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What Did We Do To Deserve This?

(completed 03/17/2010; Katekyo Hitman Reborn!)

Katekyo Hitman Reborn! is the province of Akira Amano. The PPC is the original idea of Jay and Acacia, and I, like so many others, am merely doing my best to carry on the Duty. The fanfic sporked herein, "What did we do to get THIS?", is by kaitlin117, and, for the morbidly curious, can be found here.

Thanks are due to gattsuru and Data for beta-ing.

Apologies about the giant block of text in the middle; I felt it necessary to truly convey the horror.


The console waited until Katrina was out and about in HQ to unleash an ear-splitting [BEEEEEEP!!!]

Samuel registered the three exclamation points and winced, making his way to the console with some alacrity and looking to see what it wanted.

“Hm,” Samuel said eventually, carefully blank, and manipulated the console’s controls to show him something else for a moment, a reference document he’d made a point of compiling some months back.

...Oh, dear. It was probably a very good thing Katrina had been out of the room when the console alarm went off. She often got to it before he did, and he didn’t care to think about the results if she’d gone off half-cocked on this one.

He didn’t think there was going to be a way to break this to her gently. Still, at least he was prepared.

His mind drifted back, to an occasion a little under a week ago now, on which his partner had gone on at length about the horror stories she’d heard about missions, and the relative simplicity of their tasks in the past year. Perhaps another reminder to be mindful of one’s words and not taunt the Ironic Overpower would not go amiss.


The unsuspecting Kat was actually quite happy at the moment. She’d had good food, enjoyed an excellent conversation with friends, and the annoyance of a mini-Harpy had taken herself for walkies.

“There’s nothing that could upset me today,” she said to the world at large as she made her way through HQ’s corridors. “Not even a mission. Today is a good day.”

HQ seemed to agree with her, since it was leading her right to her Response Center without too many diversions. She whistled as she walked; the "Song of Storms" was stupidly catchy. At least it took over her brain enough to leave little function for thinking about where she was going.

As per usual, Kat greeted her Response Center with her face.

She grinned anyway, determined that her mood should last, and yanked the door open with rather more force than was necessary. Samuel wasn’t in sight, but the console was lit up with something that looked suspiciously like a mission.

Kat frowned a little, but decided that she could probably kill the ‘Sue with a song in her heart and still have a good day. “Samuel?” she called out, crossing to the console.

Something, or someone, fell over in the tiny adjoining room that housed their bunks. Samuel swore. “Packing,” he said after a moment, pitching his voice to carry.

She was a little nonplussed – it was rare to hear Samuel swear – but glanced down at the console anyway. The summary was... well, she’d seen worse, honestly, for summaries. At least it didn’t have Plz R&R!1! in it.

ok well Kaitlin and Narciel live in a mansion all by themselves BUT one day people from their favorite anime end up in one of the bedrooms coming two at a time.What will happen you say read and find out.

It looked like a pretty textbook snatching case, all told. Then, of course, Kat spotted the fandom, and the pairing tags.

WHAT.”

Samuel appeared from the other room, settling his sword in its accustomed position at his hip and trailing his usual bag of technology. “Calm,” he said soothingly, dropping the bag in favor of setting a hand on Kat’s shoulder. She didn’t miss the fingers that hooked into her collar, ready to pull her backwards if he thought she was about to do something rash.

He meant the gesture as both a caution and a comfort, though, and that was nice.

Kat pouted a bit, returning to scrolling through the information provided. It was, quite frankly, rather terrifying. “Fifteen chapters,” she moaned in despair. “And there’s somewhat in the last chapter we have to kill.”

“Consider the canons, too,” Samuel reminded her. “Likely to be protective?”

Kat compared the sheer destructive power of that world’s mafia to one useless piece of materia, one girl who was semi-competent with a jo, and one sword expert, and winced. “Let’s hope they’re not too attached to these ‘Sues—it could go either way, in this sort. Anyway, canon’ll cloak us, and for the rest... we’ll just have to be careful. I’ll do my best to control myself if you will.”

Samuel was considering this, she could tell from the careful silence. She glanced again at the mission details. “D’you have the dummy?”

“Packed.” She could hear him picking up the bag and double-checking, and that was reassuring.

“Be ready to deploy it, then.” Kat still had the occasional nightmare about the time they’d forgotten one. She abandoned the console to retrieve her jo, and Samuel moved into the space she’d vacated, his fingers flashing over the keys and buttons with practiced speed.

“Whenever you’re ready,” Samuel said at length.

She thumped her jo on the ground, once, and sighed. “There’s no getting out of this, is there.”

“No.” Samuel tapped one button, and the shimmering portal snapped open.

Kat set herself to do her Duty, and followed her partner through.


The portal landed them just at the end of the preliminary Author’s Note, close enough to hear the echoes of a taunting laugh, and far enough from the story proper that Samuel had time to produce a battered yellow cube. He pulled the cord, and the cube expanded into the general shape of a female human.

