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CHAPTER SEVEN

000

Summer was well on its way, baking both people, plants and animals as they desperately sought shade and cool liquid, birds and cicadas could be heard through the air, the distant rush of a passing car, the shrieking laughter of children playing in back garden sprinklers. It would have been nicer if she had been able to do the same but she had already agreed to run an errand for her mother, more the fool her as it meant she would be running to the drink store on the other side of Namimori to get the particular kind of rice vinegar her mother liked to use.

Tsuna wiped at her chin with a sigh of distaste, she didn't mind working up a sweat in a fight but when it was just getting from point A to point B it was gross. She had even foregone her usual black clothing and bike shorts in favour of a yellow and white sun dress and straw-hat to shield herself. It was too hot to go running around in trousers and with her dark hair she didn't want to cook her skull.

"Should have brought a drink," she muttered to herself as she picked a small rock from between her sandalled toes.

Glancing over her shoulder at the sound of a bike bell, the dark haired teenager moved to the side to let the woman past, idly thinking that she must have been very safety conscious to wear a helmet in this kind of weather, never mind the leather pants. She must have been sweating like a pig on its way to slaughter.

She didn't expect the woman to stop and pull her helmet off, allowing thick waves of rosette coloured hair to tumble down her back, Tsuna couldn't help but feel a pang of envy at how silky and manageable it looked. She always had to wrestle with hers for about half an hour before it would stop fluffing up like an alarmed house cat. Actually, Tsuna tilted her head a little, the woman had the same eyes as Gokudera. The exact same shade of green, Tsuna remembered because she'd never seen anyone with eyes that colour before in her life – they were very striking. Taking a more careful look, she even had the same eyebrows too, her fingers were a little thicker but the same hands as well, their noses were almost identical too.

The woman smiled, rummaging in the front basket of her bike before idly tossing a can of cola at her. "Here, please have it if you're that desperate," she told the younger girl who caught the drink in her free hand.

"Uh, thank you anesan," Tsuna said, bowing her head slightly. "Um, this may seem – ah!" The other woman had already cycled off before she could finish her question. Tsuna frowned a little, pouting as she wiped a bead of sweat from her face, "How rude, in the middle of a conversation," she murmured before looking at the drink. She wasn't really a fan of cola, it made her mouth feel furry and she ended up wanting to brush her teeth immediately afterwards. And Cola and toothpaste don't mix well at all.

Wait, was that smoke rising from the can?

Alarm chilled her and she promptly flung the can as far as she could behind her and started running, her mind flashing back to the warnings Reborn gave her about the possibility of assassins looking to take her on as the next head of the Vongola Famiglia. Given how Gokudera had tried to kill her at first, there was a chance his sister/mother (though she looked too young to be a mother) could be trying the same thing!

Tying the bag more firmly around her wrist, Tsuna went off-road. She was such a familiar face in the area that no one particularly blinked as she vaulted into their gardens, calling a quick apology before jumping nimbly over their back fence. The children cheered as they watched, some rushing upstairs to watch her progress through the streets and gardens.

Unbeknownst to Tsuna, Bianchi was having a quiet giggle to herself at the sharp senses of her Love's student. She had become impatient and fed up with being left out of the loop and so decided to introduce herself. Of course the look of alarm on the girl's face was so adorably funny she decided against appearing just yet. She could have a lot of fun with the little Lioness cub.

000

Tsuna panted as she dropped into her back garden, wiping away sweat from her chin as she untangled the shopping bag from her wrist. She needed to find Reborn, if anyone would know what was going on, he would. He definitely seemed to be the obsessive compulsive type when it came to knowing everything about what everyone was doing around him.

"Reborn! Are there any – KYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!" Tsuna screamed, her eyes widening as she caught sight of the Arcobaleno. He was absolutely covered with bugs! Not little bugs, or pretty ones like moths or butterflies or dragonflies, but great huge glistening black Stag Beetles – all over his FACE!

