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The Switzerland Debacle

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Perhaps it had all started some years and a couple months ago when all of a sudden, a lot of pros spontaneously burst into rainbow flames. After a bunch of freaking out in the numerous group chats, the players had come to the conclusion that no, they wouldn’t be telling anyone about the fire because what if they were taken somewhere? They had championships to win, players to beat, Glory to play, they couldn’t just disappear into thin air they had important things to do!

 

(Such a statement was made and kept, despite the whole issue of God Ye himself disappearing into thin air for a little while, but at least he came back!)

 

After a couple of get-togethers, they had stumbled their way into figuring out exactly what the flames could do, only to immediately spit blood when they found out the four Master Tacticians had already figured out what the flames did about three days into them manifesting. They later complained in the main group chat that sometimes, smart people should help those less fortunate in the thinking department, only to be met with silence from Zhang Xinjie and Yu Wenzhou, taunting from Ye Xiu, and a modicum of remorse from Xiao Shiqin. The matter was then left alone, and their lives continued, albeit with a few new elements included in their daily lives.

 

The mysterious flames also did something to their account cards, but since there were no noticeable effects while they trained, none of the pros really cared. The only reason why they even remembered that something happened to the cards was that a light sheen the same color of their flames covered the card, though Ye Xiu noted that One Autumn Leaf’s card never regained a sheen after he was forced to give it up.

 

Staring at the assorted figures standing in front of a rapidly disappearing portal in their training room, Ye Xiu took a moment to understand and comprehend that this event might be karma for all the shenanigans he pulled ever since he ran away from the Ye family manor in City B. He frowned slightly, he knew something would happen in Switzerland, something always happened while he was in foreign countries. It was like his luck only applied when he was in China, very much the opposite of his younger twin Ye Qiu.

 

Quite frankly, he had almost forgotten the whole issue and, by extension, the existence of flames since the ones he had in no way influenced his ability to play Glory, except for the fact that when he was solo after the Excellent Era incident, people were likely to either team up with him or hunt him down after the whole “helping out the guilds” thing was over. The orange one helped him out in leading Team Happy but only in person, and the purple one didn’t really do much all things considered.

 

While everyone else stood around and stared at each other, he slowly walked over to the large table in the room and took out his phone, a gift from Su Mucheng that he could not give back. He noticed out of the corner of his eye, a man in red quietly leave the room. Well, he shrugged to himself, it wasn’t really his problem where the guy went, it was securities'. Opening up WeChat, he opened a chat with his brother and tried to find a way to open the topic of the people who randomly appeared in the room, when his brother already sent a message.

 

A’Qiu: Stupid gege, what did you do this time?? Why are you sending me strangers to my office?? I didn’t know you even knew anyone outside your gamer friends, not counting that boyfriend of your friend!

 

Ye Xiu narrowed his eyes. He hadn’t sent anyone to Ye Qiu, let alone strangers. He slowly turned his head back to the strangers still in the training room. Perhaps he should use his twin to try and dig out a little information. He also needed to go defend his choice in friends, though he conceded that at least his brother was right, Kim Dokja was certainly an outlier in every sense of the word. He would die before ever agreeing with his twin on that though.

 

A’Xiu: silly didi, i haven’t sent any strangers to you! how could you think i would do such a thing! Inconceivable! Also, coach lin yan and jing yuanzhou are very nice people, why do you have such a vendetta against them?

 

A’Qiu: Are you still upset about me saying my language skills are better? Just because I’m right doesn’t mean you can send over any random foreigners to test me! Also, Coach??? Since when do you show respect to anyone?? Again, why do I need to keep telling you to fix your texting you’re a grown adult!

 

A’Xiu: my texting is fine you’re just jealous. either way, i’m more fluent in languages with scripts, you’re better with those romance languages. will you still not tell me why you decided on those? did you happen to find love silly didi? though, where did i go wrong in raising you? how could you think i wouldn’t show respect to my friends? 

 

A’Qiu: GEGE!

 

Ye Xiu smiled, he won this round. He kept texting, even while he began to hear some noise coming from the rest of the room. He was more interested in the conversation with his brother than with the strangers in the room. He also put aside the talk of his taste in friends for another time.

 

A’Xiu: do you have any idea what language they’re speaking? i can make out some words that sound like japanese but there is something else mixed in, any idea?

 

A’Qiu: Wait, they’re at your place too? Aren’t you with your Glory team in Switzerland??

 

A’Xiu: haha yeah

 

A’Qiu: ??? I am not going to respond to that. I could make out some Italian, but it’s some odd mix of the two if you say there’s Japanese too.

 

Ye Xiu frowned and moved his attention away to where the rest of the National Team was. There were only a couple of people still in the training room, the others having left a bit earlier to finish some of their own tasks and to get some individual training and planning in. As such, it was Ye Xiu, Yu Wenzhou, Huang Shaotian, Fang Rui, Zhou Zekai, Zhang Xinjie, and Wang Jiexi still in the training room, though Zhang Xinjie seemed to be inching closer to the door. Catching his eye, he motioned towards the watch on his wrist and Ye Xiu nodded, understanding. It really wasn’t his fault Zhang Xinjie adhered strictly to his schedule. Ye Xiu would fill him in after it was all over. Hopefully.

 

Fang Rui and Huang Shaotian attempted to talk to the strangers who just responded in their weird mix of Italian and Japanese, while the rest of them just seemed to engage in a staring contest with some of the strangers. He put his phone down and let out a single sigh of distress before standing back up and catching the eye of Yu Wenzhou.

 

“Alright! Seems like you all are having fun with our guests. Would anyone like to actually try and find out what’s going on, or would you like to do what Huang Shaotian is doing currently and try to annoy them so much they snap?” Ye Xiu drawled, raising an eyebrow when Huang Shaotian immediately turned his attention on him and started speaking.

 

“Old Ye!!! What do you mean annoying them?? I’m having such a fulfilling discussion with this blond guy, we’re best friends!! We’re also both blond!! Shouldn’t you praise me I’m such a good diplomat! I’m clearly doing the most here out of everyone!!” Huang Shaotian punctuated this speech by grabbing the arm of the blond man standing right next to him and shaking it, the man showing an expression of a mix between annoyance and resignation.

 

“Unless all of sudden you can understand Japanese and Italian, I don’t think you did much talking.” Ye Xiu replied, giving a pointed glance at the arm Huang Shaotian kept shaking.

 

“Old Ye, you don’t know!!! What if I actually am-” Huang Shaotian was cut off by a look from Yu Wenzhou and let go of the stranger’s arm.

 

“Sorry sorry sorry Captain, please don’t put okra on the menu again!!” Huang Shaotian begged, letting out a sigh of relief once Yu Wenzhou turned his gaze away.

 

“Senior?” Zhou Zekai asked, blinking in confusion.

