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25 July 2016 @ 01:51 am
Fic Oversight, ch. 2  
Title: Oversight
Rating: NC-17 (sex, eventually)
Summary: Tsuna is physically unable to switch off hyper dying will mode. Everyone pitches in to help him get back to normal by tiring him out, so that he won't have the energy to keep the flame burning. It looks like for once, he's the only person who doesn't have a problem with the situation: it's useful to stay in this hyper-intuitive state, always strong, calm and capable. But some of his friends are wary about the change in his demeanour - especially Gokudera.
Notes: Six years and five days later, the second chapter that I said would probably be available shortly. sobs

1: Some lion walking round the suburb





Chapter 2: Ditches dug in tender places


Tsuna got four people crying before the sun showed properly over the rooftops.

It was autumn, and the sun rose fairly late. On an extremely early run with Ryohei, tears of passionate enthusiasm weren't unusual. The current bout actually inspired Tsuna to run faster rather than to boggle at Ryohei. There was such purity to big brother's emotions.

When he returned home his mother was in the kitchen, up early to get some of the cooking for the week out of the way. When she looked at him her expression settled into one of remembrance. Tsuna sat at the table as she worked, and she sat next to him for a while as they talked about how he was growing up to be more like his dad. Mom wiped her eyes, laughed, and kissed him on the side of his head.

"It's this school play making me think about all these things. You're good at staying in character. You're even doing the special effects this early in the morning!" She blew on the flame to make it dance and went back to cooking. When Tsuna heard Gokudera coming downstairs, he took the two big breakfast-and-lunch-boxes she'd prepared for them and they left for his next appointment.

Number three to cry was Haru.

Midori High shared facilities with its sister school, Midori Junior High. The younger girls practiced early so that the older girls could use the gymnasium in the afternoon, but Haru had proposed that the three of them come in even earlier in the campaign to tire out Tsuna. Chrome had been invited too, as she also attended Midori so that a guardian would be at hand to assist if Haru was ever targeted by enemies, but she was unwilling to get up so early. Apparently it might disturb the Kokuyo boys too much. Tsuna figured they had enough trouble sleeping already, with their past.

"I'm done stretching," Tsuna said.

"Excellent! You ... you are limber." But he wasn't going to think about that, and luckily, Haru wasn't the type to think about it either. "Let's begin!"

It was easy to underestimate Haru since she didn't fight seriously and could get as daft as Yamamoto. Right now, though, she intended to gymnastic the hell out of him and was proving herself fully capable of doing so. The movements were easy enough to figure out, but Haru had far more grace and rhythm, and Tsuna pushed his energy into learning to mimic that.

She'd never invited him or any of their friends to gymnastics presentations. From the looks of the gym they were in, with its five-tier stands lining the walls and a pile of banners under one of the stands, it was the kind of school that had events like that. It would have been comforting to simply wonder why she'd never asked them to attend, despite her high skill level, but denial melted away from Tsuna in this state. The fact was that she didn't value this anymore, compared to everything else that happened in their circle of friends.

He was angry at himself, too, and actively didn't want to push this realisation down. In part - there was no point protesting - Haru was his responsibility. That was important. Being relieved that Chrome's grades were good enough for her to attend Midori Girls' High and provide emergency protection, and then suppressing every other thought about Haru's position, was asking for trouble.

He lowered himself from the rings and waited until she caught his eye and dropped from her set of rings, and stood ready to listen. "About the Vongola," he said. "Why don't you leave us alone?"

Bull's-eye.

Tsuna started, because he hadn't meant to take a shot.

Haru rocked back, staring with wide eyes, and then forced a laugh. "Hahi? Tsuna-san..."

Gokudera jumped up from his seat on the lowest tier of one of the stands and ran over. "What are you talking about, Tenth?" he called, grinning hugely, and then gave up on seeming jolly as he reached them. "Is something dangerous going on after all?"

"Tsuna-san—" said Haru again, barely gulping her pain down, and then Gokudera just yelled. "We're going to be late for school! We should go right now, come on, Tenth!"

Suddenly the air brimmed with panic. "I only asked why," Tsuna said.

"Why ... why don't I leave? The Vongola?"

Tsuna nodded.

"You-don't-mean-that-do-you?" Haru said in a rush.

He did. But Haru had her shoulders up high and her stance was off-centre, her body crouched inwards - she was gutted, her will to help and all that energy yanked away like a mat from under her feet - and he said, "Not that way. I didn't mean it the way you're thinking. I'm not telling you to go."

She took a breath so deep she could have been trying to catch his scent and let out another shaky laugh. "You can be so blunt in this state, Tsuna-san! Be more careful of a young woman's delicate emotions."

"I really want to know why," he said. "You're giving up a lot by staying affiliated - better ways to use your skills, cultivating different ones, your safety. It wouldn't be difficult to believably cut ties, either."

Two heartbeats, and then she tilted her chin and her eyes narrowed: determination. "Rather than giving things up, I'm keeping what I want. What I refuse to leave behind, because my heart won't let me. Like the rest of you do. The rest of us."

He watched her, and she turned from him. She gathered her things.

"Morning practice will start soon!" Haru was better at being cheery than Gokudera, but she was still about to cry. "We should leave."

He and Gokudera gathered their things too. After a tense silence, Haru said, "Thanks for breaking us in, Gokudera-san. And thank you especially for not doing it by blowing up the door." She gave him an encouraging nod.

