Note(s): I only referenced the names of the places from a map of Italy from Wikipedia, so in case of confusion, Wikipedia will be your best friend. :D

Oh, and I hope the flow of the story is not too stiff; I worry about that a lot since transitions are my weakness. D:

I hope you enjoy reading! :)

Length: 2,545 words


Intermixed sounds filled Dino's enclosed study – lightning but lithe footsteps from a couple of subordinates rushing about outside the door, birds' chattering just outside the spotless glass window. He managed to fight a yawn, pressing the back of his hand slightly against his lightly quivering lips. He casually let the ivory pen slip soundlessly from his grasp as the strong aroma of coffee invaded his nostrils.

He swiveled his leathered seat at an acute angle, tilting his head to the side in sync with the door's opening. He eased up as Romario entered the room in silent strides, a well practiced routine when entering the Don's study. He held a cup of steaming coffee at either hand, gently smiling as an attempt to alleviate his boss' lingering frown. "Boss, here," he said, deftly placing the darkness of the coffee into the barren corner of the Don's desk.

The trip back to Italy had gone on flawlessly with Dino having spent most of the air trip in a silent slumber. Prior to that, Tsuna had sent him off, mumbling apologies for his other guardians' absence who at the time, had been in Namimori Middle School. He grinned sheepishly and said, "Good luck on your trip Dino-san."

Reborn had been been silent for the most part, albeit the apprehension regarding his student's cutting class had not ceased, a lopsided frown lingering on his face. But for formality's sake, he allowed it and restrained himself from pulling any of his routine antics. "Tsuna always finds ways to skip class," he said, smirking at the sudden movement of the tuft of hair beneath him.

"B-but you insisted that I skip class today!"

"Shut it," was the hit man's hoarse reply. He had the zeal of his eyes under the shadows of his fedora, although Dino knew with absolute certainty that Reborn enjoyed the sight of Tsuna fidgeting under his whim. That's what made Reborn the hit man tutor he is now, ruthless and meticulous in his manner.

The tick from his white-gold wristwatch was Dino's cue to bid the two individuals farewell, despite the fact that he would enjoy a few more moments of this serenity, a brief lapse of comfort, if not a phantom on the time to come. He waved at both, a well executed false smile lingering on his lips. He turned on his heels, his feet silently tapping across the polished marble floor of the departure area. The fluid strides lasted for seconds, minutes and during that ample length of time, the vibrant colors had degenerated to blacks, dull colors of grey, the casual chit-chat had dissipated to choked silence, his own smile transfixing into a stubborn line.

Dino blinked once, maybe twice as he tended to the cup of coffee in his hands. His wrists effortlessly moved in a circling motion, the cup's contents clashing subtly against its porcelain-white enclosing. He took a sip, blowing over the rippled surface beforehand. "We must summon our consiglieres at once," he had said bitterly. With a quick, steady breath, he placed the cup onto the oaken desk, eyes traveling towards his lone companion. "Time is of the essence."

Throughout the years of servitude, Romario had learned not to question or pry on his superior's decisions, either because he had no right to or because he wanted to place utmost belief that the path Dino chose would lead to the famiglia's goodwill. The mafia, a dark path as it might seem, is an organization, a brotherhood molded from loyalty further engraved in all its brothers, regardless of stand, be it the capo or even the lowliest.

A turn and the silent clicking from the soles of Romario's shoes against polished slate had been in the stead of a nod, any form of affirmation. Foremost, Romario had dialled a number well-remembered, their closest ally and perhaps the famiglia's most reliable consigliere – Arma, the carrier of the Cavallone's Storm Ring.

An existence born from the union of a mafioso and a legislator, the woman whose name is forever concealed had evolved into a wise and sturdy foundation of the Cavallone. Her steadfast creed and dedication to the famiglia had remained unparalleled, a steady asset to their growing sphere of influence, albeit an impeccable set of dark eyes concealed her surging desires.

