Foreword: That's right. It's here! After, everyone's comments, I decided to forgo continuing the one-shot and just make a sequel fic, so I hope you find it to your fancy.
Disclaimer: You want proof of ownership? Go talk to Amano Akira, cuz I damned sure don't have it.
Summary: The story of a Baseball nut turned Professional hit man and his accomplice—a pastry chef soon to be Japan's most wanted criminal.
Not On the Menu
Chapter One: The Tiger Bread Bakery
"So I'll meet you in Venice in two days."
He was just stepping out of the airport, the automatic doors sliding shut behind him with a near inaudible hiss. Taking a deep breath of not quite fresh L.A. air Yamamoto Takeshi smiled. It wasn't home, but it was definitely better than the recycled air of an aircraft cabin.
Tsuna's hum of agreement was suddenly cut off by a gruffer voice.
"Oi, yakyuu-baka, try not get yourself damaged by an amateur again."
"Ahahaha." He chuckled lightly with a rueful grin as he scratched at his forehead in embarrassment. It was true, the last time he'd been in L.A. he'd been far too lax and had gotten himself sliced across his side by a meat cleaver for it. Recovering from his minor bout of shame, he smiled and it carried into his tone of unshakeable certainty. "Thank you for the concern, Hayato, but I don't plan on making the same mistake twice."
"You'd better not! It's an embarrassment to the ten-"
"Gokudera!" Tsuna's voice sounded in the background, a chastising tone clinging to the name.
"Ah! Jyuudaime!" Hayato's voice grew distant as he moved away from the phone. "I thought you were going to be calling me by Hayato now?"
"…eh?" Takeshi smiled. Tsuna's voice had matured, losing most of its higher tones; along with his body, it was hard sometimes to recognize him as the bottom ranked 'Dame-Tsuna'. Tsuna, like the rest of them, had changed over years, through maturity and trials, but his personality had shown little transformation. "Eheheh. I guess I kinda forgot in the heat of the moment, Hayato."
"No…it's fine. Gokudera is fine, Jyuudaime." The sound of Hayato's dejected tone was hard to miss and Takeshi almost failed to wave down a cab as he held in a laugh.
"Ah…Gokudera…" Tsuna sighed into the phone.
"Did he leave the room?" Takeshi asked as he slid into the backseat of a taxi.
"Mmm. He's back to being moody again." Tsuna laughed slightly into the phone, "but I suppose that's my fault."
"Probably." He readily agreed with his friend and superior, much to Tsuna's ire.
Tsuna's response was an irritated silence, but after a moment of stewing in his annoyance, he regained his soberness. "Be careful, Yamamoto."
"Of course." The humor had passed and his response was solemn. Pulling the phone away from his ear, he hung up and slipped it into his jacket's inside pocket. "Embassy Suites," he called to the driver with a business-like tone.
Watching the vaguely familiar scenery go by, Takeshi allowed his mind to drift. It had been two months since his last visit to the city of Los Angeles. He smiled faintly as he recalled being chewed out by Squalo after his return. Apparently drinking while injured was frowned upon when on the job—as if he hadn't already known—however, allowing an untrained nobody to wound him in the first place had Squalo calling him a brat all over again, for an entire month.
He was just changing his daydreams to something more pleasant when a familiar name in the scenery jumped out at him and a different memory of L.A. surfaced. "Stop here," he called to the cab driver suddenly. Stepping out the vehicle and shouldering his weapon, he bade the driver to wait as he darted across the street and down a ways. Tilting his head back, he stared up at the store sign: Tiger Bread bakery. His gaze dropped quickly and he stared through the store front windows. He hesitated for but a moment before walking in without another thought.
She wasn't as easy to spot as he'd originally thought she'd be. It was the afternoon and there were customers hovering over the display counters in a compacted line as they waited to place their orders. The few available Ivory café styled tables were all occupied by people eating their lunch or enjoying a drink with a friend. It would seem that despite her dislike of her bakery's name, business was going well.
After several moments of studying the busy crowd, he finally caught a glimpse of her. And a glimpse it was. He'd barely recognized her as she darted to the register before disappearing behind a display counter for several moments. His decision made, he stepped closer. A few seconds later she popped back up and he felt a smile breech his watchful expression.
