Disclaimer: I do not own anything from Katekyo Hitman Reborn.


General Warnings: AU, GEN, language, violence, Nana!bashing, twin!fic, genius-but-hopefully-not-over-the-top!Tsuna


Author's Notes: Yamamoto's one of the ones appearing last so it's pretty safe to assume that that goes the same for Ryohei.

Right, so, I've written and rewritten and rewritten this over and over again, and this is the version I've finally decided on. At first, I was going to write all about Tsuna and Kyouya's time in Italy, but then I realized that that could quite easily take up another five chapters, and nobody really wants that, so I've decided that I'll just add bits of it in as the storyline moves along. For now, I'm hoping I can fit a more summarized version within maybe two chapters.


Chapter 4


[Six Months Later / In Florence, Italy]

"You really are just kids!"

Tsuna sighed, rustling the pages of the book he had placed on his face to block the light as he lied on the couch, one arm tucked under his head. "If I had a euro for every time I heard that..."

Several feet away, Kyouya's silkily dangerous voice sounded in accented Italian. "If that's a problem, you can leave, herbivore."

Tsuna choked back a laugh. Sometimes, he wondered if they should stop taking turns greeting their potential customers and just let him do all the talking. Kyouya was simply incapable of keeping insults, subtle or otherwise, at bay.

But they hadn't been doing too badly over the past four months since they had started this business. In fact, Tsuna couldn't have been happier with his life right now.

Six months ago, he and Kyouya had left Namimori behind, first taking a train to Morioka before flying out straight to Italy. They had landed in Pescara, and then spent the next month moving from city to city, never staying for long in one place until Tetsuya had contacted them at the end of the month at the agreed-upon time.

There had been no flags raised, neither Nana nor Nari doing anything out of the ordinary except – and Tsuna had personally never heard Tetsuya sound so disgusted – the latter strutting around school looking wholly ecstatic three weeks after Tsuna had left.

Tetsuya had been very apologetic when he had hesitantly confessed his opinion in that Tsuna's mother and brother hadn't even noticed Tsuna's absence, probably thinking that he had simply been staying over at Kyouya's house.

It had hurt, but it had been a distant ache, and Tetsuya's steely-eyed vow to punish Nari for the slightest of infractions had made even Kyouya look proud.

After that, Tsuna and Kyouya had cracked open a map and put their heads together to decide where to settle down. Kyouya had flat-out refused any city with remotely foreign-sounding names like Padua and Brindisi. The ex-prefect's Italian had gotten better but he had still wanted to live in a city that he could at least pronounce the name of.

In the end, they had chosen Florence, a city they had been to before, stopping there for about a week before moving on to Arezzo, but had also been one of the places they had enjoyed most. It was one of the larger-populated cities but that just made it easier to hide in.

The hardest part actually hadn't been buying a place while looking like two teens – with Kyouya's formidable glare pinned on the real estate agent and a glib lie about how their parents were at work and had asked their children (who were both very mature and independent) to handle things, as well as the prompt cheque that Kyouya had written for the man, it had been very easy overall. When the agent had meekly suggested waiting for their parents, Kyouya had shown him exactly what happened when tonfa met brick wall and the man had fled in a heartbeat.

No, the hardest part had been renovations.

Kyouya had outright rejected the interior design – it wasn't Japanese enough. Seeing as the architecture was entirely European, Tsuna thought that would've been obvious even before they had chosen the place.

On the other hand, Tsuna hadn't wanted to make their house stand out too much. A traditional Japanese house smack in the middle of Florence was just asking for people to investigate.

So, after much debate and huffy arguments, they had compromised.

Their new home actually only had one floor but, in terms of front to back, it was very long. Four bedrooms were located at the back, centered together like a large two-room-by-two-room cube with two corridors on the left and right to reach the doors as well as the two bathrooms on either side. The kitchen was stationed before that and the dining area extended from the kitchen. The sitting room sat at the front of the house along with a stone fireplace, and the front door of the entire building came at the end of another hallway on the right of said fireplace.

Tsuna had been the first to bring up the necessity of a source of income. Kyouya had argued that he could always withdraw more money from various other Hibari accounts but even he had sounded reluctant, and Tsuna had known that the ex-prefect, like the rest of his family, disliked depending on anyone else, even if the cost of the flights and house had already strained their shared finances.

So, income, which would mean, since they couldn't exactly go out and find jobs at their age, that an area of the house would need to be sectioned off for business. That had been where the compromise had come in.

The bedrooms, the bathrooms, the kitchen, and the dining area would be sectored off with sliding shoji doors, leaving the living room free for business. Kyouya had then proceeded to call in a few professionals to remodel half the house into something that was nearly an exact copy of Kyouya's house back home.

Tsuna had thought that it had looked as if the ex-prefect had sliced out a piece of his home back in Namimori and relocated it here. Kyouya had been very pleased to hear that.

They had received more than a few odd looks from the framing carpenters and construction workers, but at the same time, the builders had also seemed rather pleased with the challenge given to them, and they had outdone themselves with the foreign renovations.

On the other hand, the living room was kept the same, with its couches and coffee table, though by the time all the redecorating was complete, almost another month had passed.

While Kyouya had seen to that however, Tsuna had been busy thinking up both a name for their future business and a business, something two genius kids could handle.

They had long since decided to hack their way into higher-levelled classes instead of going to school so that had no longer been an issue, and Tsuna wasn't so morally straight to refrain from doing just that. The idea of school had always been a bit of a joke to him, a refuge from his old house more than a place of learning, so it was no surprise that it wasn't much of a priority for him. Kyouya hadn't even wanted to attend school in Italy – it was one thing for him to know English and Italian; it was quite another to have to be surrounded by foreign languages day in and day out.

But there also wasn't much that an almost-eleven- and a thirteen-year-old could specifically do for a living.

In the end, Tsuna had decided that if they couldn't do one thing, then they might as well do everything.

A jack-of-all-trades occupation, their skills for hire for any job within reason and a fee adjusted to mirror each one.

Kyouya had arched an eyebrow at this idea before nodding in approval. (He had later been asked to fill in at a music festival, and to Tsuna's relief – because he couldn't play an instrument to save his life – the ex-prefect could play the violin amazingly well.)

However, the difficulty that had arisen shortly after they had settled on that idea had been how to go about attracting clients.

First of all, they had needed a name, and after another long round of discussion, Tsuna's choice of Firmamento – Italian for Firmament, meaning a support or strengthening of something, as well as the sky – had gone up at the front of their house in elegant black writing with a light blue backdrop.

They had also bickered over whether or not to add a tagline to that – after all, most people wouldn't know the first thing about what they did with just Firmamento.

Kyouya had proposed something along the lines of 'We'll Take Any Job', but Tsuna had pointed out that they didn't want criminals knocking on their door. (The thirteen-year-old had smirked at this and assured Tsuna that he was more than capable of biting said criminals to death.)

In the end, they had kept it simply as Firmamento, which would leave only the curious to venture inside. Kyouya had scoffed and said he didn't want to work for idiots who couldn't understand one word anyway. Tsuna had sweatdropped – he doubted even some of the smartest minds in the world would really connect firmament into meaning a business that would lend support for any job under the sky. It was vague and cryptic at best.

