He couldn't stop crying, but for the first time in a long time there was an adult there to comfort him and actually mean it.
His mama had fallen sick, and at first it had seemed like nothing. But as the weeks turned to months, she soon had to be hospitalized. It was to the point she had to call in an old friend of hers from another town to help.
Tsuna found himself staying with his mother's friend Momoka and her husband Shiro until his mama got better, because she didn't really have many friends in Namimori who could handle another child. Especially not a Dame like him.
And now she was gone. He would never see his Mama again.
Shiro held the distraught boy, discreetly scanning the crowd for a face that should have been there. He knew Nana had sent word to her husband she was in the hospital, but not once had Iemitsu come to take his son so his wife could have focused on recovering.
And now he didn't even show up for the funeral.
Momoka looked furious but held her tongue.
Nana had been thrown out of her family years ago, so there was little chance they would take the child in. And the contact information Iemitsu gave his wife was either outdated or false...the number alone was disconnected and every letter he sent to the address was "return to sender".
Tsuna was all alone, and there was no way a small child like him would be able to handle living in that house by himself. He had enough difficulty with the local bullies that had started targeting him when he was five.
All Shiro knew was that Iemitsu had done...something...to his son without his wife's consent, much less bothering to ask how she felt. He simply did it without even consulting her or explaining what was going on. And almost immediately after, Tsuna's personality went from happy and cheerful to absolutely skittish.
The only reason she hadn't divorced him for it on the spot was because whatever he did to her son hadn't been intimate in nature.
Tsuna cried until he was all out of tears to shed, but that was only because he hadn't eaten or drank anything the moment he realized his mother was gone. He at least had the minor comfort of being able to say goodbye and knowing she heard him.
Shiro shared a look with his wife. There was no way in good conscience they could leave this poor child alone, and Nanoha had grown very lonely while he was recovering from his own battles. Having a new little brother would make her happy, especially since she could finally be the "big" sister.
Once the service was over, Shiro noted with disgust no one even thought to try and approach Tsuna to offer comfort. It was like the entire town thought he was "no good" and his mother deserved to die before her time.
Something about Namimori was off.
He bent down to Tsuna's level. The boy was so sad, but he still had some hope in his heart.
"Tsuna, how would you like to live with me and Momoka? I know you loved your mother very much, but she would never want you to be sad forever and I'm sure she'd be happy if you came to live with us. I know Nanoha has always wanted a little brother or sister to play with," said Shiro gently.
"But I'm Dame!" he said, crying.
Shiro hugged the child, letting him get it out.
"I don't know who started that horrible name, but you are not a no-good. Would you like to come live with us?" he asked gently.
Tsuna nodded miserably. He missed his mama, but the Takamachi were really nice and Nanoha never made fun of him for having so much trouble with his schoolwork.
He looked around, and became even more depressed.
"Papa never came."
"I know little one. And if Iemitsu ever shows himself around town again he's going to regret that very much," promised Shiro. "We won't let him take you away when he didn't even bother to show up for your Mama."
"You promise? Papa wasn't very nice to Mama and he took the pretty fire away," sniffed Tsuna.
Shiro blinked, before inwardly cursing Iemitsu even more.
If that fool dared to show up to find his son, Shiro was going to kill him. No questions asked. There was only one explanation that fit why Tsuna's behavior changed that involved pretty fire, and it involve Flames.
Only a complete idiot who didn't care a damn about the consequences of his actions would be stupid enough to seal a child! Especially one so young!
Tsuna was sad for months, but Nanoha was a force of nature. She wouldn't let him wallow in the fact he had been orphaned (considering Iemitsu's attitude towards his family, he might as well be an orphan) and permanently relocated to Uminari. She was a very protective big sister who didn't tolerate anyone daring to call Tsuna anything that came close to "Dame" or it's variants. The last time a bullied tried, they got their ass handed to them and their parents had a stern talking to by Momoka and Shiro.
She also explained things in a more patient and gentle manner than his teachers ever did. Tsuna had been homeshooled until he was five, so he was behind the other children since Nana didn't really teach him anything.
Children were quick to pick out the weak and slow of the pack, and so they had tormented the poor child relentlessly and gave him the awful nickname of Dame Tsuna. Now though, they were too terrified of his big sister to bother him.
Gradually, Tsuna began to smile again.
And the day he was brave enough to call Momoka and Shiro "Kaa-san" and "Tou-san", their small family was finally complete. Momoka had squealed extra loud and hugged the stuffing out of her youngest son, glad he was finally healing from the loss of Nana.
