Sawada Tsunayoshi was a small child. At five-years-old, he barely reached his mother's knee. But he was also blessed with irresistibly cute looks. Coupled with his saccharine sweet voice, people often mistook him for a girl. It really didn't help that Nana liked to buy him girl's clothes. He never wore them (in public) of course. But it certainly didn't help his manhood either.
Which is why the poor boy often cried at the sight of... well, just about everything. The neighbor's chihuahua, the spider in the bathroom, the lizzard in his bedroom, the live crab from the market, even the bird in the backyard tree was not spared from Tsuna's terror.
Nana sighed worriedly, watching as Tsuna ran up to his bedroom. His plate left untouched, still loaded with freshly-cooked crab.
"Mou, Papa what are we going to do with Tsu-chan?"
Sawada Iemitsu swallowed thoughtfully, tapping his chin with his chopsticks. "What do you mean, Nana-chan?"
"I can't take Tsu-chan to the market without him clinging to my leg. It gets very hard to walk."
"He's just shy. I'm sure he'll grow out of it!"
"But Papa, Tsu-chan is genuinely scared of everything! What if he never grows out of it?"
Iemitsu crossed his arms, brows furrowing. "Well... Then why don't we take him to a daycare center?"
Nana blinked. "A daycare center?"
"Yeah! It's a great idea! If we expose Tsuna to the outside world more, he'll learn to stop being scared! Right?"
"Oh, but Papa. Tsu-chan is still so little. Are you sure he can stand being all by himself?"
"That's the whole point, Nana-chan! He can learn! And..." Iemitsu took Nana's hands in his, staring lovingly into her eyes. "...We can go somewhere far away, just you and me. Together."
Nana blushed, giggling shly. "Oh, Papa!"
And with that it was settled. Tsuna was to go to Namimori Daycare first thing in the morning.
To the total and complete horror of little Tsu-chan.
Tsu-chan had never left his mommy's side before. He had always been but a few feet away, and not an inch further. To have mommy be so far off that he couldn't see her anymore was a scary thought. Tsu-chan didn't like it one bit, not one itty-bitty bit. And he was going to prove it.
The very next day, as the morning star rose over the sleeping Namimori, the Sawada household was already alive with screaming. And kicking. And crying. As little Tsu-chan made his feelings explicitly clear. He didn't want to go. He wasn't going. He will never want to go. And you can't make him.
So, Papa made him.
Iemitsu simply tossed the howling boy over his shoulder and hauled him into the car.
Nana worried her lip, doubts creeping in. But Iemitsu assured her, Tsuna could only be benefitting. Building character and all that.
Tsu-chan refused to give up, continuing his wailing as his father broke several traffic laws racing to the Daycare. They arrived in record speed. And with a kiss, and a hug, and a well-balanced lunch, Tsuna's parents left in record speed. Leaving little Tsu-chan, alone, to fend for himself in the nightmare that was Namimori Daycare. Tsu-chan shivered, eyes rolling back.
"Move out of the way, idiot. You're blocking the path."
Tsu-chan stopped in mid-faint as he turned to face the voice.
The boy was older than him, around two years older. He was certainly taller, by at least a head. But then again everyone was taller than Tsu-chan. He had sharp-grey eyes that made Tsu-chan wanna cry. And the ugliest, scariest scowl Tsu-chan had ever seen.
Tsu-chan didn't like this boy. Not one bit.
"I said move. Are you deaf?" The boy hissed.
"Hiii!" With a frightened squeak, Tsu-chan ran away.
Tsuna was found by his teacher, a nice enough man with a grandfatherly air. He was gentle and quiet as he coaxed Tsuna from his huddled hiding spot in the corner. But he did make Tsuna stand in front of the class, introducing him. After a few heart-stopping seconds of all his classmates staring at him, Tsuna was allowed to take a seat.
Every table seemed to be full.
The teacher, sensing the young boy's dilemma, spotted an empty seat way in the back of the class. He chuckled before bending down to Tsuna's level.
"There. At the back of the room, do you see it?"
Tsu-chan shook his head pitifully.
The teacher hummed. "Hibari Kyoya, please raise your hand."
Nobody moved. Tsu-chan whimpered. Just as he thought, nobody wanted to sit with him.
"Hibari-san. Your hand?" The teacher repeated with a little more force.
There was a hiss of a sigh and a hand reluctantly raising.
The teacher smiled, slowly inching Tsuna forward. "There you go. Play nice both of you."
Tsu-chan nodded vigorously, toddling over to the raised hand. His legs shaking as the class followed his every move.
Poor boy, they thought. Having to sit next to Hibari-san, surely he would be beaten.
But Tsuna was not a mind-reader. All he knew was that they were staring at him and it was making him nervous. So nervous that he ended up tripping over his own feet, landing with a deafeaning thump. The entire class blinked as Tsuna laid awkwardly on the floor, his belongings spread all around him. His little act of clumsiness breaking the tension, and laughter followed.
Tsu-chan could feel his cheeks burning with shame.
