Lambo was bouncing restlessly in his seat as we made our way out of Namimori, the afternoon still bright and making him coo as the small boy watched town turn into highway.

I smiled at him before looking over to check on Takeshi. He was on his phone, clicking and laughing at whatever his friends were sending him. He'd lean over now and then to show me what was on his screen, making me snort at their banter.

"Wait, is that from Tsuna?" I blinked, seeing a voice message that was basically just a string of muffled curses.

"Oh yeah, you haven't seen him play a rage game before! You're missing out, Daiki!" Takeshi laughed before dropping himself into my side and cuddling up when I wrapped my arm around him. "Look, look, this is where he's been stuck for half an hour."

I snickered and watched over his shoulder as Tsuna continued to send long-winded voice messages of pain and anguish, occasionally broken up by Hayato chiming in over the sounds of what I thought to be scanners and seasonally appropriate store music.

"Is Hayato at work right now?" I asked.

"Yeah, he works after school most days," Takeshi hummed, then he frowned a bit and said, "We're kinda worried about him, since he hasn't really taken a break since we got back."

I frowned too at that and squeezed Takeshi, quietly assuring him that his concern was valid. He turned his head and shoved his nose into my shoulder, quietly seeking after comfort and I kissed the top of his head warmly.

"It's okay," I murmured. "It's okay, we'll sort it out. For now, just focus on having fun."

Takeshi nodded a bit and I snuck another kiss onto his cheek as he settled down again, periodically sending his friends snapshots of cool landmarks and funny signs.

Lambo cooed and pointed out something until I paid attention to his fascination. He was clutching Mary in his lap, and Mephisto was buckled in next to him, trying to sleep through the trip.

I watched them with a soft smile and quietly urged Lambo to sit properly and stop pulling on his belt. He pouted a bit but did as asked, big green eyes still taking in the speckled households and blue sky.

As soon as Takeshi had arrived home from school we had thrown our bags in Cooper's boot, said our goodbyes and promises to be good to Tsuyoshi and were whisked away.

Takeshi had held my hand when I had looked Cooper in the eye upon his arrival. Cooper from my Watanabe that had fallen to the Millefiore. He had greeted me from behind dark sunglasses and snappy suit, his car clean and unblemished as usual. Not a hair out of place, not a shake in his tone. Completely unaware of what had been changed.

"There seems to be an accident on our usual route, Watanabe-dono," Cooper spoke softly and I snapped to attention as Takeshi did. "Would you like us to take a detour or follow through?"

"Do I have anything urgent to attend to?" I asked.

"No, we are not expected to arrive until only shortly before dinner."

"Then do whatever you prefer, Cooper-san," I deferred, wrapping my arm around Takeshi and kissing his hair again. "I don't mind the extra time with my family."

"We'll stay on route then," he nodded, before pulling up the participation as he tuned into the radio for the wait.

Takeshi smiled and cuddled into my chest, pressing a small smattering of kisses to my cheek and the underside of my chin. He grinned when I let out a laugh and responded with my own kisses before I held him tight and watched as he streamed some baseball game that seemed to be offshore somewhere, the conversation with Tsuna and Hayato seemingly tapered off.

"Samurais are playing again already?"

"No, it's a rerun," Takeshi hummed, tilting his head to make way as I dropped my chin on his shoulder. "I'm trying to figure out how this play worked, look, his hand does this weird twisty-flicky-swish and the American batter can't get rid of it."

"Twisty-flicky-swish," I echoed kindly and he gave me a look of great huff.

"Mama," Lambo called and we both looked over. "Hungry. Can Lambo-san have a snack?"

"Of course, Bo-kun," I cooed before untangling myself from Takeshi and digging around for that lunchbox I had stuffed with little snacks - some just for chewing in case something triggered Takeshi.

Lambo took a moment to make the pressing choice between raisins and apple slices before settling on apples. He hummed as he ate them, quietly slipping Mephisto a little bit after much sniffing from the pup.

"Look, he woke up as soon as he smelt food," I scoffed, before sitting up a bit as I remembered, "Bo-kun, baby, just remember, when we're outside I'm Papa."

Lambo blinked up at me with a mouthful of apple before nodding quickly and I cooed a soft praise at his flexibility. Nonetheless, I'd need to watch him while we were at the Watanabe in case he slipped his terms, I couldn't expect him to be flawless after all.

I stayed loose and pliant as Takeshi grabbed and maneuvered me back to how we were before, all cuddled up and warm again. A soft sound of content hummed in his chest as he leant heavily against my chest. He looked up at me and murmured a soft, "Husband."

"Good boy," I buried a kiss in his hair and relaxed, closing my eyes to listen to every noise my little family made together.

Towards the end of the ride, I held Lambo in my lap, my hand under his chin to keep his head up and ward off any more carsickness. He had taken my phone and played games until nausea had hit him despite my warning.

Lambo groaned as Rain started to scent the air a soft, fresh petrichor. Takeshi was pushing his fire into our space, and I was left once again guessing at how much of Takeshi's application was skill or instinct.

Either way, it was doing wonders on Lambo's nausea, settling his stomach.

"Nearly there, baby," Takeshi assured gently, pointing to the landmarks he had remembered from the last time he had been brought to the Watanabe realm.

Lambo made an impatient noise and hid his face in my chest. He gripped my shirt in his little fists and took deep breaths of rainy affection until he started to relax.

I rubbed his back with a coo before looking up to see us roll to a stop outside the doors to the Watanabe. In the entry stood the shrivelled figure of my grandfather, thin arms crossed tight within baggy sleeves.

I frowned and gently tapped on the partition until Cooper rolled it down and peered at me.

"Take Takeshi and Bo-kun to my dorm," I instructed firmly. "Don't let anyone from the main house run into them, I want to control that introduction."


Takeshi grabbed my arm as I carefully slid Lambo into his lap. His expression was pinched in dislike and concert, jaw clenched tight.

This was the first time I was going into an environment he didn't have control over since the Future.

I made a soft noise and kissed his forehead, wrapping my arms around him in a tight hug.

"I'll be okay," I assured.

"Are you sure I can't come with you? I can sit outside the room."

"I have to do this on my own," I denied, before frowning when he flinched. "I'm sorry."

He ducked his head a little, "Not your fault…"

I kissed him again before turning on our babies, giving Lambo quiet comfort and Mephisto a soft praise as they watched me with trepidation in their eyes. I smiled reassuringly and then nudged my nose against Takeshi's, seeing him spiral in his own head.

"I'll text you when I'm on my way or if anything comes up. Just focus on our baby, he feels sick."

Takeshi nodded quietly but was slow to lose his grip on my arm as I got out of the car. Tinted windows hid Takeshi and Lambo from Watanabe sight and I stood between them until the car slid around the corner and down the narrow driveway to the ladies dorm household.

I thinned my lips and walked across the crunching white gravel of the driveway, the old, sharp eyes of Hiruma Watanabe watching with barely contained glee.

Something had gone right while I had been away, apparently.

I slowly turned my eyes onto the men who were scattered around. They were eyeing me, nervous energy in the air.

"Daiki-kun," I withheld a wince, it felt like I hadn't been called '-kun' in so long. "Welcome home. We've got much to discuss."

I frowned to myself but followed after my grandfather.

The scent of incense and sandalwood hit my nose and I was overcome with sudden pressure on my heart as I thought of these halls going up in fire, of my cousins screaming, of Jun-kun frantically ushering Watanabe members out of the line of fire. Of Cooper making his last stand to buy everyone else time.

