Disclaimer: -(Insert witty way of saying I own absolutely nothing here)-

CHAPTER EIGHT:

In A Haze

Beep...

Beep...

Beep...

Beep...

The only thing that could be heard in the suffocatingly white hospital room was the methodical ticks of a heart monitor. A young girl sat up straight in her bed, dull hazel eyes staring into the otherwise empty room before her. Flowers, balloons, and toys lined the open spaces of the room - but she saw none of it. Really, she saw nothing anymore.

"Physically, they say nothing is wrong with her. Yet... she's barely gotten any better... I don't - " the voice of the girl's mother carried in from the hallway. For some reason her mommy sounded so sad. The girl tried to feel sympathy, but the emotion like all others she tried to call upon lately stayed somewhere just out of reach.

"I know," came the gruff response of the girl's father as he embraced his wife. "There's a doctor I know that might be able to help, but it's somewhat risky."

"Anything," the mother replied quickly, her voice breaking. "Anything to help my little girl."

-Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ-

"You okay, Tsuna?" Yamamoto asked the brunette suddenly, bringing the girl back to reality. Tsuna blinked hazily, her mind still drifting as if it were away at sea.

"I'm... alright," Tsuna strained out eventually, her voice instantly betraying her. Gokudera frowned deeply from beside the raven haired boy. It was obvious in his stormy green orbs that he was frustrated, and beyond that worried.

"If there's something wrong, Juudaime, you can tell me," Gokudera insisted, a fierce intensity flaring in his eyes. "I'll take care of whatever it is." Yamamoto seemed to have the same sentiment, as he was bobbing his head in agreement.

Tsuna only smiled wistfully at her friends though. Unfortunately, there wasn't anything truly wrong to fix in the first place. Ever since she met with a certain doctor she couldn't shake this feeling that something was off. Sure, Doctor Shamal had saved her life, but what happened afterwards was strange.

Now, Tsuna was used to strange. Having a Home Tutor with a happy trigger finger, and constant interruptions from strangers with vendettas made it a daily occurrence - but this was different.

At first the doctor had insisted that he didn't work on guys, yet succumbed so easily when Tsuna asked. Which immediately of course seemed odd, but considering she had only several minutes to live at the time it hardly mattered. But, the thing that truly made her uncomfortable was the fact that she couldn't remember anything after going upstairs with the older man.

One second she was opening the door to her bedroom, and the next - she was waking up on the floor. Completely freaked out, she tried to wake Reborn to ask him what happened, but that had only ended with a few new blossoming bruises. When the toddler did finally return to the land of consciousness though he filled her in.

Apparently the disease had drained more out of Tsuna than they thought it would and she passed out after treatment. As much as she trusted Reborn something just didn't sit right with her. Maybe it was the shadowed look in his dark eyes, but she sensed something there - pity maybe?

Heaving a sigh, Tsuna flopped back onto the warm tiles of the roof. Originally, she had escaped to the roof for lunch to avoid all of the annoying guys in her class, but her body guards had soon sniffed her out. It wasn't like she didn't enjoy their company or anything, but when she was already feeling so odd to begin with adding her little panic attacks on top of it didn't seem like the most intelligent of ideas.

Plus, the whole passing out every other day thing wasn't something she particularly loved.

"Ciaossu!" Reborn squeaked from above Tsuna. The brunette groaned, pushing back into a sitting position.

"Do you need something?" she croaked, still rather distracted.

"We're going to make a hideout for the family," Reborn replied curtly. Despite how excited her friends seemed to be at the prospect though, Tsuna grimaced. More than anything she just wanted today to be a normal day. By the time the girl had enough sense to veto the project, they were already deciding where to put it.

"We'll use the Reception Room," Reborn told them definitively. "It's rarely used, and the location is ideal."

"We can start by rearranging the desks," Yamamoto smiled excitedly.

"I don't care, as long as I'm to the right of Juudaime," Gokudera insisted, which of course fired up yet another debate. Tsuna glowered from one boy to the other.

As much as she loved her friends they only enabled Reborn antics.

-Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ-

Once they made it to Reception Room though, Tsuna had to admit it actually wasn't half bad. The room itself was immaculate, having not a single spot of dirt across the entire surface. Even plush leather furniture filled the room. All in all, it was more than she could have hoped for. But if there was anything Tsuna was sure of - this room was most definitely not abandoned.

