The Yamamoto residence is a nice apartment building situated just above the sushi bar Yamamoto Tsuyoshi owns. It's a warm and friendly place with wooden floors and white walls and just the appropriate amount of messiness to indicate that – yes – this place is definitely being lived in.
When Lambo wakes up in the guest bedroom the next morning, it takes him a moment to remember why he's here. Boss. Japan. Kind stranger. Ohhhh, right. The kind stranger - Tsuyoshi-san - had helped him call his family last night and then offered him a room to sleep in. Rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, Lambo finally sits up.
The man's son helps him (shows him, really) how to roll up his futon and when that's done they head down together for breakfast.
Half an hour later the boy - whose name is Takeshi, Lambo reminds himself - is rushing out of the house, his school bag haphazardly slung over his shoulder as he yells his goodbyes at them. Lambo simply sits at the bar, sipping some milk from his glass and keeping an eye on Tsuyoshi-san as he works.
"So… the Italian Mafia, huh?"
That much Lambo had told him last night. Surprisingly,Tsuyoshi-san had taken the news in stride.
With Takeshi coming home soon after Lambo's phone call and the subject quickly being changed to accommodate the newcomer, there hadn't been much time for talking. For a moment, he thinks the man is going to pick up that old conversation again… but Tsuyoshi-san doesn't look like he wants to talk about that or ask any questions. Instead, he turns his gaze to Lambo and fixes him with a look that tells much more than his words ever could.
"Don't worry, you're not the first. There's much more to our town than what meets the eye. Anyway… as I said… you can stay here for a while, until your family troubles have been solved, but let's just keep this between the two of us, alright?"
Lambo gets a phone call from his dad later that same day.
"We'll pick you up as soon as we can. For now just keep to yourself, don't cause any trouble… and stay away from Reborn. Your aunt and I will deal with the Boss."
That's that and Lambo is more than happy to oblige. He can wait, even if he doesn't particularly like being patient.
Like it usually happens whenever the two of us spar, Bel kicks my ass during training.
I push myself up off the floor and my muscles protest against the movement, every inch of my body aching as I bend over, resting the palms of my hands against my knees and working on my breathing. It is with no small amount of satisfaction that I notice that across from me, Bel, too, is trying to catch his breath.
He looks up, grinning.
"That's another win for the Prince. What does that make the score again? 13 to 2?"
"As if you don't know…" I huff, rolling my eyes, "Two more losses and you get a favour… I'm almost scared to find out what you'll have me do this time…"
The amused snicker Bel answers me with is reason enough to be wary.
"Wouldn't you want to know~"
Fairly certain that we're done for now, I pick up the rod I fought with today, returning it to its proper place as Belphegor gathers his knives. They disappear somewhere inside his coat and exactly where he keeps them all is a mystery we'll probably never know the answer to.
"It's going to be another Dare, isn't it? At least pick something that isn't going to land me in the infirmary this time."
"Ushishi~ who knows… maybe I should make you fight with knives~ you hardly ever pick them."
Despite the fact that Royal Princes do not pout (Bel's words, not mine), I can very much hear the pout in my brother's voice.
Ah... so we're back here again.
Every few days without fail, Bel will try to convince me to fight with knives more often. Every few days without fail, I also end up giving him the same answer.
"And whose fault do you think that is?"
"I don't know what you're talking about," The assassin prince denies with a casual shrug of his shoulders, although his grin tells me otherwise. In the end, he doesn't pester me too much: I keep up with training and make sure not to neglect any of the skills I'm developing so that they don't get rusty. For now that is enough.
After Belphegor decides training is over for today and I realise I still have some time left before my meeting with Zhenya and the others, I go back to my room to take a shower and change into something else. I check my phone for messages or missed calls while I'm at it, but surprisingly, Ottavia still hasn't replied.
Well, whatever… she might be busy. I'm sure she'll get to it eventually.
The purple lounge on the first floor, two rooms to the left from the library, is where the women of the Varia like to occasionally gather. Well – the ones that are interested in being social, at least. Lobelia rarely bothers to hang out with the others since her schedule is too busy, Lucia and Ebba don't actually live in the HQ and only drop in for mission-related purposes… and I know there's a particularly antisocial assassin in the Cloud Division I've only ever heard about but never actually met.
