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Five or Eight (You Must Wait)

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When Tsuna originally found the game, he was excited. Eleven years old, bullied and shunned, labeled with the title of dame , but he still held out hope for friendship.

It was entirely coincidental, those who sat down around the board with him.

The regret and fear set in not long after he started to play.

To think the sight of Hibari Kyoya would bring relief, even if that soon turned to despair.

However, it took months, years before he could accept both his actions, and the actions of the game. To say nothing of the actions of others . But still, time passed and eventually, eventually Tsuna was grateful for that day. Certainly his life would never be easier because of it, but it was true that he wouldn’t be the person he was today if not of this event.

Tsuna preferred who he was today to the person he was then.

His body still bore scars, same as all the others.

They were drastically faded, but in the right light, an observant someone could pick out the faint silvery lines against tanned skin.

That was only one of the many things that set them apart from their classmates. Their scars, how tanned their skin was, the lines of muscles, how quickly they reacted to sounds, to threats and several other things.

There was a difference between them, between the ordinary, normal students of Namimori…

...and between them, the six players of Jumanji.

 


 

Tsuna was excited that people- anyone - had agreed to play the game he found.

He hadn’t expected anybody to agree, but four of his classmates had. It was recess, and no one had anything to do. The dark haired girl who hung out a lot with Kyoko-chan- Hana- had said she didn’t want to play with ‘ monkeys ’, and how it was better to only deal with ‘ three monkeys instead of a class full ’.  It had helped that Kyoko-chan had agreed with a laugh, and she was Hana’s best friend. Yamamoto-san hadn’t hesitated, interested in a new game, and when Sasagawa-senpai had stopped by to check on his sister, he hadn’t minded joining in either.

So Tsuna had four people who had agreed to play with him, and he was absolutely sure it would be a great day.

He was wrong.

 


 

Tsuna’s hands shook, and he sucked in a sobbing breath, ignoring the wet copper taste of blood on his tongue. His lip was split and it throbbed the harder he tried to keep his crying quiet.

This was not what he wanted. His eyes met the others’ across the board game. Hana was covered in bruises and had dirt smeared across her face, arms and hands. Her eyes were wild, but narrowed in determination. When he shifted around at the others- they were all bleeding somewhere. Split lips, scraped hands, elbows and knees, with a few claw marks and cuts were the majority of the injuries.

Yamamoto-san’s hands were tightly clenched around the handle of his baseball bat. Sasagawa-senpai was tense, staring intently at the green globe in the middle of the board, his fists, resting lightly against his knees. Kyoko-chan was sitting closely to her brother, a broken off piece of furniture held tightly in her hands.

Both Tsuna and Hana had similar makeshift weapons. Not that they were much help, but it was better than nothing. Better than using their bare hands against some of the beasts that came out of the board already.

He watched as blood slid down Sasagawa-senpai’s face and his fists clenched around the dented piece of metal that served as his weapon.

Tsuna hadn’t wanted to hurt anybody.

But they couldn’t stop.

That just made the game angry .

Don’t stop the game you’ll realize. Or one of you might vaporize.

Luckily, Kyoko had rolled a 1 in her toss, and they were all still alive. Even if there were now visible sweat stains on their clothes.

Tsuna shuddered, and took a deep breath before he braced himself to roll. Only the Kami knew what would come out of the game next .

Before he had a chance to throw the dice, someone attempted to open the classroom door. Not that they could, Sasagawa-senpai and Yamamoto-san had locked it and stacked most of the desks against it to prevent anything from getting out.

They both surged to their feet, fists up and baseball bat held at the ready. Tsuna and the girls quickly moved back, Tsuna’s hand clenched around the dice he had been about to throw, the other raising his makeshift weapon,  fear and determination painted all over their collective faces.

It takes a moment for the door to open, by a force of strength that cracks the wooden frame and in the next instant the stacked desks lurch and fall away, clearing a small path.

There’s a rustle of fabric and a glint of metal, followed by a face everyone recognizes. Instantly, weapons are down and the tension in the room relaxes.

“Hibari-san!”

Tsuna has never been so happy to see the student the other’s called ‘demon.’

