Disclaimer: I do not own KHR.
Summary: When Tsuna's pride - his family - shattered, there really weren't anymore reasons for him to be the all-encompassing Sky. But when he was given another chance, to protect them once more, he didn't hesitate - even if it's in another parallel world where he is no longer Vongola Decimo but his twin brother, his Elements no longer his but his brother's... and Vongola is falling (quite literally in terms of ranks).
Tsuna has a very strong urge to ram his head against the wall. (If the circumstances allowed him to, he really would.)
He strode out of the cemetery, finding himself on unfamiliar grounds that was once so familiar once upon a time.
The streets of Namimori was spic and span as always, though... Tsuna surveyed around. Some buildings have been reconstructed into bigger ones while others were removed completely—just like that convenience store around the corner with a second story that wasn't there before.
Vaguely, he felt his Intuition mildly thrumming a warning. However, the sounds of the police siren quickly gained his attention and the sound was only getting louder and louder in his direction, much to his dismay. (Because Intuition + police sirens = trouble and being a trouble-magnet such as himself... Tsuna was absolutely positive that he was the next target—if not already.)
Tsuna's eye-lid twitched ever-so-slightly, then decisively turn on his heels and—
—made the best decision ever in the first hour that he landed himself in the future.
He swore, luck was never on his side. Ever. What else could it have been for him to run right into the trouble he was trying to avoid? The man he ran into had some rather dangerous not-toys that went flying as the aftermath of their collision and Tsuna's first reaction was to try to catch them. (He blamed Lambo for this reflex.) Worse yet was that they were caught by the police moments after and—and he was suspected of being partners in crime?!
(Tsuna, for the nth time, cursed his luck.)
"Innocent?" The officer sitting across from Tsuna raised a brow, a mug of coffee resting on the table. "We'll know by the end of this session. Ken, what's taking so long?!"
"Comin', comin', yeesh! Will it kill ya to ease it on the caffeine, ol' man?"
"..." Tsuna's attention turned towards the door to see a young man in another set of police uniform entering with files in one hand. He paused, staring at the man's face for several long seconds.
"Whatcha lookin' at, kiddo?" Ken threw out a question as he pulled up a chair to sit next to the previously speaking officer. "Did I get ketchup on my face again?"
The other officer ungraciously snorted. "Face it, your table manners were mortifying to look at in the first place."
"As if yer any better," Ken clicked his tongue to show his dissatisfaction. "Seniors these days, sheesh."
"Aye, juniors these days." Sighed the older officer. "No respect whatsoever."
"..." Tsuna watched the two going back and forth throwing insults at each other, but from the tone, it didn't sound like they really mean anything by it.
"Anywho," The older officer sat upright, feet flat on the ground. "Lad, you can call me Officer Luke, the sprout next to me is Tanaka Ken. Call him whatever."
Ken muttered something incoherent but passing over the documents he brought over like the good subordinate that he is.
Tsuna nodded in acknowledgment. " My name is Tsuna, full name Sawada Tsunayoshi."
"Uh-huh," Luke grunted, taking a sip from his coffee mug. "Do you have an ID with you, lad, so we could cut to the chase?"
"..." Tsuna paused for a fleeting second, regretting applying for an identification card recently.
Still, under the scrutiny of both officers, Tsuna obediently fished out the card from his pocket and slide it across the table.
Luke mentally took note of the brunet's reaction while picking up the ID.
"Sawada Tsunayoshi, male, born on—" He abruptly paused from reading off of the card, looking up at Tsuna and then back. As if to check if he still had 20/20 vision, he rubbed his eyes and repeat the same back and forth gesture over a few more times. "... You're born in 19XX?"
"Ol' man, ya finally need glasses?" Ken couldn't help but show his skepticism, the boy looked no older than sixteen!
"I think it's time you get a psychiatrist because you're hallucinating again," Luke retorted back without skipping a beat, handing both the ID over to Ken to prove that his eyesight is perfectly fine.
"The hell, he's only a year younger than me...?!" Ken was still in disbelief as he brought the government-issued document closer to inspect the small font. "Hold up, this ID expired five years ago!" Then that only meant...
Both officers turned to Tsuna, eyes narrowed in suspicion simultaneously. If it wasn't because of their age, they might as well be mistaken for siblings.
"I swear to all existing lords above," Knowing this coming a mile away, Tsuna quickly pledged with a raised hand before the other two could accuse him of identity fraud. "I'm the real deal, positively, absolutely authentic." (Tsuna never thought he would use 'authentic' to describe himself.)
"Then how do ya explain this?" Ken demanded, sliding Tsuna's ID back to him with a flick of his wrist.
What can Tsuna say? He came from the past and had only applied for his ID recently for convenience? Obviously not. (Even if he did, no ordinary person will believe him.)
"I... I came from ten years in the past by accident." Never hurts to try anyway.
"..." Luke and Ken obviously did not believe a word the brunet was sprouting out of his mouth no matter how sincere Tsuna looked and sounded.
"Yeah, and I'm ta mad genius who broke time-travel," Ken retorted sarcastically before slamming both hands on the table forcibly with a loud—bam! "Ya take us fer idiots?!"
"Ken, stay professional—and hands off the table, I don't want to see your table-flipping skills." Luke held his subordinate down by the shoulder. His sharp eyes penetrating as he looked at Tsuna. "Lad, let's be more realistic with ourselves so as to not waste both your and our times."
"Alright, Officer." Tsuna sighed, raising his hands in a show of defeat while anticipating this would be the result.
However... Tsuna masked his thoughts under a smile, it will make what he was going to say next become more acceptable... despite the irony of it all. Still, he applied what he learned from Reborn about negotiations in their 59th lesson of becoming a mafia boss. Lowering the other party's expectations and standards psychologically is one of the techniques that he had experimented with. It could affect the other party's judgment and cause them to subconsciously lower their guards as well as the tolerance level for their demands.
"I live deep in the mountains and rarely come down for the past ten years."
