Foreword: Hi-de-ho! This is a one-shot, but I may intend to extend this into a full story depending on the feedback.

Disclaimer: I don't own Katekyoushi Hitman REBORN! That goes to Amano Akira.

Summary: Away from home and in the middle of mission, the Rain Guardian of Vongola Decimo makes an unexpected acquaintance.

Tiger Bread

He was seated in the darkest corner of the room...well…maybe not the darkest-that would be too far from the baseball game. He'd entered the bar and had been pleasantly surprised to find a baseball game playing on the television that hung from the ceiling above the corner of the bar. So, he would admit to being in a slightly shady area of the room, seated at the very end of the bar. His head craned ever so slightly to the right as he attempted subtle glances to the television. And to the untrained residents of the bar, his movements were unnoticeable. Of course, Yamamoto thought to himself with a guilty smile, if any of his familigia were present his actions would've been obvious.

He was in Los Angeles and in the middle of a job. He'd completed the first half of it a few hours ago and was now waiting for his target to arrive in the area. Unfortunately, he didn't complete the first half unscathed - the slight feeling of liquid warmth on his left side reminded him. He'd been caught off guard by a meat cleaver. He sighed to himself in mild amusement, after all the weird weapons he'd seen growing up; you'd figured he'd know better. Shaking his head, he reached for his beer. Obviously he'd gotten complacent with the weaponry of the run of the mill criminals. He couldn't have that.

"Key-ren?" A voice called from his side, "That's an imported beer right? Japanese?"

His sharp gaze turned to the woman seated on the stool next to him. He studied her for a quick moment before his usual smile spread across his face. "It's Ki-RIN actually. And yes, it is."

She blinked and a slight blush crossed her cheeks, "Ah…hah. I see. I suppose you would know better than I would…being Japanese…right?" The hopeful look in her hazel eyes praying that he really was Japanese and not another type of Asian.

He laughed then. "Yes."

"Oh good!" She cried in relief. "That would've been highly embarrassing if I was wrong again."

He grinned. "True."

"Hey!" She glared at him playfully.

"So, Miss…" he trailed off in wait of her name.

"Camilla." She provided, her lips tilting in subtle smile.

"Ah," he nodded, "Miss Camilla, What brings you to my corner of the bar."

"Well…" she began, looking somewhat cowed at having the spotlight on her, "At first it was just to get away from my brother and his friends." She gestured to the loudest part of the establishment where a large group appeared to be celebrating. His quick study showed them to mostly be of Hispanic decent-much like the woman next to him.

"It's his birthday." She said in a way that she seemed to think explained everything. Another glance at the group and he supposed it did. "And secondly…" she smiled tilting her head, her brown eyes looking at him from the corner of her gaze. "I noticed you pretending not to watch the game." Her eyes narrowed mischievously. "You a baseball fan?"

He stilled then. His fingers tightening around the glass bottle neck of his beer ever so slightly as he gave her a calculating stare. "You noticed?" Try as he might, he couldn't stop the edge from leaking into his voice.

She blinked, raising an eyebrow at his tone, but a moment later she was giving him a rueful grin. "Yup." At his inquiring stare she explained. "You had the same posture my older brother does when there's a game on and he's supposed to be listening to my sister-in-law."

It was his turn to blink then. He'd been caught by an observant little sister. He laughed. And it was a genuine one, how unexpected.

She smiled at his deep chuckle, pleased to have gotten a real reaction out of him.

He didn't laugh long, however-he couldn't have even if he wanted to, the still bleeding-albeit sublte-pain in his side was preventing him from doing so. Instead, he ended his chuckle with an amused huff and reached for his beer, vaguely aware that drinking while wounded may not have been the smartest decision of his. Still, it was only one beer. "I suppose that does give you a bit of insight, then."

"That it does." She nodded, confident in her observation abilities.

"So then," he paused to take a sip of his imported beverage, "you came over here just to call me out?" A lazy, but amused smile began to take up residence on his face.

