dino: (Default)
like sunshine. ([personal profile] dino) wrote in [community profile] khrminibang2009-09-04 02:14 pm
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the long way home.
( Home is where the heart is but everyone is going round in circles to find it. Gokudera tries too hard to fit into a system not made for him or anyone of them, nearly becomes a sailor, attempts to be badass at Russian roulette but Yamamoto steals the most important kill. )
AUTHOR: [profile] theprerogative
PAIRING/CHARACTERS: 5927 (Gokudera/Tsuna), 8059 (Yamamoto/Gokudera), GammaUni
RATING: PG-13




*

No more chasing butterflies, dancing in circles.
Lie down next to me. Be still.

Don’t you see? You can’t chase happiness,
Stop a little, wait and see.

Happiness will come back for you.


*

Gokudera’s pursuit of happiness starts out like this.

He is five and for his age, Gokudera is smaller than most Italian children. The doctor laughs when Gokudera asks for an injection to make him taller, faster, stronger-- anything to make the other kids like him. He sends the boy out with a tall glass of milk and a word of advice, patience. Gokudera furrows his brows at a new English word he does not understand and kicks the doctor in the shins for a good measure (just in case). He knows where he is not wanted.

Emerald eyes narrow suspiciously at the glass but Gokudera downs it anyway. He stands in front of the mirror expectantly (maybe another five minutes and the growth spurt will happen) but when no results show, a dictionary is summoned.

M, N, O, a pale finger trails down the yellowed page.

P for patience and it stops.

The quality of being patient, an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay; endurance or a capacity to wait.

Gokudera’s frown deepens. Going to the pervert of a doctor was a stupid idea, he will admit only to himself. There are more words in the cursed definition that baffle more than enlighten, so he shuts the tome with obvious dissatisfaction and glares at his reflection. Immediately, his other self straightens up under the glowering gaze.

“Just a little, two or three inches--“

“—or an inch is fine too, come on.”

But nothing happens and Gokudera’s eyes fall on the dictionary. It is taunting him, he decides, superimposing Shamal’s know-it-all face on the cover. And it is the split second before his shoe makes contact with the hardbound volume that he squeezes his eyes shut. Reflex and imminent pain but the dictionary barely moves.

Waiting is stupid.

There is a lack of control, a loss of action and no certainty in results. Waiting for uncertainty frustrates him to no ends and the pedals are so near but his feet don’t touch the ground. Gokudera blames the piano stool, the piano, the pedals, Shamal’s unreadable expressions and everything else but himself.

He does not practise that day, choosing to spend the time folding paper planes instead. Paper cranes and wishes are for annoying girls. Planes, he thinks as the last of his stash sails through that grey sky morning, are way cooler.

598 out of the slated thousand and 402 more to go before his wish comes true.

This is different from waiting, Gokudera convinces himself. 401, 400, 399--

*

It is not a perfect day for murder. The sky is too blue and the air is clear. There are a handful of vehicles on the windy mountain slope, not enough to make it look like the accident it was commissioned but he has always worked with limitations. Variables will not make a difference to the results, not when he is a constant. A red car appears in the scope of his carbine and he fixes on the silencer, a little too trigger-happy.

He shuts an eye and zooms in, focusing. She is the most beautiful mark he had ever seen but there is no room for regret and he has no conscience.

“Signorina,” he lets out a shallow sigh of appreciation and a silent prayer.

“It is a beautiful day to die.”

And in the same breath, the front tires are punctured. The car skids off course in a scream (hers), breaching already weakened railings to nosedive into the valley. He follows from the scope with a sick sort of fascination as it erupts into a cacophony of fireworks and smoke. There is no way of confirmation unless he exposes his vantage point but he wasn’t paid for the legwork so he takes his eye off the scope.

“Cut off the head and the tail dies.”

Cryptic words. He never really understood the woman who hired him (with a little girl, strangest shade of pink for hair). But hell hath seen no fury like a woman scorned and it is a secret hidden in plain view that he enjoys watching the world crash and burn. He is stripping the carbine into the wicker basket (beneath cheese sandwiches) when the Park ranger finds him.

“Lovely day for a picnic isn’t it?”

*

Unfortunately, the tail does not go down as easy as imagined.

Bastards, like Gokudera Hayato, are often hardy weeds.

