AN: I was absolutely blown away by everyone's encouragement from last chapter. There was an absolute flood of feedback given to me! Thank you all so much for your amazing support!
It was perhaps habit, a strong sense of deja vu which brought him again, always, back into Hibari's arms. He clutched desperately as the older teen's suit, his hands fisting the cloth at the other's back. He could count on one hand how many times he felt these arms around himself, but he couldn't count with a thousand hands on how many times Hibari made him feel safe. His mere presence was an anchor to this world, a single light in a room of dark. He was a moth, a small creature striving for more, flitting towards that light.
He was, maybe, in love with him.
It made perfect sense, and in a way, if Pietro had never touched his life, he would have never knew about how it felt to have soul-deepening feelings for one person. It scared him senseless in fact, and it made him feel insecure and naked when he realized that he had just admitted to himself that the one monster that ruined his life had also helped him find the most beautiful thing in life one could have.
There was so much he wanted to say, but he couldn't find the ability to say them. He didn't know how Hibari had the ability to steal the air from his lungs and stick the words on his tongue.
He was holding all of his weight, like he always did. The arms around him squeezed tighter, one appendage encircling the area under his shoulder blades and the other reached up to cradle his head to Hibari's neck. He felt like there wasn't enough air, and he couldn't tell if it was because he pushed himself or because he was astounded by reality, for once. Tsuna could feel breathing at his temple, and because he had trouble collecting himself it was hard to discern whether the prefect was out of breath too.
Hibari's absence in his life for the past year had not only made his life more miserable, it had completely made him realize how much he needed him. It made him see that without this man in his life, he was never going to be as right as rain.
Which was exactly why Tsuna ripped himself away from him. He pushed, and to his surprise, Hibari was unresisting as he pulled away. The other was caught off guard just the same, if the slight widening of grey eyes were any indication.
It was too cruel, like a punch to a heart, and it made him want to throw up again. The facts remained, that he had to die, it wasn't an option. It was simply far too late to save him now. Perhaps he did believe that he was salvageable once, but that was so long ago. That was before he met Pietro again, before he realized that he could never escape. Even if some miracle happened and Pietro magically disappeared, the scars left were be too deep to heal.
It was impossible not to live the rest of his life without suspicion and fear to those around him. He would never trust, or love (not voluntarily, perhaps), or feel again. It was simply too late. If he tried, then eventually he would make everyone around him absolutely miserable from his own misery. Misery loves company, and it just so happened that Tsuna had lots of that.
He was suddenly reminded of why he left in the first place, and as much as it hurt, a niggling little voice told him that Hibari might, or, might have felt the same, because who had initiated that kiss but the prefect? He smothered the thought quickly. Hibari deserved so much more, someone that could love him back, someone with healthy amounts of self-preservation. Someone he didn't have to worry about throwing themselves off a high place once his back was turned.
It was becoming obvious the taller teen wanted to get a word out, wanted to say something to him. He wanted to hear it as well despite his very clear intentions, but he forced the urge down. Unable to look at Hibari in the eye, he closed his eyes, pained, and turned his head to one side.
By then, they already caught up to him.
"Hibari!" Yamamoto was the first to say, closing in on them first with the help of his heightened physical abilities.
He looked baffled to see the Cloud Guardian there, it was hardly surprising, considering they haven't seen a hair's breadths of one another for over a year. "What, what are you...?"
Everyone but Tsuna turned to look at the new arrivals, a grimacing Gokudera, with Reborn on sitting stiffly at his shoulder. The silver-haired teen was jogging lightly, eventually slowing to a stop as they reached decent audial distance from them.
"Infant." Hibari greeted just as guardedly.
There was some aura of antagonism in the air, and it occurred to the rest of their small group that they were being unsubtly unwelcomed.
There was silence for a beat until Yamamoto, usually being the mediator, perked up, if a bit forcibly, "Let's go back inside. And I see you brought your bags," The young mafia boss looked up in time to see Kusakabe walking towards their general direction, and he was...staring at Tsuna. He looked away just as quickly when they met eyes. Everyone seemed to notice this and those who weren't in the dark of the situation became discomforted.
