This silly little one shot was written just about a year ago... somehow we forgot to ever post it! Takes place before the Varia fights, while everyone is training.

It had been five days since training had begun -- five days where the man who was called Prancing Horse was at his side constantly. When they weren't fighting together, they were eating together. Dino followed him to the bathroom when it was time for bathroom breaks. But he'd physically drawn the line when it was suggested that they share a bed. Dino's laughing face hadn't been ready for the solid crack that came across his jaw.

This morning he was late. Hibari had been waiting on the roof of Namimori for nearly six minutes when his phone rang its proud tune.

"Hey! Kyouya!" Dino's greeting burst loud and irritating from the receiver and he didn't wait for Hibari to speak before continuing. "You picked up! Hey, hurry to the station. Our train leaves in 15! You're pretty pale so you burn easy right? Better bring a hat. Or sunscreen. Or both! Oh, maybe one of those cute visors--"

Hibari considered throwing the phone off the building. He imagined it would probably be fairly satisfying to watch it shatter into plastic bits and microchips with Dino "Hello? Hello?"ing on the other end. But as it was, he actually liked his phone. Considerably more than most of the people he was forced to fraternize with these days. "You're late," he finally interrupted.

Dino just laughed. Laughed. "Am I? Oh, well I guess it can't be helped. This was a spur of the moment plan and after all, things are bound to happen around you whether you expect them to or not, so think of it as part of today's lesson. And don't be late! I don't want to wait 20 minutes for the next train."

"This isn't a lesson," Hibari replied, toneless. "You're slacking. Slack by yourself." He clipped his phone shut and sighed faintly -- out of annoyance but also a little relief. It wasn't as though he couldn't train alone.

15 minutes later his cell chirped. A text message this time. When Hibari flipped open the phone, he found the correspondence brief and to the point. It was from Kusakabe. Man in locker room. Naked. W/ turtle. Orders?

There was a not-so-brief moment where he considered ordering his subordinate to kill the intruder and dump him in the river. Unfortunately, Tetsuya was too important an asset to risk to the power that he knew Dino possessed. So instead he texted back, I'll take it. And with annoyance burning in his chest, he made his way down the stairs and through the halls of the hallowed institution. When he pushed open the door, his tonfa were already drawn with every intention of hitting anything that was exposed. Anything.

Unfortunately, the first thing that met Hibari's eye was a wet, angry, 7 foot tall reptile with murder in his eyes. And as quickly as the prefect could change tactics, ready to take on the creature without mercy, that shift left him wide open for the biting embrace of a whip that came from his left and pinned both arms to his sides.

Dino didn't laugh this time, but he was smiling and fully dressed and the whip was taut in his grip. "Romario!" he called over his shoulder, eyes never leaving his student's. "Would you mind taking care of Enzo before he hurts himself?" Hibari had, likely, already put it all together, but Dino couldn't seem to resist dangling the stolen cellphone before him like a prize. Gloating. "Lesson 24 - Never assume your opponent is alone. Lesson 25 - Never trust technology. Now. Are you ready to go, Kyouya?"

Hibari parted his deadly teeth to speak but was interrupted by a shrill, angry sound, followed by the crunch and shriek of metal twisting. His eyes narrowed as he watched Enzo toss himself to the side and into the lockers that offered little resistance to a van-sized turtle shell. Apparently Enzo wasn't any more impressed or pleased with Dino's plans than Hibari was.

"Oh, good grief." Dino sighed. "Nevermind!" he shouted to his mustached companion who had barely managed to avoid being crushed against those same lockers. "Go get the car!"

Then he turned back to Hibari, shrugged and quirked his head with a bashful sort of grin. "Training exercise #52: Subdue the turtle!" Then with a flick of the wrist, he freed the seething prefect and ran after Romario with all the grace of a drunken salary man.

Hibari watched him go with the vaguest scowl on his lips and then looked back to Enzo, who, in spite of his anger, appeared to be rather worried that his master was running away. Without a sound, Hibari gave the massive turtle a light pat on his nose and then stepped around him to the ruined lockers. He of course knew each locker's owner and its contents -- he was only thorough. And therefore he knew each locker with a prima dona owner who would have a hair dryer.

Methodically, he gathered them and plugged in a good dozen blow dryers which he pointed at the turtle who was now only watching him quizzically. Hibari quirked a brow when he came across the contents of the locker of a certain member of the Vongola team. He made a note to dole out some punishment for keeping explosives in the locker room. But the black blow dryer with a skull crudely scrawled in silver marker was the last to be plugged in and he sat back to wait.

It was a good twenty minutes later that Hibari returned to the reception room where he knew Dino would be waiting for him in spite of his repeated warnings. Lightly petting Enzo's head (he was only about as large as a cat at this point), he handed Dino a slip of paper. "Bill," he explained shortly.

Dino took the slip of paper cheerfully and without looking at it, slipped it casually in the pocket of his coat. "I'll have it taken care of and the money in your account by tomorrow morning," he promised, beaming at the lazy reptile cradled in the prefect's arms. "Well then. Are you ready to go? Got your sunscreen?"

Hibari wasn't interested and the door snapped shut behind him as Dino finished his sentence, Enzo left on the couch in his master's care.

"He's so stubborn," Dino said. Enzo nodded. Dino sighed. "I suppose I'll have to tie him up again..."

He waited only a beat before gathering up his shelled friend and following Hibari from the room.

"Hey, Kyouya!" he called, just catching a glimpse of black hair as the prefect rounded the nearest corner. Ah, good, Romario was parked in that direction. "Tired already? We've hardly trained at all today! And I had something exciting planned too..."

"Training?" Hibari said suspiciously, offering the barest glance from the corner of his eye as Dino fell into pace with him.

Dino grinned, honestly surprised he hadn't yet taken a tonfa to the gut. "Of course it's training! Do we ever do anything that isn't training?" He reached out a hand to clap the boy's shoulder. "It's a great place to train! You'll see!"

