Author: Cella [shortitude]
Fandom: Katekyo Hitman Reborn!
Characters: Byakuran/Haru/Yamamoto (that’s right), quite a lot of Haru-gen
Rating: Mature, to be sure
Summary: Haru plans and overthinks. Byakuran forgets. Yamamoto assists. Things do not go as planned. HARU. YAMAMOTO. BYAKURAN. In another world, this is happening.
Spoilers: All the Milliefore arc. Despite being Alternate Reality, this is still in concordance with canon. Haru being a badass is totally in concordance with canon!
A/N: This monster was birthed from a prompt by obsceno (Byakuran/Haru/Yamamoto; brainwashing/the worst kind of games), and meant to be part of the drabbles in honour of Haru’s birthday. Except it developed into a gargantuan monster of 15 pages, with only a few hints at porn, and a whole lot of plot. But there’s talk of cupcakes, and I bet you haven’t seen this threesome before! All grammar mistakes shall be dedicated to the Goddess of One In The Morning, and will be attended in time; thank you.
Consider the cupcake. Sometimes, a cupcake can be pretty and sweet on the outside, and hold a surprise bitter filling. It's hard to think of a cupcake as anything but innocent and delicious - and yet there are people in this world dedicated to ensuring that even the sweetest dishes could bring the most sudden of deaths.
Haru knew someone like that. For a few years, she'd kept the hope alive, thinking that the day would come when Bianchi would take her under her wing and teach her things that Haru had learnt that mafia wives needed to know. (There were privileges when it came to marrying the rich and powerful - and loved, if you were lucky - Haru learnt, but those privileges came with obligations as well.) A wife would be a target, she had read in the journals left behind by former generations' donnas, and the biographies, and every little thing she could find in her quest for being better. At a younger age, Haru had been enamoured with the idea of being swept off her feet by a knight in shining armour. Her wishes came true with twists - she was pulled out of the deep waters by a boy in boxers - and yet she still fell in love.
For the longest time, she held onto her goal of becoming Tsuna's wife. She took that role seriously, beyond the love she professed towards the boy, and trained to be the best. The best cook, the best conversationalist, the cutest in the room. But as time passed, and as Haru waited for Bianchi to share her deadly recipes with her, just in case she'd - heaven forbid - need to use them to save herself or save her loved ones, things changed again.
She had expected it, to be honest. It would have been stupid not to say that she'd gotten into the competition for Tsuna's attentions with Kyouko knowing full well that she could never win. She had seen the clear signs - who it was that Tsuna always talked to first, who he confided in, whom he blushed for and at whom he stared longingly. Haru had never stood a chance; and yet she'd stubbornly believed, for six long years, that she'd be able to tip the balance somehow in her favour.
The balance had never tipped. Bianchi had never offered her tutorship, and Tsuna had inevitably chosen Kyouko to offer his heart to. And then, after six long years of perfecting skills for a job she'd become more and more willing to assume without even considering it a job as long as it was at his side, her skills were useless. She'd become that cupcake again; the one with the sweet exterior, who only bore traces of having the ability to offer a bitter bite.
Until she was seen. It figured, in the end, that it would be Reborn, with his ever-watching presence, who'd notice what Haru'd been doing in her late teenage years. Reborn, who took her aside one day, and told her what she needed to hear the most, after having gone through the painful process of recovery from a heartbreak: she could still be useful to the family, and to Tsuna; she could still be more to him than Kyouko.
Wives, in the world Tsuna now moved in (the world they all moved in), had to be refined companions and stealthy manipulators. Wives had reputations to uphold and appearances to maintain. Haru had never meant to be a wife, she would be told. Her conversational skills put her in contact with all the right people, and if her intelligence didn't do the trick, her ability to wear a pair of high heels and the right kind of dress would. In little time, Haru Miura had built herself an empire of connections - a web of acquaintances and allies and people willing to pitch in - and put it entirely to the Vongola's disposition.
