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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.


Chapter Text

Yamamoto sped towards Tsuna, concerned that he hadn't seen the others. He had been sure that Ryohei would've shouted, and Gokudera would have snapped something, and Lambo would have complained. But all he could hear was the explosions, and Varia-

-A low groan, one so familiar. Yamamoto halted, turning, hand on hilt. He knew that voice, and he knew that laugh.

“The prince is going to kill you now,” Belphegor had been saying, and Yamamoto, half-panicking, rushed towards the noise.

The sight he was greeted with was of Gokudera on the ground, covered in blood, with the blonde standing over him, knives out. Gokudera seemed to glare at Yamamoto for a moment, then looked away. Yamamoto understood; Gokudera thought he had let down Tsuna again. No matter how many times he was told, he always overreacted.

“Gokudera, need help?” Yamamoto asked, drawing the fake sword. He eyed the gun that lay just out of reach of Gokudera's outstretched hand, seeking a chance to get it back to the Storm Guardian.

“Baseball idiot,” Gokudera snarled back, the effort of it making him clutch at his side.

Belphegor seemed to be looking straight at Yamamoto. “So you defeated Squalo?” Then he grinned. “The peasant. And he calls himself Varia Quality.”

Yamamoto smiled back, face devoid of emotion. “I did beat him again. And now I'll beat you.”

Belphegor laughed, eager to fight Yamamoto. But then Yamamoto's earpiece crackled to life, and Chrome's voice said, “Yamamoto-san, boss says to go and press Varia's buzzer.”

Yamamoto paused. “I should save Gokudera first. He's badly injured.”

To her credit, Chrome didn't panic. “Get him out of there, then go press the buzzer. It might be better to end the game quickly, though.”

“...I'll save him,” Yamamoto decided, seeing as the crazy prince was ready to turn them into pincushions.

Lussuria was the first to reach Xanxus and Tsuna, who were battling fiercely. As the fight lulled, Tsuna said, “Chrome, tell Yamamoto to get at Varia's buzzer.”

“Yes, boss,” Chrome said, then turned away slightly to give orders on the earpiece. Xanxus flicked a hand at Lussuria, who understood and got into contact with Levi.

“Levi-chan,” Lussuria sang out, “the boss says to defend our buzzer.”

“If that's what the boss wants,” Levi agreed.

Tsuna and Xanxus eyed each other, the tension between them spiking. Lussuria and Chrome flinched, reminded of the Sky Ring Battle. Then Tsuna said, “You lost against me once. Why do you think you can win again?”

Xanxus fell completely still, and then his scars spread across his face as he screamed, “You fucking trash, I'll kill you.”

Tsuna turned and fled, propelling himself over top of the trees. Chrome wondered how she was going to disguise this.

“Leave me, baseball, idiot,” Gokudera snapped, wiping blood out of his eyes. “It looks worse than it is.”

Yamamoto stared at Gokudera, thinking, then lunged forwards towards the prince. Yazaru no Ame, Last Minute Rain, Yamamoto thought, then kicked his sword where Gokudera's gun lay. Through a series of miracles, Gokudera managed to catch it, swinging it around and pointing it at Bel.

“Fuck you,” Gokudera snarled.

“You're already out,” Bel said pointedly.

“And you cut me,” Gokudera hissed, and Yamamoto thought Gokudera was understating his injuries.

“You wanted it.”

“Knife bastard,” Gokudera spat, then flicked a contemptuous glance at Yamamoto. “Leave, baseball freak. Don't disappoint Juudaime.”

Yamamoto hesitated again, looking anxious, then nodded. Gokudera would be able to relax more if Tsuna was victorious. Yamamoto cast him one last look, then turned and headed to the buzzer.


Lussuria was smiling at Chrome. “You cute little cupcake,” he cooed, and Chrome gaped at him. They were in the middle of a survival game, and he was admiring how 'cute' she was? Varia really were crazy, she reflected, then turned her attention back to the illusions.

Tsuna and Xanxus were tiring, the flashes of light above the arena only thinly disguised by the Mist Flames. Chrome herself was struggling to keep up; the Sky Flames kept ripping holes in the image she had overlay-ed on reality. She had patched them up instantly, but if Toy Gun Gun had even a sliver of talent they would see through it.

One glance at them told her that they hadn't noticed anything – or if they had, they were letting on. Tachibana was wide-eyed at the display, each member studying the battle unfolding. Chrome's Flames snaked outwards, and she did her best to make it look as though Gokudera wasn't seriously in need of the emergency room.

