A/N Is this a chapter?

Here's the latest chapter featuring, you guessed it, MORE DIALOGUE!

Really , I don't understand what magical powers I've been using to progress the story line when I end up writing 3k words worth of feelings and 'talking things out'. (I'm a big fan of people talking and just any attempts to lessen misunderstandings)

Anyway this is Part 2 of the Ring battle conclusion and whewwwwww it leads directly into our lovely future arc.

Early warnings for the next chapters; 1. They'll be even slower cause I'm lost on the road of this plot, 2. What is canon? Cause this sure as hell won't be that :)

(I have high ambitions for the next few chapters. They'll be wild... if i get to finishing them...)

~Chapter 26 – Coalesce

Tsuna spends the rest of the day talking to her brother and her father with Reborn as a silent comfort by her side. About their lives and the years spent away, about her's and all the bonds she's made. Of Namimori and what she knows of the Hououkai, of Italy and how they think of the Vongola. Iemitsu tells her of Nono, speaks fondly about a kind and good leader who had been put into a medical coma by a boy he thought of as a son. In return Tsuna tells him about Xanxus, who as a boy kept her company when she was lost and alone in a foreign place, who started to teach her Italian because he had always known she would need it one day, who studied like his life depended on it just to succeed his father and make him proud, and who banished away her nightmares because he promised he would protect the scared little girl she had been. She knows he's changed, twisted and scarred by Nono's betrayal, but it didn't discredit what he once was. Her brother tries to sway her with the rumours he knows, facts he insists, that speak of wrath incarnate, a demon bathed in blood. She responds with her own, whispers from Mukuro who had to know exactly who his enemies were, of the Vongola's Young Lion; ruthless, merciless, willing to kill even children so long as he was given the command. Yoshi's mouth snaps shut at their fathers pained look. He won't deny it, he can't lie to their intuition anyway, he had soaked his hands in blood willingly for the Vongola and their cause.

"This is why things must change." Iemitsu tries to explain, "Someone has to yank to Vongola back onto the path Primo intended. Xanxus is the leader of Vongola's elite assassination squad. Even if he had the blood, even if the rings accepted him, he can only lead us further down into the dark."

"Is it not in the dark that the mafia prosper? You can't say he wouldn't bring the Vongola to greatness." Tsuna retorts, aware of the fact that while Xanxus couldn't become a hero of the impoverished like the founder, he would be fair and unlikely to become corrupt, "One generation of kindness is not enough to change the inner workings of the underworld. The Vongola turned down this bloody path once before and they will do so every time. It's an inevitability." She tries to listen, tries to understand, but she can't quite see things as they do. Similarly, no matter how long they talk, neither her father nor brother seem close to comprehending her. They all simply sit in the living room of her childhood home feeling as close as strangers can be.

Reborn waits for nightfall before he slips into her room, the house completely silent and utterly empty besides the two of them. Iemitsu had long retreated to a hotel in the city, one that his men have all but seized with his son in tow, and her mother has yet to return. Fon is apparently babysitting the Bovino heir and who knows where Rokudo and his crew disappeared to. So, for the first time since maybe her impromptu hospital admission, they are well and truly alone. There couldn't have been a more perfect moment for the Sun and Sky to talk.

"The Arcobaleno take priority." In two different rooms in Namimori, one a quaint bedroom in a suburban house and the other a hastily made up office in a disused mansion, two of the I Prescetti Sette attempted to have a meaningful talk with their respective Skies. Despite their differences and how badly their personalities clashed, both the Mist and Sun could agree that the conversation would be troublesome at best.

"Tsuna, if you do get chosen…" Flashes of picturesque memories assault his mind: pulling himself up on frail, cursed arms to peer into a newborn's crib; a flower that had bloomed, that had wilted all to quickly; white, the white he hated, oh but that orange he might have loved; teal hair, an unusual colour, and eyes as blue as the midday sky. But that's not all he has and looking down at her amber gaze, the window to a soul that pulls and pulls, Reborn grits his teeth at the detestable feeling of helplessness. "You will unfortunately have to give up your current ambitions," Disgust pains his voice as if to cover the despair, "Being the Sky Arcobaleno is a full-time job, more than that really. It will take your every being, suck the flames right out of your soul and leave you weak. What you spoke of on the night of the Ring battles you will not be able to follow through with. The Vongola Rings must be maintained and if you are chosen as our Sky you will not be able to."

