Hello there –I bring you another Katekyo Hitman Reborn one-shot. Again featuring the two characters that I am finding myself more and more...well, interested in the more I keep going back and reading previous chapters.
A warning though, for the liberties I might have taken with the Ninth's Lightning guardian, Ganauche III, but it was actually based on his behaviour in the chapter when Tsuna et all were at sea, and he showed his...rather outspoken self.
That's about it from me here; hope you enjoy reading this.
Disclaimer: It all belongs to Akira Amano and her creative genius.
He is Her Most Important Person
The atmosphere in the Vongola Nono's tastefully decorated office was a tense one–an indication, if there ever was any, of the seriousness of the situation they were faced with.
The weary expression on the elderly man's face was further proof of the tension amongst those gathered in his office.
"That's quite enough, Ganauche," he said with a sigh, though his voice indicated nothing of the stress he was undoubtedly suffering from. When the youngest of his guardians refused to back down from where he was glaring at the youngsters squashed onto the couch or standing before the desk, Timoteo cleared his throat, sitting up straighter in his chair. "Ganauche, I think that's quite enough."
He was successful in getting the young man to look at him, "Glaring at Tsunayoshi-kun and his friends is not going to help with anything –no, please, do not argue with me. Not just yet."
It might have been the immense respect the temperamental young man had for his Boss, or it might well have been the weary look that he noticed passing swiftly across his face –but either way, the Ninth's Lightning guardian averted his gaze with a huff, crossing his arms across his chest and glaring off towards the side.
Shaking his head, Timoteo returned his attention to the young brunet who was seated opposite him, an equally tired expression on his face as he raised too-honest brown eyes to meet his.
"I-" The nineteen year old paused, looking as though he wasn't quite sure as to what he should say, and the elderly man couldn't help but smile at that.
"It's fine, Tsunayoshi-kun," he said, kindly, "You don't need to say anything." The boy looked very much as though he wanted to disagree, but he chose to keep quiet.
"Juudaime doesn't need to say anything, but she does!" exclaimed Gokudera Hayato, reaching the end of his patience as his head snapped around to glance at the meek, slender girl who stood off to the side of the couch miraculously occupied by the rest of the Decimo's guardians. "What the hell were you thinking, huh? Oh, wait, you weren't thinking at all, were you?"
The one-eyed girl flinched at the other's tone, but resolutely kept her lone eye focused on her clasped hands. "Didn't you even care what the consequences of your actions would be? Or did you learn so much from you precious Master, that you weren't afraid to use people to get your own way? And what –look at people when they're talking to you, god dammit!"
The girl flinched again, and Timoteo noticed quickly that his soon-to-be successor did the same, though he did nothing to stop his Storm guardian.
"Hey, calm down Gokudera," cut in Yamamoto Takeshi, "Shouting at Chrome isn't going to help solve anything, right?"
The silver haired man snarled at his taller companion.
"Shut up! As if you'd understand the seriousness of the situation –it's too complicated for your simple brain," he snarled, quite nastily too.
The Rain guardian raised an eyebrow at the comment.
"That wasn't very nice, Gokudera," he said, "I didn't think superior intelligence was necessary to know that screaming at people isn't really going to help settle matters."
"Will you quit it with that simple outlook of yours?" yelled Gokudera, jumping to his feet, his hands clenched into fists at his sides, "What she's done is going to affect the whole bloody Family! The Vongola's reputation, everything Juudaime has worked for –it's all going to be for nothing! And it's all because of this...this...useless, pathetic excuse for a guardian!"
The brunet actually turned his head to glance at his lone female guardian, but still kept quiet –though Timoteo knew that he would not let this go on for long. He had a feeling that it was only his confusion –and perhaps a feeling of betrayal- that had prevented the brunet from stopping his guardian already.
Glancing at the Mist guardian instead, he felt a surge of pity within him as he took in the way she hunched her shoulders, as though she was trying to make herself as small as possible.
"I don't think-"
"Yeah, that's the problem –you don't think! And neither did she, as it turns out! Seriously, of all the stupid things to do –! And it's not just that! She just took all the kindness that Juudaime showed her and pretty much flung it back in his face, didn't she?" Gokudera turned to glare at the slender guardian again, "Did it give you a sense of satisfaction, to do this to him, to us, after everything we've done for-"
"-Enough, Gokudera," cut in Yamamoto, a sharp edge to his voice that seemed to catch the Storm guardian off guard for a moment, as it did everyone else in the room. "Chrome doesn't need this right now-" the Storm guardian's eyes narrowed into slits, and he seemed about to inform his companion just how little he cared about what she needed, when the swordsman added, "and, in case you didn't notice, neither does Tsuna." There was a glint in his usually warm eyes, and it looked like he had more to say, but was holding himself back from doing so.
