Warning: second-pov useage!

This took the life out of me to write, but it was oh-so-worth it. I only regret not being able to include Gokudera's love for cryptozoology.

I'm a little put off with the line breaks in this site, but my dashes just don't show up. Ah well. In any case, read, enjoy, and review~!

Edit: I made a companion fic to this! It's in Shamal's and Bianchi's POVs. If you enjoyed this one, you should check the other one out too. It's called "Our Mistakes" (:

Gokudera Hayato

There is something wrong, you think worriedly to yourself. It is a quiet afternoon, with no guests to entertain, and yet that man, your father, has asked you to play for him. He has a cold look on his face you dare not look at.

He scares you most of the time, but today more than ever.

Your chest feels tight, and even though you are only three, you know something is wrong.

Even though you are only three, you know not to question it.

At six, your skill in piano has increased drastically. It was a shame you could never perform without an aching stomach, but if it was for your family, you would do it.

There are a lot of things you would do for your family, despite the odd sense of not belonging that struck you sometimes. You feel silly every time the thought pops into your head and at the same time... not.

You were born a Mafioso, and yet your father never looks at you unless you are touching the cold ivory keys of the piano.

"The games the other kids play aren't fun," you complain as you come out into the balcony. There is a grumpy look on your face, one that screams out boredom with capital letters.

Dr. Shamal barely spares a glance at you, but this doesn't faze you. You are used to being ignored by him. "Hey Dr. Shamal, teach me how to use the Trident Mosquito," you demand as you look up at him expectantly. At this he does turn. There is an almost amused look on his face.

"What? After copying my hairstyle, you want to copy my assassinations skills, too?" He snorts.

You like the way he turns to face you completely and stares straight into your eyes. For a moment, you forget what this is all about, because you can't help but think resentfully, Father never looks at me like this.

And then your eyes widen—"Bombs?" you exclaim in surprise.

"They're dynamites, though these are the small ones," Shamal explains with a rare look of patience on his face.

The tiny artillery look cool in Shamal's big hands, but you can't help but to frown at them. "That's lame!" you scoff. Your excitement is lost immediately after you realize the drawbacks of the weapon. "While I prepare that the enemies will run away!" you explain to him, reflecting the doctor's look right back at him. You hear him sigh and grumble.

"Kids like you don't understand the delicacy of mid-range weapons. Let me show you first and then you can judge," he tells you and you wait.

The results aren't disappointing, but then again he never is.

"Happy Birthday, Hayato," your sister whispers in your ear, smiling brightly and expectantly. In her hands a platter of cookies awaits you, and your stomach turns in trepidation knowing what was to come.

"Ugh," you groan an hour later, clutching at your stomach painfully as you resist the urge to throw up. Bianchi's food was always lethal, but for your family, you could endure it. You are seven now, you remind yourself in between deep breaths.

You wonder what your sister has put in her food this time because the side effects don't usually last this long. You do not have much time before having to return to your party... You grimace, trying to calm your stomach.

There are footsteps in the distance, and they are getting closer. Your face is tinged purple and your stomach is grumbling loudly in protest, but you straighten up, not wanting to be caught off guard.

But it is only Shamal. And even if just for a moment you feel yourself relax. This proves to be a mistake however because next thing you know, you are on your knees and then on his arms and everything feels wrong. You whimper through the blinding pain in your stomach.

You hear the other sigh something about treating men and kids, but before you can ask him to repeat it—

It is night when you wake up, and you are alone in your room. Your father will be angry that you missed your party, but at the moment none of that matters.

There is a small red car sitting at your bedside and your stomach no longer hurts.

It hurts more than you think it would, but your face can't help but to beam with pride. That'll teach them to call you a piano-playing weakling.

"Look Shamal! I won! I got my honor back!" you exclaim as you rush over to him. You are happy you have spotted him, and can't help but to brag about your accomplishment.

"They freaked out and misfired all their bullets when I ran in with my bombs!" you explain to him, giddy. Your birthday is just around the corner, and for once you are looking forward to it. With your arm broken, there's no way you could possibly perform.

You don't think you've ever had a better day.

And then, "I won't teach you to kill anymore." Your smile drops in surprise.

"W-What?" you stutter, wide-eyed and confused.

