Things Left Unsaid
A Katekyo Hitman Reborn! fan fiction by Hitokiri-san
A/N: This is spawned from the same theme as Where Expectations Fail: in which Tsuna doesn't want to be a mafia boss, and everyone is either oblivious to the fact or blatantly ignores this. I guess I'm forever miffed by how the Guardians actually expect Tsuna to take up the Vongola mantle in the Succession Arc, when he's shown multiple times that he doesn't want to be a mafia boss.
And Gokudera. While I liked how he demonstrated that he knew and accepted Tsuna's flaws in the Shitt. P battle, I can't help but think that she's let him off the hook too easily. The more difficult question – as is the central question in this fic - would be this: if Tsuna doesn't want to succeed as the Vongola Tenth, what does Gokudera do?
Personally I think he'd let Tsuna have his own way, and follow him regardless. Because ultimately, he'd want Tsuna to be happy before everything else. I'm interested in knowing what everyone thinks as well.
After spending seven years, three months and fifteen days at Sawada Tsunayoshi's side, Gokudera Hayato realized, suddenly, that Tsuna had never wanted to be a mafia boss in the first place.
The notion had eluded him over the years. He'd served Tsuna and the Vongola under the impression that his boss had wanted the position despite his half-hearted protests - he himself had certainly desired his, as the position of the Storm Guardian spoke of recognition and honour. He was contently oblivious to all the hints that pointed to this fact; until one day, the truth just decided to slap him upside the head, like what Reborn always did when he was fed up with Tsuna's incompetence.
But as he stood before his boss, one hand fisted into the nurse's white coat, Gokudera was unable to wrap his mind around this idea.
"These aren't aspirin are they," he growled lowly, grey-green eyes narrowed in fatal purpose as he tugged the woman upwards. The poor woman squealed as her feet left the ground, and began struggling in the iron grip.
"Why are you prescribing hypnotics - " Gokudera bit out, rattling the bottle of pills in his other hand for emphasis, "to him? Speak, or you'll wish you were never born."
Him, not the Tenth, because he had grown wiser over the years and had finally recognized that announcing Tsuna's inherited title to everyone in the immediate hearing range was not conducive to prolonging his boss' life expectancy.
It had been a matter of pure coincidence that Gokudera had run into the little medical appointment of Tsuna's. He had only been trying to locate the Tenth – it wasn't the first time that the Vongola boss had snuck out of the Vongola mansion on his own, and as usual, it worried him to no end. True, Tsuna was all in all a responsible boss, and only wandered out of the mansion when he knew that nothing required his immediate notice; but even so, Gokudera was a little frustrated that the Tenth was taking his personal safety this lightly. God knows that there were only too many people, mafia or otherwise, who'd like to see the Vongola boss dead more than anything.
He'd almost turned Sicily upside-down in search for his wayward boss, and was ultimately surprised to find Tsuna inside a clinic, small and nondescript, hidden in a side alley.
Posting his men around the site discreetly – he knew Tsuna absolutely hated it when his underlings stormed whatever civilian establishment he was at in the name of "protecting the boss" – Gokudera let himself into the clinic. He was intrigued, actually, by why Tsuna would need to go to any private clinic in the first place; the Vongola itself had more medical staff in its employment than three hospitals put together. Tsuna, overprotective of his Family by nature, had always been big on acquiring the best medical equipment and personnel possible for his men.
Tsuna was wearing civilian clothes, a simple T-shirt and loose jeans, his lean body slung over the counter casually as he waited to be attended to. He looked thrown off at seeing Gokudera, but to his credit, he only smiled tensely and raised a hand in greeting.
Hi, Gokudera thought, didn't even begin to cover it. He strode over to Tsuna's side, head tilted politely in question. The nurse smiled at him, and he returned it half-heartedly. He'd need to talk to the Tenth about bringing bodyguards with him when they were both out of this place.
"An appointment?" he asked, and Tsuna gave a noncommittal hum, watching the nurse gather a number of multi-coloured pills from the medical cabinet.
"Not really…just picking up some drugs. Aspirin and stuff. I have free time today."
