Title: Ignorance is Bliss
Fandom: Katekyo Hitman Reborn!
Uneraseable Sin
Characters: Tsuna, Gokudera, Hibari, Xanxus
1827, some one-sided X27

Word Count: 6213
Rating: T
I do not own Katekyo Hitman Reborn! or any of it's characters and I'm not making any profit out of this.
The truth is not always kind, not always desirable…

Author notes: Well, I was watching OZ, you know the prison series by HBO, and the mafia guys in there acted more like the image I have of the mafia, not the romanticised version in Hitman Reborn. Don't get me wrong, I like Reborn (otherwise I wouldn't be writing about it) but let's face it, the way it portrays the mafia is a tad too idealistic (coughnaivecough).

"God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose. Take which you please; you can never have both."

--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Silently, Tsuna listened to Gokudera's latest report of the various actions and affairs of the Vongola and wondered how much of it was lies. Maybe he had been too trusting, too naive, for his position as the heir of Italy's most infamous crime family but even he could not be fooled forever – no matter how much he had wanted to be. But it was too late to take back what he already knew and he found it a bit sad that no one even thought about just telling him the truth, brutal as it may be. The thought was just a tiny bit ironic, given his vehement protestation from long ago that he wasn't mafia and never would be and here he was, mourning the fact that he wasn't more involved. Not that it mattered anymore what had been; he was still stuck in this situation with no way out except in a casket.

A casket… he had seen the inside of a casket many years ago in another reality, had felt the very real breath of death tickle his neck. A reality that he had fought so hard to change, and for what? Could this reality really be said to be so much better even if all of his friends and their families were moving around instead of being six feet under, embedded into cold, unrelenting soil?

It was true he had taken everything said to him at face value, seen all facts and figures presented before him as the utmost truth, convinced beyond reason that his friends wouldn't lie straight to his face. Perhaps that was why it was so difficult to swallow when he discovered that it was not the case of just a couple of lies or just a few well-meaning omissions of truth but a sea of deception that spanned years in the making. What had happened to that sharp intuition he had begun to pride himself on? Where had it gone? More importantly, when had the words pouring out of his friends' mouths turned so sweetly false?

"…expected to be finished later this week," Gokudera's sharp, business-like tone cut through Tsuna's musings and he shifted in his dark, and embarrassingly expensive, leather chair, tapping his fingers nervously against the old mahogany desk he had received as a gift from the Ninth when he had first moved into his office.

Gokudera took so much pride in his work, he always had, as Tsuna's right-hand man and not for the first time Tsuna wondered how many corpses the silver-haired mafioso had crawled over to reach the top. It was true enough that Gokudera had had a fairly good shot at the position solely for the virtue of wearing the ring of storm on his hand as well as being Tsuna's first real subordinate. But guardians had been passed over for the role Gokudera coveted so badly more than once in the history of the Vongola. A ring did not guarantee anything and the man his grumpy-faced but heartbreakingly earnest friend had grown into was not someone who left things to chance. And Tsuna had learned over the years that if a man was willing to die for a for a particular honour or cause then it also stood to reason that he was willing to kill for it.

Biting back the bile rising in his throat, Tsuna cut his friend off with a sharp motion of his hand. "You can go now, Gokudera-kun."

"Are you alright, Tenth?" Gokudera asked him, his brows furrowing in a way that Tsuna had in his youth mistaken for anger but that now only sent a sharp, intense sense of nostalgia running through his heart instead of fear.

"I'm fine," he said and he could see the uncertainty flashing in Gokudera's eyes but the man had no choice but to act like he believed him because for him there was no other alternative, in his world Tsuna's word was absolute. Even if he had doubts he would force himself to believe whatever Vongola Decimo told him until he could swear up and down on his mother's grave that it was the very soul of truth. "When are the others coming back?"

"Yamamoto is flying in tomorrow and Ryohei will be back at headquarters this afternoon," Gokudera said, irritation colouring his voice. "Lambo is still tied up with business in New York and who knows where Hibari and Mukuro are, you know they never bother to report in regularly."

"Alright," Tsuna said. "Is there anything else that I should know?"

"Nah," his right-hand man said. "Nothing important. Not about the other guardians at least. But you might want to go over the budget cuts Antonio Liggio suggested."

