Disclaimer: Katekyo Hitman Reborn! is the property of Amano Akira.


Thunderstorm

(Lambo – Age seven)

"Ahoushi!! Get back here!"

"You'll never catch Lambo-san!"

Gokudera gritted his teeth as he chased Lambo up the stairs. He'd had just about enough. Today, for sure, he would accomplish his goal. Today, definitely, he would make it happen. Today, without fail, he would get that kid to give up his ridiculous cow suit, even if he had to rip it off his hide!

It was simply a matter of dignity. Lambo was the Thunder Guardian after all. Gokudera couldn't just let him walk around looking like a fool. It would reflect poorly on Tsuna. It was all right when the kid was five and looked like he was three. However, now that he was seven and actually looked his age, it was getting to be a bit much. If he continued on in this manner, he would just end up being perceived as some kind of perverted idiot.

Turning once he reached the top of the stairs, the Storm Guardian followed his target into Tsuna's room where Tsuna and Yamamoto were currently busy studying for a math retest. Ignoring their surprised and questioning faces for the time being, Gokudera tackled the boy that was scrambling onto the bed. "Gotcha!"

Tsuna got up from his chair. "Wh…what's going on?"

"Tsuna!" Lambo exclaimed with distress as he flailed and struggled. "He's trying to kill Lambo-san! Help!!"

Gokudera shoved one hand in Lambo's face, pushing the boy's head away as he pulled on the cow-printed tights with his other hand. "That's not true, Juudaime! Don't listen to him!"

Tsuna blanched at Lambo's choking expression. No…Gokudera-kun…I think you're killing him…

From his seat on the floor, Yamamoto simply observed with an amused smile as this scene played out before him.

Holding up his hands meekly, Tsuna made his plea. "Calm down, Gokudera-kun! Just let him go for now. His clothes are about to rip!"

"That's the point!" Gokudera heaved with exasperation as he followed his boss's orders and let go of Lambo who then quickly escaped to find refuge behind Tsuna. "He's getting way too old for that suit. He can't be a stupid cow forever!"

Lambo stuck his tongue out at the Storm Guardian. "You're the one who's stupid, Ahoudera!!"

"So, you're going to rip his clothes to shreds and just let him walk around naked?" Yamamoto inquired with a laugh, drawing the fuming youth's attention before he could unleash another round of terror on the poor kid.

"I'm not an idiot like you," Gokudera retorted. "I brought him something to change into. He just won't wear it." He reached behind and pulled out the child-sized t-shirt that had been partially stuffed into one of his back pockets. He knew that in order to convince Lambo to change out of that cow suit, he would have to entice him with something really cool. He even spent half a day shopping before finally finding the perfect shirt. "See!" he said with a proud grin as he held up the garment.

It was a black t-shirt with a gigantic skull and crossbones printed on it.

Tsuna stared at it with slacked jaws, completely speechless, while Yamamoto merely laughed.

Lambo grumbled with a frown. "You'll never get Lambo-san to change his clothes!" Then he bolted out of the room.

Gokudera dropped to his hands and knees, frustrated and exhausted from yet another fruitless chase. "Just what is that idiot's attachment to the stupid cow suit?! I don't get it. I even got him the coolest shirt in town!"

Tsuna looked off to the side as he mumbled. "No…I think that shirt's half the problem…"

"What?!" Gokudera exclaimed with a mixture of disappointment and disbelief.

- - - - - - - - - -

The next day, Gokudera returned to find Lambo in the living room engrossed in a video game. He sauntered over and plopped himself onto the couch next to the kid.

The moment Lambo realized who had sat down beside him, he jumped in alarm and scooted to the far end of the couch. "What're you doing here?" he asked as he regarded the older boy with weary eyes of distrust. "Wanna fight? Lambo-san won't lose."

"Relax. I just wanna talk," Gokudera assured with a sigh. Then he tossed a shirt over to the boy, but it was different from the one he brought over the day before. It was a t-shirt with cow prints all over it…ones he had to draw up himself with a permanent marker since there wasn't a single clothing store that sold a shirt like it, which was to be expected since nobody in their right mind would wear such a thing. He had spent the entire night working on it, using French curves, rulers, and protractors in order to get the spots to space out perfectly in a naturally random pattern, so Lambo had better like it.

"We'll make a deal," Gokudera began. "Wear that instead of your stupid cow suit from now on, and I'll stop calling you Ahoushi."

"…Hmm? Are you trying to trick Lambo-san?" He couldn't help but be suspicious about the unusually civil way in which the Storm Guardian was currently interacting with him.

"No tricks," Gokudera said with a shake of his head. "Just a deal."

Lambo looked from the silver-haired youth to the shirt as he took a moment to consider. Well…he did like the shirt… "Really? You're not lying?"

Gokudera grumbled but did everything in his power to keep his temper. "Have I ever lied?"

Well, Lambo thought that was true enough. Gokudera might be violent, loud, short-tempered, mean, stupid, and crazy, but he wasn't a liar. "Ok," he finally decided. "It's a deal!"

Gokudera tossed him a pair of pants to go with the shirt, and Lambo changed into them on the spot. Then picking up his discarded clothing, he held onto the tail with a bit of longing. "Can I keep the tail?"

"No!" The answer was definite and immediate.

"…jerk…" Lambo mumbled to himself with a huff. "But you promise not to call Lambo-san Ahoushi anymore, right?"

Gokudera rolled his eyes. "Yeah, yeah. A deal's a deal."

Lambo nodded his head with satisfaction before breaking into a mischievous grin. "Ha! Ha! But Lambo-san is still going to call you Ahoudera!" After saying that, he immediately zoomed off towards the kitchen.

Gokudera closed his eyes and breathed. Just let it go, Hayato…just let it go…

Upon entering the kitchen, Lambo ran into Tsuna's mother.

"Wah! Lambo-kun, you look so cute!" the woman exclaimed approvingly as she brought her hands to her cheeks.

Lambo blinked. "Does Lambo-san look good?"

"Yes! You're very handsome today!" Nana replied with a bright smile. "Where did you get that new outfit?"

The praise put a wide grin on the boy's features, and he even turned a circle for her to see. "Hee hee! Lambo-san found it in the trash!"

As Nana laughed at the child's silliness, out in the living room, Gokudera bristled at that last remark, his hands already fully loaded with dynamites. If only the boss's mother wasn't there, he would have bombed that lying and ungrateful kid to kingdom come without a second thought.


(Lambo – Age eight)

"Lambo…Lambo!" I-Pin crouched down and shook the boy who had decided to curl up and take a nap on the grass after just ten minutes of sparring.

"…whaaaat…" Lambo drawled, refusing to open his eyes. "…I'm sleepy…don't bother me…"

"Lambo, get up! We just got started!" She shook him harder. "Get up!"

"…but I'm tired," he mumbled as he rolled over onto his back and laced his fingers behind his head, eyes still closed. He was the picture of laziness.

She rested her elbows on her knees and propped her chin up in her hands with a small sigh. "Gokudera-san will be mad if he sees you," she warned flatly.

"He's not here…he won't know."

She twisted her lips with discontent then began tugging on his arm. "Come on, Lambo, get up! If you sleep, what am I supposed to do?" Watching him sleep just wasn't an appealing pastime.