Iemitsu's Hyper Intuition had been going off ever since he stepped foot in Japan. He had finally bothered to take time out of his schedule to visit Nana and Tsuna, and found it odd that the post card he sent was "return to sender". Like there was no one to accept the letter.
Because of his bad feeling, he dragged Oregano with him just in case.
What he found in the house made him stop in his tracks in shock.
The door was locked and there was a thick coat of dust over everything. And all the furniture clearly had covers over them. He went to his son's room, to see if Tsuna was there, only to find it empty of any personal effects. His wife's room had been neatly packed up along with her photos.
The fridge was bare, the water and power turned off, and it was clear that the house had been empty of anyone living in it for some time.
It wasn't until he went to visit someone he knew his wife ordered from frequently because they sold tea that Tsuna really liked that he got an idea of something bad had happened.
"Finally dared to show your sorry ass in town again, did you?" said Tsuyoshi glaring at him.
"Where is Nana and Tsuna?" he demanded, glaring right back.
"What do you care? You didn't show up for the funeral and we tried multiple times to contact you."
Iemitsu's heart stopped.
Tsuyoshi spat in his general direction.
"Your wife is gone and so is your son."
Denial clawed in his heart. His wife and son were dead? How? When?
Tsuyoshi looked at Iemitsu's departure with disgust and fury. The man dared to show his face now, after all this time? He took out his phone and called a familiar number. He worried about little Tsuna, so he checked in often. Besides, Shiro could at least commiserate some of the headaches dealing with running a restaurant, and he had offered to teach Takeshi the basics of handling a sword so that he might one-day inherit the family style.
He wouldn't learn anything of Shiro's style, but he could at least learn enough not to get himself killed.
His heart was ripped out of his chest from shock and fear. Then Oregano returned with news that at least gave him hope.
"Tsuna is alive. Nana died of late stage ovarian cancer."
He breathed a sigh of relief. Thank god...he still had a son.
"Where is he?"
"I'm afraid getting the records are impossible. Whoever took him in made it clear you were declared 'dead' for all intents and purposes and had the files permanently sealed. I was only able to find a number that leads to Uminari," said Oregano bluntly. She glared at him. "Maybe if you hadn't dismissed letters from an unknown sender in Japan you might have made it in time for your wife's funeral."
She knew Iemitsu had seen the letters, but because he didn't recognize the name or address he had them destroyed without opening and reading them.
Well now his stupidity and carelessness had come home to roost in the worst way. And he couldn't send CEDEF into tracking his son, because it was owned by a family in the area who didn't tolerate yakuza, much less Mafia.
Oh, a few yakuza sent their children because the school system was very good, but the was no organized crime allowed.
Any action into that area would be a massive headache and would involve a lot of cover up.
His best bet would be to send Lal in to infiltrate, or if he was really lucky, Reborn.
Only if hell froze over would he dare ask Mammon for help.
Hell froze over. Whoever took in Tsunayoshi Sawada apparently knew Iemitsu would eventually bother to look and had hidden their tracks very well. They also apparently knew of the Arcobelano, or perhaps Reborn stood out too much.
Lal certainly didn't have the patience for looking.
Having to approach Mammon of the Varia was like pulling teeth with pain amplifying drugs in his system and having it go on for hours. Not only did the damn Mist officer gouge the hell out of him, but since they were currently paired with the psychotic brat he had to deal with paying Belphegor as well!
Worse, Xanxus had found out what he was doing there and if he read that look right the man had become openly interested for whatever reason.
So now Mammon had been let loose to find out who had his son.
God he hated the Varia and he couldn't stand Xanxus.
With the Varia...
Finding Tsuna was tragically easy. Iemitsu was just an idiot and it had taken a single lead from the restaurant his wife had frequented to find a number that lead straight to the boy.
However Xanxus, in a fit of boredom decided to go see the brat himself to find out the unedited reason why Iemitsu never realized his wife was dying or that his son had been taken in by someone else. For someone who valued Family over his own pride, that sort of stupidity was something that royally pissed him off to no end.
As if he didn't have enough reasons to hate the idiot.
He found the brat helping out with a minor task in a bakery that was positioned in a good spot. He seemed perfectly happy with a girl roughly his own age in twin-tails.
Who looked right at him and knew he wasn't supposed to be there.
Xanxus could only approve of Shiro and his immediate response. He didn't let the kids out of sight, but he also didn't turn his back on the Varia leader.
"I take it he finally decided to show up?" he asked, not looking pleased at all.
