Characters: Superbi Squalo, Yamamoto Takeshi (with Ring Battle cast ensemble)
Warnings: AU, Violence, Profanity, Religious Irreverence (Squalo is a bad Catholic.)
Disclaimer: Katekyō Hitman Reborn! and all its characters are property of Amano Akira. No copyright infringement is intended.
Written For: KHR Fest (LJ Comm). Prompt: I - 48. Squalo/Yamamoto - role-reversal (slave becomes master); "I told you to take the sword more seriously."
Notes: A surfeit of thanks to Ranty Rie and Circles9 for beta reading and helping me hammer down Squalo's characterization. There will be some similar dialogue and events to the canon Varia Arc, but in the context of an alternate universe, which changes a few things. For those curious, an amefurikozō is a spirit boy who can make it rain in Japanese folklore. Concrit is always appreciated on any of my fics.
"This forebodes a coming storm," Reborn explained. He took a sip of his cappuccino.
Superbi stared up at the tall swordsman who stood on the roof of a store. The swordsman smiled amicably down at them, despite the destruction he had wreaked on Namimori's shopping center. Though he appeared Japanese, Superbi knew this man was part of the Italian Mafia. Being a teenage delinquent, Superbi only had managed to enter the Mafia's periphery before coming to Japan a year and a half ago, but he recognized the dark leather uniform: Varia.
The strange boy with a blue flame on his forehead stood and shook his head. Tsuna and Gokudera gaped as Reborn ushered Kyōko and Lambo to safety. It was just like Reborn to disappear during an emergency, but at least that gave Superbi a chance to prove himself. Before he could curse his lack of a weapon, he glanced down and found his sword lying on the ground on his feet. Ever since Tsuna had a nervous breakdown about him bringing bladed weapons out into public, Superbi usually left it at home. Reborn must have brought it--no one else could have managed it. Superbi snatched up the sword and grinned at the Varia's swordsman.
"I really wish you hadn't brought others into this, kid," the Japanese man told the strange boy as he flicked dust from his katana. "Why don't you hand those rings over? I'll stop chasing you, which will make you happy. And my boss will have the rings, which will make him happy. Then we'll all be happy."
In answer, the strange boy took off, dragging Tsuna behind him. Apparently, he was not interested in making everyone happy. That was fine by Superbi. This asshole looked like fun.
"Voooiii!" Superbi screamed. "What the hell do you th--" But the swordsman leapt from the roof after the boy and Tsuna, quick as Lambo after a candy truck. Superbi stared after him, wondering why a grown man seemed so determined to chase a boy no older than Superbi.
"Stop staring, you stupid shark!" Gokudera screamed, pulling out a fistful of dynamite. "We have to save the Tenth!"
Superbi sometimes thought his boss was more trouble than he was worth. He never understood if Tsuna was coming or going--one moment he was one of the most amazing fighters Superbi had ever seen, but the next moment he was a sniveling moron. It was as if he was bipolar or something--maybe Superbi should take him to a priest to get his head checked. In any case, Tsuna would never get his manic depression sorted if the Varia's swordsman killed him. Superbi took off, fast as he could, outpaced only by Gokudera's bombs.
The dynamite exploded into smoke and fire, and when the smoke cleared, the Varia's swordsman turned and smiled at Superbi and Gokudera, unharmed. Despite his assassin's uniform and deadly weapon, his smile appeared remarkably bright. He looked more like a vacuous male model than a dangerous killer.
Gokudera scowled and hefted another handful of explosives. "Lay a hand on the Tenth, and I will end you!"
"Voooiii!" Superbi continued his mad dash forward and swung his blade at the swordsman, who neatly jumped out of the way, as nimble as a gymnast. "I'll be your opponent."
Tsuna still sat on the ground, covered in dust, but he smiled in relief. "Gokudera! Squalo!"
The Varia swordsman landed on a vending machine and glanced around. "So you guys are all friends, I guess?" He laughed, as if it were some kind of joke. "I have no idea what's going on, but I have to warn you kids--" His eyes narrowed, and his countenance sharpened. "--that I will have no mercy on anyone who stands in my way."
"And neither will we!" Gokudera cried and stepped closer, like the giant brainless heap of garbage he was. He always threw himself into close-range danger, despite being a mid-range attacker. And he was supposed to be the smart one?
"Fucking hell, go get some distance, you fucking trash!" Superbi shouted. "He has a sword. I'll take care of him!"
