Disclaimer: KHR! does not in any way belong to me, it's the property of Amano, etc.

Notes: I don't really know what I'm doing, but I have a semblance of a plot outline and I actually really love zombie aus (but I hate zombie movies?) so uh, bear with me.

In this world, the mafia is the mafia. There are no Dying Will Flames, or cursed babies. The Arcobaleno are all their correct ages. Should the Vongola Rings come into the story at all (doubtful, but my plans could change) they will not have any special properties beyond being cool-looking. Some of the characters' histories have been modified to better fit my plans.

Title from Linkin Park's 'Iridescent', shockingly enough!

Warnings for: suicide, in this chapter.


No-Good Tsuna, that's what they called him. He can't do anything right. He can't even pass a test. He can barely walk down the street without tripping. PE was a joke. What was Sawada Tsunayoshi good at?


No-Good Tsuna...

He's not completely worthless, though. He plays a lot of video games - first person shooters, post-apocalyptic survival games, stuff like that. A lot of those deal with fictional zombie apocalypses.

Who would have thought that stuff would come in handy? he muses, peering cautiously out the window. The shambling, half-rotted corpses that roam the streets don't generally look up, but it doesn't hurt to be careful.

Tsuna bites his lip, scanning the street quickly. It's been pretty quiet for the past couple of days. There'd been fires, beyond the residential district, but they'd mostly died down by now. He'd heard screaming in the distance (a street or two over, or around the corner, just out of sight) but what could he do?

Whenever the screaming would start, his mother would half-rise, a wild look in her eyes.

"It's no use," Tsuna would say. "If they're screaming, they're already dead." It was harsh, but also the truth. And what can one scrawny thirteen year old and a housewife do to help, anyway?

It was stupid to go outside, and since his mother tended to stock up on foodstuffs, there was no pressing need to leave their house.

The water's still running, though the electricity went out a few days ago. The phones had gone before that, not long after the panic started.

"We just need to wait for your father to get here," his mother keeps repeating, her eyes becoming increasingly desperate as the days wear on.

Tsuna has his doubts about his father's dependability, but it keeps his mom relatively calm, so he keeps them to himself. His father... who knows where that unreliable asshole is now?

That was before. The pantry's almost empty now; he's filled up all the suitable vessels they have around the house with water, in case the water does stop running, but it can't hurt to pick up more.

He'll have to go foraging.

"Mom," he says quietly, slipping into her room. His mother's lying back on the bed, the drapes pulled closed against the deceptively cheerful spring sunlight.

"Tsuna," she says dully, her eyes not quite focussing on him.

"I have to go out, we need more food," he says, kneeling beside her.

That animates her. She sits up, grasps his shoulders with surprising strength. "Tsuna, no. You can't go out there, you've said it yourself! If you go out, you die!"

Tsuna shakes his head. "I have to, mom, or we'll starve. It's been quiet lately. Maybe they've moved on. I bet the ones that are left would be slow and stupid from hunger."

"Or desperate," his mother murmurs, but she's already slipping back into her blank disinterest. "We can hold out for a few more days, I'm sure your father will be here by then."

Something in Tsuna snaps. "He's not coming back," he says heatedly, barely remembering to keep his voice down in case there do happen to be any zombies passing nearby. "You think you can rely on him for anything!? I haven't even seen him for more than a couple of days a year for the past ten years!"

His mother flinches, like Tsuna physically slapped her.

The anger drains out of him, ushering in a wave of regret. "Mom, I'm sorry-"

"I'm sure he'll come," his mother says quietly, curling into a ball. "He will come." If she hears Tsuna's fumbling apologies, she makes no sign of it.

Tsuna bites his lip again, hands balling into fists at his side. She's not well. Well, of course she's not. Who would be, in these conditions? People have died within shouting distance of them and they've done nothing to help them. He's pretty sure his mom watched their next door neighbour eat his family the day everything went to hell; their corpses were lying in the street when he'd run home from school, the blood still leaking onto the pavement.

Who would be in their right mind after witnessing something like that?

Tsuna climbs to his feet and closes the door quietly behind himself.

The third step from the top squeaks; he avoids it on his way down the stairs, his socked feet making little noise on the wooden floor. Usually the hardwood gleams, testament to his mother's devotion to the upkeep of their modest home, but she hasn't cleaned in weeks.

What's the point, really? She barely even cooks anymore, or what can pass for it without electricity. Tsuna's been preparing their meals for the past few days.

