Summary: Dame-Tsuna, well, was dame. No matter what he did, he failed, except for one though, and that's his innate ability to make children like him. Even if the child was the son of the infamous, Hibari Kyoya.
Tsuna tried his hardest not to squeal in glee but as seconds ticked by, it was getting harder and harder. The only thing stopping him from glomping the adorable doll before him was the fierce glare directed at him by said doll. Seriously, who could resist such a charming sight?
Kai was dressed in lavender winter clothes complete with a padded coat, fluffy white earmuffs, a pair of cotton mittens, and a pair of boots. To sum it up, he looked too cute to resist. Who knew the ice prince was weak against ice and anything cold in general? A contradiction that very well suited Kai.
"Herbivore...give me a good reason why we're at a skating rink." Tsuna smiled, his eyes glimmering in joy and Kai could only stare blankly at his babysitter. The herbivore really was strange, not to mention childish. Kai had never seen an adult acting so immaturely before, that is, if he excludes those annoying pests his father worked with.
"It's for training, Kai-kun. I did promise you, didn't I?"
The truth was that this was the only place Tsuna could think of where he wouldn't burn to a crisp. It was currently mid-summer and Japan was known to have very high temperatures during summer. Being away for so long, his body had yet to adjust to Japan's extreme weathers.
Italy had been temperate and didn't reach the highs and lows that were known in his home country. He came back just two months ago, and adapting so quickly was close to impossible. With a quaint smile, he turned and glided around Kai, his body gracefully executing a spin.
"Besides, I've been told this was a good way of perfecting your balance, which you lack right now Kai-kun."
Tsuna smiled slightly when he saw his young charge frown. Well, it was true though. Every time Kai swung his tonfas, his body lurked forward too much—a leeway his enemies could use. The lapses between each strike were too long, and as young as he was now, it would be better to correct this disadvantage. The brunet could only wonder how Hibari corrected his form, for every strike was delivered precisely and powerfully and...he shook his head at this, this was not the time for him to think like that.
Tsuna clapped his hands, catching Kai's attention. He smiled, trying to placate the irritated child.
"Now then, shall we start?"
He offered one hand to the glaring child, only for his hand to be ignored. Tsuna shook his head, chuckling a bit as he watched Kai waddle to the center, slipping and falling, but never asking for help. A fond smile settled on his lips. This really might be the most interesting experience he's ever had in a long time. Another fall from the stubborn kid had him gliding towards Kai. Tsuna looked down at Kai, amusement shining in his eyes when his charge looked away from him, obviously irritated.
"Kai-kun, you will never learn how to skate if you continue being stubborn."
Kai crossed his little arms across his chest, and Tsuna tried not to squeal at the adorable picture he made. It was hard to believe that this young child was the same one who tried to attack him with pure brute force just a few days ago. Squatting down, Tsuna reached out and placed one hand on Kai's cheek. The child flinched, but didn't slap his hand away. The brunet took this as a sign to continue.
"Kai-kun, do you know the first step to get stronger?" Hibari's son turned to him, his eyes intent on him. Tsuna suppressed the urge to laugh at the childish glee and excitement brimming in those ice blue eyes. Instead, he removed his hand from Kai's face and settled both his hands on his bent knees.
"The first step is to acknowledge the fact that there will always be someone stronger than you." A frown quickly marred the cherubic face, but the serious expression on his babysitter's face stopped him from replying.
"There is always someone who would be better. One will win, the other will not." Tsuna continued, letting the child digest everything he was saying.
"Many others do not know that pride and arrogance are the main keys to defeat. Those who strive hard, do their best, and in turn become strong, but still remain humble, are the truly strong ones. Do you understand?" There was a contemplative look on Kai's face, eliciting a smile from his lips. Hibari's son really was endearing, and it still amazes him how the child could be so different yet so alike to his father.
Kai nodded after a moment's pause. "What are you trying to say, herbivore?"
