A/N: Welcome to the first chapter of another of my one-shot collections! This one takes on a kind of serious look in the lives of our beloved characters of KHR, so I hope you leave me some delicious criticisms after you've read them through.
Disclaimer: U trolling me, disclaimer?
She gazed heavily outside as sakura trees sent rosy colored rain toward Namimori Middle School.
I-pin averted her eyes from the sight and then glowered at the papers on her desk and sighed. She rose from her seat and stretched, stifling a yawn as she treaded to a nearby table to make tea.
Her red armband rubbed against the black of her uniform as she reached out for a cup and she wondered why she was there in the first place – why was she the disciplinary chairman of the school? She did not sign up for any club activities since it would be a distraction to her. She was striving to study hard and to work even harder for her college education – the last thing she needed was another thing to steal away her time.
But it seemed, the student council president once told her, that she was famed for her strength as a fighter. She was often seen fighting off the delinquents at school and that, apparently, sealed off her fate.
And the family seemed to agree with this, especially Tsuna. The brunet insisted that she should try to live a normal life albeit her dangerous connections. I-pin protested; what if the Millefiore attacked? People would be in grave danger. But Decimo said that the enemy wouldn't want unnecessary attention so it would be safe to carry on living her school life.
She stared at the golden embroidered characters in the scarlet cloth: 'Discipline' it said – the word that hung around that man she so admired as a child. I-pin wondered what he would say if she saw her in Nami chuu's old original black uniform with that band around her arm, patrolling the school he so loved.
"Fuuki iinchou?" A muffled voice vibrated through her ears together with three soft knocks at her door.
"Come in," She said.
A thin spectacled boy entered, his cheeks flushed with the deepest of crimson. He closed the door behind him and stepped forward, unable to look at I-pin in the eye. "I-Is there something I could do f-for you, iinchou?"
That tall, lanky, raven haired boy with thick rimmed glasses and equally sad black eyes is Matsumoto Toshiyuki, the second in command in their little committee. He's fairly weak, has a knack of breaking cups and vases, and has asthma. He's the last person you'll ever expect to end up in a committee like theirs, but that one morning when I-pin saw him standing up for himself for the first time while the usual school bullies intimidated him like they always do made her determined to recruit him.
"It's okay, Yukkun," She called him by his nickname and he instantly blushed once more. "You can go home, I can handle it."
Toshiyuki glanced briefly at her, and then maintained his gaze on the floor. "I-Inchou… I was wondering… I-If you want…"
She knew what he was about to say and smiled lightly, apologetic. "You know I can't hang out because of my part-time job, Yukkun, even for just a bit. I'm sorry…" I-pin's voice drifted away, and Toshiyuki seemed more ashamed than before.
"I could w-wait for you, iinchou…" I could wait for your shift to finish so we can walk home together, he wanted to say but didn't. His eyes looked sadder than before and I-pin started to feel guilty.
"Oh Yukkun..." She said in a feeble voice, her Chinese accent a little bit pronounced. "I cannot. I'd love to hang out with a friend," she saw him flinch for a second, "But some stuff has been happening lately… I cannot..." I cannot lose another friend to Death.
His eyebrows came together at those words, but he knew pushing her would be meaningless.
"Okay…Okay. I understand…I'll see you t-tomorrow then."
I-pin smiled but it did not quite reach her eyes.
Toshiyuki smiled back, the red on his cheeks never parting, and left, closing the door behind him with a thud.
It disgusted her so how she managed to lie to her only friend at school while keeping a straight face.
How she wanted to tell him that she's actually an assassin, a member of the Vongola, one of the most powerful Mafia family in the world. How she wanted to tell him that she began killing at the age of four; that her hands are dirty with blood and she's not as wonderful as everyone had seemed to think she was. How she wanted to scream to the world that she is not to be admired; that her intelligence, beauty, and skills are not meant to be envied because she does not deserve any praise coming from people like them; people who are normal and happy; people who don't fear the shifting shadows at the corner of their eye, people who don't fear that someone is out to murder them in cold blood.
She believes that she deserves to be feared and avoided by these people because she's a killer. She's not the kind, smart, cute little disciplinary chairman of Nami Middle everyone had dubbed her to be.
Maybe she was fooling herself when she chose to live like everybody else, even though the blood splattered on her dainty white fingers was as clear as day.
A loud bang shook her insides. She shifted her gaze at her surroundings. The cup of tea she made had just made its trip to the ground with a high pitched crash.
The explosion did not register in her mind quickly as she stood there for a couple of moments, wondering if it was all just her imagination. But one single thought surfaced in her clouded mind and the next thing she knew, she was dashing out of the reception room like a madman.
