Sorry for the time it took to get this next part out! I got a PS4 back in February, so I was playing on that a lot. Good times! :'D
A special thank you to everyone who continues to read and review! It means a lot to me, even if I don't reply to every review or show it with lagging updates!
Candy Penguin: I am happy to hear that you enjoyed the Ring Battle and Hibari's fight! :) And we never know...if Mukuro keeps picking on Gokudera, Yamamoto probably will fight him—he has to protect his love, after all!
I didn't take your review as an attack, either! I see where you're coming from with your concerns, and the door to Tsuna and Dino's brotherhood will open again.
x x x
Chapter 36: A Thousand Flowers Part III
Gathering Tsuna into his arms, Hibari got to his feet before turning his attention to where the hitman was still standing. "We're leaving."
Reborn's dark gaze landed on Hibari, taking the two in silently before the corner of his lips pulled up into a small smirk. "I want him back before the end of the day...for his safety. Surely you understand."
"Wait—you can't just let them—" Gokudera started to speak out, not liking the idea of his boss going who knew where with that man while in the state he was in! Who knew what would happen to him!
"Worry less about others and more about yourself for the time being." Reborn cut in over him while turning to face down Lambo, who was still hiding behind him. "You. Come with me."
Lambo flinched a little, at his tone it would seem, but followed along obediently when Reborn began to walk away.
Hibari ignored any other protests that may have been given as he walked out the front door.
Gokudera watched the two leave with a telling frown before moving to stomp away the best he could with his injuries paining him dully.
Gokudera ignored the call but decided not to say anything against the swordsman following him as he first started to head up towards his room before changing his mind and deciding to go to his lab instead. He could tinker around there for a while to get his mind off of things for the moment. At least, he hoped that he would be able to keep his mind occupied on other things.
Again he ignored the call, keeping his attention ahead of him until he saw the familiar door. Reaching out to open it, he paused for a moment before turning back around to see Yamamoto following behind him with a worried look.
"Hey—" Yamamoto started, once he seemed to feel that he now had his attention until he cut him off.
"I'd like to be alone for the moment." Gokudera spoke over him, a little annoyed by his lack of usual bite in his words, but too exhausted to care.
Yamamoto gave him a small frown before nodding his head in understanding. "Fine, but can I check up on you later?"
Gokudera opened his mouth, his usually mean retort on the tip of his tongue until his eyes caught sight of the bruise now forming on Yamamoto's face...from where he had been punched by Mukuro. After having punched Mukuro himself—in...his defense. Heart thudding in his chest as he felt his cheeks get warm, Gokudera looked away from that annoying face. "Later...you can."
He didn't miss the way a small smile found the taller man's lips as he closed the door behind him, locking everyone and everything unimportant out. Turning, so he could lean back against the door, Gokudera closed his eyes and started to sigh deeply until the forceful exhalation caused his ribs to ache more than usual. Wincing a little to himself as a hand found a bruised side, Gokudera pushed himself off of the door before walking further into the room, running a hand through his hair while looking around.
Not too sure on what he wanted to work on first, Gokudera found himself suddenly distracted when he caught sight of an out of place journal on one of his work tables. A silver brow rising in curiosity, Gokudera made his way over to it, a small smile finding his lips when he spotted the note from Tsuna next. Picking it up, he read it carefully until the smile on his lips turned into a small frown.
This was...a piece to the puzzle? And his boss had entrusted it to him. Smile forming once more, Gokudera couldn't deny that that knowledge made him feel a little better as he opened the journal to take a look at what his boss had wanted him to see.
Forcing a small smile, Kusakabe looked up to greet Haru as he entered her shop, not really sure what had brought him here...after all, their last interaction had ended with a fight and Haru in tears as he still refused to tell her what had happened to Tsuna.
None of that really seemed to matter at the moment, though, when Haru came running to him and threw herself into his arms. She hugged him tightly and he couldn't resist returning her embrace, wanting to pull her closer but deciding against it.
"Haru's sorry for the fighting from before, Kabe-san! It's just...the not knowing." Haru mumbled softly from where she had hidden her face against his chest.
Sighing lightly, Kusakabe gently pushed Haru back so he could look her in the eye. "I'm sorry, too. That I can't ease your fears."
Haru's face twisted into an angry scowl for a few seconds before finally dropping as tears filled her eyes and her lip quivered. "Haru's missed Kabe-san. I-It's so lonely here, now that...everyone has left."
When he saw the tears spill over, he felt something clenching painfully in his stomach. Haru's pain always seemed to bother him more and more lately, and now, seeing her cry, was always the worst. He was a little at a loss on how to make her happy again, too. With Tsuna he could joke and tease, but he felt Haru might get offended if he playfully called her hideous. He didn't want to offend her or accidentally hurt her more. He wanted to...she was—oh.