Dino had noted previously, Arma wasn't one who basked in luxury. In fact, she had no time to for the marriage of her parents was unspeakable, forbidden, to begin with. She would often have invisible threats slithering across her neck: a knife perhaps born from direct atrocity or a rope stemming from her own desperation. She was from something unholy, prying eyes perpetually over her restricted existence.

She was one who wanted to topple the system – to crush the Cosa Nostra.

"I was attracted by your weakness Bronco but once your flames go beyond extinguishable, expect me to be the first to defect and go against you."

It had been clear as day in Dino's memory, when Arma had, with quite a sinister growl on her face, helped him out of the murky alleyway where he had been dragged to. He had been disarmed, his father's subordinates slain. "Pathetic," Arma spat with disbelief. She pulled on the collar of his dirty brown shirt as he retched violently, spewing a bit of blood here and there.

When Dino came to, Arma's red mane had been the first he saw, it's brightness clashing against that of the sun's. He had been patched up, sufficient enough to plug the profuse bleeding from his many wounds but nonetheless, he needed medical treatment and fast. Chill black eyes hovered over him, hints of mockery also present. "So, this is the power of the Cavallone's next in line? You don't seem very promising.. boy."

The particular hardness in that last syllable rose Dino's brows, if only to attract a more hostile air from the former. "I-I'm no boy! I'm.."

"You're nothing but a brat sitting smug under the shadow of your father," she had said, the arching of her brows contradictory to that of her lip's; it had curled in such a way that made Dino flinch in his seat.

"I didn't want this at all," he muttered, his head slightly lowered.

Her steps had been silent, if not for the groans of aging wooden floorboards. "Everyone is a victim of circumstances Cavallone. You and I both."

The coffee had long become cool, the heat becoming no more than a phantom against his palm. Dino had forced his eyes shut, along with his playful subconscious, in an effort to chase away the unwanted trip down memory lane. He forced himself to smile, in some ways awkward, as he downed the last ounces of coffee.

Across the table where sheets of paper had stacked up high, he spotted that familiar folder. In it, a thorough investigative report had been typed down; some parcels of it left a blank. Earlier as he had asked Bono, it seemed that the report had holes, for the details, no matter how hard they had searched into the whole affair, were covered up quite impeccably, presenting no loops or traces.

Finding five of Rinominare famiglia's men beaten into an almost unidentifiable state under the Cavallone's territory did not bid well, especially if the Cavallone were to propose a truce between both families.

Solid knocks to his door had diverted Dino's attention from the pile of well-despised papers. A few sound seconds later, Ivan strode in, a fresh batch of documents neatly tucked between himself and his hands. Dino greeted him with the same unappealing frown that he did with Romario, only to be replaced by a warmer, although still a tad distant smile.

"Boss," Bono had said it more reverently, albeit the familiarity had been of less. "Signora Arma would be arriving in an hour's time."

Dino raised a brow, almost quizzical. "An hour?"

"The signora had some things that needed taking care of in Oristano*," a slight pause, providing Bono enough time to retrace a previous conversation, ensued before he stiffly added, "and the signora said that she would probably here before day fall."

"What about Romario?"

Bono took the papers from his hands and placed them soundlessly on the Don's desk, suddenly a stubborn downward curve on his lips. "A notice from Vongola Nono, boss. It seemed urgent and Romario is currently sifting through a copy of the document."

"I see. Please send him my thanks. You may leave now."

Dino eyed the sheet of paper mechanically, taking immediate notice on the Vongola Seal, the Nono's Sky Flame ceaselessly burning bright against the dull color of the paper. He had no motivation, and in addition, the attention span to read over the whole document in detail for the issue with the Rinominare famiglia had been left hanging. He opted to skim-reading the whole thing, mindfully picking up important keynotes that he inscribed in a separate sheet.

He surmised, after mere seconds spent on the actual reading, that a new alliance had been born with a foreign family involved. It had been an alliance through a business partnership, stressed by the overlapping circles he previously drew over his writing. A yakuza group under the guise of a pharmaceutical firm wanted to expand market overseas, Europe and the Americas being their primary target.

Hibari Pharmaceutical Group was what had been written in bold text.

