Rating: M (for boys' love, violence and language)
Disclaimers: I do not own Katekyo Hitman Reborn and absolutely nothing of this belongs to me; not the characters or even the story line, personal interpretations aside!
Author's note: I've never written a D18 before, so this is kind of scary, but I've been reading the published manga books and they've only gotten to the Varia Arc, Mist battle, so I've been reading a lot about those two together lately…! And to be honest, as cool and gorgeous as he is, I think having to tutor Hibari must be a nightmare ^_^'
I feel bad for Dino, though, first he has to grow up attending the same school as Squalo, then he gets the world's cutest but most sadistic tutor to shape him up for a role he doesn't want and finally he is tasked with tutoring Hibari!
Before Reborn came crashing into his life, Dino had been a gentle child. He had been the sort of sweet and clumsy boy who made other people go 'aww'. He hadn't been tough, not remotely, but he didn't have to be, because he was the son – the only son – of the 9th mafia boss of the Cavallone family. He was precious. And whenever someone tried to mess with him – were stupid enough to – someone always came. And even after Reborn had come, seen, conquered and dragged him kicking and screaming into a position he'd never wanted, Dino had remained a gentle person.
He had been 14 then, when Reborn came.
And now he was 22 and inches away from strangling a boy who was still in middle school…
"He's a bit of a problem child."
"Oh? A challenge?"
"Yes, quite. And he's just had his pride wounded pretty severely, so I warn you, this won't be easy."
"I'll do my best, don't worry. I can't let my cute little brother down now, can I?"
"Hm," Reborn smiled mysteriously, but said nothing. "He is the head prefect of Namimori middle school," he went on. "He loves his school to death, so you'll probably find him there in the disciplinary committee's office."
"A school-loving prefect? Heh, he sounds more like a geek than a problem child, to be frank."
"Are you Hibari Kyouya?"
The boy on the couch glanced lazily up from the book in his lap and studied him with eyes that were clear and dark, mildly curious and unafraid. He was very beautiful. "Yes. Who're you?"
"I'm Dino, the 10th mafia boss of the Cavallone family." This was the problem-child? "I'm an acquaintance of Tsuna and Reborn's," he explained. "I'm here to talk to you about that ring you've got."
"The baby?" this seemed to pique the boy's interest because a corner of his lips quirked upwards into a sort of smirk. "Hmm, I suppose I should take you seriously then." He closed the book neatly and put it aside. "However," he rose gracefully from the couch, "that's not going to happen."
Dino couldn't quite suppress a grin. Yes, clearly this must be the one – the Cloud Guardian (hopefully), his student-to-be – and already this promised to be an interesting affair. "I see." He toyed absentmindedly with the whip that hung faithfully by his hip. "A problem child indeed…" The leather was warm and smooth under his fingers, as keen to go as he was.
"Then I guess we'll have to do it the hard way."
And that was his first meeting with Hibari Kyouya. In retrospective he sometimes thought that already at that time he had stopped thinking of Kyouya as a child.
Ah, yes, the hard way… Violence had used to be 'the hard way' for him. When he had to put his heart in the fight – that was the hard way! Had been, he would think much, much later, until Kyouya had forced him to redefine the phrase altogether.
"The school roof, huh…" Dino leant his head back and drew in long, deep breaths of cool, crisp air that smelled of city and trees and the fragrant onset of early evening. "How nice, I've always liked roof tops!" He smiled and meant for it to look disarming but he was wary and alert, because he didn't know at all what to expect from the dark-eyed boy with the expressionless, arrogant visage, and his smile felt a little strained. Straight to the fight, he noted, no small talk, even though they had only just laid eyes on each other – this kid might just turn out to be a challenge after all.
And sure enough; the boy merely observed him languidly from under long lashes, looking almost bored, and in an instant that lasted no longer than a heartbeat, he had whipped out a pair of collapsible tonfa; one in each hand.
"Then feel free to enjoy it," he said in a drawling voice, bending his knees slightly, like a cat about to pounce, "while I knock you flat!"
Normally Dino was good with people. He cared about people. And he was used to others adoring, respecting, liking or simply not disliking him. In spite of eventually, reluctantly having been molded into an upstanding criminal with tattoos and a whip, who never had to pay at restaurants and could get away with wearing low-riding cargo pants, Dino Cavallone had always been one of the good guys. Nowadays it was he who came when someone was in trouble – it had become something of a strength to him, as a matter of fact.
But Hibari turned out to be… difficult.
