Now I know I say sorry a lot on this fic. ALOT. This one especially so. Fuck. This was a Halloween thing meant in October but then it got too long and tedious and I lost interest and SORRY
Well its here now. Kinda.
Enjoy~~ (please don't kill me)
A Time to Dress Up, An Interesting Invitation And a ParTAY- Vindice Style
A Halloween special
Getting their human forms, even temporarily, was a cause of great celebration among the Vindice.
Who could blamed them? For centuries they had resigned themselves to their horribly deformed appearances. Centuries they could barely even look themselves in the mirror. Bandaging themselves head to toe, wearing form covering cloaks and coats whenever they stepped foot outside. Ashamed and sick every single time they looked at any sort of reflective surface, because no matter how many times they tell themselves, they could never truly feel any real pride at their mangled features. This appearance didn't reminded them of their survival, it just made them remember the bitter, charred pain and betrayal and humiliating losses they had been wronged by. And they hated it.
So when they watched in awe as, by a simple pull of a trigger, they could be, for just a few hours, be what they had been promised all those years ago by that liar Checkerface. To have the appearance that they have so long craved to see again, to gain back the face they recognized so dearly- it was no wonder they would want to show it off a bit.
But the dilemma was how? They couldn't exactly do so during work and it was a little obsolete to walk around in that appearance around Vendicare, not to mention rather wasteful. Whenever they went out to pick their adorable Tsuna up from school, those lucky guards admittedly relished and preened shamelessly under the admiring looks of the locals, the hushed compliments and blushes, milking it all that it was worth.
It had been so long since they had been considered beautiful, handsome or even attractive and it felt amazing. Thrilling in a way that hadn't been felt since they were very very young and the idea of being appealing to the general public was still a new and unbelievable concept to them.
But as fun as it was to stroll around in broad daylight, with the sun kissing their bare skin and the wind caressing their hair, they wanted a real, official celebration. Something to commemorate the day.
And with the great holiday of Halloween approaching round the corner they had realized the timing could not have been better.
Also they had just eliminated a familigia and happened, by complete chance (if purposely targeting a Mafia family with a well known winery could be considered chance), to find themselves in possession of a very substantial amount of liquor.
Tsuna was pretty psyched at the idea of a party when informed. The Vindice smirked as they watched the boy vibrating in excitement. Another major reason in itself to hold it.
"Can I plan it? Oh, please, please, pleeeaassseee?" He asked with those infamous puppy dog eyes and that sad but pityingly hopeful expression that made the whole question redundant to even answer. Bermuda of course allowed it, his excuse this time was that since the party was for the guards themselves it would make sense to appoint someone else to plan it. The excuse obviously was seen completely through though, everyone knew it was just because their boss was such a pushover whenever their fluffy favourite little boy was involved.
Not that they complained. After all what was the worst that could happen?
"You want us to what?"
The brunette giggled cheekily, eyes glinting with mischief.
"I gave you all a day to figure out what costume you wish to wear for the masquerade Halloween party and now you've written it down on a piece of paper I want you to fold it up and put it in the box so you'll get someone else's costume!" Tsuna explained between giggles. The guards stared in disbelief and some with a mild feeling of admiration. That sneaky, sneaky little brat.
The Vindice found themselves quite taken to the masquerade mix-up-dress-up idea very quickly however. They rather liked the whole scheme where their costumes will be a secret twice over to the others. Not much could surprise the undead guards and they delighted in the rare feeling. Truly they had taught their boy well.
Each one began dropping their folded papers into the box, a few muttering some half-hearted grumbles, though teasingly, as they did so. Despite the change of plans they were if not flexible. Plus it seemed much more interesting this way. If they kept with their chosen costumes usually there was always something that hinted to their identity, now there was an added layer of complexity and mystery that wasn't there before.
As a female guard walked up Tsuna covered the box up and took out a different, smaller box. This one had a flower sticker on it. The woman raised a charred brow. "And what is this Tsuna?"
The child grinned. "Well Tabitha-san, I thought that all the girls should have their own box!" He chirped. "Jack doesn't exactly look great in a short skirt or lipstick after all." The boy couldn't help but add mischievously.
The fiery guard who had been in earshot spluttered, clearly appalled at the imagery. Everyone else snickered. Tabitha tried to give a look of disdain but the attempt was ruined by the amused smile twitching at the edge of her lips. "Fair enough then." She said as she dropped her note in the box.
Finally when all the pieces of paper was collected Tsuna shook them all up and invited everyone to grab a random slip. The room was brimming with childish anticipation as the unfolded their pieces of paper. It was fun. There were boyish grins as ideas came to play, raised eyebrows at some of the more incredulous costumes written on the slips, light laughter at their choices and teasing mercilessly as they attempted to guess what their comrade's had gotten thanks to the ever fickle Lady Luck.
Even Bermuda had joined in the fun, though considering how he was still going to cover at least half his face with bandages the brunette worried if the Night Arcobaleno could actually go through with a random costume. The Vindice boss assured him though that he had picked one that worked with his limitations.
Tsuna then proceeded to ask how the infant had manage to do that with awe glittering like stars in his eyes. Bermuda merely smiled mysteriously and told the child it was just a Boss thing. In which by then the brunette swore that one day, he too was going to be a mafia boss and be as amazing as Bermuda was. The Night Arcobaleno laughed softly and ruffled the adorable boy's hair, assuring him that he would definitely be an outstanding mafia boss one day, much to the fluffy boy's pleasure and happiness.
Bermuda didn't have the heart to tell him he cheated.
Vendicare was buzzing in energy, the guards were eager to finish their daily duties quickly so they could return to help with the party, Tsuna was having fun planning everything and Bermuda even allowed some of his tenth floor prisoners out to help the boy with manual labor in exchange for attending the party itself. Of course the prisoners had to be adequately chained, one could never be too careful after all.
Now with preparations smoothly on the way the brunette realised it was time to invite some guests. He had to discuss it with Bermuda obviously, there were many factors and risks involved when outsiders were concerned, those risks tripled if they show them the Vindice's past appearances and skyrocketed if they ever recognized them.
There is no doubt of the matter that the green haired scientist would definitely see the correlation between the heavy production of Regeneration bullets and this sudden unveiling of the Vindice's appearance under those bandages. To think otherwise or to hope he would dismiss such an interesting observation would be madness.
To be fair however even a genius like Verde couldn't possibly put the two dots together and figure out the Vindice were ex-arcobaleno like him. That too would be of equal madness.
If they hid their stone pacifiers somewhere unnoticeable, coupled with the masquerade theme and use of lighting there was not much to connect the individual to an identity. Plus if anything only Jack, Small Gia and Big Pino really needed to be cautious since they were a part of the previous Arcobaleno group that had only 'disappeared' fifty or so years ago. Their legacy compared to others still lingered rather strongly. But even then they had been forced to be seen as infants for just as long, therefore the only people still alive who'd could have recognized them would only know the child, not the adult they were.
However despite the amount of odds in their favor, the true identity of the guards of Vendicare was their greatest secret that must not be ever told. Everyone understood that. If they were to invite outsiders they had to be people they could trust, people who will not tell- either because of loyalty or blackmail it didn't really matter- or people they could easily silence.
But... And this was their confidence and sense of love of the dangerous talking- their was a thrill in the idea of inviting a complete outsider, maybe not a civilian but someone from the mafia that had barely any contact with the Vindice. Someone who wouldn't know, who couldn't ever connect anything until it had to be spelled directly in front of them with pictures.
Of course with expectations like these that fit the limitations there wasn't many who fit the bill.
"The Cervello are out." Bermuda quickly shot down much to many complaints from his subordinates. Honestly they were like children sometimes. Overpowered, undead, vain children.
