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Fake Bullets, Real Guns, Fake Flames, Real Burns

Chapter Text

Back before survival games came into their own, there was a legend.

A group of men, sadistic, monstrous, and all round evil, had dominated the arena of survival games, and then disappeared off the face of the earth.

They called themselves Varia, and even the likes of Hoshishiro could not stand against them.

“Varia?” Hotaru Tachibana asked Masamune. “Who were they?”

Masamune rubbed at his eyes. “They were way before my time,” he admitted. “But they were said to be the absolute best.”

“Tachibana is sure we could beat them,” Hotaru said confidently, and Yukimura snorted in derision. “We can't even beat Hoshishiro, and Hoshishiro can't beat Varia. See the pecking order?”

Hotaru considered this as she walked to school, when a boy flew into her.

“Hie! I-I'm so sorry,” he stuttered, bowing to her.

“No, Tachibana is sorry,” Hotaru bowed back, equally flustered. “Tachibana was not watching where she was going...”

“No, it's because I'm clumsy,” the brown-haired boy babbled.

“Tenth!” A silver-haired boy came running up, and damn if Tachibana's instinct for justice didn't kick in. “Is this woman bothering you?” He glared openly at her, moving so his body was between the boy's and Tachibana's.

“No, Gokudera-kun, calm down,” the boy - tenth??? - flapped his hand at 'Gokudera'. “Sorry,” he said, bowing again.

Tachibana didn't know that this meeting would change her life as the other two walked away, and that was when she noticed the baby.


Chapter Text

“Survival games? That sounds boring,” Tsuna mused as he plodded to the hotel they were staying at. Reborn had planned yet another training session, one involving something called survival games. “Wait, are these going to be Vongola-Style? How do you make camping-”

“It's not camping, Juudaime. They're mock battles.”

“Hie! W-why would anyone want to do that?”

“Sounds fun,” Yamamoto grinned.

“Goodbye, sanity,” Tsuna said glumly.

They went down to the local (which was the middle of nowhere) practice arena.

“Team Vongola,” Tsuna muttered, glaring down at the arm band. “Okay, who chose the uniforms? Reborn?” He looked accusingly at his home tutor.

“It was me, Juudaime," Gokudera beamed. “Aren't they great?”

They were wearing the 'traditional' Vongola uniforms, ties and everything. Yamamoto had barely managed to get the tie on, with Gokudera helping Tsuna (again). It gave them all unpleasant flashbacks to the future - and that thought made Tsuna's brain hurt, so he stopped thinking about it.

“Where's onii-san? And the others?”

“You wouldn't want Lambo here,” Gokudera pointed out. “Ryohei's at a tournament, Mukuro and Chrome are back in Kokuyo, and Hibari looks down on this. He said not to bring it back to Namimori or he'll bite us to death.”

“Hah,” Tsuna sighed. “I wanted to turn sixteen without guns or violence.”

“Ah, Tachibana recognises you,” a voice said behind them, and Vongola turned to looked at the boy.

“Toy Gun Gun,” Gokudera read. “I've heard of you.”

Tachibana beamed at then. “You play survival games as well?”

“Actually, this is our first time,” Tsuna said sheepishly. “I've never really used a gun before.”

“You know these people?” A blonde-haired man asked, smiling at Vongola.

“Tachibana ran into them yesterday,” he explained to the man.

“Then good luck,” Tachibana said, patting him on the shoulder. Tsuna's intuition spiked, and he blurted out, “Are you really a boy?”

There was a stunned silence as even Yamamoto stared at him. “How did you know?” A black-haired man asked slowly. “Are you a fellow pervert?”

Tsuna flushed and backtracked frantically. “I mean- you're so pretty-”

“Tachibana is a girl but is often mistaken for a boy,” she cut in. “Tachibana's teammates only found out recently.”

“That's good spotting,” the blonde said, depressed. “I got beaten by a little boy...” He gazed at Tsuna consideringly. “I'm going to have to crush you, on my pride as a host.”

Gokudera jumped in front of Tsuna protectively. “Don't touch Juudaime,” he hissed. Yamamoto placed a hand on his pistol, treating it like a sword.