Gokudera made an animal sound of outrage. "Why would I do something that stupid?"

"You had dynamite out!"

"Only because he was nervous," Tsuna said, softly and without looking up from putting on his shoes, and felt bad for making use of how easy it was for Haru to hear his voice.

"Really?" she said, eyeing Gokudera, who was caught off-guard by the cessation in normal hostilities. He remembered that he felt bad for her, not because of her, and looked at his feet.

"Let's get going," Tsuna said. As they grouped together to leave he squeezed Haru's shoulder. She jumped as if there was electricity in the touch - and she looked at him as if she wanted to—

Luckily she just broke eye contact.

On stepping outside Haru immediately dashed away with goodbyes and excuses. The relief of being out from under scrutiny was making her shoulders relax, and Tsuna didn't think she'd cry much after all. It would help when Chrome showed up.

He braced himself. Gokudera rounded on him, frantic.

"How could you ask her that? Haru's been around practically since day one! She's always said she'd help the Vongola, and she's proven herself by now! She's working to be able to do more, too, all the time!"

"It's something I wouldn't normally be brave enough to ask about. I need to be sure." Haru wouldn't think again. Maybe she'd never thought about it in the first place, and had given up a whole life of safety and fun and indulging in her own talents because she liked to dream; but as she'd stood there, feet planted and arms akimbo, she was fully satisfied with what dreaming had given her. "I've never wanted her hurt, but she's willing to risk it. Both of us need to know that."

"You asked her to leave the family, Tenth," Gokudera said as slowly as if explaining trigonometry. "There's no need for something that drastic at all. You have to understand, there are positions for all kinds of people in—"

"I won't ask you to leave."

"I'm talking about Haru!"

"I didn't ask her to go either. And I really wouldn't ask you that, Gokudera."

It took a while before Gokudera screwed up the nerve to talk again. The day was gusty and the sky filled with shreds of low clouds, and they walked fast to stay warm; they'd get to school early enough that Tsuna would have time to use the showers attached to the gym, which was a relief. Finally, near the school gates, Gokudera knuckled his forehead as if to relieve an ache, shadowing his expression, and said, "Yeah? You wouldn't?"

"Yeah."

Very hesitantly: "Why not?"

"It's not the same as with Haru. Or Kyoko. You've always been a part of this life. It's weird to think of you regretting being in the Mafia."

"No, I definitely don't! You can be assured of that, Tenth!"

He sniffed really hard, scrubbing a quick hand over his eyes. The dimness of the day got lighter and lighter, and streaks of pink and gold cleared the early morning grey.


*



By the time Tsuna had washed and changed, school had nearly started. They hurried through the corridors to their classroom, shouldering through and bypassing knots of students, but busy surroundings did nothing to distract Gokudera, still on-edge.

"I can interpret for you and the others while you're recovering! That way we can avoid misunderstandings like the one this morning."

"No. I can speak for myself. It's good that I can make myself be honest now."

"Really honest, Tenth..."

"Exactly."

"Please, you have to consider, outside a battle situation, you don't need this level—"

"Whoa!" came out of Yamamoto's mouth instead of a greeting as the two of them entered the classroom. His smile was fading as he walked up, giving way to surprise. Looking between Tsuna and Gokudera, he saw a relentless fighter on one side and on the other, someone who was defeated.

"WHAT?" said Gokudera.

"QUIET," the teacher responded, and the three of them went to their desks.

During the beginning stretch of class Gokudera typed furiously on his phone underneath his desk. Usually it meant that he'd got into an argument on an internet forum about supernatural stuff, but he wasn't swearing under his breath or pausing for responses. Most likely he was getting in touch with Haru to make things better. One of his ways of readying himself for the future had been to start making a habit of thinking of ways to make 'family relations' run smoothly - so he did things like giving Tsuna a copy of a calendar with everyone's birthdays marked, even including the Ninth's; or there was the fact that if I-Pin and Lambo showed their faces around him after school, they had to be ready to prove their homework was done or he'd help them to within an inch of their lives (though at least his tutoring skills had developed enough that he could actually help at the kids' level). He often got red-faced and self-conscious when he did that sort of thing, but he was serious about it, and fixing the situation with Haru would strike him as an obvious task to take on.

Gokudera confirmed these thoughts once the bell rang for break and he came over to Tsuna's desk. "Tenth! I wrote to explain things to Haru! I'm sorry for countering your orders, but it really is better for her to be sure that you didn't mean it like that."

"Like what?" Yamamoto said as he approached, carrying a massive container with "Takesushi" on it - the sushi he'd promised to bring.

"There was a misunderstanding! It's not important now!"

"Has she replied?" Tsuna said. "But she wouldn't check her phone until break..." He leaned over his desk to look at Kyoko; she was in conversation with some friends in an ordinary-looking way. "I think Midori High's break is a bit later than ours. Haru would probably have said something to Kyoko, otherwise."

"Seriously, you guys. What's going on?"

"Haru thought I told her to leave the Vongola," Tsuna said, getting up with his lunchbox in hand and walking to the door. They hurried to keep up with him. "I wouldn't tell any of you that. I'd let you go if you changed your minds, but I wouldn't tell you to if you're sure about your choice."

