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

Notes: The first parts of this chapter may look familiar; that's because I recycled them from Necessity. It's basically an alternate chapter 2 that has Hayato run into Yamamoto and the girls rather than Tsuna when he enters Namimori.

Warnings for: suicide, in this chapter. Again.


Iridescent


It's not a good day. It hasn't been a good fucking week.

Hell, it's been a fucking awful month.

"There'll probably be less zombies in the country!" some genius said, back in Tokyo.

To be fair, it had made sense at the time. The countryside was less populated, so there'd be less sustenance for the zombies. (And for the humans fleeing them.)

The less said about their escape from Tokyo the better. In a city that claustrophobic, every corner was a deathtrap, a mob of zombies waiting to happen. They'd lost more than half their group just making it to the suburbs. On foot, of course. The streets were choked with wrecks and bodies; it would've been impossible to drive a vehicle out. The trains had stopped running not long after the panic set in.

Then they'd come across an abandoned train. Obviously, there had been passengers, but there must have been infected people aboard. There was blood smeared on the windows and rotting corpses all over the place, but the same genius had said, "I think I can make it run!"

Everyone thought it would be a good idea.

They'd managed to crash the train. Well, it wasn't really anyone's fault, exactly. It was just that they'd forgotten more than one train ran on a line at the same time.

What remained of their group (the count had dwindled down to less than ten) made it out more or less unscathed, but the commotion managed to summon all of the zombies nearby.

There were less zombies than in the city, but in a country where guns were only carried by the police, it was actually really fucking difficult to fend them off.

The genius had, through some means or anything, managed to lay his hands upon a not insignificant stock of dynamite. They managed to get rid of most of the zombies and ran for it; the sound of the explosions would no doubt have alerted even more zombies.

Their group continued to shed survivors, until it was just the genius and his sister stumbling onwards, scrounging for food (there wasn't much) and struggling to stay alive (a nigh-impossible feat).

"Hayato," his sister says quietly. They haven't spoken loudly since... since...

(Since Hayato had pressed a hand over his sister's mouth to stop her frantic screams for her boyfriend; Romeo was dead, or as good as, and there had been nothing they could do except turn around and keep running.)

Hayato grits his teeth, not for the first time lamenting his lack of cigarettes. "What, hag," he mutters, glancing at her. He doesn't want to hear it. He already knows what she's going to say.

He'd seen the blood, caught sight of the bite mark when his sister rolled back her sleeve to wash her arm earlier.

God fucking dammit.

Bianchi stares at him in silence, her gaze as sharp and clear as ever. The fog of grief that had lingered in her eyes had lifted. Hayato supposes being faced with one's mortality will do that to a person.

"There's a town two kilometres ahead." She gestures at the sign on the side of the road. Apparently they need to take the next right. Well, no thanks.

"So what? There's probably just more zombies," Hayato says. "Let's move on."

"Hayato..."

"I don't care!" he snaps, surprising both of them with his sharp tone. He inhales heavily and looks away.

"We don't have enough food to last," Bianchi says after a few moments. "Even if it's only... only one person."

"Shut up," Hayato mutters half-heartedly.

"There might be survivors," his sister continues doggedly. The forced cheer in her voice only aggravates the anger and fear that has been itching beneath Hayato's skin for far too long. He just wants to scream or cry - or both - but who knows what's lurking around waiting for easy prey. "Hayato, you have to-"

"I don't owe you a fucking thing!" he snarls lowly.

Bianchi flinches, which gives Hayato equal parts gratification and regret, but then her expression hardens. "Maybe you don't," she says coolly, something almost haughty in her bearing now. If it wasn't for the accumulated filth from their weeks of fleeing, Hayato could imagine her in the parlour of their old house, holding court with their father's cronies. "But I'm dying, so I think I'm permitted a bit of selfishness."

The blunt phrasing almost throws Hayato off, but he rallies. "Like you've been so selfless before, hag!"

"Just listen to what I have to say," Bianchi says, far too calm. Is the infection already taking root? Usually whenever one of them (typically Bianchi; Hayato wants nothing more than to forget everything) brings up the past, they end up in screaming matches. Then again, the other infected but not yet zombified survivors that they'd encountered had acted normal right before trying to eat their former comrades alive.

His older sister just doesn't understand that Hayato wants nothing to do with his so-called family. She's dogged in her pursuit of him, and if Hayato didn't have such strong memories of home-cooked meals lovingly prepared by her, he might give in to Bianchi's determined attempts at reconciliation. Luckily, just the sight of her is enough to get his stomach roiling.

(Of course, if it wasn't for him, Bianchi wouldn't have even been in Japan at all.)

"Fine," he bites out. His Pavlovian reaction to seeing her face has all but disappeared, now that he thinks about it. The fear of eating poisoned food fades in the face of running for his life, he supposes. Or it could be that her face is nearly unrecognizable now.

"I lost some of them when we were running... But I do have a few left." Bianchi slips her bag off her shoulders and pulls out a handful of envelopes.

Hayato stares at them, recognizing the handwriting although he hasn't seen it in years. They're more than ten years old, written (or at least addressed) by their father, to his mother. To the mistress.

"What are they," he says, making no move to take them.

"Love letters," Bianchi answers. "Our father wrote them to your mother." She doesn't sound sad, or upset, which she really should. Her mother, their father's lawful wife, was still around when Hayato was born. As far as he knows, she was still alive before this epidemic started.

"... No way," Hayato mutters, turning away. He scans their surroundings, but the forest around them is silent. He doesn't quite wish for more zombies to show up because he isn't that pathetic, but it's a close thing. Fuck, he does not want to discuss this. "So you were just carrying that garbage around all this time?"

"It's not garbage, Hayato!" A hint of impatience has entered Bianchi's voice. "I know you think your mother's death was arranged by our father, but that isn't the case."

"Oh, so he didn't mean to keep me separated from her!" Hayato snaps, grinding his teeth together. The next chance he gets, he's going to find some cigarettes. If only to have something to do with his hands.

"It was your mother who turned down Father's marriage proposal," Bianchi continues, like she hasn't heard a word Hayato's said. "You mother was terminally ill. She left you and Father because she didn't want to be a burden. But Father continued to write her letters, in the hopes that the three of you would be able to spend time with each other again. She died and drove her car over that cliff."

Hayato stiffens. He only has a few hazy memories of his mother. She died when he was three years old after all - and he didn't even know she was his mother until years afterward. This is just... too much. As if it's not bad enough that he's about to lose his half-sister, resented or not, now he has to learn that the man he's hated for most of his life apparently didn't deserve it?

"You were born into this world loved by both of your parents, Hayato," Bianchi says earnestly.

"Great," Hayato says, clenching and relaxing his fists compulsively. He tries to make himself stop and fails.

"Promise me you'll live. Or at least try to. Don't give up," Bianchi says.