"It had better be," Hibari gave in, closing his eyes briefly and allowing Dino to lead. "Or I'm going to bite you to death."

The drive was a short one and Hibari dozed in the backseat while Romario navigated. It seemed that Dino's sense of direction didn't improve much even in the presence of his most trusted subordinate, but Romario somehow kept them from getting lost. A quarter of an hour later and they were pulling into a nondescript parking lot a short distance from high brick walls and an elaborate sign that read "Namimori Zoo."

Hibari's eyes slit open when the vehicle came to a stop, his lazy but sharp gaze taking in the surroundings. "We had better be here to fight a bear. Or I'm going to feed you to one. And let it bite you to death."

Dino laughed again. "Oh Kyouya. You're such a riot. Bears are gentle creatures." He stepped out of the car and turned the keys over to Romario who was already holding the door open for Hibari. "I told you, it's training. Would I lie?"

"Yes," Hibari replied to his question but he followed nonetheless, casting a quick glance at Dino's suit-clad accomplice that told him he'd be the second to die.

Romario barely acknowledged the look -- after all, his trust in the boss was implicit. Still, when they entered the zoo, he hung back at a respectful distance, buying himself an ice cream cone while Dino pointed out the monkeys to the right and the llamas to the left and grinned like a school boy as he dragged Hibari deeper into the park.

"How is this training?" Hibari wondered, frowning as Dino pulled him by his arm. It wasn't that he was particularly concerned about the training itself -- he was in fine shape for whatever it was that Sawada's little predicament produced. But this promised to be painfully boring and annoying. And furthermore, technically, it was cutting class. Not that the rules actually applied to Hibari, but who knew what kind of mayhem might take place while he was absent from his Namimori.

"Today," Dino said, pausing to pull Hibari out of the way of a group of school children. "We focus on stealth and patience. You're very fast, Kyouya, and very strong, but you're also very loud and very impatient. Both of those things will get you killed in a real fight. Oo, look! Lemurs!"

"I'm not loud," Hibari protested, watching the children that milled, squealing and laughing (not dissimilar to Dino himself) in front of him. It was only their presence that kept him from shoving cold steel through the back of the blond's skull. It was, after all, important to be a good role model. It was then that the thought occurred to him that this was a place where children went. Where babies went. He would have to keep a sharp eye open.

Dino didn't seem to have heard the grumbled protest and anyway, he was already stepping past the throng of children, grinning and patting heads and nodding politely to their teacher as he went. "All right!" he declared, having joined Kyouya once more. "Since you expressed such an interest in seeing the bears, why don't we head there first!"

The dark haired boy didn't bother protesting or even giving an opinion. But he did pull his arm away when Dino tried to take it again. Instead he fell into step with the older boy, fingers at the ready for the moment when Dino stepped too far out of line.

It wasn't until they reached the bear enclosure that he showed any other inkling of response -- not until a sickeningly familiar, loud voice reached his ears and made the hair on the back of his neck stand on end. And sure enough, when they made their way through the crowd that had gathered in front of the exhibit, a certain infamous white-haired member of the Namimori High community had crossed the set boundaries. Complete with boxing gloves, he was shouting challenges across the rift that kept the bears securely in their enclosure.


One of the bears looked up at him and yawned.

It took all of eight seconds for Hibari to weave through the last of the crowd, jump the fence neatly and clock Ryouhei on the back of the head with a tonfa. He then dragged the stray idiot back into the crowd (which parted, horrified, before them) by the back of his collar.

"How dare you make such a scene while wearing the Namimori uniform," he said in his quietly seething way. He threw Ryouhei down on the concrete.

Meanwhile, Dino was already moving through the crowd, passing out apologies and reassurances and sheepish smiles. "No no, Ma'am. It's quite alright. They're old friends, see?" "Oh yes, the boy is quite alright. Full of energy, isn't he?" "Terribly sorry for disturbing your visit. Isn't the sky a lovely blue today?"

Ryouhei, for his part, hardly seemed to notice that he'd been hit and was struggling to regain his footing when he realized who stood over him. "OH! Hey Mr. Prefect! Are you here to fight the bears too? HEY! DOES THIS MEAN YOU'RE FINALLY READY TO JOIN THE BOXING CLUB? AWESOME!"

"I am NOT here to fight the bears. And I'm NOT going to join the boxing club," Hibari replied, his voice rising just a little as he delivered another blow, this time to Ryouhei's gut when the other boy tried to rush him in what appeared to be an attempt at a hug. "What are you doing here?"

"I was having an EXTREME NAP for like... A HUNDRED DAYS," Ryouhei explained, wheezing a little but otherwise unphazed by the hit to his stomach. And still grinning. "And when I woke up I HAD to fight something! Something like a BEAR!"

Somehow, the day had just gotten worse.

And it only continued to spiral downhill as Dino stepped up behind him and put an overly-friendly arm around his shoulders, nodding a greeting to the white-haired boxer. "I see you found a friend, Kyouya."

"He's not a friend. Don't be so familiar." But before Hibari could turn that friendly embrace into a painful twist of arm, Ryouhei was joining in on the comradery with his own arm. Making a very pissed off Hibari sandwich.

"Prefect-san is a kidder to the extreme!" Ryouhei laughed, offering a grin to the blond on Hibari's other side. "We're not friends -- we're more like PARTNERS! Sasegawa Ryouhei," he introduced himself with an offered handshake with his boxing glove.

Dino laughed pleasantly and extended his own hand, leaning forward to grasp the padded glove briefly and closing off Hibari's immediate escape path. "Ah! Vongola's Sun. Colonello's student, ne?"

"To the EXTREME!" Ryouhei confirmed, squeezing Hibari's neck in emphasis.

Dino was still smiling. "Ah! What are the chances of all of us ending up here today! I suppose it was simply too nice a day to waste anywhere else, hmm?"

