Fandom: Katekyo Hitman Reborn!
Warning(s): First time writing Byakuran and Real Funeral Wreaths, so there may be some OOC-ness.
Prompt: III – 28. Tsuna, Reborn, Guardians, Millefiore Family, AU - rule the world; As they lay dying at the feet of Sawada Tsunayoshi and his guardians, Byakuran knows the world will not last long in the hands of the cruel Vongola Family (from khrfest)
Word Count: ~3700
Diclaimer: KHR belongs to Amano Akira. Title of this fic is taken from the song Hear You Me by Jimmy Eat World.
Notes: This fic scares the hell out of me. I have about zero confidence to write Byakuran, especially after Amano-sensei let us know just how complicated his situation was 8| But here it is anyway.
He found the eighteen-year-old boy sitting on a mountain of old crates like a king, a knife in hand and a mocking smirk not yet polished on his lips.
“Someone will try to kill you,” Reborn repeated, weariness seeping into each word like poison. “For the next ten years, you cannot run and you cannot hide. Your only choice is to fight back.”
Byakuran twirled the knife between long, deft fingers, a blatant display of impertinence. “Then let them come.”
“I’ve seen you lose too many times,” Reborn said impatiently. This arrogance was trying, no matter how many times he had forced himself to deal with and get used to it. Tsuna would have acted different. Tsuna would have listened, would have kept Reborn’s words in mind under thick layers of denials and self-depreciation. Tsuna would have–
He firmly pushed the thought out of his mind. Byakuran was no longer smiling and the square of his shoulders was now more pronounced, as if he was bracing for an attack. In many ways, he was still a child—an arrogant child, a lost child, but Reborn could not forget that he had been the reason why their life was hell now, why circles were endless.
“You don’t know what I can do.”
It only took Reborn one second to jump to the top of the crates and brought the boy down to the dirty alley floor. “I know exactly what you can do,” he answered coldly, pointing the stolen knife to one of the four jugulars in Byakuran’s neck. “And that is why from now on, I’ll be your tutor.”
“The greatness of a Family is often determined not by the boss,” the baby made his speech as he strutted up and down the room, “but the contributing members.”
“Which is why I will choose my own contributing members,” Byakuran answered and Zakuro could detect a hint of annoyance in his voice. There were blackening bruises on his face and arms, but Byakuran’s grace was not a thing of transience. If stiffness gripped his muscles, then he did not succumb to their rule; he conquered them in return.
The baby tipped his white fedora, as if to get a better look at the little gathering in front of him. He always wore white, uncaring that it struck a dissonance among the dark chords of their street world. “These are hardly guardian materials,” he said again, full of disdain. “Trust me, you’ll want better people for these jobs.”
“Out here, we grow and make our own name,” Zakuro growled, “not grovel at the feet of some fucking birth rights.”
The baby turned a pair of beady eyes to his direction. “And what exactly are you capable of?”
“The name’s Zakuro.”
“Not the answer to my question.”
“I’m stronger than you think,” Zakuro said through gritted teeth, hands itching to strike. He was not no one; he would not be treated as no one—even by babies who could easily throw a person of his weight across the room without blinking.
The baby smirked, and he was suddenly at his side, holding a gun against his temple. The ominous click echoed inside Zakuro’s skull.
“I know who he is.”
Bluebell looked up at him, her large, blue eyes glazed by sheer innocence which would have seemed genuine in another girl’s. Giggling, she latched herself to his left arm, her fingers as cold as rain.
“Oh, Kikyou, you just couldn’t help it, could you?”
“I need to know,” he told her, resisting a grimace at her high, girlish voice. She, along with some other new recruits brought back by the baby, had a way about them which made his hair stand on end. Where he had found them was as good as anybody’s guess.
