not your typical annihilatrix (furiosity) wrote,
not your typical annihilatrix
furiosity

Fic: [KHR] Second Best [Hard R; 5980, S80] (WiP) [3]

Title: Second Best [3/4]
Author: furiosity
Fandom: Katekyō Hitman Reborn!
Genre: Drama
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: 2400 [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 ] | [ 2 ]
Beta: None.
Concrit: Always welcome and appreciated.

"How nostalgic," Hayato murmured. "Going to avenge Squalo's honour with that thing?"

"This has nothing to do with Squalo," Yamamoto replied in a strained voice, frowning. "I just think you need a beating."

Hayato stuck his hands in his pockets. "And you're going to do it? Knock yourself out."

"Defend yourself, then."

"I'm not armed," Hayato replied. "Funeral, you know."

It was a lie; he had two boxes. Either one of them would be more than enough to put Yamamoto out of commission, but Hayato was long past fighting for its own sake. His dull rage had begun gaining edges, but Yamamoto was not his enemy.

"I don't believe you," Yamamoto said. "I never thought I'd see the day you were afraid to fight me."

"Quit pissing me off," Hayato replied, bristling. "I'm not stupid enough to fight bare-handed against a katana."

That, too, was a lie. Krav Maga would make it easy to disarm Yamamoto and even use his own sword against him. But Yamamoto couldn't know that. He had been so busy since he'd left Japan, after all; too busy to find out how his family was doing.

Still, Hayato just didn't want to fight him. The person he really wanted to fight lay in the coffin by Yamamoto's side.

Shigure Kintoki clattered to the ground in its shinai form, and Yamamoto lunged forward.

"Why so determined?" Hayato yelled, blocking Yamamoto's strike as he dove sideways. "Since when can words affect you so much?"

"It's not your words," Yamamoto snapped, advancing. "It's your attitude. You're worse than a kid."

"That's rich, coming from someone who starts a fight at a funeral." Hayato grabbed Yamamoto's wrists, restraining him. His training prescribed a knee to the groin at this stage in the proceedings, but Hayato still wasn't interested in fighting seriously.

"All I wanted was for you to leave me alone." Yamamoto twisted his lower arms and yanked them free, then charged forward so fast, Hayato couldn't counter and fell backwards. Fuck. I should have just kneed the bastard.

Yamamoto's arm shot forward to his throat, pinning him down. "I know you hate me. I know you always will. So just ignore me, all right? Don't even speak to me."

Hate you? Gokudera breath caught. Yamamoto was on top of him, their breaths mingling, their eyes matching stare for stare. Hate you? "Yamamoto--"

"Oi, that's enough," a low voice growled. Yamamoto's grip on Hayato's neck slackened, and Yamamoto was pulled off him. Levi tossed him at the feet of his Lightning squad members. Five others materialised next to Hayato, pointing their guns at his head as he sat up.

"Why the fuck were you fighting?" Xanxus asked, strolling out into the light and sitting down atop Squalo's coffin.

None of your business would have been Hayato's answer under any other circumstances, but he realised with a jolt that his mouth wouldn't open: Xanxus was his boss. Hayato had always been a subordinate, and it seemed that the boss's identity was incidental. The thought filled him with unexpected bitterness. "Nothing important," he said. "...boss."

"Idiots," Xanxus said. "Anyway, I forgot to give you this." He tossed a small object to Yamamoto, who caught it apparently without thought. He stared at whatever it was for a moment, then looked back at Xanxus and opened his mouth as if to speak.

"I don't want to hear it," Xanxus said. "This was always going to happen -- you knew it, Squalo knew it. No one's asking you to be best friends with the Storm brat. Let's go, Levi."

He strode off, flanked by Levi and the Lightning squad. Hayato rubbed the back of his head where one of the guns had bumped him. Yamamoto got to his feet, picked up Shigure Kintoki, and walked away in the opposite direction, limping slightly.

"What the..." Hayato mumbled, getting up as well.

Fran popped up next to him, his hat askew. "I don't think this place has seen so much excitement in months."

"Where'd you come from?" Hayato asked, still staring in the direction Yamamoto had gone.

"I was watching from the bushes," Fran explained.

Hayato frowned. "Why?"

"I don't like mysteries. You were from the same family and now you're at each other's throats. I can't figure it out."

"Stupid. You could just ask."

