CTSC Fun Facts Corner:

For Suzune's twenty-first birthday, future Hibari gave her a bouquet of twenty-one light yellow carnations tinted along the edge with streaks of elegant violet from Portugal. His accompanying words were, "I thought these might suit your taste in flowers". Turns out, it did.

Suzune's mother had originally wanted to name Suzune, "Danika", after her favorite Indies singer. But she lost the rock-paper-scissors match with Suzune's father, so he got the naming rights to their baby instead. She did end up picking Suzune's middle name though. She chose "Claire", because it fits better with the Japanese name that he chose.

Suzune is named "Sawada Suzune" in Japan (it says so on her Japanese Passport), but everywhere else in like the US, she is formally known as Suzune Claire Sullivan (her mother's maiden name).


A/N: Haha! Two chapters in a row! Surpise! Bet you didn't see that coming! Word of warning, I did NOT PROOF READ so there are probably a few mistakes.

Disclaimer: Other than Suzune and the plotline, I do not own KHR or anything in it.

Warning: This chapter contains potty mouth words that pertain to the word feces. It starts with an "s" and ends with a "t", I'll give you three guesses.

-(*w*)-(-.-;)-(o-O)-Chapter 8: Challenge Issued! Catch that Cloud! -(*w*)-(-.-;)-(o-O)-

The sun ducked in and out of the clouds this morning, casting strange shadows down houses, gates, and trees. The weather reports predicted a windy day with light afternoon showers, but so far, everything was just in a phasing gloom.

"Hurry up, Tsuna-nii!" I shouted without looking back. The heavy sound of my footsteps pounded through the morning air as we ran at full speed towards the school. At least, that was what I did anyway. Tsuna-nii was trailing so far behind that I had no idea what he was doing.

"I'm at my limit!" he huffed weakly, his speech muffled by the slice toast he held in his mouth.

"We're gonna be late!" I cried as we rounded another corner. We were still more than a few blocks away from school, but I could already hear the bell ringing in the distance. I sucked in a couple breathes of air. "I blame you for this!"

"Ehh? Me? What did I do?" Tsuna-nii argued, "you weren't helping the situation very much either!"

"Did you see what happened with me?" I wheezed. My lungs burned from the lack of oxygen. Obviously, running at full speed was not the easiest activity to do while facilitating a conversation. "Did you see what he did to my room? How was I supposed to help you? In fact, as the big, strong, male of the family, you should have been helping me! For shame, cousin, for shame!"

I'm sure you've already guess by now that we were late for school … again. Actually, today marks the third time this week and today is Wednesday, so do the math. If I had to say, this has been a most unwelcomed trend that has enforced itself upon us these past few weeks.

Honestly, it's not our fault. I'm not making excuses, it really isn't our fault. Like I said, this trend was forcibly integrated into our lives, by a certain little monster, I won't name any names, but I can tell you it's not Lambo, or I-Pin, or Fuuta. Let me just let that sit for a moment. See if you can figure out who I'm talking about. If you guess right on the first try, I'll give you a lollipop.

The nice thing about Japan is, the schools start at a decently, reasonable time. Waking up at seven in the morning gives you ample time to get from your bed to school for morning practice with a decent breakfast along the way. Pretty much, it's not a bad situation. Except the only thing is, I'm not a morning person. My dad always liked to call me his sleepy cuckoo, I can't really wake up in the mornings – ever.

So to make sure I get up in time, I would put up three different alarms before I go to bed and hide them in different locations to make sure I get up. Most of the time, I don't need all of them. But it's always a good security system, in case I don't hear the first one.

This particular morning, I slept like the dead, as usually. The only difference was, I didn't wake up. Mainly it was because my alarms didn't ring.

At this point in time, I must pause to give you guys some background. It's been about half a month since I moved in with Tsuna-nii and for the most part, I had settled in quite nicely. I fell into a regular routine, found some people to hang out with at lunch, and a nice, quiet napping spot for those times when I would feel the need to be a loner.

In the academics department, I was so-so. Like most kid, I liked art, hated math, and loved physical education - but only when we played soccer. With the exception of Yamamoto, I typically hang out with Tsuna-nii's group every other day if not less. I figured, as much as I like Tsuna-nii's group of buddies, I should go out and mingle on my own. Just so I don't become forever branded as "Sawada Tsunayoshi's foreign cousin". The reason why I see Yamamoto so much is because as of a week and three days ago, I became an active member of the soccer club. There's only one big field in the school, so we share it with the baseball team during practice. Usually, our schedules coincide, so I see frequently Yamamoto most morning and afternoon.

If I had to give an opinion, I'd say that I had settled into a good life. It was nice and stable, just like I've always wanted. Other than the fact that my parents aren't here to contribute to that sense of normality, I have little to wish for. However, there is a flip side to every coin.

