Epilogue: A Family Is…
What makes a family?
Ietsuna had been wondering that ever since he came to Namimori to see his older brother whom he never met.
And now in the weeks that he has stayed in Namimori, he decided to just simply wonder why his family was different and dysfunctional than the rest of his guardians (barring Gokudera, Lambo and Mukuro which is an entirely different story).
For the longest time, Ietsuna thought that his life was too over the top, and he was right in so many aspects that he wanted to run away and fade into the night every time he thinks about the non-stop social gatherings and whatnot that came with being the Vongola heir. He'd do anything to throw that title away, but he considered the people that he had formed bonds with over the course of his fourteen years of life, and of how it would affect them greatly if he deserts them in a single whim.
But for now, he would enjoy his last few days in Namimori like it was his last chance of a normal life.
"Tsuna-nii! Ahodera hit me again!" Lambo ran to Ietsuna with teary eyes.
Ietsuna sighed. "Lambo, you were sneaking some grape candies again, that's why Hayato hit you." He chided, "And Hayato, did you hit hard?" Ietsuna wondered to the silver haired teen.
"I just bonked him lightly on the head, Tenth. He started whining after that." He said nonchalantly, which was a sign that Hayato was telling the truth. Usually when he's at fault and making excuses, he would panic and fuss over anything the other party was trying to say.
Ietsuna had given Gokudera permission to punish Lambo as long as it was a valid reason. And this time, it was. Ietsuna had restricted Lambo to eat only two grape candies a day, and Gokudera had caught him trying to sneak in a third one before snack time.
"Ha ha! Gokudera caught you again, did he?" Takeshi asked with a smile on his face.
"Take-nii! I want grape candy!" Lambo whined.
"No can do kiddo. Ietsuna's orders, remember? If you want to be a good guardian, then you have to abide by his rules," Takeshi reminded him calmly. Ietsuna was glad that Takeshi could talk Lambo into doing something other than him. Heaven knows what Lambo could do when he is not around.
Lambo sniffed. "I guess so…"
Takeshi ruffled his afro, "Well, on the bright side, Yoshi-nii is making taiyaki in the kitchen! So you better save your tummy for that!"
At that information, Lambo's eyes brightened. "Really? Lambo-san will wait for Yoshi-nii's taiyaki then!" he said as he left the three to go to the kitchen to see Tsuna who was indeed preparing taiyaki for their afternoon snack.
The three sighed at the toddler. "Thanks for distracting him, Takeshi."
Takeshi laughed, "No problem! Everyone knows when a kid wants something he can't have anymore, you give him something he is yet to have," he informed. "And Yoshi-nii's cooking is enough of a reason to deter him from eating grape candy."
Ietsuna and Gokudera learned first-hand on how good Tsuna's Japanese desserts could be. Ietsuna's favorite might be his candy apple recipe where the candy tastes of persimmon which Tsuna grows at the garden of the vast property of the Tenri Clan connected to the shrine.
"I have to admit, Nii-san's food is good…Lambo might look for it once we're back in Italy…"
Silence reigned between the three.
They, along with Reborn, had avoided the topic of going back to Italy after the arrival of the Sawada couple—which is in just a few hours.
But now that it was nearing, no one can deny that they had to confront it sooner or later. And now would be a good time. Ietsuna sighed. "I don't know. My mind says stay here, but…I have a feeling that no matter what I do, Italy will still lure me in. Nii-san and I can't avoid my imminent duty forever." He muttered.
"No matter what, Ietsuna, you have to face it sooner or later." Yamamoto said. "I remember when Yoshi-nii wrote to me saying that he was given a choice to either live as a normal student or to take over the shrine after his aunts died two years ago…" he mentioned.
"He was?" Ietsuna asked.
Yamamoto nodded. "I don't really know the specifics since he only told me that much, and Kyouya-nii has always been a man of few words. You can tell what path he chose in the end,"
Ietsuna was about to ask more, but it seems that his brother had other plans. "Everyone! There's takoyaki here! Kyouya also brought some oolong tea! Get some before Kyouya, Reborn and Lambo-kun eats it all~!"
The issue forgotten for a while, and Yamamoto whooped with delight, "Oh yeah! Yoshi-nii's cooking!" he said as he ran towards the dining room, leaving behind a bewildered Ietsuna and Gokudera.
Gokudera shook his head. "Honestly, that guy acts like the stupid cow when food is concerned…"
Ietsuna merely laughed and turned to walk to the location too, "Come on. I don't want to lose to Lambo!"
"Y-You too Tenth?!" Gokudera stuttered.
"No one can resist Nii-san's cooking. Come on!" Ietsuna explained as he pulled the willing Storm to the inside of the house, hell-bent on not allowing Lambo to hog all the takoyaki.
And like that, the issue was completely forgotten again.
The wedding of Reitetsu and Mira was a very festive one. Held at the top of Namimori Mountain, the parents of the two pulled a lot of strings to make the celebration grand.
Ietsuna watched as the Ayakashi and the deities that were invited made merry on behalf of the wedded couple. He could tell that the connections and friendship of both families had been used well, and he was a bit wary of the deity that was near them.
Okuninushi, the patron god of the Izumo Province, and Inari Okami, the rice and fertility goddess herself were also present, much to their shock.
Apparently, Konosuke and Nekota had been acquainted with Okuninushi and had helped him in a scuffle once before they settled down in Namimori as its patron deities. He was also a frequent visitor of the two shrines and had exchanged words with Tsuna several times in the past with their aunts.
Inari Okami is the mistress of Konosuke, as he was her favorite messenger god in Namimori and had erected a shrine in her name. It was only right that she celebrates the wedding of his fifth offspring and congratulate him in making his connections broader by the union.
He shouldn't have been surprised at the fact that Tsuna had mingled with the deities and ayakashi since he grew up being raised as the next head priest of the Namimori Inari shrine, but the fact that his connection was this big was what surprised him. It seems that Tsuna literally has a life beyond the normal daily life in Namimori.
Now here he was, playing with some of the kids of Konosuke's eldest son, making sure that none of the four little kitsunes would get out of his sight.
"Yasuhiro, Azumane, be sure to watch the twins when they hide," Ietsuna reminded them.
