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I finally finished something, I am so happy right now. Obviously, this was originally supposed to be for [livejournal.com profile] khrfest, but is extremely, extremely late by now. I really wanted to finish it instead of abandoning it, though, so I did.

The prompt was 'Hibari/Mukuro- spy au; "From Namimori with Love"'. There aren't enough spy antics in this one, so I'm considering a sequel because I clearly don't know what's good for me. Much thanks to [livejournal.com profile] nonartisan and [livejournal.com profile] vaultedthewall for being helpful and awesome.

From Namimori With Love
Katekyo Hitman Reborn
Hibari/Mukuro



Rokudo Mukuro looked different than he had in the picture in Hibari's file.

Not like a different person - no, all the features were the same, the long hair, the strange hairstyle, the strikingly blue eyes. But there was some quality that Mukuro had that couldn't be communicated in a picture, a strange confidence, something in the way he held himself and sipped his coffee.

When Tsunayoshi had asked him to take this mission and given him the file on Mukuro, of course Hibari had been annoyed. Working with people was not where his talents lay, and protecting people was not what he enjoyed. But Tsuna had insisted, saying that Hibari was his best agent and Mukuro was in too much danger to leave in anyone else's hands.

Looking at Mukuro now, in person, Hibari couldn't decide whether he hated this mission already or whether he had suddenly begun to anticipate it.

He watched as the waitress brought Mukuro a fresh cup of coffee. Mukuro wasn't too terrible at this, for an amateur - he lifted the cup for a sip, and when he saw the note beneath it his expression changed for only a brief instant. Anyone not watching him closely would have noticed no change.

Good. At least Hibari wasn't stuck with a fool, a complete innocent who would get them into even more trouble.

But after all, Mukuro had been leaking information to Tsunayoshi and his organization for years. He may not have been trained for cloak and dagger espionage, but to have survived this long meant that he must have a certain innate talent for it.

Hibari slipped out the back exit once he was sure Mukuro had read the note.

***

Thirty minutes later, he stopped his car briefly at an empty intersection far from the cafe. The door opened and Mukuro slipped in, glancing over his shoulder nervously.

"Did anyone see you?" Hibari asked, the first words he'd ever spoken to Mukuro.

"I don't think so," Mukuro said, and his voice was steadier than Hibari had expected.

It was a nice surprise, but he couldn't get complacent. "What did you do with the note?"

"Tore it up and flushed it down the toilet at the restaurant." Mukuro paused and looked at him. "Is that okay?"

"That's fine," Hibari said tersely, and as he drove through the narrow streets he could feel Mukuro's eyes on him. He ignored it - Mukuro could stare all he wanted, Hibari had a job to do and he wouldn't let distractions get in the way. They'd be hitting traffic soon, Hong Kong's streets weren't known for their emptiness. He needed to get Mukuro to the safehouse before night fell. With luck, this would go smoothly - but Hibari didn't believe in luck.

When they stopped at a light, he looked over at Mukuro and caught Mukuro looking at him. The man's blue eyes widened, and then he looked away, smiling wryly. "Sorry. You're not what I expected."

Mukuro wasn't exactly what Hibari had expected either, to be honest. Byakuran's secretary - apparently the leader of the Millefiore organization picked his assistants for their looks as well as their competence. But Mukuro was still only a civilian, and for the moment, Hibari's responsibility. "Do you have any weapons with you?" he said, and watched Mukuro's gaze return to him, surprised.

"No, of course not," Mukuro said. "I was never involved in those kinds of things." He frowned, looking out the window of the car as they drove. "But I can't really be in any danger yet, can I? I mean, I didn't give them any sign that I was leaving. I didn't even bring anything with me, just like Tsunayoshi told me, and it's my day off. They won't know I ran until after I'm supposed to be at work tomorrow."

Hibari drove, careful to move with the flow of traffic and attract no attention. Hong Kong wasn't strictly Millefiore territory, but the organization had strong ties with Triad groups in the area, and with Byakuran here for his 'business meetings' they'd be on high alert. "We're getting you out because you think they've discovered that you've been leaking information. If that's true, then Byakuran would have had people watching you. I don't think you were followed, and I didn't see anyone watching you at the cafe, but when you don't return to your hotel room they'll know."

That shut Mukuro up, and when Hibari looked over he could seen tension in the lines of his shoulders. Good. The more wary Mukuro was, the more likely he was to survive. It was too bad he couldn't use a gun, but not a surprise - that was why Hibari had been chosen for this mission, after all. An extremely valuable asset that needed to be delivered into Tsunayoshi's hands, that carried with it the very distinct possibility of violent encounters with trained killers - these were the kinds of missions Hibari was best at.

Of course, the valuable assets usually weren't people.

"We'll leave on a cargo ship tomorrow that'll take us in to Yokohama," Hibari said. "Tonight you'll stay in a safehouse near the harbor."

"Alone?" Mukuro asked, his eyes on the side mirror.

It was a stupid question, but Hibari reminded himself that Mukuro's experience lay solely in passing along information - and even then, it wasn't something he'd been formally trained to do. He couldn't be expected to know anything about the wider world that Hibari lived in, or even the dangers that he was in. "No. I'll be with you until we reach Japan. You will not leave my sight." The last was meant more as a command than a comfort, and Mukuro seemed to understand that, a brief smile flickering across his face.

"I'm not going to wander off. This is the only chance I have to get out, right?" Then something caught his eye, and his smile disappeared. "That gray car-"

Hibari had to admit that Mukuro had good instincts. He'd had his eye on the gray sedan for about three miles, but he hadn't expected Mukuro to notice they were being followed at all. "Stay calm and keep your head down," he said. It was likely that the tail wasn't even because of Mukuro. Hibari had flown in and passed through immigration just like any visitor (any visitor with a fake passport, anyway) - the Triad probably had their eyes out for people like him, maybe even him in particular. Hibari was somewhat well known for his brutal methods and harsh competence, and as he rarely took undercover missions it would have been no surprise if they'd had his face. And of course when a member of an intelligence organization came for a visit, the locals would want to keep an eye on them.

