Title: Vigilante Tendency
Summary: Vongola's name had always been uttered as a curse. During the Tenth Generation, the cursing took on an entirely new tone.
Notes: Added 2016-06-27.
Splitting the original chapter 5 into two. Please check out the extra scene in the updated chapter 5! This chapter also expands on some of the previous scenes and adds a few new ones.
"Succession ceremony?" Tsuna repeated. He didn't bother trying to read anything from Nono's peaceful smile, instead apparently seeking answers in the bottom of his delicate teacup. He sniffed a little, unimpressed with the European blend. The first thing he'd do as Decimo would be to change the tea.
"That's right. Since you've... gone ahead and passed the trial of the ring, all that's left is a formality — an official announcement," Nono said.
Tsuna didn't believe for a moment that it was "just" anything. If it was "just" some formality, they wouldn't be having a private meeting with Reborn in attendance, or serving this particular slightly minty tea, cooled to only a bit warm. Or using the less expensive cups. Clearly, Nono expected Tsuna to throw the cup at him at some point.
That was terribly unfair to Tsuna, since he was hardly the throwing things type, but Nono's children had been rather emotional. It was instinct to protect his good china and himself from second burns, at this point.
"Who would we be announcing it to?" Tsuna asked instead, side-stepping the issue for now.
"Just Vongola's top officers and some of our closest allies," Nono said. "Most of them know, of course. It's just to give them a chance to get a look at you and your Guardians." He chuckled. "Otherwise, they might accuse me of just imagining myself a successor in my senility!"
"You don't want to wait a bit? Maybe a few years? I mean... we're all pretty young," Tsuna said.
"Don't worry, my mother, the Ottava, began to pass the reins to me when I was only a little older than you," Nono said. It took all of Reborn's will not to snort in disbelief. Timoteo had been eighteen when Daniela officially passed the rings to him, though he had been her successor for a while before that. But perhaps to an old man like him, four years was "just a little older."
"I suppose," Tsuna said vaguely. "She looked pretty young in the ring. I guess she retired early."
He didn't actually want to do this ceremony or whatever. He could only imagine the kind of fiasco it would turn into. His friends, at an official function? How long would it take Ryohei to challenge someone to a catch? Would Mukuro or Hibari even be able to rein themselves in the entire time? It would probably end in a massive battle royale, ruined furniture, and lots of angry "allies."
Looking at Nono over the rim of the teacup as he took another sip, Tsuna decided the old man deserved having to deal with that. He looked entirely too happy and pleased with himself.
"I guess we should get the formalities out of the way," Tsuna agreed, smiling back. It made Reborn twitch a little. He was fast learning Tsuna's moods and the disasters that always followed. "After all, it's not like I can un-engrave my hour from the ring or anything."
Well, when he put it like that. They really didn't have a choice.
Nono's smile just widened. He probably thought Tsuna's passive aggressiveness was cute.
He didn't think it was nearly as cute after trying to herd Tsuna's Guardians into suits and ties.
Hibari had managed it — except that he insisted on the red armband of the Disciplinary Council. He was still the most put together.
Lambo, through dint of experience, had just cut the top two buttons off his shirt. It was no longer possible to make him button it all the way, and his tie was nowhere to be found. The shirt was also cowprint, and no one had any idea why.
Takeshi had, of course, cheerfully followed his example. Ryohei had just accidentally ripped all his buttons off when he tried to pull a Superman reveal while challenging a poor maid to a fight. Hayato, sadly easily swayed, had somehow decided that this was the Tenth Generation style, and also refused to button up, despite being perfectly capable of wearing a suit correctly.
Mukuro showed up as Chrome.
"Thanks," Tsuna said, grateful for his initiative. He'd actually kind of forgotten that Mukuro was a wanted criminal. "Are you going to be okay with all this?"
"Oh, I'll be just fine," Mukuro said. "It's like playing a trick on all those disguising mafiosi. I'm looking forward to it."
"Please don't snicker out loud," Tsuna requested. "It looks weird when Nagi-chan does it." Mukuro snickered, of course, and it looked really weird. The actual Nagi, standing next to him, just smiled.
Someone else might have been more concerned about how the guests would take it, either the snickering or catching a glimpse of two of the same girl by chance, but Tsuna thought the guests would have bigger problems.