"Haru..." He was a little surprised at the way his voice cracked on her name, but he ignored it as his hands found her face and cradled it gently before leaning down to press his lips against hers.
Kusakabe could hear Haru hiccup in surprise, but that was about the only reaction she gave. He supposed he should be happy that she hadn't pushed him away, yet it wasn't really a positive sign if she didn't respond at all. Starting to get a little worried when still nothing happened, he pulled back slowly while opening his eyes only to see Haru staring at him with shock, her face a bright red.
Suddenly inhaling sharply, Haru jerked back a little as her face went more red when she pressed a few fingertips to her lips. "W-What—w-what was...?"
Feeling his own face go a little red now, embarrassed that he suddenly felt like a kid with his first crush, he tried to articulate an answer only to be interrupted when his phone suddenly went off. Mentally cursing at the sound of Hibari's ring tone, he sighed lightly and answered the call. It was simply Hibari telling him to meet him with some training supplies for himself and Tsuna.
"Right." He answered simply before hanging up the call, turning his attention back to Haru who was now looking at the floor with a thoughtful expression, face still red as she chewed on her bottom lip. "Haru, I'm sorry. I can't stay. They need me to—"
Haru's head shot up at his words, brown eyes narrowing like a hawk who had just spotted prey. "They?"
"Ah—" Kusakabe mentally winced once more, not sure on how to go about fixing that slip up without making her more suspicious. Unfortunately for him, Haru wasn't stupid in the least.
"What does Kabe-san mean by they?" Haru asked darkly until it seemed that it suddenly clicked, eyes going wide as she stared at him with disbelief. "Tsuna-san! Hibari-san is—is with Tsuna-san!"
"Haru, I—" Kusakabe tried to distract her, but she wouldn't allow it.
"Where is he? Where is Tsuna-san!" Haru demanded to know as she reached out and clenched her fists into his jacket. "Kabe-san, please! Why won't—"
And then it hit her. Really, she didn't know why it had taken her so long to figure out what had possibly happened. Especially after seeing that strange man who had been with Tsuna that one day. Gasping as she brought her hands to her mouth, she looked at Kusakabe with a mix of horror and uncertainty. Shaking herself from her shock, Haru allowed her face to morph into determination before she ran to her shop's door and locked it before putting up her 'CLOSED' sign.
Turning back to Kusakabe, she marched right up to him while staring him down. "Does this have to do with Tsuna-san's mafia family?"
That took Kusakabe completely by surprise.
"What did you see while you were in the future?" Reborn asked as gently as possible as he tried to get Lambo comfortable enough to open up to him by offering him a hot chocolate; with extra whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles even.
Watching with interest, he noted on how Lambo took the cup absently, only to bring it to rest on his lap.
"Tsuna-nii..." Lambo finally answered softly, looking down at his hot chocolate.
Reborn had to hold back a frown. Seeing Tsuna wasn't that interesting. Or informative. "Anything else? What about—"
The sight of Lambo shaking his head interrupted Reborn before he could finish his question, expressive green eyes slowly moving to meet his gaze.
"Tsuna-nii told me...I'm not supposed to say." Lambo reiterated softly before bringing his hot chocolate to his lips and taking a long sip.
Reborn looked away, thinking about that answer. It really wasn't surprising, but did that mean that Lambo saw something? Or perhaps heard something? Did Tsuna place that warning for a reason or just to make sure Lambo wasn't his usual annoying self?
Bringing his attention back to Lambo, he kept his expression neutral when he took in the pale face and teary eyes, beyond curious to know what it was that Lambo now knew. It was obviously troubling, but in what way? Just to Lambo's childish mind, as many things were more frightening to children, or on a general scale. Should he be worried?
"I'm—I'm scared." Lambo whispered against his cup before bringing it down to rest on his lap once more.
"Of what?" Reborn inquired gently, wondering if this time Lambo would give a better answer.
"What I'm going to have to do." Was the soft reply before Lambo suddenly went tense for a moment before jumping to his feet, forgetting all about the cup on his lap, and running to where Reborn was standing.
Reborn instinctively wanted to back away or strike out, but fought it down as Lambo threw his body against his, clinging to him as he buried his face into his chest.
"What if they hurt me!" The youngest guardian cried, muffled against his shirt, as he clung even tighter to him.
Releasing a small sigh, Reborn brought a hand up and petted soft hair gently in an effort to soothe. "Lambo, I'd kill anyone who'd try to hurt you."
Pulling back a little, face less messy with tears and snot than he thought it would be—a blessing, really—Lambo looked up at him while sniffling. "Really?"
That earned the brat a dark smile. "Of course, if Tsuna didn't first. I don't think there is anything Tsuna wouldn't do to protect you."
Those words seemed to offer some comfort as tight arms loosened a little from around Reborn's waist.
