Such a darling child.
Gifted with a beautiful name that translated lovingly into 'lucky rope', an irrevocable testament of the deep love his parents shared and a permanent reminder that he was wanted, he was a child conceived in love; his parents little miracle child that came into the world on the eve of the 14th October 1990.
Growing up he was a happy and bright little boy, even though he was a bit clumsy and naïve. His wonderful mother, a kind and resilient young woman, brought him up to be a sweet and loving boy. She devoted herself completely to raising her beloved son and making him forget that his father and her husband shined with well-learned absence in their lives. It wasn't easy, in fact it was far from it, but she did her absolute best as a presumed single mother, and her darling little boy only loved her so much more for it.
She was the centre of his world.
If the future that once upon a time was intended to happen would have held true, then Tsuna would have been bullied terribly for his perpetually bad grades, his unmistakeable girlish looks and absolute lack of any athletic ability besides regularly stumbling over his own two feet. In school he would have been shamed cruelly with the dreaded moniker 'no good' and systematically verbally abused until he became devoid of any kind of motivation, resigning himself into the role of a loser with no aspiration to his own in life, because clearly, someone as hopeless and worthless as him could never do anything right or amount to anything but the most demeaning job should he get lucky, if even that.
In his first year attending Namimori Middle School, Reborn, the Greatest Hitman alive, also known as the Sun Guardian of the cursed Arcobalenos, would have arrived at their little suburban home under the ruse of tutoring him with the intention to pick up his grades and prepare him for the future while in reality he had the mission to make him into a respectable Mafioso. But not any ordinary Mafioso, oh no, Tsuna would have the more than dubious and ungrateful honour of being trained as a Mafia Don, trained to become Vongola Decimo, the Tenth Boss of the prestigious Vongola Famiglia, the Mafia World's strongest Famiglia, effectively underworld royalty, to be exact.
None cared for the fictional wishes, dreams or hopes of a civilian child. He was a tool to achieve their objectives. The boy himself didn't matter.
… he never mattered.
Tsuna would have quite disturbingly found out that the three eldest sons of Nono, the Ninth Vongola Boss and a man he recalled only vague memories of meeting and calling grandpa, had been mercilessly murdered, and he himself, thanks to his absentee father's high position within the Famiglia and his thrice-damned paternal bloodline, was now the last eligible and living heir to the position of Mafia Boss. The last option. The hidden spare. The truly desperate means of an old man and a careless father to keep their Famiglia on top of the game, no matter who they destroyed on their way to that goal. What did it matter if they annihilated the innocence and future of a young boy that was family? In that future, a Tsuna burdened with terrible purpose would have quickly if reluctantly gained true friends and strong, partially unwilling guardians along the way, while proving himself in ways no one ever imagined him capable of, living through the bloodying Ring Battles against the murderous Varia arguably victoriously, stopping the perilous fate of devastation the Millefoire Famiglia would have unleashed upon the world; drowning in tears of relief, his resolve unbreakable and the revulsion he felt for himself and the acts he was forced to accomplish suffocating him in a cruel life that had in just a few months became a hellish nightmare of guilt and despair, the blood and suffering of others staining his shaking hands red. He would have summarily cleaned the sin of Vongola's name in the damned Daemon Spade Debacle while befriending the tricked Shimon's and finally ingeniously breaking the Arcobaleno curse in the last moments of the feared Rainbow Representative Battles after completely defeating Bermuda von Veckenstein, the immortal head of the Vindice.
At age 24 Tsuna would have resentfully succeeded Nono as Decimo, moving to Italy and marrying his school crush and girlfriend of three years, Sasagawa Kyoko. He would have been known throughout the underworld as a benevolent, kind and protective Don. He would have become 'Il Saint di Cielo.'
He would have been an empty sacrifice.
One more child lost.
If the future, no matter how imperfect, would have held true …
Sadly … it didn't.
Sawada Nana died.
An assassin send by a low-level Famiglia targeting the family of the Young lion of Vongola had caught wind of sensitive information pertaining to their location and killed her in cold blood, a move conceived to destabilize the Head of Vongola's Consulenza Esterna Della Famiglia.
Her young son was in 3rd Grade of Elementary School.
Said Young Lion, Sawada Iemitsu, neglectful father of one and absentee husband of another, mistakenly ignored his son's phone calls, never bothering to return a call to the unfamiliar number hounding his private mobile phone and as such stayed completely clueless in his ignorant negligence, never aware of his own young wife's demise or his only son being half-orphaned and taken into foster care, at least not until he needed to use his grown-up civilian son as a last resort to take up the mantle of Vongola Decimo.
Unknowing of exactly how his sudden intervention would be taken.
Enrico, Massimo and Federico di Vongola lived years longer, dying shortly and quickly before Tsunayoshi's 24th birthday in a matter of months between their deaths, giving their unknown little cousin accidentally not only a few more years of blissful ignorance in regards to his own blood-stained sinful bloodline, but also gifting him with the beautiful opportunity to stretch his finally breathtakingly grow-up wings and learn to fly in the open sky.
Free and limitless.
But still, no matter how ridiculously small the flutter of this butterflies wings were, they irrevocably altered not only the future of a young humble man born with sky flames so potent and pure his harmony factor blossomed like a firework in the night sky, a breathtaking sphere of colourful sparks staying eternally on the wide and compassionate firmament, welcoming the elements they drew in; this three changes stirred up and shifted the fates of everyone who would have been touched by this benevolently loving sky during his teenager years.
Some alterations were for the best, some were worse. Only one thing held true.
No matter which time, space or circumstance, he was their sky.
The first and most cruel change broke Sawada Tsunayoshi. It broke his heart and mind and drowned him in tears of pain and screams of desperation, of soul-wrenching denial and shattered purpose.
It was the day a little boy's world fell apart.
It was … just a normal day.
Indeed, at the beginning, it was just another normal day. Waking up late, having a delicious hurried breakfast with his smiling Kaa-chan, giving his giggling mother a bashful kiss as she smoothed his hair futilely down, running half-heartedly to school, arriving late as always, being moderately bitten to death by an irritated Hibari-san, as usually enduring being embarrassed and mocked in class, beaten bloody by his bullies and finally going longingly home to Kaa-chan, nothing but the simple wish to fall in her warm arms and smell her sweet lily perfume on his mind.
Just another normal day.
Until coming home.
Coming home to blood … red red red red red blood … dripping slippery red blood … blood painting the light-yellow kitchen walls … coating the light wooden floor … dripping down the ceiling … covering his …
That … was … Kaa-chan's … blood?
Coming home to … his own purgatory … to Kaa-chan's dead and broken body, stumbling brokenly to her, numb, his mind and heart screeching painfully that this was a nightmare, while despair and fear already clawed at his shattering soul … trying so hard to wake her up …
Trying so desperately to wake her up …
… make her breath, make her heart beat …
… but nothing … nothing worked, nothing … woke her up.
Icy. Motionless. Silent.
She was so so cold, so horrifyingly cold and terribly limb … and the blood was … c-cooling … cooling and still soaking his pale trembling little hands … slowly darkening and drying … hands that frantically touched his mother's icy skin, touched her lifeless hands and cried distraughtly when they found no pulse, no breath, nothing … no sign of life … there was … only … nothing.
There was nothing.
… and the little boy curled into her side, his trembling little hands buried in her stained blouse, sobbing silently, trying to at least warm his Kaa-chan up so she wouldn't feel the cold so much and show her that she wasn't alone, that … that he was there and she could come back to him.
But … it didn't help.
She stayed cold and asleep, so so cold and asleep,
… Kaa-chan …
He just stayed laying there, burrowed into his mother's side. And just as the blood pooling around them had left her body and taken her lively bubbly spirit with it, so were the silent tears that left her shell-shocked and denying son's eyes stealing the happiness and brightness of the tiny child, leaving behind nothing but chills of denial and despair. The darker the cooling blood turned, the more light and hope left those beautiful eyes, paling into emptiness as the sweet and cheerful son who adored his beloved mother like she was the sun, the moon and the stars themselves, lost himself in the overflowing sea of emotional pain shattering his world. With each tear he choked a little more, held a little tighter to her cold limb hands.
Broke a little more …
All he wanted was for his Kaa-chan to wake up!
… just wake up.
In the end, he cried himself to exhaustion.
That was how long it took until the dead mother and her unresponsive child were found.
They were discovered by none other than Hibari Kyouya, the demon child of Namimori, himself. Infuriated by what the older boy thought was the skipping of a younger pupil; he investigated and walked into a veritable slaughter scene. Making sure that at least the Little Animal was still breathing even though he saw only too well that any help for the older Herbivore would be too late, he called the police and stayed as a silent vigil until they and the ambulance arrived at the little family home.
They were his Herbivores! No one but him was allowed to bit them to death!
Anger at the horror that had happened in his territory cursed through Kyouya's veins, and when the police came at least he remained silently with the Little Animal, driving within the ambulance to the hospital; his sharp glare and thunderous scowl enough to cow anyone standing in his way. He lingered in the Hospital, sitting silently and watchful at the Little Animals bedside. The more time went by the more he gritted his teeth, his hands gripping his tonfas' painfully and his bloodthirstiness rose to new highs, demanding heatedly for vengeance, for retribution, for revenge. No one had the right to intrude on his territory and damage his herd. And no one could mistake Namimori's population for anything but the Hibari heir's herd and responsibility, the good and the bad alike.
This was unacceptable.
The Little Animal didn't speak, didn't flinch or look at anyone. A mere shadow, apathetic since he had been admitted, that neither ate nor drunk of his own accord, barely kept from wasting away trough the necessary fluids and nourishment the intravenous means provided the pale child.
The Little Animal stayed like that for a long long time.
One turned to two, becoming three and crawling into four before five took over and slowly changed into six quickly advancing to seven.
And then, nearly eight weeks after admittance, it whispered to Kyouya.
" Hibari-san … will Kaa-chan wake up …?"
Kyouya was a proven and proud Carnivore. He had no reason or inclination to feel anything but disgust and annoyance for herbivores as a whole. There was no logical explanation as to why he should deign to answer the little one.
But he did.
Not because he had to, no. Not even out of some false sense of pity or compassion, very strange and herbivorous concepts that they were and which comprehension still managed to trouble the young carnivore. No. Kyouya couldn't really explain it satisfactorily to himself. Maybe he did it because the Little Animal was already broken and he hated seeing broken Little Animals; as low in the natural order as they were, they were still above Herbivores.
Maybe. He did reason with himself that there was no need to trample cruelly on the jagged pieces of a broken child; he was a carnivore, not a mindless monster.
" She won't."
It was said curtly.
His white-knuckled grip tightened, nails splitting the skin of his hand balms.
Hibari Kyouya, despite being a carnivore, decided then and there, stoically listening to the quiet sobs of the Little Animal he had begun to consider as a very important part of his personal and not just territorial herd during the last weeks in which he stood guard over the younger one, that he would take care of it. He would make sure that no more tears had reason to escape those big brown doe eyes.
No one would ever again break what was his.
And Sawada Tsunayoshi …
… was HIS Little Animal.
The second change gave Tsuna purpose … and took away his faith.
It was this change that installed in Sawada Tsunayoshi the resolve and clarity needed to heal and move forward, never looking back, never regretting, never hesitating, never doubting. A heart of wisdom, not of weariness.
Sawada Iemitsu was a Family Man.
Per se that was an admirable trait, something to be respected and even envied.
The complication, sadly, lied in the fact that Family was not exactly family.
He was a man held in high esteem by his superiors, co-workers and underlings alike. He, as the External Advisor and a blood heir of Vongola Primo, led the CEDEF, the Consulenza Esterna Della Famiglia, with an iron fist and undisputed devotion, spending just as much time doing the evil but necessary paperwork as he spent fighting at the front lines among the men and women who trusted him with their lives.
No one ever had any reason to doubt his love and care for his family. The boisterous man always bubbled on cheerily about his lovely wife and his dear sweet Tuna-fishy, his beloved son and heir. Even the blind and deaf could not reasonably imply that he didn't love his family; the love for them sung within his Deathparation Flame. He loved them.
Just not enough. Never enough.
Because when it mattered the most …
… he simply loved his Family, his Famiglia, that crucial little bit more.
It was thanks to this passion and devotion to his Famiglia, thanks to his unwavering faith into the members of his Family, that he made one horrifying mistake that cost him his own little family. To be honest, it wasn't merely the one noteworthy mistake, another played into it just as much.
They would cost him in the most painful ways.
Firstly, and wasn't that such a mocking shame, he never even stopped to notice that the little negligent clues, the excited comments and irritating rants about his family and their daily life gave not only away vital hints as to their identity but also their location, one he didn't protect because he believed no one capable of piercing together the truth, and those that were near enough to attempt it with marginal success were trusted implicitly. Whoever would actually believe that the External Advisor had family in the quiet little town of Namimori somewhere in nowhere?
It was this kind of careless Hubris he would pay for with the death of his beloved and cherished wife.
The second unforgivable mistake? He ignored the calls from home, calls from a number that shouldn't be able to get through to his own phone, citing that now, at that time, in the aftermath of Xanxus Coup D'état, the Famiglia needed him more than ever and without distractions eliciting mistakes on his part. Certainly more than his comfortable and cosy family of two needed him, safe and sound as he had left them in Namimori.
This wretched mistake, he would pay for with the light-hearted childhood, innocence and faithful love of his own child.
A relationship that was doomed, a bound of father and son he could have saved, could have repaired … if he wasn't such a … Family Man.
But there were just some kind of mistakes you don't recognize quickly enough to salvage the ruins from. Some mistakes bear consequences too deep-seated to ever recover from them. No matter how much we wish with all our heart and soul that it could be different. Every action bears reactions, and every decision is followed by consequences.
His mistakes, the Young Lion of Vongola would learn, could not be undone, and because of that, he would never be able to atone for them.
Mistakes he would not be aware of until sixteen years later.
Was it bliss? Maybe. Was it irresponsible? Yes. But as esteemed as Iemitsu was by his colleagues, he was not a good husband, and he was even worse as a father. He continued to ignore calls, forgetting to return them. He commanded excuses to stay away, setting himself up for a failure even greater than he could possible guess.
His kind of bliss universally carried the name ignorance.
He called it normalcy.
Years later, he would beg. He would plead. Years later … would be too late.
But for now, he eased his conscience with the blindly faithful assurance that his dear Nana and their sweet Tuna-fishy would understand.
They always understood.
Understanding it, Sawada Tsunayoshi did indeed.
He understood only too well.
He understood losing his mother. He understood not being able to lose his father – after all, you can't lose what you never truly had to begin with.
But understanding, no matter how far and deep or to what kind of degree, always, truly always and ever, comes at a price, and he, for one, was not asked if he wanted, or was even in any way willing, to pay the fee for fates particular brand of recompense. Sure, it was expected of him, a price easily collected from him, but .. was he asked?
Not that anyone cared.
Understanding is seldom a decision we make ourselves.
At first, it hurt. It hurt terribly.
His heart was bleeding, his soul screaming in anguish.
His Kaa-chan was dead. His beloved mother, gone.
Forever. Gone. Just erased.
All he wanted was his mother's soothing voice. A balm for his drowning soul.
He woke up to a reality that lacked it.
He woke up to a world coloured in grey.
At the beginning, Tsuna sat beside the telephone.
Day for Day.
Faithfully waiting for his Tou-san, a man he hadn't seen since he was four, to call back.
His fingers twitched, begging to dial the nowadays very familiar number, but he managed to barely reign himself in. He didn't want to inconvenience his Tou-san by calling every second of every day, didn't want the unfamiliar man to be angry with him for being penetrant and disrupting and making a nuisance of himself; he knew that Tou-san had important work to do, Kaa-chan had always told him how diligently Tou-san took care of them and he … he didn't want the only parent he had left to be furious with him. Because, maybe, if Tou-san saw that the calls didn't stop but that Tsuna was willing to be patient and not annoy his father and that he would be easy to take care of, maybe he would eventually call back, even … even if it was out of annoyance, and to ask what the hell was going on. Maybe … Tsuna could be patient. He needed to be patient. All he had to do was exercise patience and give his Tou-san time to call back.
He continued waiting.
His patience lasted longer than he thought himself capable of.
Six months, to be exact.
It took honest to kami six months for Tsuna to come to terms with the frightful and disillusioned realization that no one, least of all his own bloody father, cared for him. The only one who had ever been there, his beloved caring mother, the sun of his whole universe, was gone, and no one was concerned now, neither for her nor him. She was truly the only one who was always there, who loved him unconditionally. But …
Gone is gone.
He was alone in a world that was cold, unforgiving and cared nothing for a little boy whose mother died and father was so far away and shamefully disinterested that he didn't even call back to acknowledge his wife's death. And being alone ... was lonely. It was lonely and depressing.
The months after his mother's death were slow going, and he truly believed that his world should just stop to spin, stop to continue and let him fall into oblivion. But even in this darkness, the tiny boy found the smallest of lights.
