“I have to wonder if your stupidity extends to the point of losing your limbs to frostbite.”
Tsuna scowls, fighting back another harsh shiver as the cold bites into his body. They’ve managed to find a place to stop from the night, though it has holes in it and creaks and groans with every movement of the howling wind outside.
“This blizzard isn’t likely to let up anytime soon,” Mammon continues, from where they’re cocooned in no less than all seven of the blankets they’ve managed to find. It’s one bed, one pillow, and seven blankets. “You could make this easier on the both of us and get over here.”
“No,” Tsuna says harshly. He’s facing the window, staring out into the cold winter night. Whose idea had it been to send them to Russia in winter again? Oh right, Timoteo’s. “It won’t kill me to spend a night on the floor.”
“I disagree, and by that I mean you’re so stupid I can barely stand it. You will freeze to death if you stay on the floor, Tsunayoshi. Now.” They throw back their cloak, and the blankets wound around them. Tsuna flushes hotly as he realizes he’s seeing dark skin, and not the blackness of another blanket. “Get over here before you freeze.”
Tsuna feels his throat dry up at the prospect. He wants to be warm, but Mammon… dislikes people crowding them. A lot. One of the key points Tsuna has made between them has been to allow Mammon their space, allow them their freedoms and greeds and what they want. To not be that overbearing soulmate that is portrayed so often as a healthy thing.
“No, really, it’s fine, I don’t want to invade your space--”
“My space is already being invaded by this cold. I refuse to deal with lugging a corpse around as well because you refused to share body heat. Now. Get over here.” And beneath the cowl of their cloak their violet eyes burn, a cold gleam that threatens to cut it’s way through Tsuna if he doesn’t comply.
And so, heart in his throat, Tsuna approaches the bed. He sits at the very edge, and Mammon seizes hold of his shirt with a snarl, yanking him forward. Breath is driven from his lungs at the first touch of hot flesh, and then further driven when Mammon’s hand reaches up beneath his shirt to shove the cloth away. “Out of these. They’re more a hindrance than a help right now.”
“I-I-I can do it!” Tsuna yelps, batting the hand away. Or trying to. Mammon is persistent though, and in the end Tsuna is stripped, everything but his underwear tossed aside, and he’s pulled harshly against Mammon’s body to be tucked beneath the illusionist’s chin, the blankets re-wrapped around them so that even their faces are hidden away from the biting wind. With no idea of where to put his hands, Tsuna lets them meekly drop to his sides.
He has to admit though, he is warmer now though. Even if he’s probably aggravating Mammon.
“Sorry,” he mumbles up against the man’s neck, feeling the muscles twitch against his cheek. “I can--” He goes to shuffle back a bit, only for Mammon to snarl and yank him right back.
“You will do nothing, ” the illusionist snaps. “You’ve caused me enough trouble for one lifetime. Behave yourself for once in your life, Tsunayoshi.”
I can behave myself plenty! Tsuna wants to retort, but doesn’t because he doesn’t have the energy to argue. Instead he does his best to follow Mammon’s orders, closing his eyes and letting his forehead rest against the man’s chest. Breathing together in a closed space like this, the world long forgotten behind a blizzard and the blankets kept warm by their skin, it’s almost… intimate.
It doesn’t take long for darkness to settle in as night gradually falls, and the darkness makes Tsuna aware of just how tired he is from the long walk up even this far. Granted they’ve still further to go, but that can wait until the morning when the blizzard has hopefully stopped. He yawns, closing his eyes and letting sleep take him.
The next time he wakes, he’s laying down, still pressed tight against Mammon, the blankets almost stuffy were it not for a small slit allowing the heat to escape and cold air to get in. Morning has come, and Tsuna cautiously wiggles his head out to see if the blizzard has gone. It earns him a grumble of protest from Mammon, but Tsuna carefully shushes him and slides out of the warm cocoon to get his clothes.
“Must you be so aggravating so early?” His partner asks as he hops into his pants, hissing from the cold. In the early morning light Mammon looks like some divine god of old, purple hair in waves around their faces, blankets pooled around their hips, the golden bands of Tsuna’s soulmark wrapped around their body. “What?”
Tsuna realizes he’s been staring. “You’re gorgeous right now.”
Mammon arches an eyebrow. “Only right now?” The smirk that comes out when Tsuna starts stammering, oh well no, of course not, I mean, in general you’re very gorgeous but is very much Mammon. “Hush. I know what you meant. Now, if you’re done having your moment of starry-eyed appreciation, I would like to get this mission done so we might return home where we have finer things like central heating. ”
They trek through two towns before night catches them again and the winds start to pick up threateningly again. Thankfully this time they’re in an actual town when it happens, and so it’s no issue to duck into the local hotel for the night. It’s far more of an issue when the lady behind the desks says, “We apologize, but we only have one bed available. Will that be acceptable?”