*

It is his birthday and as promised, he is waiting in that room, high ceilings and sound proofed walls (too big for two). It is unlocked but the door stay closed even past sundown. The curtains whisper near the piano, gently sweeping rosewood floors.

“Maybe she isn’t coming because I didn’t practice everyday.”

He is tempted to bang the ivory keys and make that awful clashing sound but Mother doesn’t like noise, Bianchi told him. So Gokudera makes a sound like frustration from the back of his throat before jumping off the stool and making his way to the balcony, tipping toes and thoughtful expression. The sun hangs low on a backdrop that is no longer blue. A storm is coming. He can feel it in his bones.

The sky is the colour of ash and the air is still. There is smoke in the distance and Gokudera wonders if a Red Indian is sending him a smoke signal message but night falls and he is suddenly reminded of the milk incident two years ago. A paper plane plunges into a thorny bush some place far away and Gokudera thinks he was right.

“Waiting is stupid.”

Adults are not to be trusted, even the angelic looking ones, especially them.

*

The morning after, Gokudera finds himself curled next to the leg of the cursed piano stool and wrapped in a white lab coat. There is an unsigned note (folded into a paper plane) beside him but he can smell Shamal’s brand of cigarettes a mile away.

Want to blow things up?

Gokudera supposes that learning to shoot things down is the closest it can get to a real birthday gift but he never receives the one that truly mattered (a vintage music box reduced to splinters) or know that she was clutching a sheet of music with his name as the overturned car got burnt into a metal skeleton at the bottom of the death valley.

*

He is nine when he leaves the white castle with nothing but the clothes on his back.

He is nine when he finds out that she is his mother. He has never once looked back.

He adopts her name and loses most of his manners, cursing like a sailor born on the docks. Gokudera leads the pack of lost children, scavenging rats, dirty faced and always hungry. But the underbelly of Sicily is no home for a child, what more one born with a silver spoon and there are nights when he misses the white castle but the bridges are burnt and his nights are not made for building castles in the air. Under flickering lampposts on dusty streets, the silver haired boy is making up for lost time, devouring whatever book the old Captain throws out until the break of dawn with a childlike faith that maybe the next book will reveal the secret of growing tall.

He never finds it because there is no short cut around time but he discovers a new religion instead. Conviction in equations and symbols because numbers never lie but Gokudera does not realise that everything is part of a bigger picture.

And knowledge is power, he believes. Not because the Captain said so but because the boy that scrubbed the deck told him that the Captain had the next volume of that encyclopaedia he coveted. And this knowledge gives him strength to carry sacks heavier than his weight and determination to win that game of chess in exchange for the book. The pack rats are impressed with his newfound favour and it gives him capacity to lord in that dingy alley. He knows it isn’t the same as happiness (loved and lost) but acceptance almost feels like home, so he stays for as long as it lasts.

*

“Where did you go? You missed Capt’n! He gave us biscuits from where he just got back. Eye-land! Do you know where eye-land is?”

“Ireland.”

The other boy takes no heed to Gokudera’s indifference. He has long gotten used to the surly half Italian. “Yeah! That’s what he said! Eye-land! And he left you a book.”

There is the rustle of crumpled paper before he is given a self-help language book. He recognizes the weird archaic symbols as Chinese-- or is it Japanese? Gokudera thinks the captain must be drunk but takes it anyway.

“Told me to tell you to stop chasing men in black. I told him you never listen to me.”

Gokudera is too busy surveying the surroundings for suspicious characters to properly listen but the boy does not stop chattering, trailing after him like a hungry animal.

“So where did you go? Have you eaten? Want a biscuit?”

Gokudera shakes his head, handing the boy his money pouch and a slip of paper.

“Stay at this place tonight and don’t come back.”

The boy’s eyes are bright and round like the gold coins he is counting. There is look of confused curiosity but the tone of the half Italian’s voice keeps him from asking. Awkward silence fills the void and both boys know what it means. Gokudera memorises the boy’s face before turning to leave. He was never good at goodbyes so he goes with things unsaid. They are not friends anyway, not in his books.

“Where are you going?”

