Disclaimer: Reborn is not mine.
Growing taxes, a prince in distress, and the magical power of virgins. Reborn's crazy scheme to extort millions out of the Crown Prince drags Tsuna through a high-stakes romp in an underground bazaar. Vomit bags not required. R27.
Warning: Ten-year old boy humor.
AN: Dedicated to stormypeach1396. Hope you like the culinary adventure! (Somewhere along the lines of the prompt Reborn watching over Tsuna growing up, I heard the words virginity power and froglegs. Don't ask me how.)
Tsuna hated going shopping.
For one thing, the stuff he needed to buy were only sold in the jam-packed bazaar, accessible only by the elevator of the shady motel across the city (and even then, the basement button tended to go wonky and turn invisible from perfectly normal shoppers like Tsuna). Then there were the crowds, the occasional bumbling tourist, and the odd heat emanating from a witch or wizard wandering around. And then there was the tiresome haggling that most merchants had damn well perfected to a science.
"—eye of frog, very rare, cannot go lower than thirty dollars." The sallow-faced stall-keeper had pinched his nose already.
Bad sign, Tsuna thought. He dreaded that scrunch of skin, the heralds of contempt and exasperation. But geez, thirty bucks for five grams of frog eyes.
It was bleeding highway robbery, it was.
"Fine," he said, "but give me a discount on the Spanish fly, at least. I mean, it was only last month that you sold me frog eyes for like fifteen dollars. Whatever happened to customer relations?"
The stall-keeper sighed, adjusted the wire-rim glasses, and scooped out the frog eyes into a small vodka bottle. "Inflation in prices. Very bad for business since Prince's angry taxes on underground trade."
Tsuna juggled the bottle handed to him with his other wrapped packages and slipped it into his already stuffed backpack. "Third time I've heard that. Why is the Prince coming down so hard on us?"
"Heard a foreign witch cursed him. But none of my business. I don't spread rumors, mind." Then the stall-keeper shoved a fortune cookie into his hand, muttered "—complimentary horoscope pastry—" then shooed him away.
It said, Pink is your lucky color. Today you will become very rich but don't eat any froglegs. You will also meet your soulmate.
Tsuna shrugged and tucked it away.
Not that it was any of Tsuna's business either, thinking about politics and economics of the city. But if prices continued like this, Tsuna's wages were definitely going to take a hit. He worked part-time for a secretive sorcerer who lived in the school's attic. It wasn't the glamorous job most people might think it was. Handling stuff like dried snails and monkey testicles had already inured Tsuna from frog surgery for biology class. And slimy textures would never trigger his gag reflex, ever.
Walking through the narrow corridors of the bazaar with stalls on every inch available to them, a person could find and buy anything and everything. Navigating through this maze exacted only one price. That you came out with a lighter wallet. Sometimes stolen, even. There were just too many colorful things being sold off, too many interested and distracted shoppers, and opportunistic street thieves on the prowl.
Tsuna clutched the packages to his chest as he walked towards the nearest plaza, guided by the design of the floor tiles laid in a trail to different plazas in the bazaar. This one was a fleur-de-lise embossed onto a blue background. Pretty.
A hand clapped onto his shoulder.
"If it isn't useless-Tsuna, my favorite of all favorite students."
Feeling the hair on his neck stand up straight, Tsuna slowly and bravely turned around even as his stomach dropped to his feet. "R-Reborn-san—weren't you in prison?"
Reborn's fingers slid down to grip his arm (in an unbreakable hold, Tsuna noted) and led him away from the Fleur-De-Lise plaza. "Tsk, tsk. It was boring there and it smelled like old feet. So I broke out."
Broke out of a high-maximum prison with a formidable reputation of no one ever leaving alive? Only Reborn could pull it off with sprezzatura, without much effort or thought. Simply because he'd been bored.
Tsuna felt his stomach sink even further than his feet into the floor.
