Author's Note: This plot bunny would not leave me alone. Mind you, everything in this story is fantastical at best, because I have no idea how the yakuza or mafia works. Especially the bit about Tsuna being a 'toy child'. I got that concept from 893, a Harry Potter fanfiction by Suiyou where Harry is a yakuza member (it's a great story, too). Basically, I took that concept and ran with it.

There's a continuation of this story under the name of 'Fall From Grace'. It's in Daichi's point of view and can be found on my profile.

Author: C.S. Thompson

Summary: AU. Tsuna meets a boy when he is eight. Tsuna's life changes when he is eleven. Tsuna makes a decision that will change his very destiny when he is thirteen. Because in the end, he is just another selfish child, and in the end, the man in front of him is just another lonely person.

Rating: T

Warnings: Bullying. Swearing. Mentions of crime. Death. Some violence. Some OOC characters from the manga and OCs.

Disclaimer: I do not own Katekyo Hitman Reborn! in any shape or form. I am not making any money out of this fanfiction. The manga belongs to its respective owner. The quote below was made by Joseph Campbell.

~ ' * ' ~

Life Lessons

~ We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us. ~

'You are loved.'

~ ' * ' ~

Tsuna is six and a half when the jeering starts.

It is such a tender age, when praise should be given often and in abundance, and love more so. But Tsuna did not get that, not from his teachers or peers. He always finds himself a tad too curious about things, a little too clumsy when playing with the others, a bit too wide-eyed and gullible compared to the rest. He is marked as different from the start, and finds himself having trouble finding friends or fitting in.

It doesn't take long before he is being teased by his classmates, the teachers find themselves growing annoyed with his constant questions and he finds himself alone on the playground during break.

At home it is a different matter entirely. His mother is always there and most days, his father too. They love him unconditionally and always answer his endless questions, always read him this or that story, always smile at his drawings and always tuck him into bed at night.

Tsuna is loved at his home, and for the time being that is enough for him.

- X -

At eight, Tsuna meets a boy.

He is a small little thing, but a head taller than Tsuna. His name is Mori, and he is three and a half years older than Tsuna. Mori doesn't tell Tsuna the rest of his name, but that's okay because Mori was Tsuna's friend and that was that.

Mori has dry, black hair that looks as if it had been cut by blunt scissors. He has brown eyes too, but they are nothing like Tsuna's warm chocolate ones. Instead, they are light in color and have an icy look to them. His skin is pale underneath his patchwork of purple and blue and yellow that was etched onto his skin. His face is gaunt and he is too bony, his lips dry and cracked but always smiling when the two ran into each other at the local park they had first met in.

Tsuna has always thought of Mori as a hero of sorts, because when they had first met the older boy had scared off a chihuahua with vicious teeth that had been chasing Tsuna.

Tsuna did not know that Mori was only a few years older than him. The other boy always seemed to have such a knowing look on his face that Tsuna had thought he was much older. That look scared off a lot of the adults with concerned looks that come to talk to the two of them on lazy afternoons for some reason, but Tsuna always thought that his perceptive gaze that he used upon everyone iss rather cool. Like he is a mind reader.

Mori seemed to be so much more mature than everyone else, bar the adults, and knew so much more about the world around them than Tsuna.

Despite the fact that the two were friends, Mori would scare Tsuna sometimes.

It was in the way that he would sometimes glare at everyone, as if they had done a heinous crime against him, the way that he would grip onto Tsuna's arm with a desperate look on his face when he tried to leave, the way that he would always ask if Tsuna's parents ever hurt or scared him when he saw the bruises from Tsuna's falls. The way that he would whisper in Tsuna's ears about bad men and good men, and how really, there was no difference between them.

One day, when Mori is twelve and Tsuna is nine, they meet in the park in their usual spot, hidden away from prying eyes by the big oak trees. Mori is there, crying his eyes out, holding a glittering necklace in his clenched hand. Tsuna runs up to him, of course, and in his childish way provides his friend as much comfort as he could. When Mori finally stops crying, Tsuna asks him what had happened.

