Bread and Ashes
Lussuria is making frittelle. Squalo blinks once, then again in the vain hope that this might be some retarded figment of his imagination, or some kind of slow-acting drug courtesy of the scientist fucker he'd offed this afternoon, but the kitchen remains a scene of chaos and debauchery. Every flat surface, from the floor to the pans piled in the butler's sink, is liberally dusted with flour and sugar. Lussuria, got up in a frilly pink apron like the world's creepiest domestic goddess, is standing guard over the hissing pan of oil, waving a singed-looking wooden spoon at the froggy brat who's trying to sneak a treat from the plate of sugar-coated sweets, and some fucking moron has let Bel loose on the apples.
Squalo feels his eye begin to twitch as a knife whirs past him to thunk into the door frame, trailing juice from the apple ring caught around its hilt.
"Shishishi... oops?" Bel offers, grinning like his fucking weasel, when Squalo swivels to glare at him.
"Fucking learn to aim!" Squalo spits at him, mostly out of habit, because the nagging feeling of having forgotten something that's been pissing him off all day has come to a horrifying head. Martedi Grasso, it's fucking undeniable. Shit. "Voi, piss the boss off with this shit and I'll gut the lot of you!" he threatens darkly, and slams out of the door.
(Bel is just taking aim at the protruding ends of Levi's moustache when Squalo kicks the kitchen door back open, yanks the nearly-full plate of frittelle from under Lussuria's nose, and stomps back out in a grumpy whirl of hair and sugar. Shortly thereafter the pan of oil takes fire; there is some debate over whether to put it out or let it burn, with Bel in favour of making flour bombs while Levi bitches about disturbing the boss, and they're still arguing over whether Fran's vote counts when the fire alarms start going off. Thirty seconds later Xanxus storms in and kicks the flaming pan through the window into the formal gardens, where it sets light to the hedge maze.)
"Voooii, you fucking brats!" Squalo slams his fist into Bel's door, then leans back and applies his boot to it until the latch gives under the onslaught. "Get the fuck up already!" He doesn't really remember much of last night, but he has a hangover he can feel in his teeth and fuck if he isn't going to spread it around.
"Hah? Battle Commander?" Fran appears at his own door, blinking lazily at him from beneath a nightcap that's even dumber than his shitty frog hat, if that's possible. Squalo growls under his breath and hammers on Lussuria's door (no way is he actually going in there – once, and never again) until noises from the other side indicate that someone is awake and possibly responding.
"Oi, you lazy ass!" he yells, adding a kick for good measure. "Get the fuck out here, we're doing this!"
"Is there a mission?" Fran asks disinterestedly, poking at the splintered remains of Bel's door and shifting neatly to one side moments before a volley of knives embed themselves in the panelling behind him. "The suit doesn't suit you, you know."
"Shut it and go get Bel up!" Squalo applies more effort than is strictly necessary to kicking Levi's door in, purely for the satisfaction of pissing him off. "We're going to fucking Mass if I have to fucking drag the lot of you there myself, got it?!"
"Ehhh, Mass?" Lussuria sidles out into the corridor, pink fluffy dressing gown clutched firmly around himself. "Squalooo, is it that time already?"
"I don't want to go in there. You can't make me go in there." Fran sidles away from the broken-in door as another knife embeds itself in the antique wood panelling with a solid thunk. "Sempaaaaai, stop throwing knives please...!"
"Hey! Hey!" Levi charges out into the corridor in only his pants, slamming his door back on its hinges so hard that there's an audible crack as the metal shatters. "Whose dumb idea is this?!"
Squalo can feel his left eyebrow start to twitch. "Vooooiii, you fucking shitty lot, get your asses in gear!" His voice cuts through the clamour by dint of sheer volume. "Anyone who's not down in the lobby in twenty fucking minutes dressed for church, I'll gut him myself!" And he stomps back out, only a little more hastily than his dignity calls for.
