Notes: Spoilers through the Millefiore arc. The title is a line from the Nirvana song "Plateau". Number 17 is blatant plagiarism from Lemon Demon's song "The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny". :(

(My other theory about Hibari is that he's an anthropomorphic personification, because on first appearance he reminded me a lot of a fanart I'd seen of a character from Good Omens. "...Pollution!? No, with that colouring he's obviously the lovechild of Pollution and Famine. --Botulism!" But it didn't make it into the fic, since I figured number 17 was bad enough.)


Nothing on Top but a Bucket and a Mop and an Illustrated Book about Birds:
Twenty Facts about Hibari Kyoya

.

1. The Reception Room contains absolutely state of the art multimedia projection equipment: very expensive, very impressive. No one uses it.

Not the teachers, not the prefects or donors or parents, and not Hibari Kyoya, though he was the one who said it was required for the school to have the equipment. It was generally assumed he wanted Namimori to keep up with other schools.

Hibari's lieutenant discovered the truth late one night, having blinked his way out of unconsciousness after an official Disciplinary Committee disagreement with some diamond smugglers. Looking around, he realised he'd been left to recover on a couch in the Reception Room, and then he stopped breathing because he could hear that rare sound: the quiet murmur of his president laughing.

Slowly, Kusakabe turned his head, minimising noise and the ringing pain from his temples.

The screen from the multimedia equipment had been pulled down to cover the majority of one wall, and Hibari reclined on his favourite couch, watching a movie. An old black and white movie: It was Charlie Chaplin, and Hibari laughed at every foolish face and pratfall the man made. There was a stack of DVDs on the coffee table, and it looked like they were the same kind of thing.

Kusakabe squeezed his eyes shut, petrified of being caught witnessing this private moment, but smiled in a kind of wonder at this fact about his president.

.

2. Hibari laughs because, with every elaborate pratfall, he is mentally adding the blood.

.

3. "They give me ice cream at home," said Kyoya, and pouted.

Father laughed until he had to dry his eyes. "Is our boy still doing that?"

"Yes, dear, he is," said Mother, only slightly chill, and then turned to her son. "That isn't home, Kyoya. That's the hospital. You understand."

"But it smells familiar."

"That's because you spend every other day in there!" Father leaned over the table and ruffled his hair, and Kyoya bore it with tremendous dignity and patience. "My little scrapper!"

"Your home is with us," said Mother, "and for now, dessert will stay as it is. We'll have ice cream next time, okay?"

(For a few brief weeks a child welfare group in the district takes an active interest in Hibari Kyoya, the child who is reported to return to the hospital almost weekly; after a few brief weeks, the welfare officer in charge of the case has bites all over his ankles, and young Kyoya has no problems with them again.)

.

4. During his (first) first year at Namimori Middle School, Hibari is rarely seen without one of his favourite hard candies balling out a cheek - they're good to gnaw on. First-time opponents often cheer when they get him to spit, thinking Hibari is getting rid of a tooth, and then gape at neon-coloured globs of sugar on the ground.

As his opponents increase in size and strength, Hibari is obliged to stop eating the sweets for risk of choking. He'd never before made such a concession to the strength of others, and it does not improve his temper. (No one notices the difference.)

.

5. Mother spent a great deal of time doing her research. Kyoya has heard aunts, uncles, and possibly grandmothers (he wouldn't know; before family gatherings he was always sent to his room, because he asked very politely) say that it's unsuitable for a woman with such a young child, and her husband away on business too often to give Kyoya the attention to make up for her neglect... This is a good example of why Kyoya prefers to be in his room.

He tunes out the milling and muttering from downstairs and pulls closer the books Mother gave him, the same kind of books that they both pored over in quiet, contented hours in her study.

He can't read the 'Natural History' on the cover in one go yet, but looks thoughfully at the fangs of the tiger buried in the flank of the buck.

.

6. He had not been asleep.

Rokudo Mukuro - well, Mukuro Rokudo in the proper manner, as despite the name that man was a foreigner - had in no way beaten him unconscious.

Nonetheless, (when Hibari wakes up on the floor of the Kokuyo Land building), the birdsong is so soothing that the foremost thought in his mind is that it would be peaceful to hear last thing at night. And it would be a great relief if the Disciplinary Committee didn't need to serenade him to sleep from beneath the window anymore. Even crowding that happened out of sight was offensive if you knew it was there.

Hibari drags his limbs together from their resting sprawl, and the bird on the windowsill blinks its bright eyes at the movement. He starts singing.

.

7. Disciplinary Committee standards are high in all respects, including style. Kusakabe makes hair inspections every month in accordance with Hibari's wishes.

As committee president, however, Hibari is exempt from the considerations of underlings. His own hair is only trimmed once it gets in his eyes while he's fighting. Then he hacks off chunks of it with one of the modified saw blades in his tonfa. (This act is the only thing that can bring tears to Hibari's eyes.)

.

8. The first time Hibari left Namimori to learn more about the boxes and rings, neither he nor Kusakabe spoke any language but Japanese. Kusakabe made up for it with an Italian phrasebook and a determined expression. Maybe that helped, but it was probably superfluous.

