Title: Footsteps of Time
Genre: Family, Friendship, Hurt/Comfort
Warnings: some parts get a little dark and some parts are just plain crack (no idea what I was thinking at that time)
Summary: A few hundred years after his death, Giotto finds himself reincarnated as Sawada Tsunayoshi and discovers second chances as he is reunited with his past Guardians.
Disclaimer: I don't own KHR or its characters.
IMPORTANT A/N: I've changed the genre to Family/Friendship because of this chapter. I'm not sure why, but this chapter fluctuates several times between humorous/cracky and dark/semi-angsty. You can definitely tell that I wrote different parts at different times. I also don't know why the chapters keep getting longer.
"Mom, I don't need a tutor!" Honestly, he had been arguing with his mother over this issue for the past ten minutes, but Nana stayed firm in her decision. How his mother could keep coming up with good reasons to let the smirking baby stay was beyond him. Tsuna, himself, had run out of arguments a good three minutes ago. "I promise to make better grades! I'll study more!"
Nana remained unconvinced. "But, Tsu-kun, Reborn is already here and it'll be terribly rude of us to send him away so soon."
At this point, Tsuna began to somewhat regret faking his No Good reputation.
It wasn't that he hated the thought of having a tutor. In fact, it would probably make his No Good Tsuna act that much more realistic. No, the tutor part didn't bother him.
It was that baby.
There was seriously something off about that kid, something too…dark…too old. Tsuna could see it in those black eyes and the sly expression. Children should not have such an odd air about them.
Like an adult trapped in a child's body.
Tsuna knew what it was like to remember - an adult's height, an adult's voice, an adult's authority – while stuck in a five-year-old body. The sudden rush of a lifetime of memories had the same effect as a sledgehammer on his then five-year-old brain. But more than the horrible migraine from remembering everything, the disconnect between mind and body left him disoriented for days (who am I? Giotto? Tsunayoshi? Which is it?), during which his mother nervously fussed over him. But, those few days were nothing compared to what came afterwards.
His mind remembered how to walk and move with grace – always prepared to slip into a fighting stance – but his body lacked the proper muscle memory. Merely walking across his room became a challenge as he constantly stumbled and tripped over his own feet. Even writing became a difficult chore. For nearly a month, his handwriting was plain illegible as his hands and fingers moved erratically, torn between writing in a childish scrawl and an elegant cursive – developed over years of signing documents.
To him, those first few months had been a personal hell.
It had probably been the same for Kyouya and Yamamoto, too, though he never gathered enough courage to ask them about their time of personal weakness. Some things were best left alone – because no one wanted to remember or speak of being completely helpless after a lifetime of being leaders in their own rights.
And so, Tsuna had no desire to get involved with this Reborn person. Whatever secrets this child brought to Namimori needed to leave, along with that yellow pacifier. He'd seen a similar pacifier in his past life (a clear one, his mind insistently whispered, and Cozarto and deals and his Mist's betrayal), and Tsuna wanted nothing to do with those people again (Vindice and shackling chains and shadows deep in the cruel Mafia underworld).
Nana sighed and shook her head. "Reborn is staying. And, Tsu-kun, you're late."
"Eh?" Tsuna paused his protest to glance at the clock. Eyes widening at the time, the brunet panicked and hastily grabbed his bag. "I'm late! Kyouya's going to kill me!"
This conversation would have to wait for later. He pushed those darker memories back – the past had no place in the present. Avoiding the Disciplinary Committee's punishment took precedence.
His mother cheerfully saw him off before she turned to Reborn and said, "That Tsuna…he's so hopeless." She laughed to herself. "Tsu-kun is a good boy, so take good care of him, Reborn-kun."
The infant, who had been quiet during the contest of will between mother and son – Nana won, naturally – finally spoke. "Don't worry. I'll be sure to raise him into the leader of the new generation."
"Ah, that sounds nice."
Nana never saw Reborn's innocent smile morph into a mischevous smirk.
By the time Namimori Middle School came into view, Tsuna felt as though he just ran a marathon. Almost there! I can make it.