Byakuran’s eyes flicked toward the far end of the dim, dingy bar, an old leather couch which the baby had long since commandeered as his domain. In his white suit and fedora, he made a peculiar picture bent over his thick black book, scribbling notes and rereading any earlier page, the green chameleon perched on his shoulder like an ever-present ghost. He had never closed his eyes, Kikyou had noticed, even in sleep—and that was where he drew the line on normality.
“He is using you.”
Byakuran was unfazed. “We all use each other,” he said instead, putting yet another bit of marshmallow into his mouth. He was a lot calmer these days, not so prone to sudden, drastic changes of mood which had often caused disastrous results before the baby’s arrival—and Kikyou could not help but wonder if it was the baby, or the amount of sweets he had been eating at every given opportunity.
The persistent note served its purpose. Byakuran’s gaze finally fell on him, a tolerant, inquiring expression on his face; Kikyou took it as a cue.
“His name is Reborn and he works for the Vongola Family, I’ve seen his pictures.” Except he was wearing black, had always worn black in every picture Kikyou had come across—but still, undoubtedly the same baby, with the same green chameleon on his shoulder. “He is the best hitman they’ve got, not to mention a close associate of the Ninth Vongola. You need to be careful.”
Bluebell was frowning, her lips pursed as she tangled one finger in her long green hair. “If he is their hitman, then why is he raising an army against them?”
“Because he is against them,” Byakuran said, and then smiled as if the idea amused him.
Kikyou took it as another cue and did not speak again.
“There are many roads to many powers,” the baby—Reborn—said, “but there is only one that can defeat them.”
“The Mare Rings,” Byakuran answered without enthusiasm. “You’ve told me at least a thousand times.”
“And I will keep telling you until you’re strong enough to take them,” Reborn said—snapped almost, except neither his face nor his voice conveyed much. In the two years they had known each other, he had never strayed far from being ruthless and ill-tempered, and the only reason why Byakuran had not gotten rid of him was that he couldn’t. Not yet. Besides, Reborn’s knowledge and inputs were fairly useful so far; he knew things that even Byakuran himself did not, including the extent of his ‘power’, the use of more glucose to feed the brain and thus better the control of his bodies, sometimes even the world he was living in another dimension.
He had met Reborn in some and the baby was always the same—strong, knowledgeable, callous, intent to keep an eye on him—but the bigger story still eluded him. Reborn worked for Vongola and yet here he was, nurturing Gesso and for all intents and purposes trying to keep them safe, under the radar.
“About the Lightning Guardian’s post,” Reborn was speaking again, “none of the people we have found so far is satisfactory. Both Irino and Calitri lack control, and what good is power without control. Rende and the rest aren’t strong enough, and we need one quickly.”
“Elaine is good.”
“Elaine is dead,” Reborn said, his voice colourless. (Sometimes, this utter disregard of death was one of very few things which could almost make Byakuran like him.) “We have no use of anyone who can’t stay under the radar.”
He opened his mouth, and the words were ready on his tongue—as if they had been there all along.
“If I can’t find one, then I’ll make one,”
And so Ghost was born.
“You wish to challenge the possession of the Mare Rings?”
Aria was more amused than alarmed. This cocky young man in front of her had caused incessant troubles for her Family, but when she had gone to deal with him, she had found this instead. Her eyes moved to appraise him once more; white hair—utterly unconventional, which probably meant he had more ego than he could handle; a brazen smile—clearly an indication of overconfidence, but its source was more elusive, which she needed to find out soon if he were to become a threat; alone—confident alright, not a sign of his underlings anywhere.
A young man suffering delusions of grandeur, she surmised, a little ruefully; he might have become someone had he chosen another road.
“And why would I allow this… contest, so to say?”
His smile was eerily constant. “Because Giglio Nero is the second strongest Family in Italy.” He paused and she almost applauded him for the dramatic effect. “And Vongola allows no opposition.”
Aria did not flinch, but she could feel her mask thicken at the mention of Vongola’s name. Only a fool could not sense the change in Sawada Tsunayoshi’s behaviour lately, in his increasing aggressiveness and—god forbid—paranoia, and she wasn’t a fool.