"Simple as that?" Yamamoto said. "I bet you'd have a bunch of people on your case if you let me off the hook and they had to find you a new rain guardian. All the training you'd have to do over!"

"Simple as that." Tsuna pushed down one part of his will that baulked at the idea of no Yamamoto and what he meant to Tsuna and the others, because even all of that could not be the most important thing. "You'd be kept safe."

Yamamoto shifted the container of sushi to carry it under one arm, so that the other arm was free to put around Tsuna's shoulders. He dragged them together to walk warmly side-to-side, for longer and closer than even he usually went for. Without a word, the message was clear. It was the furthest thing from leaving,

Brought back from the brink of losing his mind, Gokudera muttered furiously enough that Yamamoto let go for a second to pat him consolingly on the shoulder. "Don't say shit like that, you've got a goddamn job to do, isn't it enough you get baseball-brain leniency for pro training and..." The patting actually seemed to help for once as he trailed off soon after.

They found a tree to eat under. Yamamoto stayed standing while Tsuna sat down and Gokudera slumped against the tree trunk looking like he needed to fan himself.

"Hey, Tsuna? Can you tell what I'm thinking?"

Tsuna looked up at Yamamoto's expression, with the grin that kept getting wider, then his arms and all the rest of his tall, strong body. It was weird to take stock of him that way - but he shrugged. "We can fight."

Yamamoto let out a pleased laugh. "This is a really neat power! It's going to be fun going up against you!"

"What?" Gokudera goggled. "Hey, no! Yamamoto!"

Tsuna told him, "It'll be a good way to expend energy, like Reborn said."

"I'm not out to hurt Tsuna, just to have fun." Yamamoto laughed. "You know this gives me the right to get on your case when you fight him to help tire him out, right?"

"I won't! We'll simply train together!" Gokudera whipped back around. "If that's all right with you, Tenth? I'll go all out with my regime. You wouldn't even need to fight him!"

"A fight would be a good way to test my skills. And Yamamoto's too, right?"

"Ooh, Tsuna, look who's getting cocky!"

"But we should have the sushi now."

Yamamoto obligingly cracked open the container and began dishing Tsuna a massive portion. "So, where do you want to have our match? Dad's dojo is too nice to get scorched, but there's a big area of cleared ground outside it, so if we're just a little careful..."

"Mmmffh," Tsuna said in a positive way, the remains of his packed lunch stuffed in his face as he avidly watched Yamamoto dish up.

"Haha, okay, let's focus on eating."

And luckily, that had been friendly enough to take the edge off Gokudera's renewed freak-out, so that he was vibrating in place only a little.

Tsuna tackled his food in a way that made the other two watch like it was a spectator sport. "Thank you. It's really good. Please tell your dad," Tsuna told Yamamoto in a brief pause. Was sushi Mr Yamamoto's thing like baseball was for his son? It was as delicious as always and Tsuna preferred it over other sushi, but was it that kind of devoted star quality? Maybe if they could afford the very best ingredients... His thoughts wandered to the way his friend played baseball, the way seriousness and joy were mixed up and both massive, and wondered if the sword and the Shigure Souen style took that role for Mr Yamamoto instead.

The image of swords flashing in his mind sort of ... wouldn't leave, his idle train of thought no longer idle but instead directed. Tsuna realised that the idea of the match with Yamamoto was making his early warning system pick up. He should have a strategy, probably. It would be a tough match... But the food was really, really good.

Tsuna decided to pick his battles: right now, his opponent was hunger. He might finally put on more visible muscle if this kept up instead of still being built so skinny. The flame would probably vanish soon, though, with the effort everyone was putting in. Oh well. At least, once he went back to normal, he'd be able to sleep without having to pack himself into a position on his back with a bunch of cushions and pillows, so he couldn't roll over in the night and accidentally set his bed on fire. The dying will flame tended not to affect other things if the will to do so wasn't behind it, but one bad dream might add enough intent to cause problems.

The rest of the school day passed peacefully enough, but in the minutes before the end of school both Gokudera and Yamamoto were fidgeting in their seats. The anticipation Yamamoto beamed out from behind him made Tsuna sit up straighter, and ahead of him, worry kept Gokudera from his usual half-asleep boredom.

It was a relief that, at the school gates, Gokudera gave a quick bow and said goodbye. "Good luck, Tenth! Don't mess up, Yamamoto! Please, I hope you have a good time and enjoy it. I'm tutoring the cow brat today ... so I won't be able to spectate." His eyes bored into Tsuna a few seconds more, he gave a near-frantic glance at Yamamoto, and then, with gritted teeth, he made himself go.

So frustrating.

From school, Tsuna and Yamamoto took a train and then a bus to the dojo - it was part of the fringe of town, one of the last buildings still in sight of others, the forest and mountains not too far behind it. Tsuna had run by sometimes during training to give Yamamoto a wave in passing.

Tranquil and pleased, Yamamoto wasn't talkative on the trip, excitement showing mostly by how often he looked out of the windows to check how far they'd got. Tsuna's early warning system turned the alarm up higher. It felt ... fun, though; maybe this was how Yamamoto got before baseball matches, nervous enough to make him invested and confident enough in his skills to be willing to test them.

The feeling was more than 'willing' for Yamamoto; he wanted to test his limits, like Ryohei would. Tsuna didn't feel that sportsman's urge, but he enjoyed doing something his friend would like so much, and it seemed like a good plan to pit himself against a fighting style he hadn't gone up against before. For the future, he needed to think of at least small plans like this to keep himself sharp, though luckily Gokudera and Reborn were there to think of bigger plans.