Kat settled her jo in the crook of her arm and scowled at the dummy. Samuel gave it a gentle push as a loud Beep Beep Beep filled the air and Kat instinctively groped for her headphones. “Gorram it,” Kat sighed, remembering that she'd left them on her bunk . “And—what the hell is this?” She was referring to the well-tailored black suit that had replaced her uniform, rather than the poor manner in which the ‘Sue was describing herself.

"Most plausible disguise," Samuel said distractedly, frowning at the Words.

We live in a huge mansion all by ourselves. Anyway I got up and changed into normal cloths. Then I looked in the mirror and stared into my black eyes. I then brushed my long black hair. "Man, my skin is so pale." I said as I looked myself over.

Kat understood that it was hard to shoehorn description in from the first person point of view. Honestly. But this? This was not the way to do it.

"Here." Samuel nudged her gently, handing over a notepad and pencil. “I’ll hold the CADs.”

Kat was grateful for this. She had a feeling that a good look at the readouts of the Canon Analysis Device, at the least, would be grounds for incoherent violence.

The pair followed the dummy down to the first floor at a careful distance (“Why does this place have seven floors?” Kat asked piteously) and back up to the sixth, where the other ‘Sue apparently lived.

"It's morning get up, Tsuki-chan."

Kat started an untidy scrawl on the subject of commas, and stopped halfway through as the name processed. “Could we get any more... hang on.” The girl stared fixedly off into space, scanning hastily through the Words and ignoring the happenings, even as one ‘Sue wined the other. Samuel stepped out of the way of the alcoholic mess and gently tugged his partner along, as well. There was little cover, but they could at least be farther away from the doorway.

“Narciel Tsukiyomi and Kaitlin Sakurai?” Kat demanded, incredulous, barely remembering to keep her voice down. She flattened herself against the wall as the ‘Sue possessing the dummy – Kaitlin – made her way out of the room and headed up the stairs.

“Charge for inadequate descriptions, as well.” Kat tipped her head at Samuel, inquiring. “The pets,” he elaborated.

Kage and Hikari are little blobs that look like Meatbun from 1/2 Prince but more like white little balls.

Kat added a charge for assuming that someone reading a Katekyo Hitman Reborn! fanfic would know what 1/2 Prince was, a charge for complete and utter lack of originality, and, just on principle, charges for pointless CAFs and improbable if not outright stupid names that were probably merely excuses to have cutesy nicknames.

“We need to be on the next floor up, actually,” she realized as she finished. “That’s where Kaitlin is—“ Kat refused to use the ‘endearing’ nicknames “—and it looks like that’s where characters are about to be.”

The end-chapter Author’s Note boomed through the air as the two Agents dashed for the stairs. A teenaged girl’s voice bubbled on about how it was a small chapter but three pages in her notebook, and followed that up with so I’m happy after all I hate to write .

Samuel muttered something that sounded distinctly unhappy. The author finished up with a declaration of love for someone named Reaper-chan, and the same taunting laugh from earlier.

They hadn’t quite managed to locate the ‘Sue yet; Kat was beginning to worry that they’d miss charges. However, apparently notes were required at the beginning and the end of each chapter. That was going to get old quickly, but for the moment it was their saving grace.

ME NO OWN ANYTHING UNLESS MADE BY ME. The disclaimer echoed through the halls. Neither Assassin was particularly pleased, but at least they’d found the room about which the ‘Sue was screaming. They halted a suitable distance away and tried their best to look inconspicuous within the indistinct hallway.

The note continued with a mention of the failing of English classes. Kat inhaled deeply, exhaled in a rush, and wondered if she could charge for that.

“No,” Samuel said simply when she asked, ignoring the return of the laughter. “Now. Attention.”

Kat didn’t really want to pay attention to the fangirl screaming, but a quick glance at the Words revealed the presence of canon characters, one of which tended toward general violence at the drop of a hat.

Not paying attention would probably be one of the last mistakes she made.

The ‘Sue from downstairs, Narciel, came flying up the stairs even as Kat thought this. Kat grabbed hold of Samuel and prepared to bolt, but Narciel ignored them in favor of dashing to the dummy’s side and saying “OMG! OMG!”

Screams followed, and Kat, scribbling charges like there was no tomorrow, wished desperately for her headphones.

Samuel tugged out of her grasp, scooting to a position where he could see past the ‘Sues into the room without attracting attention. Kat, morbidly curious about the expression that resulted, inched over to join him.

Past the dummy and the ‘Sue that still wanted sadly for description, Kat could see two canon characters. One, taller, scarred, and bad-tempered, was standing over the less intimidating boy, who had apparently passed out next to his mini, Tuna. (“D’aww,” said Kat upon spotting it. “Tiny chameleon!” Samuel breathed a quiet sigh of relief; there were so very many more lethal animals in the series that it could have been.)

The scarred man, Xanxus, was in the middle of ordering the screaming ‘Sues to shut up. Kat approved of this sentiment. She did not approve of Kaitlin’s retort, "Oh we can scream if we want to." , but there was little she could do save to note down a charge for being so blasé within twenty feet of Xanxus.

