For the past seven years now, ever since a couple of months into his twenty-first birthday, Tsuna has seen people who aren't really there. They are to him as solid and substantial as everyone else. They talk to him, they laugh at him, sometimes they rant and rave and scream at him. But they aren't really there.
He calls them ghosts, in his mind. Because they are the forms of people who once lived, but no longer do (because he told someone to take care of them, which never meant actually caring for them). Only a couple are people he personally killed with his own two hands, and for some reason they do not bother him as much as the others, the ones who he killed with a few simple words falling from his lips. He calls them ghosts, but they aren't really there.
It's a very well kept secret in the Vongola family, so well kept in fact it took three years of searching before Tsuna could find it. Not even Reborn, not even Nono knows it. Knows about the thread of madness that has made it's way through the generations to embed its self deep in his mind. Because Tsuna sees people that aren't really there.
The Primo was the first to record suffering from it, and his brother the Secondo did as well. The First's son, the Third was spared of it, as was the Fourth. Quinto however suffered it, as did Sesto and Ottavo. The Seventh and the Ninth were also free of it's embrace. Tsuna wonders what it means, that more Dons of such a prestigious Family suffer madness than Dons that didn't. He wonders (because that isn't recorded) if they too saw people that weren't really there.
Because they certainly are not ghosts. He'd call them figments of his imagination but he knows they're just figments of his madness. Maybe it's his guilt made real in front of him, but, actually, that's still not quite normal. He wonders what it means that he's not quite sane. He no longer wonders what it means to see people that aren't really there.
He's managed to keep it well hidden from the rest of his Family, just as he predecessors who suffered it did as well. It would not do to show any sort of weakness after all, particularly one of the mind. If sometimes Tsuna stares to long at a spot that is empty to all but him, or if sometimes he hisses soft, dark words (shut up, go away, leave) out the side of his mouth that they can't hear, or if sometimes he talks to himself behind closed doors, well, maybe he's just eccentric, and some of the other Dons did it as well. They don't know that he sees people that aren't really there.
The only one who knows, really truly knows, is Mukuro, who has stepped into Tsuna's dreams enough times to see the madness that tints the sky. Mukuro won't tell though. Because he's as mad as Tsuna (maybe more so), and, though he no longer hates Tsuna with every fiber of his being, he's not adverse to watching Tsuna self destruct, watch him drown in his ocean of insanity (so he says). Mukuro thinks it great fun to be the only one to know. Sometimes he asks about the people who aren't really there.
"Wonderful weather isn't it?" Asks Arturo, the latest addition to Tsuna's menagerie. He had been killed just a few days prior. A traitor selling information to other Families, and a couple of times, the police. "Good day to go out and kill someone."
Tsuna slides his eyes to the figment sitting comfortably on his sofa. It's raining outside. Thick heavy sheets of it slam into his window, break branches off trees, and make the roads deadly. Thunder rolls and lightning flashes. It is not at all a nice day, but Arturo is correct about it being a good day to die. Tsuna says nothing, there is no reason to encourage him (yes, let's not encourage the madness).
The room is empty besides the two of them, and Tsuna is once again thankful that these apparitions, these proofs of his insanity, usually appear solo, or sometimes in pairs (when Tsuna is stressed).
He's not sure he could survive a room full of them.
Tsuna, with years of practice, ignores Arturo (who isn't really there) and turns back to his paperwork. Paperwork is nice and safe and completely normal. It's a refuge. Tsuna never has problems finding the motivation to complete it. Reborn approves, although he doesn't know the reason why.
"Hey! I'm not here to be ignored." Arturo demands. He stomps to Tsuna's desk, slams his hands on the surface. Nothing rattles. Because Arturo is not really there. "Face me like a man! Murderer!"
Tsuna says nothing, and finishes the form he was filling out, placing it on top of the 'Completed' pile. The figments aren't so bad anymore, although he still prefers to be in the company of others (as the hallucinations are much easier to sweep away when in a crowd). Tsuna hopes, maybe one day, he won't notice them at all.
