I know that some people preferred this as a one-off fic with Tsuna and his guardians, and I feel that they deserve the ending they wanted (my original ending) so here it is. This chapter is only for the people who don't want to read the sequel, who wanted this story as just this and nothing more. Of course you can read it if you're interested in what the ending was originally meant to be, but it'll be rather repetitive of the official ending of this fic now.
Thank you; please excuse my atrocious spelling, grammar, and use of tense.
Fated strings and charming things.
Never broken only frayed
Tsuna had been astounded by what was happening, because it didn't really seem real. Not until Reborn handed him the small mahogany box, embossed with the elegant, refined crest of Vongola. The box that held the rings that proved Tsuna's position and ensured his seat in Vongola's throne.
His friends had gone to bed, it was late, going on twelve, no one really had the time or energy to spend in the living room that evening, Reborn had just run them through their paces.
He was a strict teacher. But he was kind and selfless. He was keeping his promise, and though they cursed and moaned and spat, Tsuna knew each one of his guardians was aware of that fact too. He was trying to make them strong, keep them standing. Keep them alive.
Tsuna was reading over some of the documents regarding Vongola's history, and it was fair to say with no exaggeration that Tsuna was disgusted and scared. It was such a dark, bloodies history, so many deaths and so much corruption. He imagined that Giotto was turning and writhing in his grave, crying tears only the dead and hindsight could shed. Reborn walked in with a grim expression and a little box.
He knelt before Tsuna, proud, poised and submissive. While the others would have scoffed at the thought of a submissive Reborn, Tsuna knew otherwise. Reborn was always submissive when they were alone, submissive but true, and he put Tsuna in his place- though rare given Tsuna's personality and resolve- when he became too lenient or too unaware of his surroundings and his declaration of bosshood. As he knelt, on his right knee with a stiff, proud and strong back, his fedora was pulled off in his free hand.
Tsuna found deep eyes looking back at him. They were far too deep, deeper than the colour should really allow. But they were magnificent. They sent thrills and power diving into Tsuna, because they were just those kind of eyes. Open, truthful with the right people and they told the promises the owner could not speak.
"I know you decided who your guardians are. I know you will not change your mind. I know you know I approve. But others will not. Take these. Give them to your guardians and show the world, tellVongola exactly who you are- who you all are- and what it is your going to do." Reborn was terse and tense, but when Tsuna watched him, never taking his eyes away, listening to Reborn and to no one else, well, Reborn found himself delightfully free.
"Reborn..." Tsuna took the box, amazed and awed by the feeling bubbling and cresting in his chest. As wrong and strange as it felt, it was amazing and breathtaking to have this much power under his wing, to have such an amazing man under his command. But at the same time, he did not feel that Reborn was under his command. Instead, Tsuna felt that Reborn was his comrade. Was his equal, his equivalent, the same, his friend, his family.
Taking the dark box with soft, gentle fingers, Tsuna ran his eyes first over the worn, carved surface. It was beautiful really, though there were stains all over it, ones he could tell, from feel and from the red trying and dying the surface that many lives had been lost to protect and dispatch the box, for he knew the stains were the blood of those sacrificed.
Moving with delicate care, Tsuna gently unravelled the red strings that were invisible to Reborn, but were painfully physical for him. They were tight, keeping the box closed and safe, it was obvious that the strings had followed this box its entire life and had seen more tragedy that it did joy. He knew his movements would be strange to Reborn, after all who would untie invisible strings? But Tsuna knew he had to be gentle, felt he needed to be intrinsically respectful of the red strings, because they signaled both the ending and the beginning of countless people's fates.
When the strings floated away, resting in the air around the box, ready to rewrap it once Tsuna's ministrations were complete, Tsuna opened the lid. Inside was a beautiful sight.
Eight rings sat within the red satin, bold and contrasting and beautiful.
"These are the Vongola rings. They represent the coming generation. You and your guardians each wear one, and with them no one can deny that you are the Decimo." Reborn passed, hope, fear, warmth flowing freely from his colourless string and even strength flowing from his face and body. "I'll be back in a few days. I hope by then, Dame-Tsuna, that you will have chosen your guardians wisely."
With that and a confident backwards wave Reborn left through the front door, as if he owned the house. Which, Tsuna supposed, he kind of did. Though Tsuna wished he didn't leave so soon, because Tsuna had a hundred thousand questions ringing in his brain and now they would be left unsatisfying unanswered.
Tsuna took the time to look over each ring, picking it up, memorising each curve each stain each beautiful sketching and each string that connected and encased the rings that were curiously shaped- as if missing a vital part of themselves.