"Fine," he sighed as he sat up. "Then let's go get some takoyaki, I-Pin. Lambo-san is hungry."

"Electric Bomb!"

Just then, a small dynamite no bigger than the size of a finger came flying towards Lambo from out of nowhere and, upon contact, sent an electric shock throughout his body.

"AAHHHH!!" Lambo closed his eyes and clenched his fists. "Tol…er…ate…" His tears, however, refused to be held back. In the past, he would have used the Ten-Year Bazooka to get away at a time like this. However, since he had cut his hair after deciding that he didn't want I-Pin to see him as the 'broccoli monster' anymore, he had stopped carrying that weapon around with him and thus lost his convenient escape route. Now he would just have to deal with the situation like everybody else.

Frustrated, Lambo turned and glared at Gokudera who was approaching along with Yamamoto. "That's not fair, sneaking up on me from behind when I didn't even know you were there!" Had he known, he would have chosen his words much more carefully.

Gokudera ignored the kid's rant, choosing to voice his own gripes instead. "I can't take my eyes off of you for even a second! I told you to come to the park and train, not sunbathe!" Being the self-proclaimed right-hand man of their boss, Gokudera had taken it upon himself to whip Lambo's lazy ass into shape. Currently…it wasn't going so well.

"We were training, Gokudera-san," I-Pin blurted, trying to cover for her friend. "We're just taking a break." Never mind that the break was already three times longer than the training itself.

Lambo frowned. "Why do I have to do this anyway? Tsuna doesn't care. You're just picking on Lambo-san!"

"Electric Bomb!"

"AAAHHH!!!" Lambo shrieked as his tears returned unbidden. Darn it! He accidentally said it again!

"Stop crying and get up," the Storm Guardian commanded.

Lambo folded his arms stubbornly. "No! You can't make me! You're not the boss of Lambo-sa—"

I-Pin had both of her hands clamped over Lambo's mouth before he could finish what he was saying.

Looking from the girl's frantically shaking head to the about-to-be-activated Electric Bomb in Gokudera's hand, Lambo realized he had almost slipped up and was about to refer to himself in third person again. He breathed a sigh of relief. Thank goodness, he had been saved, because he could only take so many electric shocks at a time.

To put it simply, the Electric Bomb was basically a taser in the shape of a dynamite. In place of the fuse, there were two wires that stick out at one end. When activated, an electric current would pass between them, delivering an electric shock to the target upon contact. It was a weapon Gokudera had developed for the sole purpose of getting Lambo to stop the habit of speaking in third person. And as a bonus, it doubled as passive training for the boy's Elettrico Cuoio. In Gokudera's mind, the invention was nothing short of pure genius.

"I'm not going to say this again, Lambo," the silver-haired youth stated with agitation. "Get off your ass! Now!"

"Shut up, Ahoudera! I don't wanna!"

Gokudera, short tempered as always, was about to throw the Electric Bomb he was still holding in his hand when Yamamoto finally stepped in, trademark grin on his face. "Uh-uh," he said with a shake of his finger. "He said 'I' that time."

"Damn it!" Gokudera cursed under his breath. "Fine." He slipped the little Electric Bomb back into his pocket…and switched it out with a handful of real exploding dynamites instead. It was time to get serious.

Seeing that darkening and almost murderous expression on his friend's features, the Rain Guardian made a suggestion. "Uh…why don't I train with him for a while?"

Gokudera stared at Yamamoto for a moment before breaking into a sly grin with a shrug. "Sure. Have at it."

As the baseball addict went to try his hand at talking the boy into getting back to training, a concerned I-Pin stepped closer to Gokudera's side. "Um…Gokudera-san…?"

The Smokin' Bomb glanced at her from the corner of his eyes. "Don't worry. He won't die. It'll be a good lesson."

That, however, didn't really ease I-Pin's mind.

"Come on, Lambo," Yamamoto said cheerily, tapping Shigure Kintoki on his shoulder. "Just train with me for a while. Then we'll go get takoyaki. My treat! And if you win, I'll buy you twice as much."

Lambo perked up. He definitely heard that one. "Really?!"

"Yup!"

The boy jumped to his feet, suddenly all fired up. Without warning, he started whipping out hand grenades left and right, throwing them as quickly as possible.

As the grenades got closer to Yamamoto, his usually goofy grin turned into a serious frown. Changing his stance and holding Shigure Kintoki like a baseball bat, he hit every single grenade back to its owner where they all exploded.

By the time the smoke cleared, Lambo was already back on the ground crying himself a river.

Yamamoto winced then scratched the back of his head with a sheepish smile. "Sorry, kid… One more time, one more time! I'll do it right this time!"

In response, Lambo only cried harder. "WAAAAHHH!!! Lambo-san wants to go home!!"

"Electric Bomb!"

"AAAHHH!!!"

Gokudera grinned to himself from the sidelines. Heh…That'll teach him…


(Lambo – Age ten)

Casting his eyes about his grandiose surroundings as he stood in the midst of finely dressed mingling people, Gokudera withheld his sigh of boredom. He had already straightened his tie and brushed imaginary dust off his suit more times than he could count, just to keep himself occupied. Even though he had more or less been born into the mafia world and was raised in a wealthy home as a child, this sort of fancy party just wasn't his thing. It certainly didn't help that none of his 'family' were here with him. Well…none except for Lambo.

Once a year, the Bovino Family would invite Lambo back to Italy to attend the celebration of their boss's birthday. After all, having been chosen to be one of the Vongola Decimo's Guardians, Lambo was their family's source of pride and honor. In other words, even though he was just a kid and something of an idiot, Lambo was a big shot within the Bovino Family.

Both Tsuna and Reborn felt that this yearly celebration was something Lambo shouldn't be absent from. However, since he was still just a kid, somebody would have to go with him. And unfortunately for Gokudera, that somebody ended up being him. He didn't like it, but there was just no arguing with Reborn:

"It can't be helped, Gokudera. Out of all of Tsuna's Guardians, you're the only one who's familiar with Italy and the mafia. Besides, it needs to be someone who can represent the Vongola Decimo. We can't just send anybody."

Gokudera grinned to himself as he stood up straighter. Yes, there certainly was no arguing with that logic. He was Tsuna's right-hand man after all. Who else could be better suited as his representative? But suited or not, he had been here long enough and had done his fair share of pointless socializing…whether he wanted to or not. It was hard to avoid when everyone wanted to inquire about his boss and make a good impression. With the evening beginning to wind down, it was time to go find that idiot and get the heck out of there.

- - - - - - - - - -

Sitting alone at the table with slumped shoulders, Lambo heaved a dejected sigh as he poked mindlessly at the food on his plate with his fork. He was all dressed up in his cow-printed button up shirt and the new black suit that Tsuna had given him, but he just wasn't in the party mood. Even though the Bovino Family was his family, the truth was, he had been feeling less and less comfortable every time he came back for this event.

Sure, it was nice seeing the boss again and being able to talk with members of the family that he had known since before he had left for Japan. However, as he got older, he also began to understand that there were those who didn't like him very much. For instance…the two guys who were currently sitting at the table behind him, talking about him as though he wasn't even there.

"You gotta wonder what the Vongola Juudaime is thinking, keeping him as one of his Guardians. It's a joke, ain't it?" one commented before taking another swig from his bottle of wine.

