“Spy on our son for us,” said Isaku Hibari; his Chinese wife giggling as she clung to his arm.
Enma was unmoved; only blinking twice casually. Requests of this caliber are no surprise when you work for the elites. The head alpha of The Hibari House was no way as powerful as The Head of Vongola House or other Houses, but he had quite the influence in East Asia and thus was no less cunning.
“I thought I am interviewed for a job under your son and not for you,” Enma stated flatly.
“Which is true, but you have yet to swear your loyalty to him; so you can act as a double agent or some sort,” something about the Japanese Head Alpha was unnerving. For such a serious request, the man and his wife were smiling like it was a joke. “Kyoya, as the rumor says, is highly intelligent. We have a feeling that he’s planning to rebel against us; his dear parents,” the man added.
Enma glanced at the framed picture of said son on top of the head alpha’s bulky desk. The teen was only 17, two years younger than Enma, and closing in to his coming of age. The whole world knew of this. The boy had been making news with his achievements especially ever since the head alpha of Vongola, Giotto, took him in as his protege.
“He hasn’t been coming home even though it's school holiday and he's not even picking up our calls. I am worried he starts forgetting about us, his parents, or worse, preparing a master plan to overthrow our rule in this family,” Hui Yin Hibari chimed with mock worry on her beautiful face. She was born to another strong household in China; and made herself an even bigger fortune by marrying the head alpha of another strong family. “He even built this new club, organization, foundation or whatever, without informing us and has been recruiting more members nowadays. We sent him to the head alpha of Vongola so that he would recruit Kyoya to his upper ranks, not for our son to build his own little clique of goons to overthrow his parents,” Hui Yin continued with a smile that didn’t match her words, “We are just checking whether The Vongola is giving our son ideas that we wont agree with”.
“The last time he was here, he left in anger too,” her husband added.
“Oh true!” She had the gal to look surprised, “What were we even talk about for him to react so strongly dear?”
“You were the one doing more talking to him than I did, dear”.
“Oh yes! I think he was talking about courtship,” the wife said.
“No, dear. I think you were the one talking about courtship”.
The wife chuckled so suddenly that even Enma flinched. “Yes! Yes! I did. I was only pulling his leg a little and he was so offended. Our son is very high strung, I was only insinuating to introduce him to some omegas on his coming of age celebration and he was angered”.
“I don’t think suggesting to invite 100 young omegas to the occasion could be considered as a light joke, my love”.
The woman chuckled again. Enma shifted in discomfort.
The two were half fooling around, but Enma felt they would one day come up in his radar again to collect their favor. “What can I gain from this? You know both your son and Vongola will kill me if they ever found out I’m spying on them”.
“You’re given a dishonorable discharge from military school,” the head alpha disrupted. Enma's eyes widened slightly. “What you did was admirable. Calling out the superiors who killed your friends for their own selfish reasons. Your dismissal is honestly the best thing you can get out of this scenario; but I have connections in the military,” the man's smirk was sinister, “Very influential connections”.
Enma was silent.
“I can clear your name and have those low-lives banished”.
An agreement was reached.
When Enma faced the future heir of the Hibari household, he thought the younger teen looked exactly like his pictures in magazines. Something about the elites were very different; in the way they speak, they walk, they carry their selves. And in the case of Hibari Kyoya, in the way he sighed in disappointment as he sat on a very regal chair. The teen massaged his temple and muttered, “Tetsuya, I told you I don’t need a detective”.
Enma blinked. Detective?
“Oh well, Hibari-san,” Kusakabe Tetsuya started with his casual title for his alpha. He was a beta and had introduced himself as Hibari Kyoya’s personal assistant, hence the familiarity between the two. Honestly Enma couldn’t understand why a 17 year old would need a personal assistant; but being a regular citizen, what does he know about the life of an alpha heir? “I was merely thinking of a way that would help with – “
“Tetsuya,” Hibari’s voice was calm, yet icy. It was a tone that was trained to sound intimidating – or maybe he was born with such authority, Enma had no idea. What he knew was that the teen looked way beyond his years just then. “I. Don’t. Need. A detective”.
Enma was in the middle of turning his head toward Kusakabe. He swore he was told he was recruited to be a member of The Foundation; not to be a detective. He saw Kusakabe in the middle of opening his mouth as if to explain his cause; but in came a man in his mid-twenties . If it wasn’t for his black attire; the color itself is a symbol for Vongolan’s elites; and his shoulder-length red hair, Reno may not believe he was seeing the man himself. A lot of people have red hair, but if you were in Palazzo Bianco, the infamous quarters of The House of Vongola, the only red haired man would be G – The Primo’s right hand man and the Storm Guardian.
The alpha slipped inside unannounced from the sleek double doors and without any warning, he blurted, “We’re departing in two hours to go after Reborn”.
Hibari stood from his seat with such alert, “Alright, I’ll be ready in –“
“You’re not going,” was G’s next statement; short and final, “Primo’s order”.
Hibari paused and Enma witnessed the two glaring at each other. “G, I am telling you –“
“No. I am telling you,” G cut him short with a harsh tone, “The Primo is telling you”.
Hibari Kyoya had a rather stoic visage most of the time, yet right then looked pissed. “Then I will speak to Giotto,” he hissed.
“Be a sensible guy for a sec,” G’s tone calmed. It was still reprimanding, but there was something warm in his tone, “Look, I dont know what is between you two; but you need to stop testing him. Primo is not in his best moods nowadays and It is for you to understand that and respect his feelings”.
“I will not when he doesn’t respect mine,” Hibari responded; still very much headstrong about this.
“You know what, Kyoya, this is not the time. There’s something much more urgent,” G sighed, “Pay us a favor will you? Stay here and watch the palazzo. We’ll never know if Reborn will visit,” the man glimpsed at Kusakabe and Reno. He looked like he was holding back from saying more. “Anyhow, I shall prepare for my leave,” he turned around for the door.
Hibari didn’t seem to give up. He tailed after the man outside, “Wait, G – fuck”.
And they were both out of the room. Enma stole a peek at Kusakabe, who spent no time before following his boss. So Enma went after him.
The four of them crossed the hall way; both the guardian and The Primo’s protégé were ahead, arguing. Enma was far too busy paying attention to the expensive paintings decorating the walls and the thick curtains that had to be more expensive than his own set of clothing. It wasn’t until they were close enough to the arguing pair that he could hear their banter.
“He’s the one with the problem. He is lashing out for no reason!”
“Kyoya, look, he has all the reasons to”.
“You know I can help. I want to help”.
“Not now, Kyoya,” G sighed heavily for the tenth time that day. He put one hand in his suit’s pocket and took Hibari’s hand. “Here,” he put the object he took from his pocket into the inside of Hibari’s palm.
Hibari opened his palm in curiosity, “A key?”
“To Tsunayoshi’s room. You’d like that, don’t you?”
Hibari was silenced for a moment, but he quickly got to himself and lurched at the storm guardian. His hand grabbed at the storm guardian. Enma blanched at the sight. No one touches the guardians that way and gets away with it.
“You’re just looking for a way to get me to stay!!” Hibari exclaimed, evidence of anger crystal clear.
“It’s a good opportunity, maybe you can get to know him better,” G was casual despite the show of disrespect, “And maybe you can look for signs of Reborn’s whereabouts there”.
“Liar! You guys already found out where that man is”.
“Well, he’s Reborn. He’ll find a way to get out of our clutch. Better look for any pointers while we can,” G smirked down at the teen.
Hibari didn’t seem happy. He hissed under clenched teeth, “I am not allowed anywhere near his room”.
G easily pulled Hibari’s grasp on his collar and he then pat said collar from invisible dust. “Now you do. You have a guardian’s word”.
Hibari looked down at the inside of his palm whereas G looked around before he said, “So, I shall take my leave”. The man walked ahead. Hibari spent longer to study the key before he called the man and chased after him. Enma was about to follow when Kusakabe held him back and shook his head.
“Lets return to Hibari-san’s study,” the guy said.
