Coming up with titles for this story is fun.
OCs have taken over this chapter and they get a lot of screen time that I haven't planned out (not that I had much to begin with), but they just insisted on shoving their way in. The plot has also completely veered off the outline in a way that I hadn't planned out. Did you know Tsuna was originially supposed to be 19 years older than Hibari? It was going to be TYL Tsuna (24) and TYE Hibari (6). The addition of a certain group of people made me make him younger. :( And here I actually wanted to try a big age gap fic.
Beta'd by Tsumugi Hitomi
Chapter 3: Hibari Kyouya Stalks a Stranger Much to Everyone's Amusement
Sawada Tsunayoshi got off on the third floor, bidding the boys a good night as he stepped out, giving them one last warm, warm, warm smile just as the doors closed.
The elevator stopped on next floor, but Hibari didn't notice and had to be prompted to get off. Kusakabe walked him to his apartment and stood outside the door of 1-8. After thirty seconds had passed and there was still no movement from Hibari, Kusakabe glanced over and was perturbed to find that the dazed expression had not faded at all. He knew that Hibari was tired and frustrated from having to deal with the school problems, but had meeting the person that they had been fruitlessly been searching for-only to have him unexpectedly dropped right into their proverbial hands-really shocked him that much?
There was a slight flush to his pale cheeks. Maybe he was getting sick. This worried Kusakabe as the few times he could remember Hibari catching even a simple cold had always ended in a trip to the hospital. Even a single cough or sneeze from the boy had everyone up in arms with disinfectants and medical equipment. It wasn't likely now, but he had a relapse…
This seemed to snap the smaller boy out of his daze and he gave a grunt of affirmation.
"That will be all."
"Ar-" Kusakabe opened his mouth then thought better of it and changed his words.
After the door closed, Kusakabe gazed at the reinforced sheet of metal for a good while before heading back to his apartment.
His parents would be back from their business trip soon. Kusakabe's family, despite going through multiple name changes over the generations, had always served the Hibari family as their loyal vassals. Tetsuya was no different having been practically raised from birth for some form of service to the Hibari clan. It was just his luck that he had been selected out of all the other potential children by Kyouya nearly four years ago for his right hand. Neither he nor anyone else was exactly sure why the young boy had singled him out, but Tetsuya took pride in performing his duties for his beloved leader.
With love came worry though, and he dearly hoped that his friend would be able to whether through this obsession without too much trouble.
A name that was both a mouthful and weighty and somehow powerful in its own right.
"If you choose to continue pursuing Sawada Tsunayoshi, you will be drawn into conflicts with things and people that you could never have imagined even in a hundred years…If you choose to get closer, you will be unable to avoid his pull. There are no other choices and no going back once this happens..."
Tanaka's warning echoed in his mind as the last two weeks of searching rolled through his mind.
Loyal as he was, Kusakabe was neither blind nor exempt from any of Hibari's flaws or more volatile quirks. Nor his obsession with strength.
Tanaka-san. It would have been nice to get that warning a bit earlier.
He sighed as he prepared himself for bed.
I guess we'll be seeing a lot more of Sawada-san for a long long time. Note to self. Get a housewarming gift for Sawada-san soon…and make sure medical supplies are fully stocked for Kyou-san.
Tsuna sighed as he took in the rather sparse amount of furniture in the place. He would have liked to return to his childhood home, but not only was it an obvious place to hide, it had already been sold to some other family shortly after Tsuna had moved in with Grandpa in Italy with Nana and a few of his friends coming along for the ride.
Italy was nice. No one called him Dame-Tsuna or harassed him there…okay that was a lie. Reborn would never let him forget it even though he used it as a sort of affectionate pet name and he was still harassed there every day…just in a different way than people had done in Namimori.
Still, it was good to be back. He had missed Japan and Namimori. In fact, as soon as he had gotten his apartment, he had headed to the rooftop to see what changes had occurred over the time he was gone. Not much really. There were taller buildings and more of them than before. A new department store here. A remodeled mall there. It also seemed like some of the residential neighborhoods had expanded…along with the criminal elements of the town. Guess everyone was getting bold now that his, and consequently his family's, relocation took them out of the spotlight. That just really left the local Hibari clan to enforce things, but even they couldn't do everything by themselves as they had other responsibilities as well.
Speaking of Hibari, that young boy looked almost like a carbon copy of Fon and Alaude. He had intense stormy eyes and from the snatches Tsuna had seen of him, the same challenging bloodthirsty temperament that was almost a staple of the younger members of the clan. Reborn's remarks that Fon used to be quite the wild child and Alaude's teenage years came to mind. Even his father had occasionally talked about the crazy battles he had gotten into with other young Hibaris back before Tsuna was born.
The closest group of Hibaris that lived in Namimori was Hibari Masumi and his wife Jing-Yi, although sometimes other members of the clan would come by for visits. More than likely though, this was Masumi and Jing-Yi's only son. Huh. Has it really been that long? He really has grown up.
An old memory slipped through his mind like a fish passing by, quick and fleeting in the stream of his memories.
"We are going to wait until he is older to give him a name. It will be his decision to accept or reject it. If it is not to his liking, then we will try another and another until he responds to one."
If this was their son though...well, he wasn't too sure how the child would turn out. Violent. Hot blooded. Terrifying in his untapped combat potential. Of that, Tsuna was certain, but the boy could be in possession any number of other quirks that would only be revealed with time.
Hopefully, Tsuna wouldn't draw too much attention. Oh who was he kidding. His luck was horrible. He probably already got it judging by the whispers here and there of the fake name he had given on his first day back, but whatever. He was already running away and Reborn was sure to kick his ass for that anyways. He could handle living in denial for a while.
"That may be a Hibari, but he's definitely not after me…yet…dammit. I just moved in."
Sighing, Tsuna shook his head and went to unpack his pajamas.
"I've just got to be boring and normal and maybe a little dame too. Still...if he's well enough to be out and about like this...I'm glad."
The next few days passed and Tsuna could tell that he was being tailed constantly by the Hibari boy. Sometimes he couldn't actually make it though, so another preteen boy or boys would take his place.
'Don't these boys go to school?! It's not even summer break yet!'
Tsuna was starting to be able to match the faces of his stalkers due to the way it felt when they were watching him.
For example, the curiously respectful one was the dark brown haired boy who usually wore a baseball cap with aviator glasses on the brim.
The sporadic gaze was a lighter brown haired boy who easily got distracted anytime he passed a dog, whether it be a stray, a person walking it, or the puppies in the pet shop window. Tsuna made sure to slow down a bit and hang around longer for this one, pretending that he was distracted by some random thing.
The steady resigned gazer was the one that Tsuna saw in the elevator that day with the Hibari boy.
By far the most common feeling that Tsuna had been getting though was a heavy intense gaze that had him constantly on guard and careful to keep up his façade of normality.
"Hahi! Welcome back Tsuna!"
"Hi Kyoko. Hi Haru."
Sasagawa Kyoko, his old friend and the sister of his Onii-san, was currently working at her aunt's family restaurant as a waitress alongside Haru. Despite the distance, he had never lost touch with either of them and they had kept him up to date on the things happening in Namimori.
Kyoko called Haru over under the pretense of refilling the napkin dispensers on the tables near Tsuna while she described the different desserts that were offered to him. The lunch rush was over so it was mostly just people relaxing with small snacks or drinks sitting around reading newspapers. Halfway across the restaurant were two boys quietly doing their homework while casting occasional discrete glances over to Tsuna.
Giggling softly, Kyoko murmured so as not to be overheard by the other patrons, not that anyone else was paying attention to the brunet in the booth near the back.
"Your little friends always seem to be here whenever you are."
Tsuna gave an exasperated sigh.
"Tell me about it. They've been at it for five days already. I wonder how long they're going to keep it up."
"I think it's adorable. They're all following you like ducklings." Haru whispered as she stuffed a handful of paper into the dispenser of the table behind Tsuna.