'Nothing important, huh?' Tsuna thought. It wasn't important that Yamamoto was flying home after killing three men because they knew some rather inconvenient facts? Just like it wasn't important that Ryohei was probably at this very moment in the process of breaking another man's kneecaps and ribs over an admittedly staggering gambling debt? Or that Dokuro's slight hands directed the Vongola drug trade under the careful machinations of Rokudo Mukuro? Didn't it even matter that the driving force behind the family's money laundering was only seventeen and already had a hand in Mukuro's business? Thus was mafia life, he supposed, but wasn't the boss (boss-in-training really) someone who should know these sort of things?

'Gokudera-kun, would you tell me if I asked? Would you be honest with me?' He wanted to believe that, he so desperately wanted it to be true. Even if their relationship had started of on the wrong foot and the brasher, younger version of the silver-haired mafioso had scared him he had also become one of his closest friend. Maybe Gokudera would tell him, but if he thought it was for Tsuna's own good, then he would lie until his tongue turned blue.

"Are there any problems?" He asked instead, leaning forward over his desk. A prickling sense of foreboding was crawling up his spine.

The silver-haired man grimaced as he took out a pack of cigarettes still encased in protective plastic wrapping. "Liggio wants to cut Varia's funding in half."

Tsuna raised his eyebrows incredulously.

"I know," Gokudera continued, holding his hand in front of his mouth as he lit a cigarette. "It's a fucking ridiculous idea but he has had it in for them ever since Squalo humiliated him in that duel two years ago. The bastard should have just been grateful he was still alive. God knows there wouldn't have been enough left of him to bury if you hadn't interfered."

He exhaled a blow of smoke with the habitual elegance and indifference of a chain smoker before he continued. "Liggio has been working on some of the more greedy money-grubbers in the allied families, trying to convince them that since Varia is halfway autonomous it barely qualifies as a part of the Vongola and shouldn't receive as much funding as it does. He's also been implying that the money could be better spent elsewhere."

"Elsewhere?" Tsuna asked feeling the beginnings of a headache forming.

Gokudera took another drag of the cigarette dangling between his long fingers and smiled derisively. "I have no proof but I don't think guessing it's his and his supporters' pockets would be too far off target. I thought we would have time to go through it and find a way to reject it without pissing off Liggio and his little lackeys too much but doesn't seem like that'll work out."

"What's the trouble?" Tsuna asked, even though he knew the answer couldn't be good with the worry lines etching deeper between Gokudera's brows.

"Xanxus scheduled an appointment for noon tomorrow," his right-hand man said finally. "He'll arrive early in the morning."

And knowing Liggio's inability to let a good opportunity to taunt any of the Varia slip by, protected as he would be by the strictly enforced peace of the Vongola headquarters, chances were it wouldn't take long for Varia's boss to find out what was happening.

Closing his eyes, Tsuna sighed. "I'll look through it."

"I left it at the top of the in-pile on your desk, now if you'll excuse me," Gokudera said and even without looking, Tsuna knew that he bowed deeply before exiting the room. Leaving only a few wisps of smoke trailing behind him and the echo of a heavy door closing in his wake.

Tsuna stayed behind, pouring over Liggio's budget proposal. Page after page of dry, boring text that made him wonder if all that complicated and high-handed jargon was really necessary for a single suggestion. More then once he would interrupt his reading for a coffee break, downing the bitter drink like a man dying of thirst even as it made him grimace in distaste and wish he had a better head for reading. Some boss he turned out to be, he thought and wished he was as good as Gokudera at these sort of things.

A few hours later he would have welcomed any kind of interruption, even an impromptu visit from Lambo's past self. But not as much as a single soul knocked on his door as he worked on, probably held off by some sort of threat from the storm guardian. He almost wished someone would just barge in but there was no one left at the base who had the guts to go against Gokudera's volatile temper. Sasagawa Ryohei was the only guardian expected back soon but he would spend the first hours with his sister and then go straight to the gym to train as usual and completely forget that he should have reported back to Tsuna immediately once he had returned to headquarters.

The loud, endlessly repetitive tick-tock of the enormous grandfather clock in his office grated on his nerves and reminded him of the mind-numbingly boring hours that lay ahead. And true enough, when he finally staggered out of his office it was already well past midnight and his eyes felt like hot coals under heavy eyelids. He felt small and incredibly tired, his bones aching from sitting cramped up in his office all day. All in all it was all too much like being regular no-good Tsuna again and not very much like the respectable young mafia boss he was supposed to be – even though putting 'respectable' in the same sentence as 'mafia boss' had to be some sort of oxymoron.

