Um... First off, don't kill me, please! _ Totally didn't intend to leave this hanging this long - and I promise not to do so again. I am in nursing school and things got very very chaotic for a while and then my computer kicked the bucket, so I've only just now been able to get a new one and start throwing some new stuff out there. I tried to redeem myself by making this eeeeextra long as an apology.

Hopefully all of you lovely people have not completely given up on this and continue to enjoy it... -_-;

And I now have a lot more written, so an update shouldn't be too long off.

Ok, sooo about this chapter... It's honestly not my favorite, at least not the last chunk of it. It turned out much longer than I had outlined and the ending was totally awful to piece together, but against my better judgement, I forced it together so as not to keep everyone waiting any longer than you already have. That being said, I'd like to toss out a special thank you/I-fucking-love-you to everyone that review Chapter One. This includes Sailor Dying-Will, Alternative Angel, Nichi Koneko, lalala, Metamorcy, The Neo Productions, AnotherEfgingShalala, Hijiri Clyden, kittit24, 10th Squad 3rd Seat, TripOverFlatSurfaces, 3 cups 0f tea, Secret-H, xYueex, Wendy Sawada, oriisrom, JapaneseAnimeFreak16, ScarletFlanpire666, ShayminPrima, JOY4BLEACH, SushiLoverForLife, Coconell, Delighten, Mist Arcobaleno Mammon, zeKaien, Angelzodiac013, Mizuki99, AYMK00, Soul Vrazy, AnonsGalore, CrystalVixen93, dhampire712, PhantomsWorkshop, Bleach-ed-Na-tsu, calypso tchaka, TSUNA AND THE DEMON, yuhai cloud, and Guests 1 and 2.

You guys are awesome and I hope you enjoy this.

As always, I do not own KHR!

Oooh, someone was going to pay dearly for this, Reborn decided as he leaned heavily against the chain-linked perimeter of the roof. Leon lounged lazily across the rim of his hat as the cursed hitman's mind rapidly analyzed the latest intel from his contacts, prioritizing exactly what he would do to the culprits when - not if - he caught them.

Sadism aside, Reborn couldn't stop the humiliated rage that burned under his skin, far too big for his little body to withstand without the ticking of a detonation timer echoing in his ear. He was Reborn for Christ's sake! Stuff like this just didn't happen to him!

Well, it fucking does, now, his mind taunted him, his coal-colored gaze studying his pacifier in irritation. He had been forced to call the other Arcobaleno with the smooth yellow object, a resort that had bruised his ego and cut his temper a few inches shorter than it already was. He didn't like having to call his comrades - despised it even. But what pissed him off more was knowing that he would actually need their help in order to take care of this business.

His business.

A few had been a little reluctant to answer their pacifier's beckon, but something about the urgency of sun flames had gotten their attention a little faster than had someone else called.

He'd gotten his point across.

They were needed in Namimori, Japan immediately; attendance was non-negotiable.

Of course, no one had argued, not when the message had come from Reborn of all Arcobaleno. Well, no one except for Verde, not that that had surprised anyone. The green eyed scientist had expressed his disagreement quite loudly, declaring that there was absolutely nothing that would drag him away from his current experiment, especially not for the sake of a mafia family he didn't even work for. Aria was quick to silence his argument with a sharp command that took the fight out of him.

He would come, and he would come now.

The indisputable order had quieted the grumbling scientist's protests to whispered curses. Cornered again, it seemed.

Reborn would've laughed at the brooding male had he been in higher spirits, however…

Cool, scaly feet creeping down the side of his face snapped Reborn back to the present as Leon made his way down from the hitman's fedora, tiny yellow eyes blinking up at his master in question. But Reborn was too anxious to respond verbally to his most trusted companion, instead reaching a hand up to stroke under the lizard's chin with one chubby finger.

It would be at least a day before everyone arrived; the geographical gaps between each Arcobaleno ranged from the mountains of Northern Ireland to the eastern shores of Japan (and where ever on the Atlantic Verde had anchored his portable base). It only made him a little more thankful knowing that Colonello and Fon stuck close by to keep watchful eyes on their students, but only slightly so.