"More like kittens stalking a bird. One of them's obviously a Hibari Haru. You've never really been around a young one growing up before. Or an older one for that matter."
She shrugged, making a point of taking off and retying her apron.
"It's still cute. And he's going to grow up to be a very pretty boy. A top class bishounen. Haru can already tell."
Tsuna snorted softly. "Just don't let him hear you call him that and as for dessert, I'm feeling pretty hungry today, so why don't you and Kyoko each pick one for me."
"Oh! Oh! I know! you should definitely try the strawberry mousse cake."
"And you know what'll go great with that? Chocolate!"
"Hahi! You're right. But which one?"
As the girls debated back and forth over cakes, Tsuna looked up just in time to catch the Hibari boy staring at him. Locking gazes, Tsuna smiled and waved. The boy immediately stiffened and turned back to his work while attempting to hide his embarrassment with a look of cool indifference. He failed, still looking annoyed with himself for having been caught.
Awww. Okay. So maybe Haru had a point. It was kind of cute. In the way that baby panthers were before they grew up into huge dangerous beasts with big teeth and claws.
"So that's one slice of strawberry mousse cake and one slice of Joffre cake. Anything else?"
Tsuna was a little surprised that the boy hadn't made a move yet. It was a bit unusual for one so young. He was probably going to fan the flames by doing this, but oh well. What's life if you don't live a little? Besides, he needed to go grocery shopping. He was a little more concerned with fully stocking his kitchen before the inevitable consequences of his actions came to kick him in the ass. Quite possibly literally. It was going to take a while and he didn't exactly want the kids to be bored out of their minds watching him do it.
Sawada Tsunayoshi seemed to have a sweet tooth with the way he made such a ridiculously carefree look of bliss as he devoured two enormous slices of cake, taking care to not leave any crumbs behind as he licked his fork clean. As he got up to pay for his meal, Kyouya subtly signaled Tetsu to pack up his homework, but before they could begin to do so, a large parfait was placed in front Hibari.
Blinking in surprise, he looked up at the waitress. Tetsuya eyed Hibari to gauge his reaction before speaking up.
"We did not order this…" He glanced at her name tag. "Sasagawa-san."
"Hahi! Don't worry. They've already been paid for." Another waitress, even cheerier than the first came over and plonked a second but equally large parfait in front of Kusakabe. Unlike Hibari's which was green tea flavored with red beans and elephant ear cookies, his was a strawberry chocolate banana one. Both were heavily topped with whipped crème and chocolate wafers.
"Who did?" Hibari narrowed his eyes at the one called 'Miura Haru', but the woman just beamed and pointed at Sawada Tsunayoshi who was heading out the door.
"He said and I quote 'Working so studiously is a good thing, but don't forget to take a break every now and then or you'll just burn yourselves out.'"
Then both girls gently tapped a long silver spoon down by each glass.
"Enjoy!" Bowing and backing away in synch, the boys couldn't help but feel that the entire thing was choreographed.
"Kyou-san?" Tetsuya uneasily followed Hibari's gaze to the windows where Sawada Tsunayoshi's distinctive hair soon disappeared from view.
"We know where he resides. He will eventually return and we will be waiting. He will not get away."
Quickly packing away their work, both boys quietly ate their parfaits lost in their thoughts. A moment passed before Hibari realized something else. These were their favorites. How did he know?
Wait. The teen often came here, sometimes twice a day, and they had usually followed and sat at some table with a clear view of the door if not necessarily the brunet himself. So he had noticed after all? Had he been watching them just as closely as they had been watching him?
As Muira passed by, Hibari reached out to tug at her apron, resolute expression on his face.
"Yes?" Inwardly she tried not to squeal at how adorable the child was.
"Why were we given these in particular?"
"Oh! Well, he didn't know what you would like so he just told Kyoko and me to pick something. We know every dessert in every shop in Namimori. Especially cake shops. But we've managed to perfect the skill of matching desserts to people based on their food preferences. You've been coming here quite a bit lately you know? It was pretty easy."
So the Omnivore had somehow learned of and used the skills of others to make his getaway. Both he and Tetsu had been rather hungry and the tall glasses of sweets were a definite temptation. Warnings of his crafty kindness circling his mind, Hibari tried to pump her for more information.
"Do you know who he is?"
"He said his name was Sawada Tsunayoshi. Hahi!" She squealed cradling her chin in her hands as she blushed and sighed dreamily. "He was sooooo~ cute! I should have asked for his number, but I keep forgetting to. He's got such big dreamy eyes and smooth peachy skin and…"
As she proceeded to ramble on, Hibari instantly dismissed her as a viable source of information, grimacing as she proceeded to go off on how he was such a sweet customer and so understanding about delays.
"He's such a sweet heart too! Worried about how you kids were so hard working. I bet he'll make a great daddy! Hopefully he was still single. You know what I'm going to do the next time I see him? I'm going to ask…"
"Haru! We need you in the backroom!"
The waitress had not noticed Hibari's increasingly irritated mood and had moved on to lamenting her lack of a love life before she had been called.
"Coming~!" Still tittering to herself, she stepped through the door marked 'Employee's Only' and both boys let out soft sighs of relief. Thank God.
"Kyoko-chan. Did you see? Did you see?"
"I did indeed. You were wonderful Haru-san. I feel honored to have been able to witness such a masterful performance by such a talented young lady." Kyoko took Haru's hand and bowed to place a chaste kiss on her knuckles, but when she straightened up, both girls burst into giggles.
"Tsuna-kun can be too nice at times. Haru thinks Hibari-san might really really like him. He refused to do anything else until Tsuna-kun had completely disappeared from sight."
"I'm not surprised. Tsuna-kun's always been great with younger kids. Remember Aki-chan?"
For a moment, the girls reflected a bit sadly on their once outgoing and exuberant classmate.
"It's good that Tsuna-kun is back. I think that Namimori needs a bit of a touch up. Everything's become a bit run down nowadays."
"Hahi! Haru couldn't agree more."
"Let's see. Ooh. Shiitake mushrooms are on sale and so is the rice. I'll need some pepper too…geez. Maybe I should have just ordered online and had them delivered to my place. How the heck am I going to carry this all?"
As it was, Tsuna had been making his way around the biggest grocery store in Namimori pushing a cart with his elbows as one hand was holding a sales paper while the other had a shopping list.
He stopped in the spice aisle, debating on how much he should be getting at the moment. It would definitely be on the smaller side of his grocery items, but he was probably going to have trouble carry what he had already home. The weight wasn't the problem; it was the fact that some of his items were pretty bulky. He had a backpack on to allow him to free up his hands for other things, but he could only put so much in it. The process of stocking his apartment with edibles was slow going. Slow because he was trying not to draw too much attention from his kiddy stalkers that stuck out like sore thumbs in the crowd in his well-trained eyes.
"Make sure you get the star anise." Someone grumbled next to him. "What the hell is star anise? I don't even know what regular anise is."
"It's this spice over here. See how the seed pods are attached to a stem? That's where it gets its star shape and name from. Regular anise has these oval slightly curved seeds and individual pods."
Following the pointing finger, the man immediately froze once he realized who its owner was.
For a moment, they stared at each other in awkward silence. The man with his basket and the teen with the shopping cart.
Then the officer snorted.
"Cut the crap Sawada. We're not in school anymore. We're both legal adults now and unless you get a job in the local law enforcement, I'm not your senpai anymore."
"Al-alright. But only if you call me Tsuna."
Studying the young man before him, Yasushi noted how Tsuna seemed to have filled out a bit. He had always been on a small side, but now he was at least a good six inches taller. Still shorter than Yasushi himself though. His features were more distinct and weren't quite as childlike as before though it seemed that a little baby fat stubborn clung on to his cheeks, softening the defined lines and giving him a harmless youthful look. And that charming smile that was so heartwarming in its sincerity that it should have been made illegal.
