All characters © Amano Akira
Summary: by the age of thirteen, Belphegor's child sociopathy had reached full-blown psychopathy. The Varia, in one of their rare slips, learns to never ever leave Bel on his own during a mission.
Author's note: I wanted to test my writing limits and see how disturbing I could get. I think the most disturbing part of this was how much fun I actually had writing it. Uh, Merry Christmas?
And I Don't Mean Physically
Squalo coughed and spit a mess of charcoal-laced saliva onto the snow. 90 percent success rate his ass. This time the target hadn't been mafia, per say, but a slippery, corrupt consul abusing his imperium. Not something normally in Vongola waters, that is, until the consul extended his illegal authorization of capital punishment to former mafioso of the state. And just to make things better, this Italian consulate happened to be isolated in the Italian Alps—specifically, on the outskirts of Livigno, one of the coldest god-forsaken towns in the country.
That was the last time they ever used smoke bombs to infiltrate the enemy's headquarters, Squalo decided as he snorted more charcoal out of his nose, sneezing. Who's bright idea had that been, anyway? Ah, it had been his. The stuff worked, but breathing in that miasma of smoke and debris probably took ten years off his life right there.
His team took another ten. "LUSSURIA!" he hollered, breath puffing out in a little cloud before him. And lookie here, friends and neighbors, his Varia uniform was torn in several places to display the thin layering underneath. No wonder he was freezing his ass off out here.
"Boss Squalo?" the sound was faint as Lussuria climbed over a pile of snow some few meters away. He looked equally disheveled, mohawk in disarray and his shaded glasses sporting cracks in both lenses.
"Vooii, what in the holy fuck just happened?" Squalo glowered, trying to patch up his uniform to ward off the knives of icy breeze. Squalo was from the North, like Xanxus, but it hardly meant he was impervious to the arctic chill of standing outside in sub-zero climates. "Did the others make it in?"
"Correction: the other made it in," Levi said, crunching over bits of plaster and cement embedded in the snow as he made his way over. The edges of his mustache looked a bit singed. "Cavellini set up detonators at the entrance and blocked us out. They went off with the smoke bombs. Dude, a consulate shouldn't even have explosives."
"Well they did," Squalo snapped. "And?"
"Bel was the only one who was small enough to fit through the cracks."
Squalo's complexion, if possible, paled. He could almost feel his hair quivering. "What about Mammon?" he asked in a voice that while still rough and gravelly, was deadly quiet.
"I was in the West Branch, which turned out to be a decoy," a chilly voice said by Squalo's ear. "I couldn't make it in time."
With a dirty buckled boot Squalo made an epic kick at the snow. It did little to follow up his manly display of frustration, so he followed it up with a concomitant and ear-shattering "VOOOIIIIIII!" that made the snow fall off the smaller branches of the surrounding trees.
"You idiots. You motherfucking cock-biting idiots. I don't even. The fucking Vongola consigliere is going to flay my ass. The Ninth is going to flay my ass." Squalo continued on for some time, more to himself than to anyone in particular. The rest knew by now that Squalo was more aggravated with himself and the situation than at any of them, so they just let him fume for a few minutes.
"What's the problem?" Levi shrugged, interrupting Squalo's mumbled spate of profanities. "Bel's more than capable of getting the job done."
Squalo swung his prosthetic hand at him. Levi ducked just in time. "That's the least of my worries," Squalo snarled, then squeezed the bridge of his nose. He had always thought this gesture to be reserved for older men who suffered from bankruptcy, alcoholism, and migraines. Lately, however, Squalo had been doing this more and more. You try running the Varia sometime and see what it does to you. They had turned him into a nineteen year old senior citizen—just look at the white hair, if you needed proof.
Another crease appeared in his brow. "I don't even want to imagine what that brat will do if he's left alone," he growled, hand still over his eyes.
"Hey, we've lived with him for five years," Mammon replied dryly. "He's thirteen, and I'm not his babysitter anymore. He knows better by now."
Lussuria worriedly stroked his chin. "Does he?" he asked. "We can't get to him for at least another hour, and there's no one to stop him. If he gets into one of those moods..."
