characters – Hibari, the tenth guardians, Dino
warnings – spoilers for beginning of future arc?
notes – This is an attempt to rationalize Hibari's behaviour and actions – I'm testing choppy waters here, aren't I?
Attachment was a thing of make-believe; love the tale of ignorant naivety.
Hibari knew that since the morning he turned seven-years old, when his parents sat him down and bluntly explained that he was just one boy – a singular alone in a selection of six billion on earth, insignificant and weak, leeching off the people around him.
Humans were all flawed as emotional beings. Everyone was born into the world with irrational feelings and complicated emotions pre-programmed as their instincts – these were the largest barriers blocking the route to power. Distinction could only be made when humans breached the boundaries of their comfort zone. The latter would be aptly labeled as herbivores for the span of their meaningless lives. They would become pathetic things, overly reliant on wishes and dreams that would never be fulfilled, spoon fed with falsehoods and smothered since infancy, ultimately only disposable in the greater scale of things. They were the ones carnivores could bite to death.
The boy nodded his head slowly, blinking at the shadows masking the faces of his parents. That was when he saw them for the first time, truly – the thick nonchalance etched on their features and concealing the pursed irritation, the absence of emotional attachment in their expressions. That was when he realized that they probably didn't love him. And that was when he glimpsed the flames of power and strength licking away in their judging, stoic eyes, the sensation of ultimate authority and control emanating from their rigid bodies.
Hibari sat there, transfixed, his scrambled eggs suddenly too cold and salty.
His parents thrusted a pair of tonfas at him, big weapons whose handles he could barely wrap his developing fingers around. They deemed themselves as the last birthday present he would ever receive from his father and mother.
Then, they locked him out by the front door and threw him his schoolbag through an open window, forbidding him to show his face to their household until he came back with proof that he had won a battle – until he asserted himself as someone who was strong enough to survive in the world.
That first afternoon, he came back with a classmate from elementary school, to who he had delivered an amateur punch on the face and wobbly kick to the shin on his walk back home. He had pestered Hibari to take a gander at the interesting, mossy pebble he had found on the side of the street. Hibari grew increasingly disturbed by the incessant tone of his voice, and he never even liked stones – it was the perfect setting. Now, the boy in question was weeping loudly, hand clamped over the injury on his cheek as his skinned knees bled and bled in shades of red and pink. Hibari glared at him with an almost-guilty stare and asked him to hurry up. There was a twinkle in his eyes which betrayed the enjoyment he had received from the punch and kick.
Hibari's mother scoffed loudly upon being presented the evidence. In her eyes, Hibari only saw all-consuming black, with no whit of pity or sympathy. She pointed a gaunt finger at the sniffling boy, piercing her waiting son with a stone cold gaze –
This was what a herbivore looked like.
With each day, Hibari improved his footwork and abilities; he began challenging more boys, kids that grew bulkier and bulkier after each passing fight. He started using the tonfas he carried in his bagpack, swinging restlessly to knock skulls and bruise elbows of the ones who frustrated him in class, during recess, or at the bus stands after school. He went after those who picked on the smaller students, those who teased him about his lack of friends, those who were just waiting for a beating and tethering his thin string of patience. He savored the feeling of making collisions between metal and bone, the sound of crashing and concussions, and the way his pair of tonfas could slice through the air as if it was dense – it was an exhilarating sensation.
One day, in his third year of elementary school, a boy two years older than him approached from behind and rammed a black eye onto him out of the blue. Hibari took a moment assess the intention of the boy, a brunette who emitted a sickening aura of justice and pride, no doubt a daydreamer with his heads stuck in puffy white clouds that would only obscure his vision.
Hibari realised that he had never bothered to explain his motives to anyone – he never talked outside of necessity, and he had no peers who were willing to listen to him anyway.
When he recovered from the momentary stun of the blow and clambered onto his feet, right eye aching, revenge prickled the back of his throat. The offending boy was gone – and he didn't manage to find him by the ringing of the last bell.