Yukkun. Yukkun is in danger.
My friend, she thought bitterly. She didn't have that many friends.
She skidded to a halt as she arrived at the scene. Smoke welcomed her, making her cough. As she strode carefully forward, the outlines of torn out blocks of different sizes of concrete lying across the floor presented themselves to her; the wall they came from was no more. Electric wires were dangling like dead snakes from the ceiling; the doors and windows of a classroom opposite the blasted wall was blown out as well, some of its own walls perished with it. Chairs, tables and other flammable things caught fire but not too much as to be alarmed; they were scattered as if a thief had rummaged over them.
Out of nowhere, the sprinkler system went on, soaking everything in water except the worst damaged areas. The exposed wires flickered menacingly, taunting her eyes with hot blue and sometimes orange sparks.
I-pin froze, shock taking the better of her.
They came after all.
"Yukkun!" She shouted on the top of her lungs, running at the opposite direction and almost slipping, then halting to turn at a corner. She jumped down the stairs on to the second floor and –
Another explosion shook the entire building, and now it occurred on the left side of the school. I-pin stared wide-eyed, her mind running in circles –
And then another one blasted through the right wing, and she saw the entire third level eaten by flames, and then –
A distant bang flooded the atmosphere, and I-pin rushed to a glassless window, her black uniform now soaking wet, and saw the gymnasium burning, with a large gaping hole on its roof.
Her breath quickened deliberately; the shock of seeing her school destroyed before her eyes stunned her. She had not seen the school trashed like this, not after the Battle of the Rings took place years ago.
"Enjoying the fireworks, I see?"
I-pin's eyes averted her eyes to her left.
"Quite beautiful," Said the man with long, black hair which was tied in a tight ponytail. He had beady black eyes, much like I-pin's. He was wearing loose white long sleeved Chinese-styled clothes and on his chest, the symbol of the Millefiore was embroidered in gold. "Don't you agree?"
I-pin did not look at his eyes but at his hands, which had healed burned marks.
"I am Cheng Lei." He said in a voice that suggested he was Chinese. "Do you remember me?"
I-pin did not steer. "You shouldn't have come here, Lei."
Lei's raven black eyes narrowed. "I don't like your tone, Yipin."
"Where did you take him?"
Lei blinked and cocked his head to one side, as if mocking her.
"I killed him."
Those three words were enough to make her insides squirm.
"NO!" She bellowed; her face now pale, her eyes prickly, with tears pouring out of them. She pictured Yukkun staring blankly with the light gone in his eyes as he lay in the pool of his own blood; the mere thought of it felt so revolting for she haven't had the chance to tell him the truth.
It was too late to be sorry, too late to be a true friend.
"You don't think I'd show mercy to that boy, do you? I'm afraid our Master had imparted too much of his views in you."
"Don't you dare call him Master! Don't you dare mention him!" She shouted so loud that her voice echoed with in the deserted hallways, together with the silent chatter of the water pouring out of the sprinklers. "TRAITOR!"
Mao stared blankly at her.
"Call me whatever you want, little Yipin. But I am not here to argue with you about anything." He pulled a twelve inch metal stick from his sleeve and gave in a firm grip and it lengthened considerably, reaching Lei's height. He held it in one hand and rested its end on the floor. A jet of green flames burst out of the tip, forming a blade-like structure; it's over all form taking in the appearance of a naginata.
"I am here for murder."
I-pin glared at him in pure wrath as she assumed her fighting stance. Another explosion was heard – it was on the first floor of the left wing.
"I will kill you." She spat out and cursed him in their mother tongue as the building shook lightly once more.
Lei laughed mirthlessly.
"I'm glad we agree on something similar."
Then he launched at her like a bullet, his weapon aimed at her – aimed to kill.
He was fast, faster than I-pin anticipated him to be; one moment she dodges, one moment she strikes hard, but Lei's lightning flame blade caught her arm before she could jump away.
She retreated a few paces and clutched her left arm as scarlet liquid began to snake its way down and in between her fingers. Water washed down her form, forming a scarlet colored puddle on the ground. Her sleeve got torn in the process; her red armband was now in Lei's hand.
"Discipline, eh?" The Chinese man spat some blood, and it too, got washed down, and examined the cloth with fake curiosity. "How admirable."
I-pin tore her other sleeve and wrapped it around her cut and stood firm once more. That mere word reminded her of her friend once again, making her heart writhe in pain. "Where is Yukkun?"
Lei raised a slender eyebrow. "So that's the name of that poor pathetic boy… He's already dead, didn't I tell you?"
