Yeah, I was in the middle of writing something else when this happened lol. This is one of those rare times I write in Tsuna's POV, but it's all about Gokudera anyway so I guess that's fine xDDD I had fun writing this. I seriously love these two, hehe. Best pair of awkward dorks ever. Anyway do read, enjoy, and review!

Stupidity is Contagious

It's not until everything is finally over that the thought resurfaces.

Well, that's actually a bit of a lie; because really, you haven't been able to stop thinking about it since it happened. It's been lingering in the back of your mind, prodding into your thoughts despite the fact that you've been fighting for your own life in hopes to protect everyone.

You think of his battered body; the blood running down his wounds; his pained face; the smile he gives upon seeing you—as always so eager to please.

Why? You wonder long and hard.

Why you? Why does he see you as someone worth all of this? Why doesn't he see the worth that he himself has?

You care about him, you realize after all of this. He's become important to you somewhere along the way, and you don't really think you can bear to see him die.

You need to do something about this.

Things have changed of course. He doesn't jump in front of cars anymore in a rush to see you. He doesn't dog your every step although his expression tells you that he very well thinks he should.

You still have nightmares about him. The thing is, you're no longer afraid of him and are much rather afraid for him. You can still see his burning, turbulent eyes, so devoted and so selfless—so stupid, you think—and so very ready to throw away his life at your command.

It scares you more than anything he has ever done before.

It has to end.

"Gokudera-kun." You invite him into your room, looking very nervous but mostly determined. Gokudera looks pleased at the fact that you two are alone for once, although there is a rigid stiffness in his posture that tells you that he is nervous too. Still, he answers almost reverently, your title a breathy whisper on his lips, and it makes you as uncomfortable as ever but you try not to let it show on your face.

"Gokudera-kun," you begin again. "I need to talk to you. P-please listen," you tell him, feeling so painfully awkward because you've never really done anything like this before, not really.

(You think of Yamamoto, of your stupid encouraging words which almost drove him to suicide, and it makes you want to clamp your mouth shut in fear of a similar result—except you remember that Yamamoto is still alive, because of you as well, and that helps end that trail of thought before it goes any farther.)

"What is it, Tenth?" Gokudera's sitting at your right on the floor, looking serious at your tone, but his eager eyes are intent on you. It makes you gulp and swallow half of your words, but somehow you dredge up the courage once more.

"You can't keep doing this for me anymore, Gokudera-kun," are the first, the only words you are able to manage, and you immediately know they are the wrong ones because he instantly begins to panic.

"Tenth?" His eyes widen, his voice sounding so very small. You can see what he's thinking—Gokudera always wears his heart on his sleeves; bears it to you with a frank devotion that often makes you weak in the knees. "Tenth? What do you… What?" he asks again, looking pale and withdrawn, tense and ready to coil—or maybe shatter.

You reach over to cover his bandaged hands with your own. "This, Gokudera-kun. Please don't ever do something like this again," you tell him, sounding as earnest as he usually does. Pleading. Because you've been dreaming every night of what stunt he's going to pull next. Because even though he promised you to watch the firework together you can't help but to remember the time he jumped in front of the needles aimed for your heart.

Because you're afraid that one day he'll disappear from your side. You cannot let this happen.

Understanding seeps into his expression. Hesitance comes next. There's even a faint sign of confusion marring underneath his features. But above all, he's struggling not to disobey your order, thinking in a manner that was once foreign to you but one that you've paid a hard price to finally understand.

"Tenth…" he begins with that reluctant tone, the one that tells you that he's not listening, so you shake your head and stop him from speaking up. "No, Gokudera-kun," you tell him firmly, your voice stronger than you feel. You frown at him, not like a parent to a naughty child, nor as a boss to a subordinate, but one of a friend to another.

"It's not worth sacrificing yourself for any of this. I don't care about the rings, the battles, the Mafia—any of it." You squeeze lightly on his hands, clutching at them as if afraid he'll run away the moment you let go. "But you, I can't…. I…" It's so hard to tell him. You never really know what he's thinking or if he'll understand what you want to tell him. You come from different worlds, with different expectations and... and you know, you can tell, he's lived a hard life before, well, you.

The reminder suffocates your chest with smothering heat and it makes you squeeze his hands tighter.

"You cannot do this anymore," you tell him in a pleading whisper, hoping he understands what you mean for once—

(although what you really want to say—shout, scream, yell—is "I can't bear to lose you, Gokudera-kun!")

—but you're becoming painfully aware that he hasn't moved, hasn't breathed since you've spoken up again. You look up and for once you can't read his expression. You've never seen him look so...


"Tenth…" He looks like he's trying to say something that pains him and you suppose that's some sort of progress between you, since he never actually bothers to tell you his feelings directly. "Tenth, I—can't," he breathes out his answer with frustration and even a hint of fear. He doesn't look up into your eyes.

You suck in a startled breath. "W-what?" This is the first time he's said no to you. You started this conversation on the belief that just a mere request would do the trick, and this, this particular development shocks you and makes your face stricken because you don't know how else to make him understand.

"I... I'm sorry! I didn't mean to go against your word, Tenth, but, but…!" he gushes over immediately after his mistake, and the familiar sound of his forehead slamming against the ground relieves you somewhat but you still feel out of your league about this whole thing. How could you possibly make him understand—

"What I mean to say is that I can't not protect you, Tenth." Gokudera tries to soothe over his words, giving you these helpless pleading glances that you cannot help but to mirror back. "If I were to leave the Tenth, if I were to let the Tenth die… please, please don't ask me to step down, Tenth. I promise to take better care of myself, I will, so please don't. I can't."

Oh. You realize then as you stare into his pleading eyes. They look familiarly like your own. How did you not notice that before?

I can't bear to lose you, Gokudera-kun wants to say exactly the same; the way he's looking at you is more than enough words. Your heart is beating loudly at your chest and you're so still and shocked about this realization that you don't realize you haven't spoken a word yet.

But Gokudera notices of course. He deflates and looks hopeless and broken and lost as he swallows down his words and stares holes into his knees. Neither of you breathe, but you're not quite aware of this fact because you're busy taking notice of everything Gokudera does—ever did—in a new light now.

You wonder when it begun for him; when his idolization of you turned into something more than that. (Was it when he was bleeding in your arms, his blood seeping into your clothes and leaving haunting traces of it on your skin? Was it as you stared at his prone silent body, looking pale against the stark white sheets of hospital bed? Maybe it was as he laughed at your side, his smoked-kissed mouth grinning at your every word. Perhaps it was even as you stared at the fading back of his head on the lonely treks back to his apartment. You wonder if he lay restlessly at night, staring up at his ceiling in frustration because neither of you have yet to suggest that he should simply move in—everyone else has, and you wouldn't care about anyone else as long as it was him, him.)

A shaky breath from him reminds you to take one of your own. You jolt and stare wide-eyed at his pained expression and the lips that've begun murmuring toneless apologies and acceptances; this is when you realize that, as always, you've made another mistake.

Stupid, No-Good Tsuna, did it again, don't even know how to say what I mean.

You jump out of your seat to grab at a retreating wrist and hold on to him so tight it feels as if you're the one falling off the roof now.

He stares at you confused and resigned and hopeful, so damn hopeful—

You stare at him with the eyes of a love-stricken fool—

And tell him exactly what you mean, this time with your lips.