A/N: Yes, I'm still alive and going to finish off my assignment as soon as I post this… And sorry for any OOCness I haven't had time to read KHR fics in awhile.
NOTE: The ages I've chosen were from memory and I didn't really check. I started with Tsuna as 14, so the Arcobaleno are physically 2, sans Lal. And Yuni, whose TYL self is (I think) 11 or 12 so her age when Tsuna's 14 would be 2.
ALSO, years pass with each part from where Tsuna is about 18 to the end where he is 34.
There may be some ArcoTsuna and R27 if you squint.
Disclaimer: I don't own, and much too broke to buy KHR.
For the Vietnamese readers out there, MoonflowerKnight has kindly translated this one-shot. :D You can find the link on my profile!
With the Arcobaleno curse gone, Tsuna thought that everyone was better off now. Yuni, of course, had to return to the future since they didn't want cause some time paradox that Tsuna was sure he would end up having to deal with. And the rest of the Arcobaleno returned to their usual routines.
Tsuna wasn't concerned since they were the Arcobaleno and, being quite capable of dealing with their younger forms, would have no issues and be quite pleased to finally be ageing. It wasn't like they were actual children, so there was no need to be concerned, right?
Tsuna found his current time's Yuni to be quite endearing, at his age of 18 the girl was only 6 and very cute. Maybe it had something to do with being children, since I-pin and Lambo were much the same, albeit one was a loud cry-baby. Tsuna found normal children -or as normal as children growing up in their world could be- to be blessing nowadays, after dealing with the Arcobaleno.
The brunet looked down and smiled gently at the girl who was holding her arms up expectantly. He picked her up obligingly, adjusting his hold so that she was more comfortable and chuckled when the little girl placed a kiss on his cheek.
"You should stop charming the princess."
Tsuna blinked and turned to face Gamma. He tilted his head. "What do you mean?"
Gamma just sighed at the blank confused look on the brunet's face and the little girl giggling with her hands on her mouth, her cheeks lit a light shade of pink. Given his princess' playful side, even at this age, he didn't expect this would stop anytime soon.
There was no need to raise the Neo Vongola Primo's concern just yet.
Fon wiped his face clear of water and turned to speak to the only other person with him. "Thank you, Tsuna."
The brunet waved it off with a wry smile. "It's fine, feel free to ask me if you have any trouble."
Fon shook his head. "Oh no, I couldn't." But the storm already knew that the brunet would help weather or not he asked. He stepped off the stool and picked it up to hand it back to the brunet.
Tsuna just shook his head, "keep it here, I'm sure that you and the others could use it."
That morning, Tsuna had woken and walked into his bathroom to wash up. He didn't expect to find Fon, who was staying over for a short while, to be standing on tiptoe, trying to brush his teeth. Of course Tsuna, being so used to handling Lambo and I-pin, had automatically picked the ex-storm Arcobaleno up and placed a stool under him without thinking.
Now that he thought of it, it was rather embarrassing, but he was glad that it was Fon and not one of the other Arcobaleno. He did not want know what they would do to him for treating them, essentially, like a child.
Fon smiled, it was true that at his current physical age of 6, he was too tall to stand on the table to brush his teeth and just a little too short to see comfortably over the sink. So he was glad for the help. He walked over to gently take the brunet's hand, who blinked down at him. "I can sense Nana-san coming to call us down for breakfast."
"Tsu-kun! It's time for breakfast!"
Fon chuckled to himself, wondering what mafia boss had a mother who still called him by endearing nicknames. Squeezing the brunet's hand, he looked up with a sly glint in his ordinarily calm smile
"Would you like me to teach you how to do that?" It meant spending more time with the gentle brunet. And blindfolds. After all you couldn't heighten the other senses if sight, one of humanity's primary senses, was in the way.
Tsuna felt a chill, wondering if he really wanted more training, and opened his mouth. But before he could give a reply, Fon started dragging him out and down the staircase. "We'll start after breakfast."
Tsuna ducked, letting whatever had just smashed his window and into his bedroom this time fly over his head. He quickly scribbled in the last answer to his 'homework': a test on his knowledge of the current leaders of different mafia famiglia, intelligence agencies and political figures in the world. Was it ironic that he actually knew how to answer these but school work continued to evade him? Tsuna sure hoped this wasn't some sign from above telling him that he was made for this mafia boss job.