There was a slight twitch in Hibari's neck. And then Ryouhei and Dino were crashing together in a violent meeting of skulls that left them in a pile on the concrete. Hibari dusted himself off and tucked away his tonfa as he stepped over them and didn't look back when he started walking.

After a moment, Ryouhei jumped up with a slightly crazed laugh. "I know exactly what you mean, Prefect-san! IT'S TIME TO FIND SOME EXTREMELY HUNGRY LIONS!!!" He ran after his schoolmate, small children darting fearfully out of his way.

Dino rubbed at his bruised skull as he stood, heaving just a little sigh as he followed after his wayward student and his EXTREMELY energetic school-friend. It took only a few seconds to catch up with Hibari though he noticed that the young prefect's determined path was carrying them closer and closer to the park's exit. Ryouhei was so engaged in his descriptions of extreme animal attacks that he didn't seem to notice.

"You know... I seem to recall my little brother expressing an interest in returning to the zoo sometime soon. I wonder if Reborn will be gracious enough to bring him today..."

A quick, shifty glance was tossed Dino's way and Hibari's mouth twitched faintly. "Perhaps. And perhaps I can get a new tutor if he does," he said, as easily as Hibari's voice ever came. Sharply, he veered to the left.

"OHOHO!" Ryouhei crowed, hurrying to keep pace with him and only stumbling a little as he turned. "Training! So you really are here to fight extremely ferocious animals!"

Luckily, due to Romario's close but quiet trailing, Dino had no upsetting mishaps as he fell into step with Hibari, casting only a brief glance at their white-haired shadow before answering. "Actually today we're here to practice stealth and patience." He looked at Hibari as he spoke, seemed to be ignoring the casual threat in the prefects words and body language. He smiled, then glanced toward Ryouhei. "And where is your tutor?"

"Aahaha!" Ryouhei laughed, lifting a boxing glove to the back of his head a little sheepishly. "He's probably still POWER NAPPING on the hill," he explained. "OH MY GOD -- RHINOS!!!"

Hibari had been about to use that moment to turn away as Ryouhei raced for the new animals, but the white-haired boy had grabbed his arm and suddenly he was being dragged with the boxing monster. When they came to a screeching stop in front of the enclosure, Hibari punched him across the jaw without even glancing at him and settled, leaning on the fence with as much boredom as the rhinos themselves displayed.

Ryouhei rubbed idly at his jaw, but his eyes were glued on the enclosure before him and the large grey animals that, for all their fierce looking horns, seemed to Dino to be about as extreme as city squirrels.

"LOOK at them!" the boxer cried, spreading his arms wide as though to conduct an invisible orchestra, or maybe to hug the air in his joy. "You know, Mr. Prefect. I think you're a lot like a rhino."

Dino raised a brow and settled against the fence beside Hibari. He'd been about to politely excuse them both to return to their 'training', but he caught himself with Ryouhei's bold --and bizarre-- statement. This, he had to hear.

Hibari still didn't bother looking at him but it didn't deter Ryouhei's tirade. "Because -- you know -- you're both EXTREMELY STRONG. And EXTREMELY INTIMIDATING. And EXTREMELY IMPALING!" He grinned wildly, making stabbing motions into the air in a very poor imitation of the prefect's tonfa. "Have you thought about the boxing club yet?!" he demanded, suddenly grabbing Hibari's shoulders to force him to make eye contact.

The prefect easily kicked Ryouhei's feet out from under him at the ankles and walked away toward the aviary.

Dino winced a little as he stepped past the downed boy, who, moments later was mostly upright again, and shouting after Hibari, though his eyes appeared to be vaguely unfocused and he seemed intent on examining something invisible off to his left. "GREAT! SO! I'll see you in school! WE'LL FIT YOU FOR BOXING GLOVES AFTER YOU MEET THE REST OF THE TEAM!"

"So..." Dino was saying, already ignoring the fading shouts behind them. "You like this guy, Sasegawa, hmm?" Ever casual, hands in his pockets, eyes on the aviary ahead.

"What?" Hibari said, the surprise in his voice perhaps the most emotion Dino had seen him display, particularly when he actually turned his gaze over at Dino. "What kind of simpleton are you?"

"None at all," Dino replied. "Only observant. For all your usual violence, the lack of verbal insults seemed... hm.. telling?" Before Hibari could answer, he held up both hands apologetically. "Not that it's my place to pry into your affairs of course! Just so long as they don't affect your training." Dino smiled.

The Hibari Is Not Amused face was a very powerful one, particularly at that moment. But for some reason instead of hitting the smile off of Dino's face with his tonfa, he said, cool and calm and even, "That white haired monkey isn't worth my breath." And then as they walked, sneakily his tonfa hit the back of Dino's knee, catching a tendon in just such a way that it sent him tripping forward.

"Oof!" Dino stumbled, barely managing to maintain his feet as he propelled forward. Still, somehow, his wrist shot backward, slinging the end of his previously-concealed whip so that it wrapped around one of Hibari's ankles. He let the weight of his forward-falling body drag Hibari down. "Patience," Dino grinned, even as he slammed his knee against a nearby bench. "And stealth. Ow."

Hibari let his knee fold, dropping to the other to prevent him from falling further. Then twisting around, he extended the trapped ankle in front of him so that he was facing Dino again. Tonfa lashed out, catching the whip and forcing it to wrap a few times so that he could yank Dino forward. "Right here? In a public place?" he wondered. There was something in the corner of his eye that almost -- almost looked like it was the beginning of a smile.

Even as the knee of his jeans caught and tore on the corner of the bench, Dino reflected that there would be time to mourn the ruin of his clothes later and twisted quickly to avoid landing on his back as Hibari yanked him closer. Instead he landed on all fours, hair in disarray and eyes alight with mirth and maybe just a little something else. "Of course, Kyouya. What better place to practice stealth than in a public place?"

