Who: Hibari and more or less everyone else.
What: gen/humor/character study. Canon.
When: present, compliant with everything that's been going on in the manga.
(in which Hibari makes sure there's enough discipline to go around)
The summer sky was bright and almost unnaturally blue over Namimori, and the warmest of breezes was gently stirring the leaves of the old trees that lined the road, providing a semblance of shade without hiding the sun from view. The air was clear and warm and pleasant to breathe. Apart from a stray dog dozing peacefully near a half-empty garbage bin, its left ear jerking slightly as it listened to something in its sleep, the world appeared to be completely deserted.
Perched atop Hibari's right shoulder, Hibird was happily chirping its way through Namimori Hymn. Its feathers seemed golden in the sunlight, putting even expensive jewelery to shame. Other, unseen birds were answering it with trills of their own. The starting day promised to be full of nothing but slumbering boredom.
Hibari's face was set in what was not exactly a frown but came close – an expression many inhabitants of the town were familiar with, as well as one they had long since come to dread because it meant that the leader of the Disciplinary Committee had a problem, and that could only end badly - and not for him. Someone getting bitten to death or at least to the point where death began to look like the only possibly reprieve was the most common scenario. As a result, people tended to scuttle out of Hibari's way even on good days, for fear they might somehow miss the crucial moment when good made a switch and changed to bad.
Today, however, they needn't have bothered, because the sudden onslaught of spleen had nothing to do with them.
Hibari was having a problem with certain people's attitude – and it was saying a lot, because Hibari possessed an enormous attitude of his own which usually blotted out the rest of the world in his eyes and made ordinary folk wish they had cleaner shirts on and hadn't forgotten to brush their teeth before going out. Hibari had never consciously thought about it in this way, nor had he ever listed his personality as one of his weapons, but those around him certainly did, and tried to avoid him like a plague. It might have turned into a problem for someone more socially dependent and communicative, but Hibari simply took it in his stride and ticked it off as an added benefit. This way he had to waste much less time explaining why crowding together was a bad idea and what would happen to those who foolishly insisted on practicing it on his turf and especially in his presence. What they actually thought about him, or if his actions made them feel miserable and helpless was the last thing on his mind. Caring and considerate were two qualities that Hibari had never really got the hang of.
That being the case, it had taken him a while to realize there were people in the world whose opinion he couldn't afford to overlook and ignore. Worse, he had to stop, take it into account and then deal with it. The last part was, in fact, the least digestible chunk of news Hibari had come across in years. He didn't have the knack of putting up with the stuff he disliked. He'd never really had a chance to get into the spirit of the thing. And never before had it occurred to him that he might encounter someone he wouldn't be able to bully.
It was astounding, and also rather frustrating, how suddenly there was a whole bunch of individuals of this inconvenient breed, hopping in and out of his life, and then back in again, like a pendulum, and as far as he could see, there was no getting rid of them.
They were all home to stay, so to speak.
And so far, he'd had no luck with them.
"So," Reborn said cheerfully as he sipped coffee from a very small white cup, which he held firmly in his right hand. The liquid was black and steaming hot and its smell was so offensively strong it was very nearly an independent existence. "What do you want, Hibari?"
Hibari took a step forward. He had found the baby on the roof of the school where he must have been waiting for Sawada Tsunayoshi and his noisy, crowding friends to come up and join him for lunch as soon as their well-deserved educational torments earned them a short respite. Hibari glanced at his wristwatch. It was well past midday and the lessons in the Namimori Middle School were in full swing, and no one would be going anywhere for the next sixteen minutes – unless, of course, they wanted to be severely disciplined.
But sixteen minutes should suffice for what he had in mind.
"Baby," he said, making sure he kept his eyes on Reborn all the time. The sly little thing had proven a hundred times that he could evaporate from the spot in a heartbeat, and while Hibari could respect a useful ability like that, he wasn't in the mood to comb through the entire school to find Reborn again. "I came here today to make you fulfill your promise."
"My promise?" Reborn's voice came slightly muffled by the cup he'd raised up to his lips again, a natural, perfectly innocent gesture, but Hibari would bet his prized tonfa on the fact that it'd only been done to hide amusement.
"Yes," Hibari repeated firmly and calmly. "The promise you made to me in the beginning. Before I even got that ring. Don't try to pretend you don't remember anything. I'm not going to believe it."
He knew Reborn was going to try and wriggle his way out again, much like he always did, be it by clever rationalization or fake memory loss. But today Hibari had come prepared and wasn't going to fall for the trick. It was high time the baby'd stopped his smartass scheming for a while and faced his own obligation like a man he was.
