All characters © Amano Akira

Summary: Hibari admits there are some respectable things about Dino. Other things just annoy him.


There was a fine line between observing and spying, especially in the mafia.

If asked, Hibari Kyouya would deny the fact that his habit was a bad one. That is, if he felt compelled to answer at all, he would give a cool look and declare that there was nothing strange about what he was doing. The bolder of questioners would agree that no, there was nothing strange about casually studying someone, but protest that the extent to which Hibari carried it through was just a little frightening.

See, when he found someone with potential strength and who was in close propinquity, Hibari then proceeded to watch that person thoroughly. Part of it was a self-esteem thing; needing to find some way in which he was better than that person would ease his mind. Temporarily. He did it in search of weakness, or sometimes just because he was plain interested.

Some may have remarked on how sad it was that it had taken Hibari until the tenth grade to realize that people didn't always work the way he expected them to, and the smarter ones who realized this decided to tactfully shut their mouths about it. It only took the most interesting of individuals to break Hibari Kyouya's phlegmatic ennui. And for Hibari, these rare objects of fascination, once spotted, were regarded with calm intrigue and eerie perception.

Reborn was an example of such an object. The best way to gather information on a person was to merely observe, so Hibari had kept an eye on the baby whenever he could. Reborn had been Hibari's first experiment with stalking (much to Sawada Tsunayoshi's dismay), since he had been one of the only people able to fend off a blow from his Okinawa tonfa. However Reborn, as expected, was a guarded assassin and gave nothing away; Hibari soon gave up on what had become a futile task. Perhaps there were other interesting individuals out there.

Apparently so. His spying cleared a path for Sawada Tsunayoshi, the second article of interest in Hibari's Food Chain of Discipline. Unfortunately, he found the task redundant and irritating, giving up after a month. Sawada was only a part-time carnivore, and his off-hour ramblings gave Hibari a headache. Sure, he was supposedly a candidate for the Italian mafia, according to Reborn, but as of now he was just a grass-eater who was the only freshman in Namimori history to fail his remedial classes two semesters in a row. Hibari would come back to him later—maybe in a few years, when Sawada developed a taste for meat.

Rokudo Mukuro was another fizz, mainly because he was just annoying, and Hibari would have rather not wasted time on somebody who laughed more than he slept. This brought Hibari to his third subject of interest and easiest observing target...

...Dino Cavallone.

For being the leader of the third most influential mafia crime syndicate in the world, he sure was relaxed. Dino was talented, quirky, and naturally, completely oblivious to the fact that his every move was being recorded and set into storage. Hibari employed no bugs, cameras, or satellites. Just his eyes, which was really all you needed. So he watched; he watched for some time. He found that once he started "discreetly observing," or what others would call spying, he couldn't stop.

In his study of Dino Cavallone, Hibari admitted that there were some respectable things about the guy. Other things just tended to annoy him, as seen below as part of Hibari's mental log of the Whip Bastard, also referred to as The Fake Herbivore or The Idiot.

One, Dino talked too much. Loquacity was an overestimated art, Hibari believed. Laconic and succinct responses were much more efficient, since there was no reason to waste extra breath on words that weren't needed when the topic could be explained in fewer. Dino prattled on about inconsequential things: the weather, his bodily functions, his family, things that Hibari could care less about. The sound of his voice was tolerable, at least; it wasn't the roar of the Varia commander, nor the nasal whine of Rokudo Mukuro's dog, thankfully. But Dino still talked too much.

Two, his gracefulness was dependent on crowds. As a loner and mild ochlophobiac, this was something Hibari simply could not tolerate. Romario was acceptable, but the disgusting mass of body heat, sweat, and oils that humans excreted together sickened him. One shouldn't need others to perform his tasks. The clumsiness irked Hibari on a whole different level, and he often wondered how someone with such talent could be so...clunky.

Three, Dino's absolutely appalling use of Japanese slang made him want to punch something. He hated that Dino had the advantage of being bilingual, and silently seethed whenever the latter and the baby would exchange comments in rapid Italian. Occasionally the baby would notice Hibari's baleful expression and hit Dino upside the head, hypocritically telling him to speak Japanese around others as not to be rude. Dino had a peculiar way of speaking the language; it was unaccented for the most part, but his vernacular had a formal drawl to it that many of the Italians in Sawada's group had. In addition, Dino was one of the only people in the world with the gumption to call him by his first name, no honorifics. Hibari had mistakenly interpreted this as a misuse of the language upon their first meeting, but after seeing how good Dino's Japanese was, he realized he had made a fatal error in judgment. Dino would occasionally mess up Japanese slang despite his fluency, which was the only indication of his foreign origins. His puns were disasters, and the common analogies ended up sounding like poetry gone wrong. Hibari never bothered to correct him and sometimes found himself biting back a smirk when Dino verbally embarrassed himself in public.

Then there were the things that neither satisfied nor annoyed him; just casual observations that Hibari more or less had not formulated opinions on. He left these merely as apathetic observations with no emotion whatsoever attached to them. There would be time later to decide how he felt.