At least that was what Hibari hoped was happening. Since there had been no violence yet, his theory was probably correct, but that didn't mean he could let his guard down. He needed to throw them off without being obvious and without them getting a look at Mukuro. At least his windows were tinted - that would help.

It would be best not to speed up or draw any more attention, so Hibari focused on losing the tail without making a big production of it. It wouldn't be easy - surely the Triad drivers knew the city better than him, but he didn't think it was impossible. Carefully, Hibari threaded their car between the lanes of traffic, making it look as if he were simply an impatient commuter trying to find the quickest way home.

Mukuro slid down in his seat, and Hibari glanced over and frowned. If they managed to somehow catch a glimpse, he'd just be too noticeable - during a break in traffic Hibari reached into the backseat and retrieved a baseball cap, shoving it down over Mukuro's distinctive hair.

"Hey-" Mukuro started to protest, but fell silent at a glare from Hibari, tugging the cap down over his eyes with a distinctly annoyed sigh. It wasn't anything to worry about, Hibari thought, but the tension was beginning to get to Rokudo Mukuro. Hopefully he was stronger than he looked. They might get into real danger, and Hibari didn't relish the possibility of having to drag a traumatized secretary through a firefight.

Well, he'd deal with that if he had to. For now, there was a problem that did deserve Hibari's complete attention - he'd failed to lose their tail. The gray sedan was still a few cars behind them, following faithfully. Time for more drastic measures - Hibari took the next exit, moving down from the highway to the surface streets. Easier to lose them, but it had its drawbacks. Still, they weren't far from the harbor and the safehouse nearby, and if Hibari managed to lose the tail for long enough, they could ditch the car and go the rest of the way on foot.

Spinning the wheel, Hibari slipped the car between a truck and a small hybrid, turning down the nearest side street. He sped up and turn again at the next street, barely making it through the intersection. A glance over showed Mukuro, head down and cap pulled low, holding on tightly to the edge of his seat.

"Get ready," Hibari said, "as soon as I stop the car we're ditching it. As quickly as you can."

"Okay," Mukuro said, his voice tight. Hibari didn't think Mukuro would freeze up when the time came, though - there was more to him than that, Hibari felt sure of it.

Checking the rearview mirror, he was relieved to see that their tail was gone for now. They wouldn't have much time, but this was a chance. He turned down an alley, stopped the car next to a pile of garbage bags, and said, "Out."

True to his expectations, Mukuro obeyed promptly. He unbuckled his seatbelt and climbed out, nose wrinkling at the stench of the garbage, baseball cap still secure on his head. Good - he was tall and foreign and striking, they'd still need to avoid crowds but at least this minimized the chances of recognition.

Hibari got out as well, checking the gun beneath his jacket. Nothing else in the car was of any importance.

"Come on. Stay close to me," he said, and lead Mukuro down the alley. The man stayed close behind him, as instructed, leaving Hibari free to survey their surroundings as they walked. They weren't too far from the safehouse, and as long as they avoided the main streets it should be fine. Hibari knew that his evasion of their tail had undoubtedly raised the suspicions of whoever had been keeping an eye on him, but it was a gamble he had to make - the important thing was to get Mukuro on the ship to Japan safely and without being detected. In the long term, raising the suspicions of the Triad groups in Hong Kong would work against Hibari and his organization, but Tsuna would just have to handle that somehow, because in the short term, not avoiding them (and thus possibly allowing Mukuro to be seen) would end this mission prematurely. Probably with a bullet in Mukuro's head, thanks to Byakuran's tight connections with the underworld.

Hibari did not like that idea. He wouldn't fail this mission.

He'd been careful to memorize the layout of the streets around the safehouse, for just such a possibility as this, and so it wasn't difficult to take Mukuro down alleys and back streets, out of view of anyone who might identify him. There was only one close call, when a car turned down the street they were on. Hibari backed Mukuro into the shadows of a doorway, his body between Mukuro and the car, praying that the dimming light from the sunset would hide them well enough. It seemed to - the car did not stop and the driver didn't glance their way, and Hibari relaxed slightly. He could feel Mukuro's breath against his ear, quick and light, and Hibari thought if he listened closely enough he might be able to hear Mukuro's heart beating hard. Nerves - but Mukuro was doing well, for a civilian.

Then Hibari moved away, reminding himself to keep his mind on the job, and not on Mukuro's breath or the warmth of his body or his awkward courage. They were nearly there. He said nothing, simply gesturing for Mukuro to follow him, and they continued.

The rest of the way was easy, and soon Hibari was pushing open the heavy door to the safehouse, a small room in the upper level of a larger warehouse full of shipping containers.

He flipped the light on. The room was small, undoubtedly meant to be a simple office, with a desk in the corner and some file cabinets. He had prepared it well, however, and at the moment there was a small cot set up in the opposite corner, along with a bag on the desk.

Nodding towards the bag, Hibari said, "There's food in there if you're hungry." He surveyed the room quickly - it had been secure when he checked it out before meeting Mukuro, but something could have happened since then. It was always better to be certain. Hibari had not gotten to be one of Sawada Tsunayoshi's best agents by being careless, after all. Once he was sure they were safe, he secured the door and looked at Mukuro. "Well?"

Mukuro looked back at him, eyes wide for a moment, then he smiled and shook his head. "Sorry. I don't really have much of an appetite."

Not really a surprise, Hibari thought, and shrugged. Mukuro was still nervous, still on edge, and that was normal. After all, for the moment he was a fugitive. That reminded Hibari, Mukuro had said he had no weapons, but - "Do you know how to use a gun?" Though he had no intention of actually putting Mukuro in the middle of a firefight, it would be foolish to assume everything was going to go exactly as planned. That had already been proven by their tail.

Unsurprisingly, however, Mukuro shook his head. "I'm a personal assistant. Why would I know how to use a gun?" There was a faint edge of amusement to his voice, but Hibari ignored it. He rarely had to do retrieval missions like this, rarely worked with people, but he'd done his research before leaving for the mission - he knew Mukuro would be nervous and frightened, would deal with it however he knew how, through humor if necessary. Hibari didn't particularly like it, but it was better than some alternatives - panic or hysteria or idiotic recklessness.

"You were the personal assistant to one of the most powerful crime bosses in Europe," Hibari pointed out. "It wouldn't be strange."

