WARNING: This is a terribly paced chapter, but I have a terrible excuse to go with it. Guilt, yes guilt. I was going through my story, hating how awkward my first two chapters were and wondering if I should just start from scratch, when I noticed there were more reviews than I realized and I read a beautiful one, which summed up said the person was so excited to find my story, but was reluctant to follow/favorite because of how long it had been since I updated. And I realized, it had been a year since I first published, and only got out 8 chapters in the first four months. EIGHT! And then after that nothing.

This is In- un- acceptable. UNNACCEPTABLE!

So here's the real importance of this message, I'm looking for a BETA. If you haven't noticed I have barely acceptable grammar, terrible habit of writing run on sentences, and the pacing for this story is not terrible, but I'll admit on the mediocre side, if interested PM me, some basic requirements can be found in the author's note below. Let's roll.

Chapter 7: Research

'Evangeline A.K. McDowell huh', Tsuna thought to himself gazing at a close up picture of a smirking twenty something year old evil beauty in the text book he was reading, and compared it to the snapshot of a ten year old blond in gothic Lolita drinking tea at a Go tournament that was in the file Reborn got him, 'how in the world am I going to deal with you?'

It was sadly, a frequently occurring thought that Tsuna had been having for the last several days now, and not just towards his new would be student.

Having decided to take Takamichi's advice on visiting the library for more information about the magic world, Tsuna had set off first thing Monday morning to Library Island.

A very apt name as it turned out

Granted, he hadn't exactly expected a board with a clearly marked "Magical Info Here" sign, but it was instantly obvious by the sheer gargantuan size of the library that he wasn't going to be able to just wing it. He still wasn't sure how much of the school was actively magically aware, nor had his Hyper Intuition spent enough time gathering information about mages to be able to tell one from a glance. As it happened however he didn't need to be able to identify mages; his student I.D had an insignia on it that marked him as a 'Special Access Student'. As the name implied, it gave him special access to magical regions in the school.

The library attendant (non-magical he later found out), quickly realized he no idea of what she was babbling about with Special Access, and kindly passed him off to a more experienced Librarian.

Any hope of exploring the Library that day was effectively thwarted as he was given a full orientation of all 'Magical Zones' in school. Which places students were free to practice magic, which teachers they could trust to go to in case of a magical emergency, magical afterschool clubs, secret passageways, etc.

It was a lot of incredibly useful information (and Tsuna had made sure to take as many detailed notes as possible to send back to his team in Italy), so Tsuna didn't count it as a waste. That being said, it was another day that he couldn't properly research the world that he would essentially be staking millions of dollars and his family's (both his faction and the Vongola as a whole's) reputation on.

Of course, no sooner had the fact that he'd been looking to look up information on the magical world gotten out, had Konoemon not trapped him the next day in his office, having 'just run into him on his daily walk.'

Cough Bulg Shigt Cough

'Wasn't it fair that the Kanto Magic Association also receive some information from their business partners?' he said,

'Hadn't they already given out so much access to Tsuna?' he said,

'Knowing a product was all good and well, but what about the people selling the product? 'Wouldn't it be best if all parties knew exactly who they were dealing with before making any major monetary investments?' Bah!

Tsuna had to spend the remainder of his Tuesday, trying to give as little information as possible about his obviously blood-soaked family, while not seeming to be actively holding back information. In the end, Tsuna tried to focus on Vongola's legal businesses, specifically the ones that would have a vested interest in this little project.

The Seashell Corporation, started by Vongola 5th (the first to move Vongola's vast wealth into purely legal business ventures); the company Tsuna had overseen since he was seventeen- and the company that would be producing Flame engineered pharmaceuticals that would be traded to the Mages.

As well as C&F Mining and Oiling, which despite its name was more of a been a construction company nowadays, since Vongola 8th started their technological age and was CEDEF's main cover organization; who would be building the 'embassy' for Costra Nostra on Mage owned soil.

The fact that almost all the workers were highly trained soldiers and spies for Vongola's largest information network had interestingly enough not come up in the conversation.

Needless to say it was a mentally tasking way to spend his day, and despite having some hours left in the day after the meeting was up, Tsuna had had to use the remainder of his day going back and informing his family on what information the Mages had gotten out of him.

It wouldn't do to have a negotiator blindsided by knowledge they didn't know was known to their opponent.

Which finally led to Wednesday, Tsuna needed to know these Mages; he needed to know their daily lives, so he could better understand what could be offered in their trading. He needed to know their culture, so the negotiations could move more smoothly. He needed to know their history, so he could understand the why's of said culture, how they thought, how they reacted, what was their temperament, what were their relations to each other, what were they proud of, what was their shame?

Tsuna had made many mistakes his first years as Decimo from not knowing this exact information when dealing with other Famiglia, there was no room for error here

And no, he wasn't trying to avoid just how quiet his apartment was, or how alone he was starting to feel since all his friends and family were now on different schedules, or how until the next semester started he couldn't even make new ones…

So Wednesday morning Tsuna arrived at the Library and (after a ridiculous amount of climbing and tunneling and literally scaling down massive shelfs) began to explore some of the history of this new world.

As Tsuna continued deeper into his research, he began to come to one disheartening conclusion: his people were not only not coming to the table from a seat of power, they were vastly, hilariously, outnumbered and outgunned.

Simply put the average mage off the street had more firepower than the average made man; their abilities were diverse, powerful, and difficult to defend against. They could summon the elements, create independent golems, and manipulate the world around them as they chose, with nothing more than handful of strung together words.

It was… humbling

This of course wasn't to say that Tsuna's people would lose a fight, not by a long shot. Cosa Nostra was a paradise of violence and sin; their children were taken from a young age and molded to be great warriors, assassins, and schemers, they were gladiators in suits. Pushing their bodies beyond the usual human restrictions was one of the key requirements of using the most basic levels of Dying Will Flames.

