A pale figure stumbled through the alleyway. The sound of an empty stomach soon filled the air.
It had been days since they last ate, not that they would dare go back. They had made quite the statement upon leaving after all, and they would sooner die than beg for food.
Out of all the things that they had tried to take, pride remained.
A second figure ran into the alleyway, and the cries of thief was heard. A younger, almost androgynous figure grinned as they took to the roofs.
Adults ran past, clearly after the pickpocket. The figure grinned, watching them flail about and go the wrong direction.
Their stomach grumbled even louder.
Once the coast was definitely clear, the smaller figure dropped down.
"Are you hungry?" they asked in broken Italian.
A grumble filled the air.
They blinked behind long bangs when food, glorious food was held out in front of them.
"I don't accept charity," they grumbled.
"You're hungry, and I know all too well what it's like to be denied food for long stretches of time. Don't think of it as charity...think of it as a favor to be repaid at a later date," said the boy. With those delicate features he could have passed for a girl, easily, but the voice gave it away.
They stared, but accepted the meal and ate greedily.
The boy was gone, but they would remember those eyes. The eyes that were as green as spring and kinder than any other boy they had met.
A few days later, they saw those eyes again. This time he was cornered by some thugs who worked for some low-level family who didn't even have decent fighters. Apparently their boss took offense to the boy operating in their area...or he took from the wrong peasant.
Either way, the memory of the 'favor to be repaid later' came vividly to mind.
They drew the knives they had stolen from the armory before they went into exile, and grinned wickedly. Time to repay that favor.
There was blood, there was screams, there was a wild laughter as they became the eye of a storm filled with knives. And in the center of it was a boy who stared calmly in it all.
When the adults were dead and the screams went silent, rather than run away or look at fear, the boy merely tilted his head.
"How did you do that?"
A pale blond head turned to him, curious.
"You're not afraid of me?"
"Why would I be afraid? If you wanted me dead you would have done it, or let those losers kill me. You're not a monster."
"Shishishi... I am a genius," said the blond matter of fact, crown askew.
"Shishishi, I didn't ask for your name peasant."
"I've pretty much tapped this place out, and since that idiot sent his thugs it's not worth staking my claim. Not yet anyway. What do you say, between your knives and my ability to steal, we could team up and take this world by storm."
"Shishishi... what makes you think I'll work with you? A Prince does not need peasants."
"No, but a prince would need a knight to do the more menial work for them, like gathering food or scouting."
They blinked. The older peasants refused to acknowledge their claim as Prince, and this peasant did have a point. And they were tired of going hungry.
"Fair enough, peasant."
Hadrian held out a hand, and they cautiously took it. The moment their hands meet, there was a spark that could only be magic. But Hadrian apparently didn't notice or care.
Or he had no idea he had magic in the first place.
The blond smirked widely. Having a wizard servant made things more interesting... and it meant getting a bit of unofficial payback. No one said they had to be nice to their servant.
Three months later...
In a series of small accidents, Hadrian finds out entirely by accident that his partner is in fact a girl.
They were not pleased, even if it was an honest accident between children.
There was a major tense stand off between the "Prince" and Hadrian the second he found out her gender.
The number of knives he had to dodge were ridiculous.
"Does it really matter?" he finally said exasperated.
His partner glared at him, though it was hard to tell with her hair in the way.
"Boys have an annoying habit of looking down on girls and treating them as lesser because of their gender."
"Let me guess, you're from a country where girls are still second class citizens, which is why you ran?" he asked making a face. Looking down on girls for being girls was something he never understood.
She glared at him.
"I killed everyone who got in my way, who looked down on me for being the princess."
She hated the fact that everyone blatantly encouraged Rasiel to treat her like crap, just because she was born a girl. That bastard had taken to the idea with glee, despite the fact they were born twins.
It was really little wonder that when she snapped, Rasiel was killed first.
Hadrian looked exasperated.
"Do you honestly believe I'll treat you any different now that I know you're a girl? In case you forgot, you're a better fighter and killer between the two of us. If I really thought you were 'weaker' than me, I wouldn't be stupid enough to act on it because I know full well you'd kill me in my sleep or something."
She stared at him...before a slow, broad smile appeared on her face.
"Shishishi. At least the peasant knows his place."
"Besides, we both know that without me, you'd never be able to keep yourself fed for a week. You suck a stealing, and that pride of yours has a bad habit of getting us into the most annoying trouble," he continued.
She raised her knives.
"What was that, peasant?" she said evilly.
"I said you're still the same pain in the ass I've known for three months, and I'm not going to think less of you because you're a girl...your highness," he said with a smirk.
She would admit to throwing the first punch, but the fact Hadrian didn't hold back because of her gender and hit her just as hard as ever made her happy.
He didn't see her as weaker. He saw her as his equal.