His faith in adults, in parents had been broken, but …
Now … now there was one last unexpected person who took care of him. Someone who was there even when Tsuna was nothing but a desolate shadow, drifting a flow. He didn't know if he could depend on that one, but …
… but the other cared, took the time to hold him and reassure Tsuna in that familiar becoming cold brisk manner of his that Tsuna had come to know so well. The one person who took him in, who bitingly commanded their parent's lawyers to take care of Tsuna's mother's funeral and everything else. The person who held him when he cried in grief and vomited in horror at the blood-tainted memories assaulting him, helped him study despite Tsuna's difficulties so he wouldn't fall behind more and even catch up to the rest of the class, diligently chasing away Tsuna's nightmares whenever the tiny brunette dared to crawl into the older boy's bed and who took exception to the bullies who made fun of Tsuna, biting them remorselessly to death. The one person who gave him shelter, food, clothing and protection.
Who gave him time.
Who gave him a home.
Who gave him someone to have faith in.
Tsuna looked at him, from under his eye lashes, and had anyone looked at this moment, they would have been speechless, seeing bright orange eyes, steady and strong, gleaming with an inner fire so hot and unmovable that even the pain of losing the centre of his world only drives him to greater heights, heights never entertained before. Heights he would not give up.
He finally had found his resolve.
He would thank Hibari-san. He would make sure that he was worthy of Hibari-san.
Tsuna would learn, train, and study. He would make the best out of himself that he could and help Hibari-san in any way that his saviour and protector would allow.
He knew that he would never be a carnivore, no, but he was determined to become a worthwhile omnivore, so that Hibari-san would be proud of his little animal and never regret taking Tsuna in.
It was his resolve.
And it was burning strongly.
The third deviation remade the fate of all those that were touched by the benevolent sky in a future that never happened. Strangely enough, those that should have been, but never were, touched by the wide bright sky in his teenager years, nevertheless found him on their own and discovered their very own part in his wonderful accepting heart.
Sooner or later, that is.
The sky will never be unclaimed.
The elements will always find their sky.
They will forever belong. A home for all.
No need to hurry.
All it took was time. And wasn't that just ironic, in a time-line that wasn't ever meant to deviate like that?
Time was a strange concept, and an even stranger reality to face. Everyone's perception tinted it differently. But time happens to everyone. And happening, it did.
Through the prolonged and prosperous life of the three oldest Vongola brothers, the lives of dozen others were irrevocably changed. Three lives that so often would have went unmentioned in a future that never came true, proved to be a vital turning point, their continuance so much longer than fate had originally dictated, and as such, they manage to accomplish more, had their own objectives, motives and approaches inherently different to those the 'Il Saint di Cielo' would have employed and held dear. They touched different people, and influenced them in other ways.
Differing, but neither better nor worse. Just a matter of perspective.
But what didn't change was the simple fact that they were skies, and that they embraced the elements around them while establishing themselves as leaders, no matter how weak or strong their flames were. They brought their father such fierce joy with every breath they took, and it was their smiles and laughter that warmed the old man's burdened heart and soul. They were there for their misguided little brother in the aftermath of his failed Coup D'état, as it became public exactly why the troubled youth had flipped his shit and seemingly betrayed them all; a misconception, as it turned, seeing as the whole Cradle Incident was nothing more than a teenager in emotional pain giving his adoptive father just that little bit more than the middle finger. They reigned in the Vongola, first in response to the Varia and then, just a few years later, when the troubles with the newly-formed Millefoire escalated, and they were forced to apprehend Byakuran before he could become too much of a problem for everyone.
The brothers were skies, and acted like it. Each of the three had their own set of complete guardians, of loyal friends who were completely faithful to them. They had their own moral code and motivations, keeping to the foundation their parents gave them and building up on it through experience and observations. They just weren't quite as merciful and all-accepting as Tsunayoshi would have proven to be.
Mafia-breed and Mafia-raised. That's self-explaining enough.
Regretfully enough, that was exactly what killed them in short order in 2014.
The first victim was Enrico, the oldest brother, who was shot down in a minor scuffle with an unimportant enemy Famiglia. Then Massimo, the middle brother, who was drowned in the sea, cement blocks on his feet, a cliché way to go for any Mafioso. And lastly was Federico, the youngest brother, who could terribly enough only be identified through the DNA of his bones and his dental records, the evidence of horrifyingly strong Storm flames a bitter explanation of how he came to be reduced to nothing more than a dusty pile of bones and ash, left behind to rot.
The mercy of ten more years in this world – for some blessing, for some curse.
But nevertheless, time does happen.
And it happened to everyone differently.
The Shimon Famiglia's descendants didn't discover their rings through a lucky earth slide. The earthquake, which exposed their rings, was originally caused through the Arcobaleno sending back the Vongola Tenth Generation after their fight in the future. This fight, without Sawada Tsunayoshi being forced into the role as Vongola Decimo, didn't happen, so neither did the earthquake. Consequently, the truth wasn't discovered at that time.
Enma Kozato and his guardians still reformed their ancestors Famiglia and recognized themselves as Shimon's after Enma found a book on his ancestry in the aftermath of his family's violent murder. They never found out the truth about the Dying Will Flames of the Earth, and as such were only a minor Famiglia, unknowing of how they once were the loyal allies of the Vongola Famiglia. Without the rings, Demon Spade was unable to whisper into their ears and this spared them months of pain and suffering.
They simply were Family.
At least they were only that until the year 2013, until the moment the Japanese Government asked the famous Anthropologist Sawada Tsunayoshi to help identify the bones and artefacts found in an old grave side on Shimon Island. It turned out to be the four-hundred year old grave of an Italian foreigner named Shimon Cozato. The skeleton was placed into an elaborate tomb and the Anthropologist discovered a bundle of small cloths embroidered with the signet of a clam which had been crossed out by the Italian word delitto, translated to sin, stitched over it. Inside this fraying bundle were seven antique rings. Doctor Sawada researched and identified the remains as well as the artefacts embedded in the tomb and managed to locate the descendants of the Shimon Family. Knowing about the importance of family and following his own moral compass, he worked around a lot of bureaucratic red tape until he was able to meet with Enma Kozato and hand over the rings, having deemed them family heirlooms and as such privately owned.
This one meeting sparked a very strong and quickly developing friendship between two men who didn't meet as failed teenagers but as confident and steadied men.
It was a step in the right direction, and the foundation of an alliance that would solve a centuries old enmity.
The Arcobaleno on the other hand were freed of their curse shortly after Uni had a confrontation with Kawahira, the being also known as Checkerface or the man with the iron hat.
The day Uni took over as the Sky Arcobaleno, inheriting the power from her late mother, she had vision of a future that could have been but would never come to pass, and, once awake again, called Kawahira to a meeting before showing him her dream; the beautiful dream of a future that would never come to pass; a future in which they were all free. He saw the ingenious solution an alternate Sawada Tsunayoshi and Talbot came up with to free the Arcobaleno; truly a miracle. Seeing and experiencing the successful proof of Uni's plea and request himself, he acquiesced to at least trying her way and asked the old Vongola Blacksmith to recreate the Arcobaleno flame storage system, using the sketch of the frame he had seen in an unrealised future. With the grudging help of the gleeful Vindice and Vongola's Top Members, the seven Flames of Heaven were satisfyingly fed into the Arcobaleno snowflake system containers and the cursed babies were finally released of their burden, able to slowly return to their original bodies. Thankfully, with a little help from the former Lightning Arcobaleno Verde, they were able to grow up faster and instead of ten it only took them one year to reach the age they were originally cursed at; an age from which they would once more mature naturally.
Still, Uni was giddy. Frighteningly so.
And it really frightened her Family.
She waited for a long time to meet with Sawada Tsunayoshi, and nothing anyone, neither her Famiglia nor her surrogate uncles and aunts said, made her tightly closed lips twitch open and betray her carefully constructed plans. She would only look at them with a damned twinkle in her huge blue eyes and tell them that one day soon they would meet and come to love their true saviour.
It was an annoying trait of the female Giglio Nero Donnas.
The Varia, Vongola's External Assassination Squad, stayed as bloodthirsty as ever.
But Xanxus, their boss, was luckily unfrozen just a year after his failed Coup D'état.
The fact that his brothers lived changed everything for the violent teenager.
It was them that infuriatingly demanded his release, and they were also the ones that, one night in secret, gathered seven flame users of high purity and stole their father's and his guardians Vongola rings, using that power to release their brother themselves. It was a betrayed and wrathful littlest brother that was broken free, scared on skin and soul. They did not expect him behave shy or timid, and it was actually sweet relief to hear Xanxus rage against them, cursing and crying, his voice breaking in pain and anger, his flames so full of wrath it was nearly heart-wrenching to witness, but his three older brothers were nothing if not tenacious and would not be deterred; if he could still threw a tantrum, than he was still their brother. As long as Xanxus was still there, he could heal. It was all that mattered to them. And it was with this resolute mind-set that they stubbornly unleashed unconditional assurance of love and family as well as the persistence of three highly determined older brothers upon him, thick-headedly trying to get him to forgive at least them.
Which he did, foul-tempered.
All the reunion brought about was Xanxus deepening devotion to three quarters of his family and the Varia, the group he now led. As determined as he was in protecting Vongola, even fiercer burned his flames while he spearheaded the Varia as their Sky Guardian and Boss.
Even though he still gave his old man the cold shoulder.
The fool deserved it.
And though disaster and tragedy struck, it was indeed thanks to his brothers that he didn't fall back into a mindless rage upon their deaths, forced losing one after another, while Xanxus was powerless and terrified. It was Federico, sweet honest Federico, the brother to live the longest and survive the older ones by a few months, who made Xanxus promise to protect their little cousin from Primo's direct line, the last eligible heir, should anything happen to him. Who made Xanxus promise to love and guide Tsunayoshi as his nephew and show him not only the ropes but the definition of Famiglia.
A promise that would be one of the best he ever made.
And the hardest to keep.
Sawada Iemitsu stayed as the External Advisor of Vongola and trained his successor, a young orphaned Boy named Basil. He never came home to his cosy little family of two, hadn't seen his own son and wife since the small child was four, nearly five years old. Staying blissfully ignorant of his wife's uncalled violent demise and son's earlier desperate plight; he continued his own life and did what he had to do for the Family, secure and eased in the knowledge that he had everything under tight control.
Maybe he should have called home, maybe he should have been curious and interested in the life of his family and just that little bit worried that an unfamiliar number was calling his private line. Maybe he could have influenced the flow of history … just a bit more in his favour.
Because, you know, curiosity killed the cat …
… but satisfaction brought it back.
Basil, as chosen successor of the CEDEF Boss, became way too much like his master in all the wrong ways.
He looked up to Iemitsu as a mentor and father, normally a wonderful fact. For an orphan to find someone who cared for him and treated him like family, maybe even loved him, was a wish come true. One the child of a mafia member seldom dared to dream of.
The only down side was that he lost his innocence so early. He fought savagely on the front lines at his master's side, maiming and spying and killing, soaking up knowledge theoretically and practically; he saw the dirt and sins of Vongola and the darkest sides of the Mafia. It was the External Advisor who looked over Vongola from afar and exterminated all danger to the Famiglia while keeping its best interests in mind, unobstructed by personal attachment. It was a job that one could only work in for so long before becoming disillusioned or fleeing into romantic and delusional fantasies, a coping mechanism to avoid insanity and nervous breakdowns. It said a lot about the dedication Basil felt that even after cold-blooded murder and gruesome torture, he never strayed from his path and still displayed tremendous loyalty to Iemitsu.
It would only be years later, when the legitimate sons of the Ninth had been killed off and his masters own unprepared son was sadly needed to take up the mantle of succession as Vongola Decimo, that Basil would meet a true sky.
An all-encompassing sky.
They would meet on a day that will scratch the image of his perfect master with a brutality that would leave hideous scars deeper than anything he had known or feared before. But in his own pain and redefinition of all he had come to hold up as untouchable and true, as untouchable and simple existing, not everything that changed would be bad, and not everything that reformed would be completely good.
It would be in the one who marred the image of his surrogate father, the one who could but denied to call that grand man his blood father, that he would find true salvation, that he would find acceptance and the purest personification of a sky to walk this earth in centuries.
Sadly, knowledge, no matter which kind, never comes without a price. Basil would neither be the first nor the last to learn that painful lesson.
Blissful ignorance to his master's shortcomings would be Basil's price to pay.
And no one will ask him if the price is worth the knowledge.
Life isn't fair.
Dino Cavallone learned this lesson the hard way. He learned it during his tutoring/torturing at the hands of the former Sun Arcobaleno Reborn in his miserable youth; he learned it crawling, half-dead, through the blood and entrails of his own men, dozens upon dozens killed in a malicious ambush staged by the Millefoire Famiglia in his own home, months before the three Vongola brothers brought Byakuran down. It was a burdened knowledge he could have done without, a knowledge he was neither ready nor willing to pay the price for; nothing was worth the lives of over a fifth of his Family members, nothing, absolutely nothing was worth the terrible price of even one life wasted.
It was during the time spent mourning, a time in which he was just too taken by grief to even contemplate celebrating Byakuran's defeat, that he first met a young brunette boy who would become the little brother he was never gifted with, his calm and honest anchor in a world cruel enough to take he lives of good and loving men. He never thought he would meet someone as preciously pure-hearted as his Tsu-chan, but in Rome, he did. In Rome, he found salvation. The moment he laid his upon the young ethereal boy fort the first time, those doe-brown eyes blinking up at him from the ground he had fallen to when Dino had stumbled and thrown a complete stranger down to the ground with him, he knew that he had found someone precious, someone who would settle deep, unforgiving and unmovable in his heart. One look into those beautiful eyes, one second to take in that forgiving amused smile and he was gone.
He was right.
One unconventional chance accident resulted in a sibling-bond treasured by the both of them, the man who had lost not only his father but so many others to mindless death and the young teenager who had lost his mother to death and his father to work-induced negligence. It would be years after their first meeting in Rome that Dino would be made aware, in his function as Cavallone Don, that his adopted little brother was to become the Vongola Decimo. And it would be the first time that he fell out of his chair while laughed wholeheartedly at the herculean task his former mentor and the whole of Vongola had set themselves in their amusing ignorance of their target's mentality and lifestyle.
His entertainment would last for years to come, watching the elite make fools of themselves, running after an heir so elusive it was insanity.
Poor, poor deluded sods, the Vongola turned out to be.
Fuuta de la Stella run away from his gilded cage and found his heaven in Sawada Tsunayoshi.
It was madness. Running away only to seek sanctuary under a civilian's protection. But he didn't do it because of Tsuna's at that time non-existing status as would-be Decimo, or because he couldn't say no to a child. In the end, he did because of one simple ranking:
#1 Person in the Mafia (not inducted) to nurture and love a child without question: Sawada Tsunayoshi.
Thanks to that particular ranking a hope Fuuta had nearly given up on rekindled, and he escaped to the quiet sleepy town of Namimori and subsequently into Tsunayoshi's welcoming arms. His escape to Namimori was a dangerous undertaking and, while searching for Tsunayoshi, he was caught by Mafiosi willing to forcefully take him for want of his unparalleled ranking ability. He was saved by Hibari Kyouya, who took the shaking soaking child home to his Tsunayoshi. Tsuna, after hearing Fuuta's harrowing tale and a following rather one-sided discussion with Kyouya, decided to take Fuuta in.
This was the beginning of a wonderful warm life for the little ranking prince. Fuuta flourished underneath Tsuna's loving words and tender hands as well as Kyouya's stern and brisk but strangely caring guidance. Even as the time came for Tuna to head to University overseas, he accompanied his Tsuna-nii.
It may not have been for the reason Fuuta would have sought out Tsuna in the original timeline that had become already obsolete then, but nevertheless, the child without a family once again found a home and caring brother in his accepting sky.
A family of his own choosing.
Sometimes, the best kind of family.
I-pin was taken away by Fon the moment the Arcobaleno curse was lifted.
Fon, having regained his body and flames, was never forced by the triads to train I-Pin as a child assassin or send her on suicide missions; he saved her life and happiness.
She still trained in martial arts and she loved learning everything that tiny little thing could get her hands on, but she was never forced to assassinate anyone she didn't want to. Living with her master and the other Arcobaleno in the Arcobaleno mansion as a normal girl was more than she could ever have hoped for. She never connected with a sky or another guardian, but it didn't matter. Some things were simply not meant to be. Master Fon was her whole world.
In the end, the wait would be worth it, because while she didn't nearly kill Tsuna on an ill-fated mistaken assassination mission, she was always meant to know her Tsuna-nii.
And she would.
Someday, she would come home.
To her sky.
To her Tsuna-nii.
Bianchi never needed to search for Reborn.
