Author's Note: I'm posting this today in honor of Uchiha Itachi's birthday, which, according to Wikipedia is today. This was written with the intent to be a three part story, however, if those other parts will be written or not are questionable. I hope that ya'll enjoy and the character's aren't too OOC.

Disclaimer: I neither own nor profit from Katekyo Hitman Reborn or Naruto. I also don't own Rascal Flats' "My Wish".

Part One:

1.

Uchiha Itachi had succumbed to a disease that had caused him much pain during his life after his beloved younger brother defeated him, still believing him to be the bastard that had murdered their entire family for power. It had been exactly as he had wanted.

He had not, however, foreseen having been drug back from beyond the grave, and his brother discovering the truth of what Itachi's actions during life. Not that it truly mattered at that point, he was still dead.

So, when the reanimation jutsu had been stopped, he certainly had not been anticipating his eyes ever opening for a third time.

But for better or worse, and with his luck it was probably worse, Uchiha Itachi's soul was cast from the afterlife into a new, innocent form (if anything about him could actually be called innocent after all he had done –even in the name of his village).

He spent what felt like an eternity in a pitch black darkness that surrounded him like a cocoon. And he emerged into his new life in complete silence, near death and two months early. His birth complications resulted in numerous medical bills and his sorry excuse of a sperm donor had disappeared mysteriously before his birth leaving his new mother in debt and a single mother.

She was drawn and haggard each day she came to visit him in his sterile environment in the hospital (from the words she spoke to him every day, completely unaware that he understood everything she said, he learned that she loved him beyond measure and was struggling with three jobs so that she could support them).

Already it was so different from his past life (and he was only six weeks old), and yet, he had (almost) never felt such guilt, or so utterly loved by any individual (except by Sasuke when he was younger and that was more admiration than true love).

If he managed to survive to grow up in this life he would make sure his loved ones knew he loved them in this life, he promised himself.

Inoue Kazumi was allowed to be released after two months in the hospital.

2.

Shortly before his first birthday he perceived a change in his mother's behavior. She had quit two of her jobs (how they could afford that he had no idea since they were just barely managing month to month) and she was slipping out for several hours at night after 'putting him to bed'. During the afternoon she took naps with him, which had never happened before due to her work schedule.

At first he feared that she had begun taking unsavory jobs in the red light district, but soon had to retract that idea, after she came home one night reeking of fresh blood. She entered his room and cried confessing (to what she believed to a child who was asleep and unable to understand if awake) that she had been taking jobs for the mafia as a hit-person and while she was killing some truly unforgivable individuals, she felt awful about touching her 'innocent baby with her blood stained hands'.

If only she knew.

He felt terribly guilty that his presence drove her to such measures (and was slightly relived that his original theory was wrong) he could not regret being reborn. His existence was the only thing that was keeping his new mother sane, and he couldn't begrudge anything that made such a kind woman happy, even himself and all the burdens that followed.

His first birthday was marked with a small cake that he indulgently smashed between his fingers and smeared across his face childishly for his mother's benefit. She loved taking pictures of him doing 'childlike' things so she could show them to him when he was older. She had the habit of printing them (even back when they didn't have much money to waist on trivial frivolities) and carefully writing the date and occasion on the back before organizing them in an album that she stored in a protective plastic container.

Most of the pictures she had taken were ridiculous and embarrassing but he couldn't be bothered to care.

Besides the cake, he was presented with a soft plushy toy that was an akita dog. In his previous life he had never really been partial to dogs but he did find that he enjoyed petting the soft fur of the stuffed animal (an act that his mother took pleasure in taking pictures of).

He was enjoying being able to act like a child, his childhood previously had been short lived and filled with heaping expectations of being the Uchiha heir. He may have experienced near poverty in this life and drove his mother into the underworld of society (for he had quickly realized during his stay in the hospital that chakra did not exist here and there were no ninjas – he would have heard the medical nin yelling if that had been the case, at escaping shinobi patients), and he might have a weaker body earlier in this life, but he still enjoyed the benefits and unconditional love of his mother.

He liked this life.

3.

When he was nearing his second birthday, his mother arrived home after one of her 'jobs' one day injured and covered in her own blood (in opposition to the other people's blood she was usually speckled with). She had apparently botched a hit and the client was most displeased.

So they were taking evasive measures to ensure their safety (aka. "getting the hell out of here", so said his mother – he personally liked how he phrased it better).

They were on the first flight out of Japan his mother could find tickets to, and then headed to a place called Italy, where his mother seemed to think she could find more jobs.

She wasn't wrong.

(During this time he also managed to get his first look at a map of this new world he had been born into and he discovered that it was …massive, to say the least. This made him want to gather more information. Time to convince his mother to 'teach him' how to read more than his name.)

4.

His mother never commented on the fact that he devoured books as soon as she brought them to him. She never said anything about how he learned Italian much faster than she did after only looking at one Italian textbook. (And soon after, French, German, Russian, English, Chinese, and Korean, he found the multitude of languages that existed in this world fascinating). She only smiled and looked at him with a face that glowed with pride and took several pictures of his little form pouring over books that were nearly as large as him.

There was no pressure to do better, no stress that he was doing something wrong, only pure unaltered pride at what he was able to accomplish (which was really more than any normal child should be able to) and acceptance.

He loved it. He loved her and he made sure she knew it every day. He would never again make someone he cherished feel like he didn't care. He wouldn't do it to them and he couldn't do it to himself. Not again.

5.

So he grew, he learned much about his new world, and he made his mother happy beyond belief. She slowly grew a reputation in the underground society of Italy and the outings and strolls in parks slowed, but he didn't mind, though she worried constantly about it.

"Kazumi-chan, it's not good for you to be cooped inside all day long. You are a growing boy that needs fresh air and playing with children your own age would be good for you." His mother pouted at her much too understanding child.

"Hn. It's for my safety that I can't though. Besides I really don't want to play with anyone my age." He responded looking up from his book.

"How would you know that? It's not like you've ever played with other children."

"Hn." Was his response. She had him there. With one look in her dark eyes he could tell that she was plotting something.

He returned to his book to contemplate the similarities between a raven and a writing desk.

6.

Mafia Land. His mother had brought him to some place called Mafia Land. Wasn't she trying to keep people from the world she worked in from attacking him? Why did she bring him to someplace that was crawling with the people she wanted to keep him away from? It was official, women, in any world, were completely incorrigible.

Worst of all? He had somehow gotten separated from her and due to his…lack of height, he was unable to find her (talk about stereotypical lost child at the grocery store, now it was lost child at Mafia Land). While he was aware that children were supposed to stay put when lost, he really didn't consider himself a child, no matter how much he enjoyed the benefits of having a childhood and being able to behave like a child for his mother's benefit. So, he wandered about the amusement park area in search of his mother.

7.

The copper taste of blood filled his mouth. He nearly choked on his own liquid life while coughing before he could expel it. Clutching his chest he, bent over and spit out the crimson substance. Once he managed to recover he noticed the presence of someone who must have appeared in the small wooded area of Mafia Land he had found to cough up his own blood in private. So much for private.

8.

He wiped his blood coated hands on the grass before turning his attention to the silent wide eyed child that was staring at him.

"Shouldn't you be with your parents?" That question got the white haired child's attention (though he really shouldn't call the other boy a child since he looked to be his own age).

"Voi! I'm old enough to take care of myself." The boy yelled loudly, former speechlessness completely gone.

"Hn." He scoffed.

"Voi! You're the one who needs to be with his parents! Sick brats need their parents to look after them unlike me."

His brow twitched. "If anyone is the brat it's you, not me. And I'm fine."

It was the white haired boy's turn to scoff. "Yeah, right you are. Coughing up blood in the woods by yourself means every damn thing is perfect." The boy narrowed his gray eyes and looked over Kazumi, "And I'm pretty sure you're the brat, with how tiny you are. Bet I'm older. March 13, 19XX. You?"

Kazumi glanced to the side. "Hn."

The boy grinned, showing off some sharp teeth that reminded him vaguely of Kisame. "Voi! I'm right!"

Kazumi's silence on the matter was answer enough apparently. "June 9, 19XX."

"Knew I was right!" Kazumi was treated to another glance. "So what are you doing by yourself, brat, besides being sick? Got separated from your mommy, brat?"

"Hn." He was really not liking this conversation. Acting like a child for four years had obviously degraded his conversational skills if a normal four year old child could get the upper hand on him.

"Right again!" Did this boy say nothing in a normal volume? "We'll explore this place together until we find her, brat!" the white haired boy declared without asking. He grabbed Kazumi's hand and began dragging him back to the more populated area filled with food carts, rides, and festivities. Kazumi just let him, he was rather intrigued (though a little embarrassed about being called out), besides he didn't think the kid would hesitate to track him down if he tried to get away.

"Voi! I'm Squalo Superbi! What's your name, brat?" asked the boy as Kazumi was drug behind him.

"Inoue Kazumi."

"Voi! That is so weird!"

"Hn. Like yours isn't." Kazumi scoffed.

"Voi! Brat!"

This just might be the start of a friendship (though it might not be a beautiful one).

(Oh, well, his mom would be happy at the least. Once he found her.)

9.

Kazumi was drug all over the island by Squalo. They rode rollercoasters (with Squalo yelling at the top of his lungs the entire time while Kazumi sat there completely blank faced – though Squalo, who was quickly learning the subtle meanings of Kazumi's expressions (much too fast for his comfort) knew that Kazumi had enjoyed the rides). They played shooting games (that Squalo turned out to be terrible at, resulting in him screaming at the stall employee that had drawn a gun before Kazumi had managed to pull Squalo away, thankfully the man's aim had been worse than even Squalo's).

When they had become tired (and Kazumi felt that if they didn't stop he would have another fit) they sat down and ate the dango that they had tracked down a vendor to purchase it from.

Over all, Kazumi thought as he munched on his sweet, sweet dango, he had had fun. He hadn't anticipated that hanging out with anyone his physical age would be enjoyable. But then again, what did he really know about having friends? He had only had two in his previous life and he had only had the opportunity to 'hang out' with one of them.

"Voi! Brat!?" Squalo asked, attracting Kazumi's attention.

"Hn?"

"Is that scary woman your mom?"

Sure enough, there was his mother, looking distinctly unhappy.

Not good. Very not good.

He really hated upsetting her.

10.

His mother listened to their side of the story before commenting. Her expression was visibly softer and happier by the time they had finished their story (minus his little…incident, they had glossed over that part).

"Oh sweetheart! I'm so glad you've made a friend." She said beaming at the two of them. "However, if you ever scare me like that again- you won't leave the house again until you're eighty…alright?"

That smile his mother had said that with was…disturbing, would be his word for it. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a slight shudder run through Squalo, he apparently wasn't the only one who thought so.

His mother turned her attention to Squalo, who took a precautionary step back. "Squalo Superbi, was it?" The white haired boy nodded nervously. "Right then, take me to your parents."

That sounded really ominous for some reason.

11.

His mother and Katarina Superbi hit it off spectacularly.

Who knew a free-lance hit-woman and a mafia doctor could get along so well? (Squalo's mother worked at the mafia land hospital and his father was a well-respected blacksmith that sold his wares on the island as well, which explained why Squalo was so obsessed with swords at such a young age.)

The two women had already begun scheduling play dates for their sons (both women agreeing that their sons needed more social interaction). While this wasn't inherently a bad thing, they had come up with the puzzling notion that signing up their two four year old boys for dancing lessons was a brilliant idea.

While Kazumi didn't really care (and suspected that this adventure would result in a lot of picture taking from both women to record the event), he felt that Squalo wouldn't be as indifferent to the idea as he was.

