A/N: I'm using the term 'Odd-job' very loosely. Tsuna will go through plenty, but not all of them are temporary. There will be plenty of OOCness and some OCs for story development. I have absolutely no idea where this story is going. Really. No idea. Let's see how long I can do this for, shall we?
WARNING: I do intend to, as the author, fully abuse my right to put whichever romantic implications I feel like into this story. SO THERE MAY BE HINTS OF BOYxBOY, even though they're kids. Please do not read this if you do not like it. That being said, I don't intend for anything to happen. I hope.
Disclaimer: KHR and all its associated characters don't belong to me. Not even the OCs do (aside from Alaire); they're based loosely on characters from other anime. Only the idea behind this story does.
It started when he was seven.
Now, Sawada Tsunayoshi wasn't the most active and wilful child, in fact, his bullies had almost beaten all of that out of him. Note, almost.
He'd recently learned that money was a necessity in living a relatively comfortable life. It was something his bullies aimed for, or at least used as an excuse to aim for, and it apparently was what paid for the roof above their heads and the food they ate every day.
It was also something you had to work for.
Tsuna might not be the brightest child but he knew his mother didn't work. His sweet mother mostly helped other people, volunteering for fairs or joining community groups. So when he asked, looking up with wide innocent eyes, he probably should have expected the answer he got.
"Your papa provides everything for us!" Nana declared, sighing dreamily at the thought of her husband.
Little Tsuna's eyebrows scrunched up as if he'd swallowed something bad. He wasn't as fanciful, just the opposite. He could barely recall the blond man who must have visited 2...3 years ago?
He certainly held no attachment to that man.
'So if I make more money than him, we can stop depending on him.' He thought to himself, leaving his mother to giggle at her own day dreams as he headed upstairs to his room.
And so that was how he decided to get a job.
It wasn't like he hated Iemitsu; after all, he barely knew the man. It was just his ingrained manners leaking through with the thought that he really didn't want to be indebted to a, well, stranger.
His first job was almost hilariously simplistic; his future self would have definitely attested to that fact. But for a seven year old child whom had whimsically decided to get a job, it was a daunting task.
"Ya want a job, kid?"
Tsuna nodded mutely, eyes wide as he stared at the bulky bald man with a goatee who had introduced himself as Brown-san. The man was very huge; made up of hard muscle that stretched his shirt taught that not even the cashier's apron could cover up.
"Okay, here." A trolley is placed next to the boy, the handle taller than him. Next, a bulk of newspapers is dumped inside, making the wheels squeak in protest. "One to each mail box in Namimori, got that?"
Tsuna squeaked at the gruff tone and nodded quickly. He grabbed the handle, dragging the heavy trolley as fast as he could, anything to get out of that scary place that smelled of smoke.
Needless to say, it took almost all day to deliver the papers all over Namimori. Several moments he'd lost track of the trolley as it rolled downhill, almost dragging him along. And in some instances, actually dragging him along screaming as he clutched onto the handle for dear life. He'd also been enlightened to the fact that dogs liked to chase fast things. Tsuna shuddered.
He'd learned that there was no point in dragging the trolley into small side roads and a complete waste of effort especially if it was on a hill after the first... dozen times he tried it. Instead, he counted the houses and took the appropriate number of papers with him in his small arms, leaving the trolley at the corner until he returned.
Returning with no less scratches and bruises than he would have had he gone to school, he was too tired to even muster up the strength to be scared of the gruff man. He barely registered a large hand patting him on the head or how he got home and safely in his bed.
'Never again...' Was his only thought as he collapsed onto his covers and into the blissful confines of sleep, clutching tightly to the envelope in his hands.
He was back the next day, blushing fitfully and glancing at the gruff man through his bangs as he took the trolley laden with newspapers. He bowed and scurried out before he could embarrass himself further.
He wasn't sure exactly why he was subjecting himself to this torture, it could have been his feeling of accomplishment -his first time ever feeling such an emotion!- as he woke that morning to find his paycheck in his hands, a decent amount that could possibly pay for several lunches in a week if need be. Or it could have been the note that was also inside the envelope:
Tsuna did not recall ever receiving praise from someone aside from his mother and he'd stared at the note as it were the most alien thing in the world before it finally dawned on him.
He was being thanked.
Sure, it was a common thing to say to someone working but Tsuna had never received thanks for anything he'd done outside his home before; he'd always always been blamed in one way or another for messing up even though he'd tried his best. That was why he was Dame-Tsuna to the rest of his school after all.
Giddy with an emotion he'd never felt before his hugged the envelope and almost squealed with glee before dashing out of the house for his job.
The pattern continued throughout the summer holidays. Tsuna went to deliver papers every week day all over Namimori, returning battered and exhausted and with a paycheck clutched in his hands, the same gratifying words written on them each time that made him smile and feel warm despite the exhaustion.
