I'm With the Mafia

Notes: Thank you everyone for the reviews. It has come to my attention that I need to pick up the pace with GokuHaru –coughSunnycough. So, I'll strive for a balance of the two in this chapter between action-y plot, other characters and of course the 'stars' of this fic.

Chapter Five:

Catch Me If You Can

After enduring a chewing-out session from her mother over the phone, Haru put off unpacking to take a bath. Being a firm believer in the cleansing properties of hot water and a liberal dose of foaming bubbles, Haru wrapped a towel around brunette hair before sinking into the tub.

Eyes closed, Haru mulled over the conversation. Her mother interjected disappointment and scolding in between asking how her daughter was faring overseas. Haru wanted to tell her about the day she had experienced, yet couldn't.

A right index finger popped a cluster of bubbles, "Hey…Momma. You'll never believe it, but I hung out with two guys from an Italian mafia today. Yeah. Were they dangerous?" Lips pursed for a moment before Haru continued talking to herself, swishing warm water with her fingers.

"Well kind of. I had to be dragged down to the floor to miss being shot at. Oh and one of the mafia guys nearly ran me over with his car…went through my purse…acted like a complete jerk."

Craning her neck up, she stared at the ceiling, "Momma…no. Of course I don't like him. He's terrible. Has a surly personality. Always grumbling and in a sour mood…he hits a teenage boy whenever he felt like it and called me an 'idiot' or 'crazy'."

Closing her eyes, Haru recalled her first impression of him, at the café. And the few times he wasn't grumbling nor had a cigarette between his lips. His hair was an unusual shade of pale blond. For all his harsh looks and sneering scowls, Haru couldn't help but notice Gokudera had delicate facial features without looking too feminine. And those eyes, an intense sea-glass green color.

"Maybe it's been too long since I've been noticed someone of the opposite sex, but…"

She sank deeper into the tub, bubbles up to her nose until they burst with a light exhale. "I thought he was very handsome."

Raising a right arm up, Haru covered her eyes as a bitter laugh escaped, "This is bad. Really bad, because it hasn't even been two hours and I can't get him off my mind…I'm sure he'll be quick to forget about me though."

A violent splash rose up like a tidal wave as Haru attacked bubbles, spattering suds against the tub lip and bathroom tile.

"Well forget him then! With all those cancer sticks he smoked just today, probably be dead before he reaches fifty."

She backtracked to the café again. Gokudera had been one of the guys encircling her and Tsuna as the building was pelted with bullets. No concern for his own safety whatsoever.

"…if he even lives to see thirty"

Having run out of parts needed to complete his latest Mosca model, Spanner found himself staring at the stack of papers. People often sought him for his expertise as an inventor and computer genius, so it wasn't uncommon for him to have contracts with other families besides Vongola.

Lately though, he had become more choosey about his work. If something interested him, Spanner took it on. If a job bore him to tears, he'd return the offered money and the documents.

At first, the Haru Miura case seemed like another throw away. He checked the passport information Gokudera wrote down. After hacking into the database and doing a quick search, Spanner found that everything was legit right down to the goofy picture and Japanese text.

"Next, credit and bank account numbers." Spanner muttered, basking in the pseudo-glow of computer monitors. Fingers clanked against keys, hammering out protocols and data input to override the bank's security and firewalls. He cleared the digital obstacles without breaking out a sweat or removing the lollipop from his mouth.

However, a problem occurred when he reached Haru Miura's account. "…another password command?" Spanner wondered. This was unusual, but nothing troubling. After entering another over-ride command, Spanner thought he was home free only to blink and see another password box. Another. Another. And another until the screen was covered with gray password boxes with more cropping up.

"Shit" the mechanic gritted out. He quickly brought up his own firewall program, but the password boxes kept popping up and prevented him from doing anything other than watch more appear.

He wasn't going to give up though. Giving up would mean he had been outsmarted by a seemingly simple protocol and Spanner couldn't have that. His pride was on the line, so there had to be a way to crack this firewall, but first…

The man crunched a strawberry-flavored lollipop between his teeth in annoyance before reaching for another one.

Haru returned from the bathroom with steam following then evaporating into thin air. Upon walking into the living room, Haru heard her laptop beeping. Concerned, she moved the wireless mouse to get it out of screen saver mood.

She looked at the alert at the bottom of her screen. "Ah, I don't want to talk to this person right now" Haru grumbled. Closing out that program, she brought up another, checked three boxes with the click of a mouse then closed the laptop and powering it off for the night.

