Pairing: Gokudera/Haru, mention of Tsuna/Kyoko
Word Count: 2,948
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, Gokudera and Haru escaped to safety. Or, had they?
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4
Hard. Damp. Cold.
Hell was not at all like what Gokudera had expected.
He was awake. He had been for a while. And for an indeterminable length of time, he had been trying to move to no avail. What had happened to his body? Did he still have a body? Could it be that all that was left of him was his soul, floating in the middle of nothingness?
The last thought made him will his body to move harder than ever.
That seemed to do the trick. He could, suddenly, sense his fingertips again. He tried moving them.
“OW!” he complained, but it came out more like a croak.
With that first sensation of numbness, feelings of pain came crashing onto him like heavy waves from all directions. He was quite sure he had not died, unless dying was really as crappy as everyone else said it was. The horrible sensation of ants climbing up his limbs as blood rushed back into vessels made him groan again, and he became aware that certain parts of his body weren’t supposed to bend that way.
As consciousness returned to his body, so did the memories of what happened. He cracked open his eyes, but could not see much beyond the fact that he was in a cave of some sort. The only light was the occasional lightning that flashed through the mouth of the cave some twenty feet from him. It was raining so hard outside that he couldn’t tell if it was day or night.
What day was it? Where was he? Where were… they? He turned his head both ways, and by the light of a timely lightning saw Miura lying some distance from him. With some difficulty he crawled to her, put a finger to her nose, and sighed in relief. Though they had apparently crash-landed, she seemed unhurt and alive.
Sitting up, he reached into his pocket for his lighter. The small flame in his hands instantly brought warmth and chased away the vulnerability he felt in the dark. He looked around to find that the cave was small and bare, except for a tracking device resting on a flat piece of rock near the back of the cave. He went to pick it up. The Tenth had probably set up the transmission point here and expected him to catch up with them quickly, but he could not even tell the time right now. He suddenly wished he had taken the glow-in-the-dark watch Yamamoto had gotten him last Christmas as a joke.
He went on to make an inventory of the things he had on himself: one pack of wet cigarettes, one wallet, one lighter, one bunch of keys, three boxes, zero dynamite. He attempted to produce flames with his ring, but it stared back at him blankly, as if mocking his incompetence. Cursing, he replaced the cap on the ring. It wouldn’t do to be discovered right now; he had no way of defending himself other than his fists, and he wasn’t exactly a boxing fighter.
Shit, he thought, sliding down against the wall. He could really use a cigarette now; any day he felt envious of the Sun Guardian, he must surely be losing his mind.
After considering his options, Gokudera decided that they first needed to get out of the cave and find out where they were. If they were lucky, the Tenth and the others may still be around. So he picked up the still-unconscious Miura, grumbled about her weight, and braved the rain.
After what seemed like hours of sloshing in mud and more grumbling (which got increasingly creative and colorful as time wore on), Gokudera found his way out of the woods. He could see a small town in the distance, probably the same one where they had left the Tenth, but he did not think he could make it that far. For some reason, he felt exceptionally tired.
He walked some more, and found himself in front of a small cottage—more a rundown hut, really, but he was not in a position to be picky. He knocked on the door briskly; even the action of lifting his hand was a chore.
A moment later, the shabby wooden door opened to a crack, and a pair of cautious eyes peered out. They belonged to an ancient man, his height hardly reaching Gokudera’s waist. “What do you want,” he said with a heavy Sicilian accent.
“My… wife,” Gokudera said, almost biting his tongue over the word, “got hurt when we were hiking. We need a place to stay the night.”
The old man took in the sight of them, then turned and motioned for Gokudera to follow him. He did not ask any questions. Either the guy’s used to men in bloodied suit carrying unconscious, foreign-looking girls on their backs, Gokudera thought with some alarm, or he’s just really hospitable.
He preferred to believe the latter.
The man gave them a room that smelled like dust and a towel that didn’t look like it had been washed in years. Gokudera pulled out a hundred-Euro bill and the man gave them two mugs, two used toothbrushes, a hairbrush, and an indefinite period of stay.
From the old man, Gokudera found out that two days had passed since he left for
“Has anything weird happened lately?” he asked the old man. “Houses exploding, maybe?”