Her loosely curled hair had been piled and pinned to the top of her head, an escaped strand or two hanging by her face in s shaped curls. She was wearing a fitted red t-shirt and jeans, a recently used apron covering them. The recent use was obvious as the black cloth was covered in traces of flour and what he assumed to be remnants of sweet and savory flavors. A quick word to an employee and she hurried back towards the kitchen. He decided to stop her first.
He tried her name, but she seemed not to hear it. So with a guilty smile, he called out with her other name. The result had been better than expected. A few people looked at him oddly, but the woman he called to, had frozen for a moment. And then he found himself on the other end of a frigid glare. Of course when her hazel eyed stare had met his apologetic brown, her expression quickly turned to bewildered surprise. "Takeshi?"
His smile returned. She remembered him. That was good. He met her at the side of the counter, away from the crowd. "Tigre," he greeted.
"Ugh…" She rolled her eyes, but shot him an amused smile. "Seriously, don't call me that, please."
"Alright." He nodded. "Camilla, then."
"Better. Much." She relaxed. "So...what brings you by? I mean, it's been like two months since I invited you." She gave him a curious stare.
"Ahh…" He scratched at the back of his head and a smile spread across her face. "I kinda had to leave in a hurry and I haven't been back since. I actually just got back in to town less than an hour ago."
"Really?" Eyes widened in surprise, she continued, "and you just decided to stop by the moment you get into town?" She offered him an incredulous, if not a bit flirtatious smile.
"Actually…" He paused and a guilty look crossed his face. "I'm here on business again. I was on my way to the hotel, but I couldn't help noticing the name coming down the street. I saw 'Tiger Bread' and immediately thought of you."
"Is that so?" She raised an eyebrow.
"Yes, actually. I also thought about the fact that you offered me a meal on the house."
She blinked before laughing outright. "Damn! I did, didn't I?"
"Mmm, yes. You did." He nodded in exaggerated confirmation.
Her head dropped for a moment, but then she looked up at him with an amused smile on her lips. The same smile that sung of mischief two months ago. "Well…" She looked away, her gaze hidden by full dark lashes. "…you free now?" And suddenly he was pinned by her inquiring stare.
He held her stare for at least a moment longer than he should have, "Ahhh, actually no." He smiled, again apologetic. "I have a meeting to attend soon…but I won't be leaving L.A. anytime soon," he hurriedly tacked on.
The disappointed look that had started to form quickly dissipated into one of mild amusement. "I see. Well, truth be told. I'm not exactly free, myself, at the moment. So perhaps that's for the best. However, if you feel up to a free meal…" She back stepped from the counter, the mischievous look spreading from her lips to her eyes, "I'll be here all week!" She stopped then, pivoting sharply and hurrying into the kitchen.
He left with a smile still on his face. It didn't even fade—although it did falter—when he learned that ten minutes of wait time had been added to his cab fare.
He didn't make it back to the bakery that day. He was too busy placating several members of the Russian mob. He hadn't been lying when he said he had a business meeting, although it probably wasn't what one had in mind when they thought of a business meeting. The meeting—more like a glorified argument—didn't come to an end until early the next morning. After which he'd trudged back to his hotel room and collapsed onto the bed with a sigh.
Come well after noon, he was still lying there. Awake now and staring at the ceiling, he contemplated his next move. He'd have to inform Tsuna of what was discussed and see what his boss decided. Either way, that wouldn't take very long at all, maybe thirty minutes to an hour; Tsuna was very aware of what he would or wouldn't do. In fact, Tsuna's moral code was so well established that Takeshi himself could say with 100% accuracy what the Vongola boss would decide, but given the situation this was definitely a case where standard procedure was followed.
Still, the next meeting wasn't until tomorrow morning, which meant he pretty much had the whole day to himself. Question was: what did he want to do with all that free time? His musing was interrupted by the growl of his insistent stomach. His lips quirked into an amused smile, a smile that quickly grew as his hunger brought forth a thought. He was after all, owed a free meal. He sat up quickly and took a glance down at his disheveled form. He hadn't bothered to change out of his clothes last night and had only removed his blazer before falling asleep. Staring at the rumpled white button down and wrinkled black slacks, he realized that while he was hungry now, a shower might be in his best interests.
An hour and a half later, he found himself outside of the Tiger Bread Bakery. The conversation with Tsuna had gone even quicker than he'd predicted and as predicted, Tsuna's decision was exactly what he'd imagined it to be. He'd spent little time thinking on the results. It was late afternoon when he arrived, a few hours later than when he'd been here the previous day. As such, the lunch crowd was nowhere to be found and the café-like setting was far more emptied than what he last saw. He actually overlooked her when she called out his name, "Takeshi."