Today, Cerise is there. Deceptively sweet and usually dressed in pink, the petite illusionist has a penchant for picking people's brains and memories apart while sparring, playing with them until they twist themselves to form something truly horrific.
God, I hate illusions.
The news of Lambo's disappearance doesn't reach me until early the next morning and if anyone is dumb enough to believe I'm going to stay put after hearing the news… then they obviously don't know the first thing about me.
It's at times like these that being Prince Belphegor's little sister comes in really, really handy.
(The guy that stands in front of me looks remarkably like a startled deer when I turn the tables on him and ask him if he has the permission to be here. I lift my eyebrows imperiously, and watch him shrink a little under my gaze.
"I can call him to confirm if you'd like me to." I tell the guy, lightly, "But it's pretty early in the morning so I'm not sure he'd appreciate being woken up over such a trivial matter. It's Lorenzo… right?"
"No!" The answer comes quickly – far too quickly – hands reaching out to stop me from taking my phone out of my pocket. Upon realising he's actually holding my wrist, Lorenzo quickly lets go again. "I mean… there's no need. Please go on as you have been, Princess."
I turn on the printer and go on with my work).
By the time Bel wakes up, it's already too late.
"Princess Helena?" The peasant blinks, "She just left, Sir."
Left? Benind a curtain of blonde, Bel raises an eyebrow.
"Well… did she happen to mention where to?"
"Yes, Japan. She said… it was on your orders...? Prince Bel…?"
My thirteen-hour flight to Japan lasts thirteen hours too much, in my opinion.
At least it gives me some time to mull over what I'm going to do next, which is a good thing. The answer is clear enough, even without much consideration: the main objective here is to make sure Lambo is safe – what comes next I'll deal with as soon as I cross that bridge.
Bel won't be happy to find me gone, but he's not a morning person by any stretch of the word and unless there's a mission he doesn't usually get out of bed until 11 or 12. That should buy me a couple of hours… three, or four – five until he notices I'm gone, another half hour or so until he gets irritated enough to ask for help. From then on it will be a race against the clock. Another hour or so to get ready and track down Squalo, briefly inform him of the situation and get cleared to leave.
Depending on how quickly he can get a plane – probably one of the Varia's jets, if Levi and his people get back on time – that gives me about twenty hours, twenty-four at most. Not too much, considering what I have to get done, but it will just have to do.
Dealing with the fallout isn't likely to be fun, and Belphegor is going to be pissed, but it's a necessary evil.
So, get to Lambo. Then contact Toro and Ottavia – not with my phone, should probably use someone else's – and figure out what they intend to do. Tweak the plan to take that into consideration… and deal with Gaetano.
Scare him into submission? Or follow my brother's usual advice and just get it over with? That would require work – and time – just to ensure the next Don doesn't make the same mistakes as his predecessor. A long-term solution is what we need, not just a moment of relief.
Later. These are worries for later. Right now, I need to get to Lambo and make sure he's safe, has a place to stay and won't be affected by whatever other dumb decisions Gaetano decides to take in the future. I should start by finding him, then Vongola Decimo...
It's 5AM local time when the plane touches down in Japan, 7 by the time I reach the town called Namimori. A pretty girl who arrived with the same flight as I did gets out of the bus with me, stretches, and turns her gaze towards me.
"Here," She throws me a drink of some kind, smiling a little, "I'm sure we could all use one after this long journey."
Just like that, she's gone.
I glance down at the drink I've been given – some kind of soda, it looks like – only to find that some disgusting, foamy purple substance is corroding the plastic bottle and making it overflow. I throw the thing as far away from me as fast as I can – and when I look up again, the woman is nowhere in sight.
The Poison Scorpion?
What is she doing here?
Some wandering and asking around get me the information I'm looking for. A little boy in a cow onesie was here a couple of days ago, asking people for their phones and trying to call his parents.
"The poor dear looked so distressed… and he was all by himself." An old lady tells me, "I do hope he found who he was looking for…"
A student – at least I guess she is, judging by the uniform – informs me that she saw Lambo at the playground two nights ago, that he was sleeping there. I ask her to tell me how to get there, but when I arrive there's no Lambo in sight. It's both a disappointment and a relief, because as much as I want to find him, I also don't like the idea of Lambo sleeping outside.
