Disclaimer: I do not own Katekyo Hitman Reborn.

A/N: Event/thought. A semi-prequel to "Summer of Love" and "Two Can Play at This Game". This story is set in a peaceful future when Tsuna and his friends are around 17 or 18 years old. Please pay attention to the timeline, it might be helpful to keep track of the events in this chapter and the next. That's all for now. Have fun and let me know what you think!


Part 1: Gokudera Hayato


"I like you, Gokudera! More than just a friend…" The baseball star took hold of the bomber's left wrist and locked his amber gaze into stormy emerald orbs.

"What are you talking about, baseball idiot? You are… I…like…girls, yeah! So, what the hell!" The silver head recoiled violently while jerking his hand away. His heart was pounding; an unknown fear or perhaps thrill raced through his veins, sending his body into a defensive alertness.

Yamamoto sighed softly and turned his warm orbs toward the long row of windows behind Gokudera. The silence of the empty hallway in which they stood engulfed their motionless body; time seemed to have stopped.

"Take your time. I'm willing to wait for a proper answer." The eighteen year old Rain guardian smiled politely before walking away. From the high window, the Storm could see his friend's strained form exiting Namimori High with his face toward the setting sun. It was the last day of their high school career.

When the sun greeted their first day of summer, the new generation of Vongola boarded the Famiglia's private jet and headed for roughly two months of Mafia trainings at the Italian base. Everyone was there, except for the Cloud who left earlier with Dino. The natural born hitman appeared to be his normal cheerful self on the trip even though his grin did not fully reach his eyes, but only the Storm could tell.


A week later, Yamamoto left the Vongola Italian Base with the Varia's sword emperor to further improve his skills. A couple of days after, the Bucking Horse approached a sulky and bored Gokudera who had just breezed through his daily training and preparation with much more ease than Tsuna and the other guardians at the Base.

"I heard you like girls, right? Would you like to go on a date, and who knows, meet someone who might interest you?" The Cavallone boss leaned over with his hands in his pocket and completely blocked the sunshine in which Gokudera was basking. Seeing no harm in escaping boredom, the right-hand-man took up the offer. With Tsuna's wholehearted encouragement, the Storm went on his first double date with the Tenth's self-proclaimed older brother.

The group of four was seated in a high-class Italian restaurant. Two men in formal suit sat across from their female companions. The warm light of the sparkling chandelier above their table shone brightly on the jewelries Gokudera's red-headed date wore for this night. Apparently, Dino was obligated to have dinner with an important ally's daughter who was the girl sitting across from the sweet-talking blonde. As misery loves company, the Storm also shared the privilege of having her sister as a date.

"So, Hayato, you now know what I like and dislike. It's your turn to tell me about those things." The red head spoke cheerfully while looking seductively at him under her long lashes. Truth be told, the Storm really tried to listen to her chatters, but the mundane topics and her voice were grating on his nerves.

"You know what! I dislike your jewelries blinding me wherever I turn. The mole above your mouth is obnoxious! I don't like the disaster that is your neon pink dress which clashes violently with your unnatural red hair. I would like very much that you cease your incessant nonsense and leave me the fu…" Angry emerald eyes snapped up from his plate and the Vongola right-hand man started spewing uncensored Italian. The young woman calmly poured herself a glass full of red wine while Gokudera was expressing his unsolicited opinions without thinking.

"You disgusting Neanderthal! Don't you dare talk to me that way! And, this is for implying I am uglier than my sister." Her slightly raised voice passed through her clenched jaws as the red head stood up from her seat. A great splash of burgundy liquid doused the Storm's face and drenched his hair in all of its crimson glory. After slamming her emptied wine glass down on the table top, the angry young lady stomped out of the restaurant. Her worried sister ran after her, leaving Dino and Gokudera stunned at the now frowned-upon table.

Dino quickly recovered, shook his head at the Vongola right-hand-man and put a large sum of money on the table before following the two upset sisters. While Gokudera was doing his best to dry himself with the linen napkin, their appetizers arrived from the kitchen to an almost empty table. Picking up a piece of fancy bread, the Storm made his exit.


A smiling Romario was waiting for the Vongola Storm in front of the restaurant. Getting into the Cavallone's car, the silver haired Italian lost himself in thoughts as he stared out the car window through the long drive.

Okay, so he did not understand a girl's logic or thought process. Fine, being kind with words was never his specialty either. It was more of the baseball idiot's kind of thing. Gokudera did not notice how effortlessly he switched his thoughts to Yamamoto, and so he continued along the line. The Japanese swordsman had never minded what Gokudera said, yelled or growled anyway. Insults flew over the idiot's head as if they were terms of endearment. Ever since the Storm accepted their friendship and allowed the tall Japanese a small spot in his well-guarded heart in that alternate future, Gokudera could always be himself around the baseball star and Tsuna.

