Title: One Million Sandcastles
Fandom: Katekyo Hitman Reborn
Characters: Hibari Kyouya, Sawada Tsunayoshi (main)
Pairings: 1827 with one refusing and one insisting, one-sided D27, allusions of 8059 and twisted 10027. More along the way, perhaps.
Word Count: 2,308
Genre: Angsty romance (or the lack of it)
Timeline: pre-TYL

"It's like your heart is all composed of tiny grains of sand;
it's entirely impossible for me to leave a trace of myself there."
-
Darien Adair in Eleven Fifty Nine

One Million Sandcastles
Un Milione di Castelli di Sabbia
per Hibari Kyouya e Sawada Tsunayoshi

o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o

He was not someone who was not capable of love, regardless of what his cold exterior suggested. He never feared love. He was only wary of what it usually entailed, of what it usually demanded. Hibari Kyouya was a man of principles and disciplines. Even the smallest of change would capture his attention, even more so if it concerned his self. He noticed the increase in his heart beat in the presence of a young man who would someday become the only person he would ever acknowledge as his superior. He noticed how his eyes started to follow even the slightest glimpse of the boy, be it his retreating back or his hand or his hair when he rounded a corner. It was unsettling only at first. With time, Hibari learned that this feeling of love could not be so bad if it made him taste the sweet essence of happiness every time the boy said his name.

When 17-year-old Sawada Tsunayoshi poured his heart out to him, proclaiming his feelings of love he could no longer keep hidden, Hibari's heart soared like thousands of multicoloured birds painting the sky in the sweet colours of love. He drank in the sight of the other boy's trembling lips and bright eyes, noting how the boy was trying his hardest not to run away, looking at the boy like he was his everything.

In a way that no one would ever know (even Hibari himself) at least until much, much later, Sawada Tsunayoshi was the essence of his very existence.

He listened to the words the boy said, wanting to imprint them at the back of his mind forever and ever and ever like a blind old fool who reveled in being a hopeless romantic. And then the words were gone, leaving the boy to look at him with expectant eyes and still trembling lips, anticipating his response.

Tell him you love him, he heard his heart said. Tell him you want to be with him. Tell him you will always be with him. Tell him. Tell him!

It felt like forever that they stood staring at each other in that empty classroom, both waiting though for different reasons. When Hibari did speak, when he did respond, he wanted to throw his tonfas off the cliff of the highest mountain in the world – wanted to throw the Vongola ring into the fire just to hold it in his palm later so the crest would be forever engraved upon his burnt flesh, wanted to walk into a Death Camp like the one in Auschwitz in the time of the World War and wait for the inevitably painful death that would be bestowed upon him.

He turned the boy down. He rejected his feelings. He sent the boy away.

He would never forget the boy's eyes before he walked away. They were no longer bright, but they weren't watery in the least – not like the way one would tremble and cry out like in those clichéd soap operas and cheesy romance novels. He would never forget the way the boy looked too. Even as he walked away with his heart broken into bits of unrecognisable powder, Sawada Tsunayoshi was smiling.

Hibari could never associate smiles with happiness ever again.

o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o

The official inauguration of the Tenth Vongola was when the boss was a mere young man of eighteen, heart still very much broken. He was smiling and standing tall, surrounded by his guardians and the men he would lead until the day he died. Hibari watched from the sidelines as the dashing young man, who was once a boy who cried too much, mingled with people who cared about prestige and money more than they would ever care about the real person the young man was.

Tsuna (or Tsunayoshi, as he had taken to fondly refer to in his broken monologues) caught his eyes and waved, motioning for him to join the gathering of worthless herbivores. He was already formally introduced as the Cloud Guardian once; he saw no need to be personally reintroduced to a bunch of suck-ups. So he looked away, breaking the eye contact with Tsuna.

He stood away from the crowd, out in the balcony for the longest time, wondering if Tsunayoshi remembered their encounter in that empty classroom just a year ago. He wondered if the young man knew he was just as heartbroken and had been in such state since then.

