If you don't like cross dressing (think Jessie and James from the first Pokemon series when they switched the usual male/female outfits) or Gender-Fluid Characters, turn away now. You have been warned, so no whining.
It all started out of some twisted idea his mother had.
She would go on and on about how "cute" he looked...and then she put him in a dress.
Some might think that a little boy like Tsuna would complain about such feminine clothing...except Tsuna wasn't exactly normal.
Seeing the real smile on his mother's face about being able to pretend she had a daughter to spoil rotten and train in how to act as a house wife, as opposed to a son who kept failing to measure up to a man he long suspected was dead...well, Tsuna didn't exactly have a tough choice to make.
Besides, he noticed that none of the usual bullies would bother him like they did when he was wearing boy's clothing.
And then his mother ordered the wrong uniform by mistake two years before he entered middle school.
It would spell the beginning of the end for anything resembling a normal life.
Because Tsuna found the one thing that would allow him to escape the hell that he had endured since that funny old man came to visit with his long-dead father. And no, nothing Nana said contrary to that opinion would change how he felt.
If "Iemitsu" was alive, then he didn't deserve the title of father, much less husband. He left them all alone to suffer in silence while he was off enjoying his own life in Italy.
Therefor it was up to Tsuna to keep that smile on his mother's face. So that she didn't have to worry.
Besides, who cared about stupid things like "gender identity" anyway? The few males his mother had contact with were openly dismissive and in some cases disgusted when they found out what he was doing. The women on the other hand... they were a bit more sympathetic.
His mother had a reputation for being something of an oblivious airhead. But she was genuinely kind and anyone could see that the months, even years without her husband raising a small child was taking it's toll on her.
So the idea that her son would do something as silly as dressing up and even acting like a girl to make her smile, well, that just made them coo at him and call him a good child. After all, he was taking care of his mother the best (and only) way he knew how.
He wasn't good at sports. He wasn't particularly gifted in academics or anything really. He was too effeminate to be a "manly man" like most boys his age. He was one of the shortest kids in his class, and clumsy to boot.
It would be impossible for such a sweet little boy to possibly match up to the other males in his class, and that would inevitably lead to bullying.
As a girl however... there were double standards there. Girls didn't have to be athletic, smart or very coordinated. If they were good at keeping house and with children, then society stood back and said "that was fine" and left them be.
So for Tsuna to pretend to be a girl...well, there was no harm done so long as he never took advantage of the misconception. Though odds were if he did, the secret would be blown wide open anyway and things forcibly sorted out.
For now, Nana's friends kept their mouths shut about the little game the mother and son were playing.
Kyouya Hibari liked things orderly. He liked quiet. He had a secret love of small animals.
What he didn't like was when things didn't fit in, like rumors of a girl using the boy's restroom.
As with all things, when such a rumor reached his ears and the teachers did nothing to put an end to such disorderly behavior (the genders were separated for a reason, especially after puberty hit) he decided to do something about himself.
What he expected and what he got were entirely two different things.
Sawada Tsuna looked and acted like the epitome of a small animal. Hibari had caught the girl going into the boy's bathroom and grabbed her the second she came out, dragging her to his office.
"Explain, now. Why is a girl using the boy's restroom?"
Because such behavior was perilously close to entering the changing rooms, which he would never allow.
"Because I'm not actually a girl."
Hibari stared at her. She looked and acted like any other girl in the school, and wore the clearly female uniform.
His staring turned dark.
"Then why are you wearing the girl's fuku instead of the boy's uniform?"
Tsuna sighed in exasperation.
"Not this argument again... I'm only doing it to make my mother happy."
"Your mother is forcing you to crossdress?" said Hibari incredulous. That was borderline abuse. Something he would have to correct.
Tsuna flinched at the accusation.
"No! It's just... my dad is either dead or he doesn't care about us at all, so it's just me and my mother. She was always sad all the time, until as a joke she had me put on one of her old clothes and she could pretend for a bit I was a girl. I noticed that most of the guys who beat me up left me alone, and it made her happy with pretending so I kept on doing it. Next thing I know it had become a habit."
Hibari was a bit at a loss of what to do. From the sound of things, Tsuna Sawada had the most bizarre coping mechanism he had ever heard of.
He narrowed his eyes at the girl? Boy?
"You haven't been peeping on the girls have you?"
Tsuna stared at him blankly.
"You busted me for using the correct bathroom while wearing the girl's uniform. What do you think? With how clumsy I am it's easier to change beforehand and try not to blow my cover. Besides, none of the teachers have even noticed it."
The small animal wasn't causing harm... it was just cleverly disguising itself so the jackels would find new prey while keeping it's pack mother happy.
Still...he had to confirm this wasn't a stunt to earn a free pass into the girl's half of the school.
"Hmph. Small animal, I will inspect your home life before I render judgment. Until then, hold it in."
Tsuna looked relieved.
It was close to the end of the day anyway, so he could do that much at least. And having to feed Hibari and have him see for himself that he really wasn't kidding about it being a minor habit of crossdressing to make his mother happy was a small price to pay.
A few hours later...
Hibari had to revise his opinion of Tsuna Sawada.
His mother was more than just a bit of an airhead...she was genuinely oblivious to the point he would be willing to bet she wouldn't have properly noticed any damage done to her cub unless it required hospitalization. There was some sort of problem with her mind... he had noticed her eyes were unusually glazed over to the point it raised suspicions.
