Everything would have been so much easier if Mukuro had never remembered kindness. If he could not recall what it felt like to have parents that seemed to love him and a warm bed to sleep in at night. Or remember his mother waking him up gently in the morning to take him to day care and both of his parents joining him every night for dinner. But he could remember those things and that made everything that was going to happen to him so much worse. Nothing, absolutely nothing, hurts like having something and then having it taken away.
You see you can’t miss what you have never had, and you can’t yearn for things that you don’t know exist.
Mukuro recalls going to sleep in his room, his father ruffling his hair before the older man left the room,and then waking up in a cold, dark, damp cell. Not knowing what else to do as he was only five, the young boy had cried and screamed until his lungs felt like they were going to explode. He threw his entire weight against the cell door again and again and again until his body ached to much to continue the abuse, so he had slumped to the floor and feebly slammed his hands against the echoing metal.
When the door finally opened what seemed like a small eternity later it wasn’t to his salvation as he had desperately hoped, but instead to his doom. Any hope that had existed that he would see his parents again died not long after that moment. Starting that day the only time light shone upon his face were the days he was being proked and proded by the so called ‘scientists’ that surrounded him or the terrible moments when he was being literally forced to experience hell on earth.
The first time he woke up with gauze over his eye after what they had done to the young boy the pain he felt was unfathomable. Later in life Mukuro would relate it to the kind of pain that war veterans talk of in their stories. It was not the sort of pain a child of any age should feel, their younger bodies and minds not equipped to deal with the sort of agony that would cripple even the most vigorous trained soldiers. There was no room for hate, or even sadness or regret; only pain. He spent most of the healing process curled up in a ball largely ignoring the world beyond his own suffering.
The second time he woke up in the same manner just a few short months later the pain took a back seat to the sadness though just barely. He was alone, tired, hungry, and felt nothing emotionally but pity for himself. How could anyone blame him though for despairing his new lot in life?
Thoughts raced through his head day and night, spiralling around until there was no joy to be found. What did he ever do to deserve this? Why had his parents left him here, at this epitome of terror? How was this fair?! None of this should be happening to him! This wasn’t his fault why was he being the one punished?!
The third time he woke up with his body screaming at him for simply continuing to exist instead of just surrendering to death Mukuro was just jealous. He knew that there were children out there living the kind of life that he used to have. A life of smiles, and sunshine, and joy. He knew that every day they were held by their parents and had their bellies filled with warm food that was different every single day. But not him. No he would never get to have that again, would he?
All Mukuro had was the darkness, the coldness, and the solitude of his cell.
And every time after that that he was treated as no more than a lab rat? As if he wasn’t a human being with thoughts, and emotions? Well all he felt then was rage stemming from what felt like the very bottom of his soul. This was NOT his fault. This was NOT his problem!
They were the problem!
All of them!
How dare they do this to him!
He was better than this! He was superior!
After all they had MADE HIM that way.
They MADE HIM the best in the entire world!
If was only fair that he show them just how good of an experiment he truly was! He was going to show them perfection.
And he did. At ten years old Mukuro scored his first 100% on anything he had done since he entered the Estaneo base when he killed al 100% of their scientists.
For the rest of his life he would never forget the sound of their screams as they begged and pleaded for him to spare their lives. But why would Mukuro even consider doing so when they had never helped him in all the years he was there? Where was their mercy? Mukuro had none to give to people like that.
Some of the other children still trapped there however? They were as helpless as he had been before he had seized his rage and used it as a weapon. Was it any wonder that he saved two of them, if for no other reason then if he wanted to see if they could do as he did? If the two other boys could control their rage as he was able to and use it to cut down all those that would hurt them?
And if they could and the three of them became an unstoppable killing trio?
It would be the rest of the worlds problem when he didn’t end all the bloodshed there.
It wasn’t his fault.
It wasn’t his problem.
Mukuro wanted nothing to do with the Mafia after the life (if you could call it that) that he had spent his last five years supposedly living. So when a Mafia family offered to take him, Ken and Chikusa off the streets he wanted to say no so much that it almost physically hurt. He had intended to say no, and then Ken’s stomach had started to rumble for what was most likely the twentieth time that day, so he took a moment and reconsidered.
