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I had to rush to finish this. :( I apologize for its roughness. Written for [livejournal.com profile] khrfest, the prompt was: "Rokudou/Hibari - nurture; Hibari babysits the newly-released Rokudou while he recuperates."

And of course you should go look at this gorgeous fanart for this fic (and the same prompt for [livejournal.com profile] khrfest) drawn by [livejournal.com profile] nonoji, over here! Thank you for such fantastic art!

Things That Can't Be Caught
Katekyo Hitman Reborn
Mukuro/Hibari



"No," Hibari had said, and "Absolutely not," and "I'll bite you dead, Sawada Tsunayoshi," but none of it had changed the Tenth Vongola's mind. The useless, nervous boy had turned into an infernally stubborn man.

Hibari had half a mind to kill Rokudo Mukuro in his sleep, out of pure spite at Tsuna's ridiculous decisions.

Kusakabe had tentatively tried to convince Hibari that it wasn't actually that bad a decision, that it really kind of made sense. Hibari's base was the most well-hidden, he had the fewest employees and the tightest control over them. No one would dare let slip the location of the Vongola's Mist Guardian, so he would have enough time to recover from his long stay in prison, away from the problems that Tsuna knew would arise with his release.

And, of course, if he tried to backstab them, Hibari - the strongest of the Vongola Guardians - would be there to stop him.

It made sense.

Hibari had still immediately fired Kusakabe (and re-hired him three minutes later when he discovered his tea had gone cold and he needed a new cup). He didn't care what kind of good reasons there were, he didn't want Mukuro in his base.

But Sawada wouldn't budge, and Hibari couldn't intimidate him so easily anymore, and that's how Rokudo Mukuro ended up living with Hibari Kyoya.

***

The first few days weren't so bad. Mukuro slept nearly the whole time, without even enough energy to leave the room he'd been given, and Hibari could pretend that he had no unwanted houseguest.

Of course, he didn't take care of Mukuro himself, either. That was what his men were for, and it seemed as if Kusakabe had accepted the task. Hibari approved. Kusakabe was still the most competent of them, not that Hibari cared what happened to Mukuro. It was just easier not having to worry about things.

So for a couple days, Hibari ignored Mukuro's presence almost completely.

But even someone like him could get curious. Hibari hadn't seen Rokudo Mukuro in the flesh in ten years, after all.

Three days after Mukuro arrived, Hibari went to see him. It was nearly midnight, and the halls were dark and empty as Hibari strode through them, only the dim emergency lighting still on. Mukuro's room was dark, too, and the man was fast asleep.

Hibari didn't wake him up - he had no desire to talk to Mukuro. He lingered in the doorway, light from the hallways just barely illuminating Mukuro's sleeping face.

He looked... young. Maybe it was simply the effect of sleep's relaxation, but Mukuro looked younger, kinder, more innocent than he really was. It was an illusion of innocence, Hibari knew, but it still felt strange. Mukuro looked odd without a smirk, a condescending laugh curling his lip, that knowing look in his eyes.

It was much easier to appreciate Mukuro's beauty when Mukuro wasn't pissing him off. And Mukuro's prison-sent illusions hadn't lied - he'd been more or less attractive as a boy, but as a man... well, he'd grown into rather striking good looks.

Hibari frowned and turned away. He didn't know why he'd come. It was a waste of time, nothing more.

***

Kusakabe kept him updated on Mukuro's condition, reporting every morning. Hibari generally ignored him, but Kusakabe was used to that - he just kept talking. Hibari did pick out the important bits, though, as he always did - Mukuro was recovering faster than any human should, considering he'd been locked away for ten years. It wasn't really a surprise. Hibari was fairly certain that Mukuro could have recovered even more quickly if he'd needed to, and it was a luxury in and of itself that he had this time to spare.

One morning, though, Kusakabe paused after the report was finished, shifting somewhat uneasily where he sat. A few minutes ticked by before Hibari got tired of waiting and said, "What?"

"Well," Kusakabe said, clearing his throat uncomfortably, "you told us all to go out today. There's that trade with the Yamaguchi group, and I'll be taking point..."

"Yes, and?" Hibari said. He remembered, and he needed his men there - the Yamaguchi group didn't rate a visit from Hibari himself, but they were unpredictable enough that the rest of the former Disciplinary Committee were necessary in case they got out of line.

