Tsuna glanced out his window, momentarily transfixed by the silent falling snowflakes. This rare, snowy Christmas got everyone in the Christmas spirit. There was just a magic about this time of year, more so than usual, that even had their enemies behaving. No one was on a mission, there were only a few meetings—it was peaceful. Absolutely peaceful.
All throughout the Vongola mansion, even in everyone's office—Christmas was in full swing. There was also, surprisingly, not one person solely responsible, though Haru and Kyoko were the instigators. Not to say that they never decorated for Christmas, but never before had it been on this scale. Kyoko and Haru started their furious decorating once the snow started, claiming that they shouldn't waste such a rare occasion, since it had been so long since Namimori had a White Christmas. Yamamoto had been the first to join in, and before anyone realized it, they were all taking time to go buy decorations, put them up, and make treats led by Haru, Kyoko, and Chrome, though some involvement for that particular activity was rather limited.
Yamamoto was obviously the best out of all the guys, and once he read studied enough of the theory, Gokudera had proven to be a good cook. Even Tsuna, to his surprise, had been able to help. It wasn't the biggest job, but he was the best chocolate dipper out of everyone, and he was rather proud of that fact. He made a perfect layer of chocolate every time; not too much and not too little. Lambo and Ryohei though, were out of the question, and while Mukuro was a decent cook, he spent most of his time scaring anyone near him with illusions of chocolate covered wreath monsters. (No one really wanted to ask why—the current speculation was an odd sort of childhood trauma)
Tsuna rubbed the bridge of his nose at those memories. As pleased as he was that Mukuro was finally out of the Vendice prison (he had never seem Chrome happier) it certainly made many problems for him. Yet after the initial anger had died away, things had gotten better between Mukuro and the other Guardians. And surprisingly, this whole Christmas spirit everyone had gotten into greatly helped. Tsuna had even seen Gokudera talking civilly to Mukuro the other day. Were Tsuna not on his way to an important meeting he would have fainted from shock.
And Tsuna knew that part of the reason for this great upswing in Christmas spirit was that the whole deal with Byakuran was finally over. Even though it had ended a few months ago, Tsuna couldn't shake the small twinge of guilt he felt every time he thought about it. He knew his Family had forgiven him for what he had done, but it was proving hard to completely forgive himself. He had seen the anguished looks they all gave him when they saw him for the first time in a year, no longer dead. They looked so broken, so lost. It was like they could only truly carry on with their lives from that point on because Tsuna was back.
And so he saw this holiday as a chance to get closer to his Family. He wanted to try and make it up to them for having to go through all that grieving. Tsuna wanted to do everything in his power to make this the best Christmas they ever had, because now the whole Family would be together.
All in all—this was proving to be the most peaceful, glorious Christmas of their lives. Everyone had a smile on their face, everyone was relaxed.
So . . . why didn't he feel the same?
It had all started about a week ago, at dinner. They were enjoying being able to eat a sit-down meal together and talked about past Christmas traditions. Yamamoto was the first to speak and he talked about how when he was younger, his cousins would come to stay and they'd play baseball. When asked how his cousins were doing now, Yamamoto mentioned that one of them was now a professional baseball player. While everyone else smiled and mentioned that baseball was just in the Yamamoto genes, Tsuna noticed the slightly wistful gleam in his Rain Guardian's eyes.
A small pang of guilt had settled in Tsuna's stomach. Over the course of their time together, Tsuna had felt this many times, because he knew how much baseball meant to his friend and he felt bad that the mafia life had stolen it from him. But on each occasion, Yamamoto just smiled and said that as much as he loved baseball, his friends came first and he wouldn't have it any other way.
And so Tsuna shoved the thought out of his mind, yet it resurfaced barely a moment later once everyone else gave their stories. Haru would go visit her grandparents in Tokyo and see "The Nutcracker," Kyoko and Ryohei's families had a regulated series of family traditions they followed religiously, Gokudera quietly mentioned how he'd play Christmas carols on the piano, and many, many other stories.
With each new story the guilt burrowed deeper and deeper into Tsuna. He could see the hidden longing in everyone's eyes, how they smiled warmly at the memories they held dear to their heart. He got a few questions as to why he was so quiet, but he quickly dismissed it as being tired, and ignored their suggestions for him to go to bed early. He knew how rare a situation like this was and eventually everyone was satisfied. Tsuna was actually grateful Reborn wasn't around at the time because he knew the tutor would have seen right through him. Though he did catch Gokudera and Yamamoto giving him strange looks.
He barely slept a wink that night. All he could do was mull over the stories that were shared, realizing that his Family could never return to that because of what they were now. It hurt to know that he was the cause of it.
Now all Tsuna could think about was what his Family would be doing if they had never met him. It had come to the point where he was positive they would all be happier without him. The mafia life certainly wasn't pretty. They could be settled down with a real family, living comfortably in their homes without having to fear for their lives or get injured in battles. They wouldn't—
Knock. Knock. Knock.
