Disclaimer: I do not own KHR. If I did Tsuna would be a true super uke and smarter, sorry as much as I love and will write about the lovable idiot, Goku and Naruto have made it so too many main characters are idiots.

Summary: What if Tsuna was smart, like genius hacker smart, but decided to hide it behind an average student exterior.

Chapter 32: Epilogue: Buying Time

Tsuna had skillfully avoided having to explain how he got the letter by saying he only wanted to have to explain things once, with Nono present. Since Nono was unconscious and due to be taken back to Italy for better treatment, Tsuna though he bought himself at least a week.

Yeah right.

"Do I have to?" Tsuna whined as he packed his duffle bag. "I mean, shouldn't we wait for Nono to wake up?"

"Tsuna…"

Tsuna sighed at Reborn's stone-faced expression; there was no way he was getting out of this. Only two days since the Thunder match and Reborn was shipping him and his Guardian's off to Italy.

"Does it really matter how I got the letter?"

"Yes."

"But-"

"Just pack the damn bag."

Tsuna grumbled but kept packing. He'd already resigned himself to giving up the secret, but that didn't mean he didn't want to enjoy a little more time. Even now, the prospect of even just a few Vongola big wigs knowing the truth scared Tsuna, he didn't want to give up the freedom he'd fought so hard for.

Once Nono and Reborn knew the truth, Tsuna was certain his life in Japan would be over. While that in itself wasn't too bad, he was worried about his Guardians, particularly Mukuro. What would happen if the mafia world found out the Mukuro, Akira, Ken, and Chikusa were remnants of the Estraneo famiglia? Would the Vendici get involved?

Tsuna took a deep breath and tried to calm his now racing heart and mind. It wouldn't do him, or any of his Guardian's, any good to get too anxious. Tsuna knew he couldn't afford to let all of the stress to get to him, not when the lives and freedom of others depended on his ability to stay calm. Not that knowing that made the problem go away or the stress any easier to manage.

"The others will be coming to, right?"

"Of course." Reborn sipped his espresso with a contemplative look on his small face. "You are now the official successor, so you cannot be separated from your Guardians for too long, especially not right now." Seeing Tsuna's confusion he continued. "You may have proved yourself in many aspects that are essential for a leader: strength, determination, tactics, and resourcefulness, but you also showed a side that will make others question your ability to make difficult decisions. You showed kindness."

Tsuna winced. He knew saving Lambo, effectively forcing his plans forward, and sparing Xanxus could come back to bite him in the ass, but at the time he didn't care. To him, he had no other option but to save Lambo, not doing so would go against everything he believed, and killing Xanxus would have served no purpose.

"I was just…" Tsuna rubbed the bridge of his nose, a budding migraine making itself known. "I was just trying to do the right thing."

"I know that." Reborn looked him squarely in the eyes as he spoke. "But that's the problem, making decisions based on ethics is not acceptable for a mafia boss." He held up his hand to keep Tsuna from interrupting. "Nono may be kind, but he knows when killing someone, even a member of the family, should be done no matter his moral objections." Reborn took another sip of his espresso, his facial muscles tensing with an emotion Tsuna couldn't identify. "It is likely that Nono's leadership will be called into question as well, considering the gravity of the situation."

"But there isn't anyone else." Tsuna sat on his bed next to Reborn, Akira lifting his head only to lay it on Tsuna's lap. "It doesn't matter if they don't approve because Nono, father, and I are the only ones with blood of Vongola."

"This is true." Reborn gave Akira a gentle scratch behind the ear, enjoying the purr he got in response. "However, if you look at it that way, then other famiglia's will have difficulty accepting your authority, seeing as how you were a last resort pick." His mouth curved into a frown. "It's been made even worse by the fact that both Squalo and Lussuria have been found to still be alive."

"So we're back to square one… all because I let Xanxus live and my Guardian's couldn't kill their opponents."

"Not exactly."

"How so?"

"You may have put yourself back a few steps, but the advisors have acknowledged your potential." Tsuna's shoulders sagged a little, feeling slightly relieved. "It'll be difficult, but you'll have to force them to truly acknowledge you as a full leader, and not just a stand in until the next generation. This trip to Italy will actually do you some good if you make full use of it."

"I know."

"But you're still uncomfortable."

"I just…" Tsuna stood and walked over to his open window. "I've been keeping secrets since I was a little kid. Secrets I've only let a few people know about. It just feels kind of… scary to let it all out."

"Tsuna." Reborn jumped to the floor and moved to stand behind Tsuna. "I'm going to ask you this once and only once, but I want an honest answer."

Tsuna leaned back slightly, a little startled. He knew what Reborn was going to ask, but…

"What?"

Should he answer? He'd said he'd wait until Nono was awake, but Reborn…

"Are you Yoshie?"

"Reborn deserved to know, he really did. Tsuna knew Reborn wouldn't use it against him, hell; he'd do whatever it took to help Tsuna. Reborn was there to help him, but…

"No."

Tsuna wanted to cling just a bit longer.

"We leave the day after tomorrow."

"Then why did-"

"To teach you to be prepared."

Tsuna never felt so guilty for lying as he did in that moment as he watched Reborn's retreating figure.