For that day, he trudged home without a win and no tolerance for crafting an excuse, so he was forced to spend a night out in the cold, overgrown backyard. Hibari accepted the loss, though far from childish tingles of guilt and regret – he hadn't believed that his father had been serious about ruling him out of his own residence.
The collar of his uniform itched and his shoulders shook with each roll of wind. His bag could only prove itself as a lumpy pillow. Sleeping seemed unattainable in that moment; his gut twisted with spells of frustration and ache. But as the night drew onwards, the stray cats and undaunted birds crept near and accompanied him in the dark. He combed his fingers through the fur of the cats and listened vacantly to the calming trill of the birds.
The boy grunted as he closed his eyes, and questioned why the rest of his classmates couldn't be this taciturn.
Hibari eventually slept under the watch of the moon and the golden scrutiny of the animals, on a cloudless, dreamless spring night that would not remain singular and unique in his life.
Whenever a group of children playing with a bundle of skipping rope or a rubber ball would offer an invite to their society, Hibari declined with a scowl. They stopped asking after four attempts that were met head on with fruitless results. He sniffed and sat in the corner of the field during recess, plucking at the sharp tips of freshly mowed grass and watching with vague interest as the other children threw the ball at one another and took turns jumping over the revolving rope. They relied on one another to have fun – place them alone with a rope or a ball, and they would rot away with loneliness, they survived off one another's company, dependent with so many glaring weaknesses.
The ball slipped out of a pigtailed girl's grasp, lobbing over her head and rolling to a stop at the toes of Hibari's broken sneakers. As the children gestured and called for him to throw the ball back to their circle, he ignored them and tucked his knees closer to his chest. After a moment, they realized that they would not be getting their ball back without their own initiative – so they decided to play a round of tag instead. The sky blue sphere resting at his feet remained isolated and alone, and he banished it away to the corner of the field with one well-aimed heel.
Hibari would live for himself, and only himself.
Humans were strongest when they were alone.
But for a carnivore to excel, to gain strength and power – he had to search for a greater base to carve his ideals. Hibari could not simply train with people who irritated him, when there was no grand drive behind his actions, nothing to compete himself against.
So the moment he entered in gateways of Nanimori Middle School, he knew that his answer was calling. The floors were littered with unconservative scraps of paper, the halls of some long corridors vandalized with markers and pencils skirting playfully across the dry skin peeling off the walls. There were so many things to improve here, so many victims to punish and so many students to command through fear and power. And probably a sufficient number who could fight well enough.
This was it – the dais he deserved.
He left home to stop all reliance on his parents and started living on the school grounds. The teachers and principal were too conceited to care about his choices, as long as they didn't involve drawing unwanted attention from the authorities. They hardly knew he was staying in school until three months since his arrival, when the janitor found him sleeping on the rooftop at two in the morning with a black jacket he had purchased not too long ago.
Hibari gathered together a group of plausible participants to build up a respectably threatening disciplinary committee – not to work with him, but under him. He strolled around campus, singling out rowdy individuals that were already prominent in the student hierarchy – with or without a beating; they all ended up joining his cause. Whatever happened to them outside of their duties and patrol had no relation or effect upon him.
In the school, walls could be rebuilt, scars could be cured with a fresh coat of paint, and new furniture could be bought to replace the broken and dead. This was something he could protect without risking a provocation of feelings, because the school would always be there, could always be constructed back into its original form; there was no fear of ultimate loss – only a fuel of power to protect it. He did not dislike the school anthem, so he set it has the ringtone of his handphone, vacant of any other possible choices.
The disciplinary committee catered to him what he required to get by, ensured prompt delivery of his meals and took it upon themselves to help him with his dry-cleaning. It was satisfying to have a firm hold over them and over the students in the school. Hibari remained in the school after his graduation because there was nowhere else he could go. He had no job, no money, no reason to leave a perfectly secured perch. One other batch of disciplinary members passed out before he met a most loyal and worthy underling – Kusakabe. He never told the male that little known fact; it would be useless and degenerative to spoil him. A sardonic grin and contented nod was all it took to usher a pleased grin onto that devoted face.