"What about Mammon then? Lal Mirch as well, was holding two of the Vongola Rings." Tsuna asks, and in the Varia mansion Xanxus echoes her question.

The difference between skies and their elements is as vast as the ocean. Even if you despise it, you are exist 'above' us.

"The elements are different, the amount needed to maintain the pacifiers is lesser for us," Mammon tells their boss, crafting small, harmless illusions about the room. "We still have access to our flames and enough of our power that we are renowned, but for our Sky the drain is far greater." The illusionist floats around in their more common infant form, a reminder to all that see, but more importantly as a reminder to themselves. "The Giglio Nero Donna is our current Sky. She is twenty-eight now I believe, not yet thirty and she's already on her deathbed. Either her daughter or Ietsuna will succeed her, though I don't know if they are aware of the second candidate." Mammon only knows all this from the letters Giglio Nero had sent to all of them, the only contact a lot off them were willingly to deal with after her mother's betrayal. The venomous hatred inside their head rears up as they remember, because how dare that woman claim their lives as collateral for the greater good. Mammon felt that maybe they would definitely get along better with Ietsuna, especially with how the girl vehemently refused to become a 'martyr' as she had put it. "Since we do not know what criteria the next Sky Arcobaleno will be chosen with, we can assume that there is a fifty percent chance or greater that it will be Ietsuna, especially with the direct involvement of the Vindice or so I've heard from Reborn. It would be wise to create some contingency plans."

"Contingency plans?" Xanxus breathes, his face a calm mask despite the overwhelming torrent of his emotions. It's not like one expected to grow old in the mafia but seeing a timer placed upon someones head, on top of her head, felt worse than he would admit.

Her life doesn't automatically belong to you. It doesn't even belong to her…

"There is nothing," Tsuna tells Reborn after a moment of thought, "Not unless Yoshi can be convinced to see Xanxus as the right choice, and Xanxus can be convinced to trust Yoshi won't use the ring to become Decimo." Unfortunately, the moment that could become a reality seemed far, far away.

"I feel like you're starting to see the mess we're currently in," The hitman replies idly, "One with you at the very centre."

"But there's still a chance that it won't be me right?" It's not that she wants someone else cursed, just that so much of what she's worked towards required her to not be... and wow, just having those thoughts makes her feel like a worse person.

"Not that it's necessary, but you have the technical allegiance of three of the current Arcobaleno. Fon has a direct claim since you're his student, and he's also known you the longest. Mammon a more distant one through whatever relationship you have with Xanxus their boss. And last be definitely not least, me. That's three more than the current Sky's daughter, and while I'm sure we all know of her existence, none of us has shown our faces at their doorstep in a long time."

"Why is that?" Tsuna asks curiously. It's an innocent enough question that he could ignore but…

"Each one of us has our own reasons, but for me, I suppose I didn't want to see another child raised as a sacrifice," He smiles bitterly as he meets he eyes, "It was meaningless in the end though, seeing as I happened to stumble across you." And what can Tsuna say to that? What can she say to a man that has seen too much? Nothing. There's nothing that a naive girl like her can say but even with Reborn so set in her fate there is a flicker of hope. For her and for the other candidate, she promises herself now she will try, no matter who is picked. A curse they all utter, a curse, she hears them repeat. But it stands to reason that a curse may be broken, she just hopes she has enough time to find out how. Tsuna hopes that there's information to dig up in Italy, where the hearts of many mafia lie, and that maybe Mammon would share their intel with her for a reasonable price.

She tries to look forward to Wednesday as she rests her head on her pillow.

There are still two days left.

"Ne, Skylark~." He doesn't dodge the tonfa as it phases right through him. Really, the violent teen knew better than to try, but old habits were the hardest to break.

"What?" Kyoya growls back, irritated as always just by the smug expression on the other's face.

"I had an interesting talk with Ietsuna-hime today," Mukuro continues, unbothered by the obvious hostility, "She's leaving this Wednesday."

"I've been told." Comes the curt reply as Kyoya turns away from the nuisance and back to the papers on his desk. He has a veritable mountain of work to do but his eyes can't seem to process the finely printed words.

"Of course, my darling Chrome and I will be accompanying her." Chikusa and Ken though, would not be leaving this quiet town, content to stay and play protectors. Maybe they'd finally pull themselves out of the dredges of society and build a life, a safe place for them all to come back to and rest their weary hearts.

"And I care about this why?"

