A/N: Hey guys. New Story in three…two…one!
This is for my darling pal Reidluver's extremely belated Birthday! This fic is based on a conversation we had a while back about a conversation she had a while back with a friend…confusing much?
Warnings: None really. I guess subject matter and themes. But nothing too serious this time.
Setting and timeline: This takes place in Italy, a year before Fuuta goes to Japan to meet Tsuna. I'm not going to attempt to figure out all that /parallel universe/time jump/ TYL crap, because it annoys me and it has no relevance to the plot of this story at all. Just take it for what it is. Fuuta is seven in this story, and Fran is around nine or ten.
Okay done babbling, read on!
Disclaimer: Sushi*Bomb does not own Katekyo Hitman Reborn. Not even page one. Sucks.
In those Twilight Hours…
Imola, Province of Bologna, Italy, 1994
If you were to look up Imola among the thousands of rankings in Fuuta's book, you would see that it ranked first as the place to best see the stars at night. And it also ranked dead last for fun things to do, other than that. In short, the only semi-interesting thing to do in this little town of nearly seventy thousand people was star-gazing.
Oh, and walking around aimlessly until you got so tired you walked into things.
Which happened to be exactly what Fuuta was doing at the moment. Truth be told, it was more than a bit odd seeing a seven year old boy wandering around at such odd hours of the night with a giant red book clutched in his tiny arms, but then again, there wasn't really anyone up at three-thirty in the morning to tell the young brunette to go on home to his parents.
And so, Fuuta yawned widely as he walked up Santa Lucia Boulevard, narrowly missing a light post that had conveniently planted itself in his path when he had had his eyes closed not but a few seconds ago. His parents had been arguing again, about what he honestly couldn't say, but they were being so loud that he couldn't fall asleep. After over an hour of listening to the vicious back and forth between the two, Fuuta hastily threw on a coat and his thick scarf, gathered up his ranking book and hopped out the window of the two story home, into the tree outside his window, shimmied down, and made a run for it.
"I guess it's a good thing they were being so loud," Fuuta said quietly to no one in particular as he craned his head to look up at the stars hovering above him. A small smile graced his petite face as he spotted Orion's Belt, the three main stars that formed the constellation twinkling in perfect succession. Fuuta planted himself on the ground momentarily, all the while flipping to a half-filled page in his book, and quickly jotted down 'Orion' as number one most beautiful constellation in the sky. If it hadn't been for his quarreling parents, he never would have gotten the chance to see this marvelous sight.
He had seen many of the constellations on different nights; his parents fought quite often, so many a night was spent wandering the quiet, desolate streets of Imola with only his handy-dandy ranking book for company. He had nothing to fear; Imola didn't rank anywhere near the top in terms of crime rate, so Fuuta felt perfectly safe walking the streets in the twilight hours.
It was his favorite time of the night, to be completely honest.
He didn't really have many friends; the other kids in his town thought he was weird, carrying around that big book all the time and randomly going into those freakish zero-gravity trances, and then simply writing stuff down like nothing had happened afterwards.
Not that it bothered the small boy. He much prefered his own company, as well as the company of his rankings. He took comfort in their perfect accuracy, as they were the only things that were absolute in his young, tumultuous life.
After nearly an hour of walking down Santa Lucia, Fuuta came to the busy roundabout that merged into the main road out of Imola and into the bigger cities miles away.
The brunette shrugged apathetically.
"Guess it's time to go home now." He mumbled to himself as he readjusted his ranking book under one arm and turned to head back the way he came. He absently looked up at the sky again as he wandered back down the long winding boulevard, back down to the Vittorio Padovani suburb, where he lived in a modest, two story townhome with his mother and father.
This really was the best time of the night. With the exception of the streetlights, everything in the town was shut off, and in the near-total darkness, the stars and the new moon lit the sky in a magnificent display. The sheer bravura of the universe, with all of its brilliant, swirling colors and spiraling nebulas in the distance, brought a peaceful, content smile to the small boy's cherubic face.
He could sleep in the morning. The real show happened at night, when no one was around. It was a tender moment of intimacy between the vast universe and the small boy whose mind was intrinsically linked to it.
As he rounded the bend, Fuuta suddenly heard voices. It sounded like two men, and they were speaking in harsh, angry whispers, bickering silently. Fuuta quickly hid himself behind a building and poked his head around to look.
