Avatar The Last Airbender: Prologue
Peace shattering squeals and high pitched shrieks of young children echoed across a warm tropical beach, as the sun slowly began to set in the distance.
An old man on a beach chair a few yards away soaked it all in, allowing a rare smile to spread across his otherwise permanently surly features; not at the loud noise, no that irritated him, no he was smiling as he watched the culmination of almost ten years of planning run across the sand trying to tackle each other.
"Too slow, boys" said a bratty showoff voice of a little girl in a red bathing suit, as she smirked arrogantly at her two companions
"Sh-she's r-really fast" panted a little boy in only a pair of brown shorts where he'd collapsed panting on the sand
"Don't give up Tuna Fish" came the aggravated voice of the oldest, a tall boy of eight, as he looked down on the collapsed brunette.
"Calling me that doesn't make me want to move Zuzu" the slightly younger boy groused, using the others own embarrassing nickname
"Dissention amongst the ranks already" came the condescending high pitched voice of the six year old girl, "-sigh- Males, so useless"
"Shut up Azzie" 'Zuzu' sneered at the girl who sneered back, "C'mon Tsuna, you always get tired"
"And trip, and get scared, and fall asleep first" 'Azzie' helpfully added, while Tsuna piteously pouted
"I didn't fall asleep first last time" the boy protested, "That was Zuko"
"That's because Azula poisoned me!" the older boy said pointing accusingly at the younger girl, who'd crossed her arms and rolled her eyes at the accusatory finger
"You just got sick because you were trying to eat more cookies than everyone else Dum Dum, I had nothing to do with it" Azula answered condescendingly, something her brother obviously disagreed with and was about to retort when the third interrupted.
"Lie" came the quiet voice of the little boy on the ground; the slightly monotone certainty in his voice cut through all argument.
The old man who had been observing the exchange leaned forward, unable to keep his interest at bay, especially when the other two children took his word as some kind of final unquestionable verdict.
Zuko immediately turned a triumphant look at his little sister and gave a vindicated 'Ha', while Azula for her part merely scowled darkly, not even attempting to defend herself further.
"Whatever" Azula grumbled unhappy
"No whatever" Zuko immediately returned to being enraged after his brief moment triumph, that boy had far too much of his great grandfather's temper- Sozin could burn the world with his sudden rages, "We're telling mother and father that you tried to kill me."
"I didn't try to kill you idiot" the girl hissed, sounding exactly like her grandmother Ilah before she fried some moron that had tested the limits of her patience, "It was just a little fun."
"What kind of crazy person finds poisoning people fun!?" Zuko cried incredulously
"I do, obviously" Azula said sounding scornful, cruel, and condescending at once, and that was all Ozai right there.
"Lie" came the same quiet interruption before Zuko could explode; once more young Tsuna had taken over the flow of the entire argument between two prideful royals with a single word, not unlike Timoteo in fact.
Both kids turned to their companion who looked at them with a disturbingly calm face, his dragon gold eyes looking disturbingly orangish in the setting sun.
"Didn't you guys go see Love Amongst The Dragons before I got here Zuko." Tsuna asked the older boy, who dumbly nodded, waiting to hear if Tsuna would elaborate
"Yeah, they completely butchered Princess Rayko's character, and missed her core drive for why she was starting her revolution in the first place." Zuko answered sounding just as unduly aggravated as his mother who had dragged the entire family to see the play every year, even if she spent the whole time critiquing it.
"Dork" Azula mumbled
"Isn't that the story where the princess loses her father the second prince to poisoning?" Tsuna asked
"Yeah" Zuko drew out looking at his sister suspiciously who was pouting defiantly at the other boy sitting in the sand
"Isn't it possible to build up immunity to poisons if you take smaller dozes slowly over time?" Tsuna asked not taking his eyes off of the little princess
"…Azula?" Zuko questioned looking less suspicious and more surprised
"What" she hissed curtly, still not looking at her brother
"Did you put poison in Zuko's cookies to build up his immunity because you were worried about him being taken away from you?" Tsuna asked a small twitch at his lips
"No, why would I-" but her answer was interrupted
"Lie" Tsuna cut her off with cheesy grin, "You shouldn't lie so much Azzie, but it's cute how you were afraid of losing your bwig bwothuh."