"Oh, well that's nice to hear, good for you Reborn-san, that's awesome. But I really need to be going, I mean, look at the time, my boss must be looking for me and well, you know him—"
Reborn stuffed a hotdog on a stick into his mouth, halting the rambling words. "There. Eat some. My treat."
At those last words, Tsuna felt goosebumps multiply all over his skin. My treat. The words repeated themselves into an endless loop in his head, like a broken record player. My treatmytreatmytreat—This was Reborn. Reborn never did anything for free. Not even the time Tsuna asked him to pass the ketchup when he'd been five.
Tsuna still had the mental scars.
And his father, the pictures in the family album.
Swallowing a bite out of the hotdog out of sheer nervousness, Tsuna choked on its spiciness, not having expected the chili's ground into the meat.
Reborn watched him with an eyebrow raised and a small secretive smile.
Hacking out bits of bread and meat, Tsuna dropped to his knees with the packages scattering around him. His lips were BURNING. The flow of people splintered around them, avoiding Reborn's pointed glare as they shuffled past both traffic-causers. "For paracelsus' sake," Reborn said as he bent down to pick Tsuna's packages, "stop being such a pussy. Eat it. I got us a job." His eyes, dark as the deepest pits of hell, gleamed with capitalist glee.
Tsuna moaned in despair on the floor.
That was when an armored golf-cart turned a sharp corner, its momentum almost flipping it over but dumb luck saved it as it bounced back to its wheels and screeched to a stop right beside them, scattering screaming people in its wake. The door slid open, Reborn jumped in, and a psychotic-looking blond hauled in the frozen Tsuna.
The blond shut the door, yelled at a purple-haired man to DRIVE, DIPSHIT. Then he grinned at the apathetic Reborn and at Tsuna. "Yo. Frog legs or chicken feet?"
"Frog legs for me," Reborn said. "And green tea if you have it."
"Cool, lemme get it." The blond brandished a skillet, poured oil in, and dropped in frog legs already dipped in flour and cracker crumbs. The portable burner skittered on the floor—with the blond following it with his skillet instinctively keeping the oil from splashing out too much— as the driver hurled insults at the merchants on the stalls and occasionally whirled the wheel like a lunatic. "What about you, dollface?" The blond asked as he took a swig from a beer bottle.
"Huh?" asked Tsuna, dazedly looking around.
"He's not eating. It'll distract him from the job," said Reborn as he slouched elegantly against one wall, with long legs folded underneath.
The blond laughed. "Holy sheeet! Burn boy's in trouble, kora." He handed a takeout box with fried rice and the frog legs stuck into it to Reborn. "You sure he's a professional and a virgin?"
Both the blond and the purple-haired man started cracking up. Reborn twirled his chopsticks and began devouring his lunch. Tsuna quickly scrambled up against a stack of boxes, eyes darting around him. "Reborn, where am I? What's going on? Who are these people? What—How did you know I was a vi—are you eating frog legs?"
"A bit slow," the blond commented.
"We didn't hire him for his brains, stupid," scoffed the driver.
"Say that again, octopus furry." Both Reborn and the blond said simultaneously, insulted.
"I told you guys it was just ONE TIME." The driver yelped as he slammed on the brakes, the oil in the skillet flew like torpedoes, and Tsuna screamed and slid sideways into Reborn's lap as the oil hit the wall exactly where Tsuna's own head was a few seconds ago. The oil hissed and sizzled and Tsuna was almost certain it was eating into the metal. Terrified, he clutched at Reborn's big biceps.
"HEY, my golf-cart!" squeaked the driver.
Reborn glared at Tsuna, his food spilled on the floor.
"We're here anyway," purple man sighed as he jiggled his nose-ring, a stress-relieving habit.
"Fudging finally. Thought you couldn't go any slower with this piece of junk," the blond said as he kicked at one of the walls. "Listen. You seem kind of simple-minded so I'll make this short. My name's Colonnello, that fruit is Skull, and we're kidnapping the Prince." Skull glared at him again.
Tsuna burst into tears, the shock and terror finally sinking in.
"The brat really is a virgin," Skull giggled, the nose-ring shaking.
