Title: Like Summer In Venice
Series: Reborn!
Day/Theme: November twelfth | in a back alley (with allies) (late/08)
Character/Pairing: Gokudera/Tsuna
Summary: This is what it is to be a mafia boss, he realizes. It is protecting those you love. It's never leaving the family behind. GokuderaTsuna
Rating: PG-13.
A/N: For Linlin, Daze & Jacey. ♥ I've had this in my drafts for ages. Sorta Early canon, etc. The Gauntlet, 33) I could feel your heartbeat across the grass.

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It's too hot to even think. Tsuna leans back his clothes slightly damp with sweat. Gokudera-kun's feet are bare and Tsuna can feel his friend wiggle his toes next to his leg. Their jeans are rolled up, Tsuna's almost to his knees. There was once a tragic accident to his shorts involving a stray piece of dynamite. (Lambo's and not Gokudera's, incidentally.) Much of Tsuna's wardrobe was lost in that incident, but he manages. (Gokudera determinedly brings over his clothes until Tsuna's wardrobe is saturated with jeans that are a bit too long and smell like summer in Venice.)

It's Summer school, again. Tsuna doesn't expect anything less, considering his grades. The heat is stifling. Reborn treats the weather like it's some kind of summer festival. He revels in it. (But Reborn always has liked making people squirm)

Reborn, in fact, has just left not half an hour ago with Bianchi His yukata is a light olive green color while her yukata is of peacocks strutting over a brilliant indigo world. It's so hot that Tsuna can barely breathe. Gokudera-kun plucks out a paper fan from his bag, and pulls out a pair of watermelons. He cuts them with his own knife that he always keeps hidden in his boots. (At this point, the school has given up trying to take the various explosives and weapons from him. It lessens the eventual damage if they just pretend that they don't have a minor mafioso started in their school.)

They're a deep green, like laying in the shade in the grass and staring up at the sky, at the passing clouds. The insides are ruddy and juicy pink. Little black seeds fall out as he slices it this way and that. He gives Tsuna the largest pieces. The 'half' is frankly biased towards Tsuna, closer to 70/30 than 50/50.

Gokudera-kun always has a bias towards him.

Gokudera-kun spits the black seeds at the wall which has already been patched from Reborn's influence already. Juice drops down his chin. Tsuna sighs as the cool juice falls to his chest, and leaves him wet and sticky.

Gokudera-kun's shirt is unbuttoned all the way. A swash of skin shows through, sticky and wet from juice. His skin would taste sweet if he licked it, Tsuna thinks. Like watermelon with a hint of salt.

He doesn't know where that thought comes from. He tries to quickly replace it with a image of Kyoko-chan, but he can't unseee the image in his mind or undo the fact that it was pleasing – so much more pleasing that it's a shock to his system. This is Gokudera-kun. His friend.

Because the image with Gokudera-kun is only a step away from being real. Images of Kyoko-chan are about as real as him ever becoming a rock star. A nice idea, but even Tsuna knows he will never amount to anything like that.

But for Gokudera-kun, all he has to do is reach.

He doesn't lick Gokudera-kun's chest like the image in his mind, but he does run his thumb down Gokudera-kun's chest and lifts it to his mouth to taste the sweetness. The heat must be frying his brain.

Gokudera-kun looks red-faced, shocked. His mouth is slightly agape.

"Tenth–"

"I-It's sweet?" Tsuna says as if that'd explain his actions. At this point he barely knows. His face is flushed from heat, from embarrassment and something else that was quiet and unexplained until now.

Gokudera-kun tilts his head towards him. Tsuna has watched enough movies to know exactly what this is. The hero kisses the heroine at the end. (He wonders if that means he's the heroine in this scenario. He's still not sure.) But Tsuna is almost surprised to find that he isn't opposed to this option. It's even pleasing... as if in a trance, he tilts in two, and...

The door below slams. It wakes Tsuna out of the trance and back into the reality that Gokudera-kun is shirtless and he's practically shirtless and they're practically kissing.

He looks up at Gokudera-kun who had him pinned to the wall and whose eyes are on his lips. Suddenly the glaze of the heat peels away and everything hazy is all too clear.

"Uh, I think Reborn is calling me!"

.

After that, things revert to normal as if nothing happened. Or almost do. Except when he daydreams of Kyoko-chan, instead he sees Gokudera-kun. It's Gokudera-kun's hand he's holding, Gokudera-kun's mouth he's kissing. Gokudera-kun he's walking beside.