One, Dino apparently disliked tea. In his country, coffee was favored more strongly, and he, like the baby, guzzled espresso like it was a depleted resource. He didn't consume much alcohol, at least as much as Hibari had seen. Later Hibari would come to grow fond of dry sake, and Dino would still stick to his double shots of espresso in the mornings. Maybe it was how Dino always stayed so chipper.

Two, he was almost always late. Be it a meeting, a sparring session, or even the ring battles, Dino could be guaranteed to arrive tardy. It was nothing extreme, but at least he, unlike some people Hibari could name (not to mention himself), bothered to show up at all.

Three. For his too-big skater clothes, full arm-and-neck tattoo, and "delinquent" attire, Dino proved to be rather good at math. Hibari had no trouble believing that Dino had singlehandedly solved his all of his family's financial pinches. On those days when Dino would visit the high school, he and Gokudera would sometimes talk in what Hibari came to bitterly call Calculese, also know as discussions on all things math and numbers. Hibari was smart, but even he harbored the almost natural dislike of arithmetic that seemed to come as a prerequisite for teenage boys. His common motto was that all the math in the world couldn't help you if your bones were broken, and he intended to stick with it, thank you very much.

Four. Though not germane to anything in particular, Hibari took note of the fact that Dino was the only individual to his knowledge who could eat the cooking of Gokudera Hayato's sister and live to tell the tale.

Five, Dino never forgot birthdays. Things that held no meaning for Hibari slipped from his mind and were lost into that cranial abyss that not even the strongest of mental plungers could retrieve. Dino, however, remembered dates and birthdays like he remembered his own name. He always managed to go out of his way to get a little present for whoever's birthday it was, convinced that it were the small things that mattered most.

It had been in late May that Hibari had taken note of this fifth point, during the heat wave that had befallen Namimori. It had been in those merciless weeks of steamy discomfort when Hibari observed how Dino was a hell of a lot thinner than he had first assumed. He was usually clad in a bulky parka, baggy khakis and multiple layers of clothing, so Hibari had never really noticed how surprisingly underweight Dino really was. His limbs were roped in sinewy muscle, true, but they were like sticks compared to Hibari's, who were lean but healthily so. He had almost no body fat, which was odd since his face was deceivingly rounded. Hibari wondered where Dino's strength came from, if it didn't come from those scrawny chicken-limbs. It had to come from somewhere.

Six. May had also been the month in which Hibari had discovered Dino's allergies; hayfever, to be specific. It had been the most noticeable before the ring battles, when they had been training in the woods. Hibari wondered why Dino had chosen those particular locations to spar in the first place when he knew his hayfever would act up, unknowing at the time that Dino had done it for his sake. Dino tended to sneeze in groups of four or five, sometimes as many as ten, pausing to hold up a finger and scrunch up his nose as so Hibari wouldn't club him with his tonfa in the process. Afterwards he would sniff pitifully and look apologetic, to which Hibari would pretend not to notice. And yet, despite the fact that he couldn't stop coughing and sneezing, Dino still managed to beat Hibari every time.

Hibari was not one to openly voice any muted feelings he may have had of praise or extolment, but he begrudgingly admitted that Dino had his...moments.

One, he could sing. Hibari wasn't musically inclined in the least, but he thought that now he knew what they meant when they said that music was the language without words. Dino sung, always in Italian, supporting an absolutely divine baritone that seemed to resonate without the aid of a hall. He sung when tying his shoes, while wrapping up his whip, during walks. It filled in the silences that Hibari refused to pepper with words, and it was the one noise Hibari found he could tolerate out of anything. The songs were somehow mournful in their own way, and nostalgia tinctured Dino's voice probably subconsciously. Hibari didn't know what Dino sang about, and to this day, he never wants to know.

Two, Dino could both tie and unwind a triple knot in under ten seconds. It sounded like something for the Guinness Book, but Hibari had seen it with his own spying eyes. When the leather of the whips bit painfully into Hibari's flesh and contorted themselves into unfathomable twists, Dino could always untangle them in an effortless flash. He would probably be good at string games, Hibari thought vaguely.

Three, and perhaps the most respectable yet annoying thing about him, was that Dino was the obfuscating genius incarnate. Even more so than Irie Shouichi, with whom you could tell on some level that he was smart. With Dino, he just looked like an idiot. A boy-child with unruly sandy hair, skater clothes that hung on him, and a half-baked grin. That was, until you found out that he was the leader of the third most influential mafia crime syndicate in the world, and a killer.

Hibari, at fifteen, was aware that there was one big difference between Dino and himself, but found it difficult to absorb until the fighting actually began. Namely, Dino had killed people and he hadn't. Yet. The whip was used just as a weapon should be: a murderer's tool, merely as an extension of himself, as natural as a lengthy limb but twice as deadly. The moves Dino used he timed with accuracy and calculated to inflict harm. Despite his pontificating blathering and sunny laughs, Hibari saw that Dino enjoyed fighting just as much as he did. It was all a game to him, a jovial Russian Roulette in which the stakes were rendered unimportant next to the process of it all. Hibari found this the most infuriating out of anything.

