Sawada Tsunayoshi had trust issues.
Well, he had a lot of other issues besides, but those weren't important at the moment.
Because Sawada Tsunayoshi had trust issues, and if Reborn didn't tread carefully, he would lose a big chunk of the progress he had made in their relationship in the past year.
The world's number one hitman was currently lying in an unfamiliar bed, his limbs aching with a dull, throbbing pain.
All the chaos of the past while, with the Arcobaleno trials, was finally over, and with the curse broken, all the world's former strongest infants found themselves bedridden.
When Verde had guessed that only the part of the curse about remaining babies forever had been reversed and that they would start growing up with time, he had been partially right.
What he hadn't been right about was the part about growing up like normal human babies.
In fact, all their growing had taken place over the course of twenty-four hours, rather than twenty-four years.
It had taken all of two hours for Reborn and the others to realize what was happening, and from then, it was a race for them all to find somewhere private to seclude themselves until the growing pains and general moodiness of their hormones adjusting had faded away, and they were ready to face the world again.
For Reborn, his little haven had been the Sawada household.
It had been just over three hours since Reborn's manic growth spurt had ended, and the edge of his pain had dulled quite a bit.
Enough so that he finally had room in his mind to be annoyed at the way his student was tiptoeing around him.
Tsuna had stayed with him through most of his...growth spurt, watching in rapt attention as Reborn transitioned from infant to adult in an impossibly short time.
Had it been anyone else, Reborn would have sent them away, not willing to put up with being watched like a specimen at a freakshow.
But Dame-Tsuna needed to see this.
Because Dame-Tsuna had trust issues, caused by his asshole of a father.
Reborn had always disliked Sawada Iemitsu. He had always thought the man extremely pretentious.
But the hitman had not know true hatred for the man until he had met Sawada Tsunayoshi.
It was completely maddening to Reborn, being able to see so clearly the man that Tsunayoshi could be (would be, in time), if only he had the proper support - the support which Iemitsu didn't know how to give.
But now, back on topic.
Sawada Tsunayoshi had trust issues.
Sawada Tsunayoshi was the type that took comfort in familiarity, and Reborn was nowhere near familiar to him at the moment. They would have to remedy that.
Because student and teacher had now reached a level where utmost trust in each other was a necessity.
Sitting up now, ignoring the aching of his sore limbs, Reborn looked over at his student, who tensed up at the sudden move.
"Here. Now," he barked, and Tsuna rushed to follow his orders, uncertainty in his eyes.
How Reborn hated seeing that uncertainty. It was something he was getting so close to destroying.
Tsuna was now standing next to Reborn's bed, shifting from foot to foot self-consciously.
"Sit," ordered Reborn, and the child gingerly took a seat on the edge of his bed.
All this carefulness was really beginning to get on Reborn's nerves. It was a different kind of carefulness from usual, the kind that was toxic rather than life-saving.
Once upon a time, Reborn would have wanted to smack his child upside the head for this (because Sawada Tsunayoshi was his child, no matter what anybody else said).
If he did that in his current body, however, it would surely cause much more damage than it was worth. There were a lot of things he'd been able to get away with before in his infant body, that he would not be able to now.
Grabbing Tsunayoshi's chin with one hand, he locked in place, forcing the brat to look at him.
Reborn caught and held his student's gaze, daring him silently to look away.
Reborn had always been proud of his eyes, and they had been his only solace, the only familiar thing he had while trapped inside that wretched infant body.
They maintained uninterrupted eye contact for three whole minutes before Reborn noticed his student's shoulders start to relax a bit, saw some familiarity come back into his gaze.
"This is me, Dame-Tsuna," he said quietly, letting go of Tsuna's chin. "Get used to it."
Tsuna stayed still for a moment, still staring into Reborn's eyes, before casting his gaze down to the Reborn's hand, now resting on the bed.
Reaching out, he grabbed the hand, laying it face-up in one of his palms.
It was much bigger than Tsuna's own, seeing as he was now physically about ten years older than the young Decimo.
With one finger, Tsuna traced the lines of Reborn's palms, then continued up, tracing the veins in his arms.
Reborn sat patiently, watching his student familiarize himself with his new body.
Letting go of his hands, Tsuna put both hands on Reborn's shoulders, slender yet firm.
Then, his hands went up to Reborn's face, to trace his jawline and tug at his sideburns.
Reborn was not at all surprised.
Tsuna had always been a very tactile person.
He understood things better through touch.
Watching Tsuna, seeing the way he was trying so hard to understand, Reborn felt an unexpected pang of regret.
This bright, bright boy.
He would have gone far.
But he had been dragged into the selfish world of the mafia.
And Reborn wouldn't say he wished things had turned out different.
Because Reborn was selfish.
And in the end, he knew that he, just like the rest of the world, needed Tsuna far more than Tsuna would ever need any of them.
And perhaps that was why he needed so badly for Tsuna to understand.
Their relationship would never be the way it had been before.
Their relationship before had been flawed and doomed from the beginning.
But if they tried hard enough, maybe they could build a better relationship.
One based more on mutual respect rather than equal parts fear and blind faith.
As dangerous a combination as ever there was.
Suddenly, Tsuna's wandering hands returned to his lap, and the child smiled.
And Reborn knew he had understood.
SkyGem: Wow. I adore this. Seriously guys. This came out extremely well, I think. It was a really interesting exercise for me, and I hope it was just as interesting for you guys. I haven't really had a chance to explore Reborn's character much before this, but now I'm glad I finally did. Please do leave a review and let me know what you thought, yeah? Ciao!