"You will put on that tie and act like a proper Guardian! You're not some outsider, you whelp, you know the score!" roared Coyote, Nono's Storm Guardian.
"Like hell, you shriveled up old goat!" Hayato roared back. "We don't have to take shit from you adults! We'll make our own way!"
The other Ninth Generation Guardians weren't doing much better. Takeshi was just laughing off every order and suggestion, Ryohei was yelling, Hibari was ignoring, Lambo had just gone ahead and plugged his ears. No one even dared to approach Mukuro.
Nono surreptitious added whiskey to his tea.
"Oi, Dame-Tsuna," Reborn called out, "do something about your Guardians. A boss shouldn't let his subordinates run wild."
"I suppose so," Tsuna said mildly, and reached into his pocket to pull out his trusty whistle. Mukuro and Chrome immediately plugged their ears and Reborn, always quick on the uptake, followed their example.
Everyone else except Lambo, who may or may not have expected this, went rigid for a moment at the subsonic paralyzing "sound" of the whistle. Even after so long, they hadn't been able to build up a proper resistance to it. Shoichi was a miracle worker, Tsuna thought yet again, though the older Flame users shook it off quickly enough, even Nono only fumbling his teacup for a moment. Given the judging, unhappy look in Hibari's eye, Visconti was in for a thorough grilling about it as soon as the succession ceremony was over.
"Okay, you guys," Tsuna called out, "there's no need to worry. It's gonna be just fine! These are all Vongola's allies, so even if we mess up, Grandpa will take care of it!"
That... was not at all what Nono wanted to hear.
It wasn't what Mukuro or Hibari or Hayato or even Takeshi with his surprising competitive streak wanted to hear either. All of them had begun to smirk with a rather nasty, displeased edge.
"I'm not worried, Tsuna!" Takeshi said brightly. "We've got this in the bag!"
"Of course," Mukuro agreed, looking particularly unsettling in his Chrome disguise. "I would never lose face in front of mafia trash."
Hibari just huffed in annoyance.
"We won't let you down, Juudaime!" Hayato swore tearfully.
"That's good to hear," Tsuna said. "We should try to make a good impression, since we'll be seeing these people a lot. After all, we're gonna have to convince them to stop being criminals eventually."
Timoteo nearly choked on his whiskey-tea. Nearly.
Nono hadn't been lying when he said that the succession ceremony would be attended only by Vongola's branch leaders and their top allies. He just... had a very broad definition of allies.
In other words, Vongola's succession ceremony was a once in a lifetime social event for the who's who of the mafia world. Invitations had literally been fought over; some were handed to the doorman covered in blood.
So whispers naturally broke out when the Tomaso Family boldly strolled in like they had every right to be there. They did, by virtue of having a slightly wrinkled invitation, but the Tomaso Family had never ranked nearly high enough to warrant one of their own.
Whom had they taken it from? Why were they there — trying to muscle in or show off? They had certainly been gaining power and influence, but weren't they being presumption to make their "mainland" debut there, of all events?
Naito ignored the lot of them, propping his feet up on the table, and watching the stage with eager anticipation.
Everyone around him surreptitiously readied their weapons, in case the Tomaso made their move. They held their breath as the Ninth and Tenth Generations of Vongola stepped out onto the stage and slowly approached each other, but Naito only grinned wider. Even when Tsuna gravely accepted the ornate box from Nono, and everyone began to clap politely, Naito only cheered and whistled loudly — making everyone jump, thinking it was the signal to an attack that didn't come.
And then, Tsuna turned, caught Naito's eye, and waved to him with a smile. Naito gave him a thumbs up and mouthed, 'Way to go!'
A silent gasp of shock rippled through the hall. The Vongola and the Tomaso were already allies?!
Coyote sent Nono a look that said, 'Did you know about this?' Nono just smiled pleasantly, not sure which of the three Coyotes he was seeing to answer.
Unobserved by anyone, Mukuro nodded to himself. Robot army confirmed. That had been bothering him for a long time...
"Dame-Tsuna, dress properly when meeting Nono and his Guardians," Reborn hissed when Tsuna showed up in jeans and a hoodie to a very hastily thrown together but very urgent meeting between the Ninth and Tenth Generations.