He stopped and looked back over his shoulder in surprise. He'd walked right past her; she was sitting at one of the tables lined up against the wall, the space covered in papers and a pen in her hand. He smiled and walked over, taking a seat. He eyed her apparel for a moment, as it was very different from what he'd seen yesterday. A pair of dark blue fitted jeans, an oversized cream sweater whose sleeves skimmed her knuckles and collar hung off her right shoulder revealing a white tank top beneath. Her hair had been pulled into a low ponytail at the nape of her neck, a single renegade curl hung at her temple.
"No apron today?"
"Ahaha, no," she laughed, "I'm not working today. Well, I mean I am working today, just not in the kitchen. Today is paperwork day." She stated matter-of-factly.
"Really?" His eyes fell to the papers covering the small table. There were indeed a few papers with long lists of numbers and order sheets, but they were not what she was working on. In front of her were a few sheets of blank, unlined paper. After a longer look, he was of the opinion that it was stationary; an idea only furthered by a few lines of what must be her penmanship. He smiled, "That doesn't look like paperwork."
She colored slightly before she gave him a guilty smile and spoke with a laugh tinting her words, "That's because it isn't." She looked at him fully. "I'm writing a letter."
"On paperwork day?" His expression was innocent, but his eyes were knowing.
She let out another laugh as she smacked the pen down and gave him a look that was half glare, half trying not to keep laughing. Eventually the humor won out and she smiled. "Am I going to regret telling you that?"
"Hmmm…" He relaxed back into the chair and she smiled at the imagery. Aside from his general size and broad shouldered build, he was far too masculine to be sitting in such a petite and whimsically designed piece of furniture. "That depends."
"On what?" She gave him an impatient look.
"Do I still get my free meal?" He gave her a cheeky grin.
She laughed at both his words and his smile. Sighing heavily, but amused, she stood. "I keep forgetting about that. I'll go get you something now." She pushed her chair in. "Anything you'd like in particular?"
"I'm not picky."
"Alright then, anything to drink?"
"Whatever you want to give me."
She gave him a look, "So if I gave you yesterday's leftovers and soda water?"
He laughed. "Well, it is free, right?" The grin was back and she could only smile in return and shake her head.
"I'll be back in a few minutes."
He watched as she moved about behind the counter, preparing whatever meal he was owed, her familiarity with her environment was noticeable as she reached and grabbed without looking. When she returned the table, carrying two plates, a bowl, and two glasses, he hurriedly stood to ease the burden, but when he reached to take an object, she snickered and danced out of his reach. "I've got it."
"Are you sure?" Came his dubious reply.
He was mildly impressed when she set everything on the table, without spilling a single drop or crumb.
Sitting back down, she gestured for him to take a seat with a knowing smile. He did so, and eyed the toasted sandwich on the plate in front of him appreciatively. It smelled good and he was well aware of the fact that he'd last eaten around eight o'clock the previous night. Still, he looked back up at Camilla and was unsurprised to see her watching him. She had, after all, done nothing to hide the fact.
"You have good balance," he told her.
She blinked, thrown off by his comment. "Well, yes… I suppose, but considering that I was a waitress for years and adding in the fact that I was the only one assisting my mother with feeding a family of seven, four of them being teenaged boys…it was nothing." She smiled in a way that made Takeshi sure she was proud of this accomplishment.
"Ahhh, I see. Then it makes sense." He nodded before taking the sandwich in his hands. From what he could tell between sight and smell, it was composed of chicken, pesto, roasted tomatoes, and some type of cheese. Not that it mattered to him. In his mind, if it smelled good, it would taste good. Her eyes still on him, he looked up. "Is something wrong?"
"…I was just waiting to see if you'd like it." Her words grew into a mumble at the end and he laughed.
"Well let's see." He bit into it and he was pleased when his taste buds weren't disappointed. Taking another bite, he considered asking for another, but before he could she spoke again.
He froze. He was suddenly very tense and he'd barely remembered to finish swallowing before his eyes narrowed on her with a glacial stare. She wasn't looking at him, however. She was still staring at his right hand, more specifically the ring on his middle finger: the physical symbol that marked him as the Rain guardian of Vongola Decimo. What did she know?
"What of it?" He managed to keep his voice level.
