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“Decimo, are you sure?” The head chef – Ilario – hovers anxiously by the stove, washcloth in hand as he and his coworkers all focus on their boss standing in the doorway of the main kitchen. “Cooking for this entire household is a lot of work for one person. Honestly, none of us would mind working over the holidays.”

 

Tsuna shakes his head, smiling warmly at his staff. “I know you wouldn’t mind; you guys keep trying to stick around every year until I kick you out, but Christmas is a time for family, your respective families, so go home.” He levels a stern look at them all. “I appreciate the offer, but seriously, go home; I don’t want to see any of you until after New Year’s.”

 

A jumble of voices follow as the chefs all murmur amongst themselves, and then, one by one, their faces light up with grateful enthusiasm as the prospect of spending the holidays with their families finally sinks in. Tsuna knows that previous bosses didn’t have time for more ‘lowly’ tasks like cooking and cleaning, but hell, Tsuna did both growing up despite the fact that Sawada Nana was more than happy handling it all, and his Guardians wasn't exactly brought up as mafia royalty either. None of them need people waiting on them hand and foot even though that’s pretty much the norm these days; they can all handle their own laundry for a week or two until the holidays are over.

 

Christmas dinner on the other hand...

 

“Please call if you require any assistance at all, Boss,” Ilario offers earnestly on his way out, something that is readily echoed by the other cooks. “We won’t mind coming in.”

 

Tsuna just waves them on their way, assuring them that he’d be fine. Really, he’s lucky to have some of the most loyal employees out there, willing to work for him even over the holidays, but sometimes, he thinks they’re just a bit too gung-ho.

 

Nevertheless, as soon as they’re gone, Tsuna rolls up his sleeves and gets down to business. Of his Guardians, only Lambo is in the country at the moment, and he’s out on some tour around Italy with Fuuta, I-Pin, Kyoko, Haru, and Fon, the former five celebrating their respective temporary freedom from school. Everyone else is scattered across the globe, completing the influx of missions that have recently piled up when some upstart Famiglia began making noise in major cities all around the world. The problem is just about resolved, with no casualties for Vongola, and Tsuna’s people will all be trickling back home the day after tomorrow, but it still means that all of them have had to work around the clock for the past several weeks, including Tsuna whose desk hasn't seen sunlight since mid-November.

 

The Varia has also been on assignment but they should be heading back to their mansion soon, and then they’ll be swinging by the main house around the same time as Tsuna’s Guardians’ return. Xanxus will be even grumpier than usual, and his team will probably be more short-tempered than ever, but Tsuna can’t wait to see them too. It’s been a while since his Family has all gathered together, and no matter what Reborn says or does, he can’t help worrying about them whenever he doesn’t lay eyes on them himself for over a month or two. In their line of work, Tsuna thinks that he’s more than fully entitled to lose sleep over his friends’ continued wellbeing.

 

Speaking of Reborn, his ex-tutor will also be returning home soon. The assassination of a long-time drug lord in the States that the FBI contracted the Vongola about should be taken care of without too much fuss.

 

The point is, all his friends will be home within days, and Tsuna has pulled five all-nighters in a row while chugging more coffee than is probably healthy to clear his workload so that he’ll be able to surprise everyone with a Christmas feast fit for a king. Even those who aren’t big on celebrations – Kyouya and Xanxus came to mind – can at least enjoy a good meal after so many long weeks of work, and it’s the very least Tsuna owes them for putting in so many hours alongside him lately.

 

So. Christmas dinner.

 

Tsuna is going to make it an amazing one.

 

 


 

 

Tsuna spends the next few days stocking up on pastries and pies and cakes and basically anything that won’t spoil even after being frozen for a few days, saving the turkeys for the day of. When Ryouhei’s hearty hello booms through the house, Tsuna all but sprints out of the kitchens to greet him, scanning the boxer carefully to make sure he isn’t injured, and then finding himself wrapped in a manly hug courtesy of his Sun Guardian.

