So, after like a year or so, I finally finished this xD The funny (not really) thing was that it took me a year to finish the last 4 sections, cause I wrote most of this in like 2 days lol. I fail at life. Yup xD Anyway, the format might be a little clunky? But basically here are Shamal's and Bianchi's POVs throughout Gokudera's life. Hope you guys like it (: It's meant to be a companion fic to something I wrote before ("Gokudera Hayato"), but it can be read as a standalone. (:

Read, enjoy, and don't forget to review!

Our Mistakes

"I'm afraid, Madam, that there is nothing I can do for you." Shamal's suave voice is a tenor of sorrow, but Lavina merely smiles at him, her hand resting on the doctor's cheek briefly.

"I have always known," she tells him, a melancholic ring in her voice. She looks beautiful, regal even as she lies tiredly and pale on the canopy bed.

Shamal returns the smile, but it is a sad one. His eyes shift to the bundle on Lavina's arms, who looks just as quiet and precious. His mother's son, no doubt about it.

Little Hayato notices his stare and giggles happily as he reaches out to him. Lavina gazes at them both with a private smile, one that doesn't falter at Shamal's unreadable expression. There is something so intimate about this moment, something that makes the doctor's hands uncharacteristically tense on his lap as he watches these beautiful, fragile people.

There is nothing more he can do for them.

"I imagine the Don is anxious to see his son," Shamal murmurs finally, not able to bear looking at this scene any longer. He stands up from his chair and turns to leave.

"Don't tell him until I've gone." Lavina makes him promise just before he steps out the door.

"Is there something wrong with my brother?" Bianchi asks him, the childish frown on her face meant to be somber. Even at eight years of age, she is smart enough to tell that the doctor's constant presence in the house is not a good sign.

"Nothing seems to be wrong with him," Shamal indulges her with a small smile, happy to note her relief at his words. He turns back his attention to the silver-haired boy, but Hayato is wiggling out of his chair already, anxious to leave and practice his piano.

He seems excited for some reason, Shamal notes, and shares a glance with the Don.

She finds him crying one afternoon, curled up and trembling by the window. He looks fragile, Bianchi thinks as she lays a delicate hand on his shoulder.

"I wanted to play the piano for mom," Hayato tells her. His small face is a river of tears as he looks up from his knees.

There is a glaringly red mark on his cheek that makes Bianchi gasp loudly.

"She…" Bianchi murmurs in disbelief, moving to cradle her brother's face in her hands. The way he flinches at her touch makes her want to cry as well.

"It hurts," he confesses softly, and Bianchi moves to hug him. She doesn't have to look at his hands, which are gripping at the front of his shirt, to know what he means.

"Play for me?" she asks him later, much later. And he does.

It is a beautiful sound.

He doesn't play the piano anymore. He doesn't look at her in the face either. Bianchi wonders what is wrong with her brother, whose face has been all too serious ever since he's turned eight.

"What happened to your arm?" she asks him worriedly as she spots him running around with a cast.

The way his smile disappears the moment he hears her pains Bianchi from her stomach to her toes.

"It's none of your business," he tells her, almost uncomfortably as he stares down at his shoes rather than her eyes. Bianchi lays a troubled hand on his shoulder, the other moving to tilt his face up as she asks him again.

"Leave me alone, Bianchi!" her brother protests loudly, a pained grimace on his face as he slaps her hand away and runs off. Bianchi stares after him feeling stunned, and becoming more so as she spots Shamal round the corner.

The way her brother's face lights up at his presence frustrates her more than she cares to admit, and she can only glare at the doctor who's slowly taking her brother away from her.

It is during brunch that they get a wind of it. Bianchi sits between her parents at the garden, wondering where her little brother is as she takes a bite out of her sandwich.

"What do you mean, gone?" Father's voice is suddenly cold and tight in his throat. Mother makes no move other than to sip at her drink, but Bianchi's face shoots up to look at her Father's. Although it is blank, there is a tightness in his eyes that's hard not to miss.

"We're sorry, sir," his men apologize profusely. "We don't know how, but one minute he was there, and the next…" The current speaker bows his head, the shame rolling off of him in waves. It is another one that picks up where he left off. "We're doing everything in our power to find him. He'll turn up by the end of the day," they try to reassure him.

Bianchi's face is pale and wide-eyed at the news, and she clutches at her Mother's dress in worry.

She's taken to tailing her Father's footsteps, despite the fact that she's been told to stay in her room. She makes sure not to be seen, and she is glad she is there when her Father's men come back more injured than they should be.