Not that he'd ever tell them that, of course, but it was nice to know that he wouldn't have to wait terribly long for back up.

"Do my eyes deceive me, or is the great Reborn truly riled?" a lite gust of wind chuckled around him, shifting the fedora atop his head and Reborn's body jumped up before his mind even registered the instinct, Leon shifting in a blur of gold light. The sound of the safety clicking off was the only warning the intruder got as the dark eyed baby spun on his heel, ready and willing to blow away whoever had the death wish to sneak up on him.

Fon laughed softly and held small hands up in surrender. "Easy, my friend; I come in peace."

"You've picked the wrong day to fuck with me, Fon."

"Angry, I see. But I must admit that I'm surprised at you, Reborn - you don't usually call us to your aid. In fact, I can't remember a time that you ever have, minus our obligations for the Arcobaleno Trials," Fon smiled calmly, small sleeve-covered hands still held up in submission. "You're not usually this easy to spook, either. This makes me curious for a number of reasons. Tell me, are you angrier over the fact that you had to call us, or that you did not have to answer for once?"

Reborn growled darkly at the Chinese male, coal eyes narrowing the only warning Fon got before the other male fired at the storm infant until Leon clicked blankly. Only with the clip empty did the Italian loosen his grip on his gun and allow his pet to shift back to his regular form. The green-skinned reptile crawled up his master's arm to perch on an Armani clad shoulder, panting lightly as he peered curiously at the Chinese infant.

"Considering the circumstances, I'd say it's pretty understandable, wouldn't you?"

From across the roof top, Fon stared at the hitman, brown eyes wide as he eyed the damage inflicted to the spot he once stood. If he hadn't been as quick as he was…

"That's hard to tell when you refused to go into detail over your message," Fon pointed out, absently fingering his pacifier. As he neared his friend once more, the Chinese male allowed his playfulness to slip away for the time being, his storm flames brewing in caution like the calm before a storm. "So, friend, what troubles you?"

For once, Reborn didn't bristle at being referred to as a friend. Instead he sat grinding his teeth, weighing his options on what he should and shouldn't allow the usually quiet man to know.

Silence dominated the roof for several minutes, Fon waiting as patiently as always for his comrade to collect his thoughts while Reborn debated whether or not to just tell the Storm Arcobaleno now rather than later. He supposed out of their entire band of assassins, he trusted Fon's thoughts the most of them all, but that humiliation still hung heavy on his shoulders.

Fon, having known the Italian for more years that he had fingers and toes, recognized the chances of Reborn actually confining in him were slim at best, both due to the other male's stubborn nature and his ever so begrudging attitude. So when the coal-eyed baby turned to face the martial artist with an audible sigh of frustration, Fon barely hid his surprise.

"…Somethings happened with Tsuna," the infant started hesitantly and the Chinese male leaned forward in encouragement and interest.

"Tsunayoshi?" the long haired child questioned, brown eyes blinking as the young teen's image formed in the forefront of his mind. "What happened?"

The two-worded question seemed to amplify Reborn's agitation 7 fold. "I don't know," the baby scowled, running a small hand over the length of his face in exhaustion, the other hand clenched at the leg of his tiny suit as he grappled for his usual ever-present control.

It continued to elude him.

"I don't know what happened, or how, or why, and it's pissing me off. I hate not knowing what the hell is going on – especially when it involves Vongola!"

That was something Fon could understand completely, and he sat back and fingered the end of his braid calmly, though his flames still thrummed beneath the surface. "It's to be expected that someone as well rounded as yourself would get angry over not knowing the answers to everything, but that's natural isn't it? You can't know everything all the tim-!"

"Oh yes, I fucking can!" the hitman practically hissed with a ferocity that started Fon just a bit. If Reborn noticed – which the storm child was almost certain he did – he didn't show it as he crossed his little arms over his chest. "Especially when it concerns my student. When I find who's responsible, I'm going to beat them so viciously they're going to wish I'd thrown them in a room with Xanxus instead."

