The Man Hunt
The first words to fall out of his mouth when he saw her were; "What are you wearing?". If Tsuna had been the type to swear, or rather if Reborn allowed him to swear ('Cursing is unbefitting of a Mafia Boss.' Reborn would say before whacking Tsuna upside the head for muttering a 'Damn' after stubbing his toe), what would have come out would have been more along the lines of 'What the hell are you wearing?' or perhaps even 'What the fuck are you wearing?'.
"I'm a tree!" Haru cheered at him, waving her branches jovially.
"Yes, that's what I thought." Tsuna sighed. It was the deep, heavy sigh of a man who knew he was headed towards certain doom. He asked the next question anyway. Tsuna had a lot of experience with certain doom. "Why are you dressed like a tree?" Not that it wasn't a good costume, because it was very good. The tree, made from a brown fabric printed to resemble rough bark, covered her from head to toe, leaving only her face clear. The top of the costume probably grazed seven feet in height, individual leaves stitched out of various shades of green fabric sewn onto stuffed cloth branches that extended from her head and hands. "And aren't you hot?" It was the middle of May after all.
"It's not that bad." Haru told him. "I made it out of a breathable fabric." Tsuna didn't really know what that meant but he took her word for it. "And I'm dressed like this because I'm gonna catch a pervert."
Tsuna took a moment, and thought that statement through, and, yes, it was just as crazy two minutes after he had heard it.
"What?" Tsuna nearly screamed at her, flailing just a little. "Are you crazy? That could be dangerous! And... wait, what pervert?" Tsuna trailed off with his hands still in the air.
"Dame-Tsuna, don't you know what's going on in your own territory?" A voice admonished as a small foot kicked him in the head. Tsuna stumbled forward a couple of steps and just barely managed to prevent himself from falling face-first into Haru.
"What territory? This isn't my territory! I'm not gonna be a Mafia Boss!" Tsuna argued as he regained his balance and turned to glare at Reborn. His glare faltered when he realized what Reborn was wearing.
Reborn was dressed like a rather leafy looking bush, the costume just as good a quality as Haru's. For a moment Tsuna wondered why his tutor would be dressed like a bush, then Reborn hopped onto a low hanging branch of one of the trees that lined the pedestrian pathway and Tsuna realized he wasn't a bush, he was a cluster of leaves, and he blended quick nicely into the foliage.
"Ha-hi! Reborn-san's costume is so cute!" Haru attempted to clasp her hands in front of her chest but all she managed to do was tangle up her branches and whack herself in the face with her leaves. Tsuna would have laughed if he wasn't currently having a small mental breakdown.
"Thank you, Haru-chan." Reborn spoke graciously before turning to Tsuna and leveling his gun at him. Tsuna instantly felt his spine turn into a steel rod. "As for you Dame-Tsuna, how could you not know about the flasher that has been harassing women for the past week?"
"What?" Tsuna managed to get out, brow furrowing. Now that he thought about he might have heard his mom mention something about it, but at the time he was trying to keep Lambo from blowing himself or anything else up so he hadn't been paying her much attention.
"You're hopeless." Reborn lamented with a shake of his head. "For the past week, between the times of ten in the morning and one in the afternoon a man in a beige trench coat has been stopping women, mostly housewives on their way to do some shopping, along this path and flashing them."
"Flashing?" 'Like with a flashlight?' Tsuna wondered.
"No, not like with a flashlight, flashing as in opening his coat to the women and wearing nothing underneath."
"Stop doing that!" Tsuna went back to his earlier flailing, irritated that Reborn continually read his mind. It never accomplished much, but it made him feel better.
"That's right, that's right!" Haru piped up. "He must be stopped! He will not be allowed to prey on defenseless women as long as Miura Haru is around to stop it." She struck a superhero pose that was ruined somewhat by all her foliage.
"Wait, you can't do that! What if he's dangerous?" Tsuna now turned to flail in her direction rather than Reborn's.
"That's why you'll be helping her, Dame-Tsuna." Reborn told Tsuna lazily as he made himself comfortable, reclining against the tree.
"What! Why me?" Tsuna crossed his arms and scowled, except he was never much good at scowling so it came out as a pout instead.
"Ha-hi! You'll help me? Thank you so much, Tsuna-san!" Haru launched herself at Tsuna for a hug but her costume got in the way and they both went tumbling to the ground. After Tsuna got them both righted Reborn once again leveled his pistol at him.
