Chapter 31: The Guardian of Cloud Found
Author's Note: Hey...it's been a while. I'm sure you all just want to read, though. So go ahead!
Chapter Warning: Death. Mentions of suicide attempts and self-induced harm.
x x x
His sky was finally whole.
His piece had led him home, like the voice had said it would, and now...now he had a Cloud Guardian. He was whole. He never really thought that something so simple could feel so... home. This. This was his place in the world, he no longer had doubt of that. And it was because of Hibari—something that shocked him in more ways than one. Hibari...
"Who is this guy?"
Snapping out of this thoughts, Tsuna turned to the voice to see that his other guardians and friends were watching Hibari with their own surprise, some with a hint of confusion. A confusion he could understand. He opened his mouth, unsure of what to say, but before he could speak Bianchi interrupted with crossed arms and her attention on Dino.
"What gives you the right to just hand out Vongola heirlooms like they are candy?" Her narrowed eyes didn't seem to effect Dino in the least, though they would probably put fear in any other man.
Dino looked back without repent, eyes determined as he met her gaze. "That ring belongs to Kyouya... surely you can see that, too?"
Before Bianchi, or anyone else, could reply to that, Mukuro's laughter sounded creepily from where he stood. Everyone's attention now back on the two men, Mukuro narrowed his own eyes on the ring his opponent now wore before shaking his head lightly.
"Kufufu... the pony giving the pigeon a shiny new toy means nothing. Especially when he doesn't know how to use it!" Smirking as mist started to appear around him, he twirled his trident once as a distraction before disappearing.
Hibari glared at the space where the man had just been, trying to sense his presence while also giving attention to the ring he now wore. He could feel it... that strength that he had felt from Tsuna—only stronger. Like it was closer to him, but different too. While it felt the same as Tsuna's, he could also feel that it was a little different. More custom to him, though that wasn't really making sense.
Before he could think on it too much, he suddenly tensed with awareness, locating the annoying herbivore. Turning quickly, he brought a tonfa up to defend himself just in time as two spikes of his opponent's trident nearly met his eyes. Meeting the other man's gaze, he glared back at the eyes narrowed on him. They struggled against each other, each one trying to prove stronger as they pushed but were met with rather equal strength. The seconds started to wear on until, a sharp chirp and flash of yellow caught their attention.
"Hibird!" Tsuna gasped at the sight of the small bird moving in to attack Mukuro, slightly amused and horrified at the same time. Hibird was a brave one, but Mukuro would care not that it was just a small bird—he could get hurt! Which would incite Hibari more and— "Hibird, don't—!"
Hibird attacked, though missed as Mukuro instinctively flinched back. Now free, Hibari charged forward and took a swing only to miss as well as Mukuro was quick to defend. They glared at each other for a few seconds until Mukuro suddenly smirked.
"What are you smi—" Before Hibari could finished his question, he was caught off guard as the trident caught his tonfa in a way that made it hard to pull free before Mukuro twisted and moved him into a position where he was now caught between the other man's body and the trident now at his throat.
"I could snap your neck, you know. I'm sure my Tsunayoshi-kun would forgive me one day." Mukuro teased in a whisper against his ear.
He tensed at those words, growling lowly at the threat and the use of Tsuna's name in such a possessive way. Before he could make any kind of move to escape, however, he found the trident pressing harder against his throat, a flame appearing on the ring his opponent possessed.
"Ah ah, little pigeon. Hold still." Mukuro snickered, pressing harder until he could feel his breath catching.
Tsuna couldn't help watching the two with mounting worry. He couldn't hear what Mukuro was saying, but he could see that it was making Hibari more and more angry. Opening his mouth to tell the two to stop once more, he was cut off when Dino spoke over him. Something that kind of annoyed him, if he were honest.
"Kyouya! Call your flame!" The blonde called out, eyes focused on the newly discovered Cloud Guardian. "The ring—use it as a center point! Your resolve to never be beaten! Focus on that!"
Gokudera frowned lightly, turning his attention from the two fighting men to the blonde Italian. "Are you crazy? Do you really think that he will be able to—able... to... what the hell!"
