Disclaimer: I own nothing from Katekyo Hitman Reborn.
-If you managed to pick up the small hint in what Hibari said in the tyl part last chapter, then you know at least one of the enemies in the Future Arc:)
-There will be five to seven more chapters before the Kokuyo Arc starts.
Chapter 7 – Discoveries and the Child Assassin
"What is she doing here again?"
Hayato glowered darkly at the brunette currently cooing over Lambo. His boss was too generous. Tsuna had somehow gotten the cow to forgive the crazy girl and she had gone from hanging out with them over the weekends to joining them for breakfast on some mornings as well. Personally, Hayato wished the girl would just scram but Tsuna considered her a friend so he would have to put up with her.
Not that he didn't try getting rid of her.
"Hahi!" Haru was glaring back at him now. "Haru came to enjoy breakfast with Tsuna-kun. What are you doing here?"
Hayato growled. "I'm always here. I'm Tsuna-sama's bodyguard. At least I have a reason to be here!"
"Maa, maa," Yamamoto cut in, and Hayato wanted to punch the smile off the baseball freak's face. "Let's all get along. Come on, we should help set the table."
Hayato grumbled under his breath but stalked off to get the cutlery. He didn't want to trouble Tsuna.
His irritation only grew when he reached for the plates at the same time as the kendo bastard.
"Let go," Hayato said through gritted teeth, tightening his grip on the plates.
"Why don't you," Mochida muttered back, trying to tug the plates away from Hayato.
"Kendo bastard," Hayato hissed, trying to wrestle the plates from him.
"Lapdog one," Mochida mocked, not relenting his hold.
"G- Good morning," Tsuna called from behind and Hayato automatically straightened and spun around, returning the greeting enthusiastically.
He froze when a snort sounded behind him and Mochida breezed past him, an irksome smirk on his face and the plates in his hands.
"Pipsqueak, get your tie on properly," The kendo captain barked and Hayato had to shove down the urge to strangle him right then and there.
"Don't be so disrespectful to Tsuna-sama!" Hayato snapped, storming after Mochida.
"Just because you like straggling around with your tie undone doesn't mean the rest of us do," Mochida retorted.
"Tsuna-sama hasn't even eaten breakfast yet!" Hayato seethed, ignoring the slight to himself. "He doesn't need to be dressed all properly this early in the morning! In fact, he wouldn't even need to be up yet if it weren't for your damn kendo practices."
"Still going on about that?" Mochida scowled at him. "Sawada chose to join the kendo club. I didn't force him into anything. You're way too protective, lapdog."
Just as Hayato was about to lunge at the bastard and wring his neck regardless of the consequences, his boss' hand on his arm stalled him. "Tsuna-sama!"
Tsuna gave him a small smile before tugging him into the nearest chair. "Come on, Hayato-kun. Let's sit down. Kaa-san's almost done with breakfast."
"Of course, Tsuna-sama!" Hayato said agreeably, all thoughts of the kendo bastard disappearing from his mind, at least for now. He was glad Tsuna was stuttering a lot less around them, even though he was still quiet for the most part.
And so passed another morning in the Sawada household. None of them realized that another person would be joining them before long.
"This is surprising, Reborn. You don't usually call."
"It's a secure line. And this is important."
"Oh? Tell me all about it. It's not every day I get a call for help from you."
"I don't need your help. I just want to know why you chose your youngest son as the boss candidate."
"...Did something happen to Hiko? You've been training him too hard, haven't you?"
"I haven't been training him hard enough. Answer my question."
"Why do you sound so serious? I've already told you, haven't I? Hiko's stronger, more charismatic, smarter; he's the perfect candidate. My cute little Tuna-fish is too shy. He could never amount to the boss the Vongola Family needs."
"And how would you know that? You haven't been home for almost three years."
"Reborn, is this because you don't like teaching my son for some reason? I saw the note you sent Nono. Honestly, finding Hiko unsuitable without even giving him a chance. I expected better of-"
Reborn hung up before he could invent the first way to kill someone over the phone. Sawada Iemitsu had a hell of a lot of nerve to expect anything from him.
He didn't bother glancing behind him as he scolded lightly, "It's not polite to eavesdrop, Tsuna."
A moment's silence before the window slid open and Tsuna crawled out onto the porch, joining Reborn at the railing. Neither of them spoke for a while and Reborn absently wondered what Tsuna would say. The twins would find out sooner or later that their father was in the mafia; Reborn saw no reason to hide it from them now that both of them were involved. Personally, he would've thought it safer if Iemitsu had at least told his family that he had mafia connections, just in case an enemy Famiglia found out where they were living, but it was none of Reborn's business so he hadn't said anything when Iemitsu insisted on keeping it quiet.
"Tou-san's in the mafia?" Tsuna finally asked. It wasn't really a question and the brunet's tone of voice was more resigned than surprised.
"Yes," Reborn glanced at him. "He's part of the Vongola Famiglia; head of CEDEF, the Consulenza Esterna Della Famiglia, or External Advisors of the Family."
"Oh," Tsuna said dully. "Well, his lies always were too outrageous to be believed."
Reborn tilted his fedora up. "Didn't he tell you he worked overseas?"
Tsuna shrugged. "Well, the first time he left was when Hiko and I were three so I don't really remember what his excuse was then. And then he came back when we were five with his boss... I'm guessing that was the Ninth?"
Reborn nodded. He had heard of that visit. Hiko had produced Dying Will flames back then while Tsuna hadn't which was another reason the Ninth had agreed to make Hiko his heir.
"Anyway, after that, Tou-san said he was a construction worker and he had to work at different sites around the world." Tsuna paused. "He sent us a postcard of the South Pole a year and a half later."
Reborn inwardly twitched. What the hell would a construction worker be doing in the South Pole with penguins?
"And then he came back three years after that, stayed for a few days, and then left telling Kaa-san that he was going off to be a star."
Reborn's hand tightened around his fedora. Stupidity couldn't cover the shit Iemitsu had told his family.
"And then he came home when we were eleven. That was the last time. He left at night so we couldn't say goodbye and Kaa-san told us the next day that Tou-san had gone on an exploration expedition."
Reborn tightened his reign on his anger and turned a critical eye on Tsuna instead. The brunet's voice had been flat and unconcerned throughout the explanation.
"It doesn't bother you?" He enquired, studying the teen intently.
Tsuna shrugged half-heartedly. "You get used to it when you only get to see your dad a couple times throughout your life. I- I mean, not counting the time when he was here for the first three years of my life, he's been around for... twenty days. In total."
Reborn's gaze sharpened. He knew the Nono gave vacations and he also knew that Iemitsu almost never took them, claiming that the Family needed him, but he hadn't thought Tsuna could actually count the days the blond was at home. "No more than that?"
Tsuna shook his head. "A week when he visited with the Ninth. Five days when Hiko and I were eight. Eight days when we were eleven. That's it."
Reborn's mouth turned down. That was ridiculous. What kind of father would do that to his own family?
"I don't really mind," Tsuna continued almost wistfully. "I don't really need a father. And I've never needed Kaa-san to do much for me. I mean..."
He trailed off and Reborn nodded silently to show that he understood. Judging by how Tsuna had wanted to avoid his mother that day he had come home after fighting Hibari, the brunet was used to taking care of his own injuries. Hiko on the other hand had run straight to Nana.
"But Kaa-san," Tsuna's voice rose a notch and there was sudden ferocity in his eyes that grabbed Reborn's attention. "I- I hate Tou-san for hurting Kaa-san all the time. That's something I can't forgive him for."