"I'm a cop now. "
"Really? I mean…it's just a bit unexpected."
"Yeah. Yeah. Laugh it up."
Wide sparkling eyes and big grin in place, Yasushi was sure that the brunet was trying not to burst into giggles.
"I bet that was your plan all along wasn't it you sly little shit. Dropping hints here and there about things for me to do at home. Parents finally start getting along after a decade of fighting. Kid brother gets a good home environment to grow up in so he doesn't become the mess that I turned out to be. I turn my life around and become an upstanding member of society and the old man is so fucking ecstatic about it that he even throws a fucking party and everything. Then he decides to quit trying to find some sort of connection on your activities as he has more important things to do like turning from the most hardcore hardass cop to the most rabid doting husband and father in the precinct. Apparently that's my job now, but since I owe you so much that I'm probably going to be in debt for the rest of my life, I have no choice but to look the other way as much as I can when it comes to anything involving you or your buddies."
"That's not true at all. It was your own dedication and hard work that led you to where you are now. You've always been able to accomplish more than you thought you could. And…" Here, his eyes twinkled. "As an upstanding member of society, you can't just go harassing innocent civilians to fights. Ne Banchou?"
Tsuna was still smiling. He could probably get away with admitting to murder and no one would even care so long as that smile was on his face. As it was, Yasushi only groaned, glad that the brunet had lowered his voice to just above a murmur even though their aisle was mostly clear. Tsuna was too endearing to ever really get mad at, no matter how cheeky he could be.
"Oi. Oi. Don't call me that. That's all in the past now. Upstanding citizen remember?"
They just looked at each other for a moment and then started cracking up.
"Hell, it's good to see you again. Any chance for that fight sometime? I took up martial arts ever since you left, proper instruction and everything. I'm currently the best in my class, but I need to test myself against a real pro to see how I really measure up."
It was nice to see that Tsuna still got easily flustered over compliments and was just as annoyingly humble as ever. "I'm only decent. You haven't seen the real masters in action yet."
"Only decent? You? What kind of monsters have you been hanging around?"
"I wouldn't call them monsters. Lunatics maybe, but not monsters. Besides, I'm trying not to draw too much attention right now. I've seemed to have picked up a bunch of stalkers and I'm pretty sure the one in charge of them is a Hibari. The last thing I need is someone constantly trying to ambush and corner me for fights until he reaches his twenties. Speaking of stalkers, I can sense one of them around here somewhere."
In a louder voice, Tsuna proceeded to ask about what Yasushi was planning to cook and recommending certain spices to complement his dishes. Yasushi replied that it was his father who was about to start preparing some food as his contribution to their upcoming family reunion.
"Nii-san! I did it! I got the last pack of…" The boy rounding the corner slowed down and stared straight at Tsuna wide eyed. It was the aviator glasses and baseball cap boy.
Tsuna glanced up to find Yasushi laughing at him with his eyes as he wrapped and arm around his brother's shoulders and propelled him forward. "Let me introduce you to an old school mate."
"…" Shinji had adopted a deer-in-the-headlights look, frozen stiff.
Tsuna crouched down until he was eye level with the younger Katayama and gave his sweet smile. "Hello. My name is Sawada Tsunayoshi. But you can just call me Tsuna. What's your name?"
Tsuna's usual charm kicked in and before Yasushi knew it, Shinji was chattering away about their daily lives like the brunet was his favorite uncle come to visit and pushing the teen's cart for him.
Making sure that Shinji couldn't see, Yasushi mouthed, 'Kinda too late for that. Looks like you're stuck. Now about that fight…' He gave a smirk.
Yasushi was given a pretty pout in return. That should-be-illegal smile was now a should-be-illegal expression of contrite acceptance. He was also given a bird, discretely of course, when they were in a position where only he would have been able to see it. Tsuna was as subtle as ever, praising and patting Shinji on the shoulder after some random story about school that Yasushi had tuned out and never looking away from the little brother's eyes even as he simultaneously flipped the elder off, the movement so smooth and natural that everyone would take it as a normal act of removing his hand from the boy's shoulder. Yasushi had to fight off a wave of gut busting laughter.
Namimori had never been particularly quiet, but with Tsuna's presence, it was about to get quite noisy. Still it would be worth it. The entertainment value that was the life of one Sawada Tsunayoshi never failed to bring a smile to his face. And…this incredible person could get things done, things far beyond even a dream for most of the force. It would be nice if he could actually take a break from the constant wariness that had been steadily dragging everyone in the station down these last few years.
There was a lot to catch up on, but with Shinji's presence, neither were particularly inclined to bring up the past. As it was, Yasushi offered Tsuna a ride back to his building and thus Tsuna was able to finish the massive shopping spree that he had been holding off.
"Thanks for the lift, but I'll be fine here."
Yasushi raised an eyebrow and looked to the back of his car. Tsuna was wedged in the narrow space left between a huge box of cooking tools and the door. He had insisted that Shinji take the front passenger seat where there was more room despite the fact that he was twice as big as the boy and the space was half as wide as the front seat.
Yasushi pulled over, making sure that he wasn't in a tow away zone, and shut off the car.
"C'mon Shinji. Give me a hand and help carry some stuff up."
"What? No. No. You don't have to do that. It's enough that you took the time to drive me back. You don't have to do anything else. Just wait here and I'll-"
"Shut up Sawada. Alright Shinji. Listen up. This guy's too nice to ever ask anyone else for help unless it's an emergency and I'm not talking about a holy-shit-there's-a-house-on-fire-emergency. No. It's gotta be a holy-shit-there's-an-entire-apartment-complex-on-f ire-and-a-sick-unconcious-toddler's-trapped-with-h is-sister-on-the-roof-with-a-crazy-revenge-obsesse d-serial-killer-and-her-cannibal-partner-in-a-leot ard-and-the-way-up-there-is-full-of-evil-minions-w ith-more-booby-traps-in-it-than-an-Indiana-Jones-m ovie-kind-of-emergency. Oh. And said crazy revenge-obsessed serial killer has planted bombs all throughout the town too and is holding the police chief's family hostage in an unknown location. That's the kind of emergency where he'll ask for help."
Tsuna spluttered uselessly and flailed his arms in panic. Or at least tried to. It was too cramped for him to even do that.
"Tha-that's not tr-"
"So when it comes to minor things like carrying groceries, you have to ignore him and just do it."
"Wa-wait-a minute. I don't have that much stuff. I'll just be even more of an inconvenience to yo-"
"Tsuna. I already told you to call me Tsuna. Sawada's what people call my dad."
"Tsuna then. My car is so full of your crap that I'm surprised that there isn't a trail from the store to here made of the scraps of my bumper. If we had to wait for you to bring everything up yourself, we'd end up staying here for dinner. So all in favor of helping this bundle of masochistic stubbornness carry his shit to his place, say aye."
Shinji took a moment to finish comprehending his brother's words, then unbuckled his seat belt and twisted around halfway, waving his hand high. "Aye! Aye!"
"Bu-bu-but. Nay! Nay, I say!"
"It's two to one. Majority wins. Now move your ass. I want to be home sometime before the sun goes down."
Sputtering incoherently a few more times, Tsuna leaned forward to thump his head on the back of the driver seat. Shinji was already scrambling out the door heading for the trunk and Yasushi took a moment to lean forward as well, forehead pressed against his forearm on the steering wheel, shoulders shaking in laughter.
Ah. If only Tsunayoshi's little terrorist buddy, Gokudera was here. That hot headed bastard would probably be torn between cursing Yasushi for being so forcefully helpful and disrespectful at the same time to Tsuna and himself for agreeing to override his precious Juudaime's objections as well while switching facial expressions anytime he looked at a different person. He made the most hilarious faces and said the most embarrassing things when he was praising the brunet. It was no wonder Yamamoto was always laughing at him.
They met Hibari and Kusakabe who were waiting for them outside.