"It's your job as the Boss to help your subordinates when they are in danger." Reborn told him.
"But what about school? Hibari-san will bite me to death if I miss class!" Tsuna tried. "Plus Gokudera-kun and Yamamoto will worry if I don't show up." Usually Tsuna walked to school with the two other boys but today Yamamoto had an early baseball practice and Gokudera said he needed to stop by the store and pick up some more dynamite (Tsuna did not want to know just what kind of store sold dynamite).
"You have a cell phone don't you? Text them and tell them you won't be in class, and have them get your notes too, you can't afford to fall any further behind." Tsuna decided to ignore that slight, even though he had inched his way into the middle third of the class grades wise over the past month, and sent off two quick messages to his friends, resigning himself to spending the day helping Haru catch her pervert (and resigning himself to a beating, courtesy of Hibari the next day for skipping).
"Fine! But if my innocence gets stolen I'm blaming you." Reborn fired off a shot at Tsuna's feet in retaliation, producing an 'Eeep!' from Tsuna.
"This will be so much fun." Said Haru, ignoring the gunshot. "I'll stand here, in camouflage, Reborn-san will be in this tree and you can go hide behind that tree." She pointed to a tree a couple meters from where they were standing. "When the pervert shoes up we'll jump him!" She seemed oddly excited by this thought.
"And then what?" Tsuna asked her.
"And then what, what?" Haru cocked her head at him.
"What do we go after we get him?" Tsuna clarified, feeling that sinking sensation in his stomach that meant he probably wasn't going to like the answer.
"Well, I guess...we can call the police and they can arrest him!" Haru decided.
"Why can't we just call the police now and tell them to come ambush this guy?" Tsuna asked, rather reasonably he thought.
"Silly Tsuna, you can't rely on the police to do anything, they're incompetent." Reborn told him.
"Of course, how stupid of me to think that the police could actually do their jobs rather than us having to do so." Tsuna said sarcastically.
"Don't worry, Tsuna-san, we all make mistakes." Haru comforted.
Tsuna just sighed as he took his place behind his assigned tree.
It was very, very boring, standing behind a tree watching people go by. After all, once the schools went into session there was hardly anyone on the path. Nine o'clock came and went and Tsuna began to doze off, standing up. That only lasted until a rubber bullet, courtesy of Leon and Reborn, hit him in the shin. The bruise, Tsuna knew from experience, would be the size of his fist and last a week.
He didn't dare so much as blink his eyes for too long after that.
Tsuna stole a glance at Haru to see how she was doing. She was focused intently on the wide tree-lined alley. She didn't seem bored or tired at all and Tsuna wondered how she managed to stand so quietly and so still. Seen from the corner of your eye you really would think Haru was a tree. It was somewhat disconcerting to see the usually so flamboyant Haru so subdued.
As ten approached there were more people, mostly housewives, both young and old, on their way to market. Some walked together talking and laughing; about their husbands, children, and daytime television. Others walked alone, looking deep in thought as they looked at lists in their hands. A few were on cell phones. None were paying much attention to their surrounds and as such didn't notice the boy in a middle school uniform, the girl in a tree costume, or the baby currently snoring up on a branch.
Ten turned into eleven slowly as Haru and Tsuna stood vigil, and then eleven inched its way towards twelve. Tsuna's stomach began to grumble, his feet hurt for standing so long, his head ached from the bright sun, and they hadn't seen hide nor hair of the flasher.
"Can we take a break now?" Tsuna asked as the minute hand on his watch crept its way upwards to join the hour hand.
"I suppose we could eat lunch." Haru said thoughtfully before Reborn could whip out his gun to fire at Tsuna for his suggestion. "I am kind of hungry."
"Good." Tsuna sighed before flopping down onto the grass he'd been standing on for the past four hours.
"Do you have a lunch, Tsuna-san?" Haru asked. Shaking off her gloves that held the branches of leaves to her hands she dug her own out of a pack hidden behind a shrub.
"Yeah, my mom made me one for school." Tsuna told her, reaching for his schoolbag.
Haru settled herself next to Tsuna and Reborn leapt from his spot above them to join the two on the ground. They ate with companiable conversation, although Tsuna kept having to defend his lunch from a grabby Reborn.
