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A sequel-of-sorts to To Bianchi, Our Love.

Bianchi/Reborn, Bianchi/Romeo, (non-incesty, what!) sibling love of the Bianchi&Hayato kind. When Reborn breaks Bianchi's heart, Bianchi (eventually) responds in kind.



i

He's living in her father's house the summer she's fifteen. She's just coming out of the gawky stage, her breasts and hips round, but her elbows still a little too sharp, and her father frowns when his men nod at her, smile at her jokes. Her father frowns all the more when she walks down the sun-drenched sidewalks, when she leans to look at flashes of jewelry in the market stalls, and so Reborn lives in her father's house, and shadows her steps the summer she's fifteen.

Reborn's hat is still at its jaunty tilt, his coat tucked beneath an arm the way it had been when she was eleven, but she's not so young, not so naive. And when he looks at her, sharp eyes and thin lips, she's not so awe-struck. There's little fear in her now, whether of God or Reborn, and so she lifts her chin, and steps beyond her father's gates. Reborn follows her when she walks down to the town, and when she ducks beneath the canopies of the market stalls, he waits for her, the brim of his hat shading his eyes against the hot Italian sun.

"Why are you following me?" she asks, when she's fingering a bracelet of heavy silver, the tissue paper the bracelet was wrapped in caught in the bend of her elbow. The bracelet's links are big enough to fit over the tip of her pinky, and she's fiddling with it when the tissue paper slips from her elbow, grazes her skirt as it falls. Reborn crouches, grabbing the tissue paper, and then he's folding it into a neat square, slipping it into a pocket. "Reborn," she says, and Reborn's hand is on her elbow, and his mouth is against her cheek, like a friend's caress.

"We," he says, "need to run."

She can run near as fast as him, but she can't jump as high, and his hand is tight around hers, pulling her up after him. She tumbles after him, knees skinning against the flat, hot stones, and when he turns, spinning her behind him with a twist of his arm, she turns on the balls of her feet, her shoulder pressed light against his back. There's a gun in his hand, matte black, and he presses it into her hand, says, "don't shoot unless you have to."

She grips the gun the way her father taught her, thumbs straight and steady against the side of the gun, left hand curling around her right. Reborn moves further in front of her, his shadow cutting across the sunlight in the narrow alley, and Bianchi stares past him, where men, not her father's men, are standing. They're not big, but they still loom somehow, shadows beneath the overhead sun, and she lifts the gun, aims over Reborn's left shoulder.

"Don't," someone says, a man, and Reborn's bending, then moving forward, faster than Bianchi expected. Faster than the men must have expected, because there's a blade in Reborn's hand, a glint of metal, and there's blood from the men's throats.

Bianchi can feel her skinned knees bleeding, blood trickling down her shins. She breathes fast, shallowly, the way she's not supposed to breathe, the way that makes her feel dizzy and light-headed, like everything's too hot. She can feel the blood trickle on her legs, and sweat trickle her palms, and the bracelet's still twisted around her hand, caught on a finger. It rubs against the length of her thumb, and when she fires the gun, a sharp deafening in her ears, the bracelet snags, then falls cold against her wrist.

The man falls to the ground.

x

Reborn leaves when she's still fifteen. She doesn't know why; all they tell her is that Bernardo's going to walk with her now, through the city stalls and alleyways. She wants to throw a fit, wants to scream and stamp her feet until her father listens to her, but she's fifteen, too old to act like a child.

"You're a woman now," her father says as Bianchi pulls her hair up, twisting it in thick ropes. "Bernardo will be better for you."

Bianchi slides a pin into her hair slowly, turns her head. The nape of her neck looks slender in the mirror, pale beneath the shadow of her hair. Her father is frowning through the mirror's reflection.

"Bernardo's my best man. I trust him."

"I trusted Reborn," she says, and watches a long curl fall from the twist of her hair. Her father reaches out, catches it, and holds it up to the twist. She slides her fingers between his, holds the hair steady as she slides another pin into her hair. "If I trusted him, I don't know why--"

"Bernardo," her father says, and he pats her clumsily on the head, hand heavy, "is my man. I trust him with you."

She wants to scream, throw the brush at the wall, watch the mirror shatter in a thousand shards. Wants to pull her hair and stomp her feet and cry until her mother comes rushing into the room, cooing and asking what's the matter, dear, why are you crying? She wants to throw a fit, and have her parents make all the world right.

She wants to walk down the streets, looking in on the market stalls, and she wants Reborn to walk beside, to carry her packages. She wants Reborn.

She doesn't want to be fifteen.

"Fine," she says, and her father pats her on the head again. She stares at herself in the mirror, at her hair pinned up like a woman, at her cheeks pale like a woman, and at her tears, streaking like a baby, and when her father walks out of the room, saying, "it's for the best, Bianchi," she tears the pins out of her hair.



ii

Reborn comes back when Bianchi's seventeen, but Reborn's a baby now, a toddler carrying a gun. He's still Reborn, though, sharp and bored and with his hat tilted at a jaunty angle, his hands in his pockets. Bianchi swallows, feels her throat burn and her eyes burn and her heart burn, and when Reborn looks up at her, she bites her tongue.

"Your daughter has grown up to be quite beautiful, hasn't she?" Reborn says to her father, and her father touches Bianchi's elbow.

"She takes after her mother," he says, and Bianchi smiles, because that's what she does when her father's guests compliment her, her eyes and her face and the curve of her neck. Beautiful, and they touch her hand, loop their fingers through hers while they walk her through the hallways to the dining room.

"And your son?" Reborn asks, and Hayato shuffles on Bianchi's other side. When she looks at him, he looks flustered, scared like their father's going to yell at him again. She grabs his hand, squeezes it, and Hayato squeezes back, like he's ten and not thirteen.

"Like his mother," Father says after a long pause, and when he walks down the hallway with Reborn and his men, Bianchi pulls Hayato back up the stairs. Hayato trips after her, and his hand, when she holds on tighter, is clammy.

"Father," he says, and she pulls him down the hallway towards their mother's room.

"He won't be mad," she says. "You didn't say anything, it was Reborn."

When they knock on their mother's door, she calls to them as she coughs, and when Bianchi sits on the edge of their mother's bed, she can't stop her feet from kicking, because Reborn's back.

x

"You still play the piano," Reborn says when Bianchi sits at the piano after breakfast. Her fingers feel faster, and the keys sound brighter. She runs a scale, then another.

"Hayato does, too." A third scale, and she throws in a few measures of a song. It's too slow, though, too heavy, and she tries a few measures of another song. Her father's favorite. "He's still better than me, when he plays."

When Bianchi closes her eyes, and when Reborn's quiet, she can pretend that he's still taller than her, that his hands, if he reached out, would be able to span the width between her shoulder blades. That if he told her to run, he could still pull her up if she tripped, could grab her wrist and throw her weight behind him. That he could stand between her and the end of an alleyway, and block out the sun.

When he talks though, his voice is high, babyish, and her fingers slip on the keys.

"We could help you," she says, and she clenches her hands into fists, lays them in her lap. "I could help you."

She never heard him laugh when he was a man, but he laughs now that he's a baby, and it sounds-- mean.

"What could you do?" the baby asks, and his hat is tilted so she can't see his eyes, but she can see his mouth, and she hates him, and wants him, and wants him to be taller than her, to have hands bigger than hers. To, for once, hold her hand instead of her wrist, and, for once, to take her for more than her father's daughter. "The children of the bosses are always useless."



iii

Romeo dies in the gutter, blood on the corner of his mouth and splattered across his shirt. His jacket is still draped over her shoulders, from when they stepped outside of the restaurant, and Bianchi pulls it closer, feels her fingers smear blood across the lapels.

"Bianchi--" Bernardo is grabbing her elbow, yanking her up, and Romeo's head rolls to the side, blood slipping down his cheek to his ear. There's blood in his hair. "Bianchi, you have to move--"

"I have her," someone says, a baby's voice, and when she looks down, Reborn is reaching up for her hand. "Bianchi," Reborn says, and his hand is tiny, can only grab her finger, "we need to run now."

They run down the streets, Reborn in her arms. Her heels slam on the pavement, sound like gunshots with every step she takes, and the straps are digging into her ankles. Romeo's jacket is too big, hangs too wide on her shoulders, and she should drop it, she knows she should drop it, because it slows her down, makes her conspicuous-- but there's blood on the lapels, and it smells like his cologne, and he's lying in the gutter three blocks back, blood clotting in his throat.

