Hayato sat at the grand piano in the music room of his family's large estate, brow furrowed in concentration as he practiced playing the piece he had chosen for his first-ever public recital at one of his father's extravagant dinner parties. He had been told, time and again, that he was allowed to use the sheet music during his performance, but his stubborn nature wouldn't allow it. Either he would play the piece from memory or not at all.
One of his small fingers slipped and hit the wrong key, causing a stray note to sound in the middle of his performance, and Hayato grimaced at the unpleasant sound. He continued to persevere, however, recovering almost immediately from his slip-up and completing the rest of the song flawlessly.
Closing his eyes, he let out a weary sigh and placed his hands in his lap, thoroughly displeased at his own incompetence. He always managed to mess up at that one part. His hands were simply too small to make the transition between the proper keys. Perhaps he should have chosen a less complicated piece, but he knew it was one of his father's favorites and he wanted to make the old man proud on his big day.
The sound of someone clapping brought Hayato suddenly out of his thoughts. His eyes snapped open and he turned on the bench to see who had dared to walk into the middle of his private sanctuary during this crucial practice session. Before him stood a girl about his age, wearing a frilly blue dress. Her long black hair had been pulled into pigtails which were secured with matching ribbons, the ends styled into tight ringlets which framed either side of her face. Eyes the same startling shade of ice blue blinked rapidly as she stared back at him, her hands stilling immediately once he set his glare upon her.
"Who are you, and what are you doing in here?" Hayato demanded, his green eyes narrowing slightly at the intruder.
"I-I'm sorry," the girl apologized, her voice small and quiet as she clutched at the ruffled skirt of her dress. "I heard the music and it was just so pretty I wanted to see where it was coming from."
"I've never seen you around here before," Hayato remarked. He had been comparing the girl before him to the children of the servants and his father's men in the back of his mind, but none of their faces matched hers.
"I'm visiting with my Uncle Antonio," the girl told him, taking a cautious step toward him. "We're here for the party, but he had business with the master of the house so we came early."
"Antonio Macchiarolo is your uncle?" he asked, eying her a bit less suspiciously as she continued to move closer to the piano. He recalled his father mentioning that the man would be coming to discuss some sort of merger between their families, though he had no idea exactly what sort of deal would be taking place.
"Yes," she replied with a nod, causing the large curls of her hair to bounce like springs.
"What's your name?" Hayato asked her once she came to stand directly beside the bench he was seated upon.
"Gianna," the girl replied with a smile. Hayato blinked a few times, feeling his cheeks heat up when he saw her smiling at him, and he promptly turned his attention back to the black and white keys of the piano.
"Nice to meet you," he muttered, attempting to hide his embarrassment. "I'm Hayato, the Boss' son."
Gianna continued to smile at him and he glanced at her out of the corner of his eye briefly before staring once more at the piano.
"Will you play me another song, Hayato?" she asked hopefully, and he turned his head fully to look at her once more. No one had ever asked him to play for them before. No one except that woman who used to come to visit him when he was younger. Sure, his father had requested he play at the party but he merely wanted entertainment for his guests, not a private exhibition.
"I... Sure," Hayato replied after a moment, the blush returning to his cheeks. Gianna giggled happily as she climbed up onto the piano bench to sit next to him, and he looked at her nervously for a moment before he began to play another song he knew by heart – one which that mysterious woman had taught him long ago.
From the doorway of the music room, Hayato's father quietly watched the unfolding scene with another man about his age. The two of them exchanged a look before wordlessly turning away, closing the door silently behind them so as not to disturb the children.
"It appears we have much to discuss, Antonio," the master of the house said, turning to his old friend with a smile.
"It would seem so," Antonio Macchiarolo agreed with a hearty chuckle, and the two of them retreated to the parlor to discuss the future of their children over brandy and cigars.
Eight Years Later...
A black car pulled up to the front gate of Namimori Middle School, its tinted windows concealing the passengers within from the students who were filing into the school. Inside the car were three people, along with the driver, who sat in silence as they watched the students who were milling about.
"Are you sure about this?" asked the younger of the two men seated in the back of the car. He reached out a hand and placed it upon the small, slender hand of the girl sitting next to him. She turned her head and looked at him, giving him an unsure smile.
"There's not really any turning back now, is there?" she asked in reply. "I did run away from home, after all."
"I don't know why," the young man said with a small chuckle. "I'm sure your uncle would have gladly arranged for you to come out here to see him."
"I highly doubt that," the girl replied with a shake of her head, turning her gaze out the window once more. "He's heard about what's been happening here, lately. He'd probably be too afraid I'd get hurt."
"He's not the only one," the young man remarked. The girl turned to look at him, smiling.
"I'll be fine, Dino," she assured him, giving his hand a squeeze.
Dino Cavallone, the tenth generation boss of the Cavallone Famiglia, returned her smile with one of his own as he tightened his grip on her hand.
"Besides," she added, looking over at the older man seated across from them in the back of the car, "Uncle Romario gave me his blessing by coming along with us."
"I am not your legal guardian, though, Gianna," Dino's right-hand man pointed out to her. "Antonio would be greatly incensed if he found out I had any hand in helping you leave home."
"Papa Tony only got full custody of me because of my mother's will," Gianna pointed out to him. "You have as much right to be a part of my life and my upbringing as he does."
"There he is," Dino interrupted their conversation, pointing across her line of vision. Ice blue eyes followed along his finger and lit up with recognition as they fell upon the figure of the silver-haired teenager walking to school with his friends.
"Hayato," she said his name under her breath, a smile spreading across her lips as she instinctively brought a hand up to her heart. Her other hand reached for the door handle, but Dino grabbed her shoulder and stopped her.
"Where are you going?" he asked her, brown eyes narrowed slightly.
"I'm going to talk to Hayato," she told him, her tone suggesting it should have been obvious what she had in mind.
"That wasn't the deal, Gianna," Dino argued, shaking his head slightly. "I agreed to fly you out here so you could see that he was alright. You've seen him, now it's time to go home."
"No," Gianna stated firmly, her grip on the door handle tightening. "I want to stay here with him."
"It's too dangerous, you know that," Dino reminded her, his voice taking on a softer tone, his concern for her well-being showing in his eyes.
"I'll be careful, I promise," Gianna assured him. "Please, Dino..."
Dino looked at her pleading eyes and felt himself beginning to cave. She'd always been a part of his life, from the day she was born, and ever since her parents had been killed he felt especially protective of her. She was as much a member of his Family as one of his men, and he did his best to look out for her the way he looked out for them. He knew that the incident with Mukuro Rokudo was likely to be just the first of many dangerous situations Tsuna and his Family would get themselves involved in, and the protective older-brother side of him wanted to keep her as far away from that as he possibly could. However, the side of him which wanted to do everything he could to make her smile was easily starting to win out in this argument.
"You promise you'll stay out of any fights he's involved in?" he asked her a bit begrudgingly.
"Of course," she told him, nodding slightly.
"If you get involved at all, Gianna," he told her sternly, "or the first time you get hurt in any way, I'm taking you back to Italy."
"Thank you, Dino!" Gianna exclaimed, letting go of the door handle in order to throw her arms around his neck. She hugged him tightly, and Dino laughed quietly and wrapped his own arms around her, reaching up with one hand to gently stroke her dark hair. He let his eyes fall closed as he continued to embrace her, a content smile gracing his lips. She was happy, and for that he was glad.
"Boss?" Romario said from his seat, clearing his throat a bit to get their attention. "We really should be heading back."
Dino sighed and released Gianna, placing his hands on her shoulders and holding her at arm's length as he looked at her.
"I expect you to call me every day to let me know how you're doing out here," he told her. "And don't worry about your Uncle Antonio. I'll take full responsibility for you leaving when I get back home."
"Okay," Gianna said, nodding. She leaned forward and gave him a quick kiss on his cheek, then smiled and opened the car door.
"Thanks again, Dino!" she called as she stepped out of the vehicle and closed the door behind her.
Dino watched her as she walked through the gates and made her way into the school, a small sigh escaping his lips. Romario watched him silently, choosing not to say anything despite his own reservations about leaving Gianna behind. He knew the tenth Vongla boss and his guardians would be able to protect her, but he was worried for the same reason Dino was: There was a serious threat that someone would find out about Gianna's lineage and try to exploit it if they left her here, where they wouldn't be able to protect her.
"Are you sure about this, Boss?" Romario asked, studying the young mafioso.
"Yeah," Dino replied, a wistful tone to his voice as he continued staring out the window after her. "Gokudera can take care of her."
"So can you," Romario pointed out rather knowingly.
Dino turned his head and looked at him for a moment, eyes a bit wide, then he smiled ruefully as he closed his eyes and let out another sigh. He should have known his right-hand man would be able to see through the facade and tell just how much he truly cared for Gianna. It was hopeless, though. She was far too much younger than him, and her heart already belonged to someone else. So he was content to remain in his 'big brother' role, just as long as he got to see her smile.
"Let's go," he called to the driver up front, opening his eyes in time to watch the school disappear from his view as the car pulled back out onto the road.
You had better keep her safe, Gokudera, he thought in the back of his mind. Or I will never forgive you.
Gianna finds Hayato, but doesn't quite receive the warm welcome she had been hoping for.
Gianna looked around nervously as she walked down the main hallway of Namimori Middle School, which was blessedly devoid of any students. She was, after all, technically trespassing just by being in the building, but she just wanted to find Hayato and talk to him. The only problem was that she had no idea which of the classrooms was the one he was in, and so she found herself having to stop at each one in order to peek in through the small windows on the doors. Five, six, seven... She mentally counted each classroom she checked for him, only to find no sign of him. A part of her wondered if maybe he had decided to skip his classes – which wouldn't have been a big surprise, knowing him – but she decided to continue on her search until she had exhausted all possible options.
