Grazhir :: Crossover :: Hisui :: 16

16: 2015

He spent the next morning at the hospital, reading magical medical texts.

Renato showed up just before lunch with food. “Still nothing?” he asked, handing over a bento.

He shook his head as he accepted it and materialized hashi instead of using the disposable ones. He was half way through the meal when Lambo’s eyes opened. He set the food aside and went over to the bed. “Lambo-kun?” he said softly.

“Nagi~san?” Lambo warbled wearily. Then he seemed to wake up more. “Where is Lambo-san?”

“You were hurt in the ring battle, chibi. You’re in the hospital. Would you like something to drink?”

Lambo nodded.

He pulled a juice box from one of his pouches, detached the straw from the side, and jammed it into place. “It won’t be cold, unfortunately, but it’s grape,” he said, then supported Lambo’s head while he sipped. It took him a good ten minutes to finish the thing, and by then he was perky enough to sit up, though still weak.

“Nagi~san loves Lambo-san!”

He sighed and nodded. “Yes, I do.”

Lambo gasped and aimed wide eyes at him.

“You need to get better,” Renato said, “so Nagi-san isn’t sad anymore.”

Lambo goggled at being directly addressed by his arch enemy and flopped back, quite overcome. Hisui smiled faintly and ran his hand over the child’s hair. “At some point you’re going to have to tell me where you came up with Nagi for me.”

Lambo blinked innocent green eyes at him. “Lambo-san combined your names! It’s his special idea. But then the others started using it, too.” He pouted.

“Yes, well, it’s still special, because you thought of it, all right?”

Lambo beamed and nodded. “How long will Lambo-san have to be here?”

He shrugged. “Don’t know, chibi. But the more you focus on getting better, the faster that’ll be.”

“Lambo-san is—” He paused to yawn hugely. “—hungry.”

“Hm.” He materialized a new set of hashi and plucked a piece of tamagoyaki from his bento to offer up. Lambo accepted it and chewed slowly.

“It was not as good as Nagi-san’s or Mama’s.”

“Perhaps not, but would you like another piece?” He was feeding a second piece to the boy when Nana arrived.

“Oh my! Lambo-kun is awake?”

“He woke up a few minutes ago,” he said, “but he’s tired and weak.”

Nana pulled up a chair on the other side of the bed and reached out to pet Lambo fondly and fuss over his blanket.

“When you get out of here, Lambo-kun, I’ll make you some of your favorites,” he promised. He had no idea how much willpower alone could do in terms of healing, but food was an incentive for the little guy. “Another piece?” When Lambo nodded he selected another one and offered it up. He managed two more pieces before Lambo insisted he wasn’t hungry, so he set the bento aside. The boy drifted off again a few minutes later, so Hisui finished his lunch.

“All right,” he said when he was done. “I need to go take a walk or something.”

“I’ll stay with him this afternoon,” Nana said immediately. “I’m sure the girls will stop by, as well, after school.”

He nodded. “Thank you, Nana-chan.” He left with Renato and walked with him back to the school. “You have the outfit ready?”

Renato nodded. “Tsuna can put it on before we head to the battle tonight. I could wish this latest version had been field-tested, but we’ll see.”

He snorted. “Considering that we usually attack from a distance or the shadows, and neither of us is likely to get into an up-close flame brawl… If it works, great. We can make outfits for all of them. If not, I guess we figure out the next version based on what didn’t hold up.”

“I plan to bring the kitten to the hospital after dinner, to let him see the cow. Slide some ideas into his head.”

“I’ll see you there, then. For now I’m going to walk a bit more, then get back to reading those texts.”

*

“He regained consciousness around noon for a short time,” Renato told Tsuna. “He still needs rest, but he’s getting better.”

Tsuna laughed nervously. “That’s great. Lambo-kun…”

“People have been taking it in turns to keep an eye on him,” he said. “The fact that he woke up is a good sign. I don’t think he’ll be here much longer.”

“Okay… Eh… About the ninth…”

“He’s not here,” Renato said.

“Then… He’s…”

“He’s not dead,” he said flatly. “Dino moved him to a better suited and safer place, but it’ll be touch and go. He wasn’t doing well in the first place.”

Renato nodded and looked off to the side. “Anyway, we have something for you,” he said, and indicated a small case sitting on the window sill. “It’s a battle suit, using specially woven fibres. Leon helped with that. It can withstand the heat of Dying Will Flame.”

‘We hope.’

“Wait, if it’s a mafia suit, won’t I look like mafia!?” Tsuna asked, opening the case.

Renato scoffed. “We’re not that stupid, kitten. It resembles your school uniform. Hisui and I wear clothing made of the same materials. Look, poor Leon is thoroughly worn out having helped with this.”

Hisui smirked when Leon promptly flopped on the brim of his lover’s hat and managed to appear exhausted.

Tsuna looked up from the case, and reached out to pet Leon’s head gently. “Th-thank you, Leon.”

“He made you a bonus, too,” Renato added. “Once you get changed, we’ll get going, to the final ring battle.”

“Yeah…”

A few minutes later Tsuna emerged from the adjoining bathroom and they set off. Xanxus arrived with an explosion. Hisui rolled his eyes slightly and sighed. “Drama queen,” he muttered accusingly.

“So you came, trash,” Xanxus said.

Two Cervello jumped down from the roof to join the gathering. “We have been expecting you.”

‘No, really? I thought we all came here because Nami Middle is such a fantastic dance spot at night.’

“Then, the guardians for Sawada-san’s side… Storm, Sun, Rain, and Mist are all here.”

Chrome wandered around the side of the nearest building and joined her fellows.

“The only ones left are Cloud and Lightning.”

“Eh… The ones left—” Tsuna started to say.

He was interrupted by Hibari’s arrival. “What do you want?”

“Hibari-san! Eh, what do I want?”

“He’s together with us, right?” Hayato said.

Chrome stepped a little closer and said, “The Cervello said that the guardians had to come.”

“That’s correct,” a Cervello affirmed, “all the guardians who are still alive. We sent a compulsory summons.”

Noise off to the side alerted them to the arrival of the Varia. Mammon was in a cage held by Levi. Lussuria was strapped to a gurney.

“Looks like the Lightning Guardian for Sawada-san has also arrived,” a Cervello stated.

A third Cervello appeared, holding the child. Lambo was wearing an oxygen mask and there was a set of tanks on the ground next to her.

Hisui froze inside. If it would not have meant a bloodbath and a life on the run, he’d have killed every Cervello and Varia member on the spot. Renato reached over to squeeze his wrist gently, comfortingly.

“Lambo-kun, too!?” Tsuna cried. “But he’s only just started to come out of his coma!”

“The compulsory summons do not take anything else into account,” a Cervello stated. “Because in the Sky Battle, the Sky Ring as well as the lives of the guardians are at stake.”

Tsuna’s shoulders hunched up, then he ran forward, shouting, “Give Lambo-kun back!”

“Stand down, please. The Varia are in the same position.”