The brunet turned to find a...mini-motorbike stuck in his wall a distinctly Skull-shaped dent beside that. Honey brown eyes flicked from the dent to the groaning form on the floor. Skull sat up and took off his helmet, shaking his head.
Tsuna was already taking out his first aid kit -one he hadn't had to use on himself for a long time now- he bent down in front of the ex-Arcobaleno and started dabbing one of the scratches with an alcohol swab.
Skull hissed and backed away. "You don't need to treat my wounds!" He stood up, putting his hands on his hips. "The Great Skull is Immortal!" He crowed proudly.
Tsuna chuckled. "You might be immortal, but that doesn't mean your wounds don't hurt or they can't become infected," he chided. With that, he reached for the Cloud and, ignoring his protests, started treating the wounds.
Skull was sitting in Tsuna's lap by the end, and he had quieted. It had been a long time since he had his wounds treated by someone else, and so carefully too. Although... the stuntman waved his hand, the bandage there flopping with the movement and a bit too loose and clumsily wrapped. He looked up when he heard Tsuna laugh sheepishly.
"Sorry, looks like I still can't do things right." Tsuna scratched his head and reached out for the bandaged hand. "I'll do it again."
Skull leapt out of the brunet's lap before Tsuna could grab his hand. "No! This is perfect!" He held his hand close protectively. After all the teen -almost an adult now- had treated him, and no matter how bad the result, Skull treasured the feeling of being offered help more.
Tsuna blinked and sighed, holding up his hands in a relenting gesture. "Okay, okay. I won't touch it." At least all the wounds had been treated.
Skull grinned. "Thanks!" And ran out of the room. As he was going down the stairs he heard the brunet call something that made him feel warm, fuzzy and sheepish inside.
"I'll ask Shōichi or Spanner to make a bigger bike for you!"
Tsuna sighed as he took the plastic jug off the blender and poured the strawberry smoothie into a glass. He placed the drink in front of his...guest.
"Thanks." Mammon said curtly and took the drink. The ex-Arcobaleno hummed in contentment after the first sip.
Tsuna didn't get it.
The brunet had been woken rather rudely by a nightmare about his younger self running in boxers. As soon as he had sensed the mist flames he had snapped awake, ready to scold Mukuro, only to find that it wasn't his Mist Guardian who had been the cause. Mammon had demanded a drink in compensation for coming all the way to his house, and Tsuna had to drag himself out of bed and to the kitchen at four in the morning.
He sat down opposite the Mist and blinked sleepily as he watched Mammon consume the drink. When the ex-Arcobaleno finished, Tsuna found the cup held out to him. He sighed and stood up to pour more for the Illusionist, he gave the glass back to Mammon and prepared another blend of the smoothie knowing, by now, that the ex-Arcobaleno would not settle for just two glasses. The Illusionist beat even Reborn, who demanded on average 10 cups of coffee from Tsuna in one sitting. At least Tsuna had some freedom in choice as to what coffee, or in this case, strawberry flavoured beverage, he could make; no one had complained so far, though Tsuna didn't really consider himself a good barista.
By the time Mammon was on the fifth glass, Tsuna decided that it wouldn't be rude to ask why the Mist had decided to visit.
He opened his mouth, only to be interrupted.
"Tsuna-nii... Make Lambo-san one too." An 11 year old Lambo stood at the doorway to the kitchen, rubbing his eyes. The boy no longer had his afro and stood at Tsuna's chest height now. He was already developing a lazy slouch despite Tsuna's attempts to make him stop.
The brunet could only huff and nod as he stood up to make another batch of smoothie, grape flavoured this time.
By the time six am rolled by, Tsuna had fallen asleep at the kitchen table. Mammon was tugging on the fluffy strands of the brunet's hair, watching the brunet's face scrunch up at the feeling.
Lambo was slurping the last of his drink and watching the ex-Arcobaleno curiously. "Hey, why did you come here today? That creepy umbrella guy isn't here too is he?"
Mammon's eyes rolled, not that it could be seen under the hood. "He isn't." The Mist hopped off the stool and went to window, opening it easily. "And I got what I wanted today." and at no expense too.
With one last glance at the sleeping brunet, the Illusionist disappeared into the early morning fog.
