OOC: Surprise! An update! I've read through all of your lovely reviews and many of you folks out there pointed out that you wanted to see Akira stand up for herself and fight without relying on Hibari. Believe me, I have no intention of making that the case. Anyways, I hope her performance is worth anticipating!

Silence floated past the small group of four. Only the sound of leaves playfully rustling in the cold autumn wind was heard. Finally, Akira sighed. Her slender fingers wrapped around the piece of paper like a spider around its prey. Then, she sighed again, and carefully folded the note shut. Not one of the three accompanying males dared to speak for reasons beyond their own explanatory powers. All waited anxiously for her first words.

Akira certainly took her time. She quietly changed out of her in-door shoes, stylishly pulling her sneakers onto her feet. Staring ruefully at her shoe-locker, she then deposited her shoes inside and gently shut the door. "I hope they're still going to be here tomorrow." The youth pouted. "Kyouya's surely going to make fun of me if he catches me running barefoot here."

Tsuna twiddled his thumbs nervously. He was having trouble reading Akira-chan's feelings, and that bothered him. While it calmed his furiously beating heart that she wasn't having an explosive reaction to such childish bullying tactics, but her lack of emotional response was not exactly comforting either. "Neh…Akira-chan, are you…are you alright?"

The youth turned her head toward the brunette, but before she could respond, Gokudera cut into their conversation.

"Hey woman," the silver-haired bomber crossed his arms over his chest "it's okay to cry you know." He made a point to look purposefully in the other direction as he muttered those words under his breath so she wouldn't get the wrong idea. It's not like he cared about her feelings or anything. The Tenth did, so this was all to make the situation less burdensome on Gokudera's beloved Juudaime—the bomber thought to himself.

All three remaining pairs of eyes turned in the Italian's direction and he grew red in the face. "Hey baseball idiot! What're you staring at?!"

"Maa maa, don't be shy Gokudera-kun." Yamamoto laughed. "It's so nice to see that you and Akira-chan get along well!"

"W-what?! Are you crazy?! I'm not doing this for her!" the bomber hollered, growing redder in the face. "She was making the Tenth worried, that's all!"

"G-Gokudera-kun!" Tsuna hastened to pacify the situation quickly before the entire lobby of the school building exploded under the force of the silver-haired Italian's bombs.

The bright sound of girlish giggles disrupted the little one-sided quarrel. Akira smiled brightly at the three very confused teens before her, and that alone subdued many of their worries.

"I'm alright Tsuna-kun." She said. "I was only very surprised that something like this could happen here as well. I thought bullying out of jealousy only happened in big cities like Tokyo, but I guess the horrors of female emotion know no bounds."

"Eh?!" Tsuna gasped as they headed out into the late afternoon sun. "Akira-chan, do you mean that this has happened to you before?"

She nodded. "When I first started attending Ginrei Academy, I was met with a lot of hostility." The youth stole a sly glance at Yamamoto. He caught her eyes, and they both burst into laughter. "Why don't you tell them the rest Takeshi?" She offered.

"Sure!" Her cousin responded cheerfully. "Akira-chan has an older brother who already started attending the academy the year prior, and he was very good-looking. So the older girls who wanted to be close to him gave her a lot of trouble."

Tsuna scrunched up his nose. "That's so childish!" he exclaimed. "There's nothing wrong with an older brother carrying for his younger sister. Those senpais weren't being fair to Akira-chan at all!"

"I guess so." Akira murmured as she spun a dark lock of hair around her finger, but she didn't look to feel sorry for herself. Instead, the youth smiled a little mysteriously. "Nonetheless, thank you for standing up for me Tsuna-kun."

"So some hormonal amazons are jealous of you and Hibari. Big deal!" Gokudera snorted. "But," he stared her sharply in the eye, "are you just going to let them walk all over you like this?"

"Hmm~" Akira hummed, and Tsuna felt shivers go down his spine—the kind he got whenever Hibari-san spoke. "That'll be disappointing, wouldn't it."

As the group continued home, a small black shadow that had pursued them in their path remained fixated at the top of a large tree. In his hand was the same white note that had been placed in Akira's shoe-locker. Underneath the original message, newer, childishly written characters glowed bright red in the evening sun: you better run. Reborn smirked under the rim of his fedora, seemingly pleased. "The carnivore's finally showing her fangs. Perfect."