Rating: T+-ish (?)
Warnings: Kind of a crack concept, Varia ridiculousness, Xanxus's everything, pre-Naruto!Obito's everything, Squalo's mouth,, etc.
Word Count: ~4600 (complete)
Pairings: pre-Xanxus/Obito, Squalo/Dino in passing.
Summary: Squalo eyes Mammon skeptically. This sounds like the start of a bad idea to him. Mysterious people from other dimensions with strange powers and apparent rage issues? Then again, he should fit in perfectly among the Varia.
Disclaimer: I don't hold the copyrights, I didn't create them, and I make no profit from this.
Notes: For SparkleMoose (again), because it's their fault even if we never directly discussed Xanxus/Obito. Also, the Varia are far too much fun to write I did not need this kind of distraction in my life.
(Title from Sinister Kid by The Black Keys, because it's a Xanxus and Obito song like woah.)
devil won't let me be
The Varia haven't had a Cloud Officer in decades, since well before Xanxus decided that cleaning house was best done with submachine guns and the biggest wood chipper he could find upon coming out of the ice. It's also, Squalo knows, not much a surprise that no one is leaping to volunteer. The Varia are famous, but more for Xanxus's temper than anything, and the other officers' unique personalities don't exactly encourage anyone less distinct to try out.
They're also definitely not getting Gola Mosca back, Squalo thinks, grimacing at the stack of forms Timoteo had passed him the moment he tried to edge their conversation in that direction. Bastard old man knows exactly how to distract him, because Squalo was sure as hell too busy yelling about how he was going to be the one forced to do all this shit to remember that Xanxus wanted him to get the Gola Mosca repaired and returned to them.
And now Xanxus is probably going to throw the whole liquor cabinet at him. Fan-fucking-tastic. God forbid the shitty boss talk to his own fucking father (more or less) and actually get what he wants, rather than sending Squalo to deal with all the bullshit.
Some days Squalo is absolutely convinced that torturing him is Xanxus's hobby. Really, what the fuck else could it be?
When he slams into the wide room where most of the Varia Officers tend to gather, not entirely certain whether he wants company or just someone to yell at, Mammon and Belphegor are the only ones present, apparently engrossed in a card game. Squalo's never seen Go Fish played for money before, but it's Mammon. He's not surprised.
"VOOOI," he snarls at them, because though they're not nearly as satisfying a target as Levi would be, they're still decent. "What do you two lazy assholes think you're doing in here?"
Mammon's hood is still firmly pulled down, but Squalo can feel the derisive glance they cast him. "Be quiet. You're going to make me lose my concentration."
"You're psychic!" Squalo splutters, offended by the very idea. "And—VOOOOI, WHY DO YOU NEED CONCENTRATION FOR FUCKING GO FISH?"
"Shishishi, the prince is winning." Bel waves him off, ignoring the much higher pile of coins on Mammon's side of the table. "Go bother someone else, peasant."
"Oh, my! Squalo, you're back!" Lussuria drapes his coat artfully across the back of the sofa and sprawls just as artfully beside it. "Our fearless leader missed you~."
Squalo scoffs. Loudly. "You mean he missed having someone to throw his damned empty bottles at, that shitty drunkard."
Lussuria giggles, fanning his face lightly. "Well, of course! Did you manage to secure Gola Mosca and an appropriate sacrifice for us?"
With a growl, Squalo hurls himself into the other chair, dumping the pile of paperwork on the end table. Maybe he can conveniently forget it and then sneak it into Levi's office later. God knows that if anyone deserves it, it's the ass-kissing little twerp. "Vongola Nono isn't giving us Gola Mosca," he says sourly. "He changed the subject every time I tried to bring it up, and when I was leaving he suggested that we start looking through Cloud Officer applications. Fuck, I hate that bastard."
Lussuria doesn't look overly pleased, but he keeps his smile as he suggests, "Ooooh! I could start a few interviews! They're always so sweet and innocent when they come to us—"
"VOOOI, I SAID WE NEEDED TO FIND SOMEONE, NOT SCARE THEM OFF FOREVER, YOU DAMNED OKAMA—"
"The Italian Underground Economy have no more models of comparable strength," Mammon comments, frowning. They set down a pair of cards, then lean forward to snag two of Bel's remaining pennies despite the prince's protests. "Gola Mosca was the last of its kind."
And there's nowhere else they can find a military-grade killing machine powered by Dying Will Flames. Squalo slumps a little more in his chair, rubbing his forehead, and tries to think what he's going to say to Xanxus. Nothing is going to save him from stitches, that's for certain.
