The first thing he sees when he opens his eyes is blood.
Blood and bits of teeth and skin, strewn around the floor. There are people lined up against the walls, shot execution style, tears streaks still visible on their faces, and there are people who looked like they fought to death.
And then there are the ones Hibari killed, faces upturned, red and gray dripping from their hair.
A whole family, dead. Their killers, dead.
The sight is a relief to Hibari, though, because that was the same thing he saw when he closed his eyes, and it means that none of the annoying herbivores in Sawada's little army has found him and tattled yet.
The communication link that was once in Hibari's ear is broadcasting Kusakabe's voice from a million miles under the ocean, saying, "come in boss, come in, Kyo-san, what's going on? We're finishing things up over here but it's pretty much a lost cause. I've called the cars."
Laying on the floor any longer is not a good idea, Hibari knows this, but his limbs won't move properly.
He can't even remember sitting down. One minute he's walking around, looking at the mess, and the next he is waking up with someone else's blood sticking to the side of his face and his back and the stained marble floor.
It flakes when he moves but he tries not to think about it, so he looks up instead.
On the ceiling there is a mural of gold lined clouds floating in a robin's egg blue sky that does not seem to mind all the dead people below it.
He feels like a stuffed animal, no bones or blood, just fluffy white cotton on the inside. And it really, really, pisses him off.
Hibari tells himself that he was just tired, that's all, and he's been over working himself lately, anyway.
And it's true that sometimes he forgets that he's real, a living breathing creature like everyone else. That he isn't just a gun in a well-tailored suit. That he needs food, and sleep, and water, that things do affect him; that getting shot means he hurts and he bleeds. And he has been shot plenty of times.
But never has he felt like this. As exhausted as he is now.
From time to time he would pass out in the car to or from wherever or while he is eating or reading or in the bath, but never somewhere potentially dangerous. Never a place like this.
And it's true that it's been happening more and more lately.
Hibird flutters down to him, leaving little bloody footprints on his tie, chirping, "Hibari hurt, Hibari hurt, Hibari?"
That is when Hibari decides enough is enough, if his body won't move on his own, he'll make it. He's done it before, like in the Sky Battle, and in his first fight against Mukuro, and he'll do it again, he's sure.
His will is his own, and his body is a tool for his mind, and it will get up.
And it does. Sort of slowly, and it hurts like hell but it does what Hibari commands with minimal fuss.
There is a large window in the room, and under it is a dead man in a fancy chair, who looks like a king but is just a criminal. A mafia boss. Hibari gracelessly pushes the body off and leans against the backing for a minute until his legs feel strong enough to use, then he stands up and walks in the straight, clipped manner he trained himself to do, like nothing was ever wrong, out the door to meet up with Kusakabe and go back to the Vongola's Base, since Sawada is probably pissing himself with worry.
That day was a disaster in more ways than one.
The whole inner circle of the Schifezze family was dead, from the boss to the financial advisors. They were too late. This had only happened once before and undoubtably Tsuna was taking it as a personal failure, judging by the severity of the lines in his forehead.
But there was no one left, not the family, not the hit men, not even the pets. The issue had closed itself, in many ways.
The emotions around the Vongola meeting table vary spectacularly:
Tsuna is devastated.
Gokudera is furious.
Lambo is fidgeting.
And Hibari is flippant and uninterested, as usual.
He wouldn't have even shown up at the meeting at all if Tsuna hadn't made it explicitly clear he was needed, and even then it was an unspoken rule that Hibari would storm out when it got too bothersome for him to stay.
Sometimes some people just had to die, no matter how Tsuna felt.
And how was a life in the questionable conditions of the Vindicare better than death anyway? At least this way the last thing the dead people saw was sunlight, and the sky painted on the ceiling.
There were worse ways to go, Hibari had seen them.
Roborn knew that, understood it, and lived by it. He had told Hibari as much when Kyouya was seventeen and it was necessary for him to know that those sorts of things could be forgiven. And Yamamoto would find out two years after that.
As a matter of fact, out of the guardians, the only ones who never got their hands truly dirty were the tenth, his right-hand man, and Lambo.
Sitting at that meeting table with Tsuna, Reborn, and a handful of herbivores only a few hours after the whole fiasco was trying on Hibari's considerably small amount of patience.
