Reborn didn’t think it was supposed to turn out like this.
In all honesty, he didn’t think this would happen. When he first met Tsuna, he thought the brunette was whiny, annoying, and a whole nuisance he couldn’t wait to get rid of. He had the brief thought of loading Leon with an actual bullet and calling the whole thing off. Timotoe didn’t know he had arrived yet, and he could easily blame the boy’s death on another hitman that got there before he had.
A job was a job, though, and Reborn wasn’t one to go back on his word. Reborn didn’t like to lie. Twist the truth, omit the truth, and allow others to assume the truth, sure, but he would never outright lie. Something about it rubbed him the wrong way. It’s odd, he thought, to think about his morals. Having lived in the world of the mafia for so long, they unraveled more than they had been to start; because, in order to join the mob, to be able to make such a name for himself, his morals had to have been a little frayed to begin with.
Reborn noticed that there was... something about Tsuna. It wasn’t him, he knew, not yet. This was something that belonged entirely to the brunette. A glint in the boy’s eye, a sudden tenseness in his jaw, the quickly bitten tongue that stopped an immediate response. The latter reaction, Reborn once thought, was Tsuna stomping down on his instinctive urge to scream.
(He wouldn’t find out that it was Tsuna wanting to spit venom and stopping himself until much later).
“I’m going to mold you into the perfect mafia boss, Useless Tsuna.”
“For a hitman,” the boy responded with an eerie calm as he lay on his bed, the moon hung high in the sky, “you aren’t very observant, Reborn.”
At the time, the hitman had scoffed, letting the words roll off his back and forgetting about them altogether. He didn’t think much of what he thought was an insult coming from a mere child. Perhaps Reborn had looked like one, but he had spent a good amount of years in this life already.
When he sent for Smokin’ Bomb, everything had gone exactly to plan. He didn’t notice the twitch of annoyance in Tsuna’s hand, too focused on Hayato kicking over the other’s desk. He didn’t notice the calculating look that spoke of a plan in his student’s eyes since he was watching Hayato walk away with a smug smile on his childish face.
“Every great mafia boss needs a right hand man,” Reborn said. Tsuna glanced over his shoulder, peering back at the school - at the roof. Reborn assumed it was at Hayato, who began to walk home from the school’s gates.
Tsuna wasn’t looking at Hayato.
The brunette was odd, Reborn realized. There were times where the shrieks Tsuna gave were much too high pitched to be forced, but then there were times when Tsuna didn’t react at all. When Reborn’s first field test came around in the form of Mukuro Rokudo, the Arcobaleno got a taste of what Tsuna was capable of.
The brunette barked out orders like he had been doing so his whole life. There was no fear in the brunette’s eyes, only anticipation. It was...eerily similar to the way the rogue Cloud would look when he was all but salivating for a fight.
Flickering orange eyes stared at Reborn, and the hitman realized that there may be more to his student than he first thought.
“You can’t help.” It wasn’t a question, nor was it an order.
Reborn had lowered his fedora. “I cannot.”
Tsuna didn’t look surprised, and Reborn’s interest was piqued. He went to open his mouth, but he was quickly cut off by the teen. “Then stay out of my way.”
By the end of that day, Tsuna’s hands were red with burns, but it wasn’t anything he couldn’t handle. His student had entered Hyper Dying Will Mode without any extra help from Reborn. He didn’t use the Vongola Gloves that Leon had created midfight.
He had watched with morbid fascination as Tsuna tried to appeal to Mukuro, explaining how the mafia was corrupt, and how he was a victim of the system, too. It seemed to be going well, and Reborn had feared that Tsuna was going to make a new friend out of this dangerous enemy, but then Hibari had entered the scene, and Mukuro had tried to possess Tsuna and all hell broke loose.
Tsuna wasted no time in powering up, and he took Mukuro down within minutes. He batted away illusions that were powerful enough to rival Esper Mammon’s and in the end, Tsuna stood, victorious, with his foot firmly planted against Mukuro’s throat with a sneer on his face.
“If you ever try to take what’s mine again,” the boy hissed, the sound raising the hairs on the back of Reborn’s neck. “I will not hesitate to finish what I started here today. I’m sorry that it came to this. I believe you would have been a wonderful ally. Perhaps you need to go back to time out.” Reborn watched as Tsuna got closer, bending over and baring his teeth, a cruel look in his orange hued eyes. “I’m sure you’ll find a way to contact me once you’ve thought on your mistakes today, Mukuro Rokudo.”
The power that had radiated from the boy was enough to make Reborn feel woozy. It was enough to make the hitman want to bow his head in respect. It was enough to completely override his instincts to run and regroup at the sight of a more dangerous predator. Reborn may have been top dog for a long time, but there was another player in the game he had never known of.