Mages on the other hand, from what Tsuna could see, were primarily researchers and scholars. The number of hours of study needed to perform even the most basic magic was incredibly extensive. There was a reason so many mages had day jobs as teachers, and why a ten-year-old could teach a middle school class; because completing basic magic education was the equivalent of completing a university level degree- which Negi had done.

So theoretically a mafioso could stand up to and even naturally beat a mage, but that was just the basic average joes off the street.

Flipping the page of the modern magical history book he'd come across, Tsuna tried not to let out a sigh of exhaustion.

For reasons unknown Evangeline A.K. McDowell does not have any of the weaknesses of a typical vampire, such as sunlight, and holy waters. The "Monster Class" Mage was known to favor ice and darkness magic, among most commonly seen being Nivis Casus. A highly lethal attack spell which instantaneously creates and launches a large-volume avalanche of snow at the target, causing blunt trauma, frostbite, and at close range, hypothermia – assuming you're not frozen outright or swept away(1). A spell the Dark Apostle used to great effect to massacre her enemies {see The Battle of Mt. Corzek p.154}

The Puppet Mistress's conquest over regions in the South Hellas Empire were abruptly and mysteriously stopped in the year 10XX (Old World Year 19XX) for reasons unknown; thought most credit this to the intervention of The Thousand Master and Ala Rubra, who were participating in Post War Reparations.

Sightings of the dark mage continued for nearly two years after the rumored event, before disappearing completely.

Being an Immortal vampire, speculation still continues over the Dark Apostle continued existence; to this day, official law enforcement agencies refuse to remove from wanted list and urge citizens that may encounter the witch to flee on sight.

For more information on the safety measures to take upon running into the dark mage see…

The problem, Tsuna had found, was when you began to compare the elites of both worlds.

From what Tsuna could tell, even the strongest bosses in Cosa Nostra tapped out at what the Mages would label a B-rank threat.

'Which is nothing to sneeze at' Tsuna thought, as his mind's eye pictured an incredibly irate Xanxus casually blowing off the top of a skyscraper after Dino had pissed him off somehow during the Arcobaleno War, 'but neither is it enough to make the people I'm reading about hang back.'

Because above that were threats A-level, AA-level, AAA-level (which Takamichi apparently fit in) and then there was this massive gap of power where the legends and monsters of history dwelled. Legends like Ala Rubra (of whom Negi's father belonged to) and "monsters" like the honestly adorable looking Evangeline A.K. McDowell, who was under house arrest at this very school.

That didn't even go into the fact that there was a whole other planet, who may or may not feel the need to step in on behalf of their 'Old World' cousins. The Mafia just couldn't compare.

"Having power doesn't make them a threat Dame-Tsuna." Tsuna tried to chastise himself, even as his nerves and Intuition were screaming at him to call Reborn and get to a training hall and pull off some miraculous power up.

'Where's a time traveling villain or ancient ring of power when you need it?' Tsuna thought to himself wryly.

All the same, he'd feel far better if his people had some way to counteract the Mages in the not too unlikely event this all went sideways, and Tsuna ended up fighting one of these "Monster Class" fighters.

Tsuna knew how easy it was for good people to do terrible things if they felt justified.

Sky darkened by black by smoke as far the eye could see

Ashes rained in a disgusting beautiful imitation of snow fall

Tsuna's eyes narrowed and his fist clenched as he pushed away that old memory, 'And I can't think of anything more justified than grouping together to destroy an insidious and corrupt group, with centuries of blood on their hands.'

And the worst thing was, they wouldn't even be wrong; how many times had Tsuna himself swore that he'd change the Mafia even if he had to burn it down to the ground first.

"To Perish or Prosper is up to you now Vongola Decimo"

Ironically it was the Vindice, the very beings who terrified the hell out of every Flame Wielder in the world, who were their biggest protectors.

As the enforcers of such separation of the two worlds, they were often the only things Mages experienced for Cosa Nostra first hand; and no one sane wanted to mess with whatever was capable of producing monsters like that.

"If I want to keep my family safe, I need access to that kind of power." Tsuna mumbled, remembering that all too brief moment of focus and utter clarity in which he'd had the kind of power to knock down even the great Bermuda von Veckenschtein.

'No, I'll need more than that' Tsuna thought with a shake of his head, 'that doesn't even count as a full win.'

A single strike, when Bermuda hadn't been expecting it, after Reborn had nearly died to wear him down and provide Tsuna that opening, did not a victory make. The fact that he hadn't been able to mimic that strength since, meant he now had look for alternative solutions to his current predicament

So here he was now, spending his Friday afternoon on a table and chair suspended off a 30-foot bookshelf, drinking a cold cup of coffee, working overtime, hoping to find everything he could about these Mages. He only left long enough to drop off books in his apartment, catch an hour or two of sleep, and have his now semi-frequent dinner with Negi and listen to the stories he had about his class.

Negi

The little Sky was rapidly wiggling his way into Tsuna's heart; the boy was just so positive and earnest in literally everything he did; the boy was truly a genius, yet he had moments of pure idiocy that left Tsuna in a familiar feeling of exasperated and amused.

As if summoned by his thoughts Tsuna could have sworn he heard an echo of the young boy's voice.

"-sei, is quite, Asuna-"

"Now I'm hearing things." Tsuna chuckled, his voice easily being swallowed by the vast emptiness in this section of the library.

"Mah, I haven't felt this lonely in a while." Tsuna sighed out as the silence returned

All his work had left him little time to sit and relax and talk with people

(which If he thought about it, was kind of half the point he'd been personally chosen to go on this trip),

Any friendships he formed were based solely on saying hi to the guy who passed him a pencil or made his coffee. Konoka, sweet girl she was, had her own life, and other than the occasional text he'd yet to meet up with the girl again, putting it off for when his duties as a student teacher would start.