He assumed at first that the boy with the striking face and the sharp tongue was probably just suspicious towards strangers – many Japanese were, especially the men and especially towards foreigners who were tall and fair-haired and had tattoos. So Dino did his best to smile, which usually got him where he wanted, and to talk plainly and correctly. He tried to act confident and friendly and he called his student by his first name, Kyouya, in an attempt to establish a sense of familiarity between them that turned out to be completely in vain. He did everything according to etiquette and common sense.
But when that seemed to have absolutely no effect and do absolutely nothing to further thaw the ice, Dino began racking through his brains for some humanoid reference to go by and he vaguely recalled his first meeting with Gokudera Hayato – prideful and young and all fangs and spikes out and degrading insults and he thought that maybe Kyouya was a little bit like him. Maybe he just needed or wanted recognition.
As it turned out, though, to Dino's great surprise and pleasure, it wasn't difficult at all to give Hibari praise.
"You move well for you age," he complimented him in all honesty, feeling slightly winded as he broke off from their first quick bout of strikes and blows. Kyouya may not look it but he was quick and surprisingly strong and his reflexes were excellent. Dino decided he would not underestimate him.
He caught the boy's next upwards swipe by stretching his whip out tight between his hands and grinned.
"'Think so?" Kyouya did not look winded, or amused, or flattered, or pleased. "I'm holding back, moron."
Dino avoided the next deadly swipe, but only just – it grazed his hair and he felt the gush of wind on his face like a physical thing. Hibari's cold, tantalizing eyes were merciless. Yikes! He's a real wild mustang, this one…!
Behind them Romario, who stood leaning against the fence had stopped drinking his coffee and was now watching them with interest.
Dino never meant to fight the boy outright – not yet, anyway – but realized that he didn't have much of a choice at this rate. They needed to get down to business, and soon – how long was this guy going to keep up the charade?
His next move caught Kyouya perfectly unaware. He feigned a basic, direct attack, which Hibari dodged with ease, but, as he brought his arm back to counter the attack his body suddenly froze in mid-movement and his eyes widened. Around his slender arm, Dino's whip was wrapped, tight as a python snake. Dino had swung the long whip around the fire ladder behind Kyouya and he hadn't seen it…!
Gotcha! He grinned triumphantly and folded his arms across his chest, confident that he now had the boy exactly where he wanted him.
"You're good, Kyouya, I'll give you that," he admitted, his tone of voice serious. Surely now the kid would listen to him. "But you're still just a frog in a well – you need to expand your outlook a little. I'm going to help you with that."
But Hibari's expression didn't change at all. "No, you won't," he quipped flatly before he spun around and, with the tonfa in his other hand he struck and hit Dino hard across the face.
It was a hairsbreadth away from a direct hit but, though he was caught completely off-guard, Dino managed at the last fraction of a second to twist his head back and sideways. "Ouch!" He clamped his hand over what was sure to leave a nice mark and felt tiny droplets of blood trickling down between his fingers, backing away as he did. "Man that smarts..!"
He took a deep breath to steady himself. A problem child indeed… Now, he thought, how am I going to tame this young bronco?
Hibari twirled the tonfa in his hands and scowled.
…And that was how Dino Cavallone spent his afternoon that day.
He wouldn't – couldn't – give up, not when Tsuna was depending on him. He would endure, he had to.
"Hang on a moment, Kyouya."
He felt forced to resign to something akin to pleading, eventually. Surely the kid would listen, had to, if only he got the gist of it, a tiny hint of how serious the situation was.
"Listen, before we continue I need to talk to you about that ring you've received."
They had been at it for hours. So far neither of them had caved or showed any signs of inclination towards such a thing. Hibari's immaculate white shirt was torn at the sleeves and Dino had bruises all over his arms and his normally divine patience was seeping out of him with each breath. His tone of voice was insistent now. "You have to know a little about its purpose and –"
"I've told you, I don't care. I'm only here to tear you to pieces."
"Geez, you're like a broken record!" Dino scratched his neck. Same old song... He tried again, "listen, that ring you just got –"
"If this little thing is so important to you," said Hibari, glancing up at him while twirling the half-ring languidly between his fingers, "maybe I'll throw it away…?"
"What?! Wait! Don't be stupid!" Dino shook his palms vigorously. Arrogant, self-centered, battle-crazy bastard!
Behind them Romario was snickering into his fist.
