Catís Cradle


by nekojita


Hibari set the flash drive in the middle of the large, carved oak desk as he stared at Sawada Tsunayoshi. "The Giordanoís records," he told the younger man while staring intently, aware of every emotion that crossed that always too expressive face. "Iíll be there for the fighting."

Sawada let out a hitched breath at the mention of Ďfightingí, but he showed no other signs of weakness, of being that bleating, grass-fed animal that made Hibariís fists ache to pound into until it stilled forever. Instead, he regained his composure and nodded. "If this confirms what we suspect, then Iím afraid Iíll need all of your strengths to ensure that they donít cause any more damage."

Hibari sneered at the thought of having to rely on the other Guardians for such a simple fight as he stepped back, now bored as he had failed to provoke any interesting response from Sawada. "Make sure they stay out of my way."

Standing behind Sawada like the faithful lackey he was, Gokudera seemed to find his voice as he rushed forward to slam his hands onto the deskís top. "Listen, you annoying bastard! Youíll-"

"Hayato, donít! Hibari went through a lot of trouble to get us-"

Hibari didnít wait to listen to the senseless squabble, he turned around and left the room and the idiots inside of it. As he walked away, he pulled out his cell phone to check for any note-worthy messages, tabbing through several updates on outstanding Foundation projects and a status report from Kusakabe. Toward the bottom was a text from Yamamoto, a bit of nonsense about the man being bored without having a playmate around. He was about to delete the foolish thing when he heard his name be called out, causing him to halt and look up from his phone.

"I thought you might actually be doing something worthwhile," he told Reborn with a flash of teeth as he put away his phone. "Instead of babysitting as usual."

Reborn returned the Ďsmileí with the same amount of mocking antagonism. "And miss out on a visit from one of my favorite students?" He chuckled in earnest at Hibariís glare and motioned for them to step outside through a set of French doors that led out to one of the mansionís many gardens. "Especially when your visits are always so tranquil."

"What, did they go running to you about how mean I was?" Hibari asked with evident scorn.

"No, more like I could hear Gokudera from down the hall and figured out that the Ďrude, psychotic assholeí he was screaming about must be you." Rebornís smile took on a nasty edge as he tilted back his hat. "Ah yes, itís always such fun when you come by."

"Hmph." Hibari crossed his arms over his chest and wondered if there was a point to this. "Theyíre still a bunch of noisy sheep, even if Sawada hasnít gotten himself killed yet." Only the fact that the man continued to show those signs of strength and had managed to make the mafia world come to respect him rendered him somewhat tolerable to deal with all these years. That and he attracted strong adversaries as well as strong allies, which made it just bearable to continue with the Vongolaís Ďassociationí. Hibari stared out past the well-tended Western-style garden and sniffed in disappointment, eager to return Japan and his own base in Namimori after being away for several weeks. Even after so many visits to this country, he had yet to find anything to truly appreciate about Italy beyond the temporary amusement happened upon in violence.

Reborn leaned against one of the gardenís many stone walls and chuckled, the sound a warning that he had latched onto some new object to toy with. "One canít exactly say that itís from a lack of trying, but heís always been remarkably resilient. That hasnít changed over the years." He picked up a ball of twine that had been left out on the wall, along with some wooden stakes and a pair of pruning shears, and began unraveling the string. A folding knife appeared as if from nowhere, and even Hibariís acute vision failed to note where the older assassin had kept the blade hidden. Reborn gave him a quick, sharp-edged smirk as he cut off a length of string and made the knife vanish as swiftly as it appeared.

"No, Iíve observed all of you over the years and havenít been that surprised by what youíve becomeÖ except for you," he remarked as he twisted the string about. "Iíve been disappointed lately."

Angered by the reproach he heard in Rebornís voice, Hibari glared as he stepped forward with tonfa in his hands. "If you think Iím weak, letís test it now," he spat. For years he had been promised the chance to fight this man, had gone along with so much for the respect he held for another predator, and now it came to this. He would make Reborn choke on that Ďdisappointmentí as well as his own blood.