'I'll have to do better' Tsuna admonished himself; making friends had become easier over the years for the once shy boy, keeping them was still a bit of a challenge to the boy whose awkwardness still flared up from time to time, 'this isn't just somebody telling me to break out of my shell and meet people that aren't my family, but an actual mission assignment; I can't just let these things fall to the wayside anymore.'

Negi, sadly and happily enough, was the only person he spent any extended length of time with. His age and terrible lack of social awareness, made Tsuna comfortable around the baby Sky. Though that would need to change if he-

"There it was again" Tsuna thought aloud, tilting his head to the side, "why am I hearing Negi's voice… it's not my Intuition is it?"

No sooner had the troubling thought of his mind creating the sound of other people's voices, crossed his mind did a little niggling in the back of his head urging him to look up.

'Well then, this is gonna take some explaining' Tsuna thought dryly as he listened to his intuition and looked up

Currently scaling down one of the endless book cases like a mountain climber was a familiar little burgundy headed professor and, if he wasn't mistaken, a significant number of his future students.

'What on Earth are they doing down here?' Tsuna thought, carefully sliding the book on the History of Magicus Mundus Vol.12 in his bag, replacing it with a mundane non-magical one, 'More importantly, he does know that this is a magical section of the library, right? Those traps aren't just for the fun, they keep anyone who doesn't take the proper elevator passages out.'

"I thought this school was weird before, aru." Said another thickly accented voice

"In the mountains, back home we saw really huge trees and stuff all the time de gozaru." a sleepy less accented voice responded

"Is this really a school!" shouted the pigtailed girl next to Negi, 'ah, the infamous Asuna Kagurazaka'

"I'll die if I fall from here!" the pink haired one observed, showing more common sense in his opinion than the rest of her companions.

Tsuna for his part stayed silent watching the multicolored band make its way down Mt. Bookshelf, happily chattering away without a care, in their slightly deadly afternoon outing.

'Oooh' Tsuna silently awed watching a pink ribbon whip out and hook a neighboring shelf like an old Indiana Jones film, 'Pinkie's ribbon control is astounding, and Tall One and Chinese Girl are quite skilled too'

"This place is like some kind of unexplored wonderland!" a very familiar female voice spoke in wonder, as they neared Tsuna's little nook.

"I think" Tsuna called out, smirk working its way to his lips as he watched their surprised reaction to his voice "the fact that this place is manmade at all, kind of debunks the claim that this is place is unexplored Princepessa."

The brown-haired girl he'd been addressing spun around as soon as she heard the sound of her nickname, and a sunny smile lit her face, brightening the dim library.

Tsuna smiled back

"Though I won't deny that such a palace of knowledge is indeed a Wonderland" he continued in a false absentminded scholar tone

"Who is this guy?" Kagurazaka asked with a skeptical look on her face reserved for crazy weirdos on the subway

Tsuna noticed Konoka notice this, and in an instant a mischievous smile spread across her face before going politely curious, as she made no attempt to return his greeting and merely let things play out.

'Okay' well he wasn't going to call her out on whatever little game she was playing

"Could it be the legendary hermit of Library Island?" the small dark haired one, with an actual hard hat on her head asked

"What kind of legend is that?" Pinkie asked incredulously

"He is dressed too nicely to be a hermit de gozaru." the tall one observed, apparently willing to ignore oddity of Tsuna's existence and get sucked into the odd conversation.

'Apparently but not actually' Tsuna noted the slightly defensive stance the girl took, even as squinted eyes never left his position.

"The Library Island Hermit isn't a real hermit; rather he's the spirit of a university student that stayed too long in the Library and forgot to eat, sleep, or drink while studying for a test and ended up dying from starvation." the short dark haired one continued, was her name Yui, Yuno? Damn, he hated messing up, Reborn always made him study whatever subject they were working on from the very beginning when he did, and the habit had ingrained itself.

"He warns away all travelers attempting to find the Magic Book of Knowledge." Y-name girl continued

"Eeeh really!?" the other girls squealed

"What a horrible way to go de gozaru" tall one… Kaede? playfully intoned.

"Stop making stuff u-" Kagurazaka started to say before she was cut off by an excitable little bundle that brushed past her.

"Tsuna!" Negi cheered having finally caught up to see what his students were gawking at, his eyes brightening for a moment before going dumbstruck at the scene, "What are you doing here?"

Tsuna for his part, casually picked up his cup (subtly heating it for steam to rise) and stretched his legs out in apparent relaxation, as if it was completely normal to be drinking a hot cup of joe while being suspended however many feet in the air on a bookshelf.

"Professor" Tsuna said with an acknowledging head tilt, before giving an amused smirk and tapping the regular Economics book in his hand "And what do you mean what am I doing here? It's a library, there's only so many things I could be doing, Negi?"

Not a lie, he was here for the rather mundane reason of checking out and reading books, no matter how odd the content of those books.

As he took a sip of his drink he watched amused as Negi flushed and nodded along with several of the girls who were watching their interaction curiously, while the others looked confused, or in Kagurazaka's case downright weird out.

"Ah that makes sense de gozuru" the tall one said with a hand on her chin, the short blond one nodding empathetically.

"No, it doesn't!" Kagurazaka snapped in an over the top tssukomi, honestly reminding Tsuna of a younger Hayato, "Why is he set up like this is some kind of outdoor café!?"

"I like to read in comfort" Tsuna answered simply, still acting as if his actions were completely justifiably normal; sadly enough, they were by Vongola Standards.