"Oh my! Such ruffians!" a passing woman exclaimed, herding her two small children away from their path. "Your mothers aught to be ashamed!"

The prefect watched her with narrowed eyes as she bustled away, though Dino wasn't sure if it was because he agreed or because he resented. Then with a flick of his tonfa and a kick of his ankle, he freed himself and nonchalantly stood and brushed clean his pressed slacks. "Don't make a scene," he warned with a Look for Dino as he started walking again.

He waited until they were once more in step and then, as they turned a corner, his tonfa was subtle but ready, aimed so that Dino walked right into it when he paused suddenly and immediately kept walking as though he hadn't noticed.

Dino bobbed comically as he took the blow in stride and smirked as he dropped back a quick half-step. He snapped only the very tip of his whip into the small of Hibari's back and continued toward the aviary. "Don't make a scene," he quipped, tossing Hibari's own words back at him with a wink. "Oh look! We're here." The entrance to the aviary rose just a few steps away.

Hibari's lips thinned with the sting that he felt along his spine which would have made him stand straighter if his posture wasn't already impeccable. As it was, he stepped through the door and made sure that when they continued through the plastic flaps intended to keep the wildlife in, Dino got a nice slap in the face with one of them. An accident, of course.

The attendance was low since it was early in the day on a weekday and the aviary was empty of patrons. As they entered the warm, humid building, lush with tropical foliage, Hibari was the master of disinterest. But slowly he meandered, glancing around at the brightly colored birds that speckled the atmosphere. He imagined that his fluffy yellow companion would be concerned with his sudden disappearance but knew that the little animal could take care of himself.

Presently, the dark haired boy appeared to have forgotten Dino's presence at all as he stood perfectly still, regarding a tiny red bird that was perched on the railing a few feet from him. It hopped just a little closer, watching him carefully.

"Quiet and patient, waiting for the right moment. Blending in with your environment," Dino whispered, his mouth, the warmth of his breath suddenly close, his hand lightly, barely on the curve of Hibari's back. A pause. "And don't kill anything today, please?"

From the corner of his eye, Hibari gave him a look that conveyed an inkling of annoyance but he didn't push Dino away. Instead it was with the smoothest, gentlest motion that he reached under his jacket, fingers dipping in to the lined pocket. When he moved again, there was a sample of the seed he kept there for his own familiar. So steady, slowly, he offered his open palm to the little bird which cocked its head at him. Carefully, it hopped forward until it could hop into his hand where it busied itself with the seed, red feathers fluffing happily. The tiniest smile curved the very corners of Hibari's lips as he watched.

"That's cheating," Dino breathed, but there wasn't anything in his voice that said he particularly cared. It had been a flimsy excuse to drag the pale boy out for a relaxing morning anyway. Then, with the skill of a master pickpocket, he reached around Hibari's waist, helping himself to a handful of seeds and, never disturbing the small creature already come to roost, sprinkled his handful over Hibari's shoulders and into his hair.

The bird in his hand chirped once and suddenly the flutter of wings filled the air and Hibari froze, stiff as a board as birds appeared seemingly from nowhere, from the ceiling, from the foliage, from behind the railing. And just as suddenly, they were all over him. Clinging to his arms and the back of his jacket and on top of his head and his shoulders, chirping and squawking and flapping. Hibari stood stock-still, eyes uncharacteristically wide for a moment before they narrowed dangerously at Dino. "I'm going to bite you to death."

Dino looked around innocently as though there might be some other blond Italian to whom Hibari spoke. "But Kyouya, I thought you liked birds." A beat. "They certainly seem to like you!"

Hibari glared at him but in spite of his protest, he didn't shake or scare his guests away although he did scowl a bit as a lorikeet started tugging at bits of his hair. Instead, he allowed them to eat and pick lightly while he cast deathly glances at his human company. And then after a few minutes, he gave a small, strangely dignified shake and the birds scattered, taking wing and returning to their roosts. Another shake of his head freed the pieces of seed and shell that clung to raven locks. Only the little crimson bird remained, chirping softly from his extended finger and Hibari regarded it for a moment, letting it speak sweetly at him before he gently guided it back to the railing where it hopped away.

With lightning speed, that slow, gentle nature melted away and Hibari reeled and surged and Dino was slammed and trapped against the railing with a tonfa held to his throat. Hibari's weight pinned him tight, surprising since the boy was both smaller and slighter in build than himself, but Hibari always had defied that supposed handicap. As it was, he peered into Dino's blue eyes with his own narrowed gaze. "I should push you in," he said, words pointing out the rather mucky pond that lay just behind the railing. It would be easy enough to shove him over.

For his part, Dino seemed singularly unconcerned. His eyes weren't even on Hibari's, but roaming, over his just slightly disheveled hair and the grain or two of birdseed still clinging there, the way Hibari's cheeks were just barely, almost a little pink with something... irritation and maybe anticipation of a fight? Mostly he noticed how the young prefect threatened bodily harm yet hesitated to carry it out. "Ah," Dino agreed, nodding. "But then, when we fought later, you might get your school uniform muddy."

"I'd much rather push you into the crocodile pond anyway," Hibari said with the faintest curl of his lips. "I'm through with your foolish 'exercise'. Take me back to the school for a proper round." He wasn't about to flat out fight in the zoo -- he wouldn't tarnish the Namimori High name that way.

Dino said nothing, but slowly lifted his hands past the threat of Hibari's weapons to grab hold of the prefect's immaculate white shirt. "I don't feel like it," he grinned, close enough to lay his cheek, lazily, against the cool metal of a tonfa. His fingers were almost at Hibari's throat. "I'm hungry now."

"Base," Hibari accused, pressing the polished metal into Dino's cheek. His gaze was intense, meeting Dino's eyes with his hard stare but somehow he didn't knock away the hand that mussed his perfect appearance.