Which was why it had been a very good thing that the money they still had had been enough to cover their expenses for the first jobless month-and-a-half.

But soon enough, their first job had wandered in on a Saturday morning in the form of an elderly lady who had, ironically enough, lost her cat. She had even reported it to the police but they hadn't been very interested, and on her way back home, she had caught sight of their sign and had entered on a spur-of-the-moment decision.

That had been the first exclamation of "You're just kids!" that they had been subjected to, but Tsuna had stepped on Kyouya's foot before proceeding to make the woman a cup of tea and guarantee the return of her cat.

That had taken three days. Frankly, Tsuna was surprised they had even found the grey ball of fur – Kyouya had been seething by the time they had finally managed to corner the damn thing in a back alley; if it hadn't been for his secret soft spot for small animals, the cat probably would've died via tonfa – but Tsuna, as they had come to learn, had a funny knack for finding things, an intuitive feeling that aided quite a bit in their job. In the end, the old lady had thanked them, paid them, and then went and told her small circle of friends – whom she played bridge with on Friday nights – about their 'lost-and-found' profession.

It could've been a worse reputation to be known by.

Within three weeks, the jobs coming in had picked up, spreading out from just finding lost items once people started coming in with other requests, like weeding a garden or painting a fence or, much to Kyouya's delight, helping out at a local martial arts institution.

One of the trainee instructors there had fallen ill, and another instructor, the son of one of the elderly folks they had helped, had heard about Firmamento and had swung by to see if they knew anyone who could step in for the day.

The man had been skeptical when Kyouya had volunteered at once (the thirteen-year-old had spent the better part of that morning hunting down a runaway rabbit and hadn't been in the best of moods to say the least). All skepticism had disappeared when the ex-prefect had demonstrated his skills by taking down three of the teachers at the school in six minutes flat, and the institution now frequently came back to pay Kyouya – and sometimes Tsuna who, while not on par with Kyouya, was still a decent challenge for some of the lower-levelled students – a hefty sum to stand in as a guest instructor/opponent for a few hours. In addition to this, the school had even agreed to lend one of the dojos to them so that Kyouya could continue teaching Tsuna. Their spars were legendary in the establishment.

So whether it was finding lost items or cleaning a house or baking a last-minute cake or serving as translators for vacationers (needless to say, that was largely delegated to Tsuna), Firmamento was definitely a success amongst the circle of customers they had managed to reel in.

At the moment though, their latest clients – two of them – were unquestionably new ones. Most of their regulars had learned to ignore their age by now since they had proven themselves to be more than a little gifted in various areas.

Tsuna reached up and lifted his book, peering lazily up at the two men standing stiffly by the fireplace. Kyouya was sitting in the armchair, head propped up against a loose fist as he observed the newcomers with undisguised condescension.

"What can we do for you, gentlemen?" Tsuna spoke up, swinging into a sitting position. The suits that the men were wearing were high-class, and both gave off a subtly creepy air about them that made Tsuna uncomfortable. Their eyes were hidden behind sunglasses and, truth be told, they looked like classic mobsters.

"We heard that you take on any job given to you," The one on the right, with several scars running in different directions over his face like patchwork lines, cut in when his companion looked like he wanted to criticize their age again.

"Within reason," Tsuna corrected, leaning forward to eye them more closely.

The second man inclined his head. "Of course. We have done our own research on you. We'd like to hire you for one of your presumably... lesser-known talents. The fake backgrounds are a nice touch, and I believe at least one of you have been hacking into the local college database and slipping into the online courses?"

Kyouya stiffened ever-so-slightly at the corner of Tsuna's eye. Tsuna didn't even blink; he had always prepared himself for the possibility of getting caught.

"And if we turn down whatever job you have for us, you herbivores will hand us over to the police?" Kyouya sneered, looking ready to draw his weapons and take care of this threat in the most permanent way.

The man on the left bristled at Kyouya's tone but the one on the right – older, clearly more experienced – only shook his head briefly. "I believe your friend has that covered. We traced you to the college but the hack is set to terminate anything remotely related to it the moment a foreign intrusion enters the equation."

Kyouya's eyes flickered briefly to Tsuna. Really?

A slight smile curved Tsuna's mouth. Of course.

"So you need something hacked into," Tsuna said out loud. "And let me guess, you don't want to go to any known hackers in case someone finds out. Better to get the necessary means to whatever ends you're aiming for from a completely unrelated source."

The men traded a glance.

"You'll be paid handsomely," The man on the left – Tsuna dubbed him Tweedledumb – said haughtily. "It's a simple enough hack-"

"I don't care if it's the hardest hack known to mankind," Tsuna interrupted evenly. "Like I said – we only take jobs within reason. I'd like to know some details before we jump onboard. You can start with who you are."

Tweedledumb's face reddened and he took a threatening step forward. "Listen, you punk, what we do is none of your business-"

"Then you can leave," Kyouya interjected smoothly, and he shifted so that a glint of silver peeked out from under his jacket. "Door's behind you, herbivore. You can see yourself out."

Obviously hotheaded to a stupid degree, Tweedledumb wasn't about to take intimidation from a teenager lying down. He sprang forward and reached for his gun, probably in an attempt to frighten Kyouya into submission, but before the man could draw or his partner could stop him, Kyouya had unleashed a flying tonfa straight towards the man's hand.

Tweedledumb howled when the metal cracked against his appendage and his gun was ripped from its holster, clattering to the ground as the tonfa continued on its course and embedded itself in the stone fireplace behind the man.

Tweedledumb swore up a storm, clutching at the hand that the tonfa had clipped, and Tsuna was fairly certain that there had been a touch of purple flames reinforcing the weapon.

He sent a faintly disapproving look in Kyouya's direction. We're going to have to pay for that. Again.

The ex-prefect ignored him.

"You little brat-!"

"That's enough!" The man on the right seemed to glare at his partner from behind his sunglasses and Tweedledumb subsided with a dark scowl. "I don't care if you don't want to work with kids. If you can't pull yourself together, you can wait outside."

Tweedledumb glowered but straightened up, sweeping his gun back into his holster with his uninjured hand.

The older one – Tsuna privately named him Scarface – turned back, voice cool and brusque. "You can understand why we can't give you the full details, but we can give you an overview. I trust you have guessed that we deal with more... dubious affairs than your average business. We are part of a small criminal organization, though our efforts are mainly focused on science."

Tsuna mulled this over and stayed quiet.

Kyouya had nowhere near that amount of tact. "So you're Italian mafia who dissec-"

Tsuna cleared his throat loudly and shot a hard look at the older boy. Sometimes, Kyouya was too direct. Cutting to the heart of the matter was all fine and dandy, but only when hiding your cards wasn't the better, and safer, option.

"We try to stay away from criminal syndicates," Tsuna said, drawing the two Mafioso's attention away from Kyouya. "Not good for business, you know."

Scarface raised a hand, though the tension in the room had spiked. "Just hear us out. We'll be quick."

Tsuna eyeballed them warily but nodded nonetheless.

