Summary: Genderbender!verse. Squalo and Xanxia.
The new girl stands like a princess. She's beautiful, long black curls, soft white skin, and elegantly-boned face, her long maybe-she's-born-with-them lashes lowered over narrowed eyes like she can't be bothered to lift them for the class. Or anyone, really. She certainly can't be bothered to pay attention to the teacher, who lives selectively blind to the fact that the exclusive private school is frequented by wealthy children picked up everyday by men in black suits. Squalo can already hear the princes and princesses of the mafia stirring. Who is this? What family is she from? And- their killer instincts honed from blood speaking- Where's she going to fit into the pecking order?
She's seated in the back row by dint of height. She looks dreamy, disconnected, as soft and civilian as any normal girl. Possibly she's just fallen asleep, or maybe she's fucking stupid, because no girl Squalo knows has ever walked into a room without sizing up the competition. Or has been able to ignore the other girls sizing up theirs. Either way, she's going to be eaten alive.
Squalo has been a minor queen in this school ever since she first picked up a sword. It's known to those in the know that her ambition is to head the Varia someday, the Vongola's killers. Therefore, she's relatively safe from the grasping, ambitious princesses who come everyday and claw at each other for a shot at the bosses-to-be.
Girls don't become dons. It's a fact of their existence, and it's what drives the only daughters to catch the eyes of younger sons or older ones, in line with the dangerous, petty politics of the men in power.
The queens of the school take the new girl out behind the soccer field to have a little 'chat'. Squalo wanders over because Dino is out with his new home tutor, and she refuses to admit that she has nothing better to do during lunch without him there, now that school's in again and her father wants her in to make contacts.
She turns the corner around to the sight of one of the girls sliding down a wall, sobbing, her delicate nose broken. Squalo gapes.
The new girl- Xanxia, they said her name was Xanxia- stands in the middle of crumpled, sobbing girls, hard-eyed glorified thugs in designer shoes one and all. Those girls aren't pushovers, and Xanxia has just taken them all out without any apparent effort.
The new girl turns- and Squalo feels the breath go out of her lungs. Her eyes are wide-open and glaring, now, (How could I ever have thought she was dreamy) angry, angry. On one clenched fist is the- the- the fucking Vongola dying will flame.
Everyone has heard of the flame, even if no one has seen it. The Vongola, the most powerful family ever. The one with an aging boss and the Varia, the seat of Squalo's ambitions.
"Hey," says Squalo, excited, blood racing. "HEEEYYY, who the fuck are you?"
She's crashed into the wall faster than she can blink. Strong. The new girl is so strong.
"Who are you?" demands Xanxia, and Squalo is taking back all her thoughts about dreamy little airheads because this girl is such a pissy little bitch, and intense intense intense around the edge of sense like fear.
"I'm the future fucking head of the Varia," spits out Squalo past the hand at her throat. It's got gun calluses. Fucking gun calluses. Who is this girl? "I said, who are you?"
"I'm the future fucking boss of the Vongola," sneers Xanxia back at her, "You want a piece of me, trash?"
Xanxia may have the flame, but Squalo has a knife.
"Hey," says Squalo. Xanxia is kicking someone's ribs in. "Let me be your second!"
"My what?" kick. Kick. Those boots fucking hurt, and Squalo knows this because of the bruise rapidly forming on her shin.
"Your second. Your beta. When you become boss, I'll support you!"
"Think I need your fucking support, trash?"
"I'm not fucking trash," snarls Squalo. A shallow gash on Xanxia's face is testament to this. The older girl may never forgive her, if her previous shrieks of my face, my perfect face are any indication, but what the hell, what's the life of a mafia anything without a few scars? "I just didn't have my sword with me. I'm a swordswoman! And I'm the best there fucking is."
"Tyr," says Xanxia, bluntly, spitefully.
"On the way out," says Squalo. "I have to kill him before he's old and senile, otherwise people might think I cheated."
Xanxia laughs. "My father is already old and senile," she informs Squalo. "Imagine, raising my fucking cousins over his own damn daughter."
Squalo grins. "See? You need me."
Xanxia's rage is hidden again behind her lids, bloodlust sated. But it's there, Squalo can feel it. Wants to follow it. "Trash should be seen and not heard," she says, prissily, and walks away. Not a single goddamn hair is out of place, and she's overturned the squabbling little cliques in less than an hour.
The new girl stands like a princess, but she acts like a fucking queen.
The scars on her lovely face spread and invade, red and angry and sullen. She's sitting in a throne-like chair in darkness, whiskey before her, spinning a gun lightly around in her hand. Every single mirror in the mansion is smashed. Blood drips from her hand.
"…Kinda makes the scratch I gave you back then really fucking fade in comparison, huh," says Squalo, queen of sensitivity.
Xanxia doesn't say a word. Members of the Varia have all but vacated the headquarters, and only those ones who are really fucking sure of their ability to dodge a flame bullet are sticking around. This is what they do when the boss's in a mood.
Squalo's almost fourteen again, except that she isn't. Except that she doesn't know who this person is, her head hunched until her hair covers her face, silent and contained. Doesn't know what's happened to the queen of the Varia, her angry, alive boss.
…well, screw sensitivity. "Hey, what fucking happened to you?"
"Were you jailed?"
"What did the ninth do?"
Nothing. This is getting annoying.
"Did aliens abduct you to make you their queen?"
Squalo steps forward, pulls back heavy hair to reveal the full extent of the work of a senile old man. Xanxia doesn't move.
"My face," she hisses. "Don't touch it."