To his credit, Fon didn't shy away from the livid assassin even an inch, but when Lichi began to whine in terror on his master's opposite shoulder, Reborn grit his teeth and forced himself to calm down with a completely un-genuine apology. Fon merely smiled in dismissal and tucked his arms together inside his long sleeves.

"So," he started slowly, his face blanking as the notoriously calm male allowed himself to slip into assassin mode. "How bad is little Vongola?"

The frustration already rolling off of Reborn magnified, but this time when he spoke, he sounded like he was gaining some of his seemingly long-lost control back. He almost sounded normal. "Bad. They believe he'll recover given enough physical therapy, but until they can do a thorough neurological exam they don't know the extent of the damage."

The Chinese infant pursed his lips and mentally began counting backward from one hundred as slowly as he could. He never liked hearing about people getting hurt, but hearing about children being harmed so cruelly and intentionally sent whirlwinds of crimson fire dancing through his blood. The counting trick was something one of his old masters had taught him long ago to help him keep his temper in check when mediation and/or physical exercise were not an option.

He felt it worked well enough considering that the cursed martial artist hadn't lost his himself to his unforgiving anger since… well, roughly a decade before he became an Arcobaleno, if he recalled correctly.

"…This reeks of mafia business," he finally remarked slowly, his intuition wholly agreeing as Reborn nodded solemnly.

"Personal, too. There's no other reason for a beating of that degree unless whoever did it had something personal against Vongola."

"So, you believe they're trying to send Vongola a message." Fon had been in this world far too long to word that as a question, especially when they both knew it wasn't. "Someone in the famigilia, perhaps?"

"Possibly. I'm not ruling anything out yet."

Fon waited patiently, arms still tucked within his sleeves as he watched Reborn roll something around in his head. "But you already have a theory," he stated, again not as a question, and when the coal eyed child still made no move to share his thoughts, Fon finally pulled his hands apart to tap one hand against his lips, his long sleeve trailing down over his round chest. "Reborn, I know you dislike having to ask for help like this and that's understandable. But you need to tell me what it is you're thinking or else I can't help you."

To onlookers, the scowl that crossed Reborn's face might've appeared too cute for words. But to Fon, having known the male beside him before they'd both been forced into their current pint-sized bodies, recognized the expression how it was intended.

Complete exacerbation.

And a promise for revenge.

"…I have a suspicion that it may have been someone he knows…"

Two thin eyebrows shot up beneath a thick fringe of black bangs, not bothering to mask his surprise. "Someone he knows? What makes you suspect that?"

"He didn't fight back," Reborn finally admitted, both to Fon and himself. The fact made his scowl deepen. "He didn't fight back, at all."

Troubled brown eyes rose to study a clear blue sky, tiny fingers tapping his round chin in thought as he worked to process every detail he'd just received into some kind of outline for him to reflect on.

"Though I hate to entertain that kind of thought, it's definitely a possibility. There aren't a lot of other explanations we can fall back on as to why someone as capable and strong as Tsunayoshi wouldn't defend themselves in an attack, and that may fit the bill more than others. Either way, we won't know much for sure until he wakes up and tells us. Do the doctors have any idea when that may be?"

"Not yet," the black eyed infant grumbled with a shake of him head, his ill mood returning as he recalled the doctors he'd spoke with earlier. "They have him in a chemically induced coma until the swelling comes down some, so it's difficult to say. I had Bianchi call in Shamal, but until he gets here, we're stuck with these incompetent motherfu-!"

"Oh shut up, will ya? Half-assed threats aren't gonna help anything, kora!"

Two sets of dark eyes rose up to meet bright blue as Colonello's bird lowered his master to the roof-top in a slow decent. The blonde greeted his comrades with a brief nod, his ever casual attitude only half there. Fon returned the nod with a small bow, as expected of his character. Reborn just glared.

"Took you long enough," the black eyed baby grunted at his rival as darkly as always, and Colonello scoffed and crossed his little arms over his chest at the tone, clearly not amused by the situation despite having just arrived.

"It's not my fault Ryohei's damn near impossibly to talk down once someone get's him panicked, kora. You should be thanking me – without my help, that block-head would'a torn down the whole hospital by now, kora!"

