A/N: I know. What am I doing writing another story when I haven't updated my Naruto/TWD crossover in weeks, right? Well, when all my progress was erased and my motivation was almost non-existent, I wrote this to spark my want to write I guess. I've already a couple of chapters written so why not post it? First KHR fic ever! And I'm finally using the Time Travel trope, which I love. I also love Tsuna&Arcobaleno interactions so I'm mashing everything together in a fic, yay!
A/N2: Also, I should mention that I named this fic 'Bandaged Hand' because the name of Louden Swain's song which inspired this whole thing. The first arc is thanks to Sia's "Never give up", but the name (A lot to learn) is named after another of Louden Swain's songs because I'm bad with titles and this story is thanks to them.
A/N3: Comments feed my poor writing soul.
Arc I: A Lot to Learn
Tsuna likes Italy.
Perhaps it's how different everything is from what he's used to or how he came to be here at the start of spring instead of any other season, but the statement stays true so far. He really likes it.
The air is turning chill now and the wind's a bit harsher; people now wear their large coats and the use of fancy hats is more common than before. It's all still very lively though. People look serious when he walks next to them or he sees them waiting for the train, but as soon as they see someone they know, it's like a switch is flipped and they, unlike most Japanese, get all loud as they greet.
Especially now that he can appreciate it. After all, he has two jobs and receives enough money to rent a place to sleep and buy food, along with some extra to save. The coat he wears is the only one he has, dark blue with orange buttons and fur, cheap but really warm. He's saving to buy a thicker one for winter, but the gloves and his scarf are enough for now.
"Natsu, your order."
He stops fiddling with his scarf and lifts his head. He gives a quick smile as he takes a mug of watered down coffee and a small sandwich before he's left alone as the server attends to the other people inside the bar. Tsuna moves a little to the side but doesn't go to sit like others do. The smell of the smoke coming from the cigars is common inside the bars and is perhaps the only thing he doesn't like about Italy. That's why he tries to not go as often, preferring to wake up earlier and make his own breakfast instead of standing as close as he can to Zaid, the barista, where the smell of the coffee is stronger than the smoke.
He finishes quickly and waves a goodbye, promising to see them later for his shift, before he moves to leave. His intuition tingles though and he stays close to the door. He doesn't know why it wants him to stay, but he's learned his intuition is stronger than it was so it's become something of a daily occurrence for it to go off and make him do things that apparently doesn't make any sense. Until it does. It's a bit creepy, frankly. But so far it's never been wrong.
He just hopes that whatever it is now, it comes quickly because the smell of the person smoking at the next table over is making him dizzy.
Two agonizing minutes later, his answer comes in the form of a little boy of perhaps four or five years. His eyes are red and watery, constantly sniffing as he comes close to the glass doors. He takes a peek inside, looking incredibly lost and panicky and then moves away.
Tsuna follows him.
"Are you okay, kid?"
The street is mostly empty and he's close enough that the kid knows he's talking to him. He stares at him with wide eyes and seems unsure of what to do next. Tsuna kneels and, seeing his neck is unprotected, takes his scarf off and wraps it around the kid's neck.
"My name is Natsu," he says carefully, making sure his words are not too accented for the kid to understand. "Are you lost?"
The question apparently breaks something inside the kid because he barely gives a nod before straight out bawling. Tsuna startles, but he comforts the kid quickly. He doesn't think this kid has a hidden grenade on his person but it's almost automatic for him to fear kid's tears so he calms him in a way that comes from experience.
Mateo is his name and from what he understands he lost his mom when they were in the street market across the street. She told him they were going to buy some food so he's been looking in the stores for her.
Tsuna is kind of lucky the kid's Italian is simple enough for him to understand, even with the kid blubbering as he is.
He grabs the kid's hand and looks from side to side. His intuition is not directing him anywhere so it probably feels its job is done and he has to do it the hard way or is deciding to wait until he's near his objective to bother giving him directions.
With a sigh, he returns to the bar to grab something for the kid before they go to search in the market.
He asks Mateo about school and his friends.
- x -
His daily routine hasn't changed that much since he created it a couple weeks after coming to Italy and getting his first job. It isn't hard to follow as it was those first few days and he even takes some comfort from it now. The mornings are no longer too silent; the nights, too lonely. There isn't desperation and that sense of urgency he used to wear like a cloak every day. Always searching. Always wandering.