"Shishishi, another peasant?" Bel crosses his arms on the table, leaning forward with what could, knowing him, be either a leer or a bloodthirsty smile. "The prince doesn't approve."
The tenuous threads of Squalo's temper are rapidly giving way, and he surges to his feet. "VOOI, NO ONE ASKED YOU, YOU SHITTY PRINCE."
Bel's grin gains teeth. "Shishishi, of course the prince's opinion is the only one that matters—"
It's a dark, dangerous drawl that instantly raises every hair on the back of Squalo's neck, and he jerks around to find Xanxus leaning in the doorway, one hand dangerously close to his gun and a glass of whiskey in the other. Not a bottle, at least, which means Xanxus is in a relatively good mood today.
Of course, playful cats are a hell of a lot crueler than hungry ones, so Squalo isn't exactly going to take that as a blessing.
"Shishishi." Despite the standard grating laugh, Bel practically looks nervous. "Boss, you—"
"Shut up," Xanxus says, halfway between dangerous and uninterested. His red-brown eyes are on Squalo, intent and cold. "What did the old man say?"
A shiver makes its way down Squalo's spine. This isn't a playful cat at all; this is a cat already on the hunt, ready to kill just because it can. He doesn't let himself waver, though, doesn't let himself show weakness as he scoffs and folds his arms over his chest. "Whole lot of fucking nothing. Said we should start looking at applications."
Thankfully, Xanxus looks as disdainful of this suggestion as Squalo feels. They're Vongola's Independent Assassination Squad; the very last way they're going to find a Cloud Officer is through fucking interviews. "Fuck that shit, and that shitty old man, too. Where is the piece of crap right now?"
Iemitsu was happy enough to gossip about that, once Squalo managed to get him alone and talking. The downside is that he now knows way too fucking much about the pathetic runty brat back in Namimori and all his stupid little guardians. For being a crap parent, Iemitsu is still a fucking insane one.
"Being melted down for scrap as we speak," Squalo says sourly. "The CEDEF has most of their people on it."
"Trash," Xanxus spits, eyes narrowing, and there's that particular tension in the air that feels like rage and death; he's going to start throwing around Flames of Wrath soon, and when that happens Squalo wants to be out of the damned province, not just the mansion.
"I," Mammon says thoughtfully, "might just have a solution, Boss."
Squalo has never been quite so grateful to the little shrimp before. "Well?" he demands, rounding on the illusionist. "VOOOI, FUCKING TELL US ALREADY—"
An empty glass shatters against the side of his head, almost bowling him over. "Shut the hell up!" Xanxus orders without looking at him, and raises an expectant brow at Mammon.
They shift a little, pulling themselves up to sit on the top of the table facing Xanxus. "My…former colleague, Verde. I contacted him three months ago for information regarding that job in Caltagirone, and he mentioned he had been experimenting on something with powerful Cloud Flames."
"Something or someone?" Lussuria asks, eyes too sharp behind his sunglasses to suit the fluttery idiot he normally plays.
"With Verde either is a possibility," Mammon says carelessly. "He thought it was very powerful, though he wouldn't give me more information right then." The wrinkled nose is clear. "Some people don't understand that time is money."
And if there's one thing Mammon will never fail to appreciate, it's money. Squalo rolls his eyes and glances at Xanxus. "Should we check it out, Boss?"
There's a pause, and then Xanxus straightens. "Get my coat, trash," he orders Squalo. "You're coming too."
"You'd better be covering expenses," Mammon sniffs, but they leap down with no further argument and follow Xanxus out the door.
Squalo, of course, is left to do everything that actually matters in preparing for a trip to wherever the famously paranoid and reclusive inventor is hiding. And he has to fetch the shitty boss's coat like he's a fucking underling.
"VOOOOOI, FUCKING GET IT YOURSELF! I'M NOT YOUR—OW, YOU SHITTY—"
"Waste of good tequila," Xanxus says derisively, watching the liquor drip off Squalo's long hair. He turns around and keeps going, waving a hand over his shoulder. "And get me another bottle of that, too."
One of these days Squalo's going to murder him.
Mammon disappears into the interior of the villa for all of ten minutes before they reemerge and beckon Xanxus and Squalo towards one of the side buildings. Xanxus scoffs under his breath, but he goes nevertheless, and Squalo follows closely, one wary eye on their surroundings. He doesn't know a lot about Verde beyond his genius, but Squalo doesn't believe in being too careful where mercenary inventors are concerned. Especially with Mammon involved. The illusionist has a tendency to squeeze every last possible cent out of those around them, and some people are less than appreciative.
