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Arc I: A lot to learn

Chapter 1

 

Tsuna likes Italy.

Perhaps it's how different everything is from what he's used to or how he came to be here at the start of spring instead of any other season, but the statement stays true so far. He really likes it.

The air is turning chill now and the wind's a bit harsher; people now wear their large coats and the use of fancy hats is more common than before. It's all still very lively though. People look serious when he walks next to them or he sees them waiting for the train, but as soon as they see someone they know, it's like a switch is flipped and they, unlike most Japanese, get all loud as they greet.

It's nice.

Especially now that he can appreciate it. After all, he has two jobs and receives enough money to rent a place to sleep and buy food, along with some extra to save. The coat he wears is the only one he has, dark blue with orange buttons and fur, cheap but really warm. He's saving to buy a thicker one for winter, but the gloves and his scarf are enough for now.

"Natsu, your order."

He stops fiddling with his scarf and lifts his head. He gives a quick smile as he takes a mug of watered down coffee and a small sandwich before he's left alone as the server attends to the other people inside the bar. Tsuna moves a little to the side but doesn't go to sit like others do. The smell of the smoke coming from the cigars is common inside the bars and is perhaps the only thing he doesn't like about Italy. That's why he tries to not go as often, preferring to wake up earlier and make his own breakfast instead of standing as close as he can to Zaid, the barista, where the smell of the coffee is stronger than the smoke.

He finishes quickly and waves a goodbye, promising to see them later for his shift, before he moves to leave. His intuition tingles though and he stays close to the door. He doesn't know why it wants him to stay, but he's learned his intuition is stronger than it was so it's become something of a daily occurrence for it to go off and make him do things that apparently doesn't make any sense. Until it does. It's a bit creepy, frankly. But so far it's never been wrong.

He just hopes that whatever it is now, it comes quickly because the smell of the person smoking at the next table over is making him dizzy.

Two agonizing minutes later, his answer comes in the form of a little boy of perhaps four or five years. His eyes are red and watery, constantly sniffing as he comes close to the glass doors. He takes a peek inside, looking incredibly lost and panicky and then moves away.

Tsuna follows him.

"Are you okay, kid?"

The street is mostly empty and he's close enough that the kid knows he's talking to him. He stares at him with wide eyes and seems unsure of what to do next. Tsuna kneels and, seeing his neck is unprotected, takes his scarf off and wraps it around the kid's neck.

"My name is Natsu," he says carefully, making sure his words are not too accented for the kid to understand. "Are you lost?"

The question apparently breaks something inside the kid because he barely gives a nod before straight out bawling. Tsuna startles, but he comforts the kid quickly. He doesn't think this kid has a hidden grenade on his person but it's almost automatic for him to fear kid's tears so he calms him in a way that comes from experience.

Mateo is his name and from what he understands he lost his mom when they were in the street market across the street. She told him they were going to buy some food so he's been looking in the stores for her.

Tsuna is kind of lucky the kid's Italian is simple enough for him to understand, even with the kid blubbering as he is.

He grabs the kid's hand and looks from side to side. His intuition is not directing him anywhere so it probably feels its job is done and he has to do it the hard way or is deciding to wait until he's near his objective to bother giving him directions.

With a sigh, he returns to the bar to grab something for the kid before they go to search in the market.

He asks Mateo about school and his friends.


His daily routine hasn't changed that much since he created it a couple weeks after coming to Italy and getting his first job. It isn't hard to follow as it was those first few days and he even takes some comfort from it now. The mornings are no longer too silent; the nights, too lonely. There isn't desperation and that sense of urgency he used to wear like a cloak every day. Always searching. Always wandering.

It's better.

He's better.

Most likely because life in Italy is busy. People don't seem to have free time as they go around working to gain enough money to survive and have some extra. They're punctual to a fault and respect schedules to a T. That's part of why his days are always quite full of things to do. He doesn't have any time for his thoughts to wander—that's what the routine is for after all. And besides, it's not like he has another alternative.

So he wakes at eight and goes to work at nine, the only thing changing being what type of tea he's going to have for breakfast. Then off he goes to his job as a hotel housekeeper until he returns for lunch to quickly prepare something quick unless he's cooked the night before. His presence at the bar is not needed until four so he uses that time to check the newspapers of the previous day he collects from the hotel and gives a bored glance to every article, only stopping when he catches something interesting or when his intuition goes off.

He cuts the articles and announcements, stashing them inside a cheap album he bought for the Japanese word 'perseverance' written on the front.

Its use will probably come later. His intuition is crafty like that. It's also the only thing that he lets change his routine. Most times, those changes are minimal or subtle enough to be deemed as unimportant. In other cases, they're too great and confusing in ways he hasn't experienced before. Like the time it guided him to what would be his job at the hotel.

That day his intuition had nudged him to a park in front of a hotel, specifically towards a bench in which a tired man was talking on a big phone, discussing about how they needed to search for someone to wash the dishes before the end of the day. There was a tugging going on at the back of his head and from there it only took a bit to wait until the man was done with his call to hesitantly offer his help.

The man had accepted quickly, seemingly not caring he was fifteen years old. Tsuna later found out that that day a buffet was going on, so that explained the why. In a any case, he did a good job and the man was pleased enough to offer him a steady position to wash the dishes. It only took a few weeks from there for him to move into cleaning the rooms.

That's why Tsuna isn't surprised when his intuition makes him tell his boss that the next day he will arrive a bit late, even when the request seems to be oddly specific. Not even when it leads him to walk to a faraway shop that sold coffee beans and all the accessories to make a good cup.

It does make him a bit annoyed that in the end he only has enough money left to buy only a sandwich for lunch. His intuition is kind of a dick to not let him know he needed to carry more money that day. It isn't as if he can return home either, not if he doesn't want to be late for his next shift.

The coffee beans' smell is strong and covering it with his scarf hasn't done anything to keep the odor away from the small locker he has in the bar. That scarf is a new one and now it stinks damnit. But… but he isn't going to go against his intuition. So he suffers the coffee induced headache with irritated resignation and when he reaches his apartment he shoves it inside an empty can where there were once cookies and tries to forget about them.

He hopes leaving his scarf to air inside the bathroom with the window open will make the smell go away.

(It doesn't)

The next day starts with him once again wondering if his intuition is insane. Or a sadist. Maybe both. Perhaps being around insane sadists has turned his intuition that way? It is, after all, the only reason why he chose the small apartment he now lives in. And he's not mentioning it because of the not so nice neighbors he has to interact with on a daily basis.

At least he's already used to the sound of guns and the tell-tale sound of people getting his ass kicked.

Maybe he should feel lucky he's not the one getting his ass kicked.

Coffee, his intuition tells him in the way that suggests he should make it instead of trying to sleep. After all drinking coffee at three in the morning is something normal to do.

He continues staring at the dark ceiling for long minutes as the buzz inside his head grows in volume, considering. He sighs when it becomes hard to ignore. Tsuna is too tired to not follow its orders, he decides as he gets up. That and coffee sounds really good this early—

(Later, he will become to regret turning on the light of his lamp in the middle of what's clearly a fight.)

—But of course that isn't all. His intuition doesn't want cheap coffee after all. It's clearly nudging at the stuff he bought to make a more authentically Italian one. He tries to reach for the cheap powder stuff anyway but it hisses like an angry cat and makes a headache form between his eyes.

It wouldn't be his life without his intuition growing pickier as it becomes stronger.

So he works on the beans. He's not an expert. Doesn't know about preparing different types of coffee-drinks like a barista can, but -And this is an important but- he can make a really good espresso. He was trained to make it for a specific and really picky person and he's proud of being told by his sadistic tutor that his coffee was acceptable.

Acceptable for him is what a normal human calls god-like espresso.

He's almost done when the gunshots stop. No more shouting can be heard aside from some angry mutterings so whoever pissed the fairly new drug lord living near is probably dead.

Tsuna feels guilty that the silence makes him almost sigh in relief.

Not that it lasts, of course.

There's a knock on his door. Two knocks, actually. Sharp and determined. Tsuna tilts his head but his intuition is oddly silent. And for some reason eager, too. It's disconcerting, but his intuition isn't kicking up a fuss so, Tsuna supposes he can check out who is outside. The locks are simple, but they will do the job if someone tries to barge in. Not that he expects trouble as his intuition would have let him know.

Though apparently he's forgotten how much of a douche his intuition is becoming as he also doesn't expect to greet a gun as soon as he opens the door.

The angry mutterings are slightly louder with the door open, but he ignores it in favor of the very big, very real gun aimed at his face.

A long second passes with him just staring the black, shiny and slightly wet object.

"Open the door," a deep voice says, startling him so badly he lets out an 'eep' like sound as he remembers that usually there's a person attached to a gun. Robots are not that common, after all. At least in these times.

Tsuna glances up, finds dark eyes under messy wet hair glaring at him and opens the door enough for the other to enter. He stumbles back once he's done, giving the man in a suit space. Tsuna then watches him as he checks the aisle one more time before closing the door and giving a once over to his apartment, his eyes briefly stopping at the boiling water before he continues his assessment. Once he's done he grabs the cushion on top of his couch-made-bed and takes off the cover. He places it on top of his lamp. The light diminishes greatly but not completely like it would have had he put the light out.

It's in those short seconds that Tsuna notices the way the hand not holding the gun is pressed tightly to the man's side. His clothes are wet and the suit is too dark to notice, but he's fairly sure there's blood under it.

"Um, w-would you like some b-bandages?"

He squeaks as soon as that gaze is back to him and lifts his hands up in the universal sign of surrender. Not that he can look any weaker with the lion's slippers he's wearing.

The man's attention lingers on the bandages covering his right hand before he says, "Do you have a kit?"

Tsuna doesn't exactly breathe out in relief as he nods, but the sagging of his shoulders at seeing the gun lower implies it. He smiles a little bit, strained and shy as he points at a lower drawer of the cabinet. The man moves towards it and looks inside, free hand exploring, while at the same time he makes sure he's not moving. He doesn't know how he does it when he's practically giving him his back but it's more than a little creepy.

"You're well packed," the man says, checking the small bag with his supplies.

"I'm very, um, clumsy?"

"A clumsy boy living by himself in a bad neighborhood. Looks like the start of a horror movie."

I just hope I'm not the character that dies at the start of the movie, he thinks, momentarily amazed at how the man can take off his jacket with just a hand while making it seem graceful. It's so unfair. He's even wounded!

Wait.

Tsuna looks from the jacket the man is taking off to the wound no longer being pressed, and takes a step forwards. There's a silent 'click' echoing in the room—the sound of the safety gone. It makes him remember that the gun is still being aimed at him. He stops, hands still high.

"I, uh, I could help you. I mean! I-I mean that you need help, right? You can't do it with just one hand… right?"

Actually, he's not entirely sure. Something tells him the man is actually capable of doing exactly that and more. The man even looks offended. Okay, no. His face is blank—no emotion appearing on his face, but his intuition tells him that and his intuition is never wrong. That may be why he's ready to apologize. The Japanese words translate into Italian in his brain, faster than normal thanks to the adrenaline. He opens his mouth but the 'mi dispiace' is stuck in his throat when he hears the whistle of the kettle.

As if guided by a puppeteer, Tsuna goes to the kitchen and turns off the stove. It's not until he's lifting the kettle that he realizes he ignored the man with a freaking gun inside his apartment. He blames the training he's had to endure to make a decent cup of coffee.

He slowly turns his head towards the man. "Um, would you like some coffee?"

The man doesn't snort, perhaps is too beneath him, but the thought is definitely there.

"Sure," he says, his shirt already unbuttoned and his hands testing a pair of weird looking scissors Tsuna doesn't remember buying. It doesn't matter. Tsuna turns around, trying to ignore the squeaking sound he hears behind him as he pours the water on the coffee as he's been taught. The dripper is new but he hopes the flavor is not too off because of it.

It takes him three minutes to finish, minutes he's used to gain enough courage to turn around to see how the man holding him at gunpoint while taking a bullet from some part of his torso is doing.

He's doing fine, apparently. His posture is relaxed on the chair, almost lazy. If it weren't for the blood marring his shirt, Tsuna wouldn't even know he'd been shot.

Tsuna takes the two tiny cups he surprisingly found yesterday in orange instead of the usual white and serves the coffee. He doesn't want to sit at the same table with the man so he drinks while standing. The drink is bitter as usual, but it's familiar and that's nice. He already feels a bit more awake.

The man places his gun on the table, on his side, and takes a sip of his own when he sees Tsuna take one first. Tsuna takes the lift of an eyebrow on the man's face as pleasant surprise. And while Tsuna would normally beam with pride, the gun nearby makes it difficult.

"What's your name?"

Tsuna almost jumps. "What?"

The man doesn't repeat himself, but his gaze becomes almost piercing. Tsuna considers what to say for a second. His intuition doesn't consider the man as a threat strangely, but still tells him to not give his real name. It's not a soft nudge as most suggestions are, but more of a shove. It surprises him. Perhaps a little too much. His mind comes up blank for a name that isn't 'Natsu', which he already uses for his jobs and to meet others. He probably needs another one especially for this kind of people.

A dream comes to the front of his mind. A recurring memory full of desperation and—

"Be the Sky that will change it all, little Ozora."

"Uh, Ozora?"

"Are you asking me or telling me?"

"No?" Cringing inside at the questioning tone in which was his answer, he almost misses the way the other signals his empty cup with a smile. Well, not exactly a smile. It's a tiny thing, barely a twitch of the lips, but for some reason it still fills Tsuna with a wave of nostalgia. It makes him want to reach for the object hidden in the left pocket of his pants and grip it tightly. He doesn't though.

"Fill it up then, Ozora."

Tsuna yelps and looks up. The man is standing close, placing the cup near as he moves to wash his bloodied hand. Tsuna does as he's asked and returns it to him; espresso up to the brim. He then silently studies him as the man glances outside the window that resembles more a door than anything. Tsuna himself tries to peek, but doesn't see anything. The gunshots are gone as is the angry muttering and Tsuna would normally shrug it off as everything being over, but the man is narrowing his eyes at one spot and his intuition is telling him to not move any closer if he doesn't want to be seen.

It's also pointing out the bathroom to him.

Oh, right.

"Um, there's a window in the bathroom." The man doesn't turn but Tsuna can feel his attention on him as if he had. "I once used it to come inside because I forgot my keys," he adds, if only because the silence is oppressing. "Though you're still injured, so I don't know if you… um, well, I'm sure you're perfectly capable of—I mean, you can use it. If you want. Though you can also stay for a little bit to rest too, I guess."

The man turns around in the middle of his rambling and watches him intently. Tsuna wants to look down. He wants to really badly. Even more so when he finishes talking. The memories of a green mallet is enough to stop him from doing it though. He still lowers his head, if only a tad.

"It was smart of you to not give your real name. Offering your home is not."

"Oh." Tsuna scratches his cheek. It does sound stupid for someone who doesn't know him, but he can't exactly explain that his intuition is telling him the man's not… well. He doesn't know how to explain it aside from— "Y-You just don't seem like a bad person. Dangerous, sure, but not, uh… a bad person."

And he means it. The man wears danger like he wears his tailored suit. He'd normally say 'like a second skin', but it doesn't seem fitting for some reason. And while it's frightening how heavy and almost physical his presence is, he doesn't feel like a bad person. Just a scary one. And he's sure the man can take off that intimidating aura, no matter how well it fits or how much pride he has in it. Just like the suit he wears.

(It wouldn't surprise him if the man had a suit-like pajama. Something tells him he loves suits that much.)

His eyes are cold, but not dead. Not cruel and—And he's staring, Tsuna realizes.

With a jerk he looks at his lukewarm coffee and drinks it in one go, hoping that his eyes stayed brown as he lets the bitter taste wake him up from his pondering.

There's an almost inaudible huff of amusement coming from the man and Tsuna can see him moving from his peripheral vision, walking towards his bathroom.

So the window it is.

Tsuna waits a couple seconds before he follows him. An empty room greets him. The window is slightly ajar, cold air seeping inside. The room smells faintly of coffee but it isn't caused by the empty orange cup next to the sink. He glances up where his scarf is still airing. Then he closes the window, not bothering to glance outside as he retrieves the cup.

Normally, he'd sigh in relief but his intuition tells him he's going to meet that man again.

He sighs in resignation instead.


Again apparently being the next day in the afternoon. Because that's when the man appears, sitting on one of his two chairs and asking for another cup of coffee.

He literally just appears.

One moment Tsuna is searching for the scissors inside his kitchen to cut some articles he's been reading; the next, he returns to his living room/bedroom and finds him there checking the newspapers on top of his table, looking as if there's nothing wrong. He's wearing a similar dark suit than the one from the day before. Only less bloody and wet, a fedora resting on his head, shading his eyes away from Tsuna.

Tsuna squeaks in surprise obviously, his scissors falling to the ground.

"What are you—How did you—" he stops himself again and runs to his bathroom. The window is closed as it was in the morning before he left for his job. There's no sign that someone has forcefully entered, but if his intuition is right (and it always is), the man used it to enter.

"Aren't you going to serve me some coffee, Ozora? I'm a guest."

"You're not a guest!" he yells, but then a gun is once again aimed at his forehead in an almost unconscious habit. Tsuna is so used to having a gun pointed at him that it doesn't bother him. So he grumbles and goes to fill the kettle with some water. Takes the grinder from the cupboard and the bag of smelly coffee beans from the cookie can. The dripper and the paper filters are luckily at hand from the day before.

A couple minutes later, he's serving a cup of coffee to the stranger. He leaves the coffee kettle on the table (not to be mistaken with the water kettle with the funny-looking thin neck) before he returns to cut the articles he wanted.

He can ask why he came back, but something tells him it really is because of his coffee. And perhaps some curiosity, too. Tsuna already knows the how so he doesn't think a conversation about that is necessary. Especially when he has a limited amount of time to cut the articles before he needs to get ready for his other job.

He can't believe he actually misses school.

"You're surprisingly calm for someone who has a man who held him at gunpoint the day before inside his apartment drinking coffee."

Tsuna looks up from where he's folding a piece of paper, his eyes completely ignoring the gun on top of the table. It's a reasonable question, he thinks. Maybe a tad too reasonable. Normally he would despair at how strange his life has gotten that the presence of assassins who once threatened him don't count as something to be alarmed of in his mind. He probably is going to do it, in the safety of his covers at night anyways. But, well, he's tired. One of the guys called in sick, so there were only three people cleaning and today there was going to be an influx of customers for some reason. All morning he's had to prepare almost all the empty rooms to receive them. So yeah, he's Tired.

(The irony of having a job in cleaning while he's never been a tidy person is not lost on him.)

"Hard day at work," is his answer. He then scratches the side of his neck with a sheepish smile at the raised eyebrow he gets. "I think I'm getting used to weird things, too."

For some reason saying that makes him even more tired. He bumps his head against the table and mopes about the craziness that is his life. He mumbles about defibrillators in the morning, poisoned food for lunch and explosions at night. A possible wail of 'why' may have been included in the end before he returns to his cutting.

The man looks too amused at his despair to be normal. He twirls a weird looking sideburn with a finger and for a long, embarrassing moment he can't help but stare at it.

The click of the safety going off makes him refocus. "Is there a problem with my sideburns?"

Are they naturally that curly? He wants to ask, but appreciates living too much to do so, of course. He instead mumbles how they're kind of adorable, which is not better. The man thinks the same because he then shoots at him, just enough to graze his cheek. Normally, Tsuna would be terrified, but the action is so familiar he looks dumbly at him instead. Now that he's no longer dripping wet, Tsuna studies him. He takes note of the suit and the fedora first. The unimpressed stare, second and the curly sideburns last.

Oh my god. He's just met Reborn's dad!

His surprised face must be too annoying to look at, because the man shoots at him again. At least he now knows where Reborn got it from.

Tsuna really hopes he's not a magnet for sadists. He has enough to deal with by being a trouble magnet.


The stranger he suspects is Reborn's dad, unsurprisingly, becomes something of a fixture of his day to day basis. Well, except for those long days he goes missing, but he always returns and sometimes even brings newspapers from other parts of Italy (and other countries of Europe) from his trips. Tsuna would think it's his way of paying for the coffee but he's already the one buying the coffee beans, so he doesn't. Thinking he's doing it because he's being nice makes something crawl up his spine so he always erases the thought with vigor before it forms.

Another strange thing about him is that he doesn't give his name, ever. Tsuna goes as far as asking politely. The man tells him to call him whatever he wants, but he does it with a tone that suggests pain if he doesn't like it.

Tsuna calls him Stranger-san.

Stranger-san calls him unimaginative.


"Will it help? If we all join… will it help?"

"Perhaps. Perhaps not. There's not a connection between them. It doesn't matter the amount of energy you can gather or—"

"How, then?! Isn't there another option?"

"It depends in what are you willing to sacrifice."

"Not my friends."

"Then what about yourself?"

"… Yes."

Chapter Text

Chapter 2

Tsuna has been feeling twitchy all day. His intuition is constantly buzzing. Not in the way it does when there's imminent danger, but more of a reminder that he's… vulnerable, at the moment. He watches everything he can as he mops the floor of the kitchen, his gaze constantly going to the door that leads to the bar. And perhaps he's lucky the bar isn't full enough for the others to need his help; he doesn't think he would be able to function with people around him.

He's forgotten his necklace. The one that hides his flames from prying people. He's not in Sicily or Naples, home of the mafia and most flame users, but he's close enough to be nervous.

"You're a Sky; that's enough reason you'll need to hide your nature."

His hands unconsciously fumble for the empty space around his neck as he gives another once over of the room.

An arm sets around his shoulders and the brief squeeze is enough to not make him jump out of his skin. "What's wrong, kid?"

Trying to calm his breathing, Tsuna looks up at Antonio-san, one of his coworkers. Not for the first time Tsuna's glad he's had Yamamoto as a friend because thanks to him he doesn't look uncomfortable with the easy display of affection Italians seem to like. Or at least not much. He still goes red whenever someone kisses him on the cheeks in greeting.

"Natsu?"

Tsuna blinks before attempting a smile. If the way Antonio raises an amused eyebrow is anything to go by, it comes out more than a little strained. "I'm fine, just, um… feeling a bit nostalgic, I guess."

He doesn't believe him, it seems. Or maybe he confused the words again. Italian is hard.

"Whatever, kiddo. Just tell me if you need something. You've cleaned the same spot for five minutes already. Zaid's getting worried."

Tsuna blushes and glances to the bar to meet Zaid's concerned frown as he hands a cup of something to a client. He waves with a smile before returning his attention to Antonio-san. "Sorry."

"Don't worry. Though if you're really feeling nostalgic, there's a small, new place around the block that makes good Asian food, if you want."

Tsuna doesn't mention the place is a Chinese one and he's Japanese, the intention is clear. He nods. "Sure. I'm feeling too lazy to cook anyways."

With a pat on his back, Antonio goes back to the bar before the boss notices he's gone and left the new girl alone with Zaid to attend, not caring how few clients there are. Though he's glad Antonio approached him; he's feeling better. He thinks if Antonio was flame active, he'd be a Rain.

With a small, sad smile, he rubs absently at his neck before returning to work.

Chinese is not Japanese food, but maybe something more familiar will do him good. He remembers his mother making some Chinese food for I-pin.

Yeah, he'll go.

- x -

He doesn't know how he ended buying Mapu tofu when he's not fond of spicy food. He hasn't even tried it! However despite the apparent love-hate relationship he has going on with his Intuition since coming to Italy, he trusts it. Perhaps it's one of the only things he truly trusts in this country. So he hopes this is the way of his intuition to atone for all the trouble it's making him suffer. Perhaps he'll even end up loving the Mapu!

(He's not that positive)

With a sigh, he touches his chest like he does whenever he feels lonely, just concentrating on that faint warmth where he can feel his friend's frozen flames; it reminds him that everything he's experienced was real. He's never truly paid it attention before with all the commotion going on in his life, but here, alone, it's the only thing that grounds him.

A loud, pained scream startles him. The soft press of his hand against his chest turns into a fist. He looks from side to side but his brain doesn't recognize the place where he is. The walls are dark and grimy, barely keeping the cool autumn winds at bay, but the cold still remains, making him press his hands against each other to keep them warm.

As if splashed with a bucket of water, it comes to his realization that he's lost. He's walked with his eyes closed before with his intuition to guide him, so what just happened?

The sound of fighting echoed around the walls. The grunts and pained yelps becoming less while the gunshots turned more frequent. And Tsuna just wants to run away from it.

He doesn't though. His intuition tells him to stay. In the same way it tells him to check for the milk before it expires and helps him choose which fruit is the best. The same way it directs him when he's lost and tells him to move when he's in danger.

In the same way it made him grab a girl's arm so she wouldn't fall face down in the street and helped him find Mateo's mom.

Besides, this time it feels more… important, in a way.

There's been times his intuition has just led him to random people. People whom the help they needed wasn't physical. Those were the anxious, the nervous; the ones whom he couldn't leave behind because he would always remember Yamamoto standing on the edge of the roof, needing someone to tell him everything will be fine, he was doing enough—he mattered.

(It reminds him of those first weeks trying to find his way in a place he didn't know, searching for ways to survive while not being able to rely on his own instincts, too on edge to be of help—his flames were too powerful for his body, too scorching hot all the time, but still not enough to hide the cold inside his chest, always heavy and oppressive, making him constantly search for some warmth to ease it)

Obviously he couldn't go to try to offer comfort because he was a stranger to the people he met. It would be meaningless coming from him. It didn't stop him from trying to help, though.

So Tsuna provided distraction for the ones too worried and tense, offered someone to talk to the ones who wanted it. He even had to use his harmony factor sometimes for the ones who just needed to clear their emotions—find their balance. It was an excellent practice for his flames in their hidden state, if nothing else.

So yeah, even with the cold dread he's feeling, Tsuna plans to continue walking until the sounds of flesh hitting flesh are around the corner. He stops there. His heart is loud in his ears, as is his breathing, but he doesn't move. He doesn't have that feeling of urgency he gets when someone is in danger so he's sure that whoever is beating those people doesn't need any help with that.

He should still check, just in case. The gunshots are getting desperate.

In quick, and hopefully silent steps, he reaches the corner and peeks, momentarily glad he's wearing a hat that hides his fluffy hair. He's sure that without it, he'd have gotten shot as soon as his mop of brown hair appeared in view. Thanks to the hat, he sees the back of a man wearing baggy pants and a closed dark red jacket with a fluffy fur-like-neck on its hoodie moving with deadly accuracy.

He's fighting over five men at the same time. With only his bare hands. And that's not counting the twenty-something men already on the ground, of course. However, his actions are almost lazy. Really graceful, but still lazy. As if he's taking his time only because he has nothing else to do, doesn't know what else to do.

Tsuna stares in morbid amazement the fluidity in his strikes. He seems so comfortable with his movements in a relaxed way that speaks of experience and talent. There's also an invisible, thrumming tension in his arms that reminds him of Gokudera.

He's a storm, Tsuna realizes. Fitting, too. His flames are simmering too close to his skin like a raging tempest, wanting to come out, singing through his body with an almost blinding pressure, building deeply, slowly inside him. It's as if the only thing needed for him to implode was a poke.

It's unsettling.

A man wearing a dark green raincoat falls onto some trash cans and proceeds to make hacking noises as if he wants to throw up his lungs or maybe move them back to their rightful place. He doesn't know.

What he does know is that the man in the center is now giving him his back and he has an extra gun inside his coat. The thing that he's trying to take out.

Something tells him that the man in the red jacket will not be in danger even if the gun goes off; it tells him he's capable of more. His brain and his body have never been truly coordinated, though. By the time he finishes listening to his brain, he's already knocking the man out with a well aimed punch.

A punch covered in faint orange flames.

He looks at it for a second before a grunt makes him turn around to see a man on the floor. There's a foot resting on the person's chest, rendering him unable to breathe, apparently. His gaze goes up to the leg and the torso, until it finally meets the face.

A very familiar face.

"Hibari-san?!"

The Hibari-look-alike blinks and looks up from Tsuna's hands. He looks startled, even though he probably knew Tsuna was spying since the moment he found himself in an unfamiliar alley.

There's a faint frown on his face that reminds Tsuna he's still staring. He mentally admonishes himself for doing that. Again. He stands up from where he's kneeling. His legs are not shaking like they would have been a year ago. He doesn't know if it means he's becoming stronger or more used to… these kinds of situations.

"Are you okay?" the guy asks, his fingers doing a small abortive motion, as if he wants to approach but knows it's not a good idea to do so. He hides his hands inside the large sleeves of his jacket. Perhaps because they're slightly bloody unlike his pristine clothes. They're dark enough for Tsuna to know if the blood is seeping into them.

He doesn't look at his possibly bloody sleeves though, he chooses to glance down, at the pile of bodies scattered around the ground and inhales. He gives the man a shaky smile and a thumbs up with his now glowing hand. The man seems slightly amused at this. His head tilts a bit to the side and…

And Tsuna doesn't think he can call the man in front of him 'Hibari-look-alike' in his head anymore. It's good he's learned to hide his startled-small-animal looks and now can step down on those urges with little problem, he thinks, because, well… The guy is giving him a smile. A real one. All calm-like and gentle, maybe a little bit warm, too.

It's a nice smile. And it's scaring the hell out of him.

Because this person looks so much like Hibari-san! And it's so weird to see a normal not bloodlusting smile on a face that so resembles the prefect's. He feels something akin to morbid fascination and he kind of wants to take a photo of this person smiling.

"Is there something on my face?"

Staring again. Damn it.

He shakes his head. "No, no! Your face's fine! You've a nice smile is all."

The man seems more amused. "You look like you've just seen a ghost."

"You just remind me of someone I know. He doesn't smile much and it's just kind of weird seeing you…"

"Smile?"

He nods dumbly. He thinks he won't be able to think much if the man continues smiling.

"… I really want to take a photo of you," he murmurs, before realizing that he just said that out loud and flushing a deep red.

The man chuckles pleasantly. It makes a chill run down his spine. A cold chill. Is this what conditioning is? Has he experienced some kind of bizarre positive reinforcement, but in reverse? It doesn't help that they're surrounded by unconscious people. He's sure he'll faint if he catches sight of a tonfa.

"Does that mean you're okay? You look very weak. And frail."

Tsuna blinks at the man's words. He doesn't detect any mocking undertone. Or even a hint of condescension. He's just saying what he sees. It appears that the man is just that blunt.

"Eh, yeah, I guess? I'm fine. Um… what about you?"

The man smiles again but there's a hint of mirth in his expression, like he knows the effect his smile has on him and it amuses him too much to stop.

"Perfect. A little hungry but I think that's my cue to get going. You should leave too. It won't take long for more people to come."

Tsuna doesn't know why he opens his mouth when he knows his intuition has put him in the backseat and is the one at the steering wheel, but he does. Before he knows it, he's signaling the place he left his take-out and mentioning he bought two orders of Mapu Tofu.

"—And there's a park around that corner we could… eat at," he ends slowly, not knowing where that came from as he doesn't even know where he is, but apparently his intuition does.

Maybe he should change the name of his Hyper Intuition to 'Know-it-all-alien-that-lives-inside-my-head'. He thinks it fitting.

Now the man is the one doing the staring, his face eerily blank if not for the faint smile that looks like his default setting. He seems to be how Yamamoto's and Hibari's lovechild would be like. Loveadult?

Why is he thinking about that? He's probably going to have nightmares later.

Tsuna really hopes the man refuses his intuition's invitation.

"It would be my pleasure," he answers instead, ignoring his mental pleading, with the same smile and a small bow to accompany it. He looks directly at him, eyes sharp. "I love Mapu Tofu."

His intuition is clearly having too much fun at his expense to be considered normal. Love-hate relationship, indeed.

- x -

It's when they're just finishing talking about some of the differences between Asia and Italy that they sit on one of the benches in the park his intuition apparently knew about. There's a lull in the conversation that Tsuna takes advantage of to take the food out of the bag and warm his hands with its heat. He places one in front of both and gives a spoon to his companion with a resigned smile. He's still a bit miffed that the Chinese restaurant didn't have any chopsticks.

The man seems to understand as he huffs softly. It's still a bit strange to see no hostile expressions on his face, even more so when the man eats a spoonful and kind of… beams. In a calm way. His smile widens a fraction and his eyes crinkle a bit.

Tsuna tries not to shudder. The man's amusement doesn't seem to increase so he may have hidden it right. Or maybe he's too distracted with the food to notice.

They don't talk about the elephant in the room. Or perhaps it's better to say they don't talk about the unconscious men they'd left behind. Tsuna would usually avoid it with his Dying Will as to dodge getting roped in strange and dangerous things, but he's curious. It feels important to the person in front of him, something he needs to talk about.

But it doesn't matter how painful the training he's endured was, he's still No-Good Tsuna and he's a coward. The only mention he dares is a comment of "You're really strong."

He doesn't expect an answer, but the man surprises him with a nod. "I've trained hard since I was but a child."

"That's awesome. I wonder if I-pin will become as strong as you," he mumbles, looking to the side.

"Does this I-pin know martial arts?"

Tsuna looks back and nods, a fond smile forming. "She's five and has been training years before I met her; never skipping her exercises or pulling her punches. She's Chinese, but now she's living with my mom and another two kids. Her goal is to be one of the best martial artists and she's stubborn enough I know she will make it one day."

"Her age is too young to determine something without seeing her style, but I'm sure she will become strong. We Chinese are really determined, after all."

"You're Chinese? You speak Japanese really well, mister!"

"… Mister?" The man trails off. Then his face turns a tad apologetic. "Oh, my apologies for not introducing myself beforehand. My name's Huo."

Lie, his intuition says, a little unsure, but Tsuna doesn't think hard about that uncertainness when it's no surprise he's given a false name. At least Tsuna has a name to give to dangerous individuals now.

"It's nice to meet you. I'm Ozora."

"Ozora? Interesting name."

"Like yours. Fire, right?"

There's a strain in his smile as he nods. "Yes."

Tsuna scratched his head, feeling sheepish himself. "I feel bad for not knowing much Chinese even when I've lived with a Chinese friend for more than a year. I mean, you're speaking Japanese with me and after so long since using it… it feels nice. I would have liked to do the same for you, but, um," he trails off, feeling quite glad Reborn isn't here to shoot him for mumbling. "Thank you, Huo-san."

Huo-san lowers his spoon, another soft smile directed his way, this one void of mischief. "You're a good kid, Ozora-kun."

A flash of battles and friends too young to face the horrors of life and death situations, the weight of responsibility, of the 'if they die it's on you' moments comes to mind and he wants to laugh dryly.

He doesn't as he also remembers why and what everyone has fought so hard for. Why he's here.

"I'm not a kid," he says, perhaps too quiet for the determination he's feeling.

Huo-san hears though. "A good Sky never stops being a child."

Tsuna frowns in confusion. The words are said in Italian so the meaning of them comes slower, especially after having a conversation in Japanese. When understanding clicks into place, he's glad he hadn't been eating or he'd have choked.

His hand goes to the empty space around his neck. He remembers he's forgotten the necklace and punched a man with a flame covered fist.

"Oh," he says in a small voice. Surprisingly though, he isn't afraid. He looks at Huo-san in the eye and holds his gaze. There's a sharpness that reminds him of Yamamoto when he's serious, but more mature. And curiosity. Like he's found something wonderfully rare and he doesn't know what to do with it.

Tsuna is a Sky with active flames and that's enough for people to come for him. He's rare in the mafia world, unaffiliated as he currently is, and in the same way he attracts 'Guardians', he also attracts trouble. Because of that he really doesn't know what to do with himself at times, either.

But that's okay. His intuition knows and he trusts it. And it says this man will respect his opinion, so with a conviction he's not actually sure of, he says, "You won't say anything."

Huo-san tilts his head, smile always present. "I won't?"

Tsuna narrows his eyes, feels the flame inside him fluttering in the way it hasn't been able to for weeks, wanting nothing but to stretch and be used, ever since he started carrying the necklace. "I've something to do, Huo-san, and I don't have the time to continuously be moving around, hiding. I like my freedom."

"You do?" He pushes his almost empty plate aside with a hum. "And you're sure I—"

"You're not a bad person, Huo-san," he finds himself saying, repeating the same words he said to the man bleeding in his apartment. "Dangerous, but not bad."

The man makes his hands visible, away from the shadows of the sleeves. The palms are a little red, the knuckles a little bruised, but that's easy to ignore unlike his nails. They're short but that does nothing to hide the red under them. Tsuna gently touches one and takes it between his smaller hands, glad he took off his gloves to eat. They're cold in a way that has nothing to do with the weather.

"Does it hurt?" he asks, but he doesn't think he's talking about the visible injures.

Huo-san doesn't seem to think so, either. He says a 'yes' without smiling.

Tsuna feels uncomfortable but he doesn't let go of the hand even as he takes out his trusty water bottle from his bag to clean the injuries. He reaches for the other instead. Then he dries them with the napkins that came with the take out. Huo-san is surprisingly quiet and docile through the whole process. Even when he's holding his hands to just warm them from the chill air of autumn.

"I think there's a pharmacy close by," he says without looking up. "I-I can get some bandages and—"

"I've bandages."

He looks up. "Um, well, I've a friend who loves boxing. He taught me how to bandage a hand and, well." He motions his right hand, the one with bandages covering the palm. "I've some experience. If you want, I could do it."

Huo smiles and with a hesitant squeeze lets his hands go. He takes two rolls of clean bandages from one pocket and gives them to him.

The conversation is light as he wraps fingers, knuckles and palm. Then he repeats the process on the other hand, making sure it's not too tight but not loose either. Huo tests both hands by making fists and weird signs with his fingers. Tsuna is silent as he watches him, sneakily trying to repeat the easier signs with the hand resting on his thigh. Huo throws him an amused glance so he guesses he wasn't sneaky enough.

"Harmony," Huo-san murmurs in chinese with a hum when they throw the take out and wet napkins in a near trash can.

His intelligent answer is a distracted, "Huh?"

For some reason it makes Huo-san laugh.

"Would you like for me to accompany you to your home, Ozora-kun?"

"I said I wasn't a kid, Huo-san. I can return by myself."

"I would feel less worried though."

Tsuna gives him a look. "Tomorrow I would do the same. And the next day. And the day after that one."

"If you're trying to reassure me, you're not doing a good job of it."

He actually looks worried so Tsuna stops walking. He remembers when he learned about flames and how it was almost instinctual for Elements to want to protect Skies. And Tsuna is one. The first days living in Italy, so close to the mafia, has made his eyes open to some things. Made him wary of his status. Especially because for some reason everyone thinks he hasn't harmonized with anyone and that means his value increases, apparently. So he kind of understands Huo-san's worry.

He scratches his cheek. "I've a necklace that hides I'm a Sky. I forgot to wear it today, so… yeah. I'll be careful next time."

Huo-san blinks at him, obviously curious and wanting to ask him about the necklace, but also not wanting to push. He looks troubled but something tells him it's not because of the necklace. It's the kind others don't need to pry into until one is ready to say it. Time will tell, so Tsuna let's Huo-san to sort out whatever he's thinking and continues walking with him by his side.

They turn right at an intersection Tsuna knows. It leads to the poorest district, to his apartment. He looks up at Huo. "I've to turn here, Huo-san. It was nice to meet you."

Huo-san pats his head with gentle fingers, the same he saw sending a man into unconsciousness. "The pleasure was mine, Ozora-kun. I hope we meet again."

Tsuna answers with a smile and a wave of a hand. He then arranges his hat and gloves and walks to his apartment.

- x -

The next day is nice. There are not many rooms occupied so he does everything at a slow pace. He thinks that maybe today will be a good day and greets everyone with a smile.

Then comes lunch and his intuition orders him to buy Oolong tea and a special kettle to make it before returning to his apartment. There's dread forming in the pit of his stomach but he obeys with wary movements and an emptier wallet.

Stranger-san doesn't ask what the kettle is for but he does raise an eyebrow in its direction.

"A friend will be dropping by soon," he says with a shaky smile.

"You have friends?"

Normally Tsuna would glare at him in indignation and splutter an "I so do have friends!"

That afternoon he sighs instead, like the world is settling on top of his shoulders.

"Not normal friends, apparently," he says, remembering all the people he got to meet in the last few years, all the crazy stuff he got himself into and all the happy moments. A real smile tugs at his lips. "Well, at least I can't say life's ever going to be boring."

Stranger-san rests his cup on the table. "You're showing signs of delusion."

Tsuna scrunches his nose at him.

He's shot at for his problems.

- x -

It's not until the next morning that he gets to taste the tea. The buzz he's becoming to associate with his Hyper Intuition wakes him up at six thirty and Tsuna doesn't complain as he robotically gets up and makes the bed. He stores the cushions for later use and goes to the bathroom before he transforms the place where he slept into a couch. He goes to the kitchen, briefly noticing on the table the extra plates with a traditional Japanese breakfast along with a pair of red chopsticks, and takes the tea out, the kettle already on the stove.

His intuition tells him it's time a couple minutes later so he goes to the door and leans on the wall next to it. He doesn't have to wait long. Half a minute later he hears three soft knocks.

Huo-san is standing under the doorway with that calm smile of his.

"How did you know where I live," he wants to ask first,

"Did you stalk me here?" comes a close second.

"Do you like Oolong tea?" he asks instead.

Huo-san laughs quietly at his resigned tone. "It's my favorite."

Go figure.

- x -

He's had to change his schedule a bit but Tsuna manages. Now instead of waking at eight, he's already up and ready with tea at seven. Huo-san is always punctual so Tsuna is already opening the door at the same time the water boils. He never asks about his job but he always checks for any injury Huo-san may have gotten that he can help with.

Mostly they just eat breakfast and talk in Japanese, mostly so Huo-san can help him with his Italian.

"Your understanding is surprisingly good for only having studied two months prior to coming to Italy."

Tsuna hangs his head in misery at remembering his Italian lessons. "The one who taught me shocked me whenever I got something wrong so it's not so surprising."

"Shocked? As in… scared you?"

"As in electrocuted me."

There's a silence in which Tsuna ponders if Huo-san is feeling sympathetic enough to let him cry on his shoulder. He glances up to check but only finds a thoughtful look on the other's face. Tsuna immediately straightens in his seat.

"Huo-san..?"

"Say, would you feel more comfortable if I used the same technique to teach you?"

"Please, no," he says quickly.

Huo-san almost looks put-upon.

Tsuna definitely needs normal friends. Or at least people who will react normally at confessions like the one he admitted. His only consolation is that Huo-san asked. Stranger-san simply states how it hasn't obviously worked and should he be the one teaching him, he would have used a higher voltage.

After saying that, he offers offhandedly to help him with his Italian, his smirk too sadistic to be reassuring.

The pout he receives when Tsuna informs him he already has a friend taking care of teaching him is too terrifying.

Tsuna is so, so glad Huo-san appeared in his life at the moment he did and he never got the chance to ask Stranger-san to teach him. And if Huo-san always brings two rolls of bandages for his hands, well. Tsuna is always happy to help.

Chapter Text

Chapter 3

There's a Mist user coming to the hotel.

Tsuna tries to not look in the direction where she is silently drinking with a newspaper in front of her in the part of the hotel that serves as a bar. Yesterday she was a he, so Tsuna doesn't know how to refer this person as. To save himself the headache, he goes by whatever the Mist is posing at. He doesn't ask mostly to not let the current-she know about him. After all she's powerful. It took him stumbling onto her to realize she was even using flames.

Now his intuition updates him whenever he sees her so that way Tsuna can scurry away from her area. He really doesn't want to get pulled into whatever trouble she's in. Though something tells him he'll have to deal with it, eventually.

As soon as he thinks of that, Tsuna goes to the nearest closet room and locks himself inside to sob at the inevitability of the craziness in his life for a couple of long minutes. Then, he returns to try and get an idea of what's going on with Mist-san. It's better to be prepared than wait for the surprises.

Surprises hurt. Most of the time. Or at least they do in his life.

Some time later, Tsuna comes to the conclusion that Mist-san is doing some kind of reconnaissance of sorts. Tsuna still doesn't know if she is sending a mist clone or if she's merely cloaking her form, but for now she only sits at a random table, orders something to eat and stays even after his shift is over so Tsuna doesn't know what she's looking for.

He has an inkling that it has to do with the new patrons staying in the hotel. Their appearance just screams shady.

- x -

"How do you do a recon?"

Stranger-san doesn't look up from the newspaper he's reading (of the current day, unlike the one Tsuna is cutting). "Reconnaissence?"

"Hai."

The bullet he just barely manages to dodge. "You say 'si' when giving an affirmative."

"Oh… right. Si, then. Now, how does one do it?"

Stranger-san makes a 'tch' sound. "It depends on what are you aiming for. Although usually one has to focus on the enemy, the dimensions of the terrain, the civil considerations, the available ETA, the troops and support at your disposal while always having the goals of the mission clear in order to obtain the information you need to achieve said goal.

"It's pretty complicated if one wants to do it right. I can teach you if you want," Stranger-san says, lifting his gaze from the paper to meet his blank, uncomprehending stare, an unholy gleam in his eyes.

Tsuna immediately shakes his head and holds his hands up in surrender. "Just curious! Though…"

With a huff of amusement, Stranger-san takes a sip of his coffee. "Reconsidering?"

"No, no. I mean, I didn't really understand what you said, but I got the gist of it and realized I mistook what a recon was. Anyways, what do you call someone who constantly appears in the same place, at the same time, and wearing different disguises?"

"The place is somewhere public I get?"

"Hypothetically, it's the bar of a hotel."

"The hotel where you work?"

Tsuna narrows his eyes. "How do you know I wo—forget it. Obviously you know where I work. Yes, yes. The hotel where I work."

"Sounds like someone is trying to get some dirt," he says, his gaze returning to the newspaper.

And that's it.

He doesn't add anything more.

Tsuna makes the second jar of coffee while glaring at the back of his head. His glare only darkens when Stranger-san hums happily while drinking. He only hopes that the pat on his head he receives just before he leaves for his shift at the bar is not some hint of how his day will go.

- x -

Damn it. He jinxed it.

"Why are you cleaning the glasses under the table?"

Tsuna doesn't look up. He already knows what face Zaid is making. "Hey, you're the lucky one who turns eighteen in a month. We sixteen years old can't afford to show our face to the public while working."

"Uh huh. That didn't bother you yesterday."

"I only worry for Giorgio-san."

Pouring some scotch into what he's sure is a cup of coffee, their boss, Giorgio, leans down for a moment with his Serious Face. "I can hear you."

"Sorry, Giorgio-san."

Zaid snorts. "You really should stop adding 'san' to the names, Natsu."

"But not in working hours. The last time you tried, your blushing face made you look thirteen."

Trying to fight the red that wants to creep on his face, he grumbles. "At least I can call Zaid, Zaid."

"Yeah, sure. It only took you a month."

"And you slept together," Giorgio-san adds with a snort before retreating on the back.

"Not in that way!" Tsuna has never felt his face hotter. He turns sharply to look at Zaid. "What did you tell him?"

"Me? Hah. Right. This is Giorgio who we're talking about, Nat." Zaid leans on the counter and taps his shoulder with his leg. "Seriously, man. Are you going to tell me why you're hiding?"

"I'm not hiding."

"Does that mean that it has nothing to do with the guy with the cane who came in a minute ago?"

Tsuna jumps in surprise, his head colliding with the hard surface of the counter.

"That's a yes, I take it." Zaid gives him an amused look before he leans further on the counter. "Hey, Timmy! How's it going?"

"Timmy?" Tsuna mumbles, peeking a bit to see who Zaid is calling. He yelps when he sees the brown haired guy with the familiar cane approaching and falls onto his back.

"Still working as a barista, Ganauche?"

"Still calling people candy, Timmy?"

Has… Has Zaid just been called Ganauche? As in the Nono's Lightning Guardian, Ganauche?

Tsuna can only see Zaid's playful glare from his position but it's enough to make him question his luck. Only Tsuna can get a job in the place where one of the Ninth's guardians work. Though perhaps soon-to-be guardian is a better description. He's sure Zaid is a Lightning, but he doesn't feel like an active flame. Though that does explain the trace of harmonization he sometimes feels on him.

Still. He's working with one of the Ninth's guardians.

Well, not the Ninth yet. Probably not until he goes back to his time. And even then, he'll deny it until he can't any longer and the proof is shoved down his throat.

"—talking to Natsu here. He's new so he's still trying to get the hang of it."

Hearing his alias snaps him out of his thoughts and makes him sit straight in a second. He grabs Zaid's pants tightly as to gain his attention, pleading eyes already in full force.

"A new employee? Where is he?"

Zaid is not turning to look at him, that isn't fair!

"He's lying behind the counter, see?"

A familiar, though much younger face peers down from the other side of the counter. Another person leans next to him. They both look faintly surprised.

Tsuna tries to smile. He stands up like he hasn't spent the last few minutes cleaning the same glass from behind the furniture. "Hi, I'm Natsu."

The man he doesn't recognize is the one to recover first. He nudges an elbow at the other. "Oh, yes. I'm sorry, Natsu. You just remind me of someone."

Luckily the hysteria is not heard when he laughs. "Well, most do say we Asians look alike."

"You don't look all that Asian," Zaid points out.

"My dad is half Italian," he is quick to add. By the look he receives, perhaps he was too quick.

"Italian, hm?" the one he doesn't recognize mutters. He seems ready to ask him more about the subject but the so called Timmy stops him by saying. "Oh, but where are our manners. My mother would have killed me if she knew I hadn't introduced myself first. Hello, Natsu, My name's Timoteo and this is my friend Coyote, though most call him Nougat."

Crap, Tsuna was right. He is the Ninth (Not yet, his mind supplies. Tsuna ignores it).

"They only do that because you call me Nougat, Tim."

Zaid puts an arm around Tsuna's shoulders. "Be careful around him if you don't want an ugly nickname, Nat. He likes to give one to everyone but never gives one to himself."

The Ninth shrugs. "I love all sweets. I don't have any preferences."

"That's no excuse." Zaid rolls his eyes. "Anyways, what have you been doing? I haven't seen you in months!"

"Tim's been busy," answers Coyote-san glancing at his watch. "And speaking of busy, we need to go."

"So what, you've only come to say hi?"

"We did come for the coffee, too." The Ninth taps his cane against the counter as he searches for something inside his jacket. He pulls out a folded paper from one inside pocket and gives it to Zaid. "We also wanted to invite you to a show. I think it will be of your liking."

From where he's organizing the cups, Tsuna can clearly see Zaid's whole face light up like Christmas has come early. "DeMorte? You have tickets to see him? He's the best! How did you—No, no. Don't tell me. Just let me enjoy this moment." Zaid presses his face against the paper and sighs dreamily. "Damn, Timmy. If I didn't know better, I would think you're trying to woo me."

"Who says I'm not trying to court you?" the Ninth says with a cheeky smile and a wink.

The picture he has of the man in his mind abruptly breaks in tiny pieces as Zaid laughs. "You're too old for me, Timmy, sorry."

"Oh. And you're invited, too, of course."

Tsuna looks at the Ninth with a strained smile. "I wouldn't want to impose."

"Nonsense!" Coyote-san says with a huff. "Tim wouldn't invite you if he didn't want you there, kid."

Apparently it doesn't matter the age, Coyote-san will always be intimidating.

"Come on, Natsu. Will you leave me alone with the wolves? Someone has to take care of my virtue while I'm drunk in admiration for the best stuntman, after all," Zaid mock whispers.

Tsuna really doesn't like the speculative way the Ninth looks at him. It's too full of curiosity to be healthy.

He wants to say no. He will say no.

He opens his mouth to say exactly that, but only the word "Sure" comes out.

Apparently, Tsuna is still the number one person incapable of denying a request. Even in the past.

Luckily Chiara, the new barista, is near enough for him to use her as a distraction. "She's also new! Newer than me, even. I'll go see if Giorgio-san needs some help. You talk."

She pinches his arm softly as he passes, but looks amused instead of offended. Chiara is cool like that. She then pats his head and whispers a 'You owe me' in his ear. Seeing how she's smiling at Coyote-san, Tsuna doesn't think he owes her anything.


He's nothing more than a spectator, watching the fight from afar, not at all connected to his body as it goes through the motions he knows so well. Muscles knot tight, the tips of his fingers light with acidic red. He touches someone's neck, face contorting into one of pained surprise before he turns to the next one. His skin is numb even with the warmth of his flames inside him. They feel cold without passion guiding his strikes as he continues leaving a field of corpses at his feet. The sounds of fear and desperation he's become accustomed to are his background noise, louder than the gunshots. But not as loud as the storm under his flesh, wanting to devour all, destroy all. Furious at being confined, crushing the air from his lungs at how easily he shuts up its voice.

There's never blood, but the smell of burning flesh and death is present, familiar like the bed he sleeps in. The soft bed where there's no fighting to distract his mind from how people are turning into nothing more than pictures in a magazine instead of the alive beings they are, no adrenaline to help him ignore the cries of mercy. He's starting to not care.

He exhales softly as he crushes a man's windpipe.

This is just a job he has to complete, nothing more. Complete the mission, then the next one and the next after that one until he's so well-known they can't hide him anymore under violence and discipline.

His freedom is so close he can taste it from under all the murder, yet so far he doesn't know how much of himself will still live when that time comes.

What will he do after? Where will he return to?

He doesn't know, but wants to find out. It sounds thrilling.

For now though, with the leader dead, he will continue making his way through the underlings, going through the motions, mind always looking from afar. But he never closes his eyes as he kills one, two, three more; even if he could still perfectly fight without his sight. Even if he wants to close them.

He throws a dead body onto a set of doors for distraction before going through the threshold himself. A pair of young, determined eyes met his and he wonders, not for the first time, how much of his person will remain before his freedom comes. And how much of it he will like from what is left.


Tsuna wakes up with the lingering scent of burned flesh surrounding him and the buzz of his intuition loud inside his head. He turns to the edge of the bed, hoists his weight on trembling elbows and gags. His skin feels cold and clammy and Tsuna wants nothing more than to return to his bed and pretend the dream never happened. Because that's what it was. A dream.

Yeah, right.

It doesn't seem to matter how he prayed nothing weird happened after the cluster fuck that was meeting a young Ninth, or the 'thank you' he gave to his ceiling before sleeping. The day just doesn't seem to want to get any better for him.

Or well, considering his phone tells him it's a couple minutes past two in the morning—confirming it is a new day—perhaps he has not phrased it well.

It doesn't make it suck any less though. And not that he can't whine about the unfairness of everything because while his intuition has worked as an alarm before, it has never been this… frantic. The buzz that usually resembles the soft sound of a cicada is louder, making him tremble with the sound of it.

Because of that, Tsuna ignores the tiredness that comes from only sleeping three hours and stands up, changes his clothes into something warmer and wears the boots he uses for when it's raining even if it's not. His first-aid kit goes into an old backpack, next to his second scarf. He debates for a second if bringing an umbrella is a good idea before putting it in just in case.

He doesn't bother with the bike. Tsuna doesn't have his gloves and it's still difficult for him to enter into Hyper Dying Will mode without the pills, but this is important. He feels it.

Taking the necklace off and shoving it inside his pocket, Tsuna concentrates for long seconds and lights both hands with his flames. It doesn't take him long after that to fly to the place his intuition is indicating. It's not a smooth trip with one hand always more aflame than the other, but Tsuna manages to not crash into any buildings so he counts that as a win.

Fifteen minutes later of wobbly flying in the chill of November, Tsuna reaches a big building that looks more like a fabric than anything else. He debates if going through the roof would be easier to sneak in than using a window, but his intuition informs him it's safe using the door so he uses it. It doesn't take him long before he finds out why his intuition pointed him to this place.

A couple of steps are enough for him to step into what looks like a massacre.

The sight of death disrupts his concentration and he falls on the ground, knees shaking. It takes him long minutes before he can stand up, and even so, he has to constantly fight back the bile that forms in the base of his throat as he wanders through the path of destruction. He tries to not look at his surroundings but that's probably one of the hardest things he's had to do in his life. There are bullet holes in the walls, but none on the people. The only thing indicating their cause of death are burns on specifics parts of their bodies and the expressions on their vacant faces of pain and anger.

If one ignores that they almost look like they're sleeping.

He wants to search for survivors but with every step he takes, his intuition just informs him: dead, dead, dead. So Tsuna focuses in trying to not step over anyone while ignoring their blank eyes. And if he stares a bit too intently at the slightly burnt walls… no one can blame him.

Opening a door, reveals him the reason his intuition's been so anxious.

Huo-san is in the middle of a big, empty room doing a series of katas, looking pristine as always in chinese style clothes, reminding him of the first day they met. Every morning after that, he always came to his apartment wearing something common for the time, but still fairly loose.

"You shouldn't be here," it's the first thing Huo-san says. His eyes are closed and he hasn't turned to look at him or even stopped moving, but Tsuna thinks he can almost hear a hint of apprehension in his tone.

Tsuna swallows twice to make sure his voice doesn't come out weird. "Are you injured?"

Huo-san stops moving for a moment to bark out a disbelieving laughter. "I'm not injured," he says, as if the mere notion is preposterous.

Normally, he'd roll his eyes and mumble about proud people and their huge egos, but this time he gets close enough he's almost in arm's reach. He feels Huo-san turn his attention on him and Tsuna hesitates then. He wants to grab him by the sleeve in an attempt to make him stop and look at him, but he can tell it would be counterproductive. Huo-san is feeling to tense at the moment. There's a high probability he's going to react badly if Tsuna touches him. If that happens, Huo-san will blame himself and… Tsuna doesn't want that.

"Huo-san," he says, firm but gentle; the same tone he used when Yamamoto overworked himself or Lambo kept crying for candy. The same tone used on Gokudera and Chrome when they didn't take their well-being into account.

The flow of movements stop and Huo-san opens his eyes. He still hasn't met his eyes but Tsuna feels more relaxed with only that. Slowly approaching he takes care of grabbing his hands and inspecting his bandages. They're not as tight as they were when he dressed them the morning before; some parts revealing the slightly red skin underneath.

It's not until he reaches to check the second hand that Huo-san says with an empty smile, "I killed four kids."

Tsuna's breath catches in some part in his throat.

"My orders in Italy were to scare a couple Families into submission so they would only work for the Triads in the exportation of certain products. Some didn't agree or tried to fight back and, as the documents of Alliance they signed read, we were in our right to make examples of them." Humming despondently, he turns to the side; not looking remorseful at all, just kind of hollow. "I was told to annihilate the most stubborn ones."

"There were kids who opposed, I take it?" he asks in a whisper.

Huo-san nods tiredly. "Some escaped along with a couple of adults."

"Oh."

Tsuna for a moment doesn't know what to do. His hands stop as he remembers Lambo, Fuuta and I-pin. Sometimes he forgets how he met them. Lambo was ordered to kill Reborn and to not return back to his family without completing the deed; I-pin confused him for her target while Fuuta was trying to escape from being kidnaped. Thrust into a dangerous life they shouldn't be part of, without taking into account that they were just kids. Lambo was a crybaby who loved grapes and wanted so badly to not be left alone again, I-pin was so gentle but still ferocious when she wanted to protect and Fuuta… Fuuta just wanted a normal life and use his abilities to help.

I'll wipe out the Vongola, he said once. If he can't reform it, then he will…

Right. He's forgotten.

He can't forget. He has a mission to complete so he can go back and have snowball fights and watch the fireworks with everyone. That's why he fights and that's why he's here. What has he done so far besides standing still, drifting like a lone cloud? But—But he's not a Cloud and he can be aloof like one. He's always needed people to help him move forward.

Perhaps that's one of the big flaws of Skies.

The warmth he feels inside his chest is frail and cold, but still there. Enough to not feel so lonely and enough to remember what he's doing everything for, but still not... Enough.

He brushes a thumb along Huo-san's knuckles and looks up, through him where the pain hides. It hurts to see how chained his flames are. Similar to his own but Huo-san doesn't have a necklace to force it down, just determination and self-restraint. It painfully overwhelms his own self. He needs a balance, needs harmony.

Tsuna wants to help him.

Besides, Huo-san is a Storm, right? Disintegration is the ability of his flame and Tsuna wants that. He wants someone to erase this feeling of impotence and he knows Huo-san is capable of that.

His intuition hums with giddiness, coaxing him to do it. And in this time that he's more aware of his own flame, Tsuna can feel inside of him the beginnings of Harmonization reaching for Huo-san's flame.

Going by the sudden stiffness in Huo-san's frame, he can feel it, too. He grips Tsuna's hand tightly between his own and hunches forward until his forehead rests on top of Tsuna's head and just… exhales, his whole body relaxing with that one breath; wild red flames calming. And while Tsuna can't see it, he's sure he's smiling. Not those smiles that seem to be the default with him, but a real one.

Storm flames dance along his own Sky, just this close of touching. It feels intimate in a way it's never felt before. The previous times he harmonized with someone was quick and instinctual. There wasn't any courting going on as it seems to be the current case. And possibly the worst thing is that Tsuna wants this. Wants someone to lean on him in and wants the intricate way a relationship between an Element and a Sky is. He wants to accept and be accepted, to reassure and be reassured.

It's not right though. He's such a greedy Sky.

Clenching his teeth, he inhales through his nose sharply and coaxes his flames to coat his free hand, makes his fingers curl into a fist. He punches Huo-san in the gut, sending him skidding a couple steps away. Huo-san yelps in surprise but he doesn't look pained as he rubs his stomach, just a bit bewildered.

Grabbing the roll of bandages from the floor, Tsuna stands up. He closes the distance between them and sits once again in front of him. Huo-san is not the least bit wary of him and that just pisses him off. He doesn't even say anything when Tsuna not so gently takes his hand and starts bandaging it, he just looks at him with some sort of longing in his expression. That and resignation.

Tsuna wants to say he's sorry, but that will probably make things worse. And he can't find it in himself to use the cliché it's not you, it's me as true as the words are. Tsuna knows Huo-san wants to harmonize with him and while the Sky part of him says 'I've space for another Storm, bring him in', Tsuna can't. It isn't fair for any of them. If they harmonize, Huo-san will suffer Discordance when he leaves. And he heard from Reborn what that can do to Guardians.

Even he suffered some sort of Discordance when he appeared in this time and the connection he had never felt before between him and his friends started aching. He's only glad his friends wouldn't get to feel it because what is months for him, would only be minutes at worst for them.

He finishes with a knot, but doesn't let the hand go. He looks up and makes sure to meet Huo-san's eyes. "Today, you're going to stay in my apartment. And whenever you've a mission like this one, you're going to come to my apartment afterwards. Immediately. I don't care if you look like you've just come out from a horror movie, you will come. And I'll know if you try to escape, Huo-san. If you do that, I'll come to look for you and I'll be pissed."

He glares to make him know he's serious, because he is. He can tell his intuition will wake him up anyways, regardless of his wishes to sleep. So if he gets up from bed to make tea and no one comes to drink it with him, Tsuna will find him and knock some sense into him.

Huo-san laughs as he hoists Tsuna up into his lap to hug him. The action surprises him so much he doesn't complain. And then it's too late to push him off. Tsuna feels a bit like a little kid, to tell the truth. Or a teddy bear. He flushes bright red but doesn't say anything only because Huo-san needs this. He needs someone to be his anchor for just a moment before he can settle his self-control in place and return to his usual state of being the eye of the storm.

"I'm glad you're okay, Huo-san," he murmurs against his chest.

"I'm glad you're alive, Ozora-kun," he answers back, which normally would be weird because he wasn't the one fighting, but the way he says it sounds more like, 'I'm glad you're alive to tell me you're glad I'm okay'.

It's probably a bit selfish but Tsuna nods in understanding, because he does understand.

"Let's call the police and let them deal with this first, okay?"

- x -

Tsuna wakes up with dread pooling deep inside his gut for the second time that day. He's tired because the little outing he made in the middle of the night and then the two hours he spent awake, drinking tea and just talking with Huo-san who seemed to not want to sleep just yet. He obviously needed some sort of distraction so Tsuna ended up telling him a heavily edited version of what happened in the bar the day before.

Huo-san is such a nice person to not mock him for all the flailing he did.

"A strong mind will help you to not lose your cool. I could teach you a martial art style; they're good for you."

"Eh… I think I would need to train my body first and that would take a lot of time."

"You do have a weak body. A surprisingly high pain tolerance and resistance, but a weak and pitiful body all the same," Huo-san admitted with a sage-like nod, as if the words weren't insulting. "Let's start with some meditation, then."

… Huo-san is still a nice person. A bit blunt and thoughtless, but nice unlike their meditation sessions. Tsuna doesn't know where Huo-san got that stick, because he's sure as heck he didn't have it when Tsuna was checking him for injuries, but apparently it's used on his shoulders whenever his mind is not as empty as it should be. How Huo-san knows he's thinking of something when his eyes are closed and his posture is relaxed, Tsuna doesn't know. He only hopes he doesn't get to meet any more sadistic mind readers.

But at least that explains what he's doing laying on his couch. His last memory is of him closing his eyes and trying to meditate, after all. He probably fell asleep and Huo-san put him to bed. The blanket is a clear giveaway, too. Though it makes him wonder where Huo-san slept. He expands his senses and feels him near, so that means he hasn't—

Oh.

That's why the dread has set in then.

"We know you're awake," Stranger-san says suddenly. Tsuna 'eeps', cutting all his chances of pretending to be asleep to nothing.

He doesn't look over his shoulder as he sits up; he wants to drag it out as much as he can. Then slowly, so very slowly, he turns around, the blanket falling to his lap.

Huo-san and Stranger-san are sitting at his table, three similar portions of food in front of them. One wearing a pleasant, if a bit strained smile, while the other is almost emotionless, only a hint of annoyance showing. Considering they're both a Storm and a Sun respectively; it's a bit funny how their expressions don't match their flames.

"You never mentioned you knew such a famous person," Huo-san starts.

"I didn't?" he asks back, honestly confused. Though maybe that just means his survival instinct exists as he doesn't think talking about the other would go well. His intuition even agrees with—"Wait." He turns to Stranger-san. "You're famous?"

"Are you really surprised?"

Tsuna tilts his head and looks at Stranger-san intently. "It explains the… suits," he says, though he really meant to say 'ego'. By the glare he receives, Stranger-san probably read his mind.

He's actually a bit surprised he hasn't been shot. Stranger-san likes to do that.

"So you didn't know he was a famous hitman?"

He shakes his head, but the lack of surprise in his expression may explain the smug look Stranger-san throws at Huo-san. He has the suspicion there was a discussion going on before he woke up about their jobs.

"He needed a place to take a bullet out of him and he chose mine—"

"His lights were on."

"—and how I was in the middle of making coffee, I invited him to have some. Then he kept returning for more."

Huo-san narrows his eyes. "And you didn't find it suspicious?"

"I met you while you were fighting five men. There was a pile of unconscious bodies surrounding you."

"Touché," Huo-san says with a smile, not even bothering to look chagrined.

Tsuna turns to Stranger-san. "And there was a shooting going on. I couldn't sleep. Excuse me for having the light of my lamp on while making coffee."

"There was a shooting going on," Stranger-san repeats, as if that's enough counter-argument.

(It is, but he's not going to give him the satisfaction of being right.)

"Just try to not meet any more dangerous people, please."

Stranger-san snorts. "Too late. There's someone stalking his job."

"The hotel or the bar?" Huo-san asks with narrowed eyes, because of course he also knows.

"Oh. He didn't tell you?"

"Put the smug smirk away, Stranger-san, I was worried about other things and I kinda… forgot. Sorry, Huo-san."

Huo-san chuckles amusedly. "Stranger-san?"

"He's unimaginative."

"I'm not," he grumbles but then remembers how his other alias is the name he gave his animal box, and how unoriginal it was even back when he named the small flame lion. Tsuna covers his head with the blanket, his only consolation being that at least he's not as bad at naming things as Hibari-san and Gokudera is. Was? Will be?

"Perhaps we should go back to the topic of the stalker?"

A soft aroma makes him look up. Huo-san is standing in front of him with a cup of tea between his hands. Tsuna receives the cup with a smile before he mutters a thanks and takes a sip.

Huo-san motions the kettle on the table. "I hope it doesn't bother you I made some tea."

"It's no problem," he says before turning to the other person sitting at the table, taking notice in the lack of a cup in front of him. He glances between the kettle and Stranger-san. "The tea is very good. Not as bitter as you would—"

"Make me an espresso."

"Damn it."

"Don't curse. Be quick so I can lecture you about going out in the middle of the night and letting suspicious people stay in your apartment."

"How did you—No, it doesn't matter." Tsuna stands up and throws the blanket on the couch. "It's my apartment and I can decide what to do with it!" he says, but his outburst falls flat when he turns around to fold the blanket. He glances at Huo-san over his shoulder. "Sorry."

"It's okay, Ozora."

Tsuna looks back at the task at hand when he feels himself blushing. It's weird to hear Huo-san speaking Italian and it's even weirder to hear him not using suffixes when using his name. "Um. What happened with the 'kun', Huo-san?"

"I'm speaking Italian now, Ozora. Italian doesn't use suffixes. You should try it, too."

He quickly shakes his head. He already tried it with the people at the bar and the results were embarrassing on his part. Damn it, he fits the Asian stereotype of demure to a T. He'll have to fix that, but he'd prefer to practice alone first.

"Cute," Stranger-san drawls, sarcastically. "Now, my expresso?"

"While I'm sure you came early because you were worried—" Here Stranger-san snorts at Huo-san's words. "—that doesn't excuse being so demanding with Ozora. You can prepare your own coffee, can't you?"

The temperature in the room lowers as they try to stare each other down. The sight is quite nostalgic, but Tsuna has seen it enough times to know he needs to step in before furniture starts breaking. So with a sigh, he stands up. "It's okay, Huo-san. I need some coffee myself if I want to function later for work and Stranger-san gets all the more impossible to deal with without a cup. You can start eating, if you want."

"About that…" Huo-san starts, eyeing the food in front of him curiously. "I didn't question it before because I thought you always cooked it, but how…?"

"It was already there when I came and it's still warm," Stranger-san quips.

Their eyes no longer hold hostility and it's easier to breathe now, but Tsuna can't quite count it as a win considering the change of topic. He takes another sip of warm tea, glancing at the steamed rice, miso soup and grilled fish that that morning breakfast consists of. Unlike his own and Huo-san's orange and red chopsticks, Stranger-san's seems to have a yellow set in front of him.

"A, um, 'friend' likes to make me breakfast," he says, hoping the word 'friend' hadn't come out resigned.

Huo-san raises an eyebrow at him. "I didn't feel anyone coming, aside from mister hitman here."

"A sneaky friend."

Stranger-san keeps looking dubiously at the food. Tsuna doesn't know if it is because he doesn't know who cooked it or merely because he's Italian and Italians are weirdos who don't eat breakfast and function on a coffee-only diet.