"What're you doing down here Professor?" Tsuna asked turning it back on them, "Don't you have class right now?"

"Oh, the students have been given free period to study for the finals next week." Negi answered, completely ignoring Asuna's incredulity, "We're just looking for uhm, ah, a special… reference book, yes. I want to help them study, yes, that's it, yes."

Tsuna raised an eyebrow at the clumsy response, but chose not to call him out on it

"Well with that many yesses, I suppose I have to believe you."

Okay, he wouldn't call him out that much, Tsuna thought watching the young boy blush

"Do you need any help, looking for this… reference book?" Tsuna asked, he might as well go with them and make sure they didn't hurt themselves or stick their nose into something they shouldn't be sticking their nose in.

"Sure, that would be-"

"Okay, hold up, who is this, and how do you know this guy Negi?" Kagurazaka cut in before Negi could accept for the lot of them.

Negi blinked curiously back at her as if she should have known who Tsuna was, and was wondering why she was even bringing it up

"This is the friend I told you about Asuna, Tsuna Sawada, "Negi explained, when the orange head still looked bemused the boy tried to jog her memory, "I go out to dinner with him every now and then, I met him my first day…?"

Kagurazaka, for her part, wore a complicated look on her face while shooting Tsuna several skeptical glances. Though in her defense, Tsuna was an eighteen going on nineteen-year-old college student, spending time with a ten-year-old boy for no immediately discernable reason.

"I have an interest in teaching" Tsuna spoke up, continuing an improvised story he'd started with Negi earlier in the week; he still intended for his assistance in class 3-A to be a surprise after Finals Week, but if he laid the groundwork out now, it wouldn't seem so suspicious when that one mystery guy randomly transferred into their class.

"Professor Springfield agreed to answer my pestering about his job, I was curious how one so young could advance so quickly and had to talk to him, he's a brilliant mentor." Tsuna continued giving the boy a sly wink, watching as Negi's face went from confused to flushed and embarrassed, he really was a cute kid.

"Uh huh" came the girl's dull reply

Tough nut to crack this one, Tsuna was honestly surprised the girl wasn't Flame Active, he could all but see the swirling agitated Storm Flames in her aura.

"Oh, Tsuna, these are my students I told you about!" Negi spoke up quickly taking control of the situation, ignoring Kagurazaka's incredulous low mutter of 'Tsuna? Since when is he casual with anyone?'

"These are Yue Ayase" knew it started with a 'Y', "Kaede Nagisa" I was right, "Ku-Fei" Chinese? "and Makie Sasaki." And didn't even come close to guessing that last one, damn I really will have to restudy.

Out loud Tsuna responded with a smile and a seated bow from where he was still seated in his suspended desk and chair.

"It's a pleasure to meet you girls!", he called over, before deciding that he was being rude. Standing up and with all the grace of an acrobatic cat, pushed off against the table, did a perfect flip, and landed flawlessly on the adjacent book case the group was standing on, before continuing on as if he did nothing special, "Negi speaks fondly of all of his students."

"Woah that was incredible" the pink one with gymnastic ribbons, Sasaki, exclaimed even clapping her hands

"Thank you, your ribbon work was quite amazing itself" Tsuna smiled back, getting a pleased flush from the girl.

"Good reflexes, de gozaru" Nagisa eyed, while Fei nodded enthusiastically next to her

Tsuna merely gave them both sly smiles, before turning to the last introduced party

"Good to meet you" was Ayase bland unimpressed response

Tsuna snorted

"And this Asuna Kagurazaka" Negi spoke up continuing his introductions by gesturing to the pig tailed girl

"The roommate" Tsuna kindly responded with a nod, to the girl's obvious surprise

"Ah, hey" she gave an awkward little wave, clearly thrown off by his knowledge of her and not sure how to interact with him

"Thank you for forcing a shower on him, he needed it" Tsuna made a mock 'pee yew' smell face, before deciding to get a tiny bit of revenge for her minor bullying of the boy and continuing in an oblivious musing tone "I don't know how you convinced him, he seemed oddly reluctant to speak about the incident, just kept going red whenever I brought it up."

An adorable high-pitched whine sound escaped from Negi's mouth as the teenager when tomato red and mumbled something not looking at him.

Which of course started off a round of giggling from Konoka who had been silently watching his antics with an amused eye.

"And who" Tsuna asked with the most over the top flourish he could muster, "is this enchanting Angel?'

Giggling harder, Konoka responded in kind

"Konoka Konoe, charmed I'm sure" she spoke in an equally dramatic tone, daintily holding out her hand like an old western noblewoman for him to kiss, which he accepted.

"Princepessa Konoka" Tsuna breathed from where he was kneeling, "forgive me if I am too forward, but I must say, you are the most breathtaking woman I've ever laid eyes on."

"Flatterer!" she accused in mock outrage, though she still stepped into his personal space to give him a faux smack on the shoulder, before leaving her hand to slide down on his chest. h

It was at this exact moment of course that Tsuna had a horrifying thought

'I really hope Setsuna isn't somewhere watching this from the shadows' he thought as he watched the younger girls cheeks steadily to go pink, a cold bead of sweat running down his back remembering their last encounter, despite him being the one to initiate this game both times, 'come to think of it, I really hope Headmaster Konoe doesn't have cameras here… in the highly protected magical sector of the library… where they keep careful watch on all nonmagical explorers… … … he totally has cameras here, damn.'

Still, never one to put an end to hopeless shenanigans, he continued with his second 'First Meeting' with Konoka Konoe all the while pointedly aware of slowly widening eyes around them.

"Ah, but mi Princepessa" Tsuna continued in a hokey over accented tone he'd heard Nono use from time to time, "When flattery and the truth are one and the same, what is a man to do?"