He could see Kyouya leaning against the gate and much like a hawk, the older boy's eyes zeroed in on him.
Okay, the animal metaphor is not helping! Tsuna suppressed a shiver and put on a burst of speed. Just a few more yards and he would be home free.
Tsuna was so intent on reaching the gate that he didn't notice the other boy move, but he definitely felt it when a black shoe made a perfect imprint on his face. He hit the ground inches from the gate.
And of course, the bell just had to choose that moment to ring.
"You're late, herbivore. Detention."
Tsuna could hear the smugness in Kyouya's voice and wondered if running away now would be worth the agonizing pain later. Probably not. Groaning, he rolled over onto his back and stared up at the Disciplinary Chairman. "You kicked me."
The dark-haired boy raised a brow almost mockingly. "And? You're still late."
Knowing there was no arguing with Kyouya, the brunet gave in with a sigh, "What do I have to do? Clean up the gym after school?"
"No." Kyouya gave him an evil smirk. "I have something else in mind. In fact, you'll be excused from your classes today."
Tsuna tensed as his hyper intuition started blaring DANGER! BEWARE! DANGER! "Hey, Kyouya, this isn't what I think it is…right?"
The older boy shrugged and said, "I need an…assistant in the office today."
Throwing caution to the wind, Tsuna tried to make a run for it. He'd take the agonizing pain over what was waiting in the Reception Room any day. Unfortunately before he could get very far, a hand roughly grabbed the back of his collar and began dragging him, kicking and screaming bloody murder, onto school grounds.
"No! Wait, Kyouya, anything but THAT!"
"You're too noisy, herbivore. Stop screaming before I bite you to death."
"Then bite me to death! Just don't make me go into the Reception Room! NOOOO!"
Reborn watched with great amusement as his newest charge stumbled into the bedroom and promptly collapsed into bed without a sound. He'd spent the entire day gathering information about Namimori, so that left him uninformed about his student's day. Well, he'd just ask around tomorrow.
What a pity. Reborn had been planning on telling Tsuna the real reason why he came to Namimori, but by the looks of things, Tsuna probably wouldn't react much to the news. Tormenting someone in a near-comatose state wouldn't be any fun. That would have to wait until tomorrow as well.
Meanwhile, unaware of Reborn's plans for him, Tsuna's head was spinning. He spent the entire day doing Kyouya's paperwork while said boy leisurely took a nap on the couch. Damage reports, repair bills, requests for funding from the Science Department, repair bills, requests for funding clubs, repair bills, damage reports, REPAIR BILLS! What the hell, Kyouya! At least 80 percent of all the damages were caused by you! If you love Namimori Middle so much, then stop destroying it!
Sometime during his inner rant, Tsuna fell into a restless sleep filled with nightmares about stacks of repair bills threatening to fall onto him and crush him under the sheer weight.
"Excuse me, but could you repeat that? I think I heard you wrong."
"You're the Vongola Family's Tenth Generation Boss. The Ninth requested that I come here to train you to become a worthy Mafia Boss."
"…" This was not something Tsuna wanted to hear first thing in the morning. The fact that he was hearing this from that baby only made everything seem even worse. Sure, it was surprising that the Vongola Family lasted so long, but Tsuna did not want to be a Mafia Boss - not even for the Vongola Family. So, he did the only thing he could think of to get out of this.
"Ha ha. Very funny," Tsuna deadpanned. "Not the best joke I've ever heard, but the shock factor is good. Now, if you'll excuse me, Reborn, I'll be going to school now. I'm sorry for the inconvenience, but I don't need your services as a home tutor despite what my mother says, so please leave as soon as possible."
"This isn't a joke, Dame-Tsuna. Take a look at this." Reborn shoved a yellowed piece of paper into the brunet's face. "The Vongola Family's first Boss retired and moved to Japan. He's your great, great, great grandfather. In other words, you inherited the Vongola Blood, thus you are a legitimate candidate to become the Tenth Boss."
Tsuna grabbed the paper and studied it with growing horror. The reality was staring at him straight in the face.
