OpalescentGold: I do not own Katekyo Hitman Reborn!

Waltz: a dance in triple time performed by a couple who as a pair turn rhythmically around and around as they progress around the dance floor.


Hibari Kyoya looked up at his father, shoving long strands of black hair out of his eyes. He would need to get a haircut soon, he thought absently, this was no good for training. And he needed training.

He wanted to be strong, like his mother, like his father.

"Otou-san?" Was it time? He had waited for so, so long with that strange not-baby in red clothes for his parents to return from the hospital. Kyoya knew the not-baby, always smiling and calm, was strong, but he liked the monkey better and his parents the best.

"Come," Hibari Satoshi commanded simply, turning on his heel. His steps were strong and sure and silent on the tatami mats, long black hair twisted into a topknot like a samurai of old.

Kyoya followed his father to the new room that they had prepared in the last month. He had, with Otou-san's help, painted the fusuma panels himself with a creamy color that had then been patterned with bamboo shoots and vines.

Admittedly, the child had gotten most of the paint on himself and on the floor than actually on the wall, but that wasn't the point.

As he stepped into the nursery, he found his mother sitting seiza on a zabuton, back ruler-straight and eyes sharp as knives. There was a bundle of white cloth in her arms. Hibari Rika was missing the swelled stomach she'd had for a while now, her white yukata flowing loosely onto the floor.

"Come meet your baby sister, Kyoya," she said without looking up from the delicate parcel she held. Okaa-san smiled as Otou-san came to stand by her, body curved protectively over the newcomer.

Kyoya crossed the room on careful feet, feeling oddly expectant. Kneeling next to his mother, he peered down, gazing down into a young and innocent face in the grasps of peaceful slumber. Was this it, his newborn younger sibling?

"She looks weak," he said with a small frown, almost afraid to touch her. It was as if she would shatter with a poke, so soft and fragile and vulnerable. Had he ever been this frail? He didn't think so.

"She will grow," Otou-san replied evenly, lifting a hand to stroke the crown of dark hair that the baby boasted. "Your sister is but a few days old at the moment."

"What's her name?" Kyoya asked, watching the gentle rise and fall of her chest, the evidence that she was alive, this small life that was now his to watch over, although his parents had said nothing of that sort. He was a smart boy.

"Masami," Okaa-san proclaimed as the baby yawned widely and peeled open her eyelids so steel gray eyes, fuzzy with sleep, could blink up at them with interest. "The newest member of the Hibari family."

His new sister, Kyoya realized as the months flew past in a blur of tears and diapers and giggles, was a relatively quiet baby compared to the few playmates that his mother occasionally brought to the house. They were disruptive, annoying, screaming at the slightest provocation. It made his head hurt.

Masami rarely cried. Rather, she liked to observe the world around her with curious eyes, batting at the toys that his parents gave her and patiently fussing with the puzzles that were meant for mental stimulation, cooing delightedly at him or his parents when they appeared.

But that didn't mean she wasn't a baby yet.

Kyoya winced and was thrown to the floor as a wail echoed throughout the house, insistent and demanding. He remained unaccustomed to the noise that occasionally tried to burst his eardrums, although he would have to adapt. Focus was important for fighting.

"Enough," Otou-san said, striding out of the training room without further ado. Okaa-san had left to do the shopping, leaving her husband and son to keep an eye on the previously slumbering baby.

Kyoya gritted his teeth and got back on his feet, hurrying after his father. Already having picked up the crying baby, Satoshi glanced at his firstborn.

"Prepare some milk," he ordered, rocking his daughter from side to side soothingly. Masami frequently woke up hungry, so that was most likely the issue, though her cries had already dwindled down to sad sniffling. Her hands waved in the air, making shaky grabbing motions.

Kyoya nodded and headed off to the kitchen where he quickly prepared the milk formula as his mother had taught him not long ago. Shaking the bottle, he handed it back to his father and frowned at his sister, not that she was in any position to care.

Otou-san nodded in thanks and held it up to Masami, who latched onto the nipple immediately and began sucking. "You must refine your concentration. Loud noises cannot knock you off balance."

"Hai." Kyoya stared at his baby sister with a mild frown, still not quite sold on her. "When is she going to talk?" Thus far, all Masami had vocalized were baby talk and nonsensical babbling. Completely unsuitable.

"Whenever she so wishes," Satoshi said unhurriedly. "Masami is only five months old. Be patient, Kyoya. Patience will do you well in life." Otou-san could sit and meditate for hours on end without effort.

Kyoya wasn't so certain but nodded in reluctant acquiescence. He would try.

"Happy Birthday, Masami," Kyoya said solemnly to the girl he held in his arms. She was strong enough now that he could carry her in a vertical position, gray eyes darting here and there, hands clinging feebly to his shirt.

Masami giggled, smiling toothily at her older brother. She had started teething not long ago, and while she was behaving for now, he hadn't been impressed at all when she had started chewing on his stuff animals and occasionally Kyoya himself.

Now officially a year old on the second of April, she still hadn't said her first word, but their parents weren't concerned, even though Kyoya was a bit disappointed. Rika and Satoshi had been betting with each other on who their daughter would call for first.

"This way, Kyoya," Okaa-san told him with a small smile, gracefully leading her children to the chabudai covered in red cloth. Taking Masami from his arms, Rika placed her daughter in the center of the table and stepped back. This custom had actually been integrated into the Hibari family from their relatives in China, particularly Fon.

Whatever Hibari Masami might choose, it would be her choice alone that decided her future.

Kyoya watched silently with his parents as his sister glanced around questioningly at the splay of various items before her. He didn't remember doing this himself, but Otou-san had told him that it was from this tradition that he'd received his first pair of tonfa.

Masami blinked slowly and began to crawl around on the cloth, eyes bright with curiosity. She could stand now, but walking was still out of her reach. Moving past a broadsword and a revolver, she smiled and wrapped her fingers around—

"A gunsen," Kyoya identified as Masami played with the Japanese war fan with delight, instinctively avoiding the sharp edges that decorated the seemingly harmless weapon.

Okaa-san smiled coolly, satisfaction glittering in her dark eyes. "Excellent." An assassin commonly disguised as a courtesan, Rika had recognized from the start that her son was not suited to her talents, but that of her husband's.

But her daughter...oh, her daughter was her's to guide.

Satoshi smirked faintly and shook his head. As a man of the law, he supposed he should stop his wife from creating another holy terror. At least Kyoya would use his powers for good...mostly.

But as a husband...

"Do try and keep her humble," he advised.

"Now, would I not?" she sniffed.



Kyoya paused his katas and looked up to find Masami sitting on the floor, blinking at him with wide, inquisitive eyes, a pout on her lips. The uchiwa she had been playing with previously was a crumpled mess on the floor.

'...Okaa-san and Otou-san aren't going to like this,' he thought to himself, though, in his opinion, it made perfect sense. While their parents made certain that one of them was around at all times, Rika and Satoshi were nearly always busy with work, leaving it to Kyoya to look after Masami the majority of the time.

Naturally, his title would be the first word she ever spoke. They had both lost that bet.

"Onii-san," Kyoya corrected with a satisfied smile, walking forward to see what his little sister wanted. She beamed at him and raised her arms in the universal gesture to be held.

Sighing to himself, he lifted Masami up and frowned at her sternly. "You're going to be spoiled," Kyoya scolded half-heartedly, lips twitching.

