All characters © Amano Akira

Summary: Skull knows exactly what he's doing.

Not that Idiotic

"Good job, Skull."

"Tche!" Skull scoffed, surveying Reborn through the tinted visor of his helmet. He crossed his small arms. "It was nothing."

Reborn only smiled amusedly from behind the brim of his fedora.

All of the Arcobaleno were hand-picked for a reason, and they are not considered the world's most dangerous hitmen for nothing. Skull seemed like an unlikely candidate from the beginning for an Arcobaleno, nonetheless one for the cloud pacifier of all elements.

Perhaps one of his greatest resemblances to the clouds is his eccentricity, both in his fashion and his ideals that estrange him from the group of six that are bound by the pacifier. The fact that everyone underestimates him can prove to be a useful weapon; who in their right mind can take him seriously as he is? In the others' eyes Skull is just a kid, causing more trouble than things are worth...

But in reality, Skull knows exactly what he's doing.

That's his method. Every outburst, action, and flail is calculated with the bigger picture in mind. He sometimes wonders if anyone has noticed how all of his screw-ups always seem to make things better for everyone, in the end. It's always attributed to something else in the whole scheme of things, and Skull doesn't mind that people usually forget the role he's played. It's true that he is not as powerful as Reborn or Colonello. He doesn't have the placidity of Fong, the stealth of Viper, or the cranial acumen of Verde. However the one thing that separated him from most is that he is a master of emotion rather than its servant, able to change shape like the clouds to allow balance in the atmosphere.

Reborn is the only one who understands that Skull isn't the fool he acts.

He waited until Colonello and the others had left before holding out a hand to Skull, who lay sniveling in a pile of dirt muttering, "Those damn brats..."

"They were just teasing. You know how kids can be," Reborn answered as Skull dragged himself to his feet.

"Ahh, I think I scraped my knee, senpai."

Reborn smirked. "Do you want me to kiss it and make it better? You can drop the act now."

"But it's so much fun! Besides, the best kind of tutor is the indirect one." And Reborn saw, through the hard plastic of his helmet, that Skull was grinning.

"Such a selfless baby."

Skull is a cloud, after all, aloof and distant even though he couldn't be more different from Hibari or Alaude or any of the previous cloud guardians. He puts on the hotheaded ruse, not hesitating to debase himself, quite unlike the dispositions of his successors, and pretends to get all worked up about things so that even his fellow Arcobaleno begin to stop taking him seriously. All according to plan.

Reborn, however, has been raised to treat everyone with some level of dignity and respect, no matter who they are. He plays along with Skull's antics, partially for his own enjoyment, pushing the younger Arcobaleno around only because he knows it will motivate him further. Skull, in his rare moments of sobriety, reveals his unwavering obedience to Reborn alone. And in truth, Reborn is secretly proud. Like the relationship between Ryohei and Hibari, the cloud and the sun, the Arcobaleno cloud and sun also share a unique bond.

"You could have defeated Hibari," Reborn noted, as Skull nursed his bruises. He failed to add the word easily to that statement; Hibari was growing stronger by the day. Reborn wasn't even sure that he would add that word in there.

With a muted snap Skull unpeeled another band-aid. "It was more interesting this way, wasn't it, senpai?"

Reborn agreed silently that it was.