 


 

 

Hibari leaned backwards the slightest bit at the warm welcome he seemed to be receiving, not at all used to it. Startled surprise flickered over his face, but only for an instant. Gray eyes flashed like quicksilver around the room, taking in their disheveled states and the disaster that was the classroom, broken furniture, suspicious stains before his gaze shifted to them.

His eyes narrowed, tonfas coming up.

“Herbivores. I will bite you to death for destroying Namimori property, and fighting on school grounds.”

Tsuna flinched back, his hand jerking along with the motion, and his eyes snapped down as the sound of the dice hitting the board reached his ears. He wasn’t the only one as the other four children all snapped their heads towards the board, resuming their defensive stances, waiting to see what would happen.

Hibari watches in confusion, recognizing a prey response, but unsure why the herbivores all seem to regard a board game as more dangerous than him. Did they think he would not bite them to death? No- no that was not it. Hibari was aware of his reputation, though he cared little to change it, and everyone knew his threats were not to be dismissed.

So what made them all turn away so quickly despite that?

 


 

 Tsuna’s heart is in his mouth as he stares down at the green orb, watching as words form what seems like a death sentence.

I’m sorry, I’m sorry- hiii!

The others are too far away to read what words materialize on the globe, but they react to Tsuna’s reaction. He throws himself away, drawing back the piece of metal he has and his face conveys only terror.

Feline spots in the jungle blend. Be cautious of her, she’s not your friend.

A dark mist rises up from the green gem in the middle of the board, to the horror of everyone watching and it condenses into a sleek, spotted leopard.

Tsuna scarcely has the time to see Hibari-san’s mouth drop open, shock all over his face before the animal growls and leaps for him.

A flash of metal is all Tsuna catches before Hibari-san goes down, as Kyoko-chan screams and Yamamoto-san and Sasagawa-senpai startle and the move forward, the baseball star bringing his bat down to crack against the leopard's spine. Tsuna lunges forward, bringing the makeshift metal staff around to crack against the jaw of the leopard at the same moment, trying to keep the beast’s teeth away away from Hibari-san.

The large cat tumbles sideways, the combined strength of the blows sending it sprawling with a yowl, and Tsuna doesn’t even think as he shoves his way between the jungle creature, and the downed boy. He didn’t want to hurt anybody! And he refused to let Hibari-san get hurt because he didn’t know what he was walking into.

“Hana-san! Kyoko-chan! The door!” Tsuna snaps the command without thought, his voice shaking but determined. “Sasagawa-senpai, keep it away from them!”

Extreme!

They couldn’t let the leopard get out. And Hibari-san might not have meant to, but he’d opened a small path for whatever animals came out of the game. The damage from those could be contained to this one room, but if it spread to the rest of the school...

The large cat snarled, and Tsuna shook as the sound vibrated through his entire body. It rolled to its paws, and turned its eyes towards Tsuna. He stares straight into its eyes, even as Hana-san and Kyoko-chan throw themselves past the leopard, behind the bulk of the leader of the boxing club, quickly shoving furniture back into place to barricade themselves in once again.

Hibari-san is crouched on the floor, four strips of red on one of his cheeks, but he’s kept a firm hold on his tonfa.

As soon as he’s on his feet, Hibari-san lunges, his weapons raised as Tsuna throws himself to the side to allow the most feared senpai in school to slam a tonfa along with his body weight into the leopard’s head.

It goes down.

A heavy silence falls on them, broken only by stuttering and shallow breaths.

Tsuna can’t help the noise he makes when he sits abruptly on the floor. Unfortunately, this attracts Hibari-san’s attention and thus, when the older boy turns and marches over to him, it’s with a demand for answers.

“Herbivore-”

Tsuna really doesn’t want to deal with this because no matter that Hibari just knocked the leopard unconscious, it would still be there and wake up if someone didn’t do something. He ends up completely ignoring Hibari and shouts-

Three! Someone needs to roll a three before we can get rid of the le-leopard!”

It’s Hana’s turn after his so he deeply appreciates it when she lunges past Kyoko’s brother for the dice, almost as much as he wishes he could sob when she freezes.

Either she’ll roll a three and the leopard’s gone and everything will be okay, so she won’t and instead she’ll land on something worse and nothing will be okay and the leopard will still be there.