As neutral as the Cervello claimed to be and despite their adoration to Tsuna (who may have tagged along to meet them a few times), inviting a whole familigia was too risky and stupid. It had been in the end (after three hours of harsh passionate debating by the majority of the male guards) resolved that maybe a handful of them wouldn't be so bad... Jäger and a few other very eager guards immediately had took it upon themselves to discuss and inform directly with the Cervello on the upcoming celebration and limited guest list. The Vindice boss could only hope by the end of that meeting the Vindice will still be allies with the pink haired familigia.
Verde being an Arcobaleno was safe. He may be a genius but on the ever so slight possibility he caught on it honestly would't matter. Because eventually he was going to be part of the conspiracy too. Or die depending. On a lighter note they did have the karaoke blackmail to keep him silent and if using his pride against him didn't work then using Tsuna certainly will.
Shamal was a little more… 'unpredictable'. He wasn't the strongest in the mafia but definitely on the upper levels in terms of his unusual skill set and medical knowledge. There was also the whole patient confidentiality thing that he swore upon to think of. Still, the possibility he would talk was too high for Bermuda's liking. However, as Tsuna pointed out, the man's fear of them seemed to be working so far considering he hadn't revealed the whole Vendicare's child situation to anyone yet and finding out they were ex-arcobaleno would not exactly diminish that fear.
Though maybe they'll sway him with a little 'persuasion'. Just to make sure.
After an hour more of discussing and debating and arguing the Vindice boss and his favorite child had made their decisions. Now all that was left was to send the invitations.
Shamal groaned and rubbed his now reddened check, still warm from the vicious slap of one particularly fiery (and no less beautiful) flower. A flower that packed a surprising amount of power from such a small frame.
"Honestly Shamal you are just embarrassing." A high pitched voice drawled condescendingly.
The doctor glared at the suited baby. Reborn as usual was surrounded by half the woman at the bar, never mind the fact he was still an infant in appearance. It wasn't fair! There was just no justice in the name of love and hot chicks!
Suddenly the constant buzzing of the busy bar was silenced, Shamal and Reborn, who both had been too busy staring each other down hadn't noticed the new presence that had walked into the bar. The hushed whispers and audible sounds of jaws dropping however, brought their attention to follow what everyone else was so interested in. And when they finally saw, both doctor and hitman just stared.
Three of the most gorgeous specimens of female humanity had just walked into the bar. They were dressed in form-fitting black dresses of various style, decorated with different silver accessories that accentuated their individual bodies and practically demanded attention yet still in an almost subtle, simple way. It was easy to say these mysteriously alluring women practically stole the breath of the room away, the only sounds that cut through the faint murmurs were the clacking of expensive black heels.
Heels that were directly and determinedly walking towards one completely stunned Shamal.
At first the mafia doctor thought they would go straight to Reborn, the fairer sex always seemed to flock to the man he reluctantly admitted, but these ladies barely even gave him a glance. Instead the trio were all staring straight at him.
The tallest woman, a raven haired goddess with high raising cheekbones and a hauntingly intimidating beauty with pale skin and lips as red as blood, was the first to reach him. The two blondes, one a thin figure, with straight hair the colour of wheat and a slight endearing droop to her lemon green eyes and the other more buxom blonde with wavy golden hair that went to the small of her back and a sexy low cut dress that showed off her generous assets, were not too far behind. It was unsurprisingly the darker haired lady who spoke first, the obvious leader of the enchanting group.
"Trident Shamal." The woman greeted in a soft yet hoarse voice that, if the doctor wasn't currently mimicking a very impressive imitation of a dying fish, would realize was oddly familiar. "We've had our eye on you for a while, congratulations."
The last word sounded less like a congratulatory remark and rather something unpleasant the haughty powerful woman had the unfortunate luck to step on with her designer shoes. Not that really mattered, Shamal was still absorbing the words spoken. These Angels had their eye on him? On him?!
"And, have we met Mademoiselles?" He asked rather weakly, not even trying to mask the disbelief and wariness in his voice, "I'm sure I would have remembered beauties as... Eye-catching as you three."
The green eyed blonde giggle softly, her sequined form fitting dress shimmering at the slightest tremble. The other blonde snorted rather inelegantly but still somehow maintained her delicate air surrounding her. Even the raven haired woman smirked, obviously darkly amused. Shamal felt very out of the loop.
"You have.. brushed past us on a couple of occasions."
Before the man could open his mouth to protest soft lips connected with his own in an aggressive move that successfully killed any form of intelligence in his mind. It tasted of burnt cherry and dark chocolate; a bitter sweet flavor that Shamal found himself actively trying to taste much to the other's surprised approval. A part of him, the one that was surprisingly still functioning during what he could only describe as one of the most intensely amazing kisses in his life, noted the feeling of something being slipped into his slackened hand.
"We'll be waiting... Doctor." The raven haired woman purred as she pulled away from Shamal. Her immaculately pinned up hair was slightly tousled at the sudden heated act but other than that she still managed to compose an air of regal dignity despite having just kissed a near stranger senseless in a bar. As she strutted out of the room confidently like a smug, satisfied lioness with the other two chuckling softly behind her, only then did the dazed mafia doctor look down at the crumpled paper in his hand.
"What is it Shamal?" The squeaky voice of the Sun Arcobaleno asked in obviously faked nonchalance. Okay no, admittedly Reborn made the question sound like he would have to be paid in diamonds to even pretend to be interested in the answer but the doctor could see the curious glimmer in those obsidian black eyes. A large, very petty part of him wanted to not tell Reborn what was in the envelope. He wanted to relish and taunt the infant sized assassin about him getting interest, not to mention smooched, by some of the hottest females he had ever laid eyes on. The other, mature part of his mind reluctantly was insisting to share whatever the note contained. What if it was dangerous? A trap? What if the paper was poisoned and his was the one lead for the other when it comes time to be avenged for his rather anti-climatic death? What if-
Shamal was ashamed to say he let the petty part of him win out.
Because, hey, if he was going to die, at least he died by the delicate hands of three beautiful flowers of the night.
A hiss of surprise signaled the doctor to carefully open the envelope. Shamal only let himself glance for a split second at the surprised and affronted hitman and smirk, internally congratulating his Trident mosquito, Annie, for her successful little task. "Sorry Reborn but a ladies secret is a secret I will guard with my life."
Reborn glared. His tiny form practically vibrating from his displeasure at this situation. Oh, Shamal was so going to be in a world of pain once that mild temporary petrifying pox passed. But something told the doctor this will be so worth it.
Opening the envelope carefully (things from women should always be treated like heavens gifts after all) the mafioso's usually lazy eyes widened. As an influential and very well known individual in the underworld Shamal had been invited to many things. Very fancy things, very elegant things and some very, very weird things. But never had he received such an invitation, and it was obviously an invite because there was no way this was an obscenely flamboyant coupon, that seemed to be actually made of pure gold threads.
The 'paper' in his hands shimmered brightly even under the cheap, dim lighting, a delicate golden glow that literally screamed to all those who beheld it royalty and power and riches. In large elegant handwriting made from ink as dark as the night sky the letter said;
You are hereby formally invited to an all Hallows eve Ball hosted by Sawada Tsunayoshi and held in none other but the great halls of Vendicare.
When you burn this letter it will transform into your true invitation, wear it before we summon you at the third hour before midnight. It is not required but highly recommended you come in costume.
You may bring one guest that you both trust and think with absolute certainty we approve to allow in our quarters. Failure to meet our approval however is an event you should want to avoid no matter what.
Until the night rises and the demons come out to play,
"Well I'll fucking be." Shamal breathed, a smile on his lips as he found himself completely relaxed and amused at these unexpected turn of events. The man scratched the slight stubble on his chin and chuckled at the infantile hitman straining to read the words on the paper of gold.
