Disclaimer: Katekyo 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.

A few quick things before I begin:

This is going to be a series of (mostly) unconnected one-shots and ficlets for a challenge I picked up over at the 30 Ballads LiveJournal challenge community. It's basically a place where you claim a pairing or a character from any fandom, and then choose one of several lists of 30 songs to use as prompts (either using the title or the lyrics). I chose a mixed theme, meaning I pick any 30 songs from the lists available, and claimed Gokudera Hayato from Katekyo Hitman Reborn.

Secondly, this is an entirely experimental style of writing for me, so any feedback would be awesome. X3

OH – before I forget – language and violence warning, probably for all fics here. Welcome to the mafia, guys!

Thank you for reading!

Track 01 – Tempesta di Sabbia
theme song: Sandstorm – Darude

A fierce wind blows, rattling the windowpanes and driving the trees into a high-pitched, creaking howl. The sounds of the raging storm permeate the room, its only occupant ignoring them as he taps his pencil against his large wooden desk in cadence with the tick tick tick of the antique Grandfather clock near the door. The tapping gets louder and more pronounced the longer he sits and stares at the papers scattered across the desk in front of him.

The timing – it's the timing that's bothering him. The summon to southeastern Italy during one of its coldest and windiest seasons, the fact that the Tenth's meeting with another family's boss is so late at night, the fact that Gokudera isn't there with them simply because he isn't welcome. He doesn't like how they speak Barese around him – goddamn it, Italian is my native language too, fuckers – and seem to be smug in the knowledge that he doesn't understand, except he does and the knowledge doesn't help his gut instinct. Or his mood.

So it's not entirely his fault that he doesn't trust their men – and besides, he didn't start the fight, but he sure as hell finished it. They should know better than to rile up Vongola the Tenth's right hand man.

Except now he's been exiled from the boss meeting over it, and of all people, the goddamned baseball freak is going in his place.

That, too – that irritates Gokudera even further, and he taps the pencil so hard against the desk now that it might break without him even noticing. Yamamoto hardly knows ten words in Italian; there's not a chance he would understand a word they're saying in Barese. And, need it be said again, Gokudera is not comfortable with the other family's current membership.

He's glaring down at the blueprints for the other family's estate (which is hosting them), scrutinizing the building where he knows Tsuna is meeting with the other boss, trying to find escape routes and other means by which he might be able to break in. The estate backs up against the Adriatic Sea, and the family has its own private coast guard just off shore.

... He needs a fucking smoke.

It's been a while since he's smoked – he cut back drastically on his tobacco intake once he realized that the second hand smoke might start affecting the Tenth's health – but right now, it's all he really wants because it's what he does when he's frustrated and pissed and really can't do anything else about it. Stress relief, he tells himself.

So he braves the wind and goes outside to smoke on the beach. Fuck anyone who comes up and tells him otherwise – he's got a stick of dynamite that says he has a goddamned right.

It's hard to light up in the wind, but after a few tries, the end of the stick glows a blood red in the dark. Hardly enough light to see by, but he doesn't need to see to know that he's being watched. Keenly. Like predators about to pounce.

He snorts a breath of derisive laughter around the end of the cigarette in his mouth, thinking that it's about fucking time for round two.

A fist flies at his face in the dark, and he's already sidestepped the first fool to come forward. There's a surprised grunt when Gokudera feels shins connect against his outstretched leg, followed by a sand-muffled thump when the attacker's body hits the beach. He's smirking, even though it's dark and they probably can't see much of his face even with the glowing end of the cigarette dangling from his lips.

There are a few angry mutters in the dark – nothing too loud, most of it muffled by wind – and there is a shuffling of feet in the sand around Gokudera as he stands there, eyes closed (not that having them open will make a difference in this light), listening. There are whispers in rapid Barese he doesn't quite catch, and two more suits come at him from separate ends.

With the quiet exhales of breath he barely hears over the wind as they put power behind their swings, there's something that isn't quite right about the way this goes down, and the thought forms a tight, worrisome knot in the pit of Gokudera's stomach. The more they swing – and miss – and stay silent – too damned quiet – the more the knot tightens in his stomach. And then it hits him like a bucket of cold water, because they're being far too careful about the noise level even though there's the wind and the sand and these men are on their own territory.