"My mom's died," he had told Tsuna, fiddling with the necklace. "No one to hold dad back now."

Tsuna didn't get it at the time. He was so young and naive back then. Abuse was something that Tsuna had never heard of.

"One of the men that my mom knew, he said he'd take me in. He was nice enough, even though he had that gun. He's the boss of one of them yakuza families, I think. A small one." Mori went on, wiping away his tears. Mori turns to Tsuna, his eyes alight with determination and sadness.

Yakuza. Tsuna heard that word before. His mother had always said to stay away from them. That they were dangerous. But Mori had always told him, bad men and good men were one and the same.

"I'm gonna go with him. I might not ever meet you again, but I can't stay here."

"Promise me that you'll be okay?" Tsuna asks his friend, holding up his pinky finger with the most serious expression on his youthful face. Mori laughs, and promises. They swear that Mori would be okay and that in return, Tsuna would always remember Mori.

Then Mori had left, saying that he needed to pack his things while his father was sleeping so that he could leave. Tsuna had cried later, and wouldn't tell his parent's anything. Because Mori was his friend and his secret, and his alone.

A week later, Tsuna is in the living room when the news proclaims that a child had been killed by his father, and that the father had in turn been killed by a local yakuza group. His father (who is almost never home now) turns off the news with a grim expression, but not before Tsuna catches a glimpse of the dead boy's picture on the television.

He looked strangely like Mori. Except younger, healthier and happier. But Mori had promised that he would be alright, so Tsuna turns a blind eye to it.

But he never forgets.

- X -

Tsuna is ten when the bullying goes up a notch.

It's just a few things here and there. A missing lunch box found empty in the playground at the end of the day, which Tsuna easily deals with by buying something at the cafeteria. Misplaced homework, easily redone when Tsuna asks for another sheet. Tsuna does not think much of it, as he already has to contend with his classmates teases and jeers.

But suddenly things get worse. He is almost always missing his lunch and his meager pocket money can go only so far. His homework is ripped and vandalized, hidden away from him to never be seen again and Tsuna finds himself struggling to keep up with his lessons. At first, the teachers try to do something about it. They always ask Tsuna if someone is bullying him, or give him a bit of their own lunch.

They say that they can only do something if he says something about the bullying, but Tsuna isn't so sure. So when Tsuna does find out who had been doing it, he tells the teacher. Just to see what will happen.

The teacher reprimands them, and then sends them on their way. Tsuna finds himself a bit disappointed, because he had hoped for something more. He also finds himself scared, because what happened now?

Tsuna gets his answer the following day. The three bullies he had reported surround him on his way to school. They yell, they insult him, push him to the ground and take his things. They threaten him into not telling the teacher, kick dirt onto him and leave as quickly as they had come.

By the time the day ended, Tsuna is no longer scared. He is terrified, because he knows it would only get worse.

- X -

Eleven is when Tsuna's life starts to change.

It starts small, as all life changing things do. The big compound in his neighborhood that had been on sale for almost as long as Tsuna could remember is bought. Movers come in almost a week later, but Tsuna does not make much not of it. He is too busy dodging cruel bullies and exasperated teachers to pay attention.

His grades have been dropping for quite sometime, and Tsuna no longer speaks up in class unless told to. He rarely speaks to anyone at all. Bruises can always be found on him, but never money. The teasing is worse than ever, and Tsuna is always hunched to avoid attention. It doesn't help much, but by now it is a habit.

The teachers have given up on him. Because of his bad grades, they think that he is stupid. Tsuna thinks that he might be, though it might be a bit unfair considering that he can hardly keep up with the lessons when he has no study materials (his text books were taken with his homework). The only subject that he finds any interest in is history and languages. History because it's as if the whole lesson is about a story, and languages because of the intricacies there. He does not do well in those classes either, but he does just a bit better.

Tsuna is returning home one evening after being forced to clean the classroom by himself when he meets an old, grizzled man.

