Hey guys! Sorry I haven't updated anything in a while. For the past two years, TheKillerBunny and I have been working on a very long saga for Katekyo Hitman Reborn! We've just recently finished the first part and we're currently working on the sequel. We're posting a chapter a week on a separate account made solely for this universe we've created. You can find the link to that account on my profile, or you can just look up the story "A Different Choice" by HibirdxEnzo.

For now, enjoy this excerpt from a future chapter!

Tsuna was almost afraid to return home with nothing. He imagined all the others going home with the satisfaction of progress while all Tsuna had were a few extra bruises. He had tried for nearly an hour, sitting at the shrine by himself, to light his ring to no avail. The Vongola Tenth had plunged deeper and deeper into depression and doubt with every passing minute, and as Tsuna returned home, he had ignored his mother's offer of food and just headed up to his room. On his way up, he vaguely noticed Levi looking around the house and calling for the "Lightning Kid." Tsuna frowned and just closed himself off in his room. He sat on his bed and hugged his knees close to his chest, closing his eyes tightly.

Gokudera had been very distracted during his "training session" with the knife-user, his thoughts often muddled with worry as he wondered how the Tenth was doing. He still couldn't believe that Reborn-san had left the Tenth alone with that bastard. Gokudera didn't trust the Varia boss with the Tenth one bit, whatsoever. If it wasn't for Fon constantly reminding him to pay attention to Bel, not to mention Bel's insistent knife throws at his direction, Gokudera would have long since left the grounds in hope to check up on his boss.

As it was, it was only after three long frustrating hours that Gokudera had finally been able to leave. He had quickly learned his flame's capabilities, although he had yet to put them to any good use. But none of that mattered at that moment. Gokudera could think about it later when he was back in his apartment. For now, he needed to check up on the Tenth.

The shrine grounds were empty when he arrived. Although Xanxus' chair was still in place, no one else was there. What worried Gokudera was that there was a lot of rubble around, indicating that there had been a fight. There was no blood anywhere, but Gokudera narrowed his eyes with suspicion anyway and quickly began to head to the Tenth's house.

When he arrived there, Gokudera wasn't sure if he should be amused that the stupid cow had managed to trick one of the Varia guys to play hide-and-seek with him. The thought was fleeting however. He quickly knocked on the front door, greeted the Tenth's Mother, and headed up to his boss' room.

Tsuna had his eyes closed and was in a numb sort of state. But when he heard the murmurings of Gokudera's voice greeting his mother, a small bit of spark allowed Tsuna to get up and move to his bedroom door. He opened it, and when he saw Gokudera, he tried to smile. He really did. But the depression was still obvious in his eyes. "Come in, Gokudera-kun... How was your training?"

Gokudera immediately took notice of his boss' mood, as well as his current physical state. "It was fine, I guess, but…" Gokudera frowned, his hands hovering worriedly over his boss' battered body. "But more importantly, Tenth, are you alright?" he asked, sounding seriously upset. He should have known better than to leave the Tenth alone with that Xanxus bastard! He bit his lip hard, his fingers itching to hurt.

Tsuna closed the door after Gokudera came in and spent a moment of just staring at the painted wood before he turned to Gokudera, once again struggling to put on a smile. "I'm fine, Gokudera-kun. Don't worry about me." Tsuna found it was harder to keep that smile on his face, almost painful. How did Yamamoto do it?

"Of course I'm worried!" Gokudera told the other, feeling slightly frustrated. It hurt Gokudera to see him like this. Why was the other even attempting to lie to him? The fact made Gokudera look down at his feet in disappointment, wondering if the Tenth still didn't trust him… Gokudera bit his lip slightly and looked back up to plead at the other. "You can always tell me when something is bothering you, Tenth…" he tried to reassure him, hesitantly putting a comforting hand on the other's shoulder.

The touch seemed to undo the last bit of resistance Tsuna had. The brunette looked down, his face hidden by his hair for a few moments before he began trembling. His shoulders shook as a sob escaped from his lips. "I... I can't do it! I can't do anything!" Tsuna put his hands over his face as if afraid to allow Gokudera to see him. "I can't light the ring at all! What if when we have to go rescue Hibari-san, I still can't do it! What if I lose!? What if someone else gets taken?!"