In fact, someone was lounging against one of the couches at that very moment.

"Who are you?" the boy asked, his chin inclining slightly. He had shaggy charcoal black hair, and intense yet oddly aloof silver eyes. After the surprise of seeing him wore off however Tsuna recognized him instantly.

Hibari Kyoya.

The leader of the infamously merciless Disciplinary Committee. The whole group was known as nothing more than a group of delinquents ruled by their supposedly terrifying President. This was Tsuna's first time seeing him up close though, and honestly he seemed different than she thought he'd be. He was definitely a lot skinnier - like a small animal... well a feral small animal anyway.

Despite herself though, the brunette had to admit he had an oddly attractive aura to him. It was almost as if Hibari was surrounded by a magnetic force that demanded her attention. How weird...

"Would you put out your cigarette in front of the Disciplinary Committee President?" Hibari tilted his head, eyes intently on the smoke coiling from Gokudera's cigarette. "No matter, I won't let you get away."

"What the hell, asshole?" the silver haired boy spat back. Yamamoto lifted a hand to stop him from arguing, but it was too late. Faster than any of their eyes could follow, Hibari slashed at the cigarette, subsequently slicing it in half.

Tsuna stared, her hazel orbs wide, as tonfas spun to stuttering halt in his hands. She hadn't even seen Hibari pull the weapons out, much less swing them.

"I really hate weak herbivores that form groups," Hibari narrowed his eyes at the three teens. "Whenever I see them I really want to bite them to death."

Tsuna wanted to protest that she was actually kind of forced into the group, but the words hitched in her throat as he thrust forward. The brunette's body instantly recoiled as the dark haired boy closed in, and she dropped out of the way just as the tonfa sliced the air where her face had been.

"Woah!" Tsuna exclaimed as she scrambled out of the way. The prefect quirked one thin eyebrow, but his attention was quickly diverted.

"I'll kill you, bastard!" Gokudera seethed as he jumped in the way, bombs already in hand. Hibari only seemed amused at the interruption though.

"One down," Hibari stated simply, slamming a tonfa directly into Gokudera's kidney. The silver haired boy went down with a thump, but he was soon replaced by Yamamoto.

Hibari's grey orbs narrowed irritably, as he still wanted to bite Tsuna to death, but he didn't mind another challenger.

Thankfully for the prefect though, Yamamoto put up quite the interesting challenge. On reflexes alone, Yamamoto coolly dodged every swing that came his way. Hibari watched the other raven haired boy with renewed interest, though it was obvious he was only toying with the athlete.

The whole scene however made Tsuna's stomach quiver. As much as she wanted to root for her friend, being around the guys for so long was making her absolutely sick. Swallowing back the sudden metallic taste in her mouth, the brunette hesitantly got to her feet, intent on getting away somehow.

"That makes two," Hibari hissed as he finished off the other boy with a kick. "Now, back to you." The prefect's eyes settled back on Tsuna, a lazy smirk perched on his lips.

Sighing, the girl turned around, ready to accept whatever beating was coming her way. How much worse could it be than the beatings she'd been getting lately anyway? Though, she had gotten most of those when she was under the influence of the Dying Will bullet...

Forcing her back to reality, Hibari launched forward at her once again, tonfas twirling manically in his closed fists. Tsuna tensed for the contact, balling her hands tightly at her sides. But just like before the second he got even remotely close to her, Tsuna's body reacted of it's own volition.

Shivers raked Tsuna's petite form as she darted out of the way. Feelings of actual terror began to course through her veins, and the brunette did all she could to quell the sudden erratic beating of her heart.

Hibari only seemed more enthralled by her narrow escapes however. "Interesting," the prefect sneered, diving at Tsuna again. Fruitlessly, she tried to calm herself once more, but with every inch he advanced her breathing got even more out of control. Finally, she crumpled to the floor, unable to take the proximity anymore.

"Don't touch me!" Tsuna snapped, her voice breaking as she choked back tears. "Please, just don't."

For the first time in awhile the brunette felt actual fear, though it wasn't for getting hurt. No, all she wanted was to be able to retain her sense of self. Ever since she allowed herself to get involved with other people, Tsuna felt as if she had slowly started fading away. Every time she passed out, it felt as if another piece of her had been chipped away.

