Summary: Sawada Tsunayoshi was unassuming. Resourceful. Surprisingly adaptive. A little inept when it came to dealing with romantic affections or unwanted attention. And his hyper-intuition hasn't been wrong yet. Regardless, he didn't need that indication of doom to know that Reborn was the harbinger of utter chaos.
Warning: Liberties taken with the storyline, Out-of-Character Tsuna, Reborn's teaching methods, Mukuro's perverted tendencies, EXTREME-ness, swearing, violence, organised crime and Hibari. Cause his sheer presence in any fic deserves a mention.
I KNOW IT'S A VERY LONG TIME COMING. HERE, HAVE A CHAPTER WITH MY APOLOGIES.
Nana had a friend who adored antiques, so when said friend's birthday was around the corner, Nana caught a train to Jinbocho for some serious shopping. A simple enough premise.
Tsuna had firmly attached himself to his mother's side for most of the journey, until his six year old attention span was lured away by the scores of used bookstores in the area. Tsuna's efforts to resist temptation were admirable, but once the purchases were made and the gifts were wrapped, he was pulling Nana towards the largest bookshop he could find.
Both of them had been browsing happily, before Tsuna tugged at his mother's sleeve. "I'm going to have a look in the back," he whispered.
"As long as you don't leave the store," Nana said while perusing through an Agatha Christie novel.
So Tsuna was navigating his way through the huge store, keeping an eye out for any good titles on the bookshelves while running his hands along their spines. Reading was something he had taken to almost immediately, so you could imagine his horror with the prescribed texts in school, particularly the simple ones that involved nonsensical stories about children and animals. While suitable for the average six year old, they didn't offer Tsuna much in the way of development.*
Flicking through a copy of Alice in Wonderland by the light of a back window, Tsuna had an irrational desire to look up. On reflex, he did so, and immediately dropped the book in his haste to back off and flatten himself against the wall. Moments later, a silver sedan hit the window and accompanying store head on, causing books and plaster to fly.
The previous quiet of the bookstore gave way to chaos. There were faint screams from the other customers, who – including his mother – were clustered towards the front of the store where most of the bargains were. The car's impact had toppled over a few bookshelves like massive dominoes, and while people panicked, the general layout of the store meant they were fine, merely shocked.
Tsuna realised with a small chill that he had been effectively cut off from everyone else. It was not a pleasant feeling.
After a few minutes, he couldn't even hear anything from the front of the store. Were they evacuating the premises? Where was his mother? Was she okay? Did they make her get outside in case anything was in danger of collapsing? She better not be trying to get to him here – after all, he was small and stood a better chance of getting through any small spaces.
Covered in bits of powdery white plaster and his heart racing with adrenaline, Tsuna removed his hands from their position cradling his head, and tentatively peeked around the bookshelf. The car was a little way ahead of him, where one of the bookshelves had collapsed on top of it. The windscreen was broken, and as far as he could tell there was no movement from inside. He hoped no one had died. Tsuna's attention then drifted to his left as a flash of yellow caught his eye.
It was a small bird, hindered by a large piece of plaster and other bits of detritus. It struggled vainly from its place on the floor, making feeble peeping noises. Tsuna slowly crept forward from his hiding place. "It's okay," he said softly, "you'll be fine." He removed the piece and inexpertly, but gently, held the bird in his cupped hands. "How did you get here?" he wondered.
Still crouching on the floor, he didn't notice anything amiss, but the small bird gave a warning chirp. Tsuna frowned, and then was abruptly shoved against a bookshelf, books digging into his back. The yellow bird flopped onto the floor, where it curled up and cheeped continuously.
Tsuna clenched his eyes shut, not daring to look at his assailant.
"Hah? S'just a kid," a gravelly voice said in accented English. The hand at his neck flexed experimentally. "Brat, you're in the wrong place at the wrong time."
There was a small scraping sound from where the car lay abandoned. The man turn his head at the noise, still keeping a firm hold on Tsuna, who sneaked a glance. His assailant was unshaven and unkempt, with dusty black clothes. "Hey Birds, you dead yet?" the man asked.
A small man eventually emerged from the wreckage. The left lens of his glasses was cracked, and he was bald under his battered bucket hat. "Not today, Scuttler."
"Shame," Scuttler said. "I was hoping to ward off enforcers with your dead corpse."
"Hmph!" The man called Birds shook his coat. "Like I have any intention of dying!"
"You've been doing quite well, not being in prison an' all."
"The Bloody Twins are far more resilient than I. Do you honestly expect me to follow them into jail?"
"Birds," Scuttler said, "you are a gutless, spineless jellyfish. If the Bloody Twins weren't amenable subordinates you'd have been killed ages ago."
"But I am alive and currently a free man. In any case, today's business will be over soon," Birds continued, "and I know when it's time to lay low. Vendicare would be bad for my disposition."
"Well then, what am I s'pose to do with this?" Scuttler motioned to Tsuna, who'd been playing dumb while still in his grasp.
"I'd like to enjoy his suffering, but I'm not in the mood." Birds turned his back on them in disinterest. "He's not important anyway. Kill him."
"Maybe I will," Scuttler said. Tsuna's fingers itched in response. Of all days to forget the pepper spray, he thought, before bringing up his hand and jabbing Scuttler in the eye with a thumb.
The man yelped, but Tsuna had already flung himself out of the way, wriggling through the maze of books and wooden structures eagerly in order to get away from the two men.
"Creep away all you want, you little cockroach!" Scuttler cried.
Tsuna's eyes flickered around him as he kept moving, but he wished he'd kept them facing the front. There was a shadow he could see between the thin gaps of the broken bookshelves, and out of the corner of his eye Tsuna saw a clambering figure on the ceiling. He could now see why the man was called Scuttler. It was like looking at a spider – all unusual angles and elongated limbs, scurrying about on walls and objects, a long arm reaching out.
Tsuna nearly jumped as a hand clamped down on his right foot. He tried to shake it off, but the nails burrowed themselves into his ankle, gripping tightly and trying to pull him back. Tsuna's eyes looked into Scuttler's own – one of which was red and puffy – and he baulked as the man smiled.
What happened next was over in seconds. There was a clinking sound, and then Scuttler's look of triumph morphed into one of fear. He screamed, and the vice-like grip on Tsuna's foot disappeared. Somewhere nearby, Birds screeched and went quiet. The clinking sound grew louder.
Tsuna stayed in his sheltered spot nervously, too edgy to move. There was a small crack in the bookshelf, and Tsuna could see flashes of dark clothing. He tried to make himself as small as possible. There was someone else here, besides him and the two criminals. It wouldn't do well to bring himself to attention.
Wait, there were six people, not including himself. How did he know that?
The shifting presence stopped. There was another jangle of chains, the scraping sound of cloth on wood, and the air seemed to grow colder as Tsuna found himself looking up at a bandaged face.
The Mafia Wants You!
Target 009: On The Wrong Foot
The Arata Hotel,
"…Yes. Yes, it's a possibility. Further study is needed…maybe orchestrating something to see his reaction?" The remainder of Reborn's espresso was lukewarm when he brought it to his lips. He clutched the cup thoughtfully. "Molto bene," he said into the phone. "I will anticipate your arrival. Please pass along my regards."
Sunlight flittered through the window pane of the most prestigious (and somehow, coincidentally Vongola-owned) hotel that Namimori had to offer. Reborn placed his empty cup on the table and got to his feet, fedora in hand. His surroundings were luxurious, a testament to the skill of the architect.
Reborn turned to the hotel's manager – a retired mobster, now in her early seventies – and handed her back the phone. "It was good to see you again, Angela."
