A/N: Hey guys, I thought I'd dig into the vaults of my computer and share an old story with you. Truth be told, I wrote this story…last May I believe, and it was going to be used for a compilation with someone else. Sadly, I don't know if that compilation is still in the works, because the person I'm making it with hasn't contacted me in over half a year. So, out of my frustration, I'm sharing this story with you guys. I'm still for doing the compilation if the other person still wants me too, but I'm just sick of waiting.
Anyway, I'm actually pretty proud of this story. It originally was supposed to be a multi-chaptered series, but I think it works out a little better as a one-shot. I just didn't have all the details worked out for the middle parts, so this was probably the best option to use. Anyway, I wrote this story to take place after the Shimon Arc in the manga, but I realize now that it can really be placed anywhere after the boys receive their Vongola Gear; even after the end of the series. Anyway, if no one has read past that arc in the manga, then it shouldn't really bother you too much, you just won't know what the Vongola Gear are, and I only like, mention it once at the beginning here, so it's no problem really lol.
Anyway, I hope you guys enjoy! There are no warnings for this story and it's rated T just to be safe. Besides that, I want to thank Ethelwyn and GStorm59 for helping me out with the editing process for this story =) I love you guys lots!
The Simplest Touch
He would remember that day until the day he died. The day that had started out so normally for him; waking up to the sunlight hitting his face, walking to school with the Tenth and the Baseball Idiot, getting another threat from another mafia family to destroy the Tenth Generation before they became initiated into the Vongola, the usual. It had become a basic part of his life at eighteen years of age; the normalcy of an average teenager mixed in with the mafia lifestyle, with constant threats from enemies as the initiation ceremony loomed ever closer in their final year of high school. But despite the normalcy in his regular routine that day, Gokudera would remember it for the rest of his life. That morning he had woken up to light, a promise of a dangerous but hopeful future, but the next time he woke up, it was to absolute darkness.
This just wasn't any sort of darkness. It wasn't the inky blackness of night, because that was usually accompanied by some form of light source, like street lights or the moon. No, this was pitch black, the epitome of darkness, quiet and eerie, and Gokudera couldn't stop the cold grip of fear that ran up his spine when he awoke to nothing, unable to see, and hearing no source of sound as he wondered where he was.
Immediately, the silver-haired teen came up with an idea on his whereabouts as his aching head reminisced on his latest memories before he had fallen unconscious. A new, strongly formed mafia family, the Giordano Family, had just entered town earlier on that week, and had sent threatening messages to the Tenth, stating that they would do the whole Tenth Generation in before the initiation ceremony in order to weaken the Vongola, the strongest mafia family in the world. After receiving the threat, and the pictures of the family from the main Vongola base, Reborn had ordered all of the Guardians to team up and take turns scouting the town for the members. In the end, Hibari wouldn't listen to Reborn, and would scout Namimori by himself, the Tenth didn't want Lambo to get involved, and forced him to stay home, and Mukuro and Chrome were sent to Italy in search of Verde, since he was behind the enemy family's new source of power. The news had spread that the lightning Arcobaleno had perfected the art of making box weapons, except now they were much stronger, because Verde had already had an idea of the weapons from his memories of the Millefiore future.
With the absence of the others, that only left the Tenth, Lawn Head, the Baseball Idiot, and himself to team up and scout the town, like Reborn had ordered. Naturally, Gokudera had wanted to pair himself up with his boss in order to prove himself, but Reborn had dismissed that idea, claiming that the Tenth and Lawn Head would pair up to strengthen their future 'brotherly' bonds (the Tenth was currently going out with Kyoko).
Once Gokudera had realized that his partner for the scouting mission would be Yamamoto, the persistent, baseball-loving, annoying idiot that brought forth so many random and confusing emotions within him, Gokudera would have none of it. He had ended up getting in a fight with the young athlete, a fight very reminiscent of their battle against Gamma. The silver-haired teen hated to admit that he was afraid that if they did find the members of the enemy family, that Yamamoto would perform better than him in defeating them (like he always tended too, since Gokudera didn't seem to win many fights), and the Tenth would change his mind about making him his right-hand man.
Not wanting to lose his position, and eager to prove to his boss that he was competent and strong, Gokudera ran off by himself, leaving an angered and bitter Yamamoto behind.
That, in the end, had been Gokudera's downfall.
The feisty Italian didn't remember seeing who it was, but half way into his scouting mission, an unbelievable pain shot up from the base of his skull, and he could feel himself falling. When he came to, darkness was the only visible thing he could see. So it was only natural to assume that the enemy had found him, attacked him, and had carried him off to be a hostage. That was the only thing that Gokudera could think of to explain his current predicament. Why else would the enemy, who had threatened to kill them all, leave him alive? The reason he couldn't see now was because he had been blindfolded in their hideout, right?
It was here that a new sense of dread overcame the usually fiery bomber, as he came to realize that he couldn't feel the aforementioned blindfold covering his eyes. In fact, Gokudera swore that his other senses had increased to make up for his lack of sight at the moment, whatever was causing it. Because of that, the Storm Guardian could distinctly feel a light and airy gown covering his body, a couple of needles sticking into his arms, the paper thin sheets of some form of blanket covering half of his body, and the hard mattress below him, his body being angled up slightly because of it. He could also smell the clean and sterile air that accompanied his current location, and taste how dry his mouth felt from its lack of use for however long he had been out. What the silver-haired teen was sensing at the moment, didn't add up with his previous assumption. He wasn't in some enemy's hideout; it felt like he was in a hospital!
But that couldn't be right! He should have been able to see the blinding white walls, or at least some form of neon light from the machines he was apparently hooked up to. Heck, he should have been able to hear the machines too! He knew hospitals were quiet, but they were never this quiet!
Just what the hell was going on?!
Before Gokudera had awoken and had tried to figure out his situation, his closest friends were sitting in the hospital room with him in the middle of their own discussion. Since they were in a Vongola-run hospital, Gokudera had received one of the biggest rooms because of his status. Because of that, large assortments of visitors were able to stand within the room. Tsuna and Kyoko sat nearest to their fallen friend, with Yamamoto sitting close by as well, a pained and angered expression marring his usual happy-go-lucky features. Ryohei stood behind Kyoko, Hana next to his shoulder. Bianchi sat across the room, her expression just as venomous as her cooking, with Haru sitting warily next to her, and Reborn sitting in the poisonous woman's lap. A now surprisingly tall Futa stood beside them, with an older looking Lambo and I-pin sitting on the floor, sad looks upon their faces. And to round off their little posse, Hibari stood outside the doorway, not caring too much to be within the crowded confines of the hospital room, but there nonetheless on account of the Baby calling for him to be there.
Currently, the group was in a discussion about their next course of action after hearing the dreaded diagnosis from the prestigious Vongola doctors just an hour prior.
At the reminder of what had befallen his best friend, Tsuna clenched his fists in his lap as he ground his teeth in frustration, anger burning in his chocolate-brown eyes.
"I don't care how strong these people are," the young mafia boss broke through the short silence that had accompanied their discussion. "I vow to find the people responsible for this!"
Unaccustomed to hearing anger and hatred in the smaller teen's voice, most of the people in the room flinched as Kyoko tried to console her ailing boyfriend by placing her hand on top one of his shaking fists. Ryohei and Yamamoto, on the other hand, bowed their heads in agreement to Tsuna's words as they felt their own sense of anger and injustice grow in them, the young boxer giving a grunt of acknowledgement to his boss's words, while Yamamoto stayed deathly silent, his head bowed so far down that no one could see his eyes. Still, that didn't stop anyone from noticing the deathly aura flowing out of the raven-haired teen's slouched figure.
Across the room, Reborn nodded with a solemn frown, feeling the vengeful aura of the others within the room.
"That's good, because the boss needs to exact punishment on those who hurt his Family," the little Arcobaleno murmured in his most serious, no-nonsense-filled tone. "After all, because of them, we lost one of our most capable Guardians."
The tension in the room skyrocketed at those words, the anger and vengeance in the room so potent that anyone could touch it.
"Don't say that, Reborn!" Tsuna exclaimed in his self-righteous anger, his eyes earnest and desperate. "Gokudera-kun can recover! He can—"
"Gokudera is blind, Tsuna," The baby Mafioso stated firmly back, his voice rising slightly in volume. "He's blind and deaf. You heard the doctors, and you can't deny what's in front of you. Gokudera suffered a blow to the back of his head, and now, because of that, he's become permanently handicapped. There is no way that he can be a Guardian anymore."
With that note of finality, the silence in the room returned and intensified to an unbearable degree. Every person in the room (so Hibari wasn't included), felt lost on what to do, and anguish for their friend's predicament. They all knew that as soon as Gokudera woke up, everything in his world would change, and definitely not for the better.
Reborn broke the uncomfortable silence with a tired sigh, not looking forward to trying to find a new Storm Guardian capable of taking Gokudera's place.
"The only course of action I can see for him now…" The fedora-wearing baby proclaimed as he thought over every possible scenario. "…is to send Gokudera back to Italy to his father's mansion. There, he will be able to receive the care and rehabilitation he needs in order to cope with his loss."
Before Tsuna could protest on sending Gokudera to a place he never wanted to set foot in again, Bianchi sent a silencing glare his way, agreeing with her tiny lover about her brother's future care. But before the idea could be finalized in either the Arcobaleno's, or the poisonous woman's mind, a new and unexpected voice spoke up in unwavering determination.
