Grazhir :: Crossover :: Hisui :: 18

18: 2016: Path B

(Assume the same start to this one as in Path A, up to that last section where Iemitsu comes into things.)

Iemitsu endeared himself to no one with the decision to go home for a visit. Whatever it was he said to Tsuna sent the kid racing out of the house. They did not find out about this until it was too late, naturally, because no one bothered to call either of them. Tsuna did come back, but Iemitsu was gone before he did.

Lambo was doing well with German and was almost ready to move on to another language, and Renato had taken to teaching the little cow mathematics as a way to try to learn to like the kid. Hayato dropped by for dinner one Monday evening—he sent a text first, just in case—and seemed horribly uncomfortable.

But finally he blurted out, “What happened!?”

His brow went up as he slid a plate of food in front of the silveret.

“Thank you. One day he was fine! And then all of a sudden, boom! He walks away. I don’t get it, I just don’t get it.”

Renato shrugged as a plate was set in front of him. “The only thing we can figure is that little trip to the future really scrambled his brains, and once he had a chance to relax in familiar surroundings and think about it, it scared the living hell out of him, the idea that you were responsible for saving multiple worlds, essentially. You will please note that it is he who is avoiding us. We still visit the house on a regular basis.”

Hayato sighed. “I’m—I’m not leaving. But—can we talk about—”

“Training to be a hitman?” he asked.

Lambo looked up at that, but quickly went back to his dinner, and Hayato nodded, looking utterly depressed.

“Well, do you have any preferences? Because I think we both know that dynamite is doable, but unlikely.”

Hayato groaned. “Well, I got some experience with shooting, sort of. I can try that. And it is a standard weapon.” He glanced at Renato. “I mean, you use them, and you’ve got such a reputation…”

Renato smirked. “Guns are elegant. A second option would be learning to use your flames without any crutches. I know of at least one person who used to disintegrate their targets with Storm Flames. It was ugly, but it got the job done, and there was never any physical evidence.”

Hayato ate thoughtfully for a minute, then nodded. “Both sound good, actually. I mean, that was never really something we learned, was it. Well, lawn-head, sort of. But neither of you ever use rings or box weapons or…”

“Not once in my entire life,” he said. “Either of us could help you with that aspect, but I think Ren-kun would be a better teacher with guns. I know how to use them, but they are not my favorite.”

“How, ah, would I…”

“I think this counts as Plan B, Hayato-kun,” he replied evenly, “something we already promised you.”

Hayato blinked and had to set his hashi on their rest for a minute while he thought back. “Huh. You did.” He laughed a little. “I was so suspicious back then.”

Renato smirked again.

“Well, I can fit you in after school for a couple of hours for work on your flames. Lambo usually naps mid-afternoon and then does meditation for a while.”

“Lambo-san works real hard for Nagi~san!” Lambo declared happily. “Lambo-san loves his daddy!”

Hayato blinked at the little cow a few times and nodded dumbly, then leaned sideways to whisper, “Is he always that well behaved for you?”

“Always.”

“Wow.”

“Alternatively, when it doesn’t conflict with your job, come for dinner and we’ll work afterward.”

Hayato briefly went into puppy mode, something neither of them had seen in ages, and nodded enthusiastically.

After dinner he spent some time with Lambo, playing, then tucked the kid into bed. When he rejoined Renato his lover was smirking again.

“I swear, you are—I’m not sure how to put it. It’s like you being an Earth grounds just about anything volatile. The only reason Hayato is as calm as he is around me is because of proxy association.”

“Well, maybe with a little time I can show him the eye of the storm. He really improved his aim with the dynamite, after all, so he had to learn at least some focus, and putting that mathematical brain of his to work. I’ll teach him guns, too, if you’d prefer.”

“No, I’ll give it a—” Renato stopped just short of a pun. “—try.”

He simply nodded.

Hayato showed up for dinner the next night so Hisui hauled him out back afterward to start. “One of the advantages of living at the edge of town is it’s quieter and you more easily find a sense of calm,” he said, gesturing Hayato into a seat on the grass. “This will probably sound weird. I want you to think about storms, the violence of them. I also want you to think about your most prevalent feeling. Mine was irritation or annoyance. Shape that feeling, in your head, into a weapon of some kind. You’ve had experience applying resolve to the idea of sparking flames off a ring, but you don’t need a ring. You can spark those flames, shape them, and send them out.”

Hayato stared at him almost uncomprehendingly. “You were irritated and that resulted in senbon?”

“I wanted a way to—not harass, exactly, but—drive someone away without necessarily having to kill or even wound badly. Of course, I can use them to kill and have many times, but that wasn’t my original intention. My emotion was irritation, my resolve was to drive away the cause of it, from myself, and from my friend. For me, it was that simple, but it’s true that I have flames that allow me to materialize physical objects. An untrained Storm acting off instinct can strip someone’s skin away, but I could imagine shaping Storm Flames into ephemeral blades, perhaps, that hold disintegration qualities. I’m not you, so I don’t know what would make the most sense in your head.”