"Now…" Haru ruffled dried her hair then stood in the living room in her jersey shirt and sweatpants. "Back to tackling the luggage."

Back the computer lab, Spanner wasn't sure how it was possible, but his master computer was frozen. He had managed to get rid of all the password boxes, only to find himself staring at a blank blue screen.

The stick end of Spanner's homemade confection nearly dropped out of the man's mouth.

"What the…"

He was about to re-boot (a strategic retreat rather than a surrender), but the reset button wasn't responding. A cold and heavy feeling settled in the center of his gut. If the main computer had been affected this badly, what about the others within the network?

Abandoning his main desktop, Spanner turned to the others. Each one came on to show his signature logo and log in screen only to cut off to blue.

Julie Kaito woke up with the desire to kill someone, namely the person calling his cellphone. Searching his long-term memory for a face to go with the ring tone, he gave up all together and picked up the electronic devil.

"Hello, you've reached the number of a man too hungover to care who you are and what you need. Please don't leave a message..."

"Julie."

He blinked, rubbing tired eyes then squinting before reaching for square-frame glasses, "Chrome-chan?"

"I need your help with something."

'Figures' Julie thought with a roll of his eyes before putting on a pair of glasses. "Good morning to you too, not that it matters. You never call me just to chat anymore Chrome-koi. It's always some problem with you. Needing transport here. A fake id there. Or some body that needs to be buried before the Vongola boss finds out..."

"Julie, good morning. Now if you would please, hear me out."

"You know, between Enma and you, I hardly have time for myself anymore. Starting to feel a bit like a hooker, only I don't have the benefit of being paid for the screwing you both put me through..."

"Julie..." Chrome started again, trying her best to get a word in edgewise over Julie's banter.

"As much as I love hearing my name from your lips love; I really can't help you this time."

"Please. Julie, you're the only one I can turn to." Boy, did she know how to push his buttons.

"Don't plead with me, Chrome. It's not going to work."

He anticipated the long pause from the other side, waited for her to offer something as compensation. Surprisingly, Chrome replied with, "You're right. I'm sorry, it's asking too much of you. Sorry to have bothered you."

"Wait, wait. Hold..." Julie scrambled. "Okay, I've got an opening at..." he glared at the blank calender space. What he wouldn't give to have something to do other than being Shimon's gopher and Vongola's bitch.

"At noon-ish. Sound good?"

"Perfect actually. I'll meet you at twelve-fifteen." "Lunch then?" Julie asked, hopeful he could at least ring up a free meal from Chrome.

"I'm afraid that'd be impossible. I need transport. I'll send you the location around twelve-five."

Julie's brows scrunched down, "That doesn't give me a lot of time to reach you. What's going on chickadee?"

"Nothing at the moment. He's not at his office yet, so I've got a little longer to wait."

'He...' Julie wondered for a moment, then groaned. "Not again, Chrome. I don't want to get mixed up with that psychopath. In case you haven't noticed, tonfas inflict pain."

Her tone remained steady and soft, "You won't even see him, Julie. I just need you around as my getaway option. If we can't meet up at the same place, I can work something else out..."

"Great. Fantastic. I am positively ecstatic that you solely depend on me, your knight in shining armor." Julie bit out.

She did not apologize for minimizing his role, "I might be captured before we can meet. However you don't need to concern yourself about that, Julie. That's why you are an 'option'."

"Sure, of course not. You'll only be held by a man who's creed is a mix of Darwinism and lone rabid wolf instincts. Why should I be worried when you'll be in such good hands?"

"He's actually..."

Julie raised a right hand to his face. "Chrome, please spare me. I'm barely holding down dinner, breakfast ain't looking hopeful either. I don't think I can endure hearing about your efforts to reform him."

He didn't want to go down this route again. Chrome believed there was some mysterious redeeming quality in this man. Yet Julie for one, thought the woman to be deranged. 'Why do the cute ones always have to be so fucked up?' Julie wondered to himself.

"Whatever. Let's not talk about capture and focus on getting you out of there. Just send me the directions and I'll do my best to meet you."

After her conversation with Julie, Chrome turned off her phone and tucked it away. Followed by a glance into a bathroom mirror so the young woman could fix her bangs. Chrome's clothes from yesterday bagged and waiting to be tossed out, whereas she donned a new suit jacket, blouse and tailored slacks. The only remaining articles from the other day was her skull-and-lace choker in place of a necktie and a black eye patch.