"And that means I won't be here to bring Mukuro lunch," Kusakabe said reluctantly.

Hibari fixed him with a sharp look and let him squirm for a moment before he finally said, "Fine. I'll do it."

Surprised, Kusakabe started to say, "Really?" but stopped himself, clearly remembering the rules of working for Hibari. (Rule Number 1: It is far more dangerous and stupid to question Hibari than it is to simply obey him.) Instead, he just nodded and told Hibari the food would be prepared in advance.

Hibari didn't think about it for the rest of the morning, not until he'd had his own lunch. Then he considered letting Mukuro starve until his men returned. In the end, though, Hibari retrieved the meal from the kitchens - soup, carefully covered to stay warm - and brought it to Mukuro's room.

It was only the second time he'd gone there, but of course it was the first time while Mukuro was awake. It wasn't as if Hibari was nervous or anything, it was just the first time they'd spoken in the flesh in ten years - he didn't know what to expect.

Not much, it turned out. Mukuro was still weak, confined to bed rest for awhile longer, and not yet up to his old tricks. He did look somewhat surprised when Hibari came in, but he smiled. "Long time no see," he said. "Is it lunchtime already?"

Hibari frowned. "Were you asleep? Eat something." He'd be the first to admit that he didn't have the best bedside manner, but Mukuro just looked amused. He deposited the tray on Mukuro's lap - job completed. Was he supposed to wait here and bring the empty dishes back? How pointless.

"I actually didn't expect you to come at all," Mukuro said. "I figured I'd be going hungry today."

He lifted the spoon, and Hibari grabbed his hand just in time to keep him from spilling it all over himself. Mukuro's hand was shaking, and the visible evidence of just how weak he was felt... strange. Hibari was used to the Mukuro who only showed his weakness by disappearing, retreating to his faraway body, and even that was rare.

Scowling, he took the spoon away before Mukuro made a mess. "You can't even feed yourself? Stupid herbivore. I should let you starve." Except that he didn't really want to. Somehow, seeing Mukuro so weak didn't just disgust him as he'd expected. It felt wrong, not like Mukuro at all. Something deep inside Hibari reacted to that, and as much as he disliked Mukuro, he felt like it would be even worse to simply leave him like this. Mukuro was strong, should be strong.

Besides, if Mukuro never recovered, how could Hibari completely crush him? It wouldn't be nearly as satisfying if the illusionist wasn't at his full strength.

Mukuro was watching him, and his eyes widened when Hibari scooped up a spoonful of soup. "You're going to feed me?" He sounded like he couldn't quite believe it either, and there was laughter bubbling behind his words.

"Eat," Hibari ordered, spoon held to Mukuro's lips. "And if you say anything else, I will shove this spoon down your throat and let you choke to death."

Mukuro ate, and Hibari chose to ignore the little smile that never quite disappeared.

***

They didn't really talk, and Hibari decided it wasn't so bad. Kusakabe seemed shocked, upon his return, to discover that Hibari had in fact made sure that Mukuro ate. Hibari graciously ignored his reaction, even though it irritated him to realize that no one had thought him capable of acting like a human being.

But it wasn't long before Hibari realized that being an invalid did not agree with Mukuro, and that the man was taking steps to amuse himself however he could - which naturally meant annoying Hibari.

Kusakabe came to him the next day and uncomfortably confessed that Mukuro had refused to eat unless Hibari came to help him. At first, Hibari responded with a flat refusal - Mukuro could just starve, then. There was no point in rewarding bad behavior.

He should have known that Mukuro would be stubborn, though. He didn't given in, and eventually Hibari got bored and tired of Kusakabe's hesitant reports that Mukuro wasn't eating yet. It hadn't been so bad before, and anyway Tsuna had asked Hibari to find out some things about Mukuro's rings. He might as well kill two birds with one stone.

So he brought Mukuro's lunch for a few more days. Mukuro was surprisingly well-behaved, answering Hibari's questions and not causing trouble beyond his insistence that Hibari be the one to help him eat.

It made Hibari suspicious.

Mukuro was no longer so pale and weak, which should have made Hibari even more suspicious, except that he was distracted by trying to figure out what Mukuro was planning. It wasn't until one day, and a slight slip of the hand, that he realized.

