Venture Out of Boredom (Chapter 2)

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Venture Out Of Boredom
Chapter 2

“The archives,” Mammon said.

Squalo looked at them like he wanted to scream.

“Yes,” he repeated, voice tight on seething rage, “the fucking archives.”

Mammon played with the hem of their robes. Anger had little effect on them besides that of making cold grow through them and their will to care seep out through their pores. “I don’t even know where they are.”

“Do I look like I do?” Squalo roared. “Just fetch me the fucking file, you piece of shit!”

Belphegor was grinning from his corner of the living room—the only corner where the walls were still free of claw marks and burns. Xanxus was out for the week as punishment for his last bout of fury; it had resulted in half of the kitchenware melting right onto the ground, making everything unusable. Apparently, the boss wasn’t busy enough that he couldn’t text Squalo cryptic orders for Squalo to then bestow on Mammon.

“I’m not going,” Mammon answered, looking with little interest as Squalo’s face grew redder and redder. He hadn’t even armed himself this morning. The stump of his arm was moving aimlessly around, making him look about as threatening as Levi. “You couldn’t pay me enough to go.”

They chuckled for added measure. Squalo looked ready to start frothing at the mouth.

“Boss has been waiting for the opportunity to go for over a month,” Levi said, walking out of the shadows like the stalking freak he was.

Boss can go there himself when he comes back.”

“Show some fucking respect,” Squalo screamed at them, waving his stump. “He said you have to go, so you’re fucking going.”

Mammon hummed. They could feel Fantasma’s cold body wrapped around their wrist under the sleeve of their robe; he flicked his tongue at the inside of their wrist. “Why me?”

“Fuck if I know,” Squalo muttered. “He said it had to be you.”

It was pathetically easy to read the envy on Squalo’s face, no matter how hard he tried to mask it as short-fused irritation. Squalo would never forgive Mammon for being by Xanxus’s side before anyone else, no matter that Mammon themself didn’t give a damn about it.

Levi cut into the conversation again, his voice grating Mammon’s nerves. “No one’s been allowed to go there since Bruno died.”

There was a silence.

“Who the fuck is Bruno?” Squalo asked.

Lavi grew red in the face, too. “The late archivist of Vongola,” he replied between clenched teeth. “Which you would know if you were actually interested in—”

“Yeah, no one’s interested in your blood purity spiel right now, Levi,” Mammon cut in. “Why a month? If they needed a librarian they could’ve just hired anyone from Mist’s branch.”

“The position of head archivist for Vongola has a very long and precious history,” Levi said loudly, “much the same as the position of Guardian. The Vongola Archives hold the history of the Family and of the world together inside a magnificent fourteenth century chapel renovated under Secondo’s don—”

“Bah,” Squalo said, turning his back to Levi, “who gives a shit. Whatever. Boss was waiting for the damn thing to open again.”

“I’ve never been there,” Mammon drawled. “And I hate going to the manor.”

“Well, fuck you, because you’re going.”

Belphegor snickered.

Mammon changed the floor under the sofa he was occupying into a pit full of lava, quick enough that Belphegor, who had only arrived a few months ago, couldn’t have predicted or gotten used to. The boy shrieked and wailed, his voice vibrating satisfyingly across the room and forcing Squalo to awkwardly try to plug his left ear with his stump. It was enough to drag a smirk out of Mammon.

They left the room while the chaos was still running high. Fantasma crawled on top of their head while they glided along the halls of the estate and to the frontyard. November was wet above their head, drops of rain clinging hard to their clothes and through their hood, until their hair stuck to their forehead and cheeks. Mammon snapped their fingers in the direction of the main hall, and a butler ran to them, holding an umbrella.

“Never mind that,” they said curtly. “Get me a chauffeur, I need to visit the main house.”

“Sir,” the man replied with a bow.

Mammon didn’t bother correcting him.

A young woman came out barely a minute later with keys to one of the cars in hand. She ushered Mammon to the back of it, insisting on giving them three different towels to dry with, regardless of the fact that the trip would take them about five minutes and that they would get soaked again the moment they set a foot outside.

Mammon petted Fantasma’s head all the way to the manor. He had his nose stuck to the cold glass window, beady eyes roaming the murky grey sight of the naked hills they drove through. “Wait here,” Mammon told the girl once they arrived. “I’ll be right back.”

