"No one…except for…Dino-nii, Reborn-san, and my guardians…"

As everyone stared at the brunet in shock, Tsuna just smiled faintly at his guardians, and at Dino and Reborn.

"What are you talking about, Tsunayoshi?" asked Timoteo, obviously confused. "Don Chiavarone was the only one that believed you were innocent…wasn't he?"

"No…" Tsuna said, quiet as a breath.

"Juudaime, I-" Hayato began, but was cut off with one look from Tsuna.

"I am…very disappointed…in you, Hayato…In you…and Takeshi…"

Hayato clenched his hand into a fist at his side, grinding his teeth together as he looked down in shame.

"We're so sorry, Tsuna…" said Takeshi in a voice that sounded as if he was going to burst into tears any second now.

"We should have tried harder."

"That's not…it…" said Tsuna, his voice sounding frustrated, and both guardians looked at him with confused expressions. "I'm not…disappointed because of…that. I'm disappointed…because you…let yourselves get…hurt because of…me…"

Both Takeshi's and Hayato's eyes welled up with tears at that, and everyone else was looking between the three of them, obviously not understanding what was going.

"Hurt…?" asked Reborn, his brows furrowed. Then, all of a sudden, understanding and maybe even just a hint of pride dawned on his face, and he said, "You can't mean that time…?"

Takeshi just nodded in answer to his question, but he didn't look away from Tsuna, and his tears didn't stop falling either.

"I'm happy…that you didn't…give up on me…"

And at this, Hayato started crying louder, collapsing to the floor, his head bowed. "B-but we did give up on you, Juudaime! We stopped trying after that! We stopped trying!"

"Because…they threatened you…they threatened…to imprison you…as well…"

"Who cares?" asked Hayato. "You were a-already in there! We should h-have kept t-trying!"

"An-and, we let them convince us. W-we let everyone e-else convince us that y-you were guilty!" added Takeshi, stumbling over the words as he tried to choke back his sobs.

"It's not…your fault…" breathed Tsuna, "If you're told…a lie…enough times, you…will begin…to believe it's…true. And…if you truly…believed I was…a murderer…you wouldn't…have stayed in…the mafia…this long. I think…deep down…you still knew…I was innocent…"

Takeshi and Hayato didn't reply; they just kept crying and crying. The two cried for their boss's unconditional trust in them; they cried because they knew they could have done so much more; and they cried for what they believed was undeserved forgiveness.

And finally, when no one else in the room could take it anymore, Dino blurted out, "What the hell are you guys talking about?"

No one answered him for a moment, but after finally getting himself back under control, and seeing that Hayato wouldn't be able to answer the question, Takeshi spoke up.

"We-well, it began soon after T-Tsuna was arrested…"

Flashback

Takeshi was starting to get really worried about Hayato.

The storm guardian hadn't come out of his room at all since that day almost a week ago.

If one stopped to think about it, that shouldn't be too surprising, considering how much Hayato had idolized Tsuna, but even over his own grief, Takeshi felt worried about his silver-haired friend.

And so, taking with him a tray of cookies and two cups of tea, the rain headed towards his friend's room, steeling himself for what he would see there.

Takeshi didn't really know what he had expected, maybe Gokudera lying on his bed, his eyes swollen from crying and with an empty expression in them, but that was definitely not what he had found.

When Takeshi entered Hayato's bedroom, he immediately found the silveret, who was sitting at his desk, scribbling furiously away at something.

On the floor around the boy were hundreds of crumpled up pages.

Carefully setting down the tray, Takeshi went over and picked up one of the papers.

It was a testament to how hard Hayato was working that he still hadn't noticed Takeshi's presence, even when the boy gently flattened out the paper, making sure not to rip it.

It took Takeshi's brain a few moments to properly process what the writing and diagrams on the paper meant, but when he finally understood, he quickly bent down to pick up another paper.

Flattening out that paper, Takeshi studied it for a moment and found that it was similar to the first paper. The rain guardian repeated this step another few times, just to make sure, and every time he un-crumpled another piece of paper, he found something of a similar nature to the first two papers written on it.

All these papers, every single one of these papers held discarded plans on how to break Tsuna out of the Vendicare.

Every single piece of paper was jam-packed with Hayato's tiny, neat handwriting, with notes detailing how every single step of the plan would be carried out, and there were even diagrams to help explain some of the more complicated steps.

Looking at these sheets of paper, Takeshi felt a chill run up his spine.

He knew he shouldn't be surprised, but seeing the extent of Hayato's complete and utter loyalty to Tsuna…it was almost frightening. Every single word he wrote practically screamed out his determination to prove his boss innocent.

Taking his eyes off the paper, Takeshi looked at Hayato's hunched back, watching the other male scribbling furiously, and he felt disgust at himself well up inside him.

Seeing Hayato working so hard, Takeshi had to wonder how he could ever have thought, even for a second, that Tsuna could possibly be capable of murdering his own father. There was no way in hell that that same boy who whad been upset when Daemon, one of his enemies had finally passed on, could have murdered his own father.

It was completely and utterly impossible.

Making a split second decision, Takeshi looked up at Hayato and startled the boy out of his plan-making frenzy by asking, "Is there any way I can help?"

End Flashback


SkyGem: Well, well, well, how's that for dropping a bomb, hm? Are you guys surprised? Lol. Please do leave a review and let me know what you guys thought, ne? Ciao!

P.S. For those of you who don't know yet: I have a new blog called "Fanfiction DOs and DON'Ts." Please check it out if you have the time, ne?