"…It's kind of gaudy, don't you think?" She looked back at him, her tone suggesting that she didn't want to offend him. She'd caught only a moment of his previous stare as it had shifted to owlish blinking at her words.
"What?" She asked, confused.
He sat the sandwich down entirely and raised the specified hand for his inspection. The ring was largely noticeable by the large tablet like azure stone, wreathed in heavily engraved pewter and silver with a ribbon like design stretched over the lower facet of the stone, it was definitely a somewhat flashy piece of jewelry. He burst out into full scale laughter then and he only chuckled harder at the weird look she was giving him.
After taking a moment to calm himself, he looked down at the ring again, a wry smile on his face, "You know…until now, I had never really thought much of how this ring actually looks."
"Seriously?" She gave him a disbelieving look. "You put it on your finger, but never thought about how it might look when you wear it?"
He shook his head, the smile still in place. "Never. I never really saw a need to. I didn't choose this ring." At her raised eyebrow, he added on, "I guess you could say it was a gift."
"Right, well, whoever gave you that has poor taste in rings…and in gift giving." She stared dubiously at the ring.
He nearly laughed aloud again when he thought of the various reactions her comment would receive had it been spoken amongst his famiglia. She continued before he could interject on Tsuna's behalf, after all, he had never actually intended on giving the rings to anyone, let alone himself.
"I mean…that is…unless you like rings like that…" The look on her face, however, said that she really hoped he didn't like rings like that.
He laughed again, unable to keep it to himself. "Well, to be honest," he began, "I don't really have much of an awareness when it comes to fashion sense, particularly with jewelry."
"Hm…" She stirred her spoon into the bowl of soup she'd brought for herself, "well, I suppose that's to be a bit expected, you are, after all, male and not…that I can tell, metrosexual."
"I'm not." He confirmed with a thin smile, his eyes showing more amusement than his lips.
"Yup." She nodded. Eating a spoonful of soup, she added on, "Still not an excuse for that ring."
Takeshi let out a huff, pushing back the smile that wanted to grow on his face, "Enough about my ring." He quickly shifted topics. "Who're you writing to?"
The question had obviously surprised her and she stared at him with wide eyes, spoon still in her mouth. After a moment, she seemed to realize how she must look and with a tint of red coloring her cheeks, she removed the utensil and cleared her throat. "My uncle."
"You're writing to your uncle?"
"Yep. We've never actually met, so this is how we keep in touch."
"Why not just call him?"
She gave him an annoyed look, "Would you believe me if I said, the man won't give me his number?"
He chuckled, "That's surprising, why not?"
"The hell if I know." She emphasized her words with a wave of her spoon. "Every time I ask for his number, he gives me the same crap about his privacy, yada, yada, yada." She rolled her eyes and added, "He's been saying the same thing for years."
"How long have you been writing him?"
"Mmmm…since I was seventeen, so…about seven years now." She lifted the spoon again and he'd be lying if he said he wasn't somewhat entertained by the way the spoon and her remaining free hand moved in tandem to emphasize her words. "I didn't even know I had an uncle until, my grandfather told me."
"Yea, see apparently my grandfather wasn't exactly the most faithful of husbands—I'm not pleased with him about that, either—and had had a child out of wedlock prior to his own wife getting pregnant."
"Your…father? Mother?" He asked in an effort to further the conversation.
"Neither. My uncle was his wife's kid. My dad was already several years older, but anyway," she waved the spoon about again and he tried not to laugh at its acrobatic feats, "Eventually, grandad's wife finds out about his mistress and their lovechild, things don't work out and they split. They come back over here—my grandfather's from Italy by the way—to start a family…well, they'd kind of already done that with my father, so I suppose the correct thing to say would be to continue living as a family."
She'd finished her sentence, but Takeshi had already stopped listening. Her grandfather was Italian. Inwardly, he cringed. The Vongola name was not always as secretive as it should be, especially in its mother country where it was extremely well known and the ring on his finger was both a blessing and a curse. Still, he wondered if it really mattered. It's not as if, he'd be seeing her again…right?
"Hello?" She waved a hand in his face and he quickly returned from his thoughts.
"You still in orbit?"
He laughed, "No, I'm fine. I just drifted off into thought for a moment. You can continue."
"Un-hunh…" she gave him a suspicious look, but continued nonetheless. "Right, well after my grandfather told me this, I looked for my uncle."
"And you found him." He nodded in presumption.