It was a little known secret that Sawada Tsunayuki, for all her threatening reputation, hated bugs. Only one person had ever used this against her and no one knew what Hibari Kyouya had done to him afterwards. No one particularly wanted to know either after the boy returned, chalk white, uninjured, got on his knees and formally apologised to Tsuna before attempting to cut his fingers off – much like when a Yakuza failed his leader. Tsuna stopped him, but either way, the boy transferred out of Namimori and to a completely different school somewhere in Okinawa. No one heard from him again.

"GET THOSE THINGS OUT OF THE HOUSE!" she screamed, skidding back against the furthest wall away from the tiny Hitman who watched her reaction with glee hidden behind a mildly amused smirk. He'd finally found an exploitable weakness in the chocolate haired girl, one he wouldn't feel too guilty – as a man – to take advantage of.

"They are my Summer Minions, they collect information for me," he explained to the shivering young girl who seemed to be trying to forcefully become one with the wall behind her with how hard she was pressing herself against it.

"I don't care what they are. Get them out of here or I'll swat you along with 'em."

"With them, I was able to learn that Bianchi approached you," he continued, as if she hadn't spoken.

"Pink haired girl, looks like she could be related to Gokudera, hands out suspicious cans of cola that hiss and smoke at you. Yeah. I met her. She's a hitman, I take it?" Tsuna asked brusquely, eyes still fixed upon the Stag Beetles. Tensing and squeaking only a little as, en masse, they snapped open their armoured backs and flew off in a small cloud of metallic black and angry humming.

The doorbell rang before the Hitman could respond, a female voice calling out, "Italian Pizza Delivery!"

Tsuna frowned, "Pizza? I thought Mum was making Takoyaki tonight," she muttered making her way down the stairs, making a mental note to hang Reborn out of the window by his ears if she ever found bugs in her bed. Actually... that voice was kind of - "You!" Tsuna snarled as she spotted the pink haired woman who attempted to kill her earlier.

"Thanks for wait-Ah!" Bianchi yelped as she dodged backwards, only just missing the kick that would have broken her jaw. Damn! Lionette was fast! She didn't even give her a chance to tease Reborn about turning into a boring old fart, or have her fun threatening the new Decima. Ah well, it had been a while since she'd gotten into a no holds barred fist fight. This could be fun!

Bianchi threw the Pizza box into the younger girl's face. Tsuna swiped it aside, grabbing one edge of it and spinning, throwing it like a Frisbee right back at her all the while following close behind.

Bianchi ducked the pizza box and ended up grunting as Tsuna's knee thrust up into her stomach.

The Poison Scorpion grabbed her leg and threw her further down the path.

Tsuna twisted and skidded to her feet on the gravel, hands reaching up to block the leg that was snapping down towards her exposed neck. She yanked the leg forward and punched the back of the assassin's knee furiously making her scream before she jumped, using her now free leg to try and kick the Middle Schooler in the head.

Tsuna ducked, rolling onto her back and flipping back onto her feet in time to dive to the side and avoid a rather violently purple cupcake with ominous purple mist oozing from it. Oh great, a poison specialist.

A gunshot brought the two fighting girls up short, glancing to the house porch where Reborn had been watching them with a speculative look on his face. "Ciaossu, Bianchi," he greeted coolly.

"Reborn..." the rosette haired woman returned. Green eyes momentarily flickering towards Tsuna before returning to her Beloved. This, more than anything, told him that she was in one of those moods and planned on teasing the ever loving crap out of his newest student. Oh this should be entertaining. "I'm here to bring you back," she declared, pulling off her hat as she began to tear up slightly. "Let's do another job together, amore mio," she crooned, "A peaceful life doesn't suit you. The place you should be is the dark underworld, more dangerous and thrilling and suits you better by far," she told him, tearfully.

Reborn had to refrain from smirking, she was really hamming this up. "I told you, Bianchi. I have a job to raise Tsuna, so I can't."

The baby hitman blinked in surprise as the ground fell away beneath his feet. Tsunayuki picked him up, and then proceeded to plop him into Bianchi's arms. "Thank you very much. Please never return," the brunette told the older woman as she ushered the pair of Italians towards the gate.