Tsuna fell silent and Reborn didn't bother saying anything in return. Nothing he said here would help, but the current silence between them was almost comfortable as they each mulled over their own thoughts.
"Is this because you don't like teaching my son for some reason?"
Not many people would think much of this but it troubled Reborn. 'My son', not 'Hiko' or 'my youngest son'. The fool had probably said it without thought as well but that only made it worse. Hiko was the son, Tsuna was the... 'tuna-fish'.
God, that made Iemitsu sound like he had a pet for his eldest. It made Reborn want to go on a killing rampage.
"What if you had been chosen to become the next boss, Tsuna?" Reborn spoke up abruptly.
Tsuna started and stared down at him with wide eyes. "E- Eh? I don't want to become a mafia boss."
"But what if you were chosen?" Reborn persisted.
Tsuna blinked and his gaze lifted to stare idly at the night sky.
"I... still wouldn't want to be a mafia boss," Tsuna mused softly. "And I don't think I could lead a crime family into k- killing people or anything. But..."
"But?" Reborn prompted.
A sliver of orange surfaced in his eyes as Tsuna turned to look at Reborn.
"But if I were, if I had to become Vongola Decimo, I'd change it."
Reborn watched silently as the brunet straightened and the orange flooded out the brown.
"I'd change the Vongola Family. Stop the killing and work to protect instead."
Reborn pulled his fedora down. This was the answer he had been looking for.
"U- Uh, it's just a what-if though,"
Reborn glanced up again and met anxious brown eyes.
"I'm obviously not going to become anything like that," Tsuna scratched his head, shifting nervously. "I- I'm not good enough to become the boss o- of anything. A- And it's just a thought."
It's more than that, Reborn thought but didn't say anything out loud. This was enough for now.
Tsuna didn't say anything about his impromptu discovery to his twin. To him, it wasn't particularly important what their father did and he had no wish to deal with whatever reaction Hiko would have if he told him.
Neither did he tell their mother either. She had enough on her plate, and if she knew the extent to which her husband had lied to her, Tsuna was sure it would hit her hard, especially if she didn't find out through her husband.
At the moment though, Tsuna had finished another training session with Hibari (he was seriously going to die from a tonfa to the head or something one of these days) and was heading home. Hibari hated crowding so the first thing he had done when their spars had started had been to chase off Gokudera and Yamamoto. Normally, it wouldn't have worked, but after a few pleas on Tsuna's part and then Reborn stepping in and siding with him, the two had reluctantly backed off.
The first thing he noticed when he stepped into his house was the array of shoes lined up at the front. Tsuna had gotten used to his friends' arbitrary presence at his home that he could now identify who was here by said shoes alone – Hayato, Takeshi, Haru, and Mochida, which was a surprise because his senpai usually only came around in the mornings.
"I'm home," He called out almost automatically now. The words still felt a bit awkward but he was getting better.
His mother appeared, smiling and holding a plate of cookies. "Welcome back, Tsu-kun. Your friends are all upstairs. They're all staying for dinner tonight but here's a snack for now. Did Hibari-kun turn down the invitation again?"
Tsuna nodded, taking the plate. He doubted Hibari would accept anytime soon, and after the first time he had asked, the prefect had taken to biting him to death for a few extra minutes every time he offered ever since.
"Well, maybe next time," His mother said optimistically and headed back into the kitchen as Tsuna headed upstairs.
"Welcome back, Tsuna-sama!"
"Hey, Tsuna! You don't look as tired today. You must be getting better against Hibari."
"Hahi! Welcome back. Haru decided to come over to hang out!"
"Pipsqueak, what the hell took you so long? I had to listen to your lapdogs argue with each other."
"Oh, Tsuna-nii, are those cookies?"
Tsuna smiled a little at the exuberant greetings as he closed his bedroom door behind him. Hiko had the bigger room to fit all his sports equipment so everyone looked a bit crowded but Tsuna couldn't remember ever being happier. He had spent most of his life coming home to an empty bedroom and a mother who was always occupied with Hiko's latest success.
He placed the cookies down on the table and everyone immediately converged on them as Tsuna circled around them to put down his bag.
"Hey, Reborn-san, Leon," Tsuna greeted the tutor currently sitting on the windowsill and paused to pet the chameleon. "Where's Hiko?"
"Out with friends," Reborn said shortly before directing the conversation elsewhere. Tsuna had the feeling that the hitman didn't really like talking about his twin. "How was your spar with Hibari?"
A proud smile bloomed on his face before he could stop it. "I got in a hit today. Hibari-san looked pleased."
"Hm," Reborn nodded with approval before changing Leon into a fishing rod and hooking a cookie from the table. "You're getting better. At least you're not falling down from exhaustion anymore."
Tsuna's smile grew and then winced when Reborn smacked him over the head.
"Don't get a big head," Reborn said, munching on the cookie as if he hadn't just hit someone. "You're still far from an acceptable level."
Tsuna huffed but nodded. That was true. Hibari was still kicking his butt ninety-nine times out of a hundred.
"You stupid cow! Stop hogging all the food! Leave some for Tsuna-sama!"
Tsuna turned in time to see Hayato hold the plate out of Lambo's reach. The Bovino wriggled in vain as the bomber picked him up and dragged him away from the cookies.
"Aho-dera's so mean!" Lambo cried. "Lambo-san wants cookies!"
"Hahi! Stop harassing him. He's only had three!"
"Three's more than enough. There's only fourteen altogether."
"Lambo-san wants another one!" Lambo tried to lunge for the snacks only to trip and land on his face, promptly bursting into tears.
"Aho-dera!" The Bovino screeched and pulled out his bazooka.
Before Tsuna could blink, Reborn had used the Leon-fishing-rod to yank the bazooka away from Lambo, but unfortunately, at that exact moment, Mochida leaned forward for a better look at the weapon and the bazooka caught him on the head, swallowing him in an explosion of pink smoke.
Tsuna thought it was Hayato who summed it up best.
When Reborn had seen the bazooka being taken out, he had wanted to avoid another face-off with the future cow. He didn't particularly mind either when the bazooka hit Mochida instead... right up until the point where his nose picked up the coppery tang of blood.
"Out," Reborn leapt off the windowsill, his voice brooking no arguments as the smoke began to clear. "Everyone out; now."
Nobody argued and there was a mad scramble for the door, but the last thing Reborn saw before he slammed the door close behind Tsuna was the dawning realization mixed with growing dread on the brunet's face as the teen caught a glimpse of what the bazooka had brought back.
Reborn had no time to curse as he turned back to the body lying limply in the middle of the room. Slipping seamlessly into a hitman's mindset, he ignored the familiarity of the face and categorized each wound with cold calculation instead.
Cuts and bruises marring skin. Deep gash at the temple but that didn't seem to be the killing blow. A near-fatal sword wound to the chest a quarter of an inch left of the heart was more likely. Judging by the blood that stained the clothes, this person had bled to death before help could arrive.
Hardened calluses on the hands suggested long-time use of a sword of some type so he had probably died fighting against another swordsman. The dried blood wasn't flaking yet and the larger wounds were still wet so he had only died recently, less than twelve hours ago.
There was also the faint scent of smoke so wherever the fight had taken place had been burning or at least a fire-type weapon had been used. The body was lying at an odd angle as well, as if it had not been moved from when the man had finally fallen, so either there had been no allies to aid him or all the allies had been killed.
