WARNING: This chapter does involve the misnaming/misgendering of Natsu - and has a character insisting that his gender is the result of a mental illness/injury that can and should be 'fixed.'
When Sakurai Shinya got their law degree and moved to Namimori, he'd honestly never thought that one day, he'd be walking into his firm to find his boss practically shoving him into an office with a panicked look on his face.
"New client, wants to go over the specifics of his divorce, be thorough!" his boss panic whispers, before fleeing to the safety of his own office. Shinya stares at the trail, before turning to appraise his last minute appointment. Given his boss's reaction, he'd half expected a man in a suit that costs more than his house, surrounded by large, muscled men like something from a yakuza movie.
Instead, he meets the eyes of a blond man wearing garishly orange overalls, and looking rather frazzled. He gives Shinya an overeager grin as he walks towards his desk, and slaps a set of documents on the table.
"Good morning!" the man says. "I'm Sawada Iemitsu, and there's been a bit of a mix up."
"I see. Well, I'm Sakurai Shinya, and I understand you're here for advice regarding a divorce?" Shinya greets, picking up the documents. "Are you in the beginning stages, or are you looking to switch lawyers?"
Iemitsu gives a nervous chuckle. "Not exactly. I'm already divorced."
He taps the top of the documents in Shinya's hands. "Had to pull some strings to get you a copy this early, but that's the full document."
Shinya nods. "Okay, so you're looking to amend some of the alimony or custody requirements? You'll need to prove your circumstances have changed if your ex-wife isn't agreeable to have any chance of that."
Iemitsu laughs. It's not a nice sound.
"Actually, I was wondering if there was any way to undo it."
Shinya stills, and looks up from the document.
"Right. Surely there's a way to reverse it?"
Shinya gives a long slow blink, and drops the papers on the desk.
"Mr. Sawada, a divorce is quite literally the dissolution of a contract. Once signed, it cannot be undone. You would need to get married again."
And given that his ex-wife isn't in the room, Shinya's willing to bet a considerable sum she's not interested.
Sawada doesn't seem happy with that answer, because he sags in his chair, and leans across the table.
"Come on, there's got to be something," he pleads. "This can't have been legal."
Shinya starts frowning again, and shuffles through the documents. "This is your signature, yes?"
"Then it's legal," Shinya replies. "The time to protest was before you signed them."
"But I didn't know they were divorce papers when I was signing them!" Sawada protests, and Shinya's eyes widen.
"I'm sorry, you didn't know ?"
The man goes into a long ramble about loan papers and being busy, but Shinya is just sitting there in a state of shock, before his eyes flit back to the documents and double checks the date.
"Mr. Sawada, you've been divorced for over two years," he tells him. "Surely your ex-wife must have explained this to you at some point."
His client suddenly finds Shinya's desk very interesting, and he quickly puts the pieces together.
"You haven't spoken to your ex-wife in two years," he says. "Despite believing you were still married."
"I work abroad, and I have a very busy schedule!" Sawada protests. "My dear sweet Nana never cared before!"
His 'dear sweet Nana' probably didn't have a baby before, Shinya thinks to himself, and drops the documents back to the desk.
"Mr Sawada, I cannot help you," he states. "The divorce was completed, and even if there was a cooling off period, you would have long since passed it. The fact that it's taken you two years to notice would get you laughed out of court."
The man flushes bright red.
"Fine," he mutters. "Can you at least tell me what I agreed to? I want to make sure I haven't missed something."
Shinya nods, glad the man is at least acknowledging reality, and starts reading the document. "Have you read it yourself?"
"Skimmed. Didn't have much time between grabbing the documents and coming here."
The lawyer hums, scanning the document. The ex had clearly gone for simplicity, there's nothing vicious or particularly spiteful, and honestly that's surprising. If Shinya was married to someone who'd sign legal documents without reading them, he'd have pushed for better terms than this.
He hesitates at one of the final claims, eyes widening at the fine print.
Scratch that, he'd have taken Iemitsu to the cleaners ...