The Storm exhaled against the cool glass pane. What's the point of getting to know to someone if I cannot honestly be myself in that person's company? Maybe the baseball idiot's just too kind with his warm smiles… and air-headed comments…Che…what the hell am I thinking…


"Aah, Gokudera, there you are. Just so you know, it only took me three days to convince her Famiglia that the Vongola and Cavallone did not intend to start a Mafia war with them. For some reasons, they believed rather readily that the Vongola right-hand man is just a tactless wonder… Well, she added a couple more expletives, but I digress…" Dino sat down next to the Storm guardian in the quiet library one hazy afternoon.

"Tch, as if I care! What do you want, Bucking Horse?" Gokudera looked up from his laptop on the table and glared at the person who interrupted his research on "Nessie."

"Squalo told me that some people need more time to adjust to this socializing business. So, are you interested in meeting another girl? My Famiglia arranged another date for me this weekend; you can keep her friend company. Just remember to be nice and talk like a civilized human this time, yea?" The blonde met uncertain emerald orbs. The bomber internally debated whether to continue this charade. Since he already told the baseball idiot that he liked girls, he might as well make it look convincing.

His 'date' this time was a somewhat shy young lady who seemed to be a good listener. While Dino was talking to his companion, Gokudera continued to talk about his interest at the sincere, though softly spoken encouragement of his audience.

"Then, I invented this System C.A.I. It has all the cool skull decorations and matching rings. I used it to blast off some stupid idiots who thought I wasn't worthy of being the right-hand man. The main trick is to…" The Storm carried on with his story and commentaries, failing to notice that his date was pulling away from their table with her back hard-pressed against the chair.

"In the Choice Battle, Boss was incredibly awesome when he incinerated a good chunk of this huge skyscraper. The intense look in his eyes, so serious and penetrating…" The Vongola right-hand man sighed while reminiscing the good moments he shared with Tsuna. The terrified girl was turning a little bit green.

"The baseball idiot was pretty damn good, too. When he slashed this Genki-something guy down with four swords, I swear that battle was epic… But, idiot was too damn nice; he would not finish off the bastard. He died anyway, at the hands of his supposed comrade; we were so fucking furious at that. I could have shoved a dynamite stick up the blue-haired bast… HEY! Where are you going?" The tearful young lady made a mad dash for the restaurant's entrance, followed by a couple of men in black suit and her frightened friend.

"Aren't you gonna follow them, Bronco?" Gokudera turned to his only companion with a puzzled look. The restaurant's patrons were either staring at him in disbelief or condemning him with their judgmental eyes.

"No need, their Famiglia will take them home. I'll just have to apologize later on tomorrow. And, I thought I told you not to terrify them. Keep you untamed passions and fanaticism down a couple notches, would you?" Dino sighed exasperatedly at the Storm, waiting for at least an excuse.

"Well, she wanted to hear more about me. How the hell am I supposed to know she was scared? Ugh, women! So fucking complicated…" Annoyance slipped into the bomber's voice as he loosened the restricting tie around his stiff neck.

"Finish your entrée! At least you made it past the appetizer this time. We'll call it progress for now…" Dino chugged down his glass of red wine, pretending to be displeased. Squalo actually had a semi-decent idea, this way I don't have to endure these match-making attempts…Who could have known Gokudera is so good at driving them away…Haha…


For the life of him, Gokudera could never understand the unpredictability of a woman. She seemed fine when he started his tales; how was he supposed to know that her hesitant inquiries meant she was only trying to be polite. If she did not like the stories, she could have just told him so.

Getting back to his chamber late at night, the young right-hand man tossed his tie aside and dropped himself down on a cushioned chair. While gazing at the starry sky outside his window, the Storm missed how easy it was to talk to the Rain. Sure, the baseball star did not understand everything he said, but the carefree guardian deserved some credits for listening and being supportive. They had arguments, mostly due to Gokudera's impatience and bad temper, but the soothing Rain always deescalated the tension with his smiles and light-heartedness.

At the very least, Yamamoto would not run away from him, break down in incoherent tears and beat around the bush when something was wrong. As the Tenth's loyal right-hand man, Gokudera needed someone whose dependability was certain and unwavering. What's the point of having a partner in life whom I can't trust to share my fears and have my back?


Looking at the caller ID, the Storm answered his phone, only to hear Romario's voice instead of the Cavallone head's. The older right-hand man asked him to have dinner with another Mafia boss' daughter this weekend in Dino's stead. After explaining the arrangement, Romario reminded the Storm to behave like a gentleman, emphasizing the 'gentle' part rather obviously.