"Voi! What the hell! Have you lost your mind, woman!"

Yeah…

12.

Music played as the two boys danced (though, to Kazumi it felt more like they were just spinning in a circle to music, but what did he know about dancing?). Their mothers were to the side of the room giggling together and each one clutching a camera in their hands, just as Kazumi had suspected would happen.

It had only been a week since Kazumi and Squalo had met on Mafia Island (he and his mother had returned home for the week but were back in time for the weekend lessons). So far, the lesson hadn't been horrible even though Kazumi had been regulated to the female position ("Voi! Your hair is longer! I'm not going to be the girl!") but Squalo…

"Hn."

"What!" Squalo said, his brows puckered together as he concentrated on moving his feet.

"Stop stepping on my toes."

"Voi! Then move them out of my way!"

"Hn." Kazumi had his most unimpressed face. "You are the one leading, so it's your fault."

Squalo got flustered. "V-voi!" and proceeded to, again, step on Kazumi's feet.

Ugh. His mother had better get him the dango she promised him after this.

13.

"Voi! I don't understand why we have to take these girly lessons! I want to be the best swordsman in the world, not a damned dancer!" Squalo complained during one of the lessons, in what for the white haired boy was a mummer, but a normal conversational tone for everyone else in the world.

Kazumi wondered if he should even bother responding to that obviously rhetorical statement.

With a sigh, which got him a glare from Squalo, he tried to make the loud mouth understand. "You practice your swordsmanship with your dad, right?"

"Of course!"

"Of course, " Kazumi said agreeably, though he personally thought that being the best wasn't necessarily the best thing. After only being friends with Squalo for a little over two months, he was well aware that the other boy loved swords and wanted to be the best in the future. "In how much of that practice is footwork necessary?"

"Voi! Footwork is key to a solid-!" Squalo cut off his exuberant rant as he realized the point Kazumi was making. "Damn it!"

Kazumi wondered if he should be concerned that a normal four year old cussed as much as Squalo did. He shrugged internally and decided that it didn't really matter, he had already become attached to the boy and Squalo wouldn't be Squalo if he was quiet and polite.

"Hn. I can reasonably assume that your footwork has improved recently, hasn't it?"

Squalo's face tinged pink.

"Hn."

"Don't 'Hn' me! And stop smirking! Even though it doesn't look like it I can tell you are! Stop it!"

Kazumi smiled, just a bit, and poked Squalo on the forehead with two fingers.

Squalo paused and blinked at the action, before – "Voi! Don't poke me, Kazumi!"

14.

And so life fell into a leisurely pattern for Kazumi. He would study during the week, whatever subject that caught his fancy (he was officially 'home schooled' but didn't really follow any set curriculum), while his mother was at her 'normal' job (she was a waitress at a café – which was strangely how she had met his sperm donor in the beginning). When she came home they would watch random t.v shows and occasionally catch a game of baseball that his mother seemed to love. Before he went to bed (and before his mother would leave to go to her real job) he would call Squalo and chat, or rather Squalo would nearly blow his eardrums out and Kazumi would silently listen and occasionally add his opinion or comment.

His mother didn't take jobs –of either kind- on the weekend so they would head off to Mafia Land to visit the Superbis so that Katarina and his mother could spend time together as well as Kazumi and Squalo. Their dancing lessons progressed much to Squalo's grumbling – though he had admitted that he was more agile now after he had begun the lessons- and they had gotten quite good together. (Their mother's had to have gathered pictures numbering in the hundreds, and yet they still continued to take more). Once the teacher had tried to split them up to give the little girls taking lessons a chance to dance with a male their size – let's just say Squalo managed to make twenty girls quit in tears. The teacher never tried that again.

Occasionally, his mother would have to go off on a week-long hit that was out of the country. During those times he was left with the Superbis. While Squalo's parents were at work, Kazumi would work with Squalo on his languages or any other subject he had trouble with. When the elder Superbis got home, Squalo's father would whisk Squalo off to the dojo to train, leaving Kazumi with Katarina. Katarina would tell him about the different patients she had seen that particular day, and explain the healing procedure to him. While he enjoyed listening to the different medical practices, he always had the distinct feeling that she was withholding some information from him. (Eventually, he used stealth tactics to acquire intelligence about the 'Dying Will Flames' that were used within the mafia. Aka, he eavesdropped on them. He later on discovered that apparently, every human on the planet possessed a Dying Will but not every human had active flames…but strangely he didn't have flames at all as far as he could tell, but then again he didn't exactly know what he was feeling for so, he just might not be able to recognize theses 'flames').

Over the years he slowly felt the return of his chakra and sharingan (it was disturbing that those cursed eyes could follow him into a new life and body, no matter how much he looked like himself in his previous life), and his studying slowly lessened as he began to retrain himself. He was, by nature, a pacifist. However, even in this would without shinobi, there were dangers that he wanted to be strong enough to protect his loved ones from. So, he trained. And slowly he began to regain his former strength; he also regained his former weaknesses. (He managed to hide the blood from everyone even Squalo, who over time had forgotten the specifics of how they met).

No one was aware of his physical training or fighting prowess, and he didn't feel the need to enlighten anyone either.

Otherwise, his years passed rather uneventfully, until his mother introduced him to her boyfriend.

15.

He wasn't surprised when his mother introduced him to Yamamoto Tsuyoshi soon after his seventh birthday. If anything it surprised Kazumi that it hadn't happened sooner. His mother was a beautiful woman, inside and out. Any man would be fortunate to have her love (he was lucky to be her son), and only a fool would let her go (a fool like his sire). So, he supposed that he could honestly say he had been expecting something like this to happen.

Yamamoto-san was an accomplished swordsman (what was up with him meeting swordsmen?) that was a fairly successful hitman for a small famiglia that had Japanese ties. Kazumi's mother had met him at her 'normal' job and accidently again at her real job. Apparently, despite their initial wariness of each other due to their same profession, they had managed to hit it off after several casual meetings and had been dating for about a year. His mother had been withholding the information of his existence to protect Kazumi in case Yamamoto turned on her, but she had discovered that he was a truly good man and decided to let the two most important men in her life meet. (It hurt him that his mother hadn't told him that she was dating anyone and it made him re-evaluate himself since he wasn't able to detect that she was hiding anything from him.)

After introducing them both, his mother went into the kitchen to start making dinner.

An awkward silence fell as the man looked at Kazumi, who was waiting with a blank expression to see what the man would do.

"Ah, sou…Kazumi-kun," Yamamoto-san scratched the back of his head as the man searched for something to say. "Do you like baseball like your okaa-san?"

"Hn. It's better than most sports." He was not going to make this easy for the man. His mother deserved the best, and if this man wasn't up to par, Kazumi would remove him. (He wouldn't kill the man but he would get rid of him, one way or another).

"Oh…do you like sushi, Kazumi-kun?"

Kazumi gave him a deadpan stare.

"Well, I suppose you wouldn't be Japanese if you didn't like sushi. Guess that wasn't the best question… So, what is your favorite food?"

"Dango."

Yamamoto smiled widely. "Is that so? I happen to know how to make dango, would you like to learn this weekend?"

Tempting offer very tempting.

"No." His face turned slightly pouty, though he knew the expression made him look mad to anyone who didn't know him.

The man looked taken aback. "O-okay then. If you don't want to –"

Then his mother walked back into the room laughing, cutting Yamamoto-san off. "Oh, he would like that very much I imagine. Wouldn't you Kazumi? Unfortunately, he can't on the weekends. Weekends are reserved for his dancing lessons and playing with Squalo."

"Squalo?" Yamamoto-san asked, looking very relieved to have Kazumi's mother back in the room. "Is Squalo a friend of yours Kazumi-kun?"

"Hn." Kazumi nodded.

"And you two take dancing lesson together? Do you enjoy them?" His mother once more retreated from the room, and Kazumi couldn't think of any reason she had come back to the living room in the first place.

"Yes." He indeed had begun to enjoy dancing over the years. His mind went blank while dancing and he was allowed to just let his body move mindlessly with the music. He and Squalo were quite proficient, and Squalo's father had even contemplated taking up dance to improve his footwork as well.

"Hm." Yamamoto-san said, rubbing his chin before continuing. "I'm starting to get that you're a man of few words, Kazumi-kun. I can appreciate that. Do you think that if I came with you and your mother this weekend, Squalo-kun would want to learn to make dango with us? Or if not dango something else, I'm quite a good chef, so I could probably try and teach you and your friend to cook just about anything if you like."

Kazumi thought back to Squalo's attempts at cooking, well, anything. They were not pleasant memories, Squalo couldn't cook to save his life, in fact, he was sure that some of what Squalo had (attempted) to help Katarina cook could take someone's life. But if this man was willing to try and teach two seven year olds how to cook something, just so he could get along with his girlfriend's son, well, he would give the man a chance.

"Hn. Dango." Kazumi said.

Yamamoto-san looked perplexed for a moment, and then the realization that Kazumi had agreed spread a smile across his face. "Okay, I'll make sure to have the ingredients ready before we leave for the weekend, and I'll have to check with your mom to see when that is."

The man continued to ask questions, and receive very short (but gradually growing longer) answers from Kazumi. He began to understand that Kazumi took a while to warm up to someone, and was especially cautious around the older male because he was dating his mother.

After a great dinner, during which his mother and Yamamoto-san chatted with ease belaying their closeness, Yamamoto-san pulled Kazumi aside to speak with him. The man crouched on his knees, getting at Kazumi's level, which he appreciated (it made it easier to use the sharingan if he decided it was necessary), and began to speak. "I know we just met today Kazumi-kun, and I realize that a strange man coming into your life probably isn't something you want, but… Please understand, Kazumi-kun, I really do love your mother, I would do anything for her. I've considered quitting the mafia life and proposing to her. I'm very serious about her. And though I wish I had met you earlier, so that we could have been more accustomed to each other, don't doubt that I do want to get to know you. After all, you are the love of my life's son. So, I would appreciate it if you would let me have the chance to get to know you, if you think that's possible."

Kazumi left the man in suspense for several minutes as he ran over the words Yamamoto-san had said. He could tell the words were sincere, and from what he had seen at dinner the man did make his mother very happy…a happiness that he as her son was unable to provide. He found it difficult to believe that many men would have reacted as well as Yamamoto-san had about discovering their girlfriend of a year had been hiding the fact that she had a son…

"Fine." Yamamoto-san smiled, radiating pure happiness.

"Thank you, Kazumi-kun."

"Hn. If you hurt her, I will ensure that you regret it."

Yamamoto-san nodded seriously, his smile fading. "I'll gladly let you, if I do anything to hurt her."

"Hn." Kazumi was glad they were on the same page.

16.

"Voi! Your mom did what!" Squalo yelled through the phone, that night after Yamamoto-san went home.

"She's been dating someone for a year. He didn't know about me and I didn't know about him."

Squalo snickered. "When you put it like that it makes it sound like she was cheating on the two of you. But damn! Your mom is such a badass!"

"Hn." Kazumi had to agree with that.

"Voi! You know it! So, this Yamamoto- your mom's boyfriend, is coming with you guys this weekend? Going to teach us to make dango!?" Squalo laughed, as he did everything else, loudly. "He must not know that I can't cook worth a damn! But I guess you'll enjoy it. You love dango!"

"I do. Do try to not make a mess of it this weekend."

"Yeah, yeah! I'll try to keep from ruining your precious dango!"

17.

That weekend proved to be a learning experience. It turned out that the only thing that Squalo could cook right was dango, while…Yamamoto-san told Kazumi he had no idea how Kazumi had done what he had to the dango.

