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Tsuna waved to his mother as he exited the house at a brisk walk, setting off towards school. This part of his day was always an adventure, and, as usual, he sidestepped the nearly invisible holes in the sidewalk that tried to add clumsy to his list of character traits. He scoffed to himself. The universe wasn't going to get him that easily.

He dodged past an unfairly attractive brooding stranger who wasn't looking where they were heading, making sure not to fall into them, and a few steps later walked right through the ghost wavering around a telephone pole, eyes focused on a point beyond it, just as he was taught. He sidestepped a woman handing out flyers(to promote what, he didn't care to know. It could be anything from a singer to a sports team. The point is, it wasn't something he wanted to be involved with.) and cut through the park like he normally did, making sure to pay no attention to the unconscious prince or princess lying about fifty feet away from each other or the pointy eared green haired androgynous being in the treetops. He dutifully ignored what sounded like a robot mecha battle happening in the sky(he had no idea what it actually was, be he didn't dare look up, lest he be dragged into it), and arrived at school right on time, taking his seat just as the bell rang.

Step one of avoiding his destiny, complete. Just like every day.
#
The Sawada family was a strange bunch.

On the day of their first and only child's birth, the couple had taken one look at their son's beautiful orange eyes and wild, fluffy brown hair, and had burst into tears. Most had thought it to be the joy of new parenthood, but that assumption was quickly and violently ripped apart when Nana had wailed "Oh kami, he's a main character!"

Iemitsu was on his hands and knees, sobbing "Why, God? Whhyyyyyyy???" uncontrollably and pounding the floor with his fists.

Things, predictably, went downhill from there.

Tsunayoshi Sawada was taught from an early age what being a main character meant. He knew the popular genres, the tropes associated with each, how to recognize a situation that signalled what would be the start of a story, and could list them all at the drop of a hat. And so, with painstaking care and devotion, he went about doing his best to blend in and deny reality.

His father, unfortunately, was part of the Mafia, and had to work overseas, which greatly increased his chances of being in either an action packed shonen, some sort of crime romance, or a veritable world of crime fantasy. Since his dad didn't really have the option of being around, either, that added to his tragic backstory.

Those two things together were probably enough to kickstart a story by themselves, so Tsuna went to nearly unreasonable lengths to avoid main character habits and make himself painfully average. He woke up at a reasonable time each morning, ate breakfast with his mother(never toast, that was just asking for it), and got to his classroom right as the bell rang. He was never early or late, wore his uniform properly yet casually, and sat in the middle of the room(away from the windows, daydreaming was a main character habit) with absolutely no empty desks anywhere near him. He knew that, a main character, he would either get A's no matter what he did or get abysmal marks(and he often felt himself getting more confused as he looked at the homework, so he knew it was the second), and so he took a reasonable amount of notes and studied his ass off to make sure he always turned in either a solid B or high C. Since he was on decent speaking terms with all his classmates(neither popular nor unpopular, thank god), he ate lunch with a different group every day, which drastically decreased his chances of some terrifying in-group love shape. He was average in sports, if a bit on the unskilled side, but that was easily overlooked.

When Tsuna was eight, his mother sat him down at the table, placed a list before him, and said that he was allowed three main character habits, no more. No exchanges, no refunds, no deciding later that he wanted something different.

And so, at the age of eight, Tsuna developed an almost painfully strange sense of humor, sarcasm so sharp it could skin you alive, and a frankly unreasonable amount of luck, both good and bad. Hey, as far as he was concerned, the possible benefits outweighed the risks.
#
And when Tsuna jolted awake on an ordinary thursday six years later, feeling like he was being watched, he knew that the proverbial timer had run down to zero.

But he'd be damned if he wasn't going to have fun with this. The next few seconds were going to set the tone for at least the first arc of the story. He had to make it enjoyable.
#
Reborn full on twitched when his target- no, student, this wasn't a hit- suddenly sat up, looked directly at his hiding spot, and, with a completely straight face, said,

"Tis I, the frenchiest fry."

And then proceeded to carry on with his normal morning routine as if nothing had happened.

What. The. Fuck.

Chapter Text

That, predictably, set the tone for the rest of the day.

Reborn wasn't usually one to be thrown so completely off by a targ- student. Student. But he quickly found himself 128% out of his depth, because almost everything Iemitsu had told him about Tsunayoshi was dead wrong. And the parts that were accurate were literally the most useless things, like how he never ate toast and made it to school exactly on time every day and sat in the exact middle of his classroom. How would Iemitsu know useless shit like that? He was literally never home.

Tsunayoshi was, in a word, average. He got average grades, had an average home life, did average activities for his age group. Tsunayoshi Sawada was the poster boy for stereotypical Japanese teenagerhood.

Except he was also the strangest child Reborn had ever seen.

Well, no, that wasn't quite true. He himself was a middle aged man in a child's body. But Tsunayoshi? He ran a pretty close second. He wasn't even overtly strange(except that he was), it was that he was average enough that his strangeness seemed even more obvious.

Reborn followed him to school that first day, feeling horribly exposed because every once in a while Tsuna would glance at his hiding spot and smile to himself. Tsuna took a deliberately twisty path to school, going to almost unreasonable lengths to avoid a lady handing out flyers(Reborn didn't have time to stop to look at them, but they seemed interesting). He then walked past not one, but two unconscious and abnormally sparkly people, and despite the two extra minutes it added to his walk, took a covered pathway that had no view of the sky. Why? Why??? Reborn had no clue. And it drove him absolutely mad.

Tsuna ended up inside the school gates just three minutes before the bell rang, walking past a dangerous looking teenager who was menacingly twirling a pair of tonfas.

The black haired boy glowered at Tsuna. "Herbivore. Do not be late."

Tsuna nodded, looking faintly amused. "Of course, Hibari-san. Have I ever been late?"