"A sneaky chef friend." And because he is sure the food isn't poisoned, he adds, "You should try it. It's a Japanese-style breakfast."

"Why breakfast?" Huo-san asks, already eating. He's probably of the mind 'Ate already and it hasn't done anything, so why stop?'

Scratching his cheek, he says a bit embarrassed, "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day?"

Stranger-san gives him a faintly incredulous raise of the eyebrow, but tries it anyways after Tsuna starts eating. Then he proceeds to inform the others what's going on in the hotel, not mentioning the Mist flames because of Stranger-san's presence, though he makes a mental note to tell Huo-san about it later.

"I wish I could check if it's something serious, but…"

Huo-san has another job, Tsuna knows. He mentioned it to him yesterday. It's not going to be anything too gruesome but he can't skip it if he doesn't want people on his tail. The Triads are harsh like that, apparently. Huo-san has a reason but that doesn't stop him from looking like a kicked puppy. Or as much as a kicked puppy as he can look. His eyebrows barely frown and his smile dims a little.

"I'll do it quickly," he assures him after long seconds of his weird sulking going on. He turns to Stranger-san as if expecting him to offer, too. His gaze darkens when he continues eating his food.

"He'll do it fine alone," is what he finally says, placing both chopsticks on his plate. The he pulls a newspaper out from who knows where and starts reading.

By the time he's changed and ready to head to his job, Tsuna is almost afraid to leave them alone in his apartment. He hopes they don't end up destroying his things.

- x -

Chapter Text

Chapter 4

Months have passed since Tsuna woke up in a deserted forest in some part of Naples, pained and half delirious as he tried to make sense to what was up and down. He had come so far from that lost boy whose flames were simmering under his skin, overwhelmed and dazed, making him unable to control his harmony factor, always teetering on that line between endless anxiety and a calmness that borders dissociation.

The fifteen year old Sky, who stealthily managed to get inside pubs and loud places with dancing people just because the mayhem was like a balm to his needy flames, is no more. He now can keep his flames tight inside his body and leave the state of mind his Hyper Dying Will gives him whenever he wants. He has control for the first time in months and has grown up and learned so much from having to live alone. So. Much.

Except getting a job the normal way, apparently. After all, the jobs he's obtained is thanks to his Intuition's intervention and wishing for a new one to come doesn't seem to work. It's not that he's unhappy with the pay or the schedule. They fit perfectly in his routine, actually. The hotel is pretty and most of his colleagues are nice, even if he's not as friendly with them as he is with the people in the bar. Anyway, they're not the problem. The ones he has trouble with are the shady people who at first were few but now occupy most of the rooms. And he knows they're shady—it's not his imagination. He's spent too long around Reborn's shenanigans to not be able to identify it.

Also, it seems there's some kind of dome around the hotel making the police unable to notice whatever illegal thing is going on. That happens wherever he goes so he's not sure if it's his presence that makes it or he's just that unlucky.

So yeah, he needs a new job.

With a sigh, he gives one last glance to the paper with the new schedule of the day (because now they've to change their working schedules every day), and wonders if he can ask Luca-san, the receptionist, how to get a job while sounding nonchalant. He gives off the vibe of being someone wise and Tsuna likes to talk with him when he's not busy, though he hasn't lately. Well, he now has the excuse of working as messenger boy to give the schedules out so maybe he can ask.

With that happy thought in mind, Tsuna almost jogs to the next corner that leads to the reception room, just to trip to the floor as soon as he's in view of the counter.

Luca-san has clearly seen him as he visibly winced, but doesn't move from where he's booking a room for Stranger-san.

What happened with 'I can do it alone'! Tsuna wants to yells as he stands up. He doesn't, of course, as being inconspicuous is his way to survive in this job. He's currently dressed as a civilian because he's a minor without papers and it's easier that way to fool others into thinking he's staying in the hotel instead of working in it.

That also means he has to wait until Luca-san is done before he can give him the schedule. So he stands there, a bit behind Stranger-san and hears them both talking. It's a bit weird how Stranger-san can look so charming and honest. He even laughs once. A normal laugh. Tsuna doesn't think he's ever heard him laugh. Amused huffs don't count. But yeah, Stranger-san really knows how to act like a normal person. Luca-san seems pretty taken with him, too. Tsuna would even relax at hearing the conversation if it wasn't for the heavy stare Stranger-san is giving him. And Tsuna still doesn't know how that works seeing as the man's still looking at and talking to Luca-san.

Eventually, it ends. Luca-san gives Stranger-san a key and then mentions the hours the bar is open to the public to eat something light. "Or you can order the food in advance and we will take it up to your room."

"That will be no problem," Stranger-san san with what looks like a warm smile (It makes Tsuna cringe in fear). "I will be down by twelve."

Tsuna's gaze is immediately on him. That's the time he's told him the strange mist user appears.

He doesn't do anything else to affirm his existence though. Tsuna merely waits for him to leave so he can quickly give Luca-san the schedule and tell him all the owner told him about it. Then he asks about the man and what room he's staying in but, unsurprisingly, Luca doesn't give it.

"Don't worry, kiddo. He only payed for a day so the room won't be too messy when he's done with it."

With a sigh he returns to his job. And who knows, maybe his intuition will clue him into the room in which Stranger-san is staying.

(It doesn't)

- x -

The next time he sees Stranger-san is half an hour after twelve. Tsuna has his hands full with the orders Luca-san told him to give the chef and how he's sitting close to the path he's taking, Tsuna gives him a brief smile. Done that, he gives the room a quick once over to see if Mist-san is already there. He finds him posing as a male this time, sitting close to the counter. Tsuna has decided to ignore the issue of his existence until fate decides the time to put him in the thick of the problem without so much as a warning, so Tsuna keeps walking.

Domenica-san, the waitress, is a strict lady who still intimidates Tsuna even after almost three months of working together, but he knows she's nice and fair so when she tells him she'll be the one to give the orders to the chef, Tsuna believes her. He gives her a slight bow and a happy 'grazie' before he turns around.

Or tries to.

Someone's foot is on his way and while Tsuna avoids falling face first on the ground, he still trips onto the next table. His elbows sting a bit for taking all the impact, but he's ready to stand up and apologize for falling onto someone's tea. Until he looks up and freezes. Mist-san's currently blue eyes meet his own.

"Crap," he breathes out thankfully in Japanese. He stands up quickly, mentally cursing Stranger-san because Tsuna knows he was the one who stuck his foot out, and, ignoring the wet spot where he has been lightly burned with the tea, he bows in an apology. "I'm so, so sorry. Let me pay for the tea, please."

When Tsuna looks up, Mist-san's lips are set in a tight line. He seems ready to snap some scathing words, but his eyes briefly meet the space around his neck and he stops. His expression turns considering and Tsuna can hear his heartbeat speeding up.

No one's supposed to be able to see the necklace.

"What about my papers? You ruined them."

Tsuna almost jerks back at the change of tone, no longer angry, and moves his gaze to the table where what looks like the kind of newspaper he never takes with him to his apartment. Mostly because it looks too complicated for him to understand with his basic Italian. And going by the weird and complicated scribbles Mist-san has obviously written in the borders of the page, he doesn't think he'd understand it even with a more advanced Italian. Especially when he notices there are a couple numbers and weird formulas between all the jottings. Tsuna really hates math.

"I'll buy you another one, too." He stands up and turns to where Domenica-san is still standing. "I'll pay for the tea and the lunch after I return with the paper."

She nods and, as leaves, Tsuna is once again glad he's not seen as a worker by others and his clumsiness is not tied with the hotel. He gives another brief nod to Mist-san before he goes running to the store, hoping he didn't see the necklace tightening the hold around his neck in silent comfort.

Just in case, he makes sure to subtly kick Stranger-san's chair when he passes by.

He trips again for his efforts.

- x -

"This doesn't solve anything," Mist –san grumbles with the new paper in his hands.

Tsuna nods his head sadly in understanding. The words and numbers Mist-san wrote on the borders are probably more valuable than the paper itself and now they are all wet. "I could re-write it, if you'd like?" he offers.

Mist-san pushes both the dry paper and the wet one in his hands. "Start, then."

Surprised, Tsuna merely nods and does as he's told. His necklace is under his shirt and Mist-san is not looking at his collarbone, but he still remains tense as he works.

"So, um, what's this?" Tsuna asks after the silence between them grows uncomfortable. Mist-san doesn't look at him from where he's eating what Tsuna knows is an expensive meal he will have to pay for later.

"Stock market," he simple answers before returning to his meal.

It's like talking to Stranger-san.

"I've heard about it, but I'm not sure how it works…" he trails off in an attempt for the other to explain and maybe start a conversation. It obviously doesn't work. He tries for the direct approach a minute later, "So what does stock market mean?"

Mist-san gives his a withering glare. "You buy and sell stocks."

His confusion must have been pretty clear on his face, because Mist-san looks even more annoyed.

"It's an investment. You buy a stock, a part of a company, and hold it until the profits go up because that means the price of your share goes up. Then, you can sell it for more than you paid for."

Tsuna surprisingly understands. A bit. It seems easy. Perhaps too easy "That sounds… nice? I thought stock market was more complicated?"

"It is complicated. And hard. If there are more sellers than buyers, the price goes down and you can lose everything."

Oh, yeah. That sounds more like what he thought the stock market was about.

"One needs to know when to sell, hold and buy. For that, having information about the company you're investing in is important. As is the political and socioeconomic state of the place your stocks are in."

Aaand Tsuna is lost. He looks down at the words and numbers he's written and can understand why the other looked so annoyed. "I'm really sorry for… you know."

"Just finish with that."

Tsuna nods. Though he really wants to make up for it, possible stalker or not. Although… Mist-san mentioned how important information is. Maybe that's what he's doing? There's been quite a few very important looking people in the hotel the last few days, after all. One could be the owner of a company Mist-san has bought a stock of.

That thought brightens him a little.

(The fact Mist-san is a stalker is still there, it's just easier to ignore. Tsuna doesn't want to think about how grey his view of life has turned for him to classify every person non-hell bent on world domination as normal.)

As he finishes writing the last numbers, Tsuna mentally pokes at his intuition to see if it knows a way he can help Mist-san. Usually this doesn't work, but for some reason this time his intuition is oddly specific as it points him to a spot in the paper where the name of a company is.

"You should buy this one and hold it for… eight days. Yup, eight days," he says out of the blue as he returns the paper.

"It's a recent one," Mist-san answers as if that explains everything. It probably does.

Tsuna shrugs. "I've a good feeling about it."

"That's not how it works."

And with those parting words, Mist-san stands up and leaves. The first time he's done so before Tsuna. He checks the hour on the clock of the bar and with an almost silent 'eep!' he runs to the counter.

Domenica-san gives him a pat on his shoulder when she tells him how much he has to pay. Tsuna sobs as he pulls his wallet out and makes sure to send his more hateful glare to Stranger-san, who is still sitting in the same spot eating some biscuit.

(The watering eyes and the pout is probably what makes Stranger-san snort. Tsuna still tries.)

- x -

"And how was your day?" Stranger-san tells him as soon as he opens the door of his apartment. For some reason, Huo-san is there too, sipping a cup of tea with a small frown on his face.

Tsuna ignores that for the moment and tries to will away the aneurysm he feels forming. "I went out first! And I was on a bike! How did you—" He breathes out and closes his eyes. Makes his mind go as blank as he can. "It doesn't matter; I'll just go and take a bath."

Maybe meditation is not so bad. The disappointed pout on Stranger-san's face is so satisfying to see. The image is enough to feed a couple of nightmares, but still satisfying. He turns to Huo-san. "Did your… job go well?"

That at least lifts some of Huo-san's humor. "As well as it can be, Ozora." He nods at him. "You're controlling your emotions better. Well done."

He smiles proudly and nods back. Also, meditation has given him ideas to helping him reign in his flames better and because of that he's more calm. He can feel the synchronization with his intuition improve a bit and if he relaxes enough, sometimes it feels like nothing can surprise him, as if his mind were in constant Hyper Dying Will mode. Probably that's why his guard against weird things is almost completely down when he comes out of the bathroom, feeling peaceful.

Tsuna is so distracted he doesn't see anything wrong when Stranger-san says, "That's a nice necklace you wear."

His hand instantly goes to brush the soft texture of the necklace, as usual. The action is instinctive as he constantly checks he's wearing it. He really doesn't want a repeat of the day he met Huo-san, as much as he likes the man.

"It was a gift," he says. Technically right; it's not like he had the option to deny it when the other person disappeared before Tsuna could say a word. And it's not as if he can afford to not use it if he doesn't want every flame user in his vicinity on his—

Wait.

"She will hide your flames as she hides herself, too."

Right. He hasn't taken it off even while bathing and while it's true that it's currently over his shirt, no one should be able to see it.

He slowly looks up to meet Stranger-san's smug gaze. He holds it for a couple long seconds, notices the real glare on Huo-san's face, and shrugs. Frankly, it doesn't surprise him anymore how Stranger-san just knows things.

"You take all the joy out of being right."

"Good," he says before serving himself some tea.

"Aren't you going to tell me what are you hiding, little Ozora?"

"Stop it," Huo-san says when Tsuna visibly winces, his voice almost resembling a growl.

Tsuna places a hand on Huo-san's arm. He concentrates on the faint feeling that's Yamamoto's flames and pulls at them to calm the Storm flames constantly seething under Huo-san's restraint. Some to calm himself, too.

Piccolo Ozora, that's what uncle Kawahira called him before sending him to this time.

He takes a deep breath and his hands ghost over the metal around his neck. Poking at his intuition doesn't get him anything. Looking at Stranger-san's face tells him nothing either. It's guarded unlike the usual blank face he wears to have the upper hand. That little change should be enough, would have been enough for his younger self, but… he doesn't even know his real name.

He doesn't know yours either, a voice inside his head says, but it sounds like his own guilt talking. Tsuna knows he can't reveal his real name to anyone. He's Natsu and Ozora first and only Tsuna in the confines of his mind. Natsu is shy whenever talking in Italian and hardworking; he's the one who thinks of the rent and food, the one who worries. Ozora is the one who lives among the crazy stuff, accepting all with amused resignation. Neither one is No-Good and bullied like Tsuna and they're both a bit more confident in himself.

Names are important. They're connected to the self of a person. Tsuna knows this and it's because of that he always refers to himself as Tsuna in his mind and tries to make his personas more like the kid who always trips and flails around, because that's the one who has precious friends and is willing to sacrifice himself for them.

Natsu and Ozora are Tsuna, but who is Stranger-san? In this time where cellphones are not common and letters are, names and addresses are important. Huo-san chose Fire as his name because his life is too dangerous to give his real one out. Maybe one day he will but for now Tsuna is happy to have a postal code to send him a letter in case he needs to contact him unlike Stranger-san, whose name was chosen by Tsuna.

What does that even mean?

He asks to know what he's hiding, but what has Tsuna done to gain his trust? What has Stranger-san done to gain his?

Being a Sky has become a large part of his own identity in the last few months; one of the few couple things Ozora, Natsu and Tsuna all have in common. It's a strength, but in a time where most Skies are already part of a Family, it can be a weakness. It's the type of information that's dangerous in the wrong hands and Tsuna doesn't need his intuition to know Stranger-san is the kind of person that will use another person's weakness against them.

The question here is if he'll use it against him.

With an oddly silent intuition, Tsuna lets go of Huo-san's arm and makes his fingers brush the scaly texture of the necklace. His eyesight sharpens on Stranger-san as he holds the necklace between his hands, letting him know his determination is bleeding through. Tsuna doesn't stop it. He wants his gaze to reveal how much trust he's giving. He wants Stranger-san to be aware of what he's implying with his actions.

"Prove me I'm not wrong. Don't make me regret it," he thinks as he pulls the necklace off and places it on top of the table between them.

The silence grows between them. Stranger-san looks more contemplative than surprised.

"You're a Sky," he says slowly, as if testing the words, careful and surprisingly delicate. The word Sky on his lips sound like a precious treasure he's cautious to let go of and not a type of flame. "You aren't simply aware of your flames; you know how to use them."

It's not a question but Tsuna still nods. He inhales and lets the calm of Hyper Dying Will mode set in. Not enough to set his hands ablaze, but still enough to make a flame appear on his forehead.

A hand grips his shoulder. "Stop."

Tsuna jumps slightly. Stranger-san moved really fast. One second he was sitting in front of him and the next... The fedora shades his eyes but Tsuna is sure he's more than a little surprised then. It makes him wonder how rare Skies must really be for him to look so ruffled (or as ruffled as he can be).

With a soft exhale, Stranger-san moves away and just then Tsuna notices the tight grip Huo-san has on his upper arm, making the suit crinkle under it. But he lets go when Stranger-san doesn't do anything else but grab the necklace from the table and inspect it.

Tsuna is actually surprised he hasn't gotten bitten.

Completely ignoring Tsuna's dumbfounded looks, Stranger-san walks around his chair until he's standing behind it. He tries glancing over his shoulder but Stranger-san's takes hold of his head to keep it in place.

"You know, right?" Stranger-san says, but it doesn't feel like he's talking to him. "It explains why you're hovering around him. After all, a young, powerful Sky who hasn't harmonized is not nothing."

"Who says I haven't harmonized?" Tsuna mumbles moodily.

"Not counting that man you call Huo, all your visits have been made by neighbors and the weird person who always leaves your breakfast. If you had Guardians, they wouldn't leave you in the conditions you're living in. Not to mention they wouldn't let you leave their sight if they could."

He hears a soft hissing from behind him as Stranger-san lets the necklace hover over his shoulders before letting it go. Tsuna shivers slightly when the necklace moves on its own and brushes against his skin until it's settled comfy around his neck. "The… 'necklace' hides your nature; makes you look unassuming. But you're still a Sky, one with a great flame purity, and Sky attraction is such a powerful thing. It's no wonder you managed to snare even me."

Tsuna is honestly hurt by that. "I-I thought my coffee was really good."

"It is good." Stranger-san ruffles his hair a little too strongly before he returns to his seat, looking relaxed. "And that's the only compliment you'll ever receive from me."

He honestly wants to beam at his words. He knows how rare it is for people like Stranger-san to compliment someone, but… he can't. He remembers the day Reborn explained to him about the famous Sky attraction and how he thought he was joking because—people orbiting around him? No-good Tsuna? It was too funny to not laugh and he expected to be kicked as usual for not taking Reborn's lessons seriously, but the baby was surprisingly silent.

"Look around you, Tsuna. Don't you see how people are orbiting around you? You're not the only one with bad grades in your school nor the worst, but you are the only one they pay attention to. People look at you, always at you, and unconsciously expect to see something greater, something more because you're a Sky."

"… but I'm just No-Good Tsuna," he'd answered back then and Reborn kicked him with a smile and told him how it was his job to fix that. He wanted to ask him if he was a bad Sky for being No-Good, wanted to ask if it was the seal on his flames that made him 'No-Good', but perhaps Reborn was able to read his thoughts because he sent him to help with the dinner in the next moment and they hadn't brought the topic up again after that.

Now he wonders if the friendships he's gained were because of himself as a person or if they were caused by the so-called Sky Attraction.

"I'm sorry. I didn't want to, um, snare you? But I don't know how to turn it off. I'm… Not Good with all of this."

"Figures you would be a Sky without self-confidence," Stranger-san grumbles before poking him hard on the forehead.

Huo-san leans forward until he can meet his eyes. "You unconsciously use your flames to harmonize with your surroundings and when you do that, the flames that leak from you harmonize with the others around you. An active flame user can instinctively feel it and sometimes without knowing, they search for the source because they want that, too. That's Sky Attraction and its part of your nature, you shouldn't apologize for something you don't really have control over."

"Oh." Tsuna murmurs as he looks down at his hands, feeling honestly a bit more relieved. "So it feels nice to be around me?"

"In short," Stranger-san says even with Huo-san in the background saying 'That's not all'. "Though one doesn't need to harmonize with a Sky to feel 'comfortable' around them. The purer the flame of the Sky is, the stronger the flames they will be able to harmonize are. I can tell your flame purity is high because you're pulling me into harmonization even with that necklace working to hide you."

Tsuna immediately backs away, out of reach. "I didn't know. I really, really didn't know. But you feel… c-comfortable with me?" he says the last part with what he thinks is a healthy amount of disbelief.

"I don't completely ignore you, do I?" he says as if that's explanation enough and the smirk Stranger-san gives him is not doing anything to calm his nerves either. But then he remembers that in contrast with other flames, the purity of a Sky is not only based on their determination, but also their personality—the capacity they've to be accepting. And that eases somewhat the knot of insecurity inside him.

There have been people commenting on how powerful his flames are, how pretty. And as he's been associated with less than flattering titles all his life that is sometimes hard to think of his flames as a part of him.

He wonders if his friends feel good around him, too. If he concentrates hard, he sometimes can feel his bond with them, but no answers come to his questions.

"How does it feel?" he asks the both of them, honestly curious. Curious enough to ignore the smug know-it-all look Stranger-san gives Huo-san for some reason as he twirls a sideburn with a finger.

"Everyone feels the need to be part of something, brat. It doesn't matter if one is the most antisocial being, people are always searching for something to give them a purpose; it's in our nature. Some join groups to fill this gap, others seek religion. And that helps them some." He stops to take a sip of his espresso but makes a face immediately after. He leaves it on the table with a frown. "The difference between a flame active and one who doesn't even know they exist is that the excess of energy caused by our flames makes us more restless than the rest. Most of us already have a purpose, a goal or something to focus our determination on. However, how we're so attuned with our flames, we constantly feel this gap inside us, this disharmony. Something that has nothing to do with purpose."

Tsuna narrows his eyes in thought. "That still doesn't explain how it feels though."

Before Stranger-san's glare can get any darker, Tsuna stands up to make more coffee.

"If you want poetry ask that suitor of yours."

"Huo-san is not my suitor!"

The fact that Huo-san is not denying it, is worrisome. Maybe that's why Stranger-san huffs in amusement. "You're right; he's only flame-courting you. That's worse."

Tsuna stops from where he's grinding the coffee and makes a face as he looks over his shoulder. "You're not… courting me, right?"

"I am," Huo-san says with a smile.

"I only come for the atmosphere and the coffee." He meets his eyes and raises an eyebrow. "I'm surprised you don't have any Guardians yet. You're almost past the age when your body releases flames to search for the best flames suited for you, after all."

That's not strange at all. "You make it sound like… mating season."

It's after saying it that he realizes what he just said. He leaves the kettle on the stove and buries his face on his hands, pointedly ignoring the amused looks he feels on his back.

"It does sound like it," Huo-san with a chuckle. "I'm not sure why Skies do that; I'm not one after all. Though that makes me curious… You asked how it feels for the other flames, but how does it feel for a Sky?"

Tsuna looks up, still red, and grumbles, "No one actually gave me an answer for that."

Stranger-san snorts. "Humans are imperfect beings searching for a place to belong and to obtain an internal balance. Skies offer both, so they seek them."

"It worries me how you talk as if you weren't human."

When he doesn't receive an answer, he turns to Huo-san who is carrying an empty kettle to the sink.

"There's some truth in what he says. Obtaining harmony is no small thing. Neither is it to be accepted so completely and to have someone to call home may not sound like much, but it really is all. When there's no option of rejection, one can lower their guard and be themselves. Look at us for example, I've dealt with Stranger-san here without you around and I can confirm he's not as comfortable as he is now. Neither am I, really."

Huo-san then hums in consideration before leaning down until his forehead touches the side of his head and his breath ghosts over his ear.

"Remember that time in the warehouse?" When Tsuna flushes, he smiles. "It was the most at peace I've ever felt. You're a really warm person, Ozora."

"I'm a Sun; my senses are better than any other flame. I can literally hear everything you say."

Tsuna is suddenly really glad that the kettle whistles in that moment. It keeps him from fainting from all the blood going to his head. He turns off the stove, trying to ignore Huo-san's laugh as he returns to his seat.

"And you're a Storm, of course you would say that. A Sky can deal with your natural aggression and give you a point of focus. Though that is the reason why Skies tend to be the boss of any group. They can guide others into being better, make them want to excel to their full potential while inspiring loyalty."

Huo-san nods, the implied insult seemingly flowing off him. Though considering there were a couple of 'thud' sounds that come from hitting someone when he turned around, maybe Huo-san isn't as unaffected. He looks over his shoulder, but the sounds are gone and they're again sitting in their seats as if nothing has happened.

"Your turn. How it is for Skies?"

Tsuna doesn't like the way Stranger-san's eyes glint but he ignores it in favor of trying to mull over an answer to give that will feel right. He comes up with nothing, as usual. Though he doesn't think he's a good person to answer. Almost immediately after unsealing his flames he gained his 'Guardians', after all, so he doesn't know how it feels to be Guardian-less.

Maybe it's something similar at how he currently feels?

"Well, I can't exactly say I know how Skies work. I've had my flames sealed for a long time and during that time I was the opposite of what one can consider a person with 'harmony' in their lives. I mean, my hand-eye coordination was so horrible, I constantly resembled a baby giraffe trying to walk for the first time. It's been a while but I'm still learning about them." He blows out a breath as he pours the water on the coffee. "The first time I came here I was so hyper aware of those around me though. So maybe that was me trying to harmonize with my surroundings, I guess? I could know if a person across the street hadn't fed their cat that day just by being near, for example. And I couldn't just go and tell them because it would be weird. I had to ignore it but it made me so anxious and, well. At least now I can kind of turn that off, so it's all good."

He grabs the jar and twirls it as he walks to his living room/bedroom. He places a new cup in front of Stranger-san and thinks of what he just said. "Um, I'm not too sure if that's related to the Sky Attraction thing as I still constantly met unsavory people and got involved in a lot of trouble."

Huo-san takes the jar with coffee from him and sets it on the table. He motions him to sit with a frown. "I wasn't aware there was a method to seal someone's flames."

"I think I heard a rumor in passing about it," Stranger-san adds with the same dark tone.

Crap.

"It's okay! My dad authorized it because he didn't want me to be pulled into the mafia—" Not that it worked. "—And now it's gone so I'm a Sky again."

The looks that they exchange don't promise anything good. Stranger-san hasn't even served himself some espresso, but Tsuna takes his hostility as him promising he'll keep his secret safe. So with false cheer, he ends up serving him a cup.

Luckily he has work to go to soon; a good excuse to go to the bathroom and start getting ready.

- x -

Chapter Text

Chapter 5

Mist-san comes the next day as an old lady. And the day after that as a male teenager. After that, a couple of the shady people who stayed don't come anymore and Tsuna learns later that day the police found a group of people in a dark alley not far from the hotel, killed by gunshots. Tsuna is not sure if Mist-san had some hand in their deaths. His intuition is silent when he prods it, but at the same time oddly reassuring.

The day after that, Mist-san doesn't come and there's a sudden influx of police officers around the place instead. They visit the hotel to ask questions and Tsuna gets a free-day because of it, which he spends it thinking about the mafia and flames, feeling a bit odd because he wasn't pulled into anything too crazy. The current patrons left are still shady, yes, but he honestly thought something was going to happen with him in the middle of it.

He immediately knocks on something made of wood. After all, the patrons are still there to cause him trouble so it's not as if he's safe yet.

Probably nothing will happen until the police leave though. Everyone seems cautious with them around. However, aside from the trigger-happy feelings he gets from some of them, everything seems the same.

Oh well, what's done is done. He'll ignore the whole thing happened and will continue spending his afternoons with Stranger-san and his nights sleeping next to Huo-san since he has taken his demand of sleeping over whenever he does a massacre-y type of mission as a suggestion to sleep every night on his couch/bed with him.

Tsuna stops walking as he realizes how strange his life is turning. And sociable. There's almost no time in which he's alone. Either he's working around others or at home, accompanied. It's been so long since he just had some alone time.

It's… nice. But also tiring. He's now kind of glad he left the bike at the hotel so he could walk back home. Some time alone enjoying his surroundings seems like the perfect way of spending his morning. Who knows when the chance will come again?

Just in case as he takes a turn onto a street he doesn't know, wanting to get lost for a bit. He always looks around, cautious that some ramen store will appear from out of nowhere and take advantage of his alone status.

Luckily, no one tries to kidnap him this time.

Not so luckily, his intuition is leading him some place.

He even has to take the train and stay there for two stops before his intuition nudges him to stand up from his seat and move. A new unfamiliar street and two turns later, he's standing in front of a tall, green building. He can't see what was inside even with the glass doors because of the second set of metal doors circling the building and a small garden in front of it. The stairs leading to the glass doors and his height doesn't help him any either.

Tsuna hovers outside for a bit, looking around. It's obvious he's in the residential area; the sign advertising the apartments available is too big a clue. With a deja-vu feeling hovering over his shoulders, he presses the button among many his intuition signals him to and a couple of seconds is what it takes for the front doors to open with a click.

Whoever opened the door was clearly waiting for another person and not him. Still. If he doesn't go inside his intuition will give him a headache.

With a last glance around, Tsuna pushes the door open, goes in, and sees what looks like a reception room. Though it seems more like a boot with only glass to separate the clients from the receptionist. The counter behind the glass is small and empty, but homey. There's a door behind the small chair that probably leads to a room or the person in charge's apartment.

He looks left and right, but other than closed doors (probably apartments), there's nothing else.

His intuition tells him to take the stairs up so he follows it. There's no windows or some other opening in the walls like the building he rents his apartment in, but he can see lamps in the corners so it probably isn't as scary at night as it can be.

On the fifth floor, he stops. It's early morning and the sunrays light everything enough to make it look innocent, almost cozy. But Tsuna still can't shake out the ominous mood the first door to the left gives off. It's slightly ajar, pieces of a thin white duct tape on the edges, not like the kind one sees in criminal soaps but similar, clearly broken and, while not old-looking, Tsuna gets the feeling that someone put it there to stop others from entering, and as soon as they could, someone tried very hard to take it all off.

He approaches until he can hear a scrub-like sound coming from inside, shaky pants, and sometimes nothing more than deep breaths accompanying it.

The whole horror movie set up is making him more nervous than he normally would be.

"Go to my pocket," he murmurs as he takes a deep breath, preparing for a fight, just in case. The necklace warms slightly, metal turning into something more alive, and with a hissing sound that sounds more like a scoff, it slithers down his chest until it reaches the ground and goes inside the apartment, fiery-like scales looking very noticeable on top of the pale floor.

Tsuna blinks rapidly until the surprise wears off. He sighs, because of course this is happening to him. He crosses his fingers, hopes there's no serial killer with an axe or some other weird pointy object inside, and enters.

It seems luck is on his side because there's no person wearing a hockey mask on the other side of the door. There's an old lady cleaning instead.

"Hi?" he says when she looks up from where she's kneeling on the ground. There's a thin sheen of sweat between her eyebrows and a tired vibe coming from her as she fixes her thin brown glasses with the back of her palm.

"Good morning. What can I do for you, young man?" she asks in typical upbeat Italian fashion, as if the words have been rehearsed many times. Because it's clear her face doesn't match her tone at all.

"Eh…"

Tsuna glances at the brownish spot she's cleaning and the bucket with water next to her, before his gaze move to her red stained hands. The smell hovering in the air is heavy but easy to recognize after so many fights and having lived in close quarters with women with not enough resources to buy pads for their monthly needs.

A second sniff makes him sure it's blood. What she's scrubbing is blood from the floor. It doesn't take a genius to realize it's not caused by a monthly misfortune.

She seems to notice his staring as she looks briefly down to her hands and the dirty, wet cloth. When she looks up again, there's a sad, self-deprecating smile on her lips, deepening the lines around her eyes and making her incredibly older. "There was an accident."

It must have been a really awful accident, Tsuna thinks as he looks at the trail that clearly goes from the room next to the kitchen to the one they're in.

"Do you need some help?" he asks because the old lady's eyes are slightly red and shiny. There's also a weight on her shoulders that looks too heavy for someone so old to carry.

She looks unsure, but Tsuna kneels in front of her and uses some of his flames around him to calm her. He smiles. "My name's Natsu. I clean rooms in a hotel so I've got experience."

"I'm Ornella," she says answering back with a weak smile, light blue eyes softening. "What a nice young man you are."

Tsuna nods and moves to grab the mop he can see on one corner. "I will start over there and we can meet in the middle, okay?"

Some doubt enters her features before she stands up, too. "It's better if I clean the bathroom. You can help me with the floor here?"

"Sure," he says, but he's already in a perfect position to see the bathroom from his peripheral view. There are pieces of glass on the ground, next to the sink, a bigger one close to the tub where the bloody fingertips on it are too clear to be confused as something else.

Involuntarily, his flames, no longer controlled by the help of mist flames, expand and reach the room. Imprints of what happened are processed through his brain until he can get a mental picture just by the locations of the things sprawled around and the damages done overall.

Suicide, his intuition tells him, but it feels wrong in a way.

Tsuna moves away from the bathroom and receives the cloth Ornella-san gives him as he continues exuding more flames around the apartment. There are Mist flames, it adds and Tsuna's grip tightens because now he has identified them, it's hard to ignore because they're strong.

He starts cleaning, one eye looking for the locations his companion may be hiding as he tries to ignore the foreboding feeling forming deep in his gut.

- x -

It's not until it's almost one that they're done. Ornella-san seems more relaxed but it may be thanks to his flames than because of the company. She offers him lunch in her apartment and Tsuna is ready to deny her politely as he hasn't found his companion but in that moment he feels something slither up his leg. It makes him want to shiver. He doesn't and instead nods at Ornella-san.

"That would be nice."

Leaving eases more of the tension of her frame. Tsuna takes the opportunity she's giving him her back to place the current snake between his hands. She doesn't seem to want to return to being a necklace, so Tsuna places her inside the pocket of his jacket. Though, who knows? Kawahira-san told him as long as he thought of her as a necklace she will stay a necklace. Maybe the Mist-flames of the apartment unsettled him more than he thought for her to return in her companion form. She still shields him from being sensed by others, but now any flame active can tell he's a Sky.

The faint tint of orange in his eyes that's been present since he came to Italy is a big giveaway.

"Natsu?"

Tsuna looks up from the bowl filled with peanuts he's been eating from, slightly embarrassed he hasn't been paying attention to what she's saying. "I'm sorry, could you repeat that?"

"It's fine. I was just asking if you came to visit someone. Anna told me his cousin was going to come, but you don't look like her."

"Oh, uh, no. I was—" A sudden image of the doors of the building appears in his mind, filled with papers of the apartments available. "—looking for a new apartment?"

What.

She doesn't seem to notice how his answer came out as a question or the shocked expression he wears afterwards, she merely nods. "There are only two-bedroom apartments, I'm afraid. Unless you were planning to share with someone?"

He thinks of the two people constantly visiting him as he internally sobs at all the trouble he will endure by moving out. "No, just me."

"Well, the residential building next to this one has a couple, I think."

No, no, his intuition chants in a way that sends chills down the back of his head. Even after long months; he still feels apprehension whenever his intuition acts in a way that's too aware to be normal. It's connected to him, he's sure. He knows it only acts on his wishes and needs, but hearing a small voice repeating the words 'here, here' over and over makes him think he's going crazy.

Just in case he curls the fingers of his right hand where the bandage is and almost lets out a sigh of relief when he realizes his palm is not feeling like burning.

"What about the one we just cleaned?" he asks with only a slight frown to show his forming headache. The pleased purr he receives doesn't make him any better.

Her eyebrows go up, some of her tension returning. "You realize someone… died there. Right?"

"I know," he says. He could add how his current apartment was obtained in a similar way or how he's sadly used to living among misfortune because of those days living with too many people in a too small room. He could say how Napoli has made him used to things he hadn't wanted to ever get used to, but he doesn't as she nods with a small sad smile that says 'I understand'.

She most likely does. She's old and must have lived harder times than him.

As she explains the payment, Tsuna only feels guilty that the documents he will have to give her are kind of false.

- x -

Tsuna has to go directly to the bar afterwards, feeling bad that he couldn't tell Stranger-san he wasn't going to be able to make him coffee. It's true his phone made it to the time-travel trip but it's too modern for it too work. Besides, is not as if cellphones are popular in this time; they're really rare and expensive.

The guilt doesn't recede when he returns home, instead it turns into dread as he realizes that Stranger-san is the kind of person to shoot first, ask questions later. Huo-san notices his distress, of course. He serves him some tea he doesn't know the name of and that actually helps. When they're both in bed he even feels glad that Huo-san is sleeping in his apartment instead of just coming when his psyche needs it as sleeping next to another person's flames is comfortable and familiar for him to completely enjoy.

However, perhaps the recurrence is making them both bolder because the next day Tsuna doesn't feel as glad when he wakes up with arms around him and his face resting on a shoulder.

Comfortable, yes. But it's one thing to wake up tangled with someone he doesn't really know and won't have to deal with on a day to day basis; another is to cuddle with a friend.

Stranger-san's half amused stare is almost a physical touch on the back of his head.

Tsuna doesn't even wonder what he's doing in his apartment so early. His sixth sense probably told him something embarrassing is occurring to him.

"Huo-san?" he calls, his voice coming slightly muffled because while their legs are luckily not tangled, they're still pressed almost chest to chest. A sleepy content hum is his answer, because of course he's awake. "Do you mind giving me some space?"

There's a sigh before the grip holding him loosens.

He decides to ignore how he really wants to return to that embrace as it's a normal feeling he always gets since he discovered the wonders of cuddling. He will have to go and search someone soon to do it though as it really helps with his headaches, something that's occurring too often lately. Hopefully without looking like a creeper. Not this Saturday as he will go out with the Ninth and Coyote-san, but he probably can convince Zaid to go out with him next week as he already knows about his weird tendencies.

"Apologies if I made you uncomfortable," Huo-san says when they're a safe distance apart.

"Don't worry, I understand." Tsuna yawns as he sits up, choosing to look at Huo-san instead of meeting Stranger-san's eyes. Seeing his amusement will probably ruin the sleepy state he gets in before completely waking up. "Should have expected it considering my record. Though taking that into account, I will start wearing lighter clothes just in case. These make me feel stuffy."

"Your record?"

Tsuna stops briefly from where he's crawling to the edge of the bed. "Uh. My first weeks in Italy were pretty weird?"

"Weird enough that you don't blush at waking up like that? It almost seems out of character."

Tsuna narrows his eyes, finally risking meeting Stranger-san's gaze and his condescendingly raised eyebrow. "What are you trying to say?"

"That you usually go red if you use a name without a suffix."

"I would not!" Tsuna looks at Huo-san who is currently fixing his braid and too entertained to be good.

"Yes, Ozora?"

Tsuna sits in seiza position on the bed, hands gripping tightly his pajama pants. He makes sure his eyes never waver from Huo-san as he says, with the most seriousness, "Huo."

There's a long second of silence before Huo-san throws his head back and starts laughing. Other weird noises are coming from him whenever he tries to stop, but a look to his face is enough to have him double over again. There's even a surprised chortle that sounds like Stranger-san's coming from behind him. A glance lets him know he's only a little better than Huo-san himself. And he should probably start calling him Huo in his mind, too; to get used to it.

His seiza position doesn't waver even when his cheeks start feeling hot.

"I-I'm sorry, so sorry," Huo says between chuckles. "It's just—just your face. So eager and—" He takes a deep breath and doesn't continue.

To be honest, it's a bit weird seeing both with honest and unrestrained expressions on their faces. A nice sort of weird. A bit scary, too. At least he doesn't shiver anymore whenever Huo smiles or he would have fainted at hearing him laugh.

(It makes him wonder if Hibari-san also laughs like that, deep and throaty but still obviously coming from his belly. Half surprised and half amazed as it shakes his whole body. It makes him shudder to think but it also fills him with nostalgia)

"What about mine?" Stranger-san says with a wide grin, shaking him out of his thoughts.

Glad he may be to make them laugh, Tsuna feels a bit vindictive even if it's been a while since Stranger-san has shot him. He looks him dead in the eye, making his expression as dead as he can and, using a bit of his flames to make his eyes gleam eerily and his voice a tad deeper, he says, "Stranger."

Huo snorts but Stranger-san looks almost pouty as he sits back on his chair and tips his fedora up with a finger. "My name's Renato."

Blinking twice, Tsuna can only mumble a "What?"

Stranger-san—or Renato now—doesn't repeat himself and Tsuna can only stare at him dumbly, because while his intuition tells him it's not his real name, the one he was born with, it hadn't felt like a lie when he used it.

Renato, the Italian word for reborn. Is that why his tutor's name is Reborn? A memento, perhaps? If Reborn had a kid, would he name them Renacido or some other translation of the word reborn?

It doesn't matter; Tsuna's been given something important today and he'll appreciate it for the gift that it is. He smiles. "Would you like some coffee then, Renato?"

"Do you even need to ask?" he says, making Tsuna's eyebrow twitch. He glances over his shoulder to ask if Huo wants something else than the usual, if only to be polite, and sees Huo's troubled look.

"Huo?" he asks, worried, but maybe not using a suffix made it worse.

He receives a shake of head and a weird smile that probably means he's going to have to ask later, when Renato is not around. With a sigh, he steps on the cold floor and walks to the bathroom.

"I want double coffee for what I didn't get yesterday," Renato drawls, voice bored but still promising pain.

Tsuna throws him a glare. He doesn't know why he felt guilty yesterday in the first place.

- x -

The next chance he gets to be alone with Huo is that same night, when they're both preparing to get in bed. He's exhausted because of all the running around he's had to do that day. With the police being a constant presence, he now needs to be more careful. He's a minor working without a contract in both places and while it's not exactly unusual, it's still against the law. Working with that kind of pressure is tiring, but it doesn't stop him from asking Huo what his real name is before the man moves to turn off his lamp.

"I don't have a name," is his answer, which he doesn't understand even if he's sure it's not a lie. He turns off the light and settles on his right. "In the Triads, we're given numbers to identify ourselves. We can only be given names once we reach a certain notoriety."

"That's… is that why your name means fire?"

He can see Huo nod thanks to the faint light coming from the window. "Only the Triad's aces are given the name 'Huo-long'."

"Oh." Tsuna frowns. Long means dragon, if he's not mistaken. Fire dragon does seem weirdly fitting, but… Just a while ago he was thinking about names and how they factor in one's identity, though not like this. He hadn't meant it in a completely literal sense. Huo-long is a name with a specific persona already in mind, more of a title and not something his friend grew up with and made it his.

It's wrong.

He takes a deep breath, refocuses his attention on the person who he feels has been watching him intently as he thought, and asks, "What do you like me to call you?"

Huo hums in a distracted way as he reaches a hand to ruffle his hair out of his eyes. It's probably the time for Tsuna to cut it before it puffs even more. "What do you mean?"

"Well, Huo is your position, right? You can choose a name now. I'll call you that."

His hand stills from where is retreating to his side.

"Will you?" he asks softly.

There's a familiar weight that settles on his shoulders when he considers the question, as if something big is going to happen if he says 'yes'. He says it anyways, because it also feels so right.

A smile, so warm it cannot be hidden by the dark of the night. "You're a good person," he says. Then arms settle around him, bring him close to his chest, slowly, as if giving him the option to push them away, but Tsuna doesn't protest. He's tired and his headaches have been a constant this last week; they both need it.

When his head is under Huo's chin and Tsuna's face is so close to his neck he can almost hear the pulse underneath the skin, he hears him murmur, "I like the name Fong."

Tsuna feels his breath catch in his throat, but denial is his friend so it doesn't take him long to regain it. First Reborn's dad and now Fon's, too?

It must be Fate. Or his intuition trying to be funny.

"Follow your intuition; it'll lead you to your goal."

Tsuna presses even closer, let's their flames warm each other. "Fong means wind, right? It suits you."

"Not yet," Fong says, burying his nose in his hair.

"Not yet," he repeats, because the wind is free and Fong feels too caged for that. "But it will."

- x -

Lately surprises seem to be something he's receiving every morning and not a thing that happens from time to time whenever he steps out of his apartment, where he will have to interact with people his intuition will led him to. Going by the previous statement, the surprises have incremented since he's now interacting with others inside his apartment, too. He should probably just learn how to live with them and continue with his life.

The thing is, he remembers falling asleep with Fong in his bed-couch which luckily is more than big enough for both of them. He even remembers waking up at two to go to the bathroom as Fong mumbled some Confucius weird thing when he returned and held him close again.

That begs the question: why has he woken up between Fong and Renato.

He is too wary to even breathe.

(His reaction is probably the reason Renato decided to join in, but still)

At breakfast, after pointedly ignoring the elephant lying next to him to stand up to wash himself, he even has the gall to say, "I had forgotten how comfortable sleeping next to a Sky is, even with that excuse for a bed."

"Don't talk about me as if I'm an object!"

"You are very comfortable to sleep with."

"Don't encourage him, Fong," he mutters, returning to the bathroom to change his clothes. There's no reaction from Renato at the change of name, but again, he always takes everything in stride. He wonders if that unflappable confidence is the one that makes him able to wear a pink pajama covered in big, bright yellow stars with the number '1' inside of each of them without feeling self-conscious.

At least he also knows where Reborn got that.

- x -

Before he leaves, Fong for some reason out of nowhere decides to say, "You should always be wary of the other shoe before it drops."

Tsuna does his best to just bury the weird comment deep inside his mind as he works, but it doesn't really go well. He's not sure if Fong is talking about the Mist user or the reveal of his Sky status or the seal thing on his flames he still sees Fong and Renato mumble about.

He doesn't know if Fong knows everything that happens like Renato seems to, but he will not put it past him.

Just as he goes to bed that night with two men he wants to ignore the existence of lying next to him, Tsuna decides to chalk it up as one of the weird things Fong says out the blue.

"My arm is not a teddy bear."

Tsuna presses Renato's arm tighter against his chest. "You're the one who wanted me to use it as a pillow."

"Only the upper arm," he grumbles, but doesn't do anything else. Tsuna can't see his face as he's giving him his back but going on by Fong's expression, it must be something funny.

- x -

The damned shoe drops nine days after he's talked last with Mist-san; the same day he will go with Zaid and Chiara to see the stuntman's show.

That day Renato annoys him so much Tsuna goes out to his job a bit earlier than normal. He can't see the sun in the washed out gray sky, but the leaves decorating the streets are yellow and orange. Considering the great amount of trees in Italy it's really beautiful. He can feel his fingers almost frozen inside his gloves but he still pulls them off to take pictures with his phone when he's sure there's no once close.

That day is especially nice as it's not raining, but winter is almost around the corner so it's a bit colder than usual. Fog covers the windows of the stores he passes and the wind is so harsh it bruises his cheeks in a painful way. The weather is the one that makes him surprised to see a girl siting on the bench outside the bar he works at, reading a newspaper with an anxious face and a thin coat, all while not wearing gloves.

He's also pretty sure the young female is actually Mist-san.

"Um, are you okay, Miss?"

She looks up at him, her eyes are a bit red and puffy but Tsuna thinks that's part of the illusion too. It doesn't stop him from hovering close to offer her his gloves. Tsuna is cheap like that.

"No, don't worry. I'm okay. I'm just—" She stares her almost purple fingers and her voice trembles when she murmurs brokenly, "I'm not okay."

It's an act, Tsuna knows. His intuition even confirms it. He still kneels in front of her and offers a napkin.

"What happened?"

With a dry laugh, she waves a hand. "I got into the stock market. Won so much I got cocky and ran away from home." She sucks in a shuddering breath and holds it tight as if fighting a sob before she exhales. "N-now I barely have for a room in a shit motel and all the rest of my savings are on a company that will die by the end of the day."

Okay, he has a feeling of where this is going.

He looks over at the bar and points at it. "I work there, so how about we do this: Let's go inside and warm up, then I can invite you something to eat. I don't know much about the stock, but someone explained it to me once and Antonio-san is into it, too, so maybe we can help you, okay? I'm Natsu, by the way."

"Mona," she answers the silent inquire after a long pause, giving him a small smile, wobbly and wet but still beautiful on her pale face.

It fills him with a sense of foreboding.

(He blames Renato.)

- x -

Giorgio-san offers to give her a part-time job after hearing her sob story. Chiara-san is being taught the ropes of being a barista seeing that Antonio-san will soon leave because his sister will need some help when her son is born and she doesn't think herself able of handling a baby with her own father to care. So taking into account he's off to Calabria in two weeks, more hands to help is appreciated.

It's like one stock-loving person leaves and Giorgio-san needs another one to fill its post.

Thankfully, Mona-san refuses. Something about being allergic to cigarette's smoke or something similar. She then spends the time on a small table located in the corner of the bar, far away from the other clients with Antonio-san, who seems happy to meet someone whom he shares hobbies with. It's a bit weird seeing them talk, actually. Or discuss? He doesn't know, but it's likely that whatever role she was planning to wear is becoming thinner with every heated argument about why this company doesn't work and why the other one does.

He's not even sure if Mona-san has already left and it's a solid illusion what he sees.

In another note, he's never seen Antonio-san this worked up. Or any other strong Rain without a death situation hanging close, to tell the truth. Squalo-san doesn't count as he's always worked up.

... He probably needs to meet more flame users as to not fall into stereotypes.

"What do you think, Natsu?" she asks, pointedly ignoring a grumbling Antonio-san.

Tsuna should remind her he's in working hours and if Antonio is sitting in front of her at all is because there are not that many clients to start with. But he doesn't. He's still unable to refuse a request, so he sighs instead. He inspects the newspaper and lets his finger move between all the companies in the guise of trying to read better. He then points the one his intuition recommends him before leaving to continue cleaning floors, which are dirtier than normal because it started to rain an hour ago.

Not that the change of weather affects Zaid. He probably hasn't noticed as he's been distracted all day, apparently. Constantly torn between looking to some furniture to space out and giddily serving coffee or alcohol.

Usually this kind of action would be normal on a Friday, as Saturdays are the days one of them gets the day off and Zaid likes to spend the day before planning what he will do. But considering the date, Tsuna doesn't blame him.

This week is luckily Chiara-san's free day as she likes to take some time to prepare; she will return later for when their shift is over, earlier than usual but that's why Antonio-san is here. He'll cover so they can all leave because he's nice like that. And also the only one who can survive Giorgio-san bitter grumblings about slacking off. With hope, Giorgio-san will mellow after half an hour.

Throwing a glance on Mona-san's direction makes him wonder if she came this day because the Ninth or if she chose it because the next day he'll be only return home the next morning and Fong and Renato don't usually visit on Sundays; their attempt at giving him some normal privacy.

The necklace tightens around his neck in silent comfort.

Or maybe in annoyance as she still is a boa and they like to constrict their victims from what he's read.

Chapter Text

Chapter 6

The Ninth walks through the doors, inspiring respect with just a look even while wearing casual clothes (or what passes for casual clothes in this time; they're too tight for his liking). It's kind of amazing as he can't be older than twenty-five, yet looks so assured of himself. Coyote-san walks a step behind, next to him, with chin held high and a faint scowl on his face. Going on by the triumphant smile on the Ninth's face, he was the one who put it there.

As if Zaid just developed supernatural speed, he appears behind them, not wearing the apron, both arms around their shoulders. Tsuna looks back to where he's sure Zaid was cleaning the counter a second ago. Antonio-san is there, chuckling. He returns his gaze over and meets the Ninth's eyes, a hint of golden in them.

He tries a smile. "Hi, Timoteo-san, Coyote-san. Chiara-san is on her way here. Want a cup while we wait?"

"It would be our pleasure, Natsu. Right, Nougat?"

Coyote-san nods.

Zaid waves at Antonio-san. "You heard that, old man? I'm a client now. Espresso all around."

"Client my ass. Come here and make it yourself."

Tsuna laughs as he goes to the back of the room in a quick pace as to not be pull into what will be some of Zaid's famous sulking. With his apron safe in the racks, he returns. Mona-san is now leaning on the counter. His smile automatically appears but it falters when he notice the odd gleam in her eyes. It's similar to the one in Mukuro's when he finds something amusing. Usually pain or something humiliating is involved.

It's not reassuring.

"You're going out."

Is not a question but Tsuna nods anyways. "There's a stuntman's show Zaid's been all crazy about. DeMorte, I think?"

"I've heard of him." Mona-san looks in the direction of the doors and hums. "Do you know a good place I could rent a room with this money?"

"Oh. Right, I'm sorry." He follows her gaze to the handful of lire on her hand before looking up at the dark sky. "Damn and it's dark."

He blinks. This may actually be good. There's a new set of available options he now can choose from that can serve as excuses to not go out with the Ninth and Coyote-san, both whom Tsuna is almost certain can recognize the similarities between himself and Primo. He just needs to use a Reborn-level of bulshiting to pull it and be smooth. Like, make-up concealer smooth.

Nodding to himself, he gives another smile to Mona-san and turns around.

The Ninth's chin meets his gaze. He slowly looks up until he can see him in the eyes. The gold hint is still there.

"Is this a friend of yours, Natsu?"

Tsuna's mouth is so dry, he doesn't think he's able to make a sound. It'll probably come out as a croak.

"We met today," Mona-san says, looking down. The perfect picture of shy and demure. "I wasn't feeling good and he helped me."

The Ninth's seems to notice that something weird is going on but hasn't realized yet that he's talking to an illusion.

"Well, if you want to lift your mood, maybe you want to accompany us? The more the merrier, right, Nougat?"

"We do have another ticket," Coyote-san answers from behind Mona-san, startling the hell out of him. His eyes go from one person to the other. Realizing there's no escape available, he hangs his head.

Mona-san agrees, because of course she does.

- x -

Chiara-san seems ecstatic to have another woman going with them. She takes her under her metaphorical wing and because she's good and knows how little interaction he wants with the Ninth, she includes him in their supposed hush-hush conversation. He can hear Zaid saying how he just has a way with the ladies, so he sends him a glare Chiara-san is happy to join in.

The car the Ninth leads them to, is an old thing in Tsuna's eyes, but Zaid is whistling in appreciation and Coyote-san is puffing out in pride so he guesses it must be a recent model or a popular one. The Ninth mentions something about it being an Impala, but aside from noting it's a Chevrolet, a brand he recognizes, he ignores any more car babble, in favor of checking if it has seatbelts, briefly wondering why not a more Italian car.

But, well, it's pretty, black, shiny and has seat-belts—well enough for Tsuna.

They all fit inside with the Ninth, Coyote-san and Zaid on the front. He's in the back with Mona-san and Chiara-san.

The ride is surprisingly nice. They poke fun of Coyote-san's driving skills that reassembles a granny's in Chiara-san's opinion and Tsuna's yell of 'How the heck is this slow?!' as he presses himself against his seat, trying and failing to grab something that will give him some assurance. Zaid's dreamy sighs add humor to the situation, completely obvious to the laughs.

Mona-san joins the conversation too, seemingly enjoying herself. If Tsuna could ignore she's a mist user and possibly nothing more than an illusion, he'd classify as an innocent person. But she isn't, so Tsuna doesn't bother deluding himself.

- x -

Tsuna has never been to a show like this one. He's not fond of bikes even if he did enjoy to riding them when he wasn't fighting for his life. His friends had to watch him riding one but the circumstances were so different he knows they didn't like it either. Should had been him the one taking the role of spectator in that fight, he's sure his anxiety would have reached new levels.

Now that he thinks about it, the only times he's been a spectator was to see his friends fighting.

This is different though. And he's glad the yells and whistles surrounding him make him unable to reminisce, distracting as they are. Even with them being on the front seats, the noise is so loud it makes it next to impossible to talk with the person sitting next to one. While Tsuna is used to commotion going on around him, he still finds annoying. Though he admits there's just something about being surrounded by excited people that makes one more awake. Infectious, maybe.

There's what looks like a course in the center the famous stuntman has to complete, full of spins and free-falls and so many things he doesn't know the name of in it, but look dangerous. He's still inspecting it when the lights that were illuminating it go off. He doesn't know why everyone howls when the lights come out again, but Tsuna can't help laughing and joining, his intuition thrumming inside him as it picks the dominant emotions around him.

A guy comes out in a slightly familiar black and purple jumpsuit, wearing a helmet like one wears a hat. His hair is not seen but his grin is wide and catching. Someone gives him a microphone and he speaks what sounds like a greeting, but Tsuna's untrained ears can't pick up the exact words because of his accent.

"Are you ready?" he says, coming clear in his loud voice. He laughs at the yells he receives and it's like his excitement spreads to the public like a physical force.

His heart beats loudly on his ears and there's an emotion close to exhilaration that makes him feel dizzy as the guy puts his helmet on and turns on the bike, along purr coming from it.

Propagation, he thinks as the feeling increases every time the guy, DeMorte, does something crazy. And it's when he's in the air with only one hand to connect him to his bike that Tsuna realizes he's a Cloud.

The words freedom and aloofness comes to his mind as he marvels at the purity of his flames, and Tsuna can see it in the way he moves, so different to Hibari-san's, but still there.

Tsuna is yelling in amazement when he barely reaches the end of a pillar, Zaid clapping loudly next to him.

If Hibari-san is like a protective Cloud, always hovering protective above a place, he thinks this DeMorte guy would be the drifting kind that people just get to see once or twice. It's beautiful and makes him yearn for that kind of freedom.

When it's over and other guys start appearing, Tsuna still can't stop repeating the performance.

He now gets Zaid's excitement about the whole thing. He wants to watch it again and again. He doesn't even realize it's over until Zaid pulls his arm and tells him to go and meet DeMorte. He asks how they will be able to do it instead of protesting. When Zaid throws a thumb at the Ninth's direction, Tsuna is not even surprised. Though there's not the usual resignation he normally feels.

- x -

"It was amazing, wasn't it?" Chiara-san says when the music is no longer blaring in their ears and they can finally talk. Tsuna nods dumbly. "Oh my god, look at Natsu's face! You totally won him over to the dark side, Zaid."

Someone pats him on his back. "Do I understand, man. I was like you the first time I saw him."

Well, Zaid's flames are strong so he's more likely to be affected. He glances at the direction the Ninth and Coyote-san are and notices their relaxed expressions. Too relaxed. As if they just drank a couple of shots instead of watching a show. Tsuna wants to giggle for some reason.

Mona-san is trailing behind and Tsuna wants to talk to her even if a small part of his brain tells him he's saturated in flames and needs a moment to rest before he can be able of forming coherent sentences. But, well, he's curious to see what kind of reaction she has.

Coyote-san mutters, "It must be around here" and Tsuna's attention snaps away from the Mist user to see the trucks parked close. There's sound coming that direction, not as loud as it's from where they came from, with the concert and all that started after the show ended, but it's obvious people are partying, too. They're probably taking advantage of the music that still reaches them.

Now that he's closer, he also notices the small tents between the trucks, some with light coming from their insides; others dark and lonely.

"Search for tent with the letter 'S'," the Ninth says as people starts noticing them and wave their arms as if to invite them over. They're laughing and seem nice but Tsuna doesn't understand a word of what they're saying. It doesn't sound like Italian at all.

He moves closer to the others, afraid that someone will ask him to join and he won't have the heart to say no. It makes him want to reach the tent where DeMorte is faster. And he almost sags in relief when his intuition nudges him towards a direction.

"Over here," he says, grabbing Zaid's wrist to pull him to where he's sure their destination.

They follow him. It's not until he sees the cream tent with a big 'S' paint on the side that he realizes how bad of an idea is to follow his intuition with the Ninth so close. He wants to curl into a small ball and hide when he feels curious eyes drilling holes in the nape of his neck, but the sight in front of him stops him.

DeMorte is sitting outside his tent holding a white cloth on his nose, laughing at the face of a grumpy guy that's checking the back of his head with gentle fingers that contrast his expression. It wouldn't be really shocking if not for the bandages covering most of DeMorte's head and chest.

He stops laughing when he notices them, but the mirth is still there when he says, "Hello, there!"

Zaid immediately steps forward and extends his hand for the other take, expression solemn if not for the clear excitement wanting to bubble out of his body. DeMorte seems even more amused. He grins as he takes Zaid's hand with his free one not holding the gauze.

"It's an honor to meet. Can I say you're really amazing at what you do? Because you are. You totally are. I've had this huge idol crush on you since I saw you riding that beauty."

DeMorte's laugh shakes his whole body. It's the kind of laugh that doesn't care of who is seeing and makes one want to join. Tsuna ducks his head a little, feeling a hint of secondhand embarrassment at the honesty and eagerness in Zaid's voice, but he's also smiling.

"That's nice and all, but what are you doing here?" the guy stands up from where he was kneeling and crosses his arms across his chest. "This guy here needs some rest."

Said guy rolls his eyes and Tsuna notices he's wearing eyeliner. It makes them stand up but doesn't make him seem feminine at all even with the soft curve of his jaw. He's actually slightly disappointed that he can't see their color in the darkness.

"Don't mind him. He's usually like this even on a good day."

"I would have more good days if you learnt how to take care of yourself."

"You know I heal fast!"

The other guy answers back in a language that sounds like French and he's sure are mostly insults. DeMorte follows his example and soon they're bickering in a weird language.

Chiara clears her throat until she gains their attention. "You seemed totally fine on stage."

"I was fine on stage. Amazing performance, if I could say so myself." He waves is free hand to his head in a distracted way. "This is an injury from the previous show. It looks worse than it is because everyone loves to wrap me with more bandages than are necessary."

"We wouldn't if you just stopped picking on them like a kid."

"I'm not a kid," he says automatically, as if it's something he has to constantly repeat.

"Sure, sure." The guy turns his gaze back to them. "So? What are you doing here?"

This time is the Ninth the one who steps forwards. Zaid still seems to be in cloud nine from the handshake, so it's for the best.

"I talked with the manager a couple days ago. I wanted to give you this," he says holding a black small card to DeMorte's direction. Tsuna can see the familiar symbol of Vongola in one side and a couple of numbers on the other. DeMorte inspects the card and the hand holding the gauze moves away to see it better, giving them a clear view of the red staining it.

"There's no name," he says.

"It would be better if you always kept it with you. If theavenger comes, you will know when to show it."

DeMorte gives him a look, clearly not understanding what the Ninth means. But Tsuna does. The way he said word avenger is a hair away from stressing the importance of it with the weight it truly deserves. The Vindice deserves that weight. No one but Mona-san seem to understand, but it doesn't surprise him as the Mafia is obscure from the public on normal basis. The existence of flames and their police even more so.

He wants to ask why the Vindice may be interested in DeMorte but he can't tip off any knowledge that can lead to his real identity. Besides, it's not so hard to guess with the way the guy uses his flames in a subconscious way. Tsuna knows how tight-lipped everyone is about flames and its existence.

"Is that a threat?" the guy he still doesn't know the name of drawls with deadly disinterest.

"Ethan," DeMorte snaps quietly, his hand on the guy's arm. After receiving a roll of eyes, he looks at the Ninth. "Was that a threat?"

His tone is light, but there's still warning hidden in there.

"No, not at all." The Ninth gives him the smile of a patient parent indulging a kid. "The times are dangerous and I wouldn't want for a talent such as yourself to be pulled into things you may not want. This is just as a precaution."

"Precaution?" DeMorte says with a healthy amount of wariness as he narrows his eyes. And Tsuna can't help but look at him. Really look. From the punk appearance to the well-hidden powerful flames, not active but very much unrestricted. He doesn't feel like a fighter like Hibari-san does; their nature is the same but they're not… similar. At all.

Just with knowing that, Tsuna already knows that if the Mafia finds him, they're going to destroy him until he's nothing more than a shell.

He really doesn't want to know what can happen with a caged Cloud.

That may be why, when they're leaving with Ethan guiding them, Tsuna lingers in his spot, just enough to give him a piece of paper with his address on it. The one of the new apartment he's already planning in renting.

"If you have questions," Tsuna says when he's sure no one can't hear them. DeMorte seems confused but still smiles crookedly at him. Tsuna turns around to follow his friends but something stabs him with dread and he stops. He takes in a shaky breath to compose himself. He looks over his shoulder as if to reassure himself the guy is fine, still free and warm.

He swallows and brushes the side of his necklace until the scales no longer feel metallic. His companion opens her mouth, knowing what Tsuna wants without him speaking, and a ring falls onto his palm. He clutches it tight against his chest before walking to where DeMorte is.

With a deep breath, he extends his open hand in his direction.

"This is very important to me, but…" he trails off, his voice trembling even if his gaze remains intent. "Take it."

"Eh?" DeMorte blinks a couple times before seeming to catch the meaning of his words and taking the ring in his own hand. He stares at it blank expression for a second too long, a finger fumbling with it. He looks up at him, confused. "Uh, are you sure?"

Tsuna smiles, his gaze not leaving the ring. "Something tells me you will need it."

"What?"

With a shake of his head Tsuna looks back at the direction his friends went. He sees Mona-san lingering close to another tent, and while he can't see her well in the dark, he knows she's looking directly at him.

"I've to go. Um, you're an amazing stuntman, DeMorte-san." He throws a last glance to the hand where his ring is. "I'm just lending it to you, by the way. I expect you to return my ring someday."

Without waiting for an answer, he gives him a shallow bow and jogs after Mona-san.

"I'm sorry, were you waiting for me?" he asks when he's within her earshot.

"The others have just turned that corner."

Tsuna looks briefly at where she's pointing, not missing the way her eyes linger on the place above his collarbone. He ignores it, of course, and looks up at the sky. There's no moon or stars to see, only the mist caused by the raining of the afternoon. It'll probably rain again later and completely drench him until he's soaked to the bone though. He shouldn't have forgotten his umbrella in the bar.

"You really took your time there, Natsu," Chiara-san says as soon as they reunite.

Zaid looks back from where he has an arm around the Ninth's shoulders. "You've got an idol crush, too, right? Can't blame you, man."

A blush forms across his cheeks. He waves a hand at him a tad too forcibly. "No, no! That's—"

"Didn't you like the show?"

"Well, yes, but—"

"And he's amazing, right?"

"I'm not saying that he isn't, I'm just—"

Chiara-san stops him from continuing with a pat on his back. "I saw your face when it was over. I'm actually surprised you didn't act like Zaid there," she says as if that's enough argument. "Don't worry, Natsu, I also had a crush on Paul Glaser when I was about your age."

"Wow. Paul Glaser? Really?"

The Ninth is quick to narrow his eyes at Zaid. "What's wrong with 'Starsky and Hutch'?"

"What? Nothing, nothing. I just saw her more of a David Soul kind of girl."

Coyote-san chuckles. "Timoteo is the Soul kind of person."

"I so knew it."

"Soul is a great actor," the Ninth says with his nose turned upwards. An action so childish it makes him a person totally different from the one Tsuna remembers. "Better than Hamill any day of the week, anyway."

The disbelief in Coyote-san's expression could have killed a lesser person. "Oh, you just didn't go there."

The bickering starts, but Tsuna kind of tunes them out, not wanting to be pulled into the discussion he hovers back. He doesn't know anything about the actors or idols that are popular in this time, after all. And not even in his own was he so interested in them, even if he knew of them.

That puts him next to Mona-san, of course. She's trailing behind them, apparently not interested in series or movies either, choosing to instead look to the side where the light of a store is still on. Tsuna looks at it, too. Italy is the kind of country that seems to follow a schedule so almost all stores close at the same time, early. It leaves everything looking like a ghost town. The cover every window has being closed because it's so close to winter, not helping erasing the image as something scary replacing the beauty the day holds.

Tsuna is kind of glad he came to Italy when the summer was starting. The days were completely hell because of the sun, but he's sure he wouldn't have survived if it had been winter instead. With the only set of clothes he had in his possession that first he'd have died from hypothermia for sleeping on a hallway.

Shaking his head out of dark thoughts, Tsuna blows some warm breath on his cold hands. Seeing the pink tips of his fingers reminds him Mona-san has his gloves and also of the question she asked him in the bar about motel's prices and the kind.

He honestly doesn't know what to do about that, but feels he should do something about it. There are a couple of places that would accept what pocket change she says she has, but none he remembers open. Also, it's obvious leaving her alone will not stop her from continuing pursuing him.

She's dangerous, his intuition tells him. She's important.

He ponders the last bit as they reach the parking spot where they left the car. It's Saturday, the only day no one comes over to stay the night in his apartment unless it's necessary; his shot at some normal privacy. Before, he used to spend the whole night out and return early the next day because he didn't work on Sunday, but since meeting Fong and Renato he has only gone out three times in total.

He still has the night alone though; it hasn't changed. Maybe he can use it on his favor.

"Do you want to stay at my place tonight?" he asks when Chiara-san is already inside and he's holding the door open for her.

Mona-san looks up at him, stop mid-motion with one leg inside the car, as if surprised. Then she enters with a thud and some reluctance bleeds into her expression.

When he's inside and next to her, she whispers, "You're a tad too young for me."

His younger self will have spluttered and flushed so red at the implication. His current self can do the same, if it is someone close to him saying that. But she isn't a friend, she's just someone who wants something from him and Tsuna doesn't know how far she will go to obtain it.

(She has confidence, his intuition tells him. In her act, in her powers—in herself. She doesn't care about the people around her as she doesn't find a need of them and is able to stand tall without reassurances. Possibly similar to Stranger-san, if not for how short her temper seems to be. Also, unlike him, Tsuna can tell that without her illusions she would be as lost as the worst of them.

She doesn't give the feeling of survivor in the same level of Renato; nor adaptability. Instead she has an anger that burns similar to Fong's, but without none of his warmth.

Determination, his intuition adds alongside,imagination. Two things dangerous in their own right.)

"It's true I only have one bed, but I have slept with others without having sex before," he whispers back, "Sometimes the warmth of having someone sleeping next to you is comfortable by itself." He shoves one of the hands he can barely feel inside his pocket and the other he extends it for a handshake. "Or I could sleep on the other couch. Deal?"

It takes her a couple of seconds, but soon she pulls out a glove off to shake his own, her fingers warm when they brush against his skin in comparison to his, making him wonder if that's part of the illusion or not. She looks shyly at him. "Just today."

She's important, his intuition repeats.

"Sure."

- x -

By the time, the Ninth leaves them in front of the building his apartment is, Tsuna feels the excitement of the night slowly seeping out of his body, making him yearn for his bed. The tiredness he feels so great he doesn't even panic when the Ninth gives him a card similar to the one he gave DeMorte when he goes out of the car—black and with the Vongola symbol on its back. The only difference being the lack of numbers at the front. But where there was a phone number on the one DeMorte has, Tsuna can feel the warm of familiar Sky flames of the Eight in the one he holds.

With just a touch, he already knows there's a small flame hidden—ready to be appear on top with little difficulty.

He looks up from the object to the man sitting on the passenger seat, not reassured by the smile he finds.

"I don't know what kind of deal you have with my mother, but she's made it clear you're not a threat," he says, confirming his thoughts on who is the owner of the flame. His voice is soft, barely audible with the ruckus Zaid and Chiara-san are doing in the back, arguing as they are. "Will you tell me how you met?"