Drawing in a deep breath before slowly releasing it, Reborn finally drew back, mouth set in a grim line as he pulled his fedora down. His instincts told him that Mochida Kensuke hadn't just been killed in a random fight. He would put money down on the fact that the teen's future self had been involved with Vongola, or at least a mafia group.
That being said, Reborn hoped whoever had killed Mochida in the future wasn't still lurking around. The boy didn't stand a chance, and no doubt, he would be very confused.
Reborn hadn't been particularly pleased when Tsuna had semi-befriended Mochida. When Hiko had challenged Mochida in kendo during that first week Reborn had still been ignorant of the dynamics between the Sawada twins, Mochida had struck him as arrogant and chauvinistic, not someone worth knowing. He supposed that was why he was no Sky; he didn't accept other people easily, and he couldn't be bothered to take the time to understand anyone not placed under his care.
But somehow, a large part of it because of Tsuna's surprisingly powerful influence, the boy had changed. Subtle changes that no one outside of their little circle would notice, but Mochida now reminded Reborn of a much less ardent but just as foul-mouthed Gokudera instead.
His mental clock ticked down and pink smoke erupted in front of him. Reborn braced himself. He wasn't looking forward to what would happen next.
The smoke lifted and Reborn inwardly grimaced at the pale features and haunted eyes. Luckily, Mochida didn't seem like he had gotten into any particular scuffle, though his clothes smelled of the same smoke that had clung onto his future self. The teen looked around, slightly dazed and visibly shaken, before zeroing in on Reborn.
"What- What the fuck was that?" Mochida rasped, staggering to his feet. "What the hell did that-" His eyes darted to the innocent-looking bazooka laying several feet away. "What the hell did that thing do to me?"
Reborn studied him from under the brim of his fedora before deciding on the truth. There was no way Mochida would believe him if he claimed it was a vision; it was far too real, and it wasn't possible for Mochida to keep hanging around Tsuna without knowing anyway.
"It's called the Ten-Year Bazooka," Reborn explained bluntly. "A weapon that switches you with your ten-year older future self for five minutes. Made by the Bovino Family."
Mochida gaped openly at him for a moment, any remaining colour leaching from his face as the teen visibly realized that Reborn wasn't joking.
"What the hell are you people?" He whispered, eyes flickering to the door before shifting back to Reborn.
"Mafia," Reborn said simply. The boy had to know. Besides, if he decided to go to the police, which actually wasn't very likely, a few bribes from the Vongola and the police would stay quiet.
Mochida took a step back, his entire body tense, and it was only made worse when the door burst open and everyone else tumbled in.
That was the last straw. The kendo captain grabbed his bag, not bothering to close it properly, before roughly shoving past them all.
"You people are fucking crazy!" He threw over his shoulder as he stormed out of the house. The echo of the front door banging shut left a hollow silence in its wake.
"...W- What happened?" Haru was the first to speak, looking wide-eyed and a little scared.
Of all of them, it seemed Tsuna and Gokudera understood the situation best. Reborn eyed the brunet's shadowed eyes and Gokudera's dark frown before sighing.
"Leave him alone for today," Reborn advised, making his way over to the bazooka. He wanted to confiscate it, maybe even destroy it, but it was Bovino property in the end and Reborn had no right to it. Instead, he turned to the cow with a hard gleam in his eyes.
"Don't pull this out again," Reborn ordered, tossing it back to a watery-eyed Lambo. He made a point of cocking his gun. "Or else."
Lambo shrank back and looked about two seconds away from crying again but Tsuna cut in, scooping the Bovino up and shooting a faint frown at Reborn. Reborn stared back flatly and the brunet dropped his gaze in a resigned manner.
"Come on, Lambo," Tsuna murmured instead. "Put that away. I think dinner's almost ready. Let's go help Kaa-san, okay?"
With a sniffle, the cow stuffed the bazooka back in his hair and settled comfortably in Tsuna's arms, ducking out of Reborn's line of sight. The rest of the teens followed Tsuna out and Reborn was left to clean up the faint smears of red left behind by the corpse.
He would have to be more careful from now on. He would rather suffer through another round of glares and sullen looks from the cow's future self than bring back another dead body.
The next three days passed quickly and Tsuna only got more worried with each passing hour. Mochida had called in sick and kendo practice had been postponed for the time being. Tsuna wasn't sure which would be worse; that Mochida had obviously been affected badly enough that he wanted to stay home, or that every time Tsuna closed his eyes, he could only see the bloody corpse in his bedroom.
Reborn hadn't said anything when he found Tsuna sleeping out in the hallway after the first night, curled up in blankets with Lambo, who hadn't complained and thought it quite fun to be sleeping amongst a flood of pillows on the floor. The tutor simply waking him up before his mother stumbled over him and refraining from commenting when he noticed Tsuna avoiding his bedroom as much as possible.
"You are not concentrating."
Hibari's cool voice sliced through his thoughts and Tsuna hunched his shoulders sheepishly, staring miserably at the floor. A long silence followed before he heard footsteps walking away and he quickly looked up.
"H- Hibari-san!" Tsuna called after the prefect, watching him nervously.
Hibari paused by the door, glancing back disdainfully. "Resolve your issue with the herbivore by the end of the week. I expect your full attention by Monday or I will bite you to death."
Tsuna gawked as the prefect disappeared from sight. Had Hibari just given him permission to take a break from their training sessions? Well, he wasn't going to complain. Reborn had told him to give Mochida some space but it had been three days and Tsuna hadn't seen him at all. He needed to know that the captain would be okay.
"Ken-chan?" Haruka knocked tentatively on her son's door. "Tsuna-kun is out front asking for you. He wants to see if you-"
"No," Kensuke's voice was harsh, much like how it used to be before the brunet currently waiting anxiously on the doorstep had appeared in her son's life. "I don't want anything to do with him. Tell him to fuck off and never show his damn face here again."
Haruka sighed. She had long since given up on trying to curb his language but she had thought it was getting better. All that time over at Tsuna's house seemed to have taken some of the curses out of his vocabulary since the younger teen had siblings.
Making her way back to the front door where Tsuna was waiting, Haruka smiled apologetically at the anxious-looking brunet.
"I'm sorry, Tsuna-kun. Ken-chan still isn't feeling very well," Her smile turned hesitant. "Perhaps you could come back tomorrow?"
She fervently hoped whatever her son was so hung up on wouldn't break the tentative friendship he had formed with Tsuna. She hadn't seen Kensuke as happy as he had been for the past few weeks in a long time.
"Of course, Haruka-san," Tsuna looked even more upset but he bowed and thanked her for her time before leaving.
Haruka sighed and quietly closed the door.
"Was that Tsunayoshi-kun?"
She jumped a little at her husband's voice but nodded as she turned to face him. "Yes, he came to ask after Ken-chan. Do you have any idea what happened?"
Sousuke frowned and shook his head. "No," He glanced down the hall that led to their son's bedroom. "But I think it's time I found out."
It had been nearly forty-five minutes since his father had forced his way into Kensuke's room and was now sitting calmly on his bed, waiting for Kensuke to speak.
Kensuke twitched subtly as he stared determinedly out the window from his desk chair. When it came to patience, his father had it in spades. The man could probably outwait the apocalypse.
He shuddered a little at that thought as the memory of his brief trip to the future swept back to the forefront of his mind. God, what the hell had he been doing in that burning building? And there had been bodies scattered around, cut down and broken. It wasn't that far a stretch to guess that he had been in much the same condition.