It was hard to believe at first, but the only son of the Hibari household actually had his own study in Palazzo Bianco and that said something about his status inside The House of Vongola. In fact, inside the study was a framed picture of Hibari and The Primo himself; the prior in his Guilleford Academy uniform and the latter in his full formal getup, his honorary medals and emblems clasped securely on his sash.
That picture was hung between two heavy shelves of books, right next to another picture of the Hibari heir alongside his other elite peers in his academy, wearing suits as though they were adults. It painted a relationship that validated what the media had said. Hibari Kyoya was close with The Primo and he was highly regarded among European Alpha Houses. People even wondered if he was the next Vongolan Primo. While that was impossible, people still liked to talk; some of them even believed the Hibari heir and The Primo were in a romantic relationship.
“You may sit here, Enma,” Kusakabe offered the seats facing the huge window, right next to the antique cabinet holding bottles of wines. Enma took a sit and Kusakabe opened the cabinet and prepared them a drink. He offered one glass for Enma, to which Enma thanked him. The young man, maybe as old as Enma, then sat across from Enma. “I apologize, Mr. Cozart. I though we will need you for a while but it seems like the problem has been solved. I will send you back in the afternoon”.
Enma straightened up in alert. “I thought you need me to be a permanent member of The Foundation”.
“Oh, no. No, that’s not it. I apologize if I gave off that impression. It was more of a short contract,” Kusakabe slackened his tie and unbuttoned the two first buttons of his dress shirt. The guy was being casual to get Enma to relax. And maybe as an apology. “Drink,” the man urged with a tilt of his own glass toward Enma. Enma finished his own wine. It was nice. Thus the luxury of a young Alpha heir – the excuse to drink wine as part of tradition.
“Was it a detective work?” Enma couldn’t help but ask.
Kusakabe didn’t respond, instead offering the antique bottle of wine to Enma, “More?”
Enma understood the cue to not speak anymore about the work. “Sure,” he extended his glass to be filled with more wine.
As he finished his second glass, Enma thought of The Hibari alpha pair’s offer and how his dismissal could not earn him their favor. He had to look for a way to stay so he could appease the Hibari head. He needed to stay by the Hibari heir.
They conversed on everything about nothing for about an hour with the company of Hibari’s wine collection. Kusakabe smartly avoided mentioning the real nature of Enma's initial work. Around the end of that one hour mark, Enma caught a line of black cars coming to the grand entrance of the palazzo. He couldn’t see clearly from the window’s view, but it seemed like a group of people were also coming out of the building. A person was walking ahead of everyone in the direction if the now idling cars. He had red hair.
That was G.
He opened the black car right in the middle and waited as though it was opened for someone. It was then the sight of those people became clearer as they approached closer to the car.
They formed a line, half of them wore black, signifying their position in Vongola. The one at the front had wild golden hair and wore a cape.
It was The Primo – the youngest Head Alpha in history, now 27 years old. Behind him was a line of his guardians in exception of G who had walked ahead. From their heads, Enma could guess which one was which. The ones slightly behind the Primo, on his left and right, were Asari and Knuckle. Alaude and Spade was behind them. Lampo was strangely straying slightly behind with a number of maids and other officials from the palazzo.
Once the Primo had settled inside the car, G followed him and closed the door. Afterwards said car and the three cars in front of it departed first. The next two guardians went inside the next car and departed; mirrored by the last two guardians as they shortly departed too as Lampo and the rest waved at their departure.
So The Lightning Guardian will be the one in charge for a while , Enma thought. Before he could put more thought into this, unfortunately, Kusakabe cut that train of thoughts as if reading where Enma's mind was going, “Would you like to have some snacks, Mr. Cozart? I could get the maids to prepare some”.
“Ah, sure,” Enma responded for the mere sake of responding. It seemed they didn’t want Enma to know much about the internal workings of the House.
Kusakabe hadnt even left his couch to go to the nearest maid when Hibari made his entrance. His pace was brisk; face clearly showing his displeasure. “That fucking herbivore –“.
“Hibari-san, you werent in the lobby?” Kusakabe enquired. The Alpha glared at him as he sat behind his desk, right in front of the framed picture of him and The Primo.
“I don’t want to see that man and his smug face out,” Hibari grumbled. Kusakabe, Enma noted, was desperate to please the alpha.
“How about some wine and snacks, Hibari-san?” Offered Kusakabe. No response was given, so Kusakabe pressed on, “How about going to Sawada-san’s room?”
“Tetsuya,” Hibari warned as if the suggestion itself was offensive.
“The Storm Guardian is right, maybe you can help with tracking Reborn or maybe… get to know something about Sawada-san”.
“Shut it, Tetsuya”.
Enma saw it; his chance. He needed to assure the alpha that he could stay and be useful. Enma needed that favor from The Hibari’s Head Alpha to get revenge.
“I can help,” he stood from his seat. The two other occupants of the room turned to him. “You’re tracking a man right? The man the Guardians are after? What is his name, Reborn?” He started, “You were hiring me as a detective. I can do it”.
Kusakabe shook his head, “It’s no longer needed. The Guardians have it all under control”.
“But they gave you the key to investigate for clues on this Reborn person right? Surely if a Guardian asked you to do that, it was because this wouldn’t be an easy job even for them,” Enma defended.
“Which is a good point. It is not an easy job,” Kusakabe fully turned to face Enma, “When I was looking to hire a detective, I didn’t expect that man is our culprit. Now I don’t think you are up for the job because that man is as slippery as a snake”. Enma gulped at the description. “His name is Reborn, and he’s the strongest hitman in The Arcobaleno”.
The Arcobaleno. Of course. No wonder even The Storm Guardian looked wary when mentioning him. The Arcobaleno is a group of betas whose talents exceeded even alphas. They were said to be coming from different line of professions, each excelling in their own areas. They were known among House officials and The Governments. They offered services for the elites on numerous missions. Their line of work was nowhere innocent nor was it public; yet they were the best help anyone could get on anything. Only the elites could afford their talent.
The sound of that was intimidatig, but Enma wouldn’t give up his work. “Which is even more of a reason for me to help. The Arcobaleno is not an easy target. Any kind of investigation would be necessary,” when the two didn’t seem impressed, Enma added, “I know Lal Mirch”.
Hibari Kyoya lifted his gaze, “How do you know that name?”
“I used to work with the military. She assists us a lot”.
“You must’ve been in CEDEF then,” Hibari’s gaze sharpened when Enma nodded. Afterwards he addressed his assistant, “You hired a CEDEF member”.
“N-no, not really Hibari-san. Mr. Cozart, to my knowledge, is no longer a member to CEDEF and I thought the skills he got from CEDEF could be useful,” Kusakabe answered.
“And why are you no longer a part of CEDEF?” Hibari questioned.
“I… decided to leave for personal reasons,” Enma answered. Kusakabe gave him a look and it was then Enma realized; he knew Enma had lied.
“Young Master,” Enma started with the proper title for a young alpha heir, “I will prove to be a good asset for you! I’ll use whatever I have learned from CEDEF to help you!”
Kusakabe shifted but then said in support, “Taking him to Sawada-san’s room might be useful. I mean, surely The Storm Guardian gave you the key for you to make use of it”. Something in the way Kusakabe phrased it made Enma think this was not only about tracking an Arcobaleno – in fact this was nothing about whatever investigation they were talking about.
Hibari Kyoya gazed at his right hand man, then at Enma. “Call me Hibari. You don’t work under me. You work alongside me now,” Hibari told Enma, “So lets go, Mr. Detective”.
“I am sure The Primo has informed you are not allowed in this wing at the moment, Young Sir?” The Head Butler spoke once they caught sight of them in in the foyer of The Primo’s Private quarters.
Enma tried to busy himself with gaping at the gigantic chandelier on the ceiling. Something was going on in Vongola for The Primo to make such a prohibition toward his so called protégé. Hibari justified his presence using the key G gave him; stating it as prove of a Guardian’s approval.