I swallowed thickly and brought myself to attention as we turned into my grandfather's preferred tea rooms. He seemed to want complete privacy for this conversation, with tea already set out and when the door slid shut behind us, not a sound leaked through either way.

"How have you been, grandfather?" I asked, knelt on a floor cushion and poured us both tea, needing something to do with my hands.

"Well," he uttered, before clearing his throat roughly. "But let's not beat about the bush. Have you been updated on the health of my dear brother, our Oyabun?"

I sipped quietly, "Yes, Jun-kun has kept me updated. The Oyabun is bedridden."

"Exactly," he grinned, a violent, self-satisfied expression on his face that pulled on every wrinkle and crease. "Since you've come the wheels have been turning. Don't think we haven't noticed, my boy, the timing was impeccable."

I glanced off to the side and didn't say anything on the matter. He was right, after all. The Oyabun had been in fine health before I had arrived; it had taken little more than a few months for him to suddenly become completely bedridden.

"The doctors are doing their best," the doctors were doing the minimum. "But they're reaching their limit. We've received an estimate."

"Months," I uttered plainly. "...I expect my transition into high school to be a busy one."

"Indeed," he nodded, "But don't stress yourself too much. You're still a youth. We wouldn't let a child head the Watanabe. You'll be introduced to your tasks gradually."

"That's a relief."

If I had to narrow down one thing that irked me about my grandfather, the pettiest answer would be his ability to talk himself in circles. Lingering on the same topic, for an exhausting amount of time. It left you feeling like you answered the same question like a broken record.

I wasn't sure if it was skill or a fault. I was sure he had used this habit to his advantage at some point in his life, being able to talk for hours about three points - he was sure to have caught people out on inconsistencies. But I was getting irritated.

I wanted to go back to my Takeshi and Lambo. I wanted to go and rub Mephisto's belly. So many ways this time could be better spent than here.

"-Since the Oyabun is in such fragile health, you've been pardoned from greeting him today. I'll let you go now."

Oh finally.

I tried not to seem too eager as I stood and made my way out. My phone weighed heavy in my pocket with the reminder that I had to text Takeshi, and the urge to check how much time had passed in that room. I sucked on the back of my teeth.

"Daiki-dono! I'm here!" Jun grinned as I turned the corner.

"Jun-kun," I smiled, looking down at the mouse of a boy. "How are you?"

"Very well!" he chirped, before stepping aside. "You are on your way to the Heir dorm?"

"Yes," I pulled my phone out, "I waiting for me there."

Jun glanced at me as we walked and smiled a bit in understanding.

To: Favourite Stalker
Just got out. I'm on my way with Jun-kun.

From: Favourite Stalker
Yay! Okay, see you soon!

"The irezumi appointment is tomorrow morning. Grandfather plans to get as much done in one sitting as possible. He's quite irritated that his work got erased."

"I won't be able to explain it either," I grimaced. "But at least I have them to keep me company while I get jabbed."

Jun blinked, "Has Yamamoto-dono been told of..."

"He knows," I nodded before I stumbled to a stop. "Oh shit."

"My Lord?"

"He doesn't know that you know," I glanced at Jun and winced. "Uh, when I tell him, I'll ask you to leave the room beforehand."

Jun smiled absently, completely uncomprehending. "If you say so, Daiki-dono."

As we reached the border of barren sakura, I was greeted by the sight of Lambo playing with Ame, Nami and Aika, all of them swinging sticks around and shouting in the cool afternoon as Mephisto chased them. Takeshi was sitting on the balcony all wrapped in a blanket, watching the children run about with a careful eye.

I smiled and cupped my hands around my mouth, "Bo-kun! Papa's back!"

Lambo screeched to a halt, turned on a dime and came running, stick abandoned and arms out to grab me.

I knelt down and cooed as he crashed into my chest, "You look like you're feeling better, baby."

"Mhm," Lambo nodded, "Daddy gave me lots of belly rubs and it made me feel lots better!"

"That's good," I hummed, "Daddy knows how to make people feel better. We love Daddy."

"We do!"

I laughed and scooped Lambo up into my arms as I stood up. We looked and saw Takeshi waving, eagerly urging us to come over.

"Daiki-nii-sama," Ame uttered and I looked down at her as she and her cousins continued to poke me with their sticks.

"Hello children," I grinned, poking each in their cheek with my finger. "Did you miss me?"

"Did you bring us snacks?" Aika asked eagerly.

"No not today-" they all abandoned me and went back inside.

I watched them with a slack jaw, Takeshi laughing loudly at my expense. I pouted and settled on cuddling my baby in my arms, kissing his soft little cheek.

"Let's go inside," Takeshi urged, grasping my hand and bringing us into the warm house.

"I will return to my task," Jun smiled, "Have a good afternoon, my Lords."

"Yes, thank you, Jun-kun," I nodded.

"Bye-bye," Takeshi chimed before looking up at me, "Come on, I want to check you. Please?"

"I'd like to see my cousins sometime," I laughed, even as he tugged me along, Mephisto trotting along beside us.

"I'll be quick!" He promised, "I just want to give you a once over. Make sure everything's okay! And, and then I'll let you go."

I watched my Takeshi for a moment, before letting out a breath and saying, "Yeah, okay, let's go to our room then. I need a cuddle, anyway."

"Did something happen?" Takeshi asked quickly, spinning around. "Did your grandfather do something?"

"No," I assured, "Why? Do I need a reason to want to cuddle with my darlings?"

Takeshi blinked and blushed a bit before he squeezed my hand, "Well, no, but- You looked tired."

I blinked before sighing through my nose and rested my cheek on Lambo's head, our baby teasing Mephisto as he walked beside us.

"How could I hide this from you?" I huffed, "Yeah, talking to my grandfather after so much is a bit tiring and I had some bad thoughts but, come on, compared to...others, that man's easy to take care of."

"Mm," Takeshi smiled, and we stopped at our door, "Come on. Bo-kun and I will give you lots of cuddles."

Lambo rolled around on the futon with glee, kicking his legs and grabbing the nice cotton. Jun had brought in the largest futon we had on hand after I had explained all three of us would be sleeping together and Lambo was absolutely losing his mind.

Takeshi, ever the hype man, was hooting and exciting Lambo from my side. His hands were all up inside my shit and I grumbled as he touched and checked my bandages with care.

"Everything feel okay?" Takeshi asked.

"Yeah," I assured for the seventh time since I had been pushed onto our bed. "I'm fine. I promise."

Takeshi looked up at me and pouted before he pressed a kiss on my cheek and smoothed down my shirt again. He hummed when I lent into his hands, continuing to kiss my face as I let my weight rest on his chest.

"Takeshi," I started, looking up at him. Lambo was here, so he'd mind his manners. It was the safest time, for me, to tell him about Jun. Strategy. "I, uh, Jun-kun knows about me."

Takeshi glanced down at me and started to gently pet my hair, "Just now? Is that why you're tired?"

"No," I soothed, before looking off to the side and sheepishly uttering, "No, he was- Jun-kun knew for a while."

He stopped petting my hair. I looked up at him and saw the most peaceful smile on his face.

Ah shit.

"Takeshi, sweetie," I cooed, wrapping my arms around his waist, "You know I love you. Jun-kun...It was necessary to tell Jun-kun."

"Who else knew?" Takeshi asked.

I ducked my head at his tone, dangerously sweet. "Well, Shamal-sensei figured it out too. He's, uh, he's been helping me since."

The hand on my head started to move again, tingles sparking along my scalp as he carded my hair.

"Anyone else?"