Dropping the paper, Tsuna abruptly stood and made a dash towards the door. "I have to go to school!"
"Hmph. He really is Dame-Tsuna." Reborn smirked and watched from the window as the panicked boy ran down the street. "He forgot his shoes."
The older boy raised a brow at the panicking, shoeless brunet running past a few startled herbivores. "Sawada Tsunayoshi. You have some nerve to raise your voice to me. And to refer to me so familiarly, I'll bite—"
"I JUST FOUND OUT THAT I'M RELATED TO MYSELF!"
The Disciplinary Committee Chairman stopped and slowly processed the odd exclamation. "…What?"
"I'm related to myself! How could I not see it before? I'm in Japan! I look into the mirror every day, yet I couldn't see it until now!" The brunet's eyes suddenly focused on the older boy, as though seeing him for the first time. "Kyouya! What do I do?"
The prefect had never been one to back away from anything, in this life or the one before, but staring into the wild eyes of Sawada Tsunayoshi – who obviously had some sort of traumatic epiphany – he suddenly had the feeling that being on the other side of the school would be to his best interest. There was always some herbivore doing something against school rules behind the gym, and now would be the best time to enforce some discipline. Away from the distressed boy currently spouting nonsense and staring at him with wide, bloodshot eyes.
"Yo! What's going on?"
Seeing an opportunity for escape, Hibari tossed the brunet at the baseball player. "You, deal with this." With that said, he stalked away. Calming down hysterical herbivores was more the Rain's territory, anyway.
After taking the brunet somewhere secluded, the baseball player was at a loss of what to do.
"Uh…" Yamamoto worriedly watched as Tsuna mumbled incoherently to himself. "You alright there, Tsuna? Did something happen?"
"Oh, it's nothing much, Takeshi." Tsuna nervously waved his hand around and continued, "You know, normal things like a little baby, who probably isn't really a baby, showing up and suddenly dropping a bomb on me. Haha I'm fine. Perfectly fine. I mean, you would be too, right, if you suddenly found out that you're related to yourself and that you suddenly inherited the very thing you created."
The brunet stopped and replayed what he said. "Oh, I guess you do know the feeling."
Yamamoto, who had somewhat pieced together the clues, slowly nodded. "I guess so. You shouldn't think too hard about it, though." He grinned good-naturedly. "So, care to explain? You were rambling a lot."
"It seems I'm a legitimate candidate to inherit the Tenth Generation Vongola Family." Tsuna wanted to laugh at the irony. Inheriting something you created. He hadn't really understood back then when Takeshi told him about Shigure Soen Ryu, but now that he was in a similar position…
He leaned back against the wall and slid down until he was sitting. Dropping his head into his hands, he muttered, "I don't want to be a Mafia Boss."
Yamamoto sat down next to him and placed his hands behind his head to stare up at the sky. "Shouldn't there be other candidates?"
"There were but apparently, all of them died horrible, mysterious deaths."
"Huh. Weird. What are you going to do, Tsuna?"
The brunet sighed and raised his head. "I'm going to play dumb. Maybe I'll be able to convince Reborn that I'm not a suitable candidate. I'll have to step up my No Good Tsuna act a notch."
"Haha~ Sounds interesting. It's like a game! Maybe I'll play, too."
Yamamoto silently watched as Tsuna dazedly wandered back towards their classroom. Once the brunet was out of sight and hearing, the baseball player casually leaned back against the wall with his arms crossed and asked quietly, "Did you hear everything, Hibari?"
"Hn." The prefect, who was in a similar position around the corner, intoned dully, "As he is now, the herbivore can't defend himself properly. He can't even call his flames."
"You think other Families might send assassins?"
Hibari frowned slightly at Yamamoto's question. "I will not allow Namimori to be tainted."
The baseball player could only chuckle at the typical response. "Well then, you take care of any unwanted visitors and I'll watch over Tsuna."
They went their separate ways and let their grim expressions melt into their usual masks, one a happy, clueless grin and the other a cold, cruel glare.
The entire fiasco began innocently enough.