"I don't think it'll be a good idea."

The Ninth hums. "She said you weren't a threat, but nothing about if I should trust you."

Tsuna tries to smile and tell him what he really thinks about that, but he honestly doesn't know how to convey what he wants in Italian. He can say how horrible the idea is for the future, but he doesn't it'll be enough to satisfy him. It'll probably confuse him even more. So he chooses to reach for the arm the Ninth has on the window, until he can feel the soft texture of his coat, and uses his flames, not enough to make them visible on his hand but to warm it instead.

Enough for him to read some of his character.

"Trust your intuition," he says, repeating the words Kawahira-san always tells him whenever they see each other. "What does it tell you about me?"

With a faint smile, he motions him to come closer and Tsuna does in attempt to hear better his whispered words.

"I get you're kind. A good person, but..." His hand gently pries Tsuna's fingers away from his arm. His voice turns softer as he says, "You're selfish, too."

" Such a selfish boy you are."

Tsuna jerks a step back, his lips forming a firm line as he sees the sad smile on the Ninth's face.

"I'm still curious about you though. We will meet again, Natsu," are his last words. With a wave, the car stars. Zaid and Chiara-san press closer to the window to say their goodbyes but Tsuna's mind hasn't recovered enough of their balance to do more than wave back until the car is nothing but a spot in the distance.

He sighs, all the tension on his shoulder leaving him to leave the previous tiredness.

"Let's go," he says to Mona-san who still stands back. She nods, a large yawn interrupting whatever answer she planned to give, and follows him.

- x -

He hates those dreamless nights he's so tired he only remembers slowly closing his eyes, as if preparing to blink. Then, in the same way, he opens his eyes, only to then realize hours have passed. He's still tired, feeling as if no rest has passed in that 'blink'. His annoyance only increases when he realizes his neck has been in a bad position all night and now it hurts to move it. Under the thick blankets, he's not cold, but that's only a small mercy.

With a small groan he removes the blanket away from his body and pulls his legs over the edge of the small couch, his feet a small distance away from touching the floor. He's cautious as he stands up; he knows how cold the floor gets in this time, after all.

"Morning," he mumbles as he goes to the bathroom. Mona-san, who is sitting in front of the table, doesn't answer, her gaze not moving from the Japanese breakfast in front of her. With a glance, he looks at his bed-couch and is slightly pleased to see it already turned into its couch form.

"This wasn't here before," Mona-san says when he comes out. Lips pursed, but other than that, her expression is blank.

Tsuna sits in front of her and grabs his orange chopsticks, briefly noting Mona-san's are indigo. He nods. "Yeah, I get how that can freak you out. A friend likes to gives me breakfast. He's also a Mist. A good one at that. That's why you didn't notice him."

Or that's what he thinks. He's only seen Kawahira-san using Mist flames so far. But who knows with him?

"You knew," she murmurs with faint surprise. Then, as if the personality shown so far had been nothing but a cloak, her whole body language changes. The nervous posture is gone, leaving someone confident behind. Her face is impassive and strangely wary. "Since when?"

Swallowing a piece of fried fish, he says, "Since the beginning." He throws a look at the food in front of her. "Um, I would like to say, feel free to eat that as is not poisoned, but I know you're nothing but an illusion, so, yeah."

His nervous chuckles do nothing to ease the furrow between her eyebrows. "I heard Skies are usually perceptive because they're constantly harmonized with their surroundings, but that's not what you do. Not really."

"I do that, you know."

"You do," she agrees with a tilt of her head. "I can feel your flames clearly in here, but that's not it. You flames may be stronger than mine and it wouldn't matter. I wonder if it has to do with your resemblance with Vongola's primo?"

Tsuna narrows his eyes. "How do you know that?"

The portraits of the previous generations of Vongola are only known to the high tiers of the organization to his knowledge. They and few of the heads of their family alliances. Something tells him Mona-san is not one of them.

"That will cost you, I'm afraid." Her lips curve up. "I'm an information broker, after all."

A knock interrupts the demands he wants to make. With a slight glare on her direction, he stands up to open the door. He doesn't need his intuition to tell him the one standing behind it is Mona-san. The real one and not an illusion.

He expects a copy of the girl he left sitting on his table, but he isn't surprised when he meets a person covered by a familiar cloak instead. Tsuna feels his throat dry, his intuition pounding a staccato inside his head. He ignores as best as he can, briefly wondering if it's a Mist thing to adopt the looks of their teacher. Chrome's hair style was the same as Mukuro's and she was her apprentice or something similar.

Tsuna really hopes that's it even if his intuition keeps yelling incoherencies.

"I can keep the information from being known, though," is the first thing the real Mona-san says after long seconds of silence. "It will still cost you."

He lets her enter with a stiff movement before closing the door and sees her floating to the previous seat she had been, the illusion gone. Well… if Mona-san is a she, of course. He doesn't know anymore. Her body is all covered and her voice is soft and gruff. But, well, a she was the last genre used and Tsuna will use it. Though he should probably ask later, when the business part is over.

He sits in the same seat as before, his chopsticks once again in his hold as he motions with a hand for her to join him, trying to remember if it's polite to conduct a business while eating breakfast. Her face gives nothing away and while Tsuna remembers Reborn teaching him about formal meetings, he honestly can't recall the words he said, aside from not showing weakness and not stuttering.

He blames the explosions Reborn loves to use in his lessons.

"I don't have any money to give you," he starts with, because it's the truth.

There's a weird curve on her lips, the only thing he can see clearly of her. Then, a newspaper appears in front of him. He inspects it, noticing it's the same title of the one she had on the bar the day they first talked.

"Did you know that one of the reasons behind Vongola's fortune is the Stock Market? I investigated about it and came across the famous Vongola's intuition."

Tsuna looks up at her, his eyes gleaming orange. "You shouldn't know that either."

Her smile doesn't falter, though Tsuna can feel her eyes on his stirring necklace. He takes a breath and concentrates in his intuition. It doesn't talk, but it gives him a nudge of wariness. Of having no way of winning, even if he had the heart of killing her. He feels as if he lost the round without even having fought.

Dangerous, his intuition called her. And Tsuna now knows what it meant. But it also said she's important. So maybe he's not lost the battle.

"You want to use my intuition to gain money."

It's not a question and she knows it.

He looks down at the paper with a sigh. "Wouldn't this affect the economy or something?"

"Only if you're stupid. Your job will be to point me what your intuition tells you. I'll do the rest." Her smile returns into a considering frown. "You can use it for yourself, too."

He starts shaking his head but stops almost immediately, remembering his first months in Italy. "What if I—Could I donate what I gain to other places?"

"Charity?" Her tone drips with derision, but she doesn't comment on it. "You can, of course. It will cost you an extra, though."

"More money?" he asks, voice strangely high. He's almost glad to see her shaking her head. At least he is until she point a pale finger to the necklace around his neck.

"I can't see it, but I can feel it. I know something is there. Tell me what it is."

He's sure he hasn't touched his necklace at all in her presence, so she shouldn't have known, like Renato and Fong. Mona-san is not as powerful as Kawahira-san. Is almost laughable to think of them in the same level so she really shouldn't unless—

Unless Kawahira-san wants her to know.

Important, his intuition repeats and Tsuna tries to understand it better. Her cloak is a clue of her ties with the future Arcobaleno and he gets she's important, yes. But… he doesn't know how. Rescue the Arcobaleno from their fate is his mission. Is why he's in the past, but he doesn't know how to do it. He doesn't know what he needs to do to accomplish it. Kawahira-san only said to keep his goal on the forefront of his mind. To wake up remembering it and sleep with it as his last thought. Then his intuition will see the importance it holds on him and guide him to make it a reality.

Tsuna is very afraid and uncertain of what the future will hold. He never knows if his actions are right or not, even with his intuition. But…

That's what everyone feels, isn't it?

She's important, he reminds himself and with a shaky breath, he brushes the metallic side of his necklace until the scales soften. Now visible for everyone to see, she slithers across his chest until her body rest on the table, bright orange and black scales glinting the colors of the rainbow thanks to the sunlight seeping across the windows.

"This is Mamoru," Tsuna says with a faint smile. "She is my familiar."

Nothing but her lips are visible, but Tsuna can still sense her wonder under the cloak as one of her hands move to meet his familiar. Mamoru is not shy even in her small form. She lifts her head as high as she can, body protectively in front of him as her yellow eyes inspect Mona-san, not flinching away from the fingers hovering close. Not even when they brush the top of her head.

But she doesn't subdue at the face of her curiosity either. Like the wings of a firefly, thin, small feathers tightly pressed under her scales lift from the base of her neck to the tip of her tail, bristling in clear warning. Mona-san stops her fingers from trailing any lower, their eyes still locked.

As if enraptured, Mona-san draws her hand back at a safe distance and lights it with Mist flames, seemingly on a whim. And in a move Tsuna is honestly surprised at, Mamoru launches forward, stretching the upper part of her body until the flame-covered-fist can fit inside her mouth.

It takes him a couple seconds to process this, but when it does, he's already leaving his chair, hands hovering around elongated head.

"Mamoru, stop! Bad! That's—That's bad! You can't eat it!" With panic fueling his thoughts, Tsuna grabs the middle of her body and pulls. "Leave that hand, I said!"

It only takes two pulls, not strong enough to hurt her, but enough to let her know how displeased he is. In the third, he falls on his ass, Mamoru safely and small on his chest.

As if blinking out of her stupor, Mona-san shakes her head. Her hand unconsciously clenching before she moves it close to inspect it.

"Your familiar tried to eat my hand."

Tsuna is pretty sure Mamoru hypnotized or something like that, so he doesn't know if he should agree or not. She's most likely fishing, so in his most incredulous tone, he asks, "Did she, really?"

Mona-san lifts her head. She shows her hand, which is slightly bloody. Tsuna can almost feel her glare. "I've the bite marks."

There's a long silence before Mamoru slithers across his body. This time she doesn't go to his neck, preferring to curl around his wrist. It takes less than a second for her skin to harden. Then the familiar sensation of metal against his skin is back and he now has a bracelet.

He looks up. "She's not venomous, I swear."

Or that's what he hopes. Though he's also sure that she can be venomous if she wants.

Understandably, Mona-san doesn't seem to believe him. She flicks her fingers, flames once again covering her hand. Then they're gone along the blood.

"I've never heard of a being like this one," she says, with a smile that reminds him of Mukuro. "How did you get it?"

Tsuna spares a glare to his bracelet before his gaze returns to the hooded figure. He stands up, thinking in ways he can manage to deny her answers without gaining an enemy he knows he will need in a future. He doesn't sit, though he's still hungry, choosing to grip the back of the chair instead.

Reborn always told him the better lies are the ones that hold some truth in them, so—"A friend gave her to me."

"The same friend who delivered our food?"

His whole posture slumps and he can't help but give her a weak smile as he scratches a cheek. "Um. No?"

"Right," she says, dry as a desert. "I want one."

Tsuna jerks his head back. "Wha—No! I can't just. I mean, I don't have—"

"I want one," she repeats, stopping his rambling. Her tone isn't immature or one of arrogance. She does seem like someone used to get what she wants and do anything to obtain it, but it's one he's familiar with. And the familiarity of her poise eases some of his alarm. He actually should be lucky she doesn't seems to be as sadistic or crazy as Reborn was with his own self-assurance.

He goes back to his seat.

"I don't know how," he says with as much honesty he can. "I can ask, but the only ones I've seen with one have been… Their lives weren't the best and lets leave it at that."

She hums, clearly thoughtful. The strange dip of her upper lip making the line of her frown almost endearing. It doesn't last long before the curve returns to a flat line and she pushes the newspaper in his direction once again.

"Let's work in what we can currently deal, Natsu."

Tsuna shakes his head. "I only use Natsu for my jobs."

"What should I call you then?"

"I—You can call me Ozora," he says, ignoring her condescending tilt of head. "What about you? I don't think your name is Mona."

"You can use that name if you wish. I don't care."

"Oh." He sighs, glancing down at his plate, always warm. When he looks back, his face is slightly flushed and he can't seem to find what to do with his hands. "I know this might offend you, but can you tell me what your gender is?"

There's a silence that seems to last forever in which the blood on his face increases and the smirk on Mona-san doesn't waver.

"I—I mean, are you female or male?"

"I'm great," Mona-san says, attention returning back to the paper. And that's that. He tries poking at his intuition but it only gives him a disinterested feeling. He doesn't know if his intuition is the one not interested or if Mona-san is the one who doesn't care.

Tsuna will refer Mona-san as a 'she' inside his mind for the time being, until she gives signs of caring. Though something tells him that it'll be more accurate using a more neutral term, it's honestly less confusing that way.

"So how do we start?" he says, trying to sound cheerful and likely coming off as resigned.

She taps the paper with a finger. "You let me know what your intuition tells you and I make sure to not destroy the economy."

Tsuna suddenly wishes Renato and Fong were in his apartment. At least, he's used to their antics and they haven't tried to outright manipulate him for money yet. Food and drinks don't count.

- x -

Chapter Text

Interlude: The Hitman

Uncaring of the cold winter brings, two people fight on the roof of a nondescript building. Thanks to the season's longer nights, the sky is already dark above them. However, it's not late enough that the sounds coming from the streets below can't muffle the thuds of hits and kicks. And it's not as if they're particularly loud, either. Actually, part of those frequent spars include following a set of rules, like keeping the damage and noise at minimum. They're both experts in hand-to-hand combat, one with a more formal teaching than the other, so it's more interesting to do it that way.

Renato is a Sun, a strong one at that. He always has an excess of energy most of the times he can't completely erase leaving him restless. That's why he looks forward to these spars with Fong, thing he hasn't thought would become a regular occurrence, taking in consideration the first time they met, the martial artist was basking in the Sky flames emanating from a sleeping Tsuna and didn't notice him until he was already inside the room.

Elements being caught in vulnerable positions next to an even more vulnerable Sky they're fond of, are not nice at all. Specially Storms.

Ozora is lucky his Stormy friend is not an explosively tempered one or Renato would have killed him. It still took Fong long seconds to return back into his usual calm state, but at least it was before he pulled the trigger. Though considering that at the same time the barrel of his gun was touching the other's temple, Fong had his flame coated fingers a hair away from his pulse. Maybe the both of them were lucky that day.

The phantom ache on his side that that particular memory brings makes him unable to dodge the next kick and he hisses, having only enough time to change his position and augment the density of his leg with flames so his tight can catch the brunt of the kick.

The collision is loud enough the dog two floors down starts barking. And that means the fights is over and he lost.

Damn.

They both return to their original positions. Fong wearing the same casual smile and Renato glaring at the foot imprint on his tight. He lets out a soft exasperated breath through his nose because heknows Fong tries his best to get his clothes dirty in each spar; he deliberately uses more kicks ever since he saw him fusing over a small spot of dirt on his jacket a couple weeks ago. After all, Renato is more than familiar with that sadistic gleam he saw on his eyes when he offered to clean it using his flames.

"Same price as always?" Renato asks looking down at watch, not bothering to glance at the man as he starts his cool down exercises. He would join, if only to get a better grasp of the movements coming from an expert, but he's wearing a suit. The spar's been enough to ruin the line of the back of his jacket. His pants are not as pristine pressed as they were an hour ago either. Fortunately, he's a Sun with enough knowledge in medicine to use his flames on his muscles and get the same result.

When a second too long passes without an answer, Renato looks over his shoulder an instead of the well done poker face, he finds the other wearing a thoughtful expression.

Intriguing.

Usually, the loser gives some mafia-related information the other is interest in. They're from different continents so it's not strange for the other to not know things a native would consider obvious.

"Reconsidering?"

The martial hums as the smiles slowly returns. "Tomorrow morning I'll be leaving."

"Ho?" Renato raises an eyebrow. "China?"

"Yes."

It's not necessary for him to point out what he wants; it's pretty clear after one sees him traveling from one corner of Italy to another in the shortest amount of time possible just to be able to return to Ozora's side quickly. However, he's not a nice man and wants to hear him say it, so he allows the other to see his raised eyebrow designed to portray curiosity, but with enough condescension to infuriate. Fong is not impressed, of course. Is actually kind of amazing how his default expression can take that deadpan tint.

If he were a lesser man, he would have felt ashamed of trying to start something so childish, as that's what it feels to receive that patient smile of his. But he isn't. That patronizing smile bounces off him, not leaving a dent on his armor.

He carefully tilts his head to the side, silently reminding the other that he's the one who wants something from him. The sight of the martial artist faintly narrowing of eyes is an amazing feeling.

"Can you make sure Ozora will be fine in that time?"

"You do realize you're not his guardian, yes?" Ho, so the man can glare. Amazing. Renato shrugs a shoulder, if only to be difficult. "He's done fine without any of us in his life so far."

Done with his exercises, Fong's posture returns to its usual upright position, looking the same as when they started, not a hair out of place. Like him. Well, except for the slightly hostile tension that's settled on his shoulders, but that's been since before they started the spar.

"Yes, and if you remember, he's mentioned having his flames unsealed recently. That necklace hides his nature, true, but Sky Attraction is a powerful thing still."

Renato skillfully makes sure no expression will show his real thoughts on that particular subject. It doesn't stop the heavy and nasty weight that settles in his stomach whenever he thinks about it though. He's not exactly sure if the 'concern' he feels is the natural response of being around the same Sky for so long or if it's just some part of him who wants to see Ozora as his Sky.

And while it's true Ozora's coffee is really good, slightly better to the one he used to drink in Sicily and he hasn't tried since he moved to Firenze, it's not good enough for him to stop his sort of sabbatical to court a Sky. Especially not now when the Falcone Family are searching for any Sky they can get under their thumb. Is problematic enough they're currently killing the state figures and other Mafiosi in their desperate attempt to win the Second Mafia War as they are calling it.

He's a freelance, he doesn't want to be part of anydrama. And doesn't need to either as he's one recognized internationally. He can get hits outside the country easily enough.

And taking that into account…

"I'll be hitting France in two days."

Spain, actually. But France is close enough for the other to get the idea. Usually when he gives free information it's with the goal of making the other form a sense of trust with him, but he would be lying if he says this is the case. While he's not one to lie to himself, that doesn't mean he is not above of ignoring his emotions, like the dread currently rearing its ugly head. Another proof of why he needs to leave Ozora's side until he can center himself enough to make a decision not based by a Sky's Harmony.

(It's enough trouble that with his age and the strength of his flames he's already starting to unconsciously follow some of the archetypes of his flame, thing most flame users who don't harmonize fall into in an apparent subconscious need to attract a Sky.

It took him years to control those impulses and turn them into advantages—there's a reason not many Elements live past their forties, after all—so if he'll start courting a Sky, he wants to make sure is his decision and not just his biology acting out.)

Fong's smile gains a new edge. "This is not the time to act all tough, hitman Reborn. You'll be worried, too. Or are you going to deny it?"

Ho. So he does know his Hitman name. Well, it doesn't matter. He's not worried of him linking 'Reborn' with his previous identity even considering he knows the name Renato. He's made sure of erasing every bit of information about it and he'd most likely think he chose Renato only because the translation.

It doesn't bother him how he calls him, at all. What does bother him is that knowing look the other is wearing. He can't say anything because he doesn't want to hear how much of a lie it'll feel. So he doesn't.

His posture is relaxed as he ignores the question and asks as bored as he can, "How long?"

"Three weeks before I'm allowed to return at most," he murmurs, looking far away to the side, where the clouds seem to be thicker, signaling the mist that will probably reach them soon.

"As I said before, Ozora has survived 17 years, he can survive a couple weeks."

Fong hides his hands inside his long sleeves, not because of the cold air as a normal person would assume. That man is a Storm, and like Suns, his body heat is higher than most. He still wants to applaud the man for that small action being the only tell revealing his anxiety.

"He does have a good… instinct, but—"

Checking his cufflinks, he huffs. "It's more than just instinct and you know it."

"—but, I don't think I need to inform you about the sudden rise in the number of Mafiosi in this area, do I?"

"It is decreasing."

"Yes, it is. Two of the people in command were killed a couple weeks ago along with some of their men, if I'm not mistaken. A very professional work."

"Really? I've heard it was done by a Cloud."

"It does seems to be that way," Fong agrees, smile full of mischief. "The signs of a rampaging Cloud are all there, but they're slightly exaggerated in my opinion. Not that many would notice, of course."

Renato doesn't verbally or physically answer at the implication. He merely hums, as if bored. "Survivors of territorial Clouds are almost non-existent."

"That they are. The problem now is that while many will leave, the most skilled will remain, if only to report."

"Quality over quantity and all that? It'll be easier to eliminate them if nothing else."

He receives a heavy stare, not quite a glare. "It would be easier, true, but only if we were to stay."

If you're so worried, then stay, he wants to snap, but it's already a wonder the man's managed to stay this length of time in a country that isn't his. He's heard enough about the Triads to know every one of their active members has at least one connection that isn't allowed to leave their base. For protection, they say. It sounds like a hostage situation to many, but no one dares to comment.

It's not his life so he doesn't care, except—

Except, it seems he subconsciously counted for Fong to stay by Ozora's side and now that he knows it's nothing but wishful thinking, the idea of leaving irks him the wrong way. The feeling is certainly annoying.

"Have you sparred with him?" he asks. Ignoring Fong's slight frown, he continues, "His reflexes are good. And that sixth sense of his serves more than to just know how to dodge, but can he fight?"

"I only saw him punch once with enough strength to knock a man out."

Renato nods absentmindedly, mind thinking in the ways to test Ozora's fighting competence. He's a Sun, so the excuse to help 'nurture' someone gives him a sort of sadistic glee. Worse—for the person on the other end of his 'nurturing'—he's an Inverted Sun and that means he cares little for someone's willingness.

"What do you think of this so-called 'sixth sense?" Fong asks, not giving a second glance to his unholy smirk.

"That is not something as simple."

"It looks like the prescience the Gigglio Nero's boss is so known of."

Renato slides his gaze to Fong, wondering what he's seen for him to not be hesitant at making that statement. He's suspected it to be the case after reading through Ozora's famous scrapbook one slow afternoon he arrived earlier than him. The hitman is sure Ozora doesn't know what the information he's collecting is about, but Renato does as he's the one whose ties with the mafia are deeper than most thanks to his title of the World Greatest Hitman. That's why he knows that most of the articles found in that simple scrapbook are about events whose real story, the one not published, is connected with the Cosa Nostra—things civilians shouldn't know about.

Since then, he's made sure to be inside Ozora's apartment before him just to analyze what he's put the day before.

Still. It's not prescience—he's seen how that looks like, after all.

"He's not aware of the future."

"I know. But you've got to admit he's so attune of his surroundings in such frightening way it makes it look as if he can predict what happens next. I haven't found the end of his range either, which adds to the foreknowledge theory for someone who doesn't know him." He looks at him with narrowed eyes. "You've know him longer. Do you know what it is?"

Renato doesn't mention of the time Ozora gave him a screwdriver and told him "I've got a feeling you'll need this" a couple hours before his train to Austria was set to go and how useful it was when he broke the knob of the door that led him to the other side of the Iron Curtain, which he had to walk a great distance inside a dark tunnel just to reach.

He still gets a curious expression at his reminiscent look though, so perhaps he's more relaxed around his person that he normally would be around others, which again, he blames Ozora for.

"Maybe an Esper?"

Fong hums, narrowed eyes landing on him. "Do you really think so?"

Stubbornly, he ignores his look just in time to see one of his bugs approaching, the one he uses to keep an eye on Ozora. The weather is getting colder so it takes them more time to relay when he's coming, not that he needs them when he already knows his shifts, but they're handy when he wants to mess with Ozora's head.

"I won the spar. You still owe me."

He briefly looks his way. "I can obtain a phone for the little Sky to use."

"Which will take you time. Hours after I leave, most likely."

Wearing a smirk he knows is infuriating, Renato shrugs. The serene smile he receives in return is deadly and so, so amusing. Though luckily for the ground they're standing, a prickling sensation on the back of their necks makes them turn to the direction of the street. Renato doesn't move from his spot, already knowing what caused it, but Fong does. The martial artist approaches the edge without leaning onto it and looks down, a small real smile on his lips, his previous tension all but gone.

It's with exasperation that he acknowledges he's relaxing, too.

When the smile gains a faint frown, Renato rolls his eyes and joins him in his creepy stalking just in time to see Ozora placing the lock around his bike, hands gloveless and his hat nowhere to be found. With fast, jerky movements, he finishes so he can place both hands inside his pockets. His pained grimace is hidden when he tries to awkwardly burrow his face as much as he can on his scarf as he walks.

Fong looks unmistakably unsure as he positions his hand on the railing in such a way is clear he wants to jump down but is smart enough to know how much attention that will bring considering they are on the sixth floor.

Besides, it's the brat's fault for not using his own flames to warm himself.

"Let's go inside," Renato says, more for the other's benefit. His voice was barely loud enough for Fong to hear, but Tsuna's head snaps up as if the words have been directed at him. A wince follows, the movement clearly too fast for him to make, but he still gives them a smile, even when Renato is sure he's not able to see them because of the position.

Then he trips as some parts of the ground have a thin layer of ice and he was walking without looking at what's in front of him.

Renato snorts, Fong following with a startled chuckle as the Sky flails on the ground trying to stand up. Without caring of his companion, Renato grabs a pebble from the ground and throws it at Ozora's head when the Sky manages to stand upright. It causes him to yelp loud enough for both of them to hear. Fong doesn't roll his eyes at him, which is impressive, but he gets the feeling he wants to.

"Weren't you saying we should get inside?" Fong says, signaling the door behind them with a hand, clearly intended to lead him out.

He nods at the arm as he walks past him. "Ho? Getting a bit carried away, are we?"

The smile he receives is one with more teeth that it's polite, and he smirks, easily dodging the pebble Fong throws at him next.

Two birds, one stone, indeed.

- x -

The word small is not enough to describe Ozora's apartment. If it can be called an apartment when it doesn't have a bedroom, of course. The kitchen is barely large and wide for a person of his height and build to lay on the free space of the floor. Two thin people can work in a tight tandem inside, but not more. At least the window on the side lets fresh air inside, so it never smells like food for too long.

He still doesn't like it, so he lets Fong to be the one to get the kettle ready. Instead, he goes to the small table next to the door and moves the small plate where Ozora always leaves his keys a hair away from its original position. Then he goes around the living room and does the same with the horrible amateur paintings hanging on the walls.

Job done, he goes to the chair he claimed as his, completely different from the others and so much more comfortable, and relaxes. He gives a last glance to the room with only thin closets and two couches of different colors, one used as a bed. The table they use to drink is only meant for four, but as it is pushed against a wall, it can only be used by three.

Pathetic, true, but still so comfortable and warm after being the residence of a powerful Sky for months. He plans to move him to another place, preferably a larger one, but he's waiting to harmonize with him (if they ever do and is not a simple flame-infatuation Renato's suffering of because of Ozora's Harmony) or for someone else to harmonize with him first as it's seen as controlling to move a Sky to another place when the Element is not harmonized with said Sky.

"Sit and stop fidgeting," he says, eyes closed. He's sure the man is at best standing close to the door, but for people like them, who have learned how to mask their body language almost perfectly, that's fidgeting.

The sound of keys alerts him of Ozora's position outside the door and is probably what saves him from receiving a passive-aggressive answer.

Ozora enters the room, looking resigned at seeing them already inside. Fondly resigned, which is still a fairly new expression but welcomed all the same.

"Tadaima," he murmurs distractedly as he puts his keys on the plate and moves it to its right position without thinking. Renato with his small knowledge of the language is not able to understand the word's meaning, but it must be something important to make Fong smile in such an embarrassing way, not befitting of a professional killer. When the martial artist answers him with an 'Okaeri', Ozora starts so badly he almost trips again, confirming its significance.

Renato feels left out of an inside joke when Ozora's blush deepens and he refuses to look up. So he makes sure to shoot a hair away from his head with a rubber bullet, the sound coming muffled thanks to the silencer. "The water's almost done. I want my expresso."

Fong throws him a dirty look, most likely because after the first spar he won, he made him swear to not use his guns inside the apartment. But the joke's on him because this is not any of his guns.

Ozora as usual just grumbles—clearly conditioned to relate gunshots with impatience and not seeing them threatening when he knows the person shooting— and goes to the kitchen to wash his hands, fixing every hanging painting he comes across. By the way the muscles on his back relax at his skin touching the cool water coming from the sink, his hands must be really cold.

"Where are your gloves, anyway?" he asks when Ozora goes to the cupboard to take the tea and coffee out.

"And your hat," Fong adds. He probably would have warmed Ozora's hands with his own if they weren't also cold from being outside, sparring. "It'll give you a headache to go outside without one in this weather."

"Oh. Uh, I kind of lend them to Mona and she—Well, a 'she' that time. I'm sure she's a 'he' now. Or that's what he was the last time he called. Anyways, he needed them and I forgot to ask them back."

Both assassins share a quick look before returning their gazes to a now thoughtful Ozora who seems happy to ignore their blank stares. Thing that upsets Renato as one shouldn't get this familiar with another assassin, even with a Sky in the middle to smoother things out.

Before Renato gets the chance to take out his gun to snap him out of his musings, Ozora's eyes flash orange as his expression lights up in realization. Taking the cookie can with the Oolong tea and the one with the imported grains of coffee to the table, he runs to where he left his bag and starts rummaging inside.

"What are you looking for?" Fong asks, leaning slightly in when Ozora's frustration becomes evident. For being a cleaning nut who likes his space to be in certain order, Ozora's bag is as messy as one can get. Papers, pencils, sugar packs and even spoons can be found inside. His frustration at not finding what he's searching for is understandable, but also his own fault so Renato doesn't give him any sympathy.

"I don't know how difficult is to find it with how big it's—oh! Found it!"

Taking out one of those new cellphones, Ozora turns around to show it. "He gave me this!"

Uneasiness prickles inside him, "He did?"

"Yeah, Mona. Remember a week ago I went to see DeMort with some friends?" Renato lifts slightly his hat to show he's listening. "That day I met Mona. Well, not that day, but—It doesn't matter. She also came with us and how it was late I offered her to stay the night."

He ignores the gender exchange Ozora seems to be doing at referring this person even if it confuses him a tad. Thanks too so many years in the mafia little surprises him so he takes it in stride. What he does not ignore is the shifty look and nervous posture.

Fong seems to notice the same. In a too mild voice he says, "And he gave you a cellphone after that? How nice."

"Really nice. What a wonderful person he must be," Renato adds, in a tone he's mastered to make it sound light but still conveys perfectly how idiotic he thinks the other is, with an enough amount of mocking that they will feel shameful of even mastering the courage of talking him.

Ozora didn't even stand a chance. He folded like wet paper before he even finished talking.

"… Remember the Mist I found on the hotel? Well, he was curious about me so she kind of… followed me?"

Renato pinches the bridge of his nose instead of groaning as he wants to. Fong's face settles for an expression of pure exasperation which, coupled with the still ever-presented smile, makes him look constipated. His normal smile returns as his hands go back to his sleeves, probably to stop himself from grabbing his shoulders to shake him.

"Ozora, you do know is not wise to socialize with people who follows you, right?"

"Hey! Renato's the one who made me trip on him and—"

"That still doesn't explain why you've now a cellphone, brat," Renato interrupts, not bothering to acknowledge the deadly glare Fong's giving him with red glowing eyes.

"Well, he thinks I can help him gain money with my Intuition."

Renato can practically hear the capital letter. He lowers the rim of his hat. "Intuition?"

"My sixth sense, remember? I don't know how exactly works, but I know it does." He nods at the cellphone. "Like, I don't know why bringing up I've a phone is important, but I've a feeling I should and that's why I do it. It also tells me to not worry about Mona-san and my Intuition is never wrong."

There's a beat of silence, before Fong nods, "I trust you. I'm merely worried about this tendency of yours to associate with dangerous individuals. You went with the Vongola heir to this show, if I'm not mistaken."

"In my defense, I didn't want to go."

"Ho? By the way you sang odes of it, one wouldn't have guessed."

"Shut up," he grumbles as leaves the phone on the table and grabs the cans he left there, Fong following behind to help. "I said I didn't want to, not that I didn't enjoy it."

"That still doesn't explain what your so-called 'intuition' is going to do to gain him money."

"Stock market. He's even going to help me gain some for myself and for, uh, other stuff. I'll probably need it for when I move out, so."

That makes him pause. It doesn't sound like he's just thinking about it and that means—"When are you moving out?"

"Um? Oh, in two weeks. This one even has a bedroom and the living room is bigger!" At noticing their lack of enthusiasm, he adds, "I should have mentioned it before, right?"

"You should have told me you were thinking about moving out, Ozora," Fong offers softly. "I may be new in this country but I do have contacts. I could have helped if you had asked for help."

Renato doesn't need to offer vocally when a glare can convey the same meaning. By the shudder he sees, Ozora gets it. He tries to look over his shoulder, but a well-aimed spoon on his head makes him turn to where he's making his coffee. "That hurt, Renato!"

"Stop whining and talk."

When Ozora turns betrayed doe eyes on Fong, the martial artist answers with, "A little pain never hurt anyone."

Ozora sighs, unsurprised and resigned. "You always say that when you help me train."

"Ozora."

"Okay! It's not that I was planning to move out anyways," he ends grumbling. "My Intuition guide me to that place. I got inside, went to the room it wanted me to go and, uh, one thing led to another… But! Don't worry, I wasn't planning in not giving you the new direction. Because you want it, right?"

The faint stiffness in Fong leaves out as he ruffles Ozora's hair with the hand not holding the kettle. "I would appreciate it, yes. Though I can't help but wonder how… accurate is this 'intuition' of yours, Ozora."

"Well, it made me buy all the stuff needed for Renato's coffee a day before he appeared. The same with the tea for you. It also made me buy that Mapu Tofu and directed me to where you were and to other places more. I don't know why at the moment and I still don't know why now my Intuition leads me to some places, to be honest, but I know it's where I need to be. What I need to do."

Renato frowns as he receives his espresso. "Ominous."

"Is not like that. Though I admit sometimes it feels a bit creepy, my Will is the one guiding it. It's safe. And thanks to that I met you and knew I could trust you. Mona-san, too, even if he's too interested in my necklace to be—"

"Does that mean she's a stronger Mist than the 'friend' who gave it to you?" Ozora snorts in an incredulous way, which is a first. Renato doesn't like this overconfidence though. "A strong flame user can see through the illusions of others with less powerful flames than their own."

"There's a reason. I don't know which one, but I know Mona is important like—"

His head snaps up and for a moment he looks scared when he sees them, eyes roaming intently across their forms. "Are you thinking of—I mean, do you have children or planning to adopt one?"

Renato is sure he's not the only one caught flat-footed with that question, but he knows Ozora is honestly worried about it, so he doesn't mock him. Not even when he lifts up his arm until it's at his eye-level and says, "Mamoru, I need you to do me a favor."

A bracelet appears on his wrist in the next second—He knows it's his necklace despite the change of form as he hasn't caught him touching the space around his neck for a couple days now—and with a shudder, the jewelry gains life. A snake of a deep orange color with weird circular black marks slides off of his arm and lifts up until they can lock gazes.

"I—I need to talk to him. In person. Can you search him for me and tell him?"

The reptile nods, as if understanding the words, and opens its mouth wide, feathers that wouldn't have looked out of place on a peacock's sprouting around its length. When a bright flame appears on Ozora's forehead, the snake doesn't doubt in launch forward and eat it whole. The abrupt movement makes Fong twitch slightly from where he's standing next to Ozora, but neither interrupt whatever is going on. Especially when the snake slides off the brat and flies towards the window, going through the solid surface.

Renato feels a headache forming and he really needs to shot something or use the brat as a pillow until his Sky flames can manage to calm him down. He prefers the shooting option.

Ozora serves himself a cup of tea, looking a bit calmer though the worry still lingers on his frame.

"… Aren't you going to explain, brat?"

Luckily, Ozora isn't holding his cup when he speaks. It'd have fallen otherwise.

 

"Explain?" he asks in a too innocent tone. He still sucks at lying so it doesn't last more than a couple seconds.

The guilty expression that follows makes him glad he's stocked some liquor in this place. By the way Fong drinks his scalding tea as if it was a shot, Renato knows the other will appreciate it, too.

"Tells us what you can, then."

He throws a glare at the martial artist. "Stop spoiling him."

"I'm not spoiling him," he says, his smile gaining a pathetic edge. "You said it yourself. We aren't his Guardians."

It annoys him to hear his words being thrown at him. They make him want to shot something, too. However, by the way Ozora's shoulders drop even lower and the glint Fong's eyes gain when the brat looks down, it was entirely on purpose.

That crafty bastard.

Oh, he's guilty, alright. He even looks at him with the face of someone who's just kicked a puppy or some small animal. As if just by sharing his shame he'll be less at fault or Renato will take some of the blame away.

Renato's not a nice person, so he just gives him a quick thumbs up only both of them can see, he then turns to Ozora and waits for the brat to stop feeling bad about himself and start talking.

The glare he feels drilling the side of his head is pleasant to feel next to a cup of espresso.

A couple seconds later, Ozora looks up at them with those big doe eyes. "Well… I guess I can tell you about what happened with Mona-san that day and how are we going to work."

And that means there's more.

"I'll bring the alcohol first," he says as he stands up. It's going to be a long night, he can tell.

- x -

Renato has gotten into the habit of sleeping with his eyes open and be aware of his surroundings even while apparently vulnerable since he was seventeen and already gaining enemies. That means his flames are acutely aware of any sign of 'activation'. Sadly for Fong, there's a slight disturbance in the flames of someone waking up which he can easily detect. He mentally slow claps because it's barely noticeable in the martial artist and it's likely another flame user with their skill level wouldn't have noticed. But again, he's a Sun.

His internal clock is kind of fuzzy because the amount of Sky flames in the air but it still tells him is almost five of the morning, one hour well before the brat usually starts his day. He tilts his head to where the martial artist is using Ozora as a teddy bear and lifts an eyebrow. He receives a serene smile, which is unsurprising but still very annoying.

Using sign language he asks, "Not going to say goodbye?"

Before the other can answer, he senses Sky flames abruptly waking up, Ozora pats Fong's arm with the grace of a drunk, which is amusing as he's the only one who didn't drink yesterday. The brat gives the other some space, probably being partially aware Fong's going to leave thanks to that intuition of his even without them informing him the day before.

"Don't go jus' like that, Fong."

Fong laughs softly because for all his excellent poker face, he's a cheesy bastard in the mornings thanks to a night of basking in Sky flames. Thanks to the absence of the boa dampening Ozora's flames, it's only gotten worse. Renato can't judge him, the drowsiness got him, too. It takes his flames a couple minutes longer than normal to flush it out of his body into a bearable level. Fong is a Storm. It should be even easier for him to erase the effects, but he obviously chooses to enjoy it instead. Because of course he does.

"An' breakfast first."

"Of course, mother," Fong mumbles against Ozora's hair as he smoothers the brat into a hug.

Renato does what any rational person would do and lies all his weight on top of them, making sure his elbow digs on Fong's side and his hip is on top of Ozora's ribcage. He pulls down his chameleon cap until it covers half of his face and rolls his eyes so hard it hurts when the only one finding the extra weight uncomfortable is Ozora.

"I'm going to suffocate, Renato!"

"That's what you get for using the thick covers."

"If I die, my ghost will so hunt you!"

Renato huffs and adds more of his weight, still annoyed the brat's keeping to himself some dangerous secrets. He understands it may not be his place as he's not his Element, but he doesn't really care.

Under him, a pure sound of frustration is heard at the same time he feels a strong finger hovering on top of a pressure point. That means Fong's also losing his patience and the fun's over. Ruffling the brat's hair, he uses his head as leverage to stand up. The little Sky groans but doesn't move out of the bed, letting Fong smoother him onto another hug.

He shakes his head and goes to the bathroom, wondering if he should tell them how lucky they are that the Harmony factor in Ozora's Sky flames around the room makes them unable to get an erection. Thing he found out the hard way after spending the night with a Sky and made morning sex certainly a challenge. It's likely the little Sky knows, but still. Mentioning about the flustered mornings he could have had, simply for being a teenager sleeping in a too warm environment caused by the high body temperature of a Sun and a Storm, sounds way too entertaining, if only because Ozora's reactions.

The bathroom is small, but he's dressed in worse conditions so it doesn't bother him. He makes a mental note to take his pajamas back from his safe house in Spain, though. He already has used all the ones in Italy and Ozora's getting complacent after seeing them all, if the chameleon cap he gave him is enough to go by. The brat needs more surprises in his life.

When he goes outside, he can see Fong eating his bento and Ozora half sprawled on the table, talking.

"—Ornella-san will let me keep the TV, so bring some Chinese movies. I've never seen one."

"Want to do the sleepovers now, brat?"

Ozora looks briefly at him before returning his gaze to Fong. "Well, you already sleep in my apartment. When you return maybe we can do movie nights, right?"

"I would like that very much," Fong tackles before Renato can get a word in about that suggestion. "Though I'm unsure how much you'll be able to understand without knowing the language. Your aptitude at learning other languages is certainly lacking as your Italian is barely average."

If Fong doesn't manage to return, Renato's going to miss the harsh bluntness that comes from time to time and the longsuffering looks it manages to get from Ozora.

He really hopes everything goes well in China as he wants to groan just by thinking in what will happen if Fong is in actual danger. Renato doesn't need a super powered 'intuition' to know Ozora will find a way to go to Asia and, Guardian bond or not, Renato will end up follow him.

(And that's why Skies in general for are so troublesome independent Elements who aren't one hundred percent into forming a bond: They can easily make one do their bidding without any obvious manipulation to help them.)

Renato sits in front of the bento with the yellow rim, barely twitching when he catches movement coming from the window as Ozora's so called partner flies through the window once again, much larger than he remembers it being. It curls around Ozora's neck. Though instead of looking like a necklace, with his new growth now reassembles a scarf.

His fingers twitch for his gun at seeing what he now knows is a boa constrictor around the thin neck of the little Sky, a gift from an unknown Mist he hasn't formed a bond with.

"Hey. Mamoru," Ozora says as he scratches the top of the reptile's head as if it were a harmless pet. The head-butt he receives to the side of his collar, really close to where his pulse is, makes his heart beat slightly faster and his muscles loosen in preparation for anything. Fong is any better and one can clearly see it by how bland his smile has become. "Did you found him?"

He lets out as silent breath through his nose when the boa moves away for Ozora to see him nod. He clearly expects something more, but when it becomes obvious the boa won't offer anything else, he adds, "Will he come soon?"

If an armless reptile could shrug, this one would have done so.

"He didn't leave a message?"

By now, Renato has reassumed eating his breakfast, presumably prepared by the same person who gifted Ozora his partner and he still hasn't been able to catch leaving the mentioned food so far. By the information Ozora has given about this mysterious friend of his, it's clear he'll appear when he wants to without giving a hint of planning to do it. So imagine his surprise when Ozora's animal partner opens her mouth and seven small orbs come out. Six are colorless and soft looking but one holds a faint indigo hue.

His mask is perfectly composed as he continues eating, as if watching a snake throw up things it shouldn't is a normal thing. Fong follows his example as they both see a curious Ozora inspect the orbs, but there's an unmistakable sharpness in his eyes there wasn't before. And he's sure he can't hide his own, either.

However, his carefully honed instincts don't detect any danger, so he waits patiently for an explanation.

By the way Ozora is sweating and is carefully not looking at him, maybe he should tone down his glare.

Maybe.

"I really don't know what these are."

"Don't you?" Renato asks smoothly, his tone making the other gulp.

"They remind of another set of… spheres, but they're no it, so… Um, no? We shouldn't touch them, just in case."

As if his hand has a life of its own and has not heard what Ozora's just said, it lights up with orange flames and grabs the indigo orb. The brat looks down at his closed hand when it starts glowing, as if only realizing what he's just done. By his resigned expression, it's a regular occurrence.

It does not make him feel better.

"Brat."

Ozora twitches, but some of the weariness he constantly carries leaves. "I didn't know I was going to—Oh kami-sama, it's alive."

Now instead of the small orb being on his palm, he's grabbing it with two fingers, as far away from his person as he can, which coincidentally is close to Fong.

"What do you mean?" Fong asks, lifting a palm up to receive the orb. Ozora happily gives it to him and it doesn't take the martial artist a second for him to blink in surprise and let out a small "Oh."

Renato glares at him. "What is it?"

"I don't know how to explain it. It's feels like a pulse, but…" he trails off, moving his hand close for him to reach the orb.

With no hesitation, he receives it and suddenly understands what the other couldn't explain. It's not a pulse what he's feeling, but it is pretty close. The orb looks as if it's made of crystal but it's softer than if it were made rubber. There's also a warmth unlike Ozora's flames inside it that feels too aware to shrug it off as a simple object.

It also reeks of Mist flames.

He looks up when he catches Ozora's flames going off on the edge of his vision to see him now touching one of the transparent orbs.

" Ozora!"

The brat startles badly, orb falling out of his hands. Fong catches it before it can hit the ground.

"I—I was just curious!"

Renato glares harder. They don't know what these things are and the brat just goes and uses his flames in another one. It all irks him the wrong way. His blank expression is familiar as he's seen it in other with similar abilities. It's disconcerting to see how unaware the brat is of his own actions until he's already done it, but it's more worrying to see that small hint of desperation in his action. Fong's considering, fond hum distracts him briefly from his irritation, but he can multitask just fine.

Still glaring daggers at the brat, he asks Fong, "What is it?"

"This one's different. It doesn't feel alive, just… like Ozora's flames."

"Let's see it," he says, motioning his free hand. The other seems doubtful for a second, which he thinks is strange until he touches the orb and gets where the uncertainty comes from. It does feel like Ozora's flames. And that's the problem, because Ozora constantly tries to hide his flames, always pressed tight inside his body, so not much is felt. They had a small clue of them the night before because the lack of the boa, but to have that warmth, naked and pure, on the palm of his hand is completely different. It feels… It's wonderful.

He hesitates for an uncharacteristic second, and the flames inside the orb reach for him as if to reassure him, to coax him into using his Sun flames. It reminds him slightly of the comfortable feeling he gets when he's next to Ozora's side—his own excitable flames finally calm with the help of the other's Sky flames.

"He can be my Sky," a treacherous part of his brain thinks, the primal one that wants to only Harmonize and cares little for logic. He ignores it and returns the orb to Fong.

"Any idea what are these things?" At the way Ozora's bites his lower lip, he adds, "And try to not lie."

"It's not as if I want to lie," Ozora mumbles, glancing down at the five clear orbs as he presses a palm against his chest. "Kawahira-san knows how much trouble I've with my flames. They can be rather overwhelming if I don't control them, after all. I think this is his way to help me with them… I feel a bit better."

He has some idea of the brat's problems thanks to yesterday and how drunk he woke up, but he's still suspicious and will be until he's met this Kawahira person. "Are they some kind of conduits then, or something to simply store them?"

"I think it's a bit of both? It's easier to push them back. I can feel better the…" His face carefully blanks, eyes widening slightly as his hand grips the material of his shirt. He then slowly looks up at them with the face of someone's who has fucked up and is trying to go for denial. Fong grabs his hand gently in attempt to calm him. It doesn't seem to work if the increasing hysteria he sees in the brat's eye is anything to by. He's instead looking at their connected hands with dread.

"You always use your flames when you touch me. I—I just noticed." There's no question but Fong still answers with an affirmative, his smile never wavering. "Um. Is this part of Flame courting someone?"

Renato can't hold back a snort at Ozora's high-pitched tone. "What did you think Flame courting was about?"

"I did tell you it was to see if we were compatible."

Ozora slowly looks up, face reddening in clear embarrassment. Seeing it makes a sadistic grin appear on Renato's face. "Did you think flowers and chocolates were going to be involved?"

By how his flush is spreading, the brat really thought Flame courting would be something similar to its romantic counterpart… This could serve as blackmail.

"I can do that, too. If you prefer to—"

"Please don't." Ozora takes his hand back, looking wildly around, before his gaze settles on the rest of the orbs. He grabs them and lights them up. "So, uh. These. Not dangerous then. That I am sure."

"Your intuition?" Renato says, humoring him.

"Yes. They're mine now, but… I think you should take one. Something tells me you'll need it." He touches the indigo one with the tip of a finger. "Except this one."

Fong looks up from where he's still practically cradling one. "We will need it?"

"Fong's the one who will really need it." Ozora hesitates before looking intently at Fong's hands. "Um. And your chopsticks, too. Take them with you and only eat with them, okay?"

The martial artist's gaze sharpens at the implications of what Ozora is saying. The brat seems aware of them as well, and Renato can't help but sigh softly at the sight of his grim expression.

Yes, it seems he's going to have to use his contacts to increase Fong's already well-known reputation; it's enough knowing the brat will be insufferable on Christmas and New Year because Fong won't be there. Perhaps a public allegiance between "The Eye of the Storm" and "The Greatest Hitman" will be enough? He really doesn't want to cross the Iron Curtain in the middle of winter to reach China just to keep the brat out of trouble.

"I'd prefer if you took one with you just in case, too. But it's okay if you don't want to," Ozora says, grabbing one of the clear orbs and infusing his flames in it. He holds it for him to take, but Renato does nothing more than stare it. Has Ozora realized there are only six orbs, the same number there is of Flame types?

Is he aware of what offering one implies?

Are you trying to court me as your Sun? he wants to ask, but doesn't. He knows the answer and doesn't want to hear it.

"Um. Renato?"

The slight tremble in Ozora's hand as he moves to take the orb back, fragile and insecure, makes the choice for him. He throws one of his chopsticks to the brat to erase that pathetic expression off his face. The brat has to dodge so abruptly he ends tossing the orb. Not that it matters as Renato grabs it before it can fall. He then hums, half because the chopstick went through the wall instead of breaking as a normal one would have done and half because touching one of those orbs is really nice.

"You can use it as a weapon, too," he cheerfully informs Fong, absently brushing the orb with the pad of his thumb before putting it inside one of the inside-pockets of his jacket.

He briefly wonders if he has free time to get some warmer clothes for the brat before leaving. It's not making a Guardian claim if he has the money and the Sky can't take care properly of himself. It's merely his good act of the year.

Oh, well. He can always make some time.

He's not recognized as the Greatest Hitman for nothing, after all.

Chapter Text

 

Q & A

For the people asking about Fong and if he'll appear on the next chapter:

Yes, he'll appear. I've decided to insert short scenes with his POV. Probably will do it with the other arcobaleno though most of the time it will be from Tsuna's POV.

About Leon:

I want to remind people that the Leon Reborn had when he was an adult is totally different to the Leon he keeps on his cursed form. Bigger and more like the real deal than the cutie potato we know.

About the orbs:

Nope, they aren't the pacifiers. They're another thing that will probably reveal its reason in the next couple chapters. And btw, one with Mist flames is actually Viper's. Remember that time Mamoru took Viper's flaming hand inside his mouth? Yeah.

About Tsuna Harmonizing:

He will, don't worry. I can't say much aside that while Tsuna is in the past he's been told he can't change the future too much as it could lead to SERIOUS problems. Kawahira will appear soon and he'll probably clear some of your questions. Though I'm still not sure if I should make Kawahira meet Tsuna or be Daemon the one to do it dressed with an apron clear meant to define him as a waiter for a Ramen shop. I've it written but it's such a subtle change. Decide, decide!

He won't hurt the arcobaleno either, btw! Tsuna wouldn't do that. He'll prefer to be the one hurting than that happening (and yeah, that's an spoiler?).

About the woman Reborn met:

An OC, I know. Mafer, short of MariaFernanda. She's quite important actually because she's the holder of the Mare rings and a part of Tsuna's mission. Kudos to the one who noticed, I only gave a small hint, I think. I know most don't like OCs but I needed the Mare Rings as this story's plot relies heavily on the Trinnisette and Byakuran hasn't been born yet.

About Tsuna's rings:

He has them, but the Vongola ones are sealed because two can't exist at the same time. It has some part in why the not-Ninth is curious about Tsuna actually and how Tsuna knows the Eight. Though I hope you remember Tsuna gave one of his rings to Skull (though I didn't clarify which one) it'll be important in later chapters.

About pairings:

I'm not really sure about it, actually. When I wrote 'Arco&27' on my summary I intended it to be familial that's why I didn't wrote 'Arco/27' or 'Arco27', though I understand the confusion. Again, I'm not really sure. Fong will probably have a crush on Tsuna and Reborn will be a tease just because he likes it, Verde will probably view Tsuna more in a familial way and who knows with Skull and Viper. But who knows, my writing surprises me and sometimes it evolves in a way I wasn't sure about. Someone commented about wanting Daemon to be Tsuna's Mist and now I've him added in my outline, so who knows if he'll be on the running for the pairing thing. Encourage me and give ideas/hc and we will see how it goes.


An extra, for the people who is curious. This is my vaguest outline made with songs:

Interlude: Reborn –The less I know (one republic), Demons (Imagine Dragons), Bliss (Muse)

-Arc I: Part 2 –Ride (21 pilots)

Interlude: Tsuna –Into the Wild (LP), Be me (Louden Swain), Control (Halsey)

-Arc II: Part I –Panic Station (Muse), Stop us (Radio Edit)

Interlude: Arcobaleno – Heathens (21 pilots)

-Arc III: The Mare Rings–Strange (LP), Unnatural Selection/Reapers/Resistance – Muse

Interlude: Away –Forever for now (LP), every breaking wave (U2), Time is Running out (Muse)

-Mini Arc IV+Epilogue: Separated – Icarus (Bastille), I Believe (Christina Perri), Alive (Sia), survival (Muse)


 

Also, how I feel bad at not posting sooner and knowing this chapter is more of a break for me (as it is a Q&A), I'm going to add the first draft of this story which is completely different from what it is now. You can ignore it if you want as it's not related with the story, but if you're curious, well...

- WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN –

There is a silence when the man finished talking. Heavy and somewhat uncomfortable. It isn't the tone or the man with the strange mask and unique silver hat that made it stifling. It is more of an instinctual feeling. The foreboding kind that one feels no matter how strong one is. He has never felt it before and now wonders why he's feeling it at all. He can't help but be disturbed by it even if the information isn't surprising, nothing new or world changing.

Arcobaleno, the man says as he shows them the pacifiers and Reborn can't help but tilt his fedora slightly up. They're famous, after all. The Arcobaleno are legends—their names never forgotten even if their faces are. And if he's not mistaken, it's been almost thirty years since the title has been mentioned, almost shrugged off as another myth if not for the solid proof that can be found. Though most don't know how they're chosen, it's always been clear that the title goes to the best of the best as their other title is the Strongest Seven. Both are titles he's only heard in rumors of those that are starting and wish to aim for the highest goal. The ones that are old in the game know it holds certain truth and is related with Flames.

After all, everyone high ranking enough knows the importance of the number seven in the mafia and it's always related to flames.

So why, if it doesn't surprise him, is the dread slowly increasing deep inside his gut?

The renowned Shaman, Luce, is most likely a Sky, the chosen Sky of this little misfit group. They are usually hard to miss, especially powerful Skies. However, aside from her, he doesn't know which flame the people around him has. He only knows that no one but him is a Sun. Or knew. Is not surprising the man in the Iron hat has that information and he didn't sound condescending as he listed their Elements.

The dread doesn't diminish, but it's easy to ignore it thanks to the excitement he feels at the prospect of gaining the title and the respect that comes with it. The difficult missions the man promises is also welcoming, but…

"Isn't it dangerous for her to be part of it then?" The purple haired male, Skull, says. "She's the Sky, our 'boss', right?"

Luce smiles, her cup of coffee clinking softly against the plate. "I assure you, you don't need to—"

"She won't be your Sky."

Luce blinks in surprise, her head turning to look better at the man. She opens her mouth, but no sound comes from it as a pained frown changes her expression. She rubs the side of her head and almost stumbles when trying to reach the table. Viper, siting closer, stabilizes her with a hand on her arm.

"Don't worry, she's only having a vision," the man in the Iron Hat says, walking forward and helping her to a seat. "The influx of information must not be a pleasantly one."

"I'm fine," she says, shaking her head twice before glancing to the empty wall on her left. "The new Sky…"

The man in the Iron Hat nods as if she hasn't just trailed off. He walks to where she's staring and gives a slight bow, his right hand signaling the empty space next to him. "I should introduce him, shouldn't I?"

Reborn lifts an eyebrow, ready to inquire what this sudden development is about, but a buzz in the air stops him. He's already standing, gun in hand, by the time the portal opens. Not dark and smoke-like as the one the Vindice use, but clear and bright one. It only takes a second before a figure rolls out. The sound of heavy breathing fills the silence as the portal slowly closes. The person kneeling in front of them lifts his head up, showing the erratic orange flame on his forehead. It flutters with each intake of breath, as if ready to extinguish but managing to stay put by force of will. Gleaming tired eyes inspects everyone, confusion and surprise growing with each person his gaze meets.

"My apologies for the abrupt trip," the man in the Iron Hat says in Japanese, startling the young man. Globes covered in bright Sky flames are directed to his person. There's a hint of panic in the young Sky's expression mixed with wariness. A string of words leave his mouth in a mumble, but they're too fast for Reborn to catch. He knows the language, but hasn't practiced it unlike others. The word 'uncle' is the only one he recognizes.

The man in tire Iron Hat answers whatever question he's been asked before his kneel touches the ground in front of the other, a clear, slightly orange pacifier cradled between his fingers. Reborn's quick check to the table reveals the empty spot he's sure was occupied a minute ago with seven pacifiers and not six.

"Tsunayoshi," he starts before switching to Italian. "Will you accept the honor of being the Sky Arcobaleno?"

The dread he's been feeling since the man revealed their Flame's types is painfully showed in the young Sky's face. There's no filter in his expression or an attempt to make it blank. The boy looks as if the air has been taken away from his lungs. His face pales in a way the warm color of the flame in his forehead makes it look somber instead of warm.

But there's no fear as his hand moves to meet the pacifier.

"Be the Sky that will change it all," the boy mumbles, his globed hand shaking faintly as it encloses the object.

The way he grabs it—as if it were the most fragile thing in the world collides with the way his shoulders tense, like a heavy weight has been placed on him.

"I accept."

The man in the Iron Hat chuckles as he stands up, turning towards them. "Perhaps introductions are in order? Let me introduce you to Tsunayoshi, the new Sky of the Arcobaleno."

Chapter Text

Arc I: Part II - Ride

Chapter 7

Far away from the Wo Hop To headquarters, where the paths turn dangerous and only the most talented dare to cross, there's a barely there path that leads to a mountain, full of spikes and too smooth rocks for hiking. A hole close to the top is there, hidden, not really large but still easy to walk through if one crouches. Fifteen minutes later of walking inside, it stretches until one can easily stand upright. In twenty more minutes it opens, revealing a small piece of jungle. The sound of the waterfall a good distance away echoing inside the not quite cave. It should make it cold or at least chilly, especially now on winter, but thanks to the small hot spring, the air is only a tad humid and warm.

A couple of snow monkeys are perched on the threes, looking at him curiously, but most ignore him. He's still remembered even if he hasn't visited the place in a long time. One in particular jumps to his shoulders and hangs in there with a hand as it searches for food with another.

"I missed you, too, little one." With a chuckle, Fong takes a small peach from his pocket and gives it to the toddler-sized monkey. "Could you let your mother know I'm here?"

He can't see the monkey well for her position on his back but he feels her bobbing her head in a nod before jumping away with her prize to the opposite way he's going.

Leaving the small bag he brought with him on the ground close to a nicely shaped rock, Fong takes out the cellphone from its insides and checks the signal. Barely enough for a call but it'll do. Ozora made him promise to call as soon as he reached China and could get away with it, so he's going to do it even if he's sure it's too early in the morning and the little Sky is asleep.

It takes almost four rings for the call to connect, a sleepy Ozora barely able to mumble a greeting in Japanese. Fong smiles fondly as he remembers how Ozora tends to nuzzle his cheek against his arm when he's in that state.

"My apologies for waking you up," he answers softly in Japanese, already knowing Ozora is not awake enough to carry a conversation in Italian.

"It's fine. I was the one who told you to call." The sound of a barely concealed yawn reaches his ears and he can already picture Ozora stretching and clumsily standing up to make some tea. "So everything's fine? Where are you now?"

"China, I think we covered this before."

"Ha ha. What a funny guy you are."

"I like the sarcasm in your voice," he says with a soft laugh. He does like Ozora's grumpiness when he wakes up. It makes him easier to hug and nuzzle his flames against his Sky ones. "Everything went fine, there's no reason to worry. I'm at the moment in a secluded place. It's most likely that my following calls will happen here, too. I don't want anyone to retrace the signal to you."

"Oh. That means I can't call you back, right? What am I talking about—Of course I can't call you back. You'll probably hide the phone."

Fong sighs at hearing the disappointment in Ozora's tone. He wants to comfort him, tell him he'll try to call constantly, but… there's a high chance he won't have enough free time to call as constantly as he wishes if he wants to return quickly to Italy. That doesn't stop him from wanting to be by the little Sky's side.

"I want to hug you." Ozora splutters in surprise and he can hear him tripping. It makes a smile form on his lips. "I wish I was with you."

With a high pitched tone Ozora hisses, "Stop! You don't say that kind of things!"

He grins widely, it's probably the fact he's speaking in Japanese that unsettles Ozora so much. He would have liked to say that that hitman has rubbed off on him more than he would have liked for taking way too much pleasure in embarrassing Ozora, but the truth is that the little Sky makes it too easy.

"Are you blushing, Ozora?"

"Shut up. It's embarrassing to hear you saying things like that." Ozora huffs but the sound is quickly replaced by a small sigh. "Yesterday Renato left too and, well. It's not as if I hadn't slept alone with you guys here at least once a week, but knowing I won't see you in a long while… What I'm trying to say is that, um—Well, I miss you."

Fong exhales softly, his grip on the phone tightening slightly. He smiles and with a hint of longing he wishes wasn't that obvious, he says, "I miss you too, Ozora."

And it's not only because he has a better grip on his flames when he's around the little Sky. He truly misses Ozora's presence, their conversations and the time they spend meditating together.

He wants to leave China, a place that will always be his home but without his sister there's no strong tie holding him in place there. He's spend so long without wanting things for himself aside from his own freedom, not caring the time it took to accomplish that this sudden impatience throws him off a little.

He wants to be with Ozora as his Guardian.

"I wish you were my Sky," he murmurs in the lull of silence, finally voicing his wishes out loud for the first time. Funny how he can say it now when there's a great distance between them. He's always been a bit of a coward at voicing what he wants though. "I really want to be your Storm."

"Fong…"

The tone makes him sit straight. "No, don't say anything. I apologize for this slip. These are not things I should be saying through a phone and I don't wish for you to answer me when we aren't face to face. Please."

"… You know that I—"

"Please. Wait for me to return and you can tell me then what you think. Just know that I'm a very stubborn person with a great amount of patience."

Ozora laughs but it's weak. "Yeah, I know. I wish that…" He sighs. "No, you're right. I'll wait and we can talk then. I'll—I promise I'll tell you the reason behind my answer and you can decide after. You deserve to know."

He hums around a smile that's perhaps too unbefitting of an assassin. "It's a date then."

"Yeah, it's—Wait, no! Renato already made fun of me for mistaking the flame courting thing. Not you, too."

"My apologies," he says, but his smile may be a tad wider. "Though you'll definitely be a catch for whoever you wish to romantically court—"

"Oh my god, please stop."

"—I mean, you're pleasing to look at and have a nice personality to par."

"Fong, stop! My face's too red. I-I think I'll pass out for the blood rush."

Fong has to bite the back of his hand to not laugh out loud, something that will certainly not be appreciated by the animals living here. He can hear Ozora rubbing the cellphone against his cheek, possibly the closest cool object he has on hand.

"You suck."

With a last chuckle, Fong says, "I'm not lying, Ozora. Perhaps I should adjust the type of courting. Wouldn't want others to take advantage of my little Sky."

My little Sky.

Luckily Ozora doesn't seem to mind how he's been called, if his moans of 'why me' are anything to go by, but Fong can't help the way his smile becomes strained. He shouldn't have called Ozora that. He's not a Guardian to make such claims even if he desires to be his Element very much so. Or at least not yet. Fong's very stubborn after all.

He sighs softly through his nose. It's been barely two days since the last they've seen each other and yet he already misses the boy with soft brown eyes and a warm, easily-exasperated personality.

A high-pitched sound coming from his right makes him turn to the large snow monkey standing close to the rock he's sitting on. It also stops Ozora's faint grumbles.

"What's that sound?"

"An old friend," he says, his smile gaining an amusing edge. "It's a snow monkey I had the pleasure of meeting when I was young. She'll be the one to hide the phone in a place unable to reach by human methods. How this hot spring is deep inside the mountains, she knows the best places as their kind tend to bathe here."

"Hot springs?"

"Yes. It's not very large but they let me make use of it from time to time as I know most of the habitants."

"Woah. You must tell me the story of how you found the place some time."

"It'll be my pleasure, but not now, I'm afraid. I should return before my absence is noticed."

Taking a larger peach from his pocket, Fong offers it to his friend. She snorts but accepts, the fruit small on her hands, and sits on top of the rock in a dismissive manner. Her daughter comes next, for once not going to her mother's back as she returns to search for more food in his clothes.

"She's grown into a proud being, not very patient."

"Oh. That's… fine then. I hope everything goes well to you, Fong."

"I wish you the same. I'll try to call as often as I can, but… well. I'll miss you, Ozora."

"Me too. Be careful please," is the last he says before the beep of the phone returns. He looks at it for a long moment before a tug on his braid reminds him of his company. He pushes the red button and hands it over to his friend.

"Please keep it safe. Hidden. I will ask for you to return it to me soon."

The monkey doesn't bob her head like her daughter would have done but does receive the device, giving him a sharp look before leaving.

With a soft sigh he glances down at the small monkey remaining. "Just you and me then, little one."

She looks up from where her head is inside his bag, a small apple between her hands, already half eaten.

He huffs in amusement as he pulls her out of his bag and settles her on the rock previously occupied. "I hope the Mountain Master hasn't asked for my presence or I may be in trouble."

It was a risk, coming here first instead of the Wo Hop To Triad's Headquarters, but one he needed to do to keep the phone hidden. He slides a hand inside the pocket in his sleeve, pulling out a small, soft reddish orange orb. He should have given it too as to keep it hidden, but he can't find it in himself to part from it, from one proof of his new identity as 'Fong'. He'll have to return to Huo Long when he reaches the Headquarters.

Closing his hand around it and concentrating on the feeling it gives, Fong takes another moment to enjoy the remaining of Ozora's soft presence.

Yes, he couldn't have left it behind. It'll make things more complicated, certainly, but if there's something he loves it's a challenge. This one he doesn't intend to loose. He'll return to Italy in three weeks.

- x -

(December, 8 – Wednesday)

"You've been quite down lately. Something going on?"

Tsuna looks up from where he's tucking away the last of the napkins that are always present on the tables for the clients to use. Chiara-san is leaning against the counter, looking down at his kneeling form with a curious expression that just barely hides the concern forming between her eyebrows.

"What do you mean?"

She raises an unimpressed eyebrow. "Don't think I haven't noticed how you both have been on the clouds these last couple of days, staring on space and whatnot."

"Er. Both?"

"Yeah," she says, using the action of pushing a strand of hair behind her ear to glance at the side where Zaid is setting the chairs up on the tables so they can swept the floor later. "Zaid's been more into the thoughtful and worried kind. You? You just have a raining cloud hanging above your fluffy head, which is sad to see this close to Christmas, so what's up?"

Tsuna glances up at the air above his head, not really thinking he'll find anything weather-related but still making sure. He knows at least two Mists and his life is weird enough for him to be surprised if he does find a cloud hovering above him. His worry make Chiara giggle which is rude but understandable. He kind of envies her ignorance and the fact she's avoided direct contact with the craziness he's had to live with, in these months they've known each other.

"… I'm fine."

"Uh-huh."

Tsuna looks away from her unimpressed face with a little too much panic. "Really, I am! I just—Well, a couple of friends I'm used to see around traveled abroad and won't be back in a while and…"

And what, really? It's not the first time it happens and sleeping alone is not exactly unusual as he always does it every Saturday night, but he still feels deeply affected by their rather sudden absence. Maybe knowing it'll be longer it's what makes him feel this glum and unsettled, which he finds it rather weird—

(It isn't weird, his Intuition hisses)

—especially when it turns his usual mild headaches into something painful and makes obvious the cool ache inside his chest that's supposed to be warm are harmonious, reminding him of all he left behind just because of his selfishness, because he couldn't accept life's unfair and simply let go. Memories of the whole 'Arcobaleno Representative' business, especially the last battle, flood constantly into his thoughts, leaving him anxious and so, so tired.

It's becoming a shore to wake up early and stand up to do start his day because this…emptiness. Not that kind that threatens to swallow you whole but the contrasting kind that's more of a heavy weight on top of all his body, making everything harder to do and constantly slowing him down with how it aches. His shift at the bar lifts up his mood because his friends distract him from his wandering mind, unlike his morning job that is too silent and boring as he works alone, cleaning rooms in which he does nothing but think of his flaws. Meanwhile in the nights he uses the privacy he now has to let out his flames, a grown Mamoru sprawled across his bed, close enough to hide his flames from the outside world without actually suppressing them as he normally does in his necklace form. It helps with the sudden unrest of his flames, but not by much.

He's not been this annoyed at his cowardice and impotence ever since he first encountered Kawahira-san in Italy the first time around and he helped him control his flames.

A hand settles on his shoulder and he almost tenses in surprise. "Natsu?"

Tsuna looks at Chiara, loosening the tight hold his fists have gained thanks to his thoughts. Her worry is clear now and Tsuna can't help but lean lightly against her arm. Her flames are inactive and weak, not enough for him to draw comfort from them and just for him to know she's a Sun, but still familiar.

"I'm fine. Or at least better now," he says and this time it doesn't feel like a lie. He sighs and removes her hand with a gentle motion. He stands up and looks at Zaid who is finishing with the last chair.

Chiara is right. His friend looks… not worried. Nervous? Anxious maybe? It looks weird in such an easy going person, but that's not really important. What is important it's that he's been so wrapped up in his own thoughts he hasn't noticed his friend needs someone to talk to.

Like you, something in him says.

"He looks stressed," he ends murmuring, ignoring the voice and settling the clean glasses at one side instead. "I don't think it's about his family though or guy looking for revenge. He would have told me if it's anything about her grandma and I know the look of the later."

Chiara blinks at him ignoring the second part, "You know her grandma?"