Azula's face burned red and opened her mouth presumably to deny her actions, but the old man had heard enough to confirm his thoughts.
Tsunayoshi of the Sawada Clan had inherited Agni's eyes; eyes that like the great sun above, saw through almost all.
'So it was a good investment after all' the elderly man thought returning to his previously relaxed position, 'And their friendship is evolving as well as hoped, he's even acting as a peace maker between Ozai's children.'
The leading Famiglia of the Island Nation Italia had been allies of the Fire Nation for the better part of 400 years; even when the war first started Italia had thrown it's astounding weapon manufacturing skills behind the Fire Nation to the rest of the world's ire.
Nowhere was this alliance more true for the Sawadas and the Royal family. Four hundred years ago when Giotto Vongola retired from his home in Italia to the Fire Nation, Fire Lord Zhouge had welcomed the man with open arms.
Giotto Vongola, the spirit born son of the Greater Spirit Agni, and the only known human individual to have ever beaten a fully realized Avatar in the Avatar State in single combat. Even with the man all but escaping his home nation, Zhouge would have been a fool to turn away the possible asset, and instead gave the man a shelter in his time of need while still keeping an open trading with the mixed nation of Italia.
Giotto's family were given the name Sawada, which immediately became nobility; even with their deterioration from various "mysterious deaths" since the war started, the Sawadas were always welcome in the royal palace as close to the Royal Family as possible.
Zhouge's decision was repaid countless times, and the last four hundred years of history were painted with the Sawada name as the family had an unnatural habit of producing dangerous master benders. As it happened however, timing and gender had always prevented them from marrying into the royal family as Zhouge had wanted.
However eighty plus years of war could wear on any friendship, and with the Sawada's only heir Iemitsu having been evacuated out of the Fire Nation to live with his distance relative Timoteo after the "accidents" erasing the rest of his family, there was definitely a strain. It didn't help that Iemitsu who had risen to the second in command of his country and was the one frequently sent as an ambassador, loathed and was loathed by the second prince Ozai; it was only a matter of time before a similar strain in relationship began to show between the two countries.
It was ten years ago when Azulon had been tracking down Roku's line, hoping to maybe merge the once Noble line with Avatar blood with his own, that a solution was presented.
Two sisters, Ursa and Nana, granddaughters of Avatar Roku were found to be close to the same age of Ozai and Iemitsu. Azulon had planned to have one of the girls marry his youngest no matter what, but hoped against hope that at the very least that if he invited the two of them to a place where Iemitsu would be present, that the man would take in interest in one of them.
As it turned out, Iemitsu and Nana decided they were hopelessly in love within moments of meeting, and were set to be married as soon as Iemitsu could ship the appropriate bride price. Tsunayoshi Sawada was born six months after his cousin Zuko, and a little less than a year and a half before his cousin Azula.
At last there was a blood tie between the royals and the Sawada and by default the command structure of Italia.
'Blood is everything to those Italians' Azulon thought as he watched his granddaughter put her older cousin in a choke hold while her brother sat to the side laughing at his panicked face, 'As we of the Royal Family are the children of great dragons, they are the mortal children of Agni'
Giotto, Timoteo, and Iemitsu all had been born with hair yellow dipped of the sun, and eyes that could glow with the orange of fire; eyes that Tsuna's had glowed not a moment before as he spoke Agni's truth. Tsuna was officially one of three people eligible of leading the nation of Italia.
'Two' Azulon mentally corrected, 'Federico was allegedly drowned by Water Tribe'
Vongola's trials of succession could be just as bloody as any royals if not more, which could be terribly convenient for Azulon; it would be a wonderful coincidence if the only remaining heir was a boy who had grown up close to and loved by the his cousins the Royals of the Fire Nation.
'Stupid Massimo, so eager to slay his brother for power, he does not bother to see how vulnerable he made himself to us' Azulon thought, a dark smile spreading across his face, 'When Xanxus finds out what his traitorous brother did to his favorite brother, not even Massimo's bones will be found, and if my source is correct then Xanxus himself is ineligible leaving only...'