Hibari reels around, his attention focusing on Hana and Tsuna is entirely aware of how much better Hana is at dealing with people. She usually doesn’t take anyone’s back talk, and she’s really smart, and brave. But right now-

Right now, Hibari-san wants answers and he’s going after Hana, and Tsuna doesn’t want to be the one under his attention, but-

But Hibari-san is probably their best chance at surviving , and to do that he’d have to be informed. Need to be prepared for the unexpected. For things like jungle animals leaping out of the board game.

“Hana! Roll. Roll before she wakes up!” Tsuna issues the command, turning to plant his body between Hibari and Hana. He’s shaking, and terrified, but this is his fault. He brought the game to school, asked his classmates to play, and now they’re stuck in this death game. He can at least explain to their best bet at survival what happened. Could at least ask him to help . “Hibari-san.”

The perfect’s eyes snap to his, and they look a little wild at the edges but Tsuna can’t blame him.

“I- I don’t know how this is happening. None of us do. I just- I just wanted to play a game, but I can’t- It’s a survival game that brings each ‘turn’ to life. We actually have to survive the game, and we-” a deep shaking breath before Tsuna continues “we can’t stop. We have to finish the game or we- we’ll die. And if- if we win, the game said everything will go back to normal.”

Tsuna shifts from foot to foot, and Hibari stares at him, eyes narrowed, before he steps forward, just as Hana cries out.

Tsuna whirls away from Hibari, setting eyes on Hana, who is staring down at the green orb on the board.

“Hana!” Kyoko sounds horrified, and Tsuna can already feel the dread, but he darts forward hoping it’s nothing like what he thinks it could be.

There are glowing words rising from the green globe and oh-

A law of Jumanji has been broken, you will set back more than your token.  

Ryohei jumps back with a startled shout, grabbing his sister to keep away from her best friend. Hana pulls away from the board, hands rising to her face as delicate fur begins to sprout. Her gaze connects to Tsuna’s, desperation and anger shining in her eyes. He doesn’t need to ask, she’s already explaining.

“I tried to make it roll a three!”

“You tried to cheat?” Tsuna’s voice is horrified as Kyoko’s when he asks the question, and Hana’s hands shake as fur continues to grow on her face and down her neck, across her entire body.

A monkey, he thinks in some sort of amused horror, she’s turning into a monkey.

“I just wanted to get rid of the leopard!” Hana shouts as her humanity fades away and the rest of her words are replaced by animal noises.

Tsuna muttered a word he had heard the math teacher use, that his mother had said was only for very bad situations, and turned as the leopard jerked as if it had been electrocuted. The game had woke it up. It was angry.

His hands were still shaking, but they steadied as he stepped between the others and the threat in front of him. This was his fault. He would protect the others, no matter if he was a dame or not!

“Keep playing!” his voice was steady for all that fear was bleeding into it, but he doesn’t stutter. Tsuna raised his makeshift weapon, swinging it at the leopard when it lunged. “ Keep playing! I’ll try and keep it busy!”

It was a relief beyond words when Hibari-san shifted to stand shoulder to shoulder with him. An unexpected comfort. He could hear the others behind him scrambling with the board and the unmistakable click of the dice. Hana seemed to have retained her human mind, as the monkey is quiet as Yamamoto reaches for the dice. Sasagawa-senpai nervously looks between the monkey Hana has become and Kyoko’s terrified face, but he doesn’t move from the protective stance he’s holding.

Tsuna keeps his attention on the leopard and Hibari, straining to find a way to work with a boy who had fighting in his blood, who had trained for years to be where he stood, while Tsuna...Tsuna had just picked up a metal pole and hoped. He had years of experience at keeping his bullies away, at taking the weaker blows and avoiding the strong ones. Tsuna was great at thinking his way around a fight, at evasion and outwitting,  but he didn’t think any of that was going to work on a leopard.

Still…

He refused to fall while people stood behind him.

Hibari lunged first, seemingly fearless as the leopard screamed at him. The older boy showed no hesitation at striking and dodging, even if his expression was one of concentration and determined focus, instead of the typical boredom and apathy.