“Boss,” she said as her Flames flickered. “I don't know how long...”

Tsuna spared her a glance, then smiled grimly. Both he and Xanxus were also tiring (although Xanxus was running on that endless fury of his), and would probably be reduced to a mindless brawl soon.

How long had they been playing? A few minutes, Tsuna thought, unaware that in reality it had been roughly half an hour.


Yamamoto paced himself, wary of what opponent he would face. He loosened his body, keeping himself alert – who was left?

“Sempai,” he said over the com, “Who's out now?”

“No one new,” Ryohei said, voice blaring his ears. Yamamoto switched off the earpiece in preparation for the fight that lay ahead. When he burst into the clearing, he was greeted by the sight of Levi, with his rifle pointed straight at him.

“Die for the boss,” Levi announced, before firing.


Chapter Text

It took everything Yamamoto had to remember the gun was fake. He managed to duck, and by some miracle was not out; Yamamoto thanked his lucky stars because he did not need Gokudera holding a grudge for all eternity.

He was panting, back pressed against the tree, mind racing furiously as he tried to solve this conundrum. Levi stopped firing, then silence reigned.

Damn, damn, damn. He hadn't fought this guy, had no idea what he was actually like, and he didn't think the Lightning Ring Battle was a very good basis for anything. But this guy – Levi, or whatever – was Varia, and that meant killer skills. No pun intended.

How to win? Yamamoto had his sword drawn, praying Levi charged in unprepared. That wasn't to happen.

The buzzer went off.

Chrome, weakened by the extensive use of Mist Flames, eyed Lussuria. Luss blew a kiss, then said,” How do you keep your skin so clear?”

Chrome frowned, not really understanding, her mind fogging over with fatigue.

“Ah well,” Luss shrugged, before he approached. Chrome tense, gripping her trident, mustering up the remainder of her strength.

Luss evaded her neatly, and Chrome jerked around, Flames snaking out and coiling around Luss, trying to trap him in. Luss only batted them away – it shouldn't be possible, but it happened – and skipped over the buzzer, whistling.

No, Chrome tried to shout, lunging forwards and forming tentacles around his ankles. Again, he danced out of the way, tutting at her. She couldn't think of anything, couldn't-

Lussuria, striking a pose, slammed his hand on the buzzer.

Gokudera heard the buzzer, saw the flag flash upwards. That was it. The game was over. He glanced at Belphegor, who was leaning over him with a smirk, boot on Gokudera's hand.

His limbs felt so heavy, and even twitching his fingers proved difficult. But it was no time to complain; he shoved the strange sensation aside,

“Knife freak,” he snapped, “It's over. Get off.”

Belphegor shrugged and laughed. “Are you stupid? The prince doesn't stop for rules like that. They don't apply to me.”

Gokudera hissed through his teeth, wanting to slam his fist in Bel's face. He couldn't, though, knowing that any violent action would open his wounds. If he returned to Juudaime covered in even more blood - well, it was bad enough that he had already lost, but he couldn't. No, he couldn't face him like that.

"Apparently that was Lussuria," Bel mused, listening to his earpiece. "Not the boss. He was busy trying to kill the brat." He grinned again, still laughing.

"Well, he probably couldn't kill Juudaime," Gokudera said with utmost faith in his boss. Tsuna won once, so it was really no question that Tsuna was stronger. Juudaime was Juudaime.

But why hadn't Yamamoto pressed that goddamn buzzer? Had he been out? Gokudera wanted to slap him as well, for disappointing Juudaime.

"Shishi," Bel smirked, and Gokudera realised his anguish was showing on his face.

"Let me go," Gokudera demanded again, and this time Bel shrugged, leaning in closer.

"No," he spat, then brought the knife back down on him. Gokudera writhed out of the way, slamming the butt of his gun against Bel's shoulder. Bel ignored the pain, instead relishing the agony that spiked through his body.

"Ah," he gasped out. "Do you remember the battle for the Storm Ring?" His grin widened even further, and Gokudera shuddered, using this distraction to move away from Bel. "I loved that pain, and you brought it to me."

A confession of love, it sounded like, Gokudera noted, wondering how he was going to get out of this. Juudaime was waiting for him.

"Gokudera," the baseball idiot yelled out, and Gokudera cursed. Of all the-

Yamamoto reached the spot they were in, eyes narrowed. “Belphegor,” Yamamoto said curtly, “The game's over.”