Mafia. That was about the last thing he would guess Sawada to be but the baby had been completely serious. And the baby. A fucking kid was involved in the mafia. Of course, Kensuke always knew there was something off about Reborn (what kind of child drank coffee and was capable of ordering people around and making them do as they were told?) but this was downright crazy. A bazooka that switched yourself with your future self? What kind of technology did the mafia have exactly?
"Have you..." Kensuke didn't turn to look at his old man as he forced the words out. "Have you ever heard of the Ten-Year Bazooka?"
His father's answer was swift if a slightly confused. "No. What is it?"
Kensuke ignored this. "How about the Bovino Family?"
This time, the silence was long and telling and Kensuke twisted around to look at his old man at last. His father was frowning heavily at him.
"I have," He said slowly. "It's a small mafia family in Italy."
"You know of it?" Kensuke asked dubiously.
His father eyed him closely. "I do read the newspaper, Kensuke. The mafia may stay in the shadows but even they appear in the media now and then. The Bovino have been mentioned once or twice. Very vaguely of course; nothing substantial, and I have a few contacts in the police force and other places. They keep me updated. ...Why do you ask?"
Kensuke's shoulders sagged and when the memory of the future flashed through his mind again, he finally gave in and told his father what had happened. It was near-unbelievable and he would've thought he had gone crazy if it hadn't been so real, but his dad listened with a carefully neutral face, not interrupting him until he had finished.
He doesn't believe me, Kensuke thought morbidly in the ensuing silence. He's gonna check me into the nearest madhouse and-
"So what will you do now?"
Kensuke blinked. "Huh?" He asked intelligently.
His father raised an eyebrow at him. "You seem to be involved in the mafia in this future. If Tsunayoshi-kun is indeed mafia, then perhaps cutting ties with him would be for the best."
Kensuke was more than a little surprised when the first thing that came to mind was a vehement 'no' in response.
"The future is never set in stone, Kensuke," His father rose to his feet. "What you saw is a possible future, the future you mighthave should you continue your friendship with Tsunayoshi-kun. The simplest solution is to cut all ties with him."
"...And what are the other solutions?" Kensuke couldn't help asking as his father made for the door.
"You'll have to figure that out for yourself. It isn't my future in question."
"Tsuna-sama, this isn't healthy," Hayato insisted. "You'll catch a cold if you stay out here any longer."
"He's right, Tsuna," Takeshi tilted the umbrella he was holding so that it better covered the brunet sitting with his back against the large walls surrounding the Mochida estate. The place had to be big to fit an entire dojo and a large house. "Mochida-senpai isn't going anywhere. We can come back tomorrow."
Tsuna shook his head stubbornly. He had been turned away twice more in the last two days and had finally decided to sit outside until Mochida came out. The kendo captain couldn't stay inside forever and Tsuna wasn't going to miss him just because he had gone home.
He heard a sigh above him and then almost started when Hayato dropped down next to him, legs sprawled out carelessly in front of him. A heartbeat later, Takeshi had slid down on his left, shifting the large umbrella so that it covered all three of them.
"That kendo bastard better appreciate this," Hayato growled. "Making Tsuna-sama wait out in the rain; how selfish can he be?"
"Maa, maa," Takeshi grinned cheerfully as he poked at some of the raindrops flecking the outside of the umbrella. "A little rain never hurt anyone. And this is kinda fun, isn't it? It's like we're camping out."
"Baseball freak, that's the most stupid thing you've said to date," Hayato deadpanned. "And considering the fact that all you ever do is spout stupid things, that's really saying a lot."
Tsuna opened his mouth to tell them that they didn't have to stay but, as if sensing his intention, Takeshi quickly responded to Hayato's retort, his shoulder pressing more firmly against Tsuna's. After a moment's hesitation, Hayato did the same. Neither let up on the stream of conversation as they huddled under the umbrella under the stormy sky.
And Tsuna couldn't help the contented smile that spread freely across his face.
"Mochida Kensuke, you will come out right this instant," Haruka said sharply, finally fed up with her son's sullen mood. There was only so much sulking a teenager was allowed to do and when that moping led to the current situation, enough was enough.
Kensuke knew when Haruka meant business because the door swung open a few seconds later.
"What?" He bit out irritably.
Haruka whacked him upside the head. "Don't take that tone with me, young man. I bear with your language and your bad habits but I am still your mother. Now march."
She ignored her son's spluttering as she half-guided, half-dragged him outside, not bothering to grab an umbrella as they stepped out onto a porch that overlooked the front of the house and the street beyond their property's walls.
"What the hell's going on?" Kensuke complained, shaking water out of his eyes as the rain came down in buckets. "Kaa-san, you're getting soaked!"
Haruka smiled grimly. Well, if her son still had the presence of mind to sound so disrespectful while worrying about her, then he would be fine.
"Take a look," She ordered, pointing at the gates. From this angle, even through the pouring rain, the three small figures huddled next to the entryway under one umbrella were perfectly clear.
Haruka hid a smile when Kensuke looked and then did a double-take, and she would have missed the flash of concern on his face had she not been looking for it.
"What about it?" Kensuke demanded once he had his expression back under control. "It's none of my concern if they want to freeze their balls off out there."
Haruka raised an elegant eyebrow. "Oh really? Well then," She turned on her heel and strode back inside. "I don't suppose it is any of my concern if I leave you out here as well."
And with that said, she shut the porch door and locked it in one brisk movement, ignoring the stunned look Kensuke was now wearing.
If her son was too proud to pull his head out of his – pardon her language – stubborn ass, then Haruka would make him do it.
Tsuna, along with Hayato and Takeshi, all looked up when the muffled sound of the gates opening reached their ears. Seconds later, a completely soaked and equally pissed off Mochida stalked out, crossing his arms and towering over them as he glared from behind wet bangs.
"What the fuck are you doing here?" He hissed.
Tsuna scrambled to his feet, ducking out from under the umbrella and instantly getting drenched from head to toe.
"I- I just wanted to know if you were alright," He stammered.
Mochida opened his mouth, no doubt to yell at him some more, and Tsuna felt more than saw Hayato gearing up for a fight.
But instead, the kendo captain blurted out, looking just a little bit lost, "Are you all mafia?"
Tsuna blinked and Hayato made a noise of disbelief behind him while Takeshi laughed.
"Oh, senpai, do you want to play the mafia game with us too?"
Tsuna had to force himself not to groan out loud as Hayato muttered something scathing in Italian.
"What?!" Mochida stared incredulously at Takeshi. "The mafia's re-"
"It- It's not like that, senpai," Tsuna hastily cut in. "W- We're not actually in the mafia. Well, Hayato-kun is but..." He trailed off helplessly and then sneezed violently as a shiver wracked his body. He really should have brought an extra jacket.
"God, why am I stuck with such idiots?" Mochida snapped and then promptly grabbed his arm and hauled him towards the gates. "This means nothing, you hear? I just want an explanation and I don't want to listen to it in this fucking downpour."
"Let go of Tsuna-sama!" Hayato ranted expectedly as he and Takeshi followed, still smiling good-naturedly.
"What changed your mind anyway, senpai?" Takeshi asked curiously. "It would've been easier to come out when it was sunny earlier."
Mochida twitched. "My mom kicked me out," He snarled, shoving Tsuna under the porch roof of the dojo. "Now talk."