The nightmares though are getting worse. It's gotten to the point where he never sleeps without seeing them. So he rarely sleeps. An hour here, an hour there. His productivity has gone up, but his mood is souring.
He's thankful for when Mukuro is around. Mukuro smooths the harsh jagged edges of his dreams enough that he can rest (despite his assurance that he really wants to watch Tsuna fall into the depths of his insanity). (Mukuro is such a liar.) (It's part of his own madness.) His thankful, but he'll never thank Mukuro, because he'll never admit to it out loud (being crazy, not being thankful).
Tsuna walks through life tired, desperate, and more than a little mad, but he'll keep walking. He won't let this break him, consume him, control him. Because he knows what will happen if he does.
Sesto committed suicide. They say it's because his wife died, but Tsuna knows the truth. Without his wife Sesto no longer had enough to anchor him to reality. His wife kept the worse of it at bay, and without her it consumed him. Maybe it is because his wife died after all.
Tsuna doesn't have a wife, but he's the closest a Don has ever been to his Guardians since Primo and that's enough to keep him in control. It has to be.
"Whatcha doing?" A new voice asks. Tsuna looks up, not terribly surprised to see that Arturo is gone and a new person (stop thinking of them as people, they aren't real) is standing over him, perusing his files.
"Portia." Tsuna says before he can stop himself, but Portia is one of his favorites. It's almost a relief to have her around.
"Ignore Arturo. He'll get over it soon." She assures him, tossing her long chocolate colored hair over her shoulder.
Portia is not one he had killed. Portia was a driver for the Family. She once had been good enough to race professionally. Tsuna wished she had, then she wouldn't be dead.
That car bomb had been meant for him after all.
"Hey, hey! Are you thinking about getting a new Ferrari?" She asked, sitting on his desk. Her olive toned skin glowed against the wood.
"Yes." It was Gokudera's birthday soon. Gokudera liked fast cars.
"Get it in yellow!" Portia cheered, hopping off the desk. "That's my favorite color."
"Gokudera doesn't like yellow." Tsuna told her. "I was going to get it in red."
"Aww." Portia pouted, looking sad.
"But, maybe I could buy a yellow one for myself." Tsuna found himself saying. Even when they weren't real Tsuna couldn't stand a woman looking sad.
"Yay!" Portia wrapped her arms around Tsuna "Thanks Don Sawada!"
The phantom hug was more comforting than it should be. Portia danced off to have a look at the photos on his wall. A new one had recently been added. It showed Lambo and I-Pin graduating from school.
"They graduated? I guess it's been a while since I've been around." Portia said, looking over her shoulder at Tsuna reproachfully.
"That's not my fault." He defended, wondering vaguely just why he had to defend himself from his hallucinations.
"Yes it is." Portia told him, voice no longer light and airy. "It's all your fault." She disappeared with that, gone between one blink and the next.
Tsuna took a deep breath and let it out gustily before picking up a pen to make a note on a pad of stationary sitting next to his computer. The note was to remind him to buy a yellow Ferrari.
It's a useless attempt, he knows. These visions are not induced by guilt. They will not leave him just because he gives them what they want.
He looks over his office, and all the familiar things in it, relishing the silence. It's not often he's left completely alone like this. He relishes the silence, burying the peace of this moment deep in his heart.
He knows it will not last.
"Ne, ne, mister! Will you play with me?" A child's voice sounds from beside his elbow. Tsuna turned in his chair swiftly, his heart racing just a tad.
"Magdalena." He greeted the eight year old girl leaning on the armrests of his chair with a smile. "How are you?"
Three years ago Magdalena had been shot during a gun battle between members of his family and another. Tsuna doesn't know just who killed her, but it doesn't matter. The weight of her life rests on his shoulders.
When she first died, and he first began seeing her, she was missing her lower jaw, having had it blown off during that battle. It was grotesque, and terrible. Tsuna still had nightmares of her standing there, blood down her front, perfectly silent and incomplete.