"This way," Mammon says, tipping their head towards a staircase leading down. "Verde says he's locked in one of the labs. No one's been able to capture him and bring him out yet."
"Him," Xanxus says, and it's almost a question.
Mammon pauses for a moment, then nods once. "Verde was trying to find a way to cross dimensions and pulled something out instead. The subject manifested powerful Cloud Flames the moment he appeared, and…other abilities as well. We can have him if we can subdue him. Verde wants his lab back."
Squalo eyes Mammon skeptically. This sounds like the start of a bad idea to him. Mysterious people from other dimensions with strange powers and apparent rage issues?
…Then again, he should fit in perfectly among the Varia.
Deliberately, Xanxus checks both of his guns, then strides past Mammon and down towards the lab like he's going to war, coat flaring out behind him. With a curse, Squalo hurries to follow, and an instant later Mammon levitates beside him as he clatters down the steps. Xanxus can do pretty much anything he sets his mind to, so Squalo isn't overly worried about his safety, but if Xanxus loses his temper they're going to have to start all over looking for a Cloud Officer, and that will be a pain in the ass.
"This thing is human, right?" he demands, more than a little grumpy at the thought of forging the right papers if it—he—isn't. "And do we even know he's willing to kill? If he's going to be on the fucking—"
"Twelve of Verde's assistants are dead," Mammon says, mostly bored. "Most of them messily. Five more simply vanished can't be found. This lab is the most secure in the world and Verde's already had to reinforce it."
Well. That's probably a good sign, all told. The Varia don't accept weaklings, and with most of them still smarting from their loss against the Vongola brat and his guardians, the addition of someone strong will be good motivation.
Not that Xanxus's current motivations are probably much more complicated than Strong fight? Me want, with some caveman grunting thrown in. Squalo would follow his boss into the deepest pits of hell with nothing but the faith that Xanxus would get them out again, but the man's an ass and Squalo's never felt the need to sugar-coat things. He was an ass before he was frozen and he's more of an ass now, and that's probably never changing.
God, Squalo needs to get laid. He's been so busy juggling all of Xanxus's shit that it's been months. He'd had high hopes after Cavallone invited him to drop by for dinner at some point, but between the fallout of the Ring Battles and the fit Xanxus threw over Gola Mosca—
A billow of violet and deep orange Flame explodes up the passageway, and Squalo curses and dives back behind the corner. Mammon is already there, still floating, and the illusionist looks interested and slightly wary.
"Powerful," they say, stretching a hand out towards the dissipating wisps as if to feel their heat.
"It's the boss, what do you expect?" Squalo asks crankily, peeking his head out to make sure there isn't another explosion headed for them. The sounds of fighting are clear now, and he shifts his sword so that it will be slightly easier to attach if he needs to grab it suddenly and heads down the remaining stairs at a run.
Easily keeping pace in the air, Mammon sniffs faintly. "I was talking about both of them."
That's not as inaccurate as Squalo would entirely prefer. Xanxus is more than capable of tearing through pretty much anyone on the face of the planet, with maybe Sawada Tsunayoshi as the sole exception, and he usually does it fairly quickly. The fight below them doesn't seem to be abating, though—if anything it's getting fiercer.
Another wash of Flames of Wrath makes Squalo duck, but it's only a backdraft and clears quickly. Squalo takes the last flight of steps in a long jump, landing in the doorway of the lab, and immediately has to throw himself to the side as a body crashes down right where he had been standing. As he twists back to his feet, the human projectile growls, low and bestial, and levers himself up.
He's young, probably still under eighteen, Squalo thinks with some surprise. Short, with messy black hair, a single red-and-black eye that spins like a pinwheel, and deep, twisted scars across one half of his face, and as he rises one of Xanxus's shots goes right through him as if he's a ghost to punch a crater in the wall.
The stranger spits something that's clearly an assumption regarding Xanxus's parentage, by the tone, but despite his looks it's not quite Japanese. Squalo speaks a hell of a lot of languages—it's required of Varia officers—but that doesn't sound precisely like any of them. There's no time to try and figure it out, either; the kid twists in a way that's more like a cat than a human and flips out of the path of Xanxus's next shot as well, orange flames just grazing his shoulder as he leaps. A foot against the top of the wall, launching him straight out, and he lands right next to Xanxus, dropping to sweep his feet out from under him.
Xanxus kicks out hard, making the kid roll back, and he only barely manages to jerk out of the path of the next shot. A third goes through him again, but this time when he rematerializes he's noticeably paler, and when he hurls himself over Xanxus's head it's slower than the last jump. Xanxus grabs him, one hand locking around his ankle, and with a grunt and a heave hurls him straight into the far wall.
