Fandom: Katekyō Hitman Reborn!
Rating: Hard R (overall)
Pairing[s]: Gokudera/Yamamoto, side Squalo/Yamamoto
Warning: Character death, angst
Spoilers: Through Target 227
Disclaimer: Amano owns. I only play. You do not sue.
Length: 2200 [this part]
Summary: Gokudera wakes up in a world that by rights shouldn't exist anymore, but the world just won't quit. Neither will the Varia.
Previous Parts: [ 1 ]
Concrit: Always welcome and appreciated.
Hayato made a face and looked back at Xanxus. "He's joking, right?"
Xanxus smirked. "I didn't know humility was included on your c.v."
"Humility..." Hayato murmured, crossing his arms. "Are you people on crack?" He pointed a finger at Levi. "Did you let your boss sleep through everything again?"
Levi frowned. "Huh? Whaddaya mean?"
"What are you doing, going around recruiting people?" Hayato demanded, this time jabbing his finger in Lussuria's direction. "The world's about to fuckin' disappear; you were there, you know what the boss did!"
The Mist kid sighed theatrically and looked up at Levi. "I thought you said he wasn't as crazy as Bel-senpai."
"Er," Levi began, but Xanxus raised his hand, shutting him up.
"Is that what Irie Shouichi says will happen?" Xanxus asked, glaring down at Hayato.
"What does Irie have to do with it?" Hayato returned, reaching underneath his collar to free the Vongola Ring of Storm. "This says it will happen."
"I wonder," Xanxus drawled, withdrawing his right hand from his pocket. On the ring finger glimmered the Sky Ring. Hayato realised that Lussuria and Levi were wearing their respective Vongola Rings, too. Even the Mist kid...
"I see," Hayato said slowly. "You can have the ring if you want it."
"Dimwit," Xanxus replied. "It's the wielder I'm interested in."
"You're ranked number one among 382 possible candidates to replace Belphegor," Lussuria put in. "And don't stand with your mouth open like that; it's unsightly."
Hayato narrowed his eyes. "Sasagawa's behind this, isn't he?" He should have known. Knowing that the Varia were one short, Sasagawa must have asked Fuuta to do a ranking and forwarded a copy to Lussuria. Fucking lawn-headed freak. He had always been far too friendly with the Varia.
Lussuria puckered his lips in a grotesquely exaggerated manner. "Leave Ryohei out of this. ♥"
"Will you kill me if I refuse?" Hayato asked. He had no desire to join the Varia, but if they were going to give him an easy way out, he'd take it.
"With a death wish the size of yours? Not likely," the Mist kid muttered, peering at Hayato intently from beneath his hat. "We'll go after the former Guardians. Wouldn't thank us for that, would you?"
"We could start with Yamamoto-kun," Levi agreed. "Since we know where he is. Even though I still really want to kill that cow kid."
Yamamoto...-kun? Hayato's blood began to boil.
"No," Xanxus said, and the other two fell silent. He turned to Hayato. "I don't want you joining for someone else's sake. You swore to serve the Tenth Vongola until death. You can honour that allegiance... or you can die an oath-breaker. Thirty seconds."
Oath-breaker. As long as Hayato could remember, others had always broken promises and let him down, except for the Tenth. As a child, Hayato had vowed he would never break his word. And he had sworn to serve the Tenth generation Vongola boss. But what did it matter? Even if word got to his father that he had died a coward, what the fuck did it matter?
Xanxus took out his gun, and a woman at a table behind him yelped and dove to the floor. Hayato and the others had been speaking Japanese, but guns spoke the same language everywhere.
It did matter. Even if the world winked out of existence in the next moment, Hayato was not prepared to die on someone else's terms.
The Varia residence turned out to be far less than a hovel than Hayato had imagined. It was a handsome three-story manor house not unlike Gokudera's childhood home. Masked from view by a sparse forest, it was invisible to ships approaching Isla Ustica. The third-floor balcony stretched above a series of caves, affording a view of the island's jagged coastline. Somewhere to the south was Palermo, hidden by the sea even on the clearest days.