Several more people have seen Lambo these last two days, but most of my leads end up nowhere and I'm starting to get a bit desperate when I finally – finally – find someone who can give me some useful information.
"Oh, that kid?" The man says, "He's staying at TakeSushi. Do you know his parents?"
I hum, giving a nod.
"He's my brother. Can you take me to TakeSushi?"
TakeSushi – as the name would imply – is a sushi bar. It's only a couple of blocks further down the road and I thank the stranger for bringing me here.
I'm greeted by the owner as soon as I walk inside, who politely lets me know that the shop isn't open for customers just yet. I explain to him that I don't want anything – I'm actually looking for someone.
"He's five years old? Black afro? Wears a cow onesie… I was told I could find him here."
"You're here for Lambo?"
"Yes! You know where he is?"
Though he doesn't lose his friendly demeanour, something about the air around the man sets me on edge. I wonder who he is, to look so harmless yet make the alarm bells in the back of my head go off.
"You know, it's dangerous to carry weapons in Namimori… there are people who won't appreciate it." A threat? No, I decide, it's a warning. More importantly, when did he notice I was armed? "What's your business with Lambo?"
I raise the palms of my hands; a peace gesture the man should recognise.
"I'm his sister. You can go ask him, if you want to. Tell him it's Helena."
He seems to consider it for a moment before giving a single nod, using a towel to dry his hands and telling me to stay where I am as he goes speak to Lambo.
I take a seat.
So… this is where Lambo is staying? It could be a lot worse, I suppose… and the owner seems to look out for his well-being, which is important… he's smart too… hmm.
I hear Lambo before I see him, little footsteps slapping against the stairs as his temporary caretaker tells him to be careful. It doesn't slow him down at all.
I hop off the stool and find myself with an armful of Lambo within seconds. He hugs me tightly, excitedly blabbering about something I don't have the time to register.
"It's been a while, huh? I know, I know, I missed you too, Lambo."
He looks good. Unhurt, fed, and well-rested.
Which is more than what I can say about myself – though I ate and slept on the airplane, I'm still dead on my feet and extremely jet-lagged. Looking at the time and deciding I still have some left before I inevitably get dragged off back to the Varia, a short nap seems like a good solution right about now.
Takeshi gets home to a stranger sleeping on their couch. It isn't Lambo this time, though the little boy is sitting by her side, a sketchbook on his lap and a digital clock on the table in front of him.
"Hey there, Lambo." He says, confused, "Who's that?" Lambo has a sister, apparently. Her name is Helena and she lives in Italy. "I see… and what are you doing?"
"Keeping guard!" The boy leans in, conspiratorially, "Lena entrusted Lambo-san with an important mission! I need to wake her up when it's time."
"Sounds like fun!"
By the time he returns to the living room, baseball gear dropped off in his bedroom, Helena is awake and sitting up, rubbing her eyes tiredly as she tries to stifle a yawn. Lambo sticks to her side like he's been glued there, a happy smile on his face as he kicks his little legs back and forth, humming the tune of a song Takeshi doesn't recognise – it's kind of cute.
They discuss something in a language he doesn't understand – Italian, he will later recognise it as – and they finally seem to come to a decision. Like Lambo before her, Helena wants to make a phone call and even takes out some money to pay them back with, even though his dad refuses to take it.
"You're Italian, right?" Takeshi asks Lambo as his sister talks on the phone. Lambo nods his head. "How come you guys know Japanese then?"
"We learned it! Lena knows a lot more languages though… she's really smart!"
"I've never been very good at learning languages," Takeshi admits, "I have a friend who's Italian though, and he knew Japanese as well when he got here. He knows English too, isn't that awesome?"
Lambo doesn't look very interested, but nods anyway.
"Now that I think about it lot of Italian people have been coming in and out of Namimori lately, hahaha! Could it be you two play the Mafia game too?"
"Lambo-san is a hitman of the Bovino Famiglia."
"Hmm… I've never heard of that one. Everyone around here talks about the Vongola Family though; my friend Tsuna is going to be the Boss. He's a pretty cool guy!"
Suddenly, the room is very quiet. Ah, Helena has stopped speaking and is now looking at them, apparently?
"You know the heir of the Vongola Family?" She asks, incredulous.