The boy- Hibari- growled, tonfas twitching. "There is a first time for everything, herbivore."

Tsuna chuckled, dodging a half-hearted blow, and entered the building.

Reborn watched as Tsuna backed up, away from the door to his class, before bodily throwing himself at the still closed door.

The bell rang.

And suddenly the door flew open, just in time for Tsuna to fly through and land on a wheeled chair. He spun around a few times, before gently rolling to a stop in the center of the front of the room, facing his classmates, chin propped on his hand and giant grin on his face.

"Hello, I'm Tsunayoshi Sawada, and welcome to Jackass."

Reborn, from where he was perched in the air duct, hid his face in his hands and tried to keep from screaming.

Not a single one of Tsunayoshi's classmates batted an eye, besides the two that high fived him on the way to his seat(Reborn thought they were the ones who opened the door and placed the chair). Not even the teacher acknowledged Sawada's strange behavior, outside of shooing him to his seat. Reborn felt the urge to scream rising again, and patted Leon to calm himself down.

Was this- god forbid- normal behavior for Tsuna? What did it say about him that his classmates accepted this as nothing out of the ordinary?

Because Reborn was the universe's whipping boy and nothing ever made sense, the rest of the morning was completely uneventful. Tsuna did not act up once, and instead diligently copied notes and paid attention to the lessons. Reborn sighed. Here, at least, was one normal thing about Tsuna. He was a good student.

Then lunch came.

Reborn watched as Tsuna was approached by a peppy orange haired girl and a solemn brunette, and the slightly strained smile on the boy's face melted into a genuine one.

"Kyoko-chan, Kurokawa-san." He nodded to them. "Can I help you?"

Kyoko fiddled with the hem of her skirt. "Sawada-kun, you're good at giving advice, right?"

Reborn was relieved. Here, at least, was one piece of true information from Iemitsu. Tsuna was know as Magic-Tsuna in certain groups, for his ability to give unparalleled advice that almost always helped, if it didn't resolve your problem entirely. It was just like magic.

Tsuna's whole personality shifted from politely distant to concerned so fast that it almost gave Reborn whiplash. "Of course, Kyoko-chan, what do you need help with? Sit, sit!" He waved them into some chairs in front of him. "Tell me what your problem is and I'll do my best to help you."

Kyoko plopped down, still fiddling with her clothes. "Well, it's Mochida. You know, my boyfriend?" Tsuna nodded, gesturing for her to continue. "Lately, he's been… pressuring me. To do things I'm not ready to do. I've managed to get out of doing anything so far, but…"

"You don't know how long you can continue."

She nodded, sniffing. "I'm sorry to bother you with something as silly as this Sawada-kun, but-"

"Oh honey, no, don't apologize!" Tsuna exclaimed. "This is a very serious matter, and you shouldn't feel like your problems are silly or unimportant. Now, how has he been trying to pressure you? Has he been making you feel like you owe him, because he's dating you?" Kyoko nodded, hesitantly. "Alright. I want you to repeat after me, okay? I'm gonna lay some truth on ya."

Kyoko nodded. "Alright, Sawada-kun"

He held up a finger. "One. You are a person."

"I am a person," she parroted back.

Another finger went up. "Two. What you do with your body is your choice, and he has no right to pressure you."

"What I do with my body is my choice, and he has no right to pressure me."

Reborn watched, amazed, as the girl straightened up unconsciously, shoulders back, growing more confident.

He held up a third finger. "Finally. You don't owe anybody anything, not even if they are nice to you. Nobody deserves special treatment for being a decent human being."

"I don't owe anybody anything." Her eyes blazed. "Nobody deserves special treatment for being a decent human being."

Tsuna nodded in satisfaction. "Good. Now, would you like me to talk to Mochida-sempai after school for you? I know that confronting someone yourself can be difficult and scary, especially when there's such an imbalance in the relationship."

Kyoko relaxed and smiled. The confidence wasn't gone, just buried a little bit down. "Would you really, Sawada-kun? That would be amazing."

Tsuna smiled. "Of course, Kyoko-chan. And you and Kurokawa-san can call me Tsuna. Everyone does."

Kyoko smiled. "I'd like that."

Tsuna nodded and turned, calling to one of his many classmates. "Kihon-san, would you find Mochida-sempai and tell him to meet me in the gym after school? We need to have a conversation." The classmate nodded and ran off. Reborn felt a bit of excitement stir in his chest.

There was going to be a showdown.

Chapter Text

Tsuna waited exactly six minutes and forty three seconds after the end of school before he headed to the gym.

And, as he predicted, that was just enough time for Mochida to gather the kendo team and set up some form of ring. He grinned as Tsuna entered the gym, decked out in full kendo gear, two shinai held loosely in either hand. He was dressed for a kendo match.

Too bad that Tsuna had absolutely no intention of physically fighting him. The manga was obviously trying to set up his first plot-driven victory(looked like he was in a shounen anime after all, now he just needed to narrow it down to what type), and in these types of stories it usually involved physical fighting. So, Tsuna was going to verbally destroy Mochida instead. Simple.

He pinched the bridge of his nose in aggravation, thoughtlessly sidestepping the shinai tossed his way. "Mochida-senpai, what part of 'I want to have a discussion with you' translated in your head to 'Let's have a Kendo match'?"

"You sent me a challenge!" Mochida barked, gazing condescendingly down at Tsuna. "I set up a ring for us to do battle!"

Tsuna sighed. "Mochida-senpai, I 'challenged' you, yes? Does that not also mean that I get to set the parameters of the challenge? And do you even know why I wanted to see you?"

Mochida froze, shinai drooping a little from where it was victoriously thrust into the air. "…oh. Right. And, uh, no. I don't."