It had been those nightmares, the ones he saw both sleeping and awake, that drove him to seek out Magdalena's mother.
The woman had looked so much like her daughter. Same black, wavy hair, same olive-toned skin, same wide caramel eyes. Wide caramel eyes that were bloodshot and underlined by heavy bags and bruise colored circles.
When she talked her voice was thick with grief and rough with tears.
Tsuna had wanted to envelope her in a hug and beg for forgiveness.
But he didn't. Instead he lied and told her he was from a paper that wished to write a human-interest piece on her daughter.
She talked for nearly five hours. Tsuna didn't have the heart, or indeed the will, to ask her to stop. She paused several times to refill Tsuna's coffee or to fix him a light snack. Tsuna, sensing that this woman needed someone to feed after the loss of her only child, did not stop her, only smiled brightly in thanks with every offering she brought.
She showed him a great number of photos (which Tsuna was particularly thankful for as Magdalena now appeared in his delusions whole and uninjured) and told him a great number of things.
She told him how much her daughter loved horses (Tsuna soon acquired a rather handsome chestnut racehorse). How much she loved dogs (Tsuna now owns five previously abandoned and dejected mongrels). How her favorite color was purple (one of the guestrooms was completely redone in its shades). How her favorite food was crepes (Tsuna hired a french chef based solely on his ability to make the dish). How she loved board games (Tsuna collection includes games from all over the world). How her favorite subject was history (a large, anonymous donation was given to the Museo Civico di Storia Naturale de Milan) and she wanted to be an archaeologist (and the Associazione di Archeologia Classica).
Tsuna learned as much as he could and committed it to memory.
All to soon (and after what felt like years) Magdalena's (beautiful, sad, lonely) mother realized just how long she'd been talking. Tsuna left in an avalanche of apologies (from both him and her).
He might have cried once he got in his car, but as no one was with him no one could say for sure.
"I'm bored!" Magdalena cried in answer to his question, ripping Tsuna's mind away from heartbreaking memories. "It's raining so I can't play outside with the dogs." She pointed an accusatory finger towards the window that was still being beaten mercilessly by the torrential fall.
"Well, what would you like to do?" Tsuna asked her, bending his face down to her level. He has some time he can afford to waste and he never, ever wants to disappoint this particular figment. He says that figments like Portia and Magdalena are his favorites but they are some of the worst as well. It's somehow more sickening to know that these people died not because he ordered it but because he could not stop it. It's a terrible realization that's driven him to physical illness before.
"Let's play a game!" The little girl smiles brightly as she tugs on Tsuna's hand. He's long since stopped trying to reconcile the all too real feeling of them touching him with the knowledge that they aren't really there.
"Sounds fun." Tsuna replies, smiling as well.
Mukuro opens the door to Vongola Decimo's office without knocking. Maybe it's rude, but it's what he's always done, and if Tsunayoshi wants people to knock then he should learn to lock the door.
His sly words of greeting die on his tongue however as he takes in the sight before him.
Tsuna sits, cross legged on the floor, a board game spread out in front of him, some ways into a one sided game. He gestures broadly as he speaks to the air on the other side of board, moving his piece with deft fingers.
Mukuro doesn't say a word, and the door had opened silently but suddenly the man's eyes slide to meet his own. He stares silently at Mukuro as a few heartbeats pass. He doesn't say a word to Mukuro however, simply turning back to the person only he can see.
"That's Mukuro. You've seen him before." He speaks in a calming tone, as though soothing a nervous child.
Mukuro reaches a hand around the door, to twist the lock under the handle. He shuts the door as quietly as he had opened it before heading back down the hall.
Whatever he has to say can wait until Tsunayoshi is done playing with the people who are not there.
Author's Note: Where did this story come from? I have no idea. It's kinda creepy though, right? Museo Civico di Storia Naturale de Milan is a real Natural History museum in Milan. Associazione di Archeologia Classica is not real and translates to Association for Classical Archaeology.
Review as always please!