Reborn stiffened immediately, eyes whipping around to stare at the door as if the silver haired teen would come barreling through at any moment. "Ryohei's here already?"

"Yup," the blonde nodded, face serious. "All the guardians are – and if's they aren't, they will be soon."

"Dammit!" Reborn swore, throwing his fedora to the ground in something akin to a fit. "The hospital is across town, we should've had at least had another 25 minutes before they got here – how did they know Tsuna was here?!"

"You're forgetting that Tsuna is not only their boss, but their friend, Reborn," Fon pointed out calming. "You can't expect them to not find out."

But Reborn wasn't about to listen to reason as he pointed an accusing finger in Colonello's direction. "I specifically told you not to say a word to anyone regarding where you were going, you stupid sonuva-!"

"Woah, woah, woah, hang on, kora!" Colonello defended quickly, hands held up in surrender just as Fon had earlier. "I didn't tell anyone anything – Gokudera called Ryohei before you even sent the summons through the pacifier saying Tsuna was in the hospital, kora. So why don't you get the stick out your ass and start filling me in one what the hell's going on, Mr. Sunshine."

Colonello would've had to dodge bullets if Fon's quick reflexes hadn't snatched the gun from Reborn's hand just as he whipped Leon off his shoulder. "Perhaps a little more explanation may be in our best interest, Reborn; at least for Tsuna's sake. You did call us here to help and my concern grows the more your control frays, my friend."

Reborn's jaw clenched, his limit of frustration already extending beyond any limit he'd ever encountered before. He didn't like this – hell, he fucking hated it – but with his options limited, the guardian's downstairs and the Ninth on his way, he had no other choice but to relinquish full control of the situation and trust in his cursed comrades for the first time in a long, long time.

"Sit down and shut up – I'll only say this once more."


Gokudera paced the length of the waiting room for the umpteenth time, his teeth gnawing on an unlit cigarette until the filter became soggy, bent, and broken apart between his teeth. The hospital may not allow him to actually smoke on the premises, but they couldn't stop him from chewing the damn thing to death.

And chewing was a helluva lot better than nothing right now.

"Dammit, where the fuck is he?" the silver haired teen growled, checking the time on his cell phone once more.


He and the other guardian's had been waiting for what felt like hours, pacing back and forth and waiting to get in that damned room, but Bianchi wouldn't let them passed until Reborn returned from where ever it was he frikkin went. The long haired teen cussed again and paused to shove the stupid phone in his jeans pocket and bury his fingers in his hair.

There was no way only 36 minutes had passed since arriving – the piece of shit must've been broken.

He had spent days worrying over Tsuna, because there must've been a reason why his beloved Jyuudaime was missing school and not answering his cell or house phone, right? Even if the younger boy was sometimes reluctant with his boss duties, he would never simply ignore them for no reason, right?

So, as Tsuna's trusted Right-Hand Man, Gokudera thought it best that he go check on his boss at home instead of returning to class after lunch.

Perfectly understandable.

Because that's what any other Right-Hand Man would do, right?

But when no one answered the door for the first time since he had come to know the Sawada household, Gokudera finally acknowledged that cold feeling that lay in his lower belly.

Because something didn't feel right. And one thing that chasing UMAs for years of his life had taught Gokudera Hayato was that when you got a gut feeling you needed to goddamn listen to it, and his had told him that something just wasn't right.

And that gave him every reason to start break in and start searching the Sawada house for clues, right?

Then he found the blood.

And for once the young Italian teen prayed that that gut feeling of his was full of shit and he needed to just start minding his own business. Because something couldn't have possibly happened here and he was only coming by days after to check on the tenth, right?

He'd have known something was wrong much, much earlier and come to help, right?


But the more the teen eyed the dried up pools of crimson staining the grass, the back patio and all the way from the front doorway, through the living room and to the back door, the worse that damn feeling got.

And that's when Nana had come home with the children. The storm guardian had to stop himself short of jumping the woman when he noticed how utterly worn she looked, and he was nearly desperate as he searched behind her. I-pin lay sound asleep on her shoulder. Lambo looked like he was about to be sick as he eyed the dried up mess and began tugging at Nana's skirt desperately.