Yet he barely slid his left foot forward before the string was tossed over his right tonfa and Reborn jumped back with an amused laugh. "Ah, hot-blooded as always. Nice to see that some things never do change." He pulled out his gun as he spoke and leveled it at Hibari. "I never said you were weak, just that you disappointed me. Now, will we continue this as semi-reasonable adults or are we going to destroy the garden and be lectured for the next year about it, hmm?"

Unfazed by the weapon pointed at him, Hibari considered the noose dangling from his weapon instead and the infuriating manís intentions. "You owe me a fight."

"Yes, I do. But itíll be much more fun if itís someplace where we can let go without worrying about Kyoko crying about her roses and Tsuna trying to stop us when itís just getting interesting." Reborn grinned with the Faustian pride of knowing when he had an argument too good to be turned down. "Later, I promise."

"I keep waiting for that Ďlaterí," Hibari grumbled, but he tucked away the tonfa in his left hand and retrieved the miniature noose before doing the same with the other one. He scoffed as he held up the bit of string to show what he thought of Rebornís threat, if that was what it was. "Am I supposed to be shamed to death by your disappointment?" he asked in as much of a scathing manner as possible.

Reborn scoffed in return as he answered, all traces of humor gone from his expression despite the slight mockery. "Please, as if you give a damn about what anyone thinks about you. Youíll do whatever you want." He paused as he watched Hibari undo the noose and tie the two ends together to form a circle. "Thereís probably little sense in me even talking to you."

"Yes, so why bother?" Hibari slid the string along his fingers, falling into a game he hadnít played in years as something to do while he waited for the older man to get to whatever point he was going to make; Reborn might say there was little sense in talking, but he wouldnít waste the time and effort like this unless he *had* something to say. "You know what Iíll do in the end." He held up his hands to show the design of straight lines that he had made in the string, and bared his teeth over what could be implied with those Ďchopsticksí.

Reborn was quiet for a few seconds, and to Hibariís surprise moved closer and reached out to gather and twist the string. He frowned and let his hands relax to allow the man some control, cautious of any attempt to bind him yet curious all the same, and then hissed in anger when he saw the new design revealed. Now smirking, Reborn stepped back and motioned to the Ďhorseís eyeí that Hibari was holding. "You certainly didnít care about what he wanted, did you?"

Jerking his hands apart until the string snapped, Hibari balled them into fists but forced them to his sides as he glared at Reborn. "Thatís between me and him." Why was he bringing up something that had ended years ago?

"Yes, and I stayed out of that as it never affected the Family. Now youíre involved with Yamamoto, but this time youíre playing games." Again, the smile vanished, replaced by a coldness that Reborn rarely showed to people whom he considered allies. "Thatís not worthy of either of you."

"I think that curse has spoiled your brain," Hibari announced after several seconds. "I sleep with the man, nothing more." He forced his hands to unclench and brushed at the bangs falling onto his face. "I fail to see the attraction that my sex life holds for you people."

A faint hint of a smile curved Rebornís lips. "You do pick such interesting partners." The expression took on a mean edge, the emotion glimmering in Rebornís dark eyes as he leaned against the wall. "Normally Iíd say that you have good taste, butÖ." He didnít flinch as a tonfa slammed into a wall a hairís breadth from his left arm, but he did stop smiling.

"What is that supposed to mean?" Hibari enunciated each word as he demanded an answer, body thrumming with the urge to beat it out of the other man. Only the fact that it was Reborn kept him from following through with that desire.

"I think youíve spent a little too much time with *him*, as youíve never played games before. Theyíve always been his thing, after all." Reborn moved slowly as he brushed aside the bits of stone and dust that clung to his black suit. "Youíre picking up bad habits, Hibari, which isnít like you. Usually youíre too stubborn to change your ways." He actually sounded troubled by the last part.

It was Hibariís turn to scoff. "As if you care." If Reborn was alluding to Mukuro, then the bastard had some idea of what had been going on. That he hadnít done a thing meant that, as usual, he would remain uninvolved unless it affected Sawada.

Reborn paused in adjusting his hat. "I donít like to see Yamamoto caught up in childish games, especially when he doesnít know the rules. Itís not worthy of him *or* you."