"When I went with Hime-chan to see the current Decimo," The Mist continued breezily, "She told him four." The prefect almost snapped at roundabout way of talking when he took an unnecessarily long pause. Kyoya was hardly an idiot, he could easily tell where it was all leading to. "Four," Mukuro repeated, counting on his slender fingers, "Me, Chrome, and the two dogs. Now imagine my surprise when I heard that the most protective guard dog of them all, wasn't coming with us."

"Unlike you, I have obligations here." Even while his face remains calm, the grip around his pen is white-knuckled. She hadn't asked, and if she had he would've have said no regardless, but she hadn't asked and it irked him.

"Ah is that so…" The illusionist looked as satisfied as a cat that both ate the canary and got the cream, "Don't worry about it needlessly then Skylark-kun~, I'll take plenty good care of Ietsuna-hime without you to bother me." The illusion fades away fully, though his mocking laugh echoes for a hateful second after. Kyoya hears the crack first, and then feels the sharp shards of plastic and then the wetness of ink as his pen snaps in his hand. He tosses it out the window, right where Mukuro's face had last been, and feels zero satisfaction, not that he expected any. With a snarl he slams his fist on the desk, uncaring of the ink smearing onto the expensive wood. He had expected the taunting illusionist, even if he had hoped he'd be left alone, but it stung regardless to have his inability rubbed in his face. He brings his clean hand to his shoulder and rakes them over the drawn feathers that curl over. As always, the mark of his responsibilities feels like a vice, though never has he minded until now. Only now because she would leaving his, their, territory.

There's a knock on his door, and given he hadn't even heard their footsteps, he knows without a doubt who the intruder is. It merely pulls him down into a worse mood. "What do you want?" He asks with a growing distaste for how the day has turned out.

"It's nice to see you too Kyoya." Most people would've have turned back around at the murderous expression on the teen's face, in fact most people wouldn't have bothered him at all. The Storm Arcobaleno Fon wasn't most people. "Working hard as always I see." He receives a grunt of acknowledgement in response.

"Spit it out already." The prefect grinds out. There was little he would actually tolerate, and he had a dislike for a great many things. Cowardly carnivores was just one of them.

"Impatient as always," Fon replied unfazed, maybe even a bit fond, "I suppose I'm here to apologise."

"Apologise?" Kyoya repeats with a disbelieving scoff, "In the first place what worth do your words hold?"

"I imagine very little in your eyes," The Arcobaleno wears the guise of an adult today, looking even more alike to the younger boy than even Kyoya's own father does, "So I intend to let my actions speak for me instead. What I can offer you, all I can offer you, is a modicum of freedom."

"Freedom? From what?" Grey meets black. Steel clashes with obsidian.

"From the Hououkai, what else could have possibly chained you down," The Storm smiles ambiguously, "There are conditions of course, but I'm sure we can learn to share." Fon catches a gleam of intrigue in the eyes of his distant relative, and he already knows Kyoya's all but accepted. The difficult will be convincing him to share, but he's sure his generous offer will convince his very distant nephew to play nice. It will take time though, to both iron out the formalities and set the ground rules, so he settles himself down on the couch and calls a maid for tea.

There's only one day left.

"I'm sorry Mama." Lambo's sitting comfortably in her lap and I-pin, enamoured by his flawless skills, sits on the counter watching Tsuyoshi work. Her mother sits across from her, quiet and calm, her red-rimmed eyes the only sign of strife on her otherwise serene face.

"It's okay Tsu-chan," Nana replies even though it really isn't, "Tsuyoshi-san explained as much as he could to me. It's not your fault… it's not anyone's. It's all just a very unfortunate situation." She fiddles with her wedding ring, a sure sign that she's thinking about her husband. "I'm just not sure what happens from here. I don't know what to do anymore."

"Nothing, it's enough if you can just stay safe and happy," Her daughter replies with quiet certainty, "I was hoping you could take care of Lambo still." It said a lot about his standing in the Bovino familgia, that they allowed the child to fly to Japan on a reckless suicide mission. Ten-year bazooka or not, she didn't think they were expecting him back anytime soon, and according to Reborn there were a plethora of heirs to get through before they would even start looking.

"Of course," Her mother replied with a small but real smile, "He's already like another son to me. It would be a pleasure."

"Namimori is safe," And it's true because their town has always had vigilant protectors, yakuza though they may be, "You'll both be safe here, so you don't have to worry."