First Tsuna removed the largest, central ring form its place. The ring was circular, obviously meant to be the boss' ring; it was the most colourful and brilliant of all the others. In the center was a large, blue gem that glimmered, and when the light hit just right as Tsuna rotated and observed the ring, the Vongola crest was visible from behind the gem. The words 'Vongola' and 'Famiglia' were pressed into the metal surrounding the ring along with six tiny, rectangular gems that were red, blue and yellow on one side, and green, indigo and violet on the other. Tsuna knew then that the rings were more precious in value than everything in Tsuna's home combined, maybe even more valuable than the home itself. They were antiques, he could tell, and they had been worn well. There were scratches over the surface, they were worn in places, but still exuded this mighty aura of power.
What interested Tsuna the most were the strings. A plethora of red knots lined the ring's curve, knotting, lacing, weaving before fluttering away, Tsuna could almost not see the silver of the metal, though he knew that it was there and it was what everyone else would see. However, amongst the red were three orange strings.
One was Tsuna's. That was obvious enough. He knew by now, after eighteen years of wearing the orange, glittering burningly brilliant string that the hue wrapping in a figure eight around the blue gem was his.
The second was a duller orange, darker, and Tsuna would say more of a red hue than a yellow. It was pretty, strong, and glowed with a brilliance that made Tsuna wish he glowed as steadily; almost as if the string were wise and aged. This string was wrapped around the ring's curve and darted quickly into the surrounding air before disappearing after two meters.
Finally, the third was thick, it was a brilliant orange that rivaled even the oranges of the sun set as the sun dipped and slept. The glittering, burning, flaming orange burned into Tsuna's mind, it made him want to wrap the string around his very soul it was so warm that it almost hurt. So beautiful in fact that it was near breathtaking. This string seemed to originate from the ring's core itself. It came from the crest behind the gem and instead of wrapping and knotting before flickering away it was incorporated into every string (there were seven others and ten including the two other orange) red or otherwise solidifying the fates of the bound strings to wear the ring and die by it.
Despite the chill that settled into Tsuna's bones when he thought of that, it was so beautiful that Tsuna wanted to cry.
Instinctively Tsuna slipped the ring onto his right hand, directly onto his middle finger, and the fit was almost natural. The ring was heavy with fate. Each string weighed on the metal base, and Tsuna's own fate was heavier still, because his fate was laden with questions and uncertainties.
Tsuna picked up another ring. This one was far less grand, it too was oddly shaped, looking to be a shield. Pressed into the metal with delicate care was what looked to be clams and a storm cloud. Surrounding the ring were red strings again, but there were three that seemed so much more brilliant than the bland, tired strings of ordinary fate.
One was a dull brilliance much like the stable orange of the 'Sky' ring, it held that aged wisdom that only the aged could possess, and it held an heir of inapproachability, much like someone who had seen too much in its years. It was as if the fate string was tired. This string held a glinting darkness and whiteness to it, very bright and very bold.
Second was a tired string. It was thick and originated from the storming shape in the center of the sting, within the rope were pink strands and strands f black, the scent of gunpowder wafted around the string and it too incorporated into all the other strings.
Finally was a string Tsuna knew all too well. Glittering with silver threads, the string was thick and wrapped in a figure eight around the shield of the string. Standing up from the couch, the box- now closed- resting safely under his arm, Tsuna followed the glittering, warm red string upstairs and towards the study where he was certain a certain bomber had secluded himself.
Opening the door and walking towards the slanted window on the far side, Tsuna sat himself before Hayato. The looped red and silver string gave a jerk of light and Hayato looked up on instinct, feeling- completely subconsciously- the tug of fate as Tsuna took his seat.
When green greeted brown, and a smile tugged at soft, pale lips, Tsuna watched as the smile fell and a shocked, painful expression filtered in instead. Hayato was staring at the extended ring in Tsuna's hand.
"Tsuna, do you know what that is?" Hayato's breath was testing, trying not to show pain, but trying not to give off that trained-in shallow chill the mafia demanded Hayato own.
"Yes and no. I know that this signified a member of my family." Tsuna replied carefully. He always found these word games tiring, and Tsuna imagined that Hayato was trying to teach him in his own subtle I-can't-teach-others-for-shit kind of way.
"This is the storm ring. It signifies the Vongola boss' right-hand man and storm guardian."
"Ah, I knew roughly that."
"Then why are you-"
"Gokudera Hayato, will you do me the honours of being my right-hand and storm?" for some reason Tsuna knew that this boy-man was going to grow and grow strong. He could think of no other to be 'continuously at the heart of the attack, the furious storm that never rests.'
Hayato was speechless of course. Though he had decided long ago to follow Tsuna wherever he decided to go, never had he imagined that Tsuna would choose him, him, to be the right-hand of Vongola. Hayato could only be honoured, awed, and let the tears well and fall. He had never been so relieved. He would not lie to himself; it made him sick to even think of anyone at Tsuna's side but him and their family.
It took Tsuna an entire hour to get Hayato calm enough to take the ring, and it was slid delicately onto Hayato's long, right middle finger immediately after. Hayato would continue to question Tsuna's decision for the week. Then he would simply put the effort into become the greatest right-hand in Vongola's history.
