Chapter 51: Resolving Intrusions
As Fuuta fought to keep Lambo from touching the round silver thing, I-pin moved away from the two like Master had taught her. Her breath was too shallow to make any sound, and her feet didn't really touch the floor as she headed to the door that had to lead to the back of the shop. I-pin had all her thoughts on finding 哥哥' so she barely stopped in time to avoid the legs on the other side of the door.
"They're making quite the racket out there, aren't they?" said the man attached to the legs. He was Tsuna's Uncle Kawahira. "I should go out and stop them. Perhaps you should continue down this hall and go into the third door to the right."
The man stepped into the front of the shop and left I-pin standing in the middle of the hallway and staring after him. She then blinked and started for the third door on the right. The door opened right before I-pin reached it, and Lancia stood in the doorway and looked down at I-pin.
"He's in there, but Kawahira-san used an illusion and it is still having some effect on his perception, so he may not see you," said Lancia. I-pin liked how he would talked to her, Lambo, and Fuuta the way he talked to the other grown-ups, at least when it was important. Even Master sounded different when he talked to her than he did when he talked to 哥哥'. "But don't stop trying to talk to him."
"Hai!" I-pin agreed in as loud Japanese as she could. Lancia gave her a small smile and stepped aside so that I-pin could get into the room. The room wasn't very big. A small table nearly bumped into the wall directly across from I-pin, and right next to the table a soft couch stretched out until it was right in front of the door. Another longer but thinner table sat in front of the couch and left little space between it and the wall to I-pin's left. Behind the couch, small wood shelves attached themselves to the right wall, but I-pin looked away when she saw them because they had a lot of scary weapons. 哥哥' was sitting on the couch. Large empty brown eyes moved from looking at the table to looking at I-pin, and I-pin ran straight to 哥哥' and hugged him.
"I-pin?" 哥哥' said so quietly that I-pin wouldn't have heard him if she wasn't hugging him.
"哥哥' bad! 哥哥' made Mama and Lambo scared!" she said burying her head into Tsuna's chest and muffling her words. "哥哥' had come home! 哥哥' not come home, and Mama cry, and Lambo cry, and Master not know, and I-pin was worried! I-pin didn't know if 哥哥' was coming back. I-pin didn't want the brother of 哥哥' to come back if it meant 哥哥' didn't come back. Why didn't you come back?"
Heedless to the Chinese babble, a hand gently rubbed the back of I-pin's neck as I-pin's fingers formed fists around Tsuna's pajama shirt. It grew wet with her tears, and she clung tighter to her 哥哥'.
"I'm sorry," came a whisper. I-pin managed to pull away from the shirt to look up at sad, brown eyes.
"Mama worry and Yamamoto-san and Takeshi and Lambo. No do that again," she said, wagging her finger. "I-pin no want to worry, so 哥哥' promise."
A small smile appeared beneath the shimmering brown eyes.
"I can't promise. I promised to take care of Tama-kun, and I can't break that promise."
"I-pin okay if 哥哥' go get Tama-kun, but 哥哥' promise to come back. If 哥哥' no promise, then I-pin tell Master. 哥哥' has to come back."
Tiny brown eyes held large brown eyes, and the small smile curled further upwards as the large brown eyes sagged.
"I need to save Tama-kun. I don't…I can't promise to come back."
哥哥' had his head so down that if I-pin wasn't looking up at him, his eyes would have hidden behind his hair. But I-pin could see them. And they looked hurt.
"Then I-pin stop 哥哥'. Takeshi, Gokudera-san, Mama, Hana-san, and Mama help I-pin. Lambo too. And Uncle Kawahira and Lancia-san and Irie-kun and Fran-san and Byakuran-san and Reborn. No one want 哥哥' to not come back."
Tsuna blinked, and the brown eyes didn't look so hurt. I-pin let go of Tsuna's crumpled pajama shirt and lifted her hands to both sides of Tsuna's face.
"Tsuna must promise. Or Tsuna can't try to save Tama-kun."
Something wet landed on I-pin's forehead, and another dropped onto her cheek and slid down the already wet flesh. 哥哥' leaned forward and pressed his forehead lightly against hers and hands covered both of I-pin's own. And then a thick voice breathed two words onto her face.
"Good to see you helping out your old man again, kid. He needs all the help he can get, and the sushi tastes better when you and your friend are helping him."
Takeshi grinned as he counted out Shinoda's change and handed it to the older balding man. The man grinned and pressed it back into Takeshi's hand.