"..." Luke and Ken shared a doubting glance but found this reason to be more plausible than time travel. Besides, they have a couple of registered residences in the mountains around Namimori.
"Okay," Luke took it with a grain of salt. "Let's say you do live like a hermit." He gestured to the ID. "The question still goes back to this. Your ID was issued when you were sixteen and expired when you turned twenty-one, but your current appearance is an exact match to the photo on the card. Explain."
It wouldn't be my ID otherwise, Tsuna idly entertained. "Ever heard of a dwarf?"
"... That doesn't explain why you still look like a teenager."
"I was born with a lot of health issues."
"So, I was hospitalized since young."
"And accidents happen so I never hit puberty." (And out the window his dignity as a man goes.)
"Can't help it if my genes mutated like that." The brunet continued to spin his tale without the slightest slip in his expression. "You don't think I want to look my age?"
(At this point, Tsuna couldn't decide whether or not this excuse topped the sumo wrestling one.)
"... ahem," Luke coughed awkwardly into his fist, not expecting this curve ball... at all. Other than completely blindsided, he couldn't find anything wrong with that explanation than it being a little far-fetched. Then again, nature has a lot of unexplainable phenomenons so there was that. (He was definitely not sympathetic for the... the man. Definitely not.) "And this ties into you living in the mountains because...?"
"Like I Said," Tsuna shrugged nonchalantly, a hint of a victorious smile flashed obscurely across his eyes for a split second when he noticed that his opponent was successfully thrown. "I have a lot of health issues. Lacking a growth spurt is one, having a compromised constitution is another—There was a point where I couldn't take two steps without feeling short of breath because of a simple cold I tell ya! Then there was this one incident that left me hospitalized for seven years in a coma—"
Luke choked on the coffee he regretted taking a sip of just now.
"—And when I finally woke up, some old priest at the temple told my parents some mumbo jumbo about curses or something and that it's better for my well-being if I'm at minimal contact with society. And so, they send me to live with one of my distant relatives they found taking up residence in the mountains."
"The hell?" Ken could help but curse. He was feeling more and more sorry for the—err... guy. "The life yer leading is pretty... pretty complicated."
That's an understatement. Tsuna snorted. "You have no idea."
"... you have a pretty healthy mentality despite everything," Luke raised a brow. "I've seen people broke down in their less-than-favorable circumstances and never coming back out."
"Well... it wasn't exactly a smooth sail all the time, especially at the beginning," Tsuna wore a faraway look when he reminisced back on his life at home and in this world. "But I have this one tutor—and I swear he's Satan reincarnated—who guided me through and I eventually learned to make lemonade with the lemons that life threw at me."
"I still need to keep up with my education so, yes, I have a jack-of-all-trades home-tutor for a period of time. He and my doctor were really my only visitors, both were friends of my distant family friend."
"... my tutor is Riboyama-sensei," He had to take a brief pause because Reborn had too many alter egos for his own good and he needed to pick one that was less conspicuous. "And my doctor goes by Dr. Shamal."
"And how often do you come in contact with them?"
"My tutor's visits are sporadic after he doesn't teach me anymore - it really just depends on his mood," Tsuna answered, seemingly trying to think. "But my doctor only visits me when I'm about out of medication, which is about once a year, and that's when I get my annual checkups."
"... You have a year's supply of medication?" Ken couldn't help but asked, incredulous.
"Well, yeah," Tsuna tilted his head in slight bemusement. "Typical medicine retains in relatively good condition for at least a year or two."
"Ken," Luke warned before pulling the conversation back. "How do you get in contact with your doctor, say, in emergencies?"
"... by phone?" Tsuna gave him the question 'do I look like an idiot?' written explicitly on his face.
(Tsuna: 1, Police: 0)
"No, wait," Ken raised his voice again, a little uncertain. "You have a phone?"
"I don't have it with me right now but I do have one. Why can't I have a phone?" Tsuna asked with a do-I-look-like-a-caveman-to-you expression. "I'm not completely cut off from civilization, else I would've been bored to death long ago."
"... mountains have bad signals...?"
"What do you do when your cell phone lost its signal?" Tsuna asked patiently as if he was faced with a three-year-old.
"Hold it up high," Ken answered without thinking.
"..." Ken fell into silence and decided it was time to ponder about the meaning of life.
(Tsuna: 2, Police: 0)
"Back to the point," Tsuna turned his attention to Luke after scoring a victory for himself. "I applied for an ID before I left for the mountains at the age of sixteen in case I ever need to use it when I make the occasional trip down. But I never really got the chance to do anything with it so I didn't think to get it renewed."
"What do you come down for?" Luke asked as if he didn't just bear witness to his subordinate's idiocy.
Tsuna gave the older man a look, causing Luke's eyelid to involuntarily twitch. The look meant anything but good.
"Do you know how to sew?"
"... no, what does this—"
"Do you know how to farm?"
"Do you know how to make things such as toilet paper, toothpaste, and cloth from scratch?"
"..." If Luke didn't understand what the brunet was trying to get at this point in time, then he could go back to preschool.
"Y' see, as much as it would save me time and money, my clothes don't grow with me nor are they durable enough to last forever."
"Plus if I don't come down to stock up on food and daily necessities, then I'm going to really live like a caveman—and don't get me started with farming."
"..." He should've never asked.
(Tsuna: 3, Police: KO'ed)
"Right, understood," Luke hastily stopped the brunet from listing more of the obvious. "So... is this one of your trips for daily supplies?"
"Nope," Tsuna responded without skipping a beat. "I'm running out of medication and I haven't been able to get in contact Shamal, so I thought I could check to see if he's in or around the area."
Luke's face visibly brightened, he never felt so relieved to trace the conversation back to their original objective. "And your search led you to meet up with a wanted criminal at two in the morning?"
Tsuna's brow obscurely twitched at the reminder, a vein bulged on his forehead.
Luke raised another brow patiently waited for an answer as he drummed his fingers against the table.
