"Amen," Iemitsu murmured, finishing the prayer.
"Amen," Timoteo echoed, lowering the rosary.
Nana remained silent. She was stiff as a statue with hands still tightly clasped. She bore an uncanny resemblance to an effigy of the Virgin Mary.
They were deep in the countryside now. Farms stretched as far as the eye could see, interrupted only by the occasional barn or shanty. It was nearing summer, the harvest season, and it showed. The rice paddies were a lush green. Golden grains reached for the skies. Ripe orchards practically begged to be picked. The weather had cleared up nicely, nothing but wide, open blue from one horizon to the other. It was breathtaking scenery, but under the circumstances, they could've been driving through a barren wasteland for all the difference it made.
In truth, Nana would've preferred driving through a barren wasteland. At least then, the setting would match her feelings. Looking out into the sun-drenched fields, the picture perfect scenery just seemed to mock her. Normally, Nana was a bright, optimistic woman with a compassionate heart and a rose-colored outlook on life. But how could the world be so wonderful, so happy, when her son was out there? In the clutches of some depraved madman and...
How could this happen? What did she do to deserve this? It was almost like a dream, a nightmare. Surely, this wasn't her life.
Nana choked back a sob, her hands curling into fists.
She could endure misfortune and hardship with a smile.
But this? Now, that's just not fair.
It wasn't just her Tsunayoshi either. Hibari-kun was there too. She had yet to decide if that was a good or bad thing. The cold, calculating boy could certainly handle himself well and fare better in the face of an imminent threat. But somewhere along the way, in the precious few months she had known him, Hibari Kyouya became like a second son to her. No... not "like." He is a second son to her.
And if nothing else, Sawada Nana was a mother. Motherhood has been and still is the single most defining stage in her life. Her family was all she had and all she was. Being a mom made up the very core of her identity, overshadowing her past and building the bulk of her future. If she lost her boys... if she lost her boys...
"Nana," Iemitsu whispered, breaking through the tense silence, his voice a balm on her tumultuous thoughts. "Nana, the boys will be fine. We're bringing them both home, alive and safe."
And Nana could only nod. Because the alternative was just too much to bear.
The van sped its way down the increasingly primitive roads till only dirt paved the path. They were close, just another fifteen minutes till they arrived at the Tokinawa farm. The 3 hour trip cut in half by Iemitsu's unorthodox driving. Not that anyone was complaining (except for the raccoon plastered on the van's front bumper, but he was dead, so he didn't count). Yet as they approached the last crossroads, a yellow blur darted out in front of the vehicle.
It took all of Iemitsu's honed reflexes to stop the van before the yellow blur became a yellow splat on his windshield.
The unidentified flying object quickly revealed itself to be Tsubird, a frantic Tsubird. She had worked herself into a tizzy, chirping only one word.
"Tsuna! Tsuna! Tsuna!"
Tsubird's arrival was punctuated by the appearance of Tokinawa, driving into the scene. She looked half-mad, worried out of her wits. She took one look at the van, along with its occupants, and breathed a bone-crushing sigh of relief.
"Thank all deities I found you guys! There are some kids trapped in a warehouse. One of them was kidnapped and the other is just insane, maybe a little in love. And you have no idea how glad I am to see you guys. Man, do I need your help!"
And before Tokinawa could speak any further, Iemitsu cut her off, feeling his wife and boss tense behind him. She had spoken all she needed to say.
He revved the engine. "Lead the way."
Shi was in pain. Admittedly, it was not a state he was unfamiliar with. Due to his, uh, disposition, he often encountered... mishaps. However, the current pain was on a whole other level. His skin still sizzled from the impact, his face forever branded by that searing hot tonfa.
He supposed he should be angry. But it was a brilliant move and Shi commended the boy's quick thinking. He was never much of a looker anyways. Besides, now he had a new plaything.
Hibari Kyouya... The kid had a little fight in him. Shi liked that.
Hibari was even more fun than the precious one. Oh, but he must be patient. The precious one would bear fruit–sweet, sweet fruit. He just needed to wait a while. He was good at waiting.
But of course, it was fine to have a little appetizer. Why not? When such a delightful bird flew into his lap, why resist?
Hmmm, the precocious boy should've gotten a decent head start by now.
So, grabbing his trusty bone saw, Shi stood, albeit slowly, his legs unsteady beneath him. His vision was a bit clouded. The thick smoke was spreading everywhere, with no outlet nearby. The slight asphyxiation wasn't really helping his balance either.