"It was my pleasure, Signor Reborn," she replied, bowing. "Is there anything else I can do?"
"No, thank you. Actually," the hitman paused. "There is one thing. You might want to keep the penthouse free in the near future."
The practised, polite expression and accompanying wrinkles did not hinder the small smile on the lady's face. "I shall make a note of it."
Reborn nodded, tipping his fedora to her and saying his goodbyes before strolling outside of the hotel. He then casually put his hands in his pockets, turned around the street corner, and started people-watching with an automatic, detached air.
A group of schoolkids walked past him, surrounded by raucous laughter. His eyes narrowed. Green uniforms, distinct insignia – Kokuyo students, with no intention of attending school for the day.Traffic camera at T-section swivelling to follow them – possibly Disciplinary Committee surveillance?At least three of five kids are armed – one has an impressive tattoo, possibly yakuza? Local gangs, rendezvous imminent if they make trouble on enemy turf.
Reborn then threw a casual glance to his left. Man in parka with hunched shoulders favouring right arm – recently healed fracture. Switchblade located under belt, stance suggests basic karate training.To the man's right, salaryman in a hurry clutching briefcase to chest – faint odour of ink present, possibly counterfeiting? A team then – salaryman having doubts, will abandon operation sometime within the week.
Information flitted through Reborn's brain and was dealt with quickly and efficiently – people, their actions and intentions, all examined, vital knowledge catalogued and extraneous details deleted without a second thought.
Something made him pause, and turn into the street that would lead him to the Sawada residence. Being tailed – person either abysmal at hiding or lulling me into false sense of security. Young, female, unlikely to have stealth training…oh. Oh, I see.Reborn sighed. He had another admirer, it seemed. Brick wall to my right will give me extra height for confrontation. He jumped up on it and spun around, not losing his cool for a second. "Hello."
There was a flurry of steps, and soon a brown-haired girl in a pale yellow vest and grey skirt was boldly balancing on the wall next to him. "U-um, hello! My name is Miura Haru!"
Miura Haru. Born May 3, blood type B. Father a mathematics lecturer at university, mother stays at home. No siblings. Attends one of the toughest elite schools in the area, member of the school rhythmic gymnastics team. Enjoys cake, tankobon and cosplay. Possible contact with Tsuna?
"I know you," Reborn replied. "You live in that house, right?" He pointed towards the Miura residence.
"You know about me!" she squealed. "Will you be my friend?"
This was not what one would say to a stranger who knows where you live. It was kind of nostalgic.# But this was not a time for reminiscing. "Sure, I'll be your friend," he said.
"Woo!" she cheered, doing a little flip off the wall. Reborn involuntarily assessed her movements. The gymnastic training must have aided her overall endurance and flexibility. With some practice and training, who knows? (If Lambo didn't make an adequate Lightning Guardian in the future, there would be options available, he supposed).
"This might be a little sudden but…can you hug me, like this?" Haru demonstrated this with an expression of utmost earnestness, coupled by a rather eerie gleam in her eye.
Well, I do have a habit of attracting the dangerous ones, don't I? Still, Reborn was miffed. The downfall of being in this form – his sheer irresistibility was expected, but at times wearisome. "Don't touch me so easily. I am a hitman, you know."
"Hahi? A hitman? Is that a game you're playing with your older brother?" the girl asked, aghast.
Reborn sighed. If only Tsuna were here. It would have been hilarious to see if Miura Haru would slap him for being a bad example. Hmmm…should I put my student up to this situation, knowing full well that my actions could lead to all sorts of misunderstandings and entertainment?
He smirked at the very thought. "I'm also a mafia tutor. Tsuna is my student, and I'm going to teach him how to fight, extort and lead like a pro."
She gasped. "That Sawada-kun's teaching you that kind of stuff? And he's letting you walk around on your own without supervision? Ooh, how horrible!" she said to herself, before turning to him sweetly. "Don't worry Reborn-chan! Haru will protect you!"
This was just too easy.
"Lambo, we already went through this." Tsuna held out his hand. "Pass them over."
Lambo petulantly relinquished three grenades, two pistols and a small rocket launcher. "You're a big meanie," he complained. "What if Lambo-san needs them?"
"Then you'll just have to make do with that bazooka and the five other grenades that I know you still have. Don't even think to deny it," Tsuna warned. In reality, Tsuna couldn't fault Lambo's logic – after all, this was the same kindergarten from which he had almost been abducted. Potential weapons may not be appropriate for five year olds, but most five year olds shouldn't need them, not like they did.
Lambo scuffed the floor with his foot. "Whatever. Can Lambo-san go now?"
"Alright, you can go." Lambo whooped before running off to where the other kids were. "Try not to get into too much mischief!" Tsuna added, but that was easier said than done. He could already recognise two boys in the crowd that Lambo had made a beeline for as younger siblings to DC members. "I'd be lying if I said I was surprised," Tsuna mumbled, stuffing Lambo's seized weapons into the bottom of his school bag. He would have to move if he didn't want to sprint all the way to school.
Tsuna guessed he should consider himself lucky that Reborn had chosen to opt out of accompanying him because of Lambo. He walked briskly in the direction of Namimori Middle School, taking in the peaceful surroundings devoid of hitmen. It appeared to be a good start to the day as any.
"Hey you!" a voice called out from somewhere.
Tsuna paid it no mind. "Maybe I can pass by the IT stores after school," he mumbled.
"I SAID, HEY YOU!"
"Hm?" Tsuna turned around in confusion, only to be confronted by a schoolgirl with a look of derision on her face and a hockey stick clutched in her right hand. His mind recalled meeting her before. "Oh!" he remembered the cake run for the Song Bakery. "It's, uh, Miura-san, am I right?"
"So you remember," Miura Haru said darkly. "Sawada-kun, I will not be fooled twice!"
"Huh?" Tsuna felt that he was missing something here.
"And to think…Reborn-chan suffered, all because of you," the girl whispered painfully, a hand clutching at her heart.
"Reborn? Suffering?" Tsuna was clearly missing out on something.
"Don't play coy with me!" Miura Haru snapped. "I saw what Reborn-chan was like this morning! What the hell have you been teaching him?"
"But I haven't seen Reborn since yesterday night." Tsuna stared at her suspiciously. "Did he turn up at your house wearing a weird costume?"
Haru's mouth opened, closed, and then opened again. "Um, no–"
"Scam you out of your life savings?"
"Attempt to buy one of your kidneys?"
"Well, I doubt he tried to initiate you into a life of crime," Tsuna said, rubbing his temples, "but a word of advice? If your gut is telling you to flee the country, listen to it and book the plane tickets."
"Argh! How could you even suggest that Reborn-chan would do such things!" she shrieked, stamping her foot. "Babies are angels with pure hearts! Are you destroying that lovely pureness with your rotten heart?"
"If I wasn't before, I'm definitely confused now. You sure we're talking about the same person?" Tsuna said, vaguely horrified by such adjectives being used to describe Reborn of all people.
Haru just glared. "You're Reborn's big brother, right? I see you together often!"
"No way Reborn and I are siblings. The very idea is just, urgh. Incomprehensible."
"Then you're an even bigger bastard, making someone else's baby a devil!"
"I had no hand in that; Reborn does perfectly well being evil on his own!"
Haru brushed that aside. "Listen here; you shall not see Reborn-chan anymore! It's obvious that you're a bad influence!" She brandished her hockey stick in such a manner that suggested he was soon going to be beaten to death with it.
Tsuna wasn't pleased with how things were turning out (she seemed normal when they first met, which goes to show that first impressions sucked) but it was laughable too, considering that Reborn would be more a bad influence than Tsuna could ever aspire to be. "Not that it's really any of your business," Tsuna sighed, "but if it were that easy I wouldn't be in this situation, and Reborn would be living it up in another part of the globe, away from me, where he belongs."