The strange boy with the blue flame on his forehead shouted a warning, but Superbi did not hear. He rushed forward, sword in hand, determined to prove himself. He had barely won against the animalistic Kokuyo boy and soundly lost to Lancia. He would not lose again. He would prove to everyone, especially himself, that he had the strength to support Tsuna--and not just the bipolar weak Tsuna, either.
The Varia's swordsman leapt down and met Superbi's blade with a flash. "Was that a sword technique, or did you trip?" he asked merrily. "That isn't a toy you're wielding."
"What?" Superbi tried to break the hold, but the swordsman broke it for him. He staggered with surprise and lifted his sword, his face burning with embarrassment. If Gokudera mocked him for his failure later, he would end their rivalry by turning Gokudera's head into a lampshade.
"That's not a baseball bat you're waving around there." The swordsman smiled again. "I oughta know. You have to take the sword more seriously if you want to get anywhere." He swung his blade out, and the ground exploded all around Superbi. Water burst up from underground pipes, striking him like clubs.
Superbi fell back, his body battered and screeching with pain. His sword flew from his left hand. He blinked as his consciousness faded, sure of only one thing that just happened: he knew that form.
It was the same Shigure Souen form that Yamamoto Tsuyoshi had almost killed him with a year and a half ago.
If there was one thing that Superbi would admit Gokudera was better at, it was swearing in Italian. Superbi blinked as he woke to Gokudera's stream of profanity. He would have to remember a few of those; they might come in handy later. He did not know how long he had been out, but it could not have been too long. Water still pooled on the sidewalks, and Tsuna stood by a rather randomly appeared Dino and that strange boy. Tsuna wore only his underwear--he must have used his dying will to fight the swordsman. Superbi sighed, surprised at how relieved he was to find Tsuna alive and safe. Not that he planned on admitting this to anyone. Superbi glanced around, but the Varia's swordsman was gone.
Superbi forced himself up and ran towards Tsuna. "Voooiii! What did that asshole want, boss?"
"Are you okay, Tenth?" Gokudera demanded, appearing at Superbi's right elbow.
"You two!" Tsuna stared at them with wide eyes. His entire body dripped water, and he shivered a little. Superbi scowled, embarrassed that Tsuna resembled a wet rat more than a Mafia boss. His aunt would demand Superbi return to Italy immediately if she saw what Tsuna looked like now.
Reborn stepped in front of Tsuna. He shook his head at Superbi and Gokudera. "At the level you two are fighting, you'll be nothing but a bother. Go home."
Superbi snarled. Reborn had stung his pride more than the swordsman. "Fuck you! Who are you to say? You didn't even fight!"
But Reborn shot him a glare that made Superbi draw up short, as if a whip had just been cracked over his ego. The message was clear: Superbi owed Tsuna his life, but all he had repaid him with was one pathetic defeat after another. He could not even protect his own boss. He was a failure that belonged at home, helping his aunt knit afghans for money.
Tsuna looked horrified, but Reborn drew him the other way, leaving Gokudera and Superbi behind. Superbi clenched his fists and vowed to never let that happen again. When he looked to his right, he could tell by Gokudera's expression that he had made the same vow.
Half-Vongola ring gleaming on his right hand, Superbi marched into Namimori's only cathedral. They had been doing much better in the last year and a half, as the Catholic population of Namimori had doubled along with the Mafiosi population. Reborn had suggested Superbi pray for blessings before training for the ring battles, and he knew better than to argue with Reborn. His pride still stung from Reborn's reproving glare.
Superbi was not surprised to find Gokudera in church. As much he hated to admit it, he and Gokudera shared much in common, especially compared to the rest of their friends. Both had come from Italy. Both had been saved by Tsuna. Both wanted to be Tsuna's right-hand man. And both were devout Catholics--so long as the definition of "devout" was not particularly strict.
Superbi approached Gokudera. "Voooiii!"
Kneeling before a saint's shrine for prayer, Gokudera opened one eye and glared at Superbi. "You know who you're going to get as your home tutor?" he asked in Italian. On his right hand, his own ring shone under the candlelight.
"Not a clue." Relieved to be speaking his native tongue, Superbi sighed and dumped himself on the kneeling bench next to Gokudera. He could almost hear his aunt bitching at him for his disrespect, but he did not feel like kneeling before a saint he did not even know. How was a man to keep up with all those damn saints, anyways? He surprised there was not a saint for indigestion yet--or maybe there was, and he had just forgot about it.
