All characters © Amano Akira
Reborn decides to indirectly teach Hibari a lesson about the food chain.
"Don't you think you've known Tsuna long enough to stop beating him up, Hibari?"
Hibari Kyouya turned, not surprised in the least to hear that particular voice. That guy was like the Cheshire cat, only more lethal. "Baby," he greeted, gathering his schoolbooks. Sure enough, the kid was ensconced comfortably in the top shelf of Hibari's locker. "And no, the herbivore was in my way."
"You put him in the hospital." No greeting of Ciaossu today, it seemed. Hibari closed his eyes and gave a shrug, signifying that he could care less.
Reborn idly smoothed out the brim of his fedora and hopped down from Hibari's locker, where he'd set up an espresso machine during the school day. "You still don't get it, Hibari," he said. "I would have thought you understood by now, even after traveling into the future."
Hibari looked apathetic, which hardly deviated from his normal expression. "Hn?"
"You're in Tsuna's family whether you like it or not," Reborn answered simply. Someone who was unaccustomed to the baby's expressions would fail to spot the gleam in those black, fishbowl eyes. "He is no longer weak. You talk of herbivores and carnivores Hibari, but by now you should see that there is no such thing as an apex predator. It seems as if I'll have to refresh your memory."
This last sentence caught Hibari's attention more than the kid's expression had. Even Reborn, usually blunt and succinct, could sometimes talk too much, and Hibari had begun to wonder how much longer he would go on. His breath stopped with the promise of a long-waited opportunity. "Are you saying you will fight me?" he asked.
Reborn smirked. He held out his arm as Leon crawled across it, chittering, and said, "I don't think so." Hibari scowled.
"Come to Namimori tonight Hibari, and I'll show you something you need to see." Reborn paused, considering to himself. "The weather should be propitious." And with a leap out of the nearest window he had gone, leaving Hibari to wonder what incursion lay ahead.
Green met blue, clashing in a confusing, yet unblinking sea.
Hibari stared into the eyes of five year old Lambo Bovino, who stood atop the roof of the empty middle school. There was no one else present. The sky was tenebrous, rolling with thick clouds that occasionally belched a rumble of thunder in the distance.
Even Lambo had enough sense to cower in Hibari's presence. All of his characteristic ebullience had evaporated, leaving only a child standing alone under the darkening sky. He shivered in his spotted pajamas, bottom lip wibbling. "H-Hibari?"
Hibari had no idea what this herbivorous brat was doing in his school, but he would establish order. The tonfa slid out, blending coolly into the gray atmosphere. "Leave, or I'll bite you to death," he warned. Now the snot-machine really did begin to cry, but it wasn't that incessant wailing that he usually did. At least that spared Hibari the headache.
"R-R-Reborn t-told me to g-give you this so I c-c-can get cookies," Lambo hitched, holding out a slip of paper to Hibari. The other hand was in his mouth as he sucked loosely on his thumb. "He s-said to give it to me." Confused, Hibari took the letter, opening it. While he was reading what was written inside, Lambo had taken out an all-too familiar lavender cannon from inside his thick bundle of hair.
Hibari looked up at the sudden poof and expulsion of smoke to see a boy about his age standing in front of him, one eye lazily shut. The boy was similar in looks, but his hair was more nitid, his skin olive-colored. "Yare, yare," the boy sighed. "Hello, Cloud Guardian."
Although he was not well acquainted with the future Lambo, Hibari was familiar enough with the Ten Year Bazooka to know what had just happened. His annoyance was only curbed by the fact that these were the baby's instructions, and, without a word, he handed the slip of paper to Lambo.
" 'Use the Ten Year Bazooka and fight Hibari Kyouya. --R.' ," Lambo read aloud. A clap of thunder punctuated his words, and the first patters of a light rain began to fall. "Well if it's coming from Reborn, I guess there's no choice." With a sigh and a shrug, Lambo took one last look at Hibari, then popped the bazooka over his head.
Ah, what was this feeling, this prickling at the base of his spine like dew creeping down a leaf?
Rainfall, escalating. Heavy thick air, charged and hot and almost impossible to breathe in. The ground was soaked dark, wet with many substances that blended in a churned mess beneath him.
The sound of footfalls approaching way too quickly.
The clap of thunder from some leviathan in the sky, the roar of a voice, the painful burning. Charred skin blistering and excoriating from his hands, elbows. The speed, the blindness. It was too much. An engulfing bane of light, a horrible lassitude that sent a stitch through his ribs. More burning, then the spasmodic jerks began, unable to stop.
Oh, right, he had forgotten. It was fear.
Hibari knew this all too well as the punitive Disciplinary Prefect: some people chose to learn the easy way, others the hard way. It infuriated him to realize that he too fell under those herbivorous classifications. And now, for the second time in his life, he knew what it felt like to be the hunted.
"It was nothing."
"You don't have to lie to me, Hibari. Rather, you can't," Reborn said, and meant it. He was a hitman, a pundit in the art of reading people. "What was it really like?" he asked again. As if he wasn't there on the rooftop all along that day, watching from the wet shadows.
He wasn't expecting an answer so easily, so Reborn only smiled when Hibari remained silent. "It was terrifying, right? You were no match despite your talent, and you could have easily died." Hibari only averted his gaze in response, scratching at a small healing scrape on his neck. He had others similar to that all over his body, as well as fading burns and muscle strains from the storm last week. Physical pain was easily tolerable, but the humiliation--that was beyond what Hibari could bear. It had been a while since his defeat at the hands of Rokudo Mukuro, but the same feeling squirted up, fresh and acerbic, in the back of his mouth.
"The Lambo of now is nothing more than an idiotic cow that cries for milk instead of drawing it from his own udders," Reborn continued, "But you saw what a few decades did to him. That was a killer."
A carnivore. Hibari knew it well. That rapacious, green look in his eyes had been one of murderous intent, devoid of doubt, fear, or innocence. The Thunder Guardian would have devoured him too, if they had been fighting seriously.
"I think Tsuna will be the first true omnivore the mafia's seen in years," Reborn added, knowing that once upon a time Dino had said the exact same thing to Hibari. He blinked, staring at the boy more intently. "You do realize what I'm trying to tell you?"
And Hibari, returning the gaze with turbid blue eyes, said, "The weak can become strong. Like Sawada Tsunayoshi. Like the Bovino."
Reborn smiled, satisfied. "The axiom of mafias all," he said.