Azulon looked at the beach where young Tsuna managed to twist and pin Azula to the ground, the two were smiling viciously at each other; Azulon noted that the girl tended to drift closer to her cousin and vice versa then either did towards Zuko.
The girl was power hungry and would likely bump her brother aside for whatever inheritance he decided to pass to his ungrateful brat Ozai. Azulon knew it would barely satisfy her, as Ozai wanted to be Fire Lord, she wanted to be a queen.
'Perhaps you will be granddaughter' he thought with a raised eyebrow, as Tsuna's gaze lingered on her pinned form with a wide teasing grin and the little girl blushed, 'Queen of Italia perhaps…?'
Azulon turned the idea over in his head; Tsuna with his blood was able to see through her malicious lies and even to the vulnerable girl who loved her family but only knew how to show it by toughing them up with traps, and pain. He saw her, something not even the girl's own parents could do, saw her vulnerability, her brilliance, her cunning… her monstrousness… and loved her anyway.
As for Azula, the girl obviously appreciated not having to hide in front of Tsuna even if it still clearly embarrassed her to be seen through so easily; there wasn't much a prodigy like her couldn't offer any man, let alone one with a destiny like Tsuna's. And his son was not an unattractive man, his daughter in law even less so; Azula would be a very beautiful woman one day.
Azulon watched as Tsuna helped his cousin up, the girl huffed and stomped off embarrassed, leaving behind her cousin and brother to share 'Girls-are-crazy' looks.
Iroh would be leaving to start his campaign towards Ba Sing Se as soon as this Summer ended with his son Lu Ten; Ba Sing Se would be conquered in three years maximum, when he returned home Azulon would finally retire as Fire Lord.
By then Xanxus claim to Vongola would be eliminated, legitimate or not, and Tsunayoshi would begin his training to be made leader; Azulon would make sure to teach the boy some lessons before the Summer was over, and the next few Summers as well.
A marriage contract could be set up to just before Tsuna's official claim to the Vongola Throne could be made and the girl could be sent with him to Italia to complete both of their training.
Zuko wasn't a prodigy like his sister, but he was more than competent and possessed Sozin's blood in spades and honestly reminded Azulon of his father more than any of his other family; away from the shadow of his sister he could excel, perhaps be a right hand for Lu Ten.
A crown for Iroh, Tsuna, and Azula; a promise of power for Lu Ten and Zuko, and a lesson of humility for the left behind Ozai.
Azulon smiled, yes everything was coming together nicely.
"Iroh has lost his son. Your cousin Lu Ten did not survive the battle"
"Dad's going to kill you!"
"Azula always lies. Azula always lies."
"Everything I've done, I've done to protect you."
"As was your dying wish you are now succeeded by your… second son."
"Hail Fire Lord Ozai!"
"C-can you repeat that" came the nervous stuttering of the young boy, as he desperately tried to ignore the arrow being pointed directly at his forehead.
"You have been chosen as the next head of the Vongola Famiglia, the ruling family of the island nation of Italia, and we need to leave in the next week before your uncle, Fire Lord Ozai, sends his assassins to kill you." Came the calm cold statement of the young boy in front of him.
Tsunayoshi "Tsuna" Sawada was having just a bit of trouble absorbing the information that was being presented to him.
'How did I get here!?' he screamed in his head piteously, why did these things always seem to happen to him, 'First the spirit monster at the temple thinking I was some guy called Ieyatsu, then the Yu Yan guy swearing his allegiance to me, and now a five year old with a crossbow is threatening to kill me so if I don't become the boss of an allied nation. Why me!?'
It didn't make sense, Tsuna was an ordinary, if failure of a guy as far as he was concerned; he knew he was related to royalty and had a deep family history, but that was about it. He was still the clumsy kid who was behind in fire bending class because he somehow kept burning his hands, he was still the kid who'd gotten kicked out of the Royal Fire Nation Academy for Young Men, and was Namimori Prefectures hopeless prince that everyone expected to get picked up by the draft despite high standing because no craft would take him.
"That's what I thought you said" Tsuna said, carefully leaning back from the arrow to rub his face in frustration; the child (if he was a child) had a dangerous aura about him that said he could, would, and most likely had killed before, "Can I ask why me."