Instead of trying to save him from the 'cruel' claws of a needy Vongola Decimo, she decided to follow Reborn's advice and became employed by Vongola. A sure-fire way to stay near him while he tutored/tortured the three older Vongola brothers. As such, she never got the chance to become closer with Gokudera Hayato as more than a passing acquaintance, their bond nearly completely severed.
She didn't get the chance to reconcile with her beloved little brother.
Sadly, she didn't even know that she missed her one true chance
The work was satisfying and challenging, and she loved the nights spent in Reborn's bed. It was what made her happy with her often dark life; the fact that Reborn had regained his true body and enjoyed the physical pleasure of flesh with her.
Life for Bianchi was indeed good.
Sasagawa Kyoko, Kurokawa Hana and Miura Haru never really got to know Tsunayoshi Sawada.
In Elementary School, he was that strange bullied child. Clumsy, dumb. That is, until his mother was killed. The news of the gruesome murder of a single mother and her son's following hospitalization due to severe trauma were all over town, and not just a few residents, most notably the elder ones, felt gut-wrenching guilt over their treatment of the young woman and her only child. It was an interesting time, for children and adults alike.
After that, he became the ward of Hibari Kyouya. He became untouchable.
Kyoko and Hana never got to talk with him, neither in Middle School nor High School, and as such neither they nor Haru, who didn't even know of Tsuna due to their different schools, ever were involved in the Mafia. At least not through Tsuna.
Because in the end, neither was involved with Tsunayoshi nor did they ever got to know the remarkable person he had become.
Kyoko never got the chance to love him.
Tsuna never fell for the schools idol.
Maybe it was for the better. Maybe not.
In the end, it didn't matter.
Both found love.
Just not with each other.
Sasagawa Ryohei, the older brother of Kyoko and professional boxer, did get involved with the Mafia.
It just wasn't Tsunayoshi's fault.
No, he did get involved when he accidentally killed a Mafiosi of a Minor Famiglia during a Boxing tournament.
One blow to the head, and life as he knew it was over.
The Famiglia of the victim wanted retribution, and they were not satisfied with waiting for the juridical system to get through with it. They wanted blood, and Ryohei's head on a platter. The Vongola had gotten wind of that plan, and seeing the long-standing enmity between the two Famiglia's in question, approached Ryohei with a proposition: Work for us, train with our own and we will … terminate that problem of yours and not only protect your family, but give you the means to do so yourself.
Become part of our Family.
Thinking of his little sister, he unhesitatingly agreed.
The Vongola took care of his problem easily, holding to their promise, and he went to Italy in the aftermath, having gotten away with the boxing accident, training the recruits and working as Liaison with the Varia, hitting it off with Lussuria like a house on fire. It was quickly found out that he was a sun, his burning and over-the-top personality heavily contributed to the fact that he was constantly in Dying Will Mode. Strangely, despite that knowledge and training Ryohei in the use of his flames, the bright sun never harmonised with any of the skies he was introduced to.
It was as if he was waiting, for what, he didn't know. Maybe it wasn't a what, but whom? Possible.
Maybe, just maybe, his flames knew that their true sky would arrive one day.
Maybe they knew that he was worth waiting for.
Lambo Bovino was eight years old when he was taken in by a then thirteen year old Sawada Tsunayoshi.
School had let out and Tsuna was visiting Italy, Rome to be exact, to see the colosseum and other sites he had heard so much about. On one of his outings, a different one then the one he met Dino on during that same vacation, he found a little street rat called Lambo, a short scrawny kid proclaiming himself loudly as Lambo-sama, professional hitman and arch-enemy of Reborn, the world's greatest hitman. His antics got Tsuna interested and they talked over gelato to which Tsuna invited the little boy. During their talk Tsuna learned that Lambo was thrown out of his family and home by his father, a man who blamed Lambo for the untimely death of his wife during childbirth to their only son.
It broke Tsuna's heart.
There wasn't a snowball's chance in hell that the brunette would leave the child on the streets. No. Tsuna couldn't leave him to a desolate fate or in the claws of a system he himself had been spared becoming a part of, so he did he only thing he could and phoned Kyouya, asking if they could take Lambo in. It took a lot of begging and pleading, but eventually the stoic demon prefect of Namimori surrendered to the criminally heart-breaking voice and imploration of his deliciously manipulative Little Animal.
Lambo learned to love his adoring Tsuna-mama and his scary Kyouya-papa and his funny Fuuta-nii. He learned that bringing out the ten-years-later-bazooka without a real threat to his person present would get him grounded without candy and grapes and that his Tsuna-mama, the sun of his universe, would cry if he accidentally hurt himself while playing with the numerous weapons his old Boss gave him; and that would make Lambo feel really really bad, because he absolutely hated it when his Tsuna-mama cried, and he felt sick with guilt when Tsuna-mama cried because of him. Lambo learned that his chest would feel funny – all warm, and bright and bubbly and tingly – when his Tsuna-mama softly smiled at him, proudly, and praised him softly when he behaved well or got good grades.
He relished cuddling up to his Tsuna-mama and cherished every second they could spent together; there was nothing more beautiful in the world then when Tsuna-mama would hold him, gently brushing through his hair and telling him a story to go to sleep.
For the very first time in his life, he felt loved. He felt unconditionally loved and returned that love even more fiercely.
He would never let it go away.
Rokudo Mukuro on the other hand wasn't as lucky.
He never escaped Vendicare.
Staying imprisoned, cut off from the world except for the strange little girl he shared his mind space with, Mukuro drowned in a sea of negative emotions. Alone in a prison meant for the darkest of scum, he swore vengeance on the Mafia, on the blood-stained monsters that had failed and condemned him. And he had a long time to conduct the perfect plan.
He would burn everything that stood in his way into nothingness.
It was perfect!
… years later, after surprisingly meeting another person besides little Chrome in his mind space, after being saved on behalf of this person from Vendicare and wholeheartedly accepted by the young teenager, he would ask himself where his plan went so frustratingly wrong.
What he found was a simple answer: He never calculated on a sky like Sawada Tsunayoshi existing in the Mafia.
He never expected to willingly become a guardian to the most benevolent and bright sky in existence.
Who the fuck would?!
Dokuro Chrome, or Nagi as she was known before the crippling accident that made her parents give up on her, escaped to Italy after she graduated from High School. She became Mukuro-sama's eyes and ears. She was his voice of reason and light in a cruel and bleak world, tainted by the early exposure to the six paths of hell he had been forced to endure. She was his anchor.
It was a lonely existence, isolated from everyone, but she preserved. Until the day she met a young Brunette in the beautiful mind space she shared with her Mukuro-sama. Upon seeing him, she was deathly afraid, fearing her only safe place to be corrupted by strangers, but all the young man did was mothering her and asking in that sweet caring voice if she was eating enough and healthy? It was an alien situation, so strangely unfamiliar she still wasn't sure that it wasn't a test, a well-structured hallucination enacted by Mukuro-sama to test her Mist Flames, but slowly, ever so slowly she got used to it.
And even more slowly, she accepted that the young man truly existed … and truly cared for them.
She knew, from the moment that Mukuro-sama had opened up and shared their stories with that gentle stranger in their mind space, that the young harmless-looking man would help them, save them. The fury and wrath, the despair and pain in his eyes … on their behalf, astoundingly, was enough to shake the two Mist Users to their cores.
Their sky shed the tears they couldn't anymore.
With her heart lighter than ever before she waited patiently until their magnificent sky was ready to rescue Mukuro-sama and claim them both as his.
She knew that he could never disappoint them.
Yamamoto Takeshi. The half-orphaned son of a Sushi Chef. Baseball player and swordsman. Heir to the notoriously deadly Shigure Soen Ryu sword style of Asari Ugetsu, the First Vongola Rain Guardian.
A master in faking smiles.
Takeshi, like in the timeline that didn't come true, did nearly kill himself at the age of fourteen, and again it was Sawada Tsunayoshi who saved him, gently reminding the taller teen that even if a broken arm was a setback in baseball, he still had a father who loved him and a life full of possibilities before him. Once again, Takeshi found his saviour in a petite brunette boy. Only this time, Takeshi never found the courage to talk to the ward of Hibari Kyouya after he was saved, he just gave his quiet and studious school mate a few fleeting glances when they met in the corridors. Instead of cultivating a friendship with someone who reminded him in his darkest hour of the one person who always cared about hmm, he continued his baseball career determinedly and spent all his time playing, helping his father in their Sushi shop or learning their ancestors sword style.
But even without befriending Tsuna, the Mafia caught up with Takeshi, or to be honest, with his father. The one to kill Yamamoto Tsuyoshi was an enemy of the Vongola, who killed the single Father as an act of vengeance against the assassinations Tsuyoshi executed while working for the criminal empire as Sawada Iemitsu's partner in their younger years. The swordsman had always feared that someday, his past would come back to haunt him. It did.
Takeshi never got over the gruesome death of his father and only remaining parent. He willingly gave up his baseball carrier and joined the Vongola to avenge his father with single-minded focus. The moment he joined the Famiglia he was sent to the Varia to learn the art of the sword from Superbi Squalo, the Varia Rain Guardian and Sword Emperor, himself. Even the blind saw the truth Vongola Nono understood with one look: Yamamoto Takeshi was his father's son; he was a naturally born hitman.
The young man trained, and trained, and trained, sacrificing blood and sweat and tears like a man possessed, fuelled with the compulsive desire to get revenge; he worked himself to the bone and below until he was allowed on missions, eyes sharp and cold as he assassinated enemies of the Family and, at the age of twenty-two, finally achieved his goal.
Tears joined the blood on his face as he looked at the massacred murderers of his father, sword slack in his bloodied grip. He had avenged his father.
It gave him peace.
Days later marked the beginning of his training as a Vongola guardian, his Rain flames having been activated during the battle that completed his goal. Strangely, he could accept none of Timoteo's sons as his sky, his flames buckling at the mere mention. Whenever he tried to harmonize with one of them, his whole being would flinch back, too repulsed to continue the pursuit of the idea in earnest.
Whenever he tried to overcome his feelings, he would think of a young boy with sad but resolved doe-brown eyes. He would remember the resolve in those old looking orbs, the flicker of orange that burned like an inner light and seemed to shock Takeshi to his soul, anchoring and giving him purpose. He would fondly remember a thin pale hand desperately stretching out to him, bony fingers catching his clothes in a surprisingly strong grip and laboriously drawing his foolish body away from a deep deep edge.
He would smile.
Gokudera Hayato. The bastard son of a Minor Mafia Don, younger half-brother to the Poison Scorpion Bianchi, also known as Hurricane Hayato or Smoking Bomb for his expertise with explosives.
Ignored and Hated.
His ambition: Becoming a worthy right-hand man to a worthwhile Mafia Don.
His wish: Finding a Family who accepts him.
Hayato run away at a very young age, sickened with the lies his father told him about his birth mother and the poisonous approach they took to make him enact his most prodigious piano plays. He got himself apprenticed to Trident Shamal, a freelance hitman and Master of Illusions and Medicine, staying with him for the rest of his childhood years. It was in his early teens that he left Shamal, trying his luck at finding a Famiglia to stay.
He was thrown out, ridiculed, humiliated; wherever he went, he was greeted with mocking rejection. No one wanted a bastard child, a down-trodden ill-tempered runt, in their Family.
No one – until the Vongola came crashing into his life.
It was Federico di Vongola who literally stumbled upon a beaten Hayato and recognized the young boy for what he was – a lost Mafia Child searching for a home to call his own. The older man saw the intelligence in those green eyes and the power of determination in the child's slender muscles, poised to strike and protect themselves.
He asked Hayato join his Famiglia.
The child choked up, nodding tearfully. That was the first time the young hitman-in-training had found himself accepted.
At that time, Federico already had his guardian set completed, but Hayato nevertheless swore to protect his Family and the man he respected more than anyone else for giving him a home. He was given the best teachers to hone his natural intelligence and achieved a high position very soon through sheer stubbornness, loyalty and brilliance. Working together with Ryohei and Takeshi after his flames activated, the three of them grew powerful, capable of fighting with flames of ridiculously strong proportions and without a compatible sky in sight – all the way knowing that they would share a sky, for their flames had resonated with each other and bound them as three of a set of seven.
So they were stuck together.
Hayato was devastated when the news of Federico's death hit, and only the grieved but firm hand of Federico's Storm guardian and right-hand man stopped the young man from going on a rampage in the name of vengeance. All he had now was the hope to not disappoint Federico even in death. It was to this end, that, with gritted teeth and white-knuckled fists, he accepted to look out for Federico's little cousin, a civilian child that in the event of Federico's death would be the last eligible blood heir.
He simply couldn't forget Federico's words from that one time that Hayato had drunkenly opened up to his saviour and told him how much he longed for a sky to call his own.
They made his skin crawl.
' One day, Hayato, you will meet a sky that will embrace you just as you are, with all your insecurities and infamous temper. He will welcome you and I believe whole-heartedly that you will love him as your own. I believe in your ability to love and be loved.'
Sometimes, he hated that faith.
It was hard to not disappoint.
Reborn, or Renato Sinclair as he was called before his ill-fated involvement with the Arcobaleno, known as the greatest hitman alive, was for the longest time without affiliation, beside his grudging loyalty to the Arcobaleno.
The strongest sun floated on the horizon, no sky to claim.
That was true until the day he had the lucky fortune to meet Vongola Octavia, Daniella di Vongola.
Daniella's reign was the eventful time in which he chose to permanently affiliate himself with the Vongola and during which he started working as hitman and tutor for them. He watched as little Timoteo, Daniella's only son, grew into his role as Vongola Nono, an intelligent and strong-minded Don standing for the ideals his mother had always taught him. He watched this level-headed gently boy turned man marry a woman he sincerely adored and produce three blood heirs, three healthy energetic sons who were so deeply loved not only by the whole Famiglia but their parents especially; sons he himself held in his arms. He watched as Daniella, beautiful temperamental Daniella, one of his oldest and dearest friends, the one and only sky he had ever desired to bind himself to and harmonize with, was buried; watched as Timoteo, little Theo, had to bury not only his mother but shortly after his own wife.
Reborn stood steadfast at Timoteo's side as he adopted the obviously Vongola-blooded Xanxus despite the public outcry and gave the angry boy a home and family of his own. He trained the Cavallone heir, Dino, as a personal favour to Timoteo who tried to look out for his late friends only son, and later on, trained the three elder Vongola brothers in preparation for their ascension.
He was there for the Cradle affair, as bratty Xanxus' Coup D'état became known as, and the inevitable aftermath of accusations and discord once the truth came out. His dark eyes took in the broken family that followed in the wake of Timoteo's perfectly unstable construct of lies coming to crash down around them, going up in flames like the trust in that shattered family.
It was later, during his training of the brothers, that Uni, the granddaughter of Luce, Reborn's estranged unwilling sky and the Boss of the Arcobaleno, outwitted a timeless being called Kawahira, the same man that had once upon a time hired the Arcobaleno as the I Prescelti Sette, the strongest seven, and damned them to a life as immortal babies to begin with, into ending the Arcobaleno Curse. Freed from the shackles the curse had chained him in, he stayed with the Vongola, tutoring, working as a hitman, belonging to a Family.
Sometimes he visited the Arcobaleno mansion or checked in with Uni, but mostly he stayed in the Vongola Headquarters with Bianchi. He was there, with sinking heart and white-hot fury, as, one after another, his three latest students were buried next to their mother and grandmother. During all this, Reborn the former Sun Arcobaleno was a constant in the lives of many.
It was him who was chosen to go to Namimori, Japan, and tutor an unsuspecting Sawada Tsunayoshi, the civilian spare heir nothing but murmurs had been heard about. He read the reports of Iemitsu; reports stating how welcoming and sweet his lovely naïve Nana-chan was and how adorable shy and clumsy his useless Tuna-fishy had turned out to be. It sounded like the euphemistic report on a mentally challenged three year old, not a twenty-four year old grown up man.
It was with a bitter taste that he boarded the plane to Japan.
A very bitter taste.
Husband to Sawada Tsunayoshi.
Brother-in-law to Sawada Fuuta.
Father to Hibari-Sawada Lambo.
If someone had told Kyouya that one day, he would investigate the disappearance of one of his outer herds from school only to find the useless Little Animal wounded and the maternal herbivorous animal dead, he would have shown those micro-bacterial nothings the business end of his tonfas'. With relish.
If someone had told him that he would adopt the half-orphaned Little Animal, wounded and broken as it was, into his personal herd, he would have shown them a new meaning of hell.
If this someone would have gone as far as to insinuate to him that nearly sixteen years later, he would be happily married to HIS Little Animal, who turned out to be a surprisingly cunning and maternally protective omnivore when he liked to, he would have mercilessly bitten them to death.
Well, it was the truth.
Both, his reactions and the insinuations which had become reality.
Even now, he was sometimes stuck speechless and helplessly wanton when his manipulative little lover of nine years teased him senseless by showing that purely ruthless carnivorous side every omnivore possessed. And the Little Animal knew exactly what he did to his carnivorous husband.
