Emiko Niwa was rather surprised to hear from her younger sister. The last time she saw Nana was when she got married to that rather odd young man who felt off.
"Nana! It's lovely to see you. And who's this little one?" asked Emiko.
Nana smiled and picked up the little boy. He was about Daisuke's age, if not a few months older.
"This is my little Tsu-kun. Tsuna, I want you to say hi to your aunt Emiko," said Nana brightly.
Tsuna chose to hug his mother's neck and hide. Nana sighed a bit.
"I'm afraid he's been rather skittish since that foolish husband of mine brought his boss to our house. Is father home?"
In short order, Nana was catching up with her sister and drinking tea, while Tsuna got to know his cousin Daisuke. The two of them were playing with the toys in the living room.
"So what did your foolish husband do this time?" asked Daichi. He never really liked Iemitsu much to begin with... the man was too flaky.
Nana sighed in exasperation.
"He decided to put a seal on my son without even consulting me. I don't know what kind, but Tsuna's been rather skittish and his skills have deteriorated in far too short a time. He used to be rather graceful and now he's positively clumsy. To say nothing of his grade...they've dropped so far that even the teachers have noticed something is up."
Daichi and Emiko frowned. Placing a seal on a child was not something to be done so lightly. And from the sound of it, Nana's husband used one of the older ones that weren't used anymore because they were positively useless and did more harm than good.
"What did your husband say on the matter?" asked Daichi.
Nana's eyes hardened. She was clearly furious about the whole matter.
"He continues to pretend he knows nothing and he's never home. I suspect he's going to play the fool and claim ignorance. This was the first visit home he's made in over six months, and he goes and does this. If he's not going to give Tsuna the proper training, then he has zero say in what we teach him."
"You want him to join Daisuke in the family training?" asked Emiko seriously. Nana had elected to leave, rather than continue the family business. After all, it wouldn't be the first time that the family was put in danger by their rivals, only to come back from an estranged member taking up the old ways.
"If Iemitsu is going to abandon us, then I see no reason why Tsuna can't learn our ways instead. It would serve the fool right, and even I can see the seal they put on my son will only hurt him in the long run."
Daichi took a long pull of his tea.
"We should figure out which seal they used first, and remove it once we find out the proper counter. Of course this means you'll have to rejoin our ranks," said Daichi. Having the mother there would make things go much smoother.
Nana nodded. She would not allow her idiot husband to ruin their son's life.
It took them three months to find the seal that was used, and another two before they could remove it safely. As they suspected, it was an older, rather barbaric seal that forcibly shoved the natural magics and made it very hard for the victim to compensate because it made controlling their natural powers almost impossible.
Nana would love to have words with her husband over this, but had to keep her tongue because she suspected that if he ever found out she had it removed he might try it a second time.
Better to plead ignorance and keep Tsuna far from the man until their family gifts fully manifested.
Tsuna would be the first to admit his family was weird. But he wouldn't trade it for the world.
Even if he found the way his mother woke him up when he would rather sleep in very annoying.
Having the bed collapse inward and dropping you in the basement got really annoying, really fast. Though it was nothing compared to the fact his mother made certain he would have to dodge Hibari-san every freaking morning.
He still didn't know what exactly his mother did to piss the other boy off, but every morning when he went to school he always had to find a way past the other teen or he would end up bitten to death in short order. Regardless of whether he was actually late or not. Considering Hibari also brought in his Disciplinary Committee to their little game of cat and mouse, Tsuna had gotten very, very good at getting to school without being seen or noticed.
Then again it was much harder to hide in broad daylight than it was at night. He was a ghost when it came to moving at night.
"Tsu-kun! Breakfast is ready!"
Tsuna easily dodged the traps around the house. It was almost second nature at this point. The entire home was an obstacle course that changed every morning, save for certain areas. The kitchen, living room, bathroom and master bedroom were the only safe areas.
Personally he always though the basement was the worst area. Whenever he overslept and ended up dumped in there, it usually took him an hour to get through the traps and other tricks his mother had set up and then through the security system.