After failing to chase Reborn out of his home (again) and having his breakfast stolen on top of that, Tsuna sighed and began trudging to school.
Of course, being the pain in the neck he proudly was, Reborn decided to (innocently) tag along to observe his newest prey in its natural habitat.
Tsuna cursed his luck and wracked his brain for a way to (innocently) show off his No Good traits. Should I trip? Would that look planned? Maybe walk into a wall? Hm? What's that? Oh, it's just a Chihuahua. The brunet stifled another sigh before that last thought caught up with him. A Chihuahua…? Would No Good Tsuna be afraid of a little yapping dog? Well, it's better than nothing.
"Why are you following me?" Tsuna allowed an exasperated expression to form on his face while surreptitiously glancing at the fuzzy tail poking out from under the gate. He felt a little bad for the oblivious dog, but this was his future on the line. "Don't you have anything better to do? You know, baby things?"
"I'm here to be your tutor and turn you into a good Boss for the Family."
After a last quick calculation, he scowled up at the smug baby with a snippy retort ("I don't want to be a Mafia Boss!") as he stomped his foot down in a show of frustrated temper. Right onto the dog's poor tail. Tsuna easily slipped into the No Good Tsuna role and made a right fool of himself – shaking and stumbling and finally falling onto his backside – as the dog snarled and pushed open the gate.
At first, Tsuna was wary that he'd been a little too obvious, but once Reborn began mocking him, he breathed a mental sigh of relief. Then something happened that tossed his effort straight out the window.
Sasagawa Kyoko arrived in all her sparkly glory – though she was the only one who didn't know about the ever-present sparkles.
Then, she saw Reborn – a cute (innocent) baby in an adorable suit, complete with a stylish fedora hat – and her sparkles increased to an almost frightening degree.
Tsuna didn't know whether to smile fondly at Kyoko's love of all cute things – evil, smirking babies included, apparently – or scream in frustration as his brilliant plan burst into a pile of flames, leaving only pathetic ashes in its wake. A bit dramatic perhaps, but Tsuna was annoyed that his superb acting was for nothing.
And, he now felt guilty for stepping on that dog's tail.
Kyoko smiled (innocently) up at him from where she was kneeling to talk to Reborn, and Tsuna knew for sure that his plan was ruined.
On average, he normally tripped over his own feet about fifteen times, tripped over tiny cracks about eight times, ran into walls two times, and stuttered every single time a teacher called on him. All in one day. All of which happened during school hours and within the school campus. Often during gym class.
As far as Kyoko knew, all his No Good traits only appeared in school. If he started tripping all over the place before they even got to Nami Middle, Kyoko would become worried. Then, Tsuna would feel terrible for making her worried. Then, Kurokawa Hana would give him the evil eyes for the rest of the week…which would make Kyoko feel bad for him…which would make Tsuna feel even worse…and so on and so forth in a never-ending cycle of misery.
Tsuna paused in his thoughts. Yeah…definitely too dramatic. Hana's sly enough to glare at me only when Kyoko's not looking.
Still, he didn't want the school idol to worry over nothing.
"Well, I don't want to be late so see you later, little boy. You too, Tsuna-kun."
Huh? She's leaving? She's leaving! Tsuna distractedly smiled and waved back at her, not registering the fact that he should get going as well before a certain prefect shoved more paperwork at him. Should I walk into a wall now?
"Tsuna, you have a crush on that girl, don't you?"
Tsuna mumbled something incoherent before he realized what the baby just asked. What? Crush? On Kyoko? What is he talking about?
There was one thing Tsuna was absolutely sure about, and it was that he did not have romantic feelings for Sasagawa Kyoko. He admired her personality and generally optimistic view of life, but he did not view her in a romantic light – or entertain any thoughts or feelings leaning in that direction. Despite his outward appearance, Tsuna was still a grown man inside and thinking of Kyoko as anything other than a kind friend made him feel like a dirty, old pervert.
While it was true that the school idol reminded him somewhat of his wife – from his former life – any affection he felt towards Kyoko remained strictly platonic.