Reborn and Tsuna were giving him curious looks, too, making things that much more annoying; so exactly fifteen seconds into the third time Gokudera went on an unnecessary and explosive rant Hibari got fed up and, with a few good punches to Tsuna for crowding him with idiots, stalked out of the room, past Kusakabe, who was waiting outside the door for just this occasion.
Hibari's right hand man nodded briskly and walked inside amidst the sound of Gokudera shouting for him to come back and finish this meeting, right now, you ungrateful bastard.
Hibari ignored him, as usual, and directed is attention to the other person loitering outside the meeting room.
That was someone Kyouya had not seen in a long, long time.
Romario gave him a good natured smile, not betraying anything, as though they had just seen each other last week and mentioned in a well-used offhanded tone that Dino was probably waiting in Tsuna's office, should anyone happen to be interested.
Hibari scowled and told Romario that he was wasting his time with stupid information.
And then he stalked off to find Dino Cavallone.
The part of his mind that Hibari listened to told him that the only reason he was looking for Dino was to bite him to death.
To see if his recently ended family life (the real kind of family life, the kind with picket fences and porch swings) had made him soft and pudgy and easy to tear into. And not because of anything that happened in the past but because he hadn't fought Dino in a while and he undoubtably needed an ass kicking.
But there was another, slightly more rational, much less listened to, part of him that just wanted to see the Cavallone boss.
To know if anything had changed, to know if anything had stayed the same. Just to know that he was still there, and tangible. That under all those rumors and stories and soft spoken mentions there was a real person.
There was the same Dino he had known.
They had avoided each other for a little over two years, since Dino's child was born and Hibari had finally left Japan for good.
And it was not the friendliest of partings; least of all because they weren't friends to begin with, but lovers, or something close to it. Despite Hibari's age and temperment and Dino's marriage their relationship long outlived its welcome until finally the center could not hold and the whole thing collapsed onto itself.
It was like watching a building crash in slow motion, toppling one floor at a time at first and then suddenly they all just go and there's nothing left but rubble and broken things that used to be special and important.
They hadn't talked or seen each other or even acknowledged the other's existence for ages but Dino had lived on in Hibari's mind as whispers, despite his best efforts to block all Cavallone business from his mind.
Dino had became the vague outlines of the things that happened around him.
He was nothing more than stories of how much more powerful the Cavallone family had become in the past few years, physically and financially.
How he had a son now, with sunshine blond hair and summer sky blue eyes who was supposed to be the most beautiful child anyone had ever seen (Hibari assumed that was just ass kissing, though) and how that child now lives with Dino's estranged wife in one of the Cavallone's more secluded Alpine homes.
That last bit made the vindictive part of Hibari oh, so happy.
Dino is right were Romario had said he would be, sitting in a chair across from Tsuna's desk, typing something out on his cellphone.
When he sees Kyouya he blinks slowly. Smiles.
But it was one of those fake smilies, Hibari could spot from miles away. The smile Dino gave him was just like any other business gimmick, meant to calm and conceal. It didn't each his eyes, didn't even reach his nose, it was as vapid and shallow as it could possibly be and it infuriated the guardian.
Dino seemed to notice Kyouya's shift from curious to annoyed and instinctively reaches for where they both knew his whip is kept.
"It's been a while, Kyouya" he said in his airy voice that Hibari had long found bothersome. There was no trace of anything meaningful in his tone, no real emotion or underlying interest. Like talking to an automated messaging service.
Hibari just frowns and ignores it. Ignores the millions of thoughts and emotions he never even knew he was repressing, and instead decides to be angry. It's familiar territory and he feels safe there. He's feeling dizzy and nauseous, and this is just the thing to make him vomit all over himself.
He does what makes the most sense to him, pulls out his tonfa for the second time that day and says, "I'm going to bite you to death, Bucking Horse." Dino chuckles and puts his hands up, murmurs, "you're looking awfully pale Kyouya, and I heard you just got back from..." but Hibari doesn't feel like listening to Dino's voice anymore, so he lunges.
Dino jumps up just quick enough to avoid getting hit, but the chair he was sitting on was not so lucky and a million pieces of lacquered rosewood rain down between them. He lets out a low whistle.
"You've gotten stronger, Kyouya!" he chuckles and tells Hibari to meet him on the roof in two minutes, since an office is no place to fight and it looks like Tsuna's meeting will be taking a while anyway.
Hibari sees through Dino's mask immediately, Dino wants to fight just as badly as Hibari, and so snorts and makes sure to show up five minutes late.