“Yeah, quit complaining,” called out Lussuria. “Once the summons were received, no matter what condition we’re in, we have to assemble. That’s the duty of a guardian!”

“What about Squalo-san?” Takeshi asked. “Isn’t he here…?”

“You know very well the outcome of that battle. We are unable to verify his current status. Now, we will begin the proceedings. First, we will collect all the guardians’ rings.”

“After we fought to the extreme to get them, we have to give them back!?”

“If you are the true owner you have nothing to worry about. In the end, the Vongola rings will return to their true owners, anyway.” She held up a shallow tray as her fellow held up a second one. “Place them in here,” she said, approaching Team Tsuna. Her fellow did the same for the two the Varia held. “All confirmed.” The third Cervello took the trays and departed.

“We will now explain the rules of the Sky Battle. It will be similar to the other battles, as one of the conditions for victory is to join the two halves of each ring. However, the battlefield will be the entire school. In order to watch such a wide battlefield, we have installed large-screen displays at the observation box as well as various other locations. Also, the guardians will be using these wristbands installed with camera-equipped monitors.”

“So then,” said the second Cervello, “would all guardians please put on your wristbands, then make your way to the respective fields of your own battles.” She and her fellow handed them out.

“Huh? Our battlefield?” Levi asked. “What’s the point of that?”

“We are not entertaining questions. If you do not follow the rules you’ll be disqualified.”

Team Tsuna did the usual pre-fight huddle, then they dispersed to their original fight locations. While they were waiting more people arrived, Shamal and Colonnello. Tsuna looked at them questioningly.

“I’m here to collect your ashes,” Shamal said.

“I just came to jeer.”

Tsuna gawked in disbelief.

“It looks as though all participants have arrived at their locations,” a Cervello stated. “We’ve set up a pole at each of the battlefields. The top of each pole contains the respective ring.”

“Wha—? The ring?” Hayato said, his voice coming through clearly in the projected image. “Don’t tell me we’re scrambling for them again?”

“In other words,” Belphegor said, “we’ll be fighting, too?”

“You are all free to do so. That is, if you’re able to.” Just then every guardian flinched or winced, many of them clutching at whichever wrist their bracelet was on, then started to crumple.

“Wh-what was that!?” Tsuna asked.

“All guardians were injected with a poison administered by their wristbands. The poison is called the Death Hitter. Once administered, it will paralyze the victim’s nerves. Even standing up will be difficult. Then, a burning pain will spread throughout the body, gradually increasing, until thirty minutes later … the victim will die.”

“Wh-what is the meaning of this!?” Tsuna demanded. “It’s supposed to be the Sky Battle, so why is everyone involved like this!?”

“Because the Sky is the mission of the boss. The Cloud, Lightning, Mist, Rain, Storm, and Sun, he influences all of them. He understands and accepts all of them. That is the Sky’s mission. In this battle, the lives of all the guardians are entrusted into the hands of the boss. That is the Sky Battle. There is only one way to stop the progress of the poison. That is to insert the matching ring into each guardian’s wristband. Once the ring is inserted into the indentation, it will activate the mechanism to administer the Death Hitter’s antidote stored in the wristband.”

“So this battle is not only for the Sky Ring. The guardians’ rings have also become a crucial element,” Renato stated.

“Yes. Therefore, the condition for victory in the Sky Battle is simply this: you must acquire all of the Vongola rings.” The Cervello held up a chain and presented it to Tsuna, while her fellow did the same for Xanxus. “Use this chain to collect the full set.”

“All right, I get it! Let’s hurry!” Tsuna said as he accepted the chain. “Otherwise, everyone will—!”

“Very well. One last thing. Once the battle has started, any outside interference from non-participating personnel is forbidden. That includes any special bullets.”

“Understood,” Renato said.

And then Xanxus started moving, and sucker punched Tsuna, sending him flying.

“Sawada-dono!” Basil cried in alarm.

“Xanxus-sama! Not yet!”

“Let’s hurry and get started… Wasn’t that what he said?”

“Yes, but that attack on Sawada-san is—”

“I cry foul, Xanxus-san!” Basil cried.

“My bad… Did I get him before he was shot with his special bullet?” Xanxus said mockingly.

“How foolish,” Renato said with a shake of his head. “Who do you think you’re dealing with?”

Tsuna exploded out of the rubble in Dying Will Mode.

“Tsuna!” Renato called. “Xanxus is not an opponent you can fight halfheartedly. If you’re thinking about saving your guardians first, you’re going to die. Believe in them, and fight the fight right in front of you.”

“I know,” Tsuna said calmly. “I’m going to put this guy away first.”

One of the Cervello ran off, calling to the viewers to follow quickly, and led them to one of the screens they had set up. “As with the guardian battles, do not step out of the boundary of the infrared sensors.”

He and Renato walked slightly away from the others. “It’s only my respect for Nono that’s stopping me from killing half the people here,” he muttered.

“I know, tesoro, I know. I’m raging inside. We’re just going to have to trust in them, that the kids can get those rings and save themselves, and each other, while the kitten takes on Big Bad. I can see why Nono never considered the brat. I don’t see how he’s a Sky with that attitude. He must be discordant.”

“Except that they all seem to look up to him, so there’s something else going on here, some other damn plan. He must have them woven six deep.”

“So you think he’s going to try to actually claim the ring, regardless of whether or not he actually wins it?”

He shrugged. “Makes sense. If you’re a raging psychopath, anyway. I really have to wonder just what Nono didn’t tell us along the way to explain how messed up the brat is.”

“Oh look, Xanxus was forced to bring out weapons,” Renato commented. “That’s gotta be a blow to his ego.”

“Same as Settimo? …Yes, I can see him imbuing them with flames. Great. And he can use them as propulsion. Even better.”

“Well, that’s one way to use them. Taking down the Storm and Lighting poles such that the rings land next to his men…”

He sighed and clenched his fists in his pockets. “Hibari-kun is something else,” he commented as the teen managed to not only fight the paralysis and get up, but strike down the Cloud pole and cure himself.

“I’m going to turn you into beef patties!” Levi could be heard yelling. The screen set aside for the guardians was split seven ways, so seeing the finer details of those encounters was impossible.

Hayato showing up to throw dynamite to distract Levi from Lambo simply muddled the view further. He then showed just how much he’d learned by detonating all of Levi’s parabolas, then sending out more to blow Levi away. Hayato endeared himself to Hisui again when he rushed over to Lambo to make sure the cow was all right, and to insert the Lightning Ring into Lambo’s wristband and cure him.

“I need to make him a special dinner,” he said softly.

“Well, shit,” Renato said a minute later. “There goes the vest. Still, considering what it was blasted away by…”

“And there he goes. Huh. Maybe you saying Xanxus was on ice years ago was more true than we knew. He looks both scared and pissed right now. I can’t think of any other reason why he’d react like that to the Zero Point Breakthrough technique. Even recognize it.”

“I think you may be right,” Renato replied slowly.