"That's what I thought. One second then, and then we can begin. You won't be needing any of that," he gestured to the kendo armor the older boy had equipped. Turning, he placed his hands on Kyoko's shoulders and steered her over to a bench, settling her down. He then reached into his bag, pulled out a pair of headphones, and placed them over Kyoko's ears as Hana settled down next to her. Lastly, he put his ipod on shuffle before dropping it into Hana's hands.

"Make sure she doesn't take them off," he instructed to the dark haired girl. "She doesn't need to hear this."

Then he whirled around, and Mochida actually took a step back at the livid expression on his face. Because Tsuna had shot from 0 to 100 real quick.

"Alright you miserable fucking wet gym sock," Tsuna hissed, "you listen to me and you fucking listen well. I understand that you pull yourself through this hell of a school system by dragging others down with you. You probably get off on this ridiculously pathetic middle school power trip of yours. I know that you're probably trying to fill the soul sucking void in your miserable chest made by your lack of meaningful relationships and breathtaking anger issues, and you know what? I don't fucking care."

He pointed to Kyoko, who was softly humming along with his music, half curled into Hana's side. "Because there are few things in this world that piss me off more than women being harassed by dumbass sweaty dudebros like you who think the world owes them something just because they have a dick and grew over 5'7". I don't know how it works in the rainbow world that you fly through on your magical unicorn of destiny, but here in reality, having an excess of testosterone is not an excuse for lacking basic fucking human decency," he snarled. "Kyoko Sasagawa is one of the sweetest, most tolerant people in the fucking world, and if you have managed to even make her uncomfortable I do not want to imagine how you have treated other women."

"Because, newsflash? Women are still people. I know it's tough to get through your thick skull that they exist outside of your basic sphere of understanding and fragile, self inflated, hypermasculine ego, but surprise! They do."

He took a few steps forward, baring his teeth in an approximation of a smile when Mochida practically scrambled away from him. "If you so much as look at a woman with anything less than absolute respect in the future, I will disembowel you and knit myself a fashionable sweater out of your entrails, and I will be the envy of dedicated corpses everywhere."

"Do you understand, you fucking stale corn chip?" Mochida nodded frantically. "Good. Fortunately for you, I do have things to do today other than verbally beating your pathetic ass into the ground." He nearly skipped over to Kyoko and Hana, the later who jaw was literally hanging open. He stopped the music, neatly pulled off the headphones and slipped them into his bag, and, on hand on either girls shoulder, led them out of the gym.

He smiled brightly at Mochida as they moved past. "Good talk, Mochida-senpai, good talk."

He let the doors slam shut behind him, a grin plastered over his face.

Success.
#
Reborn, from where he was sitting in an air duct, nodded in satisfaction and powered down his video camera, tucking the little thumb drive his new video was stored on safely into his pocket.

Success.

He stood and headed towards the Sawada household, following Tsuna as he dropped the girls off at Sasagawa-san's house. He did a double take, however, because the second Tsuna thought he was alone the boy dropped his face into his hands and sighed.

"Shit," he muttered into his hands, voice quiet and defeated. "Mom is going to kill me."

That gave Reborn pause, because what he had read and seen of Sawada Nana painted her as a kind and understanding woman, if a bit air headed. Why would she be upset about Tsuna defending a classmate? That didn't make any sense.

He, of course, had his questions answered the second Tsuna got through his front door.

"Tsu-kun," his mother called from the kitchen, making the boy flinch. "come here please. We need to talk."

Tsuna trudged to the kitchen like he was marching towards his literal death. He dropped into the chair across from his mother, not even looking up to meet her eyes. Nana herself was the opposite of just this morning, eyes steely and frowning determinedly.

"Your teacher called me today, about the way you choose to enter the classroom." Tsuna flinched again, curling into himself. "Tsuna, we have talked about this. You're not supposed to draw attention to yourself."

"But mom-"

She shook her head. "No buts. Tsuna, what were you thinking? You know what could happen if you-"

"Would it really be so bad?" He interrupted. "I know you just want what's best for me, okay? I do, and I love you. But… It's so stifling here, mom. I never get to have any fun. I never get to hang out with just one group of friends or do as good as I can on a test because I have to fade in to the background like I don't matter just in case I get arbitrarily sucked into some kind of plotline. My entire life is a plotline, mom, we're just in the daily life arc."

"I just…" he faltered, "I just want to be seen sometimes. I want to help people and make real friends. But you always tell me I can't, because it would trigger a plot and start a story. And, starting a story… would it really be so bad?"

Nana sighed, and in that moment it became clear to Reborn that this was an argument they had had many times before. Even if he didn't understand a single word of it.

"Yes, Tsu-kun. Stories are dangerous." She stood and pulled him close to her chest, hugging him even though he remained stiff. "I don't want to lose you. And… I know that it makes you sad that you have to do this, that you have to push everyone away. I'm not mad about this morning, not really. I think you thought that what I didn't know wouldn't hurt, right?" She sighed gently as Tsuna nodded into her stomach. "I thought so. Tsuna, I enforce these rules to protect you, and I don't want you to just act out at school where I'm not around to enforce them."

"Nobody ever sees," Tsuna mumbled, slightly muffled. "The universe just adjusts itself because I'm an MC. I could probably walk into school naked and nobody but Hibari would bat an eye because he's plot-exempt."

"Regardless, honey, please don't attract attention to yourself at school. I don't want you starting a plot on accident." She sighed. "If you really feel this bad about it, I'll remove some of the restrictions you have at home. You're not a little kid anymore, maybe it's time I treated you a little less like one."

Tsuna perked up immediately, eyes shining bright like stars. "Really, mom? You mean it?"

Nana nodded, smiling indulgently. "Yes, my little pumpkin, really."

"Thank you thank you thank you!!" He kissed her on the cheek, smiling from ear to ear. "I have homework to do now," he said.

"Them you better get to it. March, young man!" She giggled. "I'll call you down for dinner. Oh, and Tsu-kun?" She called after him. "I love you."

