A/N: Once more it has been FOREVER since I updated. Sorry for the long wait! The end is near. XD
Katekyō Hitman Reborn! does not belong to me
Tuna and the Beast: Another Day
When Xanxus awoke he could only assume somebody had pushed his face into the ground and then proceeded to dance atop his head—forcing him to swallow a mouthful of sand. This was the most reasonable explanation that came to Xanxus's muddled brain. His raging headache and dry throat aside, he felt comfortably warm. The heat was centered near his stomach, where a foreign pressure laid. Minding his pulsing headache, he slowly turned—to his surprise—to a sleeping Tsuna.
The youth had cuddled up against his side and was currently getting cozy with his tail. He lazily yawned, letting his pink tongue roll out. Xanxus supposed that he wasn't entirely that thirsty and curled snout-to-tail around Tsuna. He would later blame a drug induced mind for his rather affectionate, but strangely out of character, actions.
Waking up wasn't quite as painful for the beast the second time around. The warmth from last time had disappeared, leaving his stomach cold. His muscles ached from the hardness of the floor; he could feel the tiny knots of tension embedded into their fibers. Xanxus gingerly picked himself off the floor and arched his back in a stretch with his paws flexing outward. From his peripherals he spotted a bucket of water.
The horned being growled, the brat thought he was some sort of dog didn't he? Scoffing to himself, he was not entirely surprised at Tsuna's assumption with his eyes landed on his own large paws. Sharp eyes closely examined his palms as he opened and closed them. They weren't exactly animal like: his hands possessed a humanistic quality, and it wasn't just because he had opposable thumbs.
For an insane moment the creature questioned if he had ever really been a human, it had been so long since then, what if it was merely a hopeful dream? His old face appeared as an unfamiliar blur in his memories, suspended in the fog by uncertainty. What did it matter anyhow? He barely spared his own image a glance anymore: not since the incident. This was especially true because the moment he saw his own monstrous reflection he had made sure to never have to lay eyes on such a sight ever again. His first instinct was to smash every mirror in the house—the shattering of glass appeasing his fury if only for a brief second. Xanxus had not needed any reminders of his wretched fate.
Tsuna apprehensively knocked before poking his fluffy head through the doorway. The boy was embarrassed about using the beast's tail as a body pillow. He willed his blush down and entered the room with clean rags twisted in his small hands. He wished that Xanxus had remained asleep, making it less awkward to try to clean off the specks of dry blood and other remnants of last night's disaster.
Xanxus regarded him with a stoic expression before he turned away in disinterest. Light footsteps made their way toward the dark furred creature.
As he stepped into the beast's line of sight, the burnet arranged an awkward smile onto his face, and held out the cloth in his hands expectant that the beast would understand the gesture. Xanxus in response simply arched a brow and eyed the rag in question.
Smile faltering—the beast never one to make any mundane task easy—the boy sheepishly rubbed the back of his neck. In a lame attempt to explain he mumbled out, "Ah…you're hurt." To which he was spared a dry look. Tsuna guessed the expression translated somewhere along the lines of, "no shit Sherlock, can you guess whose fault it is?" He cast his own guilt ridden gaze toward the floor.
Xanxus noticed the brat quivering in his boots, and sighed through his snout. "What? " He snapped almost a bit too forcefully.
The burnet had flinched back, but then squared his shoulders. He bowed in a fluid motion—confessing to years of practice—with his forehead crushed into the ground. "I'm sorry!" His eyes squeezed shut tightly when he cried out his apology. Despite his usual cowardice, Tsuna looked straight into the beast's eyes with all the sincerity he could muster.
That's all it took to send the creature's gaze elsewhere. Xanxus chose to study the cracks in the ancient flooring—honey brown bore in to crimson irises, stripping away his energy. He didn't know what to make of this (why was he so god dam tired all of a sudden?) so he reacted the only way a beast like him knew how.
"Shut up," he barked, his lips curled back in a mixture of agitation and disgust, "and stop trying to tell me you're sorry. It's so fucking annoying." The beast was certain he had to stop, but by now the words were snowballing downhill and picking up momentum, "The hell do you think will happen? It doesn't change shit, because—yea—you fucked up."
The heavy silence after the impact: a quiet contemplation over took the pair. Tsuna's small hands were settled in his lap, closed like clam shells and sealed so tight that they shook. Still sitting on his legs, ignoring the tingling sensation pooling at his toes, the boy muttered, "I can still try to make up for it can't I?"
