Disclaimer: I do not own K. Hitman Reborn. All rights to the characters and world goes to the author Amano Akira.

This is just a simple fanfic I've been writing for fun. This is work is complete! Feel free to give feedback anyway, though!

Author's Notes:

This story picks up one year after the events in the Fanfic "Flames and Family". Unlike that story, however, this one will not have an underlying major plotline. Instead, it merely follows along as Tsuna has to overcome challenges and become the next boss of Vongola.

Will be rated M for Mature Features such as Violence, Blood, Gore, Language, Alchohol, Tobacco, Drugs and Sexual Encounters. Do NOT read this if you can't understand the word MATURE. Mature means adult frame of mind, people. I.E. Don't read this if you're not allowed to, or don't prefer to, watch R rated movies! You have been warned!

The story WILL start out pretty innocently, but expect it to change. We're going to the dark side of the mafia, baby!
Tsuna leaned against the school roof's protective railing, a letter from Vongola the 9th dangling from his hands. Almost a full year had passed since the nightmare known among the mafia as the "Horsemen Incursion". He was graduating his 3rd year at Nami-chuu in a mere month and he was still trying to decide what he wanted to do next.

Then the letter from the 9th had come, opening a path that he'd not thought of. It was a polite invitation, instead of an order. An invitation to attend the private mafia-based high school in Italy, Don Girarde High, while training under the 9th. It was a high school not far from the Vongola Headquarters known for housing many up-and-coming mafioso. Or their children, at least.

Tsuna had almost thrown the letter away immediately, but part of him didn't want to dismiss the offer. His bond had gotten tighter with his Family since the incident the previous year, but he knew that he was still a long way from being a capable boss. He didn't want to admit it, but in his current state, there was no way he'd be able to take over for the 9th without making a mess of things.

So he held on to the letter, wondering if he should take the invitation.

He was caught, unable to make a decision. There was the part of him that wanted to become a worthy leader and protect his Family, but there was also the part of him that didn't want to leave Japan and his friends here. And something told him that if he went, he'd have to go alone. If only for a little while.

"What should I do, Reborn?" He asked quietly, knowing that his tutor was somewhere nearby. He was always nearby.

"Who knows?" The little hitman replied, jumping up onto the railing next to him. "It's true that there are things the 9th can teach you that you wouldn't be able to learn here. It would be a big step forward in your training, but it's not something anyone can force you to do. You have to decide this one on your own, Baka-Tsuna."

Tsuna nodded. It was almost word-for-word what he'd expected his tutor to say. Yet hearing it instead of thinking it helped him come to a decision. "Tell the 9th I'll come. There's a few provisions I'd like to make, but we can discuss that later." Reborn nodded and made the call.

It was something he felt he had to do and Tsuna had never backed down when he resolved to do something.

"Where's the 10th?" Gokudera asked, trying to straighten his tie for the graduation ceremony. "He should have been here hours ago."

"Who knows," Yamamoto replied, going over to help Gokudera. "He'll be here, though."

"No, he won't," Reborn said, popping up from nowhere. Yamamoto and Gokudera both stopped in their tracks.

"What do you mean, little guy?" Yamamoto asked, his serious swordsman side coming out.

"He's accepted an invitation to train under the 9th. His plane left a few hours ago."

"What...?" Gokudera looked like he wanted to faint. "He left without me, his Right-Hand Man? The 10th left...?"

"You'll only be temporarily separated. The initial invitation was only for him, but I'm sure he'll send for you eventually." Reborn reached into his suit and pulled out some letters as Kyoko and Hana walked up. He handed one to Gokudera and the other to Yamamoto.

"Tsuna's gone?" She asked in shock. Other than the one kiss the previous year, Tsuna had never made another advance toward her. Over the past year, their friendship had deepened, but it was almost as if fear kept him from letting himself allow more. It had been no different in his interactions with Haru, never again stepping over the bounds of friendship.

"Yup," Reborn replied, handing her a letter as well. Quietly, everyone opened their letters and read.

Dear Gokudera,
I know you're probably shocked and upset that I left without telling you. Please forgive me. I'll try to send for you as soon as I possibly can, assuming you want to join me in Italy. For now, I'm leaving the rest of the Family in your care. Please keep them safe and happy while I begin training. I'm going to do my best to become a boss worthy of you.
Sawada Tsunayoshi, Vongola the 10th

Tears began forming in Gokudera's eyes as his devotion to his boss rose another notch. He hadn't thought it was possible, but it was. Not only because of the bosses' written words of caring toward his loyal subordinate, but with the amount of trust he'd given. It was up to Gokudera to keep the Family happy. Definitely work fit for a right-hand man. With a sniff he said to Reborn, "Tell the 10th, I'll do it! Until he sends for me, I'll do it!"