"Yeah," the other laughed. "He probably has to protect Lambo instead of the other way around."

Lambo shoved another piece of potato in his mouth, mechanically chewing without really tasting it, his vision becoming blurry from the tears welling up in his eyes. Tol…er…ate… He sniffled silently to himself. There wasn't anything that he could say, because there was definitely truth in their words.

The young Thunder Guardian reached up and grasped onto the Vongola ring that he now wore on a chain around his neck. He never understood why he had been given this ring, and he only recently began to comprehend the meaning behind its ownership. But why him? He was just a kid. What if he couldn't live up to what was being expected of him? Would he have to leave Tsuna's family and come back to Italy?

"I tell ya, it's just luck." The less-than-private conversation continued. "The kid was there when that whole thing with Xanxus went down. Heck, if we'd been there, it might have been you or me instead."

"Haha! No kidding! Anyone else in the Bovino Family would have been a better choice!"

"So, you're interested in taking Lambo's place, are you?" a third person suddenly chimed in.

The two men looked up to find none other than the Vongola Storm Guardian standing at their table looking at them with an unreadable expression on his features and immediately broke into a cold sweat. "Go…Gokudera-san…"

"Well…" Gokudera continued thoughtfully as though he hadn't noticed their nervousness, "it's never been done before, but…you might have a chance."

The two men exchanged confused glances at that unexpected remark, not sure if they heard him right. "Excuse me?"

Gokudera took a seat, making himself comfortable. "Juudaime is an unconventional leader. If you make your case, he might be willing to see what you've got. Who knows? You might get the job."

"And…you don't mind?" one of the men asked. It was a bit surprising. Rumors had always been that the Vongola Decimo's family was a rather tightly knit group.

The silver-haired young man shrugged lightly. "Lambo's an idiot. He never does anything I say. If he goes, it's no loss on my part."

As the men laughed, behind them, Lambo continued to shove chunks of potatoes into his mouth. Tol…er…ate…! Tol…er…ate…! But silent tears were already gushing from his eyes at an uncontrollable rate.

"Once Juudaime approves, then all you have to do is fight Lambo for the ring."

One of them snickered. "That should be a breeze."

"…in Elettrico Circuito," Gokudera finished.

"Elettri…what?"

"It's the battle arena the Thunder Guardian candidates are required to fight in," the Storm Guardian explained. "The battle is held under an open sky during a thunderstorm. The arena is fitted with lightning rods with highly conductive wires built into the battlefield to amplify the lightning that discharge from the rods. Any misstep could mean instant death. It's a befitting setting, don't you think?"

After a drawn out moment of silence, one of the men gulped. "And…Lambo…actually fought in this arena?"

"Of course," Gokudera replied, matter of fact. "He is the Thunder Guardian." He looked from one man to the other, both with blood drained from their faces. "Something the matter?"

Both were too speechless with disbelief to respond.

Gokudera smirked. "Well, if you ever find enough guts to challenge our Thunder Guardian, you know where to find us." At this point, his expression darkened. "Then again, being a couple of grown men who can only taunt a child to his back… that already says quite a bit about your level of cowardice. I guess I shouldn't be expecting you." He got to his feet and straightened his suit, ignoring the two men's dropped jaws and the unintelligible noises they were making. "Lambo!"

At the other table, the boy jumped in his seat at the sound of his name. He quickly wiped his tears on his sleeves before turning around to face the one who had called him.

"We're leaving," Gokudera said evenly. Throwing one last glare at the two men, he turned and walked away.

Lambo jumped out of his chair and, averting his eyes as he passed by the two men, he hurried after the Storm Guardian.

Once they stepped out into the gardens where it was quieter, Gokudera could hear that Lambo was still sniffling behind him. "Stop crying! It's because you're always acting like a wimp that people pick on you!"

Lambo swiped his sleeves over his eyes again. "I'm not crying!" he insisted. When he finally calmed down, he looked up at the fuming young man's back. "Hey, Gokudera?" he asked weakly. "Do I have to come back again next year?"

"Of course! And you're gonna do it with your head held high!" Gokudera swore under his breath as he tugged on his tie with agitation to loosen it around his neck. "Those damn bastards… Piss me off! How dare they question Juudaime's judgment!?"

Lambo continued to stare at Gokudera's back as he tried to figure him out. At first, it almost sounded like he wanted to get rid of him. But in the end he stood up for him by saying all those weird things. Lambo just didn't quite get it. "Gokudera? Why'd you make up all that stuff about me fighting in some arena?" Seriously…what if those guys had taken up on the challenge? Wouldn't that put him in a lot of trouble, not to mention danger?

Gokudera halted, turning around to give the boy a somewhat confused look. Then he remembered: Lambo had no recollection of his fight with Levi. To begin with, he had only thought it was a game. Then he escaped via the Ten-Year Bazooka, only to get electrocuted into a coma upon return. Looking at him now, Gokudera was beginning to see why Lambo had never been too keen on coming to these events despite his great passion for food. "Never mind that. Just remember, that ring belongs to you. Don't let anybody tell you otherwise, you hear me?"

Lambo simply nodded. It wasn't everyday that Gokudera would say something reassuring, least of all to him. He was, quite frankly, a bit shocked and, at the same time, very much relieved.

By the time Lambo got out of his daze, he realized that Gokudera had already walked off and was a long ways away. "Ah! Wait for me! Gokudera-shi!" He hurried to catch up.

Gokudera quirked a brow. Gokudera-shi? What the hell? Well, whatever. At least he was beginning to use honorifics, even if it was quirky.


(Lambo – Age thirteen)

With his hands shoved in his pockets, Lambo sauntered his way down the halls of Tsuna's underground base. Though the base wasn't even near half completion yet, the functional parts of it were already pretty impressive in size. For Lambo, that wasn't necessarily a good thing, because it only meant he had to walk farther to get to where he needed to go. He had never been down this way before, but according to I-Pin, this was where he was supposed to go.

He opened the door and let himself in. "Gokudera-shi, you wanted to see me?"

From his seat, Gokudera looked over his shoulder at his visitor. "Ah, Lambo. Good timing. Just give me a minute."

"What is all this?" The boy cast his curious eyes about what appeared to be a control room as he went over to Gokudera who was sitting at the control panel. That was when he realized that on the other side of the windows, there was actually a much bigger chamber containing an indoor desert. "Whoa…"

"The Storm Room…I just need to do some final testing…" Gokudera said distractedly as he worked the controls. Then with the push of a button, the desert chamber immediately came to life with high pressure air flowing in from the vents kicking the sand up into violent swirls.

Lambo raised his brows, genuinely impressed. "What's it for?"

"My training," Gokudera replied simply as he monitored the desert storm simulation.

After about a minute of sand viewing, Lambo turned to Gokudera. "And so? Did you call me down here to show me this?"

"Don't be an idiot," Gokudera deadpanned. Then he stood up from his chair. "Follow me."

Lambo followed the Storm Guardian down the hall to the room next door where they entered into a control room much like the one they were just in. This time, Yamamoto was the one standing at the control panel. There were windows above the panel that looked into the next room as well. However, instead of an indoor desert, the room on the other side, although huge, was basically an empty box.

