Title: Between a Kiss and A Lie… Xanxus version

Theme: Scars

Pairing: X96

A.N.: Hey, Guys, I know it's been a loooooooooooooong while and some of you may be pissed at me right but I've really got a LOT going on right now. I want to reply to your review so much it hurts but I can barely post this chapter as it is. So my friends when I get enough time to properly sit down and write this thing without me being threatened to be fired because I was caught writing this at work then I shall return to responding to your reviews. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR REVIEWING THIS FIC; YOU GUYS KEEP ME GOING!

To Indyctator: You must be really angry at me and I can't blame you; I'll explain as soon as I can pull things back together enough to send you a PM. Till then just so you know I really miss chatting with you, dear and I look forward to hearing from you again.

Disclaimer: I own nothing you recognize.

Please Enjoy! ^_^v

Chapter 18

"I WANT THEM DEAD! I WANT THEM ALL DEAD!"

"Senator-"

"DON'T TOUCH ME!"

"Sir, please calm down-"

"I WILL NOT CALM DOWN! HOW DARE THAT DEVIL COME NEAR AND THREATEN ME?! HOW DARE HE?! I WANT THEM DEAD! I WANT ROKUDO MUKURO AND XANXUS DEAD!"

Pasha Isayev is La Justicia Pasada's corps commander and Cornelio Rivas Solano Trinidad's second in command.

He had been following the senator since the formation of La Justicia Pasada three years ago and his motivation— the brutal murder of his pregnant wife who merely had the bad luck of witnessing the cruel disposal of a man's dead body by the local Russian mafia and had the temerity to tell the authorities about it— had been a great motivator. He will never forget the sight of her headless body; her body which was already six months pregnant with their first child which had been found dumped in a shallow grave three months after she disappeared from their home; dragged right in front of him and taken away as he was held down by those criminals, tied in a chair and all he could was cry while she called out his name. It made him ruthless, merciless and determined to end everything that had a connection to the Mafia ever since.

He wasn't the only one, though; every single man in the organization had suffered a tragic past that involved the Mafia one way or the other.

Take Luisito, for example. One of the three armed men guarding the doors of the senator's suite that night.

Luisito father had to borrow money from the mafia in order to get his sick mother treated for tuberculosis. When his father couldn't pay and even had the cheek to try to escape the debt by trying to get his family out of the country, the mafia made him and his father watch as they shot his mother in the head right in front of him.

Their cook, Chuan, lost all the fingers and left leg when he tried to get out of the Triad and turned informer for the police. He was lucky to have escaped with his life at all.

Another good example was Raafat. True, the Iranian terrorists didn't call themselves Mafia but they might as well be. When they decided they wanted his family home in Kermanshah to make drugs in and store their smuggled weapons. When he refused to sell... well it was easier to say that Raafat was alone in the world now and La Justicia Pasada was all he had. Still the things he would scream in his sleep at night made his roommates seek other places to spend the night in. It sounded as though the man had witnessed Hell.

Some of the men in their employ were so old there were that a few of them claimed they have even encountered and had seen the former Varia Boss Tyr execute jobs on the orders of Nono himself. They were the ones who would usually caution them to be careful whenever encountering the dreaded assassination squad and also the ones who wanted to see the group's existence end.

Yes, every one of them knew of the pain of loss.

When Pasha was approached by recruiters intending to form the vigilante group he was more than willing to give up on being a mere electric store owner and throw himself into the rigorous training and planning to take down the Mafia's strongest with a will that could have moved mountains. He had no difficulty securing the position of team leader. When his group was ready and shipped out from the training camps he was then introduced to the man who was said to have had started the entire group and back then, with his wit, charm and own personal history, Trinidad won over the entire group without a problem, including himself. He had never seen the Senator lose control.

Until now.

Cornelio Rivas Solano Trinidad was angry.

No, anger would have been a grand understatement to the wild eyed fury emanating from him as he screamed at the carnage he had wrought over his own property. The moment they walked in from the party last night where the senator was approached by Rokudo Mukuro, the man seemed to have lost his mind. Pasha had trained long enough and gained enough experience during training to recognize fear. If one wanted to kill hitmen, one must also become a hitman, after all. Trinidad was oozing copious amounts of it in disturbing ways.

Cornelio's mouth was frothing; his eyes were rolling and wild and his office was filled with broken things and overturned furniture. The only thing that survived was his heavy cedar desk it would have taken three people to move the antique and even in his frenzied madness the Spanish Senator was unable to vent his anger onto it.

Fury would have been much more appropriate but the fear behind that fury and the shame that went hand in hand with it contribute to the hazy madness of his near golden eyes. His gritted teeth every time he spoke made him look more like devil than saint which was how he looked like in public.

If the public were to look at his countenance now, he would never be able to see another election.

For the first time since joining La Justicia Pasada Pasha wondered if he took the right path to achieve justice for his wife and unborn child. Looking at the senator at that moment, the former shop owner turned vigilante thought

Trinidad looked worse than any other Mafioso they had ever encountered.

"PASHA!"

The second in command snapped to attention; his back straight and cold blue eyes staring straight ahead although it was an effort to keep his face neutral. "Sir!"

"Get me our prisoners!"

Pasha blinked and stared at the senator in confusion. "Sir?"

"You heard me," the Spaniard with a maniacal grin that made Pasha's very skin crawl. "It's time we sent a clear message to those heathens."

Pasha was troubled now. The prisoners they have been given were supposed to be kept out of the public eye and out of the mafia eye as long as possible until every piece of information had been leaked out of them. Also, studying their flames was important for the development of the Dying Will Flame Dowser. Test subjects with flame attributes were hard to come by, after all.

"But, sir is that really alright?" Pasha tried to reason with the senator who seemed to have settled in a deadly calm now that his violent tantrum had been satisfied. "We have our orders to have them stay incarcerated—"

"I CREATED THIS ORGANIZATION! I GET TO DECIDE WHO LIVES OR DIES! NOW GET GOING! AND MAKE SURE SOMEONE SETS UP A CAMERA FOR ME!"

Pasha Isayev is La Justicia Pasada's corps commander and Cornelio Rivas Solano Trinidad's second in command. And during his sojourn as a vigilante, fuelled by his desire to avenge his wife, he had developed a keen sense of perception as to what was to come after a command was given. And he had a feeling this will not end well. But he had his orders and it would behoove him not to obey them. Not if it involved what he had wanted the most.

Justice.

"Yes, sir."

/*****/

Everyone in the Varia had their own quirks inside and outside missions that normal people would have been ashamed of. In fact, each of those quirks got a telling off whenever possible especially from Squalo whose main quirk was to effortlessly shout down an entire town and his tendency to use up an entire bottle of conditioner in a single bath. In Squalo's mind this was justified, of course. It took that much to remove the scent and stain of blood out of his hair.

Levi and Lussuria's quirks were already obvious. In the Varia, necrophilia and obsessive stalking can still be counted as quirky.

In the end, though, these quirks were accepted and merely received a collective eye roll from their fellow officers and total indifference from their Boss. Xanxus was too lazy to care about those kinds of senseless idiosyncrasies. The Varia philosophy on this was that as long as it does not interfere with the missions then it was fine to indulge in as many quirks as one wanted.

Now Belphegor was the King of Quirky around the fortress. The self-proclaimed prince seemed to take pride in all his vices with a complete and total disregard for anyone else's opinion, much to everyone else's annoyance.

One of Belphegor's main quirks was to be as lazy as possible especially when he just came from a mission. The self-declared prince would either fall asleep all day or annoy anyone and everyone in sight until they break or try to put him in the ground which, of course, would lead to a veritable bloodbath. It is also a known quirk of 'Prince Belphegor' to use someone else's personal belongings. It was not as though he did not have what others had but when the blonde got something in his head that needed a certain tool he would merely take the nearest one available instead of going all the way over to his room and using his own things. His favorite being Squalo's computer whenever he did his browsing and social networking since, for some reason, the urge would strike whenever he walked by the silver haired swordsman's empty office. Since the Varia Rain Guardian had much to do and Belphegor tended to get in the way, this had led to a lot of mauling and broken bones in the past. So imagine Squalo's ire when he saw the blonde assassin crouched in front of his laptop in his office using his goddamned internet.

On any other day he would probably just think about threatening to flay the younger man before kicking the chuckling demon out of his chair but after dealing with a wailing Levi for a good hour and a half because he was not allowed to accompany Xanxus on his trip to Venice with Dokuro, Squalo was irritable enough to literally make the threat come true.

"VOOOOIIIIIII!" the silver haired swordsman stormed into his office. "WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING ON MY COMPUTER, TRASHY PRINCE?! I ALREADY TOLD YOU TO USE YOUR OWN GODDAMNED LAPTOP! DIDN'T YOU JUST BUY A FUCKING MAC?!"

"Ushishishi~" Belphegor promptly ignored the screaming Varia Strategy Commander in favour of continuing his typing. "Hush, peasant; the Prince is doing research."

"THEN WHY THE FUCK DON'T YOU USE YOUR OWN COMPUTER INSTEAD OF MINE, DIPSHIT?!" Squalo yelled, a vein popping in his temple, his sword flashing in the air. "I SWEAR IF YOU DELETE A SINGLE FILE ON THAT COMPUTER YOU'RE DONE FOR, DO YOU HEAR ME, SCUMBUCKET?! WHEN I'M DONE WITH YOU YOU'LL BE SHOPPING ONLINE FOR A NEW DICK!"

"You're so noisy, Commander," the Varia Storm Guardian chuckled light heartedly even as he continued with his self-proclaimed mission. "Threatening me like that even though I went through all the trouble to help you out~."

Squalo frowned in confusion then scowled; his curiosity sparking despite himself and he proceeded to get behind Bel to see what he was doing on his desktop. "Voi, just what the hell does that mean?"

"Ushishishi~," Bel threw him a sly grin from over his shoulder. "The Boss wanted you to do something for him, didn't he?"

For a moment, Squalo raised a brow at this question before realization lit his face and he started paying more attention to the screen in front of the blonde almost pushing Belphegor off the chair he was slouching on. "VOI! Are you saying you found something on Dokuro?!"

Bel laughed out loud even though he had to hold on to the edge of the desk to keep his balance, entertained by the wide eyed, eager expression on his Strategy Commander's face. Although his reasons for digging into Chrome Dokuro's past was entirely self-serving it pleased him to be able to rub his brilliance in Squalo's face. "Did you really think I would just disappear that long on a mission to kill some useless piece of filth? The Prince has more important things to interest him than some lowly plebeian."

Yeah, Squalo remembered Dokuro greeting Bel about something like that.

"Shut the hell up and tell me what you found about her, Asshat," the Varia Rain Guardian snapped at the younger man. "Do you know why she was sent away from the Vongola Main headquarters?"