Most likely because life in Italy is busy. People don't seem to have free time as they go around working to gain enough money to survive and have some extra. They're punctual to a fault and respect schedules to a T. That's part of why his days are always quite full of things to do. He doesn't have any time for his thoughts to wander—that's what the routine is for after all. And besides, it's not like he has another alternative.
So he wakes at eight and goes to work at nine, the only thing changing being what type of tea he's going to have for breakfast. Then off he goes to his job as a hotel housekeeper until he returns for lunch to quickly prepare something quick unless he's cooked the night before. His presence at the bar is not needed until four so he uses that time to check the newspapers of the previous day he collects from the hotel and gives a bored glance to every article, only stopping when he catches something interesting or when his intuition goes off.
He cuts the articles and announcements, stashing them inside a cheap album he bought for the Japanese word 'perseverance' written on the front.
Its use will probably come later. His intuition is crafty like that. It's also the only thing that he lets change his routine. Most times, those changes are minimal or subtle enough to be deemed as unimportant. In other cases, they're too great and confusing in ways he hasn't experienced before. Like the time it guided him to what would be his job at the hotel.
That day his intuition had nudged him to a park in front of a hotel, specifically towards a bench in which a tired man was talking on a big phone, discussing about how they needed to search for someone to wash the dishes before the end of the day. There was a tugging going on at the back of his head and from there it only took a bit to wait until the man was done with his call to hesitantly offer his help.
The man had accepted quickly, seemingly not caring he was fifteen years old. Tsuna later found out that that day a buffet was going on, so that explained the why. In a any case, he did a good job and the man was pleased enough to offer him a steady position to wash the dishes. It only took a few weeks from there for him to move into cleaning the rooms.
That's why Tsuna isn't surprised when his intuition makes him tell his boss that the next day he will arrive a bit late, even when the request seems to be oddly specific. Not even when it leads him to walk to a faraway shop that sold coffee beans and all the accessories to make a good cup.
It does make him a bit annoyed that in the end he only has enough money left to buy only a sandwich for lunch. His intuition is kind of a dick to not let him know he needed to carry more money that day. It isn't as if he can return home either, not if he doesn't want to be late for his next shift.
The coffee beans' smell is strong and covering it with his scarf hasn't done anything to keep the odor away from the small locker he has in the bar. That scarf is a new one and now it stinks damnit. But… but he isn't going to go against his intuition. So he suffers the coffee induced headache with irritated resignation and when he reaches his apartment he shoves it inside an empty can where there were once cookies and tries to forget about them.
He hopes leaving his scarf to air inside the bathroom with the window open will make the smell go away.
The next day starts with him once again wondering if his intuition is insane. Or a sadist. Maybe both. Perhaps being around insane sadists has turned his intuition that way? It is, after all, the only reason why he chose the small apartment he now lives in. And he's not mentioning it because of the not so nice neighbors he has to interact with on a daily basis.
At least he's already used to the sound of guns and the tell-tale sound of people getting his ass kicked.
Maybe he should feel lucky he's not the one getting his ass kicked.
Coffee, his intuition tells him in the way that suggests he should make it instead of trying to sleep. After all drinking coffee at three in the morning is something normal to do.
He continues staring at the dark ceiling for long minutes as the buzz inside his head grows in volume, considering. He sighs when it becomes hard to ignore. Tsuna is too tired to not follow its orders, he decides as he gets up. That and coffee sounds really good this early—
(Later, he will become to regret turning on the light of his lamp in the middle of what's clearly a fight.)
—But of course that isn't all. His intuition doesn't want cheap coffee after all. It's clearly nudging at the stuff he bought to make a more authentically Italian one. He tries to reach for the cheap powder stuff anyway but it hisses like an angry cat and makes a headache form between his eyes.
It wouldn't be his life without his intuition growing pickier as it becomes stronger.
So he works on the beans. He's not an expert. Doesn't know about preparing different types of coffee-drinks like a barista can, but -And this is an important but- he can make a really good espresso. He was trained to make it for a specific and really picky person and he's proud of being told by his sadistic tutor that his coffee was acceptable.
Acceptable for him is what a normal human calls god-like espresso.
He's almost done when the gunshots stop. No more shouting can be heard aside from some angry mutterings so whoever pissed the fairly new drug lord living near is probably dead.
Tsuna feels guilty that the silence makes him almost sigh in relief.
Not that it lasts, of course.