Bel shrugged, leaning down and tracing the blade along Gokudera's cheekbone.

"What are you gonna do about it?" Bel challenged, and Yamamoto blinked. Bel was openly challenging them, and Gokudera wondered, not for the first time, if Bel was gay.

Probably. His mind wandered, eyes glazing over. Why couldn't he move, he asked himself sluggishly, head getting even heavier. He tried to haul himself up off the ground, but slumped back down, only partially aware of Yamamoto's concerned voice and Bel's rising cackles. Help, he tried to say, Juudaime, I'm sorry, but all that came out was a low groan.

He cursed everyone, damning them all, and trying to convey his regret to Juudaime. I'm sorry, Juudaime, he tried to beg, as he became vaguely aware of a fight happening above him. He had been negligent, and now he was paying the price.

Damn you, knife bastard, Gokudera cursed. Bel had figured out how to toy with him; he was drugged. Finally, as he felt his body slipping away, he knew that he had let down Juudaime yet again. If he died, then it would only be penance.


Chapter Text

Gokudera woke in a room. Well, obviously, he snarked to himself, trying to rise onto his elbows. Gokudera squinted, trying to see, but some bastard didn't turn the lights on.

"Dammit," he cursed, then cursed harder in Italian as he realised that yet again he had failed Juudaime.

Footsteps, and then door slid open, light streaming in. "Gokudera-kun, thank goodness you're awake," Tsuna said relieved. Gokudera jolted upright, body stiff and mouth dry, before he jumped out of bed, ignoring his cries, and prostrated himself in front of Tsuna.

"I'm so sorry, Juudaime," Gokduera said, voice full of angry regret. "I really am. I have failed as your right hand man."

"Gokudera-kun, get back in bed," Tsuna argued, crouching down next to him. "And you haven't - it was my fault you're injured-"

"You're too kind," Gokudera said humbly, squeezing his eyes shut. "I'm sorry; I must repay you."

"Th-then..." Tsuna sighed. "Just say thanks to Yamamoto, then. You'll be forgiven."

"That's it?" Gokudera jerked upwards, gazing in awe at his boss. "Ju-Juudaime..."

"Gokudera, good to see you awake," Yamamoto said from the door, grinning.

"Of course, baseball idiot," Gokudera snapped on reflex, then bit his lip, glancing at Tsuna. "But...thanks." He said sullenly, but was also trying to sound genuine. Tsuna appreciated that.

"Get back in bed," Tsuna ordered. When Gokudera obeyed, Tsuna sighed again, rubbing at his eyes. "Belphegor took it so seriously, huh.”

"Damn knife freak," Gokudera said bitterly once he had settled in the bed. "Why the hell do they let him loose?"

"Ah, Gokudera-kun," Hotaru said from the doorway, the rest of Toy Gun Gun hanging back. "It's good to see you awake."

"Tachibana," Gokudera said, surprised. He glanced at Tsuna questioningly, who shook his head in denial. No, they didn't know about the mafia.

"Tachibana is surprised that team Varia took the game so seriously," Hotaru stated.

"Well, that's what they're like," Gokudera said drily.

"Maa, maa, Gokudera, they're not all that bad."

"Don't bring your man-crush into this, baseball idiot."

"People don't normally get as injured as you in a survival game," Masamune put in glancing at the rest. "Sorry if you have a bad experience?"

"There are other crazy people out there," Haruki said darkly, probably thinking of his worst nightmare (little do Vongola know, his younger twin is the crazy one).

"Yeah," Yukimura said, somewhat dreamily.

"Masochist," Haruki muttered.

"Get well soon," Hotaru said, bowing as Toy Gun Gun left, deciding tacitly to leave him in relative peace.

“The fuck were you thinking?” Squalo snapped at Belphegor. The prince only shrugged, grinning.

“Voi! You're not supposed to actually stab your opponent, you stupid-”

“The prince wanted the peasant dead,” Belphegor cut in, grin widening. “Admit it, you all want them dead too.”

Squalo smacked his forehead with his palm. “I give up. I'm moving to Hawaii.”

“Squ-chan, you're being too hard on Bel,” Lussuria said. “You yelled about how you wanted to kill Yamamoto.”

“I didn't mean it. Beaches, and cocktails.” Squalo turned away from everyone. “I could practice the sword on the sand, with no interruptions.”