"Sadly no; every time the Prince mentions that to anybody they act like it's news to them and that nobody really cares," Bel shook his head but retained his grin and pushed a button on the computer to show Squalo a page off the CEDEF intranet server he had been hacking into. "But the Prince did find what she's been up to these past few years."

From the computer, the blond 'Prince' pulled up a page with Dokuro's face on it. The picture on her profile showed her from the head down to her waist wearing a charcoal gray three piece suit and a white shirt underneath. Her eye patch was almost hidden under her purple bangs and she wore a solemn, neutral expression on her face. Beside it were her general information and below it were her activities under CEDEF.

Squalo's eyes widened in increments as the words on the page registered in his mind. "Codename: Nakayama Nagi? Wait, isn't that her real name?"

"Nakayama Nagi has been declared officially dead for the past nine years. She's Chrome Dokuro now," Belphegor replied smugly. "The Prince likes her creativity. To use her former name as her codename has an artful touch of irony, don't you think~?"

Belphegor pulled out another page on the computer to show an old article about the famous actress Nakayama Satomi and her second husband announcing her grief for the loss of her daughter in a vicious car accident… and to advertise her latest film back then hinting that the script was based on a mother who had to struggle because of the loss of her child.

Squalo sneered at the picture of the beautiful Japanese woman who had a passing resemblance to Chrome. "Bet it sucked."

"Ironically enough it was one of her biggest hits," Belphegor smirked broadly at the irony. "The woman could act."

Squalo grimaced in distaste at the woman in picture. "Tch, I'll see her in hell in pieces; open the goddamned file already."

With a push and click of a mouse, the blonde Varia Guardian opened up several windows detailing someone's dossier. Or, to be more specific, Nakayama Nagi's dossier.

"Fuck." Was all Squalo could say as his eyes ran through the words steadily appearing on the computer screen. "Wait a minute... This is different from the dossier I gathered from the Vongola servers!"

"Shishishi~ So you noticed," Belphegor ran a finger down the monitor and pushed a pair of keys that pulled up another window; another dossier that had the Vongola coat of arms on it. As Squalo said the contents of Chrome Dokuro's profile in the Vongola intranet site was vastly different from the ones on the CEDEF ones. For one thing, she did not need a codename under Vongola. For the other, the list of her activities here were fairly short and vague. "All she has been assigned to were diplomatic missions for the Vongola. Quite a big difference from the missions she does for CEDEF, si?"

"I'll say," Squalo shook his head in a mix of awe and disbelief. "And of course nobody else knows since CEDEF files come highly encrypted. Mother fucking dog humpers..."

"The Prince has tried to gather intel on her while he was out ~ She gave my great self a set of contacts that the Prince also tried to use to get info about her but personal knowledge on her was scarce. It was as if they either don't realize she was the Mist Guardian or they don't really care. The Prince thinks it is the former rather than the latter. You were right; it was as though she doesn't even exist. Every single file, every single rumor, every single whisper of her existence has only ever contained things from when she was twelve years old until she was thirteen right after Sawada was declared Neo Vongola Primo.

"People must have gotten bored keeping track of her since she's really not that remarkable to begin with after Rokudo Mukuro got his own body back. Can't say the Prince could blame them," Bel shrugged, as though this was a moot point. "However it seemed she has made quite a name for herself while everybody stopped looking. The Prince couldn't stop his interest since things about mi piccola duchessa just don't add up. The contacts she gave my great self when she requested the Prince look for the rat in the Italian government were top of the charts; they could not have just been picked up off whatever. And the way Lal has become her master or how she can so freely use CEDEF's assets without needing permission from Iemitsu… Sure she doesn't really need the clearance since Sawada officially recognized her as his Mist Guardian but don't you think it's odd that they seem so familiar with her?"

"…That's true." The shark grudgingly agreed.

"And the Prince would never pass up showing off how much better he is than you, Commander~."

"VOI! SHUT THE HELL UP, SHITHOLE!"

But Squalo thought about the younger man's words. Bel had a point. CEDEF— despite its ties with the Vongola— was a private organization that was free to keep its own secrets. As such, though they respond to Vongola's needs, they can choose to keep the Vongola Boss and main family ignorant if they think the information they had could be spared and will not endanger the Famiglia or if it was a personal matter within CEDEF they did not want the main Family to interfere in. If they thought about Chrome as an asset to their operation— even if it was just for a short while— then they would guard her time with them jealously. All files and records would be nigh on untouchable if they so wished. No wonder it was so damned hard to get information about her; they were looking in all the wrong places.

A link on the page he was scrolling down on caught Squalo's eye. "She worked with the Poison Scorpion too?"

"Seems like it! Oh, she's getting more and more interesting than the Prince has originally bargained for," Bel bounced on the seat at the link as well, too excited about his discoveries to keep still. "Seems she's also worked with Draghi Lancia, Foundation, Shamal, Shimon and even the Kokuyo from time to time; the list goes on… But it seems like most of the time she's on her own or with Lal Mirch. She's even worked on infiltration to spy on other Famiglia. And all this on top of the missions coming from the main Family. This is quite a record."

"Fuck." Squalo straightened and shook his head, lost in thought, his brow furrowed. What the fuck was Sawada thinking letting her loose like this and keep her away then? Was he out of his mind? With her track record she could be on someone's hit list that easily. "How the fuck is no one worried she's out here? And why were they letting her run around neglected like this? Someone with a track record like Dokuro's should have a place where she could be cloistered and secured at least until she's needed again. Sawada is not the type of idiot who would just leave her alone and unprotected especially when she is so useful! We all know how he is about females in the Famiglia! Hell, he's even protective about Lal Mirch! What the fuck is going on back there?!"

"I thought there was something strange about her from the beginning and this confirms it~," Bel shrugged before jumping out of the chair and spinning on his heel then stretching like a cat under the sun, cackling maniacally at the theories now running through his head. "CEDEF tries to protect her by keeping a tight lid on her dossier but their firewall and security level was no match for the Prince."

"How long did this take you to crack, exactly?"

The grin ripped through Belphegor's face even wider at the question telling Squalo immediately that he had just irritated the self-proclaimed Prince. "About an hour."

And for someone who had Belphegor's I.Q. that was saying something indeed.

Squalo sat down in front of the computer, ignoring Belphegor's little speech about his accomplishments and greatness— all a cover of course in an odd attempt to save face— and continued reading all he could about Chrome Dokuro like a thirsty man given a chance to drink his fill of cold water. He supposed he couldn't really blame Bel for being as curious as he was about the female Mist Guardian, Lord knew all of them were. It was surprising that the apathetic prince actually cared enough to lift a finger to seek more information about their current female resident, though. It spoke volumes of the influence Dokuro had on the troublesome blonde.

As the Varia second in command read through the pilfered information he arrived at the same conclusion he knew Bel had already arrived at. Chrome Dokuro was a dangerous person underneath all the vulnerable looks. Her lack of muscle and violent tendencies did not make her less of a hitman. In fact, her unassuming looks and presence allowed her to do her job flawlessly even before she officially assumed the role of Mist Guardian. If what he was reading was correct then CEDEF has groomed her into a perfect 'bullet' who will support the Vongola Decimo in every way he needed to be supported. Like the Varia only the Varia was groomed by the Vongola Boss.

So why were people taking pains to keep her away from the person they had groomed her to protect? What was he missing here?

He was about to click a link to view the rest of her dossier when something shocking caught his eye. It was so small and so unexpected that Squalo almost missed it.

It was the mark of a Black Star beside her profile picture.

Dokuro committed a crime against the Famiglia.

Squalo clicked on to the black star mark, his heart beating a mile a minute in his anticipation...

A small box asking for a password was the reply he received.

"Hey, Bel, pull this record up for me, will 'ya?" Squalo demanded, his voice commanding and brooked no disobedience.

The blonde Storm Guardian stopped his monologue about his greatness and turned to the shark, raised a brow at the tone but curiosity prevented him from talking back. And when he saw the link Squalo wanted he got to work immediately. They both knew of that link all too well. It was a mark that was only reserved for family members who have committed betrayals against the Vongola or their allied Famiglia. Both of them knew it all too well since the same mark could be found on their own files also kept under CEDEF's records because of the Crib Incident.

Both Varia officers raised their brows when, half an hour later, they finally pulled up a file that hinted at Chrome Dokuro's crime record. They were met by only two words.

File Deleted.

/*****/

"We'll be arriving in less than ten minutes, Boss."

Chrome opened her eyes, disturbed by the pilot's announcement and was met by the beautiful Venetian sky. She didn't even realize she was dreaming until her longing heart conjured his voice calling out her name. Her now open eyes observed the beautiful sea that would have made Kyoko and Haru squeal in excitement but she saw nothing but the emptiness, the hollowness of her own heart.

It didn't matter; nothing mattered.

All Chrome could see— all she could think about was that kind, kind smile. All she could hear were those kind, kind words. All she could feel was that voice passing over her skin and she had to force herself still to keep her shivering from being vsible from anyone else… The feelings the memories invoked were so strong that it was all she could do to keep the tears from falling.

Her heart ached.

The memories hurt too much.

She should stop remembering or she would forever be trapped by her own sorrow. These feelings would make her weak because it would make her lose control of her own perception. As an illusionist such a thing would be synonymous to death. Chrome Dokuro did not want to die. Especially when she had so much to live for. So she kept a tight lid on the pain in her heart.

Forcing her eyes open she saw that Venice was already in sight and every minute she spent waiting to arrive in the supposedly majestic city filled her with a growing restlessness that she thought would drive her mad.

She did not see that city as a place of romance or beauty or a hub of culture like what the tourist catalogues advertised. She didn't care if it was one of the top places that honeymooners liked to visit after they get married to get away from family and friends and just enjoy each other. All she knew was that in this city was the threat to all that kindness, all that warmth and the source of all her joy.

That city right now sheltered Paolo Dela Torre.

The thundering sound of the helicopter engine was a mere hum in her ear; anything and everything around her was a blur since it left the Varia fortress. She was filled with an all-consuming fear and anger at the thought of how close that man was to HIM. So close that he would be able to put a knife between HIS shoulder blades. So near that he could touch HIS skin and corrupt the Sky she held so dear.

Chrome blinked back the tears trying to peek out of her lids furiously and held tightly to the viola case where she now stored her trident nowadays whenever she was out on a mission. It was barely noticeable but if one bothered to touch her at that moment they would be able to feel the fine trembling beneath her skin.

She will not allow it.

She refused to even think about it.

NO ONE will harm him. Not until she still had breath in her body.

Just the thought of HIM hurting or dead made an invisible fist clench over her heart and squeeze it tight until she didn't think she could breathe anymore. It hurt too much to breathe and she almost wished she could stop...

It reminded her of those times when she lost her internal organs. When she was standing on the edge of life and death…

"We're here, Boss."

The female Mist Guardian started at the pilot's much louder announcement and the haze of her worry cleared to allow her to finally see where she was.