"Keep it," Shinoda said. "Consider it a bribe to keep helping your old man out. I don't know if it's the love he has for you or what, but the sushi definitely tastes different when you're here. And considering your old man's sushi's the best around as it is, the upgrade makes me want to come here for every meal. Just don't tell my wife. She thinks I spend too much time here as it is."
"Thanks, Shinoda-san. I'll be sure to tell Dad you like the sushi better than your wife's cooking," said Takeshi, making sure the grin didn't falter. Shinoda laughed.
"Just don't go spreading that around or I won't get any food back home. Hope to see you tomorrow, kid," said Shinoda.
"You too, Shinoda-san," said Takeshi continuing to grin and waving as the man left. The grin dropped as soon as Shinoda was out the door. After putting the money into the cash register with the rest, Takeshi dimmed the lights and walked over to the door to lock up for the night when it suddenly burst open.
"I've EXTREMELY found you!"
"Ah, sempai," said Takeshi, his grin quickly returning. "How can I help you?"
"I am EXTREMELY looking for someone," yelled the energetic boxer.
"Ah…I don't seem to know where anyone is right now," said Takeshi as he scratched the back of his head. "But maybe I can help you find them, if you like."
"I EXTREMELY want to find Sawada! He hasn't shown up for boxing practice for two weeks!"
"Sawada?" asked Takeshi, wondering why Ryohei would be looking for Tsuna. Tsuna didn't say anything about boxing. But then… "Oh, you mean Tsuna's brother. He's not here. He's kinda lost, but Tsuna's going to find him."
"I want to EXTREMELY find him."
"Sorry, sempai, but I don't think he's somewhere you can find. Even the kid doesn't know where he could be," said Takeshi. He went to the door held it open for the loud boxer. Ryohei was certainly energetic for this late at night. "But you don't need to worry. Tsuna'll find him."
"I EXTREMELY don't trust the other Sawada."
Takeshi stiffened, and the door handle felt hard against his hand as he squeezed. His grin strained but didn't drop.
"Oh? Why not?" asked Takeshi.
"Because the other Sawada is an EXTREMELY bad brother!" yelled the energetic boxer. The handle grew harder under Takeshi's hand.
"Why do you think that, sempai?" asked Takeshi as his grin thinned and sharpened. A hard glint had entered his eyes that Ryohei didn't seem to notice.
"The other Sawada has EXTREMELY forgotten how to be a big brother! He left Sawada all alone with those EXTREMELY bad people," continued Ryohei. "When I EXTREMELY find Sawada, I will challenge the other Sawada to a boxing match for the right to be Sawada's big brother."
Without warning, Takeshi started laughing. The laughs were hard and sharp. Takeshi tried to take breaths, but it was hard. The thought of Tsuna fighting their boxing sempai over being Tamaki's big brother was making Takeshi laugh, and the young swordsman didn't know why. Maybe because Tsuna…Tsuna always had to fight for Tamaki. Tsuna had to fight people way worse than the boxing sempai, and Tsuna would fight even more people for Tamaki. Because Tamaki was Tsuna's little brother, and Tsuna wanted to fight for Tamaki like a big brother was supposed. Like brothers were supposed to. Like Takeshi had failed to.
A hard slap to the back knocked Takeshi forward and almost onto the floor.
"Are you EXTREMELY all right?" asked Ryohei. "You EXTREMELY scared me."
"Sorry," said Takeshi, the grin back in place and the laughter gone. "I was thinking of something else."
"About how you would EXTREMELY like to be the other Sawada's big brother?"
The question hit Takeshi harder than the slap. He stared at the boxer, the grin replaced by a look of shock.
"I EXTREMELY get it," said Ryohei. "You and the other Sawada are EXTREMELY close, so you EXTREMELY want to protect him!"
Takeshi blinked, and the grin returned although it was wider and less sharp now.
"I guess I do," said Takeshi. "I hadn't thought about it like that, but it's true. Thanks sempai."
"You're EXTREMELY welcome!" shouted Ryohei. Takeshi didn't think that Ryohei had a lower volume, but then he never had a hard time understanding the boxer. "Now EXTREMELY tell me where Sawada went."
"Like I told you, sempai. I don't know—"
"Good evening," said another voice. Tsuna's Shishō stood on the counter. "I was wondering if you had seen I-pin. I assumed she and Lambo had gone to the park, but I couldn't find them there. If they were playing hide and seek again, I assume one of them would be seeking, so they must have gone somewhere else."
"I think I-pin and Lambo went over to play at Fuuta's house," said Takeshi.
"So I-pin went ahead without me," said Fon. He took a deep breath and gave Takeshi a small bow. Returning the bow, Takeshi hoped Tsuna came back soon, because Fon was very worried. Why else would Fon bow so much? He never bowed this much with Tsuna around. "Thank you for your help, Takeshi-kun."