Hibari looked over to where Tsuna lay sleeping against the window as the car came to a slow stop in front of their destination. He thought about waking him up before deciding that maybe it would be better to just let Tsuna sleep until Kusakabe got there with the supplies he had requested. Getting out on his side, he walked over to Tsuna's and opened the door slowly, a little relieved when Tsuna didn't go with the movement. Gathering him into his arms once more, he kicked the door shut before carrying him into the warehouse.
How long had it been since they had last been here? Once he was able to safely set Tsuna down without waking him up, he went around and gathered some of the heaters he had stored for winter use. Plugging them in and turning them on, he went back to where Tsuna was before sitting down to wait. He looked Tsuna over once, reaching out a hand to touch his hair gently, before sighing and pulling away.
Hibari couldn't believe what had happened earlier. All that power...Tsuna was no herbivore in that moment. But he had almost lost control of the situation—lost control of Tsuna in his own spiral. That made him angry. For a moment he felt weakness to Tsuna's rage and then that man...who had been the child? That was still a little confusing to him. He'd have to learn more about the youngest guardian at some point, and that strange weapon of his. But the man who had been an older version of the child, he had given him the answer: an answer that once again led him to being the one Tsuna needed.
Something that pleased him and made him more curious. Pulling out the small box, he stared at it with more interest. It was an amazing thing, this creature that was held within. He would need to learn more about this as well, its strengths and weaknesses. How to use it most effectively. But, was it something he could learn himself? Or was it something he would need to be taught? Looking back to Tsuna for a moment, he figured he had a little time before gathering flame to his ring and pushing it into the box.
The little hedgehog came out at once, seeming to have been awoken from a nap as it looked a little disoriented at first while yawning and stretching its little body out.
"I'm sorry about that." Hibari felt inclined to apologize lightly to the small thing. After all, he knew what it was like to be bothered when sleeping. The little hedgehog turned to look at him at the sound of his voice. He couldn't help giving it a curious look in return, holding out a hand to it. "From today on, I am your master. May we grow together."
He watched with interest as the little hedgehog seemed to give his hand a curious sniff before placing a small front paw onto his fingertip. He could admit, if only to himself, that the action was rather endearing. A small laugh had him looking up to see that Tsuna was now awake, giving him a soft smile.
"Are you going to name him?" Tsuna asked lightly while sitting up a little and pushing his hair from his eyes.
Hibari thought on that for a moment before opening his mouth to answer, only to pause when Tsuna suddenly gasped, bringing a hand to his chest. It didn't long to figure out why when he felt a flutter from his flame in his own chest. "What's wrong?"
"I...I felt conflicted suddenly, while looking at you." Tsuna answered softly with a pained expression twisting his features. "I felt angry...and scared...but—"
Tsuna felt himself gasp more than he heard it as his face was suddenly taken into Hibari's warm hands, their foreheads coming to rest against each other as they looked into each others' eyes.
"Tsunayoshi, calm down." Hibari commanded gently, trying to get him to focus on the here and now. He could see it was a struggle, though he didn't want to admit that he didn't know why. That he didn't know what it was that was pulling at Tsuna.
"K-Kyouya...I—I feel hate." Tsuna confessed while wincing through the pain until tears filled his eyes in realization. "Kyouya, I hate you..."
Hibari felt his body freeze at those words, his own heart clenching in his chest.
Kusakabe tried to subtly shake his surprise away before giving a forced laugh. "What on earth are you talking abou—"
"Don't try to lie! Haru knows! Tsuna-san told Haru about his family!" Haru cut him off as she crossed her arms over her chest and continued to stare him down.
She was actually kind of scary in this moment.
"Miura-san, I—" Kusakabe tried to politely change the subject until he was caught once again by surprise when Haru actually shoved him backwards; hard enough to where he almost bit his tongue mid sentence.
"And don't do that! Don't say 'Miura' after you've said 'Haru'! After that kiss!" Haru fumed as she shoved him back again, angry tears filling her eyes now. "Don't lie to me! Tsuna-san didn't say it outright, but Haru knows! If Kabe-san loves Haru at all...don't lie!"
"Haru." Kusakabe sighed as he caught her hands when she made to shove him again, pulling her into a confining embrace. "I just want to protect you, same with Tuna, I suppose. Perhaps that's why he didn't tell you outright, for your protection. The mafia is a dangerous thing and Tsuna, himself, is in danger right now."
Haru remained silent for a moment after that reply, before sniffling a little. "Hibari-san will protect Tsuna-san, though, right?"
Kusakabe was unable to stop a small smile from falling over his lips at that question. "I'm sure Kyou-san would destroy anyone who tried to hurt Tuna, just like I—like I would, to protect you. But I would still rather you not be involved in—"
He didn't get to finish his request of her to stay out if it all as she silenced him with a heated kiss, pressing up against his body. He knew he still had to go and meet with Hibari and Tsuna, but figured it couldn't hurt to allow himself to get lost in all that was Haru.
