"Thank you all for coming. It is time for us to start training you all to reach your maximum potential. Pao Pao!" Reborn cheered, raising one gloved hand up into the air.

"Ysh!" Ryohei roared as he pumped himself up, his energy echoing through the school's gym.

"We'll do our best." Kyoko giggled, while Haru gushed over Reborn's Master Pao Pao costume, with its pink elephant head gear.

"Wait, Reborn, I thought this was supposed to be my training session!?" Gokudera objected as he looked around at the surrounding people. Just about everyone from Natsumi's friends circle was there. Only Hana was missing from the line up, having said no thanks to 'training' with Ryohei.

"Sorry for the misunderstanding. This will be a training session for ALL of Natsumi's Guardian candidates." Reborn clarified, his words causing a mixed reaction from the surrounding people. Gokudera in particular had his eyes wide and looked determined at the mention of the Guardians.

"Guardian candidates?" Natsumi said, not familiar with the term.

"When you receive the full power of your inheritance as the Vongola Sky, you will also choose a handful of people to help you carry the burden of that power, they will be your Guardians." Reborn explained. "You will have six Guardians in total, one representing each of the other six common elements of the Dying Will Flames, with your Sky Flame to unite them."

"The Guardians. It sounds really cool, like a real superhero group, and you're going to be the leader, Natsumi-chan." Kyoko said with a giggle.

"Wait, but if this is supposed to be training for Guardian candidates, then why is Kyoko a part of it?" Natsumi said, a little panicked by the idea of her friend being dragged into all of this.

"Why do you think? While her abilities aren't as active as her brothers, talent usually runs in the family." Reborn said, looking at Natsumi with his thousand yard stare. "If I am not mistaken, she has the potential to become a user of Mist Flames."

"Mist Flames? Isn't that the one that makes illusions?" Illya said excitedly. "That's so cool!"

"Yeah… so cool." Natsumi said with a bit of dread. She didn't even like Kyoko knowing about the 'Magical Girls' thing. Having her become a Guardian would mean actually joining the mafia, wouldn't it?

Natsumi jumped as she felt a hand on her shoulder and looked up to see Kyoko's smiling face. "Let's do our best then. Right, Natsumi-chan?"

"R...Right." Natsumi said, flushing a bit.

"You won't be officially picking your Guardians until you turn 17, but there isn't any harm in them starting to train their powers early." Reborn reasoned.

Natsumi wasn't even 13 yet, so she still had 4 more years to go before she would officially inherit the power of the Vongola Rings. There shouldn't be any rush, but with the situation between the 9th and Natsumi being bleak, it didn't hurt to be prepared.

The 9th shouldn't interfere with Natsumi, as the girl was the last heir capable of using the Vongola Rings. To do anything that would risk her life would be illogical, and no one outside of the inner circle of the Famiglia even knew a general location for the girl. ...So why was Reborn so worried?

The 9th was putting into being able to manipulate the girl. His own Dying Will Flames were fading, but he still didn't want to give up on the control he had over the Vongola Famiglia. How far would he go in order to control her?

The Emiyas were basically untouchable, but Timoteo wouldn't be above going after Natsumi's other friends.

Kyoko, Haru, Ryohei, all of them were weak points, and Gokudera was already compromised. He'd been compromised for years.

After doing a little digger, Reborn started to realize that Gokudera's past track record was a little TOO bad. Just about every Famiglia he ended up joining ran into a long string of bad luck and unexplained incidents while he was around. He'd been Timoteo's sleeper agent for years without even realizing it himself, sabotaging Vongola's allies so that they could remain the core of the alliance.

It put Reborn into an awkward position.

Gokudera was a liability to everything they were doing, and should be dealt with… But he was Bianchi's little brother. Despite everything, Bianchi still cared deeply for him. Removing him would leave Bianchi sad, and if he ended up dead because of it… she might end up having another breakdown.