"Well, from what I can tell, the divorce was filed as a mutual agreement, which was why it could be filed without you present," Shinya explains. "Your ex-wife set her terms, and you would have had the opportunity to amend them before signing. However, since you didn't, you'd need to go to court to argue them."
"And the terms?" Sawada growls.
"First of all, she was given full custody of your son, and no rights to visitation have been set. However, there's nothing forbidding it either, so you might be able to hash that out without getting lawyers involved. Child support and alimony was fixed at the amount you were already sending each month."
That's actually quite smart of his ex. Shinya's starting to suspect this whole contract was designed so that Iemitsu wouldn't notice a difference.
"What about the house?" Sawada presses, and Shinya turns a page.
"It's still in your name," Shinya says. "More documents and interaction on your end would have been needed for the transfer. However, the divorce gives your ex-wife the right to live in it until your son reaches the age of majority."
"Wait, can she do that?"
"If you agree to it? Certainly," Shinya says, looking up from the file. "There is a caveat that if you sell, she's to get 50% of the value, but otherwise you'd have to take her to court to evict her. There were no other major finances to split, and you both agreed to take ownership of whatever you brought into the marriage."
He flips the final page, and grits his teeth as he reads the most unconventional part of the contract.
"Finally, in case of death on your ex-wife's part, her son is to go to a guardian of her choosing, rather than you," he says, and Sawada flinches as if shot.
"He's my son!" Sawada defends. "How could she justify that?"
"She would need evidence that you were not a suitable candidate, and she had it," Shinya explains. "Were you aware that your wife was in an accident a few months before she filed for divorce."
He admits to getting some vindictive pleasure from the way Iemitsu's face pales. "Accident?"
"Quite a significant one," Shinya confirms. "The document doesn't go into detail, but the fine print states the evidence provided shows she was very lucky to survive. And despite multiple attempts to contact you, there was no success. Had she died, your son would have been placed in government care. Given that you haven't contacted anyone in nearly 2 years, it's possible that you would have lost guardianship rights anyway at this point. And quite possibly facing criminal charges."
Shinya sets the document down and leans back in his seat. "In my personal opinion, that was probably what triggered the divorce. Your wife was on death's door and you never came."
Sawada grabs the documents and shuffles to the last page. "I never-I mean...I couldn't have known!"
He looks up with pleading eyes, but Shinya has absolutely no sympathy for him. Maybe if he'd shown up a year and a half ago, but really?
"You had two years to find out," Shinya says. "I'm sorry, but I'm not sure there's anything I can do for you."
"No..." Sawada utters. "You're right. This is something I have to fix."
He grabs the documents, and heads out the door. Shinya shakes head and prays that the idiot never darkens his door again – although he does hear the man asking for directions to the local hospital, and suspects his ex is in for a bad couple of days.
When Natsu gets home, he's struck by how empty the building feels. It's been a long time since he's been completely alone in the house, and it's not as relaxing as he'd hoped. Not with the imminent threat now bearing down on him.
He takes a deep breath, trying to steady himself, and walks into the kitchen, mentally preparing for the upcoming meeting. Part of him wonders if he should call up the Yamamoto's for support, and he hesitates before picking up the phone. It feels a little childish, to be asking for backup to deal with Iemitsu. He had left when Natsu asked. If he doesn't react well and insists on another meeting, maybe then, but it seems like an overreaction.
Still…nothing from Vongola has ever been simple in the long term. Overreacting is the safest thing he can do.
"Good morning! Yamamoto Akiko speaking."
"Morning Akiko," Natsu greets.
"Natsu!" Akiko cheers. "Feeling the separation anxiety? How did Mukuro handle this morning?"
"There were some bumps, but it all worked out," Natsu tells her. "He went in willingly in the end. But there was a different issue this morning before we left."
"Oh? What's wrong."
