If you asked someone like Sawada Tsunayoshi which was the most playful Flame-type a person could have and you'd get a confused looked and a sound effect like 'huh?' Give him a few more seconds and possibly clarifying the question and the young would be Decimo would be ever so confused about how to even begin answering the question.

Of course Sawada Tsunayoshi would first automatically exclude himself. That's sadly rather accurate. Sawada Tsunayoshi is not a playful person.

Neither are most other Skies. You can't say that about Xanxus or the Ninth; Xanxus learned from the Ninth and proves that filth teaches others how to be filth. The elder Sawada plays at being an honest worker but the fact the charade works on his audience is more due to the audience being so willing to overlook the inconsistencies than his abilities at lying. Byakuran, as much as you hate him, is rather playful; the type to joke as he's dying but he can be so very serious; you can't take over the world otherwise. Yuni on the other hand is by turns serious and playful. Dino is also devoted to his famiglia despite his comedic clumsiness when not around his famiglia; which limits it to just in Japan. This means that Skies aren't playful. He probably wouldn't even think about the category until later.

So Sawada Tsunayoshi wouldn't agree. In fact, he might think things like this:

Would it be Sun? Why else would Reborn continue with his costumes and conniving? But, his Onii-san wasn't that playful either. Too focused on boxing…

Would it be Storm? But Gokudera is so serious and Bianchi is, well, she's Poison Scorpion Bianchi. Neither of them are what Sawada Tsunayoshi would consider playful. He might even remember Belphegor. Belphegor is rather playful, but his games were 'sadism' and 'murder.'

Would it be Lightning? However Lambo is still a child even his older self is and both Levi and Gamma were ever dedicated to their Boss. Even Verde is so serious that you can't help but allow Fran to torment him somewhat.

Would it be Rain? Yamamoto was always willing to play and sometimes said things like 'Mafia Game' even now on occasion. (Privately you suspect that Yamamoto plays the game with all the seriousness it deserves once he realize what's on the line. It doesn't stop him from intentionally riling up and confusing people around him, which you do notice.) However Tsuna would only need to look at Squalo who relaxes with a relentless perfectionist's ill-grace when given time off. Even Basil of the CEDEF is more inclined to train than play around.

Would it be Cloud? There's Skull, who Tsuna empathizes with but Skull makes the attempt to be serious he can be. Stunt-work is not easy work, but the skills involved are useful even if his mafia efforts can be comical under the right conditions. Weakest of the Acrobaleno or not, Tsuna hasn't thought about how desirable a pawn that's unable to die in the mafia is. (Scalpels and burning veins, the scent of harsh chemical cleaners, excessively conditioned air tasting of old blood and bright lights with near omni-present pain would be bad enough but Skull's effectively immortal -tell us of your immortality and pick up the bill of suffering too- but there's bombs to be tossed on top of, poisoned gifts to pick up, traps to set up bodily and getting stuffed with enough lead in the form of bullets to give lead poisoning to half a dozen people.) However all it takes is Tsuna thinking of one Hibari Kyoya to think that Clouds aren't that playful at all unless the game is something like 'hide the corpses I've bitten to death' or 'chase and discipline the unruly herbivores.'

Which leaves Mist. Sawada Tsunayoshi would be willing to agree that I myself was playful. Chrome however doesn't seem such. Fran jokes around constantly, with fruit hats and deadpan snark alike. Mammon however is just greedy, so…

Sawada Tsunayoshi couldn't give the answer, even if he managed to guess some of it correctly. No wonder he's so terrible with his school work. No one has taught him how to not just look, but see. No one has taught him how to arrange points of relevance and draw conclusions. No one has taught him how toobserve. How to pay attention even when his life doesn't depend on it. Basic skills really.

Until he learns to pay attention, see things as they are and as they might be he will never know the answer, although it should be obvious.

The most playful type of people are those of the Mist.

So inconsequential in substance yet so strong and flexible. Shadows that become spiderwebs of steel in minds. Strings that can be pulled and plucked to create a masterpiece of sound, sensations and sights that cannot be forgotten.