The nurse looked up, a little askance, but didn't say anything. Gokudera noted the expression, all the while thinking how strange it was that Tsuna would need aspirin of all things from a civilian doctor.
"Oh, I see," however, was all he said. As the boss of the Family Tsuna's actions were not to be questioned. Another thing he'd learnt as the right hand of the Vongola Tenth. He settled on the bench at Tsuna's side, waiting, as always. Tsuna took the pills the moment the nurse placed them on the counter with a kind of controlled haste, the tension never lifting from his shoulders.
It was then Gokudera's eyes lighted upon the pills. Smoky green eyes narrowed in sudden suspicion, he'd snatched the packet from Tsuna and began to examine the pills in detail.
Shit, thought Tsuna, carefully schooling his expression into something resembling mild surprise, and attempted to wait the scene out. Gokudera was just being his usual paranoid self when it came to his safety. With any luck, he'd put down the drugs and let it be when it became apparent that they were, well, just pills.
Sometimes, though, he tended to forget. He tended to forget that Gokudera-kun, who'd studied alongside him in Namimori Middle School, had once been somewhat of a mafia royalty. He'd forgotten that Gokudera used to live in a castle, of all things, and was taught by the best private tutors available in the underworld.
"These aren't aspirin, are they."
As it turned out, it was incredibly stupid of him to overlook that.
Tsuna sighed, moving forward to lay a restraining hand on Gokudera's arm.
"Please put her down."
"But…! She may be trying to drug you!" his right hand man turned to him, indignant, and didn't release the nurse, "this bitch is slipping hypnotics into your prescription!"
Tsuna paused, weighting his words. He could lie to Gokudera, he knew. Even after all these years, his friend still had that tendency to be blindsided by his own perspective of the world. He was the Tenth; his words were Gokudera's truth. He knew.
He looked up at his right hand man, finally opting for honesty.
"No. It was prescribed on my order. Now please put her down." He managed to rescue the terrified nurse out of Gokudera's grasp, and set her down with a murmured stream of apologies.
"Why would…oh. Oh," he looked beyond shocked, eyes zeroing in on Tsuna as though he was seeing him properly for the first time, and shook his head, disbelieving. "No, Tenth, please. You can't mean that."
"We should get back first," Tsuna looked at him – apologetic and resentful and tired all at once, and Gokudera could say nothing to such an expression.
The car ride back was silent with things that were never said, thoughts that were never made clear. He sat alongside Tsuna on the limo, quiet; and remembered how tired Tsuna would sometimes look in the morning; how much effort it took to wake him sometimes. He was stupid to have overlooked something like that.
Seven years, he thought bitterly, and he was no closer to understanding his boss.
"For how long?" Gokudera finally asked, heavily, grave voice cutting through the stale atmosphere.
His boss considered the question quietly. "A few months. I guess."
"You could have…told me, Tenth, that you have trouble sleeping…I could have helped. It's my duty to help."
Tsuna's gaze was fixed resolutely at a point beyond the window. "You would have tried to get me medical help, but you couldn't have helped me," he said, cryptic, and Gokudera frowned.
"Gokudera-kun, you never change," his boss told him, both indulgent and sad, and shifted in his seat. "I think it's my fault. For never having been honest with you or the others."
"Tenth, what – I don't understand…"
"If I tell you that I want to get out of the mafia and lead a normal life, could you have helped me? If I tell you that I don't want to be the Vongola Tenth, could you have helped me?" he asked, now, brown eyes turning back to settle on his right hand; Gokudera had the distinct feeling that he was being tested.
"…do you hate this life that much?" Gokudera asked, stunned, heart dropping as Tsuna nodded.
"Don't get me wrong, Gokudera-kun. You, Yamamoto, Big Brother and everyone…you are the best thing that ever happened to me. I don't know what I'll do without you," he flashed a shadow of a smile at Gokudera; one the man couldn't quite return.
"But…please understand, Gokudera-kun. I've never been brought up to be a mafia boss. Before all this – before Reborn came into my life – I was just an average school kid. Maybe less than average, but still a school kid," he put up a hand when Gokudera started to argue reflexively on the "less than average" part.