If only for a moment.
"Kyouya, I hate you...no—more like, I hate...what you did. I h-hate what you did to Gokudera! Why! Why did you have to do that!" Tsuna could feel the anger rise again as he brought his hands up to push Hibari's away from his face. "We're a team! A family! How could you hurt him like that!"
Hibari allowed himself to be pushed back, having to fight back his own bite of anger at Tsuna's anger with him. How was he unable to understand how a world of hierarchy worked? Especially given his position! Unless...could that be part of the problem? "He stepped out of his place, I merely put him back into it."
Tsuna shook his head, not wanting to hear that. He understood what Hibari meant, after all that's why he had never stepped in in the first place, but—"But you were so cruel! You didn't have to hurt him the way you did! N-Never! Never do that again...I won't forgive you!"
Hibari found himself lunging forward in irritation before he could stop himself, partly at what had just been said and in slight jealously of Tsuna's obvious affections for the man who wore his disrespect under the guise of a personality quirk. "Don't try to tell me to change who I am!"
Tsuna was quick to jump to his feet and dodge away from Hibari as tonfa were drawn, eyes locked on him as he frowned. Change who he was? But that's not what he wanted at all! "Kyouya, I just want you to—"
"You're too soft, Tsunayoshi." Hibari cut in over him, glaring at where he stood but making no move to take another swipe at him. "And that's why you think I'm too harsh."
Tsuna visibly flinched at those words, drawing in on himself. Too soft. Everyone seemed to being saying that recently, but... "But I don't want to hurt them! And I don't want to kill! I don't want to be like them! I don't want to—I don't want them to hate me!"
Feeling his body relax in surprise at that spilled confession, Hibari let his tonfa fall to his sides as he took the smaller man in with a new light. "Tsunayoshi—"
"I don't like using my flame against them and I don't like the power of being a boss over my friends! I don't want to control them! What if I go too far? What if—w-what if I can't stop? Are they going to stop me? What if they can't! What if they hate me?" Tsuna gasped as some of the deepest fears of his heart were withdrawn like poison.
A gentle hand touching his hair startled Tsuna from his thoughts, another gasp being pulled from him as he fell into a warm body. Hibari's scent filled his nose instantly, causing him to calm down at once. More so when that gentle hand stroked over his hair then down his back.
"You see the world too much in black and white, when grey exists as well." Hibari spoke lowly before pausing, seeming to think about something before slowly continuing with something that hit him hard, "Think about our time together. I...was cruel and harsh with you. I hurt you in my effort for you to learn what it was I wanted to teach you, but you learned. And here we are now. Do you hate me, Tsunayoshi? Do you hold that against me?"
No. No, he didn't. He didn't like the way Hibari had made him feel sometimes and he definitely hadn't like some of his methods, but...he didn't hate him. And he didn't really hold it against him. He loved him too much for—oh. Oh! He pulled back to look Hibari in the eye, only to be surprised with a kiss instead. One that seemed to be a distraction...was Hibari afraid of his answer? Mentally smiling at that thought, Tsuna leaned in while bringing a hand up to—
"Sorry it took so long, Kyou-sa—ah! S-Sorry!"
They jerked away from each other, turning to see that Kusakabe had finally arrived, Tsuna's face going a bright red.
A soft knock brought Gokudera from his deep reading, startling him a little, as he looked up and to the door when it was slowly opened. Yamamoto was there, wearing a sheepish smile and holding a small tray in one hand.
"Sorry to bother you so soon, but I brought you something to eat. Earlier, you left your breakfast behind and I wasn't sure if you've had anything since then." Yamamoto explained carefully, pausing only to see if he would be denied, before continuing on course.
Gokudera watched him silently, ignoring the way his heart had seemed to speed up until he noted that the swordsman seemed to be a bit lost on where to set the tray down. Not that he really blamed him. All available surfaces at the moment were taken up with his stuff and now the books he had gathered to help him with his research. "Ah! Here..."
Gently placing his current read down, he quickly cleared some space that was just minor notes on his box weapon and other random things. Feeling shy, he avoided the taller man's eyes as a bright smile was sent his way.
"Thanks!" Yamamoto set the tray down before looking around at all the new things that hadn't been there earlier. "You've been busy. What's all this?"
Gokudera opened his mouth to reply with pride at the task his boss had set him before pausing, wondering if this was general information or if maybe this was something his boss wanted to be kept quiet for now. He wasn't too sure, the note hadn't really said. And he hadn't really thought to ask. Chewing on his bottom lip, he turned to glare up at Yamamoto. "None of your business!"
"Ah—right. Well, I'll go now. Make sure you eat up, Gokudera. You're getting too skinny...Tsuna will worry." Giving a small, sad smile, Yamamoto turned and quietly left.
