All characters © Amano Akira

Summary: With Kokuyo Land finally becoming unlivable, Mukuro, Chrome, Ken, and Chikusa decide to get an apartment, which has disastrous effects on their landlord.

Author's note: this is the last fic I'll be writing for a while, since school will be starting soon. Hope you enjoy~


The Exigencies of Kokuyo

Rokudo Mukuro's left lid jittered. He wasn't one for eye twitches, usually, but any disorder not created by his hand tended to upset the balance of his mood. Especially when he came home to a room that resembled something out of a Wonka factory gone wrong.

"So?" He smiled at the room's inhabitants. "What happened here?"

Chrome blushed and tried to occupy herself with a book, her eye on the floor. Chikusa glanced up from the couch phlegmatically. "Ken tried to make microwave dinner."

"It wasn't my fault, Mukuro-san!" Ken yelped from the kitchen as he viciously scrubbed something that looked suspiciously like burnt cheese off of the counter. "Those directions made no sense at all!"

"You just didn't read them correctly, Ken."

"Shut up, Kakipi."

Mukuro was still smiling his plaster smile. "Well, what did it say on the label?" he inquired. Ken frowned, reached into the trash can, and came up with the box.

"Um..." He looked over the instructions. "I did that...and that...uh." He looked up. "Well how the hell was I supposed to know you take the plastic off?"

Mukuro pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed. They would have to get a new microwave.

Again.


Changes for the Kokuyo gang had begun that year, when Sawada Tsunayoshi finally intervened on the behalf of Namimori's health inspectors. Of course it was Mukuro's doing that Kokuyo Land had bypassed the outside world; after all, no one could investigate what they could not see.

As always, Kokuyo Land smelled of old dust, rubber, and the faint coppery odor of long dried blood. The dankness and musty stench of rotting upholstery made one think of abandoned circuses and haunted Victorian homes. It was merely a decrepit edifice, the house on reverie corner: home to the lost dreams and childhood pasts of those who inhabited it. And to a certain four individuals, it was home.

But after six years, even Mukuro saw that things needed to change. There were no lights. Electricity had begun to wane around the time of Sawada Tsunayoshi's graduation, and fixing it would require public intervention. There was no plumbing (lavatorial compensation would be best unspecified here) and there were rats. They, among with other equally unpleasant denizens of nature would scratch away at the floorboards during the night, preventing what shallow sleep there was. Sometimes the insects could be a problem. They had all endured their share of bedbugs, even Mukuro, and on one occasion Ken had even gotten lice.

Technically, as fugitives and without the proper paperwork, finding part-time jobs were difficult. Mukuro could fabricate papers well, but sooner or later questions would be asked. With the little income that they did receive from the Vongola, they paid for their scant meals. During the recession any potential disappeared, and all they could afford were choco-bits and sandwiches. Occasionally they had to steal. Chrome's weight had dropped to 40 kilos, and after that Reborn had personally requested a raise from the Vongola IX so that some of the extra yen could buy the Kokuyo inhabitants some decent food.

Everyone excluding themselves saw a palpable need for things to change. Chunks of ceiling, floors, and the walls would sporadically decide to cave in. Being trained assassins Mukuro and his cohorts could take care of themselves, but no one else dared enter the building for fear of their immediate safety. In addition, the must and dust had become near unbearable for Ken's allergies. Chrome developed back pain from sleeping on the floor. In short, after six years, Kokuyo Land had become unlivable.

Tsuna had always evinced his disapproval of Kokuyo's domestic conditions. Now twenty, he had the legal rights to intervene properly. Accepting their situation as his responsibility, he had located a suitable apartment on the outskirts of Namimori for the four to live in. The landlord agreed to house them after Tsuna explained to her that they were very...unique individuals, and had special needs. He even managed to get them a lowered rent.


Which brings us to where we are now, with Mukuro facing newfound problems that he, infuriatingly, had next to no experience in dealing with. They were neophytes to the modern ways of living. The simple trifles of everyday life became monstrous issues; it was easy to forget that none of them had been raised properly. He, Ken, and Chikusa had been orphans, callously incarcerated by the Estraneo Family for experimentation. Chrome—Nagi back then, had been abused by her parents until they no longer wanted anything to do with her. Being on the run, under the law had been "life" for all of them, and going about something as simple as living in an adequate home was mind-reeling.

Chikusa was ecstatic at the notion of indoor plumbing. On their first night, he had stood in the shower for the better part of two hours until Ken banged on the door that he had to pee. Ken himself, who had never owned a bed of his own before, took delight in sleeping for eighteen hours on the weekends. The concept of having their own rooms was an apostasy of everything they had assumed about living. Chrome quickly abandoned the method of changing clothes that she'd developed after she'd discovered Kokuyo Land to be without actual doors. One day she had even spent the afternoon in her underwear, just because she could.

Chrome seemed to know more about living in an apartment than the rest, since she had actually shared one with her parents long ago. Looking around her, she mused that if Bossu (or anyone else for that matter) could see Mukuro now, they would surely laugh. Or cry. He was utterly clueless. The playful, haughty air he exhibited made the situation all the more amusing since he tried to look as if he knew what he was doing. Chrome had found shampoo in the refrigerator their first week.