They talk, or more specifically, the old man asks questions and Tsuna answers. Tachibana Akiyoshi is his name, Tsuna learns during the course of their conversation. He has long, gray hair and glittering black eyes set into a wrinkled face. He prefers wearing traditional clothes, but will wear suits when he needs to. He is a rich, retired old man. His successor is living and working outside of Namimori. Tsuna's eyes remind him of his dead daughter.

Somehow the encounter ends with Tsuna agreeing to come to Tachibana's home for tea tomorrow. He does not know why the old man offered, nor why he agreed. Perhaps they are both just a bit lonely.

The next day, despite Tsuna's hesitance and many reasons not to go, Tsuna ends up sitting in the traditional Japanese home, drinking scalding hot green tea with a contented smile as they both talk to each other about everything and nothing.

Akiyoshi gives Tsuna another invitation, and Tsuna finds himself sitting with the man yet again.

It quickly becomes a routine that the both of them enjoy doing. Tsuna's mother does not know a thing about it, just as she does not know about the bullying, or about Mori. She thinks that Tsuna is spending time with his friends, and does not press him for details. In a way, it isn't a lie. Akiyoshi- "Call me Grandpa,"- is his friend, in a sense. He is just older, wiser, than Tsuna.

Grandpa reminds Tsuna of Mori. It is in the way that his eyes are so piercing whenever Tsuna tries to lie, the way he seems distrustful of any visitor aside from Tsuna. The way that he tells Tsuna his life disguised as a tragic story (he knows that Tsuna knows, but keeps talking). He teaches him that life is unfair, but so is the rest of the world, the same way that Mori taught him that there is no black and white.

It is because of that resemblance that he decides that he could trust this man.

So Tsuna tells him everything, and in turn, he tells him everything too.

Who would have thought that Grandpa was the former head of a yakuza family?

- X -

When he meets Grandpa's son, Tsuna is twelve.

Tachibana Daichi is a confident young man. He has short black hair and brown eyes. He prowls instead of walks, purrs instead of talks and immediately dotes upon Tsuna, just like his father does. Tsuna does not mind being doted upon. They are the only human contact he has aside from his mother (he had not talked to his father in years), and he will let them do whatever they please so long as they do not leave him.

At the Tachibana residence, Tsuna is taken care of and treated like glass. He is lavished by gifts from Grandpa and Daichi, but on his request they only give him a maximum of one gift each, once a month. Even then it seems over the top when they give him another yukata which they store in his room in the compound (another gift), or another book on a foreign language. Really, Tsuna is content with just the daily talks and tea sessions they have.

With Daichi's introduction, there is suddenly more people coming into the estate. Low level lackeys in the family gather in places far away from the private wing, but when Tsuna comes across them they are a friendly bunch that treat Tsuna like a younger brother. The others with higher positions in the Tachibana-gumi are introduced to him by Daichi. They are polite to him, and either go out of their way to make sure he's comfortable or flat out ignore him.

It is when he meets Daichi's most trusted men, the ones that he considers his friends, that Tsuna feels that he is suddenly part of a large family. They aren't polite, nor do they treat him like a younger brother. Instead they take him into their ragtag group and he is a part of it. They find out as much as they can about him, they tell him things about themselves and the family, and they tell him embarrassing stories about Daichi.

Tsuna is happy with them, and they are happy with someone that can keep Daichi from doing something stupid when they are not around.

But everyone makes sure to keep him away from anything yakuza related, and for the time being, Tsuna is okay with that.

Outside of the Tachibana-gumi's sphere of influence however, Tsuna's life is drastically different.

At school, he is still being bullied. Now there are beatings to deal with, along with the insults and other things. He has no friends there, as none of his classmates have tried to befriend him and he was too shy to try. But Tsuna is doing better in his studies thanks to the numerous people from the Tachibana-gumi willing to tutor him, and Tsuna improves enough that people start to notice. His teachers are smiling at him instead of frowning now, but they still ignore him most of the time.

At home, the situation is different there too. His mother has a job now at a local bakery because she felt that she needed to do something other than sit around in an empty house. The job keeps her busy most days. She enjoys the work, though, and that is all Tsuna could ask for. Even if he feels a bit lonely whenever he comes back to an empty house.

His father is now just a stranger who sends money back along with a postcard.