It was rather obvious, watching Hibari fight here, fight for his- their - lives, that he had been holding back enormously on the student body. On the entire civilian population of Namimori. It became understandable, why he wore a look of boredom so often, why he presented such an unmoved and uncaring face to those who challenged him.

They were no challenge at all.

He can vaguely make Ryohei-senpai shouting encouragements from behind him, but he tunes it out as much as he’s able.

He puts his mind to work, even as he manages to keep from tripping and stumbling. He uses all his skills at working around fights, evasion and wit, to slip in wherever he can, helping Hibari keep the leopard away from the others, and from pinning Hibari down a second time. Tsuna leaps out of the boy’s way whenever necessary, herding the leopard into Hibari’s strikes where he could.

His head hurts and his vision is occasionally blurry, but he thinking faster and better than he has since-

-no-

He can hear as Yamamoto, begin to read the warning from the orb, but doesn’t dare to take his eyes off the leopard. Hibari has several slices, both in his clothes and skin. Tsuna doesn’t think they’re serious, as they haven’t slowed Hibari-san down in the slightest, but the injuries the leopard has been dealt seemed to have made hermore wary. It’s stopped with simply lunging and attacking.

Kyoko-chan makes a despairing noise that instantly draws Tsuna’s attention. He can easily read the words that rise from the board.

They grow much faster than bamboo, take care or they'll come after you.

It takes seconds for vines to begin overtaking the room, and Tsuna has to turn away from the leopard when vines try to wrap around his legs. He can hear Kyoko screaming, Ryohei’s signature shout and the loud screech of a monkey as Hana climbs to perch on her best friend’s shoulder.

Tsuna hated the environmental rolls. At least he could fight the animals. The environment was an entirely different situation, and usually took creative solutions. Otherwise they just had to ride it out until they rolled to destroy it.

Tsuna was forced backwards, away from the walls, as more and more vines grew through the concrete and out of the wall outlets.

He spared a glance around him to see how everyone else was doing, and noticed he wasn't the only one retreating towards the middle of the room. Even Hibari was being forced back, gray eyes wildy darting around the room, pausing a moment when his gaze lands on each of them.

Yamamoto, both Sasagawas’, Hana, Tsuna and himself. Six in all.

They all freeze as best they can, but the leopard is a bundle of agitated movement and thus, one of the plant’s first victims. Thick vines snagged one of the ankles of the leopard, yanking the cat off her feet and then, as it snarled and attempted to bite and claw her way out, higher up on the vine, a flower bloomed.

Vividly purple and somewhat pretty, at least, before the petals contract and spits out several barbed projectiles.

Tsuna makes a horrified noise as he watches the leopard as it writhed in the vine’s grip, attempting to free herself, even as blood dripped onto the floor. The leopard’s struggles began to slow, as she started choking and coughing before, scarcely half a minute after the barbs had struck, it went still.

He jerks his head around, searching for the gameboard in the mess of green and manages to spot the misty words.

These purple lovelies you'd want to grow...if it weren't for the poison barbs they throw.  

Kyoko! Kyoko, it’s your turn! Roll the dice!

Tsuna cries out as, shortly after he tells Kyoko to take her turn, a vine catches his ankle and begins to drag him towards the back wall, which, as he watches, crumbles under the force of something on the other side.

“Tsuna!” He can hear Yamamoto yell for him, but doesn’t spare a moment to look at him.

He hears Kyoko scream , followed by Ryohei yelling. He rolls violently as he tries to free his leg, unable to loosen the plant’s grip. The makeshift staff does nothing, and instead Tsuna rolls to his stomach, taking the metal rod, and rearing up before slamming it into the ground.

It’s a small blessing as the rod sinks into the ground a bit, acting as an anchor and stopping the plant from pulling him forward for a moment. It still pulls at his leg and it hurts . But it allows Yamamoto and Hibari to catch up with him, and both boys grab ahold of him, even as Hibari reaches into his ever present jacket, inside the pockets sewn into the inside, and pulls out a knife.

Tsuna has never appreciated the Demon of Namimori as much as he did in that moment.