There was a queasy feeling in the pit of his stomach at the thought of facing Xanxus. Although twelve years had passed since the ring conflict and even though Xanxus had, for undisclosed reasons, grudgingly agreed to work with Tsuna rather than against him his anger still burned as brightly as before and several times more dangerously. A snort of laughter burst out of him unwillingly. Tsuna didn't know what was sadder, that he had already resigned himself to the fact that his office would be burnt to a crisp, or the chill of fear that still gripped his heart at the thought of his scarred former rival. How pathetic was that on a scale of one to ten?

The fresh air of the empty hallway pushed away some of his tiredness and he quickened his step, the sound of his shoes hitting the floor in a steady pace was muffled by a thick, blue carpet, with intricate designs worked in gold. Without much thought he stepped right onto the gold weaving of the Vongola crest that was placed outside of his room and walked through the doors.

It was almost pitch black, the only light was provided by the moon as it shone through the large windows of his almost apartment-like room. Instantly a chill ran down his spine, a warning system developed through surviving years of repeated assassination attempts. Was it a hitman or a man with a grudge? Without time to think more deeply about it, he forced himself into Hyper Dying Will mode just in time to dodge what would have been a killing blow had he been a normal man.

"You're slower than usual," a familiar, dispassionate voice told him, speaking in their native Japanese – a language Tsuna only rarely had any use for anymore.

Letting his shoulders drop in relief he straightened from his defensive crouch with a sigh but let the dying will flame continue burning as he watched Hibari step into the light of the moon. Aside from the fact that his suit jacket was open and his black tie was hanging undone he looked the same as always. Dark suit, red dress shirt on a slim, well-trained body and a casually disinterested face. Those that didn't know him, or hadn't heard of his reputation, would never have guessed that underneath that regal and refined exterior hid an unparalleled eagerness for violence and bloodshed for its own sake.

"Can't you say hello like ordinary people?" Tsuna grumbled, but his words had no bite to them. He had never been confrontational but the lack of infliction in his voice had more to do with the Hyper Dying Will mode than anything else. It was always a strange sensation, to go into this negative version of the Dying Will state. All his emotions came to him distantly, almost as if he were experiencing them second hand. It would be easy to stay in this mode, to never really feel again, even though he knew it would eventually kill him from exhaustion. It would be easy, because in this state even fear couldn't break through the alert numbness he was in. In Hyper Dying Will mode, death was just another motion of life, as inevitable as the tides, and the when became strangely unimportant.

But to stay in Hyper Dying Will mode meant he had to abandon those he cared about, those he owed so much he could never truly pay them back, and he couldn't do that. If it weren't for him, if it weren't for him they wouldn't…

"There is no point in fighting you while you're like this," Hibari said, his voice interrupting Tsuna's thoughts. It was his way of telling Tsuna he could relax; there would be no more surprise attacks from the cloud guardian this night.

The crackle of his flame went out almost instantly and he sagged a little toward the floor as he felt his power sinking to a more normal level and swayed as his emotions returned to him in a rush. He fumbled his way over to his unnecessarily extravagant king-size bed, sank down on it and kicked of his shoes. He struggled to get out of his crisp shirt, pulling at his tie, throwing clothes down on the floor at random as he discarded them. When he was done he let himself fall back onto the bed, arms spread wide, wondering when things had become so complicated.

"Are you just going to stand there?" He asked without shifting his gaze from the ceiling.

Without a word Hibari slipped out of his clothes, letting them join Tsuna's on the floor in a tangled heap. With the first kiss that touched his lips Tsuna lost himself in their carnal act, letting his lover's burning touch chase away the bone-weary tiredness that had held him in a firm grip for several days. He couldn't voice what exactly was between Hibari and him, not because he didn't want to but because he didn't fully understand it himself. Hibari always came and went as he liked and could only barely fit the term 'ally' and Tsuna was sure that ordinary terms like 'friend' or 'boyfriend' would never even enter the same sphere as the cloud guardian. They had so little in common, both in regards to interests and temperament that the idea of a real relationship between them should have been laughable.