- X -

Tsuna is almost thirteen when he sees his first death.

He is coming back from the market place with Rikuo, Daichi's right-hand man, after having gone out to buy some ice cream for everyone. They are talking about something inane, which is not unusual for them. It is a quiet, late afternoon, nearly evening in fact. Tsuna finds himself thinking that it is too quiet, but when he tries to tell his companion, Rikuo gives him a stern look.

Rikuo hands Tsuna the bag that he is carrying, and Tsuna finds himself watching Rikuo's back as they take another turn to find themselves in the abandoned park that they usually use as a shortcut to the household. They keep walking until they are next to the rusting playground, and when Tsuna is exactly next to the slide, Rikuo stops. The blonde in front of him suddenly turns, puts his sunglasses on Tsuna and whips around, shooting his gun at a nearby tree in a whirl of movement.

Tsuna does not see much details because sunglasses and little light do not mix well, but he is glad that he cannot see when a body thumps onto the ground from the tree, and two more people pop out of the bushes with their own guns in front of them.

Without being told, Tsuna drops down, sliding underneath the small slide and staying quiet as he watches the ground beneath him, allowing Rikuo to deal with their attackers. There are a few more gunshots, not all of which are from Rikuo. There is a howl of pain, two more thumps, before Rikuo is squatting down a bit away from Tsuna. The blonde boy's brown eyebrows are furrowed, his grey eyes are pinned on Tsuna. He is on the phone, muttering quickly into it.

"Tsuna," he says quietly, holding out his hand in front of him. Tsuna eyes him warily. This is his first encounter with anything on the other side of the law, and he is not sure what happens next.

"Are you okay?" Tsuna nods numbly, shuffling over to him and stopping when his feet bump into the plastic bags full of ice cream.

"It's all melted," he mumbles dejectedly, gathering the plastic bags. Tsuna thinks that he might be in shock, and Rikuo thinks so too. But Tsuna's companion laughs all the same, muttering into the phone that they are both fine and that fuck, if they don't come soon, that one guy that is still alive would die of blood loss and then they would have no way of getting any information about the attack.

When the police finally arrive after reports of gunfire, the abandoned park is empty of anything but drying blood and drops of melted ice cream.

- X -

One day Tsuna pieces together all the clues and figures out that the Tachibana-gumi is the same yakuza family that Mori had been talking about.

The biggest evidence that he has is the necklace that he finds in Grandpa's room. It is the very same necklace that Mori had been holding onto so desperately the last time they had met. When Tsuna inquires about it, he finds out that it belonged to Grandpa's deceased daughter and Daichi's older sister. It is when Tsuna tells Grandpa of his suspicions that his theory is proved correct.

Mori, short for Morino was the grandson of Tachibana Akiyoshi. Mori was the son of Grandpa's runaway daughter. Mori, the same boy that Tsuna met and befriended in the park. The same boy that was abused by his father. The same boy that would have been Daichi's nephew.

Tsuna is given the necklace to wear that same night. It's a pretty thing, with its delicate, silver chain and small, tear-shaped amber stone set into a silver bed. There is an engraving on the back, 'You are loved', it says. When Grandpa sees Tsuna tracing the words, he says that even though Tsuna is not his by blood, he is just as loved as his daughter was. As Mori was. As Daichi is.

Tsuna decides to spend the night there, which is a first. But he does not use the room that was given to him months and months ago. Somehow, Tsuna finds himself crying into Daichi's shoulder and waking next to the young man with the necklace around his neck.

- X -

Tsuna has just turned thirteen when he decides on something that will change a few things.

Grandpa, Daichi and he had been drinking tea as usual at the time. There is a lull in the conversation that is stretched out, and Tsuna finds himself becoming nervous from the prolonged and tense silence. He wonders if they are finally sick of him and are looking for a way to get rid of him now, without hurting his feelings too much.

It is a strange conclusion, considering that Tsuna has practically moved into the Tachibana home and no one has snapped at him yet. He sleeps next to Daichi as often as possible, because he is so desperate for physical contact from other people and Daichi has never turned him away. Grandpa talks to him regularly, talking about the old days when he was young and asking Tsuna to sing him songs often.