 

“Luck for all of you, I happen to be fluent in Japanese. So if all of you guys could keep quiet for a little bit, maybe we can resolve this and get back to training sooner.” Ye Xiu walked over to the man in the fedora standing next to a short teenager.

 

“Hello,” he started to say politely, ignoring the choking of some of the players in the room, “who might you be?”

 

The man stared at him, but Ye Xiu had stared down Yoo Joonghyeok when he first met his friend, so it wasn’t as if he was intimidated by the man. It was polite to keep eye contact when talking with someone, and if a couple of people mentioned how intimidating his eyes glowing gold was when he did so then so be it.

 

A few seconds into their standoff, the man finally spoke after being glanced at frantically multiple times by the teen beside him. It was only a single word, however.

 

“Skull.”

 


 

Chapter Text


 

Ye Xiu stared in contemplation and a little bit of confusion, before turning back to the pros and shrugging. A single noun wasn’t really something of an explanation. It wasn’t much of anything, to be honest.

 

“He just said a word, ‘Skull’. Not sure if it’s some sort of title, or perhaps a threat.” He walked back over to the table in the middle and sat down, intending to watch to see if anyone would step up.

 

“Tsk, ‘Skull’? What kind of an answer is that? Sounds like the name of some lame goth-punk band member!” Fang Rui chimed in, laughing.

 

Ye Xiu suddenly frowned to himself, the idea of it being a name seemed a bit familiar to him. He shrugged it off though, thinking that perhaps it was the name of one of his really old smurf accounts. He frequently liked to forget the names of those accounts, just so he could claim plausible deniability if ever questioned for his actions while using said accounts.

 

“Senior Ye,” Wang Jiexi suddenly asked, walking over to where Ye Xiu sat, brow furrowed in question, “doesn’t the man with the braid look like that one actor?” He took out his phone, presumably to look up the man.

 

“Hm?” Ye Xiu looked back over to the group, ignoring the taunts Fang Rui started to throw at the strangers, soon locking eyes with the man in question. He was the same guy who walked out as soon as the portal appeared, he somehow made it back to the room at some point.

 

“Ah, yeah, he kinda does. What’s the actor’s name, Hibari something right?” As soon as Ye Xiu spoke, the strangers all immediately turned their attention to him. He raised an eyebrow, evidently, that was a name they somehow recognized.

 

“Feng. Hibari Feng.” Wang Jiexi said, blinking in confusion, looking down at his phone. “He was in that recent drama, apparently. About the mafia?”

 

Ye Xiu tskd, he knew Chu Yunxiu would have been able to tell them something, but she was off with Su Mucheng doing something he figured it would be better to not ask about.

 

“Yes?” The man asked gently, causing everyone to jump. He spoke something they could all understand, Chinese!

 

“Huh??!!” Huang Shaotian shouted, waving his arms. “You could speak Chinese this whole time???”

 

The man simply smiled, “I took a step out when my group arrived and just returned. Is something the matter?” There seemed to be an underlying tone in his voice, something akin to Yu Wenzhou’s voice when he got really ticked off. Almost all the players in the room took an aborted step backward at the tone, pavlovian response ingrained over the years.

 

“Yeah, who are you?” Ye Xiu asked bluntly, garnering incredulous looks from some of the players. The man gave a detached but confused look.

 

“Didn’t you just call out my name? Though, I would prefer if you called me Fon.” Ye Xiu and Wang Jiexi turned their heads and blinked in tandem, before Ye Xiu laughed.

 

“Ah, Big-Eyed Wang, you certainly hold the title of honorary Tactician with finds such as these.” Ye Xiu turned his head again and scrutinized the newly-identified Hibari Feng, well, Fon. He was dressed in mostly reds, but there was some black outlining the edges of his clothing. He glanced around at the rest of the strangers. All of them had the weird color coordination thing some of the pros also had once they found out about their flames. He made a mental note.

 

“So, what are you doing here? I sure hope it’s not to kidnap me, that already happened a couple of times to me as a child and as you can see, I’m still here!” Ye Xiu grinned, ignoring the gasps and intakes of air the pros in the room did. He was proud of his ability to keep his childhood semi-publically in the Ye Family mostly under wraps because it meant he could whip out tidbits like such and enjoy the usual surprise and sometimes horrified looks in response.

 

“Ah,” the newly-named Fon looked a bit bashful, “we’re looking for a man named Skull De Mort, clou-” he cut himself off and narrowed his eyes. Ye Xiu stared right back at him. “You do know about the existence of Dying Will Flames, correct?” The pros in the room all shared surprised expressions. Those flames have an actual name?

 

“Yeah. These?” Ye Xiu flared a small amount of the orange and purple flames, much to the shock of the strangers. They began to chatter between them, while Fon just stood quietly. Ye Xiu could make out words like sky, cloud, wrong, and something that sounded like a name or some sort of title, Checker Face.

 

“Yes, well.” Fon looked vaguely uncomfortable at the two different colored flames. Ye Xiu just brushed it off, it wasn’t as if he was special. His twin could also wield two colors, though he sometimes combined them into a red flame that Ye Xiu never saw anywhere else. Thinking even further back, he was almost positive that some of the retired pros who only occasionally talked in the group chat had two different colored flames. He looked at the pros in the room, he knew at least Huang Shaotian had two flames. The guy almost constantly flared them in some way, which was why Ye Xiu could almost automatically remember that fact.

 

“The man we are looking for must be in this room. He had purple hair and eyes, though since he seems to be in hiding, he might be wearing contacts or dyed his hair. Are there any people who fit this description at any point in time?” Even Ye Xiu was taken aback. Purple hair, purple eyes? This wasn’t some type of anime, this was real life! That kind of color palette was more suited to Coach Lin and his band of misfits, namely BB. Only BB. Ye Xiu briefly wondered where he went to get his hair dyed that red, when his thoughts were interrupted.

 

“Are you sure you have the right people?” Yu Wenzhou cut in, smiling placidly, Zhou Zekai letting out a solid hm, and Huang Shaotian started a barrage of speech. Quite honestly, if Ye Xiu squinted and tilted his head in the right lighting, Yu Wenzhou was really the only person to fit the description, especially since Ye Xiu could swear his eyes were kinda purple.

 

Huang Shaotian had obnoxious blond hair and brown eyes, Wang Jiexi and Zhou Zekai both had brown hair and green eyes, Fang Rui had brown hair and eyes, and he himself had golden eyes of all things and black hair that he supposed if one looked really hard and in the right lighting might have a purple tinge to it. In actuality, none of them really fit the bill of ‘purple eyes’ and ‘purple hair’, but it seemed as if the strangers weren’t particularly willing to fold and go back from where they came.

