lysapadin: pen & ink painting of bamboo against a full moon (Default)
[personal profile] lysapadin
Title: Shoot It Out
Characters: Tsunako, Iemitsu, Bianchi
Summary: Sometimes it's satisfying to just put a hole, or ten, in something.
Notes: Part of Choice: The Betrothal Arc. Series Index. General audiences. 3006 words.

~~~~~~~~~~


Shoot It Out

Bianchi-san kept on telling her weird stories about the mafia and Reborn followed Tsunako around, crazy baby style, and neither of them seemed at all inclined to stop, no matter what she said to them. On top of that, neither Gokudera nor Yamamoto showed any signs of getting tired of meeting her before school to escort her through Namimori's streets, or of walking her home again after school, and were developing a distressing tendency to stick close during the day. It was disconcerting. Tsunako was used to spending her time by herself, not surrounded by people, but now the boys were around all the time and Kyouko-chan kept coming over during lunch to talk to her and it was sort of like having a social life.

Tsunako found it all very baffling.

After a week and a half of this, her father called her into his—well, it was like a study, she supposed, at least when he was around to use it. Usually it was more like a living room. "Hey, princess," he said, smiling as she hovered just inside the door. "Come in, sit down."

Tsunako obeyed, perching herself on the edge of the couch and waiting to see what he wanted.

Tousan was sitting forward, his elbows resting on his knees and a bunch of papers spread out on the coffee table in front of him. He was twiddling a pen between his fingers. "So," he began, after an awkward moment. "How are lessons with Reborn and the Poison Scorpion going?"

"What lessons?" Tsunako asked, confused. Tousan looked up at that, eyes narrowed. "She mostly just tells me stories about people who spend a lot of time shooting one another. And he hangs around being creepy. He shot me twice, you know."

"I suppose they must not seem very much like traditional lessons," Tousan allowed.

"What am I supposed to be learning, how to duck?"

She'd learned a long time ago that a person had to pay attention to the things Tousan didn't say, and how he didn't say them, in order to have even a hope of knowing what was really going on. Just now his mouth tightened and his eyes went—far away, almost angry. Then he smiled and shrugged. "You never know, princess."

Great. Whatever else that meant, learning how to duck probably did need to be on her priority list. Tsunako sighed.

Her father waited a beat, probably for her to say something else, and then cleared his throat when she didn't. "Anyway. Was there anything you wanted to ask about? Or talk about, maybe?"

Tsunako thought about it: she could ask him about how crazy everyone around her had gone, whether he realized what he'd saddled her with. Or ask him about this guy she was supposed to be marrying who was studying in Antarctica (yeah, right, what was the real story there, and would anyone tell it to her if she asked?), or why Tousan was going along with all this. Or she could tell him about how strange school was without Yuuko or Sakura around, how weird it was to have people around all the time who were apparently interested in her, but not in a bad way.

While she was considering all the things she had to say, Tousan added, "I wanted to have a talk with you before I headed back to work, you see?"

"You're leaving?" She didn't know why she was surprised; his visits never lasted long.

He sighed. "Yeah. I shouldn't have been gone for this long, really." He smiled then. "But I wanted to make sure you got good and settled with Reborn and the Poison Scorpion first."

"Yeah, I'm getting settled," Tsunako said, dismissing all the other things she might have told him. No point in it, really. "When are you going?"

"Tomorrow, princess." Tousan shook his head and put his pen down. "It's hard being away from the two of you so much." Tsunako didn't say anything to that—what was there to say?—and after a moment's silence he went on. "Anyway, I just wanted to tell you… if you need anything, princess, just let me know and daddy will move heaven and earth to make it happen."

Tsunako smiled for him, since that seemed to be what he wanted. "I will, Tousan," she promised, because promises were easy to make.

He smiled, obviously relieved, and opened his arms. "Come here and give me a hug, princess."

