So I've been in a bad mental place the last few days, and most of the stuff I'm reading online isn't helping the way it normally does (all my fandoms have suddenly started writing pairings or plots that make me feel even worse, talk about bad timing - I needed fluff and family dammit!).
So I did what any fanfic author does and started working on something a guilty pleasure of my own. Unexplained time travel angst and meeting younger versions of enemies who don't quite hate you yet.
Inspired by a comment left on Generation Cross about Xanxus becoming Tsuna's Storm Guardian (and of course harmonisation comes from Araceil & Rei Ghost's very awesome flame theory universe)
The Tempest Temptation
The first time Xanxus meets him, it's utterly forgettable except for how pathetic it is.
Xanxus is eight years old going on fifty, trawling the back alley of an Italian slum far away from the tourists. He was born in a clinic just down the road, and never gone further than ten miles from the bare-walled apartment he and his mother call home. Here, life beats harsh reality into you young – the boy knows full well his future consists of nothing but drugs, gangs and messy death.
But Xanxus isn't like everyone else here. Most children of whores have already picked chosen their path, but Xanxus refuses to bow. He's not ready to accept that, there's a burning desire that life can't quite snuff out, that he's meant for more than this. When he prowls the street, his head is high, no matter how much the prostitutes laugh and the runners mock him for refusing their deals.
However, when the slight drizzle that's been threatening the neighbourhood all afternoon turns into a full storm, it's enough for him to slouch and slip into the shadows, taking an alley shortcut home. Normally he wouldn't risk running down the tight dark streets, but even trash is heading inside right now.
Except apparently, for the idiot on the ground, slumped against the wall. He barely registers the new arrival, only raising his head when his footsteps register.
The man is Asian, with wild hair, a two-day shadow and dressed in a suit that was probably quality before it got dragged through whatever war the man had crawled away from. His face hosts a pair of empty, dead eyes, that widen to an extreme degree when he registers Xanxus's appearance. He looks as if he's seen a ghost, mouth trying to form words and failing. Xanxus just scowls, kicking the legs away to move forward.
But the second he makes contact, something flickers up his leg. As powerful as an electric current, and strong enough to make Xanxus freeze. From within, something twists awake, and Xanxus shudders at the feeling.
The man utters something wordless, and jerks his legs away, curling into a ball. His eyes however, haven't left the boy's face. Xanxus debates confronting him, but an extra pulse of rain falling from the sky makes him retreat, storming past and shaking the feeling off.
However, he can't resist tossing his head back to check if the man is following him. He doesn't know why, but it feels as if he should be.
He's not, and Xanxus sneers at the figure still leaning against the wall, head down and curling in on himself. As broken as everyone else in this godforsaken place.
Just trash. Xanxus doesn't know why he expected better.
By the time he gets home, he's pushed the man out of his head entirely. A homeless waste of space like that will be dead or in the claws of a gang within the week.
Except that's not what happens. Over the next month, the man flits in and out of Xanxus's purview, sometimes lost in his own world or running to somewhere, and looking more and more like a homeless bum every time he sees him. Strangely, every time he sees Xanxus, he freezes, and refuses to make eye contact, but Xanxus hasn't had the inclination to find out why. He's got his own problems. The last few weeks have been full of headaches and burning feelings in his stomach. He's always felt this fire in his gut, but it's been cranked up to eleven ever since he met the man in the alley, and it's driving him nuts.
As such, it's not until a month after their first meeting that Xanxus learns how off his original assumption was.
Their neighbourhood caters to some of the lowest mafioso families on the crime ladder, and one of the grunts is slamming on the door of one of their downstairs neighbours. Screaming abuse and fingering a gun with his spare hand. Every person in the building, his mother included, had seen the man and gone running for their own rooms, desperately praying that they weren't the target.
Xanxus had ignored his mother's warnings, pulling away from her grip and slipping into the hallway. He sat on the middle steps, just out of sight of the man while keeping him in view. A minute later, the lock on the door gives, and the mafioso is pulling a woman out by her hair. She's probably in her twenties, but looks a decade older from drugs and life, with bleached blonde hair and makeup smeared on her face. Her legs are buckling, tears streaming down her face as she begs for mercy, arms wrapped around her stomach, the bulge only just starting to be noticeable.
Xanxus snorts in derision. Blood is gold in the criminal underbelly. The whore's probably one of the boss's favourites, but doesn't want an illegitimate heir mucking up his family line. Woman should have known better.
She's on her knees now, sobbing furiously while the mafioso pulls out the gun and cocks it. The sound has her trying to crawl away, only to get a backhand to the face, sending her crashing to the ground again. The mafioso aims, and Xanxus leans forward.
