Summary: AU where Tsuna is a girl and went to Italy as a child. Very AU.
Natsu wakes with Reborn gently nudging her face. With his foot. "Get up, Natsu," he says, squeaky and small and all together too smiley and serious at once.
"Ah," says Natsumi, gets up and dresses wincing at the stiffness of her bones, the pain like a dull ache flaring fresh and sharp with every movement.
It's two days after their 'victory' party. It's the day after Natsumi sends Lancia and Basil off to their own devices. It's the day Dino Cavallone sends the Varia to face mafia justice under armed guard.
It's time for Natsumi to say goodbye.
She shakes off Gokudera and Yamamoto, excusing herself while they're still in school. Reborn, unsurprisingly, is there waiting, sitting in Dino's sitting room serenely.
Dino's house looks like the place she grew up. He isn't here right now, so Romario shows her to the room where the Varia are being held.
You don't need chains to hold men who know they have nowhere else to go. If they even try to escape, they'll be handed straight over to the Vendicare.
"Come to gloat, bitch?" snarls Squalo, and then Natsumi hits him with her best 'fuck off' face- all icy contempt and barely-contained anger at being addressed. She hasn't put this face on since Reborn came into her life- put a bullet through her brain that forced her to admit that she still wanted to live.
Natsumi has lots to live for. It's why she's always willing to die.
Squalo- and, behind him, Levi and Lus- flinch back. The Varia are cloistered on one side of the room, well away from Xanxus. Natsumi walks to him, places her hand on his arm soft and gentle.
And Natsumi smiles so sweet and bright, because it's him and she's missed him and she thinks, she thinks, oh God I love him so much.
Natsumi looks so damn happy. Just to see him? She should be glad he's going away, after all he's done to her. She looks so fresh and young in her school uniform, and maybe that would be the life she'd have led if she'd never met him- never gotten mixed up in a world that doesn't deserve her.
Except that she was the one who was born into it. All hail irony, and Xanxus is so, so tired that even that thought fails to stir his rage.
"Why're you here?"
Natsumi shrugs. She moves over to lean on the wall, and her long brown hair just brushes his shoulder as she passes behind him. "They're moving you today. I suppose I'm here to see you off." She hesitates. "Re- Reborn said Uncle was doing better."
Xanxus grunts. Natsumi presses on. "I-I see that Squalo-san is looking better. You- your hands, they should be okay, right? Yamamoto-kun will be glad to know that he's okay, he was really worried after the battle and he's going to be okay too, it's just his eye needs to be covered for a little while and Gokudera-kun was a bit worried although he acts like he isn't and-"
"Stop talking like everything's okay," growls Xanxus.
Natsumi stops, and breathes deeply, exhaling through her nose. "Isn't it?" she says, with a touch of pleading in her voice.
"Is it?" He stares at her. There's no way he'll allow her to back down.
She bites her lip. "No," she admits.
Xanxus breathes. "You!" he barks. "You trash, get out."
"The prince can't hear," whined Bel.
"Seriously," snarled Gokudera, "You shut the fuck up, or we'll never hear anything."
"Aren't you stupid little brats supposed to be in school?" whisper-shrieked Squalo. If Xanxus hears them, they'll be murdered. They will, dying will breakthrough or no.
Yamamoto laughs. "Hibari's looking for Natsu-chan," he said. "We tried to find her and then we couldn't, so we came here. He might show up at any time, actually, so Natsu-chan had better be careful."
"How could Tenth have deceived us!" cried Gokudera. "She- To see that asshole- He should just go and die after what he's done to her!"
"She stole his birthright from him!" cried Levi.
"He raped her," said Yamamoto. "That's what he said he did, didn't he? Do you really think that that compares?"
The eavesdroppers lose their balance, landing in a heap of knives and dynamite and Varia. Yamamoto has one hand on the bag where he keeps Shigure Kintoki, and a dense tension descends on the would-be eavesdroppers.
"She was his girl," says Squalo suddenly.
"She was what?" says Gokudera. Dangerous Yamamoto is alien to him, and he's relieved to have someone to shout at.
"His girl," said Squalo. "Back then, she used to live in Italy, right?"
"Until she was twelve," said Gokudera. "So what?"
"So where do you think she lived, moron? With the Cavallone? She lived in the Vongola mansion with Xanxus and the Ninth. I saw her there before. I mean them. Together." Squalo drags his mind away from the logical conclusion, and continues, "Didn't realize it was her until just now- she's changed a lot."
"AJAKSF," says Gokudera. Yamamoto counts on his fingers. "So does that mean- she was twelve when he- because-" Gokudera convulses. "I'll fucking kill him."
Lus, Squalo and Yamamoto pile on to him to keep him from going through the door. Reborn appears, and kicks Gokudera none-too-gently in the face.
"Hasn't your sister taught you anything?" he said. "Don't interfere in matters of love."
"But he doesn't love her! He can't! He's-"
"A selfish little shit who couldn't give a damn about anyone else, okay? That's why I hurt you!"
"I know," she said. "I mean, I still like you. But you're kind of a jerk."
"Give the girl a prize."
She laughs. "I- I remember, the first time I met you. You saved me. You couldn't have cared less about me, but you saved me. And then after that- you- you were nice to me. For you. I mean- for a while."
Xanxus looks at her. And he says, "I'm sorry."
Natsumi chokes. "What?"
"I- I'm sorry I hurt you. I didn't-" and he stops, because anything he could say would sound like a lie. She reaches out, touches his useless hand.
"Thank you," she says. And she bent over him, presses her face to his for a long moment, breaths intermingling, then stands up.
"I missed you," she said, eyes focused out the window. It's nothing but endless sky. But later, it won't be like this again. There are too many things that clutter the sky.
But for now even a glimpse is enough.
And Xanxus realizes; he's never had to look at her back before.
When she says, "I don't want to be the Boss, actually," he laughs and laughs and laughs.