Pairing: Gokudera/Haru, mention of Tsuna/Kyoko
Word Count: 2,456
Disclaimer: KHR and its fabulous inhabitants belong to their rightful owner. I'm only playing with them.
Summary: Haru has lost her eyesight in a certain attack, and Gokudera was the only person around to keep both of them alive at the moment. In this chapter, more is revealed about the fateful night.
It wasn’t everyday that the boss of one of the world’s biggest underground organizations—i.e., one of the most powerful men on earth—got engaged and threw a party to commemorate the event. In fact, if all went well, this could be his last time to do so. That was why the entire population of the continent showed up.
At least, that was what it felt like to Gokudera. Hell, he could swear even the milkman came, obliviously drinking away amongst mafiosos. He would have complained to the Tenth about such uninvited guests, if he hadn’t made up his mind that all the Tenth would worry about tonight was how to kiss his bride-to-be.
Besides, he knew what the Tenth would say. “Let’s all have fun together tonight, as a family,” he would say, placing a pacifying hand on his Storm Guardian’s shoulder, and everything that Gokudera had wanted to say—how some people here would betray them without thinking twice, how tonight really should be an occasion to consolidate their power—would disappear in the back of his throat.
“Hey,” a deep voice drawled from behind him suddenly, and Gokudera jumped. He turned in annoyance to see the Thunder Guardian, who, unlike him, had obviously been having fun. His hair was even more tousled than usual, and there was a hint of lipstick on his cheek. Gokudera glared.
“Yare yare,” Lambo said lazily, and handed him a glass of champagne. Gokudera did not take it. Grinning wider, Lambo downed the drink in one shot and said, “Why so tense? You really ought to relax.”
Though Lambo had matured significantly in the past few years, he would always remain a child in Gokudera’s eyes, and one that had the unique ability to annoy him within seconds he opened his mouth. Gokudera decided to ignore his advice and asked pointedly, “How’s the party?”
“Oh, so-so. Some politicians from uptown, a couple of ‘cousins’ from abroad… you know, the usual gang,” Lambo said with disinterest, but his voice had dropped so low that only the two of them could hear. “I did see some interesting people over by the punchbowl, though.”
Gokudera felt his shoulders stiffened. “Maybe I should go over and do some catching up,” he said.
“Man, you are tense,” laughed Lambo. “Relax. I’ll take care of ‘em. Besides, Yamamoto and Sasagawa-nii are just outside; they would come in if anyone got too drunk and needed an escort. The Mists were here too, but they disappeared. You know how they are.”
“Where’s…” Gokudera started, then thought better of it. Instead, he asked, “Is Cavallone here?”
Lambo indicated with a raise of his left eyebrow, and sure enough, not far away from them stood Dino Cavallone and a couple of his men. The blond mafia don caught their eyes, and raised his glass with a smile, which Gokudera didn’t return. It wasn’t that he didn’t respect the older man; he was simply irritated by the fact that an outsider knew the whereabouts of one of their guardians better than themselves.
“Ask him where Hibari is,” he said, and turned to leave.
Of course, Lambo was right; there were enough of Vongola’s best men in the area to ensure that nothing would go wrong tonight. And in the case of anything happening, the baseball freak and the lawn-head would be able to take care of it. If there was anything Gokudera learned in the past decade, that was to trust in his fellow guardians.
He, too, had a job to do. Shaking away the feeling of unease, Gokudera made his way to the second floor of the mansion.
The exquisite halls of the building were not completely familiar to Gokudera. After all, it was just one of the Vongola’s many bases around the country, and they had chosen to move to this peaceful town only a month ago, specifically for tonight’s function. The soft carpet beneath his feet made Gokudera uncomfortable; he rather liked the important sounds of tapping his shoes made on the polished marble floors back in their main headquarters.
Too enraptured in his contemplation of the flooring material, Gokudera didn’t notice that a door behind him opened until he heard a voice urgently calling:
“Gokudera! Goku… Gokudera-kun!”
