Timeline: End of the Kokuyo/Mukuro Arc

"Just as despair can come to one only from other human beings, hope, too, can be given to one only by other human beings." -Elie Wiesel

All three of them had scars. Both physical and otherwise. There was no escaping what their supposed family put them through without some physical reminders. After he had slaughtered them and they had been taken in by another Famiglia the physical scars were allowed to heal, but the mental ones festered as his hatred for the Mafia, the world, grew.

He remembered the way Lancia's eyes softened every time the man caught a glimpse of his scars and his face would flash through a serious of complicated emotions Mukuro couldn't hope to understand. He remembered hating that look, believing it to be pity for the pathetic little runt their Famiglia decided to pick up out of the 'goodness of their hearts'. As if any member of the mafia had a heart.

Lancia loved his Famiglia and thought them to be perfect, but Mukuro knew better. He could see their greed. They had the Strongest Man in Northern Italy, but they wanted more. They thought they could claim him and use him.

(Maybe that was one of the reasons he picked him specifically to possess out of all the available bodies. He wanted Lancia to understand that he wasn't someone to pity. That he was the reckoning for the Mafia. The monster they created for themselves through their greed and lust for power.)

As he watched the Vongola...Tsuna laugh and play with the younger children in the yard, he couldn't shake the images of blood and fear. The realization that all his little tricks were found out. He had lost. The Vindice would send them back into that cold, cruel prison. This time for good. He had felt bitter acceptance as those chains shot towards them. He knew it was his own fault for hesitating with his plan to possess the Vongola...Tsuna. He convinced himself he had to be careful because of the Hitman, but in reality, the house was so warm and full of life. It was hard, to remember his hatred the longer they stayed.

But the chains never came.

Vong-Tsuna plopped down on the porch chatting happily with his mother. His arm reached back to scratch at his head in embarrassment over something she said. Mukuro felt his eyes linger on the thin appendage. The bandages had come off a few days ago and Mukuro felt his eyes constantly drawn to those arms.

The scars were pale and not really noticeable unless you were looking for them, probably due to a combination of the Hitman's healing Sun flames and whatever lotion the older Sawada brother applied to the wounds regularly. But, Mukuro's eyes were sharp and he could see the crisscrossing lines left behind by those horrid chains.

(He knew what they felt like from the first time they had been caught. He knew how bitterly cold they were. He knew how they seemed to cut into your very soul, leaving you breathless and weak.)

No one stood in the way of the Vindice and their prey.

That was a fact in the Mafia world. The Vindice were the law. They weren't always fair and could be quite petty when provoked, but if you were unlucky enough to catch their attention then there was little that could save you. If you were feeling especially bold you could try and talk your way into a deal, or trade, but no one stood up to them so directly. So boldly. Not for your Famiglia, and especially not for three strangers who openly admitted to wanting to kill you.

His hands curled tighter around the book in his lap. Long forgotten as his thoughts spiraled.

The mafia world was cruel. It took the innocent and corrupted them. It was built on the blood and suffering of the weak and it deserved to be destroyed completely. Every last member hunted down.

(He'd do it. He'd destroy them. Just like they destroyed him. They broke him in their endless search for a bigger, better weapon to throw around for power and fame.)

Tsuna twisted around, brown eyes sweeping across the other occupants in the room before landing on him. He smiled and gestured a little helplessly where the silver-haired bomber and Ken were arguing in the yard. It was probably over something insignificant again. The dynamite was already out, so explosions were undoubtedly soon to follow.

He looked down at the book and smoothed the page he had crumbled in his grip. When he looked back up Tsuna was between the boys frantically waving his arms as he tried to calm them down. Scars on full display.

(He was starting the understand that look Lancia always had around them even after they destroyed his Famiglia and Mukuro used him as his pawn. He was sure he had the same expression now when looking at Tsuna. Such complicated swirling emotions that he couldn't quite explain, but certainly weren't pity. Not in the slightest.)

Tsunayoshi Sawada was...a strange one. All of his initial observations and thoughts were shattered now in the wake of that day. He had thought the boy was so weak and pathetic. He had laughed nastily at the Vongola and how far they must have fallen to choose such an heir.

(More proof that they needed to be eradicated.)

But, Mukuro was wrong.

He didn't back down even when the chains cut into his flesh and the Vindice bore down on him with their righteous anger. He didn't move. Didn't falter. He defended them. Protected them when no one else had.

(Is this was harmonization felt like? This warm acceptance blooming in his chest, soothing his hatred and seeping between all his broken pieces, making him whole once more.)

Mukuro still hated the Mafia with all of his being, but…

He looked up, watching as the older Sawada swept through the chaos and fixed the perpetrators with a look for fighting near his prized plants. Ken and the bomber faltered immediately. Tsuna slumped to the grass in relief and the bomber hovered anxiously while Ken pretended not to care but kept glancing over the brunette.

He felt a small smile tug at his lips.

Maybe it wouldn't be so bad to stay here a while.

Mukuro has Complicated Feelings™. He's still working it all out.