The conversation deteriorated from there. Samuel frowned disapprovingly as one of the ‘Sues mentioned KHR characters and Xanxus, though interpreting it as a reference to himself and the boy at his feet, completely failed to react otherwise. Further, after a few questions and answers about where they’d been and what happened, Xanxus accepted an invitation to breakfast with a “Why not.”

Samuel fumbled at the CAD hastily, muting it just in time. Kat scowled. As soon as the ‘Sues had departed with their prize, the Assassin stabbed at her notebook with the pencil. “In a strange place? With strange people? With an incapacitated Decimo?” she hissed savagely. “We don’t know the timeline but even if this is directly after the Ring battles, I’m pretty sure there’s no bleeding way that would happen. Family, especially this one, sticks together against outside foes, no matter how much they hate each other. The future arc is proof enough of that.”

“Save it for the charge list,” Samuel said wearily, and slipped into the room the ‘Sues had just left. Tsunayoshi Sawada was still snoozing blissfully on the bed where the ‘Sue had stashed him, and Tuna, his mini, remained on the floor, asleep and ignored. Carefully, the tall Agent nudged at the mini-chameleon until it awoke, yawning to reveal a ridiculously long pink tongue.

“Tuna, you can’t stay here,” Samuel said softly. “I can take you elsewhere or you can follow us, your choice.” The mini deliberated for only a few moments before making itself at home on Samuel’s shoulder.

Samuel returned to Kat, careful not to dislodge his new accessory, and programmed the RA. The resulting portal took them downstairs, to just outside the kitchen. Within, Kaitlin and Narciel were sharing with Xanxus the sleeping arrangements, to which he did not object, and a set of rules.

That was a little odd. Luckily, Xanxus gave voice to the question that both Agents were thinking. "Oi, Why should I listen to your rules?"

"Because this our world not yours and I order you to listen to the rules. I will put the rules on a paper later Ok." The ‘Sue’s answer was delightfully lacking in any actual logic.

Shortly after, following the ‘revelation’ that his world was merely a story to the ‘Sues, Xanxus fainted. Tuna made a noise that on any other creature would have been a growl, and Kat observed the subsequent exchange between the two teenagers with dawning terror.

"You should order him to wake up." Tsuki-chan said.

"You know how I don't like controlling people with my voice."

“Seven tombs,” Samuel hissed, and dragged Kat backwards through a portal to elsewhere in the mansion.

She tripped over her own staff and collapsed to the floor, still looking thoroughly stunned. “Holy and Meteor,” she whispered at last, wishing again for her headphones. “It’s like... it’s like Lelouch, with no restraint and no eye contact needed. It’s like...”

It is a Mary Sue,” Samuel said, coldly. “And it is going to die.” He looked very like he was planning to go and enforce that, and Kat remembered that, despite his quiet demeanor and generally calm attitude, she had been assigned as his partner for a reason.

Samuel, she had observed, had an extraordinarily high regard for the sanctity of canon, and very little tolerance for those who would break with it. For all that she was teenaged, loud, hyperactive, and occasionally irritating, she was far more fond of proper procedure and rules than he, and somewhat less likely to do something rash on a mission.

He held her back when she was on the edge of doing things she’d regret later. Thus, once she had settled into cold, rational fury, it was her job to rein in Samuel.

No matter how much taller than her he was.

Kat disentangled herself from her jo, dropped the notebook and pencil, and closed the distance between them. “Samuel. They will die, I promise you that. But this is neither the time nor the place. A’ight? And if you go off all by your lonesome and try to do something foolish, I promise you I will track you down and kick you very hard in the shins.”

Her thoughts on this matter now voiced, she turned her attention to Tuna. “Hey, boyo. Think you can help me keep an eye on him?”

The chameleon curled its tail as far as was possible around Samuel’s neck, and Kat suddenly remembered the original’s shape-shifting talent. Oh, that could be interesting. “Unnecessary,” Samuel opined.

“Remember our first mission together?” Kat asked, almost innocently, as she retrieved her things. The omnipresent voice that heralded author’s notes boomed through the mansion, but she set herself to ignore it. “And how you nearly got yourself killed by Kratos Aurion?”

Samuel declined to answer, instead beginning to fiddle with the Remote Activator. Kat glanced at the Words. “May as well skip to the fourth’s beginning,” she decided. “That’s where the major violations start. And, also... hm. That could be trouble.”

At Samuel’s curious look, she waved her pencil nonchalantly. “I’ll let you know the second it shows the potential of becoming an issue. Portal?”

He finished his adjustments to the RA and did as he’d been requested.

They were some distance from the ‘Sues once more, as the hallway was still distressingly featureless. The pair of Assassins took up a positions just around a corner a bit farther down the hall, which was likely the best they were going to get; at least they'd have a few seconds to react if the 'Sues turned around. The canon characters were visible even from the distance, though, two boys of similar height and build, one blond and grinning madly, the other silver-haired and furious.

Kat added to the list of snatchees Belphegor and Hayato Gokudera. That list would only continue to grow.

On the bright side, Kat had discovered the origin of the taunting laughter that was generally attached to the author’s notes; it was a poor imitation of Belphegor’s laugh.

