Title: Memory of a Skylark
Genre: Romance, Drama, some Humor
Warnings: shounen ai/yaoi/malexmale relationship/slash/whatever the hell you want to call two guys getting together, major OOC-ness, probably some grammar mistakes here and there
Summary: Perhaps it was fate that led him to that possessed book. Well, it was either that or he was completely off his rockers. And considering his position, Dino couldn't afford to be crazy.
Disclaimer: I don't own KHR or its characters.
He found it in a little corner bookshop, underneath a pile of heavy tomes.
The twenty-one-year-old Cavallone Don didn't know why he had felt the sudden desire to sneak out of the mansion this morning or why his feet brought him to this particular shop. But here he was, standing in a dark corner of a dusty old bookshop and staring down at a particular book that had caught his eye.
Dino, by all rights, should have been freaking out about this whole scenario but something was calling him. He could hear a voice whispering his name, a soft coaxing voice only he could hear, and it was driving him crazy. And to make matters worse, he could have sworn that the origin of the voice was this book.
The black cover looked new, very expensive and completely out of place among the tattered books scattered around it. The only bit of color on the book was a small gold depiction of a skylark on the spine.
Feeling a little unnerved, Dino opened the book only to find blank pages.
"You can have it if you want, young man."
The blond jumped at least a foot in the air at the dry, raspy voice directly behind him. Dino spun around and tried to calm his racing heart as he studied the rickety old man solemnly watching him. "Um…you're giving it to me?"
The old man nodded. "It has been waiting for someone special to find it for a very long time. Perhaps it is fate that led you here today, young one."
Dino glanced down at the book, wondering if the shop keeper was talking literally or figuratively. After all, books weren't sentient…right? "I can't possibly…"
"You can and you will because that book has already made the decision for you."
Ten minutes later, Dino stumbled out of the shop with the book in hand. He couldn't quite remember the details of how he had been convinced to take it without paying, but the old man succeeded somehow. "Does…does this count as stealing?"
The blond spotted a furious Romario storming towards him and he nervously gulped. Before his subordinate could begin the lecture about the dangers of sneaking out without protection, Dino sheepishly grinned. "I'm fine, Romario, so let's just go home."
The book warmed in his hand at the mention of home, but Dino shook it off as his imagination. That old man had put some weird ideas in his head, that's all.
A week later, Dino could fully admit that he was no longer in denial about the clearly possessed book.
It had been little things at first.
For the first few days, Dino often found the book closed when he could have sworn that he left it open and vice versa. He then tried to put it in a random place in the vast library but found it sitting innocently on his desk the next day. When he had had enough and threw into the trash, he woke up the next morning with its weight on his lap.
At his wits end and terrified beyond belief, Dino went through drastic measures to make sure the book disappeared and stayed gone. He ripped out every page, shredded them and burned everything, including the cover. As the black smoke drifted away and only a few embers were left, he breathed a sigh of relief.
"You're an idiot."
The blond yelped and spun around to find himself face to face with a disgruntled Asian man wearing an expensive suit. It took him a moment to realize the other had spoken in Japanese, a language he had inexplicably felt the urge to learn sometime during his teen years. "Who are you and how did you get in here?"
Gray eyes narrowed speculatively at the blond. "You…really are an idiot. Did you think you could get rid of me so easily?"
Dino blinked. "Excuse me?"
The strange man held something out. "Burning it won't accomplish anything."
The young Cavallone Don gaped down at the black book with the golden skylark depicted on the spine. It was in perfect condition. "W-Why…how…what the hell?"
"Hmph. There's no need for such language, Cavallone." The Asian man carelessly shoved the book into the blonde's hands as he delivered the light censure.
Dino sputtered a little before realizing he had a tight grip on the possessed book. Yelping, he tossed the book away and it landed on the pile of ashes. It suddenly dawned on him that there were ashes but the book was unscathed.
"I told you, didn't I? Burning the book won't do anything."
The blond turned to the stranger. "Who are you?"
"...Do you…really not know who I am, Cavallone?"
Frustrated, Dino growled, "How the hell am I supposed to know who you are? This is the first time I've ever laid eyes on you. For that matter, how did you get past security?"
Narrowed gray eyes watched Dino flail his arms about as he ranted. When the blond finally calmed somewhat, the Asian mockingly raised a brow as if asking whether he was done or not.