The boy finally calls out but Gokudera does not stop, does not answer, does not turn back. He cannot bring himself to admit that he had been wrong all this while. They are not enough, the dingy alley and his pack of rats. Displaced children, like excessive kindness that is cruel and luxury he can no longer afford, have no place in his quest. It is this awareness that knowledge is not powerful enough that drives him out of his make believe refuge to accept the answer in his blood. Because some things are meant to be while others, you just cannot run far away enough from.

In Sicily, you can hide from your shadow but you cannot hide from the mafia.

Mafioso, a tangible power of fear and a brand of security that stands on its own. Men of honour who live by a rudimentary code of chivalry and chauvinistic egos, bound by a combination of violent pride and fierce passions, with the kind of loyalty that rivals the strongest of militaries. It flows in his blood and Gokudera cannot deny the draw of violence. He had always been so good at shooting things down (paper planes and castles in the air).

So between his nineteenth and twentieth step when he hears the boy say something like take me with you, Gokudera rounds the corner and breaks into a sprint.

It is not running away, Gokudera differentiates. This is his brand of protection.

*

In Sicily, the mafia lords over sailors. Gokudera has seen them at the docks, watching from behind crates while the Captain gets beaten black and blue.

For harbouring a wanted child, he hears them whisper.

The docks go down in a sea of flames that night. It cements his resolve to leave.

*

The same night he leaves, the alley he made home is blasted till kingdom comes. There are no casualties but the police never find the bomber or any remains of the bomb. The case remains open and forgotten (make it look like you were never there).

Gokudera believes the future belongs to those who are willing to get their hands dirty.

*

Reborn takes a longer look than usual at Gokudera Hayato’s ‘resume’ (dubious family history) and throws out the rest of the folder. This one is a toss-up, he knows. There is a chance that it would be all for naught but it is not his first day as mafioso, so he throws his hat into the ring and waits. The risky ones always yield better returns but Reborn knows it is not his aptitude for taking risks that makes him the greatest Vongola hitman. Gokudera Hayato is not a risk when he is part of a calculated plan.

So the next day, one Gokudera Hayato is picked off the docks and packed into a plane scheduled for Namimori. It feels like déjà vu, like he’s done this leaving-thing before but the air stewardess has the prettiest (cleanest) hair he has seen in a long while, so he sleeps through turbulence and dreams for the first time.

*

So what do you do when your past insists on catching up with you?

Gokudera runs right smack into the thick of it, except not really. It is not home he goes back to. He is not the prodigal son so he redefines family with Vongola and makes it a personal mission to take it for his own.

He is not even fifteen when he leaves the land of his birth.

His red-eye flight touches down at Narita airport and Gokudera finally admits that there really is no going back now. Silver hair and green eyes make him stick out like a sore thumb but he stares them down, every one who dares give him one wrong look.

He has no idea how he makes it through customs with dynamite in nearly every crevice of his being but he is thankful for the little things. A Vongola henchman meets him at the airport and the house is too big for him. Namimori is too hot but Gokudera sleeps fitfully in his new school uniform and a thumb on his trusty lighter.

*

Their first encounter is not what he envisioned and Reborn is less than impressed. It has been a while since he doubted his instinct but something in those green eyes stops him, something like desperation but on hindsight, he should have known better.

Desperation is no substitute for inspiration but a desperate dog will leap over any wall and Gokudera proves him right (on bended knees, before a boy too small for the Vongola name). Reborn chooses the half Italian because even if he is acrobaleno, he is human and there exists, in the deepest, most forgotten part of that cursed body, memories and some semblance of knowing how to pity small animals. With a nod of his head, he can give broken children a semblance of redemption. So he does; whether it is a bout of shrewdness or nostalgia, he is not sure but regardless, Gokudera is initiated into the new Vongola Decimo’s entourage.

Just like the Ninth did for him.

Right hand man, he lies, watching Gokudera’s eyes light up for the first time.

It is surprisingly easy to make a man go off course with just an empty title, Reborn thinks. After all, admiration and pride are the easiest emotions to manipulate.

But the plans of mice and men often go awry.

Reborn never truly expects Gokudera to rise up to the challenge. He never really understands that acceptance of a Japanese boy is all it takes to overwrite all rejections.

*

“Hey, you like maths and science right?”

Gokudera gives him a look that says something like go bother lawn head or something. It flies over the baseball idiot’s head and Yamamoto’s smile grows.