They crossed the way to the entrance of the manor as fast as they could without doing themself the indignity of running. Another same-faced butler was waiting at the entrance with a pile of towels, and Mammon grabbed one on the way. They had started drying themself and walking toward the Ninth’s aisle of the estate when they remembered they weren’t here for that.

“You,” they said, pointing to the butler. The man yelped unattractively and almost let the other towels fall to the wet floor. “Tell me where the archives are.”

“The archives?” he repeated.

“Did I stutter?”

“No, sir,” the man replied. “Um. Down the hall to your right, all the way past the flower garden, on the other side of the glass house—”

“Oh, I see,” Mammon cut him off.

They had never realized the century-old building attached to the manor’s southern gardens was actually in use, let alone that it served as a library. So that was the former chapel Levi had mentioned. Mammon had only ever known the library on the second floor near Nono’s office, and which, according to Ganauche’s infrequent reports, the don used more often than his own work place.

Mammon turned on their heels and started walking in the direction of the gardens. Fantasma wrapped himself around their neck this time, tongue flickering in and out to taste the air around him. Vongola’s flower garden was a pathetic sight mid-November, drenched in rainwater, the soil turned to mud, spilling over the rock paths. The fountain in the middle was empty except for what the sky had wept over it and the greenish traces of weed around its walls. Mammon was almost sure they could see snails dragging their slimy bodies all over it as well.

It took them a good five minutes to reach the entrance of the repurposed chapel, by which point they had realized they could’ve gone around it and entered directly from outside the manor rather than losing time walking by the gardens. Their hair was still uncomfortably damp and sticky, their clothes glued to their skin; when they finally walked through the doors of the building the rush of hot air over their face couldn’t mask the discomfort of hearing their shoes shriek wetly on the floor.

They were angry.

There was a woman seated at the main desk, hunched over a gigantic book full of tiny script, round-faced and dark-haired. In the light of the laptop screen she wasn’t looking at she looked morbidly pale. A platinum stud piercing shone through her left nostril.

“Hey,” Mammon called.

She inhaled sharply and looked up from the book—and truly, it was the hugest thing Mammon had ever laid eyes on—and Mammon had a brief second of hesitation. Maybe not a woman after all.

Whoever they were, their face made a drastic jump from tenseness to smooth polite concern and something of a casual slouch. “Can I help you?” they asked in English. Their voice was very high. A woman’s voice.

For a moment, Mammon lost track of why they were here. “What’s your name?”

The stranger looked at them warily, and then they said something incomprehensible.

“What,” Mammon said.

“Just call me Cen,” the person said, a charming smile on their lips and their brown eyes lost somewhere above Mammon’s head, staring emptily.

“No,” Mammon replied. “Say it again.”

“Hyacinthe Faure.”

A man’s name and a woman’s voice. Mammon nodded, which made Hyacinthe Faure stare at them with a bit of perplexed irritation—and then Mammon remembered why they were here.

“I need Secondo’s birth certificate,” they declared, walking toward the desk and shooting a glance at the open volume on it, the book covering half of its surface by itself. “And the records of every cook ever employed by Vongola.”

Hyacinthe Faure’s eyes seemed to glaze over. “Really,” he said.

Really, Mammon almost replied. Almost smiled. Some sort of electric shock shook them at the thought, so they said, “If you don’t mind doing your job,” with as icy a voice as they could muster.

For a wild second their eyes met that of the librarian; and they thought Hyacinthe Faure would snap back.

Thankfully, the man seemed to remember his place. “Right,” he said instead. He turned around to type quickly over the keyboard, scrolling through the list agonizingly slowly when he reached the search results.

“Today, if you don’t mind,” Mammon said between their teeth.

Hyacinthe Faure’s back tensed before their eyes. All he did was keep scrolling, and then hum, and mutter under his breath—French, Mammon thought, but they were about as good at French as they were at being nice, so they couldn’t be sure. Finally, he rose to his feet, gripping the edge of the desk so hard that Mammon knew with certainty he had almost tripped on his own feet.

They stopped smiling when they noticed how tall the man was.

“Follow me,” Hyacinthe Faure said with a edge to his smile, now that he was physically looking down on Mammon.

Mammon did, silently. Fantasma was licking the air in the direction of Hyacinthe to their side, and if they focused, Mammon thought they could smell a hint of flower on the man, very faint. No perfume or cologne. Maybe soap or deodorant. Most of it was drowned under the scent of cold tobacco.