"Mm," Dino hummed in reply, neither an argument nor an affirmation. "You have to get used to it... fighting someone who isn't afraid of you." Dino turned his head, just enough so that his lips barely brushed cold metal. "Whether or not your fearsome reputation proceeds you, a true hardened mafioso will hardly care." His fingers touched Hibari's throat, grazing across the soft spot beneath his chin. "You might inspire fear in a handful of middle-schoolers now, but you'll have to start over in the real world if you want grown men to quiver at the mention of your name."

"I don't care," Hibari replied evenly, still staring into Dino's brown eyes, unwavering. "Reputation is a matter of pride, not strength nor skill. Whether they tremble or stand confident, they'll still be bitten to death." He leaned in closer as he spoke, slow and sure until he was just a breath a way and his words tickled across Dino's lips. "Just. Like. You."

Dino smiled. "It's easy to say the words, but no small challenge to keep the promise. Kyouya." Dino's voice was a murmur, his eyes were strong and nothing about Hibari's proximity intimidated him. His fingers were slowly, gently choking the smaller boy. "I'm still waiting for your teeth to break my skin."

Hibari frowned just the faintest and tilted his chin so slightly, peering down his nose and exposing his throat just a little. Unafraid even as fingers threatened to cut off his breath. Dino didn't think he would do it. So he did. It was such a slight, quick movement and he bit -- caught the other boy's lower lip between his teeth for just a heartbeat and nipped -- hard -- no allowance that might mean an embarrassing failure if blood weren't to trickle. But when he darted back after half a breath, he was rewarded with the taste of copper when his tongue tested an eye tooth and he was no less calm for the other boy's blood in his mouth. He started to step back, satisfied, but made the mistake of meeting Dino's eyes for just a moment.

In the time it took to share a blink, Dino had surged away from the railing, fingers of one hand reaching for the back of Hibari's head, holding him firm by lank black hair. In his other hand had appeared the whip, and its leather coils pressed tight against Hibari's throat. As the prefect watched, Dino licked the trickling blood from his shallow wound, slowly, as though savoring an expensive wine.

"Don't start what you aren't prepared to finish, Kyouya. One bite is hardly enough to leave me dead. In fact, I feel quite alive at the moment." He laughed, but the sound wasn't quite the same as his usual light-hearted mirth.

Hibari frowned at him, unimpressed even as he let the strings that hung at Dino's throat from his signature coat slide through his fingers. "This is hardly the place for biting," he replied. "Besides." A tiny, sour sort of smile. "You like it too much." And then came the tonfa again, smarting and bruising when one knocked away his gripping hand with a smack to his wrist that allowed Hibari to dart back a few steps.

Dino let him go, laughing more easily and rubbing at his hand, his whip back on the loop at his belt. "Ouch," he said, cheerfully. He didn't bother denying Hibari's accusation, but put his hands in his pockets and stepped away from the railing, walking past Hibari as though he hardly noticed him standing there ready to strike again. "My my, is it lunch time already?"

The younger boy's mouth tightened a little as Dino brushed past him. He changed gears too quickly and it grated. But if he got it over with and ate his sickening carnival lunch food, maybe they could then get some actual training in before the day was through. So only giving in a little, he turned to follow. And promptly walked directly into Dino's smiling mouth in what, unfortunately, must have appeared very much like a kiss. It didn't help matters to find that the blond man's hand had taken both his wrists with a playful tug.

Hibari froze, not dissimilar to the moment that he'd been attacked by the birds. When he took in a tiny, angered breath, he could taste Dino's blood. He said nothing, only looking into Dino's self-satisfied face with their lips touching just so and a long moment passed without struggle. And then so slowly, Hibari's eyes hooded and his lips eased and he pressed in, forcing what Dino only dared to suggest and play at.

Though Dino had made the first move, it was also he who blinked in mild surprise at Hibari's response. He hadn't, apparently, expected to step away from the encounter with all limbs intact, let alone...

He dropped Hibari's hands and took hold of his face, fingers cradling the boy's jaw with barely restrained force as his pretense of play faded. Dino could taste his own blood on Hibari's tongue and it was far sweeter than he'd imagined.

The force that met Dino's mouth could only be described as predatory, hesitation quickly fading as Hibari's freed hands twisted in the front of his shirt, gripping and pulling. He attacked as though this were the roof of Namimori and his tongue lashed, pushing deep and wet into Dino's mouth, lapping copper and earth from lips and tongue. Hibari growled quietly into his mouth, bit at his lips until he felt blood well again from the abused flesh. His weight pushed against the taller boy, making him give up a few steps.

Dino graciously offered those steps, then braced himself against Hibari's slight, but firm mass, straightening his shoulders and digging his fingers into the boy's hair so that Hibari had to stretch upward to reach his mouth, to continue drawing the blood from his injured mouth. His long, pale neck extended in such a delicious arch that Dino ached to wind his whip around it, but managed to restrain the urge by biting back, returning Hibari's growl with a rumble of appreciation. A bad idea... was the thought that rose to the back of his mind. A very, very bad idea. Then again, he had never been much of a strategist.

For all his protests of fighting in public, at this Hibari was brazen and he let himself press against Dino. But his ears were sharp for the creak of the aviary door even over the chirp and call of the birds. Tonfa forgotten, arms slid around his neck and hands slid into wild blond hair and Hibari hung from his lips, chin tilted so sharply. He sighed as Dino bit him back and gained another step or two with his own foot between Dino's. And when he felt his thighs bump the opposite railing, Hibari pushed him to sit against it before he could protest and one thigh slid between Dino's own. Nearly in his senior's lap, thigh pressed tight between Dino's, he grabbed for the blond's collar to demand another rough kiss.

That kiss Dino was only too happy to give, and he took it deep and rough and though he knew his lips would end up swollen and bloody, he hardly cared, not with Kyouya hanging from his neck like a schoolgirl (only not like a schoolgirl at at all for which he was honestly grateful), not with reluctance and irritation turned to hunger and demand. His fingers left Hibari's hair to circle his deceptively slight waist and in between the battle of tongues, Dino managed a breathy groan, "Kyouya..."