"Yes~!" the two eldest kitsunes under his watch replied as they scurried off to the nearby play area for the kids.
Ietsuna chuckled as he remembered I-pin and Fuuta who were back in Italy, knowing that they might be missing him as well. He had called the other day, and the two kids were asking when he would get back so he could play with them with Lambo. Remembering that cracked his heart a little bit, knowing that those two were a bit lonely without him there.
He had met the four kids when they stopped by at the shrine while he and Tsuna were cleaning the shrine alone since he was the only one Tsuna trusted not to break anything in the prayer room. He was surprised when he was run over by four kids with fox ears and tails, thinking that he was his older brother. It seems that the young ones cannot remember a human's face until they sprout their third tail, and resorted in following the aura of the person they classify the human with. Since he and Tsuna were brothers, they had mistaken him for Tsuna. Surprisingly, Ietsuna found himself bonding with the 'cute' kids belonging to Konosuke's eldest son.
"Are you enjoying yourself?"
Ietsuna was taken out of his thoughts and turned to see the eldest son of Konosuke, Tatsuhiro, a kitsune. He has met Tatsuhiro the same day after Konosuke threw a fit about Mira Reitetsu being married to Mira to calm him down. Apparently, his mother had sent him to talk some sense into him as the cat deity was quite busy with wedding preparations with Mira's mother to be bothered with her lover throwing a childish tantrum.
"Tatsuhiro-san…yes, of course I'm enjoying." Ietsuna said as he glanced at his brother who was talking with Okuninushi like they were close friends. Out of all the guests of the wedding, the only mortals that were invited were the Hibari and Tenri Clans' main families, which means Kyouya and his parents Hibari Shige and Hanami, and Tsuna and he are present. Reborn and the others were left to watch over the house much to the disappointment of some. "Although, Konosuke-san is not that happy when he glances at Mira-san's way,"
Tatsuhiro laughed. "Well, while Mother and my siblings all think that Reitetsu picked a good one, Father still resents the fact that he's being stolen by Mira, even though we all saw it coming. He'll come around when they start popping up some offspring," he said. "I know he did when my first brood were born," he said as he pointed at the identical twins who are already in adult form pulling pranks on their peers at one corner of the place. The only indication that they were not fully human were their animal ears and tails. "Although sometimes, they are more trouble than they're worth." He said with an amused smile.
"I see…" Ietsuna muttered.
"What's wrong?" Tatsuhiro asked, sensing that something was up with him.
Ietsuna shook his head. "It's just…no matter who your children are, who they married and how they seem to sometimes be at odds with each other…you still treat each other as family," he admitted.
"Ah, I see where you're going," Tatsuhiro stated. He then pointed at the gloomy-faced nekomata that Ietsuna recognized as Konosuke and Nekota's middle child and only daughter, Shirayuki. Out of all of their five offspring, Shirayuki was the only daughter of the two deities and the one who vowed to be eternally single. But still, Shirayuki seemed to be enjoying babysitting the second son, Shirofumi's mizuchi daughter along with their second youngest brother, a nekomata, Masahiro. "I'd advise you to take a look at Shirayuki for that. She was the only girl born to our parents, but did she resent it? Of course not. She saw it as an advantage to stand out and out-sneak us in any way she could think of. Call it a trait that she got from Mother. In terms of your situation, well, Nana will reap what she sowed. No family is perfect, no matter how hard she tries to make one."
Ietsuna nodded. "And in effect…her goal of creating a perfect normal family failed when Nii-san and I were born with the Sight that she never got."
"But to be honest, no matter what she did, she is still your biological mother. No one can change that. You'd be surprised what Tsuna had as a mindset to cope with the pain of knowing that he was abandoned because of a rare gift." Tatsuhiro said with a sigh. "Well, on our case, we love our family members because they are what makes us who we are. When they are in trouble, we help them the best way we can, and when they do a heinous crime, well, justice is always above everything else in what we stand for and we allow them to be punished because it's a way for them to learn that what they did was something they cannot get out of easily. That's my opinion anyway,"
Ietsuna was silent, processing all that Tatsuhiro had told him. "Thank you for telling me this,"
Tatsuhiro smiled. "No problem." He said as he left Ietsuna to get back to tormenting his new brother-in-law.
Tsuna smiled as he saw his little brother having fun with babysitting. He had always wondered if Ietsuna was more cut out to be a kindergarten teacher rather than a mafia boss, with the way he takes care of Lambo and the children that visits the shrine sometimes, both human and ayakashi.
"Tsunayoshi, your brother seems to be interesting," Okuninushi commented as the god eyed the younger of the brothers. "Fated to become a leader of an underground organization, and yet, he does not look sinister, not in the least,"
"Ironic, isn't it?" Tsuna replied. "He's set to go back in two weeks' time,"
"A pity," Inari Okami muttered under the sleeve of her kimono, "That boy still has a chance of a normal life away from the mafia, and yet, he still chose the path?"
Okuninushi chuckled, "I would think that he never took that chance because he knew he had to do something to make of himself. One does not simply choose to hide behind the shadow of his older sibling, isn't it?"
Inari Okami nodded in agreement. "It would seem so. Tsunayoshi is one of the most powerful priests alongside young Kyouya," she stated. "No one could really blame him if he became jealous of his spiritual powers,"
"And that is what I don't want for him to do," Tsuna said. "All I want him to do is to choose what he feels is right for himself, and not for other people…"
"And if he still chooses to be in the mafia?" Konosuke asked.
Tsuna looked at his little brother, "Then I will honor his decision, knowing that he made the choice for himself."
"Nii-san?" Ietsuna called out as they walked down the mountain after leaving the wedding reception.
"What is it Ietsuna?" Tsuna wondered.
Ietsuna stopped walking, and so did Tsuna. "When our aunts died two years ago…you were given a choice, right?"
Tsuna's eyes widened for a fraction before he replied. "Yes." he answered. "I was the last known eligible person to inherit the shrine and the post. It looked like I had no choice, but I had one. I could have handed the shrine to a branch family, a distant relative of ours who also possesses the Sight, but I thought about the fact that our aunts had prepared me for this for a long time."
His statement somehow struck a chord in Ietsuna, the words of his grandfather figure, Timoteo, rang in his head.