"Three years ago," Scarface began, and Tsuna caught a trace of tightly-reigned fury in the man's voice before it was covered up. "Three of our... Family members were taken from us by another Famiglia, the Torelli, and they wiped out much of our own Famiglia in the process. We have only just now regrouped and we wish to take back the three that have been captured. They are only children."

Tsuna's eyes flickered between the two. "Children?"

Scarface nodded grimly. "Yes, three of our youngest. They had much potential which, we suspect, is why the Torelli took them. What we need you to do is hack into the Torelli's security network and find out their guard rotations, sensor locations, and so forth. You won't even have to take control of any of the cameras. You just need to get all the information. We can handle the rest."

Tsuna searched the man's face and then switched his gaze over to the more expressive one. A twitch seemed to have developed under one of Tweedledumb's eye.

He glanced at the ex-prefect. Well?

A curl of Kyouya's lip. Bite them to death.

Tsuna had to suppress the urge to roll his eyes. Of course – his best friend's solution to most everything was biting it to death.

Kyouya looked almost resigned for a moment. He had probably noticed Tsuna's exasperation.

The ex-prefect tilted his head. Up to you.

And normally, not that this situation was normal in the least, Tsuna would've been all for Kyouya kicking these Mafioso out of their house. But he doubted that the two mobsters would just up and leave now that they had revealed part of their backgrounds. Tsuna was fairly certain they could win in a fight through both strength and the element of surprise but he was also pretty sure that at least Scarface would be able to draw his gun and put a bullet in one of them before the other could take him down. If Tsuna turned the job down now, this would only end in a bloodbath.

Damn Mafioso.

And...

He was also worried about the children. He could tell, instinctively, that Scarface was lying about something, though what he couldn't say. But if there really were children involved, then Tsuna wanted to help.

"And if we get what you want," Tsuna said at last. "You'll save the children?"

Scarface's shades flashed ominously and Tweedledumb's mouth twisted into a sharp sneer. "Yes, we will."

They're lying, Tsuna thought. There are children, but... what are they lying about?

"Four hundred up front, cash," Tsuna decided, praying that he had made the right choice. "And another four hundred once we're done. And it's a walk-away – after we hand over what you want, you don't come here again."

"Agreed," Scarface held out a hand as he motioned at his partner who drew out several hundreds and tossed them onto the coffee table. Tsuna stood and grasped the proffered hand firmly.

"You need to give us something to start on," He said as he withdrew. "A number would be nice, or an email account so I can pinpoint their exact whereabouts and hack into their private network – I'm assuming it's a private network, right? So either one would be useful, but the Torelli Famiglia's location will do."

Scarface smiled, stretching the scars on his face into a grotesque leer. "We can do you one better – we'll give you a number and their location. The Torelli operates out of Verona up in Northern Italy, though we don't know their exact location. Overall, they're a mid-class Famiglia for the most part, strong but not overwhelmingly strong, not too big, not too small. Their strength lies in battle; their security shouldn't be too hard to crack."

He dug into one pocket and pulled out a folded slip of paper. "The cell number of one of their lackeys. Can you work with that?"

Tsuna nodded curtly. He didn't particularly want to know what had happened to the lackey. "That's fine. We have a few other jobs to keep up with as well though, so I want four weeks."

The two men exchanged a look before Scarface smiled again. "There's no hurry – we'll give you five. Just make sure you deliver."

They saw themselves out. Kyouya stuck his head out the window to confirm that they were properly gone before shutting it, and then wrenched his tonfa out of the stone it had been lodged in and leaned against one wall to stare at Tsuna.

Never a man of many words, the ex-prefect prompted, "So?"

Tsuna sat down again and leaned back against the couch. "He was lying, about something, not sure what. Didn't like the feeling of them either; gave me the creeps."

"You still accepted the job," Kyouya pointed out, eyes hardening as he continued. "I understand that they probably would've been unwilling to leave us alive, but this isn't usually our... area of expertise."

Tsuna shrugged distractedly. "We help people. Whether it's legal or illegal, whether it's dangerous or safe, I think we should do it. We stole back that jade necklace for that woman."

"From a fat tub of lard whose security consisted only of disruptive herbivores," Kyouya said flatly. "And he wasn't interested in getting it back once I had a proper... conversation with him."

Tsuna grinned wryly despite the situation. Yeah, that hadn't been a good day for Signore Crudele, but then again, the conniving bastard shouldn't have stolen priceless heirlooms from innocent civilians anyway.

"Mafia's several steps up from that, I suppose," Tsuna conceded. "Or down, depending on how you look at it. But I still think we should do what we can now that we've accepted the job."

"Because they mentioned children," Kyouya said bluntly.

Tsuna ducked his head a little but stubbornly held his ground. "Whether those children were kidnapped or ran away, they'll need our help eventually, even if it's to simply tip them off. We could gather the information anyway; handle things ourselves if things turn out badly."

Kyouya studied him intently. "We will be entering dangerous territory, Tsunayoshi, and I mean that literally and figuratively. You talk about children, yet you are one yourself. I'm at least a teenager-"

Tsuna snorted, stiffening indignantly. "You're a little over a year older than I am – big difference. And I've never considered myself an actual child."

Kyouya's eyes narrowed but he conceded this point without comment.

"You know how to fight moderately well," He said instead. "Your mind is more of a weapon than a hundred guns could ever be, and I will, of course, bite to death any enemies we make, but this is the Italian mafia – are you ready for that?"

Tsuna straightened and he met Kyouya's gaze with a fierce, determined look of his own. "There are children who are about to get caught in a crossfire between two mafia Families. If we can prevent that, then I'd do it even if I'm not ready."

He paused, and then retreated a bit, tentatively gauging Kyouya's reaction. "Are you- Are you okay with that?"

Kyouya heaved a long-suffering sigh. "Tsunayoshi, I was impressed up until a sentence ago, and then you went and ruined it by regressing into an herbivore again. You were the one who suggested starting Firmamento – you are our business' boss. Act like it."

Tsuna scowled at him. "I don't want to force you into-"

He broke off with a yelp and dodged when Kyouya threw his tonfa at his head, though with significantly less force than he had with Tweedledumb.

"I believe we had this conversation six months ago," The ex-prefect said, irritated now. "I will bite you to death if you do not stop bringing the issue up. It's annoying."

Tsuna sweatdropped. "Yes, sir."

Kyouya surveyed him suspiciously for a second before closing his eyes in thought. "...We'll put everything else on hold in the meantime. Guard shifts are unpredictable, if only because it's herbivores doing the job, not computers. Can you find them and get into their database with just a random number?"

Tsuna waved the piece of paper in the air. "Seven digits, Kyouya; I could find them on the moon. The rest will be easy enough if I'm careful."

Kyouya smirked sardonically, pushing off the wall. "Very well, if we are going to do this, I want live surveillance on them. Schedules on hard drives can always be changed at the last minute by word of mouth. I'd rather see their habits for myself."