“It’s the end, scum! I’m going to shoot you until you turn to ashes!” Xanxus promised.

“Then make sure you aim well,” Tsuna replied calmly.

“What?”

“Next time, I’m going to do it right.”

“Blood of Vongola,” Renato whispered. “Tsuna’s hyper intuition seems to have found a path.”

“Zero Point Breakthrough: Revised,” Tsuna said. Even though he kept getting hit and knocked around, Tsuna kept that resolve. It was driving Xanxus mad, into even more of a furious state than before.

“Oh, wow, he’s not just absorbing Xanxus’s flames, he’s transforming them.”

“Is it just me, or does Xanxus suddenly have scars that weren’t there before?” he murmured.

“Maybe he wears makeup to hide them normally? Those don’t look new, after all.”

His net alerted him to people coming up from behind, so he glanced over his shoulder. Dino was there, with several of his men, and a wheelchair-bound Squalo, who was wrapped in innumerable bandages.

“Impossible!” Basil said. “I don’t believe it, you’re still alive!?”

“On the day of the Rain Battle I had my men sneak into the basement,” Dino explained. “They were there to rescue Yamamoto if necessary. But the one who fell into the water tank was Squalo. We barely got to him in time—he was already on the verge of death—but somehow we managed to get him to skilled doctors at a hospital with advanced facilities, where he underwent major surgery.”

“So that’s why Dino-sama didn’t come to the Mist Battle!?” Basil said.

“Because I’m sure we can force some information out of this guy,” Dino said coldly.

A Cervello landed just outside the viewing box. “You’re Squalo!”

“Hey, little lady,” Shamal said with a leer. “It’s rather impossible for this guy to enter the field now, isn’t it?”

“I understand,” she replied. “Accepted. But all of you must enter the observation box.”

Dino, Squalo, Romario, and Ivan were allowed through the sensor net before it was reset and the Cervello jumped away. Just then the battle between Tsuna and Xanxus heated up again, with Xanxus becoming even more unhinged. An explosion occurred, smoke wreathing out like fattened smoke rings from a cigar.

From that smoke came Xanxus, causing mass panic—except from Squalo.

“Tch. Look at his hands,” he called to the others.

“They’re frozen!?” Colonnello said.

Squalo flipped.

“It froze Xanxus’s flame,” Renato said loudly enough for the viewers to hear. “It’s a technique created to seal off Dying Will Flame.”

“Why!? It’s impossible!” Xanxus raged. “How could trash like you master the Vongola’s ultimate technique!?”

“Those scars… They’re proof that you were once consumed by the Zero Point Breakthrough over your entire body,” Tsuna said.

“All right, then,” Renato said briskly, but softly. “Nono didn’t simply imprison the brat, he froze him. Right. What the hell?”

More shouting, cursing, and Tsuna rushed in to freeze Xanxus entirely, and in the process he completed the Sky Ring.

Squalo was induced to say at least a little of what he knew, but then he yelled for the Cervello. “Vooii! Let me outta here!”

“We cannot allow that. According to the regulations, the conditions for victory have not yet been met.”

“Screw you! Let me out!”

Tsuna went down on one knee, breathing heavily.

That was when the Varia struck, though what went to kill Tsuna was illusion, which he ignored.

“You saw through that very well,” Mammon said, “but it looks like you don’t have the energy to crawl, even.”

“It’s useless,” Tsuna replied from his sprawl. “Xanxus has been put to sleep.”

“Let’s see about that, shall we? Instead, shall we say that preparations are in good order for the ceremony that will declare our boss the successor to the Vongola leadership. Our boss will once again be revived.” Mammon was holding the six guardians’ rings. “Do you know why the rings were stored in halves? And do you know why they can only be awarded to the true successor of the Vongola? Because the rings themselves have a hidden power.

“Our boss was locked up after being frozen by the ninth’s Zero Point Breakthrough. When the ice was melted, there were seven burn marks left on the base. I cannot be sure who’d done it, but the evidence was enough to lead me to a hypothesis.” Mammon did … something; the rings flamed. “Exactly as I thought. You better watch this.”

“Mio Dio,” Renato muttered. “All Tsuna’s resolve, and Mammon can negate the results in seconds.”

“When the full set of Vongola rings are passed to the successor, it’s said that the rings will grant a great power to the new blood of Vongola.”

“To the blood of Vongola…?” Tsuna said as he started to get up.

“It’s about time you returned it,” Belphegor said saucily, and snatched the Sky Ring away. “This ring belongs to the true successor.” The Varia then proceeded to de-ice Xanxus. “Welcome back, boss. It’s time.”

Xanxus looked up from his prone position. “Give me … the rings.”

Belphegor began to slide the Sky Ring onto Xanxus’s finger. “Looks like everyone and their dog is here to witness the birth of the new boss.”

“O, pride of the Vongola,” Mammon intoned, “grant your successor, grant the young blood of the Vongola, your great power!”

Xanxus stood up and raised that hand to the sky. “This is it. This is the power! This limitless power is overflowing through me! This is the proof of the successor to the Vongola! Finally! Finally! It’s mine! With this, I will become the Vongola Decimo!”

And then blood erupted from Xanxus and he jerked as if struck, then collapsed.

“The ring has … rejected … Xanxus’s blood,” Tsuna said.

“What do you know!?” Mammon demanded. “What do you mean, the rings have rejected his blood!?”

“I certainly had it coming, didn’t I?” Xanxus said roughly as he struggled to stand and failed. “That old fart and I have no blood relation whatsoever!”

Squalo spoke again, revealing the truth behind Xanxus’s life, his delusional mother, and how Xanxus grew up unchallenged in the role of Nono’s son. But then he’d found proof he was not Vongola, that he was adopted, though Squalo had only learned the details after Xanxus had been put on ice.

“And that led to the Cradle Affair,” Renato said.

“You betrayed the ninth,” Tsuna said, “yet he didn’t kill you. Even till the end, hadn’t he always treated you with acceptance? He didn’t care about bloodlines or the law. He believed in you more than anyone else, and treated you as his own son.”

“Don’t make me sick with that unconditional love crap!” Xanxus shouted. “What use is that shit!? The only thing I wanted was the seat of the boss! I only wanted those scumbags to worship me! I only wanted them to praise me!”

“Sounds like the mother wasn’t the only one mentally ill,” he muttered.

Xanxus coughed up more blood as he ripped the ring off his finger and dropped it.

“Xanxus-sama! We will need to deliberate further on whether or not you are suitable for the rings,” a Cervello said.

“Why?” Renato murmured. “He already failed.”

“S-shut up! If I can’t have them, nobody can! Kill them! Kill them all!”

“Xanxus-sama!”

“I approve! Way to go, boss!” Belphegor said enthusiastically.

“We’re back to our original plan,” Mammon added.

“How rotten can you get?” Hayato snarled. “As if we’d let you!”

“And I was so hoping he’d just give it up,” he muttered, “and we could take them home.”