"And what gives you the right to-"
"Hey, Octopus-head, he's right you know. I don't know what's really going on, but shouting is not going to work." There was a pause as the boxer tilted his head to a side, "And it's also extremely bad for your blood-pressure."
The Storm guardian gaped at his older companion for a moment.
"That's the problem with the two of you!" he exclaimed, "And you call yourselves guardians who-"
"Octopus-head, you're going to die early of a heart attack soon. You're going to end up putting an extreme strain on your heart if you keep this up! I'm telling you, it's really not good for you. I saw on the news that a lot of people are dying younger due to heart conditions and-"
"MY HEART IS NOT THE ISSUE HERE!"
"No need to be rude, Octopus-head! I was only trying to help!"
"Yeah, well, take your help and shove it somewhere-"
"THAT IS VERY RUDE TO THE EXTREME! IF YOU WANT TO FIGHT, WE'LL DO IT WITH OUR FISTS, OCTOPUS HEAD! HERE. NOW!"
"For crying out loud this isn't-"
The silver haired man's head snapped around to his Boss so fast that, for a moment, Timoteo wondered how he hadn't snapped it for good.
"Please, Gokudera-kun." There was a defeated look on the brunet's face as he held his right-hand man's gaze for a moment, before turning his attention to the eighteen year old who was still staring at her hands. "Chrome," he started, hesitantly, "Chrome, I..." his voice trailed off, decidedly uncertain, and Timoteo decided to step in once more.
"I think what Tsunayoshi-kun is trying to ask, Chrome," he said, keeping his voice calm and relatively kind, "Is why you would do something like this." The girl flinched once more, and Yamamoto's frown deepened, but Timoteo continued, "Chrome?"
The one-eyed girl raised her head, though she did not look him in the eye, and it was the Nono's turn to wince, albeit inwardly, at the bruises that littered her pale face. Despite the lack of success she and her Kokuyo-land companions had had, and despite the grave trouble it had possibly landed them in, he could not help but admire the fact that she had given it her all.
Appearances certainly could be deceiving, for none would have expected the girl to possess such a determined character.
But he digressed. "Chrome?" he prodded again, gently.
She swallowed quite visibly, and he couldn't fault her for that; not only were her own companions looking at her as though they had never seen her before, but so were the Ninth generation guardians.
"I... I didn't mean to-" she stopped abruptly, a strange expression passing across her face. Her eye flickered briefly towards his own guardians, who stood in a line beside his desk, and he briefly turned to frown at them.
"Gentlemen, if you would but allow the lady to speak without glaring at her, perhaps we can get the answers we are so desperate to obtain," he said, a trace of displeasure seeping into his voice, for, really, they ought to know better.
He redirected his attention to the female Mist guardian, "You were saying, Chrome?" he queried, making no reference to her obvious hesitation at having to speak.
Gokudera scoffed, muttering something under his breath as he looked away from the timid –or perhaps not-so-timid after all- girl, and though he did not catch what the temperamental youngster said, it seemed as though Tsunayoshi had, if the thoughtful glance he sent his friend was any indication.
"Chrome." All eyes turned to the Decimo, though he ignored them all, "Please, Chrome. We're...we're not trying to be...cruel." His brows were furrowed, though there was no dishonesty in his words. "We just... it's just that we need to know –I mean, if something... if those people, those guards from Vindice turn up, we need to know how to... how to handle them, and...and so we need to know why you, and the others did this."
The girl still would not meet any of their gazes, and Timoteo sighed audibly this time. They were getting nowhere with this, and he knew quite well that the Vindice would want an explanation, preferably as soon as possible, if they did not want to bring any further punishment onto the Family as a whole.
"I would have thought the answer to your question would have been quite obvious," spoke up a child-like, familiar voice that caused everyone in the room to give a start, though some were experienced enough not to show it, while others gaped at the suit-clad infant who was perched on the window-sill at the other corner of the room.
"R-Reborn!" exclaimed Tsunayoshi, sounding equal parts surprised, glad and nervous –a combination which had the Nono biting back a grin, for the situation was too serious for it.
"I was wondering when you'd choose to contribute to the conversation, Reborn," he commented, sending the Arcobaleno a grim smile. The infant nodded briefly at him, before looking at his brunet student.
"Are you really that ignorant, Tsuna?" he queried, "Or for that matter, are all of you really that ignorant?"
"With all due respect, Reborn-san-"
"Well, Tsuna?" continued Reborn, as though the silver haired young man hadn't even spoken. The nineteen year old brunet stared at his tutor, a confused expression on his face.