"I thought you left," a familiar voice penetrated his silence reverie, forcing him to turn just slightly to the speaker's direction.

Tsuna.

Hibari narrowed his eyes, ignoring the sudden urge to jump down the balcony and retreat to his living quarters. "Was it so surprising that I'm still here?"

He watched Tsuna chuckle at his remark, making his way to the lavishly carved banisters opposite to the one he was leaning against. "Not really."

They stood in silence after that, watching the bright full moon shining down on them, showering the otherwise dark balcony with ethereal light. Hibari chanced a glance at his now official boss, noting the mesmerising glow he seemed to emanate in the moonlight. For the umpteenth time, his heart was captured. It cried out with bleeding affection, but he drowned the pitiful sound by gritting his teeth.

"I'm still very much in love with you, you know."

Tsuna's words had come unannounced. He was not prepared to face such blatant verbal declaration of love.

Hibari blinked. He stared at Tsuna with no trace of emotion on his face or in his eyes. His heart was crying out again, making it almost impossible to drown them out by simply clenching his fingers or gritting his rows of teeth.

Tell him you love him too! His heart cried again, and he was reminded of the empty classroom and their broken hearts.

"You shouldn't be," he said, wanting to jump down Cozzo Levanche straight into the Grande River, drifting away from their headquarters in Sicily out into the Tyrrhenian Sea. "It won't bring you anything."

"It's okay," Tsuna replied silently. "I want to be in love with you."

"Even if I tell you not to?" Lies, all lies.

"Even if you tell me not to." Would you ever?

o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o

It was hard not to notice how Dino Cavallone regarded Tsuna as more than just his little brother. The man was almost cunning in his advances and all Hibari wanted was to bark at him to stay the hell away from Tsuna. He didn't care if the man was his tutor, nor did he care about how highly Tsuna regarded Dino. Hibari would still kill him if he ever wronged Tsuna.

Nevertheless, he knew no one had wronged Tsuna more than he had.

He overheard Gokudera voicing his concern to Yamamoto once. He knew his beloved Tenth was in love with someone, someone who was not Sasagawa Kyouko, someone he didn't have a clue about. Gokudera didn't want Tsuna's beloved to be Dino because he feared the Bucking Horse was not really in love with Tsuna. Yamamoto didn't want Tsuna's beloved to be Dino because he feared Tsuna would be torn between two families.

Yet they didn't know Tsuna was in love with Hibari. Would they be relieved if they knew, or would they rethink and come to a conclusion that Tsuna would be better off with Dino than with someone like Hibari?

One evening, he was challenged to a round of practice duel with his infuriating tutor. He expected the man's increase in strength, but he didn't expect Dino to fight him with anger and something akin to hatred. After a few blows, what started out as practice turned into a full-out battle between them. Not that Hibari minded.

"Why must it be you?" Dino shouted in between blows, almost startling Hibari. Almost. "Why must he be in love you - you who don't even want to be near him? Why you?"

The man's words dripped heavily of controlled venom. Hibari could taste the rage and frustration and rejection in every blow he took and blocked. It was either Tsuna had told him or he found out by accident. If it was the former, he almost regretted not being there when Tsuna refused Dino's romantic affection, sadistic as he may sound. He probably told the poor man they were better off as brothers while smiling his usual smile.

"You don't even love him," Dino accused. They both had stopped trying to kill each other after being hit by a rather heavy blow from both directions. "So why is he in love with you?"

Hibari wiped a trail of blood on his mouth, sneering at the man in front of him who was supposed to act like a sane adult given his status as a Don. "Because he does," he told the frustrated man like the answer was so very simple to comprehend. "Who are you to say otherwise?"

o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o

When Reborn died, Tsuna had been more distraught than he should be. The news of the deaths of a few other Arcobalenos shook him even harder. The one who noticed the extent of the Decimo's anguish was probably only his guardians, including Hibari who had just return from researching box weapons, and of course Dino, who never seemed to stop subtly trying to get Tsuna to change his heart. Hibari wondered if they knew he was in the balcony when the two of them shared their memories of being Reborn's students, laughing and crying like they were still two young children.

