And here's the unintentional second part of the story. As I mentioned at the end of the previous chapter, this is considerably longer than said chapter, but I just couldn't find a place where I could cut things off.
As usual, hope you enjoy reading this!
Disclaimer: Amano Akira's. Not mine.
Chapter Two: Growing Up
An hour and twelve minutes later found Tsuna slumped in one of the hard, uncomfortable chairs in the corridor of the Emergency Ward of Namimori's General Hospital. His unfocused brown eyes stared unseeingly at a patch of the white tiled floor before him, occasionally noting the pair of dark coloured shoes belonging to Gokudera as the silver haired man paced this way and that, hand clasped behind his back and undecipherable mutters escaping his lips.
Family and friends of the other occupants of the rooms in the Emergency ward shot the young man dirty looks, which he returned tenfold, causing them to hurriedly divert their attention. As much as he might be disturbing them, they had discovered that there was no reasoning with him, especially not after he had sent two of the nurses running away from him in tears when they had tried getting him to calm down.
The dark shoes continued to pace.
The unfocused eyes continued to stare.
The timing of the shoe strides faltered ever so slightly.
There was a flicker of something in the unfocused eyes.
"Do you want to die?"
It was the comment, followed by the whoosh and clink of what could only be something deadly and made out of steel that caused the two nineteen year olds to glance up hurriedly, strange expressions on their faces.
From his position leaning against the far wall of the corridor, Hibari Kyouya casually twirled his infamous tonfas in his hands, not seeming to notice the open mouthed stares he was receiving from the others waiting in the corridor. "You; sit down." The look he sent Gokudera had the man biting his lip to prevent what he wanted to say from leaving his lips. He may not like the dark haired man very much, nor did he like backing down, but dammit, he knew which battles needed to be fought and which didn't.
The dark, dark eyes left his figure only after he had stomped towards the row of uncomfortable, metal chairs and plopped himself down on one of them, crossing his arms huffily across his chest. "And you; sit up and stop staring at the floor." Tsuna's shoulders tensed slightly at the command, but he continued to stare at the white tiles, not bothering to change his posture either.
The whooshing sounds of the air being cut while Hibari twirled his tonfas in his hands stopped abruptly, and it seemed to catch Gokudera's attention, for he stopped muttering under his breath and turned to look at his precious Juudaime. A worried expression quickly crossed his face.
"J-Juudaime...are you okay?"
There was a pause. A long pause. "Juudaime...?"
Tsuna opened his mouth, eyes still lowered, but quickly closed it again, doing nothing to erase his friend's concern. Moving up the row of chairs, he stopped when he reached the one right next to the brunet, fingers twitching as though he was debating whether or not to place a hand on his shoulder –he had read somewhere that sometimes, that mere act was enough of a source of comfort to those who needed it.
"Stop acting like a drowned Herbivore, Sawada Tsunayoshi. Or I'll bite you to death."
Angry, light eyes glared holes into the dark haired man still leaning against the far wall.
"You-!" His twitching fingers disappeared as he clenched his hands into fists. "Can't you see that he's upset, you bastard?!"
The infuriatingly impassive man raised an eyebrow at the silver haired explosion-waiting-to-happen.
"I only see a pathetic excuse for a herbivore." A dark flush quickly dashed across the other man's cheeks and he watched, out of the corner of his eye, as the balled hands made their way to trouser pockets, and he grinned eerily for the briefest of moments.
The silver haired man's head snapped back to the brunet, still slumped against the back of the chair.
Tsuna cringed slightly.
"Gokudera-kun, please lower your voice," he said quietly, not needing to look around to see the occasional disapproving glances their little group was receiving from those around them. "And Hibari-san. Can you please put those away? This...is a hospital, after all."
The dark haired man narrowed his eyes at the brunet's bowed head, just as the silver haired man tensed, ready to leap into action should the man move in a threatening manner. But neither got the chance to say or do anything, as a group of people turned the corner and burst into the corridor in a variety of colours and with a variety of yells and exclamations that did nothing to endear them to the other temporary occupants of the corridor.
"Sawada! What's happening?! This is bad news to the extreme!!"
