Six ficlets in one because they're all rather shorts. Written for prompts given by LJ friends.
Warnings: Angst, fluff, crack, fem!Hibari in the second one. No real spoilers though.
Format: (Title, prompt, word count)
(Perfect is a World that Thrives in Silence, wife, 514 words)
Dino wasn't sure since when his men had begun to call Kyouya the boss's wife.
He had noticed, of course. The fact that he was thirty and near monogamous didn't escape him, just as many encounters behind closed doors didn't escape the notice of his unfailing subordinates. There had been others in times clinging to the former past, beautiful opera singers and daughters of family friends, even male business associates every now and then, but the fact remained that only one person had ever invaded his bed in the master bedroom of the Cavallone mansion – and the little details of this particular person's gender and position escaped neither him nor them.
It was a joke as much as a warning. They accepted Kyouya, first as his unwilling protégé, and then as his sometimes lover. They laughed at Kyouya's antics and the way they kept him on his toes – or leash, as Romario had remarked dryly after being sent away to buy certain brand of green tea. They smiled when he smiled, because whatever made the boss happy, made them happy.
It wasn't long, however, for his closest subordinates to notice the light that dawned upon his face at the mere mentioning of Kyouya's name. Romario started dropping hints at every corner, not to mention sneaking an eligible lady's name between two words of mundane comment whenever the opportunity arose. Dino met each and every one with first awkward, then practiced ease that brought a grim smile to Romario's lips. Cavallone was his life. Kyouya was the hand which shaped that life.
The boss's wife.
He smiled at the thought. In a perfect world, Kyouya would be a woman, a girl whom he would have married as soon as he, she turned eighteen. They would have a blissful, if somewhat violent marriage life, and Kyouya would be the most beautiful, the most dangerous, the most powerful queen to his Cavallone's throne. There wouldn't be any cryptic inquiry about heirs and bloodline because they would have two sons and two daughters and Dino would find himself the most doting father and loving husband. Perfect, perfect world.
But Kyouya wouldn't be Kyouya if he were less in any way than he was, so maybe it wasn't that perfect after all.
"I'm glad you're not a woman," he said through the thick of oncoming sleep. Kyouya felt warm in his arms and there was no soft curve about his waist and he thought it was perfect.
"What nonsense are you sprouting now?" The rebuke was half-heartedly given, but the nails on the back of his hand were sharp enough.
"A heartfelt confession," Dino admitted. Truth, he reflected, always had a bitter taste that left burning marks on his tongue, but this one did not. "I'm the luckiest man in the world."
Kyouya didn't respond. He might have fallen asleep, but Dino liked to think that it was something else. Things unsaid were sweet, like a tragedy writ upon parchment and recounted in songs, verse by verse, adored by wide-eyed maidens who dreamt of true love.
Silence was golden.
(Women of the Swords, the merits of being a mafia wife, 974 words)
"Perhaps she thinks she is above us all."
"Blasphemous, it is what this attitude is."
"You should speak with her, Kyoko, and remind her of her place."
"To arrive late in a tea party hosted by the Vongola Tenth's wife..."
The murmurs of discontent died down with the arrival of the subject in person. Kyoko hid a smile behind her cup of tea, eyes like so many others following the sweep of black silk and red obi, golden threads that embroidered wings and more subdued green that outlined willows in spring. Hibari Kyouya, now the distinguished wife of the Tenth Cavallone, knew how to make an entrance nearly as well as how to make men beg for mercy.
Kyoko had the grace to blush at that particular thought. She took a moment to regret her choice not to don a kimono herself, but quickly dismissed it as mere sentimentality. A summer dress was a sensible choice, given her company and the nature of the party. It swished lightly to follow her motion when she excused herself to greet her new guest who had seated herself at a corner table.
"I'm glad you can come, Kyouya-san." Pleasantries came easily to her, particularly on good days. Her thought briefly touched the source of her happiness and she smiled, Tsuna's reaction clear in her imagination.
"Of course I wouldn't miss your party, Sawada-san," Kyouya replied, her tone lingering in the ambiguous height which was neither compliment nor sarcasm. Kyoko allowed herself a small laugh, partly out of relief.
"I think it is no secret that you dislike such events," she said, applying civility to remove all possibilities of insult. "Although I cannot say I blame you in the slightest. I find this sort of thing quite dull myself."
A tolerant smile remained on the other woman's lips, but Kyoko could see that she already lost her interest. For a moment, they watched in silence as other guests milled about the room, conversing in small circles. The wiser ones spoke of their children and multiplication tables or plays and poems. The less wise pursed their lips and turned up their nose, whispered reproach on their tongue.