The teacher rushed to helped the poor boy up. Half-carrying Tsuna to his seat and quickly depositing him beside Hibari. He ruffled Tsuna's hair before returning to the front, calling his class to order.
Hibari took one look at his new seatmate. His new, snivelling, blushing, pathetic seatmate.
Tsu-chan flinched, tears clouding his sight. But he spoke not a word, merely sitting there bearing it all.
Five minutes in and he already hated Daycare.
Only he would have the luck to not only humiliate himself in front of everyone. Not the best first impression to say the least. But he was also sitting next to that scary boy he met at the door. All in the first five minutes. It couldn't get any worse. There was just no way it could get worse.
It got worse.
For the most part, as the teacher reviewed their numbers, Hibari was quiet. He continued to glare heatedly at Tsu-chan, but he didn't insult Tsu-chan anymore. Well, out loud. And for that Tsu-chan was grateful. And everything was going well, even if Tsuna wasn't really learning anything. It was kinda hard to focus when there was a menacing killer-intent right beside you.
But then, snack time rolled around. The kids standing up and moving to eat with their friends. Tsu-chan had no friends to eat with. But neither could he stand wasting another life-threatening moment with Hibari. So, Tsu-chan moved.
He found a nice isolated corner, between the bookshelf and the toy chest. Except it wasn't isolated enough. As he unwrapped his mommy's world-famous onigiri, a group of boys carefully eyed him.
"Hey, runt. That's a good-looking lunch you got there." A big, burly boy sidled up to Tsuna. He was pockmarked with dirt, with clothes torn in several places. Bandaids made an 'X' on his cheek and he was missing two, front teeth. An overall cruel appearance with an overall cruel intention.
Tsu-chan shivered. "Ts-Tsu-chan's mommy m-m-made it..."
"Oh really? Is that so?" The boy grinned. Tsu-chan did not like that grin. "Well, it would be a waste to eat it all by yourself, right? Good food should be shared, right?"
Tsu-chan swallowed, nodding fearfully.
The boy's grin only grew wider. Tsu-chan wanted to run and hide but between the bookshelf and the toy chest and the boy in front of him, Tsu-chan was trapped.
"Then don't mind if I do!"
Without much of a warning, the boy wrenched the pack of onigiri from Tsuna's hands. Swiftly making his way back to the rest of his group, cackling all the while.
"A-ah! Wait!" Tsuna cried, scrambling to catch up to the boy.
The teacher had gone to the office (for one second, just one). He needed to make copies of a permission slip. The Daycare had finally approved his idea of taking the kids to a nearby strawberry farm, and now, all he needed was the parents' consent. He promised to be back shortly. But shortly wasn't short enough. When you leave kids, when you leave four-six-year-old kids, alone in a room together... Chaos was bound to erupt.
Tsuna, in his desperate attempt to catch the onigiri thief, tripped once more. Over his untied shoelaces this time. In this case, it did Tsuna more good than harm as he ended up fallling on his onigiri thief, bringing the bigger boy down with him. They collapsed, a tangled mess on the floor. The onigiri thrown to the side.
Tsuna frantically tried to scramble off the onigiri thief, but it was too late. The damage was done.
"Hiii!" Tsuna shrieked, crawling backwards. "Tsu-chan is-Tsu-chan is s-s-sorry!"
The onigiri thief glared at him, rising to his feet and towering over poor Tsu-chan. "Oh. So that's how you wanna play, huh?"
"N-no! No! Tsu-chan doesn't want to play! Tsu-chan doesn't want to play!" Tsuna shook his head wildly.
The boy cracked his knuckles, leering at Tsuna. His friends quickly assembling behind him. "Then, let's play."
"Hiiiii!" Tsuna cried, curling into a ball.
The entire class was divided into two. One who cheered the commotion, chanting 'fight, fight, fight'. The second, a more cool, considerate lot, frowning on such behavior but not lifting a finger to stop it. And then there was Hibari.
Tsuna didn't even see the boy move. All Tsuna saw was that one moment, he was caught in this flurry of punches and kicks and elbows. And the next, Hibari was standing before him, a collapsable umbrella held tightly in his hand. A myraid of broken, moaning survivors collapsed at his feet.
"You disturbed my nap." He stated simply.
Everyone was effectively silenced, for fear of turning Hibari's wrath towards them. They cleared the area, returning to their previous activities with forced enthusiasm.
Hibari then turned to Tsuna, his heated glare landing on the battered boy. In his eyes, Tsuna was just as guilty for causing the commotion. Being so weak, he was just asking for it!
Hibari readied his umbrella. "You're-!"
But to Hibari's surprise, instead of cowering in fear of him, Tsuna got up and hugged him. Hugged him! Hugged him! Him! Hibari Kyouya! Of all the foolish things to do, this by far took the cake.
Tsuna looked up at Hibari, eyes shining with tears. "Th-Thank you for s-saving Tsu-chan!"
Hibari pushed the smaller boy away, immediately feeling the loss of warmth. "Che. What makes you think I'm saving you? You were being too noisy and disturbing the peace."
Tsuna merely smiled.
Hibari twitched, falling back into position. "I'll beat-!"