"Well, yea, between the internet, my meager part time pay check, and the old address of my grandfather's ex-wife, it wasn't all that hard." She shrugged. "So I sent him a letter."
"And you've been sending letters back and forth ever since?"
She hesitated and let out an indecisive hum, "…for the most part, I suppose you can say that. In the beginning I had a hard time getting a response out of him, aside from him not wanting anything to do with my grandfather." She looked at him pointedly, "Not that I can blame him for that. In the end I'd like to think my persistence won out and even though I send him far more letters than he does me, we do have a corresponding relationship. He even sent me a card for my college graduation."
"That must've been nice." Takeshi told her, his full attention on her now.
"It was." She nodded, "but enough about me! I want to hear more about you."
Inwardly, he sighed. He should have known she'd start asking more questions. "What about me, exactly?"
She shrugged, "I don't know. How about your job? You said you were an… athletic consultant? What's your job like?"
He didn't want to lie, so he did the next best thing. He told her a series of half-truths. In fact, in some cases it wasn't even that. Instead of talking about his job, he'd managed to talk about the people he worked with. He didn't give out any names, but found he didn't have to; she was so amused by the different personalities of his famiglia that he didn't even realize when he stopped lying. He hadn't even realized that he'd become nearly as animated as she had before as they talked about his boss and co-workers.
He was unaware of how much time had passed until he received a text message from Hayato. The Russians were getting antsy and had decided to move the meeting to tonight. He prevented the scowl that wanted to stretch across his face, but didn't catch the annoyed sigh and was therefore met by Camilla's curious gaze as he looked up from his phone.
"Unfortunately…" He reached up and scratched the back of his head, the apologetic smile already forming on his face.
"Yes. They need me to return for a late meeting."
He was relieved—and he wasn't sure why—when she only gave him an accepting and somewhat amused smile and said, "They sure keep you busy, don't they?"
"Ahaha…" he chuckled a bit as his hand left his hair and rubbed at the back of his neck, "Just a bit."
"Well, I don't want to keep you, but first!" She tore off a strip from a sheet of blank stationary and jotted down her number. "Here." She handed the strip to him and he accepted it with a smile.
Pocketing the number he made to leave, but she stopped him, "Wait!"
He looked back as she held out the pen to him and gestured to the torn piece of stationary. It took him a moment to understand, but when he did he gave her a wry smile. "You want my number?"
She nodded, her own smile in place.
"You don't think I'll call you?"
"Oh, I didn't say that."
"Then why is it so important for you to have mine?" He supposed he could have been asking because he was suspicious of her intent, however, after having spent the last few hours in her company, he was rather certain he could no longer suspect her of anything heinous—a dangerous thing for him to do. No, he was just playing along, now
"Because," she began, "I figure, if I want to speak to you before the next two months are up, it'll probably only happen if I call you."
He sighed and looked up towards the ceiling before laughing at himself, "I suppose you have a point there." He plucked the pen from her outstretched fingers and leant over the table, "but, just so you know, I was occupied by work. It wasn't my intent to leave your invitation for so long." He scribbled out his full number, the country code for Japan included.
"I know." She pulled the sheet over to her as he stood, "but you seem to work quite a bit as it is. You should probably take a break every so often."
He cocked his head, "Are you going to call me whenever you decide I need to take a break?"
"Perhaps." The look of mischief was back and once again he was staring at her far longer than he should.
Breaking his stare, he shouldered his shinai and stepped away from the table. He gave her another appraising look before smiling. "If I don't see you before I leave, I'll talk to you later, Camilla."
She had placed her elbow on the table and leaned forward, her chin propped up on the heel of her hand. "I'm sure you will, Takeshi." The look was still there and he forced himself to turn away and head out the door.
"Don't work yourself to death!" She called out over the chime of the door's bell. He tried not to acknowledge the irony of her statement as he returned to the hotel.
Afterword: Ta-dah! Chapter one! How was it? Seriously? I was on auto-pilot when I wrote most of this and I've noticed how hard it is to work with Yamamoto's adult self, because…frankly…they didn't give us much time with him in the series. XD So, I feel like I'm doing a lot of guess work with his character. Not to mention, the series gives us just about nothing when it comes to seeing how the boys might possibly interact with a female on a more than just friendly level. . ….*sigh*….Amano…smh. Anyway! I hope you enjoyed and I'd love to know what you did or didn't like about this chapter. I aim to get better with Takeshi as I proceed with this fic. So, keep an eye out for the next chapter.