"Ok, fine! You can act as indifferent as you like, Kyouya, but I'm not backing down either." Dino's grip on the whip hardened and he stared at the boy with eyes that were laden with resolve. They were wasting what precious little time they had on this kid's petty pride-issues! But he had an idea of sorts and thought he knew something that might make the boy bait…
"Tell you what," he offered. "We'll make it a bet; eye for an eye! I'll fight you – for real, this time. I won't hold back."
This was a battle of resolve and stamina, he decided. Just like it was with the young horses he was so fond of training – and Dino was very good with horses.
"That's nice…" drawled Hibari, perfectly unimpressed.
"But if I beat you," Dino went on, "you'll listen to what I have to say. All of it!" he added, pointing a finger at the other for emphasis. "And you're joining Tsuna's family."
"If you win…"
"And if you win, you're free to go your own merry way and I'll stay off your back, ok? Sounds good?"
"It's you who'll be on your back."
For 9 days absolutely nothing changed and Dino was no closer to breaking the Kyouya-code. He didn't get Hibari at all!
He had seen a lot of bad people – a lot. People who were selfish, greedy, uncaring and very, very cold… They belonged to the mafia, most of them, and, in most cases, it was the mafia that had formed them into the immoral beings they had eventually become.
But he had never in his life met anyone like Hibari Kyouya.
He was ice cold and arrogant and seemed to want nothing except to fight. He rarely smiled, he never laughed, he never seemed unsure of himself and he didn't cry. And he was always armed! Dino had met professional hitmen who were less cautious than this kid. And those weapons of his were another mystery; how on earth had he gotten hold of a pair of collapsible tonfas in Namimori? Were they even legal, he wondered.
Dino decided he liked the rest of the prefects pretty well, though. They reminded him in a way of his own men.
On the second morning when he arrived, filled with renewed resolve, they greeted him with polite nods and ill-concealed curiosity and informed him, quite politely, that even guests were requested to take their shoes off before entering the building. Those were the rules. And two of them actually escorted Dino and Romario upstairs to where Hibari was and announced their arrival in a very official manner before letting them in. Dino felt like he was entering the premises of a king, or a military dictator.
On the third morning one of them politely asked Romario to put out his cigarette. "The chairman doesn't approve of smoking," said the boy solemnly, regarding them with an expression as serious as the grave, as if this little piece of information ought to mean a lot. Also, by then, Kyouya had picked up that Dino was called Bucking Bronco by his men and had added a number of degrading insults to his already colorful vocabulary that revolved primarily around horses. Oh, the creativeness of young minds…!
On the fourth morning, Dino's ribs and shoulders looked like a watercolor painting done by an artist with a deep love for purple, blue and yellow and in addition to Romario, 6 more of his men had come along for moral support even though he hadn't asked them to. His men did things like that sometimes. When they approached the entrance, the prefects stationed there gave each other meaningful looks and took Dino aside to tell him in earnest, insistent whispers that the chairman didn't approve of crowds either (like, really didn't approve, at all) and that perhaps Dino's men could wait someplace else.
That morning Kyouya was already up on the roof waiting for him when he came.
They really seemed loyal, thought Dino and he was amazed. He suddenly had no problem picturing Namimori middle school being ruled by Kyouya's idiosyncratic whims – which was at the same time a horrible and ridiculously funny image, but it made Dino respect him. A leader, he knew, was worth nothing without those who would follow him gladly and unquestionably to the grave. It was the same with Tsuna. In the end it wasn't just his actions, but those of Gokudera and Yamamoto as well that had convinced Dino that the 10th Vongola boss was truly worthy of his albeit unwanted, forced-upon title.
Kyouya clearly deserved his own title as chairman of the disciplinary committee, too.
On the fifth morning, Kusakabe Tetsuya appeared. He was nearly as tall as a full-grown man and, quiet as a shadow, he took up place next to Romario and watched. He stayed all day and he continued to come every day after that.
As the days passed and both Dino and Hibari looked increasingly stubborn and, for lack of a better word: colorful; covered as they were in an increasing number of cuts, bruises and band-aids, Dino's men and Hibari's prefect-underlings became very good friends.
During those days Dino sometimes thought wistfully of Yamamoto's bright smile and eager eyes, of the hesitant yet determined expression on Tsuna's face and of Gokudera, all fired up and bursting with desire to prove himself. And to think, he could have tutored any one of them. Either one or all three at once, and still, he thought, it would undoubtedly have been less difficult, less bloody, less exhausting and less gut-wrenchingly annoying than it was to tutor that little bundle of joy otherwise known to the world as Hibari Kyouya.
