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first blood

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The sound of Squalo kicking open the front door of Varia HQ is nothing new. The swearing, yelling, and other assorted noises of frustration? Lussuria’s used to all that. The wailing, however… that’s new.

“VOI! Damnit, kid, shut the hell up!” Squalo shouts. The clomp-clomp-clomp of his boots grows louder and louder. Oh, dear. Could Squalo possibly be coming in Lussuria’s direction? This doesn’t bode well. “AND STOP TRYING TO STAB ME!”

Lussuria drums their fingers along the side of their leg, a rhythmic pattern they default to whenever they need something to do with their hands.

At the very least, this should prove interesting.

When the door of the lounge bangs open, and Squalo stomps into the room, Lussuria stands, already prepared for the intrusion.

“Oh, Squalo!” he says. “I heard a commotion by the front door. Is everything—oh. Um.”

Dangling limply at the end of Squalo’s outstretched arm is… a child. They appear to be sedate, tranquil, almost, a clear contrast to the high-pitched screeching Lussuria had heard just moments prior.

“Who’s this?” Lussuria asks. “A stray?”

“Yeah,” Squalo says shortly. “We’re keeping him.”

It’s not often that Lussuria is at a loss for words.

When he fails to respond for a good minute or so, Squalo growls, giving the kid a shake. The child squirms. “Do I have to repeat myself?”

“…No,” Lussuria says slowly, feeling slightly sorry for the poor thing. “But—”

“Good. Here,” Squalo says, promptly throwing the boy at Lussuria. They catch him out of reflex, cradling him to their chest. The boy looks up at him, and though his eyes are obscured by a mop of shaggy blond hair, making it difficult to parse his exact expression, he seems calm. “Careful. Little fucker tried to stab me.”

On cue, the kid pulls out a small dagger, showing it off to Lussuria with a proud smile on his face. “Lookit!”

Lussuria instinctively plucks the knife out of his hand, throwing it into a corner of the room while Squalo watches with clear distaste written on his expression.

“Couldn’t get a name out of the brat,” Squalo says, maintaining a highly disgruntled expression, “So I guess you can call him whatever. Fucking hate kids.” He sighs, running a hand through his hair. “Don’t let him near any weapons. He tried to kill me at least three times on the way here.”

Lussuria’s expression softens. “You don’t have a name?”

“VOOOI! Are you ignoring the part where I said he—”

“Do too! It’s Belphegor!” the kid says, turning and blowing a raspberry at Squalo, who looks about one wrong move away from committing a murder. “Didn’t wanna tell you. You didn’t let me kill you.”

Oh, that’s just adorable.

“Squalo, why don’t you leave him to me?” Lussuria offers, knowing full well he’s not even remotely prepared to take care of a kid. Lussuria is seventeen, still technically a child himself, though he doesn’t much feel like one. But, well, better them than, say, any other member of the Varia. Off the top of their head, Lussuria can count at least eleven people Belphegor would be worse off with. Wait, twelve. No, thirteen. No… “I’m sure I can…”

Fix him? Train him?

Lussuria gives Belphegor a scrutinizing look, taking in his matted hair, his slightly bloodstained clothing (they should probably be more concerned about this, but years in the Varia have completely desensitized them to these kinds of things), the dirt and grime smudged on his cheeks and hands.

Clean him up, at least.

“…Do something,” Lussuria continues.

They don’t comment on how odd it is for Squalo to have taken Belphegor in at all, instead gently setting him on the ground and giving him a firm pat on the head.

“Tch. Yeah. I was planning to dump him on you for now,” Squalo says. “He meets the qualifications to join. Would’ve been a waste to leave him.”

That’s kind of touching, actually, thoughtful in a way Squalo rarely if ever achieves, but Lussuria doesn’t get the chance to say as much, since the swordsman is out the door within seconds.

“I’m hungry,” Belphegor says, drawing Lussuria’s attention back to him. “And bored. Can I have my knife back? What’s your name?”

“Aren’t you a murderous little sweetheart,” Lussuria cooes. “I’m Lussuria. You can go ahead and call me Big Sis if you want. Can I call you Bel?”

Belphegor mulls it over for a second, fidgeting in place, before saying, “Sure. What about my knife? I’m still hungry.”

Those two topics are absolutely not related; or at least, they shouldn’t be.