“And other weapons?”

“Ano… Well, I can make almost anything I can imagine,” he said, materializing a gun in his hand, slapping a magazine into it, and shooting into the turf a short distance away. He released it and caught the ammunition, and tucked them away. “It took me a long time to be able to do that, and Ren-kun helped me, but the point is, if you can combine the spark and resolve and imagination… And once you get that down, well, it becomes reflex with practice.”

“You only ever showed them to me once,” Hayato said. “May I see them again?”

He shrugged and materialized four dozen senbon and sent them to weave a pattern in the air. “Of course, I can only manipulate them this way because I have more than one flame, but then, so do you, though none of them are quite like mine. I wonder… Perhaps if you can get it with Storm, if you could combine flame types, and if there would be a good reason to. Anyway, go ahead and get comfortable, close your eyes, and think of your emotional trigger, your Storm Flames, and some kind of weapon. That’s your exercise for the next hour or so. And if you do manage something so quickly, aim for the grass, yeah?”

Takeshi played baseball; there was no mafia game to play. Ryohei boxed; it was his passion. Chrome stuck to Kokuyo, where she felt comfortable, if not entirely accepted. Hibari did what he always did. Tsuna … drifted.

*

He blinked slowly and reviewed his short-term memory. “What is your reasoning?”

“Because even after all this time, and so many fights, I still don’t really know. I get it up here,” Hayato said, tapping his temple, “but I know I don’t. It’s like it’s all some cosmic joke, despite the number of people who’ve honestly threatened to end us.”

He exhaled in almost a huff, feeling mildly puzzled by the earnest request. After a moment he shrugged and fetched out his phone, then sent a text to Daisuke. The reply seemed startled, but confirmed that he would get right on that.

“Fine. He’s checking, and when I have information, I’ll let you know about the meeting. It could be as soon as tomorrow. When he comes, we can go over the folder together.”

Hayato nodded, a serious look on his face. “Just let me know.”

Daisuke arrived two days later and eyed Hayato curiously. Hisui made introductions, then accepted the folder and whipped through the contents in no time flat, then showed it to Hayato. The target was a young woman, Storm, who got back at people who upset her by disintegrating vehicle components, such as lugnuts on moving vehicles, to cause fatal accidents.

“Seriously?” Hayato said.

“There are a lot of stupid people out there,” he said. “Now, do you feel that anything is missing from this folder?”

Hayato gave him a look and went over everything in the folder very carefully, then shook his head. “Eh, not that I can see?” he said a bit uncertainly.

He nodded. “Lesson one: Have a good contact, one who provides you with what’s necessary. Who, why, proof, and how, at minimum. Having information on haunts, schedules, and so forth is always welcome. It saves time. It also means your contact’s famiglia gives a shit about its agents. Sometimes you have to track them down yourself, which can be anything from simple to why did I get out of bed this decade.” He ignored the fact that Daisuke was giving him an amused look at his lecturing tone.

Hayato set the folder down. “So with this much, you … scope out the situation, to verify, plan out how you’re going to do it, then … do it.”

He nodded again. “Yes. And then I send an innocuous text to my contact and the money shows up shortly after the hit’s been verified.”

“And there’s one fewer psycho on the streets.”

“Correct.” He glanced at the folder and shook his head. “Somebody really needs to figure out why there are so many assholes in Kobe. Lesson two: Have an excellent memory, if possible. Or some kind of unique, condensed code, so you aren’t carrying that much evidence around with you.” He looked over at his handler and said, “Consider it done, by the way. Lesson three: Know your time frame. If it’s not specified, ask. Same with if you’re not sure about how quiet the hit should be, or how gory. I’ll teach you about the money part of it later, so don’t worry about that yet.”

Hayato looked like he was about to whip out a notebook and take notes.

“So, this is a simple job,” he said as Daisuke smiled and packed up. “I have the freedom to do it the way I want to.” He waved absently as his contact saw himself out. “And since she’s creating public accidents that might kill more than just her target, I lean toward something messy and public. Now, you’ll shadow me on the job, though I think we might want to use a temporary dye on your hair. After all, we don’t generally get a lot of silver-haired non-elderly in Japan.”

Hayato frowned and reached up to pull on part of his fringe, as if it had never once occurred to him that his natural hair colour was … unusual.

Hisui could easily change it with illusions, but the boy was shadowing him for a reason, so it was better to do things properly. “Perhaps blond. A colour that light should wash back out quickly. Other alternatives are a wig or a knit cap to hide the colour. Anyway—”

“Wait,” Hayato interrupted. “He took the folder with him.”