Gokudera-kun? Since when did she call him that? Half-amused, half-exasperated, he turned to face Miura, the girl he had not wanted to know but had gotten to know so well over the years. Instead of her signature smile, however, he saw only a hand hanging out conspicuously from the opened door, beckoning him closer. Sighing, he complied.
He was immediately pulled into the room. It was not the first time he entered this room, but somehow it looked different with the lights on. It was softer and more feminine, more… personal, unlike the other night—he quickly forced the memory away.
Miura had returned to her place on the bed, and was eyeing him with glee. He remained standing by the door, not sure where to hide his suddenly awkward limbs. But she allowed him no time to think, and pulled him onto the soft white sheets of the bed.
“Excellent timing!” she announced, clapping her hands together, and pushed away an assortment of small bottles from them. Then, she stuck out her arms at him; both of them were covered in a film of plastic. “Now, pull,” she said.
“Huh?” he replied, unable to find his footing in the strange scenario. “Is that tape on your arms?”
“No.” She rolled her eyes. “Why would I put tape on my arms?”
“I need to go fetch the Boss. Shouldn’t you be getting Kyoko ready?”
“She is ready, but I can’t very well go out like this, can I? Now take these off for me and we can both be on our way.”
Gokudera stared at the decidedly plastic-tape-like material on her arms; he would never understand what went on inside the girl’s head, but this was not the time to question her mental activities. He grabbed a corner of the plaster and gave it an experimental tug.
“OW!” she yelped. “That hurt!”
“You said to pull it off!”
“Do it painlessly!”
“It’s a friggin’ piece of adhesive tape,” he spat. “I can’t—”
“Just do it quickly then!” She was no longer looking at him, and he thought she sounded as if she was biting the inside of her cheeks. Vengefully, he wrenched the plastic off in one go.
“You!” she cried, rubbing her hands over her reddened arms. “You did that intentionally.”
“What is this thing?” Picking up a box of unused tape, Gokudera wanted to know.
“Magic Wax-2-Go,” she replied through tears. “It makes us girls more presentable. Now, if you’ll excuse me.”
He watched as she got up from the bed to the vanity desk to put up her hair. More presentable? From his viewpoint, with her arms and face and neck all pink and blushing from the effort, Magic Wax-2-Go had only served to make her resemble a ripe peach, soft and fragrant and—
Dammit, Gokudera, he silently reprimanded himself for the direction his thoughts were taking. The situation was getting out of hand. Since that night, he had often caught himself thinking. They had obviously crossed the line between acquaintances, professional colleagues, even friends. Yet she had not spoken about the incident at all, and he increasingly suspected that he alone had crossed that definitive line…
Being caught daydreaming about a woman (while staring at said woman’s back, no less), Gokudera instinctively frowned and snapped, “What now?”
“Would you mind zipping this up for me? I can’t reach that far back,” she answered, picking up the few tendrils left on her nape and bending forward.
He did as he was asked, but as his fingertips brushed against the silky skin of her back, he couldn’t help but wonder again what the hell had happened between them, and whether she was really unaware of this peculiar air enveloping the two of them, at once strange and intimate.
“Done,” he said, and to show that he hadn’t been thinking about anything other than the tiny metal device at the back of her dress, he pushed her away a little harder than was needed.
She didn’t seem to notice or care. Turning to face him, she gave him her brightest smile, which reached all the way to her brown eyes. “Thank you,” she said, bowing in a mock curtsy. “I’ll check on my lady now, and you’d better go get Tsuna-san.”
Their eyes met each other’s briefly before they departed. “I’ll see you downstairs then,” she spoke, softly, and with that she glided down the hall. Gokudera did not move until the swaying hem of her gown disappeared around the corner.
That woman, he decided, knows more than she’s letting on.
Some people, within hours you first meet them, perhaps within minutes, give off an impression that let you know from then on they will be an important part of your life, a permanent fixture of strength, support and friendship by your side.
Like Tsuna-san, like Kyoko-chan, mused Haru, as she watched the couple took their seats on the temporary stage set up in the ballroom. There was no doubt that they were the protagonists tonight: Kyoko looked stunning in her silver gown, and Tsuna’s smile softened the lines on his face, reminding Haru of the bashful boy he once was; both of them seemed to be glowing in the spotlight.