Natsu sighs. He's never really explained the full situation regarding him and 'Nana' to Akiko. Tsuyoshi knows the bare bones, but Akiko is only aware that Natsu hasn't always been Natsu, and he divorced from Tsunayoshi's father a few years ago. She's never pressed, and Natsu has always appreciated her for that...but that time is over.
"My ex-husband, Iemitsu, came home. Apparently, he didn't realise we were divorced, and wants to discuss it."
"...You've been divorced two years," Akiko says, voice flat.
"Dear god, I lucked out with my Tsuyoshi, but I didn't know the bar was that low," Akiko mutters. "Tell me you kicked him out on his rear."
"Not exactly," Natsu admits. "I was busy with the kids, so I told him to come back later."
"Come back- He divorced you without even realising what he'd done! What exactly do you have to discuss?"
Natsu sighs. "Well, since he apparently doesn't understand what he signed, I can spell it out for him. There are also a few items that are legally his that I can give him."
"...You really think he'll leave if you give him a couple of keepsakes?"
Akiko gives a soft chuckle, before asking, as delicately as she can:
"Do you want us there as moral support?" she asks, and Natsu bites his lip.
"I hate to ask, but it would help a lot," Natsu admits. "Especially since Tsuyoshi and Iemitsu have history. He won't try anything too extreme if he's there."
That's clearly the wrong thing to say, because Akiko's voice takes a dark turn.
"Natsu, do you think he'll hurt you?"
"No," Natsu says immediately. "But I'm also not sure he'll leave willingly. Especially since he was never informed that I'm 'Natsu' now. He was quiet surprised when he saw me."
"...Ah. That could complicate things."
"And I want him gone before the kids are back," Natsu finishes. "Given how agitated Mukuro was this morning, I do not need this getting in his head."
"He is a territorial little critter," Akiko admits. "Okay, sure, no problem. Me and Tsuyoshi will be there. When is he coming?"
"Next few hours. I was so focused on getting him away from the door I wasn't specific," Natsu says.
"Okay. We'll play it safe and be there soon. You prepare mentally, and we'll see you soon."
Natsu thanks her, and hangs up, before heading to his room to dig out the legal papers and any necessary items to prepare for battle.
As promised, the Yamamoto's are on the door within thirty minutes, and Natsu quickly has them helping him put a few boxes of things together. Photos of Iemitsu and Tsuna, the bridal photo, his more expensive items of clothing, watches, and any random item around the house Natsu knows belongs to him. During which, he gives his allies a more in depth explanation of the situation, starting with his accident – and the information that Iemitsu absolutely cannot learn.
"So he literally left you to die?" Akiko hisses, looking like she's going to go looking for something sharp, and Natsu shrugs.
"He certainly didn't put much effort in keeping tabs on his wife," he says. "Either way, I wasn't his wife when I woke up, in every way that mattered except legally."
"And he has no idea that you're the one whose been poking around the Mafia?" Tsuyoshi asks.
"Nope, and it needs to stay that way," Natsu explains. He'd gone with the same explanation he'd given Lavina, and they'd taken it with the same level of acceptance. They know he's keeping some of the story from them, but aren't pushing. Tsuyoshi however, admits he's now very grateful he'd brought Shigure Kintouki with him – he'd suspected it would be good for intimidation, but now they need to keep Iemitsu distracted from asking the wrong questions – Tsuna got that intuition from somewhere.
For that reason, he also collects the Mare rings from both of the Yamamoto's, and slips his own off – handing them to Akiko for safe keeping. Best to leave them with the inactive, and it means they'll be in close proximity if Iemitsu reaches Xanxus levels of rejection.
Ninety minutes after his backup arrived, there's another knock at the door, and Natsu braces himself for the upcoming conversation.
Iemitsu at least, looks more composed than the last time he'd been at the door. His eyes flick down Natsu's frame again, and it's only through his own intuition that Natsu can see his discomfort. His face is nothing but smiles and charm.
"Nana! It's so good to see you again."
"Iemitsu," Natsu greets, holding back the flinch, and opens the door. "Please come in."