It had been six months since they had left the Estraneo base while it burned down in flames of his making, and nothing had been going the way that he wanted. Mukuro had thought that he would be able to survive better, provide better, than he was able to. Oh sure some things were easy, like using his illusions to steal from unsuspecting tourists and fake his identity well enough to rent a shady hotel room for the night. But everytime he did so it came with consequences. For example: the men and women in the Mafia who were around, and there seemed to always be at least one, who flame active could sense what he had done. And once they felt it they never once ignored it, instead they always set out to track down the Mist.
In all of his training at the Estraneo base it was never about holding back, it was always about doing more. Giving more. Being more. More. More. MORE. Until he got to this point he now found himself, where even simple illusions became complicated just from the pure amount of flames and effort he put into them. So staying low while protecting Ken and Chikusa was complicated at best.
Okay calling it complicated, well that’s just a gross under exaggeration. At this point there hadn’t been a single period of more than two days when they weren’t being chased or harassed by someone from the Mafia. This was highly unenjoyable and irritating, which is the only reason he was considering this man's proposal. It had nothing to do with the two boys behind him who would soon no doubt slowly start to starve, but the inconvenience of it all.
“What's the name of your Family again?” Mukuro asked, not taking his eyes off of the man in front of him. He would show no hesitation, not here or ever again.
He was better than that.
The man’s eyes seemed kind as he answered but Mukuro knew more than anyone that kind eyes could be deceiving. That someone could protect you one day and leave you to the wolves the very next without ever looking back.
At this point though Mukuro was willing to take that chance of betrayal. If worst came to worse, he could just kill anyone who stood in his way.
“Hey! What do you have there?” Lancia called down the hall at the retreating back of a 12 year old Mukuro who carried something in his hands that glinted in the sunlight.
“Nothing! Mind your own business!” Mukuro shouted down the hall as he started to sprint away from the older man.
Lancia knew better than to let the younger boy escape what was most likely the scene of the crime for one of his pranks and he gave chase on instinct. If the Boss was the one who had ended up in the crossfire of whatever prank Mukuro had just played no one would ever hear the end of it. Little did Lancia know he was actually running towards the latest and greatest piece of Mukuro’s Mayhem™, not away from it.
“Come back here brat!”
Three left turns, two clever illusions and one very satisfied Mist later Lancia found he was more pink than skin toned and had more glitter on his person then should be legal. Looking at Mukuro however he couldn't find it in himself to be mad as the blue haired boy was rolling around on the floor laughing so hard he was literally crying. It had taken over a year for him to get to the point where he could act like this around them, around his Family, and as much as Lancia was mad he was ten times more proud of the boy in front of him overcoming what he had.
“Alright kid, time to end the illusion now. I have a mission tomorrow and I can’t go looking like this, it’s a damn eyesore.” The older man said with a smile on his face, not managing to be stern in the slightest. In fact he sounded more like an exasperated but proud older sibling.
This only prompted Mukuro to laugh harder. “The - The pink I can get rid of. But the glitter - the glitter is real. It’s so real!” He gasped out between laughs. And sure enough the pink faded into nothing but the silver glitter stayed on just about every part of Lancia’s person.
“Son of a-. If this doesn’t come out of my hair you are so getting it!” Lancia exclaimed as he hurried away to shower for the first time, and most likely not the last, to get all of the glitter off before he had to leave.
As he left Mukuro’s vision the smile slid off the boys face as if it had never been there to begin with. His illusions must have been getting better, something he took a lot of pride in, if even Lancia hadn’t been able to tell the real from the fake at all despite the fact he was flame active. Soon Mukuro will have no more use for the Family that took Chikusa, Ken and himself in.
In the time he had been here he had learned one thing; moving on was not enough. He wanted more.
He NEEDED more.
HE DESERVED MORE.
And what did he deserve?
Vengeance. And Revenge. And other’s to Bleed Bleed Bleed like he had. For them to know his pain and for them to learn to bask in it as he had!
He had learned he could never be content with the calm.
He needed chaos.
But he couldn’t create that here, and he knew that in the Mafia you don’t just get to leave when you want to. He owed this family debts in housing, and food, and education. Debts he had no intention of paying in the least.
So they would all have to die.
It was a shame Lancia would never be quite as cold hearted as Mukuro though, or else the boy would never have imagined using mind control on him. For accepting Mukuro at his worst he would have let the older man join them and be his lakey.
But Lancia would never agree to his methods, and Mukuro couldn’t bring himself to actually kill the man. That left only one option that didn’t end up with Lancia dead.
The Mansion burned to the ground and Mukuro remembered another building covered in flames. Somehow though he almost felt sad watching this one turn to ash.