The old man told him that for the past two days there had been a lot of racket on the north side of the town, but it was raining and he could not understand why anyone would choose to play with fireworks in such stormy weather. It was, of course, a telltale sign that mafia warfare had recently broke out in the area.
Gokudera felt the urgent desire—or rather, a burning need—to go find the Tenth, but his body was screaming for rest. Besides, Miura hadn’t woken up yet. That night, he slept in the chair as if it was the softest bed he had ever slept on.
When the next morning came and she remained asleep, Gokudera began to be anxious. He fed her some water to see if that would wake her up, but she was unmoved by his kind action. He also pondered the feasibility of slapping her, but thought better of it. In the end, he had no other choice but to take up the old man’s offer and stayed a few more days, spending the majority of his time sleeping.
In the rare moments when he was awake, he sat by her side and just let his mind wander. Sometimes he thought about moving her to the floor and taking the bed, since the chair was getting harder by the night. Sometimes he thought about sleeping next to her; it wasn’t like she could tell the difference anyway.
But most of the time he thought about that night and what he could have done. He could have left her with Kusakabe first, instead of letting her tag along, putting both of them in danger. He could have gone into the room first, sparing her the horrific scene. He could have listened to the boss and be teleported to
If he had to make the choice again, would he choose to save her parents over the Tenth’s safety?
No. Yes. Maybe. The answer did not matter now; it would not take away the crushing weight he felt on his shoulders. Gokudera turned to look at her, lying so peacefully on the bed. What would she look like when she opened her eyes again? Would she cry? How would she face him—with accusing tears, murderous glare, understanding smile?
And, just when he had almost given up hope of ever finding out, she woke up.
That morning, Gokudera verified once again that the old man was in no possession of easily combustible material, and unless he would like his new dynamites to be made out of the tobacco the man chewed, he was going to be out of weapons for some time. When he returned to the room, he saw her sitting up on the bed, just like that, as if she had been doing so everyday.
“Haru!” he blurted out, and rushed over to hold her hand.
The expression on her face said that she was not completely alert yet. She called back faintly, “T-Tsuna-san?”
The smile that Gokudera didn’t know had appeared disappeared again. He dropped her hand. “I’m not the Tenth, woman.”
Her head swiveled this way and that, her eyes stopping only briefly on him. “Gokudera, of course,” she chuckled. “Why are we…?”
The way she looked away from him and the hollow sound of her laugh gave rise to a ridiculous fear in him. Surely memories were trickling back by now. “We were attacked,” he said delicately, bracing himself for her outburst of tears and screams.
It did not come. Instead, a look of confusion appeared on her face. “Attacked? I can’t… I remember getting off the plane.”
“Yes, it happened after we got off,” he said, slightly impatiently.
“Is that so?” she said, her face wrinkling up in her effort to recall. “Ryohei-niisan had come to
He recognized that she was talking about her pre-engagement-party flight to
“I came to pick you up at the airport.” The words were out so easily that he didn’t think to stop them. Why the hell do I feel the need to lie? he asked himself, while his mouth continued to move on its own, “We were attacked on our way back.”
“Oh,” she said. Then she asked, “Is that why we’re hiding in a dumpster?”
“Dump—what?” He looked at her; she was still not looking back. Only, she wasn’t really avoiding his gaze. He grabbed her hands, and stared into her big, glassy eyes.
“Holy Madonna,” he said.
It was like one of those questions on personality quizzes: What would you do if you suddenly went blind? A) Get in front of a TV with a tub of ice-cream. At least you could still hear! B) Shed some tears, and then go find a doctor; C) Drink some rat poison, slit your wrists, and jump down a cliff.
Haru had always thought she was an A type of girl, peppy, cheery, the glass was always half full. It turned out that she was none of the above. She could only sit there as Gokudera explained to her what had happened in a slightly fanatic voice. They were attacked, separated from the family, and somewhere along the way she lost her eyesight.
Just as when she first knew about the true nature of the Vongola, just as when she learned that her best friend was dating the man she loved, just as when Kyoko invited her to be her maid-of-honor, Haru listened to Gokudera calmly, nearly disinterestedly, as if she was listening to a fuzzy radio talking about someone else. No tears, no pangs of sadness, no anger, nothing… yet. She knew they would come, but now, her mind worked clearer than ever.
“You said we’ve been detained here for three days?” she asked, interrupting him.