Ah, the Moods. The Moods, also called Bad Spots, were when Bel lost it during missions. Bel was like something out of The Bad Seed gone wrong. He was pleasant and charming enough when off-duty, but you rubbed him the wrong way, got him too excited, and he simply snapped. Lussuria had seen frightening child sociopathy in Bel at the age of eight. He was perhaps the only one besides Squalo who even remotely suspected that by thirteen, Bel's sociopathy had transformed into full-blown psychopathy. People who were too smart for their own good often lost their minds, Lussuria observed. Squalo, who was more down to earth than his looks suggested, knew this as well.
Dimly, Squalo recalled a time in their first six months with Xanxus, when they had decided to rent an American horror movie on one of their nights off. Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Saw, or something like that; he could no longer remember. Although they had attempted to get Bel tucked into bed before the movie started, their endeavors proved useless as the kid had snuck down and watched the whole thing from the corner of the room. After the movie had ended and they had all gone to bed, an eight-year-old Bel had found the movie and had somehow figured out how to work the VCR and that old remote with too many buttons. Squalo had trudged down to the kitchen at three am to get some water and had seen Bel watching the movie for the god-knew-how-many-ith time, staring at the television in utter fascination. He hadn't told anyone what he'd seen, nor that it had chilled him to the bone.
Then there had been another time, during a mission to catch an embezzling don. Lots of barbed wire around those headquarters. Bel had performed splendidly, as per Varia Quality, but he had gotten a long gash on his forearm in the process. Squalo had been forced to take him to Shamal—not because of the injury (it was a minor thing a few stitches easily patched up), but because of the fact that at the sight of his own blood, Bel had started to laugh and couldn't stop. He remained in gleeful hysterics for several hours before he threw up from having laughed so long and hard. It was like something out of Batman: the Joker's Laughing Gas of Doom. Shamal had given Bel a sedative and had pulled Squalo aside with a disturbed look on his face.
"Never mind my disproval of watching a bunch of teenagers try to raise a child, as it's not my business," he had told Squalo, "but you should keep an eye on him. I worry about that kid, more than I should. And I don't mean physically."
And I don't mean physically.
It was this phrase that repeated itself in Squalo's mind as he watched plumes of smoke stain the air above the consulate.
Cavellini was a man of upstanding and respectable social position. He didn't believe in relying on the President of the Republic to do things, instead choosing to act on his own authority. If you wanted something done right you did it yourself. That was why he was consul. Maybe in a few years he would even become the leader of Italy himself. He didn't see it past his abilities to rule the country one day.
And so what if the other consul vetoed his decisions? Cavellini doubted he would, since he'd taken on the other consul's identity after he'd had the man killed last spring.
Cavellini wasn't unduly worried when he'd heard that the mafia had decided to annihilate his mountain-based consulate. He couldn't blame the filthy bunch for being put out with him; after all he had publicly approved of executing all dons who were captured by the law (as well as anyone else who had been formerly involved with the mafia). But Cavellini was smart; he had protected all of his paperwork from ithe authorities and from potential intruders. If someone happened to get close to the consulate, there were always the explosives. He was sure any sort of hitman, no matter what the build, would have difficulty facing the elements and the top-level security of the consulate.
Sadly, this was one case where Cavellini sorely underestimated the power of the Vongola's assassination squad. Sadly, or not so sadly, he would not live to make the mistake again.
"Eh? A kid?"
Apparently so. Cavellini didn't know how he'd gotten into his office or where he had come from. It was a boy whose age was indistinguishable—twelve, maybe. Or younger. Fine blonde hair covered his eyes and a smudge of dirt was smeared across one round cheek.
The consul frowned, not recognizing the insignia on the boy's jacket. He saw that crumbles of dirt and dust rested on the boy's shoulders and made the insignia almost illegible. "Are you one of the governors' kids?" he asked, when he saw that the boy was just standing there.
The boy grinned. "Do you like kings, Mr. Cavellini?"
Suddenly the room seemed too quiet. Cavellini reached for his operator.