He’s quick to start sawing at the vine, and all three boys watch as the wall heaves under the pressure of whatever is on the other side. None of them want to think about it, whatever Jumanji will conjure up in it's fun. As the wall crumbles, all three watch is horror as a large yellow pod-like flower shoves its way through the rubble, opening to reveal the vine attached to Tsuna’s leg leads into the pod itself.

It has teeth.

Tsuna is not ashamed of the fact that he screams at the sight. Even Hibari freezes in shock and something very much like fear on his no longer stoic face.

“GET IT OFF!” Tsuna screeches even as he tries to pull away from the vines on his leg, and he is so thankful that Hibari doesn’t even hesitate.

“Hold onto him, Herbivore.”

He desperately appreciates how calm Hibari’s voice is, even though he can hear the strain.

Yamamoto shifts his hold, bracing against the floor as he prepares to take all of Tsuna’s weight, and Hibari waits until he’s sure the baseball star has Tsuna before he lets go. Instead he takes the vine in one hand, and his knife in the other, setting up to be quick and harsh in his destruction of the plant.

A flash of purple, a glint off a blade and Tsuna is free, the force sending him tumbling into Yamamoto's arms and he clutches at warmth and safety.

The plant was going to eat him.

Tsuna breathes, and the exhale shakes with the beginnings of a sob, even as he rolls to his feet, hissing as he puts weight down on his foot. They can’t sit still- the vines are still there, still growing, still spreading .  He can hear people screaming outside the room, and he closes his eyes for a moment.

He may be called dame , may be bullied by most of this school, but he wouldn’t wish this game on anyone. He tries not to think about the other environmental rolls they hadn’t been able to contain. They’d barricaded the doors to keep the animals inside, but-

They hadn’t been able to stop it all.

“Roll the dice Kyoko-chan!” His voice shakes, still edged with the beginning of a hard cry, but-

If they win it will all go away.

The game said so.

Ryohei is hovering over his sister, as she picks up the dice, her hands shaking.

“Herbivore.”

Tsuna turns to look at Hibari, and his eyes shine with tears, but he smiles at him, small but sincere when he locks eyes with the boy. “Thank you for saving me, Hibari-san.”

Hibari pauses, looking surprised to be thanked, before he shakes his head and continues what he had been preparing to say “I will help you contain whatever comes out of that game.”

Tsuna jerks back, shaking his head quickly, “No! Hibari-san, if you make the game think you want to participate, it will make you play.”

Hibari looks better than the rest of them, but he’s still rattled and pale around the edges. That doesn’t stop his lips from firming as he approached Tsuna and Takeshi all the same. “Then I’ll play. This game is a threat to everyone in my town. I will keep it contained even if I have to play to do it.”

Tsuna frowns, but doesn’t argue.

He knows better. The game wouldn’t have let him go either way. He’d interfered with the leopard after all.

Instead he dips his head in acknowledgement, and closes his eyes. Another classmate dragged into his mistake. Hot tears press against his eyelids, but he forcibly swallows the sob.

His legs are unsteady, but Yamamoto's got a hand absently wrapped around his shoulder and they slowly return to where the board is. Sure enough when Tsuna, Yamamoto, and Hibari take their places around the game, it has expanded, and another piece- a leopard ironically enough- has been added to the board.

Kyoko meets their eyes for a moment, bright, wet eyes, but determined, before she takes a steadying breath and rolls.

Tsuna would like for nothing more then to go home to his bed and wrap himself in all his blankets and cry himself to sleep. He wants to see his mother again. He wants a normal school day. Even if these people will never speak to him, if the bullying picks up, if his teachers ignore him even further, save to humiliate him in front of the class, if it means ending the game right then and there, he would take it.

But the dice have been thrown and they land and Kyoko’s piece moves forward, forward, forward-

It lands and-

Two threes.

Doubles.

Hana makes a noise, distinctly monkey before she jumps off of Kyoko’s shoulder and the hair begins to recede and limbs lengthen and screeches of pain become human until it’s Hana as a human standing, breathing hard and wild eyed, but undoubtedly back to normal.

Nothing else happens beyond that.

For a moment, for a moment, everyone looks to one another and smiles, perhaps even laughs a bit.

Kyoko rolls again.