He was dressed rather smartly: black pants and black leather shoes and a black top, and above it, a salmon pink suit jacket—a woman’s jacket, no doubt. It accommodated the span of his chest and opened over his collarbones, and before they could help it, Mammon looked at the skin there, the hint of ink etched into skin peeking above the line of fabric, black on his skin.

“There,” Hyacinthe Faure said all of a sudden.

Mammon had rid themself out of the need to jump at things. It came with training themself to wield illusion and human perception and human brains. Still, they almost stepped back when Hyacinthe stepped forward and next to them, one long-fingered hand grabbing a very thin file between two very thick ones.

“Secondo’s birth certificate,” he said simply.

Mammon didn’t know what to say in return, so they simply took the file.

“I can’t allow you to take it out without clearance,” Faure continued, leaning against the shelves and smiling at them with half-lidded eyes. “But you can make a copy.”

“What about the cooks?” Mammon asked, finding their voice again.

“That’ll take me hours to gather. Maybe days.” He scratched over his collarbone, above the imprint of the tattoo on his chest—a constellation, Mammon thought distantly, tiny dots linking stars together and dipping under the edge of his collar so that they couldn’t decide which one it was—”I can make the copies for you. Give me your phone number, I’ll text you when I’m done.“

Mammon looked at him in silence.

“Are you flirting with me?” they asked at last, disbelief running through them.

Faure coughed, hard, and grabbed the edge of a shelf before he lost his balance. He almost managed to send the entire thing down with him. When he finally managed to stabilize it and look up, his face was beet-red.

“Fuck, no,” he said, voice trembling even higher than it naturally was. “Why does everyone ask me that?”

The muscles along Mammon’s back relaxed for the first time since they had laid eyes on the archivist. “Is that how you treat every person you meet, then? The smiles and everything?”

Hyacinthe looked at them in incredulity. “Yeah, of course. That’s just being polite.”

No, it isn’t, Mammon thought. But all they did was smile, sincere and warm, for the first time in years. “I have to admit I’m impressed,” they chuckled. “It’s not every day that someone acts like this around a Varia official.”

“A what now?” Hyacinthe asked.

Mammon stopped smiling.

Silence hung between them, stretching awkwardly beyond the limits of strictly polite. Hyacinthe’s face didn’t lose any of its flush but Mammon’s did, slow and tense. Fantasma stopped hiding under their hood and crawled on top of it, and Hyacinthe’s eyes immediately zeroed in on him with a mix of fascination and horror.

“You’re not Vongola,” Mammon said.

Hyacinthe looked back at them. He put a hand against his shoulder again, thumb rubbing over his neck and the highest of his chest. As if he was trying to hide while knowing perfectly well that his body was too big for that. “I wasn’t until three weeks ago,” he admitted.

Mammon grabbed Fantasma, guiding him to hide into their sleeve again with a brush of their thumb against the cold scales of his head. “I thought this job was reserved for long-time Family members.”

“I have no idea,” Hyacinthe replied. “I only started yesterday.”

“How did you get hired?”

This made him smile, weirdly enough. “I have strong opinions about art history.”

It didn’t answer Mammon’s question. Faure didn’t look like he was lying per se, but he hadn’t looked like he was just being polite earlier either. Would a spy be this honest about not being Family, though?

“Which Family are you from, originally?” Mammon questioned again.

Hyacinthe looked uncomfortable. “None. I wasn’t—I mean… I had no idea that this entire mafia thing even existed a month ago. The Mist Guardian hired me because he liked me, I think.”

So either this guy was telling the truth, or he was talented enough to fool the Ninth’s most cunning Guardian into getting a position Levi considered honorable.

Mammon was surprised with how much they wanted the former to be true.

“Strong opinions, huh,” they murmured. Hyacinthe looked a little guilty at that, but not much. “And here I just thought you had a death wish, flirting with me.”

“Maybe I do,” Hyacinthe said defensively, which made Mammon smile again with something akin to glee.

“You’re like a baby.” They put a hand in their pocket where the purple pacifier lay hidden, and it was skin-warm to their touch, as usual, like a living thing. “This is tragic.”

Hyacinthe snorted. “The only tragedy here is your outfit.”