"No…I'll take care of him," Yamamoto spoke up from his slouched position in his seat next to the silver-haired teen's bed. In a flash, his head snapped up, and his hazel eyes met the cold black of Reborn's beseechingly.
"It's my fault that all of this happened!" The taller teen shouted with certainty, his voice filled with self-loathing and anguish. "If I hadn't just let Gokudera go off on his own, if I hadn't let my anger get to me, then none of this would have happened! The least I can do is help him…if only in some way…"
The occupants of the room could only watch, pity turning in their stomachs as they witnessed the usually bright and happy teen clench the arms of his chair in a painful grip while he lowered his face from view, the anger and pain he felt obvious from his shaking figure.
Before the Rain Guardian could wallow too long in his despair, a soft gasp emanated throughout the room, Haru's shocked voice reaching everyone's ears.
"Gokudera-san!" The springy, brown-haired girl exclaimed as she pointed across the room to the hospital bed.
All heads swiveled around in the direction that the girl was pointing to notice that their friend had awoken, his usually vibrant, and passionate eyes clouded over by a whitish film, subduing the beautiful jade orbs to a pale grey.
It broke everyone's heart to confirm with their very own eyes that the doctors had been correct. Gokudera could no longer see.
The group of friends could only watch on in silence, unsure of what to do as they witnessed the little bomber turn his head from side to side in confusion, a struggling expression marring his features. Gokudera's nimble piano fingers were hard at work, feeling everything within reach of his surroundings, the confusion on his face increasing as he eventually felt up to his face to make sure nothing was covering his eyes.
"…Why can't I see?"
Those words were spoken so softly, so fearfully, that it tugged at everyone's heart strings, and Haru and I-pin even began to cry on the other side of the room. What could the group say to comfort their ailing friend, when their words could never reach him again?
"W-Where am I?!" Gokudera called out, a tremble of terror entering his voice as his hands worked into overdrive, re-feeling every surface in order to answer his questions. "Is this a hospital? Why am I here?! Why does my head hurt?! Why can't I fucking see anything?!"
By this point most of the women in the room began to weep as the heart wrenching terror in the silver-haired teen's voice reached an all-time high, Gokudera's voice wavering in tearful frustration. Even the men in the room were finding it hard to compose themselves and stay strong as they watched on helplessly, not sure of what to do. That is, until Gokudera started thrashing in panic, ripping out the needles that hooked him up to his IV as he struggled to find a way out of the nightmarish darkness that had consumed his vision.
Seeing his best friend, and the person he secretly loved, twisting in fear, Yamamoto couldn't take sitting down anymore, and jumped to his feet. He had an idea that could possibly calm the other down. Before Gokudera could cause too much damage to himself, and his immediate surroundings, Yamamoto grabbed hold of the other's shoulders in a gentle but firm grip in order to steady him. As the hospitalized teen began to panic more, and brought his hands up to Yamamoto's, trying to pry the other's hands off as his eyes widened wildly at the touch of his unseen 'attacker', Yamamoto began administering rain flames. All too soon, whatever fight Gokudera had in him left as the blue flames engulfed his body, and slowed down his actions, putting him in a slightly calmer state of mind.
"Who…Who are you?" Gokudera whispered out in frustration and slight fear as he unconsciously peered directly up into Yamamoto's hazel orbs, his grip on the taller boy's wrists tightening as he struggled against the rain flames subduing him, still trying to push the other's hands off.
Yamamoto swore that his heart almost shriveled up and died as he stared down into his friend's sightless eyes, hating how the other's usually fiery, and expressive irises were dulled and pale. Of course, that didn't stop Gokudera's features from showing expression, since he was such an animated person; it's just that his expressions didn't have as much of an impact without the addition of his heated glare.
But that's not the only thing that got to Yamamoto, it was Gokudera's question. Not only did it hurt that the other couldn't recognize him (and Gokudera wasn't to blame for that, after all), but Yamamoto didn't know how to answer the other. Gokudera was deaf, so the only way he could communicate in the slightest sense to the other was through touch.
As soon as that thought entered his mind, an idea immediately sparked to life within the young athlete, realizing that there was a way through touch that could prove to the other of who he was. Not wanting to keep the other waiting for his answer any longer, Yamamoto removed his hands from the smaller teen's shoulders, and detached himself from the other's hold. Gokudera was relieved at the retreat of the raven-haired teen's touch for only a moment before that same touch grabbed hold of one of his hands, and placed it upon the necklace hanging from Yamamoto's neck, the young Italians' slim fingers coming into contact with the cold, metal surface of the emblem. Ever curious now, Gokudera took his time to trace the outline of the necklace and the symbols etched upon it, taking note of what felt like a sword with a dog-faced hilt.
The familiar feeling of the necklace immediately brought an image to the silver-haired teen's mind, thinking that he had an idea as to whom the sword shaped necklace belonged too. If he added the necklace he felt to the rain flames still coursing throughout his body, and the distinctive smell of sunshine and freshly dewed grass from his now oversensitive nose, there could only be one answer to his previous question as to who the person was.
"Y-Yamamoto?" The silver-haired teen spoke tentatively, his voice shaking in relief, but still holding a grip of fear as the smaller teen hoped that he wasn't wrong.
As Gokudera continued to let his hand rest upon the hanging necklace, Yamamoto brought his second hand up in response to the other's questioning tone, and placed his hand on top of Gokudera's. With a gentle squeeze to Gokudera's hand to confirm that the other was right in his assumption, Yamamoto waited patiently for the smaller teen to respond again, his heart aching with pity and regret.
Feeling the gentle squeeze to his hand, and taking it as a 'yes', by the taller teen's gesture, Gokudera's eyes furrowed in anger.
"If it's you then why the hell didn't you say so, Baseball Idiot?! I have ears you know!"
Yamamoto let out a shaky breath, trying to keep himself composed as he witnessed his friend deny what was obviously wrong with himself, steadfast in his belief that everything was fine.
It was then that the other present flame users in the room decided to help Yamamoto out by following his example. As the group approached the bed, and placed their hands upon the handicapped teen's arms and legs, they slowly emitted their own flames, hoping that the smaller teen would be able to discern who they were through them.
With each flame added to his person, Gokudera's confusion only grew more as he picked up who the others were. It wasn't too hard, considering the fact that if Yamamoto was there, it was only logical that the other Guardians would be there as well, but his sense of touch had become so sensitive by that point that he could identify the person just by the way they touched him as they administered their flames. He could feel his boss touch his shoulder, the other's sky flames starting out erratically in small spurts, because the Tenth had never quite gotten the hang of using his flames without the use of Dying Will Pills. He also knew that Lawn head was there, since the enthusiastic boxer had practically slapped his hand down onto his arm to administer his sun flames. Gokudera could only hope that the flames would heal the bruise that had undoubtedly formed from the rough impact of the dumb-ass boxer's hand. The silver-haired teen then felt a baby-like hand placed upon his other shoulder, with a constant stream of sun flames emanating from it. Knowing instinctively that the only person who that could be was Reborn-san, Gokudera's stomach almost twisted into sickening knots when he felt a feminine hand placed beside it, nauseatingly venomous-feeling storm flames entering his body soon afterwards. Glad that Reborn-san was using his sun flames to heal whatever dangerous and nauseating effect his sister's flames were naturally having on his body, Gokudera almost jumped in shock when he felt a strong electrical impulse attack his leg; the Stupid Cow had still not yet learned how to control the energy he put into his lightning flames.
Feeling the presence of his Famiglia surrounding him (minus Mukuro, Chrome, and Hibari, but he could really care less about them), Gokudera could feel his confusion, and his questions, escalate.
"Tenth…guys…" The silver-haired teen questioned on wavering breath, fearing the answer he would receive. "Why won't you guys say anything? Why can't I see you?!"
The young Italian's only answer was silence and darkness, and as Gokudera pinched himself repeatedly to make sure he wasn't dreaming, he finally realized what was going on. There was nothing covering his eyes to prevent him from seeing, there was nothing blocking his ears from hearing the slightest sounds, and he now knew that no matter how many times he pinched himself to wake up from this nightmare of a realization, he knew that this wasn't a dream, but reality.
Gokudera knew then that he was blind and deaf to the rest of the world.
As the tears from his epiphany began to fall, and as he threw off everyone's hands and covered his face with his own, screaming in agony at what had become of him, Gokudera knew that he could no longer be considered for the position of Storm Guardian, or as the right-hand man of the Vongola Tenth. Everything he had strove for in the past four years, from finding a place to belong, to doing his best to protect his Family, and being the best second in command beside Tsuna he could be, was all thrown out the window, discarded like useless trash in the face of his predicament. He could no longer be a part of the family he had worked hard to be good enough for, and had wanted from the young, innocent age of eight. He was useless now, a hindrance, and not worth keeping around in his handicapped state.
Gokudera would remember this day for the rest of his life, not only because of his inability to see and hear, but also because it was the day that he believed he had lost everything; his purpose, and his will to live.
The next couple of days were a complete blur to Gokudera Hayato. His sense of time was completely screwed up, due to the fact that he could no longer see sunlight or the numbers of a clock to aid him. Each painful day bled into the other, and with that, his existence seemed to bleed with it. Gokudera no longer wanted to be there, to continue to be weak and useless, but apparently, he had no say in the matter. His doctor and nurses continued to pump food into him via IV, and had even gone through the drastic process of strapping his hands to the bed, so that he wouldn't pull the needles out. Gokudera especially hated the fact that he constantly needed help to walk, to go to the bathroom, and even to bathe, the unfamiliar touch and guidance of the nurses making the silver-haired teen feel even more uncomfortable with his situation than he was before.