On the dark side, Bel was grinning a hugh smile. The result of this reminded Kat disturbingly of Hugh Grant.

Gokudera swore at Kaitlin. Ordinarily, Kat would be approving of this. However, it came out as "Oi, What did the b***h say?" It was quite an interesting experience, hearing the Storm Guardian pronounce asterisks, albeit one for which Kat recorded a charge.

After Kat and Samuel had dodged Narciel and Bel, who were headed down the stairs, Kat peered into the room, and was much dismayed to see Kaitlin pick Gokudera up and jump out the window with him. Kat darted into the room, leaning out the window with little regard for secrecy – this was a seven-story mansion.

“I had forgotten,” she muttered, with equal measures bitterness and ruefulness, as she watched Kaitlin bounce cheerfully to the ground, Gokudera slung over her shoulder. “Mary Sue.”

At least he was somewhat in character. Small blessings.

“It looks like the kitchen is the gathering place,” Samuel said from behind her. “Come on.”

They settled down just outside the kitchen. Kat reasoned that in a mansion of this size, there would likely be potted plants; a few moments later, she managed to drag a generic potted plant out of a formerly indistinct corner. This she sat herself behind, satisfied that it provided more coverage than a wall.

She was up again inside of a minute, however, clinging to Samuel and being as much of an obstruction as she could.

The ‘Sue had decided to enumerate her powers.

Oh right you guys don't knows how that works. Ok so because of our none-of-your-business past we have super so I can regenerate, control people with my voice, super strength, and can use anything once I've seen it once. It would look as if I've been doing it for years. Ok Tsuki-chan has powers as well she can read minds, control the weather, understands and can talk to animals, and she can gather sakura petal and after 5 minutes of putting power into them she can make them float in mid-air. They are like knifes and then she can shoot them like arrows from there. And because we are on the topic about special things is that Tsuki-chan has an air about her that makes people drop their guard around her and I have an air about me that makes people protect me. You know like an important person has an air about him that makes him seem important. Also I have photographic memory so I can understand things easily. So yeah that's why we do the Government's dirty work. Did I forget to mention Kage and Hikari can shape shift into whatever we want. Also we get cool weapons Tsuki-chan has a scythe. The blade can shoot out when she pushes a button on the side and it's attached by a metal chain to the stick part. I use a sword-gun. It looks like a katana can cut like one too but the inside is hallow and has bullets in it. Well the government gave us names for missions use Tsuki-chan's name is Light Magician and I'm Dark Magician. Yu-gi-oh much.

“...oh Holy,” Kat said, dizzied, after it had passed. She didn’t even know where to begin with the charges for that paragraph.

Samuel patted her shoulder soothingly, and went about detaching the smaller Assassin from his limbs. It was, however, a procedure about as frustrating as trying to tuck a recalcitrant octopus into a small container; for every digit or extremity he pried off, Kat managed to cling that much tighter, and occasionally readjusted her grip to completely eliminate what progress he’d made.

By the time he managed to get his partner to stop clinging, all thoughts of Sueicide had left his mind for the time being. Satisfied that Samuel wasn’t going to do anything stupid any time soon, Kat retreated to her potted plant and continued her listing of charges.

This mission just kept getting better and better.

She almost broke the pencil when the ‘Sues started listing more rules, one of which was "Rule 7: Don't call us mean names."

The point at which Kaitlin, the voice-control ‘Sue, decided to demonstrate her powers by needless cruelty to Gokudera was, coincidentally, the point at which Kat snapped the pencil in half and Tuna decided to temporarily turn itself into a squid. Samuel was suitably distracted, and the action moved on to hide-and-seek, outside the mansion.

Kat promised herself that Kaitlin Sakurai would not enjoy her death.


Hide-and-seek had been an exercise in frustration.

There had been injuries, and overreactions, and apparently Kaitlin could heal people by anointing them with her blood. (That had not gone over well.) The ‘Sue had gone on to kiss Belphegor – accidentally, of course. There had been reference to a ‘prince handbook’, as well, which was extraordinarily bizarre given that Bel’s general attitude was that he was a genius prince and did whatever the hell he wanted.

The ‘Sues also introduced the canon characters to Spongebob Squarepants, thus mildly traumatizing Kat – the girl was still mostly convinced that it was the root of all evil.

On the bright side, Gokudera and Kat agreed completely about Kaitlin’s choice of killing-people clothes.

The interlude with the Ten-Year Bazooka was a bit more entertaining, though not for the intended reasons. The ‘Sues were hit with it – the description was unfortunately unclear, though to Kat it looked like it was the child-safe anime version – and were swapped with themselves from ten years in the future. It was a welcome spot of mirth; Kat had to find a spare room to crack up in.

After all, the future that the bazooka allowed one to glimpse could be oh, so easily destroyed.

Midway through that, however, Kat decided it would be a good plan to scan the Words and get an idea of what was coming, and two minutes after that saw her bolting toward Samuel, fishing the RA out of his bag and programming it with frantic haste.

