La mia ombra, la tua luce, e noi…sullo stesso percorso
Through his slumber, Gokudera could feel something familiar and warm against his cheek. He leaned in to feel more of it, of the comfort it brought to his heart; and as he did so, he started hearing a soft voice calling him. He opened his eyes slowly to find the blinding light of the medical wing and a pair of worried brown eyes looking at him.
"You're awake! I'm so glad you're alright; I was so scared, I…" the warmth on his cheek –which he identified as a hand- disappeared and was replaced by the weight of the speaker's head on his chest. "I was… so afraid… that I was too late; I don't know what I'd have done if anything happened to you."
Gokudera's eyes flew open when he realized exactly what was happening. With the little strength left in his body, he sat up and shoved the other man away angrily.
"The fuck are you doing here, asshole? I told you before; I don't want to see your stupid face anymore, didn't I?"
Yamamoto's eyes rose to meet his and smiled sadly. Gokudera suddenly noticed the small patch on the other man's chin and his heart stopped. He had failed.
"Go away! Go away, you idiot! You ruined it! You ruined everything! I hate you; I fucking hate you. I…" he grabbed the first thing he could reach (a glass of water) and threw it at Yamamoto's general direction, completely blinded by angry tears.
"Cut it out already!"
Yamamoto dodged the flying object and grabbed his shoulders to keep him from struggling any further. Their eyes met and Gokudera noticed the pain and frustration in Yamamoto's look, and it drained him of all energy, all of a sudden.
"Gokudera I… I don't care if you hate me. I don't even care if you want to kill me either. But I couldn't just sit around when I knew you were in danger. I would never forgive myself if something happened to you. I don't think I could ever… I wouldn't know what to do."
Yamamoto was surprised to see Gokudera crying. His shoulders were slumped in defeat and his face seemed drained of all color and life. He didn't know what to do so he reached out to touch him, but the other man flinched and glared at him, angry yet teary-eyed, and full of confusion.
"What are you even saying? How could you .understand what this is about? You don't get it at all. You screwed it up. I screwed it up." He knew it. That if he hadn't been so weak, so stupid, Yamamoto would've never come back. Everything was his fault. "All I did… everything I'd worked for… all the efforts I made… they're nothing now. I just… I just wanted…" Gokudera's voice started to break down, along with his resolve. "I just wanted you to keep smiling… right under the sun." he covered his face with his hands, all his pent-up emotions suddenly spilling out uncontrollably. "You're an idiot, how could you understand? I was born in darkness, this is the path I was meant to walk. But you… you've always been under the sun. I just thought that… that no matter how dark, how bloody… how painful this was… as long as I could see your smile… shining for me… I… How could I… just take that away from you? How could I forgive myself… if I brought you down this path of darkness…? How could I just go on living… if your smile disappeared? I just… I was… You stupid… I…" he started to lose his breath and the room seemed to spin around him. Suddenly, he felt he was falling, falling into deep, terrifying darkness; and then, suddenly, he was caught in strong, warm arms that felt just right.
When his eyes regained focus, he noticed he was being held tightly to Yamamoto's chest. He could hear the other man curse, his voice shaking with anger.
"Damnit. Damn it, Gokudera, goddamnit." His hands were trembling too, and Gokudera wondered if Yamamoto had finally realized how being with him would ruin him and was angry because of that. But he knew that wouldn't be the case; that fool would never come to such a conclusion. "I'm so… so angry right now…damnit" he started, still shaking; "so damned angry at myself. I can't believe I left you alone when you were struggling so much. I let you walk away and didn't even realize that you were in so much pain. Shit."
Gokudera shoved the Rain Guardian away, instantly missing the warmth of his embrace, and stared at him with wide eyes. "The fuck are you talking about? The one you should be mad at is me. You're always like this, why do you take the blame for everything?! I'm the one who's going to ruin your future, I'm the one to blame for everything!"
Yamamoto grabbed him by the shoulders and stared at him sternly. "See, this is why I do get angry at you. You're never honest about your feelings and then you go ahead and take these important decisions all on your own without asking me first. Let me decide what's going to ruin my future and what isn't." He leaned his forehead against Gokudera's and breathed out a chuckle. "I mean, how silly can you be? How could you even think I could keep smiling without you? And you're supposed to be the smart one, damn it."