Tsuna just cried harder into Reborn's shoulders, humiliation also stacked onto his list of shitty-things-today.
"Shit, Reborn, what'd you do to this kid?" Colonnello rummaged in one of the boxes while Reborn flipped him the bird. "Aha, here it is. Put it on."
Because Tsuna was busy wiping snot and tears on Reborn as a secretive revenge, Reborn manhandled the brunet aside to reach for the disguise costume they would strong-arm Tsuna into. It was half of a complete pink bedlah, merely the silky trailing skirt and the belt it was hooked to. They couldn't very well hang the bra on what wasn't there. Two (fake) armcuffs, one (fake) necklace with loops of (fake) pearls, and a (not fake) silk headdress.
"There, see? You're practically an authentic harem boytoy," beamed Colonnello.
"A virginal harem boytoy," Skull waggled his eyebrows. "Practically worth its weight in gold." Then he looked thoughtful. "Huh. Maybe we should just sell you off—"
"Get ready," Reborn shifted and repositioned the scimitars on his back. "The bell will strike soon."
Colonnello and Reborn ripped at Tsuna's clothes, shoved him in the boytoy bedlah clothing, fixed some makeup and perfume on him in a whirlwind of very invasive hands. Then he was unceremoniously dumped into a shadowy alleyway. The blond leaned forward, hanging on to the sides of the golf cart. "Don't forget. Find the prince. Get your hands on him then whistle."
The door slammed shut in front of Tsuna's shell-shocked face and the golf cart rattled away, turned a corner, and disappeared.
The bazaar's cheap imitation of Al-Jazari's castle clock struck the hour and a plastic mannequin harlot blew into a trumpet, a weak pfaaaf coming out.
Tsuna climbed to his feet, dusted off the skirt and belatedly realized he was barefoot.
That was when for a second time, another hand clapped onto his (bare this time) shoulder. "What the shit are you waiting around for, kid? The entrance's this way."
He was rudely dragged towards the end of the empty alleyway by a tall silver-haired man in the Palace Elite Guard's uniform, all sleek leather and metallic plates layered over a clearly muscular form. Tsuna sort of felt wobbly on his knees at the sight and sighed at the injustice of it all. Some people packed on muscle like it was a piece of cake. A piece of luscious red velvet cake. Tsuna's mouth watered at the thought. It felt like hours since the (crappy) hotdog.
The silver-haired man kicked at the wall, cursing about sesame seeds.
The gargoyle statue on the wall yawned and its jaw dropped to the ground, opening a corridor into its throat.
"Anyway, I'm fuck—" the silver-haired man banged his head against the low arch of the gargoyle's lip, "—Squalo." He looked nervously down at Tsuna. "Some of the girls have been marching in mutiny. Can't get any of them to serve the Prince. And well, he's been more on the warpath since…"
"Um," said Tsuna eloquently.
"Then an informant of mine said he could deliver a virgin right on the dot," Squalo grinned. "That bastard won't have a reason to complain. And don't worry." His eyes darted away from Tsuna's. "I'm sure you won't be coerced into doing revolting deviant acts at all."
Tsuna gulped because that had sounded like a total LIE.
Through a dark and foreboding hallway, they finally came to the end of it. An arch of tea-green tiles, covered by red velvet curtains sewn with a pattern of moons and stars. A Janus figurehead sat on top. It opened its mouth and asked, "So, this is the new one? Blessings be on your soul."
"Thank you, I think," muttered Tsuna.
"You'll need it," assured Janus.
Squalo pursed his lips. He hustled Tsuna into the room, past the curtains but had to push harder as Tsuna did a double-take at the sheer opulence of the place. It was a Turkish bathhouse, with shimmering heated pools littered with swirls of rose petals and tropical potted plants bloomed in the humid misty air. The whole hall, because room was too small a word to even describe one of its redolent pools, was lit by sunlight from the glazed glass roof and even from there hung several more vines and roses.