 

“I am extremely tired!” Ryohei announces with a sheepish grin when they pull apart. “I already ate before I got back so is it alright if I get some extreme sleep before I turn in my report?”

 

“No rush,” Tsuna reassures, already ushering the boxer in the direction of the stairs. “Dinner’s already in your room, so eat and then get some rest; the reports don’t have to be finalized until after New Year’s so as long as you get it to my desk sometime between now and then, it’s fine.”

 

Ryouhei looks ecstatic. Tsuna can’t blame him. Nobody in this Family likes any form of paperwork in any capacity whatsoever.

 

Hayato and Takeshi arrive next, rosy-cheeked from the cold, and drooping with fatigue, though Tsuna still receives an upbeat “We’re home, Jyuudaime!” from the former, and a carefree grin from the latter.

 

“Food, and then bed,” Tsuna instructs, eyeing the rips in their clothing that – thankfully – doesn’t hint at a single drop of blood. “I’ll see you guys in the morning. Don’t bother with the reports until later.”

 

“Haha!” Takeshi salutes playfully even as he almost trips over thin air out of sheer exhaustion. “Yes, Mom!”

 

“Shut up, baseball freak,” Comes the knee-jerk response but it’s softened by both the yawn that Hayato is futilely trying to stifle and the lack of bite in his voice. Tsuna’s Storm and Rain Guardians still bicker and fight (in a mostly one-sided manner) but their relationship has come a long way since their early teenaged years, and the hostility has disappeared for the most part.

 

Kyouya stalks in next, grunts in Tsuna’s direction, and heads straight for his bedroom. Tsuna has already delivered a tray of piping hot green tea and hamburger steak there, a gesture that he knows that his Cloud Guardian will appreciate even if neither of them ever mentions it.

 

Mukuro and Chrome are last out of his Guardians, strolling in through the front door with Ken and Chikusa in tow, which is how Tsuna can tell that they’re worn to the bone from their assignment. Typically, both his Mist Guardians prefer flashing straight into the mansion in a haze of Mist flames; neither of them uses the door very much.

 

They’re drenched through as well, a condition that Tsuna suspected they would be in since he’s been monitoring Italy’s weather on his phone and it just started raining more than snowing, which is why he’s ready to meet them with an armful of heated towels in the foyer.

 

“Kufufu, how kind,” Mukuro drawls, handing a towel to Chrome first, and then carelessly tossing one each to Ken and Chikusa, before grabbing the last one for himself. “These warm welcomes of yours never fail to bring a tear to my eye.”

 

Tsuna rolls his eyes, earning a weary smirk from Mukuro as Chrome smothers a smile in her towel, Ken snorts from behind her, and Chikusa’s mouth twitches.

 

“Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard it all before,” Tsuna sighs, shepherding them towards the wing of bedrooms. Mukuro has the bad habit of spouting flowery compliments whenever Tsuna ‘mother-hens’ them upon their arrival home. Tsuna would like it to be known that he ‘mother-hens’ no one; he’s just being a good boss, which includes taking care of his subordinates, that’s all. “I’ve drawn up hot baths for all of you so go have a good soak, and then go to bed. I’ll see you when you wake up.”

 

Chrome gives him a kiss on the cheek, Ken scowls half-heartedly at him on reflex before following his girlfriend, and Chikusa offers a curt nod before taking off as well, leaving Mukuro to share a last word with Tsuna.

 

“Our collective reports,” Mukuro says, producing the files out of thin air and dropping them into Tsuna’s hands. “We had nothing better to do on the ride home, although – as always – I cannot promise Ken’s chicken scratch will be any more legible than his past reports.”

 

Tsuna huffs out a laugh even as Mukuro glides away after his little family without another word. Tsuna smiles a little at the stack in his hands. He likes it when his most damaged Guardian slips up and unconsciously says ‘home’ on occasion, mostly when he’s too distracted or too tired to maintain his masks in trusted company. It makes Tsuna feel like he’s doing something right by his friends, like he’s giving them a place to feel safe in – to belong – despite the danger they’re still surrounded with, and the fact that they’re striving towards the rather radical goal of dragging Vongola kicking and screaming out of the dregs of society.