And Tsuna did, explaining about the Vongola and Hiko and Reborn, much like how Hayato had done with Takeshi. Except Mochida soaked in every word and believed them to be real while Takeshi had taken it to be a game. Tsuna wasn't sure which was better.
"So will you play with us?" Takeshi persisted with an easy smile even in the face of Mochida's disgusted look of disbelief. "It'll be fun. We can be a Family too, can't we? We'll be fighting separately from Hiko though."
Mochida just stared for a moment longer before snorting derisively. "You are so many levels fucked up, Yamamoto. And no," He added with a sneer. "I don't want to play your... mafia game with you. Do I look like I'm fucking suicidal?"
Tsuna was torn between relief and disappointment at hearing this. On one hand, it meant Mochida would be relatively safer than he would have been had he decided to 'play mafia' as well. On the other hand, Tsuna had resigned himself to the fact that the mafia was going to be part of his life from now on. It wasn't possible for anyone to be near him and not get involved, which meant Mochida wouldn't want anything to do with them anymore.
Tsuna couldn't blame him. It wasn't even his own dead body and he shuddered every time that particular memory surfaced.
"I'm sorry," He mumbled, mentally cringing as Mochida's glare instantly slid over to him. "It- It would've been better if we had told you first."
"Damn straight," Mochida snapped, ignoring the bristling Hayato sitting behind Tsuna.
Tsuna nodded wearily. "I- I suppose you want me to quit kendo?" He offered, still blinking water out of his eyes as he pushed himself to his feet. "Y- You'll come back to school then, right?"
There was silence from the kendo captain and Tsuna took it for an affirmative. Shoulders hunched, he stepped back out in the rain, barely noticing when Takeshi opened his umbrella over him and Hayato started muttering obscenities under his breath. Distantly, he had a feeling the bomber would've picked a fight with Mochida had Tsuna not been there.
Two quick footsteps behind him and a sudden slap over the head made Tsuna yelp and spin around again. Still coming down in buckets, the rain made the scowl on Mochida's face even worse.
"You damn bastard!" Hayato hollered above the torrent. "He already said he'd leave you alone! Don't-"
"Shut up!" Mochida shot back, cutting the bomber off before returning his gaze to Tsuna.
"I don't wanna die," He said bluntly and Tsuna flinched. "And as much as it pains me to say this, I don't particularly want to see you die either. Like I said; I'm not suicidal, so the only option I see here that won't fuck us all over anytime in the near future is to get strong enough so that that won't happen." His sneer grew more pronounced. "Quitting kendo ain't gonna help, pipsqueak, and didn't I tell you I wouldn't let you quit until you could kick half the club's asses? I'm a lot of things, but a liar ain't one of them. Understand?"
Tsuna gaped at him and Hayato had fallen into a stunned silence, so in the end, it was Takeshi who answered first.
"Looks like you're playing the mafia game with us after all!" The baseball player grinned happily as he glanced at Tsuna. "That's one more for our Family, right Tsuna?"
Tsuna nodded dumbly, not really thinking the action through at the moment.
"I ain't playing, freak!" Mochida barked. "I'm doing this for my own survival here. I doubt the fucking mafia's gonna leave me alone even if I stop hanging out with you idiots now."
Takeshi laughed. "I always knew you were a softie inside."
This only served to incense Mochida who lunged at Takeshi before Tsuna could stop him, and Hayato looked torn between breaking up the fight for Tsuna and cheering Mochida on.
Tsuna just sighed and watched them with a troubled frown. He wondered if it made him a bad person to feel so ridiculously happy now that Mochida had, more or less, agreed to stick with them.
"I'm probably gonna grow up with connections to the mafia," Kensuke said as soon as his father walked into the house. His mother had finally let him back into the house after the rain had let up and his three totally-not-friends had left.
His father blinked at him, unperturbed. "That is the path you have chosen then?"
Kensuke shrugged carelessly, rubbing a towel through his hair. "Well, at least it won't be fucking boring."
When his father only nodded and retrieved a glass of water from the sink, Kensuke huffed. "What? Not gonna complain that your son is gonna become a criminal?"
His father paused, glass halfway to his mouth as the man's eyes carefully assessed him.
"I run a dojo, Kensuke," His father said at last. "I teach people how to defend themselves, how to fight. What they do with that skill is up to them. Whether to protect or to kill or to do nothing at all is entirely their decision."
Kensuke stared wide-eyed as his father shrugged. "Some have moved on to become policemen, others have become normal citizens who can fight but have no desire to. And still others have joined the local yakuza."
"The yakuza?" Kensuke spluttered. "And this doesn't bother you?"
His father tilted his head in a thoughtful manner. "Not all yakuza are completely bad, Kensuke. Those who I still have contact with are fairly respectful compared to others."
"...Wait, whenever you say you have 'contacts in other places', you mean yakuza?" Kensuke enquired dubiously.
His father nodded, unconcerned. "They are usually the best source of information when it comes to anything underground."
Kensuke couldn't find anything to say to this and his father gave him a faint smile as he placed the glass in the sink before heading for the door again. As he passed Kensuke, he man ruffled his hair in an uncharacteristically affectionate gesture before withdrawing again.
"What you do with your life is up to you, Kensuke. Just make it worth your while. Eventually, when you die, be able to look back and have no regrets. That's the kind of life I want you to live."
Kensuke said nothing as he watched his father leave. He leaned back in his chair once he was alone, hands drifting down to settle on his lap as he let the towel rest on his head, momentarily blocking out the rest of the world.
The memory of the future flashed in his mind again, and instead of shoving it down per usual, he let his thoughts drift to what he had found right before the bazooka had sent him back, something he hadn't even told his father.
The five minutes had seemed much longer and he had still had the presence of mind to look around for anything that might help in that burning building. He had found a bag next to a bloodied sword – the same sword that currently hung in his father's study – and had rifled through it. He had found medical supplies, a shattered phone, a few daggers, and a missive, crumpled in a way that suggested it had been folded and unfolded, read and reread dozens of times.
Sawada Tsunayoshi's death has been confirmed. All allies are to disappear underground and await further orders.
Kensuke had first frozen and then been physically sick as the words had sunk in. Everything had been too damn real for him to believe it was all a sick joke, and now he had a confirmation.
It rankled him that a pipsqueak like Sawada had managed to worm his way under his skin in the end but he supposed he couldn't complain. Life had certainly become a lot less monotonous than before and he found that he no longer had to think of something to do after school. Sometimes, he would watch Sawada's sparring sessions with Hibari from afar – with-a-pair-of-binoculars afar because Hibari was not someone he wanted to cross weapons with just yet – or if he was in a tolerant mood and the time was right, he would go and watch one of Yamamoto's baseball games, or, when he experienced temporary insanity, he would bicker with Gokudera until Sawada and Yamamoto were done with their extracurricular activities, and then they would all head over to Sawada's house or his house or Yamamoto's house for sushi. Usually Yamamoto's house because there was only so much madness he could stand when he was at Sawada's and he didn't want their stupidity to contaminate his own place.
But he never had to come up with something to do anymore.
He couldn't bring himself to tell them about the missive. No doubt, Gokudera would flip and Yamamoto would get that freakishly scary look on his face whenever Sawada's damn twin started spouting shit within their vicinity and Sawada himself...
Well, he wasn't really sure what Sawada would do but it would probably irritate him and he had enough of that during kendo practice.
So Kensuke would stick with the so-called 'mafia game'. He hadn't lied when he said he wouldn't play; this wasn't a game to him. He'd train like hell and whoever had managed to kill him in the future wouldn't find it so easy this time around.
