Title: Truth Be Told
Characters: Tsuna, Hibari, Yamamoto
Summary: Dealing with Hibari and Yamamoto requires a great deal of forbearance; it's a good thing Tsuna knows how to be patient.
Notes: More vampire AU! Follows "Stillness in a Curl of Steam." [Series Index: lysapadin . dreamwidth 90199 . html] General audiences; 7101 words.
Truth Be Told
Tsuna was relieved enough that Kyouya had finally sent for him regarding the matter of Tsuyoshi's son that he ignored the rather peremptory nature of the summons. It was Kyouya's nature to be brusque; sometimes Tsuna thought that as far as Kyouya was concerned, most of the forms of etiquette were things that happened to other people. If one wished to have any dealings with Namimori's watcher, one learned to accept that part of his personality.
"You're taking a great deal of interest in that young watcher," Reborn told Tsuna once he had managed to rearrange several commitments in order to pay a call to Kyouya. His tone was indifferent, but Tsuna had known him for too long to assume that the observation was an idle one.
They were well past the days when he'd needed to justify his decisions to his sire, so Tsuna showed him a teasing glimpse of fang and said, "None of us will benefit from a watcher who's lost touch with the ability to think rationally."
"That assumes that he had it to begin with."
Unusual for Reborn to come out with something so blunt; he must have been worried about this. Tsuna raised his eyebrows. "He's had a very difficult year, of course."
"The boy's never been all that stable to begin with and you know it." Reborn folded his arms across his chest, frowning. "Baseball was only a game, after all. Tsuyoshi was his father."
"And it is because Tsuyoshi was his father that I will try," Tsuna told him. "For the sake of his memory and the hopes he had for his son, if nothing else." It was the very least he could do, all things considered.
Reborn's frown turned deeper. "And what if he's beyond help? How far will you permit your sentiment to lead you?"
Ah. He could see where this was going, now. "As far as is appropriate." Tsuna smiled, polite and determined. "I won't let myself be deluded by my own hopes, you may be sure of that. If there truly is no hope for him, I will talk with Kyouya and we will figure out how to do what is necessary." Though he hoped very much that they wouldn't have to go so far as that. The Yamamoto line had been too long and proud to come to such an ignominious end.
Reborn didn't seem entirely convinced. "Be sure that you keep that in mind," he said. "Sometimes your optimism leads you over cliffs."
Tsuna frowned at that reminder of old mistakes. "I would prefer to think the best of people until they prove me wrong than otherwise." If one didn't do that, walking into the sun could come to seem like a far better alternative to having to deal with anyone at all.
"There's thinking the best and then there's sheer naïveté," Reborn said, but his tone had softened. "The sun is down. You may as well go if you're going. I'll see to things here." His tiny mouth quirked. "I wish you luck with that fledgling. I suspect you're going to need it."
Tsuna inclined his head, because he had similar suspicions and was willing to take whatever luck he could get. "I'll be back before dawn," he said and slipped out to the balcony and into the air.
Kyouya's message hadn't been precisely forthcoming, but the people Tsuna had set to watch over him and young Takeshi had said that it seemed as though Kyouya had begun to show his fledgling how to hunt properly. According to their reports, Takeshi wasn't quite to the place where he'd be able to grasp those niceties yet; that would only come with time and practice and the personal determination to do so.
At least they had the time, for now.
Tsuna alighted at the gate of Kyouya's compound after a flight that was pleasantly uneventful, doing nothing to veil his presence, and waited there for Kyouya to come and welcome him in, as was only proper.
After a few minutes' wait, he caught the faintest hint of Kyouya's presence, shrouded though it was. Above him, he decided, amused, and said, "Good evening," without looking up.
Kyouya dropped from his perch in the branches over Tsuna's head and landed soundlessly. "Come," he said as he let Tsuna in.
That was apparently all the greeting Tsuna was going to receive. Given Kyouya's propensity for nonverbal communication, Tsuna thought, following him, it was probably a wonder that Yamamoto Takeshi had begun to remember how to speak at all.
Kyouya brought him inside and conducted him to the garden-facing room where he normally received visitors. There was sake waiting; Tsuna concealed his smile and sat with Kyouya, gravely pouring sake and tasting the cup Kyouya poured for him without speaking—Kyouya had summoned him, so he could begin the conversation when he was ready.