"Now," Tsuna began, "tell me more about these rings..."
After another hour of explanation, and some information about the characteristic of each ring and each guardian, Hayato excused himself to make dinner, and Tsuna excused himself too. A smile played on his lips as he fingered the ring with the tear-drop design.
"I have a duty to fulfil." He murmured as he left the bomber.
"See you at dinner, Juudaime." Tsuna laughed, because Hayato joked about never calling him Tsuna again. Tsuna had relented, "Only when we have 'professional' company Hayato."
Tsuna spun the blue stringed ring. Again it had three strings that seemed to mirror the ones on the other two rings. They were so odd and yet beautiful. Tsuna decided, as he looked in the box when Hayato was explaining various things, not to dwell on the other string yet, Tsuna followed the familiar string that held so much more than just blue.
"Takeshi can I talk to you?"
Tsuna entered Takeshi's room to find the teen polishing his sword. Reborn had started to train him in swordsmanship, giving him the bare essentials before telling him to confront his father if he wanted to get stronger. That had been a week ago.
"Sure Tsuna, what can I do for you?"
"I want to ask you how much you are willing to give up for this mafia thing." Tsuna was serious and Takeshi appreciated it; seldom were people - at school or home- serious with him.
"For you and this 'family' Tsuna, I'm willing to forfeit my life- but I will fight to stay alive to have more fun times with everyone." With laughter in his voice Tsuna knew all was well and that he had followed the right string to his left hand.
"Then Takeshi will you be my," he punctuated his speech with thought, 'blessed shower that settles conflict and washed everything away', "rain guardian?"
Takeshi stood; his stare harsh and deep to Tsuna's eyes. The browns were so warm and serious that Tsuna was left without words to describe them, but his body moved to where his words could not. His hand extended the ring and Takeshi took it and slid it onto his right hand.
"I'll be back for dinner Tsuna, can you tall Hayato he'll have to cook with Chrome tonight?" Takeshi asked. He grabbed his sword and a spare bat-bag where he slid the sword into and slung the whole thing onto his shoulder.
"Sure, you going to see your father?" Tsuna's smile returned, and Takeshi knew –though he already intrinsically knew anyway - that he was taking the right path.
"Ah, I think it's time he passed the family tradition down to me."
With that he was gone and Tsuna was on the way to see the troublesome twins.
"Kufufufu, it took you long enough to get to us Tsunayoshi." Mukuro chuckled as Tsuna entered Mukuro's room and took a seat on one of the soft black couches in the corner. He hadn't bothered to knock; the door would have been locked if Mukuro didn't want any intruders. Either way, Tsuna was always welcomed into the dark room.
"Sorry Mukuro, I don't play favourites, but if word got around to my right and left that they weren't the first people to get their rings it would have hurt them more than I could ever heal properly."
Tsuna relaxed back, tempted to take Chrome's offer of coffee.
"I think Tsuna's right, Mukuro, you know how Hayato and Takeshi are, besides, you had no doubt that Tsuna would choose us."
"Eavesdropping in the living room again last night Mukuro?"
Mukuro had the decency to look a little embarrassed. But Tsuna couldn't even find it in himself to feel mad. This was Mukuro after all. If Mukuro was concerned enough to hide his presence to protect Tsuna, well could Tsuna really rebuff him and yell? It made him feel loved to know he had a guardian that would go to such great lengths.
"Do I have to ask?"
"I wouldn't think so, Tsunayoshi." With that Tsuna reached into the box for the ring with the darkest indigo strings- though they still contained the lightened threads of his fate partner- and handed the silver jewellery off to Mukuro who promptly slipped it onto his finger and laughed in a way that warmed Tsuna.
"And you Chrome?"
"Do you really want me in your famiglia, Tsuna?"
"Without a doubt."
"Then I don't think you need to ask."
With that Chrome's own ring was placed gently into her outstretched hand and Tsuna left with the sideways comment to Chrome asking her to help Hayato with dinner. Mukuro held the official Vongola ring, the one that had once belonged to Daemon Spade, but Chrome held a ring just as official. Chrome wore Elena's ring, one that had been forged on Giotto's word when the woman became an integral part of the growing family. It was a more delicate ring with a thinner band and a ore stylised design on its shielded top.
"Of course Tsuna, I'll go downstairs to help now."
"Kufufufu, maybe I'll go help too."
"I'd like to ask that you don't Mukuro, repainting the walls and replacing the oven again is expensive and time-consuming."
Laughter followed Tsuna out of Mukuro's room and into the hall. 'Creating something from nothing, and nothing from something, thus bewildering the enemy and rendering the Famiglia's true form intangible with visions of deceit.' Tsuna found that his two guardians embodied and contradicted the ideal.