The fight rules were simple and unspoken:
No box weapons, just a straight up match, like they used to have on the roof of Namichuu when they the first met.
Hibari is a bit pleased and a bit annoyed that Dino has not lost his skill, and, if anything, seems to keep getting better with age and disuse. Like cheese.
In the first five minutes, he managed to unarm Hibari of one tonfa and block a direct hit to the chest.
By the half-hour mark Romario had joined them up on the roof, and Dino was bleeding from at least four different places. At the fourty-five minute mark Kusakabe had brought beers, and Hibari had a long red whip mark down the side of his face and his knuckles were cracked and bloody.
The fight continued for another hour after that, both Dino and Hibari unwilling to give in or give up or concede a tie.
Tsuna, Reborn, Yamamoto, and Gokudera, all made brief stops up there to watch.
Sawada attempted to talk some sense into the two of them but they didn't care and didn't listen and in the end Tsuna had more important things to attend to than the simple spar he was pretending it was.
But it didn't take a genius to figure out what was going on between Hibari and Dino when most of the guardians were in Highschool and then when it ended.
And it didn't take a genius to figure out when it was best to let things go their course.
About two hours in was when it happened.
Dino and Hibari were alone on the roof again, as Romario was taking care of the Cavallone's business, the original reason Dino was there at all, and Kusakabe was just being tactful.
Hibari, in a quick twist of his body managed to avoid the whip perfectly, and then drive his elbow into Dino's face, pushing the blond man back with a spray of blood onto the ground.
The last thing he saw was Dino stick his hand up, their signal for game over.
And then Hibari put his hand on his head and collapsed onto himself and everything went woozy and black.
...In the fridge we stash each other's body
parts and pray for the storms of our lives.
We drink water from the tap,
Shower alone after sex washing each other
off our own bodies/
And sometimes we turn,
the television on.
Chapter 2: never get better
It will never get better.
Somewhere music is playing, drifting in through the walls. Familiar.
Francesco Maria Bonini.
Only one person he knows listens to that sort of music and he is probably sitting in the next room.
Hibari tries to connect meaning to it, the music, the shadow of Kusakabe's hairdo, the pattern on the ceiling, tries to string any sort of information he could use to his advantage from these facts and images but everything is blurry and it almost hurts to think, it's so exhausting. It makes him feel like there is a thick cottony towel on top of his brain and all his thoughts wiggle around in the folds not being able to find each other or make sense.
And he hates himself for it, but the only thing he knows clearly is:
Vaguely Hibari registers he is laying in his own bed, or at least the bed in the room allotted to him in the Vongola compound.
Truth is, he doesn't have a bed, or a room, secure and warm and just his. Doesn't need one. Doesn't even want one. For Hibari there is no home, there is just him and his foundation. And that is enough. Really.
Still, this bed is better than a hospital's; worse than almost everything else.
Hibari wants to break something.
In the chair next to him, Kusakabe shifts a bit. Not uncomfortably, but cautiously. He knows enough to test the waters before jumping into an explanation.
After all, the question is never if Hibari is pissed off but just how pissed off he is.
Judging by the recent circumstances, quite a bit.
"Kyou-san..." Tetsuya starts, waits for smoldering gray-black eyes to focus on him. Continues.
"Earlier you passed out so Sawada-san had you brought here, he's worried" another pause this time, shorter. He watches Hibari's eyes darken and knows to tread lightly and finish this as quickly as possible.
"...He has strongly suggested that you stay here for a bit. He said he would stop by sometime tonight."
Tactfully Kusakabe mentions neither Dino nor the doctor who had been by while Kyouya was asleep since he doesn't particularly feel like bleeding to death today or chasing Hibari to a different continent at the last minute.
Hibari doesn't say anything. Breaks eye contact and watches the sheer white curtains flutter around the doorway to the balcony. Silently dismissive. Kusakabe understands.
When did it get so dark out? How long had had he been-
As the music swells in the other room Kusakabe disappears.
It is about five minutes after Kusakabe leaves that Hibari decides he needs to get out of the Vongola compound as soon as possible. All this fuzzy, "we care about you and don't want to see you get hurt" vibe is starting to eat at him. Too much Sawada is never good for people like Hibari. That and the fact that Dino is still around charged the air with a feeling of claustrophobia.
It is about a minute after that, when Hibari is pulling on a pair of pants over bandaged thighs, when Dino decides to make his appearance.
Terrible timing as always.