"You can stop," Reborn says, his face pressed against her collarbone, and she's gasping for breath, feels like she's going to be sick. "Bianchi, we can stop."

When they stop, she throws up into the gutter, the pavement digging into her knees. Reborn leans against her arm, presses up against her, and pulls her hair back, holds it out of her face. She doesn't know where her hair clips went, can't remember if they fell out when she was running, or if Romeo stole them during dinner when he had been running his fingers down her face, across her neck--

"There's blood on your face," Reborn says. He lets go of her hair when she sits back, pressing the heel of her hand to her mouth. "Wipe it off before someone notices."

His handkerchief is small, like everything about him, and she wipes her cheek, her neck and rise of her chest. The handkerchief is smeared with blood when she holds it out to him, and when he takes it, he takes her hand, too, his hand wrapped around her pinky.

"Get up," he says. "I'll take you home."

x

Reborn goes to the funeral. She doesn't go, doesn't want to go, so she watches from the window as he leaves with a few of her father's men, all in black. Hayato's going with them, taking the flowers her mother is sending with him. Bianchi watches them, and bites her lips, tearing the skin off in bits until her mouth tastes like blood.

"Bianchi," her mother says, standing in the doorway. Mother looks pale, looks like she's shaking, and Bianchi pulls her blanket tighter around her shoulders, leans harder against the window. She wonders, as she breathes on the glass, if it will break, let her fall to the ground two stories below.

"Bianchi," Mother says again, and Bianchi pulls her legs up closer to her chest so Mother can sit on the windowseat with her. "I thought you would go to the funeral."

"I can't," Bianchi says, and her mother is leaning forward to pull fingers through Bianchi's hair. Bianchi watches her hair, thick and heavy and the color of old, dried bloodstains, slip through her mother's hands. "I haven't washed his jacket yet."

"Bianchi," Mother murmurs, and she holds Bianchi as Bianchi cries, the dry, racking sobs everyone cries in the Mafia. No tears, because she's too old, and she's too strong, and tears would choke her. Because tears would feel like Romeo's blood, slipping wetly down her face, between her breasts.

She sits at the window the rest of the day, and her mother sits with her. The men come back in the late afternoon, suits whitened with dust. Hayato's walking in the midst of them, swinging an arm slowly, and when he sees her at her window he waves.

"They're back," her mother says, but Bianchi can't answer. Can't look, and can't look away, and can't do anything except lean hard against the window, the glass cold on her skin. Reborn hasn't come home with them.



iv

Reborn coddles her when they're in Japan, and she coddles him back. It's something sick, twisted and nasty and a punch to the gut. She doesn't want to stop it, though, doesn't know how to stop it, so she holds him in her arms, plays with his baby-fine hair with her fingers. And, when he asks her, she puts a gun to anyone's head, and fires.

She knows that Reborn doesn't need her; it's a pantomime, all the times that she comes to "rescue" him. He's as efficient as before, and twice as brutal: he doesn't need her, but tolerates her. Uses her, and when her usefulness is over, she'll be left behind with a bullet in her pistol.

So she works. Hard. She does everything she can think of to twist herself in with him, to make herself as necessary, as elementary, as breathing. When Reborn looks up at her, round, black eyes, she smiles down at him, and breathes poison into the air.

"What are you doing?" Hayato asks her when she's reassembling a handgun. The silencer is bulky, too bulky, and she takes it back off, holds it up to another handgun. A better match.

"What does it look like?" she asks back, and Hayato frowns at her. Her hair falls into her face so she pushes it back behind an ear, flips the ends over her shoulder.

"Father wouldn't want you to work like this," Hayato says, and she knows he's right. Right now, though, right and wrong don't matter, because Reborn is like nicotine in her lungs, and she's like cancer in his blood. Italy is half a world away, and here in Japan, Bianchi has a chance to make this world her own.

"How would you," she asks, petty and mean, "know what Father wants?"

It shuts Hayato up, better than if she'd slapped him, and his silence makes her even angrier. She slams the silencer on the gun, twists it to lock it, and throws the gun across the table. Hayato catches it, sets it back on the table, and Bianchi leans back in her chair, lifting her chin.