But where was...?

Gokudera looked and he looked, and it was only when the exhausted woman called his name and he met watery brown eyes that he realized there would be no one else coming in behind her. Because she, I-pin and Lambo were ok, and that only left one other person whom could've bled like that…

Gokudera clenched his fists until his rings hurt his fingers, entirely too anxious and guilty and all around worried to just sit in a fucking waiting room while his beloved boss was somewhere in this hospital, hurt and alone.

Olive green eyes scanned the other occupants of the waiting room and the teen swallowed thickly. They hadn't been there to protect him when he needed them and that made him – made all of them – feel utterly worthless.

Frantically searching for a distraction, the Storm Guardian scanned the other occupants sitting in the waiting room.

Yamamoto sat closest to him, slouched back in his seat with his fingers interlaced at chest level and his usually lively brown eyes locked in a blank stare with the wall. Gokudera almost felt like taking out some of his anger on the baseball player, but he thought better of that when he noticed the whiteness of the tall teen's knuckles and the way his right leg bounced incessantly.

He was just as disturbed as Gokudera.

Next to the black haired boy was Ryohei, and for once the older boy looked more troubled that anyone. Given, that was expected after the third time a nurse had scolded him for being too loud, but with that and the threat of 'removal from the premises' looming over his head, the boxer had no idea what to do with himself. Gokudera could already see a faint red tint to his teeth from where he was currently chewing his bottom lip to death to keep from shouting his thoughts and feelings like he usually did, and the younger silverette made a note to commend the male later for his dedication where Tsuna was concerned.

Ryohei's silver brows furrowed deeply and he wrung his hands together roughly, some of his usual knuckle wraps already falling off at the stress. Gokudera could practically see the sun flames radiating off of his sempai and he frowned at how hard the short haired male was trying to stay still and not say anything. That took a lot of effort and he himself wasn't sure he could take it for much longer.

Beside the sun guardian, several empty seats between them, sat an ill looking Chrome, her arms wrapped tightly around her middle as she muttered quietly to herself – no doubt to Mukuro. She had been one of the first ones to get to the hospital after he sent out his frantic round of calls, and she appeared just as worried as everyone else, though, a tad more patient.

The Storm Guardian made another mental note to commend her for her poise and control later, maybe after they got word that Tsuna was alright. And he may just kiss her for managing to keep Mukuro for taking over, something he could see the no-good illusionist trying to overcome from the waves of mist flame rolling off her slender form every ten or so minutes.

Lord knew the bomber just couldn't take that sadistic bastard right now.

And as the thought of the psychotic illusionist passed through his mind, green eyes slide a short ways down the hall where Hibari Kyouya himself stood, back to the wall. The violent teen looked as tense as Gokudera felt and the white knocked grip he held on his tonfa warned all that could see them that he wouldn't hesitate to attack the next thing that walked within 5 feet of him, be it man, woman, or invalid.

His slate blue eyes glared darkly at the hospital personnel and the lingering police officers as they had personally offended him.

And in a way, maybe they had.

They allowed a student of Namimori Middle School – his middle school – to be harmed badly enough to take him out of school and land him in that very hospital. In Hibari's world, that landed them on his hit list, and you did not want to be on that boy's hit list.

The way he had yet to even put away his tonfa after his initial violent greeting was proof of that festering irritation.

At the same time, Gokudera would be the first one to be thankful that Ryohei had insisted that Kyoko and Haru not come with them just yet. With his nerves already shot and the nicotine that usually flooded his system running dangerously low, the half Italian didn't think he could handle two hysterical girls on top of what they were already dealing with.

Speaking of hysterical, the sounds of snotty hiccups and sniffles drew the silverette's eyes to the seats adjacent to their boss's room, almost directly across from Yamamoto and Ryohei. Nana sat with Lambo and I-pin on either side of her, holding both children to her protectively as she blankly stared at the wall waiting for her husband to arrive.