Tsuna smiled, warm and dazzling as the sun and as big and accepting as the sky. "I love you too, mom."

Reborn hopped away from the window, trudging off to one of his already numetous temporary hideouts. That smile was one of a true sky, a being with flames so pure they leaked into their everyday actions. It made his chest ache, to see something that sweet.

He shook his head and tried to put it out of his mind. He had a preliminary report to make.

Chapter Text

Tsuna stared at the kid- he couldn't be older than three, carrying a small lizard, huge yellow pacifier around his neck, wearing a surprisingly well made tiny suit and oversized fedora- and felt his already tired soul shrivel to the approximate size of a tangerine, before crumbling away into a pile of dust, leaving behind naught but a blank pit of despair.

"Tsu-kun," his mother said, voice strained and eyes tight, "your father has sent you a tutor."
#
Reborn watched, slightly amused but mostly baffled, as his new student just stared at him. For a full three minutes. He began to wonder if there was something on his face, but that was impossible. He was always impeccably groomed, after all.

Eventually, Tsunayoshi, without moving his eyes from Reborn, picked up two oranges from the fruit bowl on the counter and shoved them in his pockets. He then offered a hand to Reborn, who cautiously took it, and was surprised(and a little pleased, though he would never admit it) when the teen lifted him up and placed him on his shoulder.

Tsuna looked at his mother. "We're going to my room." Nana just nodded, lips pressed tightly together, and headed back into the kitchen.

The trip to Tsuna's room felt like an eternity, even though it took two minutes at most. Tsunayoshi was silent, and Reborn had no way to really begin a conversation without resorting to violence at this point, and he was saving that for later, so he just sat quietly on Tsuna's shoulder, one hand stroking Leon. It was awkward, to say the least.

They slipped into Tsuna's room quietly, shutting the door behind them, and then Tsunayoshi carefully set him down on one of the cushions surrounding his table. It was kind of a novel experience, to have someone treat him like he was actually a child. Most people gave up within a few minutes of knowing him.

The boy plopped down on the other one, taking the oranges out of his pockets and setting one across from Reborn. He peeled the one in front of him as he began to speak, the sudden noise echoing slightly in the previous silence of the room.

"So, Tutor-san, what's dear old dad been up to lately?"

Reborn almost cried with relief, because that whole exchange had been so awkward it was almost physically painful, and he was glad it was over. "You may address me as Reborn. This might come as a shock, Sawada-san, but your father is-"

"Head of the CEDEF of the Vongola, I know. He told mama a few days after I was born. And you can call me Tsuna, Reborn-san. Everyone does." Reborn watched as Tsuna set his orange aside and began methodically shredding the peel into tiny strips with his fingernails. It was somehow unsettling to watch. "Since dad sent you, that means you're probably part of the Mafia, as well. You're most certainly not just a tutor, Reborn-san."

"Oh?" Reborn said, pointing his suddenly transformed Leon gun at the teen's forehead as he stood. "How do you figure, Tsuna?"

"There's no way in hell I'm that lucky," he said, with such absolute certainty that it threw Reborn a little. He paused. "Also, you're pointing a gun at my head, so. I'm assuming we've done away with all the bullshit pretext at this point?" he asked, eyes not even flickering up. He continued to shred the orange peel.

Reborn stared at him for about a minute, before letting out a long-suffering sigh and transforming Leon again, setting the chameleon on his hat. "You know, most people scream or beg or cry when they have a loaded gun pointed at their head."

Tsuna shrugged, eyes still downcast. "I'm not most people. And I already scream enough at the unforgiving void of space, and anything outside of that is basically pointless, so why bother, you know?"

Reborn twitched, tiny hands fisting in the cloth of his slacks. What did you say to that kind of thing?

"…yes, um, well. What I was going to say before you interrupted me was that I have been sent to train you by your father and Vongola Nono to train you to be the next head of the family, Vongola Decimo."

"Well, that's dumb," Tsuna said finally. "I have it on good authority that I would be a terrible Mafia boss. Also, shouldn't Nono have kids of his own or something? Unless he's gay or sterile or something of that nature. What qualifies me above any number of more suited candidates? I'm a thirteen year old physically weak civilian middle schooler, not to mention that I would likely be considered a foreigner to your people."

"The family must stay with blood, Tsuna. You're a direct descendant of the founder of the Vongola famiglia, Vongola Primo."

Tsuna just stared at him. Then, suddenly, he rose to his feet, strode briskly to the side of the room, and with no warning braced his hands against it and slammed his head into the wall. Then he turned around and dropped back into his seat as if nothing had happened.

He picked up a slice of orange and popped it into his mouth, swallowing quickly. "So, why me? If I'm eligible for the position, I'm pretty sure my father is as well- unless, of course, I'm inheriting through my mother, in which case I would understand you picking me instead of her." Reborn, still stunned from the episode moments before, merely said nothing. "Well, I'm going to take that as a no. Then, let me guess. My father has some sort of restriction placed on him that makes any line of succession skip over him, doesn't he?"

Reborn shifted. "Oh, uh- yes. As the current head of the CEDEF, your father is unable to inherit the title of Vongola Decimo due to the conflict of interest it would cause."

Tsuna sighed heavily. "Just my luck."

Then he dropped his face into his hands and started to scream.
#
Miles away from the screaming anime protagonist and the horrified baby, a silver haired teen ground his cigarette into the dirt with the heel of his boot and headed into the airport, dragging his suitcase behind him.

Chapter Text

Tsuna, head still buried in his hands, continued to scream as he stood and briskly walked out of his room. Reborn could only follow, torn between horrified and amused, as Tsuna ran straight into the doorframe, corrected himself, and continued down the stairs, all without letting up in his anguished shrieking or taking a breath. What kind of lung capacity did this kid have?