"You accepted that fairly easily" the kid stated instead with a questioningly raised eyebrow, even as black eyes tore into almost as bad as his father's own golden stare.
"I know when I'm being lied to" Tsuna answered, it was clear this wasn't an ordinary kid he needed to censor his words around, assuming this kid was even human 'Though that doesn't always count if the person themselves believes the lie as true, and spirits always have their own rules I have to guess at'
"Agni's sight" the 'kid' answered having finally dropped his crossbow, "Good, not all descendants have it."
"Agni's sight?" Tsuna questioned even as he filed away the comment about descendants, did this have something to do with his always absent father?
"The ability to see through all and shine a light in the dark, a light worth being followed" the 'kid' answered
"Riiiiight" Tsuna nodded along, the 'kid' wasn't lying or anything, but nonhumans had a terrible way of speaking in weird, poetic hard to understand circles; "Going back to the why me… ah, I don't know your name."
"My name is precious and not to be spoken by mortal men" well that was some serious spirit magic talk if there ever was, "But what I am, represents the cycle of life and death, and so you can call me Reborn."
"… Do you do that every time somebody asks you your name?" Tsuna said after a beat, unable to resist the smart ass answer.
"Ugh" Tsuna coughed violently as the 'kid', Reborn, kicked him in the face causing him to go flying
"I don't tolerate disrespect Dame-Tsuna" Reborn muttered as his only explanation, "And I gave you the full explanation because if your Spiritual gifts picked up on my given name being a lie, I'd have to deal with your unnecessary distrust."
"Yeah cause kicking me in the face sure salvaged that relationship." Tsuna once again snarked, the knee to the gut was probably deserved, but he couldn't help it; his wit had been sharpened against the scariest, most arrogant, cunning, and sharpest people in the world, not even spirits could curb his mouth nowadays.
"You might as well get used to it" Tsuna said groaning and pulling himself back into a seated position, "I'm not going to stop, just work around it, 'Mr. Prospective Master'"
That was what the kid had called himself when his mother had seemingly abandoned all sense and allowed a five year old loaded with weapons walk into their home. Tsuna had turned thirteen a few months back, a common age for kids of lower status to pick a craft from a master or begin taking adult responsibilities in their parent's craft, or if they lived somewhere less rural than Namimori, begin curtailing their education at school to a certain craft of their talents.
Tsuna, as a technical noble, would usually be getting some form of higher education from family tutors to overlook whatever properties their Clan was in charge of, but as previously laminated, no one wanted Tsuna in charge of anything and were all waiting for the day the army would come drag him off to go clumsy himself in the way of enemy fire.
His mother was the child of a fallen but once great noble family close to the Fire Lord's before the war and as such was nowhere as stupid or airy as she pretended to be; the woman had learned to play vapid airheaded simple looking trophy wife of a constantly absent noble man to a 'T'.
Whether Reborn had been taken by the act, or if he saw and played along was irrelevant, the point is his mother had allowed this suspicious character into their home for a reason. So even before Reborn whipped out the crossbow in the safety of Tsuna's room, he was already on edge, prepared to listen to what the kid had to say.
"Not prospective, actual" Reborn countered his snark, though not without a sharp poke, "There wouldn't have been any real tests or trials and I would have taken you either way, but while I'm not particularly impressed I'm not as disappointed as your records would lead me to believe."
"Gee thanks" Tsuna muttered
"Your welcome Royal Academy drop out" Tsuna flinched, that one stung, "I will be teaching you what you need to know to be a boss of Vongola and by default Italia, but we need to leave soon."
Tsuna let out an aching sigh, looks like he was getting dragged into something ridiculous again.
"Right, you said something about Ozai", Tsuna wouldn't call the man Uncle or even Fire Lord after his beautiful Aunt's disappearance, "wanting to kill me for some reason, which somehow leads to me… what, trying to take over an allied nation in retaliation?"
Honestly he wasn't trying to call Reborn a liar, but he could really use some context here
"Not now, but recent events have made your immediate safety a concern" Reborn answered in a dead serious voice, then his next words cut through all of Tsuna's smart assery, "Your cousin Zuko has been scarred and banished"
With that one phase the temperature of the room dropped
Tsuna sat up perfectly straight, unknowingly calling on old lessons of appearance of power and leadership from his late honorary grandfather; his eyes went hawk sharp, and an orange ring had appeared around the edges of golden irises.