Chrome could count the number of times he had ever bothered visiting the Venice chapter of the Vongola on one hand and still have three more available fingers left. Not that she had never been to Venice before, she just came here to meet with Lal; this was also the place where her old teacher and her were ambushed not too long ago but she merely contacted the Vongola base in this city for the sole purpose of notifying she was coming and making sure none of them got in her way. Besides she had never had cause to use any of their main resources and the Famiglia that manages the Venice headquarters mostly handle commercial matters anyway. Her missions required the utmost secrecy and she needed the anonymity to keep her missions successful. As far as she knew she had never been offered any assistance from their end either even though they knew she was in the city. It never really mattered since she was used to working alone by now.

The Vongola base in Venice took on the form of a large private island sitting off the main cluster that made up the city itself giving it enough privacy from the general populace and enough access to the main city itself that travelling would not be inconvenient for the staff to supply the island with its basic needs. On it, behind tall, warm, white and sienna colored walls was the palatial mansion that housed the managers of the estate and the various businesses of the Vongola in this part of Italy.

All around the island, surrounding those walls was a thick dense forest probably riddled with the best security money had to offer. The docks on the front of the island had speedboats and yachts littered around them and she would bet her trident that there were hidden ones in man-made alcoves resting at the back of the island as well.

Hayato once mentioned no one was really sure how the Vongola Quinto managed to acquire this piece of land from the Italian government but since his time the place had been Vongola territory.

As the helicopter drew closer she noticed that the top of the mansion at the center of the island was already crawling with men in black suits; some even wearing a pair of tinted glasses. She knew just what they are with a look; she had been in the Family long enough to tell one from the common civilian or copycat.

Mafia.

The female Mist Guardian looked up again to inform the sleeping Varia Boss slumped across from her that they have arrived.

He had his eyes closed and his arms crossed over his chest since the ride began. It was as if he had no care in the world and knew she didn't have to tell him where they were. If she were with anyone else Chrome would think that she was being ignored but this was Xanxus, after all and she envied him his calm. She wanted to leave him alone and be on her way and she felt a little bit of resentment that he insisted on coming with her. Quickly on the heels of that thought was shame. Xanxus must feel obligated to watch over her because of Reborn's warning. The Arcobaleno's wrath was legendary and something even Mukuro-sama and the Boss feared. It was not to be taken lightly.

No one has said anything to her and no one seems to have noticed so Chrome thought she had managed to act properly after she found out that the Boss was going to be meeting with a suspected spy or assassin so she maintained her neutral façade… but inside she could barely contain herself. If anything happened to him…

No, she shook her head, tightening her resolve and crushing the anxiety in her heart.

She was a Guardian no matter what anyone said; her duty was to protect him. She would give all for him. Like Hayato once said everything and everyone must come second to the Vongola Decimo.

As soon as the chopper landed Xanxus and her were met by the long line of men she had seen assembling earlier, each sporting hardened expressions that could have competed and belonged to the Varia's elite special squad itself. It was obvious in the way they projected themselves that they held the Varia Boss in high regard.

Said Varia Boss opened his eyes and wine colored eyes of boredom peered at the assembled men even as the chopper completed its descent.

If Chrome wasn't so worried and antsy she would have smiled a little. For all the build up about Xanxus being a complicated man she was surprised at how easy he was to read most of the time. She had been around the Varia Boss so closely during her recovery that she could now catch the alertness behind the bored expression on his face. How his eyes darted around for the slightest hint of a threat or the whisper thread visibility of a lie. Either way he was not a man who would be easily taken by surprise. May God have mercy on the man who dares to even try such a feat.

"Welcome, Boss Xanxus!" a rather large man who looked like he might have once been welcome in a pro wrestling ring stepped out of the head of the line to meet the scarred Italian don with utmost and solemn respect. "We of the Venice Branch are so happy to finally have you visit us again; it has been too long! Do you remember me? I am Gennaro Sulis, boss of the Sulis family and we manage the operations here in Venice. Please make yourself at home."

Xanxus did not speak, just stepped out of the chopper, still showing off his disinterest as he took a cursory glance at the adoring and awed faces of the men around him; blithely taking was due to him by right of strength and Mafia law. It was just as well. If they care about Xanxus this much then she would have no problem leaving him in their care for a bit while she did what she came here to do.

Chrome set her face in a neutral expression that made her look vulnerable and was starting to prepare to follow him but was stopped in the middle of getting off the chopper by a dark, roughly calloused hand blocking her way; it was palm up in a gesture of an offering. She was even more surprised when she looked up and found that the hand belonged to Xanxus.

Chrome blinked for a moment, not completely understanding what he wanted for a second before comprehension hit her like a brick to the head.

The Xanxus of the Vongola elite assassination squad Varia was offering her assistance like a gentleman.

Chrome squinted up at the sky for a moment. She wanted to see if the sky was about to fall down. Somewhere, somehow she was pretty sure there were pigs flying. She was sure Hayato-san would love to take pictures of that. It would go well with his theory that those animals were brought to earth by an ancient alien civilization to provide the human race with sustenance and the Vongola Storm Guardian probably wouldn't be surprised if they knew how to fly either.

"What the fuck are you waiting for, woman?" Xanxus growled at her, irritated. It was then that Chrome realized that she had started daydreaming because of her incredulity of the situation. "Take my goddamned hand already."

The female Mist Guardian blinked one more time, hesitating. Was this a trick or just a display of power? What game was he playing with these people that he needed her participation? He should know by now that she preferred to be overlooked by others.

Deciding she would take part in the role he wanted of her she beat back her insecurities with a stick of courage before reaching out to place her much smaller, softer hand in his rougher one. She couldn't help but marvel at how such a large hand seemed to engulf hers completely. It was a hand that could grasp the world. Wrap it in his hands and crush it like a paper cup. His warmth felt like some sort of delicious fire; it was all she could do to keep herself from pulling back for fear of being consumed by his wild heat and shivering from the sensations his skin was sending her senses. Her heart beat a little faster as well. She wondered at that. Surely it was not fear; she did not fear Xanxus. Perhaps it was anxiety? Nervousness? Uncertainty? Funny she had thought she had already outgrown such behavior. She blushed in confusion at the thought.

As soon as she was off the chopper and balanced on her feet she pulled her hand back from his. She felt his displeasure which confused her but she pretended not to see. He didn't say anymore though and just turned on his heel to walk away.

Gennaro gave her a cursory glance, his cold eyes lingering on the ring on her finger that declared who she was and followed the Varia Boss, pointedly ignoring her from that point on.

Chrome sighed in relief before following behind, grateful that she did not incur his wrath. She could not let Xanxus see how bothered she was by just his touch; he would be angry. He was hard enough to manage when he was displeased.

Gennaro started rushing after the scarred Italian even as the Varia Boss walked towards the stairs that would take him and the rest of them to the suites down below and inside the mansion. Chrome followed after them like a faithful wraith. She could feel several curious glances being thrown her way; they were probably mystified that Xanxus was with anything female. It didn't seem like they knew her at all and if they did, they were doing a great job trying to ignore her existence.

"Captain Levi A Than called us earlier to tell us you were coming," Gennaro babbled excitedly as they continued to walk, oblivious to the Varia Boss' silence. "I had the liberty of preparing the best suite in the mansion for you, Boss!"

"Hn." Was all Xanxus' response to the information.

Chrome was actually amused. Trust Levi to never take Xanxus' comfort for granted. She remembered the last time they spoke and couldn't help but feel a little fondness for the man. He may be an overeager assassin over-obsessed with his Boss but his feelings were genuine. She wished Xanxus allowed him to come so she wouldn't have had to worry about Xanxus' safety. But when the whining and the wailing from the Varia Lightning Guardian wouldn't stop, the Varia Boss shot the older man so close to his scalp his afro almost burned off. The poor man was going to have to cut his hair if he wanted it to look even again but somehow she doubted Levi will do that. The man wore the bruises he got from Xanxus like they were medals. She supposed they were to an extent. Not many could claim they took an attack from Xanxus and came out of it alive.

Her mind went to the last conversation they had and she smiled a little at it. Of all the members of the Varia she could probably relate to Levi the most. To a degree that was quite frightening really. Over zealous and messed up he was but he was one who would never betray Xanxus.

"We're here!" Gennaro eagerly opened a pair of white double doors with golden lining and presented an exquisite room located on the mansion's fourth floor.

Chrome gave it a cursory look as she followed them inside but it was clear the place was designed for comfort and luxury to the fullest. The kind elite magazines published and could only be afforded by royalty, the ridiculously rich or exceptionally powerful. The kind of room that was presented to so and so movie star or so and so Prince or Princess of so and so country.

The carpets were lush, the couches even more so, the drapes were softer than any towel she had even used all themed in champagne and white with a little touch of the darkest of reds on the sides. The fireplace was decorated with warm, sienna tinted stone and was ready to be lit at any time to warm the room. She glimpsed only one bedroom off the right side of the sitting area where the tour began and the bed inside was big enough to fit three of Xanxus in it.

The female Mist Guardian allowed her flames to discreetly crawl around the room to search for any listening bugs and was pleased to find none. Of course that did not satisfy her. Her master was none other than Lal Mirch of the Trinisette. Depending on one's flame was foolish. So she paced around the room discreetly, her steps muffled by the thick carpet even as Xanxus took his seat on the large champagne and white colored chair close to the fireplace, ignoring the adoring babbling from Gennaro as he cooed over Xanxus, determined to please him while the Varia Boss pretended not to notice the coddling.

"Boss, why don't you have a glass of brandy; we were saving this until you came to visit."

"Hn."

Taking his reply as assent, the large man poured the golden liquid in the glass beside a bucket of ice already starting to fill with water. Chrome made a point to observe that covertly; it wouldn't do to have Xanxus poisoned. Her experience with missions accompanied by Bianchi had told her a lot about poison and how they can be administered in various different ways. The indigo haired woman was relieved when Gennaro did not attempt to poison the Varia Boss.

She was in the process of inspecting the tall windows that led out to the balcony where there was a great view of the Bridge of Sighs; she stopped when she saw it. From where they were the view was a bit limited but she was sure the view of the city at night would have been breathtaking.

Shaking off her admiration, she looked up and her training again took over. She noticed that, although they were inside a veritable fortress there was still one problem. All of the rooms here had accessible windows. Windows that were far too wide for her comfort. She guessed Venetian opulence had a price.

"If there is anything else that you want, Boss, anything at all, just say it and I will make it a priority." Gennaro kept going even as he backed away to the door still ignored by a closed eyed Xanxus.

Chrome followed, oblivious of the half open wine red eyes watching her every move.

"Excuse me, Signore Gennaro," she began in perfect Italian as she stood just a little inside of the double door's threshold. All the men waiting outside and the Sulis Boss himself stopped to look back at her. "Can I ask you a few questions?"

