|Heart of Ice
Author: Umei no Mai PM
Trapped by the Mafia and sent to Namimori to keep an eye on the son of the Vongola External Advisor, Helene tries to settle into her new life under an alias and look after her little brother. However when Sawada Tsunayoshi is made the Vongola heir her past and present begin to intersect...Rated: Fiction M - English - Chapters: 32 - Words: 54,865 - Reviews: 107 - Favs: 82 - Follows: 84 - Updated: 10-10-12 - Published: 06-15-12 - id: 8221270
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility" G. M. Trevelyan, (1876 – 1962).
There was blood everywhere: spattered over the cupboards, sprayed across the walls and ceiling and dripping down into the spreading puddle on the floor around the cooling, headless body next to the kitchen table. The head had bounced off onto the countertop and was also seeping red fluid. The kaiken held loosely in her right hand was slippery with it, her sleeves and the front of her school uniform were tacky in places as the cooling liquid slowly congealed and her face and hair were decorated with a fine red mist of droplets. The air was thick with the smell of iron and copper, so thick she could taste it. The young woman currently attending middle school under the identity of fourteen-year-old Fukurōsu Setsume lowered the knife and gingerly fished a mobile phone out of her back trouser pocket with her left hand and fiddled until the name she was after came up. Pressing the call button she turned around to look down at the barely conscious and shivering form of the classmate she had been protecting. Murder or not, she felt entirely justified in her actions: Ayame-chan's father had no right whatsoever to abuse his daughter so and his attempt to enact the same cruelty upon Setsume to coerce her into silence made his death all the more deserving.
"Moshi moshi?" came the deep, pleasant voice of the second-in-command of the Namimori Middle Disciplinary Committee, fourteen-year-old Kusakabe Tetsuya. Setsume had determined who really held the reins of power by her third day as a member of Namimori Middle School and accordingly acquired the necessary contact details. That had been six weeks ago and she knew the Committee had its eye on her; she was in no way intimidated by the thugs that made up the Committee nor by its leader, the violently aggressive and somewhat sociopathic Hibari Kyoya. Her punctuality and polite obedience to the rules helped, as did her impeccable grades.
"Kusakabe-san, I find myself in need of the Disciplinary Committee's assistance in a matter that has recently been having a knock-on effect on student affairs," Setsume said obliquely. "The matter itself is now permanently resolved, but dealing with the aftermath will require discretion and Hibari-dono's influence upon third parties in official capacities. If someone qualified in post-incident cleanup could come to the residence of Kawagishi Ayame I would be most grateful." Her choice of suffix when referring to the Committee leader was deliberate, the archaic term denoting her willingness to pledge herself to the distant and dangerous teen's crusade for order.
There was a brief pause on the line before she got her reply: "We will be there immanently, Fukurōsu-san." Setsume hung up as the dial tone rang in her ear and slid the phone back into her pocket. Finally setting aside the stained knife she had used to defend herself and her classmate from the advances of said classmate's father, the bloodied young woman turned to coax her younger friend out of her terror-induced catatonia.
By the time the quartet of large teens with pompadour hairstyles carrying suspicious-looking gym bags finally arrived at the front door Ayame was curled up on the sofa wrapped in a woollen blanket, still shivering but rather more aware of her surroundings. The frightened teen cringed back as her still blood-spattered friend opened the door to let Kusakabe Tetsuya and his three subordinates into the house. To their credit, the four boys were only momentarily taken aback by Setsume's appearance and stepped inside as if nothing unusual was going on at all, slipping their shoes off and toeing on slippers as if gore-encrusted young women answering the door were not particularly out of the ordinary.
"Most of the mess is in the kitchen," Setsume said, gesturing right towards the door to the room in question, "Along with the body and my kaiken, which I would like back. Kusakabe-san, I presume you would like a full explanation?"
"If you would, Fukurōsu-san," the tallest of the four teens rumbled agreeably as the other three opened the gym bags and started taking out bottles of bleach, overalls, plastic gloves and facemasks.
