If anyone would have bothered to ask Xanxus whether he would consider doing anyone from the Vongola Decimo's Family a favor the day before he would have laughed maniacally in their faces, pulled out his guns and blasted their brains to smithereens… before burning it up to an unrecognizable crisp, of course. As it was he would still do it if he were inclined to admit it. However, when said Family member was an Arcobaleno and a powerful being to boot, even someone like him would reconsider. Especially since Reborn had already dodged his flame bullets earlier when the pint sized hitman first made the request.
And no one bothered to ask him what the hell he thought anyway.
So he sat there in his grand chair, poised in a gesture of brooding as he stared at the suited toddler whose fedora was hiding his beady black eyes. However, as much as he wanted to murder the little Mafioso, his attention was continuously being pulled by the young woman standing quietly and serenely a few steps behind the child hitman.
All the leading officers of the elite assassination squad Varia glared silently as their illusionist floated across the glittering Varia headquarter's floor towards Reborn without even so much as a glance at any of them. It wasn't the lack of acknowledgement that had them looking towards the small psychic Arcobaleno in contempt, however— God knew acknowledgement between any of them only ended up in property decimation and a lot of noise— it was the fact that Mammon was actually taking interest in the familiar feminine figure who was not supposed to be in the halls of the Varia at all.
Someone who was supposed to only exist in the world of light surrounding the Tenth Vongola.
Someone who wore the Mist Ring.
Someone named Chrome Dokuro.
Her heels stood smartly against the polished floor and her long, slender legs bore the weight of their hate filled gazes effortlessly under a smart, ankle length black skirt that fell beautifully over her form. Her ever present trident was folded in until it was no more than 3 feet long and hung across her back like an accessory, belying the lives it had taken and the minds that it broke. It could only barely be hidden by the mid back long hair that hung in a neat fall over her shoulders.
None of them really knew her personally other than the fact that of all the Vongola guardians of the now 24 year old Vongola Decimo she was the least spoken about. As though her presence was just as insignificant as the Mist she represented. She didn't acknowledge any of them, merely stared at the floor as she bore their stares in silence. It was as though she were a puppet that had a numb look in her eyes led thru strings by the hitman home tutor. The silence was thick and tense and it was getting more and more than obvious she was not going to be the one to break it.
Reborn, however, had no such qualms. "So that is that; I'll be leaving Chrome here under your care as your illusionist since Viper won't be here due to the investigation we are going to do to free ourselves of the Arcobaleno curse."
The words were like an invitation for the entire too shocked into silence Varia squad to finally break into the conversation led by Squalo. "VOI! WHAT THE HELL IS THE MEANING OF THIS? WHAT DO YOU MEAN WE GOTTA TAKE THAT BRAT INTO THE VARIA?"
Mammon looked over to his fellow illusionist with something akin to curiosity before his gaze turned over to his fellow Arcobaleno managing to ignore his second in command's question. "Well I guess... as long as I don't have to pay up for anything, it's fine."
"WHY, YOU LITTLE—"
Mammon ignored this and turned towards the Varia boss before he started talking. "I'm going to take my leave for a few weeks I don't know when I'll be back; trust me, you'll need an illusionist on missions or half of you will end up dead every time you come back from one."
Belphegor, who was busy ogling Chrome, grinned sadistically. "Ushishishi… how long is a few weeks?"
"It's Arcobaleno business," Mammon told him without missing a beat already annoyed with the youngest Varia officer. "I'm not really sure. The Boss already knew I had to leave."
All the Varia members stared at the scowling Xanxus whose mood was steadily getting darker the longer this conversation dragged on.
Squalo spoke for him. "VOI, WHATEVER XANXUS MEANT I'M SURE HE DIDN'T MEAN WE HAVE TO TAKE IN ONE OF THE VONGOLA BRATS IN HERE!"
"Think about it," Reborn waved him off flippantly. "No matter how you look at it, with Chrome here you'd be in a win-win situation. You'd have an in house illusionist and you can get back at Tsuna. Do you guys think it's easy to acquire her away from Tsuna's service?"
This finally aroused Xanxus' interest. "What do you mean?"