Kazumi pouted, but Squalo, once he had stopped laughing at Kazumi's inability to make his favorite food, promised him that he would make Kazumi dango anytime he wanted (since it was the only thing the white haired boy could cook). Kazumi cheered up a bit and gladly took Squalo up on his offer, requesting a batch every time he saw Squalo.

"Voi! But we always go out for dango after our lessons anyway!" Squalo protested. This resulted in Kazumi faking a pout to draw Squalo near. Once his friend was close enough…

"Voi! How many times have I told you?! Stop poking me in the forehead, Kazumi!"

Kazumi smiled and stole a dango from Squalo's batch (his own being utterly unacceptable for human consumption). Overall, very good weekend.

18.

"Kazumi-kun?"

"Hn?" Kazumi acknowledged, Yamamoto-san. It had been a few months since his mother had introduced the older man and her son, and Yamamoto-san had become a regular in their home and during their weekend trips. He had even secured himself a spot in his mother's photo album (courtesy of the weekend Kazumi learned of inability to make dango).

"Listen, Kazumi-kun… I realize this might be a bit fast for you, but- I plan on proposing to your mother, and I would like to have your blessing." Yamamoto-san said, looking at Kazumi dead in the eye (oh, how simple it would be to place the man under a genjustu…).

This…wasn't entirely unexpected since his mother and Yamamoto-san had been dating for over a year. And while Kazumi didn't entirely like the idea of his mother getting married to a man he had only known a few months- he knew that Yamamoto-san was a good man, who truly would do right by his mother. Plus Yamamoto-san made his mother happy, and, as he had previously realized: he couldn't hate anything that made her happy (that realization had also extended to Squalo as well).

"You plan to quit the mafia if she says yes correct?"

"Yes, I've already discussed it with my boss. I was thinking that we could move to my home town, Nanimori, Japan."

"How do you plan to support my mother?"

Yamamoto internally sweat-dropped, this was like talking to the father of the bride. "I plan to open a sushi restaurant. I'm a licensed sushi chef."

"Fine. You have my blessing to ask her." Kazumi's eyes flashed red. "But if you ever make her unhappy, you won't live to regret it."

He left the room, leaving Yamamoto-san wondering if he had imagined the young boy's eyes turning a sinister shade of red.

The next day Yamamoto-san arrived at Kazumi and his mother's apartment before his mother got off work for the evening. He was let in by Kazumi and proceeded to prepare a romantic meal for the woman he was in love with. When Kazumi's mother arrived home, he was in his room reading, already having ate something Yamamoto-san had prepared him in advance. It wasn't long before his mother was screaming, "Yes! Yes! Of course, I'll marry you Tsuyoshi! Yes!"

Well, whatever made his mother that happy, couldn't be a bad thing in his books.

19.

"You're what!" Squalo screamed in surprise, smashing Kazumi's toes like he hadn't done in years.

Flinching, but continuing the dance (they had done the waltz, salsa, samba, and many more over the years), "Watch where you're stepping."

"Who cares about that?!"

"I do." Kazumi said but was promptly ignored.

"What do you mean you're moving to Japan?! Voi!"

Kazumi huffed. "I told you on the phone. Yamamoto-san proposed to mom and we're moving to Japan."

"Why!?"

Kazumi gave Squalo a blank look. "You do recall that all of us are Japanese?"

"You're half Italian!"

He was, though he really didn't look like it. "That's beside the point." Kazumi sighed. "Okaa-san and Yamamoto-san are retiring from the mafia. Though some famiglias do have connections in Japan the number of mafia that are actually there are much lower. So we are leaving." It also helped that the clients that his mother had infuriated years before had been wiped out by a rivaling family (it had been a yakuza family).

As much as he hated to leave Squalo, he didn't really have much choice in the matter, he was only seven, and he didn't want to leave his mother (his only family) either.

Squalo looked very upset. "Voi! But we won't be able to have lessons! Or hang out on weekends anymore!"

"I know."

"This is fucking awful!"

Kazumi couldn't help but agree with that statement.

After that Kazumi convinced his mother to allow him to stay over at Squalo's house until the wedding (and the immediate departure for Japan that followed). She had been hesitant, and questioned him if he were angry at her for getting married.

"I'm not angry at you. He makes you happy. I'm just sad to be leaving Squalo."

"Oh, my baby! I'm so sorry, I know this is difficult for you, but now you can be pen-pals. And I promise that you can call him every week to keep in touch, don't worry about the international service fees." (When, he relayed this information to Squalo it did cheer the boy up, if even just a little.)

20.

All together Kazumi stayed with the Superbis for two months, it was odd how clingy Squalo acted the entire time, but it could be excused, even though it did upset Kazumi to see his friend so unlike himself.

One night while Kazumi was staying with Squalo, the other boy asked, "Voi! Why do you keep your hair so long!? It makes you look like a girl, Kazumi!"

"Hn. I once heard that if you want a wish to come true, you can't cut your hair or it won't happen."

Squalo gave him a look that indicated the white haired boy thought that was crazy. "Voi! Is that some weird Japanese legend?!"

"I am not sure. Just something I've read, but I can't remember where."

"What's your wish?!"

Kazumi didn't respond but reached towards Squalo and poked him on the forehead with two fingers.

"Voi! I've told you a million times! Don't poke me, Kazumi! Stop smirking!"

Kazumi just smiled.

21.

His mother got married two months after his eighth birthday.

The wedding was short, simple, and sweet. His mother didn't stop smiling the entire time as he walked her down the aisle.

They were on a plane to Japan first thing in the morning. (Kazumi got the feeling that they had used his two months at the Supebis as their honeymoon).

22.

Soon after they had settled in Japan, Kazumi's mother got him to take a placement test to see where he was from all of his self-education. Every adult, other than his mother, was astonished when he had easily scored high enough to advance directly on to college. Kazumi decided to help out Yamamoto-san in his shop until he was at least ten, before he left to further his education formally. That way he could continue his shinobi training for a few more years without having to worry too much about school.

Every day Kazumi sat down at the laptop his mother had bought for him after the move and emailed Squalo. Once a week the two friends were allowed to call each other.

About six weeks after Kazumi had arrived in Japan Squalo informed him that he was going to be enrolled in the Mafia Academy. While Kazumi found that that was a clear indication of what his friend was going to do with his future, he found himself unable to say anything bad about Squalo's choice. So he merely told Squalo that he had better continue to keep in contact with him, which led Squalo to reply that if Kazumi made any other friends than him, Squalo would come and chop them up into little pieces. Kazumi was beginning to realize that it was not only him who was a little overprotective (possessive) of those he cared about.

Exactly two months after the move Kazumi's mother and Yamamoto told him that he was going to have a little brother.

The news horrified him. What if he ended up traumatizing this brother just as he had done Sasuke? What if his little brother hated him? What if he killed him? What if he wasn't strong enough to protect him?

23.

The conversation he had with Squalo that night went like this:

"…so, this idiot blond kid is so useless! He tripped over nothing during the obstacle course and landed face first in the snake pit!"

"Hn?"

"Oh, yeah! My other classes are going good! You really helped me out with all that language practice we used to do! Mafia Etiquette is so damned useless! Though I wish you were here for the mandatory ballroom dancing class they make us take! Ugh! Trash here can't dance worth a damn! I refuse to dance with those incompetent fucks!"

"Hn."

"Voi! What's your problem!? You're being too quiet! Even for you!" Squalo said, always too perceptive of his moods.

"…I'm going to be a big brother."

A moment of pause. "You don't sound excited about that."

"Hn."

"Voi! Don't try and change the subject! You're going to be the best big brother in the world! That kid'll be lucky to be related to you! So stop worrying, or I'll come to Japan and kick your ass!"

"Hn." Kazumi snorted.

"Voi! I can totally kick your girly ass! Just for that – no dango for you next time I see you!"

"Hn."

"Stop pouting! I know you are –hey don't mentally poke me! I know you're thinking about doing it!"

Ah, Squalo always had such a way of making him feel better.

24.

The next day he disappeared for several hours to train. He worked himself into the ground. He worked until he was choking on his own blood. He used the sharingan till streams of crimson tears flowed down his cheeks. He destroyed several square miles of forest.

He returned home that night with a clearer mind, and a determined fervor to protect his future little brother.

Neither his mother nor Yamamoto-san asked where he had been all day, but he did receive many concerned looks and extra dango after dinner.

25.

Seven months later, on April 24, 19XX, Yamamoto Takeshi was welcomed to the world. On that same day, Inoue Tomoko said good-bye to the world.

Kazumi cried silently as he held his new brother in his arms. He was only a few hours old but he was smiling widely, unaware of the loss his family had suffered.

Takeshi-chan, Kazumi had noted, as he stared at the innocent creature, had the same amber eyes as their mother.

Despite the loss Take-chan's birth had caused, he couldn't bring himself to begrudge his little brother. Before his mother had passed on she had looked just so happy during the few moments she was able to hold her newborn son.

He couldn't hate anything that made her happy. It didn't hurt that Take-chan was absolutely adorable.

26.

A week later a sleep deprived Kazumi answered the door to the restaurant to find Squalo at his doorsteps. Kazumi was pulled into a tight hug. Neither said anything.

When Kazumi introduced Squalo to Take-chan after that, the white haired boy scrunched up his nose. "Voi! Why does he look so weird?!"

Kazumi really had to have been sleep deprived if he had allowed Squalo, of all people, around a sleeping baby that he had just managed to put to bed.

Then he remembered something else. He squinted a bit and looked at Squalo. "You didn't bring me dango. We are supposed to have dango every time we see each other."

"Voi! I fly all the way from fucking Italy, just to see you, and you expect me to bring dango too!"

"Hn." Kazumi said nodding as he tried to rock Take-chan back to sleep.

"You are so demanding!"

Nevertheless, Kazumi got his dango before Squalo had to catch his return flight. (Yamamoto-san made sure to take pictures for the photo album of Squalo, Kazumi, and Take-chan together.)

27.

Dino Cavallone was a klutz, he was weak, he didn't want to be the boss of his famiglia, and he certainly did not want to be Squalo Superbi's roommate at the Mafia Academy. Heck, he really didn't want to be at the Mafia Academy, period, but if he had to be there at all he would much prefer being at the Academy without sharing a room with him.

Squalo Superbi was just as his name described him to be. The white haired boy was as mean and vicious as a shark and full of pride, and loudly displayed it. On the very first day Superbi had arrived at the school he had gotten in a fight with ten older boys from the middle school division. The entire school was astonished and wary when he walked away with only a few scrapes and bruises.

The boys he had fought were laid up in the hospital in the intensive care unit for a month.

After that incident some high schoolers decided to test the elementary school boy. Again, Superbi had walked away virtually unscathed while his opponents had to be rushed to the hospital. No one, and he meant no one messed with Superbi after that unless they were just that desperate for a fight or had no common sense at all.

People were wary to approach him, but some of the heirs to Famiglias did try to sway him to join their families. He turned every offer down, quite harshly. And a few brave, or stupid one, people approached him in the beginning, offering to help him with his homework or study. Those were laughed at to their faces. Later, when the midterm exam results were posted, and Squalo Superbi's name was posted at the top of the score board, everyone found out why he had reacted to the offers as he did. So as time passed the entire school classified Squalo Superbi as a terrifying loner who was not to be messed with.

Unfortunately, being his roommate, it was impossible for Dino to escape the terrifying boy.