"You sure you don't want me to help you look for them?" asked Takeshi. "I'm pretty good at finding them when we're playing hide and seek."
"No, I don't think they are in a place where we can find them," said Fon.
"Wait an EXTREME minute!" yelled Ryohei. He had been so quiet that Takeshi had almost believed the boxing sempai had left. "Do you EXTREEMLY know where Sawada is?"
"If you are looking for Tsuna, I cannot tell you exactly where he is. You are a sempai of his, correct?" asked Fon.
"I am EXTREMELY Sasagawa Ryohei and the future world boxing champion," shouted Ryohei. Takeshi glanced over to the door in the kitchen. The old man would come down soon to see what all the commotion was in case a customer was giving Takeshi trouble. Takeshi hoped he wouldn't. Tsuna's mom had looked so much better after Takeshi's old man had talked to her earlier, and she wouldn't want to be alone right now.
"Sempai, please be quieter. People are sleeping upstairs," said Takeshi, hoping it was the truth. Tsuna's mom had still looked really tired.
"I will EXTREMELY try," said Ryohei in a slightly quieter tone.
"A little more quiet," said Takeshi. "I don't want my old man to come down here and kick you out of the restaurant."
"Oh, I extremely understand," said Ryohei, still loud but no longer at a volume that would carry up the stairs. "But I extremely need to find Sawada."
"As I have said, we don't know where Tsuna is exactly at the moment, except somewhere in Namimori. I was hoping to find my younger student, since she can ask one of the few people who knows where Tsuna might be," said Fon, standing straight and staring coolly at the boxer.
"I wasn't extremely talking about the other Sawada. I want to find my Sawada," said Ryohei almost reaching yelling volume again.
"I thought that might be who you meant," answered Fon. "Unfortunately, I have even less an idea as to where he might be. We are using all our resources to find him, but it will take time. We can tell you when we have found him."
"Is he playing an extreme game of hide and seek?" asked Ryohei.
"No. He was kidnapped, and Tsuna has asked us all to do our best to bring him back," said Fon. "And we will."
"Sounds like Tsuna's not that bad a big brother, eh, sempai," said Takeshi.
"He will be an extremely difficult opponent, but I promised Kyoko I would accept Sawada as my younger brother!"
"She asked you that?" asked Takeshi, a little surprised. After the roof, Kyoko seemed to like Tsuna more than Tamaki.
"She EXTREMELY did!" yelled Ryohei, his volume increasing again. "She said that she EXTREMELY wanted me to think of Sawada as my EXTREME little brother. She made me EXTREMELY pinkie swear."
"Interesting," said Fon. "Either way, you will have to wait until we can get him back. Which at this rate might take a while."
"I EXTREMELY want to help!"
"You want to help?" asked a female voice from the direction of the stairs. "Are you going to help Takeshi clean up? Tsuna usually does that, but he's not here at the moment."
The small, slightly sleepy smile on Tsuna's mom's face made the grin on Takeshi's face grow. Tsuna's mom looked much better, though Takeshi wondered why his old man hadn't come down with her. Either way, Tsuna would be happy to see his mom smiling for real again.
"I was EXTREMELY looking for Sawada, but I will EXTREMELY help clean if I can find him," said Ryohei.
"Oh, well, I'm sure that Takeshi would appreciate the help," said Tsuna's mom with that same smile. "Actually, Takeshi's helping his father, since Tsuyoshi is helping me, so I guess it wouldn't be wrong to say I would appreciate it."
"Then I will EXTREMELY help! Where is the EXTREME broom?"
"In the closet back here," she answered, opening the door behind her. Ryohei sprinted in through the door and then back out. He held up the broom like if it was the strongest samurai sword.
"Clean to the EXTREME," he yelled, and Takeshi's grin dropped. Takeshi's old man would come down now for sure. The boxer put the broom brush side down on the floor and pushed off with a yell as if he was going on the attack. Watching the boxer keep attacking/sweeping the floor made Takeshi want to join in, but Tsuna's mom put a hand on his shoulder.
"Before you start cleaning up, I have a question for you and Fon," said Tsuna's mom, pining Tsuna's Shishō with her gaze. "Do you know how to contact Hana-chan?"
"I believe Takeshi has the young woman's phone number," said Fon.
"Oh, good, because Tsuna left me in charge of something, and I might need some help figuring it out," said Tsuna's mom.
"And what was that?" asked Fon.
