Disclaimer: Not mine.

This chapter is dedicated to my sister/beta who's leaving pretty soon for her independent study in who-knows-where. She's been the one pushing (and sometimes guilt-tripping) for this update, screaming at me not to make it too complicated as the genre is light romantic comedy. So, I'd like for her to see this chapter before she leaves. Thank her.

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"Wait, wait. Let's practice this one out." Lal Mirch waved her hand out at Colonnello while Reborn ignored both of them, bare-chested while doing push-ups on the ground. He grunted, counting in his head not just the number of sets he'd done but also counting the minutes they were still talking about this. For every minute they continued, he would add a month of planned mental torture against them.

Lal Mirch threw a ballpen at Reborn's head to make him pay attention to their dating simulation demonstration. He barely twitched as it hit and clattered to the floor. She cleared her throat to stop laughing and then simpered in a sickly sweet voice, "So, what kind of hobbies do you have, Reborn-san?"

Colonnello, the blond bastard, sniggered and in a mocking sleazy voice said, "I like to mind-fuck people. Body-fuck is okay too. You wanna try with me, kora?" He waggled his eyebrows and they both started cracking up.

Reborn resolutely counted and pushed. Pain would come soon. Yes, excruciating pain would come to impudent meddling bugs. For now, "I haven't realized your IQ's have dropped to that of a five-year old—"

"No, no wait," Colonnello was up to three years already of pain, pain, and more PAIN as he continued, "Not to worry, my little sweetheart, I'm ve~ery much loaded. In both ways." More idiotic guffawing from the peanut gallery. Reborn grit his teeth. He hated interrupting his own training regime just to deal with people.

"But! I'm scared of pain, Mr. Reborn. 'Cuz—" Lal Mirch fluttered her eyebrows, "—I've never really done it before."

The former Comsubin blond comically widened his eyes and then screamed at her, "Sexual Attack!" He pounced on her and they rolled, shrieking in laughter.

Then the living room door opened and Verde came in, mechanical goggles on his face and a tiny black machine whirring between two fingers. "I did it. I, honest to god, decrypted the effing code on this shit."

He stopped as he stared at the two hyenas on the floor and at the silently-getting-irritated Reborn. He shrugged then ignored the whole scene while babbling about his accomplishment. "It wasn't just a shot of phospho-soda (it's a laxative, Colonnello) but a tracking device too. They misjudged the dosage though." Verde frowned at the incompetency of the tiny machine. "Still, it's a good thing Reborn's got the muscles of a horse or this would have bowled you over."

Colonnello stood up and with a completely straight face opened his trap, "That's not the only thing that's the size of a horse."

This time all three of Reborn's ex-co-workers howled, laughing.

Reborn smiled secretively. Yes, pain was good.

He remembered the face of that smug kindergartener underneath that baseball cap… He had to give it to them, he conceded. It was a well-executed three-pronged attack. One main diversionary strategy had been used against him with a minor mishap aimed at taking out his companion at the time, Lal Mirch. It had also acted as a secondary red herring. But the real crime had been with the solitary kid near both Irie and Tsunayoshi. He'd barely even noticed.

After beating a hasty retreat with Lal Mirch distracting the teacher and his potemayo-sized students, Reborn had suddenly felt dizzy and disoriented. Then he'd started having cramps. He'd been drugged. It was the reason he was training heavily right now. Exercise would move the drug or laxative faster through his system.

"I can't believe that a kindergartener got you. A kindergartener. That's a shitty little six-year old. What the hell were you doing at the time? Ogling your new wife or something?" Verde shook his head, appalled while the dimwit couple behind smirked in tandem.

"Shut up, peacock. Analysis?" Reborn asked.

"Well, it's from that rising group, the Varia. Has their stamp on it, alright," Verde nodded, still squinting at the bug in wonder, "The style is like their Gola Moska generation, which—" and he rattled off the several components frequently used by the Varia but Reborn had shut him out by that time. Verde was an irritating chatterbox who liked hearing himself talk as even Colonnello and Lal Mirch were zoning out in front of the inventor.