“Let’s put a hold on the knife, okay? We can come get it later,” Lussuria suggests, sighing in relief when Bel crosses his arms but doesn’t protest. “Come on, let’s go to the kitchen. What kind of food do you like?”

“Uh… anything?” Bel says, following Lussuria out of the lounge and down the hallway. “I like bitter stuff. And rare steak. Like… bloody.”

Lussuria hums. “Kind of like a certain someone I know. You might get along with him.”

They don’t mention that Xanxus gets along with nobody, not even Squalo, who’s arguably his closest friend. Better to look on the bright side of things, yes? If Bel is stuck with them for the foreseeable future—which is entirely likely, considering that Squalo wouldn’t make these kinds of decisions on a whim—then it’s in Lussuria’s best interest to help him feel at home.

Bel doesn’t respond to that, instead wordlessly following Lussuria. His silence might be a relief, or something to be concerned about. They’ll be optimistic about it for now.

While the two of them are walking down one of the flights of stairs that lead to the bottom floor of the castle, a few lower-ranking officers pass them by. Lussuria automatically slows down his pace; it’s a custom of his to stop and chat with anyone he sees. Many don’t appreciate the habit, but what can they say? They’re a social butterfly.

“Shit, Luss, you got a kid now?” one of them says incredulously, whistling lowly. Lussuria doesn’t immediately recognize her, but there’s something in the slope of her nose and the sharpness of her gaze that’s very familiar. Someone under Ottavio’s command, perhaps? “Where’d you find the time?”

“Not mine mine, darling,” Lussuria laughs, waving a hand at—Leonora! That’s her name. “Say hello to the newest member of the Varia! …Apparently. Squalo found him God-knows-where and brought him home. Says little Belphegor here tried to—”

“KHHHHH!”

Lussuria blinks.

“Bel? Did you just hiss at her?” they ask, a little dumbfounded.

“I’m hungry,” Bel says stubbornly, neither denying nor confirming Lussuria’s accusation. He latches onto the back of Lussuria’s uniform coat with both hands, turning a baleful expression on Leonora and company.

“…Sorry about him,” Lussuria apologizes.

Leonora waves him off, smile playing on the corners of her mouth. “Don’t worry about it. I can tell he’s already gonna fit in. Go on, get outta here.”

Lussuria takes the opportunity she provides him, carefully disentangling Bel’s hands from his coat and leading the now sullen child down the stairs.

“You don’t like her?” he asks, steering Bel around the corner and into the kitchens.

The chefs are bustling around the large room, in and out of various doors, preparing for the lunch rush. They’ll be making food throughout the day, of course—many members of the Varia have irregular eating schedules, and the larger, coordinated meals are more of a formality than anything.

“Hmph,” Bel says, refusing to elaborate as he and Lussuria take up a place on the outskirts of the room. He tilts his head back, sniffing the air, reminiscent of the street cats Lussuria sees around town. “Smells yummy. Just like my castle.”

“Castle?” Lussuria asks, keeping a portion of his attention on Bel and the rest of it on the kitchen. He’s waiting for a lull in the activity, an opportunity to step in and ask for something without interrupting the nearly machine-like efficiency of the staff all working together. “Sounds fun.”

“Oh, yeah. I didn’t tell Squalo ‘cause he seems poopy, but I’m actually a prince,” Bel says, grinning when Lussuria chuckles. “You know what?”

“What?” Lussuria asks. Before Bel can respond, Lussuria manages to catch a chef’s eye. They wave him over, gesturing for Bel to pause. “Hold on.”

Bel seems happy enough to wait while Lussuria requests for a steak and, after consulting him on what he wants to drink, a glass of water. Lussuria had almost expected Bel to ask for something more typical of a child his age—juice, maybe, even a soda—but it appears his tastes tend towards the mature side.

Or maybe not. After all, Lussuria prefers highly sugared drinks to water, and they’re almost an adult.

“What were you saying, Bel?” Lussuria asks, after the chef is whisked back away into the stream of kitchen busywork.

“I thought the Varia was gonna be more… mean,” Bel decides, after deliberating a moment. “You’re nice though.”

That surprises Lussuria a bit. It’s quite obvious that Squalo had seen something in Belphegor, to take him in so suddenly, but for a kid as young as him to have already known of the Varia? And to have some notion of what it would be like? That’s interesting.”