It was within that period, did he notice Sawada Tsunayoshi and the baby.
Losing was something he did not take easily because it was a sign of weakness.
He sat in the cell of the dilapidated building alone, accustomed to the stench of decay and sweat, lying on the concrete floors and chilling in the absence of his black jacket. The whole scene reminded him of earlier times spent in his backyard, except he had no bag pack to use as a pillow, and that his bones were shattered in ways and methods he could not recall. Hibari hissed quietly against the ebbing pain, tightened the hold around the worn handles of his tonfas, and listened to the song of the fluttering yellow bird. His eyes flared with the repulsion of deficiency. The coldness that spidered through his veins was not caused by the temperature of his murky surroundings. And in the end, only the feeling – the intense sensation of hatred twisting his stomach – was identical to his childhood.
He met Dino Cavallone. A man who had a potency and skill that offered more irritation than impression and awe. He was another frustrating person who did not belong in the group of herbivores, but socialized with them too frequently – a decidedly worthy opponent and a failed man wrapped in one poorly packaged heap. But Hibari learned, as the length of the whip slammed down upon his arm and tightened, that he was far from attaining the actual strength he sought.
So he exchanged blows with the Cavallone frequently, but never responded to his smiles, and shrugged off any hand to the shoulder – establishing any relationship outside of their fights was fatally delirious.
Hibari endured the herbivore and his clan, though very mindfully in the corner and away from the persistent inflammation of their guild. He glanced at them only at intervals, weighing the strength he could stand to gain if he participated in their tomfoolery. Paying mind and surveying for any indication of Rokudo Mukuro's appearance. The odd, queer thing about the clump of weaklings was that they had the inane ability to attract competently proficient opponents, capable of providing him the challenge he thirsted for.
In the end, they flocked around everywhere together, arms and legs in a mess and so bothersome; herded by the little baby and the magnificent lure he enchanted himself with.
Hibari sat by for many years on the breezy rooftop of his school, standing up to throttle oppositions every now and again – some were weak, some were marginally difficult to handle – but in the end most, if not all of them, fell to his tonfas. The repetitive, cyclic pattern continued until the Vongola Decimo was crowned and he finally achieved free reign and obtained missions that suited his likings: assassinations, extortions, payment – blood, pain, screaming.
He alone was assigned to such tasks, never negotiations or dealings, but rather, for revenge and punishment. He felt contented to go without a partner, he was not relying on anyone to watch his back and guard blind sides did not exist. There was no one to stop him from breaking a few necks here and killing a handful of people there – he even managed to knee a petty old man in the stomach to the extent that ancient blood was observed splattering over the carpet he had coveted so much.
And this was what strength felt like.
Hibari disdained working with people, for he had never done that and it was an alien concept. He established his own foundation to conduct research on the newly invented box weapons, additionally as a feint to distance himself from the increasing mass of herbivores.
Because he could replay the past, and he knew that he would never gain anything from consorting with them. The school days spent with their irksome ruckus had been welded into the back of his skull: Gokudera Hayato had been constructed by nonsensical barks and hardly any shred of bite; Yamamoto Takeshi might have been a mildly fascinating individual if not for his vexing inconsistency in representation, and Mukuro's puppet – Chrome, was it? – had left much to be desired, even if she was merely regarded as a vessel of sorts, she wilted in comparison to her owner. The boxer was always too loud, too eager in having his presence felt – but he kept the school free from the average bully, and housed potential fights inside the playpen he called his boxing ring – another one to dismiss. The little calf who was now probably taller than Hibari himself, had served as nothing outside of being a uniform, crying annoyance, though balanced out by the quiet Chinese girl who had given him the first present since his seventh birthday. He tolerated her and the other obligatory females, so barely and in such a minuscule way that it would be overlooked.