By the time Hibari came back he could say the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and a good handful of other prayers in faultless Italian. The only problem was that it took him some time to learn to forgo the dying rattle after Amen, which always made him grin in self-satisfaction.

After the second visit he'd built a vast lexicon of curses and swearwords, and after the third visit he had learned how to order food, which he then taught to Kusakabe.

But that isn't the worst of it.

.

9. "It had to have happened here, because I didn't let that battle maniac out of my sight for more than a few hours at a time during the visit," Dino said, and pointed a chopstick at Tsuna for emphasis. "So how could Kyoya possibly have learned to read and speak perfect scholarly Latin?"

Tsuna shrugged helplessly, brushing the noodles Dino had launched at him out of his hair. "I don't know. They definitely don't teach Latin at our school!"

"It makes sense, doesn't it?" said Reborn with a smile. "Latin is what's called a Dead Language. Of course Hibari would know it."

His students stared at him. Then, with a shared glance, Dino and Tsuna agreed not to admit aloud how much that felt like good sense, and had a pleasant, peaceful afternoon.

.

10. Twenty years later, it is all Lambo can do to keep his herd of highly strung Bovino dairy cows from Hibari. The cows have appealing large brown eyes and horns on average 30cm long.

Luckily for Lambo, Hibari is often distracted by what amounts to basically an army of animals that surround him - cats (functionally: panthers), dogs (more like wolves), and rats (bears).

.

11. Legend holds that Hibari Kyoya, terror and tower of strength for Namimori Middle School, is a bare ghost that has no scent of its own, but smells of the blood of lawbreakers, the saltwater of their tears, the pure animal stench of their fear.

If the lawbreakers paid attention while he held them up by his tonfa, they could have pointed out that he actually smelled like the cleaning supplies found in the janitors' store room. But generally they had other things on their minds.

.

12. Hibari's (third) third year at Namimori Middle School is...

"...Notable."

Tsuna's mouth tried out the shape of words, shrieks, and sobs. He managed to come out with nothing more embarrassing than, "If you say so, Hibari-san."

"Did they just - did he - did that just--?!" Gokudera gesticulated wildly.

"No," Yamamoto said firmly, but even he didn't quite believe himself.

They watched the last spark of glory fade as the gods departed without their son and scion, and the loveliness of the tears on the fading faces became gentle rain.

"I'm not praying to him!" Gokudera hissed urgently to his boss, jabbing a finger at Hibari as if it somehow direct the situation into being normal again.

At this disrespect Hibari bit them dead, which actually did go a long way towards restoring everyone's equilibrium.

The lasting change is that he chooses to graduate and attend Namimori High School. It could have been ascension to a more fitting place; it could have been punishment for declining the place he should have taken.

.

13. All those who value life and limb do not let Hibari Kyoya get drunk.

Not even a little bit.

The tonfa get replaced by bottlenecks.

(Yamamoto has a hard time convincing people that this isn't how he got the scar on his chin. There are a couple of other scars, though--)

.

14. Just once, Hibari is struck with the Dying Will bullet. He's one of the type who goes silent when they're hit, so no one knows what it is he bounds out the window to do; it doesn't really matter, when everyone's attention is taken up by his leopard-print briefs.

.

15. "Kyo-san needs clothes sizes for all the Vongola guardians."

"What the hell for?" It didn't really sound like something that Gokudera needed to be suspicious about, but then, it didn't sound normal either.

"For your kimono. Look, he won't allow guests onto Foundation premises unless they're properly dressed." Kusakabe shrugged; he'd be the first to admit that his leader was an idiosyncratic man. "So send the information quickly. Kyo-san wants to start sewing as soon as possible."

There was a pregnant pause as Gokudera's universe crashed and, with effort, rebooted. "Hibari is going to make us clothes?"

"It's hard to find tailors that match up to his standards."

Gokudera stared eloquently.

Kusakabe shrugged again and offered, "I think he learned from stitching himself up after fights."

.

16. Namimori Middle School was chosen because it's within walking distance of Hibari's house. He can maintain his own territory and go home for birthdays and New Years. His mother smiles on special occasions. It's a satisfactory arrangement all around.

.

17. Angels sang out in an immaculate chorus; down from the heavens descended...

Chuck Norris regarded the carnage with a steely gaze and a ruminating rotation of his jaw, taking in the scattered bodies of all from Gandalf the Grey to Mister Rogers in his bloodstained sweater. "What happened here?"

The metered, even tone of his question resounded over the groans on the battlefield, and in reply a youthful hand was raised. It held something that looked a bit like a policeman's truncheon, and then Chuck made out a little boy, thin and bloody, picking his way closer over the bodies.

The cowboy's face split in a welcoming grin. "Oh, I get it. Hi, kid. You must be my opposite! The one they sent from..." He inclined his head.

The boy responded to the courtesy question in Chuck's voice, smiling in confirmation as he pointed his weapon in the same direction Chuck had indicated.

Down.

--This is the current leading theory circulating in various Mafia online chats.

.

18. Hibari finds herbivores distasteful and will always express this. He doesn't bother much to talk about omnivores and carnivores, though, because there is something more important and more pure to think of that puts all other considerations to shame, a dream cherished since childhood: What he really hopes for is to fight a tyrannosaurus rex.

.

19. No one actually knows.

.

20. They don't ask.