Nana didn't even bat an eyelash at her son’s apparent mental breakdown, just guided him to the couch and laid him down, tossing a blanket over him. Then she turned to Reborn with a welcoming smile that made him shiver and almost take a step back. It reminded him of the look someone had before they served you poisoned tea.

Tsuna just kept screaming.

“Welcome to the Sawada household, Reborn-san. We tend to be pretty relaxed here, but we do have a few rules. Bedtime for everyone in the house is between 9:30 pm and 10:00 pm. Everyone must sit down and have dinner together. There's no alcohol allowed here, and also no playing in or near the flower garden. Please enjoy your stay.” She smiled that disturbing smile again and headed back to the kitchen.

Reborn, lacking anything else to do, jumped over and sat himself on Tsuna’s hair. The boy, who was startled enough to finally stop screaming, absentmindedly plucked the tiny hitman off of his head and set him in his lap instead.

Reborn flicked Tsuna’s nose. “Didn't you tell me not five minutes ago that you only screamed at the unforgiving void of space?”

Tsuna shrugged. “Another thing you need to know before you start living here is that there’s also no consistency.”

Reborn eyed the boy warily, noting how he was perfectly accepting of his presence even though earlier he had been going on about how he couldn't be a mafia don, and how he didn't even appear to be bothered by the fact that he had practically contradicted everything he had ever said in the span of a few minutes.

He let out an explosive sigh and let his fedora fall forward, hiding his eyes and his grimace.

“I'm starting to notice that.”
#
The first thing Gokudera noticed about Sawada Tsunayoshi was that he was that he was tiny, and weak, and probably harmless.

The second thing he noticed was that he was cute.

Tsunayoshi was… adorable. His hair was fluffy and his eyes looked like polished topaz, and he was so small. He reminded Gokudera of a bunny.

The third thing Gokudera noticed was that Tsunayoshi was confusing, because the second the teacher finished introducing him to the class Sawada stood up, calmly walked to the window, nodded respectfully to Gokudera, and then threw himself out of it.
#
Tsuna you need to get out of here right away.

‘Oh, is that right, ever cherished helpful voice in my head?’ Tsuna mused silently. ‘And why is that?’

The new transfer student that Reborn probably summoned from Italy to probably fight you thinks you’re adorable and you remind him of a small rabbit.

‘Well that is a pretty concerning, voice, but I have been told multiple times by multiple people that I remind them of various small animals, so I’ll probably be fine.’

He thinks your eyes look like polished topaz.

Tsuna promptly threw himself out the window.

There was absolutely no chance at all that he was letting this crime drama he was in turn into any form of Shounen-ai. Not even as a secondary plot device. No way in hell.

He sprinted out the front gate of the school and made for his house. Or at least he would have, had Hibari not slammed a tonfa into the ground two inches in front of him and asked him where the hell he thought he was going.

Tsuna didn't even bother answering him, he just whimpered, turned around, and walked back to his class, and he felt Hibari's self-satisfied stare itching between his shoulder blades the entire time.

Lunch was... interesting.

Tsuna was half glad that Hibari had made him come back to class, because he had left his book bag by his desk when he made his grand escape. His lunch was in his bag, and no possible tundere mafia love interest was going to make him go without his mother's wonderful cooking, no siree.

The strange part(besides the possible tsundere mafia love interest staring at him the for the entirety of the rest of the day) was Yamamoto Takeshi. Or rather, that Yamamoto had deigned to talk to him at all.

Tsuna and Yamamoto had never gotten along, no matter how hard Tsuna had tried to. Maybe he saw Tsuna's relative popularity as a threat to his school idol status(unlikely), or maybe he saw that Tsuna's smiles were just as fake as his own. Maybe he just thought that Tsuna looked strange. Whatever the case, Yamamoto Takeshi did not like Tsuna.

So why was he asking him for advice?

Yamamoto pulled up a chair and looked him dead in the eyes, uncharacteristically serious. "My batting average has been going down recently. Do you have any idea how I can improve my scores, Sawada-san?"

Ah, that's why. The only thing Yamamoto ever swallowed his pride for was baseball.

"Take a break, Yamamoto-san. Pushing yourself will only hurt you in the long run."

Yamamoto frowned. "But how is stopping going to make me any better? That doesn't make any sense."

Tsuna shrugged. "You asked me for my advice and I have given it to you. Whether or not you take it is up to you."

Yamamoto shook his head and stood, giving him one of his nauseating fake smiles. "Thank you for your time, Sawada-san."

Tsuna frowned at the baseball star's retreating back.

He had a bad feeling.

Chapter Text

Tsuna stared, helpless, as the transfer student- shit, what was his name? Bokudera? Mokuvera? Something like that- ranted on and on and on about how Tsuna was too weak to be a mafia boss- which he agreed with- and that HE should be the one chosen to be the heir- questionable at best- and that Tsuna wasn’t worthy. Which was bullshit, because Tsuna could do anything he fucking set his mind to, his main character status made sure of that. According to this dumb anime he was living in, he might as well be the most worthy person on the whole damn planet. But that was beside the point.

He held up a hand, silencing the silver haired teen, and stared at him with an uncharacteristically serious expression. The bomber immediately fell silent, glaring at Tsuna and twirling a stick of dynamite in his fingers.

“Look my guy I understand that you were probably under the impression that you were coming here to get into some really serious mafia battle or something but we really don’t need to because it’s pretty obvious that you’d win in a second- I’ve got no combat skills and you have fucking dynamite and by the way you better hope that Hibari-san doesn’t catch you with that shit, I’m sure you like your blood inside your body as much as the next person- and frankly I haven’t listened to a word you’ve said in the last eight minutes because I cannot for the life of me remember your name and it has been bugging the hell out of me. What the fuck is your name?”

The bomber blinked. “Uh, Gokudera Hayato?”