Or had been once upon a time. Or would be eventually. Whichever.
The truth was, Hibari could never quite make head or tails of the whole Arcobaleno business. The only thing he was absolutely sure about was that the timeline was royally screwed where the lot of them was concerned, and the ordinary rules obviously didn't apply. Why it'd happened this way was beyond him – he would find out sooner or later, of course, but it could wait – the really important thing for now was that although Reborn looked like a child, he wasn't one, and that meant Hibari had every right to hold the kid-who-was-not-a-kid to his promise.
This time around, he was definitely going to get what he wanted, Hibari thought with the same sort of stony determination other people employ when they say words like "Attack!" and "Kill!". This time around he wouldn't allo–
"Ah, you mean the promise to fight you seriously. Of course, I remember that. I just thought you were talking about my promise to arrange your second fight with Mukuro, but my mistake. So what about it?"
Hibari had to make a conscious effort to stay focused and not waver. He certainly wanted to fight the damn illusionist, that useless cowardly cheater, if only because he owed it to himself to prove that his martial arts – and, more importantly, his principles and beliefs – were stronger and better than the fluctuations of the sick and unstable mind of the maniac who liked to call himself Rokudo Mukuro, whatever his real name was.
But Mukuro was well out of the prison now, so Hibari hardly needed Reborn's mysterious help to get him. His own resources would be more than enough to reach this goal. That ruled out the second promise as unnecessary.
Reborn seemed to have read his mind, an eerie and unsettling habit of his.
"Right, Hibari." he said in a voice that made it lambently clear that he was quite at ease and had not a worry in the world. "You seem to be serious about this. But I have to warn you that I have a lot on my plate to deal with, today, so I won't be able to spare you much time. Maybe you'd like to put our fight off till, say, tomorrow? Or next week?"
"You have nothing on your plate right now," Hibari replied coolly. He didn't have to be bright as a supernova to understand Reborn was having a great deal of fun at his expense. "You don't even have a plate. You are perfectly idle."
"Not at all. I'm drinking coffee."
"That's what I call idle."
"Hm." Reborn smiled at him over the rim of the cup. "In that case I can see how I have no other option but to try and fit you into my busy schedule. But let me tell you one more thing."
"By all means do." Hibari slid out his tonfa, readying himself for a truly worthy fight. Biting to death an Arcobaleno was going to be an experience unlike any other.
"The danger," Reborn said, and there was a lecturing note that Hibari found to be completely uncalled for. "The danger may come from an unexpected direction. Make sure you don't forget this when we fight, because I'm going to start without a warning."
Hibari paused, frowning slightly, but not letting Reborn out of his sight regardless. What the...?
"The danger may come from an unexpected direction?" he repeated, disbelief and disappointment lacing his voice. "What kind of advice is this?"
"A useful one. I would even go as far as to say it's priceless."
"You must be confusing me with Sawada," And wasn't that absolutely insulting? "He's the one who can't walk straight and needs to be reminded about the basics every day, not me."
That impish smile grew wider still. "If you say so, Hibari. By the way, you haven't blinked once since we started talking. Your eyes must be hurting."
Instinctively, Hibari blinked. "Wha –?"
There was a coffee cup coming straight at him, hurtling through the air at a speed that left no room for thought and careful consideration of various options, like a train that'd got derailed and was now heading toward the edge of a very sheer cliff. It was, as far as Hibari could estimate, still at least half-filled with the liquid that couldn't possibly have gone cold yet, and it was aimed right at his face. In the background of his mind, part of him actually admired Reborn's skill and precision and admitted that he couldn't have done it better himself.
The rest of his mind was saying, now my eyes are really going to hurt. And there was no time left to dodge the impromptu missile.
Not that it mattered, of course.
In one swift movement, Hibari brought forward his left hand, shattering the cup in mid-air with the end of the tonfa. The shards flew in every direction, zigzagging and breaking into even more pieces, forcing him to duck out of harm's way to protect his eyes.
He straightened up, ready to face any attack that the cunning Arcobaleno might launch at him and –
– and Reborn wasn't there anymore.
Quickly, Hibari scanned the roof, taking in every little detail, searching for the slightest shadow of a motion, anything that might give him a hint; because it wasn't the first time Reborn used this tactic. It was only to be expected, really, it was all down there with the basics – obscuring one's opponent vision in order to win extra time and relocate, thus gaining advantage...
Was it just him, or had someone just moved behind him? Had it been a gust of wind or was someone creeping up on him to land a blow on the back of his head perhaps?
the danger may come from an unexpected direction
Hibari whirled around and struck out with his right hand, not bothering to put in all of his strength, but making sure that smug baby would feel the fight was no laughing matter and quit fooling around.