Staring down at the 'borrowed' peep-toe shoes, Chrome knew it was a very impractical thing to do, most likely it'd come back to bite her in the end. However, she had a point to prove.

"I only hope M.M doesn't miss these too terribly." After ditching her old dress and emerging from the store, Chrome was both pleased and apprehensive to see a black Honda parked in it's reserved spot.

Heart hammering in her throat, the young woman kept her pace a measured walk. She wasn't walking into the arms of a lover, rather Chrome knew a dagger to the front awaited her. Yet, Chrome had remind herself not to rush in. Careful, careful because one has to handle open bear-traps with care.

Chrome held her breath at the crosswalk, taking in oxygen again as the lights changed so she could walk again. Outwardly, she looked the same, expression kept neutral. As if she walked this same stretch of street everyday.

As Chrome neared the office building, she swallowed as nerves made it next to impossible for her fingers to work properly on the cellphone keys.

No sooner was her text sent did the young woman hear a ring.

"I'm there." Chrome said into the receiver just as she stood in front of the large window, facing a desk occupied by a young man.

"Wonderful, have fun my dear. Be careful though" Mukuro added before cutting their conversation short. Chrome nodded and put the phone away. Next, she opened the purse, pulling out a tube of lipstick. Using the reflective window surface as her guise, Chrome applied the subtle pink color to her mouth in spite of feeling like she was ready to run.

Looking at him through glass without looking, knowing it was driving the other person up the wall; Chrome pursed her lips, licked the tip of her thumb then rubbed away a stray smudge of lipstick.

Once her appearance was impeccable, Chrome walked away because (on the surface) nothing out of the ordinary had happened. To the world Chrome looked unruffled and calm, as if she hadn't rattled the cage of a very dangerous animal. The young woman knew it all too well though, deep down Chrome wanted to run away and not stop until all the way off the tip of Italy...and perhaps take extra precaution and swim in the Mediterranean.

She had to remain calm though. If there was fear in her eyes, he wouldn't give chase.

Kyoya Hibari did not hunt down sickly or frightened prey, so Chrome Dokuro had to keep up the facade of pride long enough to keep his interest.

"Damnit. ...no. No! 'No' doesn't mean 'ask me over and over again' Spanner, it means N-O!"

Takeshi Yamamoto winced and had thought about doubling back. Gokudera sounded crabby. Then the former baseball player reconsidered, crabby was Gokudera's default mode. Still, Yamamoto wasn't a coward and quite lucky in some respects so he cracked the door to the other man's office.

The result: a flying cellphone that missed Takeshi's head by a fraction of an inch.

"Out! I've had my quota of 'idiot' for today." Takeshi smiled and entered anyway, he was feeling lucky today. Gokudera snarled at the intrusion, but rather than throwing paperweights, books or laptop at him the surly man put a cigarette to his lips.

"Wow, someone pissed you off this much before noon. Must be a new record." Takeshi said, fishing for information about the call without being 'too obvious'.

"Damn computer otaku grease monkey" was Hayoto's eloquent response. Takeshi had to laugh. As moody as the Storm Guardian was he often came up with the most amusing nicknames for people.

"He was whining to me about needing this and that for his computers. Apparently he tried to check up on that Mirua woman and some hacker got the jump on him. Or something. I don't know, lot of techno-babble."

"Ah," the taller man drawled. "Wait, you're still doing background checks on the woman from that cafe?"

Smoke curled out as Gokudera exhaled, "Of course I am."

A slight frown appeared on Takeshi's face, "But, you spent all day with her yesterday and didn't find anything suspicious."

"And your point is?" the bomb expert pressed. "Nothing, I'm just saying that it's unusual for you to be so thorough with a civilian background check."

Despite not being invited to sit, Takeshi made himself comfortable in the chair across from Gokudera's desk.

"It's not like she's being vetted for an occupation or before she can date someone from Vongola."

Takeshi didn't miss the heated glare from the moody comrade. "What? She's pretty cute. And it isn't every day you meet..."

"Forget it. Even if I couldn't find anything right away there's just something about her...wipe that smirk off your face!" Gokudera suddenly interrupted himself, pointing an accusing finger at the swordsman.

"What smirk?" Takeshi asked while the grin grew.