It wasn't a listening device, he'd made sure. But it did give away his location which was troublesome. On the other hand, it wasn't his permanent house either. This was an apartment, one of the safe houses he collected. He barely had anything of use here. He decided then. It would be good to let it stay here. It gave no pertinent information to his enemies but it certainly gave him an advantage. He knew they knew he was here.

After kicking out the three loiterers, Reborn had taken a shower.

Reborn wrung his sopping black hair with a towel.

He grabbed his ringing blackberry and held it up to his ear. He listened for a while and said, "…Yeah. I found him…" He nodded a bit more as he listened to the hysterical voice on the phone. He stood then in front of the mirror and traced the large collection of scars across his skin. "…Stop your whining. A deal is a deal." Then he hung up on his annoying father-in-law.

Or future father-in-law, as the case might be.

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A cockroach dangled from the childish fist of Mukuro who was looking at him triumphantly.

Tsuna gulped down the oncoming bile. Face going wan and pale, he stuttered, "W-w-why, it's a, a wonderful p-present, Muku-chahyaaa!" The cockroach loomed closer in his face as Mukuro scrambled forwards and away from the rage of a jealous Gokudera who was declaring that the cockroach had been his present to Tsuna-sensei. Tsuna scuttled back as Mukuro stumbled forward and then he lost his grip on the insect which fluttered the short distance and landed on Tsuna's hair.

Their teacher burst out a short girlish scream.

Then Tsuna dry-heaved on the floor as a smiling Yamamoto plucked the insect and held it far away from him. "So, is this our classroom pet?" He held it closer and sniffed it. He opened his mouth and—

"Yama-chan, no!" Tsuna lunged and slapped the cockroach away from being eaten by one of his students.

Yamamoto stared at him reproachfully as Gokudera clung to Tsuna's leg, sobbing apologies to his beloved teacher.

Finally, Hibari stepped up and slammed a glass jar on the cockroach. As Hibari wiped the signs of sleep from his eyes and started to take damage control of the classroom i.e. punish the peace disturbers, Mukuro sidled over to Lambo who'd been perched on top of his desk.

He asked excitedly, "Did you get it? Did you, huh? It was awesome, right?"

Lambo sucked on his thumb and looked at him a bit apprehensively. "That was mean. Really mean. Tsuna-sensei doesn't like insects. Lambo-chan doesn't like insects either."

Mukuro scowled at his companion. "Well?"

They both looked around to make sure no one was listening. And finally, Lambo nodded and handed the digital camera back to Mukuro who in turn slapped a bag of lollipops to the brat. He slipped it into his bag on the floor and rubbed his palms together. He liked Tsuna-sensei's face all scared and frightened. And blackmail was always useful. He snickered to himself, "Fufufu~"

Ryohei meanwhile had released the cockroach outside the classroom windows while singing an off-key farewell march for it.

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Tsuna sighed and held up the cage of the hamster up in front of his six students in their desks. "I figured it was time we all got an official class pet," especially after the last debacle with that cockroach. "His name is, um—"

Gokudera's hand shot up, "He's name is General Jelly Jiggler!" at the same time as Lambo who also squealed out, "It's NOT General Jelly Jiggler."

Ryohei perked up from his worksheets as the two in front of him, Gokudera and Lambo, started shoving at each other's faces. "What about Hamzilla? He's fat, it'll make him like that guy on the movies."

Yamamoto piped up, "I like it. Can I eat it?"

Both Lambo and Gokudera turned and yelled out several no's.

"Idiot. A better name for it would be Sir Hamzalot the third," and Mukuro nodded to himself righteously.

Hibari snorted and said, "You stupid fruit, the hamster dislikes that name, see?"

Mukuro turned towards him, eyes hard as flint, "What, you, you—" he floundered a bit for vitriolic insults that would not inspire the teacher's ire, "—you booger! As if you've got any better ideas." He turned up his nose snootily.

Before any fights exploded again, their teacher waved to get their attention and said, "Okay, you guys. We'll decide it on a vote," and he saw their perplexed faces and then explained, "and a vote is like this—"

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They decided on Hamstergeddon.

Apparently because it was fearsomely fat.