The sight of Sawada Nana without her usual smile made the teen's stomach flip uncomfortably. For once, the woman was totally blank faced and silent, cheeks dull and brown eyes rimmed a red that rivaled his storm flames. Every detail about her contrasted the woman's normal visage to the point that Gokudera had to wonder if this was even the same woman he was staring at.

The woman had been just as emotionless when he's found her dragging both herself and the two children beside her to the front door of her home, blood stains scattered amongst her usually pristine clothing and crusted beneath the clean nails he's seen the last time he saw her. That same monotone expression had shattered like a porcelain plate the second he'd demanded to know where her son had gone, and the hysterical mess she became had been unable to utter even a single coherent word.

Not long after that was when his sister had called. And if he'd thought things where terrible before, it had all become a nightmare from there.

Now, the peppy woman's face was back to that emotionless slab, a veil of defeat locking her smile away and making her look every bit of her age for once. One hand absently ran through I-pin's hair, the Chinese child's braid having fallen out long ago, before Gokudera had even gotten to the Sawada household. The girl sniffled and shook, the impressive control and maturity that her master had taught her long gone and the snotty mess left behind reminded the teen that she was indeed just a 5 year old girl.

It was odd how he was only noticing these things now, yet at the same time it didn't entirely surprise him. He supposed it was some sort of defense mechanism his brain was trying to do; distract him from his anxiety with an over stimulation of the surrounding details. He'd laugh at the silliness of it, if he could only forget that his best friend was the entire reason for everyone being so out of sorts like this.

Yet at the same time, it was the other side of Nana, where Lambo sat, that rose the green eyed teen's apprehension to new levels. The bright eyed cow-child sat limp and silent next to the woman that had acted like his mother from his first day in Japan, and everything about him made Gokudera want to blow something up. The boy just sat there, stock still, completely mute, and not even sniffling.

While Gokudera would've once thanked the Gods for such a thing, the actual sight was so unnatural that he'd give anything for the little boy to just stand up and scream until his lungs gave out. He'd give anything for a distraction right now, and he meant anything.

And it didn't take his genius mind to tell him that everyone else present prayed for about the same thing.

From what he understood, Lambo had been the one to actually find Tsuna, and it made the Storm Guardian gnaw at his cigarette with renewed vigor.

Lambo was utterly traumatized.

The lack of color on the usually tanned child was eerie enough; how horrifying had his Jyuudaime been?

The knowledge that Sawada Tsunayoshi was in bad enough condition to reduce every one of the people in that hallway into the state they were currently in shook him enough to where Gokudera Hayato wasn't sure he wanted to know.

He glanced at his cell phone again.


"Rgh!" he growled in frustration, throwing the phone down the hall and not caring where it landed. Two bomb-weathered hands shoved through his unruly mane as he turned on his heel and began banging his forehead on the wall restlessly. He wasn't doing it hard enough to truly hurt himself, but even if he was, he doubted his brain would be able to process the sensation of pain through the jumbled mess it was in, and the feeling of several pairs of eyes on him became the straw that broke the camel's back.

Pushing off of the wall slowly, the teen plucked the soggy cigarette from his own mouth and flicked it toward the nearest trash can. He didn't give a damn if it actually made it in or not, he didn't give a damn about anything. Green eyes zeroed in on Bianchi, his older sister standing guard outside the unmarked room of one Sawada Tsunayoshi, the incapacitated Tenth Boss of Vongola.

The pinked haired woman watched her younger brother like a hawk through her orange goggles and she could almost see the last speck of patience leave the boy as he started toward her. A part of her mentally begged Reborn to hurry the hell up and get back down here, but the assassin in her reminded her that she'd faced scarier situations than this. Stand up straight, she recalled as she did just that, crossing her arms firmly over her chest and allowing her stance to take on the same intimidating aura as any other immovable force.

But somewhere in the back of her mind, her subconscious reminded her that immovable forces had never really been something that deterred her brother.

Why would they, when all they meant to Hurricane Bomb Hayato was just another thing to blow up?

"Move," the silverette ordered in a surprisingly calm voice as he stepped up to his sister, but it was his eyes that told her of his voice's deception. There wasn't a single shred of reasoning left in the boy, and Bianchi pursed her lips in a mixture of hesitance and guilt before she shook her head.

