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Burning Amber

Chapter Text

Tsunayoshi Sawada dies peacefully, in his sleep. He's satisfied, because he ran Vongola as it should've been from the start. Of course, it wasn't an easy road. Between making sure none of his men would turn against him and protecting his family from less than pleasant groups and whatnot, a lot of migraine pills were ingested just to stay sane.

He'd ruled Vongola with an iron fist and a bleeding heart. Even Xanxus wasn't sure how he'd done it, wasn't actually aware it was possible, but then, Tsuna existed. He was meant to defy expectations. Reborn would attest to that.

Of course, he didn't have any heirs, but he'd made a deal with the previous Vongola bosses to let a worthy heir take his throne to continue Vongola's reign. He wasn't stupid; if Vongola were to die off - if he were to die off - the Mafia would go back to its former ways, ways that he spent so much effort and time changing. So he'd need an heir who wouldn't back down from all the responsibility.

Thankfully, the others agreed, and Giotto looked like he was beaming but Tsuna was too focused on the other bosses to be sure.

So he passed away, after all his loved ones had (he was the only one left) , assured by the chosen heir (a distinct line of Giotto's that settled in America... the family that were apparently self-trained ninjas? Warriors? Yeah, those people. They were very cool, so Tsuna had no worries. Plus, Reborn approved. The older brother had declined - partly because he was a cloudy lightning, but the younger brother - a soft sky, revealed once Tsuna and the others got past his guards - was agreeable enough to take the mantle, thank god) that he and his guardians (a wacky but admirable collection of people, with so much potential) would continue the Vongola as the Decimo had envisioned it.

He breathed his last breath, thankful that his mess was over and done with.

When he awoke once more, with unfamiliar faces popping up in his vision, he very nearly sobbed.

Why him?


"Hey," A knock on his head made the eleventh boss of the Vongola jolt out of his musing. He looked up and couldn't stop his lips from quirking up at the sight.

"Hi, babe. Anything new?"

His boyfriend snorted derisively, 'lightly' smacking a stack onto his desk. "I'll fucking say. An explosion happened downtown, you might want to look at the report." The blonde boss furrowed his brows behind his shades in confusion. He peeked at the first page of the so called 'report' and took a double take.

He pushed his glasses out of his eyes, rested them on the crown of his head and let his red eyes scan the papers more thoroughly. "...is this a joke? This - what even?"

The brunet he called his love sighed, frustrated. "I was just as startled as you are, but yeah, that's a thing that actually happened. Luckily your sister was there to do damage control," he said, pointing to one of the paragraphs in the paper. The blonde leaned back, rubbing a hand down his face.

"Thank god for that, then. She expecting anything?"

"Time alone with her wife and some good wine, according to our resident hacker."

The boss nodded. "That's fine. I'll read these over, then we decide what to do...Wait, what the fuck? How'd they even - okay, let's not send the Varia with mine anymore, too risky for that shit - actually, never mind, looks like my guardians are the problem this time. Goddamn." He really should take some aspirin. He remebered Tsuna-sensei mentioning hiding some in the top drawer.

Waving goodbye and treating him to a kiss, his right-hand left the office, shutting the door softly on his way out. Once alone, the blonde sunk into his very comfortable leather chair groaning.

"Welp." He crossed his arms, a breath of resignation escaping his lips. "At least this isn't as hard as Tsuna-sensei's time was." He shook his head, chuckling. "Seriously, the shit his guardians were up to while he was gone went up to fucking insane if it wasn't handled correctly."

He could only wonder whether that was the brunet's fault, or if it was because fate toyed with him so much.

And if it did toy with him so much, what was the Decimo up to now?

Chapter Text

At first all he can make out are...weird globs of...something. Moving blurs, he can't move, what nightmare was he stuck in?

Strangely enough, his intuition stays silent...almost content? Wonderful, just when he needs to use it to get some idea of what was actually going on, he gets nothing.

He feels the warmth spread around him before he realizes that the suspicious blur he sees moving around surrounds him.

He can't make heads or tales of what he's hearing, but it has a nice sound...

Hyper Intuition deems this a great time to load him with hints. Arms, the warmth he feels around him. Voice, the sound he hears.

He still doesn't know. He's...getting drowsy. It's like he's slow-

                                                       -ly

                                                                                              being

                           lulled

                                                                                                            to

sleep.


The next time he wakes up, there's an uncomfortable feeling.

He tries not to pout when his intuition gives nothing more than a slight 'giggle' when he consults it.

He feels his body turn and something soft covers his face. A wet surface touches his - oh.

No. No. What? This...that couldn't be real. Right? Was this some sort of sick joke by Reborn? It had to be, right?

There was absolutely no way he could have explained being a baby...with all of his memories intact, no less?

Nightmare. That would be the most accurate description.

His intuition is dutifully ignored when it tries to tell him otherwise.


Oh god. It isn't a dream, is it? He's actually, for some god forsaken reason, reincarnated.

Was there some kind of punchline to this? An inside joke he was unaware of?

He realizes this only because the blurs are getting clearer. After some time. Which felt like a day or two, honestly, but he's been drilled basic science (as basic as the people in his life could get anyway) to know when a baby's body (that was his now, oh god he felt bad for the kid's parents, they're never going to get to know their son because Tsuna had unknowingly shoved that fledgling soul away to take his place) began to develop something akin to proper eyesight.

So case in point, he was a kid now. What was with his life and babies?

As for the blurs themselves, Tsuna makes out some important observations. Observation one; they were both brunette with short hair. Which was sorta unfair, because unless one of them talks Tsuna doesn't know which to call the mother and father. Observation two; both seem really graceful. That's it. There existed a common sense of knowing in their steps (not that Tsuna physically sees it, but he thanks his intuition for making up for the temporary lack of sight) that doesn't give Tsuna a good feeling. He's never done well with those types that were all 'I know infinitely more than you, and I'll be cryptic as hell about it'. (Reborn was never like that, more forceful and cautiously blunt when he wanted to hide something from Tsuna. Kawahira was another matter entirely, and Iemitsu...no. just no.)

Last observation; his parents (the first step to recovery is acceptance, or so they say) were powerful. Ridiculously powerful. His mother even more so. It was just...

They didn't feel right. Not by a long shot.

