Wasn't this an annoying predicament. He had thought he had gotten used to a lot of things. Advanced technology, clones, weird ass powers, the insanity of the criminal element (or just humanity in general)... but this? This felt like fate was deliberately mocking him and telling him that some things were impossible to escape.

Perhaps he should start at the beginning.

He had lived to a ripe old age of fifty before croaking the first time, a rarity considering he used to be a paid assassin for Chronos. After the mess with Creed and Eve, he had more or less settled down.

Then he woke up a squalling infant. A girl, no less.

He had not been pleased.

Here's where things deviated from what he remembered. Apparently after he died, he had been immediately reincarnated. Which kinda sucked because he was really hoping to see Saya again.

For the first few years he had been dormant, blissfully sleeping off the sudden reincarnation. Then something jarred him loose and he ended up with a massive info dump into the body of a five year old little girl who was given the rather adorable name of Hotaru, or 'Firefly'.

Pretty fitting since according to Japanese folklore fireflies carried the spirits of the dead.

He had a twin brother by the name of Ieyasu, though there was something decidedly off about his parents.

Iemitsu was an idiot, but there was an undercurrent in his aura that he had recognized immediately as dangerous. One visit after the memory dump (which strangely happened two years after being woken up so abruptly...Iemitsu lived abroad and gave ridiculous lies as to his real job) was enough to cement his opinion of the man rather firmly as "delusional, narcissistic and a complete pain in the ass to deal with if around". Iemitsu had this annoying vision of a happy family and it didn't take a brain surgeon to realize he would go to great lengths to keep the vision intact, even if it meant doing far more damage than good.

Ieyasu was a typical kid, Hotaru's younger fraternal twin to be exact (he was born twenty minutes after his sister on the fifteenth) and wasn't really a bad person. Just a bit spoiled, but he still cared for his older twin.

Nana though... she had sent alarms ringing through his head the second he had processed what was going on. On the surface she seemed a good, if ditzy mother who maintained an oblivious attitude to reality.

However he had seen right through that in a few weeks of careful observation to try and figure out what had sent warning bells going off every time she was around him alone.

Nana had untreated depression, which was only exasperated by the fact her husband was gone for months, if not years at a time with limited to no contact or even a simple notice he was alive. She wasn't suicidal, thankfully, but her deliberate attempts to remain oblivious to the fact the man wasn't there against the social stigma of being a single mother raising two kids while her husband was gone for long periods of time without a decent explanation was taking a toll on her. She wasn't completely unaware of the rumors about her or her children, but she pretended not to notice and it was hurting her inside.

Ieyasu, who had no idea something was even wrong with their mother, bore a striking resemblance to their father and as such Nana doted on him as a replacement for the man. Almost to unhealthy levels, but fortunately for his concern there was no sign of Nana trying to force her son into her husband's image to a point he would have intervened directly.

It wasn't until he registered that the woman seemed to unconsciously focus more on her 'youngest' child and almost completely forgot about her daughter that he had figured out what had sent off the warning bells.

While the current status quo was being carefully maintained, it wouldn't take much for the balance to tip and Nana to focus entirely on her son and forget her daughter without even realizing it. The depression made it even easier for such a thing to occur, and Hotaru apparently had a bullying problem since she was five after Iemitsu's last visit with his "boss".

It was fortunate he had managed to figure out how to move without tripping over his...or rather 'her' feet by the time Iemitsu had returned. That had been annoying, but at least Hotaru wasn't considered the bottom of the class after summer break. He had long since mastered how to speak and read most Japanese, among other languages and it seemed luck was on his side because quite a few of the languages he had learned before had almost identical equivalents here.

By the time they were about to turn eight, Hotaru had come to realize that her mother was slowly starting to forget she even had a daughter.

Now by this point she (and he had come to a point where 'he' had accepted that they were now a girl who had the mentality of a boy) realized they had a few options available to them. Especially after accidentally summoning Hades to their side. Apparently even in death, their trusted gun never left their side. Except it seemed that the gun had gotten something of an unusual upgrade, because it no longer needed actual bullets to be lethal.

Oh she could load them into the gun, but as long as she was breathing they never actually ran out. A few experiments revealed that in place of bullets, shards of lethal ice would blast from the end of the barrel only to melt after a few minutes away from her. Oddly, it wasn't just bullets.

She could produce a variety of weapons with a little concentration and a lot of practice made out of ice. Fire, for some reason, seemed to more or less elude her...but it felt more like someone had deliberately put a block on that ability so clearly that idiot who called himself her papa had something to do with it.

However it seemed that no matter what world you were on, the criminal underground remained the same. She might have had to travel to another city for a bit to find it (it was oddly absent in Namimori...something about a demon brat that took offense to crimes and bit anyone they caught to death with tonfas of all things), but once she did she blended right in.

Her old aura of a trained killer had never fully disappeared...she had just buried it deep and tried to forget about it.

Hotaru could stay, hope that her mother pulled through and tried to have a normal life.

Considering the entire town felt positively caustic to her sanity and her intelligence with the way everyone seemed to immediately target her for reasons she could never fully explain, she nixed that idea pretty fast. It did not help that she knew far too well how easily Nana could turn against her and treat her daughter as the 'cause' of why her husband was never around or any other perceived slight, just to have a scapegoat.

Since she didn't want her mother or twin to turn on her for something that was beyond her control, she began making escape plans. So long as she had Hades, she could survive on her own with no problem at all.

Besides, it wasn't like she hadn't killed before. She had made her peace with that line of work a long time ago.