"He's a fu..." started Xanxus, before the man's wife hit him with a ladle.
"There are children present. If you must swear do it in languages they won't immediately recognize," she scolded him.
He blinked, before a smirk appeared on his face.
"Shishishi... the boss got told off," said Belphegor in passable Japanese.
The woman looked at the "prince" and did something that got her in the boy's good books, along with Mammon.
She promptly had them sit down at a table and treated both like they had brains of their own. She then sat down a strawberry cake cut into appropriate slices and plastic forks to eat them with, which drew the two brats behind the counter out. It didn't take long for them to completely ignore the adults in favor of making possible friends.
Not that Mammon was a child, but even he knew the fake baby liked strawberries.
Something seemed to ease in the two 'civilians', likely because Mammon had used him as a way to get around town faster instead of the Prince brat.
"If Iemitsu shows his face in town or tries to take Tsuna from us, I will not hesitate to kill him. Mafiaso or not," said Shiro flatly.
Xanxus eyed the man, before an evil grin came on his face. The man before him was Quality. Retired Quality, but still Quality.
"Mind if I watch? The fact he didn't even bother to open up a letter telling him his wife was dying only cemented the fact he's Stupid. And pissing him off by making sure he can't screw up his son would just make my day."
"The bastard had someone put a Flame seal on him when he was five," Shiro informed him, gauging Xanxus' reaction. Sensing the spike of barely contained anger, he knew he had an ally against Iemitsu.
"Tsuna clearly remembers an old man coming with Iemitsu shortly before his mother started coughing, and she went into to the hospital when he was about five years and three months."
It was official, Iemitsu could go screw himself. No child deserved to have one of those seals on them, especially so young! What the hell was he thinking?!
"Shishishi...the prince wants another slice."
"Well you're going to have to share," scolded the red head with a firm voice. He went to pick up another, only to have his hand slapped by the girl.
"Mu. Behave Belphegor or I'll tell the cooks not to make your favorites for a month."
Belphegor pouted...but there was a clear respect for the little girl who didn't even bat an eye when he pulled out on of his knives.
"No knives at the table unless they're plastic! It's hard enough cleaning blood from the training floor," scolded Momoka. The boy wasn't her son but she wasn't going to let him play with sharp objects when he was supposed to behave in her restaurant. "If you use that for anything other than cutting the cake you'll be put in time out, and I mean it."
The Prince brat pouted even more, but put it away.
"Mu. Do you mind if I have the recipe for this cake? It's so hard to find someone who gets the ratio of strawberries right," asked Mammon politely.
Momoka beamed at the Mist.
"Of course, since you asked so nicely."
Tsuna, who had finished his two allotted slices, walked up to Xanxus with more curiosity than fear.
"Who are you mister?" he asked. It was like looking at a skittish kitten, one who was only now starting to learn how to roar.
Shiro picked the boy up with ease.
"This is someone who unfortunately knows Iemitsu, but doesn't like him much either."
Tsuna flinched at the name. Oh yeah, they were so not telling that ass where his son was. Not if his name caused that reaction.
"Relax kid. I'm not about to tell that idiot where you are if he couldn't even follow the easiest lead to find you."
How the hell did that idiot not think to track the phone records of that sushi chef Belphegor had befriended? It had taken all of ten minutes for Mammon to find the records through the phone company and locate the kid.
Which really brought into question how much else that moron missed doing his actual job.
"What's your name?" he asked, cautiously.
The teen grinned, it was normally quite terrifying. But this kid clearly didn't have that sort of reaction.
"My name is Xanxus. You've already met Belphegor and Mammon."
Tsuna, when he was put down, bowed politely and said "My name is Tsuna! Takamachi Tsuna! It's nice to meet you!"
Dear god, were those flowers and sparkles real or imagined? This kid was entirely too innocent!
But he did have a slight soft spot for kids. Xanxus patted him on the head.
"Why don't you go play with Bel and Mammon while we talk."
Tsuna dashed over to where the others were. The girl had balls of steel and if he didn't know any better he would swear the prince brat was growing a crush on her.
Xanxus actually rather liked Shiro Takamachi. He was pragmatic but not Stupid. If not for his injuries he could have been a great Varia member.
And unlike Iemitsu, Xanxus took family seriously. No way was he letting this poor kid who reminded him way too much of his own situation (with a few minor details, but almost the same) suffer from this much Stupidity.
The Vongola should have been alerted to the fact Nana was sick and taken steps to insure that the brat was alright. Not rely on the kindness of mere civilians to do that job. It reflected badly on their ability to take care of their own!