Mukuro sat down on the edge of the cot and looked at him. "You read my file or whatever, right? You know it wasn't like that. I was hired as the personal assistant to the CEO of Millefiore Industries - I didn't know anything about the crime stuff." He shrugged uncomfortably and looked down at his hands, lacing his slim fingers together. "Not until later, anyway."

Hibari had read his file, of course. He was about to say it didn't matter, he'd simply needed to be sure, but Mukuro spoke again.

"If I'd known, I'd never have taken the job. I mean, how was I supposed to know? It's not like it's common knowledge that Millefiore is a front for all the other things he does."

Looking at him, Hibari said nothing. If Mukuro needed to talk, he'd let him - perhaps it would calm the man down. They both needed to get some sleep tonight, if they could. And strangely, Hibari found himself... curious. He'd read the file, but it was hard facts - dates and times, background checks, summaries of the information he'd passed to Tsunayoshi's other agents. It said nothing about why. Why Mukuro had started working for Byakuran, why he'd kept working for him even when he discovered the truth of his boss' illegal activities, why he'd eventually betrayed him and become a mole for Sawada Tsunayoshi.

None of that really mattered, Hibari knew. Mukuro was simply a package that he needed to deliver safely to Japan. But even so, he wanted to know the answer to all those whys. He listened.

"I just thought it seemed like a great position," Mukuro said. His laughter was bitter. "I didn't realize I was in way over my head until it was too late." He looked up at Hibari. "And then I thought I could handle it. After all, I got into trouble when I was younger, before I cleaned up and went to school. I thought, surely this can't be much different. But petty theft is nothing compared to Millefiore."

There'd been a note on that in the file. Mukuro's juvenile records had been expunged, but while he'd gotten into plenty of trouble as a boy, it had never been for anything more serious than burglary. Still... "I assume Byakuran knew," Hibari said, pulling out the chair at the desk and sitting, watching Mukuro.

"Oh, yes. That's probably why he hired me. I'd never been in big enough trouble to be a threat working so close to him, but I'd also seen enough that he thought I wouldn't spook." Mukuro shrugged, brushing some stray strands of hair out of his face. "And I was able to handle it for awhile. But it went too far... he doesn't have any morals. What I did when I was younger, that was just kids misbehaving, we never really hurt anyone. What Byakuran does... well. I'm sure you know all about it."

Hibari retrieved two bottles of water from the bag on the desk, tossed one across to Mukuro. He had a good idea how the rest of the story went - eventually, Byakuran had just gone too far, or maybe he'd made it too personal for Mukuro. Asked him to dispose of a body, blackmail someone who Mukuro thought didn't deserve it, something like that. Something that had pushed him over the edge and made it no longer possible to ignore the extent of Millefiore's corruption. And then he'd turned to Tsunayoshi.

"You weren't half bad," Hibari said, and Mukuro looked up from the bottle of water, surprised. "As a spy. You've been a mole for this long without getting caught, and you gave us good information." He wasn't comforting Mukuro - it was simply the truth.

"Is that a compliment?" Mukuro said, and smiled fleetingly. Hibari scowled in return, but rather than being upset Mukuro looked amused, and Hibari made a mental note that Rokudo Mukuro was not susceptible to intimidation. Unsurprising, really, given that he'd worked closely with Byakuran Gesso for years. "I thought I'd be able to stay longer, actually. I'm not sure what gave me away... I was always very careful. I'm not stupid, I knew Byakuran would kill me in an instant if he knew I was spying on him."

"He'd have killed you before you left work last night if he'd been sure," Hibari said. "But you told Sawada you thought he was on to you."

Nodding, Mukuro curled his long legs under him. With the adrenaline fading, he was starting to look tired. "Yes. It was just little things, the way he looked at me, the way he started sending me out of the office to pick up coffee or food when he had... visitors. He never did that before, never cared if I heard something because he was sure I was trustworthy. And what you said before, about people watching me... before before we left for Hong Kong, I realized I was being followed. Byakuran had set some of his men to keep an eye on me. After that, I was sure it was only a matter of time before he found something to confirm his suspicions, so I asked Tsuna to get me out."

Hibari gave him a curt nod. That was more or less as he'd thought too, though if Byakuran had been having Mukuro watched, they'd just barely gotten him out in time. The leader of Millefiore wasn't known for being generous or kind, and even if he hadn't found anything to confirm his suspicions, he would probably have had Mukuro killed. Simply for making him suspicious, nothing more.

"Get some rest," Hibari said. "We're leaving before the sun rises."

"All right," Mukuro said, stifling a yawn. He lay down on the cot, and was silent for a few minutes as Hibari doublechecked his gun and the locks, flicked on the desk lamp and shut off the overhead light. Then he spoke. "You haven't told me your name yet."

Hibari looked over at the dim shape of Mukuro's body. He couldn't tell if Mukuro was looking at him or not. "Hibari."

"Hibari," Mukuro said slowly, as if he were testing the way the name felt in his mouth. "Thank you, Hibari."

Hibari didn't say anything. This was his job, that was all. If it was always like this with people-based missions, Hibari would stick to his usual combat and destruction. It was something about the way Mukuro had said his name, had said thank you. Hibari didn't need or want that kind of thing.

He reached over and turned off the desk light, made himself comfortable in the chair, and closed his eyes. There was no point in thinking about stupid things when he should be trying to get some sleep.

***

As Hibari had promised, it was still dark when they left. The container ship they were leaving on would be departing when the sun came up, and moving in darkness was a good plan anyway. Mukuro was still blinking sleep from his eyes while they left the safehouse, but Hibari had been alert from the moment he opened his eyes. It wasn't far to the docks, but that was no reason to let down his guard.

"Is leaving by ship really the best way?" Mukuro whispered, yawning as he followed Hibari through the maze of alleyways. "Wouldn't a plane be faster?"

"Faster but much less safe," Hibari said curtly. "Your old boss has men at the airport, I saw them when I came in. Now be quiet."