But despite those upsets, there was one thing that the smaller teen didn't mind. Through the constant strain of being in his own little world unable to see or hear, the constant inability to have a full-fledged conversation, and the constant poking and prodding of the heckling nurses as they checked him over and helped him with his basic functions, there was one constant that he didn't mind at all; and that was the presence of a certain baseball idiot. Gokudera wasn't sure if the taller teen had even left his side in the last couple of days, since he was always sitting nearby emanating rain flames to remind Gokudera of his presence, and to reassure and calm him. It amazed the young Italian how he could even tell it was Yamamoto, but he had learned in the last couple of unwanted days that through the many visits he had from everyone in the family, the people who emitted elemental flames actually had unique ways of exuding them. The flames themselves, even though there were only seven flames of the Sky, had their own unique signature for every person that used them, almost like a finger print, and the inner enthusiasm of the silver-haired teen (that had almost been smothered by his depression), sparked at this gain in knowledge.
With that, Gokudera was always able to tell who came to visit him, but that was only if they brought forth their flames, which was easier to discern from than the feeling of everyone's hands, because hand structure wasn't as unique. So, because of Yamamoto constantly exhausting himself to bring forth his rain flames, which Gokudera could identify because of their way of expelling a calming, friendly, and warm, loving attitude, the silver-haired teen knew that the other had barely left his side in the days that followed his hospitalization. But even though the other's constant presence touched him, bitterness accompanied that pleasant feeling as Gokudera wondered if the reason behind Yamamoto's decision to stay with him was because he felt partially responsible for what had happened to him.
Through the bitterness and frustration he felt, it got to the point that the silver-haired teen didn't care about why the other decided to stay with him in the end. He had gotten used to the other's presence, and liked the calming atmosphere the taller teen instilled in him as it rid the depression that had overtaken his life. After all, anyone would rather feel somewhat content than depressed and bitter all the time, and Gokudera had felt like he had enough of those last two emotions to last the rest of his life, since he had been feeling those two emotions for most of it anyway.
Eventually, though, because of Gokudera desperately feeding off of Yamamoto's rain flames in his quest to find some sort of meaning and purpose in his life (he had come to the conclusion that killing himself was a weak and stupid way to go), the nurses had deemed him stable enough to eat on his own. Although, much to the smaller teen's embarrassment, Yamamoto constantly offered to help him eat, because he couldn't see his food anymore.
Through the constant embarrassment, though, Gokudera had come to one simple conclusion when Yamamoto refused to leave his side, and that conclusion was that it felt nice to know that he wasn't being completely thrown away because of his uselessness. Even though he thought that Yamamoto was only staying beside him because he felt responsible, and that his other friends came to visit him out of pity, it was nice to know that they even bothered, and that they weren't throwing him away yet. But as long as their company was there, Gokudera felt like he could withstand his new found disability, if only up until the time they got sick of him and placed him in a disability home. Until that day happened, though, he would take whatever form of happiness he could get as he secretly cherished the moments he had left with the people he had come to consider his family.
So it was a complete surprise to Gokudera when Yamamoto accompanied him after his discharge from the hospital. At least, the silver-haired teen thought he was being discharged. One day they unhooked the IV from his arm, plopped him into a wheel chair (much to his chagrin), and Yamamoto started pushing it along. It was soon after this, that Gokudera could feel the warmth of sunshine on his skin after being held up within the hospital for a week, and smell the fresh air (well, as fresh as it could get with the smell of vehicle exhaust), clear and crisp to his senses. It was here that the smaller teen wondered if he had been discharged from the hospital, and if Yamamoto was transporting him to some sort of assisted living home.
Depression reared its ugly head again as that thought crossed the young Italian's mind. Was he finally going to be thrown away like he had feared? Was this the end for him? Gokudera certainly thought so, that is, until Yamamoto steered him into a familiar smelling room, the wheels on his chair bumping over the threshold, and indicating to the blind teenager that he had just entered a building of some kind. As the familiar scent of gunpowder, coffee, and cigarettes hit his nostrils, the silver-haired teen swiveled around in his chair to face the direction he could pick up the Baseball Idiot's flame signature from.
"Is…Is this my apartment?" Gokudera asked incredulously, his voice rough and raw from misuse.
The other's words were so unexpected that Yamamoto actually jumped, surprised that Gokudera had even spoken. He was so used to the smaller teen's silence now. After all, he couldn't exactly blame Gokudera for not talking when he couldn't hear a response in return. Usually, the only time that the silver-haired teen spoke was when he wanted something, like to eat or go to the bathroom, and usually then it was spoken quietly and unwillingly, Gokudera hating the fact that he needed help with those basic functions to begin with.
Seeing that the other was raising his eyebrow expectantly in his direction, Yamamoto actually responded to Gokudera's question by giving a quick squeeze to his shoulder, which had become their own way of confirming yes or no questions that arose. At the taller teen's affirmation, the confusion on Gokudera's face only increased, his features silently asking why Yamamoto had even bothered to bring him there when it was obvious that he couldn't functionally live by himself anymore. Of course, Yamamoto couldn't exactly answer the other's question, but he felt that since the Little Guy had actually given him a shot at taking care of Gokudera, that bringing the smaller teen back to a familiar setting would help progress his recuperation, and make it easier for the both of them.
Eventually, as the two teen's settled into their environment, Yamamoto helped Gokudera out of his wheel chair, and directed him towards the couch. As the smaller teen plopped down onto his worn, leather sofa, and as he felt the familiarity of the material beneath his palms, he couldn't suppress the small smile that made its way onto his lips. He was home.
Yamamoto smiled too in what felt like the first time in a long while. The hospital setting hadn't made anyone happy, and it really didn't help that Gokudera was depressed throughout the whole ordeal either, so Yamamoto hadn't found a reason to smile while he was there; not a true smile anyway. Seeing Gokudera smile, even though it was small and faint, was a true blessing considering the smaller teen's situation, and Yamamoto felt all the more thankful for it, knowing that it was the first sign to the road to whatever form of recovery Gokudera could get.
Two weeks passed by, and Gokudera wasn't any happier. He felt exactly the same from his time spent in the hospital, despite his more familiar surroundings. Sure, he was getting a better understanding of the layout of his apartment without the aid of his sight, and he could usually walk around by himself now without Yamamoto guiding him like a child. But that didn't change the fact that his useless self still needed help with the most basic of functions, and that fact would never change.
And Gokudera absolutely despised that.
He had to get help in putting on his clothes for one, and he could only hope that Yamamoto picked out something decent for him to wear (not like there wasn't anything bad to wear in his closet, but how could he trust the baseball idiot's fashion sense?), and that he didn't look completely retarded to everyone else. Gokudera still had problems eating too, even though he was getting better at figuring out how to do it by himself. But that wasn't the worst of it! The more embarrassing things he had to live with were needing help to walk to the bathroom, and knowing where everything was (he dreaded the times when he had to openly state that he had to go, and that Yamamoto was forced to help him), and then there was bathing. Yeah, the process of taking a freaking shower was dangerous for someone who had just recently become blind (yet again, he was getting better at it, and remembering where everything was placed), so the first few times he needed to shower, Yamamoto had to help him through the whole process. Sure, he had gone to public bathhouses and hot spring areas with the Baseball Idiot and the Tenth, and had felt comfortable being naked around them before, but this was entirely different! Yamamoto was close by at all times and helping him rinse down! The idiot was touching him all the time and it always produced this strangely warm and uncomfortable feeling wherever he touched, so it was very unsettling for Gokudera, to say the least. Of course, being the gentleman that he was, Yamamoto had noticed how uncomfortable Gokudera was at bathing together (literally), and had allowed the both of them to wear swim trunks whenever Gokudera had to bath, which helped, if only a little.
But even despite those things, there was another problem that absolutely bothered Gokudera (even though he was secretly thankful for it), and that was the fact that Yamamoto never seemed to leave; ever! The idiot would help him get ready for bed, and when Gokudera was lying down on his comfortable mattress, he could sense the other's presence from the living room, in the direction of his couch. Of course, the little bomber logically assumed that Yamamoto was sleeping on his couch because he didn't have a futon for guests (his apartment was too small), and also for the fact that the taller teen was always there when he woke up. The very thought bothered Gokudera. Why was the idiot insistent on taking care of him? He had even voiced this out, and stated to the young swordsman that he didn't have to help him anymore, and the only response he got was a pat on the shoulder as the taller boy continued to stay with him. Did Yamamoto feel so guilty for what had happened to him that he thought that he was responsible for him now? Did the idiot even want to be there?!
Despite his confusion, it did come as a big shock to him when Yamamoto finally did go missing from his silent, darkened world, of course, with no explanation. Gokudera just assumed that the other was busy with school and baseball practice. Before he did disappear on him, the raven-haired teen had wheeled him over to Takesushi, where Yamamoto Senior offered to look after him while he minded the shop (Gokudera of course, assumed this also, since he could sense an older rain flame signature, and smell fish, vinegar, and wasabi). During this time, the silver-haired bomber occupied his time with trying to teach himself how to read braille. He was proud to admit that he actually had a good grasp of braille with no one there to help him, his ample brain able to figure out the intrinsic code with only slight difficulty.