He's clearly caught off guard when he walks into the kitchen and finds the Yamamoto's waiting for them, and his eyes wander on Tsuyoshi just a little too long, before sitting at the table.
"I was kind of hoping this would just be between us," Iemitsu begins, as Natsu starts preparing coffee.
"The Yamamoto's are dear friends of mine," Natsu replies. "They wanted to be here to support me."
Akiko gives him a butter-wouldn't-melt grin that absolutely nobody believes is sincere, and Iemitsu's own smile twitches.
"Well, I'm glad you've had friends to help you," he says, when Natsu sits down and sets out the mugs. "But considering what you've been through, I'm surprised they haven't helped you more. You clearly need it."
He reaches over to try and grab Natsu's hand, only to pause when Natsu flinches and tucks both of them under the table and out of reach. His hand retracts, and his smile becomes more strained.
"I'm not sure what you mean," Natsu replies. "Plenty of couples get divorced, and I've been doing a pretty good job so far."
"Natsu is an excellent caregiver," Akiko offers. "The kids all adore him."
She winces when Iemitsu pins her with a stare.
Natsu quickly leans over the table to get Iemitsu's attention back to them. "Yes, Iemitsu. Him."
Iemitsu leans back in his chair, the smile finally leaving his face for a more passive expression, but doesn't reply.
"I had my gender legally changed around the same time as the divorce," Natsu explains. "I consider myself a man, in all ways that matter. My name is Natsu now."
"You...I had heard rumours, when I saw some neighbours," Iemitsu mutters. "But truly?"
His head drops, staring at the table with shaking shoulders, and Natsu turns to stare at both Akiko and Tsuyoshi in shock. While he hadn't expected the news to go down well, this is more than they'd considered.
But then, Iemitsu has just learned that his wife is no longer his wife in literally every manner of speaking. Perhaps this pain should have been expected.
"Iemitsu, I'm sorry-" Natsu starts, almost subconsciously, tentatively reaching with one hand to comfort – only to yank it back as Iemitsu's head jerks up, and he starts laughing.
"Of course! It all makes sense now!" he says, sounding strangely relieved. "I knew Nana wouldn't really leave me."
Natsu gapes. What?
"Iemitsu, what are you-"
The man isn't paying attention, shaking his head and digging into a briefcase Natsu hadn't even realised he'd brought with him.
"After I spoke with a lawyer, I went to the hospital, and found out about your accident," Iemitsu explains. "I am so sorry I wasn't there Nana. I swear I'll spend the rest of my life making it up to you."
Natsu's eyes widen. Iemitsu is clearly working under some major misunderstanding.
Across the table, both Akiko and Tsuyoshi have tensed.
"His name is Natsu," Tsuyoshi warns. Iemitsu doesn't even acknowledge them, pulling out a file.
"The whole time I was travelling back, I couldn't make sense of it," Iemitsu continues. "Why on earth would Nana ever divorce me? That wasn't like her at all, but brain damage explains everything!"
The file is dropped on the table, and Natsu pales when he realises exactly what it is.
"You stole my hospital files?" he says in shock, grabbing the folder in horror. "This shouldn't even leave the hospital!"
"I had to understand what happened, and the Doctor's refused to tell me anything," Iemitsu defends. "My Nana would never have divorced me, we were in love!"
His face goes soft, and he offers a smile Natsu suspects would be affectionate in another situation. "But once I got this-"
He taps the folder twice. "-It all made sense. You've gotten confused. The accident messed up your head. You've forgotten who you are, what we had together. But I promise-"
Natsu squawks as the folder bends in half before slipping from his hands. Iemitsu has grabbed them with his own and forced them to let go as he pushes them together under his own, holding them tight.
"-I'm going to make this right," he says. "There are doctors, people, treatments, we can use to help fix this. We can get Tsuna and our new boys back their Mama. We can even get married again, give you the big fancy ceremony you wanted the first time. I promise, we'll get the real Nana back where she belongs."