Jostling the lunch tray while setting it down, Hibari accidentally let the spoon fall - and Mukuro's hand caught it before it hit the blanket, an instinctive movement. Hibari stared at him, eyes narrowing.

"Oops," Mukuro said, sounding more cheerful at being found out than he had any right to be.

Hibari tried to figure out how long Mukuro had been faking weakness. Since the beginning? And what the hell for? It couldn't just be so Hibari would feed him - but then he realized, looking at Mukuro's amused face, that that was exactly why.

"Feed yourself," he growled, wanting nothing more than to wipe that grin off Mukuro's smug face.

"But Kyoya," Mukuro said, "you make such a good nurse."

Hibari calmly upended the bowl of soup on Mukuro's head, then turned and walked from the room.

He could still hear Mukuro's laughter behind him, slightly soupier but otherwise unchanged.

***

Kusakabe did not approve of Hibari's treatment of a recovering invalid, no matter how certain Hibari was that Mukuro had deserved it. After that, though, Mukuro did start feeding himself - he even showed the extent of his recuperation by going for short walks. They never lasted long (something about muscle atrophy, Hibari didn't care about the details except that the Vongola doctors were apparently amazed Mukuro could even walk), but Hibari's men began to get used to the sight of the Mist Guardian relaxing in the kitchen, the library, or making his careful way down the hallway.

Hibari himself generally did his best to ignore Mukuro when they met, but that became more difficult after Mukuro developed the annoying habit of coming to bother Hibari.

To be completely honest - which Hibari would never do outside of his own head - it actually wasn't all that annoying. Mukuro didn't even speak to him the first few times, just wandering in while Hibari was working, settling himself on the tatami floor, and sipping tea Kusakabe brought him.

He listened in on some of the reports Hibari received, and while that was bothersome, there wasn't actually anything wrong with it. Mukuro was a Vongola guardian as well, after all, and none of the information Hibari received that way was top secret. In a way, having him there helped - Mukuro had something of a reputation, after all, and his mismatched eyes locked on someone made them nervous, more willing to spill extra information.

After some time of that, Mukuro would leave again, often without saying a word the entire time. Hibari could almost forget he was there. Almost.

When Mukuro did start making conversation, it still wasn't as bad as it could have been. He mostly talked about business - asking for details on one of the reports he'd heard, dropping tidbits of information here and there.

It was quickly obvious that Mukuro was already 'working' again - leaving his recovering body behind in the room Hibari had given him and visiting Chrome or one of the others he had a contract with. He knew too much about Vongola activities, more than he could get from Hibari alone.

Hibari wasn't inclined to stop him. Certainly, it was against doctor's orders - Mukuro was supposed to rest and exercise his muscles, nothing more, and Mukuro's trips 'outside' were surely draining his energy - but Hibari was also certain that if he tried to enforce the doctor's orders, Mukuro would just use his excess energy in another scheme designed to piss Hibari off.

Besides, Mukuro was good at what he did, and the information he gave Hibari nearly always proved useful. Even so... somewhere in the back of his mind, Hibari knew he was waiting for the shoe to drop. Mukuro would do something, he was sure of it.

But he didn't.

A few days passed before Hibari discovered why.

Mukuro had joined him once again, lounging in a borrowed yukata next to him (though not too close, thankfully). They'd heard a report, an update on the cold war going on with one of the Vongola's rival families - nothing serious, but with the potential to become so if necessary, and the thing Hibari had been focusing on recently. They'd heard plenty of reports from the men he'd send out. After this man had left, Mukuro had idly mentioned that he'd heard a few things as well, which Hibari had strangely gotten used to. And it was good, what Mukuro had, information on weapons trading and drug running operations, areas they hadn't been able to spy on yet.

Hibari was reading the files he'd been brought, putting pieces together. He'd launch a preemptive strike, perhaps, wipe out one of their independent cells. Send a message without leaving any proof. They were encroaching on Vongola territory, and while he wasn't the subtle type, he could clean up after himself. They'd know who did it without the proof. Tsuna wouldn't like it, softhearted as he still was, but that was why Hibari operated on his own.

"Mukuro," he said, breaking the silence that had fallen over the past half hour, "how many men did you say there were working out of Mumbai?"