"I wish I was able to protect you from inheriting such a position in a world like this. But as it stands…your decision will be considered in the end whether you want to take the position or not. It is your birthright, but it is up to you if you would take it."
"Why are our fates so alike?" he wondered as he stopped walking. Tsuna did as well after he said it.
"You were given the same option by the Ninth, weren't you?" when Ietsuna looked away, he knew that he was right. Sighing, Tsuna turned to a corner, "Come, I want to show you something," he said as he walked along again, but this time, not to the route home.
Silence reigned between them again as Ietsuna followed his brother somewhere between the woods. He noticed from the treetops, some ayakashi peering at them, but Tsuna paid them no heed. Ietsuna could hear some of them having drinking parties in some places beyond their sight.
In the end, they went to a part of the forest where a large lake was at, its waters reflecting the sky adorned with hundreds—if not—millions of stars above.
"I come here every night when I have something to think about." Tsuna said as he took a seat at a fallen hollow tree trunk at the front of the pond. He pat a space on it, signaling Ietsuna to sit beside him. "I remember two years ago, when Tsuyoshi-san was still my guardian after our aunts died…" he said, mentioning Takeshi's father. "I used to drive him crazy when I disappear in my room in the evening and come back at midnight, asking me where I've been. I said to him I was in a place where I could think, and that it was safe from other ayakashi who wanted to swallow me whole." Tsuna chuckled at the memory.
"And this is the place you were talking about?" Ietsuna asked.
"Yes," Tsuna said. "Nishiki-obaasama and Nuriko-obaasama used to share this place when they were younger. Since they were twins, they did a lot of stuff together, and kept it as a secret just between the two of them. They first brought me here when I entered elementary school, and we used to have picnics here during our birthdays." Ietsuna noticed that his smile turned sad, "The last time I was here was two years ago, when I thought about either becoming the head priest of the shrine, or live a normal life as a normal teenaged orphan taken in by the Yamamoto family."
Ietsuna didn't need to know that he chose the former. "Why…why did you choose to be the head priest then?" he asked him. "Anyone would want a normal life, if it could get you away from the things you were told to shoulder…"
Tsuna chuckled, "I wish it was that simple."
Leaning back to look at the starry sky, Tsuna sighed before he explained. "It's not just whether I like the position or not. I also have to consider what would happen to the shrine if it ends with our aunts. Tradition matters, especially to the Tenri Clan. We are not known to run away from what we should do. Besides, I was happy with the fact that I could do something for the people in Namimori, like create fortunes, for one,"
"Didn't you feel…you know…restrained?" Ietsuna had always felt like he was in a cage during his younger years. He was always considered as the fifth in line for the title, and was raised as one. Now that he was the first in line to the title, his chains got tighter and tighter. The only respite of his in having those thoughts was his lessons with Reborn.
Tsuna shook his head, "There were times I felt that way in the early parts, but all in all, I didn't feel like I should do things because it is expected of me, but it's because it is what I should do, and it's the right thing. In the end, I realized I rather enjoyed doing those things. There was always something new about the world of the ayakashi every single day. I seem to remember almost getting eaten by one when I just started, but I was fine in the end. After all, I had Konosuke with me to guide me on what I should do." He looked back at Ietsuna, "Like what Reborn is to you,"
Ietsuna snorted, "Half the time, I think Reborn is trying to kill me on a daily basis," he smiled when Tsuna's lip quirked up. "But you're right. Even if I didn't really want the position in the first place, the process had made me get real friends, and I got stronger to protect them thanks to Reborn,"
"If you have the will to protect those precious to you, I don't think you're making a mistake in what you entered yourself into." He stated. "Let me tell you something our aunts said to me once: the moment you were born, you were destined for great things like our two ancestors. Tenri Nadeshiko was just a simple orphan before she became Konosuke's priestess, and look, she built the Inari shrine in the name of Konosuke, one of the messengers of Inari Okami." He informed him while standing up, "And I bet that all you need now is a boost in the right direction,"
"So you're saying…"
"Whatever choice you make, you must let it come from your heart. That's the key to everything when you are given a choice. Set aside your thoughts about duties and traditions and listen to it." Tsuna advised. "I listened to it two years ago, and I did not regret a single thing since that day."
With that, Ietsuna smiled. "Thanks Nii-san,"
Tsuna smiled in return. "Come on, let's get back before it gets darker."
The two brothers then proceeded to their normal path to the shrine, all the while, Ietsuna had decided what to do with his future.
If his older brother could take up a mantle of responsibility, then there is no stopping him for doing the same.
A few days later
"Are you really sure you want to go in there with just the two of you, Master?" Basil asked his master as he looked at him and his wife exit the car. They had just arrived in Namimori from Tokyo, and had just entered the town's borders. For some reason, their requirements to enter the town was quite strict. Basil could swear that he saw some delinquents milling around, assisting the officials assigned to the border security of the place and helping out the tourists with directions and whatnot, but that could just be his imagination.
Sawada Iemitsu nodded. "If it's just my wife and I, then that would at least put Tsunayoshi at ease that there are no outsiders. He might still be mad, and we wouldn't want you to see when he gets angry," he advised.
Basil nodded in understanding, "I understand, Master. Shall we drop you off at the steps?"
"Please do," Iemitsu replied. It had been years since he has seen his eldest son. The last time was when he was a year old, when they had entrusted Nana's sisters with his care. The boy had shown strange powers that not even the mafia is familiar of. Nana had explained that Tsuna was born with the Tenri Clan family trait, the Sight, where one can see the spiritual beings of the world. That explained why Tsuna always seemed to be playing with someone when he was left alone most of the time. He was playing with the spirits that normal people couldn't see, and Nana had somehow resented it.
So when she suggested that they leave Tsuna under the care of his sisters who also share the same abilities, Iemitsu didn't need any more reason to disagree with her.
He knew that she was fearful of the power that was inside their son. While it was not the child's fault, there was little he could do. Sure he signed custody papers to leave Tsuna to Nana's sisters, but deep in him, he still longs to see the boy that he never managed to meet for the rest of his life.
He didn't realize that he should have acted upon that desire the moment his wife suggested leaving Tsuna to be raised by a family that has cut all ties with them.