"Yeah. I actually met them separately when I was on Naples and later found out they were related. I used to help her find Kiko, her cat who loved highs a little too much to be healthy. She was the one to offer him to come here to work with Giorgio-san. He kind of dragged me with him, something about if he goes down, I go down too."

Not to mention that by saying how nonna Roberta 'offered' he means she 'ordered' Zaid to move out seeing as his growing reputation as a good conman was attracting the kind of trouble she didn't want for her grandson. They actually met because of a game and it was only thanks to his Intuition, heightened that time at horrendous levels, that he could win and not end getting robbed. Zaid was impressed and since then tried all the tricks he knew to gain some money from him. Because he's weird like that. How they turned out good friends, that's something he's still confused over, but going on by Chiara's hum she's probably already getting some weird ideas.

Chiara nods absently. "Both of you need to unwind a little. We should go out again, maybe to some club."

"A club?"

"Oh, don't even put that face. Zaid already told me all about your adventures in those places. Quite boisterous for a, what, sixteen year old at the time?"

"Wha—Okay, no. Whatever he told you, those are lies. He's a lying liar that exaggerates everything!"

"So you've never left to someone's apartment after half an hour of socializing?"

"That, that was one time. And she was just asking for directions!"

"But there were times you never returned back, apparently."

"Well, in those months I didn't have an official home so…"

Chiara lips tremble with what he can see is the beginning of a smile. "…so you took advantage of other's people bed?"

"I didn't do that!"

"What then. Did they take advantage of you and didn't let you leave after leading them to their homes?"

"No! No, okay, but. Uh. It was more of a mutual… agreement?" he says the word with great reluctance, knowing it's not the best one as soon as it leaves his lips. "I mean, I've been told I make a really good pillow and people can get a really good night of sleep with me around."

Which is most than likely attributed to his flames and still sound horrible out loud.

"Oh my god. That sweet face hides it, but you're a little man-whore!"

"Hush!" He slaps a hand over her mouth, looking towards the door where Antonio-san is pilling the new coffee beans. When he's sure they're not being overheard, he turns around to hiss, "I'm not a man-whore! I just had—uh, bedmates!"

Chiara-san giggles as he pushes his hand away, but fortunately her voice lowers into a whisper. "So you've never 'helped' a guy return to his apartment and then disappeared for all night only to return super refreshed the next day with your clothes ripped?"

Oh fuck. He's never going to get rid of that story not matter how many times he's tried to explain that nothing happened.

"I-It's not what you think."

"Zaid said it was the most calm he's ever seen you. You were practically glowing. And had a limp."

Well, yeah. The guy was a Rain, but he couldn't really add that to his explanation and how accidentally activating one's flames produces a backlash to the nearest people around. Tsuna, being the only one in that apartment, got everything and, well, the guy had to have really strong flames to manage calming his, at the time, wild ones. It turned off the Hyper Dying Will state he was living for the first time since coming to the past, making him fall unconscious. He woke up alone, but considering the guy was in some sort of Dying Will mode before Tsuna fell asleep, he wasn't surprised to not see him the day after.

The hole in the window was a bit worrying because they were on the fourth floor but there wasn't any blood on the ground so he's sure the other managed to live. Though sometimes he does wonder what happened with the guy after he escaped so he wouldn't answer any flame-related questions.

"Earth to Natsu? Did you get lost in your fantasies?"

He shakes his head to clear it. "Nothing happened! Just believe me when I tell you I didn't sleep with the guy. I don't want another Zaid bothering for that… incident."

"Okay, okay. So does that mean you've never had sex with one of your 'bedmates'?"

The use of finger-quotes is not necessary, nor is her disbelieving raised eyebrow, but Tsuna is trapped and he knows it. He sucks at lying and his blushing face probably revealed already everything. Is not like he can explain that he was practically on autopilot those months and just hovered around the most powerful inactive flames in a subconscious way of searching for his lost Elements. That he got used as pillow or as someone to cry on was of no importance, neither was the people that obviously wanted a little more than company. He even admits he appreciated sometimes that more because it offered more physical contact and that settled his flames a little more than just sleeping next to a person did.

… He may have been a little of a man-whore.

"Aw. You're so cute covering your red face and all."

"Shut up," he says, trying to go for harsh but thanks to his hands it comes muffled and whiny.

"Why are you all hiding here? Anything to share?"

Tsuna lowers his hands, ignores Chiara-san's amused expression, and waves at Zaid weakly.

"Just talking about going out again with Natsu here. Some club this time. What about this Saturday, you can get some fun playing games, I can get to dance, Natsu… can pick up someone. Everyone gets their fun, what do you say?"

"I'll not pick anyone!"

"Yeah, Chiara, Natsu doesn't pick up anyone." His admonishing look doesn't lift up his mood, mostly because he can see the mirth in his tired eyes. "They all flock around him for a chance. You haven't seen it. It's awesome."

"Another reason to go out, then."

Zaid's expression becomes troubled before he smiles. It's not like his usual enthusiastic expression but at least it's genuine. "Sure. I still need to learn Nat's technique, after all."

Tsuna wants to protest, but he's taken aback by how obvious it is that Zaid's worried about something and how he hasn't noticed before. Her grandma made him promise he'd take care of him and he ignored it to brood because Fong and Renato are gone. They aren't his only friends, how could have he forgotten that? He really needs to clear his head and search for what's going on with him, true, but he also needs to be more aware of his surroundings and his other friends.

(He ignores the voice whispering how he already knows what's going on and that he should stop being in denial as he usually does)

He sighs but gives them his warmest smile. "Just don't make me dance. I'm really bad."

He receives two grins that promise trouble.

- x -

(December, 10 – Friday)

There's something wrong with Zaid. Or, well, not wrong exactly. Certainly different and recent, a bit familiar, too. But not… wrong. Tsuna doesn't know how he hasn't noticed before, but now that he's trying to cheer him up, which means spending more time with him to distract him from whatever thoughts he's been having, it's—it's hard to ignore. How it makes him twitchy when he's around him, makes him want to step back and not approach him as if there's a shield surrounding his friend, screaming at him to not come closer. And is his determination to help his friend the only thing keeping him from obeying the voice, the screams that always make his head pound and his intuition cringe.

Zaid's uncomfortable too but it's clear he feels it in a much lesser degree than him as he only jerks a bit when Tsuna passes near. Like him, he doesn't seem to know the reason of what's going on if his confused expression is anything to go by. He always shakes his head immediately afterwards and shoulders on to talk him.

It's most likely Flame related as it's too weird for it to not be. Something tells him their reactions would have been worse if Mamoru wasn't suppressing his Flames. It also tells him there would have been more problems.

He takes extra precautions and tells Mamoru to tighten her hold, just in case.

It works as the next day he can easily talk with Zaid, but the niggling feeling of dread that appears before something wrong happens doesn't leave him. He wants to go and ask Zaid if he's getting involved in any shady, Flame-y business but he doesn't want to risk it. Zaid's still not a Flame active user no matter how powerful his potential is.

Everyone may think Omerta is not a serious thing because of how widespread mafia knowledge apparently is, but Reborn always said the best place to hide something is in plain sight and while the public may think they know what's going on, no one but few powerful mafiosi knows about Flames. Vindice may be the mafia police but he knows they really exist to regulate Flame users and that that's what the Omerta is really about. Of course, the knowledge of it is not to be shared with civilians if you don't want the Vindice on your tail and Zaid, for all his past, is still a civilian in the Mafia eyes.

… Though maybe not all Mafia eyes, he thinks as he sees the Ninth-to-be leaning an elbow on the counter and cheerfully talking with Zaid.

The feeling of dread is still there, settled on the back of his head to constantly remind him that a not-so-nice surprise is awaiting for him, but it doesn't fluctuate at the sight of the Ninth, his Intuition merely lights up in something akin to realization, which he doesn't understand and makes him wish there was some way for him to communicate with the alien living in his head instead of just guessing what its trying to say.

"Oh, Natsu. Didn't see you there. Good afternoon."

Tsuna blinks a couple times before settling an amiable smile on his face. "Hi, Timoteo-san, it's been a while."

"Already done?" Zaid asks, finally finishing looking at his clothes to meet his eyes. "I thought there were more stuff to stock. Damn. Are you going to leave me all alone in my lonesome now?"

Ignoring his pout and the way he settles his head on the counter, Tsuna looks around for Coyote-san but comes with nothing. He says distractedly, "I thought you weren't going to stay long." When he realizes that no, there's not a Guardian near, he raises an eyebrow at the man. "Have you come here alone?"

The 'is it wise?' is heavily implied but he hopes Zaid ignores it. Going on by the look he gets from him, perhaps that's just wistful thinking.

"Yes, I have. And Nougat is unfortunately busy. With the police lurking around our job has gotten slightly complicated."

Tsuna tries to hide a cringe at that because he's been having troubles because of the police, too. They're the reason he's not spending more time behind the curtains, doing stock, helping with the paperwork and a couple of other small jobs that don't involve him being in front where the police can see him and ask for papers.

"Complicated? How so? What're you doing?" Zaid says lightly, not an ounce of wariness a normal person would have in their tone after hearing the Ninth's words. It's weird and while Tsuna gets they're something like friends and Zaid knows the Ninth is in the shady business, even if maybe not the exact position, it's… unusual.

He glances at his friend through the corner of his eye, notices the usual tension that's been hanging around him is suddenly gone. The cheerfulness in his expression is real and—and there's something else there, too. Something that makes the traces of Flames not-his-own inside him ache. Something that reminds him of Gokudera's enthusiasm and bright eyes; the weight of Yamamoto's arm around his shoulders; the smiles and shouts of his onii-san; the soft snores of Lambo sleeping across his lap; the weird laugh of Mukuro as he taunted him; and the painful, but still incredible gentle, weight of Hibari's tonfa against his forehead.

And that's—that's—

He swallows and turns to the side, blinking a couple times until he's sure his eyes are no longer glistening and he forgets how cold his chest feels.

"—there's also a couple of interesting characters everyone seem to want their hands on. One more special than the others," he hears the Ninth saying and feel his gaze on him, but when he looks up the man's already sliding his gaze to the window, making it seem nothing but coincidence.

"So like what you did with DeMorte? Give them a card and wait for the best?"

The corner of his lips curl up, without the moustache making the expression look cheeky. "I suppose so. People will try to forcefully recruit them so it's better to give them the impression of being in control."

Zaid's face twist in mock displeasure but considering he's all but glowing standing in front of the Ninth, it doesn't work as it's been probably intended. The Ninth even chuckles, but Tsuna can't join with the nostalgia still chocking him, wanting to scape in pitiful sobs.

He clears his throat and silently breaths out until he's sure his voice will come out even. "Well, guys, I'm sorry but I'll get going. It's already late."

"Late? This is the earliest you've escaped Giorgio's clutches—"

"There's not much work for me to do, remember?."

"—And Timmy here just told me about an awesome restaurant near. He's got money, let's order a buffet and leave him dry!"

The Ninth throws his friend a mock glare. "I've got enough for a small buffet, if you want to accompany us, Natsu."

His tone is nice and friendly when he says that, but Tsuna can see in the gleam of gold in his eyes that he wants to talk to Zaid alone and that is important. There's also a hint of possessiveness that's slightly familiar. It makes him want to bristle or something like that. Which is really unnerving as it reminds him of those documentaries about alphas encroaching other's alpha's territory.

God, he has all the pieces and they fit neatly into one picture. Not that he needed the picture in the first place considering the nickname the Ninth called Zaid the first time they met, but.

But Zaid is his friend. His civilian friend who while has had his feet dipped into the murky waters of the Mafia, he's not been thrown headfirst yet. He worries and wonders if the dread he's been feeling all day is because of that. A nudge of his Intuition tells him that no, it isn't. And perhaps he should be more worried about that, but he doesn't care at the moment whatever Fate is planning to throw him when his friend may become a Guardian and he knows how dangerous the title can be. Especially if the Sky is a Vongola.

He looks at his Zaid who is now giving him a curious look and slides his gaze to his the ease in his posture he hasn't seen in days and turns to the Ninth. Making sure he's facing away from Zaid, he smiles. There's an edge in that curl of lips that unfamiliar but feels so right then. He's pretty sure his eyes are gleaming orange as he gives the Ninth a small bow without breaking eye contact. "I'm sorry but I had something planned already. Please take care of my friend."

Zaid laughs nervously. "What's with this sudden tense air?"

"It's nothing, nothing!" he says, giving his friend a bright and honest smile. "I'm just really busy today. See you tomorrow night?"

"Oh, tomorrow is your free-day? I thought Chiara was going to make you exchange days so she has more time to change."

"She tried, but I need to get search for a new bed so there's that. I'll come to pick you both up."

"Okay, then. Don't forget your umbrella and be careful on your way back."

Tsuna waves at him before nodding at the Ninth and giving him a deadly soft, "enjoy dinner" as he passes by, making sure he reaches for his umbrella first even if it's not currently raining, before going outside.

The wind that greets him is harsh and cold in comparison to the inside of the bar but Tsuna is already getting used to the weather so with just a soft intake of breath he glances up at the cloudy, darkening sky, and mourns the morning rain that made him decide to not use his bike for the day. He should probably buy an impermeable coat if the raining continues, but he'll already spend too much on the new bed and other furniture.

Ten minutes pass by with him trying to keep both hands inside his pockets without the umbrella falling to the ground when he sees it.

He immediately stops in the spot, not glancing to the place that shouldn't be there but still is. A small voice inside his mind thinks, "Oh, so that's where the dread comes from."

It doesn't reassure him in any way of course, but there's nothing he can do about it because: one, he knows ignoring it won't make it go away; and two, he's the one who asked for the visit. He takes a deep breath and turns around. The first thing he realizes is how the ramen shop horribly clashes with the architecture of the buildings next to it, but taking into account is not in the middle of the forest this time around, he should probably feel grateful.

He won't though.

With a sigh, he walks forward until he's standing in front of it, the smell of ramen strong and welcomed, though he won't ever admit it out loud, it's a piece of the culture—his culture—he misses. His hand moves to lift up the flops that hide the half of the shop where he expects to see the high counter with a bowl of ramen already on it, Kawahira-san behind it with his own bowl, probably taking a last bite before he gives him that close-eyed smile that makes him look like a fox.

It doesn't happen like that, because of course his life can't be that easy. The bowl is right there, alright, but the person behind the counter is not.

"How longer will you continue standing there with your mouth hanging open, young Tenth?"

His mouth closes with a click, but his eyes never leave the figure of Daemon Spade wearing a weird green apron, standing where Kawahira-san is supposed to be.

"Er. Shouldn't you be…" Dead? Plotting? Closer to the Vongola HQ? "… Not here?"

Daemon gives him a smiles that knows exactly what's going on inside his head. "Not even a 'hello'? Has the Arcobaleno neglected to teach you basic manners?"

There are a couple things he wants to point out, especially after all the grief that he's given him. What comes out though is, "You know?"

"I do," the man (ghost?) confirms with a smirk and that weird laugh of his before making a chair-like-throne appear behind him, reminiscent of the one Xanxus's uses but with more indigo in it. He sits with a poise that fits an aristocrat and throws the high pigtail—he just noticed he has that along his usual weird hair style—over a shoulder. "You may be wondering if the being you call Kawahira disclosed the information to me or simply brought me from the future, like he did with you."

He's actually wondering what's up with the apron and why he's wearing it. He's sure it says 'kiss the chef' on the front but English has never been his strong subject, so he doesn't know. What he does know is that it won't be smart to mention it, so he nods and moves to sit on one of the chairs. "I don't think you would agree with anything Kawahira-san says without any firsthand knowledge, even if he's a Mist stronger than you, so you're the one I met, right?"

The smirk is still on place but if his Intuition is right (and it always is) then Daemon is really annoyed at the fact he guessed right.

"One lonely Mist can't shoulder all that Earthling needs to. Everything is complicated so he needs the help of a strong, knowledgeable Mist that can assist him with the help he needs."

Tsuna frowns. That's too many 'needs' in one phrase. Something tells him the other's being blackmailed or something and he's trying to convince himself that's not the case. Again, he's smart enough to not voice his thoughts out loud. "… So he gave you your memories of the future?"

"He did."

That leaves a lot of questions in the air but he just knows the man won't as forthcoming as he wishes him to be. Still, he can't help to look down at the warm bowl of ramen and murmur a forlorn, "… You were free."

Free from the obsession that kept him from rest, free from the madness that surrounded him because of his desperation to complete a promise, free from the bitterness of loneliness and vengeance.

A large hand tips his head the side and he can see blue eyes on an expressionless familiar face.

"I'm free, Sawada Tsunayoshi. My actions are my own." Tsuna blinks, a bit out of it at hearing his real name for the first time in so long. Not that his stupor lasts long when the man adds in a deadpan tone, "You're harmonizing."

There's a ringing noise coming from his Intuition that's harder to ignore even with the way his heart is pounding. "W—What?"

Daemon hums as he slides his hand from his chin to his chest, barely above a fluttering touch. "Can't you feel it? The extra bonds?"

The ringing is louder, clearly trying to tell him something, but Tsuna doesn't understand what. A headache is forming and is not because of the Mist flames the other is slowly pouring inside him. He shakes his head once, twice, and closes his eyes, focuses in the flames that are not his own with the help of the ex-Vongola Guardian. It's hard with his Sky flames filling most of the space, like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Well, seven needles. Usually he can't get anything but the distinct feeling of his friend's presences, but somehow the warm palm of Daemon's hand coated with Mist Flames against his chest makes it easier. Not pushing his Flames away but creating a bridge instead for him to reach that place inside him.

Even in the stasis-like state they've been since Tsuna appeared in this time, he can't help but sigh at their closer-than-normal sensation, a small smile forming on his lips. It's been so long since he felt his friend's flames as well as he's doing now. He wants to enjoy it for a while longer but he knows it's not the time. Daemon is doing this for a reason, he knows that even if he's afraid of what he's going to find out.

He purses his lips and opens his eyes. Daemon's brows are slightly furrowed and his face lacks the usual mocking smirk. As soon as Tsuna notices this, like a mirage, it disappears, the laid back expression is back, Mist Flames slowly retreating from him.

The ex-Mist Guardian raises an eyebrow as if to say 'Well?'. Tsuna ignores it and presses a hand where Daemon's larger one took place, trying to attempt to do what the other did.

"You won't succeed without a mastery on Mist flames." He leans back on his throne-chair again. "I take it you didn't feel it then, Tsunayoshi?"

"I don't know what you're talking about," he grits out, the ringing inside his head increasing. His skull feels too small for his brain and suddenly every muscle on his face makes it so painful to form an expression. It hurts so much and this time he doesn't hide the wince of pain it causes, more focused he is into not letting any whimper form past his lips.

"Perhaps is not about if you can feel it or not, and more if you want to." His tone lowers into something mocking and awful. "Is the little boy so afraid of the truth that he prefers to drown in ignorance? You've one of the greatest cheats and are not using it at its full potential. I wonder why not?"

"Shut up," he snaps. I'm not afraid, he wants to yell, but… He can't. The reality is that he's so very much afraid.

"Will I be able to return with my friends?" he had asked in a small voice when Kawahira-san promised to answer him everything he wanted. He saw then, in the way Kawahira-san blinked as if just seeing him for the first time, that the man was just realizing how young he was and the weight he was placing on his shoulders.

"You will see them again," he had said, which wasn't really an answer, but his eyes told him that he would explain if Tsuna asked for it. Tsuna had swallowed then, ignoring the gaze and the way his Intuition rang, and nodded, not asking for more.

Will he ignore it now, too? When it possibly includes the fate of others? People he can call friends?

He's never denied being a coward as he's so afraid all the time. And he knows that if it's only him the one suffering he can deal with whatever problem and go blind and deaf to the path of damnation he knows it's the one he's walking on, no matter how much he tries to not pay attention. But is not him anymore, isn't it?

"A lone Sky can't survive for long. They tend to attract trouble and not care of their well-being, turning them reckless."

"I'm not like that."

"Are you sure, little Ozora?"

Grabbing his head between his hands, he looks down at the cooling ramen, a silent sob wrecking his frame. Tears blur his vision but he clenches his eyes shut so they won't fall. His throat feels too dry but he clears it as he looks up, letting his determination guide his actions.

"You know why it hurts you so much, don't you? Your Intuition is screaming at you and you're not hearing. It'll only get worse, you know."

He knows. He knows, but he's still afraid of acknowledge it. He needs to hear it to not be able to ignore it anymore.

"What do you mean with me Harmonization? Speak clear. No riddles."

Daemon doesn't let his surprise show but Tsuna, even with a headache threatening to split his head in two, knows the man is experiencing it. He pulls out a familiar object from nowhere and Tsuna can see where this is going even without him receiving an answer.

"No. You won't take the easy route. Why don't you find the answer yourself instead, um?"

Tsuna wants to scream in frustration, but doesn't. He extends his left palm up ignoring the way it trembles, catching the clear pacifier when the man lets it fall. Unlike the orbs he received from Mamoru days ago, the pacifier is bigger and hard like glass, no imperfection in its surface. It doesn't have a pulse but there's something similar and hungry. He knows what to do without being told and before he can get second thoughts, he switches it with on his other hand. Tsuna then takes off the bandages covering his palm, his small snake familiar sliding off of his wrist to rest next to the bowl.

Daemon's elbow is on the counter, holding the weight of his head with a fist as he peers with bored curiosity at his actions and the small boa's. When Tsuna's over and leaves the bandages on the counter, he doesn't waste a second to inspect them, completely ignoring the threateningly way Mamoru is lifting up.

"Interesting. I wish I could study it as it's a certainly a better quality than the usual Flame resistant cloth."

He receives a glare for his words. "Ask Kawahira-san then. I'm using that one."

"Uhm. Perhaps I will. The seal woven won't be as easy to decipher without at least some direction." He looks up when Tsuna is about to use press his palm to the pacifier. "Halt."

"Erm. What?"

"Before you do that, can I examine your palm?"

Tsuna blinks incredibly at him, eyes starting to gain a feverish gleam. Can't he not see the strain in his expression? The way sweat is already beginning to form on his forehead?

"What?" he asks again, hoping it sounds as disbelieving as he intended, though considering his breathing is a little too shallow already, probably not. But damn, it's been really long without the bandages and Mamoru to help him control his flames. He's not used to this quantity anymore.

Taking his tone as permission, Daemon grabs his hand in a tight grip and holds it close for him to see the mark, scarred deep on his skin in the form of a circle. Like the first time it appeared, it looks raw as if blood's a second from pouring out. Not that it's happened before even with its gory aspect, probably it has to do with its color orange, instead of the usual red one would expect from such wound.

Daemon hums as he turns around his palm to get a view of the back. "It doesn't look too special for it being what turns you into a walking pacifier."

"Yeah, well. You're not the one trying to harmonize part of the planet's energy."

"True," he says, finally letting his hand go. He makes a 'shoo' motion for him to continue what he's doing. Tsuna wants to roll his eyes but doesn't have the energy to do so.

With a breathy sigh, he presses the pacifier against the mark and can't help the relieving moan at the way he feels the Sky flames draining from him to the object. It merely feels too good to not feel like his skin is too small for his flames, barely holding out with from pouring out from the weak stitches that keep it from escaping. He suddenly feels weak, but weirdly energetic. His Flames nothing but a drop of water in comparison with the ocean that it inhabited before.

He lazily opens his eyes, the now bright orange pacifier resting on his palm. It's trying to harmonize with him and curse him, but Kawahira-san taught him how to control it. He's not good at it so he will have to revert it back in a couple of minutes, but that's long enough for him to do what he needs to.

His Flames have increased in volume, but pushing them away is so easy now because they're his own. His friend's flames don't take more than a few seconds to locate, still cold and motionless, small too because he never got the chance to completely harmonize with them, but there. He wants to enjoy their clear presence more, but something stops him.

There, where he feels Gokudera-kun's flames are he feels something weird tangled with them, small, but clearly active and hot unlike any of his friend's flames. It takes him a while to realize it is Fong's. His mind is blank as he pokes it and feels it purr in contentment. His face is probably set in an unreadable expression that's slowly filling with dread. Just out of masochistic curiosity he concentrates on onii-san's flames until he can feel something similar though in a lesser extent. This one pokes back.

He stops looking internally and meets Daemon's amused eyes. There's something sadistic in them he doesn't like and wants to punch. That weird laugh is not helping either. He pushes the bowl of ramen that's not cold anymore.

"Hungry?" he asks with a way too wide smile. "I cooked it myself."

Does that mean the one making his breakfast is Daemon?

"You suck," he breaths out, his concentration leaving him in his annoyance for a second and letting the curse take a hold of him.

"Fuck," is the last thing he says before something snaps inside of him and knocks him out. Though what he last thinks is, "At least it's Friday."

He will probably remember the resigned tone more than the actual words when he next wakes up. He always remembers the resignation best.

- x -

Chapter Text

Fanart

Chapter 8

(December 8, 1982 – Wednesday)

The brown cup has been long empty between his hands but it's still warm from the tea, somehow reassuring in its familiarity. It's cooling fast however and he wants to grab the kettle resting on the small table close to him to refill it, but he doesn't. He can still feel the presences near of the people that once occupied the great room he currently is and they're too close for his comfort and while remains stoic and calm outside, he can feel some irritation seeping in at the length of time that's taking them to leave. They should have known better and be gone by the time the Mountain Master accepted a private audience with him after the official meeting was over. The type of conversation he wants to have is not meant to be heard.

"Patience, Huo," the Mountain says with his gravelly voice, eyes fixed on him and posture impassible. "Their apprentices are young and learning, discipline is not easy to master. They can learn at their own pace now that peaceful times are upon us."

Taking his words as a nod to proceed, Fong lifts the small blue kettle to fill both cups. When he's done he waits for the Mountain Master to take the first sip before he follows his action, the heat of the tea scorching hot for anyone but a Storm.

"Unlike my generation," Fong says though he meant to refer himself. There's no bitterness in his tone, he already made peace with that part of himself.

The Mountain Master still catches what he wanted to say, a small smile peeking over the rim of his cup. "Unlike you, indeed. Though I'm sure if you had joined with this generation, you'll still push yourself as much as you had done before."

Fong hums. "Most likely. My fixation has always been martial arts."

"True. It's been a long time since I've seen a Storm with your masochistic drive to train and learn. I remember bets going between you burning yourself out and quickly rising from the ranks."

"Luckily I did the later."

The stare he receives is cool and shrew. "That's not luck. You managed to reign your temper and obtain the recognition for your talent."

Fong bows his head, eyes firmly on the ground. "I'm honored to hear such words from someone such as yourself."

"Lift your head, it wasn't a compliment. You've had many eyes watching your movements ever since you gained the name Huo, did you really think no one would notice?"

Carefully not tensing, Fong looks up to meet the aged gaze. His tone is even as he repeats, "notice?"

"Don't play with me, boy. I noticed the beginnings of harmonization the moment you stepped foot inside this room." Fong can't help the minute twitch of a finger. "I'll give you some credit because it's barely noticeable and I don't believe anyone else has sensed it. However, that will not always be the case.

"The tournament for New Years is near and we're to attend. You've until then to find a solution unless you want to let everyone know you're courting a Sky. Too many people is already fretting because they don't have leverage on you."

Something snaps inside him and a deadly glare rears its ugly head without care of the consequences. "I'll burn everything to the ground before the Triads even manage to go near him."

The Mountain Master is unimpressed.

"Reign your flames, Huo. You think we don't know behind that calm façade still is a tempest brewing? There's a reason the higher up decided to move you to Europe after your sister's supposed death."

The soft inflexion is what douses his possessive anger and manages to calm him. "My sister is dead, I should remember as I burned what was left of her corpse."

A half-lidded stare accompanied with a raised eyebrow makes him feel like a child again, caught after attempting to do the katas above his level. It's humbling and nostalgic but he doesn't let those feelings touch the surface of his expression. No one is supposed to know his sister is alive, with how much it cost him to even attempt such act.

"There's little that escapes my knowledge of what happens inside my own headquarters and my people, Huo. You should know this by know, arrogance won't let you advance further."

Worry settles in his chest, gripping tightly of his insides. He hasn't seen his sister since the plan was formed and it's likely he won't see her again, but he now wants to fly to Japan and search for her until he can be reassured of her wellbeing.

"How?" he asks softly, wondering if the same way he obtained the information can be done to capture Ozora.

He wants call him and hear his voice, fly to Italy until he's in his reach and never let go, not caring if he never gets to become his Storm Guardian if he gets to still be around him.

"Stop worrying, your secret is safe for the moment. Have you forgotten you form part of my people too, Huo? I knew you wouldn't accept your sister becoming breeding stock. I allowed you to continue your plans because I didn't accept it either. She's not as skilled as you, but she's still a magnificent fighter. It would be shameful to lower her merely for the promise of another fighter like you. There's no need for more warriors now the waters have calmed. Besides, your sister reuniting with the Hibari's lineage could be beneficial to us, too."

His muscles relaxed at the honesty he could hear and see. "… and about the Sky?"

The Mountain Master placed his cup on the table, hands hiding under long sleeves on top of his lap. "I've no information aside from what I could see from you. Him, you said? He must be in Italy for you to constantly return there and be powerful to have gained your attention."

Fong ignores the not-subtle fishing, his memory going to something previously said. "You mention you sensed the beginnings of Harmonization in me?"

"Can't you not feel it? I would not be surprised if it is so, only other Skies and Rains would notice."

He has to look down for the other to not see the smile threatening to split his face in two. The orb, safely hidden inside his clothes feels suddenly warmer and welcoming than before. He hears a soft huff of breath but does not look up.

"Do something about it before the tournament. You're still part of the six dragons even if you've gained enough reputation to move more freely than most. The only reason you've not been given apprentices is because your age. I can make blind eyes but you need to accept that's not enough to become independent and gain a Sky without ties to the Triads. I honestly don't think it'll ever be enough."

He looks up at him with a steely gaze to meet his hardened eyes. "Not even if I become a Mountain Master?"

He knows it's treacherous to even say it and dangerous considering all the information he has on him and all he's already doing for him but Fong can't help but ask with honest curiosity.

"No, not even then," he answers curtly. "If he doesn't have other guardians or is not part of a Family you know the length the Triads will go to have him. That's the only way to keep him, though. Secrets are not in the dark forever, not in our world."

"But you won't disclose any of this information with the other heads, right, Master?"

The man sighs the sigh Fong remembers when he trained too hard and the Mountain Master had to call a Sun instead of leaving him to grovel and search for one, the one that says he's getting too old to deal with brats and perhaps he is. "You're my responsibility first and you're still young; you'll learn. Just don't forget it was your decision to join. You belong to us."

Not breaking his composure he gives him a slight nod, "I know."

The Mountain Master answers with a nod of his own, this one motioning him to leave. "Remember to do something about your flames. Every capable sensor that's kept an eye on your flames for longer than a couple years will realize their change."

Standing up, Fong bows low for long seconds before going to the exit, quite intrigued at how the Mountain Master has not noticed the small orb filled with powerful flames when he's realized the change in his in a heartbeat.

Smiling wider at the reminder of this change, Fong already makes a mental note to use his free time to experiment with this. He has less than two weeks to do something about his flames.

- x -

(December 11, 1982 – Saturday)

Tsuna slowly wakes up, part of him not wanting to as he's comfortably warm despite feeling well-rested. A large body slithers alongside him, Tsuna's sleepy mind confirming it as Mamoru's. He nuzzles against the soft scale-y skin of his familiar and the material underneath him once before slowly stretching, his mouth wide open in a soft yawn. His body feels a sore but it's the good kind after working out like a normal person and not like Reborn's sadistic ways. It that makes him want to spend a whole hour in bed just stretching. Wistful thinking, he knows, as his days are always busy and he can't afford it. So with a last sigh he slowly blinks his eyes open.

He stops mid-stretch and experimentally clenches his fists. His tiny fists, which seem to be attached to pudgy, short arms. Mamoru, at his side, lowers her head until is in front of his faze. She looks vaguely apologetic, something he vaguely registers as he's still watching his limbs with a blank expression, one of them slowly approaching to his chest where he's not surprised to find the Sky pacifier on top.

He groans and flops back onto his side.

"You aren't going to spend all the day like that, are you?"

Peeking over his shoulder, which is awkward as his neck only seems able to do it half way, he sees Daemon in that throne like chair, reading a cooking magazine that looks too modern for the actual year. He's not looking at him but Tsuna doesn't care much about it when he notices the familiar room he's in. The ugly paintings he never take off are hanging on their rightful spots, the furniture is on place, and he can now recognize the couch he's been sleeping on. Everything is the same except for the front of a familiar ramen shop where his kitchen is supposed to be, lighting up the place with a light that's quite nostalgic because it's white instead of the usual yellowish that's the norm in this time's lamps.

The curtains are drawn close, not letting him get a good guess of the time. Not that he needs it to know it's really late with how dark it is.

"How long was I out?" he asks softly, not wanting to hear his new high-pitched voice but needing the answer.

A turn of a page. "About five hours."

Tsuna sighs, his hands going to cradle the pacifier hanging around his neck. He should be working in pulling out so he can return quickly to his normal age, which will take a couple hours and leave him with enough pain afterwards for him to not be able to move, thing that will ruin his plans of finding and buying a new bed. Hopefully he'll be well enough to make it to the bar to go to the club with Chiara and Zaid as he promised.

In short, he really should be taking the pacifier off and get rid of the curse. The quicker the better.

"You'll stay with it for a while longer, won't you?"

Looking up from the brilliant orange orb, Tsuna locks gazes with Daemon. The magazine is closed on one knee and he's now regally sprawled on that throne, still wearing the green apron. He doesn't seem curious or confused at his apparent reluctance, as most would be—should be. He almost looks understanding, or at least there's certain knowing in his eyes as he sees him lying on the couch, Mamoru protectively surrounding him.

"How do you feel?" he asks softly after seconds pass with their weird staring going on, in a tone Tsuna's never thought would hear from a person like him. For some reason, it makes it harder to breathe and his eyes start to water. And perhaps is the tone, or the new body not as emotionally capable as his own, or the fact that for all he's always been surrounded here with nice people and friends, he doesn't really have anyone to share his secrets and tell his problems to. He realizes with a start that even if he's not alone, he still feels lonely without anyone to freely talk, without anyone to call him for his real name.

"Can you—Can you say my name again?" he asks as evenly as he can, drying the couple of tears that manage to escape. "Please."

"You're Sawada Tsunayoshi, son of Nana and Iemitsu, a Sky. You were born on October fourteen in Naminori." Daemon kneels in front of him but Tsuna still has to look up to meet his gaze. There's a handkerchief he pulls out from thin air and uses to clean his cheeks. "You're Sawada Tsunayoshi, a Vongola."

It's strangely comforting to hear these little facts about him and even with them it still takes him a long minute to recover from that almost-breakdown. He's a bit unsure where it comes from as he thought he already made peace with his circumstances, but it seems that's another thing he's been lying to himself.

Daemon is still kneeling in front of him, an acceptable distance away and the handkerchief nowhere to be seen, his face is set in a carefully crafted expression that reveals nothing as he watches him. His Intuition is weaker than what he's grown used, more like a sixth sense than the know-it-all alien it usually is, but he gets enough to get a picture of what's going on.

"Kawahira-san doesn't want to see me, right?"

"He is busy."

"He could have sent an illusion," he says, his grip on the pacifier tightening.

Daemon lets out a regal snort and leans in, enclosing most of the distance separating them, an amused smirk on his lips. "You both are playing some weird poker at the moment. It's obvious he wouldn't confront you when you've that cheat in your head."

"This is not a game," he grits out, the young muscles on his face feeling weird at being molded in such a harsh expression. "There are lives counting on this, futures."

"More than you think, I bet. It's a part of the trinitsette we're talking about. Not that you would care. If you could keep your family safe, you wouldn't care if the world burns, right?"

"Wha—I would!"

"Would you? I wonder." He hums as he stands up, not going back to his seat but choosing to sit in front of him with his legs crossed, on the air, as if gravity is just another word. "In my opinion, Kawahira won't appear until he really needs to. He likes to make himself appear like the mastermind behind all of this but I bet that the truth behind his absence is more because you will be able to see all his cards and he knows you don't want to."

There's a soft hum inside his head, affirming or denying, he's not entirely sure. "What are you talking about?"

Daemon grins too wide to not be terrifying. "You want to fold so badly because some part of you already knows what's going to happen, but you know you can't. You prefer to play it blind and will do it until you can't anymore."

"Stop with the poker references!" he shouts, his voice too sweet sounding for the emotions he feels. A headache is starting to form between his brows once again, softer than the one's he's gotten without the pacifier but still too much for his small body to be capable of ignoring.

A nudge of his Intuition makes him try to sit up when Daemon leans in but his body is too alien at the moment to answer him as he wants.

"You can reach the sky while kneeling but you keep looking at the ground—and that? That pisses me off." He grabs a fistful of his hair, seemingly not caring of the boa constrictor suddenly on him, tightening her hold around the Mist's arm and neck as he yanks Tsuna's face slightly forwards, almost lifting his whole body up. "Where's the kid that beat me? Where's the one who traveled to the past determined to accomplish the goal set on his mind? I've only seen a coward hiding behind all these aliases, all of them a shadow of the boy that managed to gain my respect."

Tsuna takes a shaky breath and opens his mouth with the intention to speak but Daemon tightens the grip on his hair. "I've kept a close watch on you. You know the real identity of the people flocking around you but keep denying it. It's disgusting. It makes me wonder if the reason you hold tightly of that cursed thing around your neck is not only for the break it gives you from its overwhelming power and is it instead because it makes it easier to ignore everything you Hyper Intuition points at you. Or maybe is it—"

Tsuna can't take it anymore. With Sky flames governing his thoughts and actions, he punches the arm holding him in place that Mamoru is not covering. There's an ugly crack echoing around the room, but Tsuna doesn't stop, using his newfound control on his flames to fly and kick Daemon on the stomach, the sudden action too surprising for the Mist to evade. It's not strong to harm but it is to make him fall back on his back.

"You don't think I know?!" he shouts, fists still aflame. "I—I didn't want to and I did try to ignore the signs. I'm a coward, is that what you wanted to hear? I do know who they are and I know what my Intuition wants me to do, but I can't! I can't! It would mean they will suffer discordance when I leave or—or that I won't be able to…"

He trails off, his throat too dry for him to continue. The last option is too painful for him to speak aloud and make it real. He doesn't want to hear what his Intuition thinks about it, like it does with the words that just left him. Knowing subconsciously is one thing, he thinks as the faint shock makes his body tremble when he realizes that, yes, he does know. He knows Renato is Reborn, his sadistic tutor; Fong is I-pin's master, the ever-calm baby; and Mona is Viper, Mamon, Varia's Mist. He's known ever since Renato pointed out how strong flame users can see through the illusions of people with lesser power, unknowingly suggesting Kawahira-san wasn't the most powerful flame user alive. He snorted as the statement was too laughable and told him how there must be another reason as his Intuition said she was important.

Tsuna realized then that the way his Intuition labelled the Mist is the same he labels Fong and Renato as: Important for his mission.

He told Mamoru to contact Kawahira-san, not to confirm his theory but hoping he'd deny it.

Maybe Daemon's right and that's why he didn't appear. Can he see through all he's planning and still follow through it? It's a stupid question when he already knows the answer.

He looks up at Daemon who is floating in front of him as if he's not been kicked a minute ago, leaning his weight on both elbows and ignoring Mamoru's tight hold even when he's sure he broke at least his wrist. His expression is a bored, but shrew one, with a hint of curiosity that's not remotely innocent.

Tsuna kind of feels like a bug under a microscope.

"I don't think I'll be able to follow whatever he's planning for me if I knew of it," he says softly, but with an edge that's able to cut. "Maybe that's coward of me but I've never been good following plans. Just know, and tell Kawahira-san this, it doesn't matter if I complain to the skies or curse his name, I'll continue walking on this path and go forwards with everything he throws me because I was the one who accepted. I'll try my best because it was my decision to do this. I just—I don't want to know."

"You don't want to know if you'll be able to return to your time?"

Tsuna inhales shakily. "No, I don't. I just want to concentrate in the present. It's easier that way."

"So you'll continue letting Kawahira deal the cards? Very human of you."

"I'm human."

"Ignorance is a bliss and all that?" With a hum, Daemon extends his hand. "If that's your choice then give me the pacifier, you know what long exposure will do to you."

Tsuna looks down at the orange orb hanging in front of his chest, warm and alive between his small hands. He glances at the now shallow mark on his right palm and remembers Kawahira-san telling him about the trinisette and their gifts.

"A fixed point in time," he repeats the Arcobaleno's reason to exist in a murmur, the gift that makes him able to stay in the past without problems.

"Yes, that's right. Though if you hadn't been the holder of the Vongola ring, you wouldn't have managed to make that trip."

"Because the Vongola rings are connected to the past, I know."

With a sigh, he concentrates in taking the flames the pacifier managed to take from him. Luckily it's not much and because of that it's quicker. The problem comes when he has to take the connection the pacifier has to the trinisette and use the mark on his palm as a replacement. Not because it's harder. On the contrary, it's really easy to do it. The problem comes when trying to maintain it on just his palm while foreign raw flames just want to flood him with its power. If he lets it happen, he'll be in a catatonic state for a couple days, so he has to be really careful with this. The last time he accidentally cursed himself, it took a week for him to get it right and those were painful days he doesn't want to experience again.

Fortunately, now it takes him four hours for all those dense flames to flow through his body without incidents. He's still drenched in sweat and his breathing sounds as if he's just been through a special Reborn-training though. He can barely lift his head from where it touches the floor. Not that he wants to as it's nice and cool against his sweaty skin, even as wet as it is thanks to it.

He feels someone grabbing his slightly larger right hand, but doesn't bother to check when he's sure it's Daemon the one bandaging him. He thinks he manages to gurgle a 'thank you' but it probably is just wistful thinking.

Oh, well, he'll say it to him the next time he sees him. Making a mental note to not forget to ask about the orbs Mamoru gave and their purpose, Tsuna decides that a nap comes first as he doesn't want to stay awake when the pain of his body growing sets it. His bones and muscles will be sore enough afterwards for him to deal with.

Tsuna hopes he'll be well enough to move by the time he has to go to the bar even though he now really doesn't want to go. He knows if he goes to explain how tired (And in pain) he is, they'll understand but just picturing the hint of disappointment in their faces makes him unable to even start pronouncing the 'I can't go' inside his mind.

He really is a pushover.

- x -

(December 11, 1982 – Sunday, early morning)

"I'm not even sure how this happened."

From his side of the bed, Tsuna can help but agree. His heads pounds and his mouth still feels a bit funny though so he doesn't voice it. Zaid turns his head to look him better, clearly not happy with Tsuna's lack of words. It makes him wonder how is it possible for him to be so lively when Tsuna's sure he drank at least twice what he did.

Well, considering how he doesn't like getting drunk—the memory of Iemitsu sprawled on the sofa, cheeks flushed, stupid smile on, and the smell of the beer bottles surrounding him appears as soon as he thinks of the word—and he's a lightweight, maybe he should cut him some slack. But he's being too loud so he won't.

"I mean, I was surrounded by babes after my third win and you had your weird power on so that pretty girl didn't leave since you started talking. Chiara was the one who kept changing dancing partners every five minutes, how is that she got lucky while we didn't?"

Weeeell, Tsuna slow mind thinks, pretty sure if Zaid had really wanted, he'd have gone with the first person who winked at his way. He didn't, of course. And that's explanation enough of how clearly down he is and not in the mood for that kind of company. In Tsuna's case, his muscles were still sore to even walk and he wasn't going to leave his tipsy friend behind so he could brood alone. That, more than the pain, is the reason why he decided to stay by his side when Chiara announced she was going to leave early, a really tall and handsome guy holding her waist.

Luckily he's sober enough to not say that aloud as he's pretty sure Zaid won't be happy to hear it.

"Dunno," he says instead, tongue too heavy for him to pronounce the words correctly without some real effort on his part. "Those pants were pretty tight though."

Zaid nods sagely. "That they were. She has the right legs and knows how to use them, man. Smart."

"I wish I had nice long legs," he mumbles, kicking one leg for emphasis, being careful to not brush it against Zaid's. "'m too short and they're too skinny."

"Your legs are fine; thin but with a nice form that fits your ass. Like a runner's, though you don't run, do you? You would still look good on a tub-skirt, I think. Better than me anyways. I've got dad's bowlegs."

"They make you look cool when you walk, so not skirts for you but definitely high heels."

"Really?"

"Sure. Chiara-san says you've got the butt for it, anyways."

There's a silence in which both turn to stare at the ceiling blankly. As if they realized at the same moment the weirdness of the conversation they just had, they slowly glance at each other, eyes bright but strangely aware as they silently decide to erase the last minutes from their memories.

Zaid's the first to look away, shifting a little uncomfortably in his spot, carefully adding some of the distance that got lost between them while they talked. The action most would shrug off as nothing but coincidence makes everything sharper for him, tipsiness slipping off of him like silk. It's then when he realizes Zaid hasn't touch him at all since they met on the bar, which is weird as Zaid always greets him with a kiss on each cheek and a one armed hug in the usual Italian fashion, making a show of it because he knows how Tsuna gets with that kind of friendly contact.

Tsuna tilts his head to the side, making sure his flames still are tightly compressed into a small ball inside him and there's no lingering across his veins. Considering Mamoru only hides his presence and serves as a shield; she does very little to help him in pushing his flames deeper into himself. That work is all his, which is hard enough in a normal day, today's been hellish. Like using a straw to pour thick honey kind of hell, only that for all the foreign flames are dense and sluggish, they are also a tug away to snap happily back in place.

It'll take a while for him to do it without a conscious effort, but he knows he's done a well job so far as to not attract more attention to himself or to bother Zaid's traces or harmonization.

His friend shouldn't shy away from him.

Unless…

"Timoteo-san told you."

There a faint tension leaving his friend frame to be replaced by surprise and Tsuna turns fully to his side to get a better view of him. "… He did."

"Everything?"

Zaid nods, eyes strangely sober as he answers, "About his position in the Mafia? Yes, though I already had a pretty guess about it. The flame business I didn't see coming though, but he explained everything about them and what's happening to me. He gave the choice to deny the bond before it fully formed and became permanent."

The brooding expression from normal returns again, but there's something there that he can't believe he's missed considering his familiarity with that especial flavor of resignation that's half part exasperated and the other half fond. Tsuna's flames may not be at hand for him to get an actual confirmation but it's not hard to know what he's chosen.

"How did you two met anyways?"

His expression lightens, a smile curling his lips. "Nothing great or anything, really. I was playing and winning, as usual, when I saw the bartender offering one of her experiments to lil old Timmy. She thought it was cute to create a drink on the fly and name her creations after the people she flirted with."

"Were they good?"

"Well, if you were lucky you only ran to the bathroom after trying one."

"Er. So you warned him?"

Puffing his chest, Zaid says, "but of course. Timmy was the damsel in distress and I, the amazing Zaid, the knight in shining armor."

Tsuna knows him enough to not believe it. "Something tells me there's more to it."

"… Well, I may have won more than some people accept and needed an excuse to leave."

"Ah. Now it sounds real." Ignoring Zaid's offended huff, Tsuna sighs, letting the silence engulf them for a moment. It's comfortable, but slightly nostalgic. "When will you tell your grandma that you'll go to Sicily?"

Zaid snorts. "Sending me off already? Man, I wouldn't leave uncle Giorgio alone without having found a replacement first, y'know? And you know that would take until the end of winter to train them properly."

"You're avoiding my question," he says around a small smile.

"Hey, now I believe I've the right to avoid it considering you knew everything and didn't mention it at all!"

His expression is set in mock accusation so Tsuna doesn't feel guilty at all. "Omerta, remember? I may not be officially part of the mafia but I still have flames, so."

"Yeah, a Sky too, Tim mentioned it. He also said to take you to the Vongola Christmas Ball that's going to be in two weeks from now, a request from her mother, apparently. She'll be expecting you. Ha! I knew you would pull that face! Don't worry man, he'll get us the tickets so we'll return quickly and in one piece."

Tsuna doesn't bother smothering his scrunched nose. "He'll present you as his Lightning when you don't even know how to use your flames?"

The 'is he out of his mind' is heavily implied and just on the tip of his tongue.

"… It's a masquerade."

He can't help the giggle unbefitting of his age that escapes him at the thought of wearing a hannya mask to that Ball, which is telling of how tipsy he still is. Maybe he can contact Daemon again and ask him if he can get him an original one. He also would need to talk to Mona (Viper?) and talk about how much money he can borrow to buy a suit, or at least something nice enough. He sighs deeply and closes his eyes. An opportunity to talk to Ottava sounds nice. It's something he's wanted to do but him laying low and being a 'no-one' in the Mafia makes it near to impossible to even consider ask for an audience with the current leader of Vongola.

"Nat?" He opens his eyes, looks at his friend, now also on his side facing him. There are no curtains on his bedroom and the dim light is barely enough to distinguish his dark skin and pajamas. He looks tired but for some reason he gets the mental picture of someone ready to place the last piece of a puzzle when he looks at him. Not in the sense that he was incomplete before, but more like in disarray and now… he is not.

"Yes?"

"Will you teach me how to control my flames?"

Tsuna honestly doesn't think he's the best to teach someone when he barely has enough idea what to do with his own flames. There's also the problem that he's not a Lightning, but… maybe they can learn together. He's his friend, after all.

"Sure."

Even in the dark of the night, Zaid's grin is pretty clear. "I'll take it as payment for letting you to stay here, so no need to thank me, man."

"Yeah, su—wait. What? You were the one who said your house was the closest!"

"And you took advantage of my drunken state. Don't worry, I get it. Old habits die hard."

"Damnit. That they were only bed-mates!"

"Uh-huh. Well, if you don't mind me, I'll go to sleep now. I want to be by Chiara's apartment when she does the walk of shame."

"… I don't think there will be shame in that walk. Did you not see the way she was eating that guy's face?"

"Don't worry, there will be when she realizes I took all her make-up and hairbrushes from her bag."

There's a shocked silence.

"Kami, you're suicidal. I think you're confusing shame with anger," he says in a soft tone that doesn't quite hide his amusement. "Can I accompany you?"

"Sure. The more the merrier!"

- x -

In the end they don't get to greet Chiara even though they do see her walking to her apartment. Zaid's lucky Tsuna is there to stop him from calling her because he knows by the disheveled form of her dress and hair that she won't be happy to see them. It's obvious who the culprit behind her state is after all. Zaid may have the attention span of a five years old, but he could always concentrate enough to win any game and pull a prank.

Their morning is still free so Zaid helps him do the shopping he wanted to do the day before for the new apartment. It's faster as Zaid knows the place better than him, but he doesn't think that's enough excuse for him to suffer through Zaid's knowing eyes when he only looks for the biggest beds, clearly intended for more than one person. It costs most of his savings but the bed is comfy and the delivery is free, though only working from Monday to Fridays. Besides, with the warm clothes Renato left before leaving he doesn't need to buy any extra for now.

They still get enough time to go to his new apartment-to-be and inform Ornella-san about the delivery before they need to go running to the bar for their shift. Thing he feel glad to have done as what she tells him is better to know before than latter.

"… So he can move anything until the twenty-two? That's like two weeks away!"

Ornella-san frowns slightly at Zaid raise of tone but his friend doesn't seem to care. "That's the earliest we could get it. The previous owner had already paid half six months in advance and there was a problem with the papers as the family was quite… distraught."

Zaid gives him a look that reminds Tsuna he forgot to mention the situation of his apartment and how he ended with it. "It's not a problem, Ornella-san. I understand."

"Nat, wait. You'll need to renew the contract of your current apartment then, remember?" Now is Tsuna's time to give a confused look to his friend who rolls his eyes and throws his hands in the air. "You pay every fourteen? The dude holding the rent is a dick? He will throw you out and your things before giving you an extra week just because of this?"

Oh.

Crap. Right. He thought he could move out on the twelve so he had two days to move his stuff to the new apartment. Zaid's right, too. He pays as little as he does for his rent thanks to the cheating skills Zaid taught him and the fact that the man likes to bet. If he sniffs the opportunity to throw him out, he'll grab it.

How did he confuse twenty-two with twelve?

"I'm fucked," he murmurs in Japanese.

Zaid doesn't understand what he just said but he still nods. "You can sleep in my apartment until then, if you need man."

… Yeah, no. Tsuna barely got the chance to nod off a couple times all thanks the concentration needed to maintain his flames in place—He really doesn't want to ruin Zaid's harmonization by a tendril of flame that escapes him because he's not been careful enough.

"I don't think that'll be possible," he says softly with a heavy stare that will hopefully get the message across. If the stare doesn't work maybe the dark bags under his eyes will.

They do, but that still means he needs to find a place to stay or at least to move his stuff before he tells the landlord he won't pay anymore.

"Uncle Giorgio has a garage with some space. He'll lend it to you if you explain it to him."

Tsuna nods. "Maybe. Just don't tell him you plan to leave until I can get to move my stuff."

"Deal," Zaid says with a smirk while throwing an apologetic look at Ornella-san who is offering a cup of tea. "Sorry, ma'am but we've to run now if we want to make it up to our shift."

"Oh. You work together then?"

"Yup. I'm the barista while our little Nat here is the one charged to make everything squeaky clean." He winks at her, giving a quick pat to his back. "You'll never regret renting him. He's the most OCD guy I know thanks to all the trash trauma he has."

"I don't have a trash trauma," Tsuna grumbles.

"I remember you taking eons in the shower and always coming out red-skinned for two months. I was the one who helped you clean your other apartment, too.."

With a faint blush, Tsuna grabs the sleeve of Zaid's coat and pulls him towards the exit. "Thanks for letting me know, Ornella-san!"

"Come later this week, maybe I can speed things out!"

With a last wave, they go off. Tsuna is still thinking about where he's going to live next week. He should call Mona to see if he has already won some money. The mist is on a middle of a job in Romania so it'll probably take a while until he receives a call back, but Tsuna will have to wait as he's only got a couple bills left after buying the bed. Maybe… maybe he can pull a Zaid and play some card games to gain some money, with his Intuition the only difficult thing would be search for a place that is not bothered by his age.

Zaid can help him with that though.

Trying to stay positive is hard but it's the only thing he can do now. At least, nothing can go wrong after this. It'd be overkill.

He only realizes after thinking this that he may have jinxed himself, as Life going overkill on him is practically how things usually go for him. He leans his forehead against the closest solid surface and sighs the greatest and deepest sigh he's ever sighed. Zaid, who's been following silently, probably waiting for him to sort out his thoughts, stops to stand beside him, already used to this bouts of resigned moments.

"You just though 'nothing can get worse', right?"

"Yeah," he breaths, feeling his soul seeping out of his body.

"You do know that's the best way to get things—"

"Zaid, shut up."

Chapter Text

Chapter 9

(December 11th, 1982 - Sunday afternoon)

There have been more times than he can count on where Tsuna is actually glad for the Spartan training Reborn put him through. All those times have occurred after he appeared in his life with gunshots and explosions, true. But, and he won't ever admit this out loud, he's found out that there's something in running without feeling one cough away from puking his guts out that makes him honestly content. Most likely is because is in those innocent moments he realizes how far he's come from that no-good student everyone bullied. Just running with a steady breathing, heart barely speeding from its usual tune. It makes a smile slip on his lips, makes him believe one day in the future he'll look back at the problems he's going through and recall all he gained from it, the stronger he got because of it.

And if there's really nothing to gain from the experience, well, at least the pain will be nothing but a faint memory.

He needs that now. Needs to remember that in a couple months' time he'll be playfully whining about the how fate hates him to his friends and how it seemed to decide which days to fuck him over more than usual. Even if he doesn't seem able to do it now.

Gritting his teeth, he slowly lowers his pace as he reaches a park and focuses in his breathing, the beating of his heart and the painful sensation of his frozen face, all while trying to ignore the prickling sensation in his eyes. After all, it really isn't surprising that Giorgio-san fired him. He's young, without a legal guardian or enough documents. He knows it and has known it from the start.

Why does it hurt so much then?

The whole shady people suddenly increasing and then decreasing in numbers has made the police twitchy. Considering how from what he's heard and seen, Italy's trying to forget the attacks that happened the previous decade which caused many deaths, it's all understandable. While they call it terrorism, no one has discarded the Mafia yet.

Besides, having an employee not contracted legally is a quick way to be sent to prison. He should be glad Giorgio-san only considered the option because he couldn't hide it anymore. He should also be glad his job in the hotel is safe from this because he works behind curtains. And it's shady on its own, too. Luxurious and very well-known, but shady nonetheless. He can continue working there and his boss keeps avoiding to pay the extra tax that comes from having one more worker. It's a win-win situation, if one doesn't care the law.

He really should be glad he at least had one job left.

… It still hurts.

The apologetic, sad smile on the usual stern face should have been enough of a hint for what was going to happen. His Intuition rung too, but that's something that's been happening all day and he didn't think and he should have, instead of standing there like a broken doll listening all the—

He covers his mouth and focuses on his shallow breathing once again. His vision is too blurry but there's a bench near and with his free hand—his fumbling, trembling hand—he reaches it. The solid wood is cold under his ungloved hands, but his fingers are already to numb from the weather to flinch away. He sits, sprawling all his weight on it and tilting his head back, looking up at the cloudy sky.

Too much, too sudden. Everything's happening too fast. His body is still sore, his flames tired. The weight of Mamoru around his neck, not comforting enough. He feels like crumbling and won't be surprised if parts of him start slipping off from his hold. The hand still covering his mouth slips away, his muscles protest in pain but he doesn't care as he looks at the puffs of air forming with every exhale.

"I should call Mona," he murmurs to no one.

He doesn't move for long minutes and lets his mind drift. When the stars appear as the darkness comes, Tsuna pulls his battered bag on top of his lap and search for the heavy phone without enthusiasm. It doesn't last more than a couple of seconds. The hard part is actually finding the correct number.

"Money, clothes, Vongola Ball," he recites over and over as he waits for the line to connect.

It doesn't but it doesn't surprise him. Mona's always busy and has said to only ring him and wait for a call back. He can't call Fong either. Or Renato for that matter. Zaid's working and Chiara, too. He doesn't have other close friends. And even if he did, keeping in contact is not immediate and easy like it was in his time.

He lets his head fall to the side until his cheeks touches the cold surface. He sees a familiar light on the next street that becomes clear after he rubs the tears away from his eyes: Daemon's still in the neighborhood.

Going there is tempting if only because it's familiar and he'll be able to talk with someone who knows, but… not now.

He glances around the park and the buildings near. When he's sure no one's looking, he brushes the side of Mamoru in a silent request. Soon, she's soft under his fingers and opening her wide as wide as his hand. He takes the dry phone from her mouth. Unlike the heavy, dark-colored one inside his bag, this one is sleek and orange. The number '27' written in big letters with small imprints of the Vongola emblem inside them, barely distinguishable.

He turns it on with a flick of Sky flame, once again glad that Spanner made them able to recharge with only the phone owner's flame. There's no internet, but a couple apps that shouldn't work still do, like the GPS (which he doesn't understand how) and the one that disturbs camera signals and other stuff in certain range. He has some type of AI in it that also works too. It was meant to be some kind of assistant but can probably hack simple stuff if he wanted to. Not that he would try it. It sounds way too much like Reborn for him to depend on, which was most likely the intention though he doesn't cross sadistic amusement and won't ever.

Since coming to this Tsuna has mostly used it for the music storage and the language app to practice his Italian. A few times, this one included, he uses it to simply watch the photos he's taken of his mom, Reborn, his friends—his family. Everyone is there. Mukuro, Hibari, and even the Varia are there. Though the last one is mostly because Squalo sends them to Yamamoto when he's tired of all the pics his Rain sends him. Some are fun and happy, others, like the ones Ken took with Chrome's phone, not that well focused and downright blurry, but Tsuna could never get himself to erase them.

Nostalgia is always bittersweet but Tsuna is honestly happy when he looks at them.

He's looking at one with mom trying to bathe Lambo and I-pin when he hears gunshots in the distance. They're far away and easy to mistake because of it. Luckily, and he thinks this with sarcasm, Tsuna's so used to hear them he could recognize them in his sleep.

Time to go.

He stands up, puts the phone inside the inside pocket of his coat and gives his face one last rub. He doesn't feel like crying anymore even if the loneliness has grown at seeing photos of what he misses the most and wants to return to.

Five minutes of looking at nothing pass before he nods to himself and starts walking to the direction he came from. He'll probably reach a familiar street soon if he does that. Then he can return his current home, make himself some hot chocolate perhaps.

Now, if only his intuition could understand it. Is not as if he has to get involved with every shooting that happens near him. Besides what he's heard is nothing more of an echo of a gunshot, far enough to easily ignore it and in the completely opposite way of where he wants to go.

Not again, he thinks without the normal resignation as his Intuition continues pounding a staccato in his head. There's something else this time too, something more like anger and impotence, maybe a bit of hysterical desperation too. He wants to cry again, or scream maybe, but when he opens his mouth only a harsh laugh escapes him, because of course the day isn't over. Of course he can't get some peace.

He's Fate toy, after all.

His Intuition rings again, clearly weaker than he's used to but still with the same annoying insistence.

"Shut up," he whispers in Japanese with his fist clenched tightly at his sides. "Just. For today. Please. Just shut up."

It continues and Tsuna wants to scream once again. He ducks his head, hiding his face between his hands. "You're supposed to be my Will, why don't you shut up."

Fingers trail the small of his back and Tsuna immediately turns around to punch whoever is behind him but ends punching air. He looks around but finds no one close. He's still tense, so when he feels a hand pulling his ear, he's ready to attack.

But there's no one.

"Will you take it back?" the air whispers from behind him. "Is this your limit?"

"Daemon, I'm not in the mood," Tsuna spats, feeling his eyes changing their color, searching for the man.

"So you need to be in a 'mood' to act, young Vongola?" There's a sigh full of pity coming from behind him, as if a person was sighing next to his ear, but there's no one there. "You said you weren't going to complain. You were the one who accepted this, the person who agreed. Have you changed your mind so quickly?"

Tsuna opens his mouth to tell him how he's not taking back his words, he just needs a break. That's the only thing he wants at the moment. Just for a day—this tiring day. He wants to say them but nothing comes out.

This time he can see the hand touching the side of his head, sliding around his neck in what would look like a chokehold but it's too loose to be called that. A head leans towards him, not close enough to touch but still enough for him to feel some of his hair against his cheek.

"I'll answer for you, young Vongola. The only reason you're still alive is because your Intuition is still trying to guide you. That means the core that makes you, your Will as you'd call it, still wants to continue this task. If you really didn't want to, I'm sure your Intuition would help you escape. I'm sure you'd be able accomplish it, even."

He takes a shaky breath in. "Why are you really here, Daemon?"

The choke-hold loosens even more turning into what can be something faintly called reassuring. "The Sky Arcobaleno is pregnant. Your time is running out, Tsunayoshi."

With those happy news, he disappears. Tsuna doesn't need to look to know the Ramen shop has disappeared with him too.

He stays standing in the same spot for five more minutes before he sighs and goes where his Intuition is pointing even if it's already too late to intercede whatever was going on. His Intuition is not as sharper as before so he doesn't have a clear path to follow, for the moment is nothing more than a vague direction. He still follows it in a steady pace, not wanting to risk getting lost by running. The sky is getting to dark for that and he doesn't know if he'll be able to return home without his Intuition in top shape.

Just in case, he lingers a second longer whenever he passes a shop, wondering if his Intuition will let him know where he can get a new job or if it's too weak to do it. Even if whatever money Mona can give him will hopefully be enough for nice clothes and a mask, he still needs a new job.

His Intuition is not helpful though. All the hard learned control he got over it is gone for the moment and will only return when his flames stabilize, most likely. At least his Intuition is not catching everything like before so he doesn't know if someone hasn't taken their medicine or if their cousin two cities over is sick and needs help. He doesn't quite understands how his Intuition is able to process every little thing within a certain range he never got to test out, and doesn't want to do it either. He only knows it's large. As in a continent-large. Probably more if he let it take it over and—

He shakes his head as his annoyed steps turn into something more resigned, still slow and tired. He knows he can't never shut his Intuition off even if he's learned how to divert its attention so it's no longer overwhelming. It revels from time to time when there's something that will be really important or it's related with his self-imposed mission, true and one of the reasons he continues walking, already on the less populated alleys. They're not as wide, and the great numbers of balconies makes them look more crowded than they are, but it's all surprisingly silent.

Considering he's taken more than half an hour to reach this place, probably whatever was happening is now over and the people involved have—

He stops and examines the scene happening in front of him. There's some blood on the floor, easily to mistake by water with the lack of any consistent light. He can see a car parked close to the other exit of that particularly dark alleyway. Not that he cares about it or the clear smell of gunpowder and ozone in the air. Not that he can care when there's a man trying to hoist a dead body over his shoulders.

Tsuna blinks a couple of times, his gaze never leaving the man crouched down next to the dead person, a slightly bleeding arm around his shoulders. He sees him lifting his hand, a pen between his fingers hanging loosely as he prods the dead's chest. The man mutters under his breath, his grip on the pen tightening enough for him to write on the notebook he notices resting on his lap.

Is this normal?

The time is different from his own, as are the laws and mannerisms, sure. But, he still doesn't think this is normal.

A quiet sound between an 'um' and a 'huh' escapes past the man's lips from time to time, no actual words to accompany it. He doesn't seem to have noticed his presence and Tsuna wants to take advantage of that and leave, but he doesn't. As if rooted on the spot, he waits for the man to finish whatever he's doing.

Long minutes later, the man finally notices him and only because he was stretching lightly from his uncomfortable position. A small stare down starts in which Tsuna studies him more carefully. It's dark enough to notice the color of his eyes or hair (The hat he's wearing doesn't help any, either), but Tsuna can discern his lack of interest on him pretty quickly.

As soon as it starts, the man's gaze returns down to the coiling body at his side, having deemed him unimportant.

His eyes twitches in annoyance, which is weird. He normally would feel happy, joyful even, to not attract the attention of someone who is clearly into weird stuff. So why does he feel this need to prove the other his worth. Similar to the time he met the Hibari-san of the future and was dismissed as uninteresting, but not quite.

Tsuna doesn't have time to ponder about it, though. The man is now trying to hoist the body up to carry it to who-knows-where. And failing at it, too. The weird machine Tsuna hadn't noticed he's holding is making it hard. It doesn't help that the bag he carries around a shoulder looks really heavy.

Even with all the stress that's been pilling since the beginning of the day, Tsuna wants to help him, he really does. His intuition is even pointing at him to do it. However, he can't forget what exactly is happening here. Not an easy thing to do either. The too real dead man he's holding kind of makes it hard.

His intuition doesn't seem to agree, if the piercing headache is anything to go by, repeating Daemon's words in his mind.

Damn it.

"Do you need some help?" someone says. It takes him a raised eyebrow coming from the man for him to realize he's the one who said it.

Tsuna doesn't breathe as they once again lock gazes. He hopes the man will be suspicious of his motives and say no.

(Even if he really wants him to say yes)

"Sure."

He doesn't sigh only because the body is starting to make him uneasy.

Between the both of them, carrying a dead guy across the street and into a car is terrifyingly easy. It takes them around ten minutes. Minutes they spend in mostly silence if one ignores the faint mumbling in a language he doesn't know coming from the weird man.

Tsuna can't take it anymore. He needs something to distract him from the body he's carrying.

"Um. So what do you need this body for?" he asks when he's done settling the corpse on the back of the car.

"An experiment."

Tsuna nods as if he understands, only half-hearing him. For some reason, his intuition, previously sated with him helping the man, is now pushing the memory of Giorgio-san firing him and his lookout for any jobs in his way here.

Oh, no. Nonono.

He breathes through clenched teeth as he sees the man leaving his bag inside the back of the car, taking his hat out to run a distracted hand through his hair before putting it on again.

It's difficult to tell with the little light around but he's pretty sure it's green hair what he sees. He should be glad the other guy is too distracted to notice his lack of subtlety as he inspects him. He can't really tell the color of his eyes, but that expression and those glasses are way too familiar for him to ignore. He isn't wearing a lab coat and has a faint stubble that doesn't quite hide the sharpness of his jaw, which is unlike the chubbiness he remembers. Still. He's pretty sure the man in front of him is Verde, the Lightening Arcobaleno.

"Damn it," he mumbles in Japanese. The man he's sure is Verde tilts his head towards his direction before deciding to ignore him again, which is not good.

He clears his throat around what he hopes is a nice smile. "Excuse me, you seem to be man who is their own boss. I hope I'm not being too, uh—"

Verde pulls out a paper from the pocket of his coat and shoves it to his direction with a roll of his eyes, annoyed and completely bored for having to do it. "I'm allowed to take the body. I'm a scientist."

Not what he thought he would hear, but—"No, no. I was just wondering if you would like to employ me. I'm looking for a job, you see." The flap of the paper stops and Verde gives him a look as he fidgets. He swallows and adds, "I love science?"

Tsuna doesn't even believe it, of course Verde won't either.

"I don't have time for this," he says, already turning around. Which, no. He can't let it happen. He tries to think of all he knows about the man to find something that would persuade him to at least interact but comes with nothing. He doesn't know him well and has barely interacted with him, Tsuna doesn't think he has anything that can—

"Wait!"

He grabs the door so the other can't close it, while fumbling with his other to search inside his pockets. Verde looks more than annoyed now. His grip around the door's handle is tightening, clearly preparing to close it even if he has to take a couple of his fingers with the action. Before that can happen though, Tsuna is shoving his Vongola phone to his face.

Leaning back, Verde adjust his glasses to get a better view of the phone. His curiosity is clear even as confused as he seems to be as he inspects the object in front of him. He obviously doesn't know what it is so without more prompting, Tsuna presses the only unmistakable bottom on the screen and with that, the phone comes alive.

Verde doesn't show any indication he's startled, he merely leans forward with wide curious eyes. The screen is locked so only numbers can be seen, the second security interface it has. The first being on the home button, which will only let the screen show if it's one of his fingers pressing it. Verde has probably understood the function of the numbers at first glance, but he still touches the screen with his pinky, on top of the number '8', watching with fascination how the number he pressed appears on top. He continues pressing more numbers, alternating from the middle, where the number is, to the edge, experimenting.

After seeing what happens when the correct order is not pressed, he looks up at him.

"Er. It's a phone?"

Giving it one last glance, Verde takes the phone from his hands. Before Tsuna can do anything more than squeak in protest, he's being shoved his phone in the same way he's previously done. "What's the right sequence?"

"Oh. Right." Making sure the other can't see it, Tsuna does as he's been asked to before returning the phone back to Verde. The man hums for a while as inspects the phone, turning one way and then another. Looking at every button, hole, and scratch on it while writing stuff he can't understand on the notebook he took out from who-knows-where.