So, here he was, a week after his second 'date,' having another conversation with the fairer sex. Third time was the charm, right? Across from his female companion, Gokudera listened half-heartedly to her stories and managed to utter a few general acknowledgements along the one-sided discussion. He thought he was keeping everything nice and smooth with his calm and collected façade until the young lady contradicted his assumption.

"I see you are as interested in me as you are into the table cloth." The girl spoke up and broke the monotonous atmosphere.

"What?" The Vongola guardian's eyes snapped up from their downward position, the last bite of his entrée felt from the suspended fork.

"My mistake, maybe half as much." His date snorted softly.

"What's your problem? I listened to you, I didn't interrupt, so I don't know what more you want from me!" His brows knitted together as irritation became evident in his waving hands.

"Nothing. I'm just saying you're not interested in women in general. Don't look so shocked! You only glanced at me twice this evening despite this revealing dress my Famiglia forced me to wear. You didn't even attempt to touch any part of my body." The young woman explained with a tired smile. Gokudera covered his confusion by looking at the other tables and saw a man holding a woman's hands. Being the genius and fast-learner that he was, the Storm reached out his right hand and attempted to imitate what he saw.

"Don't force yourself! I know when I'm not appreciated. You obviously have someone else in mind. Am I right?" The young lady smirked at him conspiratorially as she pulled her hand out of his reach.

"What the hell! I'm trying to… And, it's none of your goddamn business. There's no pleasing any of your kind! You people have selective hearing on top of a twisted sense of logic. How the hell would you know what I am thinking? Maybe it's just you who are not attractive at all!" The Storm's scowl deepened as he spat out the retorts.

"My God… So, this is the real you. So emotional! What's up with the quicksilver mood swing? You were so defeated and bored in the beginning, but now, such anger and defensiveness… I'm no shrink, so you'll have to face the truth by yourself. Well, finish my dessert for me and tell whomever you like I say 'good luck'. Goodbye!" After letting loose a short laugh, the girl confidently strode toward the exit with the car keys dangling on her forefinger.

"Che…" Gokudera consumed the dessert with metaphorical storm clouds gathering above his silver locks. The waiters sent him numerous condescending looks as he, God forbids, forgot to use the tiny dessert spoon to wolf down the treat. So much for an intelligent comeback, his anger took it out on the decadent dessert, though the rage simmered down with each caramel-laden bite he swallowed.


Gokudera stepped out of the restaurant and entered the sleek black Vongola vehicle. The luxury car accelerated along a winding path as the impatient Storm tried to shorten the distance between the eatery and the Vongola mansion.

Tiny droplets of rain scattered on the moving vehicle's windshield. The gentle summer drizzle covered the busy streets of Milan in a silvery mist. The young right-hand man gripped the steering wheel harder than necessary as his thoughts wandered.

He recalled trying to touch the third date's hand and the sense of discomfort he had suppressed. Her hands appeared delicate, soft and supposedly welcoming, but the Storm was just not used to those qualities. Gokudera glanced downward to view his own rough and bony fingers which were adorned with gothic rings, screaming of rebellious attitude and defiant youth.

He needed not another smart-ass to tell him what to do and how to think. It always took a good amount of time for him to fully accept somebody that he did not choose to follow. It was even harder for the bomber to let his guard down around people, regardless of gender. His idolized Tenth was special, both as his leader and close friend, but he also had obligations and duties to fulfill in that admiration-fueled friendship with the Vongola boss.

The air was getting colder with the persistent but soft rain; Gokudera shivered lightly. Driving back by himself made the temperamental guardian remember the warm proximity their trio often had since middle school. There was another unassuming presence besides the Vongola Tenth, a cheerful personality that stayed by his side with no ulterior motive and a carefree spirit he had taken for granted.

The tall Japanese's touches were familiar and sincere. The emerald-eyed genius was more comfortable with those strong arms on his shoulders and those honest hands holding him back from doing anything rash. As a fighter and mafioso, Gokudera understood and trust the swordsman's callous palms and hardened fingers more readily than the pristine ones untouched by pain and untrained by battles.

The Rain was always effortlessly soothing… The young guardian lifted a corner of his mouth in dry mirth as the fine droplets of water kissed his face when he emerged from the car and headed for the mansion.


It was another Sunday; a week had passed since his last date. Dino did not contact him, for which he was glad. As for his sweet Tenth, Reborn had forced the young boss to spend a weekend with the Varia, trying to get to know them better or simply to survive their presence. Either way, Gokudera had the Vongola mansion's upper floors all to himself. As he was leaning against the second floor balcony's railing with a bottle of fine wine and a glass, Fuuta suddenly joined him out of the blue.