In the meantime, Tsuna stretched out his senses, searching for the fledgling—he was outside, stalking through the gardens, pacing almost restlessly, as though he wanted to come closer but was reluctant to do so. That was interesting. Either young Takeshi was developing his self-control faster than Tsuna had supposed he would, or something had happened between him and his sire.
He wondered whether Kyouya would tell him anything about it if he asked.
Kyouya was silent for the time it took them to get through the better part of the bottle before he finally spoke. In all that time, Takeshi had not come any closer. "Perhaps I should not have done this."
It was so extraordinary that Tsuna stared at him, forgetting the sake and the fledgling in his astonishment. Kyouya ignored him and stared out into his garden, perhaps at the uneasy line his fledgling paced there.
When Tsuna had recovered from his startlement at hearing that moment of self-doubt—the first he'd ever seen Kyouya exhibit in all the centuries of their acquaintance—he said, "What has been done is not often easily undone." He paused, considering. "How does he come along?"
Kyouya's lip curled back from his fangs. "Two steps forward, one step back." He sipped his sake. "Like he's in the middle of a civil war with himself."
Tsuna sighed; he'd feared as much. "Do you think he will listen to anything I have to say to him?"
"You're the one who understands humans."
Sometimes Tsuna thought that Kyouya had forgotten that he had been human too, once, before Mukuro had happened to him. And sometimes he wondered whether the boy Mukuro had happened upon had been strictly human. "What is it that you want me to do?"
Kyouya took his time in answering, which worried Tsuna just a bit. At length, he said, "End the war." His fangs flashed then, sardonic. "You do love peace, after all."
How delightfully ambiguous of Kyouya. Tsuna stared out into the garden, eyes seeking the shadowed figure pacing there, back and forth, restless as a caged wolf. "It may not be possible." Not if Takeshi was as clearly divided in his own mind as Kyouya seemed to be implying.
"You will try," Kyouya directed.
Tsuna buried the twitch of his lips in his sake. "I will try, yes," he agreed, once he'd mastered the impulse to laugh at Kyouya's imperiousness. It was no less than he had come to do, after all.
That settled, they finished the sake together in silence. When they had, Kyouya rose. Tsuna glanced at him in some surprise, wondering, but Kyouya merely showed his fangs, clearly unwilling to discuss it, and left Tsuna alone, vanishing into the private areas of the compound that Tsuna had never seen.
Tsuna set his curiosity about that to the side for the time being and settled back on his heels, waiting for Yamamoto Takeshi to come to him.
The wait was not particularly short. Though Kyouya had departed, his fledgling did not approach right away, as though he were suspicious of Tsuna himself, or perhaps merely suspicious that Kyouya had only hidden himself rather than gone away altogether. Something must have happened between them—some argument, maybe, though the heavens only knew what it might have been about. He gathered his patience in both hands and sat quietly, watching the glow of the lamps flicker and change with the passing breezes, testament to Kyouya's old-fashioned tastes.
Midnight had come and gone before young Takeshi came slinking up from the garden, his every movement wary, and settled himself on the engawa to watch Tsuna. "You again," he said after minutes of staring had slipped past. His voice was hoarse, as if he weren't entirely accustomed to using it.
It was a little surprising that he was able to use his words when he and Kyouya surely hadn't had the time to hunt before Tsuna's arrival, but perhaps that was a good sign—an improvement from the last time Tsuna had seen him. He inclined his head to Takeshi, showing him the polite points of his fangs. "Me again, yes. Good evening, Takeshi."
Takeshi stared at him, eyes dark in the lamplight, very still now—sharp contrast to his earlier pacing. Something moved over his face when Tsuna said his name; that was interesting. "Who are you?"
"You may call me Tsuna, if you like." It still annoyed Reborn to no end that he was so free with the familiar form of his name, but then, annoying one's sire was one of the many joys of a long life.
Takeshi moved, swaying a little where he crouched, flexing and curling his fingers. He was definitely Kyouya's fledgling, this one, with all Kyouya's impatience for conversation. Tsuna suppressed a sigh, foreseeing how long the process of encouraging Takeshi to have more of a care for etiquette than his sire did was likely to be. "No," Takeshi said, "who are you?" He narrowed his eyes at Tsuna, fangs showing, and Tsuna suppressed another sigh. "You act like you know me."