"I never thought I would come back here…" Nana muttered as she looked at the car window, looking at the place full of contempt.
"They're all set?" Kyouya asked Tsuna.
Tsuna was at the table with Kyouya drinking tea while the others played with Lambo. Reborn had disappeared again, probably training in one of the uninhabited parts of the Tenri property, just a few miles from the Inari Shrine.
Tsuna nodded. "We packed their things last night, and their plane tickets are scheduled tonight, taking a red-eye flight," he informed.
The older teen sighed, "So he chose to just go up and leave?"
"Not really," Tsuna stated. "He wants to be in contact with me after this, and he promises that he would visit along with the others when things in Italy calms down for him."
Kyouya smiled and stared at Ietsuna and his guardians, "At least we could be assured that Takeshi and Kyoko are well taken care of,"
"Same goes for me."
"But when Kyoko returns home as well, the two of them will have a lot of explaining to do with hiding this from us." Kyouya said with a sigh.
Tsuna chuckled. "All of us are protective of the two of them since we grew up together. I understand why you're a bit upset that they entered into a world that is full of danger and bloodshed…" he stated. "But…during the early days of Namimori, the Tenri and Hibari clans also clashed swords with outsiders,"
"Yes, but not the head priests. That was the job of the other members of the family and the warrior clans of Namimori," Kyouya stated. "I do hope that they would understand the meaning of taking someone's life."
"We both know we can't prevent that from happening. It's in their blood."
"Hn." Was Kyouya's only reply.
A rather distant person Kyouya may be, all of them know that he does care about a lot of people in his life, and that included him, Takeshi, Kyoko, Ryohei and his cousin Tetsuya. These said people also understood how the young Hibari heir thinks, and rather appreciates his concerns when he voices it out. Tsuna had a first-hand experience about it when he was being bullied when they were in middle school after all.
Tsuna felt a slight twinge in his forehead the moment the talismans within five hundred miles radius from the shrine detected something.
There was someone detestable coming, and Tsuna didn't like it one bit. He took one glance at his fellow priest, and the two made instant eye contact.
Hibari read his alarmed eyes immediately, and he instantly knew that the visitors who triggered the talismans were them.
Standing up from their position, the two left the room to go outside.
The only one who noticed them leave was Takeshi, who knew that the talisman had been triggered. His abilities he inherited may be weaker than the two of them who were born into the two major clans, but he could still sense things because of his blood as the protector of the Tenri Clan.
It had been an ancient story, but the relationships between the Tenri Clan, and Yamamoto Clan had been like the relationship between the Hibari, Kusakabe and Sasagawa Clans. All clans are loyal to each other, protecting them and defending each and every one of them as long as it is within their line of justice and goals. But no one can argue that the two clans had a servant-master relationship, as the very first Yamamoto had been Tenri Nadeshiko's protector even before she had become the priestess of Konosuke, the fox deity.
As he felt the signals the talismans were sending the shrine, Yamamoto had a suspicion that the ones who triggered it was none other than the parents of Tsunayoshi and Ietsuna.
Iemitsu and Nana arrived at the foot of the shrine staircase when they felt a foreboding air around the shrine.
"Iemitsu…" Nana let out after she recovered from the air around the bottom of the stairs.
"Yeah. Something is up with this place…" Iemitsu agreed.
"No…" Nana said, "This foreboding feeling is the miasma spread by the shrine to discourage those who wish to mean the place harm…or to keep certain people away…" she muttered.
It was then when the two of them saw a figure descending the stairs. The sunrays prevented them from seeing the face of the person as he descended, but they could make up the figure of a teenager wearing a kimono and orange hakama. When they got a closer look at him as the sunrays were blocked by his brown hair, they only stared at the boy.
He looked very familiar, as if he was…
"Tsu-kun!" Nana said in surprise, not really believing that the person in front of her could be her eldest son.
Instead of a greeting, the boy merely spoke coldly, sending shivers down their spines. "Are you referring to me, or Ietsuna?"
The Sawada couple were shocked upon hearing the response. That could only mean one thing: in front of them was the child that they had abandoned when he was nothing but a toddler.
"Tsuna…" Iemitsu addressed.
Tsuna looked at them with a neutral face, "It's a surprise that you still remember my name."
Iemitsu stared dumbstruck at the teenager in front of them this was what their eldest son had become? A simple priest of a shrine that held immense supernatural energy? Even if he looked like an average priest, any perceptive person can sense the immense spiritual power of the child, an aura that he once felt from Tenri Nishiki and Tenri Nuriko.
Nana was no novice in sensing the spiritual energy of her surroundings. Her only flaw was that it was not enough for her to see the Ayakashi like his sisters and parents do, and that made her resentful and bitter until now. She had envied what her sisters had, and she felt isolated by the gods for not bestowing upon her the Sight. It was a rare gift to have, she knew, but that doesn't mean that she should just take it in a stride. The only ones who do not possess the Sight in the Tenri Clan were those of the branch families whose blood were diluted from the numerous outside marriages from those who are not spiritually powerful or faithful in the Shinto religion.
But Nana was not a distant relative nor was she unfaithful to the religion. So why forsake her the ability that her sisters were blessed with? She couldn't understand why.
And now that she had seen her son with the same aura as her sisters after over a decade, she frowned as the old bitter jealousy in her returned. "I see that you have become the head priest of the shrine." She said with contempt.
Tsuna, for all he was worth, was trying to rein in his anger and resentment towards the woman who dared call herself his mother. "I see you still hadn't gotten over the fact that your son had the Sight and skipped you." He said scathingly.
Nana inwardly admitted that what her son said hurt, but she held her ground. There was no way she would allow herself to be undermined by a child that came from her. "Talking back to your own parents. What had my sisters taught you over the years?"
At that statement, Nana shivered as she saw her son's eyes narrow, complete anger coursing through those caramel eyes that she incited herself. "For one thing, how to judge whether a person is worthy of being a priest of Namimori's Inari shrine, and what it means to be a member of the Tenri Clan."
Before she could say anything, another teenager who looked a lot like Kusakabe Hanami and Hibari Shige, descended the stairs from behind Tsuna. "Tsunayoshi, your aura is getting tainted with anger. Rein it in." he warned. He then looked at the Sawada couple. "Ah, I see you decided to pick up the freeloaders,"
"What do you mean freeloaders?" Tsuna asked with a raised brow, "They're guests, except for Ietsuna. He deserves to be here," he corrected.
