AN: So, first, I want to thank those of you who left nice and proper comments. You guys are awesome.
On the other hand, those of you that left a comment that was something like 'Update' or 'It's been weeks you need to update' or 'update update update i need moar'... Well, just a tip for you - that's not how it works. Literally each time I receive an 'update' comment, even if it's 'update please' (which is more polite, but still a demand pressuring the author), I want nothing more than just stop writing. You'll all be glad to know that for each of those comment, I've waited a few more days than planned before updating, which is why it took that long to come.
People. Dear, dear, DEAR readers. Please. I (and every other author on that site, for that matter) am NOT a writing machine. You know what I have ? A real life, with a job, and problems that are a tiny bit more important than fanfiction. You know what I do NOT have ? All the time and motivation in the world, as well as endless patience for people who think they are entitled to what I write. Demanding of me that I update faster, that I write more to suit your needs, or that I include some ideas that you had ? Yeah, no. That's rude.
Like, just... Be nice and polite ? And considerate of the fact that fanfiction authors are doing this for FREE, on their own time, and don't actually OWE anyone anything ? That's all I ask.
Of course, most of you that left comment were actually adorable and really nice and just made my days. Each single comment telling me that you liked it, or that you laughed, even a simple smiley, that's just wonderful. You people should know that you're the ones that keep me from quitting when everything else weights me down. So THANK YOU RANDOM CITIZENS for that.
Warnings: the usual violence, the usual trolling, the usual mangling of canon.
No One's Here To Sleep:
"The end is near ! Skull of the Arcobalenos is a demon in disguise ! The devil lives in him, in the form of a sandstorm, and will destroy all that we love and-"
"What the fuck." Reborn said, with feeling, staring blankly at the crazy-eyed guy standing at the corner of the street, standing on a large box and screaming.
"Don't mind him," Colonello said, snorting. "That's Crazy Colin. He's always there, shouting about the apocalypse and Skull being the Antichrist and stuff."
"...Skull ?" Reborn echoed, flatly.
"Yeah," Colonello shrugged. "We think he just lived through one too many Carcassa invasion of the island." He nodded grimly. "It's quite traumatizing. So much incompetence... and the octopus... and the fucking sand castles..."
Reborn stared at his fellow Arcobaleno, who was looking haunted, and mumbling something about 'just so much sand... so many castles...'. Suddenly, the posters he had seen about a Mafia Land support group to talk about the Carcassa Invasions made a little more sense.
"Are you alright ?" He asked, warily.
"Of course," As if nothing had happened, suddenly Colonello was back to normal. In the background, Crazy Colin was still shouting about giant tentacles made of sand that would crush the world like a ripe fruit. "Now, lets ignore him and continue. I do NOT want to talk about Skull today, thank you very much."
Reborn nodded cautiously.
Given that, unlike some, Skull did not stalk his fellow Arcobalenos for kicks and giggles, and certainly didn't go searching for them in the middle of the desert like a creep, and didn't talk shit about their amazing sand castles or their coffee drinking habits, and… Ahem. Right.
Given that he did not keep up with the events in their lives, at least not much, Skull didn't really pay any mind to the Vongola, and Reborn's student.
He was forced to, though, when the Dick in the Iron Hat contacted them all in a dream, to tell them there was a cure to the curse. Because obviously the Vongola would get involved into this. Fucking Reborn.
Like that clusterfuck with Byakuran and the future-that-wasn't wasn't enough.
Skull wasn't sure what was happening. He had been happily spending time in the Sahara when people had suddenly dropped from above. They had been ready to fight, but Skull being the - mostly - pacifist person he was, tried to talk first. It worked surprisingly well.
Then again, most villains loved to monologue.
"Wait, so you want to capture me, so you can extract the ancient power artifact that was forced on me," Skull said to the people in front of him. They were wearing the Millefiore uniforms. "Did I get that right ?"
"Yes," one of them helpfully agreed.
"And the extraction would probably kill me, right ?" Skull added, just to be certain.
They made awkward noises that probably meant yes as well.
I, Skull thought flatly to Shukaku, have the weirdest feeling of déjà-vu right now.
"And I suppose you wouldn't be willing to reconsider ?" Skull tried nonetheless. "I really don't want to kill you guys."