There's a baseball bat in the front closet, from that one disastrous time his father came home to visit and decided that they should bond through the medium of baseball. The incident only showcased how little Sawada Iemitsu knew of his son, and the result was Tsuna feeling even more alienated from the man he seldom saw and barely knew.

How hard can it be to fend something off with a baseball bat? Tsuna turns the bat over in his hands, all too aware of how scrawny and out of shape he is. Sure, getting hit just about anywhere with a bat is bound to hurt, but will it be enough to stop a zombie?

There are less than there were in the beginning, he tells himself, tightening his grip on the bat. Tsuna's not stupid (abysmal test scores aside...) and he's gone over the shortest route to the nearest supermarket countless times in his head.

Of course, he hasn't been beyond his street in almost a month; who knows what state the rest of Namimori is in by now?

But dithering about things won't change them. It's midmorning, on a clear day; he won't get a better chance than this. Tsuna pulls on his shoes and makes sure to double knot them; he's clumsy enough as it is, without the added danger of tripping over his own shoe laces. He tests the straps of the old backpack that he'd unearthed from storage. Strong enough.

He peers out the front window, then slips out, locking the door behind himself.

It feels strange to have the warmth of the sun beating down on his skin. It isn't even summer yet, but Tsuna has spent the past days inside, out of sight of the windows.

The neighbourhood is eerily quiet as he steps carefully along the front path. The lawn is overgrown, the garden that had been blooming before everything went to hell now completely out of control.

We could grow vegetables, he notes, then dismisses the thought. He's useless at gardening himself, and his mother is in no state to be doing so.

The street is a mess when Tsuna peers around the fence. The neighbours' corpses have been dragged further down the street, nearly unrecognizable from decay and mutilation; were it not for the -

neatly pressed Midori Middle uniform, collar askew, legs splayed obscenely so that, had he been so inclined and not so intent on not throwing up, Tsuna might have looked up her skirt

- clothes, Tsuna probably wouldn't have been able to tell.

He swallows hard and quickly looks away. Supermarket. He needs to get to the supermarket.

The walk there is uneventful; he doesn't see a single zombie, though he passes plenty of corpses. As he heads deeper in to the city, scorch marks and blood splatters appear with increasing frequency; there are several crashed cars, and many windows are broken in. Doors hang off hinges, creaking faintly in the mild spring breeze. Smoke and decay mingle with the delicate scents of spring blossoms.

The supermarket is pretty picked over when Tsuna arrives, and for a moment he panics.

There could still be something, he tells himself, biting his lip. He corrects his grip on the bat, trying to ignore the sweat prickling at his palms. Despite the lack of contact - human, zombie or otherwise - he'd felt increasingly nervous the further he ventured from his house. He was sweating by the time he arrived, and this latest scare has done little to ease his tension.

There are probably other survivors, he adds, carefully stepping through the large, broken-in windows at the front of the store. The glass crunches under his foot anyway, but it's probably quiet enough that nothing could have heard. He glances around wildly for a couple of seconds, frozen, but nothing appears.

Tsuna takes a breath and continues into the store. There are smears of blood on the floor, but no corpses. The produce and the meat are all rotten, of course, but he was expecting that. There are unimportant items littering the floor - magazines torn from the racks, cleaning products knocked off shelves - but Tsuna pays them no mind except to avoid them.

It gets darker the further Tsuna walks in, though. He swallows again, scanning the shelves with one eye as he keeps the other on the aisles. His ears almost hurt from how hard he's listening for any footsteps, any sound at all.

Finally, he comes across some canned goods. It's nothing that he really likes, but it's better than nothing at all. He slips off the backpack and starts loading it with one hand, the other clenched tight around his baseball bat.


Tsuna flinches, starting to his feet instinctively before his mind can recognize the whisperer.

Sasagawa Kyouko.

They stare at each other in silence, Tsuna's bat raised. Kyouko's clutching one of those 'green' shopping bags to her chest, eyes wide.

"K-Kyouko-san?" he stammers, not quite believing what he's seeing. Yet there she is, clad in a Nami-issue shirt and cut-off pants. There's an old bloodstain on one leg.

Skirts must be too impractical, Tsuna notes distantly.

"I thought you were a zombie," she whispers, coming closer. "That.. was you crunching the glass at the front, right?"

Tsuna nods dumbly.

Kyouko breathes a sigh of relief. "I'm glad. There's been less, lately, but..."