"Is it ready?" Gokudera inquired.

"Yep!" Yamamoto replied energetically.

"Hmm? So, Yamamoto-san…is this the Rain Room?" Lambo asked.

The Rain Guardian laughed. "Nope. I just get a regular dojo."

"This is the Thunder Room," Gokudera divulged.

"Huh?" Lambo didn't like where this was going.

"It's your training room."

The raven-haired boy heaved a sigh as he scratched his head. Yeah, he had a feeling that's what Gokudera was going to say. "I don't really need one, do I? I mean…Gokudera-shi, you and the rest of the Guardians are strong."

Gokudera folded his arms. "Which is why. You're the only one who's lagging."

The young Thunder Guardian winced internally, already starting to back his way towards the exit. "Yeah, well…but…we don't all need to be strong. I'm perfectly fine with where I'm at. Really. I've got star quality. That's more than enough, right? So…IthinkI'mgonnagonow,bye!" He turned and bolted for the door, but Gokudera caught him by the back of his collar before he even got close.

"Stop being a lazy ass wuss," the silver-haired young man said flatly as he dragged the reluctant boy towards the door that connected the control room with the actual training room.

Lambo panicked. In his experience, training with Gokudera had always been rough. And now there was even a room made especially for that purpose? Nothing good could come of this. He just knew it! "No, wait! Gokudera-shi! Just listen to me for a minute!" But it was already too late. He had already been shoved into the training room with the door locked from the outside.

Feeling like a trapped rabbit, not sure what to do, he walked further into the empty room, his heart pounding its way up his throat. Then he remembered the horns in his pockets and quickly pulled them out, fumbling as he put them in place on his head.

The speakers came on, and Gokudera's voice could be heard. "Heh. At least your instincts seem to be getting better. You're right. This room is designed to help you develop your special abilities. Look above you."

Lambo turned his head up…and blanched. The entire ceiling was covered with long metal spikes that hung down like metallic icicles. Moments later, a sizzling sound could be heard and, suddenly, electricity was crawling all over the ceiling, curling around the metal spikes like a gathering of brilliant white snakes. Horrified, he turned and looked towards the control room with wide eyes. "Bu…but I haven't completely figured out the Thunder Set move, yet!" He could call the lighting, but he couldn't keep them stored for use.

"Well…that's why you have this room," Gokudera replied, no sympathy whatsoever. "Ready? Here comes the first run."

With the flip of a switch, a bolt of lightning shot down from the spikes, catching Lambo off guard and zapping him. "GYAAAAHH!!" He dropped to his hands and knees. "Tol…er…ate…"

A few seconds later, his head shot up, tears flowing out of his eyes like water from a faucet. "Gokudera-shi!!! It hurts!!"

"Ah. That means your Elettrico Cuoio is still weak," came Gokudera's far-too-indifferent analysis. "You need more training. Here's the next run."

"AAAHHH!!!!" After getting zapped the second time, Lambo started running around for his life as more lightning bolts began to come down. "Gokudera-shi!!" he hollered pathetically as he continued to dodge. "This is more of a torture chamber than a training room, isn't it?!! It might not kill me, but it still hurts!!"

"If you don't want it to hurt, then you better figure out how to harness that electricity," Gokudera retorted. "Suck it up and stop crying!" Then he turned a dial, upping the voltage some more.

"GYAAAHH!!!"

Yamamoto sighed as he leaned his back against the wall. "Aren't you enjoying this a bit too much?"

Gokudera smirked as he continued to work the controls. "Heh. I don't know what you're talking about."

The Rain Guardian looked from the frantically fleeing boy in the training room to the Storm Guardian, a slight frown creasing his brows. Gokudera was certainly pushing Lambo much harder these days. "Are you worried? About the Gesso Family?"

There was a pregnant pause, and for the longest time Gokudera did not respond. The Gesso Family…they came out of nowhere and were expanding quickly. He was definitely concerned. That aside, there was just something about their boss, Byakuran, that Gokudera didn't like. "It's not just that. Now that the Vongola rings have been destroyed and box weapons are being used more and more, we need to compensate for that loss of power whichever way we can. Besides," he glanced at Yamamoto from the corner of his eyes, "you remember what Lambo's capable of, don't you?"

Yamamoto folded his arms as he recalled Lambo's battle with Levi all those years ago, eyes turning back to the Thunder Guardian who had yet to realize his true potential. "Ah." He hadn't understood what he was seeing at the time but, now that he knew what the Ten-Year Bazooka was all about, he knew that in the future, Lambo will become a force to be reckoned with.

"Well, someone's gotta drill that power into him," Gokudera said dryly. "You think that lazy idiot's just going to do it on his own?"

Yamamoto simply laughed. There was no arguing with that one.

At this point, Ryohei entered the scene. "Whoa, what's going on here?!" he asked as he walked up to the viewing window, watching with fascination as lightning bolts were coming down like rain. "This is EXTREME!!"

Just then, Lambo's head popped up on the other side of the window, slamming both of his palms on the glass. "Ryohei-san!! Save me!! Save me!!" he cried with distress.

The Sun Guardian, unable to hear what Lambo was saying because Gokudera had strategically cut the communications link, only yelled back his words of encouragement. "Go for it, Lambo! I'm getting fired up just watching!" Then he turned to the Storm Guardian. "Oi, Tako Head? Can I have a go after him?"

Gokudera frowned. "Go build your own training room."


(Lambo – Age fifteen)

"Mmm…I-Pin, you make the best gyoza," Lambo commented as he bit into another piece. He was having dinner at her place again, a common occurrence.

Sitting across the table from him, I-Pin smiled. If she had to pick one thing she really liked about Lambo, it would be his appreciation for her skills in culinary arts. He would eat anything she made like it was the most exquisite, fine cuisine. She crumpled up her napkin and threw it at him playfully.

"Hey, what was that for?" he asked as the napkin bounced off his head. "I gave you a compliment."

She sighed at her longtime best friend. "You're getting to be more and more of a sweet talker every day. No wonder the girls are all after you."

"Hmm? You think so?" he inquired halfheartedly, too distracted by the food. Then he remembered something. "Oh. I finally had a chance to speak with the young Vongola last night."

She tilted her head slightly. "You mean Tsuna-san from the past?" She always thought it interesting how Lambo liked to distinguish the two Tsunas by referring to the one in the past as the 'young Vongola' while she did it by calling him 'Sawada-san'. "You were summoned back again?" Well, that part wasn't a surprise.

"Ah." He put another piece of gyoza in his mouth. "I told him I didn't want to fight in that ring tournament, and I gave him back those eerie horns." The fact that he didn't remember anything about any ring tournament in his own past aside, in his opinion, it was kind of pointless to fight for the rings since they were going to be destroyed anyway.

I-Pin twisted her lips, a doubtful look on her face. "I don't know, Lambo… Even if you tell Sawada-san…do you really think you can avoid it?" They both knew how he used to be as a child.

"Well…" He looked up at her, the same doubtful expression reflected in his eyes. However, before he had a chance to reply, he was engulfed by a cloud of smoke. Next thing he knew, he was sitting in the rain on a roof, ten years in the past.

Lambo heaved a sigh. He had never been a very lucky guy, had he? "I didn't think that gyoza would be my last supper," he said to himself, chopsticks still in hand.