 

“Perhaps I should ask who has purple flames?” Fon looked almost pained as he said the last two words, evidently uncomfortable with not calling the fire by its apparent real name. Ye Xiu shared a look with Yu Wenzhou and coughed, “Ah, it would just be us two at the moment.” He pointed at himself and Yu Wenzhou. He could tell that Fon was slowly losing his mind as all he did was give a strained smile in acknowledgment before turning and getting into a hushed conversation with the strangers. Ye Xiu turned to the other players in the room before he felt his phone vibrate and he took it out, eyebrows raising in disbelief.

 

A’Qiu: Gege, I almost wish YOU were the one I was dealing with right now

 

A’Xiu: ah?

 

A’Qiu: There are TEENAGERS in my OFFICE BUILDING!!

 

Ye Xiu huffed a laugh. Of course, his brother would consider teenagers to be more tolerable than himself.

 

A’Xiu: let me guess, each one coordinates with a specific color and are currently asking you about your flames?

 

A’Qiu: Perhaps… Either way! The blue one just said something and-. He’s gone. I will be pushing this all onto you.

 

Ye Xiu tilted his head in confusion and looked up, only to see a dark blue portal similar to the one that the group of strangers arrived by form at the other end of the room from the strangers they still hadn’t gotten names from, and a teenager with a glowing red eye and a trident came out. Well, it’s certainly not the most confusing and concerning thing he had ever been witness to.

 

“Mukuro!” The small teenager beside the man with the fedora yelped, immediately booking it over to that side of the room, and began to nervously chatter, this time in full Japanese rather than the weird hybrid that had been used. Well, wouldn’t it have been nice to know that at least one of them could do that?

 

“Fufufu, Tsuna-kun,” the teenager laughed, and it sounded eerily familiar to a certain Blue Rain Captain. As some of the pros’ eyes shifted onto Yu Wenzhou who just smiled blandly while Huang Shaotian seemed to go into some sort of shock, Ye Xiu kept his eyes on the new arrival. How exactly had he traveled such a long distance in so little time? There was some sort of itch or tingling that Ye Xiu got from the portal, and he wanted to know exactly how something could be made.

 

“Where were you? We went through the portal that Checkerface-san made after Skull-san never showed up, but neither you nor the others were with the rest of the group once we arrived!” The newly-named Tsuna nervously tugged on his hair, seemingly in a panic. Ye Xiu made a mental note, the odd title he heard earlier seemed to be an actual name, though he wondered what parent would give their poor child such a name. Mukuro shrugged.

 

“The Mist portal was locked onto the remnants of the Cloud Arcobaleno’s flames, it just means that something isn’t quite right about this situation.” Mukuro narrowed his eyes for a moment, and then another portal formed, looking identical to the other two that Ye Xiu had seen. However, this time, a gaggle of teenagers came through, and right as the portal closed Ye Xiu got another text from his brother.

 

A’Qiu: Ah hah! Stupid gege, now they’re your responsibility!

 

A’Xiu: didi! how uncute of you!

 

A’Qiu: !!!

 

“Senior,” Zhou Zekai whispered, making Ye Xiu nod his head in agreement and sigh. He should never have let his father talk him into going to the Invitationals, this was quite possibly the worst thing he had to do. And that included his very first All-Stars Competition.

 


 

Chapter Text


 

“DECIMO!” The grey-haired teen yelled, causing the rest of the strangers to either let out a sigh or roll their eyes. 

 

“Ah! Hayato-kun?” Tsuna yelped, blinking his eyes rapidly. “Didn’t-, uh, I mean, huh??” Ye Xiu could hear the confusion in his voice grow stronger the more he stuttered. The man with green hair from the first batch of strangers looked intrigued, and his eyes gained a frightening gleam that any of the pros who went against one of the Master Tacticians could recognize immediately.

 

“How interesting. There seems to be some sort of connection between bonded guardians that the flames themselves warped to accommodate them? How odd, considering the mist flames that we originally used to arrive were just Viper’s flames, yet there seemed to be some of the Mist Guardian’s flames as well…” The man kept muttering in the odd mix of Japanese and Italian, though Ye Xiu doubted that he would be able to understand what was being said regardless.

 

“Haha, that guy could rival you!” Fang Rui nudged Huang Shaotian in the ribs, smirking in satisfaction when he heard a yelp in response.

 

“What!! You dare compare this father to that guy?? His hair looks like a rat nested in it, and it has the same color as okra!! Or cucumber!! Or-”

 

“Nah,” Fang Rui cut in, “I think the vegetable you’re looking for is broccoli.”

 

“I think,” Fon cut in, a smile faintly on his face, “that Verde wouldn’t quite appreciate the comments, but I believe he doesn’t speak Chinese.”

 

Ye Xiu laughed. “Ah, looks like you two are in the clear. Go on, say something else. I’ll even give you a piece of info. His name is just the color green in French.”

 

The two who were just speaking shut up, looking at each other silently, egging the other to break the silence and say something first.

 

"Well, Little Zhou, are you thinking what I'm thinking?" Ye Xiu clapped his hands once, turning to look at him.

 

"?" Zhou Zekai just tilted his head in confusion.

 

"Haha, of course you are!" Ye Xiu laughed, grinning. "It is prime time for bed! After all, we have that match against the Korean team tomorrow and I can't let Yoo Joonghyeok text me tomorrow if we lose! This senior needs to keep face!"

 

“You, keep face? Haha, Old Ye, you really have little shame!” Huang Shaotian spoke, but there was audible concern in his voice. 

 

Almost all the eyes moved to Ye Xiu, the pros in the room accurately picking up the discomfort in his tone via the amount of enthusiasm in his voice and the strangers sensing an odd vibe in the room.

 

"Senior Ye is correct," Yu Wenzhou said, nodding, "However, our guests must need accommodation, especially since they plan on staying, correct?"

 

Fon blinked, but nodded his head in acquisition. "Yes, are there any nearby hotels that might have rooms open? If not, I'm sure we can figure something out."

 

After a couple minutes of listing off possible arrangements, followed by clearing their training room and bidding each other goodnight, Ye Xiu was finally able to lie down and process the information dumped on him within the past hour. He stared at the ceiling in thought once his nightly routine was finished, trying to categorize and organize his thoughts.

 

"'Skull, huh? Sounds-," a yawn cut off his vocalized train of thought, "sounds a little familiar…."

 

~

 

"-ull! -kull! Skull! A voice called out, jolting him out of unconsciousness.

 

"Hhng, wha-?" He groaned, attempting to lift his arm up to block the glaring light shining directly into his eyes, only to flinch in pain.

 

"Skull! You're awake!" Joy infused the words, prompting him to squint against the momentary pain to try and see the speaker.

 

"A-aria? Is that you?" He blinked rapidly to try and clear his vision despite the sun in his eyes.