"I need to go get a costume."
"-and the final thing on our agenda-"
"Lightening Arcobaleno Verde."
The room suddenly shifted from semi-comfortable to the down right frigid temperatures of the Arctic in the middle of a blizzard, 9000 feet deep in the ice. Eight Arcobaleno turned slowly like rusty clockwork to stare at three cloaked and bandaged figures with vary degrees of shock and horror. The green haired scientist was unsurprisingly the least horrified but his eyebrows were raised comically in surprise. The Vindice who arrived restrained themselves from huffing in smugness and displeasure, it wasn't like the new generation's secret hideout for their meetings was that hard to find. They had been aware of the location for years, honestly to think otherwise was more than a little offending.
Though the drama of it all that came from the waiting was definitely something immensely satisfying in their undead eyes. Yes, the ladies may have planned their way of invitation well but the male guards of Vendicare have their own little flares of dramatics of their own.
Verde felt his eyebrows shoot upward toward the ceiling. Which was a ridiculous and physically impossible thought. Nonetheless it indeed felt like that, what with his immense surprise at the trio of guard's appearance. How did they know about their meeting place? It should be impossible, only the other fellow Arcobaleno and no one else, knew. Equally important- why are they calling for him? Verde knew that he was in the Vindice's good books, well, if the Vindice even had any such things he was sure he would be the closest thing (other than a certain bushy haired brunette boy obviously) in it. And he certainly had been careful enough to not cross any Mafia rules... Well... Except maybe one or two but they were minor! In a sense.. Either way the scientist had assumed that his strange friendship with the child of the Vindice would let him gain some flexibility or leeway at the very least with his experiments, not to mention the tentative working relationship he had managed to score with a few of the guards.
"Lightening Arcobaleno Verde." The hollow deep voice rasped intimidatingly. Verde could not stop the shudder that instinctively went through his small body at the sound. He didn't know how Tsuna could live with hearing those voices without continuously shivering. They sounded so hollow, so empty and so terrifyingly… dead. But the green haired genius did have to concede that around the boy they did not sound like that, it was still spine-chilling, but around the boy their voices actually held something.
It was faint, like the first spring breeze that tentatively blows over the deadened winter morning but over time Verde had come to realise that it was there. Emotion. A strange concept to connect with these heartless guards but Verde was a genius who valued his facts and observations over everything so he found himself quickly shifting his views in accordance with the newfound information.
Still. The scientist had to concede that the idea was - as certain uncouth imbecilic blondes would most probably say- 'Bloody fucking weird kora.'
Not wanting to prolong any sentence nor punishment he might've incurred from the feared Vindice yet not wishing to test if his vocal chords might have betrayed him and have cracked revealing his unshakeably annoying, not to mention rather uncalled for, but still innate fear of the cloaked guards, Verde just nodded his acknowledgement. Honestly, while he was getting used to being around the Vindice around Tsuna, the Vindice during their 'working' hours were a whole new form of fear in it's entirety he had found.
The tallest one in the middle, he immediately had recognised as the leader of the Vindice- Jager since the man was the only guard that revealed any of his face and therefore one of the most recognisable of the guards, second only to the one called Small Gia who, while completely covered was identified by his short stature and… dagger sharp tongue. The two behind Jager the scientist didn't know without actually talking to them but the scientist could fairly guess that it was the rather fiery guard that never won at cards and the cold but polite guard who was surprisingly skilled in artistic indulgences. It really was strange to be able to characterise one of the Vindice in such a humanising way but Verde found himself curiously okay with that.
With a start the green haired arcobaleno snapped out of his musings by the startled and shocked gasps of his fellow arcobaleno (he refused to call these uneducated morons his equals after all) who were currently looking as stupefied as he had always expected them to be. He had to admit though he too was feeling rather stumped as he stared through his glasses at three individuals from one of the most powerful and feared group of demonic enforcers of the underworld knelt before him. Knelt. Before him.
Verde knew that testing the hallucinogenic properties of his stupid Mist Deathperation gas of his yesterday was a terrible idea.
"Lightening Arcobaleno Verde, we would be honored to invite a spirit such as your esteemed self to a gala on Hallows eve." Jäger rumbled, voice hoarse but there was obvious reverence in the Vindice's tone. The guard then shifted, pulling out a midnight colored envelope and holding it out to the scientist like a precious crown to a king.
Realising that this was indeed not some warped twisted illusion- his mind could not ever fathom such an impossible preposterous scenario after all- the little genius warily took the envelope. The possibility of this all being a very sick, twisted joke for these guards (he had been present during the, as they called it, One Night at Vendicare Game, and as much as that too amused him Verde would not be confident to say he himself won't eventually become a target for these… antics) had not been ruled out in his mind.
That cackle of a certain shorter than average guard could not help but ring unnervingly at the back of his mind.
When Verde took out the letter- he noted absentmindedly that the parchment was made from real silver threads- the Lightening Arcobaleno stifled a breath of relief when he saw familiar child like scrawl written on the paper.
So the Vindice and I have decided to cordially invite you to our first ever Halloween party!
Isn't that amazing?! I'm delegating everything too!
The Vindice themselves however wanted to choose how to invite the guests. Shamal apparently had his letter brought by three of the female guards. Something about showing off and making a scene that can only be done by the fairer sex.
I don't really get it but if it annoyed Reborn then I wholeheartedly will allow it.
Anyway Small Gia says hi, he's the one who had the idea for me to write this letter. Again I don't see the point why but Gia is very smart (not intelligent like you but he's smart smart). Of course you know that since he actually beat you at chess that one time. And no. The game was not rigged. But Small Gia did agree to a rematch- said you were not stupid and he likes that. And he doesn't like anything! Well other than torture. And making people look stupid. Or mind games. And I guess me as well but still!
I know I'm rambling but they insisted the letter must be long so it looks important or something. Honestly their boring old traditions ingrained in them always come out at the worst times. Don't their noble manners of Ye Olde expand to not waking up their charge at 2am and bribing him with chocolate chip pancakes to write this? My hand hurts. Also, I think they just want me to practice my handwriting. Which looks nothing like what a frantic six legged chicken would do thanks very much.
Verde snorted. He felt all eyes- even the ones burning through their bandages- on him but he couldn't find himself to care. Amusement and an unnervingly ticklish warmth bubbled up in his small chest as he continued reading.
Anyway... Right! The party! Oh it's going to be great Verde, I researched various Halloween parties on the specially upgraded computer you gave me- the one that is able to use wi fi even in Vendicare. Not the one that automatically gets me through any government restricted places, unless do you think the American has some super secret party notes? Don't think so.
You got to dress up though- that is very compulsory. I don't know how to emphasize it harder than I did Verde but you MUST dress up.
And no, I don't mean you go as Einstein or a mad scientist because that is not dressing up. No it isn't. I know you will try to find some sort of loophole or twist semantics but I assure you- if you don't dress up THEY will do it for you, and that really isn't a prospect that any would want to even comprehend.
Oh, oh! Alejandro just reminded me too, you can bring a guest! Isn't that great! Everyone argued about the people invited (we have Shamal coming and a possible guest of his own- there's a betting pool currently on whether he brings one or not-, twenty Cervello have accepted the terms for their involvement, my wards who are being rewarded for good behavior and obviously all of the Vendice will be there) and in the end we figured we would be more comfortable if your guest was an Arcobaleno too.
Also you are to chose now. Be as dramatic as possible ; P
666 Vendicare, somewhere off the north west side of hell and damnation
Verde raised a brow as he finished reading the address (hopefully a joke because the existence of hell was SO not something even he wished to comprehend as real) and then internally snicker as he let the last few words sink quickly into his mind. So that's what it was. The Vindice weren't screwing with him.
They were screwing with the rest of the Arcobaleno.