Mammon laughed. Their fist closed around the pacifier and for once they didn’t flinch back at the feel of it warming like a flame and pulsating like a heartbeat. They held it tight, as if wanting to smother the magic out of it, the way they hadn’t dared do since Verde had found a way to bring them back—not completely, but enough. Just enough. When they were done laughing their stomach ached, like sores, as if they had just exercised thoroughly. It took a moment after that for their breath to come back to a normal sort of rhythm, and even then, none of the tension from earlier came back.

“My name is Mammon,” they declared. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

Hyacinthe grinned. He looked out of place in the low light and dust of the chapel, stuck between rows of books and papers and photographs, the gold key of the building hanging from his neck and glinting softly. Like he should’ve been standing on a bight-lit stage somewhere with arrogance breaking out of him. Like he had missed his turn along the way.

Maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing. Mammon had missed a lot of turns as well.

Hyacinthe doesn’t remember anyone making him feel as emotionally unstable as Reborn has in the last forty-eight hours, besides maybe his mom. It places him very high up the list of people Hyacinthe wants to avoid, and truly, he does want to avoid him. The fact that he’s desperately hot for the man doesn’t make him less infuriating, and the fact that for the two whole days he’s been here Reborn has woken him up by dangling Quinto’s Sun’s manuscript over his face has made Hyacinthe very, very angry.

“Wanna put your dick there instead and see if I bite?” he seethes on the morning of the third day. He doesn’t even open his eyes; he sweeps a hand over his face mechanically and feels the caress of old, soft paper on his skin as Reborn retreats away from his bed. “Jesus fucking Christ.”

To Hyacinthe’s pure, unadulterated horror, a tiny voice says, “Bad words!”

He opens his eyes and sits up too fast—for a long moment he sees nothing but grey spots and feels nothing but the buzz of fatigue at his temples and the hole hunger is digging into his stomach. He blinks, turns his head; Reborn is nowhere to be found by now but Lambo is standing in the doorway, his pajamas stained and drool around his mouth.

“Lambo,” Hyacinthe says.

Lambo tugs the lollipop out of his mouth with a disgusting wet sound. “Mama says it’s breakfast time,” he announces.


“Didn’t you hear,” Reborn says in Hyacinthe’s ear—and Hyacinthe feels the blood rush to his face like flood gates have opened in his neck, and he starts feeling dizzy with it by the time Reborn chuckles and steps away from the wall. He’s wearing clothes the exact same color as the wallpaper. “Time to wake up, Hyacinthe Faure.”

“Can you fu—” Hyacinthe inhales. Chokes a little. “Please get out of my room, Reborn.”

“What were you gonna say?” Lambo asks, very loudly.

“Something bad,” Reborn tells him. “Almost as bad as your aim.”

For a second Hyacinthe dares hope that Lambo won’t get it; but the boy does, and his face grows red even as his eyes water, and a pink grenade materializes in his hand. “Die!” he screams at the grown hitman standing in the room before throwing it, and Hyacinthe is still in bed and he has his legs out of the blanket but he doesn’t move. He’s been outrunning those grenades for two days now. He’s tired.

Maybe Reborn gets a flicker of concern in him, or maybe Hyacinthe is just lucky that for once the grenade does reach Reborn and Reborn choses to swat it right through the window. The glass breaks from the strength of the throw but at least the thing explodes outside, still in the air.

The tree that sprouts from the neighbor’s garden right next to the stone wall separating it from Nana’s is singed. Flames crack along the high branches. Reborn hums, and his magic chameleon turns into a pipe and sprays water at it from the broken window.

This is Hyacinthe’s life now.

“I’m hungry,” he mutters. “I’d like to change into clean clothes, if you don’t mind.”

“I’m gonna kill—” Lambo starts. He lets out a strangled noise then, because Tsuna is in the doorway and has picked him up into his arms.

“Sorry,” he says, in English. He’s half-dressed into his uniform, his hair a complete mess and his eyes darting nervously between Hyacinthe and where Hyacinthe supposes Reborn has fused back with the wall of the bedroom.

“It’s okay,” Hyacinthe replies gently.

Tsuna smiles like he’s about to die. Then he runs off and down the stairs with Lambo still squirming in his hold.

“He should be better than this at speaking English,” the wall says in a deep, sultry voice. “I arranged it so he’d have an excellent teacher at school.”

Hyacinthe throws his pillow in Reborn’s estimated direction.