Feeling his heart clench slightly, Gokudera brought a hand up to rub at his chest while looking to the tray. Stupid Yamamoto. He thought he could always trick him into doing what he wanted, just by saying that it would make his boss worry about him. Why didn't he just say that he was worried too? Not that he cared! And it didn't bother him that he had been given such a sad look! Really! It wasn't the idiot's business to know every thing!
"Augh!" Frustrated by his thoughts, he turned back to his book and tried to continue where he had left off.
He had figured that by starting on the oldest books about past and current families, maybe he could find something. Long histories and many things were hidden deep inside these books, not that many people went looking. As far as he knew. Maybe that was how they had miss something crucial. And really! Why hadn't he thought to look at these from the beginning? Sighing heavily, a small headache forming over his right eye, he started reading until his stomach cut in.
The loud and painful growling was hard to ignore, especially when the enticing smells of whatever had been brought to him now reached his nose. Sighing once more, exasperation mixed in this time, he set the book down and turned to the tray. Lifting a lid that had been place over a large plate, he felt his face go red once more when he noted how Yamamoto had brought him a few of his favorite things. How did he even know about such things? Why would he even care to know?
I love you.
"So stupid..." He mumbled without bite, face still hot while his heart calmed down, as he reached for a fork.
Panting lightly, Tsuna smiled in thanks when a freshly bruised Kusakabe handed him a water bottle and a snack bar. Sitting up from where he had lain on the floor, Tsuna allowed his eyes to stay on Kusakabe while he opened his water bottle for a much-needed break. He couldn't help laughing a little in silent amusement as he took the poor older man in. Apparently Hibari hadn't been too pleased with Kusakabe's timing and finally took his annoyance out on him.
Poor guy. Though he didn't think Kusakabe had minded too much. He seemed to take the beating well enough, and even Hibari seemed to pull his hits—even if only slightly. Looking down at his own body, Tsuna sighed softly as he took in his new aches and pain. After Hibari had bitten Kusakabe, he had suggested to train up a little like Reborn had requested. They had went at it for a while, too, though Hibari had made sure to take care with Tsuna's still injured body.
Something that made Tsuna think of the first time they had trained together. Hibari had taken care with his still healing body then as well. It seemed like forever ago now.
"It's bleeding again."
Pulled from his thoughts at those words, Tsuna turned to Kusakabe, who had spoken, only to see him looking at Hibari. Turning his head to look as well, he was surprised to see Hibari's shirt was spotted with blood on his shoulder. Where Reborn had—
"Ah! Kyouya, are you okay!" Tsuna gasped as he set his water bottle aside and crawled over to where Hibari sat.
Hibari opened his mouth, probably to answer that he was fine, but Tsuna didn't give him a chance as he immediately started to unbutton Hibari's shirt. He wanted to see for himself!
"What are you—" Hibari asked while trying to catch his hands only for Tsuna to smack them away and glare at the older man.
"Let me see." Tsuna said firmly, glaring harder when it looked like he would be denied.
Unfortunately Hibari wasn't one to be intimidated, but fortunately—though Tsuna didn't know it, Hibari thought his expression was cute and decided to just let him do what he wanted. Giving an exasperated sigh, Hibari lowered his hands and glared back playfully.
Cheeks heating a little, Tsuna continued what he was doing until he was able to push Hibari's shirt out of the way. He could feel his heart clench painfully when he took in the sight of the irritated skin around where a few stitches had been placed. Because of him. Hibari had been shot by Reborn...because of him.
Tears of apology filling his eyes, he moved to touch the red skin gently. "I'm so sorry."
Before he could make contact, however, Hibari caught his hand and tugged him into a kiss instead. Face going red, Tsuna tried to jerk back only to hiss in pain when the movement made his side twinge. When he sat back gingerly, trying to take care, Tsuna noted that Kusakabe was doing his best to ignore both of them awkwardly while Hibari gave him a concerned look.
"I—I'm okay, really." He offered up before sighing as he watched Hibari check his own wound before sliding his shirt back on.
Tsuna was just starting to wonder if they would be eating dinner together when Hibari suddenly got to his feet while looking at his phone.
"I should bring you back now. We can continue once more tomorrow." Hibari said slowly as he looked from his phone to where Tsuna was sitting.
Feeling his heart sink, Tsuna realized that going back right now wasn't something he wanted. And that was confusing, not to mention that it made him feel a little bad.
"What's wrong Tuna?" Kusakabe asked, ever the observant one as he paused in gathering up their trash and other things.
When Hibari paused to look at him as well, Tsuna felt his face go pink. "I...I just wish I didn't have to go back. N-Not that I don't want to go back! I do! I just—it's just—I...I wish it could be like before, too. Going home with you guys. B-But I want to see my family, too! I want to be with them! But I want to be at the apartment, too. I want—"
Tsuna cut himself off, ashamed of having his cake and wanting to eat it, too.