"Where is he?" Tears fell down her cheeks almost instantly, but Lei didn't notice.
"He's probably blown up by now," He said casually, assuming his stance, "I ordered my men to place him beside the bomb on the first floor, so his family won't be bothered where to rest the body."
Lei's thin lips curled as he saw I-pin's terrified reaction.
"YOU BASTARD!" She wailed, charging at him with all her strength.
It was a fierce fight – a battle of body against weapon. One received massive bruises while the other bled profusely from the cuts. Though evenly matched in terms of skill, bearing a weapon had its advantages.
"I'll tell you something, little Yipin," He mumbled hoarsely, "It may be the Anti-Trinisette rays that had weakened Fon so greatly, but," he paused to drink in her outraged reaction, "It was me who murdered him. Lord Byakuran let me do the honour of ending his pitiful, cursed life. You could have seen him crawl away from me – you could have seen his eyes – pleading for me not to kill him."
"LIES!" I-pin shouted, her eyes wide in fury. "Master would never beg for your mercy!"
The man laughed once more, his voice a little broken. "Think what you want to think! It's the truth!"
With this, I-pin sped her way toward him once more, fuelled to see his blood spilled on her own hands. Lei tried to slash her face but I-pin was faster – she kicked his wrist so violently a snap resounded in the air.
He cried in pain, making him loosen his grip on his weapon. I-pin grabbed it, and as quickly as the metal hit her skin, the green flame blade had vanished. A red, angry storm flame surged out from the tip, forming a longer, brighter, and more vicious flame blade.
Lei yelled curses and clutched his broken wrist, his face contorting into something mad as he staggered back to avoid I-pin's unrelenting attacks. "You think stealing that thing from – from me would make you win? All you know is hand-to-hand combat! You can't fool –"
I-pin's grip on the silver metal tightened and made an upward, slashing move. Lei barely escaped the cut. As he stumbled back, he felt razor sharp pain tearing his skin as his lip was cut precisely in the middle together with his nose. He did not yell but made a high gurgling noise as he clutched his face in agony.
"Master taught me other forms of combat, unlike you." She assumed a new stance, quite different from Lei's. She watched intently as crimson fluid spilled and soiled the white of his clothes toward the lightly flooded floor, spreading like ink on parchment.
The exhilaration of the sight was irresistible.
"I'll cut you to fine pieces and make you unrecognizable so that your comrades won't be bothered where to bury your scum-worth's body."
Lei's eyes were completely round as he backed away. "Howe deyr ye –"
"You are not allowed to speak, you filth!" She spat out as the red flame on the blade increased and she bounded forward once again, cutting him and not missing once. Lei turned to run away, but I-pin swayed the naginata and it was long enough to reach him and cut the tendons of his feet. He staggered down ungracefully, water splashing slightly at his fall.
I-pin brushed off the dark strands of her hair that got loose from her long twin braids. She stepped forward slowly – ignoring the stabbing pain on her lacerated flesh and the pounding blood in her head – this was the moment she's been waiting for so long, for her to avenge her beloved Master and her dear friend –
She kicked him on the side so that he lied face up, so that he could look at her.
"You shouldn't have some here, Lei." She repeated in their mother tongue, and raised the metal so that the flame blade hovered just above his chest. She pictured herself stabbing the space between each of his ribs, penetrating his lungs so that he would bleed and drown in his own blood. She could almost smell the sickening scent of burning skin when her blade would dive deep in his flesh, like that day when he duelled her Master inside that burning temple.
Lei choked and gazed at her almond shaped eyes and threw his arms forward to shield himself, but I-pin slashed at his joints and as soon as he knew it his upper limbs were as useless as his feet.
I-pin did not say anything and lifted her arms and then –
At the corner of her eye she saw something silver gleam, and on instinct she swung her arm to block it.
A tonfa spun toward the right and hit the wall with a distinct clang.
Hibari was holding the other tonfa on his left hand as he gazed back into I-pin's eyes – eyes that were wide, wild, and manically thirsty for murder. The cloud guardian stared at her from head to toe fleetingly, noting the blood smeared on her porcelain white skin – blood that is both hers and not.
I-pin's chest heaved frantically while her hands trembled. "Stay out of this."
Hibari began pacing leisurely toward her, digesting her tone earlier. It was the first time she had not been polite with him. "While it is true that that man is responsible for defiling almost three-fourths of the school," He began, and I-pin made the slightest frown and Lei's eyes shot wide in alarm, "I cannot let you soil it any further. I don't remember the school rules having an exception for committing murder."
