Train Heartnet stands silently in the torrent of rain so thick it's almost sleet. He isn't put too off by it - well, not enough to forego stalking about the neighbourhood as they settled into this new sweep. Train is on his way back to his partners when he's brought to an untimely halt by the sight of someone withstanding the downpour.
The weather is ironic in a city mourning like this one. He, Sven and the Princess arrives early the other day for the bounty of a man who killed several people, is tormenting the civilians and is too strong for the police to handle. They’d get him, Train's confident, but the suffering from the lives lost has already reached its peak. The people can't take anymore.
Marco Conti likes children: he likes to play with them, likes to touch them and after all that, he liked to drain them of life and leave their small bodies for their parents to find. Train knows Conti's sort well, understands them from his time as a Number though targets back then were geared more to the political scene; to the influential scum rather than the everyday kind of trash that hurt lives more than the system.
Train has an investigation to get on with and now he's standing in the rain, held up by the sight of a person in an otherwise abandoned playground. The children’s playground was just a throw away from the school, both of which had been empty since the body count hit double digits and the city’s authority had to acknowledge to the populace that a predator was on the loose. One that they couldn't control.
Train was brought short on seeing a lone man on the swings, shoulders bowed and posture defeated. He stays rooted for the eyes; bright ember eyes that look up, sensing the heat of Train's gaze and squinting through a curtain of thick eyelashes and the rain. They are…so very sad. Eyes aren't always the easiest thing to read in a trained assassin - anything can lie with the right deceptions in place, but they are often times more honest than not and Train had turned out to be very bad at ignoring someone.
He's soaked through now, clothes moulding to his body. There's a chill running through Train's limbs now and the warning of getting sick and incurring the wraith of his partners, who warned him about getting sick before he left, was enough of a push to get him moving.
Train mentally apologises to Sven and the Princess as he goes to enter the playground. His being late was routine now and they probably won't get worried as long as Train makes it back to the hotel before tomorrow.
Train jumps the metal gate and walks through the graveyard of looming apparatuses. The bone structures - empty, positioned and left in the dark, bled of colour. Morbidly, Train's mind creates the connection between this scenery and the photos from the case files Sven had gotten a hold of once they picked up Conti's Wanted poster.
Train can still see what was left o f Bon, just eight with two little brothers and with a love of dinosaurs and sport. Mary, five, who had wanted to be a police office; the latests victims but every name and face, every backstory is information stored away.
Train's brain likes to do that; remember. Train puts the apparatuses out of his line of sight, is careful to walk around them as he refocuses. He's good at that, has had to be with all the adapting he's done over the years.
Train approaches while trying to work through the variables. The stranger could be family of a victim, he certainly wasn’t Marco Conti and he didn’t give away any visual reactions Train’s advancing presence causes besides the bunching of small but developed shoulders. The rain can be a good revealer and with how little was covering the man’s body, dressed in a simple button-up shirt and slacks, makes the muscles easy to identify from the short statue and the thin frame.
A fighter, perhaps. He doesn’t smell much like one now, but maybe that's just the petrichor or the storm hiding around the corner.
Train sits himself down in the next swing over, holding the stranger in his periphery. Train tries not to shudder as the cold crawls through his trousers and through to his skin. With a short exhale, he starts to rock leisurely back and forth instead, ignoring the groaning of the bolts above them as he did.
Ember eyes dart back to Train where they had glanced away once Train had began his prowl. Train remains causal however obvious Train's intentions would be to engage. Train watches the stranger's jaw work and he almost thinks something will be said, before the brunet's head drops, dripping fringe falling to obscure a pale face.
‘Pretty wet out, buddy,’ Train finally says as he holds onto the frigid metal chain that suspends his seat, watching the stranger quietly. ‘You meeting someone?’ he asks because it’s less insensitive than asking the man if he’s mourning.
The silence stretches out and the chasm between them gaps back at Train for attempting to close it when there is a response. ‘Kami-sama - I hope not.’ Train almost didn’t catch the words, voice muffled like the stranger didn’t have the energy to project. There was a soft quality to it - almost hoarse, that could have been from the cold or lack of use. Regardless, the sound has Train thinking back to Carl and his brand of gentle.
By looks of it, though, the man doesn’t want to be found and the accent makes it obvious that he's far from home. ‘Yeah? Then why are you out here?’ Train enquires lightly as he continues to swing in small movements, back and forth. ‘Haven’t you heard that it’s dangerous out here?’
Conti doesn't bother playing with adults but he doesn’t mind killing a few if he sees one out alone, and he's in the right mood. (He always is.) This statement doesn't seem to perturb the stranger either, as he gives a small, tired shrug that barely lifts his shoulders.
‘No more dangerous than anywhere else I’ve been to,’ the stranger refutes impassively with a flat intonation.
Train wonders idly if the man is prevaricating, not that it matters much, this sweeper is good at obdurating conversation. ‘You’re travelling, then?’
The stranger slants to one side, leans up against the swings support frame like Train has taken the last dredges of his strength. ‘A bit like you, I suppose.’
‘Me?’ Train tilts his head, stomach suddenly very unsettled even as his ears perk.
The man glances at Train again with an exhausted expression, dull lambent eyes flickering from Train’s dripping hair and face to his collarbone and back again in a telling display of knowledge, few people had. ‘Nice to meet you, Thirteen.’
Ah. Well, then.
'Train Heartnet,’ Train introduces himself as he leans forward, skidding the swing to a stop. ‘The Black Cat has been dead for…some time now.’