Dear Yamamoto,
Please, don't be angry. I'm not trying to do this alone because it's going to hurt me, but because it's going to make me stronger. I have to get stronger if I'm going to take on the responsibility of not only protecting you and the Family, but leading the whole of Vongola. I know how important baseball is to you and I want to be strong enough that you don't have to spend so much time worrying about me instead of playing. The path you choose is up to you, but this is the path I feel I have to follow.
Your brother,

Yamamoto gave a little half smile, moved by how much Tsuna cared about him. "Tell Tsuna," he said, trying to think of the best way to say it. "Tell him he's not allowed to go have fun without his big brother. I'll be joining him as soon as he'll let me."

Both the boys turned to Kyoko, wondering what her letter had said. They were a bit shocked when they saw her hand over her mouth in shock and tears falling from her eyes. Curious, the boys looked over her shoulder to see what it said. There were only two little words written.

I'm sorry.

Looking down, they saw the little victory charm she'd given him during the ring battles attached to the paper. "He's really gone, isn't he?" She said. Both the boys looked at each other, understanding how hard it had been for Tsuna to give this back to Kyoko and to leave without saying goodbye. They also understood all the unwritten words that accompanied his message. It was his way of saying that she shouldn't wait on him. He, more than anyone, wanted her to be able to live a normal, happy life untarnished by the mafia.

"I'll pass your messages along," Reborn said, leaving the two boys to deal with Kyoko. He had a plane to catch.

Haru looked down at the letter Fuuta had given her, her face showing her shock.

"Ha-hi? Tsuna left without Haru? But he didn't say goodbye!" Fuuta pointed down to the letter she was holding. She opened it and read.

Dear Haru,
I'm sorry I can't say goodbye. Please take care of Kyoko. I'm not sure how she's going to take me leaving. Honestly, I didn't know how to say goodbye to either of you. I want you to be happy, just like I want Kyoko to be happy. I'm sorry I can't be what you want, but I am going to try and be a worthy successor to the 9th. If I come back, I don't know if I'll be the same so, don't wait for me. And don't loose your spirit.

"That idiot," she cried. "I'm going to be a mafia bosses' wife!" Fuuta could barely understand her through her tears, but he had a feeling she'd be okay eventually. Even as he tried to comfort her, she was already stomping her feet and looking for someone she could take her frustration out on. Fuuta decided it was probably better to go home, before she thought of using him.

Ryohei looked down at the letter Bianchi had just delivered to him. He was at the newly repaired Black Glove Mountain in the third floor gym. The gym floor had finally been opened to the public soon after the repairs were finished from the damage the acid-maniac had caused. Ryohei had been extremely grateful when Tsuna had given him full lifetime access to the Dojo and all the facilities of the Mountain. He'd been even happier when Tsuna had put him in charge of a new boxing division of the facility.

Big Brother,
I'm going to be gone for a while, doing some training. I'll send word when others can join me and you'll be able to come if you want, too. Until then, keep an eye out for your sister and Haru. You know how girls are.

Ryohei turned to Bianchi and said, "Tell him not to be too extreme." He smiled, knowing that Tsuna would get a good laugh out of him saying something like that. Both he and Tsuna knew that everything in life had to be lived to the extreme, but that was their little secret.

Hibari was sitting in his Reception Room. He was trying to decide if he should be pleased or angry over the letter that the little Chinese girl had brought him. He'd had fun this past year playing with Sawada, both of them eventually coming to a point where they were near equals in power. Near being the operative word.

They had grown together, coming to a point in their spars where neither could hit the other, but the close calls brought excitement and thirst. Toward the end of this year, the power they both unleashed in their fights would have sent either of them into the critical care ward if they'd landed. The thought had drove them both to increase their speed. Faster for Hibari, who's thirst for blood ran deepest among the Guardians. Faster for Tsuna, who knew his life was forfeit if he was too slow.

It had been a good year, Hibari grinned.

But the damn shorty had skipped town, he thought. Hibari scowled as he looked over the letter again.

I'm getting out of the well. If you're interested, I'll let you come play eventually, too.
Sawada Tsuna

Hibari remembered the taunt that Dino had used several years before, calling him a 'frog in the well'. So, the brat was planning on seeing what he could find out in the world, Hibari thought as he polished his tonfas. He couldn't keep the smile from playing on the edges of his lips. Taunting aside, Hibari was quite interested to see how much stronger his prey could get. If it took leaving beloved Namimori, so be it.

"If you're going to get stronger, I might be willing to come play," he said to the paper as he decided to be pleased.

"Kufufufu," Mukuro's laugh came from Chrome as they read their letter. Ken and Chikusa were watching quietly from the side. "So, our little ugly duckling has went to get new feathers. I can't wait to see if they'll be white or stained red. Either way, it's going to be interesting."