Seeing the box on the table, Tsuna dismantled the locks and took his breakfast out. It was part of his mother's odd habits, to make him work for his food.
On the plus side, the bullies he had to deal with at school every day had never successfully destroyed his lunch. He always took a bento to school that had a combination lock and was practically indestructible. And even if they tossed it in the trash, the food was perfectly safe once he retrieved it.
"Itadakimasu~!" said Tsuna happily.
He grabbed his things from his room, then went out the window. He wasn't dealing with them a third time, and it wasn't that far a jump.
Tsuna looked around carefully. He saw four of Hibari's men and the prefect himself was at the gate. He grinned, and came up with a route that let him evade all of them.
Once he was safely in the school (where Hibari and his men wouldn't bother him), he whistled as he went to class.
It was only as he was leaving that he remembered something important.
Today was his fourteenth birthday.
Tsuna grinned as he came home.
"What is it Mama?"
"Auntie Emiko and Grandpa are here~!" said Nana happily.
"What about Daisuke?"
"He'll be here later. We don't want to ruin the surprise for him," said Nana cryptically.
Translation: he was off exploring Namimori since the party wouldn't be until later. For some reason Nana always had Tsuna's birthdays after he hit thirteen take place after seven.
Tsuna had the feeling it had something to do with their family and why he was always training with those ridiculous traps. His mother had yet to confirm or deny that they were a family of Phantom Thieves... because most of the traps were usually the kind to protect valuables in rich homes or museums. Or were meant to deter the really, really good thieves.
He hated that he had to keep up the guise of being "Dame-Tsuna" though. Maybe his mother would let him drop it as a birthday present?
"Tsu-kun, there's something special in your room. Why don't you go see what it is before the party?" said Nana with a smile.
Clearly whatever the present was had to be tied to whatever it was their family specialized in.
Seeing the picture of his crush, the school idol Kyoko, Tsuna felt heat surge in his body. He almost collapsed on the floor, but managed to keep up right.
This wasn't like the time he was five, when fire coursed through his veins. Or the seven months after that when the seal was removed, and the fire came again.
This was something else. Something that had been lying in wait for years before he was ready to handle it.
Suddenly all those times he helped with the rituals that kept the seals on the many artworks in his aunt's home made a lot of sense. They were preparing him for this, to handle this power.
He felt something or someone attaching itself to his consciousness. Like a great cat stretching out after a very long nap. It took Tsuna several minutes to register something important.
He looked nothing like himself!
Tsuna ran to the full length mirror in his room...suddenly it's presence made far too much sense.
He was at least two feet and a half taller than he was before, his hair had shifted from caramel colored to that of a deep amethyst. His eyes were like purple jewels and his skin was slightly tanned. He looked like he could pass for his late teens to early twenties, rather than the rather short fourteen year old he was. His clothes barely fit his new frame at all.
Nana and Emiko giggled when they saw his new form.
"Oh my, you look so handsome Tsuna-kun!" said Emiko delighted. And to think she only had to wait a few more months before Daisuke underwent the same transformation.
"Mom... is this the reason why you won't admit to our family being Phantom Thieves?" asked Tsuna twitching. "Because I hadn't awakened yet?"
"That's right! My Tsu-kun is so smart~!" said Nana happily.
No, it's because I read so much manga that I can recognize an obvious setting for a story involving magical phantom thieves... Tsuna thought with a sweatdrop.
What followed was a basic explanation and an assignment, which Tsuna had already guessed was coming. Basically it was something passed down for four hundred years (only to the males), the only way to reverse it was for "Dark" (which was the name of the spirit inhabiting his body) to find the 'sacred maiden', and he would now be sent on assignments to steal artifacts. Though odds were he would have to do some traveling when it came to stealing.
Unlike his cousin Daisuke, Tsuna didn't live in an area where high classed museums with potentially dangerous artwork happened to cluster in one location.
Besides...it meant he would have a chance to avoid Hibari, who hated it when people "disturbed the peace of Namimori". He didn't want to get bitten to death after all.