Gokudera trusts numbers, fixed variables and certainty in the controlled flight of his dynamites. The science of mathematics and the art of chemistry are his elements, calculated trajectories and reaction in combustions. Liking is an understatement.

“Do you know? Mathematicians and scientists are prone to schizophre--”

“Like every other drug addict and chain smoker,” Gokudera deadpans.

He has heard this line of argument too many times. Yamamoto has a look of pleasant surprise, as if his task is made easier now. Annoyed, he lights up another cigarette but Yamamoto does nothing to stop him. Waiting infuriates him the most.

“You’re all of the above you know?”

Gokudera blows a puff of smoke in Yamamoto’s direction. The taller man no longer coughs at the smoke, merely cutting a hand through to fan it away.

“Look who’s talking? I’m not the one playing make believe mafia games here.”

The taller man is quiet and Gokudera cannot resist a chance to guilt trip.

“Someone had to test the composition of that heroin in your pocket you know?”

*

Gokudera is nearly twenty five when he starts believing that happiness is like the sky, so near yet so far, always there but always out of reach.

It is his birthday when he loses something precious again.

This time, it is the boy he pledges his life to.

The brilliant evening sky fades into a bloody mess, covering his world in dusk.

It is almost like somebody pulled the plug and the floodgates are suddenly open, tipping chaos into Gokudera’s world. The half Italian takes over Vongola’s operations as they wait on the accession of the Eleventh. The number rolls off his tongue like the first Japanese word he learned a decade ago, awkward. There isn’t a ring to it but it is duty and he does it impeccably. Right hand man, he says every time someone (Yamamoto) challenges his decisions. He overlooks the fact that he can only be a right hand if the body exists and denies every request to give Vongola Decimo a proper burial, finally relenting in a handsome coffin in a secluded part of the forest.

It is another morning after that Gokudera remembers something a Chinese mobster said, all smiling eyes and old school wisdom.

“It is better to lose something precious to avoid a disaster.”

And in one quick movement, the tiny mobster cut off his son’s ear as an apology for misleading the Vongola crime famiglia. Tsuna is horrified but that is the end of it.

But Gokudera cannot tell if adverting any disaster is worth losing Vongola Decimo.

And worse, the negotiations with the Hong Kong triads fall apart like a house of cards. Gokudera tells everyone who would listen that they got it off easy but in reality, he knows Vongola Decimo is simply too kind, too good for this world. For even in death, the brunette remains a decent man trapped in an indecent time.

*

There is a territory war even before the dust settles over Vongola Decimo’s coffin and the famiglia is operating on a skeleton of guardians. Hibari washed his hands off everything Vongola the same moment Sawada Tsunayoshi stopped breathing and Mukuro is not to be trusted (even if Chrome brings the coffin Easter lilies everyday). Gokudera picks up the slack and prepares to go into the fray personally.

Yamamoto and Ryohei hold down their forts just fine while the Lambo-Ipin tag team perform surprisingly well. Gokudera’s area is the only one ablaze.

The enemy's C4 bomb goes off earlier than predicted and it blows a hole too near where Gokudera is hidden. Yamamoto is the only one who comes back for him but the half Italian only curses and calls him names. Suicide plan foiled.

“Is it too much to ask for a quiet death, asshole?”

“Nothing is quiet when you’re around Gok--”

A bullet whizzes by and they are nearly caught in the crossfire. There is a maniacal laugh in the distance and it grates at Gokudera’s non-existent patience.

“Sniper, two o’clock,” he whispers, willing the stabbing pain on his calf to stop.

Yamamoto nods, eyes wide and alert as he loads the last magazine of his Beretta.

“So what’s your plan?”

If he had been facing Yamamoto, Gokudera would have dared him to ask a second time but back-to-back, the half Italian pretends to concentrate on tearing his jacket apart as makeshift first aid. There is no way in hell a right hand man like himself will admit that all his plans have gone bust and he is just waiting to die, not to Yamamoto. So after the longest pause, he repeats the obvious, “Sniper, two o’clock.”

“So the plan is to wait?”

Gokudera does not answer. He refuses to give Yamamoto the satisfaction of being right. Because indeed, the best option available now is to wait. Any further rashness on his part will only result in bloodshed they cannot afford. Gokudera winces inwardly as he applies pressure on the bleeding calf. He should have known better.

*

It is a beautiful day to die. His standard prayer, a leftover from his broken childhood and the only shred of pseudo morality he has. It is a sniper’s grace.