"With that hitman coming as a package deal? I think not. I tolerate the hitman as it is." Kyouya replied. "That bomber too. I don't like the fact that he smells of gunpowder."
"What about Lambo?" Tsuna asked innocently.
"The cow child, I can tolerate." Kyouya replied, "But our new arrivals…" he looked back at them. "Well, it is up to you to proceed. Invite them to the receiving room, or make them turn around."
"True." Tsuna agreed. He then turned to them, "Many would find it as a courtesy to tell the host when you would arrive specifically, and not show up at our doorstep so suddenly. Had our wards not warned us, we would be unprepared for your arrival." He stated. "But still, it's too late to do that now. Follow me to the receiving room," he said as he and Kyouya turned.
"I will go on ahead and instruct them where to go." Kyouya whispered to him.
Tsuna nodded. "Alright."
Iemitsu and Nana looked at each other, wondering what was up with the two teenagers, but chose to follow them anyway.
The first one who noticed Kyouya return was Ietsuna. "Instructions from Tsunayoshi. All of us will go to the private room." He announced.
"The private room?" Ietsuna asked him. "Since when did a shrine have a private room?"
Takeshi laughed. "A funny story actually," he told them. "A few generations ago, a Hibari married into the Tenri clan. That Hibari was an investigator and a very busy woman, and that room served as the private room for getting some peace and quiet from all the ruckus that the Tenri children are all known for when they all band together. That was then modified to accustom their daughter looking for a potential husband. Noise from inside the room cannot be heard, but the person inside the private room can hear all conversations from the receiving room. That way, the daughter can hear what her parents and potential husband are talking about."
"Talk about stingy in marriage choice…" Ietsuna muttered.
"Back then, old Japanese customs are still put into practice. It's not really strange that even the daughters are stingy with their choice of husbands as men are with looking for wives." Gokudera explained to him. "Basically, marriages in those days have the sequence of marriage first before falling in love."
"No further explanation needed…" Ietsuna muttered as he and the others followed Kyouya and Takeshi to the interrogation room of the house.
When Tsuna and his guests had arrived at the main living room, there was already tea prepared at the kotatsu.
"Ah, I see that the helpers served us tea in advance," Tsuna said with a monotonous tone. "Please have a seat." He said and the two followed. "Do you want some green tea?"
"We won't be here long. We are just here to pick up Ietsuna," Iemitsu started, refusing the offer.
Tsuna tilted his head, "Shouldn't you be accepting the offer before getting down to business, as what is proper for someone getting inside the house of the Tenri Clan?" Tsuna asked them coldly. "I thought that your wife had given you the rundown on the rules, as this is the third time that you had stepped into the grounds of the shrine and house."
Nana stared at her eldest son, "I am still a member of the Tenri Clan. I have every right to be in this property as much as you are,"
Tsuna smirked, "If you are still a member of the Tenri Clan." He said. When he saw the shocked face of his mother, he continued while Kyouya was just silently amused at the dropping of the bomb. "While it is true that blood is everything when it comes to the rights of this property, that is only applicable to those who did not abandon the traditions and beliefs of the family, and you, Sawada Nana, had been cast off the family registry."
Nana stared at the official copy of the family registry of the Tenri clan of Namimori. Nana knew that the Tenri Clan held a lot of influence all over the country. The Tenri name can get a person everywhere at the mere use of it. To lose such a privilege, well, Nana had never thought of it until now.
"You took me off the registry?" Nana demanded.
Tsuna shook his head. "Correction, Nishiki-obaasama had taken you out of the registry a day after you had relinquished all possible custody regarding me fifteen years ago. As it stands, you have no right to demand anything from me, or the family entirely." He informed. "Don't believe me? Check the town hall for a copy of the family registry. There is the proof that the only Tenri women of this generation are Tenri Nishiki and Tenri Nuriko. No one bearing the name of Tenri Nana longer exists."
"What about Ietsuna?" Iemitsu asked cordially, making sure not to step on a possible landmine that could be anywhere.
Tsuna smiled at the concern of the man. While he faulted the two of them from relinquishing all claims to him, Tsuna remembers enough that his father at least took care of him and spoiled him as often as he can even after finding out that he possessed the Sight. "Of course, the only one cast out of the family is her. Ietsuna has been added to the registry the moment we found out of his existence. He does not share the same mindset as her, and as the Tenri blood is active in him, he is more than worthy to be in our family tree."
Nana glared at him. "Ietsuna does not have the Sight."
Tsuna raised a brow, "Oh? Then can you tell me how much of him have you seen his entire life?" he challenged. "I happened to hear from Ietsuna that the both of you are sometimes gone for months, for as long as he could remember. To make up for it, you shower him with luxury that he didn't want. Pretty bad parenting if you ask me."
Iemitsu looked at his son, "Tsuna, you don't understand. Your mother and I are involved in a business that is not meant for you to know about it given your abilities that is unusual in our world…"
"Oh I know all about the mafia." Tsuna said, shocking the two. "Involving your son in the mafia just because he is a potential candidate to succeed as boss because of your bloodline and the fact that you thought he did not possess the Sight…well, I'm not someone who can speak for him." He shrugged. "The fact is, Ietsuna does indeed have the Sight. Powerful enough to exude his aura that is also befitting a mafia boss. I'd say it's a win-win situation."
"How could this happen? I saw him grow up and not once had he shown any signs of having it!" Nana exclaimed, not believing Tsuna in the slightest.
"It goes to show that you spend little time with the son that you kept." Tsuna shot back.
When Iemitsu saw his wife about to explode, he held her shoulder. "Nana, calm down." Iemitsu instructed. The woman nodded, but continued to give Tsuna the displeased eye. "Tsuna, I understand why the two of you manifested the Sight at birth, but from my knowledge, it isn't supposed to be that powerful before one has come to their maturity. That is what scared your mother and had recommended that we leave you to your aunts to raise."
At his question, Tsuna smiled. "Oh, we have your bloodline to thank you for that,"
"My bloodline?" Iemitsu asked.