He spotted two men standing near a stop sign on the opposite side of the street. They were both dressed in crisp, white slacks and t-shirts. They appeared to be uniforms of some sort. To Fuuta, they looked like doctors, or in the very least people who worked in some sort of clinical setting. They seemed upset about something, as the two were arguing quietly as they shone their flashlights into a random alley. They appeared to be looking for something. Or someone.
Fuuta clutched his book tighter to himself. They were both large, intimidating men, with their sharp, military style crew cut hair and no-nonsense faces. In short, not people you would want to run into at such odd hours of the night.
I'll just take the short-cut home. Fuuta thought to himself as he backed away from his makeshift hiding place and made to sneak down the street when the two men had their backs turned. And he would have made it too, if that empty soda can hadn't been in his path.
Fuuta's clear brown eyes widened in fear as his shoe made contact with the empty aluminum can and sent it flying down the deserted sidewalk. He heard the men walk quickly out of the alley.
"Did you hear that?" He heard one of the burly orderlies shout to the other. Fuuta felt his heart begin to race as the two men looked over in his direction. He was out in the open with no place to hide. And by the looks on their faces, he was in quite a bit a trouble.
So much for getting away quietly.
"Hey you! What are you doing out here?"
Fuuta was frozen in place. The small brunette whimpered in fear and squeezed his eyes shut as he clutched his book protectively to his shaking chest. He heard the heavy footsteps of the two men getting closer and closer until he felt the soft heat of a flashlight upon his pale face.
"It's just some snot-nosed kid." One of the men said in a gruff, irritated voice. Fuuta dared to crack an eye open. He shyly glanced up at the two men who were speaking quietly again. After a few tense moments, one of the men knelt down to eye level.
"Is there some reason you're out here at four-thirty in the morning kid?" He asked, his tone impatient. Fuuta nervously picked at a loose thread in his jacket, trying desperately to avoid eye contact with the man.
"N-no, sir. I just c-couldn't sleep. So I took a walk." The two men shared skeptical looks. The man that was kneeling glared back at him after a moment.
"How old are you?"
The orderly shone his light directly into the young boy's face as he stared hard into Fuuta's terrified eyes, looking for any hint of deception. Fuuta stared back, wide-eyed and trembling. After a few silent seconds, the man put his flashlight down and stood up.
"Alright, he's just a kid. He has no part in this. Let's just keep looking." He said to the other man, before turning a back to Fuuta with a hard look in his dark eyes.
"Kid, run on home. This isn't the time to be wandering around. There's a patient loose from the psychiatric hospital." He said seriously. Fuuta's eyes widened frightfully.
Osservanza was a small, private hospital for the mentally ill less than a mile from his neighborhood. He had seen it a couple of times before, when he was smaller. It was a creepy place; tall, barbed-wire fences lined the perimeter of the compound, and there always seemed to be a constant aura of evil and sadness radiating from it. And, Fuuta noticed once, that no matter how sunny it was, it was always gloomy and dark over the old compound.
Fuuta did his best to forget that such a place was within walking distance to his home.
And now a patient was loose. Fuuta didn't even want to imagine what someone locked up in a place like that could look like, or do to him, for that matter. He felt an involuntary shiver crawl up his spine.
"Are you close to your house?" One of the men barked. Fuuta started at the sudden, brusque question, but nodded in the positive.
"I live on Vittorio." He responded anxiously. The man nodded, deeming that a safe distance away.
"Then go on home, kid. This patient is dangerous, and he won't hesitate to hurt anyone that tries to keep him from escaping. Get home as quick as you can, and make sure you lock the doors and windows." The other man said as he shone his light into a small revine.
"Yes s-sir." Fuuta stuttered quietly before scuttling down the street away from the two men. His night of peaceful wandering had turned into a terrifying race home.
Fuuta turned back quickly at the shout. The man who had been kneeling with him before walked briskly to where he was standing. He crouched down on his haunches and put a large, heavy hand on Fuuta's shoulder.
"And if you happen to see anything unusual, any little thing you think is out of the ordinary or looks a bit…off, be it tonight or tomorrow, " He paused with a steely glare as he pulled a card out of his pocket and handed it to him, "please be sure to give us a call as soon as possible."