Tsuna chuckled in response as he stood to his full height, carefully pulling the child with him. Tightening his grip on the child's hand, he smiled down at him.
"What I'm trying to say is right now I'm stronger than you, and it would be in your best interest if you relied on me until you can stand on your own two feet."
Kai scowled but didn't let go of the hand holding his. It was strange, really. He knew his babysitter was making fun of him, but not the way other people did. It didn't rub him wrong, and he was definitely not being underestimated. His scowl turned to a frown, his grip tightening around Tsuna's. If his babysitter noticed, he didn't comment and instead led them towards a corner to start their lesson. Kai glanced at the herbivore, that annoying smile still on his face. It really was...strange. It was cold and he hated this place, but why does his hand feel excessively warm?
They stopped at one side of the rink before his babysitter leaned down and stared at him. The usual smile on his face was gone, and Kai frowned in confusion.
"What?" Tsuna ruffled his hair, much to his annoyance but didn't move away from those gentle hands. Begrudgingly, he liked the feeling it gave him when his babysitter did that, but he would never ever tell him.
"I want to ask you, Kai-kun. Why do you fight?"
Without missing a beat, Kai answered. "To get stronger."
Tsuna frowned and shook his head.
"That's not it, Kai-kun. Tell me, is there anyone in this whole world you would like to protect?" Kai stared at the herbivore as if he had grown another head. Someone to protect? Looking down at his feet, his mind searched for anyone who would fit the criteria. A familiar face crossed his mind.
"Father." It was uttered softly, the respect and awe he felt towards his father were clear in his voice. Tsuna softly patted the child's head before placing the same hand over Kai's chest.
"Don't forget that, Kai-kun. That is the reason people become really strong. When the time comes, I'm sure you'll become the strongest person I would ever know." Kai gasped softly before looking up at his babysitter. Is that true? He searched the brunet's eyes for any lies and flattery but he found none. What he saw in those irises were understanding, warmth, and something else he couldn't pinpoint. He turned away. No one else has ever told him that. Why?
"Don't lie." Tsuna chuckled as he stood. He patted Kai's head once again.
"Kai-kun, sometimes, it's ok to believe in people." Believe in me. Kai stared at the ice rink beneath his feet. He was feeling strange again. What was he feeling exactly? There was a tug from his hand and they were gliding together again. He looked up and stared at the herbivore's face. Maybe, just this once...
"Ok." It was barely audible but Tsuna heard it all the same. His heart swelled with fondness for a moment, and he suppressed the urge to hug the child once again. Instead, he grinned at Kai in response, and then, everything seemed alright again. He'll just have to ignore that nagging feeling at the back of his head. Everything was alright for now.
"You have a lot of explaining to do, dame-Tsuna." Reborn fingered the gun in his hand and Tsuna stepped back.
"Hieeeee!" Reborn fixed him with a stare, a stare he knew all too well and he was come undone.
"I can explain! It's just you were busy and I didn't want to disturb you and I—it's not that I was hiding anything, I swear! I mean there's nothing to hide haha! The job isn't hard and it looks like I'll be able to keep this one for a long time, and then there would be no burning and I wouldn't be so useless anymore and I—"
"Dame-Tsuna." He stopped abruptly, realizing he was babbling. He tended to do that when he was nervous. The brunet sighed, groaning in his head. What was he thinking? He could never lie to this man. Not ever.
"Are you done?" Tsuna took a deep breath before flopping on the couch.
"Good. Because right now, you will tell me everything, and this time." Reborn paused, his eyes boring into his. "This time, you will not hide anything."
Tsuna felt bile rise in his throat. He never did like it when his former tutor was angry. Sure, Reborn was impatient and found him annoying most of the time, but he rarely gets mad at him. The only times he did were when Tsuna hides things from him, just like now. With another sigh, he told him everything. From his job to Kai, and things worth mentioning, Tsuna reiterated every detail.
It was silent when he was done telling his tale. Reborn only regarded him coolly underneath his fedora hat. The gun he was holding a while ago now gone, and a cup of espresso now occupied his hand. There was a clink of porcelain and Tsuna flinched.