Haru was half way through an (improbable) story involving a horse costume, a butter knife, and thirty pounds of tuna when they heard the scream. It wasn't a scream of terror, but of outrage, and it ended on a particularly shrill note. Tsuna had, in a fit of habit, leapt to his feet at the sound, Haru struggling to stand in her costume next to him. Together they looked around the trunk of a tree at what was going on.
A woman, her hands occupied by two shopping bags filled with groceries stood, a look of anger mixed with horror on her face, staring (as one might at a train wreck) at a man in front of her who held his trench coat wide open and wore hat covering his eyes.
"HA-HI!" Haru cried in an over exaggerated display of shock. The two adults looked over at them, their faces transforming into confusion as they noticed the odd group. Tsuna supposed he couldn't blame them. After all it wasn't every day you saw a girl dressed like a tree and a baby dressed like a bush. "You're the flasher!" Haru accused pointing a finger.
'Obviously.' Tsuna thought unkindly, but he'd never say it out loud. Suddenly he was forced aside as Haru barreled past him towards the man in the trench coat. "Wait, Haru!"
The feeling of his heart relocating itself towards his throat was not a new one for him. Nor was the feeling of his stomach dropping somewhere down to his knees. Tsuna had become, in his short life intimately familiar with fear. And it didn't surprise him now that he felt it for someone not himself, because lately the fear he felt was more and more often for the people around him. His 'Family'.
"What are you standing there for Dame-Tsuna?" Reborn asked him. He took aim with Leon-turned-pistol and fired. A rebuke bullet hit him in the forehead and Tsuna felt the instant sense of responsibility and power settle on his shoulders. "She's your family, protect her."
Tsuna did not have to be told twice.
He felt strange without his gloves, but he supposed he didn't need them against one normal man, even if that man did have roughly thirty pounds on Tsuna. He bolted towards the flasher with intent, but was brought up short when the man shoved Haru (who had thrown herself towards him in some sort of tackle) to the ground. He instantly crouched next to her.
"Are you alright?" He asked her as the criminal turned tail and fled. He gently levered Haru into a sitting position.
"I'm fine, I'm fine!" Haru waved him off. "Don't let him get away!" Tsuna was torn briefly. Part of him wanted to catch the guy but the other part found it more important to stay with Haru and make sure she really was okay.
"I'll stay with her, don't worry." The woman who'd been flashed assured him when she saw the hesitance in Tsuna's eyes. Tsuna nodded at her in thanks before taking off after the running man.
Without his gloves Tsuna couldn't fly, he was reduced to the mundane way of doing things. Fortunately he was faster than average in Hyper Dying Will Mode and the man he was chasing was slow.
Catching up to the flasher Tsuna grabbed with both hands onto the back of his coat and pulled, throwing him down onto the concrete. The flasher lay there, slightly stunned, as Tsuna stood above him, looking down at him with piercing orange-tinged eyes.
"Don't move." Tsuna warned him as Reborn came up behind them. "What should we do now?" He asked the arcobaleno.
"Hmm, I suppose we can either call the police or we can teach him a lesson ourselves." Reborn told him, dressed now in his suit and fedora, the leafy costume nowhere to be seen. The gun in his hand was pointed at the now wide eyed man.
"What the hell? Is that gun even real?" The man got out. Tsuna couldn't blame him for his disbelief. After all guns were illegal and hard to get in Japan. Tsuna wondered what it meant that he thought out of everything that the gun was the oddest part of this situation. "You're just a baby! And what's with you?" The flasher pointed a finger at Tsuna. "You're on fire!"
Tsuna just blinked at him before turning back to Reborn. "I guess we can call the police. My phone is in my backpack."
It was at that point the man jumped up and, in a fit of desperation, launched a punch at Tsuna's temple.
Tsuna hadn't taken the step back to avoid the clumsy attack out of any sort of conscious thought, it had been pure instinct that spurred the action, and instinct again that drove him to grasp the outstretched arm and, placing his other hand on the flasher's back, toss him face first back onto the concrete. Tsuna placed a sneakered foot on the criminal's back to keep him on the ground.
"I think we should go with the second option." Reborn told Tsuna, grinning at the beaten man maliciously as Leon transformed into a cell phone. "Should I call in Dino?"
"Dino-san?" Tsuna's eyes widened marginally. "Why him?"
"Hmmm, I suppose you're right, much better for your own Family to handle this." Reborn looked thoughtful.
'Not what I meant.' Tsuna thought absently, leaning more of his weight down on the squirming pervert beneath his foot.