"He did what!" Father's voice booms throughout the house, a noise of rage and frustration.

Bianchi's hands are trembling as she hears the men explain that they've found her brother—and that he'd threaten to blow up both them and himself if they dared take a step closer.

Father looks helpless and lost, an expression that seems foreign on his face, but one that Bianchi could understand. She had always thought she was more like her Mother than her Father, but lately, it seemed that wasn't so.

Father dismisses his men with a wave of his hand, ordering them to do something about this. When a pair of sniveling maids burst in next, Father's face has composed again, looking far more in control with the gun in his hands and the cold rage hidden beneath his eyes.

There is a loud crash coming from her Father's study. Bianchi knows she should continue on her way, but her brother was still not back, and the worried knot in her stomach had yet to subside.

Inside, she can see Father clutching at Shamal's shirt.

"I knew I should've stopped you back then. What were you thinking, teaching him to play with bombs?" Father growls lowly, his face dark and furious.

Shamal says nothing to his defense, merely looking to the side silently. Bianchi's worry only increases at this exchange—it couldn't be…! she begins to think wildly. It takes her a second to decide whether or not she should burst into the room, but by then her Father has already collapsed into his chair, face buried in his hands.

"He'll survive," Shamal murmurs lowly, words meant only for her Father.

"He's a child," Father protests, but his voice has turned hollow now.

Bianchi can't help but to close her eyes.

"That is enough." She has never heard Mother speak in that sort of voice before. "It is clear that the boy no longer wishes to return. Let him be," she suggests, although her voice makes it clear that it is not.

Father's fists tighten at his sides, but he says nary a word of protest. Instead he opts to look out the window, towards the garden, the city.

The silence is thick, stifling. Bianchi feels like an intruder as she hides behind the door.

"He is not welcome here," Mother murmurs lowly, after a while. Her hands move to pull Father away from the window. There is a hard look in her eyes and a thin frown on her lips, but it is those clutching hands that show her own longing and pain.

Father makes no move for a long time, but when he does it hits Bianchi like a slap on the face. "Alright.." she hears him murmuring, and that is the end of that.

A year passes, and the house is all too quiet without her brother's cheerful voice. Bianchi avoids her parents as much as she can and continues to devote her time to her cooking.

She hates being here. The stifling silence and tense atmosphere often leaves her quivering and choked. Her parents rarely talk anymore. No one knows where Hayato is.

Next year, Bianchi thinks, she will begin her training. She will be allowed out of the house, and when she is, she will be gone.

For now though, her feet are leading her to her Father's study again. She doesn't know what she expects to see this time. She knows she won't find Hayato there.

Father is holding letters in his hands.

He looks up from them to see her, looking old and sad, in a way that makes her heart clench tightly. Bianchi wants to run up to his side and hug him and cry, but instead she merely asks him,


There is a bitter smile forming on Father's face. "He is still too young to understand," he murmurs and closes his eyes, but it feels like the words are directed to her more than anyone.

It is mostly guilt that makes Shamal pick the brat up from that bench. The boy looks tired and pale, and his skin was too cold.

He looks too much like his mother, Shamal sighs in remembrance, holding the shivering boy closer in his arms as he begins to head home.

Hayato is asleep when they arrive at his apartment. Shamal quickly disposes of the weightless body in his arms, leaving him on the couch and throwing a blanket over him after. Hayato is quiet in his sleep, his breath faint and sickly. He looks very much like the boy he is; foolish and young and too easily hurt.

Shamal has only felt this kind of helplessness once before.

He swiftly turns to the kitchen and busies himself, already regretting this decision. There is not much he can offer the boy. He's never been good with children. Countless of excuses are battling in his mind, but none of them have enough merit.

He cannot bear to look at him. He doesn't want him in his house, reminding him of his failures. But he cannot leave him be any longer.

Women are much easier to deal with, Shamal notes with a sigh, feeling wary and inept. He takes only a moment to set down a hot mug of chocolate on the coffee table before turning to leave.

She hears about it not long after. He's alright, Bianchi thinks, her heart a faint beat amongst her wave of relief. She isn't really sure if she's happy about this arrangement, but at least her brother is no longer on the streets, fighting to survive.

He's at Shamal's, Bianchi ponders on this thought as if it was a weighted die. There is a thoughtful frown lingering on her lips as she puts down the gun she'd been cleaning, and thinks of her Father's words; her brother's cast.