They almost made it to the ship without incident - almost. Hibari was leading Mukuro past one of the last rows of stacked-up containers when he saw movement out of the corner of his eye. It could've been anything - a bird, a stray cat, a piece of trash blown by the wind - but Hibari had been doing this job for years, and his instincts were screaming at him. He felt Mukuro tense, too, and in the back of his mind he thought that Mukuro had good intuition for a civilian.

"Down," Hibari ordered, drawing his gun. "And stay behind me."

He didn't wait to see if Mukuro obeyed - the man wasn't stupid, he'd do as he was told to save his own life. Hibari peered around the edge of the container carefully. He pulled back immediately, and his instincts were rewarded when he heard the very distinctive sound of a bullet ricocheting off the middle exactly next to where his head had been.

"Shit," he said.

"Did you just get shot at?" Mukuro asked, and Hibari wasn't sure if the edge in his voice was panic or excitement. He himself was feeling the familiar rush of energy that always preceded a fight. Close combat was better, close combat was where he shone and what he enjoyed best, but a gunfight wasn't so bad either.

Hibari smirked. The yard was silent, no sounds of movement, so the other gunman was stationary, and he'd given his position away by shooting at Hibari. Too easy, but there might be more of them. "Keep an eye out, tell me if you see anyone else." It was still dark, and if they could take care of this one and disappear into the stacks of containers again, they could probably get to their ship unobserved. The problem was getting out of here before whatever companions the gunman had found them.

It wasn't really a problem. Hibari was an excellent shot. He stepped out from behind the container, ignoring Mukuro's shocked "Hibari!", and scanned their surroundings. It took only a second to check the trajectory of the previous bullet, made all the easier by the gunman firing at him again from the top of a container a couple rows down. And missing. How pathetic, Hibari thought, before he raised his gun and neatly shot the other man, watching him crumple.

"Did you seriously just let him shoot at you?" Mukuro asked, but Hibari noticed that he sounded less upset and more like he was about to laugh. So that had been excitement earlier, the secretary had a taste for danger. That explained why he'd tried to keep working for Byakuran for so long, and why he'd turned mole instead of just trying to find a way out.

He reached back and caught Mukuro's arm. "Move," he said, and pulled Mukuro along with him into a run, zigzagging through the containers in an attempt to throw off any other pursuers. Mukuro's long legs kept pace easily enough, and he wasn't even breathing hard by the time Hibari judged them safe enough to slow down again.

"We're almost there," he said, glancing over at Mukuro.

"You're insane," Mukuro said, but he was smiling. The color in his cheeks made him look more alive, Hibari thought.

He smiled ever so slightly in return.

***

Once the ship was safely away, Hibari was able to let down some of his guard. Not all, of course - though Tsunayoshi had carefully vetted the crew to be sure that none of them had even the most distant Millefiore ties, that was no reason to be careless. He kept his gun on him at all times.

They were given a small cabin with two beds and not much else. The journey was only a few days, though, so it was enough. Once the ship had left the docks, Hibari left Mukuro alone in their room with strict instructions not to open the door for anyone but him, then left to canvass the ship.

It wasn't a very large one, transporting cargo only between Hong Kong and Japan, which was good. Less area to cover, fewer crewmen to worry about. Hibari trusted Tsunayoshi's preparations (he had to, otherwise working for the man would be impossible), but given that they'd been followed to the safehouse and then attacked on the way to the ship, he had to assume that the mission had been compromised somehow.

It hadn't been serious pursuit, though. What did that mean? Hibari couldn't be sure, since he hadn't had time to check the body of the man he'd shot, but most likely it meant that it had only been the local Triad gangs operating alone. He was sure that Byakuran would have put much more effort into it. The Millefiore leader wouldn't have let Mukuro leave Hong Kong alive if he'd known, so Hibari had to assume he didn't know yet. Had it really been only the local gangs? The Vongola Group didn't have the best relations with them, it was true - that was why Millefiore was dealing with them. Byakuran was smart, he never went near Vongola allies.

Hibari decided that was the best hypothesis for now. Getting Mukuro out of Hong Kong had been the most dangerous part of the mission, and with that accomplished he simply needed to escort Mukuro to the Vongola headquarters in Japan. Hibari wouldn't be careless, of course, but it would be a waste of energy to stay on high alert when the ship and crew seemed safe.

After making a thorough search of the ship, taking note of crew movements (orderly, regular) and possible danger (very little), Hibari headed back to the cabin.

He told himself he could relax now, just a little. But then he thought of Mukuro - the dangerous light in his eyes, his sharp smile. The very small cabin they were going to share for the next few days.

This would be interesting.

***

With Hibari's all-clear, Mukuro took to roaming the ship. Even though it seemed safe enough, though, Hibari was careful to be sure of where he was at all times. It wasn't exactly stalking - he let Mukuro have his space and his privacy - but he remained at least within earshot, if not visual range. For safety's sake.

The first day of the journey was a little awkward. Now that they were out of immediate danger, they both had to learn how to live in close quarters with each other - and only each other. As Tsunayoshi had prearranged with the crew, Hibari and Mukuro were left alone. They ate alone after the crew had finished, their cabin was the furthest away from all the others, they were never approached even by off-duty personnel. It was good, in Hibari's opinion - safe.

But it meant that it was just the two of them. That should have suited Hibari fairly well, since he wasn't very fond of people normally, but being around Mukuro so often turned out to be just as interesting and occasionally irritating as he'd expected.

After he realized Hibari was lurking around wherever he went, Mukuro simply started inviting Hibari along on his walks around the ship. "I'm going for a walk," he'd say, and smile at Hibari. They didn't talk at first, but whenever they stopped on an upper deck or at a railing, Hibari felt Mukuro watching him more often than the ocean around them. He wasn't used to that kind of attention. Fearful stares, intimidated gazes, those were things he knew well, but this didn't feel like that at all. The few times Hibari returned the looks, Mukuro didn't look away or get nervous. Instead, he'd smile, and once he even winked at Hibari.

It was extremely annoying.

Hibari came to the conclusion that he much preferred it when people were terrified of him. This just didn't make sense at all - he'd killed someone in front of Mukuro! Mukuro shouldn't be smiling at him, watching him, flirting with him.