"You're not seeing a single thing," he says to you, but you aren't listening. There is a horrible feeling curling in your stomach that's making you wonder if your sister is around. The doctor frowns at you for a moment before becoming cold again. "For guys like you, there's nothing left for me to teach," he says before turning to leave.

You feel your words leave you in your shock, and you can't even protest at his retreating back.

There is a scar burning just beneath your elbow, something you were proud of just a few moments ago.

It will forever be a reminder of rejection.

"Did you hear?" the maids whisper quietly, huddling close. You roll your eyes and ignore them, knowing better than to listen to the commoners' gossip.

You are eight-going-on-nine in three weeks and still playing with the red miniature car Shamal gave you.

"About Master Hayato?" You perk up at your name.

"Yes, and about his mother," they say and you frown. It was no secret that Mother didn't love you, and you feel angry at the maids for even gossiping about it—they had no right.

"Shhh," a new voice whispers. "We shouldn't talk about it—what if Master Hayato hears?" she warns them, worry in her voice, and you nod to yourself in approval.

You think the conversation is over then, but later, in even quieter voices, you hear—

Mother is dead? Your eyes widen in horror. Bianchi will be sad, you know, and then wonder why you are not.

"The Mistress is—!" one of them cries out, distraught, before being hushed over.

"No, no. You mean, you didn't know?"

"Know what?" someone asks, sounding just as confused as you feel.

"She was that pianist the Master fell in love with," the maid explains. And three seconds later, it clicks.

It explained everything. Like why Father did not look at you anymore—not since you stopped playing the piano. And why Mother—not yours, not really—would glare at you when she thought you were not looking.

And then, "I heard his real mother died when he was only three. Her car fell off a cliff on her way to see the young Master. The poor dear doesn't even know." They sigh forlornly, pityingly.

"I hear she was murdered," they say, but you already know.

The next day you are gone. For a moment, you wonder if they'll even care, before remembering your anger and your hurt and your thoughts of revenge. You remember the ghost of your mother's fingers at your cheek, of that beautiful lady you often saw in your dreams as a kid, whom you had forgotten about.

Mom, you whisper when you fall asleep that night, and the next, and the next. It's the only thing that keeps you going as you try to find a place to belong.

You are ten and a half when you see him by the corner of your eye. Shamal hasn't changed, you think minutely, cold and tired and wary of him. His face is void of emotion, just like that day two years ago, and it makes you want to laugh and laugh and laugh even when he picks you up and carries you away.

In your dreams, you hear their taunting words.

"You expect us to trust an oriental half-breed with the boss's life? Don't make us laugh!" they jeer mockingly.

"Stupid kid, you can't do anything right! Get out of our sight!"

And also, "I won't teach you anymore, Hayato."

You wake up on a couch with a warm blanket over your body. You don't understand adults, you snort, your hands tightly clutching at the fabric. All you can think of is that red miniature car and piano music.

At eleven, you are still not old enough to get a job, but somehow you manage. It is degrading but necessary because Shamal sure as hell never stays home long enough to feed you, even though he tried to at first.

The days are long, full of work and condescending jerks—who make you want to light the dynamites you keep hidden within your body, but you endure it. Later, when you are patching yourself up—"I don't treat men"—you remind yourself that this pain is worth it because you can't stop training yourself, not if you want to be accepted.

On the nights you can't sleep—because of work, because of training, because of the women giggling and moaning on the top floor—you try to remember what mom looked like.

It's hard.

At twelve, you wonder if all of this is even worth it.

You are fed up of being kicked out of families, of being beaten up, of not being respected.

There are bruises under your collarbone, and dark circles under your eyes. You don't even want to see what the rest of you looks like at the moment. You feel tired, and it's not because you haven't slept in the past 32 hours.

You collapse face down on Shamal's couch and find yourself unable to sleep. It wasn't your objective in any case. You were just taking a breather.

As you contemplate if Shamal will notice that you are bleeding on his couch, the door opens with a bang. Your nose wrinkles distastefully as the smell of alcohol and smoke rolls in with a keen giggle and a lewd voice—Shamal's, of course.

You kind of wish you had at least gotten a blanket to cover yourself, because suddenly there is silence and before you know it you are alone again.

Shamal is going to be angry at you when he comes back later, but why do you care anyway?

It is while you finish patching yourself up that you wonder what it means to be respected.

You think of those guys you beat up only last week, of some of the women you see Shamal bring into the house. Most of all you think of your father.

