All characters © Amano Akira

Summary: Mukuro's causing trouble, as usual, and Dino feels the need to intervene. However, Mukuro forgets that Dino knows how to deal with "problem children" quite well.


Unassumingly Indomitable

"You really shouldn't get so involved with the Vongola's affairs, Cavallone," Rokudo Mukuro said, examining his gloves for any nonexistent spots of lint. "I don't recall you ever being a part of this family to begin with."

Against the dim light of the rising moon, Dino shrugged. "True," he admitted, not voicing the fact that Mukuro was just barely Vongola himself, "but the tutelage of Reborn obligates me to step in when there's a problem."

"And is there a problem?"

"Apparently." Looking into those mismatched eyes sometimes made Dino forget that Mukuro was only nineteen. Their distant quality intimidated him more often than not; although Mukuro could barely see anything through his right eye, he refused to cover it with a patch. That lazy, pupil-less stare made Dino think of the EXIT signs in a dark building.

"Kyouya wouldn't talk, so I was able to find out from, ah, other sources," he began. "You knew he wouldn't say anything, which is why you did it, right?"

"No," Mukuro smiled, "I did it because it was fun."

Dino sighed. Would Mukuro ever change? He thought of those purple coon-rings under Hibari's eyes that he had never recalled seeing there before, even in the mafia's most dire times. "To you, maybe. What do you think Tsuna will say when he finds out what you've been doing?"

A sigh. "You people are such party-poopers." Mukuro blew a rogue fringe of hair out of his eyes as it fell over his face. It was an eerily childish gesture. He set his odd, heterochromic gaze on Dino, and for once Dino didn't look away. "You're furious, aren't you? You hide it well."

"I am angry," Dino agreed good-naturedly enough, nodding. "As a guardian of the mist, you should be using your illusions to defeat enemies. Not to terrorize your comrades. I'd even go as far as to call what you're doing mental rape. Mind-fucking."

This prompted a chuckle from Mukuro. "Rape? That makes it sound so perverted when it's nothing of the sort. I just give him little dreams, is all," he replied. "If you insist on such vulgar terms, why not call me a psychological voyeur?"

"You invade his memories and slap him in the face with them," Dino snapped, losing his patience. He immediately backtracked and drew air in through his nose. His quotidian display of joviality was not usually broken, but Dino did know how to be serious when the situation called for it. After all, he'd spent his whole life dealing with problem people. "As if Kyouya doesn't have enough issues already. And as a patient of Vendicare, I'm sure you know all about torture," he added, almost sadly.

"And now I also know all about Kyouya," Mukuro shrugged. "I'd never bothered to take over his mind before, but now that I see what makes him tick, it's rather amusing to play with him. I can't seem to stop," he admitted, which prompted a small shudder from Dino. It wasn't that he hated Rokudo Mukuro—on the contrary, Mukuro had been crucial to the aid of the Vongola and the Cavallone family over the years. It was just that with someone like him, talking rationally could seem impossible when Dino had difficulty in understanding the other party.

"But really, a Romanian orphanage? And I thought I was the only one with childhood trauma." He paused, a delicious smile tickling the corners of his mouth as he waited for Dino to take the bait. When Dino remained impervious, Mukuro egged further. "Aren't you curious as to what his past was like, Cavallone?"

Dino closed his eyes and thought for a moment. The moonlight from beyond the window brought out the pallid color of his hair while simultaneously casting his face into shadow. Sometimes it took special tactics to reason with Mukuro, he remembered. But then again, Dino had some skill in dealing with difficult individuals. He'd learned that all the other needed was not an opposition, but another player to beat him at his own game. Dino thought of Kyouya—violent, spoiled, and socially inept because no one had dared to step up and tell him no. Kyouya, who was as turgid as a dirty river and unapproachable as a rattlesnake giving birth.

The most irksome bit was that truthfully, Dino was curious, more so than he'd admit. But that wasn't up for promulgation. Out loud he said: "Show me here then, Rokudo Mukuro. I have time on my hands."

And Mukuro smiled, the dark and deleterious leer of things arcane.

He had the upper hand, as he always did when moving with his mind. At least for a few minutes it seemed, as he fixed his right eye on Dino's thoughts and sent his mind into a place where the rules of the real world ceased to apply.

A few minutes later Mukuro pulled back with a frown. His eyes had widened ever so slightly, rife with an expression quite different from his usual catty smile. Nothing else gave the slightest inclination of his feelings, however. Dino saw Mukuro's gloved hands twitch once in his lap, and then they remained still.

"..."

Dino decided to grab the silence while it lingered. With a grace typically only possible with his henchmen around, he leaned over and set an elbow on Mukuro's desk with hair pooling around his face and a little half-smile crinkling up his hazel eyes. The eyes themselves flashed, staring ahead with a gaze that was abstrusely cool. "That's what it's like inside my mind, Mukuro," he said.

Mukuro managed a smile, but it was only a ghost of what it had been before, as diaphanous as the painted grins of circus clowns. His complexion looked strangely wan. "How interesting," he muttered to himself. "I wasn't expecting that from you, Cavallone. You're certainly more twisted than I thought."

"Everyone in the mafia has issues," Dino replied simply. "You couldn't have thought you were the only one? I had assumed you were used to such darkness, but I hope this at least temporarily shows you that poking around in peoples' minds isn't always as enjoyable as you make it out to be."

What he had seen in that thing passing for Dino's mind made even the gore-loving terrorists like Mukuro shudder. How someone could seem so carefree, insouciant, even idiotic when there was such rot underneath... He was right; everyone here was royally screwed up in one way or another. It was easy to forget that when you were just like them.

"That's why I hate the mafia," Mukuro scoffed, though there was no real humor to his tone this time. Only bitter recollect. "What a circus we make."

Dino eased himself away from the desk and turned to leave. He smiled faintly, but the action was lost in a shadow as the moon fell behind a passing cloud. "Better bring some popcorn then," he said.

The "mind-raping" of Hibari, as Dino would jokingly refer to it in later years, stopped after his little talk with Mukuro. Naturally, Hibari was furious with Dino for going to the man at all when he found out and claimed that he didn't need such grass-eaters solving his own problems for him. But infuriatingly, a part deep inside him felt the slightest inkling of gratitude, and just a modicum of curiosity as to what Dino had done to make Mukuro of all people stop. He supposed he would never know, and that was alright with him. It wasn't like he cared.

end.


Author's note: hope you enjoyed, I had fun with this! It was a challenge to see how two characters who you don't normally see associating interact with one another. I'd been wanting to write badass!Dino for a while, and messing with Hibari proved to be the perfect prompt.