Notes: Inspired by a piece of fanart on this site: http: / /pulla. xii. jp/kuro (remove formatting). This fic is made of ffffflufffffff.
Tsuna had been off with Lambo a few minutes too long, and Gokudera couldn't bear the undiluted good-natured idiocy beaming off Haru and Yamamoto anymore.
"I'm going to see what's keeping the Tenth." He stood up from their table at the little restaurant. "Baseball idiot, you stay and - and watch the women and children!"
"There's only one of each," Yamamoto said, laughing like Gokudera was the world's best comedian; "As if I-Pin and Haru need watching, Gokudera-san!" Haru huffed, but he'd already turned and they were talking at his back. It had been a long day - not a bad one, but long, and he was looking forward to eating and then going to his flat.
Damn cow, he thought idly, retracing the steps the group had taken. Lambo was going through a phase where he had to stop at any pet store he passed and play with puppies, and Tsuna had chosen to indulge him this time.
Gokudera wasn't at all surprised when he heard a commotion ahead - barking, yelling, and awfully familiar tearful wails. Damn cow! Maybe they ought to let him get sold at one of those pet stores...
He'd lit a cigarette and had a handful of dynamite ready as he barged through the people milling around the noise. A couple of what sounded like Lambo's little grenades went off, and people shrieked, one in a very familiar voice.
"Tenth!" At last Gokudera spotted his boss and the brat in a throng of animals and the people trying to catch them. Lambo was bawling and had the Ten-Year Bazooka out, no surprise, but that was a blessing since his older self was an easier kind of idiot to deal with. But as Lambo thrust the thing into his face a Labrador barrelled into his back; Lambo fell, arms around the bazooka trigger, and there was a bang and another familiar shriek...
Gokudera's brain latched onto figuring that out so fast that it left no power for his legs, and he stumbled to a halt. He peered into the smoke, breath suddenly shallow, and blushed to the roots of his hair as the air cleared to reveal a man in a suit.
A young man, not very tall - but definitely tall enough! With shorter, neater hair, and a comfortable way of wearing his two-piece suit, shirt untucked and tie not too tight. Broader shoulders, and an alertness in his stance that would mean trouble for anyone trying to sneak up. Gokudera grinned proudly as he jogged closer.
Tsuna was obviously bewildered. He scanned the area, thrusting one hand inside his jacket to an inner pocket. His face lit up with grim relief when he saw Gokudera.
"Gokudera! What was that explo...sion..." He stared at Gokudera, then took the hand out from his jacket and held it a bit above his own forehead. He brought it down level to the top of Gokudera's head, and then took it back up and looked at the gap. "Gokudera ... from ten years earlier? Was it the Ten Year Bazooka?"
Gokudera tried to tell him that he'd guessed correctly, but his mouth wouldn't cooperate; it kept opening and shutting as he noticed things. Is that a scar? he thought, and He's standing so straight.
"TSU-NA!" Lambo positively flew at them, colliding with Tsuna's thigh. "They're gunna eat me!"
"Oh, Lambo. Every damn time," Tsuna muttered, and took the kid in his arms.
"No, Tenth, he'll get snot on your suit! Brat, get away!" Gokudera said. He realised that technically those were now the first words he'd ever said to the man who was officially the boss - or officially in the future, anyway... At least he was being helpful, right?
"Thanks, but it's fine." Tsuna expertly slipped a sweet into Lambo's mouth and shut up most of the crying. "Like I said, this happens just about every time."
"M'not a cry baby," Lambo said around his toffee, nestling in Tsuna's embrace.
Tsuna rolled his eyes, grinning at Gokudera. He was so mature and relaxed - and the blush came back, rolling up the back of Gokudera's neck and heating the shells of his ears.
Tsuna's expression changed. It went ... soft, looking so dopy that for a second Gokudera had terrible thoughts about Yamamoto's brain being contagious after prolonged exposure. Tsuna didn't even look at Kyoko that way, all unselfconscious and absorbed and wistful...
Gokudera thought about throwing dynamite in a random direction as a distraction, but it would be tough to pass off as an accident. All he could do was look back.
"There's something I need to do!" Tsuna said, thrust Lambo at him, and turned. "Wait right there!" he yelled over his shoulder as he ran, and then sped up.
Gokudera checked the time on his cell phone. But he hadn't checked in the first place what time the Ten-Year Bazooka had gone off. Two minutes might have passed already - maybe three!
He put Lambo down on the ground. "No!" he said, when Lambo dived for his legs after an anxious look at the dogs that hadn't been rounded up yet.