As the school year progressed, Dino began noticing some of Superbi's habits. Every morning he would get up, turn on his laptop and check his email (he had been able to catch a glimpse of the computer screen one morning), and once a week Superbi would be up in the early hours of the morning (for about two hours) on the phone speaking what Dino could vaguely recognize as Japanese.

Dino had no idea who Superbi was speaking to, but whenever Superbi was on the phone with whoever it was the scary boy had the happiest expression Dino had ever seen on his roommates face.

Then one day, about nine months after Superbi had started at the Academy he received one of his usual phone calls, but this time Dino noticed he was unusually quiet as he listened to the other voice on the line. Though, Dino didn't know Japanese, it appeared that Superbi was trying to console whoever was on the line. About a week after that particular conversation Superbi left the campus for three days, and no one knew where he was. Dino heard that the teachers had contacted his parents and they assured the officials that their son would, indeed, return to school. From the rumors, he heard they didn't elaborate on why their son had disappeared.

But Superbi returned and things continued as they had previously.

28.

Takeshi was a much happier baby than Sasuke had ever been. And that was really saying something. After the first two months (during which Kazumi had been regulated to Take-chan duty permanently, because Yamamoto-san was so busy with the restaurant (and very stressed because he suddenly had two children and was without his wife). Not that Kazumi minded, though it did cut into his training time; he loved being able to bond with his brother), Take-chan was always smiling and giggling, he rarely ever fussed.

Kazumi would spend most of his day feeding, holding, and playing with Take-chan. From what he could tell the child was utterly taken with him; the only times Take-chan ever did fuss was when Kazumi left his sight. This meant that Kazumi rarely left Take-chan for anything because he didn't want to upset the little boy.

"Looks like Takeshi loves his onii-chan very much. He can't stand to be away from you." Yamamoto-san had commented once, wistfully. This was after Take-chan had begun to crawl – and subsequently followed Kazumi everywhere.

"Hn." Kazumi had nodded in agreement, as he had picked up Take-chan. The baby (or rather, nine month old) smiled and giggled bubbly, patting his stoic older brother on the cheeks.

Kazumi had smiled, just a bit, and kissed Take-chan on the forehead. (Yamamoto-san had slyly pulled out the camera and managed to get the perfect picture of the moment to put in the photo album.)

29.

Kazumi's training time may have suffered, but he was at a level he was satisfied with. The time he spent with his brother made him unbearably happy and filled the gap in his heart that his mother's death (and his separation from Sasuke) had left.

30.

Shortly after Takeshi's first birthday (Squalo had turned ten earlier in March and Kazumi's tenth birthday was approaching in June), Squalo asked Kazumi to come and visit him at the Mafia Academy. Apparently, the school was hosting a fighting tournament that was open to the community (the mafia community that is) to come watch. Squalo, of course, was participating, and wanted Kazumi to come watch.

"Voi! You've got to come watch me slice up all these trashs' asses!"

"Hn?" Kazumi did want to come support his friend, and he had no problem about flying to Italy alone, or being in a crowed made up completely of mafia;he was worried about leaving his brother for a week.

"You can bring Take-chan if you have to!"

"No." There was no way he was taking his precious brother anywhere with the word 'mafia' involved, at least while he was so young (he had learned about how bad it was to control another person's actions from Sasuke. After all, the road to Hell was paved with the best of intentions.).

"Voi! Then stop fretting over him! He'll survive with just Yamamoto for a week! The man is his fucking father!"

"...True." Kazumi admitted.

"Of course I'm right! You're ass had better be on a plane to Italy next week!" Squalo threatened.

And that was the extent of that conversation. Kazumi, was indeed on a plane the next week headed to Italy.

31.

Katarina Superbi awaited him when he arrived at the airport. She pulled him immediately into a tight hug. Kazumi didn't really like other people besides Squalo and Takeshi (and his mother when she was alive) touching him, but he tolerated it from his best friend's mother.

"You've grown so much since the last time I saw you!" She exclaimed, sounding a little like her son as she did.

"Hn." He nodded in agreement.

She sighed with a smile on her face as they got into the rental car. "You still speak about as much as you used to. How you put up with Squalo I've never been able to figure out."

Kazumi smiled a short smile at her in response, but didn't answer. He didn't know how he managed to get along with Squalo as well as he did. All he really knew was that Sqaulo was the best friend he had ever had, and wasn't about to question how it had happened.

"Are you staying to watch?" He asked, referring to the tournament.

She sighed dramatically. "Unfortunately, no. Can't get off of work. Squalo's father isn't going to be there either; can't step away from the shop that long." She gave him a maniacal grin. "So that's why I'm so happy that you're going. Make sure to get plenty of pictures, okay?" He got the feeling that the unstated 'or else' was very much implied. So he nodded and took the camera without complaint when she let him out on the school grounds. He had a week's worth of luggage in his duffle bag, a visitor's pass so that he wouldn't get kicked off the grounds, and the dorm building and room number to find where Squalo's dorm was (he arrived while classes were in session).

Now all he had to do was find Squalo. But first he was going to drop his things off at Squalo's dorm room.

32.

Dino was sick and it was all his roommate's fault.

Superbi had been acting strange all week, stranger than normal, that is. He had gone around school creeping everyone (including the teachers) out by smiling and being in an overall great mood. Squalo Superbi never acted like that. The entire school's population had been hounding Dino, asking him what was up with Superbi; he did't know and he suspected he really didn't want to find out. It was so strange and disturbing that Dino was hoping that Superbi's good mood would end and the frightening boy would return the the scowling, cussing, sword swinging, death threat throwing, and the generally terrifying human being that used to terrorize the school.

How was it Superbi's fault that Dino was sick?

The stress from dealing with the downright strangeness of Superbi's behavior, on top of the stress he already accrued just from living with the white haired boy, had caused him to develop a stomach ulcer. He was too young for that!

But regardless, the school nurse had allowed him to be excused from class today so that he could rest. So, he had the room, blissfully to himself for the entire morning. Dino had never been so at peace in his dorm room since Suberbi had moved in.

He was relaxing on his bed (obviously his because his side of the room was rather...messy in comparison to Superbi's) when a knock sounded on the door.

Weird, no one ever came to his and Superbi's rooms, mostly due to the fact that no one wanted to get too close to Superbi -heck even Dino tried to avoid spending too much time in the room. Regardless, he called for the person to come in, the door was unlocked.

A boy about Dino's age, of obvious Asian descent opened the door and took a step inside the room. The boy had long bangs on each side of his face that nearly reached his shoulders and the rest of his hair was pulled back into a long pony-tail. He was dressed in black jeans and a blood red button down shirt with a large neck and a dark gray button up v-neck sweater over it with the sleeves bunched up around his elbows, the red and black theme continued to his shoes, which were black with little red clouds outlined in white. Dino also caught a glimpse of the boys nails and they were pained purple (how weird). The boy had sharp black eyes and a blank expression, he gave off a vibe that Dino couldn't really pin-point. However, there was one thing Dino could conclude (besides the fact that the boy was rather- pretty- for a boy) he had never seen this kid before.

Maybe he was a new student who had gotten lost?

Dino mourned the loss of his comfortable spot on his bed as he got up to speak to the boy.

"Are you new here?'

The boy paused for a moment before nodding.

"Okay then, I'm Dino Cavallone. I'm afraid you're in the wrong room, this one's already occupied by me and my roommate." Dino explained with a smile.

The boy completely ignored what he had said and went about setting his things down...Oh god!, on Superbi's side of the room, on his bed!

"Inoue Kazumi." The boy -Inoue (Dino vaguely wondered which was his first name), introduced.

Dino was nervous at the boy's action and stuttered as he tried to inform Inoue why that was a really, really bad idea. "Umm-I-inoue, you m-might not want to leave your things there. That's my roommate's side and he doesn't l-like it when people mess with his stuff." Really, Superbi had cut off one person's fingers when they had been stupid enough to touch Squalo's sword during the physical training class.

"Besides, this can't be your room. This is a two bed suite." Dino tried to get Inoue to understand. Why hadn't a teacher shown this kid around, or something?

"So, I see." Inoue said. However, he made no move to remove his things from where he had placed them, which made Dino sweat-drop internally.

"O-okay, I guess you can leave your things here until you find your room." Dino's voice got softer as he trailed off. It was disturbing, that blank expression that Inoue was looking at him with. "Um... Is there anything I can help you with?"

Inoue tilted his head. "Take me to Squalo Superbi."

Oh god! This was one of those crazy people that had randomly shown up at the school to challenge Superbi to a fight after hearing his reputation! Dino had never seen one in person but had heard the rumors that floated around the school. None of the people who had come specifically to fight with Superbi were ever seen again after their trip to the hospital.

This poor delusional fool.

Regardless, he would lead Inoue to Superbi (he knew Superbi's schedule like he did his own, so that he could avoid the white haired shark), even though he knew he was leading the boy to his own demise.

33.

Squalo hadn't exaggerated that was for sure. His roommate was really entertaining to mess with.

The boy had been sweating with nerves since Kazumi had set his duffle bag on Squalo's bed. And when he had mentioned that he wanted to be taken to Squalo the Cavallone heir looked as if he was going to have a heart attack (really what had Squalo done to the poor boy), and as he lead Kazumi to where Squalo the blond kept alternating between glancing at him in pity and looking as if he was walking to an execution. It was truly ridiculous. Squalo wasn't that bad (okay, he was but it was still absurd).

Regardless, it was amusing to watch.

34.

Dino was terrified for Inoue even more than he had already been when they actually found Suberbi. He was in the court yard -like he normally was during lunch time- and apparently one of the rare idiots in the school (they were rare because Superbi had almost wiped out the 'incompetent trash' population in the school) had decided to confront Superbi about how weird he had been acting. What an idiot.

Dino had frozen still when he saw Superbi wailing on the guy. Inoue, however...(oh god the kid was going to die) actually went up behind Superbi and tapped him on the shoulder! Dino mentally prepared himself for a bloodbath and squeezed his eyes shut (he was the only one around, the rest had fled when Superbi had attacked the other student).

"VOI!"

Dino opened his eyes in time to see Superbi turn around angrily to see who had interrupted him and make his signature yell. Inoue tapped Superbi on the forehead causing him to pause, Superbi's face lost all its anger, and he threw the bloodied boy who had annoyed him on the ground (the idiot scrambled to his feet and stumbled away as fast as he could). To Dino's utter shock, Superbi didn't attack Inoue, in fact, Dino's mouth fell wide open as Superbi's face burst into a wide smile, and picked up Inoue and gave him a violent - hug?

What the ever-loving hell?

"Voi! Kazumi! You're here!" Superbi yelled -happily?

"Hn. You knew I was coming. Who was it who told me that I 'had better have my ass on the plane'?"

Superbi laughed exuberantly. "Yeah, Yeah! Great to see you, too! It's always so fucking weird to hear you cuss, Kazumi!"

"Hn." Inoue nodded, and released himself from Superbi's grip. "Dango."

"So damned demanding!" Superbi complained, but went digging through the bag that was crossed over his shoulder. Withdrawing a small cardboard carton that Dino watched him hand over to Inoue. They companionably sat down on the nearby fountain wall and began to eat the strange food that was inside the carton Superbi had handed over.

Dino's mind was officially blown.

35.

By supper the entire school was aware that there was someone that Squalo Superbi actually liked. The story had apparently been started by someone who had been watching Superbi fight (beat the hell out of) the other student from a safe distance (the roof). The rumor mills were buzzing like crazy and it wasn't uncommon for one girl or guy to be seen running from clique to clique spreading the different theories and suggestions across the elementary, middle, and high schools. Hell, even the faculty was having a conference over the subject (though they also did question why a civilian was at the school in the first place, because they had never heard of an Inoue before -Katarina had had to register Kazumi so that she could get him the guest pass, and retired hitmen's kids didn't count as active mafia, just really convenient targets if someone held a grudge).