Mammon let it be known that the Varia squads were on their way to help. “They were already on their way here because after our boss’s victory, they were supposed to kill the rest of the people here and settle everything. These are our elite, next in battle ability only to us, the core members.”

“Wait a minute!” a Cervello objected. “We cannot allow any outsiders to interfere!”

She was struck down a second later by Belphegor.

“Hey, maggots! Since they’ve shown their true intentions, we’ll join the battle on Tsuna’s side! Let us out of here!”

Dino, Shamal, and Basil all shouted their agreement.

“Understood. In that case, the Varia has been disqualified,” the Cervello said, and clicked a control in her hand. “The infrared boundary on the observation box will be disabled.”

“Let’s go!” Colonnello said.

“Wait!” Renato said sharply. He had Leon handy, worn as a set of goggles. “It hasn’t been deactivated.”

“How naïve,” Mammon taunted. “We sabotaged it earlier. We arranged it so all of you would die in that same cell.”

“Move aside,” Colonnello ordered, bringing his gun around. “I’ll blow this apart!”

“It’s useless,” the Cervello yelled. “It’s constructed to implode if you fire from inside!”

While the other guardians were babbling, Chrome raised a hand to her ear and cocked her head to one side. “Eh…? Someone is … coming?”

Three newcomers landed in the field. “Reporting, sir!” one said. “We’re the only ones left. The Varia squad has been wiped out! That guy—he’s too strong! The man’s like a demon. He’ll be here soon—!”

A prodigious sphere came out of nowhere and nailed the three underlings.

“Lancia?” Renato murmured.

“That’s the person,” Chrome said, “Mukuro-sama’s been talking to all this time…”

“Don’t be mistaken, Vongola,” Lancia said. “I didn’t come here to help you. I came here to say thank you.”

Hayato sprinted over to Tsuna to protect him as the other guardians, plus Lancia, got ready to brawl. The Varia backed down, and Xanxus screamed abuse at them. A Cervello knelt at Xanxus’s head and said, “Xanxus-sama. Since you have been disqualified, you must forfeit the Vongola rings.”

“Cer-vello… It’s gone … according to … your wishes… You were … right… Are you … happy now?”

“You say that, but we do not have wishes nor do we predict anything. Everything was already decided. Your role in this is over. Thank you for doing your part. With this, the ring contest battle has ended. We will now announce the overall result. Since Xanxus-sama has been disqualified, the winner of the Sky Battle is Sawada Tsunayoshi. Therefore, the next successor to the Vongola is Sawada Tsunayoshi-sama and his six guardians.”

Hisui shuffled sideways and whispered into Renato’s ear, “You willing to risk teleporting out?”

After a slight pause his lover nodded, so he quietly took Renato’s arm and apparated them outside the enclosure, then reached out and brought Lambo to him. “I’ll meet you at home,” he said, then apparated again. He turned on the bedside lamp to the lowest setting, set Lambo down on his bed, and tossed a diagnostic spell at him; the chibi seemed to be fine. A quick trip to the potions cupboard later and he had a general healing potion down the child’s throat, and he sat there, leaning against the headboard with Lambo in his lap, infusing the boy with his magic in order to make the potion work.

Renato arrived two hours later, looking exhausted. “How’s he doing?”

“I used a potion on him,” he said softly and yawned. “It’s just about run its course.”

Renato nodded and started stripping down to his boxers. His clothes went into an untidy pile, and then he went into the bathroom. He brushed his teeth, used the facilities, and came back into the bedroom to slip under the sheet and prop himself against the headboard. “Well. Tsuna is safely at home in bed, and I shadowed Hayato to his apartment. He’s tucked away safely, as well. Chrome went off with Kakimoto and Jōshima. Lancia is at Nana’s; Tsuna offered him a place to sleep for the night. I was thinking…”

“Yes?”

“I want to take the kids away for a bit, but they don’t actually have a real break for some time. Maybe a weekend? Haul them off on a Friday…”

“Perhaps. But maybe it’ll be just as well for things to return to a normal routine first for a bit. Let’s arrange a night out so they can celebrate, get Tsuna caught up on the school work he missed, and then plan for a trip. Maybe we can go to that Disney park in Tokyo you mentioned forever ago.”

Renato hummed. “Not a bad thought. We never did get around to going. It shouldn’t be too much of a bother even with that many people. The only one likely to be troublesome is Lambo, but with you there I expect he’d behave.”

“He knows better,” he said sleepily, then cocked his head to the side. “That’s done, then.” He carefully shifted Lambo to the spot between them and got up so he could strip down and hit the bathroom for at least the basics. He was back and in bed a couple of minutes later, leaning sideways so he could kiss his lover before shifting down and pulling Lambo to him.

“Don’t squish the little guy,” Renato joked.

He snorted softly and closed his eyes, not caring about the light. When he woke up he was facing the edge of the bed with Lambo tucked in against him, and Renato was spooned against his back. Bright sunlight was leaking in around the curtains and the angle of the light told him it might well be noon. A quick spell confirmed it. As he went to get up Lambo also awoke, yawning expansively.

He turned the boy around and held him up, and was amused to see Lambo’s eyes go wide. “Nagi-san?”

“Yes. How are you feeling?” he asked, standing up and shifting the kid to a proper hold. He wandered into the bathroom and set Lambo on the counter.

“Ano… Lambo-san is a little tired, but…”

“Any pain? Headache?”

Lambo shook his head.

“Okay. Time for a shower, then.” He got Lambo out of his outfit—and he was still wondering why the Cervello had put him back in the cow onesie when Lussuria had still been in a hospital gown—and onto the floor, then removed his boxers and tossed them aside to be dealt with later. While he was making sure Lambo was seen to he flicked a hand back to throw a cleaning spell at the onesie before finishing up.

Lambo was patted down with a towel, his hair sighed at, and redressed, and his horns put in place. “You can brush your teeth when we get you to Mama’s.”

Lambo wrinkled his nose, but nodded. One of the first things he had done when taking the child on as a student was insist on certain things. The first time he’d heard the boy brag about never brushing his teeth, well… He set the kid on the counter again and said, “Sit tight. We’ll get breakfast shortly.”

He tidied up, making sure pockets were empty, and tossed all the clothing into the hamper, then hauled the boy off to the kitchen and parked him at his usual seat. Renato joined them right about the time the food was ready. The meal was punctuated by yawning more than conversation, and he kept a close eye on the boy in case he did something like start to doze off.

“You told him yet?” Renato asked quietly.

Lambo paused mid-chew, obviously wondering if they were talking about him.

Hisui shook his head, then focused on the boy. “Chibi… Ren-kun gave me a gift the other day, custody papers for you. You can still live at Mama’s if you want, but I’m your legal guardian now.”

Lambo’s hashi clattered to the table as his eyes went impossibly wide. He started to say something, then paused and furiously chewed his mouthful and swallowed. “Lambo-san has a daddy?”

He blinked, not having expected that response. “Ano…”

“Yes,” Renato said. “Nagi-san is your daddy now.”

