'Get to class.'
'I'll bite you to death.'
Sawada Tsunako traces the fading words on her forearm in awe, heart fluttering in her chest and breathing coming just a little too short.
She'd been late to class pleanty of times before, but this had been the first time she'd ever encountered Hibari Kyōya.
The terrifying demon prefect of Namimori Primary, she's heard plenty of stories about him before. She thought she'd gotten away without a meeting, given the boy was on his last year and would be moving up to Namimori Middle within the week.
Only, today she'd been outside retrieving the bento her classmates had torn from her hands and thrown out the window, and she'd met him.
Yet, it is only now, sat in the bubbly bath water her mother had ran for her upon returning home, that she'd noticed the words on her skin.
'Herbivore,' stretches across her soft stomach, 'Get to class' over her left thigh, and 'I'll bite you to death' is on her forearm, proudly stamped in a brilliant purple.
There's a lot of rumours about soulmarks, whispers that the bolder the colour -any colour, though no one really knows what dictates the colour either- the better.
Tsuna has never seen such a bold purple before in her life.
She wonders what kind of colouring her words are, and a sinking feeling in her stomach has Tsuna dreading pale, faint words on Hibari Kyōya. He doesn't suit pale words, his words should be as bold as he is.
And this is when the implications of it all hit her.
Because she is Hibari Kyōya's soulmate, but she is also a Herbivore. She is Dame-Tsuna, and no matter if they share words with each other, he'll never accept her as she is now.
So if she really wants this, really wants a soulmate, wants Hibari Kyōya, she's going to have to get stronger for it.
It's the only solution really, and Tsuna nods to herself, one finger still tracing the words on her thigh, even as they steadily fade.
She puzzles over how very bright they must have been hours ago, back when he first addressed her. Another part of soul marks, the time the words remain vary.
Another thing the scientists haven't managed to figure out yet, they don't have the slightest clue as to why some peoples words only last a precious few minutes, while others can go for hours and hours on end.
There are even some rare exceptions that go for days, and Tsuna has a feeling in her chest that suggests she is going to be one of those people.
That Hibari-san's words are going to stick around and refuse to budge off her skin, as stubborn as the one who spoke them.
And she's back to this again, the fact her soulmate is just, so much more than what she is.
Thinking it all over in her head for a few moments, Tsuna nods to herself, mind made up, and she sucks in a breath to shout.
"Mama?! Can I start doing martial arts?"
It's both a blessing and a curse when school breaks up for the new year.
That one week had been the most nerve wrecking of Tsuna's young life, just the thought that she might run into Hibari-san, might end up talking to him and he'd get her pale words and she wasn't ready! She wasn't strong enough yet, not good enough for him.
She was still Dame-Tsuna, and until she shed that title, she'd never be good enough for the fearsome Hibari Kyōya.
Still, the week passes without one incident, and Tsuna finds herself visiting the local dojo five times a week at the very least.
She can't quite talk her mother into letting her go everyday of the week, so instead Tsuna practices in the back garden under the spring sun, stepping through the moves, every last kata, until all the clumsiness is bled from her form and something that almost resembles grace begins to appear.
For the next year, that is all that matters to Tsuna, becoming better, becoming less of a Dame.
She stops reading the mangas, stops watching the animes and instead knuckles down in her studies. She doesn't know what Hibari-san is like as a student, but he held Namimori Primary in high regard.
She's already heard rumours of a 'Disciplinary Committee' springing up in Namimori Middle, and she has a good idea who runs that.
Still, if she is to shed the title of Dame-Tsuna, she has to become a good student, and even though the numbers hurt her brain, she slugs through the maths, she burns the history into her brain and fixes her grammar.
She will never be the best student there is, but that's okay.
Because Tsuna is taking really well to martial arts. Her sensei teaches her a mixture, not allowing her to stick to one set style and instead insisting she creates a collection that 'flows best for her'.
Tsuna isn't quite sure what he means, but she does know one thing. Once she focuses, once she starts to believe that maybe, just maybe, she can actually do this, it all starts to come easier.
It's difficult to explain, but sometimes, she can almost predict where the next attack will come from. Something inside her suggests moving left would be best right now, or that a high kick to the ribs would be better than the sweeping foot manoeuvre that she'd been contemplating.
If her eyes flicker amber beneath the dojo roof, well, no one really notices to comment upon it.