The respectful and reverent attitude the man had presented Xanxus earlier fell way when he met her gaze, scowling in a way that would have made grown men prefer to be far, far away from the mountain of a man. But Chrome Dokuro shared thoughts and memories with Rokudo Mukuro and had been in the Vongola since the moment of her rebirth from the solitude of her old life. Such men did not scare her. She had long since learned that there were things that were far more fearful than scarred, scary faces.

"If you're looking for your own sleeping arrangements I can have one of the maids take you to the servants' lounge." He told her in an icy, gruff voice.

Whatever respect or love he had for Xanxus, it was obvious he was not feeling it for her. Chrome had long known you can't always get your way especially with the kind of personality she had so she allowed this to pass. Like most of the Decimo's Famiglia, she was not one to pull rank. Besides this many members of the Famiglia disapproved of her as Mist Guardian, preferring the blinding power of Rokudo Mukuro to her meek persona. She never complained.

"Thank you," her voice was still soft, cultured and calm as she nodded her thanks. "But that was not what I was going to ask you."

"Well then, get on with it; I'm a busy man, what do you want?" he asked her impatiently.

Chrome ignored his tone. Of course she did not matter, she was only the Mist; Xanxus was a Sky. Everything revolved around him just like everything revolved around her own Boss. "I just wanted to know if the glasses of all the windows of this suite are bulletproof. I just wanted to be sure that Xanxus-sama will be safe here."

Instead of getting her answer, she was met with a puce faced Gennaro who had immediately taken offense at her question. "Are you saying that we cannot protect the Boss?"

Chrome was taken aback by the fierceness of the offense he had taken but she immediately collected herself to explain. "No, of course not. It's just that Xanxus-sama is being threatened by someone lately if you have read the reports you will be able to confirm that. I only want to help him—"

"Listen here, bambina," Gennaro growled at her, hovering over her much smaller form like a mountain over a molehill. "I don't care if you're wearing the ring that was supposed to be on Boss Mammon's finger; we here at the Venice Branch are loyal only to the Varia! Boss Xanxus should have been the one to sit on the Vongola throne and not your weak little Sawada Tsunayoshi! Flashing the Mist ring will not give you any authority over m—"

A gunshot from inside the room behind them resounded in the hall and for a moment, Chrome felt her heart stop. Without thinking twice she raced away from the large Mafioso before he or any of his subordinates could even blink to run into the luxury suite they had left Xanxus in, her trident solidifying from mid-air in a haze of indigo mist even as she moved. The female Mist Guardian was surprised to find the Varia Boss sitting casually where he originally was, an ordinary, newly fired Beretta in his hand. The gun was aimed at the closest window which now sported a goodly sized burn mark but the bullet did not go through it and the glass stayed intact. Silence occupied the room as she and Gennaro's men began to gape at the burn mark on the window in disbelief and surprise.

Xanxus' low, menacing voice pulled her out of her daze. "There was a fly."

The female Mist Guardian turned to the dark skinned Italian quickly and the sight of his quiet glare made something inside her calm down. It was ironic, unexpected even; she didn't know when it started and it disturbed her on some level that the same gaze that had terrorized millions of people like Trinidad and his followers served to give her reassurance at this moment. Nevertheless the sight of Xanxus being there made her feel so much better that she smiled slightly at him...

It didn't even matter that he merely narrowed his eyes back at her in response as though daring her to say something. Silly. Like she would ever dare.

"I'm so sorry, Boss!" Gennaro was practically on his hands and knees in apology even as the other mafioso around them started falling all over themselves to search for the insect that dared disturb the Varia Boss. "I will make sure whoever let that blasphemous insect in is punished!"

He will be safe here, Chrome decided as she watched the scene with fondness. As long as Gennaro and his subordinates regarded Xanxus as such they would not let the Varia Boss be harmed. They will act as his shields if necessary. She could trust him with them.

A slight, faint beep caught her ear and her gaze caught the green light that blinked once on her watch. Chrome's brows rose and she pushed a button on the metal bracelet that hung the watch around her wrist to see a holographic green screen appear above the watch's face showing her a message.

The content made her heart stop and her blood run so cold she almost fainted.

Sky in Grand Canal. Stormy weather after dark. Wind blowing south to southwest. Permission to initiate contact before weather gets bad is granted.

- Smokin' Bomb

As though it triggered a switch in her head all thought, all warmth, all sensation rushed out of her brain and body when the meaning of the message hit her like a bucket of ice cold water to her face. Everything around her— Xanxus, the Sulis Famiglia, even the villa itself- everything stopped existing for Chrome Dokuro. Everything faded into black and white, dark and bright as her mind automatically decoded the message in her mind. Were she as she was when she was thirteen her knees would have given out from under her in her despair.

He was here… the Sky was coming here! Hayato failed to keep him away and if he was right then the Boss and Dela Torre will meet seven to seven thirty tonight!

There was no question about her obedience to the order to intercept. She was used to never questioning orders. For her, the words from the tenth generation Storm Guardian was the trigger that would release the bullet that will set things into motion.

And that bullet was her.

In an instant everything around her stopped existing. Chrome's body moved on auto pilot; forming into a cloud of indigo Mist. She rushed through the villa and onto the docks of the island in that intangible form, finding herself a speedboat with the key left in the ignition and not caring if anybody else saw her take it. The stroke of luck was not necessary, though; she would have been able to start the engine by fiddling with the mechanism. Being around Spanner allowed her to pick up a few tricks along the way especially with Lal around pointing out which kinds of things were handy to learn about.

The salty spray of the sea brushed her clothes and her skin with increasing coldness but it was as though her senses have become deaf, dumb and blind to anything but the cold in her heart and the ice in her veins. Even her gaze was frozen; lacking the warmth and the softness she had become known for by members of her own Famiglia. Instead of the soft purple of bruised violets her eyes turned the color of stony amethysts. Unforgiving and cold. Exchanging all ability to love and care for cruel brutality and chilling inhumanity.

This was the face Chrome Dokuro put on for the sake of her Famiglia. Pushing aside her humanity and wrapping her heart and veins in a wall of ice to keep herself from feeling. To keep herself from stepping away. All for the sake of everything she wanted to protect.

She parked the speedboat on a vacant dock once she reached the main canals of Venice, floating in unassuming peace amongst other boats of every kind making it nigh on unnoticeable. Her viola case still clutched in her hand her legs brought her over to a Vongola safe house she had used when in the area before; a haven where members of the Famiglia who are in need of them can use if the villa cannot be reached. A little bit of her power was used to make sure no one ever noticed her as she passed by even though her eye patch should have garnered a look or two from the crowd she was mingling with.

She strode over to a small alley a few blocks away from the Grand Canal and walked on until she reached a small, narrow, two storey house sandwiched among the other occupied houses lining the block. Like all the other houses of the residential area the house she was aiming for was worn out and unassuming. The burnt orange paint peeling off and bits of plaster falling off the walls.

Small children were playing off on the doorstep of one of the houses Chrome was passing and a pair of old men played chess nearby. A handful of housewives scuttled around doing the laundry, coming and going to market or cleaning house but no one paid her any mind. The female Mist Guardian entered through the back door and so they saw no stranger carrying a viola case entering the presumably abandoned house.

As soon as she entered, she was met with the same peeling paint and crumbling plaster that greeted her outside the house. It was empty except for the stairs and the fuse box stuck against the wall in front of her.

Walking over to a deceptively old looking fuse box that had seven switches of all colors of the rainbow on it located at the foot of the stairs that would lead to the old building's second floor, Chrome turned on all the fuses except the second to the last one. The one with the color of Indigo. At that she felt the old house come to life underneath her, the hum of an unseen generator clear in her sensitive ears. She then proceeded to climb the stairs to the second floor where she was met by another empty floor. The only thing it had was a lone bed, an unused fireplace… and a usb outlet stared conspicuously back at her. Finding her target she knelt beside the outlet, pulled a thin piece of cable from a little button of her watch's bracelet that produced a usb cable and inserted it into the outlet. Turning the connection on she was satisfied when the face of her watch flashed a solid green and the holographic screen from earlier appeared again.

"Computer, log on CEDEF intranet. Activate voice recognition." Chrome commanded softly. "User name code: Nakayama Nagi. Password: Truth of the Lie."

The familiar holographic green screen spread up in front of her automatically spreading wider until it was twelve inches wide; following her command showing her the welcome page of CEDEF's Intranet website. Instantly logging on to her email exclusively accessible only on this site she saw an email from Basil. The female Mist Guardian allowed herself to feel a moment of relief that she didn't have to talk to the CEDEF deputy director for the moment. She didn't mind sharing intel with CEDEF at all; she owed CEDEF for taking her under their wing for so long and molding her into the person she was right now but Sawada Iemitsu's organization was known for beinga little paranoid when it came to the Decimo's safety. If they found out about the potential threat presented by a member of the Italian government they would most likely send out agents in full force and blow the issue out of proportion.

Besides if they find out they would surely report it to the Vongola. And since CEDEF only reported directly to the Vongola Decimo...

Chrome gritted her teeth and swallowed hard. The Boss can't find out she was here. Reborn already told her he must not know and Hayato had agreed. There was no going back now.

Honed by years of practice, Chrome tightened her resolution and went back to work, shelving her emotions and encasing herself in her cold bubble. She scanned through the information Basil emailed her. She read it over a few more times so she was sure she had the senator's itinerary memorized before shutting off the terminal and gathering her things. She put everything the way they were before and left the house, her mind already on her first stop and deciding on how to intercept her target.

As soon as she was out on the open street again the purple haired woman checked her watch again.

15:27.

The target would still be in his hotel room. The Hotel Violino d'Oro. It was either that or he must be idling somewhere else in town. She set her watch to vibrate every five minutes so she would not forget the time. She needed to do what is to be done in half an hour.

The ice in her eyes never melted as she started down the stairs of the dilapidated house.

As soon as she was outside the Vongola Mist ring practically exploded with electric indigo colored flames at the slightest prompt from its mistress and the rapidly darkening sky which hid her from the eyes of bystanders below what with her flames blending with the twilight. If one with experience with flames were to look she would have appeared to be an indigo shooting star slicing across the city of Venice. Chrome merely reformed back into a solid body when she found the roof of Hotel Lisbona which was built right across Hotel Violino d'Oro where the senator was staying. Staying low and in shadow among the Italian style building's roof tiles she assessed the other hotel with a practiced eye to locate her target. Armed with CEDEF information it was easy. She had a good view of one of the hotel's VIP suites.

Sharp, merciless amethyst eyes easily found the target lounging in his suite, seemingly posing in front of a mirror and situated in just the right way that he was standing sideways in front of the window. A pudgy looking man with thinning hair and a rather vain taste in gold jewelry.

Chrome crouched like a black jaguar, glossy fur glinting indigo in the sunlight, her trident poised like a spear in her hand. A thin sheet of Mist flames rising from her ring to cover the entirety of the roof she was on making her invisible and soundless even in broad daylight. Satisfied that her attack would be soundless and untraceable she concentrated the majority of her flames into her trident, melding the wispy fires of her power into the metal.