The resulting portal, through which she dragged Samuel and Tuna, let them out elsewhere in the mansion, some time later. Kat heaved a sigh of relief. “There were about to be severe complications,” she said in answer to Samuel’s questioning look. “A ‘Halloween’ event that had no place in the main timeline, and a wrench back to the past – I don’t know about you, but I could pass on that sort of distortion.”

Samuel nodded in agreement. “Where are we now?”

"Voooiii!?" someone roared, not too far away.

“Close to Narciel’s room.” Kat whimpered as she spotted Squ-chan in the Words and hoped very hard that canon would interpret that as a nickname rather than a typo. That mini was likely to be vicious.

“Who’s new?”

Still scanning the area for something small and furious, Kat scooted carefully down the hall until she could see what was going on in the room. Almost immediately, though, she backed off, returning to her partner. “Lussuria, Kyouya Hibari, Superbi Squalo, and Mukuro Rokudo,” she reported, making notes. “And the ‘Sue blizzarded them out a window.”

Samuel looked somewhat alarmed. “This is the sixth floor, isn’t it?”

“She was magnanimous enough to save their lives with a corny chant and some wind.” They ducked back, out of the way of several other canon characters who were coming to see what the problem was.

Kat sighed, looking at the Words since getting close was likely suicidal at this point. “This is special. Two of the most vicious people in the series are fighting in her room, and her concern is not her personal safety, but her collection of bonsai trees.”

“So, write it down,” Samuel suggested. Kat did so, stabbing angry holes in the page with her broken half-pencil every so often.

We all went downstairs and got the now unconscious defrosted guys and put them on the floor in the living room. Then we went to the kitchen.

The brief stampede that this sparked nearly flattened both Agents. Kat glared after the ‘Sue. “Do you think we have enough charges yet?” she asked. “I hate to be un-thorough, but this rapid location changing is getting very, very annoying, they’ve got the death penalty either way, we’ve hit the most major canon violations, and we can portal forward to grab the last ‘Sue, who’s more of a bit anyway but according to the pairing tags in the summary and the process of elimination she would wind up paired with Mukuro and, following what this story’s been doing so far, that would turn him into... into...” She trailed off here, unable to imagine the horrifying sap that would likely ensue.

“Breathe,” Samuel reminded her, purely out of habit. “And we can’t charge for what they haven’t done.”

“Well, at least we can count her as a non-recruitable bit character.” Kat nodded to herself, satisfied with this. “You want to go make sure of where everyone is before we make a move? Locations have gotten crazy confusing, and we lost track of Kaitlin and Belphegor, to boot. I’ll set up in an undefined room and plan, and try to arrange my scribblings in some semblance of order, and possibly make them more legible. This pair is going to die properly, in accordance with all regulations. I’ll take another quick glance through the Words, too, see if there’s anything huge that we missed.”

“I can do that,” Samuel agreed. “I’ll leave the tech with you.”

“Take the RA, though.”

“Naturally.”

Kat kicked a door open and set her jo down inside, motioning to Samuel to drop off his bag as well. “Tuna, smack ‘im if he does something stupid,” she requested of the mini that still clung proudly to Samuel’s shoulder.

“I’ll be careful,” Samuel said pointedly, though he made no move to dislodge the mini. Instead he programmed the Remote Activator and set off. Kat waved until the portal disappeared, then settled down to work.

It turned out that they’d actually missed two people; Reborn and Dino were slated to show up as well, but it was such a passing mention that anyone could have missed it. Ah, well, what were two more characters to relocate? They had such a long list already, after all.

Kat counted it among her blessings that Lussuria, Squalo, Hibari, and Mukuro were all apparently out cold in the living room.

Waitaminute. Something in her last thought hadn’t rung quite true. Kat flipped back through pages of her scrawlings, searching for one particular charge she’d made on the subject of timelines. She knew that the time had been specified in an exceedingly poor manner, and thus she’d written a charge on the topic...

There! Beginning of chapter five. After the Ring arc, before the future arc. Now, why does this not jive with those four being in the living room...?

Kat ran through the conditions of each character directly after the Ring Conflict. Lussuria, fine; Squalo, beaten but alive; Hibari, a bit injured but overall fine; Mukuro, exhausted but... Oh, thought Kat, a little distantly. Right. How could I have forgotten that?

Physically, Mukuro Rokudo should still be in the Vendicare prison, his only ‘escape’ found in possessing Chrome Dokuro – and, even then, he could only do so for so long.

Unfortunately for everyone involved save perhaps Mukuro himself, the Words never made even the slightest mention of Chrome.

Kat was not particularly fond of all that this implied.

Still, there was little she could do about it now. At least she knew. Firming her grip on the pencil, Kat wrote down the new charge, her penmanship suffering only a little.

It wasn’t that much later that Kat was startled by a tap on her shoulder. Not that unexpected, truthfully, since she was expecting Samuel’s return soon, but he was a remarkably quiet person sometimes. She stood and turned, expecting to greet her partner, and was sadly disappointed.

Facing her was not her displeased partner, but rather a handsome teenaged boy with a gentle, winning smile. Other girls might have blushed, or smiled back, or at the very least greeted him civilly.

