The next morning dawned bright and early, though the curtains in Hibari's chamber were drawn tight and the room dark as a tomb. Hibari woke not to the thin stripe of sunlight trying to sneak across his floor but to the creeping footsteps that followed a path to the foot of his bed.
He was perfectly still, listening as the footsteps came closer, slowly, carefully. His fingers curled around the tonfa beneath his pillow, waiting for precisely the right moment...
And then there was a solid thump of a knee hitting hard wood and a familiar Italian curse followed by the sound of a tray and its contents very nearly toppling across the bedsheets.
Hibari jerked up, thoroughly startled -- so much so that he didn't put the end of his tonfa through Dino's eye. He did sit up in bed with the weapon in hand, glinting like a parody of dew in the morning light as he stared at the other man. He was balancing a tray in his good hand. If this wasn't the greatest potential for disaster Hibari had ever seen, he wasn't sure what was. "What are you doing?"
"Haha... um, good morning Kyouya. I was, ah-- well, I was trying to bring you breakfast." Dino's face displayed a proper expression of chagrin when Hibari switched on the lamp beside his bed.
Hibari looked at him strangely, tucking his weapon back under his pillow. "You do reali-- put that down. You do realize that you still have a broken arm, don't you?" He scowled faintly but it wasn't a particularly angry-Hibari scowl. With the threat of danger no longer looming, he was merely sleep muzzy. He'd warned Dino about waking him many times before.
"Ah-- yeah, thanks," Dino answered, bashful in that way that told Hibari he hadn't been thinking about his arm or his health at all. The Cavallone set down Hibari's tray on the bedside and after a moment of hesitation, settled on the side of the bed.
When Hibari's sleepy eyes turned on the tray beside him, his frown faded with gentle surprise. It was fish. He lifted the lids on the fancy, hand-painted Italian dishes. Miso and rice. A traditional Japanese breakfast. No sweet, sticky pastries or heavy breads or dripping jam and marmalade. The smell of it hit him and even Hibari couldn't hide his pleasure at it, a smile curling the corners of his mouth.
Dino's smile echoed his instantly and a small breath of relief escaped his lips. "Romario let me go down to the kitchen under my own power this morning. I thought I might be able to acquire something... a little more traditional for your breakfast. Luckily, the new assistant chef knows a good Asian market in the area."
"You still shouldn't be running errands," Hibari scolded airily even as he picked up the bowl of steaming miso (only dripping over the side a little after its near tumble from the tray) and breathed it. "But this looks very good." He paused for a long, thoughtful moment, and finally added, "Thank you." before sipping at the soup.
"Of course," Dino hummed in reply. "You've got a very charming smile, Kyouya. You should use it more often."
Hibari eyed him for a moment before taking the tray into his lap and picking up the rice bowl and chopsticks. It would be a shame for such a good breakfast to be allowed to grow cold. He took a bite of grilled fish and nori (real nori, not cabbage or romaine) before answering without meeting Dino's eyes. "I have been."
He could feel the Cavallone start in his seat without needing to look up. A quiet chuckle followed some moments later. "Well. You should know that... I count myself lucky whenever I have a chance to inspire it myself."
Hibari didn't respond directly to it but there was a strange, comfortable silence that followed as he savored flavors familiar to his tongue. They were silly gestures, all of them. The ugly teapot and the fake sushi. This was the most spot on so far, really. But there was something about it... that unwound a tightness in Hibari's chest, made him want to let his eyes linger on Dino when he fell asleep with a book on his chest, all disheveled and sloppy. It made him think of the
fire he'd felt in his veins when he'd made his hasty departure from Japan. And when he looked up in the dim bedside light and the warm glow of the curtains at sunrise, all of this swirled briefly in his eyes when they met Dino's. And then he looked back to his meal. "You must be feeling much better."
Dino's answer was to rub a palm, embarrassed, at the back of his head -- a gesture, Hibari presumed, he'd picked up in his time in Japan. "I'll admit, I've been going just a little bit stir crazy... I think Romario would like to see me stay in bed for another month. But aside from the arm and a little stiffness, I'm really okay. I keep trying to tell him."