"I don't..." he paused, "I don't know what you mean, Reborn. I-"
"-The Vongola was not involved in this."
Chrome's soft voice somehow managed to end the other conversation taking place, and even though she felt various pairs of eyes on her, she did not meet them with her own. "What we did was... not in any way related to Boss or to the Vongola."
Timoteo gave the girl what he hoped was an encouraging look –well, as encouraging as he could, without Ganauche or the young Gokudera making a scene at how he was being too good to the so-called 'traitor'.
"What do you mean, Chrome?" he prodded.
"-It wasn't related to Juudaime or to the Vongola? Are you out of your-"
"Let her speak, Gokudera." Timoteo was willing to bet that it was only the respect the young man had for the Arcobaleno that silenced him. "Go on, Chrome."
The girl looked towards the infant, holding his gaze for a moment, before looking away.
"If you check the room that...you gave me to use during our stay here, you will...find the Mist ring," said Chrome, her voice, if at all possible, quieter than it usually was. There was a moment's silence before she finally raised her head, surprising Timoteo by looking him in the eye. "Nothing I had with me came from the Vongola, or any of its allies."
Her gaze shifted from the elderly man to the line of his guardians, though she chose to only meet Ganauche's gaze –this time, without flinching. "When I accompanied Ken and Chikusa, I was just Chrome Dokuro."
Her eye moved once more, this time resting on the clearly irate silver haired man, "If they see fit to issue any punishment for our –for my actions, I am not afraid to accept it, whatever it may be, so you don't need to worry about that."
Timoteo's eyes had widened ever so slightly as the girl spoke, and he continued to keep his eyes on her, even in the silence that followed her rather bold statement.
"What the hell?" Ah, trust a Storm guardian to be capable of breaking any type of silence, "Do you think that excuses what you did? Do you think that it makes everything-"
"She's right." Tsunayoshi dug into the pocket of his dark trousers, fishing something out of it and holding his hand out for those near enough to see. A familiar metal ring lay on his opened palm, the purple stone at the centre glinting as it caught the light, "I...I went to your room, to see if I could find something that would tell us where you were, and...I found this on the desk..."
"The Mist ring," murmured Timoteo, feeling the beginnings of a headache coming on. "I see." Putting two and two together, there was a new light in his eyes as he looked to the young girl. "You did not wish to involve us in this matter after all, did you Chrome?"
The girl shook her head, her now longer hair following the movement of her head.
"The Vongola do not want what we want, so why would we want to involve them?" she asked, though there was no cruelty behind her words; it was clear that she was simply stating a fact.
But of course, some people were bound to take it the wrong way.
"And just what are you implying by that?"
"Yeah-! Who in their right mind would want to set that dirty bastard free anyway?" Really, the Ninth generation Lightning and the Tenth generation Storm guardians were too alike for their own good.
Or for that of the poor, unfortunate souls who happened to be their Boss.
The slender girl stiffened.
"I would," she said, no trace of hesitation in her voice, "As would Ken and Chikusa. And M.M.," she added, after a brief pause. "But it's alright; we don't expect you to understand our reasons for this."
Gokudera spluttered in indignation at the perceived insult to his intelligence. "We don't need you to understand our reasons for our actions. He is important to us, and will forever be."
"Why didn't you tell me?"
The softly-voiced question from Tsunayoshi had the girl stiffening again, and just like that, her shoulders slumped once more, whatever confidence she had seemed to gain deserting her as quickly as it had come.
"I didn't want you to get involved," she said in reply, her voice quiet but honest. "You're a good man, Boss, but..." she paused, shifting her weight from one foot to the other, "but this doesn't concern you. This is...something that we have to do ourselves."
Tsunayoshi shook his head slowly.
"I...I could have..." he paused, "We could have-"
"The Vongola would not have wished to get involved, Boss," cut in Chrome, "So you wouldn't have been able to do anything, no matter how much of a good person you are."
"So instead, you just chose to betray the trust that such a 'good person' placed in you, huh?" asked Gokudera, with a sneer.
Before Chrome could answer that, Sasagawa Ryohei stood from his seat on the couch.
"Let's go for a walk, Octopus-head," he suggested, walking towards the silver haired man, who promptly shook his head, keeping his eyes fixed on Chrome.
"Do you even know that you're being used?" he asked, his eyes narrowed in disdain. "You think that the bastard will thank you, will reward you, if you ever get him out of Vindice?" He sneered at her, "Do you really think that he cares?"
