- Yeah, I know, the title is ripped off from the Code Geass OST 8D You might find Tsuna OOC, but I think that since he's the future Vongola Boss, he will have to grow a spine and some hint of ruthlessness throughout the years, no? (Or yeah, I just like to think of darker stuff OTL) I have quite a lot of plot bunnies for KHR, so I'm a bit surprised I finished this one first :p

*

"Take me with you, Tenth!" Gokudera exclaims enthusiastically, though the loudness is more controlled now, the eagerness more tempered.

Years have passed after they corrected their future, but removing the threat of Byakuran posed is not enough to ensure that there will be everlasting peace.

Sawada Tsunayoshi, now fully-settled into the daily intricacies and hardships related to the work as Vongola Decimo, knows that he must work even harder than ever, in order to protect everything everyone has fought so hard for.

Working hard, Tsuna learns, doesn't just involve not letting Gokudera blow up half the headquarters while getting into a fight with Yamamoto or Ryohei. It doesn't just involve making sure Lambo attended all his training lessons with Fuuta. It didn't just involve keeping track of Mukuro closely so that the Vendicare would finally lift the probation period they granted to him, and replace it with the Mist Guardian's complete release. It didn't just involve convincing the Varia to stop their routine complaints and just do the job assigned to them.

It also apparently involves going out to meet with other mafia groups, resistance groups, even the government and its police force, making deals, alliances, threats, deceptions.

Tsuna always goes to such meetings with only one companion.

He doesn't bring Gokudera because he is too hot-blooded—Ryohei is even more extremely hot-blooded. Yamamoto's laid-back attitude more-often-than-not rubs off people in the wrong way. He doesn't bring Chrome or Lambo because he refuses to taint them as much as possible. Mukuro delights in playing around, twisting one's thoughts and perception of reality, and Tsuna likes to make the meetings as brief as it could get.

Tsuna enters that dark world of underground dealings with only one companion.

"I promise I won't threaten the guards with dynamites!" Gokudera promises earnestly, but Tsuna simply quirks his eyebrow and Gokudera immediately rethinks his promise. "Well, as long as they don't get too close to the Tenth—"

Tsuna chuckles because he might be involved in manipulating the darker strings in the mafia world, but dealings in the shadows remain where they belong, and his happy smiles and kind nature belong to his Family.

"Gokudera-kun," Tsuna says, and he knows the magic words to finish it off, "as my right-hand man, it is only appropriate that you remain here and take charge while I'm gone."

Reborn will be there too, of course, overlooking the proceedings of the Vongola while helping Fuuta subject Lambo to as much hell as he could.

The Storm Guardian's eyes shine comically with immense adoration and happiness, and he forgets his earlier wails about never being taken along with the Tenth's trips. Gokudera makes new sets of honest promises of keeping everything smoothly, and Tsuna smiles all the while, because once he enters that dark world again, his smiles will change into knife-sharp edges and his cheerful laughter will melt into mysterious, sultry chuckles.

There's only one person who sees Tsuna's transformation, and that person is the only one that Tsuna brings along his trip to the underworld.

*

Hibari Kyoya refuses to step inside Tsuna's Family's home, so Tsuna meets him at an inconspicuous café near the outer border of Italy.

Hibird is nowhere to be seen, as expected. Tsuna mentally laughs at the thought of Hibari-san caring enough for Hibird that he also doesn't want its wings to be clumped with murky smoke and eerie shadows.

"You're late," Hibari remarks, lips pulled into that displeased frown. Tsuna waves it off nervously, because Guardian or not, Hibari-san is still Hibari-san, and depending on his mood, even Tsuna's record-breaking 10-minute lateness might still receive some severe beating.

"Who are we dealing with this time?"

This arrangement works well for the two of them—Hibari-san has a nature suited for business dealings, something which Tsuna needed. Hibari-san gets to bite a lot of people to death and enforce the Namimori Discipline Standards to a bigger area. Tsuna gets to add more families in his web of alliance, step by step into –not world domination!- making sure that nothing would harm his Family.

"Bordacello Family," Tsuna comments after ordering his pastry and coffee, "They're involved in stealing and redistributing stolen artifacts."

Hibari-san looks disinterested, so Tsuna flashes him a winning smile, even though Tsuna knows that Hibari-san isn't the type to be affected by such frivolous expressions. Magic words are something that Tsuna learns about as time goes by—important words that were guaranteed to convince various people into agreeing with him, "They're going to crowd in an underground auction tonight."

Tsuna has missed seeing Hibari-san's predatory grin, so he is now a bit glad that he sees a glimpse of it. "I'll bite those crowding herbivores to death."

A sigh of relief almost escapes Tsuna's lips, but he covers it up with another smile, but the smile is genuine, because he's really glad to have Hibari-san with him this time.