Another death for stupid mistakes.
All three freeze at the voice, and turn to take in the figure in the door.
It's the man Xanxus stumbled over that rainy afternoon, and looks as bad as ever. He's lost the suit jacket in exchange for an olive-green raincoat with a furry hood, but it doesn't hide the fact that the orange shirt underneath is as filthy as his dress trousers. He's filched a wool cap from somewhere, using it and the hood to crush most of those wild locks out of sight and mind while the straggles of a clearly unplanned beard invade his chin. If Xanxus had ever been asked to imagine the epitome of 'bum,' this wouldn't' be too far off the mark.
The only aberration is the man's eyes. Xanxus could have sworn they were mud brown, but now they're gleaming with a gold hue that can't be natural, and focused on the mafioso like a cat on a rat.
"Let her go."
Xanxus feels his spine straighten instinctively, fighting the shudder at the sheer power the bum manages to exude in just three words. The mafioso doesn't fare much better, his hand releasing the woman almost unconsciously. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, she's flying back into her home practically on all fours. A second later, the mafioso shakes it off, and makes to follow her.
"Get back here you little-"
The bum slams his hand into the door frame, blocking the door with his smaller frame. The mafioso has at least a foot on him, but there's not a hint of hesitation. Clearly, he's insane.
This is the mafioso's opinion too, and he sneers down at the interloper.
"What, you her newest John? Bitch like her aint worth the bullet hole you're asking for."
The man doesn't move.
"I'll tell you this just once" he warns. "Back off. Turn around and walk away."
The mafioso does take a step back, but he's just running his eyes up and down his targets frame, sneer turning into a smirk.
"Ohhh, so you're the one causing so much trouble downtown" he says. "Heard you took out three of Nino's boys last week for roughing up the girls they'd bought and paid for. Got a lot of people who want you dead in a gutter. What, you want the district for yourself?"
"No" was the reply. "But life has beaten into me the importance of standing up for those that can't, whether you want to or not."
"What the fuck are you? A greeting card?"
He doesn't answer, and the mafioso scowls, hand going out to shove the bum out of the way – only for the bum's own hand to snap up, deflecting the arm and sending him spinning out the door with a squawk. He pulls himself up and snarls, pulling out the gun and pointing it almost point blank at the man's skull.
"Piss off you asshole!"
He fires, and Xanxus braces to see blood and brain matter spray over the wall. But it doesn't.
Before Xanxus could register it, the bum had moved out of the way, his hand slumming into the mafioso's nose. The bullet flies into the wall, and the next thing Xanxus sees is the bum performing a terrifyingly quick move with his hands that sees the gun fall to the floor and the mafioso's arm twist in unnatural angles. He's howling in pain, dropping to his knees, only to find a leg slam into his skull, sending him flying towards the door. With eerie grace, the bum steps forward.
"Get out" he orders.
It's just for a moment, but Xanxus swears he sees flames burning on the man's fists. The hall fills with their presence, and from somewhere deep inside, Xanxus feels something fighting to get out and match him. From the way the mafioso is staring at his attacker, he's not the only one. He struggles to his feet, and throws himself out the door.
His disappearance starts the floodgates, and doors start to open, neighbours utterly confused at the turn of events. The flames vanish, and Xanxus bites back the gasp as the aura he'd been drowning in vanishes as quick as it came, leaving him hollow and clawing his chest at the loss.
Ignorant of what he'd done to the boy on the stair, the bum walks into the woman's home, and closes the door. When Xanxus heads downwards and tries to push it open, it stays firm despite the lock still being shattered.
He's tempted to try and get in through a window outside, but his mother descends upon him, and pulls him back indoors, refusing to let him out of her sight until the morning.
When he finally manages to get away, the door is open, and both his neighbour and the bum are gone.
The natural assumption is that the bum took the woman for himself, but gossip flies through the building like wildfire. Those closest to the apartment had seen the man escort the pregnant woman out of the house, a suitcase of her belongings in one hand. He'd been an utter gentleman, and when one neighbour had been brave enough to question him, he'd merely said he was sending the woman somewhere safe.
Nobody knew why he'd shown up – was he a john? A relative? A rival mafioso trying to leave a message? The only one who knew for sure was the bum, and he'd vanished into thin air.
Not that it stopped Xanxus from prowling the streets looking for him.
It's as frustrating as it is dangerous to be so focused on something you can't grasp. But Xanxus can't get the man out of his head. Can't forget the electric current, or the feeling he'd ignited that night. When he concentrates, he can feel the burning feeling inside him grow, and not a week later, he'd achieved a small flick of red tainted with the familiar orange.