And Verde can definitely go along with that.
Folding the letter carefully, drawing the action out much longer as it strained both silence and his comrade's patience, the green haired infant kept his face as blank as possible. Then, he looked at the still kneeling guards who in turn were staring back expectedly. And sneered.
"About time. I was tired of waiting."
The Vindice apparently had expected the reaction as they knelt even lower as an obvious sign of submission.
"We apologize Lightening Arcobaleno. We do not mean to offend you in any way possible. The Vindice shall try to do better for your esteemed self next time." The leader of the group, Jäger, was surprisingly very good at groveling. So were the other two as they looked like they were trembling as they muttered their own string of flowery apologies. Though it was more likely of laughter rather than fear or subservience.
Not wanting to break character, Verde crossed his arms and looked even more contemptuous than when faced with those stupid interns the International Science Board had insisted on sending him every Summer.
"See that you don't." He sniffed self importantly. "You know what happens if I find your service… lacking."
The Lightening Arcobaleno had the strangest urge to giggle like a child as he practically felt the incredulous stares and jaws dropping. The guards were practically shaking with barely restrained mirth and if the stoic Vindice were barely hanging onto their composure by a thread, the infant sized genius was barely doing much better.
Emerald green eyes flickered to the table unable to stop his curious eyes from observing the reactions his unexpected improvised ploy has caused.
Colonello and Lal Mirch had their mouths so wide a beehive could fit in there, the fact that they seemed to be actually incapable of making any sort of noise come out of them was much more fascinating than the opening capacity of their jaws. Mammon's expression was hidden under his cloak but Verde was sure it was priceless, most likely recalculating his previous assessment of the green haired arcobaleno's momentary worth. Fon had gone an interesting shade of grey while Skull had surprisingly, gone a vivid shade of blue that Verde had really only seen on corpses drained of blood and then dumped in ice. And Reborn…
Slowly, ever so slowly, Verde turned his head toward his least favourite organism on the planet.
Reborn's expression was completely blank. Like, even an empty piece of paper was nothing in comparison. And really, that silence both in expression and sound spoke more than the scientist ever dreamed of. Seeing that stunned look of complete and utter disbelief and incomprehension on his fedora wearing rival's face was something Verde was almost willing to kiss the kneeling Vindice on the lips for. Almost. Very close though.
"And have you chosen your sacrifice Lightening Arcobaleno?" The deep hollow rasp coupled with the words made the green haired man almost falter before catching himself. Covering up his confusion with a raised brow of arrogance, emerald green analysed any clues on the bandaged men's covered features for a clue on what he was referring to. Luckily he was a genius and joined the dots very quickly. And did those dots make a very pretty picture indeed. Verde let himself smile widely, it was not a pleasant smile.
"I'm contemplating my choice now."
Verde spun to face the table of gobsmacked cursed infants, sure his face was currently the embodiment of vindictive pleasure as glittering green eyes gleefully surveyed the individuals like a crocodile ready to choose the juiciest prey to snap it's teeth into. Coupled with the simultaneous rise of the Vindice so they stood powerfully and menacingly behind him made even the most prideful of his fellow peers pale just a shade whiter.
As the scientific genius appreciated the moment of power over his so-called equals, internally he was trying to pick the most suitable individual in the room to invite to this party. And more importantly a person suitable enough to meet Tsuna.
Hie eyes flickered to Reborn before immediately rejecting the idea. No. Definitely not. Even if Tsuna didn't hate the hit man's arrogant existence, Verde most definitely did. And the idea alone of Reborn being kept out of the dark for something as big as this (and yes, Verde knew that the boy's power alone was enough to shake the mafia world) was more than incredible satisfying to the scientist. He suppressed another chuckle as he noticed said hitman was frowning slightly, obviously recognising the blatant dismissal and feeling a well deserved sting to his ego.
Yes, Verde knew now who to bring as the 'sacrifice'. His intelligent mind has gone through and cross-analysed the potentials and has with equal speed managed to narrow it down to one. Mammon? Definitely not, too untrustworthy. Lal Mirch? Out, Verde couldn't see the woman as doing well at a party scene which, if anything like the karaoke sessions would be definitely loud and needlessly lavish. Fon? In terms of childcare he would be the most suitable and would definitely keep a secret but… The martial artist was the least annoying of everyone in the room, and yes, that may be seen as a plus but Verde didn't want the peacemaker of the group. He wanted to piss everyone off as petty and childish as it sounded, with his decision. Especially Reborn. So Fon was scratched off the list.
So now that leaves two. Colonello? Or Skull? Both choices were acceptable as they were people who would actually enjoy the party and have a better chance at earning the Vindice's favour than most of the others. The stuntman, the green haired genius grudgingly admitted would probably suit the environment better (not to mention his rather extreme reactions were always fascinating to observe) but on the other hand the sniper was indefinitely easier to coax loyalty from. Both were equally as incompetent when handling children, loudmouthed and likely to make fools of themselves in front of the enforcers. So choosing either arcobaleno would be fine on those aspects really. But the person who would practically infuriate the others when picked for a secret would be…
"I have decided."
Green eyes behind his glasses glinted as his gaze finally laid onto his final decision, who gulped audibly.
"Are you sure?" The icy, haughty voice that reminded him of cold knives clattering against each other in a chaotic blizzard asked soft but clearly. While to most people it would have sounded completely emotionless or even a little disapproving, Verde who had managed to pick up a few inflections and their meanings from the past two years of closely interacting with the guards knew there was a spiderweb's thread of warm amusement underlined under those sheets of ice. It was odd how surprisingly comforting that was.
Now that was a joke- the most indifferent, uncaring of the Arcobaleno getting reassured by the demonic enforces of the night. And their charge.
But it was their joke, and they would forever chuckle under their breathes or in the backs of their minds at how so very grateful they found themselves to be.
"Yes." Verde replied with renewed confidence. "I pick Cloud Arcobaleno Skull as my sacrifice."
The black cloaked trio of the night nodded their acknowledgement, completely ignoring the strangled horrified noise in the background. "Very well. Keep the letter, we will come collect you and the sacrifice on Hallows eve, before the third hour of midnight. Burn the paper before then to signal when you are ready."
The Vindice then turned to leave, the menacing black portal of flames the colour of a starless night appearing at their silent call. Only before the last of the Vindice stepped into the black abyss of flames did one look back and gave a short, sharp nod before the portal closed without so much as a sound. Verde didn't nod back, didn't have time to nor need to. He had received the wordless threat, the soundless placement of trust in that one subtle action and he knew that he would not disappoint them. Verde would make sure Skull would come, that the stuntman would not ruin the festivities and most importantly, will never breathe out the secrets that will be revealed to his eyes. Yes, Verde swore by his genius, his name and his loyalty to Tsuna who had accepted him and given back warmth for just warmth in turn.
'And if he is unworthy of Tsuna's time and the Vindice's trust then I will end him myself.'
"Oh my god." The leather clad, purple haired devil repeated for the umpteenth time.
"Shut it Skull." A infant sized Sherlock Holmes growled in annoyance as he glared at the silver letter in his hand. He was currently busy both in trying to break down the components and general workings of the invitation that will make it capable of summoning three guards (presumably from the depths of hell) as well as mentally trying to will time to move even a second faster to escape his companion's whinging. He was starting to regret not choosing Colonello as his guest. Though he had a sinking suspicion that he'll still be receiving an equal amount of annoying either way.
"I can't believe we are going to a Halloween party."
"I'm sure there has been some scenario in your sad pathetic excuse of a life that has allowed you to be present at a party on October 30th." Verde muttered, if it was possible the silver sheet would have combusted under the intensity of his gaze alone.