Tsuna sighed, stretching languidly before rising to his feet. "Late vacation to Verona it is. We can leave at the end of the week though. For now, can you dig up everything you can on any big incidents that took place in Italy three years ago? If Scarface's sob story checks out, a mafia group being wiped out should make front-page news in the underworld. For starters, find out what Family our clients are from."

Kyouya nodded once, retrieving his tonfa before heading for the shoji doors. "And you?"

"Me?" Tsuna stuffed the phone number into one of his pockets before following Kyouya into the back of the house. "I'm looking into the Torelli. If they didn't abduct the children and destroy a Family, I want to know why Scarface would say they did. And if they did, I want to know what else they're capable of."

{4}

"Mm-hm. Yeah. Okay. Thanks a lot, Val. We owe you one."

Tsuna hung up just as the train pulled away from the station and began its journey north.

Kyouya glanced up from the files they had compiled over the course of the week. "Durante?"

Tsuna nodded. "Yeah. He told us to be careful, but even he says that the Torelli isn't the type to hurt children or go after an entire Family."

Kyouya grunted and returned to the files, absently handing one over to Tsuna. Tsuna flipped it open, still mulling over the additional information he had learned.

Valentino Durante was the owner of a local bar – Divinità. He had a policy of no fighting in his establishment, and he certainly had the muscle to enforce his rule, so even Mafioso from opposing Families could go by for a drink if they wanted some down time. The police left him alone as well. Val's bar was neutral ground.

The main reason for all this was because he also happened to be an information broker.

A gruff but generally friendly, 'call me Val' type, the bartender was willing to part with whatever information you needed if you paid for it and respected his territory. One of the few times someone didn't, Val had made them pay interest, along with an additional trip to the hospital, but not before the idiot had torched part of Divinità.

This was three months after Tsuna and Kyouya had started Firmamento, and Val had apparently heard about them from one of his contacts, who had heard about them from his sister, who had heard about them from her cousin, who had heard it from her boyfriend, who taught at the martial arts facility that Tsuna and Kyouya often visited.

And when the broad-shouldered, sharp-eyed bartender had walked into Firmamento, a contrasting dancer's grace to his movements that had instantly put Kyouya on edge, even Tsuna had been a bit flummoxed when Val had only asked them to help fix up his bar.

They had done such a good job repainting and reorganizing everything that Val, after paying them the first time, had offered a trade: they'd come in and help him clean up on Friday and weekend nights in exchange for free information anytime they needed it.

It had been the best deal they had ever made.

"Val said that the Estraneo completely died out though," Tsuna said out loud. Two days ago, Kyouya had slapped a month's worth of paperwork in front of him consisting of all the information that the thirteen-year-old had been able to find about their clients.

Kyouya hadn't been off the mark at all when he had implied dissection. If Tsuna had had any intentions of handing anyone over to Scarface and Tweedledumb in the first place, it had fled two minutes into the Estraneo file.

"A few must have survived," Kyouya said. "And they had enough sense to stay underground until now. ...'Strongest Man in Northern Italy'?"

"Hmm?" Tsuna peered over at the folder Kyouya was reading. "Oh, yeah, strongest member in the Torelli Family – Lancia. Orphaned at a young age, taken in by the Torelli, and eventually became one of the Torelli Boss' personal bodyguards. He was put in charge of the three kids that the Torelli took in..."

"A year ago, not three," Kyouya carried on, flipping a page. "Those herbivores lied about that. And the kids aren't kids."

He plucked out the two photographs Tsuna had managed to pull from one of the cameras on the Torelli estate.

"Kakimoto Chikusa and Joshima Ken, yes," Tsuna cocked his head. "They're twelve."

Kyouya arched an eyebrow. "You're eleven. I'm thirteen. What's your point?"

Tsuna sighed. "Not everyone's like us, Kyouya."

Kyouya made a noncommittal noise at the back of his throat. "I imagined five-year-olds, to be honest. I thought there were three."

Tsuna frowned. "That's the weird thing – I couldn't find a single freeze frame of the last boy. Best I got was a glimpse of blue hair when he was walking beside Lancia-san. No one's that lucky; he's avoiding the cameras on purpose. Somehow."

"So he's good enough to not get captured on any camera on the entire estate?" Kyouya frowned. "Blind spots?"

"No," Tsuna shook his head. "Most of the time, he doesn't really walk out in the open, but when he does, either Lancia-san is in the way or the image is too hazy. I thought it was a malfunction in the Torelli's network for a while but I've upgraded their security and it's still like that. The boy's doing something to the cameras."

"You upgraded a mafia syndicate's security system?" If he didn't think it was beneath him, Kyouya probably would have facepalmed.

Tsuna grinned. "Just small things – fixed a couple of glitches, reinforced their firewalls. They'll never notice. They're not very technologically savvy."

"Compared to you, half the world might as well still be in the Stone Age," Kyouya grumbled. Tsuna was very proud; the ex-prefect had made a joke! He was rubbing off on the taciturn teen after all.

"You were right though," Tsuna said on a more somber note. "The Estraneo did... experiment on them."

Kyouya said nothing. The only sign of his revulsion was the thin slash that his mouth had become.

That was alright. Tsuna could talk for the both of them. "Who the heck does that? Children's bad enough; using their own children is disgusting!"

Kyouya shuffled the photographs back into their file and picked up another one. His voice was clinically bland when he spoke. "The world is filled with twisted people. Some of them hide it; some of them don't. At least you're forewarned against the ones who don't."

Tsuna swallowed and dragged his mind back to the files. Thinking too long about it made him feel sick, and the worst thing was that this wasn't the worst thing. All they had found was a general idea of what the Estraneo had done. They didn't know the gruesome facets, and a part of Tsuna hoped that they never would.

"Do you have a name for the third boy?" Kyouya enquired abruptly in a rather transparent attempt to change the topic.

Tsuna seized it gratefully. "Lancia-san calls him Mukuro. Didn't get a last name. Even Val only knew that there are three of them."

Kyouya nodded, gaze sliding to the landscape whizzing by outside and clearly no longer interested in the details. The ex-prefect had always been too straightforward to care about the complicated side notes – things like names didn't really register on his radar unless they specifically caught his attention or were directly part of his job. "...Does this train reach Verona?"

Tsuna twitched. "No, we have to switch at Bologna. One of the station masters told us when I asked."

Kyouya closed the files and placed them on the empty seat next to him before leaning back and shutting his eyes. "I wasn't listening to that herbivore. Wake me up when we get there."

Tsuna rolled his eyes and returned to the file in his hands. And here he thought naps were for toddlers.

{4}

Ten hours later, they had reached Verona and had spent a solid four hours staking out the Torelli estate.

"As far as mafia families go," Tsuna remarked, lying flat on his stomach and spying on the latest guard shift patrolling the perimeter through a pair of binoculars. "This one's not so bad."

Beside him, Kyouya grunted an agreement. "What do you want to do?"

Tsuna considered their options. Minus the whole mafia thing, the Torelli didn't seem like a bad bunch. There was an easy camaraderie between them, and the one time the boss had come out – presumably for a breath of fresh air – he had been greeted respectfully and amicably by his men. Two of the three kids who were supposedly abducted from the Estraneo – Ken and Chikusa – had also made a few appearances, and while the former was downright rude and had an explosive temper, and the latter never spoke, the Mafioso around them took it in stride and continued exchanging the occasional friendly word with them.