"Yeah, he's in my class."
"Yamamoto-kun… can you take us to him?"
Sawada Tsunayoshi doesn't look like any Mafia Don Lambo has ever seen.
Not that Lambo would know what a real Mafia Don looks like anyway, because he's five years old and has never actually met one… but… even so… Sawada doesn't look anything like what he would've imagined the heir of the Vongola to look like.
Lambo has heard about the Vongola Famiglia before. Anyone who hasn't spent their lives living under a rock has: it's the scariest, most influential Family in Italy. Lena is staying with the Vongola Famiglia right now – or one of its branches, anyway – and that encompasses just about everything he knows about it. So yes, Lambo has heard of the Vongola, even if only a little, and the boy Reborn is talking to… doesn't look like any sort of Mafia material at all.
He's skinny, looks like a wimp and behaves like one too. At the very least, Lambo had expected a suit. Or something.
But… he's not going to get home by sitting around and doubting people, so Lena tugs at his hand and leads the way towards the squabbling duo.
It's strange, Lambo decides, how his sister can hold his hand in the exact same way she always has – with the same warmth, care and gentleness she has always shown him – and still have it feel different. Her hands are different from how he remembers them, Lambo can't help but notice. Not as soft as they used to be, rougher, and her fingers are covered in scrapes and scratches. Callused.
Her hands aren't the only things that have changed about her.
It's the way she holds herself, he thinks. Confidence, maybe? Not that his sister hasn't always been confident in herself, hasn't always held herself to certain standards… but when she wears it on her sleeve like this, it feels different.
Takeshi suddenly breaks out into a happy grin, putting his hand up into the air.
The brown-haired boy spins around, giving Lambo his first full view of the Vongola's future Boss. Fluffy, brown hair, big brown eyes, and an orange T-shirt. It looks kind of weird, as though it was torn in two and sewn back together again hastily by someone who has little experience.
"Yamamoto-kun! What are you doing here…?"
"My dad found this little guy wandering around in front of his shop a couple of days ago… it's kind of a long story, but I'm showing them around town."
Lambo tears his eyes away from the two boys and follows Helena's gaze instead. His target is standing next to Sawada Tsunayoshi… yellow pacifier, fedora, suit and all. He doesn't look any different from the last time Lambo met him, and his black eyes – momentarily meeting Lambo's own as they inspect the newcomers – make him squeeze Helena's hand a bit tighter.
"Reborn." Helena politely nods her head in greeting and the hitman's eyes move back to her.
Not missing a beat, Reborn tips his fedora.
"Eh? Reborn? You know these two?" It's Sawada Tsunayoshi that speaks this time, turning their attention back to him.
"We've met before. It's Sawada Tsunayoshi-san, right?" She bows, as is customary here, and once she's standing properly again, his sister goes on: "My name is Helena and this is my brother, Lambo. We're here to ask for your help, Decimo."
Frankly, the Vongola heir looks like his soul was just sucked out of his body
Sawada-kun is a nice boy. Timid, kind of unsure of himself… and very vocal about the fact that he doesn't want to be a mafia boss.
"Lambo's Boss ordered him to kill Reborn?!" The boy summarises, a tone of incredulity lacing his words as brown eyes nervously glance back and forth between Lambo and his target, "That's crazy!"
"It's underhanded." I hum, voice neutral despite the pang of anger that I feel deep down inside my chest.
There's a time and place for everything, and Gaetano will get his due… but… this is something that needs to be settled before we get to that.
"Distasteful." Reborn agrees.
"Yamamoto-san is offering Lambo a place to stay for now – until we figure everything out, at least – so you don't need to worry about that. I only ask that you look after him, as much as you can. Even Gaetano Bovino isn't dumb enough to try and do anything so long as Lambo is under Vongola protection."
Reborn hums, turning his head to look at his student, "Well, what will you do, Decimo?"
"Hiiieee! Stop calling me that!"
(Sawada-kun is a nice boy. Unfortunately for him, he's also a total pushover.)
"She's a real princess? But - but I thought she was training to be an assassin?!"
"Those two aren't mutually exclusive, Dame-Tsuna." Reborn states, shaking his head, "You still have a lot to learn before you become a real Mafia Boss."