Fran made a face. "I did ask. Your answers were unhelpful."

Hayato began to walk back towards the mansion. "Why does it matter to you?"

"Because I'm curious. Plus, if you and him are going to be fighting all the time, maybe I'll start selling ringside tickets; the general squad is bored witless now that the Millefiore mop-up is finished."

"What do you mean by 'all the time'?" Hayato asked, his steps slowing. "Isn't Yamamoto going back to Japan?"

"Oh, I thought you knew. He's Squalo's successor."

Shit. "So that thing Xanxus threw was--?"

Fran nodded. "The Vongola Ring of Rain."

"Fuckin' wonderful." Hayato kicked a tree stump.

"Give it a rest," Fran advised him. "Also, you promised to teach me poker, so walk faster."

*

Fran's dream of selling tickets was in vain; over the weeks that followed, Hayato studiously avoided Yamamoto, who threw himself into Squalo's old job: drilling the lower-ranked members on the training ground near their barracks, along with Lussuria. Daytime was filled with the sounds of clashing wooden swords and gunfire from the range. Hayato listened to it from the balcony sometimes; his and Fran's work lay in the mansion's basement, searching for information on legacy rings in old, dusty, no-smoking-policy-necessitating logbooks.

Hayato's mind was not as great at avoiding Yamamoto as the rest of him. He kept thinking about the not-quite-fight, about what Yamamoto had said, about what might have happened had Hayato finished his sentence before Xanxus and entourage showed up. Where on earth did Yamamoto get the idea Hayato hated him? They'd moved past that years ago, hadn't they? Hadn't we?

But he didn't want to think about the past. He had put all those memories away, and it wasn't worth it to revisit them -- not even in this bizarre world where he and Yamamoto were part of the same family again. This world that could cease to exist at any moment. He had explained his theory to Fran and got only a shrug in return. Fran was curious about everything but cared about nothing -- unless he happened to be losing at poker.

On the second floor of the mansion, there was a common room no one ever used, and it was in this room's squeaky leather armchairs that Hayato and Fran whiled away their evenings, playing poker and drinking themselves silly while past Varia leaders looked on disapprovingly from their portraits on the walls.

"I fold," Hayato said with a sigh, slumping against the back of his armchair. He had drunk too much again; things were sliding out of focus.

Fran yawned and threw his cards down. "I win again."

"Bastard," Hayato said, glancing at his own cards. Fran only had a pair of sixes -- if Hayato hadn't folded, his two kings would have served him well. "Fine, ask."

They didn't play for money -- Hayato didn't have enough of it yet to be able to throw it away as easily as Fran did. Instead, the winner asked the loser rude questions, which was the main reason for the alcohol.

"What's Yamamoto to you really?" Fran asked.

Hayato rolled his eyes. A bad idea: it made his head spin even worse. "You already asked that a month ago, you tit. I'm cutting off your alcohol supply."

"I know I did. I just didn't like your answer."

What had Hayato told him that time? He didn't remember. "Yamamoto is... was someone important."

Fran took a drink and set his glass down with a too-loud clink. "That's what you said last time."

"Hn. I didn't know how important he was until he left. Happy?"

"Meh," Fran said. "You sound like Lussuria-senpai, only without the amusing penis jokes."

"Oi," Hayato protested weakly. "Don't compare me to that freak."

"I wonder if our boss knows his entire special squad is gayer than a Bovino family birthday party," Fran said, beginning to shuffle the deck again.

Hayato grinned. "Why don't you try chatting up Levi and find out?"

"What will you give me in exchange?" Fran asked, perking up.

"A blowjob," Hayato deadpanned.

Fran made a gagging noise. "Gross."

"You're hurting my feelings," Hayato slurred, pouring himself more gin. "We're out of tonic, aren't we?"

Fran stopped shuffling. "Are you still in love with Yamamoto?"

"What kind of stupid question is that? Besides, you haven't won yet." Where was the ice bucket?

"You'll never win when you're this drunk. So just tell me."

Hayato glared at him. "You're annoying. Just deal the cards."

"You are, aren't you? That must be pretty tough."

"It's not your problem."

*

Fran had to go to the mainland the next day, and Hayato was kind of glad, after last night's game. He didn't mind answering impertinent questions about his sex life and telling stories about growing up with the Tenth, but talking about Yamamoto made him think about Yamamoto too much. This was bad when alcohol was involved. After last night's round of poker ended, Hayato ended up spending twenty minutes zigzagging from wall to wall in the hallway, convincing his very inebriated brain that it was a bad idea to hunt down Yamamoto and just fucking well talk to him.