"I suppose that you might say that I do," Tsuna told him. "I have been a friend to your family for many generations." No easy feat to maintain friendly ties with a line of hunters, either, but he had done other things far more difficult in his time.
Takeshi's nostrils flared and his eyes narrowed farther, turning sharp. "My family wouldn't have had anything to do with a vampire," he growled.
He was so young, Tsuna reflected. So very young. "As it so happens, you're wrong. Your family has had quite a lot to do with vampires in its time." He tipped his head to the side, studying the glitter of Takeshi's eyes, the flexing of his hands—all the signs of rage and perhaps hunger, too, things a fledgling generally only barely controlled at the best of times.
They might as well get this out of the way, he decided, and said, "I told Tsuyoshi that he ought to at least tell you the basics of your family's heritage, since keeping it from you wasn't going to do you any favors. I do wish I hadn't been so very right, but then, your father always did have a great deal of confidence in his own skills. Too much confidence, sometimes, as it turned out."
What there was of Takeshi's self-control broke then, as Tsuna had expected it would. He launched himself at Tsuna with something between a snarl and a scream, mindless fury blanking out the wary intelligence in his eyes as he reached for Tsuna's throat. He was strong, Tsuna noted, rising to meet Takeshi's outstretched claws. Even for a fledgling watcher, he was strong, though whether that was his potential or simply strength born of fury remained to be seen.
Tsuna caught Takeshi's wrists as the fledgling crashed into him and wrapped his hands around them to hold them away from his throat. Takeshi's momentum would have bowled him over, had he not been anticipating the attack, so he used it to throw Takeshi to the floor and pin him there, careful of the fangs snapping for any part of him that Takeshi could reach.
As Takeshi bucked and writhed under him, enraged beyond anything like sense, Tsuna glanced up at Kyouya, who had appeared in the door like a ghost, summoned by his fledgling's rage. "Has he eaten this evening?"
"No." Kyouya's eyes moved down to his fledgling, unreadable. "Not yet." He looked up again, meeting Tsuna's eyes. "He doesn't know how to stop himself yet."
"How fortunate for us that I do," Tsuna said, knowing that his smile had gone a little fey, but then, Kyouya had never minded that side of him. It was one of the reasons they were friends after their own fashion.
Kyouya's fangs slipped out, the glint of his amusement faint. "It's your blood." He departed again with as little fanfare as he'd arrived.
"Yes," Tsuna said, fairly certain that Kyouya would hear it. "It is my blood." He looked down at the snarling fledgling beneath him and said, formal, "I choose to share some of it with you, Yamamoto Takeshi." He wrapped one hand around Takeshi's wrists, getting a solid grip on them, and pried the buttons of his shirt's cuff open with his teeth to bare his other wrist.
The moment he brought his hand within range of Takeshi's mouth, Takeshi lunged for it, sinking his fangs into Tsuna's wrist and sucking greedily. The pain of it was exquisite; Tsuna welcomed it, using it to keep the slow, sleepy feeling that came with sharing at bay, at least enough for him to keep track of what was happening and how much of his blood was disappearing down Takeshi's throat. "Enough," he said after a little space in which the only sound in the room was that of Takeshi's feeding. He dragged his wrist away from Takeshi's mouth. "That is all you need."
Takeshi growled at him, still caught in his frenzy. Tsuna held him down, waiting for the flesh of his wrist to knit together after the savaging it had received. The shirt was likely a loss; his blood stained the cuff dark, just as it was slick on Takeshi's chin.
Kyouya had come and gone away again while Takeshi had fed, this time without even Tsuna noticing it. He'd left a bowl of water at Tsuna's elbow; it steamed in the cool air, the astringent scent of bleach rising from its surface. Tsuna dropped his hand into the water, submerging it and the cuff of his shirt, letting the water rinse away the scent of his blood. Clever Kyouya, he thought, shaking the water from his fingers as the air began to clear of the blood scent and Takeshi's eyes started to focus.
"Are you yourself again?" he asked once Takeshi's thrashings beneath him had stilled. Takeshi's eyes narrowed at him as he passed his tongue over his lips, which Tsuna chose to interpret as an affirmative. "Let this be our first lesson, then. When someone chooses to share with you, take only as much blood as you need. To take more—to drain someone completely—is a gross breach of the trust he or she has shown you. Violating such trust deliberately is an act that right-thinking people abhor and renders the one who does it monstrous, no better than an animal. Does that make sense to you?"