Hisui floated the hashi over to the sink and materialized a set for the boy and offered them. Lambo accepted them and set them on the rest, then burst into tears.

“Oh hell,” he muttered, then got up so he could snatch the boy into his arms to cuddle him. “You better be crying because you’re happy, chibi.” A noise of agreement wafted up, the sound muffled by his chest. Once the crying tapered off to sniffles he took Lambo into the nearest bathroom to get him to blow his nose, then parked him in his seat again. “Don’t let good food go to waste.”

Lambo sniffled and nodded, and started eating again.

When they got to Nana’s the first thing he did was hustle the boy into the bathroom and make sure Lambo brushed his teeth. “All right,” he said, once the child was done, “you start thinking about what sort of dinner you’d like. I did say I’d make your favorites. Not tonight, but perhaps tomorrow.”

Lambo nodded and set his toothbrush in its holder, then held his arms up. Hisui obligingly picked him up and carried him off to see Nana and then tuck him into a bed for a nap because he was yawning again already. Tsuna was sleeping like the dead still, which was fine. Hyper Dying Will Mode was a bit brutal, though in terms of muscle pain the kitten had it a lot better what with all the physical training.

Renato was off arranging for everyone to gather that evening at Takesushi. It’d be on them, the cost of all that magnificent sushi. Lambo was wide awake an hour later and off playing with Fūta and I-Pin—and Lancia, too, surprisingly. They were using the poor guy like a jungle gym. Lambo went down for another nap after he wore himself out, but by the time he woke up again and got back to playing Tsuna finally emerged and wandered into the living room, still dressed in pyjamas.

“Thank you for letting me stay,” Lancia said to Tsuna from his position on the floor.

Tsuna squeaked in surprise. “Thank you very much for yesterday,” he replied. “Wait, why are you—?”

“We’ll talk about that later,” Lancia interrupted.

Nana popped her head into the room and said, “Tsuna-kun, you should go and change. We’re all going out.”

“Eh? Where are we going?”

“A party,” Renato said.

When Tsuna just looked confused Nana said, “Have you already forgotten what happened yesterday? Isn’t it worth celebrating?”

Tsuna was too tired still to do a proper freak-out.

“Lambo-kun was released from the hospital, right?” Nana continued.

“…Right!” Tsuna said, finally seeing the cow scrambling around on Lancia.

“We’re gathering at Takesushi,” he said. “Go get dressed.”

The only two people who did not show up were Hibari and Chrome, but that was not unexpected. Hisui had been divided on whether or not Chrome would join in, but she had simply accepted her ring and wandered off without saying either way. Kyoko’s friend Hana was present for some reason, and Colonnello had decided to join in.

Hayato charged up to Tsuna once Nana was far enough away and leaned in to whisper, “Although it looks like we’re celebrating the stupid cow coming home, there’s no doubt today is a victory celebration for the scramble battles. We really did it!” Hayato brought his hand up to show off the ring he was wearing, and a nearby Ryohei and Takeshi lifted up chains around their necks on which their rings were threaded.

As Renato was giving Tsuna the Sky Ring, Hisui pulled Hayato off to the side. “Thank you.”

The boy blinked at him in confusion.

“For Lambo-kun. I know you don’t especially like him, but I saw you go to his rescue. If you’re interested, I had planned to make you a special dinner of your favorites.”

Hayato blinked again, but considering he had no idea of the changed relationship, that was not unexpected. “Uh…”

“Nagi~san!” Lambo called, then scampered over to scramble up into Hisui’s arms. He saw Hayato and beamed. “Lambo-san has a daddy now!” he crowed, then gave Hisui a sloppy kiss on the cheek.

“Oh,” Hayato breathed out, his eyes going wide.

“So, you let me know if you’re interested,” he said, “and what you’d like. And for how many. All right?”

“Right,” Hayato said slowly, “I’ll get back to you on that.”

He nodded and wandered off toward the food. “What kind of sushi would you like, Lambo-kun?”

*

“Wait!” Tsuna called, racing down the street. “Hey, wait up, you guys!”

“Sawada-dono,” Basil said once Tsuna got close enough. “Ren-san, Hisui-san.”

“Vongola,” Lancia greeted.

“Why are you going back to Italy without saying anything?” Tsuna asked.

“My apologies. I was suddenly summoned and I believed everyone to be busy,” Basil replied.

“As for me,” Lancia answered, “I’m not one to bother people, so I was trying to just go quietly.”

Tsuna blinked. “Ano… Where is your weapon?”

Lancia smirked faintly. “I’d get a lot of questions if I tried traveling with it on the plane, so I’m leaving it to a courier.”

“Lancia, I heard from Chrome that it was Mukuro who asked you to come?” Renato said.

“No, not exactly. I haven’t been in touch with Mukuro since that time. But, the day before the battle for the Sky Ring, I had a strange feeling. It’s likely because of the amount of time I spent under his control that I could sense his thoughts. Ironic, isn’t it?”

“Lancia-san…”

“Don’t worry about it,” Lancia told Tsuna. “I may not want to forgive Mukuro, but being able to help you as a result of that connection was enough for me.”

“Do you … still wish to pay a visit to the deceased family members?” Basil asked.

“Yeah. I only have one lifetime in which to repent for making that incident possible.” He paused a moment, looking down, then removed a ring from his finger. “Oh, right,” he said, holding up the ring for Tsuna to see. “This is my boss’s treasure. Though it’s not as good as a Vongola ring. I want you to have it.”

“Such … an important item!?”

Lancia pressed it into Tsuna’s hand. “I want you to have it,” he repeated. “You gave me back control of my mind.”

Basil reached into his pocket and pulled out a small container, which he offered to Tsuna. “This is from me! I do not know if it suits Sawada-dono, but nevertheless, should you find yourself in an emergency, please use it. Well, farewell.”

The two of them turned and continued on down the street.

“Are those what I think they are?” he asked, eyeing the container.

“Dying Will pills?” Tsuna said, looking at it with trepidation. “But why?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Renato said mockingly, “maybe because we aren’t with you twenty-four-seven and you might actually need them? Perhaps when the next assassin trying to kill you shows up and you might prefer that over being shot?”

“Next assassin!?”

He rolled his eyes. “Guess what, kitten? It’s time to play catch up on all the school work you missed!”

*

He was out on a job when that feeling came back. Ants started crawling up his spine, urging him to get back to Namimori. Of course, he was in the middle of a job. He had spent the last few hours floating through the ventilation system to make his way deeper into a ridiculously large compound outside Sapporo to get to his target, and to leave right then would make a mockery of the effort already expended. He kept going for another ten minutes, then cast another locater and exhaled a silent sigh of relief; his target was in the room below him.

Why the ducts were not trapped in any way was beyond his comprehension, but he was not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. A look through the screening into the room below showed his target seated at a desk, going over some paperwork. He materialized the usual senbon and struck; the moment he was certain of the kill he disapparated to a spot he had chosen outside.

