A million things ran through Gokudera's mind.

"What the hell is he doing here?! Am I hallucinating? This is all a bad dream. Thisisallabaddream! Wake up! OW! Okay, this isn't a dream… Shit… his lips look soft…What if I just touched- WHAT?! NO! Now is not the time!"

It took a few minutes before Gokudera realised he was making a complete fool of himself by standing in the doorway with his mouth agape like a paralysed baboon. Before he could embarrass himself any more, he marched towards the interim prince a little too confidently, the two almost colliding. Belphegor did not speak. Did not so much as turn his head while a small, mask of a smile played on his lips. Gokudera scowled, the wave of initial shock having ebbed and a familiar pain settling on his chest. The silent treatment? Two could play at that game.

"Gokudera!" Tsuyoshi's voice boomed, breaking the quiet of the room.
"Morning," he nodded.
"Good to see you again kiddo. And great timing too! I need to make this delivery but there's no one to watch store. Takeshi should be back soon but could you hold the fort 'til then?"
Great. As if things couldn't get any worse. But he wasn't supposed to care, remember? So he nodded curtly as Tsuyoshi gathered the order. Before leaving though, he leaned over said in what Gokudera assumed was his attempt at a whisper, and said "watch out for that one... I've got a funny feeling about him," motioning towards Belphegor and then heading out.

As soon as he was gone, the blonde Varia assassin turned, his voice amused but laced with bitterness.
"You know, it's not polite to gossip about your customers like that."

Internally and unintentionally, Gokudera swooned. That voice, despite having heard it so many times in his dreams, was so close now that it was almost tangible. He was so close now, close enough to touch- but before he could fall into that old trap again, the bomber turned, adorning his face with his most fearsome scowl.

"Shouldn't you be in Italy?" He interjected with such a coldness that it burned.
All the playful undertones in Belphegor's speech disappeared, and though his eyes were covered, Gokudera could feel the heated gaze.
"You're not the least bit happy to see me?"
"Do I have a reason to be?"

Belphegor felt like he had just been stabbed in the heart. Absently, he brought his fingers to his chest, as if to make sure he wasn't gushing with blood. It was stupid. Stupid of him to have stayed in Naminori. To have insisted that he remain in Japan for sightseeing. Sightseeing, of all things. How stupid he must have seemed to other Varia members, as they sent him knowing glances behind his back and shook their heads condescendingly. He had made a fool of himself in the hopes that maybe, if they were no longer enemies and maybe if he had come alone, that Gokudera might reconsider his feelings for him. But no. Of course not. If Squalo wasn't so badly injured, he would have castrated the blonde for being so spineless. Or attempted to at least.

Before he could stop it, the Varia assassin felt something cold and wet roll down his cheek. It ran onto his lips before he realised, much to his horror, that he was crying. Because of Gokudera. In front of Gokudera. Behind the tears and his unkempt bangs, Belphegor could see the silvernette gawking, his cold disposition long gone.

"Wait… A-are you crying?" Gokudera's voice was shaky, and silently berated himself for showing such concern."Why is he crying? Did I do something? What do I do? Should I hug him?"

The young bomber raised his hand to awkwardly pat Belphegor on the shoulder, when it was abruptly grabbed by said prince with a grip so tight it felt he was scared to let go. Damn those reflexes.

The two of them just sat there, Belphegor crying silently and Gokudera looking a mixture of shock and concern, all the while their hands interlinked between them. Unable to resist any longer, the silvernette used his free hand to tentatively wipe some of the tears of the older teen's cheeks, his ringed thumb inching closer to the prince's supple lips every second. Before he could reach it, Belphegor jerked away, standing up angrily and using the back of his jacket to wipe away the rest of his tears.

"How dare you."
Gokudera stood up too, his resolve finally breaking.
"How dare I?! You have got to be kidding me. After the way you've been treating me for the last month?! How do you even have the nerve to say that? And finally, finally when I can get some peace, you return. Why…" His voice broke painfully. "Why do you hate me so much?"
Belphegor stepped forward, almost threateningly, and Gokudera cursed himself for being armed with his dynamite.
"Hate you? Hate you? Is that what you're calling it? I swear you kids get dumber each generation."\

And then it hit him. Like an anvil.

"Wait… Are you saying... If it isn't hate, then what is it?" No, Gokudera wouldn't allow himself to feel that familiar sense of hope again. But then again...
"You should know-"
"No. I don't. Enough with the games. You asked me last time if I loved you, and now it's my turn to ask you. Answer my question."

Belphegor panicked, taken aback but the imperativeness of the silvernette's words. This was not the same little teen he decided to toy with a month ago. This was Gokudera Hayato. His equal.

The blonde's eyes darting rapidly behind his golden hair in search for any means of exit. As a last resort, and as an easy form of bail he muttered "it doesn't matter anyway," before turning to leave. But as he took the first step, a hand whipped out, latching itself onto his wrist, its ringed fingers cutting at his flesh. Damn those reflexes.

"It does matter. It matters to me." Gokudera whispered so tenderly that is sounded almost loving.
And then before he could stop himself…

"Because I love you."