"Time is not a luxury you have, dame-Tsuna." He stared at the clenched fists on his lap. With a tired smile, he answered.
"I know." Reborn was analysing him, he could feel it, but it was the truth. He had nothing more to hide. His former tutor knew everything.
"This is your call, dame-Tsuna. I will not intervene, even when it becomes too late. This will be your punishment for lying to me." There was cruelty in his words, and the way he uttered his ultimatum made him feel helpless and small. Painfully, he closed his eyes.
"I understand." Reborn walked past him and Tsuna knew his business with him was done.
"Reborn." He heard him stop but didn't turn around.
"Thank you." Tsuna was only greeted with the sound of his door closing.
Hibari Kyouya was and will always be the picture perfect aristocratic, and traditional Japanese man. From his fondness for tea to his formal and stiff ways, Hibari exuded an aura long forgotten by the modern folks of today. However, like all humans, even the seemingly 'perfect' always had their less than redeeming qualities. Like his superior's incessant need to call everyone else 'herbivore', as well as his infamous acts of violence.
It was quite obvious that Hibari was as cunning as he was destructive. It led to many complications in his part, just like now. Kusakabe sighed, tiredly sweeping his eyes across the room. His boss, it seemed, was in a very foul mood again, meaning their employees would be too frightened to actually do anything productive.
His usual fail safe plan of dumping paperwork on his superior's desk had for the first time in his life, failed. It was supposed to save him multiple more times before it goes kaput, unfortunately, Kusakabe miscalculated one tiny detail. Hibari Kyouya is always one step ahead; thus, his seemingly never-ending workload vanished within just a week. If there was one thing he still wasn't used to when it comes to the person he respected most, it was Hibari's uncanny ability to accomplish the impossible with flying colors.
He swore he had set a whole month's load of paperwork on his desk a week ago. Kusakabe frowned. This was definitely not looking good. With the constant meetings with their other contracted companies, things were bound to go awry. It would definitely lead to more resignation letters on his desk.
And frankly, as much as their company was at the top of their game, no employees meant no company at all. He groaned into his crossed arms, his body hunched forward, as he prayed internally for a miracle. Damn it all. What he needs right now is the strongest liquor Japan could offer. On second thought, that wouldn't his best idea. Aside from vulpine females, Hibari detested intoxicated men. Double damn.
There was a mild vibration in his breast pocket, and he absent-mindedly took his cell out of its confines. The screen's light pierced through his tired eyes but he quickly read through the message's contents. His cell closed with a snap, and he took a moment to digest what he read. His eyes quickly snapped to attention. How stupid could he be? It was just brilliant! If his superior was so far ahead why should he stay here longer? A small smile formed on his face. With a crooked grin, he dialled an all-too familiar number.
Hibari stared at the sight before him, his eyes already narrowed into his customary glare. The imbecilic people he was, unfortunately, working with have yet to decide on the floor plan for their next project. It was supposed to be a meeting that would compose of the technical aspects of the building featuring all their market products, as well as their intel network, but mostly, they were trying to build a hotel.
A hotel which would feature the finest fishes Japan could offer along with some through an aquarium, paintings from local artistes, as well as aspiring ones through a museum, and many others. It was a project that would cater to the flocks of tourists that Namimori have been receiving for the past decade, and as business tycoons, they intend to make full use of this opportunity. Well, that was the initial plan. Now, he didn't have the slightest clue as to what they're babbling about. It took all his will, and patience, not to try and beat them senseless for wasting precious time, his time for that matter.
"You idiot! Baseball commercials won't appeal to the mass media!"
"Haha. There's always a baseball fanatic in a crowd, you shouldn't judge so quickly."
"Kufufu. I believe that's the most ridiculous plan you have ever thought of. It's quite disappointing, Takeshi-kun."