“Don't worry, it's a game,” the blonde said, suddenly at ease. “Toy Gun Gun uses guns, but you guys...” his gaze settled on their weapons. “A bow and arrow, and pistols?” He made it sound obscene, even though pistols were a kind of gun. 

Tsuna flushed when he looked at his miniature pistol and that wasn't really that minature. “I'm used to hand-to-hand fighting,” he said lamely.

The blonde nodded. “I'm Masamune Matsuoka,” he said, flashing a dazzling smile at them. “These are Tachibana Hotaru and Yukimura Toru. Nice to meet you.”

“Sawada Tsunayoshi,” Tsuna said, bowing back. “These are Gokudera Hayato, and Yamamoto Takeshi.”

“Let's have a good game,” Masamune was still charming them, and Tsuna was reminded of Dino.

“We're up against Toy Gun Gun first?” Tsuna asked worriedly. Yamamoto only laughed.

“Dame-Tsuna, you've been up against worse,” Reborn pointed out, and then started listing them. “Mukuro, Varia, Byakuran-”

“Varia?” The black-haired man, Yukimura, overheard their conversation. “You've fought Varia?


“They're not,” Reborn informed the trio, and they all visibly relaxed.

“How do you know Varia?” Gokudera demanded.

“They're legends in the survival game world,” Masamune explained, glancing at Yukimura and Tachibana. A fourth member had joined them, and Masamune gestured at him. “He's Hosokawa Haruki.”

Tsuna bowed in acknowledgement, then asked, “Varia was a survival team?”

“Yes...” Masamune frowned. “Didn't you say this was your first survival game?” Everyone on Toy Gun Gun just looked all-round confused.

Tsuna scrambled for excuses. “Uh, actually-”

“We've trained before,” Gokudera said, and it wasn't exactly a lie. They had trained – just for a completely different purpose. They had only learned the rules in the last week. “And we know Varia.” But why the fuck an assassination squad would play games with these fools was beyond Gokudera.

Toy Gun Gun all blinked at Vongola, and then Yukimura said, “we have to win.”

“Yes,” Masamune said.

“Tachibana doesn't want to lose,” Tachibana agreed.

“It's time,” Haruki said.

And Team Vongola wondered what they had got themselves into.

“Am I going into Dying Will mode?” Tsuna asked, concerned. “I shouldn't, should I?”

“Juudaime, don't worry,” Gokudera said confidently. “The baseball idiot and I will handle it.”

“I-If you're sure...”

“Of course!”

“Then...I'll let you handle it?”

“Maa, maa, Tsuna, stop worrying so much. We'll win, don't worry.”

So when the game commenced, Tsuna felt guilty that he remained near the buzzer. He lingered there, pistol out, wondering if Reborn was watching him like he was something pitiful.

“Ah, I really am dame,” Tsuna groaned. The game had barely started and he had already decided he didn't like survival games.

Yamamoto and Gokudera split paths almost immediately by silent agreement. Yamamoto was uncomfortable holding a gun – why the games forbid the best weapons, swords, was beyond him – and he constantly changed his grip on them. He ducked behind a tree as he became aware of eyes watching him. Where?

He dragged in a deep breath, then peeked around the trunk of the tree. A bullet passed by him and he ducked back, grinning. They had terrible aim, and had given away their position.

He twisted around then raced towards the origin of the bullet. As he approached he slowed marginally, then opened fire.

He missed. He knew as soon as his finger curled around the trigger. “Damn,” he hissed, then ducked behind a tree again as he felt the barrels of guns train on him. There were two snipers – Yukimura? Certainly. The other one must be – Haruki, or something. He was in their trap, and he had nowhere to go.

At least, that was what they thought. Sure, knives and hand-to-hand combat weren't allowed, but that didn't mean Yamamoto couldn't use his sword techniques. He turned his gun so he held the barrel of it, then thought of one.

He could just cut around the foliage. And that was he did. He breathed in deeply, steadied himself, smiled, then unleashed it.

No one saw the smile, but it was cold and cheerless.

Gokudera was glad he had chosen the bow and arrow, even if Masamune had looked at it with distaste. It was better than his trashy taste, and besides which, he had experience with archery. It was one of the perks of being the son of a rich mafia man (and he had fired arrows in the future, as well).