"Explain", it was an order not a request, one that promised a thousand consequences if not complied to
Reborn wasn't the kind of man to obey a child, not even baby dragons with a glare sharper than their fangs, but the seriousness of the situation called for a swallowing of pride, they needed to move.
"He spoke out of turn to a general in a war room he shouldn't have been in" Reborn growled lowly, "Sources on the counsel make it clear that someone (possibly the Fire Lord) set him up. They suggested a particularly heinous plan to sacrifice new recruits as a diversion (it's been done before, back during the twenty year standstill after Azulon retired from the field), and prince hothead couldn't keep his mouth shut."
"…Dammit Zuzu" Tsuna whispered in a broken, but there was a growing heat in the room that told he could suspect where this was going and wasn't liking it.
Tsuna had never cared for the vicious political maneuvers of the court, but that didn't mean he wasn't aware of them, or didn't know how to at least keep his head above water when things turned especially violent. His ability to look through lies was a priceless tool; Agni's Sight saw through the dark and corrupt, and called for those with it to uphold honor. Zuko was good, anybody with Azula for a sister had to be, but he had a tendency to delude himself; Zuko's honor was in accordance to that of a prince from one of his precious plays, and not in alignment to the world that they lived in now.
Tsuna did not have that delusion or pride or princely arrogance, and would have at least seen the trap, maybe whispered his opinion to Iroh (who no doubt let Zuko in) and have him speak on his behalf. Of course Zuko didn't keep his mouth shut.
"Disrespect in the Fire Lord's War Room is not tolerated; an Agni Kai was challenged, Zuko accepted" Reborn continued
"…Who was it" Tsuna asked, wandering which General he would have to hunt for scarring his cousin, hunt and most likely die trying to kill.
'Not my family', Tsuna gritted his teeth barely controlling his uncharacteristic rage; Agni was honor and truth and life, but it was also heat, and power and violence, and Tsuna was nothing if not a child of Agni.
Reborn eyed him, or rather his clenched fist, and could no doubt feel the fluxuating heat in the room
"It was the Fire Lord himself" Reborn answered, "Zuko refused to fight his father and begged, the Fire Lord burned his face and sent him off on a wild hen-goose chase to catch the Avatar."
Dead Silence, and then…
The walls, the bed, the curtains, the desk; all went up in flames, burning with the white hot intensity of Tsuna's anger and then…
Just as quickly as the flames came about they were gone, and Tsuna hissed cradling his burnt hands. He always burned his hands, it was why he never advanced past the basics of fire bending.
"Agni's Harmony" Reborn said eyeing the pink skin, apparently this was another thing that could be explained by his Italian heritage, if Tsuna was in the mood he might have felt some measure of relief in knowing he wasn't as much a failure as he thought.
"The news will probably break in about or week or so after it finishes circling around those who were present in court that day, I doubt the full story will come out though." Reborn continued after a moment as Tsuna rubbed burn cream he carried on him over his hands, "We need you out of the Fire Nation before Ozai starts cutting all his other 'useless links'"
"You are aware that Ozai is an Usurper, correct" Reborn continued after a moment of silence; tilting his allowing the foreign wide tipped hat to shade over his eyes, making his childlike face look much more dangerous.
"Loyal citizens of the Fire Nation would not dare question their Fire Lord's divine right to rule" Tsuna answered in a dull tone, even as his mind cycled back to his father stopping all Summer Trips to the palace and Ember Island, and the cold blankness of his mother's face, more telling of her rage than any words could, "but close members of the court might find themselves reminiscing over their old Lord's love for his first born and scorn for his second and perhaps allow their minds to drift to purely academic 'what ifs'"
"Hmm indeed. In any case after your aunt's completely unrelated disappearance during the night of Azulon's death, the Fire Lord took a sharp and sudden distrust to his wife's family and meant to have you questioned on her disappearance. However Iemitsu continued to run interference… Ozai has never liked Iemitsu" Reborn answered going along with his 'play dumb' answer; at the mention of Ozai's hatred for his father, Tsuna felt a cold thrill of fear for the man, was Ozai purging the palace of all those he couldn't during his initial rise counting his father and cousin, was he and his mother next?