Dino smiles at him, like there was nothing, is nothing, never would be anything wrong.
Sunshine and daffodils and bright green sweet smelling summer grass. Labrador puppies and morning sex on white leather sofas.
There is a flesh-colored band-aid on his nose.
"Leaving already, Kyouya?" he asks, airy and indifferent.
There is the same careful calmness to his voice that there was before but now there are little splotches of dried brown blood on the collar of his white shirt, and that's enough for Hibari.
More than the fight, this proves it:
He's the same old idiot Dino.
Hibari reaches for the tonfa in his jacket but Cavallone is too fast for him and grabs his wrist almost reflexively.
He looks tired. Exasperated. He's not the only one who hasn't changed.
Hibari gets visibly annoyed and yanks his hand away but he is too sleep-clouded to do any real damage, anyway. They both know that. He's too tired to think straight or storm out or put an appropriate amount of distance between him and the blond man. Lets Dino take him by the shoulders, push him back on the bed. Wrap a clean sheet around him.
Hold his hand for a bit and then let go.
He hears rather than sees Dino sit on the chair Tetsuya recently vacated. Could hear him sigh. Airy and light and musical. Strong.
This is a different kind of fight, now.
Hibari's looking at the ceiling, the window, the backs of his eyelids. Anything besides Dino. Electric blue light comes in as the sun continues to sink into the hills. Everything is dark and quiet. Neither of them says anything or moves. They just share the same space, breathe the same air.
It's a long time until either of them says anything.
Hibari is partially asleep.
Half on half off.
He hates it but he still feels safe around Dino. Safe enough to almost sleep, anyway.
In the back of his mind he registers Dino move, almost soundless and careful not to disturb. Assumes he's leaving. Finally.
He's partially right. One Dino leaves.
The other Dino touches his arm, gently. It's warm. Much warmer than anything Hibari could remember.
How long had it been since Dino had touched him like that?
Since he had let anyone touch him like that?
Years, years. Had to be. Millions and millions of years stretching out until forever.
Since the beginning of time.
Maybe he was always alone.
Maybe Dino had never existed and they never fell in love.
Never fell out of it, either.
Outside it's completely dark now. Little lights peak out every so often in the hills surrounding the compound. One of those things that is so wordlessly beautiful about Italy.
It is Officially Nighttime.
Dino's lips are touching his forehead now.
Hibari feels strange, feels his lips curl around his teeth in a feral smile. The exhaustion is being replaced now, by something shallower. More animalistic.
What he wants to do is bite this Dino's exposed neck and feel the blood hot and watery on his face, in his mouth, pooling all around him and staining the sheets. To bite him to death, literally.
What he does is grip Dino's shoulder, now directly above him, tight enough to bruise.
Dino laughs, indistinguishable from how he used to laugh ages ago. From where Hibari is positioned he can see the movement of the throat, up and down, vibrating.
Hibari can feel the brushing of Dino's lips, soft and a bit wet, against his forehead.
"Mirror mirror on the wall, who's the ferus of them all?*"
Hibari snorts. Says something he knows, knows, would get Dino away from him. A test.
"Don't you have a wife to be getting back to?"
The only time he'd ever said that to Dino before earned him a punch to the face so hard he actually had a black eye. At the time he was quite impressed.
But this Dino just smiles against Hibari's forehead. Grins, even. It pisses Hibari off even more.
"I really want to fuck you right now" he almost whispers.
Hibari's chest tightens even though he knows it's not real.
"No," he says without blinking, "get out of my room, you stupid herbivore."
Dino is chuckling to himself as he turns back into Mukuro.
With Mukuro there, as himself, at least Hibari has something concrete to direct his considerable ire towards.
Mukuro, the one who is still leaning over him, still exposing his throat. Haughty and confident as always.
More than any words, that act proves how little fear and respect Mukuro has for him. One of the many things he effortlessly does to put Hibari Kyouya in a worse mood than usual.
"Kufufufu, I heard you had a little spill, Kyouya-kun~" Mukuro murmurs into Hibari's forehead. Brief annoyance flashes in Hibari's eyes. News travelled too fast in the Vongola Family and this person is still invading his personal space. Yet again.
He would have to bite whoever told Mukuro to death later.
But now, Hibari can still feel the vibrations humming in the throat, and makes to grab it. Not hard enough to harm Chrome who is undoubtably underneath the illusion but enough to get Mukuro away from him for a while.