"Lussuria-onee saw me," I admitted slowly, "And, uh, so did Xanxus-san."

Takeshi's smile stretched further but in no way kind. I could see the thoughts festering in his eyes, his fingers curling in my hair and his free hand slowly digging nails into my arm.

"You know I love you," I reiterated, "Lussuria-onee and Xanxus-san were an accident, but they weren't as important as you and Ryohei. It didn't matter if they left, but if I lost you then-"

Takeshi leant his forehead against mine and gave a soft coo. I blinked at the touch and relaxed as he hummed at me and nuzzled our noses together making happy little noises when I kissed his cheek, murmuring love to him.

"It's okay," he purred, but his nails still dug into my skin like hooks. "I love you too. You're a good girl. Thank you for telling me."

I closed my eye as Takeshi kissed the scar in my eyebrow and played with my earring. For some reason, I didn't think it was okay, but I knew he wasn't angry at me at least.

"Go hang out with your cousins," Takeshi urged, still playing with my earrings and hair. "I'm gonna, just, make a quick call. Okay?"

I blinked a bit at the dismissal, usually, Takeshi kept me attached at the hip for at least an hour after his infamous 'yandere episodes'.

"You sure, love?" I asked carefully.

"Of course! You haven't seen them in so long! I'll be with you in a second," he smiled and gave me a barrage of kisses before we slowly climbed to our feet.

"Bo-kun, baby, let's go see everyone! Miphy, you coming?"

Mephisto peered at me from the bottom of the futon, Lambo's hands all up in his fur and getting dangerously close to tugging on his ears.

I scooped up Lambo and let Mephisto shake himself out, roaming about to get some personal space after all that groping. He followed close behind but didn't come into the living room as I opened the doors and was greeted by a roomful of my family.

"Daiki-kun!" Honda chimed, sitting at a low table with Sora, both of them helping the young Bunko with her homework.


Aoi lifted her head from inside her pillow cave, blurry-eyed and only half-aware of existence. She spotted me and waved sleepily, before disappearing back into her den.

I snorted a bit in laughter before Toru appeared at my side and started patting me down, going for my pockets.

"He didn't bring snacks!" Ame shouted from where she was prodding the triplets with her stick.

"Why'd you come then?" Toru blinked, before yelping when I smacked her arm and ran away.

I rolled my eyes and released Lambo to his peers when he started to squirm. He didn't get along great with Kana, Mana and Yama despite being closest to their age, Lambo five to their six, but he seemed to enjoy the chaotic energy Ame and Aika shared. I watched as he found Ame's side and immediately the two went into some kind of rough and tumble play.

"Okay, puppy?" I asked one last time, Mephisto laid down in the open door.

He let out a huff and I took that as a yes. I walked into the room and dropped down with a heave beside Honda, the woman leaning against my shoulder in greeting.

I couldn't see Gin, but I could hear her playing from the courtyard balcony, probably watching the sunset like she did most afternoons.

"She's trying out meditation," Sora explained, before handing Bunko some working out paper and walking her through triangle rules.


I looked up and smiled as Chrome stuck her head in from the garden where Gin was playing.

"Chrome!" I greeted, encouraging the girl to come sit beside me. "How have you been, baby bird?"

"I've been well," she smiled, "Mostly resting. Those fights, they, uh, took a lot out of me."

"That's good that you're resting," I nodded, "Know your limits and look after yourself."

"Yes," she hummed, looking pleased and I reached across to fix a piece of hair that was sticking up from her fringe. "T...Takeshi is here too?"

Chrome seemed a bit hesitant to say Takeshi's name so blatantly and a rosy hue stained her cheeks as she forced it out.

"Yeah, Takeshi's here somewhere," I told her, "He'll be with us soon."

Chrome nodded in understanding before scanning the room to find Lambo. She smiled and went over to start poking my baby, Lambo squealing and poking her in response before diving for cover when she found his ticklish nooks and crannies.

"Your concubine is out today," Honda hummed, "Usually she'd be trailing after Chrome-chan. They've become quite the pair."

"I'm glad they're getting along," I breathed, "Chrome finds it hard to make friends."

"She's come quite out of her shell since she got here, though she's still quiet."

"You just need to get her talking about what she likes," Kaguya scoffed. "Owls, woman! Show her a picture of a baby owl and she melts!"

"They loaf!" Chrome announced before shrinking in on herself when we looked to her.

I chuckled as she slowly turned red and grabbed one of Aoi's pillows to hide behind.

"Where's Naomi-chan?" I asked, being merciful and looking around.

Honda looked up, snorted, and then covered her mouth quickly.

"Naomi-chan is in… self-imposed punishment."

"I beg your pardon?" I blinked.

"Naomi-chan, our dear imouto, is a fickle woman!" Kaguya gasped, sliding into the room from the balcony, crawling on her hands and knees. "Despite pledging her heart to her darling Daiki-nii-sama, she has found another! No, she has found two others!"

"She's crushing on someone else?" I asked, trying to hide the hopeful tone in my voice.

"She's crushing-" Kaguya scrambled closer and whispered into my ear, "on a couple!"

I turned.

"No not you," she scolded, "You and your pretty boy are safe. She's crushing on this lesbian couple from school. She's trying to come to terms with it."

"Has she been well?" I asked carefully, worrying what this 'self-imposed punishment' entailed and exactly why she was being punished.

"She's more upset that her dream of being your bride is going down the drain," Sora assured, "We've always known our Naomi-chan was a bit...fruity."

"But anyway, you might expect a heartfelt, tearful apology before you leave, Daiki-nii-sama. She might grill your sweetheart to make sure he doesn't abandon you too."

"She hasn't abandoned me," I laughed, "She's my cousin. No, you guys are stuck with me. I'm not getting separated from you again."

"We're happy you came home to us," Honda smiled and I reflected that with equal affection.

"Papa!" Lambo whined and I looked over to receive my baby into my lap. "When's dinner?"

"I don't know. When is dinner, Honda-onee?" I asked, my hands absently massaging Lambo's little one, little happy noises coming from him.

"In half an hour," she told her nephew, "Since Bo-kun and Yamamoto-san are here, we'll be having quite a feast!"

"Yay!" Lambo cheered, eyes wide and gleaming at the promise of food.

I smiled and kissed the top of his head, curly hair so unbelievably soft and smelling of cotton flower. My baby settled in my lap after that, taking one of my hands and urging it to play and card his hair until his eyes drooped, cheek squished into my thigh.

"You sleep as much as Aoi-chan, I swear," I laughed but continued to soothe him.

"He'll grow to be tall," Honda reasoned and I hummed hopefully.

Then I heard a 'ping!' and grabbed my phone, a confused pinch to my brow when I saw Lussuria had texted me.

From: that one annoying guy
How did your boy get Boss' number!?

I blinked and made two decisions: one to change Lussuria's name in my phone finally, and two to find where Takeshi was.

"Takeshi!" I called, "Takeshi, honey!"


From: Big Sis Luss

From: Big Sis Luss
Actually I'm kinda impressed. Never heard someone sound so happy and threatening over text before

From: Big Sis Luss
I think Boss thinks it's funny

A long pause.

From: Big Sis Luss
Oh no gotta go byeeeeee

I stared at my phone for a long moment before slowly turning my head as Takeshi came into the room, a chipper skip to his step. He smiled in a way that made it look like the sun shone on his face before he came and cuddled up to my side.

"Darling," I cooed, abandoning my phone to wrap my arm around his shoulders and keep him close. "Were you, by chance, doing something silly? Like threatening Xanxus-san?"