Until then, Sawada Tsunayoshi will never notice that everyone plays games. Mists just are more likely to notice that they are and twist it or invent new ones to amuse them. Life can be a tedious game, even in the mafia after all. People are predictable, even those as eccentric as those within the mafia can be. As Mists are observant and deal with the mind, they learn people are predictable quickly.

Fran's games are the most obvious, as he's young yet. Scolding him hasn't yet cured such behavior and based on what you remember of that future-that-won't-be, that won't change either. It's true enough that he's playing in layers and you play along with the surface but that doesn't mean you're not aware of the layers.

Mammon's game is also rather obvious. Greed is a way of keeping score. Money and success often go hand in hand. So the more success Mammon has at gaining money the better Mammon must be at the game. If anyone asks why Mammon gathers money, you know the Acrobaleno will lie. You don't even have to wonder who Mammon plays against and the answer is self. Viper died when the Acrobaleno Curse happened to the strongest Esper in the world. Mammon works for the Varia who allow the illusion to continue such games with a fond tolerance because they play similar games too. When you hear that Mammon spent money on rings for the Varia in anticipation for the Representative Battles you smirk. New game right, new start Mammon or were you planning to go back to Viper? Perhaps chose another game?

Your own games are, now that you think about it, somewhat similar to your dim-witted apprentice's games. You are vastly more experienced with life, people and the afterlife so you remind yourself that Fran is still a child. You do have more variety than 'annoy' in your arsenal of thoughts and plans; there are connections to forge, people to trick and money to spend. You even have other games to play. There's vanity, selfishness, wisdom, and whimsy which are kept for use around your followers. There's also puppeteer, murderer and more which is kept for mafia matters. Unfortunately, there are some games that are more beyond you than others. 'Innocence' and 'weakness' are two of them.

Chrome however plays both very well. She also takes after you, but she's also a reflection of you. Unlike others, she does know you very well. All of your lives and more. Possession without use of the bullet is a very intimate state of being, more so than physical love could ever hope to attempt to reach.

She calls Sawada Tsunayoshi 'Bossu' and makes appearances of studying a language she already knows; possession means knowledge slides over and not just that of illusions. Sometimes Chrome is just Chrome and sometimes Chrome manipulates the remains of what was once Nagi to fool people. Any neglected child knows the importance of appearance, dear Chrome more than most.

Chrome plays a much longer game than satisfying immediate whims. She's developed patience as a child. She waits. She can wait. It's a very subtle game too, so subtle that if you didn't share body and mind frequently for over half a year that it was next to impossible to pick up. At times she can even fool you before you catch yourself.

It's amusing how so very well she fools people. How many people she's fooled. The amount of people is tremendous and is only going to go up with age. Sawada Tsunayoshi is easy to fool, but others are harder. You were so proud of her for managing to fool Reborn. You weren't kidding about being proud of her illusions; even the ones that don't require Mist Flames.

Of course she's uncomfortable with other's concerns and affections. She's never had any except for yours and that's on an entirely different level. Everything after that seems so fragile and worthless in comparison. Chrome can't let people know that so she dangles Nagi's remains and they grasp for them, happy over the leftovers of the life she once lived. Chrome's never had friends before becoming Chrome and your followers aren't exactly happy that they get a frail knock-off of yourself. They see a lot of Nagi and not a lot of Chrome.

She has the Vongola fooled about that, the girls that attached themselves to Sawada Tsunayoshi who have little to no clue about how the mafia would use and abuse them if the Vongola wasn't dedicating itself to keep them safe. They think she's 'one of them' now. She never was. Nagi is dead. They have a dead girl they claim as one of them. Chrome just wears Nagi's skin.

Then there's her physical frailty. That's something that has been made obvious about her numerous times. They're reminded of that every time they see the eye patch. She needs to use illusions to survive. Her lack of those illusionary organs will kill her. She winds up needing medical treatment on a frequent basis.

They haven't even noticed Chrome's lack of depth-perception issues.