There was a definite sensation of his tonfa connecting with the target, followed by a slightly squelching sound, as if a bag of mud had been dropped down on the floor and stepped on.
He was facing the door that led from the roof onto the staircase and back down into the corridors of the school building, and it was open. In the doorframe stood Yamamoto Takeshi and Gokudera Hayato, both of their faces frozen in the mixed expression of horror and bewilderment. Yamamoto was holding a sandwich someone had already had taken a bite from, and Gokudera had a cigarette dangling limply from between his teeth and a lighter in his hand.
On the floor at their feet lay in a crumpled heap Sawada Tsunayoshi. His right leg was twisted at a rather unnatural angle to his body, his hair was an even greater mess that usually, and his mouth was agape, which resulted in an expression that would have won him the Biggest Idiot Competition any day, if only Sawada hadn't been such a loser he lost at any competition at all, including those for losers.
He seemed, for want of a better term, unconscious. One side of his face, though, looked rather wrong. In fact, it was getting more and more swollen by the moment, as if he'd been hit by something hard, like a tonfa, for example.
There was no sight of Reborn anywhere.
It was going to become awkward real soon.
"What the hell!" Gokudera was the first to come back to life and get a hold of his voice which he immediately used to shout. "Hibari! What the hell have you done to the Tenth! Why did you try to kill him, you bastard!"
"Why did you have to hit Tsuna like this, Hibari?" Yamamoto was also back in the land of vaguely coherent people. "Did you have an argument or what?"
Hibari considered the situation at hand and groped for something appropriate to say. He cast another good, long look at the surrounding scenery, and the realization dawned.
A number of rules appeared to have been broken.
"Lying on the floor is forbidden," he snapped, happy to be back in his own territory again. This was the type of situation he knew how to handle. "Being out on the roof during lesson time is also forbidden," he added contentedly, glancing at his watch. Three minutes yet to go till the lesson was over. "What are you three doing here when you're supposed to be studying?"
"It was canceled, you aggressive moron!" Gokudera's face color changed rapidly from pale to pink, then to red and was now well past that stage and heading off bravely toward crimson. "The professor has got a cold!"
Ah. Well, he couldn't have possibly known about this.
"Smoking is strictly prohibited," Hibari pointed out vindictively, his eyes settling on the cigarette still held by Gokudera. "I'm going to punish you for disrupting the discipline in Namimori."
"What!" Gokudera threw the cigarette down in outrage and used the hand to make a fist and shake it at Hibari. "You've just gone and hit the Tenth for nothing and you're the one spouting shit about discipline?"
"Okay, okay, don't fight." Yamamoto had managed to lift Sawada's lifeless body from the floor and slung him across his shoulders. "I'm sure it's a misunderstanding or something like that, right, Hibari? No way it can be anything else, really. Eh, yes?"
"Are you blind as well as stupid, baseball idiot? He's just tried to kill the Tenth! Look at him, he's not even denying it!"
"Haha! That's Hibari, you know. He's just, you know, probably he was just really, really busy here with something, and we interrupted. Right? It's all an accident, right?"
Hibari appraised the idea. It was, he had to admit, marginally better than saying he'd made a fool of himself and knocked out the useless Sawada and let the baby escape. Definitely an improvement.
"Make sure you clean your mess before you leave," he ordered, as he put away the tonfa and shouldered Gokudera aside to get onto the staircase. "Or you'll regret it."
He headed down the stairs, tuning out the indignant yells directed at his back. His head was full of Reborn's dirty trick. He was going to make the baby pay for that when they next met. He was going to force him to fight for real. He would make the little thing take him seriously. No one dared to treat him like this, not even Reborn, who was special. It was insulting and unacceptable.
And what the hell was wrong with the Arcobaleno, anyway? Why was he so averse to this match? Wasn't it perfectly natural to want to establish who was the strongest for once? Well, he would catch up with Reborn in due course, that he had no doubt about. Whatever his real goals and plans for the future, the Arcobaleno was bound to keep orbiting around Sawada for a long, long time if he really nurtured a hope to make a mafia boss out of him – or even a slightly less pathetic human being, for that matter. There was no need to hurry.
Meanwhile, there were other people he wanted to bite to death. They were here, in Namimori. In his Namimori.
He couldn't wait.
A/N: it occurred to me that I had no story about Hibari, despite the fact that I like him a lot, so I set out to change that. It's going to be a multi-chapter, but not a very long one. Not like the other one, no.=)
Anyway, please drop me a review! I'd really appreaciate that, and I want to know what you think :)