Then again, the man had a proven taste for danger. And certainly Hibari had been warned that the combination of adrenaline and the necessity of trusting someone with your life could inspire infatuation - he just had always avoided missions like this before now, and had never had to deal with it. But it didn't feel like that, like hero worship or puppy love. Mukuro was an adult, and while he wasn't a killer himself, he'd spent years of his life around some of the most dangerous men in the world. Hibari wasn't really anything new.

It occurred to Hibari that he might be misinterpreting things, but it wasn't long before that theory was blown completely out of the water.

After dinner their third day on the ship, Mukuro stretched out across his bed and sighed. "This ship isn't very exciting."

Hibari, sitting on his own bed, glanced over at him. For once Mukuro wasn't looking at him, but staring at the ceiling, long hair spread across his pillow. Objectively, it was a nice picture - all dark hair and pale skin - not that Hibari noticed. "It's not supposed to be."

"I know," Mukuro said, not moving. "I'm just not used to this. I worked all the time, even on my vacation days I was on call just in case. Now I've got absolutely nothing to do." He smiled a little and looked over, catching Hibari's eyes. "And you're so quiet all the time. Are you not supposed to talk to me or something?"

Hibari looked away. As if Tsunayoshi would ever try to impose rules like that on Hibari. The Vongola leader had long ago learned that Hibari did not tolerate micromanaging or, really, any kind of managing. He would do the missions he was given, but otherwise he didn't particularly care what rules Tsunayoshi gave his other operatives - they did not apply to him. Period. "I can talk to you."

"Hmm. You're very interesting, Hibari. I've never met anyone like you." Mukuro said, sitting up now. "Will you tell me about yourself? "

"No," Hibari said. His personal life had nothing to do with his work as a spy - or it wouldn't have, if he'd had a personal life. But there was no way he was going to tell Mukuro that.

Mukuro laughed. "I should've expected that. But it seems strange. We're stuck together on this boat for six days. You know everything about me, probably down to where I eat lunch on the weekends, but all I know is that your name's Hibari. Don't you think that's a little unfair?"

Hibari was silent for a long time, long enough that Mukuro shifted and spoke again. "It's not that you can't talk, then. It's that you don't want to."

He looked over at Mukuro again, and caught him gazing out the small window with a slight frown. He really wasn't so bad, all things considered - Hibari could have been assigned to pick up some weakling, an herbivore who would cry and flinch at every danger, who would make him want to leave them to their fate just for being so pathetic. Mukuro might not be a fighter like Hibari, but he had been strong so far, and surprisingly resilient. He'd just put himself in mortal danger for years, then left his entire life behind him, and yet he didn't seem sorry for himself or even all that upset. He wasn't piling his troubles on Hibari - instead he was flirting with him, of all things.

Once he brought Mukuro to the Vongola Organization's headquarters and delivered him into Tsuna's hands, that would be the end of it - after whatever debriefing Tsuna had planned, Mukuro would be given a new identity and a new life, far from the reach of the Millefiore. They'd never see each other after this. What did it matter?

"Kyoya," he said.

Mukuro gave him a surprised glance, but he was clever, he understood immediately. "Hibari Kyoya. I like it." Smiling, he turned toward Hibari, leaning across the small space between their beds. "I won't ask you to tell me anything else."

"Good," Hibari said with a sharp look, and Mukuro laughed.

"Well, maybe one more thing." He looked at Hibari long and hard, a smile still curving his lips, and Hibari was not foolish enough to misinterpret the look in his blue eyes. "What are the rules about fraternization for people like you?"

The message was clear enough, and for the first time Hibari let himself return that look. Mukuro had been watching him for three days, but Hibari had been looking in his own way - at every moment, he'd been aware of how Mukuro stood, how he moved, the sound of his breath, his presence. Because of the mission, yes, but not just that, and now Hibari looked at Mukuro the way Mukuro had been looking at him, and saw how Mukuro's eyes widened in recognition, lips parted in a silent 'oh' before that smile returned sharper than ever.

"I don't care about rules," was all Hibari said. He didn't wait for Mukuro to close the distance between them, reaching out to hold his wrists, pulling Mukuro toward him and across the gap between their beds. Then Mukuro's lips were on his, and Hibari was pleased to find that Mukuro kissed exactly the way he talked - teasing, with a little bite, a nip at Hibari's lip just hard enough to hurt.

The bed was small, but it would do. They had four days left in which to enjoy whatever this was, and now that Hibari had made his decision he would waste no more time. Pushing Mukuro down onto the bed, Hibari sat back, eyes on him like prey as he unbuckled his belt.

"You move fast," Mukuro said, his breath coming fast, not moving from where Hibari had placed him.

"Want me to slow down?" Hibari made himself ask, as much as he disliked the idea.

"Oh, not at all," Mukuro said, and reached out to pull Hibari down to him, kissing him hard and sliding a long-fingered hand under Hibari's shirt. "We can go slow next time."

Hibari smirked and bit Mukuro's jawline hard, enjoying the strangely pleased gasp that elicited. They could do plenty of things next time. He had other things to focus on now.

It was quick and rough, exactly what Hibari needed, and if anything Mukuro enjoyed it even more. Hibari wasn't used to having a partner who could keep up with him, but Mukuro did that and more, not at all put off by Hibari's penchant for roughness. He seemed to enjoy a little pain with his pleasure, and Hibari was briefly glad once again that their cabin was so far from anyone else's.

After, Mukuro didn't bother to move back to his own bed. They lay in drowsy post-coital contentment, though Hibari figured they'd both have bruises the next morning. Mukuro was in pretty good shape for a secretary.

"Maybe this ship isn't so boring," Mukuro murmured.

Hibari smirked. It definitely wouldn't be from now on.

***

Saying they spent the rest of the trip in bed would have been an exaggeration, but it was easily the most sex Hibari had ever had. Mukuro was creative, and he was right - there really wasn't much else to do on board. But the journey was short, and they arrived in Yokohama on time.

Hibari wasn't disappointed, not really. It had been fun, but it could never be more than fun - Mukuro would be starting a new life somewhere far away and Hibari would continue doing his job. And that was what should happen, after all. It would be impossible for Hibari to have any kind of a relationship with a civilian. He knew some Vongola operatives who tried, but playing house like that wasn't Hibari's idea of fun. Even if Mukuro stayed in Japan, which was unlikely, Hibari would not contact him after the mission was over.

