When things don't go according to plan
Xanxus entered his captain's office without knocking and was surprised to discover several people sleeping in there. Squalo was slumped on his desk, using a mountain of papers as an improvised pillow. Gioia was still lying on the couch, curled up under Squalo's Varia jacket. Xanxus noticed the girl seemed a little better than the previous day but still wore a slight frown on her face, probably due to the other brat sleeping on the couch. Bel had somehow managed to slip past Squalo's guard and was half-lying on Gioia, mumbling about peasants in his agitated sleep. Xanxus groaned. He hadn't been able to sleep very well lately because of the upcoming mission and he was definitely not happy to see other people sleeping when he couldn't.
"Wake up, you fucking trash!" he roared.
Squalo woke up with a start, immediately alert, while Bel mechanically drew out his knives and Gioia looked around her, confused.
"VOIIIIII! What the fuck, Xanxus? What do you want?!"
"I'm hungry, trash. Everybody's coming down for breakfast. Now."
"Can't you eat your fucking breakfast by yourself?!" roared Squalo.
"I said: now" Xanxus glared at his captain before turning away and leaving his first victims of the day.
"What the hell is wrong with him?" Squalo growled. "Okay, Gioia, get ready, we're… WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING HERE, BEL?!" Squalo was absolutely sure he had locked his office to prevent Bel from getting near Gioia and yet, the little genius had managed to sneak in.
"I wanted to see my peasant" pouted Bel. "Make sure she didn't die during the night. What will I do if I lose my toy?"
"She's not a toy, stupid brat!"
"Ushishishi, of course she is!" Bel smirked.
"What the hell is wrong with every one of you?! Gioia, say something!" Squalo paused, confused. "Where is she?"
Xanxus headed to the kitchen to make sure they were preparing what he wanted to eat. After a few corridors, he noticed a faint presence behind him and half-smiled.
"You're getting better at hiding, brat."
"Not good enough to trick you…" Gioia pouted as she hurried to walk at Xanxus' side.
"You just can't trick me."
"Someday, I will!" the little girl stated with a strong determination that made Xanxus smile for the second time.
"Are you still sick, mini-scum?"
"I'm feeling better!" she assured with a smile.
"You should eat more meat, brat" Xanxus groaned. "Now, wait for me here."
They had arrived at the kitchen and Gioia did as she was told. A moment later, the door flung open and a cook crashed on the floor.
"You piece of trash!" Xanxus snarled as he came out of the kitchen, holding one of his guns. "I don't fucking care if you already made the usual meat! I said I wanted to eat some fucking waffles today!"
Before the unfortunate cook could react, Xanxus shot him twice, blood splattering on the walls. The Varia boss suddenly remembered Gioia was here but the little girl seemed unaffected. In fact, she had even backed away to avoid getting dirty. Despite her very young age, she had been quite used to corpses ever since her brother had decided to follow Xanxus. Plus the Varia boss had been very edgy lately so corpses had become common place and didn't surprise her anymore.
"I can make waffles for you if you want" she proposed, carefully avoiding the body to come up to Xanxus.
"Then, make some" he growled, grabbing the girl's wrist and drawing her closer. "I'm really hungry so you better make them quickly."
Gioia winced and Xanxus noticed the painful look on her face. He frowned, confused. He wasn't holding her wrist that hard and she was a tough one so he rolled up the sleeve to take a look. Hidden under the clothes he discovered a clear bruise that circled her wrist like a bracelet.
"Nothing!" the little girl snapped, trying to get away from his grip.
Xanxus looked down at her for a moment then let go. He had seen enough in his life to know that this bruise had been caused by ropes or handcuffs. However, if she didn't want to tell him, that was fine. It was none of his business and he didn't give a fuck anyway. Lately, anything that could distract him from the upcoming mission was welcomed so he had just been curious about why a harmless 6 year old girl would have been tied up.
"Fine, brat. Now, go make me some waffles before I shoot you like that trash."
Xanxus prepared himself to take out his gun when the door opened. Who was stupid enough to bother him during his nap? He opened one angry eye and sighed when he recognized the intruder.
"Weren't you supposed to leave, brat?"
Gioia didn't answer, just staring at him.
"What the fuck, brat?" groaned Xanxus, starting to get annoyed.
"Are you picking a fight, trash?!"