"Class! I'm back and-holy! What in the world happened here?" The teacher cried, returning from his office run. His eyes landing on the pile of wounded students and immediately sought the eye of the storm. He found Hibari standing idly in the midst of it all. Putting two and two together...
"Hibari! What is the meaning of this? Did you beat up these kids?" The teacher accused.
Hibari crossed his arms, refusing to answer.
"Hibari! Tell me or I am calling your parents!"
"Hibari-san didn't mean it!" Tsuna piped up, standing in front of Hibari. Much to Hibari's surprise.
The teacher rose one skeptic brow. "And what makes you say that, Sawada-san?"
"Hibari-san was-Hibari-san was just k-keeping the peace! The-The boys were making lots of noise and-and making a-a mess! Hibari-san was only stopping them!" Tsuna explained.
The teacher was taken aback. "Is this true?"
"Yes!" A little girl in the back vouched for Tsuna. "The-The boys were being bad! Hibari-san did nothing wrong!"
"Well... if Sasagawa-san says so..." The teacher sighed in defeat. "Fine! Fine! But Hibari! If I catch you misbehaving one more time, I will call your parents."
Tsuna smiled in relief, sending the girl, Sasagawa Kyoko, a grateful look. Kyoko smiled back and Tsu-chan blushed. She was really cute.
Hibari huffed, wordlessly returning to his seat. Tsu-chan pouted. Hibari was so... cold. Nonetheless, Tsuna began to follow suit, heading for his chair before a thought struck him.
Running back, he dutifully picked up his fallen onigiri. Luckily, one was saved from meeting a squished death-by-floor. Tsuna grinned, maybe his luck was finally turning.
Going back to his seat, Tsuna divided his last onigiri in half, keeping one for himself and giving the other to Hibari.
Hibari stared at the offered treat. "What makes you think I would want a fallen onigiri?"
"For saving Tsu-chan." Tsuna elaborated.
Hibari made no move to accept it, only continuing to stare. "You didn't tell the teacher I saved you."
"Hibari-san wouldn't want Tsu-chan to say that. Because Hibari-san didn't save Tsu-chan."
"So why are you giving me onigiri, you just said-!"
"Because! Even if Hibari-san didn't mean it, Hibari-san still stopped those boys from hurting Tsu-chan more! And for that Tsu-chan is... um..."
Tsu-chan beamed, his entire expression lighting up. "Yeah, that's it. Gwateful!"
Hibari rolled his eyes, looking away from Tsuna. "Keep your onigiri."
Tsu-chan deflated, his shoulders sagging. Disappointment coiling in his chest. He just wanted to show Hibari-san his appreciation...
"Your mom made those onigiri right? She would want you to eat it." Hibari continued, resting his chin on his palm.
Tsuna blinked before he burst into quiet giggles. His tiny laughter causing Hibari to face him.
"What's so funny?"
"Hibari-san is really nice. Even if he doesn't like to show it. Tsu-chan can tell."
Hibari scowled. "You're a strange one."
"Hibari-san is pretty strange too." Tsuna smiled. "But Tsu-chan doesn't mind. Because Tsu-chan likes Hibari-san."
Hibari turned away, his cheeks flushing. "If I take the stupid onigiri will you shut up?"
Tsuna nodded. "Yup!"
Hibari sighed, swiping the snack from Tsuna's hands and popping it into his mouth. He chewed it carefully.
"It's good..." Hibari conceded.
Tsuna giggled again, causing Hibari's cheeks to heat up once more.
Maybe... Maybe Daycare wasn't so bad after all.
"Hey! You two in the back! Pay attention, please!" The teacher called, tapping his chalk against the board.
Before long it was time to go home, and surprisingly Tsu-chan felt a little sad. Sure, today didn't have the best of starts. But at the end... At the end...
His parents came to meet Tsuna at the door. Tsu-chan quickly ran into his mother's open arms, unaware of the piercing stare following him.
"How was your day, Tsu-chan?" Nana inquired, embracing her little boy.
Tsuna blinked, pausing in thought.
Then he beamed, wrapping his thin arms tighter around Nana.
"It wasn't so bad. Tsu-chan missed mommy and daddy. But Tsu-chan won't mind coming back again. Tsu-chan made a friend!"
"What did I tell you, Nana?" Iemitsu laughed, slinging an arm around his wife. "Building character!"
"Well, if Tsu-chan doesn't mind it. Then I won't either." Nana agreed.
Iemitsu ruffled Tsuna's hair. "Good job, Tsuna! You're becoming a big boy, aren't you?"
Tsuna yelped, protesting his father's affections.
"C'mon, you two! The car is waiting. Time to go home!" Iemitsu grinned, heading out the door.
"Home! Home! Home!" Tsuna chanted happily.
Behind him, studying the Sawada family carefully, Hibari watched Tsuna smile and laugh with his parents. An unknown feeling bubbling in his chest.
A/N: Um, so Hibari isn't calling anyone 'herbivore' just yet. And, Tsu-chan will stop calling himself Tsu-chan next chapter... after Hibari forces him too.
Edit: 9/16/10- Changed sun to morning star.