Several days passed, and Tsuna found herself swamped with stuff to do and learn. During the day she attended school, and after school she was stuck in dance classes with Mukuro. Mukuro was the only one of the guardians who knew how to dance and was skilled enough to teach her. It was day three of her lessons, with only three days left before the party. Walking through the school halls, heading to the assembly hall that they were using, she stopped when she heard a loud commotion outside. Stopping, she ran to the window and peered out to see the cause. Gasping, she saw a group of thugs surrounding Ryohei Sasagawa. She immediately stopped thinking, running to the door and ripping it open. She took off in a sprint to them, seeing Ryohei was shielding Kyoko from the thugs. Tsuna’s mind clouded over in a blind rage as she dashed in the middle, stepping in front of Ryohei and throwing her arms out, creating a shield.
“What do you think you’re doing!?” Tsuna exclaimed, narrowing her eyes in a glare. One of the five thugs glared back while the others smirked, laughing to themselves.
“What do you want missy? Leave, can’t you see we’re busy?” the thug commanded, but Tsuna dug her heels into the ground.
“No I won’t! What do you want with Ryohei and Kyoko anyway?!” Tsuna yelled back, still panting a little from having run so quickly. The head thug gave a confused look, then began laughing.
“You’ve got to be kidding me! You’re that weak you have to have a girl protecting you!?” he exclaimed, making a dig at Ryohei. Tsuna growled, glancing out the corner of her eye to see Ryohei holding Kyoko in his arms tightly, shielding her. He growled as well, glaring darkly at the thugs.
“Tsuna… I’m sorry about this…” Ryohei whispered in an apology. Tsuna’s eyes widened in shock, before she quickly shook it off, glaring at the thugs again.
“Mind explaining what this is all about?” Tsuna asked everyone, including Ryohei and Kyoko into the question. Kyoko looked up from Ryohei’s shoulder, trembling as she looked at Tsuna.
“It’s my fault… I’m so sorry Tsuna… They approached me and I panicked. Big Brother saw and came to help me, but now things just keep getting worse…” Kyoko apologized, her eyes brimming with tears. Tsuna listened carefully, then turned to glare back at the thugs. She needed to find a way to settle this properly without violence, otherwise they could all get into trouble.
“Tsuna!? Ryohei!? Kyoko!?” exclaimed a familiar voice nearby, making all heads turn to look. Yamamoto and Gokudera were standing nearby, looking at the scene in shock.
“Boss!” Gokudera yelled, both of them running to the group. Tsuna’s eyes widened, seeing the thugs looking agitated.
“Stay back!” Tsuna ordered, making them stop a few metres away, looking at her in confusion.
“But Boss! They’re threatening you!” Gokudera questioned, earning a glare from Tsuna. She returned to looking at the thugs, who were still glaring at her.
“How’re you going to compensate for this, missy?!” the head thug declared, glaring darkly at Tsuna. Tsuna frowned, thinking for a little before she turned to look at Kyoko. Kyoko looked at her, tears still in the corner of her eyes. Turning back, she took a deep breath.
“What did you want with Kyoko anyway?” Tsuna asked, seeing the other thugs begin laughing. Narrowing her eyes, she wondered what was so funny about her question.
“That’s for us to know. Now, how’re you going to fix this?” the head thug questioned, a small smirk forming on his face. Tsuna couldn’t think of a better option. Letting out a sigh, she let her shoulders slack, looking at them calmly.
“How about a challenge? If we win, you leave us alone from now on. If you win, I’ll take Kyoko’s place” Tsuna offered, earning gasps from her friends as the thugs looked at each other, debating the idea.
“No Tsuna!” Kyoko exclaimed, the tears falling down her face as Ryohei held her back now. The thugs turned to smirk back at Tsuna, chuckling.
“What’s the challenge?” the thug asked, his smirk only growing. Tsuna glanced around, needing an idea for a challenge. She wasn’t very good at anything physical, but at this rate it was all she could do. Spotting an ash vault court in the distance, she pointed to it.
“I challenge you to a five on five basketball game” Tsuna declared, glaring at the thugs. The thugs started laughing, the head thug holding out his hand. Tsuna looked at it for a few seconds, then took his hand, feeling him grip it tightly in a rough shake.
“Challenge accepted. I guess you’ll do as a replacement for Kyoko. Gotta admit though, I’m gonna enjoy this. Meet you at the court at 5pm today” the thug stated, giving Tsuna’s hand a painful squeeze, then let her go. Watching them all turn and walk off, Tsuna felt her adrenaline leave her body as her legs began to shake. She let out a shaky breath, turning to see Kyoko break out of Ryohei’s grip and tackle hug her. Tsuna lost her footing, hitting the ground painfully on her rear. Kyoko’s grip around her neck tightened as she buried her face in Tsuna’s shoulder.
