Chapter Twenty Seven
Luce pulled forth a chain from around her leg and flung it forward at Checkerface. Her face, unlike before, was not blank. Her eyebrows were tilted downwards, her lips were curved down in distaste, and her body near trembled in an emotion the Arcobaleno knew all too well.
The Sun Arcobaleno wrapped his arms around her, trapping her arms to her sides and holding her in place before she could do any lasting damage. Pissing off the man who had cursed them wasn't a good idea, no matter how much they all wanted to kill him. Reborn knew that Checkerface would make the others into Arcobaleno and the current would have their flames sucked out of them. Reborn would live, but he wouldn't be whole again, and he feared turning into a Vindice if that happened.
"Luce, wait." said Reborn. "If you attack him now, we might involve the others. I don't want Tsuna to get hurt if you start something."
"Then what are we supposed to do?" Verde asked, jumping forward in his small baby form. Viper followed after him, and then Lal and Colonello. Colonello didn't look very good in the state of physical form, but Lal easily dragged him behind her. Skull followed at a decreased pace. "I don't intend to die today, Reborn. You'd better do something."
"Oi, at least he warned us. That's more than you ever did." snapped Lal.
"I'm gonna barf." moaned Colonello, cowering behind Lal with his arms over his mouth. "My stomach, kora."
"Checkerface," Reborn called, directing Checkerface's attention away from the crying Tsuna. Reborn's red eyes were locked onto Checkerface's form, in case he did something that would lead to less than satisfactory results. Fortunately, the man did not move towards Tsuna. "what do you intend to do now? Now that the Sky Arcobaleno, Sawada Tsunayoshi, has won? Will he stay an Arcobaleno, since he was just turned into one? Or..."
"Will you all die together, is what you're asking me?" drawled Checkerface. The man waved his hand in front of his face, and the mask fell. Reborn didn't so much as flinch at the face of the man (creature) that had trapped him into the curse of the rainbow. The others, however, showed various shades of discomfort or shock at the face of the person they hated so dearly. "No. I have a better solution, Renato Chaos. You are not so unlike me. Sephira turned you, and in return you have lived for centuries. Never in any other parallel worlds have I had this opportunity to make immortal Arcobaleno – people who could sustain the system for an eternity! In a sense, yes, you will all die, but you will all live."
"You dare-!" Luce snarled, lunging forward out of Reborn's grip. Reborn barely managed to catch the edge of her clothes and drag her backwards before the enraged Sky made another attempt at the man. Luce hated anyone who messed with her elements, a hate stronger than her hate for Bermuda. "I won't let you turn them into vampires! They deserve to stay human! They deserve to live!"
Hands shoved and jabbed into Reborn's ribs, but the Sun Arcobaleno didn't let up. Luce pushed against him relentlessly, trying to escape his hold. Frowning, Fon walked forward and leapt up onto Luce's shoulder, making the Sky pause for a moment. Fon smiled and patted Luce on the shoulder.
"It's fine." he said. "That fate is much better than leaving you and Reborn alone to suffer, and better than dying. We- the Arcobaleno – if it means living forever, then we do not mind. You are our Sky. We would not be able to live with ourselves if you were forced to live alone as the world progressed on and on without any company. I doubt Reborn would stay with you unless we forced him to, after all."
Fon chuckled at this, a clear testament on how well he knew Reborn's habits. The hitman tended to disappear at random and wouldn't come back until months or years later. He was a solitary creature that didn't like to be tied down to anything or anyone, including Luce, seeing as she resembled his former Master far too much. Sephira was a reflection of Luce, and that pained Reborn, and it was clear for all of Luce's elements to see that.
"Yeah, kora!" agreed Colonello. "We wanna become vampires if it means we get to live and be adults!"
"But-," Reborn began, and then stopped. His own Sun flame had been taken by the pacifier that he wore around his neck. It was slowly killing him, making him sicker by the day. Checkerface must have known that he wouldn't last long. It didn't make sense – neither would his companions if they became Arcobaleno. "I don't understand."