Guns. Blergh. Anyone with Flames, true Flames, could easily evade normal bullets, and hell, they weren't even using real ones. This was a game, a pathetic game, but for the sake of the Tenth he would pretend he was having fun.

And so he aimed at the girl (who he had thought was male, which was embarrassing), thinking that she wasn't anywhere near as terrifying as Belphegor or Zakuro. And because he had no qualms about firing at a girl, he let the arrow go.


Chapter Text

Yamamoto shot both Haruki and Yukimura, still smiling like death itself. Yukimura muttered to Haruki as they returned: “I'm a masochist, but that's way too much for my liking.”

Yamamoto kept moving forwards, intent on getting Masamune before Tsuna was put in danger. He weaved between trees, shifitng his positioning on the guns so he held them properly again, like he'd seen Reborn do so many times.

He heard the sound of an arrow, so distant he could've been imagining it. He twisted around, knowing he hadn't, grinning at the thought the Gokudera was doing his part.

Gokudera did not hit his target. Tachibana had dodged just in time, turning in one swift movement and spraying bullets at Gokudera. Nice try, bitch, Gokudera thought as they all missed. He lined up another arrow, and Tachibana was barely able to dodge-

And Gokudera fired another, this time hitting her point blank. She stared for a moment, as if disbelieving.

Gokudera didn't see what she did next as he raced to where he thought Masamune would be. “I'll beat that baseball idiot,” he growled, not even slightly out of breath.

Damn, this sport was easy. Compared to having your body posessed and a psycho prince after you and some winged-insane-nut-job and facing down Vindice, this was a walk in the park. Easiest shit in the world.

“Gokudera,” Yamamoto said, joining Gokudera. “I got the two snipers.”

“Masamune's the only one left then,” Gokudera mused. “I'll handle it. You go away.”

Everyone had to wonder how this no-name team beat Toy Gun Gun with such ease. Multiple theories swirled; some said they were Varia, or related to them, while others said they were pro fighters or military men.

“Gokudera-kun, Yamamoto, congrats,” Tsuna said, smiling.

“Juudaime,” Gokudera protested, “You were part of the effort too-”

“I didn't do anything,” Tsuna protested right back. “It was all you guys-”

“Calm down,” Yamamoto grinned, slinging an arm around each of them. “We won! That's good enough, right?”

“Stay out of this, baseball idiot,” Gokudera snapped. “It's Juudaime's victory-”

Yamamoto was still laughing at Gokudera's tantrum when Tachibana approached. “Tachibana would like to know where you learned those things,” she said politely.

“The mafia,” Tsuna replied, then flushed and waved his hands around. “Uh, I mean, that's a joke. But we've been in a lot of fights – no, wait-”

“Well, we have been,” Yamamoto corrected. “we won a lot, too.”

Tachibana stared. “Are you a gang? The doesn't agree with my sense of justice.”

“No, we're mafia,” Gokudera corrected her.

Tachibana looked confused. “Isn't that in Italy and America?”

“Usually, but Juudaime's the next boss of Vongola, and I'm his right-hand man,” Gokudera boasted.

Tsuna clapped his hands over Gokudera's mouth, grinning sheepishly. “He's just talking about a mafia-role-playing game we played last year,” Tsuna explained. “We're not anything, I swear. Yamamoto and Gokudera are just really good athletes.”

Tachibana hesitated, then nodded, deciding it was probably better if she didn't pry.

“Grandpa,” Tsuna blurted out over the phone, “is it true that Varia played survival games?”

He winced at his abruptness; he had planned to ease himself into the conversation first.

“Yes,” Timoteo answered. “They did it back before Xanxus was...unfrozen, out of boredom.”

Tsuna surpressed his sigh, glancing at Gokudera who watched him eagerly. “Okay then.”

“Did you play survival games? How was it?”

“It was fine,” Tsuna lied. “We won.”

“Without Dying Will?”

“Yes,” Tsuna confirmed, wondering if it was okay to explain that he hadn't actually done anything.