"At least pay your respects to the Virgin!"
Superbi did a double take. He did recognize those blue robes and the rather presumptive-looking infant in her arms. "Oh, right, the Virgin."
Gokudera reacted as if Superbi had just peed in the holy water font. "You didn't recognize her?"
"All these damn saints look alike! How can I tell the Virgin apart from them? They're all wearing robes and halos and have smug holier-than-thou expressions." Superbi scowled. "Give you a robe and a halo, and I couldn't pick you out of the crowd, either."
"You are so going to hell."
"I go to Confession every week, so I'm only going to Purgatory."
Gokudera turned back to the statue of the Virgin, his hands still clasped. "I'll pray for your sins."
"Thanks." Superbi rolled his eyes. "You know who you're going to get to tutor you?"
Gokudera muttered something about God granting him the patience not to bomb everyone who irritated him before answering. "Dr. Shamal."
"Shamal?" Superbi laughed. "You'll need tits if you want anything from him!"
"Yeah, well, what's your bright idea?" Gokudera demanded, tossing one of the candles at Superbi. "You're going to lose if you don't start training! The Tenth is counting on you!"
"Yeah, well, you're supposed to be the genius. Why don't you tell me who I'm supposed to get as my home tutor?"
Gokudera smiled like a cat with a plate of tuna. "I thought you'd never ask. There's only one other swordsman in all Namimori. Granted, he almost killed you, but that's normal. Most people want to kill you after they meet you. But if you ask him really nicely, maybe he'll show you something that will make you not suck so badly."
Superbi paused. His outburst had been rhetorical--he had not actually wanted Gokudera's advice. But now that he had it, he had to admit that it was pretty damn good advice. That annoyed him so much that his skin started to itch.
"Shut up and mind your own damn business, you trash!" Superbi yelled, and stomped out to take Gokudera's advice. He did not look back, because if he caught Gokudera smirking, Superbi would martyr him.
Superbi burst into Takezushi with sword in hand. Though it had been a year and a half since he dared step foot in the sushi restaurant, he was sure the owner would remember him. After all, Superbi could be called many things, but not forgettable.
"Voooiii! Old Man Yama! I need to speak with you!" Superbi cried.
The patrons looked up and stared at him for about ten seconds before returning to gorging on sushi. Old Man Yama delivered a boat-shaped plate filled with maki rolls to a table full of harajuku girls, but paid Superbi no attention. Perhaps Superbi had not been loud enough.
"Did you hear me, gramps?" Superbi shouted, loud enough to rattle the tables closest to him. A middle-aged man in a business suit fell off his chair and then climbed back up to finish his sashimi.
Yamamoto Tsuyoshi continued to serve sushi to his customers, as if Superbi were not there. Irritated, Superbi consoled himself by snatching a piece of octopus sashimi from the businessman's plate. He shoved it into his mouth and closed his eyes, enjoying the delectable seafood flavor and satisfying rubbery texture. The only thing better than octopus sashimi was his aunt's Insalata di Polipo.
When Superbi opened his eyes, he found a kendo practice sword at his throat. The old man glared at him at him as if possessed by the divine spirit of Mars. "Do not steal from my patrons again, boy," he commanded. Behind him, the businessman smirked at Superbi and held his plate of remaining sashimi close to his chest.
Satisfied that he had least got the old man's attention, Superbi stuck his tongue out at the business man and held his hands up. Of course, one hand still gripped his sword, but he hoped the old man did not take it as a sign of aggression. "I was hungry!"
"Cheh." The old man dropped his practice sword and turned away. "This is not a charity. If you want to eat, go dig through the dumpster out back. There's food fit for you there."
"Don't dismiss me, you old fart," Superbi snapped. "I have to fight the Varia's swordsman, and I need your help."
The old man froze. Superbi expected he would need to answer questions and plead his case, especially since he had tried to kill the old man the last time he saw him. Instead, Yamamoto Tsuyoshi simply said, "My help is not for free. Go to the kitchen and wash some dishes. I'll be with you when I'm through."
"What? I'm not a scullery maid!"
But the old man only stepped behind his bar to continue to make sushi. The message was clear: if Superbi wanted his help, he would have to work for it. And he needed help--Reborn's message had been equally clear that he needed a home tutor and ten days worth of training to even hope to restore his honor. Left with no choice, Superbi rolled up his sleeves and started scrubbing dishes.