He swore he could here Kagurazaka make a choked sound

"What indeed?" she asked coyly before slowly leaning towards his face

Tsuna eagerly responded

Half a foot between their faces remained…

Four inches…

Two inches…

One…

Pffft

And that was as close as they got before, Konoka lost it

"Just kidding!" the cheery girl said, sticking her tongue out at her shocked friends

... And wow, Tsuna had never seen a real life face fault before, these girls truly were dramatic things weren't they?

"What the heck was that!?" Kagurazaka yelled, pointing an accusing finger back and forth between the two of them

"Just greeting a new friend?" Konoka said with a playfully oblivious tilt of the head

"Is something wrong?" Tsuna asked, doing his best to put a genuinely befuddled frown on his face

"Of course there's something wrong, why would you, who would even, agh!" Oh dear, the poor thing looked decidedly stressed

'Is this how you felt Reborn?' Tsuna watched the girl's over the top freak out, while Negi tried vainly to calm her down while Konoka counterproductively wound her up with her "oblivious" attitude, 'Doing this to I pin and Lambo was one thing, but this girl is so… easy, it's like she has no resistance to teasing at all, I can't help but want to mess with her. If this was how you felt when you met me Reborn, then… no never mind your still a prick, but I think I understand why you were now at least.'

At the passing thought of his siblings entered his head, a small numbness began to creep up his bones distracting him from the playful bantering.

It wasn't the kind of numbness that came from missing your family and wanting to see them either; it was the other far too familiar parental kind of numbness. The kind that crept up on a parent/older sibling during a quiet moment when suddenly you realize things seem almost a little too quiet, and you try to figure out what's missing, until you have that scary irritating thought of 'Where are my bad as hell children, and why haven't I heard them yelling or breaking something in the last hour?'

He didn't mean for it to be as suspicious as it sounded, but he couldn't help it, his V.H.I and just old fashioned big brother senses were warning him that something was going down, ever since he'd called Gokudera and Lambo. His inability to get in touch with the latter since was not helping this feeling.

His departure to a foreign country had been taken with faaar too much loving understanding and nowhere near enough fuss.

And not to doubt the maturity of his family… but Tsuna doubted the maturity of his family.

Call him crazy, but a man tended to get paranoid when things worked out a little too smoothly

()()()

"C'mon Ako!" came the, frankly unnecessary, shout from a far too energetic for a study session voice of Misa Kakizaki.

Sucking in a breath, it really wasn't her fault that she wasn't some athletic monster like the rest of the girls in her class, Ako straightened up and prepared to continue her sprint to get to class as soon as possible.

Misa's rush really wasn't unwarranted though; Incho had made it beyond painfully clear what would happen if any one of them were unaccounted for, for their emergency study session.

Akira had rolled her eyes at how serious the slightly older girl was being about this, but Ako noticed that for all her eye rolling it hadn't stopped her from being first in their mad dash to get to the classroom. In fact, her best friend was so far ahead of them, that unlike Misa, she hadn't even noticed Ako struggling.

Clearly the memory of the last Incho-Negi freak out, during the Bath Incident, hadn't left the tall girl's mind.

Ako shivered at the memory, and pushed forward only to-

"Oomph!"

Wool, too thick to be cotton, smashed painfully into her nose and mouth; a warm and clearly masculine arm wrapped around her back- close to the SCAR- making her jolt back, just as the stranger was leaning forward making them both start to fall the other way.

Ako clenched her eyes tight bracing for impact, but just as they were about to crash, there was a masculine hiss of surprise, the sound of a boot sliding against cement and gravel, and before she knew it she blinked her eyes open to find herself suspended in an awkward dip with a teenage boy in a sweater vest- explains the wool- the two of them blinking at each other bewildered.

'His eyes are like a mirror' interestingly was the only thought Ako found herself capable of processing as the two of them stayed still in that frozen moment.

Golden brown eyes, stared down into her own; the unusual color made even more so by the way the light was literally reflecting off them, making them look curiously blank and empty, despite the myriad of emotions spreading across the rest of his face.

"-kay" she heard him ask, the sound taking a moment to reach her

"…Sorry what?" she asked, honestly lost on what it was he just said

"I said are you okay?" he repeated frowning, his voice coming out a touch strained

Like a cold splash of water coming over her senses, Ako was suddenly aware of where she was; she was being held up-by a BOY- with zero personal space- his voice was strained, oh God, I must be heavy- in public, after running into him.

Embarrassment came rushing in like a tidal wave, Ako immediately squirmed, suddenly very much aware of the arm that was still around her lower back- God he couldn't feel it could he!?

Sensing her sudden apprehension, the boy let her slide down the short distance to the floor before taking half a step back and offering her a hand up, blushing furiously she took it.

"I am so sorry, I wasn't paying attention to where I was going" she apologized profusely as she stood, a small peek revealed several passerby had decided to stop and watch the spectacle. Great.

"That's fine" the boy waved it off, his reflective eyes focusing on her with almost unnerving intensity, "Like I said, I was more worried if you were alright, you seemed out of it for a minute there."

She wished her skin wasn't so pale and allowed her to blush so easily, he was probably wondering what was wrong with her.

"No, no I'm completely fine… I was just ah, surprised" she explained, not wanting to explain that she had got caught up in staring at his eyes 'Creepy much Ako.'

A cursory glance showed that he wasn't in uniform, come to think of it, what was a-very nicely dressed- boy doing so close to the girl's campus anyway?

"Are you sure, I can walk with you towards your next destination" the boy offered with a concerned frown, "You can explain to whomever you were rushing off to, that I got in your way and that you were showing me around."