"Bwahaha! Lambo-san can fix everything! Lambo-san only needs a chocolate and he can do it!"
"Lambo! Be quiet!"
Eyebrows twitched at the sudden noise, until the familiar whoosh cut through said noise, for the tonfas were now facing a different direction altogether.
"What," started the dark haired man, his eyes shadowed, "are you herbivores doing here?"
"I'm not a herbivore, to the extreme! That's extremely rude!"
"Lambo-san is going to be a hero! That's Lambo-san!"
The hands holding the tonfas twitched in a manner that indicated they would like nothing better than to unleash their rippling attack on the group.
"This is a hospital –I think it would be much appreciated if everyone calmed down. Don't you?" All eyes turned at the sound of the somehow calming new voice, as its user came into view, held in the arms of a pretty, goggles-wearing, long haired young woman.
Silence fell in the corridor almost immediately. "To answer your question, Hibari, I'm the one who told all of them. It was only right, wasn't it? You are all part of the Vongola family after all."
It was the demanding note in the voice, rather than the user of said voice, that caught everyone's attention, as they shifted their attention yet again. Tsuna, however, ignored all of them, his brown eyes focused on the black-clad Arcobaleno held in Bianchi's arms. "Reborn?"
"I'm not sure this is the time or the place to discuss that, Tsuna," replied his home-tutor, before shifting his eyes to the dark haired man leaning against the wall. "He's still in surgery, then?"
Hibari nodded, tonfas still gripped tightly in his hands. "I see." There was a pause. "Why exactly did he need surgery?"
Despite his unwillingness, Tsuna found his eyes wandering to rest on Hibari's face. Something told him that he wouldn't want to know the answer, but, as what usually happened, he found that he had no control over what he wanted and didn't want.
"Shrapnel," was the terse, one-word answer the infamous home-tutor received.
"Where?" The Arcobaleno, it seemed, was not to be put off.
"Chest and stomach." The Arcobaleno's eyes remained fixed on the dark haired man who, to his credit, held the gaze for a long moment before continuing. "And both of his arms too."
The sharp intake of breath came from the silver haired man, who would later vehemently deny that his eyes had widened perceptibly.
"Is it serious?" The band-aid wearing boxer sounded sombre as he looked between Reborn and Hibari, his 'to the extreme!' forgotten somewhere in his realisation of the seriousness of the situation.
"They wouldn't say." He leaned his head back against the wall. "But they wouldn't take the risk of operating on him if it was life-threatening."
"Not the time or place, Tsuna," he reminded him. "How long will it take?" he queried, looking at the former prefect.
"They wouldn't say." The silence that fell upon them at that had the former prefect frowning slightly. "If that is all..." he pushed himself away from the wall, tonfas miraculously disappearing back to wherever they were stalled.
"Lambo-san is---" a sharp thwack resounded in the corridor as the curly haired child stared at his Chinese friend through tearing wide eyes. "I-I I-Pin..." He sniffed. "T-T-Tol...e...rat...e..."
"This is serious, Lambo!" said I-Pin, in her high-pitched voice as she glanced pointedly in the brunet's direction.
"B-But Lambo-san is going t-to s-save---" The Look he received from the dark haired prefect standing behind I-Pin had his trail off mid-protest, and, curiously enough, silenced him. Under any other circumstance, Gokudera would have gleefully commented on this, but...this wasn't 'any other circumstance', so he quickly turned his gaze away from the annoying child.
"Aren't you going to stay, Hibari?" asked Reborn, as the dark haired man passed by him on his way out.
"With these herbivores? No."
The silver haired man tensed again, although this time, he wasn't able to stop the words that escaped his mouth.
"You really are an insensitive bastard, you know? An unfeeling one too!" He had long stopped caring about the disapproving others also in the corridor. "You're a part of this family whether we like it or not –the least you could do is at least wait and see if –see the outcome of this!"
The silence that followed almost made it seem as though no one was even drawing in any breaths.
But the dark haired man continued moving forward, paying no heed to the enraged man, until he turned the corner and disappeared from sight. "Why that-"
"Hayato. Calm down. Picking a fight with him isn't going to make everything better." Bianchi didn't receive a glare at her words, but that had more to do with her brother's fear of looking at her, even when she had her goggles on, rather than her immunity to his glares.