The wind starts blowing with more strength and Tsuna is suddenly very aware of how he's leaning slightly inside the open door of a car with a dead body on the backseat, on a shady street with no other cars around.

He really doesn't want to interrupt whatever thing Verde is doing, but he's cold and hungry. "Er. Won't that body go bad if it stays there?"

Verde looks distractedly from where he's writing what looks like math to the backseat, as if only remembering what he has on his car. He makes a thoughtful sound before finishing writing a line of numbers. He then moves with surprising grace to the passenger seat and pulls out some keys from a pocket before throwing them to his direction, his intention clear.

"Huh," he mumbles, hands cradling the keys.

Tsuna doesn't point out his age or his lack of license, something tells him the other man will win whatever argument he gives, so with a sigh he takes the keys and sits on the driver seat. He makes sure to attach Verde's seat belt first, as he seems too distracted to do it, before doing the same with his own. He checks all mirrors and with a prayer that hopes driving a car is not that difficult from driving a motorcycle, he turns it on and—

He looks at Verde. "Where are we going?"

"I'll guide you to our destination."

Can you? He wants to ask but is smart enough to not do it. Verde doesn't seem the type of person who likes to be doubted about what he can or can't do. So with a sigh and a slight tremble in his hand, Tsuna starts driving.

Twenty minutes later and way too many close calls, they finally reach their destination. Tsuna is pretty sure Verde has made him go into several circles just to confuse him and will probably get lost if he tries to go back on his own (The lack of light hindered his ability to read the street's names and more). He's pretty sure Verde would have made it even more difficult if he didn't have the dead body on the backseat, but at least he's learned a couple things about him thanks to the trip.

First, Verde can completely immerse himself in something he's studying to the point he doesn't notice they're about to crash or have broken at least ten driving laws.

Second, Verde has a GPS in his head. He doesn't even need to look up, he always knows where he is. And the time, too.

Third, Verde has selective hearing. His brain seems to filter small talk, but lets him known when something important is mentioned. It's creepy.

Finally, and this is something he would've never associated with the scientist he remembers, Verde likes to clap when something really interesting happens and coo at the thing like it's a baby, which is a thing that happened when he discovered his phone could take photos. He's been mumbling something about light and colors and fascinating for the last five minutes.

"We're here," he says dryly. Redundant considering they've been waiting inside the car for one minute and unless this is another trick and the house he can see in front of them is not Verde's then he thinks he may end throttling him. He's annoyed, tired, and hungry. He really needs something to go easy for a change.

"The body's still on the back."

Tsuna wants to say 'well yeah. You put it there' but chooses to look blankly at him. His head then turns to the back where the body is getting colder and tenser before raising an eyebrow.

The other is of course not looking at him and the gestures he does. "Weren't you the one who wanted a job? Move, go on."

"Wait, wha—are you serious?"

Pulling the seat belt out, he opens the door of the car and skips outside, taking his keys with him. "Be quick, assistant."

Tsuna doesn't need to be told twice. After a small battle with his own seat belt, he goes to the back and starts carrying the body, making sure to not breathe through his nose. It's harder with only one person doing the job but despite his willowy frame, Tsuna is stronger than he looks. Soon he's walking through the gates. He doesn't have time to examine the small storage rooms to the side or the large garden that would be called empty if not for the spots filled with weird bushes in certain specific spots.

His Intuition cautions him of not touching anything, which he wasn't planning to do, and to stay away from certain ones. It makes him uneasy, especially when the path leading to the house is thinner that it should be.

"Put him here!" he hears as soon as he enters, coming from downstairs. It takes him a while to reach the stairs but in that time he's been ogling around as is not often one sees a huge living room, furniture of tastefully designs but clearly not that used. The kitchen is also big and probably the size of his own living room but seems even more desolate than the living room. There are a couple of other rooms but they're closed so Tsuna doesn't dwell on them. He has a body to give, after all.

Adjusting the arm around his shoulders, Tsuna steps down the stairs. The closest room is the only with the lights on and sounds of movement coming from it, so he goes there.

And then wishes he hadn't because while Tsuna has grown used to a lot of weird things, only improved by his first months in Italy, and he can shrug off most disgusting smells and sights, he still draws the line to body parts. Especially body parts not attached to their bodies.

He may not have thought this through as he should have to.

"It needs the password again," Verde murmurs from somewhere near his left before pressing the right set of numbers (of course he knows them with only watching him put them once) and realizing the phone still needs Tsuna to do more for it to activate. So he motions him to come forward and Tsuna has to walk around a large glass jar with what he's sure is an arm inside it to see the door he's missed in his horrified surprise where he's leaning on, the phone still in his hands but now clearly with the screen turned off.

"Where do I put the, uh… guy?"

With a wave, Verde motions him to go inside. Tsuna kind of doesn't want to go because horror movies have taught him to not follow the mad scientist ever. His Intuition is also silent so he has to decide on the fly and hope for the best. The view he now has is not reassuring either.

"… Is that an arm inside a jar?"

Who he's now totally convinced is Verde doesn't look up from where he's turning on some weird, huge machine thing. It looks like a cut soda can toppled on the ground with those weird rings around where he thinks the body must be placed. Tsuna looks at Verde but he only gets a phone shoved very close to his face. 

With a hand inserting the right code and the other trying to not let the body fall, Tsuna realizes that his life will always be like this. There's no reason to be upset.

He still looks away and blinks the tears that want to fall until the body is on the weird machine and Tsuna can easily move.

"Can I take a shower?"

Verde nods and with his eyes still locked on the phone he somehow turns on the machine and he pulls out some notebooks at the same time. "First floor, second door to your right."

Taking a deep breath of air, Tsuna tries to subtly center himself with the help of the flames that subconsciously leaks through Verde's form. They're weirdly active and not so surprisingly strong. They're solid and comforting in its strength.

"If you're going to cry do it while bathing. I've not yet studied Japanese so your next job will be traducing all I tell you about." 

Tsuna doesn't slump his shoulders or looks down, his Intuition tells him that will close off whatever bond he needs to form with Verde. He holds his head high and looks right at him. "You can call me Sora, by the way."

Verde's eyes momentarily flick to his face. "Dmitr."

It must be his real name, he thinks.

"Should I call you Boss?"

He tries to ignore the way his Intuition shouts a big 'NO', a continues smiling. 

"I don't care. Weren't you going to shower? Do it quickly. I'll need you soon."

"Ok, then. I'll call you Verde."

He doesn't receive more than a roll of eyes. 

"Creative," he says with clear sarcasm but there isn't any real emotion in the tone. It makes him nervous, specially now that he's aware that he has to form some kind of friendship or bond with him, unlike the other times he met the future Arcobaleno. 

As he goes to the room Verde indicated, he hopes he doesn't have to force anything. He hopes he can form an honest friendship with all the rest of the Arcobaleno he has yet to meet. 

That seems to be how his life seem to be full of, just hopes and stressful decisions with his Intuition as his puppet-master.

- x -

- SKULL-

Skull considers himself a simple guy with simple tastes. Some have asked if the small entourage is enough for him, if he's truly happy with the pitiful pay everyone gets after the shows (his being slightly large thanks to his popularity being one of the reasons they're popular), but it doesn't seem to matter how many times he tries to explain, they don't seem to get it.

He already tried going on a Tour; the pay was more than nice as he got to buy a new bike and hundreds of people chanting his name as he defied physics certainly has its own appeal. The whole trip was nice for his ego, which he openly admits may have always been a bit larger than normal. But, and this is an important 'but', it was too stifling for his liking. The routines, having to follow a schedule, being ordered around from one horde of fans to another and do anything to make it more profiting was awful. His own stubbornness to finish the tour was the only reason he didn't drop it midway with only his clothes on his back and his bike under him.

People don't seem to understand when he says he felt chained as his deal was actually a pretty good one and offered more freedom than most, probably only because the one behind it all was a fan. Saying 'it wasn't enough' sounds kind of a dick thing to say even in his own mind, but it's the truth. Luckily he's good at changing the topic as now everyone calls him Skull and don't ask for his real name. Thing he hasn't used since he was twelve year boy, trying to make a living with only a traveling clown as a friend. But that's not a really interesting story, at least not to him who has been around circus long enough to know how to the show business works.

However, what happened before? He hates that he was the protagonist of it, but he has enough love for good stories to admit his childhood may be book material. He doesn't even know when he should start if he wrote it (Not that he has any writing skills or plans to tell to someone with them, of course). It probably was when he was five and his mother decided to have another kid or maybe it was when he was seven and his first died.

He probably should start with the day he was born and was named Sorrel for the chestnut hair he was born with. Lots of hair like your grandpa, his father used to tell him. Suffice to say, his father was not a creative person, but he was a german who survived the World War II despite his father being Hebrew, so maybe he only named for his grandfather's famous chestnut hair and not his actual name because of fear.

He never got the chance to ask him, so fast-forward five years and he's an older brother. Not the usual older brother, oh no. At age five he had decided he would be the best older brother of the whole world. Pretty ambitious, but in his defense his little brother was a cute little thing. Or that's what he remembers as two years later he died for the first time and everything got complicated.

If he had died in a quiet place, far away from people, it would have been fine. Well, mostly fine but still fine. But no, he had to die on a park after falling from the largest tree there was on Sunday midday. And only because his footing failed him.

"You're hitting your face," a voice tells him from his right. He doesn't need to turn to know it's Ethan.

"I know," he says but doesn't stop hitting his forehead with the helmet. "I'm thinking."

"Your usual monologue?"

He doesn't protest as he knows nothing will change his mind. 'I'm just thinking' doesn't seem to work with them, so he only nods.

He feels his stare five more seconds before _ stands up. "I'll go for a bite. Have fun."

With him gone, he places the helmet on his lap and looks around. No one is staring at him, which he doesn't know if it's good or not. Well, nothing he can do about it. Remembering his first death always makes him want to punch something, thing that has only increased the rumors about his quirkiness.

Still. It was so stupid. And obvious. There simple wasn't a way to shrug it off as just an accident with the way his body fell in an horrific way from such height and her mother cried.

The fact his hair and eyes gained a purple hint afterwards didn't help with covering things up either.

Knowing all that, he shouldn't have put such fuss when his parents told him they were moving out, but he was a kid. He didn't get the worried gazes constantly exchanged by them or why everyone in his family was hurried to move them out of France.

He, with his simple child mind, thought they didn't want him. He knew it was weird to wake up fine from the injury he suffered, her mother explained him, but he didn't get it.

He understood better after the second time he died. He fell from the stairs, funnily enough. Or maybe not funny. His parents certainly didn't consider it that way when they called the doctors. Not that he could blame them as he heard his neck bend in such a way, everyone thought he was already a lost cause.

Until he woke up, his head entirely covered by purple hair.

His name never sounded more than a joke than the couple days after the miracle was declared and his parents were preparing to move out again. The only difference was that this time they weren't quick enough.

In two months he was going to be nine, that he remembers clearly as his brother's birthday was the month before and spring was almost over. The change was not really subtle with the heat increasing and the sun turning way too annoying, but… is one of the last things he remembers of that little house, of his family.

He remembers his name, Sorell, the ironic name for a purple haired person. He doesn't remembers theirs, his parent's names. They were always mom and dad to him. Jules, his brother's name was a different matter as he was supposed to be the best big brother in the world.

Not that is true. He doesn't even remember their faces.

"You're brooding now."

He doesn't look up. He knows his eyes are tearing up enough to be noticeable. Ethan probably knows this, he always knows so he doesn't even say anything when he puts the helmet on. Maybe they can pretend it's because he's cold and too lazy to go for a knit hat.

He stands up and walks towards the trees near. "I'll go for a piss," he explains unnecessarily.

"The food will be ready in half an hour."

Skull hums with a nod and continues walking until trees surround him and he can't hear the murmur of the people and he can pretend he's alone, which considering his previous experiences and the fact he received a suspicious card and ring only a week ago is not maybe a good idea.

The way the clearing he found himself in seems to be getting colder only seems to make it clearer.

I probably should go, he thinks, but the weird chill running down his spine doesn't seem to agree with him.

And that's when the weird black colored flames appear around him from thin air.

They're terrifying and oh so familiar.

He's always been afraid of his own purple flames, but he can help but feel some comfort in the way they easily come to him at his call.

Chapter Text

Chapter 10

(December 12nd, 1982)

Assistant, as Verde calls him, he's learnt is just a glorifying way to say slave, as that's what Tsuna feels he is at the moment. With encyclopedias sprawled on his left and a notebook on his right, back aching from being in the same position for so long and fingers painfully tense from continued writing. There's an old computer at the back of the table, but it's not turned on and it won't be until he finishes. His phone is next to the keyboard, his own encyclopedia and dictionary apps open for him to read and compare with the books Verde gave him. His first work being to search for the words on his phone not found on the books and write the definition down in an attempt to discover differences between… well.

He only knows he's not looking forward to finish this job since he knows Verde will then ask to organize the information afterwards by typing all on the computer.

Another thing he doesn't know whether to feel glad or not is that Verde remembered that tests on bodies worked better when they were fresh. On one hand, he got his phone back and something to do that didn't include touching dead people. On the other, he's ninety percent sure Verde knows he's from the future and has already made plans for a way to milk all the information he can from him if his current job is anything to go by.

It's weird. No one has ever told him to keep it a secret; he just did it for the sake of caution and because no one would believe him. Also, he's seen enough movies to know how wrong it can go. He doesn't know if every action he takes can destroy his future timeline or if his little time-traveling trip has always meant to happen and he's just following some sort of script. Not that it matters, he's paranoid enough to not make big waves. Though most time it's easier said than done. His intuition has already led him into Vongola's clutches and half of the future Arcobaleno's. Ottavia is the only one who knows of him being from the future. With everything going on, he's a little unsure if he should continue walking on eggshells around everyone or just throw caution through the window and do everything in his power to fix things.

The latter option is appealing as saving the Arcobaleno is what he's here for, but… the future. If he prevents the curse from happening, Reborn may not be the one to end as his tutor. The Byakugan fiasco probably wouldn't happen but the same could be said for every good thing he achieved and the friends he gained.

Can he do that?

He came here because there was a chance to help his friends from being the new Arcobaleno and help the arcobaleno themselves, but Tsuna is not one to think things through. When Kawahira-san told him of a way there wasn't time to think. He was the only one capable to do it, Kawahira-san said, with the Vongola Rings connection to the past and him being a Sky… Only No-Good Tsuna could do it.

No one was happy to hear it, there were protests, bullets and chaos. Tsuna didn't care. He saw a clear option and took it. Kawahira must have seen the determination in his eyes because he opened the portal and before more could be said, Tsuna jumped.

Even with the months that have passed, he still remembers the pain he felt after going through that portal, he remembers the feeling of falling in multiple directions at the same time, everything becoming lost in a frenzy of motion and pure chaos, gut-wrenching pulls that threw all concept of gravity through the window. Then, a second later, gravity seemed to made up its mind to point in a single direction again and, as if there was a small ring the size of his finger he needed to go through, his body stretched, thin as a yarn, pulling and pulling until his bones felt like dust and his skin like goo.

His first reaction was to scream, but it came in too late. Everything was over in one next moment. The next, he simply came to the realization that he was sprawled out on his stomach with moist grass touching his cheek. Pins and needles ran across his body as he stayed in that position across the ground, just trying to breath. There was the distinctive smell of the sea close by, the sounds of boats and people going through their day to day. He couldn't understand what they were speaking about, too tired to process it, but he knew it was Japanese. He wanted to scream for help, for someone to see him through the tall grass, but his mind was sluggish and soon it didn't matter as it went dark and everything got less noisy, then totally quiet. No one was around to hear him say his first words, more of an exhalation, soft and tired. It passed a day and he still couldn't move, nor talk—no one noticed him.

He slept for days, his skin now too tight and his flames chaotic. He was hungry.

Then long fingers were running across his hair. They were gentle but he could detect some Mist flames in them, studying.

"You're not supposed to be here, are you?" the man murmured in the scratchy voice of those who talk after long with doing without it.

Where am I? he thought and as if he had heard him, the man answered, "You're in Onomichi."

"Wo—wonomichi?" he breathed out, the name familiar.

"Onomichi. In Hiroshima, Japan. Not that it matters, the important thing to know is what are you doing here?" He grabbed his hand, the one with the Vongola rings on it. "And with these?"

Tsuna tried to move his hand away, but he couldn't. His fingers twitched and no more.

"I'm not surprised you're attached. Do you know they're the only thing keeping you alive?"

He didn't know and he didn't care.

"There aren't supposed to exist two. Though it clearly chose you; I haven't seen this version in long time." He left his hand to cradle his head, still gentle. He turned it until Tsuna could see him. "Do you know me, little anomaly?"

His eyes widened. Kneeled in front of him was the man with the Iron Hat, Kawahira-san. He didn't have his glasses and was wearing that strange suit, but it was him, he knew.

"I guess you do. Now the question is what I should do with you?"

He opened his mouth, wanting explanations or to explain, he didn't know. What it came out was, "My f—friends… Curse. Arc—baleno."

"Hm. It seems you can't communicate. It's no problem, don't fret." Then the hand came again, covered in indigo flames. "I'll get all the answers from you and then decide what it must be done."

Luckily, it didn't hurt that much. Or maybe it did and he didn't notice thanks to pain still lingering after the little trip he took. Kawahira-san read his mind or something. He knew because it was obvious as he didn't ask anything from him about his reasons to be there, he didn't answer his questions, he got a bit cryptic mostly. He just took his mask off and told him how he knew a way he could live without the Vongola ring. Apparently, while the Vongola ring was keeping him alive, it was also causing him the pain. With their job already done, it didn't know what to do. It grew more confused when it felt the other Vongola rings as two can't exist for too long without the balance of Earth disrupting.

So it needed to be sealed. However, to keep his body from reality trying to implode him, he needed something else to keep him in this time. Something that was a fixed point in time.

Like the Arcobaleno curse.

So he took it away from him and sealed it. Then, seeing as his body started burning from the inside, he gave him the Sky pacifier. It cursed him for a while but it kept him alive. However, how the Sky pacifier can't be active without the others, he got a pacifier mark on his hand to tap off some of the power going through the pacifier, which was really painful.

Then Kawahira-san decided he knew enough to survive and threw him off on Palermo, Italy, saying something about needing to make some plans and how Tsuna had his own mission to accomplish that he couldn't help with.

A kid being thrown in the middle a city he barely knew the language of, with a power he couldn't yet control.

He may hold a grudge for it.

From unable to move from pain to being burned from inside to being drunk on Sky flames too powerful for his tiny body. All in two weeks. So halfway delirious with too much flames, he started his traveling across Palermo with only a handful of money in his pocket (courtesy of Kawahira-san) and a not-so-decent Italian with a Japanese accent.

It's a wonder he survived, actually. Those first days were Hell and while Kawahira-san explained some things, he didn't answer everything he worried about. At the time it didn't seem important with all the problems he had, but now that he's able to think things calmly, well… He's worried.

'Will I be able to return to the future?' is one question he constantly asks himself and couldn't voice before, followed by 'can I change the future, my future?' and 'should I?'

Before, the answers were clearer. The jars Talbot created couldn't work because the Arcobaleno weren't harmonized with Yuni. The only option available was to curse another seven people who were harmonized and then break the cure instantly. It would leave those with a baby body and the need to regrown, which wasn't too bad, but it would kill the current Arcobaleno and Tsuna couldn't let it happen. He was going to search for a cure, as Kawahira-san said only one could be found in this time, and then he would return to the future with the mystery cure and everything would be fine.

However, now that he knows Fong, Renato, Verde and Viper—things are different. Thinking of them getting cursed makes his stomach twist, especially knowing how much they will suffer from it.

Again, the question is if he can do that. If he can turn off his heart and just throw them knowingly to the wolves.

(He doesn't think he can. And that scares him)

"What am I doing?" he whispers to himself, looking down at the purple pen between his fingers. He stares it for a long while, barely blinking. It's not until he hears a loud thud coming from downstairs that he decides to stand up. With the way his thoughts are going, he probably needs to move around, get some fresh air.

A look to his phone lets him know it's late. Really late. And he hasn't even eaten dinner.

He should go his apartment, with its familiar walls and familiar bed, a bit too cold at the moment but still his.

With a sudden energy that even surprises him, he closes the notebook and organizes the books he's been working with. Soon enough he's going downstairs, admiring the clean white walls and its simple decoration as he tries to come up with the words he's going to use when he tells Verde he needs to leave. A lengthy explanation with questions about his new work and when he has to come back is what he should do, but the short 'It's late. See you tomorrow' is tempting.

His tiredness takes the decision from him so questions will have to wait for tomorrow afternoon. He has his day job to think, too.

He reaches the room all the noise is coming from quicker than he wishes. Verde is still working in the same spot he left him, pressing buttons on something reassembling an old computer with his right hand while he writes on a notebook with his left at the same time. He barely glances up at him but that action is enough to let Tsuna know he now has part of his attention. It's a not a memorable action but it's still one that reminds him the one in front of him will be an Arcobaleno, one of the strongest Seven.

And one of the people he, No-Good Tsuna, has to doom. Or safe.

Why do you give me your back? Can't you see I am not someone to trust? Can you see how I've your destiny in my hands?

His grip tightens once. The conversation he planned on his way here is gone. He wants to stay and help him more. Do more for the guilt to ease into nothing.

"Have you eaten something?" The annoyed look he gets tells him what he thinks about wasting time in that way with stupid questions. "Then I'll make something for the both of us. We can eat and maybe get some sleep and—Eh, what with that face? You do sleep, right?"

Verde sighs and stops writing on the notebook. "I do. I can last another sixteen hours without it, however."

"What? How long do you stay awake then?"

"Thirty six hours straight without side-effects," he says with pride.

"That's—That's not healthy, at all!"

"I know my limits, assistant." He throws him a dubious look. "I'm not unreasonable, though. You can use the guest room upstairs and sleep. I'll require you to assist me with the cleaning of the leftovers of my current experiment. Then you'll continue your current job."

"Okay, I'll do it, but…" He swallows but doesn't back off. "But I've a job on the mornings until noon. It's on a Hotel, cleaning."

Verde taps his fingers impatiently. "Which Hotel?"

"Um. Il David?"

He really doesn't like the way Verde perks up. It fills him with dread.

"You know it?" he says, though it's not a question.

"The one on Garibaldi?"

"… Yes."

"Perfect!" Tsuna almost jumps when he claps his hands, but he holds it. "I'll need a list with the name of all the—"

"Yeah, I don't think I can do that." A look shuts him up, reminding him of all Verde's capable of. "On the other hand, I never tried, so."

"Good." He points to a box near his feet full of weird implements and a thin pile of papers, all with handwritten notes done in a scratchy scrawl that makes it difficult to read. "But first take this to the office upstairs and bring a black plastic bag from the kitchen. It's inside the red cupboard to your right. I'm done with the body."

Tsuna nods, leaning down to grab the box before he even finishes speaking. He's already up and turning when what he says catches with him. He stops and gives the body he's been pointedly ignoring a nervous look.

"You're done with the body? Will I be the one to, um, deal with it?"

"You only need to take it to the front door. The police will be coming in the morning to take it."

It doesn't make him feel any better to know the police is somehow involved with… whatever this is and approves, apparently. He glances down to the notes inside the box, trying to understand their meaning.

"I know I didn't ask before but… what is exactly what you needed the body for?"

"It's not as if you would understand." Glad his lack of intelligence is something they early agreed on. "Though taking in consideration your circumstances… Does Dying Will flames mean something to you?"

He doesn't visibly start, though he may as well done it with the way Verde smiles at him. Creepy intense eyes look at him with glee.

"You do? Is it a common thing in—No, wait. It can't be. The mafia has known about it for long enough to simply reveal it unless something drastic has happened in the future or you are from a further time than I thought."

"Future? I'm not—I mean, I don't know what you're talking about." Verde raises an unimpressed eyebrow. He would have freaked out more if it hadn't been him the one with the great idea of showing a clearly advanced phone to a genius. He sighs. "It's not common. I'm… Well, I learned about it because this hitman—"

"You're mafia then."

"I'm not! I just can't seem to escape from it and my life keeps getting involved with—" Verde ignores his weak protests to grab the sides of his head and tilt it until he can see him better in the light. He tilts it again before letting him go to grab a weird looking machine from the table next to him.

Tsuna understandably takes a step back, his eyes flickering to the dead body. "What are you doing?"

"I want to check your temperature."

"That doesn't look like a thermometer. At all."

"Of course it doesn't," he says, not giving more explanation as he takes a step forward. "This tip will go to your ear and—"

"Wasn't that inside a dead body? Is it safe?" Verde lowers the thing, a thoughtful expression in his face. Tsuna grabs that small sign of hesitation with both hands, like a starved man, and quickly starts talking. "I—I could explain you all I know about them. The mafia has kept his secrets well-guarded so I'm sure you need me alive. I can help you. Just… take your weird devices away from me."

Verde's clearly getting irritated, but at least he hasn't moved closer and is clearly considering his words. "I wouldn't kill you."

Tsuna doesn't really believe him. He won't antagonize him further though. "Um. If you don't mind me asking, how do you even know about it? Are—Are you part of the mafia?"

He doesn't think because the supposed involvement of the police, but… Is he?

"Who knows? Now tell me, what flame do you possess?"

It's with great uncertainty that Tsuna lifts up a hand and makes a tiny orange flame appear. It flicks constantly as if there was wind blowing near, but he's not surprised by the syrup-like quality his flames seem to have obtained. He's taken the arcobaleno cursed form for a while, after all.

"I've never encountered this color," Verde mutters, eyes once again alight with something unholy. "I've theorized one stabilizing flame was needed as it would also explain the way most famiglie are formed with certain individuals at their epicenter." He leaves the weird thermometer on the table to move both hands up, lighting them up with green flames as they approach his own. He blinks in surprise but doesn't move away as he studies the reaction between flames. It feels oddly intimate, but thankfully not in the way Harmonization feels. It's a little more as if they were merely standing naked, inches apart.

Awkward but bearable.

It still makes him unable to look at him without blushing.

He almost sags in relief when Verde steps away, a large grin on his face. It would have make him look younger, if not for the deep bags under his eyes and the scruffy beard across his cheeks.

"I think you'll be awake a little longer today."

Tsuna doesn't sigh. He's not that surprised.

"Can we eat something first?" he asks, his eyes moving to the clock hanging on the wall, happily informing him that his shift starts in six hours.

- x -

(December 14th, 1982 – early morning)

The morning is slow and tiring. Or maybe that's just him. His work in the hotel has always been repetitive and a bit dull but he never really understood how boring it was until he only had three hours of sleep in his system. The beds of the rooms he cleaned look each more inviting with the passing of time. And while he really wants his shift to be over, he dreads it at the same time as he has to go back to the bar to clear things up with Giorgio-san.

He kind of ran away the day before.

He instinctively does things slower, not that it changes anything. The hours don't get longer and soon enough, like a weird dream, he's standing in front of familiar doors. He takes a peek in and… everything is the same. He doesn't know why he expected it to change after a day, but he had. Should he feel disappointed or not?

It doesn't matter.

With a deep breath, he walks in, unsurprised at how physically painful is to return. His throat is tight again, his eyes burn and he can't help it. Not when the aroma of the coffee is strong in the air, mixed with the faint smoke of cigarettes. The tables are on the same position he used to help set and the bottles of alcohol, organized by color on the wall, give that cheerful vibe. The room is homely warm, a perfect contrast of the chilly outside.

It's nice and nostalgic.

"A coffee, please," he says without a tremor in his voice.

Chiara looks up so fast from the cup she's cleaning, his own neck hurts in sympathy. "Natsu? I thought…" She lowers the cup down and gives her a serious look as she lowers her tone to whisper, "Are you okay? I heard what happened yesterday."

He shrugs, it's a pathetic little thing. "I knew it could happen any time, especially with how things were going. I wasn't that surprised, really."

"That's not what I asked, silly." She reaches his shoulder from across the desk to give him a gentle squeeze. "Are you okay?"

He looks down, not answering. And that's perhaps enough to tell how things really are going. The desk's wood is a rich brown against his fingers, old but still shiny. He hears her sigh, the sound weirdly loud amongst the conversation going on around them.

"I'll be fine," he says and knows it's true even if currently doesn't feel like it.

"I know you'll be, Natsu." She taps her fingers once on the table, a nervous habit of hers. "The boss said you can still get your stuff to his garage. He left a key in case you need it done quickly, but you know Antonio's free dray is tomorrow and he has a car. I'm sure he'll love to help you out."

"I'll talk to him then. Is he here?" She nods. "Okay. I don't have much so it'll probably take one trip."

"That's the attitude! Oh, and before I forget." She leans closer into his space, her voice lowering. "The boss isn´t here right now but he left your last pay… You kind of ran off before he got to give it to you."

Tsuna lets his forehead fall against the table. It's harder to do than it had been a year ago thanks to his last grown spurt. "Ugh. I'm so embarrassed."

"Don't be. We all get it, don't worry." She only lets him dwell on his own misery for the five seconds it takes her to put the small envelope with his money next to the table. She then puts another one, bigger and fuller. He blinks blankly at it before directing his questioning gaze to Chiara. "This came to us on the mail. Your name is on a corner so we didn't open it."

"Oh." He stands straight and inspects it. He only has to turn it around to know who send it.

"Yeah, the 'from Mona' was a big giveaway, too. Weird she didn't write her last name."

Tsuna doesn't think Viper is this fast at answering a call, so it must be something she send before he called. He wants to open it but is wise enough not to do it.

"Thanks, Chiara." He looks up at her as he puts both envelopes inside his trusty bag, a thoughtful frown on his face. "Can I use the phone?"

"Sure." She nods to the door that leads to the little breakroom they have, a small space where they change and eat, barely large enough for two people to fit. He gives her a last wave but a person approaches the counter so he's not sure if she sees him.

Asking Verde for a day off when he's been working for him less than a week is not something he wants to attempt. Is not fear what he feels towards him, it's merely healthy caution. The Verde he just met is an aloof kind of person, like his future self was. However, unlike his cursed self, this one doesn't have that tint of madness, that feeling of 'I will do anything in the name of science' that terrified him. This Verde—he has some trouble calling him Dimtr—is a less jaded person. He has little morals, yes, but that doesn't mean he doesn't follow a code.

That still doesn't mean he will ask him for a day off. Besides, he doesn't have his number. So with little time to work with, he calls the hotel and explains his problem to his boss, who is understanding if not a little too busy to hear it all. He obtains his morning off but has no time to celebrate as he needs to go to the back and ask Antonio-san if they can meet tomorrow. Luckily, he accepts.

- x –

When he goes to Verde's house, he's a little late though the other doesn't seem to have noticed. He asks more questions about flames, writing all he says on a little notebook. Tsuna is not an expert but his lack of knowledge doesn't seem to turn Verde off. He's interested in the rings he mentioned that can be used as conduits and the role a Sky flame has with other flames.

That takes them about two hours with all and the demonstrations he does for him. He's promised to not use him in weird experiments but that doesn't mean there will not be experiments at all.

(At least nothing weird is used on him)

He then returns to his previous work with the dictionaries and encyclopedias. It's tedious and boring so it isn't surprising he falls asleep again in the middle of it. It's not that late when he wakes up so he cooks something quick. There's not much left in the refrigerator but sandwiches always fill up a hungry stomach. He leaves them on a plate, on top of the table with less papers on it.

He hopes Verde eats it. He's really thin.

"If these are still here for when I come back, I'll not let you do any more experiments on my flames for at least a week!"

He receives a grumble in response but he thinks it's enough.

With a nod and a quick 'see you later', he's goes to buy grocery.

Something tells him today he's also going to sleep mid-work and sleep here in the end. At least Verde doesn't seem annoyed by this and he can't help but think if he can make it work for the week he needs until he receives the new apartment.

He's officially homeless, after all.

- x –

(December 15th, 1982 – early morning)

It's not until he's finishing packing half of his things that he remembers the envelope Chiara gave him. Both envelopes are still on his bag, which he carries always with him so with a quick look to make sure they're there he open the shotgun door and seats.

Antonio turns on the car and barely gives him a glance when he sees him searching in his bag.

"Is that a cellphone I see? Nice, kid."

"Uhm? Oh, yeah. I'm working with a friend and he gave it to me to call him and stuff."

"… That's quite a friend."

Tsuna scratches a cheek while taking the envelope. "Yeah, I know."

While Antonio-san knows Mona, he still thinks of her as that poor girl with the sob story and not the cunning Mist they are.

He opens the envelope.

"Are those newspapers of the stock market?"

Looking through the multiple newspaper of different countries he can't help but agree.

Deep inside there is a time and day he can call Mona, followed by a number.

"Let's just go and put all of the stuff in the box."

"You're the boss, kid. Though I would like to take a look at those papers some time."

Right, Antonio-san is into the stock market, too.

"Sure. You can read it while I putt all the stuff in place."

Antonio-san raises an eyebrow. "What are you talking, kid? I'll help you with this."

"I'm stronger than I look, Antonio-san."

"Don't care. I'll help you out. I also want to see the box that they gave you. How big it is and if it'll fit all. You're lucky that the raining season is over now because your stuff could have gotten wet."

"It's not big but from what I've seen it can fit all my stuff. Not that I've a lot," he murmurs the last, remembering most of the stuff on his apartment is from the old lady who lived there. They would have to contract someone to throw the stuff away anyways, so they told him he could keep the stuff if he wanted. Which came as a blessing.

"Yeah, true. Call me when you can start fixing the apartment and I'll help you with the moving."

"Thanks, Antonio-san. Though the biggest thing is the table and Zaid already told me he would help me out."

"Doesn't matter, kid. At least I can help you move the things from the box to your apartment."

That makes him smile. It's good to know he has gained friend even with how bad all seemed at the beginning.

.

(December 17th – Friday)

This year has been a constant reminder of why Renato doesn't like to work using Mafia Land's network. He'll always appreciate the 'Hitman's Hall' as it was the place where he received his first contracts when he was nothing more than a no-name hitman with only the security blanket that it is Mafia Land's neutrality to fall back.

Still. Sometimes he can't help but hate Mafia Land's lacking information requirement. That added with their policy of accepting all contracts can makes things troublesome really fast. He's one to easily concede that he likes Mafia bars as the gossip is always quick to get. However, trying to use it as his only source to get some specific information is a completely different thing. He'd use his own contacts, but he wants to keep a low profile now with the Second Mafia War going on. After all, a powerful freelance like him can't be seen favoring one side over the other.

He has enough attempts to his life as it is. And they lost their appeal after their fifteen try. Now, they're just plain annoying.

But what can he do but play detective? He's already accepted the contracts. And while he admits in the confines of his mind, he shouldn't have just given a city's name and a difficulty of above medium as his only prerequisites, he's not above of taking his annoyance on whoever looking at him the wrong way.

He also kind of regrets choosing Spain without having taking the political underworld background into account, even if he needed to be there because the chance of him meeting an important source of information about Ozora's abilities. Adding the fact that since Italy won the World's Cup many people are more than a little sore with Italians, a hit and a kneecapping with a chance to annoy soccer fans sounded like a vacation at the time.

However, the supposedly difficult hit, which consisted in killing an old man so his son could succeed him, was only a bit tricky and that's mostly because he had to enter a secured place filled to the brim with guards and make it look like an accident. A disappointment, really. Not really that hard to accomplish if one knows how to plan and is stealthy enough, something he excels at.

The kneecapping with a medium level of difficulty ended with him running away from an explosion and his mark with first degree burns. All because the document with the details forgot to mention his target was a paranoid Sun flame user bastard and had had three different people on his tail already attempting to intimidate him.

He would have liked very much to kill the moron but he was required to leave him alive. Alas, not all dreams can become true. He had to settle for activating the cellular death until both of his legs were suffering from necrosis. It didn't lift his mood and the temptation to grab the orb Ozora gave him, which is still inside his suitcase and has not been touched since he's put it there, has only grown, especially after a week and a half surrounded by incompetence. But this is supposed to be a time away from the little Sky and he's determined to complete it.

He's actually kind of relieved he doesn't have any of the withdrawal symptoms he thought he would suffer of. Even if he sometimes does find himself staring blankly into space, doing nothing more than enjoying the calmness in his flames. He begrudgingly admits missing Ozora's presence, , which is strange if one considers not even three months back he couldn't stand more than two hours at his side.

However, he has firsthand experience in trying to be forced into harmonization by other Skies (The downsides of being known as a Strong Sun), so he knows the little Sky hasn't been doing that. Also, he's heard of many instances in which Skies and Elements simply hit it off right away and, instead of taking them the usual years, they harmonize a couple weeks after they meet—The Mist Guardian of the Vongola heir, a thirteen years old boy, is a clear example of the later.

… And he really doesn't like where his thoughts are going and what they speak of his future.

With an irritated sigh, he stands up and grabs his jacket and fedora from the perch next to the door.

At least the bars in Spain have a good stock. After the week he's had, he really needs a drink.

Not even a glass later, he's cursing Mafia Land's informants.

Apparently, the son of the old man he was send to kill had also another hitman behind him. It was a messy death from what he's hearing, most likely their own famiglia was behind it and wanted to blame it all on the feud he had with a rival famiglia or some idiotic excuse like that. The thing is, having both of them dead has changed the status quo too abruptly for any decent Spanish Mafioso to deal with it in an efficient manner.

He loves mind games, but god does he hate politics. Even if he's more than capable to deal with them and they do offer a great amount of amusement when he's the one pulling the strings.

Nonetheless, he hates incompetency the most if there's no way for him to shape the idiots in place. Or just shoot them.

"You look like you're going to shot someone any second now."

"Dear Mafer," Renato starts, letting his lips curl into a pleasant smile as he tilts his head to the side. "I couldn't leave without having said hi now, could I?"

"Charming as always, um?"

"Of course." He motions the seat next to him. "Mind joining me or do you've another meeting?"

He receives a rolls of eyes, but there's an amused smile on her red lips as she sits.

"I'm done for the moment," she says, throwing a glance over her shoulder where three men and a woman are already leaving the building, making the feathers attached to her long hair bounce with the movement.

"Your bodyguard?"

"Saying bye to a friend." She throws him a mock glare. "And don't call her that. She's just a bit protective."

"A bit?" he says, motioning the bartender to bring another glass, which is quick to come. "She kept shocking me the last time we were together."

"And she really doesn't like you."

"I wonder why."

"Really? I clearly remember you throwing my panties at her face that first time."

"An honest accident. That's what she gets from going inside a room without knocking."

That particular comments gets him a nice laugh with her head thrown back, her dark hair exposing a perfect lean neck. Renato can't help but lean closer and tangle a finger to peculiar strand out of place. Her eyes glint in amusement as she sips her glass, but for some reason Renato feels certain unease instead of the usual lustful playfulness. He ignores it.

"I must be really lucky to find you here. You usually prefer staying in the middle of Europe."

"I could say the same about you, you know."

"Well, Spain is becoming something of a tourist point for us, Italians."

"For the ones who are into soccer, sure. But I don't peg you as someone's into tame sports or visiting a country just because a sport."

"And miss the chance to make others angry just by realizing my nationality?"

She smirks. "That explains why I can hear your accent, then. I was wondering."

Renato answers with one smirk of his own before refilling his glass. "I'm done with a job, actually. I'll be here for a couple days more. The annoying others was part of the reason I'm here, after all."

"That does sound like the Reborn I know." She twirls her glass, her Sky flames testing the drink for any poisons, before taking a sip. "I just got a bit nostalgic myself and needed to hear Spanish for a while. Their accent might be a little funny, but Spain is still the closest I can get."

"Does that mean you'll be busy reminiscing?"

"I'm always busy," she says, the fingers of her free hand trailing the side of his jaw. "Doesn't mean I'll opposed to have some fun, you know that."

Flame touching is nothing uncommon among flame users. Usually used in sex, with people one's intimate with, or when trying to flame court another. He's used to receive it and has used it himself in others many times. Mafer is simply one of his frequent bedpartners he enjoys this exchanges more thanks to her Sky nature.

However, when the tip of her finger reaches his chin and she lets out a small flame pulse, Renato can't help but jerk back, the playful tone of their conversation dissipating in a second. He can see his eyes tinted yellow in the reflection of her brown gaze and that surprises more than anything else.

He's still quick to pull out his gun and aim it to the side where the thin sword stops, the lips of the woman holding it curled into a faint snarl.

"Everything's fine, Kyra. It was just an accident."

Knowing it was his fault for react so violently, he's the one lowering his weapon first. None of them is foolish to think he's lowered his guard, but the gesture seems to be enough for Kyra to turn back her Urumi into its flexible form and stand back.

"My apologies, Mafer." He nods at her Lightning's direction. "Kyra."

"No, no. It's okay."

"Is not okay," her Lighting murmurs, throwing him a dirty look. She presses her palm on Mafer's shoulder in reassurance lightly before going to where he can see her Sun, a cheerful blind man whose passive-aggressiveness surpasses Fong's, is hovering nearby. Mafer waves at them both before looking back at him.

"Okay, she's kind of right. I should have known you were trying to Harmonize with a Sky, but you should have mentioned it first, too."

Instead of denying it and shooting something as he wants to do, he maintains his posture loose and relaxed, not showing any sign of discomfort or surprise. "I didn't know other Skies could detect it at this level. I haven't harmonized yet."

She seems amused at his blatant fishing, but doesn't seem aware he didn't know there was a connection in the first place so it's his win.

"I admit is not noticeable, but your flames are calmer than a normal person would be. Not like a Guardian's, but there's still a difference in comparison of others. They're starting to follow a certain… frequency."

A prickling sensation forms on the back of his neck as he slowly nods. "Your flames are set in another one. That's why when they touched mine I reacted so badly. Interesting."

"Don't worry it'll only happen with other Skies. When you're fully bonded it shouldn't be a problem anymore." She lets out a soft sigh and finishes the last bit of her glass. "That means no fun for us."

That is a pity. He still has two more days before he has to take his plane though, and finding someone to get laid has never been a problem, so it doesn't really bother him.

He tips his fedora up a notch. "Enjoying your company is enough fun for me, cara. I'm saddened you don't think the same though."

"You make it sound as if I only want you for your body." At his teasing grin, she laughs. "Okay, then. I've got an hour before I need to go to a meeting so let's catch up?"

"I'd love to. Shall we move to a more quiet location first?"

She gives him a smile before looking back to where Kyra is sitting a couple seats away and making some signs with her hands. Is not one he knows of, but he can guess what's been said thanks to the glare he receives by one angry Lighting. At least her Sun, one man he doesn't know the name of, seems totally okay with spending some more time in a bar.

"Such a charmer," he murmurs, but stands up when Mafer does it. Lightly pressing a hand to her lower back, he guides her to where the private boots are.

"She's nice and fun to be around. You're the only one she acts like that."

"Should I feel special then?"

"Don't try to change the subject, Reborn," she says with a mock glare when they reach a secluded corner of the bar. Just to be careful he sends a faint flame-pulse to check for any recording devices in the furniture. "I know you're not going to give any personal information, but I hope you can at least tell me how did you meet her?"

"Ho? So secure my Sky is a woman, aren't we?"

"Is not?" she says, looking more than a little surprised. He'd have snarked back if not for the sudden blankness filling her expression. Her eyes gain an orange tint, not as bright as Ozora's but they still stand up in a pretty way thanks to her dark skin.

Slowly shaking her head from side to side, as if looking at something no one else can see, she frowns in the same way she did when they met for the first time. His gaze briefly shifts to the hand holding the empty glass where a ring rests on her middle finger, the orange jewel between small metal wings also glinting.

Well, he was thinking in slowly approaching the subject of that power of hers to compare it with Ozora's, but if he gets such an easy opening, who is he to not take it?

A couple short seconds later, Mafer is left blinking, her dark brown eyes returning. She shakes her head, but this time the gesture seems more in an attempt to clear her head than something supernatural. Lifting a hand to call a waiter, she gives him a sharp apologetic smile with a more than interested edge in it.

Such a shame they won't get laid today.

Oh well. Let's see what he can obtain in an hour without falling into her games.

It's close to twelve thirty by the time he returns to his hotel room. Earlier than he prefers, but even if he's able to maintain a perfect unruffled expression in front of others, he knows that flame touch affected more that he'd have liked. Not in a detrimental way, thankfully. There's just an itch he feels but can't quite scratch, leaving him irritated and a bit restless.

It takes him a moment too long to realize that it's a familiar feeling. Mafer's said it, hasn't she? His flames are less agitated thanks to Ozora's.

Well, were less agitated.

And damn, he's become spoiled if this is seriously frustrating him.

With a sigh, he digs his cellphone out next to the pouch where the orb Ozora's gave him is. He leaves them on the table and goes to the bathroom for a nice, long shower.

His watch tells him is already past one when he comes out, feeling refreshed. He doesn't really care if he annoys others, especially when he's a bit annoyed himself, so he doesn't think much when he calls Ozora. Actually, picturing him waking up from the noise and fumbling about in the search of the phone brings a smile to his face.

Is not a nice smile.

It takes Ozora a while to answer. He first says something in Japanese and stops, realizes what's he said, and fumbles once again for the right Italian word. His "Pronto?" comes next, unsure and tired but more awake than he expected.

"Aren't you supposed to be sleeping now, brat?"

"Oh. Renato! Hi, how are you? Everything's fine? No problems, right?"

The honest eagerness in his voice settles something inside him, makes breathing easier. He closes his eyes as he realizes Renato's missed him more than he's thought. Probably not more than drinking his espresso, though.

"Is that doubt I'm hearing? I'm the best, remember that."

Ozora huffs, whispering, "I'm surprised no one spotted you thanks to your big ego and shot you."

"What's that?"

"Nothing! I'm glad you're fine, really. I—I was a bit worried. You didn't call or leave a number, so, uh…"

"I'm fine," he says, and perhaps it comes out gentler than he intended, but hearing the little Sky's relieved sigh makes up for it. A little. He'll probably shot Ozora for doubting him when he sees him next. He actually opens his mouth to say that, but a loud thud coming from Ozora's side of the phone stops him.

"What the—Oh kami. Is that another body?! You promised to stop!"

"For the RMI, yes. This is for testing," a gruff male voice answers.

"What do you need it to test?! It's dead!"

"I'm not denying the range of answers I'll obtain will be lesser than if it were alive—"

"You're not bringing an alive person!"

"—but you don't want me to make tests on you, so."

"How is this my fault?!" Ozora yells in that tone of voice that's part aggravated and part resigned he uses with people he's friendly with. Renato is not reassured by it. It actually annoys him further.

"Ozora," he grits out, but the other seems to be distracted now that the noise is back. He recognizes it as the one of someone dragging a dead or unconscious body through the floor.

"You should finish with those papers if you're not going to help me," the unnamed man rasps out, out of breath.

Ozora groans. "You know what? You'll be fine. I'm going back to bed, now. See you tomorrow."

"It's past one of the morning. I'll be seeing you in the afternoon—" There's another exasperated groan coming from Ozora "—leave the Rain archives on my desk first, though."

"Yeah, yeah."

"Ozora," he barks, darkly pleased at the pained yelp he hears.

"Ow. Uh? Oh, Renato, I'm sorry I kind of ignored you. It wasn't my—I mean, I didn't—please don't shoot me."

He doesn't promise anything.

"I left you for only a week and half. In what trouble have you gotten into?"

"It wasn't my fault! I just got kind of… fired."

"Kind of?"

"Well, the police's grown too curious and has been searching around for I don't know what. I'm a minor without a legal guardian or any document aside from passport a false residency card. So yeah, kind of fired. Giorgio-san told me I could go back when the police is not as fidgety. The hotel is kind of shady so I don't think they'll fire me there."

He shots the lamp closest to him. It leaves the room darker, but he doesn't stand up to turn on another. He's angry with himself. He shouldn't have shot those men close to one of Ozora's jobs. The civilians may want to put behind the previous decade and ignore the 'terrorism' that had been going on with such eagerness, but he's not as naïve to not known the government is still jumpy.

The second Mafia War may be at its end, but that only means people are getting desperate, reckless. It makes things worse for the ones dealing with the casualties.

He should have guessed.

"Renato?" With a hand rubbing half of his face, he sighs. "It's okay, you know? I'll be gaining some money thanks to Mona-san so there'll no problem with the new apartment's rent. And I've got another job so I'm not going to be bored anytime soon."

'I should be the one reassuring you,' he wants to say. Instead, he concentrates in his respiration for two complete seconds. "Where are you?"

"My new job. The guy you heard? He's my employer, a scientist. A messy one, so I'm working as some sort of assistant? Secretary? Something like that."

"That's not what I meant. Where are you? It's late."

There's a short silence before Ozora says way too cheerful, "Can't, sorry. My contract says I can't give any detailed information about my work or the person I'm working for."

"And that hasn't made you suspicious?" he grits out.

"A lil bit, but don't worry, everything's fine. And I'm staying here, so I won't be going out late."

He pinches the bridge of his nose. "What."

"Well, I stopped renovating my rent and I can't move out yet, so I'll be kind of homeless for three more days."

"And you didn't mentioned this before, because?"

"I—I calculated wrong. I thought it was only going to be a day instead of a week."

"I'm so going to drill math into your head, brat."

"Hiee! No, no. It's alright. Besides, because of me, scientist-san is more into flames and he tends to forget to sleep and eat when he's too into a theory, so I'm making sure he doesn't die while here."

Fuck, Ozora will end giving him gray hairs if he ends as his Sky.

"Flames?"

"Oh, damn. Okay, if anyone asks, I haven't told you anything. But I had told you something then it'd be how it isn't my fault and he was into it way before we met."

"You seriously need a minder."

"I do not." A pause. "Besides, I don't think it'd help any."

He looks at the pouch on top of the table and stands up to grab the orb inside it. It's still as warm as the day Ozora gave it to him, settling what's left of the itch that appeared because of Mafer's flames. Closing his hand, he presses the too tight fist against his forehead, and concentrates in the comforting feeling it gives.

People call him the Greatest Hitman; they fear him and respect him in equal measure because of his skills and intelligence. He's has money, reputation, and is fairly young for the success he's gained. It's true that it'll probably take a long time before another Sky strong enough to pull him comes with the same compatibility he has with Ozora, but he can wait. He really doesn't need a Sky at the moment. Ozora can be like what Mafer is to him, someone that will help his flames settle down. He knows the brat would understand.

"Renato?"

But he can't deny some part of him really wants this frail, non-mafia attached brat to be his Sky.

He's gotten attached, damn it.

"I'll only say this once so listen carefully," he says in an even tone. As he waits for the little Sky to make a noise of agreement, he moves his fist away from his forehead and lights it in Sun flames. "I'm going to give you a direction, you'll retrieve a key from there. Then you're going to go to my apartment and stay there until I go back."

"Oh… You don't mind?"

"I'm offering, aren't I?"

"Right. Um, thanks, Renato."

"Do you have something to write on?"

"Always," he says, resigned.

Opening his hand, he recites both directions, watching idly the now yellow orb as he talks. The faint orange tint is gone but instead of his flames erasing the feeling Ozora's flames gave it, it turns into something similar to the indigo one. Still warm, but now alive.

At least, he's sure being Ozora's Element won't ever be boring.

"Hey, brat," he says when he's sure Ozora's finished writing. "This is me stating a claim, so don't go off searching for another Sun."

The sound of Ozora choking on thin air is music to his ears.

"Now go to sleep, little Sky. Dream of all the bullet holes your new apartment will have."

He cuts the line with a smile and places the yellow orb in the inside of his pajama's pocket before looking to the side, where a chameleon is resting on one of the room's plants.

"Did you hear that?" he says, scratching the underside of his chin. "I'll be introducing you someone important soon, Leon."

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 11

(December 18th, Saturday - night)

It's been a while since he's felt this kind of fear. It's one he's grown pretty accustomed to since meeting Reborn and while he's usually the one who seeks every shred of familiarity he can find in this place, this one he'll be really happy to forget. Just its presence makes a set of painful memories surface, memories he dreads to even think about in a good day.

Memories of painful training.

It doesn't matter. Tsuna is here for a reason and going inside the building where his future (past?) mentor lives will not dissuade him. Besides, it's too late to back off now.

Literally too late, he thinks looking up at the dark sky as he enters the building. And I told Verde I wasn't going to take advantage of his house anymore, too.

Oh well.

When he reaches the correct door, he shifts in place. Mamoru is ready around his shoulders, prepared for any traps he may find inside. He's also ready to run or jump through any window he finds. Just in case.

He takes one last glance at the entrance of the apartment Renato gave him the directions of. It was unsurprisingly tricky to find out as without the address one could have easily overlooked it. Not to say it isn't a fancy place located on a quiet and nice street. It is. It's also just a little far away and private. It suits Renato.

With a fond and resigned sigh, he opens the door.

Well, from where he's standing, he can see a large living room at the end of a short corridor. There's a place at his direct left to hang coats and hats, next to it there's a white door. He walks in and sees the kitchen close to the living room, a turned off white and mustard-like chimney the only thing separating them. And yup, it's a fancy kitchen too, looking ready for a cooking show to start any minute now. Unlike the boring browns of the one on his apartment, this one is white, as in OCD white with only some black and mustard highlights to go with the soft gray walls.

It relaxes him somewhat to see the order and neatness of the room. He'll probably be afraid to even make tea, but, well. It's so unlike Verde's cluster and that's nice.

He runs a finger over the surface of one of the cupboards and is not surprised to find a hint of dust. After all, it's been a week since Renato's been here. And talking about that, he steals a glance at too classy living room next to a wall made of gigantic windows, going from the floor to the ceiling and contrasting nicely with the light inside the room. They're huge and let the room seem bigger somehow. There's a large black couch in front of it with a smaller, orange one at the side, a small transparent table on top of a black and mustard carpet. Gray and mustard cushions are on top of the black couch, the same color of the gray walls and the chimney, while the orange one has a black one.

It's comfortable and warm, and as fancy as he would have expected from Renato, though something tells me one cushions has cost more than a month of his salary.

On the wall next to the windows there's a large mirror, of the kind that lets one see their complete body and he hasn't seen in months. He starts in surprise at seeing his surprise and the young man in front of him, the one trapped within the glass, approaches with extreme caution. He's wary and serious, a hint of orange permanent in his narrow eyes, unlike the soft looks he remembers seeing one year ago. He doesn't know this person, but it is him.

(How long has it been since he's seen his reflection. Really seen?)

His hand comes up and short, thin fingers trace the unfamiliar face. His cheekbones are soft but the baby fat that it was still present before his trip is completely gone now, only leaving a youthful face in its place. Despite the weight he's gained since those first days in Italy, his shoulders are still narrow with just a hint of them getting wider.

It's been so long since he's come to live here and now he looks the part; older. And it feels like he's missed something along the way, like he gone from a kid to a stranger so quickly in his time away from his family, and now he's completely is unprepared for the pang of loss that it comes with it.

Will they recognize him if he returns?

He shakes his head. It doesn't matter. And anyways, better to go search for the guest room.

Tsuna turns back from the mirror, from the stranger, and walks to the door he saw first and it reveals another small corridor, this one with four doors inside, two on each side and one at the end. He opens the first door to the right, which leads him to some kind of laundry room with some small cupboards inside.

At least he won't have to go looking for one near this apartment to clean his clothes.

He goes to the door in front of the previous one and finds a moderate-sized bathroom, pretty fancy too with a nice bath. Nice, he thinks as he closes the door. He probably will take a shower before sleeping.

Well, three rooms left.

He chooses the one on the left and closes it as soon he notices the too big bed and the door inside that most likely leads to a personal and bigger bathroom. He doesn't want to intrude any more than he has, so he's not taking a peek there. It'll probably have some weird stuff, too. So better be safe.

He tries to open the room at the end of the corridor but finds he doesn't have the key for it. It's closed. He understand the need for privacy so he leaves it there and start opening the last room on the right even if his intuition cautions him he won't like what he sees inside. Not that he has other option; it's the last room, after all.

Besides, what else can it be but a guest room?

Famous last words.

(He vehemently squishes the dark thought that tells him Renato doesn't seem like the type of person to have guests he doesn't sleep with)

Taking a deep breath, he curls his body inwards as if ready to take a blow to the head and opens the door, only to find… a walk-in closet.

What.

Wait, no. It isn't a walk-in closet as that would imply having a normal closet size room and this is more like… a room-turned-closet thing.

What?

He slowly walks in, morbid curiosity leading his steps.

There's what looks like fifty different suits and shirts on one side with shoes perfectly arranged next to them. He can see ties of different shades of black, yellow and more. Next are more casual clothes he can't picture Renato in. Pretty normal stuff, actually. Probably awfully expensive too.

Then there's the other side which seems to be filled with uniforms. From police to fireman to doctor; it seems to have it all. It even has a nurse one. Both for male and female. There are even a couple of dresses that he wants to think are from Renato's lady friends, but he can't deny they seem to be made to conceal broad shoulders and accentuate a non-existent waist.

They're all pretty but the memories he wants to forget about Reborn dressed as a girl and biting his long hair are there and, yeah.

He shouldn't have accepted Renato's offer.

Not that it matters now, he thinks again. And damn his intuition for not warning him then.

(It did, he just not listened. It was important to Renato and he couldn't deny when that concerned tone was directed at him.

He's such a pushover)

Oh well, he just has to search for something to cover himself and he'll be set to sleep on the couch. It's probably pretty comfortable.

(December 19th, Sunday – early morning)

What he remembers of the dream he's had is to be reaching something before grabbing it, the action causing him to wake up. He doesn't remember what exactly happened in the dream or what he was grabbing, just that he was at peace when he did, in a way he's not felt since he started sleeping around.

Actually, he still feels like that and he can't help but want to soak in the feeling. He nuzzles the soft texture of the cushion against his cheek, relishing in the warm weight of the mattress over his body. The back of the couch is nice, like there's a warm wall against his back. He presses himself more against it and—Wait. He can feel something across his stomach pushing him closer. It's heavy and familiar. An arm. And that must be a chest, then.

Somebody is sleeping next to him.

He feels blood rushing through his body. His heartbeat loud in his ears, but so are his flames. His finger twitch, prepared to ignite and punch the lights out of—

A large hand grabs his own. Breathing ghosts over his neck. "It's me."

Tsuna turns his head until he can see the hint of that familiar disheveled hair. The hand grabbing him lets him go. It moves to his waist and helps him turn around until he can see the hitman perfectly.

"Hey," Renato says in a tone he's never heard from him before, something soft. Tsuna studies him, looking for injuries even though he knows the impossible task it is with a Sun. His chest is bared and flawless, just a couple scars marring it. There even one from where he remembers the bullet he received the day they met. His muscles shiver faintly at his touch but Renato doesn't stop him.

He's perhaps a bit tanner and without his hat, and especially with his head resting on a pillow, his hair is back to its usual mess.

"Hey," Tsuna says, moving forward to best hug his friend. It's weird because he's used to Reborn, him being so small he could fit perfectly in his arm or on his head. And though he's learned to separate the Reborn he knew with this Renato, sometimes he can't help but think in the unfairness that's his future mentor's life. "I missed you."

His hand is on his back, pushing him close until his can fell his nose brushing the hitman's collarbone. "Of course you did. I would be offended otherwise."

Tsuna huffs. "I'm glad your trip did nothing to your ego."

"You like my ego." Renato presses his nose against his hair and hums. "Did you take a shower here?"

"Er. Shouldn't I?"

"It's not that. I'm just glad you did. I was sure you would feel too self-conscious to do it."

"I did feel a bi—wait." He sits up, not caring he almost head-butted Renato on the chin. He looks around and realizes he's not on the couch he slept the night before but the on the only bedroom inside this place.

It's big as he saw before and white. There are no curtains, just some black small closet and a comfortable couch on a corner. The room doesn't have anything in yellow, or that mustard-like color he found on the living room. Everything is different shades of black and white with only the brown floor and to give it some color.

He sees a hint of green from the corner of his eye and finds a corner full of the color green. What looks like a small tree and other plant surround an aquarium like place where there is a large green-almost brownish- chameleon resting on a branch.

"That's Leon."

He blinks twice in surprise. He doesn't know if that's the Leon he remembers always seeing on Reborn's fedora. He doesn't think so as this one is too large and too… normal looking.

"He's beautiful," he says because it's true even if at the moment he doesn't care. Tsuna is a bit pissed, after all. Mostly at his intuition because it hadn't wake him up.

"Why did you move me?"

"You were uncomfortable there." He pulls him down onto the bed with a pull, until half of his body is sprawled on top of him. "Besides, how do you think I would be able to sleep without my teddy bear next to me, um?"

"Ugh. You're so embarrassing."

Tsuna tries to hide his red face away by pressing it against Renato's chest. The hitman doesn't let him, taking a good hold of his chin so they he can look at him better.

"And you're blushing. It's a win for me."

"Shut up."

"Aw you're mad at me? How can you be mad with this face?"

Then, in what's probably the most probably creepy moment of his life, he smiles a smile that would be perfect on a model, one made for charm and who knows what else (he doesn't want to think about it, it terrifies him). It has something roguish and innocent at the same time. It's too beautiful, it hurts.

It's also scary. So, so scary.

He tries to turn away from the deja vu, the back of his hand going to cover one of his eyes. "It's so shiny. No more, please."

Renato laughs and that creepy, false and charming smile goes with it, becoming something more honest and more fitting of him. He likes it even if it still sends a cold shiver down his spine. He hides both eyes but when it passes a while and no sound comes from his friend, he slowly takes his hand away.

There's a small smirk on his face that only widens when he sees Tsuna giving him attention. He runs long fingers across his scalp, using his hold on the back of his head to move him closer until he can leave a peck on his cheek.

Tsuna is too surprised to answer anything, but that surprise turns into annoyance when Renato says, "You're mine."

"I can't be yours," he answers immediately back.

Renato huffs and goes to leave him another peck on the corner of his lips this time, too fast for Tsuna to react. "Then let me rephrase it, then." The hit man glares at him when he sees him opening his mouth, stopping him from talking. "I've already decided, I am yours. And you, even if you don't want to, are my Sky."

"… That's not how it works."

"Doesn't it? I thought it did. I would just have to kill any Sun that approaches you."

He thinks of Ryohei, of his onii-san and he glares, his flame cold inside him. "You won't do that."

"I won't? Is that a Sky telling his Sun not to?"

"That is a friend telling his friend not to do something. Please." He looks away. "I thought you said you were a gentleman. This doesn't sound like what a gentleman would do."

"I'm also a hitman, I hope you don't forget."

Tsuna tries to move away, to stand up and change, maybe take another shower, but Renato's hand is on his side, softly wrapping him next to him again.

"Won't you tell me why, at least? Why are you so against to having a guardian?"

And that's the problem, isn't it? Luckily Tsuna already came to a decision when the others were gone. "I will tell you the truth. But I don't think I can repeat it and this is something Fong also needs to hear. When he returns, I'll tell you both and then you can see why you would be better without me."

He grabs Renato's arm and moves it away. He stands up to go search for his clothes.

"Going anywhere?"

"I've work today."

"On a Sunday?"

He turns to glare at him, but probably his pout is taking its effect away. "It's the new job. I'm taking all the hours I can because I want two free days."

Renato stands up and follows him to the living room. Tsuna quickly looks away because while he's just noticed Renato doesn't have a pajama shirt, nor pants, he hasn't thought he would be just wearing underwear to sleep.

"Ozora?"

Tsuna looks up, face still a little flushed. Going by the knowing smirk on Renato's face he most likely knows what caused it. "What?"

"I was asking what did you want free days for?"

"Oh. Well, someone invited me to a party for Christmas and it's a bit far away. So—"

"It wouldn't be the Vongola Christmas Ball, would it?"

"How do you—wait, no, stupid question. Of course you know. You seem to know everything!"

He smiles at him in that soft way. "I wish."

Tsuna clears his throat. "Well, yes. I was invited by Ottavia."

"Ho? Not Timoteo then?"

Tsuna looks at him as he takes his backpack with him. While his face is perfectly neutral, his intuition tells him the hitman's really surprised it was Ottavia the one who invited him.

"Well!" he says with a clap, hoping it will dissuade any questions. "Let's go eat."

Renato doesn't buy it.

"I was also invited, you know and while—"

"It doesn't surprise me, really."

"And while," he says with a nasty glare. "I'd prefer you not to go, I'm not against both going together."

"… I was planning to go with Zaid."

"That means there's a private jet as Timoteo wouldn't let him go in anything less. Nice."

He doesn't think Renato understands him well.

"Hey, have you got a grown spur?"

He's a cruel, cruel man.

-x-

"You want an extra free day?"

"Well, I wouldn't need it as I get a Christmas holiday, but I was invited to a Ball and it's a day after Christmas, in Sicily. I would be back by the twenty-seventh, at night."

"This month you already get four days off as I can't make you work on Christmas day or New Year."

"Uh, yeah." He scratches the back of his head. "So could you?"

Verde hums but doesn't look from the machine he's looking at with some type of magnifying glass. Tsuna is actually surprised it's taken this long to obtain those days off. Verde is mostly an uncaring guy, who doesn't seem interested in following the rules that don't matter to him, and he's actually an understanding person when one gives him clear details and a solid argument.

"I've this week off on my morning job, maybe if I work all day for that week? Please, Verde, I can't not show up."

Verde looks up. "What did you call me?"

"Eh, Verde?" he says, not really sure where this is going.

"That's not my name."

Oh, fuck, right. He's called Dimtr. And he just called him Verde when he's asking for a favor.

"I'm sorry, I just—Well, you're kind of… green," he ends lamely, silently despairing.

"Though that's an alias I've taken. Do you know me as Verde in your future?"

Tsuna scratches his cheek; he knows better than say he's not of the future. It would be insulting Verde's intelligence and he's sure Verde-Dimtr, damn it- has already found some more weird stuff on his phone that incriminates him. "Kind of. I thought it was your name. No one calls you Dimtr in the future."

"Interesting." He clicks his fingers. "You mentioned a ball on Sicily, right? Does that mean the Vongola Ball?"

He blinks. "How do you know?"

He's actually curious about that. Verde -Dimtr- is not Renato. He's not that involved into the mafia and while the Vongola Ball is known, it's not the only Ball in Sicily. Though Verde is a genius, maybe he has—

"You just confirmed it to me."

—or that. Dimtr looks triumphant and there's a gleam in his eyes that speak of hunger and curiosity. It's kind of disturbing being directed that look.

"… You want to come? I do have a plus one."

Can he come?

"And being surrounded by ignorant people without a name they could respect? No. I'll wait to be invited. I'm already progressing in my immersion of that world, it'll take a couple months for me to gain it however."

Tsuna is not naïve. "But you want something from me, right?"

"Two things, actually."

He leaves the machine on the table and goes to the desk at his right where he takes something small and lent-like from the drawer. "What's that?"

"This is actually inspired by the camera on your phone. I want it to be put on your clothes."

Tsuna takes it from him and inspects it. "It's actually a masquerade so I could put it on my mask."

"Better then."

"And why do you want that?"

"Because I know every flame active has to wear something of the color of their flames on their clothes. This is just me gathering information on possible customers."

He doesn't know that. He actually still doesn't know how he'll obtain the suit. He has to call Mona tomorrow so hopefully that will get him some money to use.

"Okay, I can do that. Next thing?"

"I want you to harmonize with me, that's all," he says, like harmonization is not a big deal. But Tsuna knows he doesn't think that way; his eyes are serious even if his tone is light. That's why he doesn't immediately say no.

"Why do you want to do it?"

"Why? To study it, of course."

That answer actually annoys him. "And what when I leave? Do you think Discordance is not something serious? What will you do then?"

"I'll study it, too."

"… What?"

"I don't want a deep bond. I don't want to be accepted. I only want to study it. And you leaving, inferring you're returning to your future some time, will give me a chance to also study discordance. Maybe find a cure or some way to deal with it. It's genius. What better way to study something but by experiencing it?"

Tsuna is actually floored by that answer. He doesn't know what to do with it. He knows Renato and Fong want to harmonize with him but this is different.

"You also have to consider the fact that you're in a bad condition. I'm guessing you've had guardians before coming here, right? And now you're are suffering of some kind of Discordance. You need to bond with others, what better option but one who doesn't want any ties attached to him?"

"I—What?"

Dimtr rolls his eyes. "I made you a complete exam, remember? Your body is wasting too much energy, your cells are dying and regenerating at an incredible pace. I wouldn't be surprised if you get a heart attack. Though something seems to be keeping you functioning. I guess those are your flames, I'd need more data. I don't know if you have noticed, but you're growing at an abnormal pace. You're seventeen, aren't you? You don't look like it. You look young, true, but almost late eighteen or mid nineteen, not your actual age. That's what this Discordance is doing to you."

The tests that keep coming now seem to be more important. It's not anymore about flames, it hasn't been since a couple days ago it seems. Now it's about his health. It's all obvious now.

"You're studying me."

"You knew that."

"I did." He looks away, his fingers going to the necklace around his neck, taking comfort in its cool warmth. "I—I need some time to think about it."

"Of course. Take your break now if you want, but I want an answer by tonight."

He clenches his fists at the suddenness of all. "And what if I say no?"

Dimtr shrugs. "You're a smart kid, I know you won't."

Taking a small breath, he turns and doesn't look back.

-x-

He doesn't know where he's going. He's walking on autopilot, letting his intuition guide him to an answer, or something like it. There are few times were his intuition actually helps him when Tsuna wants and it seems today, that little alien living inside his head is feeling generous as it does tell him where to walk, when to stop and continue. It's peaceful in a way, to just trust and let oneself go. It reminds him of the times when he was a kid, when his mom grabbed his hand and took him on walks. He could enjoy the trip without worrying if he was taking the right path. He can now appreciate that.

"I know where you're taking me," he murmurs to no one.

And he does know. The trip is different but once he's on a familiar street he recognizes the place: His new apartment building.

He doesn't enter, doesn't want to see Ornella-san and make polite conversation. So he sits on the steps leading to the inside of the building and places his chin on top of his knees. He stays there for a long time, he doesn't know how much as he left his cellphone in Dimtr's hands. He doesn't know why his intuition lead him there, but soon he will find out, he knows it.

"Natsu?"

Tsuna opens his eyes, not knowing when he closed them. In front of him is a smiling kid. He doesn't recognize him for a long second.

Then it clicks. "Mateo?"

"Yup!"

He glances back at the building as he remembers the little kid he helped find his mom months ago, before he met Renato. "Do you live here?"

Mateo smiles as if he's said something funny. "No. My aunt lives here. Mom is busy today, you see. He left me with her."

"And where's she? Did she left you alo—"

His brain stops working when he sees the woman running behind Mateo with a scowl on her face. Mostly because that's Lal Mirch. He's one hundred percent sure. She looks exactly the same she did on that trip to the future, with the only difference being the scar around her eye.