The word was softly murmured, but enough to stir a reaction out of her. Kyouya read the flash of alarm on her face and smiled, teeth and hints of victory. "You know about it."
"He does not want me to involve myself in this matter." Her admission came straightforward and unabashed, for she had no reason to play her part behind bamboo curtains and dainty fans like any other wife. Hibari Kyouya had her own army, one that wielded her name and not that of her husband, their loyalty in the spark of her eyes and the swiftness of her tonfa.
"I think it is probably wise to heed his caution, Kyouya-san," Kyoko said cautiously. "We are yet certain what we are going up against in this case. It may be another famiglia. It may be something worse. The nature of the drug is a proof enough."
Her lips curved, in a way that sharply reminded Kyoko that she had been her husband's most powerful guardian before finally accepting Dino Cavallone's twenty-sixth proposal a year ago. "I'm sure any information you will see fit to impart will prove itself useful to lessen the risk I may have to face during the course of my investigation."
Kyoko knew her hand in the art of subtle manipulation, knew the steps enough to use it to her own advantage. This, she decided, called for neither subtlety nor manipulation.
She went with cold, hard facts. "Dino-san will never forgive Vongola if something were to happen to you."
The other woman rewarded her efforts with a smirk. "Then it is just as well to keep it as a secret in our circle womenfolk," she said, a finger on the rim of her cup. "For the sake of our families, and everything that lies in the line of fire."
Kyoko folded her hands together, firm in her refusal to acknowledge defeat. The safety of women in their station took precedence over almost everything, especially with husbands such as theirs. Whether or not Dino Cavallone would hold Vongola responsible if the worst truly came to pass, she had no wish to see the man in grief – not when she thought of Tsuna, and herself, and the parallel line drawn between them.
"I shall consider it," was the most she would promise her. But Kyouya, Hibari Kyouya was no woman to whom halves could ever make wholes.
"Consider as long as you wish, Sawada-san." She inclined her head, her voice a soft drawl. "But my schedule remains on its course and I shall take action as soon as possible. The rate of its spread in Calabria is quite alarming."
Kyoko found herself staring, incredulous. What kind of person, she wanted to say, use her own life as a hostage. It isn't love, not even in its most twisted form. Ego, pride, selfishness – she could come up with hundreds of other names and they would describe it perfectly.
"Tonight," she said instead. "I shall give you the answer tonight."
It was not defeat that made it bitter. It was the little smile that curled the other woman's lips as she raised her cup in agreement and said, "May it bode well for the future of our two families."
It had never really occurred to her before, but Kyoko thought that she understood now, why she could not completely like Hibari Kyouya, a woman so free and powerful to stand at her husband's side, an equal if there was ever one. For better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish...
"May it bode well," she repeated solemnly.
(Red Butterfly, cross-dressing, 764 words)
Your hands were clammy with sweat, stiff fingers encased in leather. Seconds crawled with each glass put on the dark wood of your table, drops of vodka slinking past the unquenchable thirst in your throat. Alcohol clouded many minds but not yours, and this was one of those times when you wished for its infamous share of oblivion. It eased the passing, some said.
He sat and laughed and drank like a god, his golden hair brighter than the sun. Men dressed in black suits stood around him, their offerings in the shape of guns because to worship him was to protect him and put their life down at his feet. Yours was a heavy presence tucked under your belt, muzzle digging into your stomach, nudging like the ghost of your dead family – too big to be your child's, too thick to be your wife's, but if combined it could be theirs, somehow.
He wore white, the colour stark under the glimmer of chandeliers as he flirted with the pretty woman on his lap. She wore red, a finely woven kimono, but not that of a highborn lady – a mistress's perhaps, a progeny of the streets that climbed her way up with the lascivious spread of her legs and a dash of coquettish smile on her lips. She played with flashes of white skin, the back of her neck, the curve of her shoulders, the clamp of her legs around his hips. His hand was on her knee, stroking upward, tumbling silk onto the carpet under his feet as he whispered sweet nothings in her ears. You saw her intake of breath, the way her body tightened in anticipation, the small shudder down her spine as her head fell onto his shoulder.
Even before death he must mock the world for granting him power. You felt anger swell deep in the mud of your bowels, but above all, you regretted the fact that it was red. Blood was an ugly colour on red. It would look exquisite on his white, seeping like droplets of wine, watercolour on canvas.
You rose to your feet and there was purpose in your steps. You saw each moment in perfect clarity, the way you always imagined it every waking minute of your life. The stumble was perfect, you had it practiced on the streets until everyone but the most ignorant in the vicinity rushed forward to help. His guards were more careful, but their voice was sympathetic enough when you mumbled every drunken man's miserable story that teemed bars and poured whiskey down their throat.