Everyone wanted to see the person that actually managed to be around Superbi without getting sent to the hospital.

36.

Kazumi was a bit exasperated by the look Dino Cavallone was shooting him. It was a cross between sheer disbelief and horror.

It was ridiculous. As had been all the students crowding, trying to get a glimpse of him as the three of them had been walking (Dino was drug by Squalo by his collar) back to Squalo's dorm. Really, all he had done was speak to his best friend and now he was just laying on said best friend's bed, it wasn't that unusual.

"Squalo." Said Kazumi as said friend walked out of the bathroom in his pajama's (ones that Kazumi had sent him this past Christmas - they were blue with little sharks on them).

"What!?" Squalo asked as he shifted through one of his dresser drawers for something.

"What have you done to this school's population that you haven't told me?"

Squalo snorted. "I did tell you! I cut up the scum that thought they could fuck with me!" Squalo found what he had been searching for and made his way over to Kazumi, plopping down on the mattress beside his friend.

"Hn. And a school filled with mafioso children are scared of you-?"

"Weak trash! All of them!" Squalo declared, giving a pointed glare a the blond in the room, who almost visibly wilted.

"Squalo. Play nice. You have to live with Cavallone. You don't want to drive him to killing you out of fear while you sleep." Kazumi said absently as he took the cell phone Squalo had handed him. Punching in the numbers, he had to restrain himself from snorting as he saw Squalo giving an even paler Cavallone a speculating gaze.

"Voi! I doubt it!" Squalo decided, yet seemed to be contemplating the idea, finding it amusing.

"Hn. Quiet now -phone." Kazumi said.

"You are so demanding!"

Kazumi glared, silencing him. Cavallone was in the fetal position on his bed.

37.

Tsuyoshi had never really realized how much he had come to depend on Kazumi for taking care of Takeshi. The boy hadn't even been gone for twenty-four hour and he was already at a complete loss at what to do with his own son.

From the moment Takeshi had realized his older brother wasn't in the house (and the crawling one year old had checked every single room in the house) he hadn't stopped calling for 'Kazu-nii' at first it had been angrily and demanding (as if Tsuyoshi was the one keeping his brother away from him) and slowly as the day had passed it had transformed into a heart wrenching, piteous cry. It was awful. And the worst thing was that nothing Tsuyoshi did helped. He tried putting on Takeshi's favorite movie (Takeshi completely ignored it), gave him his favorite food (which the boy refused to eat), and attempted to get his son to play with his favorite toy (a blow up base ball bat and ball that he was normally fascinated with -probably inherited from Tomoko-, but Takeshi refused to play). By the end of the day he was at his wit's end and Kazumi wasn't even scheduled to come back for another seven days.

It was really tempting to call Kazumi and ask (beg, grovel and beg) him to return to Japan immediately. But...he really wouldn't -couldn't - do that. Kazumi had been such a great help to him, always making sure that Takeshi was taken care of and helping out with the household chores when Tsuyoshi was just too busy with the restaurant to get to them. The boy never complained and hadn't even acted out or begrudged him or Takeshi when Tomoko died. Most children would have rebelled and spewed words of hatred towards the man and child that indirectly helped cause their mother's death. Not Kazumi, he accepted it that it had happened and silently mourned, then had become indispensable to his step-father and younger half-brother. Kazumi had behaved better than anyone would have expected him to be given the circumstances.

It was almost...unnatural. Sometimes, Tsuyoshi would get the oddest notion that Kazumi was just too perfect. He was intelligent beyond belief. He didn't make selfish or childish requests (hell, the boy never asked for anything besides dango). He did his chores (unasked) and (to Tsuyoshi's shame) was nearly raising his brother. It wasn't normal... The boy never went out or tried to make friends his age and besides Squalo he had never seen Kazumi interact with anyone his own age.

He had grown to care for Kazumi as if the child were his own but sometimes...

What was he doing thinking these useless thoughts? He needed to call Kazumi to ask how to get Takeshi to go to sleep because like everything Tsuyoshi had tried to do today the boy just wouldn't cooperate with him.

The phone began ringing. That had to be Kazumi. It was almost amazing how the boy was almost always one step ahead of him.

38.

"Did you sing him his lullaby?" Kazumi questioned after listening worriedly to Yamamoto-san's recounting of his day with Takeshi. On one hand Kazumi was fearing that it had been a very bad idea to leave the two of them home alone (despite how Yamamoto-san was a fully trained hit-man and Takeshi's father). However, on the other he realized that he wasn't going to be around forever and Tsuyoshi and Takeshi had to bond sometime without him.

Nevertheless, it pained him to hear how upset his brother had been over his absence.

"What lullaby?" Yamamoto-san asked after a moment. Belatedly, Kazumi realized that he and Take-chan had always been alone when he sang his brother to sleep, and Yamamoto-san tended to come in to say goodnight when Take-chan was already very drowsy.

"Hn. Never mind. Put me on speaker phone." Kazumi commanded, ignoring Squalo's comment of "Damned demanding."

Yamamoto did as he was told.

" I hope the days come easy and the moments pass slow and each road leads you where you want to go and if you're faced with a choice and you have to choose I hope you choose the one that means the most to you and if one door opens to another door closed I hope you keep on walkin' 'till you find the window. If it's cold outside, show the world the warmth of your smile, but more than anything, more than anything - My wish for your is that this life becomes all that you want it to your dreams stay big your worries stay small you never need to carry more than you can hold and while you're out there gettin' where you're gettin' to I hope you know somebody love you and wants the same things too Yeah, this is my wish I hope you never look back but you never forget all the ones who love you and the place you left I hope you always forgive and you never regret and you help somebody every chance you get Oh, you find God's grace in every mistake and always give more than you take..."

Silence reigned on both sides of the phone. On Yamamoto's side of the line Takeshi was smiling for the first time all day and had a arm reaching towards the phone saying "Kazu-nii" and after a few yawns, was fast asleep to Yamamoto's amazement.

"Thank you so much. What song is that?" Yamamoto-san asked.

"My Wish. It's by an American band. I heard it during dance class once." Kazumi said.

"Is it okay if I call you to sing that every day you're in Italy?"

"Hn." Kazumi said nodding.

"...I'm going to take that as a 'It's fine'."

After a few more moments, and wishes of 'good nights' from the both of them, the phone call was concluded.

"Voi! Since when can you sing, Kazumi!?" Squalo asked, still looking a bit surprised.

"Since Take-chan."

Squalo looked as if he was going to bang his head on the wall because of that answer, but settled for snorting, "Of Course! That's just like some shit you would do!"

Kazumi ignored him and went to take a shower. As he passed by Dino's bed the blond said, hesitantly, "I-it sounded great, Inoue."

Kazumi nodded at the complement and continued on to the bathroom.

39.

Almost the instant the door had closed behind Superbi's friend, Dino found himself being pushed against the wall, by a very angry, and very snarling Squalo Superbi.

"Don't you dare try to cozy up to Kazumi, Cavallone. He's my best friend and if you bother him, I'll cut you up into little fucking pieces."Superbi threatened in the quietest tone Dino had ever heard him speak in.

"I-i'll stay away -" Dino tried to convince Superbi, because the white haired boy was more frightening at this very moment than Dino had ever seen him before.

"No! That's not what I'm saying. In fact, it's going to be your fucking job to watch after Kazumi while I'm in the tournament. You might be useless but you are the Cavallone heir and that will get people to back off, scum. What I don't want you to do is be overly annoying and friendly to Kazumi, you got that?" Superbi said shaking Dino.

Dino was really confused but nodded his agreement anyway.

The door to the bathroom opened revealing Inoue who seemed to have forgotten something, the boy with the long black hair stared at them and Superbi was quick to throw his arm around Dino's shoulder (nearly strangling him) and pretended to be joking around saying, "Just 'playing nice' with Cavallone like you told me to! Voi!" Superbi said to Inoue's questioning look.

While Inoue had an expression that clearly said 'who exactly are you trying to fool with that stupid act?', he didn't say anything and retreated to the bathroom once more after he retrieved whatever he had forgotten. Superbi pushed him roughly away and with a final warning glare returned to lounge on his own bed.

Dino sighed heavily. He dreaded however long Inoue was staying if Superbi was going to be like this the entire time.

40.

Once and only once during Kazumi's visit did he attend any class with Squalo (and Dino by fact that they had the same class at the same time - which was odd because it was the only class they had together period because Squalo had managed to skip some grades and was on the track to graduating early). It was Squalo's ballroom dance class. A class that the teacher looked startled when she called the roll and Squalo announced he was present, a rare (non-existent) happening since Squalo had told Kazumi that he had declared the class to be filled with 'incompetent fucks who can't dance worth a damn and I refuse to suffer through a dance class without you, Kazumi'. So it wasn't necessarily shocking that the entire class was shocked.

"So, it appears you are joining us for the first time Superbi. What made you realize this class wasn't "a waste of fucking time"?" the teacher said snootily once she recovered from her astonishment.

Squalo scowled at her. "Voi! I've got a competent partner today! Everyone else is pathetic!"

"Really?" said the teacher skeptically, looking between Squalo and Kazumi. "Then why don't you give a demonstration for the class. That is if you're that confident in your abilities."

Squalo glanced questioningly at Kazumi, a fire of anger and a look that said 'let's shock and awe these scum!'. Kazumi nodded in agreement. People were just so rude sometimes.

"Hn." Kazumi said addressing the teacher, the whole room got quiet - they had never heard the boy accompanying Superbi speak in the days he had been at the Academy so far. "Sensei, is there any particular style you would prefer?"

"Since Mr. Superbi has such confidence in your abilities, how about you show me something contemporary. You can go into the room next door. Surly if your as good as you say you are you can come up with a routine in twenty minutes."

"Voi! You bitch! We haven't danced together in over a year! How the fucking hell-" Squalo yelled angrily to the teacher as Kazumi took his hand an drug him out the door into the next room.

"Hn. Calm down."

"That bitch challenged us! Voi! How the fuck are we supposed to come up with something in twenty minutes?" Squalo fumed.

"It's fine. We've done contemporary before. It might be a little rusty but we'll be fine. Do you remember any of the routine to the "Work Song" by Hozier?"

Squalo calmed for a moment, thinking, before nodding. "Fuck yeah! That was a fun one."

"Hn." Kazumi said in agreement. "Let's pull up the song on the computer over there and run through it to refresh our memories. It won't be difficult. Remember we're that good, isn't that what you've said once."

Squalo laughed manically, "Damn straight! Remember when our old teacher cried when we told her we were quitting!? Old hag thought we could have gone pro in a few years!"

"Hn. Let's stop wasting time."

"Voi! So damned demanding."


Shock and awe they did.

(Dance they did can be found on youtube DWTS 20-9 Riker Lynch & Allison Contemporary)

41.

"Voi!" was the call that sounded throughout the the arena. Kazumi rolled his eyes at the way Cavallone, who was sitting beside him flinched. It was a little pathetic, especially since it was something that had not been uncommon throughout the duration of the tournament. Today was the last day and Squalo had had plenty of opportunity to scream in frustration over the past five days, so really, Cavallone (and the entire audience) should have grown accustomed to the sound by now.

Squalo had of course won; Kazumi, of course, had managed to take hundreds of pictures for Katarina. Everybody won.