"That 'Oh you like her' look. Scrub that from your thoughts right away! You're just as bad as my sister, setting me up with every single..."

"I never said anything..."

"No, but you looked it." Gokudera snipped, roughly grounding out the exhausted cigarette into an ashtray with much more force than necessary.

"Well, maybe you wouldn't be so uptight if you did...I don't know go out on occasion. ...just a thought." Takeshi suggested.

"Ha, that's rich. And if I weren't around to make sure the Tenth's head wasn't getting blown off..."

"Well that's what the rest of us are around for" the other man cut in quickly. Takeshi tried to take Gokudera's mood swings and his lack of faith in stride. Sometimes though, the right hand man had to be 'reminded' he wasn't working alone.

"Yeah. We've got the boxing idiot who nearly killed you and the boss yesterday in a car wreck..."

"It was a fender bender at most." Takeshi interjected.

"And Lambo is more likely to whine and wet his pants before charging into a fight."

"...okay you've got me there, Lambo-kun isn't reliable most of the time. He is getting better though."

"The Mist Guardianship changes hands so many times, I'm not sure who's going to walk into Chrome's old office from one day to the next."

Another good point, but Takeshi felt it was pointless to admit it since Gokudera was working himself up into a fix.

"And don't get me started on Hibari. That...bird-brain. He's all up for a fight but heaven forbid we waste his time on 'Vongola' matters. He's here one day and then gone the next."

Takeshi noted the pause with Gokudera's insult. Even in this state of pissed-off- beyond- redemption, the Storm still felt weary about saying anything about the Cloud.

'He probably still thinks Hibari has his office bugged.' Takeshi thought. And, unlike most of Gokudera's conspiracy theories; this assumption probably wasn't too far fetched.

"Then there's you. If there isn't a sword in your hands, I doubt a serious thought would ever cross your mind."

"...ouch." Takeshi replied yet didn't seem too wounded. After all, compared to everyone else, he got off easy.

"Don't look so relieved, I'm running low on insults at the moment." Gokudera said in response to Takeshi's 'cocky' attitude. "Why are you here anyway?"

"Glad you asked. It's about your favorite person...well second favorite person." Takeshi teased.

"You need work on your sarcasm. Why don't you just come out and say..."

"Tsuna wants us to contact Hibari about some trouble in Namimori."

Gokudera leaned back in his chair, pen in between his fingers now with the cap precariously close to his lips. "If it's about Namimori, Hibari probably not only knows about it but took it out of commission last night and flew back on the next plane to Italy."

"Yeah, under normal circumstances that would be the case." Takeshi agreed. "What do you mean by 'normal'?" Hayato asked.

"It's not the town itself self that is in danger. Tsuna was told his mother, Kyoko and Hana might be in danger. He didn't give me specifics though. Just said we need to have Hibari come in and see what Foundation can do until we can secure a place for all three here."

Green eyes blinked, "They just left Italy because of the attack on the manor and now we're yanking them back."

"Seems like it."

"Damn. Work is never done, is it?" the silver-haired man complained. "Ah, come on. You know you love it. You're such a workaholic that it's a wonder you can sleep at night." Takeshi teased.

"Shut up." Gokudera bit back, "I'd rather be a workaholic than a baseball idiot. Why do we have to 'fetch' Hibari in the first place? Everyone has his number...don't tell me he's screening calls again."

The swordsman thought for a moment, "Probably. Tsuna told me Tetsuya answered the phone. He said Hibari was out hunting."

Both men had the mentally scaring image of Hibari with a gun. The man was a terror with just his tonfas, so the thought of Hibari with a loaded firearm invoked shudders.

"Let's hope they get hit by a car or get taken out by one of his lackeys first." Gokudera stated.

"That's a rather morbid thing to wish on someone" was the Rain's remark. "Better off dead than in Hibari's line of sight" the Storm replied.

Haru woke up around noon. She yawned then flinched at the bad taste left in her mouth from morning breath. Pushing away from the cardboard box she had yet to unpack and used at the pillow during the wee-hours of the morning.

Feeling like she was floating and sinking at the same time, thanks to groggy fuzziness inside her head, Haru decided to down some coffee first and brush her teeth afterwards. While waiting for the coffee to brew, the young woman booted up her laptop and checked the security status.

"Good, good" she mumbled, tapping her foot against the kitchen island. Checking e-mail messages- one from Dad who wanted Haru to 'make up' with her mother, pronto. Another from a old co-worker who was concerned about her.