“I have to go,” Timoteo said. “Talk to you later.” And he hung up. Tsuna put the phone back in its cradle, and Gokudera pounced.

“Juudaime, did they really?”

“Yes,” Tsuna confirmed. “Out of boredom, before Xanxus was unfrozen.”

“So Squalo played survival games?” Yamamoto questioned. “I can't see him with a gun, for some reason.”

“Baseball idiot,” Gokudera snapped. “Apparently, you can have games outside of organised settings like that, with any rules you want, and the famous TGC allows it too. So really, Squalo could have used a sword.”

“I'd like to play using a sword,” Yamamoto smiled.

And wind up killing your opponents, Tsuna couldn't help but think with a shudder.

“The prince heard that the Vongola Brats have started playing survival games,” Bel announced.

“Voi! They'll be useless,” Squalo yelled. “we could crush them easily.”

Bel and Squalo looked at each other, and reached the same conclusion. “Let's challenge them to a game,” Squalo grinned. “With swords and hand-to-hand combat.”

“I'm not playing,” Mammon said. “I didn't last time, so I won't this time, either.”

“As long as Boss doesn't mind,” Levi put in.

Team Varia was making a comeback, purely so they could hand the Tenth's Generation asses to them on a silver platter.

Team Vongola won again for the next two days. On the eve of the second day, when they were getting ready to leave with Toy Gun Gun, they heard a familiar “VOOI!”

Tsuna whipped around, and saw Squalo standing on a building in full Varia uniform, complete with sword. “Does this remind anyone of anything?” He asked Yamamoto and Gokudera.

“Dame-Tsuna, they're probably not here to kill you,” Reborn corrected.

Gokudera had his dynamite at the ready, standing protectively in front of Tsuna. “Juudaime, don't worry, this time we'll win.”

Yamamoto also had out his baseball bat – where did that come from???? - and was ready in his relaxed manner.

“Varia is challenging you to a survival game, trash,” Squalo yelled down at them, and Tachibana glanced at Vongola in awe. “Us against you, hand-to-hand and swords allowed. Accept it or die, scum!”

Tsuna looked visibly sick. “Is Xanxus playing?” He asked, wondering whether or not he was going to vomit.

“Of course. Any chance to wound you,” Squalo confirmed, jumping down from the roof to land in front of Tsuna. Gokudera, sensing no danger, moved aside so Tsuna could still see Squalo. “Just the Guardians, mind, no other teams.” He looked pointedly at Toy Gun Gun, who each stood like rocks.

“Same for you,” Tsuna said.

“We don't need others to defeat trash like you,” Squalo countered. “So? Accept, scum.”

Tsuna bit his lip and glanced his two guardians. “Yamamoto? Gokudera?”

“I'll go with Juudaime's decision,” Gokudera said.

“It's your call,” Yamamoto confirmed, but both looked hopeful that they could face off Varia like that.

Simultaneously unwilling to disappoint and petrified of Xanxus, Tsuna accepted the challenge.


Chapter Text

“You're going to play against Varia?” Tachibana asked, somewhat absently. “Tachibana has to wish you good luck.”

“Thanks,” Tsuna managed to say.

“Mattsun, do you think we could watch?” Yukimura asked Masamune.

“Is that alright?” Masamune asked Tsuna.

“Sure,” Tsuna said, before realising they might see the Flames. Oh well. He could ask Mukuro or Chrome to conceal any.

Tsuna called all his remaining Guardians together, wondering if it was a good idea to bring Lambo or not.

“This sounds extremely fun,” Ryohei yelled, throwing his fists in the air. “But, uh, I don't want to die because that guy might take my body...” He lowered his fists sheepishly. “I'm not going to extremely die, right?”

“Of course not, it's a game,” Gokudera snarled at him.

“Oh, good,” Ryohei sighed, obviously relieved.

“Boss,” Chrome asked tentatively, “I can't use illusions?”

“Not if you can't get away with it,” Tsuna said reluctantly. “They'll be civilians watching and did I just say that like I was mafia-”

“Juudaime, you're coming into your own-”

“I don't want to be a mafia boss,” Tsuna groaned. “And why did I accept the match between Varia and us?”