"Oh no" she immediately waved his offer off, she didn't even want to begin to think of what would happen if she showed up to class 2-A with a good looking male escort… that didn't come out right, stupid teenage hormones. "I'm sure I can get there on my ow- "

Before she could finish, she was cut off by a loud frustrated scoff

Turning to her left she found Misa, and a magically reappeared smiling Akira, off to the side watching the entire exchange. The former having interrupted her with the overdramatic scoff, complete with raised arms of exasperation.

Now twice as embarrassed, and three times as irritated, she shot them both death glares when the Stanger turned his head to follow her line of sight.

"I take it these are the friends that you were trying to catch up with?" the boy asked turning back to her with an amused smile, when Misa and Akira both made cheesy obvious waving signals upon meeting his gaze.

"Yeah" she said in a falsely calm tone, having rearranged her face when he turned around, "Those are Misa and Akira… a-and I'm A-Ako, Ako Izumi."

"Fuuta Sawada" the boy, Fuuta Sawada responded, almost reaching for her hand, before apparently stopping himself and giving a bow, which she returned. "I'm visiting my brother at the University, but I've clearly lost my way."

"Oh" she breathed, eager for a way to end this conversation before she had a chance to make a fool of herself, "Well you can find a campus map right over-"

She was once more interrupted by an even more dramatic sigh from Misa, which she thoroughly ignored as she directed Fuuta to the directory, something he was apparently aware of given his twitch of lips. Thank you, Misa

"Thank you, Izumi-san," Sawada smiled all gentlemanly, "It was a pleasure meeting you."

"Ah, yeah… thanks for catching me, when I ran into you… earlier" Ako you truly are a wordsmith beyond measure.

Sawada merely smiled before making his way off in the direction she pointed

"Aaaaaaagh" came the pained groan from her nosey friend

"What" Ako snapped a little more harshly than necessary at the witnesses to her utter fail at social interaction.

"What do you mean what!" Misa shouted, "You completely blew him off, he was trying to flirt with you!"

"No, he wasn't!" Ako hissed embarrassed, "We were just talking, running into someone doesn't automatically mean some love at first sight."

"No, it doesn't." Akira submitted before Misa could, "But he did ask in a round about way for you to show him around."

"Exactly!" Misa cheered vindicated by her 'hard fact' evidence

"So" Ako, brushed off as she quickly sped walked in their original direction

"Sooo" Akira mock repeated, "People don't do that to random people they run into on the sidewalk, unless that person is attractive to them."

Ako flushed

"Whatever, I'll probably never see him again" she brushed off again

"Well that depends-" but thankfully whatever her instigator little friend was about to say was cut off by a phone ring, and Ako sighed in relief, before the voice on the phone filtered through the air between the three of them.

"Where exactly are you" whispered the demonic voice of their class president, sending shivers through all three girls spines, "If I recall, there is an emergency study session going on, to save Negi-sensei's job. You wouldn't be thinking of getting in the way of that. ARE YOU?"

"N-no Class Rep!" all three girls saluted to the cell phone

"Then get down here NOW!"

With that any and all thoughts of Ako's -nonexistent- love life was erased as the three of them made a mad dash to the classroom. There were some things in this life scarier and more important than mystery boys.

()()()

The Ranker let out a sigh as they watched the trio of girls take off at a dead sprint to wherever their destination. Ako Izumi-pale blue hair red eyes, 51 out of 1300 middle school students of medical potential, 25 out of 32 compatibility with the Vertical Sky-was a sweet girl, she hadn't reacted to their tranced state beyond a brief fascination to their eyes.

It was cute.

With a brief inhale, they broke their connection with the Ranking Forces of the universe.

Upon breaking his connection, there was a heavy clattering as several objects in his circumference regained their own connection with Earth's gravity. Something a healthy seasoning of Mist Flames had kept the three girls, or the various passersby from noticing.

Fuuta took a moment to shake off that odd feeling of other and quickly flipped open his phone to put down as much information as he was able to gleam from the minute of interaction with his three new data samples.

There was a time when he wouldn't have trusted such information on any electronic pallet lest it be liable to getting hacked; but being a member of the inner circle meant access to far more secure databases, besides, this would hardly be critical information.

Akira Okouchi- Mature, respectful, levelheaded, athletic.

Compatibility with Tsuna-Nii Flame Wise: Low, Socially- Medium, Romantically- Medium

Race-Human

Gender-Female

Age-15

Height 175 cm

Weight 75,3 kg

Three Sizes B86-W57-H83

Hair Color-Brown

Eye Color-Blue

Blood Type AB

Misa Kakizaki- Cheerful, Highly Mischievous, Highly Athletic

Compatibility with Tsuna-Nii Flame Wise: Medium, Socially- Medium Romantically- Medium

Race-Human

Gender-Female

Height 165 cm

Weight 74,6 kg

Three Sizes B82-W58-H84

Hair Color-Pink

Eye Color-Dark Yellow

Blood Type-O

Ako Izumi- (Given he'd actually interacted with her the most, his flames were able to connect a bit more to her) Shy, a touch insecure, mildly athletic like most of the girls he'd ran into today, an oddly high ranking in fear of blood, despite her also relatively high ranking in potential medical skills.

Compatibility with Tsuna-Nii Flame Wise: Low, Socially- Low Romantically- Low

Race-Human

Gender-Female

Height 148cm

Weight 67,3 kg

Three Sizes B75-W54-H76

Hair Color- Light Blue

Eye Color- Red

Blood Type- A

"And that just about does it" Fuuta sighed, free from his task of collecting information on Tsuna-nii's future students.

And what a remarkable grouping of students they were; each fiercely intelligent and highly capable in their respective fields of expertise, Fuuta could see why they were chosen for Tsuna-nii to interact with.

"Good" a young voice drawled from his right, "because that was embarrassing, I'd hate to see what would happen if you did that to the ninja girl."