This time when the kid comes up, it's wreathed in a swath of purple flames, eye glowing violet. He lunges bodily at Xanxus, and when Xanxus sidesteps it he immediately twists around with a leaf-shaped blade in hand, stabbing for a kidney. The knife slams into the butt of Xanxus's gun, deflected to the side with a sharp jerk, and the kid curses again.
This one's definitely a killer, Squalo thinks, and for one suicidal second he wants to jump in, see how the brat does with that blade when he's facing a real sword. Xanxus really will kill him for that, though; there's nothing the boss likes less than other people stealing his fights. With a muttered curse, he steps back, making himself keep his hand away from his sword, and—
The kid vanishes.
"Not an illusion," Mammon says sharply from the doorway, and Squalo spares half a second to feel entirely bewildered, because what the hell else could it be—
A sharpened edge of metal rests against the skin of his throat, and Squalo stiffens. He hasn't been caught so entirely off guard in years, didn't feel so much as a hint of the kid sneaking up behind him, and that fucking reeks of some weird-ass ability none of them have ever encountered before. It's not Flames, or at least not any Squalo has seen, and that puts the brat on the same level as Mammon as far as freaky shit goes.
In a surprising turn of events, Xanxus doesn't simply shoot through Squalo to get to the kid, though he doesn't exactly lower his guns, either. Eyes narrowed, he stares at the teenager for a moment, then scoffs and demands, "Can you even fucking talk?"
There's a brief pause, as if the kid is working out the words. Squalo expects another burst of not-quite-Japanese, but instead he says, carefully precise in a way that betrays unfamiliarity, "I can speak."
Xanxus's attention sharpens, an almost tangible feeling, though he doesn't let his pistols so much as waver. "They have Italian in whatever dimension you're from?" he asks.
Another pause, the knife still pressed almost delicately to Squalo's jugular. "The people here," the kid says at length. "One of them almost spoke like me. I made him teach me."
By Mammon's reckoning the brat hasn't been here more than four months. Squalo's reluctantly impressed. From almost-Japanese to Japanese to Italian in that time—not just a pretty face, then. Or aware that a good grasp of the local language could mean the difference between getting away and getting caught if he had managed to break out of here. Either way…
He meets Xanxus's calculating stare, sees the same realization in his boss's eyes. Between the intelligence, the speed, the Flames, and utter lack of hesitation in going for a killing blow—
Well. Varia quality's a rare thing to find, even when you're looking for it.
Xanxus grunts as if there's nothing particularly interesting about the brat's statement, then tips his chin at Squalo. "Kill him already. I'm getting bored just standing here."
God, Squalo hates his asshole of a boss so fucking much. Forget killing him, Squalo's going to dump every last damn bottle of alcohol in the mansion down the drain. They'll see how Xanxus likes facing the rest of existence completely sober.
"You have no loyalty to your men." It's not derisive, though; if anything the brat sounds amused. "The baby from before, too—he just wanted his lab back."
Mammon, still hovering in the doorway, snorts in amused disdain. "Verde hasn't changed a bit," they mutter.
The kid's attention flickers for the briefest fraction of a heartbeat, but it's all Squalo needs. He throws himself backwards into his captor, mechanical hand snapping up to catch the knife, and as soon as he has a good grip he ducks down and forward, using his momentum to flip the teenager right over his head. Squalo expects it to work, and with most people it would, but since he's apparently half cat, the damned brat lands on his feet and twists right out of Squalo's hold.
He isn't fast enough to dodge Xanxus, though.
With a heave and a snarl, Xanxus grabs the kid by the collar of his badly-fitting (and clearly stolen) clothes and slams him back against the wall. A jerk, a vicious kick, but Xanxus shoves forward and bodily pins the kid, arm an immovable bar across his throat. Instantly, clearly aware of all the ways Xanxus could kill him without effort, he goes still, tipping his chin up as that pinwheel eye fades back to plain black.
"What's your name?" Xanxus demands, a growl like a tiger rumbling through him. It gets him a snarl in return, but he drags the kid forward to shake him hard and then slams him right back against the concrete. "Your name, bitch, don't make me ask again."
"Obito," the boy spits, full of clear fury and far too much deadly intent for a person his size. For all that they look like they're biologically the same age he's a whole head shorter than Xanxus, leaner as well, but he still looks more than ready to go for Xanxus's jugular with his teeth if the opportunity presents itself.
Xanxus doesn't bother asking for a family name, because of course he doesn't, as he looms closer. "That teleporting you do—it takes a while to recharge."