But Tsuna always expects the worse with anything that concerns him.

Tsuna expects the worse, as usual, when Grandpa finally talks again. Granpa's expression is serious, his wrinkles more pronounced than ever. "Tsuna," he says, setting down his cup of tea with one hand. Tsuna mimics him, his other hand clenching the fabric of his yukata tightly. Daichi is uncharacteristically quiet, watching Tsuna with keen eyes. "I would like to make it official."

Tsuna knows what he is talking about. Tsuna is the unofficial toy child of Grandpa. He already talks to Grandpa regularly, sings for him, spends an inordinate amount of time with him. Tsuna already is given anything he asks for, which is mostly books on languages and their company. But it is unofficial, even though everyone from the higher ups to the lowest level lackey knows what Tsuna is. Officially, Tsuna doubts that it will change anything, but it is in the thought, the knowledge that the Tachibana family wants Tsuna as theirs.

Him, the useless boy that no one cares for. The boy that has a no-show father. The boy whose mother is trying to deal with depression (he will never forgive Iemitsu for leaving his mother without a word) by keeping herself busy. The implications make Tsuna want to break down. Unconsciously, Tsuna grips the necklace hanging on his neck, tracing the engraving there.

You are loved, it says. He is trembling, doing his best not to cry because right now he is so happy and sad at the same time and Tsuna does not know what to do with such a strong emotion.

He finds himself nodding, whispering a quiet, shaky yes.

- X -

Tsuna gets many tutors after that.

They work on his education, and when Tsuna is sufficiently caught up he gets to study the things that he wants to study. Tsuna learns English, French, Spanish and Italian quickly. His tutors praise him, saying that he has a natural talent for languages. When he tells them that he had a lot of trouble understanding their lessons on English at school, they tell him that the way his teachers taught him just didn't work for him.

Tsuna thinks it is true, because instead of sentences Tsuna prefers learning songs in that language.

Tsuna also gets a bodyguard that shadows him.

His name is Himura Mamoru. He is only a year older than Tsuna, but he is a full head and a bit taller. Mamoru has shaggy black hair and gun metal gray eyes. He is lean, belying the years that he has spent practicing every martial arts under the sun. The older boy is a quiet companion, always there but never in the way. He listens to every conversation that Tsuna has, he protects Tsuna from the bullies, he goes out of his way to keep Tsuna safe and happy. Mamoru scares away people their age because of his quiet but dangerous aura and piercing eyes.

Tsuna makes him his friend all the same, just because he can, because he wants to, because Tsuna knows what it is like to be lonely and does not wish it upon anyone.

Mamoru turns out to be a great friend.

Rumors start at school. Dame-Tsuna has a friend that beats up bullies for him. Tsuna pays Mamoru to be his friend and do things for him. Tsuna is being blackmailed to stay by Mamoru. The rumors are always changing, and after awhile Tsuna ignores it. Pretty soon, the rumors die and are forgotten.

When Grandpa falls ill, Tsuna is worried. Daichi is working overtime so that the other yakuza families do no take it as a sign that the Tachibana-gumi is growing weak. Doctors come by often, talking nonsense words that Tsuna does not understand. Everyone at the estate is tense, ready for an attack on their territory at anytime. He himself visits Grandpa everyday with Mamoru trailing behind.

Tsuna sings songs in Gaelic, English, Latin and many other languages, talks until his voice is hoarse and stays by the man who changed his life for an hour or two more before Mamoru finally guides Tsuna away.

Everything seems wrong to Tsuna. Grandpa should not be ill, Daichi should not be so distant, Rikuo should not look so weary. Tsuna is lost, because with Grandpa's illness and coming death, Tsuna does not know where his place is in the Tachibana-gumi. He is not important, not really, so he may be sent back to his empty home when Grandpa dies.

Tsuna finds himself clutching onto the necklace desperately almost all the time now.