"You think I'm going to off myself just because you're going to be dead? I should be happy not to have to listen to you anymore," Hayato snaps. Sometimes he surprises himself with how self-destructive he can be.

Bianchi looks like he just slapped her.

"All right," he says. He can't apologize. He won't apologize. "I'll do my best, ok? I promise. That's what you want to hear, right?"

Bianchi exhales, not quite a sigh. "Yes, Hayato. That's what I want to hear. Since you're in such a magnanimous mood, maybe you can take these from me too. It's not like I'll be needing them soon."

Hayato winces, but it's a lot less harsh than he deserved. "Yeah. Thanks," he mutters, slipping his bag off and stuffing them into the main pouch. It's depressingly empty otherwise, evidence of their prolonged absence from civilization. The only reason they were still alive at this point is because Bianchi's a cooking genius and can recognize nearly every kind of plant, edible or otherwise. Thankfully she seems to have given up trying to poison him.

"And this." Bianchi passes him some almost-fresh plants that she had been carrying, and a mostly-full canteen of water. "Not like I'll need them." And then she pulls a fucking handgun out of her bag.

"What the fuck?" Hayato sputters. "Why didn't you-"

"There's only one shot left," Bianchi says calmly. But Hayato can see her hands shaking. "I think we should split up. You get as far away as possible. I'll... end it. The noise should bring any zombies in the area to me anyway. Win-win."

"Yeah, for me," Hayato says heatedly. "Like hell! I'm not leaving you before you... before the end. Just give me the damn gun already."

Bianchi's lips twitch at the corners, like she's trying to smile. Her eyes are bright with tears. "No, Hayato. That's too much to ask of you. Even if you do hate being around me so much." She manages to smirk. "There's a town not far ahead. You can find supplies, maybe you'll even find survivors... You promised me, remember?"

Hayato blinks rapidly. His eyes are burning. Probably allergies. Spring's in full swing now; there's pollen and shit in the air or something. "Bianchi..."

She sniffs and drags her wrist over her eyes. The accumulated blood and dirt smears. Fuck, she's crying. Hayato looks away. "Just do it, Hayato."

"I don't want to!" he snarls at her.

Bianchi shakes her head. "It's not like I want to leave you either. But this is the best way, don't you see?"

Hayato can see just fine. "No," he mutters, but his tone is defeated.

"I'm sorry. And I know that this might be hard to believe, but I love you. I don't blame you for... for anything."

Hayato stiffens when she wraps her arms around him, his instincts screaming for him to get away (what if she bites him) but he stays still.

"Good luck, Hayato."

"I'm gonna need more than luck," he says sullenly, hiking his backpack onto his shoulders again. He'd been carrying more a few weeks ago, but those few plants and the canteen feel unbearably heavy now. "... Same to you, Bianchi."

Bianchi bites her lip and turns away from him. "Get going."

"... Yeah." He can see the exit up ahead, the sign above it helpfully informing him that this route will lead him to Namimori.

But does Hayato really want to go to Namimori? It's not like he has much choice in the matter, though.

When he glances back over his shoulder, he's just in time to see Bianchi disappearing into the trees on the opposite side of the road.

"Goodbye," he mutters, allowing himself a few moments to stare at the place where his sister had been before pragmatism forces him to move forward.

Less than two kilometres to town. He can see a few high rise buildings rising ahead of him. From this distance, it's impossible to see the broken windows and other signs of damage that he's sure are there. Well, like Bianchi said, he can't survive without going into town for more supplies.


Hayato's just reached the first outlying houses when the shot goes off. He flinches and immediately looks around. The number of abandoned vehicles has increased - a wreck not far down the highway explains it. No one could get out after that kind of accident.

There aren't any zombies around yet, but they tend to move towards any loud noises. Hayato's not counting on this area to remain zombie-free for long. He picks up his pace, forcing his breathing to remain calm. He'll need to maintain his stamina for when any do appear. The houses are all broken in - there's no likely places to hide. He'll have to go deeper to find some place to take refuge.

The scrape of broken glass against the ground alerts him to the first arrival... Arrivals. A trio of zombies staggers out of the front gate that he passed a few minutes ago. Hayato ducks behind an overturned car, his heart hammering in his ears.

Why did he think coming into town would be a good idea again? Fuck.

They haven't noticed him, and are moving out of the town. Hayato mumbles a prayer to whatever being above that's watching over him and moves on.

He's not so lucky the next time. Half a dozen zombies appear at the other end of the street. From the moans and cries that they give out, Hayato knows that he's been spotted. With the racket they're making, he's sure any other zombies in the area will now know that there's a convenient meal around.

Fuck.

Hayato glances down the nearest side street - empty for now - and runs.

It's inefficient - he should go deeper into town, and the fastest way would be the street he's just left behind - but once again he has no choice in the matter. The first chance he gets, he takes a street heading towards the centre of town. When he glances back, the number of zombies following him has swelled to twenty or so.

More zombies appear from behind an abandoned car in front of him.

Fuck.

Hayato flinches but doesn't stop; there's less in front than there are behind him. They're moving slowly enough and don't seem to have noticed the boy running at them just yet.

Hayato jumps up onto the trunk, makes the roof in his next step, and lands unscathed on the other side. Confused, the zombies bump into each other and the car trying to get at him. He doesn't wait long enough to see if they manage to untangle themselves.

Every gate he passes is just another trap waiting to be sprung, but Hayato can't stop to check. He sticks to the middle of the street, scanning the area ahead of him as best as he can.

"Get down!" someone says.

Hayato just has time to look up - there's a boy about his age, maybe a little younger, crouched atop the fence to the left. The guy's holding a machine gun, what the fuck!? Hayato throws himself towards the ground below the boy and not a moment later he hears the boy open fire on the zombies.

He's skinned the palms of his hands, but for the moment he ignores the feeling of grit pressing into his flesh as he peeks at the decimated mob. The boy's aim wasn't very good - he can see where the spray of bullets went wide, hitting the fence lining the road rather than the zombies - but aim isn't exactly important when an automatic weapon is concerned.

The boy exhales and drops down onto the sidewalk beside Hayato. The gun trembles in his grasp, thankfully pointed at the ground. "Ah, as if I just... Did I really...?" the boy mumbles, his eyes wide as he stares at the carnage further down the street.

Hayato pushes himself up, ignoring the protest of his knees - shit, he skinned one of them too. "Come on," he says impatiently. "Every zombie in the area is going to be coming this way!" he adds, more loudly, when it becomes obvious that his first words haven't penetrated whatever daze the other boy is in.

"Wha...? O-oh. Of course." The boy's gaze sharpens as he takes in Hayato's appearance. "Are you... infected?"

"No," Hayato says. "Now, let's go!"

The sharp gaze fades, leaving a confused boy behind. "Wh-where?"

"Wherever you've been staying!" Hayato snarls. "Is it around here?!"

"Right. Yeah. Right," the boy says. "This way, uh... I don't know your name."