Now that he's touched this, or almost touched it, he can't seem to shake this image away.

Kyoko-chan dates an upperclassman. She walks home with him, their hands clasped and swinging between them. Tsuna isn't upset. Who would think that No-Good-Tsuna would ever get a chance with her, anyways? (And that is the reason, the only reason. This is what he tells himself.)

.

His life remains torn between normal and the craziness that is being a mafia-boss-in-training. Today Reborn simply started with "We're going to train today. We've got a special job to do this time.

"I wonder what Reborn has planned this time," Tsuna says.

Gokudera-kun looks about suspiciously. This isn't the best part of town, even Tsuna can tell this. Reborn always has a reason, but it always isn't clear.

Reborn just gives his childish, not-so-innocent almost smile. Yamamoto is busy at baseball practice. It's just Reborn and them. A stray dog howls in the distance. A mangy wild alley cat dashes out.

"So, what are we doing anyways?" Tsuna says. He feels awkward in this claustrophobic place.

"Waiting," Reborn says. He looks deceptively innocent, and that is when he's most dangerous.

"This is Kobe territory," Gokudera-kun says. His face darkens as they catch sounds, of scraping, of footsteps coming closer.

(He now remembers that Reborn had mentioned the Kobe family, a new usurper in the Yazuka territory. He had said something about eliminating, but Tsuna hadn't really been listening too closely. He never could when he was hungry.)

It doesn't take long for them to come out of the dark corners. Low-grade Yazuka thugs, minor gang members who still manage to be threatening. The thugs creep around them, they come seemingly from the shadows. Iron knuckles and chains, knifes hidden under baggy clothing.

One of the thugs, one with a shaved head and a loose t-shirt with a skull on it flips open a knife. He must be the leader, Tsuna thinks.

"Stay back, Tenth."

Gokudera steps in front of him, he pushes Tsuna back to the wall where he can't be attacked. He grips a stick of dynamite and lights it from the ember of his cigarette.

Tsuna looks around, but Reborn is nowhere to be seen.

And then after that, nothing is clear. There's explosions and movement, and flashes of metal. Knuckles, He sees Gokudera-kun dodging a knife, and then taking another one in the side. He grimaces as the pain hits him. The group closes in, but Gokudera-kun refuses to move from his spot, no matter what injury it might cause himself. Blood paints the side of Gokudera's shirt, seeping through. There's a spray of blood and ash on his cheek. There'll be new scars, soon.

But Tsuna doesn't want this. He doesn't want to hang back, being no-good Tsuna for the rest of his days and having Gokudera-kun protect him at the cost of his own life. He doesn't want to be boss if that means that he's the same old weakling he's always been. He doesn't want to be a failure anymore.

"What is it you want to protect?" Reborn once said. ""In the end, this is how you will find your way as a mafia leader – your family–"

He feels the first pressure of the bullet, not painful, precisely. Uncomfortable, yet freeing.

"Fight with Gokudera-kun as if I were to die!"

After that, everything is still more unclear. It always is when he's in this state between life and death. He feels the backdraft of more explosions, and he feels the metal like it's a mere scratch. The Kobe clan made one dire mistake: they threatened Gokudera-kun, they threatened his family. By there mere existence, by their mere goals and he can't forgive them for the wounds they've left.

"Tenth—!"

He is fast, a flurry of blows. Soon the walls are painted with destruction, the leavings of rubble and craggy rock pieces. They are painted with blood that isn't his, and isn't Gokudera-kun's either.

This is what it is to be a mafia boss, he realizes. It is protecting those you love. It's never leaving the family behind.

.

Gokudera-kun needs ten stitches to close up the wound. Gokudera leans on him the whole time as they hobble out to a ratty inner city emergency room which is overworked and understaffed.

No one believes the 'he fell on a knife while cooking' story, but in a place like this, no one asks.

Gokudera-kun swears so vulgarly while he's cleaned and sewn up that Tsuna is surprised the plants don't wither in the wake of it (then he realizes, they're plastic. That explains it.)

His wounds are already healed, so there was nothing to check. Still, Gokudera-kun insisted he go first to be sure, to be sure.

Between the swearing, the threats of death at a harried nurse, Gokudera-kun smiles back at him.

It'll take more than that to take me down, Tenth. Don't worry.

Tsuna feels helpless at this angle. It is a feeling he is used to feeling, but one that he swears he's going to conquer. This is a first step towards something, a future he still hasn't quite gotten a grip on.