"Hey," a voice called from behind her – an adult, male voice. Gianna froze. She had been caught sneaking around, and now she was going to have to come up with some sort of excuse for being in a school where she didn't belong. She began to turn around to address the person who caught her when he suddenly continued to speak.
"What's a cutie like you doing sneaking around in the hallway during class?"
Gianna's eyes went wide and her head snapped around to stare at the man who was coming up behind her. She knew that voice. It belonged to the lecherous doctor who used to work for Hayato's father. The last time she saw him was at a party she had gone to with her uncle, a few years after he began 'practicing' freelance. She remembered that he had been extremely drunk and hitting on every female in the room – including her. It didn't matter that she was only nine years old at the time. It seemed like he was simply drawn to anyone producing estrogen.
"What are you doing here?" she found herself asking him before she could stop herself, using the language of their mutual homeland. Shamal stopped in his tracks, blinking in confusion as he took in the appearance of the girl in front of him. Apparently, she knew who he was, but he was having a hard time placing her face from her profile. It wasn't until she turned around fully to face him that he realized who she was.
"Well, well... Little Gianna Macchiarolo, all grown up," he purred as he started to approach her once more, lecherous grin in place. "I must say, you look quite lovely today. But what is it that you're doing here?"
"I'm looking for someone," Gianna replied in a slightly annoyed tone, taking a few steps back away from him.
"Oh? Were you looking for me, perhaps?" he asked her, winking. Gianna rolled her eyes.
"No, I'm looking for Hayato," she informed him. "Would you happen to know which classroom he's in?"
"I do," Shamal told her, nodding. "And I will gladly tell you, for a price."
"Give me a kiss," he playfully demanded, puckering his lips and closing in upon her. Gianna brought up one hand to his chest and attempted to hold him off, but he was taller and stronger than her and she knew she wouldn't be able to keep him at bay for long. Turning her face away so that his lips wouldn't come into contact with hers, she began digging in her bag with her free hand. After a moment, she pulled out a small can of mace and – without hesitation – sprayed it in his face.
Shamal let out a loud yelp and jumped back as the pepper spray invaded his eyes, reaching up with both hands to futilely attempt to rub the offending substance away while cursing in Italian. The noise was enough to draw the attention of the students from several of the nearby classrooms, and they began filing out into the hallway to see what the racket was about. Gianna started to panic, knowing that she would now end up being discovered and thrown out of the school without even finding Hayato, but her worries faded away the instant she noticed a head of silver hair peeking out from behind the shoulders of a couple of upperclassmen.
"Hayato!" she exclaimed, dropping the can of mace to the floor as she rushed toward him. The other students stepped aside as she approached, turning to look at the transfer student whose name she had called out, and she smiled when his face finally came into view. She slowed down once she reached him, taking in his full appearance before enveloping him in a tight hug. The embrace caused numerous whispers to erupt from the surrounding students – mostly from the females who had formed a devoted fan club in his name – but it also caused Hayato Gokudera's expression to take on an unusual air of confusion.
"Gi-Gianna?" he said her name, unsure how she even knew where to find him, let alone how she would have gotten out from under her uncle's ever-watchful eye in order to be there. Gianna loosened her grip on him, but never fully released him, and looked up at him with a smile. His heart began beating a bit faster and he willed himself not to blush, even though he could already feel the heat rising in his cheeks the way it always seemed to whenever she smiled at him like that.
"What are you doing here?" he asked her once he finally found his voice again.
"I missed you," Gianna told him as she reached up and pushed a stray lock of hair out of his eyes. "And I was worried. I heard you got badly injured in a recent fight."
"Who told you that?" Hayato wondered aloud, his brow furrowing slightly. The Macchiarolo Family was well-known for keeping mostly to themselves, so he doubted that news of what was going on in Japan would have made it through the grapevine to them.
"Dino told me," Gianna informed him, and he sighed a bit. Of course he should have known it would be Dino who told her about it. Subconsciously, he'd known all along the head of the Cavallone Family was keeping tabs on him just as much as he was keeping them on Tsuna. He hadn't thought of the fact that he was likely keeping Gianna informed as to what was going on, though.
Tsuna's voice pulled him out of his thoughts, and he turned away from her in order to be addressed by him.
"Who is this person?" he asked, gesturing toward Gianna.
"She's no one, Tenth," Hayato told him. "Don't worry about it."
He grabbed Gianna by the hand and began pulling her away from the crowd of people who were watching their every move, leading her toward the stairwell that went up to the roof of the school. He felt her hesitate for a moment before following him, and glanced back to see her looking away from him with a dejected expression on her face. As he turned forward once more, he gave her hand a gentle squeeze as a sort of silent apology, knowing her sadness was caused by the way he had just brushed her off in front of Tsuna and everyone else who had been watching them. He'd done it for her own good, though. The less people who knew about her, the better. Now all he had to do was convince her to go back to Italy and wait for him to return someday.
That was definitely going to be easier said than done.
Tsuna blinked rapidly as Gokudera rushed off with the strange girl in tow, wondering why he was pretending she was no one when she very clearly not only knew him but seemed to care a great deal about him. He had seen the immediate shift in her emotions when Gokudera had insisted she was nobody, and while he trusted his friend a part of him was still curious and wanted answers.
"Why not follow them?" Reborn suggested, apparently reading his thoughts the way he always did. He didn't bother waiting for an answer, instead hopping down from his hiding spot in the ceiling and following after Gokudera and the girl toward the stairwell.
"Reborn!" Tsuna called as he chased after him, but he already had a head start and was well on his way up the stairs by the time Tsuna finally began stumbling up them.
"Hey Tsuna! Going to get some air?" Yamamoto asked as he approached, his bat slung over one shoulder. Tsuna turned to look at him and pulled himself back to his feet, sighing quietly.
"A girl showed up to see Gokudera-kun, and he took her up to the roof. Reborn went after them – probably to eavesdrop on them – and I was just trying to stop him," Tsuna explained, then took off up the stairs once more.
"Gokudera has a girlfriend?" Yamamoto wondered aloud as he wandered up the stairs in Tsuna's wake, his own interest piqued.
The two of them stopped short when they saw Reborn standing at the door to the roof, holding up a hand to halt them. He had the door open just enough that they could peek out and see Gokudera and the girl standing together on the roof, talking. Tsuna listened carefully, but he couldn't understand a word that was being said between them.
"Are they speaking Italian?" he asked Reborn, who nodded in reply. "Can you understand what they're saying?"
Reborn nodded again and made a thoughtful noise as he continued to listen to the conversation. Tsuna waited for him to tell them what was being said, but Reborn continued to silently watch the unfolding scene, so Tsuna returned his attention to the conversation, as well. Even though he couldn't understand a word of what was being said, he could tell that Gokudera and the girl were both upset. He sounded like he was angry, while she sounded like she was about to cry.
"What's going on?" Yamamoto asked, loud enough for Gokudera to hear it, and the conversation suddenly stopped between him and the girl.
"Nothing," Gokudera practically growled, turning away from the girl and stalking toward where Reborn and the others were situated. She remained standing on the rooftop, staring out over the school grounds, her hands clenched into fists at her sides. Gokudera pushed past the three of them and went back downstairs, but Tsuna hesitated to follow him.
"Are you alright?" he asked as he stepped out onto the roof with the girl, hoping she could understand what he was saying. She turned to look at him, smiling faintly as she reached up and grasped a medallion hanging around her neck.
"I'll be fine," she told him with a nod, then she quietly excused herself and headed toward the stairwell.
"Interesting," Reborn mused after she was out of earshot. Tsuna and Yamamoto both looked at him, waiting for him to say something else, but he merely started to head inside once more.
"Reborn!" Tsuna called, rushing to cut him off at the top of the stairs. "What is going on?"
"I need to talk to Gokudera about his friend," Reborn replied, side-stepping around him.
"Why?" Tsuna asked, following him down the stairs.
"There's something interesting about her."
"I want to know about his girlfriend, too," Yamamoto chimed in, sounding as carefree and cheerful as ever.
"She's not my girlfriend," Gokudera corrected. Tsuna turned and found him leaning against the wall at the bottom of the stairs, a freshly-lit cigarette in his mouth.
"Then who is she?" Tsuna asked, choosing not to point out the fact that smoking on school grounds was against the rules and would get him into serious trouble with Hibari if he happened by.
"Just an old friend," Gokudera brushed off the question, slowly blowing out a puff of smoke with a heavy sigh. Tsuna noticed that the anger he had been exhibiting before appeared to have been replaced by a sense of melancholy. It was unusual to see him in such a state, and Tsuna was about to question him about what was really going on when Reborn suddenly spoke up.
"Is she from the Macchiarolo Family?"
Gokudera looked at him, eyes wide, his mouth hanging open slightly as he held his cigarette between his fingers.
"How did you know that?" he asked, sounding surprised.
"Her necklace," Reborn replied.
"Her necklace?" Yamamoto echoed. Reborn nodded, hopping up to perch on top of Tsuna's head.
"It had a gypsy coin on it," Reborn pointed out, earning a slight smirk from Gokudera as he brought his cigarette back to his lips.
"You don't miss anything, do you?" he muttered around it before taking a long drag.
"You mean, she's in the mafia?" Tsuna asked, blinking in shock.
"Her name's Gianna," Gokudera informed them. "She's the niece of the boss of the Macchiarolo Family."