By the time he arrived home he was greeted by a strangely older Renato, who said, “This is bad.”

His brow went up questioningly.

“I’ve been here for a while now, way longer than five minutes.”

“Great. I suppose this could be like when Giannini tinkered with the Ten Year Bazooka and Hayato was stuck in chibi form for a week?”

Renato stared at him, brow furrowed. “I am seriously wrestling with my conscience at the moment.”

His brow went up again as he eyed his strangely older lover. “I would almost feel like I was cheating.”

Renato leered at him. “Yeah, no. Believe me, tesoro, we’re still going strong, and I’d love you at any age. But that’s not what I meant. Ten years from now is…” He sighed and shook his head.

“Are you hungry?” he asked.

Renato shook his head. “Not just yet, but soon probably. Let me think.” He eyed him, his brow crinkled. “Trying to remember… You just got back from a job, right?”

The wards would not have let anyone in who intended harm, but better safe than sorry. “How did you originally track me down?”

Renato blinked at him. “My insects, then Leon.”

“Where did you get Leon?”

“Which one?” Renato replied. “If you mean the one present now, we got him in Berlin, at the enclave there, as a result of that fellow’s accident.” He moved in close enough to whisper in Hisui’s ear, “And your original name was Harry Potter. Your parents bled out on the scene at Malfoy Manor.”

He nodded. “Just checking.”

The response to that was his lover nibbling on his earlobe. “Now that you mention it,” he purred, “I am kind of hungry. Things are a bit … hectic … on the other side. We don’t always have a decent stretch of time to indulge ourselves.” Hands started sliding up Hisui’s back.

‘Oh, what the hell,’ he thought, and allowed himself to be swept away.

Over dinner he said, “Well, someone still has to keep an eye on the kitten.”

Renato paused mid-chew, nodded, and continued. “It’d probably be best if that was you. If I poofed back in the middle of things…”

“Yeah.” So the next morning he shadowed the kitten around while he spent time with his friends. Lambo was at Nana’s for the time being, so he was not particularly worried about the child. What he was not expecting, after Tsuna went home looking a bit worried, was for the two of them to get into a tussle and for Tsuna to be shot with the Ten Year Bazooka.

The twenty-five year old Tsuna had a worried and regretful look on his face. He looked back at the door to the room and frowned, then turned his head sharply to look at the tree Hisui was blending into. Tsuna leaped out the window and landed gracefully on the lawn, so Hisui dropped down to stare at him openly.

“Can we go to your house?” Tsuna asked quietly. “Lambo-kun looked like he was half asleep again already.”

He sighed. “Why do I get the feeling you’re going to be—yes, let’s go.”

Tsuna offered his arm, which caused his brow to go up, but he did a quick sweep to make sure no one was positioned to witness anything, then apparated them.

Renato wandered out at the sound and eyed the older Tsuna, then sighed. “What are the odds?”

Hisui looked between them, frowned, and said, “I’m just going to let you two talk. Any suggestions for dinner?” They both shrugged, so he headed off to go read for a while first. That the older Tsuna was still there meant it was likely he would be sticking around for far too long, and that something hinky was going on in the future.

The doorbell went a bit later so he went to answer it, expecting that Renato and Tsuna would be avoiding everyone else. An older Hayato was there. Hisui rolled his eyes and ushered him in. “What the hell is going on?” he muttered, then cast a quick locater and led Hayato off to join the other two in Renato’s armory. He did his best to ignore how Hayato flipped the fuck out on seeing Tsuna and just walked away.

*

As soon as the door was closed Hayato started in, but Tsuna let him get it all out. Finally, into the ensuing silence broken only by harsh breathing, he said, “It’s all part of the plan.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” Hayato demanded.

“We weren’t even supposed to show up here,” Tsuna said as Renato continued to clean one of his guns. “Shoichi assured me we’d be in suspended animation while our younger counterparts took on the challenge. For them to get stronger then. Our counterparts leading our younger selves in stages. With that kind of threat facing them they’ll be forced to get stronger rapidly.”

“Who knew!?”

Tsuna shrugged. “Me, obviously. Ren-oji, Nagi-oji, and Hibari-san.” He chuckled softly. “I just know Hibari-san is going to be brutal on me, but it’s necessary. The question is how long before the others get switched. And frankly, I still don’t know if Nagi-san will be. Not sure it would matter. He hasn’t changed much, really, in all this time. He’s still just as deadly, he’s still the same rock of sanity.”

“The only reason I was switched,” he said, “was so that Hisui’s intuition would go crazy and alert him to something happening. You think I enjoyed the idea of sending my lover into a panic over my disappearance, even with his permission?”

Hayato slumped a little. “No. I just don’t get why you faked your death, boss.”

“Because you’d have acted differently,” Tsuna said simply. “Hibari-san would never let on. Neither would Nagi-oji. Ryohei-kun was sent on a mission to keep him out of the loop while still doing something we needed done. Hayato… I trusted you to be you.”

Hayato sighed and nodded. “But then why can’t we just kill the bastards now!?”

He rolled his eyes. “Hayato, try thinking about that for a moment. C’mon, kid, you’re smart.”

Hayato frowned and started pacing the room, mumbling to himself. Ten minutes later he sighed again and said, “Paradox.”

“Right. I know it’s hard, but you just have to endure,” he said. “We should have been in suspended animation and unable to have these moments to flip out and think too much and whatever else. But something went wrong and we’re here. So let’s just stay put, have some faith in our younger selves, and try to ease things for Hisui. He’s got to be feeling pretty frustrated right now, and will be even more so when more people get switched. Don’t be surprised if he gets openly cranky.”

Tsuna blinked at him. “Is that actually possible for him?”

He laughed. “Did I ever tell you about the time he managed a breakthrough and manifested his ability with fire?”

*

He was going to have to prepare food for more people than normal, so he made a quick trip to the store and began working. Hopefully no other misplaced persons would show up—that evening, anyway. As he was not in the mood for anything involved, he simply made something American for dinner: cheeseburgers and fries. If none of them liked it, they could cook for themselves, or order in. ‘Kami-sama,’ he thought, ‘apparently I’m kind of pissed off if I’m thinking shit like that.’

He reached out and popped the door of the armory as a hint and a few minutes later Renato, Hayato, and Tsuna all filed in and took seats. He slid plates onto the table along with condiments and extras, and took a seat as well. Half way through the meal he looked at Tsuna and said, “I’m going to have to go tinker with Nana-chan.”

Tsuna winced and nodded, which told him that at some point he had opened up about his abilities. “Yes. I don’t want her to worry. We’re going to have to do something about school, as well.”

“I’ll take care of it,” he said. “Any idea how long you’ll be here like this?”

Renato snorted. “Not a damn clue.”

“I’ll try to take the Ten Year Bazooka from Lambo, but…”

“But you don’t want to get switched out yourself,” Hayato said.