Kat, on the other hand, took in blue eye – indigo hair – fondness for leather – right eye hidden and very nearly screamed bloody murder.

Mukuro Rokudo within arm’s reach was a situation that had the potential to end very poorly indeed.

She clamped down on the reflex quickly, the shriek dying in her throat, but her panic was still clearly evident on her face; anyone with some amount of skill at reading people would notice.

Interesting,” he all but purred, smile receding into a smirk, and Kat remembered that there were very few people according to canon who could put a face to the name, or vice versa.

“I’m so glad,” she answered tartly, mouth getting ahead of her brain. “What—?” There were so many questions that could go there. What are you doing here, what do you want, how the hell did you spot me, where’s Samuel...? Kat said none of these. Instead she cut herself off, and let him fill in the blanks.

Mukuro chuckled. “A man named Samuel spared me some inconvenience, and asked for my assistance on a certain matter.”

Kat wondered what the hell Samuel had been thinking.

“He said something regarding a troublesome girl, and requested that I find his partner, Katrina, saying that she would welcome the aid.”

“That’s me.” Kat connected ‘troublesome girl’ to Kaitlin Sakurai, remembered the ‘Sue’s annoying habit of controlling people with her voice, and suddenly realized what a problem that could be. The second they got in range they’d be ordered not to move, and they needed to charge her. A shot to the throat with a bow or some such would probably mute and kill, but getting close enough to mute without killing was probably impossible, similarly with relieving the ‘Sue of her tongue.

Granted, it was still the dummy underneath. However, it was an exceptionally dangerous dummy.

“The girl needs to die,” Kat said eventually, after discarding several variants on that theme. “Unfortunately it’s going to be exceedingly difficult given that she can force people to do things with her voice alone, and we need to go through a laundry list of charges before we can kill her. The consequences if we don’t... well. They don’t bear mentioning. And, after we’ve taken care of her and her annoying friends, we can get everyone back where they belong with a minimum of fuss.”

Through the explanation, Mukuro watched her with sharp eyes; his hair had fallen back, revealing the unsettling crimson of his right eye. It was a very visible reminder to be careful. “And what would you do with me?”

“Once you’re back in your world, it’s not my concern.” Canon would snap back into place rather forcefully, she hoped. She wouldn’t wish a sojourn in his ‘cell’ on anyone – but there was Chrome, at least, and it wouldn’t be forever.

“Hmm.”

“Ah, excellent.” That was Samuel, striding through the door looking quite pleased with himself. “Belphegor and Kaitlin are meant to be getting on a helicopter at the moment; it has developed some technical difficulties. It will stall them long enough for us to catch up.”

“Can you handle Bel without getting anyone killed?” Kat asked of her partner.

“He’s no Aurion. I’ll be fine.” Samuel nodded to Mukuro. “If you can assist my partner in taking down Kaitlin Sakurai, it would be greatly appreciated.”

Mukuro considered this. “I see no reason not to,” he answered eventually.

“Then, let’s go.” Samuel collected his bag and opened a portal. Kat grabbed her jo, shoved her notes into a pocket, and, after one last uncertain glance at the canon character, bounded through the shimmering doorway. She was still uncertain about what Upstairs would think of this matter, not to mention suspicious of Mukuro – the second it suited him, he’d turn on them – but right now, she couldn’t dwell on that.

Right now, all there could be was the indistinct helipad and the target.

Samuel wasted no time darting for Bel and engaging the prince. Kaitlin opened her mouth, almost certainly to order someone to cease and desist, but was startled out of it by the pillar of fire that erupted directly in front of her. She tried to shout again, but now roses fell from her lips instead of words.

Kat presumed this was Mukuro’s work, and a glance over her shoulder at him proved her true. Even from her distance, she could see the dark silhouette of the kanji for ‘one’ against the red of his right eye. He was working illusions, but his particular brand, augmented by the skills of the First Path, had the potential to be deathly real.

It was a matter of believing, if Kat recalled correctly. The second one accepted the reality of what one was being shown, that was it – he or she would be trapped. The ‘Sue had flinched back, nearly burned. That was that. Anything further was academic.

Satisfied that the ‘Sue was impotent for the moment, Kat commenced her usual mode of operation, springing at Kaitlin with every intent of pinning the slighter girl to the floor. Sadly, Kat had mostly ignored the paragraph about the ‘Sue’s powers in favor of stunned indignation about the voice-control, and had thus missed the bit where it was revealed that Kaitlin also had super strength.

Kat went flying.

Meanwhile, Samuel dodged a handful of knives and Mukuro laughed to himself.

More roses fell, the thorns dangerously sharp. Kat landed heavily on the helipad and got up painfully, swearing about it even as she braced herself for the murderous onslaught of ‘Sue.

It never came. Barely three feet away from Kat, vines erupted from the ground, blooming into water lilies even as they entangled the ‘Sue’s limbs. She struggled furiously, but it was futile; she’d accepted Mukuro’s reality as her own.

And Kat grinned.

For all she knew, this mission would go straight to hell in a handbasket within the next ten minutes.