The worry is too much to leave alone just at that. She finds herself at their front door, sooner than they probably expect. Shamal doesn't look surprised to see her as he opens the door however, leering at her suavely as he invites her inside. Bianchi rolls her eyes at this display, but enters quickly and without further word.

She finds him huddling on the couch with a bandage on his cheek and meal on his lap. "Hayato!" She beams at him immediately, feeling childish and young all over again as she bounces towards him. It's been far too long since she's last seen him.

Her brother's eyes widen at her voice. He stills and shuts his eyes tightly as his skin begins to turn green.

"You don't look too good." Bianchi falters slightly, looking concerned once she reaches him. Hayato is shaking, clutching at his stomach with a pained grimace and a low whine at his throat.

"Hayato?" Bianchi frowns at him wide-eyed, wondering what was wrong with him.

The arms around his stomach tighten for a second, but her brother takes a deep breath and almost forcibly meets her gaze with his own—one full of longing and pain—before proceeding to throw up on her shoes.

The house is empty.

Shamal yells Hayato's name, once, twice, but gets no response in return.

"Where the hell is he?" Shamal's lips turn white in anger as he takes long strides inside his house and searches for the boy. Had he run away again? Shamal thinks furiously, hating the way his heartbeat thumped erratically in his chest.

There is blood seeping into his couch, trailing in the direction of the bathroom. But that too is empty.

He cannot find him anywhere.

Panic turns into frustration as Shamal takes a moment to berate himself. Of course the boy would run away. It wasn't as if Shamal has been taking good care of him. The doctor is not used to coming home all the time, and often forgets about the boy he had taken under his roof.

He could be dead, his conscious nags him. Done away by the damn bombs Shamal had taught him to use, the Don's voice reminds him.

The hour passes slowly as Shamal's thoughts turn poisonous and wonders what he should do. What he should have done. He's imagining thousands of ways he could find the boy, and almost none of them are pleasant.

But Hayato walks in then, a shopping bag full of instant food at his side as he enters through the front door, looking nonchalant and unaware of the chaos he had caused him.

Shamal wants to laugh at himself; he wants to glare at the brat for daring to worm his way back into his heart. He wants to ask him about the blood on the couch and the bruise on his cheek, but instead he merely rolls his eyes and gestures Hayato to bring over the food.

He's in no mood to bar hop tonight, Shamal informs the boy, who rewards him a small but careful smile at the news.

She's taken to stalking him.

Bianchi wonders sometimes if her brother knows she's doing so, because it is too often that she finds herself pressing against corners, hoping not to be seen. Hayato is paranoid, she notes with pleasure. That is good, at least, if he's still planning to follow the family's footsteps.

She can't quite understand what or why he keeps murmuring under his breath every time he looks over his shoulder however. It is a worrying habit, but she can't question him about it unless she reveals herself.

Bianchi inches forward slowly as her brother turns another corner. In about four minutes they will reach one of the city's parks. Hayato will train there until nightfall and not notice her on his way back home. He will get into a fight or two throughout the day, and it was up to her to scare away the more dangerous opponents before they even thought of approaching him. On the slight chance that Hayato passes out, she will have to carry him back to Shamal's doorstep.

She wishes she didn't have to sneak around so often, but her brother was ridiculously shy and possibly angry with her. If only she could visit him more freely…

Maybe for his birthday? Bianchi considers, remembering with pleasure that the event was coming up soon. Should I make him a cake? Bianchi wonders with an excited smile on her lips.

Her ponderings end at that moment however, because Hayato is tensing up even further, and his murmuring has gotten louder. She strains her ears and finds him chanting some sort of incantation—although it certainly didn't sound Italian. Bemused, Bianchi files away that information for later examination.

He's always been an odd child, she thinks fondly.

It takes him a while to notice that his best bottle of brandy is empty, but when he does, it makes Shamal's eyebrows rise in alarm.

"Oi, brat!" he calls over what has to be the guilty party, but when Hayato finally emerges from the other side of the couch he merely looks confused.

"What happened here?" Shamal frowns as he examines the other carefully, shaking the bottle in question while inwardly berating himself for leaving alcohol out in the open and available to the boy.

Hayato gives an alarmingly understanding hum at his question, but instead of looking sheepish or guilty, he merely shrugs. "Anesthetic," the boy explains after a moment, making a vague motion towards his body in a rather uncaring manner, before shoving his gunpowder-stained hands back down into his pockets.

Shamal's confusion clears up after a second, but the explanation makes him grimace instead.

He sighs and runs a hand through his hair, before asking the brat to show him what he did this time. The boy is surprisingly uncooperative, which both worries him and angers him.