"B-but Octopus-head, i-it's scary—"
"Hey! Lambo-san isn't the type to get scared of a bunch of puppies like this, right? Especially when Haru's waiting for him with whole armfuls of candy at the restaurant, right? And grapes!"
Lambo blinked away the last fat tears, taken over by equal parts greed and suspicion. "Really?"
"You know how that woman likes to spoil you. She's in that direction! Now get out of here before I feed you to these damn dogs!"
Now he'd be able to spend the remaining time alone with the Tenth. Mostly alone, since there was the crowd hanging around, wondering about the source of all those animals and explosions... Gokudera reminded himself that Tsuna didn't approve of the use of dynamite to get rid of ordinary people. He waited in the last of the confusion, snarling half-heartedly when he was bumped into. His attention was taken up by looking down the road in the direction Tsuna had gone in. How much time was left?
"Gokudera," Tsuna called out to his left, and he jumped as Tsuna dashed out of a side street.
"Sorry for the wait! This was the only thing I could think of on short notice, and I had to run around to find it." He wasn't much out of breath, though - something that was a little bit unlike the Tenth of this time - and strangely, he looked neater. He'd buttoned his suit jacket, the shirt was tucked and his tie was done up more or less properly. And he had a giant bouquet of roses, red, held behind his back. And he was looking at Gokudera again, in that way that didn't bear thinking about.
"I'd like to tell you..." he said, voice soft so that Gokudera immediately swayed towards him to hear better, the lower pitch of it setting off sympathetic vibrations at the bottom of his spine. He watched Tsuna glance around at the busy street. "It's a little difficult right now, isn't it? But Gokudera, I'd at least like to ask you to take these." He had to hold the bouquet out to the side, since they leaned too close together for it to fit between them.
Gokudera's cigarette fell from his mouth.
"Wouldn't you like to? Is it still too early for that?"
For one insane moment Gokudera resented that it could be so easy for him. He must think like Bianchi, that love was like falling off a log. Not just a suspicion that sometimes refused to be ignored, none of the worries of inconvenient, or not good enough, or totally ridiculous, or anything else to keep you up at night and scraped raw across the brain.
"It'll save time," Tsuna said. That simple. He knew he was wanted.
It meant that Gokudera was wanted too.
For good, forever, for everything. He'd just thought the word love while looking right into Tsuna's face and it had been easy.
"What--" But it was obvious. "How did--" No, he'd die of embarrassment! "--When did it happen? When did we ... decide we would--?" He saw the surprise on Tsuna's face and realised that he'd grabbed Tsuna's wrist, pressing it against his chest and holding on so hard the bouquet had been dropped. His fingers scrambled up to hold the hand. That was more romantic, right? Would the Tenth like that?
Tsuna's fingers wrapped around his. "Sorry," he said, looking so sad while looking happy that it made Gokudera's stomach hurt. "It takes me a while. Ever since we sorted it out I really wished I could make that up to you."
His mouth moved to say more - then there was a bang, smoke everywhere, and emptiness in Gokudera's hand.
He picked up the bouquet, and then absently reached out to bang Tsuna on the back to help him get over the coughing fit brought on by all the smoke.
"Ugh ... stupid bazooka..." Tsuna groaned, and Gokudera gave him a last pat and cradled the bouquet more securely in the crook of an arm. There were over a dozen roses, maybe more than two dozen, but he couldn't count that high right now.
"Oh, Gokudera-kun. I thought I heard you before the bazooka went off," Tsuna said, blinking dazedly at him. Suddenly it seemed odd that Tsuna had to look up at him. "Where's Lambo?"
"He ran off to Haru and the rest. I came to see where you were," Gokudera said, still absent.
"Oh, ah, I saw the older you, Gokudera-kun!" Tsuna said. "He looks well. And..." He opened one hand and straightened out a crumpled piece of paper covered in G-script. "He'd kept a list of winning lottery numbers in case this ever happened. He said it should hardly change the future at all if I win, and then he showed me the mathematical proof he'd worked out that it wouldn't make the universe explode..."
He shook his head. "It was a really packed five minutes. How was it to have the me from ten years later here?"
Tsuna took a step back.
"But he was too relaxed, maybe," Gokudera said, coming back from dizzy heights filled with sunshine and delight to a more useful analytical standpoint. "You have a much better attitude right now, Tenth! You're always aware of possible and oncoming danger. And more ... careful..." He clutched the roses. The younger Tsuna wouldn't give someone a heart attack like that. If he ever confessed, he would be... Gokudera didn't dare finish the thought while looking at him.