The last kid, Mukuro, hadn't been seen thus far though, and neither had Lancia.

Still, Tsuna was convinced that those two Estraneo men had been lying, and that doing anything that might put those three kids back under their control would be an exceedingly bad idea.

So.

"Let's pass the information on to them," Tsuna said at last. "Anonymously of course, but I can pull a few photos of those two Estraneo members from traffic cameras or something as proof that they're still walking around. We'll dig a little further into the Estraneo's plans, pass it on to the Torelli, and then let them handle it. Normally, I'd say handle this ourselves but this is the mafia, and I don't want someone getting wind of two teenagers dabbling in the underworld. Word might get back to my dad, and Vongola might investigate, especially if this ends with the rest of the Estraneo being wiped out. We're better off working behind the scenes."

Kyouya nodded briskly, getting to his feet and dusting himself off. Tsuna did the same, creeping further back behind the foliage before rising to his feet.

"Back to Florence then?" Kyouya enquired as he reached for his duffel bag.

"Yeah," Tsuna nodded, glancing one last time at the Torelli estate. "I think I'll give the bare minimum of the Torelli's security systems to the Estraneo; just enough to satisfy them."

Kyouya's mouth pulled up into a dark smirk. "I could just bite them to death; problem solved."

Tsuna was torn between reluctant amusement and uneasy exasperation. He knew Kyouya didn't have many qualms about actually murdering someone; the former prefect had never killed anyone directly but Tsuna knew for a fact that before he had come along, Kyouya had injured several yakuza to the point where they had died after being transported to the hospital. "We don't know how many of them there are, and no guarantees that the rest won't come after us if two of them go missing. We leave this to the Torelli."

Kyouya grumbled half-heartedly but said nothing more as they turned to leave. They hadn't taken more than three steps before Tsuna stiffened, senses tingling as they yelled a warning.

He shifted his stance, gaze slanting to the right even as Kyouya reacted to his sudden movement, tonfa slipping fluidly into his hands as he dropped his bag and whirled around. "Kyouya-!"

And then two men burst out from a cluster of trees, one holding a gun while the other – Lancia, Tsuna's mind supplied – wielded a massive steel ball.

Both seemed momentarily taken aback at the sight of two children, and neither Tsuna nor Kyouya were above taking advantage of it.

They had sparred together countless times, against the other teachers and students at the martial arts facility and against each other, so neither of them had to do more than glance at each other for a split second before they moved.

Kyouya shot forward, one tonfa slamming into Lancia's weapon head-on before the other swooped in for a head strike.

Tsuna didn't see more than that as he skirted around both of them and barrelled into the second man, shoving the gun up so that the instinctive shot triggered harmlessly into the air. With a deft twist, Tsuna wrenched the weapon out of the man's hand before spinning on the spot and slamming a foot straight into the Mafioso's gut. His opponent was lifted clean off his feet as he tumbled backwards, not stopping until he thudded against the trunk of a tree before slumping at its base, out cold.

Tsuna didn't waste time celebrating as he sought out his best friend. The element of surprise was evidently a positive for them, but even without it, Tsuna doubted that Kyouya would've had much of a problem dealing with Lancia.

Tsuna had thoroughly researched the top fighters of the Torelli Famiglia, and passed it on to Kyouya, so they both knew what Lancia's weapon was capable of. The trick to beating it was to stick to close combat, and not give Lancia a chance to swing the serpent ball around.

Coupled with Kyouya's own genius at fighting and Lancia didn't stand much of a chance. The man had managed to dodge the first three blows but the ex-prefect simply leapt into the air, used Lancia's weapon as a makeshift stepping stone, and flipped clean over the Mafioso's head, lashing out with another tonfa and catching Lancia's temple with one decisive strike, using the man's lesser speed against him. Lancia was a hard-hitter and a frontline combatant; against Kyouya's swifter movements, he was at an even worse disadvantage.

The Mafioso crumpled to the ground, already unconscious, and by the time Kyouya had swung around to face Tsuna, glancing approvingly at the man Tsuna had taken down in the process, Tsuna already had both his and Kyouya's bags slung over one shoulder.

"Let's go!" Tsuna urged, darting away. "I don't want the entire Torelli Family coming down on our heads. We're good, but we're not that good."

"Yet," Kyouya corrected as he raced onwards beside Tsuna, keeping a sharp eye out for anymore enemies.

Tsuna's mouth twisted into a sardonic smile. "I suppo-"

He skidded to a halt, one hand extending in front of Kyouya when the older teen attempted to step in front of him. "No, wait."

Several feet in front of them, a teen with indigo hair and mismatched eyes stepped out, and Tsuna's eyes narrowed.

There's something very dangerous about this guy.

"Kufufufufu," The teenager – undoubtedly Mukuro – smirked at them with a decidedly disturbing air. "Well, well, what have we here? Quite a feat for two children to defeat two Mafioso without a single scratch. I commend you for it."

Beside him, Kyouya bristled and made to step forward again, but Tsuna stopped him with a firm hand against his best friend's chest. "Kyouya, no. This guy's no joke. He's dangerous."

Kyouya stiffened, tensing almost imperceptibly at his words. It wasn't often – never, so far – that Tsuna would go out of his way to stop Kyouya from fighting someone.

"Oh? How perceptive," Mukuro's smirk widened as his focus slid over to Tsuna. "And to whom do I owe the honour of this... flattering compliment?"

"No one," Tsuna said tersely. "We were just leaving; we mean no harm. If you'll be so kind as to step out of the way, we'll probably never see each other again."

"Now where would be the fun in that?" Mukuro took a step forward, and his right pupil, with a disconcerting 'six' in the middle, suddenly blurred before stopping on a 'one'.

In the next second, the plants around them came alive, vines suddenly becoming hissing vipers before shooting towards them.

Tsuna frowned in concentration. Those aren't real. I don't know what the heck's going on but those aren't real. At least, not real real, if that makes any sense.

So before Kyouya could retaliate, Tsuna yanked the teen back and summoned his flames. He hadn't wanted to use them because that might as well be the equivalent of a large neon sign telling people to investigate but he instinctively knew that it would get rid of... whatever this was.

So with only their need to escape in mind, Tsuna released his flames in an explosion of bright orange, and he only just managed to catch a look of unguarded surprise from Mukuro before Tsuna was hightailing out of there, Kyouya hot on his heels as the forest behind them blazed with fire that burned but wouldn't spread. It cut off anyone who might try to come after them, and Tsuna knew it would buy them enough time to get on the first train back to Florence.

"What was that?" Kyouya demanded as they sprinted back towards the nearest train station.

"I don't know," Tsuna shook his head. "Illusions, maybe? I just know that those snakes weren't real, but that they had the ability to hurt us if we tried to fight against them. Does that make sense?"

"No," Kyouya said bluntly as they hurtled through several back alleys before slipping seamlessly onto a busy street. "You said he was dangerous though."