Thankfully, Mukuro seemed to understand that without having to be told. He didn't ask about seeing Hibari again, or staying in contact, or even inquire any more about Hibari's personal life. All he did was give Hibari a particularly intense experience the night before they arrived in Japan - and that was that.

The moment they stepped off the boat, it was back to business. Japan was Tsunayoshi's territory completely. Millefiore had no footholds there, and all Hibari had to do was deliver Mukuro to the main building in Tokyo. There was little danger.

"You know, I've never been to Japan before," Mukuro said as they left the shipyards. He stayed close to Hibari still, whether because he felt unsafe or for other reasons, Hibari didn't know.

"Not surprising," Hibari said. "The closest your boss comes is Hong Kong or Seoul. My company is in power here."

"Yes, I was wondering about that," Mukuro said. "I thought guns were illegal in Japan, but all you did was put yours under your coat. Isn't that dangerous? Or does Tsunayoshi really have that kind of power?"

Hibari glanced at Mukuro. "The Vongola Organization has very close ties to the Japanese government. We have special dispensation to carry if necessary."

"I knew you were connected, but I didn't know the ties were so strong." Mukuro laughed quietly, shaking his head. "Well, I suppose all governments need spies, and your company does seem to be the best."

Hibari said nothing in response, because there was nothing to say. It was true. The Vongola Organization might not have as many and varied tentacles as something like Millefiore did, but all Sawada Tsunayoshi's employees and operatives were the best in their fields, whatever they may be.

Mukuro was silent for awhile as they walked, looking around them at the people, the buildings, the vending machines. "Tokyo isn't far, is it."

It wasn't a question, but Hibari nodded curtly anyway, not looking at Mukuro.

"Well, then. It's been fun, Kyoya. I'm glad we met," Mukuro said, and this time Hibari glanced over at him to catch a glimpse of Mukuro's smile. But that smile faltered, Mukuro's eyes went wide and he reached out to catch hold of Hibari's arm. "Over there - I know that man!"

Hibari looked, but they were nearing the train station and there were too many people. Whoever Mukuro had seen had already been swept away by the crowd. Hibari was on his guard anyway. "Who?" he asked, voice low, hand straying near his gun.

"Tall, long hair, he likes to wear makeup - one of Byakuran's lieutenants. His name is Kikyou." Mukuro's voice was tight and his body was tense, eyes scanning the crowd just as Hibari's were. "I swear I saw him!"

"I believe you," Hibari said. It was Byakuran's last chance to take Mukuro out before he was fully in the hands of the Vongola, after all. Venturing onto Vongola territory was dangerous, and Hibari hadn't thought that Mukuro would be worth that effort, but apparently he'd been wrong. Maybe Mukuro knew something he hadn't told Tsuna, or didn't even realize he knew. Or maybe Byakuran was just really pissed that his assistant had betrayed him.

"Come on." Hibari grabbed Mukuro's arm and pulled him through the crowd. "I'll take you somewhere safe."

There was no official safehouse here, but there was a Vongola research lab in one of the buildings not too far away. If anything, it was more secure than a safehouse would be, due to the valuable nature of the research being done - Mukuro would be safe there. He could call for extra backup from Vongola headquarters and wait or just take care of this Kikyou himself. The last option appealed quite a bit more.

It wasn't far, and though Mukuro was tense and nervous all the way there, neither of them saw Kikyou following them. Hibari tapped the passcode into the small keypad by the door of the building and waited while it scanned his fingerprint, glancing up at the small camera he knew was hidden in a light fixture above the door. He had authorization to enter, but security was tight - Hibari had nothing to do with the research and development side of Vongola operations, but he knew one of Tsunayoshi's best scientists was working on some kind of project that required him to take regular deliveries from overseas. Thus the convenient location near the shipyards.

It felt like they were kept waiting for a long time, but that was only Mukuro tensed up whenever someone walked anywhere near them. Finally the door beeped and unlocked, and Hibari pushed it open and ushered Mukuro inside, being careful to close it securely behind them.

"Don't touch anything," Hibari said, and walked down the uncarpeted hallway, Mukuro following along. They'd passed a couple closed doors - testing labs or storage rooms or something, Hibari didn't know and didn't really care - before a door a short way down the hall opened.

A blond man poked his head out, goggles pushed up on his forehead, a lollipop sticking out of his mouth. He looked familiar. Maybe they'd met before, he certainly seemed to recognize Hibari (judging by the nervous looks and uncomfortable shifting from foot to foot), but it wasn't as if Hibari could be expected to remember Tsunayoshi's scientists. "Uh... hey. Didn't know anyone was coming today."

"We're not here to look at your work, I just need somewhere for Mukuro to stay for a few hours," Hibari said.

"Right..." the man said, looking more confused than before, but he shrugged. "I guess here's fine. Gotta help out when I can."

They followed him into the room, a lab crowded with computers and electronics and plenty of mechanical things that Hibari didn't care about. "There might be a Millefiore agent in the area. Keep an eye on your cameras," he said.

"Oh... I heard you were bringing in someone from Millefiore. That's you, then?" The man looked at Mukuro, who seemed much more relaxed now that they weren't in public anymore. "I'm Spanner. Too bad those guys followed you all the way here."

"Mukuro," Mukuro said, looking around the room. "And yes, I'm not too happy about being followed either." He smiled just a little and looked at Hibari. "What do we do?"

"Spanner will call Vongola headquarters and let them know," Hibari said. He took out his gun, doublechecking it. "And I'll go out and find Kikyou."

"He's really dangerous, Kyoya. Can't you just wait here with me?" Mukuro didn't seem to think Hibari really would, but apparently he'd felt the need to ask. It was strange to have someone worry about him. Not strange enough to change his mind, though.

"You'll be safe here. No one can get in unless they work for Tsuna," Hibari said. "This won't take long." If Kikyou was out there, Hibari would find him. They could send the body back to Byakuran as a reminder of what happened when his minions stepped onto Vongola territory.

Spanner grinned at Mukuro. "Yeah, it's real safe. I'm working on this special new prototype chip that'll revolutionize mobile weapons systems, and Tsuna's got really tight security on this place so no one can steal the plans or anything. Plus I've got a gun too, so even if someone gets in you'll be fine."