Not again... she didn't want it to happen again.

Luckily, just as Hibari lifted his tonfa, a certain toddler appeared in the open window of the Reception Room. "Die," Reborn said simply, as he lifted his gun and pulled the trigger.

As she died though, Tsuna regretted not being able to fight Hibari without letting him touch her...

-Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ-

"You were amazing, Juudaime!" Gokudera exclaimed, the group finally settled back on the roof. "That prefect couldn't even lay a hand on you."

The brunette blushed at the praise, though she couldn't help the hollow feeling forming in her chest. Sure, in the end Hibari never actually hit her, but that had all been thanks to the Dying Will bullet. Not to mention when she dodged in the first place that had only been her body reacting on it's own. Technically, she hadn't done anything of merit.

"Sorry I couldn't protect you," Yamamoto apologized after a moment, his dark brows furrowed. "I was right there, but couldn't do a thing."

"Don't worry about it," Tsuna responded quickly. "I'm not hurt, see?" The brunette pointed to her face, which was clean of marks - much unlike her friends. "If anything, I should be apologizing to you."

Yamamoto opened his mouth to respond, only to close it a second later.

"You should feel lucky you guys left with only bruises and scratches," Reborn admonished, breaking the silence. "It was a dangerous bet though - "

"Wait," Tsuna groaned, pinching the bridge of her nose. "You orchestrated that whole meeting didn't you?"

Reborn gave her an amused smirk. "You guys need real battle experience to keep you from being peaceful idiots," Reborn explained candidly. "Actually engaging in battle is the best way to train."

With an exaggerated sigh, Tsuna slumped onto the tile. "I went through all that for... training?" she whimpered. "What do I need all of this training for anyway?"

"For the Mafia," Reborn replied dryly.

"Oh yeah, how could I ever forget?" Tsuna remarked, her voice dripping with sarcasm. Though, honestly she kind of did.

-Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ-

As more days passed, Tsuna still couldn't shake the odd feeling looming over her. Ever since the run-in with Doctor Shamal, the brunette didn't have a single nightmare. She didn't really dream period, but it was still pretty disconcerting for them to suddenly disappear. Despite that though, she wasn't too sure if Shamal was directly related. In the past her nightmares had gone away and come back, but for some reason this felt different - more permanent.

So, maybe that's why she didn't quite realize what was happening around her until she heard someone scream her name.

"It's decided then!" Ryohei declared at the front of the room. "The leader for the Pole Knocking is Sawada Tsuna!"

Somewhat disoriented, Tsuna warily glanced up. "W-what?"

"Congrats, Juudaime," Gokudera gave her an encouraging grin.

"No, seriously - what's going on?" Tsuna demanded, feeling the intensity of the eyes around her. "And why is everybody staring at me?"

Yamamoto chuckled, his award winning smile wide on his face. "Daydreaming again? You've been doing that a lot lately." Tsuna grimaced guiltily, locking her fingers nervously in her lap. She hadn't realized her friends noticed she had been zoning out so much.

"Well anyway," Gokudera started, sending Yamamoto a quick glare for upsetting her. "Turf-top over there stepped down as leader of Team A, and nominated you as his replacement. Isn't that awesome?"

"Yeah, awesome," Tsuna sighed, resting her chin on the desk in front of her. Normally, the brunette would find a way out of these types of events. They were the absolute worst with her problem. So many boys crowded in such a tight space, all attacking each other to get to the leader - and they wanted her to be in the middle of it. Albeit she'd technically be on top of it, that didn't change the fact that guys would be literally fighting to get ahold of her.

No way in hell was she going to subject herself to that torture.

Despite what she wanted though, Tsuna knew that no matter what she said Ryohei probably wouldn't take back his resignation. If it came down to it she was willing to just ditch out, and let the team figure it out themselves. Team A wouldn't mind anyway, considering their never ending glares, they'd likely be ecstatic.

Not to mention it would be a step towards getting Tsuna's old reputation back. Of course, she didn't want to let down her friends but most of the people she would be letting down hated her to begin with. Well, maybe not hate per se, but at the very least they didn't have high expectations.

As much as she wished she could just not care about it all, she felt bad. It was basically the volleyball tournament all over again...

-Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ-

Over the course of the next few hours everyone in their own way made Tsuna feel worse about her plan. After some deliberation she decided faking a cold would be the best route, so that way no one could really blame her for not wanting to go - but that soon went out the door. Not only were Yamamoto and Gokudera excited about the competition but even Kyoko and Haru couldn't hide their anticipation. Reborn also threatened to kill her, but that wasn't really too out of the ordinary.

So, when her friends eventually approached her about practicing for tomorrow Tsuna couldn't say no.

"Okay, time to climb up, Sawada!" Ryohei exclaimed enthusiastically as he set the practice pole onto the ground.

Tsuna blinked. "I don't think I can, Onii-chan," the brunette mumbled, eyeing the precarious height of the pole. There was definitely no way she was going to be able to do this. Whether it was just practice or the actual competition, she simply didn't have the strength.

"That's no way to talk!" Ryohei insisted. "It's all about spirit! Climb with your spirit to the extreme!"

Before Tsuna could even dignify him with a response Gokudera piped in. "If you keep harassing Juudaime like that, I'll kick your ass, Turf-top."

"Do it if you can, Octopus-head," Ryohei challenged back. Tsuna stifled a laugh. Which of course, sent Gokudera into a blind rage.

"I'll kill you!" the silver haired boy screamed, along with a few other profanities that Tsuna tried her best to block out. Gokudera dove forward, only to be pulled back by Yamamoto. The athlete struggled to hold him still, but after a few moments Gokudera shrugged him off, back to normal.

"I agree with Sasagawa," Reborn chimed in, forcing them to refocus. The Hitman aimed his gun at his student, obviously impatient at the ordeal.

"Is that really necess - " Tsuna sputtered before being cut off by a bullet to the face.

-Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ-

When Tsuna finally had control over her actions again she was gripping the pole tightly as it wobbled beneath her. There were even explosions going off on the ground below. "Uh - guys?" Tsuna called down, her stomach undulating with every swing.

"Sorry, Tsuna!" Yamamoto shouted up, the only one left supporting her as the others were in the midst of a ridiculous squabble. Sweat covered the raven haired boy's face as he attempted to steady the pole, but to no avail. "You're gonna fall!"

"What?!" Tsuna screeched as she was finally bucked off the top. Luckily, they practiced near the river so she didn't, you know, splatter to death. Unfortunately though, the brunette hadn't the slightest inkling how to swim, and wearing chest binding made it near impossible.

Panic quickly overtook her as she struggled against the slight current. Water went up her nose and down her throat, seeping slowly into her lungs. Somewhere far off she heard her friends shouting after her - everything else forgotten, but their words fell on deaf ears. Tsuna's body burned violently at the lack of oxygen, and in what seemed like a matter of milliseconds she was utterly submerged in the murky water.

Tearing off his shirt, Yamamoto rocketed off into the water, Gokudera jumping in right after him. Ryohei also followed suit, but he wasn't the most talented of swimmers so he didn't get very far. The raven haired boy reached Tsuna first, as his long limbs made him nimble in the water. Scooping the brunette up bridal style, Yamamoto carried her dead weight back to the shore with the help of Gokudera.

When they finally got Tsuna back to solid ground though, the three boys had no idea what to do.

"I know CPR!" Ryohei shoved the other two guys out of the way. The boxer was a certified Life Guard during the Summers, although he was never truly trained he'd at least seen others do CPR before. Plugging her nose, Ryohei bent down and gushed as much air into her mouth as he could. When he went do chest compressions though, Gokudera lifted a hand to stop him.

"Juudaime has chest problems, you could seriously hurt him if you do that," Gokudera furrowed his brows, unsure of what else they could do.

"Let me," Reborn, still dressed as Master PaoPao, piped in. The toddler swiftly pounded his fist into the middle of his student's chest. Water sputtered out of her mouth, and Tsuna sprang up with a gasp. Yamamoto let out a breath he hadn't realized he was holding, while Gokudera plopped to the ground with a sigh.

Fluttering open, Tsuna's hazel eyes darted to each boy before a deep blush took over her face. "W-what happened?... and w-why're you guys sh-shirtless?"

The raven haired boy glanced down like he forgot, then shrugged. "A shirt would have only got in the way."