Natsu almost feels faint, but when he hears the growling coming from Tsuyoshi – oh how much better life is now that the chef's ire is directed in defence of him – yanks his hands away.
"The 'real Nana' doesn't exist any more," Natsu tells him. "Not for years. Which you'd know if you genuinely gave a damn."
Iemitsu flinches. "Nana, I know I messed up, but-"
Akiko cuts him off, standing up and slamming her hands on the table. "It's Natsu! You can at least show some common courtesy when speaking to someone you claim to care about."
That clearly triggers something, because Iemitsu drops any attempts at appearing placid and non-threatening. The look he sends towards Akiko is 100% the CEDEF Commander.
"If you truly cared about her, you'd have convinced her to seek help," he argues back. "Not helped her maintain this delusion."
"It's not a delusion," Natsu defends. "And we're getting off topic. My identity is not what this meeting was about."
"It has everything to do with this meeting," Iemitsu says. "If the doctors had caught this and fixed it at the start, you wouldn't be under the belief that you were a man and divorced me!"
Nana stands up, channels as much of 'the Natsu?' as he dares, and faces the man.
"You're a fool if you think my gender is the reason I divorced you," he states. "'Nana' loved you enough to not care about such things."
Natsu has to be careful here. Iemitsu will be able to hear any lie, so the misdirection must be laced with truth. He desperately holds his flames back to keep them from showing in his eyes, and stares down Iemitsu.
"No. The truth is, any affection for you vanished in the hospital, when you left her alone to die ."
Iemitsu makes to stand...and thinks better of it. To Natsu's pride, the other man is the first to look away.
"I swear, if I'd known that was why people in Japan were trying to get into contact with me, I would have been there," he mumbles rather weakly. "I couldn't have known, I was busy..."
"True, you couldn't. But to not even try to call back? So many attempts, and not even a voicemail?" Natsu presses. "It's been two years Iemitsu. No excuse in the world is going to justify that."
"Why do you think he's trying to press so hard for brain damage?" Tsuyoshi offers, with a sarcastic bite. "It stops being his fault if the problem is with you."
"You stay out of this," Iemitsu warns. Tsuyoshi raises his eyebrows.
"I think you hit the nail on the head, Tsuyoshi," Natsu quips, and sighs.
"Look, Iemitsu. Whatever you had here is gone. You agreed to the divorce and it's terms. If you're looking for a relationship with Tsuna, I won't forbid it, but he hasn't exactly missed you, so if you're planning on just popping into his life once every couple of years, I'd advise you don't."
"This is still my house-"
"Which I have permission, from you, to inhabit until Tsuna comes of age," Natsu reminds him. "The only things in this house that you do have a right to..."
He nods to Akiko and Tsuyoshi, who grab two boxes that have been against a wall for this conversation. "Are in these. One is clothing, the other is valuables and photos. Let me know if you think I've missed something."
The boxes are dropped on the table, and Iemitsu gingerly lifts up the flaps of one, pulling out a photo of him and Nana, before Tsuna's birth. He stares at it for a few moments, then shakes his head.
"I don't accept it," he says. "This can't be over. We were in love. You and I, we were the romance people dreamed of. You swore you'd always love me, even when I had to leave. That you'd always stay loyal and wait, no matter what. Doesn't that mean anything to you any more?"
...That actually explains a lot about his parents' marriage...
"It doesn't," Natsu confirms. "Is there anything else?"
Iemitsu stares at him, before glancing over at the Yamamoto's, and letting his expression harden.
"I guess there isn't," he says, lifting the box with the valuables.
"You need help with the other box?" Akiko asks, sickly sweet.
"No," Iemitsu says with some bite. "I'll be back for it tomorrow. Gives me time to look through this one and confirm everything's there."
Natsu had expected him to root through it in the house, to spend more time pleading his case, but perhaps Iemitsu's intuition is finally getting through to him about how pointless that would be.
"Same time then?" Natsu asks, and Iemitsu nods, clearly distracted. The box is arranged under his arm, and he walks to the door. Natsu shadows him, and when they get to the entrance, Iemitsu stops and looks at Natsu one last time.