The bad thing about living in Japan is my Aunt's eternal kindness. She just keeps taking in more and more people without ever questioning who they are or where they come from. This is especially applicable to the kids. If I were to take in some strange kid into my home (which I wouldn't, but if I were to), I'd probably check to see if it belonged to anyone first - just to avoid any potential lawsuits.

Fortunately and unfortunately, none of the kids really belong to anyone; which mean that we really were stuck with them until they decide to leave. That's why, for the most part, I've just come to accept the fact that Nana-san's had basically been converted into a zoo.

Literally speaking, we've got a scorpion, a cow, and an evil talking baby imported from goodness knows where. Plus it doesn't help that a grumpy octopus headed creature comes practically every afternoon to visit. And when everyone congregates in the living room, things can get loud. I mean, really, really loud.

But I accepted that too. If that was the price for a normal life, then so be it. I was mature about it – I know, I'm proud of me too – and tried my best to only come home when it was time to sleep. Most of the time, I escaped from everything relatively unmolested. Then, three days ago, something happened.

-(*w*)-(-.-;)-(o-O)—Three days ago -(*w*)-(-.-;)-(o-O)-

"Boot camp?" Tsuna-nii asked, half skeptical, half curious, "what do you mean?"

On the other side of the room, I assumed an expression of indifference and casually flipped through a magazine. My headphones were glued to my ears, but secretly, I paused the music to listen. The sudden announcement had every telltale sign of trouble brewing in the distance. Besides, Reborn had specifically said, "I'm putting you guys through boot camp", which meant that he was not addressing Tsuna-nii alone.

"Compared to other mafia children, you two are the most behind in terms of everything," Reborn explained matter-of-factly. "It may seem okay while you're living here, but it's going to become a problem in the near future. Especially you, Suzune, you're listening, aren't you?"

I sighed and sat up from Tsuna-nii's bed, pulling off my headphones as I did. "What do you want?" I half asked warily.

"Tsuna, at the very least, has a small amount of combat experience. As an affiliate of the CEDEF and Vongola, you are currently the least experienced and the weakest in terms of physical strength," Reborn continued.

I made a face at him in response. "I never agreed to anything, little boy," I shot back. "Honestly, I don't plan to have anything to do with the mafia; actually, I'm not even sure if your story is true. Until I confirm it with Mom, I'm going to take your words with a grain of salt."

Reborn's face turned dark and he took a step towards me. Almost Immediately I felt a dire need to dig myself into a corner somewhere far, far away and hide.

"Don't underestimate me," Reborn warned darkly. "And don't call me a little boy. I don't care if you believe me or not, but my job is to make Tsuna into a remarkable mafia boss. Since you are going to assist him closely in the future, it's my job to train you as well, so prepare yourself."

I swallowed a mouthful of defiance and said nothing. First of all, I was a little intimidated, just a little. And second of all, w simply could not have expressed how not cool I was with this anyway.

-(*w*)-(-.-;)-(o-O)—Back to the Present -(*w*)-(-.-;)-(o-O)-

That was when all hell broke loose.

It wasn't training, not really. No sane person would call his methods training. The best way I could describe it was a roundabout attempt to assassinate us using various illegal animals and weaponry. It may even classify as child abuse, except I'm pretty sure no other person in the world has ever done something like this to children.

I swear, sometimes I think that Reborn's doing it just because he has nothing better to do with his time. Yesterday, he even got out a bag of popcorn and watched us like one would a movie as we were getting chased by this giant crocodile. A CROCODILE, how often can you see one of those flopping around in someone's back yard, chasing a bunch of kids, huh?

Ugh! This is beyond frustrating!

So the past few days had gotten me more cuts and bruises and near death experienced than I could actively recall. It was like living one horrific nightmare after another. He just keeps popping in surprise attacks, one more vicious than the next. Honestly, sometimes I have trouble comprehending how he managed to import so many weapons under one roof without anyone noticing.

This morning, he actually snuck into my room and turned off all my alarms. Consequently, I overslept. The only reason I managed to wake up was because I heard an unfamiliar, but distinctive sound of metal clinking against one another. I ignored it at first, but then there was this huge noise. It sounded a lot like when the sunken ship started to slip in that one scene from Finding Nemo.

It alerted me long enough to bring me into a half-awake daze. I forced myself to crack an eye open to make out what was going on and something black crossed my field of vision. For a brief moment, I blinked, uncomprehending. Then the black object moved and the metallic sound filled the room again, and suddenly, my mind kicked into gear and worked everything out.

It was a giant steel ball. A giant steel ball, hooked loosely around an anchor, position directly on top of my bed.

