It's a rare thrill.
Hibari hasn't felt this way in ages, he thinks. It's a rare thrill, one that starts behind his eyes and ends in his fists. He doesn't bother to say a greeting (and he knows that Mukuro isn't expecting one) but turns to kill. It's different than turning to strike; a strike has his palm parallel to the ground, carrying the force across. A turn to kill moves his weight up, pulls the elbow back and comes down with the swing of his arm, more effective than a hammer. Infuriatingly close to a hit, he knew, feeling his knuckles brush against cloth (he even knew what brand of suit it was, the jacket Mukuro wore was particular). Hibari rotates his wrist, bringing the long end of the tonfa into the swing, determined to take part of that smirk with his fist into the ground.
The lack of resistance against his fist is familiar, expected, frustrating. It's an old game, this dance they play. He is already putting his momentum behind his knee, pivoting to raise a leg for a kick while dropping his other arm. And he knows that in the same moment Mukuro was stepping back (as casual as he always is, as elusive as sea spray) across the pavement. It looks effortless, but Hibari can hear the sharp inhalation, the sound of shoes (and Mukuro wore a particular brand of those too, the rubber soles are hard and pull gravel with a particular noise) moving across the ground and knows he's close.
For a moment he thinks he's won, because his elbow (pulled tight against his body for close rotation) has met something soft, warm. Triumph slants his entire being, and he follows through – pushing off the ground and raising a knee. It's a movement designed to drag a body down between elbow and knee to meet the tonfa and hard ground.
The shock rips through his fingers and knuckles; metal to concrete is never a pleasant feeling. The skull, which he expects to be fragmented, broken, bleeding was nowhere to be felt. Hibari felt (and it was quite unusual, to feel this) an intense feeling of having missed something. To have wrapped his hands around a pulse and yet to have never had a hold on it at all.
It's familiar, the exhilaration and anticlimactic ending.
What's worse, perhaps, is the way he has come to expect it.
There is something private about the way Hibari carries out his hits, intimate in a way that only violence can tell. And yet, impersonal. The blood spray was almost dainty against his skin, like gentle rain, the minute droplets cooled before they reached his cheeks. It was calming, methodical, the pounding of metal to flesh. Deep and resounding like a heartbeat.
Hibari turned, and just missed the fleeting image of someone standing on his shadow.
He imagines it to be ungraceful, the movement of pain. It is a fleeting thought, however, because it is a fleeting moment (fingernails to skin to muscle and if this were some other lifetime in some other place it may have even torn and bled and pulled bone to meet the air). And the only response he has is to turn his face and chuckle; to meet the threat (I'll bite you to death) as he would anything else.
You and what teeth?
It is unsaid; Mukuro didn't need to say it. He could explain it with his hands, with a gaze that looked past Hibari. (He knew it to be a frustrating fact of life, to be looked down upon). The step back was intentionally close, a half step with his knees close together. The movement was in his ankles and torso, to make it look effortless, elegant. He knows all sorts of tricks to distract attention, to draw the eyes away from what was important. It is not a simple thing to fool Hibari, the Cloud Guardian has such a one-track mind, so one track he seemed undefeatable.
But there was no such thing as undefeatable.
He imagines that he should tell Hibari Kyouya that secret, that undefeatable is only a lie or an illusion. The idea in and of itself is somewhat laughable, to tell the great Hibari Kyouya (terrifying, he is truly terrifying) such a thing. The sentiment would never be appreciated and Mukuro was well aware of what Hibari's response would be. There were only a few ways to deal with Hibari, one was to bow down to his fists and tonfas. The other, and many would assume it was defeat (which it wasn't) was to completely circumvent Hibari's world of eat or be eaten, to make Hibari play by his rules – and creating worldly traps was a hobby of his. All it took was some selective attention and a little sleight of hand.
And so it is in a hand motion that he knew he had gotten Hibari's attention. He cradles his palm, cups his fingers and presses the soft side to Hibari's elbow. Then he lets the pressure push him, gives the illusion of skin indenting, of muscles bruising. Had Mukuro placed a hand across Hibari's mouth he was sure that he would feel the curve of some vicious smile.
The bricks at his back balanced him, holding his breath in as he leaned. This was some sort of sacrilege, a blasphemy to private worship and he enjoyed the feeling of standing at the door of someone else's violent sanctity. Determined to keep silent, keep this a secret, out of sight and standing just yards away. How irritated, he wondered, would Hibari be to have missed an opportunity to 'bite him to death'.
So he made sure to be in the periphery when Hibari turned, and to be gone when Hibari moved.
"It's been a while."
"Have you changed, Hibari Kyouya?"
"…I'll bite you to death."
"I'll ask again, later."
It's a form of communication, Mukuro knows. He was raised on this way of presenting words (duality of communication). It is far easier to read someone's knees than their words. People were prone to lying, after all. People were prone to betraying themselves, but the body rarely deceived. He considers it a greeting, even if it goes from a touch to a dislocating grab. Mukuro considers the way that Hibari's body replies, responds to touch.
"How rude," he comments, and he is half bent over Hibari's fist, but he has a handful of hair and knows exactly how much pressure he would need to rip off Hibari's ear. "I was just saying hello."
"Hello." Hibari replies in voice and body.
"Have you changed, Hibari Kyouya?"