Shinji froze, but Tsuna didn't show the slightest hesitation as he smoothly greeted the boys with his usual smile.
"Have you finished your work yet?"
"A-ah. Yeah. Thank you for the-um-treats. They were delicious."
"Well I'm glad." And here Sawada Tsunayoshi's smiled his warm, warm, warm smile. That dangerous smile that came with closed eyes as if he was shutting off his most distracting sense in order to truly feel the joy that he had received. As if he was truly happy just because they were happy.
Tetsuya ended up tentatively smiling back because it would take a will far stronger than his own not to.
At least until he felt the aura next to him spiking in unusual ways. Startled, Kusakabe glanced at Hibari who was staring at Sawada Tsunayoshi with such intensity that he wouldn't be all that surprised if the teen spontaneously combusted.
A flock of birds flew off from a nearby rooftop in a flurry. A dog pulling his owner towards them turned right around and dragged the all too willing man away with him. Cars passing down the street either made abrupt u-turns or sped up so as to get away from the area as quickly as possible.
And the teen opened his eyes still smiling and…completely unfazed by the pressure surrounding the entire block.
Kusakabe didn't have to turn his head to know that Shinji almost as stiff as ice and just as frozen. Nor that Yasushi-san was probably instinctively tense and placing himself within range so as to interfere if Kyou-san suddenly lashed out.
And then Hibari Kyouya smiled-a tiny almost nonexistent quirk of the lips, but it was a smile nonetheless-and thanked him as well. Quiet, polite words that held a great deal of anticipation and promises behind them.
Sawada Tsunayoshi's only response was to give a bigger, but no less sincere one in return.
At that moment, Tetsu understood exactly what Tanaka-san was talking about. Sawada Tsunayoshi may very well be the most dangerous person to ever grace Namimori.
"I think we're going to need multiple trips."
"Really? I don't think it's so bad. Thanks to you driving me here, I didn't have to carry everything all the way back. You saved me quite a few trips. And with everyone here to help out, everything will go much faster."
All three boys were carrying plastic bags of groceries and whatever other small items Tsuna had picked up. Yasushi had a big box of what he assumed to be cooking tools in his arms.
"You bought ten bags of rice. Ten twenty pound bags of rice. What are you cooking for? A buffet?"
"Of course not. They were on sale. I figured that I might as well stock up now so I don't have to worry about it for a while. Besides. I'm going to have visitors eventually. It's not like I'll be eating this all by myself."
With that, Tsuna shut the trunk with one hand, the other balancing the stacked rice bags against his shoulder, oblivious to the wide eyes of the boys.
"Just remembering Sasagawa."
"Onii-san? What about him?"
"How ridiculous he is."
"What? He's not that bad. He's just…really really enthusiastic."
"And really really ridiculously strong."
"…can't argue with that."
"So strong in fact that it was like he didn't understand normal human limitations. Especially with the way he would crash through concrete the way some people would crash through rice paper or all those times he would destroy the school punching bags in a single punch because he didn't realize his own strength."
"Yasushi-kun. Something tells me that I won't like where you're going with this conversation."
"Say Tsuna. How long has it been since you've been around normal people?"
"Well most normal people can't carry something twice their weight with barely any visible signs of strain."
"…" Well shit.
Yasushi laughed all the way to elevators and as annoyed as Tsuna was, he had no one to else to blame for outing himself. He sighed inwardly.
Maybe I really do deserve the name of Dame-Tsuna.
From behind, the bloodlust of the little Hibari felt like tiny needles boring into his back.
Things delivered, Tsuna let everyone take in his current accommodations. They could poke around all they liked. They weren't going to find anything really incriminating. He didn't carry dynamites or dangerous chemicals like Hayato or Verde, nor Asari or Squalo's sword maintenance supplies. No guns and ammunition like Reborn and Colonello or awards for the crazy stunt shows like Skull. His place was plain and simple. Tsuna was used to traveling light for these last couple months so there weren't any personal trinkets decorating the shelves. Everything that he needed was always on his person.
Still, the boys were helping put away the groceries, taking the time to study the contents of his admittedly bare cabinets. They really were quite good for their age, but severely lacking in experience when it came to those at Tsuna's level.
Tsuna offered to prepare them some snacks as soon as he had put his backpack down in his bedroom.
Before he made it halfway, he stopped and looked back.
"Oh. By the way, I don't think I've caught your names yet. I'm Sawada Tsunayoshi. What's yours?"
Everyone stopped moving as they realized that the young man before them had invited half the party into his home without even knowing who they were.
Such a trusting person...
So it was Kyouya!
How could Tsuna have forgotten? Especially since…
Tsuna shook his head. This was no time to be browsing through old memories. He had guests to attend to.
When he came back into the kitchen, he was immediately accosted by Kyouya who was giving him an assessing look.
"How old are you?"
Ah. Blunt. Straight to the point. Impatient. And used to getting what he wants through whatever means he deemed necessary.
"Eighteen. And how old are you?"
He ignored Tsuna's question.
"You have alcohol. Not only that, you have enough to warrant a wine cooler. The legal age of alcohol consumption in Japan is twenty."
A stickler for the rules, it seemed, but Tsuna knew that he would be more than willing to bend or use them for his own purposes.
"I know. I've never been one for alcohol much myself, but I do occasionally use some to cook. These particular bottles aren't for me though. Rather, they're for future guests."
He didn't seem to particularly happy about this tidbit, but like Tsuna expected, he grabbed ahold of this line with a tight grip.
"Don't worry. The people who'll be drinking this will be at least twenty."
The boy's eyebrows furrowed as he thought back.
"You've drank before?"
"The legal drinking age in Italy is sixteen. So I've had a few glasses every now and then." Or a few hundred no thanks to everyone else…why do you people insist on trying to ruin my liver before I hit my twenties?
"Mostly on holidays and special occasions. Ah! That reminds me. It's been sometime since I've been here. It's almost time for Namimori's Cherry Blossom Festival isn't it? Do you know of any particular places to get…"
And nowhere near as good at dealing with subtlety or redirection as his relatives. The next three hours was spent discussing local traditions and festivals and by the time Hibari had left, along with Kusakabe and the Katayama siblings, he found himself in the elevators holding onto a bag of candy identical to the ones everyone had received from the innocent teen. 'As thanks for your help,' he had said.
And Hibari. Hibari had managed to learn that Tsunayoshi liked a lot of things. There wasn't much that he didn't like. And that…
The bag of candy crinkled in his hands as he realized that he had spent the last few hours conversing with the teen in a small crowded room and learned nothing truly substantial after that bit about the alcohol. Not his strength. Not his talents. Not what truly made him tick. Not even his abilities…no that wasn't true. He had heard of some of it, but he really hadn't believed it until now. That strength and the ease in which he displayed it. And the way that he made even Kyouya himself careless and forgetful and so, so herbivorous. Kyouya had ended up giving away so much more than he had been given and hadn't even realized it.
A dark violet aura was starting to seep out around him until he jolted in surprise, lashing out with a tonfa on instinct. He missed. The hand that had been on his shoulder was held up in a placating manner.
"Hey now. There's no use beating yourself up over it. He's spent most of his life running. Even if he slips up, he's good at getting others to doubt themselves and look the other way. That's just how he works. He's fooled many many others for several years as a kid."
Kyouya's eyes narrowed in displeasure.
The elevator doors reached the bottom floor and opened with its usual *ding!*. None of them noticed as they were preoccupied in a stare off. A couple of people about to get on, promptly decided that now was a good a time as any to start working on their New Year resolution to lose weight by taking the stairs.
The doors slid shut and the receptionist, a staff member selected by local the Hibari clan and drilled in the ways of keeping secrets, carefully kept her eyes averted and her expression neutral as the doors slid shut; its occupants still inside.
Yasushi sighed, raking a hand through his hair.