That statement and the flat manner in which it had been spoken made Hibari fall silent and consider what had been saidÖ and left implied. Sawada, as head of the Vongola, was Rebornís main concern. Yet Yamamoto had always been a special interest of sort to the assassin. Reborn had spent time with the swordsman and revealed to him things that he never had to the rest of them, even Sawada. So perhaps it wasnít so unrealistic to think that he would have some concern now, even over something so ridiculous as sex.

"Whatís not worthy is a bunch of idiots being so concerned over what is basically two consenting adults having sex on a regular basis," Hibari pointed out with heavy scorn as he reached for his phone. "Thatís all it is to the *both* of us. Now, unless you care to arrange a time and place for that promised fight, Iíve much more important matters that require my attention." He regarded Reborn with a cold look while the assassin smiled and shook his head.

"Soon. Right now I have to go over that information you were so kind to provide for us." He tipped his hat in Hibariís direction before pushing away from the wall and heading back into the mansion. Hibari watched him leave for several seconds before looking back at his phone and the new messages, a frown on his lips as he thought about the ridiculous conversation and vague threats. More than anything, he was annoyed at the assumption that people had some right to control his life, to observe it and tell him how to live it. His anger rose as he stalked through the garden to where his car waited for him, and the fact that he was uncertain about who deserved that emotion the most Ė Reborn, Mukuro or Yamamoto Ė made him even more furious.


Hibari stood out on the street and stared at the apartment in front of him, at the light shining through glass panes to filter through the nightís darkness, at the figure that moved through the rooms beyond the glass. A few strides would put him up the steps and through the door that was always left unlocked while Yamamoto was awake and home, a foolish gesture in this foreign country with so many enemies that still didnít respect the Vongola name. Who looked down on them for not being Italian, for being so young, for Ďfollowingí a boss who avoided bloodshed whenever possible and had an Ďunpronounceableí name and numerous other reasons that bored Hibari to death and proved his point that almost all of the people in this country were only worth the time it took to reduce them to broken sacks of flesh. How Dino ever hadÖ well, there was Rebornís influence, he supposed. Even that had only gone so far in the end.

He had things to do, a long list demanding his attention, a home that drew him back with a growing longing each time he heard a foreign word uttered, suffered a miserable attempt at his native cuisine and spent the night away from a place that he considered *his*. The world had grown outside of Namimori, but he still truly only felt at peace there, resting in his quarters whenever time allowed. So why had he been drawn here?

As if to answer his thoughts, Hibird shifted on his left shoulder and fluttered its wings. "Takeshi?" it asked, a quiet goad to move him forward. He frowned as he gently brushed the bird away and watched as it flew toward the sky, calling out Yamamotoís name several times as it spiraled upward.

Not about to waste any more time, he crossed the distance between him and the front door, unconcerned about the courtesy of knocking as he opened it and stepped inside. If the fool decided to leave it unlocked, then he could deal with unexpected guests. Besides, all of the annoying texts he had sent could be considered invites of sorts.

Hibari had just removed his coat when Yamamoto had burst into the living room, the sleeves of his white dress shirt rolled up, his hands damp but his arms still wet and covered with soap suds as he held his sword at ready. He stared in shock for several seconds while Hibari arched an eyebrow and held up one of his tonfa. "I thought we werenít supposed to fight in here," Hibari remarked, half-hoping that Yamamoto would forget his rule.

Yamamoto stared for a few more seconds before laughing, and unfortunately put down his sword. "Good evening!" He finished drying his hands on his pants as he approached and reached out to slowly push the tonfa aside as he leaned in for a kiss. "You didnít say that you were stopping by," he murmured against Hibariís lips before pulling away.

"Do I have to?" Not that Hibari really cared, but the answer might be interesting.

"Hmm, well, itíll keep me on my toes." As always, Yamamoto answered with a grin, rarely one to be serious when his sword was across the room. Not for the first time, Hibari wondered why he was here, why he didnít just hit the idiot in the head with a tonfa and walk away, and then Yamamoto did something, an arm around his waist and a foot against his right instep followed by a sudden twist that had him sprawled on top of Yamamoto and them both on the couch. He glared as he pushed against Yamamotoís chest, only to be yanked back down a moment later and kissed again.