He stared at the ground, willing his heart to slow down. Even if Tsuna was more careful, it looked like Gokudera would have a heart attack anyway.
"Why do you have flowers?" Tsuna asked. "Did I give them to you?"
"Uh, yeah. Th...there was a bug in them ... and uh, you didn't like the look of it..."
"I'm still like that ten years later?!" Tsuna put his head in his hands.
"It was huge, Tenth! With fangs!"
This vision of the future seemed to trouble Tsuna, but Gokudera was grateful for the cautious step he took away from the bouquet.
"I'll keep it," Gokudera said bashfully. "In case there are any other bugs or pathogens from the future on it."
"Is that okay? It really doesn't sound like a good idea!"
"It's fine! My experience with Sis has made me resistant to all kinds of venom, and in case anything else goes wrong, I have Shamal's number!"
"But Gokudera-kun, if it's that unsafe..."
"I'm sure it will be fine," Gokudera's said, infusing his voice with calm firmness and putting a hand on Tsuna's shoulder. "You look good in the future too."
Tsuna's eyebrows quirked. "Oh. Okay. But if anything goes wrong, call me or Reborn. He'll know what to do."
With some difficulty, Gokudera moved his hand. "We should head back to the others. That woman already ordered for you."
"It's not health food, is it? Haru's on this kick lately that I eat too much sweet stuff..."
Gokudera watched him stuff the notepad paper with the lottery numbers in his pocket. He wondered if Tsuna would remember it, and took a deep breath to fill his head with the scent of roses. He'd have to wait.
"What the heck?" Yamamoto laughed in surprise when he saw them. "I get the feeling we missed out on a lot, Haru!"
"Who is that for, Gokudera-san?" Haru gasped, her eyes on the bouquet.
"Me," said Gokudera as they sat. "It's a present."
"But - red roses! That's a very romantic gift! Do you have a girlfriend?"
"Hey, that's probably right," Tsuna said, and grinned, going a little red. "That must be where they're from..."
"Who is it?" Yamamoto said, grabbing the attached card from between the stems with deft fingers. "It's blank! A secret admirer?"
"That's right. It's a secret," Gokudera said proudly.
"Oh!" Haru clapped her hands to her cheeks. "Gokudera-san's admirer is so bold in her love! Haru doesn't know if she could be like that." Gokudera was gratified by the look Tsuna gave her for that one.
"You must have some idea about who it is. There are all those girls in our class who like you..." Yamamoto cajoled.
Gokudera was about to snap that of course it wasn't one of those idiots, but it wouldn't do to give any clues. Something he didn't intend might slip out. Yamamoto kept badgering him and he tranquilly kept telling him to shut the hell up, until at last Tsuna said the kids needed to get home so they could be put to bed. Half of the way home Gokudera had an enlightening conversation with Haru about how to keep cut flowers fresh, and how to press the Finest Blossom from Your First Romantic Bouquet.
Yamamoto and Haru took the short routes to their houses, but Gokudera kept walking past his turnoff to keep Tsuna company.
"I..." Tsuna's lips pursed with the difficulty of saying something. "I'm the boss in the future, right? I guess it would be hard to tell in five minutes, but ... it looked like that, from what I saw, so ... I was wondering."
Gokudera nodded. "Of course! I'm sure of it, Tenth." He beamed at Tsuna, forgoing a clap on the back because he had his roses in one arm and a sleeping I-Pin in the other. "I knew you'd do it."
Tsuna looked down at Lambo sprawling limply in his own arms and looked a little like the man of ten years later, but more frustrated. They were silent for a while.
"It was good to see you," Tsuna said, and gave an awkward laugh. "That sounded weird, right? Ten years later, I mean. You looked well, Gokudera-kun. Really..." It looked like he might say 'well' again, but it sounded a little more honest when he said, "happy."
"I am. I will be. I do," said Gokudera, and dropped his cigarette again as his words caught up with him. "I WILL do! Anything! Anything needed to make the future turn out well!"
The kids woke up yelling and squirming from the noise, and it took a while to quiet them down. But Tsuna was smiling as he did it in spite of looking harassed.
"I know you will," he blurted out at the gate to his house, after they'd said goodbye, and walked off quickly. It could be because he had both the kids to carry.
It took Gokudera a second to figure out what Tsuna had been replying to, sounding hopeless and grateful. He stood looking at the closed door, and then walked home in the last of the daylight.
His hands were sticky from clutching at the bouquet, in spite of the tissue paper around the stems. The flowers probably wouldn't last long. He buried his face in them to take in the scent while he could, not caring if passersby saw.
He could wait. He had everything to wait for.