Haru closed that particular e-mail and deleted it quickly yet couldn't as easily erase the first line from her memory. Closing her laptop, Haru forgot about the coffee and strode into the bathroom because the young woman was hit with an urge to go back into town to shop.

Once out of her jersey and sweats, teeth brushed and make up applied, Haru ignored her growling stomach and called up a cab service, though knowing the fee would be staggering.

Only as an afterthought did Haru turn off the coffee maker. She could get something better in town after all. Maybe a new dress too...oh or shoes...

She smiled at the driver and climbed inside, pretending to ignore the meter as the digits steadily climbed higher and higher. Lost in her own little world, Haru looked up at the clear blue summer sky, the fields and dots of houses and buildings. Gradually, the pinpoints of civilization came closer together. Dots clustered to form a neighborhood here or a small market there, until the yellow vehicle brought Haru into the city.

She was so amused with people watching, Haru didn't even mind the traffic right up till the driver came to her stop. The brunette flashed another smile while handling money over before getting out.

It wasn't until she stood at the sidewalk's edge did Haru realize she had told him to come to a particular cafe. The cafe. With it's front window boarded up and the owner stood outside to haggle a price with the repairmen. Yet all Haru could hear was the sound of shattering glass and gunfire.

She swallowed and turned away abruptly, suddenly losing all sense of appetite and thirst.

"So, a new dress it is. Autumn colors like a rich burgundy red and chocolate brown. Maybe I can pull off golden rod too." Haru muttered, trying to drown out the noisy recollections.

The effectiveness of retail therapy was slow to kick in, Haru blamed it on the gnawing hunger in her belly and lack of proper rest. Eventually though, she was satisfied with the results, namely the cute blouse and skirt combo and new purse. Even if her line of credit would have to suffer for it later on, Haru for one was languishing in her purchasing power.

Hunger reminded her that there was nothing in the fridge or pantry back at the house. With that in mind, Haru took a quick jaunt into a bookstore and came back with a load of Italian cookbooks. 'If I'm going to live here, might as well learn how to cook.' Haru thought, patting herself on the back for such a practical and 'grown-up' decision.

Weighed down with bags yet in dire need of ingredients, Haru decided she'd need to purchase a car soon. Not today though, besides the exercise would do her some good...or so she thought until the world started to tilt a little. Blinking, Haru shook her head but that did little to cure her wooziness. Another dizzy spell brought her stumbling forward and crashing into someone.

That someone was not very happy. Dimly aware she was being held up and someone was shouting at her, Haru found her mind a blank slate of Italian. She uttered...something...which turned out to be the wrong thing because the man's face turned purple in rage.

"What...?" Haru said, honestly confused as to why he was so angry.

"Please let her go" a third voice rose up. Haru turned her head, only to see a sunburst of white spots. She heard another woman conversing to the man in Italian and after a moment or two he let her go, but not without a curse flung at her.

"Are you okay?"

"Yes..." Haru lied in her native tongue while swaying on her feet, bags slipping out of her hands. Haru found herself looking at a violet colored left eye and then to the woman's purple hair.

"...yeah. Who are..."

"Do you have someone I can call? Family?" Haru shook her head, but then groaned because the lightheaded was overtaken by a headache.

"I'll contact the hospital."

"No!" Haru blurted out. She caught that much and knew it would be a bad idea for her parents to receive a hospital bill.

"I'm just a little dizzy. I can eat and then be okay." Although her assurance was a mix of Japanese and Italian words, the other woman seemed to understand and took pity on the starving Haru.

"This way then. You can have lunch with me."

Chrome knew it was a mistake. Not even a calculated one. She saw the woman collide into another person, looking pale and ill. A spark of sympathy came upon her, because Chrome herself knew what it was like to suffer from bodily aliments, yet she felt it best to move on. Until the man started yelling and hurling insults.

Then, Chrome found herself turning back. She managed to get the 'gentleman' to leave only to find herself holding up the brunette so she didn't fall to the pavement.

Haru Miura (introduced herself after downing a glass of water and decimating the basket of bread sticks meant to go with their lunch) kept apologizing and saying she'd make it up to Chrome.

"No it's fine" she said, yet Chrome couldn't deny that this delay might cost her dearly. She already missed her meeting time with Julie and kept trying to contact him via texts. So far, she was unlucky in reaching him.

