Santa Maria, Madre di Dio,
prega per noi peccatori,
adesso e nell'ora della nostra morte.
In nomine patris, et filii
et spiritus sancti
A m e n
The day they came for Yamamoto Tsuyoshi, Yamamoto Takeshi was carrying out a mob hit in Rome, Italy. It was a simple affair for both of them. Both fathers, both not all that different from the other.
Both were marks, a work in progress until they stop breathing, and two bullets in the back of their skull - exactly one inch apart, no more, no less, because that was how things were always done - that signals a hit.
One last mark of displeasure from the mafia.
Yamamoto Takeshi learns not to notice the ringing in his ears - made even more piercing in the echoing hollows of the church - the spatter of blood on his cheek. He gets off easy this time; at least there is a definite lack of brain matter on the suit. He cannot say the same for the spatter on the back of the pews, though.
He learns to say a prayer for the poor bastard - Ave Maria, Ave Maria - because he's in a church and he'd probably go into a worse hell if he didn't pray after killing one of the priests. (Not that he really believed in it, but it didn't hurt to cover his bases.) And mostly because he's so damn sure that God doesn't give a fuck about sinners like him, and if anything, He'd probably listen to his mother.
Yamamoto's always been a little better with the ladies than he is with men.
When he leaves, he supposes that maybe he should start saying a quick prayer after every kill. Gokudera would sneer at him - but haha, hey, that should be some form of penance or something, or whatever they taught in those Sunday school classes, right? They were always big on the prayer and the guilt thing.
Millefiore. They whisper, when Yamamoto Takeshi returns to Japan with a craving for his father's sashimi and sees a large, obscene bloodstain where his father's slippers used to be.
(Blood is corrosive, did you know? It eats into the grain of the wood, eats into it and destroys, and replaces it with itself. It can never be wiped clean. How offensive, that the only thing he has left of his father is this.)
Men in suits, sunglasses, and the sound of gunshots - the police had been too late. The police will always be too late. Yamamoto wants to round on them, to demand why none of them wanted to call for help sooner. Band together, because that's what neighbors do, didn't they? It's a team effort, looking after this neighborhood.
But the answer is exactly the same as the one his job's neighbors would have given in Italy. Too afraid of reprisal, too fearful.
Better to get on with a life untouched by death and violence.
And he remembers what one of the allied triad families had said to him when he was in Hongkong, a handful of years ago when Sawada Tsunayoshi had sent him on a friendly visit to strengthen ties.
"What you take in the name of the mafia, you will have to pay for sooner or later." A triad boss had patiently elaborated the adage that he himself had religiously lived by to Yamamoto one day, in heavily accented English. (Funny, that the man who controlled the streets of Hongkong would be this enlightened and peaceful.) They had never conversed in Japanese, not really - Kwun-shu had nursed quite the grudge against Japan and everything in it. He should know - he'd almost gotten killed for trespassing in their territory until he had informed them that he was from the Vongola, and not from any stray branch of the yakuza.
Kwun-shu thinks that karma is a divine gift.
Right now, Yamamoto just thinks that karma is one giant bitch with a rotting sense of humor.
There is grief, in the silence of the graveyard when all respects are paid, and Sawada Tsunayoshi's sorrow is cutting; sad eyes and a silent, I'm sorry. This death is on the Vongola X's shoulders, still too young, too slim to bear the weight that was on them. Yamamoto wants to tell him that it's not his fault. That it is as that old triad boss says.
But the words are caught in his throat, swallowed. He needs a scapegoat, just for today. How selfish, that he blames the one person who had done everything in his power not to drag them into this life.
How selfish, that all he thinks of that is that - haha, Sawada Tsunayoshi should have put in more of an effort.
This is grief talking - selfish and ugly and painful in all its incarnations. It is a great equalizer; grief turns all men into less than half of what they really are. All the what ifs, if onlys, and the stark helplessness that came in between. Useful if you were a masochist and got off on being in pain and brooding, but ultimately pointless for everything else.
It really wasn't like the dead still had ears to hear what you're sobbing to them on a carved lump of rock while they were buried six feet under and decomposing.
When Tsuna leaves, Yamamoto doesn't look over. There is an apology in the hand that had been on his shoulder briefly, but there is no regret. They are both too old, too jaded for that. (They had taken that vow too young, when they were barely men and when they thought that somehow, they could have made a difference. When they lied themselves into believing that mercy can be found within the ranks of the mafia. That it is not a path carved from broken bodies and countless sacrifices.
That it is not a path of loneliness branded onto their backs. )
This is all for the family, and the only exit from the path that they had taken is through the bullet in their temple.
It is a service that is fully paid for, from the plot of land deep in the heart of Japan's richest deceased, to the pure white marble and the statue of the Virgin Mary atop it. It is the least the Vongola can do.
Yamamoto sees the irony, sees the hypocrisy, and thinks that it is so terribly, pathetically disingenuous. It comes full circle, always, and Yamamoto wishes that the universe didn't have such a warped sense of humor.
The statue of the Virgin Mary topples to the ground and shatters, the sound of breaking porcelain piercing the dead air of the graveyard - haha, dead, get it? - and Yamamoto sheathes his katana before leaving. There is a vulgar stump in its wake, a blasphemy in itself, but Yamamoto doesn't look back.
When he kills one of his father's murderers on his way back to Italy - an unfortunate Millefiore underling that had a low enough pay-grade to be canon fodder (Byakuran ordered it - not me, not me, spare me, signore - I was just doing my job - ) - he doesn't say a prayer over his corpse.
It is a short-lived habit, really.
1. The link provided above is the song accompaniment to the fic, performed by Jay Chou. Lyrics/translations are here. Title - Yi Fu Zhi Ming - also known as In The Name of The Father
2. Cookies for anyone able to catch a movie reference in this piece.
3. Title/song chosen because it was a nice play on words and the Italian mafia - 'in the name of the godfather' - but it's just me being a loser.
4. It seemed inappropriate to insert Hibari in here - but he will have his piece in the next part.
5. The bastardization of the Hail Mary prayer is deliberate.