("I told you I'm not going to be a Mafia Boss!")
We've just left Sawada Tsunayoshi's house when a hostile presence catches my attention. I look back over my shoulder as Lambo animatedly talks to Takeshi about something or the other, eyes narrowing slightly, but nobody is there.
Returning my gaze back to the front, I let Yamamoto-kun lead the way back to his father's sushi bar.
"We're home, dad!"
"Oh, hey! Welcome back Takeshi."
Lambo lets go off my hand a moment later, running off to go upstairs and find his backpack. There's an umbrella stand next to the door and I hope Tsuyoshi-san won't mind me borrowing one.
Unnoticed, I slip back outside again.
I close the door behind me and take a look around, observe the people passing by for a moment before making my way towards the alley next to the shop. It's empty, which is good, and not a dead end – which is convenient.
Giving it another moment, I turn around. Sure enough – he's standing there.
'He' being a teenage boy, dark-haired and pale, the jacket of his school uniform hanging from his shoulders in a rather blasé manner. I don't know who he is, but I don't suppose that's very important. What is important is the look he's fixing me with. Sharp and chilling. The look of a predator.
I meet his eyes, swinging the borrowed umbrella over my shoulder, balancing it.
"You've been following me."
"Being in unauthorised possession of weapons is prohibited in Namimori."
"This is just an umbrella, though. Doubt I'll need it in this weather of course…"
I'm not sure when it happens but the boy is suddenly holding a pair of tonfa, stance lowering slightly – dangerously – before he runs at me.
Immediately, I bring up the umbrella to block the attack. Considering how strong the hit is, it's frankly kind of astounding that the impact doesn't crack the thing in two right then and there. I back off a little, training kicking in.
"I meant the others." The teenager hisses.
The gun? Or Bel's knives? Which does he mean?
Well, either way – it might be best to try and defuse the situation before it gets out of hand.
"Alright, you caught me." I shrug, smiling apologetically, "I didn't know I needed an authorisation – I'll happily oblige and get one if you tell me how to though. There shouldn't be a problem then, right? I don't want any trouble, believe me."
But it doesn't look like the stranger is about to give up.
"You know how to fight." He says, calculating. Then, his eyes move to the umbrella and the look that crosses his face spells nothing but bad things, (he looks excited), "For stealing from Namimori citizens, I'll bite you to death."
First the Poison Scorpion, then Tsuyoshi, and how this?
Seriously… what's up with this place?!
I do finally get around to getting that authorisation… after Hibari Kyoya has had his fill of fighting me, that is.
That's his name, I find out some time later, and his parents are certainly no less scary than the boy himself.
The Hibaris' are the self-proclaimed protectors and peace keepers of Namimori and – from what I gather – nobody actually dares oppose them. I can certainly understand why, after Kyoya's mother beats a poor soul into the ground for interrupting our meeting.
I'm allowed to keep my weapons, warned not to disrupt the peace in Namimori (or else….) and promptly sent on my way. Compared to everything else that has happened today, the walk back to Tsuyoshi-san's sushi bar is actually very peaceful and relaxing.
When I get there, most of the customers have already left and Tsuyoshi is cleaning some glasses as one last customer sits by the bar, eating some sushi.
"Ah, Helena… you're back." The man says, nodding his head in acknowledgement. I place the umbrella I bought to replace the one Hibari destroyed in the stand, shrug my coat off and seat myself at the bar.
Putting my hand in my pocket and digging out some cash, I ask if there's anything I can still get at this hour. Tsuyoshi goes to the backroom to check and that leaves me alone with the stranger.
Turning to look at him, I find that he's already watching me. Light blond, messy hair… and a pair of glasses. He doesn't look like he's from around here, but he's wearing a uniform that I certainly do recognise.
"Princess Helena?" He inquires, though he looks like he already knows the answer to that question.
"That's right. And you are?"
"Ottabio. I'm the Varia's Cloud Guardian."
A/N: So many new characters, phew!
If you're wondering who Ottabio is: no, I didn't make him up. I found him on the wiki and he actually was the Varia's Cloud Guardian during the coup. Another spelling for his name that I've come across is Ottavio but since we already have an Ottavia in this story I thought we should stick with Ottabio.
Anyway! What did you think of the chapter? Leave a review to let me know~