Unfortunately his moves are a bit too sluggish with something, sleep maybe, bone-deep exhaustion.
Mukuro dodges it easily by just leaning backwards but it does the trick. Mukuro is no longer touching his forehead.
Boat-light eyes meet grey ones. Smirk meets snarl.
"Hmmm, how Dino could ever give up such a sweet boy as yourself, is truly a mystery..." glib sarcasm thick and sweet on his tongue. Familiar territory for the both of them.
By this time they're sitting up, Hibari smoldering and Mukuro examining the dirt in Chrome's fingernails.
It would take Hibari exactly five seconds to get his tonfa out but it also would give Mukuro a short but potentially catastrophic opening. Hibari could feel his adrenaline start to kick in, taking over everything. His fight or fight reflex. All other feelings gave way to pure, safe, animal instincts.
But before he could get a decent hit in, Mukuro was replaced by Chrome almost simultaneously as there was a knock on the door. Mukuro always had excellent timing.
Sawada's voice shimmered through lacquered wood, shaky, "H-Hibari-kun?"
At this, Chrome smiles sweetly and adjusts her skirt, completely used to regaining conciseness in strange positions with Hibari Kyouya, though she's never asked Mukuro about it, "Shall I get the door, then?"
Hibari blew some hair out of his eyes and almost, almost pouted.
He waves a hand dismissively at Chrome who doesn't seem to mind, and goes to answer the door.
If Sawada was surprised to see her there, he didn't say so, though he did greet her, ask her when she had arrived, how the trip was. Stupid things. Herbivore things. Things that had nothing to do with why either of them where there and would be forgotten immediately afterward. The fast food of conversations.
In a huff, Hibari marches out to the connecting balcony of his room with Hibird fluttering after him cheerfully, chirping, "herbivores~ herbivores~"
He could tell Tsuna was nervous.
He almost always was around Hibari unless he was too busy or stressed out to think about it.
Tsuna wasn't actually afraid of him, but the intimidation was something of a left-over feeling from when they were both kids.
It was nostalgic in a way, like red armbands with gold lettering, or when Hibird would sing the Namimori anthem on a whim.
Like when his mom calls him out of the blue or noticing a scar that looked like it could have been caused by a whip.
Little pebbles on top of big rocks.
Tsuna clears his throat.
"You're sick, Hibari-kun" he said. Straight and to the point, "clearly."
So unlike how he usually went about telling Hibari things. Vaguely Hibari contemplates punching Tsuna in the face. Brings his hand to a fist.
"You have to see a doctor, Reborn thinks so, too, he says his bug-agents saw you collapse at the Schifezze stronghold earlier, too. And-and-I think that, well, you should-"
Hibari cut him off with an indignant grunt, "fine, whatever, I have my own doctors, Sawada, I'll do it in my own time."
But Tsuna, ever observant, knew it to be a lie, and a poor one. He knew, just as Hibari knew, that the moment he left would be the last time he ever considered seeing a doctor.
"Look, while you were passed out, I had one of my doctors take some blood samples. He thinks you might just be severely anemic but it could be something worse... Hibari-kun... Just-just stick around for one more day, until the test results come back."
Hibari raised one eyebrow but didn't say anything. Fists his hand a tighter.
He was torn between thinking about what would be the most painful punishment for Tetsuya for letting the doctor in, and wanting this conversation to not be happening.
"A-and besides..." apparently Tsuna wasn't done talking, "I mean, you do want to feel better, don't you, Hibari-kun?"
There was something searching in Tsuna's big brown bambi eyes that made Hibari annoyed and uncomfortable.
That was when Hibari realized he had lost this battle.
If he left now Tsuna would assume he was suicidal or something and if he stayed then there was a matter of pride to be dealt with.
In the long run not sticking around would cause vastly more problems than staying, since judging by the look on Tsuna's face, if he didn't answer correctly he would be stuck with someone like Ryouhei to watch over him for missions for the rest of his life.
There were worse things than death.
"One day, Sawada. That's it."
Tsuna smiled serenely. One with the universe.
There was a reason he was the boss.
Then Hibari punched him.
He adds cream
to the coffee in the dream,
which ordinarily he doesn't do.
She thought when he removed his tongue
from her, it was over,
but only the quiet was over.
After a week loving my woman,
I am a terrorist.
I would buy you a dress
I would rip from you,
if that is what you want.
-Leonard Gontatek, Airports and Trees