He finally got up and approached the girl, ready to strike. That's when Gioia finally decided to react and flung her arms around Xanxus' leg in a tight hug. The Varia boss stopped dead.
"Can you promise me something, Boss?"
The ridiculous question brought back Xanxus to his senses.
"Why the fuck" he said as he tried to take off the girl "would I do that, brat? And just let go of…"
Xanxus froze. Gioia was looking up at him and he suddenly felt overwhelmed by the emotions filling her eyes. She usually would look at him with respect and even affection sometimes. However at this moment, although her face reflected a deep pain, begging him to help, her big grey eyes seemed to blame him, making him feel uncomfortable.
"What do you want?" he capitulated, wishing she would soon let go of him.
"Promise you will all come back."
"Huh? Are you joking?" he smirked. "We're the Varia, mini-scum! Do you seriously believe there's a fucking chance we'll fail?!"
"Promise!" she insisted.
"Alright!" he growled. "We'll come back."
Xanxus had easily guessed that the girl was mainly worried about her brother, although he knew she somehow cared about all of them, even Levi. He wanted to scream at her that Squalo was responsible for his own actions and that he could take care of himself. Hell, that trash of a captain would die from embarrassment if his boss was looking after him. But Xanxus had just realized that Gioia was blaming him for putting her brother in danger and taking him away from her. And this was the first time that she was showing her true feelings, the first time that he fully realized how important her brother was to her.
"I promise we'll come back, brat" he repeated, defeated.
Gioia's face softened with a smile, the look fading away.
"Thank you, boss" she murmured.
"Now let go" he urged.
"No!" she grinned, locking her arms around him even tighter.
"What. The. Fuck. Mini. Scum" Xanxus growled as he tried to remove the parasite from him. But she was clinging on him with more force he had imagined so he considered taking his gun and made a few steps toward his desk, dragging her along and cursing her.
"VOIIIIIII!" Squalo burst into the office, furious. "Here you are! I've been looking for you for ages! … What the hell are you two doing?"
"Trash!" snapped Xanxus. "Remove your sister from me before I shoot her!"
"VOIIII! Gioia, let go right now!"
Squalo rushed toward her and grabbed her wrist. Gioia winced and let go of Xanxus who could finally breathe normally.
"Now go to the car!" Squalo barked. "We're leaving!"
Gioia said nothing and left the room with a last glance at Xanxus who was frowning at his captain.
"What is it now?" growled Squalo who had immediately noticed Xanxus' look.
"Something's wrong with your sister, trash."
"Voiii! Nothing's wrong with her!" snapped the shark. "She sometimes likes to hug people because she's more human than all of us put together, that's all!"
"I wasn't talking about that, idiot! I think she's got problems. Her wrists."
"What the fuck are you talking about?" Squalo responded, apparently growing impatient. "Something's wrong with you!"
"Whatever, trash" sighed Xanxus who was starting to get a headache. "Now, get out. I need my nap."
"Stop making that face" Squalo sighed. "They said he wasn't here so there's nothing you can do about that."
"You don't understand!" grumbled Gioia. "I haven't seen Dino lately because he was busy with someone. I just wanted to stay a few days with him… while you were gone for the mission."
"Someone?" Squalo raised an eyebrow. "That idiot got himself a girlfriend?"
"Why do you want to see that trash anyway?"
"I feel lonely at home…"
"Just ask old Tanaka to play with you!" Squalo was trying hard to be interested in his sister's rant but his patience was running out quickly.
"He left weeks ago…" sighed the little girl.
"He was tired again" she explained.
"Tired… again? What the hell does that mean?"
"I don't know. That's what Father told me. He was tired once again. I didn't see Tanaka before he left…"
"Tired once again… once again… Wait, you mean he retired?"
"Yes, that's what Father said!"
Squalo stared at his sister before bursting out laughing. She pouted and punched his arm as he tried to compose himself again. Gioia's mistake wasn't that terrible but she usually was so smart for her age that catching her off guard was just too enjoyable for him.
"Haha, Gio, I haven't laughed like this in months!" He ruffled her hair affectionately. "Anyway, you just have to endure it for a few days and then I'll come home as soon as I'm finished with this mission!"
"Really?" she looked up at him, her eyes full of expectations.
