Okay. I said AU/time travel, but that's not entirely true. It's more like, "memories of a future Tsuna slamming into the present, pre-Reborn Tsuna in the form of a dream."

I haven't written anything creative for a while, so it was a bit of a surprise... but I really love Reborn! and have been wanting to write something for it for a long time. There are so many great KHR fics out there, but there aren't nearly enough AU/time travel fics, I think. At least not as many as I'd expect in a fandom where alternate worlds and time traveling are canon. Maybe because it's a fandom where these plots are hard to develop. I don't know. Anyway, I have a penchant for those types of fics, so here's my attempt at one.

Summary: The last thing Tsuna needed after dreaming of some crazy future where babies were hitmen and he'd become a mafia boss was it actually coming true. (Gen, AU/timetravel-ish.)

Rating is T for violence (mostly mentions of); the genre is angst/adventure, so heed the warning because this is going to be a sad fic. As for romance, there will be none (I'd rather not, since the focus of this fic is the premise). It's a policy of mine not to write swear words, so where one would be I'll put the first letter and a – instead, okay?

I'll use Japanese words when I have to (such as Dame Tsuna, since "Useless Tsuna" doesn't have the same ring to it), but for the most part I think I'll avoid them. This is an English fanfic, isn't it? (On a related note, I know absolutely nothing about Japanese or Italian, so if there's a mistake here or there please correct me!) I've changed a few things from canon, but nothing spectacular. Also: unbetaed, and future chapters will probably stay that way. If there's a typo or error, though, please let me know!

Other than that... hope you enjoy. :)

(yesterday's tomorrow is clawing at your heels while you wait.)

chapter one

When Tsuna awoke, his eyes were wet with unshed tears. He laid still, eyes fixed on the beige ceiling above.(Maybe, maybe if I don't move today will never start and it'll all be real—) Half of the ceiling was dyed yellow with sunlight from his window—

Sun, he thought, and immediately after, seamlessly, like they were one word: Sasagawa Ryohei.

What the heck?

He didn't even know if Kyoko-chan had a brother. Probably not. He'd never seen anyone pick her up from school or walk her home besides Kurosawa-san. Maybe he's young, or working? his mind supplied hopefully—but no, the boymanboy he had seen in his dreams had looked like he was still in high school. So, it was all probably just...

Why was he pining so much for a dream?

It had been terrifying, and in some parts, disturbing. Putting the entire oh gosh I'm actually part of the mafia, what the heck IS this part aside, there'd been that boy with the red eye, who had been freaky. Really freaky. And the man with the guns that shot fire and the what is that a raccoon tail tied to his hair had been like a cowboy out of that Western that Tsuna was too scared to see. Except a hundred times more intimidating.

But in that dream, he'd had friends, hadn't he? Real friends, who stood up for you when you were being bullied and helped you and held you when you were sobbing because you've burned the faces off a thousand men—

Tsuna started. Where had that come from?

It had been another part of the dream. He'd killed—so—many("Congratulations, Dame-Tsuna,"—tall man, black hat black eyes black suit, familiar but not quite familiar but not familiar at all—"You're a real mafioso now." The warm, slick blood felt disturbingly right on his fingers, like a spiteful prize for the winner-of course, the one with the blood still in him—a laugh. Idly, he wondered when he had fallen so far.)

Breathe, Tsuna told himself. Breathe.

The doorknob turned on the other side of his door. Tsuna snapped up, eyes wide, grabbed for the nearest projectile, his alarm clock ("Stupid herbivore," hissed the man as they ran—"Were you asleep? How could you let them sneak up on you?" Tsuna's chest twinged with guilt because Hibari was right but he'd been so tired, hadn't slept in a week or stopped or...) and raised it above his head. The door swung open, and Mom (Mom?) stepped through,

(sobbing; "Tsuna—your father, he's—he's—")

smiling; "Good morning, Tsu-kun! My, aren't we energetic today!" with a trill of a laugh.

Tsuna set his alarm clock back on his nightstand, barely able to stop the trembling in his arms. What had that been? Had he really been about to throw an alarm clock at his mom? Dame Tsuna picked a useless object, said a baby's voice in his head—You should have picked something bigger.

No, Tsuna snapped back. I shouldn't have picked anything up at all.

On his nightstand, the alarm clock began to ring. Out of habit, Tsuna slammed a hand down on it, noticing belatedly that it hadn't even reached the second ring before he stopped it.

"My, you woke up early today?" exclaimed Mom. "It must be a special day!"