“You didn’t need to do this Tsuna! I’m so sorry! If we lose, I don’t know what they’ll do to you!” Kyoko sobbed, her tears staining Tsuna’s shoulder. Tsuna’s expression softened as she wrapped her arms around her, feeling the trembling in Kyoko’s shoulders. Kyoko was really scared, and it wasn’t even for her own sake, it was for Tsuna’s. Ryohei’s expression softened upon hearing Kyoko’s sobs. He knelt down, watching Kyoko cry as she hugged Tsuna tighter.
“Kyoko… I’m sorry Tsuna… I never meant for this to happen… What’re we going to do about this challenge? Can any of us even play basketball?” Ryohei apologized, his voice soft and calm instead of its usual energy. Tsuna looked down, sighing.
“I played a little basketball, but I’m actually not that good at it… Yamamoto? Gokudera? Ryohei? Can I count on you three? We need one more person… I can’t see Mukuro playing fairly, but I also can’t see Hibari playing fairly either…” Tsuna stated, looking at them as they nodded.
“I think Hibari would be the better bet over Mukuro though… Mukuro has more chances to try and cheat. We should go ask him to join our team” Yamamoto suggested, walking to Tsuna and Kyoko, then gently took Kyoko’s shoulders, pulling her away from Tsuna. Gokudera approached, offering Tsuna a hand up. She accepted, seeing Yamamoto pull Kyoko up to her feet as Ryohei stood on his own feet.
“But Hibari will just stop the matter completely though… He takes his job as a guardian even more seriously than the rest of us…” Gokudera stated, frowning as he looked at the window where the Disciplinary Committee was located.
“We still need to try… Ryohei? Are you okay?” Tsuna asked, walking to Ryohei and raising a brow. Ryohei blinked, looking at her, startled.
“Come on, let’s go ask Hibari if he’ll join the team” Tsuna offered, grabbing Ryohei’s wrist and beginning to pull him to the Disciplinary Committee. Kyoko followed after them in a hurry with Gokudera and Yamamoto in tow.
Approaching the door, she knocked quietly, awaiting the response. A quiet voice telling her to come in eventually responded. Opening the door, she peered inside to see Hibari sitting at the desk, working on a pile of paperwork. He glanced up when he saw her come in, eyes widening slightly.
“Hello Hibari… Um… I was wondering if we could ask you a favour…?” Tsuna asked, stepping into the room. Hibari remained silent, unmoving on his chair as his eyes narrowed, seeing the others enter the room with her.
“What is this favour exactly?” Hibari asked, standing from his chair and walking to the window, glancing out it. Tsuna gulped, turning to look at everyone else. She shook her head when she saw Gokudera open his mouth to try and explain, quickly shutting him up. Turning back to Hibari, she stepped forward.
“You see… There’s this group of guys we had to challenge to a basketball game to get them to leave Kyoko alone, and we need one more member… Can you help us as the fifth member? We really need your help, please Hibari?” Tsuna pleaded, seeing Hibari turn to look at her. His expression was stern, seeing no point in this roundabout way of doing things. He was about to open his mouth when suddenly Gokudera jumped into the conversation.
“Boss is on the line in this game! She’s using herself as a bargaining chip to get them to leave Kyoko alone!” Gokudera suddenly exclaimed. Both Tsuna and Hibari’s eyes widened in shock, looking at him in disbelief. Tsuna sighed, smacking her forehead with the palm of her hand. This was why she’d wanted Gokudera to stay silent! She lowered her hand, glancing at Hibari to see he was still frozen in shock. The surprise quickly disappeared though as a glare appeared on his face and a dark aura surrounded him. Tsuna suddenly felt very nervous and scared, seeing him bring out a tonfa quite literally out of nowhere. She gasped, seeing him step around the desk, a murderous aura filling the room.
“Where are these punks…?! I’ll skin them alive!” Hibari growled, tonfa at the ready. Backing up, Tsuna felt sweat trailing down her face.
“This is what I was afraid of…” she whispered, seeing Gokudera, Yamamoto, Kyoko and Ryohei all looking just as terrified as she was.
“H-Hibari! Please calm down!” Kyoko pleaded, clinging to the back of Tsuna’s vest and peering over her shoulder. Ryohei frowned, seeing how scared Kyoko was, then turned to glare at Hibari.
“Hibari! Tsuna wants to settle this fairly, are you going to go against her wishes?” Ryohei exclaimed, his expression serious as everyone jumped, looking at him in confusion. Ryohei wasn’t acting like himself. It was almost like he was using the brain in his head. He wasn’t even using his ‘extreme’ catchphrase either.
“Ryohei…” Tsuna whispered, looking at him in concern. Without him yelling his catchphrases all the time, he felt so far away. Hibari paused, looking at Ryohei before he relaxed, lowering his arm with the tonfa, letting out a sigh.
