I Said, You Said

Xanxus finally hears what Tsuna means when he says Xanxus is one of his Family. Drama with Fluff, I-3

Tsuna cast a quick eye over the parties pulled up to either side of the low table and stifled a sigh. Two houses alike in pigheadedness was how Gokudera put it, with a wry smile, and Tsuna could only agree.

Gamma was getting alarmingly affable, as he got to the end of his speech, too.

"So I’m sure you can see why our alliance feels a need to know how you knew that Genshiki was…" he paused, eyes turning hard over his friendly smile, "not of the same mind as the rest of us."

That was a delicate way to put "going to betray us". Tsuna laced his hands together and regarded them for a moment, fishing for the right words to start with. He didn’t think "well, you see, he did it in the future we went to over a decade ago" would quite work. He also didn’t know why Uni had left it to him to explain, when she knew the full story already—one of the few people in this new past-present who did. She was either being gracious, letting him decide what to reveal, or ruthless, forcing him to decide. With Uni it was hard to tell which sometimes.

The Girasol man stirred and leaned forward, frowning. "You have to see how suspicious this looks, when Vongola haven’t been able to deal permanently with a traitor in their own ranks." His eyes flicked to Xanxus, who had disdained a seat and was leaning against the wall instead.

Tsuna was aware of Xanxus slowly straightening, face dark, but only peripherally.

Most of his attention was taken up with the rush of fierce anger through his chest, the sharpening of his awareness and the first unfolding of his Flame.

"There are no traitors among the Vongola," he said, level as the edge of a razor and very soft, and the whole room froze around him. He didn’t take his eyes off the suddenly pale Girasol. "Xanxus is one of my Family, and it would not be wise for you to give me the idea you hold my Family in any contempt. At all."

"No, I… of course I didn’t mean…" the man stammered into silence and Tsuna inhaled slowly and looked back at Gamma.

"As for the rest of it, I suggest you talk to your own boss. It’s Uni’s place to decide what her Family should know, not mine."

"Hm." Gamma’s mouth twisted a bit, sardonic amusement and perhaps respect in the line of it. "True enough. All right, then."

There were some grumbles as he chivvied his delegation out the door, but not many, which was just as well. Tsuna silenced the more audible with a cold look after them. As the door closed he leaned back and made himself relax; it took a little while.

"Girasol is not on my Christmas card list this year," he announced, finally. Yamamoto laughed. Tsuna snorted and looked over at Xanxus. "You won’t …" he swallowed the do anything to them, right?, because Xanxus was still standing by the wall where he had straightened, staring at him in absolute confusion. "Xanxus?"

"Why did you do that?"

Tsuna blinked. "…do what?" He was aware of Gokudera choking down a laugh behind him but didn’t look away from Xanxus.

"That!" Xanxus waved at the closed door. "I’m not… you… why…" He finally slashed a hand through the air and turned away. "Never mind." He strode for the opposite door, pausing only once to glance back at Tsuna, uncertainty marking his face.

Gokudera leaned an elbow on the back of Tsuna’s chair and chuckled softly. "You sure have a way with people like that, boss."

Tsuna looked up at him, still faintly puzzled by Xanxus’ reaction. "Um?"

Gokudera smiled down at him, eyes soft. "Well, think about it from that poor idiot’s point of view. He starts out in the gutter. He didn’t belong and then he did, and then he got it totally knocked out from under him which must have been twice as bad… and just when he’s absolutely positive that he’s worthless and no one will ever give a damn about him, you defend him. In fact you threaten tentative allies for him." His smile tilted. "He’s probably still wondering if this is for real. When he decides it is…" He hesitated and turned a hand palm up. "Well, then we’ll see if you have another man everybody thought no one could tame."

Tsuna colored a little, a reaction he’d never grown out of. "Oh."

Yamamoto reached over and ruffled his hair, a gesture he’d never grown out of. "Don’t worry. He’ll come around."

Tsuna nodded slowly. He’d thought it was obvious that his strength was given to protect his Family, and Xanxus was part of that, but… given it was Xanxus maybe it needed a stronger demonstration.