 

"Oh thank god! You're ok!" The voice cracked, and he saw a hand move to shield his eyes which allowed him to properly see the speaker. Dark blue eyes looked down at him, holding both sorrow and joy. He noticed a lone tear trace the side of their face.

 

Aria looked at him and shakily smiled, the corners of her mouth struggling to hold their place.

 

"Oh, Skull," she said in sorrow, "I'm so sorry. I-" Aria looked away for a brief moment before returning to look at him. "You were in a spot of trouble with some of the others, remember? Don't worry, I'll make sure they can't barge in here while you rest. You just need to rest."

 

"Huh?" He murmured, wincing again at the headache he got when trying to think. Trouble? Others? What was she talking about…?

 

He must have said something out loud because he saw Aria lift her other hand to her mouth and her eyes close. She mumbled something behind the palm of her hand before removing it and lightly grabbed one of his hands, faint tremors betraying her even-tempered and poised facade.

 

"Oh Skull," he heard sorrow in her voice, "unless you remember on your own, I don't think I'll tell you what happened. Just, just focus on feeling better, hm?"

 

"Your mother," he mumbled, "your mother would never, ugh, never would have done this. You're too nice to me Aria. The rest, the rest won't, won’t-"

 

"Shush, Skull. It's ok. Don't talk, just rest. I promise," he felt a wave of warmth sweep over him, something nice but bordering on uncomfortable. Something like the feeling of sitting close to a fireplace for almost too long, a feeling of warmth bordering on pain.

 

"Hmmn. Thanks for not, not Scorching me. Too nice Aria, too nice. I-" his voice broke, and he felt a small drop of liquid on his arm, "I haven't rested like this for a while. Not Scorched, not forced accelerated healing. Nice, not forced Rain Tranquility or Forced Harmony. I can feel, feel my thoughts…" He felt his mind slowly sink back into the darkness of oblivion, but he caught Aria's next sentence.

 

"I'm sorry that this feels safe to you. You should be treated better than this."

 

~

 

Ye Xiu woke up in a daze, staring up at the ceiling without quite recognizing his return to reality.

 

"What…?" His question trailed off, his hands flexing unconsciously before he snapped back to awareness. "Who was that, there was a figure and…" He could barely remember anything from the dream, only a subconscious feeling of tiredness and pain similar to that after cold limbs finally regained motion and heat, piercing prickly pain that quickly faded.

 

He shook his head to clear his thoughts, got out of bed, and moved to the bathroom. He began to go through his morning motions, however, once he looked in the mirror he became heavily confused.

 

"What the-" he leaned in closer to the mirror as if to confirm what he saw. His fingers curled around a lock of hair that seemed to be a dark purple, almost blending into the rest of his black hair. It might not be noticeable to others, but Ye Xiu had seen the same thing in the mirror for years and could tell the difference immediately.

 

He felt a sense of unease growing in the pit of his stomach, something uncomfortable and painful. Something he had only felt two times before, right before the car accident and right before he was called into Excellent Era's executive office for the final time.

 

"I better dye this, or cut it, or…" his thoughts trailed off before he lightly pinched his arm to drag himself out of his thoughts. He just needed to hide it under his black hair, which was something easy considering the newly-purple hair was already hidden underneath his regular-colored hair. He fixed his hair and finished the rest of his morning routine, grabbed his phone, his wallet with his account card and some money, and his hotel keycard, and headed out.

 

Upon reaching the dining room of the hotel the competitors were staying at, he spotted the team at one table and headed over, ignoring the eyes of the strangers he still didn't know the names of aside from four. He caught the tail end of Zhang Xinjie's voice as he reached the table.

 

"Interesting. It appears I missed quite a lot." His soft voice said, knife cutting into the food on his plate into even bits.

 

“Aiya, is everyone gossiping about poor old me when I’m not even around? For shame.” Ye Xiu tsked, pulling out the empty chair and sitting down.

 

“Che, shame?” Zhang Jiale looked up from his own breakfast, “Since when have you known the concept of shame?”

 

“Ah, I don’t, but it is quite rude to gossip behind the back of the one being talked about.” Ye Xiu held a hand against his heart and sighed, causing the players sitting near him to sweatdrop.

 

“What?!” A voice cried out from further down the table, Chu Yunxiu rising up from her chair. “A whole drama happened while MuMu and I were busy? What kind of-” Su Mucheng lightly tugged at her arm until she sat back down, a hushed but heated conversation occurring.

 

“Despite this, surprise, I propose we continue as-is with the team training, especially since it is the South Korean team we are playing tonight.” Yu Wenzhou broke the momentary silence, receiving numerous hums and nods of acknowledgment at his proposal.

 

“Right, us tacticians can meet in the room we had left yesterday, and we’ll quickly compile all the important information for a training session before we’ll all meet after training and go over the finer details.” Xiao Shiqin spoke, getting nods from the people mentioned.

 

“Not much we can do about the new mystery anyways. However, if any of you spontaneously grow purple hair or eyes, tell someone and we’ll make sure to call for a doctor, haha.” Fang Rui joked, stuffing a piece of fruit into his mouth.

 

“They’d think you’re crazy if you tried to explain something like that. Which you are, but the point stands.” Sun Xiang replied, rolling his eyes.

 

“I’m sure we can think of something once the time comes to cross that bridge.” Wang Jiexi said, leisurely picking at his own meal.

 

“That bridge might be closer than we think, but quite frankly I don’t think I care at this point. My head is full of tactics and I don’t think I can fit in something like worry right now.” Ye Xiu said bluntly, turning to look at the dining room buffet in contemplation.

 

“Senior, the oatmeal?” Zhou Zekai gestured to his plate, and Ye Xiu tilted his head in thought.

 

“Alright, if it’s as good as Little Zhou says, I’ll get it. After I’m done, I’ll just head to the meeting room.” He got up and made his way to the buffet table, becoming keenly aware of all the eyes that followed him. He let out a quiet sigh.

 

What did a poor man have to do to get some oatmeal in peace?

 


 

Chapter Text


 

Fon knew deep down, as he sat in silence with the rest of the Arcobaleno while the group of strangers they had intruded upon laughed and chatted a couple of tables over, that their trip would not bear fortuitous results. He stared into the single cup of tea he made, the pale golden color reminding him of something he had long forgotten.

 

He knew from the start that the Arcobaleno were chasing a dream, a desire more akin to a delusion. Skull had been missing ever since Aria had died, and Uni had either chosen not to scry his position or simply couldn't. Their group put any potential worry to the back of their minds, seeing as Skull's octopus still lived, tied to the cloud's flames as he was. However, when Checkerface called them all together to participate in the Battle, Skull didn't show up.

 

That was when the Arcobaleno and their allies all knew something was wrong. Something was terribly, horribly wrong.