“Shishishi, you should've been there, Mammon,” Bel said to the illusionist.

“Muu, I wasn't paid,” Mammon said dismissively.

“Boss isn't happy he didn't get to kill the brat,” Levi sulked.

“Boss is never happy,” Luss pointed out.

"Don't badmouth the boss like that," Levi said indignantly.

Lussuria just sighed, putting a hand on his cheek, and said, "Oh, darling, you have it bad."

"Of course I do. I wouldn't be me otherwise."

"VOI! You shouldn't just accept that, you retard."

Levi huffed. "I knew that from the moment I saw that dynamite kid and thought, 'damn, he's got it bad' and I looked at Xanxus and thought, 'he's the best', and then I sort of realised we were the same." Levi shrugged. "I'm okay with it, though."

Squalo face-palmed, resisting the urge to pull out his hair. Why the fuck did he have to deal with these crazy bastards?

"Gokudera-kun," Tsuna again reprimanded. "You shouldn't be getting out of bed. I told you this before."

"A good mafia boss looks after his subordinates," Reborn said, obviously approving of Tsuna's actions.

"I'm not a mafia boss," Tsuna denied.

"After everything you've been through?"

"I don't want to be a mafia boss," Tsuna repeated adamantly. "Reborn, you can't-" He cut himself off. "Actually, I think you could make me, huh."

"Of course. I am the number one hitman in the world."

"Juudaime, I'm sorry for causing trouble," Gokudera said yet again, and Tsuna wanted to shake him violently. He would've, if Gokduera hadn't been so injured.

"It's not your fault," Tsuna said tiredly. He never wanted to enter a survival game again.


Chapter Text

While Gokudera wallowed in self-pity, Squalo planned on stabbing Belphegor. Repeatedly. With a tooth pick.

“Voi, you little shit,” Squalo grumbled at him for the hundredth time, “what were you planning?”

Bel only laughed, hands behind his head. Squalo hissed through his teeth.

Xanxus flicked an eye open, for the first time since Squalo's lecturing began. Bel instantly straightened, hands loose at his side.


“Boss?” Belphegor was still grinning, but it had become more strained.

“...If you do that again, I'll rip out your intestines and turn them into a crown for your grave. Got it?”

“...Yes, boss,” Belphegor readily agreed, understanding that Xanxus was not messing around. Why he was taking this so seriously was beyond the prince, but then again – no one could understand Xanxus.

“Tachibana thought that game was impressive,” Hotaru told Tsuna. Tsuna nodded, swallowing his mouthful of noodles. He wondered what exactly they had seen.

“Is your friend all right?” Masamune asked, and Yamamoto grinned.

“He'll be as a storm in no time,” Yamamoto promised, and Tsuna rolled his eyes at his saying. An inside joke – one Tsuna didn't appreciate.

“Isn't the saying 'right as rain'?” Tachibana asked aloud.

“Yeah, usually,” Masamune replied.

“So...where's your other teammates? Ours are resting...” Tsuna said awkwardly, ducking his head in the steam from his food.

“Yukimura has a deadline to meet, and his editor is harrassing him, and Horuki is...spending time in a gun shop, or something.”

“...oh,” Tsuna said, “that, makes sense? What does Yukimura-san do?”

“He's a manga artist,” Hotaru supplied, and Masamune flinched.

“What genre?” Tsuna asked curiously, and Masamune jumped forwards.

“Nothing you need to know,” he said hastily, and Hotaru ignored Masamune, saying, “hentai. He's a perv.”

Tsuna blinked, shocked.

“Tsuna?” Yamamoto asked, concerned. He placed a hand on Tsuna's forehead. “Uh, are you okay?” He shook him gently, then held up a cup of water. “Need a drink or something?”

Tsuna stared blankly at Yamamoto. “Huh...”

“Tsuna, it's okay, it's...fiction? And it doesn't concern you, so...”

Masamune sent the message with his eyes at Tachibana: Why did you tell the cinnamon roll that?!

Hotaru shrugged slightly. Tachibana's sense of justice meant Tachibana had to.

Masamune face-palmed. “Yamamoto-kun's right,” he told Tsuna fondly. “It's all fake.” Damn, this kid was pure. It just about blinded him.

“R-Right,” Tsuna recovered and accepted the water Yamamoto offered. “F-fiction.”

“So how did you meet Varia?” Masamune asked as Tsuna regained his colour, trying to change the subject. Tsuna choked on the water, paling again.