She merely laughed and clapped her hands, looking up at Kyoya's face adoringly. "Onii-san! Onii-san!" Masami cheered, waving her fists in the air.

Kyoya sighed again and then froze as a chilling aura appeared in the doorway, his Okaa-san's sickly sweet voice soft with venom. "What was that, Kyoya?"

The three-and-a-half-year-old hesitated for a split second before squaring his shoulders and turning to meet his doom. In his defense, Kyoya hadn't been encouraging Masami to call her older brother's moniker at all.

Masami sniffed and tiptoed into her big brother's room, rubbing at her eyes. She didn't like the dark, even though she was three years old now and her parents kept telling her that it was nothing to be afraid of. "Onii-san?"

Kyoya came awake instantly, dark eyes instantly finding her in the gloom of his room, lit only by a faint stream of moonlight. She envied how he could do that, but Okaa-san said she would be able to, too...one day. One day.

"Masami," he said quietly, sitting up in his bed. "What's wrong?"

"'m scared," she whispered, bottom lip wobbling and tears glinting in her eyes. She swallowed hard and did her very best not to let the tears fall. Crying, she knew although no one had told her, was unwelcome and improper.

Kyoya considered that for a moment. He had probably never been scared in his life. "Why?"

"Had a n-nightmare," Masami confided, lowering her eyes to the ground. She knew it was silly of her to be scared by a nightmare at this age. A Hibari was meant to be tough and fierce and powerful, not scared by fake things like dreams.

Onii-san grunted and shifted over in silent invitation. "What was it about?" he asked while she slipped into his futon, slipping under the warm comforter.

"I-I was being tied up," she said, cuddling close. "A-And I co-couldn't move and then they were lighting me on fire, and—and—"

Kyoya sighed and made a note to inform their mother that her horror stories of witches being burned at the stake in the Dark Ages were not good for his sister's state of mind. "Hn. Herbivores are not frightening, Masami."


"Weak, harmless, pathetic creatures. They make up more than ninety-nine percent of this world," he told her calmly. "Tell your nightmare herbivores that I'll bite them all to death."

Masami was startled into a giggle. "W-Will that work?"

"Of course."

And true to word, she didn't have any nightmares that night with her older brother curled up around her.

"Leaving?" A four-year-old Masami peered up sorrowfully at Kyoya, a petulant frown on her lips. "Onii-san's leaving?"

"Only for a little while," Kyoya promised, blank-faced, practice tonfa hidden away on his person. Okaa-san and Otou-san had made sure he knew how to take care of himself, and Masami was already starting on training. Theirs was a family built on strength, and even their youngest would know how to protect herself.

"Where?" She tilted her head, hurrying to keep up with her older brother's longer strides as they walked to the door, her small purple kimono brushing the floor. Rika loved to play dress-up with her daughter, but Masami didn't mind. The long sleeves were fun to swing around.

"School," he said shortly, eye twitching at the thought of crowds of annoying, loud, weak herbivores. He went out with their parents sometimes, and the utter lack of discipline beyond their house was horrifying to witness. "Namimori Elementary School."

"Oh." Masami smiled demurely, latching tightly onto his left leg at the door. "Good luck, Onii-san!"

"Hn." Kyoya spared a pat on the head for his baby sister. When she let go, he scowled and went off to school for the first time.

After Onii-san left, Masami spent the day as usual, if a bit more distracted than usual. There were etiquette lessons, training in tessenjutsu, hand-to-hand combat, shodo, reading time...

"Stand up straight!" Rika snapped, examining her daughter with a critical eye. "Chin up, shoulders back, and alert, Masami! Eyes on me!"

"Hai, Okaa-san," she said obediently, trying not to let the heavy books stacked up on her head fall. Balancing, Masami had been told, was essential for training and a good exercise for building up the necessary grace her mother demanded.

Then there was tai chi, ikebana, anatomy, tea ceremony, snack time, meditation...

The front door slammed open with a bang, the tension in the entire house rising dramatically. Eyes flying wide open, Masami made puppy-dog eyes at her mother, who sighed and gestured for her to go. Beaming, the little girl dashed to the genkan and flung herself at Kyoya.


Catching her with gentle hands automatically, the dark frown on Kyoya's face lightened slightly. "Masami."

"Welcome back, Kyoya," Rika greeted, coming up behind her daughter at a much slower pace. "Masami, what have I told you? Glide, don't stomp. And what's the proper way to greet your brother?"

Masami heaved a heavy sigh and pulled back from Kyoya to perform an elaborate bow awkwardly. "Greetings, Onii-san," she chanted dutifully.

The corners of Kyoya's mouth tilting subtly in a smirk, he relented enough to give a small nod to his long-suffering sister. Their mother was a harsh taskmaster, especially on Masami. Then again, their father was the same with Kyoya.

"Good, now don't make me say it again," Okaa-san said sternly before turning to her son. "Kyoya, I'm going to go grocery shopping. Watch your sister."

"Hai." Knowing his mother, Kyoya was of the mind that she wouldn't get back until ten o'clock at night, leaving him to make dinner for the two of them. Admittedly, Masami was a good sous chef, for, despite her wariness of flame and hot oil, she was almost frighteningly skilled with small knives.

"So?" Masami dropped the formality as soon as Rika was gone to flutter around Kyoya curiously, long black hair twirling in the air. "How was school, Onii-san?"

"Terrible," he said bluntly, stalking into the kitchen and falling into a chair. "Masami, tea."

"Hai!" Setting up water to boil, she prepared the teapot with confidence. Practice made perfect, after all, and Rika made her practice twice daily. "What was wrong with it?"

"The herbivores," Kyoya growled, eyebrows coming together, "were even worse than I expected. Constantly chattering and crowding, unbelievably weak, completely without discipline, littering everywhere and stupid beyond what I thought was possible."

Masami hummed to herself, trying to think of a way to fix things like Okaa-san always said she should. The best way for her right now, Rika had said, was to start small and build her way up. "What about the teachers?" she asked, scrambling onto the chair next to her brother's. "Aren't they supposed to enforce the rules of the school?"

He scoffed dismissively, looking at her sideways in a way that meant she'd said something very stupid. "Just as pathetic. They do nothing."

"Hmm, well then," she said, leaping down to pour the hot water into the teapot, "why don't you do something about it, Onii-san? You're really strong." Really, really strong. Masami never stood a chance of more than two minutes when they sparred.

But that was okay. Okaa-san said she'd improve if she kept training, so Masami always did her best when it came to training time. She didn't want Onii-san to leave her behind!

Kyoya was silent while they waited for the tea to steep, but the smirk that stretched over his face at last could have chilled the bravest of men. "You're right. I do believe that is exactly what I'll do." The manner in which he fingered his tonfa made his intentions clear.

Masami mimicked their mother's serene smile and poured the tea.

After that, with some help from their father, Kyoya set up a patrol around Namimori Elementary School, biting to death any and all wrongdoers that he caught with his tonfa. It was very efficient and effective, to the collective horror of the teachers, parents, and students.

Mostly, especially, the students.

Masami was just content to stay at home, practicing with her fan and learning what her parents wanted to teach her.

Traditionally, tessenjutsu was defensive in nature, with plenty of joint-locking and strangulation techniques thrown in. When closed, the fan could be used to strike like a baton, occasionally at pressure points, or to parry and shield. The ribs were sharpened, enabling her to stab or jab if she wanted. When open, the fan could be used to disorient opponents and slash with the fan's sharp edge.

