|Flames and Family III: The Crimson Curtain
Author: madashes2ashes PM
Sequel to Flames and Family II. Follows Tsuna as he becomes Boss of Vongola. Tsuna-centric as always. Rated M for Blood, Violence, and other Adult themes.Rated: Fiction M - English - Drama/Crime - Chapters: 99 - Words: 573,752 - Reviews: 1,083 - Favs: 190 - Follows: 49 - Updated: 07-04-08 - Published: 03-21-08 - Status: Complete - id: 4146107
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"ARI!" Tsuna roared, chasing the woman through Limbo. He'd managed to steer her away from the Hidden Gates, but there had been numerous close calls on the edge of the misted area. The woman was smart. She knew Tsuna's goal and she knew what he intended. Dodging trees, they ran farther and farther away from the lake while Tsuna pursued her. He knew that he would have only one chance to do this right. One chance to ensure that Ari wouldn't continue her plague of hatred into Hotaru's life. One chance to ensure that she couldn't return to take out her vengeance on the world and his Family.
He'd used every trick he could, including the occasional aid of Gatekeepers. He'd barely made it into Limbo when both her and Mukuro had arrived. After that, the battle had gone on so long that Tsuna wasn't sure how long he'd been dead. A day? A week? A month? A year? Not that it mattered anymore for himself, but he was worried about Mukuro's prolonged stay in effort to help him.
"Tsunayoshi!" Mukuro yelled. Tsuna paused to catch his breathe, knowing that the woman would return to the Gates again after she'd lost them. It was her goal, after all.
"We can't keep doing this," he panted. "It'll never end this way."
"I'm all out of ideas," Mukuro grimaced. "That fiendish wench has made me play the same hand three times already."
"I still have one trick left," Tsuna gasped, waving for Mukuro to take them back to the outer edges of the Gates again. Mukuro nodded and grabbed his hand, making the world spin for a moment before settling down in the place that they'd wanted to arrive at. "If this works," Tsuna mumbled, squeezing Mukuro's hand rather than letting go. "If this works, I don't know how well it will. I've not tried it before, so--"
"Don't take risks, my love," he interjected worriedly. Tsuna smiled, knowing that Mukuro didn't know that he no longer had a body to return to. He knew that he'd be hurting his beloved by waiting until the last minute, but he wanted every moment of lasting happiness that he could get.
"Thank you," he mumbled with a sad smile.
"Won't you two just give up already?" Ari growled as she appeared from behind a nearby tree. Tsuna let go of Mukuro's hand and raised his fists in unison with the trident that was barred. Tsuna didn't both wasting energy talking with her. He leaped into action like he had numerous times before.
With one major difference.
It'd been bashed into his head numerous times through his combat career that grappling the enemy was bad. Unless he was expecting to be thrown, since his size was small enough to allow pretty much anyone to throw him, he should never close in on the enemy for more than a strike. That was what made his lunge all the more unexpected and allowed him to clamp himself around the woman's body. It was a move that he'd not used before and was one that she'd not put into her list of attacks Tsuna could make.
"What are you going to do now?" Ari asked with a smile, still managing to propel herself upward out of Mukuro's reach by the boost of her own gloves.
"Nothing," he answered quietly. Ari froze in the middle of the sky, having expected something far more insidious from him. Something such as a prison of ice or a dagger in her back. Instead, Tsuna continued to simply hug her without letting go.
"What game are you playing?!" Ari roared in anger. "If that's all you've got--" Ari broke off while the world began to spin and Tsuna smiled. If he couldn't make her go to the lake on her own, he'd bring the lake to them. The same teleportation that allowed them to head Ari off time after time was a weapon in itself. One that Tsuna had grasped after making Mukuro allow him to feel the process multiple times.
Like he had said, Tsuna did absolutely nothing more than continue to hug her. He didn't need to do anything more. By giving him the moment to concentrate that he needed, their destination was already set and she couldn't stop it.
And there was only one destination Tsuna desired.
Smiling, he felt the waters close in on them as the world spun to a stop. He could feel Ari fighting in his arms, trying to simply get away so that she could swim for safety when she realized that Tsuna had transported them into the depths of the lake. It only lasted for a moment, though. After that, their will to fight began to drain in unison while the calls of the Lake-Dwellers began ringing in their ears, enumerating the ways that they were impure.
Their voices began to rip at him and their clawed hands began to tear into his flesh at the same moment the first one sank their teeth into his neck. He could feel Ari shuddering and silently screaming in his arms, but he didn't let go. He continued to hold on until the Lake-Dwellers had begun to feed from her alongside himself. He continued to hold on until he forgot the need to hold on. Until he forgot where he was and everything he was supposed to be doing. He began to forget his terror and his pain while the impurities of his spirit were mercilessly stripped away alongside his memories.