He wasn't the only one that seemed to share that sentiment as nearly every face of the ones watching reflected that thought when the purple flames of Cloud suddenly burst to life from the ring. How? How was that possible? That someone so new could take so easily to what had taken the other guardians longer to learn? The control and strength needed to manifest the flame the way he had...how was it possible that they had never heard of this man before? This man who was clearly on their level. He was the true Cloud guardian? All this time?
"This...this is..." Yamamoto started to comment, only to be unable to finish his thought.
"Extreme." Ryohei finished for him, brows furrowing with focus as he watched the new man with the ring and flame symbolizing him as one of his brothers.
"How is this even possible—how can that bastard already do that?!" Gokudera followed up with a displeased growl, clenching his fists at his side.
This. This was the answer, he just knew it. To everything that had happened and would happen. The strength he had sought; the connection to Tsuna. This flame. This small manifestation that seemed to hold so much power...impressive. And yet...how? How could the herbivore have this kind of power? And to keep it so well hidden—the strength in that alone! Anger once again swept through Hibari. An anger that lasted only a few seconds before instinct kicked in again, causing him to dodge the attack sprung on him. Right. The herbivore with a death wish.
Mukuro didn't give him a spare second to breathe as he attacked once again, continuously and relentlessly. Swift and hard, with the intent to cause more than slight damage. The indigo flame on his ring dancing across his vision with every movement. A strength to rival his...but no. No, his was stronger. This was not ego, this was truth. He would prove it! If he could...just...!
A cut to his cheek had him finally stumbling, falling to one knee as his breath came in quick pants. The feel of warm blood had his jaw clenching as he took in that annoying, smirking face.
"Is this all the pigeon can do?" The man teased while looking at the blood that now smeared a spike before moving mocking mismatched eyes to his opponent. "Pity."
Heat. Like before, yet different. Not Tsuna's...his. A heat for him, from his own flame, filled him at those challenging words. He could feel how the ring centered it, now he just had to release it. Not like before. But like—
The brows over those stupid mismatched eyes furrowed as he got to his feet, glaring right back. He could feel his flame build. It was time to end this.
"I will bite you..." He challenged lowly, bringing a tonfa to his bleeding cheek before swiping it dismissively away as purple flames bloomed to life, dancing along the metal, "...to death."
Mukuro didn't get a chance to respond before there was once again a loud clang of metal on metal, followed by a grunt of pain as the Mist guardian was knocked off of his feet, landing on his side for a mere second before he caught himself and quickly regained his footing while bringing a gloved hand to a blood smeared chin.
Hibari didn't give him a chance to recover long or retaliate, following and bearing down on him with his own relentless attacks.
"Mukuro-sama..." Chrome called out softly as she watched the two, folding her hands over her chest with worry.
"This guy. He's..." Gokudera started to comment with reluctant awe only to shake his head and look at his boss. "Juudaime, where did you find him?"
"I..." Tsuna wasn't sure what to say. He actually hadn't found Hibari, Hibari had found him.
"I should have known." Dino commented to himself as he watched the two, awed at how much Kyouya seemed to be growing in these few short minutes. "Kyouya's strength was destined for more than I could have ever offered him."
Tsuna heard those words and couldn't help but be annoyed by them. He hated the way that Dino spoke so intimately of Hibari. It felt unreasonable but those feelings were still there.
Before he could glare holes into the side of the Cavallone's head, he was distracted by the call from Yamamoto. Turning to look to his friend, he saw the taller man's eyes were on the two still fighting. He was just about to turn to look back to the two men when he was suddenly grabbed around his waist and hauled out of the way as the two went barreling through where he had just been standing.
"Tsuna, you should end this...they're getting out of hand." Yamamoto commented from behind him as he set him firmly on his feet before releasing him.
He gave his friend a small nod of thanks before voicing his agreement. "Right."
Stepping towards where the two were fighting now, making sure to stay out of the way, he tried to call them to attention and demand they stop. Only to be ignored. Something that irritated him, more so when he actually got a small glance from Hibari only to have the man then look away with clear intent to ignore him.