Seeing Lancia standing by his side, his mind under Mukuro’s control notwithstanding, some of that almost sadness cleared. At least the only good thing in that house wasn’t going up in flames with it.
“Let us out. Let us out. Let. Us. Out. LET US OUT LET US OUT LET US OUT!!” Ken screamed as he fought against the chains pinning him, pinning all of them to the wall.
They had been caught.
It seemed impossible. How could he be caught now of all times? Mukuro knew that he was better than this, that all of them were better than the petty Family that had been the one to best them and lock them up pending transference to the police and then trial.
“Ken. Be quiet. Your yelling has not helped the past five minutes and it will not help in the sixth.” Chikusa commented from across the cell. To anyone else he would have seemed calm, cool and collected, but Mukuro could hear the worry and fear creeping into his voice.
“Like he says! If you burst MY eardrums we’re going to have a problem!” Their newest addition, and only female, M.M. commented.
“You have no room to talk Byon! You’re only here because you like his money! They’ll let you off easy too cause you’re a girl!” Ken threw back, rage starting to filter into his voice at the seeming hopelessness of the situation.
M.M. however wasn’t going to take him using that tone of voice with her at any point in this lifetime. “What?! You think girls can’t be just as powerful as men! Just try and fight me, I’ll kick your ass!”
“That’s not what I eve-!”
“That is enough, from both of you.” Mukuro interjected, his voice leaving no room for either of them to disobey even if they had wanted to. “I need to think to get us all out of here. Any more disruptions and the person who bothers me will be left behind.”
A hush fell over the group and no one spoke.
Neither of them knew that it wasn’t true. Mukuro was more attached to Ken and Chikusa then he would ever admit, even to himself. Each time he thought of them as they were (friends, comrades, brothers) he blocked it out and shoved it down. And he told himself again and again and again that they were nothing more than convenient loyal tools completely at his disposal. Only an idiot would throw away someone willing to die for them, and Mukuro was no idiot.
M.M. despite being new was also an asset. The group he lead could lose her and it wouldn’t be a huge loss, but it was better that she was their weapon and not someone else’s. For that reason alone she was worth a modicum of effort.
Not even thirty minutes later a guard came check on them, and Mukuro started turning the first cog in their escape plan.
Mukuro knew that when he went to Japan he was going to have at least a semi-difficult time. He had no doubt that Ranking Fuuta would have run to the person, or people, most equipt to protect him. This didn’t deter him in the slightest however as Mukuro had full faith in his own abilities.
He would not be caught ever again.
Soon he would also have the answer to all his questions. Never again would he underestimate anyone when he had Ranking Fuuta telling him the weaknesses and strengths of his enemies. In a short time Mukuro would be stronger than any member of the Mafia.
And then the whole world would burn.
Where had they been?!?! Where were they when he was being tortured? When he cried himself to sleep? When he threw up from the pain? When he screamed for salvation? When he begged for death to take him?
WHERE WERE THEY WHEN HE DEMANDED JUSTICE AND NONE WOULD COME SO HE HAD TO ENACT IT HIMSELF?!
Yet they had the nerve, the gall, to show up now? For this shit show? Is this what he had done wrong, not gone after someone high enough on the food chain? Is this all that fucking Vongola’s fault? That piece of shit Tsuna Sawada?!
WHY WAS THAT SCRAWNY NO GOOD SKIES LIFE WORTH MORE THAN HIS?!
Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?
Why did it take THIS for him to be on their radar?!?!?!?!?!
THE VINDICE WOULD REGRET EVER WRAPPING HIM IN THEIR CHAINS.
They had tried to run.
Tried to Escape.
They had failed.
He had FAILED.
But he had not failed them.
At least Ken and Chikusa were safe. At least his tools would not be broken. At least the people he had fought with would not be put back in a place worse than where they had been raised to be the monsters they all were.
If he hadn’t known it before he was sure of it now. The world viewed him, and those who he considered his, to be monsters. He knew this because the place they had shoved him was not a place were mere men could survive for a week, and yet they all had.
But monsters or not Ken and Chikusa were not in cages. And he knew that as long as they were out there they would never stop trying to get him out, and one day they would succeed.
“You have the directions I gave you memorized don’t you Chrome?” Mukuro asked as he leaned his back against a tree in the illusionary world he had created.