But the zombies are still around, Tsuna fills in. "Are you... alone?" he asks. "Ryouhei-san...?"

Kyouko flinches at the mention of her brother's name, a deeply sad expression appearing on her face.

"I'm sorry," Tsuna says quickly.

Kyouko nods, squeezing her eyes shut for several moments. "He... I don't know what happened to him," she whispers. She gives Tsuna a shaky smile. "But... enough about that. Where have you been staying?"

"At my house, with my mother," Tsuna says. He glances down at the half-filled backpack. "I need to get back, she's probably worried," he adds, kneeling again so he can resume filling.

"Don't pack too much," Kyouko warns. "You have to still be able to run, Tsuna-kun."

Tsuna feels his cheeks redden at the implications. He's not strong enough to carry any more. Well, that's true, and Kyouko's tone wasn't condescending or anything, but it still hurts to hear.

"Ah, you're probably right," he agrees. "I still want some water, too." He puts a few of the cans back and hefts the backpack to check how heavy it is. Deciding that he can carry the weight, he pulls it onto his shoulders.

"Where do you live?" Kyouko asks quietly, as they make their way over to the beverage section.

He gives her his address as he stares at the drinks. This isn't as picked over as the rest of the store, probably because the water is still running. After some debate, he decides to take some plastic jugs of juice - once they're gone, he can fill them with water again.

"Ah... I've been staying with Takeshi-kun," Kyouko murmurs thoughtfully.

Tsuna looks at her, startled. "Not your house?"

"No," Kyouko says. "My parents are..."

"S-sorry," Tsuna stammers again; he just can't keep his foot out of his mouth, can he.

"Takeshi-kun's father owns that sushi restaurant, remember? It's pretty secure," Kyouko says, changing the subject. "And not too far from other places."

"Are there many... zombies?" Tsuna asks. "This is my first time going out..."

Kyouko looks surprised. "Really? It's been nearly a month since... you know."

Tsuna nods. "Yeah. My mom had a lot of stuff stockpiled."

Kyouko purses her lips. "There aren't as many zombies as there were before, to answer your question," she says. "If Hana and I hadn't met up with Takeshi-kun, who knows what would have happened...?"

Tsuna shivers, remembering the tortured screams that he'd heard in the past. "But we're still here," he says.

"Yes," Kyouko agrees. "We are, aren't we."

A low whistle - probably a bird cry - comes in from the street.

"Ah, that'll be Takeshi-kun," Kyouko whispers. So, it wasn't a bird cry. "I'll go meet him, and tell him you're here. Everyone's a bit on edge."

Tsuna nods. "Yeah."

Kyouko hurries off, her footsteps nearly silent on the linoleum.

A few minutes later, Yamamoto and Kyouko return. Yamamoto has a backpack on, a baseball bat casually leaned against one shoulder and a katana at his hip.

Tsuna stares.

"Yo, Tsuna!" Yamamoto says, giving him a grin.

Tsuna smiles back uncertainly. The baseball bat isn't unexpected - Yamamoto's one of the school's top players - but a katana?

Apparently Yamamoto's more badass than Tsuna knew.

"Kyouko-chan says you're staying with your mom," Yamamoto adds, beckoning Tsuna over. "Hey, a baseball bat! You never tried out for the team."

"Yeah, it's just the two of us," Tsuna agrees quietly. "A-ah, well... To be honest, I was hoping just swinging this wildly would be enough to hold off a zombie."

Yamamoto chuckles. "Not bad. You have to make sure to go for the head, though. They'll keep coming until you mess up the brain."

Tsuna shudders. "R-really?"

"Yeah..." Yamamoto's gaze is a lot more piercing than Tsuna remembers. "Well, maybe you won't have to find out. I haven't seen many around lately."

Tsuna nods. "Hopefully."

"Well, if you're with your mom you probably don't need to come with us. Sounds like you're set up pretty good," Yamamoto remarks, as they cautiously move towards the street.

"Y-you can come stay with us, if you want," Tsuna offers. "I mean, we don't have a huge house, but..."

"Ah, thanks, but we're closer to everything here," Yamamoto says easily.

"And Hana doesn't want to return to the residential district," Kyouko adds quietly. There's a wealth of meaning in her words that Tsuna can't begin to fathom - but he can fill in the blanks pretty well.

Yamamoto's expression sobers. "Right. But if you and your mom want to come join us, feel free! You know where the restaurant is, right?"

Tsuna shakes his head.