The next day, there is a brand new box of cigarettes sitting in your pocket. You are smart. You know the consequences that come with smoking. It takes you less time than you expect to light the first one up.

You've got nothing to lose.

You wonder if Shamal will even notice.

You glare lividly at the guys in front of you. You can taste blood trickling down your mouth, and make a move to wipe it. The cigarette rolls expertly around your lips to avoid making contact with the wound.

"Stupid punk," one of them hisses, fuming. "Even if you search all over Italy there won't be a single family willing to hire the likes of you!"

The words echo truthfully, and hurt more than anybody will ever know, but you know better than to let it show on your face. Instead you growl under your breath, pushing him off of you. You feel the urge to blow this guy up increase before remembering what you did to the other guy's face.

"Tch, whatever." You decide to end it, suddenly out of the mood of the whole affair.

Tomorrow is your birthday, you remember on your way back to Shamal's.

When you arrive, Shamal is surprisingly there.

"And what, do you think you're doing?" Shamal's voice is flat as he glares at the cigarette dangling from your lips.

Like you care what he thinks. "Taking a shower, you dumb pervert," you announce, heading over to the bathroom. There is a stinging bitch of a wound you need to take care of, and you are not in the mood to deal with whatever is going on with this idiot.

"Hayato," he hisses warningly, out of nowhere, making you wonder what the fuck is his problem. So you ask.

"!" You feel your breath leave you as Shamal slams you into the wall gripping your shoulders tightly. "Fuck you," you gasp breathlessly because goddammit, your wound is killing you. Shamal's face looks livid, and you wonder why the hell he chose today of all fucking days—

"Get out," he demands coldly, and the way this catches you off guard makes you immediately snort.

This was disappointing, but then again Shamal always is.

You are fourteen when you get the call. "Come to Japan," says Reborn, already arranging the flight.

The whole thing is more than a little suspicious, but there is a glimmer of hope you don't dare to let go. Suddenly, you are glad you have been learning Japanese since you were a kid—and that you kept practice after running off—because this, this is your last chance. You cannot fail.

He is everything you hoped for.

"It's not worth sacrificing your life over such a thing! Hurry up and come back!" you hear the old pervert scream, sounding almost concerned.

"Stop joking around," you snap at him, grunting as your wound hits a pointy pile of books and your vision begins to blur. "How can I go back empty handed?" you growl, not really aware of what you're saying anymore; you're much too focused in your struggle against this psychopath, and it's really taking up the last of you strength. The little bitch is pulling at your hair, and clawing at your throat. A split second later, you catch Bel's jaw with your fist before trying to tear his ring away once more. "Hayato!" you hear that bastard yell through the speakers again. "Did you forget everything I told you before the training?"

The question nags at you, but you still haven't forgiven him, not for anything. Not even after you know why he stopped training you all those years ago.

"I won't go back even if it costs me my life!" you shout with conviction, because you found something worth sacrificing your life for now. Even if it was for a short time, you owe a lot to the Tenth. You would do anything for him. Even if it meant dying.

It's a shame you'll never reach fifteenth, you think faintly as you hear the explosions get closer.

And then, "Stop joking around!" you hear his voice, sounding furious. "What do you think we're battling for?" The way his voice sounds so pained makes you want to cry for some reason. It makes you stop in your tracks. "I want to laugh with everyone once again," he tells you, pleading. "But what meaning will it have if you die?"

I'll get stronger, you think later that night. You are glad to be alive. Glad he wants you to live. I'll protect him. I won't lose ever again.

"Sorry Tenth…the ring was taken, but I came back because I wanted to watch the fireworks together."

Nineteen-going-on-twenty has you looking proud in your black suit and red tie. The Tenth stands next to you, looking both nervous and determined. You can't help but to smile.

"It'll be alright," you reassure him, shortly before the inheritance ceremony begins. He gives you a relieved smile—beaming and beautiful—that takes your breath away.

At this moment you realize you haven't thought about your father in years. You haven't passed out at your sister face in months.

You don't even know when it was that you forgave that stupid perverted doctor.

The world is perfect and it is because you can always be by his side. You vow never to let anything happen to him.

You hope your mother is proud of the person you've become.

You are twenty-four when everything goes out of control. The Sky is falling.

Your life is over.

And then, "G-Gokudera-kun?"