Okaa-san, being awesome and scary, went ten steps beyond that and crafted razor sharp iron foils with a coating of white palladium on her daughter's fan, enabling increasingly interesting and deadly maneuvers.

Of course, Masami was taught every style of combat possible for fans. Hibaris never did anything halfway, much less the security and protection of one of their own. She was also cautioned to be very careful to not slice her own throat with the gunsen. That would be absolutely pitiable.

On the side, there was aikido, dancing, poisons and antidotes, shogi, calligraphy, pressure points, kimono styles, shamisen, go...

Rika knew a lot of stuff.

Masami loved to dance in particular. At times, when her mother was busy with something or another, she would just creep into the sparring room and dance with her fan to the beat of her heart. It was like flying, she thought, the purest freedom in the world.

When Okaa-san caught her once, she just nodded and said it was good for her balance and mobility. Whatever that meant. Then, Rika taught her the waltz, tango, and foxtrot, and hammered in dance styles until her head hurt and her muscles ached.

Satoshi, on the other hand, liked to emphasize honor, rules, and integrity. He was responsible for educating Masami on the outside world, the politics and governing of Japan, Italy, France, etc., as well as the basics of math, science, diplomacy, and history.

There was also the occasional info on the shadowy underworld, but that was meant to be kept a secret.

Otou-san was also the one who sat her down one day and explained the world. "There are three different types of people in the world, Masami. First, there are the herbivores, who crowd together to protect themselves and follow wherever the crowd leads. The world consists of numerous herbivores."

"Like Onii-san's classmates?" Despite his new patrols, Kyoya would still sometimes mutter in disgust when he came back home about the herbivores he was forced to associate with. Masami normally just listened and nodded understandingly even though she sometimes didn't really know what he was talking about.

"That's right. Then, there are the carnivores, like our family. We are the strong that will inherit the world, the ones that corral the herbivores when it is necessary. We protect our territory and do not hesitate to fight for what is ours. There aren't many carnivores in the world."

"What about the third type?"

"The omnivores. They are both herbivores and carnivores, the rarest, I believe. Capable of herbivorous behavior and carnivorous strength, omnivores tend to stay herbivores until the situation is dire, and then rise to the challenge as a carnivore."

"But we're the carnivores?"

"Yes. Don't ever forget that."

Onii-san was gone during the day for school, but when he came home, Okaa-san or Otou-san would go out, sometimes to buy food and sometimes to do other activities. Satoshi investigated, and Rika murdered, leaving the two children to spend the night however they wanted.

There were never any problems. Both Kyoya and Masami were independent children, probably the most independent children in Namimori. They sparred most of the time—Kyoya always won—and then Kyoya did his homework while Masami fiddled with puzzles and riddles. Eventually, they made dinner, and then it was bedtime.

Neither of them were much bothered by the long stretches of silence so everything worked out. The quiet was comforting, in a way.

Occasionally, if by some rare chance Kyoya got injured in a fight, Masami would frown and get out the First-Aid Kit to patch him up. She never fussed because she knew her brother wouldn't like it, and by mutual agreement, they didn't tell their parents.

Even though they probably knew anyway.

A year passed. And then two.

Masami was five. She went to school.

"Greetings. My name is Hibari Masami. Please be good to me." She bowed smoothly and sat back down, smiling pleasantly.

That smile was a lie, but Rika had been very clear on this. First impressions were important...though by the whispers already drifting through the small classroom, there was no need.

Onii-san had made a big impact during his two years.

"Hibari? Isn't that...!"

"That really scary guy my brother told me about!"

"I hear he attacks anyone who doesn't follow the rules!"

"Are they really related?"

Masami pursed her lips mildly, but said nothing as the next student was called to introduce himself. So far, she hadn't been at all impressed with her elementary school. Or, to be more exact, her classmates were none too interesting.

But she guessed she should give them a chance or two. Just to be fair.

Despite that thought, Masami still spent nearly the entirety of the remaining class time staring out the window. She wondered what was out there, beyond the horizon.

When recess came around at last, the teacher, Yumiko, breathed a sigh of relief. The first week of the year was always the worst. Well, the last could compete and it was a narrow win, but nevertheless, it was the first, so chaotic and confusing.

Stepping out to supervise the children, she observed happily that most of the kids had befriended one or two others and were now playing without a care in the world. Some of the boys had even started a game of soccer.

...maybe not soccer, she corrected herself when one of the boys—Kusaka Kozue, if she recalled correctly—picked up the ball and threw it, but a game, a bastardized sport undoubtedly.

Sweeping her gaze across the field, she suddenly noticed a girl leaning against the fence, quite obviously alone. Frowning in concern, for no child should ever be left to play alone, Yumiko made her way over to the forlorn student and was promptly pinned to be spot by dove gray eyes.

The teacher froze unwittingly, her mind catching up at long last as she took in who the girl was. Long ebony silk pinned up by elegant flower kanzashi, several strands long enough to brush her collarbone, faultless posture.

Hibari Masami.

Yumiko knew of Hibari Kyoya, of course, everyone did. She didn't entirely approve of his disciplinary methods—by God, she had seen him beat someone bloody!—but she did admit that the school had certainly calmed down since he came along.

There were less infractions, fewer fights, diminished trouble from the students. So, the teacher was predisposed to like Masami with her lovely manners and gentle smile, even as she understood her other students' reserve regarding the girl completely.

"Yumiko-sensei," Masami greeted with a graceful bow that Yumiko found herself ridiculously jealous of. She herself would probably trip and fall head first, and she was more than twenty years older! "Is there something the matter?"

Shaking off her musings, Yumiko knelt down to the girl's level with a warm smile. "No, no, Masami-chan. I was just wondering: why aren't you playing with everyone else?"

Masami straightened up, looking unusually thoughtful for her age. Looking around the playground, she reached up and removed the object that hung around her neck, snapping it open to reveal a lovely black fan with gleaming silver patterns.

Taken aback though she didn't show it as the girl began to fan herself lightly, Yumiko couldn't help but question what sort of people the child's parents were to invoke such odd behavior in a five-year-old. Surely, they must be rich. Perhaps she was imitating her mother? It would explain Kyoya.

Somewhat. Maybe. No, not really...

"I'm afraid I don't really like the games my classmates prefer," Masami said finally, smiling sweetly. "May I go inside and read a picture book?"

Yumiko frowned a bit, bewilderment creasing her brow. A bookworm, then? It wouldn't be the first time she'd heard the request from some of the more introverted students. "Alright," she allowed reluctantly. "Come with me."

As Masami followed the teacher back into the classroom, her gunsen hidden away in plain sight, she absently noticed the boy at the edge of the playground with spiky brown hair was being bullied.

She narrowed her eyes minutely and made a note to investigate later.

"Well?" Okaa-san crossed her arms, eyes steady on her youngest when the two returned home together for the sixth time. "How was school today?"

"Boring," Masami proclaimed, pouting cutely. "I already know all the stuff they teach us." Although, at least the teachers had had the decency to introduce origami today.

"I told you it was filled with herbivores," Kyoya reminded her, slipping off his shoes. "They're dull."

"I know," she sighed, wandering off to the kitchen to prepare their customary tea, "but I still expected more."