"It's a fifteen minute walk," Yamamoto says. "Hey, you want to go now?"

Tsuna bites his lip. It's normally a half hour walk from his house to the supermarket; it took him longer today because he was worried about running into zombies. Add another half hour to Yamamoto's place and back here..?

"I'll walk you back here," Yamamoto offers. "It's better to know, just in case something happens, right?"

Tsuna nods. "Yeah, ok. I can bring this food for you guys too, I can just get more when I come back," he adds.

Kyouko and Yamamoto look surprised, but nod. "Thanks, Tsuna-kun," Kyouko says.

It turns out that Tsuna has passed the sushi restaurant many times before - he hadn't realized that Yamamoto's family ran the modest establishment.

Yamamoto and Kyouko lead him into the alley beside the restaurant. A makeshift barricade has been erected, which Yamamoto scales with ease. Kyouko follows, more carefully, and they direct Tsuna to join them.

Assuming that the zombies are even less coordinated than Tsuna - not exactly a stretch, he's pretty sure - it should be nearly impossible for them to get over. And it's sturdy enough that they couldn't push through either.

"You're late," Kurokawa Hana snaps, the moment the three of them walk in the back door. They're in the kitchen. Her eyes widen when Tsuna enters after Kyouko and Yamamoto, but after coming to the conclusion that he isn't a zombie, she seems to calm.

"Haha, sorry," Yamamoto says, rubbing the back of his neck. "We met Tsuna! That's why we're a little late."

Hana frowns, but this explanation apparently appeases her. "Where have you been staying?" she asks, studying Tsuna with a bit more suspicion than he thinks the situation warrants, really.

Tsuna casts a glance at Kyouko, remembering what she'd said back at the supermarket. He doesn't want to upset Hana - she's a lot scarier than Kyouko, and who knows what the tension of the past few weeks has done for her nerves. Tsuna knows that he himself is a lot more high-strung than he used to be, and that's saying something.

Yamamoto's disappeared upstairs, and judging from the soft noises filtering from the second floor, he's unloading whatever items he'd found.

Kyouko places her bag on the ground and walks up to Hana. She puts a hand on her arm and just says, "Tsuna's been staying at his house, with his mother."

Hana flinches slightly. "Oh." She gives Tsuna a jerky nod and follows Yamamoto. Her sharp tone joins the clamour of Yamamoto's unpacking, but it doesn't seem to bother him, if his chuckles are anything to go by.

"What... happened?" Tsuna asks quietly, as Kyouko leads him further into the kitchen area of the restaurant. So Yamamoto must have been getting items that weren't food...

"With Hana?" Kyouko asks, pulling open a heavy metal door that Tsuna assumes used to lead to the freezer. It's just a room that's slightly cooler than the rest of the building now that the power's off.

"Yeah," Tsuna says. "A-and, is it just the three of you here?"

"Oh, I'm sure Takeshi-kun would never dream of doing anything," Kyouko says lightly.

Tsuna blinks, then feels his cheeks flush as the implications of her words hit him. "That's... not what I meant, Kyouko-san."

"Oh, don't be so formal."

"Please answer the question, Kyouko-chan," Tsuna says, quietly but firmly.

Kyouko's gaze can be surprisingly piercing as well, it seems, but the fierce expression quickly softens. "Ah, I'm sorry, Tsuna-kun. It's so hard to trust people, with everything that's happened, you know."

"Yeah," Tsuna mumbles. He realizes that Kyouko, Yamamoto and Hana are the first people besides his mother that he's seen in... too long. Before this epidemic hit, he wouldn't have dreamed of speaking so candidly with the girl he'd been crushing on since elementary school. Funny how priorities change.

"But I feel like I can trust you. You're reliable, right?" Kyouko's lips curl up, but it's not a smile - it's even less of one than the usual 'smile' that she used to sport at school.

"Well, I try," Tsuna says honestly.

Kyouko nods thoughtfully. "Mm. That's kind of what the problem at school was, wasn't it? You were tired of trying."

Tsuna busies himself with putting the cans of food on the shelves. "You still haven't answered the question, Kyouko-chan."

"Sorry," she repeats, but she doesn't sound particularly apologetic. "You see, after that day at school, Hana and I were looking for Ryouhei-nii. We'd gotten separated from him in the mad dash when everyone was trying to escape. We hid in a dumpster overnight - we couldn't sleep, of course. I think someone was eaten right outside of where we were," she adds, her voice curiously detached. Like this is just a recitation of facts for some school presentation, instead of a terrifying story of survival.