"Remember how I said that Namimori's Banchou was always after him for a fight? Well, he never got it for a reason even though he had over a year to do it. Tsuna's so easy to get along with that you end up forgetting about trying to pick a fight with him. You lose the will to fight. So long as you're by his side, you'll feel content, maybe even happy and you stop thinking about things like that. He's made it into a skill that only a rare few can actually overcome. That and his friends are so insane and far beyond the realm of normal behavior that you end up standing to the side quietly because getting drawn in can be life threatening if you aren't just as crazy or strong enough."
Then he snickered.
"Unfortunately, for Tsuna though, he gets sucked into everything whether he wants to or not. If you look at it that way, I guess it's only natural that he had to come up with some way to survive being surrounded by that."
"Chaos. Absolute chaos. In fact. You could say Sawada Tsunayoshi is the eye of a hurricane. Where ever it is, he'll most likely be the center of it, but as long as you are within that eye, you will be safe from the destruction surrounding you."
There was something ominous, heavy, and almost reverently respectful about the way Katayama Yasushi said those words, but none of the boys could understand what it was.
Once Tsuna was certain that they had all entered the elevators, he returned to his apartment, shut and locked the heavy duty door (All five of them, why they had that many, he didn't know, but he wasn't complaining.), and slid down to the floor, his back against the door. He hugged his knees and sighed.
Tsuna had the most unsettling feeling that he was slowly being herded. First was the fully stocked apartment complete with nice furniture and a filled wine cooler that Tsuna had forgotten to throw a table cloth over to hide. It had been a gift from Tanaka-san with a welcome-home note that he had burned right away. Not before he memorized the message though. It was clearly a carefully worded plea to inform him whenever that man arrived as well among other things.
Everyone had slowly been pushing him out trying to expose that incident nearly four years ago and the ingrained instinct to flee was flexing and stretching as if in preparation.
But Tsuna wasn't in the mood to run anymore. He was now digging his roots down and making a stand here in Namimori. Here, he would have the home ground advantage when they came for him. And hopefully, by the time that happened his backup would be here and it would be far more troublesome to force him out.
There was something a little more concerning though. Everyone from Haru and Kyoko's hints, to the last bit of Tanaka-san's note, to Yasushi's too-close-for-comfort example to his brother disguised as an explanation to why they were going to help Tsuna to the absolute silence he was getting from a certain area of his circle of friends.
Sighing to himself, Tsuna stood up and pulled out a folded piece of paper from his pocket. There had been a flyer in his mail yesterday morning. Tsuna was certain that every mailbox in the city had one.
It was a reminder that people were encouraged to come to the fire and other emergency situation seminar at Namimori's biggest outdoor mall and that they were encouraged to bring their children, no matter the age. Tsuna was pretty sure that it had only been set up about a week ago at the latest. It was actually going to be somewhat of a mini street festival and there were sure to be a lot of people there.
Which means they wouldn't be elsewhere.
Tsuna looked at the flyer and studied the way the bright flames in the background had been drawn to look like overlapping autumn leaves.
At least he had all the supplies he needed now. If he got started as soon as he finished tonight's dinner, he'd be ready with plenty of time to spare before the seminar.
"Hey. You boys going to the seminar tomorrow? I've got to go because they've asked for volunteers from different departments that deal in safety and my old man volunteered me since it's my day off."
Yasushi grumbles trailed off into with something that sounded suspiciously like inconsiderate bastard.
"No. There will be crowding." Crossing his arms and glaring like this was the most offensive thing in the world, Yasushi mentally compared the boy to his grandmother's grumpy Siamese when he didn't get the flavor of canned cat food that he wanted. Hibari's expression was ranked somewhere between 'Ugh. Turkey and cheese' to 'Fish? And it's not alive? You must be joking. Or stupid. Or both.'
"I think it'll be important though. If you're going to have your Disciplinary Committee enforce rules, you should know what to watch out for. It's not just going to be about basic safety. It's about what to look for and what to do if you see people engaging in dangerous activities. Sometimes, the real danger isn't the emergency itself, but the stupidity of the people that are involved in it. You won't be able to prevent everything, but at least you can minimize the contributions to them if you know what to look for."
At this Hibari, though still frowning, conceded to his point.
"Very well then. We shall all come." The boy's expression was now 'Beef in gravy? Surely you should have known that today's the last Monday of the month and I wanted Beef AND Liver in gravy you dimwitted human. Very well then, I'll settle for this just this once. The things I put up with for you.'
Yasushi's smile came off as somewhat of a grimace as he desperately tried to keep his thoughts from showing on his face. It wouldn't do to let the child know that he was starting to learn how to read him by basing him off of Grandma's cat.
There you go. That should be more than enough time to do what you need to do Tsuna.
He shoved a hand into his pocket, fingering the piece of paper Tsuna had slipped him, as he used his other to wave goodbye. He wasn't sure if he wanted to know what the brunet was doing that caused him to need at least five different phone numbers, but at least he was considerate enough to provide short summaries of what each one was for and the names he wanted Yasushi to list each one as.
The moon was bright tonight. It was warm, but there was a nice breeze to offset the humidity. Toshiaki had gone to the seminar along with all his little DC friends and usually Aki would have closed all the curtains and quadrupled checked that all the doors and windows were locked until her brother returned.
Still, Aki was now perched at the doorway of glass sliding door that led to her backyard. Her bare feet just barely touching the border that led to the world outside. She was more afraid of the person standing just outside of her shuttered and shut doors and just a little ashamed to be seen by her visitor. Why did she have to bring him up when the boys had asked about him?
Toshiaki had been hinting and probing, trying to get answers about what could have caused those scars, but she clammed up faster and faster each time, withdrawing enough that he had been alarmed enough to stop. She really shouldn't have said anything.
"Umm. Aki-chan? Can I come in? Are you mad at me? Did I do something? Is it because I didn't visit you sooner or that I talked to Banchou first? Is it because I went to see Haru and Kyoko three times a day but I haven't even stopped by here yet?! Oh God! I'm sorry! I'm sorry if you're angry but I… I brought a peace offering and-"
"What kind of offering?"
"Pepper jelly-filled carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and candied ginger."
"You like weird."
"Sounds American." She said in English.
"You like American."He replied back in English.
She pulled back the curtains and let the light of her living room illuminate Tsuna's face. He was looking genuinely upset and still on the verge of hysteria but there was a sort of puppy-ish hope in his expression.
She slid open the door.
"Hello Aki-chan. We're not in school anymore. You can just call me Tsuna now you know."
He sighed and shook his head in resignation. "I suppose that's as close as I'm going to get huh."
Then he looked up at her. "Think you can make it to the porch? You have a bench out here and it's such a nice night that it'll be a shame to not take advantage of it. What do you say?"
She reached a hand out, but it was as if the door was still there and the limb trembled as it pressed against the empty space, going no further than her toes. She pulled back her hands and clutched her other arm, still trembling.
"I-I…I can't…I'm…sorry…" Her tone was reverting to the quiet whispery way she usually spoke to everyone nowadays and she bowed her head in shame, realizing that she was showing Senpai a too pale too skinny girl in a long stained T-shirt and thick granny glasses sitting on top of slightly greasy hair.
"Sorry? For what?"
"For showing you…this ugly ugly girl who has…has spit and trampled on the se-second chan-chance that Sen-senpai gave me and To-to-toshi…" She sniffed and rubbed her eyes as the shame cracked her voice.
"I don't see it."
"This ugly girl who has spit and trampled on the second chance that I gave her and her brother almost four years ago. I don't see her at all, because she doesn't exist. I see my kouhai and friend who for many years has been feeling very scared and very lonely after going through very traumatic experience."
He held out a hand that stopped at the place her own had just trembled at.
"Come with me? Please?"
"I…I'm not exactly dressed my best."
"No one else is here to see but me and I don't care."
"I'll be here. I'll even hold your hand if you like."
How could she refuse an offer like that?