That kept her busy and useful for as long as there was peace, but it also limited her contact with Tsuna and the rest. To ensure that no-one suspected of her, that no-one would connect her name with the Vongola family, her only contact with them was through letters stuck under the tables of Takesushi every month.
It became a lonely existence. So she filled it up with whatever she could - more and more things with which she could be useful to Tsuna. Soon, her apartment would be filled with books and drawings and ideas written down on the walls and covered by closets. She became an expert at being useful. She slowly forgot how to be Haru.
After the war ended, every Haru in every world and every universe received the memories of Byakuran's defeat. Haru had been in the middle of traffic when the memory had hit her, smacked into her brain like someone was stamping an envelope:
Here's the summary. Now adjust.
By the time the images stopped to flash behind her eyelids, the light had turned green and she had five cars honking at her, drivers swearing in different dialects and languages. She was still been shaking when she pulled the car over and killed the engine. She pressed her forehead to the steering wheel and took deep breaths.
This would ruin her three o'clock appointment. This would ruin her plans.
After the necessary pause, Haru looked up, finally, to the house down the alleyway. That house, hidden in the heart of a forest near Namimori, had been the location she'd chosen to meet with her newest addition to her web of connections. The very same man that the Tsuna from another world had destroyed; the very same man that had threatened the existence of the Tsuna of this world over and over, climbing up the stairwell of organized crime until he had crowned himself the king of the world. The same man she'd been about to offer trade information 'leaked' from the Vongola - provided by Reborn and Tsuna himself - in exchange for a seat at his table. After more than ten years at Tsuna's side, more than four years of not being in love with the man anymore, Haru had been willing to infiltrate the snake's den, if it meant being able to restore a little balance.
The realization that she wouldn't have to pull off her biggest act, her brightest conversation, her most perfect flirtations, had her relaxing for the first time in years. He's dead. Good - she chuckled to herself, and slid a little bit down in the seat of her car. Now we can rest...
And then someone knocked on her window.
There was a rule - had been there for years - about how often she was allowed contact with any members of the Vongola family. For her own safety, and the safety of their project, she'd only seen Yamamoto five times in the past two years.
And now, she was waiting for him to pick up his phone, pacing the floor of her living room while her 'guest' enjoyed a calming chamomile tea in her kitchen. Her nerves were on the edge as it was - Bad idea, worst idea, what am I doing? - and knowing that proof of the impossible was in her kitchen made her more than a little uneasy. This could only end bad. He'd turn out to be a liar, she'd turn out to be the biggest bleeding heart of a fool to have ever existed, and get killed in her own bed. Which wasn't so different than what would've happened had the kingpin Byakuran still been alive, and had Haru become part of the Milliefore.
But if it works... she thought to herself, chewing on cuticle absently while listening to the phone ring ont he other line - if it worked, Tsuna could control the Milliefore from the inside, and peace could be closer. And I can't just let a man rot in a deserted house by himself.
The moment she heard the phone being picked up, the second she heard Yamamoto's surprised "Haru?" on the other line, the words started to flow like a flood.
"Yamamoto - Takeshi - I might've done something dumb. Or maybe not. Either way- you saw the images, right? The memories? Haha, almost got run over by a truck after seeing them - the thing is...the thing is, I need you to come over. Really quickly. You still know the place, right?"
And because Yamamoto had probably thought she'd been happy to have one excuse to relax a little and enjoy human company again, he most benevolently said yes.
"An amnesiac Byakuran in your kitchen," the Rain Guardian repeated again, sitting on the edge of her bed while Haru paced the floor of her bedroom this time. "Amnesiac Byakuran - shouldn't he be dead, though?"
"Shh! He might hear," she whispered, feeling a little satisfied when Yamamoto showed signs of sheepishness at the slip-up. "I know - I know, he should be, but he isn't - he's just...clean slate. Tabula rasa, no memory, nothing. Well, not quite - it's more like...it's more like he's been brainwashed."