Fuuta nodded as he took the card and tucked it away in his coat pocket. The man patted Fuuta's head as he stood up and with that, the two men walked around a corner and disappeared out of Fuuta's line of vision. With the two orderlies gone, Fuuta suddenly felt very alone and very vulnerable standing in the middle of the street at nearly five in the morning all by himself with a potential maniac on the loose.
He immediately dashed off in the direction of his neighborhood, doing his best to ignore the once comforting, now terrifying darkness of the dimly lit avenue. In his mind, Fuuta was half-expecting an axe-wielding maniac to come jumping out from around every corner,every small patch of widerness, anywhere, really.
If this patient was so 'dangerous,' why on Earth had those two guards let a pathetic little seven year old boy run home all by himself?
He clutched his book even tighter against his now slightly trembling chest as his eyes darted left and right, starting at every little noise he heard. He quickened his pace, suddenly feeling even more nervous and afraid. He was only a few minutes away from his street now.
Fuuta felt exhausted from running all the way up the particularly lengthy stretch of road that made up Santa Lucia Boulevard, and in his fear, he felt as if the street wsa stretching out further and further to keep him from reaching his home.
After several harried minutes, Fuuta finally skidded to a stop on his street. The small brunette put his hands on his knees and tried to calm his labored breathing. His house was still all the way down in the middle of the block, so he had to make this break short. He did not want to be caught alone at this hour with a crazy person. After regaining control of his breathing, Fuuta took one deep breath to collect his nerves and began the brief trek down the street to his house.
"I'm almost there," He said to himself reassuringly as he tucked his book underneath his arm. As his home finally came into view, Fuuta allowed a tiny smile of relief to creep onto his face.
Thank goodness. He thought to himself as he walked up the path to his gate and, as quietly as he could, unhooked the latch and crept in. He quickly rehooked the lock on the gate before tip-toeing silently around to the backyard to the tree where his window was located. After tossing his book up into the tree, Fuuta prepared himself to make the short climb up.
...Until he heard the metal links of the neighbor's gate move behind him.
The brunette stopped, his small body paralyzed with fear. Slowly, he turned his head to look over his shoulder, his entire body trembling uncontrollably. He had gotten this far okay, why now?
It's just a squirrel or something. He thought in a desperate attempt to reassure himself that-
-There wasn't someone standing in his backyard at five in the morning. Fuuta's heart nearly stopped at the sight of the vague silhouette standing huddled in the corner by the opposite gate.
"H-hello?" He squeaked, his voice coming out in a choked, high-pitched stutter. Maybe it was one of the orderlies from earlier? The figure said nothing. Fuuta felt tiny beads of sweat forming on the back of his neck.
It's the escaped patient! He's here to eat me, or beat me to death, or gauge out my eyes with his fingers, or-
The figure suddenly stepped forward.
Fuuta's mental rambling immediately ceased and all of the color left his face as the shadowed figure took several slow, lethargic steps toward him, their breathing coming in slow, dogged pants.
Fuuta's fear momentarily subsided, replaced with a sudden curiosity.
It appeared as if the person was having some difficulty walking. They were groping blindly along the gate, almost dragging themselves, much like a zombie would. Fuuta's head tilted to the side inquisitively. Now that he got a good luck at the figure, it was actually a bit stunted in stature. Not like an adult, but more like… a child.
He heard the silhouette groan shakily, as if in pain. And they were coming towards him.
They must have heard me walk in through the gate! He shouted frantically in his mind as he watched the shadowed person creep along the perimeter of the fence. They pulled themselves at a more frenzied pace along the gate towards Fuuta, whose sense of fear returned tenfold. The boy backed up towards the large tree in absolute terror as the shadow stumbled away from the gate and ambled towards him. Fuuta could hear the person's labored breathing as they groped in the air, as if reaching out to him.
But after looking at the figure feeling around for a few seconds, Fuuta realized that the person didn't seem to realize exactly where he was. They were feeling around blindly with their arms outstretched, as if they were blind, or at the very least had trouble seeing in the near pitch black of his backyard.
As if to corroborate that theory, the figure suddenly stumbled forward and tripped, their breathing strained and shallow. Fuuta decided he would use this to his advantage.
He slapped a hand over his mouth in an attempt to keep absolutely silent as he inched his way towards the tree. When he was close enough, he would make a mad dash up the tree and into the safety of his room. He unconsciously put a hand to his pant pocket, where the card the man had given him earlier was tucked away.