Xanxus hadn't been seeing things. The bum had set himself alight. With this assurance, he asks his mother if she'd ever heard of such a thing. He'd had to wait for one of her more stable moments, but when she was mostly sober and coherent, he'd hit jackpot.
"The man had flames? Oh, I should have brought him home. Things would be so much easier with flames."
"What are they?"
"Flames are flames" she'd replied, and Xanxus scowled.
"What's the fucking point of them?"
His mother laughs. "Flames are everything Xanxus. Oh, I hope you get them. Life will be easier then. If you get flames, it's a straight ticket to the life we deserve."
He's still growling, and she leans back, fingering a bottle to her side.
"Flames are the lifeblood of the Mafia royalty" she continues. "If you have orange flames, you are a ruler. Any other colour, and you're a follower. The stronger the flames, the stronger the person."
She leans over and clasps her hands on Xanxus's shoulders.
"You will be a powerful flame user Xanxus" she insists. "I knew it the moment you were born. I dallied with many a powerful man in my younger days, but nobody will believe me unless we can prove it. When they emerge, we will ascend to our true place. Ah, I almost can't wait."
She almost makes to hug him, only to pull off and grab the bottle instead. Xanxus shrugs it off – he's long understood his importance in her priorities.
If she's expecting him to reveal these flames at some point, it certainly explains why she's kept him around. Woman with kids don't exactly make the most money around here.
Still, probably best he keeps quiet until he knows how to control them properly. Especially since the red flames are currently overtaking the orange when he brings them out.
No fucking way is he going to be anything less than royalty.
But he can't get very far if he doesn't know what he's doing. Instinct has limits. The bum can tell him how to master them, all he needs to do is find him.
A week later, and he finds the source of his frustration when a giant pillar of fire soars through the air not two blocks from his home. Most flee expecting a gas leak, but Xanxus bolts in the direction, turning a corner only to freeze in shock at what he sees.
The man is still dressed like a pathetic waste of space, but with the flames burning on his forehead and gloves, flying through the air and ripping through his opponents, he exudes everything Xanxus has ever wanted.
This. This is a King. This is everything Xanxus wants to be. Powerful, strong, untouchable.
Yet, even as he says that, the colour of the flames shifts slightly. Tiny flecks of a darker flame dart through the hue, much like the orange does to his red. Usually when the man is making contact with his opponents. Xanxus wonders if that's just something all flames do, his own – dim as they are – fluctuate in their presence, and it takes everything he has not to run forward to join him.
The mafioso, survivors at the core, quickly realise just how outmatched they are when the flames enter the match, and they're quick to flee, desperate to avoid the wrath of a flame user. When they vanish from view, the man's flames vanish, and he staggers on his feet, only to fall back, lying back on the pavement and refusing to get up. Xanxus scoffs, only to freeze when the man calls out.
"I can feel you. Might as well come out."
With that, his head turns in Xanxus's direction. The boy scowls, but decides to take the invitation offered.
Once again, when the man realises just whose coming towards him, his eyes widen and his body tenses. For a split second, Xanxus thinks the man might just bolt, and he quickens his pace to make sure he can cut the man off if he dares.
"Trash" he greets. The man blinks in confusion.
The boy's eyes narrow.
"How the hell do you know my name Trash?"
The man just keeps staring, and Xanxus kicks him again. He winces, and pushes himself into a sitting position.
"Sorry, I'm just surprised" he says. "I've heard your name around. Sofia mentioned you when I was taking her to the train station."
The man smiles. "The pregnant woman who lives in your building. I guess I should have realised you were the flame user, I just got didn't expect those flames."
Xanxus frowns. "The train station? And what's wrong with my flames."
The man shrugs, and Xanxus gets the feeling he's not fully there. "That man, or whoever he was working for, would have tried again. I had to get her out of the city, so I gave her the money for a one-way ticket and told her to pick a direction. She and the baby should be okay so long as she doesn't come back."
"Why the fuck would you do that?" Xanxus asks, genuinely puzzled. "You sweet on her?"
A shake of the head. "It was the right thing to do. And nobody else was going to do it. I could help, and right now that's all that's keeping me going."
He looks up at the boy glaring at him. "As for your flames, I felt storm instead of sky flames. I…thought you would have sky flames, so I didn't realise it was you."
"Sky, storm?" Xanxus echoes, barely realising he's sitting down next to the man before he's on the ground. "What's the difference?"
The man bites his lip, glancing over, and Xanxus scowls.
"Oi! Tell me."
"…What do you already know?"
"I know orange flames are the best" Xanxus snaps. "If you have them, you're mafia royalty."