"I know that! But – but the least he could do –I mean, that stupid baseball idiot is – aaargh!"
Throwing his arms up in the air, the silver haired man threw himself back down onto his chair, a scowl on his lips.
"You know, we should all be grateful to him..." commented Reborn lightly, unfazed by the tension in the atmosphere. "They were going to delay Yamamoto's surgery, due to some problems with his health insurance." He paused. "But Hibari worked his...magic and changed their minds."
'You mean he threatened to bite them to death' was the thought that ran through the 'family's' heads, even though none of them said it out loud.
"It was mafia related, wasn't it?"
"-No, I don't care if this isn't the time or the place, Reborn!" Brown eyes glinted as they stared at the Arcobaleno. "I don't care. Yamamoto is inside there, having surgery. He has shrapnel everywhere –his arms are being operated on ---do you even know how important his arms are to him? To his dreams of playing professional baseball?! Don't you remember what he did the last time he injured himself? If you hadn't –if I hadn't ---"
He trailed off, breathing heavily. "So, tell me Reborn, what happened?"
The tutor and student held each other's gaze for what seemed to be an eternity, until, somewhat surprisingly, the tutor broke the stare by closing his eyes in a rather resigned manner.
"Don't say I didn't try to warn you," he muttered, before he launched into his tale.
It had been unannounced, from the sound of things. One minute the star of Namimori University's baseball team had been training, by himself, in one of the off-campus grounds that he particularly favoured, speaking on the phone to Dino, who had rung to apologise for he wouldn't be able to make it to the baseball semi-final that week-
-('I'm so sorry, Yamamoto. I really am. I'd love to be there, you know? I heard you're doing great! It's just, things are a bit hectic at home, and everyone thinks that it's be best if I stayed back for a few days so that people know that I'm here, and might not try anything funny, you know?'
'Ahaha, yeah, I know what you mean. But listen, that's fine Dino-san. Really, it's fine.'
'I really did want to come, too. Everyone was going to be there! And we were going to go out and celebrate after you won...'
'Celebrate? Ahaha, that's if we win, Dino-san! Ahahaha, but please, don't worry about it. Sometimes, baseball isn't the most important thing...you know?'
'Ah, yes, that's...true...'
'Who knows, even though you won't be able to make it to this game, maybe things would have settled down enough for you to make it to the finals, eh? It's a week and a half from now, so...yeah...'
'Of course! I will do my best! Eh, but Yamamoto, don't you mean 'if' you make the finals?'
'Ahaha, yeah, true, but...well, you never know. The teams strong and full of confidence, so...yeah...'
'I really do hope you win, Yamamoto.'
'So do I, Dino-san, so do I. By the way, does Tsuna know that you---hmm...? That's...odd...'
'Huh? What's odd?'
'Ah –um, I'm not exactly sure. But something doesn't...seem right...'
'What is it? What doesn't seem right? Are you alone?'
'I don't know. Ahaha, you know what, maybe I'm imagining things. Yeah, that's probably it. Maybe it's the pre-game nerves that--- nnghn...'
'Yamamoto? Yamamoto, what is it?'
'--- --- --- --- ---'
'Yamamoto? Are you – Yamamoto!!')-
-and the next minute, there had been a somewhat strangled gasp, moments before the explosion that had ended the call and rendered Dino temporarily deafened; and he had heard it over the phone. Panicked, the Italian had phoned his former student –who despised the title and everything it entailed- and, after miraculously managing to get through to him –he who was also known as He-Who-Never-Answers-The-Phone-, had alerted him as to the situation.
('This better be good.'
'K-Kyouya! Oh thank god! I've been trying for so long I didn't think I'd ever get to-'
'-Goodbye. And don't call again.'
'Ah, wait, Kyo--- aah, why does he keep doing this?' ; 'Romario, please, give me the other phone. He's probably noted down this number as well.'
'Kyouya! Now, please, don't hang up on me this time because it's really urg--- Kyouya, no, don't!' ; 'Romario, I'll need another phone.'