 

Fon closed his eyes and remembered the panic, the stress, the frenzy the Arcobaleno went into. Their Flames were restless, and the group went through a short period of time where if they were in contact with anyone for too long, that person would be Scorched. The group had to only contact each other by phone until they could calm down, moving back to the manor they were all so familiar with, in a move some might call ‘nesting’.

 

There was no stone they left unturned in their desperate search for their Cloud. They followed a lead to the circus that their cloud was a part of before he joined the Arcobaleno, they went to the Carcassa, they even traced his old Territory down in his hometown, a secluded place in the Russian countryside, nothing but cold winds, harsh glares, and wide expanses of land greeted them where they went. All their attempts were met with deadends and in the case of the circus, violence.

 

The rest of the Arcobaleno grew irritable, lashing out in the privacy of their own rooms within the manor. The fact that one of their own was missing and stayed missing under their radar made them furious, though they directed none of it towards their Cloud. It was jarring for them, to see that their flames had become so accustomed to lashing out at the cloud that for the first few blowups, they had to consciously direct their flames outwards. They could tell their bond with their Cloud was almost non-existent, and that frightened them like nothing ever had.

 

It was by pure luck that Checkerface was willing to help them find the cloud, their burning desire to find their Cloud again happened to align with Checkerface’s own need for the Cloud Arcobaleno. It was with his Flames that Mammon and both the Vongola Mists were able to lock onto their Cloud’s presence, located somewhere so far off that even Checkerface grew a little worried his Flames might not be enough to keep the group there for an extended period of time.

 

The Arcobaleno except for Uni all decided to go, Tsuna volunteering to accompany them as a Sky in place of Uni. They had a plan for how the trip would go, approximately how long it would be, and a backup plan in case their Cloud refused to go with them. They were the World’s Greatest, and they soon found out that their arrogance would cost them. Fon had known at the time, as he was the closest to their Cloud before his disappearance, that their plan would fail. This was the man who had stuck it out with them for years under almost a constant stream of violence and high-strung tempers, and if he was gone, he was gone for good.

 

This plan came crumbling down on the rest of them when a group of unfamiliar faces looked at them in a hotel room. Fon had to step out as soon as they arrived there and heard the familiar language that haunted his darkest days. He knew, intellectually, that they weren’t his previous handlers, that he was still free from the clutches of the darkest Triad members, but emotions weren’t his forte. While he might be seen as the calmest of the Arcobaleno, there was a reason why he was their Storm.

 

He returned once he collected himself, and yet was startled when he heard his full name.

 

It had been a long time since he answered to that name.

 

Fon sighed and returned his attention back to the present and picked up the cup, sipping the now lukewarm tea. There was nothing he could do but look toward the near future, one that he could tell would leave the Arcobaleno much different than they arrived, though whether that change was positive was yet to be seen.

 

“So, um, Fon-san?” Tsuna spoke up, managing not to cower beneath the gazes of the Arcobaleno. “What exactly were they saying yesterday? Uh, I mean, anything other than the whole,” he waved his hands in an attempt to convey the mess that was the flame reveal, “....flame issue?”

 

Fon shook his head. “Aside from that, they merely bickered between each other, and sent us off.” He pointedly did not mention the comments made about Verde to the man. Some things should be kept between the involved parties.

 

“It seems as though their understanding of Flames is vastly different than ours. Perhaps we might be looking in the wrong direction? After all, Skull was never a Classic Cloud.” Verde began to jot down notes in the little book he kept by his side all the time, and Fon just turned his attention away. Skull had not been a Classic Cloud, yes. But there very much were Cloudy Instincts within him, as seen over the short time Fon had known him. The Flame knowledge may be different in this world, but it seemed as if there were still core characteristics so Skull would most definitely be a Cloud.

 

“Ah, also. Uh, why did my Guardians appear in a different building? Everyone was keyed to Skull-san’s Flames, so why did we separate?” Tsuna asked, but this time there was no immediate answer.

 

Fon frowned and he could hear Verde continue to mutter. Yes, that was quite a strange occurrence. After all, everyone’s Flame signature was unique, and it was only twins, triplets, and so on that could have similar signatures. But that only happened when they shared flame types. So why…?

 

His eyes widened, and he turned his attention to Tsuna, who seemed as though he didn’t expect an answer anytime soon.

 

“Tsuna, how did your Guardians describe the other man? Any unique characteristics, or similarities to the people we’ve met?"

 

Tsuna yelped, “A-ah! Yes, um,” his eyebrows furrowed, “Hayato-kun said that the man had black hair and brown eyes, though Murkuro-san insisted he had golden eyes. Hibari-san seemed to take offense to that, and, well,” Tsuna sheepishly rubbed the back of his neck, embarrassed. The Arcobaleno fell into silence, and the chatter of the table with the strangers became much more audible.

 

“Oi, Old Ye! You said your brother is calling?! What, are you gonna actually answer the phone- hey! What the hell, you never answer my calls! Hey! We’re in the middle of-” A loud voice sounded, and one of the blonds at the table stood up.

 

“Tsk, like anyone answers your calls. I don’t even think Little Yu answers them.” A voice drawled, before the Arcobaleno saw the black-haired man from the hotel room earlier walk by with a phone up to his ear. “Yes, yes, didi. Yes. Sure. Uh-huh…” His voice trailed off as he exited the room, and the Arcobaleno’s table remained deathly silent.

 

“That’s, that’s the man with the duel Sky and Cloud Flames, right?” Tsuna whispered, eyes wide. Duel Flame users were so rare in their world, it really made it apparent how different they were from the people they had met. For there to be one casually walking around, and for them to be a Cloudy Sky or Free Cloud was incredibly surprising. If someone like him was ever found by the underworld… Even Fon had to wince at the possible outcomes.

 

“What was his name?” Viper asked, and the other Arcobaleno gave each other startled looks, though to outsiders there was only perhaps a small widening of their eyes. Their resident information broker, the one who knew everything and everyone, and only things they didn’t know weren’t worth knowing, didn’t know the man’s name? Fon thought back to their conversation. He had picked up that the man’s family name was Ye, but the other people only called him nicknames like ‘Old Ye’ and ‘Senior Ye’. He tried to think of their original world, searching for a memory of a name like that. Surely, since his own name was present within this world and presumably belonged to the alternate version of himself, there must be someone parallel to that man?

 

“Fon?” He was startled out of his thoughts by Lal calling his name, an emotion bordering between confusion and suspicion emerging in her eyes, “You talked with them a little. Did you get the guy’s name?”

 

“Ah, no, not quite. They referred to him with nicknames, though his family name is Ye.” He turned his attention back to his thoughts, narrowing down his options until only one remained. Going off the descriptions, the man must be a member of the Ye Family, located in China. They were most famous for being the founding family of the Golden Leaf Corporation which was ranked number one among the top five richest companies in China, though they had roots dating far into old Imperial China. The Ye Family in their world, to his knowledge, barely mixed with the Triads, even though they mingled among the highest social circles. Most of those people often employed the Triads and Fon, by extension.