The man nods. "Well, that's sort of true. It's not a case of being the best though. Orange flames mean you're a sky. But that doesn't mean anything unless you harmonise. There are other flame types as well, skies are rare, so most people have one or more of the other types. Red for storm, blue for rain, yellow for sun, green for lightning, indigo for mist and purple for cloud. They all have their own skills and abilities, and what most flame users want more than anything, is to harmonise with a sky and become a Guardian."
He's clearly reluctant to continue, but Xanxus grabs his jacket and glares, daring the man to move away. It works, and the man continues.
"A sky's attribute is harmonisation, and the only way to be a true sky is to harmonise with at least one of each other element. They…strengthen you, stabilise you, and you them. They become your Guardians, sworn to protect you as much as you would protect them. To harmonise is to belong to that sky, for that sky to belong to you. If you activate as a sky, you'll start looking for Guardians."
Xanxus spits. "Like hell I will. I don't need anyone to protect me."
The man smiles as if remembering something fond. "You won't be able to help it. I thought nobody would want to harmonise with someone like me before I activated but…even if you fight it, you'll pull in Guardians without even meaning to."
"Yeah? Then where's yours trash?"
It was like hitting a light switch. The fond smile vanished and the eyes dimmed back to that dead look Xanxus had first seen all those weeks ago. He suddenly feels like crap, and he honestly doesn't know why.
"They're gone" the man rasps. "I've gone somewhere they can't follow."
It's an odd way to say dead, but Xanxus can read between the lines.
The man is clenching his hands (wrapped in mittens, strange. Xanxus could have sworn he was wearing gloves), focused on the numbers etched on the front. "Harmonisation is…it makes life better. There's no words for how a full harmonisation feels. But on the other scale, when you lose that harmony…it can destroy flame users. I've been fighting discord ever since I got here – when I felt a budding sky in the area I was drawn to them. You're not fully active, but you're leaking enough that I can leech off your flames harmony element and keep mine from self destructing."
He looks away.
"I might have leeched too much and brought your other flames to the surface by accident. That's why you feel like a storm instead. If I leave tonight, they should go back to normal and you should activate normally soon enough."
He begins to stand, only for Xanxus to pull back on the jacket, crashing him to the ground. A moment later, the man is staring up at the eight-year-old pinning him to the ground.
"No, you're not just going to leave" Xanxus snarls, eyes bright. "You know how to activate these flames, so you're going to show me how to do it."
"Xanxus, that's not-"
"I'm not asking trash!" he snaps. "I can almost get the red flame out, but I can't force the orange one the same way. If you're the reason for that, then you're going to fix it."
He tries to focus on his flames, and grins when he feels the man's own flare against the attempt. However, his prisoner jerks back in panic, bucking the boy off.
"Stop! Before you do something we can't take back!"
Xanxus's flames hesitate, and it's enough for the mans to vanish, locked away so tight Xanxus can't even feel them. The man is gasping in panic, and holds up a hand while he stumbles to his feet.
"I'll show you" he agrees. "But you can't do that again. If you want to be a sky, then that can't happen."
Xanxus doesn't fully understand, but he's getting what he wants, so he'll run with it.
"So, what do I call you trash?" he asks, and the man sighs, dropping into a bow (what the fuck?).
"Tsunayoshi" he says, which is far too much of a mouthful and Xanxus has no intention of remembering it. Clearly, this must be obvious, because his teacher is giving him a bitter smile.
"But most people just call me Tsuna."
He's not sure why that makes the man burst into laughter, but he throws a rock at the mans head to make him stop all the same.
Tsuna-trash is still living on the streets, but it doesn't take much to move him into Sofia's home. It's still empty from her midnight flee and nobody in the building is going to argue about obtaining a guard they don't have to pay for. If somebody comes sniffing round to rent the room, Xanxus will just move Tsuna-trash in with him and his mother.
The first thing is to get his teacher a shower, because after almost 2 months running on the street in the same clothes, the man is managing to give the slums a bad name.
Oddly, when Xanxus is kicking him into the shower and banging on doors to demand tribute from neighbours in the form of clothing, Tsuna watches him with something bordering on incredulous and a little bit horrified. When he comes out, the bathtub practically stained brown, he shrugs into jeans and a sweatshirt clearly too big for him, before scratching his beard and finding a razor shoved at his face.
"…You're a lot more of a mother hen than I expected."
"Shut the fuck up Tsuna-trash!" Xanxus snaps. "I just don't want to be seen with a bum."
Tsuna accepts the razor, but it's not the best quality, and he's left with stubble. Xanxus glances over, and apparently finds it acceptable, dragging a chair over towards the bed while Tsuna sits on the crappy mattress.
"So how do you start using flames?"