"I was taking a midnight stroll because I couldn't sleep—chest pains and all that—when I heard police sirens. I did what the next person would do, stay away from trouble." Tsuna rolled his eyes at this point, teeth grinding when he thought back to how Lady Luck had toyed with him again. "Of course, that obviously didn't help because the next thing that happened was me running right into the guy and having all those... those things scattered everywhere! So can you blame me for catching that grenade trying to fly its way into someone's yard and going kaboom?"
"..." Luke was left wordless. So, in conclusion, he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time?
Ken tutted, "I would hate to have your luck."
"Well," Luke massaged his aching temple at the entirety of it all. "We got everything recorded, but we will need your contacts for possible follow-up. I'll say this now, we have to conduct a background check on you because this is associated with a criminal case. If anything suspicious does come up... it won't be pretty."
The corner of Tsuna's mouth unnoticeably twitched. He can guarantee that his background check results will be absolutely gorgeous to look at because there would be the word 'deceased' printed in blinding black, capital lettersright next to his name. (If they could find a record of his grave, it'll be the cherry on top!)
By then, he will be far, far out of their radar to deal with the mess. (And the sadistic part of Tsuna could imagine the hilarious reactions they will make.)
By the time Tsuna finished the procedures to get himself out of the police station, it was already the break of dawn.
"Aw man," Ken yawned, coming to stand beside Tsuna and stretching his arms. "Another all-nighter. I'll develop insomnia at this rate—if I haven't already."
"You're not part of the night patrol?" Tsuna blinked in surprise.
"Hell no, this is a case that my colleagues and I are workin' on." Ken rolled his eyes. "I'll give ya a heads up since yer not from 'round here, the area's kinda... chaotic these days."
Tsuna raised a brow. "How so?"
"We been getting reports of suspicious activities every other day," Ken pinched the bridge of his nose, mulling over what he could and couldn't divulge. "There were also those sightings of green lightning in broad daylight a couple of days before—and the large-scale commotion last night too... Our team is still trying to find leads to settling this mess so until we sweep the bad guys out, you be careful."
"..." Last night? Tsuna's eye twitched with a fishy feeling in his guts—no, scratch that, if that wasn't the root cause of him having to spend time to bond with the police, Tsuna will volunteer to be the target in Reborn's inhumane shooting games! (And Reborn never misses unless he wants to.)
" I will," Though he has his suspicions, Tsuna didn't reveal much on his expression. "But hey... um... Officer Tanaka?"
"S'up?" Ken turned towards the brunet.
Tsuna scratched the back of his head sheepishly. "Mind giving me a ride?"
Lambo was surprised when he saw the strange look of shock on Ienari's face once he shared his time-traveling experience after safely regrouping with the rest of the team. In the past few years, the man had learned to hide his emotions behind a stone-cold mask, showing only occasional expressions when in front of his trusted guardians.
"Yeah, do you know who he is?" Lambo asked curiously. "He should be around your age by now."
"He..." Ienari's face was pale with disbelief, figure rigid. "He woke up back then?"
Noticing the blonde's bizarre reaction, Yamamoto furrowed his brows. "Nari, what's wrong?"
"Juuydaime?" Gokudera was next to express his concern.
"Nari?" Lambo was getting a sinking feeling, he didn't like Ienari's reaction. Not at all. "You know him, don't you?"
There was a long pause where Ienari's figure trembled, hands repeatedly curling into fists.
"... Of course I do," Ienari finally said with a smile, one filled with pain and remorse. At that moment, Ienari crumbled down without a grace to his usual composure. It was a stark contrast to how he had matured over the years. "His full name is Tsunayoshi, Sawada Tsunayoshi. My... Onii-san."
"I know I disappointed a lot of people in the past," He closed his eyes with a shaky breath, voice croaking. "But the only one I shouldn't have disappointed was him."
Learning that Ienari had an older twin brother was a shock to all of them. Learning that the person with the warmest smile he'd ever seen was dead for ten years was traumatic to Lambo because if that was the case, then the boy was nearing his time of death when he visited the past.
If he had known—if he... if he had known, he still wouldn't be able to do anything!
"Herbivore..." Hibari, donned in a traditional set of kimono robes, listened to Lambo sigh for the umpteenth time since the teen had wandered into his area of residence and interrupting his morning tea. He may tolerate herbivores to be around him but that does not mean he will allow them to waste his time.
Said teen's spine immediately straightened. He carefully looked to Hibari, who seemed to be at the end of what little patience he has, and smiled sheepishly. "Hehe, whatcha doing Kyouya?"
"..." Hibari looked at Lambo as if the latter was an idiot.
"I mean—" Lambo mentally slapped himself for that faux pas. "Can I have some tea? Been drinking coffee all week and thought to switch it up."
The Skylark raised a brow but hn'ed nonetheless, gesturing to the tea set on the chabudai between them, indicating Lambo to pour some himself.
Lambo did just that. He blew at the now steaming cup before taking a sip.
There was the sound of the door sliding open, which was followed by a somewhat surprised greeting. "Lambo, good morning."
"Hey, Tetsuya," Lambo greeted the man back, placing the cup back onto the chabudai. "Do you know the status of the escort mission? It was pretty loud last night."
"The police were alerted and on the lookout, unfortunately, so although the equipment was successfully relocated, we're having some level of difficulty in cleaning up the aftermath. That was the last known report made..." Kusakabe informed with a trace of worry while making his way to Hibari and passing over a folder. "Kyo-san, this includes the recent reports and what we've found according to Shoichi's projection."
The Skylark opened the manila folder, a scowl marring his face as he flipped through each page.
Lambo's attention was caught at the mention of Shoichi Irie's name, he knew the man and his companion worked as engineers under Gesso Byakuran of the Millefiore Familigia. (Goddamn good engineers too if Lambo might add.)
... Well, used to work under Byakuran.
Lambo lowered his gaze, staring at his half-emptied cup. A lot has happened over the years, but the event from three years ago was the most devastating and has the most lasting impact on each and every one of them. And everything just wasn't the same ever again.