For a moment he debated biting the lips that pressed against his, and then thought about the way he had been so smoothly pulled into his loverís arms and decided to be gracious enough to give in. As always, Yamamoto surprised him when he least expected it, showed him a flash of brilliance that captivated him whenever he was about to leave. He rested against Yamamoto, allowing his weight to pin the swordsman against the couch as he was pulled closer.

All he did was give a warning nibble to Yamamotoís bottom lip before parting his own, as he had come here with the intent to enjoy himself. As always, Yamamoto pressed forward, eager to take advantage of any opening, tongue slipping past Hibariís lips and hands pulling at his shirt, sliding beneath the fabric and along his skin. The man was insidious like that, now that he knew that Hibari hadnít any reserves in regards to their physical relationship. He seemed to take Hibari allowing him within armís reach without any attempts at assault as a sign that his advances were welcome, and for the most part that was true. Hibari had no problem correcting that assumption if it was wrong, but for nowÖ.

For now it felt good, the warmth of those callused palms along his sides and back, one hand slowly brushing its way up his spine until he wanted to shiver in reaction. And the talkative bastard could certainly kiss, tongue sliding along his and a hint of teeth against his lips, as he liked. When he pulled away to slide his tonfa free and set them safely aside, Yamamoto trailed a series of nibbling kisses to the base of his left ear, to *just* that spot and he shuddered, barely, in response.

He yanked hard at his loverís white shirt in retaliation as Yamamoto chuckled in satisfaction, a hint of a smile forming on his lips as a couple of buttons flew off as a result. "Hey, this was my last clean shirt. Iím gonna be showing up for work tomorrow in a t-shirt now," Yamamoto complained, sounding rather cheerful as he took care in undoing Hibariís buttons.

"As if itís my fault youíre lazy." Hibari pushed the shirt aside and tugged at the white tank that was beneath it, glaring at the layers of clothing in his annoyance. *This* was why he much preferred wearing yukata when at Ďhomeí Ė wherever that happened to be these days Ė as it made a multitude of things much easier.

Yamamoto laughed as he shifted forward to shrug off his shirt and remove the tank top. "You did your best to be a stellar example to all of us over the years, but I guess I was too hopeless a case." His smile took on a hungry edge as Hibari slipped off his shirt and tossed it onto the table behind him. "I prefer to save my energy for more important things," he said, his voice now deeper as his hand traced its way down Hibariís spine to settle on his ass.

"Perhaps I should have hit you in the head more often back in school," Hibari remarked with bared teeth. "Then you might have actually learned something."

There was more laughter, followed by a passionate kiss. "I donít know, I think Iím a pretty lost cause. But maybe you can try some positive reinforcement since itís clear the negative didnít work real well," Yamamoto murmured a few minutes later when he leaned back just enough to show his waggling eyebrows. He laughed some more, the sound a little pained, when Hibari responded by biting his bottom lip hard enough to bruise.

"Then again, thatís okay, I sorta like the negative by now. Bite me some more."

This time Hibari punched the idiot in the ribs and glared while Yamamoto coughed a few times in pain, yet his look was met with one that clearly said Ďwhatís wrong?í and a faint smile. "And *Iím* the one who got talked down to," he grumbled as he grabbed hold of Yamamotoís short hair and pulled him into another kiss, growing impatient with all the useless talk when he was here for something else.

So of course the stubborn man just had to babble on some more. "Who talked down to you?" Yamamoto asked with a wince as he pulled away a little, having caught what had been said after all. "Certainly not Tsuna, right?" He chuckled a little as if at the thought of how well *that* conversation would go. "Was it Reborn?" he asked in a quieter tone as he tucked aside the hair falling onto Hibariís face.

Not liking how close to the matter that question hit, even if the insight behind it was part of the reason why he tolerated Yamamoto, was why he was here, Hibari frowned and gave a harsh yank on the hair he still held tight between his fingers. "Itís none of your concern," he answered with a finality that indicated how thin his patience was in regards to the topic.