"Naturally, if you just stopped transforming into your adult form for a century, your flames would naturally replenish themselves without the pacifier drawing them in at large amounts. You never tried to stay in your baby form for long amounts of time – and thus you never replenished your flame fast enough." said Checkerface, or as he must have been called sometime in the past due to his human identity, Kawahira. "Shouldn't Sephira have told you that basic concept of flames?"
Reborn bit his tongue.
"I was only with Sephira for a few centuries. She died before she could tell me anything of importance, and I was left to take care of Luce to do anything more or try to find out what secrets she left behind." Reborn placed his right hand on his chest, where it had previously been a gaping hole with no heart filling it. It was healed now, after his transformation into his past 'pure' form – a human one. "However, she wasn't scared of death, not like you. You may claim that you want to keep the Trinisette in place, and that if it wasn't for the pacifiers and the ring sets the world would be imbalanced, but that's not true. You, and the other originals, were just as immortal as I am now. You each could have held onto a pacifier, instead of leaving or dying off in stupid ways. Instead, you shoved the balance onto humans, cursed us because you were too afraid of what would happen if you took on the weight of those stones. All except Sephira. She survived, and she held the Sky pacifier for centuries long, all up until Bermuda killed her. If not for that, she could have sustained it for years longer. So, quite nicely, I blame you and your companions for what has happened, and that is why I do not like this idea of turning them into vampires of all things just because you originals were too afraid to face what you had created!"
"Reborn!" hissed Lal, warningly.
Pushing Checkerface's buttons, as people called it, wasn't the way to go. Reborn didn't care. He had lived long enough and he hadn't any regrets besides what had passed already and was something that could not be changed no matter how hard he tried or how powerful he was.
Giotto's, and by extension, Natsu and Tsuna's Hyper Intuition, might have been able to surpass Checkerface's abilities if only by pure luck. Reborn had given Giotto that ability in exchange for companionship and blood, and Giotto had used it to build an organization that would go down in history as the bloodiest one every made. The countless generations had ruined Giotto's precious famiglia and thrown it into the dirt, and that was what Reborn hated the most. But he had used that to his advantage, used the Vongola's reputation, the Arcobaleno's power over the Trinisette to hide himself from those that would wish to harm him. Reborn was selfish, and he knew that, but he hated to admit his weakness, just the same as Checkerface did with his little pacifier secret Reborn had just revealed.
"So you would not want them to live?" questioned Checkerface (Kawahira, Reborn's mind whispered, but he paid it no mind; the man's name meant nothing when the intention behind the person didn't change).
"They would only survive."
Checkerface's hands dropped to his sides and the man inclined his head. "You are very cynical, Chaos."
"I've had many names. Renato Chaos, Reborn, Sinclair. Whatever name you use doesn't change anything. I'm only the person who Sephira chose to live next to her. You lost that opportunity at the very start when you refused to hold onto one of the pacifiers and supply it with your own power."
Reborn sneered and declared, "You're just jealous of me."
If there was anything that could speak of Reborn's smug, self-glorifying attitude with no fear in the world, it would be that line. The Arcobaleno knew it, and none of them knew how to react to it. Colonello had to choke back a sudden burst of what he thought to be a cough come up his throat and Lal fell onto his shoulder, her knees straight and unbent, her face stone.
Mammon tilted the hood of the cloak down, standing next to Verde. Fon smiled just a bit less. Verde looked about ready to shoot the hitman's face off.
The man standing a few meters in front of Reborn frowned.
If Natsuhiko were alive, he would have been laughing, Reborn reflected as he looked forward at a man he very much hated. Reborn had hated Checkerface from the start, and the most. The others, the ones as equals between Checkerface and Luce had all died or disappeared in odd ways, and were less hated, but Reborn still blamed them partly for all that had happened. At first Reborn had hated Sephira too, when she had turned him into something he had despised and been revolted and disgusted by.
Tsuna's eyes looked for the ashes of the one he had burned. They weren't there. It was somehow wrong, his mind pointed out – and truly, it was Tsuna's own thoughts, own feelings, because his Hyper Intuition had left him and refused to speak as Tsuna held the body of his twin and brother.
This wasn't supposed to happen. Tsuna thought.