Still, he managed somehow, bursting out the door. The rotting plank of wood nearly torn from its rusty hinges. Not that it really mattered. It would all soon be firewood.
Shi smiled, relishing the heat from the flames behind him. It was too bad all his "art" was destroyed. But he consoled himself with the thought that he would see the real thing soon. It couldn't be too long now.
But first, where could his new toy have run off to?
Shi laughed a little before walking in some aimless direction. The warehouse was his playground, his territory. He knew it better than the back of his hand. He would find the little skylark soon. Hibari Kyouya can run, but he can't hide.
Behind him, the fire grew larger.
Hibari Kyouya, known as the strongest, scariest kid in Namimori Daycare, was running. Not just running, he was fleeing from those eyes, that laugh, the bloodlust threatening to pull him under.
It was not an act he would share, if he was the bragging-crowding type. If he was a character from a novel, the author would be accused of OOC. Yet at the same time, Hibari could not bring himself to stop.
He could fool himself and think he was simply searching for Sawada Tsunayoshi. And he was, really. But there was honest fear in his madly racing heart.
Hibari was used to being top dog, to beating everyone in his path. But he had been cornered. He had been lured and trapped–like some herbivore. Though no herbivore would fight back as he did. And landing that one devastating move, watching that creep writhe in agony, almost made up for the mind-fucking. Almost.
Looking back, he should've followed up, kept the blows coming. But he was panicking. He had been pushed back, just a hairsbreadth away from sure death... and he panicked. So weak.
It wasn't as if he left the skirmish unscathed either. All that work for one good hit, a very good hit, left him with a burned hand. A second, if not third degree, burn that stung something awful. Keeping the heated weapon on hand probably wasn't helping his injury. But the only means to pry away his tonfas was to tear them from his cold, dead hands. Of course, it would never come to that.
Still, he wouldn't be using his right hand soon. He was now handicapped, exhausted, and still with no idea where Sawada Tsunayoshi is. Well, at least some things don't change.
Coming to an eventual halt, Hibari collapsed against the nearby wall. His knees caved beneath him as he sunk to the floor. He had calmed considerably, the adrenaline flushed from his system. Yet now, he was all too aware of how much pain he was actually in. Every muscle abused to their absolute limit. He was officially at the end of his rope.
If he was a lesser man, he would've quit right then and there, turned tail and just left. No foolish, naive herbivore was worth all the effort.
Somewhere, out there in the unyielding unknown, that child was huddled, scared. Alone in the oppressive darkness, that child must be terrified. He was most likely crying... and he was most likely hurt.
The idea of Sawada Tsunayoshi in pain just didn't sit right with Hibari.
He was a foolish and naive herbivore, but he was Hibari's foolish and naive herbivore. Only Hibari was allowed to cause him pain. And he didn't even like sharing, lashing out at anyone who dared suggest it. But to steal from him? May God have mercy on your soul.
The next time he meets Shi, and there will be a next time, Hibari will bite him to death. That creep will rue the day he ever messed with Hibari Kyouya's possessions. He will know once and for all who was the top carnivore around here.
Hibari smirked excitedly. If nothing else, it would prove to be an interesting battle. At last, an opponent worthy of testing his skills. He tightened both hands on his tonfas, staunchly ignoring the pain. Oh, he couldn't wait.
Using the wall for support, he rose to his feet once more. Grim determination settled in his very bones as he began to amble away. He didn't know where he was going, but he was going.
He will find Sawada Tsunayoshi. And if Hibari said he would do something, then come hell or high water, Hibari would. He will find the herbivore. And then beat the ever living daylights out of him for putting Hibari through all this mess.
So, he walked on...
... two all too familiar eyes watching his every move.
The fire had done a good job lighting up the warehouse. With better vision, Shi had easily found the skylark. Oh, he knew he would. Yet now, he had actually done it. He never had any doubts. But ah, it looked as if the birdie was close to his breaking point. That was too bad. But the kid was only six? Seven? It was to be expected.
Still, what a let down.
Perhaps he could have a little fun with him. After all, it didn't look like the skylark noticed him yet. Maybe with the right push, Shi could get the boy's blood pumping. Yesssss...
A plan firmly in mind, he crouched. Biding his time, tensing his muscles, before pouncing on the unsuspecting prey. Bonesaw at the ready, he aimed for one clean swipe across the neck-
-only to meet the cool steel of a tonfa.
Shi smiled. A little fight, indeed.