*

The procedure is routine and cyclic—the same set of things happens each time.

The two Family heads will meet at a 'neutral zone', there will be some small talk with threatening edges and cunning grins, the other Family has no intention of backing down so the negotiations dissolve quickly, and the assassins in the area ambush the oh-so-trusting Vongola Decimo who only brought one person with him.

"Only brought one underling eh, Mighty Vongola?" Bordacello Family's head asks with a haughty sneer. Heavy gold rings decorate each finger, thanks to the sums of money brought in by the stolen artifacts.

Tsuna sighs dismissively, looking like an overachiever student who looks down upon the stupidity of his classmates. He doesn't tense in his seat or summon his infamous glove-weapons. He doesn't even look at the lone person he brought with him to this opium-smoke-filled room.

"What underling are you talking about…?" The question sounds innocent, but the glint in Tsuna's eyes is anything but. It wasn't really cruelty or mercilessness, but it was more akin to pity. "You're going to make Hibari-san mad."

A sinister laugh escapes Hibari's lips as he pushes himself away from the far corner of the room. He might be the only person with Tsuna but he isn't a bodyguard. He doesn't need to stand near the Vongola Tenth.

Hibari's tonfas are already out, because while box weapons are becoming more popular now, the tonfas were still Hibari's favorite weapon.

"There are important documents in the second floor, Hibari-san," Those were Tsuna's only words to his Cloud Guardian. Don't make the building collapse, Hibari-san, is the true meaning.

Hibari doesn't nod to the orders, nor does he offer a sound of agreement. But Tsuna knows that Hibari-san will not destroy the whole building while he bites these pitiful herbivores to death.

…At least, not until Tsuna gets the important documents.

Tsuna pats at his stiff business suit and hopes the smell doesn't stick. As he watches Hibari-san perform his lethal dance of punches and kicks, Tsuna feels pity that this family wouldn't know that the reason Hibari-san is beating them all up is not due to their dirty work, but because of implying for that one moment that Hibari-san is one of Tsuna's subordinates.

A humorless smile plays on Tsuna's lips.

Hibari-san is not a subordinate. He's not even family.

He is…

He is Tsunayoshi's companion to his road to cold, dark hell.

*

With the two of them five hundred miles away from the rendezvous point with the Bordacello Family and the documents safely enclosed in Tsuna's briefcase, Tsuna relaxes the stern lines of his body and the emotionless mask over his face.

He tentatively touches the cuts on Hibari-san's hand, gingerly wipes the blood that belonged to the Family whose head they have recently eliminated. Hibari doesn't pull away, but he glares still, because physical contact that carried no anger and meant no harm remain new to him, even ten years into the future.

Tsuna knows this, and it still breaks his heart a little to see Hibari-san so distant like this. Tsuna fears that one day, Hibari-san would go to that hell littered with fighting and screams and blood and leave him on his journey. Tsuna fears that one day, he might not be able to pull Hibari-san away from those calls of war and battle.

Tsuna knows that if it's not the two of them together, Hibari does things that are detrimental to Vongola—helping Yamamoto's branch's enemies, destroying Gokudera's research laboratory, cutting off the routes providing Shamal's supplies. Tsuna fears that one day, Hibari-san would forget to meet him to do his Guardian duties.

Tsuna knows that Hibari-san cannot be restrained. Tsuna fears that Hibari-san will never return to his side.

So Tsuna ignores the irritated glare focused on him, and he smiles shyly as he lightly holds Hibari-san's hand. He only has one more night, before he travels back to the headquarters, before Hibari-san leaves him to go off and source out rings and box weapons.

He only has one more night, so Tsuna ignores the prickling feeling of danger, and leans forward to drop a feather-light kiss on Hibari-san's firm lips.

As always, Hibari-san's expression remains blank, with only a tint of confusion and a pinch of softness hidden somewhere in those cruel lines and bloodthirsty eyes.

Tsuna smiles again, an idiotic, carefree smile, before he pulls away with a hasty set of embarrassed excuses, because Tsuna is Tsuna and Hibari-san is Hibari-san.

Tsuna smiles, even as he lets go of Hibari-san's hand, because Hibari-san might not have kissed him back, or might not have spouted any confessions of love or any declarations of alliance, but Hibari-san didn't pull away or bite him to death either.

From this, he knows that the next time he sends an encrypted message to Hibird, he is sure that Hibari-san will be there to meet him and his mafia boss persona.

Sawada Tsunayoshi feels content, because he knows that for now, he won't be alone in his march towards a madder, red-stained sky.

*

END

Tsuna sounds like he has MPD here or something;;; Anyway, your comments will be really, really helpful since this is my first attempt at 1827 or at Reborn! fanfic.
So. Um. Please let me know what you think! :)