Tsuna bites his lip, trying to suppress the shudder he can feel crawling up his spine. He'd been lucky, so lucky that he'd made it home. He'd barred the front gate, and locked the doors and windows, and hidden inside of his house ever since.

"Well, anyway, Hana and I finally decided to leave the next day. We couldn't stay in a dumpster indefinitely, and I wanted to find Ryouhei-nii. So we left. When we tried to make our way back to the school, however, there were simply too many zombies. I don't think it would be an exaggeration to say that the school was overrun..."

Kyouko pauses, and her gaze is fixed on some invisible point in the past when Tsuna glances up at her.

It's ok, Tsuna wants to say, you don't have to tell me. But he's the one who pushed her.

"They're not very fast. The zombies, I mean. But there were so many of them in the beginning... it was hard not to get cornered. Hana and I ran to our street, because it seemed like there were less zombies away from the school. Thinking about it now, the reason that the residential areas were more deserted is probably because most people were away from home. Anyway, my house was empty. No sign of my parents or Ryouhei-nii. When we checked Hana's, we found her parents' mutilated corpses."

Tsuna winces. It was bad enough seeing his neighbours' corpses in passing, that first day. To find your family murdered in your own home?

He can't imagine it.

"We thought there might be police or SDF, anything, deeper in the city. There were only more zombies, though. Takeshi-kun found us, then, and we barricaded ourselves in here. We've been hiding out here ever since," Kyouko finishes.

"I see," Tsuna says lamely, after a few moments of silence. He can't think of anything better to say. What could he say?

Kyouko shakes her head, as if she's casting those horrible memories aside. "Well," she says, with obviously forced cheer, "It's a bit more excitement than I would have liked."

Tsuna nods. "That's everything," he says, changing the subject. His backpack is empty once more, the various cans and juice stashed away on the freezer's shelves.

Kyouko smiles at him. It's no wonder that the expression looks more brittle than usual, given what she's been through.

In comparison, Tsuna's flight home and subsequent cowering behind locked doors is uneventful. Cowardly, even. No-Good Tsuna. That's about right.

"Shall we go check on Hana and Takeshi-kun?" she asks.

"Ah, sure," Tsuna says. "Hey, um... I have one more question," he mumbles, following her out of the freezer.

Kyouko glances over her shoulder. "Yes?"

"Yamamoto-kun... what happened to his father?"

Kyouko looks troubled for a moment, then she looks forward again, so that Tsuna can't see her face. "I don't know," she says calmly. "I think he taught Takeshi-kun to use that sword just before, well, you know. He wasn't here when Takeshi-kun brought us back, though. And anytime we try to bring it up, Takeshi-kun just deflects the question. So... I can only assume that Yamamoto-san is no longer with us," Kyouko concludes.

Tsuna winces. "You haven't seen any other survivors?"

"None," Kyouko agrees.

That can't be right. It can't just be Tsuna and his mom and these three classmates that survived. Namimori isn't a big city - more of a town, really - but there have to be more survivors than this. Surely...

"Hmph, there you are." Hana's sharp voice breaks into Tsuna's thought. She's standing at the head of the stairs, hands on her hips. "I was beginning to wonder if I should go check on you guys." Her distrustful gaze is directed solely upon Tsuna.

"J-just what are you suggesting?" Tsuna says, gratified to hear that his voice doesn't squeak or break. Now if only he could get this stupid blush to go away...

Kyouko giggles. "I'm sure Tsuna-kun would be a perfect gentleman, Hana."

Hana scoffs. "Well, come up then. I think that baseball freak is almost done."

Almost done what? Tsuna wonders, but before he can ask Yamamoto steps into the hall behind Hana.

His face is unusually grave - Tsuna would almost think that he looked angry, but he's never actually seen Yamamoto look anything other than good-natured. "Bad news," he says. "I still need a few more things."

Hana spins around. "You said-"

"I know what I said. I was wrong," Yamamoto says. From anyone else, that tone would have been impatient.

"Hana-chan," Kyouko says brightly, hurrying to her side. For lack of a better thing to do (and hoping to figure out what the heck they're talking about) Tsuna follows. "It's ok, we can still go look for more supplies. Takeshi-kun said he was going to walk Tsuna-kun back anyhow."

"I don't want you to go out again!" There's a definite note of hysteria in her voice. "What if- what if-"

"There's a lot fewer zombies than there used to be," Kyouko says soothingly. "In fact, we didn't even see any when we went out today! Right, boys?"

