We're All Hitmen Here
Chapter 6: Question Time
AKA This is Not Abandoned Time. So here, have some words. Words are good for you.
Disclaimer: I have not acquired the licence for either KHR or AC in my absence, so continue enjoying this nonprofit fic.
—Yo Tsuna! What's up?
—Hey Yamamoto, how've you been?
—I've been great! Baseball training right now.
—Oh? That's nice.
—Yeah, so whatcha got for me?
—Mm, I trust you've heard about the recent insurgencies about Namimori?
—I have. What about them? Isn't Hibari on the case now?
—Yeah, things are mostly under control, and we've managed to catch the leader of the riots just yesterday.
—That's good to hear.
—But he's not giving with Hibari.
—Really? That's rare.
—Well… the thing is that he's still young.
—Fwoo, I see. So you've got Hibari off the clock and want me to go and tease out answers?
—Yeah, well, that is, if you're not too busy.
—Haha, sure thing, Boss!
—And, um, Yamamoto. One more thing.
—This… well, how do I say this…
—It's just that, er. Your dad came up in this investigation—I mean, it's kind of iffy how he relates, but well… I guess I thought you should know.
—Got it. I'll be over this afternoon.
The temperature dipped and Karma casually looked around to find the source. Like him and Kimura, many of the guys were partnered up to play catch in the outfield. Then there was Takebayashi, who sat behind his computer in the bleachers, and Nagisa, who crouched in his mask behind home plate, facing—there it was, the epicenter of the radiating chill—the pitcher's mound. With Sugino safely a few steps away, Yamato-sensei stood with ball in hand, eyes steely cold like a blade pressed against the back of one's neck. Karma felt his hair prickle, and he lowered his mitt to watch.
Barely traceable, the ball flew. Even Karma couldn't follow it. Then a blink later, Nagisa was sitting on the floor, shaking out his wrist. The field was suddenly silent. All heads had turned when they caught something zipping past the corner of their vision. Then Takebayashi stood, glasses nearly sliding down his nose, and squawked, "168.2! Th-that's nearly world record speed!"
Hmm. Karma turned the number over in his head. It was absolutely sluggish compared to Koro-sensei's 300 km/hr throws, but the sheer fact that Yamato-sensei was human and managed a pitch like that… interesting.
Yamato scratched the back of his head, "Haha, oopsies." And just like that, all traces of the pervading cold fell away, and Yamato was Yamato again—their goofy teacher and happy-go-lucky coach.
So very interesting. He really needed to know what transpires in that seemingly airy head of his sensei's.
Karma chuckled and stepped forward with a predatory grin. "Wow, our Sensei's a big-time pro, isn't he, pitching like the stars in the Major League. With all his talent, he could easily be raking in millions, yet here he is, training the likes of us. For what, ten billion yen?"
Yamato laughed lightly, "Just a part of the job."
"The job of killing Koro-sensei, right? As part of the mafia Vongola famiglia?" Yamato's eyebrows raised as Karma continued forward. "Come on now, don't be surprised at how the teachers here gossip. And besides, everyone who even peeks into the underground world knows about the Vongola, the biggest crime syndicate in the West, and soon the East too, but no one knows who you are, Yamato-sensei. Not Karasuma-sensei, not Bitch-sensei, and by the looks of it, not even our all-knowing Koro-sensei." At the foot of the pitcher's mound, Karma cocked his head up at his sensei, thudding a baseball into his glove. "You are a mystery, Sensei, as I'm sure you know."
Yamato, now bearing an amused expression, stepped off the mound and slung an arm around Karma's shoulders, squeezing just tightly enough that Karma couldn't twist out of his grip. "I guess so!" He gave a playful wink. "Are you really that interested 'bout me?"
With a scoff, Karma pushed Yamamoto's arm away and extracted himself from his hold. "Of course. You're a funhouse of mirrors. We see you bumbling; we see you sharp. Who wouldn't want to see the true you, free of distorted truths?"
"Hm? So it's like a game?" Yamato said, nonplussed.
There it was again: to Sensei, nothing was ever more than a game. "Exactly."
Resting his hand on his chin, Yamato paused. Then he said, "It won't be easy, you know."
"Oh yes, I know," Karma said. The greatest challenges payed off with the greatest rewards, after all.
But Yamato wasn't done. "Tell you what, if Boss approves, I'll tell Karasuma to give you his files on me if you win this weekend's game. To say sorry in advance, since I'll be gone the rest of this week."
Ignoring Sugino's outcry from beside him, Karma gave it some thought. If Yamato was so readily offering the file, it probably didn't contain much relevant information, especially since Karasuma-sensei hadn't even pieced together who Yamato was. Who knew, maybe he was assigning himself a Sisyphean task. But that was of no matter. Karma bared his teeth in a facsimile of a grin. "The handicap isn't necessary, but I'll hold you to your word, Yamato-sensei."