Tsuna had the most horrible feeling she was right.

It was awkward walking to school again. He remembered his dream with frightening accuracy, like they were memories in his past life, except they were from the present. Buildings which he had seen burned down or pockmarked with bullet holes stood upright and new. Tsuna almost forgot which road to take more than a few times because for periods of time he couldn't remember the way, he hadn't been to school in such a long time—but hadn't he gone yesterday?

Exhaling slowly, Tsuna rubbed his pounding head. Stupid dream for giving him so much trouble. It he just hadn't had the dream, he wouldn't be so confused...

The headaches only intensified at school. Tsuna's heart nearly stopped when Hibari Kyouya stalked by, but not because of the furious expression on his face, but because someone else's voice in his head commented in an amused tone, Oh, Kyouya—going to bite herbivores again? Not only had Tsuna never heard anyone dare to call Hibari-san anything other than Hibari-san or Hibari-sama or variations on I'm so sorry, please don't bite me to death I'm really really really sorry—but the person was amused, like he wasn't scared of Hibari-san at all. Again, Tsuna heard the quiet murmur of the same person—like something out of the distant past—Ah, I suppose there's not one in the mafia world who isn't afraid of Kyouya now.

Shuddering once, Tsuna hurried up to his classroom before he could think about the mafia and Hibari-san and that person again.

Only, his thoughts were turned to something else. As he entered the room, his eyes were drawn to a group of boys standing around a black-haired boy with an easy grin on his face. Rain—Yamamoto Takeshi. Unbidden images of a tall man brandishing a katana like a baseball bat with the ease of a swordsman rose from the back of his mind, and immediately, though he didn't know quite why, Tsuna felt his anxiety release slowly. The shakiness in his arms faded away. ("Isn't it alright? Just join our team." An ever-present smile, whether he's smashing the ball into the outfield or slicing through a man's stomach.)

It took all of Tsuna's effort to pass the boy ("Baseball freak," sneered another voice) without glancing up hopefully at him, or slowing down to see if he'd notice, or just smiling widely because it's Yamamoto, he's there—but no. He didn't know Yamamoto at all, really. Not yet. (Right? Right? It's hard to tell when your whole life has revolved around your friends, your Family, and you can't quite remember Before.)

Sliding into his seat, Tsuna struggled to clear his mind and think about nothing, because what was the use of living in a fantasy when it would never come true? There was no way Tsuna, the stupid, useless Tsuna who couldn't do anything was going to become a mafia boss. That was as likely as—as—as a baby teaching him how to become one. Seriously. A baby?

("Ciaossu," the baby said. "I'm Reborn, the home tutor.")

Tsuna snorted. Home tutor, indeed. From what he'd dreamed, Reborn had been more like a home slave-driver. Home torturer, bite-size. Or better yet, fun-size—Tsuna burst into laughter at the sheer irony of it all before he could catch himself and hastily pretended to cough, sneaking a glance around. Good. It didn't look as if anyone had noticed.

Nothing unusual here, Tsuna thought dryly. Just some kid who had a crazy dream, and is now going crazy himself.

Nezu-sensei stepped into the room and eyed the chattering students with distaste (how had that man ever become a teacher?). His gaze settled on Tsuna with, if possible, an even greater sense of loathing, for a brief moment, before he announced it was time to start class.

It was odd; every day before Tsuna had received the glare with hostility and a renewed sense of hate for the man, but today he brushed it off with ease. "People are going to hate you no matter where you go, no matter what you do. And if they do, what is it to you?" The quote was there before he even had to think for it—strange, because he couldn't memorize anything for the life of him. Tsuna had read it in a book somewhere—now what was it called?

Oh, that odd black notebook without a title he had found in his father's office in Italy; the one in which previous mafia heads had written advice for their heirs, the one Xanxus had been looking for but couldn't find—

His mind screeched to a halt and for the rest of class, Tsuna directed all of his attention to his textbooks and Nezu-sensei.

For lunch, Tsuna went up to the rooftop; he'd eaten there so many times in his dream that any other place didn't quite seem right anymore. But he ate alone, off on the side, staring at the baseball field and people below. There had been two people sitting next to him at lunch, one on his left, and one on his right. Yamamoto had been one of those people, and the other, a gray-haired boy with a scowl and a cigarette.

"Gokudera Hayato," Tsuna whispered to himself, testing the words on his tongue. They seemed so familiar, despite the fact that he'd never heard of the name before.