"And then I became the boss of the Vongola. I have to wake up every day to the knowledge that someone is going to want me dead, that someone is going to want my friends dead simply because they are related to me…it's just horrible, like a recurring nightmare. I love you all, I do, but I don't know how much longer I can last in this world," he confessed, and resisted the urge to wring his hands. Reborn had beaten the crap out of him when he last did it, saying the action wasn't befitting of a mafia boss.
"We'll protect you! You know we won't ever let anything happen to you, Tenth," he reached over, hand brushing briefly against Tsuna's knee in an attempt to pacify. The brunette sighed exasperatedly. "There is no reason to wor-"
"You don't get it, do you, Gokudera-kun?" And Gokudera knew instantly that if this were a test, he had already failed. Tsuna looked to the side again, brooding.
"I shouldn't have brought this up; I'm sorry. Let's talk about something else."
"I can't do that, Tenth," the Storm Guardian said, and watched as Tsuna's brows shoot up in surprise. They both felt a twinge of déjà vu, reminded of the one time, years back, when Gokudera had been bold enough to defy Tsuna's order. "I can't just stand by and watch you suffer. Please, I can…I am here. Please don't shut me out."
Times like this, and Gokudera would wish he was Yamamoto. To hell with it, Yamamoto was going to appear the moment he got off this damn limo. But at the moment, this was something he had to do alone.
"You never change, Gokudera-kun," his boss told him again, a small smile on his lips, "thank you."
"I…damnit, Tenth…I always thought…that you're okay with this life. That you're okay with inheriting the Vongola," Gokudera's hand clutched his head in what was apparently a distressed hold; Tsuna distractedly wondered if he was pulling hairs out, "I didn't see this coming."
He should have. It shouldn't have escaped his notice, how Tsuna's smiles were becoming rarer and rarer. He was the one with a functional brain out of the lot; and he didn't manage to figure it out. He was, Gokudera realized, a pathetic excuse for a right hand man.
"I never exactly told anyone," and would never have, if not for the day's events. Not when every one of his guardians gave up things most precious in their lives to follow him. Yamamoto, his baseball; Ryohei, boxing; Lambo, the Bovino. He knew what it took for Chrome to make a permanent home at the Vongola mansion ("It'll be so much easier to take over your body if we live with you," Mukuro had suggested otherwise, sending him smirks that clashed horribly with Chrome's cherubic face, and Tsuna couldn't resist rolling his eyes. It was difficult to take a running threat seriously anymore after seven damn years).
Hibari, Tsuna thought with exasperated fondness, spent half his time in Italy on Vongola-related business because it was somewhat interesting. Suggesting that Hibari gave up anything for him – a herbivore of a boss, and a scrawny one at that - would warrant an immediate one-way ticket to the infirmary. "I don't want to worry you guys –"
"Tenth," if there was a desk in front of him, Gokudera would have happily smashed his head into it, "we are your guardians. We are responsible for your wellbeing. You cannot keep things like this from us like that – you need to tell us!"
"Tell you, and then what? Reborn would never let me leave; he came to me because he wanted to make me a Vongola boss. The Vongola would never let go; they don't have another heir in place! And you…" he clutched his arm and turned back to the limo's window.
You won't let me leave. I am the boss you play right hand man to.
"I…" have never wished for anything other than being your right hand man. "…wish for your happiness above anything else. We all do. I wish you could see this, Tenth."
Tsuna's gaze at the window was glazed. "Do you know what this means? If I leave, you won't have a boss. Haven't you always wanted to be the right hand man of a mafia boss?"
Gokudera pondered the point, and smiled tightly. "Tenth, you know that the Primo went to Japan after his retirement, right? What do you think happened to G. after that?"
The Tenth looked back at him, bewildered at the sudden change of topic.
"There is no official record on this…" he began, haltingly, "I don' t know."
"I don't, either," Gokudera shrugged, and Tsuna blinked, surprised, "but I think he followed Primo to Japan. Precisely because he was his right hand man. And..and because they were best friends."
He paused, waiting for the message to sink in, and continued. "That is why…a-ah…!"
He trailed off awkwardly; Tsuna had flung himself around him, face buried in his suit. Gokudera couldn't tell if he was crying. Mortified, he gaped at his boss for some moments before finding his words.