'If you don't stop this annoying behaviour, Dino Cavallone, I am going to bite you to death and scatter your remains into the---'
'Y-Yamamoto's in trouble! He's probably hurt. There –there was an explosion –I heard it over the phone, and –and he's not answering his phone. I think he is hurt –I don't even know –I don't know---'
'-How do you know this?'
'I was talking to him when it happened. Kyouya, we need to-'
'-This does not concern me.'
'-make sure that he ---but Kyouya! This is...this is Yamamoto! Isn't he your friend?'
'I have no friends. Yamamoto Takeshi is nothing but a useless herbivore.'
'But he --- didn't you say once that you'd like to fight him? Something about the talent he keeps hidden? About being a herbivore with a carnivorous nature?'
'...He's a useless herbivore.'
'Who defeated the Second Sword Emperor, Superbi Squalo. Not a lot of people have managed to do ---aaargh, Kyouya, please, you have to---'
'Where was he?'
'I don't know where he was! I didn't ask!'
'Then what do you expect me to-'
'-Wait, wait, he was practising. Yeah, that's right. He was practising for the game. And I think...well, I think he was alone. They wouldn't let him speak on the phone if he was with the rest of the team, would they?'
'You're sure of this?'
'The explosion? Yes. The practising? Yes again. I heard --- Kyouya? Kyouya? ...Aaargh, he hung up again!')
Unfeeling though he indeed was, Hibari Kyouya had acted quickly and surely, and after locating the ruined park-slash-grounds, had made sure that the baseball loving herbivore was rushed to the hospital, and that his surgery was carried out despite the issues with insurance. He had then phoned Reborn, informing him of what had happened, before having a fifteen minute inner debate with himself, ultimately deciding to have one of the nurses ring Tsuna before Yamamoto Tsuyoshi was informed.
"But..." The usually overly energetic, loud boxing-champion hesitated, as though trying to find the right words with which to express whatever it was that he wanted to say. "How do we know... I mean, it's possible that it isn't mafia-related, right? It could be, well, anyone could have done it, right?"
"Yeah, because normal people usually set of explosions like that," said Gokudera, glaring at the older male. "Are you mad, lawn-head?!"
"No, to the extreme, Octopus---"
"I'm afraid it's not as simple as that," cut in Reborn, before the pair got any further. "Varia intelligence reportedly found a list in one of the Duvieno family's bases that they infiltrated." His eyes met the brown ones of his pupil. "It was a list that held the names 'Takeshi Yamamoto' and 'Kyouya Hibari'."
The silence that descended upon the group was almost unbearable, but the Arcobaleno wasn't the least bit bothered by it. "They also reported that there seemed to be evidence linked to a search conducted on the future Vongola Decimo –and I'm guessing that that's how they made the connections with Yamamoto and Hibari. Although I'm not quite sure how they found out about Hibari's involvement in the family, because he doesn't associate with you even half as much as Yamamoto does."
"But how...?" Bianchi trailed off, her eyes narrowed in thought. "Do you think they've been spying on them?"
"I assume Tsuna would have noticed a continuous outside observer," he said, glancing at his student's bowed head. "Varia intelligence also mentioned something about baseball games, and spectators..."
Gokudera decided that he didn't quite like the pointed glance he was sending in his Juudaime's direction.
"What are you implying, Reborn-san?" he questioned, hands clenched into fists.
"The truth," spoke Tsuna, his voice hoarse as he swallowed against the lump in his throat. "Yamamoto's baseball games. I..." he swallowed again, raising guilty brown eyes to his companions, "I've been to each and every one of them... G-Gokudera-kun too..."
"So?" His eyes widened in realisation shortly afterwards. "You think they noted that?" The expression on Tsuna's face answered his question. "But...but what about him?" He pointed at Gokudera, before looking at Reborn, "Why wasn't his name on that list? Surely they'd have noticed he was with Sawada for every game?"
"True," agreed Reborn, "but...Yamamoto's name is not unknown in the circles of the mafia. Everyone knows who Superbi Squalo is, and so, when the news spread that he had been defeated, by some Japanese school kid no less..." He shook his head. "No, Yamamoto is certainly not unknown to those in our world."
