Disclaimer: I own nothing from Katekyo Hitman Reborn.
Summary: The war against the Millefiore is over, the Arcobaleno are back, the Vongola is assembled again, and Tsuna's woken up. What follows are the good news, the bad news, and everything in-between. Prequel/Sequel to 'Remnants of a Death' and 'Aftermath of a Death'. Can read as standalone.
Chapter 1 – Reborn
It felt like it had been a long time since Tsuna had seen the sky, even though he had no real recollection of anything between his death and now. But memories of his past self were slowly trickling into his mind so it would only be a matter of time before he knew exactly what had happened.
He was alive though, which wasn't something just anyone could say after taking a bullet to the chest. However, rubbing at where the bullet had hit, Tsuna could still feel the ghost of pain lurking under his palm. All in all, it had been a near thing.
He paused when he reached the clearing where his now-empty coffin lay. A rueful smile tugged at his lips. That must have given his past self quite a scare.
Striding to the black coffin, he bent to pick up a notebook lying on top, the pages fluttering happily in the summer breeze. He raised an eyebrow at the two simple statements written in it.
'The fight within future self is over. The curtain is closed.'
"A fitting end," Tsuna murmured, snapping the notepad shut and tucking it into his coat. He took another step forward and carefully eased himself down onto the lid of the coffin. Dying was no picnic. Even a short walk tired him out right now.
Propping his elbows on his thighs and resting his chin on knitted fingers, Tsuna sensed his Guardians and other Family members fast approaching. In fact, one was already here.
"I'm glad to see you alive and well," Tsuna called out softly, eyes focused on a nearby tree. "Reborn."
A slightly tense silence followed before a familiar suit-clad hitman stepped out from behind a tree, eyes shadowed by the brim of his fedora but undoubtedly studying the brunet all the same.
For a long moment, neither of them reacted to the other's presence, only watching each other across the expanse of grass. Tsuna was content to simply take note of the lack of strain and exhaustion in his former tutor's body as well as the healthy colour of his skin. He honestly couldn't begin to describe the happiness he felt at the sight.
It was Reborn who finally spoke, his voice containing an odd inflection to it as he began to walk forward.
"You have a lot of nerve to comment on my health," He began, and Tsuna sighed in a combination of amusement and trepidation as Leon – green and bright-eyed again – crawled onto Reborn's hand and quickly transformed into a gun. "I'm not the one who went and got myself killed on purpose."
Tsuna leaned back a little, both to put as much distance as possible from the advancing gun and to alleviate the pressure in his chest. Hmm, it looked like a trip to the hospital wing was in his near future.
"Technically, I didn't die," He protested, and then paused before amending, "Okay, I did die, but the bullet eventually brought me back, as you can clearly see. That has to count for something, doesn't it?"
"No," Reborn retorted curtly, cocking his gun as he came to a stop in front of Tsuna. "You died, Tsuna. What if that bullet hadn't done what it was supposed to do? Last time I checked, the Temporary-Death Bullet was still in its testing stages. You could've stayed dead."
Tsuna's smile faded as he tilted his head and took in the foreign emotion in Reborn's eyes. It wasn't like the hitman to dwell on could-haves and maybes. His death must have hit the tutor harder than Tsuna had thought it would.
"Regardless, I'm here now," He said quietly. "And the future is much brighter. Even if the bullet hadn't worked, one death is worth the Family's survival, isn't it?"
Judging by Reborn's tightened features, the hitman didn't agree, and Tsuna sighed again, putting his hands up in a placating gesture.
"Shoot away then. I'm sure watching me run around like a headless chicken will make you feel better."
Reborn narrowed his eyes at him before snorting and returning Leon to his fedora. "I don't suppose you've looked in a mirror after you woke up? A strong gust of wind would probably knock you over right now."
Tsuna blinked, hand automatically going to his chest again, and then hastily stopped when Reborn glanced sharply at the gesture.
"I'm alright, Reborn," Tsuna smiled wryly. "But a blood transfusion and some rest might make me better."
Reborn frowned, his gaze honing in on Tsuna's chest.
"Blood transfusion?" He repeated slowly. "The bullet doesn't replenish all the blood you lost?"
Tsuna shrugged uncomfortably. "Some, and it heals my body, obviously, or I'd still have a bullet hole in my chest."
He regretted the words when something achingly close to pain flashed through Reborn's eyes.
"I'll be fine," He soothed. "Honestly. With a bit of rest, I'll be completely back to normal again and you'll be chasing me around with a gun and getting me to do paperwork all day."
Reborn still didn't look convinced but a reluctant smirk made its way onto his face at the mention of paperwork. Tsuna was fairly certain all of Vongola knew his hatred for the stuff as well as Reborn's penchant for hunting the Decimo down whenever the brunet decided to ditch his work for the day.
However, seeing that his tutor still looked rather disgruntled, Tsuna attempted to distract him by picking the hitman up and settling the Arcobaleno in his arms as he often did since he had been a teen. Reborn huffed but relaxed grudgingly against him.
"Don't think we're not going to talk about this later, Dame-Tsuna," Reborn warned, tilting his fedora up to look him in the eye. "I didn't raise you so you could die before me, no matter how temporary both our deaths were."
Tsuna smiled once more, warm and genuine as he rose to his feet. "Whatever you say, Reborn. I'm just... I'm just glad you're alright. You're my favourite tutor, you know. I wouldn't know what to do without you."
He felt Reborn still in his arms but the hitman's fedora hid any thought Tsuna could've picked up. So he was more than a little surprised when a tiny hand pressed against his left wrist, right above the pulse point, fingers curling around the slope of the joint with uncharacteristic emotion.
"I won't tell you not to do it again," Reborn said, his voice low and unexpectedly gentle. "Because if push comes to shove, I know you'll do it again. But I will tell you not to do it without informing me first. I'm your advisor, Tsuna. Even if I'm on my deathbed, I can still help."
A short pause followed but Tsuna made no move to speak. He had a feeling Reborn wasn't done yet.
A minute passed, and then two, before Reborn said at last, "Don't let me find your dead body like I did ever again. All that tells me is that I failed and I have a reputation to maintain. ...Do you understand, Tsuna?"
Tsuna had to fight against the sudden sting in his eyes. Out of everyone alive, he was probably the one who knew Reborn best, so he could hear all the unspoken words (It killed me to see you dead.) and silent confessions (I was completely useless. I couldn't do a single thing for you.) loud and clear.
"Yeah," Tsuna responded, clearing his throat when his voice came out a little uneven. "I understand." His arms tightened momentarily. "And I promise."
The small but strong grip relaxed but the hand didn't move away from his wrist and Tsuna didn't shake it off. Reborn wasn't usually one for reassurances so he had no qualms about giving it to the hitman when he wanted it.
Distant footsteps made both of them turn and Tsuna commented, on a lighter note, "How mad do you think they're going to be?"
Reborn's smirk was positively evil. "You deserve every last bit of it, Dame-Tsuna."