 

Change it or destroy it – such is the fate of the Vongola Famiglia.

 

The Varia arrives four hours later, when Tsuna is in the middle of whipping up a Marie Rose sauce for Lussuria’s favourite shrimp cocktail. Something gets blown up, Squalo is shouting, and Belphegor’s unique laughter carries through the halls; by the time Tsuna gets out there, three vases are gone, Flan’s frog hat is littered with knives, Squalo is grinding his boot into Levi’s face, and Xanxus looks ready to blast approximately everybody off the face of the planet. Mammon is nowhere to be seen, probably retired to his room already, while Lussuria is ignoring everyone in favour of admiring the new Picasso hanging on the wall, a portrait that Hayato proudly brought home a few missions back as a thank-you from a museum curator after Vongola helped stop a massive robbery on the place.

 

“Welcome home!” Tsuna calls out, dodging three knives from Belphegor in the process. “You guys must be tired-”

 

“Are you implying we can’t do our jobs, trash?” Xanxus barks out irritably.

 

“Of course not,” Tsuna says calmly, more than used to Xanxus’ mood swings by now. “But even the best need downtime, right?” He motions towards the wing that’s long been set aside for the Varia. “Food’s in your rooms, and I restocked your alcohol cabinet, Xanxus.”

 

Xanxus snorts derisively, already moving away. “They better not be the cheap brands.”

 

Levi scurries after his boss once he manages to duck away from Squalo, Squalo brandishes his sword in Tsuna’s direction in some sort of demented greeting before storming off as well, Belphegor throws another knife at Tsuna before ambling away, Flan deadpanning something beside him, and Lussuria brings up the rear, ruffling Tsuna’s hair as he strolls by.

 

When Tsuna turns around, the Picasso painting is gone. He pinches the bridge of his nose. Well, at the very least, Lussuria will take good care of it. Hopefully, Hayato won’t flip out too much over having the painting stolen right off the wall.

 

Another two hours later, Tsuna’s intuition gives him a nudge, and a smile finds its way onto his face even as he darts out of the kitchens once more.

 

“Made it home in one piece then?” He enquires teasingly even as he jumps the last few steps to meet Reborn in the foyer. No longer a baby, and back to his fully grown adult self, Reborn makes an imposing figure even while shaking water droplets off the brim of his fedora. The rest of him – of course – is completely dry, most likely thanks to Leon currently perched on the hitman’s shoulder.

 

One dark eye pins Tsuna with a fondly amused look. “Obviously; how could anyone possibly expect anything less?”

 

Tsuna laughs outright at the pure note of arrogance in Reborn’s voice. He’d missed having the hitman around.

 

A hand lands on his head, and he blinks before peering up at Reborn in question.

 

“You look exhausted,” Reborn notes, a minute frown creasing his brow. “Still slaving over paperwork?”

 

“Nah, I’m finished that,” And it’s a relief to say it. “Not counting the reports you guys will be handing in anyway, but other than that, I’m done.” He doesn't want to say anything about the surprise feast though. “I’ve just had to work overtime to get it all done before the holidays really start, that’s all.” He gives Reborn a pointed look. “And I don’t want to hear about exhaustion from you, you hypocrite. The others are all already halfway to dreamland so you’re next; march.”

 

Reborn retracts his hand and rolls his eyes but allows Tsuna to steer him towards the stairs anyway. “You’ve gotten far too bossy in your old age, Dame-Tsuna.”

 

“If I’m old,” Tsuna retorts. “Then I supposed you’d be ancient- hiiee!”

 

He yelps as his former tutor drills his knuckles into Tsuna’s head, hard enough to make his eyes water. “Okay! Okay! You’re not ancient! I mean, you haven’t even hit your centennial yet, right- ow!”