Tsuna was glad for the hat that covered his conspicuous hair and blocked the sun's harsh rays and the fingerless leather gloves Brown-san had surreptitiously handed to him one night after discovering the blisters he'd gotten from dragging the cart around. They also made a suitable disguise for his school bullies and any gossiping mothers.
The hat he'd gotten from the strange man who owned the antique shop at the market place. He usually went there first, around 8 in the morning when less people were around and the stores were just beginning to open. Most people either ignored him, because he was just the paper delivery boy, or greeted him with a smile to which he would duck his head shyly. That man had actually talked to him, almost making him drop the newspaper he'd been sliding into the rather odd looking mailbox.
"You're working hard, but the sun is quite strong in the middle of the day, don't you think?"
Tsuna turned wide-eyed and shy as he took in the green yukata, white hair cropped at the chin, and the round glasses sitting upon the man's nose. He got a strange feeling from the man but nothing alarming.
The man crouched to his height, and plopped something over his head, obscuring Tsuna's view for a brief moment. "You can call me Kawahira, Tsunayoshi-kun." By the time Tsuna had lifted the newsboy cap, the man had already disappeared, leaving the boy to flail about in classic Tsuna panic mode over taking things without reason, until he spotted a bunch of boys from his class heading his way and he quickly pulled on the cap. They sidled past without so much as a glance sent his way.
The cap stayed with him and Tsuna swore it had some magical property or something because not a single bully had bothered him even though he made rounds to all the houses almost every day and had even made contact with some of them. All he got was a bored glance as their mothers cooed over how such a young boy was working already. Strangely, though Tsuna was sure some of those mothers should have recognised him as his mother's son, none of them even noticed, some even asking for his name to which he flushed, bowed politely, and made vague motions of continuing his job.
The job also allowed him to explore Namimori and learn all the land marks. He hadn't known there was a shrine up the tallest hill that had the best view over the town. Though he'd never seen anyone up there, the newspaper he slipped into the stone with a hole in the centre was always gone the next day. He hadn't known where so many of his classmates and teachers lived before, like Yamamoto Takeshi lived at the sushi store where the owner always offered a cheerful grin to Tsuna and thanked him for the paper, sometimes even offering a roll of sushi to the boy. He also, of course, took note of where the dogs with the loudest barks waited, always dashing up and shoving the paper in before running away, sometimes screaming and almost always tripping over his own feet.
It wasn't until nearly the end of the holidays that Tsuna realised that he was returning to the small store Brown-san owned earlier and earlier each day. He was also returning less exhausted, his body, unknown to him, getting used to the exercise and running he was doing. The gruff man had all sorts of cluttered material in his store but from what Tsuna could see, he mostly sold cigarettes, newspapers and magazines to the locals.
"Kid," the man addressed one day.
Tsuna, who was pushing the empty trolley back inside, looked behind him with questioning eyes.
"Ya've got school soon, right?"
Tsuna stilled and then nodded slowly. School was starting in little less than a week, he had long since given up on his summer homework since he didn't understand most of it and knew he'd be in trouble as soon as he got back. He knew he had to go, but he didn't really want to give up this job either, exhausting as it was.
But Tsuna also knew it wasn't possible to do both things at once.
Or so he'd resigned himself to until he heard a clatter.
Tsuna looked up and blinked at the bike in front of him, there was a basket at the front which also held a messenger bag. He dare not think it was for him. But the ridiculous image of the very large and muscular Brown-san riding the child-sized bike not only made him want to giggle, but let him know that it really was for him. Tsuna stared up with his wide brown eyes full of a child-like eagerness he hadn't displayed since starting school two years ago.
"Ya'd have to return to restock a few times but you should be able to finish it in the mornin's."
Tsuna felt himself grin and before he could stop himself, he found himself hugging the man. He felt too happy to be embarrassed and the large hand that hesitatingly rubbed his back only made him all the more elated.
And so that was his first stable paying job. Of course, learning to wake up ridiculously early just to deliver papers had been hard at first; Tsuna was definitely not a morning person, but his body eventually got used to it if only because he didn't want to disappoint Brown-san.
His next job, no matter how impromptu, kinda just roped him in. Tsuna had certainly not been looking for another job. Between school, bullies and newspaper delivering, every day was exhausting.
He'd been riding his bike through the rain, his messenger bag and raincoat flapping in the wind when he'd stopped in front of an ordinary house, pausing only long enough to slip the plastic covered newspaper into the slot. He was about to speed up when someone grabbed him.
Tsuna, the person clutched around his waist and his bike all toppled over onto the wet ground. Tsuna groaned and sat up to stare at the red mop of hair on his chest. The other's head lifted and Tsuna realised it was a boy about his age with green eyes and skewed glasses.