They spend the rest of the day arguing, the hours full of protesting and simmering silences, and it distracts Shamal to the point that he forgets his initial goal of lecturing the boy about the dangers of alcohol, among other things.

His last thought that night ends up being a promise to stock up on a new first aid kit, but it'll be one he won't fulfill.

It begins like this.

It's been a while since she's seen her brother, but work's become relentless and there is a boy who's caught her eye.

He is handsome, his voice suave and his hands calloused. There is something dark about him that makes her shiver in delight and makes her cheeks bleed red.

His name is Romeo, and Bianchi longs to be his Juliet.

Bianchi spends her nights thinking about him, wondering what his lips feel like, taste like. Wondering how to make him notice her and not—

There is a girl that's always at his side, who looks much older and prettier, and definitely more experienced. How could Bianchi possibly compete with that?

It is during a mission when it happens.

Bianchi's learnt to live for the moment on missions like this. She is reckless and makes mistakes, but the thrill of the action is satisfying and addicting—she has no regrets about the life she lives, not even when she wakes up shaking and stares at her blood-soaked hands in horror.

She likes to think it's like a fairy tale.

Romeo is her knight in shining armor, standing at her feet and pulling her up towards him. He is covered in blood and the smell of gunpowder and roses, looking every bit as dangerous and deadly as she does—yet his presence sets her at ease. He is layering kind kisses to the tip of her fingers, looking at her with—love, it must be love—and clutching at her and never letting go.

Bianchi basks on this as his fingers trail her skin, the edges of her tattoo, and lets him lull her back to sleep.

Shamal doesn't know who he's trying to fool.

It is while he is lying in bed, tired and sated, resting before he ups and leaves yet another conquest behind, that Hayato's face pops up in his mind.

Shamal grimaces and tries to shake the image away with irritation, but much like the real thing, this Hayato clings on to him like he's the only thing keeping him alive.

He hates it.

Shamal knows that the boy will one day begin to glare at him with resentment. He will wise up, and he will know that Shamal makes an awful role model.

There's really nothing Shamal can do about this. He's tried to forget and he's tried to do better.

But ultimately, Shamal will always remember all the lives that he has taken with his hands, and the very few that he has saved.

Shamal knows his mistakes more than anyone. He remembers his harsh words, he remembers his foolish decisions, and more than anything, he remembers the boy's sweet, beautiful mother whom he couldn't save, and it is that memory that reminds Shamal he could never be a father to this kid.

It is on her way back home that Bianchi spots her brother working.

He looks angrier, older. There are bandages covering his arms, hiding a plethora of wounds. All except the ones etched behind his eyes; in his heart. Bianchi smiles a little sadly, almost bitterly. Her hand rises to cover the darkening bruise that's growing on her arm as she turns to look away and continues heading home.

She wonders if it's Italy, or if it's in their blood. She wonders if either of them would ever be happy.

It ends like this.

His hands are gripping tightly at her wrists, leaving telling bruises marring at her skin. There is a furious protest at her lips, and an angry hiss escaping through his teeth.

And then something, someone, kicking at Romeo's cheek.

"Ciaossu," a small baby greets, before pulling out a gun towards the older man.

Bianchi is startled into silence at the sudden motion, and everyone holds their breath for a second before Romeo's face begins to darken and he moves to attack.

And is beaten.

"Reborn..." She finds out is his name later, mouths it wonderingly, and treasures his memory to her heart.

It becomes an obsession.

Romeo is angry that she's been ignoring him but Bianchi doesn't care. All she can think of is Reborn. Her mind is formulating plans, wondering which would be the best way to get rid of the Cavallone brat who's been stealing Reborn from her for over a year now.

Romeo is gripping at her arm again, the softness in his eyes as fake as ever and the corner of his mouth still whispering lies hiding beneath the soft caress of his kiss.

Bianchi has no regrets as she slams her poison cooking into his face. She adds a one to her mental count of kills. And then she forgets.

She'll be halfway inside the Cavallone estate when she wonders how her brother is doing.

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

The brat raises a patronizing brow before shrugging the doctor off. "Taking a shower, you dumb pervert," he states and heads in the direction of the bathroom.

Shamal absently notes Hayato's general state of being—bloodied, bruised, not much different from any other day of the week—but is much more concerned with the death stick marring the young boy's lips. The sight makes his blood simmer angrily, although Shamal isn't sure at who exactly he was angry at.