Hotaru downed her drink. Thinking about the headache of avoiding a ten year old who apparently didn't like the fact she was leaving his territory always made her want something strong. Hibari Kyouya was weirdly possessive of her for reasons she never did figure out, and took extreme offense that a 'small animal' was leaving when they weren't a legal adult.

Hibari really needed a hobby...it was a pity he was too young to get laid because he could seriously use it.

Hotaru mused to herself...it had been shortly after leaving Japan that things got, well rather annoying really.

She hadn't intended to take up her old profession as a killer-, but it was probably inevitable.

Bounty hunting was nearly impossible, as it meant being a little too close to the 'legal' side of things. Which meant well meaning but annoying adults trying to send her right back to the very situation she had left in the first place because of her age.

Being an assassin might have been doable...if it weren't for the fact that the same group her 'father' had close ties to as the External Adviser also had an elite group that sounded like a less moral version of Chronos. With her skills they would have noticed her pretty damn fast and tried to recruit her, and last she checked they weren't inclined to take 'no' for an answer. With her limited fighting ability she wouldn't have been able to avoid being drafted whether she liked it or not.

Which left the third option, since she needed a sustainable method of gaining income that wouldn't involve the authorities or giving up and going back to Namimori.

She became a hit man. Which was rather ironic, because she had gone from 'trained assassin' to 'Sweeper/bounty hunter' all the way to 'freelance hit man'.

It seemed she was forever doomed to end up with a rather bloody career that made a habit of taking green rookies and either chewing them up and spitting them out, or making the really good ones rather apathetic and cynical.

It was ridiculously comforting to go by her old name again, just without the ties that it had before or having to worry about a pissed off group of other assassins after you for wanting your freedom. She even had her old tattoo XIII on her chest again.

Black Cat was now an up and coming hit man who was very, very good and would always deliver their now signature line when delivering a death blow. No one was aware she was actually a girl and she liked it that way because it meant no one would try to use her gender against her.

There was some annoying rumors that the 'Black Cat' might very well be a contender for the spot of the "World's Greatest Hit Man", which was currently held by Reborn the Sun Arcobaleno...and previously another by the name of Renato Sinclair. The thing that annoyed her the most was the fact that people kept wondering if she was some illegitimate child of "Renato Sinclair", because he had dropped off the grid and no one was entirely sure what her own lineage was. Apparently her skills with guns was eerily similar to his own.

Sensing the presence of another, Hotaru didn't even bother to look. If they wanted to cause trouble she'd gladly oblige them.


There was only one person she had heard of that used that odd greeting. She looked down and sure enough, there was Reborn himself.

He easily got onto the stool. As this was a mafia bar, no one quibbled about his 'age'.

The two of them drank in relative silence, both relatively secure in their own skills to end a confrontation rather violently if it came to it.

It was as she ordered another drink (milk this time, which made Reborn twitch until he realized she was planning to drink it and not offer it to him) that she spoke up.

"So was it the rumors that I'm trying to steal your title or the ones that I'm supposedly some illegitimate love child of a known playboy who held it previously that brought you here?" she asked blandly.

Reborn blinked, before commenting right back "The second, really. Skills like yours don't pop up out of nowhere, and I have a vested... interest...in any children claiming to have Sinclair's bloodline."

She drank her milk.

"I know who my father is, though to be honest I wish he wasn't."

"Bad home life?" he asked.

"No, he's just an idiot who thinks that the cover story of him working in the south pole for a construction company is actually believable. The fact he didn't recognize his wife has depression and is drowning in her little fantasy world says far too much about his competence...the narcissistic bastard. I doubt he's even realized I left home after his last visit."

Considering she had kept an ear to the ground for any rumors of that sort, she could safely conclude that Iemitsu had either forgotten he had twins or believed whatever lie Nana had come up with to explain why she wasn't at the house when he visited. She certainly hadn't found any competent watchers around the place and Hibari had given her more trouble than any adults.

Reborn almost felt relieved and at the same time disappointed.

"What's your famiglia?" he asked.

"Considering my father is part of an external group, I honestly have no idea if I can claim to be part of it in the first place. Besides, I like being a freelancer more," said Hotaru easily. "And for the record, I have no idea who started that ridiculous rumor that I'm trying to take your title. I certainly never really cared about it much."

She could tell Reborn was starting to like her, if not as a friend then a possible acquaintance. It was rare to make 'friends' in their line of work and trust didn't come easily.

Seeing the little lizard on his hat, she decided to ask a question that had been bugging her for a while.

"How exactly do you pull off a Chaos Shot? Is it your little chameleon or some weird energy blast?" she asked curiously.

Reborn smirked.

"Trade secret."

Hotaru, in a rare fit of childish behavior, stuck her tongue out at him. Reborn looked openly amused by it.

They were about to finish their drinks when some cocky moron came in and attempted to kill Reborn...only to end up knocked out by a rather fast blow by an annoyed Hotaru.

"I could have handled that," commented Reborn.

"I know, but he interrupted the first decent conversation I've had in months with someone that's actually intelligent and not trying to drag me into some famiglia or another," commented Hotaru. She made a face. "If I have to deal with one more Sky trying to lure me in I'm going to start knee-capping the lot of them. Maybe then they'll take the damn hint I'm not interested."

Reborn actually laughed at that. He could relate.

Still he was somewhat relieved (and a little disappointed) when the cup he swiped to do a DNA test against came up negative. At least he had dispelled that particular rumor of having a child...not that it was possible, considering the Black Cat was far too young to be a direct descendant, unless he they were his grandkid or something.