Not quite sure of how to react to this situation, Reborn returned to his old fall back from teaching Dino – violence. He leapt out of Bianchi's arms and kicked at the brunette's head, when she lent back to avoid it, he switched tactics and grabbed her ponytail as he went down – dragging her backwards with a pain filled squeak. Sprawling rudely on her back, Tsuna winced as she fumbled with her skirt, yanking his down before anything could be seen all the while ignoring the stinging pain from where her back met the path up to the front door and where Reborn's tiny hand tangled in her hair.

"Don't hand me off like an unwanted sack of garbage," the hitman scolded flatly, giving her hair a tug. She shot a glare at him through her hair.

"Don't pull my hair," she retorted and rolled to the side quickly when he released her and aimed to kick her in the head. At least he didn't have that stupid close minded idea that he shouldn't hit a girl, it was beyond insulting that she was thought of as not worth fighting against due to her gender. They paused when Bianchi sniffled.

"Poor Reborn," she whimpered, "Unless the Decima dies due to an accident or something, Reborn won't be free again. How selfish of her for forcing him to remain at her side. I'll go home, for now. When the Decima is murd- when the Decima is dead, I'll return to you amore mio and bring you back..." she tried off and sniffed again before leaving.

Tsuna stared after her. "Gokudera has some messed up family," she muttered as she got to her feet and brushed herself off. Reborn watched her as she made her way back into the house before he followed, glancing back to where he could see his former girlfriend perched on the roof of the house opposite, giggling her little ass off. He had to admit, the encounter was rather entertaining, more so than the girl's reaction to his Stag beetle army.

"How did you know she's related to Gokudera?" the hitman asked, absently wondering if the Primo's Hyper Intuition had already awakened within the brunette as she put the bottle of rice vinegar away in it's proper place before turning to rummage in the fridge for a carton of chilled juice.

"She has the same eyes," the Disciplinary Committee member admitted as she stripped the straw of it's plastic wrapping, "and nose. They have the same any of speaking Japanese, they trip over the same sounds and use the same dialect. Plus, only he's ever called me Decima," she added stabbing her juice carton and beginning to suck on it. True, that didn't mean they were related, but it didn't take much of a stretch. Both of them knew Reborn with varying degrees of familiarity, they both called her Decima, both had the same facial features and both of them had the same way of speaking Japanese – more than likely because they were taught by the same person.

Reborn hummed thoughtfully, she was more observant than he thought she was. Then again, none of his previous students had been particularly bright. He should probably introduce Dino to the new Duckling.

000

Tsuna hated home Economics. There would always be the inevitable fight in the Diciplinary Committee over who got the last of the rice-balls she made, as the first two would always go to Hibari-senpai and Tetsuya-kun. This time, she was making a lot more than usual. Hibari, Tetsuya, Gokudera and Lambo, and she supposed she should make one for Reborn at least, even if he had been aggravating her more than usual lately.

She ignored her classmates, their comments and their stares as she monopolised one of the rice cookers. They were just going to have to deal with it because she'd brought her own ingredients and even showed up early for once in order to bag the best cooker – anyone who complained was just going to have to explain to Hibari-senpai why he wasn't getting an onigiri today.

She quite emphatically ignored the jealous and quite frankly crude comments the fangirls made within her hearing range. She would have thought by this point they understood that such stupid things like boyfriends didn't interest Tsuna in the slightest. She had more important things to worry about, like the graffiti she had been finding more and more frequently dotted around the school. Senpai was furious.

000

She should have seen this coming, it was exactly the sort of thing the annoying little Hitman would have done. One sentence. After an entire week of dealing with the rosette haired assassin appearing from behind corners, bushes, people and attempting to put her into the hospital/morgue with her poison techniques, all it took was one sentence from Reborn and the woman was sat serving him tea with all the grace and humility of a maiko.

Tsuna got the severe impression that it was planned as the woman offered to teach her. Still, even if she preferred to punch people, the subtle approach of poison and venom wasn't one to be ignored. All knowledge was good knowledge and better she know how it could be used against her than fall prey to it because of ignorant self righteousness.

Though the fact she could practically poison Gokudera with her presence made that idea less appealing as she abandoned the older woman and her tutor in order to rub the delinquent's back as he groaned and tried to get his dizzy-spell under control in the backgarden. He really didn't look well.