(Screams of fear, cries of despair—why whywhywhy—rang in his ears as hellfire haunted his mind, devouring what was once Flames of the Sky. It was dark, everywhere was so, so dark—darkcoldscaryhelphelphelp—it was useless—they couldn't—)
"Hervibore," Hibari's voice brought Lambo back to reality. He was met with sharp, grey eyes that seemed to pierced through Lambo and read him like an open book. "It's time you return to your herd."
"..." Lambo sweatdropped. In the past ten-plus years that he's known been around Hibari, he can decipher the Skylark's meaning as somewhere along the lines of 'go find your kindergarten buddies if you want to huddle.'
"W-wait, are you heading out?" Lambo asked hastily when he saw Hibari getting up. "Can I come along?" He hadn't ignored the concern Kusakabe revealed earlier, it didn't bode well with him so he wants to see for himself.
Hibari paused and stared at the teen for one too many seconds that Lambo's hair started to stand on its ends. (He would soon found out that the Skylark was weighing his usefulness if he tagged along.)
"Hn." was Hibari's vague response moments after.
Ken stopped his police-issued motorcycle in front of a two-story house. The building was worn down with the paint peeling down from the walls, the glass window panes cracked or completely shattered, the door hanging from its hinges, and the roof looks as though it could collapse any moment now.
Definitely not the ideal place to live in, he concluded.
"Don't know why you wanna come to this part of town," Ken mumbled, parking his vehicle by the curb as Tsuna hopped off. "This neighborhood has been abandoned for a couple of years now."
However, he didn't deny the fact the area looked vaguely familiar though.
Looking up, he saw Tsuna standing in front of the right side of the stone wall that fenced the deteriorating residence. His hand dusting away the debris that covered the rusted plaque to see—
"Sawada's Residence," Ken read, then did a double-take. "Sawada's Residence?" No wonder the place looked familiar! Wasn't this the place his junior teammate from high school used to live at?
That arrogant punk who's been like a thorn in the police's side recently? (Ken swore, there were times he just wanted to punch the blonde in the face for warning him and his colleagues this and that wasn't something normal people can handle. Ienari might have said it with good intentions but that condescending tone wasn't exactly pleasant to the ear nor was that look of his very comfortable to the eye—and what does he mean by 'normal people'—)
"Who's Sawada Ienari to ya?"
"My little brother," Tsuna spoke softly.
"..." Ken wore the 'WTF' face. Sure, he believed that Tsuna's a... a dwarf and surprised that Tsuna was related to Ienari, but that does not mean he could easily accept a full-grown man having a teenager—or at least, a teenager-lookalike—as an elder brother. Nor could he associate the cordial guy in front of him with the blonde punk either. (The picture was too beautiful, he needs a damn good cup of espresso for this to settle in.)
"I take it you're a close friend of his," Tsuna pretended he didn't see Ken's expression.
"... not really," Ken absentmindedly answered, slowly coming back from his stupor. "Seen him 'round the area lately." He hesitated briefly before adding, "I think he's involved in this mess, him and his friends."
The brunet paused, lips pursed. "Officer Tanaka."
"It would be safer if you and your colleagues don't get involved." Tsuna looked at him, gaze a cool sunset-orange. "This isn't something the likes of the police force can bring under control."
"..." Ken took his previous remark back, they were definitely brothers. The only difference is that Tsuna expressed his concern and the seriousness of the matter, but other than that, the message in their warnings were exactly the same.
His walkie-talkie diverted his attention from refuting the brunet like the hothead that he was.
[Attention, we have a level 3 alert on the west sector of Namimori ! Requesting all nearby available officers to head over immediately, I repeat, all nearby officers head over immediately!]
Ken raised the talkie-talkie up to reply. [This is Tanaka Ken from Squad Two, I'll be on my way.]
"Ugh..." He groaned as he hung up on his end and placed the walkie-talkie back on his belt. "Never gonna get a break at this rate. Listen—" He turned towards Tsuna only to have the latter to grab him by the shoulder.
"Sawada..?" Ken looked at the brunet in confusion while the other smiled apologetically. In the next second, a sudden wave of drowsiness washed over him. He tried to keep his eyes from closing, but it was futile. After all, how could he fight against the likes of a flame user?
"Sorry," Tsuna gently brought him to rest against the wall. "Tanaka-senpai."
He picked up the keys that had slipped from Ken's grip and borrowed (Tsuna refused to admit he was stealing from the police) his motorcycle.
Tsuna hesitated for a second when he ignited the engine and mounted the motorcycle. It wasn't to say that he never rode one before per se, but it has been a while since he a rode one with two wheels. (The downside of advanced technology is that you just can't return to the old versions.) There were also slight differences between a motorcycle and an Airbike. It shouldn't be too different though... other than have two wheels instead of none and can't really fly—okay, maybe it was a lot more different.
Still, he recalled from his memory and pushed off from the ground with a—vroom, he didn't have to to get himself familiarized with the vehicle.
He had been getting a weird off-kilter feeling since he has arrived in the future, one that has been nagging in the back of his mind of how—wrong wrong wrong—everything was. He had this kind of feeling before a couple of times, but none as strong and persistent as this one. The only one close to it was when—Tsuna shook that thought away, not wanting to go down that memory lane.
His grip tighter on the motorcycle handle as the scenery blurred past him. He hoped he wasn't too late, he didn't want to be faced with a reenactment. Especially when this is the only chance to make everything right again.
Yamamoto felt his lungs burn, causing him to wheeze in short breathes as he staggered back a step with his katana in hand.
"Man..." He groaned as he tried to keep to his feet and stabilize his breathing, shoes soaked in the shallow stream they were standing in. "No wonder Squalo warned me about you."
"And you're better than I expected." His opponent remarked as he glanced at the cuts he had received during their exchanging blows.
Yamamoto grinned in spite of himself (When had he ever not forced himself to smile?), readying for their battle to resume.
Genkishi was a tough nut as expected, he admitted. If it hadn't been for the information Vongola had on him, Yamamoto couldn't guarantee that he would be able to last this long in the fight.