Adjusting his scope, the sniper cannot suppress his glee. Piece of cake, he mocks, this is a job he can do in his sleep.

It is like a game, cat and mouse, Tom and Jer-- He stops in his thoughts. Tom is the smart cat right?

But from the corner of the scope, there is a flash of familiar silver and all thoughts are lost. It does not matter. Any cat that catches mice is a good cat, oh yes.

His prey is moving (he cannot stay away) and a delighted cackle escapes unchecked. There is a quick shift and a smallest pressure on the trigger but it is enough.

Game over.

*

Except things never really work out as planned. Another bullet bites the dust.

It would have been an easy hit, if Gokudera had been alone. But the Vongola crime famiglia operates like a network, always in a team.

So that we will never walk alone, Gokudera-kun.

Not that the sniper knew.

Gokudera Hayato had always been a lucky bastard.

*

Hidden behind a wall of crates, they are a seamless unit of Vongola efficiency. Gokudera wonders if this comforting presence is exactly what Vongola Decimo had intended when he made Yamamoto play back up for every mission.

“The worst that could happen is we all die,” Gokudera mutters wryly, tying the torn jacket sleeve round his bleeding leg. He is going to need a new wardrobe after--

“Nobody is going to die here Gokudera.”

“Tell it to the guy at your feet, stupid.”

Gokudera sneers, spitting out a bloody molar and wiping the bruised edge of his lips with the back of his hand. It is hopeless, he thinks. His forces decimated, a bullet in his calf and a baseball idiot who is better at close-range attacks than a rain of fire.

He tries to stand but fails miserably. Yamamoto is there before he hits the ground.

"Stand back," Yamamoto says. His gaze has the quality of steel and for a second Gokudera seriously considers leaving it in his hands. But the moment is fleeting and he nearly socks the rain guardian for treating him like a girl.

"You're in no condition to fight."

Gokudera proves him wrong by standing, barely.

“I report to one man and you are not him.”

“That man is dead.”

Gokudera gives him the finger. “I’m his right hand man.”

Yamamoto sighs at the mantra he knows too well before bringing his Beretta between Gokudera’ eyes. Stand down. There is an degree of surprise in greenest eyes but in a flash, it is gone and Gokudera’s Glock is in his face. Yamamoto does not recognize the trace of a smile on the half Italian’s lips but the grip on his gun tightens. He will later realise it is desperation coupled with insanity of a man who has lost everything he holds dear.


“Russian roulette?”

Yamamoto cannot believe his ears or Gokudera’s cheek. There is no time for this, he wants to say but Gokudera unhinges the safety of the Glock, all shades of seriousness.

“Tsuna is dead.”

“Fuck you.”

“He is dead and you think he wants you to take his place in his fight?”

Gokudera answers with a glare. Yamamoto’s finger steadies on the trigger.

“Don’t disgrace Tsuna further, Gokudera.”

It is the last thing Gokudera hears (along with the loudest crack of bullets crossing). The Beretta shifts and his vision fade out into a dark splotch of rusty crimson.

*

The Vongola’s renewed power in their territories, albeit weakened and fragmented, comes at the price of Gokudera’s sense of hearing. Aftershock, the doctor assures whatever that is left of that headless famiglia. It will come back to him in a month. And Gokudera swears never to forgive Yamamoto.

“Did you get the fucker?” It is the first thing he asks Yamamoto after recovery and it is then that Gokudera admits that there is nothing to forgive.

“Headshot.”

“Show-off.”

“I brought you sunflowers.”

“Fuck off.”

Yamamoto’s laugh is exactly like Gokudera remembers - an overdose of undiluted good-natured idiocy that is so carefree it feels like a luxury they cannot afford but Yamamoto does not stop laughing and Gokudera wishes he was deaf again.

*

Yamamoto leaves a note in the other’s office while he is still confined to bed-arrest. He figured that the piece of information would only enrage the half Italian and the rain guardian really wants to remain in Gokudera’s good graces.

It is a neon yellow post-it, written in his typical broad scrawl.

To be exact, it was between his eyes.

He is the same sniper who caused your mother’s death.

It’s not a kill-steal if I didn’t know.

Don’t burst your stitches.