Tsuna sighed in relief and lowered the shotgun. His arm was starting to go numb from firing it so many times in succession and his ears weren't faring much better. Apparently the 'Neo Vongola Primo' (in his opinion the name still sounded ridiculous) wasn't allowed to wear big noise cancelling headphones because it would ruin his image. He couldn't even wear his old ones because they had been modified over the last few years and now were just two tiny compact silver beads that were a part of his ear canals -Tsuna would make no comment about how utterly creepy it was to actually have a voice in your head.
"Is this really necessary?"
Oftentimes Tsuna thought that those 'Vongola Traditions' Reborn always mentioned were things the hitman made up for his own amusement.
Oh how wrong he was.
Tsuna narrowed his eyes at the large blank billboard that he had finally managed to spell 'Vongola' on with the gun in his hands.
"It's to display your skills and accuracy to all the mafia. Now, do it again, it needs to be perfect." Lal pushed a button in her hands, and the billboard several hundred metres away was replaced with another clean board. "Put more of your flames in this time."
Tsuna felt like groaning, but resisted for fear of being smacked into oblivion. Apparently the real coronation, where he would take his grandfather's seat as the next boss, needed him to be able to spell his famiglia's name in some unique way on a giant board in front of everyone.
It was Quarto's fault this was a 'Vongola Tradition'. Tsuna would be sure to demand retribution next time he saw the former boss in his dreams, even if he got a fork in the face for his efforts.
"Yes ma'am!" Tsuna resisted the urge to salute, and readied his gun. "And Lal, thanks for this."
The bluenette turned red, she scowled and pointed to the target. "No dillydallying!"
Tsuna grinned, and fired.
Tsuna lay flat against the grass, his breath still slightly laboured. They had settled for ditching the gun, and just going with his gloves. That meant he had to concentrate harder in order to condense his flames into a sort of thick beam and keep it like that as he wrote. It was draining, but he got a 'not bad' from Lal, which meant -as he had learned over the years- that he was rather good.
Tsuna caught the cold bottle before it fell on his face.
He pouted up at his current trainer. "What was that for?"
"If you have the energy to complain, you have the energy to do another board."
"No! No! I'm tired! See? Can't even stand." He attempted to lift himself, only to flop back onto the ground. Tsuna took a drink, thankful it was a pop top bottle rather than the usual, so he didn't need to lift his head.
The warm breeze on the Vongola lawns and the smell off fresh greenery soon made the brunet drowsy, his eyes taking longer to open between each blink. He barely registered a hand running through his hair, only nuzzling closer as he fell asleep.
"Hey! You're pathetic, koraaaa!"
Tsuna sighed and patted the blond on the head. "Yes, yes."
There was a pause, the only sound being the wind and the brunet's light footsteps.
"Why does Lal keep rejecting me?"
This time the blond's voice is an almost-whine and Tsuna couldn't help but smile at the fact that the blond was acting his physical age. Actually, the brunet had discovered that many the ex-Arcobaleno tended to be somewhat stubborn, unrelenting and always getting what they wanted, much like a child -not that he would ever say this aloud or even dare to think it near Reborn.
This also happened to be the reason why he was carrying a drunken, physically-12-year-old back to his car. If he had been there, he wouldn't have given that much alcohol to someone who was still growing, but of course the local bartender would just assume that there was no harm in giving the world's best sniper what he wanted. Tsuna would face-palm if his arms were free.
"She doesn't," Tsuna replied to the blond's question, wondering if he would even understand in his intoxicated state.
The blond's response was to thump Tsuna with his fist. He winced. "She does! It's probably because I don't flatter her enough, kora."
The brunet wanted to reject that thought outright and suggest, perhaps, less flattery so that he wouldn't have to deal with the damages when Lal decided to throw the blond through a wall. But Colonnello's rambling had already moved on.
"Maybe I need to get her a gift, girls like cute fluffy things don't they?"
Tsuna shook his head and then paused, maybe Lal did like those things but since she had to portray herself as a relentless CEDEF member, she made herself seem rougher? He frowned, it was plausible. One of the reasons, as he had come to understand, that the woman was so flustered by Colonnello's flirting was because she wasn't used to being treated like, well, a woman. But she also hated being treated as weak willed exactly because she was a woman, and in the end that was what stopped her in reciprocating the blond's feelings -besides the fact that the blond looked like a kid.