He was just glad to be able to stall for time and lead Genkishi away from the more populated areas of town.
Yamamoto slid his katana to his side, switching his grip position, scraping against a sudden ambush from Genkishi. In the next second, he had to kick off from the ground to prevent the other from slicing him in half with the sword held by Genkishi's foot.
Somersaulting, he didn't give himself time to be in awe of someone actually wielding swords with his feet, he couldn't afford to.
An impromptu midair Splashing Rain caused a whirlwind to drive Genkishi back. He took his chance to strike back, but—
—He was duped by an illusion and couldn't really dodge the strike from above without coming out with a nasty cut in his right shoulder and across his back.
That nearly knocked the air out of him.
Yamamoto gritted his teeth, his grip loosening due to the injury but still retaliated with the fifth stance of Shigure Soen Ryu.
That seemed to do the trick because Genkishi fell for the feint, though Yamamoto was disappointed that his opponent had faster reflexes than expected and just barely scraped past with shallow cuts.
Yamamoto managed a grin though when he saw Genkishi stagger. The man wasn't the only one who could incorporate flames in the swordfight after all.
Placing his left hand on his right shoulder and tried to stretch it to get a feel of how bad it was, Yamamoto grimaced at the sharp pain coming through.
There goes his sword arm, Yamamoto entertained before calling upon his Box Animal. He decisively got ready into a position with both hands securing a grip on his katana while Koziro circled from above.
He wasn't exactly confident about the outcome of this battle, but—
Memories of the old flickered past his mind, they didn't linger and was quickly replaced with his experiences since joining Vongola. They weren't pleasant to say the very least, and without a means to move on other than the very sword he wields.
—he has his resolves.
"Scontro di Rondine!"
Hellfire roared, devouring everything it touches. Those once beautiful Flames of the Sky lost their luster against its counterparts and the symbols of Trinisette turned to stone.
The memory haunted Yamamoto ever since the Tartaruga rose too suddenly and reigned too dominating over the Mafia-like the Kings of olden days.
Yamamoto had never felt more helpless now than ever before after seeing his ring petrifying into stone, flames snuffing out of existence.
He wasn't an idiot, they had their eyes on Vongola since the very beginning. Vongola was completely unaware of the dangers lurking in the dark and was left to scramble to their feet when the enemy decided to pull the net in.
In that one year since Vongola's trip down the hill of power and driven out of Italy, Yamamoto felt like a walking corpse—they all did—as more and more lives were taken.
He didn't understand why even after the Tartarugas got what they want, the power of the Rings, they still wouldn't spare Vongola. It was as though they had a vice grip, refusing to relent until Vongola breathe its last (which was probably the case).
Yamamoto would be lying if he didn't hold some sort of blame against Vongola, for being too ignorant, for powerless, for involving the innocents, for his father's death, for everything. But he had no right to be resentful because he, himself, was all of those as well.
Yamamoto knew his choices—every step he made— were also factored into the outcome they faced now. So he had no rights whatsoever.
In these days that just muddled past, Byakuran came in with a question out of the blue.
"Want to take a gamble?"
Yamamoto and his companions gave the seventeen-years-old Millefiore Don a glance. Millefiore had been one of the very few Families that had lent Vongola a helping hand, and fewer still to be able to stand its ground against the likes of the Tartaruga. (The fact that he was the original successor to the Mare Rings might've also attributed something to Millefiore's strength as well.)
Therefore, they didn't underestimate Byakuran due to his innocent appearance.
... But it didn't mean they could understand the inner workings of the young Mare's overly complicated brain.
"What are you talking about?" Gokudera voiced all of their confusion.
Byakuran grinned, holding a peculiar animal up for everyone to see. "To make things right!"
It was then that Vongola decided to end the game of cat and mouse and stake everything on a hope too dim. (It was hope nevertheless.)
Basil felt pain-numbing his left side, where a wound at the waist was left untreated after a disaster of a retreat. He had been leading a mission with Yamamoto and Sasagawa the previous night, tasked with the relocation of a large amount of equipment and weaponry that was crucial to the security of the underground Vongola base.
The mission, itself, gave the team a fair share of trouble. They'd expected ambushes, of course, it was impossible to hide with the quantity they were trying to relocate, but Basil's expression still ashen from the mere recollection. Let's just say Vongola has even fewer members after it.
Then there was the retreat once they had successfully transported the cargo. That definitely was a disaster.
Basil didn't question his own capabilities despite being the weakest of the trio, he knew how to make the best out of himself. However, he wasn't a match against the belligerent Tartaruga that came hunting them down.
If it wasn't for Sasagawa and Yamamoto, Basil knew that he wouldn't still be standing here now.
Basil glanced at an unconscious Sasagawa, who he was supporting over his shoulder, his brows creased with worry. The man had come out of the fight worse for wear and they only came out because Yamamoto led the strongest away.
"Hang in there Sasagawa-dono," Basil gritted his teeth, continuing his trek towards the nearest entrance to the underground base. It was still a long way from here, much to Basil's dismay, but at least he had managed to make a connection with the base with what communication device they still have intact and relatively operating so they may be seeing their support team soon.
Sasagawa stirred at Basil's voice and patted the latter on the shoulder. "Still have some extreme fights in me."
The hoarse voice did not convince Basil. Not one bit. Not when—Basil paused and shook his head, he was just glad that the Sun Guardian woke up.
"I extremely wonder..." Sasagawa murmured not very extremely so as to alleviate the pain in his broken ribcage. "If Takeshi is doing alright..."
"He has to." Basil may not consider himself an optimist but he was firm in his beliefs. It was what made him continue moving. Always.
Sasagawa smiled and as if to further convince himself, he reiterated Basil. "He has to."
In the distance, they saw an unassuming black car coming their way.
Yamamoto knew he wasn't Genkishi's opponent at the moment. Maybe if he hadn't gone through the fight last night of relocating important cargo, he might entertain the thought.
So, he wasn't surprised when he fell for another illusion. However, it worked in his favor instead because the momentum of his attack was enough to get him out of Genkishi's line of sight. He may have a few broken bones and some nasty wounds, but at least he was able to escape.