"Then this was a blatant attack against the Vongola?" queried Gokudera, his brows furrowed.
"Against the Vongola Guardians, yes."
Silence fell upon them again, much to the relief of the other occupants of the seats in the corridor.
"It's my fault."
The silence lasted for a moment longer, before, as tended to happen with the group, chaos erupted once more.
"What?! Juudaime, no! Just –no. It's not – how could it possibly be your fault? If anything, it's-"
"-You didn't ask for this, to the extreme! So it's extremely not your fault!"
Gokudera glared at the older male, but nodded in agreement all the same.
"Exactly. Juudaime, you have to believe us on this." But Tsuna shook his head, a pained expression on his face as he looked towards a silent Reborn.
"No, no, I know that that's not my fault," he clarified quietly. "But the fact that this happened at all..." He trailed off, a distant light taking over his eyes.
Tsuna shook his head slightly.
"It was my decision, Gokudera-kun. It was my decision that led to this. I have to accept responsibility."
"But...why?" It was clear that the self-proclaimed 'right hand man' was confused. "Is it about attending those baseball games? You know that the idiot wanted you to be there, right? That that's the only reason we-"
"-I know, Gokudera-kun, but that's not what I'm talking about."
The silence this time was somewhat awkward, as the gathered Guardians attempted not to stare conspicuously at their brunet friend. "You did warn me," he said at last, his voice dull.
"Who warned you about what, Sawada?"
"I did," agreed Reborn with a nod.
Two silver heads turned to look at the Arcobaleno.
"You said that it was a dangerous thing to do..."
"Yes, I did."
"But I didn't listen to you."
"No, you didn't."
Tsuna let out a dull laugh as he shook his head, swallowing once more.
"I just thought..." he paused, "I just wanted us all to experience a normal life. Because I knew, I knew that we wouldn't be able to do this in the coming years." He swallowed yet again. "Because even though we managed to change the outcome of the future, somewhat, what happened until then is...is still going to happen. Sort of. And...and that means Byakuran and the Millefiore –all of that will happen. We'll have to give up everything when that time comes, so I..."
When he looked up at them, the guilt in his eyes was crystal clear. "I just wanted us to have a break, for as long as we could."
"There's nothing wrong with that," said Bianchi, surprising her brother. "Really, there's-" But Tsuna shook his head, cutting her off.
"It's not just that," he said, a strange emotion flashing across his eyes. "I –I wanted to enjoy my life, too. You know?" It sounded to Gokudera as though he was almost begging them to understand, and it puzzled him, for what was there for them to understand?
But he held his tongue, realising that the brunet needed to do this by himself. "In the future –in the future we were dragged to, I... the Vongola Decimo was...dead. That's why I –I found myself in a coffin when I arrived in the future. That's why I found myself in my coffin."
Tsuna held up a hand, stopping Gokudera.
"When we in the future, I didn't...I didn't have much time to think about that, because we had other things to think about. Things like Byakuran, the Millefiore and Choice. I was distracted. But when we came back...that's when I started thinking about it." He was quiet for a long moment. "Not only was I... the Vongola Decimo killed, but Yamamoto-san was killed too –and he was the only family that Yamamoto had left."
The smile on his face didn't quite reach his eyes. "I thought that there had to be something that I could –that we could do. And...and I realised that there were still a lot of things that I wanted to experience, from my... 'normal' life. I wanted to attend university, make more friends, find a normal job, perhaps...perhaps tell Kyoko-chan about –uh, just telling Kyoko-chan...things..." he amended, only barely remembering the boxing champion's presence, "I wasn't sure if I –if the Vongola Decimo had experienced all of that before he...died, so I wanted to make sure that I would. And Yamamoto –Yamamoto would have more time to spend with his father, without worrying about the mafia and his role as a Guardian. He'd...he'd be able to follow his dream and..."
The brunet drew in a quick breath, "-I didn't want to die with experiencing these things, and I didn't want to die without seeing my friends achieve what they wanted to. That's why I –I put in a request to the Vongola, asking...asking for us to be allowed to lead our...normal lives for a while. Even though Chrome chose not to follow us and attend university, this gave her the time and freedom to...to try and get Mukuro free. And everyone else...everyone else could be normal. But...but now, I...Y-Yamamoto..."