"What do you mean?" Tsuna wondered, lifting his arms to check for holes. "I'm decent, right?"
"Wear a suit," Reborn said bluntly. "Show some respect to Nono."
Tsuna paused the exact half-second necessary to imply that he 100 percent did not respect Nono but not long enough to actually be disrespectful. "I respect Grandpa a lot," Tsuna said. "I don't think he needs a suit to know that."
"Do not play this game with me. You know how a school uniform works, don't pretend to be clueless," Reborn told him. Although Tsuna didn't realize it, he had impressively managed to get on Reborn's every last nerve, driving him to give up all his usual eccentric habits.
"Do you really want to use that example?" Tsuna countered, crossing his arms. "You know Hibari's uniform isn't the actual school uniform, right? So, since I'm going to be the Hibari of the mafia world, I get to pick my own uniform."
They were still staring each other down as the Guardians and Nono gathered, each giving the pair a wide berth and taking a seat at the meeting table in the center of the room.
Finally, Nono cleared his throat. "Let's get started, shall we?" he said. "Tsunayoshi-kun, it seems only your Cloud Guardian is absent. Do you know his whereabouts?"
"Hibari's strong, so I'm sure he'll be alright," Tsuna said, pointedly missing the point.
Not in the mood to do the three minimum circular arguments necessary to corner Tsuna into actually answering, Nono just sighed and took a sip of his tea.
"He's in Barcelona, or at least he was three hours ago," Visconti said flatly. "Demolishing a Becco Family base. Can't you rein him in?"
No one bothered trying to figure out how Hibari got to Spain, considering he pointedly refused to speak any language except Japanese.
Slamming his hands down onto the table, Hayato leaped to his feet. "Those Becco trash shouldn't have tried to strongarm Juudaime into granting them more territory!" he declared, referring to the Becco Family's rather ill thought out visit. "Or complained about our allies!"
"Listen here, you runt," Coyote shot back just as heatedly, "beatdowns of entire branches are not an appropriate response! And neither are poison cookies! Don't think we don't know what happened to Marcurio Family's delegation!"
"If they can't check for poison, they don't deserve to call themselves mafiosi!" Hayato snapped back.
"It's all too lenient," Mukuro put in. "We should just kill them. How do you expect them to respect you, if you tiptoe around every upstart with a complaint?"
Several of Nono's Guardians looked ready to say something about the known mass murderer giving them advice, but Tsuna spoke up first. "No," he said, "Hibari-san really shouldn't be doing that." Before the adults could sigh in relief, Tsuna went on. "I'll have a talk with him about it. If the Becco have a problem with the Tomaso, Naito can handle it himself. He said there's a couple new models they want to test out anyway."
It sounded like someone choked on their tongue.
"You know, I don't think you ever told us. How do you guys even know the Tomaso?" the youngest of Nono's Guardians, Nie Jr, asked lazily.
"It's through a friend's friend," Tsuna said. "Naito's a really friendly person."
"I think Hibari's just bored, you know?" Takeshi suggested, laughing. "We should find something for him to do."
"I'm bored to the extreme too," Ryohei added. "Training is good, but a man needs a challenge too! I tried sparring with that peacock guy, but more opponents would be even better!"
"Maybe we should have a tournament," Takeshi said.
It was a terrible idea. Naturally, they did it.
(Fortunately, Tsuna at least convinced them to make it a sports competition and not an actual fighting tournament. Putting these people in rings with the express purpose of fighting could only end badly. Not... that dodgeball was going to go any better, and baseball practically became a bloodsport. But at least he tried.)
Pretty much every famiglia Tsuna suggested it to laughed in his face. Tsuna smiled blandly.
"I guess it's a pretty crazy suggestion," he said understandingly. "I wouldn't agree to compete against Hibari-san either."
That made them fall silent very quickly, glaring.
"And Takeshi and Onii-san are both really strong too," Tsuna went on. "It wouldn't really be fair, since they're aiming to become professional sportsmen. I don't think I could beat them either."
Then, it was just a matter of naming the time and place.
"You realize they're all going to cheat, right?" Reborn pointed out, in the midst of the chaos that was arranging the entire event. If nothing else, Tsuna was definitely impressed by how quickly Vongola crews could throw together a stadium, a track, a tennis court... It helped that Mafia Land, the location chosen, already had some sports-based recreational facilities.