"Good afternoon, Hayato-nii! What are you doing up here by yourself? Where's Takeshi-nii?" The brown-haired teenager asked sweetly as he stopped next to the Storm.

"Tch, Fuuta! Am I not allowed to be alone anymore? And, why do I have to know where the baseball freak is, ranking brat?" The temperamental silver head glared at the soft-spoken teen before refilling his glass with the crimson elixir.

"Don't be mad, Hayato-nii! I came by to visit with Bianchi-neechan. Here, let me cheer you up!" Fuuta began his ranking ritual while the uninterested Storm brought the glass to his lips and took a gulp. Before he could protest or even swallow the wine, Gokudera found himself lifted from the balcony's floor and floating along with whatever movable objects.

"Hayato-nii ranks as the number one mid-range fighter within 20 miles radius from here. You also rank number one in intelligence and tactical strategy in the Vongola." Fuuta began making his announcement. The silver-haired guardian smirked a little at the ego-boosting statements.

"You rank number one on Tsuna-nii's list of most trusted friend… You rank number two on Takeshi-nii's list of important people, behind Hibari-san… You are also the number one most amiable mafioso, rated by the Italian girls here…" While Fuuta was trying to keep his communication with the Ranking Planet, Gokudera choked on his gulp of stagnant wine after hearing who ranked number one on Yamamoto's list. The anti-gravity spell abruptly broke, dropping the upset Storm and everything else back to the floor.

As Fuuta slowly recovered from his psychic connection, the shock from colliding with the railing and hearing the bit of ranking info almost made Gokudera drop the wine bottle. Although the silver head managed to hold the bottle, the rest of its burgundy content spilled out and fell toward the ground below. The dazed guardian swiftly stalked to the doorway leading inside the mansion, leaving Fuuta behind. The sweet teenager woke up just in time to hear Ryohei's enthusiastic declaration.

"Italy has extremely strange weather! Hey, the rain water on my head tastes extremely good though!" Poking his head over the railing, Fuuta found the Vongola Sun trying to lick off the red wine that was trickling down his face. With a relief smile, he bended down to pick up his cell phone which fell out during the levitation. Upon seeing the note he made to himself on the device, the brunette turned toward the spot Gokudera had occupied.

"Hayato-nii, there's a huge solar storm going on today. No wonder my connection with the Ranking Planet was bad! Don't believe the last couple statements I made; the interferences were overwhelming… Hayato-nii? Where are…" Fuuta looked around the balcony and found out he was talking to himself all this time. Clearly, Gokudera did not have the patience to wait for an explanation.

Downstairs, the fuming Storm strode deliberately toward the mansion's main entrance, hoping to get away. Along the main corridor, he could hear the sound of rapid footsteps echoing from the east wing.

"Where have you been all this time, Kyoya? You disappeared for a whole week; do you know how worried I was? I know you're angry with me about what happened, but let me make it up to you, please!" Dino's sincere tone inadvertently intensified Gokudera's dark mood.

"Go away, Bucking Horse. I can take care of myself. Go back to your women, I have another herbivore…" The Storm's impressive scowl deepened as he ran through the main doorway without hearing the rest of their conversation. Some people have all the fucking luck! What's so great about that biting bastard anyway? The baseball idiot belongs to…no one. Women…that's also the reason I told the idiot…Yamamoto…

"…to bite to death." Hibari completed his sentence. Dino shook his head and left after reiterating how much he wanted the Cloud to come back to his home.


Gokudera returned to his room after a short day of Mafia training. The Tenth and his Guardians also had a three-day weekend since the girls, Haru, Kyoko and Hana, came to visit them in Italy. When Tsuna invited him to go shopping and dining out with Lambo, Chrome, Kyoko and Haru, he had declined, claiming to be tired. It was only Thursday; the Storm had a feeling it would be a rather 'long' weekend, so he decided to enjoy whatever peace and quiet time he could afford for now.

That purpose brought him to the private balcony of his second-floored room. Basking in the late afternoon sunlight, Gokudera sat on the floor, opened a thick history book and began reading leisurely. Occasionally, the right-hand man took a sip from his glass of Italian soda which was also his dinner for the night. The strawberry-flavored fizzy drink pleasantly enveloped his taste buds and eased his mind.