Hibari's kiss grew softer then, instead savoring the heat and the quickness in Dino's breath. Hands traveled slowly from his shoulders, down his arms to wrists, taking the hands from his waist to instead thread their fingers together lightly. His tongue lapped a few times, almost apologetically at the angry split in Dino's lip and then he was looking into the other boy's eyes, breathing against each other in a tense, hot moment. And then Hibari smiled. And pushed. The pond on this side of the path was slightly less muddy.

The prefect wiped his mouth as he stepped away and walked toward the door. A family was entering and he held the door for them politely. "Please be cautious. There's a very clumsy person inside," he warned.

Though confused by the warning, the family nodded their thanks and once inside, politely averted their eyes from the large, dark-haired Italian man pulling a slighter, blond boy to his feet, dripping with pond scum and plant life. A small crimson bird chirruped nearby with what sounded suspiciously like laughter.

Dino, himself, was chuckling quietly, swiping water from his face and blood from his mouth. Romario raised a questioning brow as he took Dino's soaking jacket and exchanged it for his own, draping it affectionately over his boss's shoulders.

The young blond shook his head lightly as he swatted uselessly at his damp khakis. "I fear I let my guard down for just a moment, Romario," he lamented. "The boy has a natural, if unpolished, talent."

"Indeed. Shall I get the car?"

Dino nodded. "Please. I'll just grab a bite and be out front in a few."

"Will Master Hibari be needing a ride as well?"

Another quiet laugh and Dino shrugged jovially as he headed toward the exit. "We'll see."

Outside of Dino's company, Hibari's step slowed and he veered away from the aviary in the opposite direction that they'd come. He meandered toward the smaller enclosures, unconcerned until he noticed a drop of blood on his perfectly immaculate shirt. He frowned faintly at it as though it were the first time the Italian fool's blood had sullied him. He could still taste it on his lips.

In the meantime, Dino made a valiant attempt to find the nearest food stand, but without Romario's quiet company, every little action seemed difficult. While trying to navigate the zoo's map, he managed to walk headlong into a sign post, rip the map in two and fall into the zebra enclosure. He tore his shirt climbing out.

It didn't, he supposed, help much that instead of thinking about which foot to put forward and which low stone bridge to duck under, he was thinking of Kyouya's sharp eyes, his small angry mouth and the smile he'd offered just before pushing him into the pond.


He hoped he wouldn't have to pay for that...

On the other hand, it almost seemed like the day was going to take a pleasant turn for Hibari -- really, the zoo wasn't so bad when he was comfortably alone. But then he saw the crowd parting and heard familiar shrieking... and then the monster reappeared, yammering like an idiot as he ran down the path. And following was an equally yammering peacock, flapping and fanning wildly after him. Hibari sighed as Dino ran past him, then stepped in front of the peacock which screeched to a stop in front of him. He shooed it once. "Go." The peacock fluttered angrily at him but darted back the way it had come. He turned to Dino with a scowl. "It's been ten minutes," he pointed out. Dino was in an impressive state of disarray.

Dino grinned. "I know!" he said, clearly ignoring Hibari's point. "I'm starving!" He placed a hand on Hibari's shoulder under the pretense of fixing his shoe, --which somehow had collected a sizable number of pebbles-- but even after he'd replaced the scuffed sneaker, his hand remained. "Lunch?" he suggested cheerfully. He didn't seem to notice the angry red mark on his forehead or that both his knees were scraped, the fabric torn.

Hibari wasn't sure he wanted to be seen with the idiot in public, given his state but he also didn't really want to walk back to the school. Waste of time. So he pointed at the food stand that was just across the walkway. Hopefully this could be done quick and reletively painless.

Dino moved toward the stand, tripped twice, caught himself on a rather unamused teenaged girl and finally turned back toward Hibari with an embarressed laugh. "On second thought, how do you feel about take-out?" He wasn't sure why, but suddenly, the thought of having Romario stop for something quick on the drive back sounded like a fantastic idea. "More time for training that way," he added.

The prefect's perpetually unimpressed eyes looked at him and closed briefly.

When they started to walk, got a hundred feet and Dino laid himself flat again, Hibari was sure that he could feel a tic forming behind his eye. Dino stood and brushed himself off, as usual laughing it off easily. Inwardly disgusted, he took Dino's arm at his elbow, yanking

him close to guide as they walked. It wasn't much better than him falling every two minutes but at least outwardly, with the blond such a mess, he appeared only as a kind prefect assisting an injured and wayward teen. The only difference being that he was leading said teen ultimately to slaughter.

Nevertheless, as their steps took them out of the zoo and up to the car that Romario already had waiting for them, Dino seemed to cheer significantly, first gracefully holding the door open for Hibari and then tapping out a jaunty rhythm on the hood of the vehicle as he crossed to the other side and let himself into the back seat.

"What do you like?" he asked, buckling himself in as Romario started the engine. "Any favorite stops?"

"Don't care," Hibari replied disinterestedly, his arms crossed lightly over his chest. Food wasn't a concern -- he wanted to get back to his school. If the students realized that he was absent, disaster and riot were likely to occur.

"Beef bowls it is!"

Instructions given to Romario and the car under way, a touch of a button let the tinted glass divider slide shut between driver and passengers. A long, mildly awkward silence began, broken only by the shift of fabric against leather and once, Dino's stomach giving a quiet rumble.

Hibari closed his eyes, feigning sleep to avoid the other's fidgety attention. He imagined Dino wasn't particularly comfortable -- especially when he was still soaked to his undergarments. That thought made a tiny smirk tug at the corners of the prefect's mouth, unbidden.

"So it is possible to amuse you," Dino murmured, a half-smile of his own coloring his lazy expression.

The dark haired boy schooled his mouth into at least less of a smirk, opening one eye to peer at Dino. "I was just thinking about your face when you fell in," he explained, shrugged.