"Well, they'll try," Tsuna agreed. "Hibari-san hates cheating, you know. And for anyone who gets past him... I guess it's good practice. They don't cheat at just sports, right?"
Reborn conceded that. "Just so we're clear," he added, cocking his gun, "losing won't be allowed. For Vongola's image, you're going to win."
"I figured," Tsuna sighed.
Then, he shrugged. Frankly, he couldn't see Ryohei or Takeshi losing. Or Mukuro — who could doubtlessly cheat enough for the entire Vongola team.
Needless to say, the first inter-family sports event was the dirtiest, most foul-filled competition ever witnessed.
Through some arcane means, Reborn took over as referee and proceeded to call fouls completely at random. Nearly the entirety of Mafia Land was triple layered with mines. A quarter of all balls were replaced with lead replicas, another quarter were filled with hidden spikes. Approximately three hundred gallons of grease were used, collectively. Many, many things caught fire.
Two entire teams and maybe twenty other players ended up dropping out due to poisoning. At least three competitors turned out to be robots, five were imposters, and another six were mind controlled by Mukuro. Two were gorillas. Seven world records were broken, and perhaps another half dozen laws of physics. Hibari was everywhere at once, almost as if he'd managed to clone himself. (He might have, honestly. His Flame training had progressed by leaps and bounds; Visconti, the Ninth Cloud Guardian, quietly took to drinking "tea" with Nono.)
Needless to say, Vongola still won somehow.
"That was great!" Takeshi declared, laughing. He was also bleeding in several places, but that didn't seem to deter him at all.
"EXTREEEEEEEME!" Ryohei roared like a conquering barbarian. There was a pile of conquered opponents nearby, even.
Some truly unsettling cackling was coming from a man Tsuna didn't recognize but knew was Mukuro doing his possession thing again. He had no idea where Hayato, Lambo, Hibari and Chrome were... and he didn't particularly want to know.
Taking a deep breath, Tsuna just smiled. "That went well," he decided. "We should do that again sometime."
In the distance, something exploded.
It became a yearly tradition. The mafia Olympics, as it were. (No one even noticed when Tsuna made it a charity event.)
The beginning of a new era of cooperation and civilized backstabbing.
Of course, not everyone was happy with that.
(More accurately, absolutely no one was happy, but Tsuna had gotten that far by ignoring Nono's steady descent into alcoholism, and he wasn't about to change his methods now.)
Not even a week later, a certain someone appeared in Tsuna's new office. Looking up from the convoluted report he had been trying to puzzle out as part of his training, Tsuna stared in shock — and dread, definitely dread.
Because Kyoko was somehow standing in front of him, and she was smiling in a way that sent cold shivers down his spine.
"Hi, Tsuna-kun! I came to visit!" Kyoko said brightly.
Lambo, cowering in the doorway behind her, made some kind of arcane gestures very frantically. At least that explained how she'd gotten through the mansion security, but...
"All the way from Japan?" Tsuna said, ignoring whatever message Lambo was trying to convey. Well, he had a pretty good idea of what the deal was anyway. This was certainly new, and somewhat unsettling, but... still not the weirdest thing.
"Irie-kun helped me arrange it," she explained. "We heard from Spanner and Naito-kun about your big tournament. It's not very nice to leave us out, Tsuna-kun! We would've wanted to come too!" Taking a step closer, she peered into his eyes. "Are you going to abandon us now that we aren't any use to you?"
"Uh, no," Tsuna said. Having been sitting on top of his desk, since the chair was big enough to swallow him whole, he considered which direction best to slide in — back, to put the desk between them, or forward, to get closer? "And also... you probably shouldn't say stuff like that if you want me to really think you're Kyoko."
In the doorway, Lambo shot him a thumbs up and ducked out of sight.
'Kyoko's' eyes widened for a moment, then narrowed consideringly. "Kufufu, so you've already awakened it that much," not-Kyoko said. "Your Hyper Intuition... well, at least the base materials will be useful, even if the personality is a complete write-off."
But "she" didn't attack, so Tsuna just sighed and said, "Would you like some tea?"
"It would be a pleasure," not-Kyoko said.