Takeshi blinked cutely, "Maybe."

"How did you even get his number?"

"I had Squalo-san's from when he, uh, we practised together. I asked for Xanxus-san's number so I could annoy him. He gave it to me."

"Takeshi," I sighed, suddenly exhausted.

"It's fine!" he laughed, leaning into my shoulder. "Xanxus-san was cool with it!"

"I'm sure he was."

I took a moment to play with Lambo's hair again before looking to Takeshi and asking, "Are you feeling better at least?"

"Yes! I'm glad he and I got to chat!" He smiled "Just touching base and reminding him to stay away from what's not his and a few other things!"

I thinned my lips. I decided this wasn't worth unpacking tonight and kissed him on the forehead instead.

"So long as you feel better I suppose," I sighed, before pushing Kaguya over, the girl had listened with great interest. "Don't you have something better to do?"

"Nope," she chirped, rolling onto her stomach, "Takeshi-san! Tell me about you and Daiki-nii-sama!"

Oh, that was the ticket. If you wanted Takeshi to talk, there were two fastest routes: sports and relationships.

I reached over and stole Bunko's bowl of study snacks, ignoring her squawk of indignation.

"I know dinner is fifteen minutes away, but I expect to be here for a while," I told her, and settled in for a long sit as Takeshi began regaling Kaguya of a warm summer's day in Namimori.

. . .

I rolled onto my back with a groan as the alarm on my phone awoke me in the morning. I stared at the ceiling, taking a moment to wake up before I sighed and remembered my appointments for the day.

"Why so early?" Takeshi asked, curled up with his head resting on my bicep, Lambo held tight in his arms.

I smiled a bit at his voice, enjoying that nice, rough sound he adopted after just waking up.

"Irezumi," I said plainly, not in the mood to talk a lot. "A bit scared."

Takeshi woke up more at that, and lifted his head to look at me better. I saw the moment it dawned on him, the sheer amount of times I was going to be stabbed by tiny needles. He reached across and gently rubbed circles in my chest.

"I'll stay with you," he promised, "You'll be okay."

"Yeah," I sighed, grasping his hand and kissing it. "Probably won't talk too much, though."

"It's okay," Takeshi laughed, "I can talk enough for both of us. We can watch something fun. Can you take breaks?"

"Not really. Once he starts he doesn't like stopping. He gets in the zone and gets cranky if you ask him to stop."

Takeshi frowned and ran his thumb along my collarbone.

"He's fast, though," I reasoned, "Debatably one of the fastest considering how detailed his work is."

"Do we have to get up now?"

"The tattooist is coming in an hour," I answered, checking the time. "We have to clear the room for him to set up. But we can sleep for a bit longer."

"Then come," Takeshi urged, "Sleep with us for a bit, set your alarm again."

I did as told before rolling over and pressed myself against Lambo's back, Takeshi craning forward to kiss my lips and cuddle in tight. I closed my eyes and hummed as Takeshi cuddled right up against me, our Lambo securely held between us and the warmth of Mephisto on my feet.

"I'll look after you," Takeshi promised, his hand running along my back. "I'll look after you and keep you safe."

. . .

I winced as a folder full of stencils and designs came down on my head, the old Hayashi glaring down at me like I was the lowest scum on earth.

"How do you lose an entire irezumi!?" He bellowed, hysteria and disbelief in his voice.

"It was an accident," I murmured, before yelping as I was smacked again.

"An entire sleeve and then some!" Hayashi screeched, before giving a weak breath and sitting down. "My poor work. Wasted on you."

Takeshi peered out from behind me, his hands on my back in a show of silent support. Despite this, he looked like he was struggling to hold back laughter.

"Bastard," I pouted, before grabbing him by the chin and squishing his face.

"I see you brought the boy this time," Hayashi continued, like everything about me had irked him. "Here in the flesh rather than you stalking him for hours."

"Stalking?" Takeshi echoed, deviously interested. "Daiki stalked me?"

"You are the last person to act surprised, you stalked me for six years," I responded curtly and he didn't even have the sense to seem sheepish as he grinned at me.

The old Hayashi grimaced at us, "Jun-kun, I told you not to make any weird friends."

"They are an interesting pair," Jun defended weakly, entering the room with refreshments and snacks for everyone. "Daiki-dono, your son is with the ladies now."

"Thank you, Jun-kun," I hummed before Hayashi started bullying me into getting started already.

I glanced at Takeshi before wriggling my way out of my shirt. We had foregone bandages today, letting my skin breathe. If either of the Hayashi men had questions about the scars that rode up my stomach, neither voiced them and simply continued their tasks as I got comfortable.

Takeshi looked a bit miffed and pressed himself against my skin greedily, like he was covering me from prying eyes for as long as he could. I hummed and grasped his hand in my own before dropping a kiss on it, assuring him that it was okay.

"Let's get the outline started then," Hayashi sighed before adding a disgruntled, "Again."

I inclined my head and laid down on my stomach, left arm extended out to the tattooist. I blinked before making a soft, happy sound as Takeshi appeared beside me, sitting next to my head where I could see him, my free hand clasped in his.

He'd look after me, he promised.

I held my breath when a cold, clean hand laid on my shoulder, the template laid in thin, purple ink on my skin. Takeshi spoke to me about the others, ranting and rambling about Hayato leaving him on read all the time

"Does tebori hurt?" Takeshi asked.

"Most people say it hurts less than the machines," Hayashi explained, and I heard him apply Nara ink to his needles.

"That's good," my love murmured before he started playing with my hair and talking to me again.

Hayashi wiped my skin one more time before bracing his hand. I swallowed and bowed my head against Takeshi's hand.

The first prick of needles into my skin.

I closed my eyes and tried not to hold my breath. Rain fell across fire and started to ebb and flow, urging me to follow its pattern and breathe a steady in and out.

I couldn't lose it, not here, not in the Watanabe. I had to maintain decorum. Maintain strength.

"I love you," Takeshi reminded me gently, "You're gonna look so pretty with your irezumi again."

I managed to twitch a smile onto my face, and heard Takeshi coo in response. Waves of Rain washed over me, dulling out the panic that tried to well up with every poke, swamping my senses with a heavy calm that made my body sag. The hand in my hair carded and caressed, sparking shivers and tingles, and the hand wrapped around my own nearly burnt with warmth.

I blinked slowly, stubbornly trying to keep my head above the surface of that foggy feeling that urged me down. Takeshi was still talking to me and I wanted to listen, wanted to hear about how he planned to tackle his assignments in well-timed chunks this time despite how we both knew he'd be crying at 2am on the due date. But even his voice was working against me, adopting that low tone he knew I was weak to.

'Just relax, Daiki. I'll be here to look after you.'

My Flames flickered at the soft call, Rain seeping into every crack and cranny before it gently pried my hold away. A long breath seeped out of me, every muscle unwound, and I fell victim to Rain.


Takeshi smiled as Daiki fell asleep. Shamal had told him Daiki would need to reserve her strength for a while, and had made sure to drive home the idea of sleeping as much as possible. It was a bit late now, considering she was on the tail end of her bed-rest period, but Takeshi thought some was better than none in the upcoming days.

Takeshi wasn't as skilled at using his Flames as someone like Daiki or Tsuna, but he was learning fast. Ever since they had returned from the Future, in those brief times he allotted to himself, Takeshi practised control exercises slipped to him by Reborn.

He had been using it on his family and friends, noticing who was easier to coax and who resisted. Hayato was by far the hardest to calm down, his Flames as petty as the person and the mere suggestion at being tranquilised by anyone other than their Sky made him fly into a reactive rage. Tsuna was easier, something in his Sky more receptive to a Harmonised Flame's tending.