Tsuna was still in his bed clothes, barefooted, standing outside HQ. It wasn't just that either, his physical appearance had changed dramatically for those who hadn't seen him in days, much less months. He looked skinnier, the rimmed skin around his eyes were darkened and gray. He looked utterly malnourished in recent days he hadn't cared to put up an appearance for anyone at all.
Of course, those that had seen the attempt escapade would no doubt ask questions, questions that they were not ready to provide an answer to.
Despite this, the Rain Guardian allowed a shaky promise, hoping it would settle for now until a more appropriate time came at hand, "We have a lot of catching up to do...right, Tsuna?" The last was added small, but expectant, but also uncertain. An odd combination coming out from Yamamoto, someone who was always as sure and confident, someone who was always right as rain.
Tsuna just shrugged. An action which didn't seem that required too much effort but satisfied those around him.
Particularly relieved Tsuna was clearly not going to resist and turn tail on them any time soon, he lifted a hand towards Headquarters with a gestured that he hoped looked inviting. "Shall we?" A forced smile and a worried brow watched the shortest of them, apart from Reborn, walk forward, eyes to the ground and stiffly moved from their group first.
Caught off guard by Tsuna's sudden compliance, Yamamoto trailed quickly after, throwing a flash of a harried smile in their direction. Hibari crossed his arms, uncrossed them, his face strictly unreadable as he followed after and left Kusakabe to chase him, suitcases in hand.
Gokudera began to proceed forward until Reborn's voice stopped him. "Gokudera. You'll have many things to explain to me later."
Before he could reply, or say anything in his defense, Reborn hopped off his perch on his shoulder and went ahead, leaving the conflicted Storm Guardian alone on the cobbled driveway.
They quickly stashed Hibari and Kusakabe in a sitting room, insisting they would be right with them soon. It was more of Yamamoto doing most of the chatter, Tsuna hardly did anything other than stare at his dirtied feet and move when someone told him to. It was honestly, quite disconcerting, that he practically had to talk his friend to going to his room to change. Not alone of course, Yamamoto casually, or as casually as one could in the presence of Tsuna, tagged along.
When Tsuna was more than presentable, back to the customary dress shirt and slacks and loafers sans the suit jacket, they returned to a stiff atmosphere of the overly sumptuous sitting room.
It was growing increasingly uncomfortable with those present. He couldn't discern anything Hibari was thinking at that moment, for the Foundation leader only settled with staring at Tsuna most of the time and Kusakabe jumped to answer questions that he deliberately asked to Hibari. Worse even, it was almost disappointing that Tsuna still steadfastly ignored them, staring at the knees of his legs in pointed interest.
It was now, in a open mind and no words, that Yamamoto realized that he hadn't seen Tsuna happy in an eternity.
It was actually shameful how he felt ashamed of himself. Because he had known that Tsuna had been strange, but perhaps his own selfish need to scrabble for their happiness shrouded what he didn't want to believe. He didn't want to believe Tsuna was unhappy because of them.
All heads snapped to Hibari as he spoke loudly enough to address all in the room.
"What?" Yamamoto voiced aloud the mirrored looks around them.
Tsuna got up. And Hibari shot him a look that ordered him to sit back down. He didn't. Just slouched limply at his place.
"Except for Tsunayoshi. Everyone leave." It was the tone that Hibari used for no-nonsense and he certainly wasn't about to repeat himself. As much as Gokudera didn't like taking orders from those other than Tsuna, he was the one to walk out first then Kusakabe after. Hesitating far more heavily, he and Reborn went outside, closing the doors behind them.
Reborn sat on top a ornate drawer with crossed arms a little away from them deliberately, staring at the mahogany doors like a hawk. Gokudera stood like a belligerent dog and more than a little worried, Yamamoto stood to join him.
"What is going on?" Yamamoto asked immediately as he drew near.