Slowly, they were getting used to the sink. Ken had outright laughed when Mukuro turned on the tap full blast, unaware of the power of their plumbing system. Chrome found she could read more now that the lights no longer flickered or burnt out, but sometimes she would forget to turn the lights off for days. There were funny things, such as Chikusa putting his clothes in the kitchen cupboards or Mukuro using the ironing board to cook.

However, there were also things that were a little sad, such as the number of times the little toilet had been clogged during their stay. They had almost no concept of proportion, and did not know how much paper to use. Ken (and admittedly Chikusa as well) also used the toilet as a disposal of food, garbage, and other kitchen products. Mukuro was the brave soul who attempted to try using the plunger...which did not end well for anyone.


After a few months Sawada Tsunayoshi started getting calls from their landlord.

Reborn came in one day to find Tsuna sitting at his desk, staring at the phone and rubbing his temples. "Is there a problem, Tsuna?"

"Aside from the mafia in general, I just got a call from Mukuro's landlord, again," Tsuna answered, still looking at the phone in its cradle. Reborn's expression was unreadable behind the brim of his fedora.

"What was it this time?"

Tsuna refused to meet Reborn's eyes. "Yesterday they set the couch on fire."

"I see."

"According to the landlady, people have been complaining for months about general backed-up plumbing and various loud noises coming from their floor," Tsuna explained. "Some said it sounded like they were keeping an animal of the sorts up there. Other times there would be shouting, but no one could understand anything because it was in Italian."

Reborn looked utterly unsurprised. "And the couch?"

"They claimed they were trying to make dinner. Don't ask me how the furniture got involved."

Tsuna finally looked up, stress lines evident in the skin above his eyes. "So the landlord went to check up on them today," he continued. "She told me that when she walked in she saw claw marks in the walls, and that the table had actually looked bitten into. And there was dried blood in various places in the apartment. Apparently she asked the 'thin, one-eyed girl with the dark cropped hair,' who was the only one home, if there was an animal loose in the vicinity."

Reborn huffed out a little breath of amusement. "Hn. That must have been difficult to explain."

"I bet." Tsuna removed his hand from his temple and sat back in his chair. "As the story goes Chrome answered no, they had no pets, only a person with big teeth. Which would be amusing if not given the circumstances."

"And Mukuro didn't feel the need to make the apartment look more presentable?"

"Apparently he doesn't like to waste his power on inconsequential things," Tsuna replied, if somewhat bitterly. "The landlord was rather..." he grasped for the right word, "distraught. Especially by the blood. I told her not to call the police."

Reborn hopped down from the desk. "What will you do now, Tsuna?" he asked. "Your family is your responsibility."

Tsuna ran his fingers through his hair, driving it to stand up in more comical spikes. He exhaled. "I honestly don't know," he said. "I suppose I should go over there." He groaned, and rose to get his coat.

"Sometimes I wonder why you picked such lunatics for my family, Reborn."


In the end Mukuro and his gang managed to evade the authorities, greatly because of Tsuna's aid. He—Tsuna—went there personally and somehow managed to convince the disturbed landlord that there was nothing amiss. Tsuna seemed to have only grown in charisma over the years; combined with his winsome smile, doe's eyes, and budding handsomeness he was able to come up with a story. Even Reborn was impressed. Tsuna opted for blandishment rather than duress, and with the years he had perfected this art. The landlord found it difficult to protest. Mukuro would have been proud if he were present.

Not only would he see to the extirpation of further deleterious activities on the residents' part, but Tsuna went further to say that his "establishment" would pay for any and all damages his associates made.

Besides, next year they would all be moving to the Vongola Headquarters in Naples.

Ken and Chikusa know how to use the toilet properly now. Chrome doesn't use up the electric bill, nor does she find shampoo or soap in the refrigerator. Mukuro no longer uses the ironing board as a cutting board and they've all more or less grasped a concept of the microwave. They are comfortable, and despite their setbacks they thank themselves that they have such a wonderful place to live in. And, although only Chrome will tell him aloud, they are thankful to Tsuna.

After they'd left their landlord underwent mild but brief counseling over a four-week period.

The fifth floor of that apartment complex has become something of a legend in the area nowadays, even though its previous inhabitants are no longer there. When they were, it had become part of the landlord's ritual to warn new guests about that floor. Don't be alarmed, she would tell them as they filled out their forms, but don't worry if you hear anything strange coming from the room at the end of the hall.

In fact, no one's been in that room since. If one were to venture inside, he or she would notice that it's the only apartment in the complex to have two fire extinguishers. There is a heavy-duty plunger in the bathroom, and in all of the bedrooms one might find little crumbs of choco-bits, gathering dust in the corners. Plaster's covered the deep, five-streaked gouges in the wall well, but there is still a lingering, indelible smell of burnt food, wet animal hair, and the faintest tincture of blood.

Sawada Tsunayoshi's finances took a dive that year, but it wasn't as bad as he'd expected. It could have always been worse, he reminded himself. At least he wasn't paying housing accommodations for the Varia.