"Sorry, it's nothing personal," one of them said, shrugging, and then lunged at him-
Only to suddenly come to a halt. He wasn't the only one whose eyes widened when he realized the sand was quickly enveloping them, and certainly not the only one who looked at Skull with a frightened expression when he realized that the baby was the one currently controlling it.
"What are you doing ?" He screamed in panic.
"Ah, sorry man," Skull shrugged. The Millefiore agents could swear that there was a golden eye gleaming through the visor of his helmet. "It's nothing personal."
Meanwhile, in the Millefiore HQ.
Byakuran stared blankly at the screen.
Soichi stared blankly at the screen.
The Cervello stared blankly at the screen.
"That guy is the weakest arcobaleno ?" Byakuran said, flatly.
"Yes," the Cervello confirmed.
"Right," Byakuran said, nodding wisely. "Right, fuck that. We are killing the arcobalenos with radiation poisoning. That seems safer."
Tellingly, no one objected.
Yeah, dying from some sort of poisoned wave that affected the tri-ni-sette hadn't been fun at all, and frankly both Skull and Shukaku had felt a bit cheated.
Which was probably why Shukaku was so happy with the news of battles to get the cure that he was practically dancing in Skull's mind.
Battles ! Shukaku cheered. Blood and gore and fights ! Yeeesss !
Skull didn't point out that it all reeked of a trap. Shukaku would probably not listen to him.
Why had he accepted again ?
Ah well. How bad could it be.
"Is that Byakuran ?" Skull asked no one in particular, when team Yuni showed up.
Oooh, that motherf- Shukaku started, which Skull tuned out just in time. The demon cursed some more, before finally suggesting, We could swat him from the air. Look at those wings. He's just begging for it.
Skull had to admit, it was tempting. Very, very tempting-
"Skull ?" Enma asked slowly, nervously. "We're not joining in that battle, are we ?"
Skull turned a mostly innocent look on the teenager. Enma, weirdly, didn't seem reassured.
"How about I make you coffee at home," the teenager suggested, "And we can join... another day... against people that are a bit less... um. Strong."
"The Great Skull Sama is strong !" Skull protested huffily.
"Of course," Enma immediately agreed. "Does that mean you don't want coffee ?"
Skull hesitated for all of one second.
Damn him and his manipulative ways. To use coffee against him was cheating.
"No, no, no," he hastened to say. "Let's go get coffee !"
You are so weak, Shukaku despaired.
Then Bermuda had the brilliant idea to punch a hole right through Skull's brain.
Predictably, neither he nor Shukaku took kindly to that, and the One-Tail roared in Skull's brain, rising to the surface where Skull's consciousness faded.
Skull's last conscious and somewhat intelligent thought, in the midst of pain, pain, pain, and a vague, delirious, shit, what the fuck, was that Shukaku had better watch where he was stepping. He didn't want to find his companions as blood smears on the ground, flat as pancakes. Especially Enma. He made very good coffee.
Then, for the first time in a long time, he slept.
When he woke up again, he was in the middle of a sand cocoon, and he could feel Shukaku curled around him like a living, malicious sand-hill entombing him.
Skull blinked, and although his thoughts were still hazy, he struggled to wrestle his demon – literal one – back into him.
"No !" Shukaku roared, both mental and aloud, and that was a really worrying fact, because it meant that the demon really was out and about for who knew how long since Skull lost consciousness. "I will not be-"
Whatever Shukaku would not be, Skull didn't really care. He had the mother of all migraines, and his entrails were doing knots, and he was really hoping that the destruction wasn't that bad. So really, he had no time, nor patience, for a demonic temper tantrum. Shukaku could complain later.
Suddenly the sand shifted, and Skull heaved a sigh, knowing he had succeeded. Shukaku, in his mind, felt furious and worried and exhausted, and that was several more levels of bad.
Digging himself out of the sand-hill that was his demon, Skull couldn't help but wonder how long he'd been out for.
A touch to his head told him he was completely healed.
Which probably meant it'd been hours, if not days.
Skull finally resurfaced, sand shifting to accommodate him, and he had to blink away the desire to take a nap. He had slept for long enough. Instead, he focused on his surroundings. Which were made of… trees. Everywhere. Some of them – a lot of them, in fact – were more than a bit destroyed, in what seemed like a path.