“Yes.” The shy young girl replied as she slowly and meticulously wove together a flower bracelet. In this world of illusions, this world Mukuro had shown her, the flower stems would never break unless she willed them to.
The flowers would never die.
She would never die.
Well not unless Mukuro willed it or until she got strong enough to make her own organs, but she knew he wouldn't kill her. She was useful to him. For the first time in her life she was useful, and Chrome despite her insecurities basked in it, here where no one else but them could see.
Looking up at Mukuro Chrome questioned, “What do you think they will do when I meet up with them where you told them to be?”
Mukuro responded first with a light chuckle, one that made Chrome feel like she could take on a hundred enemies and win, before he said, “At first they will doubt you, and most likely try and attack you, which is why I will need to reserve my strength. I will need to possess you fully in order for them to stand down while also making sure not to strain your body, a very fine balance. Otherwise I would simply stay in your mind the whole way there and not just come when you call for me informing me that you’re there.”
“Thank you for considering my well-being.” Chrome replied not knowing how to voice her appreciation for all that he had done for her already, and all that he would do for her in the future.
Looking her directly in the eyes Mukuro replied, “Of course, my dear Chrome.”
And in that moment their inner monologues matched each other perfectly.
There was nothing worse than being stuck in this tank in Mukuro’s honest opinion. Well, there were two exceptions to that thought; being back in the Estraneo base and being dead. Besides those two exceptions however Mukuro would rather be anywhere else on the entire planet. That includes the north pole without a jacket and the sahara desert at noon while wearing a full blown parka.
He knew that every day spent in the lowest confines of the Vindice’s prison his body became weaker and weaker. His muscles decayed more and more until eventually he would become unable to stand or even eat on his own. Just the thought of becoming so weak and helpless spurned his ever growing rage at the world and the Mafia’s injustice. And to think that at one time he couldn’t imagine hating the Mafia more, and yet here he was proving himself wrong. When he got out of his cell they would all be lucky to survive for a year before he had the whole Italian underworld burning up alive in his flames.
But where his body became weaker his illusions, his flames, grew exponentially every hour of the day. Without a body to use he had no choice but to retreat into his own illusions unless he wanted to sleep every moment of the day to stave off boredom and that would just be such a waste of his time. And it was thanks to this that he met his Chrome in the first place and had the chance to use her to leave his current imprisonment.
To be honest he had never meant to get attached to the younger girl but after taking over her body in the ring battle, and other times besides, it was hard not to feel a connection. As much as Ken and Chikusa were his…. Somethings, so too was Chrome after only a few short months. It may have also helped that when the girl slept she often ended up in the illusion that Mukuro kept up every moment he could to keep himself at least somewhat sane.
There he was able to teach her some of what he knew, if only so that she could protect herself should the worst ever happen and he was unable to step in and protect her himself. It wasn’t like he was concerned (he was) he just didn’t need his vessel being ruined, or at least that’s what Mukuro tried to convince himself. Thankfully he was very good at lying about his attachments to others at this point and he only slipped up showing actual concern to her face once or twice.
When they weren’t training Chrome would fill him in on what Mukuro missed when he did actually succumb to exhaustion. There often wasn’t much that he truly cared about. Most of it was just Chrome going to the market to get what she could for food that day or what Ken and Chikusa had done to amuse themselves. Mukuro didn’t need to know the specifics about his subordinates days, as long as they weren’t dead or injured he was content.
What did spark his interest however was when she talked about Tsuna and the other members of the Vongola. Logically Mukuro knew he was one of the Vongola Decimo Guardians, but to be honest he didn’t consider himself one of them in the least bit, which would surprise absolutely no one who had ever met him. The position was his in name only, and he even rejected that. He hated the Mafia, he hated the Vongola, and he at least in part hated Tsuna Sawada. After all it was his existence that landed Mukuro in Vindicare’s possession in the first place.
Yet at the same time the other boy intrigued him in a way that few ever had. It seemed impossible for someone to be so weak and naive and yet still possess flames of that quality, and Sky flames at that. The Sky accepted all, or so they said, and how could you accept someone or something you could never hope to understand. Not only accept them, but accept all of what they were on a fundamental level. It seemed impossible.
Yet in the few moments while they were fighting and Tsuna had been in what he was informed was called ‘Dying Will Mode’ as well as when Mukuro had spent those minutes using Chrome as a vessel during the ring battles Mukuro had felt the tell tale signs of the beginnings of harmonization. Of course Tsuna seemed to be unaware and Mukuro had stamped out the embers each time he felt them yet the fact was that they were there.