There hasn’t been much for Hyacinthe to do since he arrived. He doesn’t run after Reborn because he hates running and because Reborn always comes back to taunt him anyway, like he’s just a kid inside the body of a gorgeous man. Mostly Hyacinthe helps Nana with chores and cooking and sits down in the garden to smoke for hours while emailing Lisa at work. She’s friendlier when she’s not in his immediate vicinity.

Mammon hasn’t answered his texts in twenty-four hours. Hyacinthe looks at his empty notifications and shakes the ash off the tip of his cigarette absently. He’s sitting on the edge of the wooden terrace with his bare feet in the grass, dew wetting his soles.

Yamamoto sits down next to him, and Hyacinthe jumps out of his skin, phone dropping from his fingers and onto the grass.

“Sorry!” the boy says immediately, in Japanese. “Sorry,” he repeats in English. And then he smiles the same bashful smile Hyacinthe saw on the day he arrived and leans down to pick up his phone for him.

“S’fine,” Hyacinthe mutters warily. He nods his thanks when Yamamoto hands back the phone and takes another drag of his cigarette, taking care to exhale the smoke where Yamamoto won’t receive a faceful of it.

He can feel the boy staring at the side of his face. It’s a little awkward. Yamamoto doesn’t speak English and Hyacinthe only knows the barest of Japanese platitudes, like how to ask where the bathroom is, or how to say good night. He doesn’t need to ask either of those at the moment.

“Are you here to pick up Tsuna?” he asks, still. Yamamoto takes a moment to understand, but then he nods. Hyacinthe smiles. “Gokudera here too?” Yamamoto points backwards, and when Hyacinthe turns his head he sees Tsuna’s other friend and his sister Bianchi, whom he met the day before.

“This house is a fucking nightmare,” he grunts around another puff of smoke.

Next to him, Yamamoto smiles.

The grass moves then, up and up like a whole pan of it is just lifting up from the ground. Hyacinthe lets out a shout of terror-disgust when it grabs his ankle and pulls.

Reborn lifts his grass mask and unrolls the grass scarf from around his head. “Today you’re going to school with them, Hyacinthe Faure.”

“Stop fucking with me,” Hyacinthe replies, looking at the sky and lying down on his back, heart beating a hole right through his throat.

“Just fuck you, right?” Reborn says with mild amusement.

Hyacinthe splutters. He closes his eyes and tries to regulate his own breathing and stop the panic attack and nausea in their tracks, at least enough so that his head stops swimming. There’s a deeper rage simmering inside him than there has been in months, maybe years. He opens his mouth.

And he chokes again, because he almost chews on bitter paper. He snatches the sheet out of his face and sits up, ready to yell for less profound reasons again.

“You’ll get another one when you come back if you accompany them,” Reborn says. He’s holding a page of the manuscript in his hand and waving is carefully around, barely firmly enough to make the air move.

There’s another page in Hyacinthe’s hands. It looks perfectly intact except for a very faint damp spot from his own saliva, which should fade on its own within a couple minutes. Half of the page has the description of some kind of marine plant on it and the other a drawing by Quinto’s Sun’s hand—some kind of algae, but with teeth.

Hyacinthe clenches his free hand. “You took it out of the binding?”

“Don’t worry,” Reborn replies. He’s started fanning himself with the page he’s still holding, and the grass blades on his somehow fitted costume are plowing lightly under the breeze he’s creating. “I’m not a savage. I’ll put them all back in when you’re done collecting every page.”

“No you won’t,” Hyacinthe replies. He pushes himself to his feet with some difficulty and stands.

Hyacinthe is a tall man. It doesn’t matter that Reborn is taller, that’s expected of genetics and averages and other such nonsense. Hyacinthe stands proud and digs his index into the wet grass-suit the hitman is wearing.

I’m getting them back into the binding,” he hisses. “I’m not letting you touch this file any more than strictly necessary. And what the fuck do you mean, collecting the pages?”

Reborn smirks down at him. “I’m setting up a system of effort and reward,” he says.

“I’m not a child.”

“You look twenty at most.”

“I’m twenty-six,” Hyacinthe says, and tries to kick Reborn in the shin. Reborn sidesteps him easily. “No one would come after you for spending a wild night in with me.”

For some reason Hyacinthe has a moment of hesitation at his own words, and the vague, anxious feeling that he’s forgetting something. Reborn doesn’t look like he’s noticed, but Leon the chameleon is staring at him with his clever yellow eyes. It feels a lot like X-ray machines do.