The butler eyed the key, “This is indeed The Storm Guardian’s key”. Enma was curious of the key. He thought it would be used to get into the primo’s private wing, where he stayed with half of his guardians (the rest, along with Hibari, stayed at the opposite wing); but surprisingly Hibari hadnt used the key.
“Then I shall allow you. Let me take you there, Young Sir,” The Butler offered.
“No need, Maximilian, I know the way,” Hibari took the key from the butler and went to the grand staircase. Enma was half ogling the neoclassical architecture as they climbed it and took the staircase to the right. Once they left the stairs, they crossed a short hallway to reach a small turn leading to a double door. They stopped in front of it. Hibari seemed to hesitate.
“Allow me, Hibari-san,” Kusakabe took the key from the young alpha then put the key inside the lock, turning it with a soft click.
Enma didn’t know what to expect once the door opened. The first thing he noticed was this warm powdery smell that was so sweet to be an alpha’s scent. Enma faltered in his steps. Betas don’t smell this strongly either.
Both Hibari had stepped inside carefully; as though they knew they were invading. Hibari, especially, was turning his head at every detail. The room was big with an odd shape; it was almost round yet had some corners. The whole space was a mixture of classical and modern architecture; with a huge bed and its thick layered linens, artistic chandelier, and a number of seats decorating the room. A white fireplace was located opposite to the bed with a number of chairs situated around it. The huge screen TV was on the wall behind the fireplace.
Enma stood right in front of the fireplace to observe the framed pictures arranged on top of the fireplace before the TV. They contained all sorts of pictures, but all of them had one particular boy on it.
He was young, maybe in his mid teens, but not as old as Hibari. He had a very distinctive unruly chocolate mane with a matching round brown eyes. He had seen that face somewhere, but Enma couldn’t put a name on it. In one picture, the boy was smiling next to two other teenagers. From the uniform it seemed like the boy attended an elite school, but nowhere as elite as The Guilleford Academy that Hibari attended. In other pictures, the teen was doing many activities, such as gardening, playing volleyball with his schoolmates, posing near a famous landscape; but one other picture took Enma’s attention.
The teen stood behind a cake. The guardians made a wall behind him as they too smiled at the camera. The occasion seemed to be a private one as everyone was wearing casual clothes. Then Enma’s eyes landed on the face right next to the teen and it was right at that moment he connect the dots together.
The Primo , Enma leaned closer and pointed at the Primo’s face in the picture, then dragged his finger to the teen’s face, they look… alike. A lot .
He had a weird conclusion in mind. The impact of this discovery was big enough that he flinched and took his finger off of the picture in an instant, almost making another frame fell to the floor. Thankfully Enma caught the picture before it hit the carpeted surface. It was a picture of the same teen wearing a black fedora, with a tall man in a black suit standing in the background seeming oblivious to the picture being taken.
“Will you try sitting on this bed, Hibari-san?” Enma heard Kusakabe asking Hibari next to the king sized bed. Hibari grunted defensively, “No”.
Kusakabe chuckled, “I bet Sawada-san cuddles these pillows a lot”.
“Quit it, Tetsuya”.
Enma noted the name. Sawada-san , they said. Enma had never heard of such a person from The House of Vongola, but for sure he could now place a face to that name. It had to be the boy in the pictures.
Hibari then proceeded to look around whereas Kusakabe went to Enma. “Ah, these frames. Nowadays we don’t really print pictures anymore, I wonder who got these frames for Sawada-san”.
Their heads snapped to the direction of the entrance. The Head Butler stood there with a watchful gaze. Obviously the man was suspicious of them. “I just realized; because The Primo and his Guardians have departed for their mission to catch Reborn, there should be no merit in invading Sir Tsunayoshi’s room. Especially by entrusting that task to someone who had just been banned by Primo to enter this wing”.
Hibari was surprisingly calm for someone who was being accused for something. “That is because Reborn is not the person to play with. G believes I could do some investigation to support their search for Reborn. I even got myself,” Hibari casually gestured toward Enma, “A detective”.
Enma awkwardly nodded his head, “Enma Cozart”.
“He used to work for CEDEF,” Hibari added.
“Really?” The Butler fixed the position of his glasses before walking closer to Enma. “Then tell me now, Mr. Cozart, the Guardians have investigated this room thoroughly and they deemed it necessary for the room to be locked, so what can you add to this investigation of Young Master Tsunayoshi’s whereabouts?”
I thought this is to search for Reborn’s whereabouts, Enma thought while he casted a glance to Kusakabe, no one has briefed me on this. Everyone in the room stared at his helpless form with expectations. “Um, we can always start with the person’s personal belongings to understand their line of thoughts and course of actions,” Enma suggested.
“The Young Sir went on his own accord so most of his very personal belongings were taken with him; mobile phone, wallet, some clothes,” the butler pitched in.
Enma turned accusingly at the boy’s picture, you ran away? “Then we can track him through his phone’s activity”.
“The last ping was caught by the tower closest to the clinic he was scheduled for that day. The clinic’s camera has caught him leaving the main building. No other feed was caught from him afterwards, as expected of Reborn. The man must’ve guide him through it thoroughly beforehand,” the elderly butler added, "No activity was detected from all of his bank accounts either before he went missing. I suppose Reborn is taking care for all of his needs”.
Enma blinked and turned to the same photo again. You ran away to an Arcobaleno? “How about cameras? He seems to be fond of them,” Enma proposed. There was a number of action cameras displayed in the cupboard near the entryway to the room and next to the bed, by the long line of windows, was a long white cabinet that also functioned as a work desk where a number of camera equipment was let astray. From that point, if you look to your right there was a bay window reading nook with an empty tripod facing it.
“He is. He carries them everywhere. Most of the cameras here contains no pictures however, and the main camera he uses is not here. We assume he took it with him”.
Enma smiled. The teen must've had stored his dta somewhere else. “How about a computer?”
“The Young Sir has them, a macbook pro if I’m not mistaken, but I believe he took it with him too,” the butler provided.
“We can still find something,” Enma countered, “From the microphone latched to his tripod and the smaller one we can see on the desk; I assume he uses his camera for video capturing”.
The butler was taken aback, “Yes, he does. He loves recording himself reading a book out loud or talking about various matters”.
Enma’s smile grew, “Then he had to have an external storage; a hard drive. A macbook could only store so much in comparison to a proper desktop. Most content creators have extra storage,” but then realization hit Enma, “Or maybe he also take it with him”. Which would be the case if the boy planned to leave the place permanently.
Enma was disappointed he failed to find something extremely new; but the butler was mildly impressed. “Perhaps, there’s a point to that assumption. We would never know what we could find unless we search The Young Sir’s room. Then we could see whether your thesis could be proven”.
Enma sensed that both Kusakabe and Hibari didn’t expect The Butler would allow them to search the room. The last Enma saw them, the young Alpha and his assistant were checking this person's – Sawada Tsunayoshi, Enma figured his name was – desk. Meanwhile Enma visited the boy’s walk in closet, right next to the reading nook area.
The warm powdery smell was the strongest there. No wonder, it was the haven of so many of the boy’s clothes. On the right was a low white dresser and a huge ceiling length mirror was perched on the wall behind it. The first thing Enma singled out on said dresser was a box filled with pills, perfume-like bottled liquid, and lotion.
They were scent blockers.
Enma blanched. Of course, he should have known from the smell alone. Sawada Tsunayoshi was an omega. Better yet, an omega male!! The rarest of the rare, even rarer than female alpha. Enma wasn’t even sure this nation had a single registered omegan male – well, except for this one, of course. What was he doing there in the private wing of the Primo? Omegan servants had long been banned from Vongolan’s quarters so Enma avoided making the conclusion. Then again, didn’t he look like a particular alpha?
Enma swallowed. Are they related?
However, for someone related to the Vongolan Head, wasn’t the boy’s wardrobe lacking of any black attire? Enma turned around and double checked. Yes, there was no black piece of clothing around and the boy didn’t have many formal suits too. Therefore, he didn’t attend many formal gatherings.