“Because it's going to be fun,” Yamamoto grinned. “Come on, it'll be fine – we'll win.”

They'd only win by disqualification; he doubted Varia would leave the real weapons by the door, and by the time the weapons were discovered they'd all wind up dead. Not a happy image.

On the day of the match, Squalo made sure to search through each officer's belongings.

“Voi,” he snapped at Bel, “There's no point in searching you, because I know you have knives on you. Are they real?”

Bel grinned at the swordsman. “Some are.”

Squalo resisted the urge to smack his head into the wall. “Belphegor,” he said, trying to control his voice, “If you pull them out during the match, I swear to god I'll spit-roast you and feed you to Xanxus. Got it?”

“Yup,” Bel agreed with no real intention of going through with it. He wanted to kill Gokudera (for unspecified reasons).

“My body is a weapon,” Lussuria sang when Squalo glared at him. “I don't need to smuggle in any.”

“If I'm given the chance to kill the brat-” Levi began, but Squalo snarled, “If you kill the brat the shitty boss'll kill you. He wants to do it himself.”

Levi hesitated, then handed over his umbrellas. How the hell he thought he could get away with that was beyond him.

“I'm not playing,” Mammon said immediately. “I'm not being paid.”

Squalo sighed. “So then we need two more players, 'cause we all want to go one-on-one, right?”

“Could be eight,” Lussuria pointed out. “They have two Mist Guardians. Aand Reborn might join in as well.”

Squalo glowered at the room. “So we got Levi, Luss, Bel, me and Xanxus. Find at least three more players, even if you have to kidnap someone.”

Levi frowned. “A civilian couldn't keep up.”

Squalo rolled his eyes. “Get special forces or something.”

“Shishishi, just let the prince handle it, stupid peas-”

VOI! We need just two more people, and you're telling me you can't even think of them?”

“Just get Bucking Horse to join,” Luss said with a wave of his hand.

Everyone stared. “Did you forget what happened when Hibari was facing off against Xanxus? What he said? You think the boss has forgotten?”

“Boss is likely to shoot him as soon as they see each other,” Bel said.

“Why are we only organising each other now?”

“Voi, did you forget about what happened in Tokyo? Sort of ate away our free time."

“...Oh.” Levi nodded in understanding. “But still. Two people, in a matter of hours? We don't know anyone.”

Squalo sighed loudly. “Why are we all fucked in the head?”

“But Squ-chan, aren't we breaking the rules for considering this? You said that only the Guardians were allowed.”

Squalo scowled at the okama. “Are fucking for real? Since when has Varia played fair? We rig everything we can get our hands on.”

“It still feels wrong...”

“If it's for the boss I'm fine with it,” Levi put in.

“Shishishi, it's called tactics, Luss.”

Squalo was beginning to regret ever challenging them, and the match hadn't even started yet.

“Tachibana is looking forward to the match,” Tachibana said to team Vongola. “But your team is bigger than she thought.”

Tsuna grinned sheepishly. “Yeah...they're all friends of mine. But we outnumber Varia, I think.”

“VOI!” Squalo shouted, and Tsuna winced at the sudden noise. Squalo was walking towards him, grinning sadistically. “So you showed up, eh, brats? You didn't run away.”

“O-of course not,” Tsuna said, trying to be brave. Tachibana was staring wide-eyed at Varia, and at first he thought it was awe; that was before Tachibana radiated bloodlust, making Tsuna's intuition spike.

Everyone in the mafia gaped openly at her, making Toy Gun Gun tense and shift closer to Tachibana protectively.

“So you don't have new Guardians, huh, Squalo?” Yamamoto broke in, trying to ease the tension.

Squalo's eyes snapped to him. “No...but we don't need any.”

“Mammon hasn't shown up,” Chrome noted as Ryohei began to warm up loudly.

“Because he wasn't paid to.” Squalo shrugged.

“Shishishi, I'm going to kill you, peasant,” Bel grinned at Gokudera.

“Try it, shitty prince,” Gokudera smirked back, and Tsuna flinched at the clash of egos.

“My offer still stands,” Luss called to Ryohei. “I'm still willing to take you back to Italy with me-”

“Poor guy,” Levi groaned as Lambo put his hands on hips and shouted, “Lambo-sama is going to win this game!”