“You can either comply with my requests and get your pages back one by one,” Reborn says in a bored voice, “or say adieu to your precious file altogether.”

“Don’t you adieu me when you can’t even pronounce it right,” Hyacinthe grits out.

“Precisely,” Reborn says, smirking.

And then Hyacinthe blinks, and the man is gone.

It’s a long while before he stops staring angrily at the spot where Reborn was standing. Yamamoto moves next to him, rising to his feet—and Hyacinthe remembers that Yamamoto was here at all, was here the whole time. His face burns again. He’s never been so grateful that the boy can’t speak a language other than Japanese.

Hyacinthe looks down at the page he’s still holding between two fingers. It’s a thick and soft kind of paper, an old kind. The ink looks like it’s fused with it over the centuries. And, truly, one page is already better than nothing.

He checks his phone. Still no text from Mammon.

“All right,” he says out loud. “I’ll do it.”

Yamamoto looks at him curiously.

Gokudera looks suspicious of Hyacinthe’s presence on their way to school until Hyacinthe quiets him with a cigarette. It makes him feel a little like a drug dealer, and he has to reassure himself that, technically, what he’s doing is not as illegal as providing a minor with drugs. Even if it’s still illegal.

Reborn is nowhere to be seen. Even Tsuna looks relaxed, which is as good an indicator as any that the man isn’t around for once; actually, Tsuna is looking at Hyacinthe more than the road and barely misses hitting a streetlamp a few times. Yamamoto or Gokudera pull him out of the way every time, and the boy apologizes and laughs it off.

It’s a little obvious, and a little sad, what the boy wants from him, Hyacinthe thinks. He avoids meeting Tsuna’s eyes as much as he can and tries not to think too hard on how he must appear to the other, with his boyish hair and his deep voice, wearing a blue tie with pink flowers over a black suit, with a diamond stud in his nose and stars inked into the skin of his chest.

Hyacinthe is not very good at talking to children. He’s not very good at talking to anyone who isn’t as bitter as he is. He’ll talk to Tsuna about gender if he has to, but until he does—as long as Tsuna’s English or Hyacinthe’s Japanese are too poor to hold an actual conversation—he’ll put it off.

He doesn’t like thinking that this is why Reborn is holding him here. If Reborn really cared he’d do the reassuring and the educating on his own instead of using him.

Gokudera starts screaming on the road in front of them. Hyacinthe doesn’t immediately react, since hearing Gokudera scream has become a habit now that he’s been in the boy’s presence for about three days; but then he raises his head to look out of bored reflex and freezes.

There’s another boy at the end of the street, right next to the school’s entrance. He has a weapon drawn and gives out the same kind of icy, slimy dangerous feeling that Hyacinthe feels around the mad prince of Varia.

“Mmh,” he says, and tries to turn around.

Reborn is standing right behind him. Of course.

“You wouldn’t happen to be here to give me a good bye kiss, would you,” Hyacinthe says.

Reborn smiles. “No.” He grabs Hyacinthe’s shoulder and turns him around uncaringly, so Hyacinthe has to watch the disaster happen.

Gokudera is sent flying within the first thirty seconds of the fight, if it can be called such. Yamamoto only lasts about a minute longer. And then Reborn gets involved, points a gun at Tsuna and shoots, and it’s only because Hyacinthe has seen Dying Will Bullets before, encased in crystal deep in the old Vongola chapel, where they keep Monet’s Charing Cross Road—only because they’ve been used on him before—that he doesn’t wrap his hand around Reborn’s throat and choke him to death.

Tsuna rises from the ground, almost naked, with a Dying Will Flame shining bright orange on his forehead. It’s the same as Basil’s. The same as Iemitsu’s.

Hyacinthe grits his teeth and watches Tsuna fight an opponent way stronger than him with bile rising to his throat. “You’re despicable,” he tells Reborn, after Tsuna takes a hit to the torso that should’ve shattered at least one of his ribs. He’s only still standing because of the effects of the Flame.

For once, Reborn doesn’t reply.

Hyacinthe lets the cold take over. He lets himself be distanced from empathy and from nausea, until he’s barely aware that a fight is happening at all, until his body feels like it’s floating in water and he’s slowly drowning, peaceful, like choking out a candle.