"I'm serious, I'll pay you back somehow. Ugh, I can't believe I was so stupid for leaving the house without eating."

Chrome put down her phone long enough to converse face to face, "Does this...normally happen?"

Haru shook her head, "No. I'm not terminally ill or a diabetic if that's what you're thinking." A heavy sigh escaped the woman opposite of Chrome, "I'm just very, very stupid. Should have never come here...I haven't eaten since lunch yesterday."

Chrome bit her bottom lip as she glanced at her phone again. Still no reply from Julie.

"Are you expecting a call?" Haru asked, feeling a bit more sociable now that her blood sugar wasn't hanging on by a thread.

"Sort of." Chrome said, "I was meeting an old friend for a drive, but I got sidetracked and missed our meeting time. He's probably off sulking somewhere and refusing to answer my calls."

Haru couldn't help but laugh, "That's funny, I never really thought of a man 'sulking', but yesterday I met this guy. And all he did was frown, grumble and pout."

"Hm, you don't say. Does this chronic sulker have a name?" Chrome inquired. "Go...damnit!" Haru abruptly exclaimed, kicking at the table base in a literal knee-jerk reaction.

"I promised myself I wouldn't think about him anymore. But, here I go again, blabbing off at the mouth and...oh no, your tea."

Chrome calmly mopped up the spilled tea with a napkin, "It's fine."

"Let me at least pay for your refill." "No need, I've paid the ticket upfront." Haru's jaw dropped, "I...I can't let you do that! It was my fault..."

"It's fine." Chrome repeated, feeling a little like a broken record. Awkward silence fell over their table. Then, Haru cleared her throat, "Anyway, his name doesn't matter. He was a jerk and not even worth mentioning."

Haru found it strange how her lunch-companion's lips twitched at 'jerk'. Not quite a smile or smirk, but a subtle upturn nevertheless. It had vanished by the time the other woman brought the tea cup to her lips.

"Since we're on the subject of names, what's yours?"

Chrome tasted chamomile but it turned bitter while the woman's mind ran a list of her various aliases. All those names sounded worn out and brought about bad memories.

"Nagi. ...just Nagi." she added, not about to give away her mother's 'famous' last name, even if Haru Mirua was a perfect stranger to her.

"Nagi...that's a beautiful name." Haru said with a honest smile. "Hm, it's alright." Chrome mused, though she never really gave much thought to her 'old' name as being anything.

Haru wasn't one to believe or form conspiracies, she wanted to believe the best in people. Yet, even she couldn't ignore the fact she had run into a lot of people of Japanese decent, or at least knew the language, as of yesterday.

Curiosity was replaced momentarily by hunger as their lunches arrived. Haru dug into her antipasti side dish as she noticed Nagi picked at her salad greens, only eating a piece or two before pushing the bowl aside to drink more water.

"Are you worried about your friend?" Haru asked after dabing her mouth with a napkin.

"Julie? No, he can take care of himself." Haru couldn't resist grinning. She smelled a potential love match. "Oh, it's a he. You two close?"

Chrome considered, "Not really. He's useful though." "...useful..." Haru muttered, then blushed as understanding dawned. "Oh, so it's 'that' kind of relationship. Well, I suppose that's okay too at least no one gets hurt if they know what to expect..."

Chrome blinked, "...I don't think we're thinking of the same thing, Miura-san."

"We're not?" Haru mused. "He's committed to someone." Chrome said vaguely, because honestly she wasn't sure what the status of Julie and his 'lover' was. Nor did she want to ask him about it, because Julie wasn't above digging at Chrome's past either.

'Ask no questions you don't want returned. Don't look for answers you'll be ashamed to disclose...a code of secrecy of sorts.' Julie had once said to her.

"Honor among thieves." Chrome mused to herself, a distant look in her eye which Haru couldn't ignore.

"Nagi...san, are you alright?"

A small smile, "You are asking me? How about you...feeling the urge to faint again?"

"...good point." Haru returned before moving onto her entree.

Takeshi knew it was mistake to let Gokudera drive. They had been staked out of Hibari's office, waiting for the Cloud to drift back to his home-base. Yet, Gokudera could not tolerate staying still for long. And then the moment of truth came when Gokudera spotted someone.

"That's her," he snarled. Takeshi sat up, looking through the window only to be jerked back by Gokudera's strong grip.

"Idiot! Don't let her see you! She'll come over here and demand why I'm stalking her" Gokudera hissed.