Right now, though? Right now, she was going to charge and execute a Mary Sue who had committed most vicious crimes.

Kat was pleased.

“Kaitlin Sakurai! Do I have your attention?”

A furious glare told Kat that yes, indeed she did. The Assassin fished the list out of her pocket and began. “You are charged with the following: General abuse of the English language, including but not limited to rampant comma abuse, poor description, a nearly complete lack of variance in speech tags, and creation of a miniature shape-shifting chameleon, Tuna. Mischaracterization of the entire gorram crew, most especially Xanxus. Rampant stupidity regarding the differences between anime and real life – for crying out loud, girl, this particular one is not a mystical fantasy world! They do not need to be introduced to the concepts of carbonated sodas and blood-borne diseases.” Kat took a deep breath, painfully conscious of the weight of Mukuro’s regard. “Implausibility. Idiocy. Indecision. A terrifying lack of understanding of what makes a good narrative. I would elaborate more on those particular topics, and believe me I have the notes to, but I’d like my partner back in one piece. So, on to your specific crimes...”

Kat turned a few pages, looking for and eventually finding a set of angry scrawlings on the subject. “Kaitlin Sakurai, you and your powers surpass the realm of probability and plausibility at every turn. You override free will with no thought for anyone but yourself. You have no restraint, and no glaring flaws save for the fact that you are an unmitigated brat with delusions of grandeur, whose only goal is self-gratification. Any of these alone might be vaguely acceptable, but together, and taking into account your other crimes, you are, beyond all doubt, a Mary Sue. The sentence is death.”

At this point Kat hesitated. She hadn’t packed a bladed weapon, since usually the actual execution fell to Samuel and she still wasn’t as skilled with a sword as she’d like. Besides, a staff was usually sufficient for self-defence. Unfortunately, Samuel was still busy with Belphegor. Neither appeared to be seriously injured yet, but Kat would prefer to make the ‘Sue dead sooner rather than later. So, then, how...?

“Here.” The soft murmur from behind nearly startled the teenager out of her skin, but she recovered herself well enough, shifting carefully to get an eye on Mukuro without taking the ‘Sue out of her sight. The illusionist was offering her a long, slim dagger, hilt-first.

“Oh. Thank you.” Kat took the dagger with a nod, not giving it a second thought as she turned on the ‘Sue. “Now, then. I’d give you the option of last words, but, regrettably, you have that twitchy little voice-power, so... well. Good-bye.” Kat lunged forward. Even for someone still learning her way around a blade, a stationary target was hard to miss.

Kat had absolutely no qualms about burying the dagger in the ‘Sue’s throat.

As the ‘Sue-spirit drained from the dummy, which collapsed in on itself, Kat caught sight of Samuel out of the corner of her eye. He’d managed to get away from the fight for a few seconds and open a portal, through which he now thrust Belphegor. The portal snapped shut again very quickly. That was one relocated, at least.

Kat heaved a sigh of relief, now that all the major threats were gone. “Thank you for your help—“ she began, turning in Mukuro’s direction, but was a bit distracted from her original intent by the dagger in her hand turning into a snake.

“...Balls,” said Kat, as she realized that she, too, had accepted Mukuro’s reality as her own. Vines ornamented with water lilies twined around her body with startling swiftness; she barely even had time to struggle. “Samuel, go!

She blessed whatever higher power was responsible for two things: one, that Samuel knew how to make difficult choices, and two, that she’d felt the need to clobber Samuel over the head with this particular series a few months ago. Samuel knew how dangerous Mukuro Rokudo had the potential to be, and oh, she was going to have words with him on that subject, but for the moment it meant that Samuel didn’t hesitate. It took almost no time at all for Samuel to hit one button on the RA, dive through, and close the portal behind him; lilies snatched impotently at thin air.

Mukuro chuckled, and it was a playful sound. Kat yanked futilely on the vines. “No, I don’t think so,” he said, almost gently. “There are questions to which I need answers, Miss Katrina.”

Kat swore at him, forgetting her partiality for the moment. Sure, she was fond of his character. However, this particular situation was not at all conducive to the behavior said fondness would usually engender.

At least Samuel was on the loose, and certain canon characters might be helpful if all else should fail. That was a comfort.

The illusionist waited, patiently, until Kat began to quiet down. “Are you done?”

“Bleeding hell,” she muttered. “Fine.”

“So, then. Who do you work for?”

“The PPC,” Kat answered helpfully.

That netted her a raised eyebrow. When she didn’t choose to elaborate, the vines around her arms pulled painfully tight. She yipped in surprise and alarm. “A’ight, a’ight! Protectors. Law enforcement, of a strange sort. There’s certain people what have influence over stories and histories, and some of them do excellent things with it and some of them twist what’s there ‘til there’s nothing left. Some of the former got fed up, banded together, started trying t’keep the others from committing their idiocies wherever they could find ‘em.”

“Interesting,” was Mukuro’s opinion on the topic. Kat couldn’t tell if this was a good thing or not. At least she wasn’t dead or possessed yet. “That girl was one of the latter.”