Tsuna watched Takeshi closely, wondering how he would take that, but even with Kyouya's warning—his request—he was not expecting the way Takeshi began to laugh, hoarse and full of loathing, self-loathing. "We are monsters," he rasped, lips peeled away from his fangs, bitterly sardonic. "We are animals."
Perhaps Kyouya had understated just how bad it really was. Tsuna slid his weight off Takeshi's chest, the better to reach down and deliver a brisk shaking. "Stop that at once. We are not animals, or monsters, unless we choose to permit ourselves to be." You little idiot, he thought but did not say. He shook Takeshi again to underscore the point. "Put aside whatever it is that you think you know of our kind and attend to what I am saying. You are still you, though your nature has changed. What you do is still your responsibility; whether you let your instincts run wild or you curb them is your decision. Your nature is no more monstrous or animalistic than you choose to let it be. You may be a watcher now, but you are still Yamamoto Takeshi. You come from an honorable line and your actions may still yet bring honor to your family's name, if you wish them to. Do not let your own despair steal that knowledge from you again."
Takeshi stared up at him, looking—to Tsuna's great satisfaction—rather shocked by that. Not like he believe it, not yet, but like he'd been surprised enough by that diatribe to take a step back from his own self-pity and think.
Not that that lasted for very long.
Shock turned to offense almost immediately: Takeshi snarled at him, struggling under him and trying to throw Tsuna's hands off him. "Stop saying things like—like—you have no right to talk about my family, you're just another monster like the one who killed Tousan—"
Tsuna ignored Takeshi's flailing and let him rant, thinking it best to let him vent some of the poison he'd been carrying with him since his father's death. He didn't bother listening closely, since the substance of Takeshi's anger was clear: vampires had killed his father and were therefore monstrous; he was a vampire now; therefore, he was a monster, too. It seemed that Reborn has been right to worry, Tsuna thought; someone who hated his own changed nature so deeply was a threat to himself and to others.
Tsuna spared an annoyed thought for Tsuyoshi's memory. However good his intentions had been, he hadn't done his son any favors by keeping secrets from him. "Are you finished?" he asked when it seemed that Takeshi had come to his peroration.
Takeshi glared up at him, fangs bared.
Tsuna permitted himself a sigh in lieu of delivering another shaking and said, as slowly and directly as he could manage, "Your clan has been hunters for all the time I have known them. In all that time, I think I have known three of your forebears who managed to die in bed, and all three of them seemed sorry for it. Your father knew that he would someday meet a vampire he could not best and was fully prepared for that moment, as all hunters must be. And even so, he and I were friends."
Takeshi snarled disbelief and defiance at him. "Liar!"
There were many things Tsuna would endure from someone so clearly wounded, but that was one thing he would not accept. His blow seemed to surprise Takeshi; certainly it dazed him, even as the gash across his cheek closed over almost instantly. "Do not," Tsuna said, evenly, once he was certain he had Takeshi's full attention, "call me a liar." He gripped Takeshi's chin, forcing the fledgling to meet his eyes. "Yamamoto Tsuyoshi was a good man and an honorable hunter. I was very pleased to call him my friend and even better pleased that he chose to do the same for me, even when his duties to the ones he protected placed us at odds with one another. His duty to his fellow humans kept those of us who rely on human blood to survive honest, and I mourn his loss deeply. It was out of my respect for him that I kept watch over his son and out of my friendship for him that I risked the sun and the true death to save his son from his first attempt at courting death. It is out of deference to his memory that I will do my utmost to prevent his son from continuing that courtship even now." He released Takeshi's chin and shook him again, sharp and hard. "Do not accuse me of lying about such a thing again."
Takeshi was back to looking shocked. "That was… you?" he said, looking positively at sea.
Tsuna raised an eyebrow at his bewilderment. "Yes. What on earth did you think had saved you?" It had taken nights for the burns to heal, weeks for him to regain his full strength after that, though he'd regarded it all as worthwhile for the relief in Tsuyoshi's eyes and the barest tremble in Tsuyoshi's voice as he'd said his thanks. "I have been watching over you for a very long time."
At least Takeshi hadn't descended back into his rage, though he still looked utterly confused. "But… why?"