"Not with the Vindice! I didn't even know they did parties!" Skull shrieked at an increasingly alarming pitch. Then he suddenly turned to the green haired scientist beside him and pointed a shaky incredulous finger. "And you were specially invited?! YOU? You out of all the unsociable psychopaths in the galaxy?!"
Verde sighed, massaging his forehead with his free hand and reluctantly giving up on the whole move-the-powers-of-time-with-my-amazing-mind idea which was a shame, because his mind was pretty amazing. "I'm not a psychopath, a more accurate term is a highly functioning sociopath if you must lower yourself to name calling."
"I don't care if your a play doh princess pony Verde-sempai, that's not the point!" Skull shrieked to the point his plastic horns on his head vibrated with the rising volume. Verde knew that he should've brought his new genetically enhanced (though not fully tested) painkillers, whatever consequences mixed with alcohol and infantile bodies he would've been nothing compared to the headache that was threatening to invade him.
"And what…" He gritted out, "Is the point Skull, you incompetent moron? I already told you that we are going to a Halloween Party at Vendicare and I am going to introduce you to one of their most precious secrets. What else do you want?"
"Are you serious?!" Verde wondered when he was ever not serious to the other. Not out of respect obviously, but the scientist would never joke at the Cloud Arcobaleno simply because that lump of indestructible human meat would never even dream of comprehending his dry wit. So obviously he would be serious, it was out of kindness really. "You don't expect me to actually just be okay with that! How do you know the Vindice? What precious secret?! Why on earth is there a party in the first place? Why are you invited? Who else is? If the Vindice were really hell bent on being the secret demons they are why are there outside guests? And why would they let said guests bring a plus one? Also seriously the secret? Please tell me they didn't pick up some mutated dog of yours and started raising it just because y-"
"SKULL. SHUT. UP."
Skull shut up.
The green haired Sherlock glared at the other before closing his eyes and mentally recounting all the questions that had been asked in rapid fire concession. It really was a good thing he had an eidetic memory because Verde would've been damned if he had to re-listen through the whole thing again. "Okay, first off, I know the Vindice as everyone knows the Vindice but I'm sure you meant know the Vindice enough to be specifically on close acquaintance terms. If that is so then it was because of a chance meeting with the secret who will be introduced later. Yes they do have a secret as stated before, surprisingly though, it is not some magic puppy you stupid child. And no I have no idea why they decided on a party, let alone invite me nor people they barely know, I'm sure they have a very limited guest list or their intelligence I have severely overestimated. From what I have gathere- Skull are you still comprehending what I am saying?"
"Oi! I can't keep up with the sudden info Verde-sempai! That isn't fair!"
"I merely reciprocated answers in the same manner you did, how is that anything but fair?"
Skull's response consisted of a string of strangled indignant noises instead of proper words. Charming. Thankfully the greenette could ignore the sounds in favour of checking his watch. It was almost 9. Deciding that being early never hurt anyone Verde summoned some of his flames through his hands and begun 'burning' the invitation of silver in his hands. Well, burned wasn't exactly the right word, as the flames were absorbed by the silver paper and merely glowed in a faint reflection of the Arcobaleno's own flame before dimming back to it's original state. All in all, it wasn't the flashiest thing in the world but it did manage to pique the scientist's curiosity. Verde wondered what material could so casually absorb Deathperation flames so easily and what resulting action was triggered by the effect, it was meant to be some sort of signal but how?
Dozens of, admittedly weak, hypothesis came to mind but were soon dismissed to the back burner as the familiar abrupt temperature drop enveloped the two infants and a black warp hole slowly emerged from the nothingness in front of them. The strangled noises beside him had turned into soft anxious whimpering which Verde responded by kindly rolling his eyes while the other's attention was on the incoming three Vindice guards who, disappointingly were still in their usual intimidating uniform.
The one in front glanced at the small pair, their letter and then silently gave a subtle nod of confirmation to the two guards behind before sharply turning back into the portal. Then, to the surprise and slight embarrassment of the Arcobaleno, the following Vindice knelt down to them and gestured the cursed infants to be carried in their arms. Both Skull and Verde looked at each other in a rare moment of equal sympathy, horror, awkwardness and resignation (because you couldn't exactly say no in this context) before accepting the act.
They arrived in a grey wide corridor, a few feet in front of them was a large black metal door with intricate silver carvings but other than that there was nothing really noticeable about the current location. Skull, who was unused to portal based travel had previously been dry-heaving as waves of nausea passed him whilst Verde watched on indifferently, if not feeling slightly reassured that he'd reacted much better the first few times round at warping than the man whose body apparently defied death.
"S-should we go in?" Skull whispered hesitantly after he had finally felt steady enough to speak, his eyes flickering distrustfully at the door like it was going to grow arms and legs and attack them. Verde too was feeling rather uneasy in this grey silence, the guards while foreboding, were a silent strong presence yet they had left immediately the same way they came.
"I think it would be wise to wait." He murmured back. "I don't know what would happen if we go through unaccompanied." The violet coloured devil shuddered at the implications and nodded frantically in agreement. And so proceeded the most awkward three minutes of silent staring at the door, each other and the most banal attempts of small talk in their entire lives.
Finally the pair felt the temperature drop and a black flaming portal open up behind them. Verde could hear Skull's sigh of absolute relief at the presence and the scientist had to bite the inside of his mouth to stop himself from snickering. This was most definitely the first time ever the Cloud Arcobaleno ever felt genuinely grateful for the appearance of the Vindice. Verde would've sacrificed his whole lab in Germany just to see the stuntman's face when he too looks back on this memory and realises this.
Coming out of the portal, the three guards stopped to give a double-take at the infant sized devil and Sherlock Holmes. "Shouldn't you two be gone by now?" One of the three asked in a gravelly but rather amused voice as he looked pointedly at the arcobaleno, then to the door in front of them. Verde, not willing to be treated like an idiot lying down, crossed his arms and raised his eyebrow haughtily.
"Shouldn't you have escorted us, like proper hosts?"
Verde tried to ignore the renewed strangling sounds from his paling fellow arcobaleno. It was harder than he thought. He wondered vaguely if the stuntman was that interesting shade of white like last time.
However much to the violet colored man's obvious relief the reaction of the terrifying trio was only faint but visible amusement instead of the immediate skewering-to-death-by-chains like Skull had probably been expecting. "We do apologize for our poor behavior Arcobaleno Verde but we had to 'pick up' our other guests." It was only then did the two arcobaleno take notice of the new figures stumbling less than gracefully toward them.
Shamal, decked out in full Roman gladiator armor, looked down at Verde with a nervous grimace as he probably was experiencing the nausea to a much lesser effect. The male however, recovered quickly as opposed to his own guest who was currently mimicking Skull's previous action of bending over in attempt to recover from the unpleasant sensation that unavoidably came from going through intra-space travel.
"Doctor Shamal." Verde greeted formally, still feeling that underlying smugness that came from the knowledge that he was more naturally more resistant to the Vindice's portals than he realised.
"Verde." The mafia doctor greeted in turn. "And.." He then raised a brow as he noticed the second figure beside the Lightening Arcobaleno. "..Skull?" He looked at the scientist with complete befuddlement and a touch of disappointment. "Really Verde? Your plus one is the Cloud Arcobaleno?"
It really was a testament to the amount of crazy things the doctor has so far come across in the past few years thanks to the meeting of one Sawada Tsunayoshi that instead of shock in his voice their was only resigned exasperation. Not that Verde could blame him. Witnessing and judging an 'Epic Rap Battle of the Histories' with the Vindice really desensitised a person. They were surprisingly very knowledgeable about certain time periods.
"Like your choice of companion was any less wise." The Lightening Arcobaleno sneered with condescending playfulness that only one who squinted real hard could really see. It was interesting, now that the other had finally straightened his back from his disorientation and faced everyone, the scientist recognised who exactly the doctor had brought. And Verde would rather like to hear the reason for such an... unexpected choice.