"Lambo! I'm sorry!" It was Tsuna. "The younger you couldn't handle it!"

Lambo picked up the chain and half ring his younger self had left behind. "Please don't apologize. I had a feeling this would happen," he said calmly, almost laid back, as he put the chain around his neck. "Anyways, young Vongola, when I absolutely have to do something…I can be a man."

Well, he had said as much, but…after being struck by lighting at many times the intensity of anything Gokudera had ever put him through, then getting pierced clean through his shoulder by an umbrella, he had lost all resolve and made his escape with the Ten-Year Bazooka for the first time in many, many years.

This time, when the smoke cleared, he found himself…within the embrace of a beautiful woman. With her arms wound tightly around his neck, she was definitely standing far too close for whatever was going on to be anywhere near platonic. "Heh?!" What the heck was his future self doing?!

The woman blinked up at him with surprise, her nose but an inch away from his. "Mm? Lambo?"

He, in turn, dropped his jaws, his eyes growing to the size of saucers when he got a better look at her and realized who she was. "I…I-PIN?!!!" She was older and much more mature, but it was unmistakably I-Pin. The shock he felt was so great that it completely eclipsed his sense of pain.

It had been years since she'd seen him switch places with his younger self and was about to ask why when the sight of fresh blood gushing out from his shoulder caught her eye. "Lambo, what happened?!" she asked, panicked as she quickly helped him over to a seat.

Lambo, however, was still too stunned speechless to even make a coherent sound. He merely stared stupidly at her as she fussed over his injuries and asked him questions he didn't even hear.

"Wait here," she said hurriedly. "I'll go get some bandages!"

Lambo watched her rush out of the room, but before she could return, a cloud of smoke wrapped him up and sent him back to his own time. He was once again sitting at the dinner table, the fifteen-year-old I-Pin sitting across from him.

"Lambo, your younger self showed up crying again," she began. "But then he ate all the gyo—" That was when she noticed his blood soaked shirt. "Lambo, what happened?!" she exclaimed as she came around the table to inspect his wound.

Her reaction was exactly the same as her future self's. It felt to Lambo like déjà vu.

"Wait here. I'll go get some bandages!" Then she rushed out of the room.

Yep. Definitely déjà vu.

Before long, I-Pin returned with a medical kit in hand. Kneeling beside him, she began to undo the buttons of his shirt. That was when the Thunder Guardian finally snapped out of his stupor. "Whoa, I-Pin! Wait a minute, wait a minute!" he blurted in a panic as he tried to stop her.

"This isn't the time to be a baby!" she reprimanded as she slapped his hands away and continued to work the buttons. "If we don't treat it quickly, it'll get infected. That's if you don't bleed to death first." In one swift motion, she pulled off his shirt and tossed it aside.

He groaned under his breath, a helpless look on his face. That wasn't really what he was getting at. Sure, she had seen him shirtless probably a million times over. But after that 'close encounter' just now…he was suddenly feeling rather self-conscious.

"So, what happened?" she asked once more.

"It's…hard to explain," he replied, watching her as she tended to his shoulder wound with care. The two of them had grown up together. He had known I-Pin almost his entire life, so he had never thought about her in that way. But now that the idea was put into his head…he couldn't stop thinking about it!

He remembered that I-Pin used to have a thing for Hibari. It was no small crush either. Her affection for the Cloud Guardian had been at spontaneous combusting levels. Even though she seemed to have grown out of it, the bottom line was, he was a far cry from being anything like Hibari Kyoya. They just weren't made of the same stuff. His chances certainly werern't looking too good.

"Lambo, you're heating up!" I-Pin exclaimed with concern as she placed a hand on his forehead to check his temperature. The guy was losing blood. Shouldn't he be turning pale instead of red? Was it poison?! Was he already running a fever from infection?!

"Yeah, well…" he began uncomfortably. Her hand on his face certainly wasn't helping any. "I was summoned to a rather heated situation. Twice."


(Lambo – Age seventeen)

Gokudera staggered his way down the stairs to the underground base, his breathing labored. He held up the hand he had been using to press against his abdomen, his eyes on the blood that was dripping off his palm.

It wasn't looking good.

"Damn it…" He cursed under his breath as he stubbornly pushed forth.

It had been nearly two years since Tsuna had passed away…two years since the Arcobaleno, including Lal Mirch, had succumbed to the effects of the non-Tri-Ni-Sette radiations…two years since the hunt for the Vongola began. Ever since then, the Guardians began to fall, one by one. If only the Vongola rings hadn't been destroyed, they wouldn't be losing this battle to those Millefiore bastards.

The Storm Guardian entered the lounge and plopped himself onto the couch, fatigued. Reaching a hand into his inside coat pocket, he pulled out a cigarette and lit it. Then he leaned back into the couch and simply waited…

- - - - - - - - - -

Lambo heaved a troubled sigh as he headed towards the kitchen for a glass of water. He tried to take a nap since he hadn't been able to sleep the past couple of nights, but he was so restless that sleep completely escaped him.

His 'family'…or what was left of it…had pretty much been living in the base, no thanks to Byakuran. This huge underground fortress had, whether they liked it or not, become their home. And it had already been three days since Gokudera and Yamamoto went out on a routine recon mission, but they had yet to return to said home. He couldn't help but worry.

However, that worry quickly turned to horror as he reached a turn in the hallway and his eyes fell upon a trail of fresh blood on the floor. A sinking feeling gripped his gut and his blood froze. Willing his legs to move as quickly as possible, he bolted down the hall, following the red trail until he reached its source. "Gokudera-shi!!"

Gokudera looked dully up at Lambo, eyes slightly unfocused. "…about time you got here…"

Lambo was in panic mode. There was so much blood! What should he do?! "Come on, let's get you to the med room! It's not that far!" But when Lambo tried to help him up, Gokudera placed a hand on his arm to stop him.

"Just shut up for a minute… I need to talk to you…" His voice was weak at best.

"But…you're bleeding," Lambo said lamely.

"I know that, idiot," he retorted, but there was no bite in his tone. "…give me your hand."

Despite being frustrated with Gokudera's obstinacy, the Thunder Guardian did as he was told. Getting down on his knees, he held out his hand, not sure what this was about and why the heck it can't wait.

Gokudera placed an object into his opened palm. It was the orange pacifier of the Sky Arcobaleno…the powerful and much sought after object that had been brought to them by Lightning Gamma about a year ago at the cost of his own life. It had been Uni's final orders, one that she had given to him from her deathbed. Ever since, Gokudera had been the one holding on to it, preventing it from falling back into Byakuran's hands.

Lambo looked from the pacifier to Gokudera. "Wh…why are you—"

"You're the last one, Lambo," Gokudera answered before the boy could even finish asking the question.

"Huh?... But…" Lambo's mind went blank, not wanting to process the meaning behind those words.

"…Yamamoto didn't make it," Gokudera explained.

Lambo clenched his fists at the news. "But you did." There were still two of them…weren't there? He frowned up at Gokudera, eyes desperately begging him to give the answer he wanted.

Gokudera closed his eyes, a humorless smirk on his lips. "…heh…don't kid yourself, Lambo." It was only because Yamamoto had taken the enemy down with him in a last ditch suicide move that Gokudera was able to come back here at all.