"Yeah," Tsuna thought back to the lethal edge behind Mukuro's fake smile that had screamed silent threats at him even before the blue-haired teen had attacked. "He's not your average teenager, that's for sure. And I have a gut feeling that he was the one who somehow found us in the first place. I don't want to risk fighting him when we're not certain of what he's capable of.

"Let's head to Ferrara first," Tsuna added as they approached the train station up ahead. "And then double back to Padua before heading back to Florence via Ravenna. It'll help throw anyone chasing us off our trail. And I'll erase our faces from any cameras on the way."

Kyouya nodded, but tacked on somewhat loftily, "Next time, if we ever bump into him again, I want to fight him."

Tsuna sighed and made a mental note to try to track down some of the research notes from Mukuro's years with the Estraneo. He didn't think he would ever see the blue-haired teen again, not to mention it was a breach of privacy if he could get his hands on any records of those revolting experiments, but he'd rather be prepared than not, and between Kyouya and Mukuro, Kyouya won hands down.

{4}

"And this is everything?"

"Down to the last bathroom break," Tsuna quipped with a thin smile, mentally adding, 'Except we also sent that and everything we have on you and your plans to the Torelli two weeks ago.'

"Good; our thanks," Scarface smiled rather grotesquely as he closed the files passed them all to his sour-looking partner.

In one corner, Kyouya stood with his arms crossed, tonfa out of sight but ready. Tsuna himself sat with his feet planted on the ground, prepared to move at a heartbeat's notice.

"And our money?" Tsuna prompted.

"Of course," Scarface reached into his suit, and Tsuna had to physically stop himself from twitching. The Mafioso pulled out the other half of the payment and placed them on the coffee table.

"And you never come back here again," Tsuna reminded them as both turned to leave. "We don't like dealing with Mafioso."

Scarface chuckled silkily. "We understand. You won't see us again once we leave."

Tweedledumb sneered at Tsuna as they turned for the front entrance, only to stop just inside the living room.

"The thing about Mafioso though," Scarface continued conversationally as he adjusted his tie. "We don't like leaving loose ends."

And the living room exploded into action.

Tsuna dove to the ground and rolled to the side as Scarface pulled a silencer and planted three bullets into the armchair that Tsuna had been sitting in. Flicking his wrist, Tsuna hurled a knife at Scarface that the man easily batted aside before firing in Tsuna's direction once more. The coffee table shattered and chips of stone from the fireplace ricocheted in the air as Tsuna leapt from furniture to floor and back to furniture again, avoiding the assault as he let his instincts guide him.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Kyouya clashing with Tweedledumb but couldn't get a good read on how they were doing as Scarface sent another score of bullets over his head, only missing because Tsuna was fast enough to dodge them.

"Stay still, you little brat," Scarface growled, a flash of frustration staining his expression.

Tsuna's mouth tilted up. One of the upsides about living with Kyouya was that when people saw them, they instantly labelled the older of the two of them as the dangerous one and dismissed Tsuna, with his harmless-looking demeanour, as irrelevant if smart.

It never turned out well for some of the crooks they came across in their line of business.

Still, Tsuna was more suited to hand-to-hand combat, so without warning, he grabbed a handful of broken glass, threw them in the general direction of Scarface's face, and followed the attack by lunging forward and crashing into the Mafioso, toppling the man with sheer momentum.

Scarface only managed to get off one last shot before they landed on the ground in a tangle of limbs, but Tsuna made sure to dig his elbow hard into the inside of the man's wrist, right below the flexible joint. The bone snapped under the pressure, and Scarface released the gun on reflex, grunting with pain.

Tsuna didn't expect the other hand to cuff him heavily across the face and send him sprawling across the living room floor. His head thunked harshly against the floorboards, and his world temporarily tilted as he tried to figure out up from down. Somewhere to his right, he heard Scarface fumble for something before barking out, "Get some backup in here! They're more troublesome than we thought they'd be!"

Tsuna gritted his teeth and hauled himself to his feet, ducking out of the way when a fist came hurtling towards his face. As it passed, he grabbed the arm and planted a hand against the man's torso, recalling everything Kyouya had ever taught him about throwing a larger and heavier opponent as he dug his heels into the ground and lifted the Mafioso off his feet, throwing him over one shoulder and onto the ground.

Scarface landed on his back, trying to get up even as all the air rushed out of his lungs, but Tsuna didn't give him a chance, delivering a sharp kick to the Mafioso's temple. As Scarface went limp, Tsuna blinked as he was reminded of the same kick Shiraishi had once handed out to one of those yakuza that the white-haired man had fought on the street.

Huh. Déjà vu.

Exhaling shortly and wiping away a trickle of blood coming from a cut on his cheek, Tsuna turned to find Kyouya just finishing up his fight, a nasty gleam in his eyes as one of his tonfa smashed ruthlessly into Tweedledumb's throat, unquestionably crushing the man's windpipe.

Tsuna winced in almost sympathy. Kyouya was a lot of things but a clean fighter wasn't one of them. His best friend dealt out punishing bloodbaths, not untraceable assassination hits.

Then again, Tsuna wasn't one to talk, but at least his targets didn't end up as... messy.

"Are you alright?" Kyouya asked as he carelessly kicked Tweedledumb's body aside, already scanning Tsuna for any signs of critical injuries.

"I'm fine," Tsuna assured automatically, hiding a grimace as his adrenaline began to fade and the sting from several piece of glass that had sliced through his clothes and into his skin began to sink in. His head felt a bit funny too but it didn't seem too bad. Probably a mild concussion at most.

Kyouya on the other hand had a rip in his shirt and an ugly gash down one arm. A bruise was already blossoming on his jaw but the way he rubbed at it seemed more irritated than anything else.

"More importantly," Tsuna continued hastily when Kyouya's eyes narrowed suspiciously at him. "Scarface over there called for backup. They probably have our house in their sights, so my question is: why isn't there anybody storming the place?"

This sufficiently distracted Kyouya as he strode over and peered out the window between the curtains. "I don't see anyone. Should we go outside?"

"Out the back and around," Tsuna decided. "Discretion's the better part of valour and all that, especially when it comes to an unknown number of enemies."

They crept out the back door into the yard, silently scooting along the side of the house until they had a clearer view of the front of the house.

"Five... six bodies," Kyouya reported as Tsuna peered over his shoulder. "All dead. Someone took them out for us-"

A rustle in the bushes several feet away interrupted him.

They moved at the same time.

Tsuna dropped to a crouch and sprinted forward, keeping low to the ground as Kyouya twisted and flung his tonfa across the garden and over Tsuna's head. A pained cry followed as a man staggered into sight, slumping sideways onto the grass. Another man rose from behind the foliage but Tsuna was already on him, executing an uppercut that made the Mafioso stagger before finishing him off with a direct kick to one of the man's legs, sending the intruder to the ground as the knee buckled under Tsuna's assault.

"Okay, that's enough!" A voice boomed out in Italian. "We're not here to hurt you or abduct you or anything else your ridiculously mistrustful minds can come up with!"

Tsuna straightened as Kyouya came to stand beside him, both of them keeping both eyes on the handful of Mafioso crawling out of the woodwork. All of them had weapons, but while clearly wary, they kept said weapons at their sides.