'Mother' felt like the cherry blossoms that bloomed in season (Tsuna secretly wished she was named Sakura - years later he snorts because wow hindsight) but she also felt as light as feathers. A nice, warm feeling swelled in his chest whenever her face (steadily growing clearer each passing day) neared his. She had beautiful emerald eyes.

She was a Sky. He knew that feeling of home-warmth-happiness anywhere.

'Father' was a brightly burning furnace. He wasn't like an inferno, no. Rather, echoes of something like it were etched into his soul - and wasn't that interesting? What had this man gone through to feel like that? - and screamed for attention. Tsuna watched in morbid fascination one day, when he was held in the man's arms instead, as the man's flames brutally crushed that inferno-like feeling down.

He was a Storm. Not unlike Fon, who was always at the center. Calm, calculating, but hid a flurry of storms in his wake.

Both were equally breathtaking.

Both felt like fragile glass, with one touch breaking them for good.

Tsuna had never been more terrified for them.

(If he had clutched both of them tighter whenever he was reminded of this, well. It was his business, wasn't it?)

Chapter Text

His name was Tsubasa. He looked remarkably like his father.

There was one thing wrong, though.

His eyes.

His eyes were the color of his mother's, only hastily hidden at the insistence of his intuition (that he's learned to trust just because it saved his hide more than once by making him do ridiculous things that somehow subverted any other danger until that particular hailstorm) under the guise of brown eyes. Now he looked like the perfect image of the man who helped birth him into this world.


"Let me cook breakfast tomorrow, okay?"

"Of course."

"Great! Good night mother, father."

Sakura Li smiled benignly at her son, watching him wave and retreat to his room. She suppressed a giggle. Was that a yawn she heard?

"Our son is growing to be quite the kind boy, isn't he?" remarked her husband, Syaoran Li. She nodded in agreement. "Indeed."

Syaoran held her hand as he helped her to the mattress. "Plenty tell me he's a lot like me, but times like these remind me he's got your spirit and compassion."

She pouted playfully at him. "Oh dear, its the eyes isn't it?" His lips quirked up. "Maybe," he said unhelpfully. She hit his arm, though it wasn't out of malice. "Stop it, you. Still, it was quite a surprise..."

"Truly. When Tsubasa opened his eyes for the first time, I was expecting him to have the same eyes as I did. He is, of course..." The man trailed off.

She cupped Syaoran's cheek. "One who your existence was based upon. I know all too well."

Syaoran held the hand she used, teeth worrying his lips. "I wonder if this changes things?" Sakura turned solemn at his statement. "I would hope not...for the worse, at least. There's no use worrying about it now."

"You're right," he ammended, smiling once more. "Shall we head to bed?"

"Let's."

It only took a few more minutes until the couple was finally asleep. They never did notice the prescence that entered their room, their instincts deemed the arrival not a threat. They didn't wake up.

The figure was small, only a child. No other child could to have roamed the halls of the Li Home.

Tsubasa Li stared remorsefully at his parents. This...he didn't want to do this. He was essentially creating a big lie, to save his own skin.

Not really, his intuition reminded him gently. This is for their sake too.

It doesn't make that any better, Tsuna thought glumly. Why would Kawahira even need me to do this?


 

Kawahira had, surprisingly, reached Tsubasa through a dream. He got the news that his guardians would be alright, though shaken from the sudden death. (They were also told that it wasn't some kind of ploy like the future incident. The lot of them were both relieved and saddened.) 'That isn't why I came to talk to you, Tsunayoshi. Or should I call you Tsubasa? Either way, you'll need to do something.'

'You've changed a great deal, just by being there with that Li Family. It may cause problems in the future if you aren't careful. I'm not saying you should stick by what originally happened, that would be futile, but to be ready. For now, though, I'll need you to take this to your parents and spread it. It'll make them forget you had your mother's eyes.' Here Kawahira tossed him a bag of powder. 'Mist Flame induced. Also,' Kawahira said, reaching into his pocket to pull out a small object. 'Wear this all the time. It'll mask those eyes of yours.'

Tsubasa sighed. He really didn't want to do this. He gripped his pants tightly. What should he do? His gut was telling him it was very, very necessary to do this. He was also reassured it wouldn't really harm his parents, but...manipulating their minds? It left a bile taste on his throat.

Taking a pinch of powder out of the small pouch he'd procured, he sprinkled in on top of his parents' eyes, He watched with baited breath as they shook slightly, shuddering, then relaxed.

It was very stressful.


 

"He looks just like you, dear."

"So, this is what she meant."

"I'll make a clone out of this boy, a puppet I can control."


 

The pieces have been moved.

What will the outcome be?


His childhood was okay, so far. Nothing overly complicated, which was a far cry from his life as a Mafia Don.

However, having been a Mafia Don in his previous life, he already knew what could happen. According to Murphy's Law; if times were calm, then a shitstorm would follow it right at it's heels.

So when Syaoran, his new father told him he would be trained, he didn't protest.

Chapter Text

He was expected to use a sword, just like his father.

He was expected to be a carbon copy of his father.

He was expected to do this, expected to do that.

It was aggravating.


"Father...I do not feel comfortable with a sword..." Tsuna tries, but Syaoran doesn't hear him.

"Yes?" Syaoran crouches down and stares questioningly. Tsuna opens his mouth to repeat himself, but his mother's voice cuts in before he gets a word out.

"Dear! It's Mei Lin, she's asking about the artifact."

"Ah, right. Sorry Tsubasa," he's pat on the head, as robes swish around and speed away. "I'll speak with you later."

Tsuna - Tsubasa, he now corrects- looks down at his feet and clenches the wooden sword in his hand tighter.

Why couldn't he speak up?

You'll need it, his intuition reminds him quietly. He frowns. Why? I can make do with what I had.

Yes, it replies. But it's not enough.

Of course. It wasn't enough.

(It never would be, but perhaps that was why he kept moving, searching, seeking.)


He secretly trains his old abilities instead. Dead in the night, he first practices the maneuvres he's come to know like muscle memory. His intuition guides him, and he manages to at least become decent at some aspects. He still won't try his special moves until he knows his flames again like the back of his hand, though. Bringing them out without a Dying Will Bullet was hard enough.


Syaoran breathed a sigh of exhaustion as he finally finished the atrocious amount of paperwork he'd had for that day.

"It was so much simpler back then...Well, no, that's a complete lie, but never something as mundane as paperwork," he shuddered, not bothering to recall the amount of papers he'd originally seen beforehand.