Yamamoto opened his mouth and then closed it, his eyes intent on Hibari for a few seconds before he made to speak again. "You know how he is. Things have been too peaceful lately so he probably wanted to rile you up a little to see if you did anything fun." He slid his arms around Hibariís waist and pulled him a little closer as he leaned in to nuzzle his neck. "So, is there a still a headquarters to me go-"

Hibari cut off the lame attempt at a humorous question by yanking on the handful of hair, forcing Yamamoto to look at him with a stifled curse. "I donít like games," he all but hissed in anger, for a moment tempted to lash out until something broke. Only the calmness in the brown eyes that stared at him, the steady, firm pressure in the arm around his waist kept him still, kept the violence in check. They were reminders that here was a very rare balance to that fury, something that could meet it head on and not crumple beneath it Ė at least not for a while, maybe not even until the emotion and his strength was spent. He wouldnít waste the joy of a true fight, of finding an equal on such an unworthy battle, a childish pique.

"I donít come *here* to play games," he admitted, still stung more than he cared to admit by Rebornís accusations and the fact that he had come here when there were so many other things he should be doing. Yet staying away had seemed a victory to *them*, the two meddling bastards, and he refused to let anyone control his actions.

Yamamoto was quiet for a couple of seconds, as if trying to make sense out of what had been said, and then broke into an idiotic grin as his right hand reached for the buckle of Hibariís belt. "Eh, so I guess thereís no chance of strip poker then?"

That was it; Hibari punched the asshole in the stomach before rising from his lap, ignoring the cry of pain from his lover as he reached for his scattered clothes and tonfa. He just touched the weapons when his right wrist was grabbed and jerked upward, Yamamoto quick to block the punch to his ribs and mostly deflect the kick to his left side.

"Look, Iím sorry, okay!" the swordsman yelled as he yanked Hibari in to a tight hug to pin his arms to his chest. "It was a lousy joke." He let out a deep breath and rested his forehead against Hibariís. "I justÖ I donít know what else to say to you at times," he admitted in a quiet manner.

"Better to be silent than a babbling idiot," Hibari told the fool as he kicked him in the shin to help get his point across.

Warm air fanned across his face as his lover laughed. "Yeah, but then weíd never talk. At least me putting my foot in my mouth from time to time lets you feel all superior." Yamamoto leaned back a little and took in Hibariís slight smile. "Okay, even *more* superior."

Hibari grunted in agreement. "Now would be one of those Ďsilentí times," he told the idiot as he moved in for a kiss. Yamamoto was a quick learner, as always, and finally shut up in favor of something much more enjoyable than useless chatter.

As they kissed, Hibari pushed on his loverís shoulders until the man got the hint and started walking backward toward the bedroom. Despite the slight difference in their heights and the shedding of their remaining clothes, they made it to the room without too much difficulty. Yamamoto appeared to want to make some sort of comment about that fact once they neared that bed, a proud and rather foolish grin on his face, yet just laughed when Hibari gave him a dirty look. He fell back onto the bed and pulled Hibari down with him.

Making sure to be the one on top, Hibari straddled the manís thighs and dug his fingers into the firm muscles of Yamamotoís chest, smirking at the way they flexed beneath his nails before he dragged his fingers downward, leaving thin red welts behind that faded to nothing as he neared his loverís hips. Finished with his payback for the marks that had been left on his upper neck the last time he had spent a night with his lover, he allowed himself to be tugged forward into a kiss by an arm wrapped around his shoulders.

For all of the indolent attitude he showed the world most of the time, Yamamoto put the same amount of care and focus into sex that he did in fighting; he rarely appeared to be trying too hard, but he matched Hibari move for move and easily for intensity, pulling him in until all he wanted was everything the swordsman could give him in return. It wasÖ unusual, having a lover with whom he could let go and yet not expect things to be taken too far. He still wasnít sure if that sense of restraint in Yamamoto was a good thing or not, but it was refreshing to put an end to the needless kink and games.