Tsuna could feel a migraine coming on, and he wasn't even the one who drank.
He glanced at the blond, who had pulled away slightly to scrutinise him intensely. "Um, what?" Tsuna asked nervously, Colonnello's stare was disquieting.
The blond's eyes trailed from the brunet's fluffy hair to his still somewhat-large eyes and the cheeks that still had hints of baby-fat. He nodded. "You'll do."
The blond leapt out of his arms and grabbed his hand and started running. Tsuna could do nothing about the iron grip and the fast speed and he dearly wanted to question how the blond -who, only minutes before, couldn't even walk in a straight line- was now running with a clear destination in mind and dragging him along. "Where are we going?!"
"To Lal! You'll be my present to her, and she'll finally accept my proposal!" The blond crowed with glee.
"Wha-! Hey! I'm not a toy!"
Tsuna sat on a stool, watching the green haired scientist move to and fro, muttering under his breath as he poured a chemical from a beaker into a large flask. He had long since given up panicking over the fact that he was locked in this room with no way out.
"What are you researching?"
"Our previous curse." Verde replied monotonously, he held up the flask and swirled it, watching the liquid swirl and change colours.
Tsuna blinked, surprised. He didn't think any of the ex-Arcobaleno wanted anything to do with the curse anymore. "Why?"
The scientist looked up at the brunet and pushed his glasses up. "Because there is still no logical formula for what happened. Why did we change in the first place and why did we remain that age despite having the curse lifted? During the representative battles, when we had our curses lifted temporarily, all of us turned into adults. But now we are like this." He gestured to himself. His 12 year old form was a head shorter than the brunet.
Tsuna nodded, understanding. "So...why am I here?"
Verde put his flask down and walked up to the brunet, sharp green eyes peering at him. Tsuna yelped as one of his hairs was plucked out by a pair of tweezers.
"You prove to be a suitable specimen for this particular experiment." Verde placed the hair into a test-tube with some of the swirling liquid, and put that inside a machine.
Tsuna rubbed the spot where his hair had just been pulled out. "I'm not going to just sit here and be your guinea pig," he grumbled.
Verde shrugged. "You don't have a choice." He took out a remote and turned on the large panel the hung on the wall at the side of this make-shift lab. The screen flickered to life, showing Reborn's 12 year old self sipping on an espresso and reading the paper like he had all the time in the world. The screen flickered, this time showing his guardians, minus Hibari, at the dining room table and eating in their usual bickering mood.
"No one has noticed that you disappeared."
Tsuna pouted at all these people who hadn't noticed he'd gone and turned to Verde. "What do you want from me?"
The scientist shrugged and replied nonchalantly, "just a few samples."
Tsuna sighed. His intuition told him that Verde wasn't actually going to hurt him, not on purpose at least, and he would be fine so long as he didn't...touch some of the more suspicious things in the lab.
In the end, the brunet stayed for two days, fussing over the scientist as soon as he discovered exactly what Verde ate and how much sleep he usually got. The much disgruntled scientist gave in to the brunet's stubborn streak, and soon found himself developing an addiction to the brunet's lattes.
There was a click.
In an instant, a hand had shot up and the bullet lodged itself into the wall, far from its intended target.
"Hm. Better, Dame-Tsuna."
The brunet groaned and flopped back on his bed. "Must you wake me every morning in some threatening way?"
"Of course, it's training. I might stop when you can stop me before I'm on top of you." Reborn smirked, lifting his fedora slightly as Leon turned back into a lizard and crawled into Tsuna's hair. He sat on the brunet's chest.
"How am I supposed to do that? You sleep with me!" As soon as Reborn had outgrown his hammock, Tsuna found himself sharing a bed with one of the most deadliest assassins in the world, whether he looked like a child or not. The brunet would never mention how used to Reborn's warm presence he had become though.
"Your training will never finish at this rate."
Tsuna sighed, used to his tutor's unreasonableness. Truth was, he had already become the Neo Vongola Primo, -or Vongola Decimo for consistency's sake; he always knew there was no difference between the two- but Reborn had never left, besides for assignments Tsuna himself sent the hitman on, and the brunet was thankful for that.
In the end, his training was up to par. He could actually react before Reborn climbed on him and tried something deadly on him, but he didn't. Just like he knew that Reborn knew this, but neither of them bothered to mention it. And so, the morning banter continued on in this way.