"Hah!" Haru scoffed. "Like I'd take your word for anything. Reborn-chan already told me that his job is to raise you to be a mafia boss, and that he can't be separated from you until then."
"Hiiie?" If he wasn't before, Tsuna was fuming now. Reborn, you can't just go around telling random civilians about my life! What is wrong with you! Sacred code of Omertà my ass!
Haru brought him back to the present when she darted forward, forcing Tsuna to elude her hand as it veered towards his face. The would-be-slap missed. "You – you delinquent! You've even been restricting Reborn-chan's freedom!"
He took another few steps back as she swung around the hockey stick like an unstable fencer. Haru was graceful in her movements, but ruthless, highly trained killer she wasn't. Tsuna tried to reason with her. "Uh, hey, this discussion is great and all, but maybe now's not the best time for it?"
"There is always time for justice!"
"Yeah, that's great. Can you resume your efforts to turn me into a pile of mush later then? I'm only saying this because I attend Namimori Middle School," he spelled out slowly for her, "where tardiness is frowned upon and latecomers run the risk of getting thrown out of second story windows. I can't afford to argue with you now."
"You sound like you're trying to throw me off."
"Whatever gave you that impression?" Tsuna said dryly. "Look, I don't know what scheme Reborn cooked up to amuse himself, and at the moment I don't really care – just leave me alone. And keep in mind that whatever you do will probably make no difference whatsoever. Reborn does whatever the hell he wants, and chances are good that he'll continue to do so."
His answer at least had thrown her off, if Haru looking at him strangely was any indication. Her weapon held loosely at her side, and Tsuna decided that now was as good a time as any, so he started running away from her.
Haru snapped out of it. "Hahi? I'm not finished with you, get back here and face me like a man!"
"I'm not listening!" Tsuna called out behind him while dashing away. "Why so interested in Reborn anyway? Don't tell me she's pulling a Bianchi," he said, pulling a face.
One fine morning Yamamoto had been innocently walking to school when he was passed by an irate teenage girl wielding a hockey stick. He had to admit that it sort of ruined the usual routine, but things had been getting more interesting lately, so he was hardly going to complain about anything breaking the monotony of daily life.
"Excuse me," the girl said stiffly, "but have you seen a boy run past you? Short guy, brown hair, Namimori Middle uniform?"
"Nope, sorry," Yamamoto said apologetically.
"Damn," she cursed, brown hair bobbing up and down to her movements, before she quickly continued onwards, yelling all the while. "You can run all you want but don't think that you can hide from me! I know where you live!"
Strange. The hockey teams around town practiced after school…
It was probably even stranger that Yamamoto's first thought was about club practice times rather than why angry schoolgirls were wandering around looking to club people. Were their hockey members usually this violent?
He watched her go, making sure that she was out of sight before he turned to the small house on his right. "Yo, Tsuna! Good morning!" he called out (quietly, mind).
It took about a minute before he got a reply. "Good morning Yamamoto-san. Though I truly don't see what's so good about this particular morning. To be honest, it's been pretty crappy." Tsuna came into view while he peered cautiously over the roof of the house. "Thanks, by the way. She's gone, right?"
"Looks like it. You'd better come down before Gokudera turns up and asks what you're doing up there," Yamamoto pointed out. Both boys then flinched as something loud detonated a few streets away. "Too late," Yamamoto laughed, "he should be here soon."
Tsuna quickly scrambled down to the ground. "I guess I'm overdoing it, given that it's not like she could actually kill me. I hope Gokudera didn't do anything troublesome," he fretted.
"What was that all about anyway?" Yamamoto asked, positioning his baseball bat more comfortably on his shoulder.
"Only the first death threat of the day," Tsuna explained, without really explaining anything at all.
"I see." Actually, I don't. "So, was she playing the mafia game too then?"
"I certainly hope not." Tsuna craned his neck in the direction of the blast. "Were you both heading for school?"
"Well, we were planning to walk to school together, but you weren't around at your place this morning. We thought you might have left before us. Then Gokudera swore that he saw someone that looked like you darting around on the rooftops of all things, so he ran up ahead."
Yamamoto's cheery explanation tapered off as Gokudera appeared on the scene. The bomber brightened as his eyes fell on his boss. "Juudaime, good morning! Eh, the baseball idiot found you first?" he said in disbelief. "How the hell did you know where the Juudaime was before me?"
Yamamoto just smiled. "I could tell!"
Gokudera looked sceptical. "You could tell?"
"Mhm." Yamamoto's smile didn't falter. "Technically, I wasn't lying when I said nobody passed me. Did you see the culprit?"
"Yeah, just some rotten schoolgirl. I scared her off; she wasn't a huge threat or anything." Gokudera's eyes were unusually keen as he stared at Yamamoto. "Are you sure that you're not some sort of UMA in disguise?"
"Hah, what? A UMA? What's that?"
Gokudera ignored him in favour of sulking. "My underboss intuition failed me!" He quickly turned to Tsuna and clutched at his arm. "I was held up today, Juudaime! I will correct myself and come to your house a full three hours earlier to ensure you don't have to walk to school unprotected! Here, let me carry your bag!"
"Don't worry! I can…carry it," Tsuna finished lamely. Gokudera had already seized his bag.
The bomber's zeal was replaced by confusion, as he stared down at the bag and weighed it in his arms experimentally. "Huh, it feels heavier than usual. What's in here?"
Tsuna remembered the illegal goods. "…Books."
"No, there's more than that. Besides your textbooks, lunch and pencil case, there appears to be weapons in here. Juudaime, you're always so prepared! That's one of the many reasons why I respect you!"
Tsuna was left feeling a bit awkward.
"Now let's see…" Gokudera closed his eyes, forehead furrowed. "A small rocket launcher…the spherical shapes are grenades, possibly Rheinmetall, and I can distinguish two pistols…huh. One of them is definitely a Baby Eagle – they used to be known as the Jericho 941 – and I think the other is an FN Five Seven, though that's a little unusual to have since its sales have been restricted to military and law enforcement personnel by the manufacturing company…" Gokudera noticed Tsuna and Yamamoto staring at him. "What? You pick up a few things when you grow up surrounded by assassins and mafia hitmen."
"Wow," was the first thing that popped out of Yamamoto's mouth.
Tsuna understood the sentiment. "Your explanation was a lot more thorough than I thought it would be," he said. "I actually took those off Lambo before he went to kindergarten. I was planning to store them with the DC for the day so I won't get busted for carrying around illegal firearms. You can really get all that without even looking in the bag?"
"Heh," Gokudera grinned. "Trust me Juudaime; I know this stuff like the back of my hand."
"I wonder about you two sometime." Yamamoto slung his arms around both their shoulders. "Maybe you two can talk about your toys later? It's just I can't afford to be late and get detention, there's baseball practice after school."
"Toys? Baseball freak, these weapons are not to be taken lightly! You really should know this stuff, it's useful!" Gokudera said as the three of them broke out into a run.
"I guess I'm not that into guns and gadgets – if I ever took anything up I always assumed it would be a sword like my old man!"
"Well, if you do, you'd better be damn good; otherwise you'll stand the chance of going by the philosophy of 'those who live by the sword get shot by those who don't'. What do you think, Juudaime?"
"I don't know. Guns aren't really my area. I'm more of a knives or blunt instrument type of person."
"T-there's nothing wrong with that, Juudaime! Vongola Terzo was great with knives!"
