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Okay! This was prompted by [livejournal.com profile] zahho_mii: what if Hibari was a normal citizen and Mukuro still lived in the mafia world? Thank you for the awesome prompt, I hope this lives up to it.

Paths Untaken
Katekyo Hitman Reborn
Hibari/Mukuro



They meet for the first time at the small locally-owned coffee shop near Hibari’s workplace. It’s popular among his coworkers and the other salarymen who work in neighboring buildings, so it’s often crowded after work as people take a break and try to avoid the crowded rush hour trains, but it’s either that or canned coffee from the vending machine. Hibari considers canned coffee to be an affront to nature.

It’s not so bad, really, since most people give him a wide berth. Hibari has been perfecting his standoffish presentation since grade school, and as a result he always get a table to himself when he wants one. A simple look at anyone who dares to ask if he would be willing to share is usually enough to make them stammer an apology and back away.

Naturally, it doesn’t go that way the day they meet. If it had, Mukuro would have gone in and out of Hibari’s life with barely a passing thought.

“Do you mind if I sit here?” someone asks as Hibari is perusing the business section of the paper. He looks up with that steady, cold gaze and meets mismatched eyes that make him blink, mismatched eyes that narrow in amusement.

“Thank you,” the man says without waiting for an answer, and sits. Hibari tenses, radiates irritation, but does nothing. Years ago, when he was a student, something like that would have ended in confrontation - a confrontation that Hibari would have won, naturally. But he’s years away from those kinds of childish activities. He’s an adult, with adult responsibilities, and that means no fighting.

Though Hibari bristles and glares and makes it clear that he wants no one infringing upon the precious space of his table, the rude foreign man with mismatched eyes skillfully ignores him, drinking coffee and gazing out the window at the people who pass by.

Hibari props his paper between them, a thin barrier that somehow doesn’t help him ignore that irritating presence at all. He can’t relax, can’t enjoy his usual evening ritual. Minutes pass as he attempts to pretend there is no one else at his table.

Suddenly the man stands, glances out the window one last time and then smiles down at Hibari. “See you around.”

Hibari watches him leave. What the hell was that, he thinks. He couldn’t have finished his drink so quickly, and Hibari didn’t hear him get a call or anything. On top of that, now that Hibari is looking, there are other open tables in the coffee shop - so why his?

Unanswered questions irritate him, and he folds the paper into a crisp neat rectangle and stands. What a waste of an evening, he thinks, and goes home with a bad taste in his mouth.

***

He sees the man more often after that - or maybe it’s simply that he notices him more often. One would think it would be difficult to not notice a tall, striking foreigner with an odd hairstyle and mismatched eyes, but this strange man seems to have a talent for blending in even when he shouldn’t be able to.

Hibari never passes him on the street, never runs into him in the lobby of his building, never sees him buying tickets at the train station. He only ever sees him at the coffee shop, standing in line or at the register or lounging at a table near the front windows. Hibari tries to ignore him, tries to not care, but it’s impossible.

Finally, one day he finds himself in line behind the man. Before he can think about it, Hibari is clearing his throat, narrowing his eyes, and the man turns to look at him. What comes out, rather than small talk, is this: “Who are you?”

It’s nothing less than completely rude, demanding answers of a man he’s barely even met before. But Hibari, though older and wiser and more mature all around, still carries remnants of his school years, years during which he enforced complete discipline and had students and teachers running from him in fear. Sometimes he has no patience for the niceties of the adult world of long work hours and demanding bosses in which he’s found himself.

The man only laughs, to all appearances amused rather than surprised or offended. “Mukuro. Who are you?”

It’s not really an answer, but it’s a name, at least. Hibari’s frown deepens, but he answers. “Hibari Kyoya.”

“Well, Hibari Kyoya,” Mukuro says with a smile, “it’s nice to meet you.”