And then one man stepped forward, broad-shouldered and hawk-eyed even in his mid-forties, and even if Tsuna hadn't managed to scrounge up several photos of every member of the Torelli Famiglia, he would've known that this was its boss.

"Can we talk this out?" The Torelli boss enquired dryly. He was the only Mafioso in the vicinity who wasn't visibly armed, though that could be due to the fact that Lancia stalked a pace behind him, a severe scowl on his face and his signature weapon in hand as his gaze flickered vigilantly between Tsuna and Kyouya.

"I am Antonio Torelli," The Torelli boss continued with an easy smile. "Though I'm sure you already know that. We've taken out the rest of the Estraneo here as a sign of goodwill. In return, I'll accept the information you sent us as the same. So, instead of taking out any more of my men, perhaps we could sit down and talk like civilized people."

It wasn't really a question or even a suggestion, but Tsuna was more interested in the fact that Antonio had only glanced briefly at Kyouya, not really dismissive but rather cursory, before focusing almost entirely on Tsuna instead.

'He thinks I'm in charge,' Tsuna realized, which was a hell of a novelty since most people looked to Kyouya first until Tsuna stepped up to do most of the talking. 'Well, technically, I suppose I am in charge.'

Beside him, Kyouya shifted subtly, and Tsuna caught the older teen's questioning eye. Should we attack?

Tsuna glanced once more at the surrounding Mafioso. There were eight of them in total, not counting the two they had felled a moment ago. They were outnumbered and he was injured to boot, though he could still fight. Kyouya was strong but he wasn't strong enough to take down a boss, much less all eight of them even with Tsuna's help before at least one of their potential enemies could plant a bullet in either of them. In the worst-case scenario, even Tsuna would be hard-pressed to use his flames effectively enough to give both of them adequate time to run away.

He looked again at Antonio, his instincts not ringing any alarm bells. The Torelli boss wasn't planning to hurt them, at least not in the near future.

Tsuna flicked a brief glance back at Kyouya and surreptitiously shook his head once. No. We'll talk.

Kyouya's mouth twisted disdainfully, especially when his gaze moved to Lancia, but his stance relaxed marginally and he lowered his remaining tonfa without further prompting.

Tsuna concentrated on Antonio again. The man was eyeing him thoughtfully, large frame still languid as he studied Tsuna.

"Well, let's talk," Tsuna agreed, and then paused and glanced over at the two men on their lawn, one out cold and the other unable to get up. "Uh, I guess after you get your guys to a doctor. In our defense, we didn't know they weren't Estraneo."

Antonio snorted with faint amusement before motioning for Lancia to take care of his two fallen men. Lancia looked reluctant to part more than three steps from his boss but Antonio waved him away and strolled forward alone.

Tsuna sighed quietly and shrugged his shoulders a bit, wishing he had time to see to his own injuries. But he wasn't about to let the Torelli boss out of his sight, no matter how laidback the man seemed.

It was going to be a long day.

{4}

Antonio liked to think that his Famiglia was of the fairly decent sort for the underworld. He kept his men away from dealing with drugs and those slave trades that everybody said didn't exist anymore in this day and age but actually still did, and he never agreed to alliances with far too powerful Families; it never ended well for middle ground, neutral syndicates like his.

The Vongola was a prime example. The Torelli, while not one of the top powerhouses in the criminal world, was no slouch either. They were nowhere near as technologically advanced as, say, the Bovino, but they had some of Italy's best fighters (Antonio still couldn't believe Lancia had lost, and to a kid at that; he had put it down to luck, surprise, and prodigious skill on the kid's part).

But the thing about powerful Famiglias like the Vongola was that no matter how nice their members seemed (the Nono was as grandfatherly as they came), you didn't get to stay top dog – basically meaning most respected and most feared – in the mafia without a certain manipulative cunning and ruthlessness that would make hardcore cutthroats look like saints.

Antonio was a straightforward – mostly; he had his moments – person; he said what he meant, and meant what he said. Occasionally, he kept some things unsaid when it looked like holding back a few cards was the smarter option; better safe than sorry. His Family didn't have all that many enemies, and any hitmen sent to assassinate him were dealt with swiftly – beaten up and sent back or killed; no torture. Torture was just troublesome in his opinion. He had better things to do than make people scream and cry, and dinner never did taste the same immediately afterwards.

So when some of his men had come across three children a year ago in the bloody carnage of one of the few remaining pocketfuls of Estraneo bases, Antonio had figured what the hell. The kids clearly had nowhere to go, it would be nice for the Torelli to gain some new blood, and no one had contested it either since everybody preferred to keep well away from the sickening experiments that the Estraneo carried out, which, unfortunately, included the kids that had been experimented on.

Of course, Antonio had ordered a sweep of the area where the kids had been found, just in case there were anymore Estraneo running around. They'd found a few, and had dealt with them accordingly, but, obviously, they hadn't gotten all of them.

A week and a half ago, when the files had arrived in the mail, Antonio had had to reread them several times over to believe what had been sent to him. Lancia had reported two weeks before that of the two children who had been spying on them, as well as the Dying Will flames – signature power of the Vongola Famiglia and its allies – that had stopped them from following the two intruders.

After making sure Mukuro was safe and scolding him for following Lancia out there in the first place, Antonio had instructed everyone to have their guard up and an ear out for rumours of an assault. Imagine his shock when the files had arrived, detailed with everything from security tapes to photographs to meticulous research and best guesses into the Estraneo's plans. There was even a note at the end admitting to a deal made between their anonymous tippers and the Estraneo that they felt was too dangerous to back out from, and when they would have to give up certain information.

Antonio had known instantly that the files had come from the two children but he hadn't wasted time ordering anyone to hunt them down. The Estraneo took greater priority; the Torelli's three newest additions would never be safe so long as any Estraneo member was alive.

The Torelli had their own eyes and ears everywhere, and they'd soon traced whispers of a man matching one of the pictures that had been sent to them back to Florence. Obviously, the Estraneo was connected to the two children; find the Estraneo, and Antonio would find the children. For all that their young mysterious allies were turning out to be quite the geniuses, they were still inexperienced with the mafia life and hadn't been able to cover all their tracks, not to mention they would've been able to find out even more if they had had contacts in the underworld.

And then, after discovering the Estraneo's temporary hideout, Antonio had originally planned two hits on the day that his Famiglia's security systems would be exchanging hands – one on the hideout (which had been carried out quite smoothly) and another on the group of Mafioso they had tailed all the way to an establishment named Firmamento.

They had silently taken out all the ones left outside, and Antonio himself had been about to lead the assault inside when the frantic voice of one of the two Mafioso who had entered had come over one of the two-way radios, calling for backup of all things.

Antonio had not expected another win in the children's favour, and had almost facepalmed when said children had attacked two of Antonio's men. Luckily, they hadn't been badly hurt.

(The black-haired one at least looked the part, lethal and predatory; the brown-haired one looked... unreasonably cute for someone who had helped take down two armed men, yet it was unmistakeable to Antonio just which of the two was the leader, especially when the black-haired teen looked to the brunet for instructions.)