"Ah, well…that. Hmmm," she hummed in delay before letting her gaze meet his, "Not really. I came over here because I thought you were cute."

"Oh?" He had the nerve to look surprised, as if women didn't constantly confess his attractiveness, "Well, so are you!" A lie; she was more than cute, quite pretty really, probably gorgeous in the right setting. He let his eyes discreetly roam over her petite, but curvy figure. She reached what he supposed was an average height for an American woman of about 5'5", with skin that vaguely reminded him of freshly baked bread that was just beginning to brown. Her ebony hair fell in scattered waves about her shoulders and there was, he decided, a subtle strength in those arms. Yet, he'd decided that his favorite part of her was her face and it was not simply because she was pretty, but rather it was the way her eyes gleamed and seemed to say 'try me. I dare you.' And the way that far too mischievous grin would pull over her full mouth in such an innocent fashion, he was sure she was unaware of its effect on those around her.

"Ah, Thank you." She smiled at him. She had spun to face him and was now gripping the bottom of the stool between her legs as she spun slightly to the left and right near subconsciously as her attention was undoubtedly focused on the man in front of her.

Yamamoto fought the urge to laugh again. Her posture, slightly hunched and her hair falling over her shoulders with such an intense look in her eyes-he was suddenly reminded of Gokudera's box weapon, Uri. The cat held a very similar look to it when it was ready to pounce. He wouldn't give into his urge though, it'd be a painful reminder that he wasn't in top condition and even more so-she might think he was laughing at her-and he was, but he couldn't let her know that, so he settled for an amused twist of his lips. However, her next words caught him off guard.

"Hey, is that a shinai?"

He blinked and looked down to where his Shigure Kintoki rested against the bar, easily within reach of his grasp. He turned a slightly surprised gaze at her, wondering now, if he should be suspicious of her. "You're familiar with Kendo weaponry?"

"Hm?" She shot him a confused look at his words before waving his accusation away. "Nah. My grandfather runs an antique shop and I mean," she shrugged, "this is L.A. He gets all kinds of family heirlooms, Japanese ones included. My grandfather is a big history buff; the man really loves his swords, so I always get an earful on the subject every time I visit him." She let her gaze fall back to his dormant weapon. "I think he had one of those the last time I visited him."

He highly doubted her grandfather had one of those just lying around. "Souka." He nodded, but soon laughed and elaborated at her confused expression, "I see."

"Oh, okay!" She laughed. "Cuz I was about to say just because I know a shinai from a katana, does not mean I speak the language."

"I'll keep that in mind."

"So," she began, but was cut off by a man yelling from the front of the bar.

"Camilla! Tigre! C'mon! What's the hold up? I don't flirt when it's your birthday!" The man was undoubtedly her brother and had stood up, beer in hand, a sly grin on his face.

"Shut up!" Camilla yelled back, twisted in her seat to make sure that her new friend didn't see her screaming at the very least.

"Hurry up!" Her brother called again.

"I'll be there when I'm done!" She yelled at him, her last word ending in that annoyed hiss that he'd only ever heard from females.

A moment later and she was facing him again, an elbow propped on the bar and her forehead cupped in her hand. A faint blush on her cheeks, she muttered to him, "I am so sorry about that."

"No, no, it's fine." He waved away her apology, sipping at his beer again.

"It's just…family, you know?" She looked up at him imploringly.

He nodded, "Ah, heh, yea I think I do." He did. He had a rather large and impossible one at that.

She made to speak again, but it was him who cut her off this time. "So…Tigre?"

Her eyes widened and she flushed again. "Tigre means tiger, right? Why did he call you tiger?"

"Umm…it's just a stupid childhood nickname." She wasn't trying to look embarrassed, he decided, rather she couldn't help, but look it. "Can we please not talk about that? It's a part of my childhood that I wish I could erase."

He smiled good-naturedly, "Sure."

"So, I never got a chance to ask, but why do you have a shinai with you?"