There's a knock on his door. Two knocks, actually. Sharp and determined. Tsuna tilts his head but his intuition is oddly silent. And for some reason eager, too. It's disconcerting, but his intuition isn't kicking up a fuss so, Tsuna supposes he can check out who is outside. The locks are simple, but they will do the job if someone tries to barge in. Not that he expects trouble as his intuition would have let him know.
Though apparently he's forgotten how much of a douche his intuition is becoming as he also doesn't expect to greet a gun as soon as he opens the door.
The angry mutterings are slightly louder with the door open, but he ignores it in favor of the very big, very real gun aimed at his face.
A long second passes with him just staring the black, shiny and slightly wet object.
"Open the door," a deep voice says, startling him so badly he lets out an 'eep' like sound as he remembers that usually there's a person attached to a gun. Robots are not that common, after all. At least in these times.
Tsuna glances up, finds dark eyes under messy wet hair glaring at him and opens the door enough for the other to enter. He stumbles back once he's done, giving the man in a suit space. Tsuna then watches him as he checks the aisle one more time before closing the door and giving a once over to his apartment, his eyes briefly stopping at the boiling water before he continues his assessment. Once he's done he grabs the cushion on top of his couch-made-bed and takes off the cover. He places it on top of his lamp. The light diminishes greatly but not completely like it would have had he put the light out.
It's in those short seconds that Tsuna notices the way the hand not holding the gun is pressed tightly to the man's side. His clothes are wet and the suit is too dark to notice, but he's fairly sure there's blood under it.
"Um, w-would you like some b-bandages?"
He squeaks as soon as that gaze is back to him and lifts his hands up in the universal sign of surrender. Not that he can look any weaker with the lion's slippers he's wearing.
The man's attention lingers on the bandages covering his right hand before he says, "Do you have a kit?"
Tsuna doesn't exactly breathe out in relief as he nods, but the sagging of his shoulders at seeing the gun lower implies it. He smiles a little bit, strained and shy as he points at a lower drawer of the cabinet. The man moves towards it and looks inside, free hand exploring, while at the same time he makes sure he's not moving. He doesn't know how he does it when he's practically giving him his back but it's more than a little creepy.
"You're well packed," the man says, checking the small bag with his supplies.
"I'm very, um, clumsy?"
"A clumsy boy living by himself in a bad neighborhood. Looks like the start of a horror movie."
I just hope I'm not the character that dies at the start of the movie, he thinks, momentarily amazed at how the man can take off his jacket with just a hand while making it seem graceful. It's so unfair. He's even wounded!
Tsuna looks from the jacket the man is taking off to the wound no longer being pressed, and takes a step forwards. There's a silent 'click' echoing in the room—the sound of the safety gone. It makes him remember that the gun is still being aimed at him. He stops, hands still high.
"I, uh, I could help you. I mean! I-I mean that you need help, right? You can't do it with just one hand… right?"
Actually, he's not entirely sure. Something tells him the man is actually capable of doing exactly that and more. The man even looks offended. Okay, no. His face is blank—no emotion appearing on his face, but his intuition tells him that and his intuition is never wrong. That may be why he's ready to apologize. The Japanese words translate into Italian in his brain, faster than normal thanks to the adrenaline. He opens his mouth but the 'mi dispiace' is stuck in his throat when he hears the whistle of the kettle.
As if guided by a puppeteer, Tsuna goes to the kitchen and turns off the stove. It's not until he's lifting the kettle that he realizes he ignored the man with a freaking gun inside his apartment. He blames the training he's had to endure to make a decent cup of coffee.
He slowly turns his head towards the man. "Um, would you like some coffee?"
The man doesn't snort, perhaps is too beneath him, but the thought is definitely there.
"Sure," he says, his shirt already unbuttoned and his hands testing a pair of weird looking scissors Tsuna doesn't remember buying. It doesn't matter. Tsuna turns around, trying to ignore the squeaking sound he hears behind him as he pours the water on the coffee as he's been taught. The dripper is new but he hopes the flavor is not too off because of it.
It takes him three minutes to finish, minutes he's used to gain enough courage to turn around to see how the man holding him at gunpoint while taking a bullet from some part of his torso is doing.
He's doing fine, apparently. His posture is relaxed on the chair, almost lazy. If it weren't for the blood marring his shirt, Tsuna wouldn't even know he'd been shot.
Tsuna takes the two tiny cups he surprisingly found yesterday in orange instead of the usual white and serves the coffee. He doesn't want to sit at the same table with the man so he drinks while standing. The drink is bitter as usual, but it's familiar and that's nice. He already feels a bit more awake.