"Brainwashed," her friend - still a friend even after having discovered Byakuran smiling and eating apple pie in her kitchen, thank gods - deadpanned. "Haru, I don't-"
"It's almost like the Uni from those memories from another world," she muttered, glancing at him. "I'm not sure under whose control he is, but I think that - everything considered...all the information we have on him - I think he probably brainwashed himself. Unintentionally."
"You're telling me you think this world - and apparently all other world's - most dangerous psycho Don has brainwashed himself."
"Yes, but how?"
"Well-" Haru paused, and plopped herself down on the bed next to him. This was the hard part - what she'd picked up from reading the man on the way here, from interpreting every little gesture and every little thing he'd said, paired with the memories of what she had in her head of him, had lead to a conclusion. "I think that...instead of dying, as that other Byakuran did, since this world's Byakuran wasn't mortally wounded, he was just...reset. A sort of defiance of death by becoming completely harmless to us." Her theory was met, unsurprisingly, with silence. "You don't like the explanation."
"I don't like him being in your apartment, Haru," came the quick, and honest answer. Her heart almost skipped a beat, in gratitude and affection. She covered his hand with hers, and gave it a squeeze.
"Look at the bright side! I just scored us the best connection there is, and I didn't even have to get inside his pants to do it!" she ventured, and wiped her smile off her face the moment she was faced with Yamamoto's hard glare. "Alright, seriously, though - I do have a plan. I think...well, I don't think everyone knows that Byakuran is dead and defeated - at least, not in this world. Only the Vongola family. And he was supposed to meet with me in secret there, and now we have a completely amnesiac and harmless Byakuran. I think...instead of me infiltrating the Milliefore, it should be him."
"Yes, think about it. He disappears from the face of the Earth - send someone to burn the house, make it look like an attack, or an accident, or whatever Tsuna-san considers fit - and comes back a year later, a different man. In all that time, I can - you know - I could educate him...give him new, different memories of who he is, and what he should do. Let him ease into wanting to return to his business on his own, with a little push or two in the right direction. And when he comes back - I can be there, and it can be different - and he can, I don't know, dismantle Milliefore at his own will."
Again, silence. It was only logical - this was the sort of plan that would've surprised even Tsuna. Probably not Reborn, he'd somehow always thought Haru'd become a mastermind at something - but Haru wanted at least a little smile from Yamamoto to know she wasn't a complete idiot for having concocted that sort of plan. All she got was a look that said I feel like I don't know you anymore. It broke her heart.
Thankfully, it was followed, later, when Yamamoto left her house with one polite goodbye to Byakuran, by a look which said I plan to fix that.
Somewhere in the past six months, her life had turned into utter chaos, albeit a pleasant kind, and Haru knew exactly who was at fault for it.
Her. Only her. Her and her stupid moral code, which had stuck enough to keep her from being able to dispose of a human being mercilessly (especially when he had uses), and her stupid mind and her stupid plans.
And also, quite probably, Yamamoto. For no other reason than his sudden need to spend a lot more time with her now, possibly born out of a realization that if Haru was cold-headed enough to plot the use and training of a brainwashed Byakuran, her exile was doing her no good.
Of course, back when he'd started showing up at her apartment with weekly frequency, he'd explained that it was because Reborn and Tsuna had given her plan a green light and had cancelled all her other duties to the family except for this one. Of course, for the re-education and re-integration of a sane, and not-bloodthirsty Byakuran back in society, she would still need exile from the mafia for a few months - but she could have a friend, and lo and behold, now she had Yamamoto. Yamamoto, who she'd introduced to Byakuran that first time they'd met, on a whim, as her ex-boyfriend-turned-best-friend.
There were decisions she'd taken in her life that she regretted. That was one of them. Not because she disliked Yamamoto's presence - no, she enjoyed it! - but because she'd had to add that blasted 'ex-boyfriend' to the title, and it had started a whole story of secret glances and smiles. The kicker was that most of those glances came from Byakuran, who kept having moments of trying to act like a matchmaker.
That is, when he wasn't suddenly incredibly jealous and possessive of her, and tried to keep her attention at any cost. It was a miracle that, with her new roommate being quite a childish brat, he actually got along with Yamamoto. Not a miracle on Yamamoto's side, as the man was quite calm in his rage, and knew when to forgive for the sake of a greater cause; and not to mention the fact that it wasn't the same Byakuran who had brought all that destruction upon the world. But on Byakuran's side, for being able to form honest friendships with people, the kind that weren't based on manipulation and hidden goals. The cohabitation and the visits had almost become pleasant, and Haru had almost begun to enjoy the normality of having human contact beyond the 'strictly business' one (putting aside the true nature of her new housemate's presence).
And then they'd had to ruin it.
One evening, some six months after living together and having Yamamoto over for dinner every second day, Yamamoto caught her alone at the supermarket as she was buying flour for baking cupcakes.
"He asked me to let him have you, if I've given up, you know," he said, just like that, as Haru was bending to reach for the last package of coloured sprinkles.
The surprise made her hit her head on the shelf above, and in the pain that followed she managed to slip into old habits of making no sense. "Hahi - what? No! But you and I were going to be like Hercules' human parents, and give him the medal in a year, he can't commit incest, that's bad."
It wasn't shock at being wanted, or even at being treated like an object to toss from one man to another; it was frustration at her plans slipping out of focus. Yamamoto seemed to think she was slipping out of a lot of things, judging by the look he gave her as he repeated, "Hercules' human parents? Hercules?"
"It's an appropriate analogy!" she snapped, and rubbed the back of her head while tossing the can of coloured sprinkles into her basket and pushing it away. "And anyway," she groused, "It's not like you've given me up - at least, he doesn't know that the whole ex-boyfriend thing is a scam, though I'm wondering if I should tell him now. Maybe I can tell him that I had panicked over having another man inside my house that I created an ex-boyfriend. With a sharp sword."
"No," Yamamoto interrupted, and without any instructions, reached for the package of sugar from the top shelf and dropped it in her basked. (As if he knew what she was baking.) "Don't tell him."
"Because," he said, and pressed his hand to the low of her back, guiding her towards the cashier's to pay for everything himself, like one big gentleman. "I haven't given up yet."
It was probably a joke, but Haru's heart hammered all the way home.
She forgot to even mention that he had no reason to listen to Byakuran's barbs - the man talked so much about Yamamoto's qualities, that Haru was sure she wasn't the target of his affections.
At some point in the past year, Haru had come to the conclusion that everything she ever thought she knew was wrong.
She'd thought she'd known many things, about the world and about love - having been in love herself, having suffered through an unrequited love and the recovery from it - and yet it was all wrong.
It was her housemate's fault. He ruined all her plans, destroyed all the concepts she was so sure of. And he did it all with the smile of a man who had ruined the world before without regrets, while eating another one of her cupcakes.
The closer they got to the deadline of her re-Byakuranzation plan, the more she knew everything was wrong.
For starters, she had been certain that somewhere in the past two months, Yamamoto and Byakuran had started a relationship based on sex. This had not surprised her, given the tension that had sparkled even in Yamamoto, once the Rain Guardian had started giving the future brief Don of the Milliefore some lessons in self-defense. She'd been present herself, because apparently her presence pleased Byakuran a lot, and even she'd needed a cold shower after the display of controlled power and controlled tension.
What had surprised her had been the way Byakuran had chosen to let her know that Yamamoto wasn't the only one he wanted.
(Somehow, everything came full-circle. She knew that if she could turn back time, she'd go back to the exact point in which she had jokingly told Yamamoto that at least she wouldn't get into Byakuran's pants - and she'd smack herself for saying that.)
It happened during one of those nights when Yamamoto had been visiting, presumably to watch a movie and discuss politics or something. Haru had taken advantage of the opportunity and drawn herself a bath while both men were entertained, giving them full berth to do whatever they wanted as long as she wouldn't hear the suspicious noises. She imagined that by now, Yamamoto would start to tell Byakuran about who he worked for, and slowly, they'd talk about what the mafia could do for the world - how Tsuna had turned an organized crime organization into vigilantes - so she wanted to be out of range for that. She knew far more than the Rain Guardian did about the crueler parts of each mafia family alive through her connections, and she also knew that the most positive influence Byakuran could get in this wouldn't be from Haru, but from their friend.
It gave her a chance to relax, or at least that was the idea. But somewhere between the warm water and the bubbles and the dim lights, she'd fallen asleep. By the time she was woken up, the water temperature had gone down to tepid, but that was not the cause of her shivers.
No, those were definitely caused by the hands rubbing the knots out of her shoulders, and the breath puffing against the back of her neck. "Don't scream."
Haru screamed. She kicked, splashed water everywhere, and did a full-body dive to the other side of the bathtub, nearly dislocating a shoulder.
On the other side, fully clothed and innocently holding his hands up in surrender, was Byakuran. Smiling. "It's just me, Haru."
"WHY ARE YOU IN HERE?" she screamed again, and threw the soap at his head. He dodged. "And who the hell says don't scream and expects someone not to scream - that door was locked!"
"No, it wasn't," he said, propping his elbows on the edge of the tub and drawing circles in the water. She dove under the still-remaining bubbles and glared at him with all her might. "You were here for too long, I was worried you'd fainted."
To his credit, it wasn't far off from the truth, but she was still angry at him. "Hand me a towel," she instructed, still glaring. "Hand me a towel so I can hit you properly."
"No," he answered, and smiled in a way that chilled her bones a little. He flicked water at her, and then looked straight into her eyes and nowhere else. "I wanted to wash your hair." He said it as if it were the most obvious thing a man would want to do. And she wanted to drown him for the smile on his face as he mouthed the words.
"GET OUT OF HARU'S BATHROOM!" she screeched, and kicked water at him for the lack of anything else to kick.
Byakuran remained unfazed, looking at her with almost a hint of adoration, unmoved despite being twice as wet as before. Then he moved, slid across the floor to where she was, and pinched her nose with his fingers. "When you're the angriest, you talk in third person. Takeshi told me you used to talk only in third person when you were younger," he said, and she was too much at loss for words to even bother snapping about how it wasn't Takeshi's business at all. "It's cute. You're cute when you get angry - when you're not thinking, and planning." His fingers released her nose, and Haru inhaled quickly. "I would've liked to know the young and carefree Haru. Maybe we'd have been cake friends."
Sometime in the past year, Byakuran had learned to babble a lot like her, which still surprised her. But he carried on doing that.
"I'd have liked to meet a Haru who didn't think ahead, and didn't plan so much." He was leaning closer, and Haru thought - I'm naked in my bathtub and he's gay with Takeshi and he's going to kiss me, oh god. "But maybe a Haru who didn't plan, wouldn't have taken a forgetful criminal into her home to change him."
Or kill me. "You know..." she whispered, and slipped further into the water. Byakuran caught her by her arms and pulled her up a little - probably before he'd drown her with his own hands. She thought again, fast, her mind going at full speed - at how he'd realized, and how long she'd been his plaything, of who he was going to go after when he'd killed her. Somewhere along those thoughts, the optimist she'd thought buried a while back whined over the loss of someone who'd shown such potential to be good again.
"I heard you the first day," he whispered, and smiled again. It was torture, to see that smile and know that he'd be ending her life soon.
"Was everything a lie?" she murmured, wanting to know if she'd been an idiot till the very end.
"No," he answered, truthfully - or what she'd come to know as the truth over the year. "I really can't remember what I did - or couldn't, for the longest time. I stayed out of pure curiosity, and not having anywhere else to go. But somehow, with all the planning going through this thick little head of yours, Haru, you got me to listen to what you were saying, and read between the lines."
"You want to save everyone," he said, and gripper her arms tighter, probably feeling her body growing slowly limper in the water, from the pressure and the shock. "What's surprising is your impetus to want to save me. Because if I really was that bad of a guy, I'd have killed me when I'd had the chance."
She wanted to deny it, or at least defend some of his qualities, but she knew he had her completely figured out. So she listened, and dreaded.
"I think I can appreciate a second chance, though," he said, and finally, the smile faded away. "Maybe this'll be the only world where I'll live. I don't really think I care - it must be tiring, to be that mean and evil and hated. I don't think I want to be that kind of guy this time."
She gaped, her mouth opening and closing like a fish out of fresh water. "What are you saying?"
"I'm saying your plan worked, Haru!" he said, grinning in her face as if he was a kid, which was obviously not it. "So cheer up! I'm not going to turn psycho on you - no matter what the Byakuran before the amnesia was like, this one's going to do things his way. And hey, you can go down in history saying that you influenced all that good will."
He let go of her, suddenly, and she went completely underwater from the shock. She came out sputtering, hands gripping the edge of the tub fiercely. He was standing now, looming straight above her and probably having a full view of what all the disappeared bubbles failed to conceal. Then and there, tall and imposing in his house clothes and standing in her bathroom, he looked every inch the scary head of a mafia family that he could be.
"I'll be going back to the Milliefore soon, as you planned for me to do. You and Don Vongola, I imagine, will be happy to know that the Milliefore will not be targeting any of you. I'd give it little more than half a year before it's disbanded - and if anyone refuses to stop peacefully, well..."
She took the pause and her cue to say, finally - "I don't understand."
"Oh, you will, Haru-chan." Again, the smile. He only reached for her with one hand, fingers brushing over her jaw line. "You will have time to understand. The first thing you'll have to understand now, to remember, is that all actions have consequences. Your act of faith and redemption included."
"What is that?" she asked, forgetting even the towel, even her nakedness. At least, until he grabbed her chin between his thumb and forefinger, and looked at her as if her nakedness was exactly what she shouldn't forget.
"Once I've played the part in your plans, I'll want my reward," he answered, his pointer finger brushing her cheek idly. "That'll be you."
"Me?! But - "
"Yes, you. I want you, Haru," he said, silencing her as he bent over her and pressed a kiss to her cheek. Against it, he murmured the rest: "I want you everywhere in this house, and then everywhere I can get you. And I'll have you, but not because I'm a good boy now and I deserve a little reward. But because you want it, deep down, and I intend to take full advantage of that want."
She was sure that soon, the water would be hot enough just from her blushing alone. She felt too faint, too assaulted by so many changes, by so much chaos, and so many plans which did not go as she'd thought them up to go, to even protest about Yamamoto. Fortunately, her housemate - and over the year, perhaps even friend - turned out to be very perceptive, for he gave her a nice little smile and walked away.
"And don't worry, I think Takeshi's going to be thrilled when you join us," he added over his shoulder, and left the bathroom before she could even consider throwing her shampoo bottle after him.
The following day, she found Yamamoto and gave him a bruised shin for not having told her earlier that Byakuran was a smart bastard. Then she offered to kiss the bruise better - eventually.
Two months after the formal dismantle of the Milliefore family, the mafia families settled back into the old feuds and the more pacific rivalries, and balance was restored. All that remained of the tale was the knowledge, among certain members of certain families, that Miura Haru was often seen escorted by the Vongola Rain Guardian to the estate of the retired Don Milliefore, presumably for advice. But who knew, when the main informant was involved in keeping the secrecy?
Three years after having embarked herself on the craziest plot to save the world on her own, Haru's life was still a mess.
But at least now she knew more about the world, about the people. She understood a bit more, and in the long-run, if she lived to tell the tale, she'd be able to say that she'd lived a full, adventurous life.
She would always stuff her cupcakes with one almond each, for the reminder that not all things sweet couldn't hurt.