By far the easiest was Lambo and Daiki. They trusted him unquestioned, and Takeshi could already ease them with words alone. A hand to hold, a kiss on the cheek already did wonders on Daiki's stress, and if you put Lambo in Takeshi's lap their little baby was out like a light. So when Takeshi wrangled his Rain, he was better than any medication Shamal could prescribe.

It was a source of pride for him. A source of comfort. The knowledge that he could put his family at ease.

He had been using it to its full advantage; soothing Lambo's nightmares, encouraging Daiki to rest. Daiki had told him he couldn't take her things anymore, so he had to find a new way to keep her happy that didn't disgruntle her. What better way than on-demand sleepy cuddles?

It made her feel good, made him feel happy. Everyone won!

Takeshi smiled to himself again and continued to play with his wife's hair, absently making little braids in the blue. He hummed idly and got comfortable, laying on his side next to Daiki, watching her sleep.

Neither Hayashi Jun nor the tattooist mentioned his behaviour, busily consumed by their tasks. Takeshi was more than happy to just lay in silence too, letting his Rain wash over his wife and keep her sleepy.

She was going to have trouble getting to sleep tonight after this, but Takeshi preferred that to her having to suffer through this. And maybe they could play instead after Lambo fell asleep.

Takeshi blinked as his phone pinged.

Oh right, they wouldn't be alone tonight. He'd have to find a way to squeeze in some handsy affection before lunch instead.

. . .

By the time the old Hayashi tattooist took a break, it was well into Lambo's lunchtime. One look at the clock told Takeshi that he should be expecting the boy to come fumbling into their room with demands of food.

"Are they going to wake up or what," the tattooist grumbled and Takeshi laughed, running his hands along the unmarked skin of Daiki's back.

"Sweetie, time to get up," he cooed, and carefully went about drawing his Rain away from her, unwinding its hold on her pyre. A soft sound leaked out of her throat and Takeshi smiled in greeting as amber-earth eyes opened to peer up at him. "Welcome back. It's lunchtime."

"Food," Daiki cheered lazily and Takeshi chuckled before planting a kiss on her cheek.

"Come on, we need to feed the baby too."

That got her moving. The wellbeing of their baby was always priority to Daiki.

Takeshi watched in fascination as she slowly rolled her shoulders and massaged her neck, working out the tension from sleeping in an awkward position for edging on four hours. She grumbled and shifted to sit properly on her futon, looking around the room as the tattooist went to stretch and rest his arm.

"Sorry I fell asleep," Daiki murmured to him, rubbing her face. "You must have been bored."

"It's okay," Takeshi assured, coming up beside her and kissing her cheek. "You can't put on a shirt...Do we want to bring Bo-kun in here? Have lunch together here?"

"Yeah, that's an idea," Daiki agreed airily, "Can I get you to grab our babies?"

"Of course," Takeshi grinned and kissed her again before getting to his feet.

As Takeshi walked out, Jun came around the corner balancing three people's worth of meals.

"Doing okay there?" Takeshi asked.

"Yes, my Lord!" Jun assured, before ducking into the room and setting up their table, happily chatting with Daiki who received him with a warm, sleepy smile.

Takeshi stomped down the ugly feeling that rose up in his chest, the one that demanded he go back in the room and smother Daiki. That loudly declared that sleepy smile belonged to him, that those sorts of expressions should only be shown to him.

But Takeshi was getting better at ignoring those thoughts. He let himself have them, let them pass through, but knew better than to act on such ideas. It was made easier by the quick smile Daiki sent his way, waiting expectantly for him to come back with their Lambo and Miphy.

"Bo-kun!" Takeshi called as he entered the living room and from a mass of pillows and blankets the curly hair of Lambo poked out.

The boy was giggling, thinking he was completely hidden from prying eyes. He shook with barely stifled laughter, hands over his mouth and resisting the urge to blow his cover.

Takeshi put his hands on his hips and smiled down at his baby. Mephisto yawned from the foot of the pillow mountain, a ball balanced on his paws that he occasionally licked.

"Ah, I wonder where Bo-kun went?" Takeshi said loudly, and Honda looked up with a fond smile as she hushed the youths who eagerly pointed out the obvious black curls. "Have you seen Bo-kun anywhere?"

Ame stifled a giggle and shook her head 'no'.

"Eh? What about Mana-chan?"

The triplets looked up at once and tried to avoid turning their gaze at Lambo, trying not to be obvious, but all three pairs of eyes strayed anyway. They shook their heads 'no'.

"Oh, where could Bo-kun be?" Takeshi sighed, completely confounded and smothering his own grin. "Maybe under the table?"

"No!" Aika laughed, clapping her hands in glee.

"Oh? Is he...hiding in the pot plant?"

"No!" the triplets denied together, holding hands as they started following Takeshi around the room in his search.

"Oh! I know where Bo-kun is!" Takeshi gasped, "He's on the ceiling!"

Takeshi looked up. Lambo grinned down at him.

Wait, that wasn't part of the plan.

"Daddy!" Lambo cheered and let go of the suction cups that held him up, falling into open arms. "Daddy found me!"

Takeshi opened his mouth, closed it, and then looked at what he had thought was Lambo in the cushion pile. He nudged it and an odd decoy doll fell on the floor for Mephisto to sniff idly.

"Where'd you get that, baby?" Takeshi asked as Mephisto began to gnaw on the doll.

"Hair," Lambo answered easily, shoving his fist into his curls and producing a candy.

"Oh, well, let's not put that in your mouth," Takeshi uttered, taking the lollie before he could consume it. "Papa's waiting for us to have lunch with him."

"Eh, Daiki-nii-sama isn't coming out?" Aika asked, tugging on his pant leg to get the Rain's attention.

"No, sorry, Daiki's getting his irezumi done and has lots of work. He won't be coming out much today."

Takeshi smiled apologetically down at Aika who looked disheartened. He supposed they didn't get to see Daiki often, not nearly as much as he did, and they wanted Daiki time too.

"I'll make sure he comes and plays with you sometime. I won't let him leave before he does. Daiki has to listen to me, I'm his boyfriend," Takeshi promised.

Takeshi hiked Lambo up onto his hip and brought him back to Daiki's room. He hummed a happy greeting as Daiki looked up at their entrance, the darling cooing and reaching for their baby.

"Bo-kun," Daiki purred, cuddling Lambo to her chest. "My Bo-kun, Papa missed you."

Lambo giggled and pressed his cheek to Daiki's skin, enjoying the skin-on-skin contact.

"Lambo-san tricked Daddy!" Lambo cheered.

"Really?" Daiki blinked, letting the boy roam from her lap, quickly replaced by a snowy puppy that demanded pets. "Hello, Miphy."

"Yeah! Yeah!" Lambo continued, stumbling over to Takeshi and choosing to sit in that lap instead as Takeshi tried to start his lunch. "Daddy looked all over for Lambo-san!"

"He was on the ceiling," Takeshi uttered, looking at Daiki. "Since when could he get on the ceiling?"

"Oh, Bo-kun did that again?" Daiki blinked, pausing giving Mephisto a thorough petting. "Did he use the decoy?"

"This happened before?"

"Mhm. Don't worry, once you live with him for a while you start to pick up on his tricks. Bo-kun's very creative."

Takeshi stared for a moment before he let out a fond sigh and started pressing kisses on Lambo's face, their baby whining and trying to duck away. He laughed and let Lambo go, watching their boy crawl over to his own food and dig in, barely willing to let the food make the trip from the table and bowing his head over the bowls.