"First, we should warm up. This is a good start," Yamamoto said as they jogged from the bus stop to the dojo.

Instead, as soon as they could see the dojo's entrance, Tsuna slung his schoolbag onto the porch and raced for the cleared field to the side of the building, pulling his gloves on. He flexed his hands once, twice, igniting his soft-type flames with a flare to push a little way off the ground, and in that time Yamamoto gave a whoop of clear laughter. The next sounds from his direction were the ringing of sword against sheath and the thud-slap of racing footfalls, and then he rounded the corner with swords in hand.

Yamamoto hadn't wanted to bother with warming up. He really, really wanted this fight.

His wave of blue flames rushed for Tsuna, and fine steel was in the middle of it.

The match took them in whole for a time. Long or short, it was impossible to tell, because it was busy. Yamamoto had definitely come up with a strategy. It focused on keeping Tsuna out of the sky and keeping the fight on ground level. Yamamoto poured out flames thick enough to obscure vision and to make muscles want to relax under the calming influence of the rain flames. When Tsuna tried to get distance to fire off blasts from a high, safe vantage point, Kojiro would flit around him trailing dangerously hot blue-white flames that herded him downwards. And of course, staying within punching distance meant staying within reach of Shigure Kintoki. It felt like Tsuna only breathed properly again when he was knocked to the ground by a sword-strike to the ribcage.

Grass and dirt were more overwhelming to smell than the pain was to feel, and in that strange, stunned instant, so was his surprise at realising that he had been hit with the blunt back of the blade instead of its edge.

Then Tsuna rushed to gain height before Yamamoto made a return pass, shoving down how appalled he was at this instinctive surprise that he wasn't bleeding. He shot up too high, too fast, and hung dizzily in the air. Of course he hadn't been cut! No way was this anything like the death match fight Gokudera was imagining! But...

For Yamamoto, this wasn't a battle; this wasn't a test against a fellow sword-wielder who could respect, challenge, and increase his expertise; nobody was angry or hurt; all in all, there was no necessity behind the match. But, said his every action, this was Serious. Every lightning-fast attack, the taut intensity that went from the fine lines around his eyes to the lean muscles of his legs: Serious.

It was a shock. Even with the guidance of instinct and intuition, even with the dozens of times Tsuna had watched Yamamoto fight: what had been amazing to witness was twice that when up against it. Was this another thing he had avoided wanting to know about, like Haru's decisions about the Mafia? Not really. Something Yamamoto had hidden? Maybe more like he'd never needed to show it to Tsuna. He'd seen Yamamoto serious, but the two of them were usually the definition of being on the same side. This was something Yamamoto would only show an opponent.

And then when Tsuna flew back down to the match, he was just in time to see Yamamoto falter. In the process of aiming one of his short swords to throw hilt-first at Tsuna, he got a wobble-hop in his step and a "Whoa!" popped out of his mouth, and those things were not at all Serious. They were plain normal Yamamoto, and real through-and-through, not faked. The change from one mode to the other was fast!

He was looking behind Tsuna with a welcoming expression, so Tsuna turned with his hand lifted in a wave. The Sasagawas jogged round the edge of the field, keeping a safe distance as they looked for a viewing spot, and they all yelled helloes and waved at each other.

"We're here just in case!" Kyoko held a white box up - her first aid kit. And Ryohei, of course, had healing sun flame powers.

Then Yamamoto gave a sharp whistle for attention, and Tsuna threw himself into a rolling motion to dodge and find a new angle of attack. The blunt of the sword and Yamamoto surged past on his right, a blur of speed and impressions. Blue, focused, and...

He wouldn't stop. It felt like he might not stop until the next baseball practice. Which couldn't be true, it wasn't the smallest bit reasonable, but not a single sense in Tsuna wanted to tell him otherwise.

Maybe Tsuna would actually have to beat him. But ... this was his friend. And this was the Shigure Souen heir. How could he?

Greater speed to outpace the rain swallow, getting in the air for manoeuvrability, trying something surprising.

Yamamoto would expect no less than being acknowledged that way.

He shot into the centre of the sky. Yamamoto lined up again to throw a short sword and it would hurt, but there was no time to hesitate - Tsuna plummeted towards the ground, steep, like a falcon on a nature documentary diving for its prey. (Screaming met him; that wasn't something he should listen to.) Kojiro's flames were barely hot when he rushed through at this speed. The short sword hit his right thigh, changing his course with how its force made him flinch, but fine - this would look more surprising, and he could still do what he meant to. (Shouts of his name.) He extended his arms and shot arrows and edged sheets of ice at the ground, all over, the counter-force of expelling the energy enough to bounce him back upwards. Ice tore into the turf, and as Tsuna careened sideways he did his best to put a ceiling of ice on top of the slanted walls and pillars. It all crunched and creaked more-or-less into place, steaming mist into the air, his opponent inside.

Hmm ... 'Ice Palace', maybe? It was a fancy name for a technique that made such a jagged, sloppy kind-of-a-building. 'Trap' or 'Maze' could work.