It clicks.

Traitors. This whole trip has to be a set-up, they're smack in the middle of it, the Tenth is compromised – yet again, his own foolishness – and the irritation from earlier turns to stark panic, cold like ice in his belly.

The wind stops, but he doesn't even notice as he pulls out a handful of miniature dynamite, lighting the ends with his still-burning cigarette. Half, he spreads almost entirely around him – the other half, he throws down into the sand. He guards his face with his forearms, remembering what Shamal has reminded him time and again (in not so many kind words) – he can't protect the Tenth if he can hardly protect himself – and quickly sidesteps the explosions, following the last safe path.

Something sharp slides against his side, and it stings as it passes but he can't see what it is in the dark. The cigarette almost drops from his mouth in surprise, but he grits his teeth when he sees the blade swinging towards him a second time, he twists to let it past, and grabs the arm carrying with a vice grip and twists until he can see the rest of the man trying to gut him with a stiletto. These guys are really stubborn, Gokudera notes, and that makes him worry even more because they might not want him to leave this place alive.

The Tenth is definitely in danger, he decides, and gives the arm another vicious twist until it's behind the man and the muscles and bones are torqued until they're about to snap. The man opens his mouth to scream, and Gokudera growls you should never have fucked with us just before he lights a stick of dynamite and shoves it between the man's lips, waiting until the fuse is almost gone before he drops the man's arm and dives away.

He doesn't look back to see the mess he leaving behind.

There's an open beach ahead of him, and he can see the lights on in the building where the Tenth is. Gokudera takes a step in that direction, staggers, and grits his teeth – he has to verify that nothing has been done yet to the Tenth. He can't help it; it's been almost eight years since they've returned from their own future, and Gokudera can't help but try to calculate the day that the attempt on Tsuna's life will take place. He's counting down, and every single meeting gone wrong becomes another suspicious event that will try to take the Tenth from him. He can't let that happen. That's all that matters to him at this point; fuck the inter-family politics that he's completely ignoring tonight.

There are grunts of pain behind him, and rapid, muffled footbeats against the sand force him to turn around again. He can't see in the dark, but he can hear – and he hears the man's yell moving in his direction. Stepping aside and ducking, the man's shoulder slams into his, and they both spin and fall to the ground. Gokudera gets his stability back first and slams the man into the ground, an arm pressing the man's throat down into the sand. His assailant swallows, the lump moving harshly against Gokudera's arm.

"What the fuck are you trying to pull?" Gokudera hisses. "Thought you guys were supposed to be making peace with ours."

The man's teeth are white enough to shine even in the dark as he smiles. "Y-You're just in the way of our goal," he says, and there's a predatory undertone in the man's voice that sends shivers down Gokudera's spine.

A small glint in the man's hands catches his attention, and Gokudera realizes that this time, it's not a knife or even a gun – it's a ring box, and there's a small green glow just before the box is all bright lights and crackling energy and paralyzing pain.

Fuckfuckfuck – Gokudera grits his teeth against the agonizing pressure building in his chest, rolls away and grabs a box from his own side and presses his ring into it. His most familiar box weapon wraps itself around his forearm, the skull at his wrist demanding ammunition in glowing crimson words. Pulling himself to his knees, he presses a stick of dynamite into the opening, eyes narrowing as he stares directly at his target and imagines a concentrated blast of red flame that immediately comes to life out of the skull's mouth. He uses one of Shamal's breathing techniques as he fires.

Again, Gokudera is grateful that Shamal – in not so many words or blatantly obvious ways – has helped him understand the box weapons, despite the fact that the man seems to hate the fact that he's helping someone not belonging to the fairer sex. Shamal's claim that he helps Gokudera in the hope that he'll get closer to Bianchi is a weak one at best. Gokudera isn't stupid, nor does he truly understand the reason behind Shamal's assistance, but he's grateful.

All that's left of the other man is smoke and ash and sand, swirling in the air before it settles. Gokudera shudders as he tries to stand – he didn't notice when he'd fallen to his knees – and takes a deep breath, wincing as remnant pain flashes through his chest and side.

"Hayato!" he hears distantly, and he swears his heart stops, because that voice is the only one he wants to hear right now.