The flames used to control him were buried deep, too deep for Reborn to do anything about it. It left Reborn with only two options, slowly building up his resistances to the control by strengthening his own flames, or seeking out Shirou's help once again. Problem there was the degree to which Shirou disliked Gokudera. While he tolerated Haru and Hibari's impulsively violent behavior because of its nonlethal nature, Gokudera's dynamite was definitely something that could kill people, and he hadn't been shy about tossing it around ordinary people. The wizard still hadn't forgiven the boy for his attempt to kill Natsumi when they first met.

Would Shirou help in this case? He had helped with Bianchi, but Reborn wasn't sure.

And if he couldn't remove the mind control, then what would he do?

Reborn would have to keep it as a last resort.

"Now, since everyone has different flame types and is at different levels of development, you will have different training as well." Reborn said with a nod of his head. "Let's start with Taiga, Illya and Natsumi. The three of you will be training together on that machine over there."

Reborn pointed towards a large machine with a monitor attached to it and a series of microphones. It clearly wasn't something that belonged in a gym, but Natsumi couldn't tell what it was.

"Wait, isn't that a karaoke machine?" Taiga said.

"That's right." Reborn replied with a cheerful nod. "Your Rain Flames and Illya's Snow Flames are both connected to a Chakra point located in the throat and are powers connected to sound and joy. This karaoke machine has been modified in order to read your Dying Will Flames and will score you on their strength and stability. As for Natsumi's part, her job will be to try to harmonize with your wavelengths."

"Wow, this is going to be a lot of fun!" Illya said cheerfully.

"I've never done karaoke before. I'm not really any good at singing." Natsumi said nervously. While this hadn't been the horrifying training she was expecting of

"Don't worry about it. Karaoke is all about making an idiot of yourself, just doing it in good company." Taiga said, putting a supporting arm around Natsumi's shoulder.

"Do your best, Natsumi-chan." Kyoko and Haru said together.

"Have fun, and just make sure to keep up your Dying Will Flame while you are singing." Reborn instructed.

The girls probably thought it was going to be easy, but they would all be crawling on the ground from exhaustion in an hour or so. Neither Illya nor Natsumi had ever had to maintain their flames for more than a minute or two at a time, and the contain use of it put a large strain on the body.

"Next is Ryohei and Shirou." Reborn said, turning to the pair of boys.

"I am EXTREMELY ready for anything, Master Pao Pao!" Ryohei shouted, practically bouncing from excitement.

"Good. I want the two of you to take off your shirts and go meditate in the sun." Reborn said with a small nod. Not that Ryohei had been wearing a shirt in the first place.

"Huh? Meditate?" Ryohei said, confused by the instruction.

"As a user of the Sun Flame, you can absorb the energy from the sun in order to strengthen your body and recharge your energy. But so far, you've only ever been doing this passively. Once you can actively draw on the energy around you, you will become even stronger still."

"I don't get it, but it sounds EXTREME!" Ryohei shouted with a grin, only hearing the part about getting stronger.

"Shirou-kun, you get him started and I will be out to instruct him some more in a few minutes." Reborn said to the magic user, assuming he already knew how to meditate properly.

"Fine. Let's go, Ryohei." Shirou said, choosing not to fight Reborn on this, though his expression didn't seem happy.

With the pair out of the way, Reborn turned to the final two female participants. "I'm afraid that you two have yet to develop your powers, so we are going to have to start from the ground up with basic training. Feel free to use the normal gym equipment until you get tired. After that, you can feel free to play with the others."

"Huh, no special training for us?" Haru said, seeming a little disappointed that her training was to be the normal kind.

"Just think of it as a chance to work off some of that weight you've been putting on from all those cakes the two of you eat." Reborn said cheekily.

"Huh!? I haven't been putting on weight!" "That's right! I'm still in great shape!" Haru shouted, Kyoko echoing the statement.

"Are you sure?" Reborn said with a smile, somehow pulling a pair of scales out of his boxing gloves and tossing them in front of the two girls.

The pair had worried looks on their faces as they stepped onto the scales. ""EEHHHHH!"" The girls gave out shreks of horror as they saw the reads from the scales that Reborn had rigged to give numbers 20% higher than the real values.

Taking advantage of their panic, Reborn quickly shot both girls in the forehead with Dying Will Bullets.