Again, seamlessly, like storm was a prefix: "Storm, Gokudera Hayato." He flexed his right hand before clenching it. "My... right-hand man."

In that moment, Tsuna felt an odd thrill flood him, like something hidden deep within his heart had sparked and for a split second a thought sprang into his head, whether it was his or from one of the dreamsmemoriesdreams he'd had: Maybe become a mafia boss isn't as far-reached as I thought.

But it vanished before he could think any further, abandoning him with a miserable sense of bleak disappointment. Tsuna picked up his chopsticks and shoved food into his mouth, as if it could fill the hole in his chest.

To call it a dream would be doing it an injustice. Dreams are short, fantastical things; sometimes whimsical, sometimes horrible, sometimes amazing, sometimes depressing. But never everything in one never-ending drama, as this one had been. It hadn't been one elongated dream, but felt like pieces of an interlocking puzzle, where bits of information were revealed, information he could imagine being real but hadn't known before.

The night had felt like an entire lifetime compressed into eight painful hours; what he could be, he supposed, if so-and-so happened, or this-and-that occurred. He'd tried to keep himself distanced, as he couldn't seem to pull himself out of it.

They seemed more like memories than anything—was that even possible?

As a rule, Tsuna couldn't do a sport to save his life. Volleyball? Basketball? Football? It seemed like every time Murphy's Law came into effect. If it was possible for Tsuna's team to lose, which was always, they did. So for the majority of PE Tsuna tended to edge towards some remote place no one would think to throw/kick/hit the ball. Most of the time, it worked. His teammates avoided him, he avoided them, and pretended to be invisible.

So when the basketball sailed in an arc exactly towards Tsuna, most likely because he was the onlyperson open to receive, Tsuna (and every other member on the team) thought Oh. Snap. But before he could move past oh what is a ball doing coming right at me? and our team is going to lose again, Tsuna's hands had snapped up and caught the ball.

For a terrifying second, every pair of eyes was on Tsuna because he had caught the ball and that meant the end of the world was coming.

Before anyone else had regained their senses, Yamamoto (why wasn't Tsuna surprised?) said, "Tsuna! Over here!" with an encouraging grin and outspread arms. With a grunt, Tsuna pushed the ball in Yamamoto's direction.

Somehow, the other team intercepted Tsuna's first pass, ever! and Tsuna's team still lost.

"I'm home," Tsuna called, kicking off his shoes ("Arrange your shoes nicely," said Reborn, cocking his gun with a glint in his eye that left no room for arguments) before grudgingly nudging them side-by-side against the wall. "You're a jerk, you know that, Reborn?" he muttered under his breath. What was he, five?

He barely made it up to his room before Mom confronted him.

"Tsunayoshi." Mom's steps grew louder as she ascended the stairs. "I got a call from school."

"Eh? What was it?" Tsuna asked, almost too quickly. (Concerned: "You came home in the middle of class again. What do you plan to do in the future?")

"You've been coming home early lately."

"Not today," Tsuna muttered.

"What do you plan to do in the future?" she asked. ("I'm not saying you") "—have to go to a good high school or college, you know."

Fingering his school bag, Tsuna shrugged, panic welling up quickly. This wasn't leading where he thought it might be going, right? Right? Oh shoot, what if it was real? What if it was all real? What if the entire dream was his future, and there was no way to stop it and he was going to become a mafia boss and Reborn was going to—Reborn was going to— "I don't—don't need help or anything! Really! I know what I'm doing!"

Smiling widely, she tipped her head. "Oh, really? But you've been missing school lately. What else have you been doing?"

"Um—planning. Like, my future and... stuff." Tsuna winced. Awkward, anyone?

"Perfect!" she exclaimed, beaming. "Then the home tutor I hired—"

"The what?" Tsuna choked, a horrible, sick feeling in his chest. (He's coming, he's coming—)

"There was an interesting flyer in the mailbox," Mom explained. "'Will raise your kid to be the next leader of the next generation. Grade and Subject don't matter. Reborn.' Isn't it great? I've never seen a promotion like this before."

Sure, Tsuna thought miserably, flopping down on his bed. Since the only other kid he's taught is in Italy. If Reborn was real, if this all was—real—then there was really nothing he could do. Reborn was coming to teach him. He was going to make him into the man he saw in his dreams. He was going to make him a mafia boss.

Mafia boss? He didn't want that. He wasn't—he wasn't a mafia boss. Wasn't going to become one. Not him, Dame-Tsuna, who couldn't do sports for his life, who was never going to excel at anything, who didn't have any friends because he was No-Good Tsuna. Not him.