"You guys! STOP!" He yelled once again, anger starting to build. Once again ignored, he was given a look of concern from his fellow boss.
"Maybe I should—" Dino started to comment only to be shocked when his little brother turned his ire on him.
"Stay out of this, Dino!" Tsuna snapped at the older man, fists clenching, before turning back to his two unruly subordinates. "Mukuro! Kyouya! Stop this—NOW!"
Once again met with no response, he decided he had had enough. This was going to end. Now. He watched the two for another few seconds with focused sunset eyes before stepping in. Metal was caught on both sides, a trident in his right hand and a tonfa against his left arm. Two looks of slight surprise fell on him from two different pairs of eyes. He kept his grip tight as he looked from one to the other, voice low and firm.
"You will stop this. Now." No room for argument. Silence followed those words for a few long seconds before Mukuro was first to concede, bowing his head slightly as he slowly pulled his trident back.
"Of course, dear Vongola. As you command." Mukuro smirked, gaze falling on Hibari as he spoke those words.
The taller man stepped away once he had his weapon released, leaving Tsuna to turn to look at Hibari. Who met his gaze with a displeased glare.
"Kyouya, enough." He glared back, not willing to back down when he found no sign of submission in that steel blue gaze.
"Don't..." Hibari growled out, jerking his tonfa free but showing no sign of putting them away. "Don't presume to command anything of me, herbivore."
"Hey, asshole! Don't talk to Juudaime—" Gokudera started to rage on his behalf, annoyed, until he held a hand up to silence his outburst.
This was something he was going to have to take to hand himself. If Hibari was really to be a member of his famiglia, then he would have to assert his dominance over him in at least this way. Whether either of them liked it or not. There were rules and set positions for a reason.
"Stop now, or I will make you." He added, face serious as he looked at the man before him. He wasn't even one hundred percent sure he could make good on that threat, but he would try if pushed.
His threat was, at the very least, taken seriously it seemed. Hibari's eyes narrowed more as his flamed tonfa slowly moved into a defensive position. He could feel his own flame rise to the challenge. They stared at each other for a few seconds more before...
"Try it." Hibari hissed out at him.
He didn't even think, his body just moved. He shot forward, on the attack right away. Hibari didn't make a move to escape, just stood his ground to meet him. He didn't have to think about the punches he wanted to throw, the swing of tonfa he wanted to dodge, or the kicks he wanted to push through. His body just seemed to flow and follow the movements of his opponent. Which was okay for defense, he supposed, but not for offense. Not for taking control and overpowering the stronger man.
Yes, he could feel it. Kyouya was stronger than him in a feral way...but thankfully, it seemed, the man did not have enough experience in his flame to use that complete strength yet. Lucky for him. Right now he could still overpower his guardian...if he could surprise him. But that was easier said than done. While he was able to keep up, for the most part now, he could also tell that the other man was a more seasoned fighter. Who knew how long he had been at it! Still. There had to be something! If only—ah! Maybe—well, he wasn't sure if it would work but he would try!
Plan in mind, he watched Hibari's movements and did his best to get as close as he safely could, something that proved a little more challenging that he wanted to admit, before finally pushing forward and testing what he had in mind. A sharp blow to his ribs had him gasping in pain, but took the hit as he caught the lapels of Hibari's suit jacket and pulled the man toward him. He caught his lips against his own and forced a rough kiss.
A kiss that seemed to work if the sudden tenseness and barely audible shocked inhale were anything to go by. A kiss that he wanted to melt into, having missed those lips since this morning...but he pushed that thought away. Taking the few seconds he was given, he quickly pulled his head back before quickly throwing it forward again at an angle which allowed him to headbutt the taller man in the chin.
Once again, the move seemed to work. Hibari was stunned a few seconds more, which allowed him to deliver a precise blow to the back of his head, taking the older man's consciousness. He fell with him as the taller man crumpled to the ground.
Silence followed his win for a moment until running feet could be heard, a voice calling out letting him know who approached.
"Juudaime! Are you okay?"
Pushing himself to sit up, he shook the hair from his eyes before looking to his best friend and offering a small smile. "I'm fine."