He ran his hands through Hibari's hair; damp and sticky from something more than just sweat but he was too busy trailing butterfly kisses down Hibari's neck to fully concentrate. He had no idea what he saw in his dark-haired lover that made him crave his company, his mere presence, just as much as he longed for his touch, he just did. But he found it even stranger that the cold man who hated having people around him seemed to return at least a small fraction of those feelings, it didn't make any sense at all. But then, some things, no matter how twisted or strange, didn't really need to have much to do with any kind of good sense. Sometimes, it was nice just to feel. With a gasp, he let the last of his rational thoughts slip dissipate and kissing Hibari desperately as he felt him push into him, leaning on his elbows over Tsuna.

Afterward, Tsuna lay on his back, spent but wide awake. He could feel the lack of sleep creeping like an itch beneath his skin, urging him to sleep, but his eyes wouldn't listen and slumber refused to come to him. Turning his head he looked at Hibari who lay on his back next to him, his dark head resting on a royal blue pillow. Twelve years ago he had never imagined the dark-haired man would still be in his life. Twelve years ago he wouldn't have wanted him to be.

"Do you ever regret it?" he asked softly. "Joining the Vongola…"

The cloud guardian opened his eyes and glanced at him out of the corner of his eyes. Just looking at him with that blank, unreadable stare that Tsuna had always found nerve wrecking. "Once a decision is made there is no point in regretting it," he said after a while, a hint of annoyance creeping into his tone at having his sleep disturbed.

"You didn't answer my question," Tsuna said quietly. "I guess I shouldn't be surprised, you never do."

The silence between them wasn't uncomfortable but when Hibari didn't say anything he felt compelled to continue the conversation on his own. "I don't know why you're here, why you're with us."

His lover raised an eyebrow. "I'm here, does the why really matter?"

Tsuna laughed quietly. "I guess not."

It had been a very personal question so it didn't really strike Tsuna as surprising that the cloud guardian evaded answering. Hibari had always been very private person; even Tsuna barely knew anything at all about him and his past. Tsuna had never even seen as much as a photo of Hibari's family, and he had to have had one at some point in his life because despite popular opinion among the Vongola Hibari hadn't just crawled out from underneath some grave like a vengeful ghost. Perhaps Reborn would know, he always seemed to know everything about everyone, but Tsuna didn't want to ask him. Not only because he knew from experience that the price for the information would probably be quite painful but also because it felt wrong somehow, almost as if he was betraying Hibari's confidence. Whatever it was, he didn't want to know like that. If possible, he wanted to hear the words from Hibari's own mouth and not just about his family. Tsuna wanted to know everything Hibari was willing to tell him – no matter how long it took for him to say it.

Most of the time Hibari was a hard and cruel man, more like the monster mothers scared their children with than a knight in shining armour, and even Tsuna had never contested that. But while he was not exactly what anyone would call a gentle lover, Tsuna was sure Hibari was treating him more carefully than he had ever treated anyone else. With a small smile, Tsuna curled up next to him, close enough the feel the comforting warmth of the other's body heat but with enough distance to let Hibari rest peacefully. Grateful that his lover, who knew the intricate tips and turns human behaviour the way only a predator could, never answered the silent question at the heart of Tsuna's misery, the question that showed so clearly through his body language. It was a small gesture but it warmed him from the inside.

He didn't know when he fell asleep, but when he woke up, alone as always, and cast a bleary eye on the clock radio on his nightstand the numbers eleven and twenty-five were blinking warningly at him. It took a minute or two for his mind to process the figures, then his breath caught in his throat, panic holding him in its grip, and he shot out of bed and ran for the bathroom linked to his bedroom at lightning speed. Hurriedly he turned on the water in the shower, pausing as he noticed the dried blood spread out over him. It wasn't his blood. His eyes widened as he remembered that Hibari's hair had felt strangely damp and sticky earlier. Suddenly he didn't want to know whose blood it was and scrubbed it off furiously under the steaming hot spray from the showerhead. He quickly dried his hair off; using the hairdryer Haru had given him a couple of months earlier.

