AN: My first KHR fic! It's very different, so I hope you like it. Concrit is welcomed, as is any form of feedback.
Routine was a dirty word. Dino had always thought so, anyway, and he figured that was all that mattered. He'd looked at life as one big adventure, with all the twists and turns necessary to keep it, well, lively. So when his father kicked the bucket and left his billion dollar production company to his son, Dino had seen it as just another way to keep things interesting.
"The meeting's in an hour," Romario's voice told him. The message was from about half an hour previous, long enough that it didn't surprise Dino that another message was on its tail, the voicemail blinking a bright red 2.
"Boss, do you need a ride? Please, god, tell me you're at least awake. Call me when you get this." Ramario sounded so exasperated, the same tone he'd used when Dino was just the boss' son.
Dino ran a hand through his hair and looked at the clock. Half an hour. He could make it if he walked fast. No sense in calling for a car at this point.
He sent Romario a text—there was an apology stuck in at the end of it, too—and shrugged his blazer on, tied his dress shoes a neat bow-knot, and grabbed the suitcase sitting at the end of his bed.
Routine was a dirty word, but it was about all he had anymore.
He shouldn't be walking. He was hugely famous, was in charge of an entire industry, and he had all the money to support that claim. Romario was always on him about taking the proper precautions, but Dino wasn't about to give up his morning walk.
Routine, he thought again as he locked the door behind him.
It was a three block walk to the office. He could practically do it with his eyes closed—not that he would, what with his propensity to run into things and fall on his face, but that was neither here nor there.
One block into his walk—his pace was rather quicker than normal, and his button-up was beginning to stick to his back between the morning humidity and the body heat from the packed streets—and his phone was vibrating in his pocket, an insistent thrumming.
The caller ID read Romario. Dino bit back a curse and answered the call.
"You have ten minutes, boss." Romario sounded grave. "Longchamp isn't good with waiting." Ah, that. Yes, Longchamp did tend to be easily distracted.
"Sorry, Romario." Why was it that everyone seemed to walk slower when he was in a hurry? Certainly, it would be rude to run a pregnant woman down just to get to work in time, but Dino was practically bouncing on his toes looking for a way around the cluster of people determined to slow him down. "I'm kind of stuck right now."
"We'll stall him." A long sigh. "Try to get here soon."
"Give him the print of the proposal first. Tell him to orient himself with the material before I get there."
He snapped his phone closed and tucked it away in his pocket just in time for the crosswalk to go red and traffic to start up again. The group he was stuck with was small, at least, just a woman and a few men in suits, none of them aware enough to bother looking at each other. He wondered if they recognized him and found that he preferred the thought that they didn't.
"Sir?" A hand tugged at his sleeve.
"Eh?" Just behind him stood a little boy, maybe five. In front of him, the light changed: the crosswalk was safe for pedestrians.
"Please," the boy said, tugging Dino toward him. "My mommy, she said she needs to talk to you over there." Where over there was, the boy didn't clarify. He just pulled Dino along until they were walking toward one of the shops, the crosswalk left behind them.
It was then that it happened.
A screech, a series of screams, the sound of a sickening crunch, the roar of a crowd—Dino was dragged backward by a sudden surge of people going away from the streets just as a car, seemingly out of control, jumped the curb and slammed into a nearby pole, taking all the people standing at the crosswalk as collateral.
Dino stumbled, his feet catching him up and sending him sprawling face first into the pavement, the smell of smoke and something sickly and blood-like carrying upward in the air.
He looked briefly at the crosswalk, saw the trail of—of people, of what once was people, leading to the smoking wreckage and felt his throat catch, a lump of something that tasted vaguely of his breakfast threatening to force its way up.
He was sitting with his back to some store wall, staring blankly ahead with the realization holy shit, I was just standing there, that was almost me ringing through his head, the worst type of earworm.
It seemed strange, then, that he'd even bothered to notice the man who came to stand next to him. Through the chaos, through the sound of sirens drawing closer and morning traffic crunching to a halt of bleating horns and expletives, the man stood still as a statue, seemingly untouched by the disaster, and looked down at Dino with an expression akin to irritation or disappointment.
Somehow, sitting on the pavement, his cell phone vibrating ceaselessly in his pocket, Dino found that after all was said and done he rather missed routine when it took its leave.
He did not make it to the meeting.
That was expected, though, and Romario had really already called the whole thing off by the time Dino had gotten his head together enough to call in to the office, I think I need a car sent after all in a voice Romario later said was as close to a dying whisper as he'd ever heard from his boss.
The whole damn day was trying. Dino was glad to see it over.
It made sense, he figured later, sprawled out on his couch, channel surfing. All he'd been able to think of that day was that he'd been so close to dying. The stupid thing was, the first thought his mind had processed after the accident was my god, it's way too early in the morning to die, as though that even made a difference. He couldn't remember what he'd been doing before, what had made him walk away from the crosswalk, but a nagging feeling in his gut told him he'd been spared.