The more she works at it, the more confident Tsuna becomes, and it's getting closer and closer to the day she will graduate Primary school and instead move up to Namimori Middle.
There was never a question of her ever going anywhere else, not when that is the location of Hibari-san.
She hears the rumours, the whispers, of the Disciplinary Committee expanding outwards, patrolling not just the school, but all of Namimori itself.
It inspires a terrifying kind of awe in Tsuna, the fact Hibari-san is expanding outwards, is beating up the dangerous men that prey on the weak in their town.
And the next time the girls that have always bullied her begin pulling on her hair, something inside of Tsuna snaps. Hibari-san would never stand for it, and she's being a herbivore like the rest of them by just sitting back and allowing them to pick on her like this.
"Stop pulling on my hair," Tsuna demands, eyes narrowing -and unknown to her, shining like amber beneath the sun- at the other girls.
They pause for a second, before the meanest one laughs and gives her hair another tug.
"What are you going to do about it, Dam-"
She doesn't get a chance to finish that ridiculous nickname -that shameful name that follows her constantly, that she's spent a whole year trying to shake but people just aren't see it, why are they seeing it?- because Tsuna takes hold of that arm with one hand, and breaks her nose with the other.
The girl goes down screaming, her friends crying out in surprise and the sound summons the nearest teacher.
Even with a week of detention, Tsuna feels justified.
She stood up for herself. She's a good student now, and she's not a pushover anymore, and she refuses to be Dame-Tsuna again.
She won't even allow herself to think that name belongs to her now.
Right now, she is Sawada Tsunako, daughter of the amazing Sawada Nana, and, and soulmate of the terrifyingly awe-inspiring Hibari Kyōya.
So she walks into her detention with her head held high, and when the bullies try again, she beats them down with the same ruthless efficiency as her soulmate, not that Tsuna realizes others are starting to make comparisons.
Only, she doesn't chase after them.
Tsuna defends only herself, or anyone else she sees getting bullied.
Because it feels right. She won't go about starting fights, it goes against every feeling that sits in her stomach, she just can't do that.
No, Tsuna continues working, and she gets better and better as time goes on, and then the day comes that Tsuna moves up to Namimori Middle.
She sees flutters of a dark gakuran disappearing around corners, she hears the tale of Hibari-san 'biting herbivores to death' from her classmates, but not once does she ever have an interaction with him on her own.
She doesn't feel ready for it yet. She still has room to grow, room to get strong and bold and better.
But she can't quite help her eyes lingering on the corridors, glancing out of the window once the bell rings.
Hibari-san moves with a relentless efficiency as he takes down those he sees doing wrong, and now that she has a better understanding of martial arts, Tsuna can appreciate every fluid movement with the trained eye of a professional.
It's around this time that one of her old bullies notices her lingering gazes, and spreads the vicious rumours that 'Dame-Tsuna's crushing on Namimori's Demon Prefect'.
Whenever another confronts her over it, Tsuna would blink, then offer her the same smile her mother gives the business men that come to the door. The hollow one, full of threats and dark promises, as she asks who Dame-Tsuna is.
They don't say it again to her face, though the whispers of her weird crush are quick to circulate through the classroom, girls laughing over the fact she likes the one person who'd probably be able to keep her from getting called all those mean names.
They don't consider for even a second that Hibari-san means something a bit more to her than that. But that's okay.
In the end, she'll be the one having the last laugh.
Then of course, another obstacle pops up.
Before now, all Tsuna has known was the desire to get stronger, to be the best person she could be, to be the kind of person Hibari-san deserved to have stand beside him. So she wouldn't feel embarrassed to stand by his side.
So when her mother informs her she's hired a home tutor, Tsuna doesn't protest, just nods and asks when the person in question would arrive. She doesn't expect him to already be present.
She certainly doesn't expecting him to be so small, a baby practically.
But he talks like an adult, and he's far too coordinated to actually be that age, and it stumps Tsuna. She's too polite -re, wary- to point out such a thing though, so simply nods her head and allows the baby to lead her up to her room.
Of course, that is when she learns why he is really here, why her father is never home and why her mother only ever gets to carry his words once every few years.
The Vongola Family, she is set to inherit it, and Reborn was here to train her for such a position. Tsuna's not quite sure how she feels knowing that Mafia blood runs in her veins, but she does know one thing.
She has no plans, no goals in life, other than to be good enough for Hibari-san.