Half an hour later, incoherent voices reached his serene sanctuary. Leaning his frowning forehead against the ornate balcony railing, the young guardian lowered his reading glasses and curiously stared at a briskly walking Hana who was followed by a running Ryohei. The couple stopped in the mansion's vast backyard below, not noticing the lone figure of the Storm from his high vantage point. Their exchange was inaudible to Gokudera, but the emerald-eyed teen was surprised to see that the turf-top ended their lover quarrel with a tight hug. Hana soon returned the embrace and smiled softly. As the noisy distraction ceased and the couple walked back inside, a cool wind swept through the right-hand man.

Suppressing a shiver, the silver head gripped the steel railing to chase away his unwanted desire to be held just like that. He finished the soft drink in a few big gulps, but the tingling sensation disappeared and the flavor went stale in his mouth.

He forced his attention back to the book with little success as his mind kept replaying the witnessed embrace as well as the happiness and security it implied.

Not that he knew much about happiness. Most of his childhood was not that great. His real mother died before he could really appreciate what she had to offer. Her relationship with his Mafia father left much to be desired. Bianchi's mother and their shared father did not have a happy marriage, either. Who would be beside herself with joys to call her husband's bastard her own? Bianchi herself and her unrequited love for Reborn gave him neither solace nor reaffirmation. What is happiness anyway?


"Octopus head! Wanna share this extreme sake bottle with me? Kyoko brought it over from Japan yesterday." Ryohei entered his room casually and without permission.

"What are you doing here, turf top? Go to the biting bastard! Isn't he your drinking buddy?" Gokudera frowned as he spat out the retort. Ryohei was not the person he wanted to see right now, not after what he had witnessed on Thursday.

"Oh Hibari? He extremely left the Base this afternoon, something about crowding herbivores and needing time to think… Come on, it's a Friday night! Forget work to the extreme!" The cheerful Sun sat down on the carpeted floor and made himself at home. The Storm cursed under his breath at the mention of the Cloud and quickly joined the boxer for a good sake-drinking session.

Half a bottle later, Gokudera mustered up the courage or simply reached the appropriate intoxication level to ask Ryohei about his relationship.

"Hey turf top! How are you and Hana doing?" The Storm poured himself another cup as his vision turned blurry.

"It's extremely weird! Haft the time I try to guess what she wants, the other half explaining myself 'cuz I extremely do not get why she's mad at me… Hana is… hard to please, has moodswing…But, umm we're okay." The boxer slurred in his attempt to answer the bomber.

"Then, why stay?" The Storm emptied another cup of sake, slightly confused by the descriptions and too buzzed to hold back his curiosity.

"Because, uh…umm… She's Kyoko's best friend… I like her to the extreme and I think she cares for me… She's pretty and can be really nice sometimes… I extremely don't know, octopus head!" The Vongola Sun refilled his cup and had a toast with a tipsy Storm.

"I think… I should go… I wanna see Hana… to the extreme… All this talking makes me miss her… See ya, Octopus head!" Ryohei wobbly stood up and drunkenly walked toward the door and into the hallway. Gokudera opened his mouth to advise the Sun not to go see his girlfriend now, but it was too late as the boxer had disappeared around the corner.

Ten minutes later, the right-hand man was about to drink his last cup of sake when Hana started screaming like a banshee. Although the exact words were inaudible, her tone spoke volumes of her 'displeasure' and confirmed what the Storm had tried to warn. After the door slamming and Ryohei's stumbling footsteps ceased, Gokudera raised his last cup in mock cheers and chugged down the transparent liquid.

He woke up at midnight with an intense urge to vomit. Somewhere between clutching the toilet bowl and convulsing in waves of nausea, the seventeen year old passed out on the bathroom floor. Before exhaustion claimed his body, he wondered what Yamamoto would have done if he had come to the Rain in his intoxicated state just as Ryohei did to Hana.


"Why so sad, little brother dear? It's a nice Saturday." A smiling Bianchi approached him during one of her visits. The somewhat hung-over silver head looked up at his half-sister who thankfully was wearing a pair of goggles. He chose to remain silent. She sat down next to him underneath a large apple tree.

"Are you in love with someone, Hayato? You can always tell me. But, it's not Reborn, is it?" She spoke softly in a serious tone. Only the last question betrayed her casual intention; a jealous gleam flashed in her uninterested orbs.

"No, of course it's not Reborn! Are you insane? And, in love, me of all people?" Gokudera yelled with all the indignation he could muster.

"Well, you look like someone who got his heart broken and trampled upon…" Bianchi gave him a look filled with sisterly affection.

"Like Hell that happened!" He shook his head violently while sending her a death glare.

"I heard you started going on dates with some girls. Are you infatuated with one? Need some advices, huh? Got rejected? Scared them off with your temper?" Everyone in the garden could hear the Storm's resounding "no's" amidst Bianchi's laughter.