Three days later, Dino was feeling less certain of himself.
Since that accident on the way to work, he'd taken to having Romario drive him in the mornings, something his assistant had been pleased to do. He thought that after a few days, everything would settle down. The news programs would stop airing about it, his mind would stop buzzing with it, and his routine would fall back into place.
On the day following the accident, a gas leak sprung in his house. He'd fallen asleep and would have never woken up again, had his neighbor's dog not escaped from its home to his yard and his neighbor not chased after it, smelling the leak.
On the day after that, Romario had decided his boss would stay in a hotel while the house was checked for any other issues. An electrical plug had blown a fuse and caught fire in the bathroom of his suite, and if it hadn't been for one of the service clerks mistakenly bringing a message meant for the floor below to Dino's suite, he wouldn't have ever checked out. He only found out after the fact, but the emergency sprinklers on his floor were all malfunctioning that day.
By the third day, Dino had taken to sleeping in his office, Romario and a host of security guards taking turns watching over him.
Death, it seemed, was out to get him.
Dino might have let the incident with the crosswalk go, and he might have even written off the gas leak as a streak of bad luck. But the hotel, too? Coincidences had a limit, and Dino was really drawing the line at three near-death experiences in a row.
If only, he thought, casting another wary glance at the door, expecting the grim reaper or something equally ridiculous to pop out and cleanly slice his head from his neck, if only he could just go back to his normal days.
He'd never complain about the monotony again.
The book changed every day. It was ridiculous, a clear violation of the order of things, and if Hibari hadn't damn well seen it for himself, he'd refuse to believe such a thing was possible.
But there it was, written plainly for him to see:
DINO CAVALLONE, AGE 27. DEATH BY TOXIC EXPOSURE TO CARBON MONOXIDE. 08 APRIL 20XX.
Had it been any other person in his Guide Book, Hibari wouldn't think twice. But in the three days since he'd received his assignment, Dino Cavallone's method and date of death had changed once per day. Each day, Hibari would wait at the prescribed scene, and each day, Dino Cavallone would narrowly miss an imminent death.
Something was very wrong here, Hibari thought with increasing irritation. The idiot just would not die.
It was unheard of. Preposterous. And yet, it was happening.
Hibari wouldn't stand for it. This was a direct violation of—of life itself! Humans didn't just reschedule their death dates, and angels certainly didn't fail at collecting souls.
No, this was something else entirely, and the more Hibari thought on it, the more he felt like finding the bastard human who dared to throw his schedule off and biting the fool to death himself.
The rendezvous time was in roughly ten minutes, but the collection agent was often early. He, at least, was punctual, and for that, Hibari rarely ever tried to kill him.
"Yo!" The too-cheerful greeting, the ridiculous get-up: Yamamoto Takeshi walked into the small café down the street from Cavallone Enterprises with a flourish, his million watt smile drawing the attention of all who surveyed him.
Hibari sat by a window, his darkest scowl fixed upon his face.
"Oh," Yamamoto said. "I guess this is another no-show, huh?" He took the seat opposite Hibari, ordering an espresso to go and never dropping the grin. "Too bad! How long do you think you're going to be stuck here? I heard there's going to be an epidemic in Germany next month. Your name was on the list to handle it. Think I should pass the word on to Reborn to find someone else?"
"Don't be ridiculous," Hibari snapped. "I'll handle this in plenty of time. Who's going to be stuck on Earth for a month, you idiot?"
Yamamoto whistled low. "Touchy. I guess this isn't going well? Haha, what a bummer!"
Hibari was going to kill him. No, he was going to dismember the useless fool and hide his various parts across the globe, never to be pieced together again!
"You're thinking something terrible," Yamamoto observed. "I can tell, because your mouth does that twitchy thing. Oh! It did it again! Haha, you must be really angry about all this!"
"Yamamoto Takeshi," Hibari began, voice low and promising pain, "if you do not cease your senseless rambling immediately, I will obliterate you."
At that, Yamamoto's grin only widened. "Haha, great! That sounds more like the Hibari I know and—well, know! I'll come back tomorrow, then?"
The waitress came by again, setting Yamamoto's espresso down and fluttering her eyelashes. Hibari gave her a flat look. Yamamoto didn't seem to notice.
"Tomorrow will be fine," Hibari said stiffly. "I'll have his soul by then."
"If not, you can just keep trying," Yamamoto said cheerfully. "It's not like you don't have an eternity! Haha!" Of course the idiot was still cracking jokes like that.
Hibari left the collection agent at the table—for his foolishness, Yamamoto would have to handle the bill—muttering darkly as he went. "New wings," he said, disgusted. "Two hundred years and the novelty still hasn't worn off."