Chapter XXIX: Verba de futuro (Sawada Household / Namimori / Current Day)
A/N: I can't believe this is the final chapter of Vivi memor leti. The story will continue in its next story arc, Ex umbra in solem, the first chapter of which will be posted the same day this chapter is posted. Still, it's amazing that what started as a challenge for NaNoWriMo topped 100,000 words before moving into its second part.
As always, I have to thank Ai-chan and thi-hoai for sticking with me, Ai-chan as inspiration and thi_hoai as a patient and loving beta reader. They're moving on to the next story arc with me, which makes me very, very happy.
What will you see in Ex umbra in solem? You'll see more growth for all of the characters as they move towards adulthood. Of course there will be the fumbling and challenges of being teenagers growing into a dangerous world. There will be more glimpses of the future as well. I think that it will more than match up to its prequel, Vivi memor leti.
In the meantime, please enjoy the last chapter!
When Tsuna woke the following morning, the first thing he saw as his eyes opened was his Reborn, snoozing contentedly on his pillow. It didn't escape his notice that Reborn's feet were planted firmly on Tsuna's cheek, either. Obviously whatever Reborn had seen of the future hadn't fazed him, leaving him as smug and confident as ever. It was reassuring, in some soul-deep way, that whatever Reborn had experienced had left him relaxed enough to sleep so well and still assert his dominance over Tsuna.
Smiling, Tsuna gently tucked the covers around Reborn just a bit more before stretching carefully to try and work out the kinks in his muscles. Stretching, however, brought wincing as his body complained about the varied abuses of the past several days. He swore softly and tried to sit up, only to fall back down onto the bed with a pathetic groan.
"Stop squirming around, Tsuna," Reborn scolded him, leaning over and bopping him lightly on his head with his fist. "Lie down and rest. You're disrupting my beauty sleep."
"But I have school today, Reborn," Tsuna replied, trying to sit up and failing once again, this time whimpering at the ache that ran throughout his body. "I've got to meet Hayato and Takeshi to study before class or I'm going to fail that test. I didn't get any studying done at all last night, because of you."
"As much as it pisses me off to have you miss a school day," Reborn said, sitting up fully and looking over at him as calmly as ever, "you're in no condition to go today. I'd bet you wouldn't be able to sit still through one class, much less all of them, anyway." He smirked slightly, looking overly smug, and Tsuna turned a deep, dark red at the implications of that smirk. "It looks like you had an interesting evening while I was away."
"Um… well…" Flushing, Tsuna flailed mentally, trying to figure out what or what not to say.
Should he assume Reborn knew what had happened? Was he going to have to explain to him that they'd had sex together only it was the older Reborn who'd done it with Tsuna? He struggled for a long moment before noticing the evil gleam of amusement in Reborn's eyes. Tsuna held out an accusing finger, pointed right at Reborn.
"You're a worse pervert than I am in the future." There! That was better, he thought to himself. After all, he'd been the one who had been seduced this time, by someone who was clearly an adult, too. Although it still nagged at him how the Reborn of last night hadn't looked as adult as the Reborn he'd seen the night Tsuna had been shot.
"It must have been a very interesting evening then," Reborn replied, smirking more. "Did you learn your lesson, Tsuna?"
Tsuna's blush deepened, but rather than giving in to an instinctive outburst of panic, he took a calming breath and then nodded. "I did, very much so. Not just that, but I think it balanced me, a bit. I didn't realize how off center I was feeling from everything that's happened lately and how confused I've been. It made everything seem a lot simpler in the end."
In fact, every detail of the previous night was branded into his mind and he knew that he'd never forget the lesson he'd been given and the meaning behind it. It all broke down into very simple concepts in the end. Reborn was Reborn, no matter what body he was in. Reborn wanted Tsuna. Reborn had Tsuna regularly and enthusiastically in the future. Most importantly, however, was that Reborn loved Tsuna and Tsuna was his. It all made Tsuna a bit dizzy, and very shortly he flopped back onto the pillow next to Reborn, rubbing his forehead, cheeks still a bit pink.
"Don't think I'm gonna go all Bianchi on you, Reborn. I can't do the fan girl thing. You can feed yourself and I don't think I'd be good at the whole stalking thing," Tsuna grumbled at his tutor good-naturedly. "But since I always carry you everywhere and let you sleep with me every night you want to anyway, that's all fine. Don't think I'll be all girly and stuff, though. I'm a man, you know. There'll be no girly confessions or star-filled eyes." He huffed lightly, puffing his cheeks out indignantly.
Reborn chuckled and tucked himself back in comfortably. "I wouldn't have it any other way, Tsuna. You should always be yourself. Isn't that what I keep trying to tell you?"
What went unspoken between them was the new depth of understanding and acceptance they both felt. It brought an inner peace to each of them and a resolution that each recognized it in the other. The realization of that made Tsuna smile softly as he settled back in comfortably next to Reborn.
"You're right, Reborn," Tsuna told him, hand reaching out to brush all that crazy black hair, enjoying how soft it was to the touch. "I promise not to forget that again."