And the Vongola Decimo? He was still as emotionally-driven as always, prone to weakness if plunged into unideal circumstances, untransformed apart from the title he claimed to uphold. No one had changed in ten years, and he was most sure he certainly hadn't.
So Hibari found himself frowning when secretive plans were laid out and he was suddenly forced into tightness of a three-man circle, chained into a deciding position that he would have immediately declined under normal factors. They were asking for his assistance and his thoughts, when he clearly did not enjoy his involvement in such charades.
He read the papers that would later be burned by the tenth generation's flame and listened to the explanation of the plan that was never again repeated – all the while reminding himself that his blank opinion and nonexistent feelings had nothing to do with this plan to outsmart the Millefiore. They had long died out, replaced with sated power and independence; there wasn't supposed to be any remnant of reluctance within himself to oppose the plan. And as Hibari stared into the owner of those flaming eyes, he found himself sinking into disbelief – the eyes of Sawada Tsunayoshi were no different than usual, with flecks of unplaced strength coupled with large, large amounts of weakness weaved in raw emotion. A tinge of fear danced in them, a silhouette of the real boss of the Vongola, hand in hand with a familiar brand of resolution.
He leaned back into the cushion of the chair, closed his eyes, and paused. The sensation of relinquishment filled his chest, but he dismissed it coolly – because frankly, he reminded himself he didn't possess any merit to care in the world.
He nodded curtly.
In the winter, Hibari stood before the procession of black, watching on as the crowd bled with loathsome emotions of heart wrench and destruction. There sat the ultimate folly of humanity, of herbivores, crowned with veils of weakness, drenched with hot, useless tears and whisper of goodbyes that would never be heard. He diverted his gaze elsewhere, to the sea of petals and the lidded eyes of an omnivore, the one with the combed hazel hair and pale laced fingers.
The family surrounded their shepherd: Hayato Gokudera choking back tears and gripping the edges of the pristine oak as his eyes flooded and his voice escaped him, Yamamoto Takeshi retaining the depressed, staid countenance he had retained for the past week. Chrome sobbed ruefully, so emotionally charged and humanely passionate, in a way that Rokudo Mukuro could have never achieved even if he tried. Sasagawa Ryohei lingered in the corner of the room, it took Hibari a few seconds to find him amongst the heads, and the boxer tightened his arms in silence as he furrowed his brow and embraced the pallid girl with the sun-coloured hair. The cow was no longer crying, the cow was struck completely dumb, absently comforting the little Chinese girl as she buried her eyes into his dark shoulder and refused to see the reality. Hibari approached them tentatively and peered through the few gaps they left open in their circle.
This was something disposable, emotional and heavily dependent.
This was supposed to be a herbivore that would eventually, sooner or later, die without creating ripples in his mind and a knot in his gut.
This was someone whose blood could not be replenished with paint, whose body could not be rebuilt from cement and bricks, someone who could never be replaced. This was an example of why he detested watching bonds develop in naïve little crowds, only to witness them break and burn in the infernos of reality. This was why he hated his parents.
Hibari released a breath he didn't realize he was holding as something in his chest gave a little squeeze. Dino walked over, eyes submerged with grief and mouth in a crooked frown as he placed a palm on his shoulder. Hibari didn't bother to shrug it off. He diverted away from the eyes of the weaklings and pivoted so that he could not see Dino. And slowly, he felt himself succumb to the beckoning claws of origins unknown.
After all the bloodshed and fights, kicking bawling six-year olds in the shins and making old men vomit scarlet blood all over Persian rugs – succeeding in protecting the town he had promised to – he was still not strong enough. There was a lingering part of him latching contemptuously on to the herbivore within, the portion of his mind he thought he had sacrificed over twenty years long ago on that night in spring. The feeling of failure, of compacted backyards, of decayed abandoned cells and a dead, dead body came flooding back to him.
This was the reason he hated crowds.
A tear trickled down from the shadows of his face.