"You-" Skull struggled with the words, throat raspy – he suspected that he literally had sand in his throat, or as near as it got. "You brought us to a forest ?!"
What ? Shukaku sounded mutinous and angry, and still terribly exhausted. You would have preferred the city ?
"No, of course not, but..." Skull hesitated.
You needed healing, and they would have attacked you further if I didn't leave, Shukaku said. Then, disgruntled. You are welcome, ungrateful brat.
"Right, yeah," Skull swallowed, painful and dry, "Thanks, Shukaku."
It took him a bit more time to finally adjust to the fact that, yes. He was on a really huge sand-hill, in the middle of a forest. Shukaku had brought them here, had curled on the ground, and had guarded him like an odd, giant sand gargoyle.
Skull's mind was pretty much blown.
Of course, that was the moment that his – as of yet unnoticed – watchers decided to speak up.
"What the actual fuck, kora !"
Skull whirled around, only now noticing that there were people perched in the trees, like really weird fruits, watching him like he was an alien. The arcobalenos were all there, eyes wide and wary.
...Which, given that he just 'hatched' from a sand-hill that was previously a sand-demon, might be understandable.
"Um," Skull tried for a smile, which was probably not very successful. "Hi ?"
"Well," Skull said wisely, looking at the destroyed block, the blood stains and the rubble that had previously been a city block, "That could have been worse."
"Could have been-" Verde choked from somewhere next to him. "How."
"You know, Shukaku was pretty much focused on keeping me alive, instead of destroying everything," Skull explained, with a tiny shrug. He added, wryly. "Which is frankly surprising, because the last time something like that happened, he didn't even care what happened to me, and simply flattened a good part of a city."
"This happened before ?" Lal said, looking terribly pale.
"Well yeah," Skull snorted. "Why do you think I don't sleep ? I'd love to, honestly, but if I loose consciousness even just a little bit I loose control. Unfortunately, people have managed to put me to sleep or knock me out before." He grinned, and they all looked at him warily. "Why do you think Luce lost it so badly, that one morning you tried to drug the breakfast ?" He enjoyed the whitening of all their faces, and his grin became a little more viciously amused. "Yeah, I wouldn't have liked to die so stupidly either, but then again you would have deserved it a bit."
He paused, and then amended.
"Except Fon, maybe," he said.
"I appreciate that," Fon said, a bit wanly.
Skull beamed at him.
"Oh, by the way," Skull said, suddenly remembering something.
His fellow arcobalenos looked at him warily, waiting for him to ask.
"What happened to the battles ?" He wondered - and they all face-faulted.
"We're not cursed any more," Viper was the one to reply succinctly. "Most of the representatives and fighters have gone back home."
"Oh," Skull nodded, thoughtful. Then a thought struck him, "Did I - or Shukaku I guess - hurt anyone important ?"
All the arcobalenos got a distant look on their faces, expressions pained.
"Come back here you pigeon !" The gigantic mass of sand that had been Skull screamed at a panicked Byakuran, jumping and trying to swipe at him. "Come back and let me eat you !"
From the sidelines, where everyone had evacuated, Tsuna looked horrified.
"Should we help him ?" He asked.
Incredulous looks were shot his way.
"Do you want to die ?" Squalo asked. He snorted. "Nah, let the white-haired marshmallow fucker get swatted like a fly. Good riddance I say."
"Well, Yuni was very upset when you put Byakuran in the hospital, which is why she isn't there," Lal eventually said with a grimace. She added, after a beat, "He'll make a full recovery of course."
"Ah, of course," Skull echoed.
Damn it, Shukaku grumbled.
Then, of course, came the part of the explanations that he really wasn't looking forward to.
"Okay," he huffed, looking at his coffee cup with the vague hope it might help him. "So. This is going to need you to suspend your disbelief for a few minutes, okay ?"
"We've seen you morph into a giant sand monster," Viper said dryly, "I think we're ready to hear anything at this point."
"I think at this point I'd believe in alien life," Colonello muttered in agreement.
"Yeah, no, I'm not an alien, and neither is Shukaku," Skull snorted. Then paused. "I think."
He absently waved a hand to make his sand pile on the table, under the rather wary and disbelieving eyes of the others. They still hadn't adapted to the fact that he could control sand. Or the fact that he had always been able to, and had just hidden it really well.