“Why did we agree to bring him?” Tsuna wondered out loud, and a familiar tingle went up his spine. Tsuna didn't fall down like he used to, but he still cringed when Xanxus's gaze hit him.

“Trash,” Xanxus snarled, reaching inside his jacket and pulling out his guns-

-And Squalo thanked god he had managed to replace them with the ones for the survival games. Xanxus pointed them at Tsuna, saying, “I'm going to fucking annihiliate you, trash.”

Xanxus turned away at that, Varia following him as they left to their half of the hill.

“They could've brought their subordinates,” Tsuna said nervously. “What if they did?”

“Don't worry, Juudaime. We won once, we can do it again.”

Only by default, Tsuna could help but think.

No one noticed Toy Gun Gun in the background, the four of them asking themselves what the hell they got into.


Chapter Text

Yamamoto and Squalo clashed almost immediately; Yamamoto was grinning like a bat straight out of hell and Squalo was screaming something about the difference between a sword-freak and a baseball freak. Toy Gun Gun was watching from above, awestruck by the speed in which they moved.

“Voi,” Squalo hissed, “This time I'm not losing.”

Yamamoto's expression didn't change as he said, “I beat you last time. I can do it again, sempai.

Well someone's become a sarcastic little shit, Squalo thought involuntarily, his grin widening. This was going to be fun.

Gokudera and Belphegor were the next to clash, hissing like angry cats in an alleyway. Bel brought out his knives, spreading them out on wires, smirking at Gokudera. Gokudera in turn accidentally pulled out dynamite, blushed, then shoved back in his pockets, drawing his guns. “Oops,” he grinned, “I have to hit you before I blow you up.”

“Shishishi, you won't br able to get the prince,” Bel grinned.

Were the wires even allowed? Gokudera ducked behind trees, hating this forest scenery. He had to get back to Juudaime, to help him beat Xanxus. Tsuna probably didn't need the assistance, but it made Gokudera feel better to be there, ready to jump in if need be.

Lambo and Ryohei had teamed up and Ryohei wondered how he was going to deal with Lussuria and Levi at the same time - it was an extremely difficult situation to be in, but thankfully Lambo ended up firing the ten-year bazooka. On the downside, his sixteen-year-old self emerged and thought he was dying.

Chrome stayed beside Tsuna, saying, “Mammon isn't playing, so there's nothing for me to do – I'll stay here with you, boss.”

Tsuna nodded jerkily. “And I'll try not to die,” he half-whimpered, his regret deepening even more.

Yamamoto made distance between himself and Squalo, eyeing the other swordsman. They entered that moment where they fought each other in their minds, turning over every possible situation.

“Voi, you've gotten good, baseball brat.”

“Thanks,” Yamamoto smiled. “I think I'm catching up.”

“Don't get cocky,” Squalo warned, before lunging forwards again, this time forgetting the swords were fake and seriously attempting to disembowel him. Yamamoto only laughed as he danced backwards, parrying his blows.

“who's getting cocky?” Yamamoto smirked, and the taunt was so out of place that Squalo slowed ever so slightly, and Yamamoto, his cold smile in place, sliced and the wind it created forced Squalo to take a step back.

“Voi, watch it,” Squalo warned.

Yamamoto's eyes were cold, and Squalo couldn't help but be pleased. He's turning into a proper hitman, he thought.

Gokudera was running out of bullets, and Belphegor was still chasing after him. Thank god this was a game that didn't draw blood; otherwise the genius in Bel would awaken and then Gokudera would probably be in deep trouble.

Bel, as though reading his mind, laughed and pulled out a knife.

“Oh, shit,” Gokudera swore, then fired desperately, trying to stop Bel from cutting himself. The so-called prince only ducked behind a tree and traced the knife over his wrist, drawing blood. Had he ever done that before? Fuck if Gokudera knew, but it scared him – who the hell goes that far for a survival game?! The key word was game, not survival, and Gokudera was oh-so-tempted to slap him.

But then he remembered the Storm Ring Battle, and all outrage disappeared. He was not helping some shitty prince with a knife obsession. Gokudera considered the knife in his belt, wondering if he could use it. Probably not, it was better to keep his distance.

