Chapter 56: Discomforting

"He has to choose them soon," said Fon as his student hung from the fifty foot precipice by the tips of his fingers. Fon vaguely noted that Tsuna wasn't making proper use of his legs and putting extra unnecessary pressure on his arms which were currently fully extended instead of at a proper 45 degree angle.

"Hmph. If Iemitsu was still alive, he would insist on choosing them for Dame-Tsuna," said Reborn, tossing a boulder twice his size down the precipice and straight for their student. Tsuna let out a high-pitched yell and barely managed to release one of his hands and swing back from the other to avoid the falling boulder. He then used the momentum from the swing to propel himself higher and grab onto a higher perch. Ah, and there was the proper 45 degree positioning of the boy's arms.

"But he isn't," said Fon. He ignored the warring feelings of relief and annoyance. Neither would be appropriate to feel over his student's father's death. "Since Tsuna is the one that will need to rely on these people with his life and the lives of those around him, he should be the one to choose."

"If Dame-Tsuna was even a little less far along in his growth, I would choose them for him myself," said Reborn. Another boulder tossed down the cliff, another skillful but still clumsy dodge by their student. "But he is doing decently well. His promise to your student should help him see the right choices."

"Yes, it should," said Fon with a great amount of pride in the three words. Both of his students were coming along splendidly. The snort from his fellow arcobaleno showed that he had heard the unsaid boast.

"There is still the problem of making him choose," said Reborn. This time he kicked the boulder in the air and proceeded to punch it into rather large pieces. Several high-pitched cries came from further and further down the precipice, since the multiple projectiles were forcing Tsuna to dodge downward instead of upwards as he continued to lose his grip. "If it were up to him alone, he would not choose them. He would not want them to get hurt."

"That is true," said Fon. Their student had returned to the halfway point in the middle of the cliff. His arms were back to their fully extended position. The boy stayed in place for a good moment before slowly, painfully reaching back upwards. "He also knows very little about flames, and those are crucial in choosing the proper person to go with each ring."

"As soon as he reaches the top of the cliff, it will be lecture time," said Reborn overly gleefully. Fon could already see the hitman coming up with ways to keep their no-doubt exhausted student's flagging attention. Due to the importance of the information, Fon was not inclined to curve his colleague's tendency. If their student learned to fear them further, hopefully he would think twice before running from their protection.

The thought spurred Fon to step in the way of Reborn's next barrage (several exploding bombs the hitman had brought with him). Reborn send the martial artist a warning look, but Fon gazed at him calmly and took a couple of the explosives.

"If I may," said Fon with a slight bow. Reborn smirked.

"If you wanted to have a turn, you should have just asked," said the hitman. Without another word, both arcobaleno spun in unison and threw the bombs towards their climbing student. Poor Tsuna stood no chance against the barrage and fell straight back to the bottom, but at least he managed to catch himself and so the fall was a lot less hard than it could have been. Fon was glad to see that their student was continuing to progress so well.


Sitting in a booth, Basil mentally laid out the shop's floor plan. Once he took stock of the entrances and exits, Basil leaned back against the booth's back and stared at the two people behind the sushi counter. The man had to be Yamamoto Tsuyoshi, who according to the information that Oregano had gathered was formerly known as Akai Shigure and one of the best swordsmen in the word. The other had to be the cute wife that Basil's master went on and on about. She was beautiful, especially with the smile she was giving the former Akai Shigure. Basil wondered how she could smile like that with his master gone.

"How can I help you?" asked a grinning teen with a shinai resting on his shoulder. All of Basil's instincts itched for Basil to reach into his jacket and whip out his Metal Edge, but the dirty blond didn't. Japanese were, according to Basil's master, easily offended. They had various traditions and formalities that were expected to be done. Basil had worked hard to learn all the formalities and careful language just like Master had taught.

"Thou couldest tell me where I might find Sawada-dono," said Basil with an inclining bob of a bow.