Fuuta flushed and turned to see Lambo Bovino Sawada; the younger boy was leaned casually against the wall, hands coolly in his pockets, staring at him with an amused grin on his face at his older brother's embarrassment.

He hadn't intended on making direct contact with any of them, on the off chance one of them would remember him and somehow make the connection to Tsuna-nii, who would not be happy that they were snooping in on his mission. He'd gone as far as to use Stalking Cat, Tsuna-nii's Sky Flame technique that let him Harmonize with the environment to make him semi invisible to someone's senses, to get close enough to the various girls and take their rankings.

Unfortunately, doing both took a lot out of him, especially when he had to search a campus this huge, for over thirty students, and he'd finally ran out of steam just as Izumi-san was heading towards him. Instead of unconsciously moving around him, she became aware of his presence just in time to crash into him.

"Were you flirting with her?" Lambo continued his teasing, "Usually you're all super enlightened and monotone, but there you were all 'Pardon me miss, let me hold you in my strong manly arms'"

"Where have you been, Lambo?" Fuuta asked blatantly ignoring the teasing, yes it was odd that he even acknowledged the girl's existence in his tranced state, but if he allowed Lambo to get any momentum he wouldn't stop.

"Not chatting up pretty girls apparently" Lambo said rolling his eyes at Fuuta's sidestepping his question, "And I was at Nii-san's apartment, it's actually kind of small, smaller then Maman's house in Namimor-"

"Wait" Fuuta cut him off, eyes widening in slowly dawning horror, "You went inside the apartment, LAMBO, you know Tsuna can feel things like that!"

"I didn't touch anything Fuu- Fuu" Lambo said in a particularly put upon manner, making Fuuta's hand twitch dangerously at the nickname, "I can hide my Flame signature from Tsuna if I really want to."

Fuuta narrowed his eyes suspiciously

"How?" he interrogated, years of being the boy's main caretaker had made him an expert on Lambo's tendency to blatantly disregard what others considered important. Yes, he might have a way to avoid Tsuna, but that didn't mean he hadn't done something needlessly attention drawing, like raid Tsuna's fridge or something.

"Trade Secret" Lambo carelessly shrugged off, which didn't help Fuuta's suspicion at all, "Whatever, are you done chatting up pretty girls, I wanna get to Nammimori in time for Maman's dinner."

Fuuta's mouth watered at the idea of a home cooked meal from the cheery Japanese housewife

"Yeah, I got all the bonds in place, I can make the rankings on their skills and temperaments from anywhere." Fuuta confirmed, once more ignoring the allusion to his supposed flirting, "We can come back for the others on Reborn's Persons of Interest List another time."

With that the two brothers started walking their way to the train station, a car would pick them up at the next stop outside the school.

As they walked Fuuta noticed the two of them attracting a fair amount of attention; understandable considering everyone around them was a teenage girl and the two of them clearly were not. Though that wasn't what was garnering the teenager's attention, but rather the curious amount of silence and lack of posturing from the known attention seeker next to him. A glance towards Lambo showed the other boy to be oddly oblivious to the attention, instead focusing on some paper Fuuta hadn't noticed he was carrying.

"What's that" he asked curiously, leaning over enough to show his interest, but deliberately keeping himself from reading over the younger boy's shoulder. That would be a rude invasion of privacy.

"Tsuna's papers, schedules, that sorta thing" Lambo answered easily, apparently not caring in the slightest for their older brother's privacy

"Lambo, you said you didn't touch anything!" Fuuta admonished, making a grab for the papers, only to receive a chiding smack of the hand in turn.

"Don't snatch from me" the younger boy scolded, while Fuuta tried not shake out his hand too obviously, that boy was hard, "And I said I didn't take anything from his apartments, I got these from the admin office, much less dangerous. Did you know his class is going to Kyoto in a few weeks, Tsuna will probably end up going with them."

Attention effectively distracted and all the more annoyed for it, Fuuta patiently waited for the younger boy to pass over the papers willingly, any thoughts of reprimand long gone.

"He's taking an English Literature class?" Fuuta asked with a raised brow

"Its so he can have an excuse to be in the ultra-special class of maximum specialness" Lambo mumbled,

Fuuta did not miss the slightly bitter edge to his words, someone wasn't dealing with Tsuna's departure too well.

"This is all stupid" Lambo complained, "its not like he needs to go to school anyway."

"Tsuna always wanted to go to college Lambo" Fuuta reminded him softly, knowing simply mentioning the importance to the project wouldn't help the younger boy's mood.

"That's not what I mean" Lambo corrected swiftly, it probably was what he meant, but Fuuta wasn't going to call him out on it, " I mean why does he have to try so hard to get close to some middle school kids, what does any of this have to do with trade?"

"Tsuna is one of the few people with enough authority to speak on behalf of the entirety of our society." Fuuta explained patiently, not a trace of annoyance in his voice at Lambo's continued attitude-

"He's our little brother Fu-kun, he's going to get on our nerves; sometimes on accident, sometimes on purpose, but we can't leave him be. He's our little brother, he looks up to us, so please please try and be patient with him."

"Does he need a cover as an average student? Probably not, but it's what he decided, and we are not going to do anything to mess with that decision." Fuuta finished with a slightly stern reminder in case the little boy decided to pull one of his rare bratty tantrums out of spite.

"Tsuna just likes to pretend to be normal" Lambo grumbled by way of consent, too stubborn to actually apologize.

"Maybe" Fuutua conceded easily enough, Tsuna had never found comfort in the wealth and ceremony of the Vongola, "But I think he can use a little normal."

"You probably don't understand right now, because it seems like your stuck at home while everybody else is out doing things, but after you turn a man at thirteen and start being expected to carry out exhausting duties? Something simple like doing the dishes for Maman after a quiet night, starts to look like the most relaxing thing ever, so don't knock the normal Lambo."