In the meantime, one determined schoolgirl brushed dirt and random bits of explosive material off her clothes as she tottered off to Midori Middle school campus. Haru Miura stared up at the sky, clenched her fists, and swore vengeance. "Don't worry Reborn-chan, Haru will set you free! I'll get you Sawada Tsunayoshi – and that bomber delinquent too!"
Outdoor Takoyaki Vendor
Haru did not have long to wait.
"So you're my comrade for wanting to rescue Reborn-chan, onee-san!" the schoolgirl said cheerfully. Her little investigation into Reborn's home life somehow ended up with her commiserating with another woman by the name of Bianchi. It was nice having allies in her quest against that despicable Sawada. "Rebocchi is such a cutie, isn't he?" she sighed.
"Yes, he's wonderful," Bianchi said.
"How could he involve Reborn-san in a hitman game like that? Honestly!"
"You're absolutely right," the lady said, flicking a lock of hair over her shoulder. "I don't think Tsunayoshi quite understands the full gravity of the situation. After all, Reborn is the best in a very competitive field. Frankly, his time is being wasted in this miserable town." She sniffed. "Ah, I can never forget about those thrilling assassination days…"
"Huh?" Haru stopped chewing her takoyaki. Bianchi had actually started tearing up into her whisky. "Onee-san?" Haru asked tentatively. She almost jumped out of her chair as Bianchi put down her drink with a loud bang.
"Can you believe it?" the older woman seethed, sorrow quickly turning to anger. "First it was that Cavallone boy, and now he's been saddled with another student to babysit 24/7! I can't even kill him off if I wanted to! Why must there be so many obstacles in the way of love? What did I do to deserve this? Besides killing off loads of people, and having somewhat questionable morals, and maybe destabilising the Italian Government…"
Something told Haru that she was becoming acquainted with some very dangerous people. "Oh please, don't tell me he wasn't joking…" she whispered, unsettled.
Unfortunately this thought kept her up at night, and what little sleep she had was filled with dreams of gunfights, explosions and yellow jumpsuits. By morning Haru was tired and grumpy, but she had also decided on a course of action, so she dragged herself to the bridge and staked it out until she saw the telltale figure that was her prey.
"Good morning," she groaned, tottering forward. "Remember me? I'm Haru, who couldn't sleep last night because everything's been messed up, my thoughts included. It's all your fault."
Sawada Tsunayoshi gaped at the figure she presented. "Oh no. Is this normal for you? You're going to get heatstroke with that kendo armour in this weather."
"Don't you mock me!" Haru shifted the motorcycle helmet in her left arm, and held her weapon of choice in front of her. "Listen, I've been thinking about this whole thing."
"You have, have you?"
"If Reborn-chan is a real hitman, then I think you, as a bonafide mafia-boss-to-be, would be very strong." She put the motorcycle helmet on purposefully. "If you're strong, then no matter how much foolishness you're involved in, I'll believe Reborn-chan, and I won't interfere, and I'll even stop complaining. So please have a match with me!"
Tsunayoshi stared at her oddly. "You're challenging me to a duel?"
"…Okay. Sadly not a first for me."
Haru's hands tightened as she mentally prepared herself for battle.
"I do get what you're saying," Tsuna continued, "though you're very upfront in proclaiming your challenge. You do realise that doing that in situations with actual mafia men can lead to other situations that will get you shot, right?"
Haru screamed a war cry and ran forward with her hockey stick held aloft.
"Right. Just so we're clear."
A feint to the left from Tsuna, and Haru bit back a curse when the hockey stick only hit asphalt rather than flesh. She swiped at him again, and again, but he evaded them all with swift movements. "Ergh, I can't hit you!" Haru panted.
"The armour's not helping," Tsuna said in resignment. "Even with the added protection, it's only slowing you down, and the heat will get to you sooner or later." In fact, the only upside was that besides the protection it offered, Haru's outfit had the bonus of rendering her anonymous – Tsuna did not have that luxury. It was a good thing that there weren't any onlookers around to see the events on the bridge.
Haru brought up her weapon again and started swinging it around crazily in her efforts to hit him. "I don't know what to think – Ayako-sempai said you were – a nice guy," she said through gritted teeth. "How does one – end up becoming – a mafia boss anyway? For all – I know, you probably – kick puppies in your spare time – and steal candy from small children." There! She saw an opening, and her hockey stick swung through the air, making a beeline for Tsuna.
The hockey stick was brought to a halt as it met with an obstacle in its path. Tsuna pushed against it, making Haru take a few steps back from the force. Sweat dripped down her forehead from beneath her visor. "You…"
Tsuna brandished the metal crowbar in front of him. "It's as I thought. There is no reasoning with you. If you want to fight me so badly, then fine. Do so. Well?" he said, as she just stood there indecisively. "It's not like I wasn't expecting you to pull something, so go on and try to hit me again!
Haru squared her shoulders and held the hockey stick before her. "Are you taking me seriously now?" she called, coming at him.
"I never take anything seriously," Tsuna said, meeting her blow with a parry of his own. "How else would you expect me to get through life?"
Haru continued to trade blows with Tsuna at a furious pace. "What brought about such an outlook?"
Tsuna bent back, the hockey stick narrowly missing his nose. "Just have a look at what we're doing now," he said. "I'm up against a Japanese schoolgirl wearing kendo armour and a motorcycle helmet trying to bash me up on a bridge with a hockey stick, and I'm defending myself with a crowbar while trading blows and discussing the philosophy of my life. We are fighting over something stupid that my chibi hitman tutor orchestrated for kicks. I can't even take myself seriously here!"
Haru had never been one to keep her opinions back, and even when a small part of her was sort of laughing at this going 'Good one, Sawada!' she still voiced her dissent. "Sure, it's bizarre, but as a baby-"
With an almighty blow, the crowbar sent the hockey stick flying out of Haru's grasp and over the bridge railing. "Reborn, a baby?" Shadows fell across Tsuna's irritated face. "He's like a hundred years old, for crying out loud!"
"No way!" Haru yelled. "You're a liar!"
"You're just saying that because you don't know the rumours, you – shotacon!"
While the entire charade turned from attacking blows to insults and wild gestures, Gokudera had the remarkable timing to walk past the bridge. His eyes immediately spotted his boss, along with the bulky figure the boy was arguing with.
"Juudaime?" he said aloud, cigarette falling forgotten from his lips. Was…was his boss in a yelling match with someone? Perhaps there had been another attempt on his life? The armoured figure didn't look like the usual assassin fare, and kendo armour wasn't exactly Kevlar…but then again disposable hitmen weren't known for being classy when out killing people.
Gokudera snapped out of bewilderment when the armour lifted up a hand in a vaguely derogatory manner towards Tsuna. "Did you just – oh, now you've done it!" Gokudera drew out his dynamite. "How dare you!"
The next thing Haru experienced was a loud bang that left her eardrums rattling, and heavy plumes of black smoke that impaired her vision. Essentially left ineffective, the bomb blast (and confusion that came with it) threw Haru off balance, and her impact with the river made quite the splash.
Haru struggled through the cold water. She'd lost her helmet somewhere on the bridge, but the armour was dragging her down. God, the armour's heavy…and I can't swim in it. This sucks. I should have chosen a better place as a battleground. What were you thinking, Haru? Challenging mafia types like that…he's probably laughing at you right now. Her head went under twice, and then she felt something seize her arm and force her head back up to the surface. She gasped and spluttered as her lungs took in air, all the while being tugged towards the shore.
It was Tsuna. He had plainly jumped in after her.
"Thanks very much," Miura Haru mumbled.
"Geez, what were you thinking? If you pull a stunt like that again and something happens to the Juudaime, I'll make sure you won't exist in this world," Gokudera said grumpily.