He was wasn't he? His mouth drew into a thin line. He was becoming irritated too, the feeling of little bubbles of heat gurgled in his belly, "ARGH!" Tsuna frustrated gingers over his scalp, a habit he had when frazzled, "You're impossible you know that?! You push me away, and then you come back for me! You tell me to leave again, and when I try to help—to say I'm sorry—you get mad!" After his little rant, hands fell helplessly to his sides. He gazed at the beast once more, and asked tiredly, "What do you want from me?"
The question came as a surprise. What did he want? Xanxus repeated it slowly in his head and turned it inside-out: flipped it sideways even. In all honesty he wanted the boy in front of him to stop muddling his brain, to stop the confusion, to stop looking at him with those eyes. Those damned eyes that promised forever to him, drained his anger that looked with understanding, and attempted to search deep within the monster…eyes that were waiting expectantly or an answer.
The beast grimaced and lifted his paw into the boy's lap. Puzzled, a question formed at the youth's lips, but was interrupted by Xanxus's dramatic sigh. He looked pointedly at the rag. Tsuna's face lit up in comprehension. He brought the bucket of water over, dipped the rag, and wrung it between his small hands.
Starting at the Beast's head, delicate fingers carefully worked the damp rag around his eyes and mouth to remove any remaining drug particulates. Tsuna's face, marred by concentration, had come close to his own. Xanxus was able to trace the boy's soft features with his gaze: small lips naturally uplifted into a fraction of a smile, large doe like eyes squinted slightly in focus, and cheeks barely prepared to shed off baby fat. Tsuna re-dipped and wrung the rag, and rubbed it behind the Beast's ears. Xanxus' lids shut as his mind went hazy, drunk with pleasure.
To his secret dismay, Tsuna stopped. Xanxus peaked around; his noisy servants were filling in, jostling each other as they struggled to push a trolley holding a bucket of heated water. A mild growl of irritation emitted from his throat.
The boy left to retrieve the bucket, taking his warmth with him. The beast was left in the wake of confusion to mull over his strange attachment to Tsuna.
A few clumsy bandage wrappings later, Xanxus was more than willing to roam about.
His loyal mop head remained unusually silent as the beast stalked passed him. The cleaning appliance was sulking, and frankly the monster had used up his patience on Tsuna (drained out all the patience he had on reserve too, months of it even).
"Voii! Shithead master," Squalo hissed with mop hairs bristling, "how could you be so fucking careless?" Not even a twitch at the words, let alone any acknowledgement of his faithful servant or his colorful obscenities.
Tsuna had appeared a few minutes later out in the garden where Xanxus moodily stared at twittering birds. Secretly, honey eyes took a harder look at the beast in fear that he would unhinge his deadly jaws to eat the poor creatures. Cautious hands reached out to touch the monster with the barest hint of pressure, who in return grunted. The boy jumped in his skin, and Xanxus rolled his eyes; the brat acted like he was going to get devoured; that whole act really grated his nerves.
"M-may I?" Without waiting for a reply, the slender boy boldly sat beside the beast. After a beat he again laid a hand upon the creature, kept it there and began softly, gently even, "They were really worried about you." A sweet chuckle erupted from cherub lips, "The fuss they made. It sort of reminded me of a neighbor kid I know, this super crybaby who pretends to be brave."
It was as though the burnet was more ranting on to himself rather than Xanxus; a faraway look paved across his face while he drew his folded legs close to his chest. Tsuna cradled his head atop his knees, "They care about you and I know you care about them…and I've been thinking about the risk you took saving me when you didn't have to come for me at all. My intuition tells me that you aren't as horrible as you make yourself out to be. I figured…since I'm stuck here—for eternity that is—we should get to know each other. " The shy boy peeked through his bangs. Xanxus made no indication of his opinion, merely choosing to continue staring at the birds, only, with less of a scowl. That was enough for Tsuna, who was beginning to learn the body language of the beast. The brunet paused before continuing to share his life to the beast; he had really little to say about himself though, since most of his life consisted of bullying and with no friends. He had run out of things to share and opted to pick at grass, then, poke a random assortment of doodles with a twig as they sat together thoughtfully.