What does this mean? Enma wondered as he walked around the closet; his thoughts was disrupted only when Hibari Kyoya appeared at the door leading to the closet.
“Find anything?” The alpha asked.
“No. Nothing yet, Mr. Hibari".
Enma had seen Hibari Kyoya attending numerous functions with The Primo in black despite not being related to the latter. Yet why was this omega nonexistant to the public’s eyes.
Enma continued to observe the whole closet. Sawada Tsunayoshi was clearly well sheltered. His clothes mostly consisted of pastel colored semi formal pieces. He had racks of sweaters and short sleeved shirts plus knee length pairs of bottoms. However, one rack carried three hanged adult sized dress shirt of different styles that didn’t fit the rest of the closet. Enma approached it curiously.
It was when he touched one of the dress shirt did he noticed the mixed smell between Sawada’s own and this mild clean scent. Being a beta himself, Enma knew this smell too well.
A beta’s scent.
Enma figured this might be Omega scenting. Omegans birth rate is low in developed nations, but even here the habits of them sneaking their loved ones objects to scent them was a known legend. It was often romanticized in flicks and Alphas often made locker room jokes of exchanging shirts with an omega for scenting.
Enma wondered which beta was close enough to an omega of this high standing.
Right below the hanged dress shirts, a small orange blanket was folded neatly. Enma bent down to it out of curiosity only to be attacked by a strong waft of charcoal-like scent.
An alpha scent.
“Giotto has scented Tsunayoshi then,” Hibari had been standing next to Enma all along. He turned to Enma. “I never knew that,” the alpha continued blankly.
Enma inhaled deeply. The blanket was The Primo’s then.
“Which was to be expected,” The young alpha kept on, seemingly without direction. “I mean, of course naturally that would occur”.
“Did you scent… him?” Enma didn’t know why he asked that.
Hibari’s head snapped at him so fast but his facial expression said nothing. “No,” Hibari said finally after seconds of tense silence, “Of course I did not. I didn’t know him. We never even talked that much”.
There was something in Hibari’s words that Enma couldn’t place, especially in the way the younger teen instantly focused on something else right after.
The Hibari heir touched the three dress shirt above it. “Reborn already has three shirts here. No wonder, really. The two of them have been very close,” He mused, oblivious to Enma’s conflicted gape at the dress shirts. Enma hadnt known those were an Arcobaleno’s!!
“Anyway, this closet is really… elegant, which is fitting,” Hibari pondered further as he walked away, hand touching some clothes on his way. Enma went the other way and opened a cupboard. He saw a small box covered in soft orange leather packaging.
Enma’s brows rose.
“I’ve found it. I’ve found the hard drive”.
They found them selves around the fireplace. Hibari sat next to Enma on the sofa and the Alpha had his own laptop on his lap as he tried to open the files in the hard drive. Kusakabe stood behind the young alpha while Maximilian, the butler, stood behind Enma.
“The Guardians never mentioned the hard drive before. I wonder if this new discovery might be key to our search for Reborn and The Young Sir. Informing the Primo regarding this matter should be done as soon as possible,” The Butler rambled with a fist in front of his mouth.
Meanwhile Enma watched Hibari opening the hard drive using his laptop to no avail. “I cant open it,” he stated, “I tried cracking the password, but its highly protected. Some high skilled coding was put on this drive”.
Enma studied the screen on Hibari’s high end laptop. “… Hibari-san, let me try”.
He took out his own device from inside his postman bag; a mini computer he had built himself. He plugged the hard drive to its usb port and cracked the first wall of protection. “Done,” Enma announced. Everyone hummed in awe at his skills. Years in CEDEF taught him a lot.
“That is brilliant -,” The Butler commented, stopping when the young Alpha in the room raised his hand.
“Maximilian, is it safe to say we have passed your enquiry regarding our motives?” The Alpha started, “If so, we have some serious investigating to do here and I think you have regarded us accountable enough to do our work independently – out of your watch”.
The butler was clearly taken aback. Hibari continued, “And besides, don’t you have another matter to attend to? Such as informing everyone of our finding?”
The Butler studied the young alpha for a moment before he bowed in respect. “I understand. I shall take my leave then, Young Master Hibari. The maids will be available to attend to your needs in this wing,” he then left the room.
Once the door was closed, The Hibari heir put his laptop on the coffee table, exhaled, and threw himself to the back of his seat, “Glad he’s finally gone. It'll take him a while to get in touch with Giotto and his crew. They'll cut contacts to avoid getting traced by Reborn," He crossed one leg over the other, “So what do we have?” He addressed Enma.
Enma observed the alpha and considered his purpose. Now that the butler was gone, somehow Enma felt very inappropriate. Here was an omega he knew nothing about and he had roamed around his quarters and his closet; touching his belongings and looking into it with an alpha who had admitted to never talked to the omega. Wherever it was, acting too cordial with an omega you’ve yet be acquainted with could be seen as rude toward the omega, especially without the watch of their carer, usually an older alpha or beta – on special cases, an older omega.
Enma stepped into this room in hope of getting closer to the young alpha for his own benefit, not to be in the discovery of a young omegan boy and his complicated background. In fact, Enma wasn’t even sure if Sawada Tsunayoshi was really his name.
“So?” Hibari repeated. Enma gulped. Whatever, it wasn’t his business to care for this omega.
“All the folders are protected with complex coding too, except for one,” Enma started.
“Wait a minute, let us connect the device to the screen. Genevieve,” Hibari called to the room. A woman’s voice answered; an AI.
“Yes, Young Master Hibari”.
“Connect the new device to the smart screen,” Hibari ordered.
“Connecting,” the AI responded. The flat screen on top of the fireplace was lit. “Awaiting for permission from new device,” The AI said. Enma sighed. He honestly didn’t want his device to be connected to The Vongolan’s central networks. Eventually he enabled his laptop to connect to the smart screen and, in turn, to the Vongola private network.
Hibari seemed pleased for the cooperation. The large screen showed what was on Enma’s. Enma opened the folder labeled as 01. There were a lot of files inside, each labeled with a long mixture of letters and numbers and it was unreadable by the device. “All of these files can’t be read, I think we need to decode it”. Hibari hummed. Enma added, “I can decode all of them but it’ll take some time”.
Hibari simply nodded in appreciation. “The next folder is the same,” Enma stated, “But the last folder contained 3GPP files”.
Hibari perked up only slightly, “Oh, a video”.
“Yes,” Enma confirmed and opened the folder. When no one said anything, Enma turned to the Hibari heir and saw him looking back expectantly. “Oh, do you want to open it?” Enma dumbly asked. Hibari’s face contorted while Kusakabe leaned forward, “Yes, of course”.
“O-oh,” Enma hurriedly tapped on the screen to open the file. His finger faltered before it made contact with the device; he wasn’t sure if it was wise to open something that was private to the omega and he didn’t even know him.
The video player opened and it showed the first frame of the video as it loaded the file. It was of a barely decorated room with only a bed on the screen. The bed itself had a messy sheet and one thin pillow. The video might be very grainy and of poor quality, but Enma could note how badly done the room’s wallpaper was.
Then appeared the omegan boy’s head from the right corner of the screen. He looked pleased; a grin formed on his heart shaped face before he fully stood facing them. Enma felt awfully awkward for seeing this person behaving as if they could see them; practically invading his privacy.
“Hello!” The audio was poor, but the teen, who seemed younger in the video, was barely speaking with a clear voice. It was like he was lowering his voice to not bother others; or maybe he was too shy. He waved at them and it was then the collar of the overly large shirt fell off one shoulder. He causally pulled it back like he was used to it and waved again.
“Where was this?” Hibari muttered to his assistant.
“I think it’s the orphanage”.
“Yeah, I think so too. How old do you this he was?”
“Maybe 11? 12?”
“Hnn,” The heir nodded, eyes not leaving the screen as he now propped his face with three fingers from his left hand. Enma wondered if he should open the next file. Atleast until Kusakabe prompted him to do so.
The next video was obviously taken right after the first video finished because Sawada was wearing the same clothes and standing in the same position. This time he looked more ready though. “Hello, my name is Sawada Tsunayoshi,” he paused like he didn’t know what to say next. His shoulders hunched a little before he continued, “You can call me Tsunayoshi or Tsuna... or Tsu. That is okay too,” another pause, “Um, I am twelve – I shouldn’t have said that um,” he inhaled, “I am twelve years old. My birthday is on the fourteenth of October,” He looked down to remember his next line, “I just bought uhh... this phone and uh... I,” he paused again and this time looking like he regretted that uh’s, “I gathered the money from selling bracelets that I made myself such as this,” he showed the colorful hand bands on his arms, “Yeah. I made them myself and... I like making videos. I want to make videos using this phone because... uh,’" he was then silent for a long time as if he was out of words, “Yeah. That’s all for today. Bye!”
The experience was surreal for Enma. He was even more mortified when the young alpha said, “Open the next file. Open all of them as a playlist”.
Enma glimpsed at the picture of the teen on top of the fireplace. I’m sorry, he thought dragging his fingers on all of the files and put them together in a list. All of them were 3GPP files and there were tens of them though most of them barely reached 5 minutes. The next seven to eight videos were of him trying different takes on the same message; at different times of the day and using different settings. Obviously, the boy, then only a child, was looking for the perfect takes with the least errors.
In his final take he managed to explain how he wanted to make videos using his phone because he wasn’t very good with writing and he wanted a friend. At the end of those, Enma sent weird looks at the other two in the room. He wondered what’s the importance in all of this.
The next videos were on autoplay. In some of them, he was showing the camera how to make his so-called bracelet and he turned the camera around to get different angles on the bracelet despite it being shot under poor lighting. In the next series of videos he recorded himself while trying different types of food; mostly regular foods that didn’t even seem that appetizing; and giving unnecessary reviews on these foods afterwards. He even reviewed a serving of bread and jam. He narrated himself in these videos, however awkwardly, and you could see the daily activities of the orphanage throughout these videos. Sometimes Enma caught sights of other children loitering around in the background.
Both Hibari and Kusakabe were watching rather seriously. They made comments in between videos; about how long his hair had been compared to how they were now, how, despite the condition of his clothes, Sawada still managed to look good (which Hibari stated casually), and other statements that were innocent but unnecessary. It was weird how Kusakabe would encourage these thoughts; and more often than not he would mention them playfully.
In Enma’s case, he thought the video was painful to watch. The teen did look younger; but he was strangely way thinner compared to himself in the framed pictures. Enma was sure it was the harsh reality of having to live in a rundown orphanage with many other kids. Moreover, the videos were boring. Nothing crucial was happening, obviously it was taken way before the present time, and it was so awkward in a way that made it difficult to see.
It wasn’t until the forty-something video that something actually happened. The video was taken in what seemed to be a toilet stall. Sawada was in his oversized and overwashed pajamas; sitting on the toilet and hugging his knees as his face wrinkled and drops of tears dampen his cheeks. His whole face was red; it was obvious he had been crying for a while.
He didn’t say anything. He only cried. From the silence, you could tell he locked himself there while no one was around.
“T-they say...,” a choke; and another series of sobs came out, “T-they say I look s-stupid,” he stated in between sobs. It took another half a minute before he managed to gather himself. “They f-f-ound my videos o-on the library’s computer and they l-laughed at it. T-they called me stupid. I k-know they think that of me; they don’t really like me. B-because I’m an omegan boy,” this time his face contorted further. His sobs started anew. The confession in front of the camera definitely pained him the most. “B-b-but I cant change who I am! I tried to be liked – but I CANT!”
“They made fun of my dreams to be a news anchor. They say I cant even read... because I’m an omega male,” he hiccuped; eyes clenched shut as he tried to wiped his tears with the large sleeve that threatened to break down into threads. “I was laughed at when I read out loud and I did my best t-to laugh back. Because I always laugh – I never get angry. B-but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt!” His whole body quaked, “I couldn’t go far without reading or doing math. I cant even write. They say my writing is like a toddler’s, which I guess is true. But is it w-wrong for me to want to be so-something more t-than just an o-omega?”
The next seconds was filled with the child wiping his face with his shirt. Enma just noticed the pointer on the media player was moving slowly because the video was twenty minutes long. Nearing the end of the video, Sawada turned to his phone with a very red face and swollen eyes. However, he also looked very determined.
“You’ll see. One day, I’ll be the most famous omegan male ever. I’ll have my own tv show and I’ll change the world. I’ll see to that,” He huffed, rather childishly, but Enma couldn’t help but cheer him on. “I’ll be someone great and they will all see that”.
The video then skipped to a whole new different scene in which Enma realized they had moved on to the next video. Because the videos in this folder was not coded, Enma could see the date it was taken was a month after the previous one was. He also discovered that his eyes was somewhat dry from the lack of blinking when he saw that previous scene. He turned to his companions in the room.
Hibari’s back was straight and his jaw was slack. Kusakabe, who stood idly behind the man, carried a somber expression; his eyes were glossy. The current state the video was taken in, in which Sawada was cheerfully narrating after himself brushing his hair, was left unnoticed because they were still processing the previous scene.
They all jumped to see the person by the door. A maid bowed to them, “It is dinner time. Young Master Hibari and Mr Kusakabe are called to join The Lightning Guardian for dinner in The Red Dining Hall. Mr. Cozart, you can join the dinner in The Hall of Cygnet in the south wing”.
The maid excused herself once Hibari thanked her. They didn’t realize they had been there for an hour already. The rich lighting of the room made them oblivious to how dark the sky had gone outside. The young alpha stood from his seat. “We’ll continue after dinner in my study”. He took the hard drive with him.
The Hall of Cygnet was an intimate dining room for young recruits in Vongola. Enma conversed with some of them; young and bright youth they were. He was picked up by Kusakabe in the middle of a chat with a young recruit under The Rain Guardian. Enma excused himself.
A number of maids passed them by in the hallways and they all bid their greetings to Kusakabe. Once there were less people, Kusakabe dragged Enma outside; to the side terrace. No one was there except for the two of them.
Kusakabe was sporting a serious face. He stopped near the railing, and turned around to face Enma.
The massive Japanese immigration to Neo Italy – thanks to Vongola’s strong history with the Asian nation – birthed a plethora of subcultures in this nation. Bowing – the one typical of a Japanese – was not done by everybody who lived in Neo Italy; but the concept was no stranger even to those who had no Japanese blood in them. Thus, Enma, who was in no way Japanese, became flustered when Kusakabe started bowing to him. He understood the meaning; but he wasnt used to it being done before him.
“I deeply apologize, Mr. Cozart. I understand you are a highly intelligent man and there’s no way you don’t question what just happened in Sawada’s room today,” he stood to his full height, “It is part of mistake to not have you briefed about everything”.
“Okay, okay. Just don’t bow, I accept your apology,” Enma hurried.
“Thank you, Mr. Cozart. I am very grateful for your kindness. In this opportunity I would like to explain to you about what is going on. However, allow me to confirm,” he paused, “Have Alpha Hibari and his wife come to you asking to spy on Hibari-san?”
Enma flinched, but nodded. “I see,” the assistant murmured, “Mr. Cozart, you are free to inform the Head Alpha about Hibari-san. However, I beg of you not to inform them of everything else besides that; especially not of anything related to the things I will tell you after this”.
“Is this related to Sawada Tsunayoshi?” Enma had his arms crossed. Kusakabe nodded. “Okay, “ Enma sighed, “I apologize for having an ulterior motive too. I was only pushing for the investigation to the room for an excuse to find information on Hibari for his parents”.
“I know,” was Kusakabe’s short response.
“Anyway, who is this Sawada Tsunayoshi? How is he in the same wing as the Primo yet I’ve never heard about him?” Enma started. The wariness that had been contained inside him spilled out of his being.
