Reborn expected a lot of things and planned accordingly when Nono contacted him about training the heir to the Vongola. Or rather, the heiress. He was a hitman, the greatest hitman, he was flexible, but the situation his target was in, her life and circumstances were...this was nothing he had expected.
He had only just arrived and received the school files, medical records (they were...extensive), financial records and he pulled all the security footage and ran a program to isolate his target in every frame she appeared in.
It took about fifteen minutes before he rather firmly decided he was going to murder someone. Very painfully, exceedingly slowly, and with no explanation or warning. He was going to torture whoever was responsible for this atrocity and he was going to do it in every sense of the word, in every way he knew how.
He was the World's Best. He knew the signs of what he was seeing, recognized the highly likely causes and effects. He wasn't certain, however as this was an area in which very little was certain, and until he had confirmation, he could not act to counter what he believed to be the problem with the Skyling he was meant to tutor.
And he hoped he was wrong, for all that his instincts said he was not, for a Sealing was a cruel and torturous abomination, for all active Elements, but especially for a Sky. And Reborn was absolutely certain this Skyling had been Active before the Seal-if that was in fact what had been done to her- had been placed, based solely on the reactions of those around her to her very presence.
He would know for certain, confirm all his suspicions, the moment he met her in person.
In the meantime, every bit of security footage he viewed only fueled his rage. Even if nothing had been wrong with the little Donna-to-Be, he would have dealt with her teachers for their horrid targeted behaviour in regards to the Sawada. It went against everything a tutor, a teacher, should stand for, and Reborn was not happy with it.
She had trouble remembering most everything her teachers taught her, but she knew the backstreets of Namimori best of her age group. She had to, with how often she'd used them to escape her tormentors.
She didn't dare to glance behind her. Ever since that old man, and the one on the pictures in her house had taken the warmth away from her, she'd been clumsy, couldn't remember much of anything unless she really tried, and wanted to learn. She'd had trouble speaking to people, and her instincts had been smothered to almost-silence. Her awareness of everything had dulled to nothing, and she was always cold.
She knew better than to take her eyes off her escape route, off the road in front of her, as any attempt to multitask or look elsewhere would result in her tumbling to the ground, and leave her at the mercy of her bullies.
"Dame-Tsuna! You know we're going to catch you! Just stop and get it over with!"
Tsuna refused to react, her shoes sliding on the ground as she took a corner almost too fast. Any reaction she showed would just encourage the boys behind her to be more vicious. Not reacting annoyed them, but it was better than the alternative.
She almost wanted to cry, but she had learned long ago that crying did nothing to help her, often made things worse for her in fact. She hated this. Hated this existence, this cold shadow of what could have been.
She loathed the freezing weight she carried around, abhorred this life of halves that man and his boss had forced her to, this...this broken nothingness. She was no longer weightless and free, her wings clipped. A being of freedom and harmony, a spirit of welcome of the Sky chained and forced to the earth.
Everything of color had been drained to greys and black and she just wanted it to-
Tsuna's feet moved even as her brain froze on that feeling so different to her own almost forgotten warmth, but similar all the same. She was running, faster than she had ever run before, arms opening without thought, and then she's slamming into a solid sturdy from, and she's found the Warmth and it's sinking into her bones-
Xanxus didn't much like Namimori.
He couldn't explain why, only that something in the air felt...wrong. Something set his instincts to itching and writhing, that something felt off in a way that was fundamentally not right. It was as if the sky had become green and the grass blue, or like gravity had intensified by five.
Something that was taken for granted, that had been one way since his childhood and should stay that way until death, had been fiddled with.
It was making him grouchy in a way he had not been since he was much younger.
The fact Namimori was crawling with Flame Actives, and Almost-But-Still-Latent-Flames was only making it worse.
Reborn had noticed of course- he noticed everything the figlio di puttana- and chose to send him wandering the town while he looked in on his new student.
Which was why Xanxus was wandering the backstreets of the small town. It was habit from his childhood on Italia's streets, and the habit had saved his life and the lives of his own people more than once, so he never broke it. Knowing the backstreets of any town you stayed in was a good practice, and he knew they would be here for a long while now that Reborn was here to teach.