Dino met his glance, unphased. "And I was talking about your face when I kissed you."

Hibari paused, his expression souring just the tiniest bit before it cleared again, confident and cool. "You didn't kiss me." He hadn't, really. All he'd done was let Hibari walk into him.

"Forgive me," Dino shrugged. "What I meant to say was 'when you kissed me'." The young Italian was only a little surprised that Hibari was evading his point by bringing up technicalities.

"Hn," was Hibari's reply. "Your Japanese is poor." As though the conversation was over, he turned to the window, propping his chin on a hand.

"Ah, what you say is true, my dear student, yet the truth remains the same. It is, in fact, quite possible to make the hard-hearted Kyouya smile."

Dino's Italian was melodic, smooth and graceful as the man himself was often not. He reached across the seat with one hand, mimicked the motion of cradling Hibari's cheek, though he never let his fingers touch. He knew Hibari wouldn't understand him and it was perhaps, for this reason that he let himself say such things. With his native tongue spilling so comfortably, effortlessly from his lips, his eyes hooded and emotive, Dino seemed almost a different person.

"Besides which, Japanese is a poor tongue for expressing affection, as cold and formal as you pretend to be, Kyouya."

Hibari's eyes turned from the window, drawn back to his foreign companion, something akin to an inkling of alarm in his eyes as he watched Dino's mouth. Heard his name -- the name that the idiot shouldn't have been using in the first place -- peppered in with the language that spilled far more naturally from Dino's tongue than Japanese. "Don't do that," Hibari said, his jaw tightening.

But Dino only smiled, stroked the air between them again as though tracing Hibari's sillouhette. "Is it possible?" he continued, voice quieter now, as though he were speaking to himself, his own thoughts aloud, "Is it possible that there exists something to make the boy uncomfortable as well? Does self-doubt exist in the world of Hibari... Kyouya?" Though the name was Japanese, Dino spoke it like it was Italian, blending the syllables with near seamless fluency into the rest of the sentence, handled each sound with a delicacy Hibari hadn't ever thought the man capable of.

The younger boy glared at him -- he didn't like Dino speaking his name without the knowledge of what words it mingled with. He didn't like how it rolled from Dino's lips in such a way that he'd never heard and he didn't like the silky smoothness of the blond's voice, caressing his name, caressing his ears. He snatched for Dino's wrist, halting the wistful motion. "Stop it."

Dino didn't struggle, didn't pull away. He let Hibari hold his hand still, found and held the boy's dark eyes in turn. "Why?" he asked, and that much, at least, Hibari could guess at the meaning behind the single Italian word.

Hibari's eyes were hard, almost challenging. "You have no right to say my name that way," he said as his answer. Like a bad foreign movie. Like a stupid romance novel. Like a lover.

Dino tilted his head, blinked slowly as though he didn't understand. But Hibari kept staring, firm and maybe even angry. Not annoyed, irritated, not bored, but truly angry. Dino lowered his hand, the weight of his arm pulling his wrist free from the boy's grip. "Ah.. sou..." He bowed his head once, in proper Japanese ettiquitte and then leaned forward to slide the divider open. "Romario. Circle around for a bit, would you? Grazie." When the window was closed once more, Dino turned back to his reluctant passenger, smiled, and backhanded the scowling boy across the mouth.

The Japanese boy was genuinely caught off guard and the blow hit him hard, a hand snapping out to steady himself on the back of the front seat. Then he was bristling, reaching for his tonfa -- never mind the cramped space, never mind the moving vehicle -- Dino was going to die.

Dino was still smiling, but the expression wasn't cheerful or friendly. He was dangerous, and strong and if he'd had fangs, he would have been showing them. "I've been more than patient," Dino explained, grabbing for and taking hold of Hibari's wrist, twisting it until the boy was forced to drop his weapon to the car's floor. "I've humored your quirks and your preferences, your every mood -- not that you have many. And I've taken time out of my own personal --and believe me, very busy-- schedule to tutor you, to make you stronger." A knee pressed hard into the curve of Hibari's hip, pinning him to the seat. "So that when you meet the Varia, you'll live longer than half a minute." He was close now, teeth bared inches from Hibari's face. "Whether you want to believe it or not, your life is in my hands and you will respect me if I have to beat you within inches of death myself. And, Kyouya, as your teacher, I will call you whatever I please."

Angrily, Hibari wrenched, pain shooting through his arm from that tight grip on his wrist. "Get off," he spat, cut off when Dino pushed him hard and he hit the door, trapped between his 'tutor' and that surface. For a moment it was raw surprise on his face, staring into that dangerous expression that had replaced the normal philanthropic smile. "I never asked for your help," he seethed, harshness returning as he leaned up and against Dino's hold.

Dino pulled him up and slammed him back, knocking his head against tinted glass, fingernails digging deep between the tendons of each wrist. "And that's what makes you weak. That you would die rather than admit that there are other people who know more than you, who've seen real life and can teach you a thing or two about surviving it. You're pathetic and coddled. Locked up tight in your little school where you control everyone and everything is comfortable and familiar and safe. Grow the fuck up, Kyouya."

Hibari was breathing hard, eyes wide and angry as he stared into Dino's face, legs tangled and skin heated with fury and proximity. For a long moment he was silent and his chest was tight with anger and his wrists burned in Dino's grip. "You don't know me," he finally hissed, twisted again in the larger boy's hold.

But Dino held him firm, unwavering. "Then prove me wrong. Prove to me that you give a shit about becoming -more- than you are now."

"I DO!" Hibari finally snarled at him, voice rising louder than Dino had ever heard it. "I will, with or without you!"

The car fell quiet then, no sound or movement except the rise and fall of Hibari's chest and the rasp of his breath. And then, "Good," and Dino wasn't smiling, but he wasn't yelling either. "I believe you." But he didn't draw back, didn't let the boy go. "But the only way you'll be strong enough in five days is if you tough it out and train with me. I don't care how much you loathe me or my methods, and if you're smart, you won't let your personal opinion of me influence your decision."