‘…you - you don’t say,’ the stranger dazedly replies, blinking water from his eyes in a way that Train can’t tell if it's merely from the rain. ‘Cats never do like answering to commands, even when they have a master,’ the stranger says with faux amusement.
Train hums. ‘And your name, mister?’
The stranger stares. ‘I…I’m really not sure anymore,’ he responds weakly, reticent but somehow sincere. ‘I don’t know if I’ve ever… Running from my own commands now, I figure; that's what I am.’ That isn't what Train asked and it's an odd thing to reply with.
It wouldn’t take a genius to conclude that this man belongs to the underworld; he's a fighter, his accent proves he isn't a local, isn’t scared of the prospect of bumping into a mass murderer and recognises Train’s tattoo; knows who Train’s past life is. That he's in such a mess but likened their situations could mean that the stranger wanted out -
Train’s mobile rings, piercing the stillness of the atmosphere. He fishes the vibrating device out of his pocket and answers it without looking away. ‘Sven?’ He asks instinctively as any of the few people who has his number, calling now, would be too coincidental. That, and their luck was awful.
‘Train!’ his partner shouts through the static and blearing background fuss, merging into a garbled mess of feedback. ‘Finally! Where the heck are you?!’
‘Sorry, sorry. I got…held up,’ Train answers somewhat sheepishly, even as his attention remains on the stranger next to him. ‘Need help?’
As if responding, there was a barrage of gunshots that echo eerily over the line but Train knows that if things are out of hand, Sven would have already demanded Train's presence the moment he picked up the phone. ‘Dammit Train! YES,’ Sven hisses through his teeth over a loud exclamation. ‘Drop whats' ever “held” you up - hell, bring it with you - just hurry it up. Conti got cornered by the police and some idiot reporter decided to broadcast the developments live. We’ve got a shoot out, with civilians. We’re trying to hold people back but they're out for blood, and I’m as trapped as they are by Eve’s shield.’
Train feels his mind sharpen; knows the dangers of people losing themselves to revenge. ‘Got it, I’m on my way.’
‘Good, if you don’t speed it up I’m cutting the food budget in half for the next month!’ Sven warns before hanging up unceremoniously.
Rude, Train decides as he raises from the swing. They always did that now; threaten Train with food, or rather - to withhold it. Heartless, the pair of them. He’s putting away his mobile when a freezing hand curls around Train’s wrist.
On instinct Train prepares to lash out. His body's hyper aware but the fight or flight instincts of the assassin he used to be, has also been soothed by Sven’s tactile need for reassurance and Eve’s passive-aggressive abuse of him. He suspends the chokehold his body wants to preform, and turns to see the stranger stood just two feet away, expression tight but not malicious.
‘The - the man on the phone,’ the stranger whispered urgently, as Train glances down to the hand holding his wrist only to get distracted by the very prominent ring glinting in a streetlight not far from them. ‘He said that Conti -’
Train has spent years as a house cat and he was good at what he did; the best. It would take more than a new life for him to forget that symbol - the symbol of the Vongola resting on this man’s hand. His mind travels back to Conti’s Wanted poster and suddenly recalls the mention of his being a mafiosi from overseas.
‘I’m not the only one trying to escape the bad of my past, huh?’ Train interrupts as he turns his wrist to further make visible the ring. The man - the don’s expression is sick, ill-looking even as he swallows. ‘If you’re running why haven’t you taken it off?’
The Sky Ring was infamous for those in the know and only one man wore it; only one man could. This stranger was no one else but the Tenth of Vongola, who had taken over from Nono not long after Train had been accepted into Chronos. The don bites his lip with a hangdog expression. ‘Why don’t you wear a higher collar?’ Decimo retaliates as he looks at the stark tattoo glaring out from Train’s milky skin, under his collarbone and always - always visible.
Train had never hides his tattoo because while it isn’t what he is anymore, he couldn’t turn his back on what he has done. It's his own way of taking responsibility and as a reminder - a reminder to never be that again.
‘…The ring must be heavy,’ Train says in ways of acknowledgement, since he seems to have a predilection towards bad people trying to find their way.
‘I’m the only who can carry it,’ Decimo concedes, before stepping closer. His eyes suddenly not so lifeless. ‘Conti - I knew Conti from when I was in Italy, I can help with this.’
Sven was going to kill him, Train foresaw as a grin overtook his face and he begins tugging the man out of the playground and towards the fight at a fast pace. The Decimo has no troubles keeping up, easily jumping over the fence. ‘What’s your name?’ He asks again because calling the guy “Decimo” just wouldn’t do.
‘…Tsuna,’ The man replies quietly, like he was rediscovering it from the tip of his tongue.
‘Tsuna,’ Train repeats loudly as jumps them from a dumpster onto a roof. He couldn't help but get a thrill when Tsuna follows him without a stumble.
‘You fight?’ Train asks though it was impossible he didn’t.
Train hums, thinking of his gun and Sven’s eye and out of the three of them how only the Princess really tried hand-to-hand, transformation dependant, of course. Good, this could work. Train feels Tsuna’s hand, his callouses, senses the Sky Ring digging into the side of Train’s palm and yeah, this could go really well.
Because once upon a time a girl went out of her way to heal a dying assassin, believing anyone could be good when given the opportunity. Train had come a long way since he was bleeding out in that alley, had been given a new lease on life and was now able to pay it forward.
...not to mention that Sven had said on the phone that Train could bring the "hold-up" with him.
‘Well then! Sven’s gonna be spitting fire, so you better keep up!’ He calls to just a few inches behind him where Tsuna was running.
And Tsuna does.