***

Hibari watches Mukuro. He doesn’t bother to hide it - somehow Hibari knows that would be useless. As casual as Mukuro appears, Hibari is sure that he is utterly aware of everything that happens around him. It’s something about the way he carries himself, something Hibari can’t quite place but that screams ‘predator’. A refreshing change from the crowds of suit-clad salarymen Hibari finds himself around all day, men with nothing on their mind but stocks and status reports and office memos.

So he watches Mukuro. Mukuro doesn’t come every day, but when he does, his routine is always the same: order a mocha, sit near the window, watch the people come and go, get up and leave. Sometimes he finishes his drink and orders another, sometimes he leaves before he’s finished.

Mukuro isn’t coming for the coffee or the atmosphere. He’s waiting for something, some kind of signal or person that he sees out the window. Hibari doesn’t know what, though, and he doesn’t know why. He doesn’t know why he cares. He should be caring about his own stocks and status reports and office memos, but even during work hours he finds himself passing idle moments wondering what Mukuro does during the day, what he does after he leaves the coffee shop.

Sometimes while he’s watching Mukuro, Mukuro will glance over and smile at him. Once or twice, Mukuro buys him coffee, even though they never speak. It pisses Hibari off, but he drinks it anyway.

***

Inevitably, Hibari gives into temptation. He follows Mukuro.

It’s not difficult at first, even though Hibari can’t ignore the sneaking suspicion that Mukuro knows he’s there. When Mukuro sees whatever hidden signal he’s looking for, leaves his table and goes out into the streets, Hibari waits just long enough for some distance and then follows. He tracks Mukuro without much trouble, keeping that slim figure in view.

Mukuro doesn’t turn around or look back, seemingly intent on whoever it is he’s following - and Hibari’s sure that’s what he’s doing, now. The streets are busy at this hour, though, people on their way home from work and heading out to begin their nights, so Hibari can’t figure out who exactly Mukuro is following.

Of course, it’s not as easy as it seems. Mukuro slips down an alleyway, and though Hibari increases his pace, Mukuro is gone. Hibari curses and heads home, where it bothers him for the rest of the night.

He tries again and again, attempting to follow Mukuro to his ultimate goal or discover who it is he’s following, but he never succeeds. Hibari begins to feel like Mukuro is playing a game with him - letting him follow a little further each night, teasing him, leading him on, and then disappearing with no sign of effort.

Whatever Mukuro does - and Hibari knows it can’t be anything normal or even legal - he’s good at it. Hibari is completely, frustratingly in the dark, and it becomes something like an obsession. To find Mukuro, to discover his secrets, solve those mysteries.

His work performance suffers, but Hibari’s boss is terrified of him and says nothing. His few friends and acquaintances notice something is off but don’t know how to bring up the subject. His coworkers avoid him, aware that his mood has been deteriorating.

Hibari doesn’t care.

***

Then it ends.

Something changes, Mukuro doesn’t disappear the way Hibari has become used to. He lets Hibari follow, and follow, and follow. He realizes that they have come to the warehouse district, empty at this hour, and then, finally, he loses sight of Mukuro. It’s not because the man has disappeared around a corner, or in a crowd of people, or any of the other tricks he’s used.

It’s because there’s a fog rising, obscuring the details of the buildings and abandoned vehicles, obscuring Mukuro from view entirely. Hibari stops, those old senses from his school days coming alive again, saying one thing: danger. If he goes deeper into that mist, he’ll see things he’s not supposed to, he’ll be walking into something he isn’t prepared for, and there’s little chance he’ll come out alive.

When he was younger, Hibari would have charged in anyway. But he hasn’t touched his tonfa in years, hasn’t been that boy for a long time.

Then again, he hasn’t changed entirely, either. Because instead of turning around and leaving, heading back to the real world like any sane person would do, Hibari waits. His back to a warehouse wall (for cover, just in case), he waits and peers into the mist and listens.

He can see little more than vague moving shapes, some human-shaped and some... not. It’s the things he can hear that send a thrill down his spine, wake up old memories of fighting and send his blood rushing through his veins.