Gokudera pushed him away once again, fighting against the tightness in his chest that didn't want to let go. "You don't get it. That's why I didn't tell you. Because you're an idiot and you'd never get it. I've seen it. I know it'll happen. If I keep dragging you down this road of blood, you'll end up drowned in darkness. You… you don't deserve that. I'd never forgive myself. I've already… I was so weak… and now you've tainted your hands with blood because of that. I can't let you go on any further. Otherwise I…"
Yamamoto shut him up with a hand to his mouth. "And that's why I said to stop making decisions about my future all on your own. Actually, stop making decisions about our future all on your own. Isn't that what being together is about? Talking these things out and deciding the kind of future we both want?" he brushed away the tears on his beloved's face and leaned in to plant a soft kiss on his lips.
Gokudera didn't know what to do, but for a moment, it didn't really matter. Kissing Yamamoto for the first time in years made him feel like he was finally back home, back to safety, back to the only place where he could be happy, so he just let himself drown in that feeling. He'd been so sad and so lonely for so long, that even this small comfort made his heart swell. But the moment the kiss ended he was cruelly pulled back to reality; a reality in which he couldn't allow himself to hurt Yamamoto any further; where Yamamoto had already carved his own path and Gokudera couldn't dare to drag him away from it.
"The hell are you doing, idiot? Don't touch me, I hate you! How many times do I have to tell you to fuck off?! And aren't you married, you worthless bastard?!" saying all that out loud hurt a lot more than Gokudera expected it to. Not only lying about his feelings, but also reminding himself that Yamamoto had already chosen someone to spend his life with. And Gokudera wasn't that someone.
Yamamoto kissed him again; quicker, not giving Gokudera's brain enough time to process anything; and smiled at him warmly and raised his left hand –his ring-less left hand-.
"I'm afraid that didn't really work out. Sayuri-chan left me a couple of months ago because she said…no, she realized that my heart was never really in it. I suppose that makes me kind of an asshole for doing it in the first place but … at that time I didn't want to admit that I couldn't stop loving you."
The Storm Guardian didn't know what to say anymore. He wanted to open his mouth and keep protesting, but he couldn't find the words. Had Yamamoto been ruined from the moment they met? Even after all he had done, was there no way for him to save the man he loved? Was there no way to go back in time and make things right now? If he could just-
"There you go. See? You're thinking weird stuff all on your own again. And I just told you not to do that, are you even listening to me? Don't even try and lie about it, I know you too much. I can tell you're torturing yourself over meaningless stuff again."
Gokudera's pride-filter seemed to turn off for a moment and he just burst with all the held-back rage he had in him. "Meaningless?! You think worrying about how I'm inevitably ruining your life is fucking meaningless?! You're the one that's not listening; YOU are the one that doesn't understand. Everything I've done, all the sacrifices I made so far… that is meaningless. It's like there was never a way for me to save you! I'm just supposed to live with the fact that you'll never be happy because of me, how can that be meaningless?! You stupid shitheaded a-"
Yamamoto's sudden yell took him out of his reverie and he looked up to see that the taller man was now crying too. The Rain Guardian kneeled on the bed, his body so close to Gokudera's that he could feel the warmth washing over him. Yamamoto hugged him and buried his face in the smaller man's hair, tears running down his cheeks.
"I'm sorry. I've been an idiot. Gokudera has always been thinking about me, of course it's not meaningless. I'm so sorry. I should've never left you alone to carry all this burden. I'll never make the same mistake again. I'll make things right this time. Even if you hate me, or hit me, or blow your dynamite on my face, I'm never, ever letting you go again."
"I told you, you're not fucking listening, you idiot. If you stay here-"
"That won't happen. Because Gokudera tried his best… because you cried for me and watched over me all this time… I won't let that become meaningless. If Gokudera did all that for my happiness, now it's my turn to make Gokudera happy. From now on I'll always do my best to keep making Gokudera's path brighter. I want Gokudera to smile too. And I want to be by your side no matter what. Because that's the only way for me to find happiness. So please… don't underestimate my feelings anymore… Hayato… give us a second chance, I'm begging you."
Gokudera's voice seemed to be lost for the umpteenth time that day. He could feel a tight knot in his throat and his heart racing a mile a minute. He tried to swallow back the tears, but it was impossible, they just kept flowing as if he hadn't been crying endlessly for god knows how long. He bit his lip, trying to hold back all the feelings he'd kept concealed inside his heart for so long. He sunk his head in Yamamoto's chest, hearing his heartbeat and melting into his scent.
