Gokudera sat quietly as his gray eyes grazed over the rippling waves of the bay before him. It was one of those rare moments of calm beauty that he'd learned to appreciate once he became Tsuna's right-hand man. No fighting, no thinking, just the water, the gentle summer breeze and….
"Yo, Gokudera!" a cheerful voice broke the serenity in an instant. Gokudera heaved a sigh into his hands folded under his chin.
"What do you want, baseball idiot?" Gokudera grumbled, exhausted irritation weighing down his words.
Yamamoto plopped down next to Gokudera, letting his legs dangle over the edge of the dock. Brown eyes stared at the scenery with excitement. "Wow! Look at that view! Beautiful isn't it?"
Gokudera tried his best not to sneer. Yamamoto's cheery disposition always set him off somehow. It just annoyed him. He always had a goofy grin on his face. The same one from when they were teens. For some reason Yamamoto's happy-go-lucky attitude ticked him off immensely.
Another breeze whipped off the bay, filling the two Vongolas' noses with the biting scent of saltwater. Yamamoto drew in a deep breath.
"I love the smell of seawater, don't you? It's so refreshing!"
"Why're you asking me that?" Gokudera moaned.
"It's just a question, Hayato. No need to-" Before he could finish, Yamamoto found himself at the business end of Gokudera's Flame Arrow.
"Don't call me that. You and I aren't close enough for you to have the right to call me by my first name," Gokudera snarled, nostrils flaring. Yamamoto's face stretched into a smile, albeit a weak, almost sad one. He barely made a sound as he picked himself up from the weather-worn dock. Silently, he turned his back on the other Guardian, and coughed up a single choked laugh.
"You'd think that after all these years you'd start realizing it," Yamamoto started solemnly.
Gokudera lowered his arm. Yamamoto had seen down the skull's mouth before, but never reacted so seriously. His unusual behavior caught Gokudera off-guard. "Realizing what?"
"That we're part of a team, a very important team that's playing a very dangerous game. But instead of working with us, you try to grandstand, to do it all by yourself. The only time you play along is when Tsuna tells you to, and even then all you do is complain and threaten the rest of us for no reason".
Gokudera's brow furrowed in anger. "Don't bring the Tenth into this! He has nothing to do with-"
"He has everything to do with this!" Yamamoto shouted as he snapped his head around to eye Gokudera. "Tsuna is the reason you try to be a one-man team! You try to show off so Tsuna will see you're strong and that you don't need help. You're practically obsessed with him!"
Gokudera had heard enough. "I'm not obsessed! I need to prove I'm the only one suited to be his right hand man!" he defended.
"You are his right-hand man! You've got the job already!"
"That doesn't mean I can slack off!"
"But you don't have to be up his ass all the time!"
"Take that back or I'll make you explode!"
"Yeah, that'll solve the teamwork problem; just get rid of the other members. Good idea!" The sarcasm bit at Gokudera's last nerve.
"That's it! Why'd you come down here anyway?! You ruined a perfectly nice sunset for what? To lecture me on being a 'team player'?!"
"NO!" Yamamoto spun himself to face his accuser. Fists shaking, he allowed the emotions building inside him to finally break free. "All I wanted was to spend five minutes alone with you to watch the sun go down! Is it so bad to want to be with someone I care about?!"
Another ocean breeze blew by, jostling the two mafioso's clothes and hair. The rustling leaves were the only noise they could hear. Both men were frozen. Eyes locked, they stared at each other, shocked at the words that were just spoken.
"Someone you….care about?" Gokudera stammered.
Yamamoto bit his lip. He couldn't believe he said those words. The same words that had haunted him day and night for what seemed like forever. But it was the truth. He did care about Gokudera.
Whenever Gokudera was sent on a mission alone, he'd pace in his room at the Vongola Headquarters, worrying until he saw him returned safe and sound with his own eyes. He was never quite sure why it was Gokudera, but he went along with it and allowed his feelings to bloom.
Muscles tensed, Yamamoto waited quietly for what was sure to be a heartbreaking rejection. He watched as Gokudera's face twisted into a contemplative expression. "Well, that's either a good sign or a very bad one," Yamamoto thought nervously.
Gokudera turned his face back to the setting sun. Thoughts swirled in his mind. Not only did Yamamoto, the cool headed, peaceful one of the group, just scream at him, but he also had just admitted he cared about him. For a moment, it was like the whole world was flipped upside down. He half expected Hibari to pop out from behind a bush and give everyone hugs and sing a song.