"Introductions can wait!" Hayato snaps, frustrated. What the hell kind of space case is this kid?! Though he did just save Hayato's life... "Do you have another gun?"

"Yeah," the boy repeats, pulling a semi-automatic handgun out. He hands it to Hayato, no questions asked.

Hayato resists the urge to roll his eyes as he takes it. It's not, he notes absently, the same model that Bianchi had had. (Thoughts about Bianchi can wait.) "Can we go?" he demands, giving the boy a shove to get the point across.

The boy nods and runs up the street, the same way Hayato had been going before the boy saved him. He's not that fast - Hayato could probably outpace him - but he seems to know where he's going. And he has superior firepower, so hey, Hayato's fine with following at a slightly slower pace.

"It's just up ahead," the boy says, out of breath. He points to one of the house in front of them, but they all look the same to Hayato.

"Great," Hayato says, relaxing.

A zombie lurches out of a gate beside them in the brief moment between the boy passing and Hayato reaching it. It claws at Hayato, fixing his left arm in a surprisingly powerful grip. He fumbles with the gun, pressing it against the zombie's forehead but the trigger won't depress.

(He has to undo the safety-)

The boy gives a hoarse cry and smashes the zombie with the butt of his own weapon. It claws at the boy with its empty hand. The boy rams the gun into its other arm; the bone gives way with a sickening crunch. It staggers away a few steps and releases Hayato's arm. The boy levels the gun and shoots it in the head.

Gore splatters both of them; Hayato's just glad he managed to shut his mouth before any of it hit him.

Hayato thumbs off the safety and takes out a zombie that has just rounded the corner ahead of them. At least he's still a decent marksman, for all that he hasn't handled a gun in... a long time.

"Oh my god, oh my god ohmygod..." The boy's face is splattered with blood - it's not as bad as Hayato's, but judging by the looks of him he probably hasn't taken out many zombies before today, unlike Hayato.

"Hey! We're close, right? Let's go before more zombies show up," Hayato says sharply. The boy can freak out to his heart's content when they're somewhere relatively safer.

The boy shakes his head and stumbles away, his face decidedly green.

"Don't throw up," Hayato warns, gazing up and down the street. He doesn't want to get caught off guard again.

"It's here," the boy says unsteadily.

Hayato picks off two more curious zombies and ducks inside the gate. Sawada, the nameplate beside the gate reads. The name sounds vaguely familiar, but since recognition doesn't come immediately and it obviously doesn't matter right this second, Hayato pushes the thought out of his mind.

The boy locks the gate with clumsy fingers and they run up to the front door together.

This house is unremarkable, nearly identical to the other houses on the street in every respect. The windows are unbroken, and it doesn't seem damaged, which is unusual but not unheard of. Some of the other houses look relatively unscathed as well.

The boy's hands are shaking so badly that he can't get the key in the lock. Hayato snatches the ring from his fingers and unlocks the door himself. He shoves the boy in then follows him inside, locking the door behind them.

The boy slumps in the corner of the modest entryway, a blank expression on his features.

Hayato peeks through the window, but the only sounds are their harsh breathing. A few zombies wander past, but none of them pay special attention to this house.

"I think we're good," Hayato breathes. "Kid?"

The boy doesn't react. If he hears anything Hayato's said, he gives no indication of it.

Well, it's not like Hayato hasn't seen reactions like this before, although he's never had to help someone through it before. That task always fell to Bianchi. She's not here now, so Hayato's just going to have to give it his best shot.

He cautiously lays a hand on the boy's gun, and when he doesn't tense up, eases it out of his grasp. He places it on the floor, out of quick reach, and then pulls one of the boy's arms over his shoulder.

Thankfully, this isn't one of those houses with excessive windows, and most of them are covered anyway. Hayato climbs to his feet, pulling the boy with him. He spares another glance outside: there are zombies in the street but they're milling about aimlessly.

Safe, for now.

"Bathroom..." Hayato mutters to himself, half-carrying the boy to the staircase. His legs move sluggishly, almost but not quite helping their progress. Maybe he's not completely catatonic.

Climbing the stairs seems to take an eternity.

"The third one squeaks," the boy notes detachedly.

Hayato manages to get them successfully around it, and then they're standing at the end of the second floor hall. "So, which one's the bathroom?" he asks.

No reply. Hayato sighs and starts for the nearest door; it's open, revealing an adolescent bedroom. Probably this kid's. He continues, checking the one across the hall. It's the bathroom.

Hayato checks the taps, surprised but pleased to find the water still running. Ignoring the sting, Hayato quickly washes his hands free of grit. They're not bleeding at all, thankfully - the skin is just tender.

He runs a cloth under the water - cold, but the electricity's out so of course it would be - and wipes the grime off the boy's face. His shirt's ruined, courtesy of that last gory headshot, but the pants are probably salvageable.

Washing someone else's hair is a strange experience, but the boy did just save Hayato's life. Twice. Not many people would jump into the fray like that - usually if a zombie gets its hands on someone, they're a goner. Hayato and Bianchi stuck together out of some bizarre familial obligation, but this boy doesn't know Hayato from Adam.

He props the boy up in the corner behind the door, wearing nothing but his grimy shoes and mildly bloodstained pants. Still no reaction.

Hayato runs a hand through his hair, grimacing when it sticks, fingers tangling in the matted strands. He gives his reflection a good look, disgusted but not surprised at how filthy he is.

By the time he's done washing up, his skin is shrivelled and no matter how many times he wrings the cloth out, it won't come clean. He's gaunt almost to the point of being skeletal, his hair shaggier than he really likes, but alive. Unhealthy, certainly, but still breathing.

"Ah... Where...?"

Hayato pulls a towel around his hips - he doesn't want to put the rags that remain of his jeans back on, but some modesty's probably in order.

"You're in your house. The bathroom," Hayato says. "... Can I borrow some pants?"


The boy lends Hayato a full set of clothes. The pants are an inch or two short, and the shirt is tight around his shoulders, but it's clean and soft and Hayato's not about to complain about it.

"I'm Gokudera Hayato," he says, after they've both finished dressing. "Sorry for my rudeness earlier."

"Sawada Tsunayoshi... Most people call me Tsuna," the boy replies, offering Hayato a shy, fragile smile. "And there's no need to apologize. You... probably saved my life."

Not wanting the boy - Sawada-san, Hayato corrects himself - to blank out again, and also because it's true, Hayato quickly says, "I was only able to do so because of you, Sawada-san! You saved me not just once, but twice. Not many people would go back for someone in a zombie's clutches."

Tsuna flinches, an expression that Hayato can only interpret as guilty flickering across his face. "That..." he trails off. Then he adds, "Please just call me Tsuna."

Hayato blinks, his only display of confusion at the strange reaction. What is there to be guilty about? Or perhaps he feels like Hayato's gratitude is misplaced...? In any case, if his saviour doesn't want to discuss what happened, Hayato will honour his wishes. "Of course, Tsuna-san."