A twitch of his fingers, and the sand became nine miniature figures of the bijuus, as they should look like. He gestured to them.
"Those," he started, "Are tailed beasts. They are, simply put, enormous masses of pure energy, given form and sentience. The how and why they came into creation is mostly myths and legends, and I'm not about to go into that, so just take it as an act of some god and leave it there." He ignored the dubious looks this got him, soldiering on. "All tailed beasts are incredibly powerful, and large. You've seen Shukaku – he's easily the size of a building, and that's when he's still anchored to me. He actually gets around twenty story high, at the very least. As do all the other tailed beasts, for that matter."
That at least, got him something other than disbelief. Instead, they all looked at the tiny figurines made of sand, and clearly tried to imagine them being their actual size. In Skull's mind, Shukaku started cackling at how white their faces got.
"Right," he said, smiling a bit wryly, "I see you're starting to get the problem. We have nine creatures that size, made of energy, able to raze mountains with a swipe of their tail. And those beasts, at some point, were freely gallivanting around the countryside."
"Somehow, I doubt people liked that much," Lal pointed out a bit weakly.
"Well, obviously they didn't," Skull agreed dryly, "Except that it's almost impossible to kill a tailed beast, and even if you somehow managed to kill one, it would just reform a few years down the line – since they are made of energy, they are arguably god-like immortals." He shrugged. "So, when the humans realized they couldn't very well kill them, they decided to find another way. They thought that they could at least imprison them and seal them away instead."
He took a sip of his coffee, then shook his head.
"As you can guess, it wasn't the end of the story," he huffed. "Some ass, at some point, decided that hey, since we could seal them away, we might be able to use them, right ?"
"That sounds both really stupid and actually like something someone would say," Reborn snorted.
Well yeah, because human nature was like that. Also, Skull was currently skimming over centuries of history, but they didn't have time for the long, world-building version. So, instead, he simply grinned.
"Yeah, it was a stupid idea," he said, which garnered a few snorts and 'no kidding'. "Anyway, eventually, someone had the bright idea to seal the tailed beasts inside people, instead of containers like pots or tea kettles."
"Tea kettles ?" Fon noted.
"Shukaku was in a tea kettle before getting shoved into me," Skull said, with a wave. That seemed to remind them of the situation, and they eyed him a bit more nervously. He grinned at them. "Yep. As you can already guess, although the first few attempts ended really badly, someone eventually managed to find a more or less viable way to stick a tailed beast into a host. Those people, like me, are called sacrifices – because we're the only thing standing between population and destruction via angry and resentful god-like creatures."
He hummed, taking another sip of coffee, and went on.
"To be perfectly blunt, sacrifices are pretty much the equivalent of a nuke, and that's how we've always been treated. Really powerful weapons that could loose control and explode in the face of others at any point," he rolled his eyes, even if it was pretty accurate – the whole attitude was the reason such explosions happened in the first place. "But that's not the point. The point is that generally, people get a seal master, and often a very young child – or an older host with enough vitality that they'll adapt and survive the shock. And then, they shove the demon inside, seal it away, and depending on their abilities, make the seal more or less full-proof."
"Is that what happened to you, then ?" Verde asked, looking very interested.
"Nah," Skull snorted, "I come from a place where there was no seal master. The leader still decided to go through with it, and stuck the demon into a pregnant woman, making someone with really shitty seal skills making the seal." He gave them a wry look. "Needless to say, there were a lot of complications, and the seal was so shoddy that I was pretty much a ticking time bomb."
"Was ?" Reborn arched a brow.
"Okay, yeah, still am, somewhat," Skull admitted freely. "Still. Normally, a seal cuts the sacrifice from the demon, so that nothing bleeds through. You can still use it, use the whole energy boost and any pro that comes with, but it avoids problems like possession, or demons getting loose."
"I take it your seal didn't work like that ?" Viper asked.
"Nah, my seal worked barely as a container, one that had so many cracks it's a wonder it actually held," Skull said. "It kept Shukaku inside of me, but I've shared a mind with him as long as I can remember, and as mentioned I can't sleep or fall unconscious without him breaking free. And that's without mentioning all the years I spent getting the sand under control, because it kept attacking anything that startled me, let alone scared me."