Tsuna's eyebrow twitched a little as he moved to get the cups. Not even a bit of hesitation or surprise — this opponent was a tough one!
Tsuna and not-Kyoko regarded each other coolly over the rims of their cups. They took a sip almost simultaneously, like cowboys cocking their guns in a standoff. "By the way, I'm Sawada Tsunayoshi, Tsuna for short," Tsuna introduced himself. "As you probably know, I'm the current candidate for Vongola Decimo. And you?"
"Daemon Spade," not-Kyoko introduced her — him? — self. "The Mist Guardian to Vongola Primo and Secondo."
"To two bosses? That's very impressive!" Tsuna said. 'Oh, it's that guy. Wow, that's really bad,' he thought, mentally making a face. 'Isn't he supposed to be like Mukuro, but obsessed with being the strongest in the mafia?'
At least, that was what Lambo said. He'd unwisely declared how surprised he was that the succession ceremony went so "smoothly" and got grilled as a result. A lot of Lambo's early memories were rather hazy, and by the time he was old enough to remember things clearly, the landscape of the mafia world was nigh-unrecognizable.
But the "obsessed ghost dude with the dead girlfriend" had apparently stood out, if only because Daemon was so much like Mukuro, right down to their creepy laughs.
'Didn't he possess Chrome last time? Why did he have to go for Kyoko now?' Tsuna moaned internally. '...Sorry, Nagi.'
For some reason, Daemon's eyebrow twitched at Tsuna's innocent comment. "Yes, I've been with Vongola for a very long time," Daemon said, his smile carrying a distinct edge. "I dedicated my life to it... and more. That is why I must be certain that you are worthy of carrying on the Vongola legacy."
"The ring accepted me, and the spirits of past bosses inside it, too," Tsuna pointed out. He smiled ruefully. "I guess at this point, that's all the credentials I can give."
"That alone is insufficient," Daemon said coldly. "I will have your measure, Decimo — through trial by fire, if need be."
Tsuna nodded slowly and took another sip of his tea. He had an idea, but... This was going to go very badly, or he'd have the best opening he could hope for. There was no inbetween.
"So," Tsuna said, setting down his teacup and tugging at his gloves, "you're going to use Kyoko-chan to see if I flip out like you did when my girlfriend dies?"
There was a moment of profound silence. That had been truly and completely below the belt — but Tsuna was in charge of a mafia family now, at least temporarily, so all's fair and all that. Taking advantage of the single, solitary moment before Daemon's inevitable, brutal retaliation, Tsuna reached across the coffee table and clapped his hands down onto Kyoko's shoulders.
The tasers activated on contact. not-Kyoko, or maybe Kyoko, gave a short scream, before tipping over soundlessly, knocked unconscious.
"Sorry, Kyoko-chan," Tsuna said. He waited for a moment, then slowly raised an eyebrow. Daemon was sure taking his time coming out and wreaking vengeance upon Tsuna.
Could it possibly be... that tasers worked on ghosts too?
Tsuna was still pondering this when Lambo returned with Mukuro — and Reborn, who had apparently sensed something up and come to spectate. "Hey, Mukuro," Tsuna said, waving to him without looking away from Kyoko's prone body, "if you get tased when you're possessing someone, what happens to you?"
"I can't say I've had that experience, Tsunayoshi-kun," Mukuro replied slowly. "But I expect I would also get tased and pass out."
"Uh-huh. And then how would we go about getting you out of the person you're possessing?" Tsuna asked.
It took an inordinately long time for Mukuro to answer, long enough for even Tsuna to notice and finally turn to look at him.
Finally, Mukuro sighed and admitted with great annoyance, "I'd already be out. It takes concentration to maintain possession."
"Huh," Tsuna said. Mukuro had been thinking about his own abilities and giving away his weaknesses, but Tsuna only turned back to Kyoko's prone form. Lifting her up carefully, he gave her a tentative shake, then another.
A see-through form tumbled out. It was Daemon Spade, in all his ghostly glory, unconscious on Tsuna's visitor couch. Tsuna, Mukuro, Reborn and Lambo all stared with varying degrees of deadpan disbelief.
"Okay, but what do we do now?" Lambo asked. "Do... do we know an exorcist?"