Though the fire in his ribs told him otherwise. But that was something he could deal with later. When Gokudera made it to his side, he refused a hand up, just wanting to sit and rest for a moment. His friend seemed to understand and didn't push him as sage green eyes looked over the fallen man before snorting.
"Serves him right. Though, did you have to kiss him?" The bomber asked with slight annoyance, looking from the fallen man to his boss.
Tsuna could feel his face go red at that question and chose to ignore it as he looked at the defeated man next to him. In a way he couldn't help feeling a little bad. He had never wanted to raise a hand against the man he loved in such a way...yet...the strength he had shown. He was surprised by it. He hadn't known himself to have that kind of strength before. What had changed? Was it Kyouya? Because he had something to prove? Was it the training he had received? Maybe—
"Tsuna! That was amazing! The way you moved!" Yamamoto complimented cheerfully as he made his way over, some of the others following behind.
He was slightly happy to see that Mukuro and Chrome stayed back as the two talked together, but was annoyed when he saw Dino approaching. Looking away, he turned back to Hibari until Lambo's voice caught his attention.
"Tsuna-san! Is that why you left? So you could train?" The question was innocent, excited even instead of accusatory, yet still stabbed him right in the heart.
He wasn't the only one who seemed to tense at those words. When he looked up at his Thunder guardian, he could see some of the other adults tensing as well, all eyes turning to him. Burning with questions he knew they were dying to ask but was sure he didn't have answers for. Or just plain wouldn't want to answer. Not yet, if ever.
"I..." He really didn't know what to say.
But that wasn't a problem. Not when you had someone like Gokudera as your best friend and defender.
"Leave him alone, stupid cow! Can't you see he's tired! Plus...we should probably do something about this." The bomber added as he nudged Hibari's leg with his foot.
"But..." Lambo frowned, looking from one adult to the other, seeming confused by the sudden hostility.
"Hey, don't worry. Later, okay?" Yamamoto stepped in, smiling and ruffling wavy hair playfully. He laughed when the younger guardian was annoyed, though distracted, by the gesture.
Tsuna couldn't help giving Yamamoto a grateful smile before looking back to where Hibari lay. "We should take him to a guest room until he wakes up."
Gokudera didn't seem to like the idea but agreed nonetheless. Dino and Kusakabe hauled the unconscious man to his feet while Gokudera and Yamamoto helped Tsuna to his own when he couldn't play off the pain he was feeling as he tried to get up. Once the rest of the family was sent off to do their own thing for the time being, Gokudera and Yamamoto led the way to an available space while Kusakabe continued to look around in awe and Dino seemed lost in thought.
Once Hibari was in a bed, Ryohei surprised them all by dropping in with some tape for Tsuna's ribs and news that Reborn had been contacted and would return within the next few hours. That news sent a slight shiver down Tsuna's spine that he couldn't ignore. Reborn. That could potentially be a problem.
"Right...thank you, Ryohei. For everything." He added to his guardian, holding up the tape before sending the boxer on his way.
"Here, let me help you with that." Yamamoto said lightly, taking the tape from smaller hands and preparing it. "Take your shirt off."
Tsuna silently did as told as his gaze moved to Hibari's face, taking in how deceivingly innocent and peaceful the man looked at the moment. His ribs were wrapped in silence, everyone in the room seeming to be lost in their own thoughts until finally Gokudera spoke up once he was allowed to slide his shirt back on.
"This guy? He's really a guardian?" Distrustful eyes seemed to glare at the ring of Cloud as arms crossed over a hunched chest. "Not just a trick?"
Frowning thoughtfully, Tsuna shook his head a moment later. "No. It's Kyouya. I can just feel it."
Dino nodded his own unneeded agreement. "I kind of got that feeling once I saw the two of you together. Something just kind of, I don't know, clicked when we were at Kyouya's place."
"But how? How do we—" Gokudera started to question, looking slightly frustrated, until the sound of someone at the door caught their attention. "What?!"
When Mukuro entered, he gave the Storm guardian a small look of annoyance before rolling his eyes away and to where Tsuna stood. "So rude. If you must know, I have news for Vongola."
Tsuna couldn't help the surprised look that fell over his face. "Oh?"