It would take Yamamoto a while to get out, but by the time he did then he'd have come up with a counter-move. There was laughter echoing in the ice, along with sounds of slipping ... but having fun didn't mean that this was going to end before one of them was on the ground. Tsuna would have to be ready to punch. He had to, he had to, he assured himself in a firm mental chant, imagining Yamamoto's head snapping back in just the right, sharp way and trying to fix his determination to that course.

His fists dropped by degrees the closer Yamamoto got to making his way out, however. He let the flames on his gloves die down. Kojiro came to sit on his shoulder with a chirp.

When Yamamoto came out, ducking between two of the ice pillars, he wasn't in that competitive mode anymore; smile bright and concentration curled up somewhere imperceptible until he wanted it. He rubbed his arms against the cold, looking around for Tsuna and the Sasagawas.

"Hey," Yamamoto said, loudly enough that they could all hear. "I was thinking, we probably missed the last bus!"

"It's! Fine!" Kyoko had her arms up in a victory pose, and her eyes were enormously wide. "There's a car waiting for us to take! Us! Home!"

Yamamoto laughed, waving a hand at her upraised fists. "Who won? Tsuna and I didn't even think of setting rules for how to figure that out!"

"Both of you! That looked so cool!"

"Sawada," Ryohei roared like a joyful volcano. "You'd better remember about boxing club tomorrow!"

"I'll face practice head-on." He bowed. Ryohei practically shook with excitement while returning the bow. And decided not to change the feeling of the solemn promise by giving him a sportsmanly knock on the back, thank goodness; he was sore enough already.

Ryohei did lead them in cooling-down exercises, and they both calmed him down from turning them into warming-back-up ones. Then Kyoko herded them towards the dojo ... without even asking if they wanted to use the first aid kit... "Now, let's go get your things and tell the driver that we're ready. And, you know, maybe we can talk about, um, getting in landscape designers to do something about the field? I heard it's your dad's, Yamamoto-kun - will he be mad about what it looks like now?"

There was too much innocence in the chattiness, and Tsuna looked around. Behind them Ryohei was making a phone call, but jogging to catch up. The person on the other side picked up and Ryohei announced, "Gokudera! They're still friends!" and then Kyoko sighed and gave up on dragging them away.

Yamamoto cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted, "Of course we are! It was just a match!"

"What do you mean, it was supposed to be a covert message?" Ryohei said into the phone.

Did Gokudera have to worry this much? He and Haru had simply misunderstood the situation, and Tsuna had explained himself clearly.

It occurred to him that he could have argued earlier that fighting Yamamoto was like a match against Ryohei, and with the way Ryohei's enthusiasm never dimmed, they'd boxed a number of times over the years without it causing any worries. The thought of that conversation was irritating, though. It wasn't his job to be reassuring - it was Gokudera's.

Unfair though that feeling was, it persisted. The way they worked together should be one of the easiest things to assume of the future, but Gokudera was not working with him now, thinking poorly of his intentions and trying to fix mistakes that were actually plans.

It came on top of the unsettled feeling caused by his discovery about his other best friend. He'd always known what to think of Yamamoto, which had felt true with the same absolute consistency that it had been proven true: Strong, but also kindest and simplest among his friends.

Now he wanted to think, instead...

Strong, merciful, simplest.

Those were all still good things. Even the unexpected one. But as he walked he had to stare all around, at the others and the Yamamotos' dojo and the way the driver of the car reacted to them, to make sure that he still understood the world and his friend within it.

All of them bundled into a roomy car. The driver introduced himself as Flash, and was one-eyed because of heavy scars and not covering any of it with a nice eyepatch like Chrome, but politely unintimidating despite the scary looks; Tsuna wondered about the number of thugs in Namimori that Gokudera and Reborn dug up for odd jobs like this. All of them confirmed their home addresses after Flash read them off and gave his planned route, and settled in for the ride.

Yamamoto gestured at the dying will flame. "Would you mind if I tried to get my flame like that? Basil can do it too, and he's also got rain, so..."

"You can have dying will pills, but even with your flame like this it wouldn't be the same as what I do. Hyper intuition has to do with my family's abilities. Our DNA, or something."

"Biology." Yamamoto laughed. "No wonder it barely makes sense to me!"

They all talked of other things for a while, school and weekend plans. The Sasagawas were dropped off, and once the car was in motion again, Yamamoto sighed, slumping into the bigger space on the back seat. "So I didn't help you at all, huh? The dying will flame doesn't look smaller."

"It's not like that's the worst outcome."

"Hmm." Now he was thinking of what could have been worse. "Hey, Tsuna. I had fun, but ... I don't know if I want to fight you again?"

Because Yamamoto knew himself, and yet had also been surprised at how it felt to pit himself against a friend.

Because Tsuna wasn't supposed to ever, at all, in any way be someone who tried with a will to bring harm to him. That didn't bother Yamamoto if he didn't let it - look at Squalo, or Kaoru - but it was not the kind of friendship he had with Tsuna, till now.

They had both made discoveries.

"If you change your mind, I'm ready for it. That was good for me, regardless of the flame," Tsuna told him. "Baseball would be the normal kind of fun, though, I'm pretty sure. We should do that. Or train together, like Gokudera suggested."

Cheer pulled Yamamoto upright as he agreed they should play again. He didn't change his mind about not wanting to fight again, though, and even avoided mentioning training.