"Your father is fine" Reborn said, probably reading the fear off his face, "The man is the Head of Italia's armed forces and Second in Command of the Nation; Ozai won't move against him without breaking relations with Italia, he has always underestimated your mother and will leave her be, but you are the one currently in the most danger."
Tsuna let out a slow breath of relief, taking his father's position in relative stride; his father was a terrible liar, there was no way in hell the man was having letters delivered from ships trying to breach the North Pole, as simple noblemen trading oil.
"So why do you think he wants to kill me specifically" Tsuna asked, "I'm not eligible for his thrown, and I'm probably less of a threat in his eyes than my mother… which is kind of true actually."
Nana Sawada was scary when she was being protective mama dragoness
"Because it's only a matter of time before he discovers your significance" Reborn replied gravely, "Ozai has no intention of keeping relations with Italia before Sozin's comet comes in the next three plus years; Ozai is not a man to share. Vongola Nono is aging fast and you are the last remaining descendent with Agni's touch that has the right to take over and help reorganize the Vongola to prepare for the eventual break in alliance. You've probably started to notice the anti-Italian propaganda popping up in school since Ozai's takeover"
Tsuna remembered, fire nation took blood lines seriously and everyone knew Italia had once been a dumping ground for criminals of the world. His teachers had not exactly demonized Italians, but they made no secret that Italians couldn't be trusted. There was even a brief time after Ozai first took over where they'd been encouraged to think of Italians as savages, but that had been scrapped in less than a month since any moron with eyes could see the Made in Italia signs on their local metal works.
Each and every Italian was a descendant of some irredeemable criminal who'd been shipped off to some lawless island before the Vongola Famiglia forced order on the continent and got the other nations to stop using it as a dumping ground for their cast offs. In fact it was the blended culture that Sozin first drew inspiration for his war, especially since more than 80% of its inhabitants were of Fire anyway
"So he'll kill me to cripple Italia" Tsuna asked, "but then wouldn't that put my mother in just as much danger! Any child my parents could potentially have would be!"
"He doesn't know your inheritance" Reborn interrupted his growing panic, "but we need you out of the Fire Nation; the maiming of your cousin (who was known to have Italian sympathies) has lit a fire under the upper Echelons to get you secure and trained, before he can find out. Which is why your mother has to stay behind with the retainers and your father at the palace; it has to be business as usual, nothing can draw his attention to his useless forgotten nephew, who left with a wandering craftsman to train him to be something useful. Your humiliation will serve as a smokescreen."
Tsuna swallowed, as the full situation started to come to him; he was in line to be the King(or was it Don) of the technically third strongest nation in the world. His crappy Uncle, the head of the first strongest nation in the world, would have him hunted and killed if he ever found out- along with the heads of every other nation that hated Fire/Italia Alliance. His cousin Zuko was maimed and his other cousin-
'Azula' Tsuna found his thoughts derailed as he thought about a showoff little bossy pants girl, with a mean grin and a fragile heart, 'Is she okay? How is she taking Zuko's banishment? She'll probably lie to herself about caring for his wellbeing, the two of them always hurt each other so bad, always misunderstanding. She'll be left alone with him, will she be safe? Will Zuko? What do I do, how did it end up like this?'
"What do I do?" Tsuna muttered aloud, thinking about his broken relatives, but Reborn chose to answer as if he were talking about their next course of action.
"Now you gather your Guardians" Reborn said seriously
"My Guardians" Tsuna asked tasting the unfamiliar term
"Italia is a land with a rich and bloody history connected to the other nations; that along with its ruling Famiglia's founder being a Spirit Born, has made Italia a very Spirit sensitive land" Reborn lectured, "In order to maintain the balance of Italia's Spiritual Affairs, the leaders of the Famiglia have always been chosen from a diverse group of humans. The Boss (You), who is always a Spirit Born descendant of Agni, a non-bender, a water bender, an earth bender, an air bender, a fire or in some cases purely lightning wielding bender, and a Spirit Touched- typically a shaman of some kind."