"I'll keep that in mind," Haru said from underneath the towel she had draped over her head. Her enthusiasm seemed to have subsided – for now.
"What did you just say?"
Or perhaps not.
While this was happening, Tsuna turned to the real culprit behind everything, whose manifestation was unwelcome but expected. Yelling with Haru had gotten rid of more bottled-up stress, and he was feeling a lot calmer than how he could have been as he confronted Reborn. "See? Take this as an example as why you shouldn't share my life with the rest of the population. Do you want me to die so badly? You're a mobster, you could have lied."
"Now where's the fun in that? People find out secrets for a number of reasons. You should be able to face these situations when they come at you," Reborn said. He had seen most of the exchange on the bridge from a hang glider up above. ^
"Haru thinks I'm the devil spawn. Or possibly just a freak."
"You're in the mafia. You'll get used to it."
"Forget taking the restraining order on her, I should take it on you." The boss candidate shook his head, and a frown appeared on his face. "Hold that thought for a minute – I just remembered something." With that, Tsuna went to the water's edge and dived right back in.
"Juudaime?" Gokudera yelped.
"Tsuna-san?" Haru peered out from under her towel.
The boy soon resurfaced, an object clutched tightly in his hand. He swum back to shore, got back up on the bank and, dripping water everywhere, Tsuna walked up to Haru held out the hockey stick as if it were a sacred olive branch. "If I return this to you, will you promise not to hit me with it?"
Haru blinked. "Yes."
"Oh good," Tsuna sighed. "I get enough of this crap from the assassins, and I really don't want to have to deal with you dishing out your idea of justice. Things like Child Helpline exist for a reason."
Gokudera quickly dumped another towel on Tsuna's head. "Juudaime, you'll catch a cold!" he fussed. "Maybe we should get you back to your house."
"It's okay, I'm fine," the smaller boy dried his hair. Regardless, Gokudera picked up Tsuna's crowbar and started ushering his boss in the direction of home.
Haru unsteadily got to her feet. "Oi, Juudaime!" she called out, hastily brushing the wet hair from her face.
"Eh?" Tsuna turned around even as he winced at the title. One really shouldn't respond to the title of Juudaime – it gave people ideas. (Even with Gokudera's refusal to use his real name, the thought had come a bit too late, and he could only wonder about how many wrong impressions could be made when one was referred to as the Tenth).
Form of address aside, Haru was now smiling at him pleasantly, much like when they'd first come across one another. "It was very wonderful of you to save me."
"Uh, no problem," Tsuna said. "Anyone would have done the same."
"That's not the point. M-my heart is pounding!" she continued.
"Oh, that's probably from the adrenaline rush. You look a bit flushed – go home, lie down for a bit, and you'll be fine."
Reborn kicked him in the shin. "Stupid Tsuna. You just put your life on the line to save a girl from drowning. Her heart is not just pounding from the adrenaline, take my word for it."
Tsuna looked down at his tutor. "She's not going into shock, is she?"
"You're an idiot."
Haru was indeed quite red in the face. "What I meant to say…" She tried again, because she wasn't by nature a shy girl. "Haru thinks that she may have fallen for Tsuna-san!"
"Oh? Oh. Hiiie?"
Gokudera shared his sentiment. "What is with you and your inconsistency, woman? First you try to kill the Juudaime, and now you're professing your love?"
(Tsuna decided to not call Gokudera out on that one. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black). He went with "B-but I thought you liked Reborn!" instead.
Haru's arms were wrapped around herself. "But I feel like being hugged by you, Juu-dai-me," she said slowly, before launching forward with her arms wide open, hockey stick lying forgotten on the ground this time.
"No, wait! Stay back! You're delusional! The near-death experience has addled your senses!"
"Just because you're a mafia boss doesn't mean you're necessarily an asshole! I think Ayako-sempai was right, you are a nice guy after all!"
"…At least Tsuna's got a possible mafia mistress out of this entire thing," the hitman reasoned while watching the two run around in the sun (Tsuna looking rather weirded out by the entire thing).
"I don't approve!" Gokudera screamed after them. "You get away from the Juudaime's personal space, witch!"
Reborn sighed. Ah, to be young and foolish.
The Tarantino Estate, Southern Italy
Tsuna's plight had been kept under wraps for some time from the general mafia populace, in part because it hadn't registered as any more than faint whispers for the time being, and because most Families had more pressing matters to worry about than what some kid in Japan was doing with his life.
For now, anyway.
The Beccio, for example, had been planning this mission for months. Members kept together in tight-knit units as they surrounded the property, many of them spreading out into the surrounding vineyards to conceal their presence.
Squadrone Colombo was currently making their way deeper into treacherous territory. At one point, the four-man unit were greeted by a well-worn sign placed smack-bang among the lattices.
WARNING: PRIVATE PROPERTY.
TRESPASSERS WILL BE SHOT.
SURVIVORS WILL BE SHOT AGAIN.
"I take it they don't entertain guests here very often," one of them, Fierro, said. They moved forward once more, but came across another sign soon afterwards.
UNWANTED GUESTS MAY ALSO BE CLUBBED WITH EXTREME PREJUDICE.
There were some faint stains marring the wood that was certainly not from grapes. Like the first notice, it went ignored by Squadrone Colombo. The property was quiet around them, though there was a kind of expectant stillness in the air. The greenery that was their cover swayed gently, as if caught in an invisible breeze.
It was never really a good idea to butt heads with the Acerbi – however, the botched Quattrocchi job months before meant some very risky moves had to be done, for the good of the Famiglia.
It didn't mean they had to like it.
"Bloody Acerbi," Alonzo said, swatting at a wayward vine.
SERIOUSLY. GET THE FUCK OFF MY LAWN.
Fierro's hands clenched at the third sign. "If I didn't already know that we'd disabled the cameras, I'd think that he could still see us!" he hissed.
"We aren't the first to come here," the tall man known as Nespola replied. "He could be anticipating our every move."
"Shit. This was a bad idea from the start." Alonzo shifted uncomfortably and scowled. "You hear about the Traversini scouts? He stuck their severed heads up on pikes."
It was not the best start to a mission.
A scream punctured the air. Their heads shot up, and the scream cut off as suddenly as it started. It left them all shaken, edgy. Ugo swore under his breath. Something had gone wrong. Something must have been overlooked.
A faint rippling motion passed through the greenery they were surrounded by. Leaves twitched. Pebbles shifted. It was like the Beccio had roused something. "Run," Ugo said, and they immediately broke out into a sprint, secrecy be damned. The vegetation around them snapped to attention, and soon vines were reaching out with thin tendrils. All around them, they could start to hear the curses and shouts of their comrades, as the very plants around them started to attack.
"They say – Tarantino's missus – is fond of – dangerous things," Nespola panted, pistol-whipping the creeping plants that had launched themselves at his face. "But fucking homicidal plants?"
"Look at who she's married to," Alonzo spat. He suddenly yelped as thick, ropy vines snagged his ankles, before pulling him abruptly off his feet.
"Alonzo!" Fierro cried, but the unlucky mobster had already been dragged off into the underbrush, fingers scraping against the soil in a fruitless attempt to escape. More foliage dived at them, and the three men did the best they could and made for the villa, dodging a variety of vines, flowers and poison ivy that snapped at their heels.
Other squadrons struggled, shooting at the attacking plants. Some of the more level-headed ones were trying to set the attacking plants on fire, but it wasn't as effective as they had hoped, given that any burning greenery would then latch onto the nearest person.
The Beccio weren't in possession of any flames, so running around while on fire was a new and unpleasant experience.