But how could she possibly be good enough for him, if she did have a direction in life. Hibari-san seems to have made it his mission to keep the peace in Namimori-though rumours circulate that he went on a 'biting spree' when on holiday a few months ago- and so Tsuna will have to find something.
Or rather, allow that something to find her.
When Reborn tells her of the true origins of the Mafia, that is was created to protect those who could not protect themselves, Sawada Tsunako figures out exactly what she is going to spend her life doing.
Tsuna doesn't hurt people who don't deserve it. It is a moral she will stick to even upon becoming the head of a Mafia family.
Everyone else though, would be fair game.
Reborn is inordinately pleased when she informs him of her new goal in life, nodding with a glint in his dark eyes.
Then, the tiny hitman drops a bombshell.
The Mafia is all about the Soul-Marks.
There's a reason scientists around the world never make headway on the cause and effects of the Soul-Marks, why they never quite crack the code.
It's because the Mafia has already done so, and they guard that knowledge viciously.
Because it interlinks with their greatest secret. The Dying Will Flames.
There are seven different types, and depending upon the flames you were born with, the Primary Flame that was, depended upon the colour your words took on your Soulmate.
When Tsuna casually asks which one purple is, Reborn's eyes sharpen, and he pulls out a colour chart, along with a list of times, instructing Tsuna to point out the colour of the words she got, and the length of time it took for them to disappear.
Because apparently, the stronger the colour, the stronger the Flames. When she points out the shade, but admits she hadn't seen them until several hours after they were spoke, Reborn's smirk becomes something quite dark, dark but pleased.
He seems to like the fact it took twenty-seven hours for those words to disappear even more. Tsuna learns that whatever words she speaks to Hibari-san will appear in orange, as Reborn is one hundred percent certain she is a Sky, that she carries a Sky Flame inside her.
He seems so sure, and he is the one with the most knowledge here, so Tsuna bows before his judgement, sets aside her curiosity of the relationship between Soulmarks and Flames, to instead answer all of Reborn's questions. Questions about her grades, her Mixed Martial Arts training -once again, the pleased, sinister smirk returns- and then about her Soulmate.
There, Tsuna shuts down, adamantly refusing to speak because she hasn't yet talked to him.
The topic is dropped, but Tsuna is well aware it is not forgotten.
It should, therefore, be unsurprising that the little demon hitman tricks her into being later than usual for school.
Tsuna's running down the street, barrelling over Mochida who was, in hindsight, standing just a bit too close to Kyoko-chan. One of the nicest girls in school, she'd never given Tsuna any trouble.
Still, if it weren't for her recovering stumble after knocking into Mochida, then she'd probably have made it into the school ground before the bell went off.
And then she'd have managed to avoid Hibari-san, who emerged from the shadows to the hallooing of the bell.
He's a vision of tyranny, the iron fist he rules the school with evident in the straight, proud posturing with which he holds himself.
Sharp grey eyes land on Tsuna for the first time in years, and she wonders what he sees. If he still sees the tiny, timid little child she was before. She likes to think she walks with more confidence now, that she can hold her head up high and straight for a good reason. She had trained hard, she has worked every day on improving her fighting ability, so that she would never need to rely on Hibari-san defending her and that, maybe one day, they'd be on even footing.
"Get to class, Herbivore."
And there it is, two thirds of her previous words. Tsuna can see the purple spreading across the wrist of her right hand and she casually adjusts her jackets to cover the markings.
She has no idea where that last one turns up at the time, but she later learns it's on the back of her neck, barely visible given she was wearing her hair in a low ponytail.
Still, The Greatest Hitman in the World was not known for missing key details.
And that was all the encouragement he needed to shoot that first bullet.
It seems like he has always been running the Disciplinary Committee nowadays, and the paperwork is piling up.
It gets to the point where Hibari Kyōya decides he needs to blow off some steam, to beat down the herbivore attempting to pull away from his neatly organised pack.
So he ditches the desk for the day, heading out into the courtyard before the school gates and signalling to Kusakabe to go and deal with another part of his territory. The paperwork will still be there when he gets back, and he'll be in a much better mood to deal with it after he sorts out the stragglers.
So when the bell rings, he rounds the corner and spots the first offender.
A female, fluffy head of brown hair, and his mind searching through the student files he has had memorized since the start of the year.