He slid his fingers into Yamamotoís hair as he moved forward, more onto the younger manís lap until their hardened cocks rubbed together. Yamamoto moaned in response, his arms tightening around Hibariís back and waist for a moment before letting him go, one of his hands quickly wrapping around both their cocks to begin pumping up and down in a slow, twisting motion. Hibari closed his eyes at the new sensation, his fingers tensing amongst the short strands and his teeth scraping along Yamamotoís bottom lip in silent appreciation of the pleasure that shuddered through him with each caress.

His loverís warm mouth moved along his jaw, the faint rasp of stubble along the sensitive skin of his neck an annoying tickle that made him frown until Yamamoto pressed a kiss to the spot below his left ear. He let out a languid breath at the new spark of pleasure, his body beginning to relax against the solid heat in front of him and his hips rocking slowly. The plastic Ďclickí of a lid being flipped open barely made him twitch, all he did was drag a warning rake of the nails along Yamamotoís spine when the idiot took to sucking too long on his neck.

"That tickles," Yamamoto murmured near Hibariís ear and then pressed slick fingers against him, gentle at first until he shifted forward a little and up onto his knees.

"Leave another mark and youíll be without a spine," Hibari warned, not amused by such pathetic displays of affection.

"But then how would I be able to this," Yamamoto asked with a seemingly innocent smile on his face as he leaned back a little, one of his fingers sliding inside of Hibari and curling slightly. "Iím much-" He must have gotten the gist of the glare directed his way since he shut up and grinned. "Okay," he offered before initiating another kiss.

Hibari caught the tongue that slipped past his lips between his teeth and bit down for a few seconds in a silent reprimand, only letting go when another finger pushed inside of him. Ah well, the idiot did have some good points, he reminded himself as he rocked his hips back.

He broke off the kiss when the fingers twisted inside of him, the pleasure spiking along his nerves as if determined to consume them. Wanting more of that overwhelming sensation, he grunted out Yamamotoís name as he pushed his lover down on the bed, impatient with the slow pace. Nothing that the man did could break him, especially when it was something that he wanted in the first place.

Emitting that senseless, annoyingly cheerful laugh of his, Yamamoto shook his head while he offered up the bottle of lubricant. "So impatient." All Hibari did was bare his teeth in response to that nonsense, not about to waste a lecture on getting what one wanted at a time like this. No, it was much better to go about showing the benefits of such thinking, which he did as he poured the slick fluid directly on his loverís erect cock.

"Dammit! Cold! Couldnít you warm it up first?" Yamamoto whined while Hibari used his hand to spread the lubricant about.

"Herbivore," he sneered as he positioned himself above the contradictory fool.

Yamamoto snorted as he loosely grasped Hibari by the hips. "Wonít do *you* much good if it shrinks from the cold, na?" He let out a hissing breath as Hibari sunk downward, not stopping until their thighs pressed together.

Hibari breathed through his clenched teeth a few times as he adjusted to the girth of Yamamotoís cock stretching him, the ache an almost pain he easily ignored as he rolled his hips a little and enjoyed the choked sound it drew from his lover. The hands on his hips tightened but didnít force him to move.

Smirking a little, he leaned in to place a quick kiss on his loverís panting lips, his own breath catching at the sensations produced from the motion. He rocked back with more force, the pleasure from before sparking through him as he ground down before rising back up. His right hand, still slick with the lubricant, curled around his own cock while his left braced against Yamamotoís chest, taking control as he sought his own satisfaction.

Yet there was Yamamoto, meeting each downward thrust of his hips, one large, calloused hand wrapped around his as it stroked along his cock and the other on his hip as if to pull him even closer. Those brown eyes never looked away from him, never left his face, and when Hibari found himself lifting his left hand to brush away the hair clinging to his forehead with sweat, that hand on his hip shifted to the small of his back and he was surprised with an ardent kiss, Yamamoto bending upward to meet his lips yet not throw off their increasingly frantic rhythm.

He grasped the swordsman by the hair as he returned the kiss, felt his own hair be brushed aside and a light touch along his cheek as well before that hand returned to his back. The kiss didnít last for long; they were too short of breath and busy moving to hold it more than a couple of seconds. Yamamoto licked along Hibariís neck and then rested his head on Hibariís left shoulder as he murmured something too quiet to be understood.