Still shaking, she placed her hand in his. It was warm and strong and when she looked into his face it was just like his hand. There was the reassuring flicker of orange in his eyes like a flame. The only fire that she would never fear.
One shaky foot stepped out followed by another and before she knew it, she was standing on her back porch, bare feet against the warm stone that had soaked in the rays of the day. The wind swept across her face and she inhaled sharply, taking in the scent of the outdoors. But when she looked up into the star studded sky, the wide open space pressed down on her.
For a moment, she was back there again. The warmth beneath her feet was seeping through her through the melting soles of her sneakers. The wind was sharp and hot, carrying with it the smell of burning things and the screams of people below and there was nowhere to go because she was already at the highest point and all that was left was wide wide wide open moonlit sky and no one was coming to save them because no one could possibly make it through the fiery deathtrap below and no one would be coming in from above because they were keeping them away and they were all going to die, but especially Toshiaki. Innocent little Toshi who was sick and unconscious and had no idea what sort of hell his big sister had been put through for the last few hours and was going to die in his sister's arms and never wake up and it would be all her faul-
"-ki-chan! Aki-chan! AKI! AKI!"
With a shuddering gasp, Aki wrenched herself out of her memories only to find she had sunk down to her knees and Senpai was rubbing her back with one hand as the other was being crushed by her surprisingly strong grip.
"It's okay. It's all over now. It's all over and done with. Put it behind you Aki. You're alive. Your brother's alive. And they're not. They're gone for good and you'll be fine. You'll both be just fine. I won't let anything like that happen again. I promise with my dying will. Look at me Aki. Look at me and see my resolution."
And no matter how much she didn't want to tilt her head up for fear of seeing the wide open sky again, she couldn't resist Senpai's order. Especially when he used that tone.
Taking another deep shuddering breath, she looked up and into the poofy untameable hair that was obscuring the sky above. The bright flame that outshone the moon on his forehead and the rising suns that outshone the stars in his eyes.
Then she looked down and saw that his hand was on fire and so was her's but it didn't hurt. Just like back then, it didn't hurt and it wouldn't hurt so long as the person before her had anything to say about it.
And it was going to be fine. She realized. It really was going to be fine because Senpai was back and Senpai would keep them safe from the fire and most of all, Senpai had promised. And Senpai always keeps his promise.
Sometime later, they had both managed to make it to the bench and were sharing the cupcakes as they talked. Tsuna didn't say anything about how Aki looked far too thin for comfort and Aki didn't say anything about how Tsuna's façade of relaxation belied an even more alert wariness of his surroundings than he had shown in his younger years. Topics that really shouldn't be touched on. Not at this moment.
"They still spend all their time working. As far as my parents know, I became a hikikomori because I was bullied for being smart and now I'm just NEET who's too afraid to leave the house for fear of running into her ex-classmates. Now that I'm old enough though, they don't hire housekeepers to come and check on us anymore. It's just Toshi and me and whatever friend Toshi brings over."
Aki munched cheerfully into her cupcake, uncaring of how the green jelly oozed out onto her fingers. She licked it off and reached for another.
"These are delicious. I hope there will be more in the near future?"
Tsuna reached into the box and pulled out something wrapped in wax paper.
"Here's the recipe and I've also put in six more jars of pepper jelly for you so you can make your own. The red ones use Jalapeño peppers and the green ones use Habanero peppers. Haru and Kyoko will be expecting you to come visit them at work when you're ready so you can make some to share with them. At the very least, they're probably going to drag you out to go shopping with them."
Aki, about to take a bite, stopped and cradled the cupcake in her hands.
"Do you-do you think they'll be angry? I…sort of slowly cut them out more and more. All I've been doing these last few years is work for Tanaka-san. I haven't interacted face to face with anyone over the age of eleven in four months. Tanaka-san gives me easy safe jobs close to home and because I'm known as one of his informants, the Hibaris have put me under a high priority level of protection so I don't even get charity solicitors, door-to-door sales people, or even the occasional prankster in the mood for ding-dong ditch. This area is patrolled often so it's safe and fairly quiet too."
"I think…that they'll be a little upset. But. They'll be more than happy to see you out there and enjoying yourself again like you used to. I hope you've got a big stomach though, because they're going to hit up every cake shop in Namimori and you will have to eat at least one slice of every flavor in every location because you've been deprived of three years worth of Cake Appreciation Day."
"I'm being serious here. You'll be on a permanent sugar high once they get their hands on you and then your brother will probably end up checking you into the hospital to test you for drugs or hypnotism or even a mental breakdown."
She was still laughing. This time at the fact that he had delivered his words in the monotone that was his usual tone when he was in this mode.
"So how's Hibari-san been treating you?"
"Hibari Masumi? Or Jing-Yi? I haven't seen either of them in a while."
"No not them. I mean their son. Hibari Kyouya. He's been so obsessed with you that I wasn't sure if he was going to end up like Gokudera-kun before even getting to talk to you."
The flames disappeared instantly, Tsuna dropping back to his normal state as he choked. "Was it you? Were you the one you set him on me? And what do you mean like Gokudera-kun?"
"You know. A stalker with a crush. And no. You can blame Banchou for that. He's the one that managed to draw out your picture from Hibari-san's description. Apparently, he also told them about the Supplementary Summer School War and the person who singlehandedly ended it."
Even with his flames put out, Aki didn't feel the same crushing terror like before. It seemed that just knowing that Senpai was here was enough.
Tsuna thumped his head back against the house wall.
"And then I showed off a few old scars and gave them your all your school records from the entire time you were in the Namimori school system."
He groaned, pressing his hands into his face.
"After that, I referred them to Tanaka-san who proceeded to make a mention about the Momokyokai and then warned them away from you."
"Great. It's all one big conspiracy. The most important people with the most information all gathered together to out me. You've all been planning this for the last three years haven't you." He accused.
"Actually, it really was just coincidence. No reason not to take advantage of it though. Without you here, a lot of the nastier bits outside Namimori have started to get bold again. I've heard that you've had a run in with some new ones though."
"Yeah. They called themselves Blue Cobra, but these were just your basic grunts so far down the ladder that I'm pretty sure that I don't really have to worry too much about retribution. If anything, I'm positive that they'll be wasting time on that fake name and if they make enough complaints; their next-level superior will be smart enough to realize that his underlings have crossed into Hibari territory. He has a reputation for doing things like this to wannabe upstarts."
"So it really shouldn't be a problem right? Tanaka-san won't sell you out because he really likes you. Besides if he did, death would be the least of least of his worries."
"Hmm…the fact that I dumped their bodies into a dumpster may be a problem though. Hibari-san usually doesn't clean up after himself. Rarely do any of them actually do it. They usually tell their subordinates to or sometimes they like to leave behind bodies as a deterrent if they can get away with it."
"Argh! Do you have any idea how much cleaning up I had to do back then? I had both the hospital and the Hibari clan's personal clean-up crew on speed dial, because I was constantly coming across bodies everywhere. They didn't care enough to actually do anything about them because these casualties weren't as important as the battle that caused it. At least they had enough self-control to leave them alive…usually."
Tsuna was working himself up into a huff as he ranted about considerately inconsiderate Hibaris, whatever that meant, and Aki was willing to listen as he provided her with a rather in-depth insight to the town's most fearsome and mysterious ruling family that other people would have been astounded by.
Maybe this was why she had told the boys. A part of her had been so happy to hear that he was back. She had missed being active in her information gathering. She had missed interacting face to face with other people. She had missed going to the mall and visiting the library and just hanging out in general. She had missed going outside, but Senpai's return brought her hope that she could one day be able to do those things again without feeling hunted every time she left the house. Because as long as he was there, she knew that he would do his best to keep everyone safe.
Despite Senpai's constant battle against acknowledgement, she, and everyone else who truly knew, wanted to impart the greatness that Tsuna fought so hard to hide to the next generation of Namimori's protectors.