"This dirt," I-pin glared at her former senpai and turned back to Hibari, "This insignificant piece of trash – he killed – killed my friend! He killed my Master!"
"When I held your position," Grey orbs eyed her lightly, "I upheld my pride."
I-pin's breathing did not change as she locked gazes with the cloud guardian.
"I don't think your Master would be pleased to see your face like that as you carried on bearing vengeance."
It was only then that I-pin realized the sprinkler system had stopped working; that the sky was almost dark – she had lost track of time. Her murky eyes drifted to somewhere else – anywhere but Kyoya's eyes, and what stared back at her felt like white hot metal against flesh.
She had the slightest trace of smile on her face.
I-pin felt like she was falling. The faint grin had now vanished, her lip was trembling and the pain went back to her; that unmistakable feeling – the anguish brought by her Master's death and a friend's untimely departure. It was the feeling of helplessness; of weakness. She was powerless.
She felt like she could break any minute.
Hot salty tears spilled down without warning and she felt the weapon that would have murdered the student Fon once had was now gone from her grasp. Large hands steered her away from Lei and she felt so disgusted from herself that she wanted to strip off her skin.
"But…My Master…Gone! I cannot… just let it be…" She mumbled and put her hands on her face, and she looked like a broken Japanese doll in Hibari's grip. "My friend, Toshiyuki… I never had…Never had the chance…It's all my fault…"
Kyoya didn't say anything and coxed her away, holding her by the arm and resting her on a pillar.
"Never coming back…"She muttered under sobs, and she didn't notice Kusakabe and his men come. The cloud guardian's right-hand ordered to move Lei's body to a stretcher, and was taken away. "I should have…Master…I'm so sorry..."
Kusakabe frowned at the sight of the girl who once visited the reception room every Valentine's Day, clutching handmade chocolates to her heart as she skipped forward, offering her love and smiles to them. He looked at Kyoya who was simply staring at the girl with a curious look on his face – something he never had seen before.
Perhaps, it was pity.
"Kyo-san," Testu blurted out in a way that it seemed that he didn't want to talk, "I… I already informed them…Sasagawa said he'd come…Should we bring her back to…?"
Kyoya's eyes lingered at I-pin for a moment, then turned to face him.
He shook his head lightly, as if to say not yet.
Kusakabe felt a prickly sensation on his eyes as he nodded feverishly, a deep frown embedding on his face. "Alright… Alright." He didn't dare to speak directly to I-pin, scared that something might happen – scared that something might shatter inside her.
Her wails and cries echoed in the empty hallways for seemed a long time, and her tears were not ending. Her eyes were already puffy and red as she leaned on that pillar, her nails digging on her bent knees at every sob.
And soon not one ray of light was present in the sky anymore. Everything was dim but one can still see through the darkness.
"Kyo-san…" Kusakabe averted his gaze to the windows.
A distant siren was ringing in the chilly air. Kyoya sighed inaudibly.
He bent on one knee to match I-pin's level, and took her arm, pulling her up. She was cold and still very wet and pale, and he noticed that she was shivering.
"You cannot stay here." He said in a clear, definite voice.
"But…My friend…He is here…I cannot leave…It's all my fault…" She muttered in response as she stared blankly at him, frame swaying as she stood. Her eyes were wet and red and looked as if something had vanished from it.
Kusakabe turned away. Kyoya turned a deaf ear on her words and lifted her from the ground, carrying her like a bride. She grasped the cloth of his shirt and mumbled still, tears pouring silently.
"Gone…I'm so sorry…Please…"
And they walked out of the destroyed Namimori Middle School.
A/N: Lots of drama.
Well, what led me to this idea is that TYL I-pin had told everybody once that she left the 'business', which implies that she wanted to be normal, for once.
In the future arc, Fon was nowhere to be found, except that he was last sighted in China (I don't know if this is accurate, but that's what I remember, and I'm just too lazy to check) and most probably, he too, suffered the fate of the other Arcobaleno.
I tried putting myself in I-pin's shoes for once, and if I ever found out that my master, the man who I grew up to be with; the one who taught me and made me to what I am; the person who I treated like a parent – died, – I would crack. I would be broken. But I-pin might not be, not so easily, since she grew up facing death, but sooner or later…Humans are humans, yes?
Right. Yeah… I don't know if Hibari is IC. It's so difficult to write him properly, since I ship Hibapin. I don't know. You tell me. But yes, a very very very very light Hibapin here. Just barely. Not too much to be pedo-ish.
And naginata is a pole-like weapon with a medium sized blade at its tip. Google away.
Let me know what you think 'kay?
Reviews are loved. ^^ Criticisms are highly valued.
Thank you for reading.