Reborn smirked while Viper glowered at him from the corner of his eye. Trust the hitman to know exactly how to push someone's buttons to get what he wanted. "She may not look like it and it may not be common knowledge but Chrome is a very important member of the Vongola. Tsuna would die to keep her by his side. If she starts working under your command that No-Good Tsuna would be miserable; especially if you spring this situation on him unexpectedly. Right now all he knows is that I am taking Chrome on a special mission. No more, no less."
Xanxus considered the female illusionist. He had been given the impression that the Mist guardian was almost non existent in the functions of the Mafia community. Her presence was dim and covered by the very Sky she was supposed to be protecting. Alongside the other guardians she was merely a wraith that had no substance, no body and barely even a presence. Shadowed even by those two females Sawada calls his women.
How could this little girl possibly be important to that Sawada kid and be known as part of the elite ranks that made up the Vongola Decimo's power house?
So what was it about her? He couldn't help his curiosity and the fact that this was going to hurt Sawada was like the grand icing on the cake. So how could it hurt?
"VRAAAITTTT! XANXUS, WHAT THE FUCK?"
"Oh my~" Lussuria chuckled.
"This has got to be a joke!" Levi yelled, gripping his afro in a death grip. "This is a plot to seduce Xanxus-sama!"
If Xanxus weren't so curious himself, he would have blown the Lightning guardian to bits; in any case, he could do that later.
"Take good care of her, Xanxus, and make sure you don't tell Tsuna where she is unless you're prepared to lose her early," Reborn flashed a cool look at him that made the Varia boss to mentally sit up a little straighter and take notice. "And if I find you've hurt one hair on her head intentionally I will hunt you down."
"Ushishishi…" Belphegor slid a pair of knives from his stash at the threat. "You've got guts, baby; what's wrong with cutting her a slice or two?"
The look Reborn gave the self proclaimed prince had enough killing intent for the blond to release his hold on both his grin and his weapons. Satisfied, the infant hitman turned to walk away. "You've been warned."
Xanxus observed Reborn as he began to pass the still motionless woman who had refused to meet anyone's eyes since she entered the room. As he did he saw Reborn's lips move the moment he was beside the Mist guardian.
"I'm sorry." The little Mafioso said before he continued walking out of the room.
What was surprising was the sad softening of Chrome's face at these words before replying in the same vein. "…I know."
Viper floated in front of her, marking the first time she had acknowledged anybody in the room aside from Reborn when he strictly called for her attention. "Here."
He handed her a piece of paper of what seemed to be a list before forming a small ball of light of what seemed to be a holographic crystal ball that had images of the Varia hallways floating around it. "These are all the chores and obligations I fill in for around the castle and this illusion you'll have to copy off my mind; it's a map of the headquarters and it'll disappear once it feels you're able to move around the place without being a burden to anyone. Make sure you stay alive by the time I return or Reborn will drown me in fees. Got it?"
She reached out towards the illusionary crystal ball first and seemed to absorb it through her fingertips until it faded off of Viper's hands before reaching for the list and started skimming the contents with eyes the color of bruised violets. And then she crumpled it up and nodded.
Viper stared at her for what seemed to be one long minute more before shuffling over to the double doors following Reborn's already disappearing form.
And then there was silence. In the Varia council room stood Squalo shaking in rage for a maximum of five seconds before he exploded. "WHAT THE HELL IS THE MEANING OF THIS?"
"I won't accept it, I won't!" Levi cried out, pulling at his afro. "This is utterly unacceptable!"
"Ushishishishi, it doesn't look like it matters now, the Boss already consented to it." Bel laughed as he eyed Chrome maliciously but frowned when she continued to display more interest to the floor.
As thought the floor was more worthy of her attention than the people who was honestly threatening her life now that her only protector was gone.
Xanxus kept on frowning at the woman, hating her for her weakness, for the lack of energy he had expected and counted on in his Varia. But if the baby was right taking her in albeit temporarily under his wing would deal Sawada a hard blow. Speaking of which wasn't the brat's birthday coming up soon? Without a doubt he would receive an invitation and, perhaps, just this once, he would go. Just to stir things up.