The ringing would soon wake her parents, so Hana hurried to the hall to pick up the phone. If Hana's dad woke up and the phone was for her, she wouldn't hear the end of it. Her parents were already upset that she had been gone for two days and they couldn't reach her. The fact she had to attend "extra lessons" for school didn't make them happy either. But Hana had decided, and she wasn't going to leave Tsuna to fend for himself. She couldn't trust any of those other monkeys with him.
"Moshi, moshi. Kurokawa residence," said Hana with a hard enough edge that the person on the other line would know she wasn't happy.
"Is this Hana-chan?" asked a familiar female voice.
"Yes, it is, Sawada-san. How can I help you?" she asked, keeping as much of her annoyance and surprise out of her voice as possible.
"Um…did Tsuna tell you about the email he asked me to watch?"
"No. He didn't mention anything about an email," Hana answered. Why the woman was calling and asking about an email at this time of night and after all that had occurred, Hana didn't even bother asking. If Sawada-san was calling, Hana had hoped it would be to tell her where Tsuna was, but then Hana had learned that none of the Sawada's followed conventional logic.
"Well, I was having trouble with it, and I was wondered if you would come over and help me."
"Right now?" asked Hana, unable to hold back her irritation. She understood the woman had just lost her husband, but it was the middle of the night. Hana bit the inside of her lip and reminded herself to be patient. The woman had just lost her husband, and one of her children was kidnapped while the other was hiding somewhere with his tail between his legs. When Hana saw Tsuna again, he would regret hiding from them. Again. At the moment, she needed to focus on what she could do. Hana quickly spoke before Sawada-san could take back her request. "Give me fifteen minutes. I need to get dressed and get over there."
"No, it's alright. I hadn't realized what time it is—"
"I already said I'm coming over, and so I'll be there in twenty minutes. I don't live that far from Takesushi," said Hana firmly. Tsuna was too much like his mother.
"But it's so late. I don't want you walking out by yourself, and I really hadn't noticed the time—"
"I believe you, but I doubt you would have called if this email problem wasn't really bothering you," said Hana, realizing that she was right. If something hadn't been really wrong with the email, Sawada-san wouldn't have called Hana. Not after all that had happened in the last two days. The Sawada sense for trouble was remarkably reliable if nothing else. "So if you're really worried about me walking around alone at night, send Takeshi over to make sure I don't disappear between here and the sushi shop. I think he's perfectly capable of that."
"You're right. I'll send Takeshi right over," said the woman, her voice brightening. "I'm so glad that Tsuna has friends like you."
The words fell like ice water over Hana, but she shook the effect off as quickly as she could. She shouldn't have reacted so harshly to those words. Sawada-san had spoken them many times before, and this time wasn't any different. Tsuna was the one who hid, who refused to let them help him. He pulled away instead of reaching for help or at least allowing them to help him. Tsuna who didn't see how worried she and the others were. The stupid boy didn't seem to want to realize how much he meant to them.
The dial tone squealed in her ear, and the phone squeezed in her hand. Slowly, Hana put the phone back on its cradle and let out a breath. She had to curb her temper before it unleashed itself on some innocent bystander, especially Tsuna's mother. The woman had gone through enough without Hana adding to the load.
Taking quick steps up the stairs and into her room, Hana changed back into her uniform that she had worn earlier today. One of them had to go and check where they were in certain subjects and make an alibi for why they would be missing school for the next week. Hana had no doubt that the Vongola Nono could have taken care of that detail, but the man's plan to start their "lessons" today had already been derailed by Tsuna's disappearance so it made sense for Hana to deal with their cover story.
She had barely finished fixing her hair when a knock sounded on the outside the door. Hana descended the stairs as the knocks got louder. She opened the door with a scowl , but it quickly dropped as a tall, silver-haired stranger stood on the other side of the door. Her hand tensed on the door's handle as she noticed that the man only had one hand since the other was a long sword.
"Who are you?" she asked in a hard tone.
"Where is the Vongola?!" screeched the man.
"Vongola? What are you screeching about Italian clams in the middle of the night?" demanded Hana. She wasn't about to give this weirdo any information.
"Why'd you make me stop here?! This girl doesn't know anything!" yelled the man loudly to something or someone behind him.
"She does," said a new voice. "According to my information, he should be around here somewhere, and this girl knows where."
"Ushishishi, I think our stupid captain has a point," said a third voice. "Besides, the prince doesn't talk to peasants unless he gets to kill them."
"If we start a killing spree, the boss would get piled with paperwork and then would test his experiments on us. Or cut our salaries, and then you'll have to pay me the difference in salary," said the second voice.
"Voi! Keep your mouth shut both of you and find out where the Nono is," yelled the silver-haired man, prompting Hana to step back to keep her eardrums from exploding at the volume. Apparently both of her parents had decided to take sleeping pills tonight because no footsteps sounded from upstairs.