Tsuna was dropped off next, and Flash started talking with anticipation about having some Takesushi as Tsuna climbed out. As the car drove away, he waved a last goodbye and came to a conclusion: His friends weren't at all ready for him to be ready. Really embarrassing. At least he wasn't the only one figuring things out; he and Yamamoto were together in that. Like they had always been, like they would always be.

The front door banged open. Gokudera yelled and ran to meet him.

"It went fine," Tsuna said in greeting, and then, "All right, already. You can call Yamamoto and check with him, too."

Gokudera turned colours. "Well - thanks, Tenth," he managed, agonised but still dedicated to his idea of what was going on.

This was going to get in the way of everything Tsuna could now acknowledge was important.

And it wasn't supposed to be like this anymore, where it was practically a miracle each time he and Gokudera managed to meet in the middle of two totally opposite sides of not getting each other. This sucked.

Tsuna informed himself that he could stop sulking with a dying will and be the one doing the reassuring for once.

"I found something out, though," he said. "It felt weird, but it's good. Yamamoto is different when he fights. When he's your opponent ... I always thought I had a good idea what he's like. What he wants to be like. But there's another side to him, to how he fights and wins, and it makes it harder for me to believe that he'd be able to settle for baseball. Even though that's what happened in the ten-years-later world. It takes away from everything amazing he could do."

"Was it ever a question? The dumbass was always going to try for both this and baseball," said Gokudera, looking pleased and pissed off in a way that said he'd doubted Yamamoto's choice constantly, even as he'd known to rely on him. Still, he was relaxing a bit...

"My question was if I could support it. Now I know I can do it fully, because it's good for him to have the sword, to fight, because it's - just him. We're going to be a very good team, all of us, without a doubt."

...and right there, at the point that was supposed to prove everything was the way he hoped for it to be, Gokudera wound himself right back up.

"What's wrong?"

"I'm thinking about Lambo's training, now that I'm tutoring him," Gokudera said, forcing his attitude into something businesslike. "For the same reason, the sake of being a team. He's improved a lot even at his current age, when it comes to fighting, but it has to kick up a notch for the Vongola Lightning Guardian. Or else he wouldn't even get as good as adult Lambo is now, right? He needs training. Tenth, I have already made a request of your mother, and she's fine with it, but can Lambo be permitted to stay at my flat tonight?"

Bad sign! "Are you leaving? You don't have to."

Gokudera blushed. "Thank you! I just thought, the noise, the potential property damage... And there was some pretty important stuff I would like to discuss with just him at first, that would maybe take a while for him to really understand."

From the house came a high, hopeful voice: "Hey, Gokudera, are you outs... TSU-NA! I gotta ask--!"

"And he's looking forward to sleeping over," Tsuna observed as Lambo raced over.

"I NEED TO GO STAY WITH GOKUDERA!" Lambo stopped short of attaching himself to Tsuna's leg, glancing at the flame. "For training to get more powerful!" He puffed his chest out. "It's very serious and important."

He put a hand on Lambo's shoulder in acknowledgement but before answering asked Gokudera, "You're going to be that kind of home tutor to Lambo from now on? It seems like a lot to take on."

"Like Reborn-san? Yeah, that's the basic idea EXCEPT UH, NOT IN A BIG JERK WAY ... or anything..."

"That's important to remember," Tsuna agreed, privately rooting for Gokudera in what seemed like an epic struggle not to roll his eyes. Lambo, who had stiffened in betrayal on hearing Reborn's name, looked between their almost equally straight faces and regained the veneer of confidence.

"I'm going to learn how to blow up more stuff! In more ways! Using aalllll my Bovino presents!"

"You mean, the ones that you remember the name of!" Gokudera barked, hauling Lambo back from Tsuna to deploy a glare. "That's the only clue we have in a lot of cases for what the damn things actually do. Even the Ten-Year Bazooka looks normal until it gets fired."

'That's a lot, I swear I remember sooo much!" Lambo lied. "Um, I gotta go pack. Stupid Tsuna, you're supposed to be the boss, tell me I can go with Gokudera-san already!"

The respectful honorific was almost a surprise, except Tsuna had seen the admiration in Lambo's excitement, and his pure joy in being acknowledged. He had picked a good time to use it - it stunned Gokudera to a standstill, so he didn't take revenge for the rudeness towards Tsuna.

Tsuna gave a nod, got a hug, and then Lambo ran hollering back inside. They followed him at a slower pace, Tsuna offering to help inventory the weapons that the Bovino semi-regularly had delivered to the house, so that he could point out when Lambo was making up names, and they discussed whether or not I-Pin should also get training. But I-Pin was dedicated to her art and hardly a single day had passed, since she'd come to live with them four years ago, that she didn't do exercises Fon had set for her; besides, Lambo loved having attention all to himself while I-Pin would often rather do without.

Tsuna laid out his homework in the sitting room while Gokudera hung back to check in with Yamamoto, a conversation that rapidly took on normal levels of chattiness, yelling, and groaning on this side, and at the edge of hearing, laughter down the phone line. Gokudera walked back into the room with a smile.

It was like a hit. A hit to the whole of Tsuna inside and out, but one that still meant he'd won, relief lifting him up and making his stomach drop with the exact same feeling as freefall.

Wow. It was weird having hyper dying will focused on something everyday like making a friend feel better. Even if it was really important on a not-everyday level too.

"Hm? Tenth, what's up?"