"Hm." Hibari peered at him skeptically. "I suppose we'll be ready to complete that raid then, soon." He didn't sound particularly enthused, his voice flat and even and his eyes turned down when Dino looked at him again.
Dino blinked, clearly shocked by this display, or rather, lack thereof. It wasn't like Hibari to not be excited about a hit like this. It couldn't possibly be that he didn't want to hurry back to Japan? It wasn't even this revelation itself that was surprising, so much as that Hibari had allowed himself to be read so easily. "Well... the truth is... I'm not sure I'm up for something quite that... ah... strenuous, yet. I hope you won't be... too put out to have to stay a little longer? I know, I know, I'm as weak as an common herbivore." He smiled a little ruefully. "What can I say."
Hibari took a few more bites thoughtfully, his eyes so hooded they were very nearly closed. Then he shrugged. "It's acceptable." He turned his eyes up again then, finally and he smirked rather deviously. "You can't help being what you are, I suppose."
Dino chuckled, shrugged. "No, I suppose I can't. Cursed from birth, you might say." A beat. "Lucky for me, you're understanding." It was almost a tease, but the sincerity was evident.
There was a silent, faint smirk that lingered while Hibari finished his meal and sat back with the comfort of hot tea. "You've already eaten, then," he questioned.
"Mm," Dino nodded. "I had to try the miso, after all, to make sure you would be satisfied." There was that not-quite-tease again. Hibari felt him watching as he sipped the tea.
Hibari just gave a quiet "Hm." that was amusement and lofty approval in one. Then he set aside the tray on the bed side table and without a word, he moved to one side of the bed, tea still cradled in his pale hands.
For a moment Dino didn't realize that he'd been offered an invitation, but when he glanced up to meet Hibari's eyes and found only a slight raise of brow, he seemed to understand. Watching the younger man carefully, he stood and turned, climbing back onto the bed, beside Hibari, his shoulders to the headboard, legs stretched out before him. "Sleep well?" he wondered, ever casual.
"Mm," Hibari agreed. "Considering you live here, it's surprisingly peaceful, particularly at night. No unexpected visitors barging in. At least not until morning." Hibari's shoulder touched his and stayed there, lightly. The teacup hid his expression.
If Hibari saw the pink that bloomed across Dino's nose he said nothing and when the Cavallone spoke, it was with only some measure of hesitation. "I thought-- I thought maybe you'd walk with me in the garden today." He hurried on. "It's just that I'm dying to get out of this house for just a little while and Romario says you seem to like the gardens here and it seemed like maybe a good idea. What do you think?"
When Hibari looked at him, he thought that Dino suddenly seemed much younger than the twenty-seven years he had behind him. He looked more like the Dino that had driven Hibari mad in junior high. He forced himself not to smile for that. "That would be acceptable," he answered and looked down at the dregs of his tea. He eased just a little more against Dino's shoulder, letting some weight go there and felt strange and tense inside. Because he would have been content to stay like that for a very long time, instead of wanting to shove Dino away and kick him out of the room.
For a long, mostly awkward minute, neither of them moved much. Once or twice Dino's hand crept along his own knee, his eyes darting to Hibari's matching knee, almost touching his. Hibari set aside his empty tea cup and then there was no excuse left for the silence between them. Dino cleared his throat, shifted a little to turn his head toward the other man. Their shoulders moved apart. Dino licked his lips. "Kyouya..."
At his name, Hibari's head turned as well, meeting Dino's gaze with that impossible to read expression of his. Impenetrable. Then... hesitation. Distinctly. "I'll ready myself for the day. Tetsu and I are going in to town this evening for investigation."
"Ah! Yes, that's... that sounds great." The tension went out of Dino's frame, but the awkwardness lingered even as he slid from the edge of the bed, back to his feet. "Ah... I'll just--" He cast a glance around, as though looking for something. "Oh! Your dishes. I'll just take those back. Ah. So. I'll see you later." He took up the tray then, and gave a nod before turning and hurrying toward the door.