The other child straightened his glasses and promptly turned red in embarrassment and started clutching his stomach. "S-sorry!" He stuttered. "I-I u-um-"
Tsuna, more concerned that the other was okay, quickly gave the other a look over, and sighed in relief at seeing no injuries. He also turned red as he shook his head. "I-its okay, y-you wanted something, right? His voice was soft, almost unheard over the sound of rain. He wasn't used to talking to others, especially children around his age.
"Ah! Y-yeah! I was wondering if I could um, find where you got that?" The red head pointed at the bike shakily.
Tsuna blinked in surprise. "You want to know where I got my bike?"
The other child turned red once again and shook his head. "I-I want to know where I can get the gear," he said, indicating the piece that was part of the bike's wheel. "It's has just the right pitch angle and teeth number I need as part of my project."
Tsuna stared and stared some more as the other started turning more red in embarrassment. Then he giggled, deciding that this person wouldn't hurt him. "I think I can take you where you need to go, um..."
Tsuna smiled gently, not realising how he made the other stare at him. "Call me Tsuna, Irie-"
"Shōichi," the red head butt in uncharacteristically, he turned several shades darker than his hair as he squirmed uncomfortably on the wet concrete path. "U-um, since I get to call you by your first name."
Tsuna blushed too and nodded in acquiescence. He dragged the bike back up and put the scattered rolls of newspapers back into the basket with Shōichi's help. Then he managed to convince the other boy to climb on behind him as he went for the rest of his rounds and returned to the store.
Shōichi, the poor seven year old, was intimidated, to say the least, when he met Brown-san. He couldn't help staring at Tsuna in awe as the boy trudged in casually past the imposing man, pulling the bike with him and even tracking water all over the ground. Of course, Tsuna had already amazed the young inventor with his almost reckless bike riding. Shōichi was sure he'd never seen someone shove papers into mails boxes so fast, he supposed he should have been grateful that the other had even stopped at his house. He'd also heard some muttering about 'being late' and 'biting' but wasn't sure if he heard right through the rain.
Then he saw the inside of the shop.
Of course, the smell assaulted him first, of cigarette smoke and just below that was the scent of metal and oils and grease. Then, past the racks of magazines and newspapers was a narrow hall whose walls were absolutely covered from floor to ceiling with shelves containing parts; from screws and bolts to pistons and fans and well, it was an inventor's dreamland.
Tsuna watched with some degrees of amusement at Shōichi-kun's flabbergasted expression before he turned to Brown-san. "He said something about wanting a gear on my bike."
The man patted the brunet on the head and put a hand on the red head's shoulder. Shōichi jumped, a scared expression crossing his face again.
"Take whatever ya want, I got no use for all this junk."
The scared look retreated back into a stunned one. 'J-junk?!' He almost spluttered out loud. Tsuna couldn't help smiling as he grasped the red head's hand and led the way in. Truthfully, even he hadn't wondered this far back, seeing all the cluttered material as, well, junk.
He wasn't going to tell Shōichi that though.
The red head was still perusing, gasping and chattering to Tsuna enthusiastically about all this or that metal thing could do, doing a complete turnaround from his original shy personality. Tsuna couldn't help smiling as he drunk the hot cocoa Brown-san had given them. He hadn't ever gotten a chance to talk to people his age before, at least not without some threat involved, and though he had no clue what the other was saying, he was glad that the red head didn't seem to think he was too 'dame' to hang around.
Lost in this bliss, he didn't realise how much time had passed until he glanced at the clock and choked on his cocoa.
"HIIEEE! I'M LATE! HIBARI-SAN'SGOINGTOBITEMETODEATH! BYEBROWN-SANSHŌICHI-KUN...!" Tsuna's voice echoed in the store as he promptly dashed out.
Of course his second job didn't have anything to do with being bit to death by Hibari again. It was more related to becoming Shōichi's friend, though Tsuna took an embarrassingly long time to realise that he'd made a friend and it involved an even more embarrassing episode of hugging the red head in broad daylight in the middle of the road before having to dash after the bike he'd forgotten as it started rolling downhill.
Oh how he detested hills.
"And who is this?"
Tsuna quailed under the dangerous violet gaze on him. Though this boy was only a few years older, the brunet felt wary of him.
"U-um, t-this is Tsuna," Shōichi stuttered, clutching his stomach as he often did when he felt stressed and uncomfortable. "H-he's u-um, here as my stylist."
Tsuna tried not to give his friend an incredulous stare.
"Oh really? Hmmm..." Tsuna did not feel any more comfortable to see the violet eyes close in a foxy smile. In fact he feared for himself and his friend.
He almost regretted caving to the red head's request to accompanying him to the Tokyo Junior Inventor's competition finalists. Of course, he had no doubts that Shōichi-kun's original design of a bike that auto-folded into a neat size of a portable laptop at the press of a button would win. It was a lot more complicated and far more impressive than the simplistic models of robots and machines he'd seen so far, and it helped Tsuna with his deliveries. He would make no mention of the test runs though, he still had some healing wounds from those.