Twenty minutes later, Squalo's eyebrow twitch has blossomed into a full-blown facial tic and the other major obstacle of the day has presented itself: the boss. Xanxus, staring flat-eyed at him from the chair where he's lounging, brandy glass in hand and the remains of a breakfast steak on the table before him, obviously and eloquently doesn't give a fuck that it's Ash Wednesday. Tradition, however, is tradition.
"Boss, we're leaving for Mass in half an hour," Squalo says baldly; best to get the facts out and let him think he's making up his own mind. Not that he thinks he has a hope in hell of actually dragging Xanxus anywhere against his will, but piss him off and he'll make this ten times more fucking annoying. "You coming or what?"
Xanxus eyes him for a long moment, toying with the glass. "Fucking confession again? Go yourself if you're low enough to grovel for some shitty priest."
"Boss." Squalo hangs onto his temper and reminds himself that this is his best suit. "It's customary for the Family to make an appearance..."
"Ha!"Xanxus snorts, slouching down into his chair and smacking the glass onto the table hard enough that it cracks. "You giving the orders around here now, trash?"
"Vooiii, do what the hell you like!" Screw this; Squalo bares his teeth, aims a kick at the leg of the table. "Get yourself excommunicated if you want!" Whipping around before Xanxus can reply to that, he slams out of the door moments before the glass smashes loudly against it. To hell with the boss; he has enough on his hands herding the rest of these bastards.
"Hey, you shitty lot!" Squalo's mood sours further as he storms into the lobby to find it empty save for Lussuria, lounged against the banister and examining his nails. "Where the fuck is everyone?!"
"Is Squ-Squ having a bad day?"Lussuria coos, beaming sickeningly at him. Squalo growls and wishes not for the first time (and no doubt not the last today) that his sword would fit under his suit jacket. He has a gun, because unlike certain useless katana brats he's got fucking standards, but it's not the same. "Fuck off. VOOOOIII, YOU BRATS, IF I HAVE TO COME UP THERE I'M GOING TO CUT YOUR FUCKING BALLS OFF!"
"Hmph!" Levi appears from the dining hall, tugging at his suit ostentatiously. "Don't lump me with those lazy assholes."
"The Prince doesn't have to go to Mass." Bel swans into view at the top of the staircase, suit jacket half-on over a shirt that has more ruffles and fewer buttons than a cheap whore with a Liberace fetish. He at least knows how to fucking wear it, Squalo thinks; Levi looks like a pig in a penguin suit in Armani, and a Seventies porn star in anything cheaper.
"Take this thing instead," Bel yawns, dragging the froggy brat after him down the stairs.
"Sempai, let me go. I don't want to go to church. Mammon never had to go to church."
"Shut the fuck up!"Squalo barks, because he's trying to remember whether the aspirin bottle is still in his coat pocket. At this rate he'll be hitting Xanxus' bottles by the end of the day – or they'll be hitting him. "We're going to fucking Mass, so deal with it! No backchat and no exceptions!"
"Booooriiiing," Bel chants, slouching against the banister and tossing a knife from hand to hand. Fran inches warily away from him, eyes on the whirling blade. Squalo glares at them both.
"Put it the hell away," he orders, and is almost disappointed when Bel obeys after a leisurely, measuring glance. He could just do with kicking someone's ass right now. "The rules from last year stand, and anyone breaks 'em gets a bullet and their ass kicked later, got it?"
"What are the rules? I don't know the rules," Fran whines, trying to straighten his suit jacket that Bel appears to have terminally rumpled. It's a fucking lost cause, Squalo thinks, with that damn thing on his head.
"Lose the hat," he orders, whirling and stomping to the door. "Last one in the van gets their fucking throat slit, so move."
"Ah, Squalo's in a mood again, how fun!" Lussuria trills above the general chorus of bitching that follows him out to the car. Maybe if he tells the priest he's going to kill the lot of them he can get absolved in advance and not have to bother with this shit next year.
"I want to sit in the front," Fran and Bel chorus in perfect, eerie unison; a small scuffle immediately breaks out that ends with the frog hat pinned to the doorpost by a volley of knives.