No one knew how to react when they heard the hitch in the brunet's voice a half moment before his shoulders trembled. "I was just so selfish, and now...now Yamamoto might not –he might n-never be able to p...play--- ah –hiiii---OW!"
"That looked extremely painful, Sawada!"
Tsuna pulled himself to a seated position on the tiled floor he had fallen onto when he had been dropkicked sideways out of his chair. He held a hand against the side of his face, his suspiciously glimmering eyes as wide as saucers.
"R-R-Reborn!!" he cried out, against the throbbing on his cheek. "T-That hurt!"
The Arcobaleno nodded.
"Good. It was supposed to."
"Juudaime, are you alright? Do you need anything for that? Ah, I know! Ice –Ice would be good. I'll go and get you some ice!"
"Sawada is a man, he doesn't need ice for something as puny as that!"
"What? Stupid lawn head, that's going to leave a large bruise! And it's going to hurt!"
"It's only going to be a-"
"Stop arguing and help me find some ice!"
Bianchi sighed from where she was seated, closing her eyes at the commotion.
"Yes, you were wrong and acting very much like Dame-Tsuna when you put in that request," said Reborn, cheerfully, watching as Tsuna winced. "And you were downright stupid to not listen to my advice –especially when I've never been wrong thus-far."
"There are some things that you can only learn through mistakes, Tsuna, and I've told you this many times before." The hitman paused. "This, unfortunately, was one of them. It had to happen –if not to Yamamoto, then to someone else."
"But that's not f-"
"Fair?" There was a glint in the Arcobaleno's eyes. "A lot of things aren't fair, Tsuna. Even more so in our world. You're just going to have to get used to it."
Reborn sighed as his student lowered his eyes, hanging his head as he did so.
"Yamamoto Takeshi is a natural-born hitman, Tsuna. People like him don't get brought down by things like this."
"Didn't you hear what Hibari-san said?! He had shrapnel –or whatever it's called- in his chest, stomach and both of his arms!" Tsuna shook his head. "He needs those arms to play! He-"
"-He also needs those arms to be your Rain Guardian," commented Reborn, watching as Tsuna raised his head to stare at him through narrowed eyes.
"I don't care about that right now!"
"Oh? Isn't that attitude what got you all into this mess in the first place?"
The brunet was stumped at that, as he stared at his former home-tutor. "You need to wake up, Tsuna. You are going to lead the Vongola in the near future, and when you do it, you're going to need all of your Guardians, including Yamamoto. There will be bloodshed, sometimes it will be the blood of enemies, of strangers, but sometimes, the blood of your Guardians and yourself will need to be spilt. It's a part of the job, and you need to accept that."
There was a serious expression on the Arcobaleno's face. "You're growing up, Tsuna, and you need to realise the seriousness of your situation."
"B-But I didn't ask for any of this..."
"No. You didn't," agreed Reborn, "but it was all given to you, and you fought to earn the right to have it."
"Not like I had a...a choice..."
"You have a choice now." Reborn waited until Tsuna was looking up at him again. "You can choose to carry on with what you've been doing, Tsuna, which is ignoring the gravity of your situation and your future position, or you could accept it and in turn lead a somewhat less stressful life."
The black-clad figure sighed inwardly when his pupil continued to do nothing but stare at him. "Look at it this way," he said finally. "The Yamamoto of the future, the one that we all saw, what did you notice about him? About his mentality?"
"He..." Tsuna paused. "He was...serious..."
"Yes, he was –although that could be due to the death of his father. What else?" Tsuna shook his head, indicating that he had no idea. "Did he mention anything about baseball to you?"
"No," said Tsuna, before he frowned. "We were trying to get to safety at the time, Reborn, I doubt that was the proper setting to talk about-"
"The Yamamoto Takeshi of the future gave up baseball, Tsuna, and took up the sword. He became so much better with his natural skills once he focused on them. Why do you think he did that?"
"Because...because he... Was it because he was too injured to play baseball...?" he questioned, tentatively.