"It shouldn't." The two words all but vibrate with frustration. "Your world—there's practically no chakra. I can't make enough—"
He cuts himself off, but Squalo feels his eyes widening as he realizes what the kid's been doing. Cloud Flames have the attribute of Propagation, so Obito's been taking what little power he can find here and multiplying it to get enough for his ability. That definitely points to already having a good amount of skill with his Flame, and Squalo exchanges glances with Mammon.
As far as interviews go, this one's practically signed and sealed already.
"You ever killed someone?" Xanxus asks, holding Obito's eye in a way that's entirely threat.
The question gets a twisted, half-fractured laugh, and Obito grins, lips pulling back from his teeth in a death's-head grin. "More than you can possibly imagine."
"I doubt that," Xanxus drawls. He looks Obito over once more, then drops him onto his feet and takes one step back, holstering his guns. "I'm Xanxus. If you want out of this lab, you can join me. If you don't, you can fucking rot here."
Squalo rolls his eyes and wonders why the hell he expected anything different.
Obito gives him a wary look, then glances back at Xanxus. "After I told you I've killed people?"
Xanxus bares his teeth. It's not meant to be a smile. "Welcome to the Vongola's Independent Assassination Squad, brat. You're our new Cloud Officer."
The black eye widens, and whatever Obito spits at Xanxus in almost-Japanese is definitely an insult, and probably directed at Xanxus's mother.
Instead of getting angry or breaking something over his skull—because, unfortunately, with Xanxus those are two entirely separate reactions—Xanxus simply laughs in his face. "Get the fuck over it," he advises. "You can call me sir."
"I'd rather gut myself," Obito retorts, and—
Xanxus looks him over.
Squalo's jaw drops, and he doesn't have the mental capacity to pick it up again.
Xanxus—whose sexual orientation is anger, who looks at girls to find their concealed weapons and nothing else, who was so bored by the strippers hired for Lussuria's birthday that he fucking fell asleep—lets his gaze drift over their new Cloud Officer from the top of his spiky hair to the bottoms of his bare feet, and then glances up to meet his hostile stare.
"Trash," he says, and it sounds. It sounds. Squalo wants to say it sounds enthusiastic, except this is Xanxus, so it mostly just sounds bloodthirsty. "Know your fucking place."
He lunges. Obito dodges. There's a snarl like two wildcats stepping on each other's tails, and then orange and violet Flames explode to fill the lab.
"VOOOOI, YOU IDIOTS. FUCKING STOP ALREADY. YOU'RE—"
A bullet made of Flames of Wrath just barely misses Squalo's head, and he screeches with fury and throws his hands up. "I'm going to fucking wait in the car," he snarls at Mammon, and heads up the stairs. Whatever Verde is working on, no matter what it is, there's no chance at all that it's any more scarring than whatever the fuck is happening down here.
It's probably telling that Mammon doesn't wait around, either, but drifts next to him as he stalks up the steps. "I feel," they muse, "like the betting pools in the mansion are about to increase drastically."
Squalo doesn't even want to think about it. He's been perfectly fine imagining Xanxus as someone without any sort of sex drive, because him being otherwise means it's something else Squalo will eventually be forced to deal with. He growls in irritation, whirling to punch the heavy stone wall, but watching it dent under his mechanical hand doesn't make him feel any better.
"Fucking why," he says, mostly rhetorically.
"We aren't paid anything close to enough for this," Mammon agrees, pulling out a small notebook and writing something down. "I'll bill the boss. For you as well, though I will of course be applying an accounting fee."
Which likely means Squalo wouldn't see a penny of it, even if Xanxus ever deigned to pay that kind of thing. Which he won't, but Squalo doesn't give a damn as long as he doesn't have to see that expression on Xanxus's face again until he's well and truly drunk. Alcohol might numb the horror. Maybe.
"At least it wasn't the Vongola shrimp," Mammon say, in faint amusement. "Though Reborn's expression would almost be worth it."
Squalo opens his mouth to protest, pauses, closes it. Then he sighs, rubbing his real hand over his face, and agrees, "I'll drink to that."
"You're paying," Mammon says immediately.
Flames erupt behind them, curling up the staircase along with the sound of shattering stone, and Squalo just. Gives up.
"I'm paying," he agrees, because really, at this point all he wants is a big bottle of whiskey and fifteen minutes of peace to drink it in.
If he's not mistaken, the main Cavallone house isn't all that far from here. Maybe he'll abandon Mammon to drive the boss and his new recruit back and start his weekend early. He fucking deserves it after today. And if Xanxus wants to throw a fit about it, Squalo will tell Lussuria about this little infatuation.
They're Varia. They're supposed to fight dirty.