Note(s): Yamamoto is very OOC here; please don't expect the cheery baseball lover here in this fan fiction. Also, the first two parts are somewhat set 3 years after the actual time setting (Just to clear up possible time line discrepancies). Also, I have the habit of typing different pads in different notepads, so if anything, I might have messed up with the copy-pasting (some of the parts of the fan fic might be in the wrong order. OTL). I do hope you enjoy reading still~

Yamamoto paced back and forth, breath quickened albeit his placidity told otherwise. All those years of serving under the Vongola had served their purpose – he had learned that donning masks, concealing his emotions was the most efficient way to survive. His instincts told him that succumbing to his little remaining humanity would prove fatal, especially in the battle field where they come to kill or be killed. He breathed in, and let himself slump into a nearby coach.

Tsuna could only frown at this. He rested his chin haughtily atop his interlaced fingers as he let his gaze absorb his Rain Guardian – he calculated every lax muscle on his guardian's face. He failed. Reading people was never his forte, making himself rely on his intuition more, which has never failed him even once. He straightened his legs, feeling the whir of stiff muscles brought on by a long day's work inside his study. "Yamamoto."

The Rain Guardian acknowledged his superior's presence by taking a quick glance, and just as quickly, he took his eyes away. He shifted in his seat, back pressed against the sturdy backseat to give the false impression of an appropriate posture. "Tsuna, have there been any news regarding the Cavallone?" He had to be brief; stalling had no place in the industry he worked.

With his eyes still fixated on Yamamoto, Tsuna shook his head – it was of half truth, half incredulity. His intuition had been jabbing on him; he knew that Yamamoto was hiding something. Yamamoto's steely black orbs reminded him of someone else's eyes, his Cloud Guardian's, who had for almost a week's time been missing. "All communication lines had been cut off. I've sent onii-san to rendezvous with some of Dino-san's men."

"Thank you." Yamamoto nodded mutely before he headed for the door.

Neatly pressed black suits and ties were stacked atop a suitcase, the size unimpressive – it could only hold a week's amount of garments at most. Hibari arched an eyebrow at the load; he'd prefer casuals or kimonos over suffocating bows and ties. Had Kusakabe been there, he wouldn't have had to deal with his luggage, but it couldn't be helped. His right hand man called in sick a day before his trip, business trip, to Italy; a frown gradually manifested itself on Hibari's pressed lips.

The raucous jingling of his apartment's door latch abruptly pulled Hibari's attention from packing; only one herbivore had enough guts to even set foot in the vicinity of his apartment. His frown only curved deeper, creased lines abound his forehead. He pulled out his steel tonfas and stormed out his bedroom, only to find that the intruder had already welcomed himself in. "Yamamoto Takeshi."

Yamamoto managed a smile – albeit ambiguous, clouded. Hibari's apartment had not changed for he was not the one for aesthetics, practicality being his priority. The sharp contrast of the blacks and whites in the room served its purpose well, a perfect reflection of the master that graced the abode. Yamamoto only let his smile crawl wider, soliciting a rasp scowl from Hibari. "You didn't throw out the couch," he said as he felt fine leather under his finger tips.

"I'm busy."

"A job?"

"I have no obligation to answer you. Leave." Hibari turned on his heels and left for his bedroom; his schedule was taut, leaving him no time for idle chat. He jammed the clothes into the suitcase in an almost uncouth manner.

"To Italy?" Yamamoto directed his weight to the length of the bedroom door's jamb, his hands casually folded in front of his chest. The smile had gone, a grimace steadily spreading in its place.

"I don't need to answer you. I'm leaving." Before Hibari was able to set a foot outside his room, Yamamoto crashed their lips together, an impulsive swoop making Hibari lose breath. He had himself enfolded in Yamamoto's grasp, his hands searching, progressing deeper. Hibari hated being dominated over, being lead; he gaped, a threat, not permissive in anyway.

Yamamoto pulled himself away, allowing Hibari a hiss. "My, my. Biting again?"

"Bastard." Hibari would have derived pleasure from dealing hurt to the herbivore before him, but time was ticking. "I'm going to kill you when I get back."

With all regards, Hibari Kyouya was a man who had not been bound to anything – a ceaselessly evolving entity to his subordinates, allies. A figure that never fails to strike fear among their adversaries, truly a force to be reckoned with. They had thought he wasn't human – a phantom, an entity devoid of all human emotions; they had been wrong.

The skylark who had been distant, flaunting it's wings with pride, had fallen. Hard.