"Yeah! And be prepared! We're going to do some exercises! Maybe I'll teach you the bases for sword fighting… if you behave" he added, with a smirk.
The car stopped and Gioia got out, beaming.
Squalo forced a laugh and winced because of the effort. Everything had just gone so wrong.
He had been aware that although the attack had been thoroughly planned, they would end up improvising. Without surprise, some had disobeyed like Bel who had left a trail of fresh blood behind him. Lussuria had fulfilled his role, although Squalo had expected him to fight and not scare away his opponents with his shady taste for corpses. Everything was going more or less well until they reached the core of the Vongola mansion. And Squalo had immediately noticed something was wrong. The Vongola were prepared; they knew the Varia was coming.
And that was not part of the plan.
Squalo closed his eyes and allowed himself five seconds to let the guilt and the panic take control over him. The Vongola had been warned. Xanxus had been stopped. The whole mission had been a total disaster. Squalo had failed. He had failed his boss, failed as a captain.
Squalo's eyes snapped open. Maybe the Vongola had stopped Xanxus and his plan but Squalo was still the Varia's captain and his men still needed him. With a newly found energy, he got back on his feet and ran through the mansion, trying to contact his officers. Lussuria was the first one to answer and listened carefully to Squalo's orders without interrupting.
"Got it, Captain. I'll take my leave now" said Lussuria before ending the call.
Levi was more trouble. It took Squalo five long minutes to explain to the desperate man that he had to abandon his boss for now if they wanted to limit the damages. Squalo couldn't help feeling a bit sorry for the ass-kissing moron as he heard his voice breaking when he finally agreed to leave the Vongola headquarters. Next one was Bel but Squalo remembered that the brat had said a radio wasn't royal enough for him so he had probably thrown the device away. Squalo swore as he tried to contact the last officer.
"Mu, what do you want, Squalo?"
"Stop whatever you're doing!" roared Squalo to cover the screaming he heard coming from the radio. Mammon was probably busy toying with some unfortunate people's minds. "You need to get out!"
"What are you talking about? Where's Boss?"
"He… He's been defeated. Now, listen" Squalo added, without giving time to Mammon to react. "You need to find Bel and get him out of here, okay?
"What? He can take care of himself!" complained the Arcobaleno.
"He's still an 8 year old kid! Just find him and get him out of here! That's an order!"
"Mu, why do I always have to take care of brats?!" growled Mammon as Squalo ended the conversation.
Squalo let out a slight sigh of relief. The Varia officers should all be able to get out of this shitty situation. Now he had to send a message to all the Varia members present in the Vongola headquarters and tell them to retreat. He had to save as many of his men as he could. That was his duty as the Varia's captain.
Gioia left the cupboard where she was hiding, a relieved smile on her face. Somewhere in her heart, she knew her brother was back. She ran downstairs but froze when she arrived in the hall. As always, she had been right and Squalo was indeed back home. However, he was now facing their father and they both appeared ready to fight.
"Get the hell out of here!" hissed Pastiello Superbi, a look of contempt distorting his face.
"Are you kicking me out of my house, you bastard?" shouted Squalo, waving his sword at his father.
"This is my house, boy!" roared Pastiello. "And I know all about that stupid mission of yours! Attacking the Vongola? Are you fucking serious? How did you end up being such a failure?! Huh?"
Gioia gasped as she saw Squalo's expression. She had never seen her brother that hurt. For one second, she feared he would lose control and attack their father.
"Fuck you" Squalo finally whispered before turning around and heading to the door.
Gioia desperately ran to her brother and grabbed his arm, making tremendous efforts not to cry. She had a bad feeling about this; something was wrong. Fear pervaded her whole body, cold sweat running down her back.
"FUCK OFF!" roared Squalo, roughly pushing her arm away.
Speechless, Gioia watched her brother leave the house. As the door closed behind Squalo, she felt a sharp pain tearing apart her heart. Cold tears poured down her face as she realized she has been abandoned.
"There you are, you ungrateful child…"
The little girl came back to her senses with a start and followed her primal instinct: run for her life.
Squalo glared at his phone. It had been three days since the Vongola fiasco and he had ended up staying with Lussuria, cutting himself from the world. He had finally decided to switch on his phone and it was already ringing. Squalo groaned when he saw the caller ID and finally took the call with a sigh.
"Voiii, what do you want, idiot?"