"Yeah," Tsuna puts in quickly.

Yamamoto doesn't say anything.

"Is it something you need right away?" Tsuna asks. "I mean, if you don't think there's enough daylight left, you can always wait until tomorrow to go get it," he adds, when they all turn to look at him.

Yamamoto exhales, not quite a sigh. "Tsuna's right! I know that I saw the part I need, but I didn't think I needed it then. But if I have to go back and grab it, it'll go more smoothly because I know where to look."

"You should have just grabbed it on the off chance that you'd need it," Hana mutters.

"It's not like Takeshi-kun could grab everything in the electronics shop, Hana-chan," Kyouko points out.

"Well, I'll walk Tsuna back to the supermarket, and decide if I have time to go after it when we get there," Yamamoto says, slipping past them to descend the stairs.

"If you think you can't do it, don't risk it," Hana says. "What would we do if you got yourself killed, Yamamoto!"

He laughs. "I know, I know. I don't plan on getting killed."

Tsuna hopes that he's just imagining the tension in Yamamoto's voice, but he probably isn't.

"So... what are you trying to build?" Tsuna asks quietly, unable to stop himself from scanning every nook and cranny that they pass. Just because they haven't seen any zombies lately doesn't mean that they're all gone. "Or fix, I guess? It's something electronic..."

Yamamoto glances at him. "I'm trying to get this radio to work. It's an old thing, battery-operated... I think the government might be broadcasting something over the radio?" He shrugs. "Maybe it'll work, maybe it won't. But Hana needs that hope right now."

Tsuna bites his lip. "I see..."

"So, hey, I think we should agree to meet up, you know? Us survivors should stick together, right?"

"Yeah," Tsuna agrees, although he'd really just like nothing better than to lock himself back into his house and never leave again. But that's just not practical.

"Ok, so... Let's meet back here in two days, then. We'll try for noon. If it doesn't work out, we'll come back the next day, same time?" Yamamoto suggests.

"Mm." Tsuna catches himself chewing on his lip and forces himself to stop. At this rate it'll start bleeding, and he really doesn't know if zombies have an enhanced sense of smell. With his luck, they probably do, and then he'd be dead meat. It'd be better to just not risk it.

The rest of the walk passes in silence. It's not an easy one; Tsuna longs to start up the conversation again, but what else is there to say? And voices might draw the zombies.

Yamamoto helps him repack his backpack, then bids him goodbye at the edge of the shopping district.

"See you in two days, Tsuna," he says, but he doesn't even try to force a smile like he had for the girls.

Tsuna nods, trying not to show how uncertain he feels. If anything, the utter lack of zombies is only serving to put him more on edge rather than easing his nerves. But it doesn't make sense to ask Yamamoto to walk back to his house with him, then go back alone to the restaurant.

"Later," he says; neither of them comment on the way his voice squeaks on the word.

When he glances back over his shoulder just before he rounds the corner, Yamamoto has already disappeared. Despite the sunshine, Tsuna shivers.

The feeling of foreboding only increases, until Tsuna thinks that his stomach might cramp from the way it's flipping around. That's the last thing he needs.

You're almost home. You made it this far, it's going to be fine, he tells himself, scanning the street warily. His ears are straining for the slightest sound of another being, but all he can hear is the soft scuffing of his shoes and his own increasingly short breathing.

No background traffic noise, or the low roar of a plane overhead, or even a short strain of birdsong.


Tsuna squeezes his eyes shut briefly, but quickly opens them again when he realizes what he's done. It's stupid. What happened to his pleasure at finding other survivors? He hasn't seen a single zombie; the only moving things he's seen were his classmates.

Despite the unremarkable street of identical houses, Tsuna recognizes his own instantly. He hurries up to the gate, glances around the yard (the gate's closed, like he left it, but it doesn't hurt to be careful) and finds it empty. He eases open the gate and locks it behind him.

For once, he doesn't fumble with his keys trying to get them into the lock. The fact is surprising, considering that he only has one free hand; even this close to home, he doesn't want to put down the baseball bat.

The lock unbolts easily, and he slips inside. It slides shut again with a comfortingly final click, and Tsuna allows himself to breathe a sigh of relief.

The interior smells faintly of lavender; his mother likes the scent. He'd been inside for so long that he no longer noticed it, but emerging from the smoky, heavy air outside makes the contrast especially strong.