There was a comfortable silence as the two boys continued their walk, and eventually boarding their train. During the silence it was clear Lambo was contemplating something, but unless he spoke up, Fuuta would leave him to it.

Instead he focused his thoughts on some of the girls he'd seen today; every one of them was very pretty in their own unique way, and sporting some of the oddest blends of features he'd seen in a supposedly civilian environment. From their personalities, to their looks, to some of their odder hobbies.

In particular he focused on the girl who'd ran into him, Izumi despite his brushing it off, Lambo had been right to tease, he never noticed anything in his traced state.

He (they'd) called her cute

The thought alone was enough to make him flush. Fuuta didn't… connect with people; at least not with people that weren't already Harmonized with his Sky.

Sure he could talk to just about anyone, and get them opening up to him, it was just his nature as Sky himself, but there was always a distance… a barrier that kept him from putting any stranger he happened to meet into the category of trusted friend. No matter how much time he spent with someone outside Tsuna's sphere of influence the barrier remained, making interactions with them- at least by comparison to his family- seem empty and false, even if they felt whole heartedly the opposite.

So for him to have given any special attention to one person while in his tranced state could mean any number of things:

The theory that Fuuta subtly wanted the most, his distance between other people was shrinking.

There was something specific about the girl that attracted the attention of The Ranking Prince

The final, both most and least likely scenario; he was a teenage boy so attracted to a teenage girl he'd spoken through the raw power of being one with the Ranking Forces of the Universe.

And God help him if it was number three, he'd never be left alone by the teasing of his family if it was number three.

'Come to think of it, I still need to find a way to silence Lambo' Fuuta thought eying the still unnaturally silent boy clearly lost in thought, 'Though it's probably going to come at a ridiculously exorbitant price."

Little extortionist

"Lambo…?" Fuuta inquired curiously to the younger male

"Do you think there's something wrong with us" Lambo suddenly asked in a quiet mumble

The question was so out of nowhere, that it left Fuuta floundering for a moment

"What?" Fuuta asked disoriented, then as the question sunk in, he felt a sudden rise of fury was over him as he grabbed the younger boy by his shoulders, " Who said that!? Who told you there was something wrong-"

"Nobody said anything Fuu-Fuu" Lambo interrupted, with an aggravated roll of his eyes, then rolled his eyes again twice as exasperated when the teen didn't let go from his examination, apparently trying to scan his person for evidence of cruel words stuck on his skin, "I just thought, since Tsuna wants to be normal, and I-pin…"

At the mention of their not really estranged sister, Fuuta found himself deflating

"I just thought, if they want it so bad…" Lambo trailed off with a shrug, and Fuuta felt a little bit of his heart break

He wanted to pull the boy into a hug and comfort him; with everyone seeming to push away the lifestyle that Lambo had been born and raised in as something wrong and flawed, naturally that would lead to the conclusion that he was wrong, that he was flawed.

He kept his arms to his side and tried to find a logical answer to comfort the boy, physical affections like hugs and other perceived "childish platitudes" tended to be treated with scorn by the young man who tried hard enough to not be seen as a child. Only Tsuna, Maman, and oddly enough Kyoya Hibari seemed to be the exception to this rule.

"I'm not going to lie Lambo, to most people, we all are a little bit crazy, and most won't be able to understand or even tolerate us." Fuuta started out slowly trying to put very complex feelings into easy to understand words…

And ignore that little lonely part of him that was still a six-year-old boy chained to a desk with a big book and a bloodied pen in his hand that begged why…?

"But that doesn't me that our existence is wrong" and here he turned to look the younger boy directly into his eyes so the message wouldn't be lost, "You should know our life is a hard one, and sometimes even people like Tsuna need a break from it; not because he's tired of us, but because he wants to be better for us. Y'know he would drop it all in a heart beat if one of us even implied that we were having a hard time without him?"

The other boy looked away, but Fuuta noticed the slight nod

"As for I pin" and he ignored the slight stiffening their sister's name brought up, "… be patient with her okay, she doesn't have the benefit of being a time traveler to help her decide her future and she needs to figure out what she wants like the rest of us slowpokes who don't have their lives planned out by the time their five."

That earned him a scornful snort and eyeroll, but a tension had been taken out of small shoulders, and he seemed to have finally relaxed to the way he was before they'd got on the train.

"After all, she's been pretty patient with you." Fuuta pressed just one more time to make sure his point got across

"Alight alright I got it already Fuu Fuu." The young Lightening Guardian waved off, "Shouldn't you be finishing those rankings."

Fuuta smiled pleased, but otherwise left the younger alone and turned to his work confident that-

"Oh and I didn't forget your flirting with that girl, if only I had something to distract me from telling Haru-nee and Felicita that their Baby Bunny Fuu Fuu, was such a player."

Dammit

A/N: ANNNNND DONE! This is an awkward as hell place to leave off, but I stated my reasons above. This was originally half written as Chapter 6 part one, and the current chapter six was labeled Chapter 6 part 2 (why did no one tell me something was up?), but after reading that heart warming comment I put a rush order on getting this out. Anyway, Chapter 8-coming soon.

BETA READER Application Requirements and Expectations

Several days before posting, I intend to shoot you a copy of the chapter for you to read, go over, check for errors, and otherwise question and critique. If we work well together, I'll send an outline for my planned Arc, and we can get a discussion going.

Have to have finished one (preferably both) canon fics, and have a good understanding of the characters. Chances are i'll be asking you your creative advice.

Please have posted at least one story of at least 2,000 words, that I might have a small feel for your style.

Tell me something about this story- anything at all, to show you've been paying attention to what I'm trying to do.