"Yes." The Mist guardian replied slowly before a look of true amusement fell over his features. "A certain little froggy has informed me that Varia's own Xanxus is now on his way here...and that he is none too happy."
Unable to help wincing at that news, Tsuna sighed lightly as he thought of the drama and headaches he was about to be on the receiving end of with the arrival of Reborn and Xanxus. Not to mention the arguments and questions he still had no answers for—question that would be demanded to be answered. "Ugh."
That caused Mukuro to snicker. "Dear Vongola, what will you do?"
Brow arching at the question, Tsuna found that he really had no answer to give. He had no idea what he was going to do. Like, at all. "I—...I have no clue."
"Oh?" Mukuro seemed genuinely surprised by that answer. Curious eyes looked him over once before a gloved hand touched pale lips with mock thoughtfulness. "Well, what do you want then?"
What did he want? His eyes instantly moved to where Hibari lay as many thoughts flitted through his head. There was so much he wanted—where to begin? And how many of these things could he actually get? What would be lost? "I...don't know."
"Come now, Vongola. It shouldn't be that difficult." Mist gently chided before asking the dreaded question. "With all that has happened, surely you should know where you want to go from there. Of course, one must ask: What did happen that fateful day?"
He could feel all eyes on him again. They made him feel uncomfortable and slightly ashamed. Because really? He didn't know. Rino had betrayed him, yes he knew that, but the how and why of it? He really didn't know. He didn't know who was behind the attack or why. He didn't know what had caused the explosion or what was with the voice that had whispered to him. Why he was sent to where he was. Why he was found by Hibari of all people—like it was fate.
"I...I really don't know, I swear. I—there is just so much I don't know yet, I'm sorry." He confessed lightly, lowering his gaze to his lap. What did they want him to say?
"I see you're genuine but I cannot help but be curious. We do know Adriano's side of the story, though it took a while to extract it from him. Not that there was ever worry—" Mukuro started to comment thoughtfully until cut off.
"What?" Tsuna gasped in surprise at the mention of Rino's name. Story? What was this about? "R-Rino? Y-You guys talked to Rino?"
"Mukuro—" Gokudera seemed to warn as he was given a calculating look, but the older man cut him off.
"You've missed a lot, Tsunayoshi-kun." He was answered simply before a gloved hand was held out to him. "Come."
He shot a look to where Dino, Kusakabe, and Yamamoto stood before looking to Gokudera then back to Mukuro. Pushing his hesitance aside, he took the hand and allowed the taller man to pull him from the room. He wasn't surprised when Gokudera immediately followed, objecting to the move.
"What are you doing?" The bomber questioned angrily, keeping his voice low as they didn't move far from outside of the room.
Mukuro ignored him, keeping his eyes on the younger man before him. "We have Adriano captive."
Consciousness was slow in coming back to him, but he could feel it nonetheless. He could sense people around him, though not knowing exactly who they were, and he could hear voices. Once he was able to register that none of them felt threatening in the least, he allowed himself to proceed awakening naturally. As he felt some of the presences moving away from him, he found he could recognize the next voice that started speaking. It was Dino's.
"Do you really think he should be told about that?"
"How do you mean?"
That voice was becoming more familiar. It was from the tall herbivore with the sword if he recalled.
"I don't know. Tsuna seems different somehow. I don't know if telling him about—"
"Of course Tsuna is different. Is it really that surprising? Who knows what he went through during his time apart from us."
Silence followed those words for a moment before Dino gave a soft sigh. "Tsuna also seems...angry with me. And I can't help but feel it's because of..."
He could feel eyes on him after those words and it didn't take a genius to realize the Italian was talking about him. About the relationship they'd previously had. The sword herbivore hummed lightly.
"Is this the man you had wanted us to meet? The one who made you sad?"
Sad? He had made Dino sad? Just how much had he shared with these people? Eyes shooting open, a wave of dizziness caught him, distracting him from the answer Dino gave to that comment. A small groan escaped as he had to close his eyes once more to stop the room from spinning.
He couldn't help internally wincing at the loud call. His head ached. It took a moment for him to remember why. Once he did, however, he quickly opened his eyes again and scanned the room for Tsuna.
