Title: Home Tutors
Rating: PG, for Gokudera's unclean mouth
Summary: Lambo has always had some trouble with school.
Going to school for Lambo had always been difficult. No, scratch that, getting him to go to school had been hard at first; he had wailed and cried, and begged Tsuna (and Nana, and anyone else who would listen) not to send him to school. Tsuna, oddly enough, had been the one to put his foot down about the matter.
"Lambo, you're certainly old enough to go. A lot of kids have gone at younger ages than you. And school isn't a scary place- it's even kind of fun. And, hey, Yipin will be going with you, too." Lambo, at this point, had finally sniffed, his tears drying up, but his eyes still swimming.
"Promise? You promise all that?" He had said, glaring in a way that only children at that age (having been used to being promised things, and yet having those promises unfulfilled) could. Tsuna, happy rather than confident, relieved rather than self-assured, had smiled, patted Lambo's head and promised.
After that, going to school for Lambo had been fun, mainly because Lambo, despite being a crybaby, was, in fact, a bully. Most children (and Japanese children, no less) were much smaller, and less vicious than Lambo, and didn't have the quid-pro-quo attitude that children growing up in the mafia generally adopted. So, Lambo would come home each day, usually with a different item that didn't belong to him (a toy car that he had beaten up Yukichi for, a lollipop that Sakura had given him if he stopped tormenting her friend Tomoyo, an eraser that Motou-sensei had given him so that he would stop stealing them), and though Tsuna would make him return the items, and Yipin (despite being younger than Lambo was still in the same grade) chastising him for doing such things, Lambo was having a fun time at school.
It was only when he got older (and so more responsible and self-aware) that school finally started getting tough for him. It was at thirteen years old that he sat at the kitchen table in Tsuna's apartment, trying to do homework.
"I don't get it." He said resolutely, staring at his homework sheet with his hands knotted in his hair. Tsuna, frying an inordinately large amount of steak in a frying pan, was only half-attending to the boy.
"What don't you get?" He had murmured, hastily turning the heat down so that the pan wouldn't erupt in flames; he had had a couple of grease fires before, and each one had taught him a new lesson (the first one by Gokudera, who had nearly wept as he gently clasped his boss's bandaged right hand, and told Tsuna that he should smother the flames in a grease fire with a pan lid, rather than splashing water on it, the second one by Yamamoto, who had hastily bumped Tsuna out of the way and slammed a pot lid down on the pan, and smiled a little breathlessly as he told Tsuna that a flaming pan shouldn't be moved from the stove, and the third one by Reborn, who had punched Tsuna in the face, dislodging a molar, and told him that, under no circumstances, should he ever seize a frying pan away from someone who was in risk of getting burned), and started trimming fat from around the cuts.
"This." Lambo had said, his voice suddenly choked with tears of frustration. Things Lambo didn't get usually served as giant stressors for the boy, and rather than exhibiting anger with the stressor, would, instead, often cry. Even if it was just a little, white sheet of paper that was kicking his ass.
Tsuna, having thus been threatened with a weeping fit of Lambo's, turned down the heat again and moved over to the table, wiping his hands on his pale yellow apron (the least "gay" one his mother had had, as Gokudera had reported apologetically and handed over the item of clothing, the duck patch on the apron showing foremost), and leaning over the boy's shoulder to regard the offending homework sheet.
"I don't care why y should equal x. They aren't even the same letter! I'm not going to become a mathematician, why does this even matter?" Lambo reinforced, and though Tsuna might have otherwise patted Lambo's shoulder and told him to suck it up, because it was what everyone had to do in middle-school, he softened when he caught tears running down Lambo's face, and sat down in a chair next to the boy to better see the questions.
"Quadratic equations aren't that bad." Tsuna had said, and had pulled the sheet closer so he could write with Lambo's extra pencil. That having been said, however, Tsuna had made himself a cup of hot chocolate for both he and Lambo, a good amount of liquor mixed into his, and had hunted down his reading glasses by the time Gokudera and Yamamoto had entered the apartment, bearing grocery bags full of the rest of the meal Tsuna had been making.
And, indeed, Lambo had just started crying hysterically (because he was never going to pass this test, and probably fail the grade, and he'd be left behind in first year without Yipin), and was thus being comforted by Tsuna, who was trying to hold up the lanky boy sprawled halfway across his lap, and stroking his soft, curling hair, when the two had entered the kitchen.
"Quadratic equations?" Yamamoto asked, unflappable as he set down his bags and went over to the frying pan full of steak, and started industriously cutting and turning the meat. Gokudera, less fazed and sympathetic than Yamamoto, set his own bags down immediately and went to the table to peel the weeping boy off of Tsuna.
Sitting the child in his own chair again, Gokudera gripped the back of the chair and, perhaps feeling that re-lecturing Lambo on the material would be the fastest way to get the homework done, launched into what was on the paper. Unlike Tsuna, Gokudera wasn't kind when Lambo would start to panic when he didn't understand, and, instead, gave the boy a swift rap on the back of the head, forcing out still more answers and explanations. He was perhaps more soft-hearted than he would let on, however, because he didn't deal Lambo blows to the back of the head when his answer turned out to be wrong ("Nope, try again."), but rather only when the boy gave up.
It was around when Yamamoto had finished frying up the onions and bell-peppers with the steak, and Lambo was finishing up his tenth and last question with Gokudera, and Tsuna was looking over Lambo's English homework in a sort of amused horror ("Lambo, you can't say that sort of thing in response to 'Why does Yeats use Innisfree in the poem'; it's in Italian, and it's obscene! This is supposed to be English homework!") when Reborn entered the quickly cramping kitchen.
He hailed Yamamoto in response to the youth's greeting, complimenting him on the smell of the pan, and sat down at the table to take a sip of Tsuna's chocolate. Tsuna only noticed Reborn's presence, and thus his lack of hot chocolate, when he reached out for his mug, and upon finding it missing, looked up at the boy's mirror-like eyes.
"Reborn!" He exclaimed, making Lambo look over in teary-eyed fear and Gokudera in exhaustion. "Don't drink my chocolate- it's got rum in it, that can't be good for you. You're only nine. If you want a mug, I'll make you one." Reborn smiled in response as if he hadn't heard and took another sip off the mug before handing it back to his charge.
"It's fine." He said, noticing the wet splotches on the chest of Tsuna's shirt, and the wary, tear-stained face of Lambo, and Gokudera, who was trying to get a hiccupping Lambo to drink his own mug of hot chocolate ("Seriously, Lambo, no-one would think you're thirteen now. You cry like you're frickin' eight. Now drink your goddamn chocolate."), and settled back in his chair.
All homework troubles were forgotten shortly thereafter, anyway; a chorus of female voices from the entryway heralded the arrival of Haru, Kyoko and Yipin. Tsuna directed the newcomers into the more spacious living room, and was forced to dash from room to room in order to dish up dinner and make sure everyone had drinks. Yamamoto, slightly calmer, had carried the pots and pans full of dinner into the next room, and Gokudera finally ended up orchestrating the entire process to make it run more smoothly, enlisting Lambo to help.
Reborn did not forget the homework, however, because it was his job to not forget, and he dumped a stack of plates into Lambo's arms in order to lean forward into the older boy's face. "Don't let their efforts go to waste, Lambo. If you do, I'll definitely kill you." He wandered away into the living room after that, ignoring Lambo's gasp of sheer terror, and greeted the girls in the living room with chivalrous remarks. Because despite Lambo's low opinion of himself and his future, Reborn knew with such excellent home-tutors, Lambo would have no trouble in at least passing seventh grade.