"Hello Cavallone Decimo." He acknowledged to the other as politely as he could for someone who had just passively insulted said person.
Golden blonde hair and nervous brown eyes just gave a weak smile. Apparently the teenager was more distracted by recent turn of events than the subtle jab at his being. Reborn may have said the future mafia boss was a clumsy idiot but at least the blonde at least had a decent set of priorities-
"OI I'M THE GREAT AND POWERFUL SKULL-SAMA! WHAT DO YOU MEAN REALLY? WHAT ARE YOU IMPLYING?"
-unlike some people Verde knew.
"So a policeman?" The scientist asked, the young mafia heir chuckled and rubbed the back of his neck bashfully as he glanced for a moment at his blue all-american copper costume, complete with authentic badge and all.
"Yeah, I thought it would be ironic." Verde quirked an eyebrow which was possibly the closest thing to an admittance of admitting to finding the costume both ironic and humorous to a mere acquaintance. "Indeed." The green haired infant drawled. 'At least, the blonde Cavallone does not seem to be a complete waste of oxygen in terms of personality.' the scientist decided generously.
"Holy shit." Skull breathed out as he and the other three invitees stared at the brightly lit hall that was revealed behind the black door. The walls were cream with lined golden runic markings tastefully decorating the space, a deep crimson to the point of black colored carpet lay under their feet and small golden chandeliers made from various bones hung from the ceiling. All in all, it practically screamed we-are-rich-and-powerful-so-feel-blessed-to-witness-our-incredible-interior-decorating. It certainly was an unexpected contrast to the drab soul-sucking grey concrete just mere steps behind the group. "Holy shit."
But that wasn't the main reason for the admission by the stuntman dressed as a purple devil. It was a reason. But not the main one. No, the main reason was the people scattered in the ridiculously refined and glamorous hall, people who were equally as ridiculously refined and glamorous.
Faes, vampires, knights and many other creatures, all easily living up to the stories and their legendary lore, talking and laughing quietly whilst holding crystal glasses filled with wine the colour of blood. It was more than a little hard to believe these ethereal looking people were 'real' and not just from some scene straight out of a painting- but they couldn't be. No painter could ever successfully capture such refinement, visualise the strength of their presence, portray the charisma each one seems to hold with such noble ease.
The accompanying guards had taken leave from their guests to change from their uniform, leaving the four to explore the halls and rooms connected. Apparently the Vindice had taken to converting most of the floor to suit the many differing ideas everyone had on what constituted to being 'absolutely necessary' in a party (Skull was sickly curious to find out what the Vindice actually define as a 'party').
After loitering a bit around the long hall rather awkwardly and out of place with the admittedly intimidatingly attractive partiers, Shamal, being the most familiar with the area decided to be the assertive one and lead the impromptu exploration adventure. Of course the doctor was obviously not feeling that confident in this new setting as he chose to enter the closest room possible.
Skull had imagined some sort of torture dungeon in the first room they entered. Or maybe an armory filled with cursed bloody weapons. Or even a really really posh lounge room where everything was made completely from gold, velvet and the bones of their enemies. What he found was-
"Jealousy, turning saints into the sea,
Swimming through sick lullabies
Choking on your alibis"
Flashing multicoloured lights, the loud beat of music, shadows moving energetically with the rhythm.
"But it's just the price I pay
Destiny is calling me
Open up my eager eyes,"
Characters from folklore and stories were clapping and dancing to the music as a man with fiery red hair clad in, frankly, an obscene amount of leather, sang with an admittedly admirable amount of enthusiasm in the middle of small stage at the back of the room. Small decorative explosions suddenly went off around the stage as the red headed male gave a sharp spin and posed with a hand on his hips and the other pointing to the audience, microphone in the latter's hand.
"Cause I'm Mr Bri~ghtside"
What. The. Fuck.
"Oh. I guess we found the karaoke room then." Skull whipped his head to just gape at the sheer nonchalance of his fellow Arcobaleno.
"Huh, I would've thought they would have used a larger room." The Cloud Arcobaleno actually heard his neck crack at the sudden movement of his neck this time but ignored it in favour of gaping at the other intellectual of the group. Well, Skull was seriously reconsidering their intellectual prowess currently if all the two scientists could question in this honestly ridiculous situation was the Vindice's bloody poor architectural planning.
"Is that- how- why- ARE YOU GUYS SERIOUSLY ACCEPTING THIS?!" the future boss of the Cavallone family screeched the way only one bordering hysteria could muster. Skull silently nodded in agreement, at least there was still one sane individual on the land where Hell has apparently frozen over.
"Yes." Was the deadpanned answer of one Sherlockian scientist and one Roman gladiator doctor. It was official. Hell has not only frozen over but they have opened their gates to homeless orphans and puppies for free ice skating lessons.
The blonde policeman's outburst drew the attention of the singer on the stage if the male's sudden waving at their ragtag group was any good suggestion.
"Yo if it isn't freaking Verde, Shamal and their little posse!" The red headed man singer exclaimed, grinning wildly as he jumped haphazardly off the stage, flippantly throwing his microphone somewhere into the crowd. A few choice swears seconds later indicated the microphone found its landing. The red head just flipped the crowd behind him off absentmindedly as he made his way toward the group.
"Good to see you could come to the party-" He greeted loudly, his voice was gravelly but held a warmth that could not possibly come from one of the spine-chillingly hollow voices that was practically signature among the demonic guards of Vendicare. Dino stared in half bewilderment half wonder as this healthy looking, smiling, could-not-possibly-be-a-Vindice Vindice slung a playful (playful!) arm around the Mafia doctor's shoulder as he fake whispered, "-not like we would've let you skip out on us anyway."
Shamal and the leather-clad guard both burst out in laughter, even Verde was chuckling. And Dino had only seen the green haired scientist do the closest thing to laughter once- at some poor sap's grave. Granted it could've been some inside joke or something but the blonde Mafia heir still thought it was insanely creepy. Skull, the other tag along other than himself joined in the ominous sounding joke with his stilted awkward laughter- more for the sake of fitting in than anything. Not wanting to be left either Dino also pitched in with his own little strained giggle, way too high pitched for his liking.
Finally the laughter died down and the man gave a name to his cheerful, seriously-this-man-could-not-be-a-Vindice face.
"The name's Jack, fresh meats." Jack introduced himself with a feral grin that was more teeth than smile. Skull and Dino gulped audibly in surprising sync. Maybe they could see him as a guard of Vendicare after all.
"So that's what you look like.." Verde muttered as he tried leaning upward, analysing the red-head like a new, never before seen specimen. Which technically wasn't that far off considering no one (except a certain Tsuna fish but that hardly counts) had ever seen the men (and woman) behind the bandages.
"Yeah, yeah I know. I'm freaking beautiful." Jack waved off in a dismissive gesture much to the scientist's chagrin. Shamal openly snorted- in front of a Vindice!- at the casual arrogance. "Now let me give you a little tour to some of the other freaking rooms huh?"
"You Vindice really aren't familiar with the concept of normal parties are you?" Shamal drawled as he warily eyed the room they stepped into.
"Please," Jack smirked, "we are the Vindice - wouldn't want you guys to get the wrong impression now would I?"
"Oh no, because seeing you all as human beings with feelings is just terrible." Verde muttered under his breath, slowly maneuvering past the bloody machinations and other 'instruments' around the dirty grey room. "This can not be hygienic." He sniffed when the green haired infant nearly stepped in an unidentifiable sickly green viscous fluid on the ground.
"Oi!" The Vindice guard called, looking back with poorly restrained bemusement at the two pale faces standing at the doorway, "You guys ain't freaking scared of playing with a little blood are ya?"
