A/N: This thing has seriously been on my computer for ages. When I was first writing this I'd finished it and was moving the half that begins with Hibari catching Amai onto another page and... Randomly was distracted between the cutting and the pasting so it was all freakin' lost. Yeah, that only killed my drive for this for, oh, months. It's so nerve wracking putting this up...

I feel like I didn't do too badly on this but I'll have to wait for comments, so please read and leave your two cents on anything that you liked or what you hated. The POV is in Third and sort of shifts between the OC and Hibari because I find it more interesting that way. ALSO, the beginning of this shows some of what went on in those difficult Vongola middle school years.

EDIT: Changed the rating to T because it's more appropriate a level.


Song of the chapter:

Smooth Criminal cover by Alien Ant Farm


For the years that she has known of and interacted with Hibari Kyoya, Amai Nagiku could count their passings on a single hand.

Hibari's awareness of her started one month and a week after she transferred to Namimori Middle School.

Amai had been heading home with a fever before last period and found a group of teenagers vandalizing the school. Though Amai was certainly getting sick, she felt angered at the disrespect shown to school property and the imminent bad mood it would put the schools demon into - an irrational anger she blamed her fever on. And that was the first day her father's obsession with having her learn self-defence came in handy. This is what consequently earned a most infinitesimal bit of respect from the fierce head prefect.

o0o

It was a dreary day with a sky full of black cloud and frigid winds gusting through the streets of the town. The rain, if Amai had remembered to pack the umbrella her mother pestered her to bring that morning, really would have been welcome and tranquil. As it was, Amai would have to hurry home; otherwise the wintry autumn cold would do worse than a drippy nose.

Perhaps a classmate could bring her work home- but no, she hadn't made good enough friends yet for that. Damn. Or-

She stopped in her tracks and slapped her forehead. "Aw, crap. My book."

Without a second thought Amai turned and ran around school toward the gym - the place where she left her favorite thriller novel. Her skirt fluttered in the wind that picked up after she took off down the side of Namimori, bringing goose bumps all along her legs - oh, how she cursed the mandatory skirts. Nearing a corner she noticed an odd hissing, like the sound of pressurized air let out or spray cans being used. Who could that be?

Amai pressed to the brick wall and furtively edged to the end, peaking around it. There she saw three boys from another school, each far taller and stronger looking than her, standing and painting vulgar words - and revolting pictures - on the once pristine wall. How stupid could you be to attack Namimori during the school day, let alone any time of the week?

Her round face screwed up in anger. It was one thing to vandalize your school but it's quite another to do so to someone else's. Suddenly her fever didn't matter or bother her, so much; it might have been the cold easing it. Either way Amai tied her jacket to her waist, rolled up the sleeves of her uniform and walked quietly out from her hiding place with a confidence only given to her by having years of self-defence classes under her belt. As she watched the oblivious hoodlums she had a thought: In a way she was doing them a favor...

It was better that unimportant little Amai found them than the demonic 'peace' keeper.

Amai took a deep breath and barked out, "Yo! Turn around you stupid juveniles!"

Three turned and sneered at the haughty looking shrimp standing behind them while the leader scoffed at the female voice. Then the designated 'artist' continued is masterpiece on male genitalia after adding an insult to Amai.

"What does this marshmallow-faced bitch want? Have somethin' to say?"

Without a word the female tightened her hair-tie, settled into a simple defensive stance, and made a 'come get me' motion with one hand. Oh, would they pay for that comment dearly if she could help it.

Immediately two delinquents, who were now being watched by their leader as he had just turned from his 'art', charged at her; intent on ruining that childish face. One swung a fist and the other went to kick her legs out from beneath her. The taller one got a kick to their solar plexus; the other received a vicious knee to the groin. Then both were down and out with a good kick to the head.

Their tough leader, lanky and cocky looking, leered down at Amai and through aside his spray paint can. "So the widdle girly wants to tangle with the big boys, eh?"

It was over in half a minute. Ten years of Martial Arts training came in handy, and with the delinquent assuming she was weak even after seeing her take out his goons, it made the whole thing ridiculously easy. A simple sweep with her legs knocked him on his ass and a hard kick to his stomach had him curling in on himself. She couldn't let him get a hit on her knees; they were something like her own Achilles Heel.