Hibari doubted Spanner could use his gun, but maybe merely its presence would make Mukuro feel safe. "Mukuro, just stay here. I'll be back soon."

"Okay," Mukuro said, but before Hibari could leave he reached out and grabbed his arm. "Wait... be careful." Stepping in close, he kissed Hibari long and slow. There was something in that kiss, some emotion Hibari couldn't put his finger on, but when Mukuro finally pulled away he was smiling again. "I'll see you later, then."

Hibari ignored Spanner's (much too interested) look, holstered his gun and turned to go. As he left he heard Spanner laugh and say, "You guys must've had fun on the way here. Anyway, let me tell you about my research!"

It was more likely that Mukuro would die of boredom than that a Millefiore agent would get in. Hibari put Mukuro out of his mind as best he could, and left to look for Kikyou.

***

Thirty minutes later, Hibari had seen no sign of the man. Maybe he'd gone to ground somewhere, or maybe Mukuro had been mistaken - either way, Hibari couldn't find him. That didn't mean he wasn't nearby, but Hibari wasn't sure if it would be useful to continue searching. If Kikyou was here, he was well-hidden.

Still, he didn't think everything was safe. Something felt... off. He couldn't put his finger on it exactly, but as the adrenaline from earlier faded, it became harder and harder to ignore. He couldn't find the Millefiore agent. Had Kikyou ever been there?

But why would Mukuro have said that he was, then?

Acting mostly on intuition, that nagging feeling that something was wrong, Hibari turned back toward the lab. He walked slowly at first, telling himself it was nothing. Tsunayoshi had investigated Mukuro and pronounced him clean, exactly what he claimed to be, just an assistant who took a job and got in over his head. Everything had a perfectly logical explanation, all the little things that might make him doubt Mukuro - the reaction to violence (excitement instead of fear, but then Mukuro worked around criminals), the incompetent pursuit (but Byakuran hadn't known Mukuro betrayed him, it was just the Triads going after Hibari), even the way Mukuro's body was in surprisingly good shape for someone with a desk job (but why wouldn't he work out, he was young, after all). The explanations all added up. Mukuro had never once acted strangely. There was no reason to suspect anything.

Except that last kiss. That kiss that Hibari's mind had been nagging him about the whole time.

That hadn't felt like 'come back safely'. That had felt like 'goodbye'.

His steps quickened, though he told himself there was no reason to overreact. Intuition could be priceless in the life of a spy, but Hibari had no reason to doubt Mukuro except intuition. Reaching the door to the lab, Hibari keyed in the code and waited.

And waited.

There was a sick, angry feeling growing in his stomach as the seconds ticked by. He trusted Sawada Tsunayoshi, he had to. He'd trusted the file that proclaimed Mukuro's innocence. And hell, he'd trusted Mukuro. More than trusted.

The door finally clicked open, and Hibari found himself running down the hall to the lab where he'd left Mukuro. Pushing that door open, he surveyed the scene inside. Spanner barely upright, slumped against his chair, a bump rising on his temple. Mukuro nowhere in sight.

"Hibari," Spanner said, voice confused and a little weak, still regaining his bearings, "he hit me from behind. It was -"

"I know," Hibari snapped, not wanting to hear it. He'd been played from the beginning, they all had, and he was going to kill Tsunayoshi for letting this happen.

Not before he killed Rokudo Mukuro.

"He took the plans for the chip, and some other prototype files, I think," Spanner said. Then, reluctantly: "And he took my gun."

Hibari spat out a curse and spun, his gun in his hand. There was only one way out of the building, and Mukuro couldn't have been gone for long. Hibari might still be able to catch him.

He ran.

He didn't think about anything, about the fury or the betrayal that he felt. None of it would matter if he caught Mukuro, after all - but Hibari tried not to think of how slim that chance was. Mukuro was good, damn good, to be able to trick Hibari and Tsunayoshi. Had he planned this from the very beginning, years ago when he turned mole for the Vongola? Or was it a recent thing, and if so, why?

It didn't matter, Hibari told himself again, what really mattered was that Mukuro had betrayed them.

Luck alone lead him to Mukuro, or maybe a sixth sense that made him turn down a certain alley a few streets away - a shortcut to the docks. There, ahead of him, was Mukuro, that familiar figure that Hibari couldn't mistake for anyone else.

He brought his gun up and fired just an instant too late - Mukuro had heard his footsteps, turned enough to catch a glimpse of him, and ducked into a deep doorway. Hibari stepped closer, moving carefully, trying to get an angle on him. He got too close - a bullet hit the ground by his feet, close enough to make him jump back.

Mukuro was a good shot, Hibari thought, and remembered him claiming oh-so-innocently that he had no idea how to use a gun.

"Turn around and walk away, Kyoya," Mukuro called out. "I won't shoot you if you do." His voice was light, amused, as if this were all a big game.

"Come out," Hibari said roughly, not bothering to conceal his anger, "and I'll only shoot you once."

There was silence briefly, and then, "This isn't personal, Kyoya. It's only business." Mukuro sounded more serious this time, though there was still that note of pleasure in this voice, the one that said he was having fun. It was strikingly familiar - because Hibari had heard it before, every time Mukuro flirted with him. "I don't want to kill you." But I will if I have to was the part he didn't bother to say.

"I want to kill you," Hibari said, and was annoyed to hear Mukuro laugh. Then he was moving, they both were. Hibari ran to the side, finding just the right angle on the doorway, but Mukuro was already in motion. He fired twice. Thinking back later, Hibari thought that Mukuro really hadn't been lying when he'd said he didn't want to kill Hibari - and he was an excellent shot. The first had gone past Hibari's ear, close enough to make a lesser man flinch. Hibari dodged to the side to avoid any more bullets, but Mukuro had anticipated that, and the second shot hit Hibari squarely in the thigh.

His leg exploded in pain. As he stumbled, he saw Mukuro running for the end of the alley. Trying to concentrate, Hibari lifted his gun and shot at him, not bothering to be careful. He saw Mukuro stumble but not fall, and cursed. His own wound wasn't that bad - Hibari could tell already, having some experience with gunshot wounds - but he could barely support his own weight, much less run after Mukuro.