Tsuna assigned the feeding and cleaning shifts for Hamstergeddon and allowed them a few minutes before and after class to pet and cuddle with it. He was a bit happy they'd taken to the hamster so well. This would teach them about responsibility over someone's life and Tsuna felt proud of his students who had diligently followed his impromptu lecture on hamsters and politics and duties.

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"What is this?" Spanner shook the plastic bottle of something white and cheap-looking.

Tsuna wheezed out, "Yakult," as he hauled his laundry from outside the hallway. Whose great idea was it to put the laundry room of the apartment building all the way down in the basement? Five sets of staircases. It was enough to give him a heart attack. He dumped the bag of clothes by the door of his room and turned to face his roomie, "It's healthy you know?" He frowned at the mess of wires and tools that Spanner had made on their dining table.

The engineer mouthed out the words on the bottle, "Live Lactobacillus casei shirota strain…" He looked up at the teacher in disbelief then stopped. A jolt of lightning ran through Spanner as the brunet made that expression housewives did after seeing their respective spouses making a mess on the floor. It was a crinkle of mouth, nose, and eyebrow in perfect synchronization highlighted by a splash of annoyed pink on the cheeks.

He opened his mouth in automatic, "Will you please marry me?"

Tsuna laughed, a bit uneasy. What was it with people and their jokes? That had been the fifth proposition this week, counting his students too. "Well…no. Sorry. And tonight, you'll have to eat alone. I have to go and meet my fiancé for dinner. He just came from abroad, from Italy."

And then Byakuran bounded into the room with a squeal and jumped onto Tsuna, knocking him onto the floor.

And started to lick the teacher's face, barking happily. He was technically Spanner's Australian terrier but for some undecipherable reason, Byakuran held his owner in acidic contempt but absolutely doted on Tsuna. Wherein every morning Spanner got his fingers gnawed off for a wake-up call, Tsuna got a face-licking.

Spanner hated the dog too. He fed it as much as he could of that horrible pasta-and-meat dogfood.

"Sorry, Byakuran, I don't have any doggy treats right now…" Tsuna said. And that dog still squirmed excitedly around on the teacher's lap.

Spanner sent an icy stare at the dog, "Where did your parents find this Reborn?"

Tsuna hummed while rubbing the base of Byakuran's large floppy ears with his fingertips. "Apparently, he's a friend of a friend of dad's. Ever since I came out to them, they've been really supportive with me (-they switched from setting me up with girls to guys). I hadn't even realized you could have a gay 'modern' arranged marriage," he paused. "At least, that's what mom calls it."

Byakuran had a stupid dreamy smile. He was drooling too, noted Spanner in disgust. Why did he keep that idiot dog around…? Oh, yes, because Tsuna would gut him into three thousand tiny pieces if he threw the dog out.

Spanner sighed as Tsuna finally stood up to toddle off to his room to prepare.

The troubles of having a roommate and a dog continued for the engineer.

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"Here, chocolate," Colonnello handed the ice cream to Lal Mirch as he sat down beside her on the park bench. Their bench faced the maze of roses situated in the southern part of Lal's precious botanical gardens.

They watched the tourists and kids walking about under the blue forget-me-not sky.

The blond started laughing. "God. I would never have imagined Reborn getting serious with another person. Never. It was all one-night stands for him. He always said he never had time for proper relationships."

Lal felt a grin growing even as she ate slowly. "It's like before, isn't it? When I met you and started working with you…I remember I was always distracted whenever you were in the same room. I always told myself it was because you were so annoying. And it's happening to Reborn this time."

Colonnello flushed even as his fingers found Lal's and twined around hers.

"Yeah, kora. I remember. That's nothing, though. Around you, I always felt dizzy and nervous, sooo nervous I thought I would puke every single day. I thought the whole time I was sick." He laughed, sheepishly. "And the shit I pulled to get your attention! At least I only had to deal with the other Comsubin members when I was dating you, yeah?"

Unsaid but acknowledged between the two of them was the fact that they still felt the same for each other all these years.

"Hey, 'Nello. You think we should warn Tsuna that Reborn's a sexual predator on the prowl for young innocent teachers?"

"Nah, let Reborn have his fun, kora. It's the least we can do."