"So formal..." Tsuna mumbles. "Do you live in Namimori, Hayato-san?"

"No," Hayato says. "I-" ran away from home and ended up causing my sister's death when she followed me here "-was living in Tokyo when this epidemic started."

Tsuna nods. "If you don't want to talk about it, I understand... I don't even want to remember everything that's happened since... and I've barely left the house." He laughs shakily, glancing towards the bedroom door.

Hayato doesn't really know how to answer that. "It's fortunate that you were able to stay here," he says, settling for something vague and polite. Tsuna doesn't seem like the type to kick a fellow survivor out but Hayato's going to try and stay on his good side anyway.

"I guess," Tsuna mutters, averting his eyes. He doesn't sound terribly convinced.

Hayato's racking his mind for some other safe topic to bring up when Tsuna suddenly turns to him.

"Are you hungry?"

Hayato nods, a little too eagerly. The motion is motivated partly by hunger and partly by his relief at finding a relatively neutral topic of conversation.

Tsuna smiles weakly once more and leads him to the kitchen. There's a backpack full of canned food and some juice sitting on the table.

Hayato's stomach growls at the sight and he feels his cheeks flush. He can't remember the last time he was embarrassed.

"Have as much as you want," Tsuna says, pulling a can opener out of a drawer and holding it out to him. "There's more where it came from."

"I shouldn't," Hayato says, but he takes the instrument and opens a can of cold beans anyway. He barely has the mind to take the fork Tsuna offers him before he starts wolfing the vegetables down.

"It's fine," Tsuna mutters, watching him eat with a curiously detached expression on his face. Hayato barely notices before he finishes the can, swallowing the slightly sour water at the bottom of the tin without so much as a grimace.

"... Aren't you hungry, Tsuna-san?"

"Not really." Tsuna frowns slightly. "Not after, well..." He gestures vaguely behind Hayato, towards the front of the house. And the zombie he'd blown to bits not that long ago.

Hayato nods, berating himself for forgetting something like that so quickly. Just because he's safe for now doesn't mean he can let his guard down like this. He doesn't want to upset his host either. "Of course, forgive my thoughtlessness..." He stares down at the empty can in his hand. He's almost unbearably thirsty now, since he has the luxury to think about that and not worry about zombies coming upon him.

Tsuna pours him a glass of water from the sink and hands it to him. "All that running..." He trails off and shrugs awkwardly.

At least Hayato's not the only one who's not that tactful. The liquid is cool when Hayato swallows, and fresh in a way the too-warm bottles he and Bianchi had been carrying around just hadn't been.

"You should probably try to eat something, Tsuna-san," Hayato remarks, not just because he wants an excuse to continue indulging himself. "Who knows what might happen... Things can change in an instant."

Tsuna nods with obvious reluctance and opens his own can of vegetables. "Maybe between the two of us we'll do all right," he says between bites. Once he starts eating, it becomes obvious that he's ravenous, because he's going through the can almost as quickly as Hayato had.

All this food, and he'd chosen not to eat? Hayato frowns but files that information away for future consideration. "I hope so," he says. The fervency in his voice stems from more than his desire to stay on Tsuna's good side.

"I've got the firepower, you've got the smarts," Tsuna adds, and it would be a joke except for the bitter tone of his voice.

"You've survived this long," Hayato interjected. "There's nothing wrong with hiding! I just didn't have that chance, back in Tokyo. It was too urbanized."

Tsuna nods, though he doesn't look overly convinced again. "The television was still broadcasting a few days after things went bad here. They said the infection originated in Tokyo."

This makes sense to Hayato; he's never been one to keep up with the world news - beyond masochistically combing Italian news sites for mentions of his family - but if this epidemic had begun before, he would surely have heard something about it. "Was there any other information?"

"Not really." Tsuna's fork grates against the bottom of the can; he opens another and consumes it with the same gusto. "There was speculation that someone infected came to Japan, because supposedly there was a similar situation elsewhere. But that's all I remember."

Hayato sits back, mulling the details over. "You don't remember where, Tsuna-san?"

He shakes his head. "Europe, I think?" He gives a bitter, self-deprecating laugh. "Geography wasn't exactly my strong suit."

"That's fine," Hayato quickly assures him. "It's not like knowing those facts would help our situation in any way."

"Maybe," Tsuna mutters. "Have another one, if you want. Seriously. We need to go out tomorrow anyway, we can just pick more up then."

"Tomorrow?" Hayato repeats blankly.

Tsuna blinks. "Oh, well, you can stay here if you want..."

Hayato stares at him mutely in shock.

"I have to meet with Yamamoto - he's a classmate of mine. We promised we'd meet tomorrow," Tsuna explains. He seems to have mistaken Hayato's shock at the idea of being left alone - him, a stranger! - as disapproval.

"I'll accompany you, of course," Hayato says. "I... What about the zombies?"

Tsuna bites his lip and glances out the window. The sun is slipping towards the horizon now; the east is dark. "There weren't that many when I went yesterday..."

"But now they know there's meat around here," Hayato says. "... Which is my fault. I'm sorr-"

"Don't apologize," Tsuna says quickly. "Don't. Never apologize for living. It's your life and you... you have to make the most of it, ok? Just because it looks bleak now... Who knows what will happen. We might have just met, but I want you to keep living, Hayato-san."

Hayato blinks, his eyes stinging with tears. The passionate speech reminds him of Bianchi's last words. "Of course."

Tsuna exhales, not quite a sigh, and sets his can aside. "There's a spare futon. I'll go lay it out for you... You're probably exhausted."

Now that Tsuna had mentioned it, Hayato does feel pretty tired. His eyelids droop at the thought of sleeping without having to worry about zombies coming upon his vulnerable form. But still. Hayato follows Tsuna up the stairs and insists upon helping him put the futon out.

There are two other rooms down the hall that Hayato has yet to see, but Tsuna lays the futon in his own room, parallel to his bed.

"Are you here with anyone else?" Hayato asks, fluffing the pillow. When was the last time he'd had an actual pillow to sleep on? "Those other rooms..."

Tsuna flinches and Hayato immediately falls silent.

"... No. It's just us here," Tsuna says, finally.

That answers Hayato's question, but also makes him think of a few more. He stays quiet.

Tsuna's sitting on his unmade bed, an unreadable expression on his face. "I was staying here with my mom," he says.

Hayato blinks. Tsuna had just said they were alone, so... What had happened to his mother? Hayato keeps his questions to himself, though; from the way Tsuna is staring down at his tightly clenched hands, this isn't something he finds easy to relate to a stranger. It's probably better if Hayato just stays quiet and listens to what he has to say.

"I left the house for the first time yesterday, to get supplies... When I came back, my mom had..." Tsuna bites his lip and looks down at his hands again.