Sawada Tsunako, flagged at the start of the year due to a fight on record from Namimori Primary. Standing up against the weaker females who travelled in packs, belittling those they saw as a threat. Big doe brown eyes, foreign blood, appealing to look at. Understandable.
But she hadn't committed an offense since the start of the school year, so two weeks in, Kyōya had called off the usual watch. It would appear he'd moved too early on that front.
He threatens her, ordering her to get to class, when she suddenly drops like a puppet with her strings cut.
He hasn't even hit her yet.
Three late herbivores have shown up, but Kyōya's a bit more focused on the still one that lays upon the ground, approaching and poking at her body with a tonfa.
Her chest doesn't rise, nor does it fall. She's not breathing.
For a second, Kyōya feels sheer numbing panic race through his brain, because herbivores weren't suppose to die on his watch.
And then it happens, she burst up, cloths dropping right off her -and that's a blatant violation of the school rules right there and he will bite her to death for it- only the burning orange flame atop her forehead stops him in his tracks. What-
"Reborn! Prove myself with my Dying Will!"
And then she comes at him, moving in a way that no herbivore has a right to.
Kyōya brings up a tonfa to deflect her first strike, and he's pleasantly surprised at the limb shaking force that echoes down his weapon as their attacks meet.
This was new.
That is all he gets to think, because as he swings a tonfa, the girl sees the movement before he even makes it and a foot meets his face in the miniscule opening his attack has left in his guard, sending him flying backward.
Kyōya hits the ground, and he hears one of the herbivores swear -he'll pay, Kyōya has taken note of his face- as he rolls along the dirt.
Head snapping up, Kyōya only catches a glance of long brown hair as the female -Sawada Tsunako, Sawada who he should have most certainly been watching- disappears into the main building.
Wiping a hand across his mouth, Kyōya pulls it back and stares down at the dots of blood that decorate his pale skin, leaking from the corner of his mouth. He's been made to bite his own cheek, thanks to the impact of that attack.
A smirk curves up at the corner of his lips.
Thirty minutes later, he's sat before his desk, fingers laced together and staring down at the profile he has of Sawada Tsunako.
It is woefully incomplete.
There's details missing, so many details, because the girl, the fawn, the herbivore, could fight. Had fought, surprising him.
Were they to fight seriously, were he not to take her at face value again, perhaps he'll even get a challenge out of it.
Regardless, Sawada Tsunako is going straight to the top of his watch list. He doesn't need an excuse to fight her, but it will certainly help.
The slightest transgression, and he'd be on her.
To think, there was another fighter in this school.
Not a carnivore, or at least, not an aggressive one.
Looking over the reports of Sawada from Namimori Primary, Kyōya notes how each incident showcases her protecting the weaker herbivores, the ones that were picked on. He recalls the nickname that the students pass around wen referring to Sawada, and he finds it incredibly lacking.
There is nothing Dame about Sawada.
Right now, she's the most interesting thing in this school.
Tapping his pen against the polished wood of his desk, Kyōya didn't look up as Kusakabe entered, carrying the reports of the day, already halfway through a speech about some meeting that was to happen today in order to placate the herbivores.
Like they needed to be placated, that would just give them the illusion of power, power they most certainly did not have.
He was the tertiary carnivore, nothing controlled him.
Though he always looks forwards to the fools that would dare to encroach on his territory, and the dispute that would always follow.
Strange, Kusakabe sounds, nervous.
Putting down the pen with a sharp click, Kyōya threads his fingers together cradling his head at their joining and eyeing his very efficient right hand.
He'll never admit it, but Kusakabe was a brilliant find, his subordinate was just so efficient at what he did, that Kyōya knew running the Disiplinary Committee without him would be a much harder task. So if he allows the male some slight leniencies, then so be it.
It's not a question. Kusakabe visibly fathers himself, though his eyes are locked on Kyōyaso wrist.
He cuts off as Kyōya inspects his arm and spots bright orange. For a moment, he believes his uniform to have been stained by some unknown substance, but then he notes the blot of colour is in fact, upon his skin.
Undoing the button of his sleeve, Kyōya rolls the crisp white fabric up, no longer paying Kusakabe any attention.
Instead, he's much more fixated on the bold orange -so vivid it's neon against his pale flesh- that scrawls across him in words.
Kyōya stands without the slightest bit of hesitation and breezes out the door.
He has a potential carnivore to find.
Tsuna is going to kill Reborn.