Hibari frowned after him but he said nothing as Dino almost tripped again, regained his footing and hurried out.
He took his time getting ready for the day. Another nice amenity of the Cavallone estate was the bathrooms which were as lavish as an upscale onsen. He was always pleased to linger in the steam and tile and hollow quiet that was provided there. It was mid-morning by the time he made his way downstairs, his suit crisp and perfectly pressed and tie neatly in place, shoes polished. He made his way to Dino's office where he knew the older man had been slowly catching up on paperwork after his intense convalescence. He let himself in without knocking.
"You requested my company," he said, good natured, when Dino looked up at him.
Dino fought a grin as he easily and happily set aside a stack of papers, flickering with a variety of flaming seals. "Yes, yeah, I did. And I'm more than ready for a break here." He chuckled. "I've got no stamina for paperwork even when I'm at my peak. Ugh." He stood then, and Hibari saw that he'd smoothed his hair, dressed in the suit Hibari hadn't seen him in since he'd arrived. "After you," he gestured, waving toward the door in his office which let out to a sitting area with steps down to the gardens.
The estate's gardens, true to any Italian estate worth its salt, were luxurious and sprawling. Creeping vines and gleaming pillars and shiningly white trellises. It was a different sort of garden than Hibari was been used to but he found that he liked it, even if it was as over the top as the architecture and interior design. There was just something different about the spilling and crawling of green life, up the walls of the estate and over the fences outside and brimming beside the paths and around the fountains that was appealing.
Out here, in the still of the gardens, they even managed a comfortable sort of quiet, Dino's shoulders relaxing and his step slowing to a stroll. It was some time before he spoke, eyes on the trees overhead. "I know it's different than the kind of gardens you see in Japan," he hummed, as though reading Hibari's thoughts. "But I think I know one thing that's the same. I thought maybe you'd like to see them." He grinned, led Hibari down another path, half-hidden among overgrown ivy ("I like it like that," he'd explained, much to the chagrin of his gardener) to a gate which Hibari had not found. He produced a key then, pushed it open. "Go ahead."
Hibari lifted a brow at him curiously. "Something secret?" he questioned but he allowed Dino to lead him on nonetheless. Arches boasted spring flowers overhead while the fingers of vines reached for the cobbled path beneath them.
"Not secret so much as valuable. I couldn't bear to see them vandalized or stolen. Come on." They crept down a cobbled path, as though sneaking into someone else's garden. Dino disappeared through a space between two walls and when Hibari caught up, he found himself standing in an open space, a small, well-kept grove, a semi-circle of towering trees. Cherries. "I know you're missing the viewing season in Japan... so..."
They were perfect. Bright pink blossoms floating softly on the gentle breeze. Healthy, luscious cotton candy clouds. Were it not for the clipped hedges and the ironically European rectangular pond beyond, they could have been out of a samurai film or painted in detail on a scroll or depicted in some girly anime.
An uncomfortable shiver tore its way down Hibari's spine. He'd long ago been cured of his Sakura disease but the memories of the weakness it brought up made his stomach clench. The smell of them was redolent of Mukuro's entrapment and made him think of the helplessness he'd never before and never since experienced. When Dino looked at him, smilingly searching for a similar reaction to what he'd seen over breakfast, he found Hibari grimacing faintly.
His smile faded instantly and he returned to the younger man's side, concern in his eyes. "Kyouya? What's wrong?" A hand hovered between them, halfway to Hibari's arm, hesitating.