During the reception at the end of the day, Kazumi was sitting alone waiting on Squalo to return from getting the both of them drinks (Squalo would have preferred to ask Cavallone to go get them but the blond had run off once Kazumi and Squalo had been reunited after Squalo had finished the final fight. For some reason Squalo was hesitant to leave Kazumi alone in the middle of a Mafia party, which Kazumi was internally amused by.). Squalo had been propositioned by numerous famiglia's in attendance to consider joining their respective families, so far Squalo had dismissed them all.

However, when Squalo returned from getting the drinks he had a look of joy (which on his face looked slightly sadistic).

"Hn?" Kazumi questioned as his friend handed him his strawberry milk (his next favorite food group aside from dango, cabbage, and seaweed onigiri).

"Voi! I just met the guy I plan to follow in the future. He's going to go places, I can tell!" Squalo said grinning widely, and being more exuberant than normal.

Kazumi's eyes narrowed slightly, but didn't comment on that. Once Squalo made up his mind on something it was near impossible to convince him otherwise. He would sometimes listen to Kazumi (even when Squalo's parent's couldn't talk sense into their child), but Kazumi saw the fever in his eyes and recognized that this was not one of those times.

So, he merely said, "Hn. Make sure to introduce me sometime." He needed to know who to kill if something happened to his dearest friend.

"Voi! Of course, Kazumi!" Squalo said, still very happy at his finding.

Kazumi smiled and pressed two fingers to Squalo's forehead.

The usual momentary pause then, "Voi! How many times do I have to fucking tell you! Don't poke me on the damned forehead! Stop your smirking, Kazumi!"

At least this would never change.

42.

The next day Katarina Superbi arrived at the Mafia Academy to pick Kazumi up. He and Squalo had already said their goodbyes the previous night so it was a quick departure. Katarina once more carried most of the conversation as they made the trip to the airport where Kazumi had arrived at and was going to depart from. She occasioanlly got him to speak of his week at the academy, how Squalo did in the tournament, or how hopeless Yamamoto-san was with Takeshi, but ninety-five percent of the words exchanged came from Katarina. She was ecstatic when Kazumi handed over the completely full camera before he boarded the plane (a purposeful tactic on his part so she couldn't wrangle him into a longer hug than she had already managed).

And so, he was soon looking down upon the white clouds, on his way home to Japan.

43.

The moment Kazumi opened the door to TakeSushi he was met by a rather haggard and extremely relieved looking Yamamoto-san and his brother, with snot pouring from his nose and watery eyes, grabbing on tightly to his pants leg as if he would never let go. Yamamoto-san even got him into a hug, which had never happened before.

"Kazu-nii!"

"Thank kami-sama, you're back!" Yamamoto-san said.

"Never leave us again!" They both exclaimed rather desperately as they clung to him.

Kazumi found it rather ridiculous, but couldn't deny it felt nice to be needed.

44.

Soon after Kazumi returned, Yamamoto-san took him and Take-chan to a recording studio so that Kazumi could sing Take-chan's lullaby. That way when Kazumi spent the night away from home Yamamoto-san would be able to get Take-chan to go to sleep.

"Voi! You did what for that brat brother of yours?!" Squalo asked during their weekly talk after the recording had been done - and actually used on occasion when Kazumi and Yamamoto-san wanted to test if the recording worked as well as Kazumi actually singing it. It did.

"There is a word in the sentence you just said you may wish to re-think, Squalo." Kazumi said evenly.

"Wha-? Oh, fine Take-chan isn't a fucking brat! ...So damned demanding! Still, it's stupid that you had to record yourself singing a lullaby for the kid! You're babying him!"

"Hn. Take-chan is a baby. He just turned one."

"Voi! He's gotta grow up some time!" Squalo yelled.

"Squalo. Takeshi is one. He's going to get to be babied for quite some time." Kazumi said, slowly.

"Just because he can be babied doesn't mean you have to!"

"I want to."

Squalo grumbled for a moment, before changing the subject. "Kazumi! What do you want for your birthday!?"

"Hn. Dango."

"Voi! Is that all you ever think of!? Fucking dango!? And that bratty -"

"Squalo." Kazumi warned.

"And Take-chan?! You really need to get a damned hobby!"

Despite Squalo's complaining, a box of fresh dango from a local shop in Namimori was delivered on the ninth of June along with two books. One was a how to draw guide and the other was a book on gardening- he suspected Katarina for the books.

Kazumi was pleased nonetheless. (He had bought Squalo a documentary on Japanese katana for his birthday, which his friend had enjoyed very much.)

45.

During the fall months time passed swiftly. Kazumi continued to watch over Take-chan and made time for Yamamoto-san and Takeshi to bond every chance he got. He applied to several colleges and universities for spring enrollment and was accepted into quite a few with full scholarships. Some of which were: Tokyo Daigaku, Kyoto Daigaku, and Tokyo Institute of Technology and several others.

He considered his options and truly contemplated what he wanted to accomplish in this life. After several months of enjoying the hobby books he had gotten for his birthday (and a few more that Yamamoto-san had gotten for him after the man had seen how much he had enjoyed them), Kazumi had developed a keen interest in design and gardening. He had been previously considering going to study medicine - so that he would be more knowledgeable about his own condition...However, he didn't want to spend his entire life worrying over his health- or lack of- and he felt that if he entered the medical field he would never get away from it. (His hemoptysis and chest pain had been rather constant since his mothers death, and since before it, but he was convinced that he had it under control. He had successfully hidden the condition from everyone and intended to keep it that way.)

So, he decided to attend the Kyoto University of Art and Design to get a degree in the visual creation field and minor in botany. It was an odd course of action, but it was the one he wanted.

Squalo hadn't been terribly enthusiastic about his decision; Kazumi made sure he got over it.

His white haired friend had been focusing lately on working on his swordsmanship, joining something call the Varia, and becoming the sword Emperor. While Kazumi was aware Squalo could take care of himself, Kazumi was determined to check up on his friend's ambitions at some point- just in case. He still was set on meeting whoever Squalo had chosen to be his future boss, but he would would, at some point.

46.

Take-chan threw an absolute fit when he discovered that his brother was going away, and Yamamoto-san managed to get it on the new video camera that he had purchased. (Somehow the recording got to Squalo and strangely enough Squalo approved of Takeshi's reaction).

"No! Kazu-nii stay! Stay! Stay! No leave!" was the daily chant that could be heard around TakeSushi at any given time. This resulted in Kazumi spending even more time with his brother -taking him to baseball games, playing catch, and trying everything to distract him from the upcoming departure. Sometimes it worked some times it didn't.

"Voi! Kazumi! That bra- Take-chan, has more sense than you! Why the Hell do you want to go to fucking art school? Sounds damned useless! I can get funking botany -you could learn how to poison someone that way, at least!" Squalo commented as they discussed it.

Kazumi refrained from mentioning that he was already well-versed on how to poison, strangle, mutilate, and kill most anyone in any fashion should he desire to. He could even put them into a genjutsu and get them to kill themselves. So, he didn't really get the appeal to learning yet another world's form of killing - especially when he was fairly certain the different ways were going to be quite similar to what he was already trained to do.

So his response to Squalo was: "Hn. That doesn't interest me."

"Damn it, Kazumi! I don't get why you want to be so boring! You're going to live a life of incompetent scum if you don't do something!"

"Squalo, not having interest in joining the mafia or killing anyone does not equal boring." Kazumi deadpanned.

"Voi! Fucking Hell it doesn't!"

Kazumi's eyes narrowed and decided to change the subject. "Hn. You're going to have to watch your mouth when you visit. I don't want Take-chan picking up your bad habits from his Squalo-nii."

"He's a baby, according to you! What's he going to remember!?"

"Take-chan is at an impressionable age."

"Voi! He'd better fucking not call me 'Squalo-nii'! He's your damned brother!"

"Hn. I think it would be cute."

"What!? Fuck cute! What the Hell are you high on, Kazumi!" Screamed Squalo in disbelief.

"In fact," Kazumi said, completely ignoring the horror he was putting his best friend through, "I've already been teaching him how to say it. It's going to be adorable - right? Squ-nii?"

That conversation ended with Squalo threatening to cut Kazumi into little tiny pieces and much violent language. Kazumi listened silently, but snorted when he got off the phone. Like Squalo could actually get the best of him in a fight. Kazumi's friend was good but he had twenty-one extra years of experience. In a match between the two of them, it wouldn't even be close.

47.

The first thing Squalo heard when he opened the door to Kazumi's house was, "Squ-nii!" from a child of not even two years old. He was going to fucking kill his best friend. Unfortunately, before he could draw his swords from his side the elder Yamamoto - sire to the smiling little chibi brat who had called him 'brother'- confiscated his prized swords from his possession.

Quickly he rounded on the man who had taken his weapons, with fucking smirk on his face - "Voi! Give me my fuc-"

Out of practically nowhere, Kazumi appeared beside him and clapped a hand over his mouth cutting off his words with a slight smile on his face.

"Now, now Squalo." Kazumi chided patronizingly. "We discussed this." An uncharacteristic sharpness appeared in his friend's normally gentle eyes. "Watch your language around Take-chan, alright?"

His expression sent chills down Squalo spine, and he was quick to nod at Kazumi's words. "V-voi! Yeah, I'll watch it around the bra- Take-chan." He said back tracking a little, earning a smile from Kazumi.

"Hn." Kazumi nodded.

Yamamoto, the elder, laughed annoyingly and passed his progeny to Kazumi. "It's great that you're here Squalo-kun! Now you and Kazumi-kun can spend some time together before Kazumi here heads off to the big leagues."

"Baseball!" the small child that was somehow related to Squalo's best friend yelled enthusiastically at the words his sire said.

Kazumi laughed softly at his brother's outburst, preventing Squalo from commenting. Squalo watched as Kazumi expertly took Take-chan from Yamamoto's arms into his own.

"Not quite, Take-chan." Kazumi said, causing the small child to pout adorably (not that Squalo believed or would admit to the wording of that statement, it's just that most normal humans would consider the action cute, but not him! Voi!).

"No baseball, Kazu-nii?" Take-chan's amber eyes, nothing like Kazumi's warm black ones, watered with barely restrained tears.

"No, but I'm sure Squ-nii won't mind playing catch with you, hm?" Kazumi said, smiling evilly at him. When those teary eyes turned expectantly on Squalo, he flinched backwards. Damn it! He would not cave to the dastardly effect of those eye! He would not!

The eyes bored into him.

After an hour of playing catch later Squalo collapse on the ground beside Kazumi, who had Take-chan napping happily in his lap.

"Never-fucking-again!" Squalo said quietly as to not wake up the small baseball demon.

Kazumi snorted at him. Fucking snorted at him! and gave him a 'you are pathetic' look.

Squalo realized that he was friends with a devil, and wasn't that a damned laugh. But strangely, he felt that he wouldn't change it for the world.

48.

That following spring Kazumi moved into a boarding house that was near the Kyoto Daigaku campus. The owner, who Yamamoto-san had convinced to 'watch over' Kazumi, was an elderly woman who's deceased husband had left her quite well off but with no children. So apparently, she decided to take what her husband had left her and purchased the large house so that she could rent it out to college students. That way she wouldn't be quite so alone.

The other inhabitants were an odd and varied sort, that Kazumi found it best to have limited contact to. (In fact, the occupants had eerie similarities to his former acquaintances in the Akatsuki, in the worst of ways). For the most part life continued as it had while he had lived in Nanimori: he called Squalo once a week and emailed his white haired friend daily. He communicated with his brother and Yamamoto-san and heard as Takeshi became more interested in baseball and was always asking Kazumi to come home or to come watch him play (as he grew older). Differences were that Kazumi was attending classes, formal classes, for the first time since he was seven in his previous life. It was ... and adjustment, but nothing too terribly difficult. He was now also having to interact with others more frequently than he had ever had to before, whether it was a professor, a classmate, his landlord, or one of his strange housemates, he was forced to be around more people than he had since the Uchiha clan was still in existence.