Okay? :D


*

It had been an exceptionally long day but he trudges up like always, heavy feet and lined features. One hand stuffed in a pocket and the other round the briefcase holding his tools of trade. Halfway up the slope, Chrome’s Easter lilies line a trail leading to that dark oak coffin he knows so well. It makes Gokudera question his long-time grudge against Kokuyo as he sets some of them aside. It feels like forever but Gokudera cannot forget (even if he forgives Mukuro’s one time treachery). The pungent aroma is sickeningly sweet and his fingers itch for a light but Vongola Decimo would never have approved so he leaves them be. It is quiet in the clearing. There is no other being in his presence and Gokudera lets himself come undone.

The place is farthest from escape (denial) but he cannot stop coming. It is not reprieve he desires, not in a place filled with ghosts and he thinks maybe this is not devotion but it is not love, not when it is not returned. So perhaps it is like a habit, a good one.

And old habits die hard, like sinners and their last prayers but Gokudera is not a god-fearing man. But when the coffin comes alive from within, he wonders if it is divine intervention or maybe there really is a God and the half Italian finds that his hands still remember the fading heat of a dying body. Except this time it is different.

Sawada Tsunayoshi is alive.

Gokudera learns then, that it does not take much to reduce a grown man into tears and that his heart is not equipped to keep time with the speed of sound.

What happens next is a given.

*

There is a brief moment of silence after the final cackle of electricity, a reprieve. It hums like a hymn, a death knoll and Gamma feels his mood take a dip for the worse.

“There is nothing but fear in your strikes,” Gamma laments, toeing their toasted bodies with his cue stick. They are alive and he wonders if this can be counted as betrayal but with age came wisdom and a better understanding of restraint.

It is not a half assed job, not by Gamma’s standards but even if it is excessive, it is insulting to be kind to his enemies. He knows he should finish them off but something holds him back - a vision of his past, the slowing down of heartbeats and the burn of something deeper. He may no longer be the esteemed right hand man but he knows what it feels like to be Gokudera Hayato. It is laughable because he cannot believe that these are the same boys who will grow up into the fearsome Vongola guardians.

“What are you fighting for?” He whispers, knowing that it is a question for himself.

There is no answer but it is expected. Gokudera Hayato, you disappoint.

“You don’t know how to take a life and yet you don’t want them to die.”

Head bowed (rest in peace), Gamma turns to leave only to stop in the same step, weighed down by a deadly aura. He knew he was forgetting something, someone.

Hibari Kyouya.

*

The second time they meet, they are not within Vongola grounds, so Gokudera thinks nobody can see him struggle. Lawn-head is down and out. Gokudera is nearly there too but the blond stands again and Gokudera feels a familiar need rise. Uri’s comforting presence gives him strength and something inside that fifteen-year-old boy swells, something like faith. We’ll get us back, Gokudera-kun.

“Is Vongola Decimo that worthy a leader?”

“Damn right he is.”

And right on cue, there is warm glow over his face that makes Gamma do a double take. Gokudera barks out a question about the Black Spell’s boss only because he cannot fathom why someone so strong would work under a little girl but Gamma’s response is obscured in vague history and cryptic language that he has no patience for.

There is a moment of silence as Gokudera fails to find an appropriate insult but Gamma is unaffected. Instead, the lightning guardian sets his gaze at Elettro Volpi before matching Gokudera’s look of tenacity. His expression is a shadow of Hibari (bite you to death) and Gokudera feels his blood boil. The air is hot with anticipation.

It is an impasse; neither wants to die but neither can let the other pass.

*

I am the storm; the turbulent gale that fiercely blows everything away.

Gokudera remembers, like his heart will never forget and the memories cancel out all the fears and doubts he has about ability, and his body moves without being told.

“Don’t you think you’re too young to die?”

Sparks fly, a clashing dance of reds and greens.

“So keel over, old man.”

The smallest of smiles surfaces and Gamma does everything but keel over. Gokudera lifts a tired arm to take aim and Gamma readies his cue. Their eyes meet and it is over in an instant, an anti-climax of white light and animalistic roars of allegiance.

*

But like a phoenix rising, the smoke clears and everything is still. The air is thick with sweat and battle scars but it is eerily peaceful. Gokudera feels like he could be dead but he can hear dying static, thank god. It takes all of his remaining energy just to stand, as if every muscle is being held together by sheer strength of mind, a mind wrapped round inconvenient fireworks and smiles brilliant like the sun.