Another voice screams, then. The wail pierces through the fog in Hyacinthe’s mind and he blinks slowly, until he can watch rather than just see. A teacher has run out into the courtyard with a fire extinguisher in their hands—Gokudera’s dynamite.

Hyacinthe hasn’t even heard it go off.

His feet take him forward almost automatically. The teacher—a short thing with twig-like limbs and bright grey hair—is dragging the black-haired boy back into class, and for a reason Hyacinthe doesn’t want to start contemplating, he’s letting them. He barely looks annoyed. It’s like the last five minutes haven’t happened at all.

Except Tsuna is lying on the ground with a bleeding nose and a bruise the shape of a fist in his side. Hyacinthe kneels down next to him despite how his back protests and gives him the jacket of his suit to cover up with.

He doesn’t really have words. Tsuna doesn’t seem especially shocked at everything that happened either, just resigned and a little surprised. A lot thankful.

“Fucking prick,” Hyacinthe says between his teeth. He has no doubt that Reborn heard him.

Yamamoto and Gokudera are pulling themselves upright without his help, and their clothes are intact besides the odd black spot on Gokudera’s sleeves and a couple drops of blood from a cut in Yamamoto’s cheek.

In the distance the teacher has stopped dragging the dangerous boy around. They’re slumped onto the steps leading into the school instead, face pale and blank of all emotion.

“His name is Hibari,” Reborn says, then, satisfied. “He’s an interesting one.”

“Interesting for what?” Hyacinthe replies without looking at him. “For getting Nono’s heir killed?”

“For becoming the new Cloud Guardian.”

Hyacinthe doesn’t have a very good relationship with Visconti. It comes from the fact that Croquant doesn’t have a good relationship with Visconti either, and Hyacinthe isn’t too proud to admit that he’s very biased when it comes to his boss. “I thought Clouds were supposed to be the aloof protectors.”

“Yes, well,” Reborn says with a grin. “I’m putting a bit of a twist into the tradition.”

The Ninth must’ve gone senile, Hyacinthe thinks, to put the future of the Family into this man’s hands. No matter how nice the hands look.

“So why did you bring me here?” he asks tiredly.

Reborn looks at where the teacher with grey hair is sitting. “This is Tsuna’s English teacher, Ylva Byquist.”

“I’m never gonna remember that name.”

“It doesn’t matter. I want you to learn Japanese from them.”

Hyacinthe stares at him in wonder. “You made me watch this disaster just so I could meet Tsuna’s teacher?”

Reborn tugs on the rim of his fedora so the shadow of it covers his eyes. It should be ridiculous, but it just looks hot. “Byquist is one of two people that Hibari Kyoya doesn’t want to kill on sight. They might be useful in the future. And if you want to make yourself useful as well, you’d better start learning the language.”

“I don’t want to make myself anything—” Hyacinthe stops talking to catch the thick page Reborn is letting drop to the floor from above his head. “Fuck you. Don’t fucking get it dirty, this is an antique.”

“Two pages,” Reborn says airily. “Two hundred and thirty-two to go.”

He’s standing in the sunlight and yet his eyes are cold. So, so cold. Hyacinthe doesn’t feel the danger that surrounds him as strongly as others must; he’s not a mafioso. At least not in that meaning, no matter what Mammon says.

“Fine,” he says.


“I have a condition, though.”

The way Reborn looks at him is the way he must look at insects, Hyacinthe thinks. It’s unflattering and vile. He’ll probably think even less of him when he hears what Hyacinthe has to say, but still, Hyacinthe pushes the words out of his mouth: “You stop jump scaring me.”

Reborn chuckles. “It’s so much fun, though.”

“Maybe for you,” Hyacinthe snaps back. “But I’ve been getting nightmares again and I’m really goddamn tired of people setting back all my progress just because they think I’m fun to mess with when I’m paranoid.”

His heart is racing. He really hopes he doesn’t have to say more than that—that he doesn’t have to spell out every letter for Reborn to get what he means.

Reborn stares at him for a moment before bringing the edge of his hat down again dramatically. “I guess I can compromise on this,” he says.

There’s no faking the relief that shoots through Hyacinthe at his words. It’s almost better than he imagines having sex with this man would be. He doesn’t say thank you, but it’s a close thing.

“I’ll have to find a better way to keep you interesting,” Reborn continues, tapping his index on his chin. “Maybe have Bianchi slip you a bit of her cooking every morning, build up your poison resistance.”


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