Seconds later, the girls were on the work out machines, pushing themselves as if their lives depended on it.

They'd crash in about three minutes and would be too tired to stand, but Reborn had made sure to keep only the equipment that was safe around, so there were no worries even if they fell to pieces mid exercise. This was all just a rouse in order to get them to draw out their Dying Will Flames anyways.

He glanced at the flames on their foreheads, confirming what he already knew. Kyoko's flame was the dark indigo color that rapidly dispersed like a mist as soon as it touched the air, while Haru's flame was a bright green spark with jagged edges and a lighter violent flame in the center of it.

Kyoko would be a Mist Flame user, if she ever managed to gain proper control over her flame. Meanwhile, Haru had Lightning Flames, with a smaller talent for Cloud Flames.

It was something that showed in the hyperactive girl's personality, as she was both extremely innocent and naive, and had no grasp of normal social behaviors and was prone to violent outbreaks when the rules she bases her view of the world on are called into question. It was the sad truth of people born with a strong talent for the Cloud Flames, it made them predisposed for becoming psychopathes. Though Haru is rather tame compared to most, likely because she was still good natured.

After all, she came at Shirou with a hockey stick instead of a knife, and only wanted to protect Reborn, not hurt Shirou.

"Reborn-sama, what about me?" Gokudera said, getting worried, since he was the only one who had yet to be given an assignment.

"I have arranged a special tutor for you. All you have to do to pass your training is to beat her in a sparring match." Reborn said with a smile.

"Her?" Gokudera said in surprise.

The door to the changing room opened and Bianchi walked in, wearing tight shorts, a tank top, and a pair of boxing gloves, her hair pulled back in a ponytail. "I'm ready whenever you are, Hayato." She said with her usual casual smile.

"Bianchi!?" Gokudera said with a shout.

"Of course. Bianchi-chan is one of my students. The only way you are going to be able to beat her is by greatly improving yourself." Reborn said with a smile as Bianchi climbed up into the boxing ring in the center stage. "Also, she is currently one of the top contenders for becoming a Guardian. If you can't even get a proper hit on her in something as straightforward as a boxing match, you have no business becoming a Guardian."

At Reborn's words, Gokudera stood a bit taller.

He already had emotional issues with his half-sister, and Reborn had just poured oil on that fire. Now he just had to unleash those flames.

The Dying Will Bullet hit Gokudera squire in the forehead and caused his multicolored flames to burst into life. Storm, Sun, Rain, Lightning and Cloud, mixing together to create an almost rainbow colored flame on the boy's forehead.

Gokudera didn't bother to put on protective gear. He just jumped up into the ring and went charging at Bianchi in an uncontrolled rage.

Bianchi wasn't taken off guard. She'd seen Dino in such a state hundreds of times, and had sparred against the Bucking Bronco in the past. While hand to hand combat wasn't her specialty, she was still one of Reborn's students, and wouldn't lose to an amature like Gokudera, who only ever learned fighting on the streets.

Reborn watched for a few seconds as Bianchi danced around Gokudera, trying to give advice that the boy completely ignored in his attempts to attack her. Then, Reborn turned away and left the room, humming a little to the tune coming from the karaoke machine as he did so.

Outside, Shirou had Ryohei sitting down with a hand on the other boy's back, channeling his magical energy into the boy's body. "You should be feeling a discomfort around your lower stomach. This is where the channel you should be trying to absorb the energy in the air with is located. Just focus you will on the point and try to draw the energy in. Try to match the rhythm of it to the rhythm of your breathing."

"Ysh." Ryohei said with a nod of his head as he started to take deep breaths.

Reborn wasn't the best at sensing the flow of energy, as that wasn't a trait that the Sun Flames excelled at, but he could feel some of the energy in the air being pulled towards the boy. What to him was a barely noticeable amount, even if he strained himself to find it.

But it was still something.

Ryohei had already started to get it on his first try. "Even if he doesn't understand anything, his body does." Reborn mused as he approached.

"It's not surprising. He's been absorbing prana from the sun all his life. It's basically the same as instructing him on proper breathing exercises." Shirou commented. "Thinking about it, the number of naturally talented people in the area is rather unexpectedly high."