"So, you have a demon in your head, and in your guts, is what you're saying," Colonello said flatly. "How are you still sane ?"
"Eh," Skull shrugged. "I had a period where I was psychotic. Pretty much killed everyone I felt like. Then a friend – the sacrifice for the nine-tails, actually – beat some sense into me." He paused for effect, and spread his arms. "And now I'm better !"
He gave them his best Naruto-inspired bullshit smile. The way they paled was wonderful, and Shukaku was cackling enough for two. Keeping a straight face was getting difficult.
"Anyway," he waved a hand, dismissing the matter, "That was actually before. At some point, some guys that wanted to extract and keep the tailed-beasts for themselves managed to get a hold on me, and tried to extract Shukaku. Neither he, nor I were really fond of the idea, especially since it would have killed me. So Shukaku, in a panicked flailing moment-"
Hey ! I did not panic ! It was totally intended, Shukaku protested.
"Right," Skull scoffed, rolling his eyes, "Excuse me, Shukaku, in his infinite wisdom and not totally panicking like a headless chicken, decided to high-tail it out of there and somewhere really far away. Given that we were in the middle of a ritual, and that he didn't known what the fuck he was doing, he grabbed my soul, grabbed his own, and shoved it in a new body in a completely different dimension. Just to be sure we'd be far enough, you know."
Skull grinned, and gestured to himself.
"New body, new me," he announced grandly, and was rewarded by a truly pole-axed look on most of their faces. Then he huffed, and grimaced. "The only trouble with that, is that in this world there are no sealing masters at all, and that obviously the seal didn't transfer with us."
"Wait- Are you saying you don't have a seal ?" Reborn hissed.
"Nope," Skull said. "I'm holding Shukaku pretty much on will-power and his goodwill alone." He paused, and amended. "Well that, and caffeine."
They looked at him like the world was ending.
Skull felt he could be excused for laughing in their faces.
After that, well…
Things pretty much went back to normal. All the Arcobalenos went on their merry way, doing whatever they had been doing before, and simply going back to living a normal, if not cursed life.
Maybe one difference was that they regularly met up in their old House, just to get news and to check up on each other's development. No surprise there, it had been Verde's idea, and the others had all agreed to keeping in touch. It felt just like old times, really.
Except that now his fellow Arcobalenos were walking on egg-shells around him.
Pshhh, Shukaku said dismissively, cowards.
"Hmm," Skull hummed, taking a sip of his coffee. The others were asleep, and he was the only one awake right now, as it was often the case, "I give them a week before they realize I haven't changed."
Or, Shukaku tried slyly, you could kill them and save yourself the trouble.
Skull snorted, and rolled his eyes, but didn't reply. Typical Shukaku. Some thing never changed.
"Wait," Colonello said suddenly, stopping in the middle of the corridor, gathering several curious looks from the other arcobalenos. "You control sand, kora."
"Um, yes ?" Skull said, a bit bemused.
Colonello turned to him slowly, murder in his eyes.
"That castle, in the desert," he said, very slowly. "It was made of sand."
Skull's face went completely blank. Shukaku started cackling in his mind.
"I have no idea what castle you're talking about," he lied, backing away surreptitiously.
"I knew that fucking castle wasn't the same, kora !" Colonello screamed. "You fucking bastard !"
He lunged at Skull, foregoing weapons to try to throttle him with his bare hands. Skull shrieked and dove out of the way, accidentally letting Colonello slip on some sand that was just coincidentally there.
And so things went back to normal.
True to form, the Arcobalenos soon seemed to realize that apart from being obvious about his control of sand, Skull hadn't changed an iota. So they relaxed and went back to old habits, except they were a bit less annoying. They also had a tendency to observe him a bit more, clearly trying to catch when he was bullshitting them – sometimes, wonder of wonders, they even managed to see when he was clearly faking.
It was fun.
The best part, though, was how they would always make sure he had enough coffee.
Maybe Skull should tell them that he would hold on even without caffeine – come on, give him a little credit there.
Who was he to refuse free coffee.
Then there was the incident with the mind-walker Mist.
It started with a normal day, Skull simply tinkering with his motorcycle with no less than three cups of coffee besides him, when there was shouting coming from the kitchen. Skull, curious, stood up and wandered to see what was happening.