Something had changed in the boy, something significant. There was anger in his eyes, but also hunger and, unless Shi was mistaken, joy. There was no mistaking the spark of glee that shone in those frosty-blue eyes as he met Shi head on, metal against metal. Sparks flying, illuminating, if only for a brief moment, the satisfied grin on that small mouth.
And Shi cackled, pushing away from the boy no taller than his waist. A kindred spirit! It just kept getting better and better.
The fire grew taller now. It had found a decent fuel source, and with its heat drying the damp, it ensured more to come. The rain couldn't have picked a better time to stop.
"You will not catch me off guard again. I am not so pathetic as to fall for the same trick twice," Hibari sneered, falling into an offensive stance. He all but ignored the approaching flames. The sole threat was grinning maniacally before him.
"I wasn't expecting you to," Shi replied pleasantly. "I've never been one for sneak attacks. I prefer full frontal assaults. Don't you?"
Hibari's lips curled as he dashed forward. Using his height to his advantage, he got under Shi's reach and targeted the throat. But the kidnapper possessed fast reflexes and all too easily parried the blow.
"Do you truly wish to fight me had on? I do believe you're one weapon short," Shi taunted. He knew full well that Hibari burned his right hand.
But Hibari was unfazed. "You're going to need that handicap."
He even smirked before smashing his right elbow into Shi's solar plexus. The air knocked out of his lungs, Shi doubled over.
But the man was not to be taken lightly. He lived to fight; the stronger the opponents, the better. He had experienced harsher, heavier hits. Because for all the skill and aptitude Hibari had, the kid was still a kid. No taller than his waist, all bone and no brawn, Shi could easily overpower him.
And he did.
With his free hand, he grabbed hold of Hibari's shirt collar and proceeded to lift the boy off the floor, pinning him to the wall. His knuckles pressed hard against the kid's adam apple.
It was getting hotter now. Due to the warehouse's design, there were few avenues for the fire to escape, turning the entire building into a veritable oven.
"Face it, my gentle skylark. In a battle of strengths, your puny, twig arms are no match against me." Shi smiled as sweat dripped down his nose.
Bringing up the bonesaw, he let the sharp teeth just sit on that slim white neck. He added just a hint of pressure. His senses going wild as a bead of blood bloomed on the pale skin.
"Good thing my legs are stronger," Hibari whispered, absolute loathing burning in those icy irises.
It was the sole warning Shi received as Hibari reared back. Leaning heavily against the wall, he drew both knees up and proceeded to slam both feet into the kidnapper's chest. His twin hits landed right below the ribcage, in the hollow between the bones and stomach.
Shi's body involuntarily curled backwards, releasing the boy. But Hibari did not stop there. Landing on the ground in a crouch, he delivered a clean sweep behind Shi's knees, causing the already unbalanced man to topple right over.
His head slammed against the unforgiving concrete and he saw stars. That brief flash of pain was all Hibari needed. Discarding a tonfa, he used his good hand to wrench away the bonesaw. Then, straddling Shi's chest, the boy pointed the weapon right between the kidnapper's eyes.
The fire had spread everywhere now. A thick curtain of smoke hung heavily in the stale air. The flames surrounding the two fighters, inching alarmingly close. Not that Hibari cared. He wasn't leaving till he got back what Shi stole.
"Where is Sawada Tsunayoshi?" Hibari hissed, prodding Shi with the saw's blunt edge.
But if Shi was intimidated, he certainly didn't show it. "Ooh, I kept him locked up nice and neat, yes, I did! He's incubating right now, musn't disturb him, oh no."
"What did you do to him?" Hibari pressed, using the saw's teeth now. He drew a thin line down the man's forehead, watching with satisfaction as the cut bled a little. He meant business and he was going to make sure the fucker understood.
"Hihihihi." Shi sighed. The little skylark thought he had fangs. How adorable. Nonetheless, he answered. "I told him you were dead. I told him his family was dead. He despaired, such sweet, sweet sorrow."
"Sawada Tsunayoshi is weak right now, yes, he is. But in the wake of anguish, the fanned flames of anger shall consume him! He will rise again, brightly burning, power incarnate! Completely... reborn. And it will be glorious!"
No longer capable of witholding his fury, not even bothering with the bonesaw, Hibari used his injured hand and punched Shi's mutilated face. "Sick bastard!"
Yet Shi only laughed his mad, hysterical laugh. "Aah, but you are the same as me. I can see it in your eyes, the truth cannot be hidden. You thirst for battle as I thirst. You crave for the same power I crave. You hunger for that thrill of crushing the weak underfoot. When I look at you, Hibari Kyouya, I look into a mirror."