Unfortunately Amai had assumed she'd finished him off like the rest and as she turned to head off at a dead run to get away from this scene, but she felt something kick at the back of her knee. She crumpled and rolled onto her back, staring wide eyed at the delinquent who was planning on some vicious revenge tactics.

Thankfully it seemed to be one of Amai's good days and an idea sprung to her mind as she sat up. The next moment the delinquent saw her face screw up in abject horror and yelp out, "Holy shit! It's my principal!"

The lanky boy stumbled, face white, and he turned to look. Exposing himself to her as not a smart move, for Amai jumped to her feet, ignoring the pain in her knee, and raised her leg to lash out at him with vicious kick to the small of his back. He collapsed, twitching while he cursed her to hell.

Amai stood trembling in the cold and with adrenaline pumping through her. She couldn't help watching her fallen opponents with a bit of pride. Amai grinned crookedly down at the only one still conscious.

"If I had rope I would so tie you up for the disciplinary committee to find. They are bloody demons from what I've heard."

By now the boy would have stood up to tackle her and slice that ugly mug of hers if he wasn't in so much pain. He settled for glowering and memorizing her face for revenge later.

"Especially Hibari Kyoya, the DC leader. He'll, and in quote, 'bite' you guys to death for defacing Namimori. I hope he gets you good~!"

With that said she aimed a careful kick to the bastard's genitals and walked away on shaky legs, quite woozy now that the adrenaline was gone. "Damn fever. Dumbass juveniles. . . I want my book. . ."

As the odd girl walked away, clutching her head irritably, an impassive Hibari observed her exit. It wasn't long before she was more or less forgotten, for she had shown more luck than skill in his eyes, and nothing short of extraordinary caught the emotionally stunted young man's real interest. Although, the smallest measure of respect was awarded to her for taking care of the irritating herbivores.

He would have to have someone keep an eye on this student.

o0o

That respect was immediately retracted upon her association with Tsuna and his companions. Only two months into her first year at Namimori it was Reborn who came out of the blue to ask her to join the Family.

o0o

Lunch had started several minutes ago and Amai was hurrying to her classroom to pick up the book she'd forgotten there. She did that way too much. After stepping through the classroom door, having retrieved her book, she met a peculiar baby. He was dressed like some cross between a pimp and a Mafioso.

It really amused her when she said as much and he thanked her.

But what the young baby said, with absolutely perfect Japanese, surprised her.

"Amai Nagiku, would you like to join the Family?"

Curiosity got the better of her and she knelt in front of the child, smiling sweetly. She always had loved kids.

"How old are you, little mister?"

Amai gawked when he held up one tiny finger. A nervous smile quirked her lips and she rubbed the back of her neck, wondering if her recent insomnia was finally getting to her. "Tell me, am I the first one to find that unbelievable?"

In response to that the baby smirked and tilted his fedora to hide his face, achieving a curious combination of mystery and squeal worthy cuteness, "My question still stands Miss Nagiku. Would you like to join?"

Finding him more interesting than eating her father's boring bento, and reading her historical romance novel, Amai crawled to the wall and sat against it, watching the baby observe her.

"By family do you mean a game or something else?"

Walking towards her, enfant sized boots clacking in the empty hall, he peered up at her open and curious face.

"What do you think? Do you have any other questions?"

Amai smiled warmly, feeling cautious, and nervously played with a strand of red-brown hair. "Is money involved? I'm not exactly well off. In fact my family needs green."

"Down the line, you will be paid handsomely if you turn out how I hope."

Her gut said to agree, and back then Amai followed her instincts no matter how stupid it seemed.

o0o

For this reason, all because Reborn got it into his head that Amai would make a good member of Tsuna's growing Family, she and Hibari interacted more than she had ever thought would happen. Thus their "relationship" grew into a kind of toleration for each other when the situation called for it - like when the devilish not-baby coerced Hibari into training Amai by promising a proper fight to him. This, of course, had never happened.

No surprise there.

o0o

"Herbivore, don't disappoint me."

Then he charged, face a cold mask as he struck out at her. Hibari's movements were swift and hard to keep up with, Amai barely managed to block his tonfa's with her chosen weapon, a short metal staff.