"Bo-kun, please," Daiki groaned.

Takeshi blinked up at Daiki before copying the action. Daiki put her face in her hands with a muffled, "fucking insufferable."

"Language in front of the baby," Takeshi scolded without heat.

Then Takeshi's phone pinged three rapid texts. He looked to his phone and smiled, the guys were sending him pictures of spotty houses and funny landmarks. Tsuna sent him a picture of Kyoko and Ryohei sharing a cup of ice cream, Hayato grumpily on his phone. Beside each of them was a heavy backpack.

Takeshi smiled when Daiki nudged him.

"Come on, love, eat," she urged, "You can talk to the others when you're done."

She wasn't wrong.


The Watanabe Compound was usually a quiet place. A place I thought separated from the chaos from Namimori, a different kind of tension bred here.

Or, at least, it used to be separated from the chaos of the Namimori breed.

I stood on the gravel of the driveway, arms crossed, and watched Takeshi poke at Hayato's temper while Tsuna tried to stop Ryohei from railing them both up enough to trash the courtyard, meanwhile Kyoyo was looking around at the architecture and landscaping with glee. They each had bags at their feet and a cursory glance was enough to tell me that each had clothes and toiletries for a night.

I glanced at Takeshi and sighed, rubbing my forehead.

"Darling, did you plan this?"

"Yes," Ryohei answered before Takeshi could respond.

I snorted sharply and covered my mouth as Takeshi whipped around and stared at Ryohei who was grinning with the usual sunshine. I snickered and called my brother over into a hug, making a happy noise as he bowled into me and tried to break my ribs, both of us squeezing too hard on purpose.

"School's so boring without you," Ryohei sobbed, letting his legs go weak and hang off of me. "I have no one to annoy, it's so lonely!"

"Bro, I'm so sorry I put you through that," I gasped, clutching him to my chest. "It's gonna be okay, we're back. It's gonna be okay."

"We should go back to the dorm," Takeshi sighed, pouty after being disregarded.

"If you give me some time, my Lord," Jun began, appearing from the building with a nervous glance around to make sure no one had noticed the sudden visitors. "I can prepare your dorm for your guests. Four in total?"

"Yes thank you, Jun-kun," I smiled. "Sorry for the short notice-" I paused and glanced over them again. Reborn had a hand in this so, "Actually, Jun-kun, prepare three more beds."

"Of course, not a problem," he assured me, trying to reflect the smile despite how I saw him fight to not cower from the 'Flaming warriors' that had gathered. "Seven beds. It will be a tight squeeze."

"We won't mind," Takeshi laughed, before waving as Jun bowed and ran off to collect extra bedding.

"Wow, you really do have a whole Yakuza going on here," Tsuna gaped, still looking around.

"Che," Hayato scoffed, crossing his arms. "Looks stuffy as hell."

Well, he wasn't wrong. I turned back to the crowd and raised an eyebrow, "I don't for a second believe Reborn didn't come with you."

"He's around here somewhere," Tsuna admitted, utterly resigned to his fate.

"He's probably getting the lay of the land," I grumbled, before hoisting Ryohei back onto his feet and hooking our arms together. "Well let's get you guys out of sight before my grandfather comes sniffing. Come meet my cousins."

"They're all girls right?" Kyoko asked, getting me by my other arm and sandwiching me between Sasagawas. "And Chrome's here too today?"

"Yes, so you girls will outnumber the boys," I smiled.

"Yeah, he's got so many cousins!" Takeshi beamed and everyone turned their heads at once.


I felt a nudge at my Forge and I glanced over a Ryohei, before inclining my head in a nod. Heads turned forward again and they fell back into their rhythm as the sakura border of the Dorms came into view.

"We can't go inside right now, but we can hang out in the garden," I explained idly, harp music reaching my ears through open doors.

"Wow, look at that!" Kyoko gasped, jumping on the spot. "It's like a resort!"

"Let's go find Chrome so we can all hang out," I hummed. "You guys stay here, Kyoko and I will go in."

"Aw, what about me?" Ryohei pouted.

"If all of us show up, Chrome might shy away," I explained, "She got close with Kyoko in Future."

"We'll be back!" Kyoko teased and tugged me into the Dorms.

At least six pairs of eyes turned as Kyoko and I entered the room, every pair scanning the new girl with critique and interest. Honda's eyes trailed our arms and lingered on our connected hands, an eyebrow raised.

"Guys, this is Kyoko," I introduced, pulling her forward as she beamed. "She's one of my friends from home, basically my little sister."

"It's nice to meet you," she smiled, "Thank you for looking after Ki-nii, he can be a handful."

"I am a delight," I huffed.

"He keeps picking the capsicum out of his food," Honda sighed forlornly.

"I don't think I've seen Daiki-nii-sama drink water since he came here. Just sweet teas," Sora chimed in.

"Ki-nii has a sweet tooth," Kyoko agreed before laughing as I cuffed her shoulder.

"Says you. I've seen you demolish a cake on your own. Now stop bullying me, let's get Chrome."

My little sister continued to quickly heckle me as we made our way down to Chrome's room, the scent of Mist making my nose tickle. We stood in front of the door and I sent a little pulse of sunshine to warn her of our arrival.

"Should we..?" Kyoko asked as we stood there longer.

"Chrome is a private person," I explained gently, "She knows we're here, just give her some time to get ready."

Just as I said this, there was a loud clatter from inside the room and both of us lurched a bit. I thinned my lips and withheld the desire to go inside and check, running Flame over Mist to check without invasion.

"I'm fine!" Chrome's soft voice assured.

There was another clatter, more subdued, before the door slid open and Chrome stepped out. She was dressed down and bundled up in a blanket and she smiled shyly when she saw Kyoko standing beside me.

"Hello," she greeted, nearly hiding in her blanket as the sunny girl beamed.

"Hi, Chrome! Everyone's here for a sleepover, you wanna join?"

Chrome blinked, "Sleepover? Oh, uh-"

She floundered a bit on the spot, glancing between us before looking up at me for some sort of support.

I smiled reassuringly. "We're just sitting outside right now while the room is prepared."

"Do you want to come with us? We're just outside if you want to put something warmer on." Kyoko said, eager to get this girl out and about.

"I...I'll put on a jacket. I'll be out in a minute."

"Okay, we'll see you," I nodded before tugging Kyoko along before she could jump the poor Mist.

When we exited the building, it was with Ame and Aika clinging to my legs, laughing in delight as I made large steps that raised them up. Lambo pouted in Kyoko's arms, very upset that Papa's attention had been stolen by other kids.

"Is Chrome coming?" Tsuna asked, standing between Takeshi and Hayato like a physical barrier.

"She's just grabbing a jacket," I told him before noticing Hayato's temper spike. I grabbed Takeshi's arm and pulled him to my chest, wrapping my film-covered arm around his shoulders and kissing his forehead. "Let's not start a fight just yet."

Ame scrunched her nose up at the affection I showed Takeshi as he cuddled into my hold, the two girls breaking off to run amok in the garden. I smiled and held Takeshi properly, taking Lambo from Kyoko as I did.

Chrome sat next between Tsuna and me, seeming most at ease with us on either side of her. Her hands were buried in white fur, Mephisto rolled on his back to receive glorious belly rubs from the shy Mist.

Takeshi was on Tsuna's other side and pestering Hayato again, his favourite pastime these days. Something in the Future must have knocked something into shape for those two, for as Takeshi poked and prodded, Hayato met it with the same energy and the slightest uptick in the corners of his lips.