 

“Mouthy to your betters too,” Reborn observes with an ominously evil smirk as Tsuna clutches at his head. “I might have to work on breaking such a bad habit the next time we spar.”

 

Tsuna’s torn between groaning at the imminent torture that a spar with Reborn would always promise, and smiling at their familiar banter. The Vongola mansion’s simply not the same without his friends around, and he’s gotten so used to Reborn’s presence over the years that – sometimes – it feels downright strange to turn around and not see the hitman somewhere nearby.

 

“I’ll see you in the morning,” Tsuna says when they reach Reborn’s bedroom. “Or I suppose whenever you wake up.” They’re a lazy bunch overall after carrying out consecutive missions.

 

“You’ll be sleeping too?” Reborn asks, a slightly more suspicious cast falling across his features. “I won’t have you collapsing from overworking yourself again.”

 

“That was once!” Tsuna squawks defensively, grumbling under his breath when Reborn’s adamant stare doesn't relent. “Yes, yes, of course I will.”

 

And he will, for a few hours before he’ll have to get up again to start on the multiple turkeys and cranberry sauce and garlic bread and pudding and... yeah. The list went on. Those will take time if he wants the entire feast ready by tomorrow evening. Lambo and the others will be back by the afternoon, and it’ll give the rest of his Family most of the day to recuperate.

 

“If I find out you didn’t...” Reborn trails off threateningly, halfway into his room, and Tsuna quirks another smile.

 

“You’ll shoot me, I know,” He acknowledges without the least bit of fear. “Goodnight, Reborn.” His smile widens a touch. “I’m glad you're home.”

 

Reborn scoffs and retreats, shutting the door behind him with a click, but Tsuna spots the answering smile tugging at the hitman’s lips anyway, shadowed but genuine.

 

Tsuna feels a part of him relax now that the majority of his Family has returned safely. The rest would be back tomorrow, and they’re under Fon’s watchful eye right now.

 

He spins on his heel and heads back to the kitchens. He can’t wait until tomorrow.

 

 


 

 

Of course, since when has anything to do with Vongola ever gone as planned? Especially with the entire core group gathered together, a group that consists of a variety of crazily different personalities that all seem to thrive on clashing against one another?

 

There’s a reason Tsuna has an entire separate budget set aside for property damage alone.

 

The morning starts off quietly, with everyone staying in their respective rooms, choosing to sleep the day away. Tsuna is in the kitchens once again, every oven holding a turkey, ingredients for sauces and gravy ready to be used, and even fresh vegetables delivered that very morning laid out in preparation for salads. The refrigerators are stocked full with all the dishes that Tsuna’s been churning out over the past few days, and there is absolutely nothing that can possibly go wrong.

 

That sort of thinking is probably exactly why everything does.

 

 


 

 

“VVOOII!! STOP LEAVING YOUR DAMN CLOTHES ON THE FLOOR!! THIS AIN’T JUST YOUR HOUSE!!”

 

“MY CLOTHES ARE WET AND UNCOMFORTABLE!! I DON’T WANNA WEAR THEM ALL THE WAY UP TO MY ROOM!!”

“YOU STUPID COW, YOU’RE ALREADY TEN!! YOU CAN’T GO AROUND IN YOUR BOXERS LIKE SOME LITTLE KID WHO HASN’T LEARNED TO DRESS HIMSELF YET!!”

 

“RYOUHEI DOES IT!!”

 

“THAT LAWN-HEAD IS ONE OF THE SHITTIEST ROLE MODELS ANYONE CAN CHOOSE!!”

 

“WHAT DID YOU SAY, OCTOPUS-HEAD?! THAT WAS EXTREMELY RUDE!! LAMBO, DON’T LISTEN TO HIM!! MEN ARE NEVER AFRAID TO-”

 

“-WALK AROUND IN THEIR BIRTHDAY SUITS? FOR GOD’S SAKES, YOU’RE SCARRING THE GIRLS!!”

 

“Hahaha, Chrome is turning a bit red!”