"Kyouya!" Dino seconded the cry, hurrying to his side and peering down at him. "Are you feeling okay?"
When the other two came into view, both looking concerned as well, he couldn't help glaring at all three of them before sitting up slowly. As he was bringing a hand up to his head, he found himself pausing in the motion when the ring he now wore caught his attention as it glinted the artificial light of the room he was in. This ring.
Dino, catching where his gaze had landed, looked from the ring to his face. Recalling what had happened earlier, he thought it best to ask, "Kyouya. Do you know what that ring means?"
That question took him by surprise. What? What the ring meant? He thought about what he had been told before meeting Dino's gaze. "You have mentioned it is an heirloom of the Vongola family, worn by the successor of the family and their chosen guardians."
Nodding, Dino gave his agreement to those words before adding, "There is that...but also, to us, these rings mean peace. For more than just the Vongola famiglia. They are part of a Tri-ni-set. Legend has it that they played a part in creating the world."
Yamamoto looked between the two before narrowing his eyes as he took in the ring of Cloud. "More than that is what these rings mean to us. A connection to Tsuna, our boss. Our Sky. We're a family. These bind us together in a way that can't be described with words, it's just something you feel. The things we've been through together—the journey we've had with these rings! We all have our strengths, our individuality that makes us stand apart from the others, but we are still a part of the Sky. That's what holds us together. You have to understand that, even if you don't like it. Tsuna is special to us. If you're going to be apart of this famiglia, of this brotherhood—of this family...the disrespect you showed to Tsuna earlier, our boss, is never to happen again."
He took those words in silently, letting them repeat a few time in his head. Before he could make a decision on what to think of them, Dino spoke up once more, offering something surprising.
"Kyouya, you don't have to take it. You don't have to take the ring or the title if that's something you can't commit to. We'd understand. That life? It's not for everyone."
Kusakabe's voice, he silently admitted, startled him a little. He had momentarily forgotten the man was there with them. Hearing the hesitance, he looked to the man who had been by his side throughout everything, giving him his attention.
"Kyou-san, if I may..." Kusakabe paused, glancing away for a second before looking back and staring him right in the eyes. "Please. Please think long and hard about this before you make a decision. Not just for your sake but for Tsuna's."
Well. Honestly? That request surprised him a little.
Kusakabe watched his boss, slowly relaxing when the younger man didn't seem at all irritated by what he had requested. Which gave him relief. He really didn't want to get bitten but felt he had to step in. For Tsuna, if anything. He could see how much his boss's anger was hurting the other man. He didn't want to see the two lose what they could have over these turn of events.
Silence again followed, offering neither a good nor bad sign, until Tsuna's voice from the hall could be heard.
That word had Yamamoto running from the room.
Tsuna's eyes widened at those words. Adriano was—wait. "Wait, have? You...y-you still—he's still...?"
When Mukuro nodded once in answer, he felt his legs go weak as he slipped to the floor. He waved off Gokudera's worried look as he processed what he had just been told. It had never occurred to him that Rino would still be around. That they would have talked to him, heard his side of the story. To hear why he had done what he had.
"He told you why?" He asked, voice softer than he had intended as a slight fear came over him at all the reasons the young Italian could have.
"I could show you, if you'd like. The things our dear Adriano confessed." Mukuro offered in a way that sent shivers down his spine. He didn't like the tone to those words at all.
No. No, if Adriano was here, then—"No. I want to see him. I want to see Rino."
"Juudaime, I'm not sure if that would be a good idea." Gokudera replied with a small frown on his face as he shot a quick glare to his fellow guardian.
"What? Why not?" Tsuna asked, unable to keep a small bit of annoyance from his voice.
Gokudera opened his mouth to reply, but it was Mukuro that got words out first.
"I'm not sure Adriano would be up for visitors at the moment, Tsunayoshi-kun. He hasn't been for a while, I'm afraid. Of course...with the torture I used against him to get him to speak—then, of course, there was the guilt he suffered. So much so that we've had to stop him, many times, from trying to starve or kill himself that—" Mukuro started to explain, with a hint of amusement that horrified him.