This was home, apparently, but Hayato doubted he would ever really feel at home in Italy anymore. He'd spent too many of his formative years in Japan -- not seeing a living soul for weeks on end felt unnatural. But there was nothing for him in Japan anymore. Nor here, it seemed. Since moving in two weeks ago, he'd been left alone for the most part, which intensified the eerie sense of wrongness. Now what?
"Put this on or you'll catch a cold."
Hayato turned around to find Fran standing in the doorway, proffering a leather jacket. "What's it to you?" He took the jacket anyway.
"So rude," Fran replied, gazing out at the sea. "Seen any scuba-divers?"
Fran's favourite hobby was to cast illusions at the divers who sometimes surfaced amidst the rocks below: he showed them sharks, mermaids, Nessie, giant crabs. Despite Hayato's best intentions, he found it amusing, too.
"They never come at night," he replied, huddling into the jacket. It had been cold.
Fran leaned on the railing and regarded Hayato calmly. "Say, aren't you and Yamamoto friends?"
Hayato lit another cigarette. Somewhere in the depths of the mansion, Squalo was dying, and Yamamoto rarely left his side. Hayato didn't understand why Xanxus let an outsider live here like that, even for the time being, but he wasn't in a position to ask any questions.
Friends. His and Yamamoto's relationship was impossible to classify with just a word. "I guess we are. Why?"
Fran shrugged. "He always smokes alone on the other side."
Hayato took a deep drag and exhaled, watching the smoke dissipate into the crisp air. "Maybe I should keep him company one of these days."
"Ah, best friends forever, I see," Fran said with a sigh, and lobbed a pebble at the caves below.
Hayato didn't mind Fran. His apathy was calming.
"It's a long story," Hayato said, closing his eyes.
The balcony door banged open, glass shattering. "What the fuck are you two doing out here?" Levi demanded as he strode out across the checkerboard-patterned floor. "And where the fuck are you communicators?"
Hayato threw his cigarette over the railing. "I was trying to have a smoke. Where's the fire?"
"Stick to weapons systems," Fran remarked. "Your puns are terrible."
"The boss wants everyone in Squalo's sickroom," Levi snarled. "NOW!"
Fran sighed. "Has Squalo-senpai decided to quit on us already?"
Levi gave him a push from behind. "Move your ass, you son of a frog. You too, Gokudera."
As they followed Levi down the spiral staircase, Fran elbowed Hayato in the ribs. "You know, I think he was implying that you too are the offspring of a frog. You going to let him skate with that?"
Hayato barely heard him. Yamamoto waited at their destination, and Hayato had done his best to avoid him since coming here. He didn't know why. It shouldn't have mattered -- they could've had a drink or two, maybe talked about old times. Hayato had even wanted to see him. But every time he thought about it, bile rose in his throat -- it was here, in this mansion, that Yamamoto had... betrayed him? Forgot about him? It was too confusing, all wrapped up in strange feelings Hayato wanted no part of.
"Took you fucking long enough, you brats," Xanxus barked as they filed into the sickroom.
The bed was roughly the size of Hayato's Namimori apartment, and Squalo, pale and thin, was little more than a wrinkle in the numerous blankets. Lussuria sat next to the bed, adjusting the controls on a machine. Xanxus towered behind him, looking murderous as usual.
In the furthest corner, Yamamoto sat atop an air mattress with his back to the wall and his eyes tightly shut. Hayato focussed on Fran's hat.
"Talk to me, Lussuria," Xanxus said as Levi stopped next to him.
Lussuria shook his head. "They've spread to his brain, boss. We're talking minutes here."
Squalo had fought Genkishi again last month -- he had won, but Genkishi's Hell Ring had left a present -- an army of microscopic creatures that fed upon his insides, eroding him little by little. Lussuria and Sasagawa had been able to do anything, and neither had a small battalion of mafia doctors.
"Is this how you're going to die, you useless fuckwit? Eaten by a bunch of fuckin' ants?" Xanxus bellowed, leaning over Squalo to peer into his face. Lussuria quickly rolled his chair out of the way.