Tsuna looked at Mukuro, who opened his mouth — about to suggest that they just kill Daemon, only to stop when he realized that was not actually a viable option. As a last-ditch longshot, Tsuna turned to Reborn, but even the world's greatest hitman only shrugged.
"I'm... going to take Kyoko-chan to the infirmary," Tsuna said, sighing. "Watch him, I guess?"
Daemon was awake when Tsuna returned, and very angry. His smile was particularly poisonous, but there was something almost like grudging respect there. Mukuro, on the other hand, just looked furious, while Lambo had wisely made himself scarce.
"You're more ruthless than I expected, Decimo," Daemon greeted. "That will serve you well."
In the corner, Mukuro snickered angrily and muttered something about the filthy mafia always being like that.
"You sure have a lot of expectations about me, even though we've never met before," Tsuna said flatly.
"You certainly know quite a bit about me, despite joining the mafia less than a year ago," Daemon shot back.
"So I'm better informed than you expected?" Tsuna suggested, raising his eyebrows.
He was definitely going to get murdered at this rate, but Daemon seemed to think Tsuna was trying to provoke him into a trap again and held himself back with an effort of will.
"I will admit you're more suitable than I... anticipated," Daemon said, through gritted teeth and a smile that was more like a grimace. "But I will not allow you to follow the foolish path you're set on. Oh yes, I know all about your ambition — to reform Vongola. And all about your little vigilante friends too! You certainly bear a strong resemblance, in all the most disgusting ways! That terrible personality! Those ridiculous do-gooder tendencies! You are just like—"
Cutting himself off mid-rant, Daemon pursed his lips angrily and picked up his still half-full teacup. The tea was long since cold and disgusting, and Tsuna was momentarily distracted by the fact that Daemon could drink it at all, or hold a cup for that matter.
Ghosts sure were mysterious. Too bad Hayato was missing out on this, Shouichi too. But they'd probably freak out, and Tsuna was internally freaking out enough for everyone. It was just buried under a whole lots of "not this weird mafia shit again."
"Well," Tsuna said, "I did punch him, if that makes you feel better. Primo, I mean."
"Oh?" Daemon said.
"In the ring's trial," Tsuna confirmed. "He definitely deserved it, for being so irresponsible."
"Absolutely," Daemon snorted. "No sense of responsibility in that man. He was always going off and getting himself into all these messes! And we had to bail him out! Vongola too! Vongola was... another mess that he left behind." He glared balefully at Tsuna. "And you are all set to repeat his mistakes and turn it into another fine mess. Mark my words, Decimo. All you'll accomplish is getting your friends killed. Stop this foolishness now, for your own good."
"I worry about that too," Tsuna admitted pensively. "But... you tried it the other way, right? And it doesn't seem like you did all that well with protecting your friends that way either."
"I wasn't trying to protect them," Daemon gritted out, fully realizing what Tsuna was getting at. "I was trying to protect Vongola! And I did."
He'd protected -a- Vongola of some sort, in name only, but Tsuna wasn't really interested in having that argument. "Well, I want to protect my friends," Tsuna said. "And they want to be vigilantes, apparently. So that's what's going to happen."
In the background, Mukuro made a cut-off, choking noise, since he, for one, had no interest in being a vigilante.
"You'll fail and ruin Vongola," Daemon pronounced.
"No, I won't," Tsuna said, crossing his arms. Mentally, he added, 'It's pretty ruined already, so I don't think I can make it worse.' He didn't cross his fingers behind his back, but the principle was the same.
"You will," Daemon insisted.
"Will not," Tsuna shot back.
"Will too—" Realizing what he was doing, Daemon cut himself off and narrowed his eyes. "I see no reason to take that chance," he said instead.
"If you want to fight it out, we can do that too," Tsuna said. "But it'd be nice if we didn't have to."
Daemon stared at him for a moment, then sighed in annoyance. "You really are just like him," he muttered. "I'll be watching you, Decimo."
And with that ominous pronouncement, he vanished from sight.
"How nice," Mukuro said dryly, breaking the silence. "You can't even be rid of these filthy mafiosi when they die."
"I know, right?" Tsuna agreed. Turning to Reborn, he scowled and said sarcastically, "Thanks a lot for the help. What are you even here for?"