"Hayato," Shamal begins to hiss warningly, not in the mood to put up with the boy's casual disregard of his authority. But it seems Hayato doesn't notice.

Doesn't really care.

Shamal scowls at the boy feeling irritated, stalking over to him in a flash before slamming him against the wall, gripping his shoulders tightly. He ignores the slight feeling of guilt gathering in his gut, ignores the pained grimace crossing the boy's face. Hayato gasps breathlessly, muttering a curse even in this state. The defiant look on his face makes Shamal blind with rage, panic, fear. The cigarette stays stubbornly in place, and it makes Shamal wonder, How long had this been going on? His gripping hands tighten.

The smell of the smoke makes Shamal feel intoxicated, lost. The world stands still as Shamal takes note of every scar he's managed to leave on this boy—teen now. He's grown up faster than he should've and Shamal's done more harm than help as usual.

He cannot bear to look at him. He doesn't want him in his house, reminding him of his failures. "Get out." The words are out of his mouth before he can register them, but Hayato merely snorts, as if expecting this.

He is gone before Shamal can even think of taking them back.

She chases Reborn all the way to Japan.

Bianchi is surprised to find her brother there as well, standing by that boy's side. She can't help but wonder what it is about this Tsunayoshi that's calling all the people she cares about to his side.

The doctor makes his way here too. Bianchi doesn't really know that to think of that (except she does, and the answer leaves cold rage haunting at her chest; she wants to kill him, hurt him—but Bianchi can't judge a man whose actions ring so similarly to her own. She can't judge him, but that doesn't stop her anger).

She's distrustful at first. Her anger is simmering. But her brother looks happier than he has in years, and Bianchi can't bear to take this away from him. She stays quiet instead and promises to herself to keep an eye on the Vongola—the fact that she'll be at Reborn's side is more than a bonus.

Sooner than she knows, she'll be falling for this young boy's charm as well, whose kind words and gentle hands will pledge to protect them all.

"Why is Hayato here instead of the hospital?" Bianchi rages, feeling her heart at her throat at her brother's faint appearance. She glowers hotly at Shamal, knowing that he's been nothing but useless, (knowing that he's only pretending to, because he must care, at least a little).

"Bianchi-chan~!" Shamal exclaims as she enters the room, his clownish antics driving all eyes away from the prone victim who seems to be struggling to breathe. All but Tsunayoshi, whose hands are shaking in horror and guilt; as they very well should, Bianchi thinks vindictively. This was his fault!

Her brother's breaths are quiet and ragged, and his hand twitches towards the boy even while unconscious. The sight makes Bianchi's heart twist slightly, her fists tightening at her sides as she glares at the occupants of the room.

"I will attend to Hayato's recuperation. If you're going to be in my way, step outside!" Bianchi snarls protectively, tired of trusting others with her brother (tired of feeling so guilty for not being there for him). She feels insulted at the collective snort her words garner, but a threat later and everyone falls silent.

Not much later, as she runs a worried hand over the fevered brow of her brother, Bianchi can't help but to allow her chest to ease. The pure regret she had overheard from Tsunayoshi as the boy moaned shakily in self-loathing was more than either she or Shamal could admit to feeling.

Shamal is waiting.

He is drinking in his office, bidding for time, knowing that Hayato would come find him soon. The doctor is dreading the conversation that was to come; wished that he could avoid all of this.

"I was wondering who it was. So it was you, Hayato."

"Hey, Shamal…" Hayato is trying to build up his courage, Shamal knows. Reborn had warned him about this. It hurt him to see Hayato like this—so hesitant and unsure—but it's not as if Shamal hadn't come to expect it. He's predicted this for years after all.

"What? You here for relationship advice?" Shamal teases him, feeling the need to change that expression to something else; trying to ignore the guilt nagging at his stomach.

Predictably, thankfully, Hayato glares with disgust in response. "It isn't!" he says, his face flushing in a way that makes Shamal smile with amusement.

"Then what is it?" the doctor asks.

Hayato doesn't hesitate to bring the matter up. "Could you make me your student again?" he asks brusquely, though his gaze stays firmly on the ground.

Shamal was not expecting him to be so blunt about it. Or maybe he was.

But although he's been considering agreeing this whole time, Shamal's refusal leaves his lips without further thought. "No thanks. I don't have time to babysit brats like you," Shamal tells him with an easy shrug, his tone dismissive and equally as blunt.

There is a moment of hurt silence here, in which Hayato stares at him with those eyes again, angry and begging. As always, the kid is too transparent and Shamal can't help but to look away before the other can lure him in once more.