"In all seriousness, is it Tsuna? 'Cause I know you don't like any girl that much, but the Tenth might… Is it why you're down? Unrequited love, eh? No? Really, ok, Dino then? Now, that's a heartbreaker. Don't you worry! I can take care of that guy in a sec… Still no? Then, who? Ryohei? Nah! One from the Varia? Hibari? Mukuro? Lambo? Please don't tell me it's the pervert Shamal!" Bianchi listed all the possible suspects while embarrassing her sibling mercilessly.

"NO! How many times must I say no for you to get it? What the fuck, Lambo? What am I, a pedophile now? Tch, while you were at it, why didn't you mention the baseball idiot?" Gokudera sat up from his spot, suddenly interested to hear his sister's reasons.

"Hmm… Simple, I don't think Yamamoto is capable of breaking your heart. It's not because you're strong or anything, but because the kid is a sweetheart. In that case, you probably broke both your heart and his… Today's a Saturday; Shamal should be free. Talk to him… Who knows? He might be able to help you fix this situation." Bianchi patted the Storm's back and walked toward the mansion, leaving Gokudera to his own thoughts.


The temperamental Storm knocked on Dr. Shamal's office inside the Vongola Mansion for the third time. Before he turned away in annoyance, the wooden door yielded and his semi-mentor stood waiting at the doorway.

"Looking for me? Do you need my advice? I knew a kid like you wouldn't be able to get any girl by yourself anyway. So?" The womanizing doctor smiled lazily and looked expectantly at the seventeen-year-old guardian.

"Forget it, Shamal. I thought… I don't even know what I was thinking, looking for your help in the first place. Go back to your playthings!" The Storm started walking away from his old acquaintance.

"Really now? But, I can tell you are troubled. I may not know much about relationships, aside from seducing girls. However, I know you are no girl's white knight. So, take off the shining armor and let others in." Shamal drawled his comments as Gokudera turned around to face him.

"What the hell are you going on about?" The Storm yelled back at the nonchalant doctor.

"A storm doesn't start and perpetuate by itself. You don't want to live with that lonesome suit of armor, brat! If you want something, take it before you lose your chance. But hey, do what you like! Trust me. Hate me, whatever… Now, excuse me, I have to a couple of lady friends to entertain." The doctor stepped out of the office, strolled past a dazed Gokudera and exited the building.


Tsuna came into the quiet library at 9 in the morning, looking for his best friend. As he shook Gokudera awake, the sweet boss found concerns and worries gnawing at his insides. Three empty cans of soda littered on the long mahogany desk. The Storm was still sleeping atop his opened books, papers and laptop that have been laid on the smooth surface the night before. Blood-shot eyes stared at him before registering the image.

"Gokudera-kun, are you okay? Today's Sunday, maybe you should sleep more… in your room…" Tsuna asked softly, unsure of his friend's well-being.

"I'm alright, Tenth. Don't worry! Anything I can help you with today?" Gokudera put on a weary smile for the young brunette.

"Ano… I'm just thinking that someone should visit Yamamoto since he's been with Squalo for exactly five weeks now." The Vongola Decimo commented while the right-hand man absorbed the fact.

"I'll go, Tenth! I don't mind! Yamamoto is… I mean…" The Stormed faltered, trying to cover his uncharacteristic enthusiasm.

"Yeah, I'll go with you, too, Gokudera-kun! We only have two weeks left in Italy anyway and we didn't get a chance to hang out all that much. Let's tell Reborn!" Tsuna smiled happily as his best friend scrambled to the bathroom.

After brushing his teeth, Gokudera stared at his pale reflection in the bathroom mirror. Splashing his face with cold water to chase away the sleepiness, he noticed the dark circles and the faint bags underneath his eyes. His jeans were somewhat loose; the teenager noted as he tightened the belt around his hips. Pulling on a clean T-shirt, he emerged from the bathroom and dismissed any thought regarding taking better care of his body.

Approaching the grand meeting room, Tsuna and Gokudera overheard a piece of conversation between Reborn and Hibari.

"I had a great time here, little baby." The skylark's baritone echoed into their curious ears.

"Me too, Hibari! However, I won't be able to spar with you next week. Why don't you go the Varia mansion? There's a certain dark-haired person I'm sure you'd find interesting to fight… By the way, how is my former student? Isn't he your usual sparring partner?" Reborn's amused response quickly followed the Cloud's comment.

"I don't want to talk about the Bucking Horse. Bye, little baby!" Hibari twisted the door knob and came face to face with the brown-haired boss and his best friend. On his way out, the independent guardian glared at them intensely before disappearing down the hallway.