The more he scrubbed, the more Superbi remembered the last time he came to this sushi restaurant. He had thought he could just pick up a sword, run away to Japan, and challenge the Sword Emperor for his title. Even though Old Man Yama had turned out not to be the Sword Emperor, he had proven a deadly opponent that Superbi was sorry to say far out-classed him. If Sawada Tsunayoshi had not been a Takezushi patron that day, Superbi might have lost his head.
Night had fallen by the time the old man entered the kitchen. If Superbi were gracious, he could admit that Yamamoto Tsuyoshi was more middle-aged than old, but graciousness was not one of Superbi's virtues. He would have to remember that when he went to Confession again. Ten or twenty Hail Marys ought to clear that moral deficiency right up.
Old Man Yama placed several more plates on the counter. "Come to the dojo down the street when you are done." He walked out without another word.
"You better not get used to this, you decrepit old geezer," Superbi muttered under his breath, hoping the old man would not hear and change his mind. It took him another hour to finish the dishes, but when he was done, they all sparkled. Superbi did not believe in doing a half-assed job. Satisfied that the old man could not complain, Superbi headed out to the dojo.
Old Man Yama stood in the middle of the dojo, his back to Superbi. He gripped the kendo practice sword that he had threatened Superbi with earlier. Around him, the darkness seemed threatening. He glanced back at Superbi. "So the Varia are coming."
Superbi paused and blinked. "Varia? How do you know about the Varia?"
"Tell me, little fish--"
"--shark! I'm a shark! I'm bigger and have more teeth!"
"--why did you come to Japan to fight me?"
Superbi frowned and glanced down at his broadsword. "I wanted to be the Sword Emperor. To do that, I have to defeat the Sword Emperor. My aunt said his name was Yamamoto, and that he was from Namimori. I went through a lot of Yamamotos before finding a swordsman, but you turned out not to be the Sword Emperor." He looked down at his sneakers. "Sorry about trying to kill you and everything."
"I don't care about that." The old man whirled around and pointed his practice sword at Superbi. It transformed instantly into a blade. "I am not the Sword Emperor, but the Sword Emperor is named Yamamoto, and he is from Namimori. Your aunt missed an important piece of information: he no longer lives here."
"Huh? You know him? Where does he live?" Superbi demanded. Though he had taken a vow to see Tsuna as the Tenth Boss of the Vongola, he saw no reason why this meant he had to give up his old dream of becoming the Sword Emperor.
"So far as I know, Italy," Old Man Yama explained. "That's where the Varia reside. I haven't seen him in over eight years, so I can't be sure."
"He's in the Varia?" Superbi blinked. He felt as if someone turned on a long-closed faucet in his brain. Everything made sense now. "He's your son. Yamamoto, the Sword Emperor. That's how he knows your Shigure Souen form!"
"He's no son of mine any longer," the old man barked. "Now, if you wish to defeat him, I'll teach you. Defeat might knock some sense into his skull. Let's hope you remember the forms as well as you claim, because I will only show you once."
Before Superbi could argue, the lesson began.
Three wins, one loss. The Varia all glaring down at him, except for Yamamoto, who smiled as if they were meeting for dinner. Both Dino and Hibari watching the match. And Tsuna giving him that sad puppy look. Nothing like a little pressure.
"Well, do your best," Tsuna said. His expression seemed to indicate that he expected Superbi to be wheeled out of the Aquarion on three or four stretchers after the battle.
"I won't let you down, onzoushi," Superbi replied. He held up his long hair. "I told you that I wouldn't cut my hair until you're the Tenth Boss of the Vongola Family, and I meant that."
"Which means if he loses, he'll look like a damn woman forever," Gokudera sniped, tugging the last of Romario's bandages off. For someone who lost his own ring battle, he was remarkably quick to mouth off.
"You chain-smoking trash, I'll--" Before Superbi could choke Gokudera to death with his own bandages, Tsuna stepped in between them, frantically pushing them apart.
"Here, take this, Squalo." Tsuna pulled out a bandana and tied it around Superbi's long hair. "It'll help keep your hair out of your way."
Superbi felt his new ponytail and smirked at Gokudera to make sure he understood how special Superbi was. "Thanks, boss. When I win, I will gladly accept all rewards. Make sure they're expensive." He turned and headed into the Aquarion, where Yamamoto Takeshi awaited.