Those moments always ended very satisfying for Kyouya. For Big and Not-quite-as-big Kyouya alike.
It was the best decision of his life to claim the Little Animal as HIS.
To say that it was easy would be an outright lie; no, it was the farthest thing from easy. Despite that, they pulled through, and every hurdle in their way only made them stronger. The Little Animal never once hesitated when communicating with him, even if it was soft-spoken, and, once they hit Middle School together, even acted as secretary for Kyouya's disciplinary committee. And wao, if that Little Animal didn't prove his status as omnivore and brought out its claw to play; sometimes, Kyouya had to resist pouting to himself because he was honestly not sure who his minions feared more; their boss or their secretary.
… a very very very small part of his consciousness knew the answer and Kyouya had to reluctantly agree. His tonfas' were terrifying when they bite his enemies to death, but nothing – nothing could be more traumatizing than Tsunayoshi on a paperwork rampage.
Even the demon prefect shuddered in remembrance.
The largest part of him was inordinately pleased as he watched it grow up, within his personal herd; watching it grew above and beyond its natural limitations and became just as all-encompassing and gravitating as the sky. Even later on, as Kyouya single-handedly created the foundation, Tsuna always stayed at his side.
Kyouya was seventeen and the Little Animal just shy of sixteen when his tempting omnivore confessed his love for him. It was strange, but Kyouya accepted the words and sternly told Tsuna that he didn't know if he recuperated the feelings. He watched the Little Animal after that even closer and more often than before, and he liked what he saw. An ambitious studious creature with strong maternal instincts, especially to the two younger wounded animals they had taken in. And scary as hell when its natural temper was roused … something he avoided doing.
He liked what he saw more with each passing day.
What made him fall in love, if he could call that ruthlessly possessive, overprotective and irritatingly warm feeling in his chest that, was the moment he realised that, like the sky he enjoyed watching, His Little Animal never tried to catch or chain him. He fell in love with the one being who allowed him to drift a flow and independently in its presence and never demanded, seldom even asked, things of him. His Little Animal had proven itself trustworthy and worthy of Kyouya's love.
This was how they became lovers, and, once Tsunayoshi turned twenty-one and Namimori recognized same-sex relationships, husband and husband.
Even though Kyouya insisted that he was the husband and His Little Animal the wife. A fact that, as Kyouya always enjoyed pointing out with a smirk, the other didn't even try to deny really convincingly anymore - when he even bothered to deny it, that is, which didn't happen that often at all.
The serene smile Kyouya got always promised private retribution.
He loved private retribution.
He also loved remembering one of the best memories the skylark had: The completely bewildered face of his lover as Kyouya demanded that they get married.
It was delicious.
(Not that HIS Little Animal turned lover would ever know that he demanded their joining in marriage as soon as it was legal as a sure-fire way to make sure that the bothersome herbivores and micro-bacterial nothings in his lover's vicinity once and for all saw his undeniable claim.
No one touched HIS.)
Husband to Hibari Kyouya.
Brother to Sawada Fuuta.
Mother to Hibari-Sawada Lambo.
Strangely enough, it was Kyouya who asked for his hand. Well, more demanded it. One would think that Tsuna, the more openly emotional of the two would take the first step into married life.
If there was one thing that Tsuna was always aware of, then it would be the fact that no one could cage a skylark, because skylarks just like the clouds in the sky were always adrift, and to chain such a free and beautiful being was a hideous crime against nature that not even hell could punish satisfyingly enough. Purgatory was too good for those kinds of sinners.
He never even could contemplate the idea.
And he didn't.
Tsuna confessed his love to Kyouya purely because he didn't want to live with the regret of 'what if'. But after his confession, life went on.
He never once pressed the one person that always cared for him, didn't haunt or cling to him; he simply let the skylark be.
Free. Independent. Uncatchable.
And somehow, Kyouya decided that they were a couple, lovers, to be exact. Tsuna certainly didn't complain. He most certainly didn't complain when years later Kyouya demanded that they marry a week after Tsuna's twenty-first birthday. Honestly, he laughed at a poor woman in the market that asked him how in heavens name he could stand someone as unromantic and emotionally stunted as Kyouya.
Really, now. What a foolish question.
If he had wanted romantic nonsense non-stop, he would have done his damnest not to fall in love with the most notorious Hibari instead of confessing. Silly woman. The fact that most of the time Kyouya couldn't see romantic even when it bit him in the arse with his own tonfas' only made the rare moments he was, mostly even unintentionally, romantic, merely more precious and charming. It was one those things he couldn't help but love about his stubborn skylark.
Such and endearing trait.
Not that Kyouya actually needed to endear himself to Tsuna.
Tsuna still remembered painfully clearly how broken he was after his mother's death and his father's careless abandonment. It was a feeling so hopeless he could never forget. Just as he would never forget who cared for him in his darkest hour, being the only light in a cruel world. At first, he was deathly afraid that his blossoming feelings were too heavily tinted by the gratitude and respect he felt for Kyouya to be actually sincere, but that fear was easily alleviated. He loved Kyouya, but he was neither blind to the older man's faults nor did he romanize their lives as his own mother had so desperately done.
He simply loved with all his heart.
And maybe, just maybe, he fell that little bit more in love with the hard disciplinary demon prefect of Namimori after the cold man allowed him to keep Fuuta and Lambo, showing a side of himself that he had only caught the barest glimpses of. Just maybe … Tsuna had the very real suspicion that this 'maybe' tended to be spelled 'certainly'.
Just … maybe, you know.
No. There were too many reasons to love Kyouya for it to be anything but true.
He loved the stubbornly stoic man with all his heart.
Gratitude, flaws and lovable traits all wrapped in one very appealing and adorable ball of prickly skylark.
Naturally, Tsuna knew that a great deal of whom he became was thanks to Kyouya, to the resolution and drive his lover had unknowingly given him nearly sixteen years ago,
It was certainly thanks to this resolution that he became studious enough to catch up to Kyouya's grade, once his lover hit Namimori Middle, and was admitted early entrance. He worked himself literally sick catching up, academically-wise, to people two years his seniors. Still, he continued. He preserved.
He was more than his tragic background, and he was more than people allowed him to be.
And he fought for every last piece of who he was today.
… and if he at first did it just to not be separated from Kyouya, no one said a word.
It wasn't necessary. Whilst Tsuna had never been the most high-reaching, and his first goal all that years ago when he had found his resolve was merely to do the best he could as a thank you, he even astounded himself by changing during his first year of Middle School. He found his call, puzzling enough, while watching documentation about the exploration of Tutankhamun's grave side. The scientific side caught his fancy.
Later, when Kyouya amusedly asked why he wanted to study anthropology, he would only grin mischievously and tell him that Tutankhamun had spoken to him from the beyond.
Tsuna proved himself resolute in his academically pursuit and graduated High School at sixteen, together with Kyouya, to the stunned surprise of everyone who had known him as a child.
Kyouya went on to immediately create the foundation, an organisation dedicated first and foremost to keeping the peace of Namimori, but not limited to that particular goal. He also took online-courses to get his College degree in Business management, unwilling and unmotivated to leave Namimori for such an unimportant and bothersome task as acquiring a college degree; Tsuna hid his amused smile behind his yukata's sleeve.
Tsuna himself, on the other hand, got a full ride for Cambridge, Britain, one of the top colleges in the world, majoring in Biological Anthropology. It was a demanding course, but he would rather be declared an herbivore by his lover than give up on his dream. It was fascinating to learn about the wide range Anthropology covered: Primate Behaviour, Primate and Human Evolutionary Genetic, Human Population Biology and Ecology, Palaeolithic Archaeology and Evolutionary Anthropology - to name just a few. Tsuna showed particular fascination with Forensic Anthropology and he visited several courses on that topic when his study schedule allowed it. Besides the beautiful campus and attention-keeping courses, he especially loved the Haddon Library; who wouldn't? It was one of the world's most comprehensive teaching and research libraries in Archaeology and Anthropology.
It was heaven.
It was a place where he could relax (and nurse a minor, quiet unexpected library fetish he would happily and extensively share with Kyouya once home).
Even so, sometimes the unfamiliar and demanding surroundings got to him, and home sickness was a familiar emotion.
It helped that he wasn't alone. He skyped with Kyouya several times a day and Fuuta as well as Lambo had both chosen to accompany him for the duration of his concentrated studies. Kyouya has reluctantly organised a small secure flat for the three of them, near campus, and visited them whenever he could, despite his dislike for the English language and reluctance to leave his territory. The greatest English Hater in Japan secretly learned the loathed language just for his little family.
Tsuna still couldn't wipe the happy grin from his lips when he remembered the elation Kyouya's first mumbled English words brought him, the overwhelming feeling of being loved and appreciated. It was just one more prove that their love was true.
The courses in Cambridge meanwhile were just as exciting as they were exacting. Tsuna loved being an undergraduate student in Biological Anthropology. He enjoyed studying Evolutionary History, Adaptions, Genetics, Behaviour and Human Health and Disease, both past and present, to research the Origin and Pattern of Human Diversity just as much as the place that humans occupy in nature. He studied for three years as an undergraduate before continuing as a graduate to achieve his . in Biological Anthropological Science for one year and continued on for his PhD in Biological Anthropology, which he received at the age of twenty-two after five years of study, specializing in Forensic Anthropology. He stayed for nearly one more year at Cambridge working on a particular fascinating research project before publishing the results and returning to Kyouya and Namimori, Fuuta and Lambo in tow. There, he had quite a bit of luck, because the Japanese Government asked him to be a part of the team who worked at the archaeological side on Shimon Island, which had unearthed several grave sides. He worked there for nearly half a year.
Following his work on Shimon Island, Tsuna did independent research and published a book on The Early Integration of European Natives into Japanese Culture. He helped out at the Criminal Investigation Bureau in his function as a Forensic Anthropologist until he got the unbelievable chance to help his former mentor from Cambridge at a grave side in Peru. The children decided to stay with Kyouya, Fuuta having just finished his first year at university while Lambo had finished his first year in High School. It was no problem. The Project was only expected to take up three or four months if they didn't found something truly remarkable, and even then, it would not exceed a year.
Nevertheless, he missed his husband, his little brother who was now a grown man and their adopted son, their bratty little teenager Lambo, horribly.
… damn, he felt old.
But he was only in Peru for a few more months. It wasn't as if the world would suddenly explode or be turned on its head while he was away.
What a surreal idea!
Sometimes, he really was a silly fool.
Tsunayoshi couldn't know that in his few months of absence from home, life as he knew it would be shaken up irreversibly.
He could not have fathomed the fatal call that happened only a week after his ill-fated thought.
( If he had been the no-good loser that Reborn trained in a future that didn't come true, he would have hit his head against a wall again and again while loudly cursing himself and Reborn, knowing what would happen as soon as he dared to uttered any hopes of normalcy.
This Tsunayoshi, bless his soul, on the other hand was neither a no-good nor a loser and most certainly hadn't been trained by Reborn – yet; as such, what was to come wasn't something he had any foreshadowing of.
Sharp dark eyes watched the dimly lit traditional Japanese house. Thin lips were drawn in a dissatisfied frown. The black-suited man looked away from the serene sight in front of him and held up his right hand to his left shoulder. The small green chameleon with big yellow eyes sitting there crawled obediently on his hand and glowed. The glow dimmed quickly and showed a small green mobile phone in the amphibians place.
He dialled a number he hadn't thought he would have call so soon and waited patiently for the other to pick up. It was only his luck that he knew of a meeting between the two men happening right now with which he wanted to talk too immediately.
The phone was picked up.
" Reborn", Nono sounded surprised. " I didn't expect to hear from you so soon."
Well, Reborn hadn't expected to call quite as soon. But he was a professional hitman and tutor/torturer, he had whipped the embarrassingly wimpy Cavallone heir into a true Mafioso and extraordinary Don; he was used to shady information and knew how to work with it. Correcting it didn't even make him break a sweat – not that he needed to inform Timoteo of this; let the old man feel guilty.
" Is Iemitsu still with you?", he asked.
" Yes, we were just wrapping up our meeting. I will put you on speaker."
" Thank you, Nono."
A moment of static and he, regrettably, heard the boisterous voice of the great blond buffoon booming loudly in his ear: " Reborn, how are my lovely Nana-chan and my sweet Tuna-fishy? He is simply adorable, ne ne? Oh, how I wish I could be there! That reminds me – don't you dare put your shady old man moves on my lovely Nana, she's way too good for either of us! Now, how did my darling Tuna-fishy take the news? Did he let out that adorable screech of his? I bet he did!"
" I would like to know that too, Iemitsu", Reborn responded venomously. " And I would know if your information wasn't so fucking out-of-date that it's actually been downgraded from expectedly sad to fucking apocalyptically pathetic. I had no idea that the depths of your idiocy could still surprise me, and that's saying something. Colour me impressed."
A beat of silence. Then …
" What do you mean? Why couldn't you tell him?", Iemitsu demanded, panic creeping in his voice.
" I could tell neither your son nor find your wife – and now sit down, you will need to."
" Reborn!", the blond fool shouted angrily. " What the hell do you mean?!"
" Iemitsu, let's do as Reborn suggest and listen to what he as to say. Calmly", Timoteo soothed the younger man's ire.
Reborn inclined his head, the rim of his fedora trapping black eyes in shadows.
" It's simple", he started, his voice deceptively even. " Sawada Nana died sixteen years ago. She was assassinated and her murder is to this day unsolved, but the evidence the police collected as well as the brutal way the kill was done tells me clearly that it was the work of a hitman, and that it was meant as a statement. Sawada Tsunayoshi has been living with a foster family in Namimori called the Hibaris. He is married to the son as of three years ago, but at the moment I'm not sure about his immediate whereabouts, seeing as I haven't see him enter or leave the house at all today. This is called information gathering and reporting, Iemitsu. Take notes."
For a heartbeat no sound came, nothing but the breathing of all three men, and then – Iemitsu exploded.
" No! You're lying! You sick fuck!"
Reborn gave a long-suffering sigh.
" I don't need to lie."
It was the truth.
Iemitsu seemed to recognize the same thing, because a crash sounded and his moaning voice came through the speaker: " No … no … oh god, no … please … Nana …. my sweet, sweet Nana … my Nana … no … no ..."
" Iemitsu … I'm so sorry", Timoteo whispered, honest pity colouring his voice. " Reborn … Tsunayoshi?"
" Tsu-Tsuna?", the blonds scratchy voice came, chocked by emotion. " Tuna-fishy? My … where is my son?"
Reborn closed his eyes. He felt no compassion with the man, but … this was a complication none of them needed.
" Your son was taken in by the Hibari family, as I already said", he finally replied tonelessly, no inflection to whether this was good or bad in his voice; it wasn't his place. " From what I found out it was especially their son who looked after Tsunayoshi in the aftermath of his mother assassination. They got together during High School and married later on. He is quite the scholar, graduating early and having a PhD in Biological Anthropology. My sources say he works as a Forensic Anthropologist for the Criminal Investigation Bureau, the Japanese equivalent to our Agenzia Informazioni e Sicurezza Esterna. He shares custody of two boys with his husband, has since he was a teenager himself, and at the moment I have no idea where he is at all; all I could find out was that he isn't anywhere near their home. The only ones I have seen going in and out all day were the husband and two children."
Nono sighed: " That's … quite surprising."
Reborn snorted in agreement.
" Normally I would tell the blond idiot to question his brats paternity, but the subconscious sky flames practically smothering their home in a protective shell have a familiar resonance just screaming Vongola at anyone who ever tasted your flames, Nono. The blood is too obvious in this one for any falsehood."
The old man sighed again; well, Reborn supposed that the old Don had enough reasons.
" Surprising but promising, it seems. I would like you to find -"
Timoteo was interrupted by a frantic Iemitsu, who seemed to have finally found his ability to use articulate words once more: " Where is he?! Reborn, please tell me where my son is!"
Reborn scowled in annoyance.
" I. Don't. Know."
The words only managed to drag the blond deeper into his personal hell.
" No .. no no no … first Nana, now my baby boy … my little baby boy ..."
Reborn forced himself to remain cold. It wouldn't do to flinch away from the gut-wrenching sounds of fatalistic pain that escaped the failure of an External Advisor.
And even greater failure as a father, it seems.
" My baby boy ..."
Reborn broke through the moaned lamentations, his tone as sharp as his eyes: " Nono, you want him as Decimo, right?"
" Now more than ever", the aged Don agreed in a heavy voice. " He has suffered but preserved and the least we owe him is to give him a strong, resilient Famiglia to depend on. If his sky flame is as potent as you say than sooner rather than later he will be found and hunted for its purity. We … no, I failed the child too much already, too much to ever atone for it. But I have no right to play ostrich now. Reborn, I want him in Sicily as soon as possible."
Reborn hummed, dozens of possible scenarios playing through his mind in the span of a few seconds before he settled on the most likely route to success: " Send the guardians."