Just outside of his peripheral vision, a cloaked figure nimbly dashed through the garden. Syaoran froze, before his mind caught up with senses. "Intruder?" he muttered, summoning his sword. He rushed towards to where he knew the entrance to the garden was, skidding to a stop. He observed his surroundings.

A rustle of clothes was heard towards his right.

"Who are you?" he spun, pointing his sword at the - laughably - tiny figure who froze.

A beat.

The figure turned tail and booked it. Syaoran was hot on their heels. Puffs of air left the both of them, having been a cold night. The figure swiftly jumped over a fence with surprising agility, the man following suit. Blurs of color passed their sight, from the warm tones of the Li Residence to chilling, embracing greens. They were in the forest now, but still within the boundaries of the Li property.

The figure disappeared into the trees. Syaoran refused to let up, eyes scanning everywhere.

A snap had Syaoran's head whipping around towards the sound above him. The figure needed a second to regain its balance - they had managed to trip on a tree - which was all Syaoran needed to close in. He made to grab the figure, wanting to know how exactly the figure was able to get inside. And what he wanted.

He dismissed the thought of the figure being one of that man's. Fei Wang could never find them here, never bothered to, so why now? The figure wasn't even wearing any symbol. There was also the fact that one would not be able to spot a spy of that man's, because his men were always competent to some level.

So who was this?

Before he could actually touch the figure, though, they lashed out, aiming a kick at Syaoran. He pivoted his footing, dodging easily enough. The tiny figure lunged again. Syaoran readied himself.

He didn't anticipate the punch though, for whatever reason. Syaoran wasn't totally hurt by the attack - but he was still surprised enough that he lost his balance. Of course, he managed not to fall straight down to the ground, having hooked a foot onto the lower branch, but that same foot couldn't be dislodged; so Syaoran fell backwards, head hitting the trunk of the tree hard. His sword fell out of his grasp, falling a few inches before settling on the ground.

Since the man was dazed, the figure wasted no time jumping across to the next tree before they finally disappeared from view. Syaoran reached up and worked around the branches that had somehow snagged him by accident, flipping around into a tumble as soon as he was free. By the time Syaoran gathered his bearings, the figure was gone.

Syaoran cast a suspicious glance around the area.


The figure breathed as silently as he could, heart beating erratically. Adrenaline slowly bled out of his body.

That was terrifying.

He slid down the trunk of the tree he hid behind, after hearing Syaoran leave. The figure paid no heed to his hood slowly slipping off his head, brown locks framing his green-now-chestnut eyes, looking remarkably similar to Syaoran.

Tsubasa sighed tiredly. He only wanted to train his punches - he never expected Syaoran to be awake at this point in the night.

Chapter Text

He manages to bring his flames out(he would be forever thankful for Reborn and the bullets now, because falling off a tall tree was decidedly not fun for his body and sanity), and get them working in fairly decent control. Just in time, too.

"Mother...she had a dream?" Tsun- Tsubasa repeats, somehow not surprised. He'd been surrounded by people who knew at least some of the future - although Byakuran was a special case - and his intuition was an active premonition tool in and of itself, however immediate its predictions would be mere seconds later.

It stands to say that Seers who could see the future in dreams wasn't that unreasonable.

"She says you have someone you need to meet," his father agrees. Syoaran looks solemn right now. Tsubasa wonders if this was that point in time where things began hitting the proverbial fan, but his intuition stays oh so helpfully silent.

Tsubasa doesn't respond for a short while. He notes his mother's presence a few feet away from them, watching. Waiting.

He isn't so sure. Leaving both his parents while he was still young? Didn't that usually spell disaster? Why did it have to happen so soon? Why did it need to happen at all?

Was this...was this 'that' particular milestone? The one he overheard his parents talking about?

His father's face doesn't shift, doesn't bend. He's waiting for a response, Tsubasa realizes. Before he moves on. He brings his hand up at chest level and uses three seconds to look at the scars he's kept hidden. Scars he obtained punching a tree until his arms ached for release. He grimaces. He still wasn't at the level he needed to be. He needed more time.

But what could be done?

(Syaoran doesn't break out of his demeanor, but inside he is questioning the state of his son's - his original's - hands. What had the boy been up to? He knows full well that the sword could never cause those kinds of bruises. Neither was his kicking techniques.)

"If..." Tsubasa raises his head up, staring straight at his father. "If that is what Mother wishes for me, I'll go."

(Sakura startles. While similar...it wasn't what she had predicted in her dream. She frowns in worry.)

Syaoran nods (he does not realize the ripples changing the very nature of the water yet) and unveils his sword. "Then this, I will hand down to you."

He startles at his father's words, then gawks at the..rather large sword in comparison to his short stature (still pitifully short, his traitorous mind whispers) "Father, isn't this yours?"

"Yes, handed down by my father. And father was handed this by his own father. I am doing the same to you."

Tsubasa can tell this is not the entire story, even without his intuition. His reluctance to accept the sword is not entirely because of this, but rather it is partially because he is still not comfortable with the idea of using a sword.

"I will entrust that to you...along with my name."


"Mother?" Tsubasa, a few months prior, runs towards his mother. Her face, he notices, lights up quickly with delight. "Tsubasa," she says, and Tsubasa feels the pulse of her Sky spreading around, reaching him. He lets himself get tugged in by that warmth, basking in the embrace his mother gives him.

"How was training?" She asks, brushing his hair affectionately. He gives her a small smile. "Father's been teaching me a whole bunch of things. Mostly martial arts, though."

She says nothing for a quick moment, and Tsubasa can sense the sad croon of her flames. "That's wonderful," she says, but her tone is laced with a hint of sorrow. Tsubasa can tell its not something she wishes to discuss, but he worries. He's been like that to his own guardians, and nothing good ever came out of it.

He feels sympathy for her, and doesn't say anything in reply as he hugs her.

"Tsubasa? What's wrong?"

He shakes his head, wanting to laugh, but decides not to. "I should be the one asking that, you looked so sad..."

(Sakura, and to an extent Syaoran coming around the corner from the bushes, realizes that her son might be more knowing than they expected him to be. They push this thought out of their minds, once more pressing matters come to attention.)

She smiles warmly at him. "You shouldn't worry so much. I'm simply happy that I was lucky enough to have you as my son."

These words triggered guilt that pooled unrelenting in Tsubasa's stomach. He breaks out of the hug a bit, remorse swimming in his eyes.