"Sawada-dono? Oh, you mean Tsuna? He's with his teachers," said the grinning teen. "He'll probably come in looking like a zombie soon."

Basil stared at the strange grinning teen that was emitting enough danger to have Basil's fingers wrpped around the handle of his Metal Edge. With hesitation, Basil untangled his fingers from the handle and put his hand back on the table to focus on the younger teen.

"Might I speak to him when he returneth?" asked Basil as politely as possible. He didn't want to anger the younger teen. Even with the persistent urge to wield his Metal Edge in the younger teen's direction, Basil didn't think the grinning teen was angry. Just cautious. That caution made him a dangerous enemy and a reliable ally.

"I don't know if Tsuna will be able to talk, but you can try," said the grinning teen. Basil's fingers twitched but he kept them on the table. "What do you want to talk about?"

"I apologize, but I canst tell thou," said Basil. "The message is for Sawada-dono solely."

"Then maybe you should leave and come back later," said the grinning teen. "Dad said that the tables need to be for customers only."

"I wilst order victuals," said Basil reaching for a menu.

"I have to warn you, it might upset your stomach," said the grinning teen. "People who aren't used to eating sushi might get sick."

As Basil had not heard from Master anything about sushi being hard on the stomach and had a lot of experience with threats, the older teen decided not to order anything. Instead, Basil decided that perhaps he should attempt bluntness with this grinning teen. The strange younger teen didn't fit the normal Japanese mold, so maybe he wouldn't mind forgetting some of the overly polite rules.

"Who art thou to Sawada-dono?" asked Basil despite the rudeness that came of asking that of a near stranger such a question.

"Who am I to Tsuna? He's my best friend," said the grinning teen.

"I do not think that I have made myself sufficiently understood. I wast not asking what relationship thou hast to Sawada-dono," said Basil. The grinning teen's gaze morphed from sharp to questioning. "Perhaps a better question is what thou doest for Sawada-dono?"

"You want to know what I do for Tsuna?" asked the grinning teen who was strangely no longer grinning. Basil nodded, and the grin returned. "I'm his best friend and his sword."

"His sword?" asked Basil.

"Hai. I cut down anyone or anything that would hurt Tsuna or any of Tsuna's family," said the grinning teen. The grin widened enough that the teen's eyes closed. "But I don't think Tsuna knows that."

"Knows what?" asked the man who used to be behind the counter. Basil tensed further under the scrutiny of the Akai Shigure.

"Tsuna doesn't know that I'm his sword," said the grinning teen, and Basil suddenly realized he had been rude enough to never ask his name or give his own in return.

"Ah, our Tsuna can be a bit dense sometimes," said the Akai Shigure. "And who is this?"

"Hm…I don't know," said the grinning teen and scratching the back of his head. "But he came to see Tsuna."

"Really? What for?"

"He won't tell me."

Two pairs of sharp eyes pinned Basil, and Basil's hand gripped his Metal Edge reflexively. He kept his hand under his jacket because pulling out his weapon would be seen as an act of aggression and he could not pull his hand away from the weapon's handle. Basil did not doubt that any aggressive action would end with Basil in a fight for his life.

"So first things first, we should introduce ourselves," said the Akai Shigure, the grin decorating his face not tempering the sharpness of his eyes. "I am Yamamoto Tsuyoshi, and this is my son Takeshi."

"Basil Delphini. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance," said Basil. He pulled his hand out of his jacket slowly enough to hide his weapon and stood to execute an appropriately low bow.

"Someone has taught you some very good manners," said the Akai Shigure. "And some very old Japanese. Was it someone back in Italy?"

"No, Master did teach me," said Basil, making sure to keep his Metal Edge at an angle where it wouldn't be seen.

"So your master isn't Italian?"

"No. He wast Japanese," answered Basil.

"I see," said the Akai Shigure. "Whoever he is must not have cared for you much."

"Thou knowest nothing!" cried Basil. His hand itched to swing his weapon or punch the man's face. "Master wast a great man! My master made certain that I learned what wast necessary for our work and more. Even when I wast deemed a lost cause by those of our company, Master called me his apprentice and taught me himself! He didest not see me as a failure but as a potential asset to the company."

"By company you mean CEDEF," said the Akai Shigure, and Basil realized exactly how much he had given away. Tumeric had warned him several times to watch his words when speaking to people outside the CEDEF or Vongola. Basil's master had usually covered for Basil's occasional lapses. His emotionality had been the main reason that many had thought him unsuited for the CEDEF.

"CEDEF? What's that?" asked the grinning teen. Yamamoto Takeshi. His name was Yamamoto Takeshi. Basil had to remember that. An oddly shaped wooden sword now tapped Yamamoto Takeshi's shoulder, and sharp hazel eyes stayed focused on Basil's newly revealed weapon. Basil inwardly cursed his recklessness.

"The organization that Tsuna's father was in charge of," answered the Akai Shigure, and Basil could not believe he had forgotten that this man knew plenty of the mafia. He truly was a failure. "I suppose you are here to give Tsuna the half-rings."

"How didst thou know about the half-rings?" asked Basil, clutching the bag on his free shoulder.

"Don't worry. I don't plan to stop you or take them," said the Akai Shigure. "The Ninth was kind enough to explain that someone would be sent over to deliver them. I didn't expect the former CEDEF leader's apprentice."

"Oh, he was Tsuna's dad's student like Tsuna is Fon and the kid's student," said Yamamoto Takeshi. The sword had not stopped tapping Yamamoto Takeshi's shoulder. "I didn't know Tsuna's dad took students."

"He did," said the Akai Shigure. "Are you staying until the funeral?"

"I must return once I have given the half-rings to Sawada-dono," said Basil. Oregano had made sure that Basil understood that the CEDEF had to attend the funeral as a group. Basil knew that the others wanted to make sure he didn't make an unnecessary emotional display.

"I'm afraid Tsuna might have something to say about that," said the Akai Shigure. "Especially if you put on that face. Tsuna has a habit of taking in strays."

Before Basil could reply, the female that was behind the counter called for the Akai Shigure and the man excused himself and returned to behind the counter. Yamamoto Takeshi also said he had to return to training (the sword was still tapping) and left. Basil stayed at his table, but he didn't order anything. After all, Basil still had to wait for the boss the two strange Yamamotos answered to.


Hana decided that Lancia was not a monkey. He was certainly male, but she could tell that he was more mature than the males she was used to, even Tsuna and Takeshi. So far, the man had helped her scout the various hospitals in the area. Tokyo was much larger than she remembered from her parents last visit. Her aunt and uncle had welcomed her and her parents despite their visit being moved up almost three weeks. Lancia had been introduced to her family as a relative of a friend who was visiting Japan and tagging along with Hana to see the famous capitol, Tokyo. The man had found himself a hotel room so that no one would ask awkward questions.

As for the doctor, the less said the better. Hana hoped the man did actually manage to convince Irie to learn medicine. Hana could live her whole life without seeing that man again, but she doubted she would be granted that choice. Irie was an inventor, not a doctor, and considering all the scrapes their group had already gotten into, they would indeed need a doctor fairly consistently. Hana could only hope they would find a better one soon.

"This is the fifth hospital," said Hana with a sigh as her and Lancia stood in front of Ryozaku hospital. "At this rate, I may just have to call Sakurai and find out if she actually knows what hospital Nakimori is in."

"Why haven't you called her?" asked Lancia, his eyes scanning every inch of the street.

"Because I don't feel like explaining to her why I need directions," said Hana. She took out her map and placed a check next to Ryozaku Hospital. Best to mark all the places they had gone so that they didn't revisit any. "I also don't want any of her sort to know I'm in Tokyo. Not until we have this taken care of."

No response came, so Hana figured that the man understood what she meant. She walked into the hospital with her self-appointed shadow behind her.

"Good morning. How may I help you?" asked the nurse behind the desk. Her smile and tone was plastic, but Hana wasn't expecting anything less. The last four had been exactly the same, and this one in particular looked like she was near the end of her shift and exhausted.

"I'm here to see a Nakimori Nagi. I unfortunately do not know her room, though I do believe she is probably in the ICU," said Hana. Straight and to the point worked best in this situation.

"Nakimori Nagi?" asked the nurse. She didn't even glance at her computer. "She hasn't had any visitors since her mother and stepfather came when she was admitted more than a week ago. May I ask who you are?"

"A friend who lives too far away to have visited before now," said Hana. "My friends and I only found out recently that she was injured. For the record, my name is Kurokawa Hana and this is Conti Lancia."

"Oh, I see," said the nurse. "I'm sorry if my question sounded rude. I am required to ask visitors to identify themselves, and several of us nurses have a soft spot for that girl. She is in such a delicate state, but nothing can be done until some organs become available. The machines are barely keeping her alive. It's nice to see that someone outside of the hospital cares about her."

"I'm sure it is," said Hana. "In fact, I am here to take over the medical concerns for her parents."

"What?" said the nurse, surprise erasing the exhaustion from her face.

"Like I said, I am here to take over the medical concerns. Forms and such," said Hana. "So if I can see her records so that I can have a better grasp of the situation, I would appreciate it."

"But her parents never—I mean do you have the proper paperwork for—Are you their lawyer?" asked the nurse, and Hana gave her a slight amused smile. Despite her mature aura, no one could mistake her for a lawyer, not when she was obviously middle-school age. Apparently this nurse had an overactive imagination.

"Like I already said, I'm a friend," said Hana. "And her parents have decided that I can take it from here. If you need official papers or something, take it up with them. In the meantime, it would probably be best for you to hand over the current files so that I can catch up."

"But you need official consent—"

"No, she doesn't," said Lancia, stepping away from the doorway he had been standing in. "Nagi is family."

"But she just said—"

"She misspoke. She doesn't like to explain exactly how they are related, but I can assure you they are family. I would hand her the documents unless you wish for the girl in question to lay in the ICU until her body gives out under the synthetic power of the machines," said Lancia smoothly. He had leaned across the desk in a way that highlighted both his height and scars. Despite her normal dislike for bullying, Hana approved of her companion's actions. The nurse cowered under the man's presence.

"Bu-bu-"

"Let's just go," said Hana with a casual wave of her hand, adjusting to the Italian man's improvisation. "We'll come back with a couple of lawyers to explain the situation. You took note of her name, right?"

"Higeki Alisu," said Lancia, and Hana nodded. She turned around and headed for the door. She assumed more than knew that Lancia was following right behind her.

"W-wait!" cried the nurse. "Come back! I'll give you the file!"

Hana let a small smile cross her face before turning around and staring at the nurse flatly. The woman was typing madly on her computer, and Hana slowly walked back to the desk. The woman's overactive imagination had worked in their favor. Soon, the top of the desk was filled with various papers. Hana casually took them and placed them in the bag she had brought.

"I also need some transfer forms," said Hana bluntly.

"Transfer forms?" asked the nurse.

"Yes," said Hana. Perhaps their inability to find a hospital earlier would work to their benefit. Late hours meant that fewer supervisors were around to give nurses back up in these situations. Hana honestly did not want to cause problems for the nurse later, but this was important. She had to get Nakimori proper treatment and fast given what the nurse had let slip.

"But why would yo—"

"I want our personal doctor assigned to her case. He's come all the way from Europe with his personal assistant for this matter, so I would like to transfer her to his care as quickly as possible," said Hana.

"But I can't do that without my supervisor's permission," said the nurse.