Tsuna's only comfort during those dark times is Mamoru, his constant companion. Mamoru has promised him that he would follow Tsuna, even if he is no longer part of the Tachibana-gumi, because they were friends and Mamoru does not want to lose Tsuna, just as Tsuna does not want to lose anyone.

Mamoru comforts Tsuna quietly and subtly while everyone else is oblivious to Tsuna's insecurity, and for that, Tsuna is grateful.

- X -

Tsuna is thirteen and a half when Grandpa dies.

It is a peaceful one, which Tsuna is thankful for. Grandpa dies with a smile on his face while Tsuna is singing a Japanese folk song and Daichi is humming along. Tsuna also finds out then and there that stories lie. Grandpa does not look like he is asleep in death. He is too stiff, too still, too pale and his body is deprived of any liveliness. The stories that Tsuna has read lie about death, but Tsuna does not fault the writers.

No one is surprised when Grandpa dies, it has been coming for a long time. But that does not mean that people do not mourn, that the days following his death are not somber ones. Tsuna cries into Mamoru's shoulder most nights, because what happened now?

Daichi takes up smoking a week after Grandpa's death. He does not talk to Tsuna much. He does not talk to anyone much. Daichi deals with grief by working himself to the ground, protecting his territory and making the Tachibana-gumi bigger, stronger than ever. Rikuo has a new duty now, making sure that Daichi does not kill himself. Everyone is aware that their boss is just a bit too flippant about his health, and act accordingly to make sure that Daichi will be okay.

Tsuna finds himself staying at the Sawada household more often than not, spending time with his mother when she is there and wandering the house like a ghost when she is not. He is avoiding the inevitable, he knows. But Tsuna does not want to deal with anything, not right now. Mamoru is still there, posing as a friend that needs a place to stay while his parents travel the world.

Tsuna thinks that his mother may be jealous of Mamoru's make-believe parents, but she says nothing and treats Mamoru like a long lost son.

- X -

Tsuna's school life becomes different when Mamoru somehow transfers into his class.

Immediately, Mamoru sits in the empty seat next to Tsuna, ignoring the teacher's spluttering about how there was a perfectly good desk at the front. Mamoru's silence and casual dismissal puts him into the teacher's bad side, but many of the students decide that he is cool. He did have a mysterious feel about him, Tsuna muses as lessons continue.

When lunch comes, Mamoru is surrounded by their classmates. They are excited and ask him many questions, but Mamoru ignores them and instead takes Tsuna's hand and leads the way to the roof to eat lunch in easy silence.

During the week many people try to convince Mamoru that Tsuna is not a good friend to have, and he would be accepted into any group at school. Mamoru glares them all down, especially since they say these things when Tsuna is in the same room. Tsuna smiles each time Mamoru pushes past them to get to him. Mamoru is the best friend that Tsuna could ever ask for, even if Mamoru was originally his bodyguard.

As time passes they meet many people together. Yamamoto Takeshi talks to them after stumbling upon them on the roof and ends up joining them for lunch. Hibari Kyoya threatens them to stay quiet while he sleeps after a brief fight with Mamoru that is stopped by Tsuna. Sasagawa Kyoyko and Kurokawa Hana talk to them occasionally in class.

Before Tsuna knows it, months have passed.

Months have passed since Tsuna has last stepped into the Tachibana residence. Since Tsuna has last talked to Daichi, Rikuo or Tetsuya. But it has only been three days since he last visited Grandpa's grave at the cemetery, which he does weekly.

- X -

A month before Tsuna turns fourteen, Daichi comes back into his life.

It is sudden, just as Grandpa's entrance into his life was. Tsuna opens the door and finds Daichi standing outside, an unreadable expression on his face. He seems paler since the last time they had met, his eyes icier, like Mori's was. His shoulders are stiff under his trench coat, his smile slightly forced. Tsuna does not know what Daichi wants, why he is here, and finds himself scared because Mamoru is out buying some groceries and Tsuna is alone.

He invites Daichi inside anyway, because he cannot help it. He still trusts Daichi despite everything.