Everything went downhill from there. Sometimes, Hibari would find himself staring at his finger where his Vongola ring used to snuggly rest upon. Having the ring destroyed was almost like having a part of Tsuna torn from him. If he was a young child, he would have cried at the loss, but he didn't. He was not weak. If Tsuna thought it was the best course of action, then it was the best. His words were the rule. Tsuna himself was the law.

But not to Millefiore.

They hunted, killed, destroyed and lusted for the blood of those associated with the Vongola. Tsuna's office was littered with unwanted petals and letters sent by bloodied messengers – from Byakuran himself. One thousand flowers for my beloved, the letters had read, always ended up being ripped to shreds by Gokudera or Yamamoto before the latter was sent to their headquarters back in Japan.

And then came the very secret meeting with Irie Shouichi, who was supposed to serve under Byakuran as one of his Funeral Wreaths, and with the blasted meeting came the most bizarre plan Hibari had ever heard in his life.

The plan which involved Tsuna's death.

Hibari did his best to look calm and collected, excusing himself from the meeting with a mere "I'll do what I can" and a smirk at Tsuna's silently mouthed words of appreciation. In his room, Hibari smashed the empty vase near his bed, sending it to the floor with uncontrolled wrath.

They met at a dark hallway that night. Hibari could almost see Tsuna's smile, his figure illuminated by the small traces of moonlight seeping through the curtained window. He wanted to run to the man, hold him in his arms and never let go. He wanted to tell him to devise another plan, one that was not as crazy.

"Why am I the one to hold this secret?" he asked, facing Tsuna in the dark.

Tsuna chuckled like he always did. How he could still smile was beyond Hibari's comprehension. "Because you don't love me."

It was unexpected. Hibari drew a sharp breath before turning around and walked away. He could barely breathe, from anger or sadness or frustration, he didn't know. All he knew was that he wanted to die so badly not for the first time since the broken moment in that empty classroom years ago.

Hibari flew to another continent the next day and Tsuna flew to Japan the day after his departure. The headquarters in Italy was obliterated not long after.

o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o

Inbox: Message (1/32)
From: Sawada Tsunayoshi
I love you.

o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o

He was on his second flight in three days. He stared at his cell phone as if it was not switched off – as if he could still read the last message it received and the last message he sent. He closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep when the jet took off.

They had already put out the light by the time he opened his eyes. For the first time in his life, he was genuinely thankful of having the Vongola arranged for each guardian to have one private jet for personal use.

Taking one last glance at his watch, he leaned back against the reclining seat and closed his eyes again. It was becoming significantly harder to hold back the choking emotions now that he knew what time it was in Japan. He knew his phone would ring once they disembark. He knew he would hear either Yamamoto Takeshi or Gokudera Hayato on the phone, telling him what he would pretend to not know when the truth was very much the opposite.

The whirring sound of the engine was his best friend as unwanted tears trickled down his cheeks in silent tracks. If Kusakabe were to check up on him, Hibari was prepared to blame the air pressure regardless of how illogical it would make him sound. For the time being, he would not stop the tears.

I love you.

I love you.

I've always, always been in love with you.

Hundreds of miles away, the sound of gunshots pierced through the silence.

Two hearts stopped beating, one forever and the other metaphorically.

o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o

Outbox: Message (1/1)
To: Sawada Tsunayoshi
I love you.
More than you think I do.

The End of the Beginning
La fine di l'inizio


Thank you for reading. I'd also appreciate any kind of response from my readers (and thank you in advance should you feel like reviewing).

Extra Notes: This fanfic is the original oneshot of my doujin, 「祈り」(inori, meaning prayer) before I started making alterations to the original plot. And yes, this is not supposed to be over. I usually only write drabbles and prologues with little to no dialogues.

* Eleven Fifty Nine is my original BL novel, currently still in drafting.

p.s/ After all the cracks, angst is still what I do best. Kind of sad…