"Ushishi! Relax, Mr. Cavellini. I just asked you if you liked kings." The kid's voice was in that pre-pubescent stage; low for his age but still boyish enough to sound childlike. His laugh was high and he did it through his teeth, like a serpent hissing. "Y'know, since you seem like the kind of guy who exercises his power like one. Do you have royal blood?"
"Look kid, I don't know how you got in, but you should go home," Cavallini replied testily. Something was not right; a sneaking and awful suspicion had begun to form in his head. This kid couldn't be mafia. No way. It was just a child.
It was as if he had never spoken. "I do," the kid said, pointing to a little silver tiara nestled in his hair. The tips of it caught the chandelier light and seemed to wink at the consul. "So I can act like a prince. But you, Mr. Cavellini, abusing your imperium if you don't even have royal blood is a biiiiig no-no."
And suddenly he leapt.
The consul was so astonished by this move that it was no difficult feat for the kid to tackle him, despite the fact that Cavellini outweighed him by at least 60 kilos. It was like being hit with a small duffel bag, but it was so unexpected that Cavellini went down like a pile of logs.
"What the hell, kid? What're you—"
"I was originally thinking of scaphism," the kid breathed in his ear, "but that would have taken too long and I forgot my milk and honey. So how about we test how regal your consular blood really is, Mr. Cavellini?"
Cavellini couldn't tell if the kid was joking or not, which made him a little uneasy. He tried to push the kid off, but before he could even get an arm up the kid had...had...
...nailed his hands to the floor. With cutting knives.
Cavellini let out a rusty yell and grunted. He, a man of upstanding and respectable social position, being trapped by a psychopath barely out of diapers. Forget humiliating, this just wasn't right. Kids were supposed to pick their noses and stay out of the grown ups' way, not attack their elders. What had the Italian mafia come to these days, hiring teenagers as assassins?
"It looks normal enough," the kid was saying, nodding in an almost scholarly fashion as he stared at Cavellini's hands, "but I think I need to see more to really make a judgement."
Cavellini tried to turn is head away as small, fishbelly-white hands reached for his face. "Wait, what—n-no—"
The kid pulled down Cavellini's lower eyelid gently and inserted his finger. Slow at first, then deeper, digging. The scream was a lot louder this time, and it covered up the wet squelching sounds under it.
"Ushishi! There we go!" the kid laughed and grinned his cheshire-grin as Cavelli's right eye dangled from its socket by a few strings. Tendrils of dark blood ran down the consul's face in little rivlets. "Lots more!" He then reached into his pocket and took out another pair of those cutting knives.
"Boss Fishy wouldn't let me take any of my toys, except for these, so I had to think outside the box," he said. "But that's easy for me, because I'm a genius. I take it you know the meaning of the word regicide, Mr. Cavellini?"
The consul groaned from the floor, his one good eye rolling.
"What's that? You don't? Why, I should teach it to you, then!" With some near-invisible string, the kid tied the two knives together so that the serrated edges were facing one another. It took a few extra minutes because the kid's hands were slick with a little blood and some smeary yellow fluid that he wiped on his pants soon after.
"Crocodile shears were generally used for perpetrators of regicide, though not for the actual act of the regicide," the kid informed Cavelli. "Xanxus taught me that. He said that it was used to burn and mutilate the penis. That was when he tried to teach me sex ed, though I don't think he got it right."
Cavellini burbled something between a sob and a laugh.
"I've killed a king before, but never a king wannabe," the kid remarked, almost thoughtful. Cavellini may or may not have been listening at that point, but the kid went on. "So technically I should be suffering this too, but I like my penis. Was this the kind of capital punishment you had in mind for us mafioso, Mr. Cavellini?"
The kid ignored him, muttering, "Now I can't heat these up, but I'm sure I can produce the same effect..." With an out-of-place delicacy, he repositioned himself lower on the consul's front.
"Ooh, Xanxus will be so proud of me when he gets out of the ice!" he exclaimed gleefully. "Ushishishi!"
The last thing Cavellini saw out of his good eye was the kid reaching for his belt.