When Tsuyoshi was too busy to adequately 'look after him' (Gokudera despised that phrase with a passion now), the Tenth's mother would take her share of the duties (which Gokudera wasn't too fond of, despite liking the Tenth's mother, because Bianchi always tried to butt in and help. And really, there was nothing worse than being blind and deaf when your psychotic sister was around). After school, when things got too busy for the adults, even Kyoko and Haru decided to pitch in and help look after him, and truth be told, Gokudera felt absolutely uncomfortable with all of them (except for Tsuyoshi, since he was a man, and pretty cool too).
Gokudera never thought he would actually start to miss Yamamoto's presence. Everything was just so much easier when the taller teen was around. Of course, Gokudera didn't know or understand why that was, and he of course thought that the only reason he missed the other was because he had gotten used to the other's calming rain flames. Without those flames, Gokudera just felt on edge at all times, because of his disabilities. Yamamoto had always made sure he could sense him before he touched him in anyway, and the other's flame aura was probably the most calming he had ever felt, even after being around Tsuyoshi, Basil, definitely Squalo, and hell, even his own rain flames! There was just something about Yamamoto's presence that just put him at ease, and Gokudera surmised that that was the only reason why he was missing the other now.
During this time, the silver-haired teen had also realized that the Tenth wasn't coming to see him as much anymore either. Gokudera wondered if it was because of school, too, but then he remembered the Giordano Family was probably still around (for all he knew anyway. Or maybe they had been defeated?), and that the inheritance ceremony was drawing closer, so there would obviously be more threats to the Family. Everyone was so busy that he couldn't blame them for discarding him to the side. After all, it wasn't like he was of any use to them. Heck, the Tenth was probably also busy with trying to find his replacement, too.
And with that thought, Gokudera had never felt as lonely as he did in that very moment. He had lived a good portion of his life on the streets, unwanted by everyone he came into contact with, but nothing felt worse than actually gaining a family, people he could trust, and having them throw him away. He knew it was going to happen eventually, but that didn't stop the pain he felt when it actually happened.
At least, that was what he had thought, until Yamamoto and the Tenth actually showed up again, and helped him walk back to his apartment. Gokudera was getting so sick of being pushed around in that wheelchair, that he had asked for a white cane; even though it made him feel like an old man. He couldn't complain too much since he actually had something to hit people with if they pissed him off (he had used it thoroughly on the Stupid Cow during his stay at the Sawada residence), or if he just felt like hitting something (which happened practically all the time now).
Anyway, Gokudera was so shocked by the reappearance of his two best-friends that he didn't know what to feel as they helped him home. If he was back in his apartment, did that mean that Yamamoto was going to take care of him again? Was everything alright with the Family? Wasn't he being thrown away?! With all those highly emotional questions, Gokudera couldn't stop the tears of gratitude he felt for his friends being beside him again, even if he wanted too. Those tears only flowed more once he asked them why they had left in the first place, and the only response he got in return was the feeling of two different sets of arms wrapping around him in a group-like hug. Having already thrown most of his pride out the window by that point on account of his disabilities and the loneliness he felt, Gokudera didn't hesitate in hugging the both of them back.
He'd be damned if he ever let them leave him again.
By this point in time, Gokudera was completely sick of being out of the loop and not knowing what the hell was going on around him, and his friends. In a desperate attempt to find a way of communicating with his friends (and by communication, he meant being able to understand what his friends were saying to him, since he had no problems with being able to talk), the ex-Storm Guardian brainstormed one night, and was able to come up with a solution. Enthusiastic to try out his idea, he discussed his course of action with Yamamoto the next morning.
Yamamoto was only too happy and excited about the idea, once he had heard it out. The taller teen was desperate to be able to talk to his precious bomber in any way he could.
The idea itself was actually a pretty simple one, once Yamamoto thought it over (in fact, he was a little disappointed with himself for not coming up with it as well, and sooner, for that matter). Gokudera had surmised that since he had a pretty good photographic memory, that Yamamoto would be able to trace out kanji, symbols, and letters into his palm as his way of communication, and that he would be able to figure out what the taller teen was trying to say to him. Because of that, the smaller teen had even stated that Yamamoto could do other things, like touching certain parts of his body, like his arm for example, in order to help get his message across, and had even decided then that the other could answer 'yes' and 'no' by squeezing his hand (like Yamamoto had been squeezing his shoulder beforehand), and by lightly tapping the back of his hand, like a parent would do to lightly scold their child (Gokudera felt it was a bit demeaning for him, but it was quicker than tracing out 'no' onto his palm).
With a desperation equal to Gokudera's desire to hold a conversation, Yamamoto delved deeper into his study of kanji symbols and there meanings, because he wasn't the greatest with it. He knew those symbols would be easier and quicker for Gokudera to understand than for him to try and trace out words in hiragana, or even katakana. After many full days of studying, and trying out the new way of conversing with the silver-haired Italian, the two teen's had gotten used to the new language they had created, spending hours of their time trying out new symbols along with the kanji.
Gokudera was, for once, thoroughly enjoying himself for the first time since his accident. In truth, this new language was like a game to him, the smaller teen trying to form a picture from the strokes of Yamamoto's pointer finger as it gently traced across his open palm. Each touch sent ripples of excitement down the smaller teen's spine, pleasant warmth twisting in his gut, as he eagerly tried to figure out what the other was trying to say to him.
For the most part, Yamamoto was the only one who was able to talk in this special language to Gokudera, since he was the one that was always around to care for him, and because they had already decided the meanings on what symbols or actions the other did in association with specific terms or ideas (like when Yamamoto repeatedly traced multiple English letter z's into Gokudera's hand to symbolize it was time for bed). The Tenth, and his other temporary caretakers, like Tsuyoshi and the girls, were also taught to use this language, too, but it was a slow learning process for them, and Gokudera could tell the uncertainty they had in the language as they shakily tried to trace the right symbols into his palm. Gokudera was almost uncomfortable with it (but he was glad that he was able to somewhat talk to the others); their way of communicating with him was so different from Yamamoto's. The taller teen had never been hesitant with the strokes of his finger, even when they had first started trying the new language out. It was like the other was so eager to learn and to talk with him, that nervousness didn't even cross his mind. That thought would always make Gokudera feel this weird, somewhat uncomfortable, flutter in his chest that he couldn't quite understand. All he knew was that even though the feeling was weird, it wasn't entirely unpleasant.
It was also through the use of this language that Gokudera was finally able to get the answers he wanted. He had learned, through some very interesting use of symbols and actions from Yamamoto, that the time that he and the Tenth had disappeared was not only because of school, but because they had finally found a lead to the whereabouts of the enemy family's hideout (The Giordano were the ones who had hurt Gokudera), and had gone to investigate. They had made their base in a neighboring city, so it had taken a couple of days there to find the location of the base, and try to discourage the family from attacking the Vongola ever again. Sadly, the main members of the family weren't in the base at the time, and had left all of their subordinates behind as a trap to lure the Guardians in and defeat them. Even though the Vongola Guardians were hurt in the struggle, they emerged victorious, but bitter that the main members of the family were still out there somewhere, and still plotting to strike them down.
Though the news on the Giordano Family wasn't a happy one, Gokudera was still secretly relieved that none of the other members of his Family had been hurt as badly as he was during their fight. At the reminder of the Family and his situation, Gokudera couldn't resist asking Yamamoto then why he had decided to take care of him in the first place, and if it was because he felt responsible for what had happened.
The silver-haired teen would never forget Yamamoto's answer.
The translation of the other's symbols went something like this: 'I feel partly responsible, but I wanted to help you because you're my friend, not because I felt I had to. I didn't want our friendship to fade because of this incident, because I like being beside you.' Or, that was the most accurate translation of the jumble of symbols and actions Yamamoto traced and acted out on him. Whatever way he decided to translate it, Gokudera understood the feelings that Yamamoto was trying to share with him as the taller teen gripped his shoulder, and squeezed both it and his hand to establish how strongly he felt for his words. Of course, Gokudera had already figured that out just by feeling the other trace across his palm earlier, the strokes of the other's finger slow and precise, the taller teen taking his time to make sure that Gokudera understood what he was saying.
With the knowledge of why the other was staying with him now, Gokudera couldn't repress the small, soft smile that grew across his lips. No words could describe how happy he felt with the knowledge that Yamamoto wasn't staying by his side out of pity, but because he had actually wanted too.
For the first time since his accident, and even for the first time that he could ever remember, Gokudera felt grateful to have Yamamoto's friendship.
As the days continued to come and go, Yamamoto's prowess with the new language continued to grow as well. It got to the point that even Gokudera couldn't resist giving him a compliment.
"Che, not bad, Baseball Idiot. You've improved in your kanji. It was harder trying to understand you before." The silver-haired teen grunted out almost unwillingly, unable to contain the note of approval in his voice.
Yamamoto was surprised by the compliment to say the least, and couldn't resist sharing the happiness he felt with his secret crush by taking the other's hand in his once again, and turning it so Gokudera's palm was facing up. With his other hand, Yamamoto brought his pointer finger down, and traced two equally separated vertical lines with an elongated u-shaped line below them.
Gokudera was puzzled at the new symbol for a moment before realization finally dawned on him.