"Come in." Tsuna looked away from the snowflakes, quickly straightened up and put a smile on his face. Gokudera strode through the door with a contagious grin, and Tsuna couldn't help but make his own smile more real. "Do you have news for me, Gokudera?"
"Yes, Tenth. We've gotten word that Reborn should be arriving any minute," his Storm Guardian began.
"Good." Reborn had been dealing with some last minute contacts with a Family overseas and Bianchi had left a while ago to pick him up. He would be the last to arrive of their Family before the Christmas celebrations began. Tsuna didn't know the exact details of what would happen, but he supposed that was the point.
All of his Guardians and other Family members had taken care of the plans when he was busy. He helped with most of the preparation, but everyone insisted that he remain in the dark about a few things so they could surprise him. Tsuna felt rather awkward not knowing anything, but everyone was so excited about surprising him that he agreed. And besides, in a twisted way he figured he deserved it. After all, wasn't that what he had done to them?
"Once Reborn arrives—" Gokudera said, bringing Tsuna back to the present, "—we're going to start!" He said this with so much fervor and excitement it was like he was a younger kid again.
Tsuna flashed him a strained smile, unable to get into the mood despite the childish glee Gokudera was emitting. "Sounds good."
Gokudera immediately caught on to Tsuna's tone. His smile vanished and he leaned on the Decimo's desk. "Tenth? What's wrong?"
Tsuna froze. Damn—he had forgotten how perceptive his Guardians could be when it came to him. Didn't stop him from trying though. "Oh, it's nothing, Gokudera. Just a little tired that's all."
The man wasn't convinced. He bit his lip and spoke slowly. "Well . . . Tenth it's just that, well . . . you've been tired a lot lately and . . . we're—all worried for you." He leaned forward even more and Tsuna almost cringed at Gokudera's expression, knowing very well that his Storm Guardian was wracking his brains to try and come up with a solution to Tsuna's problem and most likely finding some twisted way to blame it on himself. Tsuna really hated how guilty that made him feel. "You'll let us know if something's bothering you, right? I swear I'll do anything to make you happy!"
It really hurt sometimes, to know how much everyone cared about him. Tsuna certainly didn't deserve it. Not after what he'd done to them. "It's—thanks, Gokudera. I'll come join you when Reborn arrives."
Gokudera's gaze bore into him and Tsuna resisted the urge to shiver. He knew he hadn't convinced Gokudera but there was nothing he could do. He needed time to think, and knew that his Storm Guardian would get the message.
"A-all right, Tenth. I'll finish getting everything ready." Gokudera stretched out a hand, hesitated, then turned around and walked to the door. He was about to leave when he paused and glanced back at Tsuna.
"Tenth . . . you know that I'm—we're always here for you." And he shut the door, leaving Tsuna to his moody thoughts.
It was silent for a while then Tsuna sighed. "I know, I know. But that's the problem," he whispered, looking out the window once more.
It was completely dark now, but there were enough Christmas lights surrounding the mansion outside for him to still watch the snow. Once he got bored of that Tsuna leaned back in his (extremely) comfy chair and exhaled slowly.
"It would have been better off for them if I had never been born," Tsuna sighed.
Suddenly, there was a loud POOF! and Tsuna was surrounded by smoke. He coughed and leapt out of his chair, already in Hyper Dying Will Mode, ready to face his attacker. Yet before he knew it, he was face down on the ground with someone sitting on top of him.
Tsuna froze. That was Reborn's usual greeting, but—the voice was all wrong. It sounded deeper, like a man's voice. And the Arcobaleno wasn't even supposed to be back yet anyway. Tsuna shifted as much as he could to see who was on top on him, then gasped when he realized who it was.
Or at least it seemed like him. Tsuna had only seen a picture of his tutor in his real form once, and it was hard not to notice the similarities. There was that same neatly pressed suit, the same fedora, the same curled sideburns—everything.
The figure smirked. "Not exactly." Then he got off Tsuna and stood up, waiting for the thoroughly embarrassed Vongola Boss to pick himself off the floor. Tsuna eyed the newcomer warily, wondering what to do. His intuition told him everything was fine, but he couldn't help but feel creeped out. Reborn was the source of many nightmares after all. And to see him in an adult form was downright spooky. Tsuna started to wonder if he was in the right holiday.
"What do you mean by that?" Tsuna asked.
The Reborn look-alike smirked in such an eerily reminiscent way of the real Reborn that Tsuna couldn't stop the shiver that ran down his spine.
"I'm not Reborn, but at the same time I am. I took on this form because it would suit my purpose better," the figure said.
"And what purpose is that?"
The fake Reborn tilted his fedora and stared Tsuna straight in the eyes.
"I'm your Guardian Angel."