He opened the door just in time to see Viper channel a truly impressive amount of killing intent, directed towards some unknown Mist user. The guy saw him, and made a victorious exclamation.
"I'll prove to you that I can override weak minds !" He exclaimed.
Skull's thoughts went from a curious is the guy a fan of Viper to an offended weak mind excuse you to a more concerned uh oh, trouble in a second flat. The time it took him to realize that all the Arcobalenos had turned to see who exactly, the guy was looking at, and had all horrified expressions on their faces, actually.
Then, in a burst of mist flames, something tried to crash in his mind.
I WILL EAT YOU, PATHETIC WORM ! Shukaku roared in his mind.
In front of him, the Mist user crumpled down like a ragdoll.
Skull's brain, clearly not working too well that day, went a bit like a Yamanaka isn't it and then oh shit in realization. For a long moment, he just stared at the guy in stunned silence. Then he offered a wide-eyed look at the others, who were all still staring at him, probably waiting for something.
"So, um," he said, awkwardly, "In my defense, I didn't know he was going to do that ?"
"Skull ?" Fon asked, a bit weakly.
"Yes ?" Skull said, uncertainly.
There was a huge sigh of relief coming from everyone all at once. Skull blinked, then realized they had all thought the guy had possessed him. Which, yeah, it would have ended badly.
Then they seemed to understand what he had said, and all of them turned to the crumpled body.
"Oh, shit," Colonello said, and then a bit morbidly, "What's wrong with him ? Is he dead, kora ?"
Shit. All of them converged towards the body, and Reborn shook his head – apparently not dead, but clearly unconscious. Viper turned to him, suspicious.
"What did you do ?" They asked.
"Erm, I didn't do anything, but, um," Skull diverted his gaze, "Shukaku might have ?"
Viper seemed to take a moment to wrap their head around the 'oh right, murderous demon in his head' reminder. Lal was the one to ask.
"Can you- um, undo whatever Shukaku did ?" She asked warily.
Skull blinked. Well, it couldn't hurt to try, right ? He tried to call for Shukaku, but for once the demon was suspiciously silent. As if sulking or-
Turning inwards, he narrowed his eyes at the way Shukaku was stubbornly keeping his jaws shut.
Oh my god, he said flatly, staring at the demon, you really tried to eat him.
Shukaku shot him a defiant look, but tellingly didn't open his mouth. God damn it. Skull scowled at him, and did the mental equivalent of poking the demon with a long pointy stick.
Spit him out, he ordered. Shukaku stubbornly curled on himself, growling in his throat. Spit him out, Shukaku, you infernal beast !
Shukaku shook his head.
I swear- Skull growled. He jumped on the demon, and started trying to wrestle his mouth open. Spit ! Come on, spit ! It's not healthy for you to eat that sort of things !
Shukaku gave him a look, but after more incentive to 'just spit it out you overgrown raccoon', reluctantly opened his mouth let something fall out. Both him and Skull stared for a long moment at the rather mangled, chewed out thing that had been the Mist.
I don't think he's breathing any more, Shukaku offered, a bit sheepish but a lot smug too.
No, somehow I don't think so either, Skull replied, dry as Suna.
He huffed, and did the mental equivalent of booting a bag of trash out of his mind. Then he opened his eyes, to find everyone staring at him- And then at the mind-walker's body, when he suddenly started to convulse.
"What's wrong with him, now ?" Reborn asked, warily.
"Erm," Skull cringed a bit. "I had to force Shukaku to spit him out. He was a bit… chewed."
They all stared at him in disbelief. Skull gave them his best innocent look.
Somehow, they didn't seem to fall for it. Skull blamed the convulsing man on the floor. It did hamper his credibility a little.
"Well," he finally said, "I hope he wasn't someone important."
Tasted like shit, was Shukaku's input.
Skull, like most of the time, tuned him out.
The END !
Yes, you've read that right. This was the last chapter of 'No One's Here To Sleep'. It was a fun ride while it lasted, but I'm afraid it must end here. I hope that you've all enjoyed reading as much as I've enjoyed writing it !
Leave a Review on your way out ! ;)
(Please do not ask me to update or change my mind. Because guess what ? It'll make me simply want to never update it ever again, even if by some miracle I got the muse back.)