The lone, strikingly purple eye widened as the two locked gazes. "He doesn't give a shit about you, and you know it. He'll just discard you like a...piece of rotten meat. Are you really eager for that to happen? Or are you so deluded that you believe he actually cares about you?"
"That is extremely not the way to speak to a lady!"
"Gokudera-kun," said Timoteo, his voice calm, "I am afraid that I am going to have to ask you to leave the room if you continued to be incapable of allowing Chrome to speak." It was, perhaps, the wrong thing to say to a man who was already riled up as the young guardian was, but, really, the poor girl was looking very much as though she would like nothing more than to bolt out of the room.
"I don't mind." Strangely, there was nothing but honesty in Chrome's voice. "Whatever Mukuro-sama chooses to do with me after he is free, it doesn't matter. All that matters is that he is free."
"You really care so little about yourself? That's just pathetic you know."
"Is it?" The girl tilted her head to the side, "Wouldn't you give everything you had, even your own life, if it meant you could save Boss?"
"Wha-? Of course I would! Juudaime is the most important person in this world, idiot!"
"To you, yes, he is. To me...that important person is Mukuro-sama. And I will gladly give my life to save his. As will Ken, Chikusa... and M.M., if required."
"Juudaime and Rokudo Mukuro are two completely different people! How dare you compare-"
"He's that important to you, Chrome?" asked Tsunayoshi, his brown eyes fixed on the girl he had come to see as a friend, as an important member of his Family. Chrome nodded.
"Yes, Boss." She fidgeted with the hem of her skirt, "I'm sorry," she added, quietly, lowering her gaze to the floor. "I didn't mean to...betray you. You... you know how important he is to m –to us. How important he always has been, and always will be."
Timoteo watched as the young brunet nodded, his shoulders slumped in a defeated manner.
"And I did not act as the Vongola's Mist guardian. Vindice cannot prove that I did, or that you were involved, Boss."
"...I- yeah, but-"
Brown eyes met a lone purple one, widening slightly as they caught sight of the faint tinge of red on the girl's pale, bruised face. "If... Sasagawa Kyoko-san was...was imprisoned, not in Vindice, but...if she was imprisoned, wouldn't you do everything that you could to get her out? Even if...your f-friends didn't agree with you? Even if they hated you for...for the rest of your life?"
Timoteo watched as Tsunayoshi's eyes widened and as he stared at the dark haired girl, his mouth dropping open in a silent 'oh'.
Glancing around the room, he saw that Gokudera Hayato had the same wide-eyed expression as Tsunayoshi's, although there was a faint undercurrent of disbelief mixed with it.
Sasagawa Ryohei was staring rather intently at Tsunayoshi, no doubt due to the mention of his sister's name, while Yamamoto Takeshi had his usual pleasant expression in place...although there was a shrewd look under the ever present smile.
Turning to Reborn was of no help whatsoever, the elderly man soon realised, for the Arcobaleno had the best poker face than anyone he had met in his life –and he had lived a fairly long life- and really, how could he have forgotten that?
So he redirected his attention ahead of him, pondering the girl's words.
The image of a smiling, considerably innocent, short haired brunet crossed his mind's eye.
Was he missing something?
He wasn't given much time to ponder on it any further, however, for the young woman turned her attention to him.
"I am sorry for whatever trouble this has caused," she said, bowing her head at him, "But I –it's..." she trailed off, swallowing as her eyes travelled to the ring held in her Boss' hand. "I understand if you do not wish to give me the Mist ring again, if you feel I'm not...worthy of it."
She directed her attention towards Tsunayoshi, who now had an understanding look in his eyes that made it seem as though he was looking, really looking, at Chrome for the first time. "Boss," she acknowledged, before turning on her heel and heading towards the door.
Timoteo watched her leave, not seeing any reason to stop her.
She was Tsunayoshi's Mist guardian –or half of his Mist guardian-, which meant that he knew her better than he did; if he did not wish to stop her, then-
The girl stopped in mid-stride, her hand almost on the elaborate door handle. Turning around enough so she could see her Boss, Timoteo watched with growing interest as a small smile formed on the brunet's lips. "You're not going to stop, are you?" The girl blinked, "Stop trying, I mean."
She licked her lips, opening and closing her mouth first once, then twice, before settling for a simple shake of her head. Tsunayoshi nodded, not looking at all surprised, though he wasn't exactly jumping for joy either. "I..." he paused, brows furrowed and suddenly looking...shy, "I won't stop you. If this is...if this is what you want, what you truly want, then I... it's not my place to stop you."
The young Decimo shook his head.