She doesn't know what he did, or how he did it. But she knows with the certainty with which one knows the sun rises in the east, that the Hitman is behind her spontaneous fight with Hibari-san.
As soon as her foot had connected with Hibari-san's face, whatever spell she'd been under had broken, and Tsuna had only taken a second to realise she was dressed in nothing but her underwear before she bolted.
Not only had she hit Hibari-san, but she had fought him in nothing but her bra and panties. Horrified, she had fled to the main building, onto for Reborn to accost her and compliment her on her capabilities as a fighter.
At the time, he'd been muttering something about protecting the family or something, Tsuna hadn't been paying too much attention, given that she was much more interested in the fact the baby Hitman had thought to bring a second pair of clothes for her.
Which meant he had planned it all from the start.
Frowning at the board would have to substitute for frowning at Reborn, given that Tsuna has no idea where the male is right now.
Already the fact she'd fought Hibari-san, if only for a few seconds, has made its way through the school gossips, so of course, everyone knows by now.
The vast majority are looking at her as if she has just finished climbing into her own grave and handed Hibari-san the shovel.
That leaves Tsuna staring at the board, trying to ignore the fact the vicious prefect's words stretch across her skin in deliberate, telling marks.
Evidentially, she is just as surprised as all of her classmates when the door opens, interrupting sensei's rant on English grammar, as death itself enters the classroom.
The students in the front room visibly shrink back into their seats, sinking and doing everything possible to avoid drawing the Head of the Disciplinary Committee's attention.
Evidentially, no one has been expecting Hibari-san to barge right into their classroom without so much as a by your leave.
Steel grey eyes, metalwork sheened with ice, scan the room, and come to rest right on Tsuna's begrudging shoulders.
Something in her stomach sinks.
"Sawada. Outside, now."
Sensei doesn't even bother to protest, and the rest of the class break out into horrified whispers.
Tsuna knows she can't refuse, Hibari-san will not be above dragging her out after him, so she stands tall and strides to the front, following in the prefect's wake as he glides out of the classroom.
The door has barely shut behind them before Hibari-san has her pinned to the wall, one tonfa pressing against her neck. Not tight enough to cut off her oxygen, but a pressure that promises to not relent, and Tsuna freezes at the threat it presents.
Alert erbium eyes stare right down at her, and Tsuna gets the feeling that this is what prey feels like when cornered.
The urge to fight rises in her bones, mind supplying three ways out of this situation as her intuition cautions against four other routes. Hibari-san smirks.
"Sawada Tsunako," he pauses, going so far as to lick his lips, and Tsuna waits for the lien, the threat and promise that she will be bitten to death, but it doesn't come.
Instead, Hibari-san pulls back his sleeve, exposing a fantastic shade of shock orange, stretching all the way up his forearm.
'Reborn! Prove myself with my Dying Will!'
The words mock her, and she swears vengeance upon Reborn, just as Hibari moves the collar of her shirt aside and exposing the latest purple phrase to imprint itself upon her collarbone.
"Mine," he states, and then Hibari's hand is on her cheek, thumb tracing something there and Tsuna belatedly realises just where that word has decided to show up.
"You don't mind-"
Tsuna trails off, not quite sure what he was going to say, forgetting it all given the fact Hibari licks at the word on her cheek and smirks at her evident surprise.
"Omnivore," he murmurs, one hand gripping tightly at her hair and pulling her head to a side slightly, so he can get a better look at the words on her collarbone.
Tsuna hisses, taking a hold of Hibari's hair herself and tugging. He doesn't seem to have much of a problem with that though, and Tsuna frowns.
Though really, she shouldn't have expected a boy who happily gets into fights on a daily basis to mind a bit of hair pulling.
Still, Omnivore is new.
"Yes?" She asks, and takes great pleasure in watching the word form on the side of his neck.
"Lunch on the rooftop."
And then he's gone, leaving Tsuna staring after the male with surprised wide eyes.
The sincere warmth in her chest remains.
The whole class blatantly stare when Tsuna returns, hair mused and words printed across her cheek, collarbone and arms.
Regardless, Tsuna cares more for the 'Omnivore' on her palm.
Tentatively marked as complete. Because I'm a sucker for Soulmarks and I'm trash for 1827.
If you want to see more, let me know and I'll consider it, be it with different Guardians as Soulmates for Tsuna, or just more of this one.