"Fine," the smaller boy snapped. His heart was pounding in his ears -- he hated that Dino seemed to have some ability that no one else had to get him worked up like this. And worse, he was still there, on top of him, holding him, hurting him and Hibari's eyes were stormy.

"Kyo--" Dino began, but before the name could leave his lips, he was silencing himself with Hibari's angrily pouting mouth, pulling the boy's lip between his teeth, sucking hard enough to bruise, dizzy with sudden heat and unable to quell the growl that passed between them, laced with a groan so shameless that he had to stop, had to wonder how Kyouya could possibly get under his skin so suddenly and easily.

Heat was quick to gather in the proximity they shared and the leather squeaked as Hibari dragged the larger boy against him and pulled his hair. A quiet groan was mumbled between Dino's lips -- it was so carnal and raw that he could barely stand it but craved it and demanded more. Dino was a monster and he murmured his hate into the other's mouth, loathing him only more when his body arched into the pressure imposed upon it.

Dino was respectful enough to avoid ripping off Hibari's buttons when he tugged at his uniform shirt, but once he'd yanked Hibari's tie loose, and undone half the buttons, he got impatient and pushed the fabric up and out of the way. Still holding the boy's tie in one hand, he tore himself away from Hibari's mouth and shifted his attention to the pale skin he'd revealed. Tongue and teeth were as hungry and ruthless here as they'd been to the boy's lips and Dino wasted little time in finding and claiming one flushed nipple.

Hibari's lips parted with an almost silent sound, a gasp and hands clawed at Dino's back, nails digging hard through thin t-shirt fabric. "Pervert," Hibari panted quietly but the flush spread down his throat as though chasing the other's attention. Knees hooked behind Dino's, leverage as hips pressed up, disdain as slacks were dampened by wet khaki but blessed friction was secretly worth it.

Dino panted quietly, pulled away from Hibari's chest to slide back up the boy's lithe body, tiny biting kisses marked a trail up his throat until he was pressing his forehead against Hibari's, breath hot and eyes hazy. Everything was better than he'd hoped and Kyouya's response was encouraging, perfect, dizzying. He could hardly see straight...

"OOF!" was the undignified sound that burst from Hibari's lips when Dino's full weight suddenly fell against him, completely dead weight. "What are you doing!?" the younger boy snarled, a hand scrambling to keep them on the seat as Dino's weight threatened to drag them down. Yanking at Dino's hair, Hibari discovered that he had actually fainted. His dislike of the Italian had just reached new heights.

The sudden shout and knock on the back of his seat alerted Romario and the car suddenly swerved and jerked to a stop and Hibari had virtually no power as this time, they actually did fall from the slick leather seat and ended up in a tangled, wedged heap of limbs and rumpled, wet fabric on the floor of the car.

It was at that particularly awkward moment that the window divider slid open and Romario peered through, a slightly raised brow his only reaction to the scene laid out before him. Then he was reaching through the window and casually handing Hibari a bar of chocolate. "He told you he was hungry, didn't he?" the older man said, his tone of voice vaguely chastising. "Take it," he said, shaking the candy at Hibari. "Make him eat it." Then he sighed, but the sound was unmistakably affectionate as he turned back to the front. "That boy never takes care of himself..."

Hibari glared at the other boy's stupid, unconscious face for a moment before he started slapping it. "Oi. Get off. Oi." He scowled. And then slapped HARD.

"Ah--" Dino flinched and jerked upward so suddenly that he managed to clip Hibari's chin with the top of his head, a rather painful moment for both involved though not quite as painful as the attempt to extricate himself from the tangle of limbs that trapped them on the floor of the car behind the passenger seat. "Ah-- sorry, sorry..."

There was murder in Hibari's eyes when he shoved Dino away. They finally got all their body parts sorted out and managed to climb back into their respective seats. It took every ounce of his self-control to thrust the chocolate bar under his nose instead of shoving it in his eye.

Dino glanced at the boy from the corner of his eye, let a moment pass before lifting a hand to circle Hibari's wrist, then slowly tear back the wrapper and guide the candy to his mouth. He took a small bite and chewed carefully, never letting his grip loosen. Once he'd swallowed, he turned back to Hibari, smiling calmly. "My apologies, Kyouya. Gomen."

Hibari's glare had softened only a little. His name with that silky Italian accent wasn't as grating this time. But still, he pried his fingers away so that he could straighten his tie and tuck in his shirt and smooth his hair. "This is no time for recreation," he murmured at length, looking ahead. "Five days."

"Yes," Dino said, not bothering to hide the note of satisfaction in his voice. "Just five days to make you the best damned fighter the Vongola have seen." He grinned openly now. "If you think you made Tsuna's friends shit their pants the first time you met, wait until the next time they see you." He was only bragging a little. "Five days, Kyouya. And five nights."

A glance. "Cocky," he said, either choosing to ignore or not noticing the tone in Dino's last words.

Dino raised a brow. "Do you disagree?"

"No," Hibari replied simply and folded his arms over his chest, closing his eyes with finality. "I just felt like insulting you."

At this Dino laughed out loud, shaking his head so that his mess of blond hair fell about his face and he swept it back casually with one hand. "Oh, Kyouya. Always so reliable."

"The way you said my name before..." He ignored Dino's laughter, frowning faintly into the darkness behind his eyelids. It wasn't the same way he said it now, the way he'd made it flow in with his Italian and made it sound like something sensual and familiar, made it his own. "You can't just say it like that. You have to earn it."

When Hibari spoke, Dino fell quiet, watching him with an intensity that might have been uncomfortable had Hibari met his eyes. But he nodded, slowly, understanding despite his earlier violent outburst. "And if it takes me more than five days?"

Hibari just shrugged noncommittally.

From Kyouya, it was as good as a promise.