"Yes." Tsuna confirmed. "The blood of the Vongola Primo, known here in Namimori as Sawada Ieyatsu who possessed the Hyper Intuition, as you all call it, had merged with the Tenri blood whose family members—well, at least some of them—possess strong supernatural abilities that a man could only imagine its extent. Normally, only one bloodline would be active for the child to access, but imagine what could happen if both of them are up and running." He informed.
Iemitsu's eyes widened, "And in other words…"
"In other words, you just sired two children who has both bloods active in a single generation, namely, Ietsuna and I." he said with a smirk, "You're a pretty lucky bastard in terms of children, though I can't say the same in terms of your marriage choice," he praised, not looking at his mother's way at all.
Silence reigned in the room for a while until Iemitsu broke it, "Then…why are you telling us this?" he asked.
Tsuna eyed his tea, "Just to make things clear, I am still cross with the both of you for leaving me here and relinquishing all claims to me as your son the moment you found out that I was born with the Sight. But I am still an older brother, and I figured you had the right to know just what Ietsuna is capable of doing. After all, he will be a future mafia boss, and I intend for him to survive until he reaches an old age like the current boss." He informed. "I cannot prevent him from going back into the mafia world, but I can compromise about how much he would involve himself in the mafia, and in the world of civilians."
"Who are you to demand such a thing from us?!" Nana shouted as she stood from where she sat. "You're just a child who has known no idea what the mafia is!"
Tsuna's eyes stared at her sharply. "I am the older brother deprived of protecting his younger brother because of your selfish choices, Sawada Nana. You'd best be silent right now before I do something I will not regret, but would endanger you gravely." He warned. "Remember, Konosuke is not very forgiving to those who hurt his priests."
Nana restrained herself from doing something she would regret. She remembered the story of the last person who dared lay a hand on Konosuke's head priest, her great grandfather Tenri Akatsuki. The man had been brutally murdered in front of the shrine by a jealous former lover who has been left by him over his wife. "You dare threaten me?"
"I can't say I dare. I am threatening you."
"You are nothing but a child who holds a grudge for being abandoned! I admit that a day hasn't passed that I ever regretted not just simply placing you in an orphanage rather than to your aunts!"
Tsuna looked at her, resentment now evident in his eyes, but his face remained neutral. "And that's why you would never be good enough," he said. "What do you think, Ietsuna?"
As he said that, the sliding door behind them opened, revealing all the people in the house looking at Sawada Nana with contempt, most especially Ietsuna. "I think we should get back…" Ietsuna sighed. He looked at his older brother apologetically. Then he turned at Iemitsu, "Dad, let me just get my luggage and we can go."
"Alright." Iemitsu recognized that trait of Ietsuna's when he gets too angry: he ignores the person who upset him, and this time, it was directed at Nana.
Tsuna stood up as he turned to leave the room, "Takeshi and Hayato will see the three of you off. You know the way. I have things to attend to,"
"Iemitsu-san," Takeshi said, "Hayato and I will be returning to Italy next week. Lambo will be going with Ietsuna today," he said, speaking also for Hayato who was still speechless from the outburst of the Sawada matriarch.
And with that, the teenagers and Lambo left the room, leaving behind Iemitsu and Nana alone in the room.
Nana was still looking at where her youngest son disappeared to with Tsuna, staring at the door in shock. Iemitsu knew that it was time to have a talk with his wife.
"Nana, what you did earlier was bordering on rude to the owner of the place." He lectured. "You shouldn't have run your mouth about this matter."
"That child was disrespectful!" Nana defended. "He should have enough respect not to say scathing words like that."
"They are scathing because they are true." Iemitsu stated. "Nana, if you still hold on to the grudge of you not having what our sons and your sisters are born with, you would lose the affection of Ietsuna. Remember that."
Nana glared at her husband, "Why are you taking their side?"
"I am taking no one's side. You are in the wrong here this time, and you need to realize that before your relationship with your sons self-destruct. I for one, intend to reconnect with Tsuna whether it takes me all eternity to do." As Iemitsu said that, he turned and left his wife in the receiving room to contact Basil to wait for them at the bottom of the steps. Unbeknownst to them, Nekota was watching the entire conversation, a smirk evident on her face as she looked victoriously at the angry Nana.
"Well, well, well, at least Ieyatsu's descendant came to his senses…" she muttered.
After leaving the room, Ietsuna felt that he had to rush to Tsuna's room. He just had a bad feeling that the calm expression that Tsuna had exuded earlier was somewhat strange for him. With the knowledge that he resented his parents, with their mother having more fault than their father, Tsuna was bound to be seething inside.
When he arrived at the front of Tsuna's room, the first thing he heard was sobbing. Feeling dread inside, he immediately slid open his door to see Tsuna in the arms of Konosuke, crying.
"Nii-san…" Ietsuna called as he ran to be beside his brother. He could see that he was shaking and sobbing in Konosuke's leg, while the deity was rubbing circles on his back.
"I thought I would be strong enough to face them without me ending up crying because of what that woman said…" Tsuna muttered.
Konosuke growled. "That woman…up to this day, I still wonder why she was born into this clan. She's not a proper mother for you, Tsuna,"
"She's not a proper mother for anyone." Ietsuna answered, surprising the fox deity. "But for what it's worth…I'm sorry you had to hear that from her…after all, she is still my mother…"
At that, Tsuna sat up properly and wiped some tears that stained his face. He smiled at his little brother. "You don't have to apologize in her stead. It's just…I never thought, after all these years, I would be affected by the words she would say." He confessed. "That doesn't matter now that I have said my piece and incited her as I intended to,"
"I'm glad," Ietsuna said. "Are you going to see me off then?"
Tsuna shook his head, saddening the younger boy, "I can't, but Takeshi, and Hayato would. Reborn informed me before they came that he would be waiting on them when they arrive back to their car."
"I see…" Ietsuna mumbled sadly.
Tsuna chuckled and gave him a poke on the forehead, "Creases on your forehead will do nothing but bring you wrinkles when you grow old." He lectured slightly. "We'll see each other again—that is, if you still want to,"
"Of course I do!" Ietsuna said, "I'm not someone who would search for someone and then forget them so easily!" he defended.
