Title: It's Raining, It's Pouring
Fandom: Katekyo Hitman REBORN!
Pairing: none (possibly Yamamoto/Gokudera if you squint)
Word Count: 1638
Summary: Sometimes, you can’t see the forest for the trees. Sometimes, you can’t see the truth in front of your face until it’s too late. Set TYL before the events of the TYL arc.
A/N: Written for hc_bingo. Masterpost with my game card is here.
The tall man burst through the door into the private office, only to stop in confusion when the person he was looking for was conspicuously absent. “...Gokudera?”
Yamamoto paused, confusion slowly growing into frustration as he slammed back out the door, muttering a curse under his breath. Why did Gokudera get to piss and moan about people being where he expected them to be when he never was? The frustration, of course, had absolutely no foundation in the creeping fear that one of these days, Gokudera was going to go out to do something stupid, and none of them would ever see him again. The family would fall apart, and that was exactly why Gokudera couldn’t, and hopefully wouldn’t, do that.
The only place Yamamoto could be sure Gokudera wasn’t was his apartment. He was almost positive the man hadn’t slept since the Family had officially moved their base of operations into the underground bunker back in Namimori. Hell, the idiot hadn’t eaten except when one of them made him, so why should sleep be any different? Not since...
Well, Yamamoto hadn’t been able to stop having nightmares since then, either, so maybe it balanced out.
Unfortunately, Yamamoto was an optimist, so he checked there anyway. The fine layer of dust coating the small table in the entryway told him everything he needed to know. Gokudera abhorred any mess that he didn’t personally make, so he obviously hadn’t been in the suite of rooms any time recently. He didn’t even know why he bothered checking the cafeteria. That would have required an act of god, and none of them believed in miracles anymore.
No one had seen Gokudera at the front gate or in the garage, so at least Yamamoto could be fairly sure he was still on the grounds somewhere. Same with the library and, thank whoever still cared, the infirmary. Which left the very last place he wanted to look, but the one place Gokudera was actually most likely to be.
It wasn’t necessarily that he hated Gokudera’s lab so much as he hated Gokudera spending time in there. He’d become obsessed with his projects and research since Tsuna wasn’t around to drag him away from them. Yamamoto had come to despise them for what they represented, to Gokudera as well as to the rest of them. That walking into the lab at any given moment meant taking your life into your own hands was only an afterthought to his dislike. It was the last place he wanted to be, coming back from a mission that had left half his squad injured and the rest doubting the Vongola’s ability to win this war.
But when he finally pushed open the door, too mad to knock but too wary of what Gokudera might be doing to just break the stupid door down, there Gokudera was. He had his glasses on and his sleeves rolled up, scribbling madly into a book and referencing at least three others and his laptop. Probably something top-secret and meant to save them all. Yamamoto couldn’t have cared about it less. “Gokudera!”
Gokudera didn’t even give him the small joy of seeing him jump at the unexpected intrusion. Uri growled from the corner. Obviously, they’d both known he was coming. He growled back. “You can’t just shut yourself up in here and think people will forget about you.”
When he still didn’t move, Yamamoto gave up on anything resembling politeness. The fear and frustration and general uneasiness in the lab boiled down into a condensed, hot anger that Yamamoto hated being made to feel, which only made it worse. He stalked over to drag Gokudera out of his chair, grabbing his wrist before a punch or anything more serious could be thrown. “Don’t ignore me!”
Gokudera glared at him. “Let me go. I’m busy, so if people would just LEAVE ME ALONE for five minutes, maybe I wouldn’t have to hide!”
“The family needs you out there a lot more than they need whatever you think you’re fixing by being in here.” They needed a leader. Yamamoto could do his best, but he was never going to be Gokudera. Neither of them could ever be Tsuna, either, but they had to work with what they had.
“You have no idea what the family needs.”
“I think I have a better idea than you these days. I’m the one that’s seen them. Talked to them. You can’t fix everything wrong by inventing it all away!”
Gokudera was holding onto his calm better than Yamamoto had ever seen, which made part of him wonder if maybe Gokudera wasn’t on to something, just a bit. “Get out of my lab, Yamamoto. You have no idea-”
“You’re not going to bring him back!”
