Hall of Mirrors

What might have happened between Xanxus and the Ninth, immediately after the Ring Battles. Comment-fic for Lys to the prompt: Xanxus, got to be the best. Drama, Angst, I-3, rather a lot of profanity

The old men were arguing over killing him.

“If your dog runs mad you kill it yourself.” Paulo’s voice was flat.

“This is my son you’re talking about, not a dog.” The old man managed to growl even when he still couldn’t sit up without help, which might have been all heartwarming and shit except Xanxus noticed he wasn’t arguing about the “mad” part.

“Boss, this can’t go on.” Staffieri sounded wrung out, but that was for the Ninth. Not for him.

“If we knew why he did this…”

“What do you mean, ‘if we knew’?!” Rizzo cut Martelli off. “He’s crazy, why the hell else would he have done any of this to the Family that took him in?”

Xanxus laughed at that. He couldn’t help it. The voices on the other side of the screen went silent, wary, as if they still had cause.

He couldn’t sit up without help either. Not without help to cut the straps that tied him to the hospital bed.

After a long moment of silence Martelli drew the screen back and all seven old men stood there looking at him. Well, six and one old woman, counting Purezza, though he’d only call her that if he wanted a good fight.

He actually half respected Purezza. Damn shame she hadn’t been Boss.

He snorted at the way they looked at him, all sober and weighty. “What kind of morons are you, anyway?” he demanded, voice still harsh from screaming while the damn Rings turned his guts inside out. Harsh anyway, with disgust. “If I’m not the best, what am I?”

“You’re my son,” the old man started and Xanxus’ lip curled. After all this.

“No. I’m not.”

“Blood claim or not, you’re the adopted son of the Vongola.” Staffieri sounded impatient, but not as impatient as the look Xanxus shot at him.

“That and some hard cash will get me a coffee. Or maybe just get me run off for cluttering up the pretty shop front.”

“Isn’t it time you stopped living in the past?” Martelli asked quietly.

Xanxus met Martelli’s eyes and spat over the side of his bed. “The past doesn’t go away,” he said over the sounds of outrage from the rest. “You can lie to yourself if you want, but don’t fucking do it to me.” He turned to stare up at the ceiling, which at least didn’t mince out mealy-mouthed platitudes in face of fucking reality. “You think anyone was going to accept a whore’s son if he wasn’t better than everyone else? If he wasn’t worth it? You think that old man can take a kid off the street and ram him into one of the biggest, strongest, wealthiest Families there is and have it all be sweetness and fucking light just because he’s your precious boss and he says so?” The laughter shook him again, high and harsh, because they did still think that. He could tell.

If anyone ever asked for proof the world wasn’t fair, he could point to the fact that their own stone blindness hadn’t killed any of these stupid fuckers off yet.

“Your own damn Rings say otherwise,” he said into the silence when he finally caught his breath. “So untie my hand and give me a knife, since you’re obviously too damn cowardly to kill me yourselves.”

“No,” the old man said after a long moment, and Xanxus rolled his eyes. Of course not; that would actually be decisive action. God forbid. “Perhaps I was a fool. Perhaps I still am. But,” he continued before Xanxus could agree wholeheartedly, “I will not permit you to weaken this Family.”

Xanxus looked down at that, teeth bared. “Couldn’t do it worse than you already have.”

“You will continue to lead the Varia,” the old man said, not answering, never answering, “because the Varia are needed. You say you must be the best or be nothing, but Sawada Tsunayoshi has shown that you are not the best.” A smile, an actual fucking smile, twitched at the old man’s mustache. “You appear to be second best. So it seems fitting, by your own lights, that you be second in the Family’s leadership.”

For one breath, incandescent rage slid through Xanxus’ veins, familiar and warm, and he hovered on the edge of calling his Flame, raw as his hands were, of finally killing the whole stinking lot of them. The old man wasn’t in any shape to stop him now. But that would mean an immediate fight with Sawada, with his father pitching in this time, and Xanxus wasn’t recovered enough yet, himself, to win that. He slumped back against the bed, utterly disgusted. Fine. Sawada was even more pathetic than the old man, but at least he could fight when he was driven. Best to wait, recover, let the old man die and get the hell out of the way so Xanxus and Sawada could have a proper fight with no interfering Cervello this time. “For now,” he said, staring at the ceiling again, and his mouth twisted into a crooked smile at the disgruntled shuffling from the other old men.

He wouldn’t lie. Let everyone else wrap themselves in fluffy dreams. He knew what the world was like. Only the best lived at their own will instead of someone else’s.

He would be the best.

End

A/N: I’ve used the Guardians from the Generations arc, because until and unless Amano coughs up some redeeming characterization, I refuse to imagine the Ninth with a passel of Guardians named after desserts.