Gokudera watched the sky turn into a painted canvas of pink and orange as he tried to make sense of everything.
"I see. It's okay," Yamamoto sighed as he turned around. "Sorry for bothering you again, Gokudera. I'll leave you be".
Gokudera couldn't help but notice the sadness in Yamamoto's voice. He sounded like he was crushed. That was when Gokudera started to realize what Yamamoto wanted him to. He started to remember all the tough spots he had been in, and how Yamamoto always came to his aide.
"Damnit, how could I not have noticed," Gokudera thought to himself. He turned towards the retreating Yamamoto. "Through all the training, all the battles, all the close calls, you were always there to help me and cheer me on. But I was always too caught up in trying to look good for the Tenth that I never wanted to accept it. But you, you always kept a smile on your face, and kept trying to get me to see that I didn't have to tough it out on my own, because you'd always be there". Gokudera watched Yamamoto walk away with a soft look of awe and silent thanks.
"Yamamoto". Gokudera's voice stopped Yamamoto in his tracks. He waited for some mean remark, a bad name, something to confirm the notion that Gokudera wanted nothing to do with him after his little confession. He should've kept it bottled up like he'd been. Why did he allow himself to lose control? Well, it didn't matter. The old saying 'Come what may' came to mind.
"Sit down with me before I change my mind".
"What?!" Yamamoto's inner voice squeaked between his ears. He angled himself towards Gokudera whose usually stormy eyes seemed soft and inviting. A look Yamamoto was a little more than surprised to see. He walked back and reclaimed his spot on the dock next to Gokudera. He felt like his heart was going to beat out of his chest. He sat straight up, hands folded on his lap, unsure of how to behave.
Gokudera took notice of Yamamoto's uncomfortable position and heaved a sigh. "Relax, I'm not gonna bite you or anything".
A red tinge colored Yamamoto's cheeks. "Yeah, guess not," he responded with a smile, pointer finger scratching at his cheek. Placing his hands behind himself, he reclined back, relaxing the muscles in his back and shoulders. The atmosphere finally started to level out when Gokudera started speaking.
"Listen, I still don't know what to make of what you just said, and don't expect us to be best friends now or anything". Gokudera exhaled sharply as he chose his next words. "But if I can't respond to anything else, I'll at least say this".
Yamamoto rested his chin on his shoulder to face Gokudera, who seemed to be struggling with the next sentence. That meant one of two things: either he was about to admit he was wrong and that Yamamoto was right, or apologize. Either way, it was a going to be a rare occurrence that Yamamoto would happily accept.
Gokudera shifted his line of sight to the water. "You were right. If we hope to be great Guardians and make the Tenth proud, we need to work together. I need to quit being such a loner, stop being so stubborn and be part of the team".
Yamamoto couldn't help but place a hand on Gokudera's shoulder. "I'm glad you're finally seeing the big picture!"
"I'm not done".
"Hm?" Yamamoto's expression turned quizzical. His mind started up again. "That's odd. What else could he possibly have to-"
All thoughts in Yamamoto's head ceased to exist. He was certain he was the only person ever to have Gokudera admit he was wrong and receive an apology in the same lifetime. But if this is what he got for yelling at him, it was definitely worth breaking character for.
"I've been a real ass to you all these years when I shouldn't have, and for that, I owe you an apology. So, sorry," Gokudera forced the words out again, scratching his arm awkwardly as he said them.
"No worries, Gokudera! It's part of your personality, I never really took too much of it to heart!"
Gokudera's face twisted into a defeated look. "Ouch".
Yamamoto started to laugh, his normal carefree aura returning. At first, Gokudera reacted as usual, with a sneer and a cold shoulder. But for some reason, hearing his laughter this time around brought a smile to his face.
"Oh! Look! The sun is almost set!" Gokudera looked back towards the horizon. The sun had taken on a rich orange hue as it dropped out of the sky. Passing clouds became colorful puffs of pink, purple and blue. Rays of light poked through tufts of cloud and painted the rippling aquatic canvas below.
The two men sat peacefully side by side as they watched twilight fall and the sky evolve.
"Thanks for letting me sit with you".
"Sure thing". Gokudera shifted his weight towards Yamamoto.
"You can call me Hayato, if you really want. But just when we're alone, ok?! I don't need turf head on
my case about it".
"Okay! Thanks, Hayato!" Yamamoto and Gokudera smiled at each other before returning to the last bit of sun quickly disappearing below the water. Gokudera realized that his serene moments feel even better when shared with someone else.