"So to sum everything up... this is hereditary for the boys, I'll transform every time I see Kyoko-chan and feel my heart race, the transformation has no actual time limit, and the only way to shift back is for Dark to find another girl that makes his heart race, right?" said Tsuna.
"Exactly!" said Nana happily.
"No, I've read enough manga about magical occurrences and phantom thieves to recognize common plot points when I see them. I was kinda expecting something like this to happen when you wouldn't admit to why you make me evade all those traps every morning or learn how to hack into high level computers," said Tsuna flatly.
Daichi and Emiko laughed outright at that.
"Do I at least get to have the fun of watching Daisuke fumble around trying to figure things out when it's his turn?" asked Tsuna hopefully. That was the only thing that could make this entire headache worth it... seeing someone else have go through the same thing, except without the knowledge base Tsuna had of magical transformations.
Daisuke wasn't much of an otaku like Tsuna. He preferred to paint and make his own artwork rather than read graphic novels.
Emiko's grin was evil.
"In that case, where am I supposed to go and what do I need to steal?" asked Tsuna grinning.
He could live with being a thief... all the "normal" jobs were so boring, and at least no one would dare call him "No Good Tsuna" while he was in this form.
The theft went off without a hitch, spawning a large number of rumors about the return of Phantom Dark.
Though it was what happened after the theft, when he was escaping the police (and the Disciplinary Committee) that really spiced up his birthday.
Dark took one look at Kyouya (by this point the spirit had fully anchored himself in Tsuna's body and could speak properly or take control) and grinned. Right before he did something that really had Tsuna questioning whether Dark was really straight or not.
Mostly because Dark actually kissed Kyouya Hibari, one of the strongest BOYS in the area on the cheek and called him beautiful.
What the hell?
Later that night...
Emiko wasn't the only one choking when she heard Tsuna's odd question.
"Mama, I thought you said Dark only liked girls?"
"He does, according to our records," said Nana smiling.
"Then why did he just kiss Hibari Kyouya on the cheek before switching back?"
"And this Hibari is..." asked Daichi.
"The strongest and arguably most vicious male my age," said Tsuna bluntly.
Emiko and Daichi choked hearing that.
Nana however smiled.
"Just because you look like a no-good doesn't mean you are, Tsu-kun," said Nana cryptically.
Tsuna blinked, before he stared at his mother. Then it hit him what she was talking about.
He started laughing.
"That is ridiculous. Which hospital?"
"Not until later. It's better if the uproar over Dark's reappearance died down a bit first," said Nana.
"I'm back! Happy birthday, Tsuna!" said Daisuke. He eyed the outfit oddly. "What's with the costume?"
"Apparently stealing runs in the family. Check it out," said Tsuna, and Daisuke gaped.
"That was you?!"
"Come on Dai, you really think half of the things in your basement was acquired legally?" laughed Tsuna.
Daisuke groaned at the reminder. He didn't like half the nonsense his mother and grandfather insisted he train in.
Unlike Tsuna, he never really took the whole trapped house deal in stride. Or had the sense to fix it so that he fell into a makeshift hammock rather than a net when he wanted to sleep in and his mother wouldn't let him.
(Tsuna had long since gotten used to his mother's idea of waking her reluctant son up. As such he switched the net with a hammock that had pillows and a blanket, along with an alarm clock so he didn't sleep in too late...though usually he took the fact he was almost certain to be "bitten to death" by Hibari as a given on those days.)
It was on the lips of everyone in class for the entire week. The "Return of Phantom Dark". Of course Hibari had been in a right mood ever since the thief made good on his warning and stole the painting.
There were piles of people he had "bitten to death" for getting on his nerves all over, and the hospital had actually sent someone to try and placate the irate teen. What he was so pissed about, no one was entirely certain off.
Tsuna knew, but he wasn't entirely suicidal.
Besides, he had to keep playing up the "clumsy, stupid no-good Tsuna" disguise his mother insisted on.
In the Reception Room...
"Damn you Dark. I will bite you to death for that stunt!" snarled Hibari.
It was bad enough that stupid omnivore managed to escape, but to actually have the balls to kiss them like that and fly off...
Hibari was going to make Dark pay and pay dearly for that stunt.