Tsuna was tempted to disturb Ryohei's training to give him his ring, but something told him that Kyouya would be the closest at hand at the moment. Seeing as the purple string was tightening warmly around his chest, Tsuna followed it out onto the rooftop where Kyouya was snoozing peacefully on the ground, arms folded behind his head and eyelids flittering relaxedly.
Tsuna took a seat next to Kyouya. He was the only member of the household- besides maybe Takeshi when Kyouya was feeling amiable- that could (was allowed it was up for debate) to sit with and disturb the pale, black-haired teen from his sleep. In fact, Tsuna was tempted to say that Kyouya enjoyed waking to Tsuna's presence, because Tsuna would swear that Kyouya's lips lifted pleasantly when he woke with Tsuna entering the room or sitting and reading in amiable silence.
"Omnivore, what do you want? I won't have you disturb my sleep, Kami Korosu." There was no threat in the words he spoke, instead there was only deep acceptance and invitation.
"How do you feel about being tethered to an omnivorous sky?"
After a four beat pause, "A cloud needs a home to return to that will give it its freedom."
Kyouya had been taking Reborn's lessons seriously- and Tsuna would find it ever amusing and comforting that Kyouya was also into philosophy. They had sat down in late evening more than once to debate over various topics that held no true answer. The debates were quiet and collected, but it balanced them both. Often their debates were over situations Reborn had given them, situations they would inevitably find themselves in in the near future with Tsuna as boss. Kyouya's clear head and unbiased views soothed and guided Tsuna towards decisions that weren't too ethically or morally challenging or damaging.
Tsuna stood and dusted his pants off before tossing a smirking- closed eyes Kyouya the tether he wished for and denied. The purple tethered ring glinted happily from his middle finger, and Tsuna was sure it would not move. Something as prised as the disciplinary band pinned to his flowing black jacket. 'The aloof, drifting cloud that protects the Family from an independent standpoint and who nothing can ever bind.' Tsuna was amazed again how contradicting, yet embodying his guardians were of their sudden duties. Must be fate right?
As Tsuna was walking to his room, figuring Lambo was just waking from his –not allowed by Nana- nap he was charged and stopped by a blinding aura of yellow that stunned him from his chest outward.
"Tsuna! I heard from tako-head TO THE EXTREME that you have something to give me!" his voice wasn't as loud as his aura, but Ryohei always had that warm air to him that proved to lull Tsuna and make him feel healed inside and out.
"Ah, did Hayato say anything else?"
"Yes! Tako-head said I was not ALLOWED to refuse, TO THE EXTREME!" and so Tsuna sighed and smiled.
"Do you want to refuse?"
"Not a chance Tsuna. You are family. I protect my family. It is as simple as that."
Tsuna couldn't argue with that. He didn't want to. He threw Ryohei the yellow knotted ring and could only hear exclamations of 'EXTREME' echo and shake the house as Ryohei went for his 'pre-dinner run' and Tsuna made his way to his own room for the final Guardian. Ryohei certainly is the type to 'destroy the misfortune that attacks the famiglia with his own body'. He will certainly become 'the sun that shines upon an area.'
The soft creek of the door was all that told those within the room that Tsuna had entered, of course, since the only occupant of the room was asleep, Tsuna supposed it didn't really matter.
To Tsuna's chagrin, Reborn was keeping his promise to top standards, he had begun to train Lambo from the start, and it was brutal, unforgiving and gentle.
Apparently all of Tsuna's siblings has interesting heritage, I-Pin and Lambo were the children of the youngest Bovino family daughter who's partner was a Chinese martial artist killed by the Chinese Triad when he had refused to help them with the child smuggling operations. She had fled to Japan to have her children- knowing they would be hunted by enemies, or killed by her father- where they were adopted almost immediately by Tsuna's mother. Because of his both had 'incredible potential' that according to Reborn would be a waste not to expand and build on. Within days of Tsuna's acceptance of being boss I-pin had been put in contact with a martial arts teacher and Lambo had been put through his own paces. Fury bubbled within Tsuna every time he thought about it; because Reborn used electricity to power Lambo's training. But, every time Tsuna tried to stop it, tried to get in the middle he was thrown out, shot at and beaten within an inch of unconsciousness, his weakness used as kindling for Lambo's growing, burning resolve.
"I will protect you Tsuna-nii; Lambo-sama is fine."
And how could he argue with that.
Of course, Fuuta did not escape the training. His lineage was special and strange. He came from a long line of Italians known for their intelligence and 'psychic' abilities. Soon after finding this information out Reborn contacted his 'friend' and had them contact Fuuta. The boy was taken out of school and home-schooled in a private school that was specific for Mafia-children with special characteristics. Soon enough the boy would harness his amazing abilities, and he had promised Tsuna up-down-left-right-and-around that he would be safe and would tell his 'Tsuna-nii' if he didn't like or want to do it anymore. Of course, that didn't really sooth Tsuna, and not even knowing Lambo and I-pin would join Fuuta in September was able to sooth him any.