 

He tried remembering who the family members were or even the branch families, but could only remember that in the main family there were the parents and their two children, who were twins. The older one was the head of the branch he had founded as well as rumored to be the heir to the Corporation itself. The younger also ran a branch company and was rumored to be the successor vice President. That was all he knew, as he rarely read business news like that unless it was needed.

 

“Ye Xiu, his name is Ye Xiu. Famous for his role in e-Sports.” Viper spoke again, tone filled with a slight amount of interest, clearly having searched for information from wherever they usually do. “There should be much more, but the protection against outsiders is…” they trailed off, and the table grew silent again.

 

Fon kept his thoughts and his deductions to himself. It seemed as though Ye Xiu, the Ye Family, and their connection to Skull just got a lot more complicated.

 


 

Chapter Text


 

“Listen, Qiu’er,” Ye Xiu knew he had to finally stop joking around. The match against South Korea was going to happen much sooner than he’d like, and he could barely keep up with what was happening. He didn’t need anything huge to happen, yet it seemed as though he wouldn’t be getting his wish. “I know, I know right now. But, I am dealing with problems that I hardly understand. Listen,” he sighed and leaned against the wall, closing his eyes, “once I’ve finished ‘gaining glory for the homeland’ as Father put it, I’ll return. But right now, I can’t afford to be away from the team. I can only promise that if you call, I’ll always pick up.”

 

There was silence from the other side, and Ye Xiu knew his brother could tell he was deadly serious.

 

“Ok brother. But you must pick up the line if I call. This, this is something I cannot deal with alone. Ge, you have to promise me.” Ye Qiu’s voice almost wavered at the end, but Ye Xiu could tell he had agreed with his proposal.

 

“Of course, di. I promise. Anything else you have the burning urge to tell me?” Ye Xiu joked, successfully breaking the somber atmosphere.

 

“Tsk,” about three seconds passed before Ye Qiu spoke again, “Little Dot says hi.”

 

“Tell her I said hi back, and that I suggest the fun activity of tree climbing while I’m away.” Ye Xiu grinned at the sound of exasperation from the other end of the call. “Alright didi, I’m hanging up. Remember, I promised.”

 

“...Yes, alright. Good luck ge.” Ye Qiu replied, and he hung up, leaving Ye Xiu alone and still leaning against the wall. A few deep breaths later, he pocketed his phone and made his way to the room the other tacticians had agreed upon. He needed to focus all his attention on the upcoming match, meaning he couldn’t let the issue of strangers randomly appearing or home problems distract him.

 

The hours passed as peacefully as they could, considering the team was preparing to go on stage to defeat a team that was known and statistically shown to be very good. However, a new and undoubtedly huge stressor appeared, only three hours before their match.

 

“...” Sun Xiang sat sullenly in the medic’s room, compression bandage on with a cold compress over it. He had strained his wrist after trying to improve a particularly tricky combo, and was immediately sentenced to rest. Fortunately, after their match with South Korea, they wouldn’t be playing anyone the day after or the day after that, leaving a two-day rest period for his wrist to heal. It was no one’s fault, just an unfortunate occurrence, but it couldn’t stop Ye Xiu from developing a small headache. He could only acquiesce to the fact that at least the unlucky occurrence happened much closer to the beginning of the tournament than the end. The plans that had been made had taken into consideration that any one of the players might stumble into an accident, and so they were prepared to have him substitute into the team.

 

Before leaving on the bus to go to the stadium an hour later, they told the strangers that they were going out and that if there were any pressing issues they needed to talk about, it would, unfortunately, have to wait until they returned. It wasn’t particularly unfortunate, Ye Xiu thought, but he kept such opinions to himself for once. Although he was a professional aggro-attractor, he didn’t really feel like using such a skill on the strangers. After all, he needed to make sure he was at full strength during the matches!

 

They left on the bus and after a little bit, reached the Letzigrund Stadium they had been to for their previous matches. Getting off amidst the cheering crowds, they were escorted through the hallways until they reached the exit they needed to go through in order to begin setting up. Ye Xiu fell into the familiar rhythm, joking around and pitching in on the opinions of the stadium as the team had in previous matches. 

 

Preparations complete and everyone ready, the team began the regular pre-game routine of entering the stadium proper, meeting the opponent team, shaking hands with the other team, and then entering their team area. A few inspirational words and friendly mocking later, the entire team became laser-focused on the match. There was no room for hesitation and no room for distractions, it was game time.

 

~

 

Back at the hotel, Tsuna saw the Arcobaleno setting themselves up by the television in Reborn’s room. Mammon had looked up the channel the tournament would be broadcasted on, and the Arcobaleno and Tsuna’s Guardians all grew quiet in anticipation, albeit in different forms. Tsuna could understand what the Arcobaleno were trying to do, though in his opinion he thought it would be much easier to do so if they were at the stadium in person. There is a concept called Flame Resonance, which states that because the soul fundamentally never changes, there is never a time where bonded or formerly-bonded elements can’t tell where those who were Harmonized with them were. It was kind of like a tracking device, which really creeped Tsuna out. He knew he hadn’t quite settled into the idea of being in the mafia, the lack of privacy, or morals in general that were afforded to those in the organization and that many members had, but an innate tracking device was quite a ways out of his comfort zone.

 

By seeing the group that had a connection to Skull in their natural habitat and in some form of Harmony, their Flames should show some specific and unique signs of manifestation, both visible and invisible. Tsuna figured that the Arcobaleno knew exactly what and how Skull’s Flames reacted and manifested, and seeing a hint of them would let the Arcobaleno know where to properly begin looking.

 

However, Tsuna sighed, why was he involved?! Yes, he was invested in seeing the Arcobaleno and Skull reconnect, but why couldn’t he have just been allowed to sleep? He didn’t know what Skull’s Flames looked like, nor did he know how they manifested! What good could he do?

 

He leaned more heavily into the couch he was sitting on, scooting himself further into the corner. The match looked interesting, and in any other circumstance he would be much more engaged, but there seemed to be a heavy pressure in the room, all coming from the Arcobaleno. Tsuna knew they were desperate to find their missing element, but he figured that if Skull knew they were looking for him, he would have come to them already. Yes, Uni wasn’t there, but Tsuna could manage to form a sort of false Harmonization effect between the Arcobaleno, and there was no bonded element that could resist the calling of their Harmony. 

 

Tsuna shut his eyes and began lightly dozing, when after a while, he heard a triumphant shout that he could tell was from Reborn and quickly opened his eyes. On the television, there was a close-up camera shot of the players inside the booth, and the man Tsuna remembered as being named Ye Xiu had a very slight purple tinge to his eyes and well as a faintly glowing purple piece of hair that was mostly hidden. Next to the camera shot, there was an in-game capture of a figure in black armor thrusting a spear upwards in multiple quick jabs.