"Not sure how much luck we got for the air bender side" Tsuna mumbled absently not wholly listening; forgive him but the whole, 'I'm a Prince sort of and next to Zuko am probably the most wanted man in the world' thing was still at the forefront of his mind.
"We'll see" Reborn said with a tilt of his head
Tsuna gave him a sharp glance, but the little creature merely gave an unrepentant smirk
"Right, well, I guess I better get Hayato" Tsuna said sighing and deciding to just try and roll with the crazy like he always did; he hoped Reborn wouldn't see how pale his face was or the slight shake in his voice, though he knew he would
"Hayato?" Reborn asked, mercifully ignoring his attack of nerves
"Non-bender from the colonies, he has Yu Yan and demolitions training and is madly loyal to me. He'd follow me even if I tied him up here." Tsuna explained, even as he thought of the obsessed green eyed young man with a scowl and a smoke pipe.
If there was anything that categorized him as a non-bender it was that; fire bending came from the breath, no bender would unnecessarily risk their lung capacity like that.
"Agni Life Bridging" Reborn commented, tossing out another term, "Spirit Born of Agni use it to connect with others, which is how the Bosses of Vongola were able to bond their spirits with other benders; 'Hayato' is probably already your non-bender Guardian. You trust this boy?"
"With my life" was Tsuna's immediate answer, remembering a boy who had dropped to his knees and pledged allegiance to the Sawada Clan after Tsuna came running after him and keeping him from exploding down in the mines.
"MY LORD" came a voice bursting into the room, and Tsuna could just process a teary eyed teenager falling to his feet, "YOU PRAISE ME WITH SUCH WORDS!"
"This is Hayato?" Reborn raised an eyebrow at the groveling teen Tsuna was trying to comfort
"I had him listen at the door in case you tried to kill me" Tsuna answered without a hint of shame, "I've led an interesting life; Hayato please get up it's not that big of a deal."
"I don't doubt it, all Spirit Born tend to get into chaotic situations regardless of their Spiritual Forefather" Reborn continued, using that odd term again Spirit Born, giving the teenager vowing to follow him across the world an evaluating gaze, "You have green eyes, mixed blood?"
Hayato froze, before turning a sharp glare at the black coated boy, though that glare quickly rescinded upon meeting cold inhuman eyes.
"Bastard" Hayato spat, not quite daring the other to protest, "Fire Nation Noble, Earth Kingdom Trinket."
"Hmm, not unlike the first generation's right hand" Reborn responded, uncaring of the boy's challenge, "You have five more to go, and we need to go, we can't waste any more time."
Tsuna looked out a the window, his eyes unconsciously fixing on the hill leading to the ports, which in turn faced the capital Caldera City and the Palace.
A spike of worry shot through him; worry for his mother, worry for Zuko, a surprising amount of worry for his absentee father, himself, Hayato, his home (would Ozai spare him if he found him gone), and worry for…
'Azula' his heart gave a familiar yearning tug; even after three years he always thought about her, always worried for her. She had such a hard time communicating outside of using fear, and he knew she wasn't quite all right in the head. She was damaged, and fearsome, and scary, and cunning, and cruel and still and so so beautiful in her own way, and he always wished everyone else could see it.
"Reborn" Tsuna asked absently, and felt the kid-creature's eyes on him, "If I go with you, will you help me save the Fire Nation too? Ozai is one man not the people, and the people are… they're…"
Reborn tilted his head, and Tsuna thought he heard him mutter something about a clever old bastard dragon.
"That is up to you alone Tsuna, but Vongola is not without its own strengths, if you put in the work" Reborn answered, "And you have me as a Master, I am the best in the world at what I do after all."
Tsuna nodded, not taking his eyes off the horizon
"Very well, let's find my Guardians"
In a teashop in the colony of Guanyin, a tall young man with a brilliant smile, served a cup of Ginseng to a group of old men playing Pai Sho.
"Ah this is a lovely brew" said the shortest squattest man, fire nation nobility in a rundown colony?, "Please give my appreciation to the brewer young man."
"Your appreciation is much appreciated, your lordship" the tall teen said with a smile
"You made this tea!?" the old man asked with wide eyes
"Ha ha ha, I've been working in shops since the day I was born your lordship" the teen laughed good naturedly, "There isn't a tea I can't brew, or a meat I can't grill."