"You could just tell her it was a coincidence." This earned Takeshi a glowering stake-out partner.

"Come on, we're getting out." Gokudera said after a pause. "Wait! You just said you didn't want to be labeled a stalker, so now we're 'stalking' her?" Takeshi asked, more than a little incredulous at Gokudera's intentions.

"We don't have a choice, look who's with her." Takeshi followed where Gokudera was pointing, his gaze falling on the 'missing' Mist Guardian, Chrome Dokuro.

"That's not good" the Rain said "Damn straight." Gokudera said with a sneer, "Still think I'm crazy for thinking that woman is suspicious? She's following Dokuro around like a puppy, so there is a connection."

Takeshi swallowed down a hard lump in his throat. "Chrome would never harm Tsuna."

"Yeah, keep telling yourself that, maybe it will come true. The fact remains even if Dokuro isn't directly involved with yesterday's attack, she's still sleeping with the enemy."

Haru Miura found herself becoming Nagi's personal shopper, because when the latter complained about needing a pair of comfortable shoes Haru was quick to suggest a store she had left earlier.

However, Haru found it odd that Nagi 'said' she wanted a good running shoe, yet gravitated to tall boots.

"What can I say, I have an affinity for leather" was Nagi's simple reply when Haru mentioned tennis shoe would be more practical.

"Oh, so you're the kinky 'call me mistress' type."

A series of slow and bemused blinks proceeded Nagi's reply. "No...where do you come up with this stuff Miura-san?" Haru felt like dying of embarrassment right then.

'Nagi probably thinks I'm some kind of pervert.' Haru bemoaned. Looking away from the woman trying on her fifth pair of boots, Haru glanced out storefront glass to the sidewalk. For a moment, her heart stopped because the young woman thought she saw...

"These should do nicely." Nagi announced before getting up to the counter to pay. Haru was bothered by the split-second recognition, however when she turned back to the window the woman found the view blocked by five tall men. All five had black hair fashioned in the same pompadour style, the exact same style of black suits. Haru felt a chill go down her spine since these guys looked like text-book Yakuza thug types, right down to their shifty eyes and scars criss crossing along their folded hands and faces.

Haru saw them looking at the store window and she got the impression they weren't talking about the fashionable fall footwear.

"Uh...Nagi you might want to see this." Haru muttered, looking around only to find her new friend was no where to be found.

'Nagi' pulled aside the clerk after paying for her shoes, "Does this store have a back entrance?" The woman blinked in response, "Yes, but it's employee access only."

Chrome sighed heavily, "I'm sorry to trouble you, but I need your help. It's...embarrassing, but my ex-boyfriend has been following me. I've been trying to lose him, but I just saw him outside the store..."

"Oh no," the store clerk whispered, feeling sympathy towards the clearly distressed customer. Poor girl was sweating and looking pale. "Should I call the police..."

"No, please don't. It's my problem, but I'd like to ditch him. So...if you would, just this once?"

"Of course. I'll unlock the back and you can leave from there." Chrome nodded, "Thank you very much." She'd also have to thank Mukuro-sama for painstakingly teaching the art of lying, but right now Chrome's only concern was escaping.

"There you are!" Haru exclaimed, nearly making Chrome jump out of her skin. "Why are you here in the back?"

"Why are you here?" she returned. Haru ducked her head, "It's weird, but there's a bunch of creepy guys hanging outside the store. It's almost like they're waiting for someone."

"Creepy guys." Chrome repeated. "Pompadours and black suits?"

Haru was stunned for a moment, "Yeah...do you know them?"

"Unfortunately." Without offering an explanation to Haru, Chrome grabbed the woman by her wrists and yanked.

"W-wait! What's going on?" Haru asked. "Nothing to be concerned about." Chrome quipped, trying to keep the tremor out of her voice.

She knew Hibari-san wouldn't harm a civilian, but having Haru with her would complicate things regardless.

Gokudera didn't get a good feeling when he saw Hibari's 'goons' following Haru and Dokuro. They ducked into a shoe store and seemed to be in there a long time.

"Maybe they don't know about those guys." Takeshi suggested.

Gokudera shook his head. He'd didn't believe someone wouldn't notice five men gathered around a storefront. Then again, Hibari was never subtle with his displays of force.

"It's a wonder he hasn't been arrested." A chuckle came from Takeshi, "Well, if you'd think about it...kind of could be said for all of us."