 

“It’s him! That black-haired guy, kora!” Colonnello sounded surprised, verbal tic coming out in his surprise.

 

“Ye Xiu, ah…” Fon said quietly, and Tsuna briefly wondered at the odd tone he used, when Mammon chimed in.

 

“I figured there was something wrong when I tried to find his background information.” They murmured, sounding pleased for reasons Tsuna couldn’t quite fathom.

 

“Well, now what? We met the guy, and he didn’t seem to recognize us. I doubt Skull is such a good actor..” Lal spoke up, and there was an underlying tone Tsuna couldn’t identify but seemed familiar from his earlier childhood days. He felt a little uncomfortable.

 

“Lackey can’t act for his life. Verde, do you know of any ways to remove memories of Flame Bonds or Harmonization?” Reborn asked, turning to face the scientist who had been in the middle of writing down what seemed to be short bullet points.

 

“No, though it could have something to do with the fact that we have world-crossed. Perhaps without the existence of Mist Flame stabilizers, or even the presence of Sky Flames to act as a pseudo-stabilizer, there were issues with something such a memory.” Verde said, though a frown stayed on his face. “Though, I don’t quite understand why there wouldn’t have been any signs of previous Bonds with him when we first met him. There is also the fact that he seems to have Guardians of his own.”

 

The Arcobaleno fell into silence, but Tsuna felt more and more uncomfortable. There should have at least been Uni’s Flames that could have stabilized the travel, right? And, even more odd, the moment Skull moved away from the reach of the other Arcobaleno by world traveling, shouldn’t they have been able to tell, especially since there are no signs of their Bonds from Skull’s Flames now, meaning that their Bonds broke?

 

The more Tsuna thought, the worse the picture became. He began to rethink his earlier analysis. If the Arcobaleno really didn’t notice Skull missing until they needed him for the Trial, if Skull didn’t remember them at all, and if his Flames no longer held any of the Arcobaleno’s Bonds, then…

 

His eyes widened in surprise but also in some form of abstract fear, brought on by his Sky Instincts. That meant… that meant that Skull had chosen to disregard his Bonded, voluntarily. It would make sense, considering there was no real power difference between the Arcobaleno and thus allowing such a rare occurrence to happen. Something like a voluntary disregard and dissolving of his Bonds was something that could only happen if all the Elements had equal power, which was very rare in any Harmony For an Element to do such a thing…

 

Tsuna broke his thoughts away from that line of thinking to move on to something less horrifying for his Sky Instincts. Was there someone who could have facilitated such a break? There was less than one percent chance that it was done without a witness, but who could it have been? Someone close to Skull, close enough that the man would feel comfortable being open emotionally and letting that person view his innermost thoughts and feelings. Tsuna figured it had to be another Arcobaleno because he didn’t think Skull had many confidants who knew about Flames outside of the Arcobaleno because he had originally been a civilian. Though Reborn could have simply told him false information, it didn’t seem to be false, especially since after the Arcobaleno started looking for Skull, they only went to civilian places.

 

If it was an Arcobaleno that Skull confided in, it wasn’t any of the ones that were currently in the room. It wasn’t Uni, since she wasn’t even born, presumably, when Skull went missing. And if she was, then she was much too young and weak to have the power to move him across worlds. Nor was it Luce, since the common consensus from the Arcobaleno was that while they were grudgingly impressed with her for managing to trick them, they really, really, didn’t like her. That could only really leave…

 

Aria, the second Sky Arcobaleno of the current generation.

 

~

 


 

Chapter Text


 

The rush of adrenaline he feels after winning is something that he has never quite gotten used to, no matter how many times he won a match.

The rush of adrenaline he felt after finally leaving was something he had never felt before.

 

He faintly hummed, contentment settling in and a sort of peace loosened his tense limbs. His orange flames briefly flickered, resonating with his feelings.

He ached, tension coiling up like a spring at the bottom of his stomach, a brief moment of illness. His cloud flames lashed out, put solely on the defensive.

 

The team had won against South Korea, and for the moments that followed the proclamation of their victory, the stadium had rattled. The rest of the team has similar emotions, the colors of the rainbow briefly flickering in and out. He felt a feeling of settlement, something akin to coming home, like he was a part of a bigger machine, a bigger moment in time.

He had finally left, left the house that had smothered him and caged his true emotions. The Bonds were cut and he was left with an encompassing and consuming need for Harmony. However, he felt a feeling of freedom, something that filled his lungs that had gone so long without working, a spark that he knew would soon flicker into a flame.

 

He was thankful that there was downtime in-between matches, not just so Sun Xiang can return to the team, but also so that he can fall back into planning and slowly come down from the all-too addicting high of a win. Sharing looks with the others once the cheering in the stadium had calmed down a notch, they stood up from their seats and moved from the constricting player area to the wide expanse of the stadium floor. They shook hands with the South Korean team, took some time to speak with the interviewers, and made their way home. A complete unit from beginning to end.

He was surprised that a wrench hadn’t been thrown into the plans, that the Arcobaleno remained away from the Manor and had actually stuck to the mission time frame. He turned his head to look at his surroundings once he left the forest surrounding the property, and all he could see for miles and miles was the Italian coast, the waves perpetually crashing against the rocky cliffs. It was much more open, allowing his brain to actually think instead of his thoughts being compressed by the halls of the house. He was finally alone and himself.

 

The team chatted as they returned to the hotel, basking in their emotions. He made his way to the planning room with two others, planning on picking up the remnants of their tactics against the South Korean team in preparation for their next rival, Italy. Once those papers were moved, he separated from them and made his way to his hotel room, sending a brief text to his brother on Weibo to inform him of their win, though he had probably already seen the footage.

He kept speeding along on his bike, whizzing past the local plants and animals. He made his way down the cliff, being careful around the bends and the rougher terrain as he made his way further down. Almost at the appointed destination, he felt a wave of gratitude towards Aria, though he knew she already understood the depths of his thankfulness.

 

Sliding the keycard into the holder- wading into the ocean- he turned the handle once he heard the confirmation click- he expanded his flames once he reached the spot- and walked in- inhaled deeply- before being met- with an overwhelming- darkness.

 

~

 

Reborn tightened the ropes, taking care to remember that the man’s livelihood relied on his arms and hands. The rest of the Arcobaleno sat or stood in the room, with Tsuna being the exception and standing far off to the side. The teen had forbidden the rest of his Guardians to enter the room in a surprise move, though Reborn didn’t spend an overt amount of thinking about why. He had more important matters to attend to.