Setsume explained, beginning with her befriending of Ayame and her suspicions regarding the girl's timidity and academic problems, her flinching from the taller boys in class and preference for non-regulation clothing that covered more skin than the school uniform. She then proceeded through how she had eventually pressured the girl to invite her over so they could do homework together regularly and noticed how her friend's father's behaviour was not quite appropriate towards her. Then how today, when Ayame's father had not realised Setsume was in the house, the man had openly approached his daughter with sexual intent and made clear to anyone listening that this was a regular occurrence. Setsume had then intervened in defence of her friend, at which point Kawagishi-san had attempted to rape her instead. Setsume however had been armed with her late mother's kaiken and knew how to use it; Kawagishi-san had had his gut opened by the razor-sharp blade then lost his head to a perfectly executed swing.
"After which I determined that calling you was the best course of action, Kusakabe-san," Setsume concluded.
"Call me Tetsuya," the taller teen said, watching her with respect in his eyes as he chewed on a thin twig. "How were you planning on spinning this?"
Setsume shrugged. "Then call me Setsume, please. I clean up, call the police and say how my friend's father tried to rape me. When he saw I had a knife he ran off. I just need to make sure they take my word for it."
"Why involve the police at all?"
"Ayame-chan needs taking to the hospital and eventual therapy, which requires police involvement considering the nature of the trauma."
Tetsuya pierced her with a cool stare. "Not the first time you've done this, is it?"
Setsume could hear all the things being left unsaid, such as not your first kill and deliberate, premeditated murder as well as you manipulative little bitch. "I've killed people before," she conceded quietly, "not that I've ever faced charges." They had been mostly in self-defence and a few times in defence of a third party; she'd made her bones long enough ago that murder was now just another option on her mental list, if the very last one. "I don't enjoy it at all, Tetsuya-san, but some experiences change us for life."
The looming teen nodded acceptingly. "Hibari-san would like you in the Committee, Setsume-san; we find ourselves in need of someone capable and discreet managing our funds as well as coordinating with the student body. You are both capable and approachable."
Setsume could tell that this had been in the wind for a while and that Tetsuya had only made the offer now that she needed something from Hibari, namely whatever it was he had on the local Chief of Police and Hospital Director to smooth things over. However since she was in Namimori for reasons not at cross purposes with Hibari Kyoya's own aims, she was prepared to sacrifice a little freedom for the cause.
"My younger brother is currently attending the final year of Namimori Elementary, Tetsuya-san," she said frankly. "I am willing to join the Committee and pledge myself to Hibari-dono providing my brother is protected so long as he is attending a school under the Committee's oversight. I also refuse to carry out hits or assignments of a sexual nature."
Tetsuya seemed a little startled by her bald statement, but agreed that her terms were acceptable. Reassured, Setsume called her brother to ask him to bring a full change of clothes over to Ayame's house and went to have a shower before the bloodstains on her clothes could set.
Two days after the incident at her friend's house Setsume showed up at school wearing a Disciplinary Committee armband and thereafter spent several hours each day balancing the books, ensuring Committee members had all the necessary notes to do well on tests and complete homework and gradually got to know her new boss. Hibari Kyoya had more no-go zones than a minefield but Setsume rather relished the challenge; he was interesting for a fourteen-year-old boy and far more complex than any of his peers except Tetsuya.
Of course the Namimori Middle Disciplinary Committee was not her only responsibility; it wasn't even her most important one. It did however provide structure to her life, enabled her to meet new and interesting people and granted an excellent cover for the other things she had to do, including keeping an eye on Sawada Tsunayoshi. She and her brother had moved to Japan to get away from the Mafia, but her debt to the Vongola meant that when the head of the CEDEF had asked her to base herself in Namimori to watch over his son she had not been in a position to refuse. That she had to attend middle school again alongside children four years her junior was a result of Sawada Iemitsu's ridiculous overprotectiveness where his family was involved; only the fact that her brother was the same age as the External Advisor's son and therefore in the same class had spared her the fate of having to try and blend in with the twelve-year-olds. As it was she had to balance classes with an online degree course at a prestigious university, not to mention manage the businesses she had recently inherited. She rarely had a moment to herself anymore.
Helene Marshal had grown up alongside the Mafia rather than within it, all her connections to it being through friends and circumstances, but that didn't make her hate it any less. She wanted out rather desperately for both herself and her baby brother, but her parent's death the previous year had been the pebble that brought down the avalanche upon them both and escape now seemed a distant dream.
Not that she was going to stop hoping.