They had originally chosen a time to strike when only a handful of inner Acerbi members would be present, believing it to be a window of opportunity. They were to hit hard and fast, and have the element of surprise on their side. But with the fracas going on, the inhabitants of the house would have had to be very, very deaf to be unaware of their company.
The front door to the villa opened, and a large figure filled the frame – a man dragging a hefty metal weapon behind him. The sound of the war hammer trailing along the gravel could have set anyone's teeth on edge.
Dante Tarantino observed his property, hand idly resting on his chin. His attention was captured by a score of Beccio men who emerged from the vineyard covered in scratches, but with plenty of fighting spirit in them and a variety of weapons.
Enemy forces assailing your quarters, possibly wishing to kill you? The hint of an unpleasant smile crossed Dante's face as he brought up the war hammer. It was just another day at the office.
With that in mind, the outcome was not that suprising. Twenty minutes into the initial invasion and more than half of the Beccio forces were already out of commission in one form or another.
"I FIND YOUR INCOMPETENCE AND GENERAL STUPIDITY AMUSING!"
Dante on the other hand was enjoying himself. There was nothing like busting a few skulls to relieve work-related stress.
While violence was rampant in the fields, Fierro, Nespola and Ugo, through fear-driven necessity, had gotten through the back entrance of the villa, shoving the door closed behind them. Some of the plants tried to follow, and left severed rose stems and wilted leaves on the floor as they were crushed.
The three of them stood there for a moment in that empty hallway, backs pressed up against the door, hearts hammering. Still reeling from Alonzo's fate and the uncertainty of their own, they focused on the task at hand and took a closer look at their surroundings. Roman-style architecture surrounded them, along with rich wall hangings. The wooden floorboards were covered with plush carpets that muffled their footfalls.
The Tarantino Estate comprised of Dante's personal villa, surrounded by fertile lands which produced some really great wine. The picturesque scene of Italian beauty was perhaps marred by the gunshots peppering the air from outside.
"Okay," Nespola said. "What is our goal?"
"Get a hold of the Lombardi documents," Fierro said. "We need those movements, and the Acerbi took them from the Traversini a few days back, so they've got to be stashed here somewhere."
"Take advantage of any opportunity to gather intelligence and strike against the Acerbi," Ugo said.
"Ensure that this mission is not a complete failure," Nespola finished. They weren't too familiar with the layout of the sprawling villa, but what little information they had and guesswork would have to suffice. "Okay. We have to cover more ground, so splitting up it is. As much as I'd like the safety of numbers, we don't have a lot of time and only the three of us have managed to breach the building so far." Each man chose a different hallway, opened a door, and cautiously scouted out their area with weapons on hand.
- Door Number One -
Fierro found the small archive room through sheer dumb luck. It was down a narrow flight of stairs, squished between a sitting room and a walk-in wardrobe. It wasn't much, just a few filing cabinets, an old computer and printer. No doubt the main archives room in the heart of Acerbi territory was by far more extensive, but any piece of information could be useful. He grasped the handle of the nearest filing cabinet and drew it open, hands flicking through row after row of folders. He smirked when he came across recognisable cream-coloured sheaf of papers. The Lombardi documents, perfect.
Most of the other papers were encoded, slang or otherwise, while others were completely illegible. His fingers hovered over an unremarkable piece of paper lodged in a file marked Y – among the scattered words were the recurring symbols of lupo, rainbow, and the letter V. For a time, Fierro had worked among Beccio intel, and though these were the only things he recognised, it was enough to make him stuff it into his jacket with the Lombardi documents for further observation.
After a pause, he hitched his gun into his belt and then started to empty every single filing cabinet he could get his hands on. Papers and documents were piled into a heap on the concrete floor. The Mafia didn't normally have great records, simply because keeping incriminating information lying around was tantamount to serving yourself up on a platter. Writing anything down in this business could lead to disaster in the future.
Fierro was aware of the fact that it would be impossible to bring all the documents with him, so the next best thing he could think of was destroying their records. If the papers he carried on him didn't hold anything of importance to the Beccio, they could always find other uses for them. It would prove troublesome for the Acerbi if their papers somehow made their way into the hands of a prosecutor, Fierro thought as he withdrew a box of matches from a pocket.
The Beccio underling never got the chance to light it. A metal stick rapped his knuckles sharply, before smashing against the side of his face. Fierro was flung against the concrete wall, and soon found a golf club pressed against his windpipe. He gazed up at a tall, bespectacled man and the words caught in Fierro's throat. To be caught without a weapon at this instant! "Y-you're…"
"Bastardo." Walter smashed the golf club down on Fierro's head, feeling very satisfied with the sharp thwack it made. "Now I have to file those all over again." +
- Door Number Two -
While Fierro was having the tar beaten out of him, Ugo was walking down his respective corridor. After finding nothing of note, he was planning to head for another part of the villa when a soft voice drifted down from the end of the hall to his ears.
"…Why Mr Teddy, would you like some tea? It was imported from India, you know. Of course Sophia, I'd love a cookie, thank you for offering…"
It occurred to him that he had come across something so much better than sensitive documents. Lips widened into a smile. Jackpot. Ugo silently made his way towards the source of the noise, clutching his P90. In seconds, he was shoving the door open, gun pointing forward.
Empty. The room was deserted? But he was sure he had heard something. After lingering at the entrance, Ugo finally crossed the threshold. The room was painted in shades of lilac and sky blue, with painted butterflies scattered on ceiling, surrounded by glow-in-the-dark stars.
The place was devoid of life. He had been so confident…
The man stopped as he got to a small table set near the window. It was set out prettily, with lamingtons and an assortment of biscuits spread out on a dainty tablecloth. A worn brown bear sat on a small stool next to a doll. The entire thing looked like it had been in use only minutes ago. He slowly picked up an abandoned cup of tea. It was still warm.
On an instant, his face was rammed into the table. Bits of china and food were sent flying, and the wooden structure collapsed under his weight and the sheer force behind the blow. His gun skittered to the other side of the room, and the Beccio minion was left dazedly slumped on the largest piece of the table's surface that had stayed intact.
A hand gripped him by the hair and lifted his head roughly. Small lacerations from the cups and plates peppered Ugo's face. Squinting hazily at his foe, Ugo was confronted by a pair of small dark eyes, set in a petite face. They were so, so cold.
Berenice Tarantino, seven year old daughter of Dante Tarantino, stared down at him. "You weren't invited to my tea party, bitch."
- Door Number Three -
Nespola was surprised to find the hallway narrowing before him to finish off at a solitary metal door. He carefully put his hand on the doorknob, then ducked as it swung open while bringing up an elbow to jab the incoming man in the gut.
His foe collapsed. The dirty overalls the guy was wearing made it apparent that this was not a made man by any stretch, but more likely domestic help or some such. Still, Nespola thought as he swiped the walkie talkie and a torch from the man's utility belt, there was a good chance that even the scant domestic help here could operate machine guns.
He went through the metal door, and after five minutes of walking the dark passageway tapered off. Soon Nespola was opening a latch and finding himself blinded by sunlight. "Shit." He was on the other side of the villa, on a curving dirt road and a garage. "What am I doing outside again?"
Bzzzp. -North-eastern sect- the walkie talkie crackled and he held it up, ears craning to hear what was being said on the line. He fiddled with the dials, trying to get rid of the static.
At that moment, a red Mini swerved around the corner of the road and hit him with little fanfare.
Nespola crumpled in the dirt. Not a very dignified defeat.
In comparison the driver of the Mini, one Jen Tarantino, was both stately and calm. "Oh dear, I appear to have hit someone. Not one of ours, is he?"
Adelardi peered outside the window of the moving vehicle at the disappearing figure. "Definitely not one of ours, though I do recognise the man. Beccio lackey, Nespa or something like that."