The heavy doors moaned reluctantly as it gave way to the slightest force that Hibari had directed; grace not usually present in the disruptive Cloud Guardian. Tonight, just for tonight, he let the peculiar subtlety engulf himself; bringing forth a Hibari unknown to any other, except maybe, the lone figure sprawled on the bed – his lover, one who he considered better half, conquering even his ceaseless pride – the Don of the Cavallone.

In the darkness of the night, he steadily undressed himself, eager to join Dino in the comfort of the inviting bed covers. The mattress gave way to Hibari's weight – consuming his lithe frame like it did his lover – merely an arm's length away. He reached for Dino's golden locks, only to be responded with by a kiss, warmth seething through his wrists, and a soothing smile.

"Buongiorno, Kyouya." The raven-hair had no means of knowing whether the don had slept a wink tonight, but there was something that he knew for certain – hearing his voice was the only thing he needed to feel at home, despite the distance from his first love, Namimori. "Welcome home."

Hibari rewarded his lover with a light kiss to the tip of the nose, sending him waves of nausea yet somewhere in the middle of it all, searing heat.

In the perception of the Vongola, the integration of their Cloud Guardian into the Cavallone did not pose any considerable threat. As a matter of fact, it would serve a foundation, an unyielding bridge for the Alliance. However, the Cavallone thought otherwise. Dino had been bombarded by marriage proposals insurmountable times – a clever, almost diabolical scheme – rejecting having evolved from common courtesy to a dreaded routine.

"Kyouya, please. Just-" After a significant number of missed appointments and broken promises, Hibari saw his very little patience dwindling. He wasn't one for sentimentality but he was possessive, almost suffocating. The present set-up, he thought, would only regress – the Cavallone Family showed no signs of deterring. The Cavallone Decimo was not getting any younger and a blood successor had to be had.

"Let's end this." Hibari spat, almost a tinge of accusation sullying his words.

Dino cupped Hibari's face into his pair of cold, trembling hands. Definitely, this was something – even he – would dare not let go. This something which had provided him everything in the past years that Hibari and he had been together – passion and blood altogether. The pain of separation was something he could not fathom, even as Hibari pierced him with his words.

"Kyouya…" Dino bent down to kiss the other man, hoping that this presence would linger in his lips until he perishes, if not forever. He took him into his arms, slowly allowing himself to sink into Hibari's scent, etching this scene into his very core. "I love you… grazie, Hibari."

The last time that they could call each other their own was their last night together, much to their mutual resentment. Both had been sleepless, relentless, yet entwined in each others' bodily warmth. Hibari languidly tousled Dino's golden hair, burying himself into his sturdy chest and then dozing off to what seemed like an eternity.

The following morning, Dino had gone; what greeted Hibari was the undeviating solitude that filled the overwhelming void, made evident by the spacious, cold bed.

It had started out a fine day, the sky a streak of blue and the clouds scarce enough to ignore. Hibari ignored his superior's order countless time, today not being an exception – a blood bath had to be done, else, his insatiable craving for carnage would be left unsatisfied, only mounting in the palm of his hands. He shifted his gaze, catching his subordinate's eyes in a deadlock. He took his eyes away as easily as they've met, realizing that the person, the herbivore, in front of him would only leave distaste, a clawing feeling.

Days turned into weeks – the time he had not seen, or even heard a peep from his herbivore – the only entity he had truly called his own. The unrest, anxiety had been getting on his nerves, but surely, he wasn't one to articulate desires, only thoughts of dealing hurt and bathing in the ecstasy it granted him flood his mouth. He refuses to let any trace, hint of human emotions lay waste to his pride.

The subtle screech of car tires shook him, even for only a second. He descended the moment the car went to a full stop – it was time to release his suppressed desires.

Tsuna had his brows knitted yet again; his Cloud Guardian was being more of a nuisance than leverage – his only purpose being a threat – a living, breathing slaughterer. He had his attention constantly diverted to internal dispute among his subjects, stemming from the Cloud's insubordination. He resigned his shoulders to an unappealing slouch. "It can't be helped," Tsuna thought mockingly; even he was petrified by the notion of inciting his Guardian's fury.

He practically buried his head in his hands indifferently, setting aside the pile of paper work that he knew he had to do – Hibari alone was his biggest problem at the present.