Now he just needed to regroup with his companions before his opponent catches up to him.
However, when Yamamoto limped out of the battleground and onto one of the less busy streets through a narrow alleyway, he didn't expect a motorcycle screeching to a stop in front of him.
A police motorcycle, he recognized.
"You look like you're in a rush," The brunet grinned. "Need a ride?"
... Needless to say, Tsuna has a way to undermine every difficult situation when he wants to. Just like how he had glossed Yamamoto's escape from the clutches of death as 'a rush'.
Moreover, Tsuna didn't expect to find adult Yamamoto Takeshi in such a dire straight. The latter, however, didn't look like he was supposed to be in pain.
The wounds though stung his eyes and made his flames roared in anger. He considered the Rain Guardian's younger self of this world as his friend, therefore, the adult Rain was his friend as well, and Tsuna does not allow his friends to end up with injuries left and right—much less drenched in blood for that matter.
He kept it under a tight bottle because he didn't want to make the Rain wary that he already is.
"You..." Yamamoto croaked, voice a little dry. "Police?"
"What?" Tsuna blinked before he followed Yamamoto's line of sight to the vehicle he was riding. "Oh!" He scratched the back of his head sheepishly. "I borrowed it from an old acquaintance!"
Yamamoto didn't look convinced. The teen was obviously no ordinary civilian judging by his reactions upon seeing him, and probably has connections with the police force if the motorbike was anything to go by.
There was just one tiny thing that Yamamoto couldn't wrap his head around. Which officer was brave enough to allow their relative, who looked no older than sixteen, to ride a government-issued vehicle alone?
"Listen," Tsuna sighed, eyes giving Yamamoto a once-over. "You need treatment. Immediately." He stretched out a hand, a gentle smile on his face. "Trust me, alright, Yamamoto-san?"
Yamamoto stared at the outstretched hand for a long second and, despite the absurdity of it all, accepted Tsuna's help. The boy was right, his injuries need immediate attention and he can't exactly be walking about soaked in blood. That was definitely going to attract attention. He was pretty sure Genkishi was on his tail is well.
He trusts his instincts though, that very natural hitman instinct that saved his life a few dozen times over told him the boy came with no hostile intentions.
... But if worse comes to worst, Yamamoto will just have to fight for his life. Like every other time.
Tsuna's lips stretched even wider when the Rain Guardian took his hand. Trickles of Sun traveled from him to Yamamoto, much to the later's surprise when he detected foreign flames stimulate his natural recovery.
Tsuna pulled Yamamoto to sit behind him before the man could voice his astonishment. "Where to?"
"... the old Namimori Station."
(It was only a while longer that Yamamoto realized he never told the brunet his name. By that time, Yamamoto couldn't be bothered to care.)
Tsuna has absolutely no idea where that is, but he could get a vague idea from the still working Namimori station ten years in the past.
Silence fell on them during the ride. Yamamoto felt the fatigue catching up to him he all of his efforts were on not falling off of the motorcycle while Tsuna was more focused on the roads instead and as expected, halfway to their destination they were ambushed.
It wasn't a very pretty picture when the street suddenly exploded and sending debris scattering in the air.
Tsuna had to slide the motorcycle to a screeching stop and in the next moment, he pulled Yamamoto away before they were caught in with the explosions. He was acutely aware that there weren't that any civilians around bar a couple of homeless drunkards in the middle of a hangover from the previous night.
Tsuna winced when the vehicle was blown to pieces, mumbling, "Tanaka-senpai is going to flip when he finds out about his bike."
"Tanaka?" Yamamoto caught the name, his drowsiness chased away the moment he was pulled away. It didn't mean he wasn't physically tired though.
"Nothing," Tsuna laughed sheepishly, his eyes sweeping their changing surroundings that he deduced it was from the work of an illusion. "Be careful, it might get a little dangerous."
Dangerous indeed, Yamamoto's eyes went to the figure entering the scene in a shroud of mist and fast approaching in their direction. Most of his lesser wounds had healed thanks to Tsuna, but the graver ones were going to need treatment. All in all, Yamamoto was in no condition to have another clash with Genkishi.
But, Yamamoto still pulled Tsuna behind him and drew his katana out, he didn't intend to involve the teen in this mess. "See that road over there by the ramen shop? When you get the chance, run for it and don't—"
"Yamamoto Takeshi," Tsuna's voice was frigid with a seething anger. "Are you telling me to run for my life and leave you behind?"
Yamamoto chuckled, not letting Tsuna's reaction get to him, though that wouldn't be the case if he looked back. He would've been pinned to the ground by Tsuna's near apathetic gaze. Before he could speak, Yamamoto felt himself pulled by the back of his collar, causing him to stumble back to get a stable footing. (Acutely, he saw Genkishi summon blades in the sky with Mist flames.)
Tsuna knew what the man was going to say, but —"I could care less about my damn safety."
It brought up some unpleasant memories that Tsuna wished he never had. He had heard similar words over and over again in the past, witness them stand in front on him with backs straight with a determination that Tsuna didn't want. And no matter how many times he refuses, he was forced, by his very own family, to flee.
"I have too many people in my life putting my own well-being before theirs."
Tsuna didn't want that. He knew it was their way of protecting their one and only Sky, just as Tsuna would do the same for them if the chance was given. (Which was probably why the Guardians didn't allow such a chance to present itself.) But there should be a limit because there is a point all it will only bring is harm. A harm so deep to the bones that it could either destroy a person or change them for the better.
And Tsuna was nearly destroyed. All he wanted was to fight alongside them, even if they were facing death. Was that too much to ask for?
"Be careful!" Worries filled Yamamoto's voice upon the incoming swords and Tsuna's seemingly frozen figure.
—But, now that he was given the time to stop and think—
—Tsuna suppose this was revenge for all the other times he recklessly took the brunt of things that were meant for his family without really asking if they wanted him to—
—They all probably owe each other an apology, but, none of them, and Tsuna can guarantee for his Guardians as well as himself, will change because they don't regret their choices. They're family after all—
Blades petrified into stone and orange flames alit.