 

“Oya, oya, what is all this commotion?”

 

“ALL OF YOU PIPE DOWN! YOU’RE DISTURBING BOSS!”

 

“Herbivores, if you do not be silent, I will bite you all to death.”

 

“I HAVE NOTHING TO HIDE, TO THE EXTREME!!”

 

“Oh my! That’s a very fit body you have!”

 

“PUT ON SOME CLOTHES, DAMN IT!!”

 

BANG!! KA-BOOM!! CRASH!!

 

“WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT FOR?!”

 

“VVOOII!! CAN’T YOU DAMN BRATS SHUT UP FOR FIVE MINUTES!!”

 

BOOM!! CLANG!!

 

“IT’S NOT LIKE YOU VARIA ARE COMPLETELY BLAMELESS! IF YOU WEREN’T HERE, THERE’D BE LESS SHIT DESTROYED!”

 

“WHAT WAS THAT?! WE WERE WALKING THESE HALLS BEFORE HALF YOU SCUM WERE OUTTA DIAPERS!! IF ANYONE SHOULD CLEAR OUT, IT’S YOU TRASH!!”

 

“WHAT’S ALL THIS DAMN NOISE, BYON?! ALL I WANT IS SOME SLEEP; IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?!”

 

“WHY DON’T YOU SHUT UP, MUTT! YOU’RE JUST ADDING TO THE NOISE LEVEL!”

 

“WHY YOU-”

 

Herbivores. Quiet.”

 

SCREECH!! KA-BOOM!! FWOOM. CRASH!!

 

A mix of Dying Will flames and at least half a dozen bodies all kicking and clawing at each other slam into one wall. Said wall doesn't stand a chance. The entire surface cracks before folding under the combined weight, sending a hurricane of fire into the next room, and spilling a knot of people into the open space, crushing everything in their wildly careening path.

 

Everything including most of the chairs, and the entire dining table.

 

The entire dining table that – a mere five seconds ago – was in the process of being aesthetically arranged with food and candles and wine and punch and polished silver cutlery by one Sawada Tsunayoshi.

 

It takes several moments for the noise to die down. At first, nobody even notices anything amiss despite the lack of wall between the main dining room and the rest of the house. The destruction is pretty much a normal state of affairs. The people still standing around in the hall continue bickering and shouting and fighting while the ones who were hurtled through the aforementioned wall and consequently dumped on top of the dining table – subsequently splitting it into four pieces – continue rolling around and screaming and beating each other up.

 

A single bullet shuts everybody up.

 

It’s a bullet like any others, but wielded by the number one hitman in the world, the hitman who’s currently stepping over a few chunks of rubble to enter the dining room while simultaneously radiating killing intent, there’s a certain impact to it that slices through the cacophonic din with effortless ease.

 

Raven black eyes set in a terrifyingly expressionless face survey the room in a broad unblinking sweep, and in the silence, Hayato – one of the ones on the ground – can suddenly smell something delicious, as well as feel something wet seeping into the back of his shirt.

 

He untangles himself from Lambo and rolls to his feet, takes one look at the mess around him, and promptly freezes in horror.

 

Food is splattered all over the carpet and strewn amongst the remains of the table, and even though some of it has been charred or flattened or is still on fire, there’s no mistaking the fact that the ruined spread was beautiful. The smell alone would've won it awards, but Hayato can see for himself that the turkeys – a few partially disintegrated now – have been roasted to perfection, the stuffing is rich with seasoning, the bowls of cranberry sauce are a bright, vivid red in colour, the gravy – three different types of gravy because their Family can never agree on one – is thick but stirred well, the bread is crisply baked, the salads even look fresh, the bottles of wine are all at least thirty years old, and even the pastries and tiny cakes have been meticulously decorated to depict everything from reindeers and angels to snowflakes and Christmas lights.

 

And in the far corner, a bowl of eggnog in hand, is Jyuudaime, who is standing very, very still, face blank with shock, and staring at the ruined feast with wide disbelieving eyes.