" Excuse me?", Nono asked befuddled. " Why?"
" The youngest child as well as his husband has a ridiculous amount of flame potential. And, interestingly enough, they have exactly two of the three flame affinities that you lack to complete his guardians, Cloud and Lightning. Send the other guardians and let them talk with his family. It's your best bet … Nono, we have no idea what we can expect here. We are sailing blind."
Heavy silence was his answer. Finally, Timoteo exhaled.
" And if that doesn't work?", the old man inquired.
Reborn smirked darkly.
" Than … I will come back and talk with the Cloud and Lightning."
And more words ... weren't necessary. Because, well …
He was Reborn.
" Thank you Reborn, please coordinate with the guardians. I will send them as soon as possible. You have my gratitude."
" Will do. Ciao, Nono."
The long wait had just begun.
" Hey Tako-head, are you really sure that we are at the right place?"
The tip of a cigarette gleamed bright red in the creeping night. Smoke escaped pale pink lips which were drawn into a thin displeased line, before they opened to retort to the offending question.
" Fuck off, Lawn-head, I'm not an idiot like you", came the angry response. " Reborn-sama gave me the address personally and even showed me pictures of the damn house, so yes, I'm more than fucking sure! Or are you questioning the information of the world's greatest hitman?!"
" Ma ma, Sasagawa-sempai, Haya-chan, no need to get so riled up.. I think we are right where we need to be – the report said that he was married to Hibari-sempai, right? Then this has to be his husband's house. Let's just ring the bell, no need to get so excited."
The boxer nodded rigorously while the smocking bomb just turned away.
Nevertheless, that was what they did. It was Hayato who rung the bell, and he did so with mixed feelings, waiting and listening to the slow light footsteps approaching from the other side of the door. He took a deep drag of his cigarette, inhaling purposefully deep to keep his blood pressure down.
The door opened slowly and three pairs of eyes immediately fixed on a bored face, green eyes blinking at them lazily.
" … "
A young teenager, maybe sixteen, was watching them decidedly unimpressed. Hayato felt the irrational urge to throttle the brat.
… but he had a job to do. Straightening up he put out his cigarette and gave the brat a tight-lipped smile.
" We would like to speak with Sawada-sama", Hayato requested coolly.
The green-eyed teenager only smirked lazily.
" Sorry, no Sawada resides here", came the amused drawl.
A dark-purple vein promptly swelled on Hayato's temple at the brat's impertinence.
Gritting his teeth, he begged whatever deity was watching over him and this train-wreck happening for patience - there was the very convincing live prove of why he fucking hated rude snot-nosed brats and the aggravating explanation why he would love nothing more than to discover a scientific way to skip that step of evolution called puberty. Alas, science wasn't quite that far developed as of yet ...
" I'm well aware that Sawada Tsunayoshi lives here", the silver-haired bomber stated in a tightly controlled voice, pale-green eyes burning furiously in annoyance.
" Nope", was the cheeky reply.
Hayato exploded, his put-out cigarette springing flaringly to life and burning so brightly it lit up the space between them.
" You little-!", he cursed loudly, springing forward with outstretched hands, fingers clawed in obvious desire to throttle.
Two strong pairs of hands wound around his lean arms and trim waist, restraining him from strangling the cheeky little fuck into blessed oblivion. His fingers desperately itched to wrap themselves around the delicate pale neck and squeeze until the light dimmed in those bored-looking eyes.
He struggled furiously to escape their steel-like grip, but his two fellow guardians both were physically stronger and had no problem overpowering him.
" Hayato!", Takeshi chastised warningly.
" Extreme confusion!", Ryohei yelled as he wrestled enthusiastically with the still violently kicking and hitting silverette.
The idiots didn't understand that the fucking brat was obstructing not only their mission, but laughing at them! They were here to acquire and escort the new Vongola Decimo heir, the civilian known as Sawada Tsunayoshi to Italy.
While the three chosen guardians grappled with each other to avoid homicide, the teenager just blinked at them apathetically …
… and closed the door.
In their faces.
Silence fell over the three men as they looked at each other uncomprehendingly until Takeshi and Ryohei slowly let Hayato go. No one moved or spoke for a long moment.
Suddenly, Hayato cursed loudly and sucked on his fingers, burned finger tips visible in the dying daylight.
Takeshi sighed dejectedly.
" That could have gone better", he summed up.
Gokudera Hayato, Yamamoto Takeshi and Sasagawa Ryohei.
Three man who couldn't be more different from each other if they tried to actively achieve it.
Storm. Rain. Sun.
Their similarities ended where their personalities began. The only things they had in come?
Well, they were employed by the Vongola and loyal members of the Famiglia, each of them saved through the criminal empire in their own way.
They were also blessed with exceptionally strong flames and complimentary abilities, making them ideal guardians and invaluable assets to the Family.
But most importantly … they were flame-active, with each other resonating elements that were searching for their personal sky, for the one place where they belonged unconditionally and the only person to call home.
And they had found him. Finally.
They had found their sky.
Their flames were singing excitedly as they harmonized just a little bit even with the protective sky flames instinctively coating the protection ward surrounding the residence of their sky and his immediate family. It was the most beautiful and sweet welcome they had ever experienced, soothing their battered souls in a kind of peace so unfamiliar and amazing, they were completely thrown off-balance.
Only to be turned away by a brat without even meeting their sky.
A fucking brat.
Hayato was beyond furious.
Takeshi was approaching resignation.
Ryohei was simply befuddled.
Who the fuck did that little shit believe that he was? Just because he lived with their sky and was obviously one of the two guardian potentials, a strong lightning if Hayato would have to hazard a guess from the tiny slivers of flame he had tasted, gave him no more rights than anyone else. He would teach the younger man that lesson. Lastingly.
The Vongola guardians didn't give up. It was completely against anything they had ever been taught. After letting their brains catch up with the displayed insolence of their potential Lightning, they continued ringing the bell, growing more and more impatient with every failed attempt.
It stayed without success.
Getting summarily fed up, the trio rounded the house, walking over grass, over gravel and through flower beds that were in their way. Takeshi had the decency to look sheepishly apologetic at the wilful destruction their careless path wroth, but Hayato was like a man possessed by single-minded anger and saw nothing but his goal, taken by such furious purpose that it sparked over and excited Ryohei's competitive nature.
Ma, what a drag.
Shaking his head, Takeshi resignedly followed his energetic and determined companions.
Getting around the traditional Japanese house like thugs looking for an easy way to break in, they were finally treated to the perplexing sight of the very same black-and-curly-haired teenager who had opened them the door lounging unperturbed on the traditional patio, a chilled glass of juice, maybe grape judging from the colour alone, loosely held.
Hayato gave a strangled growl.
One eye lid opened lazily as the boy took a deliberately provocative sip of his drink, regarding Hayato's stormy approach and thunderous fury-flushed face with something akin to gleeful amusement.
" You!", the incensed storm yelled, finger pointed accusingly at the relaxed teenager.
Said young male just gave a slow mocking wink and closed his eye.
Hayato screamed incoherently in rage and run up to the patio, murder written in every movement – only to crash to the ground before he could finish the first step up the wooden surface.
Ryohei and Takeshi hurried swiftly to their fellow guardian and helped the dizzy man up. There was no visible reason for the crash, no trap, no glass wall, nothing.
Cautiously, Takeshi reached out and quickly snatched his hand back as he met a hard shield, invisible, that actually shocked him.
And Takeshi meant shocked as in run over with a dangerously high amount of electrical current.
Well, the question if he was the Lightning or Cloud was as least answered, wasn't it? Only a true Lightning could create such a shield. But it brought up another question: How did the boy already know about his flames? Because while the sky flames protecting the house were subconscious and born through an instinctive desire to keep the owners family safe, the lightning barrier was a skill – no, absolutely no instinctual untrained user could have produced such a hardened and intricately defensive shield like that without specific and long-suffering training.
Takeshi was about to open his mouth and asked the boy about it as he felt …
His breath froze in his lungs. Fear invaded his being.
So malicious …
The birds were silent. The evening breeze stilled. Takeshi felt his heart beat in his throat, sweat collecting on his brow.
A shadow loomed over them as a chill spread through their bones.
Takeshi tried to turn his head, but he was to slow. All he could feel before he even finished the movement was pain.
Mind-blowing, crippling pain.
And then … darkness.
Slowly, bit by bit, the world came back into view.
Takeshi wished it hadn't.
The more the comforting darkness of unconsciousness receded, the more Takeshi was sure that he had indeed entered hell. The torture coursing through his unresponsive body screamed at him to sink back into blissful oblivion but his mind was already to awake to heed the warnings.
He groaned in pain as his limbs tried to move even the slightest bit only to be harshly constricted, stopping his attempt before it ever really began. Blinking blearily down his body he moaned in despair as dread and mortification settled deeply in upon seeing the brilliant pink ribbon tying him securely in place.
No assassin, and especially not one of his calibre, would ever forgive themselves for being caught off-guard and so embarrassingly easily overpowered. Should Squalo ever become aware of this … yeah, not gonna happen. Takeshi preferred to be kept in the world of the living, and being skewered on the business end of the Sword Emperors katana was not something he particularly enjoyed envisioning. He just hoped Hayato and Ryohei would also keep quiet about it.
What a fuck-up.
The only thing making this utter humiliation at all barely bearable was the fact that he actually felt next to no shame in conceding defeat to the one demon that had literally beaten him into a groaning mess of pain, pain, pain.
He had instantly recognized the family name on Reborn's report and later on the door bell.
It would be hard for anyone who ever lived in Namimori not to.
… and, well, truth be told, he still vividly remembered the familiar wounds the feared and merciless demon prefect of Namimori had happily dished out like candy during a children's birthday party, especially generous in their distribution on his good days.
Scratches and bruises.
Blood and pain.
Delivered by way of perfectly polished and unerring tonfas'.
Such a familiar agony.
Trembling on the inside Takeshi hardly brought up the strength to lift his heavy head and confront … no, surrendering himself to the undoubtedly horrifying sight before him – only to freeze still, a bewildered frown crossing his calm features.
That … was not Hibari-san.
He was absolutely sure.
Because sitting before him, cross-legged and with a smile on his lips, was a young harmless-looking man, around twenty if he had to guess. The serene young man was quite tall and obviously of European descent. Dressed in casual blue jeans and a crème-coloured V-neck-shirt that complimented his slender physique really well, the boy had something … innocent about him. Ash-blond longish hair falling in knowledgeable light-blue eyes completed that unoffending picture.
Takeshi would have likened him to an angel if he hadn't been able to feel the … edge, so to speak, the tuned down wisps of negligent power, escaping the young man in spades, different than any flames he had ever tasted. It wasn't even flames, if he read them correctly. In all truth, they didn't even taste remotely offensive – but it nevertheless made the hair on his arms rise in caution.
His reaction, noticed, earned him an amused and appreciative chuckle.
Looking wearily to the side and taking in his surroundings he caught a glance of Hayato and Ryohei, the former slowly regaining consciousness while Takeshi groaned at the multitude of wounds covering their shared sempai.
It seemed Hibari-sempai had let out pent-up frustrations and grievances with Ryohei-sempai.
… it really didn't surprise him.
Focusing back on the young blonde watching them attentively, Takeshi concentrated on the words crossing those thin pale-pink lips, just in time as well.
" Welcome to our home, Minna-san", the young man said, soft-spoken and gentle. " I'm very sorry for the escalation of this situation, but I'm sure that you understand just perfectly well our desire to protect our own …"
What did he mean? Did he know who they were? What they were? How?
… but Takeshi did understand the desire to protect what you cherish.
Bonds of the heart, mind, body and soul.
" … against every party seeking him harm."
Ouch. That hurt. Takeshi hadn't even contemplated a more forceful approach against their sky, and he knew that neither Hayato nor Ryohei had entertained such thoughts; and even if they had, the moment their flames had harmonised with the sky flame barrier and claimed Sawada Tsunayoshi as their sky, any intentions of physically concluding their business flew out of the window.
Still, the boy hit a nerve.
The silverette he called his best friend took exemplary exception to the insinuations. Takeshi watched with dread as the other first went white only to turn bright red, fury radiating from him like violence was an integrated part of the storm.
This would end badly.
Somehow, Takeshi doubted that they would make it out alive – let alone healthy.
" I have no idea who you think you are but- !", Hayato exploded loudly, anger clouding his rational side.
Hell no! Finally someone spoke civilly to them, and he would not let the silverette destroy their only advocate in this place.
… if he hadn't already stopped showing them leniency.
" Hayato!", Takeshi interrupted harshly, shutting up the yelling bomber and eyeing the young blonde man sitting nonchalantly before him warily.
With good reason.
The atmosphere had just changed drastically.
… was that actual frost creeping up the walls?
" I ", the boy said deliberately, a note of disparaging ice now embedded in his voice. " Am more than entitled to be here – compared to you, even more so. I'm Tsuna-nii's adopted little brother, but you could also say that I am one of those people, as strange as it may seem to you, who honestly care for my big brother simply because they love him. And I think that even simpleton's like you have heard of me .. I'm sure it's completely your pleasure, my name is Fuuta de la Stella."
Takeshi felt sick.
Everyone in the underworld knew of this man. Everyone knew of the de la Stella's greatest failure.
Even now, they were desperately searching for him.
Fuuta de la Stella … was the name of the lost ranking prince. This boy … was the ranking prince the whole underground still searched for. The only human being to correctly rank any Mafia member, an inheritable ability that hadn't been seen since the young man's father died.
And apparently, the Vongola heir had adopted him.
… this couldn't possibly turn out any worse.
" Ma, Fuuta-nii, I think you broke them", a quick glance to Hayato proved to be enlightening and disheartening at once, his friend was bug-eyed and speechless, a strange and disconcerting sight..
Takeshi turned to the speaker and saw the young Lightning from earlier, lounging on another couch and still drinking his juice. He sighed, knowing that Hayato would make an ass out of himself and Takeshi alike should he be allowed to speak.
Something about Lightning and Storm always rubbed them wrong when they connected, no matter if they were very closely related elements or not.
" Lambo-chan, don't be mean", the teenager was promptly admonished … by his older brother.
They didn't really look related. Maybe they were adopted brothers?
Why couldn't this be a nice normal job? Takeshi groaned softly. He would even prefer an assassination to this mocking headache.
" Ah, do you have question? Please be free to ask", the blonde man cheerily stated. " … maybe we will even address them."
Politely mean. Skilful phrased.
Takeshi saw Hayato's hackles rise and moved quickly, forming an open-ended half-question: " That barrier …?"
It was the most innocuous question he could think of that wouldn't lead to a catastrophe – and one they actually did need an answer for. It was worrisome that the Lightning obviously had been trained in the use of his flames, and even mastered them to quite a high degree.
They needed to know by whom, and why, he had been mentored.
The prospective Rain Guardian blinked at the first incomprehensible and then quickly scandalous expression dawning over the Ranking Prince face before the man turned to the Lightning.
" Lambo! Didn't you introduce yourself?", the young man exclaimed, sending the teenager a scolding glance.
Said teenager only lazily winked the accusation away, seemingly not in the least perturbed.
A long-suffering sigh escaped the blonde.
" Tsuna-nii would disapprove. He taught you better manners."
… Takeshi had to, despite the situation they had found themselves in, repress an indulgent smile; contraire to Hayato, Takeshi loved children, and he could already see that this teenager spelled trouble not only with capital a T but completely in capitals.
Ouch, the 'Tsuna-nii would disapprove'-card seemed to quite effective, at least if he was reading the annoyed flicker in those bright green eyes right.
" Muh, mean Fuuta-nii" , the teenager complained, before he languidly stretched and relaxed, and waved one hand, a mixture between greeting and dismissal. " Lambo Bovino."
Takeshi closed his eyes. The teenager just had to be a Bovino, didn't he?
A Mafia child.
Mafia Children … were possessive. And screwed up in the head.
Takeshi knew a lot of them; Xanxus, Squalo, Hayato … this had just become indefinitely more difficult.
No Mafia Child would ever let their sky, the centre of their world, become endangered. And being indoctrinated as the Boss of a Criminal Empire did count as dangerous environment. The Ranking Prince he had hope of talking around to their point of view – but a Bovino?
Somehow, he didn't like this direction the day had taken at all.
" Papa will hurt them, no matter what."
Lambo said it so matter of fact that the swordsman bit down on his wince, very well aware of the hint of smugness present in the black-haired boy at the prospect for seeing Takeshi and colleagues beaten up again … though, Takeshi did see that the teenager gave especially Hayato the evil eye. He suppressed an exasperated sigh. Only Hayato could egg on with a boy he had never seen before today and spark enmity before they had even gotten to introductions.
Was this really his life?
Fuuta in contrast just sighed out loud.
" … true", the blonde conceded to his younger brother.
Takeshi stiffened as those strangely sharp blue eyes suddenly settled on him. A smirk played around the young man's lips.