Mukuro had no need for, nor did he want a Sky.
All he wanted was freedom and just to watch the Mafia burn.
Both of which he was sure he would achieve.
Chrome was unreachable. She was there and then suddenly she wasn’t. It was like she vanished out of existence, quicker than even if she had died. The immediate jarring separation from Mukuro was unnatural and he had no idea what it meant.
It went on for what Mukuro could only assume was days in which he sat and stewed and became more and more and more paranoid. And he was even willing to admit that he was becoming paranoid which was a really big step for him. Too bad it took the young woman he was slowly but surely adopting into his band of misfits to seemingly drop off the face of the earth for it to happen.
And then like the crack of a whip Chromes existence returned and the only thing he was able to get out of her was that she didn’t want to talk about it, and though he longed to he didn’t push her, just a little too glad that she was back.
Mukuro liked fighting Hibari. It was fun to rile the boy up and fight him with no restraints because he knew that Hibari would only come back stronger and more of a challenge the next time around. Apparently Tsuna however didn't get as much enjoyment out of it as Mukuro and Hibari did since he made it his mission to stop their fight.
In the end, when Mukuro confirmed in his own mind that Chrome was involved in the Vongola deeper than he would have ever wished for her, Mukuro did something that was new to him and asked another person to protect someone close to him. The only time he had done anything similar is when he asked Ken and Chikusa to protect Chrome, but this was different. This time it wasn’t because he needed her safe, it was because he wanted her safe.
And for some reason he trusted Tsuna to do that.
Wimpy baby sky Tsuna, who for some reason kept trying to harmonize with Mukuro without even realizing that he was doing it.
He wished he knew when he began thinking that Tsuna was someone that could protect others in his place, but somewhere the thought had planted itself in his brain and grown. And it grew and grew and grew until he reached the point where he could trust him with the person who whis link to the world outside of his prison cell.
Tsuna’s promise to keep Chrome safe calmed him so much in fact that when he asked Chrome how involved she had become exactly and she didn’t give a satisfactory answer he let it be. He knew she would be in good hands when his training wasn’t enough and he himself could not be there.
And then Chrome and the Vongola were gone in the blink of an eye once more.
Why did the Vongola bring trouble with them whenever and wherever they went? If it hadn’t been for Mukuro’s interference Tsuna would have hit Chrome with one of his attacks while battling Daemon Spade. Tsuna would have hit others as well, but Mukuro was only really concerned with Chrome.
At first Mukuro had been content to sit and watch, but even he had limits when it came to those he cared about, and they were a lot different than what he had thought. Once he was sure he would have let Chrome get much closer to death than she had, but it seems like the days when that would have happened were long gone. Where they went he would never know, but he knew that they weren’t coming back.
A part of him wanted to rip down Daemon Spade where he stood while he asked if Mukuro would be his opponent for the Inheritance battle, but another part of him absolutely refused to get involved on such a large scale.
Was he stronger than Chrome? Yes.
Did he want to be a Guardian? No.
He was not Vongola.
He did not WANT to be Vongola.
This was not his fight. Tsuna could deal with the overzealous shade of the first Mist Guardian and Mukuro could get a good show out of it. Mukuro was here for support ONLY. If Mukuro realized how much faith he was unknowingly putting in Tsuna he probably would have stepped in to stop even the thought that he would or could depend on another human being.
In the end, after all of the drama, Mukuro turned down the position Daemon Spade claimed he deserved. Chrome belonged with the Vongola far more than he did, and that was why once more he entrusted at least a part of her care to Tsuna. And if a part of him hated himself for turning the offer to be a part of Vongola down he tried his best to make it burn in hell.
He was not made to be a part of this Sky.
He did not deserve it, nor had he earned it.
The next time he saw Chrome or any of the other Vongola he had received his memories of the future, and what he saw was not pleasant.
Ten years in this prison!
It was not something it was willing to accept. Not in the least bit.
But that wasn’t the only thing that startled or upset him, in fact there was a lot that did. He couldn’t even begin to start listing out all of the things that he saw that he would pay dearly to never see happen.
And in that moment he did what he had never done before, he started to question his life choice’s and his motives. He looked at his actions and their consequences. He looked at the fate of the people he begrudgingly admitted that he cared about.
He didn’t like what he saw.