"Just as I though – another invasion," Jen said, turning around a bend in the dirt road. "I did wonder who was taking pot-shots at us when we turned into the road. Sometimes I think that Dante likes entertaining guests here."
"Not much to be done aside from the proper precautions –these things happen," Dante's right hand man said diplomatically.
Jen frowned. "Well, if they've buggered up my roses, I'm sticking the boot in, make no mistake." She swerved again, this time avoiding a man on fire who had emerged from the bushes to their right. "Good grief, you'd think people would be deterred by now. And I made Dante put up all those signs too."
"The enemy forces probably took it as a challenge, Signora."
Adelardi stared up at the approaching villa. "Caro Dio!" he exclaimed, as a huge green mass emerged in the distance, followed by screams at the sight of a red gaping maw. "Have the begonias mutated?"
"Oh, don't worry," Jen said, "that would be the Giant Venus Flytraps. You know, I was worried they wouldn't take to the climate here, but they appear to be flourishing wonderfully!" She looked through the window with interest. "Ah, I see they've been trying to set the Flytraps aflame. Bit useless really, they tolerate fire quite well…"
It was at times like these that Adelardi was made acutely aware of just how suitable the match between the Boss and Signora was.
- End Result of Squadrone Colombo KO -
After some time Dante had moved into the house, and was currently laughing at the bedraggled remnants of the enemy force when a small figure collided with his own.
Berenice looked up at him, eyes wet with unshed tears. "Papa," she said, hiccupping, "some bastard pissed me off and I chucked him off the balcony but I misjudged my strength again and he landed in Mama's rose garden and it's the third time I've accidentally done it and when she finds out Iamsofucked!"
"Slow down. And mind your language," Dante said. This was what happened when your impressionable daughter grew up surrounded by mobsters who swore in every second sentence.
"I am in so much trouble!" Berenice amended her words with a wail. "When Mama gets home…!"
Dante faltered only for a second, before reaching out a hand and caressed her head. "Shit happens. She'll understand you didn't mean it," he said gruffly.
The Beccio members present were dumbfounded. It was the first time they'd personally seen the Acerbi Boss show any degree of gentleness and affection towards another human being.
"You can explain to her when she gets back," Dante continued. "Now, have you been practicing your eye gouges?"
Berenice rubbed at her eyes and puffed up indignantly. "Of course I have."
Dante sat back on a nearby armchair and pointed to the Beccio men before him. "Training exercise," he said. "Maiming only, extra points for creativity."
His daughter sniffled before considering them. "I dunno. They're all tired out, hardly a challenge."
"You know what your mother says about me getting you getting involved in this."
"…That we should spend more time together without unchecked violence entering into the equation?"
"Yes, that. So it's going to be practice in a controlled environment first."
"Oh, alright," Berenice said, pushing up her sleeves.
It should be said that by the age of four, Berenice had been foiling her own assassination attempts for future preparation, and genetics from her father alone left her with the ability to bench-press more than three times her own weight. It went unspoken that Dante the family man was equally as terrifying as Dante the Family man.
Once Dante declared Berenice's handiwork acceptable, all captured Beccio forces were ushered away (with the last enemy having to be fished out of the rose gardens). "See? And that is how violence solves everything. Any questions?"
Berenice kissed him fondly on the cheek. "Papa, you always know how to make me feel better."
Walter coughed pointedly from where he was standing to one side. "Much as I hate to break this truly touching father-daughter moment…"
"In a minute," Dante said, before beckoning to the group of Acerbi men who had finished rounding up all the invaders. "You. You all were in the north, right?" he asked. "Some guys evaded you and breached the villa's boundaries first. You scumbags have just earned yourselves tea party duty. Next time it'll be losing your left ears."
"Aw shit," was the collective response. Berenice just smiled and latched onto the nearest one, telling him that pink was so his colour.
Punishment successfully allocated, the Acerbi Boss relinquished his men to his daughter's preteen clutches and turned back to Walter. "Okay, make it quick," he grunted. "I have to notify Jen that I've been meaning to redecorate."
"Duly noted," his wife said, materialising in the foyer with a grocery-laden Adelardi in tow. "Just tell me when it's time to pick out the paint."
Walter sighed inwardly. Why did all the interruptions crop up when there was paperwork to deal with?
"Have I told you how much I love you?"
"Ever since we met in the Northern Territory," Jen said. "Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to check up on Berenice. Did anyone feed the python while I was out?"
Walter, very carefully, did not roll his eyes as the Acerbi Boss observed the caved-in ceiling with interest.
"Dante," Jen said disapprovingly, "you know Paul gets terrible indigestion from eating your enemies." Her eyes softened anyway. "I'll wait a bit before I get him to regurgitate the man back up," she said, kissing her husband. "Better let you boys get back to business."
She headed off, and Adelardi went to follow her, but not before turning to his boss. "Five snipers at different points after we turned off the highway," he said. "They were taken care of, but there's one trussed up with Matko. We'll be able to ask the guy a few questions before sending him back with a message to the Beccio."
"You left him alive?" Walter said.
Adelardi's face was inscrutable. "He didn't aim at Signora."
"At least some of the Beccio still uphold the proper traditions," Dante muttered.
It had often been standard practice to leave the lady and kids out of the picture when dealing with mafia matters. A great many still stuck by this, but there were always those scumbags (usually new generation, lots of money and little respect, rarely traditionalists) who would take a cheap shot wherever they could.
Beccio were generally the traditional types, but it was rumoured that they were going into new management, and this entire ploy smelled of desperation. No doubt some enterprising upstart was weaselling his way into the top job, and trying to cement his reputation – unfortunately, he was doing this by fucking around with the wrong Famiglia. Dante made a mental note to kill off this new Beccio guy before his cockiness forced Dante to go on a killing spree.
Walter handed over the report after Adelardi left for the kitchens. "It's as you thought, they were after the Lombardi documents. Only problem is, they came across something else." The Head of Administration pulled a piece of paper from his pocket and gingerly handed it to his boss. "You didn't get the chance to see this after we received it last night. Just be glad the Beccio didn't make off with it. Though I suppose even they'll find out about its contents sooner or later. Word travels."
The hulking man stared down suspiciously at the paper. "Sensitive, is it? Let's see…Cavallone Famiglia, heh, wonder if they got that Dino boy to man up…"
Walter waited. His anticipation came armed with earplugs for good reason.
Dante's eyes narrowed as his eyes travelled further downwards on the paper. "Volkov?" His eyes widened. "Coyote fucking Nougat? Vongola Nono? REBORN?"
Yep, there it was.
The Tarantino villa shook with Dante's roar of "WALTER, GET ME THE FUCKING PHONE!"
* - This is why he'd taken to sneaking in computer manuals, Japanese folktales and manga to class. It was either that or taking up knitting at the back of the classroom.
# - Bianchi had a habit of doing something similar when she had been younger and Reborn was in the area, offering him cookies and such. He'd accepted the food, if only so he could use them to contaminate the meals of eminent political figures (for a bit of a laugh).
^ - Though the buffering winds had made it a little difficult to hear the entire conversation, like that bit in the end about a hundred years and shotacons, whatever that was supposed to mean.
+ - It went without saying that the administration of any organisation, particularly those like the mafia, should not be treated with disrespect. You never knew what 'paper pushers' would push onto those who'd stirred their anger.
Jinbocho is said to be known for used bookstores and publishing companies, along with curio and antique shops.
Reborn uses the CZ 75 pistol, which is understandable given it's got a pretty good reputation and is reasonably priced for its good quality. (Very popular worldwide, the Czech Republic in particular since that was where it was created).