One shot; one Mist induced lightning bolt duplicated by her Cloud flames and it would be over. The man would be dead.

He would be safe.

He will live…

Her flames were charging up in order to strike; expanding and thickening to the point where it was almost a corporeal object. All she needed to do now was to throw and impale the illusory weapon into the man's heart. She had done it before. It would leave no scars, no wounds, no blood. It would be written off as a heart attack or a fatal aneurysm only the victim's face would be frozen in a silent scream of terror. Either way it was the quickest way to kill a person without having to go through all the trouble to cover up the deed. She didn't use it too often, though since she needed to keep her anonymity. As Lal-shishou taught her once any currency used too often loses its value. Unless she needed a clean, quick kill this Mist Spear was kept under lock and key.

Suddenly Chrome felt another presence near her. The icy wall she had surrounded herself with had detected an angry fire she immediately reacted to by instinct.

Immediately she rolled backwards several feet away from where she originally was and crouched defensively, her trident hiding the accumulated flames but alert in her hand, at the ready to attack the owner of the raging Flame that approached. Her still blank eyes lifted up and stared at this new threat and met with garnet eyes burning red against Venice's blue sky.

"Dokuro." The barely repressed furious growl vibrated in the very air she was breathing. The killing intent and the flames he was leaking out was so astounding that it even held the birds at nearby St. Mark's Square immobile, some of them even dropping dead at the phenomena that was the Varia Boss. Standing before her and looking down at her form in rage was a very angry looking Xanxus. "What the fuck do you think you're doing?"

On any other day she would have cowered. On any other ordinary day she would have meekly lowered her head and passively subjected herself to whatever punishment the dark skinned Italian sought fit to wound her with. Anyone would have cowered at the sight of a displeased Xanxus. Even his own officers treaded lightly around him when he got like this…

But today Chrome Dokuro merely straightened her stance and icy cold amethyst eyes stared straight at burning pyrope pupils fearlessly. Like an alabaster queen looking down at an interloping peasant. This was the Hitman form of Chrome Dokuro.

"What are you doing here?" she merely asked; her voice quiet and emotionless, confident and cold. And calm. Always calm.

This made Xanxus' eyes widen in surprise. Clearly he was not expecting such a response. Chrome didn't note such a reaction. Caring about the perception of others at this point of a mission meant nothing to her.

Xanxus seems to have acknowledged this as well, finally recognizing the expression on her face, before scowling and glaring at her again. "What am I doing here? What the hell do you think I'm doing here?!"

"You need to go back to the villa," she replied her gaze still unmoving. "You are in the way."

Xanxus stared at her incredulously. "What the fuck did you just say?!"

Chrome stretched out and aimed her trident at the speechless Mafia Boss, ready to shoot him with the Mist flame charged spear. "I don't want to hurt you. Please get out of the way."

"Dokuro, have you gone out of your damned mind?"

"Get. Out. Of. The. Way."

"WOMAN!" Xanxus shot at her feet with his X-Gun forcing her to jump back and go on the defensive. "Are you challenging me?!"

Chrome knew, from being with Xanxus long enough and examining his habits that no one other than her own Boss and Byakuran and possibly Hibari-san were ever given a serious fight by the Varia Boss. He was far too confident, far too sure of his own prowess to really take anyone other than the obviously powerful a real fight. She also knew that even though she was acknowledged, Xanxus had never really known just what kind of damage she could do. She was the other side of the Mist; the Shield part of Nebbia that protected instead of attacked.

No one ever really counted on her growing sharp edges…

She might admittedly not be as strong as the man but she can use the element of surprise and her Mist to bind him, surely. Although for how long was the true test of faith she needed to get over.

So before the Varia Boss could reach her she dissipated into a cloud of Mist flames and appeared on a roof far from the hotels and the main traffic of people so as not to alert her target. A little bit more flame manipulation and she assured that whatever explosion would happen between them would merely look like an explosion of fireworks from the untrained eye.

Xanxus' eyes widened in fury at the distance she had gained in only a split moment. Taking advantage of his surprised state, Chrome locked Xanxus' limbs with the illusion of Night Blooming Jasmine vines; the flowers looking so real in the way they bloomed and crept around the Italian's body that their scent scattered in the air around them.

"DAMN IT!" he yelled and Chrome was surprised when, with a violent burst of his Flame, he had managed to disperse her illusions as though they were merely wisps of smoke from a passing cigarette. Angrier than she had ever seen him, the man started stalking towards her, his glare practically screaming her death. "Dokuro, I'm going to count to 5. If you don't stop by then I'm going to stop holding back!"

"Go back." she replied, her heart pounding from the adrenaline and the thought of such a strong opponent testing her. It had been such a long time since this has happened. This mix of fear and excitement that she had learned to appreciate while she was training with Hibari back in high school. Still she reminded herself that her main objective as to bind Xanxus and nothing more. This was not a free for all. "You are not supposed to be here."

"1."

Chrome tried to hold him in place once more after the menacing growl. Instead of vines she drew the illusion of chains. Xanxus remained unfazed but the chains held.

"2."

The female Mist Guardian's gaze widened. She didn't know why but somehow, something told her that the chains won't be enough to hold him. She reinforced the chains by enveloping Xanxus' feet with wrecking ball sized weights.

"3."

In a flick of her wrist she added shackles to the mix, binding Xanxus' arms around his body, his X-Guns wrapped in ceramic rendering them useless in battle.

"4."

Swiping her trident in a sweeping motion towards the Varia Boss, the one eyed woman enveloped the Italian in a black hole rimmed with Mist flames; a trick she had eventually remembered from Daemon Spade's brief stay in her mind- transporting the man away a few kilometers from where she was. It was not as powerful as the First Generation Illusionist's and she didn't have the kind off endless stamina that came with being dead for four hundred years but it was enough to buy her just enough time to do what she needed to do.

Peering down at the busy streets below she saw that her illusion held through her battle with Xanxus; people still passed by and went on with their daily business, occassionally admiring the 'fireworks' without knowing that a major battle had almost crushed the building she was standing on down on them. With a mental prompt, Chrome made sure they stayed away and not come near the building. After she was satisfied she began to turn back towards the roof of Hote Lisbona to finish the assassination.

It was time Paolo Dela Torre died.

But before she could even take one step off the roof of the nameless building she was on, her eye widened in shock as she felt something rip through her mental barriers that warned her of her illusion's failure. From directly behind her she felt that violent, angry flame once more. A flame that was made up by the reddish orange flames that now rendered her illusions useless.

"5."

At the sound so close she could feel his breath on her neck, she shivered against her will. And then she felt hands encircling her neck, the heat in them so intense they might as well have been on fire. Any other person would have frozen under the sheer aura of the killer intent coming from the dark haired man and had she not have been trained by a member of the I Prescelti Sette she would have dropped her trident and raised her hands in surrender or fainted...

But she was trained better than that.

Again she dispersed her body into a shapeless blanket of Mist and appeared behind the violent Italian this time. But conjuring the black hole had taxed her and she had drawn on too much of her energy to make sure the battle was covered up from the public in broad daylight so she had to catch her breath. However, Xanxus had other ideas.

With a burst of flame and an outraged yell the Varia Boss propelled himself towards the female Vongola Mist Guardian, his other hand reaching out to take her neck in his hand with seemingly every intention of squeezing it into oblivion. But Chrome's state of mind, the adrenaline rush that he generated in her with his intensity made her turn amethyst hard eyes at the attempt.

Xanxus obviously wasn't counting on her evaporating in thin indigo Mist flames again and disappearing before his eyes before he could even touch her. Thinking she would appear far behind him once more he started to turn but he stopped when he felt the edges of her trident poking against the back of his shoulder before he could even do so.

"Please go back," her cold voice told him again. "I have no time for you right now."

Any other man would have sensibly surrendered and saved themselves the pain and the injury but this was Xanxus. He was feared by a lot of people for a reason.

Chrome's eye narrowed when Xanxus ignored her weapon and turned towards her with an X-Gun drawn out and charged to shoot. The move left the dark skinned Italian with deep holes in his shoulder from the trident that was supposed to keep him still; the wounds making him bleed all around them.

Chrome bit her lip at the sight, the sight of Xanxus' blood shaking her resolve greatly. She had promised herself that she would protect Xanxus. She had promised.

She was breaking her promises again...

Her resolve started to crumble at her feet and that split second hesitation cost her greatly..

Xanxus grabbed the collar of her coat and threw her down back onto the tiled roof, pinning her there with a hand around her neck, finally catching her.

Chrome flinched, pain raced across her back and she saw stars behind her eyelids at the impact. She still had very low pain tolerance but Lal had made sure she would be able to take a hit. Again she tried to escape his grip by turning her body into indigo vapor but his grip on her tightened further and the Flame that ignited and started to charge in his X-Gun was a clear warning that if she dared try to dissipate again he would burn her alive.

"When I fucking tell you to do something," Xanxus growled in her ear as he tightened his hold on her further until she was sure she was going to have new bruises. "You do it, damn you!"

Before she could reply she felt Xanxus' knee digging into her stomach. When she opened her eyes she saw the Varia boss aiming an X-Gun right at her face.

She was about to fight some more; her training had been useful enough that she could get out of these certain situations now. Use her powers and delve into his mind to make him do whatever she wanted would be a start. In fact, she was pretty sure that she could prolong the fight with Xanxus if she really wanted to and at that point her resolve to make sure her Boss was safe was enough for her to want to try... Until she felt several drops of liquid drop on her right cheek and slide down her face like thick, coagulating tears. Only they weren't tears...

They were blood.

Xanxus' blood.

Oh God what had she done...?

Her gaze widened in shock and guilt as the realization hit her like a punch in the gut. "Xanxus-sama..."

His sneer trembled at her angrily and she was close enough to see the grimace behind the feral turn of his lip.

"Woman," he hissed at her through gritted teeth. "How dare you raise a hand against me?!"

Chrome tried to close her eyes against the betrayal she could read deep within the anger in his voice but she couldn't. This was all her fault. So what Levi said was true. Xanxus did have tears despite what everyone says. Only his tears flowed through his voice and his actions. And now he was sad and upset because he thought she left him and fought him because she betrayed him. Because she had forgotten him. So she dealt with it the only way she knew how.

She reached up and let go of his wrists and ignored the hand that was choking her. Instead she reached up and cupped his face in her hands softly and looked up straight into his eyes with all the guilt she had in her before speaking.

"I'm so sorry, Xanxus-sama…"

His lips curled back in a ferocious snarl and Chrome closed her eyes to accept her punishment. A bullet through the head would be a mercy and she hoped he would be kind enough to grant her a quick death.

