keigo didn't. He'd been to young, really.
What he does know though is his mother and the thin smile on her lips that would rarely reach her eyes. He was used to it by now and it was as normal as not knowing gentleness and the comfort and warmth of a loving mother.
She probably did love him, in her own way. Maybe she just wasn't meant to be a mother and didn't know how to treat the little bird-like child who ate away all their money.
He remembers Christmas Eve like it was yesterday. Christmas didn't hold any value to him and he was perplexed every time his classmates would talk about gift giving and exchanges. Was that what was supposed to go down on Christmas Eve?
Normally, he'd be home alone. Sitting in the dark because electricity was an expensive thing (and he didn't want his parents to be angry with him). His father was somewhere getting caught up in illegal stuff, though he didn't know that at this point. His mother was out with friends - friends he'd never even met before.
That Christmas she came home early and it was reason enough to put him on edge. Clearly, having her home earlier than expected wasn't a good sign.
It was the only time Keigo was wrong about his mother though. She'd come into his room - a mattress and some school books on the floor - with a dazzling smile on her face reaching her eyes for what felt like the first time. "I've got something for you, baby bird." she'd told him then, putting a neatly wrapped present in front of her and in-between the both of them.
He hadn't known what to say back then. It was the first time his mother had gifted him something - how was he expected to react? There was sheer curiosity on his face - his mouth hanging open in wonder. "For me?" Keigo's voice had been quiet and small because he wasn't completely sure if she was just out to make a fool out of him. "Open it." It was a command, that much was clear.
His little hands were trembling when he touched the wrapping paper for the first time - as was his whole body out of sheer excitement. A few feathers darted across the room and back, invisible to his mother's eyes.
When he'd unwrapped the first layer of paper, he cut himself. Paper cuts were of the evil kind: burning and hurting way more than you'd think.
Keigo didn't care for the cut though, back then. He just unwrapped the other layers and uncovered a plush doll of some sort. It was the perfect size to be hugged while trying to fall asleep, he noticed. "Do you like it?" It was a dangerous question. Keigo nodded quick and way too eager. His mother just smiled and got up, petting his hair once before she left the room and closed the door behind her.
That night he fell asleep with the plush doll in his arms. He'd seen its face on TV once, on his way home from school. A burning man, looking grim but confident. A hero.
Maybe, Keigo thought to himself. Maybe I'll be as strong and confident in the future.
Hawks didn't know why those memories had haunted him in his sleep but when he woke there was a grim smile on his face. Grim because of what had happened ever since then. Grim because he'd been so naive.
Grim because now he knew what they'd meant when they said never meet your heroes, because they're sure to disappoint you.