A sadistic light came into his eyes at the very thought. Something Squalo noticed and frowned at before mentally wincing. That little gleam in his boss' crimson eyes boded no good for the person it was directed to and since he did not seem to be staring at Dokuro then it may be directed at Reborn's words. Everyone knew Xanxus lived to torture and drive the 10th Vongola crazy.
His frown deepened at the sight of the Dokuro woman. She was exquisite, as usual what with her flowing purple hair, porcelain skin that looked almost too cold to touch. An eye the color of a bruised violet and lips the color of newly bloomed pink tulips. The presence of her trident made her all the more dangerous and alluring; a captivating contrast to the fragility her shapely frame announced.
An angler fish who lured its prey by her light and killed it with her fangs once they were caught.
If Ranking Fuuta was to be believed, Chrome Dokuro was Top Three among the most desirable women who fought in the Mafia but this is where information about her ended. Mammon never seemed interested in getting information about her and all they knew about her was that she was the vessel of the criminal Rokudo Mukuro. The Varia, ever blinded by those they considered strong bypassed her presence as insignificant for her more powerful counterpart thus pushing a cloud of impenetrable mist over her person. Even their memories of the incident with the Trinisette ten years later from when she was no more than 13 when they were all younger only provided her with minimum importance.
If Tsunayoshi didn't like letting such a weakling out of his sight, it may be just because he was obligated to protect the weak but from Reborn's words it seemed something a little bit more complicated was going on in the Decimo's camp.
There was something really strange going on here.
Maybe he should drop the Bronco a line.
"Well, what are you standing there for?" Xanxus suddenly asked her coldly, obviously done with his contemplations. "Get out of my sight."
Squalo thought she was going to cry or scream or do whatever a minion did best when faced with the impending wrath of the Varia boss.
Run to the edges of eternity.
But as to be expected from any of Tsuna's Guardians she held herself properly and poised and still with that relatively blank look on her face that Squalo found he did not like at all. He couldn't understand what she was thinking.
"As you wish, Xanxus-sama." She bowed her head slightly before turning on her heel to start walking away, not bothering to ask for any sort of duties or any other information from them.
Not needing them at all.
Her soft, solid voice made something vibrate inside Xanxus and it made him sit up a little straighter, watch her a little more closer all of a sudden, wondering what made him so suddenly, achingly conscious of her. And then it hit him. This was the first time he had ever heard her say his name.
"Hey, I'll show you to your room!" Lussuria offered as he began to step forward, intrigued at the possibility of a female guest he could play with.
Squalo scowled at the peacock wondering how he would take Chrome to her non existent room since it was obvious that Reborn had taken them all by surprise with this visit.
"No thank you," her voice trailed after her like a ribbon in the wind. "I will manage."
And without another word she pushed the double doors that led to the room open and stepped outside. Then, after another short, formal bow, she closed them back again leaving Xanxus and his squad to watch her go.
"The fuck…?" Squalo could only manage as he glanced at the shell shocked face his boss wore.
"Boss, are you alright?" Levi was kneeling at his side, crying his eyes out. "Did that witch do anything to you when you caught her evil eye?"
"Ushishi~ quit that, Levi, we could all see how you were drooling over her the moment she walked through that door," Bel laughed mockingly. "Although I can't say I can blame you. She was quite lovely with that cut up expression on her face trying not to care she was being thrown here with us."
"Shut up, Bel!"
"What, you wanna fight?"
"Ohhh~ do you mind if I get in between~? Why don't we join in, Squ-chan?"
"YOU TOUCH ME WITH THOSE PERVERTED HANDS OF YOURS, PEACOCK, AND I SWEAR I WILL CUT YOU THE FUCK UP!"
"Shut up, scumbags." As usual, Xanxus' powerful voice brooked no disobedience and all felt silent again. "Let her do what she wants; I'll let her stay until that brat Sawada Tsunayoshi's 25th birthday and then I'll test what that Arcobaleno was saying."
"Are you sure about this boss?" Levi gasped, astonished at the magnanimity hidden in those words. "She might be a spy sent here by the Decimo to try and take you down!"
"Then that would be stupid of her," Xanxus reached for the glass of tequila he had been enjoying before Reborn was escorted in by his officers. "Because that would be the last thing she would ever do. Squalo."
"I don't think I need to tell you what to do at this point."