You hurt the cinnamon roll, Tachibana accused with her eyes.

I didn't mean to, Masamune cried, face-palming again. “You don't have to talk about it,” Masamune added hastily.

“Squalo's my teacher,” Yamamoto said helpfully. “But before all that they tried to kill us, and Xanxus's still not over their loss.”

Masamune blinked in surprise. “Um, but how did you meet?”

Tachibana looked disturbed. “That doesn't agree with my sense of justice...”

“Well, you know how that time when Squalo challenged us, he was standing on a roof and shouting threats?”


“Well, that was how we met Squalo. We had our arses kicked.”

Tachibana and Masamune exchanged looks.

“And the rest of them we met when Levi tried to attack Lambo,” Yamamoto continued cheerfully. “They're extreme, to use senpai's words, but still fun to be around.”

“...Huh. But did they seriously try to kill you?”

“No, I don't think so. They just take this mafia game too seriously.”

“...Mafia game?” Masamune looked interested. “Pardon me, but aren't you a bit old for that?”

Yamamoto shrugged. “Gokudera started it.”

“What do you do in the game?” Tachibana asked curiously.

“We follow Tsuna, who's our Decimo.”

Tsuna seemed to wake up, crying out, “I don't want to be mafia boss!”

And that was when the wall they were next to exploded.

Gokudera scowled at Ryohei. “Turf head, I'm trying to recover. Your screaming isn't helping.”

Ryohei yelled, “Drink your protein shake!” He held out the cup, which Gokudera reluctantly took. He sniffed it, then wrinkled his nose. “Ugh, smells disgusting.”

“It's extremely healthy.”

“...I'd rather not, thanks anyway.” He handed back the cup. Ryohei shrugged and drained it.

“Tsuna!” Yamamoto, in one fluid move, grabbed his baseball bat and swung. Tsuna ducked as Yamamoto sliced the bullets, his bat turning into a sword.

“What the-” Masamune started, gaping, as the firing intensified. Bullets? Were they real? They sounded it.

“Get down,” Yamamoto ordered, standing on top of the table. Masamune instinctively obeyed, Tachibana following him reluctantly.

“Mafia,” Yamamoto told Tsuna as he slipped on his mitts. “Don't worry, I'll handle this.”

Tsuna hesitated, then nodded. “Uh, sure.”

Yamamoto jumped off and disappeared into the smoke and dust, Masamune still gaping at everything. “What is happening?” Masamune muttered, surprised he hadn't screamed it.

Tachibana didn't say anything, only staring hard through the hole in the wall. Tsuna remained quiet, fiddling with a couple of pills.


Chapter Text

“Tsuna,” Yamamoto said, relaxing and turning to beam at him, “All d one.” He leaned his sword against his shoulder. “That was easy.”

Tsuna crawled out from under the table and sighed with relief. “Thanks, Yamamoto.”

“No problem.” Yamamoto surveyed the wreckage as Masamune and Tachibana followed hesitantly.

“What was that?” Both asked simultaneously, Masamune gesturing wildly.

“Ah,” Tsuna winced. “That's...mafia?”

“Dame-Tsuna, don't say any more,” Reborn cautioned, appearing out of nowhere. Tsuna blinked at Reborn.

“Why not?”

“Because that would mean letting civilians know,” Reborn said with a roll of his eyes. “Don't you know anything?”

Tsuna frowned. “I can choose to-”

“Vindice.” The one word sent a chill down Tsuna's spine. They were still going, still actively monitoring the mafia world. “Tell anyone, and Vindice will come after you.”

Whether or not they would was debateable after the beating Tsuna had given them, but he could go with that.

“Fine.” He shrugged. “Uh, what do you-”

“Hold up-”

And the Vongola cleaning section arrived just in time to whack Masamune over the head.

“I'm so sorry, Juudaime,” Gokudera gasped, bowing so fast Tsuna didn't see him move. “I wasn't there to protect you.”

“It's fine, Gokudera,” Tsuna said, waving a hand. “It's fine, really.”

“No, no I must-”

“Gokudera. It's not your fault.”

Gokudera shut his mouth with a click, then glanced at Yamamoto and mumbled something.

“What was that?” Yamamoto was grinning.

“...Thanks, baseball idiot,” Gokudera managed to spit out, glaring at him.

“No problem.” Yamamoto wasn't bothered by the venom in his voice.