He tip-toed as stealthily as he could towards the giant tree, not taking his eyes off of the person, who was now moving their head from side to side, as if attempting to look around as they stood back up on wobbling legs.
Fuuta put his hands out to feel for the tree as he stepped cautiously, albeit more hurriedly, in its direction. He was almost home free when, in a furious betrayal by his beloved universe, he stepped on a lone twig on the ground.
The brunette gave a strangled squeak as he heard the small branch snap under his converse and looked over his shoulder, eyes wide with fear. The person appeared to have heard the noise, and was lumbering slowly in his direction, now much closer than Fuuta realized.
He heard them stumble closer and closer, until they were just a few feet away. In defense, Fuuta held his ranking book up over his face and squeezed his eyes shut, waiting for his inevitable fate. But surprisingly, he felt no hit, no knife, no nails tearing into the soft flesh of his face.
Instead, he felt a soft hand cover his fingers at the knuckles.
The long, nimble fingers of the person's hand patted his own hand, as well as the book clutched so tightly in it, experimentally, as if to decipher human from object. Fuuta stood frozen, not even chancing a breath. The hand closed gently over his wrist, as if seeking comfort in the presence of another human being. And in that moment, all of the fear and terror he felt completely vanished, that previous feeling of curiosity quickly took their place.
He felt no malice, no ill-intent from this being standing before him. If anything, Fuuta realized, they seemed to be more terrified than he was, if the slight tremble of the pale hand clutching blindly at his sleeve was any indication.
"A-are you okay?" He whispered cautiously. Afraid or not, this child was a patient in a psychiatric hospital, and the two men from earlier said that he was dangerous. Fuuta suddenly felt a bit puzzled. This child certainly didn't give off that killer vibe. But still, better safe than sorry.
The boy, as Fuuta had the feeling that was what he was, gasped as his breathing became slightly less labored than it had been. He seemed to be relieved by Fuuta's presence. The hand grasping his sleeve tightened a bit, but not painfully so. More as if to confirm that Fuuta was indeed there and not going to hurt him.
"Help." The boy whispered back, in a quiet, raspy voice. Fuuta nodded quickly. This boy may have been an escaped mental patient, but right now, he was alone and afraid, and Fuuta was the only one who could help him.
"Wait right here. Don't move, okay?" Fuuta said reassuringly. The boy slowly loosened his grip on his arm, and Fuuta ran up on the back porch and waved his arms around to activate the porchlight. After a few seconds, the motion-activated porchlight came on, illuminating the better half of Fuuta's backyard. With the yard lit properly, the small boy looked back to the creeping silhouette.
The figure did indeed turn out to be a boy; Fuuta guessed him to be around his age, perhaps a couple of years older. He couldn't see his face clearly, as he had some sort of high-tech looking metallic contraption on his head. It was covering the top of his head as well as the top half of his face.
So that's why he couldn't see me. Fuuta realized as he hopped off of the porch and walked slowly back over to the waiting child, as not to startle him. It was a wonder he managed to make it so far away from the compound, especially with those two guards tracking him.
The boy was dressed in a light blue hospital gown, which Fuuta noticed was covered in dirt and blood. The small brunette grimaced as he took in the thin, bloodied gashes running up one of the boy's arms. He was hurt.
If he had had any doubts about taking him in before, they were certainly nearly gone now, replaced with the need to aid this child. The boy was wobbling from side to side in fatigue, and he looked like he would faint any second.
"Hey," Fuuta whispered as he hesitantly reached for the boy's hand. He felt the boy's fingers cup his own hand reflexively, "I'll be right back okay? I have to open the door." He felt the fingers tighten anxiously.
"Don't worry," He said quietly as he patted the boy's hand reassuringly, "I'll only be gone for a minute at the most. Just sit right here." Fuuta finished as he tugged the boy over to the steps of the porch and gently pushed him into a seated position on the top step.
"Stay right here." He said one last time before turning away and running at full speed toward the large tree and jumping up onto the lowest hanging branch. He quickly climbed up the tree, grabbing his ranking book on the way up, and crawled in through the window. Fuuta offhandedly threw his ranking book on his bed and shrugged off his coat and sneakers before running out of his room and down the hall. He made sure to step as stealthily as possible by his parent's room, so as not to wake them.