Tsuna facepalmed. “Right! Thanks for the chat Gokudera-san. By the way, I have it on direct authority from Reborn-san that the Vongola don title is only inherited through blood, and that you’ve been lied to and have definitely one hundred percent been wasting your time. Toodles~”

That… was not the best way to handle that situation.

‘You know, friend,’ Tsuna thought, as he heard the sound of crackling wicks and enraged, incoherent shouting behind him, ‘you’re probably right.’

He stepped out of the way of the first dynamite, and the second, and the third, and then, because he was a wimp with no stamina, he felt himself get tired. He groaned internally, feeling the other in his mind try to reassure him, amused. He usually had much better endurance and reaction time than this, he mused as he felt a dynamite go off a little too close to his kneecap for comfort. Why the fuck was he feeling so fatigued now? He’d barely done any fighting.

It’s the plot, Tsuna.

Oh. Right.

So he stopped trying to dodge and started catching the dynamite and putting out the wicks, even though it made his fingers hurt like hell. This, however, just seemed to make Gokudera more angry.

“I’ll show you, asshole! Triple Bomb!”

Tsuna watched as Gokudera spilled his lit dynamite all over the ground. The bomber froze. They made eye contact, both horrified, and without a second to waste Tsuna raced forward, grabbed Gokudera by the front of his shirt, and took off toward the school as fast as he could. They barely made it to the edge of the blast zone, and even then they were knocked off their feet and through the open doors of the school. They skidded along the hard tile floor and ended up on top of each other against the wall. Tsuna whined and rubbed the back of his head where it had bounced off the hard plaster.

They stood shakily, bracing themselves against the wall, breathing hard. Tsuna glanced over at Gokudera, intent on asking him if he was alright, and was nearly knocked on his ass by the hero worship shining in the bombers formerly cold green eyes.

“Tenth!” Gokudera exclaimed, eyes sparkling. “You saved me! I can never repay you.” He suddenly dropped to his knees, pressing his forehead to the floor at Tsuna’s feet. “My life is yours!”

Tsuna sighed, kneeling in front of Gokudera as well. He pulled the other teen up, and, placing a finger under the bomber’s jaw, tilted the other’s face up so they could make eye contact.

“No thanks, Gokudera-san. I’ve seen it and I’m not impressed.” He smiled gently at the other’s devastated look. “Your life’s your own and it should only belong to you, Gokudera-san. Don’t go trading it away like some heirloom that you can pawn off in exchange for some basic human decency. You’re worth more than that.” He stood, pulling Gokudera to his feet. “However, if you’d like to be friends, equals,” he stressed, “I’d be cool with that.”

Gokudera looked like he was about to cry. Either of happiness or sadness, Tsuna couldn’t really tell. It was a bit of a toss up at the moment.

“Tenth! I’d be honored to be your friend!”

Tsuna smiled sweetly. “Call me Tenth again and I’ll knock your teeth out, Gokudera-san.”

“Tsunayoshi-dono?”

“Ew. Try again.”

“Tsuna-sama?”

 

“That’s better, but just call me Tsuna-kun, okay Gokudera-kun? The -sama makes me uncomfortable.”

Gokudera looked positively aghast at the notion of not showing the brunette the respect he clearly thought he deserved, but Tsuna just raised an eyebrow and waited.

“Tsu-tsuna-k-k-kun.” Gokudera blushed bright red, whether from the familiar honorific or Tsuna’s blinding smile, nobody knew.

“Good job, Gokudera-kun, that makes me really happy. Let’s get back to my house, okay? We need to wrap up these injuries.” He held up his hands, which were covered in first and second degree burns, and gestured to the singes on Gokudera’s arms and legs.

#

Tsuna, I thought you weren’t going to encourage a secondary shounen-ai plot device. Because that looks an awful lot like what’s going on right now.

Tsuna shrugged internally, leading Gokudera by the hand and resolutely not looking at the sparkly unconscious people that littered the ground of the park. He once again dodged the woman handing out flyers, quickly pulling his friend away before he could grab one, and almost raced up the steps to his house to avoid the ghost on the corner.

Now he knew why his mom was always so hard on him about not making friends. It was exhausting keeping them out of trouble.

‘Well, my friend, I can’t exactly keep him from accidentally starting a plot any other way. You’re absolutely correct, I don’t want this to turn into a shounen-ai in any way, shape, or form until the main plotline is over and through. It’d be too distracting.’

Then how do you expect to keep this from developing into a romance?

‘Right now, Gokudera’s feeling are way too superficial to be anything. We literally became friends twelve minutes ago. In the future, if I have his characterization down correctly, he’ll have too much respect for me to make the first move unless I indicate I’m interested. It’ll be fine as long as I don’t show any romantic or sexual interest in the future. Hell, I don’t even know Gokudera’s preferences. For all I know, he could just think I’m pretty and there could be nothing else behind it.’

The voice hummed as Tsuna and Gokudera slipped off their shoes. You know if you think that way and keep this up you’ll eventually end up with a harem, right? How on earth do you expect to satisfy so many people?

Tsuna snorted. ‘I mean, considering that I’m both fourteen and a subby-sub-sub-sandwich I don’t really see the problem with- oh shit gotta go mom’s here and she’s pissed.’

Nana eyed the burns on her son’s hands and the dangerous looking boy behind him(who was looking at Tsuna like he’d hung the moon and the sun and the planets in the sky- cute, but worrying) and felt herself tear up. “Tell me you didn’t.”

Tsuna looked devastated at the tears in her eyes, but he shook his head and moved to the kitchen to get the first aid kit. “It started the day Reborn arrived, mom, and it insists on continuing. I can’t stop it now. None of us can.” The plot had a mind of it’s own, and it wouldn’t be discouraged now, not now that he had made a friend from the story line. It was far too late to call anything off now.

Nana swept out of the room, silent tears streaming down her face, and Gokudera, bless his soul, looked hopelessly confused from where Tsuna had sat him down at the kitchen table. “What was that about, Tsuna-kun?”