The fight lasted less than two minutes and ended with Hibari having pinned her to the wall with his tonfa. Being an acquaintance of Hibari requires you to read his smallest expressions, and Amai could see the subtle contempt in his eyes as he pulled away.

"Pathetic. The baby said you were strong. Herbivore, if you don't improve I will bite you to death."

She had never felt weaker, more worthless, than on that evening. His words influenced her training greatly and Amai worked herself to near death simply to improve and fight him on some kind of level ground.

In the long run, without Hibari's brutal honesty she would never have grown worthy of the Vongola.

And besides, she always said at the end of the day: "At least he's not Reborn."

Poor, poor Tsuna.

o0o

It was a shock for those privileged, to hear that she had a growing fondness for the sadistic young man. Amai went out of her way to be as less of a nuisance as possible. A hopeless feat with her and Gokudera's abrasive friendship, or with them being anywhere within shouting distance.

o0o

"Gokudera! Be quiet and hurry up or I'll ditch you for being too noisy. You're going to draw unwanted attention," Amai whispered. Honestly, she'd always thought Hibari bugged the school or something.

"Shut your trap woman! If you want to go then leave me alone!" he said, practically growling each syllable.

What was it Yamamoto said? Someone needed more calcium.

They were hurrying through the halls after school, having met at the library accidentally, to meet up with Tsuna and Yamamoto. But as they rounded a corner, Amai in front of him, they bumped into the school demon. Unfortunately Amai literally smacked into the boy and fell to the ground.

Hibari watched as she paled, looking up at his eyes, and scrambled back gracelessly to get away from him. Once three feet away, with Gokudera backing up and stupidly whipping out some dynamite, she placed a hand on her chest and breathed easier.

Until she noticed her companions explosives.

She jumped to her feet and smacked him upside the head with the hardcover book she took out of her bag

"Are you seriously considering lighting those? One, I'm standing right beside you. Two, grow some common sense! If Hibari-san slaps a lawsuit on you I'm gonna be on his side."

Gokudera looked at her like she'd sprouted duckbills all over her face. Then promptly lit all eight dynamite in his hands.

Amai growled and kicked him hard in the ass.

"How can you expect to be -! No. Right now you are on your own and I'll watch Hibari beat some sense into you."

At that his cigarette fell to the floor, his face agape - and pissed. "You'd watch him pummel me?"

"Only the first hit. Then I'll turn and find Reborn. Wouldn't want Tsuna's would-be Right Hand man go into a coma," as she said this she blushed at his shocked face, absolutely sure that she saw betrayal in there. But then, she did see a lot of things not really there.

Stupid overactive imagination.

"Friends may stick together but I really need my brain cells to function," Amai said before Gokudera could blow up at her 'would-'be' comment. "Apparently if you can keep being a dunce like this you have some to spare. And besides, I know when I'm outclassed."

Gokudera had just opened his mouth to yell when Hibari hit his head hard with the tonfa. Amai meeped and bolted down the hall while Hibari dealt with Gokudera and those explosives.

She served detention the next day by doing the Namimori Demon's paperwork. The reason was vague, something about running away or being a stupid herbivore. She didn't really hear him at the time, being too busy running away from him and his tonfa. Bonus, she'd been kicked by Reborn for abandoning one of the Family.

The babies strength reinforced the 'Reborn is a Cyborg' theory she'd been entertaining for a while.

o0o

It was during the Kokuyo gangs attack that Amai realized how serious this 'Mafia Game' really was.

Weeks, maybe a month or two, had passed before Amai shook herself out of the shroud of confusion that was her auto-pilot after seeing Tsuna and her other friends hurt in school. Reborn eventually told her about the Varia and the horrible battles they went through. He gave her the choice: to abandon the good friends she'd made with Tsuna and (most) of his Family for her safety, or stay and become a part of Tsuna's Mafia future.

Again, she had followed her gut feeling and agreed.

1o0o8

Three days ago Amai had been late to her classes again and was caught (and assaulted via tonfa) by Hibari, then was ordered to serve detention as his house maid for two weeks, and was promptly whacked with the same tonfa - again. Apparently he'd scared off his other housemaid.