She did end up bopping him on the head after he asked her to drive the woman away. Sister or not, deadly poison or not. That was just rude.

"And anyway, I already tried," she added with a sour look. "She's completely smitten with Reborn and I don't think a crow-bar and liberal application of Vaseline will get rid of her at this point." Gokudera looked like he'd been kicked in the groin as Tsuna sighed and scratched the back of her neck, thinking hard. "Give me your address," she finally decided, holding a hand out. "If you can't come here, then I'll just have to go to yours," she decided, waiting expectantly.

The cigarette in Gokudera's lips dropped to the ground as he gaped at the Tenth. Had she really... She was consenting to leave the comfort of her own home and lower herself to spend time in the tiny filthy little hovel he slept in just so he wouldn't be affected by the trauma his sister gave him?

Tsuna frowned a little, was he trembling? She lowered her arm. Uh oh, had she offended him somehow? Italian customs were different from Japanese, different from American and British as well. Perhaps girls weren't allowed to visit their male friends? He did come from the throne of the Catholic Pope and from what she knew Catholicism had some strange ideas about girls and how they should behave towards men.

"DECIMA!" the silver haired teen wailed, throwing his arms around her and hugging tightly. Holy shit, was he crying?

Tsuna panicked as the fifteen year old blubbed against her.

000

Summer vacation never really came for the Disciplinary committee, they were still expected to be in the school and upholding the peace for those students who were taking remedial summer lessons - most of them being delinquents and trouble makers. Still, the uniform dress code was relaxed, meaning that Tsuna wasn't cooking in her uniform as she patrolled the corridors. She was however regretting her decision to wear the simple white sundress and sandals when she was cornered by one Yamamoto Takeshi just outside of their classroom after everyone else had left for the day. She wanted the shield that her armband and her neat little black uniform, bike shorts, ponytail and steel-toe capped boots gave her. She felt uncertain and a little vulnerable in the sundress with the surprisingly tall black haired boy looming over her. She knew he wouldn't hurt her, but, that didn't mean he wouldn't try and she'd already had her expectations of him shattered when he attempted to throw himself off a roof. What else was he capable of? She didn't like feeling vulnerable and the floaty and loose fabric of her clothing wasn't helping her any - it was likely to fly up if she attempted a kick and she wasn't wearing shorts today and it wasn't like she could kick in her sandals either, she would hurt herself more than someone else. And her hair was loose. It would get in the way, in her eyes and her mouth and likely choke her if she accidentally inhaled it and she actually looked like a girl and not like the vehicle of destruction she could be and...

"Uh, Ts-Sawada-chan? Can I, er, talk to you for a second?" he asked nervously, running a hand through his short cropped black hair. Peeking at her with brown eyes that were hopeful and anxious and guilty all at once and reminding her entirely too much of her mother in that split second that any idea of an attack fled.

And she dearly hoped this wasn't a confession. No one had ever confessed to her before – she didn't have the slightest idea of what to do, how to respond, or how to let him down gently. Given how he reacted to failing Baseball, she didn't want to see how he would react to a clumsy, tactless rejection.

Her discomfort and alarm must have shown on her face because Yamamoto was waving his hands rapidly, "I just want to talk! I would never raise a hand against you Sawada-chan! Not after, well, you saved my life and I just... I wanted to say thanks," he admitted awkwardly and Tsuna relaxed, relieved almost as much as she was secretly a little disappointed. She didn't like Yamamoto like that, but no girl likes to feel herself undesirable. But it was to be expected. She was a member of the DC. And guys didn't like it when their girlfriends could put them in hospital.

"As long as you never do something that stupid again, we'll call it even. You took part in the crazy kid's game. Even after he started throwing around explosives," she pointed out as amiably as possible.

He nodded and shuffled a little, looking uncertain. "You jumped off a roof for me, dislocated your arm, said some real painful but important stuff that I needed to hear. Humouring a kid doesn't seem like a good enough repayment," he muttered, peeking at her from under his eyelashes.

She frowned and folded her arms, "It wasn't like I was going to let you die when I could do something," she snapped firmly. Just who did he think she was?