Tsuna smiled tightly, sitting down across from his new friend and beginning to wrap Gokudera’s injured hands. “Nothing, Gokudera-kun. Absolutely nothing.”

#

From his perch on top of the light fixture, Reborn watched his student and his new friend bond over stories and injuries, pointing out old scars and laughing at past absurdities.

He tossed a spent shell casing up and down in his hand, thinking back to the fight between the two boys. How he had shot a dying will bullet into Tsuna’s head.

How it had vaporized on impact, leaving no trace behind.

He gazed down at the confusing teen, expression unreadable.

Absolutely nothing, indeed.

Chapter Text

Takeshi stood in front of his mirror, smiling tearfully and fakefakefake shifting from foot to foot, scratching the back of his head, like this was something he could brush off, like the cast on his arm was a decoration instead of a reminder that he was a failure.

He bowed his head, smile dropping off his face to be replaced with a look of disgust, anger, sorrowlongingregret-

If he didn’t have baseball, what did he have?

His dresser creaked from the tightness of his fingers gripping the wood.

“I should have listened to Sawada.”

#

Tsuna, although he should have expected it, was surprised when he found Gokudera waiting outside for him. The older teen murmured a quiet good morning to him and fell into step beside and slightly behind him. They chatted about insignificant things on their walk, quietly meandering around potholes and plot holes and making it to school just in time to avoid Hibari-san’s tonfas, although he did give them both the gimlet eye as they hustled through the front doors.

They made it to class early(for Tsuna), and instead of moving to his seat on the other side of the class Gokudera literally picked someone up, set them on their feet, and took their spot right next to Tsuna’s desk. When the looked like they were going to protest, Gokudera shot them a soul-shattering glare and they shut up without a word, scurrying to their new desk.

Tsuna sighed as the inevitable whispers started up at the exchange. He twirled a pencil in his fingers. “You know, Gokudera-kun, if you wanted a new desk that badly I’m sure Nezu-sensei would have been happy to switch the seating chart up for you.” He smiled gently as he teased the other boy, letting him know that he didn’t really mean it.

Gokudera grinned right back, smaller but no less genuine. The whispers kicked up even higher. “Well, Tsuna-kun, I find that this method is much more quick and effective.”

Tsuna reached over and poked his cheek, practically beaming. “I’ve never sat by a friend in class before, this should be fun.”

Gokudera hesitantly swatted at his hand, smile widening when he realized that, yes, teasing back at Tsuna just made the boy happier; that he wasn’t going to snap at Gokudera just because Gokudera had slightly stepped over the bounds of mafia etiquette. Tsuna wasn’t in the mafia, not yet, and even then, would he care? He’d said they were friends, equals, and for the first time he could begin to believe it.

He’d never had a real friend before.

He blinked away tears quickly and gave Tsuna the biggest, brightest smile he could muster without breaking down.

“Yeah, me neither.”

#

Takeshi, from his place across the classroom, watched the exchange out of the corner of his eye, heart aching behind the smile he gave to his notnotnotfriends. God, what had happened between the two of them? Didn’t Sawada-kun jump out the window yesterday trying to avoid Gokudera-san? Where had this easy camaraderie come from?

Why couldn’t he have something like that?

#

Tsuna, go to the roof right now.

Tsuna paused, a bite of his bento halfway to his mouth. ‘Um, why?’

TSUNA GO TO THE ROOF RIGHT N O W.

Tsuna winced and set down his lunch, running to the stairs. ‘Ouch, okay, I’m going! Can you at least tell me why?’ He took them two at a time, head throbbing. Gokudera followed right behind, shouting in concern.

He slammed the door to the roof open, freezing at the sight of Yamamoto Takeshi.

Yamamoto Takeshi, sling wrapped arm and all, standing at the edge of the roof.

‘Oh,’ he breathed. ‘That’s why.’

“Gokudera-kun,” he muttered quietly, “go back downstairs.”

“But Tsuna-kun-”

“Now, please, Gokudera-kun.” He shut the door to the roof in the bomber’s face.

Yamamoto smiled, one of his easy fake grins coming to his face. “Hey Sawada-kun.”

#

His smile slowly slipped off when Tsuna didn’t reply. Tsuna just stared at him, an inscrutable expression on his face, and for the first time in a long, long time Takeshi got mad.

“Well, Sawada-kun? Are you going to say something?” He waved his bandaged arm in the air, giving a slight wince as he did so. “Going to tell me about how I should have listened to you? How it’s all my fault and if I had just fucking listened to you I wouldn’t have-”

He violently wiped away a tear that had started to trickle down his face. “-wouldn’t have to jump off this fucking ledge because I’m nothing without baseball?”

Tsuna hesitantly took a step forward. “Yamamoto-kun, of course I’m not going to tell you any of those things.”

Takeshi blinked, slightly startled. “Why not?”

Tsuna smiled, achingly sad, and Takeshi felt the hole in his chest where feelings were supposed to go twinge a little bit. “Well, because none of them are true, of course. You don’t have to be a baseball star to be worth something, Yamamoto-kun, you just have to be you. Nothing you can do will ever be more important than you yourself.”

“How would you know? You’re so good at everything.You’re Magic-Tsuna! You’ve probably never felt the way I do, like you’re worthless without your special talent.”

Tsuna leaned over and glanced at the crowd that had gathered underneath them, silently waiting for him to leap. And, inside his mind, he took a deep breath and made a leap of his own.

“Actually, Yamamoto-kun,” he murmured, just quietly enough to be heard, “I’ve thought about killing myself almost every other day for the past eight years. And, unfortunately, I can’t, because my death would start a guaranteed sequence of events that would be even worse than living could ever be.” For him, dying would automatically start some sort of ghost plotline. He’d either have to find some way back to life, or become the focus of some divine comedy, or fight demons as a spirit detective or something like that, and compared to all his other options those seemed the worst. That didn’t make the idea of ending his life on his terms, and giving a giant middle finger to the anime he was living in, any less appealing.