Dino couldn't afford himself the time to be amused. Furthermore, another notice coming from the Hibari group would be coming in the following days, giving him another chance to further establish his impression of the said group. The foremost duty he had to his family was to ensure that their pristine reputation to remain untainted. Therefore, if this new alliance proves to be nothing but a degenerative factor for his own family, he would, in the best of his abilities, not meddle in the affairs of the said group, lest he and his family would need to.

"Since Vongola Nono had placed his trust on this family," Dino thought wryly, "perhaps the alliance is for the best."

After pushing the emptied coffee cup into a far corner of his desk, his hands efficiently darted for the many folders on his desk. After a few pen strokes, all that needed signed had been done with. Dino averted his eyes from the thinner bulk of papers that had been attended to and tried tending to the untouched parcels. He almost sighed, but he dared not. Instead, he lazily placed his chin atop his right hand and let his gaze drift away, even for only a minute time.

The workload parallel to him had not decreased and all Dino saw was his patience slowly wilting away. He'd been unproductive, from the time he swiftly lifted his pen off the last sheet he had signed. Finally, he allowed himself a sigh, quite a shallow one, as he pushed himself away from his desk. He stood, the muscles in his back moaning from the lengthy time they had been pressed back against the chair's backseat. He made his way for the door, noting the sky's visible shade of orange and partial purples as he took a last look at his study.

As he trudged slothfully through the scarcely graced corridors, he couldn't help but grimace at the sight of his formerly lax subordinates' heightened pace. One or two of those he came across had tried entertaining him with a smile or a nod, although both had been virtually strained. He waved his hands, a fluid motion, acknowledging that such gestures were not necessary but well-received nonetheless. It had been the certain degree of affection from his subordinates that helped Dino make it through the years of leading a family, albeit it had been the most tedious and loathed task.

His bedroom's space had not eased the tension looming about Dino as he tried for a possibly refreshing change of setting. It served the opposite to his desired outcome; it had instead made the burden heavier, the seclusion adding a heavier air than what was previously had.

He let both his hands support his weight as he bent his head back, allowing his golden locks to make their way down the base of his neck and over his face. He once again tried mulling things over, this time, carefully pinning over every detail he had remembered from the read. He had succeeded, a clear head attained from the momentary peace earlier, until he heard the booming clacking of shoes, specifically a woman's heels, affront his door. If his memory served him right, he was certain that the person behind the shameless stomping was none other than his much-awaited Storm Guardian.

Dino giddily reached for the knob, only to be knocked over when Arma had, with quite brutish force, made the door fly open. With that perpetual air of superiority about her, she said, "You dare let a rat play around your territory?" And with the quick raise of her brows, she had almost completely paled Dino, save the fact that he had been attempting not to resemble the snotty brat he once were.

"It wasn't any of our men. Besides that-"

"I do know that you are no idiot Cavallone." She raised an accusing finger and spat, "nonetheless, letting something like this happen is something I cannot overlook."

"I work clean Arma." Dino's eyes narrowed; questions against his manner of work always got the better of him. "I would never let remnants of my hits surface, especially not in my territory."

"I know that," Arma said stiffly. "Given the fact that we have yet to find any lead toward the perpetrator, he or they must be experienced."

"They?"

"We'll be keeping our options open." Arma turned on her heels, deeming that the conversation be over. "I've been in touch with Bono and have kept up to date with the investigation's progress. I shall go over the documented findings and derive whatever I can. Until then," she paused, eyes hovering over nothing in particular, but still a persistent glare. "Defuse any potential trigger for war. The Rinominare is no small-fry."


To be continued. Reviews are mostly loved.

consigliere - adviser

Cosa Nostra - mafia

Oristano - capital of the province of Oristano on the island of Sardinia, Italy

Announcement: Yay! Finally done with the second chapter! :D I was pretty unproductive this week since I'm trying to make the Basara 2 characters level-up. Also, I'm shipping a new pair (yep, my first video game pairing :D 3) so I'm pretty much distracted. So I'm sorry, updates will probably be slow like Enzio. D: