A/N: This chapter is minimally edited, but the wait was long enough. I hope to come back and edit it later. I hope you guys enjoy it anyway.
Chapter 59: Reinforcements
Gokudera put another cigarette in his mouth and chewed it in annoyance. He didn't light it. The perverted doctor would probably still argue that the nicotine or tobacco would stain his lips or give him mouth cancer, but right now all Gokudera cared about was making that same perverted doctor appear from out of anywhere if only to scold him. The cigarette nearly smashed in half with all his teeth grinding, but no perverted doctor appeared from the shadows of the trees. Apparently the pervert hadn't gone in search of skirts in the woods near Namimori. Or the hospital, or the school, or Irie's house, or anywhere in Namimori. Two hours after his search began, and Gokudera had no irritating pervert to bring to Tsuna-sama.
His fists clenched, his knuckles whitening. Why couldn't he complete even this simple task? The sword freak most likely had done his. Gokudera had seen the half-ring glittering on the sword freak's finger. Tsuna-sama had chosen the sword freak as his rain guardian. And most likely Tsuna-sama would choose him as his right-hand man as well.
Gokudera spit out the remnants of the smashed cigarette and scanned the area. He ignored the constant reminder of his uselessness to Tsuna-sama. He pushed aside the thought that Tsuna-sama only put up with him because the kind brunet would never send Gokudera away. Stomping on the white shreds of paper and scattered tobacco, Gokudera stalked away from the woods and towards the town. He would find the idiot doctor.
As his hand reached into his pocket, Gokudera brushed against his phone and froze. There was one person who could draw the perverted doctor out of hiding. Gokudera's stomach rebelled against the thought, but a memory of surprised brown eyes firming and an equally firm voice accepting his allegiance steeled his fingers as he drew the device out of his pocket. Dialing fast enough to allow his fingers to waver, Gokudera called the one person who had given him a phone number (stolen his phone and programed the number in) before he had left Italy.
"My fratello infatino," came the voice after no more than two rings. Gokudera's stomach swam as he wondered what she was doing up at this time. "What a pleasant surprise to hear from you. I heard that things are getting interesting in Japan."
"Fratella," bit out Gokudera. He wished he could smoke to settle his stomach. Just the thought of her cooking…but this had to be done. For Tsuna-sama. He grit his teeth. "I need a favor."
"What is that? Does mio fratello infantino miss his fratella's home-cooking?"
"No!" Gokudera yelled. He bristled as he heard her distinct chuckle from the other end of the line. "It's business."
"Business? Is there a target you can't take care of yourself, Haya-kun? If there is, I don't know if you can afford my services. I don't give family discounts."
"It's not for me. It would be a favor for the future Vongola Decimo," said Gokudera nearly biting his tongue. He had learned to lie efficiently since he was four years old, but she had always been able to tell when he was. Gokudera had no doubt that if Tsuna-sama did not want to be Vongola Decimo, then Tsuna-sama would not be the Vongola Decimo. The rings and the inheritance meant nothing in light of Tsuna-sama's determination. But seeing as this whole mission was to rescue the moronic imitation who would be the Vongola Decimo in place of Tsuna-sama, then the favor would still be for the future Vongola Decimo.
Gokuder pulled the phone away from his ear and checked that the connection had not been lost as he realized his sister had not answered in three consecutive minutes.
"Fratella?" demanded Gokudera hoping that there wasn't anything wrong with the other end of the connection.
"Hayato," said a much deeper voice than before. Gokudera instinctively stiffened as if preparing for an attack. That voice had preceded some of the worst dishes he had been forced to swallow. "Are you working for the Vongola Decimo?"
"Si," said Gokudera as firmly as he could while his legs shook. He allowed himself to crouch to steady himself. No one was around from miles to see the moment of weakness. Perhaps the call had been hasty. Certainly, he could get the perverted doctor's private "women-only" phone number from one of the other women the pervert asked out repeatedly. And to show such weakness now when Tsuna-sama needed strength…Gokudera straightened. "I need the pervert's phone number."
"Whatever you ask, fratello. I will text you the number. However, I expect to have my favor returned. I will be there in two hours," she said with the same poisonous voice. "Make sure to introduce me to your boss when I get there, Haya-kun. I would be honored to meet the future Vongola Decimo."
The dial tone echoed into Gokudera's ear as bile rose in his throat. Swallowing back the foul liquid, Gokudera stood quickly and hurried to where Tsuna-sama was. He had to report the perverted doctor's disappearance and watch for his sister's arrival. Hopefully Gokudera would be able to reach the pervert in time to give Tsuna-sama some good news. The last time Gokudera had heard that voice, seven men from a rival family had died gruesome deaths. What had he condemned Tsuna-sama too?
Leon shifted back into a green chameleon, and Reborn gazed at the hospital from his hidden alcove in the building in front of it. He would have made the calls from the inside of the hospital, but he wouldn't risk the delicate instruments. If Basil Delphini died, they would never have Tsuna ready to face Daemon or the Vindice.
His fedora tilted forward as his gaze became a glare. Iemitsu managed to irritate the hitman even from beyond the grave. How could his student prove to be so weak? Hadn't he trained the boy for fourteen years? The child had only been three years old when the CEDEF had all but adopted the boy. How was the much talked about Basil Delphini this far behind in his training? The boy should have been a master of Hyper Dying Will mode, not struggling to begin dealing with it. Had Iemitsu done even one thing right?
The feel of scaled skin scuttling onto his hand nearly startled Reborn out of his thoughts, but the hitman retained his composure as Leon morphed into a cell phone.
"Ciaossu," answered Reborn.
"I heard from Tumeric that you were trying to reach me," said the expected voice from the other end of the line. "I assume it must be important if you called me when you knew I just finished training the newbies."
"Have any cracked yet?" asked Reborn with a smirk. He probably would never admit to enjoying talking to a fellow "Spartan." A responding snort loosened Reborn's formerly clenched fist.
"All but two left the field in tears, and those two had to be carried to the infirmary to be treated for over exertion. I have a load of wusses this time."
"You say that every time," said Reborn. "I expect that you'll still see them as wusses after they finish training."
"If they finish training," said the irritated female. "I may have to shoot them before then and take them out of my misery. I swear they get worse every year."
"If you say so," replied Reborn, letting none of his amusement drip into his voice. He would get along better with Lal if she had better taste in men. "I need all you have on Basil Delphini."
"That boy," huffed the CEDEF's toughest trainer. "I heard that the up-and-coming Vongola Decimo asked for permission to keep him until the funeral. I am sure that that boy will be grateful for that."
"He attacked my student," said Reborn. Silence followed his declaration, and Reborn used the pause to recover himself. He had seen the way that the young CEDEF officer had lunged at Tsuna. The blond had come at the brunet with intentions to kill.
Yet Reborn had allowed the attack to continue. He hadn't stepped in to stop the older teen because the hitman had wanted his student to experience the pressure of an opponent willing to kill. Even the Vindice had not seriously sought to kill Tsuna. Those men had sought to capture and restrain. They wouldn't have wanted to cause too much tension with the Vongola. That caution had allowed his student to secure some time from the cloaked men. However, Daemon wouldn't likely fight as carefully.
But then the teen had attacked too recklessly. The blond hadn't prepared to defend, only attack. And when Tsuna had slipped through one of the many openings, the blond had taken the attack full force and left Reborn's student worried over the idiot blond's health. Apparently the blond's master had infected his student with his idiocy.
"How bad is the damage?" asked Lal.
"Delphini's in the hospital with head trauma and fairly serious blood loss."
"You have been training your student seriously, I see," said Lal with a grudging note of approval. "But then boss has had a lot of trouble training that kid."
"Do tell," said Reborn, purposely sounding like a gossiping housewife to take the edge of discussing that idiota. The tone earned him a nearly offended snort.
"Boss was frustrated with that child. Turmeric and Oregano were charged with care of the child when he almost literally appeared on our doorstep. When the boy was 8 years old, Boss took over training the kid. To be honest, I don't think Boss wanted to train the boy, but something about the boy compelled him to try. He often complained that Basil was taking too long to pick up steam when in Dying Will mode and that he might never have enough power to use Hyper Dying Will mode, though the boy had been making improvements in that area in the last year or so."
"Did he ever have you evaluate the boy?" asked Reborn. The CEDEF leader's choice to make Basil Delphini his apprentice had made much of the mafia question the man's sanity. At the time, Reborn had chalked the decision up to some sort of hereditary eccentricity that came from the Vongola line, an off-shoot of the infamous Vongola Intuition. The Ninth had made some choices over the years that made no sense, but the results could not be doubted as profitable to the famiglia. That profitable decision-making had been why Reborn had never questioned the Ninth's orders, or Iemitsu's decisions for that matter. Until the hitman had reached Japan and had to teach a brat. Now all of Iemitsu's decisions (and those the Ninth made under the CEDEF leader's advice) came under suspicion.
"I offered, but he refused. He insisted upon being the one to train the boy. I thought it strange but didn't press further. I have to teach enough brats as it is."
"You would have killed my former student after one day on the job."
"Which is why you were assigned to train the Chiavarone and I wasn't," said Lal. Reborn neither smirked nor frowned. So the CEDEF knew nothing of the upheaval that took place with the Vindice or even the fact that the idiota had two sons not one. So the idiota had had enough sense not to disclose the fact that he had twins even to his own people. The female CEDEF trainer continued, "Do you want me to tell Turmeric or Oregano to fetch him?"
"No. My student has to see to his recovery himself," said Reborn. The wording should lead the incomplete arcobaleno into believing that keeping Delphini was a punishment for being overly cruel instead of a necessity to keep Reborn's fragile student from breaking. She would consider the second a sign of dangerous weakness and might report said weakness to her superiors.
"Fine," said Lal, apparently displeased with leaving Delphini in Japan. Reborn idly considered inviting the strong woman to Japan to help Tsuna's guardians with their training, but none of them really needed another trainer (not once the others got here). Plus for all her complaints, Lal would never abandon her trainees. Shoot them in the legs, yes. Abandon them, no. Lal was a woman after Reborn's own heart and completely wasted upon that other fool of a blond.
"I will inform you once he recovers," said Reborn.
"Don't bother. He's not a wuss like the idiots over here. That boy will get back up and come home soon enough, probably after giving your student a good beating too."
"My student was not the one who ended up in the hospital after a spar," said Reborn without any growl in his tone. A growling tone would imply that he was offended or defensive. Reborn knew his student's skill and Delphini's skill. It was a hundred years too early for Delphini to dream of defeating Reborn's student.
"You should probably work on you student's control," said Lal, and Reborn squeezed the phone before a squeak reminded the hitman who the phone was.
"I will," said Reborn, shutting the phone and ending the call. He returned his stare to the hospital. He would definitely have to work on his student's control and making sure that his student knew exactly when to lose it.
Scowling, Shamal slumped back onto the train seat. The Kurokawa girl was turning out to be incredibly annoying. He couldn't talk to one sweet honey without her stepping in and apologizing for him. Like he was some sort of embarrassing uncle instead of the suave gentleman he truly was. No woman would at him twice when some little girl stood in the way and "excused" his "perverted ways."
"Glad to see you're finally behaving," said Kurokawa. The annoyed look on her face nearly made Shamal break his self-imposed vow not to infect women. Targets were exceptions, but he doubted he could find anyone stupid enough to put a hit out on Vongola Decimo's woman. Also he hoped he never grew stupid or desperate enough to take that job. Forget the young Vongola, the two arcobaleno would have his head. Besides, he truly couldn't hurt an angel from heaven, no matter how fallen she might be.
"Your parents won't mind letting me stay at your place?" asked the sweet Nakimori girl in a voice so quiet even Shamal's trained senses could barely pick it up.
"Technically, they only know that I wanted to go home early. Also, according to the perverted idiot and Irie-kun, we're not supposed to be up and about for another two days, but we could hardly stay hidden in the hospital room for very much longer. So whether they like it or not, you're coming home with me," answered Kurokawa.
"We could have stayed for as long as necessary," said Conti Lancia. The man had a scowl that marred his ugly male face further. "You should have waited until you were fully recovered."
"We didn't have the staff or instruments at our disposal the way the other patients had, so it would have made no difference to stay in the hospital except perhaps to increase the likelihood of becoming infected with hospital-exclusive bacteria. We will, however, be resting in my house for the following week unlike a certain brunet would," said Kurokawa with a frown marring her otherwise captivatingly handsome face. Women's love always seemed to be wasted on the wrong men. The young Vongola shouldn't make his woman worry like that. "I'm sure whatever tutoring needs to be done so that I can play my part off perfectly will be possible while I recover."
The phone in his chest pocket rang, and all thoughts of the budding young woman before him disappeared. Shamal may from time to time consider the potential of such beauties, but they couldn't hold a candle to their full grown versions. With an eager smile, he put his black-book cell to his ear.
"Good afternoon, my sweet. It's so nice to hear from you again. I hope you are ready to make your dreams come true," he said in his smoothest voice. The silence from the other end of the line echoed through his head as Shamal did a quick inventory as to which honey could have been so direct as to call him to this number.
The blonde three week ago had seemed the independent, firm sort who would call a man to have good time. Getting her to be serious would be a true challenge, but Shamal didn't mind failing. The redhead with the tight shirt from the airport looked like she wasn't shy to call back, though she might pretend she hadn't meant to call him. Shamal wouldn't mind playing along if only to have a chance at seeing that woman in a date outfit. Messing around every once and a while did a man good. Or the call could be from the other blonde who had an attitude as gorgeous as her hair, but that call might lead to him having to donate something. To have another opportunity to speak to that inner and outer beauty, Shamal wouldn't mind donating a kidney. He was good enough with his flames that he could illuse new ones if necessary.
"That line would give women nightmares," came a voice that shattered all Shamal's pleasant thoughts and soured his mood. Bad enough, the voice was male, but it was Hayato. He growled and inwardly cursed whoever gave the boy this number. The boy wouldn't shut about this for months. As if little Hayato-kun had any true skill with women to critique Shamal's own methods. A smirk replaced the growl.
"Oh, Hayato-kun, if you needed the love doctor's advice, why didn't you call me on my normal line?" asked Shamal.
"You weren't answering your other line!" yelled Hayato, and Shamal could already see the shoulders rising and body tensing. The boy continued in an angry splutter, "And why would I call perverted idiota like you for that kind of advice?! Tsuna-sama needs you."
"Oh, so the young Vongola boss-to-be needs to help with the opposite sex as well," said Shamal, enjoying the choking sound on the other side of the phone. "But he seems to be doing fine in that department. Oh, I see. You are too shy to admit that you are the one who needs help and so are using your boss as a smokescreen to get my aid? You don't need to play such games with me, Hayato-kun. I can see right through you, you know."
The spluttering failed to produce words but did amuse Shamal so he didn't hang up just yet. He was certain Hayato wouldn't have gone through the trouble of obtaining this number if the situation hadn't been urgent. The Vindice couldn't have appeared already. Considering it had been about three days since the Vongola Ninth had headed back to Italy, the promised tutors (as in Georg) should have arrived. Maybe Georg needed to discuss the state of Vongola's tenth generation. They certainly weren't the typical bunch.
"Where are you!?" Hayato finally managed to demand clearly.
"Somewhere between Tokyo and Namimori. Tell Georg that I will be there in under two hours."
"What were you doing in Tokyo?! And the Ninth's stupid Lightning Guardian isn't even in Japan!"
The various implications of the words turned down Shamal's lips in what probably passed as a very unbecoming frown. His dark green eyes gazed darkly at the young woman who had been frowning earlier. Shamal had known that the young Vongola had not signed off on all that the Kurokawa girl had done, but the doctor had assumed the boy had at least known where Kurokawa was.
And then Georg…Shamal had often pestered the man to relax during his jobs because the man had the habit of focusing on finishing the task at hand to return back to the Vongola Ninth's side as quick as possible. Georg took his position as lightning guardian very seriously and often avoided Shamal's attempts with the excuse that a lightning rod did no good if it wasn't near what it needed to protect. For Georg to take more than three days to even show up to a job...something had to be wrong.
Shamal pushed the thought out of his mind, and he turned his attention the more immediate concern. "I am escorting two of young Vongola's honeys back to Namimori."
"Two? Which of Tsuna-sama's women besides the stupid wench and the turf-head's sister would be in Tokyo?"
Before Shamal could answer, a shocked almost-yelp faded out on the other line and another male voice intruded on his honey-only line.
"Why are you with Nagi?"
"Figured it out quick, huh, Sawada?" said Shamal with a vindicating pleasure. No matter how busy a man gets, he should never be so ignorant of the women in his life.
"Is Hana with you too?"
Shamal hummed affirmatively. Listening to the Vongola intuition should be more impressive, but that intuitive leap was almost too easy.
"What happened?" The voice had dropped an octave and a half, and Shamal's spine had straightened out of his slouch. This boy might be a boss yet.
"The cute Tokyo honey needed help, and I couldn't help but offer when your woman asked," said Shamal.
"Hana is not my woman," said the incredibly oblivious boy. His voice became increasingly shaky. "And what happened to Nagi?"
"I thought you would have already known what happened seeing as you claimed her under your protection." Shamal had no idea if the young Vongola had done so or not, but the Kurokawa girl had. And so the young Vongola's protection was on the other cute honey all the same.
Silence came from the other end of the line, and Shamal didn't know Reborn's student well enough to know what kind of silence it was. He assumed stunned, but the doctor would have to admit that the brunet boy was as unpredictable as his teacher.
"Is she all right?" asked an extremely young-sounding voice. For an instant, Shamal recalled large green eyes staring at him asking him what their young owner dared not. Shamal ignored the image and focused on the present where he could give the answer he wanted.
"She's fine. She and your woman are recovering from the surgery well. Though I have to recommend they rest for at least a week. Shoichi's sun flames are not so powerful that they can be under any strain earlier than then," said Shamal, honoring the honeys' desire for a week's rest. Medically, he would have preferred that they wait longer, but he couldn't ask for miracles. Not with this famiglia. There were too many as it was. For the transplant to have worked with the mist flames tricking the body into accepting the organ…The cute little one-eyed honey should not have been doing half as well as she was. Shamal would have to make sure his student kept a close eye on her after he left.
"Thank you, Dr. Shamal," said the voice, sounding infinitely more professional. Not that the professionalism hid the relief from leaking into the tone. "There's a….We need your services again."
"You do know I only treat honeys, right?" said Shamal darkening. "You aren't going to ask me to treat a man, are you?"
The pause from the other line answered Shamal's question. He grinned sharply in anticipation. As soon as the young Vongola demanded Shamal take care of the male patient, Shamal would outright refuse. He would officially declare his intentions to train his student for whatever time necessary and then return to Italy. He would cut ties with this untrained, reckless (loving, accepting) famiglia, and Shamal would return to his freelancing with added vow never to get involved with Vongola again. He owed Reborn no favors, and Hayato was old enough to fend for himself. Shamal was done.
"Dr. Shamal," came the voice, imageless and toneless (except for a small worrying waver). Shamal 's mouth already formed the doctor's refusal. "Would you be the Vongola Decimo's head doctor?"
"I just…Reborn says you're the best. And we've been…I've been asking for a lot, and so I thought it would be better if I ask that before I ask for anything else," said the voice, so young and unsure. The cursably heart-wrenching image of green eyes returned, and Shamal almost wished he could see the unsure brown eyes. They had to be brown with that tone, which made refusing entirely too difficult.
Shamal didn't treat men. He barely dealt with men. Physiologically, men were a nightmare, and they came with none of the benefits women did. And worse, they would go ahead and undo whatever work Shamal had done. Men like the young Vongola especially were unnecessarily reckless with their own lives. Shamal wouldn't sign up to take care of those who wouldn't take care of themselves.
"Unfortunately, young Vongola—"
"D-don't call me that," interrupted the voice fiercely. A gulp followed, and the faint sound of a click. "Please don't call me that. I'm…Tsuna. Please call me Tsuna."
"You can't do that," said Shamal sharply. "You can't use the Vongola name and then back away from it. You either take it and all the stigma and responsibility that goes with it, or you get away from it as fast as you can."
Again silence. This time, Shamal could only be grateful. He had let his words run out his mouth without filtering them. He had long learned that those without filters did not last long in the dark world he inhabited. But Shamal didn't regret those words. He wondered if any of the others had said anything similar. This boy was both too well-suited and ill-fitted for the job he was attempting to undertake. And the idiot male wasn't even taking the position of heir because he wanted it. He wanted to save his twin, not rule the mafia world or destroy it. Someone like that should never be allowed to inherit Vongola. Especially not if he was the boy who had saved Hayato from drowning in the miasma of that same dark world.
"I don't want to be Vongola, but I know I have to be," said the voice in way that meant those rare, pure flames blazed brown into orange. Shamal frowned, and for a moment his blood raged and placed his precariously balanced system in danger. He had never cared for the Vindice other than to avoid them, but to place this boy in this position and in so doing place Hayato back into danger as well. Little Haya-kun would follow his boss to the ends of the earth. So there was only solution to keep this boy from causing the death of himself and those around him. Shamal didn't even need to hear the boy's next words, but the doctor allowed the boy to say them all the same. "I will try harder. Please, my family would be safer with you."