Frantically searching through his wardrobe, he grabbed the first acceptably expensive and stylish suit he could find; desperately unwilling to insult Xanxus by showing up in shabby clothes. He dressed in racer speed and was out the door and sprinting down the hallway soon after, his feet barely scraping the carpet. He ran as fast as he could, only slowing down when he spotted Xanxus already waiting for him, leaning back against the wall beside Tsuna's office doors decked out in the standard heavy, mid-thigh black leather coat of the Varia. No doubt the man had noticed the not so subtle approach of the tenth Vongola boss but his eyes continued to glare straight ahead, focused on the cold, grey eyes of the cloud guardian who stood straight across the hall from him. A single thought ran instantly through Tsuna's head.

'Oh crap!'

Just when things couldn't seem to get worse…

"Xanxus!" He exclaimed, detesting the slight quiver in his voice at the thought of the violent scene that had happened last time the two men had met and the unfortunate that had become casualties in their personal little war simply for not moving out of the way quickly enough.

Slowly Xanxus shifted his pale brown eyes with their exotic orange tint away from Hibari until they rested on Tsuna and a lazy, joyless smile spread across his face. "Sawada Tsuna, we have an urgent matter to discuss."

'He knows,' was the first thought that struck him under the heavy weight of Xanxus' gaze. 'No, he knew even before today…'

Tsuna had always found the way his former enemy, not quite ally looked him a bit disturbing. His burning, intense stare was more like a pair of scorching flames and somehow Tsuna was convinced the man was imagining Tsuna's slow and gruesome death over and over again. The pressure from that stare made it hard to breathe and his heartbeat thudded nervously in his ribcage.

'I defeated him,' he thought, his mouth suddenly turning uncomfortably dry and he had to force himself not to take a step back. 'I can handle this. I can.'

But he knew he didn't really believe it. He had only won against Xanxus once, many years ago when all he held dear was at stake. Now, when there was no one else to protect, he didn't know if he could scrounge up that kind of miracle again. It was impossible to accurately measure Xanxus' current level of strength, all he knew was that he was powerful. What would happen between the two of them depended entirely on his former rival, depended on what move he decided to make. How many people would follow Xanxus, Tsuna wondered, if he rebelled once again, tired of an oblivious and soft-hearted boss?

It was Hibari who broke the silent stand-off, placing himself between them, his back purposely displayed like a flag of war toward Varia's boss. He stretched out his hand, holding a crisp, delicate-looking envelope as if it were a grand prize of some kind, a chill smirk settling on his lips. Thankful for something to distract him from this nightmarish situation, Tsuna ripped the envelope open without much finesse and scanned the content and understood the reason for Hibari's smirk. It was hard to breathe, blood draining from his face. Why? Why was it always like this? Glancing at the waiting Xanxus, he now knew how to resolve this situation and he wished he didn't. One more, one more on his growing list of sins.

A hand placed firmly on his shoulder brought his attention back to Hibari, Hibari who would never understand the tragedy he had handed Tsuna so calmly. Hibari who was made for this life he lead of violence without end, stepping down his chosen path without ever looking back and asking: what if?

The cloud guardian leaned into him, his lips on Tsuna's neck, just below his ear in what couldn't look like anything other than a lover's embrace to the assassin watching them with fierce eyes.

"Say the word," Hibari whispered, his voice feather soft, "and the monkey king will die."

A promise, a grand gesture not for the sake of his own grudge but for something else, breaking the cloud guardian's characteristic selfishness. But Tsuna only shook his head, biting back the tears that stung his eyes unwillingly. He was sick of death, so sick of it. It piled down on him, more and more, weighing him down with its oppressive stench.

"Are you done yet?" Xanxus snarled.

Clearing his throat, a bit embarrassed at having his former would-be killer witness the scene, even if it wasn't exactly what those who witnessed it would think. "What? Oh right, the appointment… We should really get started, I mean know you probably don't have a lot of time to waste here," he babbled.

Xanxus made a sweeping gesture with his right hand, his mouth in a grim line. Lead the way.

"Right," Tsuna said nervously, feeling as if he had been transported back in time to his middle school days at Namimori junior high when this had all started, and opened the heavy door to his office, wishing he had made it automatic like the rest of the high tech headquarters.