"I'm sinking," he thought in content oblivion while something continued to suck from his neck. Something was sucking from his arm, too. Was that another on his leg? It didn't matter anymore. He was just so tired. So very tired. Maybe... Maybe he could sleep for just a little while.
Just... a little bit.
Tsuna stared up lazily at the rippling surface slowly drifting away from him as he continued to sink. One question continued to enter his mind repeatedly no matter how many times he forgot it. Why was it orange? Tsuna smiled to himself at the sight of the orange above him. It looked so warm. So bight. So--
Despite how he could feel himself fading away...
Despite how he didn't know who had called or why...
Despite how content he was...
Tsuna reached out a hand toward the surface at the sound of that voice echoing through the waters. It was so far away, though. So very far away and he was so tired. There wasn't any reason to answer that call, assuming the person had even been calling him. Tsuna gasped in momentary pain as the teeth and claws in his body sank deeper. Then the memory of the pain was stolen and he once more stared up at the rippling sky above him in oblivion.
Why was it orange?
It was so pretty. And it was getting closer. At least, the orange was. The rippling surface kept receeding while he sank deeper and deeper into the dark depths of the lake. But the orange was getting closer.
His breathe hitched in his chest when more Lake-Dwellers swarmed onto him. They were hungry and suddenly fearful. They were fearful that they were going to loose their precious prey. He wanted to tell them that it was okay. He wasn't going to go anywhere. He didn't really feel like moving. He had no reason to move. No will to move. No memory of what moving felt like, so therefore no desire to move.
What had he been thinking about?
He couldn't remember.
But he could see something orange...
Multiple people paced outside the surgery, wondering if Sakura and Shamal working in combination with multiple illusionists would be able to pull off a miracle. No one wanted to give up hope yet. Admittedly, Tsuna's body had been dead when the ice had been melted. But he'd died tons of times. With enough work, he could be brought back.
Or so everyone kept telling themselves. There was a huge problem with the thought, though. Even if Tsuna's body was brought back and forced to work again, he wouldn't be able to function without his mind and soul. That was why there were times that people just couldn't be saved.
Maybe the shouldn't save him.
The thought crossed all of their minds at least once. It typically came right after the thought of how many times Tsuna had already managed to escape death with only a few scars to bear. It had to be a curse of some sort. A curse created by the combination of misfortune and hope. A curse that the Family couldn't bring themselves to break by allowing him to die without a fight.
Everyone waiting fell silent in mind, body, and spirit when Sakura and Shamal stepped out of the surgery. Their smocks were covered in blood, a tribute to the amount of work they'd been forced to do in their attempts to save Tsuna's body.
"He's on life support," Shamal announced calmly. "The rest is up to him. Now, if you don't mind. I think I'm going to go find me a drink and a cutie in that order."
Considering the look on the man's face, no one could blame him.
"I'm going to go take a shower," Gokudera mumbled. "Do you think--?"
"I'll watch him," Xanxus replied with a nod, refusing to move from where he'd moved his chair next to Tsuna's bedside.
Two weeks. For two weeks, they'd watched over his body while waiting on a miracle. He still hadn't awakened yet. They'd finally felt that it was safe enough to remove the respirator, but Tsuna was still hooked up to numerous vital monitors. They all said the same thing that they'd said for weeks now. He was stable, but unconscious. No one was willing to use the word coma. Not for Tsuna nor for Mukuro. That implied that this would be lasting and no one wanted to think that way.
He would wake.
Everyone said it daily as if it were a charm.
He would wake.
He always woke.
He always came back.
"We're waiting, Tsuna," Xanxus said quietly into the room.
Hope you all liked Flames and Family III: Crimson Curtain! Keep an eye out for Flames and Family IV: Intended Path!
I'd like to thank everyone for their support while I wrote this and all of your wonderful reviews! WOW! 600! I can't tell you how much your support and by-chapter reactions have motivated me to keep writing. There's been a ton of times that it was only you, my readers, that kept me from giving up. The reviews, the fanart, the insane crack-filled PMs... ALL of it has been appreciated, no matter how great or how small.
I'd like to toss out a special thanks to Gintan for the teaser poster of Flames and Family IV.
gintan. deviantart. com/ art/ Flames-and-Family-IV-90220680
I'd also like to thank her for being an awesome sounding board whenever the bunnies attack. Yes, I know I deviated some, but I think this worked out for the best.
Anyways! Thanks for coming along with me for the ride everyone and get ready because the Flames and Family bus is heading for the next stop!