"And you can give us copies of official hospital files without said supervisor's permission?" asked Hana, giving the papers a demonstrative wave. The nurse paled.

"Our doctor is already on his way," said Lancia. Hana gave him a questioning glance, but it eased into one of comprehension upon seeing the man pocketing a cell phone. "If you give her the transfer forms, we will make sure that no one learns of this transaction."

The nurse's pale face gained a green tinge, but she fished out the proper forms. Reading them over, Hana grew more grateful that both her parents were lawyers. She filled in the appropriate places and with great care copied a few signature from the copied hospital files. The illegality of what she was doing caused her to glance at the security camera in one of the reception's upper corners.

"Irie lent me something interesting," said Lancia quietly and without sounding overly secretive. "They won't show anything but snow until we leave."

Hana gave a nod of understanding even as the nurse regained color long enough to look completely baffled. Several pages pushed in front of her nose wiped the baffled look off the nurse's face and replaced it with one of surprise as she flipped through the properly filled out forms.

"Thank you for your help," said Hana. "We will head to the ICU now. When the doctor gets here, let him in. He'll be the lecher that tries to hit on you. Don't worry, his personal assistant will manage to stop him if the guy knows what's best for him."

Without another glance at the pitifully muddled nurse, Hana strode towards the ICU. If anyone tried to stop her, the nurse at reception would not be the only muddled one.


In the three days Shamal had been supervising Irie, the doctor had regretted the decision to take on a male student several times. None more so than when said male student dragged him from the adorably flustered nurse in reception. To be honest, Shamal had been unsurprised to hear that the Kurokawa girl and the strongest man in Italy had managed to transfer (at least on paper) this Nakimori Nagi to his care and paved the way for him to start her treatment immediately. Neither of those two were the sort to let anything stop them once they had decided to do something. No one in the elder Sawada's group was. Including, to Shamal's frustration, Irie Shoichi.

"Doctor Shamal, Nakimori must need you to assess her condition as soon as possible, or Hana-san wouldn't have gone through the trouble to get her transferred into your care," said Irie, nearly shoving the doctor towards the ICU. More than likely, the redhead was referring to the fact that the adorably mature Kurokawa girl had done so illegally. She would have gone through the proper channels if Shamal's newest patient wasn't in a life threatening condition.

"Fine, fine," said Shamal with a scowl. He hated when men touched him. Using the momentum Irie had "given" him, Shamal stepped out of Irie's next push and smirked as the kid fell flat of his face. He was starting to understand Reborn's interest in teaching. Watching the kid make a fool of himself was entertaining. The kid was lucky that he had invented some fairly unbreakable glasses given how often Irie fell over his own two feet.

"Ow," the kid muttered as he struggled to get himself upright. The kid was pathetic. Seriously, all Shamal had had the kid do the last few days was run a few hundred laps, then dodge a few thousand (he had used most of his reserves) of his mosquitos, and experiment with the boy's newest invention and a few hundred thousand paper airplanes. And today he had even gone through the trouble of incorporating running into the "running around" and looking for the right hospital. Shamal had thought the training clever since the boy had to dodge both his mosquitos and the pedestrians in the overcrowded sidewalks in Tokyo. The kid didn't complain, but he didn't thank Shamal for the effort either. Not that Shamal wanted to be thanked by a male anyway.

"What is taking you guys so long?" asked a very familiar voice that sounded like a harp from heaven in Shamal's ears.

"We had to get through traffic," said Shamal in his most enticing manner. "I would never have wanted to be late for our date, sweetheart."

"Call me sweetheart again and I'll see if the idiot monkey can lend me one of his newest explosives to try out on you," said the Kurokawa girl in a beautifully female rough tone. Tsundure girls were some of the best. Too bad this one seemed to have her heart of ice stolen by a certain Vongola heir. Not that Reborn and Fon's brat knew what he had.