" Yamamoto Takeshi, ranked fourth of two-hundred-and-nineteen swordsman in the Mafia. Also ranked twenty-three out of six-hundred-and-fourteen for the least able to handle personal tragedy in an appropriate manner."
The Ranking Prince turned to the silverette whose keen eyes were watching the show going on with slow-waking dread.
" Gokudera Hayato. Ranked sixty-one out of six-hundred-and-fourteen for most ambitious Mafiosi trying to become right-hand man. Naturally, you are also ranked third out of one-hundred-and-seventy-two most likely to explode yourself through sheer arrogance."
Silence reverberated through the room as Hayato's face gained an unflattering shade of puce.
Please, please keep a hold of your temper. Please, Hayato.
" Now, would you like to explain why exactly you are trespassing on private property?"
" We would like to speak with Sawada Tsunayoshi."
Finally they had advanced to the reason for their … trespassing.
" Tsuna-nii isn't here."
And just for that little comment, uttered with such angelically calm and innocence … Takeshi actually just that once understood Hayato's homicidal tendencies when around teenagers.
Take a deep deep breath.
… it's not as if he they hadn't deducted that themselves from their interactions with the Lightning.
" Could you tell us when he will be back?", Takeshi asked carefully controlled, withholding any inflection from his voice.
Fuuta just gave a shrug of his shoulders.
" Two or three months", came the nonchalant answer.
" … is there a possibility to meet with him before that?", Takeshi inquired.
He clenched his teeth as green sparks escaped the Bovino's fingertips, cautiously looking up and into darkened green eyes that were shadowed with an emotion he couldn't name - but the intent, from what he could feel, was everything but benign.
He really had no interest to become more acquainted with the boy's control over his flames.
His attention switched to the Ranking Prince as the composed man spoke up again.
" Why do you want to talk with him so urgently?"
Takeshi could have cried in gratitude that at least one seemed reasonable.
" We were sent here by our employer to request Sawada-sama's presence due to a familiar matter of sensitive nature", he hurried to explain.
A fine blond eyebrow was raised as the black-haired child snorted, cashing in a chastising look from the older man who obviously was a brother figure.
" … a familiar matter?", reiterated Fuuta, and Takeshi felt a pit open in his stomach at the mocking lilt behind those words; somehow, any kind of neutrality he had fleetingly gained seemed gone, and if his instincts were right, his explanation had just doomed them to failure. He just didn't know how. " I find that actually hard to believe."
There was more to this, he could feel it, and it left a stale taste in his mouth. Before he could try and salvage whatever had been spoiled, Hayato decided to intervene.
" How in fucks name is that hard to believe?!", he exploded indignantly.
The smile that evoke was terrifying.
It was sharp enough to cut glass.
" We are his only family."
Blue eyes glinted dangerously. The black-haired boy stood up to stand next to his brother, arms crossed resolutely.
" Mama doesn't need or want anyone besides us."
… they were family.
Naturally – they were family. He knew that, how the hell hadn't he seen this – they were protecting their sky, their brother and mother. Possessive, long attuned and claimed elements that gravitated seamlessly around their sky.
And he had just unknowingly threatened them.
" You fucking brat!", Hayato cursed hotly, and Takeshi wished for nothing more than to be able to reach over and hit him over the head. Why couldn't his friend just keep his trap shut this once? " I've had it with you and your fucking attitude! We were ordered here to retrieve Iemitsu-sama's son. And you will not stand in our way!"
The moment the CEDEF heads name was uttered, the swordsman knew that it was a mistake they wouldn't come back from.
" … Iemitsu …?"
" Yes! Got a problem with that?"
… Hayato …
Dark chuckling echoed through the room.
Their, well, opponents, one could say, faces were dark, darker than Takeshi would have been able to imagine. There was no mistaking the sheer undiluted hate, disgust and violence. And it was clearly aimed at the absent Mafioso who had fathered their sky.
Personally, Takeshi didn't know why Iemitsu garnered such a reaction, but from what he had gleamed till now, those two were fundamentally loyal to Tsunayoshi … which led to the conclusion that something had happened between father and son. Something they had not been briefed on. Something that had evaporated their chances at anything with the mere mention of the Young Lion's name.
Not for the first time since this mess had begun, Takeshi felt like he just should have turned heel once he recognized whose house he was about to enter – unwanted.
… how delusional, exactly, had they been expecting, anticipating any kind of success?
" Ah … a problem he asks .."
The lightning cracked his knuckles and gave them a lazily manic grin.
" Muh, let's kill them, Fuuta-nii."
The blond man ignored the proposal, merely patting the child on the head as he looked at them with narrowed eyes.
" … we all got indeed a – problem with that thing."
Like a little child that wanted the attention of his older sibling, the Bovino tugged at Fuuta's sleeve with a pout.
" Onii-san, please – they have overstayed their welcome", he whined.
Cold eyes gave them one last glacial glance before the Ranking Prince gave his brother a smile.
Takeshi understood that any possible help had died right in this moment, and the next words confirmed his fears: " … do it."
Takeshi instinctively leaned away as the child shot forward, a blood-thirsty grin on his lips – but he mustn't have bothered, because the boy never got near them.
He was stopped by a pale hand grabbing his collar and halting the Bovino mid-air.
Takeshi blinked – and flinched.
There was no universe in which he wouldn't have preferred the lightning to have mauled him instead of facing the demon now before them.
Still tall, pale and slim, Hibari Kyouya hadn't changed much appearance-wise besides maturing. He was still absurdly handsome and coldly aloof. But his dark grey eyes were filled with a kind of foreboding that made the experienced swordsman shiver.
Takeshi was an assassin and he wouldn't come within a thousand feet of that monster willingly.
" Papaaa!", Lambo grouched in the former prefect's hold.
Instead of verbally answering, Hibari put the child down next to the Ranking Prince and poked him in the forehead with a finger. Shooting the pale man a frowny glare, the boy pouted and exaggeratedly while the Ranking Prince smiled serenely at the unconscious once-over Hibari did of him, obviously checking for injuries.
Takeshi's throat closed up.
This was a family …
… kami, they were a family.
They had threatened a bound, sky-claimed family.
As the prefect turned around, even Hayato, who had furiously muttered next to him, turned silence. There was only one way to describe the expression on Hibari's face.
And it was aimed at them.
" Be prepared to be bitten to death."
Pain exploded everywhere.
" Special delivery."
Timoteo di Vongola stared aghast at his prettily gift-wrapped and expertly hog-tied young Family members.
Precisely, the three Family members he had send to find and retrieve his successor.
Now, these young men had been nonchalantly delivered to his home by a bowing tall Japanese man with black Pompadour hairstyle in an impeccable black suit. They were wrapped tightly in pink and violet ribbons with pretty glittery bows on top, their clothes changed into identical rose-coloured puffy princess dresses with black Mary Jane's in white ruffle socks on their feet and their faces done in the most ridiculous Make-Up he had seen since the last time on of his man had gone undercover as drag queen.
It wasn't the worst of it.
Scratches and bruises coloured their battered bodies and Decimo's future storm had …
Timoteo closed his eyes apprehensively.
… the boy had Japanese Anime tick marks sketched all over his face.
Heaven help them all! And that wasn't even the worst of it!
Pinned against their fronts were three pieces of paper, each bearing a different message.
The red paper stuck to Gokudera Hayato read 'My oh my – badly done, for a world-renown Mafia Syndicate that is.
The yellow one Sasagawa Ryohei sported bore the statement 'Never mention the worthless excuse for the facsimile of a human being called Sawada Iemitsu ever again!'.
And wasn't that telling …
But it was the last one that lightened his heart and filled it with dread at the same time – though the dread was suffocating.
Because Yamamoto Takeshi had a blue piece of paper tucked artistically into his … cleavage giving him a notice that sounded more like a foreboding warning of danger to come than the simple words it actually was clad in ' Monday next week, seven pm, Skype-chat."
Sighing and swallowing the urge to just say fuck it all, he motioned reluctantly for his sun guardian Brown Nie Jr. to come forward and wake as well as heal the unconscious men while his Storm and Lightning, Coyote Nougat and Ganauche III, were already freeing the boys of their bonds.
He should have waited for that, because once they were awake, Timoteo's headache came to life full-blown.
He could scarcely recognize a word coming over the enraged future Storm Guardians lips, but what he understood and pierced together from the furious cursing and incomprehensible shouting was that they had been accosted by a demon from hell, a lazy intolerable brat and a sadistically deceiving angel-face.
His heir's family hadn't taken kindly to the insinuation that they would have to part with their beloved Tsunayoshi. And most certainly not because of the Mafia. Or Tsunayoshi's father.
What had he unleashed?
Romario shuddered as he heard the unrestrained cackling echoing from his boss's office.
He had never heard his normally cheery nice Don make such a sound. A part of him accused and cursed the former Sun Arcobaleno for corrupting his innocent naïve little boss.
… another darker part knew that it was not true. Knew that the Cavallone Decimo had merely hidden his sadistic side away, so as to not egg his tutor on. Maybe Reborn had unknowingly nurtured that part in his former student, but the truth of the matter was …
… even the sweetest angels could raise hell on earth, and Dino-sama … was more of a fledgling demon than a fallen angel.
Romario trembled, plugged his ears and went about his business.
The traumatizing cackling continued.
See no evil, hear no evil.
" Kyou-koi … I'm going to kill you."
His husband snorted disbelievingly. The sweet smile of the younger man turned chilling.
" Mm, and I think I now the perfect way for you to go."
The black-haired man rolled his eyes amused. The doe-eyed slighter male's smile gained a venomous edge.
" Death by sex withdrawal."
Amusement turned to horror as Hibari Kyouya choked on his tea, spluttering wide-eyed and terrified. Sawada Tsunayoshi smiled angelically at his coughing older husband, the webcam giving him a very good view of the show playing before him. Logically, Tsuna knew that this was mean of him, and he really tried to look contrite.
… there wasn't even the smallest amount of believable remorse on his face.
Kyouya moaned sorrowfully.
" Chin up, lover", Tsuna lilted bemused.
" Omnivore ...", his lover growled.
" Hey", Tsuna waggled a finger in Kyouya's face, admonishing. " You are the one who is forcing me to interact with the scum of the world. As I see it … you have quite a bit of very strenuous, very … ah, satisfying grovelling to do, lover."
Tsuna shook his head and sighed.
" I will see you Monday. Take care of the two little monsters", Tsuna ordered sternly, ignoring his husbands inquiringly raised eyebrow as he called their monsters 'little'; well, for Tsuna, they were.
They would always be his little ones, no matter how much they grew up or how small the number of years between them actually was.
" Will do", Kyouya acquiesced obviously reluctantly.
Sadly, Tsuna understood his lover. Taking care of that two … darling boys was an unthankful task, and near-on impossible to successfully achieve without losing at least another brain cell.
Ah, well … a fitting punishment.
… because as much as he loved giving his lover mixed signals and letting the black-haired man sit on hot coals – Tsuna really wasn't masochistic enough to go without sex for longer than he absolutely had to. Especially after the months they had already been apart ...
Not that Kyouya needed to be aware of that …
" Wife, you don't actually will deprive me of sex, will you?"
Tsuna smirked nastily at the insecure tone in his husband's voice.
And logged off.
Monday evening, seven o'clock.
Congressed in the largest conference room of the Vongola Mansion were the elite, the crème de la crème of the bloodiest Mafia Famiglia to exist, and their closest allies.
Most notable among them was the ninth boss, Timoteo di Vongola, as well as the ninth generation guardians. Also counted among those present were the Varia's Top members with their boss and wrathful sky, Xanxus di Vongola, Timoteo's adopted son, Iemitsu Sawada, the CEDEF Head, and his apprentice Basil, the future Decimo's Storm, Rain and Sun guardians as well as Dino Cavallone and Reborn, the former Sun Arcobaleno.
This men were some of the most dangerous individuals, and they had gathered here to inspect and brief the last eligible heir to the title of Vongola Decimo of his upcoming responsibilities.
Timoteo sighed and closed his eyes as the raised voices of those present gave him a moment of peace and calm. It was truly strange, the ways one can adapt to keep what little of their sanity had remained intact as such.
The old Don let his mind wander as he waited for the meeting to start, which would only happen once Tsunayoshi and his little family had established the digital transmission.
He wasn't really sure how to take the young man he was about to meet for the first time.
Iemitsu had always called his son sweet and naïve and just that little bit too much like his mother. A boy who was barely able to scrape by in school, apathetic if not pathetic with no physical ability or social grace to speak of. He had send Reborn after his future heir with exceptionally low expectations, assuming his heir to need the strict hand of the formidable hitman to become even barely adequate …
… only for the former Sun Arcobaleno to read them the riot act.
Not only had they not been aware of Sawada Nana's assassination over a decade and a half ago, a blow meant against them, they also had no idea where Nono's wayward heir was. The young man who should, for all of his father's previous reports, be an abysmal failure in life, was actually a brilliant world-renown doctor, highly respected in not only his chosen field but also even higher regarded amongst his colleagues, acquaintances and friends for his entire character, as well as married to the only heir of an old Japanese Family with ties to the Chinese Triads and the Arcobaleno – he was a man who had adopted the missing Ranking Prince as his younger brother and acted as the mother for the lost Bovino heir.
For the first time since his sons' deaths, he felt something besides grief or emptiness.
He felt anticipation.
A pling made the old man sit up and his companions quiet down as the screen came to life, loading. Folding his hands, Timoteo abruptly schooled his features into a well-practised benign smile as three unfamiliar faces came into view.
It was easy to match the names he had been given to the faces shown.
Black hair, cold grey eyes, stoic expression. Kyouya Hibari.
Blond hair, a deceivingly sweet smile, glacial eyes. Fuuta de la Stella.
Curly black hair, an arrogant smirk on his lips and startling electric green eye. Lambo Bovino.
None looked particularly happy at the moment.
Timoteo couldn't fault them. From what he had been able to glean, Tsunayoshi's future guardians hadn't left the best of impressions on the young man's family - if what they had reported actually was true, then this conference could easily be called a small miracle. Thankfully, first impressions, while lasting, could be corrected with patience, engagement and sincerity.
Necessities he had made very clear he expected to be performed from the future Sun, Rain and Storm.
A brief glance at their rather uncompromising pose didn't deter his hopes, indeed, this young men and the resolution they projected even over a screen made him very glad over his choice for Vongola's future. He may not know Tsunayoshi beyond the memories he had of a fluffy wide-eyed child playing ball in a pretty little Japanese back garden, but he held no doubt that the same child had grown into an exceptional human being. Any man who could inspire such instinctive loyalty and unquestionable devotion on others would be an asset to their Famiglia, but someone who could form undeniable bonds of family between different characters who share no blood ties? That was not a simple asset – it was a precious gift.
And Timoteo would be damned if he let that boy and his little family get away.
He cleared his throat, gaining everyone's attention.
" Buongiorno, Hibari-san, Fuuta-kun, Lambo-kun. My name is Timoteo di Vongola, and I'm the ninth Don of the Vongola Famiglia. Next to me are my guardians, the Varia, CEDEF and some of our most trusted allies", Reborn snorted at that description and was promptly kicked for it by a glaring Lal." It is a pleasure to properly make your acquaintance", his smile quirked lightly up. " You left quite the impression."
He ignored the muttered "As if!" next to him just as competently as the derisive snort from the Bovino heir.
" Buongiorno, Timoteo-san", the Ranking Prince returned his greeting with a bland smile; obviously, he would be their speaker. " It is nice to meet you … and yours, under more ... peaceful circumstances."
Translation: 'At least this time your henchmen aren't breaking into our home and aggravating our cloud.'
Oh yes, Timoteo could see a glorious future for the Famiglia.
" As you may know, I'm Fuuta de la Stella. Next to me are Lambo Bovino", the black-haired boy winked cheekily." And Hibari Kyouya."
Oh my, he knew that look. It was the same one Xanxus wore before he tried to strangle those he claimed as trash. It never boded well for anyone.
" I would like to thank you for setting up this meeting", Timoteo continued." I take it Tsunayoshi-kun will join us shortly?"
" Yes, they had a bit of excitement at the archaeological excavation site he works on today, and he messaged us that he would be a few minutes late."
That wasn't too bad.
" Hey, Dino-jiji."
He blinked. And blinked again.
It was stiflingly silent as the little Lightning's words came through the speakers. Tension rose as the Cavallone Don groaned and glared, his arms crossed before his chest, but his flames …
… his flames sang in recognition and fondness.
Now this, he hadn't been expecting.
How, please, did Dino know Tsunayoshi's family?
Especially since Tsunayoshi hadn't been known as an affiliation to Vongola?
" Who are you calling, jiji, brat?!", the Cavallone Don shot back.
A smirk crossed the dark-haired youths face.
" Well, you are mama's older brother, which makes you my uncle, dear Bucking Bronco-jiji. Get real and stop hiding your advanced age, old man. I can see the wrinkles from here."
