SPOILERS FOR CHAPTERS 293-294. OF THE KIND THAT MIGHT MAKE SOME OF US BAWL.
Set in-between those chapters. Reaction fic, pretty much ; I'd been wanting to write Gokudera's reaction ever since 293 came out but I was sure that 294 would joss it and that having written it differently would make me even more disappointed.
Turned out 294 encouraged it instead.
Gokudera wishes he could still say he isn't worried about the fucking stupidly cretinous baseball idiot who's missing a brain, but this time he really can't.
Because when he finds himself standing in some emergencies waiting room, not knowing the time or where the goddamn hospital even is or where the Tenth is and what he's doing, even Gokudera, king of denial, has got to admit to himself that he's freaked out of his mind.
An hour ago, he was patrolling around the school, as he's been doing every day of this week.
Half an hour ago, he was taking a break, having a smoke by the baseball grounds with half a mind to go and check up on Yamamoto, see if he'd noticed anything strange, when he heard the shouting.
Turf-Top had just come out from the locker room and was calling and gesturing wildly ; Gokudera just yelled back, automatically, telling him to stop being so damn noisy before the words registered in his brain.
"Octopus-Head, thank god you're here, c'm'on, stay with Yamamoto - Kangaryuu's taking care of him but he's -"
Gokudera was running, and then he was at the door next to Sasagawa, and then he was frozen into place. He heard Sasagawa's voice, calling behind him, but he doesn't remember what he said, didn't hear a word, his panicked voice reduced to white background noise to the spectacle inside the locker room.
There was Yamamoto, on the floor ; and there was blood. There was a lot of blood.
Gokudera has seen blood, many, many times. Often in such huge amounts. Often on the baseball idiot. Often on dead bodies.
He'd never seen something quite so close to a combination of all the above, though, and it'd never been so frightening.
He must have stood there the whole time Sasagawa went to meet the ambulance people and show them the way to the baseball field. He must have. But the next thing he remembers was climbing in the ambulance - not even walking to it - and then waiting, cramped and hustled in the small space, next to Yamamoto's bloody mess of a body and people in surgical masks already starting to treat him in the goddamn ambulance, his left leg touching Yamamoto's dangling arm, and Lawn-Head completely silent next to him.
That felt like hours. He's heard the phrase and thought it cliché and ridiculous but fuck, it's true. The clock above the door says the trip must've taken less than thirty minutes but it felt like hours, watching Yamamoto lose more blood than Gokudera thought a human body contained and then some more. Watching Yamamoto not move, not wake, not smile.
And then, he was here.
And now he's here.
He doesn't even know where here is, besides on the other side of the door of the emergency room where Yamamoto is being operated on.
It's ridiculous. Absolutely un-fucking-believable, that he'd react like such a kid, like such an idiot, when even Lawn-Head is coming to his senses and behaving like someone with a brain. He's sat down, he's calling people - he's called Chrome Dokuro, for God's sake, probably Hibari too and now he's apparently going through the entire Shimon famiglia - to let them know whatever the fuck's happened, and Gokudera is standing there, shell-shocked, as if he's never seen a drop of blood before. As if he's never seen people he knew die before.
But - not -
(Dio, per favore, non Yamamoto.)
"Gokudera," Sasagawa says, tapping him on the shoulder and handing him his phone. "You should call Tsuna."
Gokudera takes in a breath like a gasp, like a drowning man's last gulp of air - and slaps his hand away and takes his own phone out from his pocket. "I know, geez," he mutters, scowling in irritation, but his voice is shaking.
Why does it feel like it's his own chest that's been split open and why is the acidic taste of bile coming up his throat ?
Why is this happening to Yamamoto out of nowhere so much worse than getting injured beyond being able to help the Tenth was ?
Why does it hurt so fucking much ?
Sasagawa tells him the name of the hospital and Gokudera calls the Tenth's cell-phone, then his house, and does not break down in hysterics when Sawada Nana carefreely admits her son hasn't come back from school yet and she has no idea where he might be and Gokudera realizes that neither does he.
He's losing his mind over Yamamoto's well-being and he has no idea where the Tenth is. The world has stopped making sense, completely, utterly. This has got to be a dream, a stupid dream, a fucking nightmare, except he always wakes up the second he realizes he's dreaming.
He doesn't panic. He doesn't really react. He thinks, coldly, detachedly, remembers that the Ninth asked to meet the Tenth just a few days before. He didn't record the number Reborn gave him in his cell, but he remembers it, crystal-clear - no hesitation, no second-thought as he punches in the number and waits.
It's like he's outside of it all, or everything is happening outside of him, everything that's not Yamamoto. His brain is stuck on the image of Yamamoto and the blood, the feeling of his much-too-cold body as Gokudera dragged it out of the room - he shouldn't have moved him, he knows better, now what if because of him - and for everything else, he's running on autopilot.
He's able to summon the Vongola Decimo's Right-Hand Man persona long enough to be coherent, professional even, as he gets the Tenth on the line and reports to him the situation as it stands -
Yamamoto being sewn back shut an operating table a few feet from him, on the other side of a goddamn door, and no idea what the fuck happened to him, who the fuck did this to him because he hasn't so much as batted an eye ever since they found him laying in a puddle of his own blood
- he's even got enough sense not to say it in those words.
He even remembers the name of the hospital and to tell the Tenth.
He hangs up, and finally notices the blood. Yamamoto's blood, all over his hand, smeared on the phone.
"I'm going to wash up," he hears himself say, as if through a thick fog, coating and muffling all sounds.
He doesn't hear Sasagawa's response.
It's not because of the icy water running over his hands and forearms.
It's not the reason why he's shaking, either.
He leans over the bathroom sink, watches the red stains of Yamamoto's blood wash away as if it's never been there, as if nothing's happened.
The wound was in his front. He was injured from the front. He saw whoever did this, he let them come close enough to do it.
(He knew them.)
Fucking idiotic, naive Yamamoto, far too trusting, far too kind.
Gokudera splashes water over his face, blinks it out of his stinging eyes and runs a wet hand over the nape of his neck (burning), brushes back his disheveled hair before he dares look up at himself in the mirror.
He's fairly sure the baseball freak would find it funny to see him like this ; he can just hear his laughter, his disbelieving but happy voice -
"Gokudera's worried about me ? Ahaa, but I'm okay, really !"
He closes his eyes, tight ; swallows hard ; bites the inside of his lip
and wishes, with an intensity he hasn't felt in years (never again since he heard that the nice woman who played the piano had died in a car crash and happened to be his mother), wishes to hear it for real, again, soon.
When he comes out, the Dokuro girl and half of the Shimon family are there and the Tenth is on his way, and he shrugs in response to Mizuno Kaoru's anxious questioning.
"He'll be just fine. Baseball freak won't die this easily."
Mizuno looks away, Dokuro sniffles, Sasagawa frowns so deeply he suddenly looks ten years older. Gokudera turns his back on them all, takes out his phone again (wipes away the blood with a tissue paper he shoves in his back pocket) and dials one more number that Sasagawa doesn't know.
"Mr Yamamoto ?" he says. "This is Gokudera Hayato, a friend of your son."