He nodded. “Still, if there’s something wrong with it, I have to try. Assuming you haven’t already thought it of, depending on how long you’ll be here, we may need to hit another town and buy clothing. Ren-kun’s should fit just fine, but you two…”

“The people here are a tad on the oblivious side,” Renato said, “but I tend to think they’d find it strange that older versions of ourselves were wandering town. So yes. But I’d prefer that you be the one driving, or we take public transport. Actually, none of our cards are going to work.”

He rolled his eyes. “We’ve got more than enough, you know that. We’ll just use one of mine. I’ll do some meddling tonight, then take care of the school tomorrow morning. After that we can see about getting Hayato-kun and Tsuna-kun outfitted for a stay of indeterminate length.”

“Thank you, Nagi-oji,” Tsuna said.

He blinked. “You, too?”

Tsuna blushed. “It kind of caught on.”

Hayato tossed a smirk his way.

“Well, since I can’t ask any of the questions I’d like to, let’s talk about languages. How many have you picked up?”

Tsuna shooed him away from cleaning up and said he would take care of it, so he skulked off to go set some compulsions in his best friend’s head. Lambo was sleeping peacefully and the Ten Year Bazooka was nowhere to be seen, so he held off on that, not wanting to disturb his—‘I guess if he thinks I’m his daddy, then he’s my son now.’ He shook his head and returned to the house.

The next morning he did some meddling with school officials’ brains, then apparated everyone to Kyoto to do some shopping. After all, if they already knew, why bother with a long drive? Renato sneered slightly over off-the-rack clothing, but none of it was for him, so the others simply ignored him. By the time they returned to Namimori and the house, Hisui was displeased to see older versions of Takeshi, Lambo, I-Pin, Kyoko, and Haru cluttering up his living room.

“What the hell?” he muttered. “Ren, find them all rooms, please? I’ve decided to have a minor breakdown and feel the need to retreat,” he said, and took off for his library.

Lambo followed him in and sat next to him on the loveseat. “In case the younger me doesn’t think to tell you, I want you to know you’re a fantastic father.” He leaned over and planted a soft kiss on Hisui’s cheek, then wormed his way under an arm.

He sighed. “I’m glad to hear that. I’m a bit confused at the moment, though.”

“We all are. If this keeps up we’re going to have a full house.”

Hisui snorted. “A full house of people I have to hide, and who can’t really talk to me. I actually feel depressed. I don’t think I’ve ever felt depressed in my life until this moment.” He could see Lambo frown in his peripheral vision.

“You taught me how to cook,” Lambo offered.

“Oh? Did I do a good job?”

“Of course you did. You don’t really think—tell you what. How about I help with that while we’re here? You were always the one doing the cooking until I expressed an interest. There’s no reason you should be cooking for so many unexpected people all the time.”

He had to think about that, the idea of letting someone else mess with his kitchen, but eventually he nodded. “How much … do you know? About me?”

“…Oh. Oh, that. I know about your … other powers. After Tsuna took over and he went through some of the documentation… Well, the Vongola Nono had several things sealed away where no one but the next boss could get to it. But you told me directly.”

“I’m not sure how I feel about that aside from irritated,” he replied quietly. “I only ever admitted to it because I felt I had to. I can’t say that I’m pleased Nono kept records, though I can understand him wanting some kind of advantage.”

“He apparently felt that the next boss should be aware of that world. Tsuna connected the dots, so to speak, because of the times you’d transport him and Hayato to that mountain. It’s just us three. Tsuna didn’t think he had any right to tell the others. Hayato’s his right hand man, so…”

“Fine. Let’s go see what we have in the kitchen for supplies and start planning, then.”

Lambo detached himself and stood up, waited for his father, and started walking. “Kyoko and Haru can also cook, you know. Unfortunately, you’re the only one who can go out without much suspicion right now. Maybe me and I-Pin, too.”

“I really don’t like the idea of a bunch of people messing around in my kitchen,” he said stubbornly.

Lambo brought up his hands in a surrender position. “All right. Just you and me, then. But they can always help with planning ideas?”

“Fine.” As they walked by the living room he looked at the crowd briefly, but kept going.

“He really hasn’t changed, has he?” Haru whispered too loudly.

Renato jumped up to follow them and slid into the kitchen. “You taught Lambo really well, tesoro,” he said gaily. “He’s almost as good a cook as you are.”

He stared at his lover, unhappy that a smile peeked out briefly. “Should I take that to mean you two resolved your differences along the way?”

Lambo grinned. “Eh, I still try to kill him every so often. For old time’s sake.”

Renato snorted in amusement. “I don’t think paint-ball tournaments count.”

Another smile peeked out before it was quashed.

“Of course they do!” Lambo declared. “It’s beside the point that nobody dies.”

“Does this mean you learned to shoot something other than a missile launcher, then?”

Lambo actually pouted. “Ren refused to let me modify one, so yes. I learned how to use a proper gun.”

A real smile appeared. “I see. Well, there are nine people to be fed for who knows how long. So, time to go shopping. Lambo, you and I-Pin-chan can come along. You two have changed the most. Everyone else will just have to watch television or something.”

Renato nodded, getting the underlying meaning.

He set off, slow enough that Lambo could hasten over to I-Pin and get her moving, then headed for the shops. They were just coming out when he spotted Ryohei and paused. “You two, take the long way,” he said quietly. As soon as they were off he set out.

Ryohei spotted him and dashed over, started yelling in his general direction.

“I’m not deaf, you know,” he said flatly. “But I will be if you keep doing that.”

“Eh?”

Hisui started to walk away.

Ryohei followed after a moment of surprise and started yelling again.

“Maybe some time in the future you’ll learn how to speak normally. Until that point I’m afraid I can’t be bothered to even try listening.”

“But—!”

He shook his head and kept on walking. “No. Learn some control. Your life might be ‘extreme’, but that’s no excuse for being impolite. And if you keep it up, I’ll give you a very painful reason to yell. Impoliteness ranks right up there for my motivation to hurt someone, so go figure out how to use an indoor voice.”

“We’re outdoors!”

He shook his head again and wandered into Takesushi long enough for Ryohei to get distracted by Tsuyoshi and back out again, at which point he sped off home and unloaded his groceries, then started planning dinner.

“How’d you ditch him?” Lambo asked.

“I complained about the volume of his voice to confuse him, then ducked into Takesushi to shake him off. I’ll just buy groceries elsewhere, I guess.”

“Well, if this keeps on, we’re missing Chrome and Hibari, but I doubt either of them would come here,” Renato said. “Well, and Ryohei, of course.”

“Please tell me he learns to moderate his voice in the future.”

Renato scratched the back of his neck. “Sort of?”

He sighed. “What are we supposed to tell Nono? Assuming he’s even in any condition to get reports.”

“Uh, shit,” Renato replied. “We lie like dogs.”

The next few weeks were spent reading, watching television, playing group games, and sparring out back. Hibari was spotted briefly in town, but disappeared. Then Ryohei showed up at his door and was let in. “Have you figured out how to use an indoor voice yet?”

