“Here we are, Miss.”
You shook your head as your driver announced your arrival, trying to wake yourself up so you could gather your belongings before the car slid to a stop. You yawned, looking around blearily, still not recovered from your flight and the subsequent drive from the airport to your grandmother’s house in town. You thanked the man she had hired for the ride. He tipped his hat, nodded, and then drove away.
You took a deep breath as you listened to the purring of the engine fading into the distance. When it was gone, you opened your eyes with a sigh, feeling strangely vulnerable without the car there to protect you. You had never been to Japan before–had never really planned to visit– but when your parents had decided to go for a second honeymoon, no one had been able to look after you for the summer other than your father’s secluded Japanese mother.
You had worried and fretted most of the way there, unsure of what you would say to the grandmother you had only seen a few times, and those when you were very young, and what you would do in the strange country for the month or so you would be there. Sure, since your father was Japanese, you had learned to speak the language at a fairly young age, but communicating wasn’t the only problem you might have.
Some of your fears, however, were relieved when you saw the relatively normal looking neighborhood that met your eyes. You heaved a sigh of relief and looked at the paper with the address jotted down on it. A quick double check of the number on the house told you this was indeed where your grandmother lived. You looked behind yourself once more, unable to shake the sudden feeling that you were being watched, but saw nothing. Your eyes narrowed, but then you shrugged, got a better grip on your bag, and made your way into the house.
“Oh, I’m just so glad you decided to visit!” the small, silver haired woman called over her shoulder as she bustled around the kitchen, making the tea you had not actually said you wanted. “We two girls will have such fun! We have so much to catch up on!”
“Um…sure,” you said, forcing a smile as you took the steaming cup from her hands. You placed it carefully on the table, wondering who would want something so hot when the temperature outside was only slightly warmer. Your grandmother shuffled over to the other side of the table and knelt by it. She grinned at you again, and you smiled back, though less enthusiastically than you had when you had entered the house roughly two hours ago.
“So,” she said, patting her thighs with the palms of her hands. “What are you planning on doing this summer?”
“‘…Do?” you asked, bewildered.
“Well of course!” The woman laughed. “I remember what it was like to be a girl your age. Surely you don’t want to spend the entire summer in the company of someone as old as your grandmother?”
You shifted uncomfortably. You did not want to admit that had been worried about that, but at the same time, you knew no one in Japan. Your parents had refused to let you stay back home with one of your friends and had instead chosen to send you to a completely unfamiliar country. How were you supposed to make friends in a town full of strangers? Your grandmother nodded.
“You can’t expect me to get out and about as much as you would like. No, you need to get out there, make some friends, meet some boys!”
“I-I don’t know about that, Grandma.”
“Why sure you do! Go to the park, or to get noodles, or something! Anything! It’s summer break here, too, you know, and kids your age will crawling out of the woodwork.”
“Well, what? A bright kid like you, you’ll make friends like that!” She snapped her fingers to show you how quickly you would be able to make connections with your peers. “And talking shouldn’t be a problem, since we’ve been speaking Japanese since you got here and you haven’t had any trouble with that!”
“But what if–”
“No, no worrying. Worrying does not let you do.” She stood up and motioned for you to do the same. Looking confused, you did as you were asked. Without warning and with surprising strength, the old woman pushed you toward and out the door and slammed it before you were able to get back in.
“Grandma!” you shouted, banging on the door with one first. “Grandma! Let me back in!”
“No, not until you make some friends, [Name]!” And with that, you heard her march away from the door. You hit the door once or twice more, but knew it was a futile effort. Your father had warned you that your grandmother could be quite adamant about the strangest things.
You turned around and eyed the street warily. You were now outside in the sweltering heat, wearing nothing but a pair of shorts, a t-shirt, and your socks. You could simply choose to sit down in the shade and wait until your grandmother came back to see if you had left, but you were unsure if she would be able to see you from another window or if she even would let you back in when you clearly had refused to try.
Deciding that it was best to just get it over with, you made your way down the path and back onto the street you had left mere hours before. As you left the gate, you looked around, scratching the side of your head. There were no kids here. Old people usually lived amongst other old people, didn’t they? Maybe you would have to go somewhere else to find people your own age to talk to. Your grandmother had not, after all, given you a curfew or any limitations to your wanderings. Looking both ways across the street, you chose one direction and set out that way, trying to ignore the way your shirt was already sticking to your skin and how filthy your socks were going to be when you got back.
You weren’t entirely sure how long you walked that way, but it couldn’t have been that long, really. The sun had not even changed its position in the sky, though it seemed like it should have in the time since you had left home, walking along the gates and keeping an eye out for students on summer break. Apparently the rest of the population agreed that it was too hot to bother with going outside. When you still had not seen anyone, you decided to stop in a space of shade created by a particularly tall fence.
“Hey, what’re you doing out here alone?”
You jumped and opened your eyes to find your face a mere two inches from a grinning, tousle-haired boy with brown eyes. He took a step back, still grinning and clearly not noting how freaked out you were with how close he had been, what with you breathing heavily and looking at him like he was completely insane.
“…What?” you asked without changing your expression.
“What’re you doing out here alone? It’s kinda hot to just be sitting there.” You frowned as you looked at him. He was taller than you by quite a bit, but he looked to be your age or around it. You sighed, pushing a strand of hair back behind your ear, and shrugged.
“My grandma locked me out until I found some friends.”
“Oh, are you new in town?” the boy asked, his smile never faltering. “You can play mafia with us!”
“Tch! Don’t invite strangers to join the family, baseball idiot! Besides, that’s the Tenth’s job!”
“Ahahaha, I didn’t think Tsuna would mind.”
You inched to the side and saw that you were not alone with the tall 'baseball idiot,' as you had originally thought. There were two other boys with him, one with shaggy silver hair and the other with an impressive bush of brown hair rising from his scalp. Upon closer examination, there appeared to be four of them there; the brown haired boy had an odd, suit-clad baby perching on his shoulder.
“Anyway, I’m Yamamoto Takeshi,” the smiling boy said, his smile only widening when you looked him in the eyes. “What’s your name?”
“Um, [Last Name] [First Name],” you said, only barely remembering to give your surname first, as you were so unaccustomed to doing so.
“She can play with us, right, Tsuna?”
The brown haired boy eyed Yamamoto and opened his mouth to speak, but was interrupted by the baby on his shoulder.
“Of course. We’re always looking for new family members.”
“Re-Reborn! Don’t just decide things like that!” the boy, Tsuna, stammered.
“See? It’ll be fun! Come on!” Yamamoto said, returning his attention to you. Apparently he did not even consider the fact that people your age generally didn’t play 'imagination' games anymore a problem. The silver haired boy made another “Tch!” sound and looked away. “This is Tsuna.” Yamamoto gestured toward the brown haired boy. “He’s our 'boss.' And this,” he motioned toward the other boy, “is Gokudera.”
Gokudera didn’t even bother to look at you. He merely kept his arms crossed and looked adamantly away from both you and Yamamoto.
“So come on! It’ll be fun! And then your grandma will let you back in, right?”
You hesitated, watching him for a moment. His cheerful smile never faltered.
"Summer break is best spent with friends."
This time, you looked at the silver haired boy, still pointedly ignoring you, and grinned.
“You know what? I’d really like that.”