"…Did you just draw a freaking smiley face into my hand?!" The young Italian exclaimed incredulously, and when he felt a rather hard squeeze to the hand that Yamamoto was holding in confirmation, Gokudera couldn't help but slap the taller teen's shoulder with surprising accuracy in response.
"I bet you're laughing like an idiot now, aren't you?" Gokudera asked with amusement in his tone, a light chuckle escaping him.
In truth, Yamamoto had been laughing and his laughter only increased as he felt Gokudera slap playfully at his shoulder. The taller teen couldn't resist drawing some English letters into the smaller teen's awaiting palm then; a capital 'X' and 'D' placed beside each other for the smaller teen to decipher.
Gokudera wasn't too surprised at Yamamoto using text emotion-cons to get his feelings across, but even he couldn't stop the bought of laughter that overcame him at the other's silliness. That was the first time that Yamamoto saw Gokudera laugh after he had become disabled.
He swore it was one of the most beautiful things he had ever seen.
Of course, their silly antics continued as Gokudera found himself a month and a half into his new life of silence and darkness, the smaller teen finding himself becoming quite mischievous despite his disabilities. He would always plot pranks to pull on some of the other members of the Family with Yamamoto (the taller teen having to change some of them if they became too dangerous, especially towards Lambo and Ryohei), the young athlete enthusiastically going along with most of the plans in order to see Gokudera smile and laugh, if only for a little bit.
One of those days, Bianchi had called Yamamoto's cellphone, stating that she hadn't had a chance to properly take care of her little brother yet, and that she was coming over to do just that. After the poisonous woman hung up, Yamamoto quickly translated the message to Gokudera by writing the capital letter B (Gokudera had come up with a letter and number system to indicate people's names, since it was faster and easier than writing them out in kanji; he was quite proud of it), using his pointer and middle finger to walk across the top of the smaller teen's palm, and then ending the message by jabbing his pointer finger into the center of the other's hand. Gokudera immediately understood.
Bianchi was coming over to his house!
Not at all wanting to be in his house with his sister alone (she would definitely throw Yamamoto out), the silver-haired teen quickly came up with a plan of escape, which consisted of Yamamoto running as far away from the apartment as possible while carrying Gokudera on his back. That way, they could cover more ground instead of Gokudera having to blindly prod his way along with his white cane, and lose valuable time.
As he felt the taller teen heed his words, and pick him up piggy-back style, adrenaline rushed through Gokudera's veins at their rebellious actions, a gust of wind blowing through his hair when Yamamoto started running with him as they left his apartment. The young Italian didn't know how long that Yamamoto ran with him, nor did he care about how any passersby were probably looking at them strangely, all he could care about in that moment was how his mood lightened after having escaped the clutches of his deranged sister. He could feel Yamamoto's muscles move below him as the taller teen lightly jogged their way through the streets of Namimori, Gokudera picking up the scent of vehicle exhaust and flowers (quite a strange combination) as they passed by businesses and residential homes. The silver-haired teen could feel every intake of breath, every beat of the young athlete's heart as Yamamoto held him against his back, knowing that the other was finding enjoyment out of this because of his steady breathing, and the occasional vibration of laughter he felt with his arms wrapped around the other's neck.
When the high from their escape dwindled, Gokudera found himself resting his chin on his companion's shoulder, relaxing in this new sense of freedom he felt as the light wind from their run blew through his hair, a content smile on his face. Gokudera couldn't feel it, but he had an inkling that Yamamoto was smiling too.
When Yamamoto had slowed down to a walk, Gokudera could distinctly make out the smell of flowers and grass, wondering where the taller teen had taken them in their great escape. All too soon, the silver-haired teen could feel the other lower him onto a hard surface, and when Gokudera felt the texture of the seat he was sitting on, he found the surface to be made of wood. Figuring out that he was now seated upon a bench, and therefore, probably in a park, a saddened expression came to the smaller teen's face as he reminisced on his time spent within the many parks of Namimori. Whenever he was bored, he would go to a park and talk to the pigeons sometimes, or fiddle around on a swing set when there weren't any little kids around.
As Gokudera felt Yamamoto sit down beside him, he couldn't help but ask about what their surroundings looked like, wanting to be able to picture the scenery he was missing. He noticed how Yamamoto paused after his request, his rain flame signature wavering a bit in either shock or maybe sadness (it was hard to read emotions from flames). Either way, when Yamamoto took his hand with a steady grip, and started to slowly describe the park's surroundings to him, Gokudera couldn't suppress the sad smile that spread across his lips. The young Italian could just imagine what Yamamoto was describing to him, having frequented this particular park many times.
"It sounds beautiful…" Gokudera mumbled out quietly, a wishful tone entering his voice as a wistful expression crossed his face.
With a steady gaze, Yamamoto took in his companion's expression, his hazel eyes peering into Gokudera's pale, sightless ones. With the sun shining down upon the other, setting his porcelain skin aglow, his silver locks glimmering and framing his sad and contemplative face, Yamamoto couldn't help but agree with the other's statement, if only for entirely different reasons. This last month and a half had been the most horrible, and the most wonderful, experience he had ever had in his entire life. Even though the circumstances were downright depressing, Yamamoto loved the time he got to spend with Gokudera, taking care of him, and living with him. It was almost everything he had ever dreamed of; being able to be beside his secret crush, and making him smile. But because of that, Yamamoto wasn't sure if he would be able to keep his cool for much longer. Gokudera was so beautiful, so tempting in every possible way, even with his disabilities, that the raven-haired teen was on edge the whole time, wanting to touch the other in more than just a friendly way, to try and get his innermost feelings across to the other.
It was probably because of those thoughts, and the gorgeous image in front of him, that Yamamoto didn't realize that his free hand had come up of its own accord to stroke lovingly against Gokudera's cheek. At the heated, foreign touch, Gokudera reeled back in shock, the smaller teen so startled that he fell off of the edge of the bench. Yamamoto was immediately broken out of the moment he had unconsciously made, because of the other's reaction. As he jumped from his seat, and ran over to his fallen friend, regret soon entered the taller teen's mind as he saw how scared Gokudera looked.
"W-What the h-hell?!" The silver-haired teen exclaimed as he glanced around blindly, his cheeks feeling heated from the other's touch. It seemed that with Yamamoto's shock, he had stopped emanating his rain flames, and hadn't returned to producing them again. Because of that, Gokudera couldn't tell where Yamamoto was now.
Seeing the fear and confusion overcome the smaller teen's features, the regret that Yamamoto felt only escalated as he berated himself for his stupidity. Why did he have to do that?! Desperate to apologize to the other, and trying to explain himself, Yamamoto reached out and grabbed Gokudera's hand. Not expecting to feel the sudden touch, since Yamamoto was still not using his rain flames, Gokudera swatted the other's hand away, his eyes widening in fear, wondering where his attacker suddenly was.
"Gokudera, it's just me!" Yamamoto pleaded unknowingly out loud as he tried to grab the other's hand again to explain, but this time, while using his rain flames to try and calm the other down.
Sensing through his fear that Yamamoto was the one next to him now, Gokudera still swatted the other's hand away from his own, the taller teen's searing touch too much for the smaller teen to handle. An enormous blush erupted onto the silver-haired teen's cheeks, and as he could feel his face become heated, the confusion and fear that Gokudera felt only increased as he wondered why he was reacting this way to someone that he thought of as his friend.
"Don't! Just…don't touch me…please…" Gokudera pleaded to Yamamoto beside him as his hands came up to grip his silver hair between his fingers, the smaller teen scrunching up his face in anger and confusion. Just what the hell was wrong with him?! Why…Why did he like the way that Yamamoto had touched him?
Gokudera wasn't conscious of the pain and hurt he was putting Yamamoto through in that moment with his request. The taller teen could only stare down at his friend in silent apology as he kneeled beside him, knowing that he had been rejected to the point of Gokudera refusing to let him apologize. Yamamoto absolutely hated himself in that moment for having screwed up his chance to help Gokudera and be beside him, and he probably just messed up their friendship as well. Having a feeling that he was no longer wanted, or needed for that matter, the broken-hearted athlete took out his cell phone and called Tsuna to come and pick Gokudera up, in order to watch over him. Yamamoto could tell that Tsuna knew that something was wrong the moment the other teen answered his phone, it was obvious from the concern in the spiky-haired boy's voice, but the taller teen knew that he hadn't exactly tried to mask the hurt and self-hatred he felt for himself from his friend either.
When Tsuna arrived at the park, he was quick to witness that Yamamoto was sitting upon a bench, a worn and heart-wrenching expression on his face, and that Gokudera was sitting nearby in the grass, his arms wrapped around his legs, and his face buried into his knees. Startled by the image he was seeing, Tsuna was quick to run over to Yamamoto, and question him on what had happened. To the young mafia boss's disappointment, Yamamoto didn't answer him directly. His taller friend just kept his eyes averted away from his, and mentioned that he had done something stupid to make Gokudera feel uncomfortable with him, and that he didn't want to make things any more awkward between them. With that, Yamamoto stood from his spot on the bench, asked Tsuna to take care of Gokudera, and left; his gait slow with his shoulders and head slumped in despair. Despite his deepest desire to run over to Yamamoto, and demand to know what had truly transpired between him and his feisty friend, Tsuna knew that if Gokudera was feeling uncomfortable now, that it was best to get his friend home and calmed down.