“Seems like you did your research,” Lussuria comments, casting a glance at Bel.

“Yeah,” Bel says, shrugging. “I had to go somewhere. Thought this would be fun. When do I get to kill people?”

“…Later,” Lussuria says. Well, this is typical of people who purposely seek them out. “I appreciate your enthusiasm, though.”

Bel pouts.

[ + ]

All in all, Belphegor’s first day with the Varia is fairly smooth, if a bit unreal, and Bel himself seems like a normal enough child—that is, aside from his repeatedly expressed sentiments of bloodlust. Honestly, though, who doesn’t want to kill once in a while?

Lussuria, not wanting to leave him with the other officers for fear of Bel actually murdering someone like Squalo had warned he would, had tucked Bel into their own bed, carefully combing through their room for any weapons they might have left out and about.

That had been about an hour ago—at present, Lussuria is lying on his usual couch in the lounge, keeping half an ear on the conversation pinging back and forth between the other senior members of the Varia.

So far, the hot topic of tonight has been Bel—namely, what exactly they’re going to do with him.

“Kid’s skilled!” Squalo protests, dodging a wine glass Tiziana throws at his head. “HEY! You’re lucky that fucking missed! Like I was saying, he caught me by surprise and—”

“We are NOT,” Tiziana says firmly, “adopting a child. None of us are parent material. And don’t look at me because it was a mistake to give me Xanxus.”

“Obviously. But,” Squalo says, raising an eyebrow. He points at Lussuria, who tilts their head innocently. “What about them?”

“They don’t count. They already have to parent the rest of you freaks, which, as far as I’m concerned, leaves them no room to take in an actual kid,” Tiziana argues.

“I’m managing fine so far,” Lussuria chimes in, idly inspecting their nails. Eugh, the paint is chipping. Maybe he’ll do green this time?

“It’s been one day,” Tiziana says flatly, ever the voice of reason. Regrettably.

“Question,” Mammon interrupts.

“What?” Squalo snaps.

“Is he going to earn his keep? Because—”

“WE ARE NOT GETTING INTO THAT,” Tiziana says loudly. She sighs, pinching the bridge of her nose. “Anyways, I think we should return him.”

“To where? The alley I found him in?” Squalo asks.

“You found him in an alley?” Tiziana fires back incredulously. “Did you fucking kidnap him?”

“A little too late to ask that, don’t you think?” Ottavio adds, crossing his arms over his chest. “Come on, he’s clearly here for a reason. If Squalo thinks he’s good enough, we’d be fools to pass up the opportunity to train him.”

This gives Tiziana some real pause; she leans back in her seat, clearly contemplating the idea. “Ugh. When you put it like that…”

“How about this—let’s put him on… a probation, of sorts,” Ottavio suggests. “Give him some training, some time, and if he proves to be a bad investment, we can just put him right back where we found him.”

Tiziana clicks her tongue. “All right—all right. God, Xanxus is gonna flip his shit when he gets back, isn’t he?”

“Yeah,” comes the agreement from most of the members gathered in the room.

Lussuria’s the only one who stays silent, mainly because he’s still trying to decide on what color to paint his nails.

Their little meeting breaks up shortly after; Ottavio leaves first, citing “extreme exhaustion” as his excuse (which is fair), and Tiziana departs in quick succession. She doesn’t give a reason for leaving, but then again, she doesn’t explain most of her actions. The rest of the senior officers (though that name in itself is misleading, because all of them, save for Mammon and Ottavio, are in their teens) file out of the room within a few minutes, until it’s just Lussuria and Squalo left in the room.

“Where’d you put the brat?” Squalo asks, grabbing a dustpan from the designated Cleaning Supplies Box and getting to work on the shards of glass scattered across the hardwood floor. Lussuria doubts he even notices he’s doing it. “Haven’t seen him since I left him with you.”

“He went to bed,” Lussuria says, waving a hand at Squalo. “Today must have been tiring for him. Took about two hours to wrestle him into a shower, and then he locked himself inside the bathroom for a while and made me wait outside for him.”

Squalo snorts, dumping the glass shards into a wastebin situated in the corner of the room. “Sounds like a handful.”