"The Macchiarolo Family is the least-trusted family in the mafia alliance," Reborn added. "They're descended from gypsies, and many of them are said to have certain abilities."
"What sort of abilities?" Yamamoto asked.
"They're mystics and seers," Gokudera said, dropping his cigarette to the floor and stamping it out. "People go to them for advice and potions."
"You don't sound like you believe in what they do," Reborn remarked.
"I don't," Gokudera said, turning to them and shoving his hands in his pockets. "I've heard people call them 'miracle workers,' but there's a reason they're not trusted. They'll work for whoever has the money to pay them."
"So you don't trust her?" Reborn questioned him.
"I... I never said that," Gokudera stuttered.
"You implied it."
Gokudera looked down the hall, in the direction Gianna had gone off in as she left the school. Yes, it was true that her family had a less-than-stellar reputation – but it was all rumor and based on the way their family used to be run before it became a part of the alliance. Ever since the Macchiarolos joined the alliance, they had been as fiercely loyal to the other families as they were to their own kin. There were a few members who still did anything for anyone for the right price, but he knew Gianna and her uncle weren't like that.
"Gianna's trustworthy." he said before heading off to class, not wanting to discuss her any further.
"You should apologize," Reborn called after him, stopping him in his tracks. Gokudera turned his head slightly as he kept speaking. "Men in the mafia are supposed to be kind and respectful to women, remember?"
Gokudera sighed and continued on his way to class. Behind him, Tsuna and Yamamoto shared a confused look while Reborn hid a knowing smile.
Bianchi offers to help Gianna with her brother, and Gokudera tells Tsuna and Yamamoto about his history with her.
Gianna slowly made her way out of the main building of Namimori Middle School, her head hung low and eyes glued to the ground in front of her. She wanted to scream and cry at the same time, as much from frustration as from rejection.
Hayato had treated her just like everyone else. She had hoped that he, of all people, would understand her need to stand on her own two feet – but he'd been as adamant as the others that she return home and keep to her safe little life at the Macchiarolo estate. To add insult to injury, he had also told her he didn't need her. That wasn't true, though. He'd been severely injured before and she knew it would have been worse if it wasn't for her. Things were bound to get harder from thereon out, and she knew in her heart that if she wasn't able to be there for him...
She stopped short, closing her eyes and taking a slow, deep breath to calm herself. She didn't even want to think about what might happen to him, in that case.
When she opened her eyes and continued walking, she found herself coming face-to-face with Hayato's older sister. She was standing there in a stunned silence, holding a wrapped bento box in her hands. Gianna tried to smile and greet her, but the smile was forced and before she realized it she had started crying.
"What did my stupid brother do?" Bianchi asked, her eyes narrowing slightly. She knew he lacked the proper skills for dealing with women, and she also understood the depth of the girl's feelings for him far better than he did. She'd been able to see it even when they were young children playing together in the garden of their father's castle.
"It's my fault, really," Gianna told her, shaking her head slightly. "I never should have expected him to simply welcome me with open arms. That's not the kind of person he is. He's the type who has to stand on his own two feet. He doesn't need anyone, least of all me."
"You don't really believe that," Bianchi told her, unconvinced by her little speech. Gianna looked at her and smiled faintly, shaking her head a bit.
"I have to keep telling myself that, though."
"Hayato does need you," Bianchi assured her, holding out the bento to her. Gianna hesitated a moment, looking at it in confusion, then reached out and took it from her as she continued speaking. "He's hopeless when it comes to taking care of himself, but too stubborn to admit he needs someone to take care of him. I bring him his lunch every day, but he refuses to eat it because he doesn't want to admit weakness by accepting the kindness of others."
Gianna forced another smile and nodded in agreement. She didn't have the heart to tell her that the reason her brother refused to eat her food was because it was poison and he'd been traumatized by being forced to eat it on so many occasions as a child.
"Come on," Bianchi ordered, turning and making her way from the school, beckoning Gianna along with a wave of her hand.
"Where are we going?" Gianna asked as she followed, still holding the bento box in her hands.
"Let's go have some tea and you can tell me what Hayato did that upset you so much, then I'll tell you what you should do to fix things."
Gianna laughed and jogged a few steps until she was walking side-by-side with the older girl. It wasn't the first time Bianchi had decided to offer her advice unsolicited. Since she was older, she seemed to always believe she knew more about the world than her juniors. Maybe she did, but it didn't mean she was right. Gianna would listen to her, however, because despite not asking for the advice, she looked up to Bianchi and would take whatever she had to say into consideration – especially concerning Hayato, because he was her brother and she knew him in a way Gianna didn't.
"So," Bianchi prompted, turning to her as they kept walking, "what happened?"
Hayato pulled Gianna out onto the roof and turned to her, eyes squinting in the bright sunlight as he looked at her silently for a moment. She looked exactly the way he remembered: Long black hair held out of her eyes with two matching gold hairpins with tiny blue flowers on them the same color as her eyes; the long, thick lashes framing those eyes; her perfect skin with a slight olive complexion, marked only by the tiniest speck of a mole at the outside corner of her left eyebrow... and that smile. That damn smile of hers which always made him blush.
"Why are you here?" he asked her again, automatically speaking the language they both grew up with. "How did you even get here?"
"I wanted to see you," she repeated, placing a hand on his chest and smoothing out the slightly wrinkled shirt of his school uniform. "When I heard about what happened, I knew had to come and make sure you were alright. I asked Dino to help me come out here."
"I don't need you checking up on me and playing nursemaid, Gianna. I'm not a little kid any more. You just..." He let his voice trail off when he realized he was actually starting to yell at her and took a moment to reign his temper back in.
"You shouldn't have come," he told her after a slight pause, his voice still angry but not quite as harsh, and he sighed as he gently gripped her hand by the wrist and placed it back down at her side. "It's too dangerous here."
"Why is that all anyone can ever say to me whenever I want to go anywhere or do anything?!" Gianna asked him, the volume of her own voice rising considerably, as well. Hayato blinked in surprise. He'd never heard her get angry before.
"It's what's best for you, Gianna," he told her.
"You don't know what's best for me," she shot back, shaking her head and fighting tears. "Dino doesn't know what's best for me, my uncle doesn't know what's best for me. I'm the only one who can make that decision."
"Trust me, Gianna, you should not be here," he insisted. He still remembered every detail of the fight with Mukuro, and he didn't need to be worried about her getting involved in such affairs in addition to worrying about the Tenth's safety.
"If it's so dangerous, then maybe you shouldn't be here, either," she replied. "I don't know why you even left in the first place."
"Reborn asked me to come here," he said.
"Did Reborn also tell you to not say goodbye, or to never call or write to let me know you're okay?" she asked, voice shaking as tears started to form in her eyes. "For all I know, you could have been dead, Hayato. That's why I asked Dino to keep me informed about what's been going on with you out here."
"You asked Dino to keep tabs on me?" Hayato asked her, a slight edge to his voice.
"He told me you were out here and I asked him about you whenever he came back from one of his trips," Gianna clarified. "Please don't be angry, Hayato. You know I worry about you. I always have, because I--"
Luckily, Yamamoto had chosen that moment to interrupt their conversation. He knew what she was about to say, though. She'd already said it to him before, almost a year ago when he'd gotten into a particularly rough scrap with some thugs in Sicily that ended up putting him in the hospital with two broken ribs and a concussion.
Hayato sighed and tried to focus on the textbook laying open in front of him on his desk, but his mind kept going back to her and replaying that conversation over and over in his mind. She'd been on the verge of tears when he left her on that roof. Then, as if he hadn't already felt guilty enough for that, Reborn had reprimanded him for his poor treatment of a woman – again. It wasn't his fault, though. He didn't know how to deal with them. They were all overly emotional and emotions were the one thing his genius intellect couldn't fully comprehend.
Reborn was right, though. He needed to apologize to her, if for no other reason than to alleviate the burden on his conscience. How he was going to apologize was an entirely different question altogether, though. If she had listened to him, she should already be on her way back to Italy by now. He doubted that was the case, so it was a matter of figuring out where she was staying in town. He supposed he could call Dino and find out where she was, but that would mean talking to him and right now he was angry enough at the Bucking Bronco for bringing Gianna to Japan in the first place.
He looked up to find Tsuna standing next to his desk, holding his lunch in his hands and watching him with a concerned look on his face.
"Are you okay? You've been spacing out all morning."
"I'm fine, Tenth," Hayato lied, putting on his best smile. "Guess I've just been daydreaming too much today."
"Please don't lie to me," Tsuna told him, his tone serious. "You can tell me what's bothering you."
Hayato let out another sigh and turned back toward the window, propping his chin in his hand.
"It's not something you need to be concerned with."
"Would you cut it out, already," Tsuna scolded, causing Hayato to turn back to him and blink in surprise. He'd never heard him sounding so... angry. "We're friends, and friends trust each other and lean on each other when they have problems."
"Tenth... I... I'm sorry," Hayato apologized, knowing he was right. He was so used to dealing with his problems on his own that he wasn't used to asking for advice from others.
Tsuna smiled, trying to cheer up the situation a bit.
"Why don't we go up to the roof for lunch, and you can tell me all about it?" he suggested, holding up his own lunch. Hayato nodded in agreement, and the two of them started on their way out of the classroom together.
"I'll join you!" Yamamoto called, grabbing his own bento and jogging slightly to catch up with them. Hayato growled a bit in annoyance, but Tsuna merely laughed at Yamamoto's eagerness to go with them.
"The more the merrier!" he said, turning to Hayato and giving him a reassuring nod. Hayato hesitated, but nodded in reply to indicate he was okay with the other boy joining them.