"Have you heard about Gioia?"
Squalo frowned. Usually, Dino would greet him and talk about irrelevant stuff that would piss off Squalo but this time, his question was too abrupt and Squalo could clearly hear panic in his friend's voice.
"No, I just turned on my phone. What happened?!"
"Go home immediately! Maybe you can be there before me! And check your damn voicemails!"
Without adding anything else, Dino hung up, leaving a dumbfounded Squalo. For a few seconds, Squalo didn't know what to do. Dino's panic was slowly affecting him and he didn't dare check his voicemails. He was too scared to listen to them. With great efforts, he finally dialed the voicemail number and listened with apprehension.
"You have twelve new messages."
Squalo froze, recognizing his little sister's voice.
"Why don't you answer? Nii-chan, please answer… I stole a phone to call you… I'm hiding in the cellar and it's cold and I'm hungry… and I think he'll find me soon."
Gioia's voice broke at this point, making Squalo's blood run cold.
"Because he's really angry after what happened with you… Can you please come back, Nii-chan? … Please…"
Before the message was even over, Squalo had already left, praying that his sister was okay.
It took Squalo thirty minutes to get there and with each minute passing, he felt more scared and angry. When he finally arrived in front of his former home, Squalo hesitated. What was waiting for him in there? Was his sister okay? Was it too late? Squalo suddenly realized how he had completely abandoned his sister in the past few months. Ever since that day he had met Xanxus, he had gone further and further away from her. And now, he was paying the price.
Squalo froze as he heard a high-pitched scream coming from the garden. As he ran to where the scream was coming, Squalo could only think about one thing: was Gioia's voice that high-pitched? He finally arrived at the back garden and recognized his father, bending over the fountain.
"What the fuck…?" whispered Squalo.
As he drew nearer, he felt like his head was going to explode. Pastiello Superbi was not alone. Squalo saw a crying Gioia getting back on her feet with difficulty, then trying to get away from her tormenter before her father grabbed her hair and forced her head under water.
Squalo gasped. He should have known it. There were signs. Dino had warned him numerous times. Gioia never talked about their father, changing subjects or avoiding questions. And then, there was this stupid cold she had caught although it was warm and sunny outside. Even Xanxus had tried to warn him. And what had he done? Nothing.
Blinded by rage, Squalo approached his father, his sword ready to spill blood.
"You bastard…" snarled Squalo, out of his mind.
Pastiello started and slowly turned. When he saw his son's expression, the old man turned deathly pale. He immediately let go of the little girl and took a few steps away, trying to compose himself and look confident.
"Now, calm down, Squalo" he said slowly.
"Calm down?" Squalo smirked. "This is the last straw, you fucking bastard. You just made a terrible mistake. You dare touch my little sister."
Pastiello chose that moment to run away but before he could even make one step, his enraged son was already behind him, sticking a sword in his thigh. With inhuman force, Squalo stuck the sword in the ground and removed it from his mechanical hand. With a grim smile, he watched his father scream his lungs out, trying to remove the sword from his leg.
"Now you stay here for awhile," Squal advised. "I'll deal with you later."
Pastiello fell silent as he realized he was probably living the last few minutes of his life. With a last look of disgust at his father, Squalo turned and rushed to the fountain. Gioia was no longer screaming, half-crying, half-coughing water. Squalo winced as he saw her right leg appeared to be broken. The cruel bastard had made sure she wouldn't be able to run away from him. With extreme care, Squalo bent over the fountain and took his sister in his arms. Feeling a twinge in his heart, he suddenly remembered the first time he had carried his baby sister. Back then, he had found her so tiny and vulnerable. Now that he was holding her again, he realized that she wasn't the invincible girl he thought she was. Gioia was bawling in his arms, one hand holding her injured leg, the other one holding Squalo's shirt.
"I'm sorry, Gioia" Squalo whispered in Gioia's ear, rocking her in his arms. "Don't worry, Dino will arrive soon. He's going to take care of you. Please wait for him, Gio, please…" Squalo's voice broke, a single teardrop falling on his sister's face.