By now, the tears were free flowing on the boy's cheeks. "I don't… What am I supposed to do?!" He fisted a hand in his hair as he bowed his head, cursing his own helplessness. "…I can't do this without you, Gokudera-shi…" The Storm Guardian had always been his greatest source of guidance. Lambo would have never come this far if it hadn't been for him. And he would be completely lost if he were to lose him now.

Gokudera looked at the youth kneeling beside him, still crying like he used to when he was a little kid. He was such a hopeless case. "…stop crying…it's time to grow up…"

"I'm not crying," Lambo responded automatically, even though there were no signs of his tears coming to a stop.

"…I'm leaving it in your hands," Gokudera said, eyes looking pointedly to the pacifier.

Lambo shook his head. "I can't…"

"…you can," Gokudera insisted. "…you just don't know it, yet…"

"Why are you saying all this, Gokudera-shi?!" Lambo asked, his voice strained. The man wasn't talking like himself. Lambo would feel much more at ease if Gokudera were to tell him he was lazy and call him an idiot instead.

Gokudera simply looked at the boy. It was because if he didn't say it now…he wasn't going to get another chance. Mustering up the last of his strength, he placed a hand on top of Lambo's head and pushed it down, shoving the boy's face into the seat cushion of the couch. "…Ahoushi…"

That one word, a word that had not been said in so many years, only made Lambo cry all the more.

Gokudera heard another pair of hurried footsteps coming down the hallway. Shortly after, I-Pin entered the room, eyes widening in horror as her hands flew to her lips at the mere sight of him. As she approached, he could see that she was saying something to him, clearly distressed, but he already couldn't hear her words very well. He wanted to tell her to look out for the crying heap beside him in his place, but he found he no longer had the strength to do that either. Then again, it probably wasn't something he needed to say anyway.

Gokudera's eyes slid shut, his cigarette still hanging loosely between his lips. At that moment, Lambo became the last surviving Guardian of the Vongola Decimo's Family.

As Gokudera's hand began to slide limply off of Lambo's head, the boy reached up and caught it, understanding its significance. Placing the cold hand back atop his head, he held it in place, not willing to let go as he grieved the loss of the man he had come to regard as his own brother.

- - - - - - - - - -

Sprawled upon his bed, Lambo stared up at the ceiling with glazed eyes, feeling drained…empty. He turned his head and looked at the orange pacifier in his hand, still stained with Gokudera's blood.

Reborn had said that the Thunder Guardian's purpose was to be the lightning bolt that strikes the enemy as well as the lightning rod that absorbs damage to the family. But Lambo never really fulfilled any of that. As a Guardian, he had been nothing but a failure.

He sat up with a frown. Then looking under his bed, he pulled out a dusty cardboard box. Digging through his old belongings, from toys he used to play with as a child to hand grenades he never used up, he searched until he found what he was looking for: an old pair of horns.

Flipping them over in his hands, he ran a thumb over the words that had been scribbled onto one of the horns with a permanent marker.

Ahoushi…

Tossing his current pair of horns into the box, he went over to his desk and pulled out a roll of bandages from the bottom drawer to wrap around his old horns. He had decided. From now on, he won't run. He would grow up and become someone Gokudera and the others could be proud of. He would protect what was important to him with his own hands, and he would fulfill the role his brother had left him with.

When he finished wrapping up his horns, Lambo headed down to the Thunder Room with new determination.


(Lambo – Age twenty)

It was night, and it was raining. She ran down the street, her shoes splashing through puddles, her heart filled with apprehension as she headed towards the sound of battle. Even as her body cried out for her to stop, I-Pin refused to give in. They were after him again.

Being the last Vongola Guardian still standing and the protector of the only Arcobaleno pacifier not in Byakuran's possession, Lambo had been on the top of the Millefiore's hit list for quite some time now. Lately, they'd even been hiring outside assassins to do the job. The frequency of attacks was really starting to wear on her nerves.

Then she saw it in the distance, Lambo surrounded by a group of men in an alley that was lit only by the flames of the assassins' rings and box weapons. She hurried to provide backup, but then she heard his voice.

"Elettrico Reverse!"

I-Pin's eyes widened as the entire alley lit up, bright as day, and electricity crackled and danced across the wet cement. Once the light show came to an end, all enemies collapsed. Moments later, the Thunder Guardian dropped to his knee as well. "Lambo!" She rushed to his side. "Are you hurt?!"

"Hm?" He looked up, mildly surprised to see her. Then he gave a reassuring smile. "Don't worry. It's just a scratch." He pulled back his leather jacket and showed her the huge gash on his thigh.

She almost wanted to roll her eyes. "Lambo, that is not just a scratch!" She immediately ripped off one of her sleeves and began to tie it around his leg to help staunch the bleeding, giving her surroundings a once over as she worked. "What was that you did just now?" She had never seen it before.

"Hm? Just a new technique I was trying out," he replied, looking at his hand in contemplation. "It doesn't seem to be working that well, yet."

"What are you talking about?" she asked, incredulous. "You took out all your opponents in three seconds!" If that wasn't considered 'working well', she didn't know what was.

"Well, for one thing," he began analyzing calmly as he pointed to one of the fallen assassins, "that one over there's still twitching semi-consciously. And the one behind you…he's already getting back up."

Just as Lambo said, one of the men had pulled himself back up to his feet. However, as he lunged forward to attack, I-Pin smashed her elbow against his face without even turning around, knocking him out cold. She then finished tying the cloth around Lambo's leg and checked to make sure it was secure. "There."

When she looked up, she was surprised to see that Lambo was holding a red rose in front of her. "What's this?"

"It's a man's way of apologizing for being late and making a lady worry," he replied, that gentle smile still tugging at the corner of his lips, completely ignoring the sea of bloody, bruised, unconscious, and twitching men around them.

"Your life was in danger," she said with a huff. "An apology is hardly necessary."

"That's no excuse for making you wait," he said, "but I'm glad that you can forgive me."

She shook her head as she took the flower from his hand. "When did you turn into such a smooth operator?" she commented, almost to herself, as she brought the rose up to her nose and inhaled its scent.

"Hm? Is that what you think?" he inquired with a light chuckle as he got back to his feet and offered her a hand to pull her up. "Well, I can't be Crybaby Lambo forever."

That casual comment actually made her frown. Since the day Gokudera died, Lambo hadn't shed a single tear. As much as he had matured over the past three years, that part just didn't feel quite right. Was it really a positive change? She looked to the side. "…Smooth Operator Lambo just doesn't have the same ring to it." Though it didn't show on her face, her pout was evident in her voice.

"I'd settle for Eating Machine Lambo," he said. "I'm starving. Are we still doing dinner?"

"What? No! We have to get you back so we can fix up that leg of yours!" She pulled on his arm with both hands, heading in the direction of home.

He sighed. "But I've been looking forward to eating out, I-Pin."

"We'll do it tomorrow."

He twisted his arm out of her grip and took hold of her hand as he started tugging her in the opposite direction. "Come on, I-Pin. It'll be fine. Besides, this is the best time to do it. We just took care of these guys. It'll be a while before the next wave shows up."

She creased her brows with a light grumble of discontent as she followed behind him. When did he become so assertive? "Pushy Lambo."