“Tenth--” He stumbles on his feet, swaying like a tree in a storm.

“Tenth is waiting.”

I’ll be right where you are.

Nobody sees Gokudera collapse in a boneless heap.

*

The Cervello clones cut all power to that training room once Gokudera stands.

Neither man knows but Irie is watching them battle it out, tooth and nail. He is left wondering what strange logic underlay this senseless bloodshed and the willingness of rational men to lay down their lives with nothing but a feeling that they dare not give voice to. For a briefest moment, the White Spell captain sees them as reflections, men that did not have to go down the bloody path had Byakuran not--

“What if Spanner is really fraternizing with Vongola?” Iris’ voice cuts into his reverie. There is a significant pause but Irie does not look away. It is part of the plan.

Guilty until proven innocent.

“Kill him.”

When they find Spanner, Irie thinks the look on his oldest rival explains everything else Gamma did not know how to tell Gokudera. It is not as complicated as it seems.

Love is love.

*

The sudden peace is unreal but Gokudera treasures it like it is the last day on earth. Even if they are aware that something like a two-ton truck is hurtling towards them, it is the first day into their future. There is hope in their regrouped team but time is a cruel mistress. Gokudera cannot bear to admit that there may only be this much in his ability but Tsuna offers Giglionero Uni a smile (trust) and Gokudera thinks this is Vongola Decimo’s greatest strength. Grace (undeserved yet freely given).

“We’ll get us back, Gokudera-kun,” Tsuna says when they arrive in the Vongola base.

The half Italian believes, for there is power behind those words but deep down, he does not care if they never get back. There is nothing in his past that he anchors him down as much as one Sawada Tsunayoshi and currently, he has got everything he ever wants here (family, acceptance, purpose). They could be a decade older and worse for wear but for as long as Vongola Decimo is alive and well, nothing else really matters to a right hand man. Because inherently, every man for himself and Gokudera is far from accommodating, except he knows it is not the same for the rest of the rag tag team and realisation is a powerful rhetoric.

Gokudera steals a look at Bianchi and it suddenly feels like rubbing fresh salt on an open wound. His stomach lurches but Bianchi is no longer in his line of vision.

In the quietest part of his mind, he draws up plans for a possible future.

Maybe once this is over, the damn Scorpion will tell me the truth.

And I’ll go back to retrieve that piano. I don’t have to see that stupid man’s face.

But first, defeat the evil white haired bastard and set things right for Tenth.

Then I properly challenge Yamamoto for the right hand man position and convince Reborn-san that I can be better than the baseball freak.

After peace, after love, after--


Gokudera stops short and it is something like an ill-timed epiphany. There are too many plans and desires. Some will never bear fruit but he cannot stop trying. He owes it to Vongola Decimo to do that much but it is after mucking through countless tribulations that Gokudera grows to understand that ultimately they all want one thing.

Happiness, he concludes, is a direction, a satisfaction in the present.

And presently, his world is beautiful (cloudless skies and warmest sunshine).

So Gokudera plays along, waiting for disaster to strike and his resolution to bridge the difference. After all, the night is darkest before dawn, so come what may--

“What are you waiting for Gokudera?”

“Shut up baseball idiot. Tenth! You need to be on guard against the Uni girl! She’s--”

Tsuna flings himself at his best friend and stuffs him out of sight, into Yamamoto’s arms. His high-pitched laughter makes the awkward moment worse but Gokudera knows it is his best attempt at hiding embarrassment (flickering gaze and wringing hands). Unperturbed by their antics, Uni is a vision of confidence before her new allies but there is no conviction in that brilliant smile. Only a touch of wistful nostalgia laced with a silent prayer of understanding, as if giving up is also love. It is then Gokudera finally grasps the depth of Gamma’s resolve. They are all the same.

Love is.

Let’s go home!

*
rodick: (khr: ryohei_extreme needs)

\o/

[personal profile] rodick 2009-09-05 07:44 am (UTC)(link)
Beautifully written. One of the best I've ever read. \o/ \o/

Re: \o/

[identity profile] theprerogative.livejournal.com 2009-09-06 09:44 am (UTC)(link)
High praise. Thank you. It makes me insanely happy. /flings at.