Mukuro has considered writing Hibari a letter, because it's old fashioned and he finds the idea more than a little amusing. He would write it as the Westerners do, as he would in Italy and ignore the formalities that Hibari has gained in Japan. It would have been jarring, and maybe a little rude because Mukuro is well aware of what would be polite to do. It would be a little difficult, given the situation, but he is sure that Hibari would learn to appreciate his forward thought. Instead he leaves a message with Chrome, a neat parcel of thoughts in the back of her mind. He hasn't taught her all of the bleeding alphabet, but he's taught her enough to know how to deliver a message.
It's the first time she has ever evoked surprise in Hibari Kyouya. She would have savored it had the return message not been so swift. It was an irritable greeting, she records, shoves to the back of her memory for Mukuro to find. And she can see why Hibari holds attention so well.
"…he'll send a reply later," she tells Hibari, aware that her lips bleed, remembers to ask Mukuro what it means.
I know you – ah, should I be saying that? It sounds rather presumptuous, doesn't it? And I would be loath to invade your personal space. Don't give me that look, it's quite unsuitable for the topic. You might even say that I'm being truthful and yet you're so abrasive. I admit that violence suits you, Hibari Kyouya.
But change would behoove you.
It's the first time in over ten years that Hibari has actually laid a hand on Mukuro, broken through the game of illusions. His surprise colors his face, tightens his grip. It's almost enough to undo years of learning the proper holds (one for strangulation, one for immobilization, the differences finesse). Mukuro does put a hand over his mouth, jams fingers in between Hibari's lips and makes a fist. Hibari Kyouya has learned to appreciate the made-flesh weight of Mukuro's true illusions, and become hungry for this sense of satisfaction. Muscle movement dictates his hands, palm to the flat of Mukuro's back, pushing his face into the wall, twisting the wrist (breaking? he would prefer tearing). There's something pleasant about feeling the shoulder joint move, the scapula bends with enough pressure. So do spines, and Hibari has spent years learning how much power it takes to break another man's back.
"Now?" he asks and it's almost taunting, exhilarating. This, he feels, and he enjoys it. There is no more waiting for the satisfaction to break Mukuro into as many pieces as he could. No feeling of putting it off, he has all the muscle and blood he will ever need in his grip. He has waited over a decade to let go of his frustrations.
"Are you ready?" Mukuro's serenity pulls ire back. Hibari wants to force the serenity into something jagged and unhappy. Have you changed?
He is not aware that he shuts his eye when he breaks the joint.
The feeling is too visceral to remember something as pointless as vision.
That was uncalled for, you know. I'm almost angry.
(and it's an impression of apathy or uncaring.)
I'll have to give you something in return.
"…I hope you feel embarrassed and properly humbled," Mukuro is whispering, because his quiet is more dangerous than his noise. He is sitting on Hibari, almost casually, if his hand wasn't pressed to the place where the skull meets the neck and his expression wasn't so focused. He ignores anything Hibari might say (because change is difficult for some people, they get stuck in patterns, he knows this, and he knows which patterns Hibari is fond of). Weight shift is tricky, because he knows that in the end Hibari won't be tied down by anything, clouds are elusive by nature, whereas the earth in some fashion binds mist.
He also knows that he just needs this moment.
Knee to spine, thumb to the large vein in Hibari's neck he creates this moment. This small pocket of pause, leaning down, so he can look at Hibari's pupils, watch them dilate and focus.
"Guido Greco-san did not appreciate. Not at all, and since I'm a fan of fairness I should do something you don't appreciate," the rationale is lost on Hibari, but Mukuro has his own patterns that he enjoys. He also knows that he has changed, and that's why he can lean low, mockingly sweet, press his lips to the corner of Hibari's eye -- and make a fist with his hand at the same time.
It might be called a kiss, but has none of the connotations because the feeling Hibari remembers is that of having his face dragged across concrete.
He turns to strike, but the angle of his shoulders is all wrong. He knows that his fist is going to strike the side of Mukuro's ribs, the the force of the blow will be dispersed over skin and muscle. Hibari knows that his feet are dragging, that none of this will be fast enough to take down the Mist Guardian. – so he is surprised when they stumble back together, when Mukuro's back crashes against the wall and Hibari has a fist full of shirt.
"…well?" Mukuro asks, the left side of his face tugging into a smile.
Hibari reaches behind Mukuro's head, pulls down, forces the other's neck down and places his teeth to Mukuro's cheek. It's not a kiss at all, because he leaves a mark, but he's not at all satisfied with the taste.
The worst part of it all, Hibari realizes, is that Mukuro has known all along his dissatisfaction. The Mist Guardian has known his frustration, fueled it, played it and reconstructed an entire existence around it. He would be flattered if he were the type to let himself be subject to such things. He finds himself biting his own tongue, to try and force it to tell him the answer. It is not, he is convinced, that Mukuro has given him something worth keeping.
'"Well?" Mukuro asks, the smile already in place.
Hibari moves, shifting his weight but finds that Mukuro is already there, forcing his head back, a hand over Hibari's heart to force it slower.
"I'm terribly impatient." Have you changed, Hibari Kyouya? Do you look at the world any differently than we used to before?
It's irredeemable, unnamable and dangerous, the way Mukuro talks. Perhaps, though, only because Hibari is now listening.