“He is,” Lussuria agrees. “I like him though, already. He’s a darling. Vicious for sure, but that’s a good quality in anyone.”

Squalo grunts, whether in agreement or otherwise, Lussuria can’t tell. The rest of the evening is spent in relative silence; ordinarily, Lussuria would at least try to make small talk, but Squalo doesn’t really seem in the mood for it, and honestly? Dealing with Bel—though he’s a sweetheart already, as far as Lussuria can tell from the five or so hours they’ve known him—has effectively shorted their brain out for the rest of the day.

In fact, Lussuria’s so fried that he ends up falling asleep on the couch to the background noise of Squalo doing busywork at the other end of the lounge.

[ + ]

If there’s one thing to be thankful about, it’s that Lussuria’s schedule is fairly clear for the next few weeks; the only big jobs that have come in lately have been passed over to Tiziana, Xanxus, or Levi, the latter of whom are currently away mission-hopping. The uneasy peace that’s settled in around the Vongola recently is not without its downsides, but at least it comes with its fair share of benefits.

(Though Mammon, ever financially-minded, has been bitching nonstop about the reduced income.)

What this means, of course, is not that Lussuria has more time to himself; it means that he has an increased availability to dedicate to babysitting Bel.

Just this morning, Tiziana had shaken Lussuria awake, ordering him to “Wrangle your brat, damnit, he’s gone and destroyed my favorite couch!”

Apparently, Bel had woken up early this morning, left Lussuria’s room to explore the manor, and promptly gotten lost. He’d wandered into Tiziana’s study and coexisted peacefully with her for about half an hour before he’d gotten bored, pulled a knife out of nowhere, and went to town on her expensive, custom-made leather couch.

Needless to say, Bel has been placed under the strict joint supervision of both Lussuria and Squalo.

Lussuria doesn’t mind so much, and Belphegor had been happy to see him again this morning, but he can’t say the same for Squalo, whose temper has been steadily worsening over the past two hours.

“Hey.”

“What,” Squalo grinds out, jaw clenched so tight Lussuria’s surprised he hasn’t broken a tooth.

“Your name’s Squalo, right?” Bel asks, sidling up to Squalo’s side and attempting to peek over his shoulder at the document Squalo is reading.

Squalo bats him away. “Yeah. The fuck’s it matter to you?”

Lussuria sighs, and prepares to do damage control. From what few opinions Bel has expressed about Squalo, they can already tell this is probably going to go badly.

“Uhh… it’s just…” Bel trails off. “Um…”

“VOOOI!” Squalo yells, causing Bel to flinch. “Spit it out, brat!”

“Sea shark!” Bel chirps gleefully, before dissolving into peals of laughter.

This completely fails to garner a reaction from Lussuria, who has borne witness to repeated unfunny jokes about Squalo’s name. Bel seems to think he’s the best comedian in the world, though, baring his teeth at Squalo in a poor imitation of a shark.

“Luss,” Squalo says quietly, clearly holding back from… something. Violence, likely.

“Yes, Squalo dear?” Lussuria asks, refraining from smiling. It’d only add fuel to the fire.

“I’m going to go break stuff,” Squalo says, unclasping his prosthetic hand, drawing his sword from his scabbard, and locking it into place on his arm. He stands. “Take over my paperwork.”

Squalo’s thunderous footsteps are at odds with the carefully serene expression on his face. Bel watches him leave the room with no small amount of curiosity on his face, turning to Lussuria once Squalo’s footsteps have faded from earshot.

“Did I do something wrong?” he asks, hopping up onto the newly vacated chair. “I thought it was funny.”

“Mmmh. I know you were trying, but sweetie, Squalo’s heard that joke about a thousand times before. It just makes him angry now,” Lussuria explains, hooking his hands underneath Bel’s arms and gently lifting him from the chair. “C’mon. I need that.”

Bel thinks about that for a bit, staying put on the couch while Lussuria begins on the paperwork Squalo had left behind.

It’s finances, they note, grimacing. It’s not that Lussuria hates math, it’s just… they don’t particularly favor it either. Mammon had been in charge of handling the Varia’s treasury, until it had been discovered they’d been embezzling from the organization’s funds this entire time. Somehow, they’d managed to weasel their way out of getting into any real trouble; the only lasting consequence had been to make it harder for them to steal the Varia’s money.