And now here he was, the bodies inside Firmamento having been cleared out and the glass swept up before the brunet – just call me Tsuna; only Kyouya calls me Tsunayoshi – had made tea for all of them. Antonio would've preferred coffee or brandy but he was a guest so he figured he could let it pass without complaint, not to mention they were underage and wouldn't have alcohol anyway.

Another half hour later (after Antonio had insisted that they at least see to their own injuries first while he stood within their ever-suspicious line of sight), most things had been cleared up on both sides. Antonio still had to ask, "But why did you help us? Wouldn't it have been easier to just hand over the information and keep your heads down? Granted, you might've had your work cut out for you if we hadn't taken down the men outside but I know you're more than capable of escaping if you put your mind to it."

Tsuna blinked at him, glanced at his glowering friend – you can call him Kyouya; pay no mind if he glares at you – and then looked back at Antonio once more.

"There were children involved," The brunet said slowly, looking honestly perplexed as to why Antonio was asking at all. "And frankly, those Estraneo guys were just plain disturbing."

Antonio hid a smile. Honesty was so refreshing sometimes, especially in a world woven by lies.

He mulled over what he had seen of these two boys' fighting styles, the wonderful job they had done with the files, and the obvious intelligence each of them possessed.

"Okay," Antonio smiled winningly at them, inwardly chuckling at the irritation further creasing Kyouya's brow. "You've proven yourselves to be quite the pair. Wanna join my Famiy?"

Antonio thoroughly enjoyed the double-take Tsuna sketched, as well as the incensed glare Kyouya shot at him. "I'm very serious. You both have a lot of potential. And you already know there are kids your age in my Family. You're very good at what you do; you could become some of the best in the underworld with some experience and training."

"I follow no one," Kyouya interjected with a condescending sneer. "Least of all a mafia boss."

Antonio stared idly at the black-haired teen. He supposed it went without saying that Tsuna was the exception to that statement. And he wasn't really surprised by the reply anyway since-

"You don't happen to be a Hibari, do you?" Antonio ventured, and nodded to himself when Kyouya stiffened. "Thought so. I know one of your relatives. Contracted her for a hit once. She did an excellent job."

The teens exchanged a glance filled with unspoken words and subtle gestures; Antonio spared a moment to admire their evident friendship. You didn't see many like that these days, the sort that simply clicked with one another whether in battle or not.

"I'll have to decline your previous offer," Tsuna told him as Kyouya leaned back again. "We have no interest in the mafia; this was just a one-time thing that got a bit out of hand."

Antonio nodded. This had also been something he had expected, though he figured leaving the offer out there wouldn't do any harm.

"Still, I believe keeping in contact could benefit both of us," Antonio persisted, putting aside his tea – he hadn't been able to take more than one sip; tea really wasn't his thing – and reaching for a pen and a notepad in his coat. "An outside alliance if you will. You have talents I might need, and the Torelli Famiglia could be an asset to you if you ever run into any more trouble."

He tore off a page with a number and an email address on it and held it out to Tsuna. "How about it? We can start now. My men made a mess on your front lawn – it's a miracle we've managed to cover it up for the most part but civilians can be absurdly oblivious when they want to be – and your house is pretty messed up too. I'll pay for all the renovations, replace anything that needs to be replaced, I'll even throw in a new paintjob, and in exchange, you can help upgrade my security systems."

There was a heartbeat's silence, and then Kyouya scoffed. Antonio raised his eyebrows when Tsuna coughed, looking mildly embarrassed.

"I... kinda already did," The brunet admitted. "Upgrade your security systems I mean.

"I couldn't leave them like that! They were offensive to look at!" Tsuna tacked on defensively when Antonio continued staring at him. "They weren't exactly good security systems so I figured I could tweak it a little and make it so that your average hacker wouldn't be able to get in."

Antonio couldn't help it. He burst into laughter.

Oh this was rich. He was liking this boy more and more.

"Guess I'll have to pay up then," Antonio grinned, leaning forward to study the boy more closely.

Frankly, Tsuna was intriguing. Antonio had suspected it when he'd first seen the boy outside, the way Tsuna had instinctively zeroed in on him as the greatest threat despite the fact that he was the only one not holding a weapon, and coupled with the Sky flames that had lit up his estate's surrounding greenery like a beacon, he was even more convinced.

This kid had Vongola blood.

But Tsuna wore his emotions on his sleeve, and any Vongola worth his salt would've had that drilled out of them long ago, so Antonio was inclined to believe that the kid really didn't have much to do with the mafia at all before this situation had cropped up. Not to mention Vongola operated out of Messina in Sicily. Florence was too far north for any truly effective operation to be carried out.

"You don't have to-" Tsuna was saying.

"-but we'll take it," Kyouya cut in, smirking with satisfaction. Antonio held back a snicker when Tsuna rolled his eyes at the black-haired teen.

"Good," Antonio extended the piece of paper again, and this time, Tsuna accepted with only the slightest of hesitations. They all rose to their feet, Antonio extending a hand towards his temporary host. The brunet's own hand was ludicrously small compared to his as they shook.

New generation's getting younger every year, Antonio thought somewhat ruefully.

Out loud, he only added humorously, "And next time you come to visit, do try using the front door instead of setting my home on fire."

He released a loud bark of laughter as Tsuna spluttered wordlessly in his wake, and Kyouya blistered his retreating back with a scowl that would've done Lancia proud.

Geniuses they may be but they were still fledgling little brats.

{4}

[Four Weeks Later]

"We're open! Come on in!" Tsuna called out, putting down the morning paper when the doorbell rang. People usually walked right in, especially a regular, but some were more diffident when entering their workplace.

He rose to his feet to greet their newest customers, and then froze in his tracks when an unsettling feeling crawled up his spine. A second later, four familiar people trekked in. Three of them were, puzzlingly enough, carrying duffel bags.

"Good morning, Lancia-san," Tsuna began, making sure that his voice carried. Lancia's face was set in a frown but Tsuna was beginning to think that that was his default expression. "How may I help you?"

Behind Tsuna, the shoji doors slid open, and he could feel Kyouya's ire instantly spike.

Before Lancia could speak, the blue-haired boy beside him stepped forward, mismatched eyes glinting. Behind him, Ken and Chikusa flanked him like teenaged bodyguards.

"Hello, Tsunayoshi-kun," Mukuro purred in fluent Japanese, smirking even as Kyouya stepped forward threateningly. "In the spirit of the new alliance you made with the Torelli, our boss and Lancia-senpai here both agreed with me when I suggested some... bonding time between us younger kids.

"So," Mukuro's smirk widened. "We'll be staying here with you for a while. I hope we all get along."

Tsuna could only think of one thing at this point, especially when Kyouya looked near homicidal at his side.

Oh shit.


Please leave a review on your way out.

Okay, so this wasn't really summarized, but I had to write out how everything started, and then Mukuro decided to barge into the chapter and refused to leave. He'll be the only one with his story more or less revealed though; any others will be much shorter, and they'll be several timeskips in the next chapter. I'm hoping I can get back to the anime storyline by the end of it.