"Whatever you say, honey," said Shamal overly sweetly. "Do I get a kiss for rushing over here?"

"Only if I can get death to give it," said Hana flatly.

"Or a dementor," mumbled Irie almost inaudibly. Shamal glared at the kid who instantly stiffened.

"Bring me the chart at the end of the girl's bed," said Shamal, jerking his head towards the ICU door. "And don't get bitten."

A yelp and some hurried footsteps later, Shamal was alone with the Tsundure honey. Or almost. Conti Lancia leaned against the door to the ICU and surveyed the situation in the hallway with a dangerous protectiveness. That one knew how to follow order too well.

"Both her kidneys are damaged, her gallbladder was punctured, and her liver is barely functioning," the Kurokawa girl stated preemptively. These kids wouldn't even let Shamal ask a question. Why was he still dealing with them? Oh right, several thousand women were still after his head overseas and the Uragano brat's relatively good health was a medical marvel that needs to be observed. The Kurokawa girl continued. "Despite the aid of a dialysis machine, her liver is unlikely to last much longer. They managed to suture her gallbladder closed and fix most of the damage done by the leakage, but her intestines are never going to be the same again. Her heart is predicted to give out under the strain. The machines they have her on and the nutrients they are giving her by IV aren't enough to do more than keep her from dying. If she doesn't get at least two organ transplants, one kidney and one liver, she will not survive past the end of the week."

"Maa, you sure want me to work me hard for that kiss," said Shamal before straightening his slouch and grabbing and focusing on the clipboard that Irie had retrieved. The chart's data agreed with everything the Kurokawa girl had said (her information skills would be fearsome when Ganauche got a hold of her).

"Can you help her?" asked Irie, and Shamal's professional pride overcame his annoyance at the question. The best way to silence idiots who say something can't be done was to go out and do it.

"Listen closely, because this case will touch upon several key organs and dealing with the aftermath of their near destruction. Each organ is a special case, and you cannot treat them all the same though some treatments are universal. The universal ones tend to be no better than band-aids, so you shouldn't rely on them," Shamal said as he strode into the ICU. As expected, Irie followed him automatically if also with a ridiculous confused expression. Shamal snapped the clipboard back in place and headed towards the head of the girl's bed. "First thing we need to do is stabilize her condition so that we can unplug the machines."

"You can't just do that!" cried a nurse (male unfortunately, unlike the one at reception), but Conti Lancia didn't waste time in stopping the nurse and pushing the small Japanese man away from Nakimori Nagi's bed. If Shamal didn't have such a large job ahead of him, he would have cast a subtle illusion around them to keep the nurses and others from noticing anything was wrong, but he had to conserve his strength. He hadn't worked on a case this bad in ages.

"W-wait a minute! What do you mean 'we'? I don't know anything about medicine, and I—I—" A heave surging up from the boy's sensitive stomach nearly tuned the protest into projected vomit. Luckily, trident mosquito number 543 connected with the boy's neck in time, and the half-digested food and gastric acid slid back down Irie's throat. Shamal mentally cursed the moment of weakness (the image of a much younger Shamal overlapping with one of a downcast redhead) that lead to him taking on a male student, especially one that suffered from constant gastric disturbances.

"If you dare to pass out, this girl will die," said Shamal. He barely kept his teeth from gritting together at the words. "For all you have had fun playing with flames, you haven't realized how fortunate you are to have such a useful one. For those who truly know about these flames, yours are called Sun flames. They have a special ability that serves the medical profession well. They have an activation effect that can speed and guide healing, not just make inanimate objects and plants able to move and attack. You're still a completely idiota when it comes to using them with precision, but unfortunately it's either you or this girl dies. So you either follow my instructions to the letter or you watch helplessly as a girl withers away in front of your eyes as I try to save her alone."

Green eyes had stretched to barely possible proportions, but they held a new determined (and more importantly resolved) glint.

"What do you want me to do, sensei?"