It earned a glare from the Don. Having just had enough, Dino opened his mouth to call for his subordinates.
"Don't bother, Cavallone. They'll just think you're crazy."
The blond hesitated when he heard the odd reasoning. Why would his men consider him crazy? It was only common sense to get rid of intruders…then again, his men would be upset that he had waited so long before calling for help. Dino wondered for a moment if it wasn't the Asian who was the crazy one before he raised his voice to call for Romario.
The smooth admonishment from the almost amused stranger left Dino strangely unsettled as he caught sight of Romario approaching.
"I'm crazy. There's no other explanation." Dino continued to mumble to himself and proceeded to wear a hole in the carpet with his pacing while the Asian man casually lounged on his bed. The blond tried to ignore the arrogant smirk plastered on the other man's face.
"I told you, Cavallone."
Dino clenched his fingers in his hair. "Shut up! Just shut up! You're not even real!"
"Hn. I assure you, I am very real."
"Romario couldn't see you! No one was able to see you!"
The stranger winced slightly at the blonde's frantic shrieks and evenly replied, "That's why I told you not to call them."
The Cavallone Don childishly covered his ears and tried to reason out the whole thing. "I'm hallucinating. I probably breathed in the smoke when I burned that book. That explains everything." He nodded to himself. "Right, I'm not crazy. I'm not going crazy. It's the ashes or the smoke or something like that. The book's gone. I'll never see it again. When I open my eyes, that person will be gone because it's just a figment of my overactive imagination. I'm the only one in the room."
Holding his breath, Dino opened his eyes and looked towards the bed. Relief rushed through him when he saw the unoccupied bed. Smiling, the blond turned to go tell Romario the good news.
And had something hard smack into his face.
Rubbing his now red nose, Dino peered up at the culprit and froze when he saw the Asian man standing in front of him with that damn book held out at face-level. The blond scrambled back, losing his footing in the process and landed with a heavy thump, all the while mimicking a fish like an idiot.
The Asian tilted his head to the side and scrutinized Dino with an intensity that had the blond shivering. It seemed as if the stranger came to a decision because he straightened up and smirked. "You're amusing, Cavallone. I think I'll stick around for a while."
Dino silently watched with wide eyes as the Asian sauntered over to the bed and made himself comfortable again.
"If you wake me up, I'll bite you to death."
The blond didn't know what to make of the odd threat, but something told him it wasn't anything pleasant.
It took Dino two weeks to get used to his ghostly(?) stalker.
It unnerved him at first to have the Asian following him everywhere. The blond had eventually been forced to put his foot down and drew a line at letting the Asian into the bathroom while he bathed. It had earned him an arrogant leer, which Dino would later deny left him a little flustered.
Then there were the constant threats of death by mastication or whatever it was the Asian liked to say. A few days into their…acquaintanceship, Dino learned what it meant to be bitten to death. It had been a hell of a time trying to convince his subordinates that the strange bruises and such were products of a tumble down the stairs and not something suspicious. Dino had a feeling that Romario didn't quite believe the normally believable excuse.
The discomfort of having a possible specter watching him at all times slowly faded as he got used to the quiet Asian. About a week and a half after their first meeting, Dino finally asked him his name.
The Asian thought for a few minutes before replying, "You may call me Kyouya."
Dino sneaked glances at the Asian sitting on the windowsill while he picked at his food. "Hey, Kyouya."
Gray eyes flickered over to him. "What is it?"
"Don't you get hungry? I mean, I haven't seen you eat at all, unless you've been sneaking into the kitchen in the middle of the night to steal food."
There was a scoff. "Don't be stupid, Cavallone. I have no need for sustenance. Besides," Kyouya cast a dubious look at the pasta dish in front of Dino. "Your choice of cuisine does not coincide with my tastes."
Dino scowled. "There's nothing wrong with pasta! Don't judge something if you've never tried it before!" The blond paused when he saw the odd look on the other's face. "Kyouya? What's wrong?"
The Asian blanked his face and looked away. "Nothing."
"…Are you upset?"
"No. Just eat, Cavallone. Surely, your parents taught you not to play with your food."
Dino felt a grin tugging at his lips. "Of course they did. But, you're doing such a good job reminding me of my manners."
Kyouya turned back to the outside scenery, murmuring under his breath, "You haven't changed at all."
The blond blinked in confusion. "What do you mean?"
A stubborn silence was his only reply.