Xanxus followed him silently, but Tsuna could practically hear the flames crackling underneath the other man's skin. For a moment they just stood there, the ticking of the grandfather clock audible in the background. "So do you want to sit down or–"

Before he could react, he was slammed up against the wall and air was rushing out of his lungs unbidden. Xanxus' has him pressed firmly against the dark blue tapestry; a hand squeezing his throat tightly and for an agonisingly long moment Tsuna thought it was all over, that this was the end of him. But when the pressure from the long, strong fingers didn't increase he realised that Xanxus had no intention of killing him, not yet at least.

"Your Italian has gotten better, scum," Xanxus said, a small smile playing on his lips and for a second Tsuna was struck how handsome his face was despite the rough scars.

If Tsuna hadn't known better, he would have thought it was genuine, but Xanxus never smiled the way normal people do. There is always something behind it that twisted an innocent, harmless gesture into something horrible. Always, because Xanxus didn't know any other way to be.

"Thanks," Tsuna wheezed, not knowing what else he could possibly say to the man who could kill him in a heartbeat at the slightest provocation.

Xanxus smile grew into a wide Cheshire grin and Tsuna's discomfort increased with it.

"How does it feel," he said, lowering his voice into a strangely intimate whisper, "to wash your friends blood off after a night of passion."

He spat out the last word, the sheer amount of venom in his tone enough to make a brave man quiver with fear, and Tsuna could feel the heat in Xanxus hand scorching the skin of his throat. The sickening smell of burnt flesh rising lazily through the air

"What?" Tsuna coughed out, the tightening grip on his throat making it difficult to speak, then his mind flashed back to his shower not so long ago and the trail of red that had slurped down the drain.

"Two days ago," Xanxus said, "two dear friends of yours decided they wanted to strike out on their own and as a little start they borrowed a kilo of heroin from you."

"No," he whimpered, he didn't want to hear anything more. He already knew the consequences for that sort of action; he didn't need Xanxus to tell him. He could barely understand why the man would even bother to find out something like that but he knew that it couldn't be for anything good.

"They do seem to like sending him after traitors," Xanxus continued, ignoring Tsuna's feeble pleas. "Anyone else would have a difficult time torturing their former comrades," he leaned closer, his breath hot against Tsuna's neck and his mouth curving into a cat that ate the canary smile next to his ear, " but not Hibari Kyoya."

Then Xanxus released his grip on Tsuna, stepping back as he watched him sink to his knees, tenderly massaging the sore skin, a red handprint visible. "You know I hate to admit it, but your lover is first-class Varia material," he mused out loud, a mocking tone clinging to his voice. "It takes more than strength to make it in Varia, you should know that having met our best and brightest."

In his mind, unbidden, Tsuna recalled a man laughing, drenched in his own blood, and deliriously happy facing a battle to the death. Another man, a strange blend of masculine and feminine, talked about sickening desires only to fall down in a burst of blood. A child, little more than a toddler, showed off greed so deep no ethics could restrain it and met his match in a man who made cruelty an art. A mass of bolts and hard unforgiving metal with an unpleasant secret hidden in its core let loose fire on a group of people with too much gut to run. A heavy boot hit the defenceless form of a child loosing consciousness, any tears invisible in the rain and all cries drowned out by the thunder. And the words of a longhaired man echoed in his head:

"Now those brats will be a part of our world. One day, they will come to regret it. They'll wish they had died in this battle."

Looking up at Xanxus, Tsuna couldn't even muster a half-hearted glare. "We're here to discuss Antonio Liggio, not my personal life."

"True," Xanxus admitted, then continued without hesitation. "You're rejecting Liggio's suggestion."

So confident, Xanxus was always so confident. It was part of what made him such a terrifying man to face. Because no matter what happened, Xanxus would never falter or back down, it would never even cross his mind. He crushed every doubt in himself as mercilessly as he killed his enemies. But taking that tone with him, practically ordering Tsuna around was out of line. But he let the comment slide, there were more important matters in the works.

"You can have Liggio and Valachi and Buscetta," he said, naming the ringleaders, "but take care of it quickly."

"You're being uncharacteristically accommodating," Xanxus sneered at him.

Grimacing, Tsuna turned his head away, hesitating before he spoke. "They broke the omertá."

And that single sentence explained everything, and would absolve them both from the deaths, no, the murders, that were now inevitable. Tsuna had been those men's judge and jury, and soon Xanxus would be their executioner, but for all the power that was implied in those words, Tsuna had no more control over their destinies then they did anymore. His hands were tied by harsh mafia law that while he could bend it, he could never break it. But deep inside he knew there was more to it than just that, behind the anguish at dooming those three there was a hint of relief that only saw an easy way out of a difficult situation. And that hit him hard, like a punch in the gut.