Stroking fluffy, untamed black hair Tsuna slid the green roped ring onto Lambo's finger. It almost slid off but Tsuna saw the sudden tightness of Lambo's fist around the ring. The boy would not leave it. "I love you Lambo, please be strong. I will protect you too." Kissing the boy's forehead, Tsuna thought about the position and its suitability; fair to say with no exaggeration that Tsuna did not like it at all. 'To draw damage to himself and away from the famiglia, serving as a lightning rod.' No, Tsuna didn't like it at all.
As Tsuna walks away from Lambo's room, still questioning his sanity. Questioning his weak resolve. Because really, he wants to protect his friends and here he is signing their death certificates and handing their warrants to them as if they were cookies. He really was the worst kind of selfish- he was a destructive selfish that dragged others into his mess. As he was tormented by his thoughts others arose. Others that included the strangeness that was the ever growing fade of the tired and old strings that attached to each ring.
He watches each day as they all wait for Reborn's return, and he is amazed by two significant, harshly noticeable things.
Each one of the rings has four noticeable strings as well as easily forgettable, but respect demanding, red strings, however, one set grows dimmer as the days go on and the new 'generation' learns their lessons and grows visibly, metaphorically, and wholly stronger. The strings that seemed to aged and stable, wise beyond Tsuna's years, seem to dim, grow into the strange dank but burning colour of the other aged strings that originate from the rings' core. It was strange to Tsuna, seeing as he had never known a fate to weaken so significantly but still remain strong and bright and burning and beautiful.
The second is the phenomenon that he had only recently learned was possibly. That was fates being dictated by objects.
Each one of his guardians wore the ring everyday without exception. Every morning Tsuna would see the rings either on his guardians ringers, or stashed on chains hanging around their necks (the case for Ryohei and Takeshi due to sports, and Chrome because her fingers were slim and the ring caused her issues with day to day life). But as the days went on Tsuna noticed, to his astonishment and awe, that the two main strings, their own and the aged core strings, were beginning to sink their roots and solidify their influence into his guardians.
For those who wore their rings on their right middle finger, the strings webbed out, almost completely covering the ring itself as it webbed and cling around the finger and in some cases- Takeshi(when not on the necklace), Mukuro, Hibari, and Hayato- even as far as to web over their hand and wrists. It was eerie and creepy, but it looked like spiders webs, and Tsuna wouldn't be surprised if the strings wove under his guardians' skin too.
For those who wore the rings on necklaces, the strings wove around the chains the rings lived on, and eventually spidered and webbed up their neck and around their throat, on Chrome, the strings made a delicate lacy pattern all over her throat and over her collar bones, it looked like some dark, beautiful gothic neck piece, though, Tsuna could see that it unnerved Mukuro from time to time- it looked like some demented choke-collar. As if they were dogs for Tsuna's bidding and abuse.
Reborn arrived promptly within a week. Though he was cunningly curt, Tsuna saw the approval, and soon enough they dove headlong into their training. It was brutal, dangerous, and numerous times Tsuna screamed and tore verbally at Reborn to 'slow down' and 'can't you see you're killing them!'
Of course Reborn took all of it, used to the desperate, pathetic screeching of baby-bosses or trying to teach Tsuna, he responded with cold, calculating eyes staring into Tsuna's and not breaking contact. "Are you sure you're not the one killing them, Boss?"
It took two weeks for Tsuna to get over that one. It took three for him to eat properly again without images of his massacred friends popping up and sending him skittering to the bathroom.
All the other guardians were off doing their own, private training. It had been a month and they were all strong, stable, and had a constitution strong as diamond and flexible as clay. It was a beautiful thing to see and feel for Reborn between his hands. But today he was concentrating on Tsuna. Something he felt a rush and excitement in doing. Tsuna was always the most responsive, the most satisfying and fulfilling to train.
Tsuna stood in the middle of a rocky outcropping. His eyes were closed and his body lithe and relaxed. He had filled out satisfyingly over the month. He wasn't all hard and scarred, nor was he lean and averagely strengthened. No, Tsuna was magnificent. He was just perfect for where he should be. A familiar weight pulled at Reborn's hand as his partner settled into the familiar green form in his readied hand; Leon knew his mind as well as Reborn himself did.
Slicing air and moving strings touched Tsuna's far right perception. Moving, simply turning his body to the right, Tsuna avoided three bullets as they sliced past him and hit solid rock. The feeling was rushing, like adrenalin, but at the same time, feeling like sight. It was a rush, a mystery. Completely and utterly natural.
"Good Tsuna, feel that. Find the bullets. Find the place to move. Find your blood rite."
Tsuna opened his eyes. Reborn was satisfied to see them burning a bright, flaming, warm orange hue unnatural to the living, organic world. Only in the mafia, only in Vongola was such beauty possible.
"What blood rite, Reborn?" his voice was tinting with calm, self-assured depth. Just a little more.