"Okay! Deal." Then Yamato clapped his hands and addressed the whole field, "Clean up time! Class in twenty!"
Confident that he'd won this exchange, Karma turned away, about to shirk off cleaning duty. Soon as he thought he'd escaped Yamato's line of sight, though, Yamato spoke again. "So why the interest?"
Karma turned back and shrugged. "You're an interesting man." A simple truth.
"Haha, I understand that."
It was a response as cryptic as the man, and this time, Karma couldn't help the genuine grin that pulled at his face.
"You're late, herbivore," Hibari snarled. He wedged a tonfa under the Rain's throat that forced him against the wall. He did not appreciate tardiness, especially to an evening meeting when he could've better spent the time napping on the roof.
Hibird fluttered overhead. "Late! Late!" he chirped.
Hibari let Yamamoto push his tonfa away. Best to get this meeting over with quickly while the sun was still out. "Sorry, Hibari-senpai." That trademark herbivore grin. Annoying.
He sat back behind his desk, dismissing Tetsu to bring tea. Chamomile, preferably, if he had to deal with this herbivore for the next while. He slid a manila folder over as Yamamoto sat. "Sakurai-kai, Sato Yukisuke. Locate his second."
As a young boss of a young gang, the pathetic herbivore felt the need to bare his clunky teeth at the world, and did so through a series of arsons that escalated to outright robberies on Vongola's front door. Hibari's territory, which was unacceptable. That was when he finally ignored Sawada's cries for peace and rallied the gang up. They captured Sato and his most of forces minus the second-in-command a few days ago at their hideout in the outskirts of Kokuyo Land, where scum tend to accumulate.
The little herbivore was smart, to an extent, and arrogant in the way only teens without a healthy fear of carnivores knew to be. But there wasn't enough cleverness in his words or actions that could lead Hibari to believe the runt had organized most of the recent destruction himself.
Having gleaned all that he could from the herbivore without touching a hair on his head, he was to entrust the rest of the questioning to the Rain and his herbivore subtlety. The fact that Tsunayoshi still believed violence didn't solve all problems made Hibari snort. He could have squashed the answers from the pompous boy in seconds.
Tetsu came back with a tray of tea, and Yamamoto glanced up from the files. "So what have you gotten out of this kid so far?"
Hibari lifted the pot and poured, waiting for Tetsu to answer. The distinct tang of bitter orange and chrysanthemum wafted through the air. Not chamomile, but it would do.
It didn't take long for Tetsu to get the hint. Hibari smiled. He had trained a good subordinate. "Kyo-san has the forced cooperation of the lower ranks, who know nothing of much use, and has either driven them away or integrated them into the Disciplinary Committee's ranks." Stupid herbivores. They still hadn't been weaned of their crowding behavior. "As for Sato Yukisuke, he has stubbornly refused to cooperate despite the fact that most of his men have turned on him. We have concluded that he has a greater fear of something, or someone, other than us, and that other is likely his second, who we believe to be Tatsuo Matteo, a Japanese-Italian recently released from Italian custody."
"Tatsuo Matteo," Yamamoto repeated. "He sounds familiar."
"The Deed," Hibari said. He sipped his tea as he watched Yamamoto's eyes flicker, connecting mental dots in that strange apparatus he called a brain.
"L'atte," Yamamoto echoed in heavily accented Italian. "Wasn't he the bastard cousin of the Barato boss? He was released already?"
When Hibari opted not to answer, Tetsu continued. "After Sawada-san left him to the police, Tatsuo sold out his boss and cousin in exchange for a lighter sentence of eight years. He got out early for good behaviour and a believed bribe. He left for America soon after his release, and from there he came to Japan—his father's home country—some time before the moon incident."
"And he joined the Sakurai-kai then?" Yamamoto asked.
"We assume so."
"You think he was using the Sakurai-kai?"
"We believe so."
"Has he been in contact with any other organization?"
"We are in the process of finding out."
Yamamoto's long fingers tapped a steady beat on the desk. "And my dad?" he asked, slowly.
"Still dead," Hibari snapped, tired of these useless questions. The old man was dead and his son was here to do his job and collect answers from the prisoner, not crowd in his office for some meaningless debrief.
Yamamoto stilled, fingers raised mid-tap. A warm wind blew in through the window, and Hibird shifted in Hibari's hair. Then Yamamoto's lips thinned into a dark smile—and there were his fangs. Good. "Thank you for the reminder, Senpai." He tossed the rest of his tea back like some cheap whiskey, making Hibari snarl at the blatant disrespect, and set the empty cup down none too gently. "Sato Yukisuke. I'll be sure he spills."