"If he was too injured to play baseball –which requires the use of his arms- he'd be too injured to wield a sword too," countered Reborn, controlling his exasperation. "The reason he gave up his dream and dedicated himself to the way of the sword was because of his friends. The only thing that he really wanted out of the world, was to be able to protect his friends and family. He was lucky enough to have the talent and skill to do it personally, and so he dedicated himself to that. He had a choice, and he picked what he wanted to do. He gave up what was his only dream, in order to protect those dear to him."
He paused to allow the boy to take it all in. "And now you have a choice too. Do you let your knowledge of the future –vague though it is- cloud the time you have in the present? Do you embrace life out of the fear that you won't have long to embrace it for? Or do you live your life determined to do everything you can to achieve what you want to achieve?"
"I – you –it's... ..." The brunet trailed off, uncertainly.
"Just because you 'died' in the future, Tsuna, doesn't necessarily mean that it's going to happen. Have you ever considered yourself fortunate enough to know that you're going to die, and to therefore be put in a situation where you can very well prevent it? You have the power to stop that from happening, just as you have the power of stopping Yamamoto's father from being killed. It's up to you, Tsuna."
Reborn turned his back on his student, somewhat uncharacteristically, as his favoured method was to beat the heck out of him. "We can't make that choice for you, Tsuna, but we can be the one thing you base your choice on."
With that, he jumped effortlessly back into Bianchi's waiting arms, content to wait for Yamamoto's surgery to be completed and choosing not to concern himself with the two idiots who were possibly wreaking havoc at the hospital as they searched for ice.
Hibari would deal with them if they caused any damage –it was the Namimori general hospital after all.
Three and a half weeks later found one Sawada Tsunayoshi standing at the entrance to what had been 'his' University, a silly smile on his face as he recounted the events that had taken place while he had been enrolled in it. Not all of his memories were fond ones, in fact, they were all mostly either nervous or tense ones, because, as great as Gokudera was as a friend, associating with him really was stressful. And then there was Kyoko, and the promise he had –foolishly- made to her brother that he wouldn't let her be 'contaminated' by any man while at university. Of course, he had reasoned that he wasn't included in the 'any man' category...but he had never ended up confessing to her, and sometimes, he sadly doubted if he ever would.
The future Vongola Boss turned to smile at his former home-tutor, his brown hair hiding the creases that appeared on his forehead as he smiled –creases that were hardly expected to reside on the forehead of a nineteen year old.
"Reborn," he greeted, with a nod.
"Are you sure about this?" questioned the Arcobaleno, as he joined the brunet in staring at the University.
"Yes," he said, no hesitation in his voice. "It's the right thing to do." And, to him, it really was. It was bad enough that his best friend had been attacked, simply because he had been his Rain Guardian –he didn't want a whole university blown up just because he attended classes there.
He quickly pushed aside the thought of how any and everyone close to him would eventually end up being targeted –this wasn't the time for that.
"It is," agreed Reborn, glancing at him out of the corner of his eye. "But is it what you want to do?"
There was a pause, during which a thoughtful expression appeared on the nineteen-year old's face. Neither of the pair spoke for a long moment.
"Is it what I want to do?" echoed the brunet, his attention drawn by the loud voice that reached his ears half a moment before two figures walked out of the main building, heading towards him.
('You stupid idiot! Do you even know any of those people?!'
'Ahaha, no, not really...'
'Then why the hell were you letting them hug you?!'
'Because they just wanted to say goodbye...'
'They could have been enemies, you know! Geez, if some enemy approaches you for a hug, you'd probably give him one!'
'Ahahaha, now, now, Gokudera. Didn't anyone ever tell you that it's rather rude to turn down a hug?'
'R-Rude?! You idiot! It's impractical and dangerous to just go around letting people hug you!'
'Aw, maybe you're saying that from a lack of experience? Would a like a hug, Gokudera?'
'Wha--- P-Put your arms down, you stupid fool. I'll never want a hug. Especially not from you! You're lucky your arm's still in that cast and that I don't attack those who're already injured...'
'Hahaha, so...if Tsuna wanted to give you a hug, would you say no?'