There was no response. Hibari looked over to see Mukuro fast asleep, dead to the world. His head rested on his arm and his long hair was falling in his face, but Hibari saw again what he had seen before - youth, vulnerability, things that, in reality, Mukuro didn't have at all. It bothered him.

More than that, though, Mukuro just looked... tired.

Hibari was not one to feel guilty over anything, and certainly not over this. But he did feel... something strange when he realized that Mukuro had been working when he should be recovering, to the point where he tired himself out this much, to the point where he fell asleep right next to Hibari, a man who he was always on his guard around.

What Mukuro did was his own choice. But Hibari had allowed it to happen and had profited off it when he was supposed to be overseeing Mukuro's recovery.

There was a sound at the doorway, and Kusakabe entered with another batch of files. "These are the bank records you asked for, it looks like that company really is just a front organization, and -" His voice withered and died suddenly, and Hibari only then realized that he'd fixed Kusakabe with a vicious glare, even colder than usual.

But really, Kusakabe should have seen that Mukuro was sleeping and kept quiet, since he was the one who was always so concerned about how Mukuro was doing.

Hibari had no desire to look at it any more deeply than that.

"Leave the files here," Hibari said quietly, once he was certain that Mukuro had not stirred. Kusakabe nodded and did so, and Hibari very deliberately ignored the look of disbelief in his eyes.

An hour later, Mukuro woke up. They didn't talk about it.

***

After that, things were more relaxed somehow. Hibari didn't pretend to know what was going on in Mukuro's head (he imagined gates engraved with 'Abandon all hope, ye who enter'), but it seemed like Mukuro was more comfortable - or maybe just less tired. He'd been scolded by one of the Vongola doctors (Hibari hadn't told them because he was worried about Mukuro or anything, they simply asked him for updates and he hadn't seen a reason to keep Mukuro's activities secret), and forced to rest rather than 'work' for a few days, but whatever the reason, the atmosphere was different when Mukuro joined him one day after the bedrest order had been lifted.

He made himself comfortable next to Hibari, just a tiny bit too close, and Hibari was certain that Mukuro had mastered the rules of personal space just so that he'd find it easier to piss people off like this. Sitting a little too close, but not close enough to be obviously in the way. Sitting close enough so his loose hair brushed Hibari's arm when he moved in a certain way, but not close enough to bump into him.

It was extremely distracting.

"Move," Hibari said finally, gritting his teeth and locking away the impulse to just force Mukuro to move.

"I'm comfortable here," Mukuro said, his voice amused. Hibari didn't bother to look at him, he knew Mukuro would be smiling.

"I don't care. Move, or I'll bite you to death," Hibari said, narrowing his eyes and staring at the papers in front of him, though he couldn't concentrate well enough to read a word of them.

"Promises, promises," Mukuro laughed, and turned slightly towards Hibari. "You haven't bitten me to death yet, and I've been waiting. At this rate I'll start thinking you don't even want to anymore."

Hibari steadfastly did not turn to look at Mukuro. He wouldn't give him the pleasure - Mukuro obviously wanted the attention. "When you're recovered, we'll fight." He left the rest unsaid, certain that Mukuro would understand - that he was to weak to enjoy beating right now.

"That's fine," Mukuro said, and then he had the gall to reach out and catch Hibari's chin, turning Hibari's face towards him. Apparently if Hibari did not give his attention, Mukuro would simply reach out and take it. Hibari's initial reaction (violence) was arrested by the strangely soft feeling of Mukuro's touch on his skin, and he watched Mukuro, wondering what he thought he was doing.

"We can do that sometime soon, but I don't want to fight right now," Mukuro said, and smiled at him. "I'd rather repay you for taking care of me so kindly." His fingers traced a fiery line slowly down Hibari's jawline, his neck.

Oh. So that's what he thought he was doing.

"I'm not interested," Hibari said, though for some reason he couldn't tear his eyes away from the pale skin revealed at the neck of Mukuro's yukata. "You'd just pass out in the middle anyway."

"I'm not that weak," Mukuro said, and his hand suddenly tightened around Hibari's neck. He moved, pushing Hibari down against the tatami, leaning over him, much too close.

Hibari couldn't hold back the slight, feral grin that crept onto his face. Mukuro was still weak - he could tell that much, he wasn't moving as quickly or as strongly as he could - but apparently now that he'd actually rested he was much stronger than Hibari had thought.