Another bullet flew, but this one was not aimed to teach. The bullet twirled and spun and hit flesh with a hard knock and slammed Tsuna into the opposing rock with such force a large fissure found its way to the crest of the rocky cliff.
"Reborn, that wasn't nice." Sombre, self-assured tone met Reborn's trained ears, and with a sizzle and satisfactory warmth he watched warm brown blend and glow into warm, endless orange that offset the bloodied setting sun. The tone was deep and warm and all-encompassing.
"I'm here to train you, Dame-Tsuna, not to be nice."
Fedora pulled down, relieved, reassure smile covered, reborn continued his training. So much to do in so little time. "Just perfect."
Reborn watched; he saw Tsuna fight and Tsuna cry. He watched the guardians break and the guardians be built up yet again. He couldn't pinpoint the feeling bubbling in his chest; he couldn't tell you, or even himself, the name of the emotion he felt when he saw how hard Tsuna was fighting this fate. But he liked it. It made him feel unbeatable.
Reborn was the kind of man who looked down on boys who boasted about protecting their friends and families, who were busting at the seams with some kind of artificial glory that they were strong enough to protect their loves from everything. Reborn had shot many of those men and had found some grim, psychotic pleasure in ending their lives. They were a danger to themselves, and those they 'promised to protect' but Reborn was a Hitman, so maybe it was just another thrill of the kill. Reborn had seen many of them crumble and give up, Reborn had even seen some of these men sacrifice their loves for their own lives when it came to the knit and grit. But Reborn had never seen someone like Tsuna, never had there been anyone who could restore or ignite faith in the words of man, because Reborn knew the boy –Tsuna- would become a man of his word. Already as he fought and trained, it protected his guardians- his dearest friends and family- and Reborn couldn't even harbour the idea that this boy would abandon them for his own hide.
Now, after watching Tsuna, Reborn had found his faith in the words of another. What amazed him, made him tingle with glee and intrigue was the fact that for all his life he has never truly had a resolve, only ever living for himself and the next hit. Now, strange and new, the feeling of soul-deep terror filled his blood whenever Tsuna was hurt. Each time a guardians dropped to the floor fatigued he felt himself chill. Something new and burning hot with furious flicks of roaring energy bubbled and flamed under his skin and in his chest whenever he watched this new 'Decimo Generation' fight and learn and try. Reborn realised to his amazement that it was resolve, and a resolve stronger than any he had had before. He had found it in Tsuna and his guardians. And wasn't it ironic, Reborn had taught about resolve to many a new boss, but here he was, unable to recognise it in even himself.
"R-Reborn. W-what are you trying to teach us." Tsuna was panting, sitting on the dusted stone floor surrounded by the equally tired guardians.
"I'm trying to give you your resolve Tsuna; I'm giving you the chance to find the will to fight." Reborn's words may have been curt and hard but Tsuna read behind them, the string of colourless wonder waved and twisted and sparkled with hues so vibrant Tsuna knew that Reborn was only trying to help; was desperate to help and make Tsuna and his friends strong enough for the world they had been thrown into.
Tsuna smiled a soft smile that warmed everyone to the core and ignited protective, diamond-hardened resolve within every person who saw it.
"Reborn, I found my resolve long ago."
Fedora down and Leon lowered, Reborn couldn't help but smirk. Everything just felt so right all of a sudden.
XXXX Ten years later XXXX
They sat in Tsuna's office in the Vongola mansion, they hadn't abandoned the one that Reborn had given Tsuna all those years ago, but that one was left for casual meetings and trips where Tsuna and his guardians went home to see Nana and their other friends and families. This office was for more serious matters that the official boss faced.
It was ten years ago that Tsuna and his fated friends were found by Reborn. It was only half a year a year before that, that Tsuna's schooling shifted from business studies and philosophy to an entirely different kind of business studies and philosophy with weaponry on the side. It had been less than eleven years, and Tsuna could not even describe the site before him.
Tsuna watched the chests of his seven guardians, and his father by all rights but blood smiled. Tsuna never considered himself a bright or colourful person, he liked earthy tones, neutrals that reminded him of forestry or sand, though considering Tsuna also never really believed in fate or destiny, and here he was completely and wholeheartedly indebted to the fate strings currently tightened around himself and the eight people in front of him, he supposed that this turn of events from liking neutral colours to bright and bold ones wasn't so strange was it?
Tsuna, someone who started out not believing or wanting to believe in fate and destiny now chased it, all the while not believing that these strings were necessarily such, he did know they were tangible, they were real and he was going to chase them, because so far as he was concerned they had been nothing but a blessing to him.
Faith called the coloured strings around him the 'red strings of fate', but Tsuna was more inclined to call them 'intuition' something that Reborn was constantly calling his blood rite, and maybe that's what these were, each string telling him something, either about his fated friends or about someone new, in some far away land. Whatever the case, Tsuna could only thank it, because this kaleidoscope before him was worth more to him than anything in the world.