And then it came, the perfect chance. Your shaky smile smoothed their concern and one of them was offering his shoulders to help steady your feet. You bumped into him, reached for your small automatic weapon, and lunged toward the sofa. There was surprise in his wide eyes and it filled you with the brutal warmth of a moment's victory, too much for you to notice the flash of stiletto.
You fell on your knees but your eyes were on the gleaming blade, dripping with what was once yours, a part of your life trickling down the length of white arm. Blood was choking you, cramming your windpipe and spilling onto lush carpet. Cavallone never looked at you once – even now, he still wouldn't look at you. His eyes were cold, empty, until the woman's long fingers gripped his chin, smearing red on his lips.
His blood is mine, she spoke. Not a woman. Vongola's Cloud, you dredged recognition from the murky depth of your fraying consciousness as he forced him into a deep kiss and licked the blood away. He had a pair of grey eyes, dark enough to pass as black. You recognised the devil in him, a soul with no remorse, even less pity, and he would have killed you again if your ghost so much came within thirteen steps of the man he had claimed as his.
You made sounds that only burned your lungs, your fingers long since losing their power. Only your sight remained to showcase how he closed his eyes, arched his back when Cavallone kissed his neck, tongue sweeping across painted lips and naked skin.
Kyouya, the whisper was soft, vulnerable, or maybe you were just dying. Kyouya.
His grip in the mass of golden hair was firm – a man's grip, a lover's grip – and blood found the edge of his sleeves, dark, dull, ugly. He was smiling, silk loose over his shoulders, like a butterfly, red and beautiful and deadly.
The world faded.
(Maybes, bathtub, 671 words)
The long and short of it was, Hibari stopped answering his calls one day, and Dino found his world turned upside down.
A world was made of axes and balance, weight and gravity, pulling in, binding sans chains. He kept his worries to himself until three weeks had passed and still his calls went unanswered. Romario gave him a look that might translate to either exasperation or fatherly patience when he breathlessly enquired about Kusakabe and, to a further extent, his boss. After much coaxing, he managed to wrestle the phone from Romario's resisting hand, and after some more coaxing – aided, perhaps, with a hint of threat of two – he managed to extract Hibari's location from Kusakabe's equally resisting mouth.
The hotel room was a decent one, although by no means luxurious. A locked door posed only a minuscule trouble for Romario's extensive set of skills, despite the man not looking quite happy with this particular misuse. Dino waved away any transgression on principles and located the Cloud Guardian in the bathroom.
"Kyouya," he breathed out in relief when he saw black hair and deep-set grey eyes, which flared in a combination of surprise and annoyance at his uninvited presence.
"You're not welcome here."
Dino put on an apologetic grin, stepping out of his shoes and into the bathroom. "Sorry for coming to see you so suddenly. But that's your own fault, you know. You didn't answer my calls."
The other man responded nothing to this claim, only his face sinking deeper into still water. Dino hovered near the door in silence, suddenly uncertain. Kyouya, his Kyouya was mad at him, but he couldn't, for the life of him, come up with any plausible reason why. Nothing had changed between them, none that he was aware of – and he was trying very hard not to consider the rumours circulating around whispering his secret but literally nonexistent engagement, presumably spread by the very famiglia whose daughter was the alleged fiancée. Hibari couldn't possibly care about such things.
"I'm not leaving until you tell me what I did wrong this time." He moved to kneel by the bathtub, heedless of any spilled water threatening to ruin his designer pants. Hibari gave him a look that could only be described as laden with hate.
"This," Dino pressed on, encouraged by a little hope sparked by the manifest bitterness, "isn't about the rumour, right?"
"No. Get out."
"Don't you have children to make?"
Dino felt his jaw drop as the words sank in. That hurt, with its plain brutality and Hibari's refusal to look at him – but fact was, only truth could hurt so much. He kept his face blank and his voice tolerant when he tried to formulate an answer.
"It doesn't make me love you any less."
If Hibari noticed his lack of denial, there was no hint in his singularly sullen expression. "I," he splashed water with his hand, to Dino's tie, shirt, hair, "don't like this."
Dino was tempted to laugh but curbed the urge just as quickly. "Then what can I do to make amends?" he asked, daring himself to touch the side of his lover's face. It was cold, the water robbing his skin of warmth and colour.
"Stop trying to mollify me," Hibari hissed, glaring at droplets of water down the lines that mapped his palm. Dino surrendered to the treacherous smile that was tugging the corners of his lips.
"I can't help it," he said, like it explained all. "You're so adorable, Kyouya. Can I kiss you?"
"No," Hibari said acidly, but didn't shake his hand away, or recoil from his touch. Dino kept the smile on his face, mostly because it was painful and he felt that he deserved it.