Wondering around while everything was still being prepared, the two had bumped into the older white haired boy in front of them named Byakuran.
"Why don't you choose my outfit for today too?"
Tsuna's attention came back to the present and he did a double take. 'What?!' Then he looked up into that sly face and felt that even if he denied having such an occupation he would still be forced to do the task. Don't ask how, he just knew.
At least Shōichi tried to save him.
"U-um, Byakuran-san, wait! Tsuna-san's not-"
"Hmm? He's not what, Shō-chan~?" The red head trembled under the sharp amused gaze directed at him. Technically, only the junior inventors and their family were allowed here. Shōichi's parents had been too busy and so he'd begged his friend to come to the first competition he'd ever entered for emotional support. Now he wasn't sure. It wasn't his intention to get his friend in trouble.
Tsuna stepped up, feeling a wave a protectiveness over Shōichi as he stepped forward, catching the other boy's attention and meeting his sharp gaze with his own uncharacteristically stable one.
"I'll do it, Byakuran-san. Shall we go to the change rooms?"
Inside, Tsuna was asking himself what the hell he was doing.
Later, Tsuna was just glad they didn't look bad as he crouched behind stage, hugging his knees as the adrenaline wore off. He really had no idea what he was doing the entire time as he took out an assortment of clothes for Byakuran and Shōichi to wear from those supplied. Hell, he couldn't even choose his own clothes, opting for the casual hoodie and pants.
He figured that since Byakuran was sharp and shrewd the white three piece suit he chose would be enough coupled with the silver-lined lavender undershirt and handkerchief to bring out the boy's unusual eyes. For Shōichi he chose dark red slacks, and a red blazer with gold lining and a white undershirt with red and gold striped tie because, well, he felt it matched his friend.
Either way, he wasn't sure whether to be relieved or annoyed that his efforts for Byakuran were wasted as the boy turned out not to be a contender, but part of the audience.
He did feel a sense of pride warm him as he watched his friend present his invention and got the final prize, and all but tackled the red head when he got off stage, trembling from nerves.
Of course he never expected any attention to be drawn to him at a convention for inventors. He'd even made sure to stay as low as possible at the after party as the young mingled, chatting about topics he had no hope of understanding. Shōichi had wondered off, swallowed by the crowd.
Then, Byakuran appeared with a, well, Tsuna had no idea what the man was but he was dressed in the most flamboyant clothing Tsuna had ever seen. He also had brightly coloured hair and grey eyes.
"This is Tsu-chan~" Byakuran introduced casually, swinging an arm around the smaller boy who hunched, tense, in response. "He chose my clothes, aren't they cool?" The older boy swung his other arm out gracefully, showing off his clothes.
"Hoh, he certainly has flair," The older man said, looking at Tsuna with what he could only describe as 'hungry' eyes. "And he is rather adorable~" the man cooed. "How would you like to work for me? I could do much with an eye like yours!"
Tsuna was pretty sure this man was what was known as a pervert and he had no desire to be involved with such a person. He was already shaking his head.
"Tsuna-san!" Shōichi burst out from the crowd and stilled at the scene in front of him.
"Oh, good timing Shō-chan!" Byakuran said with way too much glee. "Alaire-san, Tsu-chan also chose his clothes."
The man went forward, strutting, for that was exactly what he was doing, around the red head who cowered at the scrutiny. The flamboyant man nodded to himself and turned to Tsuna with too much of a determined look for Tsuna's comfort.
And that was how Tsuna ended up working for the clothes designer, Alaire. Of course there were a few compromises, such as the fact that Tsuna refused to leave Japan for Alaire's home country of France just for a job. The brunet was kind of glad that the most the flamboyant man wanted him to do was review patterns, and later, draw up a few of his own. He also wanted the brunet to add his own opinion of what clothing would suit the photos of models the man emailed to him. The work wasn't exactly strenuous, though he'd almost pulled his hair out from stress the first couple emails because he really had no clue if he was right or wrong or why his opinion even mattered.
At least the pay was good.
Tsuna found that, past the French man's flamboyant exterior, reside a man passionate about his job and the brunet even had some fun with the designing. Tsuna wasn't that bad at art, thankfully. Though he couldn't say the same for his other subjects. He also decided learning French wouldn't be a bad idea given the man's tendency to scatter foreign words throughout his emails.
Tsuna didn't find out until much much later that Alaire was one of the best designers in the world. Or that his name got famously known as Alaire's apprentice.
E/N: I have no idea what I'm doing aside from avoiding all my assignments and workload like the plague. Hahahahaha. Why did I start another story? Omg. Help.
Reviews will receive Tsuna's next paycheck. And a hysterical Tsuna as he tries to take it back.