"The Prince gets to sit in the front," the victor announces, trotting smugly ahead, but he halts at the car, folding his arms.
"Sempaaaai, please don't just stand there," Fran complains, bouncing up onto his tiptoes to peer over Bel's shoulder. "Oh. It's the boss."
"Boss!" Levi charges in, shouldering the brats out of the way to take the seat behind Xanxus, who's slouched in the passenger seat looking a hair short of really fucking pissed off. Squalo stops in his tracks, rapidly re-evaluating the situation, and looks around for an expendable underling. None appear, so he elbows Lussuria.
"You're fuckin' driving."
"Ehh, me? If you want, love!" Lussuria swans around to the driver's side, and Squalo unceremoniously kicks Levi out of the way so he can slide in, fumbling in the seat pocket for his aspirin bottle so he can neck a couple while the brats bicker themselves into some sort of order.
"Everybody strapped in?" Lussuria carols, not waiting for an answer as he guns the engine alarmingly. "Then let's goo-oo!"
There's blissful fucking silence for all of fifteen seconds, probably because Xanxus' glower is so dark as to be physically audible. Squalo stares at the back of his head and rehearses the order of service in his mind. Last year had been legendary, mostly thanks to Bel and Luss, who between them had got two priests packed off back to the seminary and one to a very remote monastery. There'd been a shit-ton of paperwork after that, and of course his crappy boss hadn't lifted a finger. Squalo glares at his idiotic rat-tails, and reaches out without looking to smack Bel and Fran around the heads as they start up bickering again. Lussuria's driving is a goddamn menace, but he's marginally more likely to mow down some slow fuck who can't get out of the way than he is to send them all into a tree or off a cliff, so Squalo figures that's what money is for.
"Voi, listen the hell up," he announces. "It's Ash fucking Wednesday, so every shitty one of you is going to take your fucking communion and damn well confess. Anyone who makes trouble without permission will answer to me. No killing anyone, and no fucking violence in church. No fucking creeping on the the clergy either," he adds, directing a kick at the back of Lussuria's seat.
"But Squalooooo!" Lussuria eels around to pout at him, heedless of the sudden blaring of horns as they swerve into oncoming traffic. "Altar boys! Altar boys!"
"Shut up and drive!" Squalo yells, kicking his chair again as the brats shriek from the back row. "No fucking stealing the communion wine! No graffiti on the Bibles or any damn where else! No refusing to fucking well confess just because you're a shitty prince! Confession and Communion so we can get the fuck back to HQ and plan the damn Manila hit!"
"Shut the fuck up, sharkbait." Xanxus is still staring straight ahead, but suddenly there's a blunt gunbarrel against the bridge of Squalo's nose. "The rest of you trash too."
"Shut it yourself, fucking shitty boss," Squalo snarls, staring down the barrel until it lifts away. Xanxus isn't pissed off enough to shoot him yet, and they both know it.
"We're he~re!" Lussuria trills, skidding to a shuddering halt outside the cathedral in blatant disregard of the pedestrian-only zone. "Squalo, are you sure I can't have a little play with one or two of the altar boys? And maybe a nice young subdeacon?"
"Don't even fucking try it," Squalo warns, tossing back another couple of aspirin in preparation. Maybe if he's really damn lucky, the boss won't shoot at anyone this year. "Right, you fucking shower, out of the car and form up! We're doing this mafia style!"
As they straggle out of the car (Fran, being deemed too slow, gets kicked first by Bel and then by Levi) and up the steps in Xanxus' slouching wake, Squalo resolves for the fifth year running that next time Lent rolls around he's going to sign up for a damn mission. Any fucking mission, so long as it gets him as far away from this clusterfuck-in-the-making as physically possible. Hell, he'll even spend a week playing bodyguard for the shitty Sawada brat and all his little friends, if it means he never has to see another priest turn white and back away as Bel and Lussuria slink smirking toward the confessional.