Both Dino and Skull looked at each other, then to the slaughterhouse poorly disguised as a high school science lab, then back at each other before staring at their impromptu tour guide with equally sickened expressions.
"I like this room way better." The Cloud Arcobaleno piped up as he flopped onto a couch that was literally marshmallow soft.
"We all like this room way better." Verde agreed as he began mentally calculating how it was possible for cotton candy to keep its structural integrity as a pillow whilst upholding any sort of weight.
"Well I don't." Shamal made a face, just seeing the amount of sugar here made his stomach churn. "You know when you said the room of guilty pleasures I thought you meant something else right?"
The redheaded guide was too busy stuffing his face with chocolate cutlery alongside Dino to answer.
"An underground fighting arena?" Dino squeaked.
"Yeah, freaking awesome huh?" Was the only cheerful reply the Cavallone heir got as all attention was focused on the two participants walking into a large arena. Dino just gripped his, admittedly very nice, seat as he watched the proceedings with a mix of horror and sickened curiosity as what seemed to be a vampire and a terrifyingly scary, short priest with electric yellow hair readied for battle.
He'd never wanted to hold any part of the mafia, no matter what his old man insisted and his demonic tutor threatened, so why on earth was he here- in the most feared and secured prison globally, watching an underground fight take place of all things?! It was literally the most Mafia-ish thing Dino could think of sans maybe doing whatever hellish activity Reborn does whenever he's 'away'.
The only reason the blonde even accepted Shamal's unusual invite was one- because he sincerely thought it was a joke and two- if it wasn't a joke he could use this event as an excuse to back out of being a Mafia boss on an account of being traumatized by the Vindice. The fact that his tutor had been not invited to this exclusive party whilst he had was just an added, vindictive bonus. But mainly the first two reasons.
And honestly, thirty minutes into the party, he still had the feeling someone was seriously pulling his leg.
Dino had met the Vindice twice before. Both times were equally terrifying and nightmare-inducing. So to try and mentally connect the intimidating, dark enforcers of the Mafia with the brightly costumed, smiling party-goers was a bit of a stretch even to his rather wild imagination.
It was weird. Beyond weird.
However despite his disbelief, Dino looked at the cheering crowd as drinks were poured and betting money was exchanged, the blonde decided that this was definitely one of the best, most interesting Halloween's ever.
"Kekeke, I, Father Gia, use Holy Water!"
"AaaAGgHHHHhH! SON OF A BITCH THAT'S ACID! FOUL, FOUL!"
"It's super effective! Now let's see how my rosary bomb- I mean beads work against a vampire.."
"What? NO! UNCLE DAMMIT UNCLE!"
Dino sweat dropped at the now screaming vampire being chased by the psychotic priest throwing small red bombs, completely uncaring of the very real crowd beyond the ring. Maybe interesting is the wrong word to describe today.
"Yo, freaking catch." Jack called as he threw down the firearm cartridges from the tree he was up on.
"Woah okay this is kind of awesome." Skull admitted as he reloaded his gun, whilst checking behind his cover for the sight of any enemies.
"Shut up guys." Dino's voice crackled in their ears, he and Verde had taken to defending their base and limited security feed they'd managed access to. "Someone's coming your way, I think it's the tooth fairy." The two scouters groaned.
"Shit that bitch never lets up. She is such a freaking tank."
"Hey, at least we managed to take out the healer of the group."
"Yeah, weird that Legolas was the healer and the sniper was Madam Pomphrey of things. It's like they wanted to screw with us."
"Speaking about healers, where the hell is Shamal?"
There was the sound of soft giggling and the two gun wielding men twisted from their hiding spots just enough to see a familiar gladiator blatantly flirting with a winged scantily dressed beauty.
"SORRY!" Jack yelled, sounding truly as far from sorry as one could get, "HATE TO INTERRUPT THE BAD 'ROMANS' HERE BUT THE 'TOOTH' IS THAT YOU GUYS LOSE AND WE WIN!"
"I WAS PART OF YOUR TEAM!"
"WELL I GUESS THAT'S WHAT YOU GET FOR 'ROME'ING AROUND!" Skull called back. Jack, who had already joined him behind the boulder, grinned wildly as they fist-bumped.
"What is this?!" The stuntman shrieked. The red-headed man with grass green eyes blinked at the Cloud Arcobaleno. Weren't Clouds usually quiet and aloof and less... Shrill? In his time his Cloud was a complete bastard, but a silent unmoveable bastard. Times really have changed between generations.
"That's the Vindice Petting Zoo Corner." Jack answered, it was hard not to laugh outright at the incredulous looks on the mafia doctor, the future Cavollone Decimo and the two Arcobaleno's faces but the guard found the strength to restrain the urge.
"That's the Vindice petting zoo corner." The genius scientist repeated slowly, testing out the words on his lips like a dubious flavour of food never been tasted before. From his expression it seemed that Verde definitely found said flavor more than slightly unpleasant on his tongue. "And it apparently contains a cassowary."
"There's a giant snake." Shamal rather obviously pointed out, eyes warily not leaving the approaching reptile. "There's a giant snake in your so-called petting zoo."
"Technically it's Tsuna's freaking petting zoo not ours."
"You let Tsuna keep giant snakes in his own personal petting zoo."
"It's only one giant snake." The red head muttered. "And I wasn't the one to give it to him. I picked out a cool spider."
"Cool spid- it's a disgusting giant monstrosity!" Dino blurted out. His face paling to an unhealthy degree. "I've seen dogs smaller than that-"
"Is that Project-421? Did you steal my only successful spider mutation strain specimen to fill up a petting zoo?!"
"O-kay! Moving on!" Jack suddenly yelled as he enthusiastically ignored the simmering glare of a very unhappy green-haired Sherlock. "Let's finally head to where the actual freaking party is!"
The banquet hall was amazing. It made everything they had seen previously look like something hashed together last minute by second rate con-artists. The giant room was decadent, filled with elegantly designed furniture with various types of seating placed around an array of long banquet tables with the most mouthwatering edible artwork that had ever had the pleasure of seeing.
"Verde! Shamal! You guys came!" A sweet high pitched squealing blur of orange rushed over to the group, immediately hugging a faintly embarrassed Lightening Arcobaleno.
As the two began conversing, the blur, now revealed to be a rather adorable small child costumed as a fluffy orange stuffed lion (with a golden crown because he was the kind of the beasts of course), doing most of the talking as the green haired Sherlock nodded indulgently, two guest gaped in a way only dying fish could gape. Jack and Shamal just watched the whole scene amusedly.
"There's a kid here." Dino stated dazed. "Why is there a kid here?"
"Oh god is it one of the Vindice's?" Moaned Skull, his mind now frantically trying to delete the mental image of two bandaged guards amidst the activity of creating a child. "Holy crap the Vindice have a kid. It's a Vindice kid. No wait, please tell me they didn't just pick him up from the streets like some sort of pupp-"
"It doesn't even look like a Vindice kid!" The blonde exclaimed, arms waving toward the miniature lion chattering happily. Apparently the would be mafia boss has moved from disbelief straight to hysteria.
"And what did you freaking think a 'Vindice kid' look like?" Jack drawled vastly entertained by the reactions as their bodies jerked at his sudden input into the conversation.
"I don't know… horns? Faceless? Wearing a top hat and cloak?"
"You mean like a mini demon king mixed with a bit of a fancy masked burglar," Skull interrupted, Dino pointed at the smaller male and nodded enthusiastically. "Exactly!"
"Oh my god." The redheaded guard breathed, laughter unable to be fully stifled in his eyes, "All we ask you two is to bring one competent freaking human being each to our gathering and you give us the Idiot Duo." Shamal scoffed mock offended but was unable to retort against the statement.
"And this is Dino, Tsuna."