“Fine… I’ll help in your basketball game… But if we lose, I will not let them have you Tsunayoshi… I will simply destroy them” Hibari replied, the dark aura returning to him. Tsuna gasped, blinking in fright. It wasn’t quite what she had in mind, but it was something at least. But why did Tsuna get the feeling she was forgetting something? It suddenly struck her as she froze to the spot, letting out a gasp.
“Tsuna?” Kyoko asked, looking at her in concern. Tsuna lifted her hands shakily to her chin, shaking slightly.
“Oh no… I’m late!” Tsuna exclaimed, turning to look at the time.
“Late?” Yamamoto questioned, raising a brow as he looked at her in confusion. Gokudera exclaimed in realization, grabbing Tsuna’s wrist as she looked at him, both of them looking terrified.
“Hurry up Boss! You might still make it!” Gokudera encouraged, earning a nod from her as she turned, running out the room quickly. Ryohei looked equally as confused as well.
“She forgot dance practice, didn’t she?” Hibari asked, making all eyes fall on him. Yamamoto, Ryohei and Kyoko looked shocked, clearly not having either expected it or remembered it.
“Oh yeah, she’s supposed to dance everyday with Mukuro this week, isn’t she?” Yamamoto asked, chuckling as he remembered. Gokudera looked at him in disbelief, sighing.
Meanwhile, Tsuna ran down the hallways, bursting into the assembly room to see Mukuro sitting on a chair, tapping his hand impatiently on the table. He looked up at her, a small glare on his face. Tsuna panted, leaning forward to grasp her knees as she tried to catch her breath.
“I-I’m sorry Mukuro… I have no excuses… I’m sorry…” Tsuna apologized, hearing Mukuro stand from his chair and walk up to her. Finally recovering enough, she stood up straight just in time for Mukuro to grab her wrist and lift her arm up into the air, almost pulling her off the ground. She let out a silent gasp, staring up at Mukuro in shock as his eyes locked onto hers.
“What were you thinking…? What if you don’t win?” Mukuro questioned, glaring sharply at her. Tsuna’s eyes widened in shock. How did he know about the challenge?
“H-How did you…?” Tsuna asked, seeing Mukuro’s red eye glow a little.
“I got worried when you didn’t show, and I overheard you, every word… Did you even think about the consequences of this!? What would Giotto say if he found out?!” Mukuro exclaimed, glaring at her. Tsuna could only blink in shock. She hadn’t thought much about the consequences when she’d made the deal, she’d only thought about protecting Kyoko. Lowering her eyes from Mukuro’s, she felt the weight of her situation falling upon her. She let out a sigh, feeling Mukuro lower her back to her feet, letting go of her wrist. Her wrist was stinging, but she just continued to stare blankly at the ground.
“I’m sorry… I wasn’t thinking… I just wanted to help Kyoko…” Tsuna apologized, seeing Mukuro’s expression soften. He let out a sigh, running his hand through his hair.
“What do you want me to do Tsunayoshi? Do you want me to inform Giotto and put Kyoko under protection?” Mukuro asked, his voice calming down. Tsuna remained silent for a few seconds before she shook her head.
“No, I want to stick to my word. I’ll settle this fairly… But can you be a substitute in case they don’t play fairly and someone gets injured?” Tsuna asked, looking up at Mukuro. Mukuro blinked, staring at her in shock before he sighed, nodding.
“Very well. But if I catch them cheating, I will punish them severely myself” Mukuro stated, smirking as Tsuna smiled. Now they were all set up for the match in an hour.
“We’ll have to cancel the lesson today and get ready for the match. Come on Mukuro” Tsuna said, her eyes now filled with new determination. She turned, jogging out the room and heading down the hall to where the others were waiting. Mukuro ran behind her, eyes narrowing upon seeing Hibari. Hibari was in the same boat, glaring dangerously at Mukuro.
“Come on guys… Can’t you at least put aside your differences for just one match?” Tsuna asked, looking between the two of them. They both turned their backs to each other, huffing. Sighing, Tsuna looked around. They were ready for the match now, so now all they had to do was head to the court and wait for their opponents. Walking down the hallway, Kyoko tagging along at her side, they exited the school building and headed to the court. Sitting on the bench, they waited patiently for 5pm and the thugs to arrive. Upon their arrival, the thugs stood at one end of the court and Tsuna, Gokudera, Hibari, Yamamoto and Ryohei stood at the other end of the court. The head thug walked to the centre as Tsuna did the same.
“Half an hour game, two five minute breaks. Team with the highest points wins” the head thug stated, holding out his hand as Tsuna nodded, taking his hand and giving it a firm shake.
“May the best team win” Tsuna stated, turning and walking back to her group. The head thug did the same. Kyoko walked up to the centre, basketball in hand. Yamamoto stepped up to the centre, awaiting the ball toss as one of the thugs stood on the other side. Kyoko gulped, ball in one hand, then tossed the ball into the air.
“Play ball!” she exclaimed, running off the court as the game began.