Tsunako did and went out as soon as it seemed decent. She had homework to do, she reminded herself, and went up to her room. Bianchi-san was there; she'd just about taken up residence at Tsunako's kotatsu. She looked up, smiling, from her magazine as Tsunako came in, but her smile fell away almost immediately. "Something wrong?"

Oh. Oops. Tsunako smiled at her and waved a hand vaguely. "Oh. Was just talking to Tousan. He's, um. Leaving tomorrow. Nothing wrong, really."

Bianchi-san looked at her, long and steady, until Tsunako had to look away from her. She turned to her desk and sat down; as she did, Bianchi-san asked, "Are you okay?"

"Sure, I'm fine. I was. Just." She bent over, letting the hair fall around her face, and motioned at her bookbag. "Going to work on some homework now."

"Mm." Bianchi-san unfolded herself from her seat, rising to her feet, making the movement look easy. Graceful. It wasn't fair; Tsunako'd had years to work on that skill and still hadn't managed it yet. "Let's go out," she said. "There's something I've been meaning to show you."

It would be something to do with the mafia, no doubt. The thought made her tired. "But. My homework?"

"It can wait." Bianchi-san smiled at her. "Come on."

On the one hand, she didn't really care about anything to do with the mafia right now. On the other hand, she didn't want to do homework either, and it wasn't like it could be any worse than the things Reborn had managed to accomplish. Tsunako wavered for a moment and surrendered, since at least it promised distraction. "Sure," she said. "Why not?"

Reborn and Bianchi-san hadn't been in town for very long, but Bianchi-san led her along Namimori's streets, making a beeline out of town with remarkable accuracy. She didn't stop till they were in the countryside, ignoring Tsunako's increasingly more doubtful looks as she led Tsunako off the main road and into a wooded area. "What are we doing?" she asked when Bianchi-san came to a halt in a wooded ravine.

"One of the things you'll need to know is how to shoot." Bianchi-san announced it like it was a mere commonplace, not completely insane. Then she reached into her handbag and produced a gun; Tsunako took a prudent step back and kept a wary eye on her. "Today seems like a good day to start those lessons. Come here."

Tsunako hung back, eyeing the way Bianchi-san's hands folded around the gun, slender and casual. "I don't know if I want to learn how to shoot."

"It's not really a matter of what you want." Bianchi-san looked at her, perfectly level and serious. "You need to know. This is about being able to protect yourself. You remember what I told you about what happened to Carlo Orsini?" Tsunako blinked, but after a moment she remembered the story that went with that name—the young man separated from his bodyguards who'd still managed to kill most of his enemies before they'd gotten him. "That could be you." Bianchi-san paused to sniff. "Of course, you'll be trained well enough that you'll survive. The Orsini tend to be sloppy."

"Don't I get to choose anything anymore?" Tsunako surprised even herself, a little, with how bitterly it came out.

"Not a lot." When Tsunako blinked at her, she saw that Bianchi-san's mouth was twisted in a funny way. "It's true. They may want to tell you that you're important, but what that means is that you're valuable, long as you do what you're supposed to. Sometimes it's possible to find ways of turning that to your own ends, but to do that, you've got to keep a sharp eye out and be prepared to take what chances come your way." Bianchi-san smiled then. "Which is my job right now. I'm going to make sure you're ready."

Something fluttered in Tsunako's chest; she didn't know what to name it. "Why?" she asked.

Bianchi-san's smile faded away. "It's a long story. Boils down to this: I managed to get out. You probably can't, but I like you, so." She shrugged. "I'll do what I can."

"You got out?" Tsunako asked, not knowing how to handle the rest of that, not yet.

"Mm. Yeah." Bianchi-san looked away, like she was being casual about it. "It really is a long story. Some of it isn't mine to tell. Comes down to the fact that my father's the head of his Family and I used to be in a position—not too far off where you are. Only legitimate child and a girl and so forth. But then my mother died and he remarried and I got the hell out of there. Went hitman, which. Wasn't easy but was better than some of the alternatives."