"Fuck off," Squalo whispered with a ghostly grin.
Xanxus reached down and grabbed a fistful of Squalo's hair. "Kid, bring your katana."
Yamamoto slowly rose from the mattress, picked up his shinai, and stepped towards the sickbed.
A rivulet of blood ran down from Squalo's mouth as Xanxus raised his head off the pillows. "Cut it off," he commanded, glaring at Yamamoto.
Yamamoto's eyes widened. "H-His head?"
"Are you fucking nuts? His hair, you moron. Cut it off, now."
Yamamoto glanced at Squalo, who shut his eyes in acquiescence. Blood was running from the corner of his mouth steadily now, and his skin was ashen. In one fluid motion, Yamamoto drew Shigure Kintoki and swung. Squalo's head dropped back onto the pillows, and Xanxus threw the hair down on the bed, covering Squalo's blanket-covered outline with it.
"Fucking boss," Squalo rasped, his bloody grin wider now.
Hayato had been watching this with mounting horror until he remembered being told, years ago, that Squalo had promised not to cut his hair until Xanxus's plans succeeded. So that's how it is. Hayato glanced at Xanxus, whose face displayed nothing but the usual fury. But there had been enough in this one gesture to help Hayato begin to understand how this man could inspire loyalty.
"I'm not gonna stand here and watch," Xanxus announced after he and Squalo had stared at each other for a good five minutes. "Later."
He strode out without looking back, Levi at his heels. Not a moment later, Squalo's head rolled to the side and the machines around him began to beep frantically, as though playing a bizarre kind of death march.
Yamamoto's shinai clattered to the floor as he sat down heavily atop Squalo's bed. Lussuria began to unhook the wires in the back of a monitor. Fran tugged on Hayato's sleeve. "Let's go."
Hayato looked at Yamamoto. He sat motionless, clutching fistfuls of Squalo's hair, staring down at Squalo's face with unmoving eyes. It reminded Hayato of the night the Tenth had died. Except the Tenth had died alone, and Yamamoto had probably been "training" with Squalo when that happened. So Hayato had no sympathy.
He allowed Fran to lead him away.
"It should have rained," Fran said, walking back towards the mansion.
Hayato lingered, watching Yamamoto kneel by Squalo's coffin. It would stay here in the forest for seven days, after which they'd bury it. Hayato was glad they were in Italy; one thing he would never miss about Japan was the ghastly funeral ritual. Picking bits of the Tenth's bones from the crematorium ashes... He shuddered, wondering if Yamamoto actually wanted that kind of funeral for Squalo.
Even if he did, Xanxus probably wouldn't have cared -- he hadn't come at all. Levi and Lussuria had left earlier, and now Hayato and Yamamoto were the only ones in the clearing. Alone together at a funeral. Hayato chuckled to himself bitterly. No matter how much he tried to despise Yamamoto, to blame him for everything, it just wasn't working. He felt nothing but acrid regret for the intervening years -- lately, he wondered if things would have turned out differently if he hadn't driven Yamamoto off.
He put a hand on Yamamoto's shoulder. "Are you going back?"
"Go away, Gokudera. I want to be alone with sensei."
Go away, Gokudera.
Go away, Hayato, can't you see I'm helping your sister with homework?
Go away, we don't need piano-playing weaklings like you here.
Go away, Gokudera, Tsuna doesn't need you anyway.
Gokudera-kun, can you come back later? Kyoko-chan is coming over...
Take the night off, Gokudera-kun. Reborn is coming with me to meet with the Gesso.
Hayato didn't ever get hurt; he always went straight to angry. And now, his anger rose like thunder, twisting his guts into elaborate, painful knots. He wanted nothing right now than to make Yamamoto hurt.
"Just make sure you put your precious sensei's clothes back on properly when you're done with him," he spat. He didn't even know, precisely, what he was saying -- he was so unbelievably pissed off that his brain was on autopilot.
"That," Yamamoto said quietly, "was low even for you."
He rose and turned to face Hayato, his eyes flat.
Shigure Kintoki flashed in the moonlight.