"Why are you so stupid?" she asks, but she doesn't know if she's asking him, or herself.

x

Reborn leaves Japan three years later, when the Ninth boss dies and Sawada comes into his own. He leaves Bianchi behind, and Bianchi sits in her apartment, in cut-off shorts and a polka-dot bra, and cries. Her luggage is open around her, clothes and trinkets strewn around the room. There's a box of tissues, too, but it's mostly empty, and she has never felt more helpless.

She could go back-- they had all said she could go back. Her father had called her, and Reborn had stood in her doorway, and they had said, Italy's waiting for you, come back to her. Italy, though, feels like an old dream, something grainy and spotted by the sun. Italy is where first Romeo died, then her mother. Italy is where Hayato's mother flew off the cliff like a bird, then crashed to the ground like a stone. Italy is where love never happens, and everything is bright and bloody and painful, a sunburn across her shoulders.

"Bianchi?" Hayato's voice calls out, and Bianchi cries harder, scrambles for a shirt. She's only pulled it over her arms when Hayato pokes in around the doorway, and he chokes, looks away while she pulls it the rest of the way on, smearing tears and snot on the collar.

"Bianchi," Hayato says when he edges into the room, and Bianchi says, "what do you want, Hayato."

"Nothing, just--" He sits down next to her, and grabs a shirt, folds it. He folds laundry the same way her mother used to, and she watches him smooth out the shirt, then lie it in the suitcase closest to him.

When the suitcase is half full, he holds out his hand, and she grabs it, holds onto it like they're children again. He doesn't look at her, and she can't look higher than his shoulder. The crying has left her tired and achy, and her palms feel sweaty.

"You should stay here," Hayato says. He squeezes her hand, and stays steady when she hides her face against his back. "I'm staying, too. I don't-- I mean, Mother's gone, and Father-- You know Father, he never..." he trails off when his voice cracks, and the back of his shirt is growing damp against her face. Bianchi snorts, an aborted laugh.

"Liar," she says, "you just want to stay because Sawada will come back."

Hayato's body stiffens, then relaxes slowly, and he twists his hand so their fingers are intertwined. "Yeah," he says, "maybe," so she says, like a stupid joke that's not really funny, "we're such fools in love."



v

When Bianchi is twenty-nine, the world falls apart. It is an implosion of the underworld, families disappearing in the middle of the night and the children of bosses choking on their own blood. It is a madhouse slaughter, and through it all, Bianchi watches her father raze the countryside with a cold fury that she's never seen in him before, searching for his son.

In the end, Reborn stands in the ashes, with a man's broad shoulders in a gray suit, and Hayato's body is crumpled at his feet. Their father takes Hayato's body, and Reborn helps him lift it. From behind, their backs look similar-- men in the mafia, all of them in their three-piece suits, woolen suits of gray and black and the darkest blue. Bianchi aims down the sight of her gun, then flicks the safety, and follows them.

Sawada finds them at the hospital within hours, Yamamoto and Sasagawa flanking him on either side. They're still splattered with blood, ashes dusting their shoulders. Bianchi smooths her hand over Hayato's again, gentle over the IV, and turns her back to them.

"We tried," Sawada says as he edges closer, already looking like a kicked dog. Bianchi smooths her hand over Hayato's again, lifts it to her mouth to kiss the IV gently. "We tried, Bianchi, I promise-- I tried, but he was so far away, and--"

"My father," Bianchi interrupts, "will be back in a few minutes. I suggest you leave before he gets back."

Sawada hesitates, looking at Hayato's body with a longing that makes Bianchi sick with fear. She doesn't want her father to see this. The children of the bosses are young, and still happy enough, innocent enough, to love like the idiots they are, but she knows that Father is old, from a different wold and a different time. She knows that, if Father or his men see Sawada stand by Hayato's bed like this, rumors will filter through like poison, and that one day, Hayato will fly off the cliff just like his mother.

"You need to go," she says, setting Hayato's hand down on his chest where it curls in awkwardly, his wrist and elbow bulky with bandages. She stands up, grabs Sawada's shoulder to push him from the room. "I'll tell him you came when he wakes up."

"But I want," Sawada starts, still hesitating, and Bianchi wants to backhand him, knock some sense into his stupid, happy, naive skull.