"Sit down, Hayato."

The teen bristled at his given name and stepped closer to his half sibling, glaring harder than he ever had in his life. "No, you sit down – I'm not fucking waiting anymore."

"I'm sorry, but I can't let you in."

"I don't fucking care what you can and can't do! I can't do this anymore!"

"Gokudera," Yamamoto called, hand coming to grip the shorter boys shoulder, but anyone listening to him could tell he was only half trying to calm the other boy down.

"Oh, fuck you, baseball idiot; who the hell do you think you are acting like you're any better than me right now!"

"Hayato, please, Reborn said-!"

"I don't care what Reborn said – Fuck Reborn!"

"Gokudera!" "Octopus-head!"

"Well, fuck you, too," a childish voice rang out down the hall and it was like all eyes turned at the same time the voice seemingly echoed out of no where. Bianchi sighed out loud in undisguised relief at the sight of Reborn walking toward them, Fon and Colonello a step behind.

"Thank god…"

"It seems everyone is rather lively today. Perhaps we shouldn't have let them stew for so long," Fon frowned before bringing his linked hands up and bowing his head at the distraught group. "Please forgive us, but we were trying to make sense of this ourselves."

"Master!" I-pin called, jumping free of Nana to get to her teacher's side. The Storm Arcobaleno patted the girl's head, before urging her slightly behind him.

Gokudera looked unimpressed at the three cursed infants and didn't bother trying to hide his scoff.

"Yeah, well, you can take your apologies and shove 'em, cuz I don't want to hear them. I said it before and I'll say it again: I'm done waiting."

The click of Leon's safety being switched off sounded behind the teen just as he stepped toward the door once more and he stopped himself, glancing slowly over his shoulder to meet the cool coal gaze of the baby pointing a gun at him.

"Are you sure about that?" Reborn inquired, as calm and unbothered as he always appeared. "It looked to me like you were just about to sit down."

Cool and collected as he attempted to be, Fon and Colonello knew differently. Reborn was desperately grappling for the control that had been swept out from under him like a rug, determined to hide his lack there of from any and all that didn't have to know.

And if Gokudera didn't watch were he stepped, he was likely to step on a landmine.

"Is that so?"

And the end result wouldn't be pretty.

"Reborn, it would be wise to calm yourself," Fon warned as he patted his comrade's shoulder, praying for the other male to listen to him just this once if never again.

"Out of my way, Herbivores – if you won't move, I will."

"Now, now, everybody just take a deep breath-!"

"Yamamoto, if you don't get your hand off me, I swear to god I'll break it."

"Gyyyah! I'm extremely about to lose it, right now!"

And if the rising volume weren't enough, the emotion only escalated from there.

Maybe it was all of the testosterone in that narrow white hallway that really started it. They were mostly boys, after all, and teenagers to boot. Fighting was just one of the few ways they really had to express themselves. But soon the three present Arcobaleno were audibly cursing as that arguing turned into shoving, and that shoving into punching, until the four teenaged males in the hallway were all-out beating each other.

"God dammit, kora!" Colonello hissed as he made a beeline for his bird, forced to hover toward the ceiling to escape the emotional boys.

"This has gotten out of hand too quickly, Reborn, we must calm them down before they end up disturbing Tsunayoshi."

"No shit," the Italian growled as he aimed Leon toward the ceiling and prepared to shoot.

But just as his little finger was about to squeeze the trigger, a blur of pale pink fluttered inches in front of his face and the infants jumped as four loud slaps silenced the hallway. Gokudera, Yamamoto, Ryohei and Hibari stood completely still, a red mark in the form of a slender hand forming on each boy's cheek.

"You will stop this this instant!" Nana cried, raising her voice for what seemed like the first time in her life. "My baby was just beaten and all you four can think of is fighting?"


"No, not now! The yelling will stop now! And if you can't sit quietly, then just… just…" Big brown eyes watered again as that sweet voice they were used to shook, her nerve fading as fast as it appeared. "Then just go home. T-Tsu-kun ne-needs to rest."