Rika nodded contemplatively and left to go talk to her husband.

"Neh, Onii-san, can I see the school registry?" Masami inquired after they finished their tea. The Hibaris were a traditional family, but they weren't so stupid as to neglect factors that were best on their side. Technology was one of them. For all that their home was old-fashioned, they did have the latest computers available, should they need the resource.

Personally, she liked books better, and her brother didn't much bother with it at all, but they had both been taught how to use the world of machinery to their advantage.

Kyoya flicked a telling look at her. "Why?" He knew his sister; she wouldn't have gotten in trouble so early on. And even if she had, she would have gotten out of it with ease.

"Curious," she said with an innocent smile. Okaa-san had drilled into her head that appearances were to be taken advantage of, and Masami was a five year old with a cute face.

The slight quirk of his eyebrow said quite plainly that her brother wasn't fooled at all, but Kyoya let it pass, getting up and logging them into the school website. "Your class?"

"Yes, please." Clearing the table, Masami began the preparations for dinner. While her brother could cook and did cook, she was better at it, so long as he kept a close eye on her when it came to the stove.

"Here." Kyoya turned the screen in her direction, rising to start chopping the carrots.

Drying her hands on a towel, Masami jumped off the stall that she used to reach the counter and searched the pictures displayed. It was easy to find the boy with his laughably fluffy hair.

Sawada Tsunayoshi.

Pursing her lips, Masami retrieved her fan and flipped it between her fingers, thinking. She would let it go for now. It was only the second week, so he'd probably get back up on his feet in a month or so. Besides, she didn't want to get involved in other people's affairs unless she couldn't help it.

"Done?" Kyoya asked blandly, the carrots now in thirty neat little slices and the onions next to go on the execution board.

"One second, please." Masami quickly scanned the page, memorizing pictures to names. Personal impressions were important, too.

Clicking on the exit button once she was done, she shut down the computer and concentrated on making delicious chicken stew. Maybe hamburger steak tomorrow? It was Onii-san's favorite.

Ooh, and perhaps some dango the day after? That was Masami's favorite dessert.

With how very pervasive Kyoya's reputation was, there would have been trouble sooner or later. Her brother had warned her himself, so Masami was somewhat surprised when the first incident came more than two weeks later.

She had thought they would have realized much sooner. Really, it wasn't as if there wasn't family resemblance.

"Hmph. So this is that brute's little sister?" The boy, two or three years older than her and a victim of her brother's tonfa no doubt, sneered down at her, a purple bruise vivid against the pale yellow of his skin.

His friend cracked his knuckles, smirking. "You should tell your brother not to mess around, little girl. Who in the world cares about littering?!"

"Don't worry, we'll make this quick," the third student sneered, closing in on Masami from the right while the first and second boxed her in from the front and the left. "When we're done with you, make sure to give our regards to your beast of a brother!"

Masami merely eyed the three idiots and sighed, closing her book gently. It was recess, and she, as usual, had asked to go inside to read. Yumiko-sensei was outside looking after the others, leaving her alone. Pity that she wasn't the easy prey that the older students expected. She could last up to fifteen minutes against Onii-san by now.

"Please cease and desist at once," Masami requested softly, retrieving her fan and snapping it open to fan herself. "I would rather not dance today." They would be unpleasant partners anyway.

"Hah, what does that even mean!?" the second student spit out, face twisting up. "What, going to call for big brother to come to the rescue? Dance? Who's dancing here?!" The other two joined him in laughing tauntingly, the ugly sound echoing in the empty classroom.

Masami could only exhale in resignation and shake her head. She put her book down and glanced around, pointedly memorizing the faces of the three boys. Should it be necessary, she would be able to look them up in the school registry later.

"Take this, you little brat!" The first boy roared, pulling back a fist. Slow. His stance was all wrong, too, full of easily exploitable holes. After so long solely sparring against her family, it was almost shocking how...weak this boy was. A hopeless herbivore, as Onii-san would say.

Pressing her lips together, Masami leaped from her seat in a fluid movement, closing her fan. There was no need to severely injure these fools. Whacking the first student in the neck with the steel gunsen, she was already moving before the other two could register the blow.

The boy from the left had rushed forward and barely managed to widen his eyes before she landed a blow to his stomach, and then followed up with another to the back of his head. She hit just enough to incapacitate, not enough to kill any brain cells, if he ever even had any in the first place.

"You retard!" The last one howled as his friends slumped to the floor, charging head-on at Masami with no finesse whatsoever. Suppressing her eye-roll—not proper, Okaa-san had said over and over—she turned to the side, the punch rustling a few strands of her hair as it passed, and struck the boy right in the solar plexus.

He fell, and she straightened up, the sudden skirmish shockingly short. Barely a few seconds had passed from beginning to end.

Pursing her lips, Masami gracefully stepped over the fallen students and spread her fan open to hold over the bottom half of her face. Judging by what she knew of Onii-san's patrols...

The door swung open to crash harshly into the wall with a jarring bang. Her brother stood in the doorway, tonfa in hand. A single glance of the room gave him the essentials of what had happened, and Kyoya raised an eyebrow at Masami.

She only smiled brightly, removing her fan from her face to greet her brother with a flourish of black silk and a bow. "Greetings, Onii-san."

"Hn." Kyoya stepped into the room to frown at the boys. "Stupid herbivores," he commented with disgust. "Masami is not a herbivore."

"Hibari-san?" An older boy with gelled-up black hair and a twig in his mouth poked his head into the room. "Is there a...problem...?" He trailed off, staring blankly at Masami and then at Kyoya, evidently more intelligent than the herbivores she had just defeated.

"Who's this, Onii-san?" she asked, unperturbed by the slight choking sound that followed. To put it lightly, her brother wasn't the most open of people, had probably never even mentioned a sister before, so similarities or not, the familial relationship was most likely a shock.

"Masami, this is Kusakabe Tetsuya," Kyoya said curtly, prodding one of the herbivores with a none-too-gentle boot and scowling when there was a pained groan in response. "Tetsuya, this is Masami, my younger sister."

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Kusakabe-san," Masami said, flowing into another bow. "Please, call me Masami." To hold off on the confusion of which Hibari he was addressing.

"O-Of course. It's an honor to meet you, Masami-san," Tetsuya said, the faintest traces of awe in his voice as he bowed back deeply. She assumed he was her brother's partner in crime, if not friend.

"Y-You faggot!" the third student, surprisingly still conscious, gritted out harshly, glaring for all his worth. Which...wasn't much. It was kind of pathetic, really.

A swift strike from a tonfa was quick to shut him up.

Yumiko-sensei never did quite figure out what all the yelling had been about. When she got there, the teacher found Masami peacefully reading her book, the bodies having been taken away by the boys not long ago.

She frowned and was met with guileless gray eyes. "Sensei? Is everything alright?" Masami asked, tilting her head to the side.

Yumiko resisted the urge to squeal. She was so adorable! And wonderful, too; the only one in her class who was perfectly well-behaved at all times, even if Yumiko did have plans to contact the girl's parents about her apparent unwillingness to socialize with classmates of her age.

"Not at all, sweetheart," Yumiko said with a smile and went off to brag to the other teachers.

Masami smiled and went back to reading about rainstorms.

Otou-san nodded silently and went off to find Okaa-san when Masami told him about her day that afternoon, showing no concern over the little incident, or unbeknownst to the children, the phone calls he'd received earlier in the day.