"Speak for yourself, at least I don't leave witnesses behind or keep my targets alive." Gokudera threw back.

"Used to." "...what?" The Rain Guardian shrugged, "You stopped doing the 'kill on sight' stuff since joining with Tsuna." "...yeah, so what?"

Before Takeshi could formulate an argument both men noticed Hibari's group was on the move.

"They probably got wind the girls left that store." "Brilliant deduction, Einstein. Now, why don't you do something useful for once and predict where they're going."

Takeshi frowned at the insult, but took the Storm's advice. It didn't take much thinking for Takeshi to conclude who'd the Mist Guardian would go to if in a pinch. "Chrome doesn't know a lot of people in the mafia outside of Vongola. With the exception of..."

"Except for a tie to Shimon." Gokudera finished, he stopped to call Tsuna: who'd lob a call to Enma, who'd get a hold of someone who knew where the hell Julie Katio was. While Gokudera played phone tag, Takeshi took it upon himself to tail Hibari's men.

'And I thought yesterday was weird' Haru thought as she was pulled down this alley, up a block, into a another store, through another back entrance. Needless to say, they went through a lot of doors and Haru had yet to get a full explanation from Nagi.

Stopping wasn't an option though, otherwise Haru would have refused to budged and demanded answers. They couldn't stay still for long though because every corner there were more men in suits.

"You know...it's a wonder you're not paranoid, Nagi." Haru observed, her voice cracking a little because she was containing the urge to laugh hysterically. The urge became stronger as Nagi led them right into a dead end.

"This is where we stop." She released Haru's hand, back turned to the other woman while looking at the bricks.

Haru clenched clammy hands together, she shuddered as footsteps walked up to the mouth of the alley, blocking their escape. Then, she looked up and spotted a fire escape ladder.

"N-Nagi! We can get up there and..."

At this, the indigo haired woman turned to Haru. "I'm sorry. You seem like a nice person Miura-san. Sorry...I lied to you and got you involved."

Haru didn't like where this was going. "I said we can get out. Look there's a ladder, just give me a boost and I can get it down for you."

'Nagi' shook her head, "As much as it pains me to say this..."

A gasp came from Haru as Nagi leaned in close and closing the distance with each second.

"I'll be the only one escaping, Haru." Chrome said against the other woman's lips before claiming them in a deep kiss.

Shocked, Haru froze in place, her jaw slack and lips open while her new found 'friend' slipped something from her tongue and into the other woman's mouth.

Haru jerked and tried to pull away and spit out whatever it was, but 'Nagi' prevented that by putting her fingers in short brown hair and tilting Haru's head back, deepening the kiss.

"Why is everyone crowding?" he asked. The voice alone was enough to snap the group of men into attention. Quickly, so as not to be 'bitten to death', twelve bodies separated with six to each side to give their leader a wide berth.

His expression didn't change, even after witnessing what the other has been observing.

Chrome pulled away from the brown-haired woman. She stared at him, arms releasing her hold on the woman's hair then turned on her heel to scale the fire-escape.

Hands clenched around the metal tonfas, Kyoya Hibari shoved past the one left behind to chase after his quarry. However, she delayed him by sputtering and pointing to her throat while turning blue.

"Hibari, you need to let her go. She's a civilian" Yamamoto called out to him. Gokudera was a step behind him.

"Yeah, she's annoying but you can't hurt her."

"I wasn't going to" Kyoya replied. He couldn't ignore the gasping noises and her pawing at his suit jacket though, so he turned to the Storm Guardian.

"If this belongs to you," Kyoya grabbed the woman by the right forearm and pushed her into Gokudera, "then take care of it."

"Don't just throw people around, you psycho-bastard!" Gokudera yelled.

"Wow, you almost sound like you care for her." Takeshi was quick to remark, with one those 'annoying' grins which grated so badly on Hayoto's nerves.

"Shut up I don't...what are you doing?" the man's voice trailed off, a look of shock over taking his face as Haru lifelessly collapsed against his chest. " ...hey. Hey...wake up!" Although knowing he'd never hear the end of it, Gokudera pinched Haru's cheeks in an attempt to get her to respond. All he got for his troubles was the woman's head bobbing forward.

He propped up the limp body, face drained of color since Gokudera couldn't feel her chest rise or hear Haru exhale.

"She's not breathing"

Notes: Yeah...not a lot of GokuHaru stuff again, but that will change with the next chapter, I promise!