“I have an eidetic memory,” he replied. “He knows I never need to see anything twice. So, think about how to disguise your hair, and consider wearing something that blends in better. On Saturday morning we will go scope out the situation.”

Hayato turned as green as he did every time Bianchi turned up without some sort of facial covering when Hisui exploded the target’s head. He gently kept the boy walking. By the time they arrived back at the house Hayato’s stomach seemed to have settled. After all, he had seen plenty of people smashed around; it was the death part he was unaccustomed to.

Hisui made tea—it was his go-to drink for an upset stomach—and served Hayato some, then asked, “So?”

Hayato drank half his tea before he responded. “In a way, I almost feel like I’ve been playing Yamamoto’s mafia game all this time. It’s all flashy attacks and shouted names and posturing and it’s all mostly overblown. What would you have done if faced with that Byakuran?”

“Exploded him, preferably before he had a chance to start off some grand speech.”

Hayato nodded. “And yet we got beat to hell. Okay, you have an advantage.”

“And that advantage is?”

“Well, it’s your job to kill. But when you were with us, it wasn’t. We were fighting battles to defeat while they were usually fighting to kill.”

He smiled faintly. “It is incredibly frustrating. It’s not that we enjoy killing, Hayato-kun. But there is enjoyment in removing a threat permanently. If you go down this path, take Plan B, your mindset would need to shift. Forget about being flashy, forget about your reputation, because that comes in time, and focus on the job itself. Why you’re doing it, how to do it, and how not to be caught.”

“Can I shadow you on a few more? And then maybe try one for myself?”

He nodded. “If I take you on as my apprentice, you will get a stipend,” he said, thinking that would be one way to funnel money to the boy without it looking like charity.

It still gave Hayato pause, and though his mouth opened, no words came out before it closed. Then he nodded.

“Any job you shadow me on, you get ten percent of the payment. You will be required to plan out the hit as if you were going to complete it yourself. One thing my contacts never do is give me hits for wherever I’m living.”

Hayato nodded; it seemed that made sense to him.

“So, that requires you have good knowledge of various cities and even towns. It also means that if you don’t know the place, either don’t take the job, or be sure that you have enough time to familiarize yourself if you accept it. Now, be ready for more practice tomorrow. I’ll get in touch with Daisuke about another job soon.”

Hayato learned a new meaning to frustration, but most of that was simply that he lacked tools to work with. On the other hand, his mounting frustration meant he was close to triggering something. Hisui started transporting him to a safer place, in case the boy exploded, which he did, sending out sickles of Storm Flame and cutting down a tree at his and Renato’s old practice spot outside Kyoto.

Hayato collapsed to the ground and panted. Once he calmed down he said, “I had no control over that.”

He released his protections and nodded.

Hayato laughed weakly. “The trick now is to do it on purpose.”

He nodded again. “When I manifested lava I already had experience, so I could do it again easily enough by—going back to what made me erupt in the first place. Now, before we continue, tell me the advantages and disadvantages of what you just did.”

“Well…”

*

“You know, I spent so much time seeing a boss that I never saw Tsuna,” Hayato said out of the blue during one practice. “I’m not even sure I ever knew what he really liked.”

“That’s part of the burden of being a Storm, Hayato-kun.”

“Relentlessly attacking, always pushing forward.” Hayato laughed weakly. “Good thing I have an Earth to teach me.”

Hisui smiled faintly.

“What’s your burden?”

“Drawing people in. Being surrounded by volatile people. But I manage.”

“Anyone who can make the cow kid behave…”

He supposed there was no point yet in saying that he grounded Hayato, too. The boy—though he was becoming more of a young man—would come to that conclusion eventually. A slower understanding in this case would be more beneficial. “How are your lessons with Ren-kun going?”

“Pretty good, I think,” Hayato said enthusiastically. “But he also spends a lot of time during lessons trying to rile me up.”

“Why do you think he does that?”

“…So that I can shoot even if I’m angry or, well, not calm.”

“Very good,” he praised. “He’s helping to get you to work from the eye of the storm. And it amuses him.”

Hayato growled. “Bunch of sadists,” he accused.

He shrugged, not denying it. “Come on. I need to get started on dinner.”

“Okay. I’ll see if Lambo needs any help, then.”

He smiled faintly again. Managing to get along with varying personalities was a plus, regardless of whether or not you made friends with them.

*

Daisuke handed over the folder and sat back, sipping his drink. Hisui flipped through the contents and nodded slightly at Daisuke. This should be a fine first job for Hayato, assuming the kid felt he was ready. Either way, the job would be done. He handed the folder to Hayato and waited.