"Tsuna, we have to prepare soon." Hayato's words were tense, but his tone was loving and warm. This meeting was serious, but they had confidence in each other and Reborn, so they had little to worry about yet.
Hayato had aged well over the ten years, he and the others – except Lambo- were all in their late twenties, but were fit enough to pass of as early-mid twenties. They had all matured, defined, and grown in boundless, indescribable ways. Reborn was proud, but Tsuna was prouder.
Tsuna sat at the head of the room, back rested gently against the black leather and arms rested comfortably against the cherry wood desk that was etched with age and wear of bosses since passed. His friends sat in the various couches stationed in a circle around the room, and though it wasn't anything as official as it looked, each of them sat in the same place every time they met within the walls of Tsuna's office; whether that be for personal or professional business. It had been the same for the past ten years.
Hayato sat to Tsuna's right, always poised, but relaxed with one arm stretched behind him- along the couch's back- and one arm in his lap nursing a cigarette or a glass of wine. Sharing the love seat with Takeshi- who would always sling his arms over the back and stretch his exceptionally long legs- would always spark an argument that usually ended with smirks and calm laughter from either the arguing pair, or the others stationed in the room.
"When are we suppose to review the allies?" a warm smile was spread across Takeshi's face, because he had confidence born from Tsuna and no matter what happened he smiled and reassured everyone.
Ryohei would always sit to Takeshi's right, sitting in one of two four seated couches in the room, loud and bright as always. Sitting in a lazy and relaxed position, using the room the couch boasted to almost sit spread eagle, he and Takeshi usually debated about sports and their personal choices in fighting technique, but always they were smiling, brightening and cleansing the mafia and personal stress from their friends.
"I thought that wasn't for EXTREME months!" Ryohei was lazily watching the Hitman with a practiced confidence in his words and action. No longer were any of Tsuna's friends aggressive towards the Hitman, now he was part of their little family, and if someone threatened one of them (Even Reborn), everyone fought together to protect the one threatened.
Reborn always sat front and center, directly opposite from Tsuna's desk where Tsuna usually sat during meetings, he took up half of the couch, and Tsuna often wondered why neither Ryohei nor Kyouya ever complained; but Tsuna supposed that was the charm and power of the most dangerous Hitman in the world. The Hitman didn't look to be in his late forties, he looked, in all honesty like he was in his early thirties. Then again, Tsuna was never sure of the Hitman's true age, even after all this time.
"The allies should be meeting up next month. Cavallone, Giglio Nero, and Shimon should be present to look over the current and future allies." Reborn's smirk was warm despite himself. He was getting soft, but it was ever so easy to do around his current company.
Kyouya sat to Reborn's right, taking great relief in being a distance from everyone, but still being accepted and able to feel a part of the conversations in the room, he was still cold and aloof even after the two years together, but he wouldn't be Kyouya if he were not.
"Herbivore, will I be able to fight that herbivorous-bronco this time?"
Next to Kyouya were Mukuro and Chrome, sitting next to Kyouya and Lambo respectively. While Chrome was still shy and quiet, she had opened up pleasingly, openly laughing and smiling, and when courage was on a high she would even argue a point. Mukuro was still cold and cruel, but instead of baring his fangs at Tsuna's guardians, trying to protect Tsuna from those who he still felt were not doing justice to pay back everything Tsuna had done for them, he bore them at enemies fighting against Tsuna to protect him, and by default the entire family. Tsuna couldn't have been happier to have the 'twins' together but separate at the same time.
"Kufufufufu, really Skylark, you should be more patient, you wouldn't want your pointy sticks to be broken like last time." Tsuna almost laughed outwardly when Kyouya reddened under the collar and twitched for his tonfu.
"Mukuro... don't tease Kyouya."
Lambo always sat to Tsuna's left, usually kneeling on the couch and leaning over the arm to be closer to Tsuna. He was personally the closest to Tsuna by far, and when Tsuna had no business at his desk he sat next to Lambo on the couch, if only to keep strengthening the familial bonds that were once so private. Lambo still had his arrogant attitude, but it was softer now that he had spent a good ten years with more matured people. He had his slips when his teenage hormones ran rampant in his body, but seeing as he had grown up with it happening all around him he took it with a patient, eased grace. Not to mention that he had seven brothers and two sisters, not to mention a 'uncle-father' to see to it that he was soothed out of a hormonal-testosterone rage. Lambo was the most loyal and understanding of all of Tsuna's guardians. Thought Tsuna supposed this was more due to the fact Lambo had been with Tsuna since he was born.
"Tsuna-nii, I'm bored, when will Fuuta and I-pin get here?" Lambo had not only grown, but had become the mature, intelligent man that Tsuna could be proud of, but he was a teenage boy. He was kept mostly away from the grim Mafia, and he was under a deal with Tsuna that he, Fuuta and I-pin were to finish high-school before deciding to join the famiglia officially. That was happening next week, and Lambo was anxious for his brother and sister to be home for the ceremony.