'Sweet dreams…' she whispered in her mind, feeling a tear fall from the corner of her closed good eye knowing he would hear her regardless no matter where he was. Surely… surely she would be allowed this much. 'Until we meet again…'

However, instead of a quick death, Chrome gasped when she felt herself being yanked up by the collar of her trench coat, forcing her eye open to stare startled into Xanxus' garnet eyes. The female Mist Guardian's gaze widened when she saw that the fierce fury that made his eyes glow red with the fires of hell earlier had mellowed to the glow of slumberous embers. The anger was still there; she could feel it burning into her like red hot brands but it was under control at the moment. A simmer compared to the volcanic eruption from earlier.

"Why?" he spat the word at her through bared gritted teeth, his eyes daring her to look away. "Why are you doing this?!"

Chrome felt her heart pounding in her chest; she felt like Xanxus' emotions were enough to suffocate her in their intensity. Inwardly she smiled sadly, she shouldn't be surprised that the Varia Boss could influence others with just the force of his emotions. Such was the power of a Sky…

"ANSWER ME, GODDAMN YOU!" the dark skinned Italian yelled at her when she didn't respond quickly enough, jerking her violently closer to him in an effort to motivate.

"He needs to die." She finally replied; her voice hardening and no trace of regret coloring her face.

"I KNOW THAT!" Xanxus roared down at her. "What I want to know is why the FUCK are you rushing to do it?!"

"It's my duty." Chrome answered again, no hesitation in her reply, only soft neutrality.

"Your duty," he shook her by the collar so hard that Chrome was disoriented for a moment. "Is to stay by my side! Your duty is to answer to me! ME! DO YOU FUCKING UNDERSTAND?!"

Chrome had to close her eye for a moment; the guilt riding up her heart at the truth of the statement. Reborn had assigned her to the Varia and her duty was to be the Varia's tool for whatever they see fit for her. She was not to question this, she was not to disobey. Xanxus had every right to demand her loyalty; she owed it to him. Already he has shown her the depth of his protection and has made his demands of her clear. She was bound to him until Reborn comes back and takes her away again. To place under another roof and do her duty.

To restart all over again.

But… But…

"It had to be done," she finally replied in a whisper, her eyes sad but unrepentant when she finally opened them again. "He was a threat to the Decimo."

"You mean this is all because of Sawada?" the disbelief was naked in his voice; an emotion she was sure people would pay to hear from the elusive and feared Varia Boss. "You are risking all this… for the brat?!"

Chrome met his incredulity; she would not hide away from this truth. She knew Xanxus hated her Boss with every ounce of passion he had in himself and she couldn't blame him. The loss of the Vongola throne was a hard blow for someone with Xanxus' pride. The fact that it was merely because of his lack of true Vongola blood didn't matter, it merely salvaged what was left of his pride. And that pride was Varia.

She knew but she didn't care. She refused to look away from his hate. "Please, Xanxus-sama… Please, I'm begging you…"

She watched Xanxus' face contort with renewed fury and felt the hand around her neck loosen for a few moments before he seemingly caught himself and the hand tightened around her neck once more, this time choking her as his face sneered down and growled at her like a savage beast. "You have no right to ask for favors, Woman!"

This did not faze the female illusionist. She was past the point of pride; past the point of honor; past the point of the way of the warrior; past the point of no return… Only one thing mattered to her now; and she would rather stop breathing than give it up.

The amethyst in her eye melted into a soft violet until they turned deep and bruised and both her hands softly held the wrist of the hand that Xanxus had wrapped around her neck, pleading to him with every part of her body; with every beat of her heart…

"Just this once…" she continued to beg; her whisper both pleading and fierce. "I will take any form of punishment… I will take any kind of blame so just please… Please. Let me be his Mist Guardian again…"

Xanxus' eyes widened at this as though he had just been stabbed in the gut from behind; his grip tightening around her neck again but Chrome refused to so much as blink despite the pain and the lack of oxygen. She couldn't lose this war. She can't afford to fold underneath all that rage because she was fighting for something more important than her own wellbeing. Something that was bigger than her…

"Is he really that important?" the dark Italian asked, his voice roughly reflecting his displeasure.

All Chrome could do was continue to beg with her eyes as she answered him with every ounce of honesty she had in her. "He is my Sky."

She watched the fury flare in his face once more; like a geyser that was about to burst, and she thought this was the end of her. But he surprised her by throwing him away from himself and onto the tiled roof like something that disgusted him. Chrome didn't dare utter a single squeak but kept her gaze on his face waiting to see what he would do next.

"Fucking hell." he turned away from her and Chrome's gaze widened when he turned the still charged X-gun towards Paolo Dela Torres' hotel window. "Why didn't you just say so?"

Was he... Was he going to blow the entire hotel up...?

"Don't get me wrong, I'm not doing this for Sawada," Xanxus continued on with an unholy smirk on his face even as his flames lit everything around them a vibrant red-orange color. "I'll do this for you just once... And then you'll owe me a favor..."

She stared at the strong back of the dark Italian before her with awe and disbelief.

He really was going to blow that entire building up!

"Mammon isn't the only one who charges with interest. Just remember, Woman," he growled quietly as his finger moved towards the trigger. "You owe me."

"BOSS XANXUS!"

Chrome gasped when she saw Gennaro Sulis and some of his subordinates running down the street and standing in the way between the Varia Boss' guns. Seeing what the Varia Boss was doing, all of them froze in fear like deer in headlights. Before she could think she practically flew to her feet and lightly touched Xanxus' forearm.

The man scowled and retracted his flames from his gun. "Those scum had better have a very good explanation for this or I swear I will fucking roast them where they stand."

Chrome merely nodded. She barely stifled a gasp when Xanxus grabbed her by the waist and jumped down from the roof down to the dark, isolated alley behind the building they were on. A building that, to her surprised, was five floors up. Surprised she had no choice but grab onto the front of his dress shirt and allow herself to be pressed closely to his heat; a blush automatically burning her face as she felt every line of hard muscle from his chest down to his legs and smell that warm, pleasant scent of brandy and oranges mingling with smoke.

Was this what it felt like to fall from grace? she wondered.

But then something distracted her from the unexpected free fall. It was the fact that she had realized her armor of ice had melted all around her. Somewhere along the way he broke her out of the icy prison she had locked herself in when she set out to find Dela Torre. Shattered beyond repair by his passion. And she didn't even realize it until now. No one has ever broken her out of that shell besides her Boss and Hibari-san! She closed her eyes and shivered at the the realization.

She cared about this man. She truly did care whether he lived or died, this was not just an obligation anymore. She cared about him the way she cared about Mukuro-sama, Kyoko-chan, I-pin chan and the rest of her Family. And not just him either... If anything happened to the Varia...

Lal-shishou had always scolded her about letting her emotions get away with her especially during missions. How many times had she been punished and scolded and had to be rescued when she allowed herself to care? How many times had she have to rise above her mistakes when her charges became more than charges and became people she wanted to make connections with.

Chrome wanted to shed tears at her neediness.

She hadn't changed at all. Showing her just the slightest bit of affection could still make her attached. Reborn-san was wrong. She was not at his level yet at all. She was still just Nagi. Shy, good for nothing, soft hearted little Nagi. Who was unfortunate enough to be born with Mist flames instead of Sky or Sun flames so her destiny would always be to walk in the path of shadows; unwelcome and misunderstood by all. Because she cannot keep up with the expectations of everyone had of the Mist because she didn't have the disposition for it...

"Woman," Chrome blinked when she heard Xanxus' voice whisper softly to her as they neared the ground; she could feel his hard chest rumbling against her soft breasts with every word he spoke and heightening her blush. "Don't you dare show weakness in front of these scum. You are fucking Varia. Act like it."

Surprised, Chrome blinked at the rough demand... And then her face broke into a soft, grateful smile as she looked up at Xanxus' still scowling face which was still glaring at the mafioso running towards them some from still some distance away.

Yes, she thought to herself fondly. For all his rough demeanor, his disrespectful attitude, his violence and his malice there was no longer any doubt in her mind. This man was Family...

She felt their feet touch the ground lightly and she donned a neutral expression on her face; the other men approached and so she carefully placed herself behind the Varia Boss. Was it just her or had his arm slid around her waist with heavy reluctance? Oh how silly; of course not. He was probably just wary she would evaporate again and leave them.

"Boss!" Gennaro panted before kneeling before the man on one knee, his subordinates copying his actions, bowing all their heads after giving Chrome a surprisingly dodgy glance. "We were called by CEDEF a few moments ago and their Deputy Chief wants to speak with Signorina Dokuro right away."

"She was busy," Xanxus snarled at the Sulis Boss from the top of his nose. "Didn't you louts tell him that?"

"W-we did but he says it was really important and that she should try to access her messages immediately."

"Che," Xanxus spat at the canal and continued scowling. "Didn't that ass kissing son of a bitch at least tell you what it was all about before rushing your fucking asses over here?"

But Chrome had stopped listening the moment Gennaro had said Basil was looking for her. Pulling out her watch she quickly pulled out the holographic green screen once again and accessed her intranet email with CEDEF. She was met by an email with an attachment. When she pulled the attachment up and saw the video it contained her eyes widened. And turned cold once more.

"Good job," her cold voice, laced in velvet, donning her armor of ice once more as another mission was made clear to her. "Please surround the perimeter of Hotel Violino d'Oro. I don't want anyone getting near the VIP suites for any reason."

The kneeling men blinked at her in surprise, not expecting her to speak at all before Gennaro snarled at her in response. "How dare you, I don't take orders from-"

"Scum," the click of a safety echoed in the alleyway like a death knoll effectively silencing the larger man and staring in wide eyed fear and surprise at the Varia Boss currently eyeing him with a cold, glittering eyes. "Since when did you start buying the balls to question one of my officers?"

The Sulis Famiglia were all struck speechless and for a quick second, Chrome threw Xanxus a wide eye of incredulity herself before she flashed him a smile again and then nodded quietly in gratitude before donning her ice again.

"Plan's changed; our target is Senator Paolo Dela Torre of the Ministry of Infrastructures currently occupying a VIP suite at the Hotel Violino d'Oro," she said as she started forward to get out of the alleyway and into the semi crowded street. "I want him alive."

/*****/

"Ne, Hibari, what are we doing here?"

Takeshi wasn't really surprised when the skylark merely kept on walking as though he hadn't spoken at all. Knowing for a fact that this was merely the usual for the former prefect, the baseball player merely grabbed Shigure Kintoki from the passenger seat of his car and strode after the man, waving cheerfully at Kusakabe who bowed to him respectfully as he passed by from beside Hibari's car with the intention of guarding their vehicles while they did their business inside the building they stopped in front of.

Takeshi caught sight of the skylark walking in through the lobby of the posh, residential looking apartment building before disappearing out of his sight. All the baseball player could do was sigh.