"I know you don't believe me any more, but I love you," he says. "Maybe I didn't show it the same way that growling attack dog you call a friend does, but you were everything I never knew I needed. Perfect in every way. I'll never love anyone close to how I love you."
Natsu just stares back, as impassive as he can.
He only just avoids slamming the door shut, and once it's closed, sags against it, finally letting his flames free of their tight restraint, bleeding into his eyes and flowing through his veins.
That bastard...that complete and utter bastard.
What good were pretty words now? The woman who needed to hear them has been dead years, and replaced with another soul entirely. She can't even have a burial, because Natsu took her place. It doesn't matter if Iemitsu loved Nana, if Nana loved him, or what they'd promised. At the end of the day. In this reality? Iemitsu hadn't deserved Nana. He'd betrayed her completely and utterly, in a way Natsu had always suspected he would. Between his wife and his work, both Tsuna and Nana had always known which Iemitsu would choose.
The worst part is, Natsu knows Nana would have forgiven him. His mother had never looked more alive than when Iemitsu walked through the door. To not be there when she's on his deathbed would just be laughed off as a funny story to tell horrified guests.
Maybe that's why they were so perfect for each other? A man who offered crumbs, and a woman who never even looked for the cake. The stuff fairytales are made of.
He looks up, to see a worried Akiko leaning out the kitchen doorway. He offers her a smile, but it's clearly not enough, because she's walking over and wrapping him in a tight hug.
"Are you okay?" she asks. "I'm so glad you called us. You shouldn't have to deal with that ass alone."
Natsu quickly returns the hug, giving her a shaky laugh.
"Yeah, thank you for being there," he offers. "I'm okay though."
Akiko pulls away and pouts, one hand reaching up and tapping a finger on the edge of his eye.
"You are not," she says. "You're bleeding through."
For a second, Natsu wonders if Iemitsu injured him without realising, before catching on and letting his flames die down, returning his eyes to their natural brown as they walk back into the kitchen.
"Sorry, I just...it was hard, keeping them contained for that."
When they enter, he's almost feeling back to normal, and when he sits back at the table, Tsuyoshi starts talking.
"He's not going to give up," he warns, finally picking up one of the coffee mugs absolutely no one had drank from. "I don't know him well, but a man like that doesn't give up on his first attempt."
Natsu winces. "I was rather hoping I made my case clear enough."
Tsuyoshi gives him a sympathetic smile. "It's not about rationale. For some men, it's a matter of pride. If nothing else, I'd call your lawyer to make sure there's nothing in your divorce that he can twist."
Not a bad piece of advice. Natsu hadn't been completely thorough with the first draft, expecting Iemitsu to challenge at least part of it, so there could be things a man with Vongola's connections could use against him.
"Do you want us here tomorrow too?" Akiko asks, pulling out the rings and handing them back to her husband and Natsu before slipping her own back on. Natsu shakes his head.
"No, I should be fine on my own," he says. "He just needs to pick up a box and anything I forgot to give him. No need to even let him inside."
"If you're sure," Akiko replies. "But...maybe call us after he leaves? Just so we know everything's good."
Natsu smiles back. "Sure thing."
That afternoon, he collects the trio from kindergarten, and while they've questioned Tsuna about the morning visitor, the explanation that Iemitsu is his 'Papa' and someone he and his father don't like very much hasn't yielded any questions. Given what Ken and Chikusa have been through, he's not entirely sure if they've had the birds and the bees explained to them, or if they're even aware Natsu wasn't always Natsu. But if they're not going to ask, Natsu isn't going to tell.
Mukuro, on the other hand, is no doubt going to have his hackles raised the second he learns about Iemitsu's existence – which he inevitably will. The younger kids have never succeeded in keeping anything from him – and Chikusa doesn't even try. The only option Natsu really has, is to explain it to him first, now that the immediate danger has passed. Which is why he's left the trio at home, and gone to collect Mukuro on his own. The boy could walk it, but given how panicked the boy had been this morning, Natsu wants to be there at the end.