Gokudera happened to be on his way to the Decimo's study to report on the current state of affairs, only to find his boss slumped face-first into his paper work, and almost immediately, he knew what the problem was. He cleared his throat and made his presence known by knocking on the oak doors that beautified the unsophisticated study. "Tenth," he said nonchalantly, sensing his boss's anxiety.

"Ah, Gokudera." Tsuna scrambled to regain his composure, blowing a breath of air. "So, what of Hibari-san?" Gokudera attempted to conceal the unpromising news in the guise of a feeble smile, which he would have pulled off, if it weren't for Tsuna's intuition. He sighed, his repressed frustration steadily coming out into the open. "I'm guessing you don't know where he is?"

"I'm sorry Tenth."

The apology only escalated Tsuna's burden; he should have know that Hibari would be unaccounted for. He'd lost count of the missed meetings, unattended occasions. He was the Cloud Guardian, nothing more, nothing less. He waved his hands, a make-shift sign of tolerance – albeit his face said otherwise – soliciting yet another apology from his right hand man.

Light had barely peered through the curtains inside Gokudera's obscured room when he had made a call to the Foundation – his eyelids refusing to stay open even for a length of a minute – intent on finding out their Cloud's disclosed schedule. An attendant, a sensible sounding one at that, had picked up the phone. Initially, Gokudera had asked where Kusakabe Tetsuya, Hibari's right-hand-man, was and received a more than appropriate response, but when it came to Hibari's, it had been enough to make Gokudera to slam his tightly curled fists into the side table.

"I'm sorry, but we cannot publicize our head's schedule." Dial tone.

The Sun Guardian had been keeping a watchful eye inside the Vongola Decimo's study, being fully aware of the situation. Without the Cloud Guardian, the Vongola's fighting prowess had dwindled considerably – lurking adversaries were bound to come out in the open. And as expected, they did. Gokudera set out to take care of the opposition, with the risks involved in mind.

Tsuna threw a sidelong glance at his onii-san, only to find a pair of lackluster eyes replacing those that had been a mirror of youthful gleam. He gritted his teeth, hard enough that they had produced a sound most unpleasant. Who had been the one who steadily robbed them of their youth? Even the start of their decay had become a puzzle to him. Perhaps, it had been when they first had a feel of their weapons, which until now, their life-long allies or... Tsuna chased his thoughts away; daydreaming, he deemed, is unfit for a mafia boss whose hands had recurrently been soiled with blood.

A phone call. Ryohei excused himself, giving Tsuna the privacy that he might need. True enough, he recognized the familial voice, despite its utter rasp. "Dino-san," he spoke with perfect calm, putting the dismal purpose of the call aside. The tragedy that had befallen his Cloud Guardian had not remained secreted from the Cavallone's sizable information network; Tsuna had long been expecting a call from his stand-in brother later, if not sooner. "It was not your fault."

"I…" From the receiver, Tsuna had made out Dino's heavy, spaced breathing, pangs of remorse sinking in. Seven months was not ample time to forget, he thought earnestly, as he contemplated – and tried to grasp – the sentiments and burden that his Cloud Guardian bore, alone, and perhaps, the very same baggage the other mafia don carried. "I shouldn't have left him."

Tsuna could only mutter a silent 'maybe'; he couldn't blame Dino, for he wasn't the only one who had to leave something –someone – behind for the greater good of their respective famiglias. "You had no choice." Tsuna had a brief recollection of his own selfless sacrifices, marring his face with unspeakable agony. "You and I both had no choice."

Dino felt his fingers steadily digging into his knees – he did have a choice. A selected heir. Romario had not been in the right mind when he had brought it up, but all the while he reminded his superiore that he swore his servitude to him and not to the family, the most Dino had been able to muster was a weak smile.

"Tsu-Tsuna, could I-"

Intuitively, Tsuna knew what Dino had wanted to say. "Of course you can drop by the hospital, Dino-san. Hibari-san still hasn't…" His words remained immobile in his throat, like sour bile rising from his stomach. "Hibari-san still hasn't regained consciousness."

Ear-splitting static tore through the phone line before it went dead.

A rat had skilfully infiltrated the Foundation, an occurrence almost unspeakable to anyone. Information leaked – from box research to the Cloud Guardian's unkempt schedule – to the rival famiglias, spreading like rabid wildfire. Scheming about Hibari's untimely demise came across almost naturally.

An ambush. Hibari had remained unfazed, callous; he welcomed the challenge with a grin – almost nerve-racking – on his curled lips, making the enemies' grounded resolve waver, even for just a blink of an eye. He expertly eluded the riveting bullets shot after shot, beating down all enemies inside his perimeter in the process. To him, it had all been a game – a mere dance between life and death – whose outcome he barely has care for.

