It started as a bit of revenge, as a way to make Timoteo fumble with his words, not quite sure of what to say. A way to make Iemitsu splutter and freet with actual worry for once. And then, well… It spiralled from there. Not that Tsuna minds, of course, the Reborn-trained part of him glories in the gobsmacked faces of whoever witnesses it and Xanxus is, perhaps, the warmest, most comfortable seat that Tsuna has ever had.
After hours of signing and going over paperwork, it’s a welcome respite.
Ah, Tsuna thinks with amusement as he enters the dining room, the stakes have just risen. Some of the underbosses are here and by that Tsuna doesn’t mean the ones he’s familiar, even friends, with. The old guard, those who see Tsuna and think ‘boy’. Those old men that, right along with Timoteo, clung to their power with teeth and nails.
Timoteo is looking at Tsuna from his spot, seated at the head of the table and leaning forward on his cane. His face tells Tsuna that he’s hoping beyond hope that Tsuna will not move forward with this, that he will, for once, sit to the left of Timoteo and behave himself like the obedient, attentive heir that Timoteo thought he’d have.
On the left of Tsuna’s seat, Xanxus sips his wine, face blank but eyes alight with sadistic amusement. Their eyes meet and Tsuna smiles, the same smile he uses during meetings but his eyes grow mischievous for a moment before he turns them to Timoteo, “grandpa.”
“Tsunayoshi,” Timoteo smiles, hiding worry behind a polite facade. “Meet these old friends of ours.”
But before Timoteo can continue, Tsuna has arrived at his chair. He pulls it out, ignores the almost imperceptible sigh of relief of Vongola Nono and passes by it to slide into Xanxus’s lap. Xanxus, of course, lets him, curling a hand around Tsuna’s hip with a familiarity that betrays custom. Tsuna turns his head to smile at him before turning to Timoteo once more, “I’m always glad to meet friends.”
In his seat, Timoteo is rock still, lips pressed tightly together but he pushes forward with determination, “I’m pleased to hear that.” He raises a hand, gesturing calmly to the three men sitting in front of Tsuna and Xanxus, “these are Don Rossi, Don Esposito and Don Ricci.”
Don Ricci, Tsuna notices with delight, is two seconds away from bursting into laughter.
“Pleased to meet you,” Tsuna greets with an inclination of his face and shows absolutely no surprise when Xanxus gestures for the server to hand over Tsuna’s wine glass for him to serve.
Timoteo’s eyes widen, Don Ricci has a sudden coughing fit, Don Rossi stares at the ceiling for answers and Don Esposito turns to look at Timoteo. But Timoteo’s only reaction is his slightly wider eyes so Don Esposito turns back to Tsuna, “how have you found Italy, young Tsunayoshi?”
Ah, yes. The not so subtle reminder that Tsuna is far younger than them. It’s not Tsuna’s fault that their bones ache. “Warm,” Tsuna shrugs one shoulder, burrowing closer into Xanxus’s hold to clarify his statement. “It’s delightful.”
“I’m sure,” Don Rossi agrees, eyeing Don Ricci, who has yet to stop staring at the ceiling. “We are all glad to see it.”
“Thank you,” Tsuna inclines his head, humming his pleasure when their food is served. Steak, Timoteo had obviously been hoping to buy Xanxus’s compliance if not good mood via bribes. Too bad that Xanxus’s bribing standards have risen. There’s just far more amusement in making Timoteo’s life harder.
Xanxus cuts two pieces of his steak without missing a beat, eating one and offering the other to Tsuna. Instead of taking the fork, as Tsuna usually does, he leans forward, wrapping his lips around the utensil and taking the meat. Xanxus hides the shake of his shoulders with a shrug, pretending it was always his intention to take off his coat.
Tsuna takes it, offers it to a member of the staff so it can be hung and then turns back to eat the next piece of steak offered to him.
Don Rossi’s smile widens, “what do you think, Stefano? Isn’t it wonderful?”
“Ah, yes,” Don Ricci mumbles, looking down to his friends, sneaking a look at Tsuna and Xanxus and then returning his stare to the ceiling. “Delightful, yes. Young love, all that.”
He’s sure that Don Esposito sees the delighted realization sinking into Tsuna’s eyes but the man says nothing, only leaning forward with a hum of interest. Tsuna lets that go, smiling so wide that his cheeks hurt, “it is!” He agrees, nodding and then plating a kiss on Xanxus’s cheek.
Under him, Xanxus snorts cupping Tsuna’s cheek with one big hand and pressing their foreheads together only to arch a brow at Tsuna from the privacy of their closeness. Tsuna just lets his eyes widen, silently begging Xanxus not to let this golden opportunity go. Xanxus rolls his eyes but pulls back, a finger trailing in Tsuna’s cheek in a movement that could be interpreted in many different ways.
Timoteo chokes like he’s suddenly found an explanation for his torment and he can’t quite believe it. When Tsuna turns to look at him, he’s as pale as Tsuna has ever seen him, looking down at his water like he’s hoping it’s whiskey. And Tsuna, with vindictive glee, thinks ‘oh, I’m going to milk this.’ So Tsuna lets himself turn shy, curling an uncertain hand around Xanxus’s arm, “you don’t mind, do you, grandpa?” He ducks his head, biting his lip nervously, “it’s ok?”
Don Ricci is now staring at Timoteo like he’s about to start busting knees if the answer to that question is anywhere close to a no. Don Esposito leans back, blinking in surprise like he’s suddenly unsure. It’s Don Rossi who breaks the tension, clapping sharply to bring attention to himself, “I’m sure Timoteo is happy for you.”
That makes Timoteo shake himself, nodding slowly, “ah, yes. Of course, beyond pleased.” He doesn’t look like he means it but it’s enough to satisfy everybody but Don Ricci, who is eyeing Timoteo suspiciously.
Dinner, as it is, takes hours. Xanxus and Tsuna milk it for all the entertainment they can manage.