Masami just shrugged and prepared some tea. She was gaining a preference for black tea, although green wasn't so bad.

However, later that night, Okaa-san and Otou-san—who were both home at the same time for the first time in the past eleven months—informed Masami and Kyoya that they were expected in the sitting room

Masami settled onto the unoccupied position beside her brother and stared across at her parents with considering eyes. What was going on? Was she in trouble for some reason? Was Onii-san in trouble? Had something happened?

Otou-san was the one to drop the bomb. "Kyoya, Masami, it's time for Rika and I to leave."

...wait, what?

"What do you mean, Otou-san?" Kyoya narrowed his eyes, frowning. He didn't like surprises any more than she did.

"It's simple," Okaa-san said, taking a sip of her tea. "You and Masami are both in school now. You know how to take care of yourselves—the incident today proves that. There is no need for us to coddle you two anymore."

Masami struggled to keep her composure, knowing her mother would be disappointed in her if she abruptly started throwing confused questions at them, despite her (understandable) dismay at this uncalled for curveball. "Where are you going?"

"Wherever our work takes us," Otou-san said sedately. Reaching into the small bag he had set on the table, he retrieved two cellphones. "We have programmed our emergency numbers into these phones. If you need to reach us, you know how."

"Money will not be an issue." Okaa-san put her teacup down, leveling her children with a steely gaze. "Masami, I've taken you shopping before; you know what you need to buy. Should there be any problems, ask Kyoya."

Their parents were leaving. It would only be Kyoya and Masami left in their ancestral home. If they were to require help, they would receive none. If they got in trouble, they would have to get themselves out of it. They would be near fully independent, and that—

"Will you ever come back?" Masami asked, finding, to her own surprise, that once she thought about it, living alone with Onii-san wasn't nearly as scary as it probably should be. Their parents had been pulling away in small increments for a long time now.

"Yes. But only when we have the time and leisure, so don't count on it," Otou-san warned, sipping at his tea as if nothing was wrong.

And nothing really was.

"We'll be fine," Kyoya said firmly, no room for doubt in his voice. "You are leaving tonight?"

"That's correct." Nodding sharply, Okaa-san rose to her feet with the liquid-like grace that Masami hadn't yet achieved. "Do not disappoint us," she ordered, a sentiment clearly echoed by their father.

Masami dipped her head in consent while Kyoya scowled but nodded back. "Safe traveling, Okaa-san, Otou-san," she said quietly.

Rika vanished into the night without another word.

Otou-san stood up as well but spared the time to hug his children briefly. Masami returned the gesture, and though Kyoya tensed, he didn't push his father away.

In comparison to Okaa-san, Otou-san had always been the more affectionate one.

"Take care of each other," Satoshi said and then was gone himself.

Kyoya and Masami glanced at each other. It was official; they were on their own.

"Shall we dance?" she offered, flipping her fan in the air.

He smirked and led the way to the sparring room.

A year passed in relative peace, the two children gradually learning and adapting to their new situation. It wasn't particularly difficult. They had been well-prepared, after all, even if they hadn't been aware of it at the time.

As Rika had suggested, Masami took care of the general shopping. The regulars in the grocery store grew used to Masami wandering down this aisle or that and became fond of her, frequently offering assistance with choosing produce. She accepted graciously each time, of course.

The taxes were dealt with by Satoshi whenever the time came, so Kyoya came to view the required cleaning of the house as training. He set a goal for himself, one hour max, and made certain that their home was spotless in the allotted time. It was surprisingly effective.

Sweeping might be Kyoya's job, but laundry was Masami's. Her culinary skill had far surpassed her brother's, hence, Masami made all the meals. Accordingly, Kyoya did the dishes. They split the chores, kept an eye on each other, but didn't bother to try and give any orders.

That would have been pointless; neither of them had a personality that liked restraint.

Luckily, with their combined combat training, no one dared to question the validity of two children, one six and one eight, living alone, especially since they were Hibaris. Not that it would have changed anything, but avoiding trouble was all good and well.

Okaa-san had come back once—to teach them how to hide dead bodies—and Otou-san had come back twice—to drill them on Mafia Politics—but Masami liked to think they were doing fairly well by themselves.

But now she was in first grade and he was in third grade, and Onii-san wanted to expand his patrols.

Masami blinked at Kyoya over the chabudai. "You want to start patrolling the whole of Namimori?" Before and after school, apparently.

"Why not?" he reasoned. "This town is Hibari territory—our house was one of the first to be constructed on this land. It is my duty." And Kyoya took duty seriously.

She frowned, tilting her head to the side pensively. Masami knew her brother; he might listen to her on occasion, but if he really wanted to do something, he would, regardless of her thoughts on the matter.

So. She was somehow involved in this plan, too.

"And me?" Masami could hold her own against Kyoya for thirty minutes before exhaustion tripped her up, but he could be overprotective. With some reason perhaps—there had been four more incidents at school—but still. It wasn't as if any of those incidents had amounted to anything but broken dance partners.

A flash of something that could have been approval flickered across his eyes. Masami saw it sometimes when they were training and she got a good blow in, a rarity that was becoming more and more common these days. "You're coming with me."

She thought about it and shrugged; training then. Stamina, discipline, surveillance, and time with her brother. All good things. "Okay," Masami agreed easily.

And that was that.

Every morning, at sunrise, Onii-san would wake Masami up, and she would make them breakfast. They would meet up with Tetsuya—who had finally started calling Onii-san "Kyoya-san" to further dissuade a misunderstanding—and they would inspect the streets of Namimori.

If they caught someone doing something against the rules—e.g. crowding, littering, bullying, shouting, etc.—Kyoya would bite them to death, Tetsuya would lug them to a safe location afterward, and Masami would watch calmly. Then, they would go to school.

The same thing occurred after school, but ended with the three separating at sunset so Tetsuya could get home and Masami and Kyoya could eat dinner.

Another year passed with Kyoya gifting Masami a pretty white tessen with chromoly steel black foils that mirrored her gunsen on her birthday. A tessen was sturdier than a gunsen, capable of bashing someone unconscious without much effort on her part. On the other hand, a gunsen was lighter, much better at slashing, so they made a good pair.

Masami was delighted, as the following night's hamburger steak proved. When his birthday came around on May 5th, her gift was a new pair of tonfa, this one with sides that included cruel-looking spikes and hooks and ends that released flails.

Onii-san brought home dango the next day. Momentarily, she wondered if it said something about their family that weapons, books on martial arts, and new techniques were the norm for gifts. Probably, but she didn't mind, so Masami let things be.

Tetsuya gave Masami a flower kanzashi with a sharpened end on her birthday and Kyoya a cashmere sweater for his. When his birthday arrived, Masami baked him a three-tier cake and Kyoya silently handed him a stun gun. They were tactful enough not to mention the tears in the older boy's eyes before he wiped them away.

And then it was time for summer break.

The Hibaris had a vast garden behind their house, with colorful Japanese maple trees and lush bamboo, towering pine trees over a clear cerulean pond filled with koi and surrounded by vibrant azaleas, a designated rock garden not far away.

It was normally Masami who raked the rock garden when the mood was upon her, but Kyoya occasionally pitched in when he was bored and had nothing else to do. She was no master gardener, but she had learned enough from her mother to take care of the garden when needed.