"Tell me young one, would you be interested in joining a club of friendly Pai Sho players." The old man asked in a deadly serious voice
The man next to him face palmed
"Iroh, we are not letting the kid in to be your tea servant." he grumbled, and the teen laughed
"Sorry, your lordship, but I prefer to travel the open road; I'm only here to learn what I can, before moving on." The teen apologized good naturedly
"Even better" the old man exclaimed, "I happen to have recently been put on a ship traveling-"
"Iroh. No." the face palming man interrupted
Before he could respond, the door was kicked open by another teen with brown skin and shaggy hair, along with several other grubby teens behind him.
"Well, well, well, do my eyes deceive me, or do I see a prince of the Fire Nation in my town!?" the teen questioned loudly centering on the men at the Pai Sho table.
The tea server raised an eyebrow at the older squat man in the fancy robes, who had immediately and incredibly conspicuously began to cough into his tea cup.
"Truly you are a master of stealth Iroh" the other man rolled his eyes
"Ah, guilty as charged!" Iroh called out, even raising his hand politely as if he had been flagged down by an old friend, and not a group of armed teenagers, "How may I help you young men"
"And lady" the tea server said pointing to a smaller scruffy one standing next to the boy with a bow
The girl blinked surprised and then looked vindicated
"My apologies, young men and lady" Iroh corrected
"You're coming with us Old Man!" the boy with hook swords said threateningly, "I think your bloody corpse in the town square, will finally get the message across that your kind isn't welcome here."
"How short sighted" Iroh's opponent mumbled, even as he took note of the dangerous shift in their tea server.
"Yes I'm sure that would cause quite the stir" Iroh answered unconcerned; hook swords took insult to that and stalked forward.
Only for the tea server to get in their way, a smile on his face
"I'm sorry, but I can't allow you to harass the customers' sir, please exit the premises" the smiling teen said just as calmly as the seated man
"Takeshi!" the shop owner yelled in worry from where he and the other customers had backed up in fear.
"Step out of the way kid, that's fire nation scum" the teen growled
"Kid" Takeshi said with a smiling tilt of his head, "I think I might be older than you Mr. Wheat Addict"
The hook sword teen flinched
"I don't have time for you" he growled and slashed a hook blade at the taller teen
Only to have it clash against a brown thin blade
A blade that formed from the tea of the cups around the room
"You're a water bender?" hook blades asked in shock
"I prefer swordsman" Takeshi smiled, "I don't know much water bending."
"Why are you protecting this Fire Nation Prince then!" Hook Blades roared, trying to push Takeshi down, but Takeshi just moved out the way before 'lightly' pushing the other teen back.
Hook Blades went flying across the room
"I'm not" Takeshi answered in a cool sure voice, the smile had disappeared, and the teen suddenly looked very, very threatening, "I'm protecting this town from a fool who would call down the might of the Fire Nation on their heads for petty vengeance."
The other customers suddenly looked even more fearful while the grubby teens bristled, even as the old men playing Pai Sho looked on curious by the development.
"Alright, we can see about him joining the club." One of the men grumbled audibly; Iroh snorted
"Coward" the teen charged
"Petty fool" Takeshi whispered
It was over in an instant, and the scruffy teen was on the ground clutching his chest
"JET" the other kids shouted
"Take him and get him treated" Takeshi said calmly as the others glared at him, "If you continue, I will put you down to save this town."
"S-shut up" 'Jet' moaned
"Jet!" the girl screamed
"Save your strength man" came the deep rumbling voice of the big one
"T-this t-town is a b-bunch of cowards" he spat, "it c-can drown in the l-lake for all I c- argh!"
"Take him and get out" Takeshi repeated, "His hate has no place here; he can go to the front line if he wants to get people killed"
With a final glare the teens collected their friend and left
"Now then" Takeshi said turning to the silent crowd, a smile spreading across his face, "Can I get you anything?"
"Yes" called the a small childish voice, and Takeshi looked to the corner or the room where a child was sipping a cup of coffee, which Takeshi knew they didn't brew here, and looking insufferably smug "Tell me, do you serve clams?"
Definitely a Part One, even if no one else likes it.