“Yeah. There’s been worse, for certain—I don’t like to speak of what some of them do. But this one was a particular brand of nasty.” Kat made a face that demonstrated exactly what she thought of the girl. “Even with you there’s some chance; it’s not absolute. Her? No one with that sort of power should be using it so frivolously and so cruelly.”

“Hmm.” That piercing, bi-colored gaze raked over Kat again, and she squirmed uncomfortably. “I ask you again. What would you do with me, should I let you do your duty?”

“Back to your world,” Kat answered immediately. “That’s all I can do.”

“Somehow, I think you’re not telling me everything, Katrina,” Mukuro said, his tone an odd mix between teasing and chastising. “Care to elaborate?” One vine wound upward, making a gentle loop around her neck.

Kat really didn’t want to, but then again, she was fond of breathing. “Generally once all the foreign influences are removed, the world snaps back into its usual place rather forcefully. Whatever situation you were in when you were snatched, that’s where it’ll set you, so the accustomed path can proceed.”

Mukuro didn’t look pleased by this. Kat understood completely. Given a choice between out and about and chained up in a jar full of liquid with some very dodgy-looking tech, out and about would win any day. “I’m not always fond of it either,” she said, earnest. “But it’s part of the Duty. And it’s not forever. Within the decade, almost certainly, should certain things continue unchanged.”

“Ten years.” Displeasure remained, but was joined by thoughtfulness.

“It’s a while,” Kat said, agreeably.

“Indeed.”

This discussion sounded like it was going to go downhill very quickly. Luckily, any further deliberation on the subject was cut off by the sudden application of a mallet-shaped chameleon to a certain face.

Kat stared as Mukuro reeled sideways, thanks to the mini thrown by Samuel. For a moment, she thought that he might have done something supremely stupidly impulsive and recruited more canon characters—but no, Samuel was alone, with only the mini for a companion.

“Eyes!” Samuel cried, and Kat spotted the silvery neuralyzer in his hand almost too late. She practically slammed her eyelids shut, and just in time, as a bright flash illuminated the area. There was the distinctive sound of a portal opening and, shortly after, closing. The vines vanished, and she slumped ungracefully to the ground.

“...I do hope that worked,” Samuel said after a few moments. “There wasn’t really time for precision there. Sorry for the wait.”

“You owe me, partner dear,” Kat said, snappish, opening one eye cautiously, then the other. “This was not your smartest idea ever. Ever heard of earplugs? Smaller, cheaper, and less homicidal!”

“Most hearing protection only muffles,” he responded. “And it was hinted that one didn’t need to hear her voice to be forced to obey. Even a small probability of that was too large.”

“So your solution was Mukuro Rokudo?”

“It worked,” said Samuel, sounding completely unrepentant. “And we’re both alive.”

Barely!” Kat almost yowled, beyond displeased, as she got to her feet. “He may be one of my favorites but that is a situation I would rather never encounter again! Once was too many times!”

“...you’re abusing italics again.”

I don’t care!” the petite Assassin shrieked, at pitches that would have disturbed dogs.

“I had to take care of everything else,” Samuel continued after a dramatic pause to tap at one ear, “which is why it took me so long, but there is still a mansion that needs to go away. Would you like to set fire to it, my dear partner?”

Kat nodded in acceptance of his offer. “I’m still very displeased with you,” she warned him.

“I’ll live,” Samuel said, a wry smile touching his lips.

“I’m sure.” Kat let him set the RA, already fishing the lighter she’d nicked from him out of her pocket.

The mansion loomed before them, tall and suspiciously sparkly. Kat introduced her lighter to as many flammable things as was humanly possible before the structure started to burn in earnest.

“Technically I think that’s a DOGA job, but at this point I don’t think I care.” Kat watched the towering blaze with pleasure for several minutes before sighing and turning to her partner. “We should head back. This’ll be done for soon enough.”

“All right.” Samuel set and activated the RA, producing a portal that lead to the comforting bland gray of their Response Center. Kat bounded through, Samuel following at a more sedate pace.

“Thank Mew that’s done.” Kat took two steps into the RC and flopped over onto the fluffy blue mass that was Micah, mindful of the ypur’s horns. He smelled faintly of fish and sausage, but that was okay. “I never want to see a mission like that again.”

“Katrina!”

It was uncommon for Samuel to sound peeved, but apparently this was one of those rare moments. She reviewed what she’d just said and sighed. “I’m sorry. I take full responsibility for whatever we get assigned.”

“Good.” Samuel lifted a finger to Tuna, who had apparently decided that the man’s shoulder was an acceptable resting place; the mini tested the finger with its tongue, but declined to move. “Where’s your Kornos?”

“Elsewhere,” Kat said definitively, not in the mood for death threats á la mini-Harpy.

“If you say so.”

“I do.”

“Well then.” Samuel nodded, and headed for the door, planning an excursion into HQ. “I’ll be back.”

“Good night!” she called after him, not bothering either to ask what he was doing or move from her spot.

For all his spikes, Micah was rather comfortable. Kat passed out quickly.

Her dreams were festooned with water lilies.

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