Tsuna drops his backpack on the ground and leans back against the door with his eyes closed, basking in the familiar atmosphere. He's sweaty and dirty, and if it wasn't for the utter silence outside, Tsuna could just be coming home from another day at school.

The grime can be explained by his general clumsiness, and another trying period of PE. If he doesn't end up tripping over nothing and falling in the dirt, odds are someone would've done it for him. The backpack would be a more common book bag, full of homework that Tsuna would inevitably try but end up not completing, and his stress would be from whether or not his mom would remember to ask him about school or not.

Things seemed so easy back then.

Tsuna pushes that thought from his mind, a bit surprised to find a wistful smile on his face. He hefts the backpack in one hand and starts for the kitchen.

"I'm home, mom!" he calls, quieter than he usually would, but they're pretty safe in the house.

Deafening silence greets him.

Tsuna feels the smile slip off his face, as grim reality sneaks back in. His mom was probably just asleep. She's been sleeping a lot, lately. Ever since they stopped hearing the screams.

He leaves the backpack on the kitchen table - he can always unpack it later, it's not as if he has anything better to do - and pads upstairs. His socked feet don't make much noise; his mom used to nag him about wearing his house slippers, but details like that had slipped through the cracks by now.

"... Mom?" he calls cautiously, not wanting to startle her. The door to the master bedroom is ajar. This is a good sign, he's sure. She hasn't been leaving her room much, and Tsuna knows he closed the door behind himself. That means she went out on her own, without his coaxing.

"Mom?" he repeats, peering into the bedroom. It's empty. The sheets are mussed, which his mother hated; she was always tidying things up. But the finer details have fallen by the wayside; Tsuna's just glad that she's up and about.

The bathroom is empty, as is his own bedroom when he thinks to check it.

She would have heard him come in if she'd been on the main floor, and would have answered his greeting. The only place up here that he hasn't checked is his father's office.

As a general rule, Tsuna liked to pretend that his father doesn't exist. He'd thought he was dead, or at least missing. What kind of no-good asshole let their kid believe that of them? But his mother had managed to get in touch with him before the phone lines went dead, and was adamant that he would come for his wife and son.

Tsuna, remembering the sporadic incidents when his father was home (always turning up unannounced), was rather doubtful on that regard. As far as Tsuna was concerned, his father was unreliable at best. That was being rather generous about it.

When he wasn't giggling with mom or getting drunk, Tsuna's father spent most of his time in the third bedroom, which had been converted into an office for him. Tsuna avoided it - the bookshelves were stocked with literature that he was absolutely certain that his father had never opened, much less read. It was like he was pretending to actually have worthwhile employment, instead of the shady job that he actually had.

A lot like how he played at being a father whenever the mood struck.

Tsuna hesitates before the door, but it's slightly ajar. Apart from when his mother goes in to clean, the door is always closed.

There's something red on the floor.

Tsuna freezes, hand on the doorknob. The floors within are hardwood, like the rest of the house. His mom always made sure that they sparkled; even though she hasn't been maintaining the high standard these past few weeks, that's no reason for it to be red. Dull and faintly dusty, maybe.

Open the door. Don't open the door. Open the door, he screams at himself. He doesn't even know what he wants.

Maybe one of those fancy, unopened, unread books fell off the shelf and he can see its red cover.

But that looks a lot like -

the pool leaking from his neighbour's slack mouth; Tsuna stands frozen, caught in the sightless gaze, before a distant scream rouses him and rushes into the house

- blood.

No. No no nonono

Tsuna rushes in - it's probably not what he's thinking, he tells himself, he's just jumping to conclusions - and stops. The door rebounds off the wall from the force of his entrance, and he raises his elbow reflexively to stop it smacking into him.

He's just working on automatic at that point.

Sawada Nana's body is lying facedown on the floor. The side of her head is just- just-

Tsuna looks away, unable to comprehend the scene before him. There's a handgun in her hand. He stares at that, focuses his entire attention on it because thinking about anything else is unacceptable.

That solved the mystery of how his mother- no, he wasn't thinking about that.

How had she gotten a gun? Tsuna's never even seen one before, outside of the video games he used to play.

He certainly wouldn't have expected his mother to have - to have had - to have one.

Tsuna's gaze travels across the rest of the room, skipping over the corp- his mom like she wasn't even there. A single sheet of paper is sitting in the middle of the otherwise empty desk. The closet's open, too. Tsuna can't remember the closet ever being open. He dismisses the detail as insignificant and walks over toe the desk.

