Disclaimer: Katekyou Hitman Reborn! and all affiliated characters and settings are the creative property of Akira Amano, Shueisha, Weekly Shounen Jump, and any other companies holding the title to its license and distribution (VIZ Media, etc.). Used without permission for non-profitable entertainment purposes.

New fandom for me - KHR has just about consumed my soul of late. Dx I have a feeling there will be more crack!mafia fic to come.

This vignette was written for one of the monthly drabble contests involved in the larger Maxiumum Challenge Contest this year at MediaMiner. May's challenge was to write a story under 500 words with the theme of "lessons learned;" this is what I came up with. Somehow, this managed to tie for first place by reader vote. (Whut?)

Enjoy?


La Mia Famiglia, La Nostra Famiglia

Gokudera, you can't protect everyone.

It doesn't matter how many times Yamamoto tells him; he's going to try anyway, because as Tsuna's right hand man, it's his family that he's protecting. They're all Vongola, all part of his responsibility. There isn't a chance in Hell that he'll let Tsuna put himself in that role; he knows how that story will end, because they've had the rare chance to see the future.

And it's tearing him down, piece by piece, each time he sees one of the Vongola – one of Tsuna's, one of his – beaten, broken, dead, knowing that some day it could be Tsuna's coffin he's designing. Each and every face that he recognizes in the morgues is another chunk out of the pillar he's worked so hard to build under Tsuna, the shield that Gokudera hopes will hold when the future they saw becomes the present.

Yet, Gokudera can't seem to let enough go to trust anyone else with his.

"Ours."

A hand falls on his shoulder as he stands outside Ryohei's hospital room, and the hand is gentle and warm and he relaxes under it before he realizes that he's been spoken to – even more horrifying, he's voiced some of his own fears aloud. Tensing in embarrassment, he tries to shove Yamamoto's hand away, but he's lost so much sleep that he can't force Yamamoto to budge even an inch.

"Stay out of it, asshole. This is my problem."

The hand tightens around his shoulder, and the world spins against his will. Vongola's current battles have taken so much out of him, and he hasn't even realized it.

"You're an idiot, then, if you believe that even for one second," Yamamoto says evenly. "Do you really think you can single-handedly keep an eye on every single one of us, Hayato?"

"It's my job!"

Yamamoto spins Gokudera to face him, and Yamamoto's eyes are as serious and gentle as Gokudera's seen them be in a long while. "And it's mine to point out the fact that we're part of a family for a reason. What will happen to the family if you're not there to protect them?" Both hands are on Gokudera's shoulders now, giving them a firm shake. "These will break if you don't let me – us – take some of the burden."

Gokudera blinks as the words finally sink in, then looks away, having nothing to say in reply. There's nothing he can say, because Yamamoto is absolutely right, even if he feels like he's in elementary school again, being told how to share.

Yamamoto releases him, looking a little worn out himself, and Gokudera feels sheepish thinking that he's the only one capable of holding the title of Tsuna's second. Of course. Tsuna has two hands. Sighing, he lets Yamamoto lead him to the limo waiting outside the Vongola's private hospital. He won't be able to let go of everything right away, but Yamamoto is still right.

It's the only way they're going to survive.


fin.