And just like that, Gokudera’s control snapped. “Shut up! Maybe if you’d been where you were supposed to, I wouldn’t have to!”
Even though he’d been expecting it, even though he’d all but intentionally provoked it, the attack still hurt just as much as Gokudera’s bombs used to. He flinched, just a quick twitch of his eyes away from Gokudera, but the other man wasn’t finished. He wrenched himself out of Yamamoto’s hold, backing up just enough that he wouldn’t be easy to grab again. “Who the hell are you to tell me what I should be doing, anyway? You think I can’t keep track of everything just as well from in here? You think I’m failing him at that, too?”
“Gokudera. No, I-”
There had been a time that Yamamoto had loved seeing Gokudera like this, hands clenched and eyes bright with the depth of emotion he was capable of, when he was still capable of things other than anger to come after. “At least I’m here, instead of running halfway around the world, chasing every fucking lead I can find. At least I’m trying to do something useful instead of avenging his fucking death.”
On the one hand, there was a sort of relief in hearing Gokudera finally admit, out loud, that Tsuna was gone. On the other, Yamamoto would rather rip his tongue out than hear him say it like that again. “You think that’s what I’m doing?”
Gokudera scoffed, shoulders relaxing just enough that Yamamoto’s brain could downgrade him from ‘threat’ to ‘potential threat.’ Maybe he had been out in the field too much. “I know that’s what you’re doing. I know you, idiot.”
“Not as well as you think-”
Obviously the wrong answer. Gokudera’s eyes flashed. “Don’t I?” He stomped across the office quickly enough that Yamamoto thought he was going for one of his box weapons, but he returned with only a large pile of papers, dropping them pointedly on top of his own books. “What do you think those are? How do you think I know all of that, if I’m ignoring the Family like you think I am?”
Receipts. Summaries of conversations. Photos, of himself alone or with others. “You’re having me followed.” It came out flatter than he intended, but he’d been better at hiding his emotions when he was still young enough to pretend this was all a game.
“I’m doing my goddamned job and keeping track of my Family.” Back to the shelf for more files, although he threw these ones at Yamamoto’s feet. In a way, Yamamoto felt the tiniest bit bad, because cleaning this up was going to be terrible. “The other Guardians. The girls. You want more proof?”
With the pile at his feet starting to look more like the outcome of an avalanche with every passing second, even Yamamoto knew he had to give up and let Gokudera win this one. “Okay, fine, I get. You’re doing your homework.”
Gokudera turned, but the fire was gone again. Yamamoto already missed it. “Tsuna’s gone. Who else is going to keep track of a horde of suicidal idiots?”
Obviously not any of the rest of them. Guilt was quick to set in with the realization that this was probably as much part of why Gokudera hadn’t been back to his room as whatever his pet project was. He’d been so busy doing what he thought was right that he’d never even considered the paperwork it would for someone else to clean up. “Gokudera-”
“Just get out.”
The tone brought him up short more than the words did. Gokudera had yelled at him countless times ever since they’d met, usually multiple times in any given day, but he’d never sounded quite so... final about it before. Like he actually meant it. “Gokudera.” He swallowed hard. “Hayato. Don’t do this.”
The words settled between them like a solid door closing. He wanted to say something, anything to fix it, but what was left? He’d come in here to have an argument, and now he’d lost. A lot more than he’d bargained for, too. “Okay. Fine. I’ll see you at dinner?”
No answer. Not that he expected one. None of them had seen Gokudera at dinner in months, leaving two empty chairs at the head of the table instead of one.
The door closing behind him felt as final as Gokudera’s words had. He thought about all the files he’d seen, one for every member of the Family, probably, now that he thought about it. No wonder Gokudera kept them down in his lab. It was quite possibly the most secure room in the building, and... and Yamamoto was an idiot not to have seen it before then.
He cursed silently, hitting the wall with his fist before he started back toward the main part of the house and away from Gokudera’s lab. Away from Gokudera and the knowledge that one of them had just made the worst mistake of his life, and he was pretty sure it wasn’t Gokudera.
This entry was originally posted at http://envious-muses.dreamwidth.org/18105.html.