"STOP!" He cried out, needing the words to stop as awful images bloomed to mind.
Mukuro fell silence at once, though he didn't look repentant in the least, as Yamamoto came running from the room.
"Tsuna?" Yamamoto called out with concern but was ignored.
"Take...take me there." Tsuna said softly, not looking at any of them as his voice quivered a little with held back emotion. "Take me to see him."
"Tsuna? Are you sure that—" Yamamoto tried to ask gently only to be cut off by Gokudera.
"That's really not necessary, Juudaime! The Mist bastard has—" The bomber tried to reassure until he was fixed with a disapproving glare.
Tsuna got to his feet to show that he was serious. " I said to take me there. I want to be taken to A-Adriano...now!"
"Juudaime—" Gokudera tried once more to dissuade his boss.
"Hayato." Tsuna cut him off, having none of it. No one else tried to stop him after that. They all knew what the use of that name meant.
Gokudera didn't look pleased but nodded once. Before he could turn to lead the way down the hall, however, Hibari was at the door.
"I'm coming." The new Cloud guardian stated as he stepped into the hall, followed by Dino and Kusakabe.
"Kyouya!" Tsuna and Dino called out at the same time, each one turning to shoot the other a look, one sounding shocked and the other relived.
Hibari ignored the both of them, his gaze moving to where Mukuro stood. Mukuro simply arched a brow at the statement before grinning.
"Oh? So the pigeon thinks he can be included in family matters? Because of the ring you wear? It's just a ring...you're no true member of this famiglia." The words challenged with purpose.
Before Hibari could respond or another fight could happen, Tsuna stepped in with an impatient huff. "Mukuro, stop. Kyouya is the rightful owner. I can feel it. Maybe it's not official yet, but it can be."
It was something you felt. A connection. A strength that called him. Suddenly Hibird's words came back to him from the first day he had met Tsuna. 'A part! A part!' Was this...? "I accept. This ring and it's connections."
A flutter of flame rippled through his chest at those words, the feeling mirrored with Sky, Rain, Storm, and Mist. They were connected, whether he liked it or not. Looking to the others, he could see Storm and Mist did not look happy. Rain seemed guarded. And Tsuna...he met his gaze only for a moment before looking away. Still too many feelings.
"There is still the problem of that." Mukuro spoke up, nodding to where Kusakabe silently stood by.
"Enough. Kusakabe is my guest, not that it matters. I told you to take me to Rino. I will not ask again." Tsuna growled out, standing at his full height. He was tired. He wanted this over with. Enough with the distractions!
Gokudera threw a smirk at the illusionist before turning on his heel and leading the way.
The silence was eerie. Only their footsteps and the whisper of their clothes could be heard. Far too soon they were at the door to the room that held Adriano within. Before any of the others could open the door for him, he stepped forward while placing his hand against the metal barrier. Steeling himself in preparation for whatever he was about to find inside, he held his hand out and asked for the keys while wishing his voice had been steadier than the small crack it had come out as.
Once keys were pressed into his hand, he brought the correct one shakily to the lock and slid it in only to pause for a breath before twisting. Door unlocked, he pulled the key free and slowly pushed the door open. It was dark inside, the first thing to catch his attention...until the unbelievable stench hit him as he stepped inside. A small gasp escaped as he brought a hand to his nose, brows furrowing. Sweat. Blood. Spoiled food. Vomit. Urine, all mixed together in varying faded degrees. Quickly finding the light, he turned it on, eyes wincing when the brightness blinded him for a moment.
Oh, God. He wasn't ready for the sight that he was met with once his eyes had adjusted. Now he understood a little more Gokudera's hesitance in letting him come here. There was Rino, against the far wall, chained and gagged. Dirty and scarred, filthy clothes hanging off his small frame. This poor boy.
Sudden anger bit into him. How dare they! In his name they did this? They treated another human being in such a disgusting way?! Eyes lighting with his fury, he turned on his Mist guardian with a scowl. "Mukuro, why?! Look at him! How could you hurt him so—"
"Tsuna, calm down." Yamamoto stepped in when Tsuna took an angry step toward Mukuro. "It's not what you think."