 

Hayato involuntarily takes a step forward, and then he cringes when his heel sinks into- He checks. Ah. That would be the mashed potatoes.

 

“What is this?” Reborn demands, voice silky with lethality. One glance and Hayato knows that the question is aimed at them, not his former student, but Jyuudaime stirs and answers somewhat robotically anyway.

 

“Dinner,” The brunet says, sounding almost dazed. “It- I was- It was a surprise dinner.”

 

Tsuna raises his head then, and for a brief second that seems to last an eternity, bewildered hurt and crushing disappointment both make an appearance on his face, and it feels like a punch to the gut to Hayato. Judging by the fact that half the room squirms, and the other half can’t help looking away for at least a few seconds, he isn’t the only one affected by the despondent distress marring their boss’ features.

 

And then, like a switch, the hurt is gone, replaced by a smile that’s so determinedly cheerful it can only be fake, and Tsuna starts rambling.

 

“Ah, what a mess!” The brunet’s smile widens almost painfully, and his arms unconsciously hug the eggnog closer to his chest as if he’s protecting it. Or it’s protecting him. “Sorry, I guess I should've told you guys about this first so you’d know to stay away from the main dining room, but, uh, it was supposed to be a double surprise, like, you know, Merry Christmas and Welcome Home! But I suppose that didn’t turn out so well, huh? I mean, I know you guys can get a bit rowdy, especially after you get back from really tough assignments, so...”

 

He trails off, smile finally faltering a little. There’s no blame in his voice or posture, and that just makes it worse.

 

Jyuudaime, Hayato realizes with another wave of guilt and shame. Looks tired. There are bags under his eyes, he’s even leaning a little against the cabinet by the wall, and no wonder – making all this food must have taken ages, not to mention all the reports and paperwork and intel gathering and a few missions of his own within Italy before that. Of all of them, it’s their boss who has the heaviest workload, and yet, Tsuna still made time to cook them Christmas dinner.

 

A Christmas dinner that they've just single-handedly obliterated.

 

Hayato kind of wants to drown himself. He certainly wants to say something – anything – that can make this all better. He’ll even eat off the floor if that’ll make Jyuudaime happy again.

 

“Tsuna,” Reborn is the one who breaks the deafening silence once more. “Didn’t I tell you to go get some sleep?” His voice is dangerously pleasant.

 

“I did!” Tsuna immediately rallies defensively.

 

“Did you?” Reborn arches a politely skeptical eyebrow. “For how long? An hour? Two? And when was the last time you slept before that? Finishing all your paperwork early couldn't have left you much time for anything else.”

 

Tsuna never could lie to Reborn, no matter how good he’s gotten at lying to the rest of the world whenever he needs to.

 

Of course, the revelation that Tsuna chose making dinner for them over his own health only serves to make everyone else feel utterly despicable, which – Hayato suspects – is Reborn’s goal to begin with.

 

Reborn sighs. Something in his face softens as he approaches his former student. Hayato is willing to bet a not insignificant amount of money that the hitman has only ever directed that look at Jyuudaime.

 

“You’re going to bed,” Reborn says firmly, plucking the bowl of eggnog from Tsuna’s hands. “Right now.”

“What? But I have to clean-”

 

“You have to do nothing of the sort,” Reborn cuts him off, and there’s a hint of a snarl in his words as his head tilts to the side, and his gaze slants back to take the rest of the Family in. “I’m sure the children will be delighted to clean up their mess.”

 

It’s a testament to how badly absolutely everyone feels they've fucked up that even Xanxus only grits his teeth against the blatant mocking insult from Reborn but doesn't actually snap anything back or shoot someone. Hibari crosses his arms and looks off to the side, Squalo’s sword hasn't been raised since Reborn entered the scene, Lambo hasn't made so much as a peep, Ryouhei has shut up for once, and even Mukuro is frowning faintly at the partly squished chocolate starter bread on the floor.

 

The pineapple bastard loves chocolate more than anybody else here.