"Make me an espresso, Tsuna."
"I would if you would get off me." Along with making strawberry milk tea for Mammon; oolong tea for Fon; chocolate shake for Yuni; marshmallow hot chocolate for Byakuran; and iced honey tea for Enma. And those were just the guests; he wasn't even going to start with his guardians. Why was it that the boss of the famiglia had to prepare drinks just because everyone else preferred his home-made ones? They weren't even that good, in his opinion.
"You still have horrible self esteem."
"Stop reading my mind!" Tsuna sat up, letting Reborn slip down into his lap. The brunet blinked in surprise. "You've grown again." The hitman was now eye-to-eye with him, before Reborn had been about half a head shorter, even sitting in his lap.
Reborn smirked. "But of course." He was, physically, 14 now which meant a growth spurt for him; his voice was already changing into the lower baritone his adult self used to have. "At this rate, I'll beat you."
Tsuna sighed, "It's not a competition, Reborn." He had come to terms with the fact that he would always be the shortest among the males, it was either that or pull his hair out with all the teasing he got from Mukuro and certain several others about it.
He let out a little 'oof' as he was suddenly pushed back against the bed with Reborn's superior strength. Tsuna gulped as he found Reborn's face right on top of his, pitch black eyes boring into him with an emotion he couldn't read.
"It is for me." Tsuna squinted his eyes shut as Reborn's warm breath brushed over him. When he opened them again, Reborn was gone.
Bermuda, as Tsuna had discovered, was quite decent as long as he wasn't on some fanatical vendetta. But he still had no clue as to why the Vindice Boss insisted on coming to visit Tsuna's office every morning. At first it had made him nervous, since he had once beaten Bermuda and he was afraid the Vindice was here for more revenge, but he calmed after a few more visits where they did nothing more than discuss business or even small talk.
Bermuda was good at small talk. Perhaps because of the timeframe he had last been a part of society, where your ability to small talk spoke volumes of your rich upbringing. Tsuna garnered that the Vindice Boss used to be an aristocrat or something, though he never asked.
It was when he felt those watchful eyes on him again, one day, that he decided to ask, "Why do you always come over to visit?"
Bermuda did a slow blink, like a cat, although his eyes were hidden under a layer of bandages so no one could see this. "I'm curious as to why the Arcobaleno are so drawn to you," he stated bluntly. He still called Reborn and the others by the title because 'previous Arcobalebo' or 'ex-Arcobaleno' was more something he would use to refer to his fellow Vindice subordinates.
"Why?" Tsuna tilted his head and settled back on the couch. Bermuda sat on the couch opposite him, sipping the tea Tsuna had prepared. "I don't think they are drawn to me..."
"They are." Bermuda peered at the man in front of him. "And I think I know why."
Tsuna quirked a brow in surprise. "Then, why?"
"The exact same reason why a sky like you draws the most troublesome of people."
Bermuda then disappeared in a cloud of night flame, leaving Tsuna to ponder over what he meant.
Rain fell in a steady stream, washing away the remains of a bloody battle. The squelch of mud underfoot was lost in the downpour.
Eyes that were glazed fluttered at the voice. Cracked lips opening to call out, only to cough, a bitter, metallic taste coating his tongue.
He was turned on his side, hacking out a glob of blood and panting from the energy and pain that came from doing such a simple thing. "R-Reborn..." His voice was bare whisper and felt like it had been years since he stuttered.
He was turned to face up again, at the dreary sky and at the dark blur that he can vaguely make into a human shape. He smiled and let his eyes close.
"Tsuna, don't go to sleep!"
The pain of being jostled was lost on him. He opened his mouth again, to say something he had felt the need to say since before he started this fight. "S-sorry, Reborn... For destroying... Your world..." He was fading, and he knew it, but he had no regrets. He had done what he had set out to do.
He felt a pressure on his eyes, and then he opened them to see Reborn clearly. It was almost like he had never seen Reborn with such clarity. The hitman's face was exactly like the adult one he recalled from long ago -and after he'd finally worked out it was Reborn- except with slightly softer features, as if this time round Reborn spent more time smiling than he had the first time he grew up. There was only one thing wrong with the image, and that was the tears he could see trailing down the hitman's cheeks, or was it rain? Because Reborn never cried. It was contrary.