Tsuna smacked away the hand the swordsman tried to put on his arm. "He tortured him! He hurt him—for what?!"
"Those wounds are self-inflicted." Mukuro corrected at once at that accusation. "I only played with his mind a little, Vongola."
At Tsuna's look of confusion, Yamamoto sighed lightly before explaining. "He did all this to himself. After he heard about your death he wanted us to kill him. Reborn would not allow this, even after he got the information we needed. If he would suffer more alive with his guilt, then Reborn wanted him kept alive. When he tried continuously to injure himself, we had to chain him up. When he tried to bite off his own tongue, we had to gag him. When he refused food or water, we had to force it on him."
"But..." He didn't know what to say to that. It was wrong. It felt so wrong.
"He's a prisoner, Tsuna. It's not a pretty picture but you wanted to see it." His Rain guardian reminded him gently.
"It's because you baby him." Mukuro commented in an offhand way, ignoring the glare the bomber sent him.
Those words actually stung. Like the tears that started to gather in his eyes as he brought his gaze back to Rino. Clenching his jaw, he held them back before steeling himself once again and walked over to the imprisoned man. Everything looked so much worse the closer he got. He watched that thin body tense at his approach, heard the muffled crying as the body tried to cringe away.
Dropping to his knees, he gently reached out and pulled the gag free from Rino's mouth after a moment's pause where he scanned a dirty and scratched up face. The crying got louder and his heart broke at the words that followed.
"Please...please k-kill me. Let...j-just let me die. Please." Rino was pale, voice hoarse, but strong in his pleading.
Heart clenching, he reached out gentle hands to that pale face. Touching carefully, he moved to get the other's attention on him. "Rino...shh. It's okay."
Shocked hazel eyes finally looked at him at those words. "V-Vongola?"
A loud wail fell from shaky pale lips before the crying started anew, desperate and pleading.
"I'm sorry! I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" Those same words, over and over until they slurred together with tears and saliva.
Hands shaking, Tsuna quickly moved to release Rino's scarred arms, catching the younger man's body against his own chest once the chains were taken off. He held the weak man close, listening to his slurred words as he tried to figure out what to say. The smell of the man in his arms was awful but he ignored it as he held the body closer, bringing a trembling hand to stroke through greasy and unkempt hair soothingly. It was then that he knew what to say.
"Rino, I forgive you." He spoke softly against the crying man's ear, making sure he heard him.
Adriano's apologies stopped at those words, but the crying continued. He just let him cry it out.
"I forgive you." He repeated gently, feeling the truth of those words. "I forgive you everything, Rino. It wasn't your fault. It...it was fate. We were brought together in this way through no fault of your own. You showed naïvety but no maliciousness and so I forgive you."
He could feel as the other's body started to weaken at his words and the crying started to quiet down. Tears of his own started to fill his eyes as the meaning dawned on him.
"Don't worry, Rino. I'm here now. I know you're tired. It's okay to sleep, though. I won't let those who hurt us get away with it." He promised gently, feeling his stomach sink as the body on his grew heavier. The tears burned. "Sleep now, Rino. When you wake up again you'll feel much better."
He heard Rino mumble his name...then nothing. Everything stopped. Ceased to be. Where one heartbeat stopped, he felt his quicken as something painful and heavy rose from his chest and exited his mouth in the form of a wounded cry.
Tears streamed and he allowed himself a moment of grief before straightening up. Closing his eyes and taking a few deep breaths, he opened them once again and turned to Mist.
-Chapter 31 End-
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Author's Notes 2: Okay! So. I'm sorry it took YEARS to update. But, you know, that's sometimes life. I told you all I wasn't abandoning this, and I won't. Sorry to those lost because patience was lost, and thank youto those who stayed. I'm hoping to keep updates more frequent—well, not every two years at least! ;P
Also, I am sorry for all mistakes and such. This isn't beta'd. Oops? If you can't review to this chapter, PM me? I'd love to hear from the readers still with me! :D
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NEXT CHAPTER: Adriano's Story
The journal. He needed to find the journal!