As Tsuna called his mom to inform her that he would be staying over at Gokudera's apartment for the next couple of days (he thought it would help make Gokudera feel more comfortable than forcing him to come to his house where an angry Bianchi awaited), he went over to his ailing friend and gently took hold of his arm. The silver-haired teen was surprised for only a moment until he registered who it was that had latched onto him. As Gokudera bowed his head in shame when he felt his boss start to lead him somewhere, he could only wonder on the previous moment he had with Yamamoto. He was so preoccupied with his thoughts that he didn't even realize that Yamamoto had left until Tsuna was directing him back into his apartment. Gokudera's confusion only increased as he realized the sudden, dull ache he felt at the loss of the taller teen's presence.
Just what was going on with him? Why did he feel this way?
When another week and a half passed and there was still no sign of Yamamoto's return, Gokudera thought he was going to go insane. He had no problems with his beloved Tenth, he really didn't! It was just…actually, he didn't know why he was constantly wishing to feel the taller teen's presence. All Gokudera knew was that Yamamoto was far better at communicating with him than any of his other friends and…well…the silver-haired teen was embarrassed to acknowledge that he actually was beginning to miss Yamamoto's touches.
Gokudera could feel himself flush a deep crimson at his current thought process, wondering why everything had come to this. For the past couple of days, the longing that he had felt in Yamamoto's absence would steadily grow until the young ex-bomber didn't know what to do with himself. He missed the other's food (even though the Tenth would bring over his mother's delicious cooking, since he didn't know how to cook himself), he missed the other's confident way of talking to him, the gentle stroke of his finger against his palm, the way he rubbed his back when they would bathe—and holy shit! What? What?!
The young and confused Italian grabbed at his hair in shock at his last thought. This wasn't normal. Thoughts like that weren't normal between two boys, and damn it, they had been happening ever since Yamamoto had left him! Of course, he understood why Yamamoto had left after…after what happened between them in the park, but Gokudera admitted to being too shocked under the circumstances to think straight. Hell, he could hardly think straight now! He was thinking of Yamamoto in a completely different light, and he actually didn't have a problem with it! He actually wanted to feel that same touch again, the heated, scorching, delicate touch he had felt from the other in the park. Gokudera almost craved for it!
When had his feelings for his taller companion changed? Had he always felt like this, but just never realized that what he felt was more than just friendship for the other? Gokudera knew that Yamamoto had always been able to bring out such strong emotions in him, but he had always associated those feelings with extreme irritation, anger, and maybe jealousy.
And why the hell didn't he have a problem with this?! A male shouldn't be attracted to another male! It went against the laws of nature and society for fucking sake! Why did he have to feel this way?! He had a problem that he didn't have a problem with this scenario! Agh!
The silver-haired teen sighed in his own defeat, exhaustion overcoming him as he slumped on his living room couch. That was actually another constant issue for him the last week and a half, besides his thoughts on Yamamoto. Gokudera had been feeling exhausted to the point that he was sleeping most of the time now, much like a lazy cat. Not only that, he was eating less, too, and hardly had the appetite for anything. It was getting to the point that the young Italian thought that he might actually be getting depressed over Yamamoto's absence.
He knew that he couldn't go on with this. It wasn't healthy. Despite his pride demanding him to hold his ground and go on with his life, Gokudera was sick of feeling weak and tired all of the time, and if that was because of Yamamoto's lack of presence, then he would just have to change that. He actually thought that he would go crazy soon if he didn't talk to his taller companion, and set things straight between them. After all, he could tell from the other's touch during their time in the park that Yamamoto probably felt the same way as he did…maybe…hopefully.
With another sigh, Gokudera resolved his determination, and promised himself that he would ask the Tenth to call Yamamoto over, so that they could talk. He just needed to wait for his boss to arrive back from his house, since the spiky-haired boy had left with the purpose of receiving food from his mother in order to share with him once again.
But sadly, the next flame signature he felt wasn't the awkward sky flames of his boss.
Gokudera stiffened in his seat as he felt the presence of many different elemental flames. From storm to cloud, he could feel the whereabouts of six different flame signatures he had never felt before, all of them emanating a dangerous, foreboding aura. The silver-haired teen tensed even more as he felt some of those signatures make their way closer to him, the other flame signatures becoming stronger, and angered, as the smaller teen sensed the presence of the Tenth then, the spiky-haired boy's flames starting off like their usual awkward spurts, but then skyrocketing into an almost overwhelming strength. Was the Tenth in Dying Will Mode? Was he fighting?! What was going on?!
Before Gokudera could think more on this surprising turn of events, he felt two separate sets of hands roughly grab his arms, and unceremoniously haul him to his feet. Feeling the violent touch, Gokudera immediately began to try and throw his attackers off, not entirely sure what he would do once he gained his freedom back. But before the blinded ex-Storm Guardian could think up a plan of action to fit his circumstances, he felt an intense pressure hit him at the base of his neck, his eyelids becoming heavy as he then lost control of his body.
With that, Gokudera fell into the deeper darkness of unconsciousness.
When Gokudera opened his eyes again, everything was silent and dark, just like he had come to expect his world to be. But when the memories of the last moment he had been awake came back to him, the silver-haired teen jolted up into a sitting position. He had been captured! And from what he could tell, the people who captured him must have been the main members of the Giordano Family (the Tenth never told him about any other mafia family attacks, but then again, he really didn't have the right to know anymore). But as the young Italian felt around his surroundings, feeling the light gown that adorned him, along with the needles sticking into his arms, and the upright angled bed he was on, he began to wonder if he actually was in the enemy family's hideout.
It was here that Gokudera could sense the elemental flames in his presence, immediately recognizing the awkward sky flames of his boss, the extremely eager sun flames of Lawn Head, the mature, and powerful sun flames of Reborn-san, the sparking, mischievous lightning flames of the Stupid Cow, the innocent, and mysteriously creepy mist flames of Chrome and Mukuro, and even the anti-social cloud flames of solitude that were usually emanating from Hibari were there in the room with him. But the flames that were mainly receiving the silver-haired teen's attention were the soothing, friendly rain flames that were located nearest to him.
"Y-Yamamoto? Guys?" Gokudera whispered out almost disbelievingly. Just what was going on? He could have sworn he had been captured by the enemy!
The only response he received was Yamamoto grabbing his hand gently within his big calloused grip, and turning it over so that the smaller teen's palm was facing up. Gokudera stiffened at the touch, not out of fear or awkwardness, but in anticipation, a light shudder traveling down the young Italian's spine as he felt the one thing he had been longing for, for the past week and a half. When the Rain Guardian's finger began tracing out the letters and symbols that Gokudera had become accustomed too, telling the other he would explain everything that had transpired, and why he was in the hospital, the silver-haired teen could feel his exhaustion come back to him in full force. As he lay back down upon his hospital bed, he struggled to stay awake as he felt Yamamoto begin his explanation, the taller teen's finger delicately tracing his way across the smaller teen's palm as if it was a fragile object, ready to break at any moment.
From there, Gokudera learned everything that had transpired within the moment he had become unconscious. A day ago, the enemy Family had arrived at his apartment. They had planned to kidnap him when the Tenth went out to get their food. Even though the Tenth had sensed them half way to his destination, and had come back to fight off the enemy, the other family had succeeded in capturing Gokudera. The Giordano had actually been planning that very scenario from the beginning.
When Gokudera questioned how Yamamoto knew this, the taller teen explained that one of the main family members from the Giordano Family had squealed the plan out when the Vongola Guardians went to take their friend back from them. It had been a tough, and almost deadly, fight, but the Vongola Guardians left victorious with medium to minor injuries.
Despite his concern for his friends' wellbeing's (which he would only admit to being concerned for the Tenth), Gokudera listened to the rest of the explanation, his sense of dread increasing with every word he was able to discern from Yamamoto's symbols.
Apparently, the enemy Family had planned on handicapping the Vongola Tenth's right-hand man, in order to severely weaken their Family, and to use the Storm Guardian later on as a hostage. In order to do that, they used a new, powerful box weapon (which the Vongola Family had learned about from the enemy and upon Mukuro and Chromes' return from finding Verde).
The box weapon was a powerful mist type, the Mist Leech, which was used to attack the senses of the enemy by burrowing into the base of their skull. From there, the leech would be in constant effect as it sucked in the life energy of its host's flames, and converted them into powerful mist flames that could only be detected by very strong illusionists. That way, it could hide its presence from its host, and the majority of the outside world. By doing that, the leech would be able to handicap its prey by attacking any one, or even multiple, senses of its host with mist flames to make its host believe that it was handicapped in some way. Then the leech would slowly suck the life out of its host until they could no longer support themselves.
Because of the Mist Leech's special powers, the enemy family planned on using the box on Gokudera. Then they would capture him as a hostage later on when the leech was close to killing him. From there, they would use Gokudera to make demands from the Vongola Family. When they got what they needed, they would hand Gokudera back over, only for him to die in the Vongola's hands. Then the Giordano would attack the weakened and grieving Vongola Family, in order to kill them off in what they hoped would be an easier battle. Thankfully, the Guardian's didn't let that happen, and had overpowered the Giordano.
When Yamamoto ended his explanation, Gokudera was shocked into silence, his mind reeling from all the information. The last couple months of his life had been a complete and total lie! Not only was he not truly blind and deaf, but he had been used the entire time by the enemy!