The shark smirked. "Of course; I'll be dropping that stupid Dino a line later."
"Hn, now all of you, get out of my sight."
And the rest of them walked out of the room with swift strides, unwilling to bear the brunt of their boss' anger. It proved to be the wisest thing to do since Xanxus didn't want anyone to witness how he was brooding over his reaction to that scumbitch calling out his name. It sparked some sort of vibrating need for him to hear it said like that again.
It didn't matter; she would have to be an idiot to try anything under his nose. He would ignore her as though she was never really in the castle at all; Squalo would know what to do with her, after all and she knew what to do as Mammon's replacement. Yes. All she was was a tool he was going to use to piss off Tsunayoshi.
He chuckled deeply, already imagining the look on the Decimo's face when the time came.
He couldn't wait…
"Hey, chibi. Is this the solution you were talking about on the phone?"
Reborn held onto the edge of his fedora before answering his psychic counterpart even as he rode on Leon who transformed into a paper airplane and Phantasma levitated Viper beside him. "Just call it convenient and be thankful."
"…This is like throwing her in with the wolves," Mammon commented after another subtle glance back at the Varia Headquarters they just left behind. "I may not care what happens to her on a personal level but Varia is not a place for her kind."
Reborn almost sighed. "I have no other choice."
"…So it really is that serious?" Viper asked after a while, wondering how he would profit from this confirmation to the information he had gathered.
Reborn remained unsurprised that his fellow Arcobaleno knew what was going on behind the Vongola Decimo's ranks. Viper was the Varia's Head of Intelligence, after all. "How much does the rest of the Varia know?"
"Nothing," the illusionist shrugged. "Why should I give them any information for free?"
At that, Reborn smirked at the esper's predictability. "In any case, if I know anything about Xanxus, I'm sure he'll find out sooner or later; probably on Tsuna's birthday."
The hitman laughed at the crestfallen look on Viper's face. "Mu! You just cost me an opportunity to make money; how dare you, Reborn?"
"Does it really matter? You won't be able to make money off it right now since we both won't be there in time for that fiasco to blow out of proportion." He shrugged.
The Arcobaleno of the Mist sighed as he continued to fly beside the home tutor. "Yes. Removing the curse should always take priority."
Chrome's presence was easily ignored.
She was commissioned a cat suit version of the Varia uniform Squalo wore, lovingly embracing her beautiful body like a lover; the slight difference was that along the fur lined hood came a fur lined black cloak that concealed her form in its voluminous folds which was just as well. Squalo knew it would be a hell of a lot harder getting his minions to obey him if they started salivating after her like dogs in heat. And if the headquarters became even slightly disorganized, Xanxus would have his head served on a platter for dinner while he ate roast beef beside it.
He thanked all the gods that Chrome was also an unassuming person; preferring to keep to herself and rarely roamed around the castle. If she did roam around the shark was pleased to note that she did so with her illusions tightly hiding her from the Varia henchmen who had already been gossiping about Marmon's replacement and wondering if it were true. Of course, Squalo dealt with such insubordination with immediate punishment, making sure they were unable to walk for a few days or so.
Despite all this he couldn't help but be curious about her as well. It had been a week and yet they didn't even know where the woman was sleeping.
She wasn't in any of the guest bedrooms; she wasn't in Marmon's rooms and she most definitely was not bunking in the barracks along with the other scum. They would see her slip in and out of the kitchen for meals sometimes making sure she never had an excuse to join the officers and the boss for meals although it would have been her right to do so; or catch a glimpse of her illusion hidden body from a distance. Lussuria had tried to catch her but he had yet to be successful. Belphegor, wanting her to wear some sort of ridiculous hat that looked suspiciously like the one he made Fran wear when he stepped in as Marmon's replacement during the war with Millefiore was disappointed and baffled with his failure to catch her outside of meetings. Levi denounced her loudly and harshly despite the perverted thoughts that were probably running in his head and Xanxus was… well Xanxus. Locked in his office assembling pistols and guns or running through their supply of Mexican tequila. He sometimes wondered if their boss remembered they even had a guest.
However, little things that they couldn't help but notice occurred around them, ones that only an officer like him would know.