However… Lussuria still suspects Mammon is secretly siphoning money into their own accounts. There aren’t any immediately noticeable inconsistencies, but something feels off.

Lussuria has learned to trust their gut feelings when it comes to Mammon.

“Hold on,” Bel says. Lussuria looks over at him. “Isn’t that a good thing though?”

“What? Making Squalo mad?”

“Yeah. I hate him,” Bel says, kicking his legs against the front of the sofa.

“In that case, sweetie, I think you can do better than stooping to shark jokes,” Lussuria advises, picking up a pen and scrawling his signature down on the bottom of the document. Looks good so far. “That’s easy pickings, and nothing he hasn’t heard before.”

“What do you mean?” Bel asks.

“I mean, give him something to really get mad about,” Lussuria says. “Make up an entirely new insult. Play a prank on him.” This last suggestion is probably going to get them in trouble, but whatever. “Attack him, even. I know that would inconvenience him a lot more than a name-based pun. And it would be good practice.”

“Hrmm… you know what, you’re right!” Bel agrees. “Where’s my knife? I’m gonna go find him!”

“Ah—”

By the time Lussuria’s out of his seat, Bel has already dashed out of the room, giggling gleefully as he tears down the hall. Oh, god. This isn’t going to end well.

[ + ]

For the next few hours, Lussuria’s charge is nowhere to be seen.

They check in with Squalo at the training ground, wincing when they see the sheer number of training dummies and low-ranking officers alike that Squalo’s demolished. Seems like Bel did a spectacular job of getting on his nerves, after all—a rare thing, when Lussuria considers the sheer volume of jokes Squalo has been the butt of over the years. Maybe it’d been the pressure over time that had cracked the swordsman.

Either way, Bel’s not there, and, according to Squalo, never had been. This can only mean he has gotten lost somewhere deep inside the twisting (and often confusing) corridors of the Varia mansion.

Lussuria can feel the headache approaching.

Well. There’s nothing to be done but look, they suppose. Over the next half an hour, there are moments where he comes very, very close to catching Bel, but ultimately fails each time. Lussuria has to hand it to him—he is good at hiding.

The search eventually morphs into a man-hunt, as Lussuria enlists the help of his Sun Squadron, Ottavio, and, reluctantly, Squalo. They split up, combing HQ from top to bottom in their bid to find the missing child.

Ottavio is the one who ends up catching him; the little monster is thrown over his shoulder, hissing and spitting like an angry cat as Ottavio carries him over to Lussuria. He drops the kid unceremoniously onto the ground, smiling in a way that makes it hard to tell whether he’s truly happy or trying to hide his frustration.

“I found him,” Ottavio says.

“I can see that,” Lussuria responds. “Let Squalo and the others know to stop looking, if they haven’t given up already.”

“Sure. Also… you might want to check him over,” Ottavio continues conversationally, gesturing towards Bel. “He pulled a gun on me when I tried to approach. I took it from him, of course. Makes me wonder where he got it, though.”

Bel stays silent, blatantly ignoring the questioning look Ottavio sends his way.

“Bel, where’d you get that?” Lussuria tries. It’s probably a long shot; Bel seems to favor them over the other members of the Varia, but favor doesn’t necessarily translate into trust. “Any other weapons I should know about?”

As expected, Bel refuses to answer the question, but he does reluctantly withdraw a pair of nunchaku from the waistband of his pants, two sheathed daggers from his sleeves, and finally, a second gun, which he unstraps from his left leg.

Does… does anyone even use nunchaku around here?

“Are you sure that’s all of it?” Lussuria asks.

Bel nods, bangs flopping in front of his face.

Lussuria raises his eyebrows. “Really?”

“Really,” Bel insists.

Really really?”

Bel turns his head away.

“Bel,” Lussuria says slowly, giving him a hard look. “What are you hiding?”

With clear and great reluctance, Bel crouches down, undoing the laces on his left shoe. Lussuria sighs, watching in slight disbelief as Bel takes the shoe off and peels the sole down to reveal a tiny hollowed-out section—it’s a wonder that hadn’t come apart—with a small paring knife nestled comfortably inside.

… At least he’s creative.