The anger that overcame the young Italian in that moment was almost overpowering. He had been used! He had suffered the past couple of months, feeling completely and utterly useless, only to be used by the enemy in order to weaken, and hopefully destroy his own Family! And not only that, he was also slowly dying! His blindness and deafness were only an illusion created by a fucking leech that was sucking the very life out of him, and the only reason why the doctors and his friends hadn't noticed that was happening to him was because they weren't strong enough to sense the powerful mist flames the leech was producing, and also because the only people who could sense it (Mukuro and Chrome), had been sent away to find Verde before any of this ever happened! Wasn't that just awesome?! No wonder he had been feeling tired the last week and a half! He wasn't depressed; he was dying! That was just fucking great!
Gokudera could feel the tears of frustration as they threatened to fall from his fake, blind eyes while he lay upon his hospital bed, despising everything that had happened to him, and hating the fact that because of his inability to defend himself beforehand, he had almost caused the destruction of his Family, his friends. Why had he let himself open to the enemy's attack in the first place?! He was so stupid!
Even through his despair, Gokudera could feel how Yamamoto's grip tightened around his hand, the taller teen's finger shaking with sadness as he told the silver-haired teen some more information that he needed to know. As the young Italian discerned the other's explanation, he learned that he was indeed close to the point where the leech would kill him (it would take another day or two), and that the only way to save him was through a risky surgery where the Vongola doctors would have to take the leech out from the base of his skull. There was a good chance that he wouldn't survive because of the surgery itself, and because the leech could decide to kill the host then and there if it felt threatened enough.
Despite the initial fear he felt, Gokudera told everyone within the room that he was willing to go through with the surgery. If he could survive it, then he would be able to see and hear again hopefully, if the leech hadn't permanently damaged anything. In the end, it would be worth it; another chance at life, and also being the right-hand man of the Vongola Tenth once again.
As the silver-haired teen felt the presence of the Guardians pull away as they exited the room to retrieve the surgeons, Gokudera held fast onto Yamamoto's retreating arm, asking the taller teen to stay for a moment. He would be damned if he didn't set things straight between them before he had his life altering surgery!
"Wait, Baseball Idiot! If this is going to be my last moment alive, we need to talk!" The silver-haired teen exclaimed through his exhaustion as he continued to lie upon his hospital bed. "A-Actually…I want to ask a favor of you, too."
Gokudera could feel a blush overtake his features at his words and as he felt the other trace questioningly into his palm, stating that he would listen and do anything that Gokudera asked of him.
The silver-haired teen just swallowed thickly before he averted his eyes away out of embarrassment.
"Look," The smaller teen started out hesitantly as he struggled to say the words that were on his mind; his pride be damned! "Um…I just wanted to say that I'm…sorry. You know, for reacting the way I did back in the park. I was just startled and confused, that's all."
As he felt the taller teen begin to trace frantically into his palm with his own apologies, Gokudera quickly took his hand away from the other's grasp.
"Just let me finish! Ok, Idiot? I…we don't have much time." Gokudera stuttered out in his embarrassment, feeling touched that Yamamoto was so desperate to make things right between them. "This past week has been hellish for me, not just because I've apparently been dying, but because I came to realize that I…I can't i-imagine living a life w-without you in it."
Gokudera felt like his whole face was enflamed from all the blood that was rushing to his head. He couldn't believe the things he was saying, but if this was his last moment alive then he didn't want to leave this world with any regrets. Heck, for all he knew, he was going to die of embarrassment instead of the stupid leech attacking his brain (which, by the way, the very thought of was beginning to creep him out).
"I hadn't realized these feelings until you…you know, with the thing you did in the park!" Gokudera continued his explanation in all his flustered glory. "This last week got me thinking about how you made me feel these past couple of months when you had been taking care of me. And I came to realize that these feelings that I had gained had always been there; around the time that I allowed myself to become…friends with you. But even before then, you had always been able to bring out so many emotions in me, more so than anyone else I had ever met. And that only increased after I had lost my sight and hearing. I felt like I didn't even exist in this world anymore! I felt lost, and unsure, and so weak and stupid, that I utterly hated it! I didn't want to live! But that all changed when I realized that you were staying beside me. I felt wanted and grateful, and all those stupid happy emotions that you always make me feel. In a time that I felt like I was actually dead, you made me feel alive…"
Yamamoto didn't know what to do, or what to think as he felt Gokudera grab for his hand, gripping the large appendage in his small, pale hand far harder than what would have been expected from a dying man. The raven-haired teen felt so overcome by the jumble of emotions he felt at that moment as Gokudera finally peered up into his eyes, like he was able to tell exactly were Yamamoto was facing, despite his blindness.
"I…I just want to thank you, for making this hell I lived in for the past two months bearable for me." Gokudera finally whispered out, his pale, cloudy eyes beseeching his taller comrade to do something that the taller teen couldn't begin to fathom. "And…if this is the last time that we're together, I…I don't want you to hold back. If you feel anything for me, then I want to feel it too. If I am to die then I want to feel more alive than ever before, and I think…no, I know that you are the only person who can make me feel that way."
Yamamoto could feel the tears he had been struggling to keep back finally begin their descent as he listened to Gokudera's dying plea. The raven-haired teen had just gotten the confession from the other he had always wanted, one that he had never expected to come from his beloved Italian's mouth, but only for the moment they were now sharing to be possibly their last. Life just wasn't fair!
But despite his anger towards the world for wanting to make his beloved suffer, and for wanting to take Gokudera away from him, Yamamoto couldn't deny the other's request, for it was something that he had always wanted, too. With shaky hands, the young athlete took the pale hand that held his, and placed it against his erratically beating heart, holding the hand there with all of his might, like he feared Gokudera would think twice and take it away. Then, with his free hand, he traced a kanji symbol above the other's heart before he placed his hand upon the silver-haired teen's chest, Yamamoto holding it firmly their as he tried to convey his message.
This time, it was Gokudera's turn to release his pent up tears. Yamamoto had just stroked the kanji for love above his heart.
Before the smaller teen could even sense the other's presence growing closer, he felt warm lips upon his own as Yamamoto brought him into a sweet, chaste kiss. Despite his initial surprise, Gokudera willing took in the other's intimate touch as he kissed back. The kiss only became stronger as the pent up passion within the two teens exploded. As Yamamoto cradled the side of Gokudera's face with a calloused hand, the smaller teen wrapped his arms around the taller teen's neck and brought him in closer, their tongues experimentally tangling together within their conjoined mouths.
New overpowering senses overcame Gokudera in that moment, his taste and touch over-sensitized to the workings of Yamamoto's tongue against his own, the taller teen exploring his mouth to the fullest, desperate to memorize the feel of Gokudera against him. When they finally parted for air, Gokudera could feel the erratic pace of his heart beat against his chest, Yamamoto's heart beating in time with his as the taller teen pressed their torsos together. In truth, the smaller teen felt even more exhausted than before, almost to the point of passing out because of their desperate excursion, but in all honesty he didn't care at the moment. He felt more alive than ever in that moment, the smaller teen truly believing that Yamamoto's explosive kiss was almost, if not more, addicting than setting off actual explosions.
As Yamamoto continued to hold him, tightening his grip around his newfound love in a protective embrace, Gokudera blushed and tightened his hold around the other's neck as well. He had never felt something like this in his entire life, the feeling of another intimately held against him. Despite what his pride would want him to think, Gokudera was embarrassed to admit that he actually liked it, no, loved it, because he felt wanted in the highest sense of the word. He was wanted, he was cherished, and that's all Gokudera could ask for in that moment. He could honestly say now that if he were to die, he could probably rest peacefully, for he had gained something he never knew he could receive.
But sadly, just as the sweet moment between the two teens began, it quickly ended as Gokudera felt the other pull away from him. The silver-haired teen felt the distinct overpowering feeling of loss as he lost all contact with Yamamoto, and felt the presence of people he didn't know begin to unhook him from his IV, and pull him onto a gurney.
It was time.
Gokudera could feel the bed move beneath him as the surgeons and nurses began rushing him down the hall, the presence of not only Yamamoto's flames, but of the other Guardians' slowly growing faint as he was taken further away from them. With his last moment of happiness on his mind, Gokudera closed his eyes and awaited his destiny.
He just hoped that he would be able to open his eyes once again.
Darkness. That was all that he could see.
As Gokudera's sleep-addled brain pondered over the usual black cloud that seemed to have enshrouded his sight for the past two months, the smaller teen slowly came to realize that the last time he was awake, he was going into life-threatening surgery.
With a bolt, the silver-haired teen shot up from his position on the hospital bed as he came to realize that he was, in fact, still alive. Had the surgery been a dream? Had Yamamoto and him…
All of Gokudera's answers hit him at once as a searing pain erupted at the base of his skull. As the smaller teen finally opened his eyes, the most piercing white light he had ever had the pleasure of experiencing, shot straight into his retinas. With a startled scream that only increased the pain Gokudera was feeling in his skull on account that he could actually hear himself scream (at a rather loud decibel, might he add), the young Italian fell back onto his hospital bed.
It appeared that he had actually had the surgery after all, if the pounding headache he was now experiencing was anything to go by (not to mention he could feel the bandages wrapped around his head).
Feeling sick to his stomach, and like a mummy from the stupid bandages encasing his whole face, Gokudera wondered when the pain would end. As he clenched his eyelids shut, his hands came up to cover the delicate folds of skin, and rubbed soothing circles into them to try and lessen the pain. Before the smaller teen could adequately recover, he felt someone grab hold of his arm in a hesitant grip.