"Why did you run for, you little brat?! You could have gotten killed!"

"I was hungry, aunt Lal!"

"That's not excuse, you—Wait. Who are you?"

Yep, that suspicious look, as if she were looking at a nasty bug is all Lal, okay.

"I'm Natsu," he says quickly if only to stop her from glaring at him. "I live here. Will live… Er. Nice to meet you?"

She snorts. "And you know the little brat, how?"

"He helped me find my mom! Remember? It was a looong time ago."

"I think I remember your mom mentioning it." She adjusts her jacket and lessens her glare. "Thanks for that, by the way."

Tsuna is still a little bit surprised by everything so he just says, "Sure."

She rolls her eyes, probably thinking he's just a perv by how he hasn't stopped staring at her. "Anyways, let's go, kid. You said you were hungry, right?"

"I am!"

With a skip on his step he follows Lal Mirch to the inside of the building.

It takes him a moment longer before he says out loud, "You were always guiding me towards them, weren't you?"

Something like dread forms in the pit of his stomach as he starts coming to a horrible conclusion. And when he turns around, he's not surprised to find the ramen shop across the street. He suspects Daemon is somehow spying on him all the times, which is creepy but also useful on times like this when he wants to demand explanations and just talk about his problems without the need to hide the truth.

(Something tells him that if Daemon had an actual body, his flames would have tried to harmonize with him, too.

It's a scary thought)

"What can I offer you on this beautiful day, Tsunayoshi?" Daemon says with a smirk the moment he enters.

"Is it true?"

The mist makes a notepad appear from thin air and writes on it. "The special, then."

"I'm serious. Stop this—this game. I need to know if…"

"If your body is self-destructing? If so, the answer is yes." At his horrified silence, he continues, "What did you think? You're sustaining the arcobaleno curse without having the curse itself."

He swallows. "Will I die, then?"

"No, you won't. You'd need more time holding it and as you will soon give it to Luce, it won't cause too much harm, but it will still affect you."

"Will this help them? I mean, if Kawahira-san gave it to me it means it will help them, right?"

"I don't know what goes through the head of that man. I just know that without something stabilizing you, you will go vegetative."

"… 'Something' stabilizing me? You mean harmonizing."

Daemon pulls a bowl of ramen from nowhere and pushes it in front of him. "I haven't said anything."

"You're not denying it, either," he murmurs, but he's distracted. The food smells nice and he's just realizing how hungry he is. He'll have to make some food to Dimtr when he returns back.

"I did tell you you had a deadline to meet. Luce will soon become the Sky arcobaleno and then she will harmonize with your 'friends'. I don't think you would like that."

He doesn't, actually. Something primal inside him is telling him 'they're mine' about the one's he's met so far.

"If I harmonized with them now, I could—could use the jars." He stands up, ramen forgotten in the sudden epiphany he had before coming here. "The problem in the future was that Yuni hadn't harmonized with the arcobaleno, but if I did it then…"

"A sound plan. Bravo." Tsuna turns around quickly. Daemon looks bored with a hand resting on his chin but he's also wearing a dark smile. "And what will you tell them? 'I've to harmonize with you and then leave you to suffer Discordance on top of being cursed. You just have to wait thirty years'"

And just like that, Tsuna deflates.

"Do you have the heart to leave your Guardians?" He puts his hand to his mouth, feigning mocking surprise. "Wait. You do! That's what you did!"

Tsuna's flames suddenly lights up. He grabs the collar of Daemon's apron and pulls him closer.

"Shut up," he hisses. Mamoru, who's awoken by his flames, slithers around his neck, growing larger as she opens her jaws wide to look more threatening. "You might know about pain, but what do you know about sacrifice?"

Daemon snarls back at him. "And would a kid like you know?"

Tsuna thinks of the cold inside him, gnawing his insides. How he can't sleep well without a flame active by his side. He thinks of his friends, young and not so innocent anymore; of his mom, sweet and clueless.

His grip loosens when he thinks of his current friends, Zaid, Chiara, and the guys from the bar; of the people he thought to condemn for a second: Renato, Fong, Dimtr, Mona. They all have dreams and ambitions and he can't—he can't do it.

"Did you have another epiphany, Tsunayoshi-kun?"

Tsuna looks up and meets his odd-colored eyes. "I won't go back to the future," he whispers though he's sure he's been heard with how close they're.

"Oh?"

"I won't go back to the future," he repeats, firmer. "I couldn't do that to them. I'll change the future. They won't suffer discordance. I'll release their curse as soon as they're cursed. I'll talk to Talbot and—"

"What about your friends?"

He swallows thickly as he lets him go, Mamoru settling back around his neck. "They will live without the pains of my past. I'll make sure of it. They'll stay innocent."

Daemon pulls back his apron in place with a huff. "Perhaps you do know of sacrifice, then."

"Shut up," Tsuna says, but it's half-hearted at best. He looks back at his half-finished bowl of ramen and finds himself without appetite. "I'll have to tell them."

"I would recommend you talk to the shaman first. Luce knows more about the future and what it can or can't be done."

"You know where she is?"

"No, but I know where she'll be. The Vongola Ball is known to attract many Skies. Maybe a talk with Ottavia will do you good, too. She knows a lot about the past, after all."

It pains him when Daemon is right. "I'll talk to them first, then."

"You do that. And look at the positive side of things, at least you won't be giving great news as a Christmas present."

"I don't need your sarcasm, Daemon." He yawns as he caresses Mamoru with a hand. "But yeah, I get it. After Christmas."

"Smart of you. Oh. And before I forget, here."

With a click of his fingers, a box appears next to the bowl of ramen. Tsuna is righteously cautious, but he still opens it, slowly and as if he were touching a bomb instead of a black box.

He opens it and finds a suit. It's all black with only an orange tie to light it up. He doesn't take it out of the box, but he's sure it'll fit him perfectly. His intuition agrees with him, too.

"Did you obtain my size while I was sleeping, he wants to ask, what he says instead is, "Thanks."

He'll still need a mask, but that's easier to obtain, here in Italy. A bit expensive though.

As if reading his thoughts, Daemon clicks his fingers again and a mask appears from thin air. It's orange and unlike the many models from Venezia he's seen. It's a hannya type of mask, a not so scary. It doesn't have the usual smile, instead it looks as the mouth is simply open, with two large fangs protruding from the upper lip, with smaller one coming from the lower lip. The hors are not so big, but they're gold like the fangs. Small designs covers the forehead and the frown in black. It's simple but smooth to the touch and surprisingly light.

"Thanks Deamon," he repeats, with an honest smile.

"Just progress on your mission so I can be free, Tsunayoshi."

Those words remind him of something. He slowly looks up. "Can you tell me everything you know about harmonization."

"Harmonization?"

"Yeah, especially between to people who hadn't formed an initial bond."

He hums. "I can do that. I'll need a favor though."

Great.

-x-

Dimtr immediately stands up from the couch he's sitting on, almost jumping in his eagerness to reach his lab. "I'll be back. Wait there!"

Tsuna chooses to sit in front of the couch Dimtr has told him from the first day it was his and no one was allowed to sit there. His 'thinking spot' he calls it, a place where he sometimes can find the scientist at odd hours, just sitting there with his eyes closed. It's of a pretty soft green leather that looks comfortable an as expensive as one of Renato's own couches.

When Dimtr comes back, there's an almost manic grin on his face, a notebook is in one hand while a pen is in another. He sits quickly with both elbows on his knees, unlike the slow, almost reverent way he's always see him sit. For some reason that energy he displays calms Tsuna, makes him surer of his decision.

"Okay. How do we start this?"

Tsuna scratches his neck. The nervousness is back. "I actually don't really know. Usually this is done unconsciously and slowly, but I know some people can try to push harmonization on another. The weaker one is, the more difficult it is to push back and deny it so the one with more power should be the one to start and the other just has to let it be."

"Which one of us is stronger one?"

Tsuna smiles a bit. He's actually a bit proud to say this to one of the future Arcobaleno. "You're pretty strong, but I'm stronger."

Dimtr nods as he scribbles something in his notebook. "So you will be the one to initiate it, then."

"Yes," he says, though he's sure Dimtr is most likely talking to himself. "But, before we start this I want to say I also have some hidden agenda for doing this."

"Besides your obvious lack of health, I'm sure?"

He swallows, but in the end he nods. "I'll tell you about it, but I want to wait until after Christmas. I want to talk with someone before saying anything. Not that it matters, I made my choice."

"You know my hidden motives so I'm okay with you having one, too. This is more of a business deal than anything."

"… That's not exactly how it works. If we're not compatible, nothing will happen."

"The experience will still be worthy."

"If you're sure."

"I am."

Tsuna nods again, this time more jerkily as he sees Dimtr's pen hovering on top of a blank page. Without saying anything more, he closes his eyes and concentrates. Calling for his flames is easy, separating them from the other flames inside him is a little harder even if the others are not active, but he manages it. He unconsciously leans closer and touches Dimtr's knee to anchor himself better. He tries coaxing them out, which is difficult as Dimtr has raw power but no skill in manipulating his own flames. They hover close to his own but never leave Dimtr's body.

Well, then.

He scales his chances by using some form of Sky Attraction and he feels Dimtr jerk a little bit with the action.

Okay, so less of that. He doesn't actually want to force this. But that little bit of Attraction seems to have done its job. Dimtr's flames are hovering close enough he can actually touch them, though he receives a nasty shock by them. He grips the knee a bit harder, his control slipping with the attack. It's weak and mostly done in reflex but Dimtr's still pretty strong and it hurt.

He feels his hands start sweating as his anxiety comes back full force when the uncomfortable part comes next. He remembers doing something like this with Fong, but he was actually pretty attached to Fong by then and there wasn't any awkwardness as their flames interacted.

This time is not like then. It's a bit like they're two strangers standing naked next to each other. Pretty uncomfortable, but this is when he needs to… 'court' Dimtr's flame so is necessary.

Okay, he can do this.

He just has to pulls it closer and ups the Attraction a bit. He's actually not sure of what he's doing beside what he's been told by Daemon (and he's not a trusty source, at all) and Dimtr can probably feel it because he's pulling back, but (and this makes Tsuna blush a bit), he has to show some sort of dominance or Dimtr's flames won't accept him even if the scientist wants it. The flames are more of the primal aspect of a person so he needs to answer in the same manner.

Oh god, he can't do this with just touching his knee, can he.

Opening his eyes, he sees Dimtr staring at him weirdly. It's a kind of intense stare and makes him want to close his eyes again, but he doesn't. "I sort of need to sit on your lap for a bit."

Dimtr blinks slowly, his pen is unmoving at his side. "Do we need to have sex?" he asks in such a direct way Tsuna can't help but blush and look down.

"We don't," he answers weakly. "It just feels like that because we're forcing this."

Dimtr looks like he wants to ask more embarrassing questions so Tsuna's free hand moves to his mouth to stop anything from coming out. He uses the other to let go of his knee and position himself better on his lap. "Please don't make this more awkward than it is."

The scientist huff in amusement, which is a first. So with his amused eyes as the last thing he sees, Tsuna closes his eyes and moves both hands to the sides of Dimtr's neck.

He takes a deep breath, mostly to assure himself he can do this.

This time, Dimtr's flames are easier to coax out. Seems that bit of talking helped them both settle a bit. He can feel his intuition guide him as his flames sort of nuzzle Dimtr's, trying to coaxing him into harmonization. It seems to work because Dimtr's body slowly starts to relax against his own.

And then it comes. Like knowledge's been suddenly downloaded in his brain, he just knows Dimtr, understands him in a way he couldn't before. The scientist's mind is so vast and great it hurts. His thoughts are too fast for Tsuna to follow without his intuition being active, but he now knows of how Dimtr sees the world. It's loud and chaotic, his mind always working, sometimes too overcome by everything.

The way he's always in his lab and only comes out at night is because people can be overwhelming with their flaws and thoughts on display for a mind such like his. Dimtr can't feel them like he can with his Hyper Intuition, but he can obtain similar knowledge just by watching them, too. Sight, smell and touch are overwhelming. Everything is overwhelming and he can't think with all the distractions—he can't be. He can't do anything.

Except he can. Tsuna can. Tsuna can shut off his intuition unlike Dimtr who can't keep his mind shut. Tsuna understands his need of silence now, his worry of ever becoming dull like the subjects that stop taking his attention.

Tsuna understands and accepts.

"Mine," he murmurs. "You're mine. I'll protect you."

He doesn't receive an answer but then he's just a flame comforting his Element, letting him know he's perfect the way he is, understanding his pain and helping him understand himself better. He opens himself a bit, too, shares his experiences with flames, those first days he's told no one. Those awful days where he needed to find a Rain to sleep with just to calm his flames. He shares more. His insecurities and dreams, how much he's left just to save his family. He doesn't go in details, his mind is still present enough to not do that, but he explains in that silent way their bond now lets them. A bond of devotion, of trust. He now can't see his life without him, it's difficult to see themselves as separate beings, actually.

And then he's not a flame anymore. He's back in his body and he can feel Dimtr under him. Their foreheads are pressed against each other and he can think clearly again. He opens his eyes and realizes Dimtr's crying. Tsuna himself is panting, tired, but he still musters the energy to hug Dimtr, kissing both of his cheeks were the tears are. Dimtr touches him back, pulls him closer like a man starving for heat.

They stay like that for a long time, with Tsuna nuzzling Dimtr's neck as they brush flames, all while Dimtr takes deep breaths close to his ear, fingers carding through his hair and neck with fluttering touches. They are deft and tender, a hint of awe in his movements as both bodies relax against each other.

"It's quiet," Dimtr murmurs after a while. Tsuna knows he doesn't mean the lack of noise inside the room but the silence inside his mind.

"You're a bit flame drunk, I think. My flames do that, sometimes."

The scientist hums. "It's nice, like being on drugs."

"Don't do drugs," he answers back immediately. "They're bad for you."

As if he hasn't heard, Dimtr continues, "but now I've this need of getting to know you. I want to spend more time with you. I don't want you to leave… Sincerely, I don't think I'll be able to work like this. It scares me."

"It's okay to be scared. Our bond is new. You'll probably feel more protective about me and will want to be by my side for a while longer."

"Interesting." With a soft sigh, Dimtr straightens, he moves his hair from his head to his waist as he starts mouthing his jaw, leaving a trail of kisses Tsuna doesn't want to stop. "I think you need to leave then."

What.

He looks up to voice of his thoughts: "What?"

Dimtr doesn't stop kissing him. "I need to write this experience down now that my ideas are fresh. I won't be able to do it if you're here being so, so distracting."

That's weird. By what Daemon told him, usually Elements get more possessive from what he's heard. But he understands so he lets Dimtr help him stand up even if's a bit shaky and tired himself. "You don't want me here then?"

"Oh god, no. I want you here. It's actually a bit terrifying how much I want you to be on my sight, but I can't work like this."

He hugs him next and the next kiss goes to his lips for the first time. It's more of a peck, one he keeps giving while he talks. "I want you,"—peck—"so much,"—peck—"I don't,"—peck— "want you,"—peck— "to leave."

It's actually a bit overwhelming. He barely realizes he's been led to the door. And he only notices that when his back is touching the wood.

"Is this you firing me?" Tsuna asks breathlessly.

"No," he answers too quickly. He looks down at him, searching for something. Tsuna doesn't know what but just to be sure he lifts a hand up to brush his gruff cheek, he lets his hand travel to his scalp and pushes him closer, his eyes never leaving Dimtr's in case the man objects. He knows how skittish he is when someone breaches his personal space, not that it means he bothers when he's the one doing it. He's a bit of a hypocrite like that.

He leaves a peck like all those Dimtr left on his lips and then stands on the tip of his toes and goes back for another kiss, this one a bit deeper. He doesn't know why, he just needs the contact, something to ground him.

Besides, he's not kissed anyone in a while. And this feels right.

He doesn't let it go any deeper, just a movement of lips and to nip some of his own possessive behavior. He finishes it with a peck on his cheek before righting himself.

"I'll see you tomorrow, then?"

Dimtr seems conflicted for a second. "Are you sure we don't need the sex?"

Tsuna tries really hard not to blush. "Pretty sure. This is only because our harmonization was a bit abrupt. Our hormones will settle soon." This time, he looks down. "Though if you want that kind of relationship, just know I'm not against it. You're mine, sure; but I'm also yours. You can ask from me anything you want."

Dimtr opens the door as he hums, pushing him his bag. "I wouldn't be against some kisses."

Walking out and settling the bag on a shoulder, he smiles. "Me neither."

"That said, you really are some distraction."

Then he closes the door on his face.

And that's that.

"You're still a jerk," he says out loud, but it comes out fond and not so resigned. Though then he sighs and the resignation come. "Renato is going to kill me," he murmurs and with gobbled steps, he makes his return to Renato's home

-x-

(December 19th, Sunday – night)

In the end, Renato doesn't end killing him. Though that doesn't mean he isn't mad. They have been eating for twenty minutes and so far he hasn't say anything to him. He's mostly glaring.

When he's over, he sips his glass of wine and looks thoughtfully at him. He seems to have reached some conclusion and is ready to talk, which fills him with dread.

Luckily, his phone rings at that moment. "I need to go!"

True to his word, he jumps at the opportunity and goes to retrieve his phone from his bag. He doesn't recognize the number, but considering only two people have his number and Mona said they'll be talking tomorrow, that only leaves an option.

"Fong!"

"Hi, Ozora. I apologize for how short was our last call, I needed to—"

Renato take the phone from him. "Hey, fire breath. Guess who has harmonized?"

Tsuna doesn't hear Fong's answer but he can see Renato's sadistic smile clearly.

"No, no, not me." Renato hums, completely ignoring his attempts at taking hold of the phone. "Exactly. Our little Ozora has met some guy while we were gone and now he has a new Element, isn't it sweet?"

Tsuna doesn't care anymore, his intuition is telling him how bad things are turning. He lights up his flames and with a force he hasn't used in a while, he pulls Renato's free arm to the side. The man loses his balance but stays standing and quickly moves into a best defensive position. Tsuna kicks him on the leg and finds it satisfactory when the other hisses.

"I think he's fallen in love and this person has corrupted his little heart."

"That's not true! We made the decision when we were in our right minds! He didn't do anything to me!"

"Ho? You haven't denied that you've fallen in love," he says pushing his face away with a hand.

"I haven't, either!" he answers with his voice muffled. "I do love him, though—He's my Lightning, my friend!"

Mamoru, sliding off of him, Tsuna call for his flames, for his Hyper mode. A flame appears on his forehead and he's ready to battle Renato even if he hurts him. Who knows what those words are doing to Fong. He's the most susceptible of them and the one who has wanted longer for him to be his Sky.

With a speed he normally doesn't show off, Tsuna kicks Renato on his leg, make him tumble, and jumps to retrieve his phone. "Don't listen to him phone. He's just angry at me. Whatever he told you, I—"

"Is it true?"

His throat starts hurting, but he shoves back the tears that want to come off. "I need to."

"And why this person and not… Renato. He's been there for a day, hasn't he? Or is this Element stronger than us?"

That startles him, so much so he lets out a small laugh at the idea of Dimtr fighting with Renato or Fong. "No."

"Smarter?"

That's a little bit harder. Tsuna knows how much Renato thinks of his intelligence and he doesn't want to hurt his ego. So with just a glance thrown at the hitman, who is glaring at him, he says, "I think you three are smart in different things, though if it's IQ what you're asking, then, er, kind of."

Renato's glare if possible becomes even more intense. "So that's it? That's what one needs to—"

"No. That's not it," he says, answering Renato. Then at the phone, "We reached an understanding. He knows I've a hidden agenda and he could fall in Discordance. He's accepted because he wants to experience that Discordance to study it. I wouldn't do that to you without explaining things first."

"Do I get an explanation now?"

"I'll talk to you both in person. This is something that I don't want to be heard by anyone else and is best to not do it by the phone. Will you wait until then?"

There's a silence before Fong sighs. "I will. For you. You're worth it, Ozora."

Tsuna bits his lower lip, his flames are gone now that most of the fight has left him. "Tsuna. My real name is Tsunayoshi. I can't give you my last name, but… yeah. Call me Tsuna."

Tsuna right now doesn't care about what happens to the future. His friends know how to keep secrets hidden and he trust them with his name,

"Thanks for telling me, Tsuna. I'll do my best to come as quickly as—"

A silence passes. "Fong?"

He hears some rustling, some kind of fight going on and a frantic, "open your mouth now!" coming from Fong, a tone he's never heard before from him.

"Fong? Fong, are you okay?!"

"Yes, yes, I am. It's just. She has eat it."

What. He repeats it out loud for clarification: "What?"

"The daughter of the leader of the Snow monkeys here, has eaten the sphere you gave me and—"

"Fong?"

"Light is obscuring my view of her. I think something is happening to her. I'm sorry, Ozo—Tsuna. I think I need to leave. The light is not gone and she's growing smaller."

"Oh. Oh. I think I know what's happening to her."

"You do?"

"Yeah. I think she's turning into your familiar. I haven't thought those orbs would work like that, but now I can't believe how I haven't thought about it!"

A deep breath. "Will she be okay?"

"She should be. She will turn smaller and stronger, probably gain some kind of power, too."

"The light is gone," he answers after a while. "She's unconscious. And smaller. I'll call you later, I'll take her to a doctor first."

"Okay, you do that."

"I hope we will see soon. Take care, Tsuna."

Tsuna swallows. In spite all the guilt he feels at the moment, knowing Fong is not that mad at him warms his heart and flames. "You too, Fong," he murmurs in the hopes Renato can't hear. "You're a dear friend, after all."

He can feel Fong's smile at the other end of the phone.

Then the call ends and he's left staring at the big phone.

"I'm not so infatuated like your other suitor, you know. I'm still mad at you."

Tsuna sighs. "I know."

He turns around and sees his friend with his arms crossed and a scowl marring his features.

"I'm sorry."

"You can apologize when you explain to me why you are going to leave. And where. If you think I won't follow you, you're sorely mistaken. I already decide you'll be my Sky."

He takes a step back, surprised. "What?"

"By what you've said, one can easily deduce you're planning to leave to some faraway place most can't follow and this deal you've with your Lightning is made with it in the middle. So, when do you plan to leave?"

"I don't plan to leave. Not anymore." He huffs. "I want to tell you all about it, but I need to talk with some people to know how much I can reveal without causing any damage."

Renato nods. "I'll wait then."

He blinks in surprise. "You will?"

He's actually surprised the hitman is not putting anymore fuss about it. He can be really stubborn on a good day, after all.

"You're worth the wait, Tsunayoshi," he says with a shrug and an easy tone Tsuna can't help but look away, towards the window of the living room. It still shows him the familiar stranger, with his soft looks and taller frame. But unlike yesterday, he notices other things, too.

He's standing straight, not hunched like used to do before meeting Reborn. There's a quiet confidence about him, a determination in his orange eyes that wasn't before.

He still doesn't recognize him, but he can see himself liking this stranger, this grown up version of himself. The one that has earned him the respect of others and the friendship of more. This is what they see when they talk to him, what they think it's worth.

The question is if he can live with expectation.

His flames flare in a silent roar, a silent 'yes'.

Chapter Text

Interlude: Arcobaleno

Dimtr stops writing for the fifth time in the same hour, fingers fluttering above his chest. He sighs, closing his eyes as he tries to bring out the calm that invaded him at that moment under Ozora’s weight. It comes, slower than he may have wanted but it does. It’s slightly annoying how dependent he’s become to it when less than a day has just passed, but he can’t help it, it’s almost better than being on drugs as he admitted to Ozora. ‘Almost’ because while the silence he can achieve is nearly the same, there’s not that spike of mental prowess he usually feels. With everything slow and quiet.

“It’s still nice,” he murmurs to no one. Too nice, actually. And bothersome. Which is another matter he now has to deal with: lust. It isn’t nothing he has experienced before and while it’s been pleasant at the beginning when it was new and something he could wonder about, it’s plain annoying. He can’t even close his eyes without his mind wandering to Ozora’s whereabouts and his wellbeing.

And if he thinks about it too deep, as he’s done for scientific reasons, he can feel the warm of his body on top of his, how his arm curled perfectly around his back, tugging the ends of his hair as he pulled him closer until their lips met and moved against each other, warm and wet. He’s kissed before, mostly to gather information about it, but it’s never felt like that before. As if his control was slipping in a beautiful and amazing way. With silence in his mind, his only focus being the body against his, the pressure of his weight being grounding and demanding at the same time.

A shiver runs across his body and he stops thinking about lips and a lovely neck he wants to bite; he doesn’t want his thoughts from going there again.

In one part it finally let him experience masturbation.

In another, well… it’s not as amazing as he was led up to believe. It’s actually kind of annoying after a while, with its repetitive movements and awkward fluids. He’s pretty sure sex won’t be better, but he’s at least curious enough to want to know if Ozora being added to the equation will change anything.

Anyhow, he thinks as he closes his notebook dedicated to harmonization, placing the pen he’s using on top of it. He still needs to go back to work and make more design of weapons if he wants to enter the mafia underworld. His hobby and passion must wait.

He stands up and walks to the office where he keeps his blueprints, one hand going to his chin to scratch the faint stubble on it, briefly wondering if Ozora may prefer kissing him without it.

“There are better ways to enter that world, you know?”

Dimtr blinks in surprise, head turning to where the sound came from. There he sees a man leaning against his wall, about three centimeters taller than him, posture indicating honesty and made to inspire trust. His face is covered with a mask, hair clearly false, but also too real to be a wig. The clothes, like the hair, are too false to be real but too be real to be completely false. It throws him out of a loop. Everything about the man is all wrong, not real.

A mist, a pretty good one to make him doubt if he’s correct. But he’s also too perfect to be anything else.

“And what does a Mist cares about me?” he answers immediately after.

He doesn’t ask how it’s possible he knows about his desires. This Mist has probably been observing him from some time, hidden. Strange as he’s just been recognized.

The man in the iron colored hat claps. “Bravo. As one would expect from someone claimed to be the Second Davinci.”

“Yes, yes. Enough with the flattering. What are you doing here?”

He probably shouldn’t be as antagonistic, but he can’t help it. Someone has intruded in his space. His office. The one only he is allowed to be in.

“I’ve a proposal to give. A way to give you an in, a way for you to study the most powerful flames. A social experiment, some would think, but it’s more,” he says, playing with a pacifier that has appeared on his hand. “I’m offering you the chance to work with other six people, to form the strongest seven of an era, the Prescelti Sette.”

Then a card is between his fingers. It’s an invitation to a party, the same Ozora is been invited.

Hypothesis and theories go through his mind, wondering what the man must be up to. Then he explains about flames and the arcobaleno, I Prescelti Sette, and Dimtr is once again curious, even if he knows everything points to a trap.

He wonders how Ozora will look in a suit. He wants to see him wearing one.

-

He’s meditating when he feels it. It’s dark outside, no light aside from a couple of candles inside the room. It’s not silent though. Lichi, as he’s decided to name the little snow monkey he’s apparently been partnered with, is on top of his head, eating some nuts he gave her. She’s not loud, but she isn’t quiet either. Sometimes a bit of drool drips to his hair, but he doesn’t complain. Better his hair that doesn’t suffer any effect than the floor which now has a couple holes on it. Apparently, little Lichi’s saliva works as some type of acid that destroy anything in its way. He still has a couple tears in his clothes where she started licking him. He hasn’t changed yet as she’s still learning to control it and better for her to work on a pair of clothes he’s not going to use anymore.

She makes another happy sound and he finds himself smiling even through his meditation. Not that it matters as the sound soothes him in the same way the Sky flames that were inside the small orb did before the small snow monkey ate it. He uses that sound as his focus.

He’s relaxed and that may be why he catches the presence a second later than he normally would.

He doesn’t tense, nor shows any outward response that he knows someone is watching him. However, Lichi still looks up, her powerful flames already disintegrating the Mist Flames in the air, even as subtle and unobtrusive as they’ve been.

“The rouse is already up,” he says with a hum.

With a chuckle, a man walks from the shadows with a grace that doesn’t come from a martial arts as his does but still possess experience and weight with each step. A checkered suit that makes his normal height and lithe build seem bigger, more threatening.

“I didn’t want to interrupt,” the man with the iron hat and mask says with a small dip of his head. His words a lie, as if he didn’t want to disturb he would have come in a more public setting or at least in the morning, when it’s less suspicious to meet.

“It’s of no consequence.” He smiles wanly. “Is it wrong to assume you’re here for the tournament?”

Because the week before New Year’s is usually spent with a small tournament between the Triad’s clans. He’s not been invited since the last time he completely demolished the other combatants three years ago and he didn’t think he would be invited again.

“I’m not with them.” Well, that is still a surprise.

He still doesn’t tense.

“Then may I enquire what business do you have with me?”   

“Of course,” the man says, a gives him a card.

He reads it and his heart feels like it’s been stopped for a second. His hands want to shake in excitement but he doesn’t let them.

“The Prescelti Sete, then.” He hums as if the title could care him less, as if the title hasn’t been whispered in the Mafia for so many years. No one knows from where it comes from, but most high ranked individuals know about it. The fact that the Vongola is giving invitation just confirms it’s the real deal. “I thought it was a myth.”

“The Greatest of an era always come together.”

And they always disappear without anyone the wiser, too, he thinks.

“This time a get together will be held first at the Vongola Ball, for the ones not entirely involved with the Mafia.” He looks pointedly at the letter he gave him. The man nods once in understanding. “The date written is for when you’ll meet up afterwards for the jobs you would need to take to gain notoriety. You’ll be well paid.”

“That’s nice,” he says wantonly, “but what if I don’t plan to accept.”

“You can deny, of course, though I’d recommend you to at least meet your fellow Arcobaleno if you want to gain the title.” He looks lazily around. “I think a new title would be a great way to separate from your Triad. If you want to, that is. I heard there’s more freedom in being from a Neutral party.”

So he knows he wants to become a neutral enforcer in the Triads while distancing from the heavy politics of it. Does he know about Tsuna? He hopes not.

“If you’re unsure, we can talk more about the jobs you’ll have to do, yes?”

With his smile never faltering he nods, trying to hide his red eyes as he looks down at the floor. Lichi jumps to the floor next to him, a small trail of smoke growing from where she’s licking the nut between he little fingers. “Let’s talk then.”

-

Sorell, or Skull as he prefers to be called now, is conflicted. He’s a stuntman. A great one, if he’s honest with himself. And while he may not be the brightest tool in the shed, he’s sharp. He has to be as he’s an actor. He likes to monologue a bit too much, but he’s observant. He can copy all the actions he sees and he learns all practical stuff at an incredible pace even if he’s lacking on theory aspects that don’t involve a bike. But he knows how to read people, how to act like them and more.

And this whole setup smells fishy. Like the start of a horror movie.

“You want answers. This is but an opportunity for you to receive them.”

The man with the checker faced mask pulls out a simple card, similar to the one that man with the mustache did not long ago, this time in white.

He admits he’s curious. The man showed him Flames, the same one he can make appear but in different color, with a different feel altogether. He wants to ask the man to give him more information about those flames if he wants him to consider his offer, but something stops him. Some primal fear that makes him want to snap at the man. It’s been there since the man appeared in the middle of his walk, the one he’s always like to go around the place he sleeps as he’s restless without doing it at least once a day. He calls it healthy paranoia.

(Later, he’ll wonder if his problem had to do with him being a Cloud and anticipating he was soon become caged)

The man gives him the card and after reading, he says with a false smile he knows will look perfectly honest, “The great Skull will like to know more first.”

“Understandable,” the man says and starts talking. A translucent orb appearing on his hand. It makes him wary and he always trust his instincts.

His eyes flick to his fingers, where the ring the Orange-eyed little dude gave him is. He’s not afraid, but he wonders if he’s in trouble will that lion appear again? Will it fight for him in the same way it did against those cloaked figures?

He knows how to fight, he’s been a stuntman for many action movies not to, but he knows he can’t fight this guy. There’s no role for him to take. At least not yet. He’s using his normal persona but he doesn’t know if it’ll work here or against those teammates the man want him to meet.

He hopes it does.

-

Surprise doesn’t begin to describe what Viper is feeling. As soon as they enter the room they know there are Mist flames that are not their own, powerful enough to make their own look like a kid’s. A man, or at least looks like one as now they don’t trust anything they can see, is sitting on top of their desk. They’re not easily threatened, but they’re also not used to being surprised. And what they’re feeling is exactly that.

With a flick of their eyes, they try to teleport away, to some place they can find more information about powerful Mists in the Mafia. However, they soon find they can’t. Their movements aren’t obstructed as they can still move, but they aren’t. Able. To, Teleport.

They’re not happy.

“Mou. If you wanted my attention this much you better be ready to pay for it,” they say, as if they were not planning to escape a second ago.

Surprisingly, the Mist places a large piece of gold from their inside pocket of his suit. “I hope this can cover the five minutes I plan on being here.”

Viper eyes the gold. With a solid illusion, they carry it to their hands. With a proving trail of flame, they inspect it to see if it’s real.

It is.

“You’ve five minutes and counting.”

The man doesn’t smile as he’s wearing a mask, but they think he probably is.

“I’m in need of the Greatest Information Broker. I’ll pay handsomely, of course.”

“Mou. I’m listening.”

He starts talking about the Arcobaleno, a topic he knows little about but it’s still enough for them to get an idea of where this is going. The seven strongest of an era, strongest of what, he doesn’t know, but they’re sure it has to do with flames as they’ve always been people of different specialties. Everyone knows what they’re and they immediately gain respect but it’s also known that there are no records about their identities, as if someone has been erasing every piece of information about them after they leave their post. Thing that is horribly suspicious and they don’t want anything about it, even if they pay him well.

The five minutes pass and before Viper can comment on it, the man takes another piece of gold from their jacket. Then a card appears. It’s an invitation for the Vongola Ball this year, the one Natsu will be in, too. It makes the offer more real as everyone knows if Vongola is involved, it can only be true.

For some reason, they remember the call they made the day before with him, to inform themselves about the companies Natsu has chosen to deal with and to ask what he was calling them for. It was for money, to buy a suit and a mask. Both things he’s obtained in that mysterious way of his. They didn’t comment, not even when his voice became small and he asked for them to meet him when they’re in the same country again, preferably after Christmas he said.

(They don’t know what to think about him. He’s a Sky, which is something they don’t want at the moment, but he’s also warm and nice and has a power that can make money. He also has a powerful Mist at his beck and call, which is annoying as their type can be possessive and competitive at the best of times.)

“If you accept,” the man says, a small sphere appearing on his hand in the same way the card did, “you will need this.”

Then he explains what they need to do.

-

Collonelo is an idiot, she thinks as she paces around the small living room of her little apartment. He’s now in the position he always wanted, a colonel, as he’s always wanted to be after he learned what his name mean and now he’s leaving everything just because she was ‘kicked out’ of COMSUBIN?

It’s an insult to everything she believes in and the worst thing is that he understands that too well. He doesn’t protest when she yells at him, he doesn’t put any defense when she slaps at him. He understands her and her fury and that just makes everything worse.

Lal glances at the phone on top of her couch, an innocent looking thing, as if it hadn’t held her ire when she talked with him, once again asking where she was and what she was doing now. He’s also angry, but his anger isn’t like the hot rage she feels, his is cool and for her. He doesn’t listen to her when she tells her it was her decision to leave, everyone that knew her even for a day could immediately understand she had faith in the military and that she liked it. It wasn’t hard when one can plainly see how hard she trained to be one of the first high ranked women in a place made for males. When one can easily find her records and discover she’s been pressed charges for mission she didn’t go in the first place.

But he can’t tell him it was because of those stupid flames, can’t she?

A Flame user can’t be a part of the military, as those cloaked figures told her. She had the option to leave with her pride but she was foolish and thought to be invincible. She didn’t know how much power the Mafia wielded when everyone thought they were already settling, when everyone said they were soon to be eliminated. That they were nothing like before.

How foolish, indeed.

Now her only venue of work is the one thing she worked to bring down. The Mafia had her clutches on her and she couldn’t escape them. For some reason, every don knew about her and wanted to form a contract with her, her knowledge was valuable after all.

She doesn’t know what to do.

That doesn’t mean she’s naïve, though.

Throwing herself to the side, she takes the gun behind her back and aims to the figure standing next to her door.

She shoots once, twice, and sees the bullet go through his chest, not making any damage at all.

“Who are you?” she hisses, not moving from where she’s crouching behind her couch. He’s not armed but with this whole flames business she’s just learning about, she’s not sure about anything anymore.

“I’m called Chekerface, thought you’d be interest in a job.”

“I’m not,” she answers back, not missing a beat.

“Are you sure?” He motions to the floor next to her wall, where she hasn’t realized she’s thrown her phone towards to. “It seems to me you’re frustrated by your lack of power. Wouldn’t you be interested in a way to gain it back? To obtain the power to be above the Mafia? You want to bring it down, don’t you? I can help you.”

She doesn’t admit how his words struck a chord inside her. “Yeah, and I’m a princess.”

The man chuckles. “It’s good to be skeptic, but when one is in the Mafia one has to learn to believe the impossible.”

“I’m not part of the Mafia.”

“Aren’t you? It’s true that you can choose a job that doesn’t have anything to do with the Mafia or the military, but I don’t think you’re the type to abandon all you worked hard to.”

“And you want me to believe someone wants to help me for the sake of their hearts?”

He pulls out a finger. “I never said that. I simply don’t care what happens to the Mafia, I simply want the Strongest Seven to work for me. You’ll be paid, of course. With money, or with information.”

She slowly pulls her finger of the trigger. “Information?”

“Let me tell you about the Arcobaleno,” he says, pulling another finger and making a card appear between them. “And what are the benefits of forming part of it.”

 -

Renato is not jealous. He’s not jealous of a man with green hair and a stupid lab coat. Dimtr, or Verde as he’s been called in the Mafia circles, is a genius of the kind that appears once in a generation, hailed as the second coming of Davinci, a weapon designer that is taking the Black Market towards a new edge of technology just with a couple of theories and blueprints, whose hadn’t existed five months ago and yet is already making large waves.

He’s not jealous. Not of his stupid intelligence or the way he held Tsuna in his arms when he opened the door. Or the way he started babbling at an incredible pace and managed to put a smile on Tsuna’s lips just with a few words.

He’s not.

Taking a deep breath, he stops from where he’s just jumped to another building. The grip on the bag with his sniper equipment is a familiar weight, the same he’s used a hundred times to kill simple bastards. Like that green-haired man.

He can still see the way Tsuna gave that man a peck before using that weird power of his to turn around and look directly at him. His eyes clearly said, ‘Don’t do this to yourself’ and that is what pisses him off the most. How he can look so concerned towards him and yet… and yet.

With another jump, he ends on an alley, a relative dark one he can move to the next street where his car is waiting for him. A black thing made for practical purposes and to perfectly blend in with others.

He reaches his apartment in ten minutes. He opens the door, placing his bag next to the door and the keys on its bowl as he goes to his office. He gives Leon a look from where he’s on his perch, the orb Tsuna gave next to him. Still intact and one piece. It seems his little friend hasn’t decided yet if to eat it or not. He still nuzzles his head with a finger.

The door is closed as always and that means Tsuna hasn’t entered or he’d have known. He’s supposed to have done this yesterday but he wanted to spend that time with his little Sky. The morning he used it to obtain the information he needed.

Now, he takes the pictures of the people he assassinated while on his trip and puts it on the wall.

Then, with no sign of disturbance, he takes out his gun.

His secondary is Mist so he could feel it since he entered, their presence disturbing the calm Tsuna has put in the apartment even in the room he hasn’t been inside.

“Who’s there?”

“Please, excuse me, Mr. World’s Greatest Hitman,” the figure says, half of his form cloaked by darkness. “So, you’re qualified.”

Renato doesn’t blink.

“Who are you? Who sent you?”

“I came on my own.” The man, for he’s a man now that he can see him slowly leaning against a cane.

He lightly presses the trigger, Sun flames making the weapon lit up. “Don’t move a muscle.”

“Just calm down a moment.” He throws something in the air. Renato sees it from the corner of his eye.

A clear pacifier?

“I’m collecting the World’s Strongest,” he says, the pacifier again in his hands. “I Prescelti Sette.”

He does blink this time. “I Prescelti Sette?”

That old rumor?

“Yes.”

“Is this a commission for work? As a team?”

“You will be compensated. First I want you all to join up.” He pulls out a card. It’s not hard to identify it as it being for the Vongola Ball. “Go there. Meet your colleagues.”

He picks it up and turns it around. The meeting is on Vongola’s neutral ground, the day after the party.

He looks up to see the man gone.

Fucking Mists.

-

The day is coming.

She can see it as clearly as if she were living it. Always the same.

They’re introducing themselves. A confident smirk for Skull accompanied with all his titles in contrast with Lal’s succinct answer is strange to hear when one is directly after the other, but not so much when Verde comes next in the same manner, his tone clearly suggesting they should already know his name. Fon gives a calm smile as he says his name, a ‘pleasure to meet you’ is added, honest even if his eyes are sharp in a way that is of a killer. Viper is next, but even in adult form, Luce can’t be sure if the voice belongs to a male or not, an emotionless face she can’t help but stare at.

He can’t find the future sadistic tutor with a penchant for cosplay in there. A young cocky man is in its place. Confident as the tutor was, but it’s not the same confidence one gains from age.

They’re together. Everyone leaves the pacifiers they were given on top of the table. Every one with a hint of flames. Hers is with flames, too, as everyone who accepted to come was asked to fill the orbs with their flames, sealing their fates.

Then she blinks and another image comes, it’s almost the same, but Reborn and Fong are glaring at Verde, who is clearing ignoring them. Skull is playing with a ring, while Lal watches him, bored. Viper is looking at Skull’s ring too, a thoughtful expression on their face.

She blinks and another appears, this time a bit more into the future, he sees the boy who’s starred in her dreams for a while already. She knows who he is but can quite seem to see his future. Everything about him is shrouded as if hidden from her Sight.

It’s impossible. He’s impossible and yet he’s there.

She blinks, a small sigh escaping past her lips. She Saw before, harmonized and happy for a while, then hated and scorned but determined. She still Sees that future but there’s something else, something she can’t quite grasp.

“I know you’re behind this gap in my Sight,” she says to the air.

A man appears from the ground, a shadow that turns human. He’s wearing traditional Japanese clothes and glasses, white hair fluttering with the air. “I’m the one dealing the cards.”

“You’re cheating.”

“I am.” He walks closer. “I’m trying to get it right this time.”

She turns towards him, her hand going to her stomach. “Getting it right? You’re sacrificing another person’s happiness. You’ll be—”

“While not all martyrs are known, they all have chosen their path willingly.”

“Has he, really?”

“I know he will accept.”

Her fingers curl into a fist. “… They won’t be mine.”

“They’ve never been yours, Luce.”

-

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 12

“Timmy!” Zaid says as soon as he steps out of the plane. Curious, Tsuna peeks outside and indeed, the not-Ninth is there, this time with who looks like a young Visconti. Renato doesn’t tense from where he’s standing but his hand is now resting on the small of Tsuna’s back, his posture relaxed and all but screaming deadly.

He gives him a smile to reassure him everything is okay before following his friend from where he’s chattering Timmy’s ears off.

Visconti spots Renato first and he all but glowers.

Tsuna tilts his head in a silent question and the hitman leans down to whisper in his ear. “Visconti’s weapon of choice are guns. He’s always been a little sore I’m better than him.”

With a small laugh, Tsuna approaches the group. “Hello, Timoteo-san.”

“Natsu, nice to see you here. And Reborn, too. Zaid mentioned you were coming.”

The hitman tilts his fedora up. “A pleasure to see you well as always, Vongola.”

Timoteo’s gaze goes to where Renato’s hand is resting before locking gazes with Tsuna, eyes flicking golden.  He winks at him. “Interesting company you’ve got over here, um?”

“We’re friends,” Tsuna says before the other can make any conclusions. “We’ve met a couple months ago and kind of… hit it off?”

Reborn presses a hand to his chest mockingly. “So unsure. You wound me, little Sky.”

He glares at the man, though he stops when he hears Timoteo chuckling “Friends? Okay, then.” He looks at the car waiting a good couple of steps behind them. “We should probably go. Mother wants to talk to you before the party starts and we want to give you plenty of time to prepare.”

Zaid groans from his spot. “Ugh. I’ve to wear that fancy green suit, right?”

“You do.”

Zaid groans again but Tsuna can see is mostly for show. He seems really happy to be here by Timoteo-san’s side and it’s plain to see for anyone that’s known him as long as Tsuna. So he decides to give them some space, choosing to stay on the back with Renato, following slowly the others.

“You mentioned before you knew Ottava but I didn’t ask before about it. How did you two met?”

The question holds sincere curiosity so after a hesitant moment, he answers, “When I came here I was in a bad place, she gave me good advice and helped me control my flames.”

“Ho? There’s something else there. I can’t see a Mafia Don simply helping someone. What did she had to gain?” At seeing his conflicted, annoyed look, he adds, “No offence to her, of course. She’s a delightful lady from what I’ve seen.”

Tsuna nods, but doesn’t say anything. This time the doubt is stronger and while he knows there’s no picture of the first generation that’s not well hidden that Renato will see to compare him to Primo, he’s still unsure. He doesn’t want the man to know how close is his relation to Vongola. Even so, he feels the hitman deserves to know a little.

“I’m family.”

The other hums, fedora shadowing his eyes. “You don’t mean Family.”

“No.” 

“Then it’s weirder how that was the first time you met and not before.”

He looks to the side. “I’m Japanese, remember? I may not be close family, but I still have Vongola blood.”

“Interesting.”

“That doesn’t change anything, right?” Tsuna asks, looking ahead, not daring to see Renato’s face. When the silence stretches for a second longer he can’t resist peeking. The other’s face is blank but at locking gazes, a small, real smile appears on his lips. Just for him.

“I’m still yours.”

Tsuna feels a flush rising on his cheeks. “We already had this conversation.”

“I’m quite sure we didn’t. You said something about explaining later.”

He sighs as if the weight of the world has settled on his shoulders before giving the man a soft look. “I know.”

-

The car comes to a stop in front of a huge metallic door with curved designs along the edges, the Vongola symbol at its center. They open and the car enters the estate, which is as incredible as the first time he came, like entering a different world, with its gardens filled of trees that seem small next to the mansion, green and full unlike the dead ones that can be found outside. It seems winter hasn’t touched the plants. It doesn’t surprise him that Vongolas ignores the weather and its consequences like it does with physics laws. He’s gotten too used to it to even react.

(He’s become jaded)

After ten minutes they reach the mansion itself where a couple of people are waiting. Tsuna ignores it for a second, more concentrated with the familiar feel one of the birds on top of a blue roof gives. It looks at him with too intelligent eyes before going off. He’s pretty sure its black plumage shone indigo.

“Tsuna?” Renato whispers close to his ear.

He shakes his head. “It’s nothing.”

The other man lets it go and chooses to get out first to help him out, which is unnecessary but he still accepts the hand, trying to ignore the way his thumb traces his pulse for a second too long. However, unlike pressing close to him, he stays at a safe distance away, keeping the door open like a buttler as Zaid, Visconti and Timoteo-san get out. He doesn’t touch their hands.

When one of Ottava’s guardians, a lady called Luisa, informs him she’s the one who will take him to see the Vongola boss, Renato asks about their shooting facilities and if he can use them. When he receives a positive he goes away, not even giving him a glance.

Weird.

Luisa, as she said, is the one who leads him to the study where the Vongola boss is at the moment. She’s silent and her way of walking reminds her of Renato and Hibari, a dangerous person that doesn’t bother to hide it, unlike Fon. She’s short, almost his height, with her hair long and light blonde, almost white. She turns her face to him, letting him know she knows he’s staring, and smirks. Her brown eyes flash blue.

Squalo has the same smirk. It scares the crap out of him.

He’s glad when she finally leads him to a door. Not so much when she walks right behind him.

“Ottava-san,” Tsuna says, bowing as soon as he sees her. “Thank you for inviting me to the Ball.”

“I think I told you to call me Daniela, Tsunayoshi.”

He smiles at the mention of his name, always happy to hear it nowadays even if it is without the suffix. “I’m sorry, Otta—Daniela-san.”

She smiles, her golden eyes wrinkling. She’s wearing a dark brown suit with a white shirt underneath, similar style to the red one she met him with. Her gray hair is tied into a tidy ponytail, with only a couple bangs framing her face, making her look younger than she is.

They look at each other for a long while, taking into the changes they have gone through since they’ve last met.

“You don’t look seventeen,” she starts, giving their small stand off an end.

“I didn’t look fifteen when we met wither.”

“Indeed you looked younger. Now, you seem to have aged so much since then.”

He looks down, brows furrowing. He does look as if he were in his twenty’s but he likes to ignore it. Not that he can do that with Daniela-san. She knows too much already. “That’s the Sky’s pacifier’s toll.”

“It takes your life force,” she murmurs, her eyes lighting up in understanding and sadness. “I thought it wouldn’t do that as you’re not the actual Sky Arcobaleno.”

“We were wrong.”

“That we were.”

The silence comes back again, both lost in their thoughts. It’s not uncomfortable but Tsuna admits if he doesn’t break it soon he’s going to start brooding. Fortunately, Daniela-san is the one to do it.

“I talked with Chekerface.”

… That’s not what he expected to hear. “Um.”

“He asked me for the Arcobaleno to meet in one of the neutral houses we’ve inside the Fort especially made for meetings.”

His Intuition starts wailing in the back of his head, like a child mourning the loss of their parent.

He sits up straighter. “You told him no.”

Even as soon as he says it he knows what her answer is going to be.

“He’d have done it in another place had I not accepted. Nothing would have changed.”

He wants to say that it would, but he knows better.

She huffs, crossing her arms across her chest, she seems to be annoyed at herself. “I don’t like it either, but my Intuition went off when I thought of denying him. I know better than going against it.”

“I understand,” he says because he does. Doesn’t mean he likes it. “I’ve got questions though.”

“Ask away. If I can disclose information, I will.”

There’s discomfort practically oozing from Luisa, who’s standing at the back of Daniela-san’s chair. But she doesn’t say anything to interrupt them.

“Please tell me everything about that meeting. I know the man but it’s been so long since then. I don’t know his plans.”

“And that scares you.”

A second of hesitation passes before he nods.

“He didn’t explain much. I was asked to host the Arcobaleno and present them as such in the Ball. Everyone will know of their presence even if not their identities. Though people are not stupid, they will know who most are because most of the Arcobaleno are already well-known”

“I get it. What I’m worried about is that it means Checkerface already contacted them and…”

Renato hasn’t said anything. Not that he’s obliged to share everything with him, but they’re friends, aren’t they?

“The man you came with. He probably didn’t tell you because he doesn’t want you to dwell more into our world.”

He starts. How did she—?

Her eyes shine with mirth. “It’s written all over your face, little Sky.”

“That doesn’t explain how you knew he was one of the Arcobaleno,” he almost snaps.

She raises an eyebrow. “He’s well known among our circles. The Greatest Hitman, they call him. And a couple know he’s a strong Sun. Is not hard to put two and two together.”

He grumbles halfheartedly before letting out a soft sigh. “Sorry, I’m just worried about them.

“I take you know some of them?”

He gives her a tight smile. “I’ve met everyone, but one. I consider most of them precious friends.”

“Wasn’t that your objective?”

“My goal was to find a way to fix the arcobaleno curse.”

“And you thought you didn’t need them to do that?” she says in a soft tone. “You told me you were going to follow your intuition. Your intuition led you to them, right?”

Tsuna hesitates. She takes her silence as an answer.

“Your intuition is stronger than mine, follow it.”

“It’s just… I don’t like where it’s leading me.”

“And where’s it that?”

He swallows. It takes him two times before he can talk. “Here. Without a way to return to the future. As the Sky Arcobaleno.”

She doesn’t show her shock, she’s too skilled to do it, but he can see the hint of pity in her eyes.

Don’t pity me. I chose to give up whatever I needed the moment I went through that portal.”

“Then why do you look so unsure?”

“I shouldn’t, you’re right.” He looks up at her, eyes hard. “I’m not.”

She smiles at him, this time open and honest. “I’m glad.”

Tsuna blinks before smiling back. “Thanks.”

This time the silence is nice, even Luisa is smiling, even if her smile has too many teeth to be a nice one.

“And now what are you going to do?”

“I’ll follow my intuition as always. And if I’ve to stay, well, it doesn’t matter.”

“It does matter. Though I’m happy to hear you’re at least sharing your problems.”

“You kind of are one of the only people I can be completely honest with.”

“That’s not true and you know it, Tsunayoshi.”

He holds his head between his hands, suddenly weary. “… Yeah.”

“You seem tired, do you want some help with that?”

“Um?” He looks up. “Er, sure.”

She taps her chin with a finger. “Maybe winding out will be good. My son recently gained a Cloud and he’s been itching for a good fight in weeks. What do you think?”

Dread settles inside his stomach at the carefree request—as if two people beating each other is a perfect way of relaxing.

With how normal she seems to be at times (classic method of misdirection), he forgets she’s a Vongola through and through. He’s learned to associate that word with crazy, he shouldn’t have lowered his guards.

“Do you think it’s wise? The Ball starts in a couple of hours.”

She stands up, whole body lighting up at the mention of a fight. “It’ll be perfectly fine. Why. If these old bones would let me I would fight you myself.”

The horrific thing is that his Intuition tells him is that all she’s saying is true.

He swallows. “I can’t accept, Daniela-san. I promised Re—Reborn to join him at the shooting range.”

Her eyes shine golden and he knows she doesn’t believe him. Something that sounds weirdly like Lambo says ‘busted’ inside his mind. But even with that raised eyebrow telling him how easy he’s to read, Tsuna doesn’t back off.

She sighs around a smile. “I’ll call one of my men to accompany you to there then.”

Tsuna bows lightly in thanks and turns around to open the door.

“Tsuna.” He doesn’t turn around. That tone is too serious for him to want to catch a glimpse of it. “Remember that the Arcobaleno will be at the Ball. It’ll be their debut. I recommend you to not hang with any of them. If others see you together they will assume you’re their Sky.”

He nods stiffly, opening the door to see a man already waiting for him outside.

“It was nice talking to you, Daniela-san.”

“Likewise, Tsunayoshi.”


 

Renato is indeed at the shooting range. He stops his practice as soon as he senses him close. The man, Andrea, who he’s learn will be his handler for the duration  of his stay, hands him those weird earplugs that muffle sound he’s seen so many times in movies.

They leave them alone and as soon as the door closes, Renato motions him forward.

He takes Daniela-san’s word to the heart but considering there’s no one here, he thinks it’s safe if they’re together now. So he goes to the hitman and doesn’t stop him when he start moving him into a position.

“Ever fired a gun?”

Tsuna shakes his head and Renato moves behind him in a total cliché way. He knows it too going by his amused smile. Not that it stops his fingers from lingering across his arms before they settle on his hands, adjusting his grip. His back is pressed to Renato’s chest in such a way he could easy lean against it without difficulty. A leg moves between his feet to correct his stance but after its work is done, it doesn’t move away.

Renato’s breath tickles the back of his neck as he says “Fire.”

Tsuna obeys, the recoil sending him against Renato’s chest in surprise. He felts it rumbling against his back in a quiet laugh. Tsuna’s hands are trembling because of the surprise but the laugh makes him relax so they soon stop.

“You tensed your arms before you pulled the trigger. That can be dangerous. Be careful.”

With a nod, he tries again, and again until he can at least shot the paper in the form of a human. He’s sweating by the time he’s done but that doesn’t stop Renato from pulling him close, a soft look in his eyes.

“We can’t be together in the Ball,” Renato says.

“I know.”

“You do?”

“Daniela-san told me.”

“Is Daniela now, huh? You dog.”

He feels his cheeks becoming redder. “We’re family, stop it.”

A soft laugh. It immediately calms him. It wasn’t long ago when Renato showed only sadistic smirks and empty smiles. It’s nice to know the man is more relaxed around him.

“You didn't tell me you were invited to join the Arcobaleno.”

He feels a shrug coming from behind him. “It’s an old story among the Mafia, didn’t know you knew of it. Actually, how do you know of it?”

The hand with the bandage tickles, a clear mark of the Arcobaleno in it. He wants to tell his friend everything, from his trip to the past to their meeting. However he finds himself tongue-tied, insecurity builds in him.

“Please don’t go,” he finds himself blurting, surprised by his own vehemence. At least his Intuition is silent, not going against him. Though maybe that may be because it’s responding to what he wants more. And what he wants is for his friends to be safe.

Renato tenses. “You know something.”

It’s too late now, but he still can say it out loud, not here where the walls can hear and there’s no Daniela-san reassuring him their talk will be private. “Not here. It has to do with what I need to tell you though.”

He doesn’t care if he’s breaking time. He’ll find other way to stop the curse. He can’t let them be cursed. He can’t.

“I—“

The door handle turns and immediately Renato steps away from him, moving in less than a second to the other stall. A man with a distracted air enters and looks between some stuff in the back, not even giving them a glance. It only takes a couple minutes to find whatever he's looking and by then Tsuna is calm again. The man goes to the door, but this time he stops and looks back at them. “The party will start in two hours, by the way.”

“Thanks,” mutters Tsuna.

As soon as the man closes the door, Renato is already by his side.

“We can have this conversation later.” He holds him again between his arms. “Will you promise me to be careful without me out there with you?”

He knows his friend is worried so he nods. “Daniela-san has told me one of her people will accompany me.”

“Are they strong?”

“I haven’t met them yet.”

Renato hums as nuzzles his cheek.

“I need to take a shower,” Tsuna says, but doesn’t push his arms away from where they surround his form.

“And I need some of your expresso,” he murmurs in the crock of his neck.

Tsuna shuffles awkwardly, a faint pink on his cheeks. “I did bring the stuff I need to make you a cup.”

“You did?” Renato asks, lifting up his head to get a good look of him. When he nods, his answering smile is blinding. And real. It’s so distracting he doesn’t even react when he gives him a brief kiss on his lips, a peck that lasts. It’s sweet in a way he didn’t think Renato could be. Unlike his pushing nature, he’s soft when he tries to coax his lips to part and follow his lead.

And god, but does he follow. He knows it hasn't been long since he was kissed, but this is relaxing without the possessive edge and awe he feels when kissing.

It’s Reborn! I’m kissing Reborn! The lizard-primitive part of his brain he likes to call his self-preservation instincts screams. It makes his head dizzy but so does the way Renato deepens the kiss, tongue coming in and licking the roof of his mouth. Calloused fingers tilt his head until it’s at the perfect angle, pulling him close.

Renato unsurprisingly tastes of coffee, it’s bitter like he likes it and Tsuna is drowning on it. His breath hitches when his palm cups the back of his head and he can soon smell his cologne this up close, barely strong enough to be noticeable. He likes it.

He hears a moan as Renato’s other hand grabs his hip, their bodies now pressed together.

He yelps back when he realizes he’s the one who moaned. Reborn lets him go but does it slowly, biting his lower lip at last. Tsuna takes a deep breath, feeling himself panting with one hand around Renato’s neck and the other pulling at his tie.

He steps away while trying to fix the other man’s clothes, noticing how wrinkled they are. “Um.”

“It was a nice thank you gift, wasn’t it?”

Tsuna can even look at him in the eye. He just kissed Reb—wait, no. Renato is not Reborn, he repeats to himself. So with a nod and a mental pat, Tsuna looks up at his friend and opens his mouth to clarify some things about the sudden turn of their relationship.

Sadly, Renato beats him to it.

“I didn’t do it to Harmonize with you. I just wanted to kiss you. That’s the only reason.”

Oh.

His intention buzzes.

“You’re lying.”

The hitman shrugs lazily. “Well, I admit that I want you to stop looking to someone else when you’re looking at me.”

“What?”

“You do the same with Fong. Or did, at least. You just started doing the same with me before my trip. I don’t like it.”

Tsuna doesn’t know what to say. It’s obvious now that Renato would notice, he always knows. With Fong is different as he saw Hibari-san in him before he learned to separate them (that their personalities are poles apart helped), but it’s hard sometimes to look at Renato and not see Reborn, his tutor and friend. He constantly wonders where one facet starts and where one finishes. And although Reborn had once been Renato, he suppressed his memories of his past self so they both are different people, he has to remind himself of that. It’s not fair to Renato to try to find his tutor in him.

He looks at Renato, at his friend. “You’re right. I’m sorry. If you catch me doing it again, you’ve my permission to knock some sense into me.” He thinks his words over and adds hastily, “Be gentle though.”

The smile he receives is predatory as he purrs, “I think I just showed you gentle.”

He looks down, forcing himself not to blush at the reminder. Though… “The kiss kind of helped me separate you two,” he mumbles.

“Ho? Does that mean that this person I remind you of is nothing more than a friend?”

Tsuna goes white at even thinking of having a relationship with Reborn. It’s not the baby form that disturbs him (not so much, at least) but the man himself. He can even think of them both dating without shuddering. There’ll probably be chaos waiting for them at every turn.

“That’s quite the expression you’re wearing. And I remind you of this guy?”

He looks up to find an honest bemused expression on Renato’s face. “He likes chaos.”

Renato blinks. “Okay, I can see it now then. He must be super cool for you to end up this traumatized.”

The heart wrenching despair must be shown on his face because Renato laughs openly and ruffles his hair. “If you need help in distinguishing both of us then you just need to ask for help.”

Before he can say a simple ‘huh?’, he’s being pulled into another kiss, a short but still breathtaking one. It ends with Renato sliding his fingers across a flushed cheek, murmuring ‘mine’ right next to his ear as he leaves a small peck on his jaw.

Tsuna touches his lips when he steps back, feeling them tingly and wet in a nice way. Not that he would ever admit it.

Going on by Renato’s face, he already knows.

Damnit.


 

There’s a knock on his door. Three knocks, actually. Lazy but purposeful.

It’s weird because no one but Daniela-san and her guardians know what his room is, not even Zaid. And though she said she would send someone to escort him, it’s too early for that. He also doesn’t think any of her Guardians need something important from him as his Intuition hasn’t gone off. They must be busy with the Ball’s last details, too.

Oh well, it can’t be anything too bad if his Intuition is so quiet about it. He can just catch a glimpse of happy buzzing.

The lock is a simple one, but the hard wood of the door serves its purpose of keeping someone from getting in. Not that he expects trouble.

(He feels an odd sense of déjà vu)

He opens the door with a smile on his face.

It immediately falls when he sees Daemon wearing his usual smirk.

“Wa—What are you doing here?!” he hisses as he pulls the man inside. Looking outside to make sure no one has seen the ghost Mist Guardian. He turns to Daemon as soon as he closes the door. “Are you crazy? People will recognize—what.”

He gives the man a once over. The previous clothes he was wearing, which were identical to the ones he wore when they fought, is now a black suit similar to his own, his long hair free for the first time in a long while with a mask with a long nose and indigo engravings.

He knows where this is going.

“Daemon, no.”

The man’s smirk widens. “Daemon yes.”

He facepalms.


 

The Vongola Christmas Ball, one of the most sought events of the year, not only for the opulence it shows, but by opportunities it gives. Young Mafiosi and new famiglie use it for their debuts in their society. The old blood use it to show off and gain information. It's not surprising for others to try and make contacts either as it's the only time of the year that the European high ranked of Mafia get together. One could even say that's one of its goals.

And Vongola always hosts it.

Tsuna has heard of it in his time, has been told by Reborn he one day will manage it. However, one thing is hearing about it and another is seeing it. He unashamedly admits he's awed by what he sees and is glad the mask he wears cowers the lower part of his face, without it everyone would’ve been able to see his gaping mouth.

The ballroom is more of a series of connected rooms, similar to a long white hallway, each with a balcony of its own with crystal open doors framed by long, golden curtains. The entire space is incredible in its splendour but the first he can't help but see upon entering is the beautiful chandelier hanging in the centre of the biggest room, the gems twinkling like stars on the sky. And to give it a more Victorian look, hundreds of well-dressed people, all wearing colourful masks.

Amazing.

A large hand covers his own, snapping him out of his mussings. He looks up just in time to see Daemon leaning towards him, being careful to not let the large nose of his mask bump onto him.

“Is there a reason we've stopped walking, little Sky?” he asks with an amused smile in his lips.

Tsuna looks behind. Indeed, there are a couple who even through the masks look annoyed.

He's ready to bow and ask forgiveness when the grip on his hand tightens, stopping him.

Daemon walks forward and nods at the people, guiding them with a stretched arm. “My apologies. Please, continue.”

When they’re gone, Daemon leans in again. “Remember you’re in a Mafia Ball and you’re a Sky; you mustn’t show weakness.”

Tsuna is sure Daemon can’t see his panicked expression through his mask, but he still tries to convey his feelings to the ghost.

He helds up a hand. “Stop. You can actually showcase your emotions through your flames if you try too hard.”

Tsuna stops. “Oh.”

“Let's get going then.”

They walk towards one of the balconies, Daemon most likely knowing how uncomfortable he is at the moment. His hand now resting on the crock of his arm. It kind grounds him to the reality of all this experience and he's glad for the first time that he’s here, with him.

Convincing Daniela-san to let Daemon escort him wasn’t easy, especially when no one had noticed the man entered the mansion. Mentioning he's a powerful Mist hadn't helped matters, though it did clear some of them out. She still wanted to provide him with an escort but Daemon's silvertongue helped them. The way the man manouvered the situation out of Daniela-san's hands without her noticing spoke of the man's age and cunning.

It frightened him. It made him wonder how many times he’s been played so masterfully to obtain what Daemon wanted like that. He can count a couple but those aew so obvious he may as well have done it purposefully to gain his trust.

It gives him a headache. Daemon is a headache.

“I feel as if I’m being insulted,” Daemon hums.

“It wasn’t me,” he answers perhaps a bit too quickly.

The Mists laughs in that weird way of his.

Luckily, they already reached the balcony and it's empty. Everyone is inside as the opening of the Ottava is near. She told him that that’s the time she greets everyone and gives a couple of important news. Probably about the Arcobaleno appearing and other Mafia things.

He doesn’t want to hear it.

It's not denial if he'll make sure it doesn’t happen.

Tsuna leans against the reailing as soon as they are outside, Daemon choosing to following by his side. It’s comfortable with a couple seconds, with the man looking up at the dark sky while Tsuna inspects the man before him.

Tsuna is a Sky, his property is harmonization and that means sometimes feeling when something isn’t harmonized, like Daemon is. He feels incomplete, unlike how an alive person be. Too faint for that. But there’s power in his, he´s made of power. It’s well-hidden, showing only what others expect to see, but Tsuna fought him once. He knows pretty well the feel of the flames of the people he fought with. That and Daemon probably doesn’t bother too hard to hide from him.

He realizes Daemon’s head is now turned towards him and… he’s been staring for how long?

Damnit, he thought he was done with being creepy.

He grasps the first conversation topic that occurs him. “So, uh, Renato kissed me.”

“He did? Just now?” he asks, not surprised at all. “Weren’t you living with him? I though he would be quicker in his advances.”

Tsuna swallows down the indignant splutter that wants to go out. “He wouldn’t have taken advantage.”

Daemon raises a perfect eyebrow. “He's a well-known Casanova.”

“That doesn’t mean anything!” he hisses, indignant on his friend’s behalf.

“True. It’s obvious he wants your relationship to last. If he really wanted you in his bed, his methods of seduction would have done the job pretty quickly.” He winks at him. “He has a reputation, you know.”

Tsuna silently grumbles.

“I don’t know why you’re looking so annoyed. You were the one who started the conversation.”

Tsuna looks at him from the corner of his glowing eyes, gaze far too piercing. “I kind of wanted advice.”

The honesty of Tsuna's words seem to have an effect on Daemon as there a small hint of disbelief—a real emotion—as he asks, “From me?”

“You've lived for very long, and… I want to trust you.”

Daemon chuckles as he pats his head codescendendingly. “Ah, to be young. And naïve. I wonder if I was like you at your age.”

“You were, I'm sure. It's okay to admit it.”

A huff. “Well, let’s hear what you want that advice for. I’m guessing it has to do with the kiss, yes?”

Tsuna slowly nods. “You told me new bonds then to be, uh, clingy? And if it's forced like the one between Verde and me then our hormones tend to make us want to do physical stuff.”

“I used other words, but yes.”

“Okay, so, I haven’t harmonized with Renato, why would he—I mean, he kissed me!” At the end of the words his head is between his arms, which he discovers is a bad idea to do when one's wearing a mask. It kind of hurts.

Daemon, the prick, laughs. It's a surprised laugh though, a real one, nothing more than a couple huffed breaths. “Idiot.”

“Hey!”

He can feel Daemon rolling his eyes even if he can’t see it. “Haven’t you tought that it may be because he simply likes you? You’re not bad to look at, either.”

Tsuna blushes, glad he’s wearing the mask to hide his flaming cheeks.

“… But I’m No-good Tsuna. I understand Verde because harmonization, but why people like Renat o or Fong would like—”

“Ask them. If you really want to know, only they can tell you what they feel.” He then suddenly smirks. “Though it looks like a game from outside, you’ve got to admit.”

Tsuna scrunches his nose. “What are you talking abo—”

And then Daemon’s leaning in, hands swiftly moving both masks away. Tsuna's facing the Ball while Daemon's puts his up his head. His eyes glows with the Spade symbol, the dim light making it look eery. There's mirth in his eyes, honest playfulness.

Maybe is that sincere expression that stops him from pushing him away. Unlike the other times he's been kissed he was nervous because they were serious, but this feels like a game, as Daemon said—Daemon isn't interested in him like the others are.

That's why he leans forward.

(That and he's curious. He's never kissed a solid illusion)

It's over as soon as it starts, nothing more than a playful kiss. His lips are cold, unlike his mouth which is warm and the only thing that feels human of him.

It's like tasting fire, but cool. All energy and control like no other. It's just a second but it's still enough to leave him lightheaded. There's something else, too. Something that tastes metallic, like blood.

They step back, wach looking at the other consideringly, just a hair of space between their faces. However that soon is over when a tentacle appears between them.

Soon enough, their masks are in their place, but none are in ready positions to fight. Daemon because he's too confident in his abilities; Tsuna, because he knows the person behind the Mist Flames.

“Mou. You owe me for saving you against sexual assault. Five hundred will do.”

“He was not—”

Five bills of one hundred appear on Daemon's hand. He offers it to the miser, before making appear the same quantity again. “This is for future occurrences.”

Mona accepts it with a nod. Their head tilts towards him. “Follow me.”

Tsuna mentally stumbles for a moment, not knowing what to do. He looks at Daemon but that man only nods to where Mona is standing. “You're the boss, little Sky.”