Ever since the Inheritance Ceremony Mukuro had been able to feel the echoes of Daemon Spade. He couldn’t pinpoint the man unfortunately but he knew that the bastard wasn’t truly dead. If he was dead a presence of that magnitude shouldn't have existed still and yet it did, so that meant he was alive. And Mukuro didn’t entertain for a second the idea that a shade that stuck around for that long didn’t have some kind of plan. Mukuro just didn’t correctly guess what that plan was, and that was his mistake.
Mukuro swore that Chrome would never go beyond his reach again after the whole fiasco was over. It wasn’t good for his reputation and it wasn’t good for his anxiety. If he had a panic attack due to this girl at some point he wouldn’t be surprised in the least bit. She needed to get stronger and yet that wasn’t his first thought when he heard her for the first time in days.
Chrome was begging him not to come, but like hell he was going to listen to her. Mukuro may have miscalculated Daemon Spade before but he wouldn’t this time.
Did Mukuro know he was walking into a trap? Yes.
Did he care in the least? Not one bit.
He had a family to protect and damn it he was going to.
It really was a shame that Daemon Spade was everything that Mukuro hated because together they could have taken the world over easily with the power of their illusions. Too bad the man was a monologuing asshole who actually deserved a place in hell for all eternity, if not for what he had done before this moment then for what he was doing now on this island.
The battle was long and difficult, leaving Mukuro more than sure that he may come out of it irreparably harmed at more than one moment. Yet in the end he surprisingly wasn’t. Instead he got what he thought he would not achieve for years.
He got his freedom from the Vindice.
A part of him was telling him not to do this, but a larger part was telling him that if he didn’t he would regret it forever.
It was five days after he was freed and the world around him was quiet. He didn’t know what time it was, but it was late enough for Ken, Chikusa, and Chrome to all be fast asleep sprawled around the makeshift base that had become permanent in Kokuyo Land. He never thought that he would actually miss being surrounded by the decrepit walls but he had found himself longing for them while he was imprisoned.
This was just one of the many changes that he had undergone in his time in forced captivity. That he could admit, so far only to himself, that he had things that he cherished and tasks he wanted to accomplish outside of buring the entirety of the Mafia to the ground. Mukuro never thought he would find himself feeling that way, but you can only hide from your true inner thoughts for so long when it’s just you and your own mind, because your bodies in suspended animation in an underground prison. Once you start examining your thoughts, that leads to your feelings and in Mukuro’s case it was a downward spiral from there.
He also realized, though he was very unhappy to admit it, he owed, at least in part, his freedom to the very person he once blamed his capture on. The feeling of owing something to the young soon-to-be Mafia Boss left Mukuro out of sorts to say the absolute very least. And something needed to be done about it.
As it was it would have taken him forever to get to Tsuna’s home, so he did what he had only done with Chrome, and he entered the other boy’s dreams.
And it appeared Tsuna was dreaming about failing a math test. Well then, certainly not the most imaginative was he?
Chuckling his distinctive laugh Mukuro asked, “So this is what your nightmares are made of? I admit I expected more.”
“HIE!” The other boy cried out obviously spooked, his head whipping up from staring at the test with a big red zero on it to stare at Mukuro. How he hadn’t noticed Mukuro invading his mind when he always seemed to know he was present in the physical world baffled Mukuro. Really Tsuna was a never ending mass of contradictions. “Are you really in my dream right now?!”
“You would be surprised at how easy it is to do.” Mukuro lied right through his teeth, dream walking was no easy feat and it had taken him years to perfect it.
Still rattled at the sudden appearance of Mukuro, more out of fear of the unknown then fear of the other boy himself, Tsuna squeaked out, “Why?! Is something going on?! Please say there’s nothing going on! I don’t think I can take it right now!”
And they were already at the heart of the situation, just not what the younger boy probably though it was. Perhaps he really should observe him even further? What harm could it do?
“Stop yelling. I will only say this once so you had better listen well. Thank you. For what you have done for Chrome. Tell no one I was here or what I said or you’ll regret it.” And with that Mukuro left just in time to see the shock meld of Tsuna’s face to become something more, but what that something was he would never know.
Back in his own mind, in his own base, Mukuro allowed himself to add to only himself, “and thank you for giving me the chance to save myself.”
Chrome needed to become independent and Mukuro knew this, but it didn’t make what he was doing any easier. He already knew that he couldn’t bare to do it to her face, the face that showed way too much of what she was feeling at any given moment. So he did what any emotionally competent person who was still sorting themselves out would do and simply left her the Namimori uniform and a letter.