“Okay, I will explain everything to you,” Kusakabe started with a deep inhale, “He is The Primo’s step brother”.
“What!?” he shouldn’t be surprised, but hearing it himself was still surreal.
“Yes. He is the previous Primo’s son, with a mistress,” Kusakabe stopped, “How that came to was not my place to tell, but long story short Sawada-san hasn’t been here for long. He has only been found two years ago. Before that, as you’ve seen, he lived in an orphanage without any knowledge of his origin”.
Enma held his heads using his two hands. This was so much to take in. He couldn’t believe he was hearing this in Palazzo Bianco. No one outside of this place knew of this. No one. “And, he’s running away right now? Is that it? Is that really why I’m here?”
Kusakabe looked away, “At first, I was looking for a private eye to help Hibari-san investigate. However, after a short period of time, it was pretty obvious where Sawada-san ran off to. Everyone knows from the start, but I kept looking for someone who could play detective. Someone who is not a detective, but is convincing enough to perform as one,” the man looked guilty, “The tension had been very high in the Palazzo two weeks ago when we realized Sawada-san didnt return from the clinic. Hibari-san was very stressed out and he kept on having fights with The Primo”.
“I only wanted Hibari-san to focus his frustrations onto something else so the tension in this palace could be reduced. And I am still using you for that purpose at this point,” Kusakabe added. Enma closed his eyes. He knew it.
It was obvious the investigation was useless when the culprit was already in the middle of being chased, by The Primo himself and the Guardians, mind you; and Enma’s skills was not on par to match up to theirs or even an Arcobaleno. Furthermore, Enma didn’t think watching silly videos made by a younger Sawada could be of any help.
“And is the young alpha really fooled by this?” Enma queried.
Kusakabe looked away, “Not really. He’s intelligent; of course he knows. But I guess he also wants to do this,” noticing what he said, he quickly added, “Before this there was a commotion that might have inspired Sawada-san to run away. Hibari-san was involved in that commotion so he feels guilty”.
Enma squinted. He was sure that was not what the right hand man was about to say. Kusakabe continued again when Enma looked even more suspicious. “No one knows exactly what they were arguing about; except for the four people involved – and maybe G, because The Primo tells G everything, I’m sure. It took place in the library between Sawada-san, Hibari-san, The Primo, and Reborn”.
Enma nodded. So this was where the Arcobaleno came to play into this. Though his involvements with the omega was a mystery, at least now Enma could hear them being mentioned in the same sentence.
“The fight was so bad that The Primo kicked Reborn out of Palazzo Bianco, Hibari-san was banned from ever visiting The Primo’s private wing, and Sawada-san… well, Sawada-san ended up with a bruise… in the face”.
Enma blinked. “Wait – what? You mean, as in hit in the face?” Kusakabe nodded. Enma gasped, “How? Who?”
“We don’t know”.
Enma frowned, “Did Hibari – “
“I – we don’t know, Mr. Cozart. I would like to think Hibari-san doesn’t have it in him to lay a hand on an omega,” yet the way he spoke was of doubt. The possibility was pretty high.
“It could be Reborn. He’s a hitman,” Enma offered, but Kusakabe shook his head.
“A feared assassin Reborn is to Vongola; but a bad person he is not to Sawada-san. Sawada-san, to him, is like a… a son, maybe. You know how omegas are very peculiar on their carer? I think he had marked Reborn as one,” Kusakabe explained, “Which is no wonder he chased after Reborn in retaliation after the fight”.
There was too much to process at once. “You're implying... Sawada ran away to Reborn after this fight happened? How are you sure?” Enma questioned.
“He left only four days after the fight. And considering the fact that he brought his personal belongings along with some clothes in his duffel bag; it was obvious it was planned. Plus it was executed neatly, to the point that we couldn’t trace Sawada-san after he left his clinic appointment that day. Such escape could only be done by the master of escape himself; Reborn”.
Yet it had taken the Primo and his guardians two weeks to even tail the man; and a mere omegan boy could track him faster? “Is that even possible? Is he safe?” Enma pressed on.
“I’ve never spoken to Reborn; but I’ve seen him. Lets just say, he’ll let himself known to you when he wants to. We believe he guided Tsunayoshi to his hiding place after he was kicked out,” Kusakabe tilted his head, “As for safe, if I’m to be honest, I think there’s no safer place for Sawada-san than to be with Reborn”.
“By that you’re saying there’s no urgency to investigate after his disappearance after all, Kusakabe,” Enma drawled.
Kusakabe bowed again, though this time it was momentarily. “Yes. And that is why I am apologizing to you. But I would like for you to continue with this… charade,” He said, “I’ve seen how Hibari-san’s mood improved in just one day and I would like for that to continue, at least until The Primo is back with his entourage. I’m offering you an agreement, Mr. Cozart. I would like for you to stay and engage Hibari-san in this investigation; and in return you can stay to gather as much information as you can for The Head Alpha of The House of Hibari”.
The man extended his hand to Enma. Enma was careful; but he had a set goal.
He took the hand in his own, “Deal”.
“You’re late,” Hibari Kyoya opened the door to the study before they knocked. The teen was wearing something different that evening. He had a light sweater on and a pair of khaki pants; a matching pair of loafers too. Around his left wrist was a silver Rolex that was surely more expensive than any valuables Enma had ever owned.
He led them further into the study; passing the pool table; into the area with thick leather couches facing the large screen between the heavy bookshelves. Light snacks were arranged on tiered tray on the coffee table, alongside bottles of light wine that was customary to be served to young Alpha of Houses.
“Take a seat gentlemen,” Hibari went ahead and threw himself on the chaise lounge. Both Kusakabe and Enma sat on the sofa.
“Where were we?” Kusakabe took a green grape out of the fruit bowl.
“I’ve started ahead of you. He’s doing more tutorial videos with multiple angles,” Hibari then ordered Genevieve to continue the video. The TV screen showed Tsunayoshi sitting with his hands folded on a desk.
“Today I will show you how to make bracelets,” The boy ‘s finger went to the screen and then the scene jumped to a different angle. Tsunayoshi was behind the camera, and the screen was now showing different beads and other tools needed to make bracelets. He proceeded to explain each of them. Next the scene jumped to a different angle again and this time Sawada was much more thoughtful regarding the placement of his camera.
“Someone figured out the pause button,” Kusakabe joked. Enma snorted. That was funny. The corners of Hibari’s lips perked too.
The next videos witnessed Sawada growing less nervous in front of camera. He could now use different angles, speak more without pausing, and he even took his phone outside to shoot the view. There were also moments where he would say something and decided he sounded stupid, in which he would repeat what he had said with a more enthusiastic tone.
After a while, Enma admitted this boy had grown on him. It was cringey at first, but now a lot of Sawada’s actions became funny.
On the other hand, Sawada had his teary moments. They found even more footage of him crying in an enclosed space. He would cry about his lack of friends and how the rest of the orphans made fun of his phone. While it was sad, Sawada would always return to his two feet in the same video he cried on; swearing himself to success. Whenever Enma saw that, he felt inspired by the boy’s attempt to cheer himself up.
However, it still broke Enma’s heart to see the boy’s worry stricken face at the camera on one particular footage. The camera was strangely extra blurry this time and Sawada kept on wiping on the lens as if trying to fix it. “Why is it this blurry?” The boy’s panic was tangible in his voice. The audio sounded worse this tine around.
“What happened?” Hibari voiced.
“I think something might’ve happened to the phone and broke the camera? It seems like a cheap phone; may not have the best endurance,” Kusakabe suggested.
“Oh no,” Sawada sounded so sad, yet no tears came out of his eyes – yet. The last of that video was of the boy gazing heart broken at his phone; like he was about to lose a friend.
The next video was dated four months ahead of that one. This time the video quality was somewhat better. Sawada stood in the middle of the frame, in the reenactment of his second video ever. He was grinning. “It works!” He exclaimed giddily, “The video is better too! Wow”.