"Well that answers one of my questions I guess," Tsuna huffed, as she surreptitiously slid away from the group. The brunette was wet, cold and it felt like she had been doused in acid.

"You almost drowned, Juudaime," Gokudera exclaimed after a beat, crouching into a dogeza. "I'm so sorry! If only I had held onto the pole you wouldn't have gone into the river! Turf-top attacked me, and I expected the baseball idiot to hold out longer than that!"

"Your cigarette was effecting my health!" Ryohei defended himself, which spiraled into yet another fight between the two. Yamamoto on the other hand sat with his head lowered, his lips in a firm line. Tsuna wondered why the raven haired boy was always so hard on himself, especially when it came to protecting her but wasn't really sure what to do about it.

"Hey guys," Tsuna called over their bickering. "I just want to say... Thank you for saving me."

Gokudera scratched the back of his neck sheepishly. "Of course, Juudaime." Ryohei blushed rapidly as well, before looking away, slightly embarrassed of his actions. Yamamoto on the other hand still looked guilty, but attempted a smile.

"I'm sorry though," Tsuna sighed, pushing herself up from the ground. "I'm not going to participate in the Pole Knocking tomorrow." Regardless that she didn't want to go in the first place, this had completely solidified the fact. No matter how much she trusted her friends, if they couldn't even hold her up how was she supposed to avoid being touched by all of the other guys during the competition?

"Juudaime," Gokudera pleaded. "I'll prove myself tomorrow, I swear it."

"Yeah," Yamamoto agreed. "We won't let you fall. Just give us another chance."

"We'll hold you up to the extreme!" Ryohei added, punching the air.

Tsuna heaved a sigh, lifting her hands in defeat. If she ditched the event now, her friends would think it had to do with her trust in them. "I give, I give," she conceded. "But you better not let anyone get to me."

-Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ-

When Tsuna woke up the next day she immediately felt awful. Hesitantly, the brunette brought a hand to her forehead, only to find it scorching hot to the touch. Of course after she finally decided to drop her idiotic plan she actually got sick. Who would have thought nearly drowning in a dirty river could make a person so sick?

Ignoring the dizziness overtaking her, Tsuna slowly pushed up from her makeshift bed. Albeit sluggishly, Tsuna went about her normal morning routine. As much as she wanted to just stay in bed, she knew it was too late to back out of the competition now. Too many of her friends were relying on her, and even though there were plenty of people wishing she wouldn't show up - she had to.

"Good morning, leader!" Nana exclaimed as her daughter made her way down the stairs. Tsuna stopped short, noticing that the kitchen was full of life. Nana, Bianchi and Haru were all bustling about cooking lunch for the group.

"Haru?" Tsuna arced an eyebrow at the girl. "What're you doing here?"

The other girl swooned at the attention. "As your future wife, Haru wanted to learn and make all of your favorite foods. Mama helped~"

Tsuna narrowed her eyes at her mother, who only smiled back mischievously. Nana didn't pull any punches when it came to pressuring her daughter into dropping the cross-dressing act.

"Fine," Tsuna huffed after a minute, not in the mood to argue. "I guess I'll see you later."

-Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ-

As the day progressed though Tsuna's condition only continued to get worse. The fever was making her absolutely delirious, and she even developed a pretty nasty cough. There was no way something too serious could have developed overnight, but she was still somewhat concerned.

"Oh, Tsuna-kun, wait up!" someone called after the brunette, breaking her from her daze. Tsuna glanced over her shoulder to see Kyoko sprinting after her.

"H-hey, Kyoko-chan," Tsuna waved limply.

"I made this for you," Kyoko presented a leader's headband with writing etched onto the front. "I stitched your name into it."

"Thank yo - " Tsuna tried to say as she accepted the gift, but was interrupted by a hacking fit.

"Woah, are you okay, Tsuna-kun?" Kyoko asked worriedly, her eyes wide.

"I'm fine," Tsuna responded after it calmed down again. "Just a small cough, no worries."

"Alright," Kyoko assented, though her eyes still held concern. "Well, I'll be rooting for you and Onii-chan today!"

Tsuna sighed, closing her eyes which were throbbing rather intensely. Now there truly was no way she could back out of the competition...

-Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ-

Even just a few minutes into the Athletic Festival Tsuna was already at her limit. Thankfully, the boys and girls were separated for the most part so all she had to do was hover more towards the girl's side - but even that turned sour after fangirls began to swarm her with questions about Yamamoto and Gokudera. It seemed the rumors about the three of them had been escalating as of late.

"I - uh - should go," Tsuna darted away from the group of girls. "Yamamoto will be running soon and I promised to watch." Some of the girls squealed at the mention of the athlete, while the others, particularly the ones with Gokudera's face painted on their signs, frowned dejectedly. The brunette apologized sheepishly, before completely breaking free from them.

The first few events of the Festival went by in a blur, especially considering Tsuna could barely tell what was happening. Of course Yamamoto won his race, which was actually somewhat surprising since he even outran the track members, but the brunette didn't have nearly as much luck. Once it was finally Tsuna's turn to participate in the Pogo event she immediately tipped over, smashing her face flat on the ground. Looks like her equilibrium was shot as well...

"Good idea, Juudaime!" Gokudera praised her with a sly smirk as she rejoined the group. "Saving your strength for the Pole Knocking event!"

"I really wasn't - " Tsuna tried to explain, but Ryohei barged into the conversation, subsequently cutting her off. The boxer raucously lectured her for dishonoring Team A, but again before she had the chance to respond Gokudera came to her defense. Which, of course ended with the two hot heads clobbering each other.

"Team infighting, eh?" a slobbering voice sneered, causing the two to freeze. "Pole Knocking is all about team work - looks like we have nothing to fear from Team A after all." Rather than shaking the competition like he meant to though, the captain of Team C only directed the violent attention of Ryohei and Gokudera. At least the two were finally working together.

But, much with how her luck was going today, Tsuna got solely blamed for taking out the other leader. "What did you do to our captain?!" an uproar from Team C broke out. The brunette paled as the giant group of guys formed angrily around her. This was exactly the type of situation she had hoped to avoid.

"I'll take any of you assholes on," Gokudera seethed through his cigarette.

"Bring it on to the extreme!" Ryohei chimed in, already in a boxing stance.

Despite her friends' enthusiasm to fight however, the crowd ebbed stronger with their every word. Dizziness from both her cold and the proximity to such an insane amount of guys made Tsuna's stomach broil viciously. Any more of this and she was going to lose her breakfast.

"Everyone, wait just a minute!" a random student piped above the crowd. "The leader of Team B just got knocked out as well! An eye witness says they saw the leader from Team A do it!"

Tsuna gaped incredulously as the mob size doubled, every single glare reserved specifically for her. "You guys saw me the whole time," she struggled to reason with them, looking positively green. "I never left this spot." Some of Team B turned reproachful, but that was soon quelled as the eye witness came to give his testimony.

"The one who attacked the leader of Team B, was none other than Sawada Tsuna," Reborn, disguised as an old man, accused with an upraised finger pointed directly at her.

Traitor! Tsuna wanted to shout, but didn't trust herself enough to speak. At this rate, not only was she going to pass out, but she probably wouldn't even survive the day.

-Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ-

Eventually, to settle the debate of whether or not Team A should be disqualified for 'underhanded trickery', as the other teams put it, delegates from each class were selected to represent their team. Tsuna truly feared for the worst. With their most eccentric member speaking for them, Team A was doomed to fall to Ryohei's enthusiasm.

Despite the supposedly peaceful discussion however, that didn't stop people from swarming Tsuna during the lunch break. The aggressors even took to hitting on Haru and Bianchi, which annoyed Tsuna to litterally no end - but the idiots soon got what was coming to them when they accepted some chocolate from Bianchi. It was honestly the only time Tsuna felt thankful for the older girl's existence, but that lasted a whole minute before Tsuna realized she had been blamed for that as well.

"Upon debating with the representatives " a voice crackled over the loud speaker. "This year's Pole Knocking event will be Team A versus a Team B and C combination!"

The roar heard throughout the courtyard was absolutely deafening.

For years Tsuna had tried her best to never start waves with people at school - to go completely unnoticed. Yet somehow in a matter of hours she managed to not only get everyone's attention, but get over half the school to hate her guts as well. Productive day so far if she did say so herself.

As if all that wasn't enough a certain Disciplinary Committee President took it upon himself to be the leader for the new combined team. By the time he was poised at the top of the pole, the group just looked like one beast riding on top of another. The vast difference in group sizes was ridiculously noticeable as well. Team A didn't have even the slightest of chances.