"Hmm…well…" his eyes unfocused and he trailed off pondering which lie to tell her. A mental shrug later and he decided to give her a half truth. "It's a family heirloom. My old man passed it down to me back when I was a teenager. I guess you can say it's something of a good luck charm."

"That's a mighty big good luck charm."

"Hah! I guess it is." He scratched the back of his head, a habit from his younger days.

"You're not from here are you? I mean, you're not American…are you?"

"No." He smiled. "Born and raised in Japan."

"Ahh…so…" she eyed his dark Armani suit and blue-green dress shirt, "You here on business?"

"Yep." He didn't bother to correct her; after all, she wasn't wrong.

"So what is it that you do?"

Part of him wished she would stop asking questions-questions were dangerous in his line of work and not for him. The other part of him, however, was pleased that someone other than his friends was taking interest in him outside his capability as an assassin and swordsman. Still, either way, he wished he didn't have to lie. "I'm an athletic consultant."

She blinked, "Oh! So you must really like sports then." She gestured back to the baseball game.

With a start, he realized that he'd missed quite a bit of it since he began conversing with her. "Ah, well yea." He laughed somewhat embarrassed.

"Personally," she began, "I don't really like sports much."

"No?" His eyes widened as he tried to keep the despair from his tone and expression.

Apparently he failed as she laughed at him. "Not really, no, but don't worry, it's not like I hate them. In fact I know all the rules to most of them."

He raised a brow in askance.

"Brothers." She nodded in response. "My reason for not liking them is mostly because I just don't see the draw in watching them. They're kind of boring to watch. I mean, it's different when you're playing them."

He looked at her in surprise. "You play?"

"Hah! A little-very little!" she emphasized at the gleam in his eye. "Sometimes my brothers would use me as a replacement player whenever one of their friends didn't show up."

He could no longer hide his interest as he questioned, "What did you play?"

"Well, baseball," she nodded up at the screen and inwardly smiled as he didn't even glance in its direction, "football, basketball, soccer, a little bit of everything really, but mostly football and basketball."

"Were you-are you any good?" He asked.

"God, no!" She cried with a laugh and he joined her. "Plus my brothers liked to take advantage of the fact, so I did the only thing I could."

"Oh?" He looked amused.

She looked at him, seriously. "I cheated horrendously."

His laughter followed her blunt words and he grudgingly ignored the pain in his side for her smile. He wasn't normally a fan of foul play, but somehow the thought of a young Camilla duping her brothers in favor of her victory was rather humorous.

Her smile lingered even as she asked, "Did you play?"

He sobered quickly then. "I did." He nodded along with his words.

She hummed, "You tried to go pro?"

He laughed humorlessly. "How can you tell?"

"Would you believe me if I said it was written all over you?"

He mulled over that, "Mmm…no. Not really, no."

Her own smile was humorless this time, "I see." She glanced back at her rowdy group. "My brother," she turned to look at Takeshi again, "He was going to go for the NFL, but…there was an accident." Her hazel eyes could have burned a hole through him at the moment. "His knee was ruined. He can walk and run just fine now, but he'll never be able to play seriously."

He nodded at her words.

"The look in your eyes when we moved onto sports…it's the same look he gets when he talks about football." She nodded with a saddened smile. "Like you're talking about someone you lost."

He froze at her words. That was it, wasn't it. He'd been given a choice; baseball or the sword, his dreams or his family. He knew in the long run, that it was never a choice, but he couldn't help the feeling of loss as he let go of a dream that had consumed much of his life. He gave her a care-free grin and he mentally noted as she narrowed her eyes at it. "So it would seem." He laughed a bit, his hand at the back of his head once more-old habits die hard.

She made to speak again, possibly to reprimand him, but he didn't let her, "What about you?"

"What?" She blanked.

"What do you do?" He inquired with a pointed gaze. "We've talked about my career, but what about yours?"

She frowned at him for a moment, suspicious of his intent, but he relaxed as she seemed to let it go. "I'm a pastry chef."