The ecstasy was skittering through Hibariís body as if electricity, growing stronger and stronger with each thrust, each stroke. He fought to hold it all in, pushing the threshold higher and higher as he continued to move, his body trembling despite his best efforts. Yamamoto shifted beneath him and pulled him down hard on one thrust and the ecstasy exploded through him like lightning, overloading his senses as he came.

He felt Yamamoto come soon after, heard his name gasped as he was pulled close, and he gave the man a moment to regain some control before pushing away before he became uncomfortable. Sex was something that he understood, was something that felt good so it served a purpose, but there was no need to remain so close afterward.

Yamamoto fell back onto the bed as Hibari climbed off his lap. "Ah, you gonna spend the night?"

Hibari regarded the state of himself, his clothes strewn about that he could see and the bed. "Make up the bed and I will." He grabbed his loverís boxers and supposed that they would have to do for the moment, then used them to wipe his hand and stomach clean before leaving the bed. There were spare yukata and underwear for him in one of the dresserís drawers for occasions such as this, and Kusakabe would bring him a clean suit in the morning. "Thereíll be breakfast as well."

"Yes, oh wise and benevolent master," Yamamoto quipped as he got up and stripped the duvet cover from the bed. He laughed when Hibari spared him a glare before entering the bathroom to shower before bed.

While still in the shower, Yamamoto entered the room to use the sink to clean himself. "Bedís all made and I even picked up your clothes since Iím such a good slave. Do you want anything to drink?" he asked through the shower curtain.

"No." It had been a long day, and while the ending had turned out pleasant, all Hibari wanted to do was bring it to an end. Tomorrow he had to fly to Japan to settle some business before Sawada called him back to here over the Giordano.

"Okay." Yamamoto whistled some song as he washed up. "Donít forget to wash behind your ears!" He laughed and managed to dodge the bottle of shampoo that was thrown at him, and finally left Hibari to finish his shower in peace.

He was returning from the bathroom when he heard the faint hooting sound from outside, the noise almost jarring despite its quietness. He crossed the room to the window, left open a crack to allow the cool night air in, and slammed it shut with more force than was necessary.

"Ah, too cold?" Yamamoto asked from the bed as he held up the duvet for Hibari to slip under.

He ignored the question in favor of asking his own. "You do have something in that fridge of yours, correct?" His tone made it clear that if he didnít get breakfast in the morning, then Yamamoto would be providing an alternative favorite way to start the day Ė rule about no fights in the apartment notwithstanding.

"Hmm, good thing I went shopping yesterday, na?" Yamamoto chanced leaning in for a quick kiss to the nape of Hibariís neck before settling on his side of the bed. "Youíll be fully satisfied by the time you leave, I promise." Innuendo dripped from each word.

Hibari kicked backwards and smiled in satisfaction at the pained yelp from his idiot lover as he pushed the pillow into a more comfortable position.

There sounded to be a faint tapping from the window, but as Yamamoto didnít react to the sound, Hibari refused to get up and investigate. He burrowed his head deeper in the pillow and willed himself to focus on the noises around him, of his loverís breath evening out into sleep and the low hum of appliances throughout the apartment. He was here, with Yamamoto, and refused to think aboutÖ him. Not here. No games, and no distraction.

He hadnít ever intended to follow through on the interest heíd felt in Yamamoto all those years ago, especially not after what had happened with Dino. But after Mu- after Yamamoto had been caught up in things, had been used as one more attempt to tieÖ. Hibari ended that thought, determined to keep his promise. Yamamoto, despite the foolish grin and weak exterior he wore like a theatrical mask, was stubborn as hell and one to do whatever he set his mind on. That he decided that he wanted Hibari even after being dragged into this messÖ Hibari was too intrigued, too evenly matched to turn him away. Reborn had it all wrong - he wasnít playing a game; if anything, he was finally breaking free from one that had gone on much too long.

As Hibari drifted into sleep, he thought back to the loop of string that he had played with in the garden. In his dream, two pairs of hands twisted the string about, into numerous variations, until they both became caught in the strands. What bothered him the most was that he couldnít tell who the hands belonged to or why they couldnít just slip free. A sense of foreboding chased him into unconsciousness.


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