Tsuna released his grip on Takeshi, sitting back and straightening his cuffs. "Because it is my firm conviction that we all can live together, if we choose to. All of us—human and vampire, hunter and watcher—even if accomplishing such a thing takes a great deal of work." Work that Byakuran and his madness seemed determined to destroy. But never mind that now. He smiled at Takeshi, coaxing, though the fledgling was unlikely to recognize that nuance. "You were born to be a hunter, though Tsuyoshi had planned to wait till you were older to discuss that with you. However, a watcher is really just the reverse of that coin, when you think about it."
Takeshi pushed himself up, forehead still creased like he didn't understand what Tsuna was saying to him. "A watcher?"
He'd lived far too long to let his reactions show freely, but—for pity's sake, hadn't Kyouya explained anything to his fledgling? Tsuna took a breath and set his dismay aside. "That's what you are," he said. "A watcher is a vampire who feeds on the blood of other vampires." Takeshi's eyes moved—yes, he was glancing down at the stained cuff of Tsuna's shirt. "Yes, just as we did earlier. There are relatively few watchers, of course, just as there are relatively fewer vampires than humans." That was only elementary, but Takeshi listened like he had never heard it before. Probably he hadn't. "I have heard that watchers may feed on others—humans, for example—if they choose, but I've never seen it actually happen. Our watcher prefers otherwise." Yes, best not to call Kyouya a snob under his own roof, however tempting his tastes made it.
Takeshi still looked as if all this was new to him—well, he hadn't precisely been thinking clearly before his turning, so whatever Hayato must have said to him then must not have sunk in very deeply. "I don't… I just… on vampires?"
"If that's what you choose," Tsuna assured him, moderately annoyed with Kyouya for not having made such things clear. Perhaps Kyouya hadn't realized that he'd needed to, though, since he'd embraced his own turning so easily. Tsuna gave Takeshi another smile, one that he would have given a fledgling of his own. "There is a great deal of lore among our kind. Let's begin there—I think you'll find that it's not as bad as human lore might make it seem." Then he had another thought, considering Takeshi's reactions. "Or perhaps I could tell you a bit more about your father and how a hunter and a vampire lord came to be friends."
Takeshi stared at him. "He couldn't have been a hunter," he said, though his voice was uncertain. "He wasn't—he was just a sushi chef."
Just a sushi chef? Tsuna fought not to laugh. Ah, the solipsism of the young. "Perhaps I should say a retired hunter," he corrected himself. "He put his sword and lighter aside after your mother's death. He had you to consider, after all." And perhaps it had not only been that—Makoto's death had hit Tsuyoshi hard.
A truly Yamamoto family trait, that—to throw the entire heart into one passion. Witness the fledgling sitting in front of him, after all, wide-eyed and not certain he believed a word Tsuna was saying. "Your mother was also a hunter, of course," Tsuna told him, since it didn't entirely matter whether Takeshi believed him, not yet, so long as he listened. "She and your father were quite the team, and I do think he lost some of his taste for the hunt after her passing. He didn't seem to regret retiring for your sake, anyway."
"He would have said something," Takeshi objected. "He would have told me."
"Yes," Tsuna agreed. "He would have, once you were a little older. He'd decided that you should grow up without having to worry about the hunt, you see. Without having to think about the long lines of your family's history and the expectation that you should follow after them." He still remembered the way the lines on Tsuyoshi's face, engraved there by his vigil at Makoto's bedside, as he'd explained his decision. It was too heavy a burden, he'd said, dark circles under his eyes. Too much of a burden, one that he was not going to lay on his son until he was old enough to decide whether he wanted it or not.
Doubt still creased Takeshi's forehead, but no matter. Tsuna spread his hands. "There were times he thought about changing his mind, of course. But your family is stubborn. When you make up your mind to do something, you do it."
Takeshi remained silent after that for a long time. Then he smiled, mirthless. "So my family are a bunch of hunters. And now I'm a vampire. Guess that worked out well, huh?"
Such a streak of darkness in the boy. Tsuna frowned at him. "You are alive. Believe me when I tell you that your father would have preferred you alive and a watcher than the alternative." If only he could have managed to reach either of them in time, Makoto or Tsuyoshi or both. Regrets served nothing, however, so Tsuna let them slip away and focused on what he might be able to preserve here and now. "You are alive, Takeshi. We carry the memories of our lost ones with us always, but we cannot let those losses consume us. You live, so think on what you will do with the life that you have."