A gentle hand cupping his chin made Tsuna look up to meet Hibari's gaze. Hibari ran his thumb over Tsuna's bottom lip before giving him a serious look. "What do you want?"
"I want to go home with you. But I want my family as well. I know I could just ask you to come to Vongola, but...but I don't want that. I still want it to be like before, but—" Tsuna found himself cut off once more by lips pressed against his before Hibari released him and stood up while pulling out his phone.
Tsuna watched with slight confusion until he heard what was being said. It sounded like Hibari had called Reborn and was negotiating the terms of him—he could feel his heart flutter as he listened to what he could hear of Hibari's side. Was he really going to...
"Got it." Hibari finally ended briskly, hanging up a second later, then turning to look at where Tsuna was still sitting. "You will go have dinner with your family, then you will come back to me. Tomorrow morning you will spend your time there before coming back here to train with me for a bit. Then you will spend the evening with them before coming back to me once again. Is this satisfactory?"
"Kyouya!" Tsuna cried out with happiness as he shot to his feet and threw himself into the taller man's arms, ignoring the way his body twinged a little. He was too happy to care! "Th-Thank you!"
Hibari returned the embrace gently, not bothering to explain that he mostly did it out of his own selfish happiness that Tsuna wanted to stay with him in any way he could. That the life they had started building together before all this still mattered to him.
Tsuna could feel sleep slipping away from him and that made him sad. He didn't want to wake up yet! He was so warm and surrounded by such a comforting scent that he just wanted to stay wrapped up here forever. Even though he tried to fight it, consciousness pulled at him until he pouted out a sigh. Refusing to open his eyes yet, he allowed his body to soak in its surroundings. He could feel the soft sheets of Hibari's bed against his bare skin. He could also feel Hibari's body wrapped around his here and there.
An arm had been slung over his hips while they slept, and one of Hibari's pajama-clad legs had slid between his bare ones sometime during the night as well. It was a comforting feeling, being so wrapped up in the person he loved after having had spent those few nights apart. Smiling to himself, Tsuna was just about to snuggle closer and try to go back to sleep only to be startled by the sound of an alarm going off.
He could feel Hibari twitch against his body, pulling him closer with the arm over his hips for a moment before slowly pulling back with a barely audible sigh. Trying to stay relaxed, Tsuna kept his eyes closed as he wondered at what Hibari would do if he pretended to still be asleep. Hibari moved around a little before a hesitant hand touched his hair gently, petting a few times, before their foreheads were pressed together. Tsuna was sure a kiss would follow only to be disappointed when Hibari pulled away instead, getting out of bed and leaving the room.
Opening his eyes finally, Tsuna sat up with a small pout and stared at the empty doorway. It didn't take long for the sound of shower going to reach his ears, which let him know Hibari probably wouldn't be coming back anytime soon. Sighing a little, he allowed himself to fall back against the pillows once more before closing his eyes and basking in the scent. He felt warm and safe. Even though he knew everything around him was still in chaos, for the moment it felt like everything was fine. Was normal. He could just relax for the moment and be Tsuna.
Not aware of having fallen back asleep, Tsuna found himself startled awake some time later to Hibird pecking at his lips gently. Jumping upright, he gave the bird a confused look while trying to orient himself until a light chuckle caught his attention. Turning to the source, Tsuna felt his mouth go dry at the sight of Hibari dressing. Viewing so much skin, Tsuna was a little embarrassed at how quickly his body flushed with warmth. Also how, once again, a soft sound of want escaped him before he could stop it.
And then Hibari's gaze was on him, eyes turning a shade darker as they stared at each other. Tsuna watched with a quickening pulse as Hibari suddenly stalked towards him, not saying a word and never breaking eye contact. Cheeks flushing more, Tsuna found it easy to ignore how easily his body responded to the other man's approach as Hibari knelt on the bed before crawling over to him. Breath hitching, Tsuna allowed himself to fall back once more as Hibari's body found its way between his legs.
Hibari hovered over him, though brought their faces close together as light fingertips skated across the skin of Tsuna's outer thigh. Holding his breath, once again Tsuna waited for Hibari to kiss him. When no move was made, though, Tsuna whimpered softly and lifted his hands to catch Hibari's head so he could pull him down...only to have Hibari suddenly jerk away from, the sound of a phone going off a second later.
Seeming to avoid eye contact now, Hibari moved off of the bed and went to his phone. After checking to see who it was, he gave a small huff of annoyance before looking back to where Tsuna was. "The hitman is here for you, you should get ready."
Before Tsuna could give any kind of reply, Hibari turned and left the room. Releasing an odd growling kind of whine, Tsuna mentally told his body to calm down before getting up and getting dressed.