After two hours Squalo had cleared away most of the snow in a ten-foot radius with his pacing. Levi had dropped the blueprints of the consulate while running from the explosion, and unfortunately, Bel was the only one who had memorized them. They couldn't even get in, let alone find Bel and stop whatever it was he was doing in there. So all there was to do was to wait around, which was a whole new form of torture seeing as no one in the Varia save for Mammon was exactly of the patient persuasion.
And on top of that, Squalo could feel a cold coming on. Goddamn Italian Alps and all their goddamn snow. He scrubbed a gloved hand over his face, sneezed loudly, and hawked a considerable luge onto the frozen ground. His Varia coat was still in tatters, but his pride refused to accept Lussuria's feathered boa that had been offered to him. He glanced at his watch again. 16:35. Damnit all.
"Vooiiiiiii!" Squalo barked, making Lussuria and Levi (who had been drawing Briscola cards in the snow) start.
"We are the ever-fucking Varia," Squalo seethed. "We don't 'wait around' on my watch. Either we get inside, or I'm going home and taking a double dose of NyQuil right this minute."
Lussuria absently brushed some sprinkles of snowdust off his knees. "Are you worried about Bel?" he asked.
And I don't mean physically.
"Are you sure, Squ-kun?"
"If you call me that again this sword is going to become a very painful suppository in about two seconds," Squalo growled, holding up his left hand. They didn't speak Japanese on a regular basis, but ever since the Vongola had established connections with Japan the tongue had become a prerequisite for all mafioso in Italy. Despite the fact that Squalo was actually quite good at the language, those damn honorifics just annoyed the hell out of him. All those chan's and san's and shit.
"Bel's fine," Mammon sighed.
"Ah?" Squalo gave him an unreadable look, while Lussuria blinked.
Mammon jerked his hood in the direction behind him. "See for yourselves."
As Bel himself strolled into the clearing Levi couldn't help but whistle. Blood covered the kid's front from his chest to his knees, although he didn't appear to be unduly injured.
Lussuria overrode Squalo's roaring "voi" with a more sensible, "Do you need healing, Bel?" He held up the first-aid kit they had brought along.
Bel shook his head. "Nope," he said. His grin looked abnormally long in the shadows of the setting winter sun. A whale's grin: too many teeth, too long to fit on that face.
Squalo breathed deeply through his nose to calm himself, but ended up coughing instead. "What happened? Where's Cavellini?" he managed once he'd cleared his airways. Upon a first glance it looked as though Bel was...steaming. Squalo's eyebrows drew together.
Bel shrugged and replied, "Followed orders. Killed him." Bel wasn't steaming, Squalo realized. The blood on his clothes was still warm. Jesus.
"Isn't that what you wanted?" Bel inquired, the same way he would ask where the jelly was back at headquarters. He was completely and utterly at peace.
"Yeesssss..." Squalo let the word trail off like a deflating balloon. But...
I worry about that kid.
Don't we all, Shamal.
"Something wrong, Boss Fishy?" Bel asked, cocking his head to the side. Some minute beads of blood fell and spotted the snow as he did so.
"Will the body be found?"
Bel nodded. "Sure." He paused to wipe some blood daintily out of his eye, as if it was a drop of water. "Although..." his grin, if possible, seemed to widen, "it will be missing certain, ah, appendages."
"You know what, I really don't want to know," Squalo groaned, massaging his temples. Ah, here you are, headache. I was waiting for you. "We're leaving. Now."
"Bel...what's that pink stuff on your shirt?"
Of course Levi would be stupid enough to actually ask. Both Squalo (and Mammon, surprisingly) looked ready to punch him. Levi was smart, a valuable asset to the Varia, but sometimes he just had no common sense. And of course, Bel was not ashamed to give him an honest answer.
Squalo again thought of that appointment with Shamal all those years ago. Shamal's brown eyes had been creased at the corners as he watched Bel's giggles die down, empty syringe on a nearby table. Perhaps Shamal had known more then than they all had. "Never mind my disproval...a bunch of teenagers trying to raise a child..."
Where had they gone wrong?
Or maybe, Squalo thought, as Bel filled them in on the details of his exploits, they had just slowly sprinkled water on a seed that had already been planted.