 

Skull- and it was Skull, there could never be a denial strong enough to convince them otherwise, but-, was still in the chair, head lolling down and body slightly slumped against the ropes. It perhaps wasn’t their best idea, Fon and Tsuna voicing their audible disapproval, and there was even silent disagreement from Colonnello, though the man never voiced it out loud, a surprising move from a man who was usually one of the more vocal in the group. Even Reborn himself had doubts over their method because Skull had never experienced such treatment before, at any intensity. To their collective knowledge, at least.

 

Finished with the adjustments he turned and walked to the wall, leaning off-center from Skull’s possible line of sight. Raising an eyebrow at Lal who just nodded, he felt the weight of her Rain Flames slowly lighten and begin to fade away. They would have used Colonnello’s Flames, but the man refused, so they asked Lal. It wasn’t because they thought her Flames were weak, but their purity in comparison to Colonnello’s was less due to her Cloud secondary. The higher the purity, the easier it was to ensure their effectiveness, though it seemed as though Skull held no resistance against the effects of the Tranquility.

 

Reborn was taken out of his thoughts by the soft groan from Skull, whose face briefly contorted in annoyance before his eyes narrowly opened. They quickly opened fully once he became aware of where he was, and the people standing in the room. Reborn took note of how his eyes darted around and took in everything, before Skull plastered on a smile that held easily-seen annoyance but also a hint of something else. It was slightly hard to tell because the lights were as dim as they could go, but Reborn wasn't in the Arcobaleno for nothing.

 

“Well, I can’t say that this is a new experience for me, but it is certainly a surprise one. Would my surprise guests like to say something?” His leg twitched but he couldn’t complete the movement because his legs were tied to the chair legs.

 

Reborn looked at Verde, who only nodded, before beginning the conversation.

 

“Skull,” he opted to call him by his actual name in an attempt to set a non-hostile environment off the bat, “what are you doing here? One second you’re at the Manor, the next you’re gone.” He tried to keep his voice even, but the months of anxiety made it so his speech sped up a little. Embarrassing.

 

“Huh?” Skull scrunched up his nose a little in confusion, eyebrow quirking upwards, “I have no idea who any of you are. Well,” he seemed to think for a little, igniting something Reborn refused to call hope in his chest, “except for those two. Fon and… Tsuna?” That emotion was snuffed out.

 

“Ah?!” Tsuna squeaked out, causing Skull to smile in satisfaction. “I WAS right! Ha, didi would be surprised I remembered it.” He seemed to get a little lost in his head, but Mammon bluntly cut in.

 

“Would that be, by any chance, Ye Qiu?” Skull snapped out of his thoughts, and Reborn felt his eyes slightly widen at the sharp calculating looking in his eyes, spotting a ferociousness he couldn’t recall ever seeing from the man.

 

“Eh?” Skull’s voice lilted high, a tinge of genuine anger present, “You should think a little harder. Little old me, related to the CEO of a company many would kill to enter?” He didn’t quite answer the question, which Reborn noted down. Skull would always answer a question directly, even if he answered with a lie. Misdirection wasn’t something he had ever heard from the man.

 

“Yes?” Mammon asked, head moving imperceptibly closer, though Reborn could see from his spot that Skull caught onto the movement. This time, a frown almost crossed his face. Skull would never have noticed that, he never noticed anything that wasn’t blatantly in his face, and even then he would sometimes miss it, though Reborn knew he occasionally ignored them just to get a laugh. 

 

The thought that had crossed his mind the first time he saw the man came back. This, this might not be-

 

“Aiyo, what is this, an interrogation? I don’t even know your names, yet here you are, asking for my entire family tree? A little unfair.” He tsk’d, but Reborn could tell that the man wouldn’t say anything else on the matter. “If you try to torture me or something funny like that, I’ll say in advance I am trained, so don’t try it!” He smirked, but there was a sense of genuine unease.

 

“Ah- Skull-san!” Tsuna abruptly chimed in, causing everyone to give him a look of confusion, though of varying intensities.

 

“Also!” The man narrowed his eyes at Tsuna, though it seemed to be in a simple questioning manner, “Who is this ‘Skull’ guy you keep mentioning?” He tilted his head in what Reborn could tell was a mix of mockery and playfulness, “Well, you haven’t mentioned him a lot, but I can pick up on things.” He punctuated the last word with a wink.

 

“Do you really not know, kora?” Colonnello jumped in, earning him the same looks that Tsuna had gotten. 

 

“Know what?” A raise of an eyebrow.

 

“He’s you! Well, they think he’s you. I don’t think that, I think you’re just some gamer guy, kora.” The last sentence earned Colonnello a brief moment of rapid blinks, before the guy burst out laughing, the chair slightly moving at the intensity.

 

“‘Just some gamer guy’? I think you’d get jumped if you ever said that to a group of Glory fans, but I think that’s a perfect description. Just some gamer guy , haha, you’re funny! I think I like you! Well, like you enough to maybe forgive you for the kidnapping and interrogation.” The man smiled, and Colonnello was visibly at a loss for words, though a tentative smile appeared on his face.

 

“For the record, I didn’t really agree to this whole thing. It’s a bit of a mess, kora.” A small sparkle appeared in his eyes, his smile growing to crinkle the ends of them. Reborn hadn't seen Colonnello smile like that, probably since they found out Skull was missing.

 

“We’re getting off track,” Verde’s voice cut in, voice cold as always, “Move the topic of discussion.”

 

“Well, you sound a little familiar,” at this admission, the Arcobaleno briefly perked up, “you sound just like Happy’s resident assassin, Mo Fan!” Their expressions fell.

 

“Also,” he shook his arms and legs briefly, “can you let me go? I am quite positive I’m not the guy you’re trying to find and judging by the time, you might get a visitor that won’t be pleased to see this whole thing.” Reborn took a glance at the clock in the room, but didn’t have any idea what the man meant. Who would visit him at three in the morning?

 

A couple of sharp knocks at the door jolted him out of his thoughts and he shared a surprised look with Lal, who had also turned to look at the clock. A second round of the knocks happened, along with the quiet sound of keys jingling snapped him into action, causing him to move behind the chair and begin untying the knots, Lal joining in. Only one knot undone, they heard the key inserted into the lock and a small creaking noise of the door being opened. A figure was backlit by the hallway lights, and Reborn saw a hand reach out to flip on the lights, only to pause and hold the button to bring the lights up to full intensity.

 

“Ah, now I’m in for it.” The man murmured, dismay audible in his voice, wincing at the drastic change in lighting.

 

“Senior?” The man asked, and Reborn saw the man in glasses narrow his eyes before widening them in shock.

 

Senior?!

 

“I would like to state for the record that this wasn’t my fault.” The guy said, letting out a single nervous laugh.

 

Reborn suddenly deeply regretted the plan, especially once he saw that the man’s eyes went from a light grey to a blinding yellow that slowly changed into an electric yellow-green.