Takeshi caught me looking at them and smiled brightly.

"I know you came all this way to hang out, but I do have work to do here," I admitted as we all sat on the balcony, Lambo cradled in my lap. "I've been gone for a while."

"Aw, come on," Ryohei pouted, flopping on the floor next to me. "First your injury's taken you from me and now your Yakuza doo-das? Am I ever gonna have time to hang with you?"

"Sorry, bro," I apologised, "Things just aren't lining up these days."

"At least you can have dinner with us!" Takeshi smiled before blinking when I winced.

"No, there's going to be another dinner in the main house tonight. The Watanabe is known for partying, other clans would know something is wrong if we suddenly toned it down."

"Oh that's fine," Takeshi sighed, looking relieved, "I can just get Kimiko-chan to help me get ready and go with you!"

I snorted loudly, "Maybe you could slip in, but Ryohei would have a tough time passing."

"Then he could just go as your friend!" Takeshi said easily, "I dress pretty so I can kiss you in front of everyone."

"...Dress pretty," Hayato echoed slowly, a look of denial on his face.

"My Takeshi looks lovely in a kimono," I smiled.

Tsuna wheezed loudly and Kyoko started to go for my phone, demanding that if I had pictures I was to hand them over. With a quick nudge, I handed Lambo off to Ryohei and started wrestling with Kyoko, keeping her vying hands away from my phone, partly out of petty spite and partly because of the photos Takeshi had sent me over the months - they weren't scandalous or inappropriate, we weren't ready for that, but they were mine.

"You said he was pretty, show me!" Kyoko insisted, clawing at the ground as I dragged her away.

"Absolutely not," I responded, and for good measure, I dropped her into Tsuna's lap, ignoring his screech. "Hold her for me."

Tsuna looked like he had both ascended and petrified in a single moment.

"Great, so you're both putting gender roles in the blender now," Hayato sighed, crossing his arms as Takeshi laughed at the chaos.

"That's the dream," I chimed idly, plopping back down in my spot and laying with Ryohei on the floor.

I watched Lambo get to his feet and run off after Ame and Aika, bored with the older kids' antics and more invested in stick-lightsaber fights. Ryohei blinked at me before he shifted around and offered an arm.

Takeshi sat up a bit, "Eh? Daiki if you wanna lay down come lay on me!"

"Sorry, love, but this is the original pillow person," I laughed, cuddling my cheek against Ryohei's chest.

"Yeah, I was the first generation!" Ryohei cheered, slinging his arm around my shoulders and keeping me tight against him.

Kyoko perked up and abandoned the rigid Sky to dump herself on Ryohei's other side, all three of us cuddling up in a way we had for years. I took a breath and smelt the warm scent of sunshine heavy in the air, three Flames vibrating at the same frequency.

"Sun pile!" Ryohei laughed.

"If we're talking Sun pile," I hummed, glancing to the others who watched. "There's another Sun here that needs to be included."

"Hayato's a Sun too technically!" Ryohei gasped, sitting up sharply and nearly bowling Kyoko off.

"Huh? Wait- no, stop!"

I laughed and pulled a pouting Kyoko into my arms as Ryohei wrestled Hayato over to our side of the group, the poor Storm Primary kicking and screaming for release, for rescue. Kyoko and I grinned at each other and in moments, Hayato was smothered beneath the weight of two Sasagawas and a Yamaguchi.

"There we go, a proper Sun pile," I snickered, holding Hayato's arms at his sides in a constricting hug.

"Wow, Hayato looks really handsome up close," Kyoko giggled, laying on top of the boy and looking at his face with interest. "You should go into modelling if this whole Mafia deal doesn't work out."

"We've been EXTREMELY neglecting you as a Sun, Hayato!" Ryohei bellowed on his other side, his bicep acting as a communal pillow.

"Well, now you just blew out my fucking eardrum!" Hayato screamed back, seemingly near hysterics.

"Hey, it's okay," I hummed, and the Storm Primary looked horrified as Kyoko started petting his silver hair calmingly. "Let's not fight, we're cuddling right now."

Then I felt a little warmth press against my back and I froze, knowing that Flame anywhere. Reborn leant against the small of my back, fedora down, as he basked in the collective sunshine.

"This is the Sun pile, no?" He asked, barely audible, and barely visible to the group from the angle we were laying at.

I blinked, before relaxing and uttering, "Yeah. No fighting, we're all Suns here."

Vaguely, I heard Takeshi ask, "Hey Tsuna, you think I could change to Sun too? I wanna cuddle with Daiki."

"Ah… I don't think that's how it works."

. . .

I groaned and put my head on my desk as Jun came scuttling in with another thick wad of folders for me to read through. Off to the side, my friends were playing games on their phones and showing each other funny videos.

"Bastards," I pouted.

"Hurry up and finish your work then," Kyoko laughed, she and Chrome crowding around Mephisto who was making little barks at a video of a golden retriever.

Ryohei at least was at my side, laying on the floor next to me and scrolling through his phone. His foot was rocking with restlessness, but he didn't seem to want to stray far now that we were together again, occasionally reaching out to poke me in the side like a brat.

I lifted my head and looked forlornly over at Takeshi who was happily ignoring me to hang out with his peers. He laughed and leant back on his hands as Hayato shouted something at him.

"I'm taking a break," I decided, already abandoning my desk.

"No you're not," Jun gasped, "There's so much left."

"I'm taking a break," I said again and walked over to my Takeshi.

The group looked up as I approached and I gave them a nod of acknowledgment, before kneeling down and setting myself happily in Takeshi's lap. He hummed at the sudden weight but eagerly wrapped his arms around my waist as I leant against his chest, arms around his shoulders and crooning into his ear.

"My pretty Daiki," he laughed, kissing my shoulder and the corner of my jaw. "Did you need a cuddle?"

I huffed and just sat there, letting him hold me while he continued to talk to his friends over my shoulder like it was the most natural thing in the world.

Ryohei rolled over the tatami all the way across the room before flopping in front of me, making a disgruntled expression at being abandoned for another man. I grumbled and reached a hand out to him, my brother Sun idly slapping it about before poking our fingers together with a soft 'ET phone home…'.

"What're you doing back there?" Takeshi asked, rubbing his hand on the low of my back.

"Playing," Ryohei answered and started smacking my hand again.

I felt Takeshi shift under my lap and I quickly squeezed him all over with arms and thighs. He pressed his expression into my shoulder and wrapped Rain around my Sun, possessiveness and a mix of sheepishness to the Flame.

"Not that kind of play, clean your brain," I scolded jokingly.

"I know!" He whined, "Don't be mean to me, Daiki!"

I dropped a kiss on his head and cuddled him until his pout faded off and he started guarding against Tsuna's probing questions of 'play? What did you think they meant? It's just playing' and Hayato's crumpled face of disgust.

I smiled as Takeshi continued to rub my back, Rain seeping into my muscles and making them relax until I rested my full weight against his chest.

Ryohei rolled onto his back and chattered at me about whatever came to his mind, never staying on one topic for too long before he bounced over somewhere else and then suddenly remembered the stem of the topic. I hummed now and then to show I was listening, the scent of petrichor making my brain foggy and drowsy as I relaxed.

"Is my Daiki happy?" Takeshi asked and I hummed mindlessly. "Try not to fall asleep, wife."

"You're the one making me cozy," I grumbled, rolling my head until my face was buried in the side of his throat. "Getting all that Rain on me."