Kusakabe, who was at decent distance answered, "Gokudera called him here." He delivered softly, pausing at Yamamoto's abrupt doubletake before continuing,"It's rather normal for Kyou-san to wander to different places without a word, but it was especially concerning when I discovered he had actually come voluntarily to meet you all. I'm not entirely sure of the reason however."
They both turned to look at Gokudera, waiting.
"I called him to come." Gokudera glanced with a small wince in Reborn's direction, before continuing miserably, "Admit it. Nothing we have been doing is working. He won't eat, we can't sleep. The only one who could help him now is Hibari. He knows something about Tsuna we don't. As much as I don't like saying it, he understands Tsuna in a way we can't."
The largest of the group looked alarmed, "What is wrong with Sawada?" Oh he knew something was very suspicious about the way Tsuna presented himself now, but it really wasn't his business if it was something terribly personal. But Tsuna was famiglia, to Hibari and himself, and surely that was enough reason to know.
The two Guardians looked at one another, exchanging a look. "We...we're not sure."
When the door clicked shut Tsuna wanted nothing more than to claw himself to death on the spot. He couldn't handle this situation, couldn't handle the shame or the embarrassment of standing alone in the room with the one person he couldn't bear letting down. Emotions, decisions were raving though his system, suggestions rapid fire. Should he run? Could he run? Would Hibari catch him? Before he could even considering carrying out any of the plans, a frosty voice cut through his racing thoughts, demanding his attention and steered his mind back to the present.
"Sit down." Hibari ordered.
And before he could think, he complied and his back was pressed to the couch. Old habits die had, he supposed. He dismally listened to the sound of cloth against cloth as Hibari took a seat across from him in the single baroque armchair.
When they settled and oppressing silence crossed the room again, he had this ridiculous image of a deranged patient shamefully visiting his displeased therapist after a disapproved amount of time away. Tsuna cringed, staring stubbornly at the hands clenched in his lap.
Apparently, this image was very accurate because Hibari's tone allowed no humor, and held strong like a sack of stones, "Why did you leave that night?"
Tsuna clenched his teeth through closed lips. Just leave it to Hibari to ask the most uncomfortable questions first. He was contemplating on ignoring him all together when Hibari spoke again, already seeing the decision as it crossed the light of his eyes. "We could stay here all night. I am quite used to sitting still for long periods of time."
He didn't doubt it. No, Hibari was probably not joking. He could see them doing just that. He'd rather get this over with and shove off sooner rather than later. The prospect of staying in here was already agonizing as it was. "I..." He croaked, then cleared his throat, "Reborn said we were leaving in the morning. There was nothing I could have done."
Ok, maybe he could have done something, throw up a fight or something, but it was his own selfishness that brought him on that plane here very willingly. He wasn't about to admit that though.
Hibari looked unaffected by his answer. Whether he could hear the quib in his last comment or not, he didn't seem to push it. He leaned forward and Tsuna leaned back. He reached out a hand to swipe up the white knight of the chess set sitting between them. He held the marble piece between pinched fingers as he met his eyes without dithering. After a moment of rolling the chess piece in his hand, he clenched it in a fist, bringing the hand to rest beneath his chin as he studied him lazily at his annoyingly ornate armchair. It fit Hibari's elegance and class all too well. He outshined everything else in the room, including himself.
"I know what happened that night a year and four months ago."
He had such talent of making things incredibly worse. Like a kick while he was down or salt sandpapered viciously onto a wound. This man really didn't understand the delicacy of the secret at all. He wasn't sure what to think about this. Hibari knew. It really wasn't a surprise, but it came as one anyway. Tsuna gritted his teeth and glared scathingly at Hibari. "And?" He braced himself for...for something.
Hibari exchanged the white knight in his hand to the other hand. "Nothing."
There was a strange appalled shock that ran through his body. He stumbled. "And...nothing? What do you mean?"
"Does this surprise you?" Hibari questioned coldly, "Did you really believe it to be a big deal?"
Blood rushed up to his head, making it hard to think. The room suddenly was filled with cotton because his ears couldn't hear anything beyond the thickness of an invisible wall. It was nothing? It had ruined his life, it made him unable to trust in his friends, unable to believe in love. He couldn't for the life of him, ever see himself happy ever again. What happened that terrible night, that was a huge fucking deal. And here, Hibari, who he thought was the only one who understood him, was telling him it was not a big deal.