Haru’s eyes wandered to the man standing in the shadows just behind Tsuna, and they stayed there the whole time, without herself noticing.
Some people let you know they will be an important part of your life the moment you meet them; some take many, many more years.
The party went surprisingly uneventfully. Drinks were had, dances were danced, and the Varia made their obligatory party crash (in the middle of the Tenth’s speech, as per tradition). Now that the mess was cleaned up and the Boss had retreated to the safety of his room, Gokudera felt that he could finally relax and start showing the guests the way out.
Just as he was about to remove everyone from the vicinity (as gently as his dynamites would permit), he saw her stealing out into the cold night. Without fully knowing why, he followed suit.
The patio was empty, and offered a spectacular view of the small town at the bottom of the hill. She was standing close to the edge of the slope; her hair, loosened, fluttered behind her. She looked ethereal in the moonlight. Gokudera felt his throat tightened.
“What’re you doing?” he blurted, his tone harsh in the dark. The Tenth, Reborn, Bianchi and almost everyone else had reminded him at one point or another to think before opening his mouth, but no matter how hard he tried his good intentions always seemed to be lost in his words. Ignoring the moment of frustration, he quickly moved closer to her.
“Hayato-kun,” she drawled. If her usual voice was like soda pop, now she sounded like a cup of warm thick chocolate. He caught her just in time as she turned and stumbled forward. The glass of red wine in her hands spilled onto his white shirt, but he didn’t have the time to care because his senses were abruptly overloaded by the distinct smell of her hair.
Realizing that she had no intention of removing herself from him, Gokudera wrapped his arms around her waist and struggled to keep them standing up straight. His efforts were in vain, however, when she tried to stand on her own again, breaking the heel on one of her shoes and bringing both of them down in the process.
His first response was to curse. She, on the other hand, seemed unhurt (naturally, having him as a cushion) and couldn’t stop laughing. He stopped attempting to move, and simply let her grab the front of his spoiled shirt and hiccup the last of her laughter. After a while, she rolled off him. He sat up and looked at her face, flushed from all the laughing.
“How much have you drunk this time?” he asked, a feeling of déjà vu washing over him.
“I don’t usually wear high-heels, you know,” she said, pointing at her broken shoe. “I would never wear them if not for Kyoko-chan. In fact, I bought these with her when we went shopping together, back when we were still in
He could only nod at her announcement. He had witnessed the friendship since its beginning, how it grew, how it weathered through good and tough times together with the family; but of course more went on behind the scenes, in a realm a mere male as he could not start to fathom.
“I also have a secret crush on Tsuna-san for a very, very, very long time,” she continued seriously.
Not so secret, he thought. That, too, he had watched by the side since it began.
“But I can never be mad at Kyoko-chan…”
“…even if she is going to marry the Tenth.”
“Yeah,” she said, looking off into the distance. Then she turned to him again, suspiciously: “Since when did you get to know me so well?”
Since that night when you forced me to listen to your autobiography, he wanted to say. Instead, he shrugged and replied, “Guess it’s the side-effect of working with you for over 10 years.”
She thought about that. Then, she said, “Anyway, it wasn’t too bad.”
“Seeing them engaged.”
That was news to Gokudera. “It wasn’t?” He inspected her face closely for signs of alcohol poisoning, but her eyes were clear, too clear for a drunken woman.
“No…” she whispered, and leaned in.
Their second kiss was much like their first one: deep, electric, and tasted of wine. Gokudera speculated briefly on why they had never kissed when they were sober, before the sensation of her shivering lips on his and his instincts took over.
They parted after some time, then he kissed her again, just to ascertain the feeling. To tell the truth, he couldn’t say he hated it entirely.
“Hmmm,” she hummed. “It does get easier after the first time.”
He paused to take in what she had just said, and slowly his eyes widened. “You remembered?”
“Everything,” she said, and the mischievous smile on her lips remained even as she kissed him again.
And both of them were so preoccupied by the moment, neither noticed the bright purple flower that blossomed above them in the night sky, so deviously beautiful, like poison dissipating in ink.