"Well, it isn't much but maybe a different approach would be more appropriate, and I believe it's a matter of perspective." Byakuran muttered indulgently, his fingers busy shuffling inside a pack of marshmallows.
Gokudera scoffed and crossed his arms, his glare not softening in the slightest. "Perspective, my ass. It's plain stupid if you ask me." Byakuran sent him a smile, not the least bit offended.
"And I believe, I wasn't asking you, untamed barbaric cat." Gokudera bristled and stood quickly, his hands slamming on the table with force that rattled all their teacups.
"What did you say, you bastard!" Dino sighed as he watched the interaction with bored eyes. It was the same routine, and truth be told, he was getting tired of it. A quick glance to his left and he knew he had to intervene, and quite soon as well. Those ticks on Kyoya's forehead were getting quite twitchy for the past few minutes.
"Maa maa, why don't we get back on track, I believe it was the floor plan?" Dino asked tentatively. They quickly turned his attention to him, making him stiffen in his seat. After what seemed eternity, they all settled back on their seats, and the bucking horse resisted to sigh in relief. Really, what did he do in his past life to be stuck with these immature brats?
And as if a switch had been turned on, Gokudera's composure was back, his glasses perched on the bridge of his nose, his hair tied back, and his body screaming 'professional' in every angle.
"The architect wanted the aquarium at the base, while the museum would be at the third floor, the dining at the fifth, the finest suites at the upper floors, and the featured products somewhere in the middle. The decision for the floor plans is still up for debate though since we only managed to settle for other necessities such as the tiles." A page was flipped and all others followed suit, reading the report on their hands in silence. Gookudera continued.
"They said the marble tiles would suit the interior for the main lobby, but the ceramic tiles imported from China would be more durable than the ones sent in from Thailand. The jade paint from our main supplier would be the main color for the posts along the tunneled aquarium."
"The designs for the reception rooms would be themed as 'ikebana' just like Hibari suggested. From our surveys, it appealed nicely with both men and women. An emergency floor would be set-up as well since we're selling some of the units to other stock holders; therefore, there are a few who would take up permanent residence in our hotel. Generally, the whole layout of this hotel is the rough sketch at the last page of the report. Other suggestions are now up for discussion." Gokudera closed the folder gingerly, before looking up waiting in silence as the others finished reading the files he distributed a while ago.
It was Dino who spoke first, his eyes scanning the pages with ease. "Hmm, where would the penthouse be situated? The aerial garden would take the uppermost floor, I believe. The pool and recreational facilities as well."
Byakuran popped a marshmallow in his mouth before closing his folder. "The floor plan didn't include those yet, am I right prissy cat?" A vein on his forehead throbbed but Gokudera didn't take the bait.
"Hibari wanted to hold off the planning for the aerial garden, as well as all other intricate designs of the building." They simultaneously stared at the president of Cloud Inc. and Hibari tried not to roll his eyes in exasperation.
"Hibari Kai will be in charge of the planning for the aerial garden. I will not argue his case for even you herbivores know that in comparison to my son, all others are morons." Ah, Hibari is as lovable as always. Mukuro chuckled, amusement coloring his voice as he leaned his head on his hand.
"True, the little monster is an annoying brat, but brilliant at times." Hibari's hand twitched. He'll bite that pesky mosquito to death one of these days.
"Maa maa, Kai's a genius but really is it true he has a permanent babysitter now?" Yamamoto was genuinely curious. He had heard Gokudera grumbling about it one time and he seriously wanted to meet the person who could put a lid on that destructive child.
"Yes, and he's my little brother! Sawada Tsunayoshi! You guys should meet him one of these days. He's—" Yamamoto already tuned Dino out when he uttered that name. It's been ten years since then, and frankly, the kid was never impressionable to begin with. He was weak, pathetic, and scrawny. And now to know that he of all people could tame Hibari's child of all people...he must be wrong in his assumption then.
"Little brother? You're an only child, bronco." Gokudera scoffed and leaned back on his chair. To be honest, he seriously doubted this Sawada character now. He hated him to the core back in middle school. Who could be that pathetic? It grated on his nerves whenever he saw him.