Hibari drew away as if burnt. "Shut up! I'm not like you! I'm not! Shut up! Shut. Up!"
"Maybe not now, not yet. But soon, someday soon. We are not so different, you and I."
It was a brief moment of vulnerability, a split second when all of Hibari's thought processes came to screeching halt and he could only stare in abject horror at the man before him.
Shi smirked. Taking advantage of the boy's shock, he lifted his torso off the floor, simultaneously causing Hibari to fall backwards. The tables were turned. Hibari was now flat on his back as the kidnapper loomed over him, thick hands wrapping around his neck.
"Hihihihihi! Well, this was fun. I had a blast, didn't you? But I think it's someone's bedtime~! So do me a favor, my little skylark, and go nightie night!" Shi grunted, tightening his hold.
Hibari gasped, his breath cut short. Black spots dotting his vision as he weakened beneath Shi's grasp. But he couldn't die here! Not by this pervert's hand!
He still had the bonesaw. He could feel the handle's weight on his palm. Summoning the last of his strength, he lifted his arm off the floor. This fight was going to end, once and for all.
With his last breath, Hibari spat into Shi's eye, whispering, "Herbivore, I'll bite you to death."
And he swung the saw, aiming for the kidnapper's neck. It didn't have much force, but it would cut deep enough to bleed, bleed until there was nothing left. It was a kill shot.
But before the gleaming teeth could land, an orange blur rocketed across his vision. It knocked Shi off, releasing Hibari from the chokehold.
Taking deep lungfuls of air, he glared at the cause of the interruption.
Timoteo, with his staff ablaze, looked down at the heaving child, quirking a brow. "You know, most would be grateful to be rescued."
Hibari wiped the left over spit dribbling down his chin. "I had a handle on it."
Eyeing the kidnapper lying limp several meters away, Timoteo smiled wryly. The man was no longer a threat. Timoteo had broken his neck, not enough as to completely cut the spinal cord but enough to affect his breathing. The man only had a few minutes, four at the most, and there was nothing anybody could do about it.
"Consider it a favor, little one. You are still far too young to have blood on your hands."
The boy followed his line of sight. Yet the smoke already obscured the crumpled form. Hopefully, it would be years, many years, before this little one stared death in the face.
"Hibari, are you alright–Oh my god!" Iemitsu shouted, suddenly storming into the scene. He was brandishing a gun. It looked all too fitting in his hands.
Hibari wondered if he should be disturbed by that. Iemitsu was supposed to be a construction worker, yet the man wielded the weapon naturally. Then again, he always knew Iemitsu wasn't all that he appeared to be. His friend, the old man with the lit up cane, certainly didn't help his case any.
"You're hurt!" Iemitsu continued, taking a knee beside Hibari.
Once a fool, always a fool.
"Did someone try to choke you? And you're hand!" The blond idiot fussed as he invaded Hibari's personal space.
That was a big no no. Shoving Iemitsu aside, Hibari got to his feet. "Get away from me, you fool!"
"Please, you two, we have no time for this," Timoteo cut in coolly. "The building has but a few minutes, give or take, before it starts caving in. "
"Forgive me, Timoteo," Iemitsu murmured before turning to Hibari once more. "Kid, do you know where Tsuna is?"
Hibari stiffened, pursing his lips and refusing to look Iemitsu in the eye. So this is what failure tasted like. Funny, it tastes like ash.
Iemitsu sighed but grinned in what he hoped was comforting manner. Hibari just thought he looked constipated.
"Hey, it's alright. We'll find him. Don't beat yourself up. You've done all you could."
Hibari growled. "Why does everyone keep telling me that? I haven't done everything I could! Sawada Tsunayoshi is still missing, isn't he? Until he has been found, I still have something I can do, don't I?"
"Stop calling me that! I'm not a kid!"
"You're right. You never were. But you are still young, and believe it or not, Hibari, you have limits!"
"Gentlemen!" Timoteo broke in, his cane tapping the ground. "I believe I may know where Tsunayoshi is."
"Where?" The two cried in unison.
At least the fire was good for something. The entirety of the warehouse was now visible, allowing Timoteo to see what needed to be seen.
Waving his hand, he indicated at the furthest wall, to four closed, heavyset doors. They were the entrances to the freezer rooms, where farmers would've stored the more easily spoiled crops. They were completely sealed, to keep the cold in. They were also the perfect cages.