"I suppose we'll have to call Hibari in. Yes, I think he's the most capable of handling a punishment." Reborn looked disconcertingly gleeful at this.
"Do you think that's fair? I mean, does he really deserve to be bitten to death?" Tsuna was almost beginning to feel sorry for the man (and maybe just a little for himself who would be next on Hibari's list after the prefect was done with the flasher.).
"Just think, Maman uses this path to go shopping, what if he flashes her because he doesn't learn his lesson?" This idea evaporated every kind thought he had towards the man.
"Call Hibari." Tsuna told Reborn darkly. Reborn smirked as he complied.
The conversation Reborn had with Hibari was short and held too quietly for Tsuna to catch all the words. Haru had made her way to join them, wriggling her way out of her costume to reveal leggings and an oversized t-shirt underneath.
"Good job catching him Tsuna-san." Haru gave him a thumbs up with one hand while the other one was occupied with her costume. "Is Reborn-san calling the police?"
"No, he's calling Hibari-san." Tsuna told her.
"Ha-hi?" Haru cocked her head in confusion. "Why?"
"...We thought it better if Hibari-san handles the... punishing." Tsuna explained honestly.
"Good idea! Hibari-san must know a lot about punishing right? He's in charge of Nami-chuu's disciplinary committee." Haru nodded to herself, agreeing with her own assessment.
"...Sure." Tsuna eventually got out, not wanting to tell her that they basically wanted Hibari to beat the tar out of the man for going around and exposing himself to poor, innocent women.
"Hibari said he was busy but he sent some of his men to collect the flasher, Hibari will deal with him later." Reborn announced as his phone turned back into Leon. "Also, he said that skipping school was against the rules and that you have detention tomorrow, with Hibari" Their was an odd emphasis on the last part that seemed to imply that Tsuna would not be writing out lines or cleaning classrooms.
This news startled Tsuna out of Hyper Dying Will Mode and almost caused him to fall over. Luckily he managed to prevent himself from taking his foot off the caught man. Tsuna leaned his full weight down, causing the man under him to grunt, just to make sure that he couldn't escape. Tsuna was sure that if the man did get away that not only would Reborn shoot him but Hibari would bite him to death.
"I told you I'd get in trouble!" Tsuna yelled at Reborn. He wanted to wave his arms in agitation but was afraid it would make him lose his balance.
"Not my problem." Reborn answered callously, turning his head away.
Tsuna wanted to argue. To tell him it was his problem because it was all his fault. To rant and rave and storm around flailing his arms and generally look like an idiot. But he couldn't because he was standing on top of a loser who thought it fun to go around flashing people. He settled for making a choked sound.
"Are you okay Tsuna-san?" Haru asked as she thwacked him on the back. Tsuna nearly toppled right over.
"Yeah." Tsuna told her hastily, hand up to forestall any more attempts to 'help' him.
"Sawada." A deep voice startled both Tsuna and Haru. They swiveled their heads in unison towards the it. Kusakabe stood with another of the prefects, looking as stoic as he always did.
'How did they get here so fast?' Tsuna wondered.
"Is that him?" Kusakabe asked.
"Uh, yeah, this is the flasher." Tsuna got off him as the other prefect, whose name was a complete mystery to Tsuna, bent over to wrap a tight hand around the flasher's upper arm. The man was unceremoniously hauled to his feet.
"Very well, we'll bring him to Kyo-san." Kusakabe told him. "If you hurry you can still make the last three periods." With that he and the other prefect proceeded to frog-march the coat cloaked man away.
"Well, I'm going home now." Haru spoke up after a moment of silence. "Thank you Tsuna-san for helping me! Now that evil man will never again inflict harm upon poor innocent women!" She skipped away as Tsuna was busy pondering just where she learned to talk like that.
"Good job defending your territory and protecting your family Tsuna. Maybe you'll become a good Boss yet." Reborn complimented him before leaping up on the fence that lined one side of the pedestrian path and heading towards Tsuna's school.
"What? NO!" Tsuna cried as he followed, forgetting his backpack and half eaten lunch still sitting behind a tree.
Author's Note: Thanks to Katie (katierox342) for beta-ing this for me. This story was written because one day I had the thought, What if Haru dressed up like a tree? And I found it hilarious. I came up with a plot to make the idea viable and somehow this resulted. Oh well, it's mildly entertaining at least, right?