I'm sorry, Tsu-kun. Please trust your father and wait for him.

That's it. That's all the note says.

Tsuna crumples it in his fist, then stares at the way his hand shakes. After a moment, he smoothes the sheet out again, lingering on the delicate, familiar writing. He doesn't know how long he stands there, studying his mother's last words.

The sun is slipping towards the horizon when he finally moves. The room smells metallic, from mo- the blood.

He stares at the body, but only for a moment. His stomach growls, reminding him that he hasn't eaten since that morning. He'd made breakfast, and brought some up for his mother. After, he'd prepared to go out.

(Would this have happened if he hadn't left?)

Tsuna swallows the bile that rises in his throat and runs out of the room. His socks slip on the smooth floor and he nearly falls down the stairs.

His eyes sting, but the tears won't come. His stomach growls again. How perverse is that? His mom killed herself because he left her alone and his stupid body keeps functioning, like nothing's wrong.

He slumps against the wall at the foot of the stairs, ignoring his hunger and the bruises from tripping down the stairs. He can see the backpack from the day's expedition sitting innocently on the kitchen table. There's just enough light left in the day to shine perfectly on the table, illuminating the pack.

The note is still clutched in his hand, crumpled once more from his attempts not to fall. Tsuna smoothes it out, folds it as carefully as he can, and tucks it into his shirt pocket, above his heart.

This isn't how things were supposed to turn out.

His stomach growls again. Tsuna thumps his head back against the wall once, twice, three times. Then, with a sigh, he stands and walks into the kitchen. There's only a little bit of light left today; he can't risk using flashlights to make food or eat, because it might attract zombies.

His mom wouldn't want him to go hungry.

Tsuna eats a can of vegetables mechanically. Afterwards, his stomach has stopped growling, but he doesn't remember the taste. If pressed, he wouldn't have been able to say which vegetables it was he'd been eating.

He prepares for bed the same way, working on automatic. He catches himself halfway down the hall to his mom's room, going to bid her goodnight out of habit.

He bites his lip and goes back to his room. He curls up under his blanket, certain that sleep will elude him.

Tsuna wakes in the middle of the night, his eyes flying open. They strain in the darkness, but there's no glow from the streetlight outside. The moon is about half-full, so it's not completely dark, but hardly enough to make out the details of his room that Tsuna has memorized. His mom always nags him to clean it, but then he loses track of where things are and it's much less efficient and-

His mom is dead.

Tsuna presses his fist against his mouth and squeezes his eyes shut tightly. Why did he have to wake up just to remember something horrible like that?

(What kind of terrible son was he that he'd managed to forget in the first place?)

There was something else that he'd noticed in the office, though. It seemed insignificant compared to his mom's note, but...

Tsuna sits up, throwing the blanket off. It's cool, but he ignores the prickling of goose bumps rising on his exposed skin.

He gropes for the flashlight on the bedside table, acting on a half-formed idea that he has yet to think through. He's standing in the doorway to the office before he realizes it.

Tsuna pauses, trying to remember where the body is. He doesn't want to step on his mom. God, he should've moved her. She deserves better than the floor of her erstwhile husband's office. Why didn't Tsuna move her?

He'll do it after he finds out what's in the closet.

He closes the door behind him and gives the middle of the office a wide berth, feeling his way around with a hand. The moon is on the other side of the house, so very little light filters through the window. He closes the blinds tightly, then makes his way to the closet.

The door slides open smoothly, but it's far too dark for Tsuna to make anything out. He presses a palm over the top of the flashlight and flicks it on. It's not terribly bright, so hopefully none of the light will be visible outside the window.

He could always wait until morning, but some reckless part of him says that he's the only one here, so even if zombies find him, the only person he's endangering is himself.

Tsuna shines the light inside.

There's a metal cabinet sitting before him. It's taller than he is, extending all the way to the ceiling and has a lock. There's a small key is inside of it, and the double doors swing open when Tsuna pulls on them.

It's a rack of guns.

He stares in disbelief.

It explains how his mom committed suicide but...

Why the hell is there a rack of guns in the middle of his house? In the closet of his dad's office?!

Are they his dad's?

Tsuna picks one up gingerly, absently recognizing the make and model from all the video games that he's played. Maybe his dad will make it here, if he works with guns like this.

But it's a little late for that, isn't it? The one person that actually believed in Sawada Iemitsu is gone.