Nevertheless, Hibari stumbled to the end of the alleyway, leaving a trail of blood behind him, shutting the pain away to deal with later.

There was a small bloodstain, so he had hit Mukuro - that helped a little bit. But as he'd expected, Mukuro had vanished completely. Vanished carrying a wealth of extremely sensitive, highly advanced research that any organization in the world (especially Millefiore) would have paid billions to get their hands on.

Hibari was going to fucking kill Sawada Tsunayoshi for letting this happen.

***

Four months later, Hibari's wound had healed and he had almost managed to forget the whole debacle. He hadn't killed Tsuna, just yelled at him and threatened death and violent reprisals, because after all Mukuro had played both of them. Also, Hibari liked his job and didn't want to have to find a new one just because he'd killed his boss.

There was still a burning knot of anger in his stomach whenever he saw the scar the bullet had left, and everyone had since learned that they should never, never bring up the subject of that mission around Hibari. But life went on, and Hibari simply promised himself that if he ran into Mukuro again, his would be the last face Mukuro would ever see.

It didn't end up going that way.

One fine day, Hibari was called into Tsunayoshi's office. This was normal, as Hibari generally got all his assignments in person (Tsuna's underlings were terrified of him), but this time - this time, when Hibari pushed the door open, the first thing he saw was Rokudo Mukuro, calmly sitting in one of the chairs in front of Tsuna's desk.

Hibari had his gun out and pointed right between Mukuro's eyes before he could move, but Tsuna anticipated it, rising from his chair. "Hibari, don't!"

Hibari briefly considered shooting Mukuro anyway. He narrowed his eyes, staring at the man - Mukuro looked more or less the same, but there was a different air to him now, more... tired. Less playful.

Mukuro looked up and met Hibari's eyes, holding them for a moment before he smiled. "Nice to see you again, Kyoya."

Glaring at him, Hibari put his gun away and turned to Tsunayoshi. "What is this?" he bit out, ignoring Mukuro completely now - or trying to. It was still Mukuro, sitting right there, the man Hibari had been trying very hard not to think of for the past four months.

Tsuna cleared his throat and relaxed a little now that violence was no longer imminent, sitting back down, his eyes flickering between Hibari and Mukuro. "He came to us a few days ago with information. Good information, stuff we can use. Uh, even better than the stuff we got... before."

Before, when Mukuro had been feeding them little bits of information, the kind of things a secretary would know. When he'd been playing them.

"He says he's not working for Millefiore anymore. And Byakuran really is trying to kill him now, so he came to us," Tsuna said, watching Hibari very carefully, probably concerned that Hibari would explode again. Rightfully concerned, really, Hibari was finding this very hard to believe.

"So I'm giving him a chance," Tsuna said.

"What?" Hibari snarled, his hand going to his gun again. "Are you fucking kidding me? He betrayed us - you. He worked for Millefiore!"

"That's not exactly true," Mukuro said, cutting in smoothly. He wasn't smiling now. "I never considered myself part of Millefiore. I was always a free agent, Byakuran hired me for that job by offering a very substantial paycheck." At that, he did smile, a bitter little razor-sharp smirk. "As it turns out, he always intended to dispose of me when the job was over. You just can't trust anyone these days."

"He tried to kill you," Hibari said. How strange, he never thought he'd have anything in common with Byakuran Gesso, but he could completely understand the desire to murder Mukuro. Still, it pissed him off, the thought that someone else might have taken what was rightfully Hibari's prey.

"Yes, and even worse, he didn't pay me," Mukuro said. "I remembered how competent Tsunayoshi's men were, so I came here." That last prompted a soft laugh, and his eyes rested on Hibari for just a little too long.

"He shot me," Hibari said to Tsuna with a sharp glare.

"You shot me too," Mukuro pointed out, sounding amused.

"His story checks out," Tsuna said, ignoring that last exchange, "and-"

"His story checked out before, too," Hibari said, doing his best to pretend Mukuro didn't exist and wasn't looking at him.

Tsuna bit his lip. "Yes, I know, which just goes to show how good he is. But you're right, he betrayed us before, and it would be really stupid to trust him this time."

Well, at least Tsuna hadn't turned into a complete idiot, Hibari thought.

"That's why I'm assigning you as his handler," Tsuna said.

Hibari stared at him, incredulous. There was absolutely nothing he could say to that, and Tsuna filled the silence hurriedly. "You've, uh, worked with him before so you aren't going to fall for anything. You know what to look out for, and you'll be more careful than anyone else would."

Mukuro was silent through this as well, apparently unbothered by being talked about as if he weren't there. Hibari's eyes narrowed as he thought about it. It was true, what Tsuna said - Mukuro was good, Mukuro was sneaky and an excellent liar and apparently had no morals, but there was no way in hell Hibari would ever let himself be tricked like that again. He wouldn't be soft on Mukuro, wouldn't let him get away with anything.

Tsuna's voice hardened, grew serious and commanding in that way he had sometimes, the way that turned him from a mild-mannered man into a true spymaster and made people listen. "And if he betrays us, you have permission to kill him."

At that, Hibari's eyes flickered to Mukuro, taking note of the lack of reaction. Mukuro had expected it. And Hibari would do it, too, that wasn't in question.

"All right," Hibari said, nodding curtly in acceptance. He didn't know how it would be to work with Mukuro, but if Tsuna was intent on giving him a second chance, assigning him to Hibari was the only intelligent choice. There would be no embarrassing slip-ups this time. "Is there anything else?"

Tsuna was visibly relieved, and he shook his head. "That's all. I'll send along some files later with information about your first mission."

Hibari looked at Mukuro for a long moment, thinking - for just an instant - about everything they had done together. "Come on." It wasn't a request, and Mukuro stood smoothly, following Hibari out of Tsunayoshi's office.

Walking down the hall with Mukuro at his side, Hibari couldn't help but think that this would either turn out to be the worst idea Tsunayoshi had ever had or the best. "If you do anything stupid, I'll kill you."

"I'm looking forward to working with you too," Mukuro said, and laughed.
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July 2011

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