Natsu's eyes stared into his but Tsuna could find no light there. There was no sign of life, no movement, no small grin on Natsu's face. It was all gone, in a flash, in a single moment that Tsuna couldn't stop.
The beads in Natsu's hair had lost their color, the red and blue faded to a dull grey. The bracelet around Natsu's wrist was no longer green, and was instead black. Kyoko's hair clips that held Natsu's bangs on his right side up were half undone, one of them having fallen on the ground, laying next to Natsu's ear. The other was half holding Natsu's hair together and half unclipped.
If only I'd been closer.
Yet, Tsuna hadn't been closer. He'd never been close to his brother, after all. Never in his life had they been anything other than enemies. Their relationship was lost the moment Kyoko had died. Dear Kyoko – that was the only thing Tsuna could even think about her. She was always the angel, the saving grace, and then she was the demon, the evil thing and part of the story that had sent his life into hell. She was his curse, and now Natsu was also his curse.
The Vongola ring was on Natsu's finger. It wasn't burning or glowing. It was twinkling. Like stars in the distant sky. Tsuna, noticing it, blinked twice and tried to get the tears out of his eyes to make sure they weren't a trick of light. It wasn't. The ring was sparking in certain places like a flame, like ashes still burning, like something about to-
Tsuna shrieked. His hands shot forward to grab the ring, but it was sparking too fast and Tsuna couldn't use his legs because they were bent beneath him and his mind was thinking too fast just as if he were a Vindice bellowing at him that he was too late.
It didn't make a loud sound.
It was more of a ding.
When Tsuna lifted his hands away from the corpse of his brother, the Vongola Sky ring lay broken and unshining. It was in pieces – not just split into two or three, but into a dozen and more. If one would try to assemble it together, they would have to know what the original thing looked like – a ring – to even see what it was.
The brunet looked at the pieces of the ring, and then slowly, not to Natsu's face, but to the Arcobaleno, a twisted sort of confusion running circles in his mind. He wasn't so full of his grief that he couldn't recognize the importance of the ring. It was important because it was part of the Trinisette and no normal thing could break it, so Tsuna didn't understand what exactly it was.
Tsuna knew full well that his father could quit the CEDEF and become boss of the Vongola, and have another child if need be. It wouldn't be preferable, and it wouldn't be proper, but surely the boss' and the ring didn't reject his father sometime in his life. The Vongola, the current one, would do anything to keep surviving, even if that meant using the CEDEF advisor as a makeshift boss.
The ring still had one person left – unless it didn't.
Tsuna stared at the ring.
Then, angry, because this didn't make any sense as much as Natsu dying did, he smashed the flat of his hand and the pieces of the ring on the ground and then hit them with his fist a couple of times, closing his eyes tight as he did so. He huffed, done, and then lifted his hand away from the pieces of the ring to look back at Natsu.
He knew he shouldn't be sad. Tsuna was sure that he wasn't – that wasn't it. It was more important than family connections, as if he had lost a piece of himself. Tsuna was dependent on Natsu for all the wrong reasons, and now realizing that his twin was gone, it wasn't something he was ready to face. He hadn't been able to face Natsu until he'd been a Vindice and forced to, and he wasn't ready to face Natsu's death, at least, not for a long while.
Tsuna whipped the tears away from his eyes and then ran the back of his hand over both cheeks to make sure no tear marks could be seen. His cheeks were probably red, but Tsuna wasn't trying to hide that he had been crying. It was more of a closure, his mind saying to him that it was time to go, that once the crying was done it was time to do something more. It wasn't done yet. Tsuna still had something to do. He was fully aware of that. Tsuna couldn't die without finishing the very thing he had started by accepting Reborn's threat of 'scream and I'll drop you' so long ago.
He stood up.
As he stood, Tsuna grabbed the leftovers of what used to be the Sky ring, and then tossed them up in the air a few times, gauging their weight. Once Tsuna was sure that he would be able to do what he wanted properly, he turned to face the direction where the Sky pacifier was, laying on the ground where it had been dropped when he had asked for his present. Tsuna very quietly walked over; not drawing any eyes towards him because they were all mostly focused on Checkerface, including Tsuna's own guardians.