"As if I could ever say no to you, stupid."
Gokudera had gotten used –for the past two weeks- to wake up to Yamamoto's smiling face and the beeping of the machines in the hospital wing of Vongola.
"Don't you have anything else to do?"
The Rain Guardian chuckled and helped the other man to sit up on the mattress.
"Well, Tsuna's a pretty cool boss; he's given me a lot of time to get the hang of things here and take care of you. And Fuu-chan's at home with my old man, she'll be okay without me for a couple of hours."
The injured man groaned. His wounds were mostly healed now and he couldn't wait to get discharged, but the Tenth had showed up shortly after he woke up and made it clear that he wasn't leaving the hospital until his stupid fractured leg was completely healed. Yamamoto came to visit every morning and they'd chat a little or argue about meaningless things. Gokudera was kind of annoyed at himself for feeling so blissfully satisfied over such silly simplicities.
"I can't believe they allowed an irresponsible idiot like you to keep a child just like that. I don't even want to know what would've been of that little girl if your dad wasn't there to make sure you don't mess everything up."
The truth was, he was immensely relieved to know Yamamoto had kept his daughter, but he would never admit to it aloud. It was already bad enough that the baseball player's marriage had failed because of him; he wouldn't be able to carry anymore guilt.
Yamamoto leaned closer –really closer- until their noses were almost touching and smiled at him mischievously.
"Well, you can always join the family and become Fuu-chan's Mama. I'm sure she'd love you."
The silver-haired man blushed and pulled away, not meeting Yamamoto's eyes and mumbled 'Idiot'. Yamamoto grabbed him by the chin with two fingers and lifted his face to kiss him. Gokudera melted into the kiss and held on to his lover's collar, allowing his mind to go completely blank. He'd missed this too much to care about his pride.
The taller man pushed the smaller one back down on the mattress, which caused his partner to pull away and frown at him.
"What do you think you're doing to an injured person, you pervert?"
Yamamoto smiled gleefully and leaned back in to kiss him right on the corner of the mouth, teasingly. "Awww, c'mon Hayato. We've got to make up for six years, right? I promise I won't go too far; just a little fun, yes?"
Gokudera shivered and held back a pleasured moan. He still wasn't used to hearing Yamamoto calling him by his given name, and everytime he did it, his heart would skip a beat. He circled his arms around his partner's waist and held on to his shoulders tightly, pulling him closer.
Yamamoto moved his mouth, planting butterfly kisses along Gokudera's jawline and stopping right at that spot where his jaw met his ear to suck on it. " 'sides, I need to make a test… to see if I can still find all of Hayato's good places." He breathed out, as his hands wandered all the way down to his lover's thighs and up the hospital robe, rubbing the skin softly.
Gokudera gasped. Making a test, my ass. Yamamoto was perfectly aware of what he was doing and where he was touching. If Gokudera had to confess –something he'd never do out loud- he'd say he had three particularly weak spots in his body: the end of his jawline, the inside of his thigh and the hollow of his collarbones; all of which, he was quite certain that Yamamoto knew perfectly about. When the taller man bit down on his collarbone playfully, he moaned and decided that two could play this stupid game. He moved his hands up Yamamoto's back and all the way to his nape, grazing the area right below the hairline with his fingernails. The dark-haired man shivered in his arms and looked up at him with a blush on his cheeks.
"That's mean, Hayato. You've got to tell me in advance if you're going to do something like that. My heart could stop from the surprise."
Gokudera smirked. "Well, I just thought I'd run my own test, Takeshi."
As the other man blushed an even deeper red, Gokudera pulled him down for another kiss, and smiled. He didn't really know how or why, but he wanted to freeze this moment, for it was absolute bliss and he never wanted it to end
Gokudera's breath caught in his throat the moment he stood no further than a single step from Takezushi's door. He gulped and tried to force his schizophrenic heart to calm down, to no avail. Takeshi placed a gentle, reassuring hand on his shoulder and smiled at him, grabbing his wrist with his free hand and inviting him to come inside.
It'd been more than six years since he had last stepped into the Yamamoto sushi restaurant. It was a strange and unpleasant feeling, as if shadows and vermin started crawling through the door after him.
He froze again once he came face to face with Yamamoto Tsuyoshi's stern face.