His would-be teacher doesn't answer, and when Xanxus takes a closer look, his eyes are glazed over. He glances round the room, and grabs a box of condoms, tossing it at the man's head. He squeaks when it hits, shaking his head in confusion while Xanxus snarls.
"Oi! Stay in the present trash!"
"…Sorry" Tsuna offers. "I…do that sometimes. As for using flames, you already can, it's just learning how to control them."
"Fine" Xanxus glowers. "How do you control them then?"
The man bites his lip, but lifts up one hand. A second later, there's a spark of orange flames burning on his index finger. Xanxus almost can't help leaning forward.
"It's all about resolve" Tsuna explains, staring into the flame. "It doesn't matter how strong your flames are if you don't know what you want to accomplish with them. Once you have that, they'll be easier to bring out."
Xanxus looks away, eventually staring at his hands.
He'd never considered that. So far his 'resolve' had been getting the flames to come out, but maybe that was too short sighted. What did he want them to come out for?
In his mind, he thought about the crummy apartment upstairs where his mother would be drinking herself into a stupor, about the streets filled with trash who looked down on Xanxus for wanting more than this hell hole. And about the feeling he'd experienced when he'd watched the man in front of him burst into flames and decimate his enemies while he flew through the sky.
'I want that' he thought to himself. 'I want to be strong enough to fly out of here. To be everything I could be.'
His expression hardens.
'I want to be a King.'
On the bed, Tsuna scratches his stubble, and gives a sad smile when he sees the boys focus.
"Now, think of that resolve, and try to bring your flames out."
Xanxus makes no sign that he's heard him, but then the boy's eyes narrow, and his fingers twitch, a glow starting to appear. It's an odd, jerky thing, but there's a definite red and orange aura starting to flicker around his hands. Xanxus is grinning, bringing his hands up to his face.
It gets brighter, and brighter…until a sharp burst of red flames bursts out, flaring against Xanxus's face and forcing the boy to topple the chair with a shriek. Tsuna does much the same on the bed, scurrying back and gasping as the flare curls around him, searching for an answer and finding him lacking.
"Storm…not the right storm" Tsuna mutters, eyes blank. "Hayato, where…?"
"Who the fuck is Hayato" Xanxus snarls, struggling back to his feet. "What did you make me do?"
Tsuna keeps mumbling to himself, and in disgust, Xanxus ignores him, thinking once again about his resolve and trying to figure out what went wrong. When the aura appears again, Xanxus suddenly finds his hands wrapped in a larger pair, and tries to jerk back on instinct.
Tsuna doesn't let him.
"You need to learn how to separate the sky from the storm" he warns. "It's too volatile to try and bring them both out at the same time right now. Dial them back."
He does just that, more out of curiosity than obedience, and Tsuna releases him.
"You have two flames Xanxus, so you'll need to learn how to use them both" Tsuna explains. "They work well together, but if you want to be known as a sky, separation is key."
The man stands, and Xanxus feels the orange flames flare around him, filling the room like a pair of invisible wings before folding back.
"Flaring is something flame users tend to do" he explains, scratching the stubble on his face. "It's part defending your territory, part Guardian call, and part stress relief. It's a good way to stretch your flame without too much risk. Just remember, the storm flame is angry, and the sky flame is harmony. Focus on the parts of your resolve that aren't focused on negative emotions if you want to master the sky."
"Easier said than done Tsuna-trash" Xanxus mutters, but thinks about his goal.
It's stupid to think about trash or his mother. They just make him mad with their expectations and goals. He thinks instead about Tsuna flying through the sky. The freedom and power.
'I want that.'
The flames flicker to life again, and they pulse momentarily – less wings and more a sharp dagger being revealed to gut an intruder, but a vivid, pure orange all the same.
Xanxus grins at the victory, only for his breath to catch when Tsuna answers, his own flare brushing against the boys before sinking back. A brief moment of harmony between the two, and Xanxus is loath to see it pass. He tries to flare again, but this time it's a mix of red and orange, and Tsuna backs away, flames hidden. On his third attempt, Tsuna moves and covers his hands before he can gather himself.
"Don't force it Xanxus" Tsuna asks. "It takes time."
"I don't have time" he mutters, pulling his hands away. Tsuna just smiles.
"You have all the time you need" he promises, and Xanxus suddenly feels a need to hug the man.
Before he can act on such a weak thought though, somebody is banging on the door. Xanxus recognises the slurred words immediately. Apparently, his mother figured out why he was pawning clothes in the hallway. Tsuna pulls back before he can decide if he's happy about it.
"I guess I'll see you tomorrow Xanxus."
That night, Xanxus crawls into bed and frowns under the blankets, pulling his hands up. Slowly, he clenches them into fists, and remembers what Tsuna said about flaring, pulling the red flame back and focusing on the calm orange.