"I'm quite interested in this babysitter, Kyoya-kun. Who is he?" Byakuran stared at him, and Hibari really tried not to smash the fox's face with a tonfa. He could almost hear the manipulative gears working behind that stupid mask. Instead, he closed his folder and stood up.
"None of your business. I believe this meeting is adjourned, leave the premises or I will bite all of you to death." Hibari gave them a heated glare just for good measure before swiftly leaving the room. Silence lasted for only a second before Mukuro's amused laughter was heard.
"My my, you sure love getting on his nerves, bronco." Dino grinned, his eyes sparkling in mischief.
"You have no idea, Mukuro-kun."
They were at a nearby park, and for Tsuna, it felt like bliss to feel the afternoon wind caressing his face. It had been an interesting experience to see the usual uptight child flustered and sulky. It had taken them two full hours before Kai was able to skate on his own. His pride was hit somewhere in between, because it took him a week before he could glide so flawlessly like Kai did. That boy really was a naturally gifted child. Like father, like son, ey?
Tsuna sighed and stole a glance at his ward who was happily eating the ice cream he had bought for him. A smile tilted the edge of his lips. It was amusing to see him trying not to show how pleased he was with the cold sweet. So the ice prince has a sweet tooth. Maybe, he got it from his mother. A sudden stray thought had him wondering.
"Ne Kai-kun. If you don't mind me asking..." Tsuna hesitated and Kai raised an eyebrow in question. Now, he didn't get to see his babysitter hesitating often.
"Herbivore, spit it out." Kai ordered and Tsuna tried not to flinch. Seriously, how can a child of six be intimidating while eating strawberry ice cream? Great, I'm being forced to submission by a child. The brunet sighed.
"I just wanted to know where your mother is." Kai didn't react the way he expected him to. Tsuna expected his ward to glare and ignore him, instead, Kai's face was blank. The brunet didn't miss, however, the darkening of those silver blue eyes. Now, he felt guilty for asking.
"That woman is useless, and wretched." Tsuna's eyes were fixed on the dog playing around. He turned to Kai and found the grip he had on his ice cream was enough to crush the cone.
"Do you hate her?"
Kai stared at his babysitter, wondering why he wasn't asking him why he thought of his mother that way. Instead, he found him staring into the distance, just like that other time in his school. His hag babysitters from before always demanded to know where his mother was, who she is, why they were left to babysit someone like him.
He always ignored them, but sometimes, it hurts. No matter how much he blocked them from his head, it always does. But this herbivore wasn't asking him anything, wasn't demanding answers, and not judging him. He felt his hands trembling when he answered.
"No. I won't waste my time hating someone worthless." Tsuna closed his eyes, his heart painfully squeezed hearing such cruel words. He didn't know what the circumstances are, but he won't pry. He's not in a position to do so. The poor ice cream was now a puddle of goo in Kai's hands and wordlessly, he pulled out his handkerchief and wiped off the mess.
"Kai...thank you for telling me." Kai looked up, only to be greeted with that same smile that made him feel strange and restless. It wasn't unpleasant, but it left him confused, and he didn't like being confused.
With the child's hands cleaned, Tsuna moved back, regarding the child with a thoughtful look. Kai became strangely subdued after that. A wry smile formed on his lips. Who wouldn't be uncomfortable after a confession like that? To view the person who gave birth to you in that way...he couldn't imagine feeling that way towards his mother.
His heart clenched painfully again, and without hesitation, he pulled the child snuggly in his arms. Right now, he felt really really sad and he didn't know why. He felt the child struggle but stopped abruptly. Tsuna felt a smile tug at his lips though he was feeling like crap. Kai must be unused to affectionate gesture like this. That will change soon enough.
"Kai-kun, you really are too adorable." Kai frowned, awkwardly still in the embrace.
"I really hate you, herbivore."
Tsuna laughed softly. "I know."
To be continued...