For the most part, lady luck smiled upon him. A shot to the leg earlier had rendered it useless, triggering a wave of bullets spewing to his direction. He wouldn't have made it out with his life still intact, save the fact that Kusakabe had discovered the leak at an almost impeccable timing and rushed to where Hibari was.

The whitewashed walls. The lingering scent of disinfectant. This had been a too familiar dream that far too often seeped, intermixed itself groggily into reality. The don of the Cavallone brandished blood – of his own and others who had crossed his path – like a crest burned into his legacy. A bitter ploy never degenerating after every run, only thrusting forward, fuelling a ceaseless cycle of revenge and loathing. It was not a fitting time to question morality; he threaded through the voiceless corridor with ease.

He walked further into the hospital, pace unchanged, only to find more and more of Vongola's men – barefaced and not – disseminated deep in the complex. After all, Hibari Kyouya had won one too many enemies, lost none. Along the way, he had dismissed most of his subordinates, save for Romario. If there had been any chance, a tiny sliver of chance, that Hibari had somehow regained consciousness, Dino didn't want him to grit his teeth at the sight of the hordes of men in black.

He had chanced upon Gokudera, who greeted him with an accommodating nod, directing him towards yet another length of corridor, but to him it mattered not. Tonight, he had allowed himself that sprightly enthusiasm that he had long discarded; a glimpse of his dear Kyouya at his weakest, most vulnerable state was both a dream that had for a long time remained a spectre for what it was and a rock that had plummeted to the pits of his stomach.

Overly familiar footsteps had urged Yamamoto to raise his gaze up, only to find Don Cavallone – with the strangely amicable Vongola Storm Guardian – heading towards his direction. From afar, he had surmised that both had been, and are, talking about Hibari, speech reading being a habit, a skill honed from various attempts at espionage. He halted both, his right arm coolly rested on the hilt of his katana. "Don Cavallone," he extended his left hand in proposition of a hand shake, albeit the boil in blood had been left unconcealed. "Gokudera."

Something was off. Yamamoto had never been one to entertain formalities, more so instigate them. "Oi, Yamamoto," Gokudera's tone was no more than a shadow of what it had been merely some seconds before; it was now accusatory, spiteful. "Is there something bothering you?"

Yamamoto shook his head, brows crossed. Of course there was something wrong. "It makes me wonder how Don Cavallone could even indulge the thought of visiting Hibari-san here." A thoughtless smile, Yamamoto's only ally after all the years spent in bloodshed, had been absent, a horrid grimace in its stead.

"What are you saying you idiot?" Gokudera knew that Yamamoto was a fool, but never did he realize that his idiocy was up to this extent; he also witnessed how Dino's subtle smile morphed into a mask of pain, regret, realization and everything in between.

Yamamoto read Gokudera as expertly as he did their lips. "Apologies are unnecessary, Tsuna had been naive." The attack to his revered Tenth's name had been the last straw; Gokudera deemed it enough reason to send a solid blow to Yamamoto's face.

There he was, Hibari Kyouya, the very epitome of Tsuna's weaknesses, incompetence. As life's clockwork set one of its disdainful ironies into play – this abomination – had been one to re-establish the Vongola's foundation with an iron fist. Unspeakably so, even Gokudera had acknowledged this fact. Hibari's pseudo-dominance had been the force behind the great empire which was, and is, the Vongola.

Gokudera exhaled lineless whiffs of smoke sharply, a scene to behold on its own. Before, he had been mindful to show no traces of a reoccurring vice, a crutch far too often considered a flaw; now out in the open, he breathed in, as if flaunting a well-deserved medal of valor. It had been a sign, a mere premonition of thunderclouds' coming to being.

Opposite Gokudera, Yamamoto observed him as he crushed his cigarette against the sole of his polished leather shoe. The devoted right-hand man, he thought wryly; he felt the cold cylinder resting securely on his middle finger, a constant reminder of his status, his obligation. He sucked in a breath full of air and expelled it with equal intensity. He had been forgiven. He had almost gagged at the thought of being forgiven on the grounds all but related to sympathy, kinship. He tensed his grip on the sheath of his katana, barring him the privilege of finding himself in a fit of laughter.