"I…I am sorry about that analogy! I am not implying you have to do anything at all! We can…can, er, talk it over first," Gokudera could only tell him, lamely, as he patted him gingerly on the back. Shit, shit, where was Yamamoto when he needed him? "all of us, together. You can save the decision for later, Tenth."
There was going to be one hell of a lot of trouble if Tsuna was to leave Vongola for real; Gokudera didn't even want to think about the chaos that would follow. Tsuna probably knew this only too well. But now…
"Please just know this, Tenth…Tsuna-sama," he tripped over the strange word self-consciously, "you are my boss, and I'll follow you everywhere you go. It doesn't matter whether or not you are the Vongola Decimo."
Tsuna gave a small nod, but otherwise didn't budge. Gokudera stayed where he was and leaned against the seat, not willing to dislodge his boss.
"We need to talk, Tenth. And then we'll need to work on your sleep as well," he said into the silence, and sighed when Tsuna just hummed.
"Hey, Gokudera!" Yamamoto addressed him brightly after throwing their limo door open, much to the chagrin of their chauffeur, "what d'you call me so many times for? I found fifteen missed calls from you after I got out of the meeting with Squalo, ha ha."
If Tsuna wasn't strewn across him, Gokudera would have got up and blasted his fellow guardian sky high. He'd pressed the quick dial to Yamamoto's phone ten or twenty times in the remainder of the trip, desperate, and the damned baseball idiot hadn't picked up the phone even once.
He should really have hit the panic button instead, Gokudera thought, irate. It would serve Yamamoto well.
But he was here now, though, and it was all that mattered. He gritted his teeth and glared at his long-time friend and bane of existence.
"I hate you, Yamamoto Takeshi," he told him, seething, and Yamamoto grinned. "Now help me out."
"Um?" Yamamoto cocked his head curiously, and dark eyes lighted on his boss. "Oh hey, Tsuna, you're back!"
Tsuna lifted tired chocolate eyes to his Rain, and managed a smile. "Hi, Yamamoto."
Yamamoto surveyed him for a brief moment, and looked concerned. As a man living by his instincts Yamamoto was eerily perceptive, and Gokudera had long since given up on envying him for this, among many other things.
"Hey, Tsuna, what's up?" he asked, voice soft around the edges, and practically lifted Tsuna off of the limo. The chauffeur looked astounded, and Gokudera made a mental note to find someone more adaptive to be their driver. God knows what kind of crazy shenanigans the Vongola members were usually up to, and he'd rather not deal with hysterical employees on a regular basis.
"Argh…! Don't fucking manhandle him, you dolt!" Gokudera screamed after his fellow guardian, and took off after the duo into the Vongola mansion.
"Tsuna's alright with this!" he called back, a laugh in his voice, and turned to his silent boss, a more serious glint in his eyes, "are you, Tsuna?"
There was another question hidden there, and Tsuna understood it. He was quiet for a few moments, one hand reaching up to touch the arm Yamamoto had wound playfully around his neck as if seeking reassurance.
"No, Yamamoto, I…don't think I'm okay with this, anymore."
"Hm…" Yamamoto processed this thoughtfully, eyes darting back to Gokudera, and the goofy grin returned to his features. "Wanna talk about it?"
Tsuna nodded – a slow, tentative nod, but a nod none the less. Gokudera let out a breath in relief, and was glad that Yamamoto was there at the Tenth's side along with him, even if he was a cheery, irritating freak most of the time.
Stupid baseball idiot, he thought, and was proud.
As he shut the door behind the three of them, Gokudera's mind wandered idly to the final demise of Giotto, and G., and Ugetsu. There was no record as to what happened to Ugetsu, either. The Primo generation was incredibly elusive and hard to track like that.
He couldn't help but think, however, that if Ugetsu was willing to follow the Primo to Italy and give up his music for him, Giotto couldn't have returned to Japan without him, either. Most likely he'd been the one who had offered Giotto refuge when he was disillusioned with the mafia world.
He snorted at his own conviction, and thought, without doubt, that Yamamoto would have done the same for the Tenth.