"Hey, Pops, how's my little girl doing?" the younger Yamamoto asked cheerfully.
"She's been a little restless but she's-" he was interrupted by the sound of a baby's wails "-was, sleeping. Takeshi, can you check up on her? My hands are a little full right now." He nodded towards the half-full restaurant.
"Sure, that's my job after all." Takeshi grinned and flew up the stairs, seemingly forgetting about Gokudera, who didn't really know what to do with himself right now.
His problem was immediately "solved" by Tsuyoshi. "And now that he's off, I'll have a word with you." And he made a sign for Gokudera to follow him to the kitchen, who just nodded and tried to force his body to stop shaking uncontrollably.
Once they reached the kitchen, Tsuyoshi crossed his arms across his chest and looked at him sternly.
"You hurt my son."
Gokudera´s heart throbbed painfully. "I know. I-"
"No, you don't know anything. You weren't there. You walked away with a straight face and left Takeshi to drown. I almost lost my son because of you."
Hayato bit his lip and turned his gaze to the floor. He'd known from the start that no matter what, there was no forgiveness for him or anything he had done. After all he had done to hurt Takeshi, how could he come back to this house, to face this man and tell him that he was dragging his son back to darkness with him?
"My son loves you."
He raised his eyes to look at Tsuyoshi´s face again. Of course the man had known about their relationship, even when they were in high school. Gokudera wasn't as naïve as Takeshi to believe that they could keep such a thing a secret from a cunning man like Yamamoto Tsuyoshi. The Storm Guardian stopped to contemplate on what he should say next; if there was anything appropriate to say, that is. The baby's cries filled the silence of his thoughts.
"I love him too."
He waited for an angry retaliation, maybe a slap or a punch, a reminder of how he didn't deserve Takeshi's love, and how much pain he had caused him; but it never came. Instead, he saw a small, gentle smile slowly making its way to Tsuyoshi's face.
"Takeshi is a hopeless fool, and I'll admit I've made him a little too innocent and spoiled. Once he sets his mind on to something, he'll never let go of it. I don't know if that's a good thing or not, but it does mean that you are the only one who can stand by his side. I've known that from the start. And he needs you now, more than ever. Both of them do."
Gokudera wasn't sure he understood what Tsuyoshi was trying to say. His heart was caught in his throat, so he couldn't possibly try to ask either, so he kept silent, listening to the far cries of the baby that didn't seem to quiet down.
"You will find that I'm quite merciless with anyone who hurts my precious family. I will not stand still and watch my son lose himself again."
The older man made a small pause and sighed. He then looked up at Gokudera with a smile and patted his shoulder reassuringly.
"Please, take care of my son and my granddaughter. If there's anyone who can protect them, that's definitely you."
The young man's heart started beating faster than ever. And then he smiled. Truly, Yamamoto's dad was insanely cool.
The door to Yamamoto's old room was open and the baby's wails were coming loudly from the inside. Gokudera stepped in hesitantly, he wasn't even sure of what he was supposed to do now, just that he had to be here.
It was strange, and more unsettling than he'd thought it would be, to see Yamamoto holding the five-month-old baby in his arms, rocking gently while walking across the room, a sweet smile on his face and slight worry on his eyes. It was then that it really sunk in on him; Yamamoto had a daughter now; and he didn't know how to feel about it.
Hayato approached the taller man slowly, hearing him babble cutesy things to try and calm the toddler down, to no avail. Yamamoto suddenly raised his face and grinned nervously when he noticed Gokudera's presence.
"You know, moms are supposed to have this instinct, like they know why their kids are crying instantly or something; but I think I'm not really good at it." He commented with a sad look on his eyes as he patted the baby's back. "Hey, can you hold her for a second? All the baby stuff is downstairs and I think she may be hungry."
Before he could even think of a reply, the baby was thrust into his arms with sparse indications of "Be sure to hold her head and just rock her a little, she likes that." And Takeshi was gone while he was handling a crying toddler without the slightest idea of what to do with it.
And then, for reasons he didn't quite understand, he decided to stop panicking and look at her, just really look at her. She was really small, smaller than Uri even; and probably the smallest living thing Gokudera had held in his life. Everything about her was insanely tiny, from her tiny round head, to her tiny chocolate-colored eyes with tiny tears flowing out of them, her super tiny nose and extra tiny ears; her tiny hands with really tiny fingers and her tiny feet with ridiculously tiny toes. She looked a lot like him.