Dino got out of the hospital room, his smile immediately fading away. Two months had passed since the accident. Dino clearly remembered when he had found a bewildered Squalo carrying his injured little sister who wouldn't stop crying. Dino's first reaction had been to be relieved to find Gioia alive. The girl had tried to call him for help but Reborn had decided to train on a mountain for a few days, forbidding Dino to bring a phone. When he had heard the desperate messages, Dino had immediately called Squalo and had feared the worst. However, he hadn't imagined that she would have ended up like this.
Ever since the accident, Gioia's health had deteriorated and she now looked like a living corpse. Although the cast had been removed from her broken leg a month ago, she wouldn't do recovery exercises and was barely eating. Dino was trying to visit her regularly to talk to her and encourage her but with Reborn's harsh training, he didn't have enough time. What frustrated him the most was the fact he knew exactly what he should do to help Gioia. But Squalo was nowhere to be found. After they had carried Gioia to a hospital, he had just left, muttering about something he had to deal with. That day, both Squalo and his father had disappeared. Dino knew his friend was probably guilt-ridden and couldn't face his sister. But Gioia would never recover if her brother wasn't there for her.
Dino punched the wall out of anger.
"I can't do anything for her!" he sobbed.
"Oi, stupid Dino! A mafia boss shouldn't cry like an idiot! Let's go home for now!"
Dino looked down at his tutor, ready to talk back, but he knew Reborn was aware of his distress and that training would appease Dino's mind a little. With a last sigh, Dino nodded and followed the Arcobaleno, without noticing the three peculiar people at the other end of the corridor.
Squalo entered the room, silently closing the door behind him. With careful steps, he approached the bed and felt his heart sink when he saw his sister. Gioia's face was a ghastly pallor and she was so thin that Squalo was afraid he would break her bones if he touched her. Her usually twinkling grey eyes were now hollow and even the colour seemed to have faded. Squalo took a deep breath and closed his eyes, trying to gather up some courage. He had finally managed to come; he shouldn't run away now.
Squalo looked at his sister, surprised at how happy he felt just by hearing Gioia's voice after two months without her.
"Hey, brat" said Squalo with a faint smile. "You look terrible…"
This sounded so stupid and insensitive that Squalo just felt like dying. However, it was as if someone had switched on the light in Gioia's eyes and she suddenly looked alive.
"You're so late, Nii-chan" she reproached him, her face slowly brightening with a smile.
"I'm sorry, Gio…" Squalo looked down, avoiding her eyes.
"It's okay" she said in a soft voice. "Can I stay with you now?"
"Aren't you angry at me, brat?" Squalo couldn't help asking.
"Of course I am" answered Gioia, her words stabbing through Squalo's heart. "You left me in this hospital for two months. Two months. That's not really nice of you. So can I leave with you now?"
Squalo fought against the tears which were about to roll down his face. Did he really deserve her? Before he could find an answer, the door flung open, making both of them jump.
"Peasants! I am tired of waiting outside. And I want to go home as soon as possible. So hurry up and let's leave this foul place!"
Squalo and Gioia stared at Bel, baffled.
"Mu, I told you to wait a bit longer!" Mammon entered the room, annoyed. "I already explained to you this was a difficult situation! Why don't you listen!?"
"Silence, baby peasant!" snapped Bel before turning to Gioia and Squalo. "I said, let's leave!"
"Voiiiiiii! I don't give a fuck about what you say, stupid brat!" roared Squalo, taking advantage of Bel's interruption.
"I'm sorry, Bel" Gioia chuckled. "But I can't walk…"
A sadistic grin appeared on Bel's face as he took out some of his beloved knives. Squalo immediately grabbed the boy and threw him at the wall.
"Enough with your knives, you insane brat! And you!" Squalo turned to his sister with a smirk. "You better be ready because I'll personally take care of your recovery and we'll start sword fighting training! And trust me, brat, you'll regret ever asking me to train you!"
Gioia's surprised expression slowly changed to a broad smile, healing the gaping hole Squalo had felt in his heart for the last two months.
Yep, final chapter it is! I hope the chapter wasn't too long and that you enjoyed it :) Most of you probably don't remember but this was supposed to be a prequel to another fic! I still don't know if I'm going to continue though. [update: The sequel is up! ^^]
I'd like to say a big thank you to PsychedelicFlame who took time to read and correct every chapter and who helped me a lot to improve myself :)
And of course, thank you to everyone one of you who took time to read this, I'm always very happy when I see a new follower or a new review, so THANK YOU.
Have a nice day! ^^