When Takeshi took Hibari's offer to assist him in helping Chrome, the baseball player thought he was going to have to follow the skylark out of the country. He was not expecting a trip to an unassuming street bordering Ikebukuro and Shinjuku. Knowing his fellow Guardian Takeshi was sure Hibari had a very good reason for his actions. He was not the type to waste time. So the younger man followed Hibari and trusted in the former prefect even though the skylark offered him no explanation, reason or excuse. Takeshi knew that wherever it was Hibari was going answers were sure to be found. He might not be active in the Famiglia's operations but he had seen enough of Hibari's activities to understand the way the Cloud Guardian worked.

It did not take long for them to reach the fifth floor of the building and Takeshi had to admit the place looked quite comfortable. The kind of place that housed both well to do residents and small, private businesses who had enough money to live well in a city like Tokyo. Hibari mentioned he was going to meet a contact before they left so it was a safe bet that his contact lived or did business here.

The baseball player steadied his grip on his disguised sword; his smile growing in a sharp, almost predatory way that would have made Squalo proud had the other Rain guardian been watching.

With Hibari, one never knew what to expect, after all. Better safe than sorry.

Takeshi watched the older Guardian stop in front of a non-descript door and push a button for the intercom. A buzz came on briefly before a somewhat high pitched voice answered back.

"Yes~?"

Hibari stayed aloof and unmoving even as he responded in a low growl. "Flea."

There was a lengthy pause and Takeshi wondered if the owner of the voice was already starting to run for their lives. Getting a visit from the infamous skylark almost never ended up good for anyone so it would be the wisest course of action.

But much to Takeshi's surprised amusement, the voice came back on. Only a lot more solemn than before.

"Ah, Hibari-danna, what a surprise; please hold on a moment."

Another bout of silence ensued and a few moments later, the door opened to reveal a lean man with a fur collared bomber jacket wearing a smile so wide and fake it would have rivaled Mukuro's. Hibari passed the man and went inside the apartment as though he owned it. Takeshi noted how the stranger didn't even bat an eyelash at this behavior and even mock bowed the Cloud Guardian in.

"Welcome, Vongola," the stranger greeted rather insolently, spreading the sickeningly sweet grin to Takeshi as well but generally ignoring him. "La mia casa è la tua casa. I see you have brought a new companion for today instead of your right hand man. Nice to meet you, my name is Izaya. Orihara Izaya."

Takeshi nodded and grinned goofily, a hand scratching the back of his neck. "Yamamoto Takeshi."

"Ah~" Takeshi felt himself tense up at the sly recognition in the other man's eyes. "The Vongola Rain Guardian."

Takeshi's eyes sharpened. All these years becoming officially part of the Mafia taught him to be wary of any unknown entity knowing about his or his Family's affiliation. His fingers twitched around Shigure Kintoki still slung over his shoulder even as he maintained his grin, silently reminding himself that the man was a civilian and they needed something from him. Silencing him was not an option at the moment but he was curious as to who the man was and what his relation was to the Vongola.

However Orihara merely continued to eye him speculatively. "How unusual that I would be able to meet you, Rain Guardian-san. I would never have thought you would be on a mission especially now that your team should be preparing for games."

"Flea," Hibari suddenly said effectively catching Izaya's attention and steering his sharp eyes away from Takeshi's increasingly narrowing ones. "I only agreed to make an appointment with you today because you informed me that you had information about certain things I wanted. You are wasting my time and if you delay any further, I will bite you to death."

"Ah yes," the man who called himself Orihara Izaya nodded, seemingly unruffled by the threat coming from both men. He even seemed amused by it for some reason. Takeshi was left alone as the 'Flea' walked towards the Cloud Guardian, making sure he kept at least five steps away. Privately, the baseball player knew the slender stranger would need more distance than that if he wanted to dodge any of Hibari's attacks should the skylark decide to throw a fit. "Mukuro-dono was quite specific when he informed all the underground information channels he has influence over to report any connections that may lead to the possible dangers involving Chrome Dokuro to the Foundation."

It took everything Takeshi had to stop his jaw from falling off his face.

Since when did Hibari and Mukuro start working together?

"Talk." Hibari's cold voice slashed through the Rain Guardian's surprise. "Or be bitten to death."

"My apologies," Izaya bowed his head again a little; mockingly submissive before pocketing his hands inside his bomber jacket and spoke. "I think it would relieve you to know that I have information as to where Chrome-sama is... something that even the infamous Foundation does not know about."

Hibari didn't like the obvious slur to his group's abilities and had his tonfa out in a flash of metal. Takeshi, sensing this before he even saw it, immediately placed himself in front of the irritable Cloud Guardian, effectively saving Izaya from the business end of the skylark's weapons. His sudden burst of speed had the information broker blinking and then forcing out a crooked grin. Takeshi had to wonder at this one's sanity. The man should understand enough that no matter how smart he thought he was taking on two Vongola Guardians at the same time was way out of his league.

"Now, now, Hibari," Takeshi lightly reasoned with the former prefect; his suddenly narrowed ochre colored eyes trained sharply at the slender man even as he casually kept himself in front of the Cloud Guardian. "Let's hear what Orihara-san has to say first… You can always play with him later."

"Ara?" Izaya asked, his smirk not quite hiding his nervousness and dawning realization that he may have bitten off more than he could chew. "The calming Rain encouraging the violence of the wandering Cloud?"

"The Rain can be a weapon of the Cloud when it needs to be." Takeshi returned; his smile quiet. "As long as it is for the sake of the Sky which engulfs."

Izaya's grin promptly dropped off and wariness freely set in on his face. Takeshi watched as the information broker straightened his stance and his hands, so insolently hidden in his pockets before were now visible by his sides. The Rain Guardian smiled in approval.

This would be a lot easier if Izaya-san knew his boundaries because he was not very eager to stain Shigure Kintoki with the blood of someone he just met and barely knew.

Tsuna would be very upset with him.

Takeshi felt Hibari glance at him before reluctantly lowering his tonfa and nodding in approval at his actions; the baseball player wondered whether the skylark brought him along for the sole purpose of acting as a buffer between this Izaya person and imminent death also known as Hibari Kyouya. The thought made him internally sweat drop.

"Foundation already knows she is with Varia," Hibari icily declared, glaring at the man. "Do not dare try to underestimate Foundation."

Izaya blinked, not expecting this before his smirk turned sheepish. "I should have known; my apologies then."

Takeshi was shocked, however and again felt the need to clench his teeth hard to stop his jaw from falling to the floor.

Chrome was hardly the kind of person he would expect to survive in an environment littered with Varia. Living with Squalo alone would make anyone lose their hearing let alone the hearing of the most delicate of the 10th Generation's Guardians.

But then he remembered Squalo's last words to him before he ended that phone call. He promised. Sure it could have been worded better but in Squalo speak it was a promise nonetheless. If Chrome were in any danger from Xanxus then the silver haired swordsman would have contacted him by now. Pride alone would have never allowed Squalo to keep such things from him.

"I know, I was quite surprised when I found out myself but I've confirmed this through a few signatures from some of Varia's documents addressed to clients who are among my contacts," Izaya nodded. "They all had her name on the dotted line as Varia's Special Assignations Representative."

Takeshi screwed up his face at the title. "Varia doesn't have a 'Special Assignations Representative'."

"Apparently they do now," Izaya shrugged, still with the ever present grin. "Officially she's just supposed to be Mammon's stand in it seemed. But for some reason she now has the Varia's trust if they are allowing her so much control over mission assignations. Superbi Squalo is notorious for personally guaranteeing the 100% success rate Varia keeps on ranting about and to have him allow anyone else other than himself access to such a duty is a sure sign of acceptance from the Varia."

Takeshi blinked at that. Chrome must have had to work hard. It would only be reasonable if they needed a stand in for Mammon if the Arcobaleno needed to be out on Arcobaleno business. He was of the understanding that the only reason Mammon would leave Varia was if they had Arcobaleno issues, after all. But then that would mean that Reborn...

The implication made his eyes widen for a bit.

"That explains why no one knows about Varia's true current condition," Hibari nodded to himself; either oblivious or uncaring of Takeshi's silent mental breakdown at the revelations being presented to him. "It is the duty of a Mist Guardian to mask the Famiglia's weaknesses and strengths from others, after all."

"And she does this well," Izaya agreed. "From the rumors I heard the Varia has suffered significant losses after the last attack on their fortress but from the way their activities seem to be flourishing lately instead of slowing down it remains nothing but a rumor hence Vongola's enemies remain uncertain whether or not to attack and I suspect it is all because of their 'Special Assignations Representative'."

"...Continue." Hibari ordered, ignoring the comment, his frown making Takeshi think the skylark had arrived to the same conclusion.

Izaya nodded while Takeshi's eyes reverted over to his direction. "Apparently from what I'm gathering, Chrome-sama is being entrusted with Varia mission assignations since the rumor that their fortress had been attacked by a rather bold enemy."

"Enemy?" this perked the baseball player's interest considerably. "Attack the Varia?"

"You don't know?" the information broker raised a brow at them, a hint of disbelief coloring his voice.

Takeshi found he didn't have the motivation to grin, he did not like the sound of this.

Hibari answered for him. "We have had little to no communication with headquarters regarding Chrome and Varia— as you know have their own information network. If they don't want anyone to know what they are up to then no one will. Are you saying that she is in danger with them?"

"Well," the man's smug smile came back; it became clear to Takeshi that this was the kind of person who got off on the knowledge that he knew things others did not know. It was probably the reason why he chose his current career path. "My sources have confirmed the danger to Chrome-sama but it is not from Varia; she is indeed being subjected to a lot of attention from an intricate circle called La Justicia Pasada."

La Justicia Pasada? Takeshi frowned. What was that?

As though reading his mind, Izaya turned his smirk on him, picked up the television remote control and turned it on. Curious, Takeshi watched and saw a politician on a podium speaking through a microphone. It seemed to be a press conference of some sort; there were reporters everywhere. The man on the screen was speaking in Spanish but the subtitle feature of the flat screen made it possible for the baseball player to make out what the man was talking about.

'Senator Trinidad!' a reporter from below the podium yelled to be heard beyond the applause from the audience at the appearance of the senator. 'Please, sir, tell us how your campaign against the Mafia is going!'

The politician that was called Trinidad smiled benevolently before replying. "I am happy to say that the campaign is proving to be quite fruitful. I am happy to let everyone know that so far my colleagues and I have managed to arrest a few notable mafia groups that have managed to find their way into the country."

The camera switched over to the curtain that opened behind the senator and Takeshi's eyes widened at the sight of beaten up looking men and women with wrists locked up in handcuffs guarded by... policemen? No, these men weren't the police. Experience with the law and mercenaries rather pitted these guards towards the latter rather than the former.

Hibari hissed and if Takeshi wasn't so shocked he would have turned to the Cloud Guardian questioningly.

"Members of the Floris famiglia," Izaya nodded, understanding Hibari's reactions. "I believe you have a standing alliance with them, do you not?"