At noon, the brunette and his silver-haired friend arrived at the Varia Headquarter after obtaining approval from Reborn and permission from Squalo. The one who opened the door for them was a smiling Yamamoto who wore an unbuttoned sea-green shirt with a white cotton T-shirt underneath. His wide grin came with a relaxing stance as he greeted his friends. The Japanese swordsman casually hugged Tsuna before moving on to Gokudera. There, the baseball star faltered. His right hand tried to approach the Storm in a friendly handshake, but that attempt stopped short. Gokudera felt his own right arm twitched. The emerald-eyed teen looked up into caramel orbs. For a brief second, a pained expression flashed across those warm eyes.

The young right-hand man scowled to disguise his discomfort and regret. Gokudera found there were only two ways to explain that pain-filled look: 1) He was starting to look a whole lot like Byakuran because of all the sugar he had been consuming lately or 2) The baseball idiot did not want to see him at all. Being a pessimistic realist, he was leaning towards the latter reason.

"Well, let's go get lunch! I'll make sushi for you guys… Sorry we only have the tuna Squalo caught the other day though. The Varia's are not big on Japanese foods or fish in general. Ahaha…" The tall Japanese laughed easily after the awkward moment he just had with Gokudera. Draping an arm over the sweet boss, Yamamoto led his friends into the kitchen.

The spacious kitchen was lit by natural sunshine coming in from three sides. Tsuna and Gokudera sat down while Yamamoto brought out the needed ingredients. On the stainless kitchen counter, the trio ate tuna nigiri together, using their fingers and sharing one paper bowl for soy sauce with wasabi. There was no need for fancy utensils or formal pretensions. The fresh tuna revived the silver head's appetite while the subtly flavored rice tasted better than all the expensive dishes he had eaten in Milan's finest restaurants. Their conversation was light and relaxing. Gokudera soon joined in as they talked about the good old time, baseball and their future.

Suddenly, the sound of shattering glass from upstairs interrupted their laughter. Yamamoto looked up at the ceiling while Tsuna and Gokudera exchanged a confused look.

"Ahaha… It's just Hibari. He came here a couple hours before you guys. I guess he's getting impatient. Should I go check on him, Squalo?" The Storm frowned darkly as the baseball star explained the loud noise.

"Stay here! Of course the biting trash is getting impatient! But, it's someone worth waiting for, right brat?" Squalo made his entrance while casting a meaningful look at the Japanese swordsman. Yamamoto nodded shyly before inviting the Italian assassin to sit with them.

Taking a seat on the Rain's side of the counter, Squalo grabbed a piece of sushi and noticed the simmering tension the Storm was exuding. When Tsuna and Yamamoto were deep in their discussion, the sword emperor directed his intense gaze at the young right-hand man.

"You look like shit, trash! Don't they let you eat and sleep over there?" At that prompting statement, Gokudera looked up from his sulking position and narrowed his emerald orbs at the smirking Shark.

"Just because you're in dipshit denial doesn't mean the rest of us are blind. Don't cry when the baseball brat belongs to someone else… VOI, brat! Can we have anything else beside tuna?" As Squalo raised his voice to get the Vongola Rain's attention, Tsuna flinched at the jab at his name and the Italian's predatory smile. Silently, Gokudera wondered if he had been that transparent…

The relaxing lunch came to an end as Tsuna bid the two swordsmen goodbye at the front door. This time, the baseball idiot patted the Storm on the back before embracing Tsuna. When the Japanese swordsman let go of his brunette friend and started to say something to Gokudera, the sword emperor pulled his student away by the collar and dragged him by the wrist into the Varia mansion's inner sanctum. The Vongola Decimo and his right-hand man watched until the silver mane and their friend were engulfed by the dark hallway and took their leave.


At the insistence of Reborn and his Tenth, Gokudera strolled along the streets of Milan, heading for a downtown bar that catered to the Mafia community. The evening air was doing wonder to his sullen mood; the creases on his forehead lessened in their severity. It was another hot and humid summer day of early August, the sixth Thursday since the baseball star left with the Shark, not that he kept track. Nor did he let the incidents which involved the Rain and the Cloud affect his outward demeanor in any way. Thus, it was a big surprise that Tsuna suggested that he took a break and Reborn gave him an additional allowance from the Ninth to enjoy his mandatory 'downtime' this evening.