But why did he switch to guns? Answer: they were way better (he'd been practicing for the past few days). Anything to help Juudaime, after all.

So, as the prince closed in on him, the wires and knives streaming around him, Gokudera decided that this time he won't lose, no matter how good the prince thought he was.

Lussuria was still gushing over how he wanted to kill Ryohei and take him back to Italy with him.

“You wouldn't be able to get my body through customs,” Ryohei yelled at him as he took on the boxing stance, Sun Flames flickering under his skin.

“We have a private jet,” was Lussuria's reply, and Ryohei's jaw dropped.

“A private jet? How much do you people earn?”

“Ask Mammon,” Lussuria chirped. “Oh, wait, you can't – because you'll be dead.”

Ryohei, glancing at the teenage Lambo, wondered if it was okay to bring out Garyuu. Probably not, it wasn't on the list of approved weapons.

“Well then,” Ryohei said, checking that his gun was still holstered. “Lambo, I don't think you have a weapon for this survival game, right?”

Lambo frowned. “I don't want to be here, so I think I'll just run from Levi.” Lambo turned around and fled, Levi blinking at the sight.

“Do I really have to fight him?” Levi asked Lussuria.

Luss shrugged. “Just make sure he doesn't get in Boss's way?”

Levi perked up at that. “He might praise me-” whatever else he was going to say was lost as he chased after Lambo, rifle out and ready.

Tsuna and Chrome were both waiting nervously, Chrome clutching her trident.

“Uh, is it okay for you to have that?” Tsuna pointed.

Chrome shrugged. “I'm not taking any chances. I have a regulation gun on me, but – well, we're up against Varia, you know? There's no such thing as safe with them around.”

Tsuna nodded, then kept nodding. He grabbed his head, flushed with embarrassment, then felt his intuition spike.

It hurt, feeling another Sky, filled with fury and hatred and sheer obsession, come running for his head. It was a death wish, and Tsuna knew then if he didn't enter Dying will Mode he would be beaten to death.

But Toy Gun Gun was watching, he couldn't let them see the Flames.

“Dame-Tsuna,” he heard Reborn say, “You have your Mist beside you.” Tsuna had only imagined the voice, sure, but it felt so real that Tsuna heeded the advice.

Tsuna glanced at the Tenth Mist Guardian. “Chrome, do you mind hiding my Flames?”

Chrome, knowing what he was planning, nodded. “I'll do my best, boss.”

And Tsuna hurriedly swallowed two pills as Xanxus barrelled into the clearing. Tsuna readied himself to protect the buzzer at all costs.

Team Vongola would not lose to Varia.


Chapter Text

Gokudera still had his pride, which was why he didn't even stop for Yamamoto when they crossed paths. The baseball idiot could handle himself. He had won once, he could do it again.

“Need help?” Yamamoto asked, ducking another swipe from Squalo. Gokudera shoved past him, saying, “No, do you?”

Yamamoto's laughter followed Gokudera as he heard the familiar sound of knives thumping into the trees around him. He thought back to the Storm Battle, at the cage of wires built around him, and loathed the idea of letting Juudaime down again.

Never again, he chanted to himself as he listened for Belphegor's signature laugh. Never again.


Gokudera hissed through his teeth, ignoring the sword-freak's screams. Yamamoto's laugh grated on his ears, because the Rain Guardian was impossible to block out. Again, Bel's laugh trickled to Gokudera, and he instinctively ducked, knives slicing the air above him.

For Juudaime, he thought, firing blindly at the prince. But wasn't he running out of bullets? Dammit, why couldn't he reload with Storm Flames? Sistema CAI would be damn handy, but...instead, he was reliant on mere toys.

Gokudera was aching for another cigarette, wishing he could suck down the familiar smoke. For Juudaime, he kept telling himself, pausing to reload. Everything for Juudaime.

He stopped firing, now painfully aware of how many fake bullets he had left. Squalo was still screaming about something; apparently Yamamoto had won through a fluke. (Gokudera had no faith in Yamamoto.)

“Shishishi, the prince is going to win again,” Belphegor cackled as the knives narrowed in on Gokudera.