"Getting all worked up over a few scars?" Squalo doesn't know how to do anything but push and push, and hope Xanxia pushes back. "Vooooiiiii, I thought you weren't shallow like that."
Bell waltzes into the room. "Ushishishi," she says, because Bell is fucking stupid like that. "Don't sit that way, boss, it's sooo ugly, I can't see your face, sit like I do. I sit like this cause I'm a princess," and Bell is all poise and arrogance and Squalo only just manages to tackle her out of the way before she dies.
"Princesses don't get shot at," she whines at Boss, because every single damn person in the fucking Varia spoils her and she was only eight when Boss was gone and shit, shit, what's Boss going to-
Xanxia laughs. She laughs while she's bent over in her chair, while she wobbles weak with laughter over to them staring at her like she's gone insane. She steps on Bell's hand. And laughs while the bones crunch.
"I'm not a fucking princess, trash," she informs the blonde, now shrieking like a fire alarm. Squalo is only dimly aware of this, considering it's going on an inch from her ear.
"I'm the next boss," snarls Xanxia, and sweeps out of the room.
The most unfair thing about her life, decides Squalo- the most fucking unfair thing, above the stupid fake rings and the stupid baby mafia ring-holders and Xanxia watching her lose and being only nearly eaten by a shark, was that Dino Cavallone had grown up kind of fucking hot.
Actually- make that really fucking hot, all clean hard muscle and perfect, perfect face, from a dorky little crybaby klutz of a loser set to inherit a failing family. Whom none of the girls had bothered with back in school except her, because he'd been no threat to anyone except himself, and even she got tired of fighting things that weren't yet there. Plus, he'd made a great punching bag.
And now this. He's never looked down on her before. It figures that she needs to be nearly dead, which makes her feel a little better.
After he's finished babbling to her about things she already knows, he sits down and closes his eyes, touching her hand. It might almost have been- urgh- emotional, except that there are five different guns trained on her near-dead head. And, despite how much cooler he's gotten, Dino will always be that pathetic little crybaby.
"So you see," he says, and focused eyes like chocolate-infused amber at her. "We need to know-"
"I don't kiss and tell, Cavallone…not that you'd know anything about that."
Dino flushes. Squalo hasn't talked to him in nine years, abused him soundly when she had, and tried to assassinate the man more like a father to Dino than his own ever was. Bastard must have his brains scrambled. What part of what she'd said to the katana-brat had given him the idea that she didn't want to die? "Tonight's the sky battle," he informs her. "Xanxia can't win."
"Fourteen," corrects Dino. "Small for her age."
"And she's scared," muses Squalo. "Acts like a civilian…small…weak…and Reborn for a tutor."
"She won't lose because she can't lose," says Dino, quite without the grace to blush.
"But even you don't think she can win."
Dino shrugs. "Reborn won't let her lose."
Squalo's heart sinks. That is the part of the equation no one can predict, the involvement of the famed Arcobaleno. "I want to watch it," she says, suddenly desperate. Xanxia- what is going to happen to Xanxia? What has been happening, while Squalo was dead to the world? Gola Mosca, Mammon. The knights falling one by one to open a path to the queen on her shattered throne. Boss needs her, has needed her since the first time. Why isn't she there?
Dino looks alarmed. "You- you can't! Your injuries-!"
"I'm not some fucking princess," growls Squalo through bruised lips, though Dino is undoubtedly some kind of prince, with his family, his face, his limitless heart. She'd known long ago that she could have gone to him anytime and he would have made her a queen among the Cavallone.
But Squalo has a queen of her own to serve, with rage in her soul and her heart locked behind her eyes. No golden prince can compare.
Xanxia's secrets drip from Squalo's lips like the tears she's never seen her boss cry. The princess is a pauper, plucked from the streets and destined to wound the heart that took her in. The real princess with her hands of fire and her eyes like ice stares at them all and doesn't understand that her throne is built on bodies, and that someday those bodies must rise again to life.
Needless to say, Dino has her on some truly excellent pain meds, and someday she'll gut him for adding the truth drugs. But that doesn't change that it won't be long before the runt learns. You learn quickly, in their world. It's no fucking place for children.
It's no fucking picnic for adults, either, when they go to war. The true queen of the Vongola dead, the strongholds of the kingdom falling one by one as the thousand flowers creep and overwhelm.
There's nothing for them, when even the sky has fallen. One and all, mist and cloud and storm and rain and sun and lightning, cannot exist without their sky. But Squalo has her own sky, beautiful and proud and regal like a queen, even with no crown and no throne.
Squalo is the sword empress now, with a name of her own among their people. Nevertheless, the sight of Xanxia calmly polishing the brains off her guns with Lus's favourite scarf in the middle of black-jacketed failures soothes a part of her jumpy over the non-reports from Cavallone. Sasagawa, shouting and- no, just shouting, inside the room with the heads of the families cowering under the protection of their killers. Bel rips up the constant coded messages of no change from spies, and almost makes them miss the one about the princess put into place of the queen. Xanxia snatches that one up with fervency and desperation, kicks her way into the room.
Try to stay alive until then!
Until then… Squalo grins at her boss, immaculate and elegant. Not a tangle, not an injury, not a spot of blood on her clothes- though that last may be because Xanxia makes Levi lick her boots.
"Ready to go, highness," she says, with a mock bow.
Xanxia snorts at her. "Fuck off," she suggests, as if inviting a don to dinner, or talking to her own dear mother. Or father, come to think of it.
"Don't be such a fucking queen," says Squalo back, and laughs.