He was a terrible and fascinating creature and Dino was infinitely curious about him, increasingly so the more he saw of the boy and his odd, selfish ways. Even though he was a brat…
He told himself that he was doing it for Tsuna and he reminded himself, again and again and again, that the reason why he was doing this – all of this – was to help his poor, unlucky, lovely little pseudo-brother. And for the sake of Tsuna, who was so much like he had been himself once, Dino would endure.
On the 8th day Reborn informed him (with a very smug and very irritating grin) that the battle for the rings – all of them, actually – would be taking place at Namimori middle school. Hibari's dearly beloved territory…
Dino drew a long, deep breath and let it slowly out – ok, time to get creative!
"I thought you loved challenges?"
"Challenges?! Reborn, that kid's a menace!" Dino wedged the cell phone between his ear and shoulder and glanced backwards to see if he was alone. "And he won't listen to me – all he wants to do is fight!"
"Isn't that why you're training him, though?"
"I, well, sure, but – he just keeps coming at you, even after his body's worn out! He won't listen to a word I say, he's tried to throw away the ring twice already and the only reason we're having this conversation right now is because he finally passed out!"
"Excellent! And here I was thinking you weren't making progress. Keep it up, Dino, I'm counting on you. Tsuna is, too!"
Lain with Verdure…
It would perhaps have interested Tsuna and the others to know that while the Cervello were rigging up the Sun Guardians' boxing ring on the roof top of Namimori middle school, Dino had already lured his young student away from the school building. He had not given up. Kyouya hadn't either, but that was cool, Dino would endure – he would not give up.
While Tsuna was wringing his pale little hands nervously, his mind busy with worried thoughts about the Sasagawa siblings, Dino and Hibari were chasing each other around in a lush, green meadow in the fading, dusk-blue light just outside the main part of the city.
As Ryôhei received his first bone-breaking hit, Romario was fishing Dino out from a narrow but quite violent river, and by the time Colonello started to shout encouragements and instructions to his student, Kusakabe was fishing Hibari out of the same river a little further down. Or rather, he started to, but then he received a look from Hibari and abruptly stopped what he was doing.
The banks on the other side were sandy and as Sasagawa Ryôhei became aware of the salty sweat covering his own body and had a brilliant idea, Dino and Hibari were wiping blood and mud off their faces, struggling to gain footing in the slippery sand.
When Ryôhei finally emerged from the battle victoriously and everyone there felt exhausted and excited and very relieved and the Cervello announced who the participants of next upcoming battle would be, Romario was blinking his eyes heavily and a yawning Kusakabe went off to buy them both paper-cup coffees. Their respective bosses showed no sign of being anywhere near close to ending the battle and, as it were, they both felt obliged to stay awake.
While a sleepless Tsuna discovered the 15 year old Lambo in the kitchen, Dino and Hibari were still, in fact, nowhere near finished. And they continued to fight, relentlessly, throughout the entire night. Dino was just vaguely beginning to realize that he didn't have a clue where they were anymore. There was forest. Through the pounding of the rain he could vaguely hear something that might be a waterfall. Nature…
Kyouya and he were both staggering slightly now, their movements becoming more sluggish and less explosive, and yet they continued to keep it up. This boy was amazing.
Romario and Kusakabe went to buy more coffee – though from where, Dino had no idea – and egg and ham sandwiches and rice balls wrapped in plastic. They watched their bosses, cast each other glances, shook their heads and ate their breakfast in silence…
It had to end, of course. They were only human, after all.
When it finally did, they were lunging almost clumsily at each other with slow, heavy, mechanical movements – they had been fighting for so long now that their strike-blow-block-and-parry had become an auto-pilot routine and they were barely aware of what they were doing anymore.
At roughly the same time, not too far from where they were, Tsuna decided to screw the rules and intervene to save Lambo from death by electrocution. As Tsuna reluctantly handed over his own ring as well as Lambo's and witnessed Xanxus' cruel laughter, Dino's by now worn whip tangled itself around Kyouya's by now worn limbs…
"Hah!" Dino looked down at him triumphantly. Around them rain was falling. His eyes were the only two bright pinpricks of cleanness in a face otherwise smeared with mud and dark smudges of blood; his own and Kyouya's. "Gotcha!"
The latter lay by his feet, glaring hatefully and defiantly up at him, his arms and legs tangled together and pinned to his soaked body by the long leather whip. He looked no better.
"That's enough practice for today," said Dino hoarsely, folding his arms. Hibari shook sheaves of thick black hair out of his eyes and scowled. "Until I bite you to death, pony boy, we're not going anywhere." His voice sounded hoarse, too, his vocals thick and slightly discorded. How long was it since they had rested?