"That isn't luck...you're both wonderful parents..." he says, but that isn't what he wants to say.

I'm not your son. Not truly him. I took him away from you. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry.

I'm not who you think I am.

(Sakura hugs her son again, and Syaoran watches with love. Because they both send each other looks, neither notice the anguish that mars their son's face.)

His mother holds him at arm's length. "Why don't you get some tea herbs to go with breakfast?" He nods in consent, and she lets him go. He catches the sight of his father watching in fondness and feels a pang stab his heart. Ignoring it, Tsubasa sends a grin the man's way, thanking him for the training. He speeds off, or makes it look like he is.

Stopping a few short feet away, he dives near the bushes and creeps back to where he came. He feels bad about doing this, but he knows his parents are hiding something from him. Something big. He's already been fed up with not knowing anything in his old life. He isn't about to start liking it now.

"I had a dream..." he hears.

"Was it about the things that will come?" Syaoran responds. Tsubasa hears warning bells ringing at the top of his head. Where has he heard a line like this before?


Tsunayoshi walks through the halls, sigh passing his lips after departing from the mothly meeting of Vongola's most trustes allies. He stops short when he hears Yuni and Byakuran speaking from the hallway.

"Another vision? Yuni-chan..."

"It cannot be changed...as much as it hurts. It will come."

"...the future won't be as bright as it was, is it?"


Tsubasa feels a tingle of dread ripple through his entire body. No. Not again. Please, not again.

He's already had to deal with this, even as Tsuna. He's shouldered the burden of fixing the future, of carrying the past's sins. No. He couldn't take another -

"Is there any way for that future to be changed?"

No answer. Tsubasa feels like laughing. (Why, why, why, why? Hasn't he done enough? Why were the people he loved always being saddled with the consequences of events yet to come? Why, why, why?!)

"The Syaoran that you were originally modeled from - " the words repeat themselves in Tsubasa's brain.

Syaoran originally modeled from - no, it couldn't be - he may have looked like his father, certainly, but that...

It's not possible...you couldn't...even after....he wasn't even - it's not - it can't be?

His intuition crooned at him, softly, gently. Remorseful.

It's a stunning revelation.

He's not...he's not supposed to exist, wasn't even a part of this world - and this child, he was a paradox born of a taboo doomed to -

His throat closes up, and it feels like he can't breathe. His blood feels like ice, heart spiking to dangerous levels. No, no, it can't be - that wasn't possible - his intuition was s c r e a m i n g -

Maybe it was something else? It - it had to be something else, right? There's absolutely no way. No. it couldn't it couldn't no no no stop you're overthinking -

(Something, there was something, he wasn't aware, not yet not yet not yet You can't find out about that yet.)

"For him- " They were talking about Tsubasa, it was always about Tsubasa (he wished it wasn't) "-to be your own son, it should not be possible."

(Dios mio. There it was. Pure, verbal evidence.)

...

His existence was a fluke.

A lie.

A mistake.

...

He's not supposed to be here. He's not real, not supposed to be, yet he is.

Impossible, Improbable, non-existent.

He stole this life. This impossible-to-exist life. The child who was a paradox was overtaken by a man who ruled over hundreds of families, who stained his hands in an effort to keep those that were his safe. This innocent, pure life.

Taken. Gone.

(and the light continues to burn as more than just coal is added - a flame so tainted with reality and bloodshed yet flickering brightly with a will that exceeded all)

Tsubasa choked back tears. His head was spinning, flames twisting in agony, heart thundering louder and louder. He fell to his knees. His eyes unfocused, enlarging and diminishing in all the wrong places. His fingernails dug into the palms of his hand, pale white. He couldn't breathe.

Salty droplets of water slipped past his cheeks, but he paid them no heed. He felt like puking, nausea building up in his stomach, reaching his throat. It tasted like bile. The erratic beating of his heart was louder than anything else, he couldn't hear anymore.

His father was a clone? That, he could believe. But...of him? This body? The child -

(He was unceremoniously reminded of the vile, broken thing Byakuran brought about back when he was still an enemy. The rule of any two universes abided by.

There must never be two of the same person in the universe. Otherwise, the balance would be too great.

Yet here he was.)

A chill ran down his back.

A child.

He was still a child.

The life he overtook was a child.

He swore to protect them, and what does his luck give him? A second chance? At what price?

The life this child was meant to live was gone.

...

He couldn't see a thing.

Why was is so blurry?

Focus, Dame-Tsuna are the words sharply ringing in his haze. Breathe before it gets to you.

It already has, Tsubasa thought hysterically. Weren't you listening? Breathe.

Tsubasa takes a few, shuddering breaths. In, out, in, out, in, out. By the last few breaths, he has most of his head cleared up. He swallowed heavily, tasting nothing but his saliva.

Took you long enough. That wasn't his intuition, no. Damn straight I'm not.

Oh god. Was he hallucinating Reborn? Yes, his intuition cheers happily.

Think, stupid student. Or better yet, let them explain to you.

Reborn. The constant of his hysteria, the harbinger of chaos (to his life, anyway). That one person who stood by Tsunayoshi and wasn't afraid to tell the brunet that he was being an idiot. Tsunayoshi's close confidant. A father, a friend, a - (he brushed the thought of other activities with the hit-man because, well, he'd done it to the rest of his family so it was a moot point).

Vision clearing, Tsubasa gripped the part nearest to his heart.

(...it hurt, to see his old mentor gone. But such was the way of life. People die, and the only way you can move was forward.)

Only a few moments pass when he fell. That...okay, that was weird. But there's no time to think about it now.

He resumes on eavesdropping.

"-for you and I to be created once more, then this world..." his mother says.

"...will be repeating the same thing over and over." Syaoran continues. Tsubasa feels the gears in his head spinining. Repeating the same thing over and over?

Maybe, to compensate for the paradox...his existence and all who were involved just loops itself over and over?

That...that was horrible. To be subjected to that kind of thing...Tsubasa remembered what he'd originally faced, back when he was Tsunayoshi. The blood, the war, the pain...granted, he and his precious people had fixed it and lived through it - but it didn't make it any less terrible. If he had to - would be forced to repeat that again and again...It would be a nightmare.

"I also saw a path...that remained unreachable to us." Tsubasa squashes down the little hope deep within his soul.