This man knew that too; it wasn’t a nice, honest smile on his face. Suddenly he looked far more than simply a bright young man wrought by ambitions.
Aria suppressed a shiver.
“I’m afraid I cannot allow any sort of contest to happen.”
“Then I will make you allow it.”
She felt Gamma tense at her side, ready to strike, and her lips curled into a sneer. “You forget your place, boy.”
“But my place has not been decided yet.” His smile persisted, the curve of his lips unchanging despite his words. “Should I lose, I will no longer cause trouble for Giglio Nero. Should I win, the Mare Rings will be mine and our two Families will be as one. All things considered, you have very little to lose from this bargain.”
“There will be no bargain as long as I live," she declared through gritted teeth.
He sighed. “If that is your final decision.”
There was nothing quite as satisfying as the look on their faces when Genkishi laid down his swords, clean and unused.
If malice spun him out of mist, then Torikabuto thrived in fear and despair. He cared none of bravery and heroic feats; the silent cries of defeated souls were enough for him, and these cries—Giglio Nero had lost three out of seven, this was their last chance, and to have it crushed by Genkishi’s swift treachery was sweet, sweet wine in his paper-dry throat; these cries made excitement rise in his empty chest, and for a moment he felt.
Byakuran was smiling as Genkishi knelt before him—lord, master, ruler of the Mare Rings. The new head of the Giglio Nero Family, a little girl with scores of ages in her eyes far beyond her years, said nothing for a long time as she stared at them, her face unreadable.
Then she strode forward.
“I challenge you for the possession of the Sky Mare Ring, Byakuran-san.”
Byakuran’s smile widened, sweetly almost. “It is an honour, Uni-chan.”
Uni disliked trickeries.
Genkishi’s betrayal had been unforeseen, but there was nothing she could do about it now. Uni stood firm, ignoring the heavens and their cold tears that beat down upon her face, her eyes for her opponent. She was not her mother, far enough from what her mother had been to know that she stood no chance against Byakuran.
More than anything, it was as if he knew—her thoughts, her attacks, what she would do next, where she would strike next. Her frustration mounted with each delivered—and missed—strikes, her Sky flame flickering erratically. Byakuran’s was brighter, stronger, steadier, a perfect, clear-cut line even in the rain’s onslaught. He had won since the first ten seconds, Uni realised; now he was only toying with her.
She wanted to scream.
Tears heavy in her eyes, she nearly crumbled to the ground fifty metres below. But she did not fall—and Uni wished, wished so much that she had when she realised that it was his arm that held her, tight around her small waist, almost comforting.
“You must be tired of bargains, Uni-chan.” There was a note of genuine sympathy in his voice, agitating the rippling surface of her emotions even more. “But this will be the last, I promise. As usual you may choose: unite our two Families under my rule and everyone lives, or shed more blood as we fight once more for the throne.”
Without the Mare Rings at their side, she wondered what ‘fight’ he was referring to. (Games; of course these were all just games for him. Her mother. Genkishi. And now this.)
Uni pressed her lips together, struggling not to cry.
“I accept the first choice.”
The brightness of Byakuran’s smile was unparalleled.
Gamma knew that something was amiss the moment the princess returned, head held up high but not at the angle of victory. In the deepening night, he could not see her face clearly, not until she was paces before his prone body. He ached to move, but the poison still held its clutch around his muscles; the most it allowed him was to crane his neck as another pair of shoes came into view.
“From now on, there is no longer Gesso or Giglio Nero.” It was Byakuran, his voice as clear and widespread as the blackened sky above. “There is only one Family: Millefiore.”
Gamma would have lunged at him, but Uni’s gaze was empty, lifeless, and she took Byakuran’s outstretched hand as would a princess her prince’s.
Once the Mare Rings were in their possession, the war drums sang.