Reborn would be proud, he thinks.

.

Days later they're laying in the grass like they were normal schoolchildren, like they hadn't just taken down an enemy faction of the Kobe clan. Gokudera-kun's side is still tender. He's acted distracted all day, but it's come out especially with them during the last hours, waiting for Yamamoto to join them. He can almost feel the nervousness of Gokudera-kun's heartbeat from here.

"What is it, Gokudera-kun?"

Gokudera-kun looks away, face flushed.

"Tell me."

"I'm sorry, Tenth," Gokudera-kun says.

"Hmm?" Tsuna says. Gokudera-kun leans in like that time before. He winces from the pain in his side, and Tsuna reaches out and steadies him. He realizes that Gokudera-kun is staring at his lips again. Oh.

He's almost dizzy with the realization of how much he wants this when Yamamoto's voice breaks through.

"Were you guys waiting for me?" Yamamoto says.

Gokudera-kun looks murderous, as if he might beat Yamamoto death with his own bat and then dynamite the body for good measure.

"No, we weren't—"

"Hi, Yamamoto!"

Yamamoto smiles cordially. "Am I interrupting anything?"

"It's ok, Yamamoto, we were just–"

"YES. GET OUT."

"I'll go put my bat away, then," Yamamoto says, completely unfazed by Gokudera-kun's outburst.

Gokudera-kun remains staring murderously until Yamamoto disappears from sight.

"You were saying something, Gokudera-kun?"

Gokudera-kun pushes him to the grass and kisses him. His hand is by Tsuna's head. Tsuna is aware of the contrasts: the tickling feel of the grass beneath him, the warmth of Gokudera-kun's mouth. It's not like the daydreams he's had before of Kyoko-chan, it's better than he ever imagined.

He gasps as a bit of pleasure slips between the cracks down deep into him and Gokudera-kun takes it as a sign to go further. He feels Gokudera-kun's tongue against his upper lip, and then testing inside his mouth, against his tongue.

They only break apart when they hear someone clearing his throat. Yamamoto. He's getting rather good at coming at the worst times.

"Congratulations," Yamamoto says, "Can't say I didn't see it coming. Maybe I should leave you two alone?"

"Yes, you should–"

"No, it's ok, Yamamo. We're family, and family doesn't keep secrets," Tsuna says. He smiles, bright. Yamamoto smiles back. Gokudera-kun most definitely does not smile.

"Well, this is going to be awkward," Yamamoto says cheerfully, "I think I'll walk ahead a bit. Otherwise, Gokudera-kun here might blow me into pieces."

Gokudera-kun mutters something that sounds like damn straight I will, thought Tsuna wasn't sure he quite caught it.

With Yamamoto up ahead, it's just them again, and while Tsuna almost expects to feel awkward after ths kiss, he doesn't. How can he feel awkward around Gokudera-kun?

So he doesn't. He embraces this feeling and takes it for as far as it will go. He turns to Gokudera-kun and a stray thought comes.

"Uh....Your first name...it's Hayato, isn't it?"

Gokudera-kun blinks. "Yeah. Why?"

Tsuna thinks of the kanjis and tries to remember their meanings. He thinks of writing the idea that makes of Gokudera Hayato. Tomorrow he will have to ask Gokudera-kun

"I thought so. Hayato-kun. Let's walk home."

Hayato-kun blushes. Funny, how Tsuna never realized how surprisingly cute Hayato-kun was when he blushed. 'Cute' was not usually an adjective used to describe Hayato-kun, but it really was undeniable.

He takes Hayato-kun's hand in his own. At this point, he doesn't care if anyone sees them or calls them names. If anyone dared to do such a thing, they'd either die a violent death via dynamite or broken bones via Yamamoto's help.

Family members never leave each other behind.

And he thinks that t his isn't what he planned, but somehow it's alright. This isn't Kyoko-chan by his side, but that now feels like a distant dream that one never truly expects to come truly. He is happy, and nothing else matters in the end, now does it?

.

From an outpost, looking close through a sniper scope, Reborn smiles that same, old-beyond-his-years smile. Yamamoto walks ahead, and from here he can see that Yamamoto is whistling. Gokudera and Tsuna hold hands, all awkward and new.

Moreover, Tsuna has learned the meaning of family, and what that entails.

He puts aside his rifle and looks at the long climb down.

"Mission accomplished," he says.