One of Lambo's pistols mentioned, the Baby Eagle, really was previously called the Jericho 941 back in 1990, and was based on the designs of the CZ 75. It was also built using parts from the Italian firearms company Fratelli Tanfoglio S.N.C. All of this background information, just to showcase some real guns and how Lambo pursues Reborn's example even down to weapon type.
The FN Five-seven was only introduced to civilians in 2004. Previously it had been restricted by the FN company for military and police forces, such as the U.S Secret Service.
(But don't completely take my word for it, as the Internet occasionally lies).
Anon. Reviews Corner
RandomFreakzoid: After at least six months of no updating, I have come back to offer another chapter to pacify all the patient readers and update soon people. I can only hope that you'll enjoy it like the others. (Yes, Tsuna needs people to watch his back. How else could he manage for so long if there weren't at least a few people to lend him a hand every now and again?)
…Maybe the OCs just really enjoy weaving around in the fabric of the TMWY!verse, and the feeling's infectious? After all the reviewing/fangirling, rest assured that the love is mutual :)
HanenoZaia: It just seems to take me longer and longer to update -_- But of course I'm very happy to hear that you like it and want to read more!
Drunk: I'm glad the humour goes down well for you. Thanks for reviewing :D
YouknowwhoIam: Asgfj, you're doing a lot better with your workload than me. I'm envious.
TitansrUs: I'm glad (and I can only hope that this chapter was also worth the wait). Hope this chapter explained a few things, and that you're ready for more from the likes of the Acerbi and Volkov. They're just two mafia families among many in the TMWY!verse, but they do like turning up at odd moments. I'll probably also have to expand on that particular moment in Tsuna's life. Cooking tournaments are always so amusing.
Thanks for reviewing. You've survived this far, I'm sure you can take anything this throws at you :D
green-road: Like I've said above, I hope this chapter was also worth the wait – it took a long time before I could buckle down and get this done. This story is essentially powered by mafia-related mayhem, so welcome to Tsuna's life, and expect more to come. At least we can enjoy his suffering when he can't. Thanks for reviewing again!
AkumanoMi: Hey, sorry it took so long for me to reply! I'm glad you've enjoyed what I've written. From canon characters to original ones, I'm happy to bring the mafia to a more global scale with humour and craziness mixed in.
I don't mind the musings on guardian positions; it's interesting what you've come up with here. I'm afraid that I'm not deeply familiar with every single anime used, but reading through the depth of though you've put in here, I can understand your choices. I have to admit, I laughed with the idea of Bon Clay as Thunder Guardian, but my god YOU'RE RIGHT! Girono Giovanna also seems like a good Sun Guardian, as is Nekki Basara for Rain. Storm can be tricky – Luffy and Natsu both have a kind of forthright attitude and protectiveness for their nakama.
Anyway, thanks for reviewing and sharing your opinions. The discussion brings to mind a very crazy crossover, if all the animes were combined to make one Family. Who'd be the Sky that keeps them all in line? That's a rather scary/hilarious thought!
Kelsey: I'll be sure to have it properly explained sometime. And yes, there will eventually be a presence of the American and French mafia around. I'm glad that you like the 'what if' and crack elements woven into the story – I hope you'll continue to enjoy it, and thanks for reviewing!
CrowsMelody: Thanks, I'll try to! :D
ceruleanAndGray: Well thank you, I'm glad that you're enjoying them. I've always wanted to write, so it's strange to hear that you think I might have been born to do it – it's a nice comment. I have been playing around with the idea of one of the characters you mentioned making an earlier appearance – if so, it'll most likely be between Nono and Iemitsu, and won't their reactions be interesting to see.
I like reading and writing long chapters, so that's how the story ended up. And don't worry, your English is pretty good and I can understand it fine. Thanks for reviewing :D
KK: Don't worry, I do intend to continue, even if takes time to update. Allies will show up, enemies will arise from the shadows, and Tsuna will continue to deal with what he has to. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment!
You'llneverfindme: Thank you, I'm really happy that you think so. I like to envision the reasoning behind Tsuna's actions and incorporating them in the plot. I don't intend to stop writing this, though I do expect road blocks like time management and work hindering my progress (and thanks for your understanding when it comes to that). It's great to hear that I've inspired you in some way – I'm the same when reading other great stories on this site, so it's not an unknown feeling.
Reviews are how I know people are enjoying/still reading this. Others might find mistakes I've made (which I try to fix), or tell me what parts they preferred or characters they liked (so I can understand little more about the expectations of the audience – I'm not writing a story just for me anymore). Of course, like you mentioned, this is all great encouragement for a writer. Every comment counts, and I hold onto them all (no matter if they're one sentence or an essay, a glowing review or one that thought a chapter was boring).
You took the time to write a constructive review outlining your thoughts; ergo, you are a good reviewer. So thank you once again, and all the best from me as well.
hola: Ask and you shall receive. It just takes a while sometimes :)
RandomReader: I'm glad to hear it, and make no mistake, I will be continuing.
FFXFan13: Thank you, I'm glad that you gave this story a try. Sorry if there's any confusion surrounding the OCs – I'll see if I can make things a bit clearer in future about who they are, what they do and how they relate to Tsuna. You're not alone when it comes how you view OCs, who are generally met with groans and sighs. Thanks for taking the chance to read the fic, even with the warning of their presence.
On your Gag Manga comment - yes, things are still in their early stages. Expect some smatterings of seriousness to balance out the humour, though it could be more apparent later. This may not appear to have an overarching plot just yet, so we'll see how events play out later. Anyway, thanks for taking the time to comment!
WithmyDyingwill: Really? Well, thanks! I'm glad to hear that you're enjoying this, and I'm sorry that this chapter was not as forthcoming as planned. I found myself with less free time than I started, which was bad for both my schedule and chapter development. Still, don't count me out of the running just yet – I'm too invested in this story to give it up :)
Fangirl1203: Wow, thank you! I feel very fortunate to have written something that you enjoyed (and sorry if it made you cry!) I tried to make that scene with Reborn and Tsuna emotional, because with everything that was going on, they needed a little heart-to-heart. Both of them have it pretty difficult in their lives, so I wanted to show that they were making the best of what they had. Again, thank you so much for taking the time to comment! I appreciate it.
I'm becoming FAIL at this whole updating thing. In any case, the chapter = Notice That The Story Is In Ongoing Process, And Will Be Proceeding With Undetermined Results (But Not Abandoned).
While I'm typing I also want to give a quick shout out to the TYL!Lambo cosplayer at the Supanova Pop Culture Expo, as well as the KHR cast (AND a Hyper Dying Will Tsuna) at Animania Sydney – always nice to see KHR fans in Oz.
I'm also sorry if the flow of the chapter stutters at times. I'm just glad to have buckled down and updated this after sitting on the story for so long and leaving people wondering. Some things didn't make the final cut (otherwise Hana would have turned up) but now we have a proper appearance from Miura Haru, as well as an actual emergence of the Acerbi Famiglia outside of a flashback. If I had fun writing Dante, then Jen is equally entertaining (I mean, she's a mafia wife whose love of flora and fauna takes on a new and dangerous level). You might be happy to see more of the mafia underworld too as the story continues (I know I like writing it, so to those of you asking about Somalian pirates, all in good time).
As for the flashback, it's not as humour-based as others, but KHR fans should recognise a thing or two from canon. It will be continued next chapter, and you can also expect hacker social circles, the Bovino, and a few other twists in chapter 10.
As always, I am indebted to you readers and reviewers for your tireless patience, good humour and the comments you leave behind to remind authors that having A Life is all well and good, but other things should not be forgotten or discontinued. Thanks for sticking around.