The man places his gun on the table, on his side, and takes a sip of his own when he sees Tsuna take one first. Tsuna takes the lift of an eyebrow on the man's face as pleasant surprise. And while Tsuna would normally beam with pride, the gun nearby makes it difficult.
"What's your name?"
Tsuna almost jumps. "What?"
The man doesn't repeat himself, but his gaze becomes almost piercing. Tsuna considers what to say for a second. His intuition doesn't consider the man as a threat strangely, but still tells him to not give his real name. It's not a soft nudge as most suggestions are, but more of a shove. It surprises him. Perhaps a little too much. His mind comes up blank for a name that isn't 'Natsu', which he already uses for his jobs and to meet others. He probably needs another one especially for this kind of people.
A dream comes to the front of his mind. A recurring memory full of desperation and—
"Be the Sky that will change it all, little Ozora."
"Are you asking me or telling me?"
"No?" Cringing inside at the questioning tone in which was his answer, he almost misses the way the other signals his empty cup with a smile. Well, not exactly a smile. It's a tiny thing, barely a twitch of the lips, but for some reason it still fills Tsuna with a wave of nostalgia. It makes him want to reach for the object hidden in the left pocket of his pants and grip it tightly. He doesn't though.
"Fill it up then, Ozora."
Tsuna yelps and looks up. The man is standing close, placing the cup near as he moves to wash his bloodied hand. Tsuna does as he's asked and returns it to him; espresso up to the brim. He then silently studies him as the man glances outside the window that resembles more a door than anything. Tsuna himself tries to peek, but doesn't see anything. The gunshots are gone as is the angry muttering and Tsuna would normally shrug it off as everything being over, but the man is narrowing his eyes at one spot and his intuition is telling him to not move any closer if he doesn't want to be seen.
It's also pointing out the bathroom to him.
"Um, there's a window in the bathroom." The man doesn't turn but Tsuna can feel his attention on him as if he had. "I once used it to come inside because I forgot my keys," he adds, if only because the silence is oppressing. "Though you're still injured, so I don't know if you… um, well, I'm sure you're perfectly capable of—I mean, you can use it. If you want. Though you can also stay for a little bit to rest too, I guess."
The man turns around in the middle of his rambling and watches him intently. Tsuna wants to look down. He wants to really badly. Even more so when he finishes talking. The memories of a green mallet is enough to stop him from doing it though. He still lowers his head, if only a tad.
"It was smart of you to not give your real name. Offering your home is not."
"Oh." Tsuna scratches his cheek. It does sound stupid for someone who doesn't know him, but he can't exactly explain that his intuition is telling him the man's not… well. He doesn't know how to explain it aside from— "Y-You just don't seem like a bad person. Dangerous, sure, but not, uh… a bad person."
And he means it. The man wears danger like he wears his tailored suit. He'd normally say 'like a second skin', but it doesn't seem fitting for some reason. And while it's frightening how heavy and almost physical his presence is, he doesn't feel like a bad person. Just a scary one. And he's sure the man can take off that intimidating aura, no matter how well it fits or how much pride he has in it. Just like the suit he wears.
(It wouldn't surprise him if the man had a suit-like pajama. Something tells him he loves suits that much.)
His eyes are cold, but not dead. Not cruel and—And he's staring, Tsuna realizes.
With a jerk he looks at his lukewarm coffee and drinks it in one go, hoping that his eyes stayed brown as he lets the bitter taste wake him up from his pondering.
There's an almost inaudible huff of amusement coming from the man and Tsuna can see him moving from his peripheral vision, walking towards his bathroom.
So the window it is.
Tsuna waits a couple seconds before he follows him. An empty room greets him. The window is slightly ajar, cold air seeping inside. The room smells faintly of coffee but it isn't caused by the empty orange cup next to the sink. He glances up where his scarf is still airing. Then he closes the window, not bothering to glance outside as he retrieves the cup.
Normally, he'd sigh in relief but his intuition tells him he's going to meet that man again.
He sighs in resignation instead.
- x -
Again apparently being the next day in the afternoon. Because that's when the man appears, sitting on one of his two chairs and asking for another cup of coffee.
He literally just appears.
One moment Tsuna is searching for the scissors inside his kitchen to cut some articles he's been reading; the next, he returns to his living room/bedroom and finds him there checking the newspapers on top of his table, looking as if there's nothing wrong. He's wearing a similar dark suit than the one from the day before. Only less bloody and wet, a fedora resting on his head, shading his eyes away from Tsuna.