Tsuna laughed, "I know," he embraced Ietsuna, "I'll miss you and Lambo making noise in the house though," he muttered. "But I at least have Gokudera-kun to keep me company until the next weekend,"
Ietsuna smiled as he returned the embrace, "I'll e-mail and write to you as much as I can,"
"Looking forward to it." Tsuna replied as he gave something to Ietsuna. Ietsuna looked at the trinket in his hand and smiled.
"Thank you," he breathed out.
Tsuna simply smiled and sent Ietsuna on his way, leaving him in his room with Konosuke.
When Ietsuna had gotten at the bottom of the stairs of the shrine, he saw that his mother was inside the car, and his father and Reborn were conversing with each other. Takeshi and Hayato were also there, trying to load the luggage belonging to Lambo while keeping him calm, the child whining about not wanting to leave 'Yoshi-nii' in the house alone.
When Lambo spotted him, he immediately hopped from Takeshi's arms and ran towards Ietsuna, catching almost everyone's attention. "Tsuna-nii! Are we really leaving Yoshi-nii's place?" at his statement, those outside were now looking at Ietsuna for his answer.
Ietsuna knew that his father was waiting for a 'no' from him. Coming to Namimori had been an impulse, and he knew that once he gets back to Italy, he was going to receive a reprimanding of a lifetime—not that he cared anymore. He simply patted Lambo's hair and smiled. "It will just be for a while. If you are a good kid, then we would get to see Nii-san again soon,"
Ietsuna looked back at the top of the shrine, were Tsuna, Kyouya and Konosuke could be seen staring at them from the top. He found himself smiling. "That's a promise."
Ten Years Later
"Ietsuna, where are you taking me?" a woman asked as she looked at her driving fiancé through his hometown.
Ietsuna smiled, "I want you to meet someone special to me this Christmas." He said simply.
"I already met your guardians, parents and Reborn. Who else do I have to meet?" she wondered. "Though you never tell me anything about what you do here in Japan."
It had been a surprise to her one week ago when he had shown up at her apartment, handing her a plane ticket to Japan. She knew that her husband-to-be always goes there every chance he gets, especially when they were still students, but not the reason why. Her older brother had warned her that he might have someone in Japan who is in an amorous relationship with him other than her. Ietsuna's guardians were also tight-lipped about their doings in Japan, which had led to a lot of misunderstandings in the past, with one particular incident leading Ietsuna to the ER at one point.
Taking his hand off from the steering wheel, he grabbed her hand and kissed it, eyes still looking at the road, "Don't worry Mami, like I told you before the incident, this is not something to be jealous about. Actually, I rather think you would be thrilled," he hinted.
"You know I don't like not knowing things," Mami chided lightly.
"So you do, but this is a surprise, alright?"
"You're lucky I love you too much, Ietsuna," she said, relenting to her fiancé's wishes.
With that, Ietsuna drove the rented car to the other side of Namimori, and stopped at the foot of the stairs of a shrine. Mami looked at the tori which read, 'Inari Shrine of Namimori' in large characters. She saw a similar shrine at the entrance of Namimori as well, though that one was a Nekoma shrine.
"A shrine?" Mami said as she looked back at Ietsuna, who was now gathering their things from the back of the car.
"Mm hmm," was his curt reply. "Shall we go up? The others are already here,"
Mami figured that the 'others' he was talking about were his guardians who had disappeared just the other day, only to find out that they had taken the next jet to who-knows-where. Now she knew that they all went ahead to this place.
"Tell me, what is important about this place?" she wondered as the two of them ascended the stairs.
"Very important," he replied. "Had I not ended up here, then we wouldn't have had any vacations planned here every year for the past ten years,"
"Ten years? You mean the one where a leak had happened?"
"Pretty much, but we managed to silence those who dared pry into our affairs with the help of Reborn. No biggie. What's important is that we have to hurry up or Lambo will eat all the homemade food here…"
At that, Mami giggled, "You two were quite the gluttons, I see,"
"Only to this person's cooking, which is why we have to hurry up before it's all gone."
When they arrived at the top of the shrine, Mami stared in awe at the residence that was located just next to the large shrine dedicated to Inari Okami. Born and raised in Italy but of Japanese descent, Mami barely knew anything about Japanese folklore, so everything was a bit new to her.
Ietsuna led them to the entrance of the house connecting the shrine, and they instantly heard voices.
"Takeshi-nii! Save some for me!"
"Haha! You win some, you lose some Lambo!"
"You two idiots cut it out or I'll blow the two of you up!"
"Not in this place Hayato-san!"
"Onii-chan not you too! Remember the rules!"
"Kyoko, silence your friends and brother or I will not be responsible for what will happen to them and their faces,"
"Kufufu, why are you always like this when it comes to food?"
Mami looked back at Ietsuna, "Are they…?"
"Yep. They're already here," Ietsuna replied with a smile as he reached for the door and slid it open. The two of them got in the entrance and he called out loud. "We're here!"
Ietsuna and Mami deduced that the noise was coming from the receiving room at the right of the house, which was the biggest room in the house. Placing the bags down on the corner of the entryway, he led Mami to the room.
What they saw was the usual noise that they make, Mami felt a semblance of familiarity rather than strange at the sight of the guardians bickering, though there were two people that she did not know personally. There was a man with white blond spiky hair that looked like a flat lawn (no offense intended) and stern looking man in a kimono and purple hakama looking like he wanted to kill the noisy ones in the room.
"Ah! Ietsuna, Mami," Takeshi greeted them. "The flight went well then?"
"Yeah. Feniche is good as gold."
"Got to love the Boss Jet," Lambo mused. "How do you like Namimori so far, Mami-nee?"
"I haven't really seen much since we arrived. Ietsuna was very eager to shove me in the car and drive here," Mami said as she looked back at the sheepish Ietsuna scratching the back of his neck.
When Ietsuna scanned the room, He instantly noticed someone missing. "Hey, where is…"
"Out. Went to buy refreshments since your lot decided to empty the whole cooler." The stern man said. "Is this your intended?"