"So, tell us about the girl," Yamamoto requested as they made their way up to the roof of the school. "How long have you known her? Are you two close?"
"We met when we were six," Hayato told him, still slightly annoyed by his very presence. "She was my intended bride."
Tsuna and Yamamoto both stopped dead in their tracks as the three of them emerged from the stairwell.
"Y-You two are getting married?" Tsuna asked, stunned.
"I said was," Hayato repeated, turning toward them and pausing to pull out a cigarette and light it. "The arrangements fell through when I dissolved my relationship with my father's family."
"But you still see her," Tsuna remarked, confused.
"Not by choice," he told them, going over to the wall and sitting down with his back against it. They joined him, sitting quietly as he continued smoking for a while, his eyes closed.
"She tracked me down after I ran away from home when I was eight," he told them. "It didn't matter to her than I no longer considered myself my father's son, or that the whole future marriage deal had been called off as a result of that. She still wanted to be my friend. No matter how many times I tried to push her away, no matter how much I insisted I needed to do things on my own for myself – she was always there. She'd take care of me whenever I got hurt in a fight, no matter how much I protested. No matter how many families I got kicked out of, she was always right there, telling me I'd find the right one someday."
"Sounds like she really cares about you," Yamamoto commented, smiling.
She loves me, Hayato thought, closing his eyes once more.
"It's annoying," he said out loud, after a moment. "A girl like her shouldn't be involved in the mafia. She should have just stayed home instead of coming after me the way she always does. You'd think she'd know better, considering what happened to her parents, but she's an idiot and doesn't care."
"What happened to her parents?" Tsuna asked, curious.
"They were killed when she was two years old – car bomb," he replied. "She's been living with her uncle and her cousin ever since."
"She mentioned Dino-san before," Tsuna remembered. "How does she know him?"
"He's like a brother to her. Her uncle from her father's side is Romario, Dino's right-hand man, and her father was also a member of the Cavallone Family."
"She... She's involved with two mafia families?" Tsuna said, voice wavering slightly. "Scary."
"Hardly," Hayato replied with a slight chuckle. "Gianna's one of the gentlest people you'll ever meet. Which is precisely why she should just stay home and keep away from any sort of mafia affairs. She's not equipped to deal with them, physically or mentally."
"Sounds like you care about her, too," Yamamoto told him, poking him with his elbow.
"I do not like her, you baseball freak!" Hayato denied, his cheeks tinging pink.
"You're blushing," Yamamoto pointed out in a teasing, sing-song voice.
"I am not!" Hayato argued as he clenched his hand into a fist, the color of his face darkening.
Tsuna laughed as the two of them continued arguing back and forth, glad that Gokudera's mood had improved a bit. Nearby, Reborn smiled to himself. He had overheard the entire conversation and paid particular attention to the part about what happened to Gianna's parents.
"I knew it," he said to himself as he wandered off to call Dino.
Gokudera receives a surprise visit from Gianna at his home and nearly does something he thinks he will regret.
Hayato walked around in the garden of his father's castle, practicing flicking on the new lighter Shamal had given him to use with the small sticks of dynamite he'd furnished for his young protégé.
It had been almost a year since he gave up the piano in favor of securing his own place within the mafia, and so far he was having a hell of a time proving himself worthy. No matter how convincing he tried to be, the Families he approached in hopes of joining their ranks all laughed at him and told him he was a useless little piano-playing half-breed. He'd find a way, though. Somehow, he would show them all he really was worthy of being in the mafia. Then they'd all beg him for forgiveness for underestimating him and fight over who got to have him in their Family.
"What are you doing here?"
Hayato spun around, mouth set in a firm line and dynamite held ready in his hand, looking for whoever had just addressed him. Instead of seeing one of his father's men looming over him, he found a small group of them standing a dozen or so meters away with their backs to him. They seemed to be surrounding someone smaller, as they were all hunched over slightly, and whoever it was had been backed up against the outside wall of the castle.
"Your kind aren't welcome here," another one of the men said.
"Yeah!" a third chimed in, audibly spitting at their target.
Hayato's eyebrows went up slightly in curiosity, and he took several steps closer to where the men were. Whoever they had cornered was obviously a bad person. Perhaps this was the chance he was waiting for. He could go over and scare off the intruder and then they'd all see how capable a mafioso he could be. A smile broke out on his face as he flicked on the lighter and began bringing it up to the fuse of the stick of dynamite in his hand, preparing to warn the men to move out of the way so they wouldn't be injured in the blast after he threw it at the intruder.
"Gypsy trash," the first voice growled venomously. "You should've been in that car with your parents."
Hayato stopped dead in his tracks.
"Gypsy..." he whispered to himself, eyes wide and blinking as his mind began running at a mile a minute. He remembered part of a conversation he'd had with his father while recovering from his first bout of Bianchi's cooking, where his old man had told him about the little girl he met two days prior in the music room. She was descended from gypsies, and her parents had been killed in their car when she was just a baby.
"Gianna?" he called, alerting his father's men to his presence.
The men turned in his direction, and he caught a glimpse of her between them. She was huddled against the wall, shaking, her eyes shut tightly. The sunlight caught a wetness on her face, and he wasn't sure if she was crying or if it was where the one thug had spit on her. Either way, the sight of her there — looking so small and scared — caused something to ignite within him.
"Leave her alone," he demanded, jaw clenched as he gripped the dynamite in his hand firmly.
"Get lost, pipsqueak," one of the men replied, stepping forward to shoo him away. Hayato lit the tiny stick of dynamite before sticking it in the guy's pants, and he went running for the pond and jumped in to extinguish the flame before any damage could be done.
"Anyone else?" Hayato dared them, pulling another stick out of his pocket. Two of the men advanced on him, intending to each grab him by one arm, but Hayato ducked at the last moment and dodged them, sticking lit sticks of dynamite into their back pockets and sending them running for the pond, as well. He grinned triumphantly, but his gloating was short-lived as the final thug — the leader of the group — came over and picked him up by the collar of his shirt.
"You may be the Boss' kid," he said, bending his face down to Hayato's, "but you don't have a right to tell us what to do. Now scram!"
He dropped him to the ground, and Hayato winced when he landed hard on his backside. He pulled himself back up to his feet, hissing slightly, and called out to the thug as he turned to go back to Gianna.
"You might wanna check your pockets," he said, smirking. The thug patted his pockets, his eyes going wide when he realized the kid had slipped a piece of lit dynamite into the inside pocket of his jacket. He ran off in the direction of his friends, but didn't quite make it and ended up being knocked into the pond by the blast as the dynamite went off.
With the thugs out of the way, Hayato made his way over to Gianna. She was still huddled against the wall, and as he got closer he could see that her pink sundress was torn at the collar and she was clutching something in her trembling hands.
"Are you okay?" he asked, staying back a few feet, hands hanging uselessly at his sides. He really had no idea how to deal with her, but he wanted to be sure she wasn't hurt at all.
Gianna nodded, sniffling a bit, and looked at him as she stood back up to her full height.
"I'm okay," she whispered, bringing a hand up to her face and wiping away her tears. Hayato stuck his hand in his pocket and pulled out his handkerchief, holding it out to her.
"Here," he said, thrusting it a little closer to her so that she would take it. She looked at it blankly for a moment before reaching out to take it from him, her smaller hand brushing against his, and he jerked his hand away suddenly when he felt his cheeks starting to burn.
"Thank you," she told him, smiling a bit as she used the handkerchief to clean off her face, and Hayato averted his eyes from hers and began shuffling his feet in the grass. He nodded, grunting slightly as if to say 'sure,' and Gianna threw her arms around him and hugged him, nearly knocking him over in the process.
Hayato opened his eyes and let out a heavy sigh around the cigarette in his mouth, watching the smoke curl lazily toward the ceiling above him as he laid on the couch in his small apartment. He was surprised that the memory of that day was still so vivid in his mind. Damn Yamamoto and his stupid comment about him caring for Gianna. Now, all he could do was think about her.
Groaning, he sat up and turned to the coffee table, picking up his glasses and putting them on, then grabbed the notebook and pen he had laid out before deciding to rest his eyes for a bit. Reborn said he needed to apologize to Gianna, and she had complained that he never wrote to her, so he figured it would be best to kill two birds with one stone and write a letter of apology to her. The only problem was, he really had no clue what to say besides 'I'm sorry.' He tapped the tip of his pen on the paper, leaving tiny ink dots all over the page, but no matter how hard he thought nothing seemed to sound quite right in his head.
A knock at the door distracted him, and he silently thanked whoever had decided to stop by for saving him from his difficult task at hand. He set the notebook back down and took off his glasses before going to answer the door, momentarily wondering who even knew where he lived, and blinked in surprise when he opened it to find Gianna standing on the other side with that damn smile on her face.
Hayato stared blankly at her for a long moment, his stomach doing flip-flops and his cigarette dangling dangerously from his lips, then he cleared his throat and attempted to say something — only the words died in his throat.
"Hi," she greeted him, shifting awkwardly on her feet.
"Hey," he replied. "How did you know where I live?"
"Bianchi gave me your address," she told him. "She told me you've been living here alone."
Hayato grumbled under his breath, cursing his sister for basically dropping Gianna on his doorstep after he'd already told her to go back to Italy.
"I thought you were going home," he said, remembering their previous conversation.
"I can't get a hold of Dino," she explained, shaking her head. "Look, Hayato... I have nowhere to go. Just let me stay here for tonight and I promise I'll leave in the morning."
He hesitated to let her stay with him. After all, it was only a one-bedroom apartment and his bed wasn't really big enough for two people. Of course, he could always sleep on the couch and let her have the bed. Then there was the part of him which was telling him that if he let her stay for one night, he'd have trouble ever getting her to leave. She had promised she'd go home in the morning, but she could be stubborn sometimes.