Dino quickly learned that Kyouya enjoyed making dry, sarcastic statements at the most inconsiderate times.
Like when he had had a meeting with the Don of a smaller Family. Halfway through negotiations, Kyouya must have gotten bored because he started commenting on the other Don's…more unsightly characteristics and mannerisms.
Dino had barely been able to choke back the laughter threatening to burst out at some of the statements, having had to fake a coughing fit several times much to Romario's disapproval. Though he tried to send discreet glares at the Asian, Kyouya merely ignored them.
Later as the blond frowned at the unrepentant Asian once again lounging on the bed, Dino half-heartedly attempted to chastise him.
"You're noisy, Cavallone. Always trying to lecture me about pointless things."
"What?" Dino gave the other an odd look. "This is the first time I've tried to lecture you."
Kyouya opened his eyes to peer at the confusion painted on the Don's face. "Hn. Is that so?"
The blond dropped into a chair and tried to piece together the puzzle. When they first met, Kyouya had asked him if he knew who he was. Then, there was the day when Kyouya had muttered that Dino hadn't changed at all. The blond figured he wasn't supposed to have overheard the comment.
There were other moments when Kyouya would have a somewhat nostalgic look in his eyes as he stared out the window overlooking the gardens. Then the comment he made just now.
Dino stared at the man half-snoozing on his bed. There had always been a faint sense of familiarity when it came to Kyouya, but the blond had staunchly ignored it up until now. "Hey, Kyouya." He waited until the other opened his eyes again before continuing. "Who do you see when you look at me?"
Kyouya tensed a little before relaxing again. Had Dino been anything other than a Mafioso, he probably wouldn't have noticed the Asian's discomfort at the question. Kyouya rolled onto his side to show the blond his back. "What a ridiculous question."
"Is it now?" Dino stood and moved over to the bed. "I don't think it is."
"You're making connections that do not exist."
The blond chuckled and settled himself on the edge of the bed. "Perhaps I am. Let's blame it on my analytical nature. I am a Mafia Don."
There was a short silence before Kyouya whispered, "I know."
Dino's mirth vanished. "Kyouya?" He knew he hadn't imagined the sadness that tinged the soft whisper.
"Shut up, Cavallone, before I bite you to death. I'm sleepy."
The blond sighed, knowing any attempt to pry further would only gain him a tonfa to the face. When it came to defending his sleep, Kyouya didn't hold back his hits.
Dino languidly stretched, glad that the paperwork for the day was finally done. Kyouya, who had a habit of making himself comfortable on the windowsill while Dino worked, glanced at him for a moment before returning his attention to the scenery outside again. The setting sun painted the sky and a few floating clouds a deep orange.
The blond smiled at the sight. "It's almost dinnertime."
Dino's smile didn't falter. Kyouya had been sticking to monosyllables since that little confrontation a few nights ago. "Are you still sulking?"
Gray eyes glared at the blond for daring to ask such a thing. "I do not sulk."
"Of course not. All you've done for the past few days is stare out at the garden and sleep. I think I'm getting lonely."
The orange sunset reflected off polished steel. "Shall I bite you to death, Cavallone? I'm sure you won't feel lonely for the few weeks you spend recovering."
Dino warily held up his hands. "Please don't. It's hard to pass off those bruises as accidents." He relaxed when the tonfa disappeared. "But, you still haven't answered my question. You look at me but it's not me you're seeing. I just want to know who."
Kyouya scowled. "It's irrelevant."
"Ah, so you admit it."
"I have not denied your claim."
Dino made a sound of agreement. "Are you a ghost?"
The Asian raised a brow. "Do you think I am a ghost?"
"I don't know." Dino considered the answer. "My men can't see or hear you while I can. Physical contact is possible between us, and you feel pretty solid to me. Especially your tonfa." The blond rubbed his side where a phantom ache reminded him of the first time he accidentally woke up the irritable Asian. "You don't eat but you like to sleep a lot. You're…really confusing."
Kyouya smirked. "I am not a ghost but I am dead. I have been dead for some time now."
"But…you're not a ghost?" The blonde's confusion was almost palpable. "Is that supposed to make sense?"
"Hn. Who knows. I don't care about the specifics of what I am or how I came to be like this. I just know I lived once."
Dino tapped his cheek in thought. "It's possible that you are a ghost, but you just don't realize it."