"The way you say it makes it a bit too formal…" Ietsuna muttered, but when he received a sharp look from the man, he immediately stilled and introduced her, "Mami, this is Hibari Kyouya. He's the head priest of the Nekomata shrine at the entrance of Namimori. He's also the childhood friend of the person I want you to meet,"
The man, now named as Kyouya, bowed in acknowledgement and sized her up, "Ietsuna has always talked about you. I hope this place satisfies you and your curiosity." He said with a ghostly smile.
"I'm not so ill-informed that I did not know that you had been in an accident because of the whole secrecy," Kyouya said. "That person reacted enough for me to know how serious that affair was,"
Mami looked back at Ietsuna, "This person, Ietsuna, don't tell me that this person is an ex of yours?"
At the horrified face of Ietsuna and amused look from Kyouya, Mami knew that was not the case. Ietsuna laughed at the notion instead, "Hell no! That would be considered illegal!"
"What is illegal?"
Mami heard a mellow voice from right behind them. The people turned to look at the person who spoke. At that moment, Mami's heart fluttered when he saw a person with long brown hair tied in a low ponytail by an orange ribbon. He had the most beautiful caramel eyes she had ever seen. He was wearing a kimono and orange hakama. The facial structure of the person was what amazed her the most, for Mami saw a bit of Ietsuna in them. Both of their eyes screamed of untapped power that she could never put into words. The man's aura was very calming, as if being near him is peace and harmony personified.
"Tsunayoshi, took you long enough," she heard Kyouya say as he took the bags of refreshments that the person was holding. Now Mami knew that this person was an effeminate man. At first glance, you would think that he was a she from the facial structure and lithe form alone, though he was at least an inch shorter than Ietsuna.
"Konosuke distracted me for a while before going to Reitetsu-san and Mira-san's place to see his grandkids." He explained.
His eyes then trailed to Mami especially, making her blush, "Ietsuna, is this the person you want me to meet?" she wondered.
Ietsuna smiled, "Yeah. This is Kozato Mami, my fiancée .Mami, I would like you to meet Tenri Tsunayoshi, the head priest of the Inari shrine, and my older brother."
Mami's eyes widened in realization. So that was why she saw a bit of Ietsuna in him.
Tsunayoshi smiled and bowed to her curtly. "It's a pleasure to finally meet you at last, Mami-chan. Ietsuna won't stop talking about you every summer for the past five years you know,"
"Nii-san!" Ietsuna blushed at his statement.
"N-Nice to meet you as well, Tsunayoshi-san,"
"Please, call me Tsuna, after all, you and Ietsuna will be husband and wife in six months,"
Mami's left hand twitched as she remembered the ring that Ietsuna had used to propose to her two months ago during a dinner date they had that day. "T-Tsuna-san then,"
Tsuna smiled, "Now come and join the party!" he said as he eagerly pushed Ietsuna inside the room again, with Mami and Kyouya following suit.
"She can't see?" Tsuna asked Ietsuna when they knew that the others were too caught up in the small party to notice the two of them talking. Kyouya had left earlier, claiming that he had to get back to the shrine before sundown, with Ryohei following suit, as he had to be home early to his wife and kid.
Ietsuna shook his head, "No, but her older brother, Enma-san, could, but she is well aware that the ayakashi exists,"
Tsuna smiled, "I'm glad you found your future wife splendidly, though I don't approve the way you kept me and Namimori a secret like you had a lover hidden here behind her back." He looked at him disapprovingly, still not letting him live down the fact that he broke four ribs because he was in a hurry to come after her while she was on her way to their family island, never to return.
"Nii-san, when are you going to get married?"
Tsuna shook his head, "I don't see why I and Reborn should do it so early,"
At the mention of his former tutor and External Adviser and Arcobaleno, Ietsuna frowned. He still hasn't gotten over the fact that his older brother fell for Reborn and had been together for the better part of six years. Since Reborn was fifteen years older than Tsuna, it still irked him that the hitman had managed to snare the heart of his older brother from behind his back. Apparently, Reborn visits Namimori more than him with missions as an excuse.
"I don't see why you had to fall for Reborn," he returned.
Tsuna smiled, "We all have our own opinions in the matter, but Reborn and I's feelings are mutual, so I see no problem with it. Konosuke was a bit glad that Nekota-san got over her crush on him the moment she found out he plays for the same team," Tsuna could still remember that Konosuke was in such a good mood for a week after the revelation.
"But how can you continue the Tenri line if you will be with Reborn?" he wondered.
"Ah, that?" Tsuna said, "Remember, Ietsuna, that one or two of our ancestors had mated with a deity once, and you know what that means," he hinted.
Ietsuna's eyes widened, "What!?" his head snapped to look at his older brother, hoping to all deities that he was joking, but it seems that it's true. "You can…you know…"
"Of course not silly! I'm just messing with you!" he said, which made Ietsuna relax, "At least, I think I am," Tsuna added, and Ietsuna rolled his eyes.
"You're just playing with me. I'm not falling for that one, Nii-san." He grunted. "Oh, which reminds me, where's Konosuke-san and the others? I don't feel any ayakashi or deity presence here right now,"
"Konosuke is at the Namimori Mountain on a drinking party with Nekota-san," he informed.
"Ah, I see…" Ietsuna muttered as he relaxed on where Tsuna and Ietsuna sat at the front of the backyard. "I can't believe that it's been ten years since I came here,"
Tsuna nodded. "I know what you mean. I am glad that you made the choice to become a stowaway and be caught by Kyouya,"
"And I never regret it, not one bit." Ietsuna replied as he looked at the trinket—a bracelet—that Tsuna had given him all those years ago. Engraved in the simple bracelet was a phrase that had always kept Ietsuna going, and looking forward to his next visit in Namimori.
A Family is Always There to Love You
Whoa! Ten thousand words! That's the longest chapter ever!
Sorry if it took this long. Real life had to get in the way of my writing, and it was not really pretty…
So anywho, this is my special Christmas gift to all of you guys! This is not the only fic I updated, and there is more! If you want to find out, check into my profile and see what I did!
I hope you liked the final chapter of Shinto Priest Sawada! I had a bit of fun in there, and the irresistible pairing of R27 being put in there. An open ending is the best thing, since you guys could imagine what would happen next and let it fly.
Merry Christmas, and I hope you support my own Many Verse of Tsuna!
See you soon~! (Probably next year)