As soon as he hands the knife to Lussuria, Bel immediately snarls, lunging for Ottavio; he’s only stopped by Lussuria’s swift reflexes. They grab him by the back of his shirt, sighing again as he snaps his teeth.

“We’re going to need to get you some new shoes,” Lussuria notes, keeping a tight grip on Bel’s shirt and passing the contraband over to Ottavio. The Cloud takes the situation with grace, despite the fact that Bel is trying to murder him with his bare hands. “And, evidently, your own weapons, if only to stop you from stealing everyone else’s.”

“…Shopping?” Bel asks, twisting his arms back to scrabble at Lussuria’s hand. “Lemme go!”

“I think it’s best if I take my leave now,” Ottavio says, giving Bel a wide berth as he walks past the two of them. “Good—ah, good luck. I think.”

As soon as he’s out of sight, Bel goes limp, and Lussuria deems it safe to let go of him.

“Why do you hate everyone around here?” they ask. “First it’s Squalo. Then Leonora. Then Tiziana. Now Ottavio. Did they do something to you?”

“I hate them because I hate them.” Bel picks his shoe up and jams his foot back into it without bothering to lace it up. He looks at Lussuria. “Shopping.”

“Hmm.” Lussuria checks his phone. “How about tomorrow?”

“No,” Bel refuses.

Lussuria chuckles. He’s a little brat, all right, even if he is nicer to Lussuria. “Bel, dear, you don’t have much choice in the matter.”

“Yeah I do.”

“Oh? Why’s that?”

“I’m a prince,” Bel says haughtily, turning his nose up. “You have to listen to me or else.”

“Or else what?” Lussuria asks, beginning to walk down the hall towards the dining room. Bel follows, offering no response. “Bel?”

“I’m thinking,” he says.

“All right,” Lussuria says indulgently. “Well, while you think, why don’t we go get something to eat?”

[ + ]

That night, Lussuria leaves Bel to sleep in their own room again, thinking to give the kid a little privacy; after all, he may put on a good brave face, but it’s probably not easy for him, being all alone in such a new place, constantly having to deal with strangers poking their noses in his business.

They pay for that mistake the next morning when Bel goes missing yet again, and finally turns up half a day later on the outer edges of the property, armed to the teeth. Upon questioning, Bel admits he’d just mugged anyone he came across in the hallways and taken their weapons from them.

Maybe, just maybe, one day Bel will wake up and decide not to raise hell, but for now, that seems highly unlikely—so Lussuria has another bed brought into his room. Unlike Lussuria’s king-sized mattress, it’s a twin, which Bel promptly declares to be “inferior” and “unsuitable for the prince,” so Lussuria ends up exiled onto the smaller one.

He… probably should have predicted this.

“You’ve been here for three days,” Lussuria sighs, watching Bel jump up and down on the bed, gaining height with every bounce. “How have you already caused this much trouble for me?”

“I’m not sorry!” Bel says happily, as if that’s supposed to be some kind of comfort. “Hey, wait. Aren’t you taking me shopping today? You didn’t forget, did you?”

“No, of course not,” Lussuria reassures him. “We can—”

“YAY, SHOPPING!” Bel cries, diving towards Lussuria at an alarming speed. They catch him, spinning around with him in their arms to disperse his forward momentum. Bel hooks his fingers in the front of their shirt, delighted smile making its home on his face. “Can you do that again?”

“Eh… no,” Lussuria says firmly, putting Bel down. “Come on, let’s go. You ever been on a motorcycle before?”

“No,” Bel says, and he doesn’t sound happy about it. He follows Lussuria down the hallway, toward the ground floor. “I asked for one on my birthday but Mother and Father laughed at me and said I had to be happy with a horse instead.”

“A horse, huh?” Lussuria asks. Okay, so, rich boy—he can definitely see where Bel’s whole “I’m a prince!” attitude comes from. “And were you happy?”

Bel’s response is a resounding, “NO.”

[ + ]

It’s surprisingly easy to shop for Bel; the kid isn’t picky, and the only drawback is that he asks for everything he sees. Which, honestly, is barely Lussuria’s problem, but Mammon’s probably going to complain about it later.

The point is Lussuria has fun going along with every one of Bel’s whims, all the way from an oversized leather jacket to the miniature car he definitely doesn’t need. The rest of the Varia are going to be so horrified when they see Bel driving that thing inside the mansion.