Trying her best to ignore the shivers that ran the length of her spine, Tsuna steadily made her way up the pole. Just get this over with and you can get away from the guys. The brunette chanted to herself with every step, but the added effect of her cold only made the climbing that much more difficult.

After Tsuna finally painstakingly reached the top, an eerie silence passed the grounds.

"GO!" everyone shouted simultaneously, destroying the hush as all hell broke loose.

To say Team A got decimated in a matter of seconds would be a vast understatement. That wasn't to say they didn't fight valiantly or anything, but the 2 to 1 ratio definitely showed. Despite the utterly instantaneous defeat, Tsuna had to admit she was proud of her friends. All of them were taking on five or more guys at a time, but even they eventually crumpled when wave after wave of replacements crashed into them.

As the pole beneath her began to sway, the brunette knew it would only be a matter of seconds before someone would come to tear her down. If she didn't die from them ripping her apart, she'd likely die of shock. "I should have just stayed in bed," Tsuna muttered as the first guy reached for her ankle.

Pulling her feet up onto the small stool at the top of the pole, Tsuna closed her eyes and attempted to block out everything around her. Maybe if she pretended she wasn't here she would magically appear back at home, in her bed... Or maybe all of this was just a really bad fever dream... She could have also died in the river yesterday, and this was all just some cosmic retribution showing her what she missed...

But sadly, when she opened her eyes again, the hungry looks of the boys clawing up was all that greeted her. Just when Tsuna was finally ready to submit to reality however, the familiar sound of a gunshot rang above the massive noise below her.

-Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ-

When Tsuna finally came to, she was underneath the sheets of a stiff bed she didn't recognize. Blinking away the bleariness in her hazel eyes, the first thing she saw was the wide smile on Gokudera's face.

"Juudaime!" he exclaimed happily, though there was a hint of worry in his voice.

"What happened?" she croaked, her voice hoarser than she thought it would be. The brunette noted numbly how often she had to ask that question lately. It seemed she was either fainting or getting so lost in her thoughts that she missed something important - like getting nominated for something she really didn't want to be a part of. The idea kind of scared her since it showed a lack of control, but for some reason she couldn't force herself to dwell on it too much.

"Well, we kind of lost the Pole Knocking," Gokudera admitted sheepishly after a moment. "But right after it ended you passed out from a fever. Why didn't you tell me you were sick?"

Tsuna blinked. "I - uh - didn't want to let you guys down." It was then that Tsuna noticed all of her friends were packed into the room as well. Gokudera was of course the closest but behind him stood Yamamoto and Ryohei. Even Reborn, in his Master PaoPao costume, was perched in a nearby window sill. The brunette grimaced deeply. She really needed to stop worrying her friends like this. Sooner or later they'd think she was some sort of invalid - if they already didn't.

"I'm sorry for worrying everyone... again," Tsuna looked away guiltily. This was just yet another reason why she shouldn't associate with other people.

"Don't be sorry," Yamamoto replied quickly, stealing Tsuna's usual line from when he apologized.

"Yeah," Ryohei agreed, for once at a loss for words.

Tsuna opened her mouth to respond, but was cut off by the sound of a familiar voice.

"As much as I love having guys in my office, would you all please clear out so there's more room for cute girl patients to stay?" Doctor Shamal asked, or more accurately, demanded them.

Tsuna felt a twinge in the back of her mind at the sound of his voice, but attributed it to the fever, which was very much so still raging. Despite that though, Tsuna smiled lightly at the sight of her friends. Even if she was just a shell of a person that barely remembered anything in her life, she had a reason to be happy. No matter what happened in her past, no matter who she thought she should be - she finally had people that cared about her.

And really, why did she need anything else?

-Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ-


Author's Note: That chapter took forever and a day to write. Seriously, I'm so sorry for the late update. I originally didn't want to include the Pole Knocking scenes, but I figured why the hell not? I tried to add my own twist on it, though I didn't want to change too much of the craziness as whatever I could come up with would probably only come off as a shallow imitation.

(P.S. if you're sensing something off or weird in this story it's probably intentional so just go with it.)

Thank you though to all the lovely people that are reviewing, favoriting and alerting this story. You guys are the best morale boosters ever ಌ