The knowledge of all the damage Shamal was guilty of hurts. But he knows that it would hurt more to see Hayato disregarding his life again, so he ignores the boy's next words.

"I'll do anything!" Hayato is saying. "Just a little bit of practice every day, like before! Please!"

"I'm already sick of you. Go home," Shamal tells him, his voice cold and his eyes shuttered. A moment later, the door of the infirmary serves to separate the two once more. Shamal rubs his hand tiredly over his face as he listens for Hayato's retreating footsteps. It feels like an eternity before he is nursing at his drink again.

That idiot… Shamal has been a doctor for a long time, but despite his expertise, he still doesn't know how to cure this particular disease.

"Gokudera-kun!" The Vongola brat's looking anxious to run over to Shamal's dumbass apprentice, but the doctor puts a sharp hand out to stop him.

"Leave him be," he tells him, trying not to seem as irritated as he felt as he looked away from the scene before them. The sounds of exploding bombs continue to echo throughout the clearing as Vongola stares at him incredulously.

"Leave him be?" the teen protests, with a recklessness that Shamal tries hard not to sympathize with.

"This is fine for a guy who never grows up," the doctor explains with a bitter scoff, and almost bites his tongue at the pained sound Hayato makes a moment later.

"Why are you refusing Gokudera-kun?" Vongola protests once again, his eyes angry and confused. "He's come so far!" he insists, and moves to stare worriedly towards the smoky clearing, trying to spot where Hayato was now hiding.

Shamal sighs minutely, his voice an almost murmur against the sound of the next explosion. "He just doesn't see it," he tells him, his eyes shadowed.


"Unless he can see "it" I don't care if he lives or dies here," Shamal retorts, the lies heavy on his tongue.

Vongola makes a frustrated sound at this, though it is drawn out yet again as Hayato makes a wrong move in the clearing behind them. Shamal has to stop the brunette from running off once again, which garners him a panicked glare.

"Gokudera-kun!" The shrill, startled shout finally makes Shamal stare back into the clearing. There is an eerily silence that makes the doctor's heart drop for a second, and then his grip on the Vongola boss loosens upon spotting an unexpected sight.

"...just how do you expect to protect others, when you can't even protect yourself?" Iemitsu is murmuring all-too-soft, so soft that Shamal knows exactly what the other is up to.

The doctor runs a weary hand through his hair as he watches his old friend depart, and Vongola is finally running off then, straight into Hayato's startled arms.



The doctor sighs and gives them a moment before stepping in. "Listen," he tells his stupid apprentice, who turns to look at him with a guilty, hesitant, all-too-knowing gaze. Shamal ignores the way his stomach twists at the sight of the idiot's battered body. "Do something reckless like that again and I'll cut short that life you so badly wish to lose," he threatens, his voice cold and unimpressed.

Hayato's quiet acquiescence loosens something old and heavy that had been lingering for far too in Shamal's chest.



"That idiot…" Shamal hisses angrily, clenching his fists tightly as he glares down at the ground, trying to push back the burning that was aching at his throat. How many times had he told the brat to look out for himself? How many times had Shamal told himself not to be lured in by that idiot kid?

There is a somber silence overtaking the hallway. The mixture of grief and disbelief is thickening by the second and Vongola is soon falling to his knees in front of them. Someone is shouting but Shamal is still stuck on the image of Hayato cradled in his arms; the quiet evenings full of piano music; the carelessly bandaged injuries; the cigarette dangling from his scowling lips.

Why? Shamal feels blinded for a moment, but it is only a second later when he finally regains his breath.

"Hey, look over there!" Reborn speaks up, his voice urgent.

Shamal's head snaps up and his chest tightens fiercely for a moment before loosening with sheer relief. He's alive, he thinks, the phrase repeating over and over in his mind as he takes in the sight of his idiot apprentice stumbling towards them. The kids hurry to meet him.

"Gokudera chose to live," Reborn murmurs quietly to him then, as they both gaze at the happy reunion a couple of feet ahead of them.

Shamal's lips quirk up quietly. "Yeah. He showed the most growth right at the end." He chuckles slightly, his smile turning rueful as he watches Hayato begin to fervently apologize to his Tenth. The doctor shakes his head and gives the Arcobaleno a slight shrug. "I'm not so conceited to think it was because of me though," he admits. But really, he has nothing to complain about.

As he stares at the kid who's been slowly managing to heal all the damage they've done to Hayato, Shamal can only think one thing:

Thank you.