"Only because I'm hungry," he defended in that laid back tone of his.

"Masochistic Lambo."

He sighed again. "I told you, it was just a scratch."

She twisted her lips. "Stupid Lambo."

He looked over his shoulder at her. "Now, that's just being mean."

I-Pin laughed despite herself.

- - - - - - - - - -

Upon returning to the underground base and after I-Pin had patched up his wound to her satisfaction, Lambo entered his room to find his computer monitor blinking with an incoming call. When he connected the line, the image of a man with red hair and glasses appeared on the monitor. "Ah! Lambo-kun, you're ok," he said, visibly relieved. "I'm glad."

"Yes, I'm fine," Lambo assured as he took a seat in his chair. "Thanks to you, Irie-san."

"I've been trying to contact you all night."

"Are you sure that's wise?"

"It's a secured channel. There's nothing to worry about," Shouichi replied. "More importantly…you did it again, didn't you? You removed the Mammon Chain from the Arcobaleno pacifier." Removing that chain basically meant announcing its location. When Lambo didn't reply, he took that silence to mean yes and heaved a somewhat exasperated breath. "Lambo-kun, I told you about the assassins so you could avoid them…not go out and pick a fight with them."

It was about two years ago when Irie Shouichi, a man rather high up in the Millefiore chain of command, had approached Lambo with a proposal to help. Of course, Lambo didn't believe him at first, but after Shouichi had saved his life a number of times with the crucial information he had provided, that began to change. However, even though their goals of wanting to stop Byakuran were the same, their reasons for doing it we completely opposite. Shouichi wanted to save Byakuran. Lambo wanted Byakuran to pay.

The Thunder Guardian gave a small sigh. "Irie-san…those assassins are going to keep looking until they find me. A confrontation is unavoidable. The way I see it, it's better for me to deal with them at a time and place of my choosing than to wait around for it to happen." Not to mention, if he waited, they would only start going through everyone he knew in order to find him. Putting the people he cared about at risk was something he wanted to avoid above all else. To do that, he had to keep the attention on himself.

Shouichi took off his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose. "Look…I understand what you're saying. Just keep in mind that you're the guardian of the final key," he said, referring to the Sky Arcobaleno's pacifier. "Try to be more careful."

"I know. Please don't worry too much, Irie-san, or you'll give yourself another stomachache."

"That's not funny, Lambo-kun," Shouichi said, feeling like he wasn't being taken seriously. "Even though Byakuran-san has lost his advantage, he still holds unbelievable power. Please don't forget that." With that reminder, he cut the communications line.

Lambo leaned back in his chair, face turned up to the ceiling in thought.

Byakuran's advantage…his ability to look into parallel worlds…was one of the first things Shouichi had disclosed to Lambo. It was largely due to this ability that the other Vongola Guardians had lost their lives. However, Byakuran had since lost that power, leveling the playing field once again.

Lambo wasn't sure if it was fate or just dumb luck, but the fact that he had been incompetent for so long was now working to his advantage. Since he hadn't been a major player until much more recently and his powers only started to mature after Byakuran had lost his ability…the Millefiore basically had no critical information on him, providing him with the chance he needed in order to survive against overwhelming odds. Nevertheless, while it was great to be alive, the fact that Byakuran was unable to learn anything about his abilities and techniques from any of the parallel worlds essentially meant that all the other Lambos in all the other worlds had been just as useless as he had been in his youth. That particular part was rather mortifying for him to think about.

He closed his eyes and swiped a hand down his face, exhausted. These past three years, he had been trying his best to do what he thought was right. But…was he really doing what was right? He couldn't help but doubt himself. Was he going about it the right way? Was he doing enough? Did he need to train harder? Was there something important that he hadn't taken into consideration? Even though he was generally too preoccupied with other things to think about all this, at the end of the day, these uncertainties would come floating to the surface.

Before long, Lambo began to drift off to sleep, still sitting in his chair, asking the same question he would ask every night:

Gokudera-shi…am I becoming the person you hoped I would be?


(Lambo – Age twenty-five)

She peered into the room and spotted the person she was looking for. Standing in the doorway, she folded her arms and leaned against the doorframe as she watched the back of the man who was diligently scrubbing away at the toilet bowl. "Are you about finished, yet?"

Lambo sighed and didn't even bother to turn around. "Have you ever counted the number of bathrooms that are actually in this base, Bianchi-san?"

"I'll take that as a no," she replied, unconcerned.

"Why am I still doing this anyway?" He wasn't really trying to complain. He just didn't understand the reason.

"Just because you're making a name for yourself doesn't mean you can skip out on your chores now, does it, Thunderstorm Lambo?" she retorted smoothly. That was the name the mafia world had bestowed upon him because, even though he was considered a living relic of a once powerful Family that was no more, anyone with the intention of engaging the Vongola Thunder Guardian in battle had better be prepared to face a thunderstorm.

He sighed again and hung his head this time. "That's not what I'm saying. I mean why can't Giannini invent something that'll clean the bathrooms? He'd pretty much invented something for everything else."

"Hmm? But I thought you enjoyed cleaning the bathrooms. The award that Hayato gave you is still sitting on your bookshelf."

Lambo shook his head but had to chuckle at the thought of the golden toilet he had received from the Storm Guardian all those years ago as more of a gesture of mockery than anything else. He had even tried to pass it off to the young Vongola once when he had time traveled, though now he was somewhat glad that the boy wouldn't take it. "It makes a nice book end, and it can hold spare change, that's all," he explained as he continued to clean.

Bianchi smiled at the sentimental fool and decided not to press the subject. "Well, you're off the hook for now. There's an incoming message waiting for you. Futa's still deciphering it, but it should be done by the time you get there."

"Where's it from?"

"Italy. Chiavorone Family."

"Hm? Dino-san?" If it was from Dino and it was encrypted, then the message must have something to do with the Millefiore. "Guess I better go see to it."

"Don't think you can just disappear," Bianchi warned. "I expect you to come back here afterwards, or you'll be having Poison Cooking for dinner."

"OK, OK," he replied placidly as he cleaned himself up a bit and walked past her into the hallway. "You're such a slave driver, Bianchi-san." Well, at least she had stopped randomly attacking him with her Poison Cooking because she thought he was Romeo. Who would have thought that something as minor as letting his hair grow out would turn out to be such a life saving decision?

- - - - - - - - - -

It wasn't until late that evening when Lambo finally had some time to himself. He stepped out of the elevator and headed down the hallway. Then just as he turned the corner, his face ran right into someone's outstretched leg. Stepping back with a blink of bewilderment, he turned his head to find I-Pin sitting high up on top of a tower of boxes that had been stacked up against the wall, apparently waiting for him.

"And where do you think you're going?" she asked as she looked down at him with an unreadable expression.

He looked away. "…nowhere." He realized that was a stupid answer the moment it left his lips. They both knew that there was only one place down this direction that he would be going to.

She studied him for a moment. "The message from Dino-san today. What was it?"

He returned his gaze to her once more. "The Millefiore made another move, but it looks like Dino-san's taking care of it. So, there's nothing to worry about."

She jumped nimbly off the boxes, feet landing on the floor without a sound. "Well, if there's nothing to worry about, and you were going nowhere, then I guess you wouldn't mind going back the way you came," she said as she turned him around and started pushing him from behind.