And whoever had killed Sawada would have another thing coming when he got his hands on them.
Tsuna blinked when he stepped gingerly into his room. Even after the body had disappeared and Reborn had gotten rid of the bloodstains, his senses had always picked up the invisible remains of what the corpse had left behind and he had avoided this room like the plague.
None of the usual alarm bells rang though and he looked around with open bewilderment. His room certainly still looked the same.
"I replaced the carpet."
Tsuna jumped at Reborn's voice and wheeled around to find the hitman strolling into the room. The tutor somehow gave him a stern look without ever actually shifting his features as he jumped up onto the desk.
"I replaced it," Reborn repeated. "So I expect you to stop sleeping in the hallway from now on. If you let a little blood get to you, what are you going to do if something worse happens?"
Tsuna stared for a moment before setting his bag down and dropping onto his bed for the first time in five days.
"It's not the blood that gets to me," He explained quietly, his voice taking on a distant tone as his thoughts turned inward. "I'm used to cleaning up after myself after a run-in with bullies. It's just- That was Mochida-senpai, wasn't it?"
Tsuna glanced over at Reborn and tried to decipher the unreadable look on the hitman's face. He couldn't though, and it was a long while before Reborn spoke again.
"What are you training for, Tsuna?"
The question took Tsuna by surprise but the answer came swift and sure. "To protect my friends."
Reborn nodded once, sharply. "Then you'll be fine," He said cryptically, leaping onto the windowsill.
"W- Wait!" Tsuna shook his head in confusion. "What does that have to do with anything?"
A smirk was sent in his direction. "Figure it out yourself. You can't expect me to tell you everything."
Tsuna scowled petulantly after the hitman as he disappeared out the window. Reborn was always infuriating like that.
Reborn couldn't help the satisfied smirk that spread over his features as the five-year-old assassin managed to throw Hiko back with her Gyoza-Ken.
"You seem rather happy considering it is your student I-Pin has just taken down."
Reborn glanced to his left, unsurprised to find his fellow Arcobaleno standing there. "Hello, Fon. I thought she might be your student."
The martial artist nodded serenely. "Yes, I-Pin is a good apprentice. She works very hard." He turned an enquiring look on Reborn. "And you? You do not seem pleased with your student."
Reborn tilted his fedora down. Fon had always had the irritating ability to read him if Reborn didn't have his guard up completely.
"Hiko is progressing," Reborn allowed. "He is getting stronger."
Fon looked thoughtfully from Reborn to the scene below them. "But you are not happy with other aspects," He deduced, ignoring the glare Reborn shot him. "He must be a stubborn one if he has frustrated even you."
Reborn tightened his grip on his fedora but refused to say anything else. 'Stubborn' wasn't exactly how he would describe Hiko but Fon didn't need to know anything else.
"Well," Fon smiled pleasantly as he met Reborn's gaze again. "I'm not actually supposed to be here and I-Pin might be hurt if she thought I shadowed her on her job so I'll leave you to clear things up with our students, if you don't mind."
Reborn nodded, giving the Storm Arcobaleno a cursory look. "Why are you here then?"
"I finished my own job early and decided to come meet I-Pin when she was done," Fon's eyes flickered around the layout of the school. "Not to mention I thought I would drop by and see how my nephew is doing, but he wasn't at home."
At this, Reborn smirked again, getting to his feet as I-Pin advanced on his idiot student. "Try the west roof. You might find something interesting."
With that said, Reborn leapt off the metal fence and headed over to Hiko and Fon's apprentice. He wondered if Gyoza might clear some of the stupidity in HIko's head.
It didn't take long for Fon to make his way over to the west rooftop as Reborn had suggested. Hopping up onto the metal fence that surrounded the roof, Fon blinked in surprise at the scene that met his eyes.
His nephew was fighting – which wasn't surprising – against a smaller student who looked exactly like the one he had been watching a moment ago.
Not exactly, he decided after a closer look. So this must be the brother. He had known that Reborn was training the next Vongola heir and that said heir had a brother but he hadn't known it was a twin.
Fon's first thought was that the brunet must have broken school rules and his nephew was teaching the boy a lesson. It took him a few seconds to pick up the way Kyouya was adjusting an elbow here and a kick there. It took him even longer to realize and process the fact that his antisocial nephew had seemingly taken on a student.
Reborn certainly hadn't been joking when he said that Fon would find something interesting.
Fon hadn't bothered masking his presence so when a tonfa came hurtling in his direction, he easily sidestepped the weapon, sighing as he reached out to snag it as it came flying by. Honestly, his nephew was far too violent sometimes.
"Hello, Kyouya," Fon greeted, jumping down onto the ground and extending the tonfa as a peace offering. "It has been a while. I'm glad to see you are doing well."
His nephew stared down at him with narrowed eyes. Kyouya had made it clear that he didn't like anyone knowing that they were related but Fon knew that if his nephew was completely adverse to it with the smaller teen around, the fifteen-year-old wouldn't have brought attention to Fon like he had.
Which only served to make Fon all the more curious about the timid-looking brunet currently staring between the two of them.
Fully turning to face the boy, Fon took in the softer tone of brown that made up the teen's eyes. He had always believed that eyes could tell quite a bit about a person – whether they were honest, whether they were kind, whether they were trustworthy – and while this boy looked nervous, there was a subtle strength in his gaze that caught Fon's attention.
"What are you doing here?" Kyouya interrupted his thoughts, and Fon didn't miss the slight – very slight – shift to the right that cut the smaller teen off from Fon's direct line of sight.
Fon smothered a smile, a little amazed and a little shocked at the same time.
"I came to meet up with my student," Fon replied evenly. "And I thought I would stop by your school as well since it was on my way."
He didn't mention anything about his work; it was the reason Kyouya disliked their relation being known. Not the fact that Fon sometimes had to kill on his jobs, but the fact that most of the Chinese Triads' ideals opposed Kyouya's. Fon sometimes disagreed as well but they were his employers so he had no room to complain.
"And who's this?" Fon continued, turning a friendly smile on the brunet. He watched the teen stiffen even further but some of the wariness left his features as he studied Fon.
Kyouya didn't bother glancing at the teen. Instead, without taking his eyes off Fon, he ordered curtly, "Herbivore, lesson's over for the day. Go home. Do not loiter on school grounds or I will bite you to death."
The brunet stalled for a few seconds, still observing them, but nodded slowly after a while. He dipped his head politely in Fon's direction and his fingers brushed the flapping sleeve of Kyouya's coat as he passed as if saying a silent farewell before grabbing his bag and disappearing from the roof. The boy never said a word.
"Was that really necessary, Kyouya?" Fon sighed, undaunted by the silver glare aimed at him.
"What are you here for?" His nephew demanded shortly, ignoring Fon's question.
The martial artist tilted his head. Kyouya had never taken any interest in his line of work, preferring not to have anything to do with it.
"It is not for work, Kyouya," Fon assured. "My student is here and I am planning to meet up with her after she is done."
His nephew glared even harder. "You have taken an interest in that herbivore," He said coolly, obviously not believing him. "He is a student of Namimori. I will not allow even the Chinese Triads to touch him."
Fon was hard-pressed to hide his surprise but he took a few seconds to closer observe his nephew. The only reason Kyouya would think that someone had sent Fon to assassinate the brunet would be because his nephew already knew who the smaller teen was, or, more specifically, who he was related to.