"Good, because things are going to get harder from here on, Tsuna," Reborn looked at him with serious eyes now. "The you of the future was incredibly stubborn about refusing to tell me much of anything. You kept going on about puzzles and solutions and I ended up beating you to get you to stop. Then you fed me and I forgot what I was asking about." Reborn flushed slightly at the memory of the older Tsuna, something which entertained the younger Tsuna quite a bit. "You're a lot more grown up ten years from now, but still way too young to be keeping secrets from me like that. Not when you still have some of that baby face of yours."
"You were the same way, so don't go complaining about me. All you said was that I had to solve the puzzle to make things right." Tsuna rolled that idea over in his head, combined with what he remembered from the dark and twisted future. "I know I'll figure it out somehow. I can't afford not to."
"There are a lot of changes coming, Tsuna," Reborn said quietly, not making a move to stop Tsuna's continued stroking of his hair, instead seeming to enjoy it. "We have to move you soon. It's not safe for you to stay in the house much longer, not after an attack like that last one. More importantly, we have to start looking more to the future now. Time is flying and you're growing up fast. I tried to keep as much of this as possible from you the past few years because I wanted you to have a chance to grow into being a good boss, but I can't hold it off much longer."
"I used to think at the end of each battle that I'd be able to go home and resume that normal, happy life. Those quiet days we all enjoy so much, you know? Now I'm starting to realize that maybe my job in all of this is to make sure that everyone else in the Family gets to have those days, whether I do or not. I feel like there won't be so many of them for me to enjoy myself anymore." Tsuna couldn't stop his fingers from continuing the petting, since Reborn was being so agreeable.
"You're learning, Tsuna," Reborn looked at him sadly. "Being the boss is the hardest of the jobs in the mafia. You have all the power of the organization at your fingertips, but the responsibility for all of that falls squarely on your shoulders. You're starting to see that more and more. Sending the Varia out like you have, knowing that you're tainting them as much as yourself is a good example of that."
"I hate it, Reborn," Tsuna's hand finally stopped as he met Reborn's eyes. "I hate that I have to ask them to do things like this, whether they mind doing them or not. But if there's one thing I've learned, it's that I'll do anything, anything at all, to protect our Family. If that means using the tools at my disposal, then I have to do that, as much as I hate it."
"You wouldn't be my choice for the next boss, or Iemitsu's, if you found it easy to make decisions like that, Tsuna. It's your conscience and your heart that make you the right choice. Loyalty is something that's hard to earn when you don't view your followers as something to be valued personally." There was something in Reborn's eyes that both saddened and encouraged Tsuna. It was a combination of regret for dragging Tsuna into such a dangerous world, and a fierce, violent pleasure that Tsuna was turning out the way that Reborn had hoped he would.
"No one is ever expendable, Reborn, not even our enemies. Not to me. I hate the idea of killing," his mind flashed back on the end of his battle with Byakuran in the future and the brutal end Xanxus gave Kikyo, and he shuddered slightly. "But if I have to choose between our Family and someone who wants to hurt our Family, I'll do whatever it takes to keep our people safe. I would do that whether I was the boss or not."
"And that, Tsuna, is where you are different from Xanxus as he was when you first met him, and when he was younger. You both have an inordinate love for the Family in your own ways, but Xanxus has a more brutal, ruthless mindset. To him, members of the Family are a set of tools, rather than people to be cherished." Reborn looked slightly sad at that. "I can't blame him in some ways. The Ninth should have forbidden the boy any contact with his mother. She was deeply disturbed."
Tsuna blinked at him thoughtfully. "Were you around, then, when Xanxus came to the Vongola, Reborn?"
"I've been around the Vongola for a long time, Tsuna, a very long time." The look in Reborn's eyes warned Tsuna away from that subject. It wasn't a deliberate warning like he was used to when he irritated his tutor. This was a wash a pain that flashed through those dark eyes that had always seemed so calm and reliable, even when furious.
"Well, I guess I'm glad you were still there when it came time to teach me," Tsuna grinned at him, trying to wipe away that pain with affection. "I don't think anyone else could have taught me as well as you did, Reborn. I don't think anyone else could have convinced me that I was worth all of this work, much less that I'd someday have friends who were worth fighting for and who would fight for me."
"You still have a lot to learn," he was told in a smug tone of voice as Reborn stretched and yawned. "And I'm still tired. It's a lot more work to beat you up in the future than it is now." He tugged the covers back around himself snugly. "We'll take today off, and get back to work tomorrow."
"I get it," Tsuna replied, snuggling back in more comfortably as well. "Today we rest, and tomorrow we tell Mom that I'm moving out. That's the next step, I suppose."
"I can't wait until you have to tell her you like sleeping with other boys," Reborn snickered slightly. "Your face will probably explode from all that blushing."
"Reborn!" Tsuna rolled and buried his face in his pillow, thoroughly embarrassed now.
Reborn's chuckle eventually faded off into slow breathing, and Tsuna pulled his head up and smiled at the sight of Reborn dead asleep on the pillow next to him again. While some part of him wanted to get even for the teasing, another was exhausted and determined to take advantage of this hard-earned quiet day. So he snuggled back in and moved just enough so that his head was next to Reborn's. A few more minutes after that and they were both asleep, foreheads pressed together and hair mingling, totally oblivious to the world around them, for at least a few more hours.
End Note: I'm posting the first chapter of Ex umbra in solem right after this goes up, so please enjoy!
*Title translates to "words about the future".