That was probably enough for one evening, he decided. Takeshi looked dizzy, sick to his stomach, and thoroughly disoriented—but those could all be good things, in measured doses. Now he needed time to think about the things he had (with any luck) learned. A little sympathy now might not go amiss, either. "It's a lot to absorb all at once, I know." He kept his voice as gentle as he could manage. "And it must feel very strange to have turned into something like what you have learned to hate. Not everyone who experiences that sort of transition necessarily survives it—only those with strong hearts do." He smiled at Takeshi then, showing him full confidence. "But you're a Yamamoto, and I have never known your family's hearts to fail." He made a minute adjustment to the cuffs of his jacket. "I'll give you some time to think and come back in a few days. We'll talk more then."
Takeshi blinked, slow, but did not protest, which seemed like a good sign. "I—sure. I guess." He wasn't exactly steady when he pushed himself to his feet, but Tsuna thought that might have been because he was actually deep in thought rather than anything else. It was about time, too.
He waited until Takeshi had gone away, back to the garden, to say, slow and distinct, "Now it is time for us to speak with each other, Kyouya."
Kyouya stepped into the room on silent feet, his presence rising up as suddenly as a summer storm. When Tsuna looked at him, his lips were folded together very tightly, though it was impossible to say whether it was from anger or something else. Kyouya settled into seiza and tucked his hands into his sleeves and then did not say anything at all.
So it was up to him to begin? Very well. "Your fledgling is woefully ignorant." He trusted Kyouya to hear the rest: What have you been doing all this time?
If anything, Kyouya's lips went tighter. "Those are things he should have already known."
"Be that as it may, he clearly didn't." Tsuna folded his hands together and fixed his eyes on Kyouya. "You know as well as I do that Tsuyoshi decided to keep him unaware of certain things. Why have you not been doing anything about that now that he is in your care?"
Kyouya narrowed his eyes and showed a slip of fang in warning. "Do not lecture me, Tsuna." Tsuna relaxed, just fractionally, because at least Kyouya was invested enough in this conversation to forget his scruples about propriety and formality. For a time, he had wondered about that. Worried. "The little dhampir told him of these things. I heard him do it."
"You heard him," Tsuna pointed out. "I doubt Takeshi did. I doubt he heard anything that didn't seem as if it would be of direct use in avenging his father's death." Anything else must have burned away under that laser focus. He shook his head, placing those thoughts to the side as irrelevant now. "You must teach him, Kyouya. He doesn't know anything, and it will cost him if he doesn't learn."
"He's strong," Kyouya pointed out. Tsuna couldn't tell whether that was supposed to be an explanation or a defense. "He will manage."
Wonderful. Both of them were in denial. Clearly Kyouya hadn't sent for him a moment too soon. "He will die, Kyouya." Tsuna gave him a direct look, fangs showing the conviction of his words. Kyouya's eyes narrowed again. "He will. Either the vampires he feeds on will decide that they will not stand for a watcher who has no respect for their blood, or he will turn to the sun himself. Or he will be too ignorant of our kind to know how to preserve himself and bide his time before he goes to seek out Byakuran."
Kyouya remained silent in response to that, but there was a faintly startled, furtively guilty quality to his silence. Yes, Tsuna thought, something had already happened between Kyouya and his fledgling.
At length, Kyouya looked away from him. "He chose this freely." Beneath that, Tsuna heard the plaintive, Why is he rejecting it now?
"How free a choice is it when you are already dying and you know that you have failed in what you set out to do?" He saw by the look on Kyouya's face that he didn't entirely understand the question. Tsuna couldn't be too surprised by that, not when he knew full well that Kyouya had had no such choices himself and that he had not particularly regretted their lack.
Really, he should have seen this coming. Kyouya surely had no idea of what cares went into raising a fledgling.
"He was born for this," Kyouya said eventually. "It is what is right." He looked out into the garden, to where his fledgling had retreated and was huddled somewhere in the darkness. "It should be right."
Tsuna no longer got headaches, but sometimes Kyouya seemed determined to precipitate one for him nonetheless. "It does not happen on its own, Kyouya." He made himself be as patient as all the long centuries of his life had taught him to be. "Fledglings must be taught. That is why we are called their sires. They will not learn except by example, because they do not know any better." And even so, sometimes they did not learn despite the best examples one could provide.