Then he left the country, taking Ken and Chikusa with him.
It would be better this way.
She had the Vongola.
She would get stronger and then once she could protect herself, and Mukuro didn’t feel like he was going to have an aneurysm over the thought of her going into battle, she could come back.
She could come home.
Mukuro never wished more that he had never received his memories from the future.
He did not want Fran.
He was stuck with Fran.
If he hadn’t seen what Fran had become he would have maimed him. As it was Mukuro would have to settle for mental scarring, if that was even possible with the impossible child.
He was going to do this.
Mukuro was going to fight against the Vongola, against Chrome and Tsuna, on the behalf of Verde. It was selfish and self serving but he needed to do this. He wanted to do this.
He was going to do this.
Mukuro just wished he didn’t hurt like he did when he told Tsuna that they were enemies once more. He wished he knew when he really stopped seeing the other boy as an opponent, and when he started caring about what Tsuna thought.
When Tsuna had become what he would dare call a friend?
More so than that he wanted to know why seeing Tsuna upset caused Mukuro himself to become uneasy, not that he would ever let anyone know.
Chrome was still not living up to her full potential and she needed to.
Mukuro wished there was another way but sometimes being harsh and honest was the only way to get results.
Chrome would be fine with the truth. She would learn to make her own organs and grow strong.
She had to.
Or she would die.
He could not stand watch her die.
The Vindice were back and if Mukuro had nightmares it would have been of seeing them again.
He leaves the battle injured, not just physically by his pride as well. He should be better than this by now. He shouldn’t be this weak. He knows that he can do better, that he is better than what just happened. He just needs to show that to everyone else now.
Fighting alongside Tsuna, even if it was against his wishes, should not have felt as good as it did to Mukuro. It was as if they had always stood just as they were, side by side, on the battlefield. It wasn’t normal for them to work so well together after Mukuro had hated him to his core once upon a time. Even if that hatred was now somehow long since buried the idea that the two of them could work together as quickly and efficiently as a well oiled machine baffled Mukuro.
It also shouldn’t have hurt so much when Tsuna claimed Mukuro had abandoned Chrome. Tsuna had no idea what he was doing, what he was risking, in hopes that she would survive. It still should not have felt like there was a shard of ice in his heart regardless.
This was Mukuro’s first indicator that something about his relationship with Tsuna was more important to him than any label he had slapped on it before would indicate. Mukuro genuinely, honestly, cared about how Tsuna saw him and his actions. He barely even cared how Ken and Chikusa reacted to what he did, and though that may be in part to their never wavering loyalty it was still a shock. Mukuro didn’t know what to do with this new information so he shoved it down, down, down and ignored it to the best of his ability. It was just unfortunate for him that his ability to shove things down and ignore them had gotten steadily worse.
It took Chrome unleashing her pure Mist flames in a startling large quantity to bring Mukuro truly back to the present despite the ongoing battle. He didn’t know if Mist flames could create not only fake organs but heal those already in place, but he felt a peace he had never known before.
Years later he would joke that this was the moment that Chrome began to heal his heart, by proving that he was more than a monster. By proving that he could help heal someone and give them the power to one day stand on their own.
At that moment though all he felt was pride.
Tsuna found him late at night when he was all alone.
Mukuro’s heart skipped a half a beat for no good reason when he saw Tsuna’s brown eyes filled with determination to do something.
But to do what?
“I have a plan Mukuro. To win this thing. And I’ll need your help.”
“Is that so? Well then let me hear it, Tsu~na.”
Somehow when the other boy left with the outline of a plan in place, Mukuro felt disappointed.
What was he expecting?
The battles were over. There was no more war to fight. No more impending doom to have to overcome. Life could for once be calm and peaceful.
Mukuro of course hadn’t done calm and peaceful very well as his track record would show, so he did what he did best and caused a bit of chaos every now and then. He could have done more, he is starkly aware of that, but even people like him deserve a semi calm year or so.
Maybe he deserved it especially so.
He still had regular fights with Hibari, both for fun and to keep training. Just because he was stronger than he had ever been didn’t mean he couldn’t improve anymore. There was no such thing as too strong after all.