"This town has a long history with the Underworld. Or it did, until your parents drove out everyone who hadn't already retired." Reborn replied with a shrug.

"...Reborn, what are you thinking?" Shirou said, giving the tiny hitman a look. He had switched to speaking in Italian, so that Ryohei wouldn't be able to understand them.

"You're going to have to be more specific." Reborn said, though he figured he already knew what Shirou was referring to.

"You can't honestly be planning on training Gokudera and Haru." Shirou said sharply. "The pair of them are mentally unstable. They don't need superpowers, they need help. In Gokudera's case, the kind of help that involves straight jackets and padded rooms."

"That's a bit of a hypocritical thing to say, isn't it?" Reborn pointed out.

"Just because I am a hypocrite, doesn't mean I'm not right." Shirou countered. "You know damn well that Gokudera is the textbook definition of a psychopath. Yesterday, he didn't think twice about using lethal force, and even after he found out that it was a misunderstanding, he refused to take responsibility for his actions. He didn't even care that he could have killed an innocent girl. And what would happen if Haru gained superpowers and then saw a parent dragging their crying child out of a toy store or something? Do you understand the kind of damage those two could cause if you give them access to their flames?"

"Helping them with that is part of Natsumi's job." Reborn said calmly.

"Natsumi doesn't have the kind of training needed to deal with something like this." Shirou objected.

"She got Haru to apologize to you, didn't she?" Reborn said, causing Shirou to pause. The boy had been surprised by Haru actually being able to recognize that she was in the wrong, even if only because it had been explained to her. It had been a genuine apology, unlike the one Gokudera gave her for almost killing her. "Just like Illya and Iris have managed to turn you into a somewhat functional human being, Natsumi can do the same with Haru and Gokudera. Even after just a few days, Haru is already showing improvement, and even if you haven't noticed, Gokudera has been getting better as well. And as their own flames grow, so will the effect that she has on them. And we will be keeping an eye on them to make sure they don't get into too much trouble."

"...You're putting a lot of responsibility on her shoulders." Shirou said calmly.

"She can handle it. She won't always be that same crybaby girl you used to know. She's been growing up too." Reborn stated.

"This is stupid!" The pair looked up as the door to the gym slammed open and a very angry looking Gokudera came stomping out, followed by Bianchi.

"Hayato, your training isn't finished yet." Bianchi said as the boy continued to march angrily away.

"This is nothing but a waste of time! I'll train my own way!" Gokudera shouted back, ignoring his older sister as he continued on his way, fuming like a spoiled child, his sister watching him go with a mixture of concern and exasperation.

"Oh yeah. I can see his personality has had a major improvement." Shirou deadpanned.

"That didn't take long." Reborn said with a sigh. He'd only been outside for a few minutes.

He'd figured that the boy wouldn't take well to being partnered with Bianchi, but it seems that after his Dying Will Flame expired, he couldn't take being around her any longer and simply split.

"Anyways, Ryohei-kun seems to be getting the hang of this, so it is time for the next part of your training." Reborn said, changing the subject.

"Tell me what you want me to do Master Pao Pao! I'm EXTREMELY ready!" Ryohei said, jumping to his feet in an instant, while Shirou gave the fake baby a questioning look.

"Your next assignment will be that." Reborn said, pointing towards the school gate.

Shirou and Ryohei looked to where he was pointing and reacted very differently from each other.

"Hibari-san! Are you here to train too!?" Ryohei asked happily, as Shirou swore in annoyance.

"For trespassing on school grounds, I will bite you to death." The school prefect said as he brought out his weapons of choice.

Reborn left them all to it as he went to check on Bianchi. "You okey?"

She looked down at him and smiled. "I'm alright. Hayato is just going through a rebellious phase." She insisted, though even Reborn standing in front of her couldn't stop her eyes from darting in the direction that her brother had left in. "Are you sure I shouldn't go after him?"

"If he doesn't come back of his own free will, then his training with you won't go anywhere. He'll run around for a bit, but eventually he will realize that he has no other options and will return on his own." Reborn said.