And that was when Tsuna noticed the more disturbing elements of this bathhouse. The satin pillows, the plush carpets, and the colored glass bottles hiding around the place. And the discreet manacles on some of the pillars. And the pile of sextoys gleaming like flesh on the table.
And that was when it clicked, when all the puzzle pieces fit together, when Tsuna finally realized he was in a whorehouse.
Feeling faint, Tsuna tottered over to a pile of cushions and sank into their deceptively soft embrace.
Squalo marched to the table of sextoys and procured a bowl from behind the pile and marched back to Tsuna to hand it to him. It was a dark soup with sediments of cut herbs and unnamable meat parts floating unappetizingly on its murky surface. Squalo frowned at him. "Eat. We can't have you fainting from dehydration while performing."
No way, Tsuna thought to himself hysterically. No way was Reborn selling him off. That was a little too far, right? Reborn wasn't that much of a bastard. And hadn't they said? Just get his hands on the prince and whistle. He drank the soup directly from the bowl, tipping the contents carefully into his mouth.
Squalo watched him swallow. "How is it? Personally, I don't much like deer penis soup although they say it's a powerful aphrodisiac."
Tsuna choked. He spilled the soup down his chin, hastily pulling the bowl away from him, and hacked out the bits of meat he'd been chewing. He gagged into his hand.
Squalo tsked and produced a silk handkerchief to wipe him off. "Try not to get muddy, damn it. The Prince will be coming in a few minutes and he's a clean freak." When he'd finished, Squalo hid the handkerchief away and eyeballed him from head to toe. "Listen. When the Prince arrives, don't freak out. Do what he tells you to. And don't you dare breathe a word to anyone, got it?"
"Yes, I understand, so please take away your sword," Tsuna carefully enunciated as the sword tip was barely an inch away from his throat.
Squalo smirked and left through a different set of bell-shaped doors with a curtain of pearls, his footsteps silent and lethal.
Tsuna watched his butt flex in the leather.
And then Tsuna was left alone to explore the empty bathhouse. It was a nice place, to be sure. There were faint traces of perfume in the air, lavender and oranges and amber. There were even small plates of Turkish delights and Spanish chocolates lurking in several alcoves which Tsuna gleefully stuffed into his mouth. He didn't even care when some of the chocolate labels proclaimed them to be the world's strongest love candies.
No way in hell was he letting the Prince have his virginity.
Not after he'd raised the taxes on stuff Tsuna regularly bought. Tsuna humphed as he shoved a particularly piquant spicy bonbon into his mouth where it melted sinfully into his throat. He sighed lustily, licking his fingers clean. Chocolates were expensive…
"Trash, keep doing that to your wrists now."
After a short girlish scream and Tsuna jumping about a foot in the air, he looked around and again found the place empty.
That was weird. Tsuna scratched his head.
"Did I say scratch your idiot head? I said lick your wrists."
Tsuna hurriedly lapped at his wrists, eyes wide and paranoid. There was absolutely no one around. "Um. Where are you?"
The deep baritone voice sighed, as if expecting this defiant attitude. "Down here."
Tsuna looked down and saw a warty frog, its mouth a nasty sneer. It had dark green circles on its skin, a pattern of bubbles. On its head was a small golden crown. Tsuna's jaw dropped. "Ah, you, er—"
"Yes, I am the Noble Beloved Prince and yes, some bitchy witch from the West cursed me into this disgusting form and yes, I ordered you to continue licking your wrist," said the frog in a bored tone. "After, I want you to lick one of the dildos and to fuck yourself with it." The frog raised an eyebrow that wasn't there in a complicated-looking leer. "…While I watch."
Tsuna shivered from tip to toe. That perverted stupid frog! The nerve of it when Tsuna had skinned and deboned many many froggy corpses in his short life. Giving it a sadistic smirk, Tsuna picked up the frog and whistled.
Several bombs exploded outside the bathhouse, acting as a smoke-screen.
And then the golf-cart smashed through the glass roof and miraculously did not crash on Tsuna, the frog, or any of the many pools around the place.
Reborn slid the door open. "Hop in."