But he wasn't here to think about that.
The corners of Kyouya's mouth twisted down. "I was not taught."
Might the heavens grant him patience. "You have been fighting with Mukuro since you were first turned. You never gave him a chance to teach you, and you know very well what your reputation has been as a result of that." And yes, the glint of Kyouya's fangs said he did know, very well, and enjoyed it, too. Fine. It was time to be as blunt as he could be. "That's all very well for you, because everyone knows Namimori's watcher will never leave this place, but if you do not teach Takeshi the appropriate forms, when he leaves you, he will die. No one will stand for a feral watcher who attempts to establish a territory outside of this place."
He wasn't sure that Kyouya had actually heard that last; his nostrils had flared and his lips had peeled back from his fangs, furious, at the first mention of Takeshi's leaving. "He will not leave," he snarled. "He is mine."
Tsuna stared at him, startled by the display of rage and possessiveness—possessiveness from Kyouya, of all people. What an astonishing thing. He composed himself and said, cautiously, "That's the sort of thing I'd expect to hear you say of a mate, not a fledgling."
"He is mine," Kyouya said again, fiercely enough that Tsuna tensed, ready to fight back should Kyouya decide to defend his claimed territory against some perceived infringement.
Patience. He dearly needed every bit of patience he had, and perhaps the ability to keep a straight face, too, because he'd never thought he'd live to see the day Hibari Kyouya felt so about another person. "I… see." Tsuna waited until Kyouya had begun to tuck his fangs away again. "In that case you really must teach him, Kyouya." The heavens knew he didn't care to have another feral watcher feeding on his people. "And you should probably stop treating him as though he's an extension of your own will. You can't keep someone by force of will. If you could, Mukuro would still have you, after all."
Kyouya had begun to snarl again, but the mention of Mukuro brought him up short. He glared at Tsuna. "Explain."
Tsuna sighed. "You can't force anyone to belong to you," he said, meeting Kyouya's piercing stare as frankly as he could. "You can only do your best to encourage them to want to stay." He glanced out to the garden. "He was not raised as you were. He grieves for his father and is terrified of what he has become—not because he hates it, but because he fears he might come to love it. He is strong, but right now it's a brittle strength. He's already received several hard blows. Too many more and I fear he will shatter for good." Again, those were things Kyouya might not entirely understand, because Kyouya had always been perfectly at peace with his own nature.
He growled, low and frustrated. "What does that mean, Sawada?"
It was a real pity he couldn't shake Kyouya by the scruff of his neck as he'd done with Takeshi, at least not without starting a fight that he was in no mood for. Ah, well. "You might begin by talking with him, now that he has his words back." He considered it and decided that perhaps one could not be too specific and practical with Kyouya. "Many people like to know why they are being told to do a certain thing. Too, he might like to know more of his father. Or more of his sire." He studied the faint line of Kyouya's frown and added, "Or you might begin by discussing whatever happened between the two of you the other day."
That had been a shot into the dark, but it hit: Kyouya started, infinitesimally, before his eyes narrowed. "I will take that into consideration."
That was better than nothing, Tsuna supposed, suspecting he had pushed as far as he could for one night. "Very well, then." He looked at the lamps, which were beginning to burn low, and had an idea. "I'll come again in a few days to see how he's getting on. In the meantime, shall we give him another lesson to think on?" He unbuttoned his cuff again and pushed it back. At Kyouya's inquiring glance, he said, "You will not have time for a good hunt this evening."
Kyouya's eyes gleamed, as he'd supposed they would. "So you mean to feed us both? Ambitious of you."
Not precisely ambitious so much as a bid to put Kyouya into a better mood before he and Takeshi had to deal with each other, but no matter. "Perhaps." As Kyouya shifted closer and reached for his hand, Tsuna shook his head. "Wait." He pressed a claw against his wrist, opening a nick. Kyouya made a hungry sound as blood beaded up from the tiny cut, but held himself steady as Tsuna waited for the scent of blood to reach out and draw Takeshi back inside to them.
The last time Tsuna had shared blood with Kyouya, Takeshi had been very newly turned and his response to the scent of blood had been nearly instantaneous. Tsuna half-expected to wait longer this time, but didn't—Takeshi must have started moving as soon as the smell of blood reached him. He came loping up from the garden and inside, eyes dark and fangs bared, clearly intent on feeding.
