A/N: My last Hibari-centric fic for a little bit, thanks for reading. Stay tuned for Dino!
All characters © Amano Akira
The only reason Tsuna was leaving Namimori Middle School now, at five o' clock, was because he had stayed after to clean up the cafeteria. Ryohei and Gokudera had started a food fight during lunchtime, but as per usual with his outlandish cohorts, things went awry: Reborn had showed up and turned it into a contest, and eventually Hibari had gotten involved. Tsuna shuddered at that last part, which was the reason he was now limping off the school grounds with a fractured wrist, a black eye, bruised nose, and bandaged arms. Thankfully Shamal had provided him with the Band-Aids and gauze, but that was about the extent of the good doctor's hospitality.
Tsuna groaned and adjusted his backpack strap so that it was resting on a not-so-bruised part of his shoulder. Honestly, Namimori was chaotic as it was without the disciplinary delinquents inflicting terror into the hearts of their fellow classmates. And Hibari Kyouya sat at the top of the punitive pile of bodies, all high and mighty with his prefect's badge clipped to his sleeve and tonfas glimmering in the light. Tsuna rubbed his sore forearms, thinking to himself that he didn't need any more problems in his life without someone constantly trying to bite him to death for practically breathing the same air as him.
And how ironic that Tsuna should come across this person now, long after most students should have already gone home. The phrase 'speak of the devil' crossed his mind, although he was really thinking more than speaking about the guy.
Thankfully the school's wall shielding him from Hibari's view, so Tsuna inched along the side of it in hopes that he could remain as inconspicuous as humanly possible. Memories surfaced of his traumatic hospital stay with Hibari a few months ago, which prompted Tsuna to step as lightly as he could on the grass beneath his feet.
He was almost out of sight when something caught his eye.
Hibari was crouched down on the grass with his black committee jacket draped over one shoulder. His hand, Tsuna saw, was extended and gently scratching the ears of a small cat. Its fur was a light shade of Garfield-orange, and its tail sashayed from side to side in a kind of lazy delight.
Tsuna couldn't help but gape. Of course he'd known that Hibari had a soft spot for animals, hence his taming of Hibird, but seeing it in action was a different story altogether.
Hibari made little tsk-tsk-ing sounds with his tongue and the cat purred like a muffled car engine in the winter. The smile he wore was not the I'll-bite-you-to-death-and-bathe-in-your-blood smile, but a more tender one that Tsuna doubted he let anyone else see.
The cat mewled softly when Hibari suddenly stood up, as if asking to be pet some more. However the smile had vanished, replaced by the pernicious glower that defined the very essence of Hibari Kyouya.
"Well well, it looks like I'll have to bite you to death now," he said, turning to look straight at Tsuna.
"Hee!" Tsuna gulped and pressed himself up against the school wall as if doing so would somehow make him smaller. Reborn wasn't around. Gokudera wasn't around. And although it would only be wishful thinking to yearn for his presence, Dino wasn't around.
A pair of steel tonfas slid out of the pockets of Hibari's coat. The tonfas that probably had to be cleaned twice a day to get all the bloodstains off. Tsuna's adam's apple undulated in an audible gulp as Hibari drew nearer…
…and he suddenly realized that there was nothing to be afraid of.
Well, of course one should fear Hibari—that was a given. But at the same time…
"I don't think I've bitten the same person to death twice in one day," Hibari mused coolly. He raised his tonfas. "This will be a new record."
"W-w-wait, Hibari-san!" Tsuna held up his hands in front of him, "I…I don't think you need to be embarrassed," he said quickly.
At this Hibari paused. "Embarrassed?"
Even Tsuna saw a line when it was thrown to him. By now, the Tsuna of last year would have probably run screaming from this scene, but the Tsuna of the present was a little different.
"I-it's not a bad thing to like animals," he stammered, with Hibari's shadow looming over him, casting him into a tenebrous shade. Tsuna offered a winsome smile.
"On the contrary, I think liking them—it shows how good a person is," he continued hurriedly. His words came out smoother now, as they always did when he spoke from his heart. "I like animals too; it's nothing to be ashamed of."
Hibari's eyes narrowed and his brow furrowed together. Lately there were more and more things in this world that he didn't understand. The cloud ring around his neck felt cool against his skin, and somehow it annoyed him.
"Don't lump me in together with your kind, you herbivore," he said as he brought his right arm down in a nefarious swing—
—only to be stopped by a slight pressure against his shins.
As Hibari faltered, they both looked down to lay eyes on the orange tabby that was curling its tail around the prefect's leg. It gave a perky myao when it noticed that it had gotten the humans' attention.
Tsuna smiled and squatted, forgetting about the pain in his bruised legs. "Here, kitty," he chimed, holding out his hand for the cat to sniff. It stared at Tsuna with large, fishbowl eyes and after a moment licked his knuckle, purring. Tsuna ran a bandaged hand over its arching back and the cat meowed, content.
With a little 'hn' sound, Hibari shoved his tonfas back into his coat. As he turned on his heels to leave, Tsuna looked up.
"I'll bite you to death another day, Sawada Tsunayoshi," he said, looking back over his shoulder. "Consider yourself lucky."
Tsuna sighed in relief when Hibari had left, though wondering if the transformation from "herbivore" to "Sawada Tsunayoshi" was a good or bad thing.
Unknown to them, from his watching spot on the Namimori ledge, Reborn smiled.