And we're back!
For new readers, this is a tidied-up version of a fic I first posted on May 1st, 2015, which I decided to temporarily take down because the plot came out very clunky and hard-to-parse. It was reasonably popular. I hope you like this fic too.
For old readers, there shouldn't be any huge divergences in content until Chapter 7, but there's still a lot of foreshadowing and such. I had to delete the original copy to flush all 900+ reviews, BUT WE'VE RETURNED.
I'll be posting the first arc through Monday (today), Wednesday, and Friday. Hope you enjoy!
Art by me. You can find me on the websites listed on my profile.
Sawada Tsunayoshi is cold, aloof, constantly exhausted, perpetually doubtful, and has the resting face of an axe murderer. He's resigned to being a complete failure for the rest of his life, and is pretty satisfied with himself, as long as he has people like his best friend Sasagawa Kyouko to help him along the way.
But his dull, emotionless status quo is shattered when Kyouko decides he should join the Disciplinary Committee and do something with himself. The Disciplinary Committee, as in the thinly veiled school gang run by the Scariest Teenage Boy Alive.
And yet, against all odds, it's not the Committee itself that led him into mass international criminal politics, magic powers, and casual murder.
(Tsuna is in the Disciplinary Committee, and somewhere else, Timoteo's son is the heir to the seat Vongola Decimo.
Featuring: Ensemble Cast, many OCs, and Lots Of Plot Shenanigans.
Humour/Action/Drama, contains dark themes. Heavily AU, can be read canonblind.)
Chapter One: The Introduction Of Sasagawa Kyouko
Sawada Tsunayoshi learned about the mafia when he was six, and he didn't think much of it.
It was one overheard conversation, in which his father clearly stated he was involved in the mafia, a flashbulb memory caused by the uncharacteristic strain in his voice that had frightened Tsuna at the time. He hadn't really known what the mafia was when he heard it, and when he figured out, he just assumed that his father was doing good by his family by not getting them involved.
In fact, Tsuna was more concerned about his awkward, ham-fisted attempts at being a Normal Father during his visits. And the long, endlessly stretching absences. Tsuna could really do without those.
To be perfectly honest, there was never anything particularly interesting about his life, beyond his father's illicit criminal activities. He lives in a nice, lavish house, with a mother who loves him, and attends a nice, well-rounded school, with teachers that hate him. And students that hate him. And some spare animals that hate him. In fact, it may be entirely possible that every single living creature besides his own parents are in despair of Tsuna's very existence.
When he thinks about it, Tsuna is sure he probably earned it. He's incompetent to superhuman levels. His (currently) brown locks looks more like something crawled onto his head and died there than actual hair. He sucks at socializing, he has the hand-eye coordination of a stumbling baby giraffe, and his test scores are abysmal. It feels terrible, he can feel the holes in himself widening, and he's helpless to stop his ability to retain information from slowly dwindling into nothing.
He can't even learn simple things, like how to dance. Or cook. Or clean. Or anything, really.
People caught onto his uselessness quickly, and with fervour, and his nickname — 'Dame-Tsuna', no-good Tsuna — was so widespread that even his mother uses it. Affectionately, like it's just a cute joke. Tsuna wanted to be okay with this, but he didn't always want to be dame-Tsuna. He wants it to be a phase like his mother seems to think it is, but...but...
Tsuna thinks that thought was when his spirit really started falling apart.
He used to have terrible anxiety, but somehow his responses became dull and uninspired. He didn't have the energy to be terrified. Even as the anxiety shook his bones, he could barely muster up the twitches and jumps that had once came naturally to him.
The calmness of his body made him less clumsy, but the nickname never went way.
Dame-Tsuna gets bad grades. Dame-Tsuna forgets where he's going half the time. Dame-Tsuna forgot to do his homework. Dame-Tsuna got all the answers wrong on the test. Dame-Tsuna's failing PE. Dame-Tsuna makes every team he's on lose.
Dame-Tsuna is worthless.
His will leaked out of him until there was barely a drop of it left, until he couldn't even be upset any more, until he didn't even have the energy to start hating himself. Failure stopped looking like failure. It was just him. It was just the way he was.
Everyone seemed to expect that, so he did too.
Tsuna stares blankly at the ceiling of the gymnasium, holding a hand to his throbbing cheek. He doesn't even bother trying to go after the basketball gently rolling away. It's their fault for throwing it at him. Were they just looking for an excuse to call him useless again?
At the jeers of his classmates to get off the court, Tsuna drags himself over to the benches and slumps against them. The cheek isn't stinging any more, but it still aches a little. He's always recovered quickly, not that anyone ever notices. It's useful for all the times he screws up, which is a lot of times. All the time. His fast recovery time might be the only reason he isn't dead, or permanently bedridden, with how many scrapes he ends up in. Maybe he should see his doctor about that. He only just had a checkup earlier that spring, but—
Oh boy, they're done.
"What's with you, Dame-Tsuna? Because of you, we lost the game!"
Tsuna gives them all an empty look and outstretches his open hands, resigned to his fate. They shove a broom at him and storm away. It's a common routine between them.
"Seriously...Even though he takes the punishment, he still doesn't try to do any better!"
"That guy really is useless."
Tsuna gets to sweeping the area. Thankfully, he doesn't have to mop, and they don't track in much more than dust, so it's not like it's an outrageously challenging task. If anything, it's relaxing. A repetitive, simple task he never screws up. Maybe he should become a janitor when he graduates?
And of course, he has to graduate, regardless of how much of a mess his school career has been so far. If not university, at least up to high school. First of all, it's important to his mother, who can't support him through life. He's got his hands full ruining his own life as it is, he doesn't need to ruin hers too. Getting a stable job is the least he can do. It's important to take responsibility for your actions.
Second of all, it's the easiest way to spend time with his only friend.
"Tsuna, again?" A voice calls from the window. Tsuna glances over to see Kyouko peeking into the gymnasium, frowning. Tsuna is absolutely certain that Kyouko only frowns when she's around him. It's like he's an off switch for her face.
"Ah, yeah," Tsuna mumbles with a half-hearted stroke through his hair. "I don't know any techniques for improving hand-eye coordination, so..."
"You're always thinking so negatively! I'm sure you can do it eventually!" She gives him a big, winning grin that instantly lightens the edges of Tsuna's black vacuum of a mood. Kyouko's endless optimism is his only light in day-to-day school life. It is very likely the only light for a lot of the Namimori Middle School student body.
Sasagawa Kyouko is, of course, the most popular girl in school for that reason. Her innocent smile bolsters the hearts of everyone around her, and her forgiving and upbeat attitude has made a friend out of nearly everyone she's ever met. At first, Tsuna had a crush on her, but that eroded into dust with along with his will to be a sustainable human being. He might have thought he would never be good enough for her, in the dying gasps of his ability to feel self-pity, but it's kind of bleary.
Either way, his sudden plummet in anxiety led him to decide to just talk to her normally, and it turns out that not only is it incredibly easy to talk to Sasagawa Kyouko, she is probably his sole reason for existing at this point. If he did not have that slightest glimpse of warmth each day, he would just vanish. Poof. So meaningless Tsuna's existence would be, the universe would go 'good gracious, that thing's still here?' and erase him from reality.
Instead, Tsuna is sweeping floors and socializing through a window. See? Meaning.
"You're always hanging around that loner," her friend drawls from behind her. Kurokawa Hana, Kyouko's close friend, has always been as apathetic to Tsuna as Tsuna is to life. Sometimes she throws half-hearted insults at him, as if hoping he might spontaneously grow a personality in response. She has yet to succeed.
"Tsuna isn't a loner, Hana! People just don't see his good points!"
Kyouko blinks at her. "Yes?"
Hana raises an eyebrow at Tsuna, who is staring impassively back at her through the window, and then looks at Kyouko again. "Good points."
"Tsuna has lots of good points!" Kyouko pouts. "Let's see...he's calm in a crisis, he doesn't get in fights, he's never mean to anyone, he's always doing favours for people, and he never holds grudges!"
"Sounds more like a spineless gopher than anything," Hana drawls. Tsuna doesn't miss how she narrows her eyes at him, daring him to feel emotions. But it is a failure, just like every other attempt she's ever made. He is unflappable above all. Also, yeah, that does sort of sound like a gopher.
Kyouko's pout intensifies for a moment, but before she can complain about Hana's unending march against the black hole where Tsuna's soul should be, a voice calls from beyond the view of the window.
"Sorry to keep you waiting, Kyouko!"
"Mochida-senpai!" Kyouko greets happily. Ah yes, the captain of the kendou club, Mochida Kensuke. Hates Tsuna. Likes Kyouko. Kind of a huge dick. Tsuna generally ignores him unless it seems like he's going to be rude to Kyouko, but mostly Mochida passive-aggressively insults Tsuna. Unlike Hana, he seems to be operating under the assumption that Tsuna actually has feelings to hurt.
Well, that's not quite true, Tsuna has feelings. Like...boredom? Dissatisfaction? Warm contentment? Sasagawa Kyouko?
(Tsuna has forgotten what true happiness is like, but he's holding out for a glimpse of it at some point in his future, so Kyouko is currently a placeholder until then.)
"Sorry, I have to go," Kyouko sighs, and then instantly perks up. "But listen, meet me at the front gate after school. I have a great idea for you!"
"Sure. See you, Kyouko, Hana."
"Use an honorific. I don't know you," Hana snorts.
Hana looks violently constipated, and Kyouko giggles and drags her away.
Tsuna watches them disappear past the view of the window, stares off into space for a moment, and then just goes back to sweeping. It's not an awful way to spend a lunch break, really. He'll have plenty of time to eat, and since Kyouko's busy, he has literally nothing else to do anyway.
Yeah, he should probably look into a career in maintenance.
After classes end, Tsuna waits patiently at the front gate, staring blankly at the stone pillars and making everyone who has to pass by him extremely uncomfortable. Now that he's restricted to waiting on Kyouko, he actually has a chance to wonder what on earth her 'great idea' was. Obviously not walking home — they only really do that if their paths cross on the way out of school, naturally as two streams merging. Maybe she wanted to take him somewhere to eat? Or play? She had once gotten so excited about the new arcade that she begged Hana and Tsuna to come along with her, and they ended up spending four hours learning that Kyouko is actually a part-time DDR Master, Destroyer Of Worlds. Tsuna has never seen a pair of legs move that fast, and he doubts he ever will again.
But Kyouko had just told them she wanted to go to the arcade, back then. It's uncharacteristic of her to withhold information. Making this Weird.
Even weirder is how Hana is absent when Kyouko jogs up to him, grinning cheerfully. Tsuna is starting to have a Feeling again. that Feeling is intense foreboding.
"Tsuna!" She calls.
"Afternoon, Kyouko. What did you want to show me?"
"It's the best idea. Okay, so I was thinking, maybe Hana was right! You are negative! You need, uhm..." She pauses to think. "Focus! You need more meat to your life! More, uh...extremeness!"
Tsuna's face pulls a little at the unintentional tic. Her older brother favours the word 'extreme', and Kyouko ends up falling back on it almost unconsciously whenever she wants to describe the concept of energy. Like the first thing she thinks of when someone says 'pure motivation' is her brother.
Well, it is accurate. But it tends to grate. Sasagawa Ryohei really likes that word.
"Where am I getting this life-meat then?"
"It's a secret," she teases, and then giggles to herself, like keeping secrets that will be revealed within the next five minutes is somehow naughty. Tsuna is unintentionally charmed. Kyouko is charming. She is a brilliant and magical human being.
"Lead the way," Tsuna says.
Kyouko takes him back into the school, and after a moment of consideration, tells him to close his eyes. He frowns, but obediently squeezes his eyes shut. She takes him by the hand and leads him carefully down halls and up stairs. He usually navigates the school through little more than muscle memory, so he has absolutely no clue where she's taking him.
They finally stop in a very empty-sounding hallway, and she pats him gently. "Okay, now stay here, and don't you dare open your eyes!"
Tsuna nods. "Got it."
Kyouko vanishes from his awareness for a few moments, but he can hear her voice carry through the halls. He can't tell what she's saying, but she sounds very excited and pleased. Tsuna isn't sure he likes standing out in the hallway like this, all exposed, with no way of knowing who — or what — is around him. His sensation of intense foreboding is traded out for a distinct, wailing note of unease, like his brain just saw a person filing their nails while smirking at a nearby chalkboard.
He relaxes a bit when he hears Kyouko's footsteps running back to him. To his surprise, she swoops in behind him and covers his face.
"You don't trust me?"
"It's not that! I just want to make extra sure," she insists. "Okay, so this was Hana's suggestion, but I'm sure you'll like it, it's perfect for you. Are you ready?"
"Not really ready for anything Hana suggested."
"She doesn't really dislike you, Tsuna, she's just teasing."
"Yeah, but I'm still not ready."
Kyouko giggles again and just pushes him forward. It's not Hana that's bothering him about this situation, though. He just feels so tense, like something terrible is about to happen. He's not sure he has ever been as queasy about an event as he is about Kyouko urging him into this room.
He hears the steady incline of quiet voices, and the pressure against his nerves builds. There's an aborted shout, almost meaningless, but he feels a soft breeze as he stands in the doorway of the room, the breeze being disrupted, and a horrible, horrible discordant feeling rising to a crescendo of 'SAWADA TSUNAYOSHI YOU ARE ABOUT TO DIE'.