The chair let a hideous squeak as Yamamoto stood, slinging his wrapped sword over his shoulder and picking up his bag. Hibari took another sip of his tea before rising as well.
The sun was already dipping past the horizon. There was no time for a nap before his twilight patrol, but—he examined the man before him, how the scarlet light cast a certain feralness in his eyes and framed a bloody halo about the set of his jaw—there was always time for a spar. He drew his tonfa.
Something shifted in Yamamoto's eyes as he caught Hibari's movement. A reigning in of bloodlust in exchange for brutal curiosity, an itch to cross steel with steel tempered by that herbivore mentality of holding back, taming himself. Hibari couldn't stand it. The Rain had fangs and claws, urges to be the carnivore he was. Sawada, who held his leash, wasn't even here. In the presence of a fellow carnivore who clearly demanded a fight, why slink back and hide who he was?
Sensing Hibari tense, Hibird fluttered off to orbit Tetsu. Hibari lunged, vaulting over his desk with feline grace. He aimed a volley of strikes, each of which Yamamoto dodged until his back was to the wall and a tonfa was wedged beneath his chin, an echo of how this meeting had started.
Yamamoto clearly recognized the pattern as well, and he slumped a bit, not relaxing entirely, but not resisting either. "Sorry, Senpai, but not today, okay? I've just got some stuff to do and think about tonight."
There was something more to his holding back today than usual. Something melancholy that had to do with his father. There was Takesushi, which he must have passed by on the way from the station, a haunt of ghosts and memories, a stark reminder of happier times and symbol of things not right. There was that, but that wasn't the extent of it.
No, Yamamoto ached for a fight. That was a fact. Action ran through his veins, and he loved the rush of adrenaline as much as Hibari did. But the wilderness usually so present in him was subdued by some sort of fear today. Hibari was struck by a sudden thought—"Herbivore," he hissed. He raised his other tonfa to swipe with renewed fury.
Yamamoto's eyes flew wide as he dropped into a duck. "Hold on, Senpai!"
Hibari wouldn't relent. No one looked at him like that, as if they could accidentally hurt him. He was a carnivore and this was his territory. He would not stand for any sort of condescension. Maybe Yamamoto was in an unstable state, liable to swing too hard or with the wrong end of his blade in a moment of passion, but Hibari was Hibari. He had his tonfa and his teeth and could handle himself just fine.
He swung again, this time shattering some cheap vase as Yamamoto stepped aside, raising and slipping out the window. Hibari followed, landing in a crouch in the grass and leaving Tetsu to clean up the mess above.
A shadow fell at his feet, and he squinted up against the sinking sun to see Yamamoto, still weaponless. "Please," he said. "Don't make me." His eyes begged, fierce and desperate, just daring Hibari to administer his discipline.
Hibari stood. "Draw your weapon before I bite you to death."
Yamamoto didn't move.
"Herbivore," Hibari ground out, "You cannot hurt me." That was all the warning he gave before continuing his assault. There was no room for such scrimpy carnivores on the grounds of Nami Middle.
And just like that, something must have registered in his haze of thoughts. Yamamoto skipped back and drew his sword, settling so casually into a fighting stance. His eyes sharpened, and his whole being seemed to come into focus. Yes, Hibari thought, this was more like it. Here was the wolf stepping out of the sheep's wool.
They clashed again and again, engaged in a dance of steel and sweat as the world swirled about them. Yamamoto sliced, and Hibari parried. Hibari charged, and Yamamoto countered. Exchange after exchange, until the sun had sunk and the shadows darkened. When they finally drew apart, each heaving deep breaths and aching with new bruises, they regarded each other again.
"Thanks," Yamamoto said, breaking the silence that had fallen. There was a sense of balance and rightness in him again, Hibari decided with satisfaction. No more idle stewing on the likes of Sato or Tatsuo or his long-dead father. What happened had happened, and all that was needed now was to beat the sense into the future.
A streetlight flickered just outside the main gate. Hibari growled. Just when one problem was properly resolved, another arose. With one last muttered "herbivore" tossed to reaffirm his lesson, Hibari stalked off to address the misbehaving lamp.
A/N: Wow, an update! I'm alive! And plot! And Hibird! Lookee that. But yeah, this fic has been swimming in the back of my mind for the past while *cough*year*cough*, and I don't have any (good) excuse for not writing. So... sorry, I guess.
But 400+ favs and 500+ follows. Almost 1000 views per month. That means people are still reading (and liking) this. Wow. That's a lot of pressure for me to write and write well. But go you guys. Thanks for sticking through.
Fun fun, that's all for now. Hope and pray for another chappie soon. And have a good day/night.