He honestly did not like it.

While he was surrounded by people, he found it as if he were completely alone. Most of his college colleagues dismissed him out of hand because of his age (it slightly reminded him of his first year in ANBU except for there people had respected his age as a sign of genius). Females would approach him and exclaim over how good looking he was and talk at him as if he were a stupid child. It wasn't long before he began to avoid them completely.

If he wasn't learning new information, then he would be bored out of his mind. The only thing that kept him sane were the nightly calls from his brother and Yamamoto-san, the letters to Squalo and the weekly calls from his best friend.

Before he knew it he had been at Kyoto University for two years. He went home on occasion to visit and he had flown to Italy once during the time to see Squalo in his tournament.

During a break he went home before flying to Italy to watch Squalo for the third time take part in the tournament at the Mafia Academy.

He traveled back to Nanimori without telling Yamamoto-san or Take-chan. He wanted to surprise his precious little brother (who was now nearing four years old).

Yamamoto-san was surprised and very happy to see him when he opened the door to TakeSushi and informed Kazumi that Takeshi was out at the park playing baseball with a group of older boys he had met. Kazumi headed to the local park to pick Takeshi up for dinner, which Yamamoto-san said would be done soon, as he closed up the shop in celebration of Kazumi's visit back home.

When Kazumi arrived at the park, he had expected to see his precious little brother running around happily playing the sport he had inherited his love of from their mother. What he most certainly had not expected was to see his little brother surround by older boys, covered in dirt, crying, as said older boys jeered harsh words at him.

"Go away brat!"

"No one wants to play with a crybaby!"

"Especially one that killed his mom."

"Oh yeah, I heard that from my mom too. Your the reason your mom died!"

"You killed your mom!"

Kazumi's eyes flashed red with his sharingan. He took a moment to remember that the ones he wanted to dismember were children. Foolish children, who were not aware that their actions could lead to their deaths. A deep breath and his eyes returned to their normal black.

He approached the group began picking them of silently, one by one, until there were nine unconscious little children laying on the ground. He knelt before his brother, who hadn't even realized Kazumi was there, for he was crying so much, his head bowed towards the ground.

"Take-chan, don't cry." Kazumi said softly, gaining Takeshi's attention.

"Kazu-nii!" Takeshi exclaimed, his eye read from crying. The boy launched himself into Kazumi's arms and began crying harder than before. Telling his brother of the words the older boys had accused him of.

"Is it true? Kazu-nii, did I kill Okaa-chan?" Pained amber eyes bored into his searching for the truth.

"No. Okaa-san died of complications that arose after you were born. It wasn't anything you caused or could have prevented."

Takeshi gave him a disbelieving look.

"Hn. If you saw the look on her face as she held you, you wouldn't be asking me this." Kazumi gave his brother a look before kissing him on the center of his forehead. "Do you think I would lie to you?"

"Never! Kazu-nii is the best!" Take-chan exclaimed with an almost scandalized expression on his little face.

Kazumi chuckled. The two brothers walked home together. The make-shift family had a terrific dinner together and Kazumi sang Takeshi his lullaby instead of letting the recording do the job for him, and soon Takeshi was asleep after commenting, "It sounds better with you here, Kazu-nii".

Kazumi headed down the stairs and informed Yamamoto-san of what occurred in the park. The man was concerned and promised to make sure Takeshi was better supervised when he went out to play.

"He really misses you when you aren't here." Yamamoto-san said before he headed off to bed himself. He didn't speak the 'and so do I', but Kazumi knew it anyway.

That night as Kazumi looked at his blood soaked hands, he contemplated how much of a liar he really was.


Kazumi stayed in Nanimori for a week before heading to Italy to meet Squalo.

Take-chan had been reluctant to let him go, but Kazumi managed to avoid a scene at the airport by promising his brother that he was going to spend a week with him when he returned from Italy before heading back to Kyoto.

Katarina Superbi once more met him at the airport, as she had done for the past years. He was accosted by her to have his customary hug and soon enough they were both in the car headed for the Mafia Academy. As like in the previous years, neither Katarina nor Squalo's father were going to be able to come and watch Squalo perform in the tournament (which he he had won all of since the first one three years ago when he was ten), he was dropped off at the school with a camera, and yet another not so subtle threat to take many pictures, or else.

Kazumi quickly made his way to Squalo's dorm room and dropped his duffle bag. He was considering wandering around the school until he came across Squalo, but he, strangely, felt tired. He sat down on Squalo's bed, just so he could check his breathing for a moment, and then he had every intention of heading out.

Before he was aware of it he had fallen asleep, and was awoken by the sound of Squalo attempting to kill Cavallone.

"Voi! Don't make so much damned noise! You'll wake up Kazumi, bastard!" Squalo shouted at the blond, quite counterproductive to what he was chastising Cavallone for.

"Hn. Too late." Kazumi said as he sat up and rubbed at his eyes. It was strange for him to have fallen asleep just like that. It probably was a sign that his condition was progressing faster than he had anticipated.

He couldn't bring himself to be too terribly concerned. He knew it was going to happen, it was an unavoidable reality that had to be accepted, he would drive himself insane if he dwelt on the fact that his body was actively working against itself.

"Voi! You woke Kazumi up!"

Kazumi smiled softly as Squalo screamed his abuse at the quivering blond as the white haired boy shook him.

Kazumi intended to enjoy this life while he could.


Squalo once more won, and before Kazumi knew it he was back in Japan. His week with Yamamoto-san and Take-chan passed quickly as well and ended in tears on Take-chan's part as he and his father saw Kazumi off at the train station when he headed back to Kyoto.

49:

Kazumi graduated from the University of Kyoto with a bachelors degree. The graduation ceremony occurred a few months before Kazumi's fourteenth birthday and by some lucky streak of fate, Kazumi managed to attend Squalo's graduation from the Mafia Academy - he too had graduated early - before having to rush back to Japan to get ready for his own.

Squalo, regretfully - so he managed to confer over a few rushed phone calls, was unable to attend Kazumi's ceremony. Due to something of the effect of "Voi! I beat the fucking sword Emperor and head of the Varia so I'm really damned busy. I'm sorry, Kazumi!"

Kazumi would have actually been upset with Squalo if he hadn't had dango delivered to his boarding house in Kyoto as an apology. It also helped that Squalo sent Kazumi an airplane ticket to Italy - the news of an impending visit greatly improved Kazumi's slight ire.

Kazumi was especially looking forward to finally meeting the man that Squalo had decided to follow and the man who Squalo had hand the reigns of the most elite assassination squad over to. (Squalo's emails were much more cohesive and condense than his phone calls these days).


Squalo woke up the day that he was supposed to pick Kazumi up from the airport. He had set his internal alarm to wake himself up at 5:00AM - Kazumi's flight was supposed to touch down at 8:00AM, he didn't want to make Kazumi wait and the airport was a good ways away from Varia Castle.

Sleepily a yawn escaped from his mouth as he raised his arms into a limber stretch. Rubbing some of the sleep matter that had accumulated during the night he fully opened his eyes only for something to catch his eyes -

There was someone in his damned bed. Fucking hell!

It startled him so badly (more precisely, nearly gave him a damned heart attack!), that he flat out fell of his bed as he reached for one of his swords (momentarily forgetting that he no longer had a left hand to grab anything with).

How the hell had anyone bypassed the security and made it this far into the bowls of the Varia residence without anyone knowing! Squalo was going to have a ...ah chat with the security after this.

He righted himself on the floor and secured a sword in his right hand (he was really going to have to have a sword implanted in his left, it was his dominant hand - it was not going to be pretty when Kazumi heard that he had cut of his hand - he was going to delay that particular conversation for as long as possible) before he could attack the USP (unidentified sleeping person) he felt a slight tap on his forehead.

He dropped his sword and glanced up at Kazumi's sleepy expression as he leaned across Squalo's bed. "Voi! How the hell did you get in here! - Fucking hell! Your damned plane isn't supposed to get here for another three fucking hours!"

Kazumi easily drug him back into his bed as he answered his questions, "I walked through the front door. I went to the airport early and there was a seat on an earlier flight so I exchanged my ticket."

"You walked through the fucking front door!? What about the guards!?"

"Hn. There is a three minute delay in the changing of the guards - I suggest you fix that." Kazumi's eyes turned piercing and Squalo just managed to swallow a gulp - Varia Quality assassin or not, it was never good when Kazumi got that look in his eyes.

"Before you go make my dango, please do tell me, Squalo, where is your left hand?"

Squalo did gulp this time, but still managed a strained smile. "So damned demanding." A pause. "And how many fucking times do I have to tell you! Don't poke me in the fucking forehead! Voi!"

50.

Recently there had been some changes in the Varia. Lussuria hadn't really cared that much for Tyr - the man hadn't appreciated his darling~ fashion sense, nor had he allowed him to keep any of the scrumptious corpses he had wanted to collect. It had been such a pain~. Though with this new chain of command, he wasn't yet sure whether he was satisfied with it or not. At first it had appeared that a young, handsome - though much, much too loud - teenager named Squalo Superbi would become the new Head of the Varia - since he had been the one to kill Tyr. However, it wasn't so - Squalo Superbi passed the title over to the Nono's youngest son, Xanxus. While Lussuria would be the first to declare that Xanxus had a body to die for -one that would be much better with the stiff rigor of death - he also had an extremely not so darling temper.

He also was ridiculously picky about his food. The arguments that the lower ranked men and Squalo would get into with Xanxus would - and were- hilarious, if only they didn't result in someone having to come to him or his Sun squad to get healed up afterwards. It seriously cut into the free time he used to design clothes.

During the time Xanxus had taken charge -and really? had it only been a few months? - the hierarchy of the Varia had been turned on its head. All the main leaders of the Varia had been replaced except Lussuria, himself, and second in command, Ottabio - who was over the clouds of the Varia. Superbi had taken over the Rain Squad, a weirdo who was obsessed with the new Boss, named Leviathan took charge of the Lightning task force, a little, violent blond eight year old had waltzed in, killed the former head of the Varia's storm and took their place, and a strange baby - yes baby of all things, though it was a darling~ baby, had come in and asserted themselves over the Mist Squad.

This place was truly becoming a mad house.

The chaos was delicious to watch.

He got up and proceeded with his usual morning schedule, which consisted of copious amount of makeup and hair spray, he then straightened his sunglasses in front of his bathroom mirror and deemed himself acceptable to leave the room.

It was strange, as he made his way further down to the main floor he began to hear the faint sound of music. That was extremely odd, considering Xanxus had made it perfectly clear that he hated loud noises (that wasn't his own yelling) early in the mornings, by throwing one such noise maker out of a window his first week at Varia Headquarters - and it was still much too early by the Boss's standards.

Honestly, it was rare that anyone besides Lussuria and Squalo to be up at this time of the morning, unless there was a mission - which today there wasn't.

So it was very, very shocking to find that he was the last person downstairs - even Bel was standing at the entrance of an empty ball room with the rest of the the main figures of the Varia- even the darling~ Xanxus was in the group. And they were all peering into the ball room, which he now heard English lyrics sounding from. So he did what any reasonably curious person would do.

He stuck his head in an empty space in the doorway with the rest of them...