Reborn hadn’t realized that the kindling had been burning all this time, preparing the bonfire.
He watched Tsuna closely after that. It was obvious that Tsuna knew he was, but the brunette didn’t seem to care. If anything, he was acting less like the person Reborn thought he was. Reborn still did what he did, adding chaos to his student’s life in whatever way he could. Tsuna would just stare at him, though, and the look would pierce Reborn to his core.
It thrilled him as much as it made him fearful.
The Varia showing up was expected. Xanxus was a mafia born and raised and had a flair for the dramatic as much as he may deny it. Issuing a challenge to some snot nosed civilian brat? It would be a piece of cake for the Varia.
Reborn took absolute pleasure in watching the brunette decimate those who stood against him - those who threatened those that were his. The ragtag group of misfits huddled around Tsuna’s blazing inferno for warmth as desperately as Tsuna reached for each of theirs. They were his Guardians, yes, and he was their Sky, but they were also his in a way too intimate to describe. They wouldn’t be going anywhere.
At that point, Reborn had yet to realize that he won’t be going anywhere, either.
Then, the Future That Never Was happened, and things quickly spiraled out of Reborn’s control. Reborn liked to live in a constant state organized chaos; he was the one controlling things out of sight and pulling the strings behind the scenes. The Future didn’t allow that. Tsuna had become a house fire upon hearing of the death of Arcobaleno.
It was never put out, and Reborn found himself inching closer and closer to the flames, absolutely enthralled.
When Tsuna learned about the Arcobaleno Curse, about them slowly dying, the entire forest around the house burned.
Within weeks, the curse had been broken. Reborn still wasn’t sure how Tsuna had done it. It had to have been Tsuna, too. The young adult had looked as pleased as the cat that got the cream.
When Reborn took stock of the world around him, all he could feel was the cozy warmth of the fire surrounding him. When flames reached towards him, he reached back, relishing in the way the burns bubbled across his skin.
“Tsuna,” he called out to the brunette from his place on the couch. The brunette glanced over at him, the pen in the don’s hand pausing. It was an invitation to continue speaking; Tsuna was listening. “When did you know?”
It was quiet for a few moments, and then his soft voice carried over the room, “know what?”
“Know . Everything, I guess.” He twisted on the couch, now facing Tsuna. “When did you know that you were going to make all that were around you burn and enjoy doing so? When did you know that you were going to have everyone wrapped around your pinky finger? That you were going to be... this,” he waved his hand in an encompassing gesture.
Tsuna smiled, and Reborn absently noted that it was a genuine smile, and not one that he plastered on for the sake of others. He put his pen down, and stood up. Reborn watched, wary for a moment, before forcing himself to relax. Tsuna was still smiling as he made his way over to the couch Reborn was situated on. He plopped down next to the hitman. “Grandpa couldn’t Seal everything,” he admitted, “even as a kid, I fought back. Hyper Intuition guided me most of my life, so,” he shrugged, “that’s how I knew things. As for the people...” he shrugged, “they came of their own free will, but made a promise with their life to stay.” The words sent a small shiver through Reborn. He paused, turning to the hitman. “I knew when you started to fall in love with me.” Reborn tensed. He hadn’t said anything to anyone. “I knew when you realized it for yourself. I knew when you rejected it, and knew when you accepted it.”
Reborn stayed silent.
“You started falling in love after my first fight with Mukuro.” Tsuna started, voice almost wistful. “You realized it in the Future, but distanced yourself from it. Tried to convince yourself that you didn’t want it. You accepted it but tried to forget about it once the Curse was broken.” When he still got no answer, Tsuna sighed. “I’m trying to tell you that it's okay, Reborn. I accept your feelings.”
That snapped Reborn out of his silence, baring his teeth. His eyes were sharp, intense and filled with words he didn’t say; wouldn’t say. “I don’t think you understand, Tsuna,” he began. “I will love you as a thief loves a gallery and as a crow loves a murder, as a cloud loves bats and as a range loves braes.” His love was all encompassing; it was as hot as the fire that burned from Tsuna. It was desperate and possessive and as bright as the yellow Sun Flames he carried.
Tsuna laughed lightly, and it almost felt condescending to Reborn. He chose not to think about it. He focused on Tsuna’s next words instead. “I wouldn’t expect anything less,” he murmured, reaching out to cup the hitman’s cheek. The man sat there, frozen, not even taking a breath, “I’m not a good person, Reborn, and never have been. I’m positive you’ve realized this. So,” he took a deep breath, “I will love you as misfortune loves orphans, as fire loves innocence, and as justice loves to sit and watch while everything goes wrong.”
Reborn didn’t know who moved first, but when they broke from the kiss, he did know that just willingly walked off the cliff for the brunette. He knew that he all but signed away his soul, but...he found that he was okay with that.
Because Tsuna had knowingly done the same.