"I thought Gokudera was your brother…?" Tsunako stopped, because Bianchi-san had said only legitimate child and had already mentioned the different mothers thing. And she wasn't sure, but she didn't think Bianchi-san was that much older than she was. "Oh."

Bianchi-san shrugged again. "Yeah. Some ways, he's had it a lot worse. But that's his story, though. Maybe he'll tell it to you sometime, if you ask him." She shook her head, clearly setting all that aside. "Anyway, whatever you end up making of yourself and the place the Vongola have put you, you need to be able to handle a gun. No one's going to stop and ask you whether you're a pacifist before they start shooting, that much is for sure. And you're Vongola, so they'll start shooting eventually."

Tsunako eyed her and the gun, snub-nosed and dark in Bianchi-san's hands. "You do realize that I'm a complete klutz, right?" She didn't come any closer. "You try to teach me to shoot and I'll end up killing us both."

"You're not as clumsy as you think you are." Bianchi-san gestured her closer, even when Tsunako stared at her, trying to figure out whether she'd lost her mind (or had gone crazier, since maybe she'd never been sane to start with). "Oh, don't give me that look, I've been watching you. I think I know what I'm talking about. Come here already, we're burning daylight."

"Don't say I didn't warn you," Tsunako sighed and edged closer.

Bianchi-san just snorted and started talking the second Tsunako was close enough to see what she was doing, pointing out the slide and the safety and the clip and how to rack a bullet in the chamber and how to change the clip. She made Tsunako run through it several times before she was satisfied. "Never point a gun at anyone if you don't mean to shoot them," she said. "Never assume that a gun is unloaded. Keep those two rules in mind and you'll be better off than ninety percent of the young idiots you'll run into. Got it?"

Tsunako nodded, palms sweating around the grip of the gun, which she was doing her best to keep pointed away from either of them.

Bianchi-san smirked. "Good. Now let's shoot something." She took the gun out of Tsunako's hands, checked the clip and chambered a round in one smooth movement before she brought the gun up and squeezed the trigger. The crack of the shot was loud. Tsunako jumped at it, startled, as Bianchi pulled the trigger again, and again. She was firing down the length of the ravine, aiming at a tree a little way down from them and hitting it, as far as Tsunako could tell. "The thing to remember is to keep your hands steady and look at what you want to hit," Bianchi-san said as she thumbed the safety and lowered the gun again. "Sometimes people start out trying to see where the gun is pointing, which doesn't work so well. You want to look through the sights at your target. Come here, let's see you try."

Tsunako squeaked and scrubbed her sweating palms against her jeans when Bianchi-san held out the gun to her. "Are you sure about this?" she asked.

Bianchi-san just snorted and stepped around behind her, putting her arms around Tsunako's shoulders. "Relax," she said. "It's going to be fine. Here." She nudged a leg against the backs of Tsunako's, coaxing her feet wider and getting her to flex her knees a little. "Here, hold it like this." She wrapped her fingers around Tsunako's, fitting them around the grip. "Now, look at the tree." Her voice was soft against Tsunako's ear, soothing. "Find the place on the trunk that you want to shoot. Focus on it." Tsunako did, picking a patch halfway up the trunk that was lighter than the rest, studying it. "Now keep your eyes on that spot and bring the gun up—yeah, just like that. Line the sights up with that spot you're looking at." Whatever that meant, Tsunako thought, trying to keep her eyes on that light-colored splotch and bring the sights in line with it. The gun felt heavy, especially held out at arms-length like this. "Okay, now find the trigger… good," Bianchi-san said as Tsunako curled her finger around it. "Slide your thumb up to the safety… there, thumb it off, good." Her voice was warm, practically soothing, even with the way Tsunako's heart was pounding. "Now. Pull the trigger."

