DISCLAIMER: I do not own Katekyo Hitman Reborn.

CLAIMER: This does belong in a related alternate-future I thought up of, though it can be read standalone.

SPOILERS: Up to chapter 231, where those of us wanting a canon coupling squee-ed in unison, causing most of us to begin spontaneously imploding… which is why I don't think anyone here's done anything yet accordingly.

NOTES: This is gonna be cross-posted on another fandom site. I have the same username, so no worries. Also, this is really sappy and generally a few steps out of my preferred genres (a.k.a.: I don't often write romance anymore; give me a break).


Photograph

It all started the day everyone reappeared after being missing for months. She ran up to Kyoko's house as soon as she heard and all short of tackled her best friend to the ground. All the worry, tension and fear melted away as the two girls became reacquainted. Kyoko gave this crazy story about going to the future where the boys all had to fight for their lives. She never cared for stories, so she told Kyoko to save the excuses and treated her to some cake.

The next day was school. It was pleasant having the desks all full again, even if it did mean those annoying hooligans were back. They were second years now, nearing third year; she knew Kyoko would be over at her house doing all the catch-up work they were assigned and that was alright with her. Things were wild and reckless again with Hibari-sempai terrorizing the school, Gokudera trying to blow things up and Tsuna trying to keep up with it all. As loud and obnoxious as they were, it was good to have them back.

Strangely enough, the only one not being as loud and obnoxious as usual was him. The third year pulled her into an empty classroom during lunch one day, red-faced and nervous. It was so unlike him to speak in a subdued tone, to not make eye contact or even not get right to the point.

"Here," he said, holding out a folded piece of paper. She took it and flattened it out. It was a photograph of a young married couple who looked strangely familiar.

"How'd you do this?" she asked.

"Your future self gave it to me. She said I could show it to the you of now."

"Kyoko tried to give me that 'ten years in the future' nonsense too; I'm not falling for it. Did Gokudera-kun do this for you on the computer?"

"No! I'm being extremely honest right now! In the future, you and I…!"

"Shove it," she said, pushing the photograph back into his hand. She did not want to hear another word of it.

Time passed and he graduated. She became a third year and concentrated on going to the best school possible. After entrance exams were placed, it turned out she landed in the same school as him and all the other obnoxious morons (and Kyoko of course). The next two years, he tried to convince her to at least go out on one date. He straightened his appearance, calmed down his speech, and improved his concentration, all in an effort to convince her to comply.

One date was all he ever asked for. A bothered stare was the only answer he received. She never forgot that "future photograph" and never allowed him to forget her ire over the entire thing.

There was a good university nearby, enabling her to concentrate on studying after high school graduation. He went overseas and anywhere that his mysterious sumo tournaments would take him. He would come home less and less frequently until he never really came back. It was over a year since she had last talked with him when they met at the wedding of her old classmate Yamamoto to that crazy girl that always followed the boys around. A smug wife and an infant son with his hair and eyes came attached, the former sizing her up like the previous day's garbage while the latter giggled and gurgled cutely. He looked more than a little worn and tired for a man that had been married for only half a year, but content. She wished them the best and felt oddly empty after she returned to the apartment she rented with Kyoko after the reception. She shrugged it off and went to sleep.

A short while passed and Kyoko moved out upon marrying Sawada. The apartment was still never empty, as Kyoko was over almost every day. Topics were endless—cakes, her son (once he was born), her nephew and Italy. Sometimes the conversation landed on him and what he was doing. The smug wife was now demanding and the names thrown about became uglier with the passing weeks. Kyoko cried about it the entire week before she moved to Italy, hating that her brother put himself through such things. All she could do was comfort her best friend and dislike him even more.

It was long after university and she had landed a steady job complete with a new apartment before he saw him again… just not in an expected way. The regular stop she used for the train was under renovation, so she was forced to take an alternate route home. She enjoyed the refreshing walk, however, and thought nothing of it as she strolled though what appeared to be an average neighborhood. Some shouting could be heard from not too far off, presumably in one of the houses. She ignored it; other people's issues were none of her business.

A boy ran out from the unusually tall gate of one of the houses ahead, jumping around excitedly as if he was trying to have a bout with his shadow. The child seemed so eerily familiar to her with his white hair, grey eyes and exuberant amount of energy. She stopped to watch him for a moment, which prompted him to notice her.

"I've never seen you here before, oba-san."

"The train made me get off a stop early today."

"You mean the train spat you out?! Did you get to ride a Catbus or something?!"

"No…" Was this kid an idiot?

A woman in the house the boy had come from screamed in some disgusted tone, causing her to glance at the alley wall.

"Mommy's mean," the boy said, noticing her quick eye shift. "She picks fights with Daddy all the time."

"Sometimes grown-ups do that," she replied, not understanding why she was talking to the little boy… let alone accepting his presence.

"My aunt and uncle don't fight though and Haruhi's parents fight in a different way," the boy elaborated. "They always don't mean it."

"Why are you telling me this?"

"I dunno." The boy plopped down on the ground and stared emptily out into space, which might have been his way of thinking. "You seem like an extremely nice lady… the kind that wouldn't start mean fights with Daddy."

"Well… thank you…?" She was not too sure what to say. Suddenly, she could hear the front door swing open and violently slam shut. A man's voice, one she instantly recognized, called out.

"Where are you Masaru?!"

"Out here Daddy!" the boy answered. A few seconds later and he came out of the yard carrying a suitcase that looked hastily packed. Their eyes met in a rather confused stare.

"Ha…na…?"

"Ryohei…?"

"You know each other? That's extremely cool!" the little boy cheered, oblivious of the awkwardness in the air. He then noticed the suitcase. "Do you have to go on a trip again to see Tsuna-oji?"

"No; I thought it would be good if we left Mommy alone for a little bit. She seems extremely angry with me this time around."

"I don't know why she didn't think letting me visit Luss-oji for the summer was a good idea," the boy said. He turned to the woman and smiled. "Luss-oji is an extremely cool guy! I think you'd like him a lot!"

"Come on Masaru, let's not bother Hana-san. We can go over to Haruhi-chan's house; I think her dad comes back from Italy today." He took the boy by the hand and made to walk away. She caught a glimpse of his pained face… a face so unlike him that she had only seen it once: when she shoved the assumingly-computer-generated photograph in his hands and stormed out of the empty classroom.

"Ryohei…?" He hesitated as she paused. "That photograph was real, wasn't it?"

"Would I lie about something like that?"

"I guess not." She thought for a minute before speaking again. "This Haruhi's parents probably aren't expecting the two of you for the night you know."

"I get thrown out about twice a month; Yamamoto and Haru are extremely used to it."

"I'm not familiar with this neighborhood and I still need to go grocery shopping."

A moment to think.

"Sounds alright then."

"Can I still go play with Haruhi?" He smiled and ruffled his son's hair.

"Of course." This was met with a loud squeal of excitement and the child rushing down the alley in what was presumably the direction of the Yamamoto residence.

"I wonder what I saw in you," she said as they walked casually down the street. He shrugged and laughed.

"To be honest, I'm extremely curious about that too!" The two laughed, both coming to the conclusion that the young boy would be the only one intruding on the Yamamoto household that night.