The first thing Superbi felt was cold. It struck him across the face and made him wish he had brought a jacket. He trudged through the sea water, smelling salt. Aside from the sound of pouring water, there was an unnatural quiet about the place. Superbi shook himself and focused. He had trained over a week for this, he would not be spooked by his environment. After Yamamoto's father showed him the Shigure Souen forms, Squalo had practiced alone, seeking ways to defeat them. Reborn had approved: sharks did not hunt in packs, after all.
Yamamoto stood on the watery floor, smiling brightly, katana swung over his shoulders. He did not look like a Sword Emperor, much less one who had defeated the previous Sword Emperor, a Varia boss. He looked like one of those cheerful idiots who ran out every day to play baseball at Namimori Middle-High. He even had those jock sort of smooth good looks which probably made girls want to toss their panties at him. Superbi searched Yamamoto's face for some resemblance to his sour old father, but saw very little aside from the same sinewy build and piercing gaze.
"Well, it's a shame I have to fight you. I was hoping you would have run away. I really hate messing up the pretty ones."
"Voooiii!" Superbi snarled. He hated being reminded that he was pretty. He was beautiful, not pretty. Why did everyone get it wrong? "You're the one who's going to wind up a bloody mess, trash!"
"Well, you never know until you try," Yamamoto chirped.
Superbi ground his teeth. Yamamoto's calm grated on his nerves. He wanted to shake him up, to see if there was anything behind that idiotic smile. "Your father sends his regards. He taught me a few tricks to kick your ass, you know."
Yamamoto's smile faded, and his gaze hardened.
Superbi sneered. He found a weak spot--whatever had driven Yamamoto and his father apart still bothered both of them. He wondered what it was. Was it Yamamoto's lifestyle as a Varia assassin? Or was it his loyalty to that evil-eyed Xanxus who seemed eager to squash the world beneath his jackboot? All Superbi knew about Xanxus was that when he called his aunt to tell her about his trouble, she said Xanxus had the eyes of the devil and that she would pray for him. If Xanxus could frighten his tobacco-chewing aunt who wielded knitting needles like weapons of war and held down possessed people during exorcisms, Superbi could imagine why Yamamoto's father might not have a high opinion of him.
The cool voices of the Cervello interrupted Superbi's train of thought, announcing the beginning of their battle. In less time than it took for Superbi's heart to beat, Yamamoto struck.
"What did you come here for?" Yamamoto asked when Superbi found him on the upper floor.
Superbi panted, trying to catch his breath. It did not matter that he had lost his left hand--he could still fight with his right. He would not lose this battle, not with Tsuna and the others watching and waiting. He would not wind up an embarrassment that had to slink back to Italy branded as a serial loser. He had rewards and accolades to collect.
Yamamoto turned and sighed. He held his katana at his side. It still dripped Superbi's blood. "You should have stayed down. I could have made it painless that way."
Superbi slashed his sword in Yamamoto's direction. "I'm not done yet!"
"I thought already explained to you that my Shigure Souen style is invincible and flawless. You do not take the art of the blade seriously enough. You can't beat me."
"Like hell I can't!"
"You just lost a ha--" Superbi cut Yamamoto's statement off with a vicious thrust. Yamamoto fell silent and parried. He stared down at Superbi over their blades with intent brown eyes. His smile had fallen somewhere in the water earlier in their battle, and he had not recovered it yet.
"Don't misunderstand." Superbi slid backwards, his stump aching. "I let you take that hand." By letting Yamamoto take it, he had escaped Yamamoto's ninth form, Mirroring Rain--a sacrifice that allowed him to continue fighting. The wound only slowly dripped red blood into the water, as Superbi had tied it off with Tsuna's bandage. Superbi's heart skipped a beat--Tsuna had somehow saved his life once again.
Yamamoto attacked with a rush of cold sea water and a flashing blade. Unable to parry in time, Superbi threw himself to the side, landing with a splash. His left stump screamed with pain when it dunked into the sea water, but he forced himself up. His hair stuck to the side of his face, over his eyes, in his mouth, but Superbi ignored the distraction just as he ignored his pain. He dashed forward as Yamamoto chased him. Yamamoto's sword swung wide with every pass, taking pillars with it in flashes of dust. The whole building rumbled in complaint.
"So tell me, pretty boy," Yamamoto asked, barely sounding out of breath, "why the long hair? All it's going to do is get in your way."