He was so hurt, so angry, that he hadn't noticed Hibari crossing the room to stand in front of him. He nearly stared up at him, red-faced and affronted. "Do you think of yourself as a victim, Sawada Tsunayoshi?" Hibari reached down, pulling Tsuna up to stand. He willingly went up, but tugged out of his grip forcibly, until they were standing nose to nose.
There was nothing utterly romantic or sappy about this situation. He was so mad, so angry, he had the indecipherable urge to punch this man in the jaw. The heat of the moment kept him still, perhaps denial was still rushing through his body, rendering him unable to carry out the act yet.
"The only one," Hibari said literally right to his face, "Is you. The only one who thinks this is important is you."
Tsuna wanted to scream, but he seethed out with forced control, "Why are you telling me this?"
"Because it is getting to your head. Now more than ever." Hibari said back evenly, "Because you can't divide the norm from your fears now. You're afraid, and you're doing nothing but running away from the truth. You're heightening that fear into something you find convenient so you don't have to deal with it."
"Don't you think I've tried?!" Tsuna's voice rose to a shout at last, "Don't you think I've tried to fight it?! I've been doing nothing but fight it now!"
Hibari's voice stayed at room level, and it absolutely infuriated him how he was able to keep his cool. "Fight? Don't make me laugh." No one was laughing now though, Hibari was deadly serious, "You're not fighting. You're giving up. Where is that herbivore that used to believe in stupid chivalry and the goodness in everyone despite all they did?"
"He's gone!" He exploded like a gun.
Hands suddenly reached up to cup the back of his head and his chin, "Then go find him."
"Wha—" And suddenly there were lips on his, and Tsuna tried to jerk back, completely offended by the gesture at all, but the pale hands held him where he was. The kiss was quick, very tense, a rush of adrenaline and blood that made his hearing muffled and his lungs incapable of taking breath. The lips were off just as fast as they came. Leaving Tsuna dazed, confused like no other.
He collapsed back onto the couch and Hibari let him go.
"You can deny it all you want," Hibari said to his slack expression, "It's not your time yet. I won't allow it."
He didn't say another word more and walked out the room, ignoring the crowd of men and boys that rushed in after his wake. He trudged quickly past them all, ignoring questions and went to investigate Tsuna's room.
When they heard shouting coming from the room, they all stiffened in shock. The outbursts came at different intervals, leaving them only to guess when Hibari said something far too quiet for them to hear through the door when Tsuna (Tsuna!) was raising his voice in reply. It was ground breaking. It was shocking, it was simply nothing short of a, a miracle.
Not even ten minutes in there together and Tsuna was already showing more emotion than they could wring out in days. It was simply incredible.
Kusakabe immediately began to walk towards the door, hand poised to open it when Yamamoto quickly laid a calming hand on the taller teen's forearm and shook his head with a quelling shaky reassurance. Just hearing the distinct sound of the arguing inside was enough for the Guardians and reluctantly, Reborn, to breathe out in relief.
When Hibari emerged with a determined expression, he simply walked off without looking at any one of them. The man was an enigma. They simply had no idea what he was thinking. They immediately sped into the room after, and Gokudera laid a hand on Tsuna's shoulder and lowered himself to a knee. "Tenth?" He offered hesitantly.
"I hate him!" Tsuna said suddenly, feeling childish, making everyone in the room jump. He bit his lip and breathed in wetly, fighting a rising hope, an unfailing love. "He always does this! Always comes in and ruins everything..." Tsuna wiped his eyes with his sleeve viciously, his cheeks flooding with warmth and shame. "Always..."
AN: I hope you all enjoyed this chapter! It was shorter than the last five or six chapters, I admit, but this time it ends on a good note. Thank you all for the amazing encouragement and wow, some people even recommended me songs to keep me fixated! I have such awesome readers! I even have an ending in mind, I believe it should take three or four chapters until the end! Love you all!