The commotion could be heard a mile away. It was impossible not to, considering the explosions—which, by the way, had Hibari's eye twitching irritably. Had it been his younger self, Hibari would've jumped into the fray already. But he wasn't, so he didn't. (Besides, there wasn't a fight for him to jump into.)
The one behind him though felt the darkening aura emitted from the Skylark. Lambo started to wonder why he hadn't hopped back in the car with Kusakabe to drive Basil and Sasagawa back to the underground base for immediate treatment.
He blamed his curiosity.
Hibari's primary objective in this trip was to search for someone, that much Lambo could conclude from the drive to the police station. He didn't know who had the honor of having one Hibari Kyouya personally bailing them out, but he knew Hibari wasn't very happy when said person wasn't at the police station. That was the downhill start of Hibari's less-than-stellar mood. And it only gets worse.
It was a coincidence that they found and picked up Basil and Sasagawa instead, to which Lambo was glad to have occurred. The two were in obvious bad shape with flames nearly depleted in Sasagawa's case. It wasn't a good sign.
The decision, despite it being Hibari himself who made it, to have Kusakabe drive the two back contributed to the Cloud's rapidly declining mood. Because now, they have to walk aimlessly to findwhat's-their-faceperson at who-knows-where place. That, in itself, was literal fuel to fire...Not that Hibari visibly showed it on his face of course, but Lambo knew the man well enough over the years to at least differentiate moods.
(They did call for another car, but it'll take a while before it reaches them and they were on the radar so... Hibari did what every other Cloud has the tendency to do.
The good news was that they didn't have to wander for long because the tell-tale signs of combat were in the wake of their trail. (Lambo was, once again, aghast at the Skylark's radar-like intuition for fights.) Which led them to the scene they were seeing now.
Parts of the asphalt used for that particular road crumbled and it didn't take a genius to connect it with the burnt smell wafting over and the explosions they heard. The buildings along both sides of the road seemed relatively intact... aside from looking a little chipped and on the singed side, probably from the aftermath of something huge but controlled.
Can't say the same about the utility poles though, they were totaled. Period.
Moving his gaze further along the ruin of a street, there laid the wreckage of a motorcycle that was a little out of placed and heaps of debris, remnants of the fight, cluttered around, and—
Lambo spotted the man unconscious against the wall of a building a safe distance away from the actual hazard zone. He quickly made his way over, overwrought. "Takeshi, you there?"
Said man responded with a stirring groan, a hand instinctively moving over to his head where evidence was left by the rock that had led him to lose consciousness for a short while.
"Where..." Yamamoto slurred a little before his brain registered Lambo, a weak smile was upon his face to calm to younger Guardian down. "Hey, Lambo." His less than enthusiastic tone did nothing to assert the message he was trying to send.
However, his lethargy quickly flew out the window when his memories kicked back on full. He bolted up, not exactly being mindful of the lightheadedness from the abrupt movement, eyes dilated. "How is—where is—I mean—"
Yamamoto paused, realizing he never got the boy's name, much to his growing dismay.
"Basil and Ryohei are safe," Lambo misinterpreted Yamamoto's panic and tried to explain what he knew of the situation. "We ran into them on the way and Kyouya—eh? Where did he go?"
Lambo turned to where he had thought Hibari might be, only to find the man gone.
"That's good to hear," Yamamoto said distractedly as he pushed himself up with the help of Lambo. "But have you seen a teen about this tall—" He gestured with his hand "—and... and looks a little like..." Yamamoto trailed when he dawned upon a realization after giving the time to really think.
"... that might explain the flames." He finished with a mumble more to himself than to Lambo.
"What?" The Lightning Guardian furrowed his brows in confusion when Yamamoto fell into silent contemplation. "What flames?"
"His flames." Answered a growl from behind.
Both Guardians turned their attention to an unamused Hibari holding up a teenager by the back collar as if he was some stray cat.
"S-s'up.." Tsu-cat-na raised a paw at the duo.
Tsuna sighed, pulling out what he hoped was the last twig tangled in his messy hair while Natsu licked the cut he had gotten from the tree he ended hanging from. He had control of the fight against Genkishi up until the last minute where an airborne X-Burner had gone haywire.
Don't get him wrong, he still managed to blast the Mist-user away. But his control over his flames teetered in the last second, sending him hurling into the tree a fair distance behind him. (The pains of these burners without his X-contacts, especially when he's not as familiar with these Sky flames as opposed to his own to which he had trained with for over a decade.)
Natsu was heedful enough to dig into his pockets, as Tsuna hung groaning on his stomach over a branch like a sake of potatoes, and fished for the pills that Tsuna desperately needed.
He just finished taking the prescribed dose when one Hibari Kyouya appeared underneath. They stared at each other for an awkward second and before Tsuna could give a greeting, Hibari slammed the hell out of the tree trunk with his tonfa.
... It was not the ideal method he wanted to come down with, because the fall to the ground from where he was at the crown of the tree probably hurts as much as the impact the tonfa did against the aforementioned trunk.
Hibari hadn't been exactly gentle either when he manhandled Tsuna by the collar and dropped him to sit in front of Yamamoto and Lambo, Natsu in his arms.
"That was completely uncalled for," Tsuna grumbled under his breath, Natsu jumping into the spot between his crossed legs after a job well-done. The brunet then looked to Yamamoto, smiling sheepishly. "Sorry for worrying you."
"As long as you're alright," Yamamoto shook his head with relief before coming back to Lambo's involuntary outburst. "Wait, Lambo did you just—"
"W-what...how..." Said Guardian sputtered after coming back from momentary shock. "How did you get here?!"
"Nice to see you again, Lambo. Want a candy?" Tsuna's attempt to avoid that particular topic was as clear as day. He didn't want to recall the experience. Really, he didn't.