The brunet bent down and laid the pieces of the Vongola ring next to the pacifier, and then leaned back onto his bottom and put his legs out in front of him. He was closest to the tiny Arcobaleno, most notably, Verde and Mammon.
Well, I don't really know what to say, but I know that Natsu talked to you when trying to get me back to normal. I also know that you're connected to the pacifier and to the Vongola Sky ring. I know that Natsu could see you often too, and that you were always near us and Reborn. Giotto won't talk to me, I know that. I lost the opportunity for being a stupid fool, but you're different. You're not bound by the pacifier fully, right? Your spirit can wander, so...so, will you fix this? Not...not the ring, but maybe convince them of what you think about this? I think the Arcobaleno becoming vampires is the only thing that can truly end this cycle so...
Tsuna sighed, stopping his thoughts for a moment, and glanced over at Reborn and Luce. Reborn had lied to him earlier to make him angry and Luce hadn't ever told anything but the truth most of the time. He didn't know which one it would hurt more.
I can't see you, but I know you can make yourself appear like Giotto does. So help me or-or I'll break this pacifier too! I'll die with it, but if you don't help me then I don't care!
"You wouldn't do that. I know you better than that. Natsu thought about you nonstop, child." Sephira objected. "But I'll help you. I helped Natsu once, and it would be fair if I helped you to even out the score." She scowled. "I will not say that I am a saint. You understand what you're asking for, don't you?"
The others in the square didn't notice her, and her transparent form, so Tsuna guessed this was what Natsu had seen all those sunrises ago, on some day close to this where he had almost lost his twin to insanity.
Tsuna tried for the humor route. "You'll annoy me to death with me being the only one that can see you?"
Sephira glared. "No. You get to be the same as Natsu. Natsu's flame, his soul, everything, is stuck in that ring, just as every previous boss's soul was. You, since you've called upon the powers of the pacifier, and in extension, me, get to be stuck in that thing with me when you die. Have fun."
"You sound…annoyed." Tsuna didn't understand it. Sephira was supposed to be a more nicer version of Reborn, not this. "Why?"
"Every single universe is linked together with the Trinisette. You'll not only exist in this dimension, but every single parallel world that exists with that in it pacifier. Stuck observing idiots who hold onto the pacifier. Idiots."
Tsuna was expecting something worse, but, he thought, whatever because he wasn't planning on dying anytime soon. Well, within the next day "soon".
In the next two minutes, Tsuna saw Reborn stumble, Luce gasp, and one Checkerface with wide eyes. Sephira stepped in front of Reborn, stepped closer to him and whispered something Tsuna couldn't hear in his ear and then kneed him in the place Tsuna would never want to be hit in. Reborn sunk to the ground, confused and his mind halfway through processing the words he had heard in his ear. He knelt on the ground, not paying any bit of attention to Checkerface anymore. Clearly whatever Sephira had said had reached him.
None of them but Tsuna could see her. That much was clear to Tsuna when Luce's eyes were unfocused on the spot Reborn had sunk down to, and not Sephira herself. Checkerface was a different story. Tsuna was sure the man could sense her presence, having been near to the Trinisette pieces in their making, but it was unlikely he could see her since she strolled in front of him and took his hat off his head, quite likely scaring him if he would have showed any reaction.
For the others, the hat would have floated in the air. For Tsuna, he was seeing Reborn's mentor annoyed at all of their 'childish antics'. Sephira dropped the hat onto Luce's head, then spoke the words,
"It is the day of the dead. Accept it."
Then she was gone. Tsuna blinked as the pacifier in his hands glowed just a tiny bit.
"I suppose, if those idiots are okay with it, they can become immortals." remarked Reborn. "I'm not going to be the one to turn them. I don't want to drink their blood. Probably has some nasty disease."
Lal kicked him in the shin.
Verde stabbed him with a needle.
Hearing coughing, Tsuna directed his gaze to Yuni, who was getting up from her crater. Her outfit was in shreds, and she had taken the white cloak she had clasped around her shoulders and wrapped it around her chest and underneath her armpits so it looked like a dress. She had lost one boot, as it was mostly shredded on one side where she had impacted the cement. She kicked it off into the air and Byakuran flew down to her side, catching it as he did.