KHRKHRKHR

A few hours later found Tsuna sitting at the table, one of the only pieces of furniture still in the house, with Nana and Iemitsu. This was another conversation he'd been dreading. Iemitsu wanted Tsuna to be there when he finally told Nana the truth.

"Nana… what do you think I do for a living?"

Nana tightened her grip on her cup of hot tea. Tsuna could see a small crease forming in her brow as she tried to think of what to say.

"You told me you were working in oil fields and coal mines around the world." Iemitsu winced as she stressed the word "told." "But I figured out that wasn't the case a long time ago. I know you've been hiding something from me."

"Nana…"

"I know it's dangerous, but I don't know why. I know you had to keep it a secret, but I don't know why. I know you thought you were protecting me, but I don't know why!"

Even Tsuna winced at the hint of betrayal in her voice. Even though he always wanted Iemitsu to come clean, her words still made him feel guilty for never saying anything about his own… extracurricular activities.

"Nana… I- I'm a… Mafioso."

The look of utter betrayal on Nana's face was heart breaking.

"You're a… criminal?"

"Sort of." Iemitsu winced. "The Vongola is more like a… slightly lucrative business than a total criminal enterprise. We… sort of keep others from causing too much chaos."

Tsuna couldn't hold in the snort that made its way into his throat. He ignored the sidelong glance Iemitsu sent him and tried to clean up the mess.

"Mom." Nana's watery eyes settled on Tsuna. "The Vongola, the name of the mafia family, is the biggest and most powerful mafia family in the world, and it does serve a purpose." Tsuna rubbed the bridge of his nose again. "It's pretty important that it stay active, but the current boss, who's getting old, doesn't have any heirs. That's why a lot of people were relieved when they found out Ie- Dad is a distant blood relative of the current boss." Tsuna tried to ignore Nana's sharp intake of breath. "The reason we're telling you this now is… I've been picked as the next boss."

"No!"

Tsuna jumped at the sharp declaration, even though he'd been expecting it.

"Nana-"

"No! My baby will not be dragged into some criminal underworld." Her eyes were fierce, the hesitation and weariness was replaced by righteous anger and determination. "Get out! As long as you want to make my son a mafia boss, you won't be welcome here."

Tsuna waited a few minutes for Iemitsu to say or do something, but just ended up sighing when it became apparent that Iemitsu would only hang his head in shame.

"Mom."

"Go to your room and pack the rest of your things. We're moving into the new house in a few days and you're-"

"Mom!"

Nana blinked in surprise but paused in her rant to worry her lip. Tsuna knew she only did that when stressed and winced. He didn't like causing her any undo strain.

"I already agreed. There isn't anything that can be done to stop it, not anymore."

It was strange how the crestfallen look on his mothers face didn't ignite the same gnawing guilt that had assaulted him when he lied to Reborn. If anything, he felt relieved.

KHRKHRKHR

Tsuna sighed as he made his way home from Namimori. After being out for two weeks, he got to go to school for one day before he had to leave again.

The last day before their scheduled trip to Italy was oddly peaceful. No one tried to attack Tsuna or any of his Guardians, and Reborn hadn't tried to ask him any more questions. The peace put Tsuna in mind of the Paux Romana.

Basically the calm before the storm.

Rather than giving him reason to relax, Tsuna was on edge, especially around Nana. Like everything else, the situation with her seemed to have been resolved, but Tsuna knew better. Nana was angry, angry and worried a dangerous combination for a mother. While she hadn't argued after Tsuna confessed to agreeing, perhaps realizing it was beyond her control, but Tsuna could see the strain in her movements and speech whenever Iemitsu was around. She hadn't even argued when Iemitsu said he was taking Tsuna to Italy, and that worried Tsuna more than anything.

Tsuna sighed again as he felt a familiar weight land on his shoulder as he turned onto his street.

"Stressed?"

"You could say that."

Reborn jumped down to walk beside Tsuna. Tsuna couldn't see it, but he could feel Reborn's eyes raking over his form, as if trying to determine something.

"Tsuna-nii!"

Tsuna and Reborn paused and looked up to see Lambo running toward them, I-Pin and Fuuta following closely behind.

"Lambo…"

He'd be going back to Italy with them.

"Tsuna-nii! Is it true, are we really going to Ita-"

Tsuna's small smile quickly became a look of concern as Lambo tripped and fell, the Ten Year Bazooka flying out of his afro… heading straight for Reborn.

"Not good." Reborn seemed frozen to the spot. "I can't move."

Tsuna watched in fascination as pink smoke surrounded the spot Reborn had just been standing in. He knew the Arcobaleno had been looking for a way to break whatever curse kept them in their diminutive bodies, and this would let him see if they succeeded.

"…"

Tsuna waited for the smoke to clear… only to see nothing.

"Reborn?"

(A.N. Don't worry, I won't leave it here. I just decided to make this into a three part series. I've already had the climax of my Ring Conflict Arc, so continuing Hacker would seem kind of annoying. Instead of getting stuck in a loop of rising action, climax, falling action, repeat, I'm just going to break it up. The next part in the series will be Hacker: Future Conflicts. Stay tooned as Tsuna's secrets are no longer Reborn's number one priority.)