He then moved closer to the camera until you could count the amount the curl on the collar of his faded graphic t-shirt. “Hello! I’m Sawada Tsunayoshi and I just got a new phone!” He waved, “As you know, my old one fell from the third floor when I was in the middle of cleaning. I was very sad when it happened, but I managed to gather enough money to buy a new one! It’s a good phone too, I mean it doesn’t have 3G, but its better than my previous one because it has a front camera. And I got free earphones!!” The boy looked very excited, “I never had one of these. It only comes in black though – that is silly! They should’ve had blue at least!”
He showed the box and earphones. The mobile phone was of a no-name brand. Moreover, it was also outdated for its time. However, Sawada was happy and that made Enma smile too. If only he knew that time that Vongola owned the most share in the biggest mobile device in the world and he should've had some rights to it.
“I will keep this box with me forever!” The teen hugged the box, “Oh, by the way! I had been saving money from selling bracelets and helping out in the kitchen. But on my thirteenth birthday, surprise, surprise, The Headmistress gave me extra pocket money! She said she recognized my hard work and how I’ve been helpful. I was like, is this for real?? She was like, yes, its real. She then accompanied me to buy this phone and I was like, I cant believe this. I thought it’ll be a loooooong time before I could buy another phone!”
He was able to ramble now. Enma remembered just hours ago in real time he was stumbling upon his words.
“Make sure you find the headmistress and get her a gift for her next birthday”.
Enma smiled at the exchange. Most of them had gone quiet. In the next clip, Sawada was reading a pocket sized book out loud. From the cover you would guess it was a book made for very young children.
“Li – Li… Little? Litter? Hmm… no, its little. Little ma.. mi-miss – mouse? Miss? Miss. Little Miss… is this sunshine? Yeah, I think this is Little Miss Sunshine. That sounds correct”.
Enma cringed at the boy’s attempt. The video lasted longer than most. Sawada didn’t succeed in finishing the book as it had exhausted his whole attention. The next videos followed the same trend, though on a different book. He sped up his reading in some of them, though in return he misread a lot of words.
“Omegas were found to perform poorly in academics; and this was found to be more prevalent in male omegas. Most countries with a lot of omegas don’t put them in schools because of that. They put omegas in educational centers for practical skills instead,” Hibari mused unannounced, “One fifth of a developing nation’s population usually consists of omegas”.
“We cant say for sure it correlates, Hibari-san,” Kusakabe responded.
“True, but people like to think so to the extent that omegas are labeled as a defect in nature. Omegas were found to perform the least in all areas of development in comparison to the other genders. This makes me wonder,” Hibari stated, “If life is really fair. If it is possible that some people were made unfortunate”.
They were silenced by that words. Hibari added as an aftertjought, "They also call male omegas disabled".
Hibari's words were cruel, yet Enma sensed he didnt say it to mock. In fact, he sounded like he loathed these facts.
The next video saw Sawada taking a stroll with the rest of the orphanage kids. They had ice cream, which was The Headmistress’ treat for all of them, and they watched a game of baseball. Sawada magically pulled a kid away from a spot before a stray ball struck the exact area where the kid had stood. No one commented on it; but they should be thankful to Sawada at least.
In the next scene Sawada was sitting on the floor. He was holding a book titled The Ugly Duckling. Somehow, his nose was red and his eyes were glossy. “I don’t know why I’m so stupid even though I don’t want to be,” he was not sobbing, but Enma reckoned that he was crying silently. A small tear dropped from his eye, “I’ve studied hard. Even late at night. So why am I still so stupid?”
“I’ve been wanting to read this book again. One of the caretakers had read it to us when I was very young. I really liked it back then. Now I’ve forgotten the ending and I would like to know,” a tear fell down and a sniff was heard, “But why cant I read it? I thought it’ll be easier after I practiced”.
Another tear dropped and this time Sawada frowned. “I'm only wondering if The Ugly Duckling have friends in the end”. He sniffed again before wiping his face with the sleeve of his thin jacket. After that, he returned to the book pages.
“You know what? I can make up the story through the drawings here. Like at this point we know The Duckling was in the farmer’s house and the children seemed mean to him. He was bullied so he left the house in a hurry,” Sawada then flipped the page, “And so the ugly duckling looked around for someone who would care for him and be his friend. He looked on the streets for someone to pick him up, but no one even saw him because they were very ignorant”.
“So he found a flock of swans on a lake. Gathering the courage to impress, he approached them and they were greatly impressed by him. One of the swans welcomed him, ‘Hello little duckling. We are so impressed by you. As a gift, I will cast a spell on you that will bestow you a great beauty’. The next thing the duckling knew, when he looked down on the water, he had transformed into a swan!! Afterwards, they swam together across the lake and the ugly duckling was ugly no more. He had found a place to call home. And they all live happily ever after. The End,” Sawada frowned, “I don’t think that is the real story but I’m happy enough with that. I wonder why beautiful rich people are nice. Last week, there was this rich couple visiting us; they were very nice. And all of those rich celebrities on TV; they are also nice. I wonder if they’re rich because they’re nice”.
“The kids here arent nice and we are all very unfortunate,” He said, “So I say, if I hold back from getting angry and act nice, I will maybe live a better life. Its like impressing potential parents with your good behavior so they would adopt you and you’ll be an orphan no more”.
The video went on to show Sawada doing other dull tedious activities as they all let his words sink in. No one said much this time. Not until one particular video where Tsunayoshi was holding his phone above him as he lay In bed.
“I found someone so cool and interesting on TV yesterday. He’s like so smart and talented,” Sawada was excited and impressed, “I was like, ‘Wow'. All the kids were being like, ‘Its nothing extraordinary’. But this guy is only 15! 15! And he already accomplished so much! He is mentored by Vongola Primo! What other 15 year old could achieve that?” Sawada squealed, “Anyhow, I’m going to the library. I want to see if I can find the same interview on youtube”.
Enma’s eyebrows met. A person who was mentored by The Primo at 15. He maneuvered around the seat to see the guy. Hibari was up from the chaise lounge; body leaning slightly forward as his eyes was glued to the screen; unblinking.
The next scene was a shot of an excerpt of The Ellen Degeneres Show on Youtube. Budget phones don’t usually take good shots of computer screen so it was a very bad shot. However, you could guess from the silhouette of the person being interviewed that it was indeed Hibari Kyoya. Next to him was no other than The Primo himself.
The scene jumped to Sawada’s grinning face. “I think Kyoya is an awesome guy. He’s only fifteen, and he’s an environmental activist. He had been invited by the UN to give a speech. And he is the protégé of The Primo. He is an excellent violinist. He also goes to this school – like prestigious school for the rich or something, Prime had went there too – but I forgot the name of the school. He was just so great; when you hear him speaks, he sounds like an adult! Kyoya knows a lot of stuff; even Ellen was like so impressed,” Sawada gushed about the guy, whom, unknowingly to the boy on the screen, was listening. Part of Enma felt embarrassed for the boy. “You know what else was impressive? The interview on Ellen was done on his birthday and The Primo gave him a car!! Like, a sport car! Turns out The Primo – the man himself! – had taught Kyoya how to drive. They’re like... years apart yet they are so close; like brothers,” The boy blinked dreamily, “I would like someone like that, like a brother, you know? But here I am. I’ve never even received a single gift before. The Headmistress gives us money for our birthdays, but everyone gets that. It isnt even a present; like wrapped or anything”.
Enma frowned at the clash of realities. He stole a glance at the Hibari heir. He was watching the screen with great attention; his eyes slightly wider than normal.
“I would like to see more of Kyoya’s videos. Its so inspirational,” The teen grinned again. He was sitting in his orphanage library it seemed, in front of the computer.
“He speaks so highly of you, Hibari-san,” Kusakabe teased.
“He never spoke to me,” Hibari blurted.
“You never spoke to him either,” Kusakabe added, “He used your first name here too”.
“How does he always address me in front of me again?” Hibari turned to his assistant before they both muttered at the same time, “ Hibari -san” .