"They're just a minor family; smaller even than the Bovino," Takeshi found himself saying despite himself. "Tsuna agreed to an alliance with them despite all that because of their standing friendship with the Shimon. They've been mainly acting as agents answering to the Foundation since the Foundation handles most missions overseas, aren't they, Hiba—"

Takeshi stopped when he saw the clear murder written all over the Cloud Guardian's furious, widened eyes.

"It wouldn't matter," Izaya shrugged nonchalantly in reply. "At least not to this man."

As if on cue, the camera zoomed in on Cornelio once again, his sense of triumph plain on his face and a glint in his eyes that the swordsman did not like. It had a darkness to it that was dangerous and not completely natural. Like the look a pitcher from a losing team had when he knew all the saves were full and his throw was the only thing standing in between a win and a crippling loss.

"He may look all nice and pretty for the camera but he's basically insane," Izaya went on as the two Guardians watched Trinidad do a speech about how the Mafia was rotten and needed to be abolished and everything that had anything to do with it should disappear from the face of the earth. "And his sole desire is to end the Mafia. Here, watch this; this was uploaded in private setting on Youtube exactly an hour after this press conference was shot; seems that he sent the link to be exclusively viewed by the Mafia only. The only reason I managed to get it was because I got access to CEDEF's intranet and managed to get the link to it. Because of his connection to the group stalking your Mist Guardian, I thought I should show it to you."

Izaya went over to his laptop already set up on the coffee table nearby, seated beside an odd looking game board that looked like a mix of chess and Chinese checkers and began typing a few things before turning the screen so that the Vongola Guardians could take a good look at what it was showing.

A growing sense of dread filled Takeshi as it showed off a video of the same Floris members kneeling in front of the camera, hands still tied behind their backs; the floor under them covered in plastic. A flag hung behind them featuring unfamiliar symbols of scales and Spanish swords and the words 'Justicia Para Los Agraviados' written across it.

Two men armed with what seemed to be rapid fire M40s stood on each end of the line of men and women kneeling before the camera. In between them was a man lost in shadow but it didn't take Takeshi a lot to figure out just who it was that was in staring back at the camera. He knew it was Senator Trinidad's face.

"Mafia," Trinidad began in a voice that seemed to be the colder counter part of the warm and sophisticated one he used during the press conference and he was speaking right at the camera. Right at them. "I am sure you recognize the people before you at the moment. Associates of yours that dared exist and affiliate themselves to the Mafia. What a joke."

Trinidad held out his arm and a man from off camera came to him; this one also dressed in the fatigues and Kevlar the two armed men on either side of the Floris famiglia members were wearing. All three of them had ski masks on.

"Allow me to introduce Juan," Trinidad continued. "Juan is an orphan; just like most of the members of La Justicia Pasada. When he was ten years old his parents, along with other people who had once lived in Sardinia were not able to give enough pizzo and his father kept on borrowing from the Mafia until they were up to their ears in debt. And what does the Mafia do when he could not pay protection money? Why don't you show them, Juan, since they made you watch then?"

The man called Juan silently stepped forward, took out a Desert Eagle from his back pocket, stuck the barrel into one of the Floris men's heads, unhooked the safety… and pulled the trigger.

BANG!

Takeshi was barely able to hold back the desire to throw up as the dead body of the murdered Floris member fell on the plastic covered floor, his blood and pieces of his brain causing no harm to the room's original wooden flooring because of the covering. Despite the shock of the scene he noted that these men were professionals in the art of murder.

"Mauritio!" one of the two women screamed in agony through her bloody mouth.

'Juan', however, mercilessly repeated the same thing to all the other remaining four members of the caught Floris group. Until there was nothing left… Until there was no one left but the group of sadistically satisfied strangers cheering on the murders.

"An eye for an eye," Trinidad suddenly spoke gaining Takeshi's horrified attention.

"Rest assured that we will re-enact on you every single crime that you have committed against us. Against every single one of us that you Mafia pigs have deprived of family and friends. This is just the beginning. Xanxus and Rokudo Mukuro will have nowhere to run; nowhere to hide. We will be everywhere without you knowing. The hunt is on. I dare you to come at us."

And then the video ended.

Takeshi's face was tinged in green.

That… couldn't have been real… right?

"He has been obsessed about killing Xanxus for a while but then he found out about Chrome Dokuro," Takeshi and Hibari both glanced at the smaller man. "He's been after her ever since."

"What was that about Mukuro?" Takeshi asked, stomach still churning at the gore.

"That is unclear but I heard a rumor that he has been seen around Spain a day before this the press conference."

"Why?" Hibari demanded, his eyes sharper than usual and his aura practically radiated death. Takeshi could practically feel the Cloud Guardian's flames bursting at the seams filling the room with his suffocating killing intent. "Why is he interested in Chrome Dokuro?"

"Chrome-sama is a very beautiful woman," Izaya shrugged, seemingly unaffected by the execution he had just made them watch but Takeshi could see the labored breathing under the jacket. "She could catch the eye of any red blooded man by just flashing a wrist at them."

"No." Takeshi's voice was cold and hard; like sharp rain that fell around the end of autumn before the snows floated down softly to announce winter. Anyone who had known him only as a star baseball player would have been shocked at the change his easy going face had gone through in just a matter of moments. "That man will not touch Chrome."

The Rain Guardian didn't care if he was leaking killing intent all over the place along with Hibari. He didn't care if he can't understand Chrome Dokuro. All he knew was that the man Trinidad was a threat to a friend. A friend that has helped him in his time of need before. He will not let her down.

Izaya stared at him, unnerved for a moment at the sheer amount of power choking him for just being in the same room as these men. He would have left if it weren't for the fact that he had wanted to experience what it felt to stand in the presence of all this power known as the Vongola.

"If you ask me they're just one of many vigilante groups trying to get rid of the Mafia. Although their ideals aren't really so different from others their ties to the Spanish government does set them apart even though that part is not so well known," Izaya kept on his commentary. "What you should be worrying about are the people who are financing La Justicia Pasada… Because even I don't know every single one of them yet."

Hibari turned his head towards the information broker's direction so fast it was a wonder he didn't get himself whiplash. "What did you say?"

Izaya raised his brows at him in mock innocence. "Don't tell me you believe that act is something that could have survived without any support from people outside that faction?"

"Trinidad might be using government money."

"He did and the Vongola's contact in the Spanish government are already waiting for a chance to pounce on him at the slight hint of illegal movement to accuse him of all crimes," Izaya agreed with Hibari. "But as you can see it is not that simple. If any of his accusers brought this up now then they would be forced to reveal their sources and since the link, although he had run it through Youtube was in a setting which only allowed people in possession of the link to view it. Their connections to the Mafia would be revealed and poof! it would be the end of their respective political careers. And I have every reason to believe that once that happens, Trinidad will have no problems acquiring the power to kill every single Mafia member and all their next of kin in his mission to seek 'Justice for the Abused'."

"He wouldn't!"

"Ah but didn't you hear what he said, Rain Guardian-sama?" Izaya blinked up at him in mock innocence. "An eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth. If they are what they say they are then chance are that all those men who make up this private little army were survivors of Mafia violence, their families taken away from them because of the darker side of the Mafia one way or the other. Revenge is the only thing these men live for; revenge is the only thing they feed on."

Takeshi tightened his hand around Shigure Kintoki, fury running through his blood, sharpening his eyes and his smile. This was absolutely unforgiveable.

Thoroughly enjoying the reaction he was getting from the Rain guardian, Izaya continued. "I must admit, whoever is sponsoring them must be very wealthy. It would not be easy to train and arm so many men."

Takeshi's sharp eyes narrowed at the information broker and Izaya felt as though he were being strangled by the gaze. "Wouldn't Trinidad be financing them personally?"

Izaya swallowed hard and tried to regulate his breathing as he answered. "That would have crippled him financially. Besides, he must have had some inside contacts if he managed to catch the Floris and find out where the Varia fortress was."

Takeshi's eyes widened at that. Was Izaya saying they had traitors in their ranks?

The skylark scowled at this thought. "Find out the others involved in this."

A PING! sounded off from the laptop before his words even finished and Izaya hurried over to it to check on the mail notification that popped up on his screen. Takeshi couldn't see what was written on the header but the information broker opened it immediately and started reading it in front of them. And then he grinned.

"Looks like I wouldn't have to," Izaya straightened and looked Hibari in the eye. "CEDEF has ordered all Vongola related connections to stay out of Chrome Dokuro's way unless she allows them."

Takeshi's brow furrowed in confusion but Hibari's eyes cleared in understanding.

"Where is she?" the skylark asked, his earlier calm seemingly returning somewhat.

"In Venice," Izaya supplied, his grin seemingly maniacal. "You should get ready. If her reputation precedes her then Vongola will once again hold a large emergency meeting for all its Guardians."

Hibari frowned in displeasure before throwing down a plastic purple card that had a golden stripe running vertically across it on the coffee table; the crest of the Vongola embossed on the middle made Takeshi realize it was the specialized disposable access card with a pre deposited amount that he had seen was used quite often by the other Guardians on pay offs. The accounts were used were all dummies and untraceable back to the Vongola. He had heard from Hayato once on the rare occasion that he had managed to visit Italy that it was requested by Chrome a few years back to make it easier for the Vongola and its contacts to deny any connections with each other. He thought it was really smart.

"You know the drill," the Cloud Guardian began as he turned away, walking ahead of Takeshi towards the apartment door. "Any information you have in your hands that relates to the Vongola are to be sent to Foundation and destroyed after that. And if any of this leaks out… your life will not be worth living."

Takeshi followed Hibari, pleased at the chalk white complexion they left Izaya in despite the condescending smirk on his face. Silently he followed Hibari down the stairs of the building and when they reached the ground floor, he decided to break the silence.

"So, when do we go Italy?"

Hibari spared him a cold glance, frowning at the intrusion to his thoughts. "What do you mean?"

Takeshi smiled predatory and sharp; trying to keep his killing intent down so as not to excite Hibari's bloodlust any further. "Surely you would want to hunt down whoever it is that is betraying us, Hibari-san?"

"To hunt down prey, one must find out who the prey is." The skylark replied stoically, his strides lithe as ever.

The baseball player blinked at this. "So? Don't you want to find out who they are?"

"That is not necessary at the moment." Hibari huffed, exiting the building.

Takeshi was so surprised at this that he stopped walking and gaped at the skylark. He couldn't believe Hibari just turned down the opportunity to shed some blood. When he realized he was being left behind he practically jogged right after the older man. "Really? Why?"

"Dokuro will have that information at the next meeting." Hibari replied even as he entered the car door Kusakabe had already opened for the steel eyed Foundation Boss.

Takeshi blinked in incredulity and incomprehension as he watched the black car drive away.

Did Hibari just imply that since Chrome was on the job that it was already done…?

/*****/