Shoulders deflating as her defeat returned, Nana walked back to her seat just as quietly as she had risen from it, watery eyes glued on the wall before her once more as she fought to calm her own inner turmoil. Chrome looked hesitantly at the woman for a few moments before she stood and shuffled across the hall and took the seat beside her that I-Pin had vacated. Nana wasted no time reaching for her hand, trembling smile saying she appreciated the gesture no matter how small.

"Hn," Hibari's grunt of annoyance spoke volumes as he stocked back toward the wall, tense arms crossing back over his chest as he glared at the floor. His tonfa still remained in hand, knuckles white save for a hint of redness to the ring and middle finger knuckles of his left hand – a battle mark from one of the other three Guardians.

Yamamoto settled himself against the wall across from the prefect and Ryohei sighed in aggravation and resigned himself to pacing. They were trying but… doing nothing just never suited them much.

Gokudera sucked his bottom lip into his mouth, scowling when he tasted blood. Lapping at the wound quickly, he scratched at the back of his scalp and cleared his throat, trying to collect his frantic nerves as best he could before speaking again.

"Reborn," he started, staring into nothing as the little Italian frowned at him, Leon still by his side and ready to threaten the boy with. "Please… At least tell us what happened."

Tiny lips pursed and Reborn exhaled heavily through his nose. Yes, he supposed he owed them at least that, as much as it stung to his pride every time he was reminded of Tsuna's current position. Throwing a short glance to the Storm Arcobaleno beside him, Fon nodded once in encouragement as Colonello touched back down beside him, and Rerborn grunted and crossed his little arms over his chest once more.

"It's a long story-!"

"Well, then, it's a good thing we all have so much time, no?" a new hoarse voice chimed from down the hall behind the Arcobaleno and Reborn went still as he watched every head turn to identify the speaker approaching.

But Reborn didn't have to turn to know who it was.

They'd certainly gotten there quickly.

"…Good afternoon, Nono."

"Is it truly?" the old man questioned as he walked, the steady clicking of his cane along with the footsteps of three of his Guardians following at his heels continuing to grow louder until he came to a stop where Reborn estimated was a few feet behind him. "Last time I checked, it typically does not end that way whenever I am called to a hospital concerning famiglia business."

Had it not concerned Tsuna, Reborn might've cracked a smirk at that. One thing he had always enjoyed about Timoteo De Luca was the man's sarcasm in otherwise morbid situations.

Pivoting slowly, the infant wasn't surprised to see the grim expression to match that dry wit, and he was secretly thankful for the man's diplomacy. Not that he wasn't confident in his abilities to defend his current predicament, it eased him a little to know that the Boss would hear him out before labeling his failure the same way he had.

"Nana!" another voice called from further down the hall the Ninth Boss and his Guardians had just come from, and once more all gazes shifted to see a panicked blonde male dart around the corner, eyes wide and exhausted from his hurrying from Italy.

"Iemitsu!" the disheveled brunette called in relief as she rose to greet her husband, throwing her arms around him in what would have been a heart-felt welcome home if the circumstances had been much, much different.

But today wasn't usual by any standards.

"As much as I do so love sweet reunions, I believe we are all in need of more enlightening exchanges," Timoteo interrupted before his blonde adviser could begin interrogating his wife. Usually warm brown eyes turned back to the cursed hitman, and for the first time in a long time, Reborn didn't enjoy having all eyes on him. "Now, about that story…"

Phew! Well, does this make up for my flakiness? Yes, no, maybe? I certainly hope so - you all have been so wonderful, I can only pray I satisfy your minds enough to continue following this.

On one side note (because this is long and I forgot if I had anything else I wanted to make note of), I gave Timoteo a last name. If any of you are familiar with my work on Lunaescence (under a different penname), I used that same one I gave Xanxus, Timoteo, and Berenice in my story 'Say You'll Haunt Me' because I like it, and I think it fits them. Other than that, this was really too long for me to recall any other notes.

Please let me know what you think of it - because reviews will most certainly get a faster update from me this time around~ :)

Thank you for reading~