"I accept," said Shamal. His lips curled, and he knew one day he would have bragging rights as the man who rendered Sawada Tsunayoshi speechless several times in a row. He would make sure the boy and Hayato were around to be embarrassed by the claim. "But I refuse to treat men. I'll let my student take care of that."
Lambo ran up to his 哥哥 as soon as he walked in the door. Stupid Reborn and dumb Fon had kept 哥哥 so tired that he hadn't been able to play with Lambo even after 哥哥 had finally come home. And Lambo hadn't even been able to show 哥哥 that he could fight with I-pin. Really fight without getting blown up. Sometimes.
Arms caught Lambo as he jumped, and Lambo smiled. But then he frowned. 哥哥 had an unhappy face. Again. Lambo didn't like that his 哥哥 had so many unhappy faces. And he really didn't like this one.
"Lambo demands 哥哥 to stop smiling like that!"
"Like what, Lambo?" asked 哥哥 softly, but he kept smiling like he did when the stupid meanie head that looked like 哥哥 was stolen. And when the mean blond man died. And when all the things happened that made him sad and that he never told Lambo and I-pin happened. Lambo hated that smile almost as much as he hated Vince and 哥哥's stupid meanie face of a brother.
"That's okay, Lambo," said Takeshi, smiling too much like 哥哥. He ruffled Lambo's getting bigger hair. "We're going to make that smile go away."
The smile disappeared, and a frown took its place. Lambo didn't like frowns on 哥哥's face either, but they were better than those smiles. He'd have to stay up and listen to the grown-ups to find out why 哥哥 was sad again.
"We're going to have video game tournament!" Takeshi nearly shouted. Lambo stared at the grinning grown-up. He didn't want to play video games. Lambo didn't like them (and it wasn't because he lost like stupid I-pin said). But he'd play for 哥哥.
"I still think that sound like a stupid idea," growled Octopus head. "Now's not the time to slack off from our training."
哥哥 flinched, and Takeshi's eyes hardened like they did right before he slashed at something. Stupid Octopus Head put down his head a little, but Lambo still didn't like him even if Lambo now knew that something happened in training.
"We should wait for Irie-kun and Dr. Shamal to come back," said 哥哥 with that stupid smile again.
"You heard the doctor," said Takeshi. "He's going to be okay."
"That pervert's a lot of things, but he's a good doctor," added Octopus head.
"I know, but it would be rude to start without Irie-kun," said 哥哥. Lambo wanted to grab 哥哥's face and make the smile go away.
"Perhaps it would be best to start preparing for their arrival," said Fon as he jumped off of 哥哥's shoulder.
"Yep," said Takeshi. He stepped into Takesushi and yelled, "Hey, Dad!"
"Takeshi, you're back!" cried Yamamoto as he walked out of the kitchen. Now Lambo frowned, because he knew that if Yamamoto came out from the kitchen, then Mamma would come out, and if Mamma came out then—
"Master! 哥哥!" yelled a red and yellow blur. I-pin stopped and bowed to Fon and then leapt like Lambo had earlier. 哥哥 shifted Lambo onto one arm instead of two to catch I-pin too. Lambo glared at I-pin but didn't say anything. He didn't want 哥哥 to put him down even if he put down I-pin too. I-pin didn't see Lambo's glare which did not turn into a pout because she was looking at 哥哥's stupid sad smile. "Why is 哥哥 sad?"
哥哥's smile went away, and Lambo scowled. It wasn't fair. How come stupid I-pin could do that but not Lambo? 哥哥 put on his serious face.
"I-pin," 哥哥 started, and Lambo suddenly didn't want to be like I-pin. 哥哥's smile came back a little, but his eyes looked like they wanted to cry. He opened his mouth, but it couldn't keep the smile or say anything. 哥哥 gulped and tried again. "I…I need to talk to you later. Okay?"
An arm surrounded 哥哥's shoulder, and Lambo didn't need to look to see that it was Takeshi. Sometimes Lambo liked Takeshi, especially when he was like 哥哥's 哥哥.
"After our sleepover, of course," said Takeshi. "Ready to lose at Velocity Dash?"