"Move aside herbivores." That all too familiar glower which added to Gokudera's disorientation, his face paler – as the rancorous Cloud Guardian cast his veil of malice, blood lust. Yamamoto watched as Gokudera fumbled clumsily for his pack of cigarettes, his usual composure gone. With their all too numerous brushes with death, it had not occurred to Yamamoto that the fear that the former prefect instilled unto his comrades had lingered, showing no signs of dissipating.

The door remained soundless, despite the utter lack in grace when Hibari had tugged it shut. A business habit, Yamamoto mumbled. Hibari had been a shadow, submerging into the darkness, his own element. Mute. Unmoving.

A lit cigarette aimed a few inches from his face tore Yamamoto off his thoughts. "What the hell are you thinking?" Gokudera was never one who curtailed his emotions or made any attempt to. "Bear the briefing in mind, you baseball freak."

Two knocks on wood was Yamamoto's cue.

"Hibari-san, it's good to see you up and well." Tsuna's greeting solicited little to no reaction from his Guardian. He knew that he had to get things over with promptly; his Cloud Guardian was never – and will never be – one who waited or had the patience to wait. He breathed in, preventing his lips from curling downward, in anticipation for his Cloud's retaliation. "I'm deploying you back to Japan."

"What's your purpose Sawada?" Hibari shot up, the tensing of his arms obvious. He felt the cold tips of his tonfas, which were camouflaged under a thick layer of his own clothing. "You do know that I'm not one for sentimentality."

"Indeed. But as long as you're in Italy, forgetting about Dino-san would be-" Tsuna felt the icy tips of Hibari's tonfa nearly crushing his throat; he let a genuine smile escape his lips as he kicked his desk twice.

"What do you think you're doing Hibari?" Yamamoto dropped the common courtesy he had, discarding the -san he'd always used; he always followed his orders through, regardless of their rationale.

"What is it to you herbivore?"Hibari never had the chance to flinch; Yamamoto used the hilt of his katana to strike the stitch of a two month old gun wound and let thick blood seep through one more.

Tsuna's mouth went ajar as he saw his Cloud Guardian on the floor, writhing in pain, blood seeping through the layers of his clothes and into the thick carpet. Shooting Yamamoto a look of apprehension, almost reprimanding – the swordsman stood, his face motionless. It had been the same, those eyes bearing nothing but emptiness, the same thing that had corrupted Ryohei's. He returned his gaze at Hibari, now kneeling, eyes a mirror of agony and animosity.

Gaining solid footing, Hibari gathered his breath, gripping his tonfas which were now stained with his own blood. His mouth slowly curved into an awkward angle – a mask of a macabre he was about to cause. The shot wound to his side was now screaming, his black over-coat now a dank color of red. "You bastard," he hissed violently through his gritted teeth.

"Come." Yamamoto slowly unsheathed his katana, eyes fixated on the demon before him. He had long forgotten the fear of death – it was nothing but an impediment – as ingrained by the countless times he had faced it head on. What used to be a glint of blue flame had now engulfed his blade; he is ready for a strike.

Tsuna muttered a silent curse. He took out his gloves and dying will pills altogether; it was apt time to stop this idiocy. "Both of you," He brought his hands up gradually at a 90-degree angle to his nimble body; he never used his authority nor power to lord over his family – his friends – before, but now is high time he did. "Stop or I won't hesitate charring both of you." He would rather have himself annihilate his own family than seeing them claw and tear at each other.

With the flick of his blade, Yamamoto's rain attribute flames have defused – he retracted his katana as he caught Tsuna's gaze.

Blood had been profusely pouring from Hibari's gaping wound. No matter how much he willed his body not to crumble, his feeble knees gave way, leaving his tonfas to be the only support for his weight. He had a brief coughing fit, leaving conspicuous splotches of blood on the lush carpet.

"We'll talk later." Tsuna frowned upon Yamamoto, something that had been unperceivable all throughout Tsuna's reign as the Tenth. It had been the first time – and the only time – when he dared show apprehension, reprimand towards any of his guardians. He dashed for the door, signalling franticly for medics. It had been a good thing that his reliable right hand man had been standing watch, just in case things got out of hand.

The medical staff rushed in, nursing the fallen and seething Cloud Guardian, his malicious glare still fixated on the stoic Rain Guardian. In retaliation, Yamamoto smiled, his teeth peering through the unsightly curve that graced his lips. He feasted his eyes on the form sprawled in front of him, once a steadfast, proud entity, now a mere shell of the former self. He let a chuckle part his lips, only to be pierced by the escalated bloodlust emanating from the Cloud.

To be continued; reviews loved.