"Really?" He could just imagine the look on the Haru and Kyoko's faces at her words.

"Yep. I even own my own bakery. Just opened it this year." She shuffled around her pockets before handing him a card. He took it with a nod, a slip of Japanese mannerisms shining through. He blinked and a wry smile spread on his face as he took in the name. Amused brown eyes looked up from the business card. "Tiger Bread bakery?"

"Enh…" She trailed off and a bland expression took over her face as she stared into the distance. She'd forgotten the name of her own bakery in her excitement. "My brother filled out and turned in the paperwork for me. It was supposed to just be 'Camilla's.'" She explained in a deadened, but agitated tone.

"Ah, really? I actually like 'Tiger Bread.'" He smiled at her as she narrowed her eyes at him in search of a lie. She smiled, however, when she found no trace of one.

"It's okay, I guess. Although it's rather annoying when people ask me why the name is 'Tiger Bread' when I have neither "tiger bread" on the menu nor tiger-themed décor." She complained with a look that seemed to place all blame on her brother.

He laughed again and it brought about another smile on her face. "You should stop by sometime. I'll give you a discount: on the house."

"Oh? Maybe I will."-

He was interrupted from saying more as a soft toned ring from his phone cut in. Immediately all traces of humor fled him and his gaze sharpened suddenly. "Pardon me."

He'd answered the phone before she could even respond, "Hai." There was a long stretch of silence on his end; the only sign of a conversation was the narrowing of his eyes and frowning of his forehead. The very aura around him had changed with a single phone call. Where at one point she would have pegged the man for a business man lamenting the loss of his dreams, she now found a man whose very shadow called at her instincts to flee.

"Wakarimashita," his tone was clipped and final. And suddenly it was all over. Sliding his phone back into his jacket pocket, he gave her an apologetic look. "I'm sorry, but I have some business to take care of."

"No! It's okay." She smiled at him, but inwardly she'd been just a tad bit disturbed by how sudden and greatly different his change in moods had been.

"I really enjoyed our conversation."

"As did I…" she trailed off as she realized, she didn't know his name. She blinked. She'd been holding such an in-depth conversation with him and never once did she think to ask him his name. "I'm sorry, but I never got your name."

He stared at her for a moment, before laughing. "That's funny. I could've sworn I told you."

"Nope."

"It's Takeshi." He held out a hand.

"Takeshi…" She said his name slowly, sounding out the foreign letters. "Well, I also enjoyed speaking with you, Takeshi." She took his hand with a smile.

Their farewells were interrupted by her brother. "Camilla! Hurry up!"

"Ughh…" She released his hand to call back to her brother as he turned in her seat. "Keep your diaper on! I'm coming!" Rolling her eyes she turned back to him, "Sorry…about…that."

Takeshi was gone. As was his shinai. The only trace of him was the empty bottle of imported Kirin beer and tip that set next to it. Glancing around, she frowned when she saw no further trace of him. Maybe he went to the bathroom? She pondered, but shrugged as she returned to her brother's party.

He'd pocketed the business card at the time. Fully intending on stopping by if time allowed, but it didn't. Instead, he was kept busy by the constant swing of his Shigure Kintoki as he plowed through lackeys and guards alike. His target had heard about the incident this morning and had boosted his security. It was all for nothing though. The small, but tenacious organization was little more than a persistent gnat to the Rain Guardian of Vongola Decimo.

It was with weary steps and a blood splattered suit, little of it his own, that Yamamoto Takeshi returned to Italy to report. His suit was forgotten as he left for Japan a few days later…the "Tiger Bread" bakery business card still contained in its pant's pocket. It would be a while before he returned to the city of Los Angeles.


Afterword:There we go! :) I wrote this with the intent of having an OC-romance that had a more adult feel to it. XD Who knows how well...or bad...I did. Either way, I hope you enjoyed and I'd love to know your opinion! Should I continue this?

-S.T.