"No doubt you started crying the moment I arrived, huh? A tiny little thing like you should have that idiot's complete attention and I'm stealing him away from you, aren't I?... I'm so sorry… It's my fault that your family broke apart; what am I even doing? You must hate me right now. I'm so…"
The moment the tears started pooling at the corner of his eyes, Gokudera noticed that the little girl had stopped crying and was now looking at him. Just like he had been doing a minute ago, she seemed to be deadly focused on examining him with her eyes wide-open, as if intending to explore the darkest and deepest crevices of his soul. There was a tense moment of silence in the room in which they just stared at each other's eyes for what seemed like ages; until finally, the little girl squirmed in his arms and smiled.
Gokudera's heart skipped a beat. He felt bubbles bursting in his stomach and he wasn't quite sure of why he had the idea that this, whatever it was, was so fucking important. He just kind of knew that this tiniest of tiny little persons, glowing with innocence, had looked inside him, had seen the worst of him, and had smiled at him. The tears he had swallowed earlier came back full-force spilling from his emerald eyes out of control and he smiled and pressed the little toddler against his chest muttering 'thank you' over and over.
"Sorry I took so long, it got… oh! You've calmed her down already! As expected of Hayato, you truly are awesome. I knew you guys'd get along" Takeshi came dashing through the door with a huge baby bag on his shoulder but stopped and grinned when he saw the situation was under control. It was then that he noticed Hayato was sobbing, so he approached his two most important persons slowly and rested his chin on his lover's shoulder.
Gokudera swallowed back his tears and turned to Yamamoto with a smile that made the taller man's heart race. "Yeah, 'm fine. 's just… She's really beautiful." He stroked the little girl's tuft of dark hair and passed her back to her father.
"I know, right?" he grinned proudly as she squirmed in his arms restlessly. "Hey, she really seems to like you, I'm gonna get jealous." He added, as the girl continued to squirm and stretched her arms towards Gokudera desperately. "So I guess I should properly introduce you now. Fuu-chan, this is Hayato, the person Daddy loves the most in the world. Hayato, this is Fuuko, the person I love the most in the world."
Gokudera smiled. That was so typical of Yamamoto. He leaned in and took one of the girl's hands in his own, letting her curl her tiny fingers around his thumb and kissed her forehead. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Fuuko-chan."
Takeshi pressed his cheek against Fuuko's, who giggled cheerily. "So? Did I convince you of how much we need you in this family? You wouldn't dare reject us and break the little lady's heart, would you?"
Hayato felt a kind of bliss that he had never felt before. He took a step forward and pressed a quick peck on Fuuko's cheek and a longer, sweet kiss on Takeshi's lips. This was where he was meant to be; the only place where he could wash away all his darkness and bask under the sunlight, together, with the one person he loved above anything else.
Well… two persons now.
And that's it, ladies and gentlemen –though I suppose it's mostly ladies-. God, the drama. If I had a penny for every time Gokudera showers in self-loathing I'd… probably have around 20 pennies. But I think it's okay. The whole point of this was that Gokudera desperately needed to forgive himself, and for that to happen, he needed to be forgiven by all the people he felt he was harming –not only Yamamoto, but his father and his daughter-.
I noticed this chapter is entirely Dera-centric, and I actually had originally planned for a little Yama moment at the end with a flash-forward shit, but I think I'll save that for an omake. I think the ending as it is reflects the essence of the story I wanted to tell and the end of Gokudera's journey, from his sinking in despair and loneliness to his finding his place back under the light with his new family, so I didn't want to add anything else.
I never said it, but Fuuko's name is written with the Kanji for "Wind" and "Child"; although my train of thought when choosing such a simple name was actually very corny and silly lol.
The title for this chapter is roughly "My shadow, your light, and us… walking together down the same path", although a more literal translation would be "we on the same path", but that doesn't have the same ring to it LOL. There's a limit to how poetic you can get with Google translator so I just stretched it, sorry Italian people of the world for wronging your language for my shallow purposes.
I hope everyone enjoyed this short story. I have a handful of short scenes that would never make for a continuation but could do for some vignettes; I'll see where it goes. Please leave reviews, I really enjoy reading your comments and opinions. And I'll leave you now since it's 6 am and I'm full of cramps for being on the PC too long LOL.