Bluebell did not mind; it would have been boring otherwise, and the Ring Battle had awakened her lust for more thrill and excitement. Keeping their existence in the dark for so long had been trying. The first wave of attacks that flooded the streets fed her delight as she tore through bodies and worked her way up piles and piles of corpses. Vongola was a large Family—the fun would last for quite a time.
This morning posed a different challenge.
Later, she would tell herself that it was Reborn’s fault for leaving the mysterious black book lying around. Inevitably, curiosity got the better of her despite resounding threats and warnings. After all, she had not lived this long by abiding rules and being afraid of babies who did not grow up. Yes, Reborn intimidated her a little, but just a little.
No one else was in the vicinity; Bluebell giggled softly to herself. The well-worn cover felt warm to her touch—but then again everything did. More than half of the pages were filled with Reborn’s cramped handwriting, some in peculiar-looking letters she recognised as Japanese but couldn’t read. No name was ever mentioned, only codes and numbers in events which felt vaguely familiar. She flipped toward the beginning of the book and found a note stapled to the second page.
–and do NOT meet yourself at whatever cost. What happened to her showed us that we knew next to nothing about time. Make sure he is unaware of my existence and what I can do. Also, make sure that he has learned control before his power gets the better of him; you know what he is capable of.
This is the mess we– I have caused and sorry will never be enough–
“Put it down.”
Reborn’s voice was enough to chill even the rain. She looked up, her impish smile immediately on place. “Uhh, sorry?”
“Put it down or I’ll shoot.”
Bluebell had known him long enough to know that his bullet would be able to kill her faster than she could move. She pouted, the book falling from her hand with a quiet thud on the old sofa.
“I couldn’t help it. You’ve never told us anything about yourself.”
“I have my reasons,” he said icily.
“Fine,” she huffed and stormed past him. “Keep your secrets then!”
Bluebell had never expected him to answer in a million years—that when he did, she missed it entirely. Only the last syllable reached her ears, a soft, defeated murmur barely caressing her attention, and she turned around quickly, eyes wide.
Reborn was looking at her, face expressionless under the brim of his fedora.
“To save the world.”
The grimness in his voice was such that she didn’t even remember to laugh.
“You are interesting.”
Daisy nodded to himself, almost pleased, if he had known what pleasure felt like. This man before him proved an exceptional foe, so unlike the pathetic shrimps he had encountered so far. The only thing he did not like was the utter lack of fear—in fact, any sort of care—in the man’s eyes, as if Daisy did not pique his interest in the slightest.
Oh, he did not like it at all.
“I’ll wipe that smile off your face,” he declared, his voice rising to a shout at the last word as the box in his chest flared and burned with his Sun flame.
It did not take long and Daisy finally found out why—the indifference, the jabbing disinterest—in a sharp, bloodied smirk as the man’s tonfa crushed his skull
“I saw you.”
From the old sofa, Reborn regarded him silently, the only acknowledgment to his accusation. Byakuran would not have given in to curiosity, to frustration, but Zakuro was dead, one clean stab to the chest, and Kikyou had been missing for three days; they had found Daisy battered and lifeless in an alley, Bluebell in pieces, her small body destroyed by an explosion. He had seen Sawada Tsunayoshi from afar, bright enough to swallow the sky above him—and at his side was a baby in black, under a black fedora, and the discrepancy of colours almost made Byakuran laugh.
“To contain your enemy by guiding his growth,” he mused, his voice still composed enough to conceal the raging storm underneath. “A good plan, that.”
Reborn did not try to defend himself; he said instead, “I have never told you this before and I still don’t see how it will make a difference, but I’ll take my chances. Sit down.”
Then he told him the story—of a boy, Sawada Tsunayoshi, thrown into the future and forced to face a power beyond anything he had ever imagined before; of a girl, also thrown into the future to be a cornerstone of the boy’s resolve. But then she died and the boy, consumed by revenge, defeated the evil mastermind and finally returned to his time, without the girl.