"Ha! Nothing gets in my way!" Superbi called, running up a pillar and leaping behind Yamamoto just as Yamamoto's blade sliced through the cement. Part of the upper floor crashed down in a huge wave of water and dust that quickly turned to mud.
Yamamoto dodged to the right--perfect. "You're certainly arrogant enough."
"Yeah?" Superbi said, rushing towards Yamamoto's exposed back. He grinned. "Let me show you why!"
Superbi launched his attack with his good arm, and it grew with every swing of his blade. He thought of Tsuna, who deserved to be the Tenth Boss of the Vongola, the boy who saved his life--who saved everyone's life. Pathetic wimp or not, Tsuna taught Superbi that if he wanted to be the best swordsman that ever lived, he would have to do it with his dying will--a will that not only overcame death, but overcame life. He had to want it. And Superbi wanted this win. If he let Tsuna and the others down, they would lose to these Varia scumbags. Tsuna would lose his rightful place, Gokudera would never let him hear the end of it, and worse, Superbi would forever be a loser.
"Scontro di Squalo!" he cried. His blade tore through the water that Yamamoto held around him with his damnable Shigure Soen. This was what he had trained for these past few days. He would show them all, most especially Tsuna, that Superbi Squalo deserved to be the Sword Emperor and the Rain Guardian of the Vongola Family.
Yamamoto spun around, and his eyes widened as Superbi cut through his defense. Over and over, Superbi ripped through the water, slicing diagonally, showing no mercy. He was a shark, a relentless sea creature, a predator on an endless hunt. Yamamoto fell before his attack, his blood mixing with the spray of sea water all around them.
Victorious, Superbi brought his charge to an end. He stood over Yamamoto's bleeding form, suddenly tired. His left arm reminded him of what this battle had cost him. "You trash," Superbi spat. He raised his blade to drive it into Yamamoto's chest.
Yamamoto's sword fell into the rising water. He stared up at Superbi, his upper torso in ruins from Superbi's special technique. "End it before my boss does," he said, coughing up blood.
Boss. That smug bastard that called everyone scum and sat on a chair through all the battles. The bastard who had sunk so low as to shoot his own man when Lussuria lost to Sasagawa. Superbi hesitated. He thought of his own boss, of Tsuna. Tsuna might cry and whine before a battle, but he would never sink so low. Tsuna had risked the ring battle just to save Lambo from Levi-A-Than. He had begged Gokudera to return before the school building exploded, even if that meant he lost. That was the Tsuna that Superbi respected, the man he swore to follow, a man truly worthy of being the Tenth Vongola boss. A man who would never end a man's life when he did not have to.
Superbi lowered his blade. Victory was his now, and mercy would only serve to make him look even better in Tsuna's eyes. Wondering what expensive treasure Tsuna might reward him with, he snatched the other half of the Rain Ring from Yamamoto's finger and fit it together with his own. He held it up and smirked, despite the pain in his left arm.
"Voooiii! I won! Take that, bitches!"
Yamamoto stared at him with wide eyes and an open mouth. Before he could argue, the entire floor they stood on collapsed into the water below. Superbi gasped for air, his body protesting again. The cement crumbled, but the rubble held together. Just beyond them, into the open water, sailed the fin of a shark--judging by the fin, a rather large shark. His and Yamamoto's blood streamed towards the beast. It drew closer.
"Vaffanculo!" Superbi screamed. He grabbed Yamamoto before he floated away and pulled him close, grateful for the body warmth. He stared at the creature his family had been named after and wondered if they would call his death poetic irony.
"Looks like only one of us is going to make it out of here," Yamamoto said. He smiled, as if he had found that mystifying expression of his somewhere in the flood of water rising around them. "I already failed my boss, so it might as well be you. You're pretty good in a fight, you know. I had fun."
Before Superbi could respond, Yamamoto surged upward and tossed him through the air. Superbi screamed and crashed onto a stable pedestal of floor in the center of the room. His body ached, and his left arm burned with agony. Blood poured from his cuts, from his stump, from his soul.
Yamamoto looked up at him from the rubble and continued to smile. "Tell my old man that I'm sorry."
And then the water rose around the Varia's master swordsman. Within an instant, Superbi Squalo's namesake swallowed him in a gush of sea foam and blood.