Tsuna's jaw dropped. "That was it? That's your great big plan for kidnapping the Prince?"
"WHAT?" screamed the frog.
Colonnello popped out. "We're not big on subtlety. Figured we'd just get the froggy man alone then kidnap him with a fake whore virgin. Just like a manga."
"You're a fake virgin?" said the appalled frog.
"I'm a fake whore, DAMNIT!"
"What the shit is going on here?" Squalo burst into the room, swinging scimitars like a furious tornado. His eyes narrowed and zoomed in on the Prince being held by Tsuna, uttered a short scream, and then attempted to claw his eyes out. "Oh my god, you're not having sex with his hand, are you?"
Tsuna purpled, nausea rising as the frog raised angry invisible eyebrows.
Reborn slammed his sword on the table, flipping it and the pile of rubber dongs into the air. Reborn, using his sword as a bat, belted the rubber dongs towards the cringing Squalo and they flew like torpedoes, being entirely aerodynamic.
Squalo dived into a pool because, god, he sure as hell didn't know where those things have been.
When he surfaced, soggy leather especially heavy, it was to find the interlopers gone with the Prince. Pretty fucking pissed, Squalo took out a bird-whistle and blew a shrill note. Like mad disciplined ants, black uniformed soldiers swarmed into the bathhouse. "Hunt down those troublesome bastards, dead or alive. Save the idiot Prince. Do not, I fucking repeat myself, do not let anyone else know what's happened."
Moodily, Squalo chopped up the rubber dongs on the floor and then stomped on them several times, cursing all the gods and then some.
"What the fuck, why'd you bring them along?"
Colonnello sniffed at Reborn's affronted face. "They're useful is what. I could sell them off, say that the Prince's spunk's been on them, that's practically at a premium." He was carefully wrapping several of the dildoes from the bathhouse in a cotton towel. "Lots of girls want to say they've got a bastard heir, which will make me a rich man."
"My spunk has certainly not been anywhere near those things."
"Shut up, you damn amphibian," scowled Reborn at the frog still in Tsuna's cupped hand. "Did you have to turn into a frog? Crown Prince Xanxus transmogrified into a low-class slimy wart-ridden frog for being a jackass. I mean, even a salamander has some style at least."
"Oi. I. Do. Not. Have. Warts." He didn't deny the jackass comment though.
"Stop it, Reborn. Don't be mean," Tsuna said. Bullying was still a sore point for him. "Anyway, now's not the time for that."
Skull sniggered behind the wheel. "And why's that, Princess Purity?"
"Because fifteen armored soldiers in menacing black capes on horseback are chasing us right now," Tsuna replied as he peered out the backwindow of the golfcart. "Big muscle-y horses," he added as if that would make a difference.
Reborn's crew simultaneously looked back.
They grew quiet.
Then Colonnello kicked at a cardboard box and overturned it, spilling deadly little mechanical crossbows. "Remember, don't kill the poor sods. We don't want murder on top of our crime rap."
"Dame-Tsuna, you know anything about crossbows?" asked Reborn as he picked up one.
Tsuna shook his head.
"Fine. Just hold the frog. Don't lose him."
They both slid the two doors open on each side, while the golf-cart was going full-throttle down the empty alleyways. They leaned out, while hanging onto the sides, and aimed the crossbows at the vulnerable miniscule spots between the plates of armor the soldiers were wearing. "On three," Colonnello said.
Reborn smirked. "Three."
They shot the poisoned darts, which whistled straight for their targets, a tunnel of wind swirling around the arrows.
They hit jackpot.
The two soldiers stilled, stunned, then tumbled over their now panicking horses.
While reloading, Colonello commented on something he'd noticed. "You know, there's sort of a big hole in our plan."
Reborn was exasperatedly kicking off the death-grip Tsuna had on his ankle. "Yeah? What's that?" Speaking to the brunet now, "Let go, damn it. I'm not falling off."