"I don't know who you are, but if you don't leave soon, I'll call the police for noise pollution. Some people are trying to sleep," Hana said, moving to close the door.
"Before you head towards the phone, it would be in your neighborhood police's best interest if you answer our questions as honestly as possible," said the second voice levelly. A baby literally floated into view. Hana didn't even blink, though inwardly she sighed and wondered when the world became strange enough that a floating baby didn't make her question her sanity. Probably around the same time she became friends with Tsuna.
"And how would that be in the police's best interest? You don't look like you are part of law enforcement," Hana said, giving the floating baby an evaluating stare.
"We're not. But I doubt I can keep my colleagues from killing the police if they find it necessary to come anywhere near them," said the floating baby.
"Ushishishi, the prince hates police more than he hates ordinary peasants," said the third voice, and an older-looking teen with blonde hair and a ridiculous tiara appeared behind the tall silver-haired man. The blond teen twirled a knife between his fingers. "However the prince does love watching them bleed."
Hana peered past the trio of weirdoes as discretely as possible, hoping that her reinforcements would arrive soon. If Takeshi didn't appear in the next minute or so, Hana would have to take her chances and slam the door in the three wierdoes' faces. She doubted these monkeys would take the hint and get lost otherwise.
"Perhaps if I knew what questions your 'colleagues' wanted answered, I could answer them and then you could be on your way without me having to call the police. Wouldn't want your boss to have to fill out more paperwork."
"Ooh, interesting. This one intrigues the prince," said the blond knife-twirling monkey. The knife stopped twirling as the blond leaned forward and pointed it at Hana. "The prince would like to see her blood run."
"No," Hana snapped refusing to lean backwards. This knife-wielding monkey wasn't going to have the satisfaction of intimidating her. "Either you weirdoes tell me what this is about, or I'll close the door and call the police and leave you to deal with your boss's extra paperwork."
The floating baby smacked the knife-wielding monkey's hand back. A flash of knives flew in the baby's direction soon afterwards, but they passed through the bloating baby's body. Hana held firm to the door's handle as her legs shook under her. She wouldn't show any weakness to these weirdoes. Tsuna had dealt with much worse, and if she was to stay close enough to make sure that he didn't get himself killed, she would have to deal with worse as well.
"That's an extra 1,000 euros," said the floating baby nonchalantly.
"Ushishishi, the prince was only retaliating," said the knife-wielding monkey. "Retaliation doesn't count."
"You forced me to use an illusion to avoid your knives and are wasting my time by halting the investigation," said the floating baby. A calculator suddenly appeared in his hands. "My time isn't cheap, so I'd say you owe 4,000 euros."
"As if the prince is going to pay for you ruining the prince's fun."
"You'll pay or the interest will only increase your debt."
"You can't charge interest on a debt that doesn't exist," said the knife-wielding monkey, and Hana decided that this conversation was going the route of one of the idiot monkey and Yamamoto's arguments. She shut the door loudly.
Hana started back to her room when the door proceeded to burst open in a shower of splinters. She found herself face down on the floor and numb. Forcing air back into her lungs, she barely heard as one of the weirdoes let out another ear-splitting shout.
"VOI! Stop fighting and find out where the Nono is!"
"And how are we supposed to do that, idiot captain? The witness is probably unconscious," said the floating baby.
"She's not," said Hana, pushing herself off the floor and ignoring the heating stings erupting along various parts of her body. The world swirled behind her eyes, but she quickly forced it back into focus. "And if you think that you are…" The words faded as her lungs caused her to inhale sharply. They didn't hurt though, so she continued to speak in between sharp inhales. She refused to black out. "Going to get…information from me…"
"Looks like the captain broke her," sing-songed the knife-wielding monkey. "The prince thinks he should kill the peasant and put her out of her misery."
"Might as well, since she obviously doesn't know anything anyway," said the floating baby. "I don't think the boss would dock our pay for one unnecessary death form, and if we take any longer, I am sure Lussuria and Leviathan will cause enough damage to make the boss angry. I'm not paying for your recovery after he uses you as a test subject."
"Shut up!" yelled the silver-haired man at the other two before taking two long steps forward and grabbing Hana's shirt. "Tell us where the Nono is now or die!"
The sudden jerk had aggravated all of Hana's injuries, and the world was swirling again. The air had ceased to reach to her lungs, and black dots pushed at the edges of her swirling vision. A flash of silver and a whoosh of air had her falling to the floor. Sturdy and steady arms caught her, and she caught sight of blurring but sharp hazel eyes before her world became pitch black.