Tsuna squeaks in surprise obviously, his scissors falling to the ground.
"What are you—How did you—" he stops himself again and runs to his bathroom. The window is closed as it was in the morning before he left for his job. There's no sign that someone has forcefully entered, but if his intuition is right (and it always is), the man used it to enter.
"Aren't you going to serve me some coffee, Ozora? I'm a guest."
"You're not a guest!" he yells, but then a gun is once again aimed at his forehead in an almost unconscious habit. Tsuna is so used to having a gun pointed at him that it doesn't bother him. So he grumbles and goes to fill the kettle with some water. Takes the grinder from the cupboard and the bag of smelly coffee beans from the cookie can. The dripper and the paper filters are luckily at hand from the day before.
A couple minutes later, he's serving a cup of coffee to the stranger. He leaves the coffee kettle on the table (not to be mistaken with the water kettle with the funny-looking thin neck) before he returns to cut the articles he wanted.
He can ask why he came back, but something tells him it really is because of his coffee. And perhaps some curiosity, too. Tsuna already knows the how so he doesn't think a conversation about that is necessary. Especially when he has a limited amount of time to cut the articles before he needs to get ready for his other job.
He can't believe he actually misses school.
"You're surprisingly calm for someone who has a man who held him at gunpoint the day before inside his apartment drinking coffee."
Tsuna looks up from where he's folding a piece of paper, his eyes completely ignoring the gun on top of the table. It's a reasonable question, he thinks. Maybe a tad too reasonable. Normally he would despair at how strange his life has gotten that the presence of assassins who once threatened him don't count as something to be alarmed of in his mind. He probably is going to do it, in the safety of his covers at night anyways. But, well, he's tired. One of the guys called in sick, so there were only three people cleaning and today there was going to be an influx of customers for some reason. All morning he's had to prepare almost all the empty rooms to receive them. So yeah, he's Tired.
(The irony of having a job in cleaning while he's never been a tidy person is not lost on him.)
"Hard day at work," is his answer. He then scratches the side of his neck with a sheepish smile at the raised eyebrow he gets. "I think I'm getting used to weird things, too."
For some reason saying that makes him even more tired. He bumps his head against the table and mopes about the craziness that is his life. He mumbles about defibrillators in the morning, poisoned food for lunch and explosions at night. A possible wail of 'why' may have been included in the end before he returns to his cutting.
The man looks too amused at his despair to be normal. He twirls a weird looking sideburn with a finger and for a long, embarrassing moment he can't help but stare at it.
The click of the safety going off makes him refocus. "Is there a problem with my sideburns?"
Are they naturally that curly? He wants to ask, but appreciates living too much to do so, of course. He instead mumbles how they're kind of adorable, which is not better. The man thinks the same because he then shoots at him, just enough to graze his cheek. Normally, Tsuna would be terrified, but the action is so familiar he looks dumbly at him instead. Now that he's no longer dripping wet, Tsuna studies him. He takes note of the suit and the fedora first. The unimpressed stare, second and the curly sideburns last.
Oh my god. He's just met Reborn's dad!
His surprised face must be too annoying to look at, because the man shoots at him again. At least he now knows where Reborn got it from.
Tsuna really hopes he's not a magnet for sadists. He has enough to deal with by being a trouble magnet.
- x -
The stranger he suspects is Reborn's dad, unsurprisingly, becomes something of a fixture of his day to day basis. Well, except for those long days he goes missing, but he always returns and sometimes even brings newspapers from other parts of Italy (and other countries of Europe) from his trips. Tsuna would think it's his way of paying for the coffee but he's already the one buying the coffee beans, so he doesn't. Thinking he's doing it because he's being nice makes something crawl up his spine so he always erases the thought with vigor before it forms.
Another strange thing about him is that he doesn't give his name, ever. Tsuna goes as far as asking politely. The man tells him to call him whatever he wants, but he does it with a tone that suggests pain if he doesn't like it.
Tsuna calls him Stranger-san.
Stranger-san calls him unimaginative.
- x -
"Will it help? If we all join… will it help?"
"Perhaps. Perhaps not. There's not a connection between them. It doesn't matter the amount of energy you can gather or—"
"How, then?! Isn't there another option?"
"It depends in what are you willing to sacrifice."
"Not my friends."
"Then what about yourself?"