"Is that to be our way out?" Syaoran asks Sakura.

"Its how I had dreamed it."

That's enough, Hyper Intuition warns him. Too much information is detrimental.

(Tsubasa wonders how his intuition became so eloquent with words.

Magic, he realizes. Its probably enhancing his flames.)

He leaves.

Chapter Text

His magic swells right along with Sakura's. He closes his eyes, and he feels tendrils wrap loosely around him, gathering him in a firm embrace, lifting him up. He sensed a rush of energy, coursing all around him, rushing past.

He opens his eyes to see an entirely different environment. It's a traditional home of sorts, giving out the aura of mystery. The soft creaking of the wood, to the tranquil feel of the pond only exemplify the aura.

"Is this the place?" He wonders. He trusts Sakura, of course, she's done nothing to warrant any mistrust from him - in fact, she was one of the kindest people Tsubasa knew - its just that he really can't help but be thrown off.

It felt and looked very different from where he'd come from. He stepped forward, admiring the scenery as he strolled past. Coming into the entrance, he wondered if he should extend common courtesy and remove his shoes.

"A customer?"

"For the Mistress?"

He yelps in shock, he didn't see them coming. He was so mesmerized by the so deep in though that he didn't realize two girls that had run up to him.

They looked eerily similar. Tsubasa can tell he would not have been able to tell them apart - if it weren't for the hairstyles. The one standing on the left had long blue hair. It was tied into pigtails, which looked very nice. The girl on the right had pink, short hair in contrast. Their clothes also varied.

A rustle of clothes and two very distinct limbs grabbing him was all the warning he got. He was tugged through the doors of the house. He barely had time to remove his shoes to prevent staining the tatami mats before he found himself standing in front of a woman casually smoking.

He froze. The smoke from the woman's pipe drifted, wafting just below his nose. A sniff. His heart stops.

(Hayato

No

I left you alone

Please

I'm sorry, I didn't mean to

You were so good and look what they did

They'll pay

Please don't leave)

"Stop."

A command. That's all he hears, and suddenly the world righted itself. His vision clears up, and he sees the woman staring at him, sitting up. "You went into quite the shock..." she remarks. Tsubasa shifts anxiously.

"Sorry. I...I have those moments, sometimes."

She raised an eyebrow, jet black hair falling perfectly down her yukata. "You would give away information so freely?"

He shrugs. "It's not that important," he responds. She frowns a bit, and he gets the impression that she knows it was a lie.

"If you say so. Now, why are you here?" Her eyes close as she leans back into her couch.

"I was told there was something I needed to do," he says with certainty. She hums, opening a single eye to stare at him.

"So it seems. Well, for starters - what is your name, child?" She asks, quirking her lips up. The twins giggle in the background. Tsubasa thinks it's mildly creepy, but well. He's known Mukuro and Byakuran. Mildly creepy shouldn't even phase him. And it doesn't, thankfully.

He's unsure of whether to answer with Syaoran, as his father gave him that right, or to go back with his original name.

His intuition isn't giving him a warning when he thinks to use Tsunayoshi.

So he goes with that.

"Tsu-"

(Yuuko's eyes narrow. Hadn't this child's parents taught him about this? Names are- )

Tsubasa ignores the way the woman's eyes narrow and continues without pause. "-nayoshi. Call me Tsunayoshi."

She doesn't give any non-verbal cues Tsubasa can take any note of. His eyes spark amber once, too quick for the naked eye to catch.

(How peculiar. The paradox child gave a name that was previously unheard of. Yuuko can't make heads nor tails of why he'd say anything else other than Syaoran. And that spark...Nevertheless, a response is in order.)

"Your parents taught you well," she says, eyes glinting with interest. (How very peculiar indeed.) "You never give your true name, for it can be used against you. I would have thought you would use your father's name, however."

Here, she gives him a pointed look. Tsubasa's lips turn into a small, wry grin. "Maybe I'm full of surprises."

Its about time he managed to one-up smug all-knowing people. (Mainly, almost everyone in both his lives.)

"Is that so? Well then, Tsunayoshi. Do you know where you are?"

"Mother says this place is a shop that grants wishes." And wasn't that a thought to behold? There was an actual, legitimate shop that sold wishes of all things. Its official (not that it wasn't before). His life was crazy and illogical.

"She is correct. Any who come and go here have their wishes fulfilled. If you are here, then you must have a wish."

"I don't think I have any." And it's true, in a sense. All his wishes were granted at one point, through bloodshed and tears. He worked hard to come where he was at. In this life, he worked to not lose those things. He wanted a family again, and he got one. He didn't let go. Not once.

(He worries at how long he can hold on.)

The woman's (Witch, his intuition corrects) brows shoot up in amusement. "Oh my."

"At least..."here Tsubasa pauses. "If I had any wishes I didn't have granted, I would at least attempt to achieve them myself."

"I see," she smiles - calling it a smirk would be more accurate. "Then what is your purpose here, Tsunayoshi?" His name rolls off her tongue so casually, carefully. Tsubasa very pointedly does not linger on this. He doesn't want to know.

"I was told that I was to meet someone."

"Your father told you, then?" She asks, leaning forward. He nods. "He told me mother had a dream, that someone was waiting for me."

Though I don't know how that person would know that I'd be coming to meet them, Tsubasa thought in exasperation.

"Yes...for a long time, your mother had the ability to see the future through dreams..." She trails off, staring at a distance.

"..yes?" Tsubasa didn't know what to say about that statement. It's not like it isn't true, after all.

"What do you intend to do, then, knowing this?" Tsubasa took a moment to answer, gathering his wits.

"I'll go."

"Do you even know where this person is?" She asks him, seeming skeptical.

"A dimension - one I'm not from."

He notices her blinking once. "You seem to be aware," she notes. He nods his head, albeit a little cautiously.

"I've had...practice," is his hesitant response. She hums in acknowledgement. "Have you ever been in another dimension?"

Here Tsubasa has to pause. "Um. Not exactly? Not in this form, anyway..." he mutters. She hears it.

"Not in this form?" she echoes, curious. She wondered what this child meant by that.

"Ah, well. It's, I..." he stammers, unsure of how to phrase it. "Please don't tell my parents this, but this isn't my first go at life, as bloody as the first one was," he informs her hastily. She takes a few moments to sift through that information. (The boy specifically mentioned 'life', as if he was living an entire different one right now. That side comment about the 'life' being 'bloody as it was'...hm. How intriguing.)