I don't even…

But anyway, I don't think I've ever reacted as fast, or as clumsily, as I did in those brief seconds. To be fair, I didn't quite know what I was supposed to do. I've never really mentally briefed myself on what to do in case I wake up to a wrecking ball hanging on the ceiling. I just sort of did this thing where I half tried to scramble off my bed and half roll away from the area.

It didn't work.

I'm not a very still sleeper. It's sad, but true. Nine times out of ten, I'll wake up sprawled out in weird positions all across my bed, tangled in the blankets. So when I tried to stand and roll out of bed at the same time, it somehow tightened the tangled sheets that I created during the course of the night. They basically constricted around my limbs and I tripped and fell out of bed.

The good news was, I did manage to escape what would have become my literal deathbed. The bad news was, the moment I touched the floor, I think I activated some sort of sensor. There was this buzz and the floor flashed red. Then, I don't know… the walls sort of opened up and I saw these little holes lined up in neat rows on the surface.

I wasn't stupid, of course. I knew that they were there for a reason. Something was coming and I was acutely aware that I needed to move. Now. But I didn't; all I could do was stare. That was a bad idea, of course. In that split second, the wall hummed to life and little tiny knifes shot out from each little hole. I made a mad dash for the door out of fear of being impaled to death, but a few of them got me anyway.

I did manage to make it though. However injured I was, I stumbled out from my room, alive and reasonably angry. Determined to find Reborn, I took a step towards the stairs, only to be interrupted by my cousin. He charged at me from his room, poor guy, screaming something about being strapped to a bomb. So by the time we sorted everything out, both Tsuna-nii and I were running late.

Just before we left, Tsuna-nii and I found that little booger of a baby sitting calmly at the table, sipping coffee like he had all the time in the world. He didn't even bat an eye when I came in. All he said was, "You're late" and kicked me mercilessly out of the window when I complained.

I would report this as child abuse, but I doubt the police will believe me if I went up and said I was being bullied by a toddler. So now, on top of being abused, Tsuna-nii and I might have to face detention for being late for school. Though maybe if I tell Gokudera that his precious boss was being put into detention, I could get him to threaten the teachers into letting us go…

-(*w*)-(-.-;)-(o-O)-Back to the Present -(*w*)-(-.-;)-(o-O)-

We came into the schoolyard as the bells finished ringing. Luckily, we were able to slip through the gates just before it shut. As soon as we stepped in, Tsuna-nii plopped down onto the ground and whined about how things were really unfair. I, on the other hand, had neither energy nor breath to complain, so I just leaned against a wall, trying to restart my respiratory system.

Of course, just because we made it to school, doesn't mean we escaped unscathed. A teacher, the mean one, apparently saw us through his office window. By the time I realized what had happened, he was already upon us, ready to strike us down with a mountain of punishments.

"Sawada Tsunyoshi, Sawada Suzune," he seethed through his teeth.

I looked at him. He reminded me of a bald, fatter version of Snape from Harry Potter. His name was Takagawa Mizuiro and officially, we're supposed to call him Takagawa-sensei, but behind his back, everyone calls him, "Peach"; I have no idea why. He was the type of teacher that tells everyone to be quiet even when no one is talking. The word around the block was that he was still single at forty-five, so he was taking out his frustrations on us. His favorite hobby is giving kids detentions.

"You're late," Peach continued. "Again..."

Aye Aye, Captain Obvious, I almost wanted to say. But that was a bad idea, so I held my tongue.

The silence that ensued his statement was stifling. I obviously had no idea what to do and neither did my cousin, so we just stood there, staring at him and looking dumb. After a moment, Peach sent us one final glare and turned towards the school.

"Come with me," he instructed sternly. "If you give me no reason for being tardy then I'm going to see to it that you two are appropriately punished."

I groaned and Tsuna-nii sighed in defeat.

The trudge to the teachers' office seemed unusually long. The majority of it passed in silence. I tried to catch Tsuna-nii's eye a couple of times, but he seemed too drained to look at anything in particular.

All the teachers stared at us as we walked into the room. I felt myself shrinking just a little. I hate the walk of shame.

Peach led us to his desk and sat down heavily. "Honestly, what is wrong with you kids," he raged. "Young hooligans will only turn into burdens of society, I hope you realize this."

"Yes, sir," Tsuna-nii answered weakly.

I said nothing in particular in response, because you know, I'm such a young hooligan and all. But that seemed to piss Peach off even more.

"A week! I will punish you for a week!" He hissed, "in detention! Until you learn your lessons!"

"A week?" Tsuna-nii groaned in response and he put his hand against his face.

My response was not quite as passive, "Why?!" I demanded, "That was hardly worth a week's detention! We were, at most, two minutes late!"