Once past their bedroom, Fuuta glided down the stairs and into the kitchen, groping around blindly for the light switch. He glanced in the direction of the backyard door, where the light from the porch was filtering in through the cracks in the drawn shutters. It was there that he paused for a moment, in order to consider the situation he was in. There was a boy outside that door; a mental patient from the creepy psychiatric hospital, and he was supposed to be dangerous.
Fuuta may have been only seven years old, but he knew a potential catastrophic situation when he saw one. If he let this kid in, and he did indeed turn out to be as dangerous as the two orderlies said he was, then he was putting not only himself at risk, but also his parents, who were blissfully unaware of the current predicament as they slept peacefully upstairs.
But then Fuuta thought about the other side of the situation. He truly hadn't felt any threat when the boy reached for him. There was no malice or ill-intent in the boy's movements or demeanor; Fuuta had experienced those types of emotions before, and what he felt from the boy in the yard was completely different from any of the numerous thugs and mafiosos that had made attempts to kidnap him before.
Fuuta steeled himself as he marched determinedly towards the door. Mental patient or not, the boy was all alone and injured out there and he was terrified. Fuuta knew he was the only one at this point that could offer any sort of assistance to the boy.
He slowly put his hand on the knob and then unlocked the door that lead out to the backyard.
And sure enough, the boy was sitting right where he had left him, waiting patiently. At the sudden noise behind him, the boy turned his head and stuck one of his bloodied arms out in front of him, probably for Fuuta to grab hold of.
Fuuta walked over to him and crouched down.
"Hey," He began quietly, "Can I ask you something?"
The boy nodded silently.
"Are-are you, um…dangerous?" Fuuta asked hesitantly. He had to know for sure that this boy wouldn't hurt him or his parents if he helped him. The boy's lips curled slightly at the corners in an almost imperceptible but pained smile.
"No." He said, voice so low Fuuta strained to hear him.
One look at that smile, and Fuuta inherently knew he could trust this boy. Or in the very least, trust him enough to take him in and treat his injuries. He didn't know what he was capable of, but clearly, he was in no condition to try anything.
Fuuta nodded determinedly as he grabbed the boy's hand and tugged him up off of the step gently, guiding him towards the open door.
The boy was truly exhausted, Fuuta could see. His slow, lethargic steps were crooked and uneven, and he was stumbling over his own feet. It seemed as if he was not only tired, but heavily medicated. Several times, he would have tripped if Fuuta had not been holding him.
After several strenuous minutes, the two finally made it inside. The boy collapsed to his knees in an exhausted heap, his breathing coming in shallow pants again. Fuuta tried not to stare hard at the trail of blood droplets along the floor leading up to thin slit up the boy's arm. Suprisingly, it actually looked worse than it was, Fuuta realized in the clearer fluorescent lighting of the kitchen.
He took that time to really take in the boy's appearance.
The boy was several inches taller than him, and quite thin, but not to the point that Fuuta would suspect malnutrition. He was very pale, as if he had never been outside. By his labored breathing and fatigue, Fuuta guessed that to be pretty accurate. As he had noticed earlier, the boy's head was covered by some sort of device. It looked like one of those visors boys wore in arcades when they played virtual reality games, only this one looked much more advanced, and very expensive.
On the back of it, Fuuta saw what appeared to be a flat, high-tech looking number pad with a black screen on top. It seemed to be some sort of locking mechanism. The device looked complicated, and apparently it was extremely heavy, as the boy had trouble keeping his head up on his own. Under the device, Fuuta saw silky, shoulder-length strands of mint green hair poking out.
Green hair? He thought to himself quizzically. He had never seen someone with green hair before. He seemed a little too young to be dying his hair that color…but then again, he was a patient in a psych hospital. Fuuta guessed that the idea wasn't really so far-fetched after all.
Fuuta closed the door slowly as he stared at the boy lying tiredly against one of the cabinets. He would help this boy for now, and then figure out the rest in the morning.
Hopefully, he wouldn't regret this potentially idiotic choice he had just made.
This was getting pretty long, so I had to make it into a two shot. But that's seriously it, I swear on my life! If you are enjoying it so far, please leave me a nice review! I'd love to know what you all think so far.
Chapter two will be up soon, probably later in the week if I manage my time wisely.
Well, see ya loves!