It was impossible.
"Who said the mafia was my world?"
Tsuna wanted to frown in confusion, but it was already taking all his effort to just raise his arm and wipe away that rain -he was sure it was rain- on the hitman's cheek. He left a smear of blood in the process. "S-sorry..." he whispered before his heavy eyelids closed again.
"Oi Tsuna! Stay with me!" A pause, and then Reborn's voice calling in a different direction. "Dammit, hurry up Verde!"
And then nothing.
The first thing that he registered was... A lot of noise.
"So how is this supposed to work out? We can't just keep the brat here!"
"Hahaha, you're only calling him 'brat' now because you can!"
"We can just keep him, it's not that hard, kora!"
"I still have many more tests to run, his body is certainly a curious thing."
"I'm not letting you run those tests on my watch."
"Now now, please calm down, all of you."
"Fon's right. Lal, please stop slapping Colonello. And Reborn and Verde, I can see that gun and that vial of poison."
Tsuna's brow furrowed and he opened his eyes to find himself in a room painted beige, the vanity and wardrobe in his vision were black. He shifted around and pulled the thick covers of the black duvet down, and paused. Wasn't he supposed to be injured? Scratch that, wasn't he supposed to be dead?
He quickly sat up and pulled the large thick cotton pyjamas up to see his chest unmarred with bullet wounds and scrapes, in fact there was something different that he couldn't quite put his finger on...
"I see that you're awake."
Tsuna whipped his head around to see Bermuda sitting there, placing a book he had been reading down on the bedside table. "Where-"
The brunet was interrupted by the door banging open and several somethings tackling him and toppling him over.
"Tsuna you're okay! I was so worried that Verde had done something to you! You're not brainwashed are you?! You don't have needles sticking out of you, right? I hate needles!" This was Skull babbling on as he clung to Tsuna's right side.
"Tsuna, you're so cute! I want to cuddle you all day!" And this was Yuni who had taken Tsuna's left. Between them, there was also a crocodile, an octopus, a frog, a hawk, a lizard and a monkey that had dog piled on him.
By the time they were all removed from him, he felt like a pancake.
"How are you feeling?" Fon settled beside the brunet and helped him sit up again.
Tsuna blinked. "Um, okay. I feel fine. But... Didn't I die?"
He yelped when Reborn hit him over the head. "You think I'm just going to let you die?"
"You're fine, Tsuna," Yuni said and clapped her hands gleefully. "And don't mind the effects, we just thought you'd be cuter this way."
Mammon sighed and conjured up a mirror for the brunet to look through. Large honey brown eyes widened.
He looked exactly like his fourteen year old self.
"Not to worry, I managed to make it so that the age reversal was only 20 years. And it isn't like the curse; you'll age like we do." Verde said in his usual monotone. If this was supposed to be reassuring, Tsuna wasn't very reassured.
"And it's better this way, kora. Everyone thinks you're dead, so you can start off anew." The blond grinned widely and put his hands behind his head.
"Plus, my idiot student" Reborn tugged on the brunet's hair. "Your job's not finished, you may have brought down the Vongola and the mafia with it, but there are still many stragglers left just waiting to re-build that world."
Tsuna groaned and flopped back against Skull, who sat on his other side. Yes, the Arcobaleno never changed, ex or not. They were still the selfish, stubborn, unreasonable group that got what they wanted whether or not Tsuna wanted them to, just like spoilt children. Which was ironic considering they looked well over 20 now, and were mentally much older than that.
So not only was he not allowed to die in peace, he was now physically younger than all of them, all because of their own whims. And he couldn't do anything about it. Except...
Tsuna glared -read: pouted- at each of the ex-Arcobaleno and folded his arms.
"I'm hungry," he said petulantly.
1.10.2013 Edit: Just a few spelling and grammar mistakes. Thank you to all those who reviewed and fav'ed. I didn't think this story would receive such positive feedback! *Gives everyone cookies* XD As for whether I'll make a sequel or not, I'm still not sure. If I get sudden inspiration, then I will. :3
28.8.2014 Edit: No inspiration as of yet to have a sequel written. I would like to graciously thank VongolaCielo27 for averting the terrible disaster of me either; having to rewrite this due to losing the original text, or deleting this altogether.