"They don't know, then."

"Yes."

(She lets it go.)

She takes a whiff of her pipe.

"Knowing what you've been told, you still decide to go?" she inquired, hinting at a warning. Tsubasa caught it as his intuition nudged him.

"I'm here, aren't I?"

"Indeed you are, but sometimes people take a moment to think," she stated, giving him another pointed look. He flushed in embarrassment, catching the double meaning. He had to be sure he wouldn't regret this.

"I'd just...well, to be perfectly honest I'd like to get it over with as soon as possible." Bonus points if I get friends or allies, went unsaid. "Plus, if I was meant to do this in the first place, I should be able to," he added, after a moment of thinking. She smiled a little, one in nostalgia if Tsubasa were to guess.

"Although not unlike your father, your response takes after some of your mother. That is to be expected, considering you look like a combination of them both, after all."

Shock froze him for a second, then he took a step back. "How did you -" he began to question, but she cut him off.

"As powerful as the artifact you wear may be, with a little magic...one can go a long way. You can hide nothing in this shop, Tsunayoshi." Here she smirks smugly at him, reminding Tsubasa greatly of the greatest troll he knew, Reborn. That should be a cause for concern, because he was getting legitimate 'troll' vibes from this woman.

"I...I see." He fucking wished he didn't, in all honesty. This was a headache and a half.

"Nevertheless," she continues. "I shall grant you this wish." Tsubasa feels a bell ding lightly in his head, and then he remembers something his mother had said about the shop.

"I was told a price was necessary to grant a wish..." He says, wracking his brain for what the price would be. His amulet? No, even if it was important to him, he didn't think it was that necessary in the long run. His memories as Tsunayoshi? No, that would be too painful, and he wouldn't give those up for the world. Never.

"You need not worry. I received that price from your mother."

A sigh of relief escapes Tsubasa. Oh thank god.

"Though your memories of the past life you mentioned would be as good - "

"No! No, I'm good ma'am."

(He thanks every deity he could think of that his parents had put everything in place for him.

Lord knows what this Witch might have done just to see him squirm in place, the heathen.)


 

It was time. The woman - who introduced herself as Yuuko, when he'd asked - had changed into a far more interesting outfit, one that looked very ceremony-suited. It fit her, strangely enough. Or maybe Tsubasa was loosing it.

He'd been told that he'd only have seven days as well, and it was not unreasonable. Dimensions were always tricky, as explained by Byakuran. It'd take a good amount of energy to send someone even to a close parallel dimension for an elongated period of time, if one were to travel in their own body.

Sending souls that were on a plane above them, however...That process was a lot more simple. And that's just what happened to him. His life, why?

"You look tense," was the remark thrown casually at him. He looks up and sees that Yuuko is staring at him, assessing.

"Sorry," he mumbled. "I'm a bit stressed. Things like this never really goes the way I want them to."

"Hardly anything does, child," she reminded him. He raised his hands and makes a few rapid gestures. "No, no, I know that! It's just...tiring, at times."

"I see. Well, please prepare yourself. This can be mildly disorienting."

He laughed, somewhat hysterically. "Story of my life," he muttered. (Yuuko wondered idly what the child meant by this.) He squared his shoulders and took a deep breath. "I'm ready."

"Well, then..." Yuuko raises a hand, fingers and palm flat as a wave of magic encircled it. "You may go."

Powerful magic rushed in an enclosed Tsubasa in a sphere. He could not see it physically, but he knew it was there. A magic circle appeared under his feet, and Tsubasa noted with awe how different it looked from Sakura's and Syaoran's - even his own.

Wisps of magic wrapped around him, tugging and pulling at his core. Tsubasa stared with incredulity as his body turned into wisps as well. It felt a lot different than what his mother had done.

"Consider your choices carefully," Yuuko warned. "Lest you lose yourself in the process."

That sounds very ominous, Tsubasa thought with despair. If he had Mist flames, he would have conjured up a storm cloud raining on his head to further showcase what he felt. Why does Fate want to play with my life so much?

Chapter Text

He arrived in a flurry of fluid. The liquid danced around him before dissipating, a sign that the magic that had brought him here was gone. Seven days. He mentally made a tally of the list of things that could go wrong in a week. Someone might get killed, a war could start, the possibilities were endless.

This just stressed him out even more. Tsubasa was contemplating on crying then and there.

"This should be that 'Clow Country' that mother always mentioned in her dreams..." he said aloud, taking in the scene. The air was very moist.

"Who...who are you?" The words were spoken clearly, like a bell chime ringing once. Tsubasa saw a hooded figure in the water. They were roughly the same height as him, and his intuition didn't make any notion of being alert. He assumed this meant nothing bad would happen at the moment. The voice was also that of a child's. A female child.

(Tsubasa resolutely banished any thought of a female bathing in the water and a male finding them by coincidence. They were children for Pete's sake.)

"Ah, I'm - " He took a step down, about to step into the water.

"Wait!" She cried, rushing towards him. Thankfully, he froze in time. He wondered why she wanted him to stop.

She fell. Or, tripped to be precise. It was to be expected, trying to suddenly run in water like that. Her covering was very long as well. Still, he tried to help her out by walking towards her, about to pick her up. Before he could make contact, however, she shouted again. "No!" This made him stop in his tracks, and he retracted his hand.

"I'm sorry," she said, wrapping the cloth more around herself. "You must not touch me." She hopped out of the water and sat down on the edge. Tsubasa took this as invitation to do so as well, sitting a bit further away at a respectable distance.

"I'm going through a purification process right now," she told him. "I can't be touched by anyone during it."

The words were slightly familiar. "Could you be going through this purification because there is an important ceremony coming up?"

She whipped her head towards him in surprise (more like awe but who was taking note of the difference?). He raised an eyebrow. "What?"

She shook her head, blushing faintly. "No, its just. You knowing that a purification must happen before a ceremony...it surprised me, just a little," she explained. He smiled wryly. "I mean, I've done it a few times myself, so I'm familiar with the routine." He didn't really get the significance, other than it was supposed to be a sacred thing and that it was traditional culture.

Added protection that was offered by it was a bonus, and who was he to take a gift horse in the mouth?

At his statement, the girl beamed brightly. "Is that right?" Sun, Tsubasa decided. This girl is definitely a Sun. His own flames warmed in delight, but he made no show of it.