Almost - no, precisely - on instinct, Tsuna uses his shoulder-blades to nudge Kyouko back, so he can pull his leg behind him as support. It's only then that he hears it, a soft ruffling of fabric and the wicked strike of an object through air, and by then he's already yanking up his bag to block his face - torso - torso, and then-
Something knocks into him, hard, shaking his limbs with the force of the unstoppable impact, and he lets out a little 'HIIII' at the suddenness of it. His centre of balance holds strong, for once, and he's sent skidding back until he hits the wall. Kyouko lets out a little shriek of surprise.
Tsuna's eyes are still closed.
He can't feel his arms.
Tsuna opens his eyes.
Hibari Kyouya stands in the doorway, ringed in a halo of light from the open window behind him, like a great and terrible god. He still has his arm outstretched from the tonfa strike. Interestingly, he only has one tonfa in his hands. This is interesting because he is Hibari Kyouya, and Hibari Kyouya never resists the opportunity to beat a person within half an inch of their life, and that task is best done with two tonfas.
The Great And Terrible God (Of The Namimori Disciplinary Committee) narrows his already slash-thin eyes at Tsuna, who's brain has just experienced a fatal error. He just can't parse it. The Namimori Disciplinary Committee is comprised of nothing but delinquents, and it's led by the isolated and unreasonably violent Hibari Kyouya, who runs the middle school like a police state. No yelling, no spitting, no smoking, no uniform violations, no crowding. Hibari Kyouya is so violent that he assaults people - with weapons - because they're grouping together.
And he's standing in the doorway. With his single tonfa outstretched. Because he just hit Tsuna with it.
Oh, his other hand is holding a glass of water. So he was enjoying a nice refreshment before he quickly grabbed a weapon to hit Tsuna with. That sure does make no more sense than anything else about this situation.
Tsuna's numb arms can no longer be bothered to have basic muscle control, and the bag in his hands flops uselessly down to the floor.
"Secretary," says Hibari Kyouya.
"What," says Tsuna.
But Hibari has already turned back into the room, presumably to finish his cool and refreshing glass of H2O. Neat.
"I'm sorry, I didn't know that would happen," Kyouko says in a high-pitched whisper.
"What, what just happened, exactly," Tsuna says, just as high-pitched.
"I thought that you might need to join a club, but you don't have any hobbies. But then I remembered you like to help people!" She explains sheepishly. "So I thought you might like it at the Disciplinary Committee...You know, helping them out, keeping watch over the student body..."
"Making sure Hibari-san doesn't kill anyone?"
"I don't think he's that violent. But you know, yeah! Just...making Namimori Middle a more peaceful and happy place! I wanted to surprise you, since you don't seem to get a lot surprises..."
She smiles expectantly at him.
Tsuna's face pulls a little.
Well, Hibari did already...test him? Is that what that was? Testing him to see if he could take a hit, or something? What would he have done if Tsuna got a white line of sweet singing metal in the solar plexus? Would Hibari just go 'no' and walk away? He would, wouldn't he. He would totally do that.
Oh boy, what if Hibari continues hurting him? Well, that is a guaranteed certainty if you so much as stand next to the guy, but for...secretarial reasons? Seeing as a secretary would be near him All The Time. This is such a bad idea.
"...Thanks, Kyouko. This was a great idea."
She claps her hands. "Thank goodness! I was so worried! Anyway, there's nothing too complicated about secretary work, so I don't think you have anything to be worried about, right?"
"I don't worry about anything."
"Haha! That's Tsuna for you!"
Tsuna tries his damnedest to look into the darkest recesses of his absent heart for the memory of a full-faced smile. He manages to roughly replicate a grin. Kyouko doesn't seem to notice anything wrong with it, which makes Tsuna feel a lot better, for some reason.
"Okay, so you get yourself situated, and tell me all about it tomorrow! I'm so glad you like this! I always feel guilty about having to leave you for my own club meetings..."
"It's...fine. I'm fine. I mean, I like...the Disciplinary Committee." No he doesn't. "A lot."
She gives him a big hug, and his will to be negative collapses under the weight of all the pleasant feelings it gives him. He pats her arm in appreciation, and waves her off with a small smile that feels cozy on his face.
Boredom. Irritation. Dissatisfaction. Contentment. Unease. Confusion. Sasagawa Kyouko.
"Alright, new boy, here's your uniform. Let's get you started."
Oh yeah. Fear too. There's always that one.