Sometimes, on the nice, cloudy, windy days when the sky was bright blue and the sun was gracious, the siblings liked to take a nap outside, mostly with Kyoya using his jacket as a pillow and Masami curled up next to her big brother. It was a lazy, hazy method of dwindling the hours away.

But when it stormed...

Masami danced on the damp ground on bare feet, her blue yukata completely soaked through. Her loose dark hair, long enough to reach the small of her back now, stuck to her neck, heavy with rain. She closed her eyes, navigating her way through pure instinct, the moss soft and springy underneath her feet.

The wind lashed, laughing, and the new maple tree leaves waved, drops of water sliding smoothly off of the surface to fall into the disturbed pond. She swayed and moved to the beat of her heart, to the rhythm of the summer shower, to the melody of nature.

"You're going to catch a cold," Kyoya said neutrally from where he was sitting on the engawa in a black kinagashi, shielded from the rain by the roof to view the world from beyond a curtain of sheer water, the thunder that boomed across the sky not warranting so much as a flinch from the boy.

It smelled like ozone and life and beauty.

Masami smiled and tilted her head up so the torrent could fall directly on her face, easily avoiding all the sharp, slipping rocks beneath foot, fans cutting gleefully through the pathways of countless raindrops. "It's alright, Onii-san." Lightning sparked, brilliant and dazzling, a jagged arrow in the darkened skies.

She laughed.

There was a special...wildness that ran in their family, the sort of thing that was always known by all and spoken out loud by none. Hibaris did as they wished, went wherever they wanted, proud and unyielding and fierce. They had their own kind of honor, moral, code, and they stood by it.

(Later, she would learn that this was due to the Cloud and Storm Flames that lingered in their blood.)

Kyoya and Masami had both inherited that wildness. The urge to run with the wind, drift along the open roads, follow no rules but the ones that they had created themselves. It was an insatiable wanderlust, unreasonable restlessness, coiled energy that begged to be released.

Kyoya conducted his fervor through the thrill of the fight. He could let loose when faced with the give and return of blows, the pump of blood and the pounding of hearts, the gratification of laying an enemy low before him, the satisfaction of a good, knock-down, drag-out spar.

Masami found her own freedom in the dance, although she enjoyed battle, especially since favorable fights were dances. In the rush of exhilaration as feet touched the ground only to rise again as if flying, in the easy harmony between body and music, in music and movement.

So, in the rain, while thunder and lightning entwined like lovers far above, Masami danced in the storm, and Kyoya watched silently.

It was back to school again soon enough.

'Boring,' was Masami's continued one and only assessment of her class. When she wasn't patrolling with Onii-san and Kusakabe-san, she was reading and with the initial boost from her father, most of her classes were terribly tedious.

Suppressing a sigh, she discreetly retrieved a paper from under her binder. It was the school registry. This one was on the fifth graders, still warm from when she had printed it out from the library fifteen minutes ago. Sliding it between the pages of her book, she proceeded to study silently.

It wasn't as if she didn't know how to add and subtract two-digit numbers.

After memorizing all the data on the class of 2-A, Masami leaned back and decided to analyze her classmates instead. There really was nothing else to do, and it was a good mental exercise that Okaa-san had encouraged.

Let's see...her eyes landed on short golden brown hair. Sasagawa Kyoko was quite popular in their class, known to be kind and carefree, with an older brother, Sasagawa Ryohei, a loud boxer who loved to give Onii-san trouble.

The friend she was whispering to was Kurokawa Hana, moderately more observant and suspicious than the rest of their classmates with a sharp tongue and a temper to go along with it.

Behind Hana was Yamamoto Takeshi, a budding baseball player with a perpetual smile on his face and an easy-going attitude. His grades were somewhat below average though his sports prowess was beginning to attract notice.

Letting her gaze drift, Masami named details and specifics on each of her classmates, eventually arriving on a boy with gravity-defying brown hair in the very back, huddled in on himself with a confused look in his brown eyes.

Sawada Tsunayoshi, she thought with an inward sigh. Masami remembered the boy from before, but sadly, he hadn't improved like she had believed. Constantly bullied, an average student at best, abysmal at sports...the list went on.

As far as she was aware, he had no friends.

While not quite as much of a loner as her brother was—she could, at least, tolerate stupid "herbivores" and "crowding"—Masami was in no way a social butterfly herself. Generally alone, except for lunch when she joined Onii-san and Kusakabe-san on the rooftop, Masami kept to herself, polite when talked to but pointedly distant and aloof.

If her brother hadn't been The Hibari Kyoya, there most likely would have been more attempts at friendship and pointed talks from teachers, but he was and everyone knew of his ever-growing reputation. Mostly, they were just relieved that his sister wouldn't "bite them to death" for arriving in class two seconds after the bell.

Though, sometimes when she was particularly bored, she was tempted. It would be so easy...

But that wasn't good for her stellar student image now, was it? With her grades and manners—that had been quite literally beaten into her, mind you—the teachers considered her an angel in disguise in a classroom of devils.

Albeit, somehow, that very same angel had a demon of a brother that she hung around on a regular basis. Oh well, they figured, no one was perfect, not even little, pretty cherubs.

Since Okaa-san had made it clear that a good reputation and positive assumptions were advantages—a bad reputation had its uses, too, but good ones were best—Masami did her best to encourage that view discreetly.

No one expected an angel to set the world on fire after all.

The year after that—because time passed very, very quickly when you weren't looking—there was a fight with a bunch of delinquents that got out of hand. They had been harassing a poor store owner with graffiti and threats, and Kyoya caught them red-handed soon enough.

It started with a crowd of them surrounding a ten-year-old Kyoya, armed with brass knuckles and smug looks, as if they thought they could beat him, as if strength in numbers was enough to even out the odds.

Kyoya scoffed—there wasn't a chance in hell. The difference between herbivores and carnivores were far too vast to be bridged so simply.

"Vandalism and harassment will not be tolerated," he said coldly, tonfa at the ready. "You will all be bitten to death."

"Tch, who do you think you are?!" one of the yakuza shouted belligerently. "Let's teach him a lesson, guys!"

And they, being the stupid herbivores that they were, charged with loud, annoying cries.

Kyoya scoffed and threw himself into the heat of the battle. It was instinctive, the dodging of strikes, the returning blows, the steps and moves, like the dance his sister called it. Blood dripped to the ground, the scent of iron heavy in the air, pained cries of no concern of his, a pair of steel gray eyes right in front of him—

He hissed angrily, twisting to the side at the last moment. His tonfa hit her tessen sparsely and was promptly directed to a wall that crumbled under the blow. Yanking the tonfa back, Kyoya stared at his little sister.

Masami was familiar enough with his attacks that she hadn't faltered under the brutal strength of it, meeting his eyes squarely. There was no regret, no hesitation, only cool reason and simple pragmatism.

"Masami, what are you doing!?" Kyoya barked, incensed, infuriated, heart rate increasing without conscious control. He could have hurt her; that was meant to be the finishing blow to one of the pathetic herbivores.

"I think that's enough, Onii-san," Masami said quietly but firmly. She stood ramrod straight in front of the pile of bloodied delinquents, her loose cerulean yukata sufficient combat attire should it be necessary.

Which it absolutely shouldn't. He frowned at her darkly, eyes narrowing in clear warning. "Get out of my way. The herbivores must be bitten to death for disrupting the peace of Namimori."