A tick developed on the Cavallone Don's forehead.
" Kyouya-kun, do something!", Dino demanded. " Control your brat!"
Slowly, a single eye-brow rose just as the young man lifted his hand – and patted the child's hair.
" Good boy."
Timoteo had to beat down on his mirth – he was one of the few who bothered. Chuckling and snickering sounded through the meeting room, and Dino … pouted.
" You should have really known better, Nii-san", the Ranking Prince remarked drily. " That was just too perfect for them to resist."
The Cavallone Don let his pout drop and sighed deeply: " I know, gaki, I know."
It was … equal fascinating and disconcerting watching this byplay, the closeness and familiarity they displayed. The old Don wasn't foolish enough not to read what was said in-between the lines – the Cavallone heir had been in direct contact with Vongola's future Decimo, presumably for years, and had become an integrated part of the young man's family – something they all seemed to acknowledge.
This could be very bad or very good.
On one hand, Dino could become their step in the door, the one to lessen the tension and built a bridge between the Famiglia and their estranged heir as a vaulted ally – on the other hand, which Timoteo knew was more than likely, it could also be the very stone that breaks the camel's back; the Cavallone were long-standing allies, and despite Dino's youth, Timoteo had no illusion that for the young sky they were trying to essentially entrap in a life of crime and blood, the older blonde would call all of them out at whatever bullshit they would be trying to construct to win Tsunayoshi over.
This would require a delicate balance act.
… sadly, he was surrounded by human sledgehammers that never left china ware in one piece.
" How did you even come into the care of my son?", asked his external Advisor, and Timoteo had to swallow his sigh.
Did he say one piece? He would be glad if the china wasn't vaporized.
The disgusted glare from the Bovino heir was more than telling; though, taking into account that it was Iemitsu who had spoken, the look was probably reflex for the child.
" None of your business."
Well, that wasn't really cooperative, not that he had expected much else - looking from their point of view, a completely understandable reaction.
He hoped that it was only Iemitsu, but knowing his Family – well, the problem wasn't that none of his men could respect boundaries, it was that some of them simply didn't want to. Diplomacy was the key …
" Tsunayoshi is my son – we are each the closest blood family the other has. That gives me all the rights I need."
… and there was nothing even remotely diplomatic about that statement.
Damn you, Iemitsu, damn you and your foul sense of entitlement. He really liked his External Advisor and trusted the man with his life, but sometimes, he just wanted to shake some sense into that blonde idiot and make him listen to the lines that went unsaid.
Reading the atmosphere was a skill that seemed to abandon him when it came to people who impacted the CEDEF leader personally – because that … was as far from diplomatic as he could get.
Timoteo felt apprehension seep into his bones as the young Ranking Prince turned a glacial glare at his External Advisor.
" Blood? What do we care for blood? What matters is not if you contributed with sperm to Nii-chan's creation, it is how you behaved all his life – and honestly, none of us come from perfect or even good families, but you … you actually beat even Lambo's failure of a father in the 'worst father alive' category."
The Lightning snorted.
" Only there? I'm pretty sure he would be really high up if you were to rank 'waste of human space'."
Iemitsu turned red.
" How dare-!"
" You. Don't. Matter", the Ranking Prince interrupted coldly, slowly accenting every word. " You never have."
His Famiglia muttered among themselves, some incredulous, some offended, but Timoteo only had eyes for Iemitsu. It wasn't the torn apart expression of rage on his face, the byplay of white and red that made him observe the man … but the tremble in his hands.
And he knew that his distant cousin must have come to a similar conclusion as he himself did: If this was how much Tsunayoshi's family despised the man's father, just how much did the son himself loathe him?
Composing himself, he clapped once. Silence fell as all eyes focused on him.
" Let's calm down, together. I think we just went about that all wrong. What Iemitsu meant to say was that as he missed so much of Tsunayoshi's life, he would love to hear how two so extraordinary young men like yourself came into his son's care, and how Hibari-san and Tsunayoshi-kun became spouses. It is simply a matter of parental concern and curiosity."
The young Lightning blinked. The Ranking Prince had raised his eyebrows.
It was the snort of Hibari-san that shattered the silence.
" Wow … I want to be able to bullshit like that when I'm an adult", Lambo breathed, eyes alight with obvious amusement.
" … nah. I prefer Nii-chan's approach. You can't be stabbed with your own sugar-coated poisoned words that way."
Before a squabble could start, both boys were hit over the head – with shining silver tonfas'.
Timoteo noticed the Decimo's future Storm, Sun and Rain guardians collectively flinch.
All the pouting young Bovino gained was an unimpressed left eyebrow. The Ranking Prince looked apologetic.
" Stop know, or I will bite you to death."
The pout only exaggerated.
" Good god, Tuna-fishy. Why do you have to have such bad taste in men?", his advisor suddenly moaned, hands over his eyes.
Timoteo wanted to bang his head against the table – he really wanted to. Once this was over, he would have words with his cousin about when to keep once trap shut … very direct words.
If necessary words that were accompanied by the threat of paperwork … that always worked.
" Hey!", the Lightning exclaimed indignantly in protection of his father figure.
Iemitsu ignored the boy.
" I don't understand what my baby boy can see in you. And how can you continue our line? Tsuna needs a nice pliable woman that will ensure that Vongola's blood line is secured", his external Advisor continued to dig his own metaphorical grave.
" Fuck off, old man."
" Oh, don't worry", Iemitsu returned, a furiously vindictive light gleaming in his eyes. " Once Tsuna's head is sat straight again, I will show him how to reign you in."
… in what world did such a declaration ignite cooperation?
" Let's kill him."
And why, oh why, did it not surprise Timoteo that this was the child's first response.
Admittedly, he would have the same reaction, only more … verbally moderated.
Fuuta shook his head, but the dark smile playing around his lips told a different story.
" Let's call the devil duo and have them screw around with his brain – not that there's much to screw up to begin with", the blonde stated smilingly.
Big green eyes blinked before a look of complete adoration took over the young Lightning's face, and even their Cloud had an appreciative glint in his eyes..
" That … sounds awesome."
… he needed an aspirin.
Before the situation could escalate more – and really, there was no other outcome even with his continued intervention at this point - the screen mercifully beeped again, signalling another stream attempting to connect.
Timoteo sighed in relief as well as dread and accepted the call.
In for a penny …
His money was on at least one death via burst aneurysm at this point. It was something he was really looking forward to.
Sadly, he was disappointed.
No death. Just a glorious round table of fools assembled, looking for the most part like they were about to embrace the taunting calling of violence. Oh, well.
… at least his so-called father was a nice daunting shade of vicious red. It really looked absolutely dreadful with his blonde hair and blue eyes. That was so not the man's colour.
" Tsunayoshi-kun, I presume."
Tsuna rolled his eyes as he focused on the old greying man at the head of the conference table. He had been happy enough to ignore the old timer, but if the man insisted on attention, than he would comply … this once.
… the old man needed one victory out of this meeting. Best to get his good deed of the day out of the way.
Timoteo di Vongola. Vongola Nono, Ninth Don of the most renown Famiglia in the Italian Underworld … and an absolute failure when it came to family before Famiglia – which Tsuna considered, with every fibre of his being, a complete No-go.
His little birdies were very forthcoming with information on the man who did embody a lot of the virtues they despised so much. Not that Tsuna could blame them – he was thankful for his family, but he had seen the damage the Mafia wrought on them, and for that, he would never forgive those who enthusiastically continued to be a part of that world.
There were some like Dino, who had been born into a Famiglia but did their best to make it into something worthwhile, something not completely soaked in blood, something to call family, home, care; and then there were fools like his father, who only thrived on pain, blood and crime, who carelessly waded in the sea of hurt they left behind in the name of an organization bigger than them, hiding like cowards afraid of the light. They always had such airy justifications for their actions, or inaction. Heaven help, if even one of those mighty men ever had to face the real consequences of their mistakes.
They were man who built a front of duty, responsibility and loyalty to their Famiglia because they were incompetent when it came to their families.
Tsuna had heard the stories. He had heard of Xanxus. Of Daniela.
Timoteo di Vongola may not be a bad man, exactly, but he also was certainly not a good man …
… and Tsuna felt the creeps just looking at that grandfatherly demeanour.
Yeah … he was not so good at meeting expectations he found laughable, so … time to shatter theirs.
" Presuming is the same, essentially, as assuming – and assumptions always make an ass out of you and me", Tsuna smiled gently, before tilting his head considering. " Not that you would need my help with that feat."
It was … satisfying to see the old man off-balance. From the expressions on his lovelies' faces, he could only deduce that those idiots had managed to set them off. Not that Tsuna hadn't expected it, but still, it was a certain kind of disappointing. Neither Kyouya nor Fuuta or Lambo were naturally aggravating or annoying, granted they were at most impatient or biased, nevertheless he knew that none of them would have thrown the first stone.
But what could he have expected from … individuals that willingly consorted with the scum he had no choice but to admit had spawned him?
" Ah …", at least he had made the old man speechless.
… Kyouya liked to bite annoyances to death, Tsuna on the other hand preferred to shatter their continuance and entangle them in mind games that made them strangle themselves with the pieces of their broken lies.
His smiled flowed into something softer, approachable.
Tsuna nearly scoffed incredulous as he saw how the old man's underlings honest to kami relaxed. Fools.
Fuuta had an anticipatory gleam in his eyes. Ah, his little brother wanted to enjoy a good show … Tsuna was only too happy to be of service.
" No need to introduce your minions, they should know who I am, I have an idea who they are, and of those I don't … well, useless information goes in one ear and out the other, so why bother?", and yep, that was his little brat chortling merrily while his lover, the older brat and his idiot of an adopted brother did a good job of hiding their laughter for everyone who didn't know them.
The old man cleared his throat.
" Are you aware as to the nature of this meeting?"
Tsuna crossed his legs and leaned back a bit, settling into a comfortable position.
" Enlighten me."
He smirked as the old man seemed to take his words as encouragement; neither Lambo, Fuuta nor Dino were so foolish. They heard the gentle mocking. One lone pale finger tipped against his lips, and Tsuna sucked on the tip.
Oh my, if Kyou-koi tensed any more, he would hurt something … down there … and that wasn't at all Tsuna's intention. Just a tiny little bit of well-deserved sexual frustration on the other hand – well, Kyouya was certainly owned that, what with being the reason that Tsuna had to look at the blonde brainless bane of his existence after years of blissfully denying his presence in this world.
… now he sadly had the visual prove that they, indeed, did still share oxygen. Dreadful.
Tsuna refocused as the old man started up his tale.
" Around four centuries ago, your ancestor, Sawada Ieyasu, was born as Giotto di Vongola here in Italy. He was a street orphan who after witnessing the cruelty of others, the corruption of the policia and the uncommented unfairness of society, decided to fight as a vigilante against the ones who discriminatingly subjugated those who couldn't protect themselves; he fought to protect his little self-formed family, his budding Famiglia, consisting of his friends, his guardians, and all the other individuals and groups he promised to shield. It started out relatively small, and in his time it only grew marginally as an underworld Famiglia, but the tales of Giotto di Vongola, his intuition, progress in battle, benevolence and kindness, were told far and wide and his legend grew – it grew until he was remembered as the first Don documented ever."
That explained a bit.
But mostly, nothing knew there.
… he had taken in Lambo and Fuuta, and Dino was his self-proclaimed older brother.
" Mafia", he stated simply, rather drily.
Tension shot up.
" Indeed", the Vongola Don said, eyes sharp. "If I were to say Omerta …"
" … ah, whatever", he decided and rolled his eyes. " I would say Vindice."
His sperm donor spluttered with wide horrified eyes: " How-?"
The old man sighed and looked at the blonde fool resignedly.
" Iemitsu, please."
And wonder behold, the fool actually did take a deep breath and tried to calm down.
" I apologize."
The old man nodded acquiescingly before returning his attention to Tsuna. It wasn't obvious, but Tsuna could recognize the tired and burdened look in those kind eyes … and a part of him felt guilty knowing that he was doing the exact opposite of alleviating that burden – but first and foremost, he had to care for his own.
And despite – or maybe because of - their shared history, Timoteo did not belong to those cherished few.
He never could.
" You must understand that … that before you were born, your father asked, and I granted him, the opportunity to raise you far away, ignorant of your bloodline. I had four sons at that time … and now, all but one is gone. Sadly, Xanxus isn't eligible to inherit the Title of Vongola Don. And your father, as my External Advisor also can't be taken into consideration."
Yes. It was quite clear what those men wanted.
And while he felt sorry for the old man's grief – as any human being would - no amount of empathy and compassion would make him endanger his own family.
" Which leaves me as the only blood descendant eligible", he concluded the obvious, speaking out what no one seemed to want to say.
" Which leaves you as my only heir", Timoteo corrected sombrely. " I know that you have a life, and that you are a grown man, but you will not be alone. You will have all the support you need from your Famiglia."
" … thanks, but no."
Never. Gonna. Happen.
Ah, the reactions his refusal enticed were delicious. Nono and his guardians looked gobsmacked, while his father and the man's apprentice seemed completely paralyzed. It was actually the Varia who had the most entertaining reactions.
" Shitty brat …"
Ah, music in his ears. Sadly, that music was nearly instantly drowned out by something rather unwelcome, seeing as his failure of a father regained his bearings way too soon. And promptly made Tsuna's blood seethe.
" Tuna-fishy, you have to! It is your duty!", the blonde exclaimed.
Tu … na … f-fishy?!
No, no – Tsuna was so not going there. No!
" … my duty?", Tsuna returned incredulous.
… the nerve ...
" Duty as in, responsibility?"
Iemitsu nodded earnestly.
" One you have to take. You have no choice."
Yeah … not the best phrasing … or approach … really, anything at all.
" … mhm ... still no."
What a lovely colour! The red did clash quite heavily with his blonde hair, but with his sperm donors expression of absolute fury edged upon those unfamiliar features … quite fetching.
Tsuna barely kept his giggles in.
" Sawada Tsunayoshi! Stop this childishness right now, this isn't the time to act like a brat!"
… oh, now things were about to get interesting.
He bit his lips to keep the broad grin from appearing on his twitching lips.
This, he could play.
A self-entitled fool who tried to force him into submission? He had faced worse in college when his fellow students decided to take him down a few pegs only to land on their faces themselves, humiliated with no evidence ever pointing to him. Really, he grew up with Kyouya – his husband was many things, rule-obsessed among them, but bound by anyone but himself? Never. One of the things he learned more eagerly than others was how to use another's arrogance as their weakness against them.
It was a nice past-time, letting the foolish dig their own graves. Quite relaxing, indeed.
And the idiot before him, well …
… he was just begging for it.
Who was Tsuna do deny such obvious despair?
" Just for curiosities sake … what right do you have to demand anything from me?", Tsuna asked amused, riling his father right up.
It was delightful to see how the fool's face coloured up an even more fascinating shade of red – kind of like a tomato.
The only thing missing was steam escaping his ears, whistling like an angry tea kettle.
" I'm your father, young man."
He rolled his eyes. What an awe-inducing statement. Thank kami that his intelligence obviously came from his mother's DNA … otherwise, he would have been an epic failure at about anything, with a genetic base like that as foundation.
" And I'm an adult with all the benefits, meaning, as you just so wonderfully asserted, I'm a young man and not a child. You lost the chance to play the minor card six years ago", Tsuna stated boredly. And hung on, silently, 'In Italy, that is'.
… but the fool didn't give up.
How hard-headed could he be?!
" Tsu-kun, you will always be my son, and I will always be your father. Age doesn't negate that. And being declared an adult doesn't negate the bonds of blood."
No, but failing at being a human being does.
… not that the fool seemed to even realize his own failings.
What a surprise.
Still, he swallowed his instinctive reaction and instead of belittling the idiot, he focused on the one word that made his blood boil beyond belief, so much so that he needed a moment to articulate the words through the insults demanding to be let out.
" … don't call me that", he whispered, a pained frown coating his lips.
Tsuna gritted his teeth and took a deep breath.
There went his nonchalance.
This man was an utter imbecile, he was a cancerous blight to all those who had earned the right, the privilege, to call themselves father, or a parent in general. But this point, at least this – this he was going to get through that thick empty skull.
At least this.
" After how you spit on everything my mother stood for, after you took her love, her happiness and self-respect, you dare to imply that we are family? That you have the right to demand love and faith … because of blood bonds, because of a long lost and gone sense of familiarity?", he asked softly, his voice cold and clipped. " Kaa-chan called me Tsu-kun because she loved me, it was a nickname of endearment, something I wouldn't expect a … man like you to understand, and to this day she is the only one – everyone I love accepts this unspoken boundary. But I'm fooling myself, aren't I? What else could I have expected from you, but trying to disgrace everything mom and I shared by demeaning her nickname for me? That it passed your lips is despicable enough."