Takeshi’s grip in the chain link fence tightened. Blood started to drip from his palm. “But… why would you want to kill yourself? You have the perfect life! I’ve always wanted to be like you.”

Tsuna’s face went blank with shock. “You- you want to be like me??? But- I thought you hated me!”

They stared at each other, both absolutely spellbound, and before Takeshi could stop himself he opened his mouth and the words started spilling out like a rainstorm falling from the clouds.

“Sawada-kun, I’ve been jealous of you since the day we met! You’re so nice to everyone, and you have so many friends, and you always know just what to say to make everyone laugh, and you do so good at schoolwork, and… you’ve always been the better version of what I’ve tried to be my whole life and you do it so effortlessly. Why am I here, why do I bother trying anymore?” He felt more tears slip down his cheeks, and this time he made no move to wipe them away.

“Who would miss me when they have you?”

He turned, preparing to end their conversation, his life, everything, when Tsuna’s small voice called out from behind him.

“I would.”

He froze. “W-what?”

Tsuna hesitated, like he didn’t quite know if he should be talking at all, but he visibly gathered himself together. “I-I would miss you. I would miss you so much Yamamoto-kun. God, I would never be able to stop missing you, if you died. I’ve wanted to be your friend for so long, Yamamoto-kun, and I never even tried because I thought you despised me!” He laughed wetly, a hint of hysteria in his voice. “I always thought that you’d never, ever want to be friends with someone like me, who’d never had a real friend until yesterday, who never showed anyone their true feelings, whose life is so messed up that they can’t even have real interactions with people.” Tsuna found himself blinking back tears. “So I never tried to be a real friend to you, because I thought that you could see what I was really like and decided you wanted someone better than me.”

He quickly rubbed his tears away, staring at Takeshi with sad and empty eyes. “I know that this might be coming too little too late, Yamamoto-kun, but I want to help. I want to help you be happy. I want to be your friend. I know that I might not be enough for you, and I won’t blame you if I’m not. How could I be, after everything I’ve done to you without even knowing it? But,” he opened his arms, like he was offering a hug, offering himself. “I- I want to try. I want to be selfish, and have you as a friend, Yamamoto-kun, as a real friend.” He smiled, trembling, about to break down. “If you’ll let me.”

“I-” don’t know.

He turned.

“I’m not-” sure I’m worth it.

He hesitantly leaned forward, stuck a foot out over empty air.

“I can’t-” be everything everyone needs me to be. It’s hard. It’s so hard.

Tsuna smiled, the tears on his face glistening in the morning sunlight like diamonds, arms still open wide. Even though Takeshi didn’t- couldn’t- say the words aloud, Tsuna seemed to hear them anyway. “I know, Yamamoto-kun. I know. It’s okay. You don’t need to be anything for anyone anymore. Just you is enough for me.”

Takeshi leaned forward, felt himself fall-

-caught himself on his stumble down from the ledge, pushed off the hard cement of the roof, and threw himself at Tsuna.

Tsuna caught Yamamoto and lowered them until they were sitting, and then he let Yamamoto wrap himself around his own smaller frame and just cry. The baseball star clung to him like a lifeline, like Tsuna was all he had left, and maybe Tsuna was. Tsuna wrapped his arms around the other boy just as tightly, let Yamamoto know he was wanted, and carded his fingers through Yamamoto’s soft dark hair, whispering softly.

It’s alright, it’s okay, I’ve got you. I’ll always have you. You’ll always have me, too. Even if everyone leaves you to rot, you will always have me. I will never betray you, I won’t ever leave you, you’ll never be alone again. You’re mine now, and I take care of what’s mine. Don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry. It’s not your fault, it was never your fault, and I need you to know that the world would be so much worse without you. I would be so much worse without you. We’re each other’s, now, and we’ll always be together, even if the whole world is against us. You’re mine, and I’m yours. I’m yours, I’m yours, I’m yours.

And, with every beautiful, genuine word, Takeshi cried a little harder, clung a little tighter, felt a little more of the hole in his chest fill up.

I’m okay, now that you’re here. You brought me back. I’m safe, I’m here, I’ll never go again. God, I’m so stupid, I almost left the world that had you in it. I never knew how good you were, and I almost never did. Thank you. You saved me. You didn’t have to, you could have stood aside like everyone else, but you didn’t. You saw something worth saving in me, and I don’t know what it is right now, but I’m going to find it. I’m going to be better, for you. As long as I have you, I can be better, I can be good, I can be me. I hope with everything I am that you meant what you said, because now that I have you, I can’t ever let you go again. I’d break without you. All of me, everything that I am and will ever be, it’s all for you, now. I’m yours, I’m yours, I’m yours.

#

Two boys sat on a roof, one as big and accepting as the sky, the other a rainstorm, fit to burst, that could finally let itself go. And they sat, and they cried, and it was good.

They had each other, now.

#

Gokudera, who had been sitting on the stairs to the roof and smoking quietly, stood quickly when the door opened, crushing his cigarette under his boot. He looked both of the boys up and down. Tsuna-kun seemed to be okay, thank the lord, Gokudera wouldn’t know what he would do if he’d lost such a precious person just a day after he had found him. The other boy- Gokudera didn’t know his name and didn’t quite care, either- seemed to be shaken, and was probably in need of some food and water after an ordeal like that. In fact, both of them could probably use something to drink, if the multitude of tear stains on their faces were any indication.

“Tsuna-kun, are you okay? Did this guy make you cry? Do you need me to get you anything?”

Tsuna just smiled, that beautiful, beautiful smile that made Gokudera’s heart ache with the force of it, and shook his head.

“No, Gokudera-kun. Thank you. We’re okay.”

We’re okay.