The Cervello pulled Superbi from the Aquarion. They left him outside, bleeding and shivering. Ignoring his misery, Superbi limped towards his friends. None smiled or congratulated him. Superbi found, with the vision of Yamamoto's death still fresh in his mind, that he did not want congratulations. His victory rang hollow. An honorable man had just sacrificed his life to save Superbi. Another honorable man had just lost his son. And it would have to be Superbi who delivered the news.
His friends caught him just as he started to collapse. Gokudera shrieked at Shamal to treat Superbi, and Shamal reluctantly agreed with the caveat that they all agreed that Superbi was pretty enough to pass for a woman. Reborn nodded at Superbi from his vantage point on Dino's shoulder, while Dino stared at the screen, as if expecting Yamamoto to rise from the surface of the water. Superbi only stared up at all of them, feeling numb inside and out.
Just as Tsuna leaned over Superbi, asking if he would be all right, Superbi heard the sound of laughter in the background. His gaze followed the sound. Xanxus sat on his huge chair, surrounded by the remainders of the Varia. He roared with mirth and called Yamamoto trash.
Superbi's blood pounded in his ears. The rage rushing through his veins forced him upwards, roaring at Xanxus to stop mocking the man who had just died for him. It took Dino, Shamal, and Tsuna to hold Superbi down until Xanxus and the rest of the Varia left.
After the Sky battle ended, Tsuna had passed out, victorious. They had all won. Superbi could literally say that he had won two battles with one hand. As everyone crowded around Tsuna, Superbi broke off from his friends. Tsuna would be fine, Reborn told them. He just needed rest.
Superbi had one more thing to settle before he could consider this battle truly over. He walked towards the man he had thought dead. Never had Superbi felt so grateful to be wrong. The sight of Yamamoto Takeshi plugged a hole in his heart.
Yamamoto gripped the arms of his wheelchair and watched as the Cervello collected Xanxus onto a stretcher. He was swathed in bandages and scabs, but he still wore his Varia uniform, though it bore signs of recent repair.
Yamamoto snapped his gaze over to Superbi and smiled after a moment. "There you are. Congratulations."
"So, what now?"
Yamamoto shrugged. "Nothing changes. The boss won't give up. And neither will I."
Superbi ground his teeth. Why would any man put up with such abuse? What was it about Xanxus that commanded so much loyalty? "You're Japanese, ain't you? Why the fuck do you work for Italian trash like that?"
"And you're Italian. Why are you working for a Japanese boy?"
"None of your damn business."
Yamamoto continued to smile. "There's your answer."
"Heh." Superbi studied Yamamoto. "What about your father?"
Yamamoto fixed his gaze back on the unconscious Xanxus. "He never approved of my boss."
"What a shocker," Superbi replied. He shook his head and turned to study Xanxus as well. Even unconscious, he looked angry. Superbi could almost see the appeal. Xanxus seemed larger than life, filled with magnificent amorality and unnatural ferocity. His complete lack of regard for anything and anyone that did not benefit him made him much cooler than a tiny, bipolar boy who only recently learned how to successfully fight a battle while fully clothed. Yet, Superbi felt grateful for his own boss. Tsuna was an enigma, bordering between pathetic and incredible, but at least he appreciated his friends.
Noticing a familiar old man wearing a sushi bandana on the edge of the school grounds, Superbi smirked and thumbed in his direction. "I never got a chance to tell your old man that you were sorry. Here's an opportunity to do it yourself."
Yamamoto turned and gaped at his father. Superbi walked away to give them some time alone. He headed back towards his friends; most were huddled around Tsuna, half-asleep. As ambulances wailed in the distance, no doubt to re-collect Lambo, Superbi pulled out his mobile phone and dialed his aunt's number.
"Voooiii, Zia! Guess who's the new Rain Guardian of the Vongola Family?" he cried in Italian. He winced when she responded--if there was anyone louder than him, it was his aunt. But her resounding congratulations put a wide smile on his face, and he listened to her babble about an inventor friend in her gun-toting bridge club that could give him an artificial hand--and maybe one with a detachable sword, if his aunt knitted enough afghans.
Superbi sat beside his friends and waited for the ambulances. He watched as Yamamoto and his father stared at each other's feet for several minutes before speaking. Then he scowled. Yamamoto's family reunion was shit for a reward. Superbi would have to maneuver for something more worthwhile. Perhaps, at least, Yamamoto's Sword Emperor title. As tired as he was, he supposed that could wait for that discussion until he had a new hand. It was not as if he would never meet Yamamoto again. After all, their honor was intertwined now.