"I'll cook you dinner," Gianna added, holding up a grocery bag full of ingredients. Hayato's stomach growled eagerly at the thought of having a home-cooked meal — one that wasn't the poisoned food his sister tried to force on him all the time — instead of the usual instant ramen he ate.
"Alright," he agreed, earning himself another beaming smile from her. "One night. Then you're going back to Italy."
"Of course," she promised with a nod of her head.
He stepped aside to let her into the apartment, and she walked past him with a bounce in her step, heading straight to the kitchen to get started on preparations for dinner.
Hayato sighed contentedly as he lit up a cigarette, feeling fully satiated after eating the meal Gianna had cooked for him. She had surprised him by making him one of his favorites — pasta puttanesca — and it had been expertly cooked, on top of that. She even remembered to add extra olives, just the way he liked it.
"How was it?" she asked as she looked at him expectantly, hands folded neatly in her lap.
"Good," he replied, putting down his lighter on the table. He watched her quietly while he smoked, and she sat there just as quietly, stealing glances at him every so often but mostly keeping her eyes glued on her skirt as she kept bunching it up in her hands.
"Thank you," he added quietly after a moment. "I... It's been a while since I've had anything Italian. Not that I really mind the food here, it's just nice to eat something for a change that reminds me of home."
Gianna gave him a small smile and he reached out toward her, holding his hand palm-up on the table. She hesitated briefly, then put her hand in his, and he let out a sigh as he curled his fingers around hers and began stroking the side of her thumb with his own.
"I'm sorry I upset you earlier today," he told her, muttering around his cigarette. "But you really shouldn't have come here."
Gianna sighed heavily and pulled her hand out of his, returning it to her lap. Hayato flicked the ash off the end of his cigarette into the ashtray on the table, then paused with it halfway to his mouth.
"I know you don't wanna hear it from me, but some serious shit's been going down around here. I'm talking the majorly fucking seriously insane bad kind."
"I know!" Gianna said loudly. "I told you: Dino told me all about it. He told me about Murkuro and his lackeys and what they all did to you and the future Vongola Decimo and everything. I know about all of it, Hayato, and yet I'm here. Doesn't that tell you something?"
"It tells me you're an idiot," he shot back, losing his cool. He had been trying to sweet-talk her into going home, but his temper ended up getting the better of him. He put his cigarette back in his mouth and stood from the coffee table — where they had been sitting as they ate — and began clearing the dishes. Without a word, he took them into the kitchen and started running water in the sink, leaning against the counter with his eyes closed as he tried to calm himself down.
"I can do that," Gianna said quietly, coming up behind him.
"You should rest," Hayato insisted, his own voice just as quiet. "I'm sure you haven't slept since your flight over."
"I'm fine," she told him, attempting to step in front of him in order to do the dishes.
"Dammit, would you just listen to me for once, woman?" he practically yelled, slamming his open hand down on top of the counter. He turned angry green eyes toward her, running his other hand back through his hair in frustration.
"Go lie down and rest," he said after a moment, his tone slightly calmer but still firm. "You look exhausted. I can take care of this."
Gianna nodded and began to make her way into the other room to lie down on the couch, but she suddenly turned back to him and leaned up to kiss him on the cheek. Hayato blinked in surprise and slowly turned his head to look at her, and she smiled a bit shyly at him.
"I accept your apology... from earlier," she told him. He nodded slightly in reply, and she continued on her way to the other room. He continued staring after her for several minutes, his cheeks a brilliant shade of scarlet, and only snapped out of it when some of the ash from his cigarette fell on the back of his hand.
He swore under his breath and quickly brushed away the hot ash, then set to the task of washing the dishes from dinner. All the while, his mind kept drifting back to Gianna. Maybe he was being a bit too hard on her. However, he knew it was the only way he'd get her to go back to Italy, where she belonged. He also knew she probably thought he was acting like an ungrateful ass, and as much as he hated to admit it, that very notion didn't sit well with him. He just wanted what was best for them both, and right now that meant her going home.
With the dishes done, Hayato dried off his hands on a towel and made his way back into the other room to check on Gianna. His eyes fell upon her as soon as he walked in through the doorway. She was curled up on his couch, fast asleep. A satisfied smirk tugged at his lips as he walked over and carefully lowered himself onto the edge of one of the cushions to sit next to her. He'd noticed the slight drooping of her eyelids as they were eating dinner, but he hadn't expected her to fall asleep quite that fast.
Hayato reached out and carefully took the old coin she wore around her neck in his hand, looking it over. The object she'd been clutching in her hands that day so many years ago had been that very same necklace, which he later learned had been passed on for generations in her family. It was the only thing she had to remember her mother by, since she'd only been a toddler when her parents were killed. In a way, he fully understood how precious that necklace was to her. He'd found out too late about his own mother, and now all he had of her were his memories of her and the feeling that she was with him whenever he played the piano.
He gently laid the necklace back down upon her chest and reached up to move away a piece of hair which had gotten stuck to the corner of her mouth. His fingers just barely brushed against her cheek, and she sighed softly in her sleep and mumbled his name. He leaned down over her, bracing his weight with one hand on the back of the couch and the other on the cushion so he wouldn't fall on top of her, and began lowering his lips toward hers. He had almost finished closing the distance between them when she shifted in her sleep, startling him and causing him to sit straight up once more.
"Fuck," he muttered under his breath as he stood up and ran both of his hands back through his hair. He hadn't even realized what he'd been doing, and had nearly kissed her — which was a huge deal, considering the fact he'd never kissed a girl before in his life.
He snatched his lighter off the coffee table and lit up another cigarette, casting a glance back over his shoulder at Gianna's sleeping form. She still looked as small and innocent as she had the day he'd rescued her from being bullied by his father's men, and that was precisely why he wanted her to leave and go back to Italy - but he'd be lying if he said a small part of him didn't want her to stay, too.
Hayato continued watching her sleep for a while, then he clenched his hands into fists at his sides and stalked off to his bedroom, deciding it was best to put a wall and a door between them before he ended up doing something stupid.
A dark omen comes to light and is confirmed with the arrival of the Varia's master swordsman in Namimori and the impending battle over the Vongola Rings.
Beginning with this chapter, the story will sort of start tying into the anime. The next chapter is where it REALLY starts tying in, though. Dino told Reborn that Iemitsu came to Japan with him, so I wanted to actually show that here. Also, tasseomancy is the art of reading tea leaves as a form of fortune-telling.
Hayato stared at the ceiling above his bed, listening to the sound of pots and pans clanging in the tiny kitchen of his apartment. He hadn't been able to sleep much the night before, so he'd been fully aware of Gianna moving about the apartment and making breakfast. He reached for the pack of cigarettes sitting by his pillow and groaned in frustration when he found it empty. He hadn't realized he'd smoked the entire pack over the course of the night.
He crushed the empty cigarette pack in his hand and threw it across the room, then sat up and ran his hands back through his hair with a sigh. He was just glad Gianna had been fast asleep when he almost kissed her the night before. It had taken all night, but he had finally convinced himself that the only reason he came close to doing it was because of Yamamoto's teasing. He also reasoned that even if he had kissed her, it would have only served to prove that he didn't have the sort of feelings for Gianna that Yamamoto seemed to think he did. She was a childhood friend, and nothing more — even if she was in love with him.
Reluctantly, he got up from his bed and began dressing in his school uniform. It was Sunday, and a review day, so he normally wouldn't be going to school. However, he knew that Tsuna was required to be there due to his miserable grades, and it was his duty as the Tenth's right-hand man to be there right alongside him. He took his time buttoning up his shirt and putting on his tie, stalling for as long as he possibly could before he had to face Gianna. He didn't know what he was going to say to her, so the less time he had once he left his room before he needed to leave, the better.
Once he had finished dressing, he checked his school bag to make sure he had all of the supplies he would need — and a healthy stash of dynamite, just in case — before exiting the room. He was immediately met with the smells of breakfast cooking, and his stomach let out an audible growl. Sighing a bit, he tossed his bag onto the couch and went into the kitchen to see if there was anything he could do to help Gianna with the cooking.
"Good morning," she greeted him whrn he entered the kitchen, smiling brightly at him. "I was just about to come get you up."
"I'm up," he told her, shoving his hands into his pockets. "I have to leave soon, though."
"Oh?" she asked, blinking in surprise. "I thought you'd have today off."
"It's a review day," he informed her. "Tenth needs to be there, so I have to be there, too."
"Well," she replied, unable to hide her disappointment at not being able to spend more time with him, "do you at least have time for some breakfast before you go?"
Hayato nodded and wordlessly took a seat at the small table near the stove. Gianna served him a plate full of scrambled eggs and some lightly fried ham cutlets, then poured him a fresh cup of tea before taking a seat across from him.
"Aren't you eating?" he asked her while scooping up a forkful of eggs.
"I haven't cooked mine, yet," she said, pouring a second cup of tea for herself. "Since you're leaving soon, I figured I'd wait. Don't want to waste what little time we have left together standing over a hot stove."
Hayato nodded slightly and swallowed his eggs, then took a drink of tea and cleared his throat.
"Did you get a hold of Dino?" he asked, carefully broaching the subject of her return to Italy.
"Not yet," she admitted, causing him to give her a slightly annoyed look. "I called him, but he didn't answer his phone. I left a message, though, so I should probably be hearing back from him, soon."
"Good," Hayato said, nodding in approval.
"Don't sound so glad to be rid of me or anything," Gianna told him, trying to sound amused. He could tell the sentiment was forced, however.