He was still so nice, so reassuring, and so so easy to tease. How could she have ever been afraid of Senpai?
Making his way back to his apartment, Tsuna ran into Hibari in the lobby.
The boy gave a grunt of acknowledgement, not seeming to care that Tsuna was using his first name. He seemed rather tired and cranky. Maybe it was past his bed time.
"Long night? How was the seminar?"
"Ah. A big crowd can be pretty claustrophobic when you're small."
"I am not afraid of anything." He snarled, eyes darkening in anger.
Oops. Tired, cranky, and proud.
"I just don't like herbivores."
"Weak people are herbivores. They are not strong enough to stand alone and so they crowd together in the hopes that a carnivore will pick one of the others off instead of them. It makes me want to bite them all to death. Maybe I'll come across an omnivore hidden amongst them."
Here, he looked straight at Tsuna.
"If I'm really lucky, I might even find a carnivore."
"Oh. And what will you do if you find either one?"
The boy gave a smirk that in Hibari language, was practically a giddy grin.
"I'll bite them to death."
How nice. He even had a catch phrase and a bloodthirsty smile to go with it. Still, Tsuna could handle this. Being tired seemed to have made the child especially talkative and lax.
"Ah." Something noncommittal yet still agreeable. "Where's Tetsuya-kun?"
"With his relatives. He's staying with them tonight."
Here, little Kyouya looked as blank faced as possible as they entered the elevators together. Awww. He must be feeling lonely. Making up his mind, Tsuna realized that he was practically giving the boy permission to take more liberties but eh, whatever. The boy was probably going to start doing that soon enough anyways.
"Have you eaten yet?"
Blinking in surprise, Kyouya looked up at him.
"Because I haven't. I could use some company though. Meals always taste better when you have someone else to eat with."
He paused in thought and Tsuna waited patiently.
"Can you make hamburger steak?"
Tsuna practically beamed down at him.
"Of course I can. It's my favorite."
In the end, Kyouya nodded off shortly after the meal, still sitting up in his seat. Tsuna tried to puzzle out who this trait came from. Jing-Yi could sleep anywhere due to her training, but she awoke at the slightest sounds. Masumi was a bit pickier about where he chose to sleep, but could drop off almost instantaneously, and stay asleep but alert due to his strangely selective hearing, much to his wife's envy.
Either way, it was clear to see that the boy was exhausted. There was a slight shadow under his eyes and Tsuna clucked and fussed over him quietly. Someone so young shouldn't be having that yet. He'd have to keep an extra watchful eye on him to make sure that he didn't get sick. Carefully changing Kyouya into one of his longer T-shirts which came off as a night gown in its length, Tsuna tucked him into his guestroom bed, making sure to leave the hall light on and door opened just a crack.
Laundry done and dishes washed and small tonfas polished just for good measure, Tsuna flopped on his bed with a sigh. He'd have to find a job soon, but he wasn't sure if he'd be able to hold it. He wanted to at least be able to say hi to Kyouya's parents but he wasn't sure how to broach that topic at the moment. It was clear that the couple had not told their son about Tsuna yet. Just like they had agreed to all those years ago. Tugging his blanket out from under him, he flipped it over his head. He'd think about it in the morning.
When morning came, Kyouya sat up slowly, blinking sleepily as he tried to determine exactly where he was. Something was different, but he wasn't able to put a finger on it. The walls were as bare as the ones in his apartment, seeing as he didn't really stay here that often. The ceiling was the same. The sunlight shining through the window was the same, but the furniture was different. The sheets and covers were different. The mattress…he didn't even have a bed in his apartment, just a futon. And this…this shirt, nice and soft and sweet smelling as it was, wasn't his.
Then the memories of the night before returned along with the realization that it was most likely Sawada Tsunayoshi's shirt that he was wearing, making his face flush a deep red. He looked around and spotted his clothes, neatly folded on a desk across the room. His tonfas however were on the end table next to him, sitting on a small pillow that looked a bit like the one from the living room couch. They shone like they had been recently cleaned and polished.
Grabbing them as he stumbled out of bed, Kyouya's face flushed even more as he realized that even his boxers had been washed and folded as they were sitting on top of the pile of clothes that smelled just like the T-shirt he was currently wearing. The impudence of that Omnivore!
He took note of how his tonfas looked, sunlight striking off the metal in a lovely scatter of beams. Huh. They hadn't been this shiny since he first got them. There was just something about the way they looked that reminded him of the way the blade of his father's tanto shone after it had been cleaned. Even if his mother preferred having her weapons darkened so as to not reflect light and give them away, Kyouya liked the sight of polished metal and was still instinctively captivated by shiny things like other children.
Maybe he wouldn't bite Sawada Tsunayoshi too hard. Just enough to admire the sheen of fresh blood on polished steel. After he pried out the secrets for polishing his tonfas like this. With that, he stepped out of the room and headed to the kitchen where sounds of clinking plates and sizzling meat emanated from. The smell of eggs and salted salmon wafted down the hall and he sniffed appreciatively. Tired as he had been the night before, Kyouya had still been pleasantly surprised at Tsunayoshi's skills in the kitchen. That hamburger steak had been the best that he had ever tasted.
"Good morning." The brunet tossed over his shoulder. "Breakfast will be ready in five minutes."
Any notion of biting Sawada Tsunayoshi to death for having the audacity to strip and tuck the boy into bed dissipated as Kyouya's stomach gave a distressingly embarrassing growl as soon as he entered the kitchen.
It was obvious that the young Hibari was quite embarrassed about the night before, but he still stayed for a traditional breakfast of rice, miso soup, and the multitude of side dishes that Tsuna cooked up. Tsunayoshi didn't so much as hint at what he had done and the boy was content to let it lie in favor of eating breakfast.
It was just as delicious as dinner and when the teen invited him back for lunch, there wasn't much hesitation at all. He could try challenging the teen later once he had managed to get settled in. Kyouya was even free to invite others as well as long as he gave Tsuna a heads up and the boy left with one of Tsuna's phone numbers.
If Sawada Tsunayoshi was planning to stay in this building, then Kyouya would need more than the basic supplies that he had been using at his apartment. He returned to the Hibari compound where he was met by Tetsuya and together they began to pack and plan out what would be necessary for an extended stay.
Stiffening, as the boy realized that he hadn't sensed the man that was now leaning against his bedroom door, Kyouya turned around.
Kyouya came back sooner than expected with guests. Kusakabe Tetsuya, who Tsuna was not surprised by, and a second cousin of his father. Tsuna could only stare out at the platinum blond man beside Kyouya with an inscrutable expression.
"This must be karma for all the times I took you by hand and led you straight to Giotto with a smile. Now it must be my turn to suffer retribution." He said in the most deadpan voice he could muster.
Standing just outside Tsuna's doorway was Alaude. He actually had a full name that almost no one ever called much less remembered him by and was simply known as Alaude. By the time Tsuna had learned it, it was too unfamiliar to use, so he just stuck with Alaude as well.
Kusakabe held himself still as Kyouya was looking between the both of them with a sort of incredulous suspicion. He settled for addressing the tallest person.
"You know this Omnivore?"
Alaude chuckled clearly finding both the title the boy had given the teen and the irony of the situation rather humorous.
"Yes. I've known him since he was baby. You could even say that we've grown up together. Hello Tsunayoshi. I've heard that there are several prides hunting for you right now."
"Hi Alaude. I'm sure you have. After all, you work with the most annoying lion of the whole lot." He stepped to the side with a sigh. "Well, you might as well come in. I'm making lunch right now. Any special requests? Or should I just go with a little of everything?"
"Anything is fine. You know my preferences and theirs," he settled a hand on his nephew's shoulder and gestured to Kusakabe "are a mix between Japanese and Western dishes."
Kyouya came in first, followed by Tetsu, then Alaude. He knew enough to understand the words were spoken in French, but the message was still vague and mysterious. If there was anything he hated, it was being kept in the dark and Sawada Tsunayoshi was practically swaddled with secrets. Secrets that everyone else seemed to know but had no real inclination to talk about.