Hayato swallows and looks away. Had his mother ventured out in search of him and run into zombies? But if the family had access to firearms, surely she would have been able to fend off the zombies. And the house is intact - no broken windows or other signs of forced entry. What, then, had happened to the woman...?

"I need to check on some things while it's still light out; I'll try not to wake you when I come in later," Tsuna says, closing the conversation rather abruptly.

"I can help-" Hayato makes to follow Tsuna once again, but the other boy holds up a hand to forestall him.

"I know you can. I don't need help right now, though. If I do, I'll come ask you, ok? Just get some rest, we should probably leave early tomorrow."

Hayato nods slowly. "Good night, then, Tsuna-san." The sun hasn't actually slipped past the horizon yet, so it's not really night, but it's fairly dark anyway.


He doesn't wake when Tsuna returns to the room and goes to bed himself, because when the other boy shakes him awake an indeterminate amount of time later, weak moonlight is shining through the window.

Hayato flinches, lashing instinctively, though he stops before he hits Tsuna in the face. With his back to the window, it's impossible to see Tsuna's expression, but he's so tense that Hayato immediately goes on alert.

"What is it, Tsuna-san?" he asks, glancing around the dimly-lit room for any threats. That's when he hears it - an almost constant sound, like hail hitting the roof. But there are no clouds outside; Hayato can see the moon over Tsuna's shoulder.

And the thumping sound is coming from beneath them.

"Zombies," Tsuna whispers. "We have to go."

Hayato scrambles to his feet, tossing the blanket aside. He'd gone to sleep fully clothed, which, he thinks almost absently, is a blessing. He rushes to the window and sure enough, he can see a mob of zombies in the front yard.

"How...?" Hayato mumbles, his hands clenching around the windowsill. It's too dark to make out individuals amidst the mass, but it has to be close to twenty, if not more.

"I don't know!" Tsuna says fretfully. "I woke up when they broke the gate... I thought I was dreaming, but... then I heard..."

The thumping, of course. Hayato shakes his head, clearing the last vestiges of sleep away. "Where is your friend staying?" he asks, focussing on their current predicament. No use dwelling on how the zombies found them.

Tsuna swallows, the click of his throat audible over the noise of the zombies outside. "D-downtown..."

"How far?"

"Half an hour... But it took me longer yesterday because I was scared..."

Hayato could probably run that in half the time; he's gotten good at running.

Then again, Tsuna doesn't seem that athletic. But leaving the other boy behind is unthinkable. He saved Hayato, and it's probably because of Hayato that the zombies have found their hiding spot at all.

(And, the traitorous, cowardly part of Hayato adds, he wouldn't know where to find this friend without Tsuna to lead him.)

Hayato pushes that thought away. "Do you have a car or something?"

Tsuna nods. "In the garage. We don't use it much... but I think the back alley is empty..."

The roads that Hayato had been running down before hadn't been that full of vehicles. At least not to the point that it would making driving through impossible.

"And I can't drive," Tsuna adds.

"I can," Hayato says absently. "Is there anything we need? The guns-"He'd stupidly left them downstairs.

"There's more. Leave them," Tsuna says quickly. "Come on." He rushes out of the room, his bare feet squeaking on the hardwood. Hayato pauses to grab a pair of socks and stuffs them in his pocket; their shoes are downstairs, they don't exactly have the luxury of going down to get them, but it's better than going barefoot.

Tsuna's in his pyjamas, Hayato notices belatedly. He hadn't even thought of that - the weeks outside, sleeping in the clothes on his back, made him forget about such luxuries. But they don't have the time, now.

Hayato follows him into the room across the hall, at the back of the house. Bookshelves line the walls, and there's a desk to the side, but Tsuna makes his way for the closet.

Hayato stares in disbelief at the selection of guns sitting in the otherwise innocuous metal cabinet.

Tsuna pulls a machine gun out of the rack, slipping the strap over his head so it lies diagonally across his torso. He hands another to Hayato, then reaches for a magazine of ammunition that is the wrong calibre.

"It's this one," Hayato says, taking the magazines out. "Do you have a bag?"

Tsuna gives him a wide-eyed look, then nods. "Yeah; do you know about-?" He gestures at the cabinet.

"Yes," Hayato says tersely.

"Ok. You grab what you think we might need and can carry, I'll grab my bag and pack stuff." Without waiting for a reply, Tsuna runs back out of the room.

The thumping hasn't stopped, but Hayato hasn't heard the telltale cracking of glass or splintering of wood yet either; the house remains secure, at least for now.

He scans the guns. They're running to this Yamamoto's place; it's doubtful he'd be any better at aiming than Tsuna is. Hayato grabs another machine gun and pulls it over his head, so the straps form an x over his chest. There's a decent supply of ammunition, but it's unlikely they'll be able to find more after this stock runs out.

Hayato grabs a rifle for himself. "Do you have any belts?" he calls to Tsuna, who has yet to return.

"Yeah!"

There are several drawers beneath the main part of the cabinet; when Hayato jerks them open, he finds various accessories, some fucking grenades (seriously, what the fuck is this family?) and more ammo.

Hayato pulls out a shoulder holster and loads it with an appropriate sidearm. There are two more belt holsters, which Hayato loads as well, and then he sets about grabbing all the ammunition they can conceivably carry without being weighed down too much. He shoves a grenade in his pocket - probably more practical than the dynamite he'd been packing - and sets a few more aside. Tsuna still isn't back yet, though Hayato can hear him banging around in his bedroom, so he attaches one of the scopes to the rifle he'd selected, and equips some of the handguns with silencers.

Tsuna returns with two book bags. Hardly ideal, but Hayato supposes it could be worse. More importantly, he has two belts.

"Put this on," Hayato says, shoving the shoulder holster at him. He grabs one of the book bags, puts the belts inside, then starts loading it with the ammunition that he'd gathered.

It takes Tsuna a couple of attempts to get it right, but then he's kneeling beside Hayato and shoving items into his own book bag as well.

"... Fuck, how are we going to get to the garage?" Hayato says, pausing in the act of stuffing one of the holsters into the bag.

Hayato can see the whites of Tsuna's eyes when the other boy looks up at him.

"The back-"

They rush to the window, only to see a good dozen zombies shuffling around in the shadow of the house. The only blessing that Hayato can see is that the Sawadas' backyard is rather small - and beyond that, he can't see any zombies in the back alley

"If we can jump onto the roof..." Hayato mutters. "Wait. Car keys. Garage door opener?"

"In my mom's-" Tsuna stops, stiffening.

"Tsuna-san?" Hayato demands after a few seconds of tense, endless silence.

Tsuna bites his lip. "My mom's purse. In... Let's go. There's a balcony in her bedroom. We can jump from there."

The first thing Hayato notices about the room next to Tsuna's is the sharp metallic smell that assaults his nose. It's familiar: dried blood. It's overlaid by the lavender that he's been smelling since he entered the house, but the delicate scent mixes with the blood to make something truly repugnant.