They could fight. Or...

He moved, gripping Mukuro's wrist tightly and pushing him over, slamming Mukuro's shoulders to the floor. Not a gentle man, Hibari was gratified to see that Mukuro didn't mind at all, and when Hibari bent down and kissed him hard, Mukuro returned it with equal passion, biting his bottom lip sharply.

Neither of them passed out.

***

When Hibari woke up the next morning, Mukuro was gone.

In its own way, it wasn't a surprise. He hadn't expected Mukuro to stick around for much longer anyway, since it was no secret that Mukuro hated being under the thumb of the Vongola. He'd stay in contact with Tsunayoshi through Chrome or someone else, and - judging from the night before - he was recovered enough to not need medical supervision.

But it still pissed him off. Mukuro had snuck off before they'd been able to fight (it was the only reason he would ever be angry over such a thing, he was sure). He sent word to the Vongola base of Mukuro's disappearance, and went to his office, irritated and fully ready to take it out on whoever got in his way

There, resting on his low desk, was a perfectly folded origami owl. It covered a brief note, scrawled in Mukuro's handwriting, that simply read - See you soon.

Hibari sat, took the note, and tore it into tiny pieces. He felt better.

He kept the owl.

Date: 2010-01-07 12:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nonoji.livejournal.com
Woo~

Finally read the whole thing and I LOVE it! The last bit reminded me of Tsukimi a little which is always good.

I've posted my entry and linked this fic, and when I crossupload my art over at Deviantart, I plan to put a link to here as well. Is that okay?

Seriously, standing ovation fic! Wonderful~!

Date: 2010-01-07 12:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] asael.livejournal.com
Yay! That makes me happy. And it was starting to remind me a little of Tsukimi too. XD Though I hope it's different enough!

Of course, you're welcome to link wherever you want. I added a link to your art in this post and I'll link it from my [livejournal.com profile] khrfest post as well. Thank you so much!

Date: 2010-01-07 12:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pectus-pectoris.livejournal.com
You.

You make me fall for this pairing deeper and harder. Every time. ♥

There are so many bits that I just adore. I love Hibari brushing off his feelings as relevant interest and not anything else. I love how he views Mukuro... Mukuro was strong, should be strong... and wanting to crush him at his strongest, that is so Hibari.

Loved the part where he glared at Kusakabe for talking loudly, ehehehe!

And the origami, aww, he kept it! xD Beautifully written. I love it! \O/

Date: 2010-01-08 09:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] asael.livejournal.com
I love this pairing so much, so it always makes me happy to share the love. ♥ Thank you for reading, as always.

Hibari will remain in denial for as long as he can, I think, but Mukuro will gloat whenever he finally gives in to what is SO obvious. Even Kusakabe knows now! XD

Date: 2010-01-07 04:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] king-oz.livejournal.com
Oh man... I stupidly read this during my class and had to fight to keep from giggling in the middle of it. Ha ha...
I swear you stole this straight from my head. This is exactly what I was thinking when I prompted this. <3

The world needs more MukuHiba.

Date: 2010-01-08 09:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] asael.livejournal.com
Yay, that makes me happy! I'm glad I could fulfill the prompt so well, I really had fun writing this. XD And yes, I totally agree. The world always needs more Mukuhiba!

Date: 2010-01-07 05:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kyraensui.livejournal.com
♥ Awww.. It makes me want to make an owl origami. So cute!

Date: 2010-01-08 09:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] asael.livejournal.com
You should do it. Name it Mukuro and color its eyes. XD Thank you!

Date: 2010-01-07 10:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zahho-mii.livejournal.com
Baww the owl origami was a nice touch! 8D And Mukuro here was ever such a kid who bullies (or seduces?) the nurses ahaha.

...YOUR KUSAKABE. <333333

Date: 2010-01-08 09:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] asael.livejournal.com
I think it's just that he had such a tempting nurse. XD Though he'd probably be a handful for anyone to take care of.

POOR KUSAKABE. He never gets a break. He's such a good minion, too!

Date: 2010-01-11 03:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] leponier.livejournal.com
Wonderful fic!

Date: 2010-01-19 01:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] splashie-xyt.livejournal.com
That was gorgeous. x3

Date: 2010-03-07 07:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] azurecerulean.livejournal.com
fluff + angst = ♥

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