"Fuuta and I-pin don't get here until this afternoon, just be patient."
Of course, where his guardians sat didn't matter, what mattered to Tsuna was what happened when they sat. It never happened immediately, but after only a minute did the image began to glow with the love and trust shared between the men and women in the room, and it was truly breathtaking for Tsuna to witness. Breathtaking, when one considers that Tsuna's ability to see and read the fate strings had increased exponentially over the uears, and would continue to do so as he aged and learnt.
From each person one thick, long, bright fate string reached towards Tsuna and wrapped around his chest three times- and when he looked in the mirror didn't he just look like a child's attempt to colour a rainbow without lines- and the knotless orange string found its way all the way down each individual string, twisting and weaving itself into the individuals threads irreparably; Tsuna's orange fate string wrapped itself around the owner's chest five times before breaching from them and encircling the entire group. While that in itself was amazing, it was that happened in-between that amazed Tsuna the most.
From each guardian fate strings reached out, visible and bright in the short distance, and dyed to visibility by the love, trust, and emotions diffused in the air of Tsuna's office. While not everyone had a fate string attached to them from everyone else, there were a variety of thicknesses and brightness when a fate string was attached.
First was the fact that a fate string connected the circle on the far outside, weaving and strengthening the metaphoric boundary Tsuna's own string created, from Tsuna to Hayato; from Hayato to Takeshi; from Takeshi to Ryohei; from Ryohei to Reborn; from Reborn to Kyouya; from Kyouya to Mukuro and Chrome; and from Mukuro and Chrome to Lambo before finally reaching from Lambo to Tsuna so that a rainbow of colours in order formed a very lopsided rainbow; orange, red, blue, yellow, bright-orange-yellow-nameless, purple, indigo, and green. That is where the personal fates filled the rough circle made by the branches of strings and formed an image of love, trust and fate that Tsuna wished he could share with the world.
Tsuna could see the connections within the strings, such as the thick line from Ryohei to Lambo, or from Lambo to Takeshi. He could see the thin line from Hayato to Mukuro and from Chrome to Kyouya and the heavy line from Takeshi to Kyouya. There was a somewhat strained line from Kyouya to Reborn, and Tsuna could only imagine that was Hibari's personality bleeding into his fate. What was beautiful was that while Ryohei and Mukuro did not share a fate string, they shared a fate, simply because they were a part of his beautiful, shifting, evolving circle, and Tsuna just felt whole when he could watch the shifting lines.
Of course, Tsuna wasn't ignorant to the other strings, while none of them were as intimate and consequential as the colourful rainbow wrapping around the men and woman's chests, there were a multitude of red strings branching out from each guardians' arms and legs, and Tsuna was happy to note that each one of them had a red string or two wrapped around their wrists, signifying each of them had a fated partner somewhere in the world, and would one day have children. When Tsuna looked at the overall image of the red strings of normal fate, he couldn't help but think it looked like a giant, old tree reaching for the heavens where he was the roots that kept them together; how pleasing an image it was.
But one thing was far more beautiful, and that was Reborn's fate string. While the others were more subtle about whose fate they affected, Reborn's string dove to the center of the mass of fate lines, and then branched out suddenly, as if chasing every fate connection and enforcing it, but that was the beauty of Reborn's fate line, it wasn't a specific colour, and so it blended in with everyone; a chameleon in its own rite. While Reborn may not have been the one to get them together, he certainly had a hand in where they were today and the connections they had made.
Tsuna often wondered if Reborn could actually see the fate strings as Tsuna did, and while Reborn never denied nor confirmed Tsuna's subtle prompting, he knew Reborn must have some kind of sight-possibly like Kyouya's ability, a feel rather than a sight-, because no matter how subtle or well hidden, Tsuna could see Reborn was manipulating their fates; not to make them happen so much as to strengthen what was already happening.
"So, Tsuna," Reborn started, as if prompted by Tsuna's warm and trusting thoughts about him, a 'speak of the devil moment'. "What do you think?"
And Tsuna couldn't be happier that Reborn was doing it, because Tsuna couldn't always be there when a thread started to fray, but at least Reborn was there, and his guardians were there too to prevent fraying from starting, and they would never leave;
"We are a famiglia, Reborn, as long as we fight together I can't see anything defeating us." Tsuna word's leaked confidence and trust. Because he was surrounded by his family, he was surrounded by strings, and he had faith in the strings if not in their meanings.
Because no matter how inevitable the red string snapping seemed, it would never break it would only ever fray.
Thank you everyone who has reviewed, read, and favourite this story. This is dedicated to those who saw its potential as a one-shot. I hope this makes up for the face that I've continued despite some people not liking the idea.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.