"I can’t wait to see how it works out for him," Gokudera murmured as they left, mouth quirked.

Tsuna hadn’t exactly expected to enjoy dealing with the Pozzo Nero in person, but this was giving him a whole new definition of "not enjoying".

"I will not permit you to move drugs through our territory, or distribute them," he finally said, flatly, after two hours worth of less direct hints had failed.

"You’re not making use of any of that market yourselves," Grigio, the Pozzo Nero boss, said in a tone of strained reasonableness.

"That’s because I won’t have it here!" Tsuna snapped.

The man across from him sighed and sat back. "I see. I suppose I was afraid that might be your answer." His sudden calm made Tsuna tense. Grigio rose. "I’m sorry we couldn’t reach an agreement."

Tsuna was half expecting it when he stepped forward, hand darting under his jacket to pull a gun, and already had a hand up, Flame surging out, at Gokudera’s warning shout.

And then everything stopped, because Xanxus’ gun was pressed straight to Grigio’s forehead. His lips were pulled back in a hungry smile and his eyes had a feral glint. Tsuna was struck by the memory of another moment when Xanxus had shielded him, and spared a brief moment to hope the reasons were different this time.

As Tsuna eyed the slowly increasing tension of Xanxus’ finger on the trigger, he wondered if it wasn’t just that Xanxus had a good target in front of him at last.

"Hey…" Yamamoto started, light and easy, but Tsuna held up a hand. He didn’t think even Yamamoto’s good nature would defuse this. He thought about the spoken and unspoken promises he and Xanxus had made and took a slow breath.

"Thank you."

Xanxus started, eyes finally sliding away from his sweating target to blink at Tsuna. Tsuna smiled at him, and held his hand out. "Thank you," he said again, gently.

Xanxus stared at him for a long, blank moment before he finally glanced aside. "Yeah, fine, whatever." He flicked the barrel away from the Pozzo Nero and, before the man could straighten, slammed the butt into the side of his head instead. Grigio collapsed and Xanxus glared at the men who’d come with him, a hint of eagerness in his snarl. They all carefully took their hands out of their jackets. Xanxus snorted with disdain and stalked back to lean against the wall, arms crossed, watching them all with hooded eyes.

"You’re free to go," Tsuna told his visitors. "Do not," he added, voice turning cool, "come back."

They hustled their dazed boss out the door as quickly as Tsuna could have wished and he sat back with a sigh. He wanted a bath after that. He turned his head to give Xanxus another smile, this one weary. "Truly. Thank you."

Xanxus shrugged a shoulder, still not looking at him. "Hell, maybe they’ll come back, so I can kill them."

Tsuna’s mouth tightened, but… he had people to protect, here. "If they try," he agreed, quietly.

Xanxus pushed away from the wall and made for the door, only to pause with it half open and look back at Tsuna. He started to say something, stopped and shook his head. Finally he nodded to Tsuna, just a little, and strode out.

"He’s a tough nut to crack," Gokudera observed with a wry smile. "I’d have thought you’d have had him in hand by now."

"Oh, he is."

Tsuna blinked, because it was Yamamoto who had spoken, and he was watching the door Xanxus had gone through with a little quirk to his mouth.

Gokudera’s brows lifted. "You sure about that?"

"Oh yeah." Yamamoto looked back at them, smile back in place but distant. "Tsuna is his reason, now."

"You wanna translate that?" Gokudera drawled, arms crossed.

Yamamoto chuckled. "Well. Being good at something is… satisfying, you know? Sometimes you do what you’re good at just because of that. That’s how Xanxus used to be." He looked down at Tsuna, eyes dark. "But if there’s a bigger reason for fighting—to protect the Family, to serve you—then there’s real motivation. And real strength."

Tsuna looked up at him, knowing it wasn’t just Xanxus Yamamoto was talking about. "Yamamoto…"

"You’re such a sap sometimes," Gokudera put in, grinning.

"Hey, at least it’s only sometimes," Yamamoto shot back, looking innocent.

"You trying to say something?"

Tsuna smiled as they bantered, and tucked away the memory of the word Xanxus’ lips had half-formed, when he had turned back.