Rubbing tiredly at sage eyes, Gokudera allowed himself a loud yawn before taking a long sip from his morning dose of caffeine as he sat down at one of his desks, still littered with all the books and papers he had been going through. He would have probably never taken a break had Yamamoto not come and practically forced him to bed. He had been irritated with him for that at first, but in the end knew that even the constantly cheerful idiot had a point in that if he didn't take time to rest his brain, it would do more damage than good. He could likely miss something with lack of sleep and then he would never forgive himself.
Looking over the piles he had organized, he mentally sorted through what he had learned so far—nothing really useful—before looking around for what he had wanted to continue with. Taking another long sip, Gokudera sat down and got back to reading while silently hoping that an answer came soon. An answer that would please and make his boss proud. That would prove his worth to the family.
Once showered and changed, Tsuna was able to join some of his family for breakfast. It was something that filled him with happiness, though there was still that small part that wished that Hibari and Kusakabe would have come as well. Hibari had refused, though, and Kusakabe hadn't been around all morning. Which probably meant that he was getting a much-needed break—something that Tsuna couldn't fault him on. He smiled and talked with everyone until it caught his attention that Lambo was being more quiet than was normal. He wondered if perhaps his youngest guardian wasn't feeling well until he caught eyes with Fuuta and the younger man gave him a small frown while glancing, too, at where Lambo was sitting.
He arched a questioning brow, to which Fuuta gave a silent shrug. He continued to watch Lambo as they finished eating and once they were done, he had thought up a way to get Lambo on his own without hopefully making it too obvious.
"Lambo, will you help me clean up?" He called out, a small frown starting to form until he managed to catch it and relaxed his face once more when Lambo seemed to startle at the call, turning to look at him with wide eyes.
It took a tense moment but, surprisingly, Lambo didn't refuse. Just silently pushed away from the table before moving to do as asked. Which wasn't normal at all. Tsuna followed him into the kitchen after they had each collected a few plates and together they brought them to the sink. Looking around, happy that it was empty, Tsuna caught Lambo's arm before he could turn to leave and brought a hand up to his forehead.
"Are you feeling okay?" He couldn't keep the worry from his tone as he felt for a fever but found nothing.
Lambo tensed under his touch for a moment before trembling lightly and throwing himself into his arms. Tsuna found himself stumbling back a little from the force as his arms automatically moved to return the embrace. He had to bite back a yelp when Lambo's tight grip made his side ache, but otherwise did his best to ignore the pain.
"L-Lambo? Wha—" He started to ask until Lambo suddenly pulled back, looking up at him with a small frown.
"Reborn said you'd kill anyone who tried to hurt me...is that true?"
That question took Tsuna by surprise, his mouth freezing in its open state as he made to answer what he had first thought had been asked; what could have possibly been meant: of course he would never let anyone hurt Lambo—but then he took in the serious gaze being directed at him along with the small frown that only seemed to deepen with his continued silence.
Reborn had said he would...kill? Knowing full well how he felt about such actions? But why? Why would Reborn say something like that? And to Lambo, of all people? Brows furrowing, he turned his attention back to Lambo only to feel his heart sink when he noted how the previous frown had become trembling lips and those expressive green eyes had started to fill with tears.
"Lambo? What is this about? Why would Reborn say something like that?" Tsuna asked gently, bringing a hand up to give the smaller boy a comforting pat to try to stop Lambo from crying while also trying to figure out what was going on without his knowledge.
His youngest guardian didn't answer, though, instead pulling away and looking down to the floor.
"Lambo, please—" Reaching out, hoping to get him to explain, Tsuna watched as Lambo jerked away from him before turning to run out of the kitchen.
Lambo didn't get far before he crashed into a taller body that had just been making its way in.
"Watch it, brat." Mukuro hissed out in a bored fashion, not really seeming bothered like he usually would have been, until mismatched eyes seemed to catch sight of where Tsuna was standing. His boredom melted away to interest. "Tsunayoshi-kun."
His name from those lips sent a small shiver down Tsuna's spine—not exactly the pleasant kind either, as he felt his face go red when sudden images of their time in bed flooded his memories. Of the realization that Mukuro had feelings for him—something that Tsuna still wasn't really sure how to approach yet. Not that he didn't want to, he just hadn't really thought about it with everything else, but he did know that it was something that needed to be addressed, but...
"Ah!" Those thoughts left him once again when his attention was caught by Lambo fleeing the kitchen. Lambo. Lambo was more important at the moment. Something was going on that wasn't sitting right and it was his job to take care of his family. He had promised his mom. "Lambo! Mukuro, I'm sorry! Can we talk later?"
He didn't wait for a reply before moving to quickly follow his target.
Brows that were furrowed in concentration furrowed deeper at the sound of light knocking, bringing his concentration from the book in his hands and what he had been reading back to the reality around him. Annoyance building now, along with his frustration at not being able to find any information of substance, Gokudera opened his mouth to tell whoever was at the door—though, really, he knew—to go away only to miss that chance once the door started opening.