“So Masamune and Tachibana's memories have been wiped?” Tsuna asked Reborn.

“Yes. They won't remember anything.”

“Oh...that's good?”

Forgetting didn't mean they were safe; the mafia family that had attacked Tsuna went after them, and Tsuan received word through Reborn that they had been kidnapped.

“Reborn! I thought they were safe-”

“Dame-Tsuna, you can't honestly think I did that? I lured the enemy into kidnapping them, so you could defeat them. As Neo Vongola Primo-”

“You put them in danger,” Tsuna exclaimed, outraged. “They're civilians, they have no place in this-”

“They're all talented. Teach them Flames and they'll be valuable-”

“No, Reborn,” he practically shouted. “I won't let this happen. I'll save them, and then they'll be normal.

Reborn sighed at the naivete. It was likely they were being tortured, or worse, and no amount of Flames could undo that psychological damage. “Be quick about it, then,” Reborn warned.

As it happened, they didn't need saving, just a little help. Tachibana had awakened her Flames, Lightning lashing out against the attackers as soon as they pulled out pliers. The gangsters, Yakuza or whatever, were blinded by the electricity, and Tachibana broke the ropes around her wrists.

“Boy-” one spat, and Tachibana glared.

“Tachibana is a girl,” she said loftily, before delivering justice on the poor sod.

Masamune stared wide-eyed at the green flames that flickered all around her. “Holy shit. That's like-”

“Tachibana has no idea what this is, but she will go with it.” She shrugged. “Just go with it.”

Masamune struggled to scrap his jaw off the ground, and when the door caved in, he practically melted. The so-called cinnamon roll, Tsuna, was standing in the doorway, fists raised, an orange flame blazing on his forehead.

Masamune held back a whimper. His cinnamon roll – aw, fuck, he couldn't get that thought out – was actually a badass?

“Are you hurt?” He asked both of them, eyes flickering at the flames around Tachibana.

“No,” Tachibana answered. “Tachibana got them before they did.”

Tsuna frowned at the pliers on the floor. “Masamune-san, can you stand?” He walked over and un-did the ropes, then offered a hand up. Masamune accepted, awestruck and disbelieving.


Tsuna turned at the door. “Yes?”

“What's...happening?” Masamune swallowed thickly, Tachibana also turning to study Tsuna.

Tsuna only smiled. “I'll explain later. I promise.” Masamune wondered why that smile seemed so sad.

Yukimura was biting his nails and rocking back and forth.

“They'll be extremely all right,” Ryohei said confidently as Lambo ate candy.

Yukimura glanced at him. “How would you know?”

Haruki was slumped over, pale, looking as though he would vomit. But even he raised his head to look at Ryohei.

Ryohei looked uncomfortable. “Because they're super strong.”

“But Yamamoto and Tsuna are just boys,” Yukimura protested. “And Chrome...She looks so-”

Ryohei shrugged and grinned. “Chrome is actually pretty scary. She's extreme.”

And none of this helped. If anything, it made things worse.


Chapter Text

“So, let me get this straight, you're mafia, and there are these flames or whatever, and okay, my head hurts now.”

Tsuna fidgeted. “Um, Masamune-san, I'm sorry we didn't tell you.” Masamune held up a finger. “No, it's okay, Tsuna, I just-”

“Tachibana's sense of justice is rioting,” she said flatly.

“I can't fit this in to my manga,” Yukimura sighed.

“What.” Haruki held out his hands. “What.”

“It'll all work out,” Yamamoto said, but at who this was directed at was unknown. Oh god, he was what, fifteen, sixteen? Masamune felt sick as he thought of them killing people. Tsuna was too innocent for this, way too innocent.

“Masamune-san,” Tsuna said quietly, “I'm sorry, but I don't think we can see each other any more.” And Tsuna stood to leave.

Masamune jolted upright, loudly protesting with, “No, Tsuna, I don't care, you're still you.”

“Is this a romance now?” Haruki muttered to Yukimura.

“Tachibana has to ask whether or not you do harm,” she announced to the room. Ryohei nodded.

“I extremely want to know, too.”

“Idiot,” Gokudera snapped for the first time. “You're part of the mafia, you should know.” He winced as the force of his voice hurt his injuries.

“Is Varia also mafia?” Masamune asked, stunned. The thought hit him on the head like a bowling ball.