Takeshi mumbled something inaudible but indignant and gave me a squishy hug, all but purring into my ear as he got his fill. Then he pouted as I started untangling myself, fingers holding onto my clothes as I sat back on my heels.

"Going back to work?" he asked, looking forlorn to see me go.

"Yeah, lots to do," I sighed, and Ryohei made a noise of impatience to accompany Takeshi's whine.

"Okay, we'll come with you then," Ryohei decided and I blinked as everyone moved with me over to my desk.

Jun dumped another stack of summaries of the documented movements of the Watanabe in the recent days; he gave me an apologetic smile.

"Come on Daiki, you can get through it," Takeshi assured me and pushed his way into my lap as soon as I sat down.

Ryohei returned to his original position, poking and prodding me with his elbow until Kyoko came and not-so-accidentally sat directly on his organs until he wheezed. She continued her chat with Chrome who smiled as she listened quietly, Mephisto panting up a storm as she buried her hands in his white fur.

I smiled and got back to work, feeling inexplicably warmer as I listened to the white noise, low murmur of everyone.

. . .

"Daiki-dono, it's time for dinner. Will I need to guide Yamamoto-dono to Kimiko-san tonight?" Jun asked as he entered the room.

I looked up from the last pages of today's workload, Takeshi moved to lay on his belly across my lap and play cards with everyone else, betting pockey sticks as currency. Hayato was in the lead, and Tsuna was only saved by the fact that Ryohei couldn't hold a poker face to save himself and thus working with one broken stick.

"Takeshi," I called, laying a hand on the small of his back and getting him to pause his turn. "You going to get ready with Kimiko-chan tonight?"

"Yeah," he nodded before stretching and getting to his knees beside me. "Kiss before I go?"

"Can you swing by Bo-kun with the girls? Make sure he knows we'll be back before it's bedtime so he won't get scared."

"Of course."

I hummed and pressed a quick kiss on him before Takeshi hopped up and followed Jun out of the room. I stretched my legs out with a wheezed groan before getting to my feet and bending my back until it cracked.

"Okay kids," I sighed, turning back to the ragtag group that was sprawled across my bedroom floor. "Time to do some quick, basic grooming before dinner."

"Do we have to," Ryohei whined.

"Yes," I said shortly and tossed a hairbrush at him, getting him in the stomach. "Comb your hair, bro."

"Okay, warning time," I began, going over to the table on the side of the room, and putting on my watch and cufflinks. "Watanabe elders? Pieces of shit, don't talk to them. The Aniki's? Most are pretty okay, but they'll listen to the elders if it comes down to it. We might get some female entertainers tonight, don't freak out, be polite to them but I'll try to get you all out before that."

"I suddenly feel very out of my depth," Kyoko murmured and Tsuna agreed vehemently.

"Kyoko, Chrome, if you come with us, sit between the boys," I urged, taking a brush from the drawers and sitting behind Chrome who sat straighter so I could fix her hair. "But take no shit. You're gonna get stared at for more than one reason, if you feel uncomfortable make it known. Deal with it yourself or tell one of us, but don't let it slide."

"Okay Ki-nii," Kyoko nodded and I smiled encouragingly.

"There's gonna be alcohol-" Hayato perked up and I turned to him. "And there's gonna be Kyoya. So don't drink, he'll fight you in the dining hall."

"Kyoya's gonna be there?" Tsuna whimpered and I let out a startled laugh.

"Yeah, and he'll be just as unhinged as he is at school."

Tsuna put his head on the floor and let out a sound of misery. I snickered and pinned Chrome's hair in place before letting her go back to Mephisto who rolled to show his belly.

"Okay, when you're all ready to go, we'll head out."

"Never," Tsuna grumbled.

I raised an eyebrow but said nothing, quietly aware that Tsuna had become a bit bolder since I had last seen him. That was good, he'd need it.

I paused and stared at the fetally curled Sky for a moment, a realisation dawning on me. I wasn't hiding anymore; I could just tell him these things. Praise, reinforcement. Assistance.

"Come on, Tsuna," I urged, feeling both a bit awkward but free as I made my way over and pulled the boy out of his curl. "He's your Guardian, if you can't handle him, who could?"

Tsuna peered up at me with a flat expression, "I can't handle Kyoya. No one can."

"Nonsense, you sell yourself short, little fish," I scolded and started straightening out his clothes, bushing his hair back and pointedly ignoring how Hayato glowered like an angry pup. "Now chin up, shoulders back. Let's make today's dinner a soft training session."

"Agreed," Reborn chipped in as he appeared at our side. "What kind of training did you have in mind, Yamaguchi-chan?"

I thinned my lips sternly before letting out a long breath through my nose, urging myself to calm down. "Tsuna hasn't had much chance to learn how to hold himself at formal dinners. Watanabe parties aren't exactly high class, but that's why it'll be good for him to give it a try here, where I can step in if all goes to hell."

"You're too soft on him," Reborn scoffed.

"In some cases, Reborn, your techniques work," I admitted, before fixing the chain necklace around Tsuna's neck. "But in some cases, you've got to give the boy to breathe."

"What exactly are you gonna make the Tenth do, huh?" Hayato snapped, standing up and hunching over to us.

"This is for you too, Hayato," I hummed, dodging a slapping hand to straighten his shirt that was slumping off one shoulder. "You'll have to learn when to talk for Tsuna, and when to just listen. I know you want to defend him, but to be effective you-"

"Yeah, yeah, yeah, your boyfriend already gave me that stupid speech," he grumbled but didn't stop me as I untangled a piece of hair from his stud earring.

"Then you understand," I continued, "Tonight, let Tsuna test the waters. Come in if he calls for you and not a moment sooner."

Hayato glared at me and then looked to Tsuna who had been bleached of colour while listening.

"W-Why can't I just enjoy food?!" Tsuna cried.

"Because, the sooner you start on your skills, the better!" I told him with a smile. "Now, when we go into that building, I will introduce you. From there, you will speak for the group. No one else will talk unless directly addressed or prompted by you. You're the Boss."

"But I don't want to be the Boss," he wheezed, looking ready to cry.

"EXTREME TSUNA! Training is extremely important, you need to incorporate it into as much of your routine as possible!" Ryohei bellowed, hooking Tsuna around the shoulders and skating him like a leaf.

"But what if I mess up?"

"Well," I crossed my arms and thought about it for a moment, "You'd probably embarrass yourself, your Family, and me in front of the Watanabe. I'd be ridiculed for having incompetent company and be under pressure from both the elders and my grandfather to perform better in clan settings. You'd probably never be allowed to come back to the dining hall or, maybe, the compound. I might need to rehome Chrome, Ken-kun and Chikusa-san - who is around here somewhere."

"Among that, you would have embarrassed Kyoya, which means he'd come after you doubly as hard. Which you can't escape at school or at home it seems. Reborn would take that as a sign you need more rigorous training and throw you into worse scenarios, let's reference the Mafia Island case where you had to bribe your way to safety - yes, I know about that, that's why I didn't come. Oh and Takeshi would be upset with you 'cause I'd have a harder time, and no one likes Takeshi upset."

Reborn was smiling. Tsuna hung limp in Ryohei's arms, a steady stream of tears falling from his eyes.

"Soft training," Tsuna whispered in disbelief.

"In other words," Reborn hummed, suddenly very at peace with himself. "Don't screw up, Dame-Tsuna. Yamaguchi-chan and Hibari-san's reputation is on the line. Do your job as a Boss and represent them well."

"You'll be fine," I assured, before checking my watch. "Time to go, boys and girls."