Four. Dino was sickeningly caring, but Hibari observed in his mental observation log that he had a shockingly cold side. When his patience ran thin (it was rare, but it did happen) Dino would throw Hibari's insults back in his face so that they sometimes stung harder than the whips themselves. He would sometimes grow impatient with Hibari's constant references to the food chain, and tiredly remark that there was no such thing as an apex predator and that Hibari felt the need to "bite" everyone around him due to his own transparency, among other things. And when Hibari sulked over losing, Dino would tell him that he was a child who would never grow up. "Never Land isn't as nice as you think, Kyouya," he'd say.

Hibari never told Dino how much those remarks stung, because that would be admitting to harboring those herbivorous feelings. Dino seemed to know anyway, and would usually treat Hibari to mitarashi dango or other confectioneries after their sessions.

Hibari had never been to the Cavallone estate in Japan, so he didn't gather as much information as he would have liked. He liked to believe that there was a line between observing the public self and the private self. Others would have laughed at this idea behind his back (Reborn included, because, knowing everything, he seemed to see what Hibari was doing), as there really is no such thing as "private spying."

Hibari didn't know that Dino drooled in his sleep, that he put on socks before boxers, and that he kept his fruit in the refrigerator because he liked it cold. He didn't know that Dino wore reading glasses sometimes, nor that he occasionally ate the turtle food he fed Enzo because it actually tasted kind of good and the label said it was nutritious. He didn't know that Dino had been orphaned since childhood, or that he first committed murder when he was seven by drowning a man. He didn't know that on rainy nights Dino cried in his sleep because of it, and that he was afraid of the river.

Hibari would never know, unless he cared to ask, that Dino had the first four hundred digits of pi memorized, just because he could, or the fact that Dr. Shamal knew Dino's medical records by heart due to the sheer amount of tumbles down the stairs. He would never know, unless he asked, that Dino knew how to tame a frightened horse, or that he knew how to ride bareback since it was a favorite pastime of his.

He wouldn't know that it was Dino who would confront a nineteen-year-old Mukuro after he found out that Mukuro had been using his illusions to invade Hibari's dreams. He wouldn't know that by the next decade his and Dino's conversations would be held in an odd combination of Japanese, Italian, and sparse English, sometimes meshing parts of words together to create entirely new ones.

He wouldn't know that at the age of twenty, Sawada Tsunayoshi had approached Dino with advice on dealing with him, because Dino apparently knew all about dealing with "problem children."He wouldn't know about Dino and Bianchi's one night stand after the Vongola Inheritance Ceremony, and the fact that Dr. Shamal was actually okay with it. He wouldn't know that on New Years, it was Dino who rushed an unconscious Hibari to the hospital when Hibari had let a lingering cold turn into pneumonia and clot his lungs.

He wouldn't know that after Dino's fifteenth cell phone of the year fell over the George Washington Bridge on their trip to New York (don't ask), he would personally drag Dino to the Verizon store. With his kind of income, Dino could afford to repeatedly replace his phone, but Hibari, as well as the rest of the Cavallone Family, believed that the money could and should be spent elsewhere. After the incident Hibari still couldn't believe how someone who had singlehandedly solved all his family's financial pinches ended up spending four hundred US dollars of termination fees over cellular devices.

He wouldn't know that in five years from now Dino would save Superbi Squalo from an assassin's bullet at the cost of half his life, nor that Hibari himself would be the one to comfort Dino after Romario's death fifteen years down the road, singing the Italian songs Dino once sang to him when they had both had a little more sunshine in their lives.

What had started as casual espionage and individual interest had started to grow into something more personal. It was a slippery thing, like a snake with a hissing head on each end. Hibari thought he was spying on Dino for all this time, but since he was a master of his world he had discarded the possibility that others could spy on him. Dino had been taught by Reborn, the master mafioso, which was a point that many forgot due to his deceiving insouciance and warm attitude. In a million years Hibari wouldn't even consider that Dino was the only one who knew about his attraction to Suzuki Adelheid. It wasn't those two balloon-bags of skin on her torso (they made her head look too small, anyways) nor was it the ridiculously short skirt with long, coltish legs beneath them. It was the power. Granted, Hibari had first wanted to tear her throat out for questioning his authority, but it was like trying to hit his own reflection. Dino knew Hibari wanted to fight her for more reasons than one, but Hibari would never know this, and that is irrelevant.

Hibari would never know these things, and soon found out that he didn't care to. What Dino knew about him held no interest for him. Dino was tricky; he was not an omnivore but merely an unidentified creature with an eclectic palate who liked to eat a little bit of everything. And perhaps Dino knew that Hibari had been watching him since the age of fifteen, but with a guy like that, you could never be sure.

These days Hibari can rarely tell the difference between observing and spying, and half the time he doesn't even realize he's doing it anymore. Espionage is a funny thing, since you never really end up where you began.