Shit, was his thought as one lucky little bastard hit Gokudera's arm. Thankfully, it was fake, but then another swooped in and cut open his cheek.

“You knife bastard,” Gokudera yelled in the general direction Belphegor was in. he still couldn't spot that damn prince. “That was a foul! Vaffanculo, bastardo,” he spat in Italian, hoping that hurt the prince.

“The prince doesn't care,” Bel said from behind him, and a shudder of fear went down Gokudera's spine.

Lussuria and Ryohei had forgone any weapons and were fighting it out with their fists.

Well, Ryohei was, but Lussuria was pretty much doing anything he could to win, because the okama did not want to get shot in the back again. Like it mattered, anyway – there was no one to shoot him, but the very real chance of being shish-kebabed by Squalo still existed as a possibility.

So Lussuria decided to win. He managed to get behind Ryohei, the boxer turning and yelling something about extreme, and Lussuria pulled out his gun and fired. The bullet hit his back, and Ryohei froze. “Uh, did that just hit me?”

“Yes, Ryo-chan,” Lussuria chirped, striking a pose. “I win this round. And I'll kill you and take you back to Italy with me later, okay, sweetheart?”

Ryohei frowned, disturbed by the nicknames Lussuria had given him. “No, you don't have to. I don't really plan on visiting Italy until after I graduate high school.”

Lussuria only giggled, skipping away as Ryohei sullenly made his way to the waiting zone.

Adult-Lambo had only one minute left when Levi caught up with him, wondering what his younger self had been doing in their early years.

Levi swung around his rifle, firing without aiming. Lambo shrieked at the top of his lungs, hurriedly climbing a tree. Levi sighed in resignation, then stood at the bottom, under the branch Lambo was on. Levi reloaded, thinking, for the Boss, and aimed at Adult-Lambo, firing just as the pink smoke clouded around Lambo and the six-year-old boy returned, munching on candy.

Levi frowned, thinking the time elapsed hadn't been right, but ignored it anyway. It didn't matter to him, because everything was for the boss. He aimed again, disregarding Lambo's cries, and fired.

This time he was successful, and Lambo was out.

Tsuna was facing down Xanxus, and not for the first time Chrome was in awe of her boss's bravery – because Xanxus scared Chrome like nothing else.

Tsuna's gloves were on, the symbols gleaming, the Sky Flames wreathing his head. Chrome had to hide it, struggled to, also extending her power to Xanxus, just in case.

The other Sky rejected Chrome's aid, shooting a look of hatred at the girl. Chrome jerked back, nearly losing her grip on the Mist Flames. She recovered just in time as Tsuna unholstered his pistols, unconsciously mimicking Xanxus.

“Die trash,” Xanxus snarled, firing at him. Tsuna was already moving, using his Flames as thrusters. Xanxus matched his pace easily, not even igniting his Flames of Wrath.

Damn, but Chrome's Flames were struggling to contain such vicious emotion, fighting to hide what was really happening from Toy Gun Gun's eyes. You can do it, my Nagi, she heard Mukuro whisper. Just her imagination, Chrome told herself even as her confidence boosted. Yes, she could, she was the Mist Guardian.

Tsuna and Xanxus had apparently forgotten about the buzzer as well as their guns as they slammed into each other, moving faster than Chrome could follow. The Mist Guardian had decided to would be easier to blanket the clearing away from Toy Gun Gun's eyes rather than mask each individual Flame; but the killing intent of Xanxus and the determination of Tsuna nearly broke through the layer of Flames.

“Trash,” Xanxus spat out as his fist slammed into Tsuna's stomach. Tsuna flew backwards, then corrected himself with his Flames, narrowing his eyes Xanxus.

“We're going to win,” he informed Xanxus, at which the Varia boss started laughing.

Tsuna frowned, wondering why.

“You wanna know why you won't?” Xanxus jeered. He pointed at his earpiece. “Three of your Guardians are out, trash, so now you're outnumbered.” Xanxus neglected to mention that his second-in-command was out, but the trash didn't need to know that.

Tsuna didn't reply, and sped towards Xanxus again, where they clashed violently.