"If things weren't so dangerous here, I'd be all for you staying," he found himself saying before he even realized it.
"Really?" she asked him, sounding hopeful.
"Yeah," he admitted, then took another drink of his tea. "I haven't eaten this well since I got here."
Gianna smiled, a light blush gracing her cheeks, and he found himself smiling back at her. The two of them sat in a comfortable silence for a moment — him just staring at her as she sat there playing with her teacup — before he finally realized he hadn't been keeping track of time. A glance at his watch told him he was running late to meet Tsuna at his house to walk to school, so he quickly wolfed down as much of the eggs as he could and washed them down with the rest of his tea as he stood from his chair.
"I gotta go," he told Gianna, rushing out to the living room to grab his bag.
"Already?" she asked, standing up and following him.
"Yeah, I'm running late as it is," he said, then turned back to her. "Thank you — for, you know, coming out here to check on me and for cooking for me and stuff."
"You don't need to thank me," she told him, smiling shyly.
Hayato nodded and found himself staring at her again, then he reminded himself that he really needed to be going. Shaking himself back to reality, he made his way to the door, calling over his shoulder to her to have a safe trip home.
"Hayato," she called after him in return, stopping him halfway out the door.
"Yeah?" he asked, turning back to look at her.
"I love you," she told him, and he awkwardly waved at her before leaving the apartment.
Gianna sighed one the door had closed and locked behind him. She hadn't expected him to say he loved her back, but it would've been nice for him to say something in return. Trying not to think about it too much, she went back into the kitchen and began cleaning up his breakfast dishes. As she was taking them to the sink, she happened to look down into his teacup and gasped audibly, dropping the cup to the floor. It shattered on impact, sending ceramic shards scattering about.
Her hands shaking, she set the rest of the dishes in the sink and knelt down to pick up the pieces of the broken teacup. As a gypsy, she had been trained in the art of tasseomancy from a very young age. What she saw when she looked into Hayato's teacup had truly frightened her. He was about to encounter a difficult and dangerous trial. It was a dark omen, and one that gave her an unusually unsettled feeling in her stomach. She knew he would have her to protect him, but there was only so much she could do for him from a distance.
Sighing deeply, she sank down into one of the chairs at the kitchen table, placing the broken pieces of the teacup on her empty breakfast plate. She didn't feel much like eating now, since her stomach was turning itself in knots with worry over Hayato's safety. She had promised him she'd go back to Italy — and even called Dino and left a message to come get her — but now she was beginning to have second thoughts. She was about to get up and go call him to tell him not to bother coming for her when she heard a knock coming from the front door of the apartment.
Rising from her chair, she listened quietly for a moment to make sure she hadn't just imagined the knocking sound, thinking maybe it was just the sound of her heart pounding in fear in her chest reverberating in her own ears. When it sounded again after a minute, she cautiously made her way toward the front door. As far as she knew, the only other person who knew where Hayato was currently living was Bianchi. She supposed it could be her, but at this time of day she assumed the older girl would either still be at Tsuna's having breakfast with her beloved Reborn or at the school trying to foist her latest bento upon poor Hayato. Being careful not to make a sound, she stood on her toes and peeked through the peephole in the door. She was met with the sight of messy blonde hair and dark brown eyes belonging to none other than Dino Cavallone, himself.
"Gianna?" he called, raising his hand to knock on the door once more. Gianna opened the door before he got the chance to do so, however, and so he instead chose to wave at her in greeting.
"Hey," he told her, his usual smile missing from his face.
"What's wrong?" Gianna asked, blinking in surprise. It was odd to see him looking so serious, especially when they happened to meet one another.
"Something's come up," he told her, shoving his hands into the pockets of his leather jacket. "Can we come in?"
"We?" Gianna repeated, confused.
"Greetings, Miss Macchiarolo," came a deep, masculine voice from down the hall. Gianna stepped slightly through the doorway and looked in the direction of the voice, her eyes going wide when she saw the man it belonged to.
"Sir," she addressed him, her head bowing respectfully.
"Please," Iemitsu Sawada said, chuckling good-naturedly as he continued approaching them, "if anyone here should be showing their respect, it is I."
He stopped before her and took one of her hands in his, bending down to grace the backs of her fingers with a kiss, then stood back to his full height and smiled at her.
"It is good to see you again," he told her. "How has your uncle been?"
"He's well," Gianna told him. "But I'm sure you didn't come here to make smalltalk about my family. So why have you come here?"
Her eyes moved from him back to Dino, and the head of the Cavallone Famiglia cleared his throat a bit before wordlessly ushering her back into the apartment. Iemitsu followed them inside, closing the door behind himself, and stood with his back against the door while Dino led her over to the sofa in the living room and sat down with her.
"Something big is about to happen," he told her. "The Varia are coming to challenge Tsuna's Family."
"The Varia?" Gianna said, her voice squeaking slightly in surprise. "What? Why?"
"Nono has decided that Xanxus is a more qualified candidate for Vongola Decimo," Iemitsu told her, just barely concealing his own distaste at the thought of the leader of the Varia taking the position that had been promised to his son.
"I thought Nono already agreed with you that Tsuna was the best possible candidate?" Gianna asked as she turned to face him.
"He changed his mind, apparently," Iemitsu replied. "It's all rather unsettling, if you ask me. Which is why I have a shadow back in the homeland keeping an eye on things for me."
"So you're telling me the Varia are here in Japan, right now?" she asked, wringing her hands in her lap.
"Only Squalo," Dino said. "He's here looking for these."
He pulled a small box out of his jacket and Gianna's eyes went wide once more.
"Are those what I think they are?" she asked, reaching out and gently running her fingers over the crest embossed upon the lid of the box.
"Yes," Iemitsu replied. "Although Squalo doesn't know Dino here has them. He thinks Basil is carrying them."
"So let me see if I understand things," Gianna said, returning her hand to her lap as Dino placed the box back within the inner pocket of his jacket. "You pulled your half of the Vongola Rings out early in order to keep them from falling into Xanxus' hands, then made duplicates and gave them to Basil to use as a diversion while Dino delivers the real rings to Tsuna?"
"Yes," Iemitsu replied.
"And what happens if Squalo gets his hands on the duplicate rings? He's sure to know they're fake."
"They were extremely well-made," Iemitsu assured her. "But it will only be a matter of time before he and the rest of the Varia figure out they've got counterfeits on their hands."
"And then what?"
"Then," Iemitsu paused, sighing a bit, "they will likely show up and try to take the real rings from Tsuna and his Guardians."
"Hayato's one of the Guardians, isn't he?" Gianna asked, her eyes meeting Dino's in a silent plea that he tell her the truth.
"Yes," Dino confirmed, nodding slightly. "He's been chosen as one of the six."
Gianna stood up and started walking away from them, her breath catching in her throat. Now it all seemed to make sense. The dark omen was foretelling the coming of the Varia and the battle that would likely ensue over the rings. She knew the Varia were the most skilled assassins in the Vongola Family, and some of the best in the entire mafia. While Hayato had grown more capable as a fighter over the years, she had her doubts that he would be able to survive an attack by them.
"I want to stay here," she said, her back still to them.
"No, Gianna," Dino argued, standing from the sofa and going over to her. "I'm only telling you all this because I wanted you to be aware of what's going on."
"Please, Dino," she requested, turning to him. "You and I both know what's going to happen. If I'm not here, Hayato might..."
Her voice broke and Dino sighed heavily, running his hands back through his hair. He hated to see her so upset, but even more than that he hated the idea of her getting caught up in things and getting herself hurt or killed by the Varia.
"I don't want to lose him," Gianna said, her voice barely more than a whisper.
"If I may," Iemitsu spoke up, approaching the two of them. "I think it would be a good idea if she did stay."
"What?" Dino said, turning his head to look at the other man in disbelief. "Do you have any idea how dangerous it will be?"
"I do," Iemitsu replied, nodding. "Which is exactly why I think having her around would be beneficial. Think about it, Dino: Tsuna and the others will need to be in top form when the Varia arrive."
"And you expect her to be able to make sure they all are?" Dino wondered.
"I can do it," Gianna assured him.
"Dino, please," she cut him off. "I'm not a child any more. I want to do this. I need to do this."
"What's gotten into you?" Dino asked, eying her a bit suspiciously. "I've never seen you this desperate."
"I... This morning, I was cleaning up the breakfast dishes and I saw something in Hayato's tea leaves," she told him. "He's going to be in danger."
"When?" Iemitsu asked, wondering if she could tell them how long it would be before the Varia realized they had been tricked and came back to challenge Tsuna and the others for their halves of the Vongola Rings.
"I don't know," she replied with a shake of her head. "Usually, though, tasseomancy readings are rather current. It could happen today or tomorrow — but not likely any more than a day or two in the future."
"The Varia wouldn't be able to tell the fakes that quickly, would they?" Dino asked Iemitsu.
"No," he replied confidently, then turned to Gianna. "It's likely that the danger you saw is Squalo. Perhaps the two of you should go looking for Gokudera and the others to assure their safety."
"And what are you going to do?" Dino asked him.
"I'm going to go home to see my wife," he replied, grinning.
"I'll get my things," Gianna said as she began rushing around the living room, gathering up everything she had brought along with her and putting it back into her shoulder bag.
"Gianna, I'm still not sure this is a good idea," Dino protested, following her around.
"You heard Iemitsu," she told him. "Tsuna and the others will need to be in top form. I'll be of much more help here than I could possibly be back in Italy."
"And what if the Varia decide to attack you?" he asked her.
"They can't touch me," she reminded him. "It's against the accordance of the Family Alliance."