But as he approached his quarters, Hayato wondered if perhaps he had ended up doing just that and managed to block it from memory, because there was Yamamoto, leaning against the wall next to Hayato's door, watching him draw closer. Hayato stopped a few feet away, frantically trying to remember what he'd done.

"Hey," Yamamoto said.

Hayato decided that playing dumb was his only option. "Are you lost?"

"Um, no, I..." Yamamoto looked away.

"Did something happen in Japan?" With a vague pang of guilt, Hayato thought of his sister. He hadn't spoken to her in months.

"I just. I-- I--" Yamamoto took a deep breath. "I-heard-you-and-Fran-last-night-it-was-an-accident-I-didn't-mean-to-listen."

Hayato blinked. "What did you say?" Fran. Had Fran set him up? But that wasn't Fran's style at all. He just liked knowing things.

"Look, I should have stopped listening as soon as I realised it was a private conversation, but it was too late. I'm sorry." Yamamoto's face was earnest, open -- looking at him felt almost like seeing into the past.

Hayato wished for a new box weapon. A box weapon that would destroy the floor and let him disappear into the basement, never to be seen or heard from again. Thus passes the Vongola Storm Guardian, nice knowing you. Or something. He couldn't even be angry -- Yamamoto had always held all the aces in his hands, after all; this was just the inevitable joker.

"Whatever," he said, putting the very last remnants of his dignity into a nonchalant shrug. "You don't even need to apologise. We were just playing a drinking game; none of it was serious."

Yamamoto laughed. "I see, I see. Well, maybe I can join you in your game one day, what do you think?" He held out his hand. "Truce?"

Hayato looked down at Yamamoto's open palm, fighting an inexplicable urge to spit into it. That he had the urge at all proved that Gokudera Hayato didn't need any enemies -- none would be worse than himself.

He shook Yamamoto's hand briefly, letting go as soon as he could. "Look, I gotta go. We'll talk some other time." He couldn't face him like this, not until he had a chance to think back to what he'd said to Fran. He hadn't said too much, had he? He'd never get drunk enough for that, would he?

He didn't dare glance back as he let himself into his quarters. Seeing Yamamoto smile at him again had made all kinds of things tumble down from their carefully constructed cages in his mind -- memories, few as they were, all still as clear as yesterday. Smells and tastes and images, and above all, the sounds of their voices, back then, back when everything was right with the world.

"Hey, what are you--- ngh, Goku-- dera--

Just shut up and enjoy it, idiot.

Hayato stood with his back to the door, eyes shut, listening to Yamamoto's footsteps dying away.

"Save the kissing for your girlfriend."

"I don't have a girlfriend. I only have you."

"Well, don't try to kiss me, because I'm not a girl. I don't like it."

Hayato made his way into his bedroom and flopped onto the bed, mind racing. What to focus on first -- whom to blame or what to do next? But all questions stopped as he noticed something odd next to his bed. A Dying Will flame, the same colour as the Tenth's, glowing softly from old-fashioned parchment unrolled neatly on his bedside table. A letter from the Ninth boss? To Hayato?

TO: Members of the Independent Assassination Squad
FROM: Vongola Headquarters
PRIORITY: URGENT

I write this with a heavy heart, but the Vongola arm of justice is needed to eliminate a fester within our great family.

It is not a secret that the Vongola family has never involved itself in the filthy drug business, and it must never do so. We lack neither money nor influence, and the drug trade has ruined many formerly honourable families. It is unthinkable for us to even consider it. I have in my possession incontrovertible proof that the new Tenth Generation leader has been holding secret meetings with drug cartel representatives, ostensibly to lay the groundwork for involving the family in the drug trade.

It is with great regret that I charge you with the task of eliminating my son Xanxus, for with his actions, he became a serious threat to the good name and the future of this family -- a threat that cannot simply be contained until he reconsiders his actions. There shall be no quarter for those who spit upon the Vongola family's guiding principles. You must carry out this order immediately upon receiving this letter. The one who strikes the fatal blow shall be appointed as the new leader of the Varia.

Signed,
The Ninth Generation Vongola Leader.

[part 4]
Tags: fic:khr:second best
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