Yamamoto stared at her with those assessing eyes her mother looked at her with every once in a blue moon. "But you were the only one there who did," he stated, as if coming to the realisation himself. A blinding smile crossed his face. The one she remembered from their childhood. The one from before his mother's death. The one that had never crossed his face until now. Tsuna blinked, leaning back, a little shocked. She had forgotten, in her annoyance and hurt, that Yamamoto was actually quite good looking. Enough so that he deserved the fangirls he had. He should smile more often. And not those disgusting fake grins of his. "Call me Takeshi," he suddenly told her.

Tsuna frowned at him in confusion, "Why?" she asked, drawing the word out in suspicion.

"I want to be your friend. And friends call each other by their first names, ne?" He pointed out, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. Perhaps to him it was but for Tsuna, it was news to her.

"We haven't been friends for a long time," she reminded him quietly. Not since before his mother's death. They hadn't been close, but she still remembered hot afternoons when her father was out of the country and the smiling nice man would bring his son and they would play in the sandbox, those same games that she played with her father. Her Barbie Princess and his Mecha Warriors. How he taught her how to climb trees and how they met Kyoko and Ryohei when they told off Mochida for throwing frog-spawn at the other girl. And then Takeshi's mum got sick and he stopped coming to the park. And then when they went to elementary, he had that horrible fake smile on and never seemed to notice when Tsuna was being picked on even when she knew he did.

But then again... "I suppose it would have happened anyway," she muttered, "Boys that age don't have friends who are girls. We've got cooties," she reminisced with a small wry smile that made the look of shame and guilt that painted itself on the tall boy's face slip away in confusion and then embarrassed amusement at his own stupidity. He chuckled, nervously and Tsuna squared up to him properly. Reborn was right. That was in the past. Yamamoto wasn't a bad person. She could see that now. He just hadn't been able to let anyone in since his mum died. No one ever took the time to see past those horrible smiles of his. No one cared enough to do something. And she had been too scared, too useless, too... too... Dame to help him.

"Don't think that we can go back to the way things were," she declared shortly, making his laughter die in his throat almost immediately. "But..." she allowed a small smile to settle on her mouth, "That doesn't mean we can't make something better. Takeshi-kun."

000

Reborn could have burst into song.

Finally, finally, his student had accepted the Baseball Star as one of her Famiglia. It had been an uphill battle from the very beginning due to their unhappy history and to be honest, Reborn had believed the matter a failure when a week after his assessment game yielded absolutely no contact between the two teenagers. Gokudera was proving much better at running interference than even Reborn had anticipated – he would have to keep an eye on him, he was using his intellect in ways that the Acrobaleno hadn't thought him comfortable enough to use and thus hadn't accounted for yet. It should have taken another year for Gokudera to feel secure enough with his place at Tsuna's side to allow that mind of his to be revealed, it had gotten him into difficulties with fast Famiglias he had attempted to integrate into, thus making it a bit of a sour note in his skill set. One he didn't like using due to the possible repercussions.

But either way, Yamamoto Takeshi had managed to get the Lionette's approval. The fact that they had been friends, as their conversation had alluded to, before whatever unhappy incident split them apart made the situation a lot more satisfactory. Yamamoto Takeshi would be just as loyal and dedicated to the young Vongola Heiress's health and wellbeing as Gokudera Hayato.

Now to gather the rest of the Famiglia. Things were falling into place.

000

I just want to thank everyone for their patience over the last two months. They have been very difficult for me in terms of University and in my personal life. Some people may be familiar with these difficulties through my facebook where I endeavour to keep everyone up to date on problems and story progresses. So I would suggest those of you who want to know what's being written, what's being drawn or in the works add me or just keep an eye on the page.

I hope you've been enjoying Sora 8) I have enjoyed writing it, even if I find the Daily Life Arc tedious and a bit boring. Things should hopefully pick up.

Also, question: I have a major hate for Iemitsu. Would anyone be opposed to a Tsuyoshi/Nana pairing? (Yamamoto's Dad and Tsuna's mum) I've grown quite fond of it tbh, even if I've only seen it in one story.