"Do you really think they care?" Dino replied. "Gianna, I'm going to be too busy helping Tsuna and the others get ready to deal with the Varia to watch over you and protect you."
"I'll watch over her, Dino," Iemitsu promised. "After all, I'm the one who insisted she should stay."
Dino sighed in defeat and looked at Gianna. No matter what he said, neither one of them was going to listen to him. He would just have to trust that Iemitsu would be able to keep his word and protect her in case the Varia decided not to honor the code of the Family Alliance.
"Gokudera isn't going to like this one bit," he remarked, just knowing the bomber was going to feel the same way he did about her staying in Japan during such a crucial and dangerous time.
Dino and Gianna frantically search for Tsuna and the others, hoping to get to them before Squalo does.
This chapter marks the official integration of the story with the anime storyline.
Dino stalked out of Gokudera's apartment building, his hands shoved in his pockets and a scowl on his face. Gianna followed closely behind him, along with Iemitsu, who was giving her his private contact number in case she should need to get a hold of him for anything. Dino still didn't like the idea of her sticking around for the duration of whatever battles would take place over the Vongola Rings, but she had made it quite clear that she had absolutely no intention of listening to him and returning to the safety of her family's estate in Italy.
"Boss," Romario greeted him with a bow as one of the other men opened the back door of the black car that was waiting for him. He then turned and saw his niece approaching and opened the passenger side door of the red sports car he would be using to drive her to the airport so she could board the jet that was currently waiting to take her back home. To his surprise, however, she got into the black car behind Dino.
"Boss?" he called, going over and bending down to duck his head in through the open car door. "What's going on? I thought I was taking Gianna to the airport."
"Change of plans," Dino replied, refusing to elaborate any further. Instead, he merely glared out the window, avoiding looking at Gianna sitting next to him on the seat.
"I'll be staying here," Gianna told her uncle firmly. "Hayato and the others may need me."
"Take Iemitsu home to his wife," Dino ordered his right-hand man without looking at him. "We'll go ahead and check on Tsuna at the school."
Romario hesitated, looking from the back of Dino's head to his niece. She looked away from him, unable to meet his eyes, and instead chose to stare at her hands folded in her lap.
"Yes, Boss," he said after a moment, giving a single nod before standing up and closing the car door.
"Drive," Dino ordered the man sitting behind the wheel, and the car slowly pulled out into the street and began making its way across town to Namimori Middle School.
Gianna nervously chewed on her bottom lip and cast a sideways glance at Dino. He was still staring out the window, refusing to look at her. She opened her mouth to apologize to him, but wasn't sure what she should say and instead closed her mouth and looked silently out her own window, as well.
"I'm not angry with you," he said after a long silence.
"You're not?" she asked, turning to look at him again.
"No," he assured her, finally turning his head and looking at her. "I'm just worried. This isn't some little kid's game, Gianna. These guys are seriously dangerous."
"You think I don't know that?" she asked him. "I'm in a mafia family, too, Dino. Hell, I'm pretty sure my uncle has asked Nono for their services once or twice."
"Then you know that they'll kill you if you get in their way," he told her, looking at her pointedly.
"I'm not stupid, Dino," she replied, sounding a bit offended. "It's not like I'm staying here with the intention of trying to fight these guys. I'm merely support."
"He still doesn't know about you, does he?" he asked her, referring to Gokudera. "About your gift."
"No," Gianna said, breaking eye contact and turning to stare out her own window. "He doesn't know, and I intend to keep it that way for as long as possible."
"He'll figure it out, eventually."
"He hasn't figured it out, yet," she reminded him.
"Why not just tell him?" Dino suggested. "I really don't see why you insist on keeping it a secret."
"It's better for him if he doesn't know," Gianna replied. "In fact, you shouldn't even know. It's only by accident that you do."
"And Iemitsu? It sounded like he knows about it, too."
"Part of his job is to know everything he can about everyone Nono comes into contact with," Gianna reminded him. "He actually had me take care of Basil while he was training him."
"I didn't know that," Dino remarked, genuinely surprised.
"There's a lot about me you don't know, Dino," she told him, smiling slightly.
Dino sighed a bit. "I don't know why you Macchiarolos insist on always being so secretive."
"It's a matter of survival," Gianna said, turning to look out the window once more. "Trusting outsiders with our secrets hasn't always worked out the best for us."
"Like what happened during the massacre?" Dino asked quietly, carefully broaching the subject that he knew was still a bit of a sore spot for her Family.
Gianna had heard the stories all her life. Several generations ago, a rival Family had hunted the Macchiarolos, seeing them and their abilities as evil. The surviving members went underground, living in secret until the time of Vongola Primo. Since then, it had been a gradual re-emergence for the Macchiarolo Family. Many of them were still overly distrustful of outsiders, to the point that they refused to go out in public. Gianna's mother, however, had never been afraid. She embraced the outside world, so much so that she fell in love with and eventually married a man from another mafia Family.
"Hmm?" she muttered, turning to look at Dino.
"Didn't you hear what I just said?" he asked, laughing a little.
"No, sorry," she apologized. "I was just thinking about my mother."
"Oh," Dino replied, a sad look passing over his face. He had known both of her parents, and though he had only been a child when they died he had been old enough to remember them. Gianna, on the other hand, had to go largely upon what others said to her about them. In a way, he understood how she felt. His mother had died when he was young, too, and his father had abandoned him in his grief, leaving him to be raised by his maternal grandfather.
"I asked if you didn't trust Gokudera," Dino repeated after a moment of silence had passed between them.
"I do trust Hayato," Gianna assured him.
"So why not just tell him, them?"
Gianna sighed, leaning her head back against the seat of the car.
"It's for his own safety," she said, closing her eyes as she spoke. "Just... Please, don't question me any further about this. I'll tell him when I feel the time is right, okay?"
"Alright," Dino reluctantly agreed.
They sat in silence the rest of the way to the school, each of them thinking about the upcoming battles and how they would be affected by them. Dino worried about Tsuna, the boy he saw so much of his younger self in, while Gianna continued to worry about Hayato. She knew all about Squalo from Dino, who had gone to high school with him, and she knew how insane he was. The man had cut off his own hand in his quest to become the world's greatest swordsman. She didn't want to think about what he might be willing to do in order to get the Vongola Rings.
"We're here," announced the driver, pulling them both out of their dark thoughts. They shared a look with one another before getting out of the car, and Gianna waited by her door for Dino to come around from the other side.
"Why don't you stay here while I go in and check on them?" he suggested.
"No," Gianna refused, shaking her head. "Hayato's in there, too. I need to see that he's safe."
Dino nodded and the two of them made their way into the school. The hallways were empty and quiet when they entered, the few students who were there already hard at work on their remedial lessons. Dino led the way to Tsuna's classroom, stopping outside and looking in through the window on the door when they reached their destination.
"Shit," he muttered under his breath, his brown eyes growing slightly wider.
"What is it?" Gianna asked, trying to push him aside to see for herself.
"They're not here," Dino told her.
"What?" Gianna said, panic starting to grip her.
"Oh ho! What have we here?" came the voice of Shamal as he approached them.
"Shamal," Gianna addressed the doctor, turning to look at him. "Do you know where Hayato and the others went?"
"Huh?" Shamal said, stopping in his tracks with a confused look on his face. "How would I know? When Hayato didn't show up this morning, I just assumed he was still in bed with you."
Gianna's cheeks turned bright red at what he was insinuating. Dino also blushed, sputtering slightly as he turned to address her.
"Y-You and Gokudera are--"
"No," Gianna cut him off. "We're not. Shamal is just a pervert with an over-active imagination."
"Don't tell me you haven't at least thought about doing it," Shamal teased, shaking a scolding finger at her.
"Not that it's any of your business, but Hayato and I haven't even kissed, yet."
"I see," Shamal remarked, blinking in surprise. A moment later, his shock dissolved back into his usual playful grin. "So that's why you refused to let me kiss you. You're saving your first kiss for Hayato."
Gianna's blush deepened once more, and Dino cleared his throat to get the other man's attention.
"Look, it's really important that we find Tsuna and the others," he told him. "So if you see or hear from any of them, make sure you call me immediately."
Shamal's expression dissolved from his usual playful demeanor to the hard look of a trained killer.
"Something serious must be going on if you're that desperate to find them."
"The Varia are after the Rings," Dino explained, keeping his voice down.
Shamal simply nodded. He had once been offered a spot in the Varia Assassination Squad, and he'd been on the receiving end of their wrath a time or two, so he knew first-hand just how dangerous they were. Tsuna and the others couldn't possibly hope to stand against them at their current skill level.
"Come on, Gianna," Dino said, making his way back down the hall toward the exit of the school. Gianna lagged behind, taking a step toward Shamal.
"You don't think they stand a chance if they're confronted, do you?" she asked him, her voice solemn.
"No, I don't," Shamal answered her honestly.
"Gianna, let's go!" Dino called impatiently from down the hall. "The longer we dawdle here, the more likely Squalo is to find them before we do."
Gianna hurried to catch up to Dino, remaining a few steps behind him as they silently made their way out of the school and back to the car. Dino simply ordered the driver to go once they were seated in the back seat, unsure where Tsuna and the others would be if not at school.
"Should we try his house?" Gianna suggested, looking at him hopefully.
"If they were there, we would have heard so from Iemitsu," Dino pointed out, frowning and staring out the window at the buildings passing by.
"That's true," Gianna replied, then fell silent once more. She chewed nervously on her bottom lip as they drove aimlessly around the city, each of them looking out their window with the hope of catching a glimpse of Tsuna or one of his friends. Gianna felt like she wasn't of much use in the search, since she had only seen two of Hayato's new friends, and that had only been very briefly the previous day.