It's tiny, more like a hiccup than an announcement, and Xanxus scowls into a pillow. However, a moment later, his flames pick up an answering flare from the floor below, and the paired sky flames all but sing Xanxus to sleep.
For the next week, Xanxus would patrol the neighbourhood, smashing noses and hunting opportunities. In the evening, he'd slip into Tsuna's apartment for flame practice. Sometimes the man would be there, other times he'd be waiting – Tsuna would vanish for hours, and didn't always seem aware that he'd ever been gone. That glazed eye look, if anything, was getting worse.
But there's no denying that this crazy bum is powerful. If what he and his mother say is true, orange flames are practically nobility, and he doesn't need to compare Tsuna's to another mafioso to know the man is strong. He could walk into any familia he wanted with a laundry list of requests in exchange for his services and he'd get it.
So why the hell is he wandering around a slum in hand-me-down clothes and eating from the soup kitchen? Wasting his time teaching a brat the basics of flame theory instead of grooming mafioso from their castles on the hills?
Xanxus finally snaps when he runs into the man midway through the next week. He's dressed in that crown of fire and gloves again, and the mafioso are running in fear. One however, grabs a suitcase that's lying on the ground before diving into the car a few metres away and screeching down the road.
"What did the trash want?" he asks, and Tsuna jerks, flame vanishing as he takes in his student. Eventually, he relaxes and gives a half shrug.
"Their boss was trying to extend an offer" Tsuna admits. "I refused, but apparently, that wasn't an option. So, I made it one."
Xanxus glowers, a strange possessiveness coming over him as he realises the suitcase must have been a bribe. What's worse, those men were dressed a hell of a lot better than most of the two bits in town. They'd been low class, but still a much higher breed than the usual scum.
Which meant it had probably been a good offer.
"Why didn't you take it?"
Tsuna glances at him in confusion, but Xanxus doesn't give an inch, arms crossed.
"You're strong, everyone knows that. But you're just wasting away out here instead of being a boss or working for a familia. Why aren't you mafia?"
The man keeps staring, and Xanxus starts to get agitated, only for Tsuna to give a pathetic sigh, stepping back and shoving his hands in his pockets before looking up at the miserably grey sky.
"I was, once. Even had a ring on my finger and a full set of Guardians."
Xanxus's eyes widen.
Don't get him wrong, he'd suspected, but to have it confirmed…
"Were you a boss?"
A shake of the head.
"No. But I was going to be. Didn't want the title, but there was nobody else who could take it. Gave me a tutor and dragged me kicking and screaming towards the throne. Put me on death's door a dozen times just to increase the power I could access, even though I didn't want power in the first place!"
By the end he's almost hysterical, and the man drops too his knees, eyes somewhere deep in the past.
Tsuna just keeps shaking his head.
"Something impossible. Now they don't exist. I don't exist, and I can't ever begin to exist because he died before I was even a possibility."
"It's funny, when I was younger I would have done anything to escape the family. Now that I have…I'd give anything to go back."
"…So join another familia" Xanxus tells him. Surely that should be obvious.
However, Tsuna shakes his head.
"I don't want a familia, I want my family" he says, bitterness in every word. "I want my home back, my Guardians back, my life back, and that's the one thing on this earth I can't get. Half the time I think I should just end it and see if I can't get back to them in death."
Xanxus tenses, the words hardly new in the slums, but all the more terrifying coming from this man, even if he's not sure why.
His reaction must have been obvious, because Tsuna smiles, flames flaring in an attempt to calm him.
"Don't worry, I won't" he insists. "I wouldn't be able to face them if I took my own life. For better or for worse, I can carve a life out of what I have left, free from the mafia. That's enough to keep going."
Xanxus stares at him, before throwing his arms out.
"All that power, and this is all you want?"
Really? A rundown apartment, hand me down clothes and his only company an eight-year-old brat that insults him in every sentence? Even if he didn't want a familia, he could easily create a gang and rise up from the ground level, but to accept this as all he'll get? All he wants to get?
Tsuna just smiles, and Xanxus shakes his head in disbelief.
"You're fucking crazy Tsuna-trash."
"You're just figuring that out now?" the man replies, and grins as he dodges the empty coke can tossed at his head.
It takes two months of tantrums, lessons and experimenting, but it finally pays off.
Xanxus grins as he takes in the orange glow emanating from his hands, not a trace of red. Sky flames, his flames, are now active and available with ease.
Xanxus is officially royalty. He's got his way out.
Sitting on the bed next to him, Tsuna is grinning at the flames.