“Uh, right. Let's follow… her?”

Tsuna gives Mona another look. She's still wearing the same dark cloak that covers most of their head. The only difference being the simple black mask with inverted triangles on their cheeks she’s wearing. What makes him think Mona’s chose to be female this time is the faint curve of her hips and the delicates angles of her mask, its lips painted a bright indigo.

She motions them forward with a dip of her head and they follow.

“So how are you doing, Mona?” Tsuna asks when some time passes and the miser doesn’t offer explanations.

“Call me Mammon here.”

“Oh, okay.” When no answers comes, Tsuna walks ahead until they’re walking side by side. “Mammon?”

He can’t see her expression but he just knows when he's on the receiving end of a frosty glare.

She turns he head to look ahead. “This is the Mist friend you mentioned giving you Mamoru?”

“Well—”

“I can speak for my self, you know. And yes, I’m that Mist friend.”

Tsuna gives him a wild, incredulous look but Daemon’s stern glare stops him from putting his foot in his mouth. “Yeah, he is… Misuto.”

Daemon tilts his mask aside enough to give him a deadpan expression that clearly shows how unimpressed he’s by his naming abilities.

At least it isn’t Kiri, he thinks bitterly, or Misty.

Moma stops to turn towards them. She’s looking at Daemon. “I want one a familiar, too.”

“My apologies, my dear but—”

This time he’s the one cutting Daemon off. “I can give you yours later, if you want. I’ve the ‘eggs’ here with me.”

Some of the tension Mammon was sporting bleeds off at that comment. She extends her palm up but Tsuna shakes his head. “It’s better to wait where there are less people around. Search me when the Ball is over.”

She nods and turns around, cutting their conversation short.

He gives Daemon a look as he whispers, “She was mad at me.”

“Ah, you could notice?”

“Intuition.”

“Yes, well. Mists tend to be competitive between each others. She may not see you as her Sky, but she does see you as an unbounded Sky she’s working with. She doesn’t like others sniffing in her territory.”

Tsuna blinks. “That sounds more like what a Cloud would think.”

“You seem to forget Mists are earth-bound clouds.”

“Right,” he murmurs looking down, trying to see the logic in Daemon’s words. After a while, he gives up. He looks up at him again. “Uh, so why did you do that?”

“Did what?” the Mist answers, distracted by what, he doesn’t know.

“Well… Why did you kiss me?”

“Is not something deep like your suitor's reason, I've to tell you.” Daemon snickers, a small board appearing in his hands with four names written on it, each but one with a sticker under. “Fong is already mad Verde has harmonized with you. He will be madder when he realizes Renato kissed you. Imagine what will he be like when he finds out someone else kissed you too?”

Tsuna looks at him open-mouthed (not that he can see him), but soon he recovers, at least enough to punch him lightly on his arm.

“Is not funny.” He looks at the board that puff out of existence. “Hey, would you tell me how to use Mist Flames?”

Daemon tilts his head, his face (or what he can see of it) looking neutral. Before Tsuna starts fidgeting, Mammon interrupts them.”I will teach you. For the familiar, of course. I don't like owing at someone.”

Daemon smirks at him, tilting his head towards Mammon in a way that say ‘I told you so’. Not that he cares at the moment. He's going to learn to use Mist flames! “Awesome.”

Mammon nods.

“So, I feel like I should’ve asked this first but, where are we going?”

“A new Don wants to talk to you.”

Tsuna’s steps falter. Daemon by his side tenses. “What do you mean? No one but the Vongola knows who I am. Not even you knows who I am.”

She gives him a look. “I’m an information Broker. They gave me a description and I told them I would bring you to them in the middle of the Ball as she doesn’t know anything besides that you’re a Sky with orange eyes and a bandaged hand.”

“A public place where everyone is wearing masks. Clever”, Daemon murmurs, calm.

Tsuna doesn’t feel like that. He feels its complete opposite. Someone is interested enough in him to know of how he looks?

He’s nervous.

Far too soon they find themselves in an isolate corner close to a balcony. The chandelier of the room is smaller than the main room but not less beautiful. Tsuna wants to be able to appreciate it but he can’t not when his intuition is weirdly silent in the back of his head.

He momentarily stops, not because of the beautiful woman, who is clearly the boss by the aura she gives off and the faint accents of orange in her blue dress contrasting with her dark skin, but because of one the people standing close to her.

Even with that simple domino mask, he can know who it is thanks to the Fedora and the yellow shirt.

Renato is here with a potential enemy.

Chapter Text

Chapter 13

 

(The 25th of December, 1982 –Saturday, night)

Renato loves people.

He’s loved them since he was a small kid and saw a little girl crying after someone passing by, a man with the most awful hair ever, accidentally knocked off her doll. He doesn’t remember his face, but he does remember the way he knelt down to grab the toy. His honest awkward expression was unlike the confident look people his neighborhood always tried to portray. He doesn’t remember what he thought at the moment but he does remember turning to see the girl slowly stop crying. Her face slowly going from anguish to confusion before settling it into something akin to thankful.

At seeing her face, he wondered if he was the same. Did he also wear his face on his sleeve? While he hoped not, at the same time, that day, he realized then how fascinating, how different and interesting people were.

His memory of that moment is oddly clear for the impact it had in his life. After that, he started going to parks to sit on a bench and watch people whenever he had the time and his mother would let him. Those times, people had come back from a war and happiness was difficult to get when you were piss poor, but that’s what he felt whenever he went down the street to people watch, his favorite pastime: happy.

The time passed with him trying to gauge the relationships between people and what kind of life they had.

He still does it. He merely realized he loves more bringing chaos to the same people he  watches.  The reactions he obtains because of it are always gold.

In direct contrast to it, he hates when he’s the cause of other’s amusement because of his reactions. That’s why he’s trained his body to only show what he wants it to show.  And he’s damn good at it, he says so himself. But there are times even he makes mistakes.

A perfect example would be now. He feels somewhat annoyed because he knows his lips parted involuntarily in a show of surprise at seeing him. Renato is standing next to Mafer, dancing around the topic this dance seems to be about: who could be one of the Arcobaleno. Is he the Sun Arcobaleno, she asks, with that glint in her eye that hints she already knows the answer.

Usually, he would avoid the subject with a silver-tongued skill he's glad he's gained over the years. This time is different and he can't help his distraction. He immediately ignores her question as Tsuna walks inside the ballroom. Beautiful in his walk, posture confident and so unlike him. While he’s known Tsuna would attend, he expected to see him as he always does, with that shy demeanor that usually annoys him but he can’t help but find it endearing on him.

Not like this as he's never seen him, dressed sharp and to charm. All in black, with only an orange shirt denoting his position as a Sky. A mask so unlike the ones that are common in Italy soil covering all his face with a demonic face.

And damn, does he look good in a suit. And Renato loves suits, he's never hidden this. This just confirms his love has developed into some kind of kink since, apparently, he loves Tsuna wearing suits even more.

He regrets now using a simple domino mask instead of a complete one.

(He really doesn’t. He looks damn hot as he is now.)

While he couldn’t help opening his mouth, he bites back the smirk that wants to form with expert ease. Stopping his feet from walking forward to meet his little Sky is a bit harder but not impossible. After all, a moment of weakness is permitted. Two? Never.

However, what is surprising is seeing him walking towards him. He wants to frown, didn't they agree to not meet each other? Tsuna's not stupid, he knows—He knows he’s made a mistake the second he sees Tsuna stop a couple of steps away from where they are. Confusion and dread settle in his gut at the action, causing him to visibly frown.

He then realizes he's been ignoring Mafer for two whole seconds. As a small as his slip up is, Mafer still notices. Her gaze is on Tsuna, too. She connects the dots, coming to the right—and hopefully not obvious—conclusion.

“Oh. So he’s the one you were talking about before, Reborn?” She says with that smooth voice of hers. Her brows aren’t visible because of her mask but there’s a small frown that can still be seen. She's curious.

Renato can deny it and look defensive or go on as if her words haven’t affected him.

His choice is clear as he calmly moves forward. With a care many would not associate with him, he grabs Tsuna’s bandaged hand.  He brushes a finger across the soft material before kissing  his knuckles, head bowed  slightly in deference as he does so.  The kiss doesn’t last as he doesn’t want others to know of their connection. He still makes sure to send a jolt of flames through his little Sky to gain his attention though.

“Tesoro,” he whispers low enough for only them to hear. He then motions him with their still linked fingers towards Mafer. Luckily, Tsuna doesn't react in any negative way, merely choosing to tilt his head to the side as he follows his lead. “Ozora, this is Maria Fernanda, head of the Zevallos famiglia. Maria Fernanda, this is Ozora.”

Her eyes are uncharacteristically cold as she extends her own hand for Tsuna to kiss.

Renato doesn’t miss the way Tsuna's frame stiffens at the sight of her ring resting on her finger. It's the same of last time, a white gem with wings at its sides. Going on by the way her smile tightens, she does too. But what’s odd about the situation is what happens next. Like in their previous meeting, she unfocusses her gaze to the side, as if searching for something no one can't see. Her head turns slowly from one direction to the other with careful movements for a few seconds, eyes lost and vast.

It doesn't last long. When she comes out of her trance, he can see the determination in her eyes even with the mask casting shadows on them.

He knows that whatever comes next, it'll be blunt. It's a thing about Mafer that he likes. She doesn’t beat around the bush and he can respect that.

This time it makes him want to grind his teeth together.

“Who are you, really?” she asks, a faint hint of hostility in her tone. She seems surprised by her own voice as she clears her throat and softly, “My apologies if I act rash, but—I can’t see you."

The vehemence in her tone triggers him off. Without thinking, he steps in front of Tsuna, a finger twitching in anticipation. He doesn't have a gun but that doesn't make him any less deadly.

“I don’t know what you mean though. shouldn’t I be asking you that?” Tsuna asks, honest confusion in his voice. Then with a lower tone, he whispers, “You knew enough about how I looked to find me."

"It was difficult to get, too. Perhaps we can talk in a more private place about it?"

Tsuna starts nodding but then he stops, his head turning towards Renato. "Reborn can stay. And Mo-I mean, Viper, too. It concerns them as you should know."

Her lips thin. "It's not the time for them to know."

"Then let's make the time," Tsuna says, earnest. He doesn't know her and yet, her opinion seems to matter to him.

"You don't know what you're talking about."

Tsuna steps forward, but Mafer's Lightning does too. It stops him from advancing any more towards her Sky. Tsuna takes a deep breath. "Then explain me. Please."

"... I will. But only to you."

"And me, too," says the man standing behind Tsuna, his tone too casual to not be aware of what’s going on. "Good afternoon. I'm Oozora's associate."

Mafer frowns but still presents her hand for the man to kiss. "Another person you're involving?"

Tsuna clenches his fist at her tone as the man with the ponytail moves forward to kiss Mafer's knuckles. His free arm expertly hidden from their eyes for a brief moment. Going by the way Tsuna relaxes, it must have been some sort of physical contact.

He doesn't like that man.  

Renato's speaking aloud before he knows he's aware he's doing it, "And who are you, may I ask?

The eyeholes of the man's mask glint, eyes appearing to have some type of heterochromia. He seems amused as he gives Tsuna a glance. "You may call me Misuto."

He’s not even made an attempt to hide the fact that is a made-up name. It literally means Mist in Japanese. Tsuna shuffles in his spot, announcing to the world who is the one who came up with it. It would be cute if it wasn't infuriating.

The little Sky clears his throat. "Misuto knows everything there's to know about the situation."

Yes, he definitely doesn't like that man.

"So there's no need to move, I can shield us fine." The Mist waves a hand and in the next moment, the sound around them diminishes considerably. Reborn tries to poke at the barrier with his own secondary Mist flames but doesn't find anything, not even a trace of flames. That's worrying.

"You're pretty strong," he says idly, posture loosening in case he needs to attack. A memory of a yellow bento appears in his mind. Different food and tastes all accompanied with Tsuna’s shy smile and a comment of his ‘chef’ friend. He bites down the curse that wants to come out. "Wouldn't you be a cook, too?"

The Mist shrugs regally, a weird laugh coming out of his mouth. "I'm a man of many talents."  

Tsuna sighs, his hand going to the bridge of his nose for a second before letting it go. "I think that covers it, then? We can talk now."

Mafer glances at the other Mist in the room who hasn't said anything so far. The one who has been doing a swell job at being unnoticed. Viper, apparently, a name widely known in the underground for being a reclusive information broker. They're clearly the Mist Arcobaleno as their appearance to the ball is answer enough. How does Tsuna know them?

(Are they the Mist who stalked Tsuna’s job?

Fuck. One day he’s going to hide that problematic Sky away from everyone.)

"I understand Reborn, he's your Sun, after all." Her tone contains a hidden emotion, something he's having a hard time pointing it out if only for the lack of context. There’s apprehension, though, that he can identify. "But what about Viper?"

"They are part of this and you know it," Tsuna says, his tone forceful for the first time ever.

Mafer is clearly working herself up, too. Her fingers go to the side of her head, as if wanting to push away the headache she must be feeling. Renato understands her. He wants to do the same. "And that's why I say you don't understand. I don't know why or how you're here but I know you're disrupting this timeline."

"I want to make it better," Tsuna says quietly, his soft voice not doing anything to hide the steel in it.

"You can't." Mafer's posture then relaxes, a small sigh leaving past her lips. "Look, I see you're doing what you think is the right thing, but you should think first, is it really the right thing for everyone?"

"I know a way to make the curse void, so-"

"Think, kid. You sound like a nice person, but do you think there won't be any consequences if you try to change things?"

Tsuna shakes his head. "If there are, I'll pay them, I will-"

"Even if you're destroying whole universes with your actions?"

The little Sky reels back as if slapped. It takes him a couple seconds to regain his composure. Seconds Renato uses to think. They’re sidestepping the topic. Either too paranoid about whatever the topic is, even with a powerful Mist hiding them, or unconsciously doing it. He goes for both options. Mafer seems to be of the former, while Tsuna comes from the latter. Now, what is this mysterious topic that speaks of the destruction of universes so easily?

He can wave it off as crazy talk or he can take the words with the same seriousness all ‘in the know’ seem to give it. Even that Misuto guy looks serious, the bastard. 

After a couple of false starts, Tsuna asks, "What do you mean?"

The older Sky glances at Renato, then at the two Mists. What is seen of her face confuses him. He silently curses the fact this is a masquerade and not a normal Ball, briefly wondering if it has been done with this same objective behind it. Not that it matters. Whatever thing she knows seems to be more important for the little Sky to hear than to try to hide it behind cryptic words.

She sighs in clear resignation.

"This is the main timeline. That means, from this one, more have been born. If something happens to it, if someone tries to change what it's supposed to happen, then others will die. Are you ready to pay that price, kid?"

Tsuna visibly swallows. "If I'm planning to change it, would that not mean those timelines would not be born in the first place?"

Surprisingly, it's the powerful chef Mist the one speaking, "It doesn't work like that. They're called parallel worlds for a reason."

"You knew?!" Tsuna hisses, voice hurt. Renato doesn't know exactly what's going on. And while he's still filing everything he's listening to browse later in the privacy of his current room, he still moves to Tsuna's side, between him and the Mist, in a show of support. He then glares at the Mist as he waits for Tsuna to compose himself.

The Mist flicks a couple bangs away from his forehead. "Of course I did. Have you forgotten? You were the one who said you would do anything to help them. Anything."

Tsuna takes another deep breath. The process doesn’t seem to come easily but it does come. “We’re going to have a talk later.”

“Sure. We can cuddle afterward, too.”

There’s an implied roll of eyes going on. Tsuna then turns to Mafer with the desperation to change the subject of a thirsty man in search of water. "You were saying?”

“Does this seem funny to you? I’m being serious. You’re going to kill people.”

Immediately the good humor Tsuna was exporting banishes. “I’ll search a way then. A way to—“

Mafer’s Lightning snorts. “Are you that naïve? Mafer already told you it can’t be done.”

This time is Viper the one who steps forward, entering the conversation for the first time. “Perhaps we can make clear how does she have hold of this information. Does she have some sort of prescience?”

“Of course the information broker wants to know about that,” she almost sneers.

“Kyra, stop. It’s okay.” She then turns to look at them. “I’ve gained the ability to look through other parallel universes. I can’t quite obtain the information from my other selves but I can glimpse some of what they know.”

“Really?” Tsuna blurts out. “The guy I knew who had the same power could do… that” he trails off when he realizes he’s the focus of everyone’s attention.

“You knew someone who had the same power?” Her tone is dubious. “It can’t be done.”

“Like what you said I can’t cure the curse without killing anyone?” Tsuna snarks back, his whole attitude screaming annoyance.

It’s kind of hot seeing him with all this confidence. Now if he only wasn’t wearing a mask…

“It’s different.”

“Sure it is.”

Viper interrupts again. “And how it’s done? You’ve implied it can be gained, can we know how?”

Tsuna and Mafer look at each other. Tsuna being the first to turn away to look thoughtfully at the bastard Mist before his head turns again to look at Mafer. “Yeah, it’s gained. Actually, how did you get, uh, you know, that?” he asks with honest curiosity.

Mafer ignores the question, her usual warm personality making a sudden shift into some. “It’s mine, that’s the only thing you need to know.”

“Is it?”

“Yes. Now perhaps you can answer me why I can’t see you.” Her forceful tone is back. She holds her breath for a second before letting it out in a soft sigh. “Again, I’m sorry. Can you tell me why I can’t see you?”

Tsuna doesn’t turn to look at him but he can feel his eyes on his form. It’s nice and calms something inside him that’s been raging at not being the center of his attention. He doesn’t know how he knows that touching his arm is the right thing to do but he does. He’s not into public display of affection when there’s no sexual connotation, but he doesn’t care at the moment. His little Sky—Not yet his, his traitorous mind supplies—needs to be reassured.

It’s surprising to realize that he wants to do more. He wants to press him close against his chest, hug him and kiss him.

(It weirds him out. A little.)

It works. Tsuna nods with a determination a mask can’t hide. Renato feels anticipation and anxiety dwell inside him at seeing it. “You can’t see me because—“

“Someone’s coming,” Viper interrupts. It seems to deflate Tsuna, as if all the courage he’s gained is being sapped out of him.

Renato wants to grit his teeth as he turns towards the bastard Mist who is supposed to be hiding them.

“Ho?” he forces his mouth to say in a light tone. “Someone’s not feeling up to par? Maybe you need some help.”

The long nose of his mask hides more than his domino mask does, but Renato still can see the condescending twist of the Mist lips. Like a grown-up looking down at the naïve child that still believes in the monsters under their bed. “She’s important. Not that you would know, of course.”

That little shit. He’s actually feeling disappointed he respects the Vongola family so much as to not bring a weapon to this Ball.

Tsuna turns to look at the Mist. “What do you m—“

The little Sky stops. His gaze fixed on a point to his right. Renato follows his lead and glances to where he’s looking at. It’s then when he sees her. A beautiful woman is slowly walking towards them. Unlike Mafer’s red dress with orange embroidery, she wears all white with just a hint of orange showing in the neck of her dress. She’s regal in her bearing, all soft curves, contrasting startlingly with her sharp eyes. Her Sky flames are faint but not less powerful for that. The only give away of her identity is the flower tattoo under her left eye.

“Pleasure to meet you all,” the powerful Shaman says, now standing in front of them. “My name’s Luce. I’m the head of the Gligio Nero famiglia.”


 

-x-

 She’s like Yuni,’ is the first thing that passes through his mind, along with a memory of his friends. It tugs at his heartstrings like a violin, making a dark note. It’s a simple thought but one that hammers down how much he still misses his time, his friends and family. Even after more than a year, he still feels like the boy who had appeared from thin air in a strange city. Lonely, away from the hard-won friends he made; and lost, without knowledge of how to accomplish his goal.

She’s a reminder. And going on by the sad smile she now wears, she knows it too.

He swallows, feeling raw and exposed all of sudden, and bows slightly, the bare minimum Daemon will let him. “Luce-san.”

Luce returns the action, going so far as to extend her hand for him to kiss it. Her fingers are strangely bare as he makes a token to kiss those slender digits, pressing the lower part of his mask against them. Then he lets go and looks at her blue, too ancient eyes.

“Perhaps you can join me in a dance?” she asks lightly as if her mere presence doesn't hurt him.

Tsuna doesn’t care if he’s being rude, he glances back at Daemon, whose white mask shines with the lights from above. Daemon answer by tilting his head, the bastard. Tsuna then turns to Reborn, whose face seems to be set in stone for how blank it is. He still offers a smile when he notices him looking, not more than a soft twist of lips that still manage to convey his support to him.

Daemon claps once, looking at everyone in a very dramatic fashion, making the movements of his hands look graceful. “It seems this meeting must be cut short. Dear Maria Fernanda, it was a pleasure to meet you, but we should go.”

With those words and a nod at her direction, he disappears from their sight. Thanks to his Hyper Intuition, Tsuna can still feel him close.

“He likes to be mysterious,” Tsuna grumbles as a way of explanation. He then turns to Luce, wanting to duck his head in embarrassment for making her wait. A single invisible finger under his chin stops him before he can, though.

Right. What’s important here is that he’s a Sky. He can’t show weakness, not even—especially—to another Sky.

“Let’s go dance,” he says, extending his palm towards Luce like Daemon showed him how to do while he inwardly panics. Surprisingly, Tsuna knows how to dance. Or at least he knows how to move at the sound of music. Taking into account his clumsiness, he does it well enough. Or that's what Daemon says, anyways. The thing is. He doesn't know any dances of the current time.

As he walks with Luce to the dance floor, he thinks of the two times he tried dancing with Daemon inside his room to practice. He discovered he's able to follow the pace thanks to his intuition, but only if someone else is the one leading. Trying to lead it will end in stepped toes, sadly.

He's screwed.

"You will do fine," Luce murmurs as they finally find a spot. Tsuna wants to call her on her bullshit but at that moment he feels a familiar presence gently pushing inside him, taking a hold of his limbs. It's strong but not overpowering, slowly coaxing, letting him know he can easily brush it off whenever he wants.

It's Daemon.

"Interesting. I knew you would be able to dance but not how. I can't see your Mist friend nor I've heard of him. Odd considering how powerful he seems to be. Or maybe not odd; he seems to be powerful enough to hide from me."

"He's a private person," he tries weakly. He receives an amused smile.

"I can't see you either. But you aren't hiding, are you?"

"You too?" Tsuna asks as his hand moves out of his control to gracefully join with Luce's. They start dancing, something soft and calming that maybe in another time when his body is not being used as a puppet, he would have enjoyed it. Not today though.

“Mafer can’t then. It’s unsurprising as I’ve only known of your presence thanks to the changes you’ve brought.”

Tsuna hums, momentarily distracted by the flawless twirl he made. “Kawahira-san hasn’t said anything?”

“He did but only after I asked him.”

That does get his attention. “You know where he is?”

“I don’t know his location but I know how to contact him.”

“Can you tell me how?”

She looks at him in the eye, her gaze soft like her granddaughter's, so vast and deep, but without the innocence Yuni holds. The gems of her simple cream mask twinkle in contrast, making her look ethereal for a long second.

“He told me if you really wanted to talk to him I could call him but only if you were ready to accept the truth. Are you?”

Tsuna thinks back to the words he exchanged with Daemon, how he compared Kawahira like the dealer of a game of poker, holding all the cards. How he thought Tsuna would be able to tell every one of the secrets he’s hiding with his Hyper Intuition helping him. 

... Is he ready to know?

No, he doesn’t think so. The mere thought brings a special kind of fear in him.

But it doesn’t matter. What he wants doesn’t matter.

With his eyes glinting orange, Tsuna meets her gaze and nods. “I need to talk to him.”

She smiles a sad smile. “She’s right, you know.” Before Tsuna can ask whom, she answers his silent question, “Mafer. She’s right. If you change the future too much, other universes will collapse.”

Tsuna’s lips form a thin line. Not that she can see it. “I have to try.”

“She has a responsibility to those worlds. She’ll try to stop you.”

“She can try.”

They twirl once again but a hint of green hair from the corner of his eye almost stops him. Dimtr tilts the glass he's holding in his direction before walking away. He’s glad Daemon continues dancing as if nothing has happened. He would have fallen, otherwise. He turns his head to Luce when she starts speaking once again.

“I could see their future since I was fifteen. Can you imagine? Watching all we're going to go through before meeting them?” Her grip tightens as she visible restrains herself, her eyes lost and beyond the present. “I loved them since then and I’d have changed the future if I could. For them."

They are apart one moment and when their fingers touch again, she looks as calm again. "I've tried. It can be twisted but not changed. You will learn.”

Tsuna refuses to believe that, but the emotion in Luce's voice stops him from voicing it. She sounds as if she wishes with every fiber of her being for Tsuna to remain ignorant of that lesson. So he nods, showing that he’s indeed listening.

“The visions have changed since you appeared but they all end the same still: with us cursed.”

Tsuna blinks. He can work with that. They can be explained of everything, that the curse will only last for a couple days and then they can break it.

Wait.

She said us, he thinks. Also, he’s thought that to cure them if he’ll have become the Sky Arcobaleno or something like that because the reason why it didn't work in his future was the lack of harmonization between Yuni and the others. He was preparing himself for that, to take the role of an Arcobaleno, but to hear he won’t be…

He needs to know so he asks, “You will be the Sky Arcobaleno?"

She nods, her face set into a resigned grimace. “Yes.”

Then Luce will have to harmonize with the others. Though just thinking of Verde, or Fong, or Renato as hers makes him want to snarl. Whatever, he won’t let it last. “You won’t be for long, I promise. You’ll raise Aria and meet your granddaughter.”

Her brows furrow into something akin to pity. “How old are you?"

The question throws him off, so he answers with the truth, "Seventeen."

"You're so young," she says with real surprise. "I thought you were young, but not that... I'm sorry. I'm being rude, aren't I?"

Yes, he wants to say. Instead, he laughs with bitter mirth. "Don't worry. I know I look older." When her eyes slid to his bandaged hand, he nods. "It's the cause, yes."

"The pacifier serves to be a fixed point in time," she murmurs as if reading from a book. "You're not from this time, are you?"

He hesitates to answer. Daemon, sensing this, nuzzles the back of his neck in a phantom touch, silently reassuring him of whatever decision he takes. 

Tsuna takes a small breath in. "I am."

"... And you were younger when you decided to help them. I don't understand why did he involve you if-"

Tsuna shakes his head. He knows when he’s being looked down. “My age doesn’t matter. I’ll fix this.”

She stops dancing, Tsuna soon following suit. Their right hands are still linked and while she doesn’t seem to care they’ve stopped in the middle of others who are still dancing, Tsuna does. He shuffles forward, inching closer to her in an attempt to make themselves smaller and let others dance in peace.

"Your age matters."

He holds his head high. "Yuni was younger when she was given the Sky pacifier. How is that different?"

Conflicting emotions pass through what is seen of her face, hurt the most notorious.

"You're right." She sighs softly. Then, from he doesn't know where she pulls out a small card with her free hand. "The Arcobaleno will meet tomorrow. You may want to come."

Tsuna grabs it. "I will tell them. I don't care if you've to search other people to take the position. They'll not be forced to do something without their consent."

This time, her smile is forced, something sad and ashamed. "I'm sorry, but there are some things that need to happen."

"What do you mean?" he asks, something like dread eating his insides. His Intuition starts sobbing in what sound like apologies.

(It's honestly more than a little disturbing how much sentience his Intuition seems to have gained.)

"They were chosen," she says as if that's answer enough. "It's done."

His throat dries. "What?" he manages to force out, sounding as harsh as he intends.

"They're in possession of the pacifiers." Then she repeats, "It's done."

Tsuna is not a violent person, but at that moment he wants to punch her so much.  Daemon tightens the hold on his limbs and stops him , quietly whispering 'She's pregnant' in his ear.

Taking a deep breath, he regains his composure, "Don't ever say you love them. You wouldn't do that if you-"

Her grip on his hand tightens, nails forming half-moons on his skin. "You don't say that."

He glares at her, challenge burning in his eyes.

She laughs wetly. "Sometimes you've to choose between love and duty."

"My duty is to protect what I love."

"You're so young," she whispers again, looking at him as if he was a lone flower among weed, with thick, poisoning thorns. "Would you burn the world to save them?"

It shocks him the answer that wants to come out. It scares him that to keep seeing the fire in their eyes, he would.

'You won't,'  Daemon says, a comforting presence at his side. 'I'm here for that.'

'To kill me if I step out?'

Daemon doesn't answer, which is telling. 

He steps away from her, Daemon leaving him alone as he does so. He puts the card in the inside pocket of his jacket and nods at her. "Thanks for the dance," he says even as the song still plays out. "It was informative."

Without bothering to hear her answer, he leaves. He doesn't run but only because of Daemon's ghost hand in his, silently guiding him to where a balcony is. When he reaches the place, he can't help it. He takes the mask out, not being able to breathe well while using it. He takes gulps of air when is out of his face, but it doesn't help. His lungs don't seem to process the air, leaving his insides burning. Everything feels disconnected from his body as if he were a puppet master holding the strings to his limbs. It scares him. It scares him how he can't even feel the wind across his cheeks. He wants to grab something real to stop feeling like—like this. Like he's a no-Good and he already failed again and why can’t he do anything without screwing—

His hand tries to go for the rail but another stops him. Is immaterial for a moment before it goes solid and warm. Then reality asserts itself and he takes a small shaky breath as he is pushed into an embrace, easily recognizing the form pressed against his.

It takes him long seconds before he can speak again.

"Will you kill me if I—if I—"

Daemon hushes him. "You won't."

"I don't need that." He shakes his head against his chest, fingers digging into his back. "Tell me you will. Please."

"Your Intuition won't let you," he says as if that's what he wants to hear.

Tsuna wants to sob, but Daemon's caresses on his head relax him. He presses his face against the crock of his neck and breathes his scent, the same fancy perfume he let him use just an hour ago. It's nice and soft, unlike the harsh edge that makes the man. He concentrates on that, in their contrast, while he tries to calm himself. It takes him a while but he soon feels better. 

"Thank you," he murmurs, a soft, tired sigh leaving him.

When he doesn't receive an answer, he looks up. Daemon is not facing him, which is not surprising as the long nose of his mask doesn't let him. Instead, he looks towards the room where people are, looking amused at something.

It's a foreboding expression.

Slightly separating himself from Daemon, Tsuna turns around, a blush on his face at thinking of some stranger watching his outburst.

A man stands under the archway, a heavy aura surrounding him.

He knows that man.

He's wearing a red mask with two white marks on its forehead, two black dots between the eyebrows, alongside an equally dark chin. It does nothing to hide his identity. Not with the familiar zhongshan and that long braid.

Tsuna steps back from Daemon as if his mere skin burns, trying to ignore that weird laugh of his at his actions. He clears his throat. "Um. Hello, Fong."

The suffocating aura doesn't leave, if anything, it increases. "Ozora."

"So, this is, er. I mean, his name is... Misuto," he finally says, feeling even more stupid for saying that name out loud, especially because Fong knows Japanese and can clearly tell it's a fake name. He briefly glances back at Daemon. "Misuto, this is Fong, a friend."

"A pleasure,” the Mist says with a mocking bow. Then with that mischievous glint in his eye, he adds, “I've heard so much about you."

"Oh? Strange as I haven't heard anything about you."

Daemon looks at him with a mock-hurt expression. "Is that right, Tsu-kun?"

Tsuna narrows his eyes at him, wanting to call him out on his bullshit. He doesn't though. He doesn't like to curse, after all. 

... Not out loud, at least.

“Don't call me that,” he says, no pouting at all. To Fong, he tries his best to explain who Daemon is without really telling him who he is. Is not his secret to tell, after all. "He is my Mist friend? The one that makes me breakfast?"

If anything, that makes it worse. And he doesn't know why he's feeling so guilty. Is not as if he's been doing anything wrong!

(His mind helpfully says otherwise.)

He tries to duck his head but Daemon's finger on his chin stops him. Right. He's a Sky. A proud Sky. He needs to look like one.

Wait. Where's his mask?

He looks around before Daemon helpfully hands him his mask. Tsuna nods at him before grabbing it. He cleans his eyes for any trace of tears, before trying to put it on. Trying being the keyword. Fong's hand stops him and when he looks up, his dark aura seems to have disappeared. "Are you okay?"

Tsuna glances at Daemon, silently asking him to leave him alone. The bastard ignores him.

Fong seems to see this as he also turns to look at him, putting out his mask on top of his head to show the annoyance in that smiling face. "Could you leave?"

“Oh? I’m sorry, am I interrupting your moment?” he says, sarcasm heavy on his tone. He then sighs dramatically. “Oh well, I know when I’m not wanted.”

He turns around with a flourish, facing him. Tsuna's intuition screams but he doesn’t listen, which is mistake number one. When his hand goes to cradle his face, fingers lovingly tracing his skin, Tsuna doesn’t stop him, which is his mistake number two. When Daemon tilts his head and approaches, Tsuna just blinks at him, which is mistake number three. Then there’s a peck on his lips that lasts less than a second before the man disappears, a fist in the place where his head had been.

He looks back at Fong, feeling honestly dumbfounded. The man looks back at him with red glowing eyes, an expression not unlike the one Hibari-san used to wear before biting someone to death.

He suppresses a shudder.

With a tentative hand, he grabs Fong's hand. Slowly, as if approaching a spooked animal. "It's okay. I'm fine."

"It's not okay."

Swallowing, he steels himself. Before he can overthink it, he stands on his tiptoes and gives the man a quick peck.

"See? Just a kiss," he murmurs. His face is sporting quite a blush, but he doesn’t look away. He roots his feet to the ground and stops himself from shuffling, trying to portray as much confidence as he can. Though that disappears when he realizes he’s just invaded someone’s body like that. He bows and this time, without Daemon guarding him closely for signs of unelegant behavior, he manages to do it.

(A clear sign that the Mist has really left them alone.)

Fong huffs softly, stopping him from continuing with a warm palm settling on top of his head. He seems momentarily marveled at their closeness, as the fingers he runs through his hair are careful and full of wonder. Tsuna beams at the attention; it's been almost a month since they've seen each other, after all.

He grows nervous when the hand goes to his still slightly wet cheeks. A frown appears on the Storm's usually calm expression.

“Are you okay?”

He doesn’t want to lie anymore so he sighs, shaking his head as he does so. “… No, I'm not.”

“Can you tell me about it?” he says, with that understanding tone that means he actually doesn’t expect him to do it.

It hurts him.

“Just. Too many revelations in a short time. I will explain later.” At seeing the surprised expression on his face, Tsuna rummages in the inside of his jacket and pulls out the card Luce-san gave him. He hasn’t had the time to inspect it but now that he’s showing it to Fong, he notices that there’s only a direction written on it, the trinisette symbol on its back.

“You received one?”

There’s no condescension in his voice, just honest curiosity.

“Not as an Arcobaleno. I was just invited by one.”

Fong frowns. “It’s going to be dangerous. I would not have come if this person hadn't shown already how easy it was for them to track me. I want answers, too”

“I know. But I need to tell you all something. I need—“ He then remembers what Luce said about how their fate was already sealed. With more than a little apprehension, he asks. “Did the person who—who invited you. He gave you something, right? Right?”

“Tsuna. Calm down.” With a large hand on his cheek, Fong approaches until their foreheads are almost touching. “Breathe.”

Tsuna tries to follow his instruction, but he can’t. He shakes lightly his head. “It doesn’t matter if it looks ridiculous or childish—“

This time Fong’s forehead touches his own. ”He gave me something. A pacifier.”

He can feel his face pale as the horror settles in. He’s feeling numb all of sudden as if his body is not his own. For a moment, he wonders if Daemon is once again taking a hold of his body, but he shakes that feeling with newfound determination. He looks up at Fong, eyes glowing orange. “Did you put your flames inside?”

Fong’s eyes narrow. “It latched onto me. I put it away immediately. It still managed to obtain something, nonetheless.”

Closing his eyes, Tsuna tries counting to ten. Anything to help settle the dismay he feels. “Oh, Fong.”

“I’m here, Tsuna,” the man whispers, hands holding his own. He brings their locked hands close and kisses his knuckles. “Everything will be okay.”

Tsuna slowly nods, not daring to open his eyes. “Right. Right. I’ll make it better.”

“I won’t act as if I understand, but I know enough to see you’re placing a great weight on your shoulders. Stop that. You’ve me. And Renato… And that Mist friend of yours, too.”

“Right,” he repeats, opening his eyes. They’re close and Fong’s body is warm against his. Tsuna needs some comfort and Fongs seems to notice that as he leans forward, Tsuna meeting him halfway in a slow kiss, the reassuring kind that says ‘I’m here’‘I’ll always be here’.

It pains him even if Fong’s mouth is soft, warm, and strangely familiar under his own. He tastes of something spicy that makes his mouth tingle but he can’t stop. He places his arms around his shoulders and brings him closer. Soon Fong is pushing him against the rail and the action clicks inside him as he turns the kiss turning into something desperate and hungry.

Fong tries to control it, tilting his head and making it less harsh but still deep and hot. Tsuna can’t help but arch his back and let out a small mewl when Fong digs his fingers into his hipbones. Then he's mouthing his jaw with the Storm's heavy breathing on his ear. When Tsuna bites him in the neck, Fong thrusts his hips lightly against him, hands pressing them even closer. Tsuna can't help but moan, already panting in need.

They try to muffle the sound by kissing again but the sound has already reminded both of them of where they are. Next, they’re slowly tuning down the intensity of their kiss until Fong is ghosting a last peck on the corner of his lips, murmuring ‘Mine’ as he does so.

It makes his heart clench, hearing those words when he knows he cannot be his as Fong wants it.

He licks his lips, finding them sore and wet, and shakes his head. “I’m not destined to be your Sky. You deserve—“

“Don’t say that.”

Tsuna doesn’t pout. “You know the Sky Arcobaleno from that meeting is meant to be your Sky, right?”

A real, bright smile appears on his face. “Does that mean you’re feeling jealous?”

He narrows his eyes. “You’re spending way too much time with Renato.”

Fong barks out a laugh, an honest sound that makes his insides twist pleasantly. He likes watching his friends happy. “Considering I’ve been away from him for almost a month I can safely say this is all me.”

Tsuna shakes his head, this time in exasperation. He catches a black figure from the corner of his eye. He turns to look, a feeling of  déjà vu  creeping on him.

Renato is there, a slight smile on his lips. His attention elsewhere makes Fong sigh. “Yes, he was there five minutes ago.”

How he has known when he's not facing him, he doesn't ask.

“Oh,” Tsuna simply murmurs with glowing cheeks.

“And I heard about the whole Sky thing, too. Destined? What has that Shaman tell you?”

Fong turns around. “Shaman?”

“Yes. Luce of Giglio Nero asked him for a dance; he accepted.”

With a slight frown, Fong carefully says. “Whatever thing she say to you, the future is not set on stone, Tsuna.”

“You’re not even sure.” He glances at both of them. “If someone knows about the future is her. Believe me, I know.”

Renato smirks triumphally. “Does that mean this whole ordeal is because she told you you can’t be our Sky?”

“Well... Yeah, but you know is not that easy.”

“Do I? You haven’t explained anything to us. And don’t think I won’t explain to your Stormy friend all that happened with Mafer, either.”

Tsuna nods. “I expected that. And don’t worry, tomorrow I’ll explain everything to you. To all of you, the new Arcobaleno.”

“You say that name as if it were a curse.”

With a bitter laugh, Tsuna shakes his head. “It is one.” He sighs. “I’m tired of this ball. I think I’ll be going.”

Fong and Renato share a glance. “We’ll go with you.”

Tsuna looks at them suspiciously but doesn’t say anything else, merely nodding at their direction.

Renato walks towards them before kneeling to retrieve his fallen mask and the crumpled paper that was supposed to be his Arcobaleno invitation.

Tsuna receives them with a nervous chuckle.

“I remember you mentioning him a coffee set you brought to make me a cup.”

“Uh, yeah.” He looks at Fong. “I also brought your tea. I think we can ask someone to bring us some hot water to brew it.”

“I would like that.”

Putting his mask in place, Tsuna is the first to walk to where the party is still ongoing.

“I kissed him first,” he hears Renato say, followed by a series of thuds Tsuna doesn’t bother to turn around to check. Going on by the looks the people around him give them, he doesn't want to know.

“If we’re being childish then it was Verde the one I kissed first,” Tsuna says with an annoyed huff.

 “Verde?” Fong asks from behind him.

Renato is the one who answers, “Oh, man, do we have to tell you so much.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 14

Usually, the smell of warm food is what wakes Tsuna up. Even when he was living alone in a too bare room, not even an apartment yet, it was there. It’s something he takes comfort on. And it doesn’t matter if it’s Daemon the one who cooks the food, he still finds it nice to smell the familiarity of it.  

That morning, as he widely yawns, he realizes immediately  that  is missing. His sleepy mind doesn't clear with a start at the revelation, but it’s a near thing. His body is for a moment hyperaware of his surroundings, listening with more care than usual to his intuition , looking for the disturbance in the usual harmony of the place where he sleeps. He soon realizes something  new, or not new, but it’s something he hasn’t felt in a month: The warmth of two bodies next to him.  

There’s a braid close to his nose and he murmurs a not so sleepy, “Fong?”  

The man curls around him, kissing his hair as he does so. He hums in question and Tsuna shakes his head against his hold. “No, nothing. I just—“  

He tries to stand up, but finds himself pinned to the mattress by a heavy arm, a forehead pressed against his back. He immediately knows who is behind him, “Renato, I need to stand up.”  

“No, you don’t,” the man grumbles, but he’s yawning too, which is new. Renato doesn’t like to be seen as a human in front of others, even if it’s Fong. Maybe he’s more tired than he thinks.  

Tsuna sighs but let’s go, resigning himself to just awkwardly tilt his head towards the small table next to a couch where even in Vongola territory he expected for it to be a bento on top.  

As if hearing his thoughts, three bento appear, next to a familiar man sitting on a chair. He’s wearing the same clothes of yesterday, with the weird mask resting on his face, nose long and mocking.  

“Good morning, guys.”  

As if burned, both men stand up in ready positions. Fong with both hands covered in flames and Renato with a gun in hand. Tsuna is looking at their backs so he isn’t looking at their fierce glares sported on their faces, so in his opinion, he should be excused for the snort that escapes him, which soon turns into a full belly laugh. His body, half-sitting in surprise, goes down to the mattress as he continues laughing.   

Then there’s a weight dipping the bed. It takes him half a second to realize is Fong the one approaching him with an amused smile, crawling towards him like a predator towards his prey. The picture he makes is half ridiculous thanks to the clothes he’s wearing, given by Renato as Fong didn’t want to return to his room the previous night because of reasons.   

Long story short: it’s a onesie. A cute soft yellow onesie, filled with small green chameleons.   

“And why are you laughing, little Sky?” he asks with a deep tone that clashes horribly with the clothes. He approaches closer until he’s almost hovering over the still laughing Tsuna, giving him a perfect view of the unbuttoned front of the onesie, revealing a toned chest under it. Fong follows his new line of sight with a smirk that does incredible things to his insides. He grabs him by the sides before pulling him close. His mouth is close to his ear as he whispers with an amused tone, “Is it that funny, Tsuna?”  

Tsuna wants to nod and keep laughing but he can’t. Not with Fong’s body so close to his, their crotches pressing together. As it is, he has to bite a sigh that wants to come out. He still involuntary opens his legs to settle them in a better position. Thing Fong uses to take a grip to his ass while his other hand goes to his back, easily lifting him up until he’s sitting with Tsuna on his lap.  

The urge to press closer and thrust his hips is strong but he fights it easily when he remembers there are two other people inside the room. He buries his nose in Fong’s neck in embarrassment, being careful to take a peek at the others.   

Renato looks annoyed in his own black onesie with yellow stars, his gun aiming at Daemon’s head while the Mist looks amused as always. He lets out a silent laugh, noticeable thanks to the mask only covering the upper part of his face. “Now that the softcore porn show is over, perhaps we can get down to business?”  

“Business?” Fong asks softly. Lichi, who has been sleeping on top of the chandelier, comes down to the table where Daemon is, clearly trying to look intimidating but obviously failing thanks to her height.  

“Yes, yes. I’ve to take Tsuna to someplace. It’s important, you see.”  

Renato speaks up, “He’s not going anywhere without us” at the same time Tsuna asks, “where?”  

Ignoring the glare Renato shots him, Tsuna stops leaning against Fong to look at Daemon in the eye. “I said, where?”  

Daemon’s smile turns into something predatory. “A mutual friend, you would say. Very fond of ramen, he is.”  

Tsuna stills. His hands start trembling without his consent and he has to clench them into fists to stop them. He takes a deep breath and he’s glad his voice comes out stronger than he thinks it would, “I thought he didn’t want to talk to me.”  

A shrug. “Yes, well. I don’t know how that man works.”  

“Would someone clear to us what’s going on?” Renato snaps. Fong following close with a “Yes, indeed. I think that would be the polite thing to do.”  

“I don’t see how that’s your-”  

“The man in the Iron Hat. The one who invite you. He’s the reason I’m here in this country. He- He cursed me, like you.” He then adds with a bitter tone, “But unlike you though, I accepted the curse knowing the consequences.”  

“Curse? You keep mentioning that word,” Renato  says in a calm tone as if they’re only speaking of the weather When there’s no answer to his invoiced question, he  sneers , his mouth opening to probably say something scathing .  However, at seeing  Tsuna’s pained look, he adds, softer, “If it involves us, I think we should know.”  

Tsuna nods, but before he can say anything, Daemon stands up. He strolls towards Tsuna, uncaring of Renato trailing behind him with his gun aim ed  at his head or the snarl on Fong’s face as he presses him close. He holds up a hand in his direction. “Let’s eat,” he says, his voice amiable, unlike his eyes, filled with warning, a ‘not yet’ on them.  

Tsuna nods carefully, letting him know he understands the message. He turns to the others. “I already spoke with Mafer and Luce. Before I can clear  out  anything, I need to speak with the Man in the Iron Hat. He’s the only one with most, if not all, the answers.”  

“Can we go with you,” Fong asks in a whisper.  

Tsuna shakes his head. “It’s better if you don’t risk yourselves. He’s pretty strong.”  

“If you haven’t noticed, we’re pretty tough, too.”  

“Not like this. Not like him.” He looks down, debates how much to tell them at this moment. “He’s not even human,” he ends up whispering.  

He can  feel  the confusion coming from his two friends and Tsuna can help but give them a dry smile. “Yeah, my life is pretty weird.”  

Fong answers with a smile of his own, one that’s more than a little bit confused. “... Still. Not human?”  

“Well, technically, I’m not human either,” Daemon freaking  chirps , which is creepy as hell. “The Vindice aren’t either.”  

“They were once,” Tsuna can’t help but defend, knowing the Vindice are nothing more than arcobaleno holding into their hatred feels too personal. “You were, too.”  

Daemon dips his head in acknowledgment before signaling the table, ignoring the wary glance the two assassins share. “Let’s eat for now, all your questions will be answered at the meeting. It’s an annoyance having to explain things twice, after all.”  

“Yeah,” Tsuna says sadly, giving Fong one last glance, wanting nothing more than to hold him close for what he feels will be the last time. He doesn’t know if after explanations are done his friends will continue wanting to be his friends, after all. He should have tried to enjoy for a moment longer the peace they shared together in bed.    


 

-x-

“It’s darker than I thought,” Tsuna whispers, unable to speak louder in the empty space they found themselves in. Daemon hums in agreement, his mask gone now that no one is there with them. His hair is still in its high tail, his pineapple hairstyle nowhere to be seen  at  the moment.   

Daemon turns to see him with a raised eyebrow which cause s  Tsuna to turn away, blush high on his cheeks. He hasn’t meant to stare but it’s that or continue studying his surrounding s , which are creepy as hell with their high ceilings and dark shadows. After a couple minutes more, they reach a circular chamber, dark except for its center where it can be seen circular shapes engraved on the floor, forming a perfect circle.   

Someone clears their throat and Tsuna looks up where the sound comes from, noticing for the first time the chair like-throne at the back. The color of the chair is a metallic one, not easily identifiable because of the lack of light, old and fancy but nothing too important. Or at least not so much, unlike the figure sitting on it, with  his  usual traditional Japanese clothes. There’s a tired smile on his lips, reflected perfectly with the exhausted eyes he can barely see behind those glasses.  

Suddenly nervous, Tsuna tries to step down the negative feeling inside him as he moves forward, lips forming a grim line. “Hello, Kawahira-san.”  

The Earthling nods. “Tsunayoshi-kun.”  

“Is it time, then?”  

“I’m afraid it is.” He stands up, making the movements of stepping down a couple of stairs look graceful and  weary  at the same time. “I thought of keeping you in the dark for a  while  longer but I don’t think I’ll be able  to  anymore. Not with you so sure of your choice.  It’s the least I can do considering the sacrifice you’ll make.”  

He swallows. “So it’s true, then. I won’t return home.”  

The other nods with a sad smile. “This timeline has already started to rewrite itself. It’s not something permanent yet ,  so i t’s actually hard trying to not  have  it erase you from it.  That being  said, it ’s fortunate that you kept part of the arcobaleno curse  with  you  as it  stabilized you somehow. Though if you make a great change, it’s unknown what will happen to you.”  

Tsuna glances at the bandaged hand on his side where the curse is printed on his skin. His eyes water , still thinking about how he can’t return,  but he cleans  them  with the sleeve of his shirt. He takes a deep breath  and concentrates in the now . “ Timeline that  wants to erase my existence, right. Does it have anything to do with  what Mafer said about me destroying other timelines ?   I s  that  false?”  

Kawahira hums. “Not exactly.”  

“W-What?  T hen  will I- ?”  

“You should understand this, Tsunayoshi-kun,” Kawahira  interrupts him  as he looks to the side. “To change the past some timelines will have to be destroyed. It’s inevitable. However, it’s not as a big deal as she makes it be. Every time Luce or other powerful Esper tries to change some fixed point in time, one of those timelines is destroyed  as it’s a parallel to this one and not an alternate one .”  

Tsuna blinks, confused.  He  chuckles dryly. “Should I remind you that I was known as No Good-Tsuna for a long time? Dumb it down for me please.”  

“You’re not a Not-Good. I wouldn’t have trusted  you with this mission if I thought that.” The hard look he  was giving him softens.  “Not to say you’re perfect. I understand your shortcomings and that’s why I will clarify.  

“Picture the timeline as a tree with thick branches. There are  the main  branches with their own different  stories even if their characters are the same they’re  the alternate universes.  These main branches each  give birth to their  own  thin branches known as parallel universes.  

“… Okay, I get it. I think. What does it have to do with me destroying  other universes?”  

“This  universe is the main one, the one others are born. If, continuing with the tree metaphor,  the main branch  has a problem then other of the weak branches will fall off.  You’re the sickness in this metaphor.  The branch is trying to erase you but because of the arcobaleno cur s e grounding you, it can’t so it’s doing its best  to change itself. If that means erasing a couple of universes, wel l. You just need to  not do any  big changes  to maintain the balance , as I said before .  

Okay, I get is not really a problem. Then , why...?”  

“It’s because when something like Luce intercepting occurs only one or two world s  die. What we’re planning on doing will kill thousands, at the same time.” Ignoring the look of horror on Tsuna’s face, he continues. “This will drive her crazy. Most likely her daughter too, as she’s been starting to teach her how to control the power of the ring, intending it to pass it on her in the same way it’s been passed to her by her mother.”  

“Isn’t that a great change?  She going crazy, I mean. You  told me if I do something drastic, the timeline will try to erase me, right? Isn’t that-?”  

Kawahira snorts. “Don’t worry, Tsunayoshi-kun. Something like this happened in the previous timeline, too. Apparently, Luce tried to make a big change to help the arcobaleno, which obviously didn’t work at all. It ended with her crazy, too. It happens in a lot of universes, too. She knows this, too, and tries to stop it from occurring in most universe s . She makes it in some but in most...”  

“That doesn’t make it right at all ! I sn’t there a way to help her?”  

This time is Daemon the one that snorts. “No, kid. And you must let it happen. We need Xanxus to be born, after all.”  

“What does Xanxus have to do--” He stops and remembers Mafer’s red eyes and dark skin. The feathers adorning her hair enveloping a familiar fierce glare. “Is she...?”  

“Her grandmother? Yes.”   

He shakes his head. “That means I  need  to help her, then.”  

“You will stop his birth then. Her daughter needs to be driven insane and end as a whore. That’s how  Xanxus  is born.” Seeing the pain written in his face,  Kawahira  add s,  softer. “Life isn’t pretty,  Tsunayoshi-kun . Sometimes people will suffer and we won’t be able to save them. You can’t help all.”  

He knows that. Doesn’t mean it still doesn’t hurt. He still remembers being bullied and no one helping him. Being called No-Good while others laughed. Falling and tumbling because his feet didn’t obey him. The frustration and hate of it all, while  at the same time  he  longed  for someone to save him.   

Tsuna  wants to help but... he’s selfish. He prefers to sacrifice someone he doesn’t know that  people  he cares about.  

He takes another deep breath as he cleans  the  tears with the back of his hands. “So, what’s the plan then? Do I’ll end being the Sky  arcobaleno ?”  

Kawahira  nods somberly. “But I have to remind you that the future doesn’t have to change much. Luce will have to be the Sky Arcobaleno, too.”  

Tsuna  blinks. “But, how? Can two people be the Sky  arcobaleno ? Lal  and  Colonello  demon s trated that it can’t be done,  or  can it?”  

No, you’re  right. But the problem of the past was that we needed a Sky  arcobaleno  bonded with the  arcobaleno  for it to work. You will be that Sky.”  

He doesn’t like  t his  intuition is starting to buzz, countless of possibilities starting to form as he sees the guilt in  Kawahira's  eyes, too fast for him to follow with his flames suppressed as they are by Mamoru.  

“I-I don’t understand. Will I have to give it then to Luce? Can’t we de-curse then immediately afterward?” 

“You’re not listening,  Tsunayoshi . The  arcobaleno  need to be cursed.”  

“I know that,” he snaps, feeling angry all of sudden. A headache is starting to form between his eyebrows as his intuition  keeps  flashing him with images, possible  theorie s. He tries to calm himself ,  to take  a  deep breath ,  but it doesn’t seem to work. He was calm just a second ago but now it seems the large room is too small  for him to  be . He  unconsciously  grabs Mamoru, still in her metal form around his neck.   “Please. Please tell me  clearly . Tell me  what are you trying to say.”  

“I think you know already.”  

I don’t know , he wants to scream but he bites it out.   

“I think what the Earthling tries to say is that their curse can only be taken away after th moment you decided to go to fix it all for the first time,  Tsunayoshi-kun ,” Daemon says with an oddly soothing tone of voice, as if he’s a small animal that he isn’t trying to scare.  

Not that  Tsuna  cares. He feels like one at the moment.  

“W-What?”  

Kawahira  approaches until he can kneel in front of him. He blinks realizing for the first time he’s on the floor. “ Tsunayoshi , calm down.  

Tsuna shakes his head because now that he's heard it, he can see it. He was sent back to the past and been told to change it but at the same time, he’s been warned of the dangers of changing  it too  much.   It should have been obvious considering  he knew that the only  thing malleable was his future, but…  

“What will I tell them…?”  

“The truth, if you want. There’s noth ing  they  can change, after all. They’re alrea dy cursed . I modified the pacifiers exactly for that.”  

“You did?”  

“I’m  not  so cruel as to throw you to the wolves to tell them  they  ha ve to  be cursed  or else. It’s a hard decision  and  I took it from you. They  would always see me as the bad guy, it doesn’t  bother me to take the blame and  play the rol e.”  

Daemon laughs that weird laugh of his. “Thou gh you  have to admit that being the bad guy holds a certain appeal.”  

“Not now, Daemon ,”  Tsuna  snaps.  

“Oh, is that a spine what I’m seeing?”  

Daemon,”  Kawahira  says, immediately shutting up the Mist. He then turns to  Tsuna “Do  you  feel any better?”  

Tsuna  lets out a bitter laugh  but doesn’t answer.  Luckily for him, Daemon is here to asks the question he needs the answers of.  “There’s  something  I don’t  understand  though.  Tsuna  already asked but I’m also wondering how you will make two Sky  arcobaleno . Is it even possible?”  

“No, it isn’t.  However Tsuna  won’t have to do deal with anything he hasn’t dealt before in this case.  We just have to repeat the process Timoteo used on you.”  

His intuition makes the words click into place. “You will seal my flames away,” he says in a monotone, not caring at all.  “When you gave me Mamoru you told me it could hide and seal things away. I thought you only meant taking things into her mouth but that’s not it, right? You already knew then what  I would had to do… right?”  

“It was the only thing that occurred to me after I discovered  of your  reason for being in the past.”  

“And I’ve to let  things occur as it has done before,”  Tsuna  murmurs, hand going to cover his mouth in an attempt to hide the sob that comes out of his mouth.   “… I can’t be with them.”  

He feels more  th an sees  Kawahira  sharing a look with Daemon.  “Not directly, no.”  

This time is  Daemon the one kneeling next to him, his face set in  an emotion he has trouble deciphering . He only knows that it’s real and  meant  for him.  The expression softens as he looks at him for a moment longer. He then grabs the hand covering his mouth and pulls it away. His other large hand moving to the side of his face cradling it softly.  

Tsuna  closes his eyes, not bearing to  look any longer to  Daemon's face . “I don’t know why I’m crying. I haven’t  bonded with them and yet .. . I-I  love them. I  don’t think I can watch them suffering when I’m able to help them.”  

Arms pull him close  into  a hug. Hold steady and firm, unlike how unreal  and without form he  feel  most  times.  

“… What will I tell them?” he whispers, mostly to himself.  

“I think the truth is a good start.”  

He shakes his head. “It’ll hurt them.”  

“You don’t have  to  carry the weight alone Tsunayoshi . You ’l l destroy yourself.”  

Tsuna  looks to the side, where  Kawahira  is now standing and looking at them with  a thoughtful look. “Will it be okay? If I tell them all, I mean. Well, not all,  but-"  

“It doesn’t matter to me. You can tell them if you want,” he interrupts him, but before he can add something else,  saying,  “However, you’ve to understand that the past must remain as closely possible as it once were. We chance  the   destruction of this timeline, if not.”  

Tsuna’s   eyes  widen at the same time  Daemons grip tightens. “that means…”  

“I will have to seal their memories after your flames are sealed, yes.”  

 


 

-x-  

There is a silence when the man with the strange  hat  and unique silver hair finishes talking. Heavy and somewhat uncomfortable. It isn't the tone of his voice when he told them about the jobs they would take, nor is his presence the one that makes it stifling. It is more of an instinctual feeling. The foreboding kind that one keeps on having no matter how skilled one is. She has felt it a couple times before when she was just a recruit, but that’s all. She questions why she's feeling it at all when it’s information all he’s spoken about, nothing unfamiliar or world changing. Though it feels like it should be. Now she wonders when she’ll be able to use the gun well hidden in her person because something tells her she’ll have to use it if only to escape.  

Why has she  come  in the first place?  

She huffs a silent laugh. Right,  information . A way to obtain her former job back.  

Lal  Mirch  throws a wary glance at her new teammates for the nth time, examining them while not being obvious about it.  Arcobaleno , the man repeats as he asks for the pacifiers, the ones he gave them as tickets to be able to get inside the room they currently are in. The hitman, Reborn, tilts his fedora slightly up, sharing a glance with the enforcer of the Triads, one that tells her they’re more than simply passing acquittances. She doesn’t know about this  arcobaleno  business but going on by the slight twitch in the expressions of most of her teammates and the words the man in the Iron Hat told her the day she invited her to join, they're famous—legends.  From   what  she’s found out their names are forgotten but the title never is. And if her source is not mistaken, it's been almost  forty  years since the title has been mentioned. She would have shrugged off as another weird myth of the mafia if not for the solid proof that can be found of their existence. Though most don't know how they're chosen, it's always been clear that the title goes to the best of the best as their other title is the Strongest Seven. Though from what she can glean from the weird man’s words, while all hold certain truth, the title is mostly related to Flames.  

After all, everyone with active flames, no matter how novice they are in the world, know the importance of the number seven in the mafia. She never would have thought that it existed while in the military, but apparently, once you manifest your flames, you’re in, no matter if you want it or not.  

It still smells fishy. And that’s why it doesn't surprise her the dread slowly increasing deep inside her gut.  

The renowned Shaman, Luce, is most likely the orange one, going on by the color of the chair she chose, the Sky of this little misfit group. Once she got the information about that flame, they are usually hard to miss, mostly because they all seem to wear something orange. The relationship between Skies and their elements still freaks her out a little, so she’s made sure to seat as far away as she can from her. However, aside from  the  Giglio Nero boss, she’s not sure which flame the people around her has, she can only guess because of clothes and color hair. However, it’s stupid to think like that so in the end, she only knows that no one but her is a Rain. Or knew. Is not surprising the man in the Iron hat has that information and he didn't sound condescending at all as he listed their Elements for all of them to know.  

It still made her tense, wanting nothing more but to reach for her gun and shot him in the head.  

The dread doesn't diminish, but it's easy to ignore it thanks to the excitement she feels at the thought of difficult missions the man promises, something she misses from her time as a soldier, even so…  

"Isn't it dangerous for her to be part of it then?" The purple haired male, Skull, says. "She's the Sky, our 'boss', right?"  

Luce smiles, her cup of coffee clinking softly against the plate. "I assure you, you don't need to—"  

"She won't be your Sky."  

Luce blinks in surprise, her head turning to look better at the man. She opens her mouth, but no sound comes from it as a pained frown changes her expression. She rubs the side of her head and almost stumbles when trying to reach the table. Viper, siting closer, stabilizes her with a hand on her arm.  

"Don't worry, she's only having trouble with a vision," the man in the Iron Hat says, walking forward and helping her to her seat.   

"I'm fine," she says, shaking her head twice before glancing to the empty wall on her left. "The new Sky… No, he’s not the only one. I’ll be, too." She turns to give her a look, her gentle features shifting into something fierce. “Just what are you planning , ” she whispers.  

The man in the Iron Hat nods  calmly as  if she  hadn’t  just demanded information. He walks to where she's been staring and gives a slight bow, his right hand signaling the empty space next to him. "I should introduce him, shouldn't I? Though most of you already know him."  

Lal lifts an eyebrow, ready to inquire what this sudden development is about, but a buzz in the air stops her. She's already standing, gun in hand, by the time the portal opens. Not dark and smoke-like as it’s said the  Vindice  use, but  a  clear and bright one. It only takes a second before a figure walks out. The sound of heavy breathing fills the silence as the portal slowly closes. The person standing in front of them looks at them, with glowing orange eyes. The  necklace around  his neck shifts on its own, until is not a necklace anymore but a snake. A weird one, with  feathers  alongside its neck, growing larger with every second it passes until it’s thicker than her arm.  

Then it happens.  

An erratic orange flame appears on his forehead, it flutters with each intake of breath, as if ready to extinguish but managing to stay put by force of will. It warms the whole room, growing until he opens the  eyes  she hadn’t realized he closed. And then the flame is gone.  

Before anyone can say anything, the man with green hair she had pinned down as indifferent, Verde, stands up abruptly, chair going to the floor as he moves to inspect, the young man, hands cradling gently the other’s face.  

“Are you okay?” he asks and it’s then that Lal  notices  the slumped  shoulders  and red, slightly puffy eyes.  

He nods with a small watery smile on his face as he leans into  his  touch, eyes moving away  from  the scientist to inspect the others, two of whom have stood up, too. The hitman and  the enforcer , both of whom she had also written down as aloof.  

“I’m fine, guys. Don’t worry,” he whispers, his smile more real this time. The sight of it, alongside the voice, makes something jostle in her memory. She has seen him before, in her apartment building, the one who helped her nephew.  

She stands up before she knows what she’s doing. “You’re the one who helped Mateo. Natsu, right?” She takes a step closer. Doesn’t care how two powerful  mafiosi  are looking at her. If there’s anything she cares about is her family and to think another person inside this world has been close to her home—to her little nephew—fills her with rage.  

She still isn’t stupid, though. She approaches as much as she can, keeping the hitman and enforcer at arm's length. “What were you doing in my home.”  

The hostile tone makes that boy, Skull, stand up too. He moves between them, the idiot. “Hey, I don’t think we  shoul —wait. You. I know you.” Skull takes out the ring she’s seen him flinging around. “You were the one who gave me this, weren’t you?”  

Natsu nods, the same weak smile on his lips. Then there’s another man, this one appearing from thin air, behind him. Looking posh and ready for a ball, with a Venetian type of mask covering the upper part of his face.   

“Perhaps it’s time we seat, don’t you think so? We can speak better that way.” He looks at Natsu and adds in a softer tone, as if he’s a porcelain doll about to fall and break. “My apologies for the abrupt trip. I’m afraid it was time.”  

“I understand.” Natsu nods to the others, his presence growing somehow, the broken doll act dropping for a moment as he looks at them, determination shining in his features. “Let’s seat, please.”   

Lal glances at the others who stood up before complying, years of training stopping her from grumbling and crossing her arms as she wants to do. She gives a look at the others and notices the look of pity written all over the other Sky’s face.  

“Hello, Luce-san.”  

She nods, her pity turning into solemn sympathy. “Ozora.”  

“Ozora?” Skulls asks, scratching the side of his head. “I thought you were Natsu.”  

“I’m both and neither,” the young man says, confusing the hell out of her. He looks down at the floor for a second before his eyes gleam orange. “You can call me  Tsuna , though.”  

She snorts. “So many names for a slip of a kid.”  

She’s fishing, trying to rile him up into doing something, anything, she doesn’t know what. She just wants to study him, learn more about his intentions and reasons to be here.  

A chair appears next to him, between Verde and Skull, and he sits. The Mist, Viper, gasps  quietly  next to her. “A solid illusion.”  

She doesn’t know the implication of a solid illusion, but she can guess. Especially when it surprises an information broker. She’s now wary of the blue-haired man, who chooses not to sit, simply deciding to lean on  Tsuna’s  chair.  

“Mou. It’s curious how you’ve met all of us while we all know you by different names,” Viper starts, speaking for the first time. “It’s obvious this not a simple job  offer , so let’s start with, who are you , really,  and what do you want with us?”  

Tsuna  nods. “My name’s  Tsunayoshi . My last name is of no importance. Just know that I’m part of the  Vongola  lineage. I—I don’t want anything but to help you and , believe me,  you’ll need that help.” He eyes the center of the table where all the pacifiers are. “It’s too late to save you , after all .”  

“What do you mean?” she asks, trying to ignore the understanding glance the martial artist and the hitman share. “And I’m to guess these two are on it?”  

“No, they don’t know.  They’re just my  friends . And actually, I didn’t know everything until a couple minutes ago. But that doesn’t matter, the important thing is that you’re cursed.” He nods at the direction of the pacifiers. “The moment you touched those things you were cursed.”  

The Chinese man leans forward. “You keep mentioning that word,  Tsuna .”  

“I know and I’m sorry. I suck at explaining  things  and...” he trails off to look up at the masked man with a pleading look. The Mist sighs and nods, before saying. “I think we should start by talking about the tri- ni -set,  a device that guides the growth and development of life on Earth while maintaining  the  balance of its life force. This device was separated into  two sets of rings and one set of pacifiers currently administered by who you know as the man in the Iron Hat. Each set has its own notion of time they safeguard.”  

At this he glances at  Tsuna , who nods, not daring to look up from the table. “The  Vongola  rings safeguard the past, while the Mare rings are in charge of the parallel  timelines . The Arcobaleno pacifiers instead are fixed  points  in time, maintaining the balance of both sets of rings.  

“Each has its own type of course, of course. However, the rings are sealed as to not drive the user crazy while the pacifiers are not. In short, it uses your bodies as batteries, making the flames of the Earth pass through you to cleanse them.”  

There’s a moment of silence.  

“And you  really think we will   believe  this?” Lal snorts, ready to stand up, but one look  at  the serious face of the young Sky in front of her stops her. “What?”  

He turns away, towards Verde. “Do you have my phone on you?”  

What?  

The Verde guy pulls out some kind of rectangle out of the inside of his jacket and gives it to  Tsuna , who starts fiddling with it immediately. Lal is amazed to see the seeming crystal light up, icons appearing inside.   

“What’s that?” Skull asks, Lal silently agreeing with him.  

“This is a phone,” he says as if he were talking about the weather. “But you’re right, it’s not from this time. I’m not from this time either. I—I wanted to help you.” His fingers pause, his eyes becoming watery. “Usually after the role of an  arcobaleno  is  d one, they die. And I couldn’t let you die like that. Not after being cursed in those bodies for so long.”  

Lal frowns, not understanding. Luckily, she's not the only one. The Chinese man places his hand on top of  Tsuna’s  when he falls silent, causing him to startle a little. “ Tsuna .”  

“I’m sorry,” he whispers, looking at them all. “I didn’t recognize you when I met you. I thought—I...” The hand around his own tightens and he presses one last finger on the screen of the ‘phone’. It opens an image. One  Tsuna  turns for them to have a better look on.  

It’s of a couple of babies, all surrounding a small girl. She doesn’t find anything weird about it at first glance but by the sudden intake of breath coming from the other Sky in the room, she understands.  

“Is that...?”  

“Yes, she’s  Yuni . Your granddaughter.” He looks down again. “And those babies are you all, with the curse on.”  

Lal wants to question what he does mean but then she inspects better the image and looks at the babies on it, especially at the one with blue hair and injured face. The clothes are of a familiar style, the same with the hair. And those eyes. Those eyes are hers. She looks at the others and sees similarities with the other people on this room, but there’s one more. A blonde baby with a familiar bandana.  

“That’s...” she doesn’t finish. She doesn’t think she can with the sudden weight settling in her stomach. Because that’s  Colonello .

Chapter Text

 

Tsuna watches their expressions as they look at the picture, their faces mostly showing confusion. He caresses Mamoru with a finger and looks away, his gaze settling in the pile of pacifiers on the table. He holds his hand up and is unsurprised to see the orange pacifier roll towards him. He grabs it, ignoring the way it takes some of his flames. He sighs just as Lal says, "That's…"

He doesn't look up, not wanting to see the horrifying realization in their faces. "The pacifiers," he finishes for her. "You were cursed the moment you touched them. Just like that."

Deciding to demonstrate, he makes a small link of flames connect to the pacifier, lighting it up for a moment.

That may have been a mistake as it's not a moment later that Lal Mitch grabs him from the collar of his shirt, pulling him close. She's screaming about something but he doesn't hear her as he's concentrating on trying to keep the link as thin as possible.