"I-Pin," he sighed as he put on the brakes, turning back around to face her.

The petite woman frowned up at him. "When you're not out there fighting, you're down here training. You need to take a break," she admonished. How many times had she said this to him already? Seriously. It was like one day his responsibility switch flipped on and went straight into overdrive.

"That's not true," he retorted patiently. "Bianchi-san had me cleaning bathrooms all day today."

She reached up and smacked his forehead with her palm. "That's because it's the only way she can keep you out of that training room."

He rubbed his forehead with a perplexed frown, all the while wondering how janitorial duties could fall under the category of 'rest and relaxation'.

"Why are you doing this, Lambo?" she asked in a softer tone, her hands gripping onto his leather jacket. In terms of power, he was already on par with the Funeral Wreaths…well, what was left of them anyway. Aside from the Sky Arcobaleno's pacifier, Lambo now had in his possession three of the seven Mare rings as well. While that didn't mean victory was at hand, it certainly meant that Lambo was no longer just an underdog. His excessive, borderline obsessive, training just didn't make sense and was vexing for her to watch. It was hard to tell that anything was wrong just by looking at him, because he always had this carefree and tranquil air about him, but I-Pin knew better. "Why are you pushing yourself so hard?"

Heaving a breath, he ran a hand through his hair as his eyes wandered, searching for an answer. "I just…need to make sure…" was the ambiguous reply he gave in the end, not really wanting to elaborate any further. Then he looked down at her still worry-filled expression and gave a helpless smile. "But then I guess I also need to make sure that I-Pin doesn't get premature wrinkles from all that frowning," he said as he placed his arms around her waist and pulled her closer to himself. "All right, you win. Training can wait till tomorrow."

"Really?" she asked, half skeptical. The fact that he was avoiding her questions didn't escape her notice.

"Yes. So…if I'm not training, then what should I be doing?" he asked with that mellow voice of his as he touched his forehead to hers.

She laughed lightly as her arms encircled his neck. "Hmm…I wonder…"

Unfortunately for Lambo, their quality time was cut short when he was suddenly engulfed by a cloud of smoke. When he could see his surroundings again, he found himself standing on a roof under a rainy night sky. "This situation…If I'm not dreaming, I must be in the past, thanks to the Ten-Year Bazooka," he mused out loud.

Then the sound of familiar voices reached his ears…voices from his distant past. When he turned his head, there stood younger versions of his lost family, much too young for it to be just ten years ago, staring at him with disbelief. Looking back at each and every one of them in turn, it took Lambo a moment to swallow the lump in his throat before he was able to speak. "I didn't think I'd ever get to see you again. All your faces… How nostalgic… It's enough to move me to tears." And he turned away before he was tempted to do just that.

There was something familiar about this setting, but it wasn't until he picked up the Vongola half ring that things started to come back to him. This was the ring tournament he had been summoned to the past to battle and then subsequently abandoned when he was fifteen. In other words, it was a fight he had left unfinished for a decade, and it was time to put an end to it.

What had once been a life threateningly difficult situation for Lambo was now almost like child's play. This time around, he was able to fend off Levi's attacks with relative ease. He had no doubt that he could win, but his time ran out before he could force his opponent to submit. His battle came to an abrupt end when he was returned to his own time via another cloud of smoke. However, instead of the hallway, he had reappeared in a sitting room.

Shortly after, a frantic I-Pin came rushing into the room with a medical kit in hand, only to find that the injured fifteen-year-old Lambo had already disappeared. Moreover, the twenty-five-year-old Lambo who had returned was just standing there motionless with a glazed over expression on his features, seemingly lost in his own world.

Setting the medical supplies aside, she approached him tentatively. Something significant must have happened in the mere minutes that he had been away, because although his expression was blank, there were tears rolling down the sides of his face…something she hadn't seen in many years. She placed both hands on his face, gently brushing the tears away with her thumbs. "What happened?" she asked, her voice almost a whisper.

He blinked and looked at her, only now noticing that she was there…only now realizing that he was in tears. Reaching up to grasp onto one of her hands, he smiled even as he continued to cry. "…something good."

It had been brief, but he was able to see his family again. Not only that, they had shown great confidence in him. Even Gokudera…especially Gokudera. If the teenage Gokudera Hayato, back in the days when the two of them were still fighting like cats and dogs on a near constant basis, could display such open enthusiasm over his abilities, then…he must be doing something right.

Lambo leaned in and planted a gentle kiss on I-Pin's lips. "I'm sorry," he said, stroking her cheek lightly with the back of his fingers. "I didn't mean to scare you."

It was her turn to sigh. "You're such an idiot," she mumbled as she twirled his braids between her fingers, her brows coming together slightly. "You should just cry when you feel like it." In truth, she was rather relieved. Lambo was an emotional person after all. The way he had refrained from crying for so long, it was like he was cutting off a part of himself, shutting it out. "I don't care what anybody else calls you, to me you'll always be Crybaby Lambo."

He chuckled as he folded his arms around her petite form and placed another kiss on her forehead. "Am I supposed to be happy about that?"

"You better be. I'm saying I like that about you."

"Hmm…again…am I supposed to be happy about that?" Despite the question, he made no attempt to hide the smile he was wearing.

The short reunion in the past provided Lambo with more solace than he'd ever thought possible, and he felt like a weight had been lifted from his shoulders. He had become someone his family could be proud of, and he was living up to his brother's expectations. The brother who had looked out for him…had invested so much time and energy in him…was so very important to him…and was someone he still looked to for guidance even to this day. But from now on, he would be asking a different question.

Gokudera-shi…how much beyond your expectations do you think I'd be able to go tomorrow?

…END…


A/N: Heh…it's a bit long for a one-shot, but I feel it should be read from beginning to end for the proper experience, so…here it is.

I've seen Lambo's title translated both ways as Thunder Guardian and Lightning Guardian. Lightning seems to be more widely used, but I think thunder is the more direct translation of 'kaminari', so I went with that.

If you only follow the anime: 15-year-old Lambo didn't get stabbed by Levi in the anime, but he totally got stabbed in the manga. Just in case anyone's wondering where that came from. Haha.

It's adorable how both 15 and 25-year-old Lambo refer to Gokudera as Gokudera-shi. I seem to have a slight obsession with that for some reason. LOL!

I tried to give a sense of what's going on in this future world without getting too detailed about it. Hope it's not confusing. I may consider writing something to supplement this piece and fill in some of the gaps… But before anybody asks, Uni had said in the manga that the Arcobaleno pacifiers won't show their true shine without their soul…probably meaning it'll be useless even if Byakuran collected all of them. But in the universe of this story, nobody knows that. That's why they're all fighting for that last pacifier. LOL! The pacifier in Lambo's possession is the only one that still has a color. He's protecting it, but he's not its owner, meaning he didn't take Uni's place as Sky Arcobaleno or anything like that.

Mini glossary, just in case:

Ahoushi = Stupid Cow

Ahoudera = Stupidera

Juudaime = Tenth

Tako Head = Octopus Head

Takoyaki = a grilled, batter-covered, octopus dumpling

Many thanks for reading! Reviews very much appreciated! I'd love to know what you think!

Till next time!