"Tsuna?" Mom sounded worried. "Are you feeling okay?"

"Just a bit sick," he muttered. ("Sorry, I'm just feeling a bit sick," Fuuta had murmured with a shy smile, before returning to his room and choking up a mixture of poison and blood into the sink until he fainted. He'd been in a coma for nearly two days before he woke up to Tsuna and five of his guardians surrounding his bedside.)


Dread filled his stomach like lead, but Tsuna looked up anyway. There he was, just as he appeared in his dreams: a small baby in a black suit and hat, pacifier slung around his neck, with that insufferable, unreadable grin on his face.

Unbidden, another memory crept up. ("He's dead," sobbed Haru into Tsuna's shirt; "I tried to wake him but he just wouldn't wake up, and he was so cold, Tsuna," and all Tsuna could hear was the words echoing in his ears, He's dead, he's dead, he's dead, before blinking back tears and cursing Byakuran for neither the first nor the last time and swearing, swearing he'd get him back, if it was the last thing he did.)

But he was alive. Tsuna was staring right at him.

"I arrived 3 hours early," the baby continued, "but as a service, I'll evaluate you now."

"Hey, whose kid are you?" Mom inquired, using that tone women use with small children—definitely not a tone to use with an accomplished hitman, and especially not with Reborn.

"Hm? I'm Reborn, the home tutor," Reborn replied, nonchalantly dropping the bomb as if he'd expected this question all along, and was just waiting to see their reactions. Jerk.

"Oh?" Mom's eyes widened.

For a few seconds, Tsuna stared at Reborn (emotions raging wildly; anger—why do I have to be the one to deal with this baby?—relief—because he's not dead, he's never been, never will be if I can help it—hope—because if Reborn's here, then that means I become friends with Yamamoto-kun and Gokudera-kun too, right?), before realizing that he should be responding, too. "Oh, sorry," he apologized, though he didn't know what for. "I've, uh, never seen a kid like you before. So, um—" quick, think of something! "—articulate for your age."

A sliver of an eyebrow rose. "Yes. Well. Let's get started, shall we?"

Tsuna nodded once. "To show you've got it, yeah?" the man in his dream called Colonello had said. "No need to look like an idiot bobblehead."

Reborn lunged suddenly at Tsuna. Entirely unprepared, Tsuna barely had enough time to tilt to the side to dodge the foot that came his way. Still, the cracks left in the wall where Reborn's foot had landed certainly didn't give him any reassurance about dodging the next one. "What the heck?" he snapped. "I'm not a mafioso, Reborn! Stop attacking me like one!"

Pushing away from the wall and landing back on the floor, Reborn gave Tsuna a dark, unreadable look. "Mafioso?"

Shoot. He'd slipped. Oh gosh, what do I tell him? What can I tell him? "Just—an expression," Tsuna said as casually as he could, though he knew Reborn saw through it in an instant. He started to avert his eyes before thinking, Averting eyes is a sign of lying, so he stared back. Don't ask me, please, he begged silently. I can't tell you. I don't want to. (Again: the empty, deflated white protective suit lying flat on the bed; nothing inside, just nothing at all.)

Reborn kept his gaze on Tsuna for a few more tense seconds, before saying, "My true line of work is assassination. And my real job—" he flipped open his suitcase and in three deft movements constructed a gun with the skill of an experienced hitman— "My real job is to make you a mafia boss."

"A mafia boss," Tsuna echoed faintly.

It's all true, he thought. It's all true. I'm going to be a mafia boss and I will never live a happy life and I will never marry Kyoko-chan and have a family. I will never live a peaceful life. My life will be full of blood and poison and fighting and Dying Will flames.

I am going to die. ("A bullet in the head; a simple, clean way to die for such a simple, dirty man. Goodbye, Sawada Tsunayoshi, tenth boss of the Vongola Family.")

I already failed once.

"A mafia boss," Tsuna repeated, stronger this time. "Seriously! You've got to be kidding me. I'm really supposed to fall for that?"

The kick to his stomach in response, Tsuna supposed, was all-too-familiar, and almost comforting.

Let me know how I'm doing? Please? I am endeavoring to keep all of the characters as in-character as possible, but inevitably some characters will be out of character as their situations are now different... for example, Tsuna. Having memories of some other life crammed into your brain would change anyone, I think.

Revised 2013.5.27.