"Are you listening to me?!" she yells, shaking him hard and making the pacifier fall to the table.

"Crap," he's able to mutter before pain wrecks his body. He arches his body when an unexpected sharp sensation hits him, a silent scream leaving past his lips. A long second passes until the pain and every other feeling recedes, leaving him numb, faint tremors assaulting his body from time to time. He's on the verge of losing consciousness and it's by pure force of will he stays awake. His pants fell off when he lost height, leaving only the shirt he was wearing to cover his modesty. Not that he cares about that at the moment.

It takes him a couple more seconds for him to recover enough to look at his tiny arm covered in cloth.

"… Tsuna?"

He flinches slightly before looking up from where he's sitting on the table. There's a hand hovering above him, large and intimidating, connected to the worried face of Skull.

"Yes?" he says as if he hasn't just turned into a toddler, ignoring how childish and sweet his voice sounds.

The stuntman seems to be at loss of words now that it's been confirmed it is him. He tries to approach again but Daemon grabs him first, making sure to be careful in holding his sensitive skin.

"One would have thought that one incident would have been enough, Tsunayoshi-kun," he says, being careful in taking the shirt off of him. Tsuna struggles, cheeks reddening, but even if in this form he has more strength than a normal toddler, it's nothing compared to the strength Daemon boasts. Soon, the shirt is no longer there, but instead he's wearing a tiny suit not unlike the one he wore yesterday at the Ball.

He looks down at his new attire before looking up at the Mist. He receives a small wave in response from the ghost. He coughs but before he's able to say something or even turn around to see what the others think of this sudden change he's interrupted by a face leaning close.

"How is this possible?" Verde murmurs as his hands hover around his form. He seems elated and worried at the same time as he examines him, their harmonized flames seeking to reassure the other. He takes out a weird expandible ruler from who knows where and starts quickly taking measures of various parts of his body. While this is going on Tsuna can't resist anymore and turns to watch the others.

They're literally frozen in place. Though when his eyes land on the form of his friends, the spell breaks. Soon, they walk forward until they're close. Not enough to count as crowding but definitely at a distance Hibari would have growled at.

"Is this…?" Fong doesn't finish but he doesn't need to. Tsuna nods, his eyes going from the ground to them.

"Unlike you, I accepted the curse. After all, it was the only way for me to remain in this time without dying. I-I wanted to stop this from happening to you but I was an idiot for not explaining sooner, for not realizing who you were."

He can feel tears gathering in the corner of his eyes and while he knows it's this child's body the one making him more emotional, he can't help but add this reaction as another of his failures. He chuckles wetly, shaking his head. His eyes are tired and his whole-body aches something fierce. He wants to take a nap but he knows he can't do that. Not now.

Renato runs a hand through his messy hair, to soothe Tsuna or himself, he doesn't know, but it's a distraction he's willing to take. He feels a small trail of Sun flames going through his frame, not invasive, just inspecting. For wounds and to know if there are no Mist flames in him besides the clothes he's wearing. To know this is not a perfectly crafted illusion made to trick them.

The lack of trust, the assumption that a friend of his doesn't trust him enough to not believe in his words, hurts. He knows it's illogical to accept something like the arcobaleno curse without confirming. He knows that it's smart for him to confirm.

It still hurts.

Someone coughs and he turns around, ignoring the slightly guilty look Renato shots him, to look apprehensively at Lal Mirch who looks between a mixture of angry and horrified, both emotions warring in her faces.

Anger wins.

"Who is the male with the bandana?" she asks in a deadly tone.

Tsuna tries to even his breath, to not show his tiredness. He's not successful. "That's Colonello. He tried to save you in the original timeline, but it didn't work. He ended up cursed instead."

Lal visibly swallows but other than that, she doesn't show any other negative sign. She just nods firmly, gazing at his form with pity and then she sits down. "We are cursed and it's your fault. You were saying?"

"Aren't you going to apologize to little Tsunayoshi-kun for making him turn?" Daemon asks with a sharp smile. Lal doesn't even bother rolling her eyes though going on by the narrowing of her eyes, it's obvious she wants to do so. Tsuna doesn't know why, but Daemon keeps insisting, "The last time this happened he was unconscious for four hours. It's miracle he's awake now. And it's all for you, you ungratef-"

He places a tiny hand on the Mist's arm. Not less than a second after, Daemon's aggressive posture melts away to his placid, uncaring one. He leans back, not acknowledging Tsuna's curious gaze.

He doesn't have any more time to ponder this out of character action when he soon has a concerned Storm hovering above him, his eyes as warm as always.

"I'm fine," he says, touching lightly the large hand caressing his cheek. He gives him a sad smile. "I've never wondered how you guys saw everything. At least not until I knew about your curse. Now I can help but wonder how you guy did it. How were you so strong... I-I was so naïve."

"You're not naïve, Tsuna." He pats his head with care, as if afraid he will break him. He turns his head to look at the others, a fierce glare so unlike his usual calm façade. "Perhaps we can discuss this at another time, when you're well enough."

Tsuna shakes his head, grimacing slightly at how his vision swims because of the movement. "They need to know. I don't want to keep putting it off. "

Skull takes a step forward. "I-I came here for answers. Well, and to find you. The man in the Iron Hat told me I would find you here. Don't worry though! It not for something bad!" he added as he saw Fong stepping lightly in front of him. "Mostly I wanted to give you back your ring; it saved me."

He pushes a familiar ring still on his fingers towards Tsuna. "Thank you. The Vindice would've killed me or something if I hadn't it with me."

Tsuna grabs the ring and immediately a ball of orange fire comes out of it, forming into a small lion. Natsu purrs happily as he leaps into the Sky's arms. The now toddler laughs in innocent delight as he hugs his little friend as if it were normal to have flaming animals come out of rings. Though considering his necklace turns into a snake, it shouldn't surprise anyone too much.

"Oh, how much I missed you, Natsu," he whispers as he hugs him, tears gathering in the corner of his eyes. He lets his small friend go, using the back of his hand to clean off the tears. "I'm sorry. This body's hormones are undeveloped. I can't seem to control my emotions as easily as I would otherwise."

"Never apologize for something as innocuous as that," Renato says, leaning forward and tilting Tsuna's head up with a single finger. Finally, he can see the hitman's face, no longer shrouded by shadows as he looks directly into his eyes. "Can't have my Sky excuse himself for such trivialities, can I?"

Tsuna's breath hitches. He grabs the large finger between his hands and leans into its touch, blushing lightly.

"I thought you would change your mind after…"

Renato flicks his forehead with his free hand, stopping him from continuing.

"I don't change my mind that easily, you know. You're mine." He glances towards Luce. "No offense to you, ma'am, but if this curse needs us to harmonize then I'm afraid we'll have to find another way."

"No offense taken," she says with a small amused smile, but his intuition still tingles in the same way it does when someone lies.

He'll have to talk to her in private after this. Though he admits to himself that just the thought of having to do that made him tired. The emotion must have shown plainly in his face because even Lal looked concerned when he tried to sit.

Daemon made a tut-tut noise before lifting him up. "No need to worry. I'll explain everything to you. You should meditate, Tsunayoshi-kun. Drain off the curse."

'You're being awfully nice,' he wants to say but his intuition, now stronger because of the curse, tells him it'll ruin some progress going on, so he doesn't say anything. Instead, he nods once as Daemon will probably be the best choice to talk without breaking down or leaving things out because of weariness. And if he does leave things out, well, the others can always ask for clarification after he's returned to his body.

"Are you okay with that?" he asks to the others, just to be sure.

They don't look at each other as they nod, though it does take them a second of hesitance before they do so.

A second Daemon chooses that moment to come out of the Mist's body. The clone picks him up, ignoring Viper's distressed 'Mou' as he takes him out of the room. Tsuna still manages to wave the now Arcobaleno. "Come find me when it's over."

- x -

It takes him three hours to change to his old body. Luckily whatever illusion covering his body still works out and has stretched with his own body. He still feels naked, though. And terribly sore. Not to mention how sweaty he is, which makes the clothes even more uncomfortable as they look all pristine while Tsuna is red on the face, panting on the floor. He tries to stand up, only to end up looking like a baby giraffe giving its first steps. It's all the more humiliating because of Daemon's clone who is in the room with him, sitting on a comfortable chair as he watches amusedly as Tsuna struggles.

After hearing him chuckling for the third time, Tsuna growls. He turns to look at the man but ends up stumbling, face hitting Daemon's knee, which unfortunately for him, it's solid.

He moans in pain as he uses gentle hands to rub his nose. He looks up from where he's sprawled on Daemon's feet when he hears another surprised laugh coming out of the Mist. A surprising honest sound. He pouts, making sure the other can see him, before he leans his sweaty face on the knee and rubbing his face on his pants, hoping to at least leave a mark with his sweat.

It only earns him a condescending pat on his head.

The sound of the door opening makes Tsuna look up. The first to enter is Renato, who merely raises an eyebrow at his position as he holds the others for the others to walk in, before saying, "Am I interrupting something?"

Tsuna gives him a confused look before shrugging it off, using Daemon's thighs as leverage to stand up. He shakes his head when a wave of dizziness hits him. He gives the others a glance before looking down at his sweaty form. A blush creeps up his cheeks. "Maybe I should take a shower first," he says, scratching the side of his neck.

Daemon stands up and offers his arm. It takes a second too long before he understands the meaning. With clumsy steps he goes to the bathroom, being guided by Daemon.

Once alone, Tsuna is not surprised to see the clothes vanish from his body, what he's surprised to find are the real clothes neatly folded outside the shower part of the bathroom. They are similar to the ones he wore yesterday night, without the mask of course. Leaving the tie Daemon put behind, Tsuna goes outside wearing an expensive suit that probably costs more than his salary in a whole year.

The Arcobaleno are sitting in the living room with Lal and Skull on one couch while Renato and Fong take the other. Luce sits on a loveseat alone while Verde walks following a pattern only he can understand, both hands holding a couple of papers. Viper is the only other standing, next to the window, where the light can't touch them. The rays of the sun light the room dark orange as it's late making every space it touches warm and comforting. It goes well with the warm décor, one perfectly made to hosts Skies, as Daniela told him once she presented him the room. Not that he can bask in the warm feeling his flames give the room, not with all the Arcobaleno present. Not when their gazes immediately snap to him, overwhelming in their intensity.

"So," he starts, feeling self-conscious as he scratches his neck. "You know now, right?"

"That you did a reckless thing as is jumping through a portal without knowing the consequences? Or that you were unable to move for hours until you were lucky the same... 'being' found you?"

He flinches at Fong's sharp tone. It's easy to assume he's angry and nothing more but Tsuna knows, thanks to his intuition, that Fong is mostly angry at himself. More than that, he's worried and hurt.

"Not that we aren't grateful!" Skull is quick to intervene, earnest. "I am. And I think everyone here is too, but-"

"But you could have prepared, Tsuna," Reborn interrupts, giving a silencing glare at Skull's 'Hey!' "From what we've heard, you came here with only your clothes and rings, nothing else. What were you thinking?"

Tsuna doesn't like the way his voice becomes flatter with each word he says, lips pursing. It reminds him of Reborn, of the few times he saw him really annoyed. They're totally unlike each other physically but the way those eyes glint is the same.

It hurts. That small reminder of his home. It hurts, but it also angers.

"I wasn't thinking," he says through gritted teeth, his voice rising with his next words. "I just saw an opportunity to save you all and took it. What other choice I had when I found out you always expected to die a dog's death?! All the times we were having fun with everyone and you-you always had...! Argh!"

He ruffles his hair, not caring if he's a mess after that. He points at Reborn. "You were an infuriating person who liked to make my life hell." Lal. "You were always a trigger happy woman." Verde. "You once tried to experiment on me and my friends." Fong. "You... Er, well, you left I-Pin to take care of. And that wasn't very responsible, sir!"

With his anger mostly off, he sighs as he turns at last to Skull. "And you were the one who I think got the worse off of the deal."

He slumps on the free seat Daemon conjures behind him. He gives a nod in thanks before turning to the others again. "Did he tell you about me?"

"About you being the Decimo of Vongola, yes," Lal says, crossing her arms. "He also said Reborn was sent to train you and that's how you met us all."

Tsuna nods, turning away from Renato's scrutinizing eyes. "I was just a normal kid before that."

Fong narrows his eyes. "A sealed one, weren't you?"

"... Yeah." He coughs, trying to stay away from that topic as much as he can. "There was the Representative Battle and well, we found out that what happened to the Arcobaleno after the curse is off is that they turn into Vindice."

"Well, more like they die and then the leader of the Vindice revived them."

"Shut up, D—Er, Mist-san." He runs a hand through his hair. "We couldn't help you because—"

"Your Mist-san explained us," Viper reminds him. "Time is money, so let's not waste it. We know our future selves couldn't be saved because we weren't harmonized with the same Sky."

"You told me you had hidden motives when we harmonized..." At Tsuna's flinch, Verde adds, "It's okay, very pragmatic actually."

"... I actually didn't know at the time. I just—My intuition suggested it and, well,"

"I understand, though I admit that I want to investigate more about this intuition of yours."

Skull leans forward, arms resting on his knees. "So that's what we're going to do now? Harmonize? Then we can escape the curse?"

A hand rests on Tsuna's head. He doesn't need to turn to see it belongs to Daemon, but why—

"Yes, yes, little Tsunayoshi-kun needs to harmonize with all of you." Daemon ruffles his hair, Mist flames subtly covering his body. "He would do it the quick way, but from what I hear it's too intimate for his little heart to take it."

The hand leaves his head just in time for Tsuna to blush furiously at the memories he has of the 'quick version'. He throws a quick glance at Verde and is surprised to see the man's lip curling up.

"I prefer the 'get-to-know-you' way, yes."

"I'm okay with that, too," Lal adds, her eyes set on a fierce glare. She has obviously been told in what consists the quick way. "Though just for your information, we've decided to accept the jobs we were promised before."

Tsuna blinks in surprise. He turns to Luce who pulls out a file from who knows where. "While you will be their Sky, I still will be the one to give you missions. An intermediary, if you will."

"And you're all okay with that?" he asks everyone, just to be sure.

Fong is the first one to nod. "If we will be Elements together then we should know how to work with each other."

"And the money, too," Viper adds.

"...Okay? If you're fine with that, then I am too. What's our first mission?"

They all look at each other before Renato is the one to speak, bluntly. "You won't be going with us."

"W-What?"

Fong leans forward this time. "We can't risk you, Tsuna."

"You can't deny me information." He looks at Daemon. "I've my ways to know anyways. And if you don't let me come, I'll sneak in then."

He visibly swallows as he says those last words. He doesn't know why he's so adamant to come but...

"You will compromise the mission, just for what?" Renato asks, playing hurt so good he doesn't know what would he do without his intuition. "Your lack of trust on us?"

"It's not that! I just—I need to at least be there for this mission." That's true. He himself doesn't know what's important about this mission or why he's being so insistent but it's already a second nature to trust his instincts so he will do so.

Again, they look between each other. Though this time it's Lal the one who speaks up. "I say let him in. We can learn more about him if he's to come. But understand this. You'll be in this mission because it's more of a test run. You will sit the others out." She lets out a breath. "We now know more about our situation and you, but that's still not enough.

"So, what are your capabilities?"

He blinks. "Well, I'm pretty good at hand to hand, though I'm better at using my flames to fight. I also have a pretty acute intuition and can see through most, if not all, illusions. I'm also good at adapting in weird situations, I guess."

Adapting with resignation, but still adapting anyways.

Lal nods her head. "The deadline is for two days from now on so better explain to you what's the problem. Luce?"

Not opening the file resting on her legs, she starts. "The Client is Andrea Mortego. His father has died recently and as he's the third out of four in succession for the position of Don. He wants both of his older siblings dead."

She gives him a look, probably expecting some reaction coming from him but other than the narrowing of his eyes, he doesn't show much else.

"Two days from now, they will be all attending to the performance of his older brother's fiancée, Luciana, at Teatro Estrella in Spain. The second brother, Marco, is in love with Luciana and plans to use this day to kill the older brother, Piero, for her hand."

Trying to guess what is the correct question, he ends up asking, "Security?"

"Maco travels with an armed escort whenever he comes to the rehearsals, so it's safe to say it'll be the same for this day. Piero's guards are more inconspicuous. They're hidden between the theatre's own security."

Renato nods his head before adding with a shrug, "According to the client he can also provide us some costumes in case we want to infiltrate the place."

"Have you got a plan already?"

"Well, Verde here is better suited to give us support. He told us he can hack the cameras and has invented some devices to maintain the contact between us and him all the time."

Leaning forward, Lal Mirch adds, "I'm used to working in teams so I'll be accompanying Verde."

"Fong and Reborn are known so they will have no problem getting in using their own popularity. Skull will work inside along with Viper."

"What about me?"

Renato hums as he thinks, before giving him a smirk that makes him feel dirty and flustered at once. "I always go with arm candy, you could be that."

Tsuna blinks. "You would go with a male?"

At Renato's raised eyebrow, Tsuna remembers how at ease the Hitman is of his own sexuality and position. But still, it's not a stupid question to make. In this time, homosexuality is still seen as a taboo.

"Tsuna is right. Even with your fame, bringing a male will bring too much attention. Attention we want to avoid."

"Who says he will go as a male," Renato says wickedly. It brings a shiver down his spine. Of the bad kind.

- x -

After an hour of rehearsing some basic plan, Tsuna is finally alone in his room. Daemon is nowhere to be seen, probably doing the things he does whenever he has free time like stealing candy from children or killing some innocent family.

… Whoa. If his thoughts easily go to killing without cringing, well, he's become jaded then.

He sighs. They've all agreed to leave him be for some time alone but he's sure it'll not be long before Fong or Renato come inside. He should probably use this time better instead of brooding on a corner, but for some reason, he can't just forget the feeling of Daemon's flames running through his body when he was asked if all it was needed was for them to harmonize.

He didn't answer, then. He couldn't. Daemon knew this and acted accordingly. Using his flames to making it seem as he hadn't had any outward reaction when in truth he was ready to flinch. He's sure not even Viper saw through them as Daemon's mastery with Mist flames is only second to Kawahira's.

It makes him feel guilty, not being able to tell them. He could, he knows he could, but why make them suffer through knowing there will not be an instant cure.

They'll hate me, he thinks as he wraps his arms around his knees. They would be right to do so.

Not that there's any way to fix it. Or at least that's what he tells himself as he sighs and stands up. He should probably go and talk with Skull as he's the one less used to this Mafia business and the one who was the quietest of them all in their talk.

As he walks to the door, he thinks in all the conversation starters he can that will make Skull comfortable. Probably best to begin with safe topics. Or would he prefer being blunt and just ask him if he's alright?

Tsuna shakes his head as he opens the door. He doesn't know but as their Sky is his job to—

Renato is leaning next to the door.

They lock gazes for long seconds. He's the first to break the silence with "How long have you waited there?"

"I never left."

"Oh," is his smart reply. His Japanese upbringing makes him apologize and move to the side to let the man in. Not that Renato needs permission to let himself inside, of course. He's pushy like that. Reborn was the same too, so—

He doesn't get to finish that thought as he soon finds himself being trapped between two arms. He reflexively leans away, his back pressed to the wall.

"I don't like that when you look me like that." At Tsuna's look of confusion, he clarifies, "I told you before, didn't I? You look at me and see another person. I could shrug it off before, but how can I do it now knowing is myself you're comparing me to?"

Shame makes him look downwards, away from those piercing eyes. He wants to say sorry but something tells him that's not what Renato wants to hear.

"Don't apologize. It's understandable. Just tell me… what was my future self to you?"

"A friend," he answers immediately. "He was my tutor. Harsh and eccentric, he always called me No good but he never gave up on me and he was someone I could trust. Someone I could ask for advice. I know it's unfair to you to sometimes see him in you but don't ever think I don't view you as yourself. He was my Reborn, but you're Renato to me."

There's a silence between them in which Tsuna tries to tell him just with his gaze how honest he is.

It's because he's watching him closely that he can see the way those eyes soften. A real smile curls his lips as he tilts his gaze to the side. "Didn't I say? It's understandable if you see him in me. We're the same, after all."

Tsuna shakes his head. "You're not the same. My Reborn sealed away some of his memories to start again. He wasn't like you."

Renato's smile widens. "Should I feel jealous of you calling my future self 'my Reborn' when you don't claim that level of possessiveness with me?"

He can feel himself blushing but he still stands firm as he says, "You're a different kind of mine too."

"Ho?" he whispers as he leans in. "Does that mean now you accept me as your Sun? Tell me, was I your Sun in the future, too? No, wait. Don't answer that. I was your tutor, supposed to be impartial. I couldn't be yours. Did you have another Sun then?"

He nods. "Yes, nii-san was my Sun."

"Your brother?"

"He wasn't my blood brother. He just treated me like if I was one. He was the older brother of… Kyoko-chan."

"Is that longing I hear? Perhaps a crush?"

Now he's definitely blushing, but he can't also help the smile he wears as he thinks of her. Of her gentle smile and warm eyes. Perhaps one of his biggest regrets is not telling her—

Lips meet his own, demanding, unlike the other couple of times they kissed, but the hand that cradles his head is gentle as it turns it to a better angle. Then the kiss turns into something wet and open-mouthed. Tsuna doesn't want to stop, not when he feels so good.

Tsuna reaches with his flames to the Hitman, pulling him closer. Now that he knows he can harmonize with them, he feels as if a weight has been lifted from him. The restraint he had to enforce himself for so long now is over. He can snap their flames together, but while he can feel the amount of love Renato feels for him through their flames, gentle Sun flames push his own off, slowly disentangling him away from his own.

He's slightly surprised, so much so that he turns his head to the side sharply, making their teeth knock together and stop their kiss as unexpectedly as it started.

Tsuna cringes internally at his bad move. His breathing is slightly labored, eyes still half-lidded as he watches confusedly at Renato who chuckles as if he's been told a funny joke. They're still close, he can feel his nose brushing against his cheeks and his warm breath on his cheeks.

"What?"

"Nothing, nothing," he says, laugh still in his eyes. "I just have a selfish wish, something I always wanted to do with my Sky but…"

Oh whoa. If he didn't know any better, he would think Renato is embarrassed, but that's impossible… right?

As soon as that sheepish, embarrassed expression appears, it's gone in the next second. All that's left is a smooth, hungry look that would have made him instinctively step back if he wasn't pressed against a wall already.

Soon a hard chest is pressed against his own, hands slowly trail his sides before settling on his hips. His voice drops an octave as he asks, "What do you think of us having sex?"

Tsuna is sure his blush makes his whole face go red, not even the tips of his ears are safe from such bold words.

"You like kissing me, but would you be okay if we were to take a step forward?"

Drawing strength from his flames, Tsuna takes a deep breath to calm himself and takes a wild shot, "You want to harmonize while having sex?"

Well, he hopes his voice doesn't sound as high pitched as it does to his own ears.

"Yup," Renato fucking chirps. "Call it fantasy, but I always thought to do it that way if I had a Sky I was sexually attracted to."

"Oh."

"Don't get me wrong, I'm okay with doing it the other way," the vanilla way, Tsuna's mind supplies, "but I also know there's been some sexual tension between us for some time now, so I take it as shooting two birds with a stone."

Okay, okay. Just think calm thoughts, don't think of the half-hard member that now you cannot stop thinking about pressed against your stomach.  Or the hands that are massaging your sides, or about the handsome man who just admitted to being attracted—

Easier said than done.

In his panic, Tsuna pushes forward his flames, enough to be a hair away from going hyper mode. He feels his flush recede and his calm return. And, well, he can't deny the truth of Renato's words. And it has been a long while since he was with a man. So he takes a deep breath as he wraps his arms around Renato's neck and pulls him close.

Is not a yes but he doesn't think he can voice anything at this moment.

- x -

 

The desperation from before is gone. He's sure of his movements as he presses Tsuna closer. One hand is pulling gently on his Sky's hair while the other has a tight grip on his ass, using that same grip to lift him up slightly until his thigh is between the shorter's legs. Tsuna mewls at the contact and it seems the little Sky can't help but dry hump him, a needy action that makes his half hardened member stand to attention. Renato smirks under the breathy groan and, using his free hand, he starts to wonder under Tsuna's clothes, slowly unbuttoning his shirt to reveal the young man's chest.

Renato slowly trails down his tongue and kisses along the collarbone to those perky aroused nipples. He can't resist the smirk that forms in his lips even if he wants to, not with the lewd sight in front of him.

"Tsuna," he whispers with his deep aroused voice, causing the shorter man to quiver in anticipation. "You love this don't you, little Sky? Just look how inviting your nipples are." As if to highlight his words, he blows air on one of said nipples.

Tsuna flushes in embarrassment, using a free arm to push his face away. "Shut up!" he says, but there's a hint of whimper in his voice as he says so.

Renato chuckles, biting the palm of his Sky while he uses a hand to pinch one nipple. "Don't lie to me, Tsuna. I'm punishing you for thlat lie" 

"I, ah." Tsuna mewls again, this time in pleasure and delicious pain, uncovering his face and using that arm to wrap it around Renato's shoulders, gripping on them so tight he wouldn't be surprised to find nail marks later. "Please... I'm sorry. I'm-" 

He stops to softly moan when Renato starts to gently suck and lick on one perky nipple while he uses his hand to roll and rub on the other nub. 

"Oh," he says, breathless. "Yes, yes, yes. Like that." 

He looks up and sees Tsuna's eyes half-lidded, face flush all the way to his ears in a pretty rosy color, a trail of saliva dripping down at the corner of his lips. 

Seeing Tsuna so inviting and erotic, hearing him making such inciting noises for only a small amount of foreplay, Renato can't help but feel this emotional rush of possessiveness, this want to have all Tsuna has to offer

Mine, he thinks as he captures Tsuna's mouth, devouring all those beautiful moans. 

They just spend a couple long minutes like that, devouring each other against a wall, Tsuna lightly thrusting against him. And it'snot enough, not when Renato can feel the hardened length of his Sky against his thigh. The heat of their bodies is intoxicating, but he needs more. The kiss, done thoroughly and with care, only works to crumple his self-control even further.  He's ready to ask for more when a hand on his chest pushes him away with care. He stops the kiss, smirking at the obvious way Tsuna admires the Hitman's crumpled state. His hair must be a mess from where Tsuna pulled whenever Renato bit the side of his neck. 

"No that—that I don't like this," the Sky starts, a pant between each word, "but I wa- need more." 

Two hands go to Tsuna's ass, lifting him up. The little Sky instinctively wraps his legs around his waist, arms never leaving their position around his neck. Years of experience makes opening the door to the bedroom with Tsuna in his arms something of a child's play. 

"Tell me what do you want me to do," Renato demands softly as he lays Tsuna's on the bed. He can see Tsuna's toes curls at the tone of his voice as he stands up to pull on his necktie loose. 

It makes him feel incredibly smug.

Tsuna smiles as innocent as he can with the flush on his face and his rapid breathing. "I thought you wouldn't need pointers, or do you?" He raises a brow at the last bit to tease the Hitman a little. 

Renato growls playfully as he takes off his jacket. Tsuna decides to follow his example and starts unbuttoning his pants, letting the button shirt he wears slide down his shoulders. 

"Don't worry, soon you won't care and will scream all your sweet demands." 

Tsuna huffs as he pulls out his socks. "Sorry to disappoint but I'm not a screamer." He looks up, probably expecting to meet his smug expression with a glare but he stops instead, gulping.

"We'll see," Renato says, preening like a peacock at the attention Tsuna gives at his semi-nude body. 

Tsuna bites his lower lip when Renato's pants and underwear go down and he has a perfect view of his dick. It's a pretty one, if he's honest to himself, not too thick to hurt but definitely to feel it. Going from Tsuna's expression, the Sky knows it too and wants it. 

Renato gives himself a good, slow stroke and is pleased to find Tsuna's eyes following the movement, almost drooling at the sight. 

"See something you like, tesoro?" 

Tsuna nods without thinking, leaning forward as Renato steps closer. The aroma of their musk is a heady thing as Tsuna presses his hand against his firm stomach, being careful of the faint scars he finds, before slowly lowering it until he's touching Renato's own hand as he keeps stroking himself. 

Then Renato let's go and Tsuna's hand is alone as he grips the member loosely. 

"Lick it," Renato says, his now free hand carding through his hair, not pulling him close, just there. Not that he needs more motivation. His little Sky leans in with gusto, licking from the base to the tip in one slow movement, taking special care to pay attention to the tip before repeating the action a couple of times.  

Tsuna looks up and Renato takes pleasure in seeing his half-lidded gaze as he watches him. 

"You like it, don't you?" he whispers as he tries to not put his dick inside Tsuna's mouth and fuck him like that. "Only you will be able to hold this much power over me."

Tsuna leans back, his hand continuing stroking him. "Can I suck you off?" 

"Oh, tesoro, you can do anything you want with me. Just you." 

Tsuna smiles before going down and taking a good part of his length in his mouth, being careful to hollow his cheeks and use his hand to the part he can't reach. He goes up and down in a slow action before quickening his speed. Alternating between those two tempos, he works like that for a couple of minutes, the only sounds in the room being Renato's heavy breathing and the wet sounds of Tsuna's mouth. It's cute how he makes sure to look up from time to time to motivate himself but even he can notice the slight ache of his jaw as it cramps. 

Soon after Renato thinks this, Tsuna pulls off to rest while he continues to stroke him. His own free hand is between his legs, jerking himself at a slower pace. 

"I want you to come in my mouth," he murmurs as he opens and closes his mouth to make it ache less. He doesn't seem to realize that he's said that out loud as he plans to soon continue, but Renato can't let him, not after hearing such bold declaration, so he stops him with the same hand previously petting his head. 

"I want you on your knees now." 

Tsuna gives Renato's member one last longing look before he obeys. 

He chuckles. "Other day you can finish me off with your mouth alone." 

Tsuna turns around to stick his tongue out before grabbing a pillow and positioning it just right so his neck won't be sore with each thrust he receives.

Well, it seems my little Sky has experience with being taken from behind, he grumbles internally with some jealousy. 

Once Tsuna's in position, he uses a hand to roam his back, kneading his ass before touching Tsuna's own dick, giving it a good firm trust, so unlike the loosened onesTsuna himself used to jerk himself. It makes him gasp. He doesn't touch it for long, just some long seconds, alternating between leaving kisses on his back, enough for his fingers to be coated with precum

"I wanted to take my time with you, prepare you nice and slow. But what can I do when you give me those looks?" 

A finger encircles Tsuna's hole before slowly pushing it inside. He doesn't react until the moment he starts moving it faster, Tsuna's own breathing following that pattern. When the second finger tries to go in, usually when the discomfort starts, he tenses for second before forcing himself to relax. Renato's other hand jerks him off in synchronization with his fingers to help him ease the pain.

It's soon when Tsuna starts panting as the fingers begin scissoring him, his hips pushing against the hand. The third finger seems to hurt him less but still. He bites his neck to make him think other things. 

Then he seems to reach it. 

"Un! Th—There. Yes, yes," he hisses softly as his thrusts become more frantic. "Renato, more." 

"Your wish is my command," Renato murmurs against his skin. When his fingers go out, Tsuna lets out a small whine, but that sound finishes quickly when he feels Renato's tip on his ass. It goes inside him with a little difficulty at the beginning, Tsuna's ass pressing around his dick almost uncomfortably tight. Renato groans and grabs his hips with both hands, easing himself with exquisite care. Slowly, his member slides up into him, filling him. Pleasure and pain detonate within him at the movement. It explodes deep within his belly then blazes up his spine to burn in the back of his skull. 

He groans lowly, satisfied to see Tsuna in the same condition, if his breathing and the way he's biting his arm are anything to go by.

The first thrusts are shallow enough for Tsuna to use as an opportunity to catch his breath. 

He then braces himself when the thrusts are slow but makes the cheeks of Tsuna's ass touch his balls as he goes deeper, a small slap like sound loud in the too quiet room. Tsuna hums when Renato gains speed and soon all coherent thought dissolves under the fierce pleasure of his cock slamming into Tsuna. 

Tsuna turns his head to the side and pants harshly, a couple of soft moans leaving him from time to time. 

It's not long when he finds Tsuna's hole quivering around his dick, the little Sky's pants coming out harsher as he grabs tightly the sheets. Seemingly searching for some reprieve, Tsuna reaches the Hitman's flames with his own, and Renato relishes in the feeling of them intertwining. 

Harmonization snaps into place with alarming ease after that. He can soon feel Tsuna's own pleasure as if it were his own. He can feel him in an intimate way he couldn't before. The weight those thin shoulders holds as he tries to save them-save him. It's amazing, especially to feel it when he's fucking His Sky with such force. He soon can't take it for long. And when Tsuna's body shivers and turns his head enough for him to see Renato, he can see the beautiful face of His Sky set into a breathtaking, relieved smile.

"I—I'll come. Renato, I—" 

Renato hushes him with a sharp smile, "Not yet, tesoro." 

He pulls out, receiving a whine from Tsuna. Not that he has time to complain when the next second Renato is rolling him onto his back. He gets to see perfectly Renato's beaming face as he goes down to kiss him like a starving man, sucking hard on his tongue and near biting Tsuna in the process. Renato then sits up and pulls one of His Sky leg up and onto his shoulder. He turns him on his side. With one hand firm on each tight, he begins pounding into him. 

He doesn't know how much time passes, he only knows that harmonization has left him in a drunk-like state, making everything so much sharper. Soon Renato is groaning above Tsuna, releasing inside him and filling the young man's stomach, happy to hear Tsuna moaning in satisfaction at the wonderful feeling of their flames stroking each other. 

Tsuna shudders again and Renato can feel it in the quiver of His Sky's hole, the tight coil of pleasure deep inside his belly poised to explode into release. 

He stops it with a hand wrapping around the base of Tsuna's dick. 

"Ancora," says Renato, his eyes hooded with a deep hunger. 

"Renato!" Tsuna gasps in shock, his release retreating back into his balls.  

Panting for breath, Renato falls atop him, his cock still buried deep. "Ancora," he repeats, before taking his lips once again in a fierce, short kiss that ends when he grabs Tsuna's shoulder and withdraws his cock. It's still hard, the perks of being a Sun. He then opens Tsuna's thighs wide and lifts half of his body up, folding him in half. Renato licking his lips he enters with a hard thrust.  

Tsuna moans at the fullness he must be feeling, the new position reaching deeper inside of him, causing him to shudder strongly. Renato continues to pound inside him, loving the renewed tightness, it wasn't long for Renato to explode inside that hole again. 

"Coming. I'm-" Tsuna sobs as Renato releases inside him again. And as before, when he is about to release, Renato grips his erected bulging cock, stopping him from coming. But even so, Tsuna's eyes rolls up as his body shudders, fists clutching tightly on the sheets and his teeth clenched tight into a grit set in unimaginable pleasure. He calms down after long seconds, long seconds which Renato spends watching him with hawk-like intensity. "Um?" he murmurs, dazedly, not seeming to understand what just happened. 

Renato's lips forms into a devious smile as his eyes glints; a predator eyeing its prey. "Tsuna." He licks the right side of Tsuna's ear, whispering into it. "How much more lewd can you get."

Shivers run down his spine from the lick or the voice, Renato doesn't know. 

"Wah?" Tsuna's confused look is just too irresistible.

"Dry orgasm." Renato's pulls out his still hard erection, thanking once again his Sun flame constitution, changing positions once again. He grabs Tsuna's legs and places them around his waist, gripping on Tsuna's waist. "This is going to get more fun." Renato devious devilish smile widens. He pulls Tsuna's waist as he thrust his hips forward, pounding inside him and causing Tsuna to let his first loud scream of the night. 

That's just the beginning of another round of pleasure.

As before, he takes him, comes inside, then stops his release.  

"Ancora, ancora..."  

Then he does it again, and again until time loses meaning.  

Eventually, he ends as he starts, with Tsuna flipped over his belly. "No more. No more."  Tsuna's already a sobbing mess. It's so, so beautiful. "Let me come please, Renato. Please, Ren." 

Renato's hand is firm on his shoulder as he urges His little Sky's ass upward, before nudging his knees wide and leaning over his back. Tsuna barely has time to brace himself with his forearms as he screams himself when Renato enters in one long hard lunge. 

Luckily, the Hitman likes ending in a full circle because that time he does let him come. He pounds into the abused, but still deliciously tight hole. Renato bends over Tsuna's back, slithering his fingers to tease the perky nipples. Pinching them, rolling and rubbing the little nubs to add more stimulation. 

"Almost! Almost!" Tsuna screams in pleasure as Renato peppers kisses around his back and shoulders. 

"Ti amo, mio Cielo." Renato whispers as he kisses Tsuna's neck, delighting in hearing Tsuna's cries of his name.

Renato raises up with his smile widening in wicked delight, answering to his Sky's command, one hand grips tight on the waist and the other snakes to the dripping erect dick of the sobbing Sky under him. "I tuoi desideri sono ordini." 

Renato pounds harder and faster as his hand pumps up and down on the bulging erection of his beautiful adorable little Sky. 

"Coming! Yes, yes, yes!" Tsuna thrust his hips back, timing it with the Hitman's hard thrusts.

Renato feels the tight coil in his lower stomach traveling down through his shaft to the tip of his cock, and feeling the familiar tightness around him, he knows Tsuna is close. And so he pulls out just enough for his tip to be still inside. He then uses his hands to hold tight on his little Sky's waist, giving one last hard thrust to reach deeper inside. 

Tsuna screams silently, his voice seemingly not enough to convey what he wants to say at the feel of his stuffed stomach.

Both shudder as they release all the last bit left inside their balls, Renato inside Tsuna while Tsuna on the pillow beneath him. 

Renato slowly pulls out to admire his work. He turns Tsuna to him and is unsurprised to see him unconscious, his little Sky's hips still lifted up, supported by the pillows under his waist. Renato can see the abused rose hole twitching, as if wanting it to be plugged up, with white substance slowly dripping out and down along his thighs. Tsuna is still convulsing in ecstasy even unconscious, his dripping cock connected to a single thin sticky string to the wet and sticky spot on the bed. It's a magnificent sight to see, so innocent but at the same time so erotic that Renato can't help but smile in pride of his work. But alas he has to clean up, which is a shame.

Wait.

That bastard Mist gave him Tsuna's future phone and Verde taught him how to use it somewhat. If he's not mistaken, he can take photos with it.

He smirks as he stands up to search for his jacket and pulls out the phone and takes lots of commemorating pictures, swearing to his heart that no one will ever find out about this, well maybe except for Tsuna. But that's if he finds it first or they do some kind of sexy role-play. Whichever comes first.

Tsuna's unconscious for a couple minutes, but when he wakes up Renato greets him with a sweet kiss so it's all okay. 

- x-

Tsuna is in the bathroom, taking a well-deserved shower. He now regrets not having a condom in hand as he can feel the come still dripping from his ass. He cleans that part with care as he's a bit sore. The good type of sore, but still sore.

He also takes care of where he's been bitten because touching those marks speaks of trouble and he doesn't want to touch his dick any time soon. He's still a bit sensitive.

It takes him a good half an hour but he's ready to come out. Renato wanted to accompany him but one good kick made it sure of him not asking again. His ass doesn't need another round.

He stops where he's standing, looking at the mirror in front of him. His lips are red and his hair is wet, no longer mused as it was when he entered, but he likes this clean debauched look on him. He touches his chest and just feels the connection now formed between him and Renato. It feels nice like something missing finally has been completed.

The feeling of harmonization is heady. He feels powerful and just seeing the marks his Sun left on him makes him feel loved and wanted.

Whenever he had sex before he felt some level of shyness with his previous partners, there was lingering guilt always with them. He felt as if he had used them, which was true as in some way, he had. Those times his flames weren't in control and the emptiness he felt was overwhelming, but being close to a powerful Element even inactive ones always lessened those feelings.

With a soft sigh, he throws the towel to the side and taking one last look to his naked body, he steps out.

Only to find Fong sitting on the couch, taking a sip of tea with Renato, who is thankfully dressed. Unlike him.

They lock gazes for an uncomfortable second before Tsuna quickly turns around and enters the bathroom. He grabs the closest towel and screams on it. The same towel is used to cover his lower part as he didn't have the forethought to bring some clothes, then he steps outside, again.

At least, the smell of smoke is gone because Renato had to be the stereotypical Italian who likes to smoke, especially after sex. Tsuna doesn't like the smell so he was lucky to have the good excuse to need to take a shower. The bad thing is that for the smell to be gone Renato had to open a couple windows which made the cold wind get inside.

Not that it matters, of course. He's just procrastinating. Trying to not think of the elephant in the room who is calmly sipping tea.

He tries to go to the bedroom but Renato signals the bundle of clothes on top of the table, all with an amused smirk on his face. He's practically glowing and doesn't seem to care he's wearing an honest expression on his face in front of Fong. That alone makes it hard for Tsuna to glare at the Hitman. Even if the bastard deserves it.

He takes the clothes with all the grace he can before going to the bedroom. He quickly changes into the pajamas Renato selected for him, a black onesie with yellow suns on it.

If this doesn't scream 'mine' he doesn't know what does.

He still puts it on, mostly because it looks comfortable.

Once outside, he uses his flames again to regain his calm, all while trying to walk without a limp.

"I like that face," Renato purrs from his seat. That's almost enough for Tsuna to lose control of his flames but doesn't let it go.

"Shut up, Renato," he hisses.

Renato hums delightedly. "That hiss. Why, if I remember when—"

He throws him a pillow. "Shut. Up."

He goes to seat to the lone loveseat Luce used just a couple hours ago but a hand grabs his wrist. He turns, not surprised to see Fong pulling him closer. Tsuna smiles sheepishly but lets himself be pulled to his lap. He looks at Fong, closely, hoping to not see jealousy or some dark emotion and while he finds nothing of the sort, he's still unhappy to find the self-recrimination in his face.

He wants to ask if he's alright but he would never do it with Renato sitting so close. He still hopes to let the other know with just his eyes how concerned he is of him. Fong answers him with a beautiful smile.

"When will be my turn?" he asks in a way that makes it hard to discern if he's being his blunt self or if he's teasing him.

Tsuna blushes anyways. He buries his face on Fong's neck and whispers, "Soon."

"I'll always wait."

Chapter Text

When he was young, he remembers being full of energy. A ‘handful’ his mother used to call him, but he couldn’t help it. He couldn’t stay still in one place for long. He couldn’t just concentrate on one thing. It was always two, three and even four things he needed to do at the same time; less wouldn’t be able to distract him from how loud everything was and still is. He would look at one person and know just by the state of their clothes what had they done previously if they had kids or pets.

“How?” his mother would ask. He could read in the honest confusion of her eyes and the line of her shoulders that she didn’t understand. Couldn’t. He knew the neighbor two doors next took care of children from a high-class family by the polished shoes she wore, just enough to be comfortable when running from place to place; the clothes she dressed, sharp but modest; her bag, wide enough for toys and snacks; and the patient, comfortable way she was around children. Everything was there for all to see.

But he was still a kid, a poor one who didn’t know how to read or any fancy words that could help him, so he could only look at his mother with a perplexed look back because how could she not see?

“You’re very sharp and that’s good,” she said, kneeling in front of him when he explained his deductions. “But you also need to be clever. And wise.”

He didn’t understand those words and when her mother explained them to him, he got a better grasp of their meaning but not enough. Probably understanding his plight, she nodded and then he felt his world shift a bit, in the way it does when something important is going to happen, when she added, “Sharp is what you know now and clever would be getting to know her for her connections.”

“And wise?”

She smiled a keen smile then, the ones which at that time were not as frequent as he would have liked. “Wise would be learning from her. She may not be a teacher but the ones in her kind of profession always know how to teach the important things.”

He was a kid born in Italy with an English woman as mother, who never learned how to write Italian even if she talked perfectly. He grew up doing small jobs because he liked to learn new things and the extra money was always welcomed, even if he had to put up the good kid act in front of old ladies just to get books in how to learn Italian.

When he was able to read, he went off to libraries as playing with other kids didn’t appeal him.

Everything was so loud and chaotic still. His mind always too overwhelmed without something to take his concentration away, especially around people.

Her mother got even sicker when he was fourteen in August when the sun was high and walking through the streets was akin to Hell. That same year he sold drugs for quick cash and a month later he got the chance to try some of the product. He knew the consequences, but he was also the kind of person compelled by curiosity. To always try everything at least once. He still is, just wary too.

He doesn’t remember much of the circumstances, but even after years passed, he still remembers the clarity that surrounded his mind. How everything became quiet. His heavy breathing and heartbeat were the only things loud, but it was a nice loud and not the kind that drills into one’s brain, always pouring information and processing thoughts, sometimes too fast for him to completely understand.

He remembers crying afterward when the noise came back and the next day he stopped working there, running away from the temptation, repeating the words ‘be clever, be wise’ like a mantra.

Perhaps it was good it happened. Not only because the ambient wasn’t the best and he knew even then that had he stayed longer he wouldn’t have been able to pull out, but because her mother got hospitalized a couple of weeks after.

Not that getting into fights every morning for small jobs was good, but at least he could still borrow books from the library on afternoons and sit next to her mother’s bed for a couple of hours before returning to the church he slept in. Besides, he loved fighting. The adrenaline made him focus. Made his breathing and heartbeat louder than the noise in his head.

It wasn’t a good life, borderline illegal in some things, but considering where he lived, it was decent.

Then someone stabbed him, and he learned about flames.

And, well, no one who knows about flames is free from the mafia. However, in those days when he was still ignorant about that world, he took the yellow flames licking his stomach and healing the wound as a blessing. He was glad he understood things quickly because it only took him a couple of times to manifest them again because of it. Then he experimented and realized with every cut he made on his hand that he could heal.

The flames trigger the cells that heal his body, his young mind thought. And with only a couple of anatomy, medicinal and even some fantasy books recorded in his brain, he believed himself smart enough to understand how they worked. He even tried it with a couple of animals—and it worked.

I can heal mom, was the only thing in his mind. That week he seemingly forgot the ‘be clever, be wise’ words he repeated every morning with his mind as busy as it was.

Then he visited her mother and when she was sleeping, he focused on upgrading her immunology system which was weak. And it worked; he could see her mother improving. But it didn’t last. What he thought he fixed was killing her after healing whatever was wrong with her first.

He gave his mother cancer.

A couple of days later she died. A week after that, the mafia found him.

The loudness followed trailing behind him like a lost puppy, never leaving but with time he reigned it in. Controlling the loud thoughts with force of will for years.

Or at least until he bonded and the flame drunkness left him, the second set of emotions his mind didn’t know how to process appeared.

Opening his eyes, he felt those muted emotions. Muted most likely because the person who belonged them was asleep next to him. He still annalized every one of them and realized with sudden clarity that they were sharper than his own set of emotions—more real.

Were his own emotions the ones that were dull or Tsuna’s were stronger? He didn’t know and was slightly afraid of knowing the answer.

He needed space.

.


 

,

Fong wakes up as soon as he senses Reborn moving in a way that suggests he’s getting ready to stand up. He doesn’t open his eyes until a second passes. He sees him sitting up on the bed, detangling his arm from Tsuna’s grip with great care. The little Sky is not a heavy sleeper, or so he says, but it seems their presence is enough to make him lower his barriers and settle into a deep sleep.

With Tsuna facing him, Fong can see the cute frown that forms when his fingers tentatively curl, seeking for the arm he seconds ago used as a Teddy bear.


With a great force of will, he briefly tears his gaze away from such a beautiful sight to see Reborn's sculpted back as he undresses. He only appreciates the view for a second. Tsuna's small smile is a better sight.

Not that he gets to appreciate it for long. A whisper makes him turn his head slightly around.

"Huh. Look what that Mist left for us," Reborn says, pointing at a small plastic bottle between his fingers. Is that...

"Yep. Is lubricant. Damn, wish I had seen this yesterday," he ends up musing.

He doesn't want to ask. It was enough to see Tsuna's naked body covered with bite marks, yesterday.

“Where are you going?” Fong asks softly.

“I want a smoke. Tsuna doesn’t like the smell, so.”

Fong huffs softly, not believing it. He glances at the Hitman, his usual calm face turning teasing, “You want to give us some time alone, don’t you?”

The Hitman scowls at him, though doesn’t deny it, Fong knows it’s not that. “If I’m here when you try to harmonize with him...” he trails off. Is not a threat, simply a fact.

… It seems harmonization has made him more possessive than usual. And prickly. There’s an anxious air about him. One that worries him. One that makes him more human than his usual serious demenour.

It’s kind of sweet.

He gives the man a real smile and is unsurprised when Reborn leans down to whisper in his ear. “If you fuck him, I’ll kill you.”

He rolls his eyes. “I don’t fuck.”

“You better.”

He leans back a bit until they can lock gazes. Fong impassively stares back with his smile in place, waiting for the other to find whatever he needs in his gaze. Not that he cares, but, well… Reborn is being as nice as he can, better throw him a bone.

A finger goes near to his face before it starts trailing his jaw.

He raises an eyebrow.

“Just thinking.” Reborn leans closer until their noses touch. “Between us, I wouldn’t be against a threesome.”

And then he stands up and starts leaving, not even giving him a chance to answer. He watches his back as he opens the door. It’s not until the door closes shut that he murmurs, amused, “I wouldn’t be against it either.”

“Please, no. Somethin’ tells me it would turn into a competition with me in the middle.”

Fong turns, not surprised to see the small Sky yawning cutely, throwing a worried glance to the hitman. He looks slightly hurt but he doesn’t know why. He smiles the smile he only uses for Tsuna to reassure him. Tsuna answers back with one of his own before giving him a brief kiss on the lips.

That does surprise him. Not that he’s going to see the gift horse in the mouth. So with, care he answers the kiss and lets Tsuna burry deeper into him. His flames gently seek him out and he’s glad when his Sky answers back, prodding at his flames. They spend long minutes like that, their flames hovering around each other, not quite touching.

Then Fong moves until he’s hovering above the no longer sleepy Tsuna and touches his flames for the first time, not quite harmonizing. Tsuna lets out a sof breath and then he’s kissing him again, pulling him close, gripping the fabric of the onesie he’s wearing in his fists like he’s planning to never let go.

Fong hopes Tsuna never let’s go.

He’s pliant above Tsuna, letting his little Sky explore his mouth, with tongue and little bites, his soft breathy moans tickling Fong’s cheek as the Storm presses their flames closer.

He knows that with how long they’ve known each other, it should be fast, just a click of two puzzles piecing together, but he doesn’t want that. He wants to drag it out, wants to enjoy what would be the time he clicks in place with his Home. His Tsuna.

He doesn’t want to just feel it—he wants to see it.

His Flames burn the onesie where they’re forming in his arms as he touches the back of Tsuna’s head, with only enough intensity for Tsuna to feel it.

Tsuna stops kissing him to move his head to the side to sigh softly, his own flames coming outside his body to meet Fong’s own. They form a crown around his head, lighting up his face in an astounding orange shade.

“So beautiful,” he murmurs against Tsuna’s neck. He bites the small bite mark already there, making it bigger and his. “And mine.”

It doesn’t seem Tsuna can take it anymore as with hiss of impatience, he lets out his Flames completely, Fong answering in kind as their flames turn their clothes and part of the mattress into ashes.

Tsuna looks at the destruction they’ve caused and laughs a sweet laugh. A second later, Fong is accompanying him, a little flame drunk himself.

He probably needs to rest a couple of minutes longer on what’s left of the bed. At least until he stops grinning like a fool.

He presses Tsuna against his chest with a loving smile, relishing in the connection between them, happiness filling his being. Tsuna himself is distracted by the dragon tattoo close to his cheek on Fong’s chest, not the first time he’s seen it but it’s the first time he touches it. Has he told him the story behind it, or does he know already?

Fong doesn’t get too much time to ponder about it because in the next second Tsuna is changing their positions sitting on his lap, taking out the remains of his clothes with an amused glance, his eyes almost glowing with their intensity. Fong gets a moment to appreciate his lithe body and the slightly hard member in his sight before Tsuna trails his fingers along his chest and stomach, seemingly entranced by the way he shivers lightly.

Then, Tsuna’s free hand goes to the bite on his neck before wincing at the touch. “You made it bigger.”

It’s not an accusation, merely stating the obvious.

“I did.”

“… Are you jealous?”

Probably is because of being Flame-drunk, but it never occurs him to lie at this moment, not when he can feel all that makes Tsuna so intimately. “I am.”

Tsuna’s eyes half closed as he touches another bite mark, this one on his side made by Reborn. “Do you want to make them all bigger? Make them yours, too?”

His mouth is suddenly dry as Tsuna moves his lower body a little backward until his dick is touching Tsuna’s pretty ass. Fong’s hands go to his sides, to stop his Sky or himself, he doesn’t know.

“I’m not Renato, Tsuna. I don’t fuck.”

Tsuna licks his lips, his eyes flickering to the small bottle of lube, before they go down, a blush spreading across his cheeks. “I don’t want to just fuck, either,” he says quietly, his hand lightly touching his chest, a small but beautiful smile on his face. “Yesterday was amazing, I won’t deny that, but…But I want intimacy. Besides, I’ve been told making love is something different. I want to experience that.”

His words at the end are nothing but a murmur, but Fong hears them, nonetheless.

“Do you love me, Tsunayoshi?”

Tsuna gives him a look that’s part exasperated; part embarrassed. “Of course, I do. I love you.”

Ignoring the way his chest flutters at the words, he sits up, making sure not to dislodge Tsuna from his lap. “I love you, too. Romantically.”

Tsuna bites his lips, his face growing redder, but his gaze never wavering from his eyes. He slowly wraps his arms around Fong, his breathing slightly heavier than before.

“I only had a crush in my whole life, so I’m not very experienced in this type of love, but… I would like to discover it.”

“With all of us?”

“I—I don’t know if with all of you, but…”

Fong is a little unsure as he asks, “With me?”

Tsuna nods silently. Then probably sensing his lack of confidence at the moment, a thing he only shows because it’s Tsuna the one he’s lowering his walls to, his little Sky kisses him tenderly. For the first time in so long, he’s not the raging storm that continuously tries to appease his Flames to not destroy everything in its way, but only Fong, the man.

Not a weapon.

So he answers the kiss with all the passion he can muster, his right hand trailing a path from Tsuna’s shoulders to his spine before finally settling it on his leg. Tsuna moves a little forward, lifting his ass slightly.

“I’m still loose from yesterday,” Tsuna admits between kisses and Fong growls lowly as he bites onto another previous bite mark. Tsuna hisses but when Fong licks the wound, he sighs.

“I’ll worship you,” he promises as he moves them until Tsuna’s back is resting against the bed and he’s above him.

Tsuna gives him a cheeky grin as he says, “Ruin me.”

Fong can’t help but answer with his own anticipatory grin.

He said to Reborn he doesn’t fuck, but he never said anything about making love, didn’t he?

.


 

.

Tsuna walks around one of the gardens of the Iron Fort. He would have sat but his ass is a bit too sore for him to do that. It’s a good type of sore, he admits, but it still aches. Still, he thinks as he presses a hand above his chest where he can feel the lingering sensation of his bonds with Verde, Renato, and Fong. I wouldn’t change anything.

All because of a beautiful loving smile.

“You’re glowing,” a feminine voice says behind him. He turns around and is startled to see Ottava and Luce standing behind him, a bodyguard behind both.

“Hello?” he says, confused before he repeats Ottava’s words inside his head. He then blushes and looks down, not too fast as to not notice the brief flash of jealousy in Luce’s eyes. “Uh—what are you doing here?”

It may sound rude, but he’s honestly confused. He selected these gardens from the other ones exactly because of how isolated they were. Not that he doesn’t want to be with to his Elements, but he needs some time alone after what happened. He doesn’t want his face to scream: ‘Just had sex’. Which was the first thing Daemon told him when he knocked on the door after an hour of cuddling with Fong.

“Erase that weird expression of your face. It’s unbecoming.”

He doesn’t know what expression he’s talking about and doesn’t want to look at it in the mirror. Considering the day he’s had, he has a good guess of what his face looks like.

Still, he feels a bit unsettled

Is not Renato’s wishes what gave him that way as he kind of expected something like this from the man. It’s Fong’s confession the one that has him all weird, randomly smiling and frowning. He could feel their emotions through their bond and while he saw awe, adoration and indeed love after he had sex with Renato, accompanied with a good hint of lust; when Fong confessed, it was something not as steady. There’s a difference in his Element’s emotions. Renato and Verde are alike in the sense they’re more linear in their feelings, probably something to do with how pragmatic they appear to be—they’re steady. Instead, Fong is more emotional, hiding behind a mask of calm. It was this that made his emotions feel more real in its wavering range. He felt Fong's need to belong and his passion and above that, the deep, deep love he felt for him that made the crush he had on Kyoko seem like a drop of water next to the ocean.

And that loving smile Fong gave him after harmonizing, so unlike any others he’s seen. It made him yearn for a deeper connection between them—it made him bolder. He wanted to feel that love only a few people have given to him unconditionally. And while he could feel it through their bond, he wanted to show it in a physical way. And while kissing is nice, he wanted more. He wanted him to kiss his body, to mark it as Renato had done. He wanted a show of his love. And while Tsuna doesn’t understand the reasons behind it, the why, he still received what he wanted. And, he thinks, maybe now he understands more of what he’s feeling.

Renato is like an anchor, a rock for him to steady himself should he ever stumble. What has he done to—

He shakes his head and concentrates in the women in front of him, who are looking at him with amused expressions.

“I’m sorry if I’m a little distracted. I—”

“No, no. No need to explain, Tsunayoshi. I understand.” She laughs in genuine joy. “Actually, I probably should say congratulations.”

He doesn’t like where this is going. “Wh—What do you mean, Ottava?”

“Harmonizing with two of your Elements, of course.”

“Do I want to ask how you know…?”

She gives him an apologetic look. “It’s not hard to notice when two powerful Flames bond when you have good control of your flames.”

“Oh my God!” Tsuna covers half of his face with his hand. Then something occurs him and he can’t help but ask, exasperated, “Does anyone else also know I had sex with them?”

She at least has the decency of looking contrite. “The maids talk.”

Tsuna groans because he remembers how wet the mattress was when he finished with Renato because of the sweat and other liquids. It was so clean when they went to sleep that he preferred to not see the gif on a horse’s mouth, but now that he thinks about it, the maids must have come in when he was taking a shower.

And let’s not talk about how he left the bed half-burned after Fong finished with him.

He’s never been so embarrassed in his whole life.

“I’m so sorry.”

Ottava laughs. “No need to be, Tsunayoshi. You should be proud of having a strong and devoted Family.”

Tsuna groans but it’s mostly for show. He’s smiling at the memory of his bonded Elements.

Shaking his head once again to not let it go to another tangent, before looking at the two Skies before him. “Thank you for letting me know, but, um, there’s a reason as to why you’ve searched for me?”

Daniela smiles before looking at the so far silent Sky standing next to her. Luce’s smile doesn’t reach her eyes as she says. “I wanted to let you know we would be going soon to Milano. I wanted you to have some time to get ready.”

“And I wanted to say goodbye to you.”

“Oh.”

“Oh indeed. Knowing you, you would forget about it and then I’d have to scold you next time we see each other.”

Tsuna scratches the back of his nape but doesn’t deny anything. He then bows lightly to Daniela. “Thank you for taking care of me this whole time.”

“So Japanese,” she huffs around a soft smile. Then she approaches him and kisses him on both of his cheeks, the Italian way. Tsuna reddens, but only slightly. After all, he’s been in this country for so long and is already used with some customs. “Let’s go back in.”

They all go back to the castle, making light conversation, making sure to not touch certain topics. It’s nice as both ask him things about Japan, curious about his culture, and Tsuna asks about their jobs and the differences between their Famiglie.

Ottava then leaves him alone with Luce which he wants to give her a betrayed look for but he knows it’ll be too impolite and Tsuna is anything but impolite. Instead, he gives Luce a nod he intends it as a farewell, but Luce doesn’t understand or, most likely, ignores, as she continues to follow him

Seeing his distress, she smiles sadly. “What must you think of me, to be as uncomfortable in my presence as you are.”

Feeling guilty, he’s quick to reassure, “Is not that! I mean, there’s some awkward story between us and… well, I don’t like feeling awkward.”

Most of his school life passed with him feeling like that, after all.

“Yes and I apologize.” At seeing his confusion, she elaborates, “I apologize for not making you feel welcome, for antagonizing you, as slight as it may have been. I’m mature enough to recognize I was being childish.”

Oh.

“You don’t have to apologize, I underst—well, no. That’s a lie. I don’t understand how it must feel to have lived a sure life, with a sure future and then I come to ruin it all. You must feel…”

He trails off, not sure of the word in Italian, not sure if he could even apply a word for the emotions she is feeling. It doesn’t feel right.

She still looks expectantly, giving him time to search for the word. He sighs and runs a hand through his hair. “Nothing, sorry.”

“No, no. Please, speak.”

She’s looking sadly at him, slight wetness in her eyes he doesn’t know how to explain. Tsuna stops walking to turn around to get a better look at her.

He shakes his head. “I’ve spent most of my life just drifting, following a routine. I didn’t have a perfect future I aspired to. I just… went along with my life. It wasn’t until I started gaining friends that I realized I was surviving so far, not really living. So yeah, I don’t really know how you feel. But, I can guess, because I started seeing a future with my friends and now-now, well, now I can’t even say goodbye. And it hurt, feeling so lost hurt so much.

“I’m sorry I took your future away from you.” He laughs humorlessly. “What must you feel, having to interact with me. I probably have an accurate guess considering I’ve to interact with Kawahira-san, but. It’s different. I chose this path, I can’t complain—I can’t.”

She hushes me, her small hands, smooth but hiding a strength he can only imagine, touch his face. Thumbs brush under his eyes, making him realize he’s let a couple of tears escape him. He looks up and sees her lips trembling, pressing tight against each other. She shakes her head once, twice, before inhaling softly, her eyes shut tight.

“You can complain. Don’t let anyone tell you that. You didn’t know everything before jumping, didn’t you?”

Tsuna remembers the slight hesitation he felt before jumping through that portal Kawahira-san opened. How his intuition told him to say goodbye, but he couldn’t as it would have felt too permanent, too real.

Instead of answering, he laughs wetly and says, “What a mess we are.”

Luce nods but doesn’t say anything.

They continue walking, in comfortable silence this time, both taking the time to pick each other up.

When they are finally by the door, they can’t help but steal a glance at each other at the same time. For some reason that makes them laugh.

“Do you want to go inside?” he asks when he’s done, hand grabbing the handle of the door.

Some of the mirth from before bleeds off her expression. She sighs and shakes her head. “I don’t think it would be wise.”

Tsuna gives him a curious look as he opens the door. Curious look that instantly disappears as soon as he sees Fong sitting on the couch, listening to some music on his phone, a cup of tea on his hands. He gives a glance to Luce, an understanding smile in place. “So, see you later?”

“In two hours, actually. That was why I was searching for you. Today we part and you need to pack your things. Ottava will lend us some cars that will take us to the train.”

“Oh. Okay.”

He gives her a slight bow before they part ways, Luce with a sad smile and Tsuna feeling once again slightly awkward. He turns around and his sight meets the broad chest of Fong. He looks up and sees him studying him carefully.

“You’ve been crying.”

He cried for a minute; it shouldn’t be noticeable. Not that it surprises him that Fong notices. So he instead gives him a fond look. Luckily, unlike Renato, Fong doesn’t pry. Because of that, Tsuna gives him a light kiss before stepping in, sitting on the couch next to the spot Fong was just a couple seconds ago. When Fong sits, Tsuna chooses that moment to decompress, just relaxing as he listens to the song.

“I like this kind of Italian songs,” Tsuna says out of nowhere, lounging at Fong’s side with the type of laziness that would make a cat proud. He’s not tired but his eyes are half closed as he enjoys the soft perfume of the tea Fong’s drinking.

After a second too long he receives a hum for an answer. Obviously, Fong is also halfway there. Most likely already starting to meditate.

“The singer has this deep voice. Or not deep.” He sighs softly onto Fong’s arm when he hears the clink of the cup meets the wood of the table. “I don’t know how to call it. But it seems to be common here. I like it.”

A surprised chuckle escapes Fong. He’s clearly amused and doesn’t care to smoother it. He turns his head towards him, burying his nose on his hair to continue laughing quietly. Tsuna doesn’t understand the reason so he tries to head-butt him in mock annoyance.

“Hey. Is not nice to…”

He trails off at the fond look he finds on Fong’s face, it’s so like that loving smile of the morning. It heats his cheeks up, but he’s still curious at the reason of the amusement. “It’s not nice to laugh at someone, so why did you do it?” he finishes with what he hopes is a strong voice but knows it’s barely more than an exhale.

“I’m sorry. You’re just too cute,” he says with that soft laugh of his. A hand comes to cradle the side of his face, a thumb brushing his jaw while his other fingers curl to the back of his neck. “And you’re mine.”

Tsuna swallows, leaning onto the touch. His face feels on fire as his eyes flicker from his eyes to his lips, his own hand moving to rest on his shoulder. He leans in until their lips brush but he’s still curious so he stops.

“You still haven’t answered me.”

Fong’s gaze almost burns with the heat inside them. He smirks in a way he has just seen a couple of times. Usually, that gaze is also accompanied with a proud ‘I’m yours’ which is even more embarrassing, so he quickly leaves a chaste kiss to stop the words from forming. Fong clearly knows what he’s doing but he’s nice enough to not point it out, though he’ll still kiss him silly anyways.

He pushes him gently away and readies himself to huff his name in an annoyed fashion when a hand burying itself on his hair stops him. It tilts his head up and while he’s not afraid thanks to his intuition, the kiss still surprises him. He knows that taste of coffee so he doesn’t protest that much when Renato licks the roof of his mouth while his fingers tug his hair into his favorite position.

Fong pushes Renato away rather brusquely though he still manages to finish with a soft bite on his lower lip in a way that’s too sensual to have been really pushed away.

Tsuna blinks and tries to not bring his fingers to his lips.

“You both were taking too long.”

“What?”

“You wanted a kiss like that one, so I gave you one.”

He shakes his head, slightly blushing. It doesn’t matter. “Today, why did you leave early?” When the Hitman opens his mouth to answer, Tsuna speaks, “And don’t tell me it was because you wanted to give Fong and I some space. It’s not the truth, I know.”

Renato purses his lips in a not quite pout. “He promised to not fuck you.” Glaring at Fong he mutters, “You bastard.”

“I didn’t fuck him,” Fong says, which is not quite true. Fong wanted to prepare him himself, yes, and at the start, they mostly did everything but penetration, which satisfied their need for intimacy as it felt more personal as they continued talking and laughing all while kissing and touching. However, when Fong made him come with his mouth, Tsuna couldn’t help but jump him. So, really. They didn’t fuck, Tsuna just rode him.

“That blush doesn’t help the matter, you know.”

Tsuna pouts. “Don’t change the subject. Why did you leave?”

I’m changing the subject, aren’t I?” he murmurs but when he sees Tsuna’s look, he motions him to sit on the other couch across from the one he’s currently sitting. Tsuna follows the motion because he wants to give Renato the illusion of privacy he wants. Which seems to consist in Tsuna sitting on his lap, because Renato wants him really close. Usually, he wouldn’t obey, but this close, he can see clearly Renato’s face and read him better. So with only slight grumbling, he complies.

Fong politely goes to the bedroom section of the mini apartment Ottava gave him, saying he’s going to pack his stuff.

Renato gives him a kiss on the cheek to grab his attention back, before resting their foreheads together.

“So?” Tsuna asks when a couple of long seconds have passed.

He can feel Renato’s frown at him though, in the end, he sighs. “I was just… overwhelmed.”

Tsuna’s fingers play with the small hairs in the back of his neck as he hums. “Well, I did think it weird how you seemed fine immediately after, but I guess it was because you were flame drunk.”

Renato raises an eyebrow. “You expected me to freak out?”

“Kind of? I mean, we share headspace when we harmonize. I couldn’t process it all because you were, uh,”

“Fucking you?”

“Yeah,” he says in a small voice, acutely aware of how close their crotches are. He still aches a little because riding Fong was hell for his legs, but he kind of wishes he doesn’t have so little time to pack and more time with his Elements.

He shakes his head. “Anyways, I could ‘see’ some vague…things. And feel some emotions. Your flames reminded me a bit of Dimtr, actually. His thoughts were also quick and loud, but while his way of thinking seemed encrypted yours are just so complicated in the details you seem to…observe.”

Renato gives him a wry grin. It’s not a negative expression, but it can be the beginning of one, his intuition tells him, so Tsuna kisses the top of his nose to change it. It works as he’s scrunching it instead. It’s kind of funny and he can’t help but laugh quietly.

He presses their foreheads together again, so hard it almost hurts. He looks at him in the eyes, wanting to erase whatever self-doubt there may exist. “I love you, you know.”

Renato blinks twice, surprised. Before he laughs, loudly. “You think I was feeling insecure? Tsuna, the harmonization is two-way. Your emotions were overwhelming me as they were chaotic. I'm not having second thoughts.”

Tsuna feels his whole face take a whole new shade of red. He wants to stand up, but hands encircle him, stopping him. A face is pressed against his neck as Renato continues to laugh. Tsuna struggles hard but Renato is stronger.

“Shut up! Stop!” he hisses, feeling his eyes tear up of the embarrassment. He tries to push him away, but Renato grabs his hands, kissing them and his arms before reaching his face. ”You’re too much. I can’t.”

He pushes his back against the couch and whispers how beautiful he is and how perfect, but Tsuna is still mad. So mad.

“Do you love me?” he whispers with a wide grin. Tsuna looks away, but Renato grabs none too gently his chin. Tsuna glares at him and sees the playfulness in his eyes, the fondness. He nods slowly, resignedly, expecting more teasing. But none comes forth.

Renato then quickly takes off his fedora and puts it on top of his face. It was quick but Tsuna is pretty sure he saw a hint of blush on his face. He throws the fedora away and immediately there are lips on his mouth. The kiss unlike the ones from yesterday is not sensual or leading but sloppy and nice.

Every time they stop for breath Tsuna whispers more I love you’s against his lips, which makes the kiss sloppier.

Soon they’re laughing on the couch sprawled against each other.

“Having fun?”

Renato doesn’t look up but Tsuna does. He takes a hand out and motions Fong to come forward. Fong smiles and leans to kiss his hand but doesn’t approach. “I think I’ll just l—”

Whatever he was trying to say, Renato doesn’t let him finish. He grabs the front of his clothes and pulls him towards them. Tsuna lets out an ‘oof’ because he’s under two weights, but soon he doesn’t care and laughs instead.

It’s a good day.