“I try not to hurt people,” Tsuna said diffidently. “I mean, the original intention for Vongola was to be a vigilante group, and while we strayed from that, I'm trying to reform the mafia.”

“While still refusing the role of Decimo,” Reborn noted, taking a sip of his coffee.

Masamune could see sparkles around Tsuna already, and clutched his heart.

“Masamune-san?” Tachibana said, alarmed.

“Mattsun, Yukimura said almost at the same time, grabbing him.

“No, I'm fine.” he said, straightening and pretending as though Cupid had decided to shoot him full of arrows with a machine gun while running him down with a tank and throwing him in a minefield for the hell of it.

Tsuna eyed Masamne. “...The Varia are mafia, but don't get me wrong, they tried to kill us.”

“...You were serious about that?” Masamune felt sick again, struggling to hide it.

Gokudera was still lecturing Ryohei, who pretended to know what he was talking about. (It was clear the boxer was pretending, and honestly, Masamune felt like doing the same. Just roll with it, that was it.)

“Yeah, unfortunately,” Tsuna sighed, shuffling his feet. Masamune wanted to adopt Tsuna and move to Russia, avoiding all of this shit.

But at the same time, Tsuna had looked really cool. Even if he didn't really know what was happening.

...Shit, he was so confused.

“Well, you four,” Reborn spoke up, and Toy Gun Gun was beginning to dread anything the baby had to say. “How about a Vongola Style training trip?”

“Reborn! What for?”

“To learn how to use their Flames.” Reborn, for once, offered an explanation to his student. Tsuna, it seemed, objected violently.

“They're not joining Vongola, they're not mafia-”

“They still have a target on their backs,” Reborn pointed out. “They need to defend themselves mafia-style. And Vongola, being the strongest, is the best way to go.”

Toy Gun Gun didn't want to die, so they agreed. (If they didn't, Reborn might kill them, and/or the mafia world catches up to them.)

“Don't worry,” Masamune said, placing a hand on Tsuna's shoulder. “We'll be fine.”

“So now it's a family comedy,” Haruki said, practically announcing it to the room.

“What was it before?” Tachibana asked, having missed Haruki's previous comments.

“A romance,” Haruki said seriously.

Tachibana wrinkled her nose. “Doesn't Masamune-san like women?”

Haruki shrugged. “Who even knows.”

“Is no one going to mention the fact Tsuna is fifteen?” Yukimura asked.


Chapter Text

They were all lined up at the bus stop, Tsuna biting on his nails. “This is going to end badly,” he moaned.

“Why bother coming?” Haruki asked pointedly with a roll of his eyes.

“To make sure no one kills each other.” Already Gokudera was hurling abuse at Yamamoto and Ryohei, holding up Lambo by the scruff of his neck. Tsuna wondered if he should intervene, but decided against it.

“See?” Tsuna said, imitating Haruki's tone. “Thank god Chrome is sensible...” Tsuna trailed off, confused. “Wait, where's Chrome?”

“She's not coming. Something about Kokuyo,” Gokudera offered, sliding up next to Tsuna. His tirade was on pause.

“Hm. Well then, one less person to cause trouble,” Tsuna decided. “At least Hibari-san and Mukuro aren't here.”

“Tachibana can't wait to learn about the Flames.” Her eyes were sparkling as she chattered on easily at Masamune.

Once they had piled onto the bus and were under way, driven by Gionini, Reborn stood at the front and announced, “This Vongola-Style learning experience is underway.”

“Oh no,” Tsuna moaned.

“Have you been on something like this before, Tsuna-kun?” Masamune peered over the back of his seat at Tsuna.

“Sort of,” Tsuna said reluctantly. “But if anything's declared Vongola-style, it's usually hell.”

“Don't worry, Juudaime,” Gokudera said reassuringly from beside Tsuna. “I'm sure it'll be fine.”

Tsuna leaned his head against the window with a thunk. “You'd think so.”


“This is gonna be a disaster,” Tsuna muttered.

And for the most part, Tsuna was correct. They rampaged across Japan, causing havoc and doing little to no actual learning. By the time they were back to where they started, Toy Gun Gun had made no progress on their Flames and were exhausted.

“Is it always like this with you?” Masamune asked Tsuna, panting slightly.

“Yeah,” Tsuna said, ignoring the scuffle behind him between Haruki and Gokudera. “Uh, let's pretend that's not happening.”