"I'll go with you," Hibari immediately announced.
Before Iemitsu could speak, Timoteo acquiesced. "It will be safer this way."
"Safer?" Iemitsu yelled, wondering–not for the first time–if his boss had gone senile.
"Yes. We'll go ahead while you take care of our little friend." Timoteo nodded towards the kidnapper.
The man was still stubbornly clinging to life. They could hear each dying gasp.
A glint sparked in Iemitsu's eyes. His face betrayed no emotion as he released the safety on his gun. "Understood." Nono.
Timoteo tilted his head forward. "Right then, come along, little one."
"I didn't let him call me 'kid,' what makes you think 'little one' is better?" Hibari frowned.
"Forgive me, Hibari-kun, is it?"
Hibari nodded in satisfaction, allowing himself to be led away by this curious old man. This curious old man with eyes so similar to Tsunayoshi's, this curious old man with power dancing at his fingertips. He allowed himself to be captivated by this old man, pretending not to hear the gunshot echoing in the distance.
Presently, they had reached as far as they could go. Between them and the freezer rooms was a sea of fire. Hibari gazed up at Timoteo, an eyebrow quirked.
Timoteo smiled playfully before waving his cane over the fire. And Hibari felt an unseen force exude from the elder's frame as the flames cleared a straight path to their destination.
"Pick your jaw off the floor, Hibari-kun. I can't keep this up for long."
Hibari shot him an unamused glare.
It was getting hot, unbearably hot. And it grew harder and harder to breathe.
In that neatly sealed room, there was only so much oxygen to spare. Tsuna already used most of it. But the fire was quick to steal the leftovers.
Not that it was pleasant to breathe in the first place. An overpowering stench hung in the scant air as blood and flesh cooked in the heightening temperatures. The walls practically glowed red from the heat.
Well... at least now, it wasn't so dark anymore.
Sprawled on the ground, on the slick, slimy ground, Tsuna lay limp as a ragdoll. His brown eyes, once alive with cheer and laughter, were now dull and unseeing. Lifeless.
He wanted to go back home... He missed his Mama and her warm hugs. He missed his Papa and his cheery laughter. He missed Kyoko's smiles and Ryohei-nii's shouting. And he missed... He missed Hibari-san... and that tiny grin when he thinks no one is looking, and how he was so strong and didn't let anyone push him around, and the odd kindness he sometimes shows... He missed everything about Hibari-san...
He just wanted to see everyone again. He just wanted to go home.
But... that wasn't going to happen... was it?
It had been so long, ages since the kidnapper–since Shi–dropped him into this corner of Hell, telling him his family was dead. That Hibari-san was dead.
It wasn't possible, of course. His Papa was strong and Hibari-san was stronger. There was no way that Shi could... could kill them! His Papa would definitely protect his Mama! And Hibari-san was unbeatable!
But so... Where were they? It's been so long...
Tsuna panted, his lungs constricting.
He had tried to escape, beating his tiny fists on that damnable door. Fear and hysteria fueling him as he screamed himself hoarse. He even attempted to summon that power, that mysterious strength Shi coveted so. But to no avail.
Everyone was right. He was "no-good" after all.
Coughing, Tsuna gasped for breath. But there was no more air left.
He was going to die.
Oddly enough, Tsuna wasn't as opposed to the idea, not like before. He wasn't scared. He was just tired. And everything just hurt. Living was just not worth the effort. Not anymore.
But his Mama will cry, and that would be sad. His Papa might cry too. That would be very sad.
And Hibari-san... would he cry? It was hard to imagine scary Hibari-san crying. He probably wouldn't. He was probably still mad at Tsuna.
Oh, that's right. Tsuna had almost... forgotten. He and Hibari-san got into a fight. A fight over something he couldn't even remember anymore... Hibari-san was probably still mad.
Tsuna told Shi that Hibari-san was going to come rescue him. That Hibari-san was going to bite Shi to death. But what if... What if that wasn't true... It's been so long... Maybe Hibari-san was still mad at him... Tsuna had said all those mean things. He had been very angry and Hibari-san was being a stupid butthead. But... he never meant any of it.
Tsuna felt his eyes slide shut, consciousness slipping through his fingers.
The last thing he ever said to Hibari was "I hate you!" Wasn't that just sad?
"Hibari-san... I'm sorry."
Then the door burst open.
It had taken three tries, three costly mistakes, but finally! They had found the right room.
And there was so much blood.
On the walls, on the floor, even dripping from the ceiling, blood was everywhere.