...to see Squalo dancing with some unknown delicious specimen of a man. Lussuria was nearly licking his lips.

Delicious.

(You can see the dance on Youtube by typing in "Julianne & Derek Hough Jive to 'Shake your tail feather'")


51.

Kazumi smiled softly at the deep breaths that Squalo was taking at the end of their jive. It was fascinating to him, Squalo could fight with someone from sundown to sunup but after an intense dance his breath turned harsh, it was fun to tease him about it.

"Shark scum, who is this trash?" said a growling voice from behind Kazumi.

He turned to see a rather tall teen, who gave off an aura of danger - or an aura of danger to anyone who wasn't a former nukenin and practically a ninja terrorist. To Kazumi it was rather amusing but seriously lacking in the intimidation department.

Kazumi tensed as an arm was thrown carelessly across his shoulder, he resisted his knee jerk reaction to grab the limb and twist it - bringing the owner of said limb to the ground before proceeding to attack - there was no need to let Squalo see him behave like that. Instead he turned to the voice as it was speaking.

"Yes~, Squalo darling~, who is this handsome young man?" asked the rather flamboyant man who had invaded Kazumi's personal space.

"Voi! Don't fucking touch him you okama!" Yelled Squalo, forcibly removing the man's arm from Kazumi and pulling him close.

"Shi-shi-shi. That doesn't answer the question, shark." input a blond child whose hair covered a majority of his face. That caused Kazumi to frown, the boy couldn't that much older than Take-chan, and the child was obviously already entrenched in the mafia.

"Tch. Shut up brat." Squalo said scathingly to the child.

Kazumi's frown deepened and he threw a glare at Squalo, "Hn. What have I said about that word, Squalo."

The rest of the people in the room, who Kazumi figured he would be introduced to shortly looked at him curiously, as Squalo gave him a confused expression. "Voi! What are you-?" Kazumi's eyes narrowed and a look of realization crossed Squalo's face. "Fuck! I thought that only applied to Take-chan!"

"Hn."

"What is this trash talking about, shark scum?" tall dark haired teen rumbled, looking as if he were about to lose any patience he had.

"Kazumi here hates it when I call kids 'brat'." Squalo explained irritably.

"And for who I am, my name is Inoue Kazumi." Kazumi elaborated, bowing slightly. "Squalo's childhood friend."

After that revelation, Kazumi was introduced to the Varia.

"Shi-shi-shi, the shark's peasant friend dances well and has sense, the prince approves." said Belphagor.

"And he's so handsome~" crowed Lussuria.

Levi just huffed off in the corner.

"Trash." was Xanxus's comment before he left to order someone to get him breakfast.

Kazumi looked at his retreating figure for a moment before he turned to Squalo. "Hn. No distracting me with dancing anymore, you still owe me my dango."

"You are so damned demanding!" Squalo said exasperated, but regardless began to head to the kitchen with Kazumi following him.

Belphagor made a whipping sound at the same time Lussuria commented: "Oh~ someone is whipped~"

"Shut the fuck up!" Squalo screamed as he left the room with Kazumi dragging him by the back of his shirt, trying to stop himself from attacking the others.

52.

Kazumi did get his dango, and as with all the dango Squalo made him, it was absolutely delicious and much better any dango that was store bought. He was munching on his snack in a small parlor off the kitchen, Squalo had gone off to make arrangements with Lussuria for some series of fights that Squalo had to complete to finalize his standing as sword Emperor. He was sitting comfortably on a couch, eating his dango, when Belphagor popped up beside him - Kazumi felt that the child had attempted to scare him, and failed miserably.

"Shi-shi-shi, what is the peasant eating? Did the shark make it? Is it eatable? This does not look like a food for a prince." The blond child declared with a huff.

Kazumi shrugged, not caring about the prince's decision about his dango. If the boy didn't like it, Kazumi considered that a victory: more dango for him.

Unfortunately, for Kazumi, his luck was not to last. The prince was not happy with Kazumi's indifference upon his pronunciation and stole a stick of dango from Kazumi's plate ( Kazumi of course could have stopped the thievery, however, he had yet to inform Squalo about his skills, and having someone other than himself telling Squalo would not go over well). So Kazumi was stuck, as the blond child bite delicately into his precious dango.

He could tell by the wide grin and subsequent 'shi-shi-shi' that his dango was in jeopardy.

He would make Squalo make him more.

"This peasant fare is most pleasant to the Prince's palate. Shi-shi-shi. The Prince wants more." And to Kazumi's horror Belphagor proceeded to clear Kazumi's plate of dango.

Immediately. Squalo would make more dango immediately.

53.

Squalo was in the middle of cutting one of his opponents to shreds in the back garden of the Vaira Headquarters. Lussuria, that damned okama, was making random comments in the background that Squalo was ardently ignoring until one in particular caught his attention.

"Oh dear ~. What on earth is Bel doing on Kazu-kun's back ~?"

That comment broke Squalo's concentration for a moment, causing him to accidentally stab his sword through his opponent's skull, killing him instantly. But really, who gave a fuck about that?

Squalo's head snapped in the direction that Lussuria was looking and sure enough – Kazumi was making his way towards Squalo with a very unhappy expression. Which contrasted with the shit eating grin Bel had as the blond clung to Kazumi's back with a stick of dango in his hand.

Bel had Kazumi's dango. This was not good. No one fucked with Kazumi's dango.

"Squalo make me more dango." Kazumi demanded once he and the prince hanging off of Squalo's best friend's back were close enough.

"The prince demands more of this dango also. Do as commanded peasant shark. Shi-shi-shi", said Belphagor smiling widely with a dango skewer clenched between his teeth.

"Voi! The hell I -" Squalo began to protest venomously.

Kazumi cut off his protest with a sharp glare. "He ate my dango, Squalo. Please make more." They both knew his words were no request.

Belphagor snickered and Lussuria made a noise very distinctive to a whip.

Squalo seethed. He was going to cut them into fucking pieces -

"Hn."

-as soon as he made his friend some more of his favorite food.

54.

Xanxus was, in a moment of rare productivity, in his office filing out paperwork that he had become accustomed to ignoring during his recent acquisition as head of Vongola's assassination squad. Then he sensed a presence that hadn't been there mere seconds ago. It was intense and dark in way he had never felt before in his life, even as he had been in the run down shanty-house that he had lived in squalor in with his wrath of a mother. It sent a shiver down down his spine. With a quick movement he grabbed the at hand wine glass and sent it flying in the direction of a shadowy figure just out of the corner of his eyes.

It was not quick enough.

In mere seconds, if even that long, he was out of his chair, held tightly by his collar, and slammed against the wall of his own office.

He looked into the eyes of his attacker and was met with a sinister red.

Fucking red eyes.

Belatedly he recognized his attacker as the scum-shark's friend that had been visiting for the past few days.

"What's this about trash?" Xanxus asked in his normal gruff tone.

"Hn. Squalo is my dearest friend."

"So. What the fuck does that have to do with anything, trash."

"He has decided that you are going to be his boss. For life. This is going to be your only warning. If anything should happen to him under your command," Inoue Kazumi's red eyes swirled dangerously and the whole room looked to Xanxus as if it had been set ablaze, "you will be begging for death's embrace far sooner than I will allow Hell to collect your pathetic soul."

All at once the room was returned to normal and he was gracelessly thrown to the floor. Inoue was gone.

Xanxus developed a health respect for Squalo's childhood friend.

55.

As sad as Squalo was to see Kazumi get on his flight back to Japan, he was kind of relieved. Now he would be able to resume his series of matches against various swordsmen and their styles. He had been unable to do so since the first interruption with Kazumi demanding more dango.

"Voi! Tell Take-chan hello." Squalo said as he gave Kazumi a brief hug before his friend boarded the plane.

"Hn. I'll tell him his Squ-nii sends his greetings."

"The hell you will-!"

Kazumi laughed his soft laugh. "Come visit."

It wasn't a request.

"Voi! Like anyone could fucking stop me!"

Kazumi smiled, boarded the plane, and not long later was soaring away from Squalo and Italy.

56.

A few years had passed and Squalo had made several visits to Japan, some for work and some for pure pleasure, during both circumstances Squalo would drop by and see his best friend and his family. Kazumi had, despite his degree, stayed in Namimori to help out with his step-father's sushi restaurant.

Squalo would always ask Kazumi, "How can you be content to fucking waste your life like this! You stay in this damned town, working in this damned restaurant! You're a fucking genius! You could do whatever the hell you want! Why are you wasting your goddamn life like this!"

To which Kazumi would always shake his head. "How can it be a waste when I'm with people precious to me? The only way I could be happier is if you were to move here. Then everyone I love would be in the same place."

That response would always result in Squalo turning an interesting shade of red before yelling his head off. Which, for Squalo, was just par for the course.

57.

The Varia's coup against the Vongola was an utter catastrophe. Not only had they been betrayed by one of their own - that bastard Ottabio, but now their boss was frozen and contained in the darkest recesses of the Vongola Mansion.

Squalo thought it was the worst thing that had or was ever going to happen in his life.

But of course, Fate's a bitch, and as it is said disasters often arrive in pairs.

58.

"Squ-nii." That was the first thing Take-chan said when Squalo answered the phone

The second was: "Kazu-nii's in the hospital."

And if those four words hadn't resulted in a worried panic coursing through his veins the third thing Take-chan said did.

"I found him this morning passed out in his bedroom. Lying in his own blood."

Those words triggered the long forgotten memory of how exactly Squalo had met Kazumi all those years ago; coughing up his own blood in the woods before nonchalantly wiping it on the grass.

Those memories led to the horrifying realization that Kazumi had been seriously ill for years and had known about it. And hadn't fucking said anything about it!

Squalo let out a streak of curses that would have Kazumi giving him his worst glare if he knew Squalo was using such language in Take-chan's hearing range. He honestly couldn't give a flying fuck.

"Squ-nii are you coming? Please? I'm scared." Nearly begging the nine year old on the phone confessed.

Within an hour Squalo was on a plane bound for Japan.

59.

"Inoue-san, to the best of my knowledge, appears to be suffering from hemapytosis and dyspnea - shortness of breath, trouble breathing, or it could be that his body isn't able to circulate enough oxygen to reach his bloodstream. Hemapytosis, which is, ah, the coughing or spitting up of blood. Both of these symptoms together generally are caused by a more serious underlying condition. From what I gather by how Inoue-san was found, he must have been suffering from a serious coughing bought that caused the dyspnea to be more serious than normal for him, a shortage of oxygen caused him to pass out.

"Though it might be for the best that it happened. From what you all have informed me it appears that Inoue-san had had this condition for years and had refused to seek medical treatment. If this incident hadn't occurred you may not have found out anything was wrong until you found him dead in his bed one morning."

The doctor checked his patient's vitals once more before leaving the room, leaving Inoue-san's family with the terrifying words he had last spoke.

60.

The moment Kazumi was able to open his eyes and sit up in the rather uncomfortable bed he was laying in was the moment that his little brother came flying at him, small arms wrapping around him in a death grip. Sitting in a chair not far away was Tsuyoshi-san who had a pained expression on his face. Squalo was leaning against the wall next to his bed with an unreadable expression on his face.

For a while no one spoke and the only noise in the room was the sound of machines that were monitoring his vitals and the occasional sob from Take-chan muffled against his hospital robe.

Finally, Squalo broke the silence. "If you weren't already in the hospital, Kazumi, I would fucking put you in one."

Even Kazumi being hospitalized due to an illness he had informed none of his loved ones about didn't change Squalo. Not even a little.

And God, did Kazumi love him even more for that.

Please tell me what you think.