A pause, and Haru remembered belatedly that the Storm Guardian did not take well to being interrupted. “Woman,” Gokudera, who also had the bad habit of calling her all sorts of things but her given name, said finally, “you were out cold.”
Was that worry in his tone? That was something new. “Well, I’m grateful that you didn’t leave me behind, Gokudera,” she said as lightheartedly as possible. “I think we should get a move on, though, don’t you?”
“I— You just got up,” he retorted, and Haru recognized that as the voice he used whenever he was being stubborn and wouldn’t admit that her plan was a good plan. “Your… eyes, they need rest.”
“I feel fine,” she assured him. “My eyes are not going to see again just because I lounge around doing nothing. Now go out while I get ready.” She gave him a shove, and he moved without much resistance. Perhaps her straightforwardness had startled him. Perhaps he had wanted to leave the room as much as she had wanted to be left alone.
After he was gone, she went about preparing herself mechanically. There was not much to the routine; she did not seem to have any personal belonging with her. The shirt she was wearing was not hers, and she tried not to think of the implications of that. She slipped on her shoes, which she found under the bed. Then she stood up, wobbly at first, found her way to a small basin, and splashed water onto her face. She gave her cheeks a couple of slaps quickly. Get a grip, Miura Haru, she ordered herself, and turned to exit the room with as much dignity as possible.
Gokudera was waiting outside the door. She let him take her hand to guide her to a second-hand motorcycle that he had found somewhere. Carefully, he lifted her up onto the seat before getting on himself. She joked about feeling like royalty, with her own bodyguard, and they were off.
It wasn’t until they were well on the way that she could feel tears coming up. She tightened her arms around him and buried her face deeper into his back. The wind was too strong, and she could no longer keep the sand out of her eyes.
When they left the cottage, Gokudera’s instincts told him to remove the house with the old man in it, along with the evidence that they had ever been there. The man knew too much, said the cold, detached part of his brain. But the disappointed face of the Tenth materialized in his mind, and he did not do it. He was certainly going mellow, or, in Hibari’s words, “becoming an herbivore,” like the rest of them.
There’s something to be said for killing, he thought, glancing in irritation at the tracking apparatus he had attached to the front of the motorbike as a temporary GPS. Two dots of energy were fast approaching them, and they did not seem to be friendly fire. That old man had better not betrayed them, or he would go back to make sure that he die a slow and agonizing death.
Actually, even if he had not betrayed them, he most likely had already died a slow and agonizing death. After all, those were people who had no qualms with hacking heads off with axes.
Without warning, bullets flew by them, missing them by mere inches. Nope, definitely not friendly.
Gokudera gave the screen another swift look. Three miles until the next town. Could they make it? “Miura,” he roared into the air. “Hold tight!” She did as she was told. Her weight and her warmth on his back only reinforced his one conviction at this time: they would both be alive to see the Tenth and the family again. He stepped on the gas.
The town was close, and getting closer and closer. The question was, could they reach it in time, to dive into the safety of crisscrossing alleys and secret doorways? Gokudera pushed the bike beneath him to go faster, but the old thing coughed violently, threatening to fall apart in the pressure. Two more miles to go.
Gokudera soon noticed that, while their pursuers were gaining on them, they had not activated their box weapons. He thanked whatever deity looking after them that these were amateurs, whose command of hyper-flame was limited to transportation uses. However, at this distance, even good old bullets could be deadly. He made up his mind in a second, and turned sharply into the woods.
The terrain of the forest was much more rugged and bumpier than the highway they just got off. She emitted a small gasp, the sound a mixture of thrill and fear, and Gokudera could only imagine what it was like to ride a motorcycle at this speed in a dense forest, blindfolded. Maybe it was better that she couldn’t see—there were branches sticking out in mid-air everywhere. The men behind them were slowed by the overgrown trees as well, but they were by no means letting them off.
Gokudera was no longer looking ahead. He pressed his head as close to the handlebar as possible and his eyes were fixed on the tracker. He hoped his body language was enough to notify the woman sitting behind him what they were about to face. She was a smart one, Miura; she would understand.
Hold on tight now, he said again, not out loud this time.
They were almost there now, almost, almost…
The trees parted, the bushes gave way, and the land came to an abrupt stop. With a last, extra step on the gas, they were in the air. The motorcycle shone momentarily in the sunlight, before plunging into the valley below.