Her stomach and chest area wasn't in any way healed. Tsuna could still smell the blood (and see it) staining the front of the white cloak until most of it on her front was a dark red.
"Byakuran!" whined Yuni, complaining as Byakuran insisted on getting her healed first when his own wounds seemed more important to Yuni, considering in her mind that she thought herself unable to die. "It just took a while to shove my ribs back in the right place so they couldn't fall out and adjust to the pain! I'm fine! I haven't lost all my blood yet, and you're wounds are much worse for a human! You're the one that should be getting healed immediately!"
Byakuran blanched. "You're standing in a puddle of blood Yuni-chan!"
His sing-song voice was clearly gone, replaced with his incredulous attitude over the insane amount of blood at Yuni's feet and the state of her body. It wasn't something a mafia boss saw daily, and most people died from the wounds Yuni had unless they were Reborn or Luce or one of the Vindice, so Byakuran was notably concerned in Tsuna's opinion. Yuni was close to death, Tsuna was sure, she just didn't want to say anything about it now that the battle was done.
"Tsuuu-naaa!" Yuni hollered, her arms up in the air and her hands forming fists. She jumped up in down to show that she could move and wasn't as fragile as grass, but that seemed to irk Byakuran more. "Tell him that I'm not dying!"
"But you are, Yuni-chan~!" insisted Byakuran.
Tsuna didn't want to get into the discussion, because if he did, he'd have to walk closer, and if he came closer to Yuni, he'd be closer to Natsu again, and he'd see his twin's corpse again, and he didn't want that. Luce was blocking his view of it, and he didn't think he could handle it without securing down his emotions first and then barfing a few times for good measure and then walking over to see what hadn't changed with Natsu's dead body that was certainly a corpse and not anything close to alive.
So Tsuna shook his head, in the sort of disagreeing way, and that was enough for Byakuran. The white-haired teenager swept Yuni off her feet and carried her over to the sidelines where Hibari, Chrome, Mukuro, Shouchi and the gang were and ordered somebody to heal her.
Somewhere near the edge of the square, Squalo was retrieving Xanxus' lost arm.
Best to heal it when there was still pieces left of it, or so Reborn had told him long ago, and best to not leave evidence that someone had lost their arm in a very public place in a civilian town. Not exactly good for the whole secret mafia stuff, Tsuna agreed.
"Thank you, Sephira." whispered Tsuna.
The Sky pacifier pulsed lightly underneath his fingertips. Tsuna took that as a sign that she was waiting for him to do something entertaining (and not idiotic) so Tsuna slid the pacifier around his neck again with the chain attached to it and then walked over to Reborn to help the elder vampire up. Reborn hissed something nasty at the Sky pacifier, having figured out what had happened, and then gave a look at Checkerface.
"So stay a year as a baby and get ten as an adult?"
"It doesn't work-,"
"Yes it does. Make it work."
Reborn took the hat off Luce's head, which was easy since she was only a footstep away from him, and chucked it at Checkerface. "Make it work." He ordered.
The hitman turned to other Arcobaleno. "Blood banks are wonderful things. I say we raid a Vongola hospital."
By now, Squalo had given Xanxus back his arm, but, hearing this comment, Xanxus roared and hurled the arm at Reborn, where it slammed into the hitman's face and splattered a bunch of blood across his eyes and forehead.
Squalo yelled insults at his boss and then stomped over to retrieve the arm yet again.
Reborn laughed. He was forced to wipe the blood away as it dripped past his eyes, obscuring his vision, which made him stop the loud sound that seemed to break through any of the tension that might have still been lingering between doubt and satisfaction. Luce stood to her full height, and adjusted her dress so that it didn't threaten to sag down to the ground any further. She beckoned the Arcobaleno close.
"Which one of you would like to become immortal first?" she asked.
E N D
(There may be an epilogue, like, years after now, but probably not. No sequel either. I'm done with this story.)
(Story ended at: ~150000 words, ~205 reviews, 281 favs, 28 chapters) (Started: Nov. 28, 2014. Ended: July 2, 2015.)