It’s the sounds of a fight. Not a brawl, nothing like that - no fists hitting flesh and cries of victory, no thrown insults or posturing. This is something much more deadly: gunshots and cries of pain, the thumps of bodies falling to the ground, screams of terror and confusion, all strangely muffled in the fog.

Hibari can’t guess from the sounds how many people are involved. All he knows is that he saw Mukuro walk in there alone, with no backup or allies, and that when the sounds end and Mukuro walks back out of the mist alone, he feels no trace of surprise.

Mukuro smiles when he sees Hibari.

“Are you satisfied?” he says.

The smirk on his face makes Hibari want to punch him. Instead he grabs the front of Mukuro’s shirt, pulls him in, and kisses him. It’s no gentle kiss. Hibari puts in it all his frustration - at Mukuro, at his job, at this boring little confined life, just like the lives of millions of others and nothing like what he’d imagined living. That frustration that he buries deep and ignores, until it’s thrown in his face by someone living a life so utterly different.

Mukuro smells like blood and tastes like coffee, and he kisses Hibari back with perfect viciousness. When they part, Mukuro laughs, and though Hibari still kind of wants to punch him in the face, there’s something else he wants much more.

“Invite me back to your place already,” Mukuro says, and Hibari scowls.

“Why should I?” he says, as if he wasn’t planning to already. Mukuro doesn’t need to know that, not with his superior attitude.

“This is the most excitement you’ve had in years, right?” Mukuro reaches out, slides his gloved fingers down Hibari’s neck slowly, his piercing eyes locked on Hibari’s as his lips twist into a cool smile. “Let me make it a little more exciting.”

The blood beats through his body, and Hibari feels that old rush he once felt in the middle of a fight. He pulls Mukuro close again, kisses him and bites his lip hard, then lets go. “Follow me.”

Mukuro laughs, and they leave the warehouse district behind them, mist settling among the buildings.

***

Hibari remembers that night for a very long time. Mukuro isn’t like anyone he’s ever been with before, he seems to have no limits and no fears, and Hibari is so used to the circumscribed world he’s lived in that he almost doesn’t know what to do.

But there’s part of him that just as much of a predator as Mukuro, even if it’s been locked away for years, and Mukuro draws it out of him without even trying. The sex is rough, passionate to the extreme, until it’s hard to tell pain from pleasure. Mukuro lets Hibari go further than anyone ever has, and responds in kind without hesitation, and sometimes it feels more like fighting than fucking - but Hibari knows that if that were the case, he would be dead in an instant.

He wonders in the back of his mind if it’s always like this with Mukuro, and for a brief moment longs for it, wants it more than he’s ever wanted anything - that thrill, that danger, that life that he can only imagine. It could have been different for him, Hibari thinks, there are so many paths untaken.

But then Hibari can’t think at all, too distracted by Mukuro and his lips and his long legs and the way he still smells like blood. It’s exactly what he needs, what he would never admit to needing.

When Hibari wakes up the next morning, Mukuro is gone. It’s not a surprise. The sheets are still rumpled and stained, there are strands of long hair on the pillow next to him, so he has proof that it happened - not that Hibari could ever have doubted that. It would be impossible to have such a vivid dream.

He gets up and makes himself breakfast, ignoring the aches and bruises, yet more proof of Mukuro’s brief intrusion into his life. Sitting at the breakfast table, Hibari reads the newspaper, eyes lighting on one article. “Gang war in warehouse district.” It has the number of dead, speculations on the cause, suppositions that the Italian mafia was involved - no facts. Even the reporter seems unwilling to look into the matter too deeply.

It’s over, then. Hibari folds the paper. He won’t see Mukuro at the coffee shop tonight, or ever again.

Hibari showers, dresses, packs his briefcase with the files he’ll need today. He doesn’t feel anything. This was how it had to end.

He goes to work as if it never happened, and tries not to remember.
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July 2011

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