"He is not my target, Kyouya," Fon said at last, keeping his voice open and honest. "I am not here for a job."
His nephew eyed him for a moment longer before tucking his tonfa away with a dismissive grunt and stalking for the door.
"Does this mean I am allowed to meet your student?" Fon called, partly-teasing but partly-serious as well.
No answer. Fon would take that as a yes.
I-Pin shuffled down the sidewalk, head bowed. Her Master would be so disappointed with her if he knew she had not only failed to assassinate her target but that she had harmed an innocent as well. Not very much though; she didn't think the person would even have bruises, but he was very angry anyway. She supposed it was lucky that her Master's friend, Reborn, had been there to stop her.
She stumbled and fell back when she bumped into someone in front of her. Peering up through the large glasses Reborn had let her keep, she shrank back when she found the person she had mistaken for her target staring down at her.
"I-Pin sorry!" She babbled, bowing from where she had fallen. "I-Pin didn't see you!"
She chanced a glance up and was taken aback to find a soft smile aimed back at her. The teenager nodded, stooping down and extending a hand in her direction.
I-Pin stared warily at the boy. She couldn't sense the earlier hostility and this person felt different. Were the glasses not working?
"I'm sorry too," The person offered. "I wasn't watching where I was going."
The teenager talked differently too; much kinder than before. I-Pin hesitated and then tentatively grabbed the hand still being held out to her. The person helped her up, gently setting her on her feet but remained crouching.
"Are you lost?" The person – I-Pin was almost certain he wasn't the same one as before – asked. "Do you need any help?"
I-Pin looked around helplessly. She was sure her target had already moved on or wasn't even in this area and her Master wasn't coming to meet her until next week.
I-Pin jumped at the familiar voice and she spun around, brightening despite her failure at the sight of her Master.
"Master!" She greeted happily as he landed in front of her. A frown quickly made its way onto her face. "I-Pin sorry. I-Pin failed her mission."
Fon just smiled. "It's alright, I-Pin. Perhaps you can take a short break and hone your skills some more."
I-Pin nodded at once. She liked training more than carrying out missions and her Master wasn't mad at her, which was even better.
Fon patted her on the shoulder before glancing up and I-Pin tensed when she remembered who was behind her. Odd. The person she had accidentally attacked on the roof had made her put her guard up until she had been absolutely she was no longer in his vicinity.
"Hello again," Her Master greeted and I-Pin looked up as well. The teenager looked much more guarded now and he was focusing on Fon. Was he afraid of her Master?
"We didn't get to any introductions earlier," Her Master continued. "I'm Fon, and this is my student I-Pin. May I ask for your name?"
I-Pin looked between them. Her Master had said 'again' and 'earlier'. This definitely wasn't the person she had met, but then why did they look so alike? Maybe... brothers?
But the teenager remained silent, staring cautiously at her Master. I-Pin didn't understand but Fon seemed to.
"Are you worried for Kyouya? I'm sorry; my nephew and I do not often see eye-to-eye on certain things. He doesn't like to let people know we're related either."
I-Pin blinked. Her Master had mentioned a nephew in Japan once or twice but he tended to keep it quiet. In front of them though, the person nodded slowly, surprised, but some of the wariness leaked away.
"T- Tsuna," He mumbled, rocking back on his heels. "I'm Sawada Tsunayoshi, but you can call me Tsuna. I- It's nice to meet you."
Unlike many, his gaze covered both of them instead of deferring to her Master. While I-Pin didn't mind at all, she perked up at the fact that this person – Tsuna – didn't dismiss her right away.
Her Master smiled gently. "Likewise, Tsuna-kun. Thank you for taking care of my nephew."
Tsuna started, and then flushed red. "N- No, Hibari-san is the one who has been taking care of me. H- He's been teaching me how to fight."
Fon just shook his head but said no more. I-Pin thought her Master looked rather pleased.
They all turned in the direction of the voice and I-Pin blinked at the boy running towards them. He seemed to be her age but his attention was completely focused on Tsuna.
Tsuna rose and caught the boy when he leapt forward into Tsuna's arms.
"Hi, Lambo," In I-Pin's opinion, Tsuna's smile was much warmer than his brother's. "How was your day?"
The boy grinned widely. "Mamma took Lambo-san out for ice-cream today. We did the shopping and Lambo-san helped carry the bags."
Tsuna ruffled the boy's hair. "Did you? Wasn't it heavy?"
The boy puffed up, looking proud. "Of course not. Lambo-san is strong!"
Tsuna smiled again and then they both looked up as a voice cut in.
"You stupid cow, what did I say about running ahead? If you get lost, Tsuna-sama will have to waste time looking for you!"
"Haha, it's alright. He's a kid, Gokudera."
I-Pin's eyes widened as two more teenagers walked up, one of them greeting Tsuna with a respectful nod and the other throwing an arm around him.
"Oh, are these your friends, Tsuna?" The black-haired one asked, peering down at them.
Tsuna looked uncertain but gestured at I-Pin and her Master. "This is I-Pin and Fon-san. They're... visiting?" He glanced at them questioningly.
"We are," Fon confirmed. "We will be staying for awhile."
Tsuna nodded and motioned at the three newcomers. "This is Lambo. He's staying at my house at the moment. And this is Gokudera Hayato and Yamamoto Takeshi, my friends."
I-Pin wasn't sure what to make of the thrilled pride that flickered briefly through Tsuna's eyes as he introduced them.
"It is a pleasure to meet you," Her Master returned, and I-Pin bowed beside him. "I hear you're living with an old friend of mine as well. Reborn?"
Tsuna blinked, and then broke out into another smile, soft and subtly fond. "Yes. He's staying as my brother's home tutor."
I-Pin picked up the instant dislike that spiked amongst the group, particularly from Tsuna's two friends. She found herself silently agreeing, even if it was her fault for mistaking her target.
"Would you like to come over for a bit?" Tsuna was asking, and I-Pin looked over at her Master eagerly. She thought she might like to know this person who seemed the complete opposite of his twin.
Her Master looked briefly at her, amused, but inclined his head in affirmation. "If you don't mind, we would gladly accept."
And that was how I-Pin found herself in a game of tag with Lambo forty minutes later, dashing around Tsuna's house after the cackling boy. She had her training but Lambo seemed quite adept at evading her so they were evenly matched.
There had been a moment when I-Pin had first arrived and the teenager she had mistaken for her target – Hiko – greeted them with an ugly sneer. But any harsh words were lost between Tsuna, Gokudera, Yamamoto, and the pretty lady – Bianchi – who had opened the door for them, and Hiko ended up storming out of the house.
She also met Tsuna's mother and I-Pin quickly got used to calling her Mamma like Lambo after the woman insisted several times. Her Master also seemed content upon seeing Reborn and the two were currently sitting on the back of the couch talking quietly.
Another thirty minutes later and they were all eating dinner, and I-Pin could barely contain her glee at sharing a meal with so many people. She nodded shyly when, beside her, Tsuna asked softly if she wanted more rice. Her mission had been tiring and she hadn't eaten since breakfast.
I-Pin watched Tsuna move to the rice cooker. She was a little jealous of Lambo because Tsuna obviously considered the boy a younger brother. She had always been an only child and she barely remembered her parents. But Tsuna was kind to her too. Lambo had asked him to join in their game of tag earlier and he had chased them around the house without complaint, even though she knew older people didn't like playing with children all the time.