"Yes," said Dino placidly, "we are."
And then he simply bent down and picked Hibari up in his arms like a baby, as easily as if he weighed nothing at all, slung him unceremoniously over his shoulder and began to carry him back the way they had come. "And that's 'his royal highness bucking bronco, sir!' to you, by the way," he added. "…brat."
Romario and Kusakabe, both positively beaming at this welcoming turn of events, led them to a nearby inn; one of the traditional Japanese ones that seemed infinitely exotic to Dino, and probably very dull and ordinary to Hibari and Kusakabe. It wasn't too far off from where they had finally ended their little 'training session', which was good, because Dino's legs felt wobbly and the slender form of Hibari Kyouya was thrashing – albeit weakly – in his grip, vainly attempting to kick, head-butt and even bite him. It made Dino feel smug and he toyed with the idea of not untying the boy at all, locking him up in a closet or something for the night instead. Yes, that would have been nice.
The reception area, which was all muted colors and pale wood and Japanese country-side interior, was blissfully empty of people when they arrived.
They made their reservations at the counter to a young woman who at first blushed terribly when Dino spoke to her, but whose face gradually started to look suspicious as she took in their clothes, torn and dirty and soaking wet and realized that there was blood mixed in with the dirt.
Her eyes darted constantly to Hibari's motionless form, which still hung over Dino's shoulder – she thought he was dead, perhaps – until he turned his head around to glare at her past Dino's upper arm and demand in a dignified tone of voice that he get his own room.
He did, of course, and even though he was by far the smallest of them, he somehow ended up with the biggest one. It was right between Dino's and Kusakabe's and straight across the hall from Romario, who had shrugged carelessly and agreed to share the smallest room out of sheer desire to finally get some decent sleep.
Dino unloaded a soaked, freezing cold and shivering Kyouya gently on the tatami floor and untied him from the whip with careful movements, warily so, just in case Hibari decided he wasn't feeling so tired anymore after all. But, for the first time ever, Hibari was behaving like a good boy and he merely observed him with a cold, measured scowl, his pale lips bent in the petulant shape of an upside-down 'v'.
Dino rolled up his whip and looked uncertainly down at him. He felt suddenly, inexplicably awkward. "So, err, you should get some rest," he said. Hibari looked up at him but said nothing. "Oh, and you should probably change your clothes, too," he added. "Or else you'll get sick." He made to leave, but turned his head just as he was exiting the room.
"You really are something, though, Kyouya," he said and suddenly he grinned. "You fight like a man!"
"How flattering, I was just about to say the same thing about you," replied Kyouya, with a small, lop-sided smile – the first Dino had ever seen him make.
Romario closed the door behind him.
Dino had had every intention of stuffing his face with whatever edible object he could get his hands on and then sleep it off like a peaceful corpse for as long as absence of light and sound would allow him, but, of course, it didn't work out that way. It never did. 10th generation mafia bosses didn't have the privilege of such luck, he was learning.
Reborn called him up on his cell while he was struggling out of his T-shirt, and he let Romario fix him up with tiger balm and band-aids while they talked.
"Ciaossu, Dino! Good thinking to lure Hibari away from school."
Dino laughed weakly, "Kyouya is pretty… intimidating. Anyway, I figured he'd go crazy if he knew."
"Hibari Kyouya is the only one we have who is currently close to Varia standard," said Reborn in a serious tone of voice. "But he could ruin everything for us if he went on a rampage. The battle tonight is between the Storm Guardians, by the way," he added. "So I would advise against an early return."
"Oh good," Dino began, breathing a sigh of relief as he did. "Then we can get some sleep and –"
"Better not let him out of your sight, Dino!"
"Err, what? But, Reborn!" Dino whined and threw his arms out, almost knocking the glasses off Romario's face in the process. "I'm dying here!"
"Hibari is extremely well-connected," replied Reborn without sympathy. "And he'll be concerned with the state of affairs at his school when he's not there."
"You mean I have to physically guard-dog that guy until the Cloud battle?!"
"Sure glad it's not my responsibility," said Reborn cheerfully and Dino thought he could hear the smug little smile all the way through the phone. Then he hung up, leaving Dino with a heart-broken expression, staring at the silent phone in his hand with his mouth half-open. He groaned.
Romario, who had heard everything, gave his boss a reassuring pat on the back, where there was still a small area of untainted skin.
Author's note: ok, so that was part I! There will be at least 3. Hope you liked it so far!
Reviews would be EXTREMELY highly appreciated ^_^