Normally, Mammon would ignore any sort of chore he was not being paid for which; in his case; was anything and everything outside intel gathering. Paperwork and the small things like groceries and supplies were something that Squalo or Lussuria had to handle personally. Belphegor wouldn't know how to handle paperwork if it bit him in the ass colored itself pink and sang him a song. Levi was too busy fawning over Xanxus to be even bothered outside their boss' direct orders and Xanxus couldn't be bothered by paperwork since God knows he didn't have the patience for it unless it required his personal attention so the shark needed to be thoroughly careful as to what he showed Xanxus or not.
But ever since she came around he would find most of his paperwork done and ready; the supplies all complete and replenished. Even the sheets and the covers for every bedroom have become fresh every week now as opposed to the housekeeping they hired every other month or so. In fact, the only strangeness he had seen was a receipt and a list of computer parts he couldn't make heads or tails of but had a letter attached saying she was asking permission to 'spruce up security', whatever the hell that meant. Life was the same and yet it wasn't because of her. It was like she had become a strange afterthought in their lives but was slowly becoming a great convenience because Squalo was no fool. He knew she was behind all the support that was making his job easier and it frustrated him that she wasn't acting like a Varia minion and showing off her physical abilities. The Varia just didn't work that way. They would never care or respect her just because she was good in bureaucracy and a great pencil pusher. Was this the reason why Reborn said she had become indispensable to Sawada?
Also, his conversation with the Bucking Horse had been… strange.
The usually straightforward and easy going Cavallione don had been skittish throughout Squalo's inquiry about Chrome Dokuro. It was as though there was something he was avoiding saying. And then the bastard cut the line off him and he wasn't able to contact him ever since.
It irritated him that this small errand he was doing for Xanxus was now starting to become a major obsession to him. Squalo hated mysteries as a rule. He was a fairly straightforward guy that liked things easily read and done. In many instances he supposed he was like a sword himself.
He sees sword, he picks up sword. He sees enemy; he kills enemy. If they try to beg for mercy, he smirks, spits at them, and then slashes them through quickly.
Clean and simple and only slightly messy.
But this whole mystery with the fucking Mist Guardian was making him extremely tempted to break the obvious status quo she had erected between her and the rest of the Varia and demand answers. Except that would be stupid of him since that would also risk a change in the balance she was trying so hard not to upset and something he was silently grateful for.
But what was he going to tell Xanxus? That fucked up boss of his may be lazy as hell but he was not forgetful and he had begun to catch his crimson eyes narrowing at the glaringly empty spot where Marmon was supposed to sit. Where Chrome Dokuro was supposed to be. Damned bitch. Even with her trying to be invisible she was still trouble.
Squalo rubbed his face with a palm harshly and strode over towards his balcony to partake of the cold night air. He had taken off his coat, jacket and shirt earlier so now all he had on were his leather pants and a white wife beater that pulled at every available muscle it covered so he could feel his hair tickling his arms as he broke himself a can of beer, contemplating his dilemma. He really didn't know how to handle this problem and mentally reminded himself that this was the reason why they didn't have women in the Varia.
He sighed as he took a swig of the cold beverage, allowing himself to finally relax. It had been a long day and apart from his investigations he still needed to take his turn training the recruits. He watched as the guards milled around the castle making sure everything was safe and secure. He scowled down at their attentive behaviors and alert stances, proud that he had been able to drill some sort of skill in their thick skulls.
Satisfied that the headquarters was well fortified, the Varia Rain Guardian chugged down the last of his beer and then turned in to sleep.
"Commander, Squad 03 has successfully infiltrated Varia headquarters, over."
"Very good," a man holding out a gun which looked similar to a bayonet smirked into his earpiece. "How about Squads 4 through 8?"
"Affirmative, we are currently inside Varia walls; your orders, sir?" answered a disembodied male voice through the communicator.
"Begin the hunt," the Commander; a large, rough looking man who seemed to be in his 40s replied, a grim look on his face that could rival any marine in existence. The high tech looking swat uniform he and his men wore blended perfectly in the dark of the forests surrounding the Varia headquarters and with the state of the art stealth equipment installed into their Kevlar vests it would be nigh on impossible for the enemy to spot them until it was too late. "Find the target. I want Xanxus dead."