Of course it was Yamamoto who poked his head in, wearing a small frown as brown eyes found him where he sat, once again buried in books and notes.
"There you are...you missed breakfast." Yamamoto stated before coming into the room, another tray in hand. "Surprising, really. I figured you'd attend just to see Tsuna, if for nothing else."
Those words irritated him more. Not because they were unfounded, but because he could hear that the swordsman was once again using their boss to mask his own concern.
"Why don't you just say what you really mean?" He snapped out, a small headache forming over his right eye and his stomach giving a hungry grumble as the smells of whatever it was that Yamamoto had brought him reached his nose.
Yamamoto paused a moment in bringing his tray over, his mouth open and expression showing that he was about to play that question off before seeming to reconsider that. Mouth closing as his expression turned more serious, Yamamoto continued his approach until making it where he could put the tray down.
"I'm worried about you. You've been different since you came back from Dino's. I'm not sure if it's because of this, or—" Yamamoto had been reaching out to touch one of the books until Gokudera surprised them both by lashing out and smacking his hand away, rather hard.
"I didn't mean—"
Both started at the same time as Gokudera reached for Yamamoto's hand, both cutting off as well to give the other a chance to finish. Gokudera took Yamamoto's hand and squeezed it once in apology before letting go. Yamamoto wanted to catch the retreating hand, but figured he should leave for now. If Gokudera felt he was being intrusive just for trying to look at a book, he really didn't want to set the shorter man off by getting into his personal space. Especially not after that initiated touch.
Gokudera wasn't one that was usually apologetic, but he had just...
Biting back a smile and accepting defeat for now, Yamamoto bowed his head in his own apology before leaving the room.
Kusakabe looked between the two a little nervously, wondering if having Haru and Hibari meet for lunch was really such a good idea after all. He had been surprised when Hibari had accepted Haru's request and he had known why she had wanted to meet, though he wanted to pretend it was for something else entirely different, yet here they were: lunch at Mamma's with Haru asking for information on Tsuna and Hibari just giving her a blank look in response.
Which was better than getting irritated, sure, but Kusakabe was sure that irritation wouldn't be far off. It would be his fault when the fighting started. Haru had asked for him to try to get her a meeting with Hibari and he had been unable to say no—mostly because he had been sure that his boss would refuse. Unfortunately Hibari had agreed. Why, he wasn't sure, especially for someone who he knew his boss wasn't fond of.
Kusakabe held back a small sigh when tears started to fill Haru's eyes, her frustration seeming to reach its peak with Hibari's lasting silence. Hibari seemed to share this sigh, though made no move to hold it in as he took a sip of wine before leveling Haru with a contemplative gaze.
"Miura-san, it's my understanding that Tsunayoshi cut ties with you before everything that unexpectedly followed." Hibari stated evenly, giving no reaction when Haru flinched at that fact. "It is also my understanding that he meant to leave before this, it was his intention to cut ties and move on from what he wasn't ready to deal with. The fact that he cut his ties with you tells me that he had no intention of involving you further—"
"But—!" Haru tried to interrupt until Hibari quelled her with a look.
"I am going to guess that this was for your safety, Miura-san. Personally, I am not a fan of your relationship, but Tsunayoshi values your friendship, therefore it is not my place to give you any of the information that you seek—nor is it Kusakabe's. Tsunayoshi, I'm sure, has his reasons; along with the fact that there are other more important things occupying his mind." Hibari's tone was firm but more gentle than Kusakabe had expected, something else to surprise him with. "I will do you one small favor, however, for the sake of your friendship: I will pass along your worries. However Tsunayoshi chooses to respond is not my concern."
It seemed Hibari was done with the conversation at those words. Sliding his napkin from his lap, Hibari got to his feet before giving Kusakabe a pointed look.
"You can pay, as a favor, and I'll remind you not to let this woman make you soft, Kusakabe." Hibari's words were soft, but his eyes were hard.
Kusakabe could feel his cheeks go red, wondering if his boss knew there was more to the relationship between himself and Haru now, as he simply nodded his understanding.
-Chapter 36 Part III End-
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Author's Note: Well, it looks like this chapter is going to be in FOUR parts now—sorry! It just keeps getting away from me! There are still bits that I want to add to this chapter, but then the pages get a bit long and...I know, I know, a lot of you would not mind longer chapters, but it seems like the longer it gets, the longer it takes to write out, too. I don't really get it. Anyway...
So. Everyone is moving along. More bonds are being made or being fleshed out, yay? I'm really hoping the next part is the last part. It would be nice to wrap this chapter up so we can move on to the next part! :')
My poor little Lambo. But don't worry! Tsuna will figure it out! And wait—was Hibari actually being nice to Haru? XD