Gokudera's eyes widened at this confession. He had known the Tenth had been having difficulties... but he had thought he had fixed them by now. He wondered if there was something wrong with the ring. Perhaps Xanxus had done something to it during the Ring Battle?

Gokudera thought all of that absently in the back of his mind, because his first and foremost concern was always the Tenth's wellbeing. Seeing him this distressed pained the bomb-user, and as much as he wanted to wrap his arms around the other and comfort him, Gokudera knew that wasn't what the Tenth needed at that moment. So instead he took hold of both of his boss' hands, prying them away from his tearful face, and looked straight into his eyes. "Tenth... please calm down," he murmured softly, frowning in concern.

Tsuna looked at Gokudera, his eyes filled with tears. Sobs hiccupped out from his lips. "How can I calm down?!" His voice cracked slightly, "What if I can't do it!? What if those guys are too strong!? They'll kill Hibari-san and they'll kill you and they'll kill me!" His voice broke at the last word. It was obvious Tsuna had been wallowing in these horrible thoughts and depression for far too long.

Gokudera's chest hurt at the sight before him. He gripped his boss' hands even tighter as if hoping that it would help the other calm down. "Tenth, please listen to me," he pleaded, his voice strong and firm. "Nothing is going to happen to us. We can win this," he told the other confidently, because he had no doubt in his words. The Tenth was strong. Everyone in their Family could see that except the boss himself apparently. "Nothing is going to happen to you, Tenth. I won't let anything to happen to you." Gokudera shook his head slightly, as if the motion would help him forget the image of the Tenth bleeding in his arms again, shot because Gokudera hadn't been able to protect him…

"If those guys are strong, then we'll just have to become stronger! I know we can do it, I know you can do it, Tenth. We all believe in you... so please believe in yourself." Gokudera's eyes softened. He knew… he knew deep inside of him that the Tenth had never wanted this burden... but they were in too deep to back out now.

Tsuna listened to Gokudera's words before looking down. "But... I can't..." He sniffed slightly, still trembling a bit. "You all have lit up your flames but... I can't do it at all." He pulled back his hands from Gokudera's grip, leaning instead against the door. "Xanxus was right..." He looked down at the floor. "I'm nothing but trash... I'm never going to be good enough..." He shook his head slightly and bit his lip. "I... You're believing in the wrong person, Gokudera-kun..."

Gokudera's eyes flashed in a rage. He should've known Xanxus was involved in this somehow. Gokudera growled and slammed his hand next to the Tenth's head, unable to help himself. "Don't listen to that bastard, Tenth!" He scowled furiously. "He doesn't know that the hell he's talking about. He doesn't know you like we do, like I do." Gokudera looked desperately at Tsuna's eyes, needing to make him understand. "Tenth…" His voice began lowering again, as if suddenly realizing he had been yelling. "There's no one else I would rather follow, Tenth. I told you before, didn't I?" Gokudera shook his head before slowly beginning to inch forward until he rested his forehead against the other's.

"There's no one else in this world worthy to lead us. You're a good boss… and a good friend. That's why all of us follow you, Tenth. That's why we all believe in you." Gokudera's eyes pleaded the other to listen. "And don't forget that you're not alone in this. Please believe in us too," Gokudera murmured softly, pleadingly.

When Gokudera slammed his hand next to his head, Tsuna started, looking at Gokudera with wide eyes. He was unable to break the intensity between their eye contact and as Gokudera spoke, Tsuna felt his heart pound. Hearing all of this... Even when it was from Gokudera, the one who constantly showered him with praise he felt he didn't deserve... it all hit home. Tsuna closed his eyes and clasped his hands in front of his chest tightly. "Gokudera-kun..." he whispered, "You... You're right... I'm not alone..." Tsuna opened his eyes and there was a certain fire behind it, however dim it was. "Dino-san will be helping us and we have really strong fighters teaching us these things. Not to mention... I have you at my side." A small, more genuine smile spread across Tsuna's lips. "I was foolish to think I was alone..."

Gokudera's face lit up at other's words. He felt relieved, not to mention happy that he had managed to cheer up the brunette. He had been worried that his words wouldn't reach him. There was a warm feeling bubbling at the center of Gokudera's chest when he smiled next. "Always, Tenth," he promised him. "No matter what, I will always be at your side."