Large bright honey brown eyes gazed shyly at the policeman dressed mafioso, before averting them in favour of the floor as tiny paws clutched the Roman gladiator's leg. The older man chuckled and scratched his unshaven chin awkwardly. "Come on Tsuna, kid, you know it ain't polite not to greet my plus one."
With a bit more gentle nudging the young boy managed to look back up and gave a timid wave which Dino returned enthusiastically with a large sunny grin. "Hey Tsuna-kun. I like your costume." He said soothingly, the child really was the cutest thing and he'd always liked seeing himself as someone's big brother figure.
The Cavallone heir grinned even wider when Tsuna shot him a bashful smile and slowly walked over to him. "Thank you Dino-san." The small child said in soft politeness that made the older of the two wish to just pick the boy up and squeeze him till he pops. Which of course he wouldn't dare. Dino knew he was probably going crazy but he still valued his life thank you very much.
That train of thought halted screechingly however when then the fluffy little lion said, with as much seriousness as young children could muster, "You are very pretty miss."
Dino let his jaw drop, Shamal stiffened in shock and horror, Verde and Skull who already did their introductions had already gone off somewhere to search for the rumoured life-sized pigs in a blanket, and Jack, well he just came back accompanied by what was the sexiest looking male clown in ever, and both were leaning on something solid to prevent themselves doubling over in laughter.
"Oh, oh, bloody hell Jack and here I thought this was going to be something tedious." The clown, who really shouldn't even be considered that as his appearance more rightly would fit into the category of exclusive male model with a slight penchant for make up and unfortunately coloured pinstripe suits. Tall, well built and broad shoulders accentuated through the strikingly bright jacket lined with dark purple lines, long legs dressed in shimmering gold pants that showed large bowling ball type shoes. His wavy hair slicked back enough to highlight the white paint on his tanned olive skin, a spot of red on the tip of his nose with various little star shaped markings near the corners of his stunning golden shade of eyes. Really, if there was ever an example of genetic favouritism, this man was it. "Jesus I forgot how much I loved parties."
"Tsuna.." The doctor trailed off uncertainly, still feeling a little sick at the implications of such a misunderstanding. "Do you.. Don't you see a tiny problem with what you just said?"
The brunette tilted his head questioningly, the naive confusion in his eyes clearly stating no. No he clearly did not. Which would have been perfectly fine if the boy didn't see it fit to explain his thoughts. "Well, you told me you only bring 'hot dates' to your parties plus you hate most guys so obviously since you brought Dino here.." Tsuna folded his arms defensively at the dumbstruck expression on the older mafioso's face, raising a delicate brow as he did so.
"and you told me, that she would definitely get into your bed if I complimented her," It was at this point Shamal felt the uncanny sensation of being silently gouged out with the intensity of the murderous stares aimed at him alone. The mafia doctor did faintly recall saying that, he was a bit tipsy at the time though he hardly thought the Vindice would accept that excuse. "and you also said-" The child's voice was muffled under the other's large hand covering his mouth, owner of said hand was frantically alternating between shushing his favourite kid and laughing awkwardly as he blabbered excuse to two murderous Vindice guards and one embarrassed mafia heir. It was times like this Shamal actually considered going sober.
Tsuna lead the group past the almost Arabian Nights-eque platters of food, the assortment of chairs and tables they passed without a second glance, till finally reaching one at the end center of the room. It was a strange combination of furniture which if pressed, would be said to be a hybrid of the Round Table from medieval Camelot and Alice in Wonderland's Mad Hatter Tea Party. Stern bronze and silvers and gold cutting through the mismatch of bright leering colors and cheerful patterns, clashing and fighting yet in the end actually seemed oddly fitting in this strange room with its unique flavor of insanity and family.
Most of the seats were already filled up and it didn't take a genius like Verde to figure out these were the highest tier Vendicare had to offer sitting in front of them. Dino shivered as he caught sight of that sadistic priest placed directly opposite him, as if able to taste his fear the short terrifying Father lecherously licked the edge of his steak knife eyeing the blonde policeman like a particularly fun toy to abuse. By the priest's side was a very large man in what appeared as stereotypical wizarding robes with hat and wand and all who seemed content not to use his mouth for anything but eating. And on the other side of the giant male was a thin, rather intimidating aristocratic cowboy that was looking at them in such a way that made the Cavallone heir feel strangely unworthy.
"Kekeke, come, come sit with us!" The blonde cackling guard welcomed in a way that sounded completely ominous and foreboding. "Let the losers sit in their place whilst you.. well, you all are a temporary exception we were kind enough to fucking let in cuz of the brat here really."
"Gee." The Lightening Arcobaleno drawled, as he jumped up on the empty seat next to the Vindice sadist, "Thanks for that."
"Um, why is there a curtain covering the seat over there?" Dino timidly asked, pushing everyone's attention to the flowery draping around the chair, blocking the individual using it from sight.
"Don't mind the man behind the curtain." The handsome clown dismissed with a flick of his hand. "Seriously, open the curtain and I'll let Gia, the mockery of a Holy man over there, open your face."
The blonde 'eep'ed and Skull, who had been creeping closer to the drapery paled and took a significant step away from it as if it would explode. Considering what he's seen it was not outside the realm of possibilities. Honestly, if the thing behind the barely see through fabric was a velvet bunny stuffed with daises, Skull could see himself not even batting an eye at this point. The small sips of alcohol he'd been sneaking in between rooms also helped. Because he'd be damned if he got through this night without a little liquid courage.
The little boy, who Skull still thought could not possibly be real, giggled playfully, grabbing the Cloud Arcobaleno and Dino as he lead them to some empty seats between the clown, Jager he had introduced himself as if he could recall, and the curtained seat that he world rather not think about right now. Thankfully the child chose to sit next to the possibly explosive drapery leaving the duo to comfortably (well as comfortable as one can be amidst the most feared, ruthless and powerful people in Vendicare) sit in the last two spaces. The clown was busy in what seemed to be a very innuendo heavy- on his part at least- conversation with the haughty cowboy, and the drapery was busy being.. well.. drapery, which meant the two guests had the young cheerful lion all too themselves much to their delight.
Tsuna was very kind, actually looking genuinely interested in Skull's amazing stories about himself, being incredibly supportive as well as sympathetic about their bemoaning tragedies involving one fedora-wearing hitman, and telling them his own stories of his time with the Vindice- stories that will never be written on paper or remembered after the end of a single generation, stories of love and joy and things that no one would ever see behind the bandaged masks of Vendicare. It didn't take long for the two to be completely and utterly charmed by this child with a messy mane of hair, sweet honey eyes and smiles that seem to hold a ray of sunshine because how could anything else possibly explain the inexplicable curl of warmth they felt at the sight of it.
"Ne, ne, Skull-sun, Dino-san," Tsuna chirped sleepily, as he dragged the two (and when they say dragged they meant the boy blinked his wide shining eyes and they volunteered) to accompany him on the journey to his bedroom.
Skull chuckled, as did the blonde with fond indulgent looks at the child rubbing his eyes in an attempt to stay awake. "Yes kid?"
"Will you.." Pools of honey looked upwards toward the two, pleading and hopeful. It was alight that should be painted and placed on trial just so it could be officially banned in 29 countries due to it's dangerously high cute levels. "Will you guys come play with me when your free? Please?"
The older males glanced at each other, they've never been much interaction between the Arcobaleno and Cavellone heir but after tonight, the madness, the Vindice, the absolute sheer disbelief of it all, there was an odd sort of bond that had been forged. But was it something they were willing to embrace, to allow this secret, this huge insurmountable secret of insanity, to be part of their lives? All for a child who in a few scant hours had managed to touch their hearts in a way nothing in the underworld had ever done before. When you put it like that, even for cowards like them the answer was easy.