Surprised by the feeling, Gokudera hesitantly lowered his hands, and tentatively opened his watery eyes to behold the image of Yamamoto, the taller teen gripping his arm with a worried expression marring his features. Through the watery haze of his sensitive eyes, even Gokudera couldn't help but admit that the young athlete looked rather cute in that moment.
As the two teens' eyes met, questioning hazel meeting watery, vibrant green, Gokudera was blessed to witness a look of absolute relief wash onto the taller teen's face; the biggest, most blinding smile stretching across Yamamoto's mouth.
"Gokudera, you're alright!" The raven-haired teen exclaimed with undeniable happiness as he swooped down and brought the smaller teen into a crushing hug.
Ok, Yamamoto wasn't cute anymore; he was a pain in the ass.
"Too loud…Too tight…" Gokudera squeaked out through pinched lips as the pain he felt escalated. Weren't the doctors supposed to put him on morphine after surgery?! Why the hell wasn't it working?!
Hearing the other's pained request, Yamamoto quickly let his death grip on the other go, an apologetic smile coming to his face.
"Sorry." The taller teen whispered out as his eyes widened in worry, quickly scanning the smaller teen's body for any more signs of injury before he continued. "I…I just thought I would never see you again…"
Gokudera winced as he registered the other's words, hating that even a whisper was excruciating to hear at the moment.
"Well, don't do that again," The smaller teen let out with a pained gasp, as one of his hands came up to rub at his bandaged head (shit, the surgeons probably had to cut some of his hair in order to get the leech out!).
The smaller teen's eyes were squinted shut at the moment, so he didn't see the loving smile Yamamoto was sending his way.
"Yeah…" The taller teen whispered out happily, trying his best to stay composed as he felt tears coming to his eyes. Gokudera had been out for two straight days, and the doctors were unsure if he would pull through. No words could describe how happy Yamamoto felt in that moment, knowing that Gokudera hadn't died.
"I..I'm going to get the doctor, and tell everyone you're awake." Yamamoto whispered out thickly, his voice wavering with an overpowering sense of relief. "Maybe the doctor will give you more pain killers, too?"
And with that, the taller teen swooped down and pecked a surprised Gokudera on the forehead, before standing and leaving to do as he had stated before.
Gokudera could only blink after the other in shock, before the light was too much, and he was forced to squint his eyes shut again. The warmest feeling fluttered into the smaller teen's chest then as a blush spread across his cheeks. Had he just imagined that? The young Italian tried not to think too hard on the current subject, finding it hard to concentrate through the pain he was feeling. But even as Gokudera continued to keep his eyes shut, and tried not to listen to the loud beeps of the hospital machinery in his room, the smaller teen could only see and hear one thing, and that was Yamamoto's smile, and the taller boy shouting his name in happiness.
Before Gokudera fell into an exhausted sleep, the pain he felt being too much for him to handle after just waking up from his surgery, he felt the smallest tug of a smile on his lips.
Yamamoto stared down at the empty hospital bed that had once held his beloved bomber. The lights and machinery in the room were now turned off, the only source of light coming from the window as the morning sun shined through. The surgery was over and done with, the Mist Leech taken care of, and the enemy family members either dead, or in prison. Gokudera would never again stay within the room where he was contained to his silent blindness. The pain that the silver-haired teen had felt had finally been relieved.
As the raven-haired teen left that dreaded room behind him, and stepped out into the blinding morning sun, he couldn't suppress a just as blinding smile at the image he saw. There, standing and leaning against one of the pillars to the hospital entrance was Gokudera, his hair cut short now due to his surgery, which he styled to look messy, and spiky (he complained that he looked stupid now because he had a similar hair style as Yamamoto), with a pair of stylish shades placed over his eyes. Yamamoto distinctly remembered Gokudera telling him every single day that he couldn't wait to grow his hair out again.
After living through his surgery where he had a low chance of survival, the young Italian had been stationed within the hospital for another week in order to recuperate. The nurses had made Gokudera wear shades and earmuffs (much to Gokudera's embarrassment) in order to block out most of his sight and his ability to hear, since his eyes and ears were overly sensitive to light and sound after their long absence of use. Within the week, and with the constant vigilance of Yamamoto (who had refused to leave Gokudera's side again), and the rest of his family and friends, Gokudera was able to recover from his ordeal. Now he was released from the hospital, with the doctor's orders to at least wear sunglasses outside, since the smaller teen's eyes were still sensitive to outside light, and to use his prescription of headache pills to help him with his recovery to sound.
Seeing the tall athlete making his way towards him, Gokudera turned his head to glare at his approaching companion, the fiery green of his irises darkened by his light-grey shades that allowed partial light to filter in.
"What the hell was with the hold up, Baseball Idiot?!" The feisty Italian spat with little to no venom in his voice as he pushed himself off the pillar he was leaning against, and met Yamamoto half way in his trek. "You're going to make us late for my welcome back party!"
Yamamoto just smiled as he finally arrived before Gokudera, a loving twinkle in his eyes as he peered down at the slightly irritated bomber. Gokudera had a right to be frustrated. Everyone was waiting for him at Tsuna's house now in order to, not only welcome Gokudera's sight and hearing back, but to welcome the silver-haired teen back into the Vongola Family as the Storm Guardian, and as Tsuna's right-hand man (Gokudera was so touched that Tsuna had refused to replace him because of his 'temporary' disability).
"Sorry, Gokudera," The baseball player laughed with a sheepish grin. "I just wanted to preserve that empty hospital bed of yours to memory." There was a short pause as the other's expression immediately turned serious. "I never want to see you in one ever again."
Gokudera couldn't hide the massive blush that came to his cheeks as he averted his gaze away from the other.
"D-Don't be an idiot! I can't guarantee that with our profession!" The silver-haired teen stuttered out in his flustered state as he unconsciously remembered how he woke up from surgery. The first sight that had met his eyes was Yamamoto's relieved smile, and the first thing he had heard was how the other happily declared his name, grateful that he had survived.
"A-Anyway" Gokudera stuttered out again, eager to change the subject and get going. "We should head out. I don't want to be late."
Before the smaller teen could make his getaway, he felt a big, warm hand grab hold of his arm.
"Wait, Gokudera! I want to ask you something." Yamamoto shouted out in earnest, as a certain memory came to his mind. "I never asked you this, because I didn't want to bother you while you were recovering from surgery, but I can't hold it back anymore. Just…Just what am I to you? You never stated it directly during…you know, that one time…and I just want to know if…if you still felt the same way."
Even though he was facing away from the other now, Gokudera was certain he could sense Yamamoto blushing almost as hard as he was, the hand that was gripping his arm shaking in nervousness. The young Italian took a deep breath as he wondered on how he was supposed to answer the other's question.
"Um…Reborn-san talked with me privately yesterday." Gokudera replied, not entirely sure where he was going with this, but knowing that they had been the first words to come to mind. "He had…asked me if I had learned anything from this whole ordeal. My answer for him was almost immediate."
Yamamoto crinkled his brow in confusion as he stared at Gokudera, noticing how the other's shoulders sagged as he bowed his head. The taller teen just couldn't tell if it was out of shame or embarrassment that he did so. What was Gokudera getting at?
Thankfully, for the young athlete, Gokudera was quick to also give Yamamoto his answer.
"I told him," The embarrassed Italian started out, his voice soft but certain in the words that flowed from his mouth. "That I had learned that I can't do everything by myself, and that I shouldn't force myself to believe that only I can handle things because I see myself as the Tenth's right-hand man. I told Reborn-san that I had come to learn that I could depend on others to help me, that it was ok to do so, because I now knew that I was nothing all by myself."
Yamamoto gasped as he then felt Gokudera brush off his hand from his arm, and take it into his own, the smaller teen still facing away from his taller companion, and refusing to turn around because of his previous action. The words between the two fell silent as Yamamoto felt the other's palm held against his, completely shocked as to what had just happened.
"W-Well? Does that answer your question?!" Gokudera stuttered out in exasperation, fear gripping his heart at Yamamoto's lack of answer.
As he heard the other's question, a warm, loving smile slowly made its way across Yamamoto's lips, one that Gokudera was unable to see because he refused to turn around. The taller teen's smile only grew as he decided to do something for old time's sake, and replied to Gokudera's question by gripping the hand that held his back, giving the appendage a soft squeeze of affirmation.
'Yes', was Yamamoto's silent answer.
That simple touch was all Gokudera needed in order to calm his nerves as he squeezed Yamamoto's hand back in, 'ok', before he let go and quickly stuffed his hands into his pockets, still refusing to turn and look at the other.
"Come on, Idiot. We shouldn't keep the Tenth waiting any longer!" The young Italian shouted over his shoulder as if nothing had happened. As he started to walk away, he knew that his Rain Guardian would be soon to follow, and that he would never leave his side.
True to his belief, Yamamoto ran to catch up with his fast walking partner, unable to see the soft smile that adorned his beloved bomber's lips as the other heard him following behind.
It was only natural in the end, Gokudera thought to himself. After all, whenever there was a storm there was rain, and whenever there was rain there was a storm. They simply coexisted with each other, and one couldn't happen without the other being there. Gokudera had come to learn that through his last life-altering experience. And as the smaller teen felt the slightest touch to his shoulder then, his taller companion lightly bumping it, and sending a loving smile shining in his direction, Gokudera knew that he wouldn't have it any other way.