"T-Tenth!" he says hoarsely, eyes seeking and finding both Tsuna and Yamamoto standing just outside the building.

He takes a deep breath as he tries not to choke on the bubble of relief that's making its way up the back of his throat. By the look on the Tenth's face, he knows he's probably in trouble, but he doesn't care right now. The Tenth is here, alive, but still in danger, and he can't drop his guard yet. Instead, he forces himself to his feet, and – one glance at the enemy boss standing just feet away from his family is all it takes for something in him to snap.

With a snarl, he lunges forward and pushes Tsuna aside as he grabs the other family's head man and slams him against the side of the building.

"What the fuck are you trying to pull?" he roars in Italian, repeating the same question he asked an earlier subordinate and entirely ignoring Tsuna's startled pleas for him to stop, shrugging off Yamamoto's hand on his shoulder and not quite succeeding. "The Tenth insisted we come here on the good faith that your family would not attack ours, despite every insistence of mine that your family is trouble. God, I was so fucking stupid to let him pull the blinders over his own eyes – give me one fucking good reason why I shouldn't just kill you right now!"

He's gasping for breath after this, because his injuries are a little more serious than he'd like to admit, and they're starting to catch up with his sore body. The boss' expression is one of pure shock, then anger, then confusion as Gokudera yells in his face, and he slumps.

"I'm sorry," is all he says, and his eyes can't meet Gokudera's. Gokudera blinks in surprise and almost drops the man, but then the words sink in and now he's pissed.

"You! You fucking planned this, didn't you?" he snaps.

The boss' eyes meet his, and Gokudera can't ignore the sadness in them – it nearly swallows him, and his grip loosens, but the other boss doesn't make any move to escape.

"Gokudera, what the hell are you doing?" Tsuna's voice insists, and it's sharp enough to almost hurt. But Gokudera can't stop this now. "Put that man down, now!"

"I didn't," the boss says, also ignoring Tsuna entirely and focusing entirely on Gokudera. "But I did know that some of my men did not like what you Vongola stand for. I didn't realize that their hatred ran this deep. I'm sorry – I should have stopped them."

Gokudera isn't sure what to say to that, because he can tell that the man isn't lying – Gokudera can usually pick up a lie kilometers away, and he feels no deception in this man's words. Gritting his teeth in frustration, he slams one hand into the wall next to the man's head before he lets go and drops to his knees and fists in the sand, shaking as he presses his forehead to the ground.

This could have been it, is all he can think, and his mind is whirling so violently around relief and guilt and frustration and pain that he can't pull it together.

Yamamoto's large, calloused hand falls on his back, and Gokudera hates how much it's helping him harness his mind's roar into something less painful and confusing. Distantly, Tsuna and the other boss are talking apologetically – it sounds like the Tenth is finally, finally no longer in danger – and orders are being yelled for a medic.

Funny, Gokudera thinks with a snort. Dead men don't need medical attention, but then one look at Yamamoto's frown informs him that he's said that aloud.

"It's not for them, Gokudera," is all Yamamoto says, and he looks positively worried. It's then that Gokudera remembers he's probably covered in blood and sand and burns.

"Don't need one," he insists, but his body won't stop shaking and he's feeling light-headed and woozy when he tries to straighten and he's going to–

There are muffled voices above him, a hand on his forehead, and the ground under his back jolts his body every so often. They're moving somewhere, and he thinks he's on a stretcher but can't seem to find the energy to open his eyes. He still smells salt and fish and feels crisp, cool air on his face – they're still near the beach, or on it – and he hears a low whistle as they travel.

"God, I'm glad he's on our side," a voice – Gokudera recognizes it as one of their own – says admirably.

"Sawada, remind me to never piss off your right hand man," the other boss' voice says in heavily accented Japanese, his voice low. They're looking at the destruction on the beach, Gokudera realizes, and it warms him, oddly, to feel recognized. It makes any pain worth bearing just to know that he's doing what he sets out to accomplish – ensuring the Tenth's safety at any cost.

It warms him even further when he hears Tsuna's voice – and there is pride in those words, "He's the Guardian of Storm, after all."

end track

Err, more to come? 8D Again, feedback is the most awesome of all awesome sauces!