Tsuna let the little wound close over as Kyouya growled, "Stop," at his fledgling. Takeshi did, though only barely, probably more in response to the tone rather than the sense of the command, and stood there, vibrating and whining hungrily.
They needed to get the scent of the blood out of the air, Tsuna decided, and offered his wrist and claws for Kyouya to groom clean—no sense in wasting any blood, not if he was going to share with them both.
Takeshi whined as Kyouya lapped the blood from Tsuna's skin. Tsuna focused on him, willing Takeshi to look at him, and said his name. He waited till the blood scent had cleared from the air and Takeshi had remembered that yes, that was his name Tsuna was saying, and focused on him. "Here's another thing to remember. When you smell blood, your hunger will rise in response, which is only natural. But you do not have to let it consume you—you are a thinking, rational being. Think beyond your own hunger. It is difficult, I know, but your will is strong enough to do it. You are your father's son."
Kyouya made an impatient sound. "You're too fond of your own voice, Sawada," he said, and bit down on Tsuna's wrists, fangs puncturing his skin in one quick, clean motion, the sensation too sharp to be called pleasure.
Tsuna sighed, unable to stop his eyes from sinking half-closed in spite of the fact that he needed to be wary of Takeshi's fledgling instincts, because the pleasant lassitude that came of sharing was even stronger this time around. "Someone has to talk, since you're not going to," he said, hearing the lazy pleasure in his own voice. Takeshi was staring at them, tense as a coiled spring, so Tsuna addressed him, hoping that perhaps something would reach him. "I think he feels like he needs to ration his speech. I've always suspected that he was stocking up in case of an emergency." Takeshi's eyes fastened on him as he spoke; there was no telling whether he made sense of any of that, but no matter. "I'd ask him, of course, but I'm pretty sure that he wouldn't answer if I did."
Kyouya made a discontented sound and pulled away from his wrist, pausing only to lick away the last traces of blood as Tsuna's skin began to knit together. His mouth was red with blood as he grimaced at Tsuna. "You turn into a giddy idiot when you've shared too much blood."
"Perhaps," Tsuna agreed absently, more taken up with the way Takeshi swayed forward and then checked himself—yes. Yes, he'd understood, or he was thinking. "It's a great failing of mine."
"One of them." Kyouya dropped his wrist, still glaring as he licked the blood from his lips. "Take your stupidity elsewhere, if you can—or am I going to have to have your people come get you?"
Only Kyouya would manage to camouflage the query as an outright insult. It was a good thing that he was familiar with Kyouya's ways by now. "That won't be necessary." He rolled his sleeve down again, doing up the cuff. "You only took what was necessary." He stood and inclined his head to Takeshi, who was so still he seemed frozen in place. "I will see you again soon, I hope. Remember what I've told you."
He didn't really expect a response, not when Takeshi was still caught in the grip of his hunger and instincts, but Takeshi managed a dazed, "Yes," which was perhaps the best sign of all so far.
Tsuna smiled at them both, pleased, and stepped out into the night.
It was a slow flight home, but after feeding two watchers that was only to be expected. The sky to the east was beginning to fade with the approach of dawn by the time he finally touched down on his own balcony.
Reborn was waiting for him. His quick eyes roved over Tsuna, no doubt taking in how drawn his face must have been and the stained cuff of his shirt. He made a disgusted sound when his survey was complete. "How did I fledge such a fool?"
"In the usual fashion, I imagine." Tsuna collapsed into his chair and sighed, unwilling to move again. "Be easy, Reborn. I'm hungry, that's all. I'll be fine once someone has shared with me."
Reborn seemed far less impressed by this reassurance than he ought to have been. "And the fledgling?" he asked, jumping up onto the sideboard and ringing for one of the human staff.
"I have hope for him." Tsuna leaned his head back and sighed. "It's worse that Kyouya suggested, though. He knows nothing about us and thinks of himself as a monster. Or did; I spoke to him about that at some length." And please let Takeshi have listened. "But I still have hope. He's young. He can still change his mind, if he chooses to listen."
"You're sentimental." Reborn's tone was gruff, but Tsuna could hear what that covered and smiled at him anyway. "Well. I suppose someone has to be, in this world."
"Yes," Tsuna murmured, sitting up as Basil came slipping in, already unfastening his collar. "Someone does."
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