Mammon’s mouth does this little puckering twist of displeasure, but they slide money across the counter regardless. Tsuna is silent on their way up to the room, and only once the door is shut and locked does he say, “You can have the bed, I’ll--”
“Don’t be stupid,” Mammon says, less waspish than last time. With a sigh they toss their head back, letting the cowl drop and begin to unfasten their cloak. “It will do us no good if you’re sore when it comes time to take the target out. This mission is being enough of a pain without added complications on your end.”
There’s something they aren’t saying, but Tsuna bites his lips and decides not to bring it up. Instead he peels out of his shirt and waits for Mammon to climb into bed - given the bed itself is up against the wall, he imagines Mammon will want as much space away from him as possible.
(And if he’s sneaky later on, he can slide right off the bed and onto the floor. Mammon will never notice, surely?)
His partner sees him waiting and arches an eyebrow. “Well, what are you waiting for? An invitation?”
“Ah, wouldn’t it be better if I was on the outside?”
“No.” Mammon shuts the line of thought down. “I don’t like confined spaces, and being between you and the wall is as confining as it gets. So. Onto the bed.”
Tsuna considers arguing, then catches the look Mammon directs at him - flat and utterly unimpressed, and done for the day. He closes his mouth and climbs beneath the blankets, Mammon behind him. He expects Mammon to want to keep his distance, but he’s surprised when Mammon curls an arm around his hip and brings him under his chin again, the burning warmth against his back not an unpleasant sensation. “Uhm?”
Mammon cracks open an eye. “Problem?”
“N-no, but… um, don’t you want your space?”
Mammon snorts. “I’d prefer not freezing more. If you’re concerned about your virtue, you needn’t be. I’m not interested in sex. Now go to sleep, Tsunayoshi.”
Once again, Tsuna finds himself unwillingly ushered to sleep. It’s surprisingly easy to fall asleep with Mammon against his back.
Their second morning awake does not begin nearly as peaceful as the first. Instead of a slow awakening curled up against Mammon’s chest, Tsuna jerks awake to his instincts screaming at him, and promptly throws both himself and Mammon off the bed just in time to avoid a hail of gunfire that tears through their wall. They hit the ground and Tsuna is already weaving Mist and Sky around them, Mammon’s mark expanding until it encompasses his whole body. Mammon, cursing, is weaving their own Flames into Tsuna’s until it’s a watertight net, and then he rolls Tsuna beneath the bed, and beneath their own body, and whispers fade.
Their Flames sing as one as the door is kicked open, and the bed overturned. Tsuna doesn’t move, doesn’t allow his breathing to unsync from Mammon’s. Pressed chest to chest like he is, it’s easy to follow the slow movements. It helps that both of their barriers are open, Flames pressed together so tightly that it's impossible to tell where one ends and the other begins.
“You said they were in here! Where are they?!”
“I-I don’t know! Honestly, I--”
There’s the sound of another gunshot, and then awful silence. The black guilt that never fades from Tsuna’s insides crawls back out as he realizes they’ve gotten an innocent killed with their presence.
Stop, Mammon’s voice orders in his head sharply. This is not your fault. It’s his. And he will pay for this when we kill him. Blood for blood.
Blood for blood. A Varia phrase. One life for another, one death for one death. Tsuna closes his eyes, tells himself hold together, and when he opens them again Mammon is gazing down at him in something like approval.
Good. Now, as one. Ready?
Tsuna doesn’t nod, but he doesn’t have to. As soon as Don Falco steps back into the room, Mammon and he drop their Flames, and reach out.
Falco never even gets the chance to scream.
It’s later, much later, when they’re twenty feet in deep snow and a thousand miles outside of any town, that Tsuna finds his voice again. The sky overhead is dark, but the moon is full, the stars beautiful. It’s cold. They should be inside. They should be sleeping.
But Mammon and he both know they need to make tracks, now that the hit is done. They need to go home, so Tsuna can curl up in bed and pretend not to cry over people he’s failed to save, and Mammon can go back to the Varia and tell Xanxus Tsuna is still fit to rule, and pretend he hasn’t been sheltering Tsuna from storms for the last three days.
Mammon doesn’t turn to acknowledge his words, doesn’t slow down. But when they finally make it into town and board the train that will start them on their way back home, they shift over and pull Tsuna beneath their cloak, letting him press up against them without complaint.