He made himself stop staring. "I ... was just thinking. Thanks for organising first aid and back-up. You know, it's a good thing that it was you who did that. If it had been Reborn - it's not like anyone else would think to do it - it could have meant that Yamamoto was even more intense than I found out today, and that Reborn wanted me prepared for it. I could almost believe that of Yamamoto, but it would have been harder to deal with."

"Yeah, I guess. I remember that one time when he and I had a fight that got really serious ... you know, Lightning Gamma ... and the look on his face..." Gokudera sighed heavily, but time had done enough work that he didn't sink into the pain of the memory. "You know, Tenth, I kind of won against Yamamoto? Aside from being the biggest dumbass about the whole fight to start with. But even if he cost me teeth, I gave him a blow that could have counted him out if it had been a normal situation, and I wasn't holding back!"

"Cost you what?"

Molars, to be precise. Gokudera opened his mouth wide to show the gap, merely sheepish about it.

"Don't do that again."

"Definitely not, Tenth!"

"I'm not going to fight Yamamoto again either, so that's fair on my side."

"I'm really glad to hear that!"

Protecting his family was a lot harder when he was protecting it from itself. He almost asked to call Yamamoto too and make absolutely sure that Gokudera was not in the same fight-friends category as Squalo. And what the hell had Gokudera done to Yamamoto for the "blow that could have counted him out"?

Distraction from this head-swallowing, directionless distress came in the form of a series of thumps upstairs. "Let's help carry whatever that is," Tsuna said, taking the excuse to grab Gokudera's arm in all its uninjured, reassuring glory and pull him to the kids' room.

Lambo had packed remarkably sensibly, with one bag of clothes and toiletries, and one bag (big, bristling, but not outsize) of weapons. The problem was that he'd left the room covered in weapons he was leaving behind. Still, Tsuna stopped Gokudera from scolding him, knowing how much worse it could be. His own room was in much worse shape half the time, although at least his kind of mess couldn't detonate.

The noise of repacking and stacking crates drew his mother upstairs, at her usual light-footed dash even after a full day, and she clapped her hands together in delight when she looked in. "Tsuna, you're home! I have such nice news. Your papa called earlier! I'll tell you all about it over dinner. And Gokudera-kun, you're helping Lambo-kun clean too? Aren't you a sweetheart!"

Before he left for the night, Gokudera gave Tsuna a good squeeze on the shoulder. He knew what Dad was like, after all.

Lambo demanded loudly that they get going, and waved to Tsuna and I-Pin as they saw him off from the door. He had a big bounce in his step; silly kid. He fought so hard to look impressive and was so ready for anything that could make it stick.

Once the rest of them were seated at the kitchen table with their plates loaded with food, Mom repeated her news about the phone call from Dad.

"That's fast," Reborn commented.

She took it as a compliment, cheeks pinking with a cheerful blush: "Yes! Why, so soon after Iemitsu's last visit! I thought perhaps something had gone wrong at work, but he assured me it was nothing. He was dying to hear all about how you're doing, Tsu-kun!"

Yeah. Sure.

Mom had told Dad all about the way Tsuna was practicing for the school play, of course, with the special effects makeup and staying in character all the time. And she also said that they'd discussed how I-Pin and Lambo were doing in school, and she'd checked in to make sure that he was still fine with Futa not going to school and doing self-study instead, and getting someone over to give the house a fresh coat of paint, and a lot of other household, hometown things. So the call wasn't only for Dad to check up on Tsuna's unusual circumstances ... but still, that was probably the main reason behind it. He would have called to talk about that other stuff at some point, but calling this soon after putting in an appearance was unusual, and since it was an unusual time all around, it meant something. But how had he known he needed to check in?

After dinner, over homework, while Mom and I-Pin were clearing up in the kitchen, Reborn casually answered the question unprompted.

He made sure that Tsuna had wrapped up his science homework with a fair number of correct answers, then said, "There's a possibility that Iemitsu has a much closer eye on you these days, if he was calling to hear about strange circumstances so fast. It's unlikely to be anyone new on the roster, or the sense of the change would have bothered both of us; still, it's not ideal if we missed an increase in surveillance of any kind, even from the steadies."

"He hasn't asked me to help with any extra surveillance," Futa said from amid the stacks of paper he used when busy with self-study, a little disappointed at not being thought of, but then peered around a stack to beam at Tsuna. "Of course, last time I told him that even though I come from a long line of information brokers, there's no way I'd bug Tsuna-nii! Papan must have taken that to heart."

"And it's not my line of work at all, so he knows not to bother me again," said Bianchi where she lounged on the couch. "Too boring."

Tsuna stared at the three of them in turn, stuck on thinking, 'There's a roster.'

Eventually Futa came round to sit on his side of the table and give him a hug.

It made sense once he gave it time to sink in past surface resistance, but he had never once noticed a thing. A security measure like that would have been put in place a long time ago, before or right after Dad stopped coming home... Who watched him, where? On the streets as he walked his regular routes to school and home? The neighbours that might come over or talk to him and Mom; random people passing them by?

He could find out. He could handle that now - looking in the eye any substitutes his father had put here; seeing what he might have left in place for them since before their lives were shifted closer to the centre of danger. After Enma and the other Simon, and what their past had got him to believe about Dad ... it was right that Tsuna find out any truth that was available to him.

And protection wouldn't only have been left outside the house, either.