He trained both Fran, and Chrome when she had the time, all over Namimori. The amount of trouble they had caused on one street of the shopping district alone would have been sufficient to terrorize an entire city. What they did over the whole city was enough to make people want to pull out their hair and cry. If Chrome wasn’t so kind hearted and kept her illusions toned down for the civilians Mukuro was sure not one person in Namimori wouldn’t be in a straight jacket.
He also took time to fuck with the Vongola on a regular basis. It wasn’t anything that would be considered treasonous or the start of a mutiny, but it certainly caused havoc. As far as he was concerned though he was just keeping them all on their toes. Tsuna and the rest couldn’t become too complacent, who knew when they would be asked to fill the shoes of the ninth generation after all.
It was during this time that Mukuro picked up a habit that was in his opinion was the worst he had yet.
He kept visiting Tsuna’s dreams.
“Can’t you have more entertaining dreams every once and a while? You would think that someone in your position would have different nightmares than walking into a meeting in your underwear.” Mukuro commented nonchalantly from where he stood leaning against the boardroom wall.
“Well you know by now exactly how often people have seen me like this already! I don’t need anyone else to see me in my boxers!” Tsuna replied trying desperately to get his mind to obey him and put clothes on his body. This time it only took about 16 seconds of solid effort and not a full minute like it had the first few times.
Mukuro however still didn’t see what the problem was, it wasn’t as though his body was something to be ashamed of. In fact the younger boy had become quite fit after all of the spartan training he had undergone. “So you should be desensitized by now, not embarrassed.”
Tsuna had a different option though apparently. “You get to comment on that when everyone sees you like this!”
“Is that a request?” Mukuro replies without thinking, let more than a hint of flirtation slip into his words. He didn’t even know why he did it, he just found himself doing it more and more recently. Maybe he just liked watching Tsuna’s reactions?
“No! You know it isn’t! Why do you torture me like this?!”
Tsuna’s entire face was red from the force of his blush. He even looked away from Mukuro as if he couldn’t stand to meet his eyes.
Yes it had to be because of his reactions! Not because Mukuro was no doubt harboring a crush the size of Japan. That would be just impossible.
“You simply make it to easy. Now let’s leave this boring ass dream and go somewhere more entertaining? Have I ever shown you what it’s like in Palermo? Such an interesting city.”
“You know you could just visit me at my house right? You don’t need to sneak into my dreams like this.” Tsuna said as he relaxed on his dream bed, which was somehow much more comfortable than his real one.
“Where is the fun in that though? Plus I would have to avoid your guard puppy.” Mukuro replied from spot on the floor where he was making a rubix cube fix itself.
“First of all you can call Gokudera by his name, and second of all we could play video games without you using your illusions to make it so you win every single time.” Tsuna replied shooting the other boy a look.
Pausing in his task Mukuro looked at the other boy and raised a single eyebrow in question. “Once again; where is the fun in that?”
“And we could also eat real food that makes us full.” He answered sitting up to better stare down his Mist, his face slightly conforming to something Mukuro had never seen on it before and could not identify.
“But you can eat so much more here, even things you can’t get imported to Japan. Do you have any other reasons, o’ great and all knowing Tsuna?” Mukuro prodded, using the voice that others had deemed degrading and had a 100% chance of pissing someone off. Hopefully enough for Tsuna to let slip what was on his mind.
“It would just be nice okay! To see you in person and know that you won’t just disappear if I blink and wake up. Is that too much to ask? To be able to see the person you like and not doubt that they’re actually real!” The younger boy rushed out a flush creeping up his face as he persisted on even as Mukuro’s mouth dropped in shock. Not that he would ever admit to that.
It went as silent as a grave.
Even Mukuro, who was learning how to handle emotions properly for the first time, knew why he had a lump in his throat when he replied, “No I don’t think it is.”
Mukuro didn’t know what to do for what felt like the first time in a long time. Nevertheless he rang the doorbell in front of him and immediately felt some sort of lump form in his throat just as it had the other night.
Apparently he didn’t get butterflies just the feeling of the impending lack of oxygen. Lucky him. That’s a habit there has to be a way to break.
A series of footsteps and one relatively small explosion followed before the door opened to reveal Tsuna grinning with all of his might. Before Mukuro could even get a word out Tsuna grabbed one of the hands hanging at his side and dragged him in the house.
“I can’t wait for you to taste the snacks mom made for us! They’re upstairs, but you don’t mind hanging in my room do you?” Tsuna asked the smile still in place making his face glow.
Looking at the boy before him Mukuro had actually never felt more at peace.
It felt like he was finally coming home.