It was a novel feeling. And as they both lay gasping, bruised and cut up, they laughed. Something had passed between them and they were closer than ever. She also quit hiding the fact she was a girl around him, and only him.
Men still expected girls who lived on the streets to spread their legs in order to survive.
She had too much pride and would rather die first before submitting to a man in that way.
Hadrian was in his happy place. This city was rife with opportunity for pickpockets. Most of the local ones were too pathetic to be of any real challenge, and with her at his side to deal with the any local gangs, it was unlikely they would have to leave anytime soon.
The other cities had too much competition or too little traffic to be worth sticking around. This place though, was almost perfect. It had just enough challenge to be worth staying, and the tourist industry was healthy enough for them to live like kings.
Hadrian grinned widely as he saw a particularly juicy mark. The guy didn't look very bright at all, even if he wore some emblem on his clothing.
She grinned as she saw his mark. He looked rather stupid.
"You draw him in and I'll deal with him. We'll rob his corpse blind."
"Agreed," smirked Hadrian.
That was what made them such a devastating team. Hadrian was good at running and drawing people in, and no one ever expected her to come at them with such ferocity or with such skill with simple knives. The police really wanted to capture them because they had a habit of drawing in rich low-lives, murdering them and then robbing the corpse blind.
Hadrian waited for her to get into position, then grinned wildly. He took off at a dead run and snagged the idiot's wallet. He followed Hadrian without thinking twice, rage clouding his senses.
She was waiting for them. Hadrian slid past her, ignoring the filth on his clothes, and she slit the man apart. Amazingly, this idiot didn't die immediately...but he was in no condition to get up and attack back. She was very thorough when she was in the mood for it, and she enjoyed blood so very much.
She wasn't stupid enough to lick the blood though, as she also knew perfectly well there were such things as blood born diseases and neither of them were particularly inclined to deal with doctors or having to steal medicines.
"Shishishi... Looks like you'll have to do some work again today~!" she practically sang. She flipped one of her knives to him, and he calmly went up to the guy with a flat smile on his face.
"I would say I'm sorry, but I'm not," he said cheerfully. He slit the man's throat and didn't let up on the wound until the light died out and the gurgling stopped. He wiped off the knife and started checking the man's pockets. "Shit. Come look at this."
"What is it, peasant?" she demanded.
Hadrian flipped open the wallet and she frowned.
"This idiot is that high ranked? His skills were pathetic."
"Which means there might be people who'll come after us. We better step up our game and make sure they don't track down who killed him."
"Shishishi... In that case, let's make it hard to identify him."
She raised a knife and proceeded to methodically cut off the head, hands and feet. She also slashed up the emblem on his clothes and they hid the license someplace it wouldn't be found.
They disposed of the mess in a pig pen they found, where the animals finished off the meal. She made certain they would be riled up by killing one of the smaller pigs.
Hadrian planned to cook that later, since there was no point in wasting meat like that.
The two vanished into the night, keeping close eye on the newspapers about a body in the alley.
Elsewhere, two days later in a remote location outside Florence...
"Boss, I got positive confirmation on the body found in the alley without a head, hands or feet."
"Who was it, trash?"
"Ottabio. Piece of shit got taken out by a pair of kids who had the sense to dispose of the evidence. One drew him in by stealing his wallet, a second dealt most of the damage and the cutting, and the first killed him off. Caught it all on CCTV," said the first smirking.
Anyone who could be taken out that easily wasn't Varia Quality. The fool let his guard down, and his weakness got him killed.
The only real interest they had in the brats who killed the fool was to recruit them. After all, anyone with that sort of killing instinct and the sense to dispose of the evidence could be trained into the right sort of killers they wanted.
The clouds above parted, revealing the figures of the men in the room. One with long silver hair and a sword on his left hand and the papers with the report was the Varia Rain Officer, Squalo Superbi. He had taken over the title as Second-in-Command from Ottabio, and the man had been a thorn in his side ever since.
If it wasn't against Varia rules for Officers to kill other Officers, Squalo would have killed the weak trash himself and be done with it.
The other, who held the position as head of the Varia, was a man by the name of Xanxus. The youngest son of the Vongola, he had recently taken over the Varia from the previous head.
"Tch. Might be worth scouting out these trash to see if they're worthy or if they just got lucky."
Squalo almost felt sorry for these brats. They were going to be targeted by the Boss, and he didn't really take it easy on kids.
Meh, if they could survive Xanxus then they were definitely Varia Quality and worth keeping around.
Hadrian was openly suspicious. Outside of a brief, minor mention of the body found in the alley there was not much police action on finding the killers. In fact the cops seemed far too eager to shift the duty of finding them to whoever this guy worked for.