Alaude ruffled Tsunayoshi's messy hair with an ease that told of long ingrained habit and the Omnivore let him. With an affectionate, if resigned, smile even.
Tetsuya's self-preservation instinct was kicked into high gear as he tried his best not to draw attention to himself in light of this surprising development. He didn't even dare to look directly at his leader, just watching the shorter boy from the corner of his eye.
Kyouya grit his teeth, trying not to start grinding them as he frowned, jealousy and curiosity sitting side by side in his stomach. Hibari Kyouya would get to the bottom of this even if he had to bite everyone to death to get there.
Even if he have to bite everyone to death, he swore.
Even if he had to bite Sawada Tsunayoshi himself.
Past Omake Theater: What Makes a Name
"We are going to wait until he is older to give him a name. It will be his decision to accept or reject it. If it is not to his liking, then we will try another and another until he responds to one."
The man before him remained calm even as he devoured the food before him with incredible speed.
"Fool! And what will everyone call him in the mean time? 'You'? 'Boy'? At least pick a name now and let him learn that. If it is truly so horrendous to him-as I am sure that he will find any name that you pick-he may change it himself when he grows older. This is just less troublesome now. Tsunayoshi! You agree with me right?"
The heavily pregnant woman at his side, eating at a much more sedate pace, turned to the little boy with expectant eyes.
"He will be a Hibari. It is a Hibari tradition for the next generation to choose their own name. And what is wrong with my choice of names you annoying woman? Tsunayoshi has no problems with them, do you Tsunayoshi?"
"Of course he doesn't. He's too forgiving for everything. Even for your bad sense. Ah. But that can't be helped can it. After all, the reason it is a Hibari tradition is because all of you recognize that your predecessors are prone to giving terrible names. At least Tsunayoshi has better taste than you." Here her red lips curled in a taunting smirk. "Don't you agree Meanie Mi-Nii?"
"Tch." Masumi narrowed his sharp blue eyes at her and with a movement that would have be too fast to comprehend for normal people, speared two slices of Tamagoyaki with his chopsticks and shoved them into his wife's mouth just as she opened it to speak again. The combined pieces just large enough to make an overly large bite that it would take her a few moments to chew and swallow. It would be a few moments of verbal peace from her end. "Quit talking and start chewing. You're eating for two now woman. Or did you forget?"
Jing-Yi's silvery eyes flashed in annoyance, but she could only do as he said as the mouthful was still too big for her to swallow. She still aimed a vicious kick at his shin which he dodged, but it was still very impressive considering her awkward angle and the fact that she was six months pregnant.
"..." Tsuna knew that the young couple was quite taken with Mama's cooking, but why did they always have to come over to eat when the Hibari clan's personal cooks knew how to make the same food as well?
The bickering pair across from him tended to be both distracting and detrimental to his concentration which he really needed to have to finish his homework. If he wasn't done in time, he wouldn't be able to go to the airport with everyone else to pick up Uncle Giotto and G. Oh and Papa too.
Mama was cooking up a storm in the kitchen in preparation for their guests and no one would be allowed in until she was done, but she had kindly made an early dinner for the Hibari couple who had stopped by to visit. They wouldn't be leaving until their current problem came to a resolution. Like always. And it would be up to Tsuna to come up with said resolution. Like always. At least until Jing-Yi's pregnancy was over and she was up to her usual fighting form. Then they could go back to their usual way of settling things, the same way all of Tsuna's extended family did. A no-holds all out brawl.
"Can't you find some way of compromising?"
At this, the couple, who had been in the middle of an enthusiastic chopstick fight, paused and looked at him with expectant eyes.
"Sorry Tsunayoshi." Jing-Yi apologized. "But we wouldn't be here if we could." At least, she looked sincerely sorry for troubling him.
Masumi put down his arm and turned his attention back to the food with a "Hn" but wouldn't meet his eyes.
Well that was alright. Mi-nii was always like this but he would make up for it to Tsuna in some other way.
Tsuna sighed. There went his homework time... He had so much too. There was no way he would have been able to finish even if the Hibaris hadn't paid them an impromptu visit. Math homework. History homework. Japanese home...That's it!
"Why don't each of you pick a character and combine it to make his name? He can still change it later on if he wants, but you'll at least have something to call him. Who know? He may even decide to keep it."
Husband and wife exchanged speculative glances. It was such a simple solution, but…
"That..." Jing Yi began
"...is acceptable." Masumi finished.
"Great! When we're done, you can both help me with my Japanese homework. That way, you can get some idea about what characters you want to use."
The Hibaris got their resolution and Tsuna got two temporary tutors to help him finish his homework in time for him to be able to go to the airport. Everybody wins!
At Tsuna's beaming face, smile so wide that his eyes were shut, Masumi and Jing-Yi traded wry, but fond smiles as they began eating again, this time in peace. Sawada Tsunayoshi may not have been the smartest child when it came to school work, but he was amazingly adept at dealing with everyone else's problems with the utmost of ease.
Of course things couldn't really be that easy. It would take them another year and seven months and at least a good hundred-fifty million yen worth of property damage before the characters that made Kyouya were chosen. But to a then ten year old Sawada Tsunayoshi, it was a miraculously cheap price considering the billions most of the people he knew could rack up in minutes single handedly.
Le gasp! Namimori has so many secrets and little Kyouya has no clue exactly how much even his own network hides from him or the fact that everyone is involved in some scheme or another over his head. He's terrifying and can definitely back it up, but he's also only NINE.
In this world, most Hibaris 20 and under are generally stubborn battle happy people and they start mellowing out around their late teens/mid-twenties. How much though varies from person to person.
Joffre cake-a chocolate buttermilk layer cake filled with chocolate ganache and frosted with chocolate buttercream
Yasushi is actually a big fanboy of Indiana Jones, but it's a secret known only to his immediate family and a few other select people. Him being Namimori's former Banchou is an open secret that is like the elephant in the room. In other words, everyone knows, but no one acknowledges it and thus never talks about it. This is why the younger generation has no idea.
Minor Fact-Italy's drinking age was raised from 16 to 18 in 2013 by the Health Minister Renato Balduzzi. However, for the sake of this story, it hasn't happened. Despite the drinking age in Japan being 20, younger people can walk in and buy them as sometimes they are sent by older people (parents, etc.) to do so. Also, some vending machines sell beer.
Dying Will Flames people! Flames still exist in this world. Aki is not in love with Tsuna, just psychologically dependent on his presence to feel safe outside of her house.
The pepper jelly recipe Tsuna used is the Paula Deen one. It should be the first result that shows up when you google pepper jelly. The cupcake creation was purely fanmade. I have no idea how this would taste if you actually made it though, but you're welcome to try it out yourself. Inspiration comes from the peanut butter and jelly cupcake, but the jelly is in the middle instead of on top.
NEET or neet-A young person who is "Not in Education, Employment, or Training".
Despite the fact that this story is going completely off track from my original plans, I don't feel so bad at all. Especially since the real heart of the story is actually the Past/Flashback Omakes which will most likely be making an appearance at the end of every chapter from now on.
Kyouya's father, Masumi, and mother, Jing-Yi, now have official minor, but fairly important roles in the future/flashbacks, especially Masumi. I hope this particular portrayal of Hibari's parents come off as ridiculous as the canon cast of KHR. Tsuna's nickname for Masumi is Mi-nii which was completely unintentional and innocent. Of course, everyone older than him who understands English finds it hilarious and Masumi only puts up with it from Tsuna because the Tsuna in this story can get away with almost anything.
Tsuna's friends/family will soon start popping up like unwanted moles in a garden(or Resetti in Animal Crossing). Kyouya will not be happy to find out that he's missed out on so much in his younger years. Why he's missed out on all the excitement will be revealed as well.