"Impossible. I know I am not some specter. Do not make me repeat myself, Cavallone."
"Alright, alright. You're not a ghost." The blond sighed. "Do you remember how you died?"
Dino waited for more but Kyouya stayed silent. "So? Will you tell me?"
"No. There is no reason for me to disclose such information to you. And, it's time for dinner."
"What?" Dino glanced at the clock. "Huh. That was quick." He pushed himself up onto his feet and made his way to the door.
The blond stopped and looked back. "Yes?"
Sharp gray eyes gleamed eerily in the darkening room, and it took everything Dino had to keep eye contact. "When I look at you, I see Dino Cavallone."
That night as he ate dinner by himself, Dino couldn't help but shake the heavy feeling that though Kyouya had spoken his name, he had meant someone else.
The next two days were spent searching through the history of the Cavallone Family.
Dino began with more recent members and worked his way back since he didn't know how long Kyouya had been dead and the amount of records dramatically decreased as he worked backwards.
He neglected the paperwork in his office and was running on coffee and intense curiosity. His subordinates gave him worried looks, but Dino just waved them off.
When he finally found the one he was searching for, Dino cursed and started banging his head on the table.
"Can you really afford to destroy whatever is left of your brain, Cavallone?"
The blond stopped and looked up at the Asian casually leaning against the desk. "You could have told me to start from the beginning of the Cavallone Family. It would have saved a lot of time."
Kyouya shrugged. "You did not listen to me. I remember saying that I had been dead for some time. It is your own fault for not taking into consideration my earlier statements."
Dino groaned and let his head fall back down onto the desk. "So…"
"Go bathe and eat an actual meal. Then get some sleep. Your current lack of hygiene is irritating me."
"This can wait until you are fully coherent."
The blond smiled tiredly. "You'd make a surprisingly decent parent, Kyouya."
"…You have five seconds to get up before I bite you to death."
Dino pretended to not notice how Kyouya's voice was just a bit gentler. Then, he decided his observation may have just been due to his exhaustion when a steel tonfa nearly put a dent in his skull.
Several nights later after he caught up with all his paperwork under Romario's strict supervision, Dino brought the issue back up with Kyouya. "Cavallone Primo."
"What of him, Cavallone?"
The blonde leaned back in his chair, examining the book that started everything. "Who was he to you? And how does this book fit into the picture?"
Gray eyes peered contemplatively at the Don. "He…" Kyouya trailed off. He looked uncertain for a moment before rolling off the bed and pacing over to the window. "Do you really want to know the truth, Cavallone? I cannot be a ghost because I am not a soul. Though I use the name 'Kyouya,' I am not truly him."
Dino amiably went along with the subject change. "Then who are you?"
"I am nobody, just the memory of a skylark bound to the book you hold in your hands. That man…the Dino Cavallone from generations ago…when he wrote in that journal, he wrote with more than just ink. He placed into it his emotions, his love for me, his hopes for the future, and his pain when I disappeared from his life." Kyouya grimaced at the sheer sentimentality of the explanation.
The vague answer left Dino with even more questions, but he decided to stick to the book. "The pages are empty."
"So they are. But, the words exist."
"Where else, idiot?" The Asian shot an annoyed look at the clueless blond.
Dino looked between the book and the irritated Japanese, mind whirling with the possibility. "You're…"
"Words and emotions given form, yes. As I said, I am not Kyouya. I am just that Dino's memories of the real Kyouya."
The blond mulled over that for a moment. "What happened? The records show he got married. But if he loved you that much…"
Kyouya shrugged. "I died and he was forced to move on with his life. He had a Family to take care of, so he did not have the time to mourn. Besides even if he did, he was the type who would never get over something like the death of one he cared about. As a Mafia Don, he did not have that luxury."
"How…how did you die?"
"Hn. Now, that's the question, isn't it?" Kyouya seemed amused at the thought of his own death. "Some say murder. Others say suicide. A few believed I merely left him to pursue my own goals. No one was able to agree on a single cause of death."
"What do you say happened?"
"Really, Cavallone. Do you enjoy making me repeat myself? I only know what your ancestor knew, and he was unable to determine whether my death was a murder or a suicide. All he knew was that he found my body one morning with a half-drunk glass of poisoned wine on the table. And that morning before he announced my death, a woman slyly approached him about marriage, claiming it was an opportune time since he was now available."