"Here you go, I-Pin," Tsuna placed the bowl in front of her, accompanied with a faint smile. I-Pin really liked Tsuna's smiles. They were a lot like her Master's, not as many but just as kind.
"Xiexie," She chirped. Tsuna had also picked up the simpler Chinese words and didn't have too much problem understanding thank-yous and other simple words even if he couldn't speak it.
"You don't have anywhere to stay?" Mamma was looking worried when Reborn mentioned that neither she nor her Master were staying anywhere at the moment. "Well, that's easy. This house is certainly big enough for two more of Reborn's friends."
"Oh no," Her Master interjected politely. "We couldn't possibly impose."
Mamma smile cheerfully at both of them. "Nonsense. The more the merrier. Although you will have to share the rooms."
Her Master still looked hesitant but I-Pin couldn't help looking over at Tsuna. She tinged pink and hastily looked away when Tsuna caught her glance.
"Tail-head will sleep with Lambo-san and Tsuna-nii, of course!" Lambo suddenly announced. "Right, Tsuna-nii?"
Tsuna blinked and I-Pin braced herself for an objection.
"Ah, well, I don't mind, but wouldn't it be better if she slept in Bianchi-san's room? She's a girl, after all."
There was a startled silence and then Gokudera leaned forward and eyed I-Pin critically. "Tsuna-sama, she's a girl?"
I-Pin blushed, trying to contain her embarrassment before her ability activated. She jumped when a gentle hand landed on her head and she heard Tsuna say sternly, "Hayato-kun, that's mean."
Gokudera pulled back, looking mortified, and quickly apologized to her. I-Pin beamed and felt herself calm down again.
Deciding that Tsuna was telling the truth when he had said he didn't mind, she piped up, "I-Pin doesn't mind either. I-Pin would like to stay with Tsuna-san."
Tsuna blinked down at her, surprised again, but he smiled a second later and I-Pin relaxed. It was okay.
"Tsuna, you'll have to put up Fon as well," Reborn ordered – I-Pin noticed Reborn always ordered but everyone seemed okay with it.
Her Master looked ready to protest again but between Tsuna's acquiescing nod and I-Pin's own hopeful look, he subsided without protest, though he did send a reproachful look in Reborn's direction.
I-Pin recalled the times her Master had taken her on some of his easy missions and along the way, they would train and eat and camp out under the stars. She had loved those times when her Master hadn't been as busy so she was more than delighted that he had some time to spare for now.
"It's decided then," Mamma clapped her hands. "Tsu-kun, could you run out and get a few more hammocks after dinner?"
Tsuna nodded as Gokudera and Yamamoto clamored their agreement to go as well, and as everyone settled back into their meals again, laughing and arguing and chatting, I-Pin thought she was beginning to understand what family meant.
"So? What do you think?"
Fon glanced over at the fedora-wearing hitman as he leapt up on the balcony railing with him. From there, they could see directly into Tsuna's room. Fon had to quirk a smile at the sight of the two children nestled on either side of the brunet he had met today.
"He has a very gentle soul," Fon tilted his head back for a moment, nostalgia briefly curling around his heart. "He reminds me of Luce."
Reborn didn't respond and Fon didn't expect him to. Instead, he remarked, "Did you know Tsuna-kun tells a bedtime story every night? He's a good storyteller; I-Pin was enthralled, and even I enjoyed it, though he seemed quite embarrassed at the beginning when I said I wanted to listen too."
"Hmph," Fon caught a ghost of a smile gracing Reborn's features before it slipped away. "Tsuna's easily embarrassed. He didn't used to talk either. He's gotten a lot better."
"Oh?" Fon turned his head to look at the hitman. "He didn't often talk before?"
Reborn shook his head. "He didn't talk, period. Didn't even make a sound when I tried scaring something out of him. But like I said; he's gotten a lot better."
Fon frowned, recalling the way the brunet had clammed up in front of him until he had brought Kyouya into the equation.
"Reborn," Fon hesitated briefly but forged on, his apprehension taking over as he remembered the dangerous anger and resentment he had seen in the younger twin. "Why is Tsuna-kun not your student?"
The silence that followed was terrible and fraught with tension but Fon waited it out patiently. Either Reborn would answer or he wouldn't and Fon would respect either decision.
"Because Nono's CEDEF leader's a goddamned idiot," Reborn finally said, startling Fon when a flash of weariness flickered across his face. The hitman must have tried every last trick in the book and then some with Takehiko if he felt this defeated. Fon had never known Reborn to fail in anything; this was a first.
"How long are you staying?" Reborn enquired abruptly, obviously no longer interested in continuing that line of conversation.
Fon relented graciously. "I am unsure, but at least for a few weeks more. I wish to observe Tsuna-kun's practices with my nephew."
Reborn smirked at this, much as he had before he had sent Fon off to the west rooftop. "Piqued your curiosity then?"
Fon chuckled. "In all the time I have known that boy, Kyouya has never taken particular interest in anything, not even that committee he leads. I want to see... just how wide a Sky Sawada Tsunayoshi can be."
His gaze slid back to the hitman when Reborn's smirk took on a satisfied edge. "I know that look. You are planning something, my friend."
Reborn didn't bother answering, hopping off the railing and heading back to Takehiko's room instead.
Fon watched him go, thoughtful and curious at the same time. He had a feeling something big would happen in the near future. Good or bad; only time would tell.
Hiko listened to the two babies sitting on the balcony. He had learned to regulate his breathing and as long as he stayed quite a ways away and strained his ears, he could pick out some of what was being said.
Inside, he seethed when the newcomer, Fon, questioned Reborn on his choice of student. Why did everyone pick Dame-Tsuna over him recently? Oh, his friends at school still remained the same and almost everyone continued to scorn his brother, but the select few that had sided with his twin made Dame-Tsuna so damn happy. What was the big deal anyway? They were just a few people but Dame-Tsuna looked like someone had given him the world on a silver platter.
And it wasn't just that Dame-Tsuna had gained a few friends. It was that everyone around his twin looked thrilled to be there, even that kendo captain who tried to insult his brother every other breath. His brother was pathetic yet even those two annoying children decided he was the best thing since sliced bread.
Hiko also hated that Hibari Kyouya had taken an interest in Dame-Tsuna as well. He was stronger than his twin yet the strongest student in Namimori had chosen his brother over him. It was unforgiveable.
Hiko would make Dame-Tsuna pay. After some of his humiliation from the defeat had dissipated, he had done some thinking. He would have to get stronger, and while Reborn hated him and vice-versa, the hitman was contractually obliged to tutor him and his chosen Family members.
So Hiko would get stronger. And when he had Vongola's power in his hands, he would make Dame-Tsuna wish he had never gone against Hiko.
*Ten Years in the Future*
"We've lost all contact with Kensuke's squad."
"Fuck, just what we need. I told him not to go after that sword bastard alone!"
"What should we do?"
"...Send a small patrol to look for them. Not much we can do other than that. Let's just hope they're still alive."
"Got it. Any news from Ryohei and Chrome yet?"
"None. If they don't report in by tomorrow, send my sister and Lancia to check it out. Surveillance only."
"Alright. By the way, Tetsuya-san just called in. Said he and Kyouya are headed to Italy first."
"Che. That bastard always does what he wants."
"Maa, maa, he is our Cloud after all. Tsuna was the only one who could control him to some degree."
"...Whatever. Get going, sword freak. I still have paperwork to finish."
Next Chapter: Sasagawa Ryohei, Sasagawa Kyoko