Really, the only reason Tsuna knew her was because she had been the only one – aside from Kyouya and Takeshi – to treat him kindly. She never called him No Good Tsuna, and she never looked down on him for his dismal grades. Her acceptance gave him a nostalgic feeling.
Long ago after he stepped down as Vongola Primo, he settled down in Japan in a small sleepy village. At that time, though, outsiders were not well liked, and his blond hair, orange eyes and fair skin marked him as not only an outsider but a foreigner as well. The villagers didn't chase him out, but they made sure that he knew he was not welcome in their village.
The only person who didn't treat his features like a stigma was a young woman serving as the village's doctor. She was kind and well-loved in the small community, and she treated him as she treated any one of the other villagers. It was only due to her unconditional acceptance that the close-knit villagers began to trust him and eventually accept him as one of their own. She later agreed to become his wife, and he took a new name – Ieyasu – to symbolize the beginning of a new life as the village celebrated.
Tsuna smiled as the memories washed over him. I miss them.
Reborn, on the other hand, connected all the wrong dots – since he wasn't privy to Tsuna's walk down memory lane. He mentioned a crush on the girl and his new student smiled dreamily. Therefore…
The miniature hit man smirked as Leon changed into the familiar shape of a gun. "I suppose it's time. Die now."
Tsuna came back to the present in time to hear the last two words. "Huh?" He blinked at the green gun. Is that a toy?
"You'll understand if you die."
Reborn pulled the trigger.
Tsuna's world turned a dreamlike red. Blood? Death? I'm dying…and I never thanked Kyoko for her kindness, for just being herself…
Then, something familiar flickered. Bright and orange and warm and so familiar, an old friend finally waking up after a long, long sleep. Tsuna hazily grasped for it to welcome it back, but the waves of warmth pulled away, shuddered and broke free. An intense inferno of resolve and will and I cannot die yet. I will not die yet.
Later, Tsuna returned to himself, half giddy from his uncontrolled flames – slowly ebbing away and returning to sleep to allow the memories to slowly seep in – and half horrified at the frightened expression on Kyoko's face as she turned and fled from her own embarrassment.
Tsuna couldn't care less that other students were laughing at him, pointing and mocking like children were prone to do. All he could focus on was the heavy guilt and gut-wrenching shame because inadvertent as it was, he had just hurt one of his dear friends.
He didn't acknowledge the baby lightly landing and placing a new set of clothes next to him, sharp eyes watching and calculating the odd development.
Tsuna felt numb – disconnected – and he couldn't push away the image of Kyoko's face before she ran. She was about to cry.
He barely noticed the students scattering as Kyouya approached, eyes dark and furious – promising pain for both the disruption of the peace and the fact that someone, some worthless herbivore had dared to strike (emotional or not, it was still an injury, especially for the soft-hearted herbivore) at the only person he had ever acknowledged as a competent leader, and at certain times, his leader.
Absently picking up the new uniform, Tsuna – with eyes shadowed by his unruly hair – stumbled towards the school building, whispering a soft apology as he passed the silently fuming prefect. Tsuna was so lost in thought that he never noticed Kyouya's dark gaze lock challengingly with Reborn's sly one or the somber brown eyes watching everything play out from a second floor window, lingering for a moment to take in the tension between prefect and hit man before turning away to go comfort his friend – he was the Rain, after all, the one who washed away the Sky's sorrow.
A/N: Yay, another author's note. Sorry for ending on a darkish note. Originally, Ryohei was supposed to show up at the end, but it was a little too light-hearted to really fit in. So, Ryohei will officially appear in all his extremeness next chapter.
Giotto's Past: Since we don't know anything about what Primo did after he moved to Japan (except he changed his name and started a family), I made up something I thought was passably believable. What do you think?
And finally about where this fic is going. Once all the important characters show up, I'm going to skip a lot of canon parts. I think I'll skim quickly through the Ring Battles and only touch on the Future arc so that I can get to the Inheritance arc/Simon Family where the Primo Family having their memories will add to the chaos and confusion.