“It was the first time I saw you die,” Reborn said and Byakuran could tell that he mentioned it as a fact, not a courtesy—even less a professed sympathy.
“That story seemed to end happily enough,” he commented.
The expression on Reborn’s face, despite its mask-like quality, could only be described as a scowl. “Everything one does, right or wrong, will cast shadows to the future. Kyoko was a sweet, innocent girl, but she was a person from the past and she died in the future. It defied all laws of nature.”
“I have no recollection of her.”
“You don’t and you won’t. She did not return; in consequence, she did not exist. Only those people you had abducted to the future retained any knowledge of her.”
A rush of envy-lined excitement filled Byakuran’s veins at the thought of such power. Fate was a tricky enemy, and so was time; he smiled at the thought of defeating both—and hid the prickle of displeasure at his current situation.
“I caused a big mess, didn’t I?”
Reborn would have punched him—he could see the inclination in those small clenched fists—except the blow never came. “This is the three-hundred-and-fifty-seventh time I have found you,” he said instead. “In each world I’ve come to, Tsuna invariably grows up into a man who cannot remember what trust is. He will eliminate every threat to the people he loves—you, of course, are at the top of his list—and then he will move to everyone who may become a threat, regardless of reasons. It’s only a matter of time before the rest of the world becomes a threat as well, including the people closest to him.”
“And now you aim to prevent that.”
“And have failed too many times.” Reborn paused, shoulders slumped, but did not look away. “The seven Arcobaleno are cursed to live forever. It is as well that I spend mine trying to rectify my mistakes.”
Byakuran rose to his feet. Zakuro was dead and so were the rest of his Guardians, but they were not him. The future that was the past did not matter. “I will not be defeated by a boy who cannot grow up,” he said.
Reborn’s smile was sad and contemptuous both. “Such arrogance. This is the three-hundred-and-fifty-seventh time I’ve heard that.”
the baby, all over again
“Future came to us and whispered in our ears.”
Tsuna looked anything but triumphant. Sadness pooled in his eyes like coffee stain on a tapestry of bloodshed, like the colour of his fingers under ripped, soaked gloves. At his feet, black blood streaked the ground and painted a defeated body.
Reborn swallowed the truth that he had failed again and left.
He still had an eternity to try.
“Would Xanxus have been a better choice?”
Iemitsu could feel Timoteo’s eyes on him. “You cannot play on the road not taken,” the former Vongola boss said, years of retirement adding more lines on his weathered face instead of easing some. “You should not.”
“Allow me to regret at least.”
“Some choices will end with regret, it’s inevitable,” Timoteo said, but his voice echoed hollow, a man beaten and conquered. Standing by the window, Reborn walked down the same path of loss and regret. Sasagawa Kyoko burned a memory brighter than any other in his mind, the beginning and the end of many things; lurking in the shadow of that flame was his weakness: he was a hitman, and he couldn’t kill his student.
The decision came as naturally as his grief. He would find Irie Shouichi, and he would change the story—or die trying.
Notes: In case some things are too vague orz
1. Kyoko was murdered by Byakuran when Tsuna and co. were brought to the future (TYL arc), and as the result, her existence was completely erased from history.
2. Reborn, with Shouichi’s help, will keep travelling from dimension to dimension to try and change each and every one of them until he succeeds. To my knowledge, Amano-sensei hasn’t said anything about the physiology of the Arcobalenos so far, so I’ve taken the liberty to decide that they cannot grow old—which also means that Reborn can keep travelling forever until he does succeed.
3. In canon, Byakuran mentioned that the Real Funeral Wreaths came from all over the world but obviously it isn’t the same in this fic. Please let it slide for once?
4. The Reborn in the last part is the Reborn of that universe, not the one who has appeared since the beginning of the fic.
Thank you for reading and please comment :)