Tsunako swallowed hard and did; the crack of the shot and the way the gun shuddered in her hands make her squeak and shut her eyes. "Did I hit it?"

"Well, you hit something." Bianchi-san sounded amused. "What were you aiming for?"

"That, um. Light-colored spot?" Tsunako ventured, opening her eyes again. "About halfway up the trunk?" She'd probably hit something else entirely. A rock, maybe.

"Huh, no kidding." Bianchi-san hummed something between her teeth. "Let's see if you can hit it again."

Tsunako blinked. "I actually hit it?"

"Mmhm, I'm pretty sure you did." Bianchi-san nudged her knee against Tsunako's. "Come on, let's see you do it again." Tsunako took a deep breath, picking out her target. "Whenever you're ready."

Tsunako bit her lip and squeezed the trigger. This time the recoil wasn't so surprising, though the noise still made her flinch.

"Same target?" Bianchi-san asked her.

"Uh-huh." Tsunako squinted down the ravine, wondering how she was supposed to be able to tell if she'd hit it.

"Make it three for three," Bianchi-san commanded.

"Okay, I'll try." Tsunako chewed on her lower lip, lining up the shot again, staring at the lighter patch of bark, and shot again.

"Hm…" Bianchi-san stepped back; the sudden absence of her arms around Tsunako was startling. "Okay, see if you can do it all by yourself."

Tsunako squeaked, especially since the gun seemed even heavier without Bianchi-san's support. "But—"

"Just give it a try," Bianchi-san said when Tsunako glanced over her shoulder. "You're already three for three." Her smile was encouraging.

Tsunako took a deep breath and looked back at the tree. She'd already done it three times, so… maybe a fourth time wasn't completely impossible. She took a deep breath and steadied the gun, taking careful aim and pulling the trigger again.

"One more time," Bianchi-san said, almost before the sound of the shot had died away. Tsunako blinked, wondering what that meant, but obeyed, firing again—and again, when Bianchi-san told her to, until she pulled the trigger and only got a click and her wrists ached a little with the weight. "Now, the safety." Tsunako thumbed it back into place and lowered the gun, careful to make sure she was pointing it down and away from them both. When she turned around, she saw that Bianchi-san was smiling. "I think you're going to be good at this, kiddo."

Tsunako stared at her. "I—what?"

Bianchi-san reached over and ruffled her hair. "You're going to be good," she said, still smiling. "You hit your target with every shot. You've got a knack for this."

"I don't… you're kidding, right?" Tsunako asked, trying to reconcile what Bianchi-san was saying with reality as she understood it. "I really… I actually did hit it?"

"Here, give me that and we'll go look." Bianchi-san reached out and took the gun out of Tsunako's unresisting grip before setting her hand on Tsunako's shoulders and propelling her down the ravine. When they got down to the tree, Bianchi-san pointed at the pitted, cratered expanse of bark, counting off the ragged pattern of holes. "Thirteen holes," she said. "Thirteen bullets, thirteen shots. Three of them were mine, sure, but the rest—those are all yours, kiddo."

Tsunako stared at the straggling line of holes, not at all sure how she felt about that. "I—really, I did that?"

"Yep." Bianchi-san squeezed her shoulder. "On your first try. That's pretty impressive, I'm just saying. Not many people could do that. I can't wait to see what you'll be able to do once you get some real practice in."

Tsunako looked at her, but—no, really, Bianchi-san seemed to mean it. "You think I could be. Um. Good?"

"I think you could be great." Bianchi-san's smile was all confidence. She squeezed Tsunako's shoulder again as Tsunako contemplated the thought of being great at something. "Think you could do another clip?"

Tsunako smiled, feeling unaccountably shy. "Can we?"

"Sure," Bianchi-san said, easy. "Come on, let's see what else you can do."

Tsunako followed her back down the ravine, and it wasn't until much later that she realized that she'd forgotten all about her father, and by then she had other things to think about anyway.

end

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