notes: Requested by aweofshe at LJ with the prompt "eyepatch". Involves third-year!Hibari and first-year!Chrome in a university in Italy. Post-canon as far as the manga agrees. 8D
the violent turning of seasons
Dokuro Chrome has really small hands, with dainty, thin fingers and short, unpainted nails.
Hibari's forgotten that the girl actually goes to the same university as he does until he passes her in the canteen, knitting diligently, a leather-bound copy of Pascoli's collection of poems Myricae on the table. Her fingers are deft and quick and while she is in no way as good a fighter as Mukuro and does not interest Hibari the way Mukuro does, at least she is capable with the needles. Her smile when she catches his eyes is hesitant, her small talk painfully awkward, but she holds her ground steady as she tells him about her knitting.
"I've sent the ones for Boss and the other guardians last week, but I still have quite a lot to do," she murmurs, running her hand over the red scarf she's working on. "This is for Ken."
Hibari doesn't really care—not about her and certainly not about the scarves—but Chrome is speaking Japanese and it's been a while since he's heard his mother tongue. Besides, her voice is soft and low, easy in his ears, not demanding like other girls' voices are.
In the first week of winter, he finds a brown paper bag under the seat he usually takes for his Monday PoliSci lectures, a silk ribbon flower on one of the corners. A small notecard is attached, 'For Cloud Man' scribbled in fine, neat penmanship, and Hibari remembers that there is only ever one person in the whole world who calls him that.
The present itself—a scarf—is dark navy blue, thick, and so neat it can pass as store-bought. It rests snugly in his hands, warm and comfortable that for a second Hibari considers actually taking it with him. In the end, however, he returns it into the bag and leaves it under the seat, in the exact same position as he found it.
That same afternoon he sees Chrome in the library, working on an essay. She notices him but doesn't call for him, only a smile on her lips, and for some reason this vexes Hibari to no end. He finds himself rushing back to the lecture hall with breakneck speed, and there is no mistaking the embarrassing relief that betrays his heart when he sees the package, completely untouched, waiting for him.
It happens then: he starts thinking of her less and less as a herbivore and more and more as a person.
"Just admit it already, Kyoya," Dino counsels, his patient voice crackling with static over the international phone line. No matter the six thousand miles that separate Bologna and Tokyo, he is still annoying and Hibari still wants to bite him to death, revive him, and then bite him to death one more time, just for good measure. "It's not healthy to keep denying your feelings like this. Chrome is a sweet, pretty girl. If you like her, then you have to—"
Before Dino can finish his sentence, Hibari slams the phone down on the receiver faster and harder than he has ever swung his tonfas. He spends the next few hours in front of his laptop securing a very vicious crocodile to send to Dino so it can bite him to death in Hibari's place.
There is something to be said about receiving a gift from someone completely unexpected.
For Hibari, it's the massive discomfort of knowing that with this, he owes her one. Although he willingly passes up every opportunity to wear the scarf, it always sits inside his bag, folded neatly next to his books. He doesn't take it out even when the flowers start blooming and the air becomes too warm to wear scarves. This is why, after an extremely irritating letter from Dino, Hibari sets out to the Bologna shopping centre for a thank-you present, ending up in a shop that boasts the latest women's fashion items.
He grabs the closest thing he sees and even gets as far as taking it to the cashier before an image of Dino bursting into tears burns his mind—complete with the proud daddy eyes and encouraging nods and "Kyoya is growing up and courting ladies!" giggling noises—and Hibari finally, finally wakes up and realises how absolutely ridiculous this whole thing is, dropping the too silky and too revealing black negligee on the floor and storming out of the store. He hasn't been back ever since.
Hibari does end up getting Chrome a present. Sort of.
It's kind of a Wednesday thing for them, these days: Hibari will be at the library first, occupying a seat for himself and stacking all of his things on the seat next to his so no one else can take it. Since her classes finish later, Chrome will come about an hour or two after him. She will spot him at whatever table's closest to the window and ask if the seat next to him is taken. It's only then that he'll remove all of his things for her to sit down, only a nod to acknowledge her presence.
One afternoon as they are sitting side by side, Hibari pulls out his criminology textbook from his bag with the intention to work on his essay. What he doesn't expect is that he will accidentally pull out the eyepatch he bought in a moment of whimsy at the city centre just two days ago. Now it lies bare for both of them to see, between the pages 152 and 153, and Hibari wants nothing more than to bite himself to death right that exact second.
Surprisingly, Chrome is the first to recover. She picks it up, weighs it in her hands, brushes the fabric with gentle fingers. "What is this, Hibari-san?" she asks softly, in a voice that tells him she knows exactly what it is: the exact same eyepatch she has admired last weekend when they were walking past a shop after a dinner at a restaurant with steak that tasted like rubber soles.
His mind runs over several possible answers. It was already there when he bought the book. Kusakabe dressed up as a female pirate for a costume party. The book gave birth to it when he wasn't looking. Eccetera, eccetera.
Chrome is silent, patient, not a single syllable of sound passing through the knowing smile that curves her lips. Her cheeks are flushed pink with some sort of shy anticipation, the subtle kiss of the summer sun that filters through the window dancing over lightly tanned shoulders. Only her eye, violet and large and impossibly deep, stares at his face, reducing whatever resolve he has into debris and dust.
So instead Hibari just says, "You can have it," and leaves before she can pick up on the fact that, well, yes, Hibari Kyoya is actually being nice.
Still, this doesn't stop Chrome from trading her old eyepatch for the one Hibari gave to her or knitting him a beanie for that year's winter—then gloves the next, and then socks the next. Hibari never wears any of them, but he does keep them close.
notes: I've never actually been to Italy before, so all of this comes from research. I had so much fun writing this! Things that may be of interest:
1) Eccetera: Italian for "et cetera".
2) Giovanni Pascoli: a 19th century Italian poet and classical scholar who graduated from the University of Bologna, at which Hibari and Chrome are studying in this fic. There's a poem in his book Myricae about a skylark, titled "Di lassù" which means "From above".
3) My head-canon dictates that Hibari will major in either law or political science, maybe both. I chose literature for Chrome mostly because of her wish to be able to converse with Mukuro in Italian, so I guess you can think of it as her interest in the language translating to her interest in Italian literature.
Feel free to point out inaccuracies and inconsistencies! It has been about one and a half year (ish) since I read the manga and my characterisation, among other things, may be completely off. Thanks for reading.