"You really are a natural. This is what you were born for…"
He's going distant again, eyes fading to somewhere Xanxus can't follow, and he frowns, one sky-infused hand grabbing his teacher's. He really hates it when the trash forgets about him, and this is the easiest way to bring him back. Tsuna blinks, come back to the present and relaxing, his own sky flames floating to the service to twist and bind with Xanxus's.
Xanxus all but purrs, scooting forward and leaning on Tsuna's shoulder as their flames dance around each other. Tsuna usually keeps a tight lid on his flames, and it's rare Xanxus gets to enjoy them like this. He can feel shards of that other flame Tsuna keeps locked up on occasion, but when mixed with the other sky's flame, it's almost non-existent.
They also tame the instincts that Tsuna had warned him would come with activating his sky flames. There's an agitation to his actions that wasn't there before his lessons, an overwhelming need to explore and flare his flames in the neighbourhood, which gets worse each time he fails to get an answer. Tsuna's flames are a balm that soothe his flame's need for Guardians that don't exist yet.
Yes, this is the best. And yet.
Something inside Xanxus wants more. As much as he loves letting their orange flames dance together, everything in him says it would look so much better with a hint of red.
Ducking his head to hide the smirk, he releases the storm flames that are hiding in the wings, letting them fly out, aiming for Tsuna's flames with the drive of a heat seeking missile.
Tsuna's reaction is instantaneous.
Suddenly, Xanxus is crashing to the ground, Tsuna leaping off the bed so fast he practically smashes into the wall, flames locked up tight while Xanxus feels as if his own have slammed into a steel door. There's a prickling in his eyes that suggest he wants to cry, something he hasn't done in years, and he doesn't understand why. Everything aches with the painful feeling of loss.
His storm flames are still filling the room though, and they've never been anything but effective at driving out other emotions in exchange for sheer raw anger.
"Why the fuck did you do that trash!" he shrieks, standing up and storming over to the man curled in on himself by the wall. Tsuna won't meet his eyes, and he tries to pull him up, hands yanking on the shirt collar.
"I asked you a question you bastard."
It's too quiet, and Xanxus scowled.
"What are you mumbling abou-"
Tsuna finally yanks his head up, and the fury in his eyes is enough for Xanxus to let go, stepping back in shock.
"I said, we almost harmonised!" Tsuna yells. "Do you have any idea how stupid that was? If your storm flames had harmonised with my sky flames, you'd have become my Guardian. Your sky flames wouldn't matter because they'd be secondary to your storm flames."
The words freeze Xanxus to the spot, and almost as quickly as it came, the fire dies in Tsuna's eyes, and he slumps back down.
"We've gotten too close" he moans. "I'm barely surviving without going into discord – I don't have the willpower to resist a storm as strong as you, but you don't know what you're doing. You're just trying to harmonise because your sky flames haven't found a Guardian to balance them yet."
He looks up.
"Xanxus, show your mother your sky flames" he says. "It's time we ended this."
"Tsuna-trash, what are you…"
"Don't Xanxus" he warns. "Just…don't."
That night, he reveals the sky flames to his mother, who insists they must belong to the Vongola, the most powerful family in Italy. Clearly, she must have slept with the Don once upon a time and forgotten it. Given the drugs and alcohol she's inhaled in the last decade, it's not impossible.
She arranges a meeting with the Vongola Ninth a day later, and even splurges on a new shirt for Xanxus to wear when he meets his 'father.'
He should be excited, but all he can think about is another sky left along in the room downstairs, and when he brings out his flames, they flare almost without his consent.
They don't get an answer.
Even with his heavy heart and agitated flames, he's overwhelmed with feelings when he finally comes face to face with the man his mother says is his father. Unlike Tsuna, this man doesn't lock down his flames, instead flaring them like a cape, cloaking the area in warm, soothing feelings.
It's a sign of power as well as a sign of a great mediator, but something about it pisses Xanxus off. Or perhaps that's the men standing next to him, all emanating different colours of flames. A sky and his Guardians. The way it's supposed to be but isn't for the only other sky Xanxus gives a damn about.
When his eyes are finally focused on Xanxus, his mother pushes him forward.
"Go on Xanxus. Show your father your flames."
Almost on autopilot, Xanxus lifts his hand. Stares into the eyes of this man his mother is insisting is his father, and finally sees everything he'd been ignoring. Now that he has no choice, he can connect the dots with painful ease.
Show off the sky flames that had his mother so overjoyed and leave the slums. Join his father and get everything he always knew he deserved. Everything he's ever wanted.
His hand shakes as he starts to conjure up his flame.
The Vongola want him because he's a sky. They might want Tsuna if Xanxus tells them about the man he orbits, but Tsuna has made it very clear he wants nothing to do with the mafia. If Xanxus goes, Tsuna won't follow.