"Even if I did stop you, you wouldn't stop trying would you?" The girl shook her head slowly, looking uncertain as to where this was headed, and Timoteo really couldn't blame her. "It's okay. I...I think I understand your reasons. Not perfectly, but if...if it was me, like you said before," there was a strangely adorable flush spreading across his cheeks, "if it was me, I would do the same."
Chrome's eye widened as she at least seemed to understand what in god's name was going on. "But next time –next time, please just... just tell me? I...I'll do what I can, though it may not be much, but...just tell me if you're going to leave for a few weeks like that, okay? You're...you're our friend too-" he expertly ignored the snort coming from a certain silver haired man's direction, "-and we care about you."
In the perplexed silence that fell upon them, Timoteo could only watch in surprise as the smile slowly but surely bloomed on the girl's face. The difference it made to her appearance was startling, making her eye light up, and bringing a semblance of life to her face.
Chrome Dokuro was going to grow up into a very pretty young woman, he realised at that very moment, and a dangerous one too, if her growing skills were any indication. He idly wondered how Tsunayoshi would handle things then –given the endearingly naive and good person he was- when other people began to notice her, and not in a very...polite manner either.
"Thank you, Boss," said Chrome simply, a slight flush to her cheeks as she smiled at him, before she turned around once again.
"Ah, wait!" They all watched as the young man stood up, quickly crossing the room until he was standing beside the girl. "Here," he said, holding out his hand.
The elderly Nono smiled as he watched Chrome hold out her hand as was requested, and he didn't need to be able to see her face to guess at her shock as Tsunayoshi slid a familiar ring onto the middle finger of her right hand.
He watched as the young man –such a good, kind, caring young man- smiled at the slightly shorter girl, and the expression on her face. "It's yours, isn't it?" he queried, "Yours and Mukuro's."
Reborn, Timoteo noticed as he glanced at the hitman, was definitely smirking –and if he hadn't known any better, he would have said that he was damned proud of the kid he had taken on as his student- as he watched the pair.
"Ah-! No, please don't cry-! I didn't mean—aaahh, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make you cry! I was just –I –I'm sorry Chrome-!" exclaimed the brunet, looking decidedly embarrassed and shy and discomfited, all in one, as he attempted to placate the girl standing before him.
But Chrome merely smiled at him, not allowing the tears that had gathered in her eye to fall.
"Thank you, Boss," she said, as she looked at the ring on her hand. "And I..." She paused, only for a second, "I hope that one day, Boss, you will see that he is a good man. As good a man as he can be."
With a last smile, she moved towards the door for a third time, and this time, was uninterrupted as she stepped outside, quietly closing the door behind her.
Timoteo stared after her for a long moment.
On the one hand, there was no need to look for a new Tenth generation Mist guardian, as he had feared might happen once it was revealed who exactly was behind the attempted break in at Vindice.
But on the other, he was quite certain –willing to bet the entire manor, in fact- that this wasn't going to be the last time that the girl attempted such a task.
Rokudo Mukuro was clearly a dear and important person to her, so dear that she did not seem to mind what he might do to her –or not do for her- once he was freed, so it was only natural for her to keep trying to get him free.
And from what he had seen, Tsunayoshi didn't seem to disagree with her, to a certain extent.
He sighed, as the faint throbbing that had begun in his head the moment everyone had gathered in his office now seemed to have evolved into a fully-fledged evening orchestra.
He hoped young Tsunayoshi kept showing his brilliant skills and leadership qualities, for then, it was simply a matter of handing over the reins and enjoying a nice, comfortable retirement while wishing the young man the best of luck when it came to dealing with his colourful assortment of friends-slash-guardians.
The Tenth generation of the Vongola was certainly shaping out to be one of the more interesting ones in the Family's history.
Yeah, I know, it's a bit too long isn't it? I've come to realise that even though I know I have...trouble when it comes to story/chapter lengths, I'm quite terrible at actually doing something about it. Well, I suppose I could have divided this into two chapters, but there just didn't seem to be a 'right' place to make the division, so...here it is.
I apologise for the pain caused!
Anyway, in case I hadn't made this as clear as I had hoped, the main 'event' being discussed here is Chrome, Ken and Chikusa's attempted at getting Mukuro free (one of the first of many, I'm sure). For the sake of the story, Tsuna was more concerned about Chrome's safety, and whether or not people might see her actions as a direct betrayal thereby needing to punished, to actually worry about Mukuro (because I believe that Tsuna would like to see him out of Vindice one day. Perhaps he wouldn't want him anywhere near him –another live-in guest at the Sawada residence anyone?-, but I got the impression that he would like him out of the prison. Or maybe that's just me)
Okay, enough from me.
Hope this was an enjoyable read.