The glow of the afternoon sun bathed the couple with warm rays, and the boy found himself quite comfortable. In his haze, he leaned on Xanxus, who stiffened up, but relaxed under the familiar touch. The beast slowly lifted his paw in a timid manner toward the peaceful youth. The motion was almost fearful, as though afraid of rejection. His heart, which had been pounding so fiercely before, completely stopped when he landed atop the fuzzy head of the brunet. Tsuna move closer into the touch, his cheeks marred pink from his own boldness, but he wasn't at all brave enough to meet eyes with the beast. Had he been, he would have seen the most serene expression Xanxus had ever managed before. Ever so light, with a gentleness that surprised the captive, the monster began to pet Tsuna's hair.
With a goofy grin the awkward boy laughed out, "It's sort of ironic that you're petting me." The beast snorted. The brat sure wasn't lying when he said he hadn't had any friends.
Back in the village place, Iemitsu desperately attempted to convince anyone he could to help, but try as he may no one would believe the words of a crazy inventor. This whole afternoon he moved from shop to shop trying to pull favors. The constable wouldn't even listen…the more everyone laughed in his face and the more aggravated he became. The townsfolk had become wary of him. The man sighed in exasperation, especially with Nana's new found condition, who would believe him now? This morning had been a disaster.
Iemitsu's was uncomfortable. He popped his neck and stretched upward. He had fallen asleep in a wooden chair that was pulled up from the kitchen. When Nana had lost consciousness, the blonde man scooped his wife into his arms, frail legs drooping over a sturdy grip, and carried her in their bedroom. He carefully tucked her into the bed and stood for a moment, taking in her features. The woman fitfully slept, letting out soft whimpers and twitching. She looked so thin under the sheets. Her husband felt too guilty to sleep, let alone lay next to his wife. He would not allow himself the reassurance of her warmth, so instead he sat in the chair and numbly stared into the dark—unable to form coherent thoughts. He couldn't remember falling asleep.
Looking about, Iemitsu couldn't locate his wife, and briefly panicked. Their bed was neatly folded with no signs of the previous night's occupant. He called out Nana's name in the calmest voice he could muster. When he received no answer, the blonde hastily opened the door and was relieved to find his wife standing in the kitchen. Nana's back faced him.
Thuck. Thuck. Thuck. The dull butcher knife she grasped tightly splintered carrots and potatoes. From the looks of it the mother was preparing a family favorite; curry. Her movements were mechanic and had Iemitsu second guessing to venture another call; regardless he would have to face his wife again. Fearfully he let her names fall from chapped lips.
The woman's body froze for a brief moment, muscles twitching nervously around her back. Thuck. Thuck. Thuck. She resumed cutting and reached out with shaky hands for another skinned potato.
"I was surprised about Tsuna's choice too," she sighed without turning to spare her husband a glance, "our boy has decided to grow up." Finally, unable to stand and stare incredulously at his wife's back, Iemitsu spun the stranger around and searched almost manically into the woman's eyes.
"Nana, my darling…what are you saying?" He refrained from shouting, but it took a considerable amount of restraint. His large hands cusped her fragile face; he noted painfully that it was heart-shaped just like Tsuna's. His thumb brushed over her cheek in concern.
Blank eyes barely sparked with recognition, "Tsu-kun took an apprenticeship. Don't you recall?" She smiled emptily back at him. For a moment, words would not find him, and even if he managed to reach any, they would be caught in his through, helpless to reasoning.
Her words undid his own. In general, their neighbors regarded Nana as the likeable Sawada. He stared at her figure standing in the marketplace from the distance. To everyone else, she looked perfectly fine, easily falling back into her regular routine. She was busying herself with a particular eye for vegetables, choosing every other produce to place in a homemade wicker basket.
"Sawada-san!" Haru called out. The girl hastily approached the elder. "Haru saw what happened at the square, and I believe you. No way would Tsuna-san leave without informing your future daughter-in-law and his future wife." The sweet burnet shook her head vehemently. "A mysterious and somewhat handsome (not as handsome as Tsuna-san) stranger arrived asking if anyone had gone missing recently. I immediately thought to bring him to you."
"Excuse me, good sir." Iemitsu reflexively twisted his neck toward the unfamiliar voice. With a hyperactive presence like Haru's it was hard to notice the still figure. The young gentleman was a bit worse for wear, but it seemed to fit his ominous expression, "The word around town is you are in search of a beast?" He nodded slowly. He was a bit dumbfounded that someone approached him about the monster.
"I think I can be of assistance."