"This isn't Japan," she snaps. "People are watching him here, and you will only ruin everything. He's going to become a boss, just like you, and he can't keep throwing his life away--"

Sawada leaves with a long backwards look, and Bianchi watches him go. By the time her father returns, she's sitting in the chair again, petting Hayato's hand as she hums to him in his sleep.

x

When Hayato is released from the hospital, he limps his way to the car, his arm thrown over Bianchi's shoulder. Their father comes to the door of his office, watches Hayato enter the house, and nods at him when Hayato catches his eye. After Bianchi has tucked Hayato into his bed, Hayato already drowsy and clumsy with pills, she goes down to the kitchen to drink coffee. She's sitting at the kitchen table, drinking her second cup, when Reborn comes in.

"You've heard the rumors?" he asks, before he says hello, or even nods. Bianchi blinks, then sets down her cup, shaking her head. "They say your brother has turned tail for the Vongola boss."

Bianchi swallows back the taste of coffee, swallows back the sickness rising up her throat. "And?" she asks, and Reborn cocks his head to the side, looks at her appraisingly.

"They're wondering what to do about him. How to--" Reborn lifts his hand, snaps his fingers. The sound is sharp and crisp in the empty kitchen. "--take advantage."

"And how will you take advantage?" Bianchi turns the cup carefully, so that the handle is at a perfect angle. Angles, she knows, are her advantage, and she lifts her head, turns her chin so her neck will look the most slender, the easiest to snap.

"Through you." Reborn's eyes are heavy, and his voice is low. "Through the boss's pretty little daughter, the only one of his kids that isn't a bastard."

Bianchi laughs, light and affected, bright enough that she knows he'll recognize it for the act it is. "And what? Become the boss?"

"Of course," Reborn murmurs as he leans against the table, close enough to breathe on her skin. When he grabs her arm, the grip is tight enough to make her gasp; there will be bruises in the morning. "The boss, and the husband of the last boss's only daughter."

She doesn't bother trying to throw him off-- doesn't bother trying to convince herself to throw him off. He's touching her, his mouth against hers, his hands bruising her skin. When he wraps a hand around her neck, she shudders, and closes her eyes so he can't see the heat inside her.

"You won't say no," he says against her breastbone. "You love him too much."



vi

She sits with him at the table, empty plates between them. Reborn's drinking coffee, looking down at the newspaper that's spread across the table, and Bianchi's scraping marmalade back into the jar, and brushing crumbs from her hands. The morning is still early, sun shattering low against the glasses on the table. Bianchi brushes another crumb from her fingers, straightens the wedding band on her finger. The diamond catches the light, breaks it.

"I'm pregnant," she says, and the newspaper rustles across the table, Reborn looking up at her with black eyes.

"Is it--" he begins to ask, and Bianchi folds her napkin, slides it beneath the edge of her plate.

"It's not yours," she says, and Reborn sets down his cup, the coffee sloshing darkly. Bianchi reaches out, runs a finger along the knife beside her plate pointedly, and Reborn's newspaper rustles. "Of course it's not yours. Did you think--"

It is quiet while she struggles to regain her composure, lower her voice. Their house, their huge, empty house, echoes whenever she screams at him, and screaming has never brought her anything except bruises on both of their bodies. It is less lonely to murmur, polite conversation on impolite topics over their late breakfast.

"I'm thirty-seven," she says conversationally, "so I won't be getting an abortion, of course."

"Of course," Reborn says back with a mean smile. "You're a good Catholic, after all."

"And you won't want a divorce," she says. "Not if you want to keep this Family." She pulls a piece of crust off her toast, puts it into her mouth. It's a dry sacrament, sapping her mouth. She swallows it, then takes up her cup, sips her coffee. When she looks at Reborn, she lifts her head, turns her chin so her neck is slender, and bruises on her collarbone are dark beneath the morning light.

"If it's a son," she says, "I think I want to name him Romeo."

Reborn has already lifted his paper again, his fingers holding it at sharp angles. She wonders if it has cut his hands, if there is blood running beneath the cuffs of his starched shirt. "After your first love?" he asks from behind the paper, muffled by so thin a thing.

"No," she says, and she picks up the knife again, dips it into the marmalade jar. "After my second."
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