"Those clothes..." she said, tilting her head at him. "They're not from here, are they? Where are you from?"

He looked away, staring at the reservoir in front of him. "A different world."

"A different...world?" she echoed, likely confused. He nodded. "I'm came from a country called Japan. It's a place in the world that's separate from this one."

"Japan, huh?"

He turned back to her, eyes slightly wide. "You don't seem very surprised." Indeed, the girl did not really look any more shocked than he was.

"Ah, well, that's because I was told by my mother, the high priestess," she began. "That the world, to those who understand its existence, is not a single entity."

This was definitely familiar to him. His mother had said the same thing as well, after all. "I see..."

"It really is strange, though."

"How so?"

She looked down at her feet peeking out from underneath the cloth. "Japan and Clow are two different places, from different worlds. Yet, we can understand each other."

"That could just be coin- no, wait," he cut himself off, thinking about it. Given how wacky his life had been, getting several explanations from his parents (and more recently, Yuuko) he could reasonably state that - "There is no coincidence. Everything happens for a reason. We just don't know it."

"Did your mother tell you that, too?" She asked.

He hesitated. "No. My father said something similar." Something about inevitability, but that sounded too...it sounded like you could never really change anything, no matter how much one tried. So he paraphrased it to something similar, but not quite. Optimism was key to his sanity, after all.

"That must mean there was a reason for our meeting, then!" She smiled happily at him. He smiled back, infected by her joy. She was definitely a Sun. Tsubasa was reminded of the many Suns he had under his care. Reborn, Ryohei, Lussuria (under Xanxus of course, but that just as well be the same damn thing) and the Sun squad he met a bit more recently before he passed his throne onto the Undicesimo.

Like a bright, shining star that glowed in the sky, sometimes warm and welcoming - but also searing and blinding. Everyone would have that other side of the coin to them. Tsubasa wondered what this girl would be like. She seemed very pure.

"Can you tell me your name?" She said. "They call me Sakura, I'm the princess of this country."

"My name is...well. My father gave me permission to call myself Syaoran, but I like calling myself Tsunayoshi. Tsuna, for short," he explained. Tsubasa liked his real name, but names now held a lot of weight in his reality. 'Tsunayoshi' was dead, so it should be fine.

He noticed another detail that flew by him. "Your name..."

"What about it?"

"It's the same as my mother's..." Tsubasa made note of how she looked like his mother as well. Running into the same person wasn't an accident. His mother had known this, hadn't she? There was a reason. Sakura looked at him in slight confusion, wondering why he was staring at her like that.

"I thought you were supposed to be undergoing purification," a voice said playfully. Sakura's face grew redder as she spun around in surprise. As did he, but not for the same reasons as Sakura. He'd sensed her coming close, but felt no ill-will and let it be.

He was startled because the woman looked just like his grandmother.

The woman grinned. "You seem to be having fun there." Sakura began sputtering.

"I'm sorry! I made sure he didn't touch me, honest!" Tsubasa grimaced a bit. She made me sound like a molester. "I kind of fell over into the water, but -!"

"It's alright, I don't mind." The woman - Sakura's mother, presumably - turned to him. "And as for you, I welcome you into this country. You've come a long way."

Shock flickered across his features. "How did you -?"

"A dream," she responded.

[Like the many others Tsubasa once asked if they somehow knew what would happen. Okay, yeah, maybe just Yuni, but he was very sure nearly most people paid her for visions just to prank him or something. (Or were very determined, like Mukuro, and happened to know how to make 'visions' look real.)]

"Oh. Of course." Tsubasa reprimanded himself. Of course it was a dream. Most of the people he met knew some of the future (read; his mother, Yuni, at times even Byakuran and Lambo through unconventional means) through visions and dreams. Why would this be any different?

A growl rumbled around them. He turned in bemusement - in came from Sakura, who blushed. "I - um, this is! I just!"

"It is getting rather late. The purification is over for today, so we should head back to the castle. They made your favorite apple dish." The woman, the queen going by Sakura's admission of being a princess, turned to him. "You should come with us."

"But..."

"I've prepared food for you as well. You like fruit, do you not?"

It saved his life in so many ways. How could he not?

Sakura rushed towards him. "I can't wait to have dinner together!" She smiled brightly. "Wait," she looked at him, pouting. "You are eating dinner with us, right?"

"Uh, sure?"

"Yay!" Wow, what an abrupt one-eighty, Tsubasa thought in amusement. The amusement died somewhat when in her rush, Sakura tripped again and fell flat on her face. He rushed towards her in panic. Sakura's Mother laughed in amusement. At least someone got some entertainment out of this.

Also.

Was he this clumsy before?

Chapter Text

"It really is a castle," Tsubasa said with awe, looking around. The scene in front of him was nothing but simply grand and elegant, even with its minimal decor and plain coloring - the place just had that sort of aura around it. Like it was meant for royals. Which, in this case, it was. No surprise there.

"Does Japan not have castles?" Sakura asked him curiously.

"I mean," he thought aloud. "It used to, but not anymore." With dynasties, samurais, emperors and all that nasty stuff. (He could also reasonably state that the Varia territory could be labeled a castle if you squinted.)

"I see!" She grinned at him again. "Well, do you like it?"

"It feels homely," he replied, smiling softly. She cheered in delight and babbled. "Right then! Dinner's this way, Tsuna. Follow -"

"Oh, you're back."

Sakura spun around and exclaimed, "Father!" before she grinned and rushed towards him. Tsubasa watched in faint amusement, hanging back with the queen as the woman giggled at her daughter's antics. The supposed king - going by Sakura's words again - bent down near the rushing Sakura's level, knowing smile on his face. Sakura seemed to remember something just as she was about to run into his arms. She stopped abruptly, a bewildered look on her face. She blinked, then calmed down.

"Try to resist, okay? Just a few more days," her father reminded her gently, chuckling. "Ye-yes, father," she said, cheeks flushing. He turned to the queen and greeted her, before looking down at Tsubasa. "A guest?"

Tsubasa immediately bowed. "My name is Li Syaoran. It's a pleasure to meet you." Let it be known that Reborn had pounded all kinds of etiquette in Tsunayoshi's brain. He would be dammed if he didn't show respect towards a man of high ranking.

The king nodded. "And it is mine as well."