"Do not argue with me or you'll get more Sawada-san! I will not have any of that rebellious attitude just because you are new!" Peach shot back, "You are excused."

Excused? Seriously? He expects us to leave after punishing us so unfairly? Not on my watch. I was about to go out on a full protest when something caught my eye.

Nakamura Sensei, our math instructor who always stood up for students against Peach, sat in a corner, distractedly looking at a piece of paper. I had expected her to stand up for us, which was the only reason I looked at her in the first place.

But now that I thought about it, most of the teachers in the room seemed especially on edge for some odd reason. So instead of protesting, I turned to Nakamura-sensei and asked, "What's wrong, Nakamura-sensei?"

She looked up at me in response, but Peach spoke instead. "None of your business. Go to class now!"

"Why don't you tell them?" Another teacher suddenly piped up hopefully, "maybe they can help. You know what they say, 'it takes a student to understand another student.'"

Peach considered that for a moment and looked at us. Beside me, I heard Tsuna-nii whimper, but I stared back evenly. A second later, Peach sighed.

"There's an important representative coming to visit this school for the International Board of Education," he explained. "We wanted to give him the best reception possible by using the reception room."

I nodded, "Sounds okay so far. What you want us to decorate it or something?"

"No, the room itself is fine it's just... well, the Disciplinary committee is being...difficult about this. You see, that room is usually occupied by Hibari-kun."

Oh dear heavens, why did I not see that coming? Forget the whole it takes a kid to understand a kid thing. It takes a student to understand a fellow student, sure, but it takes a freaking Hibari to understand another Hibari. That kid is waaaay out there. Besides, I'm pretty sure he was still mad at me about smashing his window the other day.

My first instinct was to tell them: sorry, no can do! But, a second contemplation got me thinking. You know, this could be such a good opportunity to make sure I never get into trouble again.

My father was quite the businessman at heart. In fact, I grew up under the impression that he was an actual businessman. And from time to time, he would say to me, "sweetheart, what's the number one rule in business?"

To which I was trained to reply, "never miss the opportunities!"

Then he'd pick me up and swing me around. "That's my girl," he always praised, "Daddy's going to buy you treats!"

Not that Dad's here now, but this was my treat, my opportunity. I smiled.

"So you want us to somehow get the prefect to evacuate the room for the day?" I asked and grabbed Tsuna-nii to covered his mouth before he could object.

"Yes," Peach answered skeptically. The whole room was silent and still as everyone stared at me. I felt so important, like some sort of professional.

"Okay… what do I get in return?" I pushed.

Peach looked like he was choking on something sour. "Fine, if you can do that, I'll lessen your punishment," he conceded with difficulty.

I cocked an eyebrow and said nothing.

"Okay, I'll cancel it!"

"How about," I grinned smugly, "you guarantee that we won't be subjected to disciplinary action for the rest of the year?"

That pushed him right off the edge. "WHAT?!" He all but exploded, even his face turned purple, "no! Nevermind! Deal's off!"

"Okay..." I shrugged casually and Tsuna-nii sighed in relief in my grasp. I turned to leave, "fine by me. I'm going to class. See you in detention, Takagawa-sensei!"

I could tell he was having serious doubts about his decision. The tension in the air was thick as he turned the option over in his mind. I had taken about five steps when he said, "Wait. Fine. If you do this…" he hesitated; "if you do this, you get to get out of any trouble you get into with the school for the next month and a half. That is the most I am willing to go. Take it or leave it."

I paused my steps. It wasn't a bad option. With a friendly smile, I turned to him. "Deal."

The nervous atmosphere in the room dissipated in immediate relief. Peach sighed, "You have until Friday."

Four days... I mused. Four days to win my prize or meet my doom. Fine. I can do that. I'm taking mafia-training lesson anyway. Okay, got to channel that inner mafia.

I steeled myself and looked around. "Let's get started then," I announced to the room, rubbing my hands together. "Sensei, where's the PA system?" Peach pointed to a corner of the room in answer.

"Ehhhh? EHHH?! Suzune! What are you going to do?!" Tsuna-nii cried.

"Shut up and wait please." I snapped.

Okay… Standing at the edge of the world now… All I have to do is jump.

"Suzune!" Tsuna-nii half pleaded again and I absently shushed him.

Just channel your inner mafia, I told myself.

A second passed and my stomach churned.

Yeah…. nope, definitely don't have any inner mafia to channel.

Despite that, I walked up to the PA system anyway. The system was on standby and the mic was smaller than I expected. Gulping once, I took a deep breath and hollered into it on top of my lungs, "HEY! HIBARI KYOYA! I CHALLENGE YOU TO A DUEL!"

That was the beginning of the end of my life.

Next time: Four Days to Meet My Doom

See ya!