A woman's body is laid out on the large bed; by chance, a beam of moonlight is shining on her face. And the ruined side of her head. There's only a bit of blood on the pillow, so Hayato assumes that she was moved here after-

After-

"She killed herself yesterday," Tsuna says dully. He doesn't look at the bed, and makes straight for the purse sitting on the dressing table. A clattering fills the room as he rifles through it, eventually emerging with the garage door opener and a ring of keys with some feminine charm hanging off it.

Hayato jerks his eyes away, pressing a hand to his mouth as the woman's face - obviously Tsuna's mother, their features are really quite similar - flickers in his mind and becomes Bianchi's. She must have shot herself in the head, there's no other easy shot that would guarantee a kill-

"Let's go," Tsuna says, still in that listless voice. "Hayato."

He swallows the bile rising in his throat - this evening was the first time he'd had a decent meal and he's not going to let it go to waste, fuck -and joins Tsuna in front of the sliding glass doors. A small patio is beyond it.

"You jump first, then I'll throw the bags to you," Hayato suggests.

"No, you first," Tsuna says, pressing the opener and keys into his hand.

"But-"

"Put them in your pocket, so they can't fall out. And hurry, who knows how much time we have left," Tsuna adds. There's something fierce in his eyes, belying the detached tone of his voice.

Hayato nods and does as he's told. He passes the bag to Tsuna in return then slides the door open. It glides along the runner nearly soundless; what little noise it makes is surely drowned out by the moaning cries of the zombies below them.

Hayato edges out cautiously, peering over the wall of the balcony. It's less than ten feet, but can he really make it from here to the garage's roof?

There's a sturdy wooden chair sitting on the balcony, which Hayato pulls over. If he takes a run, boosts off the seat and jumps of the wall...

"Ready?" Tsuna asks. His smile is weak but there when Hayato glances over his shoulder.

"Yeah," Hayato lies, backing up. His heel hits the far wall. He closes his eyes, although he can still hear the thumping and moaning of the zombies. He can do it. For Bianchi, and Tsuna.

He opens his eyes and dashes forward. The wood creaks beneath his foot and he pushes off, and then his other foot hits the balcony wall. He jumps off from that, wind rushing in his ears. He'd been looking down, to make sure he didn't miss the wall, but now he can see the zombies staring up at him. Their red irises seem especially monstrous in the moonlight.

Hayato barely has time to look forward before the roof is rushing towards him. He lands with a thump, the window knocked out of him, but he scrabbles for the peak to keep from rolling off and landing with the zombies.

They start crying louder, enough to be heard over the pounding of Hayato's heart, and he scrambles to his feet. "Toss them!" he calls, throwing caution to the wind. The others will know he's here, now; there's no point in staying quiet now.

Tsuna tosses him one, then the other. He makes sure they won't slide down the roof, then backs up.

"You can do it!" he calls encouragingly to Tsuna. The boy disappears for several long moments, during which time Hayato resolutely tries to ignore the zombies. He glances at the back alley, which is still deserted. Thank fuck.

The chair creaks again and Hayato looks back just in time to see Tsuna slip on the wall. Hayato rushes forward, panic surging through him.

Tsuna has a decent amount of momentum, enough to send him most of the way across, but he hits the edge of the roof with his stomach. He retches, fingers scraping at the shingles to stop himself from going over the edge. Hayato grabs one flailing arm and pulls him up.

The zombies are almost shrieking now, pressing against the back of the garage. The small window shatters.

"I'm ok," Tsuna gasps, wiping the back of his mouth with a shaking hand. The edges of his fingers are bleeding as is the sole of his foot, but it could be worse and they have to leave, now.

Hayato grabs the two book bags in one hand and fumbles for the garage door opener with the other. He clicks the buttons, but nothing happens.

"Fuck!" he snarls. "The electricity-!"

The zombies that had been pressing the front of the house have joined the ones in the backyard now, adding to the cacophony.

"Can probably- lift it-" Tsuna wheezes. He staggers to his feet and limps toward the front. Hayato joins him and hops down. The alley is still empty, somehow.

"I'll catch you," he says, holding his arms out.

Tsuna falls more than jumps, but Hayato manages not to drop him and then goes for the garage door. It takes him a couple of tries to get his fingers under the edge of the door, and a few moments later Tsuna joins him. The metal creaks in protest, but it's aluminum and not particularly strong; the closing mechanism finally releases and it rattles loudly as they shove it up.

One of the zombies is hanging in the window, its arms and head inside but the bulk of its body too large to fit in. The door is creaking rather ominously beneath the zombies' assault, though.

Hayato rushes to the right side and opens the door. He tosses the bags in the back and throws himself into the driver's seat. Tsuna follows, more slowly, so that Hayato has already started the car before he climbs in.

"Which way?" Hayato asks. It's an automatic transmission, thank god. He's only driven a standard a few times, and though he has a pretty good learning curve for most things, this isn't the time to put that into practice.

"Left," Tsuna says.

Hayato peels out of the garage. Tsuna's house is closer to the other end of the street, so they have a few moments of straight driving. He pulls out the socks and tosses them to Tsuna.

"We didn't have time earlier," he says apologetically, fisting both hands on the wheel.

"It's fine," Tsuna says, pulling them on. "Left again, then right."

Hayato does as he's told, swerving onto Tsuna's street proper a couple of seconds later. A glance in the rear view reveals a mass of zombies further up the street, probably in front of Tsuna's house. He focuses forward when Tsuna inhales sharply and narrowly avoids smashing into the car he'd used to escape the zombies earlier that day.

The clock on the dash says it's after two in the morning.

"Le- no, right at the next- yeah," Tsuna says, pressing himself against the window as Hayato veers around the corner.

Most of the zombies seem to have been massed at Tsuna's house, because apart from the abandoned cars and parts of corpses lying around, the streets are deserted.

Hayato shifts, trying to ease the sharp edges of the guns digging into his back. When that fails, he settles for ignoring it; Tsuna had said it was thirty minutes walking, it shouldn't be more than a ten minute drive. He could deal.

Tsuna delivers terse directions, navigating Hayato through the streets until the rows of houses give way to shop fronts and, further ahead, office buildings.

"We'll stop - right again - a bit away and run the rest of the way, ok?" Tsuna says.

Hayato grunts his assent; the streets are becoming more full of cars (though he has yet to see another zombie) so he has to pay closer attention.

"Stop here. It's a restaurant called Takesushi, just around the corner on the right."

Hayato stops, shuts the car off and bites the key ring; he doesn't want to waste time stuffing it in his pocket. Tsuna stumbles out; Hayato tosses one of the bags of weaponry to him and takes the other for himself. They close the doors and Hayato locks them; zombies could probably break the windows, but without the incentive to do so he figures they probably won't. They might need the car later, too.

Tsuna stumbles and limps along so Hayato pulls his arm over his shoulder and practically drags him towards the restaurant.