The boy brought out a notebook and started making notes, muttering to himself, and sketching little doodles. Life had continued on. Tsuna avoided them, Takeshi played baseball, and Ryohei boxed. The latter two would probably be fine; they had the resolve to do well with their chosen professions. Of course, neither of them did more than wave or say hello when encountered, and that was fine. It also meant his eardrums weren’t assaulted on a regular basis, and he did not have to deal with that dopey look of incomprehension.

“Okay,” Hayato said, breaking him from his thoughts. “This guy seems to keep a fairly regular schedule, so I’d say start by shadowing him around and scoping out a good sniper position. He tends to go early in the morning, which makes it easier in some ways. Fewer people to get in the way, for one, and a better chance to get the hell out once the hit’s been made. That means thoroughly investigating any sniper spots for the best evacuation routes. What’s the time frame on this one?” he asked Daisuke. “It doesn’t say.”

“No more than two weeks.”

Hayato nodded and pulled out his laptop so he could bring up the city in question and get a satellite view—true, it was only Google Maps, but it was a start—of the area in question. He clicked around for a while as Hisui smoked a cigarette, and finally looked up. “I think it’s doable if this building was used. The building it’s next to is so close they don’t actually have facing windows, which means a sniper could rappel down the side as an exit.”

“What about the left behind equipment?” he asked.

Hayato paused, looking a bit sheepish. “Well, if it was me, I could use the rope as a conduit for Storm Flames and disintegrate the mechanism at the top. The whole thing would come down, assuming all of it didn’t disintegrate, and it could be bundled away.”

Daisuke grinned. “Not a bad idea.”

Hayato went into puppy mode briefly, then returned to being serious.

“So, Gokudera-kun,” Daisuke said, “will you take the job?”

Hayato goggled at the question. “Me?” he squeaked, then coughed and tried to pretend he never made such a sound. “Is that why there’s a two week time frame?”

Daisuke nodded. “To give you time to work out a plan if you take it on. I know the job will get done either way.”

Hayato glanced at Hisui, who nodded, then looked at his notes. “I need to run some tests first. I mean, the idea I had—I’ve never tried to do that with something strong enough to hold my weight.”

“Anything else you need before I go?” Daisuke said.

Hayato immediately went over the files again and jotted down a few more of his coded notes. They were nothing like his original G-code. He also took a long, intent look at the pictures of the target. “Okay, I’m good,” he said.

Daisuke nodded and returned the folder to his briefcase, then took his leave.

“Time for some experiments,” he said.

*

He hovered invisibly while Hayato got set up and in position. The boy knew he would be watching and would take over if it became necessary, because if Hayato missed he might not get a second shot. Either it was the determination to get it done right or the reassurance that someone had his back, but Hayato plugged the guy straight through the head on the first try, then immediately broke down his rifle and stowed the pieces, grabbed the spent cases and tucked them away, then was over the side of the building in a flash.

Hisui positioned himself better and waited. Hayato grabbed the cord he’d used and looked up, then unleashed his flames into it. They ran up the length like fire, destroying it as they went, and made it to the top. Hayato had found a metal pole up there and spent some time working equations to see if it would suffice, then tied the cord around it and quick-cemented it in place.

As it was, the cord disintegrated and the pole was fine. Hisui flew down to ground level and off to the arranged meeting place, where Hayato was busy throwing up. He waited until the boy seemed to be done and handed over a bottle of water and a damp cloth. “You ready?” he asked after Hayato spat out some of the water he had used to cleanse his mouth.

Hayato wiped his face and tucked the cloth away, and recapped the bottle. “Yeah.”

He went ahead and used a micro-wormhole to remove the vomit, then started walking in the general direction of the station. Hayato didn’t have his advantages, so spoiling him now with quick transport… “You send the text yet?”

“What? Oh, right.” Hayato got his phone out and shot one off, then tucked the phone away.

Back at the house in Namimori he said, “Once you really get going I’ll show you some interesting tricks and give you something that will be very helpful. That’s assuming you want to continue. Being a hitman can be rough, after all. You don’t always get as lucky as Ren-kun and I did. That aside, you did well. You got the job done, cleaned up after yourself, and made a clean getaway.”

“Maybe I should work on hacking skills, too,” Hayato said. “Far too many places have cameras for security.”

“What you also need,” said Renato as he walked into the room, “is training in how to fend off illusions. I was thinking that we could visit Dino during summer break. Brizio could probably be convinced to assist.”

Lambo came tumbling in on Renato’s heels and jumped into Hisui’s lap. “Nagi~san! Lambo-san is here!”

He cuddled his son and kissed the top of his head. “Hello, chibi. You have a good day?”

Lambo laughed that silly laugh. “Lambo-san was favoloso! He awed and stupefied Reborn with his amazing skills at maths!”

He gave Renato an amused look. “Did you now? You know, maybe we should start up a game,” he said, glancing back down for a moment. “A paint-ball tournament.”

Renato smirked.

Life went on.