Has Tsuna always known this would happen? Is that why he wouldn't harmonise? So that he wouldn't hold Xanxus back?
He grits his teeth, red flames jerking to life in his hand, and takes some grim satisfaction at the Ninth's narrowed eyes and his mother's startled squeak.
"Xanxus! Not those ones" she scolds, panic in her eyes. "Show him your real flames."
Xanxus turns his head upwards, eyes boring into her skull.
"These are my real flames trash."
Because yeah, maybe he's a sky. Maybe he could become a king. With the backing of Vongola it would be handed to him on a silver platter.
But Xanxus has never looked for easy. And he has so little, he sure as hell isn't giving up anything that's his. Not if he doesn't have to.
He'll fight and claw and kill his way to the top of the world. And he'll do it with his sky at his side. If he has to give up Tsuna for Vongola, Vongola can just go jump off a cliff.
His mother lunges for him, shaking him furiously.
"Lies! It's a lie! Show him your orange flames you foolish child!"
One of the Guardians immediately intercedes, prying her fingers away, and Xanxus takes the opportunity to step back. The Vongola Ninth stands back up from his crouch, moving away as well.
"I believe we're done here."
"Ninth, he still has an exceptionally powerful storm flame" the Guardian says. "Shall we take him?"
Xanxus scowls, tensing when the Ninth's eyes linger on his form.
"No, I don't think that would be wise right now."
His mother wails, dropping to her knees, but Xanxus ignores her, turning tail and running back into the slums.
There's someone he has to see.
When Xanxus reaches his building, he's panting from the run. Tsuna's door is locked, so he starts hammering on it furiously.
"Trash! Tsuna-Trash! Get out here!"
He hammers for almost a minute, sky flames flaring. He's about ready to try and kick the door down, when he hears the unmistakable sound of a lock being opened. The door opens enough for Xanxus to catch a glimpse of Tsuna's shocked face.
"Xanxus? What are you-"
The boy doesn't wait for him to recover, ramming into at the crack and shoving it open. Tsuna stumbles backwards as Xanxus throws his arms around the man's waist, forcing them both to the ground.
"I'm not giving you up!" Xanxus all but roars. "You're mine!"
"Xanxus, what happened?" Tsuna gasps. "I thought you were meeting with Vongola-"
"Those assholes can go screw themselves" Xanxus spits out, pushing himself up to look into Tsuna's eyes. "If you're not coming with me, I don't need them. I'll reach the top of the world without their help."
"…But...Vongola! You're meant to be Vongola."
He sounds so horrified, and his eyes are broken. Xanxus grabs his shirt collar and shakes him.
"Listen trash!" he growls. "You're not getting rid of me that easy. I might be a sky, but you're this sky's sky. I don't give a crap about Vongola."
He flares his flames as a confirmation of his statement, and even lets the storm flames out, the two twisting together in satisfaction as they try to coax Tsuna's into a dance. The man's still clearly in a state of shock – he's not even trying to pull them back. A moment later, and Xanxus grins in elation as he feels his storm flames brush against Tsuna's sky and settle in.
That brings Tsuna back to reality, and Xanxus can feel the flames diminish. It's taking Tsuna more effort, but they're getting chained back – Xanxus doesn't him the chance, merely increasing both of his flames and clawing a space for himself in Tsuna's soul even as the man squeaks protests.
It's not a full harmonisation, Xanxus can already tell it's too fragile for that, but after months of seeing the carrot on a stick dangling in front of him only to be pulled away, he's finally managed to catch it and snap off the tip. It's a potential bond, and judging from the panic attack Tsuna's about to have, it'll be up to Xanxus to shove them both over the edge eventually.
Already he feels calmer, his flames satisfied at his conquest, and lets himself drop onto Tsuna's chest, drunk on the feeling.
"You're stuck with me Tsuna-trash" he chuckles. "Whether you like it or not."
A choked sob echoes through the room, but Xanxus keeps grinning when he feels a hand land on his back, Tsuna wrapping him in a one-armed hug.
"Oh, and I think I'm gonna have to start living here. Don't think the old hag's gonna want me around much now."
That gets him a strangled laugh.
"Okay" Tsuna half sobs. "I guess that's…okay."
He doesn't release his flames again, but that's fine, Xanxus has all the time he needs to convince his sky he's serious. And even longer to convince him to stop hiding his power and be the man Xanxus knows he is under the crazy and panic.
And on that day, they'll both take Italy by storm.
Technically this would have at least 2 more parts, but I'm not touching it until my other two fics are in better form. On that note, I'd say I'm working on DK&T and GC, but that would be a bald faced lie. Afraid there's still going to be a bit of a wait.