"哥哥 only ever loses to Lambo-sama!" yelled Lambo, slapping Takeshi's arm off 哥哥's shoulder. He really didn't like the big meanie face!
"That's because I've never played. You'd be surprised what a girl can do when all her cousins are boys and family reunions are a yearly requirement." 哥哥 froze, and Lambo peeked over his shoulder. The mean lady was back. "But before we start have any kind of fun, you and I have to have that lecture we've put off."
"Can't it wait a little longer, Hana? Tsuna's had a rough day," said Takeshi with a grin and his hand behind his head.
"So have I. Technically, I should be in bed, but I figured I can rest here as much as I can at home thanks to Irie-kun. He's taking to his training like a fish to water," said the mean lady. "Speaking of his skills, I believe someone has been wanting to see you."
A pretty lady with long purple hair and a white bandage on her face walked carefully out from behind the mean lady. 哥哥 looked over his shoulder too and then his eyes grew super big.
"Nagi!" 哥哥 cried, and Lambo felt like he would fall out of 哥哥's arms. The pretty lady gave 哥哥 a small but real smile, and carefully and quickly 哥哥 put Lambo and stupid I-pin down. He walked over to the pretty lady, his large brown eyes shrinking into orange slits. Lambo decided he didn't like the pretty lady either because 哥哥's shoulders fell. Lambo couldn't really see 哥哥's face from the floor, but he knew that the stupid smile was back.
"I'm glad you're okay," said 哥哥. Lambo suddenly wanted to cry, and no matter what stupid Reborn said the great Lambo-sama was not a crybaby. So he bit his lip instead. 哥哥 kept talking and making it harder for Lambo not to cry, "I know Hana and the others have done a good job taking care of you—"
"Enough," interrupted the mean lady meanly. She didn't look at 哥哥. Her arms were crossed, and her hands were turning white on the knuckles. "You don't get to keep doing this."
"Hana, maybe we should go help Dad—" Takeshi started but didn't finish saying.
"No. Don't you start," growled the mean lady. "Don't cover for him. I want him to understand for once what we feel. I want him to know how it feels to be left out of the loop, to not know what is going on and be completely unable to fix it. To stand around wondering how he could have not known that the person he cares about was in danger, to ask why they wouldn't trust him enough to tell him, to let him help."
The mean lady stared right at 哥哥, but for once she didn't look scary. Her eyes were too wet for her to look anything but sad.
"I want him to understand how it hurts not to be able to trust someone the way you want to because they have snuck behind your back and done something stupidly dangerous and you were too late to even try to stop them. That the fact that they're okay afterwards means little when you realize that they can and will do it again all in the name of keeping you and others safe. I want him to see that keeping someone safe means nothing when they would do anything to protect you too and they don't get a chance. That they can help you too. That if you disappeared…if you died while they weren't…because you didn't…because you couldn't…."
The words turned into a soft crying sound, and the mean lady covered her mouth. 哥哥 moved nearer the mean lady who didn't look mean or weak with wet cheeks, but then she held up her hand. Wiping her cheeks, the mean lady held it in.
"As I said, we'll both be recovered in a week or so. I took care of it because you had enough on your plate. Nagi became our friend too while she was here, and none of us were going to let her die. End of story. Now, I believe we have a party of sorts to prepare," said the mean lady. She stood so straight that Lambo almost didn't see her red eyes.
"Hana," said 哥哥 softly.
"Yes?" said the mean lady in the same way Vince did when he wanted Lambo to answer right-right now.
The others started to move to the kitchen to get snacks, and Lambo started to go with them but 哥哥 wasn't moving. 哥哥 grabbed the ends of his sleeves before standing as straight as the mean lady.
"I made a promise to I-pin that I'm going to bring Tama-kun back with me. I don't know how except for getting stronger, but…I can't do it without help. I'm glad…I'm glad I have your help."
Everyone was staring at 哥哥, and warm brown eyes saw everyone, even Lambo, before 哥哥 smiled a very small but really happy smile. Maybe Lambo could like the mean lady. She had a small, happy smile too.
Bonus: I want to thank Sofi Weiny for sharing her fanart with me. If anyone wants to see it, follow the very interrupted link (take out the hashtags): h#t#t#p#:/#/#/#fiyon#.deviantart#.co#m/