Generally speaking, when the cops didn't bother to investigate something like the murder of a man wearing what was clearly an official uniform, that meant one thing.
There was a group already in firm control of the area, and they had just pissed them off.
Hadrian kept a firm eye on the people around them, before he finally noticed something he had missed before.
A CCTV camera aimed in the general direction of the alley they had killed that fool and robbed him. Which meant this guy's boss would be after them.
Hadrian had almost no respect for gangs. Most of their leaders were weak trash that were pathetically easy to kill, or liked to brag far too much.
And they had just drawn themselves into the line of fire of one strong enough to control even the cops. Great.
"Shishishi... peasant, if you're so worried I'll show you a fun trick. It's how I deal with locks when you're not around."
Hadrian had wondered about that, and why every time she dealt with the locks they always ended up half melted when they were too hard for her to pick. She was a tolerably good hand at it, but sometimes she got really frustrated.
She preferred to make him do it.
He watched with amazing as red flames covered her hands.
"Shishishi... impressed, peasant?"
"How did you do that?"
She snickered in that odd way of hers before she walked him through it. He had been through enough life and death situations to understand what she was saying. The moments of pure calm as he drew on something and miracles happened.
Without much warning, violet colored flames sprang from his head and hands.
"Wha... How come mine are different?"
"Shishishi. Red means Storm, purple means Cloud. I disintegrate things, you multiply them."
She had manifested her Flames at an early age, and her parents had not been pleased. But she did manage to get a book on what they meant and found that red meant she could melt things with her hands.
She studied the other types, and still vaguely remembered what the other colors meant.
He tilted his head.
"So basically we're never going to run out of things like lock picks or knives again."
"Shishishi... I read that it doesn't work too well on food."
"No, I was thinking more along the lines of water. Eating the same food everyday would get very boring very quickly."
The two of them put the matter of fire out of mind. Using a fancy trick would make them too noticeable and make it very easy for them to slip up and get killed. And Hadrian was still kicking himself for not noticing the camera sooner.
Neither realized that in a few short days...more of a week really...that same fire would keep them alive against the most difficult opponent they would likely face.
Hadrian took one look at the man with the feathers and red eyes, and steered as clear as humanly possible from the man. This was not someone he wanted to mess with, much less steal from.
It would be the last thing he did, and he very much liked breathing. He was too strong for even his partner to deal with.
Oh, she might get lucky and get a few shots in, but he'd kill them first.
He thought he avoided the danger rather calmly...except the man spotted him and for the next three hours followed Hadrian around.
Hadrian spotted his friend and nodded to one of the alleys with roofs close enough for them to hop and hopefully evade this guy. If he was the one who ruled over this area they would have to leave in very short order.
No way was he stupid enough to tangle with him.
"Shishishi... you have a follower," she said to him.
"We need to get out of town. Preferably before he catches up to us."
She gathered their limited belongings and the two made their way outside...only to find the man waiting for them.
"You two are impressively hard to track down," he said.
Hadrian froze, but kept his friend behind him. She had better aim than he did, and he was used to being hit.
The man had a terrifying grin, if you weren't sure of what he planned to do.
"Let's see what sort of brats were able to take down even a Cloud as weak as Ottabio," he said with a smirk.
Fire came from his hands, much like the one she had showed him. Except it was the wrong color.
She started snickering evilly, as red flames erupted from her and coated her knives. It was a miracle they had yet to melt...except he could tell they would need replacing after this.
Well, she said the purple fire multiplied things...
Suddenly the number of knives doubled, tripled, almost filling the alley. The man's grin widened even further.
She struck first, trying to cut him up. Hadrian was not far behind, acting as her shield as his purple fire was briefly tinged with a green hue every time he was hit.
The fire hurt, but not in a way he expected. More like it was brushing up against something roughly, testing him.
Seeing what the man hit with his fire, Hadrian immediately grabbed his friend and threw himself over her protectively. A purple shield sprang between him and the man.
He knew what an explosive looked like.
There was a sound like falling rubble and he felt something hit him on the head, likely a brick or a pipe.
The dust settled and the man was alive. Annoyed, but alive.
But his vision was getting blurry. More so than usual, like before he took to stealing glasses and trying on all sorts of pairs until he found out that made his vision clearer.
His friend froze, before looking very pissed.
"I didn't give you permission to die on me, peasant," she growled.
He had trouble responding.
The man looked somewhat embarrassed. Hadrian blacked out before he could hear the rest.
The day after, he woke up in a sunny room with several beds that looked somewhat like a doctor's office.
Except he highly doubted any doctor would dress as flamboyantly as the man tending to the few patients inside.
"Shishishi...the peasant is alive."
He turned his head and saw the man from before. Along with another who looked equally as dangerous.
Somehow he had a feeling this was going to be a major turning point in his life. Just like the day he met her for the first time.