Their shopping trip wraps up quickly enough. They return home, laden with bags (mostly Lussuria, actually; all Bel is carrying is the takeout bag from the restaurant at which they had eaten lunch) that Lussuria immediately dumps in his room.

“You can unpack this all once we get a room for you,” Lussuria informs him, glancing out the window at the truck pulling into the long driveway. That’ll be the toy car. “I told Ottavio to get something set up for you. I don’t want you to make a mess in here.”

Lussuria surveys the room. “More of a mess,” they amend. “Anyways, look. You see that van over there? Go bother those two guys. They have your car.”

Those few words are enough to have Bel tearing out of the room, almost tripping over himself in his excitement. Lussuria sighs exhaustedly, using his foot to shove the shopping bags under the bed.

Now that he’s freed himself by letting Bel loose on the rest of the Varia, he can take care of other business. Which, unfortunately, also concerns Bel.

“Three damn days,” Lussuria sighs, exiting his room and shutting the door behind him.

They find Tiziana in her study, lounging on her freshly-replaced couch, noticeably not as high-quality as the previous one; this must be a stop-gap measure until she can have some furnishers come in.

“Tiziana.”

“Yeah?” she responds, idly scrolling through something-or-other on her phone.

“You wanted Bel trained, didn’t you?” Lussuria asks.

“Of course. Can’t have him freeloading off us.”

“He’s a Storm.”

“So?” Tiziana says, not looking up from her phone. “What does that have to do with me?”

“You’re a Storm,” Lussuria says. “And you want him trained.”

He waits. No answer is immediately forthcoming.

“Tiziana… I’m going to have him placed in the Storm Cell,” Lussuria says.

“I’m not taking care of another child.”

“You wanted him trained.”

“Ottavio wants him trained, actually,” Tiziana backtracks, waving a hand. “Want something done? Go to him.”

Lussuria grimaces. “The thing about that…”

“Huh?” Tiziana asks, irritation beginning to show in her voice.

“Bel hates Ottavio.”

“He hates me too!” Tiziana exclaims, finally pocketing her phone. “You’re not going to pretend he didn’t massacre my couch, are you?”

“I’m not,” Lussuria says. “But I think you’re the best person to train him. About the hating you—I’ll work on him.”

Tiziana heaves a long, deep sigh, flopping backwards and covering her eyes with her arm. “Fine, fine. You got me. But he takes one step out of line and I will expect you to find something else for him to do.”

“Thank you,” Lussuria says wearily. “He’ll be good.”

Lussuria will soon discover they shouldn’t make promises like that, but for now they exit Tiziana’s office, satisfied with how things are proceeding.

[ + ]

Ottavio had really come through today, preparing and furnishing a room for Bel in just a few hours. He’d even moved the second (smaller, to Lussuria’s delight and relief) bed out of Lussuria’s room and into Bel’s. After his brief meeting with Tiziana, he’d pried Bel out of the toy car and forced him to help move his things. Fortunately, their rooms are both on the same floor, so it hadn’t been too much of a slog.

Bel’s third day here has gone, dare he say it, better than expected. It’s certainly an improvement over the last two.

“This castle sucks,” Bel complains. “Mine’s way better.”

“Oh, really?” Lussuria asks, humoring the kid.

Bel rams his car into the nearest wall, leaving a good-sized dent. Lussuria winces.

“Yeah. Mine has stone walls,” Bel says, causing Lussuria to narrow his eyes. But… no, if a real prince had gone missing, they’d have heard about it. Probably. “I can’t drive this thing.”

“Keep practicing,” Lussuria says flippantly. “Can I take a picture of you, dear?”

“Why?”

“I want to show the boss.”

“Hmm. Fine,” Bel allows, turning towards Lussuria and smiling wide. “I used to get portraits painted of me. I had to sit still for hours.”

Lussuria snaps a couple of pictures and sends them off to Xanxus, neglecting to provide any context for the existence of this small child and instead only captioning the images with look what we found. His reaction is going to be funny, at least, hopefully enough so to offset the yelling Lussuria’s going to be subject to when he gets home.

Which… should actually be tomorrow, Lussuria realizes, at the same time as a reply comes in that simply reads, IS THAT THE WEST WING WALL? I’M GOING TO FUCKING KILL YOU.