He waits as the other kids all start pouring out, some leaving on their own, others running up to other parents – out of the corner of his eye, he thinks he sees a familiar shock of white hair running past – but seconds later, his attention is caught by the figure walking out the door.
To his utter relief, Mukuro is walking at a steady pace, head held high, with a placid expression on his face. An expression that vanishes at the sight of Natsu waiting for him, warping into something far more delighted for a brief instant, before slipping back to something more neutral.
"Hello Natsu," he greets, walking up to him with a smile. "You didn't have to collect me."
Natsu smiles, and ruffles the boy's hair. Mukuro takes it as permission and moves closer, arms raised upwards to reach Natsu's waist for a hug.
"It was your first day, I wanted to hear all about it," Natsu tells him. When Mukuro releases his hold, they start heading for the gate. "So? As bad as you were fearing?"
Mukuro shakes his head, looking up at Natsu in something akin to relief.
"No. You were right, there's nothing here I can't handle," he says. "I think I mistepped a little, but the teachers didn't seem to mind. A lot of kids were making much larger mistakes."
Natsu laughs. "Told you. It's an adjustment, I know. But you'll figure it out."
Mukuro nods, but Natsu's humour dies off when he notices Mukuro frowning slightly.
"One thing was annoying," Mukuro says, when he realises Natsu is watching him closely. "My classmates."
Natsu suspects he knows where this is going. "Oh?"
"I didn't think they'd all be so...childish."
He sounds so disappointed, Natsu can't help but smile. One hand ruffles Mukuro's hair, while Natsu runs his other hand through his own.
"The teacher said we all had to try and be friends," Mukuro continues, after Natsu stops playing with the strands on his head. "I tried, I did , but they're all so slow and dumb, and they care about stupid things."
"You're probably more mature than a lot of them," Natsu admits. "You have more life experience than most kids your age. But that doesn't mean you can't find common ground. It might take time, but I'm sure you'll be able to find a few you don't mind making friends with."
Mukuro looks up with a frown. "Even though they can't keep up?"
"Well...Tsuna can't keep up, and you like him, right?" Natsu asks. Mukuro's eyes narrow, but he nods in acceptance.
"I guess, we can still play together," he agrees. "But Tsuna tries to keep up. My classmates act like I'm the weird one."
"Because Tsuna is already your brother and friend and wants to get to know you better, while your classmates don't know you yet," Natsu tells him. "When Tsuna gets older, he might be able to connect with you more, and the same is true with your classmates."
Mukuro doesn't answer, looking at the ground. He really looks more worried about this than he should be, and Natsu is hit with realisation.
" But , if you try and still can't find anyone you want to be friends with, that's okay," he promises. "The point is to try. You have plenty of years to make friends."
Mukuro's head jerks up in shock. "Really? I don't have to make friends?"
"You need to try ," Tsuna affirms. "And your teachers might reprimand you for it if you fail, but if there's no one you want to be friends with right now, I won't push you."
The boy's face sags in utter relief, and he nods gratefully. Natsu grins back.
"Anyway, how were your classes?" he asks, getting back on a safer subject. "Nothing too hard, right?"
"Nope, it was easy," Mukuro says with pride. "What about you? Bet you missed having me around all day to teach."
Natsu hesitates, wondering if he should bring it up. Yes, Natsu had planned on telling Mukuro about Iemitsu, but he'd rather hoped he could hold it off and enjoy Mukuro's first day adventures for a little while longer.
Unfortunately, the indecision goes on a second too long, and Mukuro stops dead on the street.
"What classes did you have?" Natsu tries. "Did you get any homework?"
The Mist isn't having any of it.
"What happened?" he asks. "You're acting strange. Is something wrong?"
He grits his teeth. "That pervert doctor didn't come back, did he?"
Natsu sighs. So much for his happy normal moment with his eldest.
"No, it was someone else. Let me explain..."