"I see," Xanxus said, a serious expression fleeting over his face only for a second as he took in the pained look in Tsuna's face, then he burst out into raucous laughter. "That is fucking great! Those stupid fucks made their own damn nooses, that's priceless!"

The laughter, the same loud, mocking laughter from the ring conflict, struck a cord in him. He could still remember the raw terror and pain his conflict with Xanxus had brought him and now he was sending him out to do to other men what he had failed to do to Tsuna. Unable to take it anymore Tsuna got to his feet and fled the room, but not before he heard Xanxus' parting shot ringing out after him.

"Hey, scum!" Xanxus called out, the laughter slowly fading. "What happened to your mercy?"

His mind was a blank as he walked back toward his room, his legs moving on automatic. Xanxus laughter was still echoing in his ears. His throat felt tight and the beginnings of tear stung behind his eyelids, it almost felt like someone was squeezing his heart but he refused to let the tears fall. Tsuna just wanted to disappear into his room, to hide there and never come out. But the minute he saw Hibari Kyoya standing outside of the doors leading to his bedroom like a vigilant spirit he knew that wouldn't work. The cloud guardian would never let him hide.

For a minute, an endlessly long minute, Tsuna stood there, indecisive, and considered just turning around and leaving, to flee from Hibari and his blood-stained hands and searing kisses just like he had fled from Xanxus' intimidating presence and insightful jeers. But when Hibari turned his head to regard him with slanted grey eyes something tore in his heart and before he knew it he had stumbled the last few steps that separated them and crumpled against him, feeling strong arms snake around his shoulders. Neither of them said anything, Tsuna because he didn't think he could hold it in if he talked, Hibari because it wasn't in his nature to dole out sweet, comforting words.

The silence between them was deafening, and Tsuna was the first to break it. "I never wanted it to turn out like this," he said, his voice cracking.

"Liggio is trash," Hibari responded, his eyes narrowing as they travelled down from Tsuna's face to the glaring burn at the base of his throat.

"This isn't about him, this is about everything," Tsuna said, his eyes downcast. "About me, about all of us, about the mafia, everything."

And wasn't this the grandest irony of all? Here he was, pouring out his heart to a man so utterly divorced from his emotions that he barely qualified as human as if they were a normal pair of lovers. But the words wouldn't stop flowing out of his mouth; they rang through the air as if they had a life of their own.

"He always told me that the boss' duty was to protect those around him," he whispered, the tears he had been keeping in finally sliding down his face slowly. Then Tsuna's face twisted into a grimace with scrunched up eyes and a mouth open in a silent cry and his hold on Hibari's shirt tightened. "He lied to me. He lied to me."

Hibari's grip tightened around him as his sobbing quieted down but he still didn't utter a word.

"I can't protect anyone," Tsuna continued, his voice frail but toneless. "Not my subordinates. Not my friends. All I've ever done is ruin them. If it wasn't for me, they wouldn't have turned out this way… they could have been happy."

"They could be dead," Hibari told him.

"Is that really that much worse than what I've done to them?" Tsuna asked.

Then Hibari gave him that blank stare again. "They don't regret what they are, why should you?"

Maybe Hibari was right, maybe it didn't really matter, but he still wished he had never found out the truth. How could he continue looking his friends in the eyes, now that he knew what they did, what they did for him. He didn't want to look at them and see murderers and criminals. He didn't want to look in the mirror and find a godfather looking back but he didn't know if he could stop it from happening. Ignorance had really been bliss… but he couldn't pick that knowledge from his brain.

All he could do was stay there in the hallway, Hibari's arms wrapped around him, and cry until his insides were numb and maybe he could will himself to believe that it was only the web of lies that was slowly eating him up from the inside.

The End.

Author note: And to think when I started this fic, it was supposed to be 1-2 pages long… I have a feeling that the ending sucked but oh well, better luck next time. The ending is probably bad because well, this was supposedly only going to be about Tsuna being angsty that everyone had become real mafioso when he wasn't looking, then Gokudera snuck in and Hibari and Xanxus followed after…

Mukuro – Akaba