"I wonder that too," Reborn muttered under his breath. This kid was putting him out of a job. It was infuriating.
So Reborn kicked Tsuna in the head because he could.
"Just for that, I'm doubling your training," he said vindictively.
After the fifth time Nono sighed, Tsuna couldn't keep himself from rolling his eyes.
"Is something the matter, Grandpa?" Tsuna asked mildly. "Are you feeling alright? I can call for the med staff."
Nono smiled at all the things Tsuna managed to imply with a few diplomatic-sounding sentences - Why are you bothering me? It better be good. You old man.
"It's nothing like that," Nono assured him. He hesitated for a moment, looking down into his teacup with a sad smile. "It's just... today is the anniversary. It's been eight years since the Varia's attempted coup..."
"The Varia," Tsuna repeated. He made a face, remembering the long haired young man who had glared murderously at him all through the succession ceremony.
"That was the substitute leader, Squalo," Nono explained. "The real leader..."
Tsuna gave in to the urge to facepalm once he heard the full story. Wasn't there a limit to miscommunication and bad parenting? Still, there was only one thing to do.
"Urgh, another filthy mafioso," Mukuro complained, as the seven of them gathered in front of giant piece of ice.
"Are you sure about this?" Takeshi wondered
"We're going to have to unfreeze him at some point," Tsuna said, sighing. Honestly, why were these people so problematic? "Or what do you suggest? We wait two years to make it a round decade?" At the thoughtful silence that followed, he glared. "We're not waiting two years."
"But, Juudamie! What if he challenges you?" Hayato fussed.
"Then I guess Reborn's stupid training will come in handy," Tsuna said.
A tiny foot planted itself in the back of his skull. "My training is not stupid, Dame-Tsuna," Reborn said.
"How do you even know about that nickname?" Tsuna grumbled.
"I know everything," Reborn lied blatantly.
Frankly, Tsuna wasn't too excited to deal with Nono's estranged adopted son who had dragged Vongola into a nearly successful civil war and coup in an attempt to obtain Tsuna's current position. So Tsuna defaulted to his usual standby.
Maybe if he just pretended Xanxus didn't exist, he'd never have to deal with him?
It... didn't work out like that, unfortunately.
Xanxus woke up a week after getting unfrozen, and his first action was to storm out of the infirmary and into Tsuna's office. He introduced himself by kicking down the door and opening fire blindly.
The walls, the windows, the bookcases, the expensive art pieces, and the back of the exceptionally well-cushioned chair were all reduced to a perforated mess in moments. Tsuna, who had been sitting in the middle of the floor to begin with, an entire carpet of paperwork spread out around him, looked up at him with a blank expression.
The only sound was Xanxus's heavy breathing as the red cleared from his vision and he took in the state of the room — and the unharmed state of his apparent target. They stared at each other in silence for several long moments.
(It was a testament to the kind of place Vongola was that no one bothered to check on the rapid-fire gunshots. It was a testament to the three ring circus Tsuna's life had become that he honestly wasn't even too impressed by the shooting.)
"Well," Tsuna said finally, "I didn't like that vase anyway. Or that chair."
Xanxus looked ready to shoot him for real, but fortunately that was the point when his still-recovering body finally gave out and he collapsed, unconscious.
"Voooi! You shitty boss! What were you thinking, trying to shoot the Decimo?" Squalo demanded, first thing when Xanxus woke up again.
"Decimo? That pipsqueak?" Xanxus muttered, still groggy. "How the hell...?"
"Damned if I know," Squalo grumbled. "Apparently he's Vongola Primo's descendant, through some other line. The way all the old farts in the mafia are going on, you'd think he's Primo's illegitimate kid... or a clone. When he stands next to the old paintings, you can barely tell them apart."
Xanxus grunted. "Don't you have anything better to do than gossiping? What are you, a fish wife?" Even though it grated on him, he was more careful this time, sitting up slowly. "And get me something to drink!" he snapped.
Sighing gustily and probably wondering why he had ever missed this ungrateful brat, Squalo passed him an expensive-looking bottle of some amber liquid. Xanxus snatched it up impatiently, ripping off the wax seal and the cork with his teeth, and took a long gulp.
And promptly spit it out like a fountain, straight into Squalo's face.