'I – what -...i-if Juudaime wants a hug, I'll do it! I'm his right-hand man after all!'
'Ahaha, just as I thought. Hugs aren't bad, Gokudera. And those girls were just sad that I wasn't going to actually graduate, that's all.'
'No, you dumbass, they were just disappointed that you were leaving and they hadn't even managed to get a single date with you, let alone anything more...'
'What do you mean 'eh'? Oh. Wait. Don't tell me that you hadn't noticed...?'
'Noticed? Noticed what?'
'How could you be so oblivious you stupid – stupid clown?! We're going to be doomed with you as Juudaime's Rain Guardian!'
'Ahahaha, calm down Gokudera, calm down...')
There was a smile on the brunet's face as his two best friends approached him, one still bickering and the other laughing cheerfully. "Yes, Reborn. It is what I want to do," he said at last, glancing at the Arcobaleno. "It's what my friends want too, so...yes, it's what I want."
"It's not going to be easy, going to Italy just like that. The customs, the language –everything's different from how they are here."
"I know," he said, looking a little nervous at the reminder, before he brightened. "But I'm going to have them with me, so it won't be too bad."
"Yo, Tsuna! Did we keep you waiting?"
The brunet shook his head at the tall, smiling young man, before reaching out and snagging one of the three bags that he was somehow carrying, despite the fact that one of his arms was still in its cast. "Ah –no, really there's no need to---" Tsuna smiled, cutting him off.
"What took the two of you so long anyway?" he questioned, curiously.
Yamamoto laughed, attempting to sheepishly scratch the back of his head but realising that he couldn't, thanks to the cast he had on his arm.
"Ah, well...ahaha, there were quite a lot of people who wanted to wish us well..."
"More like they were mourning the loss of a possible future-boyfriend," grumbled Gokudera, before he froze. "J-J-Juudaime! Why are you carrying that?! You –You baseball freak! Why did you ask---"
The silver haired male stopped abruptly, eyes widening ever so slightly just as Tsuna quickly turned to stare at Yamamoto, his brown eyes conspicuously widened. "I...I didn't..." Gokudera trailed off, looking distinctly uncomfortable. "I...that wasn't..."
The would be professional baseball star (if he hadn't resigned from the team and taken leave of his scholarship) raised his uninjured hand, a warm smile on his lips as he stared at his flustered friends.
"Guys, guys," he started, "it's alright."
They didn't look convinced.
"But...but Yamamoto..." started Tsuna, somewhat despondently.
"Hey, now, don't tell me you don't trust my judgement?" Yamamoto grinned at the response he received to that. "I'm the one who decided to do this, not you, Tsuna, or you, Gokudera. Or even you, little guy," he added, smiling at Reborn, who smiled back before tentatively jumping onto the shoulder of his uninjured arm. "Baseball was lots of fun, it really was. But there's also other things that are important in life, you know? So it all works out in the end."
Tsuna ignored the smug look on Reborn's face as he turned to him, even as a smile formed on his lips.
"Yeah," he said, his spirits lifted. "Yeah, it does, huh?"
Gokudera, sensing that the word 'baseball' probably wasn't a taboo word anymore, let out a quiet sigh of relief, before Reborn interrupted the pleasant silence that had fallen amongst them.
"I hate to interrupt this, but...Hibari's been waiting at the airport with Sasagawa Ryohei, Lambo, I-Pin and Bianchi... I'd hate to have the International Airport brought down because of 'crowding' and 'noisy herbivores'..."
"Hiiiiiiiiii! I didn't think of that! Hibari-san won't like having to wait!"
"Aaargh, he better not do anything to delay our flight!"
"Ahahaha, I suppose some things will never change, eh?"
They were nineteen, and had enjoyed as much of the 'normal' component of their lives as they could.
They were nineteen when they realised that the time for games of hide-and-seek was, sadly, long past.
They were nineteen –a bit older two cases, and a lot younger in another three cases- when they boarded the flight that would take them to Italy, and whatever the future held in store for them there.
And there you have it! The End. Hehe, now if only I can finish my other stories, life would be as close to perfection as it could be at this point in time.
I hope this was a good enough read!