He can't hear any zombies, much less see them - the buildings are tall enough that most of the street is in shadows.

"That one," Tsuna whispers, pointing with his free hand. "Go around the left, to the back."

It goes completely against Hayato's instincts to venture into the dark, potentially zombie-infested alley beside the restaurant, but he follows Tsuna's directions.

A dark, misshapen wall rises before them. It's an obvious barricade, although it isn't visible from the street at all. He spares a brief moment to wonder how such a thing was erected - there's a car on its side in there, if he isn't mistaken, but then Tsuna is whispering for him to look for a barrel near the back wall of the restaurant.

Hayato helps Tsuna onto it, and watches as Tsuna picks his way up the barricade. He follows his path a moment later, and they descend to the other side.

"... Oh, the door's locked," Tsuna mumbles, trying the doorknob as Hayato stuffs the keys back into his pocket.

Hayato frowns; what's the point of locking the door? If the zombies make it over the barricade, the door isn't going to stop them.

"Let's throw something at the window," he suggests, pointing to the two windows on the second floor.

"Yeah..." Tsuna pulls an eraser out of the bag's side pocket and tosses it at one of them. It hits the wall below it and falls to the ground.

Hayato goes over and grabs it, then throws it at the window. It bounces off with a loud thunk, and he manages to catch it on the rebound.

"Ah, good job," Tsuna murmurs, worrying at his lip again.

A pale strip appears at the bottom of the window; it takes Hayato a moment to realize that he's seeing someone's forehead and eyes, and by then the person's disappeared.

"... Should we try again?" Tsuna wonders, but before Hayato can throw the eraser, the other window opens and a dark-haired boy leans out.

"That you, Tsuna?" he calls quietly.

"Y-yeah. And this is Hayato-san... We have guns."

A short, disbelieving bark of laughter answers them. "No kidding? Well, I'll come let you in then." The window slides shut, the boy disappearing again.

"Is there anyone else here?" Hayato asks Tsuna in an undertone.

"Yeah, two girls... Kurokawa Hana and Sasagawa Kyouko. I think Kyouko's the one who saw us first."

"The guy must be Yamamoto."

Tsuna nods. "Yamamoto Takeshi."

The lock clicks, and the door opens to reveal Yamamoto. "What are you waiting for? Come in," he says, stepping aside.

Hayato follows Tsuna inside; when Yamamoto closes the door behind him, he has to squint in the darkness.

"This way..." Hayato stiffens when a broad hand closes around his wrist, but he doesn't pull away when that hand starts tugging him deeper into the building.

"We only have one spare futon," Yamamoto adds apologetically. "But Kyouko-chan's laying it out anyway."

"I can sleep on the floor," Hayato says quickly. "I'm used to it." He stumbles slightly when the reach the foot of the stairs, but catches himself.

"Ah, yeah, I was wondering how you and Tsuna ended up together, Hayato...?" Hayato can see him glancing back over his shoulder, now that his eyes have adjusted to the darkness better.

"Tsuna-san saved me earlier today," Hayato says stiffly. What the hell is with this guy? He's totally informal, and ok, Hayato and Tsuna are guests or whatever but it's still pissing him off.

"Haha, wow! That's amazing, Tsuna," Yamamoto continues. "But where's your mom?"

Tsuna stops so abruptly that he almost falls down the stairs. Hayato grabs him, and that's how he realizes that the other boy is shaking.

"Shut up!" Hayato snaps.

"She's dead," Tsuna says, at the same time.

"Oh. Sorry," Yamamoto says.

"Are you boys coming up?" a feminine voice asks. When he looks up, Hayato can see a figure standing at the top of the stairs.

"... Yeah. Sorry to keep you waiting," Tsuna says. "And sorry for waking you."

"It's ok," the girl says. "But you're... ok, right?"

Tsuna makes a noise that could be considered assent and shrugs off Hayato's arm as he starts up the stairs again.

The girl presses against the wall, an obviously worried expression on her face as she watches them pass, but she doesn't say anything.

Yamamoto doesn't ask any more questions either - he barely speaks as he leads them to his own room and gets them settled down.

Hayato curls up at Tsuna's side with a blanket and a bunched up shirt for a pillow, and eventually the steady sound of the other boy's breathing lulls him to sleep.


"-where did they get all these guns!?" a sharp, unfamiliar voice demands.

Hayato slits his eyes open, taking in the sight of Yamamoto and another girl near the doorway. They'd basically dropped the bags and propped the other guns up against the wall before falling asleep in the predawn. The dark-haired girl is pulling the weapons out of one of the bags.

"Hey," he snaps, throwing the blanket off as he climbs to his feet. "What the hell are you doing?"

"What am I doing?" the girl retorts, stalking up to him. "What's... all this!?" She waves her hand at the weapons.

"Guns. And some grenades," Hayato says, narrowing his eyes.

At his feet, Tsuna gives a low, unhappy groan and pulls the blanket over his head so that only the tufts of his brown hair can be seen.

"And stop being so loud!" Hayato hisses, conveniently ignoring the fact that he'd been speaking just as loudly as her. "Tsuna-san is trying to sleep. We went through a lot last night!"

"So it is your fault there's more zombies around," the girl growls back.

Hayato winces; he'd been hoping that the car's speed would have been enough to make the zombies lose them, but maybe that wasn't the case. "Look, girl-"

"That's Kurokawa to you, punk!" she interrupts fiercely. So the girl from before must have been Sasagawa, then.

"Girl-"

"Haha, you guys... Let's go downstairs and talk. Tsuna looked pretty tired last night," Yamamoto puts in, speaking for the first time since Hayato woke up. There's a grin on his face, but it seems strained.

"No thanks to your stupid questions," Hayato mutters with ill grace, but follows the two of them down the stairs.

Sasagawa is making a cold breakfast; three plates are already set out, but when she sees Hayato she goes about getting a fourth serving ready.

"Here, just have mine. I thought you'd be sleeping longer," she says, offering him a smile.

"That's not necessary - I'm not that hungry, I can wait a little, Sasagawa-san," he says.

"Oh, no, it's fine. Really." She pushes the plate at him, and he has no choice but to take it. "And please, call me Kyouko! We're all friends here, right?"

Hayato wonders if it's something about Japanese towns; why is everyone here so trusting? Well, apart from Kurokawa. "I'm Gokudera Hayato," he offers grudgingly.

"It's nice to meet you, Hayato-kun!"

"Likewise," he mutters, slipping into the seat across from her. Yamamoto and Kurokawa sit on either side of him.

"Ok, introductions are over," Kurokawa says sharply. "So spill." She glares at him.

Hayato stiffens at her tone; while he can approve of her suspicion, her tone puts his hackles up and makes him want to do anything but cooperate with her.

"What do you want me to say? I entered town yesterday, looking for supplies. I ran into some zombies, Tsuna-san saved me... We were staying at his house, but somehow the zombies found us. We ran away, and here we are," Hayato says.