 

“But-!”

 

“No buts,” Reborn plants a hand against Tsuna’s back and shoves him in the direction of the door. “Move it, Dame-Tsuna. This isn’t up for debate.”

 

With a combination of pushing and Reborn-style cajoling, the hitman manages to coax Tsuna out of the dining room. Tsuna doesn't really look at them as he passes, not making it obvious but avoiding their gazes nonetheless as he disappears into the hall.

 

The moment the brunet has stumbled a few steps ahead, Reborn sticks his head back in through the actual door of the room that has miraculously remained intact, and hisses darkly, “This place better look ready to accept the Queen of England by the time Tsuna sees it again or I’ll have all of you deported to Antarctica until July.”

 

The man never even raises his voice but the venom underscoring it is unmistakeable, and it reminds everyone exactly why Reborn can be so very frightening.

 

And then he vanishes through the door once more, catching up to Tsuna and continuing to pull him along if the feeble complaints are anything to go by.

 

Nobody moves for a long minute even after Reborn and Tsuna’s voices fade away into the distance.

 

Surprisingly enough, or maybe not so surprisingly, it’s the girls who move first, all of them rolling up their sleeves as they pick their way through the wreckage.

 

“Hahi! You should be ashamed of yourselves,” Haru mutters with uncharacteristic bite as she stoops to gather the handful of unbroken plates with I-Pin.

 

“We’re going to clean this all up,” Kyoko practically orders, something severe glinting in her eyes. “And then we’re going to cook a feast for Tsu-kun instead.”

 

Chrome actually shoots a reproachful look over at her Mist counterpart, along with her boyfriend and Chikusa, all three of whom twitch guiltily, the latter two more pronounced than the former. Ken all but leaps into action, making use of his Kong Channel to begin moving aside the broken parts of the table even as Chikusa lopes off in the general direction of the kitchens, most likely in search of cleaning implements. Mukuro’s mouth is a thin slash across his face, and he glowers for a bit, looking far from his perpetual state of amusement, but then – without a word – he rolls up his sleeves as well and gets to work, ignoring all startled eyes focused on him.

 

Apparently not to be outdone, Hibari disappears only to reappear shortly after with two buckets of water, a handful of washcloths, and Mr. Clean tucked under one arm. It would make for a comical sight if the situation isn’t so depressing.

 

Like a dam breaking, everybody else surges forward too, or storms forward, whichever. Hayato virtually throws himself into the menial labour, Takeshi and (a redressed) Ryouhei right beside him. Lambo runs off to throw on some clothes over his boxers before returning with watery eyes and a resolutely pinched expression as he begins mopping up food.

 

Even Xanxus deigns to scour the room for shattered wine bottles, expression darkening more than once whenever his gaze catches the label of a particularly high-quality vintage, but he says nothing, and he doesn't even throw any of it at Squalo’s head.

 

Conversation picks up as people jostle each other for elbowroom, but it’s subdued, and nobody dares get into outright fights.

 

As he sweeps broken glass into a dustpan, Hayato swears he’ll see to it that a feast fit for the gods will be prepared in time for Tsuna when he wakes up.

 

 


 

 

Tsuna wakes to the mansion shaking around him. He’s out of bed and on his feet, alert for any threat, before his bedroom door flies open and Reborn stalks in, a long-suffering sneer on his face.

 

Tsuna knows that sneer, and he relaxes with a doleful sigh. “What’ve they destroyed this time?”

 

Unlike- yesterday? – when he was too tired to get angry, he can feel annoyance already pooling in his gut.

 

Reborn snorts as he sinks into an armchair. “Three ovens and a sink, but – as loathe as I am to admit it – it’s for a good cause. They’re trying to make up for the catastrophe two days ago but Kyoko and Haru can’t be everywhere at once, and most of this Family literally cannot cook to save their lives.”

 

Tsuna flops back onto the bed with a groan but he feels a reluctant smile tug at his lips. Reborn spots it without difficulty and rolls his eyes.