Sakura began story telling. "You see, I met him in the ruins! He just appeared out of nowhere but there was this pretty liquid all around him and - "

Tsubasa made a sound, having realized that she was going to ramble. "I think we should...continue this at dinner?" The king nodded in agreement. "Splendid idea."

Sakura consented and turned to Tsubasa. "Come on!" She led him through a few corridors, stopping at a large room with an equally large table. "You can sit beside me." She made her way around the table, stopping two seats away from the head seat. Tsubasa opted to sit across from Sakura so he could face her easily.

Tsubasa saw Sakura taking note of the food prepared on the table.

Her face lit up. "I knew it!" She exclaimed. "You...what?" Tsubasa responded with confusion. "Mother saw you in her dreams, so she prepared dishes like meat and even cocotte! I'm forbidden from eating meat during my purification, so all this must be for you."

"Amazing...my mother, she too could see things, but she's never told me much about them."

"Oh, really?"

Tsubasa looked at her. "Yeah...actually," he said, getting a bit nervous. "You share a name with her. Sakura. You also look like her when she was young." It was slightly unnerving, and alarming.

"Me?" Sakura sounded confused, a little surprised. Tsubasa couldn't blame her. If he found out that someone's parents held the same name as him, he would have freaked a little.

...hold on a second. "Is your name really Sakura?" She shook her head solemnly. "No, it isn't. I can't - well. You know."

"Yeah. I didn't give you my real name as well, so..." He trailed off, biting his lower lip. Names have weight, one should never give it out so freely. He knew all too well.

"But you can still call me Sakura! I don't mind!" She reassured him hurriedly. He chuckled a bit. "Don't worry, I know! You can call me Syaoran or Tsuna, if you want." He was okay with both names. Syaoran, since it was name of his father, it was sort of okay. He'd get used to it, anyhow.

Too bad Sakura had other ideas.

"I'll call you Tsu then!" He looked at her in shock. "What?" She asked, tilting her head.

"...Tsu?" Like the nickname Nana always called him. Tsu. Really. It was one-third of his actual name. (That's all his fault, since he chose to use the name 'Tsuna'.)

"Yes? Short for Tsunayoshi. Plus it's cute!" She snickered, gaining a glint in her eye. Tsubasa became a little nervous. "I - I'd still prefer to be called Tsuna...or even Syaoran!" Not Tsu, please not Tsu...

"Tsu!"

Goddammit.

Before Tsubasa could protest further, the door slammed open. They both turned to look at the newcomers. "They're saying someone showed up at the purification grounds!"

"...he looks like uncle..." Tsubasa mumbled, staring numbly. The new arrival was a male who wore dark clothing, the boy behind him wearing something alike to the queen's clothing.

"Brother? Yukito?" Tsubasa internally balked. One was a fluke, two was a coincidence, but three was a pattern. If Sakura was the one he was supposed to meet - which was pretty likely from the looks of it - then there was most likely something else going on.

Something big.

His stomach tumbled- he didn't have that much of an appetite anymore.

"What, he's just a brat?" The words sounded disappointed, almost condescending- but Tsubasa hadn't spent years under a lot of sadistic tutelage not to miss the subtle relief in the tension present in the boy moments prior.

"Yes," instead of rising to the bait, Tsubasa nodded politely. "Good evening, I'm Li Syaoran. Sorry to have popped in on such short notice, I wasn't exactly given a choice on where I would land," he explained hastily.

The shorter boy gave him a friendly smile. "No worries. Touya just gets a little paranoid."

"I do not," was the defiant protest aimed at Yukito. The boy just stared at his companion with a look, prompting the prince to look away grumbling. Yukito merely shook his head in response, sighing.

Sakura giggled while sipping some water.

"This doesn't feel like our first meeting though," Yukito turns to Tsubasa. "I saw you in my dreams, after all."

"Ah..." Great, another one. Tsubasa decided to give him the benefit of the doubt, though.

"I'm not that good at it, though! I mostly just see bits and pieces. Sometimes I don't understand them," Yukito continued, sitting down on a chair. Score!

"No way! Yukito, you're plenty impressive!" Sakura exclaimed, before giving Tsubasa a little context. "They say Yukito's power, right after mother's, is the strongest in the country!"

Tsubasa nodded, genuinely interested. "That's very impressive. Where I'm from there are a handful of magicians, so I wouldn't call myself powerful or anything." In the sense of magic, were the words left unsaid.

(Touya observed him with a narrowed eye. What did the brat mean by that?)

"It really isn't a big deal," Yukito deflected humbly, cheeks reddening a bit.

"The priests say otherwise," the prince interjected with annoyance. Yukito didn't give a response to this, looking fondly at Sakura. "The power that sleeps within the princess here is powerful as compared to mine." The princess stares down at her lap.

"It isn't that special...not like yours and mother's, at least," Sakura protested, smiling a bit sadly. To Tsubasa she explained, "I can understand most of the things around me. Thoughts, feelings, stuff like that. Just the trees, birds, and flowers. Water is something I understand best though." He listened intently, awed. "It's - it's not something to be impressed by! I'm just - "

"Whatever you think your magic may be, I say it's incredible," he interrupted earnestly. "I haven't met many who can do the things you say you can."

"What about you then, brat? What can you do?" The prince demanded haughtily. But Tsubasa saw the interested gleam in the boy's eyes. Yukito reprimanded his friend softly, shaking his head when he was ignored. What was a good ability to share? His spells? No, he should save them as a trump card...oh. He still had that, didn't he?

"I can predict stuff, but not like a dream-seer..." Tsubasa replied thoughtfully. "Actually, I think a more accurate way to describe it would be that I'm very aware of the things around me. My instincts can tell me if someone lies to me too, or how they're going to move."

(Omerta might still be a thing, and damn it all if it meant getting thrown into prison if he revealed anything about flames to anyone. He wanted to live, thank you very much.)

"Wow!" Sakura claps gleefully, thoroughly awed. "That's amazing!"

"Whatever," the prince grumbled, crossing his arms. "Just eat your food like a good kid."

(Whatever Touya was hoping for, Yukito was getting more amused 'Tsuna' brushing off the attempts casually, as dense as the little princess.)

"Ah, right." Tsubasa turned back to his food. He didn't react when Sakura steps up in defense for him when her brother went to goad a bit more. "Although wouldn't it make sense if we waited for the king and queen first? I was taught that you should never eat before them...so..."

Silence.

Oh dear.