"Look at them, Onii-san." She didn't step aside as she should but raised her hand to gesture with her fan towards his fallen enemies. "They've already been punished. Any further and they'll be maimed or dead."

One of the still conscious herbivores whimpered at the last part, but they both ignored him.

Kyoya scowled. "It doesn't matter," he decided coolly, lifting up his tonfa once more. "If they die, it'll simply mean they'll never again be a nuisance."

Masami didn't flinch as the herbivores did, but stood her ground and shook her head, lingering strands of black hair flying in the air. "Murderers are against the law, too," she said. "If you kill, the police won't be lenient."

That was...true.

Kyoya thought about it, the tension a humming, live wire between them. He glanced at the delinquents, at his tonfa, at Masami. At the consequences in her tone, at the quiet resolve in those identical gray eyes, at the tessen in her hand.

He didn't want to fight his sister. Not like this.

He reined in his bloodlust and put his tonfa away.

Masami smiled. "Thank you, Onii-san." Turning to Tetsuya, who'd lingered in the background anxiously and had doubtlessly been the one to fetch the dancer from the bookstore in the first place, she advised, "Call the ambulance."

The older boy nodded and dug out his phone, punching in the numbers while Masami turned at last to look at the weak herbivores she'd saved. Regarding them for a moment, fan held in front of her face, she shook her head again.

"There's a sushi store three blocks down we have never visited," she announced, stepping to Kyoya's side lithely. "I would like to investigate, Onii-san, Kusakabe-san."

"Hn." Spinning on his heel, Kyoya walked out of the back alley he had cornered the herbivores in, perfectly aware of Masami's muted footsteps and Tetsuya's heavier tread as they followed him.

When his sister handed him a silk handkerchief silently, he cleaned the blood off of his tonfa and put them away. Abruptly catching sight of the black case she held in her hand, he inquired, "What did you buy?"

"A pair of reading glasses," she answered idly as if the previous incident had never occurred.

Kyoya narrowed his eyes. "Your sight?" While far from participating heart to heart talks every week, the siblings did make a point to share important information with each other, but Masami had made no mention of this.

"Far sighted, just a bit," Masami said, clearly unconcerned. "The optometrist was of the opinion that, other than reading, I would be fine without glasses on a daily basis."

He nodded curtly and let the subject go.

The food at TakeSushi wasn't half-bad.

When Sasagawa Kyoko was nine years old, she was partnered up with Hibari Masami for a science project.

She had always been aware of the other girl, of course. Everyone was. The little sister of the famed Hibari Kyoya, Masami was the teacher's pet—who no one dared to call out—incredibly polite, and while not exactly mean or scary, put on a pedestal by just about everyone in the school.

Or, at least, that was what Kyoko had heard. Rumors weren't very reliable in fourth grade—or in any grade, come to think of it—but rumors, she reasoned, must have some sort of beginning.

Needless to say, she couldn't help but be slightly nervous when it was time to approach Masami after they were dismissed by their teacher. There was honestly no telling what the other girl would do; she was utterly unpredictable.

"Stop worrying about it," was the advice her best friend, Hana, offered. "She's just another classmate, strict brother or not. It's not she'll do anything to you. And besides, you have that violent big brother to protect you, don't you?"

"Hana!" Kyoko protested vehemently. "Don't call Nii-chan that! He's promised me he'll try and avoid fighting from now on anyway." She hated it when her brother got hurt.

"Yeah, yeah." Hana rolled her eyes. "We'll see how long that lasts. Now go and talk to your partner. Dawdling about isn't going to change anything."

Kyoko winced but knew that Hana was right in that blunt way of hers. Taking a deep breath and squaring her shoulders, she wove around the students planning out their projects to the desk on the right corner, backed on two sides by a wall and a window.

Masami was flipping through her textbook, face unreadable. She really was quite pretty, Kyoko thought. If she put in the effort, Masami could probably become one of the popular kids. But she doubted her quiet, indifferent classmate cared about that.

Glancing up at that very instant, Masami assessed Kyoko with a flick of sharp eyes and nodded, smiling with a polite edge. "Sasagawa-san. It's a pleasure to work with you."

Somewhat taken back, Kyoko swiftly regained her composure and smiled back brightly, chirping, "It's wonderful to work with you as well, Hibari-san!" If nothing else, her classmate was very smart.

"Please, call me Masami," she requested.

Kyoko lit up, relieved. It looked like her new partner wasn't so bad, after all. "Of course!" Opening her mouth to suggest the favor be returned, Kyoko thought of how formal Masami was and reconsidered quietly. Maybe after they knew each other better.

Dumping her stuff on a nearby desk instead, Kyoko dragged the chair over to make working with Masami easier. "So, shall we start?"

"I believe we shall."

Thankfully, Masami discovered that Kyoko, while honey-sweet to the point of making her head hurt, was not that bad of a partner. She knew how to research well and did her share of the work, despite seeming to not know the value of silence.

It was a tad disconcerting for Masami who generally spent time with Kyoya, who was far from verbose, and Tetsuya, who was a boy of few words himself, but she rapidly readjusted to listening to all of the gossip in their school.

Masami had never particularly been interested in such things, but Okaa-san had taught her how to recognize a profitable informant when she saw one. It helped that Kyoko was much beloved in their school. People told her all sorts of things without any prompting.

After finishing their project with a ninety-five percent—adequate—Masami realized that Kyoko truly was too friendly for her own good. The other girl had somehow gotten it into her head that Masami was a nice, sweet girl who was simply misunderstood.

Masami didn't know how it had happened, but eventually relented enough to keep a casual acquaintance with Kyoko after two weeks of cheerfully attempted conversations. An informant was an informant. At least Kyoko never tried to get Masami to join her group for lunch.

Disregarding how very noisy she had observed that crowd to be, Kyoya would have drawn the line at that. And while Kyoko's cheerful, unrelenting chatter could be annoying at times, Masami would rather not see her absent-minded classmate being hunted down by her brother.

Through her interactions with Kyoko, Masami gradually grew to know Kurokawa Hana as well. To her relief, Hana wasn't as overbearingly bubbly as Kyoko was, but possessed a dry wit and a wry sense of humor. Since Hana was sharp enough to keep up with Masami, Masami could put up with Hana.

And at the end of that year, Kyoya and Tetsuya graduated.

Masami couldn't say she was very thrilled about that.

"Namimori Middle then?" Masami asked during lunch in the last month of school, sitting in seiza on a zabuton she had placed on the rooftop.

"Yes. I will create a disciplinary committee," Kyoya stated, lounging on the bench with the bento she had thrown together that morning. "Tetsuya will be its first member."

"Who else?" Knowing her brother, all the problems would be solved with violence, meaning members who knew how to fight was a must-have.

Kyoya paused and gave her a look.

Oh, right. Onii-san didn't deign to give pathetic herbivores his attention. Why on Earth would he have any idea about potential members beyond their small group? As soon as she graduated, Masami would doubtlessly be a part of this committee, but that was two years away.

And a committee needed more than two people.

"Onii-san, do you remember that group of delinquents you danced with all those years back?" she questioned tepidly. Masami had certainly seen them around, lurking in the shadows before a sharp look or a beating from Kyoya sent them running.

She was fairly certain she had seen stars in their eyes a few times.

He nodded, chewing on some teriyaki.