As if there was some other force at work there, one that originated from that carnivore's side of the world. However he wasn't about to ask for help from him just out of a suspicion. Not without proof.
Tsuna's trick with cross dressing was brilliant in it's simplicity. It kept his mother from slipping too far into her own world and he learned valuable life skills at the cost of a little dignity.
Kyouya paused in the washroom of the Sawada home.
There were plenty of stories in Japan about kitsune who could shift between genders at will, playing minor tricks on the unwary. And Sawada clearly identified more as a "gender neutral" person than as a boy or a girl. So long as the den mother was happy, the pre-teen could shift between both sets at will.
And his control over the female herbivores was noticeably lacking...to say nothing of (shudder) the fan girl herds.
He could deal with several sets of annoyances and gain a useful spy at the same time.
Mind made up, Hibari returned downstairs and waited for the older Sawada to be preoccupied with dishes.
"Small animal, I will make a deal with you. I will allow you to continue your ruse at the school under certain conditions."
Tsuna relaxed. The worst Hibari could have done was say no and then "bite him to death" for the confusion he caused.
"First off, I want you to stop using the boy's bathrooms unless you are wearing the correct uniform. The same goes for the physical classes."
Tsuna nodded. That was a small price to pay, but he had been more worried how Hibari would react if he was busted than he was about using the wrong bathrooms.
"Second. My control over the other female herbivores is somewhat lacking, due to gender bias (he looked disgusted that he had to reign in his violence for something as minor as gender) and the fact that very few are willing to bring me the information I need to crack down on the worst offenders."
"You want me to act as your inside informant, since most of those bullied are too afraid to speak up, and those that will are too scared to talk to you," said Tsuna, catching on.
"If need be I can have you installed as my personal secretary."
Tsuna could see the advantages of the agreement.
Hibari would gain more control over the school, thus reducing the bullying issue that was still rampant because he wasn't allowed to go after the females without cause, and Tsuna's habit of crossdressing would go unnoticed. Though there was one small issue with the plan.
"The other students will talk you know. If they see us together they'll automatically assume..."
"Let them," said Hibari bluntly. "With any luck it will get those ridiculous fan girl herds to leave me alone once puberty hits and this way you won't be found out due to the herbivores getting ideas once their hormones wake up."
Tsuna shuddered at the idea. The second any of the boys started making looks at him he was so out of there. It wasn't that he was adverse to dating a guy, it was just that most of the ones in his school were all jerks who had either joined in with the bullying or had openly mocked him at some point, with a few rare exceptions.
Pretending to date Hibari was a small price to pay for some protection against that.
"Do we have an agreement, little fox?"
"I'll act as your informant and as a shield against those insane fan girls in the school," he agreed...then he tilted his head. "Little fox?"
"Foxes can change their gender to suit themselves and play tricks on the unwary," he explained.
Tsuna got the joke and his smile made Hibari widen his eyes.
The little fox was ridiculously cute, and with a smile like that... it was no wonder he had successfully been able to hide the fact he wasn't a girl.
With any luck the little fox would prove quiet useful.
There is only one thing that can travel faster than anything, and that is rumor.
Within a week the girls were gossiping like mad about how timid little Tsunako ended up as Hibari's personal secretary. Which oddly enough only seemed to elevate Tsuna's status among them, because despite his violent habits, his bloodthirsty unapproachable nature, and the fact that he had even the teachers scared to get on his bad side he was still one of the most popular boys in school.
Hibari Kyouya was rich (it was well known he lived in one of the more well-to-do neighborhoods), he had power (he had most of the male delinquents under his beck and call), he was intelligent (his grades never dipped below the high marks, despite outright ignoring classes or even skipping grades on a whim), and most importantly for the preteen girls...he was unbelievably attractive.
For females just now starting to look at boys with interest, Hibari was very much a catch.
He was like a lone wolf who claimed the school as it's territory.
And Tsunako of all people had managed to catch his eye. His fan girls were almost in mourning...except the girl was rather timid and definitely weak, so disposing of her would be no problem at all. After all, she was going to show the others what Hibari's likes and dislikes were when they finally started to go after him for real.
Tsuna found it rather amusing, really.
Hibari wasn't even interested in that nonsense, outside of keeping such herbivore behavior far, far away from him if at all possible. He hated being around people, and Tsuna found he liked the peace and quiet almost as much as Hibari did.
At least he could work on his homework in peace for once, and Hibari was smart. Smart enough to know how to coach his "little fox" as he insisted on calling him in how to understand the material. He scoffed at the teachers for being incompetent in their job.
He would begin Tsuna's training soon enough, once her place in the school's herd was established. It wouldn't do for the sheep to realize that they had a fox on top of the vicious wolf in their midst.
After all, "Tsunako" was still too new for Tsuna to be able to come up with a good lie every time he risked being caught. Especially when the more vicious females figured out the source of Hibari's information.
Tsuna had already provided a list of females who would need reminders in their behavior. A list compiled over the past week alone... he still needed a female omnivore to deal with them personally, which was a pain.
Hibari had to blink. Was Tsuna actually purring while he sat next to him?
Yes... apparently the odd gender fluid kid was actually purring. What the fuck.
Well at least it made the animal comparison a lot easier.