"I'm sorry." He kissed Kyouya's hand anyway, a little apology, and that the other man didn't acknowledge it was only fitting. The fault was his, and yet he did nothing about it, keeping them both here, forever suspended between maybes.
He would decide, one day. Just not today.
(Thus Legend Hath Spoken, castle walls, 440 words)
"Once upon a time," Dino began solemnly, "there was a mighty king.
"The king was young, wrought in ambitions and confidence of youth. He built a majestic castle, each brick a slab of gold, to outshine the sun and take the sky captive in its stead. With his castle's golden splendour and the bricklayers' blood thick in mortar in its walls, he built dynasties and engraved histories into stones that marked time's quiet passing.
"And then the king himself passed away, in his wake a great legacy inherited from fathers to sons. But such grand a lore was not writ upon bloodless palimpsest. The dynasty thrived, and the river that used to reflect the castle's lofty towers lost its mirror in dribbles of blood, foes and friends alike. And still people gathered around the castle, entranced by its sleek, haunting beauty, an illusion if there was one. They hailed ruthless kings and sang praises for war princes who delighted in might, more so if it came with bloodsheds.
"But for one prince, years and years later, whose dispositions were gentle and belief in the quality of mercy. The throne was to be his, right-born and not freely abdicated, for there was no other who inherited the curse that was his blood. Gold held no shine for him, but love he could not so easily abandon and thus his choice was made."
"Your analogy is poorly veiled," Hibari declared flatly, one hand on the round stone wall that made the pinnacle of the bastion. England and haunted castles suited him, Dino thought, and grinned, sunset caught in his smile.
"Then guess this one." He took a deep breath, the air damp and cold. "One day the prince, haunted by ghosts whose blood slimed his hands, saw a bird that flew about his window freely. The sky had no limit for its flight and yet it was there, one day and the next, again and again. Perhaps it was temptation sent by God, he thought, for he fell in love with its beauty, its flight, its freedom. But alas duty had him chained, and his only choice was to love silently, in agony of the unsaid.
"Little did he know that the bird also loved him, fierce like a storm, and like the sky held captive by the castle's beauty, so was its fate, bound to the lovely prince by the window."
Hibari's eyes were dark on him, no mirror of the soul, not empty but unreadable. And then he said, "You have three seconds before I'm biting you to death."
He should have run, really, but Dino chose to kiss him.
(A Rumour in London, Victorian era, 465 words)
But for a silk gown with lacy sleeves, a string of pearl necklace, and a dainty fan to give prettily gloved fingers a purpose, even a lady of little standing could gain entry to Lady Bianchi's much coveted salon, as long as she carried with her person new story of society's most talked about couple.
'Couple' was decidedly much too generous a description, but there was probably a grain of truth in it, buried under layers of prejudice and whispered talks. Lord Dino Cavallone, successor to a dukedom of considerable importance from a recently deceased father, favourite nephew to the queen, and a most famous socialite and political charmer extraordinaire, was not a man whose private life could ever be considered private. With the attention of every lady – and more than a few gentlemen, one must admit – in whichever room, party, establishment he walked into riveted on his enchanting smile, any hint of special interest from his part would surely be noticed.
The fortunate person was a young man, barely eighteen according to some, whose origins were very little known – only that he was of Asian descent, had considerable personal wealth, and that the Crown had bequeathed to him the title of an Earl in return of his services, which nature remained clandestine at best. After making his first appearance in public about a year ago, he had immediately become a centre of attention and captured the eyes of many, including those of Lord Cavallone. But perhaps it was of little surprise, for the young man in question possessed a beauty, as Lady Haru Miura breathlessly recounted, so extraordinary that it was claimed to eclipse even the moon in a starlit sky.
"But he has every reason to marry," Lady Bianchi, armed by her cool logic, laid down her argument, "especially if one takes into account the matter of inheritance."
"And from what I have heard," another lady contributed, "the sentiment is one-sided. Lord Hibari harbours no such feeling toward Lord Cavallone, impossible as it may seem."
"Impossible indeed," Lady Miura, well-known for her endless source of information, countered with a knowing air. "I have proof of the contrary myself, courtesy of a maid in the Cavallone household."
"The words of a maid," the other lady scoffed.
And thus the great debate persisted in Lady Bianchi's salon. Meanwhile, in a bedroom not far from the battleground, Dino only smiled when Kyouya told him in an acerbic voice about the rumour his indecent behaviour had no doubt instigated.
"Well then," he took the younger man's hand and delivered a kiss to the back, "what say you if we pour more oil into the fire while Bianchi leads them astray?"
It earned him a blow to the stomach, but Kyouya did not resist when his lips were properly claimed.
Notes:Thank you for reading! Reviews will be very much appreciated.