"Guh! What the hell is this?!" Xanxus cursed, glaring at the label — a high-quality cognac.
Slowly wiping down his face, Squalo licked up a drop. "It tastes like... tea?" he muttered.
Every single bottle of alcohol in the entire mansion had somehow been replaced with tea. Sealed, unsealed, in the rooms or in the cellar, it didn't matter. It was all tea.
Just tea. Not poison, or anything like that. Just plain tea.
"How did they even do it?" Squalo wondered.
"I'll kill him," Xanxus decided. "It was that brat Decimo, and I'm going to kill him."
This proved easier said than done, as Tsuna had skipped town. Or, that's what Xanxus called it. In actuality, Tsuna had taken a completely authorized trip to the German branch. Xanxus, on the other hand, was restricted from even certain parts of the mansion and was absolutely not cleared to leave.
The last straw was when Squalo brought him a new bottle of whiskey from town. It still tasted exactly like oolong tea.
"Old man!" Xanxus roared, kicking down the door to Nono's office. "I'm taking the jet, and I'm going to kill that brat!"
Nono studied him for a moment — then, deciding he couldn't deal with this sober, reached over for the decanter to pour some more brandy into his tea.
"Don't ignore me, you shriveled old trash," Xanxus hissed. "What's even the point of adding more tea into your tea?"
"I'm not sure what you mean," Nono admitted, stirring the near-100 proof tea.
"It's... all the alcohol, it tastes like..." Xanxus trailed off, staring at him suspiciously. But Nono had never been the practical joke type, despite Xanxus's many, many issues with him. Striding over, Xanxus snatched up the decanter and took a gulp.
It burned. It was heaven. Actual, real alcohol after days of forced sobriety.
It felt nearly like a religious experience. Xanxus couldn't even be mad about the old man keeping the good stuff for himself. Dropping into the visitor's chair across from Nono, Xanxus took another long drink and sighed in satisfaction.
(Outside the office and unnoticed by anyone, Chrome pondered the parameters of her latest training assignment. Mukuro had told her to change the sense of taste of everyone in the mansion to perceive alcohol as tea, but Tsuna had added an exception — Nono's private stash. He had been afraid that the old man would snap without even a bit of brandy to dull the pain of dealing with the Tenth Generation. But had Tsuna anticipated that someone else might drink it too...?)
"I hate that kid," Xanxus muttered. "I can't believe you're leaving Vongola to him. ...He's a nasty piece of work though, I'll give him that. Some things should be sacred."
Timoteo chuckled, watching Xanxus stretch out and prop his feet up on the expensive, heavy wood desk. "I believe he has a very different idea of what is sacred," he said. "It will become a problem — that his views are so different from the mafia's. But it will also be a strength. It may be just what Vongola needs."
Xanxus snorted, unconvinced. Still, letting Nono's brandy swirl around in the crystal bottle, he considered the situation and smirked. "Going to be fun to watch," he admitted. "The whole mafia's going to crash and burn." One way or another, it was inevitable now. He snickered, feeling a certain sadistic satisfaction from that.
There was no denying that, and Nono only took another long drink of his tea.
At the very least, he consoled himself, Lambo said that Vongola would make it through, in some form. For everything else... well, it was on Tsuna's head now.
Ten years later
Lambo suddenly sat bolt upright from where he had been sprawled over the couch, lazily eating the grapes the robot maids (Naito's sweet sixteen present to Tsuna, after much nagging about finding peaceful uses for Spanner's creations; never mind that each robot maid had more firepower than a conventional tank) were feeding him.
"Oh shit," he said.
"Language, Lambo," Tsuna scolded absentmindedly, still engrossed in a report from their German branch. He couldn't help sighing a little. True, after a while, everyone learned to couch all their reports in terms of "I was fighting to protect ..." - but "my macho pride" was not a worthwhile object of protection.
...Not that Mukuro's rambling report about setting a traveling circus on fire to protect "the rights of owls everywhere" wasn't any better. Tsuna wasn't sure whether Mukuro had been still drunk when he wrote it, or if he'd been hungover the morning after and decided to make Tsuna suffer with him instead.
"I forgot about Byakuran," Lambo continued, in a stunned, horrified tone.
Tsuna looked up. "...What," he said flatly.