Tachibana was chatting away to Yamamoto. Tsuna wondered at the bizarreness of seeing Toy Gun Gun mix with Vongola so effortlessly. It was curious, and entertaining. But also the combination made Tsuna dread the results.

An explosion rattled Tsuna, and he and Masamune turned to look at the source. Gokudera had his dynamite out, hissing curses at Haruki.

“Gokudera-kun,” Tsuna shrieked, voice a higher pitch than he would've liked.

“Don't insult Juudaime-” Gokudera was lunging forwards, Yamamoto reaching to grab him. Tsuna was ready to swallow his pills-

Both actions were too late, as the dynamite exploded in front of Haruki's chest. Haruki twisted out of the way fruitlessly; he still caught the full brunt of the blast and was pushed back violently.

“Calm down,” Tsuna begged at Gokudera, rushing to join and to try and save him. He was already telling Ryohei to help, Masamune noted absently, seeing the outrage in Tachibana and Yukimura.

The world was going black and white, Masamune's vision simplifying the objects around him. A calmness filled him, then turned to resolve.

As the boxer yelled about extreme, Masamune felt the world click.

Sun Flames erupted from his hands, Masamune instinctively knowing to place the Flames on Haruki. He felt a tug, and his limbs became heavy. Already the Flames were dying, but it wasn't enough, but he wanted to stop, when will it end-

He couldn't stop, he had a life to save. That was his final thought as he collapsed, losing consciousness.

When Masamune woke, he felt heavy. Stirring, he opened his eyes.

“You're awake!” Tsuna's voice was anxious.

Masamune tried to speak, only grunts being released.

“Don't try to talk,” he said, handing him a cup of water. “You over-extended your Flames.”

Masamune frowned.

“Uh, like using up your life?”

Masamune blinked, then remembered about Haruki. He tried to sit up, frantic.

“He's fine,” Tsuna said reassuringly, placing a hand on his shoulder. “Ryohei healed him. He's got a bit of scarring but nothing too bad.”

Masamune mouthed oh and nodded in acknowledgement. He made fluttery movements with his hand on his forehead, pointed to himself, then looked at Tsuna expectantly.

Seeming to understand, he said, “Well, you already Flames are like your soul, right? So when you...unleashed them, it was too much too fast. It all rushed out of you, and if you hadn't passed out, you'd probably be dead.”

Masamune blinked at Tsuna, shocked. Tsuna smiled sheepishly. "That's why Reborn came along. He's the expert. I only know all of this because of him."

Masamune nodded in understanding, reaching out to pat his hand.

Tsuna's smile turned vaguely uncomfortable, so Masamune stopped.

"Juudaime-" Gokudera slammed open the door, then saw he was awake. "...Oh."

Tsuna looked at Gokudera. "Gokudera-kun? What is it?"

Gokudera flicked a look at Masamune. "Yukimura's Flames have come, as well."

"Not another-?"

"No, no," Gokudera said hastily. "Not another...event."

Both Tsuna and Masamune relaxed.

"What's his Flame type?"

"Cloud," Gokudera answered. Footsteps came down the hall, Masamune perking up as he heard them.

"You're supposed to be sleeping," Gokudera snapped at the newcomer.

"Mattsun," the visitor said, ignoring Gokudera. He stuck his head through the doorway. "Look." He held up a hand flickering with purple light. It soon faded away, everyone staring at his hand.

"Aw," Yukimura sighed, disappointed. "But you saw, right?"

Masamne nodded, then frowned. How had he known he was awake?

"I heard voices," Yukimura explained. "Gokudera-kun is very loud."

Gokudera clicked his tongue at him. "I'm not loud," he said.

Masamune thought differently. The boy was loud, and he was usually yelling abuse, as well. He didn't understand why someone like Gokudera would be with someone as innocent as Tsuna.

"Let's take this outside," Tsuna said, raising a hand. "We should give Masamune-san some space."

"If you say so, Juudaime," Gokudera said, perking up. He stepped aside so Tsuna could walk past him.

"And Masamune-san," Tsuna said, looking back at him, "don't worry, okay? Vongola will protect you."

Tension Masamune didn't even know he held eased from his body. Masamune nodded again at Tsuna, smiling.

"Mattsun," Yukimura said once they had left. "Are you planning on working with the mafia?"

Masamune stopped and looked at him blankly. He slowly shook his head.

Yukimura looked suspicious. "If you do, I'll go with you."

Masamune sighed. I know, he mouthed, wondering how embroiled in mafia affairs they would end up.