Dino straightened in his seat. "Isn't the answer obvious then?"
"It should have been obvious, but there's a problem with that assumption." Kyouya walked over and straddled the surprised blond. He playfully wrapped his arms around Dino's neck and leaned forward to whisper into the other's ear. "I am a skylark, Cavallone. And, skylarks are meant to be free. Your ancestor managed to cage me here in this mansion with promises and grandeur dreams."
Kyouya leaned back and met Dino's wide eyed stare. "Did you know, Cavallone, caged birds eventually stop singing. To be able to see the endless sky but unable to fly free. It is a maddening feeling. Your ancestor, the one for whom you were named, the one whose soul you now carry, unknowingly tied me down. The night I drank that poisoned wine, I approached him to say goodbye. And when he tried to stop me from leaving, I knocked him out." He shook his head. "There is no doubt that that woman gave me the wine. But, who's to say that I did not drink it willingly? I could not bring myself to leave the mansion, so perhaps I found my freedom another way."
"Kyouya." Dino raised his hand to run his fingers through soft black hair then pulled the unresisting skylark down for a kiss. But just before their lips made contact, Kyouya turned his head so Dino's lips pressed against his cheek instead.
The blond gave him a pleading look. "Kyouya, I think I-"
"You…" Kyouya placed a hand on Dino's chest to push the blond back. "You are not my Dino. And, I am nothing more than a memory your ancestor left behind." He met the other's troubled gaze. "I have stayed too long."
"Wait, Kyouya, don't leave!"
Kyouya hesitated for a few seconds before saying, "Your ancestor once claimed that we were soul mates. I called him a sentimental fool. But, if he was right, then surely the real Kyouya's soul would be reborn in this time as well." He tilted his head to the side. "I wonder, Cavallone. Is history to repeat itself?"
After a moment of contemplation, Dino met the other's gaze with conviction. "No. I won't let that history happen again. If I do meet him one day, I won't tie him down. If he wants to be free, then I won't stop him from going his own way."
"Even if it hurts?"
Dino gave Kyouya a pained look then closed his eyes and whispered, "Even if it hurts, I'll let him go."
"…I see. Then I will hold you to your word, Dino Cavallone."
Kyouya's weight abruptly disappeared and something hard dropped into his lap. Dino slowly opened his eyes and looked down to see the black book where Kyouya had been. He scanned the room with tenuous hope but there was no one else in the room with him. Dino almost wished he were crazy, just to continue seeing Kyouya. He softly laughed at himself for his foolishness. Only he could possibly have fallen in love with a memory.
Sighing, he picked up the book and flipped it open. Elegant writing filled the pages. He gently ran his fingers over the black ink, feeling the slight indents left by a quill. He could almost see his ancestor sitting at a desk with only a candle for light, writing about the one he had loved and lost.
Maybe one day, he would be able to meet that person, the one he had loved in another lifetime. And when he did, he would not make the same mistakes his ancestor did.
Dino closed the book with a decisive snap.
Perhaps it was fate, but several months after his twenty-second birthday, Dino received a call from his former tutor with an offer to train one of Tsuna's Guardians for the Ring Battle.
"His name is Hibari Kyouya. He's perfect for the Could Guardian position. You'll have your hands full with that one."
Dino's heart had skipped a bit when he heard the name. "Hibari?"
"I believe it translates to 'skylark.' So, are you willing to take on a problem child, Dino?"
He didn't hesitate to accept.
When he finally stood before the sliding door of Namimori Middle School's Reception Room, Dino could hardly control his excitement. Hope drove him forward, and his heart pounded out a frantic rhythm as he opened the door.
For a moment, he saw the memory Kyouya smirking arrogantly at him as though he had never left Dino's life, then the image faded to reveal a teen glaring at him for trespassing. He knew immediately that this boy was the one.
Smirking, Dino stepped into the dark room and a brighter future. "Are you Hibari Kyouya?"
This time, he resolved, this time would be different.
This story went way off track from my original idea, and I think it came off as pretty clichéd. But, I'm happy enough with it.
Memory!Kyouya came off as pretty OOC, but I guess I can justify it by saying that he had lived in a different time period. And, he was just a collection of Cavallone Primo's memories of the real Kyouya, so the memory Kyouya couldn't think or act exactly like the original person.
Wow, that's confusing.
Anyways, I think I've procrastinated studying for my exams long enough.