But it was late - his mother would go to sleep soon, and her room was a good place to look. Tomorrow, then.


*



So. Plans.

Running was done. More tiring than the exercise had been convincing Ryohei that the boxing club should meet somewhere else than the regular room, so Hibari wouldn't interrupt again, but at least it had been accomplished. Then there was the need to be open about his intentions for the future; so he should ask everyone to some kind of meeting, including one that would work for those who didn't attend Nami High. He didn't have any afternoon activity beyond boxing club, but that gave more time to go through the house and find his father's secrets.

Jogging home from the morning run, Tsuna waited for his skin to prickle, his ears and eyes to pick up something that would lift his attention from his route. There was nothing for his intuition to pick at. Nothing unusual. No reason to be suspicious of something that had been happening for so long.

It was weird. And it clearly hadn't always worked, considering the past few years of his life, but it had at least worked until the Mafia had crashed irreparably into his life. He couldn't really complain. But he did have to know.

He was the boss. He worked with CEDEF. There was no need to let their activities continue without his awareness.

It still felt weird to act like this, he thought with guilt. No wonder his friends weren't ready for him to be ready. To think of ways to do the stuff he needed to in order to be able to live with himself and die without regret ... jeez, he could almost wish more of it involved straightforward punching.

He got washed and dressed, and, since there was much truth in the name of the Extremely Early Morning Run, he had time left to finish the homework that he'd been too stunned to process last night. He hummed along with nothing for a while, knowing this particular sound wouldn't disturb Reborn who was sleeping in his hammock, and shortly afterwards his mother was up and cheerfully busy in the kitchen, so that his humming matched with hers. Then he headed down for breakfast.

Someone came to the door as he was coming down the last few stairs, and then they unlocked it. Amazing - Gokudera must have got Lambo out of bed early.

On second thoughts, maybe they hadn't slept at all. There was something terrifyingly manic about them. Thank goodness Gokudera was the one carrying the weapons bag, for the slightly increased chance of restraint that implied.

When Gokudera caught sight of Tsuna, the mania turned hopeful, which was much nicer than the "ballistics crazy" version. Lambo, on the other hand, pointed at him accusingly. "You don't know what it was like!" he intoned with conviction. "It was awesome."

"Maman has food going," Tsuna said, "just for you," and Lambo broke out of his weird sleep-deprived trance with a squeal and ran into the kitchen.

"It's really important," said Gokudera out of nowhere, staring at him and waiting for salvation. What did salvation entail this time, though, that was the question.

"Food?"

He rubbed the heel of his hand into his eyes. "Sorry, Tenth! That's not how I wanted to start this conversation. I've been thinking and thinking, and that popped out..."

"Is it the important thing you said you were going to discuss with Lambo?" Tsuna led the way into the sitting room, so Gokudera could put down the weapons.

"O-oh, that's - right, Tenth, yes, I did mention that." While he did lower the bag to the floor, he clutched the straps in both hands, staying on his feet despite Tsuna sitting down. Gokudera was more in his own head than standing between four walls; back to his own agenda, which Tsuna couldn't be sure of matching up to, however much they needed to be able to do that. Hadn't they sorted this out yesterday? Well, they'd sorted out the Yamamoto thing; Tsuna was still giving Haru space... He sat tense, waiting for the rest.

"There's something that we can do to prepare for our future in the Mafia. But it's a bit, I mean, you have to approve because it's ... not the kind of thing we, as the Vongola Tenth Generation, really do..."

"Tell me."

"We have to send Lambo away," Gokudera said. "I've been thinking about it for some time. If he leaves us for a while - for a pretty long time, I guess - it would explain why he used to call you 'young Vongola' when, as adult Lambo, he was fifteen, how he referred to all of us like there was distance between us, all that 'Gokudera-shi' like he's a damn newsreader ... he's got to go back to the Bovino. They can train him in his family techniques - the serious weaponry aside from the Ten-Year Bazooka, and the Elettrico Cuoio. All that kind of thing we only have second-hand sources about because the family's so specialised and reclusive. Not being known is practically what they're most known for, in spite of the fact they've got so much unusual stuff to their name. They'll help him make the most of himself as a guardian."

Gokudera was making sure to build a solid argument, but it didn't take a second's work to make the basic idea fit into the pattern of adult Lambo's behaviour. Back when they'd first seen him, he had not entirely pretended to be aloof and cool, removed from them and unaffectionate despite baby Lambo living with them for so long...

Gokudera was testing Tsuna with this.

It couldn't be helped.

"Yeah. That makes sense," Tsuna decided. "He'll go."

A growl worked loose out of Gokudera's throat, tiny, the smallest part of anger, betrayal. "Simple as that."

Tsuna glanced to the window and the crack in the curtains - from how the light outside looked the sun was not yet up over the buildings, but it was close. There had been no tears this morning, only his friend's jaw now tensing in a bitter inability to keep talking to him.

He supposed he was improving.

 
 
 
rina_yukinarina_yukina on July 25th, 2016 04:48 pm (UTC)
Yay! You updated!~ :D
And because I dived head first into it without refreshing my memory, I was a bit lost..XD Haha, that's just me...thanks again for updating~
demoerindemoerin on July 25th, 2016 05:29 pm (UTC)
Well really, I absolutely can't blame you for not remembering the details anymore. OTL I think I'll try and write a fuller summary.

Thanks for reading! <3