And Tsuna lay at the very center, soaked in filthy red.
For one heart-wrenching moment, they both thought Tsuna was dead. It was over, and they were too late.
But before Timoteo could loose all hope, Hibari darted into the room. Kneeling down beside Tsuna, he pressed his ear on Tsuna's chest. He wasn't breathing. But there was a faint pulse, very faint. His mind working furiously, Hibari did the only thing he could. It was stroke of good luck that he'd read up on first aid beforehand.
Pinching the nose shut, Hibari tilted the chin up. He inhaled deeply before pressing his lips against Tsuna's, performing mouth to mouth resuscitation.
He repeated the process, alternating between chest compressions until, finally, his little chest rose and the poor boy doubled over, wheezing and coughing as the flood of air filled his deprived lungs.
And Hibari could not withhold the sigh of relief. An action echoed by the lone onlooker watching in absolute awe at the sight.
Lifting the torso from the crimson-streaked ground, Hibari held Tsuna in his trembling arms. Was he always this small? Tsuna was the runt of the class, but was he always this fragile?
But all queries were pushed from his thoughts as Tsuna's eyes fluttered open. And he's alive. He's breathing easier now. His heart was pulsing beneath his palms. And he's alive, so beautifully, blessedly alive.
He smiles. An herbivore till the end, Tsuna smiles. One grimy palm presses upon Hibari's cheek, and Hibari could care less that his face was getting dirty or that Tsuna was so close–too close. It was okay, just this once.
Tsuna smiles and he whispers. His voice cracks, hoarse from screaming. And he says...
"Hibari-san came... I was worried... that you-you wouldn't... said 'I hate you'... and you were - you were mad... I-I thought you wouldn't come..."
And something breaks in Hibari's chest, and it hurts. Worse than his hand, worse than any physical injury.
Foolish, naive, stupid, clueless, idiotic, blind herbivore.
The words are stuck in Hibari's throat, caught between a gasp and a scream. And he could only pull Tsuna closer, wrapping his arms around the boy, his sole lifeline lest he fall into a nameless dark abyss.
Wouldn't come...? Oh, blind, blind, blind herbivore.
Somewhere along the way, his lips unfasten and his pain pours out in garbled syllables.
"Promised to protect–moron–don't know me at all–!"
Tsuna makes a noise of discomfort, but Hibari doesn't release him. He moves his hand, fingers caressing at the corner of Hibari's eye, caressing at the foreign wetness there.
"Hibari-san," He murmurs. "You're crying..."
The unspoken question hangs in the air. Why?
By God, he needs to ask...
But Tsuna begins to speak once more, mouth twisted in apology. It's so wrong. Hibari wants to wipe it off but knows not how.
"'m sorry, Hibari-san. I... I wasn't strong enough."
And Hibari wants to laugh. The urge bubbles up in his chest like bitter hysteria.
Tsuna smiles again. And it's still so wrong. His eyes close in exhaustion. They don't open again.
Hibari wants to cry.
So he does.
GUYS! GUYS! 500+ REVIEWS? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I dont even... THANK YOU! SO MUCH! Seriously, I would never have thought this story would be... this... readable. Gah! And the story plot got so complex to. What is this madness? YOU GUYS ARE THE BEST
A/N: I finished the arc~ I finished the arc~ Sorry that took waaaaaaaaaay longer than I meant it to be. But yeah, yay~ the violence comes to a stop. We'll see about the angst... uuuurgh. Sorry I took FOREVER with this chapter... But real life was being needy and demanded attention. Yes, yes I know. How cruel of me to have my own life. Pffft, I'll try to update faster. I've decided to have a word counter on my profile. You can see how many words of each chapter I've finished so you can tell that I am working on it.
Also, if you haven't voted already in the poll, it is now up on my profile. Votings ends three days from now. Good luck.
Let's all welcome my wonderful beta: AlternativeAngel, without her, this chapter and subsequent chapters would not have been all possible. Shower her with thanks everyone.
Fun fact: While you don't always die from a broken neck, it all depends on how badly you injure your spinal cord. A bruised spinal cord results in paralyzation a.k.a quadriplegia occurs or other neurological problems. If the cord is severely injured, then breathing will be affected and the person can die from suffocating. If the spinal cord is cut or torn in half, there is a sudden loss of nerve supply throughout the entire body, a drop in blood pressure which leads to an immediate demise. Shi died from the suffocation so...
(the above medical facts have been greatly summarized, so don't quote me on that)
EDITED: fixed Tsuna's POV