All characters © Amano Akira

Summary: Hibari would be lying if he said he wasn't curious to see what Sawada would do. Spoilers for chapter 293. Warnings for berserk!rage Tsuna and confused!Hibari

You Can Stop Now

For one of the first times in his life, Hibari didn't know what to do.

He was a highly uncreative individual who tended to think of himself more as an animal than a human. Others, if presented with this mentality, may have taken that as an insult, but to Hibari, it was comforting. There really wasn't much to him, and that was how he preferred things. He liked biology because with animals, things were so much simpler. Eat, fornicate, sleep, and repeat the process. Life went on.

No need for unnecessary emotions, discarded in lieu of the blissfully ascetic act of survival.

Hibari couldn't fathom why people tended to cling to unneeded things like sentimentality, friendship, or sadness. However, anger was a different story.

He thought he could understand anger. He thought he'd seen Sawada Tsunayoshi angry twice before: once, during the ring battles, and once during the final showdown with Byakuran.

But he'd been wrong.

The Ninth had merely been a childhood acquaintance of Sawada's, and Uni had been a girl that they'd only met a week prior to her death. And still, he'd gotten angry, so unlike the No Good Tsuna that Hibari knew, the loserboy with no spine, the only freshman in five years to fail remedial classes two semesters in a row. Hibari had been coolly amused then, somewhat interested as he often was when witnessing a grass-eater develop a taste for meat. Even if he was only a part-time carnivore.

That had been nothing compared to this.

Hibari had seen Xanxus, Genkishi, along with countless of others in the mafia who had become prisoners to their rage and had gone, for lack of a better word, berserk. What did you expect? People these days acted like the idiot herbivores they were and did unspeakable things to one another. Hibari himself hadn't been surprised to hear that the Shimon family were not only traitors, but were the ones who had nearly almost killed Yamamoto Takeshi.

Coalescing with teenage hormones, an abnormal love (what is that word, he wonders) for his friends, and a higher-than-average blood pressure, Sawada Tsunayoshi was apt to get upset. Hibari would be lying if he said he wasn't curious to see what Sawada would do. Upset, as it turned out in the end, was the king of understatements.

Of course he cried. No big surprise there. But then he'd broken both of Aoba's legs without even turning around.

As powerful as the Shimon were, Hibari thought they were too astounded by that first gambit to counteract in time. And Sawada, by himself, had taken them out one by one, screaming and crying (even in his X-Burner mode) like an herbivore with rabies. Hibari half expected him to start foaming at the mouth.

Then came the inexorable punishment. Caustic flames, charred skin blistering and excoriating from various places. The speed, the blindness. An engulfing bane of light, the horrible splash of blood and other bodily fluids against the rocks and the trees.

That day he saw Sawada Tsunayoshi hurt people in ways he didn't even imagine people could be hurt. It was after Sawada had burned almost all of the hair off of Suzuki Adelheid's head that Hibari realized Tsuna had lost control.

Why should he care, though? It wasn't like it was any of his business. His school wasn't in danger and there was no one to fight, so there should be no reason to stay...but Hibari found he couldn't tear his eyes away from the scene before him.

Hibari glanced to his left, where Sawada's pathetic cohorts (which he knew his older self to have secretly nicknamed the Pussy Squad) were literally frozen in place. The Italian's bombs were sizzling on the ground beside him, forgotten. Sasagawa's mouth was lolling somewhere by his chest, and Chrome Dokuro had one hand clamped firmly over her eyes, the other over the bovine child's, who was steadily wailing.

Hibari passed them and walked over to where the baby was watching with a grim expression on his small face. As he made his way over, he felt a crunch under one shoe. Looking down, he saw that they were Julie's glasses.

"Baby. Why don't you stop him?"

The kid turned, managing to look both troubled, composed, and impressed that Hibari had approached him. "Tsuna needs to overcome."

And this is the way to do it? Hibari wondered as a bright plume of flames fulminated close to where they were standing. He said nothing aloud, but the kid seemed to read his mind nonetheless.

"The life of a mafioso is never kind," the kid added. "A boss has no chances of restraining his family if he can't even restrain himself. Personally I don't care either way if Tsuna turns them into a pile of charcoal."

And that was when Hibari knew the baby was lying. Of course Reborn cared. Despite Hibari's continuous apostasy of complicated emotions, he could see that as clear as day. He just didn't fully understand Reborn's motives until a pair of fishbowl-black eyes came to rest on him.

He scowled, blue eyes slitting like ice chips. "Hn."

"What will you do, Hibari?"

Like hell he was going to stop Sawada. Risking his life for other people was a concept he had yet to comprehend (though apparently it was one he would adopt sometime within the next ten years), and saw little point unless there were benefits. Why couldn't any of the others pull their thumbs out of their asses and get involved, like they normally did?

Because they're not strong enough to stop him, and Reborn knows it. Only I am.

Something breezed past him that looked suspiciously like part of a Shimon jacket. Hibari squinted through the smoke as Sawada's form came into spectrum.

Almost completely covered in blood, hair, burns, and lacerations, its eyes glowing a pernicious goldenfire against the miasma of smoke. It didn't even look like Sawada anymore. The effect almost sent a prickle of chills down his back. Almost.

Suddenly Hibari calmed, glad for the disfiguration. It was just an animal before him now. Certainly not an herbivore, for sure, but only a carnivore at that. A victim to its instinct, going wild, hungry to eat everything in its path until there was nothing left at all. And this was what it meant to be at the top of the food chain? What an exigent creature.

That's right—there was no such thing as an apex predator. Hibari grinned flatly and drew out his tonfa.