"Why wouldn't you just kill the zombies, if you had all those guns?" Kurokawa asks, obviously not satisfied with the barebones report of events.

"I didn't; they're Tsuna-san's."

On his other side, Yamamoto suddenly straightens. "What?"

"I said the guns belong to Tsuna-san," Hayato snaps, irritated at having to repeat himself.

"Then- his mom...?"

"I don't think I should tell you. I don't really know what happened myself," Hayato lies. Tsuna had been pretty clear about the circumstances. But that was private, and from the way Tsuna had spoken to Yamamoto earlier that morning, he didn't want to talk about her suicide. He probably wouldn't have said anything if Hayato hadn't seen the body.

"Something happened to his mom?" Kurokawa asks, though her tone is much less abrasive than it had been. There's a haunted expression on her face when Hayato turns to look at her.

"Tsuna said she's dead," Yamamoto says.

"But why? If they had those kinds of weapons..." Kurokawa trails off and looks down at her plate.

Hayato's been wondering that himself.

"He didn't have any guns two days ago," Kyouko puts in, returning to her seat across from Hayato. "Otherwise he would have brought at least one, right?"

"Yeah, he definitely didn't have anything like that. All he had was that baseball bat," Yamamoto agrees.

Hayato frowns. "That doesn't make any sense. He had a gun cabinet at his house. That's where we got everything."

The three other teenagers exchange confused looks, at as much of a loss as Hayato.

"Maybe... he didn't know about them...?" Kyouko murmurs, finally.

"We can go ask him now," Kurokawa says, pushing away from the table.

"That can wait," Hayato snaps, rising as well. "Let him sleep! His mom just died and we had to run from zombies twice. Tsuna-san deserves some rest. It's not like you need to know that information right this second!"

They glare at each other in silence, but Kurokawa doesn't move back towards the stairs.

"I'm sure Tsuna-san won't sleep too late, Hana," Kyouko says. "We might get a better account of things after he's fully rested, too."

The other girl sits back down, and Hayato follows suit a moment later. Silence falls, apart from the clinking of their utensils and the sounds of chewing.

"So, Hayato-"

He stiffens at the too-familiar form of address; apparently this guy just can't take a fucking hint.

"-you said you entered town yesterday. What were you doing before that?"

Hayato grits his teeth. "Following the highway," he says shortly. "I was in Tokyo when everything went to hell. I ran away with a group of people, but I'm the only one left now."

The silence sticks this time. Kyouko collects everyone's empty plates and disappears into the back area - the kitchen, Hayato assumes.

"I'm going to go check on Tsuna-san," Hayato says, pushing away from the table before anyone has a chance to reply. He doesn't move fast enough though, because Yamamoto falls into step beside him a moment later.

"That's a good idea! Maybe we should bring him some food, is there anything left from breakfast, Kyouko?"

"I'll bring a plate up," Kyouko calls.

Hayato should have thought of that. He feels his eyebrow twitch in irritation, but doesn't otherwise react to Yamamoto's presence.

Tsuna's curled on his side, the blanket partially obscuring his face, and he seems to still be asleep.

"Do you have first aid supplies?" Hayato asks, catching sight of the bloodstained sock peeking out from under the blanket. He'd forgotten about Tsuna's injuries - nothing life-threatening - in their flight from Tsuna's house and arrival at the restaurant. They should make sure Tsuna's foot and fingers don't get infected.

"Oh, yeah, this way. They're in the bathroom." Yamamoto closes the door quietly behind them and leads Hayato back down the hall. "Guess I should've shown you this earlier, huh? Sorry." He chuckles and leaves Hayato alone in the room.

He stares at his reflection in the mirror, but it hasn't changed significantly since he last saw it. He should see about cutting his hair, if he gets the chance. There are a few toothbrushes in a cup beside the sink, but they're obviously used. After a bit of rummaging, he finds two plastic-wrapped toothbrushes.

He can't remember the last time he brushed his teeth either, but the sharp bite of the mint flavour is comforting in some strange way. Maybe it's a good thing he had to drop his smoking habit; his teeth aren't too stained.

After relieving himself and splashing some water on his face, Hayato drops his toothbrush into the cup with the others and leaves the second out for Tsuna.

"About time you were done," Kurokawa grumbles, shoving past him when Hayato opens the door.

"Whatever," Hayato mutters, ignoring the way she slams the door behind him. He makes his way back to Yamamoto's room, to see if the noise had woken Tsuna.

He's still asleep, though. Hayato busies himself with rolling up his makeshift bed, wrapping the t-shit up in the blanket and setting it against the wall, out of the way. The room's wall are covered with posters - most of them baseball, but also a few from manga or anime series. A shelf above the bed is covered in baseball trophies too.

Figures that this idiot would be a jock. Hayato rolls his eyes and wanders over to the small bookcase. Manga, light novels and the odd textbook are on those shelves. Typical. He glances at the desk beneath the window, which is covered in... electronic components.

His interest piqued, Hayato starts examining the radio. He's pretty good at this stuff, and it seems like everything necessary is there, it's just a matter of assembling it...

There are a few extraneous parts, but Hayato sets those aside. Satisfied, he flips the switch. Static crackles from the speaker. He hurriedly thumbs the volume dial down, but the sound has obviously woken Tsuna.

"Wha-?" The other boy sits up, his hair sticking up worse than before. His eyes are fuzzy with sleepy, though a bit of panic enters them when he sees Hayato. He looks around in confusion, before something like realization crosses his features.

"Sorry, Tsuna-san. I didn't mean to wake you," Hayato says, switching the radio off. He can fiddle with it later.

"What was that sound?" Kurokawa bursts into the room, a suspicious look on her face. When she catches sight of the small radio in Hayato's hands, she rushes over to him, knocking Tsuna out of the way.

"Hey, watch it!" Hayato snaps as she yanks it out of his hands. He ignores whatever excuses she babbles and goes to Tsuna's side. "Are you ok?"

Behind him, Hayato can hear Kurokawa cycling through the frequencies; what she hopes to find, he doesn't know, nor does he particularly care.

"Yeah, fine," Tsuna mumbles, rubbing a hand through his hair. "What time...?"

"It's a little after ten, Tsuna-san-"

The static from the radio suddenly cuts out, replaced by a young voice.

"-pril fifth. If there's anyone out there, this is a recording broadcasting from Namimori Middle School. We are barricaded in the science building. The fence around the school should be secure. This recording will be updated weekly. This iteration was recorded on April fifth. If there's anyone out there..."


A/N: I wanted Hayato and Tsuna to ride away into the night on bicycles, so you can thank my friend for talking me out of that.

(Please ignore the gaping plothole that is Hayato and Bianchi walking around the countryside, following a highway full of abandoned vehicles! Let's say that the highway was too choked with cars and stuff to make it practical. Yep.)