"But what about you?" Ietsuna doesn't know exactly what her mother and Takeshi's father have talked about in these past couple of days, doesn't know how many bombshells he's walked her through, so she treads carefully.

"I'm going. It's not safe with me here," They had never come for Nana, only for her, "So I'm going, to Italy."

"Do you have to, Tsu-chan?" Her mother asks softly, "Couldn't you stay here too?"

"I can't," No matter how much she wants to she can't, "I've made promises and even if I hadn't, they wouldn't let me go."

"Were those promises to your father?" Tsuna can only let out a soft laugh.

"No, never to him," She thinks of a red-eyed man, covered in painful scars, who sits on a throne alone, "There was someone who saved me a long time ago. Whose words made the nightmares disappeared for years. He offered protection to a coward like me, to even look after Yoshi despite the fact they're in opposing factions. He's not…" Ietsuna pauses, at a loss of how continue, "He's mafia so his hands aren't… clean, but to me he's been nothing but kind. If I can't leave, then I at least want to stay beside someone I can trust." Nana hums in acceptance, shutting her eyes in thought as she tried to imagine.

"I think that anyone who can put that kind of look in my daughter's eyes must be pretty special," Because her Tsu-chan's lovely amber eyes smouldered with an emotion she knows all too well, "Mama would love to meet such a wonderful man."

"!? It's not like that!" The girl splutters, flushed red at the insinuating tone.

"Ara? The way you talk about him says otherwise~" Her mother continues airily, "I do hope poor Takeshi-kun still has a chance."

"Mama!" The teasing is familiar territory for her, and if this is what it takes to get her mother back to her usual self, then she'll gladly take it. She feels Lambo wiggling before he jumps off her lap and then within seconds, he's chasing I-pin around, apparently bored with all their talking. Takesushi becomes noisy, livelier, and with her mother smiling gently across from her it feels like shes finally home for the first time in a long while.

"So soon though…" Nana is losing her daughter far earlier than she would have liked.

"Indeed." They both startle at Tsuyoshi's quiet arrival, the man armed with an elaborate platter of fresh fish.

"What's the occasion?" Tsuna asks wryly. There's a small fortune worth of seafood in his arms, and he ceremoniously places on the table in front of them.

"A farewell party of course!" The kids crowd around with 'oohs' and 'ahhs', and she already knows that she'll be surrendering most of those charming tamago topped bundles to Lambo's bottomless pit of a stomach. As it is, the cow-printed boy is already reaching out with grabby hands, only to be thwarted by I-pin's watchful gaze. "Takeshi has gone to collect the rest of your lot, and once he gets back we can really kick this party off." The older Yamamoto lets out a hearty laugh, as if she wasn't about to take his son into the heart of the Italian mafia with her.

"Lambo! No!" I-pin swats the boy's hand with increasing force each time he reaches out for the food, before finally kicking him away in exasperation. Being trained by the same meticulous master as Tsuna means she's not surprised to see the boy go flying, landing a couple metres away with a pained cry.

"I-pin!" Nana's quick to reprimand the budding martial artist, "You can't kick Lambo-kun like that. You could hurt him!" While I-pin sits through the lecture with a troubled expression, Tsuna slides out of her seat with a sigh. She can already hear the sniffles no matter how much the poor boy tries to compose himself.

"Are you alright Lambo?" He looks absolutely pitiful, his left cheek turning red from where he hit the floor too hard and his green eyes watery with unshed tears. Her arms moves instinctively, reaching out to hug him, but she abruptly stops when her intuition blares. Tsuna freezes, eyes searching high and low for the danger. It's big, it has to be big, judging by the impressive torrent of unseen wrongness that presses down on her.

"…Gotta, s-stay…calm-" Lambo's trembling voice has her focusing back onto him, fat tears rolling down the boy's cheeks. But what her eyes catch instead is the obnoxiously coloured weapon in his shaking hands. She stares down the darkness of the barrel as her intuition crests the border of frantically loud into unsettling silence. Her mouth opens to say something, anything, because her gut tells her that if she gets hit there's only despair to look forward to.

Ietsuna chokes on the smoke. It burns down her lungs as it engulfs her, bitter with a taste of ash.

Her time was up.

A/N Thanks for reading o/

I'm just hopping there aren't too many errors in this O_O

I have this urge, this terrible urge, to spoil any surprises in these author notes. (I'll refrain but know that I'm overly proud about what's going to happen next. As for the writing execution... well I'll do my best :D)

See you... who knows when~