For a long moment, Hibari said nothing but his grimace softened into a thoughtful frown. He looked not to the cotton candy or the pink snowflakes but rather his eyes focused on Dino's face and the worry and disappointment that was so clear there. So easy to read, just as much as he always had been. And as the seconds passed and the petals of sakura drifted around them, his disdain faded. So much like the ugly teapot still in his room, they were wrong. In and of themselves, unappreciated, unwanted, even uncomfortable. But it wasn't, he realized, about what they were but what they meant. This man had spent every day since he'd arrived, in spite of his own aches and pains, searching for some new way to make him smile. He didn't. But he did reach up, taking Dino's face in his hands as he finally did what he'd come to do. He kissed once the older man's mouth, slow and firm and lingering.
Dino's stiffened, his uninjured arm startled into immobility, reaching out for nothing as Hibari kissed him, though his fingers grazed the other's hip briefly. He was frozen, as though waiting for him to pull away with distaste, to pull out a tonfa and punish him for something. When the kiss was broken, he sagged forward, lips parted and flushed, and his arm finally found and circled Hibari's waist. A beat. Dino laughed quietly. "I wasn't ready yet," he protested in a whisper. "Can we try that again?"
Hibari looked at him curiously but only a little didn't pull away, the toes of polished loafers touching fine Italian leather. There was danger in this, of course. Although it was entirely possible that one of Dino's men had tailed them through the garden to keep an eye out. He realized he didn't care either way. Even if it might mean they somehow ended up falling into the pond beyond the sakura in a fit of Dino's clumsiness. Slowly, tentatively, as though learning to dance for the first time, Hibari's hands slid behind Dino's neck, watching his face. Inquisitive, questioning, curious were those eyes. Interested where there was normally characteristic disinterest. "All right," was his answer. He eased closer.
And Dino breathed, smiled, and pulled Hibari closer, dipping his head to reach the younger man's mouth, an answering kiss offered whole-heartedly this time. He was gentle, almost tentative, perhaps still expecting Hibari to change his mind and beat him about the head instead. But the kiss... that was sincere, the way his arm tightened around Hibari's frame, that was real, the way he sighed into his mouth, easing back enough to whisper, their brows still touching. "I've wanted to do that for a long time, Kyouya. It seems even now, you have more courage than I."
The set of Hibari's brow was out of place, furrowed deeply but his lips were... almost pouting. Pressed together, pursed just faintly. For a long moment he said nothing in response though perhaps there were hundreds of things that went unsaid because that's how he was. The 'I've wanted it a long time too but didn't know it'. The 'This is all new to me.' The 'Thank you.' What he finally said, very quietly was, "If you'd have died and left this in the air, I would have bitten you to death."
Dino didn't laugh, though it wouldn't have been strange to. Instead, he took another risk and kissed Hibari again, a quick touch, and another on his cheek , noses bumping. "I was foolish," he admitted. For letting this go for so long, for getting hurt in the first place, for pushing aside his own feelings in order to maintain an 'appropriate' relationship with his ex-student. "Forgive me, Kyouya?"
It was strange, looking at someone's face so close -- that is, outside the heat of battle, with no tonfa holding their attack at bay. But nonetheless, Hibari's expression relaxed slowly and he looked over Dino's features contemplatively. He eased a hand through the silk of golden hair, letting it sift through his long fingers slowly. The sakura were completely forgotten to instead examine the sincerity and emotion in the depths of Dino's brown eyes. He didn't answer
directly but instead kissed again, soft and experimental at Dino's mouth, everything new and unusual, with fingers buried deep in his hair.
Dino was only too happy to find Hibari's hands in his hair, on his neck, a gentle, considerate touch he'd never seen him offer anything but his bird. "Kyouya," he breathed, lightheaded and smiling again, rubbed at his jaw with a thumb. "Thank you for coming."
"Hm." He closed his eyes briefly as Dino's touch trailed his skin. "I don't care for this place," he said, not accusatory but rather simply matter of fact. "Show me the rest of the garden."
"Of course," Dino answered instantly, not asking for or needing an explanation. "Anything you want." And then, with little more warning, he took Hibari by the hand, as though they were school children, and led him out of the grove, back through the vines and out the gate. "Have you seen the maze yet? It's not very big, but there's a fountain in the middle. I'll show you."