No one in Namimori would have guessed his violent and dominant enforcement of peace would carry on into late high school. Oh, the poor bastards.

Amai, who was not being the most graceful thing to walk on two legs when around Hibari, spilled tea on him earlier. The simple concept of "accident" never quite made it into his vocabulary in kindergarten, evidently.

If there was something worse than vandalizing Namimori, hurting Hibird, and waking him up from a nap - it was that. Amai's run-screaming-mode kicked in automatically and she high tailed it out of his room faster than Reborn can say "Ciaossu"- thankfully without the screaming. Now the poor young woman was scurrying around his large home, desperately looking for an escape. But it's not easy when the halls seemed to twist and turn her around at every corner and that the rooms all looked the same - besides his and her own temporary chambers, of course.

With her nerves on high alert, Amai had been movingaround for half an hour or at least what felt like it. She was absolutely positive he was toying with her. Did Hibari ever do that? It was always violence and quick punishments, so why screw with her head? He was probably just bored with the usual sadism and decided that trying out a new Mindfuck tactic on her was a swell idea...

Now that she thought about it, he and Mukuro might have gotten along if it weren't for Mukuro having humiliated him, and the blue haired boys loathing of anything Mafia, too. Amai shivered at a sudden terrifying thought.

They could take over the world. Hibari and his brute strength could take out the military forces and Mukuro would mind-rape the most powerful people of the country to make them his puppets.

Oh, the horror.

Moving on, Amai was very well aware that Hibari's home bordered on being ridiculously huge. Thinking of cleaning 'every square foot' of his home made her dizzy. If only there would be a window open and conveniently placed by a tree. Amai could climb down, scale another tree and hop the ten foot fence surrounding Hibari's home.

Hell, if only she could find her room. Easy going's from there.

Not only was every hall long and empty, the widely spaced ornate lamps were low lit - lining the shadows with a certain sense of danger and constantly hinted at movement where there was none.

By the time she could go home Amai would be cracked right down the middle.

Physically she was strong. Now she could spar with Hibari for a good while depending on the rules and circumstance. But in a setting like this; being chased by the one person she knew who could both chill and warm her blood, Amai's mental strength only went as far as she could throw a semi-truck (which, really, was impossible for her to even pick an inch off the ground, unlike Ryohei's Herculean strength). Her knees felt like jelly and the constant adrenaline in her veins only served to make her muscles jittery.

At this point it was either sit and be caught or find a window and just jump to freedom. Damn the tree, Amai had taken more pain than a ten or thirteen foot drop could do from her landing on both feet.

Sticking close to the wall, Amai steadied her uneven breathing and centered her mind as best she could. At first glance both ends of the current hall were empty of paintings and general decoration, only a beautiful carpet ran its length. Nothing moved.

Amai slipped to the nearest door and entered silently, barely taking a breath until she was beside the only room entrance. She nearly giggled at the absurdity when she realized it was her room. Nothing but a bland bed, the suitcase and her books piled on the small desk shoved in one corner.

Even better, she always kept her window open. The one grace tonight.

Familiar silence smothered Amai, the kind that rang in her ears. A creak made her tense, holding her breath to listen better. Seconds later she sighed. It was the building settling, that was all. The halfway point between her and the window was where a tingle played with the fine hairs on her neck. Suddenly it was like her thundering heartbeat was all she could hear.

In the blink of an eye Amai had whipped around with her body in a sharp defensive stance. Wind blew the silk curtains in eerie shapes and a creak came from the still open doorway.

...Open?

Amai swallowed a lump in her throat, stance faltering. "I should close the door before I'm caught..."

Her muscles suddenly locked, refusing to take a step forward. Instincts kept her gaze on the doorway and darkness behind it. She edged back, defence sharpened once more, towards her window until she hit the wall and felt for the windowsill. Fumbling with the latch as she pushed it wider, Amai clenched her fists to try and put a cork on her whirlwind thoughts before turning and getting as far as putting her foot on the ledge before the chase ended. A whisper of sound and a tweet caught her ear.

Hibird was perched on her shoulder and her glassy black eyes blinked cutely. "Hibari, Hibari~!"

A faint footstep.

Well, game over...