Colonello leaned out and shot another soldier down. "We can't really hold the Prince for ransom if he's still a frog. Nobody will believe he's the real Prince. Hell, other people might even bring their own frogs and claim it's the real Prince."
"Not important. As long as we have the real Prince, the ace is in our hands." He leaned out again to shoot but a loud clang shook the golfcart and if it hadn't been for Tsuna's death-grip on Reborn's ankle, he would have fallen off and cracked his head. The golfcart screeched, doing a wheelie, as a grappling shot had hooked into the metallic body at the back.
Five soldiers had their horses heaving against the chain of the grappling hook tied to their pommels.
Skull had stopped holding the wheel.
He was staring, unbelieving, at the metal tines sticking into the back of his golfcart. More and more grappling hooks launched into the cart and more of his precious golfcart's skin was mutilated. Shrieking like a banshee, Skull surged to the back with a rusty crate opener in hand and left the driver's seat empty. Skull levered the hooks' tines free like a mad man, arms bulging with muscle, mouth frothing with saliva.
Tsuna watched him with awe and a little bit of fear, the frog in his hand similarly shocked.
Until Reborn grabbed him by the neck, hauled him to the front to the driver's seat, and yelled in his ear to DRIVE.
Skull was already bashing at the back randomly in a blind rage as all his targets, the grappling hooks, were gone.
Colonnello crept up behind him then slammed a fist on his head.
"I think this one's rabid, don't you?" asked Colonnello.
Reborn stared at the torn metal armor of the golf-cart, gaping with holes. And through the holes, at the fallen soldiers whose grappling hooks had snapped backwards, like a rubber band flicking into its owner's face. Reborn shrugged. "Not bad. There's a reason why we keep him around."
"Anyway, I know a witch we can talk too," said Reborn.
"Not her," the blond moaned. "I hate her. I despise her. If hate was a type of food, I'd practically be obese from it. And then where would this hot blond bombshell be? Fat, is where I'd be. I mean, can't she give it a rest already? Just because I'd undercooked her fugu, she goes and dumps the whole skillet on my lap, is that any way for a lady to act? Then she has the nerve NOT to call me for like two whole weeks. Two weeks, Reborn. Two weeks."
"Sometimes, I can almost see why Lal wants to kill you," commented Reborn.
"Um, Reborn? Where should I keep driving?" Tsuna had both hands glued to the wheel, petrified as he was. The frog was croaking, clamped between Tsuna's thighs as Tsuna didn't dare take off either hands from the wheel. The golf-buggy was going forty miles per hour, zooming past terrified merchants and the snapping cameras of tourists.
"Slow down," Reborn said. "Lower the stick shift, and press on the—"
The golf-cart tripped on the trolley line, flipped into the air, and crashed onto the modified sloop floating on the canal.
It wasn't that Tsuna hated Reborn. Born three years younger and dubbed as the older kid's student/pawn/wallflower, Tsuna hadn't been victimized much by other bullies because of Reborn's attentions. And truth be told, Tsuna had never been lonely not with Reborn constantly scheming up new plots to hustle and ordering Tsuna about in different disguises and costumes. Reborn had been quick on his feet, gifted with a silver tongue, and considered the handsomest kid in the ghetto.
It wouldn't have been a bad life, if Reborn hadn't gotten mixed up with the beastie gangs.
Yes, Tsuna might even have followed Reborn forever.
The amazing Reborn who'd been kind and cruel to Tsuna in the same breath.
Tsuna woke up to a frog croaking on his mouth.
He very carefully did not open his mouth to scream. The frog was small enough to slip into his mouth and possibly his throat and esophagus. It was blue. It had patches of yellow and spots of acidic green. It had luminescent orange eyes that said to Tsuna, Take me, I'm yours. It croaked, its throat blowing like bubble gum into his face. Its webbed digits patted his lip in affectionate tenderness.
And it was cold and slimy.
At least, it wasn't the Prince of Pervertedness.
Tsuna picked it up and set it aside. And found the floor flooded with all kinds of gem-colored frogs, croaking in a chorus. And the Prince nowhere in sight.