He heard the running footsteps long before he saw the source of them. It was instinctive to flare his Flames just enough to surround himself with a sense of 'stay the fuck away from me'. As a Sky- even a Wrath Sky- he had a Harmony Factor, and loading his Flames with that sense would cause people to instinctively avoid him until he let up on it.
Which was why he was surprised when a small bedraggled missile slammed into his waist, and burrowed into him like he was a welcomed and missed sight. The five boys that had been chasing the child clinging to his shirt slid to a stop, their wide terrified eyes fixed on his own before dropping to the little one who was not reacting the way they should-the way the boys his Flames.
It wasn't even a thought, as the boys turned and ran leaving the limpet behind like garbage.
A small, shaking frame, hints of delicate, feminine features he barely made out, and the all too familiar way the child curled into him.
A girl. Barely more than eight, being chased by five boys, older, taller and stronger.
Xanxus did not like that. That they left a little girl with someone who looked like he did. He would never have done anything, but they didn't know that.
Scum. Useless trash.
He scanned the streets, noticing the people who continued as if nothing was wrong, as if it was commonplace to see a child, a terrified little girl, running as if her life depended on it, in a little town in nowhere Giappone. Why was no one concerned? The quality of her student uniform wasn't bad and it was dirtied and torn in several places, with obvious mending marks, which suggested this was a common occurrence.
However, as he stood there, the girl clinging to him, he realized abruptly that he recognized the look of her. Desperation and terror that drove her into the arms of a literal stranger who was an assassin, an Italian mafioso and she saw that as a better option than children. He recognized the feel of her body as well. The girl was small. Small and thin, tiny and by the state of her hair, it was obvious she wasn't getting enough food to grow properly.
In a small Japanese suburbia.
He couldn't help the swell of his Flames, of anger and rage, how dare those scum-
Eyes of liquid fire stared into crimson and Xanxus' whole world violently crashed before swiftly restarting.
Those were Sky-Eyes.
Those were Active Sky Flame eyes.
So why couldn't he sense the little Sky in front of him if she had Active Sky in her eyes?
His next breath was sharp and shocked, as he instinctively reached out for the Sky Flames he should have sensed this close to any Active Sky.
He reached for warmth, and there was nothing. Only a biting brutal awareness of something missing, of how colorless the world was, of cold.
Of a vicious living ice blocking her in-
Ice like Zero Point, where no Flames could reach him, where he could reach no Flames. His own Wrath-Sky locked in place, his mind aware of everything, unable to close his eyes to any of it. Aware of the world passing him by, but unable to interact with it.
His Guardian Bonds blocked from him, walled away by foreign Sky Flames made into ice, visible but out of reach for all of them. Like water to a desert-dweller, only when he reached for it, it wavered like a mirage, never to be touched.
So cold it burned him, scorched into his skin like razors and agony. Screaming and screaming even though no one could hear him. Yelling so loudly his own head echoed with it, despite no sound escaping his prison.
Insanity clawing at the edges of his mind, as first one year, and then another, and than a third passes him by.
He had spent each of them burning without fire, empty of warmth, lacking his Bonds, watching the world pass him by, unable to rest at all. It would have been kinder to just kill him, why would the Ninth do this?
Xanxus couldn't breathe-
A little spark of warmth brushing against the inferno of his own, dragging his mind out of his flashback of endless icy cold, weak and flickering as the spark is.
Xanxus' eyes dart down just in time to see the liquid-fire of the little girl fade to dull muddy brown, and her eyes roll back and she's falling-
Xanxus is moving before his brain catches up with the rest of him, sweeping the Skyling off her feet and whirling around to face the living Sun that was Reborn's Flames, already headed his way.
Xanxus rushes as much as he can without actually breaking into a sprint, not wanting to draw anymore attention to him or the girl he is cradling to his chest. There's a knot of tension making it hard to breathe as he ponders how in the hell a little girl, not even eight, managed to get her Flames blocked off and sealed away.