On the next clip, Sawada was informing the camera that he’s going to use the library’s printer to print some articles on Hibari. “I think I would stick them on the walls right here,” he put his palm on the wall on the side of his bed, “And I will print out some ecofriendly – is that what they’re called? – to do list because Kyoya is an environmental activist. I’ve been taught how to use the printers so now I can print as much as I want as long as I can buy the papers myself!”
The boy was in high spirit. His camera captured the printer in the middle of printing. The printer itself was very old fashioned. The papers jammed a number of times. However, Sawada was smiling when he received his printed articles though the colors came out wrong (Hibari’s black hair became dark purple). “And I use used papers, as you can see, they have another article in the back – so that’s recycling!”
The teen continued to his room and took a shot of how the wall next to his bed looked like after he added the posters. “Okay here is an article of Kyoya,” the teen was holding the camera in one hand and pointing at the wall using the other, “I can't read it but its from wikipedia so its good enough. And next to it is a picture of Kyoya giving a speech. There’s a couple of words here,” He pointed at the printed headings that said “Hibari Kyoya: The Next Generation’s Leader”.
“I know this is his name, Hibari Kyoya,” Sawada tapped on the two words with his finger, “But the next one. The… Next? The Next! The next G.. Ja… Hmmm, Garage? No, that cant be. Garbage?” he seemed to think about it before moving on to the next word, “This one has an L. Garbage… Collector? He’s environmentally friendly and collector has L in it I think”.
Kusakabe spurted in laughter while Hibari face palmed. The next scene was taken in the same setting. “Okay, I have checked in Google translate. You can type a word in and have the site pronounce it for you. So these words turn out to be The Next Generation’s Leader. Yeah,” he looked at the poster again and smiled, “The Next Generation’s Leader. That sounds nice. It's fitting for someone like him. The Next Generation’s Leader”.
He skipped the next paper that contained lists of what to do for green living. “The Headmistress said I’m allowed to put anything on the wall as long as I promise to clean after it if I ever moved to a different room. So that’s an okay!” He showed a thumb up.
In the next scenes Sawada spent more time talking to the camera about his daily activities. Of course, the sight of him crying was a recurring trend. One time it was because his friends made fun of his idolization of Hibari, another was for nothing – but simply because he was lonely. It's worth noting that in his videos he never had any company except for occasional people passing by to have a short exchange with him.
He’s lonely; that was evident. Once he even called his phone as his friend. For someone so young living among a lot of other kids; he sure was alienated.
It was probably his omegan status. He whined a lot about being made fun of by the other kids; especially on his reading abilities. His idolization of Hibari added to that somehow as everyone compared his background to that of someone like Hibari.
Children could be so cruel sometimes, Enma thought.
The room had gone silent yet they had become even more immersed in the enigma that is Sawada Tsunayoshi. His life was mundane; in some parts it was so terribly awkward and redundant; but there was an innocent charm to it that made you stay tuned.
The next video was of Sawada in his bed under dim lighting. “I’m not supposed to say this on camera but,” his round eyes sparkled with mirth, “There was this man,” He smiled, “He’s someone everyone knows; but I’m not supposed to say this!”
He then lifted himself to lay on his stomach instead. “I just talked to Alaude from Vongola,” he whispered before giggling, “Like, I don’t even know why. But he said he’s here to see me and we... we chatted about a lot of stuff. Even about Kyoya! Oh man, he knows Kyoya, very well. And...,” he looked very excited, “everyone, The Headmistress, the rest of the caretakers, were told not to tell this to anyone. It’s not like I have any friend to share with”. The teen put his hand on his mouth, “He didn’t say but this makes me wonder... am I getting adopted?”
Sawada made another food review on his next two videos before they saw him on his bed again; with a large pajama pants that didn’t match the shirt. He was holding a wrapped box with a bow. “This is from Alaude,” he announced to the camera; eyes wide as if he wasn’t sure how to express his happiness. “It’s an early birthday present he said, because I’ll be thirteen soon. So this is my first present ever; I should keep the wrapping paper and the bow – I really like it. I wonder how they make this”.
The next minute was spent to open the box, which he did very carefully.
Once he’s able to put one hand inside, he pulled the item out; only to open his mouth wide when he was finally able to see what it was.
It was the box for the latest MacBook pro.
“Oh my God,” he whispered, “Is this – oh my God. I’ve seen this on TVs”. He pulled it out and landed it on his lap. His two hands were now on his cheeks as if in disbelief. “The Headmistress has told me not to make a ruckus so I have to stay silent. B-b-but,” you could see his cheeks had reddened. Tears were threatening to fall; “I d-don’t know what to do. I-I... this is the first time I’ve ever felt so... so happy”.
He took out the MacBook out of its box and gazed at it for a long time before he hugged it. “I will treasure this. I’ll make sure to say a lot of thank you’s to Alaude when I see him again. He said he’ll be here tomorrow to see me. That has a really nice ring to it,” he hugged the macbook tighter, “I’ll get him to teach me how to use this. I’m so happy today”.
The next video was taken in the dark. Sawada was, again, in bed. “It’s been awhile since I last made a video,” he muttered lowly, “The last few days; there’s just a lot going on. We celebrated my birthday in The Headmistress office; just me, the headmistress and the caretakers and Alaude. There was a cake too; a big one,” A smile made its way to his heart shaped face, “I’m just so happy these days. I’ve never been so grateful. I’m grateful for myself; I’m grateful for the headmistress and the rest of the staff; the orphanage; I’m grateful for Alaude”. He then inhaled deeply, “They told me I have a living family member, and guess what; they live in the Palazzo Bianco”.
The chocolate haired teen then chuckled, “I’ll show everything once I leave this place. I’ve packed some of my stuff and Alaude helped to arrange everything. I’ll be ready to leave soon”.
He pointed his camera to himself from above as he lay down on his back, “I just... can't wait to see what tomorrow will bring”.
Next, the screen went blank. They didn’t do anything at first, but then Hibari closed the media player and opened the window from Sawada’s hard drive. “Is that it?” Hibari murmured, more to himself than anyone else. He scrolled to the bottom of the window and found that, indeed, the video they just watched was the last in the list.
“Yeah, that is it,” Enma responded.
The TV showed Hibari checking the other folder only to find a long list of unreadable files. “You said you can decode these?” He clarified to Enma.
“Yes, though it’ll take some time”.
“Will we be able to see some of them tomorrow?”
“If it’s only a few of them, probably,” Enma sensed the neediness in the younger man’s voice. He wanted to continue on seeing the content of Sawada’s personal files. Enma couldn’t help but feel he was feeding an alpha’s controlling tendencies.
“Do I have time tomorrow, Tetsuya?”
“In the evening, Hibari-san".
“Hn,” The young alpha hummed and turned to Enma, “Then I’ll see you here tomorrow after dinner. You’re dismissed for tonight. Tetsuya will take you to your assigned room”.
“Yes, Mr. Hibari. Thank you”.
The young alpha handed the hard drive to Enma; yet he didn’t leave his seat. Enma and Kusakabe were about to step outside when Enma heard the sound of playback coming from behind him where Hibari sat in front of the huge screen.
“I found someone so cool and interesting on TV yesterday. He’s like so smart and talented ...”
Enma didn’t turn around but his mind couldn’t stop reeling. The hard drive was currently in his hands; so how did Hibari do playback on the video? Unless, of course -
He copied them to his laptop.
The double doors closed behind them. Enma couldn’t stop himself from addressing the matter at hands. “Kusakabe -”
“Mr. Cozart,” Kusakabe cut him short. The taller man smiled thinly, “Let’s leave it at that tonight. Hibari-san is busy,” he paused, “ investigating” .
Enma swore he stayed still for longer than necessary. In the end he decided it was none of his business. “Yes, Kusakabe. Please show me the way”.
So what do you think of the story? Tsuna lived a harsh life huh? You will see his growth in the next chapter.
I wonder if anyone can guess why Hibari cares so much lol.