Lambo stared incredulously at the candy displayed in front of him. He then looked back towards the brown-haired teen, not buying into the latter's blatant bribery. "No, I'm serious. What are you doing here—wait, no." Something inexplicably clicked in place and as preposterous as it seemed, he turned to Hibari. "—he's the one you're looking for, isn't he?"
"... Hn." Was said Skylark's answer.
Lambo returned to Tsuna and—he knew it was rude but—pointed at the latter, looking absolutely scandalized. "How did you get yourself in jail?!"
"Jail?" Yamamoto blinked, a little nonplussed at how things were quickly spiraling into and that this was the Sawada Tsunayoshi he'd heard of a couple of days ago. But, setting that particular matter aside for the moment, he was a little skeptical of Lambo's words because—"You sure about that, Lambo? He had a police motorcycle—"
"—borrow—" Tsuna, although more than a little startled by Lambo's rather accurate speculation, needed to emphasize a few things. "—and I didn't sit in jail. I was let out after a chat."
"—You mean an integration!" Lambo was nearly hysterical. Granted, he didn't understand why he cared so much about the teen when they had only known each other for five minutes (and now in counting), but maybe it was because he cherished those five minutes of life at pause and comfort that he didn't want anything bad to happen to the boy now standing in front of him. (And apparently, those five minutes were enough to get a gist of what the organism known as Sawada Tsunayoshi is because anyone involved in the mafia was anything but normal.) "You didn't sit in an electric chair, did you?"
"... I'm pretty sure the police are more humane than that," Yamamoto forced a laugh, sweatdropping at an imagination run wild. "Calm down, Lambo."
Tsuna agreed and pushed a grape candy into Lambo's hand. "My life is complicated and Murphy's my close relative who unfortunately also lives next door, let's end it at that, alright?"
"..." No, it was not alright (and who the f**k is Murphy—) but Lambo silently opened to candy wrap and ate the ball of sugar, complying to drop the issue for the sake of his own mental health because they were obviously not on the same wavelength and Tsuna isn't making sense!
"Gaowoo~!" Natsu decided to chime in to second Tsuna's abridged version of a summary crudely cut down at more than one angle. (In other words, Tsuna's life in a godforsaken nutshell.)
"Again," There was a sigh from above the cub's head. "Natsu, that's a howl."
"Gao ao ao!"
Tsuna sent a scandalized look down at the lion cub resting in his arms. "Did you just... barked?"
"..." Natsu went silent.
"Now..." Tsuna ushered a sulking Natsu to perch on his shoulder so that his hands were free to clap together, smiling. "Let's get Yamamoto-san some medical help, ne?"
Meanwhile, the party has only begun at Vongola HQ ten years in the past.
A/N: Surprise! Pretty quick update this time so... You guys better pray to whatever higher beings up there that I keep this up or—ahem, right, no threats... or jinxes. Can't really control when writer's block decides to knock on my door for the umpteenth.
Anywho, back to the chapter! I have absolutely no idea how integrations with the police go because I've never been in one and hopefully never will because I'm a law-abiding citizen... who probably doesn't know even half of the written/unspoken laws out there other than the obvious ones. But, to the point, Tsuna's stellar experience with the police—and OC Ken's back as a police officer! Also, Tsuna messing with common sense.
Also, for anyone who hasn't gotten the idea of who Murphy is referring to and has read through this A/N, it's Murphy's Law. Y'know, there's a saying that goes: "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong."
Lastly, I forgot to say it last chapter (Maybe that's the reason I got this one done so fast...?), but I want to thank everyone who supported me through the years! Your comments/PMs while I was away and dealing with the phenomenon called 'life' meant a lot to me, so...
I hope everyone is doing well and staying safe!
Makings of a Mafia Boss 101: Lesson 59 - Art of negotiations
"Lowering your opponent's guard using psychological tactics is one of the more effective techniques out there," Reborn lectured. "It's considered as one of the arts."
"... You lost me." Tsuna, being new to this concept, was obviously a blank slate waiting to be corrupted. "Aren't negotiations talks between businessmen and politicians? What does this got to do with the mafia?"
"Say that to the many businesses under the ownership of Vongola." Reborn returned. "I guarantee you, you won't see the daylight of tomorrow."
"Let's make this simple so that even the likes of you could understand," Reborn never missed an opportunity to take a jab at his student. "Your guardians want to have a party at a high-end restaurant at the heart of the city."
Tsuna was appalled at the very idea. High-end restaurants are expensive, his friends dining at a high-end restaurant is expensive as hell. Knowing how destructive they could get... they'll probably break loose before the appetizers is on the table!
"I think... it's better if it's at my house," Tsuna suggested without missing a beat. "We've been hosting parties there anyways."
Reborn knew from a glance what his student was thinking. "It's going to be boring if we don't get a change in scenery once in a while."
"True..." Tsuna agreed with that reasoning. He didn't want to pour water over his friends' excitement. "Then... how's Takeshi's place?"
"Where's the variety?" Reborn rebutted. "You can't have sushi as an appetizer, entree, and dessert. You need to be more diligent in planning this out."
"Um..." Tsuna hesitated, he supposed it is alright if they explore places to eat once in a while. "I guess... I guess we could make a reservation at the local restaurant..."
Reborn snorted. "Really, Dame-Tsuna? How do you know if the food those restaurants prepared are to any of your guardians' taste? Or if their services are up to par?"
"..." Tsuna wavered even more now, finding truth in Reborn's points. What if Lambo didn't like the desserts? What if Hayato finds the services 'unworthy of Juudaime'? What if they didn't make sushi to Takeshi's likings? What if... what if—"Alright fine, let's go to a high-end restaurant if it makes them all happy."
"We are?" Takeshi popped from behind along with Hayato and Ryohei.
"Of course we are, didn't you hear Juudaime?"
"..." Realization suddenly dawned on Tsuna on what just happened.
He was absolutely horrified.
"You were led around by the nose, Dame-Tsuna," Reborn smirked. "Like always."
A/N 2: I wanted to explain the psychology thing better with this but... it didn't turn out right. Oh well.