And it didn't matter that he didn't implicitly state his distaste for anyone but his mother calling him by that childhood name – everyone else cared enough to see his reaction, his discomfort of being addressed as Tsu-kun. Maybe they didn't know why, but at least they had the decency to desist.
The fool looked ready to argue, but thankfully he didn't get a chance to open his mouth. The old Don stopped him with a single glance and turned his attention to Tsuna. Now, this would be good. Really really good.
There was a glimmer of understanding and compassion in those tired eyes. For a moment Tsuna let himself remember the old man who once visited them and made his mother laugh her sweet laugh, red dusting her cheeks and amusement sparkling in her eyes.
And then he remembered why they were where they were.
He wouldn't lose here … not that he could. The dye had been cast, but those self-absorbed fools were too stubborn to recognize that.
" Tsunayoshi-kun, I'm sure your father didn't wish to insult your memories of your mother, he just had a very hard time coming to terms with her death and is still adjusting. It was a shocking revelation", the old man tried to appease him.
Tsuna cocked his head to the side, an eyebrow questioningly raised.
His supposed grandfather figure smiled benevolently. Tsuna recognized the grief in it.
… too little too late.
" The loss of a loved one is always devastating."
Tsuna gave an answering smile, just an edge of teeth to it.
Who did this senile fossil think he was talking to? Or trying to manipulate?
That … was just badly done. So … bold.
" I'm well aware, thank you for stating this completely unnecessary fact", Tsuna practically purred, a finger tapping mockingly against his chin. " I actually meant 'Oh, he is just now coming to terms with it?' Because, grandpa, as idiotic, foolish and faithlessly smitten as you all thought you knew my father to be, after being a widower for sixteen years, a grown man - which he seems to pretend to be - should have at least started dealing."
And wasn't that a blow.
Even from what little Tsuna himself could remember from his parents' interactions, he knew, without a doubt, that his mother had unconditionally loved his father, right until she took her last breath. As a child, he had believed his father to completely recuperate her feelings, he had believed his father to be a loving doting man who was absent to make sure they lived well and that he had chosen to do so for his mother's benefit – now, as an adult himself, he could only shake his head. If this irresponsible man had gotten his claws into him after Kaa-chan's death, he would have been ruined beyond salvation.
By being the complete fuck-up he was as a parent and husband – damn, after all Tsuna had gathered, the man was a public menace – he had actually done Tsuna a favour by staying ignorant and the hell away from a desperate and impressionable child.
But none of that gave the idiot any rights to claim grief – a grief he was, after all this time and truly reprehensible neglect, barely entitled to – as an excuse for anything.
And Tsuna would let neither his own sperm donor nor the man who prostrated himself as his grandfather use his mother's death as a convenient excuse.
He barely suppressed a sneer at the pitiful expression on the blonde's face.
" I didn't know, Tsuna, I really didn't know."
His lips lifted into a sardonic smirk.
There was nothing nice about it.
And Iemitsu seemed the only one not privy to that, judging by the resigned look on Timoteo's face.
The foolish boy who apprenticed under his father whimpered a soft " Master …" that the idiotic blonde ignored.
The hitman's reaction was quite a bit more amusing.
" Idiota …", the fedora wearer cursed softly.
At least not all hope was lost for this … Famiglia.
" How shocking", Tsuna deadpanned coolly.
" I truly believe we should speak openly. There are quite a few imperative facts you have to be made aware of and even more we would like to have explained", the old man tried to take back control of the situation.
… possibly before his External Advisor completely ruined everything.
… Right …
As if that hadn't already been set in stone before this meeting had even started.
But Tsuna wanted to play, and what better toy for that than a few undeniable home truths.
" Truths, huh?", he murmured softly." well, then … tell me, father, grandpa … where were you?"
" Tsuna …?"
Timoteo didn't answer, his forehead crunched up as he looked at him considering.
" Shit", he hitman swore, dipping his head so the fedora hid his face.
… he was actually starting to like the quick-minded man.
Well, no time for that … maybe later, or maybe not.
" Where were you when my mother died?", he asked, frigidly, no hint of his former warmth existing. " As your mistake cost me everything? As I had to bury my own mom? As I was hospitalized, so traumatized that I was nearly dead to the world, clinically kept alive? Where, father, where were you as I spent months next to the phone, calling my Tou-chan day for day for day, waiting like a good son for my father to call back, only to be disappointed and humiliated again and again? As I begged for my Tou-san to come and give me back my home? Where. Were. You?"
Despite the fact that he was on screen, the room seemed to grow colder as Tsuna stared at the gathered Mafiosi, his gaze unblinkly fixed on the two men who had damn-near ruined his life.
No sound was heard as he stared them down.
His voice was chilled, and those forced to listen were frozen by the mix of gut-wrenching pain and terrible anger. It was the kind of emotional despair that no time could truly dull.
His words seemed to echo endlessly.
" Because, father, you weren't where you should have been."
His lips lifted up in a cruel smile.
" You weren't there."
His eyes were bottomless.
" You never were."
His fury was palpable.
It was fire.
It was ice.
It was unforgiving.
" Tsunayoshi-kun …", his so-called grandfather forced out, voice choked and breaking.
He didn't care.
He ploughed on, wanting to get it off his chest, after sixteen years.
He wanted them to listen.
To fucking hurt.
" I could name countless of examples where you led me down, countless of missed opportunities and forgotten occasions you were supposed to be there for, supposed to be a father. It is sad, father, when the son actually comes to expect disappointments – but it's the only success I have ever had when it comes to you, expecting you to be a failure and being again and again validated. Frankly, from where I stand, you honestly aren't worth the effort."
He tilted his head to the left.
" You actually haven't been for a long time."
It was totally gratifying to see this arrogant fool of a man flinch and sink into himself.
Time to serve another dish and drive the message home like a well-placed knife in the leg.
" And now, as the man who after being instrumental in the murder of my mother so nicely said, let's get down to business. You will get few if any answers and I will listen only just to be ride of you."
Now that statement could be left to interpretation – though, really, there was only one message to be derived from it.
'You have lost before you ever gained a thing.'
The old man sighed.
" Why are you so vehemently opposed to becoming Decimo?", he questioned, honestly seeming confused.
Tsuna rolled his eyes.
" You answered your own question just a few moments ago."
All that garnered him was a raised eyebrow.
Throw an old dog a bone.
" I have a life, and one I love at that. Just look at those two little cretin's and the growly carnivore", Tsuna chuckled softly at the embarrassed and affronted looks he gained from said cretins and carnivore. " They are my family, the ones I love the most in this world. And without them, nothing would matter. Do you expect me to actually choose you over them?"
" You wouldn't have to choose", Timoteo corrected him.
This time, Tsuna didn't bother to suppress the incredulous snort that escaped him.
" How sweet. It's actually quiet endearing how a man of your … advanced age can still be so naïve", Tsuna commented drily, eyebrow raised. " Acknowledging and accepting you and yours would mean endangering mine … and I'm too much of a possessive bitch for that."
He did took great delight in the scandalous expression his foolish sperm donor wore, just as much as he enjoyed the reprimand drawn on the old man's features and the respect he could see in Dino's and Reborn's faces.
" Besides, I've worked hard for my titles and the recognition they earn me – why should I sacrifice something I love for something I couldn't care less about?"
Iemitsu seemed to shake himself up at this.
" Tsuna, I made mistakes, but we are family, we are blood. And no matter if you like it or not, you have a duty to answer the call of your bloodline."
Tsuna rolled his eyes.
That man was truly renitent … and resistant. To any kind of logic. Or opinion that differed from his own. Narcissist much.
" … I couldn't care less about your so called duty. In fact, I feel less than nothing about anything you just tried to foist upon me. I would embrace it wholeheartedly if I were able to say that I cared nothing about you, too", a glimmer of hope flickered in those blue eyes. Of victory. Smug. And Tsuna felt a truly honest satisfaction in snuffing that hopeful glimmer out before it could fully bloom into existence. " But you, Tou-chan, you I blame. I blame you for my mother's death, for the pain you brought and your fucking ignorance. Most of the time, I can't decide what weighs heavier – the disgust and anger at your actions or the pain of never being enough. And, honestly? Maybe, if I had stayed broken, you could have won. You could have guilt-tripped me into begging for your attention, your approval."
He could have. Tsuna would have given that man anything.
" But I'm not a child any longer."
And even as a child, when he should have been broken by a man who should have been there, he never was. Even as a child, he had been taught disappointment. And he was no longer a child. He was no longer a little boy desperate for his Tou-chan.
That part of him died an early and torturous death.
" And I'm not yours."
He didn't know if he ever was …
… but he knew that he never would be.
" So if you think you can capture and chain me", an amused smirk danced around his lips, eyes alight. " If you think I will ever willingly submit to you …"
Oh, others had tried … so many others …
None who would dare ever again.
" Catch me if you can."
Timoteo shivered as that sweet icy voice flowed over him, vaguely reminded of death. Kyouya grinned blood-thirstily as Dino chuckled darkly.
Tsuna smirked as he leaned back lightly.
" Oh, and Dino-nii, don't forget to visit", he chided his older brother-figure.
Dino threw him a thumbs-up.
" No sweat, lil'bro."
Tsuna's gaze sharpened as he fixed it onto Dino, scrutinizing him. The blonde nearly squirmed, and actually pouted as Lambo as well as Fuuta started to snicker and Kyouya threw him a superior look. Tsuna truly had mastered the art of cowering his little family quite superbly.
" Really, Dino-nii, it would be a shame if only Kyouya would get to eat my hamburger steak."
Dino gapped horrified at the prospect of withheld godly food.
Fuuta rolled his eyes fondly as Lambo cackled.
Kyouya smirked proudly.
That was HIS little animal.
… and hell if that teasing minx didn't just show his omnivorous claws and teeth just to torture him. Tsunayoshi knew very well how hot he found it when the boy flayed someone verbally within an inch of their pathetic lives.
The cheeky smile said everything.
" See you soon, my lovelies."
And with that he logged out, the last image that of a mirthful kiss blown at Kyouya.
" What the fuck was that?!"
Decimo's prospective storm guardian practically exploded as soon as the connection broke, glaring fiercely at the three – or four, as it now turned out – that Tsunayoshi-kun had claimed as his family.
It was actually very understandable, not only had Tsunayoshi just refused the position of Decimo, he had torn into them, specifically Nono and Iemitsu, quiet masterfully, and there was no member of the Vongola that was not rubbed raw at the way they were dismissed … and at the accusations neither of the two attacked leaders had actually denied, merely excused.
This was a most unfavourable outcome … but not all was lost.
" Hayato!", Decimo's prospective Rain called for his follow guardian, only for his calming hands to be slapped away as the agitated storm stood up and hit the table.
" No – what – the hell – that is our sky?!", he shouted furiously.
" Calm down!"
But neither the prospective sun nor the rain were able to calm the storm down, and it took Nono to release his aura to calm the young man down enough for him to blink away the fury of rejection that had settled over his mind. Nono rubbed his temples at the tempers running high.
" Boy, you should be careful what you speak about", Dino warned the young Italian.
Timoteo jumped in quickly, before a new round of shouting could begin.
" We all need a bit time to process this meeting, so let us adjourn."
Suddenly the sound of giggling captured everyone's attention and they turned towards the screen still showing the small claimed family of their future Decimo. The young Bovino heir was the one giggling heartily, though Fuuta de la Stella wasn't far behind, his lips twitching traitorously.
It was the cloud that was glowering at them darkly.
" He isn't yours."
Reborn quickly cocked his gun at young Hayato before the passionate Storm could continue his angry lunge across the table ...and damage the screens.
" And he never will be", the young Bovino continued smugly. " You are what he can't stand – the embodiment of everything that has ever cost him what he loved the most. So shut your trap and fuck off."
The last part was snarled.
The boy shock his head at the gentle not-quite-reprimand.
" Mah, I'm allowed to be pissed at them."
The older blonde shook his head.
" I never said you couldn't be – or that you weren't allowed to show it. But Tsuna-nii would be disappointed at your language, Otouto."
Lambo rolled his eyes.
" Be a bit more polite when telling idiots to leave."
The boy stuck out his tongue at his big brother, but did as told and turned back to them.
" Kindly fuck off."
The Ranking Prince whipped away a fake tear.
" I'm so proud."
Their black-haired guardian just closed his eyes.
" Lambo-sama is the greatest."
" Shut up!", Fuuta laughed.
But like a well-oiled and unwanted old clock work, the External Advisor had to destroy the moment.
" Tsuna should have really taught you manners", Iemitsu sneered.
Even Nono's eyebrows creeped upwards at that comment.
" You", a sardonic grin, eerily similar to Tsunayoshi's, stretched the young Lightning's lips cruelly. " Are the last person to bother anyone over manners or responsibility of teaching the young."
Before Iemitsu could fluster up even more and retort with something undoubtedly catastrophically offensive, the Cloud stood up and laid a calming hand on the black-haired boys head. In Iemitsu's direction he said coolly: " Tss. Herbivores, and here I had hoped that you would be worthy carnivores."
The boys looked questioningly at their father-figure.
" Papa …"
At his permissing nod, the children stood up to leave the camera's field, but not before waving to the Cavallone heir and giving the External Advisor the evil eye.
The cold Cloud focused eerily at them.
" You will leave us alone", he commanded.
Timoteo had to grasp at strands, he had to get at least one of those Tsuna considered his to understand their side.
" Hibari-san, I know that you can't quiet grasp the gravity-"
He couldn't even finish his sentence before a wave of purple fire flicked to life on the young man's weapons.
" Shut. Up."
The room seemed to freeze.
" You will leave us alone. You will never bother the Omnivore again."
There was no arguing with that man.
" Should you try …"
" You will be bitten to death."
And he left.
They stared at the empty room.
" … we are so fucked."
… yeah, that summed it up nicely.
Kusakabe spoke up relieved as he saw he saw his leader striding along the hallway leading from their meeting room, the unfinished paperwork of two days in his arms ready to be delivered to the boss – before blanching as those cold bottomless grey eyes turned to him. Hard. Blank.
He gulped. Paling.
The paperwork crashed to the ground.
The foundation member followed, uselessly curling in on himself at the assault. It was over as suddenly as it began, but the phantom pains of tonfa hits raining down on him lingered.
Hibari-sama stalked away.
… after kicking the paperwork, scattering it all over the floor and hallway.
The resulting whimper from the Cloud's right hand man was pained, long-suffering, desolate … and resigned.
" … what did I do wrong …"
The Vongola … never caught up to their heir.
If he could even be called that … what without prove of his existence.
The opinions were even divided over whether or not the Decimo actually existed, and even within the Famiglia, there were dubious voices.
Nono and Iemitsu held unto their choice, and it made those that had been there for the meeting shake their heads. Even Xanxus, who normally was too pissed to interact much, if at all, with his adoptive father after his brothers' death. But that little mini-Boss-trash that had so soundly handed the CEDEF trash his ass verbally … he could go with that.
It was a fucking tragedy that the Lion trash had destroyed any chance of cooperation, but Xanxus was one of the few who could truly understood having a failure of a father and writing them off. It gave man who as a child was deceived and left behind a bitter taste, nevertheless …
Still, too see it happening again in his own family … but what could one expect from that foolish CEDEF trash?
Xanxus would lean back and observe. He would watch the headless chickens as they made even bigger fools of themselves and clung to the hopeful imagination of the Decimo they wanted, not the one they got … who had resolutely told them to fuck off.
Damn, he liked the little trash's style. Maybe he would visit sometime, when the excitement had settled a bit, it wasn't so hard to keep track of the boy after all, and his men had not been beaten within an inch of their life unlike the old men's underlings despite the fact that he was sure that the bloody cloud guardian-husband of his little cousin sure as hell knew of them.
This was funny as shit.
And he fucking loved his front row seat.
" Catch me if you can ..."
None had expected how much those words would haunt them.
Reborn just snorted. He made no secret over the fact that he believed them completely deserving of the humiliation and despair that had, as of late, befallen the upper echelon of the Famiglia. After all, you reap what you sow, and Iemitsu had sown the seed of resentment in his own son – now, he was reaping the fruits of his labour, and they tasted oh-so bitter.
As the saying goes: Ignorance is bliss …
… but it doesn't excuse you.
It always … always comes back to bite you in the ass.
Unknowingly, thousands of miles away, a young blond man with blue eyes echoed his sentiment as he watched their stoic guardian bite the minions to death that were send to take back his other older brother.
He could only shake his head exasperatedly.
Tsunayoshi just smiled serenely as Kyouya bite the annoying herbivores that were crowding and disrupting the peace of their reunion to death.
Really, what did they expect? A nod, a smile, compliance? … there was really no doubt that the man who had sired him had at least a hand in their training and principles, it had his untalented disgusting finger prints all over.
And if he could see that … then Kyouya had too. Well ...
May heaven have mercy on their souls.
Because, in all honesty, he had to admit …
… he was all out of fucks to give.