 

“You forgive too easily,” He admonishes crossly. “You should at least hang this over their heads for a few days. They ruined all your hard work. Which reminds me-”

 

Tsuna hastily ducks just in time to dodge the paperweight Reborn hurled at him.

 

“If you ever work to the point of near collapse again,” Reborn growls. “Especially when there’s not even an emergency, I’ll make the training I put you through in your teens look like a walk in the park.”

 

Tsuna makes a face before quirking a cheeky smile. “But I thought you didn’t have anything left to teach me.”

 

Something too quick for even Tsuna to pick up flashes through Reborn’s eyes, and it sends a shiver down Tsuna’s spine.

 

“Dame-Tsuna,” Reborn’s tone is downright condescending even as one of his hands reach up to tilt his fedora down to shade his eyes. “You’re ten years too early to even start thinking that I have nothing left to teach you. Possibly twenty years before you even get close to surpassing me. In fact, you’d best wait until I’m dead before you try to become the best anything in the world.”

 

This time, it’s Tsuna who rolls his eyes. Arrogant bastard. “I hope you don’t die for a very very long time,” He says, and its honest and one of the few things that will make Reborn glance up with an almost taken aback look on his face. “I still need you around; I will, even twenty years later.”

 

Reborn stares at him for a lengthy indecipherable moment. “...Well, I can’t argue with that,” The hitman finally replies with deliberate nonchalance. “Who would keep you from overworking yourself or reverting to full Dame-ness or letting your Family walk all over you if I was gone?”

 

Before Tsuna can respond to that, the former Sun Arcobaleno unfolds himself from the chair and rises to his feet again. “Now, if you're not going back to sleep, you may as well get up. If you don’t get out there and do damage control soon, there won’t be a house left standing by the end of the day.”

 

Tsuna splutters with laughter, but only a little because as much as it’s a joke, it’s also a very real possibility that he never ever wants to see come to pass. The resulting paperwork and repair bills would be truly impressive.

 

 


 

 

“We’re so sorry, Jyuudaime!” Hayato wails, bowing and using one hand to force Lambo’s head down as well.

 

Tsuna heaves a sigh. “Oh stop that; you know I’ve forgiven you guys already. Besides, you made another meal for me, and we’ve still got my desserts in the fridge, right?”

 

“But you went to all that trouble, Tsuna,” Takeshi steps up, features set in sombre lines. “And we ruined it. We really are sorry for that.”

 

Tsuna can’t help smiling, especially when he looks at the feast spread out before him, and his Family all gathered together. Some of it is a little... overcooked in a few places, and if he strains his ears, he can hear something still sizzling rather forebodingly in the kitchens, but overall, the food looks delicious, and the most important part is the fact that his friends worked together to make it.

 

“It’s in the past,” Tsuna dismisses briskly, looking around, smile brightening as his gaze flits over everyone there, from the most sociable to the most reticent, all of them more or less willing to be here. Reborn is on his left, as always, and the man shakes his head a bit in sheer exasperation.

 

“Now, shall we eat?” Tsuna pointedly picks up his fork. “I don’t want anything getting cold, so everybody dig in!”

 

It takes a few minutes for some of his friends to lose their hesitation, repeatedly peering at him as if to check that he’s still in a good mood, but Vongola wouldn't be Vongola if they stayed down for long, and soon, chatter and squabbles and laughter are erupting up and down the length of the table, just as it should be.

 

Xanxus sits on the opposite end, pretending to ignore everyone, Kyouya gives Mukuro the evil eye every fifth bite of food, and Mukuro smirks back loftily nonstop. At one point, Squalo tries to stab Levi through one hand when the latter attempts to snatch the last portion of tuna carpaccio, and more than once, Belphegor gets fed up with Flan and tries to murder him.

 

Everybody’s having fun though, even the grouchiest of the lot, and that’s enough for Tsuna. Overall, despite the wasted food, he thinks this Christmas has turned out alright after all.

 

[End]