They go inside, a heavy and awkward silence following them as they move to the living room. Not knowing what to do, Tsuna offers tea. Daichi accepts and when Tsuna comes back he has two cups of green tea. One is plain, which is for Tsuna. The other has just a dash of honey, which is the way Daichi prefers it. He seems surprised when he takes a sip. Probably because Tsuna still remembers the way Daichi likes his tea.

Tsuna is a bit offended. They may not have spoken to each other for some time, but Tsuna would never forget about the Tachibana-gumi. They were- still are- his family, in a way.

After that, conversation flows. Tsuna finds out that Daichi has made the Tachibana-gumi one of the strongest groups on this side of Japan.

Mori had been wrong, Tsuna discovers. The Tachibana-gumi has never been a small group. It is an empire.

Tsuna also learns of why Daichi is there.

"I'm sorry I ignored you," he says rubbing his face tiredly. "I needed space, and when I thought that I was finally okay you weren't there anymore."

"Sorry," Tsuna apologizes. They are both at fault, it seems. Daichi pushed Tsuna away because he was grieving and Tsuna pushed him away because he was scared.

"I- I didn't know what to do. It was Rikuo who finally snapped and dragged me here. He said that he won't let me come back home until we deal with . . . this." Daichi waves his hand between them, and Tsuna thinks he understands.

Daichi leaves with an easy smile on his face just as Mamoru is coming back.

A week before Tsuna's fourteenth birthday, Tsuna is officially inducted into the Tachibana-gumi. His role now is similar to his role when Grandpa was alive, except now he is also helping in the kitchens or cleaning or spending time with the senior members or babysitting the small children there. Tsuna moves back into his room at the estate and he is happy there. Everyone else is happy too, because Tsuna is like a breath of fresh air. Mamoru trails after him as usual, lending a helping hand.

Tsuna spends the most time with Daichi, because he has a feeling that the man is lonely. Just like Grandpa was when Tsuna first met him.

But in the end, Tsuna is just another selfish child that craves for attention, and in the end, Daichi is just another lonely person who wants some company.

- X -

Sawada Iemitsu is thirty eight when he finally comes home.

He comes home not for pleasure, but for work. Reborn had reported back that there was a problem in making Tsuna the next boss of Vongola. He had also reported back that Iemitu's information was completely wrong and unless he came back and talked some sense into his son, there was no way that Timoteo was going to get a successor that wasn't Xanxus.

Iemitsu is paraphrasing a lot, but that was basically what Reborn had said.

So Iemitsu comes back home to a mostly empty household. Nana acts as warm as ever to him, but there is something in her eyes whenever she looks at him that makes him feel like he has done something horribly wrong. She leaves to go to work the same hour that Iemitsu came back home, leaving Iemitsu worried about what has happened in his admittedly long absence.

Iemitsu talks to Reborn as soon as Nana is not in hearing distance.

Reborn gives him all the information he has gathered in one neat little manilla folder. It is when Iemitsu reads it that he feels that he should have come home more often. Tsuna is part of a powerful yakuza group, Iemitsu learns. He is connected directly to the head of the Tachibana-gumi, and there is certainly no way that Vongola could take Tsuna away without far reaching repercussions.

They decide to meet the head to see what they could do to get Tsuna out. Reborn is reluctant to do this, citing that Tsuna appears to be part of the group because of his own reasons, and not because he was dragged in. But Iemitsu does not believe him, because knows Tsuna. Tsuna would not hurt a fly, and he would certainly not join the underworld. (He ignores how hypocritical he sounds.)

When Iemitsu meets Tachibana Daichi, he is forced to reconsider many things.

When Tsuna walks into the room in a formal clothing and an expensive looking necklace hanging proudly on his neck to sit next to Tachibana, Iemitsu is forced to acknowledge many things.

He does not know his family anymore. He will never be able to reconnect with his son. His wife may hate his very guts. Things have changed in his absence because life for his family has moved on without him. Tsuna has chose his own family and his own path in life. Iemtisu acknowledges this all.

But that does not mean that Vongola will leave Tsuna alone.

AN: The counterpart of this story, Fall From Grace is already up. (It's in Tachibana Daichi's point of view.) Again, it can be found on my profile.