Chrome uses her physical frailty as a weapon in its own right. She needs illusions to survive, that is true. The Vongola however do not know which organs she needs and therefore no one else does either; such records are unacceptable weakness. There are no records of Nagi in the hospital to look for, or any other leads for the Vongola to trace are also carefully erased. Her parents' lack of concern is a gift of its own… You gave her that gift of freedom from her old life and the ability to use that freedom and your gifts, and she uses them marvelously and to great effect.

Nagi is used to suffering. Chrome uses that ability to endure what she wants and needs to for her game. Daemon Spade was a fool; he had Nagi but not Chrome. The barrier preventing communication between the outside and the Shimon's sacred island is no hindrance to the creative mind so long as you're aware of it and can work around it. Chrome dangled Nagi as bait and Spade took Nagi's body to manipulate to his own ends; Chrome and you shared minds, so there is no barrier between that unless you want there to be. Unfortunately that left Chrome rather unaware of what Nagi was doing in her body, under Spade's control. There's a reason why you were able to figure out what Spade had done so quickly; Chrome told you what Spade had told Nagi.

However, Chrome's best masterwork to date is that dramatic episode after that during the Representative Battles. Sometimes you forget that Nagi's mother was such a wonderful actress. Chrome was being Nagi so much that it irritated you, conforming to the role of the infamous Rukudo Mukuro.

Kicking Nagi out of Kokuyo was easy; she wasn't needed and you told Chrome that. Chrome had smiled tearfully at that and you just watched as she packed her things, filled out all the paperwork and transferred into Namimori Middle, twisting details and minds so to be transferred to Sawada Tsunayoshi's class. You don't even feel jealous or concerned that she hoodwinks her way into an apartment that has more modern facilities than Kokuyo Health Land; it also has neighbors and being a teenage wastrel with money suits the role you've carved out in the Vongola's mind.

Having a role to play up is almost as much fun as finding out all unconscious illusions that feed into the role and playing it up. Once such a role is established, it's not going to go away. People, especially people like Sawada Tsunayoshi don't want things to change, but they do.

Chrome is carving her own with a delicacy and precision that is her signature; she uses her frailty as a weapon and it wasn't until she was slowly dragging out her own demise and it's so obvious that you say something. It was masterfully planned out, dearest Chrome. Finding your fighting spirit from Reborn's words after trudging out in your boots holding onto the trident. Chrome had even fooled you, and that subtly and ability you praised her for.

Later I watch you interact with Sawada Tsunayoshi and the rest of those that are around them and you realize what your Chrome is doing.

She's giving Nagi the illusion of life. As Chrome.

You're so proud of her. In some ways, Chrome is your equal. In some ways, she's your inferior. In some ways, she is your superior. A warped reflection of yourself and your previous avatar. Chrome has the body of Nagi, the habits of a neglected child and a brazenness to be breath-taking ruthless and whatever else she needs to be for her goals.

Chrome is playing a game with the remains of Nagi.

She's playing pretend.

The question is do how many see the game and not the reality?

Not even you're sure sometimes that you do.

"Mukuro-sama?" Even, now, she demurs.

"What is it darling Chrome?"

"What are you thinking about?"

"I'm thinking about games of pretend and how many Nagi must have played."

"But, Mukuro-sama, you know Nagi is dead. I'm Chrome Dokuro."

"Yes, I'm quite aware of that."

Sometimes, especially lately it's harder and easier to see the differences between his Chrome and the Chrome that calls Sawada Tsunayoshi her Bossu. She's getting even better, even when you were so proud of her already.

"Sometimes you forget though, Mukuro-sama."

"Oya, oya. Chrome, you've become so cruel." You say as you play along.

Mists are always playing. They're the most playful Flame. The weakest in direct combat so elaborate games of illusions were formed from the Mist. Some games are more cruel than others. Some are more real than others.

Some play pretend, but don't we all? Chrome just does it better than everyone else and doesn't even need Mist Flames to cast such an illusion as she does.

You can't wait to see what she might play next.


Unbeta'd. Written on Mukuro's birthday for him. Was supposed to turn out differently but I like it anyway.