After the leisure forty minutes stroll, the Storm arrived at the noisy pub and stopped before walking through the entrance. The first thing he saw was three very familiar people who were sitting on high stools at the long wooden counter with their back toward him. The Vongola right-hand man hesitated; his feet became heavy with his increasing reluctance to enter. A sword-less Squalo, who sat in the middle, leaned over and wrapped his right arm around Yamamoto. The long-haired head met the black-haired one in a conspiring and intimate manner. The Rain's laughter rose above the loud music and chattering. On the Shark's left side, Dino shook his head in disbelief. For the five minutes the Storm stood there, the Italian sword emperor kept his arm comfortably on Yamamoto's shoulders with the Japanese happily welcoming the touch.

The Storm's legs carried him swiftly away from the bar, its customers and the unwanted sight. He strode briskly on the dimly lit sidewalk, pounding occasionally at the pavement to distract his mind from thinking about what he saw and its painful implication.

"Let me go, please!" The distress plea echoed in his ears and pulled him out of his depressing thoughts. After surveying the sparse sidewalk, Gokudera peered into the dimly lit alley way to his left to investigate.

"Where do you think you're going, eh? You're my fucking wife. You belong to me!" A drunken man was holding the distressed woman's wrist. Behind the petite woman was a little girl who had her small back pressed against the alley's side-wall.

"No, I don't! Let go; I don't want to be your wife any longer!" A loud slap followed her brave answer. She let out a sob while still holding on to her daughter's hand. The man dragged her up by the hair and pushed her head against the brick wall as he slurred out more threats.

"Get the fuck away from her!" Watching this scene made Gokudera see red. His whole body boiled in anger and disgust. He could imagine his mother in the sobbing woman's place.

The man whipped his head toward the fuming Storm and temporarily released his victim. Without exchanging a word, the young guardian lunged at him and punched his left eye. When the man staggered back, the bomber knocked him out with a gut blow. One swift kick sent the drunkard flying toward the alley's dead-end. As the Storm expected, the man's body landed on top of a pile of overstuffed garbage bags. After checking the passed-out man's pulse, Gokudera turned around to head back to the Vongola Base.

The mother and child whimpered as the temperamental guardian walked by their spot. He clicked his tongue and took in the sight of the frightened woman pressing the child against her and holding onto her duffle bag.

"Do you have anywhere to go? Tch, wait here, I can ask someone for help…" Fiery emerald orbs met brown ones and the petite woman nodded demurely.

After dialing Dino's number, Gokudera remembered that the Cavallone boss was drinking in the bar and the pub's noisy background was the first sound that greeted his ears.

"Hey, Bucking Horse! Can you hear me? I need to find a shelter for domestic violence victims…" Before he could further explain the situation, Dino choked out the Storm's name in recognition and responded playfully.

"What the fuck do you mean by 'trouble in paradise with Tsuna'? The Tenth would never… Wait, forget that, Bronco! Yep, that's right… Say what? I look more like a bully? Are you fucking drunk, bastard?" Gokudera yelled in frustration and indignation; the Italian woman actually giggled and smiled at her kid.

"Fine, just give me the damn address!" The right-hand man quickly wrote down the information on a small piece of paper and gave it to the young mother. Five minutes of waving from the sidewalk later, the Storm successfully caught a cab for the woman and her daughter.

"Take this! It should cover the taxi drive from here to the woman shelter…" The Storm emptied his pockets and pressed the 200 euros bonus allowance he just received from Reborn into the woman's hands. He brushed away her profuse thanks and ushered them into the cab. Before he closed the car door, her daughter gave him a tight hug which he returned by bashfully patting her head.

The yellow taxi drove off, leaving behind a resigned Gokudera who just realized what he had always wanted but too afraid to admit. After what happened, he understood how rare it was to have someone like Yamamoto by his side and how uncomplicated the baseball idiot truly was. Now, he smirked sardonically and admitted silently that Bianchi was right about the Rain. I don't want to be like that young woman, my sister, mother or the men they had picked at one point to love…Neither a victim nor an abuser…It was obvious that the person I want is…

The sky rumbled as lightning strikes pierced the dark night. Howling gales ushered in a heavy downpour. Gokudera turned his face skyward and welcomed the torrents of water. Heaven's relentless tears flowed out of his eyes, rolled down his cheeks and seeped through his parted lips. Its saltiness haunted the tip of his tongue. Yet, he denied the taste of his tears, because the ferocious and fearless Vongola Storm never showed his grief. The violent thunderstorm picked up and drowned out the sounds of his surrounding. Gokudera kept walking in his soaked clothes and wind-whipped hair.

"Sorry I'm late, Gokudera! You're all wet now…" The heavy cascades of water stopped pouring on his drenched body. The tall shadow beside him smiled warmly as he held a large umbrella above both of their head. The furious storm suddenly eased into a gentle summer rain.

Thank you for reading my story! I hope you will leave me with your thoughts and comments. I promise the second part will be funnier than this one. Till next time :)