"Why don't you go and recruit them for your committee? They know how to fight, they fear and respect you; they would be good subordinates with a few rounds of training." That her brother would dish out with bucketfuls of pain.

Kyoya deliberated the idea for the rest of lunch while Masami and Tetsuya waited patiently. At length, he said, "Tetsuya, you know where these herbivores crowd?"

"Hai." The older boy's job was to keep an eye out and an ear to the ground, especially of the herbivores that Kyoya had already bitten to death. He also knew of the local yakuza gang and dealt with the police when necessary.

Kyoya nodded and stood up, dumping his lunch in a nearby recycling can. "After school."

Kyoya's idea of recruiting was to storm into the base, startle the delinquents out of their wits, and demand they join his committee or be bitten to death. Again.

Sweatdropping, Tetsuya cast a desperate look at his leader's sister, only to find her covering a smile with her black fan. Evidently, she would be of no help in this situation, though should it come to a fight, she'd at least be able to keep Kyoya from going too far.

But for now...

Tetsuya sighed and stepped forward, holding a clipboard and drawing the attention of the terrified delinquents to him. "Alright, everyone interested over here! I'm going to be taking names and then I'll help register you lot with Namimori Middle."

...he really had no clue how the delinquents suddenly got it into their minds that he was their Savior and ended up copying his hairstyle to display their eternal gratitude.

Granted, Tetsuya should have known better than to ask the Hibari siblings for explanations. Kyoya merely shrugged indifferently, and Masami giggled from behind her fan.

"Just accept it, Kusakabe-san," she recommended. "It won't go away anytime soon." People believed what they liked to believe, regardless of any evidence to the contrary.

For God's sake, the teachers at Namimori Elementary still believed she was a dear who could do no wrong, despite the fact that her lovely classmates were all afraid of her, with the exception of Kyoko and Hana.

Tetsuya groaned and went off to write up training schedules. Kyoya had high standards, nigh-impossible standards, and if these ex-delinquents didn't reach those standards, they would be bitten to death.

Two weeks into the summer, Masami opened the door to see a baby on her step. She paused, taking in the black braided hair, red clothes and pacifier, as well as the heavy sense of power that clung to him. There was even a sleeping monkey curled around the back of his neck.

This was no ordinary baby, that was for sure. As for who...she had a notion, but best to confirm it.

"Greetings," she said, dipping into a bow because her mother hadn't raised her to be rude. "My name is Hibari Masami. Who might you be?"

He smiled politely, bowing back. "I am Fon, your granduncle. It's a pleasure to meet you, Masami."

Ah. She sighed inwardly; that was who she'd thought he might have been. She had never actually met him before, although she knew he had visited before she was born. Outwardly, she smiled and stepped back. "Please, come in, Fon-san. There is tea waiting on the table."

Fon nodded and was soon seated on a zabuton in her sitting room. "It has been a while since I've enjoyed tea in this room," he mused, hands wrapped around his hot teacup. "This is delicious, Masami."

She smiled lightly in acknowledgment. "Thank you, Fon-san." Refilling his cup when he finished, she inquired delicately, "What brings you here from China?" Her granduncle, she knew, was of the Chinese Triads.

"I was completing a job in Okinawa and thought I should drop by," Fon said evenly. "Rika and Satoshi have told me many good things about you and your brother. Speaking of Kyoya, where is he?"

"Overlooking remedial school," Masami explained. "He keeps the students under control." She would have been with him, but had decided that she wanted to spend this summer at home rather than under the hot, scorching sun; she sunburned easily.

Kyoya hadn't exactly agreed despite her tenth birthday having passed months ago, so they had ended up striking a bargain. If she could dance against him for an hour without faltering, then she was strong enough to be on her own.

A sweaty and sore Masami had won the deal after a truly intense dance that lasted one hour and twenty minutes, even though she'd technically lost the match, hence why she was home alone. It was just as well.

Kyoya disapproved of the Chinese Triads.

"I see." A peaceful pause while thoughtful eyes analyzed Masami. "Your brother doesn't like me, does he?"

She chose her words carefully, hiding her unease at being read so effortlessly. "He does not like your employers. Onii-san does not know you."

"But in his mind, there is little difference," Fon concluded gently.

Masami sipped her tea and said, "Will you stay the night, Fon-san?" Assuming her brother didn't kick him out the second he returned home.

The Storm Arcobaleno smiled and shook his head, flowing to his small feet. "I came to visit my grandniece and grandnephew. Thank you for the hospitality, Masami. I think I'll go and swing by the school on my way out."

She smiled back serenely and rose as well to see him out the door, bowing gracefully. "Best of luck, Fon-san."

Four hours later, Masami watched tranquilly as Kyoya arrived back home, face pinched and body rigid. He stared at her with dark, dark eyes. "Masami."

"We talked over tea," she said, flipping through a book on Switzerland. "He's not so bad, Onii-san."

"He's with the Chinese Triads," he rebuked as if that explained everything. In Kyoya's world, it probably did.

Masami merely sighed. "Please eat your hamburger steak, Onii-san."

With Kyoya and Tetsuya gone from Namimori Elementary School, some things changed and some things stayed the same. As it was an elementary school, the rule breaking rose, as was expected, but it wasn't drastic.

It wasn't as if there was fighting in the hallways all day.

But now students could be late by a few minutes without the risk of being bitten to death. They could slack off and occasionally litter. Masami wasn't Kyoya—she didn't particularly care if some trash never made it to the trash cans.

However, with her brother and their friend gone, she had the rooftop all to herself and the quiet was stifling in a way it had never been before.

Kyoko offered her companionship, of course, but Masami didn't like the rambunctious activities of the cheerful girl's friends either. Hana was the one who'd finally hissed in Kyoko's ear to stop pestering Masami, as she had been becoming mildly annoyed.

Masami eventually took to wandering the halls during lunch, testing her knowledge of the students and her own grace in weaving between the many bodies crowding the school without brushing against a single one of them.

It was on one such stroll that she re-encountered Sawada Tsunayoshi.

OpalescentGold: The Hibari family is very traditional, very old, and very strict. Also, they have a certain penchant for violence and (sometimes) wanton destruction. Their children inherit their ways, and thus, very strange characters are born. XD

Seriously, these two as children are scary. Just imagine what they'll be like when they grow up...

Of course, many, many thanks to my wonderful betas! I'm on a tumblr, btw. Please leave a review!~

Chabudai: tables with short legs.

Fusuma: sliding panels that act as doors and walls.

Futon: thin bedding meant for sleeping

Genkan: main entrance to a house.

Gunsen: lightweight but strong folding fans.

Ikebana: the art of flower arrangement.

Kanzashi: hair ornaments used in traditional Japanese hairstyles.

Kimono: Japanese traditional robes worn so that the hem falls to the ankle, with attached collars and long, wide sleeves.

Seiza: formal way of sitting, kneeling with legs folded underneath.

Shamisen: three-stringed musical instrument.

Shodo: the art of calligraphy.

Tatami: mat floors traditionally made of rice straw.

Tessen: heavy folding fans with outer spokes made of heavy plates of iron.

Tessenjutsu: martial art of the war fan.

Uchiwa: flat-faced fans.

Yukata: a casual summer kimono.

Zabuton: thin pillows used as cushions to sit on.

Zhuazhou: Chinese tradition on a child's first birthday; the parents place an assortment of items in front of their child and what the child chooses is said to determine their future inclinations and capabilities.