Ryohei smiled sheepishly at him as he closed the door. “Some of the time? But when I get excited…”

“Kami-sama,” he muttered. “The others are here. I will hurt you if you start yelling.”

Ryohei nodded and toed off his shoes. “I’ll try to the extreme.”

That he said it at a normal tone of voice was heartening. Two days after that Basil appeared at his door and was ushered in. “Please tell me this is the last of you,” he muttered. “Ren!”

Renato came into the hallway and eyed the new arrival. “Weren’t you in Spain?”

“Yes. I checked on a few things first, then came here. It would not do for—well, anyway.”

*

He was watching television with the others when his mind was inundated with memories of part of a future that technically never happened. As the ground beneath and around the house shook everyone in the room suddenly was replaced with their proper counterparts. Renato immediately pulled him closer and gave him a worried look.

It took a few minutes of hard concentration to shift memories into their proper places as they were shoved into his head, but eventually he was able to sit up straight and frown. He sent a faint glare at Tsuna, who squeaked in alarm.

“W-what?”

“First, good job on getting stronger. That applies to all of you. But—”

Tsuna cringed.

“I am going to run you into the ground, kitten. I am so annoyed with you right now. Actually, I’m annoyed with most of you. No reason to focus on just the leader, after all.”

“But—”

“The only ones I’m not upset with are the girls and Hibari-kun, in fact.”

“But—”

“Now that you’ve all returned, you have been released from the hospital.”

Renato raised a brow.

“There was a bus accident,” he said. “You were all being treated at Dino’s facility—so far as anyone knows, anyway. I had to get creative with the excuses considering just how many of you were involved. So, second… Break just started, so you’ll all have two weeks to get caught up on what you missed in school. You boys will be coming here every day. Haru-chan, Kyoko-chan, you can come if you like, but it’s not required. I know you two are decent students. But if you want some supervision, you’re welcome to be here. I’ve collected the assignments once a week so I know what you all need to work on.”

“I … don’t even go to the same school,” Haru said softly.

“I am aware of that,” he replied evenly. “Don’t be too surprised if your families seem oblivious to you having been gone, and don’t expect any of them to be springing holiday trips on you, either. Be here, Monday morning, nine o’clock. If you aren’t, I will come find you and drag you here.”

All but the cow ran off. Lambo scampered over and onto the loveseat, so Hisui snatched him up for a cuddle. “I’m happy you’re home safe, chibi. You did very well.”

“Nagi~san already told Lambo-san that,” Lambo said with a giggle.

“It bears repeating,” he replied. “Still unhappy that you’re a guardian at such a young age, but…”

“Is Nagi~san really upset with Lambo-san, too?” Lambo asked, aiming wide green eyes at him.

He shook his head. “No, you behaved yourself fairly well. And when you did end up in that fight, you did a good job. I’m more upset you had to be there at all, that you were in that kind of danger.”

“Lambo-san promises to work hard for Nagi~san!”

“All right, chibi. But for the next two weeks I’ll have you pick up where we left off. Do you remember what it was?”

“Ano…” A finger came up to press against Lambo’s lower lip. “German!”

“Correct. You can get back to work on that while the others are getting caught up on school.”

“O~kay!”

*

The video conference call connected and the two of them were shortly staring at Nono, who looked exhausted. But his eyes were fierce with resolve, so he could not have been doing too badly. “I have this feeling,” he said after greetings were made all around, “that something of grave import has happened.”

Renato snorted faintly and nodded. “You might say that. A great deal has occurred while you were recovering. We all, Hisui excepted, spent the majority of our time since the end of the succession battle, just shy of ten years in the future. I am sorry to say you were already … gone.”

“Do you know why?”

Renato hesitated. “It’s not a kind truth.”

Nono’s expression hardened. “Tell me.”

Renato sighed, then his chin jutted out slightly. “Well… I did not have full access to the details, but despite most Vongola installations being blown sky high, there were still reports available in the usual place that I was able to get to. From what I could gather from the reports there was some mild discord between you and your guardians due to how you’d been captured and used as you were. It made me think that your intuition might have warned you of something, something that caused you to prepare those Sky Flame-sealed documents ahead of time, for the battles, and left them with the Cervello.

“Things were never quite the same after that, but I confess I was reading between the lines of the reports and have no solid basis of fact for that opinion. Not long after Tsuna took over, when he turned twenty, you were attacked and a bullet winged your heart. Your guardians were unable to prevent it. Your heart was already working too hard, and your issues with mobility made it almost impossible to avoid. You died from it.”

“I see.” Nono looked down in thought and did not speak for another few minutes. “Now, as to what happened during this trip to the future.”

Renato summarized what he had experienced, what the teens had learned, and the eventual outcome of the entire debacle. Indeed, Byakuran had already sent a cheerful message of greeting. There were apparently no hard feelings, and quite a lot of respect had been built up. Tsuna had mostly just accepted it in the way Skies tended to do, though his guardians were a bit more wary of the seeming peace.

Hisui could not blame them, but then, even being accepted as themselves by Tsuna, no matter how much he might get frustrated with them, they could not fully comprehend the average mindset of a Sky, that ability to forgive. Byakuran seemed to have learned his lesson; Hisui certainly was not getting any hinky feelings about it, anyway.

He was snapped back to full attention when Nono said, “I am hardly in good health now.”

Renato nodded.

“It would be in our best interests to hold the Inheritance Ceremony. Tsuna has proven himself. He would not have to take over straight away, but he should be confirmed in his position.”

“We’ll let him know,” he said, “while also easing him back into a more normal life. As normal as it gets, that is.”

Nono nodded. “I will contact you with further details as they become available.” He ended the call.

He sighed. “That was uncomfortable. I don’t think he enjoyed the vague hints of criticism.”

His lover shrugged. “What else could be said? He wanted to know what I knew.”

He let it lie. He had no doubt that the source of part of Renato’s irritation was actually on Iemitsu’s head. The man had successfully protected Nana, so far as they knew, but to take her to Italy? To the same country as part of the fight? Eh, probably the south, but still… Just another reason to dislike or even loathe Iemitsu, even if he had not technically done it, because that future for them had been negated.

“You realize, of course, I truly despise these box weapon things.”

Renato smiled at him. “Why did I know you’d say that?”

“What the hell happened to elegance in our work? Now people are going to be sporting these horrid things. I commend Tsuna-kun for learning how to really make X-Burner effective, even if he does need those contacts to assist him, but…”

“I know, tesoro. But you know as well as I do that it was mafiosi who were too weak to fight the Vongola alliance who ended up making things more complicated. Things evolve, even if it goes in ways we find crude.”

He rolled his eyes and headed for the kitchen. “Do you think he was given memories of the battles anyway?”

Renato shrugged. “It’s possible. The Arcobaleno might have arranged it, just as they did for those who were there, but weren’t switched. Didn’t seem like the right time to ask. He may have asked simply to see how his matched with ours.”

He hummed in agreement and started deciding on what to make for dinner.