"What if we don't don't find them in time?" she quietly voiced her fears after driving around town for almost an hour, drawing Dino's attention to her. He reached out and took one of her hands in his, giving it a gentle squeeze, and she turned to look at him. Dino wanted to pull her into his arms as soon as he saw how distraught she looked, but he stopped himself.
"Everything will be alright," he assured her. "We're going to find them."
Gianna nodded slightly and Dino reached out to tuck a strand of hair behind her ear with a sigh. This was another reason he hadn't wanted her to stay in Japan. She would have been worried enough about Gokudera back home, but being there and actually being able to see the sort of things he was getting himself involved in was bound to take even more of an emotional toll on her.
The driver suddenly slammed on the brakes and Dino raised an arm and caught Gianna as they both slid forward on the seat. He was about to yell at the man, demanding to know why he had stopped when he told him to keep driving, but the driver turned around and pointed to something outside the car before he could protest.
Dino moved to sit between the two seats in the front of the car and looked out the windscreen, following the driver's line of sight. Smoke was rising in the distance – the kind of smoke that resulted from igniting gunpowder.
"What is it?" Gianna asked, sliding up next to him.
"An explosion," Dino informed her. "Looks like it's about two blocks over. Get us closer."
"Yes, sir," the driver replied, then put the car back into gear and started driving in the direction of the smoke.
"It appears to have come from the shopping district," Dino told Gianna as he settled back against the seat once more, pulling his phone out of his pocket and dialing as he spoke. "Luckily, my men are staying in a hotel not too far from there."
Gianna nodded silently and listened while he spoke to one of his men – likely Romario – and told him to bring several of the others to the shopping district. He instructed them to look for the smoke, but not to engage anyone until he arrived.
"What if someone's hurt?" she asked, placing a hand on his arm.
"I will deal with Squalo when I get there," Dino informed his subordinate on the phone, ignoring her concern. He ended the call and turned to her, his face serious.
"Gianna, listen to me," he told her sternly. "I know you care about Gokudera. I know that you are going to want to help him – especially if he's hurt. But I don't want you running in there right away, understand?"
"I know Squalo," he reminded her, cutting her off before she could protest. "I know what he's capable of and believe me when I say he doesn't give a shit if you're a girl or a member of one of the allied Families. If you get in the way of what he wants, he will take you out. So, please, just trust me and do as I say, alright?"
"Okay," Gianna agreed after a moment.
"I'm going to confront him," he explained to her. "As soon as his attention is fixed solely on me, and if there is an opening you can get through without being seen, then and only then do I want you to go check on Gokudera and the others if they're hurt."
"Got it," she replied, nodding her head just as the car came to a stop.
"It should be just around the corner from here, sir," the driver informed them.
"Good. Let's go," Dino said before opening his door and stepping out of the car, Gianna following closely behind. He reached into his coat as he made his way to the courtyard where the smoke was coming from, pulling out his whip in preparation for his confrontation with his old 'friend.' He could hear the nearly-incoherent yelling of Squalo getting louder with each step they took in his direction, and Dino winced a bit at the noise.
"Boss!" Romario called as he approached them with Ivan and three others.
"Romario," Dino greeted him once they met up just before rounding the corner of the building. "Could you see anything on your way here?"
"As far as I could tell, Gokudera and Yamamoto are currently unconscious," Romario reported.
"Hayato," Gianna gasped, taking a step toward the courtyard. Dino quickly grabbed her arm and stopped her.
"Remember what I told you," he reminded her. "Stay here. Wait for me to get Squalo's attention and then go to him."
Gianna opened her mouth to protest, but he silenced her with a look and she merely nodded in agreement.
"Be careful," she told him. Dino smiled at her in return.
"I always am," he said, then turned to his men. "Let's go."
The six of them rounded the corner of the building and entered the courtyard, Dino taking the lead. The fingers of his right hand flexed around the handle of his whip, his left hand wrapping the length of it around his arm from his elbow to the palm of his hand. As they approached, he saw Tsuna holding the box containing the fake Vongola Rings in his hands. His eyes were shut, his entire body shaking as he braced himself for a blow from Squalo's sword. Basil was sitting next to him, looking considerably worse for wear after having been the bait luring Squalo all over Japan for the last two days.
"I see you haven't changed," Dino called out as he and his men approached, "Superbi Squalo."
Squalo turned to see who was addressing him and found Dino standing with his men flanking him on either side, his whip held at the ready before him.
"Getting so serious against children," he continued speaking, refusing to look at the other man out of disgust. "Aren't you ashamed?"
Dino looked up at Squalo, his brown eyes full of fury. It was true that Squalo was a member of the Varia Assassination Squad, but these were children. Even assassins had to draw the line there. He knew it didn't matter to Squalo, though. Old, young, male, female – it made no difference to him, so long as he got a good fight out of it.
"Dino-san!" Tsuna called out, relieved that his 'big brother' was there to help them. Squalo looked from him to Dino and back again, surprised that the kid knew who he was.
"If you insist on continuing this tasteless little game," Dino told Squalo, his eyes burning with hatred, "I'll take you on."
Squalo remained silent for a moment, weighing his options. Gianna watched with baited breath from her hiding place, waiting for her moment to get in there and tend to Hayato and his friend, who were lying out on the ground a few feet away from each other. Seeing him turn to fully face Dino, she ducked low and quickly sneaked past the tables set up in the courtyard, stopping behind one that was no more than ten feet from where Hayato was lying on the ground. He opened one eye slightly when he heard her approach, then winced in pain and closed his eyes again.
"Gi... ana... What are you... doing here?" he groaned. Gianna carefully came out around the table she had been hiding behind and went over to him, kneeling beside him and placing a hand on his chest as she assessed his injuries.
"You're going to be okay," she told him with a relieved smile, then checked over her shoulder. Squalo was still carrying on about taking on Dino himself, so Gianna took the opportunity to go over to where the dark-haired boy was lying in order to help him. She placed her hands on his chest, feeling it barely rising with his breath, and closed her eyes as she concentrated on his heartbeat.
A sudden explosion from somewhere behind her sent her sprawling over the boy's body, and she heard Dino yelling Tsuna's name along with the sound of several pairs of footsteps approaching. She lifted herself back up and found herself coming face-to-face with her Uncle Romario, who was kneeling next to her with his hand on her shoulder.
"Are you alright?" he asked her, and Gianna nodded.
"Soft as always, Bucking Bronco!" Squalo yelled from the roof of the building in front of them, drawing their attention upward. "For your sake, I'll leave their lives in your hands. But I'll take these with me!"
Gianna made sure to keep a blank expression on her face when Squalo held up the box containing the fake Vongola Rings, but all the while her insides were churning. Now that he had them, it was only a matter of time before the Varia discovered the deception and came after Tsuna and his Guardians with renewed vigor. As soon as he took off with the rings, Basil attempted to go after him and ended up collapsing from a combination of his injuries and sheer exhaustion. Yamamoto began to stir on the ground, and Gianna stood up as he sat up, rubbing the back of his head.
She half-listened to the conversation going on between Reborn and Tsuna while Romario helped Yamamoto up into a kneeling position, turning her back on them to return to Hayato. Ivan was already there, helping him to his feet.
"Don't," he snapped, swatting her hand away when she tried to reach for him. Gianna slowly lowered her hand back to her side, staring into his stormy green eyes. She could see in those eyes that he wasn't angry at her, but at himself.
"Boss, they're not in good shape," Romario said behind her as he helped Yamamoto stand.
Dino sighed, kneeling down to lift an unconscious Basil in his arms.
"Yeah... Tsuna, let's talk later. We need to take care of their wounds first."
His eyes met Gianna's briefly, and she nodded slightly in agreement. Tsuna rushed over to his friends, and she smiled when Hayato immediately expressed his relief that the future Vongola Decimo was safe.
"Are you two alright?" Tsuna asked, his youthful face lined with concern.
"I'm sorry," Hayato immediately apologized, clenching his hand into a fist. "I'll defeat him the next time I see him."
"Maybe he's still in the area," Yamamoto suggested.
"You two can go home," Reborn told them, surprising them both. "You must have realized it from the last fight: At your current strength, you'll just be in the way."
Tsuna immediately protested his tutor's harsh words, and Gianna let her gaze move back to Hayato's face. The anger from before had disappeared completely, and instead she saw a disappointment she knew well. It was the same look he'd had every time he was turned down by a mafia family, the same one he had each time he was laughed at and belittled for being different. She reached out and placed a hand on his arm, wordlessly offering him comfort the way she had so many times before. He turned to look at her, staring at her silently for a moment before speaking.
"Why are you still here?" he asked her quietly.
She considered telling him the truth: That she was staying until the mess with the Varia and the Vongola Rings was over and done with, but she couldn't bring herself to do it. He was going to have enough on his mind without having to worry about her well-being.
"Gianna!" Dino called ahead of her. She looked over to find him still holding Basil in his arms, nodding for her to come along with him and his men. She turned back to Hayato, hesitating, then began walking backwards toward Dino as she spoke to him.
"Dino came to get me and he got word that Tsuna was in danger, so I came with him to make sure you were alright," she told him, knowing it wasn't a complete lie. "Don't worry. I'm still going back to Italy."
She turned around and jogged a bit to catch up to Dino, and looked back over her shoulder at Hayato once she reached his side. He had already turned and began walking away, most likely heading for his apartment. Gianna sighed and turned back around, hoping that he didn't let this defeat get the better of him, lest he end up with more than a few scrapes and bruises next time.