He hoped that what he was saying was true.

Despite Bianchi's love for her younger brother, he held no such love for her back. It started when he was only a child, and found out that Bianchi's mother wasn't his real mother, the treatment he received as a bastard turning him bitter to the daughter of the legal wife. That bitterness only grew when Bianchi's poison abilities started to manifest and when Gokudera became convinced that their father had murdered his real mother.

"I wish he would stop running away." Bianchi said sadly.

"That is the entire point of this exercise. To teach him that he can't just keep running away anymore, if he wants to truly belong." Reborn said before jumping up into the air, to be caught in Bianchi's arms. "Come on, let us check on how the girls are doing."

They walked back inside, leaving Shirou to deal with Hibari and Ryohei as a fight started to break out.

As Illya and Natsumi reached the end of their tenth song, the pair slumped down to their knees, panting heavily. It had been around 45 minutes and it was far more exhausting than they had expected it to be.

"Wow, you three were great!" Haru cheered, clapping her hands together.

"Your voices all worked really well together." Kyoko agreed vigorously.

Haru and Kyoko had indeed collapsed from exhaustion by the time that Reborn had returned to the gym, so Bianchi had helped carry them to a coach set up near the karaoke machine, where they could slowly recover from their ordeal.

They had realized that Reborn had played a trick on them in order to motivate them, and had been slightly embittered about his use of such an underhanded tactic. There were just some things you weren't supposed to mess with and a girl's weight was one of them. Not that either of them were the type to hold a grudge, especially not against what looked to be a baby.

"You two okey?" Taiga said, looking down at Natsumi and Illya. Taiga was doing better than the other two, since she'd been training with her Dying Will Flames for a few years already, but she still seemed a bit tired.

"I'm alright." Natsumi said as she allowed her Dying Will Flames to die down. Her entire body was then hit by the full force of her fatigue and she practically rolled over.

She had been keeping the flow of energy in her body going for three quarters of an hour, and even though she hadn't been doing any strenuous activities, she felt as though she wouldn't be able to stand.

"You lasted pretty long, but try to do the whole hour next time." Reborn commented with a nod of his head.

"A whole hour?" Natsumi whimpered, until she felt something cold pressed up against her cheek. She opened her eyes to see Kyoko smiling down at her with a cold bottle of water in her hand.

"Your throat is probably parched from singing, so here." Kyoko said with her normal sunshine smile.

"Th...thank you." Natsumi said as she took the water.

Really, it was Reborn who had given Kyoko the water to give to her, but she didn't need to know that.

"You all did really well today. Keep it up and I think you will be ready to move on to the next stage of training by the end of the summer break. Until then, we will be doing this every day." Reborn said as they all got comfortable.

"That's… not so bad." Natsumi admitted as she drank her water.

Honestly, she could imagine a lot worse of trainings coming from Reborn. She had been expecting some kind of crazy spartan stuff, like climbing up the side of a mountain or something.

"Yeah, this was kind of fun." Kyoko agreed.

"Good to hear you are all still motivated. Now let's grab the boys so we can go home and have some lunch." Reborn said.

That was when they all went outside to find Shirou, Ryohei and Hibari all having a shirtless punch out in the middle of the school yard, Hibari having lost his weapons and shirt around half an hour previous, but still unwilling to back down. The three of them moved at such inhuman speeds that neither Kyoko or Haru could follow their movements.

"Have… have they been fighting this entire time?" Natsumi asked, somewhat marveling over the boys' stamina.

"Such power." Haru mumbled in shock, remembering how she had tried to pick a fight with Shirou, not believing Bianchi when she said that he and Reborn were super strong.

"Onii-chan...You were supposed to be meditating?" Kyoko said with a sigh.

I've decided on what I'm going to do to Gokudera, and it is at the cross section of a happy ending and a horrifying one. Allowing him to be part of the development of the more important characters.

Going to have another chapter of relatively light hearted training times before having shit hit the fan.

This does mean I'm going to be sending a good 7 chapters on all this before moving on to Mammon, which I think is more interesting, but I need to put this crap with Gokudera to rest so I don't have to hear people whining about him anymore.